About

I'm Mike Pope. I live in the Seattle area. I've been a technical writer and editor for over 30 years. I'm interested in software, language, music, movies, books, motorcycles, travel, and ... well, lots of stuff.

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If you have two choices, choose the harder. If you're trying to decide whether to go out running or sit home and watch TV, go running. Probably the reason this trick works so well is that when you have two choices and one is harder, the only reason you're even considering the other is laziness. You know in the back of your mind what's the right thing to do, and this trick merely forces you to acknowledge it.

Paul Graham



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Blog Statistics

Dates
First entry - 6/27/2003
Most recent entry - 2/15/2019

Totals
Posts - 2547
Comments - 2596
Hits - 2,119,067

Averages
Entries/day - 0.45
Comments/entry - 1.02
Hits/day - 371

Updated every 30 minutes. Last: 2:37 AM Pacific


  07:35 AM

Friday words! Two new ones (to me), one fun etymology.

The first new word today is like-farming, which a Facebook friend just alerted me to. Like-farming is a scam in which an ill-intentioned user posts a story on Facebook with the idea of getting a lot of Likes and shares. (Think puppies or product giveaways or sob-story appeals.) The idea is that the many Likes help the story get wide circulation. When the post has garnered some critical mass of Likes, the scammer changes the story. Any new users who are attracted to the story end up seeing product promotion or something worse, like links to a malicious site. You can read more about this in a recent article in USA Today. It's new to me, but the term has been around since at least 2012.

My second new term today is a German word, but I guess it's used in English: Witzelsucht. (Capped in German for sure, inconsistently in English.) I learned about this because someone on Facebook linked to an article whose title pretty much defines the term: "The curse of the people who can't stop making puns." It's a recognized medical condition associated with brain damage in which the, um, sufferer is compelled to make puns and jokes "in socially inappropriate situations," to quote Wikipedia. The word translates from German as "joking" (witzeln=to make witticisms) and "desire" or "addiction" (sucht=seeking). So next time someone you know cannot stop making jokes, check their frontal lobe for lesions.

For surprising etymology this week we have adrenaline, the hormone, as in "Reading about etymology gives me an adrenaline rush." (Haha) Adrenaline is thusly named because it is produced by the adrenal glands, fair enough. But where did the name of the gland come from? Well, the adrenal glands are on top of the kidneys. Ad means "at" or "about", renal means "of or pertaining to the kidneys". Apparently the adrenal glands were named via a process something like this:

Anatomist 1: And these things are the kidneys.
Anatomist 2: What about these glands stuck on them?
Anatomist 1: Not sure about those. How about we just call them the "on-the-kidneys glands"?
Anatomist 2: It will sound better in Latin, you realize.
Anatomist 1: Good point. "Adrenal glands" it shall be.

(Note: Any resemblance between this dialog and real word origins would be … astonishing.)

Like this? Read all the Friday words.

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