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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As a college instructor, I am long past thinking that students will heed my advice. God knows I've tried. So with each new class I limit myself to one saying, the most useful one I know: "Eighty percent of success is showing up." What most students don't know is that showing up will be the hardest part about college.

Brian Burrell



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Blog Statistics

Dates
First entry - 6/27/2003
Most recent entry - 3/10/2017

Totals
Posts - 2420
Comments - 2551
Hits - 1,935,766

Averages
Entries/day - 0.48
Comments/entry - 1.05
Hits/day - 385

Updated every 30 minutes. Last: 9:43 PM 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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