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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While it may seem counter-intuitive, teaching is an amazing way of learning -- I learned more about programming by teaching it to others than I did by actually writing code. Different developers have different (sometimes way different) ideas about what is good code, and by discussing it with them, you grow (even if you were right in the first place). It also helps solidify your own arguments by forcing you to actually think them through and explain them in ways that others can understand.

Kent Sharkey



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Blog Statistics

Dates
First entry - 6/27/2003
Most recent entry - 5/19/2017

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Posts - 2429
Comments - 2551
Hits - 1,951,937

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Entries/day - 0.48
Comments/entry - 1.05
Hits/day - 384

Updated every 30 minutes. Last: 3:37 AM Pacific


  12:38 PM

Boy, it's been some kinda weeks—we're gearing up for the annual conference at work, plus my wife and I cleared and vacated the house for five days so the floors could be redone. The words keep coming, tho, even if they have to be squeezed in late. Hence a larger edition than normal today.

The first new-to-me term this time is patriot correctness, which I heard on an episode of This American Life, where Ira Glass defined it as …
… like political correctness, but the right-wing version of that. Like if you say that there is no flood of immigrants coming across the border, well, that is just out of bounds. That's not something you say. You are not patriotically correct.
The earliest reference to patriot correctness that I found was from 2011, in a piece where the author (Tim Wise) says "[something] that we might label 'patriot correctness.'" I would not be surprised if there are earlier cites. When I searched for this term, I found that it's also known as conservative correctness, which Michael Fauntroy says he coined in 2004.

Both terms are angry ones. They're intended to be negative, a reaction by left-leaning people to having the term political correctness thrown in their face, and kind of by implication, a term to indicate that others in the political spectrum have a version of "correctness" as well.

Since we're on a kind of socio-political tack today, I also have a term that might actually be a brand-new coinage: cistrionics. This appeared on the Twitter feed of Foz Meadows:

(In case you can't read the image, it says: "I'm officially coining a new word for when cis people get freaked out about trans issues: cistrionics.")

This is a blend. The cis part is short for cisgender, defined as "noting or relating to a person whose gender identity corresponds with that person's biological sex assigned at birth." The second part, trionics, is from histrionics, meaning exaggerated speech or action for effect. As a word, the blend works for me because of the close overlap between cis- and the original his-. I'll leave to others the question of the term's usefulnesss.

And today only, a third term, also a blend: retrobituary. This is a term that's used for a regular feature on the Mental Floss site that's like an obituary—it recounts the interesting life of someone—but it's about someone who's long dead, hence "retro." The word has been around for a while; I found a piece from 2005 on the YesButNoButYes site, where they have Retro-bituaries (as they spell it) for TV characters. On this site, the term is used more specifically about TV actors whose death the folks at YesButNoButYes (specifically, "aquaman") missed.

Anyway, here are some examples from the Mental Floss site:On to surprising etymology. For some reason my wife and I ended up talking recently about bazookas, the portable rocket launchers. That's a word that has to have an interesting history, right? It sounds so … not normal English.

There's a kind of two-part story here, it seems. The weapon is named for a musical instrument invented and played by the comedian Bob Burns, who was active in the 1930s and 1940s. In a video from the 40s, Bob Burns confirms this, and hey, plays the original bazooka, which is like a trombone:



I believe that this is not the first time that G.I. slang was based on popular culture of the time. (Note to self: go find some examples, ya lazy bum.)

So this is as much as some sources say. The second part of the story is where Burns got the name for his instrument. The OED (which doesn't mention Burns or his instrument) says that bazooka is derived from bazoo, American regional slang for "mouth," as in this great example from 1932: "His mother was always blowing off her bazoo about him being her blue-eyed baby." They note that bazoo might be related to the Dutch word bazuin, meaning "trumpet," and suggest a relationship to the word kazoo. So my instinct that this is not-normal English seems kind of correct, I guess.

A bonus etymology this week is for algorithm, which gets an excellent treatment by Mark Liberman on the Language Log. Go read it.

Like this? Read all the Friday words.

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