February 16, 2007


laconic: /luh-kon'-ic/ adj.
1 usually capitalized, archaic : of or relating to Laconia or the Laconians : Spartan
2 a : speaking or writing with Spartan brevity : curt, terse, undemonstrative
• "laconic, these Indians -- Weston La Barre"
• "an antiseptic romance between Jones and a laconic young widow -- Martin Levin"
2 b : spoken, written, or expressed briefly or sententiously : pithy
• "the tone of the commentary laconic and masculine -- Times Literary Supplement"
• "a laconic derby-hatted interlude that stops the show -- Henry Hewes"
Etymology: Latin Laconicus, from Greek Lakomacrnikos, from Lakomacrn Laconian + -ikos -ic]

LACONIC indicates shortness to the point of seeming brusque, unconcerned, or mysterious
• "again he paused longer, and raised his eyebrows still more. "It is sold, sir," was again his laconic reply -- Bram Stoker"
"the laconic announcement was made ... that the sentences of death had been carried out -- Manchester Guardian Weekly"
--"laconic." Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002. http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com (16 Feb. 2007).

Willard R. Espy, Amiable Logophile, Comments:
Laconic. Sparta was also known as Laconia, and Spartans as Laconians. Because the Laconians were sparing in speech and emotion, laconic means "terse; pithy; sententious."
A foreign conqueror sent a message: "If I come to Laconia, not one brick will stand on another." The laconic reply was "IF."
--O Thou Improper, Thou Uncommon Noun: An Etymology of Words That Once Were Names. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1978.
Bloggin' John Comments:
Laconic 's O.K.


February 13, 2007


Fletcherize v. : to reduce (food) to tiny particles especially by prolonged chewing

Usage: Often Capitalized

Etymology: Horace Fletcher + English -ize--Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002. http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com (13 Feb. 2007).

Bloggin' John Asks:

Q: How many times did Horace Fletcher prescribe that we chew . . . I mean Fletcherize each piece of food for good digestion?
A: According to Wikipedia: 32 times.

Q: Who was Horace Fletcher, and what else did he recommend for healthful eating?
A: Once again, we turn to Wikipedia:

Horace Fletcher (1849-1919) was an American health-food faddist of the Victorian era who earned the nickname "The Great Masticator," by arguing that food should be chewed thirty two times — or, about 100 times per minute — before being swallowed: "Nature will castigate those who don't masticate." He invented elaborate justifications for his claim.

Fletcher and his followers recited and followed his instructions religiously, even claiming that liquids, too, had to be chewed in order to be properly mixed with saliva. Fletcher promised that "Fletcherizing," as it became known, would turn "a pitiable glutton into an intelligent epicurean."

Fletcher also advised against eating before being "Good and Hungry", or while angry or sad. He promoted his theories for decades on lecture circuits, and became a millionaire. Upton Sinclair, Henry James and John D.Rockefeller were among those who gave the fad a try. Henry James and Mark Twain were visitors to his palazio in Venice.

Along with "Fletcherizing", Fletcher and his supporters advocated a low-protein diet as a means to health and well-being.

But by 1919, when Fletcher, 68, died of a heart attack, his diet plan was already being replaced by the next approach to dieting championed by Irving Fisher and Eugene Lyman Fisk: counting calories.--Wikipedia (13 Feb 2007)

Don't forget, now: 32 times. Enjoy your next meal!--B'n'J'n


February 12, 2007


channelfido: n. an official, necessarily ineffective, who at all times scrupulously follows proper channels . . . a word that first appeared in Personal Administration in 1950 (194).
--Dickson, Paul. Dickson's Word Treasury. New York: Wiley and Sons, 1982.

Embedded within the term channelfido is the concept of a loyal but effete and narrow-minded executive working within a corporate setting. The word channel (which derives from the French word for pipe, thus narrowing our understanding of channel just a bit more) brings to mind the term "back channels," channels that are unseen by the public and that consist of a closed system of tightly fitted routes of authority set in a preordained corporate alignment. Inside the system of channels walks a dog, a creature loyal to its masters--corporate executives--but too small and ill-equipped to do anything except be there. Transformed into dog, our imagined human worker is symbolically reduced in size. capability, and power. This diminished cross-breed works or, rather simply walks--vacuously back and forth--inside a closed system of channels, seemingly content with his narrow loop in life.

But instead of writing "channeldog," our word-wit inserted a canine-delimited name--Fido--which brings along with it entailments of low worth that support his purpose of ridiculing the job title he is inventing. Fido comes from the Latin fidus which means faithful. The word also has a high profile in Virgil's Aeneid. Aneas' faithful companion's name is Achates, but he is addressed and known by the sobriquet "Faithful Achares,"which in Latin, becomes fidus Acharesm.The Virgilian connection lends our faithful channel-haunted employee some dignity, but he is also still only a follower.

One final comment on Fido. We vaguely think of Fido as a common name for dogs, but rarely have many of us seen a common dog named Fido. That makes Fido a kind of phantom name--a name pervaded with vacuity of sorts that gets subtly transferred into the appellation channelfido, which we see, is a mock title effectively constructed of metaphorical concepts that delineate consistently enjoined motifs of derision.