March rambling: 151 fictional species

Upstate NY climate haven?

Zoom meetingsWhat is the only country with Catalan as an official national language? What is the only officially bilingual province in Canada? Answers below.

United Methodist conservatives detail plans for a breakaway. Their leaders have unveiled plans to form a new denomination called the Global Methodist Church, with a doctrine that does not recognize same-sex marriage.

North Dakota Is About to Kill the National Popular Vote Compact.

Daily Kos very comprehensive guide to the 117th Congress, members, and districts.

Upstate NY cities named among the best climate havens as the world grows hotter.

Jeff Sharlet: All That We’ve Lost (COVID).

24 Cybersecurity Statistics During the Spiraling Panic Around COVID-19.

Wait at Least Seven Weeks After COVID for Surgery.

Heather McGhee – “The Sum of Us” and The True Cost of Racism | The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

Judge blisters prosecutors as he releases 3 wrongfully convicted Black men after 24 years.

The African/American Table.

Vernon Jordan, Civil Rights Activist And Power Broker Dies At 85.

Roger Mudd, the longtime TV newsman, dies at 93.

Five things worth knowing about the Mars Perseverance Rover.

Tyranny of Choice.

Why spacing out is good for you.

Vlogbrothers: How Much Hope is OK?

Snow Days May Never Be the Same. As I’ve noted, boo, hiss!

Before You Blow Up on  YouTube | The Cautionary Tale of Jani Lane.

How to Delete Your Old Online Accounts (and Why You Should).

Deep Nostalgia photorealism on the MyHeritage site. Creepy.

Does Alcohol Really Burn Off When Cooked?

Cherry Blossom Cam – U.S. National Park Service in DC. The predicted peak blossom time is April 2-5.

Pokémon at 25: How 151 fictional species took over the world.

 We’re not in Kansas anymore. Or maybe we are.

Now I Know

Attempted Mann-Slaughter and Squashing the Garden and The Blues for Some Boo-Boos and The Soviet Plan to End the Weekend and The Not-Quite-Vice-President Who Was Almost Accidentally President and The Rock-Paper-Scissors Lizards and Arresting The Chief and  Why Blue Means Stop in Hawaii and The Other Harvard Makes a Bad Sale and The Genoa Exception.


Mr. Biden (Bring My Vaccine) – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody

String Quartet in G Major – Florence Price

William Tell Overture (ending) – The Great Kat

Karelia Suite and Finlandia by Jean Sibelius.

Coverville 1348: This Day in Covers: February 25, 1976, and 1349: David Gilmour and “Girl” Groups.

Aquarius – Peter Lawford.

Let’s Hang On – Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

The Rebecca Jade section

Home Made, Parts 10 and 11

Panda Remix.

Remind Me

Concert of Pat Metheny music, Live(ish) From SpragueLand: Episode 16, The Fields, The Sky.


Andorra; New Brunswick.

The origin of the word Lent

Christian and pagan

Gabriel in Leonardo's Annunciation
Gabriel in Leonardo’s Annunciation

A very erudite buddy of mine shared this with our fellow Bible Guys recently. He’s allowed me to share it with you.

Regarding the origin of the word Lent, the name for the Christian fast is a shortening of lenten.

In Chaucer’s day, it was a word for the springtime that had also been extended to refer to the Christian observance coinciding with the season.
Lenten itself began as good Anglo-Saxon lengten, a compound word, the first element derived from Indo-European *dlongʰós=long, and the second, ten, from Indo-European *deyn = day.

Exegesis re terms for Lent in other languages

English is quite unusual in adopting the term Lent. Other Germanic tongues simply use Fast or some variation thereof (German – Fastenzeit, Norweigian – fastetid or langfaste).

Latin, translating the original Greek 40th, established quādrāgēsima, which at 5 syllables was destined to be eroded in Italian to 4 syllables, Quaresima. In Spanish and Portuguese to 3, Cuaresma. Finally and, not insignificantly, farthest away, in French, as Carême to 2.

Slavic tongues all have some variant of ‘great fast’ e.g. Polish – Wielki Post [Slavic p = f].

Dutch situated between the Romance lands to the south and the Germanic to the east has both veertigdagentijd (= 40 days time) translating the Latin and vastentijd (fast-time), preserving the native Germanic term.

Similarly, Serbo-Croatian (the same language, aka Serb when written in Cyrillic and Croatan when appearing in Latin), a border language if ever there was one, has both Latin sourced korizma (cf quaresima) and Slavic, Veliki post.

Hawaiian has Kalema, which at first looks exceptional, but given l = r, must be a loan from Sp. or Por or Fr.

Finally, there is Maltese. Once you know that it is descended from Arabic (although written in Latin alphabet), you can perhaps guess that their word, Randan, comes from Ramadan. In Modern Arabic, though, to come full circle, Lent is known as “aṣ-ṣawm al-kabīr” ( اَلصَّوْمالْكَبِير‎ ), which they tell me means “great fast.”

The takeaway

Apropos of Xian and pagan celebrations, it occurred to me that the practice of aligning the new with the extant, while a cooptation, bespeaks admirable toleration from the victor not always seen after an intense confrontation. It is especially rare, sadly, when the conflict involves successful revolt of an erstwhile oppressed element of the dominant hegemon.

Roger Answers Your Questions, Tom the Mayor and Jaquandor

Presbyterians are much more deliberative than Methodists.

Jaquandor, the Buffalo area’s finest blogger, asks:

1. Are there any words you dislike, just because of the sound of them and not necessarily the meaning?

Used to be that German words I tended to dislike as too guttural. The K sound would get stuck on the roof of my mouth. But I’ve mellowed, and nothing immediately comes to mind.

2. Are there any subjects you really want to know more about and yet never seem to get around to learning about?

Oh, yeah, dozens, everything from various sciences, such as astronomy and botany; to languages, which I do not seem to have a talent for, starting with Spanish and Latin. But I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I probably won’t do anything about it unless I give up something else, and evidently, I’m not willing to do that.

3. Are you surprised that gay marriage passed in New York? (I am, a little….)

Heck, yeah. It failed miserably some 600 days earlier when the State Senate was controlled by the Democrats. OK, “controlled” is probably an overstatement, since it was pretty chaotic. The last two governors supported it, and it didn’t matter. And it passes with a Republican-controlled Senate? More like shocked.
Tom the Mayor, once a mail order whiz at FantaCo, among other attributes, asks:

Are all the members of your church as Liberal as you are? could you be a good Christian, yet disagree with the beliefs of your church’s leaders?

Tom asks simple questions which I will complicate in answering.

Somehow, as a result of singing in my old church choir at my grandmother’s funeral in May 1983, it got me to decide to start attending church again, after more than a decade of mostly not going. But I couldn’t just go back to a church like the one from my childhood, which I loved then, but found that my theological development was not in tune with that church’s theological positions.

So I went church shopping.

When I first attended Trinity United Methodist Church, it was June 13, 1982. I remember this quite well because the day before, I was at an anti-nuke rally in New York City. The minister, the late Stan Moore, said something quite positive about the rally in his sermon, and this endeared him, and the church, to me. While the shopping continued for some months, I decided I wanted to be there by the end of the year, though I didn’t actually join until December 1984.

In that congregation, I did have leadership roles, first as vice-chair, then chair of the Administrative Board, which was the church’s meeting of the whole, then chair of the Council on Ministries, which was the chairs of the major service committees. I left, not because of theology, but autocracy, involving a change in church structure under a subsequent minister which made it less accountable to the congregation.

I started attending First Presbyterian in the spring of 2000 and joined in 2002. At some point, I was an elder there, but didn’t enjoy it; I think I’m all meetinged out.

So to your actual question: if by the church, you mean the congregation, most of them are as liberal as I am, though by no means all of them. I remember having a conversation with one of them at the (late) YMCA, where you used to work. He mentioned that one of the Clintons, Bill or Hillary, was having a book come out, and he, who reads the New York Post, a conservative tabloid, every day, said he was sure that I would be buying the book from that “liberal”. I surprised him by stating that I didn’t think the Clintons were liberal at all.

If you mean the Presbyterian Church USA, our congregation is definitely more liberal than some. But of course, this depends on your meaning of liberal. If feeding the hungry, clothing the needy is “liberal”, then it’s almost the whole denomination that is liberal. If it’s something such as the role of gays in the life of the church, the Albany Presbytery, which represents our church, is more progressive than others. But given the fact that the PCUSA denomination in 1997 created MORE restrictive language re participation of gays as ministers, elders, and deacons, then in May 2011 agreed to less restrictive language, not many people bolted the church when either event occurred.

Presbyterians are much more deliberative than Methodists. The fact that our Presbytery was at odds – no, too harsh, disagreed – with the PCUSA on gay ordination for over a decade was surprisingly not a big deal.

Oh, one other thing: I wanted Trinity UMC to take more of a stand on gay rights issues when I was involved there in the 1990s. It was downplayed because the church had “made a proclamation” back in 1979 or 1975, or whenever, which preceded my tenure there, and that seemed, to some, to be enough. So it’s not just a matter of beliefs; it’s acting on the beliefs, regularly. My current congregation participates in the Gay Pride parade annually, with our rainbow tapestry hanging from the bell tower as well as over the entrance, as an ongoing, living, breathing statement of faith.

Did I actually answer the question?


I’ve found myself unable to create any Best Of for the year.

I was reading Tegan’s blog a couple of weeks ago. She was telling this really interesting story about some friend of hers who had purchased an e-book for his Kindle or Nook or whatever and wanted to lend the book to his wife. But because of the DRM restriction, he was unable to. Then Tegan found for him a, let’s say, non-standard copy of the book. The act of obtaining the pirated copy may have been – OK, almost certainly was – a legal wrong, but Tegan categorized it as a moral right; I found myself agreeing with her assessment.

I know I’ve done similar things for the greater good. The only example that comes to mind involves the purchase of marijuana for a friend’s uncle who was on chemo. This was – the statute of limitations has run out, I’ll put it that way.

Which always brings me back to Dickens: Sometimes, at least, “The law is a ass.”

I always notice when people put the wrong word in an article, such as it’s for its, or effect for affect. I’m not talking typos, I’m talking errors. I’ll admit that, in the past, I might have thought less of that writer. But in a blog post by a very intelligent friend of mine, he used it’s when he meant it’s several times. I wrote to him about this privately, and he replied, “My dear old grammar died when I was very young so I never learned proper punctuation.” I was charmed enough to let it pass.

I’ve found myself unable to create any Best Of lists for the year, best of the music I bought, or movies I’ve seen, for a couple of reasons. 1) I just didn’t buy that much music or see that many movies, and of those I listen to or see, many predated 2010. But, moreover, 2) I’ve lost that ability to remember what music I even bought this year. I wouldn’t know about the movies if I didn’t blog about them. It appears I’ve lost the ability to think about life in 12-month segments.
When Governor Cuomo (that’d be Andrew, not his father Mario) was giving his State off the State address earlier this month, I was live Facebooking. It was fun. It could be addictive. I’m not likely to do it again any time soon, for that very reason!

Y is for You

These words do not reflect ignorance on the part of speakers who use them, but a legitimate linguistic development called leveling by morphological analogy, whereby missing pieces of the grammar are generated by analogy with other parts of grammar.

I don’t think I considered it until I took French in high school, but I realized at that point that standard English was deficient. While French has tu for the second person singular and vous for second-person plural, English uses the word you for both. I subsequently discovered that most languages followed the French rule, such as German du/ihr and Russian ty/vy.

So some groups have developed their own set of second-person plural pronouns, such as y’all and yous.

Some Australians, just like some Americans and some Brits, have for many years now been happily using valid second person plural pronouns. It helps in clear communication, allows succinctness of expression, and, sadly, has invariably been associated with a lack of education and low socioeconomic status.

But it is not the failure of the speakers, it’s the failure of the language. These words do not reflect ignorance on the part of speakers who use them, but a legitimate linguistic development called leveling by morphological analogy, whereby missing pieces of the grammar are generated by analogy with other parts of grammar. In other words, people instinctively create words when the meaning would otherwise be ambiguous.

Thus English is lacking here, but it was not always so. The King James Bible, e.g. has a perfectly useful pairing, thou for singular, ye for plural. Over the years, however, the terms meshed.

My basic point is that perhaps we ought not to deride those people who have creatively addressed a linguistic need.

Four years ago, the TIME person of the year was YOU. Read all about it.

Here are three songs, all very different, called You:
Marvin Gaye
George Harrison

ABC Wednesday – Round 7

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