Oct. rambling: How I See Humanity

Autumnal music and about Brian Wilson

per Uthaclena

John Fugelsang on Christianity

Hank Green: This Math Test Changed How I See Humanity

A History of Nuclear War with Peter Kuznick

American democracy has been in trouble before

Trump’s letter to the House Jan. 6 Select Committee

Inside the S–tshow That Was the Trump-Biden Transition

Understanding History in the Age of the Big Lie

The Odd Pathology of the Politician’s Mind

‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’: A Conversation With Co-Directors Ken Burns and Lynn Novick On Authoritarian Parallels

Weekly Sift Closing Arguments on abortiondemocracy, and Biden’s accomplishments 

What the failure of Liz Truss’s economic agenda in the UK can teach the U.S.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Transgender Rights II and Museums and Crime Reporting; Frank S. Robinson: Crime and Policing 

Plan to Save New York City from Rising Sea Level

It’s Time to Retire BMI as a Clinical Metric

Never Enough? Why ADHD Brains Crave Stimulation

This past week in healthcare investigations: Fentanyl Hidden in Cocaine; Missed Breast Cancer Diagnoses; Calling Out Racism

Upstate NY Habitat plans 25-unit condo; thought to be a world first

The Rev. Calvin Butts left behind a legacy of prayer and political activism

How Audley Moore Created a Blueprint for Black Reparations

Jules Bass, Producer Behind the ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and ‘Frosty the Snowman’ TV Specials, Dies at 87; Remembering the Rankin-Bass Catalogue

Marvel, DC Among Last Bastion for Supersized Movie Paydays

Even Superheroes Have Moments Of Mediocracy As This Funny Comic Strip Shows

Now I Know: The Marketing Stunt That Vacuumed Up a Whole Company and The Lady Who Made a Living By Smashing Booze and The Unheard Words of the Star Trek Theme Song and The Odd History (Perhaps?) of the Malaysian National Anthem and The 21-Year-Old Irish Woman That Saved D-Day and The First Curfews and Why Is This Panda Rowing a Giant Pumpkin?


NYT: In praise of y’all, the most inclusive pronoun, which I supported 11 years ago

EA Poe, Nature Writer

We have to get rid of “ums” and “uhs” when speaking, right? Not necessarily.

The Birth of the Semicolon

A.Word.A.Day– Overton window – noun: The range of beliefs, attitudes, etc., considered acceptable at any given time.

Twenty Years of Sheila O’Malley

Researchers “Translate” Bat Talk. Turns Out, They Argue—A Lot

Happy Birthday, Jeff Goldblum!


Jerry Lee Lewis, Piano-Bashing Pioneer of Rock ‘N’ Roll, Dies at 87NYT obit. Rock hall

November Steps by Toru Takemitsu

Coverville:  1417 – Red Hot Chili Peppers Cover Story II and 1418 – Cover Stories for The Waterboys and World Party

In Autumn by Edvard Grieg

Toward the Unknown Region – Ralph Vaughan Williams

Alan Menken performed a ten-minute medley of songs to which he contributed the music.

The Isle of the Dead by Sergei Rachmaninoff

Lucy Simon, Tony-Nominated Composer, and Sister of Carly Simon, Dies at 82; Winkin’ Blinkin’ and Nod – the Simon Sisters

Top 15 annoying pianists

The Greatest Adventure from the animated The Hobbit

Ken Levine with author/filmmaker David Leaf, talking about musical genius Brian Wilson:  Part 1 and Part 2

More a Quordle guy than a Wordle guy


quordleLike many people, I started playing Wordle a few months ago, and I still do. Still, I’m more a Quordle guy.

In Wordle, you must guess a 5-letter word in six tries or less. Every word you enter must be in the word list. A correct guess turns that letter green. A letter in the word but in the wrong place turns yellow. An incorrect letter turns gray. Letters can be used more than once. Answers are never plurals.

The game was purchased by the New York Times a few months ago. But what I’ve discovered is that there are LOTS of imitations.  Wordle Game and  Wordle-Play and Wordleplay and Wordle.NYC and Wordle Unlimited, just to name a few. Some games have more than five letters.

There seems to be a cottage industry swirling around Wordle, with hundreds of videos and websites suggesting the best first word. ADIEU is popular because it hits four vowels.

I don’t worry about getting the word early; just trying not to miss it. Of my first 100 words, I’ve got 99. None did I get one or two turns, 15 in three turns, 19 in four turns, 24 in five turns, and 41 in six turns. I have a 57-game streak.

I think I’m an impatient player. Unlike my wife, who can start and stop over a period of hours, I like to get it completed quickly.

What I DO enjoy about Wordle is the dialogue I have with my friend David. He’ll write: “Today’s reminder to check the scale.” I’ll reply RIGHT, which was a subtle clue. All the letters in RIGHT were in the day’s word GIRTH. Or when I find the word and tell him he’s full of it; the word is PIETY and he’s studying to join the ministry.

The more (words), the merrier

There is also Dordle and its variants, such as Dordlegame, where you must find two words in seven guesses.

My favorite is Quordle, with a variant Quordle Game. This requires getting four words in nine tries. Unlike Wordle, the primary goal of most of these games is not primarily to finish in the fewest turns but to complete it at all.

To that end, I pick the same four words, which knock off 20 letters, leaving JKQVXZ. So I like to know what’s NOT there.

I use the same words for Octordle or a variant, eight words in 13 attempts. I’ve never tried sedordle (16 words in 21 attempts), and tried duotrigordle (32 words in 37 tries) but once because I can’t see all of the words at once.

My favorite recent play left me with the letters IEP showing in slots 3 to 5, but none of them were correct. I used the word PIECE, which I knew to be wrong because the C had been eliminated. Still, this gave me a PI correct in the first two slots and E correct in the fifth. I got the word, PIXIE.

The Phrontistery word website, found


The PhrontisteryAs loath as I am to acknowledge it, sometimes I find a really cool resource, such as a useful website. I’ll access it for a period of time then forget about it. Then someone else will find it, I’ll check it out, and say, “Hey, I’ve been here before!”

This is the case for The Phrontistery. It contains “English obscure words and etymology resources; an online dictionary of weird and unusual words; word lists; technical vocabulary aids; lipograms; and word-related essays. Someone on the A Way With Words Facebook page posted about it. They proclaimed, “Stumbled across this… and immediately thought: ‘Uh-oh, there goes all of my free time for the next few months.'”

Steve Chrisomalis notes, “Since 1996, I have compiled word lists and language resources to spread the joy of the English language in all its variety through time and space. A phrontistery (from the Greek phrontistes – ‘thinker’) is meant to be a thinking-place for reflection and intellectual stimulation.”

Check out:
International House of Logorrhea -A 17,000-word dictionary of rare, cool, and unusual words
Compendium of Lost Words – 400 of the rarest words on the internet
Short Scrabble Words – From AA to ZUZ
A Loquacious Location of Lipograms – You’ll want to click on this link – do it and find out why!
Glossographia – A blog about linguistics, anthropology, and writing systems
Numerals and Numeration – Quirky facts and features about number systems
Glossaries – Over 30 topic-specific word lists
Contact – Email, Twitter, carrier pigeon

And in fact…

I never wrote about The Phrontistery per se, as far as I can tell, unless I misspelled the word. However, twice I linked to it, both for posts for ABC Wednesday, and each time involving the same difficult letter of the alphabet. In 2010, I found three-letter words that use the letter X. Then in 2014, I shared a list of unusual words beginning with X.

I’ve found several references to it, from ESL clubs to empowerment sites. And finding the right word certainly can be empowering.

Nog, nogg, noggin, nogging

the brain

Dan writes: For the next “Ask Roger:”

Is the word “noggin” derived from the word “nogg?” The implication that one has a wooden head… jammed in the wall with a nail through it?

This is actually an excellent question to receive. I learned that NOGG is the National Osteoporosis Guideline Group. Of course, it is “a multidisciplinary group including patient representation and professionals involved in the care of people with osteoporosis. It was established in 2007 to provide a clinical guideline for the management of men and women at high fracture risk, using the output from the FRAX calculator.”

I assume that a broken head is possible. Wait, wait, that’s the wrong usage. Nogg is a carpentry term for “a shave for shaping dowels and handles”.

Thus nogging:
(noun) One of a number of wooden pieces fitted between the principal timbers of a half-timbered wall.
(v.t.) To fill (a framed wall or partition) with small masonry, as bricks or stones.

Boozing it up

However, I’ve occasionally seen nogg, which my spellcheck does NOT like, as an alternative spelling of nog, as in egg-nogg.  Nog is:
“any beverage made with beaten eggs, usually with alcoholic liquor; eggnog” or
“a strong ale formerly brewed in Norfolk, England.”
First Known Use of nog: 1693, in the meaning defined at sense 1. History and Etymology for nog: origin unknown

Nog was also a character on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Now, the definitions of noggin are:
1: a person’s head
2: a small mug or cup
3: a small quantity (such as a gill) of drink
The first known use of noggin was in 1588, or 1620–30, depending on the source; origin uncertain.

Noggin is a Nick Jr. cable channel “where kids learn with characters they love.” In the UK, there is a brain supplement called Noggin. This seems to gravitate towards the idea of “using your noggin” i.e. your brain, not just the head itself.

The colloquial sense of “head” (originally as boxing slang) is included in the same OED  entry as “noggin” so, as Neil from a Facebook group dedicated to words surmised, maybe there was some slang notion of the head being like a bucket.

More interesting, and frankly more confusing to me, are articles about noggin as whatever this is from 2011. “The Bone Morphogenetic Protein Antagonist Noggin Protects White Matter After Perinatal Hypoxia-ischemia.” Yeah. “Perinatal HI was induced in transgenic mice in which the BMP antagonist noggin is overexpressed during oligodendrogenesis (pNSE-Noggin).” Does someone want to translate that into English?

Anyway, I’m finding a link between nog and noggin, in terms of alcohol or beverage, or the container. Nogg’s wood-related origin seems to have developed separately, as far as I am able to ascertain. Unless, of course, the bucket was made of wood, which it probably was.

Neil found for me a reference to nog or nogg as “a peg, pin, or cylindrical piece of wood, serving any of various purposes” is now “chiefly Australian and New Zealand.” As are so many of the definitions, it is also of uncertain origin.

 In other words, I just can’t be certain of the linkage, because so many of the derivations are unknown.

Cornhole, tea lights – words I didn’t know

You Can Count On Me

cornhole boardMy family was in a local bar/restaurant waiting for takeout. There were at least three televisions tuned to differing sports events. One was showing a competition from the American Cornhole League. No, I did not know that was a thing.

The competitors play by the rules of the American Cornhole Association, which sells “official cornhole bags.” There’s also the American Cornhole Association – ACO.

How do you score? “Bag In-The-Count (Woody): Any bag which comes to rest anywhere on top of the board. Each is worth one (1) point. Bag In-The-Hole (Cornhole): Any bag which is thrown through the hole or knocked through the hole by another bag. Each is worth three (3) points.”

I got home and asked my wife, “What was the name of that game in which they were tossing bean bags into a hole?” I had to look it up. When I would play it in a playground or someone’s yard, only the bag going into the hole counted.

Silent Night

At church on Christmas Eve, we usually have individual candles, which the congregation blows out after the lights come on and we sing Joy To The World. It was decided that the tradition wasn’t COVID safe. I thought we weren’t going to sing Silent Night at all. Instead, a bunch of tiny electric candles either were purchased or retrieved from somewhere.

In describing them to my wife and daughter, I described them as little electric votive candles. In fact, they have a very specific name: tea lights. I had never heard of that designation in my life.

What’s the name of that movie?

Sometimes, I have a difficult time remembering the name of movies when I find the titles unmemorable. The first movie I ever saw with Mark Ruffalo and Laura Linney was You Can Count On Me (2000). Yet I have the hardest time remembering what it’s called and end up searching IMBD for one of the actors.

Worse is a 2014 movie about a character played by Jon Favreau who buys a food truck. The film shows the best-looking grilled cheese sandwich I’ve ever seen filmed. Yet I can’t remember the name of the movie. Oh, yeah, Chef, which is what the Favreau character was BEFORE he bought the food truck.

Similar to…

When I occasionally can’t up with a common word, I’m comforted that first, I think of a related term then work back to the one I want. For instance, if you were going to make dinner, you might need that list of food items. What’s that called? I might think Menu, which IS a list of foods. No that’s not right. Recipe. Of course.

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