Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Goal I Might Be Able To Keep

Of all the yearly resolutions I made, meaning able to leave the planet is the one I wanted to keep the most but never thought I would.

There are seven planets circling this tiny little barely bigger than Jupiter star, including three that could possibly support life! Plus it’s only forty lightyears away. Which is 235,100,000,000,000 miles. Someone really needs to get to work on making Warp Drive.

Not that living there will be entirely perfect. They might be tidally locked to the sun, like the moon is to the Earth, which means the same side is always facing it. So on one side it’s day all the time and the other is night all the time, with perpetual twilight around the middle. That actually makes for extreme weather conditions, plus the three planets that possibly have water are so hot that they probably don’t have much. Still sounds better than Earth right now, though.

These planets are so cool. All seven of the orbiting planets are closer to their star than Mercury is to the sun, so close in fact that their orbits are mere Earth days. They’re also so near each other that you can see the other planets like we see the moon. Well, probably. They don’t know what the atmospheres are made of. For all we know they’re impossible to see off of.

What do you guys think about the new planets? Any sci-fi-y ideas about what they might be like?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Language of Confusion: I Am Error

Today we’re looking at error, inspired by Liz’s comment last week. For the record, no, it’s not related to extraterrestrial in any language. Really not sure why the teacher let that one go.

Err is the root word here, so we’re looking at that first. It showed up in the fourteenth century, coming from the Old French errer, which could mean a mistake or also to lose one’s way. It comes from the classical Latin errare, which had pretty much the same meaning, and even earlier it’s the Proto Indo European ers-, to wander around.

A lot of different words spawned from ers-. There’s obvious ones like error, but others that you’ll be going, like, whoa. First of all, error (which was also spelled errour up until the eighteenth century) showed up around the same time as err, the fourteenth century, where it meant a mistake. It comes from the Old French error and classical Latin errorem, which means error as well as going astray, meandering or doubt, and is related to errare. This one actually makes sense since that was kind of ers- literal meaning.

Next, erratic. It showed up in the late fourteenth century meaning wandering or moving, not taking on its modern definition until the seventeenth century. It’s from the Old French erratique (the q makes it sound cooler), wandering of vagrant, and classical Latin erraticus, erratic or wandering. And of course that’s from errare. So is errant, kind of. It’s really confusing, but apparently there were two Old French words spelled errant and one comes from the above mentioned errer while the other is actually related to the Latin ire, to go. Which is not related to the other ire that means anger. Anyway, the two errants, despite having differing origins, got fused together even though they started out completely different. People really should have been more careful about that.

There are several other words related to err in some way, as well as a few that aren’t even though it would make sense. Like errand. You’d think it would have something to do with that wander, but it doesn’t. It’s from the Old English aerende, message or errand, which is Germanic in origin. On the other hand, aberration is from err. It showed up in the sixteenth century meaning a wandering/act of straying and comes from the classical Latin aberrationem, which could mean aberration or go astray. The ab- part means away from and the rest is from errare. Finally, the word race. Yes, it’s from err. At least the kind you run is. However I think that word should probably make up its own post on another day : ).

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

From The Spamfiles

Spam time!

This woman was married to a shipping tycoon! You don’t see many tycoons these days. Too bad. It’s a fun word to say. How does one get to be a tycoon anyway? I don’t think this counts as a cancer widow, though, since she just has “a very critical health challenges”.

FUBAR! Also I love the emojis.

I won the Asian Google Sweepstakes again. How do I keep getting entered in this thing?

A Work-load part time job, as opposed to a non-Work-load part time job. Get $350 a week! You’re not using both kidneys, right?

Damn my Nigerian partners. I told them to kill this guy after he transferred the money to my account. Doesn’t anybody listen anymore?!

It’s been so long since I’ve gotten one of these pills-from-a-Canadian-pharmacy messages filled with random words that form nonsensical sentences. I still find them hilarious.

Please matt shook his attention on them.

Saturday, February 18, 2017


I can’t remember why this subject came up in the first place, just that it ended with my mom admitting I was right. That doesn’t happen often.
For those keeping track, that’s the year I was born.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Language of Confusion: Tactful

I can’t believe I haven’t done the word tact before. Not that it’s some major important word or anything. It just really feels like I’ve done it. Is this déjà vu? Déjà écrit?

Just plain tact showed up in the mid seventeenth century as a sense of touch or feeling, more literal as opposed to the more figurative sense it has today. It comes from the classical Latin tactus, touch, so no big surprises there. It does come from tangere, to touch, which is the origin word for tangent which was kind of surprising. There’s no real reason as to why tangent changed so much, but apparently tangentem also means tangent so that weirdness goes all the way back. Tactile also comes from this line, via the French tactile and Latin tactilis, of touch. Since something that you can touch is tangible, that’s where we get that word. Damn, this makes tangent mean even less sense.

There are plenty of other tact words out there. Tactics showed up in the early seventeenth century, a hundred and forty years before tactic. They both come from the Latin tactica, which comes from the Greek taktike techne, which literally means regular art. I’m not even sure how to react to that. It is related to taktikos, regular or arranged, which can relate to war tactics, so that’s where that comes from. In any case, you’ll notice that tactic doesn’t come from the same word as tact. At least, not in Latin. They are related earlier, in Proto Indo European, where taktikos and tangere come from tag-, to set in order. Well, that’s where the regular part comes from.

Finally, there are the words that end in tact. Like intact. I didn’t mean to do that, it was just a coincidence. It showed up in the mid fifteenth century coming from the classical Latin intactus, untouched. That’s because in- is a weird prefix that can mean not, like it does here, or into. Since tactus is touched, then we have untouched, and something intact is I guess at least metaphorically untouched. Next is contact, which showed up in the early seventeenth century from the Latin contactus, which means touching. Or, you know, contact. Con- means together here, so touching together. Yeah, kind of ended on a well, duh note here.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Spam Senses

I got a weird email the other day:

Personally, I have no trouble with being more accessible to people who need it. If there was an actual problem with my blog, then I would work on fixing it. But!

My spam senses were tingling when I read this, for several reasons. First of all, this person mentioned that this was a follow up to a message I don’t remember seeing before, a trope so common that I put it on Spam Bingo. Next is the fact that I don’t actually have a link to that website. Hell, that link to my archive they have doesn’t even exist because I never posted on June 1, 2015. Unless they’re talking about January 6, 2015, which I did post on, although I never use that date format. And also does not have any calendar links on it. (It was actually my resolutions post for the year)

So, yeah. Pretty suspicious, “Amanda Soriano”. I didn’t click on the links they included (who knows where they really led), but I did look up the places they linked to. WebAIM is a real thing to check web page accessibility and The Time Now is a digital calendar. I guess this was some sort of campaign to get people to use one or the other. Or both. If so, it was a very poor one because it is very scammy in nature. The only thing less trustworthy is a robo call from the IRS asking you to pay an overdue tax bill with Best Buy gift cards.

That actually happened. It was reported in the paper. People fell for it, so maybe this isn’t so far off the mark.

Anyway, keep an eye out for scams and don’t ever click on any links in an email even if it looks like it’s to a legitimate site. This has been a public service message brought to you by scammers and the fact that I had nothing else to post about.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Eat lots of candy.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Language of Confusion: Ultima

Ultimate showed up in the mid seventeenth century, coming from the Late Latin ultimatus and its verb form ultimare. Before that it’s from the classical Latin ultimus, last, which is related to ultra, more. You might not believe this, but that word happens to be the origin word for ultra. I know. It’s pretty tough to believe.

I know you can’t see it, but I’m rolling my eyes.

We can go even further with ultra, all the way back to the Proto Indo European ol-tero-. The ol- gives us the beyond part as it comes from al-, which has given us words like alias and else. Yeah. Ultimate is (distantly) related to else and alias. Who knew?

Of course, there are a few other ultimate words in English. Did you know there used to be a “yesterday” for months? It was the word ultimo, coming from the Latin phrase ultimo menses, or last month. It was in use from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries and then…I guess we got bored of it? That happens sometimes. There’s also penultimate, which comes from penultima, a word that showed up in the late sixteenth century and means the next to last syllable in a word. It’s from another Latin phrase, penultima syllaba, literally penultimate syllable. The ultima comes from ultimate, while the pen is from paene, almost. Penultimate is…almost last.

Orbis Latinus

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

February Goals

It’s February. The world is marching towards oblivion. I blame Dicaprio winning that Oscar. That was when everything started going downhill.

Anyway, goals or whatever.

January Goals
1. 10K more. Keep up the pace!
10K down. It’s definitely weak in some places, though. I’d feel better about my slow output if it was better written. I don’t know, I just have to find a reason to be depressed about it.

2. Update my etymology page again. I don’t want it to get out of hand!
Yes, it’s up to date as of the 26th. Mostly because I put it off until then :P.

3. Do all the stupid adult crap I have to do. I hate being an adult.
UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH this sucks. The worst part is that I screwed something up and it’s taking a while to fix and I’m super stressed out about it…

I managed to do everything. It’s more impressive when you remember that I’ve been hiding under the bed for the last two weeks in preparation of the coming apocalypse. Anyway, this month!

February Goals
1. Another 10K. I will write this or die trying.

2. Read some new books.

3. Organize all my stick figure comics. This is kind of hard to explain, but because it’s mostly copy and paste, I have tons of different images that I could reuse. If I was able to find them.

Anyway, that’s the plan. Unless a meteor comes crashing down and destroys the world. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, February 4, 2017


Two cat comics in a row. They’ve been very entertaining lately.

For the record, she was fine.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Language of Confusion: Variable

Today we’re looking at vary and all its…variations. Sorry. Couldn’t avoid that pun. And didn’t want to.

Vary showed up in the fourteenth century from the Old French variier, change or alter, and classical Latin variare, to change. So yeah, vary always meant change. It’s believed to be related to varus, which has definitions like different, bent, and knock-kneed (-_-). It’s from the Proto Indo European wer-, a bodily infirmary, usually a raised spot on the body. You know, like a wart. Which makes sense because wer- is the origin word for wart.

This post took a very strange turn, but it can’t be helped. Keep in mind that wart has a completely different origin after wer-. It was warton in Proto Germanic and waert in Old English afterwards. Verruca, another word for wart, is actually closer to vary, and not because it starts with the same letter. Other distantly related words include varicose, which comes from the Latin varicosus, which actually means multicolored in addition to dilated veins. It’s from varicis, which also means wart and is probably related to the aforementioned varus.


Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English