Lexical Compendium

Wait... what is this? Sometimes I come across a word, phrase, idiom, quote, reference, etc that either I don't know or I find amusing, interesting, etc. This is a collection of those items so that I can refer back to them in emails, texts, etc.


alla turca time

While alla turca generically just means "in the Turkish style," alla turca time (or alaturka saat) specifically refers to the way that time was reckoned in the Ottoman Empire.

In the alla turca time Sun always sets at the 0’th hour and rises at the 12th hour. The hours of the alla turca time have variable length. During winters the length of 1 (alla turca) night hour is longer than the length of 1 (alla turca) day hour. During summers the opposite is true.

-- from alla turca time (blog post)

Clocks around the empire were manually set/reset by the muvakkit, or timekeeper. It's hard to even imagine using this sort of time keeping in our modern era.

I haven't been able to find a whole lot about this online, but I've noted what I have found. My father introduced me to this term; it was something he recalled from his childhood.

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References:

Tags: time, ottoman, clock

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"...and she stepped on the ball."

My favorite line in the movie "Trading Places" is a reference to a joke in another movie called "Aunti Mame." In that movie, a rich and condescending woman tells a story about a ping pong game in which she "stepped on the ball."

In "Trading Places," this exchange takes place as Louis Winthorpe III, now disgraced, jobless and homeless, enters his tennis club in in hopes of getting help from his rich friends. As Louis enters the scene, we hear the end of a story being told by one of these friends to the rest of the gang, "...and she stepped on the ball." Louis, of course, discovers that his friends and even his fiancée want nothing to do with him.

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Tags: quote, trading_places, movie

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"...an effective plot must be 'unexpected but inevitable'..."

I came across this quote in the television series Mythic Quest. In that show, it was attributed to Aristotle, but I haven't been able to confirm this.

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Tags: writing, plot, quotes, story

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banoffee

Banoffee is a portmanteau combining the words "banana" and "toffee" and is often used in reference to Banoffee Pie, which seems to be a popular pie flavor in the UK.

I learned of this while watching a YouTube show: Food Tours: Finding the Best Afternoon Tea in London.

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References:

Tags: pie, toffee, desert, banana

Date Added: 21 May 2024
Date Modified: 21 May 2024

Bees?

There is a "Cards Against Humanity" card that simply reads: "Bees?" It's so fatuous that it has become a common expression for me.

Some on the internet believe that this is a reference to an "Arrested Development" episode.

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References:

Tags: games, bees

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"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!"

From Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky," a poem in "Through the Looking Glass."

The poem was about the capture and killing of a creature called the "Jabberwock" and is filled with many other nonsense terms.

The word "jabberwocky," itself, has come to mean something meaningless in writing.

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Tags: quote, book, poem

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Caledonian Orogeny

When Great Briton's two halves were slammed together.

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Tags: history, geography

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canard

A false or unfounded statement/story.

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Tags: vocabulary

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Christian Zionism

An ideology that, in a Christian context, supports the concepts of Zionism (Jewish people returning to the "Holy Land").

Joe Biden considers himself a Zionist.

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References:

Tags: religion

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DSKY

An acronym for Display Keyboard (pronounced diskey). This was the interface that Apollo astronauts used to communicate with the computers on the Command and Lunar Modules.

I first came across this acronym while watching the television series For All Mankind.

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References:

Tags: space, astronaut, apollo

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“Focus on the things that make your beer taste better”

A quote from Jeff Bezos during the 2008 YC Startup School.

Bezos made an analogy between AWS and breweries, at the turn of the 20th century when electricity had just been invented. These early breweries started generating their own power to leverage machines that ran on electricity. Soon, utility companies came along. Newer breweries that were able to just use electricity from the utility companies didn't have the capital expenses of the older breweries and were able to beat them.

I heard of this analogy from the Acquired podcast.

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References:

Tags: amazon, aws, bezos

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Grumbletonian

This archaic word was used to describe someone who was discontent, i.e. someone who grumbles a lot. The origins of the word are in 17th century English politics.

I heard the word in an episode of the podcast The Allusionist.

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References:

Tags: vocabulary, grumbletonian

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ICE

An acronym for Internal Combustion Engine. This acronym seems to be bandied about a lot during automobile discussions, especially when discussing electric vehicles (EVs).

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References:

Tags: engine, ice

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"I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal, you sockdologizing old man-trap."

These were the lines spoken in the play "Our American Cousin" when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. A "sockdologer" is the decisive word in an argument; the final blow.

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References:

Tags: sockdologizing, quote, history

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interregnum

  1. A period when normal government is suspended, especially between successive reigns or regimes.
  2. An interval or pause between two periods of office or other things.

As in:

...the interregnum between the discovery of radioactivity and its detailed understanding.

or:

You are a weak monarch in a dangerous interregnum.

The latter comes from a line of dialog from the character Gerri in the television series "Succession"

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References:

Tags: word

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Lindy's Law

In simple terms, the longer something is around, the better it gets (or the longer it's likely to continue to be around).

I first heard a reference to this in a Breaking Points episode in which the hosts were debating the merits of lab grown meat.

The origin of this term comes from a 1964 article published in The New Republic by Albert Goldman. In this article, Goldman described comedians that used to meet up at Lindy's Deli in NYC discussing comedy shows. An observation was made that the longer a show has been running, the longer it is expected to continue to run. This was formalized in something Goldman called "Lindy's Law." Note: this is also commonly referred to as the "Lindy Effect."

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References:

Tags: lindy effect, lindy's law, lindy

Date Added: 21 May 2024
Date Modified: 21 May 2024

"Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds"

An English translation of a line from The Bhagavad Gita, written in Sanskrit. A more accurate translation is "Time I am, destroyer of the worlds..."

I first encountered this expression in the late 90s on the CAKE BBS. It appears many times in popular culture:

  • Oppenheimer in Oppenheimer
  • Bolivar in s01e07 of Xmen '97
  • Captain Ramius' diary in Hunt for Red October
  • Caleb Smith in Ex Machina

And probably many more.

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References:

Tags: hindu, shiva, krishna

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pulses

The dried seeds of legumes (beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, etc). This seems to be a word that is commonly used in the UK. In the US, I don't think I've ever heard it.

I looked this up after watching a YouTube show: Food Tours: Finding the Best Cheeseburger in Los Angeles. The two hosts (popularized on Food Wars) are from the US and UK. In the US, if I were eating chickpeas and lentils I'd say that I was eating "chickpeas and lentils," while in the UK it seems like it might be common to say that one is "eating pulses."

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References:

Tags: pulses, chickpeas, food

Date Added: 21 May 2024
Date Modified: 21 May 2024

rhodopsin

I learned, from sort of an unlikely source -- the National Park Service, the reason why "night vision" is reset after exposure to light.  That our pupils dilate  is probably obvious, but what I didn't know was that the body produces a protein called rhodopsin which, through a series of chemical reactions, gives our rods the ability to "see" in dim light.  The protein decays in bright light (though much slower in longer wavelengths, i.e. red light).  When depleted, it takes ~30m to regenerate.

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Tags: word, science, vision

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stigmergy

From Wikipedia:

Stigmergy was first observed in social insects. For example, ants exchange information by laying down pheromones (the trace) on their way back to the nest when they have found food. In that way, they collectively develop a complex network of trails, connecting the nest in an efficient way to various food sources. When ants come out of the nest searching for food, they are stimulated by the pheromone to follow the trail towards the food source. The network of trails functions as a shared external memory for the ant colony.

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Tags: word, social_insect, ants

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thagomizer

A thagomizer is a bit of paleontology jargon referring to the spikes on a stegosaurian dinosaur.

When I was young, the Stegosaurus was my favorite type of dinosaur. I had no idea what the spikes were called until very recently though. I especially didn't know that the word was coined by none other than Gary Larson of Far Side fame.

In 1982, Gary Larson wrote a comic in which a caveman, perhaps in a teaching role, explains to an audience that these spikes were named "after the late Thag Simmons."

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References:

Tags: dinosaur, thagomizer, stegosaurus, far side, paleontology

Date Added: 23 May 2024
Date Modified: 23 May 2024

"There's nothing more exhilarating than pointing out the shortcomings of others, is there?"

This is a quote from the 1994 movie "Clerks."

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Tags: quote, movie, clerks

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"This feels schemey. Redolent of thwart."

Something that the character Tom Wambsgans says in the television series "Succession."

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References:

Tags: quote, television, succession

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"What ho! She bumps!"

I came across this bit of old-timey slang in the television show "The Artful Dodger." It means something like, "Wow! It works!"

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Tags: quote, television, slang

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