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e.g., i.e., &c.

It’s been a while since we last flexed our grammar muscles here at the last word. And since few things are more gratifying than showing off for the ladies, here’s the latest exercise in pedantry: e.g. versus i.e. (Hint: they’re not interchangeable.)

e.g. is short for exempli gratia, a Latin phrase that means “for example”
i.e. stands for id est, which is Latin for “that is”

You see? Both serve to clarify, but each has a different meaning. The surest way to avoid eliciting scorn* from the nearest know-it-all, therefore, is to stick with the English.

*Check out the 1995 film Get Shorty to see what I mean. Or click here to read the actual quote, which includes an F-bomb here and there.

UPDATE: “&c.” is simply a variant of “etc.”—the “&” a sort of ligature formed by the joining of “e” and “t.”

Monday Miscellany

Gallup has come up with a statistical composite for the happiest person in America. Turns out he’s a tall, Asian-American, observant Jew who is at least 65 and married, has children, lives in Hawaii, runs his own business, and has a household income of more than $120,000 a year. And yes, there is such a man.

Over at The Atlantic‘s photography blog, you can check out some spectacular images of Antarctica.

Click here to see a chronological timeline of computer history, from 1939 to 2010.

Finally, don’t forget to nominate five novels (from the list provided) for the 2011 Tournament of Novels. In last year’s epic final, The Lord of the Rings defeated Huckleberry Finn, meaning both are out of contention for this year’s title. Seeding for the 2011 brackets begins this week; the first round opens March 16.


Quote of the Week

A wry observation from Søren Kierkegaard:

“The majority of people are not only afraid of holding a wrong opinion, they are afraid of holding an opinion alone.”

Less Is More

Fifty-two years ago today, Miles Davis began recording Kind of Blue, the one jazz album owned by people who don’t like jazz. (And the one album that surely must vex atheists, as it clearly demonstrates the existence of a supreme being.)

Three of the five tracks were recorded March 2, 1959: “So What,” “Freddie Freeloader,” and “Blue in Green”; the remaining two—”All Blues” and “Flamenco Sketches”—were recorded seven weeks later.

As evidence of the album’s enduring appeal, here’s a 2010 treatment of “Blue in Green” from Ralph Towner and Paolo Fresu (ECM 2085):

[audio:|titles=05 Blue in Green]

This Post for Geeks Only

There’s a certain segment of the population—you know who you are—that will positively swoon at the following sentence: Cthulhu Chick has compiled a list of H. P. Lovecraft’s favorite words.

I’m not sure which is more promising: that a list of words like “foetid,” “Nyarlathotep,” and “ululate” exists, or that somewhere out there is a girl who calls herself “Cthulhu Chick.”

Monday Miscellany: Travel Edition

There are times when the beauty of this region is, quite simply, breathtaking. This weekend was one of those times.

Near East Hope, Idaho.

Highway 127, south of Dusty, Washington.

Snake River at Central Ferry, north of Dodge, Washington.

America’s Greatest Word?

Allan Metcalf makes a persuasive case for “OK”—a word my great-grandmother forbade.

Aaron Write Good

What began ten years ago as a low-paying gig writing snarky music reviews for an “alternative” weekly has led to a soon-to-be published short story. That’s right, folks: I can now add “author” to my resume. More details as they become available…

Like, Wow.

Over at City Journal, Clark Whelton, a former speechwriter for Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani, tracks the decline and fall of American English. He reckons it began in 1985—the year I graduated from high school. Surely it’s just a coincidence.

This Is NOT about Late-Night Barhopping. Or Laundry.

And now, I present a brief tutorial on scoring and folding, compliments of Kit Hinrichs.

Get the Funk Out

What with published authors arguing that stricter copyright laws are needed to produce another Shakespeare, Democratic lawmakers on the lam, and a rare book dealer suggesting that (gasp!) reading is overrated, one wonders whether the apocalypse is nigh. At least it’s Friday.

How’s about some balm for our troubled souls? From Consummation, the 1970 album by Thad Jones and Mel Lewis:

[audio:|titles=05 Us]

Calculated Madness

Reading Garry Kasparov’s review of a new book about Bobby Fischer, I was reminded of William Hartston’s observation that “chess is not something that drives people mad; chess is something that keeps mad people sane.”

A Vigorous Defense of Prescriptivism

One of my favorite magazines talks about one of my favorite reference books. Here’s the money quote:

You don’t open A Dictionary of Modern English Usage to brush up on “sound linguistic principles” or to find out whether a phrase is common enough to be uncontroversial. You open it, rather, to consult the opinions of those whose understanding of the patterns of language is wider and deeper than your own, and who have a more sensitive ear for its rhythms and resonances. It’s true that languages mutate, and that grammatical “rules” aren’t “rules” in the ontological sense. But who cares? All you want to know is whether a particular usage is in accord with the habits of literate people.

Back to the Future

This is an interesting project: Argentinean photographer Irina Werning “re-enacts” old photos—sometimes decades later—by placing their subjects in similar clothing, poses, and settings.

When I was a kid, I hoped I’d grow up to look just like Kent McCord from “Adam-12,” or, at the very least, like the guy who played John Gage in “Emergency!” As these photographs suggest, however, most of us end up looking pretty much the same.

Guess we can’t all win the genetic lottery.

More from the project here.

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