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Words, June 18



Better him than Pooch Punter:

“Kicker Hy Snapp, 5-9, 170, of Cedar Hill, Texas, has been offered by Arkansas.” To whom was he offered, one might ask. The football gods? Ole Miss? Grabba Thi sorority?

This usage is now common in sports-page articles about the recruiting of athletes by colleges and universities, I'm told. It means that Arkansas has offered an athletic scholarship to Snapp.

Arkansas is trying to buy, not trying to sell.


Entering a cannon is risky business:

“In any other film, it would have been Harry Connick Jr., who played Smith's best friend and fellow fighter pilot, celebrating the ‘fireworks' at the end, and Will Smith would have entered the cannon of black actors who died valiantly so their white co-stars would have someone to fight for in memory.”


Paradoxed and postulated:

“In 1865, English economist William Stanley Jevons discovered an efficiency paradox: The more efficient you make machines, the more energy they use.” [That is, the more efficient and cheaper the machines, the more people buy and use them, so that total energy consumption goes up.]

“The so-called Jevons Paradox was resurrected in the 1980s by a variety of environmentalists and is occasionally referred to as the Khazzoom-Brookes postulate (really!).” Really, indeed. I thought “Khazzoom” was what Billy Batson said to turn into Captain Marvel. Apparently, Daniel Khazzoom and Leonard Brookes are, or were, economists.


Auntie Nim was pretty disagreeable too:

Antonyms are opposites, certainly, but there are different kinds of antonyms. Buy/sell demonstrates a kind in which there's a mutual relationship. Parent/child is in the same group, called “relational opposites.” Other antonyms, like wet/dry, are words from opposite ends of a scale, with stages in between — a little wet, almost dry. These are called “gradable antonyms.” Still other antonyms, like dead/alive, have no such intermediate stage, no reciprocity. You're either one or the other, and you couldn't be either if the other didn't exist. Alive means “not dead”; dead means “not alive.” These are called “complementary antonyms.”  

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