September 18th, 2006

Party Guy

Happy Birthday, mortonfox and tye_g_wolfee!

For your present, here's today's Forgotten English!

Obstinacy; inflexibility; determination of mind; stubbornness. The word, though it has been tried in different forms [such as opiniatrety], is not yet received, nor is it wanted.
--Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of English Language, 1755

Birthday of Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), lexicographer, critic, and poet. Contrary to popular assumption, the opinionated Dr. Johnson was not a prolific reader, preferring conversation to books. Although he believed that people who devoted themselves to reading had a better chance of knowing more, he qualified this by saying that he himself had read little since his teenage years, adding that perpetual reading and study were "as bad as slavery in the mine, or labour at the oar." Once asked whether he had read a certain book cover to cover, Johnson is quoted by his biographer James Boswell in The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791) as replying scornfully, "No, Sir. Do you read books through?" In the same volume, he voiced his preference for direct experience over the secondhand variety: "The progress which the understanding makes through a book has more pain than pleasure in it."

Thanks to Black Adder, I can't think of Samuel Johnson without thinking of Robbie Coltraine. But, for that matter, I can't think of Boswell without thinking of Auntie Mame. Go fig.

-The Gneech
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Kero Power Tie

Catholic (adj.)

broad or wide-ranging in tastes, interests, or the like; having sympathies with all; broad-minded; liberal.

laurie_robey and I are currently hanging out at Catholic University as we wait for our seminar on "Optimizing Your Web Sites for Google Search" hosted by Adam Lasnik to begin. The facilities are entirely too nice for a college campus, even a Catholic one, and we're happily gobbling up their free wifi as we wait.

I must say, I disapprove of the current trend of colleges having decent food and housing for students. The deprivations of living three-to-a-closet and having the Marriott corporation's cruddiest, carb-heavy watery offerings are vital to the cultivation of postgrad nostalgia. How will you know how great it is to be able to eat good food and live in a comfortable place, if you went spent your college years in a resort hotel with professors? Pfui.

It's always fun hanging out at a Catholic institution of any kind; at lunch, a friar (sandals, rope belt and all) with a backpack slung over his back walked by in the cafeteria. There is a large, beautiful old building at the top of the hill which I am assuming is the original college; the rest of the buildings on campus are more contemporary sort of collegiate buildings ... and of course everybody has that quiet air of good-natured sanctimony that never quite lets you forget that if you don't say "please" and "thank you" a hatchet-faced nun will pop out from behind the furniture and thwack you with a ruler.

Still, it's a nice place and looks like a promising seminar. Hooray for getting paid to do something I'd enjoy doing anyway!

-The Gneech
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