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Odd Lots

  • I like nuns (most nuns, if perhaps not all nuns) and I’ve said good things about the few that helped me get started on the road toward personal discipline and basic thinking skills. Over at the Make blog, they’ve got a few photos of an offering left at a monument dedicated to one Sister Nicodema: An elaborately painted wooden lightning bolt carefully delivered in an elaborately crafted custom case. No idea who she was or even where this is in the world, but somebody gets points for originality in implementing the tribute. She must have been one helluva teacher. (The great German term “geistesblitz” comes to mind.)
  • I thought of another couple of Irishisms associated with my grandmother Sade Prendergast Duntemann: Kafoothering (furiously fussing with, or frantic activity generally) and curniklee, which defies easy definition but might be described as gross dirt. Both spellings are phonetic, and I’m guessing the originals are from the Irish language. I haven’t myself used “curniklee” in decades, but “kafoothering” is a wonderful word that bears remembering.
  • Those who don’t read Contra comments on my WordPress main site may have missed Jim O’Brien’s insights on “oonchick,” which in Irish is spelled “oinseach,” and denotes a person of pathetic foolishness or stupidity. He also suggests that since in Irish the suffix “og” means “young,” a “gomog” may be a young gom, which in Irish is an idiot (or an “eejit” as Sade herself might have said.)
  • The “Axis of Evil” patterns that people see in maps of the cosmic background radiation may be caused by lensing at the boundary between the solar solar wind and the slower interstellar wind. Or you can have my completely speculative opinion (not peer reviewed) that the pattern is due to the cumulative effect on the cosmic background caused by everything massive in the universe acting as a very lumpy and unevenly distributed gravitational lens. The universe is not perfectly smooth and featureless. If the cosmic background is indeed leftovers from the Big Bang, it is the farthest source of radiation possible. We’re seeing it, in a sense, through slightly wrinkly glass. How could it be otherwise?
  • At least we’re not seeing the Blessed Mother in the cosmic background hiss… (Thanks to Pete Albrecht for the link.)
  • I’ve known about the Baby Name Voyager for some time, but I don’t think I’ve cited it here before. It’s a Java app charting the popularity of names given to infants since the 1880s. The name “Jeffrey” barely existed until the 1930s, peaked about when I showed up, and then was mostly gone again by 2000. I always thought it was a bad idea. I wanted to be James, and was almost Eric. For a truly fascinating graph, though, enter a single letter, to see the relative popularity of all the names beginning with that letter. Like Q.
  • I’m not a beer drinker, but down at Shop and Save, they have Russian beer in 2-liter plastic bottles. I’ve never before seen beer (nor anything else alcoholic) in what most people think of as soda bottles, and I always figured it was either illegal or simply a bad idea chemically. I guess not.


  1. David Stafford says:

    > beer in 2-liter plastic bottles

    It’s just a convention but conventions affect us in subtle and strong ways that we aren’t conscious of until we encounter a different convention.

    Here in the US beer can be “light” and cola can be “diet.” In Japan it’s just the opposite. They sell Coke Light and diet beer:

    I have to admit– I felt a little uncomfortable the first time I saw this convention reversed.

  2. Aki says:

    All kind of stuff available in plastic bottles…

  3. Jim Tubman says:

    In Canada, wine coolers have been on sale in 2 litre bottles for many, many years. (But not any other kind of alcoholic beverage, as far as I have seen.)

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