August 13, 2007

your harry potter alter ego is?

You scored as Severus Snape. Well you're a tricky one aren't you?

Nobody quite has you figured out and you'd probably prefer it stayed that way.
That said you are a formidable force by anyone's reckoning,
but there is certainly more to you than a frosty exterior and a bitter temper.

Severus Snape


Harry Potter


Sirius Black


Hermione Granger


Ron Weasley


Remus Lupin


Albus Dumbledore


Draco Malfoy


Ginny Weasley


Lord Voldemort


Curious: Go to Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?

why america is not columbia

From a book review in the New York Times:
It’s one of the stranger quirks of history and geography. The continent that was supposedly discovered by Christopher Columbus is named for a decidedly second-rate Johnny-come-lately of an explorer named Amerigo Vespucci. [...] As it turns out, America — this nation of notorious hucksters, dreamers and spin doctors — was named for just the right guy. [...]

In claiming that South America was a continent, Vespucci was only confirming what his mentor and role model Columbus had already established. Vespucci, it turns out, was also not the first to use the phrase “New World” — that distinction goes to Peter Martyr, who had coined the term three years earlier. [...] Even more important than his actual accomplishments were the accounts of his voyages. In his writings he was driven, like many explorers before and since, by a desire to establish a lasting name for himself.

It was in 1507, with the publication of a large cut-out map suitable for creating a do-it-yourself globe, that Vespucci’s first name, if not Vespucci himself, achieved lasting renown. On this map, published in the intellectual backwater of St. Dié in Lorraine, the designation “America” (the feminine of Amerigo) was chosen for the portion of the hemisphere where Vespucci claimed to have landed during his second voyage. In 1538, the noted mapmaker Mercator, apparently referring to the earlier map from St. Dié, chose to use the name America to mark not just the southern but also the northern portion of the continent. The rest, as they say, is history.

August 08, 2007


I overheard the vendor of these cheese curds say "If you make up a word, you can spell it any way you like". He's right, of course, but I think I would have preferred "squeak-a-licious".

August 04, 2007

"Bush visits wrecked Minnesota bridge"

Not to trivialize a serious event, but this Reuters headline, brought to my attention on TableTalk, is a perfect example of structural ambiguity.

Reading A: [Bush VP[visits NP[wrecked Minnesota bridge]]]
Reading B: [Bush visits] VP[wrecked NP[Minnesota bridge]]