Beautiful ringing of the changes on synonyms for reject, in the sense of veto, in Sarah Vogelsong’s “Churchill Downs faces tough election night in Virginia:”

… voters decisively defeated both measures. Almost 59% of Manassas Park voters rejected the Rosie’s referendum, while almost 62% of Richmond voters nixed the casino project — a stark contrast to the 51%-49% split on the casino in 2021 when Urban One was the plan’s sole backer. (emphasis added)

Some links: 96

Some links: 94

Some links: 93

Some links: 91

  • Mr. and Mrs. Pickles have three baby tortoises! Cuter than cute.
  • They were gone before I knew what to call them: David W. Dunlap of The New York Times remembers reader ads.
  • “I can’t define it, but I’m against it.” Also from the Times, Nate Cohn attempts a definition of woke and what it portends.

    … much of what woke is grasping toward: a word to describe a new brand of righteous, identity-conscious, new left activists eager to tackle oppression, including in everyday life and even at the expense of some liberal values.

    * * *

    In the most extreme case for Democrats, the backlash against the new left could end in a repeat of how New Left politics in the 1960s facilitated the marriage of neoconservatives and the religious right in the 1970s. Back then, opposition to the counterculture helped unify Republicans against a new class of highly educated liberals, allowing Southern opponents of civil rights to join old-school liberal intellectuals who opposed Communism and grew skeptical of the Great Society. The parallels are imperfect, but striking.

  • Isobel Novick stans webbing clothes moths (Tineola bisselliella).

    These moths, unfortunately for those with infestations, have other behaviors that contribute to their indestructibility. They can metabolize their own water as a byproduct of keratin digestion, so access to water is not a dealbreaker for survival. What kind of organism can create its own water? This moth has evolved to be an efficient, dynamic, super-survival machine. They are incredibly temperature tolerant, with the ability to survive as eggs or larvae for several days at broiling temperatures as high as 95 degrees F and as far below freezing as 5 degrees F. They are attracted to the smell of woolens, and once established, send pheromonal signals to nearby moths to invite them to party. To add to their tank-like nature, webbing clothes moths can digest toxic metals like arsenic, mercury, and lead. They have no problem metabolizing synthetic materials or chewing through soft plastics. They have even been found on mummified human remains and have been around long enough to be mentioned in the Bible.

  • 17th-18th century tomfoolery: dummy boards.

I’m going to make this a thing, too

Teachers understand that errors in their learners’ output are normal and complex. They can be… a misapplication of an analogy (e.g., if “let’s do lunch” is correct, then “let’s do sandwich” should be fine also).

—Andrea B. Hellman et al., The 6 Principles for Exemplary Teaching of English Learners: Adult Education and Workforce Development (2019), p. 63

Woolf decoded

Yes, he [Peter Walsh] remembered Regent’s Park; the long straight walk; the little house where one bought air-balls to the left; an absurd statue with an inscription somewhere or other.

—Virginia Woolf, The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway (2021) (p. 82), notes by Merve Emre

air-ball turns out to be a bit of a disappointment. I was hoping that it meant a tasty treat. But big Oxford has “a ball inflated with air, a toy so called.” Also it appears to be a Briticism that has fallen out of use. Webster II doesn’t have an entry, nor does my Concise Oxford of 1990.

And, of course, nothing to do with a missed shot, although I suppose you could launch an air ball with an air-ball.

I’m OK with “yinz”

One more nuance in Shakespeare to look out for: pronoun choice. From John McWhorter’s latest column for the Times:

In Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” Benedick, likely wanting to connote intimacy to Beatrice, tells her, “Come, bid me do anything for thee.” But a bit later, when he is addressing a more formal and even menacing matter, he switches to “you”: “Think you in your soul the Count Claudio hath wronged Hero?”

And an opportunity missed:

Old English’s pronoun for “she” was “heo,” which sounded so much like “he” that by the time Middle English was widespread in the 1200s, some dialects were using “he” to address both men and women. Yes, even long before the births of Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare, English was on its way to developing a new gender-neutral pronoun. But apparently that did not feel quite right to many speakers. Thus, speakers recruited one of several words that meant “the” at the time, “seo,” which became today’s “she.”

Not one of our better moments

Paul Shore’s sharp criticisms of a recent Throughline episode are a bit sniffy, but on target: “Language is not script and script is not language, part 2.” The unfortunate episode constitutes a précis of a recent book by Jing Tsu, and presents her thoughts uncritically, leading to muddy thinking uncharacteristic of NPR.

In fairness, it’d be excessive to expect the Throughline production team to have learned about the science of linguistics and created a respectable linguistics-oriented podcast/broadcast in the relatively short time they presumably had available;… [if] the team wanted to do an episode on this general subject they’d want to devote an unusually large amount of preproduction, production, and postproduction time to it, in order to get things right within what for most people is a pretty obscure field.

When notices about Jing Tsu’s book came out earlier this year, I thought, “Wait — what? Simplifying its writing system had something to do with modernizing the natural language? How does that work? When did that happen?” The episode left me none the more enlightened.

Not i.e., not e.g.

Oh, a very much useful annotation unearthed by M. Paul Shore: recte.

For the last four-and-a-half decades of my life, from late teens to early sixties, I’ve had the nagging feeling that there ought to be a Latin scholarly expression that one could use when presenting the correction of an erroneous word or words in quoted material alongside the error itself.