Category Archives: Orbilius

Truth in Advertising

A local convenience store has a sign out front: Cheeseburgers Buy 1, Get 1

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Just Wondering . . .

Terry Teachout titles a post “FAQ and A”. Is that a pun on “F***in’ A”, or do I just have a dirty (and pun-obsessed) mind?

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And You Thought Roman Numerals Were Unnecessarily Complex . . .

Eugene Volokh quotes M. I. Finley’s warning about the unreliability of numbers in ancient authors: Even the rare figure to which an ancient author treats us is suspect a priori …. [W]hen Thucydides (7.27.5) tells us that more than 20,000 … Continue reading

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No One Can Escape the Tentacles of the State

I don’t generally waste money on ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ foodstuffs, but when I buy a delicious gooey granola bar from a man wearing a fringe beard, straw hat, white shirt, and suspenders, I really don’t like it to have quite … Continue reading

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“Government by Clowns”?

In a recent post at Chicago Boyz, David Foster asks “what the proper Greek would be for ‘government by clowns’”. There are several possibilities: A bomolochos was originally “one that waited about the altars, to beg or steal some of … Continue reading

Posted in Etymology, Orbilius | 3 Comments

Latin Puzzle

I think it was Patterico’s Pontifications where I recently ran across a weblog called Verum Serum. An interesting name, since it has three or four meanings in Latin: True Whey (taking Verum as an adjective and Serum as a noun). … Continue reading

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In its article on Leibniz, Wikipedia reports: “No philosopher has ever had as much experience with practical affairs of state as Leibniz, except possibly Marcus Aurelius.” Possibly? Privy Counselor of Justice to the House of Brunswick, trusted adviser to the … Continue reading

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One in Sixty Million or So

The Perseus Collection of Greek and Roman Materials provides a convenient list of Word Counts by Language. As of half an hour ago, the totals were: English (42,956,587 words) French (2,001 words) German (426,929 words) Greek (8,263,757 words) Italian (178 … Continue reading

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When Euphemisms Mislead

InstaPundit writes that if Obama takes Nick Gillespie’s advice to legalize and tax drugs, gambling, and prostitution, “it’ll be your patriotic duty to smoke dope and sleep with hookers”. My knowledge of hookers is purely theoretical, but surely if you’re … Continue reading

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Life in a Small Town

Most depressing things I’ve seen or heard in the last two weeks: 1. The policeman who pulled me over for speeding last Tuesday asked me about my driving record and I told him, quite truthfully, that I’ve had four moving … Continue reading

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Quotation of the Day

“I had made the discovery that if you put people in a comic light they became more likable — if you spoke of someone as a gross, belching, wall-eyed human pike you got along much better with him thereafter, partly … Continue reading

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Quotation of the Day

“You never do the safe thing if there’s a risky alternative. You’re what people would call feckless, in the days when such words were still in use.” (Saul Bellow, Ravelstein, p. 43) Those were presumably the days when copy editors … Continue reading

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Bad Things Come in Threes

In his commentary on Horace’s Soracte Ode (1.9), David West writes: “Horace says sententiously, ‘When winds stop blowing, trees stop shaking’, meaning of course that unpleasant things do not last for ever. This could be said of a plague of … Continue reading

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Yet Another Peculiarity of the English Language

Until I sat down today to compile a review worksheet on Latin prepositions, I had never noticed an inconsistency or inconcinnity in the names of the parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. If non-visible frequencies of light are seen as metaphorically … Continue reading

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Royal Edward

A British policeman is looking for a millionaire at a posh hotel in Bradford: It was called the Royal Edward, and for once it lived up to its name. The foyer was all white and gold and plush pink, with … Continue reading

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General Tso’s Chicken

At least that’s what some of the other generals say.

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Missing the Obvious Pun

I wish I’d known about Barney Greenglass the Sturgeon King when I worked for six months just a few blocks away: very tasty. But if I were in the lox business I would call myself the Sturgeon General.

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Pedantic Joke/Riddle

What are the two (2) ingredients in a Hirtius salad, and why do I call it that? If it helps (it probably won’t) I just had one with a can of kippered herring and some crackers.

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Unidiomatic Spam

When I see the subject-line “How to handle wild babies?”, I can’t help thinking of feral infants: an interesting concept for a horror movie, if it hasn’t already been done. (I’m not much interested in horror movies, so I wouldn’t … Continue reading

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Unusually Vain Vanity Plate

Seen on a new or nearly new Saab 9-3 convertible: SNAAB Too bad the car was an unattractive shade of green, because the pun is excellent.

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