Category Archives: Orbilius

Quotation of the Day

Proud Modern Learning despises the antient: School-men are now laught at by School-boys. (Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1758)

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Botulism Strikes French Philosopher

This is the best thing of its kind since the Sokol hoax.

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A Musical Anniversary

Does a 125th birthday count as a significant anniversary? If so — also if not — today is Alban Berg’s 125th. In commemoration, I’m playing the only really tolerable pieces written by the New Vienna School, Berg’s Violin Concerto and … Continue reading

Posted in Music, Orbilius | 1 Comment

Quotation of the Day

Like all artists when they are not looking merely outrageous, Onuphrius was very particular about his appearance. It was not that he dressed fashionably, but he always tried to give his lamentable selection of clothes a certain romantic dash, and … Continue reading

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For Ignorant Tourists

Proposed motto for the city of Staunton, Virginia: Staunton: The ‘U’ is Silent

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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 | 4 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

Posted in Etymology, Orbilius | 1 Comment


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

Posted in General, Orbilius | 3 Comments

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

Posted in Commentaries, Orbilius | 1 Comment

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

Posted in Culture: Fiction, Orbilius | 1 Comment