Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2019

Computer mice or computer mouses?

The English word mouse has been around longer than the English language has.Its origin is in the Proto-Germanic word mūs, which is also a word for the rodent.It gave rise to the Old English mous and mowse, the German Maus, and the Dutch muis.The reason the word has the peculiar plural form of mice is due to a process known as cheshirization, where a change in the way certain sounds in a language change, but an obsolete phonological distinction gets reclassified as a new form.To make this simpler, mice is descended from the Proto-Germanic mūsiz, which is the form of the nominative and vocative declensions of mūs.You need not know what a declension is, except that the vocative declension no longer exists in English (not as a distinct, marked form, at least).The only way a declension changes the modern English word mouse is when we use the possessive declension mouse’s.Declensions are something you need to have a better grasp on if you learn modern German (and even more so if you learn …

Genesis 27: Favorite Son and Casual Racism

Isaac was old and practically blind.He felt the end was coming, so he called his boy Esau in and told him to go out hunting wild game for him.“Kill me something that tastes good and I’ll do something really nice for you before I die.Which is soon.”So Esau took off for the countryside to go kill an animal.
Rebekah heard this and approached her boy Jacob.She told him she’d like him to bring her a couple of kids so she could make something she knows Isaac will like, rather than take their chances on whatever animal Esau happens to catch.(Oh, and kids means baby goats, just to be clear.Isaac hasn’t converted to Baalism or anything like that.Kosher laws do not exist yet, but cannibalism is still frowned upon.)Jacob wasn’t sure about this plan.“Dad expects Esau to do this, not me,” he told his mother.“He can barely see anymore, so we might be able to pull this over on him.But what if he touches me?Then he’ll know I’m not that hairball wilderness-dweller of a brother of mine, but rather the…


In the late 1960s, recreational drugs were becoming more popular than ever in the United States.  They were promoted and celebrated by the counterculture.  Marijuana and cocaine were widely used, as were hallucinogens like psilocybin and LSD.  Most of these drugs were processed plants and/or chemicals, but marijuana was pretty much rolled and smoked in its natural form.  Its only processing was drying it out, just like tobacco.  40% of Americans smoked tobacco, and it was perfectly harmless (except for increased risk of lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, etc.)  “How can you ban a plant?” defenders of marijuana asked.  “It’s a dangerous, addictive plant!” its detractors replied.
Defenders of marijuana wanted to move the fight to their territory: you can’t ban a plant.  That’s why the discovery of bananadine was so important.  It, too, came from a plant.  It was a hallucinogen, like the synthetic LSD.  Bananadine was found in the skins of bananas, which you could find in most any gro…

Napoleon vs the Rabbits

On July 7, 1807, Napoleon Bonaparte signed the first of the Treaties of Tilsit.  This was with Emperor Alexander I of Russia, which established an alliance between the French Empire and Imperial Russia that would endure forever, or for the next five years, whichever came first.  The second Treaty of Tilsit was signed on July 9 on behalf of the King of Prussia.  Prussia had already signed an armistice with France a couple weeks earlier, but the purpose of this treaty was to demand territory from Prussia.  From this territory, Napoleon set up the puppet states of the Kingdom of Westphalia, the Free City of Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland), and the Duchy of Warsaw.  Prussia was stripped of about half of its territory, and was forced to reduce its army significantly.  Russia entered into war with Great Britain and Sweden when it aligned itself with France, which was great news for France.  France was shaping up like a military juggernaut in Europe; no continental power seemed strong enough to …