a little wordplay

Capacity 26 Passengers
– sign in a bus

Affable, bibulous,
corpulent, dull,
garrulous, humorous,
icy, jejune,
knockabout, laden-
with-luggage (maroon),
mild-mannered, narrow-necked,
oval-eyed, pert,
seductive, tart, vert-
iginous, willowy,
xanthic (or yellow),
young, zebuesque are my
passengers fellow.

by John Updike

I have to admit I didn’t catch the alphabetical order reference of the words at first.

I mostly was interested in trying to figure out what “xanthic” and “zebuesque” meant.

Updike tells us that xanthic means yellow. It actually refers to a chemical by the same name and a skin pigment color.

The web site called Dictionary of Difficult Words associates it with these:

xanthochroid, n. & a. fair-haired and pale-skinned (person). xanthochroism, n. condition in which all skin pigments except yellow and orange disappear.
xanthoma, n. skin disease causing yellow patches.
xanthopsia, n. optical defect causing everything to seem yellow.
xanthous, a. yellow- or red-haired; yellow-skinned.

Cool. And about that “zebuesque.” Couldn’t raise anything online so I was reduced to pulling out one of my collection of dictionaries. It was there that I figured out that the word is zebu-esque. And refers to a Zebu.

My dictionary mentioned the hump on the back and described its ears as “pendulous.” So the passenger Updike is describing must have a hunchback and funny ears.

Finally, it took this entry of a teacher on a web site to cue me in that “U” is missing. I figure that’s for Updike.


A Moderate Conservative Dilemma – NYTimes.com

Amazing man described in this article. He is so sensible it’s hard to believe he’s a politician.


Broccoli and Bad Faith – NYTimes.com

It looks like the Supreme Court is gearing up for another bad ruling (like Bush V. Gore). What bothers me about this is not the partisanship but the obvious confusion on the part of people (supreme court justices!)  who are critical of the Affordable Health Care Act.

When people choose not to buy broccoli, they don’t make broccoli unavailable to those who want it. But when people don’t buy health insurance until they get sick — which is what happens in the absence of a mandate — the resulting worsening of the risk pool makes insurance more expensive, and often unaffordable, for those who remain.

Here’s what Charles Fried — who was Ronald Reagan’s solicitor general — said in a recent interview with The Washington Post: “I’ve never understood why regulating by making people go buy something is somehow more intrusive than regulating by making them pay taxes and then giving it to them.”

from the article above


The Gated Community Mentality – NYTimes.com

Article by a guy who is writing a book on Gated Communities.

Gated communities churn a vicious cycle by attracting like-minded residents who seek shelter from outsiders and whose physical seclusion then worsens paranoid groupthink against outsiders

Mr. Martin’s “suspicious” profile amounted to more than his black skin. He was profiled as young, loitering, non-property-owning and poor. Based on their actions, police officers clearly assumed Mr. Zimmerman was the private property owner and Mr. Martin the dangerous interloper. After all, why did the police treat Mr. Martin like a criminal, instead of Mr. Zimmerman, his assailant? Why was the black corpse tested for drugs and alcohol, but the living perpetrator wasn’t?

from the above article


Burning Man’s Cry for Help – NYTimes.com

This link is for you, Sarah J. It looks like even Burning Man can be corrupted.


And Now, the Wait for the Health Care Ruling – NYTimes.com

Some excellent letters to the editor at this link.


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