Lighter side of our world |

Lighter side of our world

During the course of my commentary research I come upon material for almost everyone.Unlike English, nouns in French are designated as either masculine or feminine. A house is feminine, “la mansion,” while a pencil is masculine, “le crayon.” So what gender is a computer? A group of men might reason that computers are feminine (“la computere”) because: no one but their creator understands their internal logic; the native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else; even the smallest mistakes are stored in long-term memory for possible later review; and as soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your salary on accessories for it.On the other hand, a group of women might see things differently, that computer is actually masculine (“le computere”) because: 1) in order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on; they have a lot of data, but still can’t think for themselves; they are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they ARE the problem; and as soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.– n nA major research institution has recently announced the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science. This new element has been tentatively named “administratium.”Administratium has 1 neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 111 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by a force called morons, which is surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Since administratium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected as it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of administratium causes one reaction to take over four days to complete when it would normally take a millisecond. Administratium has a normal half-life of three years, but it does not decay. Instead it undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons and assistant deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, administratium’s mass will actually increase over time, since reorganization causes some morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes. This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to speculate that administratium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as “critical morass.”– n n On its maiden voyage, the world’s largest nuclear vessel (at that time), the USS George Washington, set sail along with its battle group for the Mediterranean Sea. Prior to entering “The Med” all ships must pass through the Straits of Gibraltar, where there are required by international maritime law to signal the NATO radio station there of their identity.When the George Washington failed to render the proper signal and the NATO commander of the station signaled to the world’s largest aircraft carrier, “What ship?” The captain of the George Washington being somewhat piqued by the situation returned the message with the reply, “What rock?”– n n Gender-neutral terms (flight attendant rather than stewardess, for example) include words usually ascribed to women in our “politically correct” world. The term waitress persists despite or perhaps because of the existence of other synonyms such as server, waiter (a 15th century-coinage), waitperson (from the 1970s), and waitron, a new coinage that has yet to become firmly established anywhere outside of Aspen.However, there is one more “waitress” neologism to add for consideration: it’s wactress. This term is becoming increasing popular in places like New York and Hollywood. It means a young woman tired of explaining herself as a would-be actress who pays her bills by waiting tables.– n nBy definition, a contronym, a word coined by Richard Lederer, has more than one meaning. That’s because contronym names a word that’s either contradictory or confusing. Appropriately enough, the contronym comes in at least two flavors. They can sound the same, they can be spelled the same, or they can be both. Take seed. When a garden is “seeded,’ seeds are planted in it. When a fruit is “seeded,” seeds are taken out of it. Then there’s oral. Oral describes something spoken, or uttered by the mouth. Aural describes something of or related to the ear or the sense of hearing. Ready for a few more? When stars are out, they can be seen; when lights are out, things are dark. Other contronyms in our collection include oversight, meaning either “watchful and responsible care” or “an inadvertent omission or error”; sanction, which can mean either “approbation” or “disapprobation”; and shank, which when used temporally names the early, main, or latter part of a period of time.– n n What is resistentialism? It’s the term that most aptly describes how inanimate technological objects are inherently hostile to humans. For proof think of the last time you visited a friend or relative and attempted to turn on his or her television set.There are usually four different but similar looking devices that operate the TV, digital cable box, the VCR and the DVD player. It usually takes the correct combination of at least two of these to actually turn on the TV, but unfortunately only the children who live in the house know which two or three of the four devices work. And as far as actually changing channels or attempting to watch a video or DVD without the children present, well, forget it.Butch Mazzuca of Singletree writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at bmazz68@earthlink.netVail, Colorado

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