Monday, 30 March 2015

Thursday, 26 March 2015


A zeugma is an interesting device that can cause confusion in sentences, while also adding some flavor. Let's take a famous example from Star Trek: The Next Generation: "You are free to execute your laws, and your citizens, as you see fit." In this sentence, the word "execute" applies to both laws and citizens, and as a result, has a shocking effect.

Therefore, a zeugma is a figure of speech where a word applies to multiple parts of the sentence. In the above example, it has a dramatic effect. However, sometimes the attempted use of a zeugma can be confusing.

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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Morton's fork

A Morton's Fork is a specious piece of reasoning in which contradictory arguments lead to the same (unpleasant) conclusion. It is said to originate with the collecting of taxes by John Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury in the late 15th century, who held that a man living modestly must be saving money and could therefore afford taxes, whereas if he was living extravagantly then he was obviously rich and could still afford them.

See more at's_fork


A character is presented two alternatives, A and B. If the character chooses A, then something bad happens. If they choose B, a similar or identical bad thing happens — but for a different reason. The Many Questions Fallacy is often a form of this, where a loaded question ("Have you stopped beating your wife lately?") precludes a "safe" answer (since, in this case, by deigning to answer the question, you are essentially admitting that suspicions about you beating your wife are legitimate).

Also see mentioned Hobson's choice, Xanatos Gambit, Sadistic Choice, Contrast Sweet and Sour Grapes, etc, etc

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Thursday, 19 March 2015

It's not over until the fat lady sings

Q:Who is the fat lady?

Q:Why is it not over until she sings?
A: Kate Smith, a large lady, used to sing the 'Star Spangled Banner' at the end of American football matches in the 1950s. Thus one knew the game was over when she sang.
A:The phrase "It's not over until the fat lady sings" is actually a mis-quote. The correct phrase is "It's not over until the fat lady sinks" and has its origins in the game of billiards. The black eight ball was commonly referred to as the "fat lady" so no matter how bad the game was for a competitor it wasn't over until the "fat lady" sank.!!

Monday, 16 March 2015

A jag

To me, a jag is still a short brass finger on the end of a cleaning rod that is wrapped in four-by-two before being shoved up a rifle barrel with a cry of "up yours!", sar-major.

To anyone in Scotland, a jag is a needle injection, usually preceded by a verbal warning "just a tiny prick". When the person offering just a tiny prick is male, polite patients suppress a smile. Fully-vaccinated children are referred to as having "had all their jags".

from alt.usage.english

Thursday, 12 March 2015


The practice of chclobirie (literally beating one's forehead on the ground) was adopted as part of Russian court etiquette ...

From Russia: A 1,000-Year Chronicle of the Wild East, By Martin Sixsmith

Sunday, 8 March 2015


Doxing, sometimes spelled as Doxxing, refers to the practice of investigating and revealing a target subject’s personally identifiable information, such as home address, workplace information and credit card numbers, without consent. The word is derived from “docs,” which is a shortened term for “documents.”

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