Monthly Archives: July 2011

Brush off the Dust Best of the Web 7/25-7/29/11

This week’s digest has some great photography included!  But, the stories are pretty unique and interesting, too.

1. Up, up and away!  The spectacular photos of world record-breaking balloonists taking to the sky

Record breakers: The magical moment a staggering 343 hot air balloons took to the air at the same time

Ok, so I really like hot air balloons.  They are colorful and perdy!  This is about a new record for balloons lifting off at the same time.  It is really in here for the pictures.  Read it by clicking here.

2. Historically Hardcore

Historically Hardcore - 50 Cent / Roosevelt

The Smithsonian’s new advertising campaign was covered in online design mag Whitezine…check out Andrew Jackson’s parrot!  Read it by clicking here.

3. Valentine Byler vs. the IRS “Pay unto Caesar — the Amish and Social Security

Amish Country News Buggy

This is a quirky, but fascinating piece!  Written in five parts for an Amish rag, it suffers from a little repetitiveness, but is still quite readable.  Did you know the Amish neither pay. nor contribute to Social Security?  Read it by clicking here.

4. Feds: Harvard fellow hacked millions of papers

Aaron Swartz's Reckless Activism

Aaron Schwartz is being indicted for hacking and stealing from JSTOR.  The young Harvard fellow was studying ethics and actually crashed the online service one day because of his downloading activity.  It is an interesting case, as he was planning put the articles on file-sharing websites.  JSTOR is a paid service, but if you have access to a university library you can pretty much use it at your leisure.  Read it by clicking here.

5. Research grant combines astrophysics and archeology to decipher ancient texts

A fragment from a "lost gospel" recently discovered in the Oxyrinchus Papyri. Credit: Egypt Exploration Society and Imaging Papyri Project, Oxford

Get your geek on!  Does it get any better?  Astrophysics and archaeology, together?  Read it by clicking here.

6. Books-rupturing-the-walls installation

Greatest picture ever!!  Boing-Boing covered this art piece for an office building in Portland.  It was commissioned by the ad agency who uses the space.  Read it by clicking here.

7. In Alchemy’s Defense

JH Magazine

Johns Hopkins professor, Lawrence Principe, is defending the honor of alchemists and their contributions to science:  “Most of the techniques that chemists now use in labs were developed in the Middle Ages,” Principe says. “What alchemists and chemists were doing at that time was incredibly similar.”  Enlightenment thinkers ran the campaign to discredit alchemists, but the processes developed were continued.  Read it by clicking here.

8. Say Good-bye to Your Dragon Tattoo: Why Translation Still Does and Will Always Matter

This blog post from Yale Press discusses the importance of translations and the dual contributions of two artists in a collaboration that may only span a few years, but can cross millennia!  Read it by clicking here.

9. Speaking Neatly

This is an ode to the skill of well-written aphorisms, while at the same time a cutting critique of Marxist aphorisms.  A neatly written piece that will goad some and thrill others.  Read it by clicking here.

10. As Chefs Become More Observant, Kosher Menus Go Gourmet

Deliciously Kosher: Moshe Wendel puts the finishing touches on a dish at Pardes, his restaurant in Brooklyn.

This article focuses on a Kosher revolution due to the fact that, “Much of this change has been propelled by baalei teshuvah chefs and diners, those who were raised in the religious world, left an observant life and returned, or those who became more observant later in life.”  Good article for foodies and those interested in the twists and turns of American culture and subcultures. Read it by clicking here.

11. Exiled Author Ma Jian banned from visiting China

ma jian

Chinese author, Ma Jian, comments on the worsening political condition in China, based on his own experiences and those of others imprisoned recently.  Interestingly, he points to the Beijing Olympics which taught the government that they could suppress and crack down without alienating the international community.  Read it by clicking here.

Hope you enjoyed it!!

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Berlin, 1950 – Reflections

While the blog is called “Brush off the dust!” and I evoke the image of treasure hunting through the grandparents’ attic, I have never had the opportunity to crawl through any of my own grandparents’ attics.  In fact, I am pretty certain Mom’s parents did not have an attic in either of the houses I visited.  Dad’s family lives in Germany, so my opportunities to go attic-spelunking in Deutschland have been relatively few.  (For the record, I envy those of you whose matriarchs and patriarchs own attics.)

Conveniently enough, for me, my grandmother sent some small portion of her “attic”-worthy belongings my way when she made the decision to downsize earlier this summer.  (What treasures!)  Among these are included English-language relics of post-war Germany.

Grandpa was already an Army officer when the U.S. entered World War II, having signed up in Wyoming back in the 1920s.  While he did not actually see any fighting action as a logistics officer, he was in France behind the front lines, negotiating for lodging and food for the reconquest of France and Germany.  After the war, in 1949, he was stationed there, in Würzburg.  So, in my possession are several German publications, three of which I want to share, here.

One of the things I received among my Grandma’s treasures were Grandpa’s 1943, U.S. War Department-issued, introductory German language guide (TM 30-306).  Being reasonably competent in German, myself, I find this little booklet rather absurd and amusing.  (Pity the poor American sergeant who relied upon this guide to make his way!)  One particularly interesting aspect I noted is the pronunciation of the Germanich, the most important of which is the nominative, first person singular, Ich, which is described as “ish.”  I don’t know if it was done like this because the actual pronunciation is difficult to describe in text to English-speakers, if it was accidental because the writers of the guide were from Berlin, or learned from German-speakers speaking in the Berlin dialect, or if it was intentional that Americans should speak as Germans from the German capital.  Regardless, the guide must have produced thousands of ludicrous moments between awkward-speaking American soldiers and the beleaguered Germans.

U.S. War Department document TM 30-306

ublished for military personnel only,” June 22, 1943 by the U.S. War Department.”]

German-speaking areas shaded in black, according to the War Department

Throughout the guide are cartoons featuring "German" dialogue, though all is written as it should be pronounced, not spelled. Note the wiener dog; he appears in each cartoon at varying lengths.

Berlin was divided into four zones, just as the rest of Germany was, following the Allied defeat of the Nazis: the American, French, British and Soviet sectors.  Relations with WWII-ally Soviet Russia began to deteriorate quickly as the Second World War ended and the Cold War began.  This was dramatically played out in Berlin as the Soviets tried to starve the West out of West Berlin, leading to the dramatic Berlin Airlift.  (For a great synopsis of Berlin in 1948-9, click here to see this segment of CNN’s Cold War series, Episode 4.)

In 1950, right after the blockade had been broken with the Airlift, my Grandma’s Women’s Club got permission to travel through the Soviet sector and visit Berlin.  As a result of the blockade being broken, the Soviets allowed periodic visits across their zone capping the numbers per month.  I have an English language brochure about Berlin that was printed by Graphische Gesellschaft Grunewald, “issued by the ‘Official Travel Office’ [sic] of the City of Berlin.”  This answers questions such as, “How do I get to Berlin?” (“The time has passed when it was complicated and inconvenient to make arrangements for a visit to Berlin.  Today there are excellent air and road services to Berlin.  There is no difference between arranging a trip to Berlin and travelling in the Western zones.  However if travelling by car or railway a Russian visa must be obtained from a Soviet Consulate prior to departure in order that you can cross the Soviet zone.”)  “By what means shall I travel?”  (“Air travel is by far the fastest and least complicated method of reaching Berlin.  In this case a Russian visa need not be obtained.”)  “What currency is used in Berlin?”  (“The currency used in the three Western Sectors of Berlin is the same as in Western Germany, namely the German West Mark (DMW).  In the Soviet Sector of Berlin the currency used is the German East Mark.  It should be borne in mind that it is not permitted to have West Marks in one’s possession when visiting the Soviet Sector or Zone.”)  And, so on.  The “Official Travel Office,” or Verkerhrsamt, was located on Fasanenstrasse at Berlin-Charlottenburg in the Western zone.  The brochures placid answers and matter-of-routine tone fail to mask the sinister reality of East Berlin and Soviet-controlled East Germany: anything “not permitted,” especially something so simple as having foreign currency, should not feel so ominous!

"Welcome to Berlin" Hints for guests travelling to Berlin from foreign countries

"Is there any Night Life? The Night Life of Berlin is in full service and colourful electric signs show the way to a great variety of comfortable bars and night clubs."

"Berlin has an excellent telephone and telegraph service. Long distance telephone calls and telegrams may be sent and accepted to and from all parts of the world.

For this trip, busing Army wives through East Germany to Berlin, the Special Services issued a tour booklet: Special Services Tour of Berlin, 1950.  (It was compiled by Viviane W. Adams of the Berlin Military Post.)  The booklet covers historic German landmarks, some former Nazi landmarks (such as the SS and Gestapo Headquarters) and other tourist sites–many of them still in ruins from the bombing.

Light reading for a bus trip through Soviet-occupied East Germany.

Map of Berlin glued and folded into the back of the book

Soviet sector of the city

American zone

British sector

French zone

The sights in Berlin

Potsdamer Platz after the war

Future location of the Berlin Wall

The seat of the German Parliament during days of the monarchy and the Weimar Republic, built in 1884-94.

If I have the opportunity, I will need to ply Grandma for more information and stories (maybe photographs!) about the trip.  I know she recently relayed to Mom that a friend of hers wanted to see the airport where the Airlift had taken place on this trip and they were able to go right up to it and take pictures.  I hope Grandma took pictures, too!  Back to the “attic” I’ll go!

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Word of the Week, 7/25-7/30: ballad

ballad |’bælad| • n. a poem or song narrating a story in short stanzas.  Traditional ballads are typically of unknown authorship, having been passed on orally from one generation to the next as part of the folk culture.

• a slow sentimental or romantic song

~ The Oxford Essential Dictionary of Difficult Words

There is a rich tradition of ballads in American history.  Many, especially those born out of the working experiences of slavery, the Industrial Revolution and the frontier, are homegrown.  But, many are also the musical heritage of our immigrant population.  Regardless of origin, for years, these songs and stories were the principle form of entertainment, as well as a way to capture community history and folk lore.

Early Americans of the colonial era brought ballads with them from the Old Country.  Many of the songs collected in Folk Songs of the Southern Appalachians, originally published in 1965, by Jean Ritchie, are English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish.  These were preserved in the Appalachian hills by generations of American communities while songs of Native American origin and newer American songs were added to the corpus.

The Library of Congress (LOC) was responsible for the preservation of many old American and immigrant songs before they were lost to history.  (Some of which are available online in digital collections at this web address.)  This is largely thanks to the efforts by the LOC staff and field teams, such as Alan Lomax (who wrote the original forward for the aforementioned Jean Ritchie book) and his brother who worked for the LOC’s Archive of American Folk Song in the early days of sound recordings during the first part of the 20th century.  The LOC has retained personal notes and internal documents, such as this one, which shows some of the methodology used to help preserve this part of American History.

The Oxford English Dictionary (1971), aka the OED, defines ballad more broadly than the smaller Essential Dictionary of Difficult Words does, and shows the many evolutions the meaning of the word took:

*1. A song intended as an accompaniment to a dance; the tune to which the song is sung…

2. A light, simple song of any kind…

*3. A popular song; often spec. one celebrating or scurrilously attacking persons or institutions…

*4. A proverbial saying usually in the form of a couplet; a posy

5. A simple spirited poem in short stanzas, originally a “ballad” in sense 3. [above] in which some popular story is graphically narrated.  (This sense is essentially modern: with Milton, Addison, and even Johnson, the idea of song was present.)…

*Archaic terms no longer used.

(One may also find “ballader” or “balladist” for one who composes ballads, as well as many verbs and descriptives which are derived from the word.)

In its earliest forms, ballad is also written as “ballade” (although this word is also used to describe a particular form of poetry, which is how Geoffrey Chaucer used the word), but was pronounced the same.  The earliest written evidence of the word ballad in the context of a sentimental or romantic song is in 1498 (meaning 2. in the excerpt).

Many of these songs are preserved in the older song books of the Girl Scouts and other camping song books because the music is perfect for a campfire–sans TV, radio, internet or Ipod!–as many are sung in rounds and are often easy to accompany with a guitar or hand motions.

The stories that are preserved in the ballads are essential ingredients to our cultural past, ranging from the Early Modern era into our current era.  It is, however, interesting to note that the older songs have often inspired future musicians, many of whom gave the songs new life stilled played, today.

Here are some examples:

The first two are from Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter.  Born at the end of the 19th century, he has to be one of the first generation of recorded artists who made a living with his music: his worn southern voice and his 12-string guitar.  He grew up in the deep South and spent some of his time as young man in Texas–including jail time.  Most of the music he did not write himself!  These were already embedded in his regional culture when he was “discovered” by LOC people including Lomax and his brother.

The song below is alternately know as “Black Girl” or “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”

The song will be best known to modern audiences thanks to Kurt Cobain and Nirvana’s Unplugged concert:

Another famous song from Leadbelly’s repertoire is the “Midnight Special” which was a song from a state pen just south of Houston called Sugarland.  While the song was around before Leadbelly and his stay in Sugarland, he does make the song his own, having sung it many ways before settling on his own version with some of his personal color embellishing the verses.  The title of the song refers to a South Pacific train that left Houston just after eleven’o’clock in the evening, headed for San Antonio and beyond.  Its lights flashed the cells and its whistle taunted the inmates.

I first encountered the song as it was done, rather well, I think, by Creedence Clearwater Revival–a band heavily influenced by traditional American music–that remains one of the best known, today.  They used Leadbelly’s version of the song:

The Man in Black, Johnny Cash, also borrowed liberally from folk tradition, as did Led Zeppelin, and many of the musicians who contributed to the soundtrack of O Brother, Where Art Thou? to name a few more and round out the selections.

Jean Ritchie includes the song “Hangman” in her book with the following description:

According to the notes on Child ballad number 95, in English and Scottish Popular Ballads, the earliest known versions of this song have a girl as the victim, the song having apparently originated as, “The Maid Freed from the Gallows.”  It concerned a young woman who fell into the hands of corsairs, and each member of her family in turn refuses to pay ransom; then her lover comes and pays down the required fee.  In our family variant as in most others from America and England, it is (more properly!) a man who is being hanged, for what reason the song does not say.  Aside from this change and the omission of motive, the story line is the same, the true love showing up on cue “for to take you home so we can married be.”…

Led Zeppelin’s is likely based on an old English version, although they were also highly influenced by American Blues, as were many English artists (the Rolling stones and Eric Clapton leap to mind).  The version, below, has lyrics:

Songs of the Wild West, published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, includes a song, “The Cowboy’s Lament,” more popularly know as “The Streets of Laredo,” about a dying cowboy found by the singer.  Here, it’s sung by Cash:

Finally, I’ll finish up with some selections taken from the O Brother, Where Art Thou? movie soundtrack.  The music was arguably as popular as the movie, given that a concert series followed the Coen brothers’ movie (a Deep South variation of Homer’s Odyssey with a less noble hero).  While some of the songs are younger than some of these others, there inspiration was in the ballad tradition:

Hope this was fun!

NOTE: In addition to the dictionary sources and the song books already referenced, I used The Life and Legend of Leadbelly by Charles Wolfe and Kip Lornell.

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Brush off the Dust Best of the Web – July18-22

This week’s features include art, neo-Nazis (and old Nazis), space shuttles, Neandertals, the British and more! Read on!

Alexander Calder's 113th Birthday. Courtesy of Calder Foundation / ARS, NY.

Alexander Calder’s 113th birthday today

Calder!  It is Alexander Calder’s birthday!  Google noticed, as you can see from the above Google doodle courtesy of the Calder Foundation which has a website devoted to his life and artwork.  The modern artist, famous for his mobiles, would be 113 today.  He is well-represented in Washington DC, with pieces in both sculpture gardens on the National Mall (the Hirschorn’s and the National Gallery of Art’s), in the foyer of the National Galler of Art’s modern East Wing and in one of the Senate office buildings (Hart).  Visit the Calder website and peruse the life and work of one of my favorite modern artists!

How Twitter Was Nearly Called Twitch: Twitter Co-Founder Jack Dorsey on Coming Up with a Name

This is a fun little interview transcript about the naming of Twitter.  With .coms we have come even further from the days of the “Dutch-India Company” when it comes to naming businesses, but in many respects the concerns remain the same.

NASA’s Space Shuttle by the Numbers: 30 Years of a Spaceflight Icon

As we remembered the Apollo moon landing on July 20th earlier this week, we also saw the end of an era with the final landing of the space shuttle.  This article from Scientific America details the 30 year career of the Space Shuttle by the numbers.  So long old friend!

Rudolf Hess in 1937: Hess, who was Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's deputy and...

Town Removes Grave of Hitler Deputy Hess

The German news outlet Spiegel published this article and photo gallery on its English news site yesterday (I found it via an NPR News tweet).  Hess was one of the few Nazi officers convicted to actually serve out his life sentence, committing suicide and being buried in a Bavarian town.  Weary of the town being a neo-Nazi pilgrimage site on account of the grave, the church took steps to remove it.  Fascinating read with a rather chilling photo album–expecially the photographs taken in our own day.

BREAKING 1776 NEWS: First British Report of America’s Declaration of Independence

From one of my favorite blogs to follow in the Twitterverse, Rag Linen, comes this gem out of 1776 London.  Read the brief post about this missive in a London newspaper.  American history buffs, get your geek on!

US Capitol Under Construction, Washington, DC

Amazing Historical Photos Of Washington D.C. Recreated Today

Washington DC buffs and photography-lovers have got check this photo album out!  This is one of the coolest things I have ever seen!  Someone did something similiar a while back with post-WWII photos of Germany, comparing them to today’s pictures, but this is especially neat because DC was still evolving from farmland to capital city when photography first arrived on the scene.  53 incredible juxtaposed pictures of the old and the current!

Ahead of Their Time: Neandertals and the First Grandparents

This Scientific America article (and the one linked in it) suggest that the survival of grandparents may have aided evolution and the increased sophistication of Neandertals:

Having grandparents around in large numbers would have significantly increased population size, thus fostering innovation and self-expression, and it would have facilitated the transfer of valuable knowledge and cultural traditions to the next generation.

This is a pretty fascinating pre-history piece reinforcing the importance of our grandparents and the heritage of our past being passed onto the next generation.

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A non-baseball Sports Fan, I’m Jumping on the Pirates’ wagon

In some respects, this is easy: I root for the Black and Gold in all professional sports, so, of course, I would root for the Pittsburgh Pirates; and, I am doing it now because they are winning, right now.  This is only a partial explanation for my bandwagon romp.  I’ve never followed baseball.  My family did not watch baseball.  I still don’t know how to score a game.

You may justifiably ask what kind of American I am if I have never been a baseball fan, do I eat apple pie?  Well, I can answer the latter question with a “yes” if it’s quality–no phony jelly stuff, just real apples, etc.  I would answer the real question by saying, firstly, that I am a first-generation American, and, secondly, that I never understood the finer nuances of the game.  (I do get that when you are at bat you try to hit, run three bases and make for home; that if you fail to hit three times, fouls accepting, you’re out; that if you get four bad pitches and don’t swing you walk; that if the baseball you hit is caught by a guy in the in/outfield or you get tagged while running bases you are out; and, that three outs means the other team gets to bat unless it is the bottom of the 9th inning and there is no tie.)  Maybe I should add that the last time the Pirates had a winning season was 1992.  When you are 29 and the home team has lost for 18 years it may be difficult to figure out what makes for good baseball versus bad baseball

So, my leap onto the wagon is a little different than that of others (compare my post with Chris Mack’s blog post).  I come fresh, hopeful and skeptical at the same time, fairly ignorant and excited about having a team to root for in the summer!  I reached this position because of a confluence with my love of history and the Pirates’ first place standing in the National League Central.  This past semester, I taught a history course looking at America’s past through the lens of sports.  The class and I watched The Tenth Inning by Ken Burns.  I loved every minute of it!  (FYI the rest of his baseball series is on my Amazon Wish List . . . and I have a birthday in September . . . just saying.)

All this baseball talk relit an old curiosity I had purely because the sport is entrenched in my country’s history (much like soccer—sorry, Fussball—in the Old Country).  I had this curiosity around the time Bonds was in Black and Gold, but, when the Braves knocked us down into the MLB’s basement, my one baseball friend gradually lost interest.  My only chance for entry onto the diamond evaporated with an eighteen season draught.

So, this time it was a perfect storm.  Sports history—combining sports, society, economy, politics, etc.—left me with an intrigue that had me turning on the TV, here in Baltimore, looking for Pirates games and counting the days they kept a record better than the BoSox.  I had limited expectations.  Can we get to .500?  Can we maybe get above it and stay for a while?  1st place in the NL Central was above my hopes and expectations!  Pittsburgh fans have learned cautious optimism and probably hold onto skepticism longer than most cities where their baseball team is concerned—the standards are considerably different than that of the Steelers and Penguins.  Still, it is exciting that ESPN will feature the Buccos against the Atlanta Braves on Monday Night Baseball next week.  It is a significant landmark for me as I observed that The Tenth Inning began with the Pirates and the Braves, and then did not mention the Pirates again, nor interview anyone from Pittsburgh.

So, it is with giddy anticipation that I head to the Pittsburgh area briefly this weekend, leaving what I hope will be the new MLB desert, humid Baltimore.  I, like Chris Mack, look forward to buying a Pirates hat, unlike Mack, however, this will be my first!

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Word of the Week: augur

augur (verb) To predict or foretell, especially from signs or omens.

Every delegate found a copy of that letter under his door the next morning; this generated wild rumors, huge resentments, a divided convention, a divided Republican Party, and a augured a defeat in November.

~ William F. Buckley, Jr.

The Lexicon, A cornucopia of wonderful words for the inquisitive word lover

This is an old word that I arguably first appreciated when I encountered it in my Latin historiography class on Livy’s history of Rome (a very long volume of 142 books, only 35 of which we still have today, and for which ancient Romans created “Cliff Notes” versions, summarizing each book).  For example, in the following excerpt, Romulus and Remus have just defeated their murderous grandfather, Numitor, and went to a sacred place to discern signs of the will of heaven:

Priori Remo augurium venisse fertur, sex voltures; iamque nuntiato augurio cum duplex numerus Romulo se ostendisset, utrumque regem sua multitudo consalutauerat: tempore illi praecepto, at hi numero auium regnum trahebant.

Livy, Chapter 7, Book I

The Latin Library, Latinlibrary.com

If your Latin is a little rusty (or non-existent), I will give you T. J. Luce’s translation of the passage on page 10, from the Oxford World’s Classics series,  Books 1-5:

To Remus augury came first, legend says: six vultures.  After this had been reported to the people, double the number appeared for Romulus.  Accordingly, the supporters of each man hailed their candidate as king, one side claiming sovereignty because of the priority of time, the other because of the number of birds.

C. T. Lewis, in his Elementary Latin Dictionary (the small one that fits in your book bag), provides the following definitions:

augurium, i, m. [augur], the observance of omens, interpretation of omens, divination, augury

augurius, adj. [augur], of an augur, of the profession of augur

auguro, avi, atus, are [augur],   to act as augur, take the auguries of, consult by augury

auguror, atus sum, ari, dep. [augur], to act as augur, augur, predict, foretell

These particular signs are generally observed in the activity (flight, singing, feeding; occasionally in sacrificed avian entrails) of birds, as in the case of Romulus and Remus to whom vultures appear while they are in a sacred location.  Different birds might suggest a different divine patron.

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), explains the Latin words by suggesting Latin roots: avis (bird) + gar from Latin words garrire (to talk) and garrulus (talkative).  It is always difficult to precisely dig up origins for buried words, so origins are often left in the realm of speculation.  The OED identifies several words from the same derivation with related meanings in the English language:

  • Augur, n., first appears in 1549
  • Augur, v., first appears in 1601
  • Augural, adj., first appears in 1598
  • Augurate, v., (meaning to predict from omens), first appears in 1741
  • *Augurate, v., (meaning to perform the duties of augury), first appears in 1678
  • *Auguration, n., (meaning the practice of prognostication by means of augury), first appears in 1569
  • Augured, ppl. a., (meaning foretold, foreseen, anticipated)
  • *Augurer, n., first appeared in 1400
  • Augurial, adj., first appeared in 1646
  • Auguring, ppl. a., first appeared in 1606
  • *Augurism, n., first appeared in 1590
  • *Augurist, n., first appeared in 1630
  • *Augurize, v., first appeared in 1596
  • Augurous, a. rare, first appeared in 1600
  • Augurship, n., (meaning the office or term of office of an augur), first appeared in 1618
  • Augury, n., first appeared in 1374, used by Chaucer in Troylus: “I have eke foundyn, by astronomye, by sort, and by augury eke truly . . That fere and flaum on al the toun shal sprede.”
Many of these early appearances in the English language are translations of Latin and Roman texts; one, augurous, appears in a translation of the Illiad (1600).  [* The word is now obsolete in English.]
Now, don’t confuse augur with auger (a drilling or boring instrument or a plumbing tool)!

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A little overhaul! Some cool new things to come!

I am back in the United States and it is so on! The blog will get a lot more attention then it has and some great things are in planning. Here are some things to look for:

WORD OF THE WEEK
This should be a fun and interesting weekly post that may get a little edgy at times just for spice, but mostly is supposed entertain and expand our collective vocabularies! I hope to dig up some cool origin history or myth-bust some tall tales, too. It is also supposed to be relatively light, so expect mostly secondary work.

BRUSH OFF THE DUST INTERNET DIGEST WEEKLY
This will post will surface at the end with cool online discoveries–reviews, articles, opinion pieces, photography, etc. Subject matter will span genre and fields, but will all be super nifty stuff to check out.

This will be in addition to the usual categories I already cover. Occasionally, a week will be devoted to one topic, otherwise it will be the travel, cultural and literary history-themed material that is the halmark of "Brush off the Dust! History now!"

New posts coming THIS WEEK!

Thanks!
~Erika

Erika Franz, M.A.

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