Tagged: word of the day

The Callipygian Explosion of 1835

Let’s not dwell on why I was looking up the word callipygian,

Callipygian: adj., having well-shaped buttocks

or, for that matter, why I checked the Google books ngram graph for it.

The Callipygian Explosion of 1835

Let us instead wonder, who, or maybe what, a century and change before Minaj, before Kardashian, even before Mix-a-Lot, inspired such intense, short-lived, and concentrated use of the word callipygian in 1818 and 1835. The ngram only goes up to 2008 so we may well have once again achieved peak booty, though I doubt it.

Were there just two books published in 1818 and 1835 that were truly, madly, deeply bum obsessed, or were those years periods of bloom and ferment in the study and discussion of well-formed bottoms across a range of media? Surely an historian in dire need of a dissertation topic can help us out here?

Statisticians with sober, reasonable, non-ass-related explanations for the shape of this graph are kindly asked to butt out.

For Some, Software Engineering is a Matter of Principle

I’ve long been irritated when people mix up “principal” and “principle” in job titles and elsewhere. If you’re unsure about this yourself, please read Grammar Girl’s estimable explainer on the subject. Recently, while doing some prospecting on LinkedIn – and learning the ins and outs of advanced and Boolean searches – I thought to check how widespread the error is…

Screenshot 2014-09-14 15.52.34 Screenshot 2014-09-14 15.52.55
I’m happy to report that nine out of ten software engineers got it right. Alas, searching the totality of titles for “principal” pulled 603,243 results vs 26,630 for “principle” giving an error rate of only 4%, so software engineers appear more prone to this error than others.  Assuming, of course, that all of the “principle” titles really should be “principal” titles.

To the four thousand plus principle software engineers who probably should be principal software engineers, I’d suggest either fixing it, or really committing to the principle and becoming principled software engineers, like these two:

Screenshot 2014-09-14 15.53.13
After all, who would want to hire any other kind?

A gob in search of a smacking

From Welcome to Germany comes today’s word of the day, Backpfeifengesicht. And what a welcome it would be:

The word Backpfeife means “punch/slap” (on the cheek/face) and Gesicht means “face”

So a Backpfeifengesicht is pretty much a face in search of a fist. I’m sure we all know such a face. I recommend restraint. Try repeating “Backpfeifengesicht” under your breath over and over again until the urge passes. Pronunciation guide and other trivia here:


This weekend the moon was full and in perigee and therefore appeared bigger and brighter than usual, a so-called supermoon.


Perigee is the point at which the earth is closest to some object that orbits it in an elliptical path. Apogee is the point of greatest distance between the Earth and a satellite. For stuff orbiting the sun (such as the earth) the analogous points are called perihelion and aphelion.

The Sad Paucity of Nope

Do you know what my favorite word is? No? That’s right! Huge amounts of time, money, and emotional energy are wasted because some people can’t or won’t just say NO when they really should.


NO is critical to good time management and avoiding spending your valuable time on Other Peoples Problems. It’s not a free pass to avoid what you ought to do, but it is the best way to decline doing what just isn’t in your wheelhouse.

I know, it sounds harsh and makes you feel like a meanie, but when you agree to something you really shouldn’t you’re just setting everybody up for disappointment at a later date.  Let’s get the disappointment over with now and move on to getting something valuable done.