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Adenylate Kinase (E.C A nucleotide phosphotransferase that catalyses the reaction MgATP + AMP --> MgADP + ADP.

Alaska. USPS abbreviation.

The Villanova [University] Center for Information Law and Policy provides some links to state government web sites for Alaska. There's a page for Alaska from USACityLink.com, and here's a (self-described) Alaska Internet Travel Guide.

Here's a 405×480 map gif mirrored from <http://wuarchive.wustl.edu/multimedia/images/gif/a/alaska.gif>.

In Fairbanks, it doesn't get dark on the Fourth of July, so they don't bother with fireworks. They do set off fireworks for New Year's. (Yes, the latitude of Fairbanks is 64° 49', so it's a couple of degrees south of the Arctic Circle. Hence, around midnight the light levels resemble those a few minutes after sunset at the equator. For more of this, see the twilight entry. Barrow is at 71° 18'.) For other US coordinates, see this page.

Alter Kakker. Yiddish in English transliteration (there are many alternative forms; Yiddish orthography itself was not standardized until 1938), `old shitter.' Even more uplifting knowledge can be found at the OF entry.

Above-Knee Amputation.

AKA, aka, a/k/a, a.k.a.
Also Known As. Typically used to introduce personal aliases. One of the abbreviations (abbrev.) that comments on itself.

American Kennel Club. ``Dedicated to Purebred Dogs and Responsible Dog Ownership Since 1884.''

AlasKa Daylight Time. GMT-8. It's the ``Daylight Saving Time'' (DST) or ``Summer Time'' for all of Alaska save some islands. (See AKST for details, at least until we get an entry for Hawaii-Aleutian Time.) AKDT in 2009 is in effect from March 8 to October 31, for a total of 238 days. So summery! They should call AKDT the ``standard time'' and redesignate AKST ``winter time.'' Hmmm... same thing for the contiguous 48.

An old (1960's) telecommunications switching system from Ericsson, long ago superseded by AXE (q.v.).

Anti-Knock Index. Alternate name for the pump octane number (PON). Apparently a more common name for fuels with AKI or PON greater than 100.

A Japanese breed of dog. The kind that belonged to Nicole Brown Simpson when she was murdered in 1994. Blood on her dog's uninjured paws led to discovery of the murder. A port of northern Honshu. There is also an Akita University homepage.

Visit here for twenty-year-old apparitions, stigmata, crying-statue stuff.

Visit here for more on the dog breed.

There wasn't much on Akitas at Dmitri Gusev's O.J. Simpson Trial Center (OJ mentioned Nicole's dog in his statement to the LAPD) and just a decade later I notice that that site is down. Oh -- it was the trial of the twentieth century. For all you unrecovered OJ junkies, this metapage is probably as good a place to continue as any. Of its 17 OJ Trial links, one is still up and has relevant information. Then again, maybe it's time to move on to other injustices. See CJ.

A rabbi martyred by Roman occupiers of Palestine after they put down the Bar Kokhba rebellion which he supported. Also written Aqiva.

AucKLanD, New Zealand.

Apogee Kick Motor. Usually a solid-propellant engine. Used in the final maneuver to transfer a satellite into a geostationary orbit (GEO, q.v.).

Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi. `Justice and Development Party' of Turkey. This translation is, as it seems, literal and word-for-word. The name the party prefers for itself is ``Ak Parti.'' (This and half-translated forms like `Ak Party' are also used internationally.) The party's preference is due to the fact that ak in Turkish means `clean' or `white.'

AKP is a moderate Islamist party led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It explicitly and firmly denies that it is Islamist, as it more-or-less must anyway since Turkish law that forbids the exploitation of religion for political ends. It describes itself as socially conservative. Be that as it may, some indeterminable part of its electoral strength is generally supposed to be due to the widespread belief that it is a moderate Islamist party.

There have been less moderate Islamist parties, and they have been popular, and they have been overthrown. The DP (Demokrat Parti) was the first not-so-secular party to contest a free election against the successors of Kemal Atatürk (see CHP). It won power in 1950 and lost it in a 1960 pro-CHP coup (which eventually saw the hanging of DP leader and PM Adnan Menderes and some of his ministers). The cycle was repeated a couple of times before the AKP was founded in 2001. The AKP won 44% of the vote in the 2002 elections, giving it an overwhelming majority in parliament.

NEBRASKA spelled backwards, with hyphens and capitalization for style. The name was created for an organization, ``The Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben'' that came together to provide family-friendly entertainment for visitors to the Nebraska State Fair in Omaha in 1895. The organization continued as an Omaha-area civic organization and is still in existence; it has a page that explains its history, so I don't have to. I asked Mary if she had heard of Ak-Sar-Ben and she said he's a terrorist.

AlasKa Standard Time. GMT-9. AKST and AKDT are used throughout the state of Alaska, except for the western-most Aleutian islands and St. Lawrence island, which are on Hawaii-Aleutian Time (GMT-10) and which do not observe Daylight-Saving Time (DST).

AlasKa State Veterinary Medical Association. See also AVMA.

Automat Kalashnikova 1947. Invented by Mikhael Timovievitch Kalashnikov around the new 7.62 bullet he received in 1943. There are about fifty million in circulation today; it's the most popular gun ever made. I suppose that might make it the most unpopular gun ever made as well. You can learn more from an article in the June 1997 issue of Esquire. According to an article by Carleton J. Phillips in the Spring 2004 VQR, a box of 7.62 mm ammo was going for more than US$2 in the Baghdad bazaars the previous December (but that may have been exaggerating the price on the high side).

An East Indian tree that grows in the Scrabble forest, where it bears two-letter fruit.

Action Learning.

The cover story of the June 2004 issue of T+D was about AL, with illustrations of a Superman character with ``AL'' in place of ``S.'' Since AL is my middle name (as in Alfred ``Al'' Cronym), naturally I was interested. Like any good business story, this article gets right to the point: it explains immediately why you the reader are interested in action learning, models exciting words about what it can do for your bottom line, produces anonymous testimonials of praise, and gives other essential information. Along about the third page, not really as an afterthought but more to dot all the tees and cross all the q's, there's a section entitled ``What is action learning?'' I quote the beginning:

Since Reg Revans first introduced action learning in the coal mines of Wales & England in the 1940s, there have been multiple variations of the concept, but all forms of action learning share the elements of real people resolving and taking real action on real problems in real time and learning while doing so.

Now let's get real here, people. Do we really need so many supporting columns? We could get a real high yield out of this seam if we knocked some of them down. Alright then, let's take some action! Right now, in real time! Good, I think we've really lear-- Oh-no-look-OUT! Gee, it's a real shame those were real miners.


Ägypten und Levante : Zeitschrift für Ägyptische Archäologie und deren Nachbargebiete. Herausgegeben vom Österreichischen Archäologischen Institut / Abteilung Kairo und der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften; Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien, 1990-.

German, `Egypt and the Levant : Journal for the Archaeology of Egypt and Neighboring Regions.' Edited by the Austrian Archaeological Institute, Cairo Section, and by the Austrian Academy of Sciences; a publication of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna.

Articles in German or English (roughly in equal numbers).

(Domain name code for) Albania. Ariadne, ``The European and Mediterranean link resource for Research, Science and Culture,'' has a page of national links. They don't seem to have any links up from the country itself right now. If Albania hadn't been in the news lately, this alone would be a useful clue.

Rec.Travel offers some links. I offer the following advice: visit someplace else for now.

Postal code abbreviation for ALabama (not ALaska, which is AK). The traditional abbreviation is Ala.; the colloquial short form is 'Bama.

The Grateful Dead song ``Alabama Getaway'' begins

Thirty-two teeth in a jawbone; Alabama trying for none.
Before I have to hit him, I hope he's got the sense to run.

The Villanova University Law School provides some links to state government web sites for Alabama. USACityLink.com has a page for Alabama.

A Canadian carpetbagger named Neil Young dissed the state in his songs ``Southern Man'' and ``Alabama.'' Lynyrd Skynyrd gallantly rose to her defense in a palinode called ``Sweet Home Alabama'' (their first big hit). Alabama is not host to a Harvard of the South, but that entry is relevant nevertheless.

In the song titled ``Alabama,'' Young sang ``You've got the rest of the union -- to help you along!'' According to Robert Hunter and the late Jerry Garcia, ``Forty-nine sister states all had Alabama in their eyes.''

(Montreal) ALouette. A member of the CFL team. ``Als'' is used for the team name.

DB Alphonso Roundtree, receiver Alphonso Browning, and Alan Wetmore are all former-Al Als (and former Als Als). Any time after Wetmore receives the Gatorade treatment, journalists can deploy the ``former-Al Al Wetmore All Wet No More'' headline. Use two-inch type.

Chemical symbol for aluminum. Atomic number 13. A lightweight metal and a p-dopant in silicon semiconductor. Kind of an oddball non-transition metal, sitting at a literal corner of the periodic table. In Britain, aluminum is called aluminium (see entry for some of the sordid details). Learn less (less is more) at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.

Aluminum is the only chemical whose symbol is also the correct spelling of a common English name. In fact, the only one whose symbol is the correct spelling of my name.

The Aluminum Association is online.

According to the IMDb bio of the late Tony Randall, the actor ``[s]tudied voice for 32 years but did not act on it, quipping `I have a nice healthy tone, but it's not terribly musical. If beautiful voices are golden, mine is aluminum.' ''

In 1991, Fleur Adcock published a volume with the title TIME-ZONES, subtitled Causes. It had a poem called ``Aluminum,'' and since it's only 24 lines long I can hardly excerpt a small, ``fair-use'' portion of it. Oh well, here goes: it ends ``warning you of dementia to come.'' It's about aluminum-containing water-sterilization tablets and the unenlightened Water Board and how aluminum is going to get you one way or another. Unlike some better poems, it doesn't contain a detailed quantitative analysis, though it is informed by real research. Research had suggested that aluminum was a or the main cause of Alzheimer's disease. The most readily understood reason is that both terms begin with the letter A followed by the letter L, though this angle was not pursued by medical researchers. The most direct evidence for a connection was the reported discovery of aluminosilicates in neuritic plaque cores. (Core-containing neuritic plaques are extracellular bits of crud found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease (AD). The plaques range up to 200 microns in diameter and typically consist of an amyloid core, whatever that is, surrounded by abnormal neurites, whatever they are. So now you know.) Anyway, since at least 1976, various researchers had reported aluminum and silicon in the cores. But poetry is a fast-moving field, and you have to keep up with the literature. The original research was based on techniques that we wouldn't call very sensitive today -- able to detect aluminum at 100 to 1000 ppm. At least as early as 1986, however, much more sensitive techniques (1 ppm) failed to detect any aluminum.

It is not known why, in composing his poem, Adcock ignored the contrary findings that had already been published, particularly the laser microprobe mass analysis of A.J. Stern, D.P. Perl, D. Munoz-Garcia, P.F. Good, C. Abraham, and D.J. Selkoe, Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology, vol. 45, #3, p. 361 (May 1986). If he could have had the luxury of doing so, I'm sure the poet would have waited for more definitive findings, but you know how it is in poetry: ``publish and perish.'' In fact, just one year after Fleur Adcock's poem was published, the problem was convincingly resolved by J.P. Landsberg, B. McDonald, and F. Watt, of Oxford University [``Absence of aluminum in neuritic plaque cores in Alzheimer's disease,'' in Nature vol. 360, #6399, pp. 65-68 (Nov. 5, 1992)]. Using multiple simultaneous nuclear-microscopic analytic probes (PIXE, RBS, and STIM), they studied stained and unstained samples (about 100 of each) of temporal-cortex and hippocampus tissue taken from seven AD cases and two controls.

The stained samples contained a little bit of aluminum (in 30% of all background scans, and in 8% of the plaque cores -- the latter in the AD samples only, of course). The unstained samples had no aluminum in any plaque cores. Hmmm. They studied the staining reagents, which are needed in the kinds of studies that had originally found aluminum in the plaque cores, and discovered that the reagents contained aluminum and silicon, apparently from airborne-dust contamination. (There was also some aluminum in the pioloform film supporting the tissue samples, and this apparently led to the detection of aluminum in 5-10% of the background scans.)

To be fair, the balance of research indicates that aluminum probably does play some role in AD, but so, to a similar extent, do iron, zinc, and copper. All create an oxidative environment and all are dysregulated or found in elevated quantities in some AD brain tissue. So don't bother to throw away your aluminum pots and pans, unless you're planning the same for the rest of your pots and pans. In conclusion, if this little object lesson convinces even one poet not to write an under-researched didactic poem, the entry will have been worthwhile. Of course, if you are not a poet, then the entry has been a complete waste of your time.

American League. One of the two component leagues of North American Major League Baseball (MLB). The one that uses the designated hitter.


Anno Lucis. Latin, `[in the] year of light.' That is, in the year ... since the Lord commanded there to be light. Reputed to be a preferred Masonic usage for the more common A.M. (q.v.).

Anthropological Linguistics. A journal.

A & L
Arts and Letters. Humanities. Visit Arts and Letters Daily.

According to the Princeton Campus Plan distributed in January 2008, over the subsequent decade the Princeton University campus will come to be organized into ``neighborhoods.'' Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners LLP and the university asministration have tried to make these neighborhoods somehow coherent or logical. Thus, there are a ``Core Campus,'' a ``Natural Sciences Neighborhood,'' an ``Ivy Lane and Western Way Neighborhood'' with various athletic fields, etc. (Looking over the map, I'm surprised to realize that along with the emotional scars and the bald pate, the place also left me with some fondish memories.)

There is also to be something called the ``Arts and Transit Neighborhood'' in the area currently dominated by McCarter Theatre and the NJ Transit Dinky terminus. (The Dinky is a small train that runs on a spur connecting the university with Princeton Junction -- on the line connecting New York and Trenton.) This paragraph is just a preview. I'll put in an entry for ``A & T'' as soon as I see that in use. Maybe sooner.

Nickname for Alan and related names, Alex and Alexander, Albert and Alfred.

Alabama website? Brought to us by Einet, er, TradeWave. See AL entry above.

ALA, Ala, ala
ALAnine. An amino acid. The dominant ingredient in spider silk. For an image (of the amino acid) and more go here.

Alpha Linolenic Acid.

American Laminators Association.

American Laryngological Association. Founded in 1878. (Not long after the invention of the larynx, if I'm not mistaken.)

American Library Association. Preeminent organization for librarians and libraries in the US. Their toll-free number is 800-545-2433.

A saying among reference librarians is that ``patrons know what they want, but they don't know what they need.'' If adopted too rigidly, this could lead to interesting situations.

Met Jan. 9-15, 1998 in New Orleans, La., and June 25 - July 2 in Washington, DC.

The ALA publishes an ALA Bulletin and an ALA Washington News. Cf. CLA.

American Lung Association.

Association for Laboratory Automation.

Australian Literary Agents' Association. Founded in 2002, and they really ought to get a web-presence. (I can't find one at the beginning of 2005.) See the AAR entry for more. Modeled on the AAR and AAA. Like the latter, it only accepts as members agents that have been in the business at least three years.

Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium.

Academic Librarians Assisting the Disabled. A subgroup of the ALA's OLOS.

Asociación Latinoamericana de Diabetes. Founded in 1970 in Buenos Aires.

Aladdin Systems makes Stuffit and other Macintosh compression software.

Asociación Latinoamericana de Integración.

Spanish, `cottonwood [tree].'

African-American, Latino, Asian and Native American.

Alana Miles
Misspelling of Alannah Myles.

But you know, if you cock your head right, Alana looks like Latin (I mean very, very early Italian, not, like, South American). Then the genitive singular form would be Alanis. There's another well-known female Canadian rock singer with the initials A.M. and the first name Alanis: Alanis Morissette. When she was getting started, Morissette used the single name Alanis to avoid people confusing her with Myles. Oh yeah, that makes sense. Other female rocker singers with initials A.M. are listed at this site. Gee, I hope they keep this important information resource up-to-date and complete.

I wouldn't have bothered to spin out this tenuous connection except that The Brunching Shuttlecocks, a very valuable information resource, serves a Alanis Morissette morose lyric generator.

Alan Keyes
A former ambassador and an unsuccessful candidate for the 1996 and 2000 Republican Presidential nominations. Not to be confused with homonym Allen keys. Joined the US State department in 1978, a protege of UN ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick in the Reagan administration. Resigned from State in 1987 after disagreement on UN funding. (In the GOP, to resign in protest is not considered noble; it's considered a sign of not being a team player. To resign a short but decent interval after a disagreement is the party's equivalent.)

In 1988 and 1992 he suffered lopsided losses against popular Democrat incumbents in runs for US Senate (to represent Maryland). I'm not going to claim that Keyes is more in sync with Maryland's electorate than Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), but a certain senator can apparently lower the average IQ of any room she wanders into. One would think that the absence of any necessary correlation between intelligence and political success is obvious to all, but apparently it is not so obvious to the successful politicians. During his one term as president, George Bush was in the habit of asking rhetorically ``if you're so smart, how come I'm president?'' as if some contradiction were implicit.

In a February 2000 Nightline, Ted Koppel interviewed campaign directors of some retired politicians. They included Michael Deaver, who directed Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign. Reagan was being dogged by the press for his claim that trees were a major source of air pollution, and his campaign was trying to get some other issue (any other issue) into public consciousness. They repeatedly coached and importuned their candidate to give his foreign policy speech and then walk past the rope line holding back the press without answering any questions. Sure enough, after the speech Reagan walked up to the press horde and answered the inevitable polluting-tree question, obliterating the TV-newsworthiness of his speech. Afterwards, Deaver was despondent and reminded Reagan of all they had gone over about avoiding the press trap, and Reagan asked ``if you're so smart, how come you're not running for president?'' Deaver found this disarming. (In his hagiography of Reagan, Deaver returns to the sulfur-dioxide-emitting-tree episode and tries to spin it as positively as he can, claiming Reagan always knew better but just got maneuvered into misstatement in a debate.)

There was from time to time a movement within his campaigns to ``let Reagan be Reagan.'' After Reagan looked frighteningly senile in his first debate with Mondale (campaign of 1984), Nancy became assertive in this insistence and was given enormous credit for turning the campaign around. (The key incident was showing the patience to allow Reagan to remember an old movie gag about youth and experience that he used in the second debate with Mondale.)

I still have stuff to say about the putative subject of this entry. After the 1992 loss to Mikulski, Keyes started up a conservative talk show, ``America's Wake-Up Call: The Alan Keyes Show,'' syndicated nationally. In news shorthand he is usually described as a former US ambassador, but that is incorrect. Ambassadorships are plums the president grants to campaign supporters. Keyes was in the civil service and held lower-visibility responsible positions -- consular official in Bombay (1979-1980), desk officer Zimbabwe (1980-1), US representative to the miserable UNESCO and various stateside positions.

Alannah Myles
The female Rod Stewart. Had a hit with ``Black Velvet.''

A support group for the families of alcoholics.

Alan Smithee
A standard pseudonym used by movie directors unwilling to admit responsibility.

Okay, technically, the Directors Guild of America (DGA) allows a director to use a pseudonym only if the producers made changes contrary to the director's artistic intent. In practice, though, this might not be that difficult to arrange. The real problem is that directing a movie is not exactly a reclusive activity, so the pseudonym offers little protection at best, and raises suspicion of motives at worst.

In 1997, a rather poor movie called An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn took as premise that a director whose name is already Alan Smithee has no escape. Quite ironically, Arthur Hiller, who directed AASF:BHB, disagreed with writer/producer Joe Eszterhas and received DGA approval to remove his name from the credits, so in principle this was an Alan Smithee Film: "An Alan Smithee Film: `Burn Hollywood Burn'." (To get an idea of how this film was assembled, see how the soundtrack was put together.)

To summarize the situation:
The film-within-a-film was "Burn Hollywood Burn," directed by the fictional character "Alan Smithee" (played by actor Eric Idle). The film about the film-within-a-film was "An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn" and was in fact directed by Arthur Hiller, whose producer-sabotaged work was allowed to be credited to "Alan Smithee," a pseudonym.

Leonard Maltin rated this movie a BOMB. ``BOMB'' is not some cutesy acronym here. It's the word bomb, written in capital letters for emphasis. It's Maltin's lowest rating. His seven ratings range from four stars down to one-and-a-half stars, in steps of half a star, followed by BOMB.

For writers (movie writers, ça va sans dire) the rules work differently (see WGA).

Another sort of anonymity in movies occurs in a story I vaguely remember about the writer Graham Greene. Some actress friends apparently wangled him a bit part on a movie they were acting in, without revealing his true identity to the director, who they knew had never met Greene in person. From IMDb I guess this must be Truffaut's Day for Night (La Nuit américaine, 1973), where he plays an English insurance broker. Greene's full name was Henry Graham Greene, and he is credited here as Henry Graham.

Nick Lowe mentioned on the Classics list a somewhat similar incident involving Richard Stanley, the writer and original director of the dismal John Frankenheimer remake of The Island of Dr. Moreau. After predictable tussles with star Val Kilmer [who has a track record of making enemies], Stanley was sacked on the third day of shooting, whereupon he promptly sneaked back on to the set in a spare ape-monster suit and remained there, with the full knowledge of many of the cast (but not Frankenheimer), for the rest of the shoot.

American Lung Association of PennsylvaniA.

Australian Ladies' Amateur Radio Association (Inc.).

As Low As Reasonably Achievable. Sounds like a formula many could agree with, so long as everyone could define ``reasonably'' as he wished.


Alara Kalama
The first great teacher of the Buddha.

As Low As Reasonably { Practical | Practicable }. British variant of ALARA. ALARP is more common than ALARA in Britain, and would therefore be the presumptive preference in Europe and the Commonwealth, but India ought to be an exception, because practical there is generally taken in an economic sense only.

Aluminum Arsenide. An indirect-gap III-V semiconductor (2.16 eV), whose lattice constant of 5.661 Å is very close to that of the direct-gap GaAs.

Alaska Lines And Stories Kept Alive. A small press. They published at least one book in 1997, and they were listed in the 2000-2001 R.R. Bowker Publishers, Distributors, & Wholesalers of the United States. Maybe they should have focused on keeping the publishing house alive.

ALanine AminoTransferase.

Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician.

Alabama Athletic Trainers' Association. Evidently a trade organization for jock-strap manufacturers. Oh wait-- that's ``athletic supporters!'' Eh, whatevah.

Abraham Lincoln {Brigade|Battalion}. ``Abraham Lincoln Brigade'' refers to organized US volunteers in the Spanish Civil War. It's useful that ``brigade'' here represents an error, because it allows one to use that term in a loose, inclusive sense, and to reserve ``Abraham Lincoln Battalion'' for the military unit organized as part of the International Brigades at the end of 1936. They were decimated within a month of being put into action in February, and later supplemented by the newly trained George Washington Battalion (both were part of the XV International Brigade). Later in 1937 the two were merged into the Lincoln-Washington Battalion, which also was eventually decimated. Only 120 of the original 500 Americans survived the first sixteen months.

There are or were, broadly, two views of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade volunteers: one is that they were anti-fascist fighters for democracy, the other that they were supporters of the Communist side. During the Spanish Civil War they could be both, but after the Hitler-Stalin pact the veterans could be at most one. The American government's view was always that one couldn't be sure.

A physics professor I know at the University of Buffalo remembers once being surprised by a question about the Abraham Lincoln Brigade on a security-clearance form -- in the are-you-now-or-have-you-ever-been-a-member-of section. He hadn't known that the Lincoln Brigade was a Popular-Front-ish organization. The Encyclopedia USA entry explains: ``Although it was established and recruited by Communists, used for propaganda purposes, and largely supplied with Russian arms, by no means were all its members Communists.'' (It might have been more straightforward to note that in addition to committed Communists, the ALB attracted various other Republic supporters, including Wobblies, anarchists, and socialists. No doubt there were a few mere adventurers as well.)

The bit about ``Russian arms'' is unfair: because of official (Anglo-French, League of Nations) and unofficial (US) embargoes, the main source of arms available to the Republican side was Russia, and the arms were not donated. Germany and Italy contributed substantially, and substantially more than the Republicans were able to buy, to the Nationalist side. Italy and Russia, incidentally, adhered officially to the arms embargo.

I haven't seen much speculation regarding why the Abraham Lincoln Battalion came to be better known as a ``brigade,'' so I'll hazard a guess. In Spanish, most adjectives follow the nouns they modify, as do names functioning attributively. Hence, the wording on the battalion flag at right: [Image of flag: 3 lines of white text on a dark blue field.]

1er. Batallón Americano

While the Americans who fought there doubtless understood the order of battle sufficiently, they were few and many of them died. (Ultimately, it is estimated that 2,800 Americans served in the International Brigades and 900 were killed.) Back home, many Americans' knowledge of the forces involved may have been informed by this flag and similar untranslated materials, and many must have inferred therefrom that ``Abraham Lincoln Brigada'' was the unit name. The capitalization also tends to guide the eye.

Asian Longhorned Beetle. It's about three centimeters long, black with white dots on the body, and has curved antennae that are longer than its body. It's spreading in North America, which it is assumed to have reached by way of a cargo ship from China. The insects are getting in on globalization too. It feeds on at least 11 North American tree species, but if you like maple syrup, this bug is a personal enemy of yours.


Whiteness: the fraction of incident electromagnetic (``light'') radiation reflected by a surface or body. From the Latin albus, `white.' Exactly complementary to absorptivity, which is the measure of the blackness of a body: a ``black body'' absorbs all incident light (albedo = 0; absorptivity = 1). A ``white body'' has an albedo of unity or 100% (absorptivity = 0). A white body that reflects specularly is a mirror. A ``grey body'' body has albedo intermediate between 0 and 1. The term ``colored body'' is used to emphasize that there is a frequency dependence in the albedo, but the term ``grey body'' is sometimes nevertheless used for colored bodies simply to indicate that the important fact is that the albedo is intermediate.

The term albedo is most often encountered in connection with celestial objects and artificial satellites. The terms absorptivity or reflectivity (same as albedo) are more often used to describe surfaces.

Objects in a vacuum do not experience convective or conductive heating, more-or-less by definition, so their energy balance is determined completely by radiation and material transfer (ejection, vaporization, accretion, etc.). In the case of planets, material transfer is negligible, and we can determine the average surface temperature of a planet from radiation balances. By a simple thermodynamic argument, Kirchoff demonstrated that light reflectivity equals absorptivity. This seems to imply that a change in albedo, and hence the rate of light absorption, is accompanied by a proportionate change in thermal emission. As a result, albedo does not seem to affect the equilibrium temperature. However, it has to be understood that absorptivity/emissivity is a function of light frequency. The effective light absorptivity is an average of the frequency-dependent light absorptivity, weighted by the frequency distribution of the incident light. The effective emissivity is a different average of the same frequency-dependent absorptivity (the same as the frequency-dependent emissivity). The weighting that determines the effective emissivity is the black-body spectrum corresponding to the temperature of the emitting surface.

For any planet in our solar system, the dominant source of incident light is the sun, whose frequency spectrum is, to a good approximation, a black-body spectrum of temperature 5730 K. The sun heats the planets, so all planets are colder than 5730 K.

[You can accept that heat flow is from hot to cold, or you can prove it by combining the second law of thermodynamics with the definition of temperature -- 1/T is the partial derivative of entropy with respect to energy.]

[When I have some time, I'll explain the greenhouse effect here.]

Strictly speaking, the 5730 K bound mentioned earlier applies to a certain average of the surface temperature. Nothing prevents a planet from having hot spots that are hotter. Many chemical reactions can easily reach these temperatures --- it's a matter of properly confining the heat generated in an exothermic reaction. The larger hot spots that can be observed by interplanetary probes, on the other hand, are plasmas arising from atmospheric or planetary electrical and magnetic phenomena. A spectacular one was found by the Voyager missions in 1979: a sulfur-rich plasma near Jupiter's moon Io with a temperature around 100,000 K. It was not present when Pioneer 10 flew by in 1973. Smaller local plasmas associated with lightning can be even more impressively hot on shorter time and length scales. Data from the late Galileo satellite orbiting Jupiter, including images of eruption in progress, indicated that Io is the most volcanically active place in the solar system. (The surface layer (photosphere) of the sun is in more violent convulsions than the surface of any of its satellites. However, though the definitions of terms like volcanism and volcanic have been extended to cover the convulsive phenomena on Io, they are not widely used for solar activity.)

If they are small and isolated enough, hot spots don't have to be temporary either. The two most interesting planets in this respect are Earth and Jupiter. Jupiter, the largest gas giant, consists primarily of hydrogen and helium (in a ratio of about 8:1), with traces of other elements and deuterium. The pressure at its core is high enough to drive significant fusion; the core temperature is perhaps 30,000 K, and Jupiter emits about twice as much energy as it receives from the sun. Here's a good link for further information.

Earth was formed by the gravitational instability of cold dust and larger particles -- collisions tended to convert mutual gravitational energy into vibrational (i.e., thermal) energy, until one large warm condensed object resulted. Further heating was caused by compression (isentropic compression is not isothermal) and radioactive decay. In the hot molten object that resulted, the denser compounds and elements, including uranium, sank and concentrated toward the center. Even as the earth cooled by thermal radiation, the highly radioactive core has continued to generate heat, so the earth radiates slightly more heat than it absorbs from the sun and the average temperature increases with increasing depth. The temperature of the inner core is around 7000 K. This page has further interesting information. (Since Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, its age about equals one half-life of 238U.

The core heating of the earth gives rise to volcanism and plate tectonic activity. Venus, the planet most closely resembling Earth in mass (Venus's mass is 0.81 Earth's mass) and composition (surface rocks resemble basalt), also appears to have significant radioactive heat generation, as demonstrated by the presence of shield volcanoes. The relative absence of craters on their surfaces indicates that Venus is still geologically active, but there is no evidence of plate tectonic motion.

The other planets, which have no significant internal heat sources, have core temperatures about equal to their average surface temperatures. They'd be exactly equal, but the instantaneous average of the surface temperature varies over time, due to effects such as orbit eccentricity, solar variability, radiation from and eclipse by other objects, and rotation of the planet's nonuniform surface. The core temperature tracks the surface variation slowly, so at any given moment it is not precisely equal to the surface temperature. A long-term average of the temperatures of the planetary core and surface should be very close.

Heat can also be generated by friction dissipating tidal forces. This seems to be the case with Io, the moon closest to Jupiter. However, like Earth's moon, Jupiter's nearest moon Io is tidally locked: its rotation period equals its revolution period, so the same hemisphere faces its planet at all times. As a result, the direct tidal interaction with Jupiter no longer heats Io. However, other moons exert tidal forces as Io goes past them, and this is believed to be the source of heat that explains the spectacular volcanoes observed there recently.

This is a semantically marked word for England or Great Britain, a name one might regard as archaic, romantic, or poetic. The origin of the name is uncertain, although the alb- root (indicating `white' in Latin) has been interpreted to mean that the word refers to the white cliffs of Dover. Of course, this sort of reasoning can easily be off the mark. Pizza Alba, for example, is a white pizza (it's made without tomato). It is widely supposed that the name is thus descriptive, but in fact, the name is something of a coincidence. What happened was that a princess of northern Italy had heard about the southern Italian peasant pie called pizza, and was interested in trying it. In her day, tomato was not eaten in Northern Italy, and probably not easily available there either. (Further information at the ID entry.) The cook did not risk offending her palate, and concocted the now famous pizza for la Principessa Alba. In this case, of course, Alba does in fact mean `white,' at least in origin. More deceptive, if you're thinking Romance etymology rather than Germanic, is a name like Alberto, from Germanic roots meaning `all' and `bright.'

There's an Albion College in Albion, Michigan. According to the President's message,

``Life is a series of connections. Most of them are random and disjointed. At Albion, the connections are intentional and coherent: for that is the essence of Albion College.

Wow. I think we'll aspire to that and achieve it in this glossary.


Automatic (telecommunications) Line Build-Out.

Automatic Level Control. A feedback loop that maintains output power in a specified range, or near a specified value, under variable conditions (such as weakening battery voltage, say). Used in portable phones and modems, for instance.

Association de Lutte Contre l'Ambrosia. A Quebec `Association for the Fight Against Ragweed.'

Alliance for Lung Cancer Advocacy, Support, and Education. Advocating, supporting, and educating lung cancer, or something like that.

Air-Launched Cruise Missile. Cf. SLCM.

This is the official name of a company that once was called Aluminum (Al) Corporation of America. That company was the first customer of the AC power supplied by Westinghouse from Niagara Falls in the early 1900's. Buffalo quickly came to have the largest chemical production of any city in the world.

Remember, you can't spell alcohol without coho. I think that with a little work and some seawater lemmas, that could be used to prove the the salmon part of the white wine conjecture.

Adjacent-Channel Leakage (power) Ratio.

American League (AL) Championship Series. Used to be best-of-five, now seven. Just like the NLCS, but with a designated hitter (no more at the LCS entry).

American Library Color Slide Co., Inc. ``[T]he world's largest commercial source of art-related color slides.'' ``[A] source of color slides for the study of Art, Architecture, Photography, World Cultures, Minority Studies [Democrats in Congress?], Religion, Languages [speaking in tongues known and unknown], the Social Sciences and Humanities.''

Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society. According to their META DESCRIPTION: ``the British collecting society for all writers. The principal purpose of ALCS is to ensure that hard-to-collect revenues due to authors are efficiently collected and distributed.''

It must be said that historically (and maybe one of ALCS's pages says it), one of the principal difficulties that published authors have encountered in collecting royalties has been the traditionally obscure sales and royalties statement from the publisher. It's one of the reasons for having an agent (see AAA).

ALCS has a ``Where Are They Now?'' list of a few dozen unregistered authors for whom (or for whose estates) they are holding royalties that they can't deliver, either because they can't locate or haven't had a response from them.

Association for Library Collections and Technical Services. A division of the ALA. That's collections of books, as explained in the ICLC entry, not collections of fines or contributions or other moneys, as in the preceding entry.

Academy of Laser Dentistry.

AdrenoLeukoDystrophy. The diagnosis of Lorenzo Odone, whose story was dramatized in the 1992 movie Lorenzo's Oil.

Atomic Layer Deposition. Also the International Conference on Atomic Layer Deposition. ALD 2013 took place on July 28-31 in San Diego, California.

ALabama Dental Association. Famously, Alan Alda played a ``Hawkeye'' on TV's M*A*S*H. A surprising number of reader of this glossary have written to ask ``so what?'' Well, Alabama is not the Hawkeye State. It's the Yellowhammer State. (The Yellowhammer is the Alabama state bird.) I might mention that birds don't have teeth, even though they're descended from animals that do, but I better not or you'll think that that's why I mentioned the M*A*S*H connection, such as it is.

Association of Late-Deafened Adults. The hyphen is pretty important: there is little we can do to help the late, lamented deafened adults. The distinction between those born deaf and those who lose their hearing after birth is also important. Even those who lose their hearing in the first year have a tremendous advantage over the born-deaf in learning ordinary language. ALDA is not concerned with this distinction, but serves adults who grew up hearing (LDA's), and who may never even have met another deaf person.

Adaptive Lossless Data Compression.

ALcohol DEHYDrogenatE[d]. From the synthesis -- a primary alcohol (an alcohol with the OH on a primary, i.e. an end, carbon) that loses hydrogens becomes an aldehyde:
          H                 H
          |                  \
	R-C-H        -->      C=O    +    H
          |                  /             2
          O-H               R
        alcohol            aldehyde      molecular
When the group R is hydrogen (H), RCHO (i.e. CH2O or HCHO) is formaldehyde (traditional name) or methanal. For R a methyl group, RCHO (i.e. CH3CH2O) is ethanal, etc.

If the dehydrogenation takes place on a secondary carbon, the product is called a ketone.

Animal Legal Defense Fund.

American League (AL) Division Series. Just like the NLDS (q.v.), but with a designated hitter.

In current usage: beer, but with only three letters. In principle, and historically, the term designates a malt beverage with more of everything except water. More hops, so more bitter, more grain, so darker and heavier, and with more time: more alcohol. It is a federal crime to remove the punctuation from the preceding sentence. If you do you'll be put away in the same dungeon with the cretins who tear materials labels off of pillows. Cf. beer, alewife.

Application Logic Element.

Atlanta Linux Enthusiasts.

Atomic Layer Epitaxy. MBE or MOCVD performed by alternating successive exposures to anionic and cationic vapors, so that growth is slow and layer thickness is very tightly controlled.

American Legislative Exchange Council. Politically conservative.

A maker of fine string instruments, particularly basses and guitars made with slightly exotic types of wood.

Home of the original Hippie Sandwich ™

Also the name of a series of books on the history of chemistry, for some reason. And something else too.

Alembic, The
The Alembic is one of those small literary magazines that publishes works so good that they can't be sold and won't be published anywhere else. As the submission instructions say, ``[m]anuscripts known to be under consideration elsewhere will be returned to the authors unread.'' This seems to me to entail epistemological or operationalization difficulties. Another problem is the information that ``no manuscripts or artwork can be returned, nor any query answered, unless accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope.'' I'm tempted to mail a manuscript (without SASE) with a note saying it's under consideration elsewhere, just to see what happens. In my dreams, they thrash in an endless loop of bad logic until smoke rises from the English Department of Providence College. (Providence College is in Providence, Rhode Island. In Rhode Island, practically everything is.)

The cover bears the title

The Alembic       
<Season> <yyyy>       

You could be forgiven for assuming that it's a quarterly publication, but the value of <Season> is always "Spring" -- it's an annual publication.

The contents are, in order, Poetry, Fiction, Art, and Translations. The poetry is sincere, and I'm sure its authors were moved by their inspirations.

Angle Lap Edge Profilometry. A way to determine the depth and thickness of a buried amorphous layer (of Si): an edge within the area that contains the buried layer is beveled, and the beveled edge is etched with a chemical etchant that etches amorphous material faster. The amorphous region then appears as a depression. With a shallow bevel, the depressed region is easier to locate and measure than a depressed region etched into a butt edge.

Advanced-level exams. College entrance exams used in England and Wales, taken at the end of the (two-year) sixth form. If British A-levels are like American SAT's, then American PSAT's correspond roughly to British AS-levels. (But they have their own ``SAT's.'') Further information at the GCSE and QCA entries. A-level ``exams'' include summer grading of some coursework completed during the school year.

In 2002, in another of a sequence of frequent changes, the A-levels were computed for the first time using a combination of the AS-levels and a set of exams called the A2's. Using the longer baseline ought to have made results more predictable, but it apparently didn't. In an effort to maintain year-on-year consistency in pass rates, the grading was apparently very ham-handedly rigged. More on that at the QCA entry.

A North American fish, Alosa pseudoherengus, that resembles a small shad. In fact, because any fish of the Alosa genus is a shad, it resembles what it is. So there: proof that sometimes, at least, a thing is like itself. And you can be beside yourself with rage. Well, like gathers unto like. Tell me who you walk with, and I'll tell you who you are.

As you can guess from the Latin species name, the alewife also resembles herring. It's a small silvery fish, and it used to be an ocean fish, but in 1873 it was detected in the Great Lakes. It's adapted to fresh water, but it's not completely adapted to warm temperatures. When it gets warm too fast in Spring, the previous autumn's generation of alewives succumbs in large numbers. Thus, in some years, around May, the shore will be covered with a band of three- to five-inch fish from the die-off.

Alexander Mac
An obscure but rigorous law of sociology requires that until 1891, the Canadian Prime Minister have a name that contains Alexander Mac as a substring. If this exact principle of electoral dynamics had been discovered by 1867, it would have been far more impressive, as predictive laws tend to be. (A number of simpler approximate principles are known for the US, such as that the taller and shorter-named of the major-party candidates will be elected president.)

Array of Low Energy X-ray (space) Imaging Sensors.

Absorption-Line Filter.

American Liver Foundation. ``[T]he only national, voluntary non-profit health agency dedicated to preventing, treating and curing hepatitis and all liver diseases through research, education and support groups.''

Related entries: AASLD, ADHF.

Australian Lung Foundation.

al frasco
Spanish: `[in]to the jar.'

al fresco
Italian: `in the open air.'

Australian Local Government Association.

Alloy semiconductor AlGaAs (i.e., Al1-xGaxAs).

A gas named in honor of Al, the homeboy of the Stammtisch Beau Fleuve. Hmmm. I hope that's in honor. Also refers to ``AlGaAs.'' Cf. Al Gore.

Catalunian name for Algeria. Also widely though incorrectly used in Spanish (i.e., Castilian) where the country name is Argelia.

Spanish name for a kind of heavy multicolored fabric used for curtains. It was originally manufactured in France, whence the name, meaning `Algerian.' Cf. Argelia.

Spanish, `something, anything.' Vide hidalgo.

ALGOL, Algol
Contraction of ``ALGOrithmic Language.'' First created in 1958 (``IAL''), by Peter Naur and others. ALGOL created fervent passions, but mostly in Europe, apparently. In a book review in 1963 (see The Computer Journal, vol. 6, #2, pp. 143, 168), J.K. Iliffe described ALGOL as a ``spectre ... which has haunted Europe since 1958.'' Michael Neumann's extensive list of sample short programs in different programming languages includes source code for three Algol programs and identifies Ada and Simula as similar languages.

The definitive description of the language was published as ``Revised report on the algorithmic language ALGOL 60,'' in Computer Journal, vol. 5, pp. 349-367 (1963). The report was edited by Peter Naur, dedicated to the memory of William Turanski, and written by thirteen coauthors. It's available online. Barron et al., in the article cited at the CPL entry, wrote that ``[t]he publication of this report [only months earlier] marked a turning point in the development in programming languages, since it concentrated attention on, and to a large extent solved, the problems of unambiguously defining a computational process or algorithm.''

ALGOL itself never seems to have been very popular in the US, but descendants of the language, particularly C and its object-oriented extensions, are dominant today. Here, in brief, is the line of descent from ALGOL 60 to C:

ALGOL --> CPL --> BCPL --> B --> C

ALGOL development did not cease with the creation of CPL, of course. ``ALGOL 66,'' said C.A.R. Hoare, ``was a great advance over its successors.'' (If you can give me details on or a source for this quote, please email me.) ALGOL 68 was considered disastrously complex, and it was the last major programming language to bear the ALGOL name. In reaction or revulsion, Niklaus Wirth created Pascal, which enjoyed a certain vogue but did not leave any major direct descendant.

(Regarding the sought quote: no, it's not in Hoare's article ``An Axiomatic Basis for Computer Programming'' that appeared in vol. 12, iss. 10 of CACM (October 1969; pp. 576-580, 583), but thanks for the thought. That paper is famous, though, and was republished in CACM's 25th anniversary edition (vol. 26, iss. 1; January 1983; pp. 53-6); in it, Hoare introduced a famous notation:

To state the required connection between a precondition (P), a program (Q) and a description of the result of its execution (R), we introduce a new notation:
This may be interpreted ``If the assertion P is true before initiation of a program Q, then the assertion R will be true on its completion.'' If there are no preconditions imposed, we write true {Q}R.

Not the ALGOL version that came with the LGP-30, but a simplified version, created by John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtzof, for use by undergraduates at Dartmouth College. It wasn't their only effort along these lines. For others, see this DART entry.

Al Gore
Inventor of the ALGORithm, I believE.

Ancient Greek `pain.' The root alg- occurs in English analgesic, myalgia, neuralgia, and the names of any number of unpleasant medical conditions.

A precious wood mentioned in the Bible (according to OSPD4). Apparently there are still a few bits of scattered in the Scrabble forest. The plural form is algums; the metathetic forms almug and almugs are also accepted.

A meteor found in the ALlen Hills region of Antarctica. (Presumably the first such found in 1984.) Gases trapped in its interior match those found on the surface of Mars by Voyager missions in the 1970's. Studies of this meteor in 1996 fed exuberant speculation that life once existed on Mars.

Academic Libraries of Indiana.

American Law Institute. ``[E]stablished in 1923 `to promote the clarification and simplification of the law and its better adaptation to social needs, to secure the better administration of justice, and to encourage and carry on scholarly and scientific legal work'.''

Sure, and lose all the extra business from having obscure, perversely formulated and generally incomprehensible laws.

Membership is attorneys, legal scholars, and judges.

The ALI shares copyright for the UCC with the NCC. The ALI publishes Restatements of the Law, secondary legal sources that summarize common law as followed in various states of the US.

ATM Line Interface.

Archives Library Information Center. ``ALIC provides access to information on American history and government, archival administration, information management, and government documents to NARA staff, archives and records management professionals, and the general public.''

Adiabatic Low-energy Injection and (inertial plasma) Confinement Experiment.

A Link
Access Link. SS7 term for an interconnection between a signal transfer point (STP) and either a signal control point (SCP; a database) or a signal switching point (SSP).

Association for Library and Information Science Education.

Automatic Line Insulation Test.

alive day
A term common among military personnel who survive major injury. It's the day, or the anniversary of the day, that you were seriously injured (and quite possibly maimed for life) but didn't die.

Any-Layer Inner Via Hole. A Matsushita-trademarked stacked-type substrate technology for microelectronic interconnnects. In microelectronics, a via is a vertical conductor above the semiconductor (i.e., one perpendicular to the top surface of the semiconductor).

Archie-Like Indexing of the Web.

Administrative-Law Judge. A hearings officer who presides over appeals of bureaucratic decisions.

ALKalinity. This particular usage seems to be common in the soil and water-treatment fields. Chemists generally use pOH or more commonly pH.

A term whose precise semantic range has varied. Most loosely, it means a base, q.v.

There are even some chemists who use the word that loosely, but minimally careful use usually applies the term only to inorganic bases. The strictest usage, and not an uncommon one, applies the term only to the hydroxides of alkali metals. Slightly looser usage includes ammonia and hydroxides of alkaline earths.

The potassium entry (K) has some etymology of the term.

There is obviously much confusion on the distinction between base and alkali, and I've even seen alkali defined as a base in aqueous solution.

alkali metals
Metals in group IA of the Periodic table (Li, Na, K, Rb, Cs, Fr). (That's also called group 1 in the currently recommended international labeling of the table.) Alkali metals tend to diffuse strongly in silicon, causing a problem described at the sodium entry.

The alkali metals are the metals whose hydroxides are the alkalis in the strictest sense of that term. Alkali metals are extremely electronegative, so their compounds are generally basic.

It seems no one ever expects alkali metals to have any interesting biological activity. I can think of two instances:

  1. Lithium. John F. J. Cade discovered the psychotherapeutic utility of lithium accidentally. The way he stumbled on this was to notice, first, that the urine of psychiatric-ward patients with bipolar disorder was especially toxic to guinea pigs. Suspecting uric acid (an excess of which is indeed toxic, as gout sufferers are aware), he began doing experiments with the organic salt lithium urate. He only used the lithium salt because lithium urate is the most soluble urate. Instead, he found that the guinea pigs were sedated. He eventually traced this back to the lithium. There's more about this story in the Li entry.
  2. Sodium. The sense of ``salt'' determined by taste buds is now known to be a response to sodium ions. Early experiments, however, seemed to suggest that the sensation of saltiness was due to chlorine (Cl) ions. The strongest evidence came from the fact that sodium acetate tasted much less salty than sodium chloride. As it happens, however, the weaker salt taste of sodium acetate is due to its lower ionization coefficient: the same molarity of sodium acetate solute as sodium chloride solute leads to a lower concentration of sodium ions.

alkaline earths
In current usage, the alkaline earths are the metals in group IIA of the periodic table (Be, Mg, Ca, Sr, Ba, Ra). (That would be group 2 in the currently recommended international labeling of the table.)

Originally, the term alkaline earth applied not to metals but to their oxides, and then only to the oxides of three metals -- calcium (Ca), strontium (Sr), and barium (Ba). It referred to oxides whose properties were intermediate between those of the alkalis and the ordinary ``earths.'' The term was in use long before the periodic table and before the discovery of radium (Ra), and so reflected a practical empirical orientation. Subsequently, the term's usage expanded to include magnesium (Mg) and radium, and what the heck, let's let beryllium (Be) into the club, too. This evolution did not reflect a change in our understanding of the chemical properties of the group members so much as an evolution towards a more theorrrrretical orrrrientation based on the periodic table or the atomic structure.

The alkaline earth metals have the odd property of increasing solubility with decreasing temperature. Normally, one only expects gases to have increased solubility at low temperature.

For a modern example showing the similarity of the alkaline earths in the earlier restrictive definition, see the CMR entry.

The title of a Collective Soul song. It has the hook ``Foo can give you / Foo can do / Foo wish for when I'm with you,'' where Foo is ``All is all I.''

Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing. Founded in 1973 ``with the purpose of supporting the application of computing in the study of language and literature.'' They co-sponsor a major annual conference with ACH, in Europe in even years, in North America in even years. A couple of those are listed at the ACH entry.

all day
Life sentence. [Prison slang. For more prison slang, see A Prisoner's Dictionary.]

Cf. kalpa, Life+50.

all day
Many larger restaurants have a kitchen manager whose job is to coordinate the activities of the various cooks. In this situation, the kitchen manager may call out orders, or the entire set of orders, rather than have cooks read the tickets. The phrase ``all day'' is jargon often used to indicate the end of an order or the orders.

There is some disagreement regarding the origin of this usage of the phrase ``all day,'' but I don't think it's worth a lot of speculation. Restaurant personnel are not known for their linguistic skills. Set aside the ``Belgium waffles,'' ``with au jus,'' ``bake scrod,'' and other menu solecisms. Once I mentioned to S. (a restaurant hostess I know) an observation I had made regarding books. I had noticed that when I came into the restaurant with a book to read, the probability that a waitress would mention it or ask me about it was an increasing function of the book's size. S. suggested that this was because -- not to put too fine a point on it -- waitresses are not the kind of people who read big books. Okay, maybe this isn't such a stunning observation. By way of compensation, S. herself is a pretty stunning observation. Maybe I was hoping she'd say that women like men with a big one. (``Then I whip out my big ten inch... record of the band that plays the blues.'') For a waitress who wrote a book, see the Waiting entry.

All dressed up and no place to go
I mentioned to K. that she and S. were the two hostesses who had the hardest time with the boredom of the job, and she replied that she and S. were the only ones who dressed up -- the others didn't care if their clothes didn't match or anything. I don't think that's the entire story, but it's a relevant datum.

That conversation also reminded me that women seem to expect men to notice their shoes. Sure, I noticed that she was taller that day and teetered into me, but I didn't think of checking out the stilettos (which would be an all-around funnier word as an -es plural). Honey, you need to discuss this with a leg man. If my eyes are going to stop for refreshment, it's not going to happen that far south. For more on restaurant-employee attire, and darts rather than stilettoes, see the black bra entry.

This entry took on added significance (for me, if not for you) six months later. K. started working as a waitress at Hooters. She told me the tips are better there. I asked if that was because the food was a little more expensive or because they sold more alcohol. She deadpanned that it was because of ``the uniform.''

All E.R.
All England Law Reports.

Allen Bradley

Allen keys
Also ``Allen tools.'' Hexagonal cross-section rod stock, bent in the form of an ell. Not to be confused with homonym Alan Keyes.

All letters will be answered.
Personalsese, `All letters will be answered eventually if we live that long.'

``All Of Me''
John Legend's song about snorkeling. The title refers to the fact that in snorkeling, the swimmer is completely submerged. The key lyric (the ``hook,'' get it?) is ``My head's under water / But I'm breathing fine.'' (John Legend himself claims he wrote it as a love song for his bride, supermodel Chrissy Teigen. He has to stick by that now, even though it doesn't explain the lyrics. What happened was that he sang it for her when it was new. Then as he was explaining ``It's a song about my love of sn--'' she screamed ``OH, IT'S ABOUT US! YOU'RE SO ROMANTIC!'' So he was stuck. At that point he had no choice but propose, or risk her eyes going permanently out of focus. You'd do the same.)

  1. In linguistics: one of two or more alternate pronunciations, like the yoo and oo pronunciations of ``ew'' in the word news (i.e., in /nju:z/ and /nu:z/). In other words, alternate phonetics (more technically alternate phones) of a single phoneme. More at the emic entry.
        The earliest quotation that the OED2 gives for allophone is of Whorf, dating from 1938. They quote from Language, Thought, and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf, ed. J.B. Carroll. Carroll commented that ``Whorf ... was apparently the first to propose the term `allophone,' now in common use among linguistic [`]scientists['].''
  2. In Canada: referring to persons who speak something other than English, French, or Québécois.
        In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir Charles Baskerville dies and his baronetcy is inherited by his nephew Henry, who has been farming in Canada. The first time Sir Henry takes his leave of Sherlock Holmes, he says ``Au revoir and good morning.'' (Here at the Stammtisch Beau Fleuve Research Centro, we strive to provide you with the most timely, relevant, and obscure information, but we don't strive very hard.)

[Football icon]

all-purpose back
A player in American or Canadian football who can play both fullback and halfback positions. Abbreviated APB. See running back entry for some explanation.

all-purpose flour
Flour that you can use for both bread and cakes. Bread flour (also used for pizza) is made from high-gluten wheat, which can produce tough, chewy cakes. All-purpose flour is made with a mix of high- and low-gluten wheat.

[Football icon]

all-purpose yards
Yards rushing and receiving (in American and Canadian football). Abbreviated APY.

all-purpose ersatz erudition
  1. Viewed in a larger context, this picture is seen to be rather too simplistic.
  2. You have to define your terms.
  3. But by trying to probe more deeply, what we encounter is the underlying inadequacy of the definition.
  4. Is it really possible to say precisely? Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle tells us that to attempt too great a precision would be meaningless.
  5. I think one would have to be an expert in this precisely defined subject in order to say with any certainty.
  6. But ultimately: how do we really know?

What was it we were talking about?

All Saints' Day
The most interesting and challenging day of the year for barbers and hair stylists, when people come in expecting quick solutions to the problems they created by putting shoe polish, vaseline, wax, or spray paint in their hair for Halloween.

Most customers dislike the really effective solution (shaving). I would recommend Goop®, that white detergent spread you use to clean roller-bearing packing grease off your hands after a brake job. An alternating sequence of amyl acetate and any rubbing alcohol might help, but I wouldn't use it on any hair that happened to be close to anyone's eyes.

All's well that ends well.
Dead men tell no tales.

All the marbles
What management usually holds and is missing a few of.

All the studies show that--
No, I haven't read alllll the studies, but generally speaking, the studies show that-- Well, no, actually, I haven't personally read any of the like, published details, but my Intro Sociology textbook says that--

all three major Scrabble dictionaries
Wherever this exact phrase occurs in this glossary, unless otherwise stated, it has the following meaning: the SOWPODS and TWL98 dictionaries, and the OSPD4. Wherever I write that a word is ``in all three major Scrabble dictionaries,'' it probably means that I checked my hard copy of OSPD4, which has definitions, and checked a web-based look-up tool mentioned at the SOWPODS and TWL entries (which gives no definitions) for the other two.

The radical CH3CHCH--.

Academia Latinoamericana Mayense. Intensive (immersion) Spanish and Mayan language school in Guatemala (.gt) since 1984. Students board with local families. No connection with the old ALM series of foreign-language textbooks.

AppWare-Loadable Module. (Capitalization following Novell NetWare convention.)


Latin, Artium Liberalium Magister. `Master of Liberal Arts.'

The preceptor for my dorm in freshman year was Jay. When we asked Jay what his major was, he said `preunemployment.' My room-mate freshman year was Dennis. Dennis was a `premed.' Jay said Dennis looked like um, um, tip-of-my-tongue, led the descamisados in Argentina, united Italy, um, you know!, uh, I'll get back to this later. Yeah, Garibaldi! Except that Jay didn't have to struggle to recall. As you probably surmised, Jay was technically a History major. Of course, Dennis was `technically' a Biology major, because Rutgers didn't recognize `premed' as a formal major. They didn't recognize `preunemployment' either. I think the idea was not to stigmatize failure by making a formal admission that you were trying to get into some professional school. Instead you were supposed to pretend that you were in school because you had a sincere love of knowledge, and weren't really making any particular plans for after graduation. Jay went to law school, although only after falling in with the Moonies the summer after his senior year, and being rescued by Art, who claimed to be `predent' but went to med school instead. I don't know what story he gave the Moonie sentries.

Asset-and-Liability Management.

Asynchronous Line Multiplexer. A device that connects terminals or other serial-interface devices to network file servers or workstations that preferentially use parallel communication. Also known as ``Multiple Terminal Interface (MTI).''

Audio-Lingual Materials. A series of foreign-language textbooks (Spanish, French, and German for English-speakers, at least) and supporting materials marketed by Harcourt Brace in the 1960's and 70's.

Al-Masaq. Published by the Society for the Study of the Medieval Mediterranean and ``covers all aspects of the Islamic Mediterranean culture from the second to the ninth AH / eighth to the fifteenth centuries AD. It is concerned with fostering interdisciplinary and cross-cultural investigation of the Mediterranean region, creating a forum for ideas and encouraging debate on the influence of Islamic culture in the Mediterranean.''

almond powder
Almond soaps are specialty soaps typically recommended for washing the face. These almond soaps are made with almonds -- the nuts -- and almond oil. In the process of making such soaps, one grinds up almonds into a powder. This is powder contains a lot of oil, like most nuts, and that oil is converted into oil in the usual way by the saponification process. This is does not depend for its effectiveness on the detergent properties of unsaponified almond, and I wonder just how effective it may be. It is not the same almond powder that was traditionally used to clean the face. My grandmother used Mandel Kleie (German for `almond bran' or `almond aril'). It has its own mild detergent effect, and it also seems to soften the water. The whole point of using it was that by relying on a natural detergent rather than soap, one avoided the harsh alkalinity of the unreacted or unneutralized lye used in soap manufacture. A consistent modern application is in the use of almond paste (also sandalwood and chick-pea creams) to clean facial pimples.

For another alternative natural detergent, see this QS entry.

They say that ``almost'' only counts in horseshoes and suicide bombings. Something like that. (Used to be hand grenades -- common theme of things tossed.) Hmm, maybe I'm thinking of ``close.'' Whatever. But what they don't tell you is that almost is a versatile word that can turn any unfulfilled fantasy into a flattering claim that isn't overly easy to demonstrate is false. For example, the guy behind the counter attends a local community college but almost got into Harvard. It's almost a true, anyway. [I'm not going to tell you which counter because of a combination of factors. Namely: (a) I value my health, and (b) he also was just an inch too short for the (non-Ivy) football team, and that one is almost believable.]

According to a potato chip I read recently (honest -- see the bongo entry for details), almost is the longest English word whose letters are in alphabetical order. In fact, that's not even almost true. A very practical and useful ``Collection of Word Oddities and Trivia'' reports that ``AEGILOPS (alternate spelling of egilops, an ulcer in a part of the eye) is apparently the longest word'' in Webster's New International Dictionary, 2/e, that consists of letters in alphabetical order. There you go.

Association of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers.

almucantar, almucantar, almucantara
A small circle parallel to the horizon. Yes, the horizon is a circle. Look around. It's a great one, if you know what I mean.

A precious wood mentioned in the Bible (according to OSPD4). Apparently there are still a few bits of it scattered in the Scrabble forest. The plural form is almugs; the metathetic forms algum and algums are also accepted.

Almucantar -- a small circle parallel to the horizon.

Asynchronous Learning Network[s]. You've heard of ``learning at your own pace''? Maybe this is it. Hmmm. Maybe not. See JALN.

A class of iron alloys with aluminum (Al), nickel (Ni), cobalt (Co), copper (Cu) and sometimes titanium (Ti), developed for military electric motor applications in WWII, still popular for PMDC motors. They have the poorest resistance to demagnetization of any commonly used PMDC field magnets.

The original alnico alloys -- Alnico I through Alnico V -- contained, as the name implies, only Al, Ni, and Co in addition to Fe.

Accreditation Liaison Officer.

ALabama Optometric Association. Does this look like a grass skirt?

Acute Loss Of Consciousness. (Acute in medical usage means of sudden onset.)

As we metallic types like to say, ``Bang yer head!''

Very simple network protocol in which user blithely transmits whenever it has data. Sort of like a drunk at a party, except that it waits until it has something to say before uninhibitedly speaking. Also, it listens to determine if a collision occurred (determination by failure to pick up its own message from the central repeater, in networks that have one, or by failure to receive an ACK). In case of collision, retransmission attempt follows after random wait.

In a variation called slotted Aloha, transmitters are synchronized to begin transmitting at fixed times. This reduces collision rate by making collisions doozies, and in complementary fashion transforming many would-be fender-benders into near misses, i.e. safe noncollisions.


Hair loss up to and including, but never exceeding complete baldness.

ALarion Press. Based in Boulder, Colorado. ``The history of ancient civilizations through colorful art and inventive architecture.''

In late May 2002, the Les Belles Lettres (yes! an excuse for a double definite article! oh, and a great tragedy) book warehouses burned down in Paris, and fires began in Colorado. Coincidence or conspiracy? What did Nostradamus say about this? And NIFC?

Aluminum Phosphide. (Let me add, Aluminium Phosphide for any of our Limey friends who had difficulty figuring that out.) An indirect-gap III-V semiconductor (2.45 eV), lattice constant of 5.467 Å. Both numbers close to those of GaP, so you might make a heterointerface, but why would you bother?

A mountain in Switzerland or thereabouts. How come I never see this singular form?

Australian Labor Party. Thus: not ``Labour.''

Air Line Pilots Association. A union that also styles itself ``Air Line Pilots Association International.'' The extra word makes reference to the fact that it represents pilots across a multinational group of countries comprised of the US and Canada. As of Y2K, it represented 55,000 airline pilots at 51 airlines. Founded in 1931; it is chartered by the AFL-CIO. See also BALPA.

Short for alpha particle (q.v.).

Alpha chip
The very good 64-bit RISC processor and associated chip set designed by DEC as a successor to their enormously successful Vax series of machines. A VMS-like operating system (OS) was available to ease the transition back when it came out in the early 1990's, but it seems to have been a pain for the systems programmers. I think the Unix-type OS was Alpha/OSF, but I'm not sure. In 1998 the Alpha series of chips was sold along with most of the rest of DEC to Compaq, which was absorbed by HP later that year.

alpha particle
A 4He nucleus. Also simply called ``an alpha.'' Alpha-particle radiation is alpha rays (q.v.), and the latter term is the origin of the one defined in this entry.

alpha rays
Radiation consisting of alpha particles. Alpha particles are fully ionized ordinary helium atoms (i.e., they are 4He nuclei). Alpha particles are commonly emitted in the decay of heavy nuclei.

The term alpha rays (written α rays) was introduced by Ernest Rutherford in 1899 in the January issue of what was then called The London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science, and which is today called Philosophical Magazine. The article came at the beginning of that period in Rutherford's career that is known as ``the Canadian exile.'' Okay, that's probably not a common term, since I just coined it, but you can find some interesting pages if you google the phrase.

In any case, Rutherford was the Macdonald Professor of Physics at McGill starting in 1898. He took the job because it paid enough that he could afford to marry his fiancée from back home in New Zealand. (Her name was Mary Georgina Newton, interestingly enough; they were married in Christchurch in 1900.) He was so successful at McGill that in 1907 he was back in England as head of his own laboratory at Manchester. This is always a problem for lower-tier schools trying to move up: the very best young stars they manage to attract may leave as soon as their reputations let them (while some bad bets that the school has made accumulate as tenured deadwood). A few decades later, another Ernest physicist and future Nobel prizewinner -- Ernest Orlando Lawrence (1901-1958) -- took a similar risk. He felt unappreciated at Yale. (For one or two things, the chairman was slow to promote him, and this made it hard to recruit graduate students.) Like Rutherford, Lawrence in his late twenties went west to start over at an unknown school: University of California at Berkeley.

Anyway, this article by Rutherford is entitled ``Uranium Radiation and the Electrical Conduction produced by it'' (pp. 109-143). (Ions produced by the radiation -- what we often call ionizing radiation today -- produce an electric current that makes it possible to study radiation quantitatively.) Previous work by Röntgen and others had shown that X-rays (the rays Röntgen had discovered) consisted of rays with different abilities to penetrate matter (i.e., as we know now, they were emitted with different wavelengths). Rutherford conducted a similar study of radiation from uranium and found two components.

In detail, Rutherford found that the intensity of radiation that penetrated a number of thin sheets of material (mostly metal foils, see Dutch foil) did not fall off as a simple exponential function of the thickness of material traversed. The results were explainable in terms of two components.

These experiments show that the uranium radiation is complex, and that there are present at least two distinct types of radiation--one that is very readily absorbed, which will be termed for convenience the α radiation, and the other of a more penetrative character, which will be termed the β radiation.

It quickly became clear that the beta rays were deflected by a magnetic field, and they were eventually identified with the electrons that J.J. Thomson had identified with cathode rays in 1897. It was also early suggested (by Strutt, in Phil Trans. Roy. Soc. 1900) that alpha particles might be positively charged, and the suggestion was advanced again by Sir William Crookes (Procs. Roy. Soc. 1902). However, it was unclear for a couple of years whether alpha rays were charged at all (equivalently, deviable by a magnetic field). In a paper dispatched on May 7, 1902, Rutherford (with Mr. A.G. Grier) was still writing

For brevity and convenience we will call the non-deviable rays of all radioactive substances α rays and the deviable rays β rays.
[See ``Deviable Rays of Radioactive Substances,'' Phil. Mag. ser. 6, vol. 4, #21, pp. 315-330 (Sept. 1902), p. 325.]

The problem was simply one of measurement sensitivity. Beta particles have a charge-to-mass ratio 1836 times that of the proton, whereas alpha particles have a charge-to-mass ratio only about half that of the proton. Rutherford managed to get access to a sufficiently strong magnetic field later in 1902, resulting in ``The Magnetic and Electric Deviation of the easily absorbed Rays from Radium,'' which described ``some experiments which show that the α rays are deviable by a strong magnetic and electric field'' and of opposite sign to beta rays. The paper also, perhaps not coincidentally, introduced the term gamma rays. (This is discussed at the gamma rays entry, duh.)

Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers.

ALPO© dog food is a product of Friskies PetCare Company, Inc.

Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers. (Alternate URL here.) A UK group founded in 1972. Seminars are a big activity, and they publish a quarterly journal called Learned Publishing. They have an eponymous mailing list to which they issue their newsletter ALPSP Alert.

ALPSP ran a survey of contributors to scholarly journals. Questionnaires were sent to about 10,500 contributors to a range of journals published in ``the UK, the USA and elsewhere''; response was 30%. They found that we're not doing it for the money. Duh.

Somewhat more interesting: ``Offprints continue to be the main way in which authors disseminate their findings after publication, though 84% also claim to announce their results at conferences pre-publication.''
[If this seems inconsistent, buy the report. Almost certainly, the 84% fraction consists mostly of journal contributors who only present some of their work before publication. Moreover, conference audiences range in size. Though it is hard to generalize across the disciplines, I'd guess from conferences I've attended -- in fields ranging from semiconductor physics to mass communication -- that poster sessions and small (say 20-30 in attendance) sessions represent the majority of papers. (Small sessions would include most workshops, departmental seminars, and parallel sessions of larger conferences.) A typical presentation, to any size of audience, includes mostly people who are only peripherally involved in one's field of research. Offprints are better targeted.]

``...two-thirds of authors agree that the purpose of scholarly publishing does seem to be changing. It is seen as moving away from knowledge dissemination to building of an author's CV/resumé or reputation.''

The OECD is proud to be a member. What else is there left to aspire to?


Latin aliter: `otherwise.'

Applause Learning Resources. ``Supplementary materials for the foreign language and ESL classroom.... a wide variety of products for instruction in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Latin, Russian, Japanese and ESL.''

Academic Libraries Survey.

Advanced Launch System.

Advanced Low-power Schottky. Prefix designation for a subfamily of TTL. Essentially the same technology as Advanced Schottky (AS), and with comparable power-delay product (PDP), but optimized for lower power consumption. This page from TI.

Montreal ALouetteS. A team in the CFL (q.v.). See Al.

American Lithotripsy Society. It's ``a voluntary membership organization dedicated to addressing all issues regarding the management and treatment of stone disease including aspects of lithotripsy as a treatment modality for urinary stone disease. Originally organized in January, 1987, the ALS is a multispecialty society including physicians and allied health professionals affiliated with major lithotripsy sites throughout the United States.''

It's bigger, but I'd rather pass a milestone than a kidney stone.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. ALS is known in the UK as Motor Neurone Disease (MND). Among people old enough to remember, or old enough to remember people old enough to remember, in the US ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Yankee first baseman Lou Gehrig set a great consecutive-games mark (2,130) that was only topped decades later by Cal Ripken, Jr. Gehrig ended the streak when he withdrew himself from the line-up in frustration at his increasingly poor performance. He didn't know then that he was dying of ALS.

German, `as.'

ALS Association. See ALS entry.

Aluminum Antimonide. An indirect-gap III-V semiconductor (1.63 eV), lattice constant of 6.136 Å.

Association for Library Service to Children. A division of the ALA.

The Association of Literary Scholars and Critics.

Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package. Apollo missions 12 and 14-17 each left an ALSEP on the Moon. These stations transmitted information about moonquakes and meteor impacts, lunar magnetic and gravitational fields, the Moon's internal temperature, and the Moon's (yes, limited) atmosphere for several years after the missions. Each ALSEP was powered by five SNAP-27 RTG's.

ALanaine aminoTransferase. Elevation of serum ALT levels is a sign of liver damage. The enzyme is released by hepatocytes (liver cells) when they die. Measurement of this level and that of AST were developed as tests for liver damage in 50's.


ALum-To-clay ratio. I wouldn't make this up. It occurs in the water treatment field.

Assistant Language Teacher. In principle, this may have a broader meaning, but in practice it's a Japanese term for a native speaker of English (usually) who provides conversation practice in primary and/or secondary schools. An ALT typically assists in half a dozen schools, visiting each school once a week. What an ALT does in each school is largely under the control of the regular (almost always native Japanese) English teacher in each class.

The term was originally created by the Japanese Ministry of Education at the time of the creation of the JET Program, as the standard translation of a term in which ``language'' translates gaikokugo, which is literally `foreign language.' There are, in fact, some ALT's who provide assistance in foreign languages other than English. The JET Program is the ``Japan Exchange and Teaching Program,'' which exists mostly to bring ALT's to Japan and distribute them to participating school systems. The program also brings some CIR's (coordinators for international relations, with various duties) and SEA's (sports education advisors).

At any given time, the JET program has upwards of 4000 foreign participants, more than half from the US. It's the largest exchange teaching program in the world. Independently of this program, ALT's are also hired in smaller numbers by private schools in Japan, and by schools in prefectures that have opted out of the JET program.

One woman I know followed her Japanese boyfriend back to Japan from the US and taught as an ALT for a year or two. You have to have a bachelor's degree to participate in the program, but it doesn't matter what it's in. Hers was in Spanish, for example. In the time she was there, she never learned much Japanese. One thing she remembers well is that the ministry or the local board of ed or whatever occasionally tried to enrich the cultural experience of her and her fellow ALT's by subjecting them to icky raw meat.

ALT's have one-year contracts that can be renewed up to four times, though later renewals are harder. She broke up with her boyfriend, though, so it was never an issue. (And this is good because she's cute, so it's nice to have her back here.) But now she's getting a master's in English to become certified to teach ESL in the US. Don't tell me you're not interested in these details.


The Association for Latin Teaching? You want ARLT.

African Language Teachers Association.

American Land Title Association. An industry association for title insurance companies.

American Library Trustee Association. A division of the ALA. Cf. CLTA.

The American Literary Translators Association.

Their twentieth annual conference was held at University of Texas at Dallas, October 30th - November 2nd, 1997.

The keynote speakers were Robert Fagles, talking about his translations of Homer, and Margaret Sayers Peden, translator of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. Be it noted that Robert Fagles evokes very mixed feelings among classicists. His translations are more popular with students than with scholars.

[column] There were also bilingual readings (always a high point!), panels, and workshops. There may have been a workshop devoted to translating Greek and Latin, too.

This ALTA ``brochure is for the literary translator who is translating into English for the American audience and who has published very little or not at all. Drawing on the experience of some of America's most distinguished translators, it discusses the special obstacles faced by the literary translator, offers suggestions for preparing a translation for submission, and provides advice and resources that will help you become a better-informed and more successful literary translator.'' Cf. the not-necessarily-literary translation group ATA.

Spanish (feminine form) for `high.'

Web search tool from digital.

Used to be one of the most complete (with Hotbot and Infoseek) and among the fastest, but it's become flakey since Digital was bought by Compaq. Anyway, the standard form needs a clear button:

Search and Display the Results


alt. dieb.
Latin alternis diebus: `on alternate days' (i.e. every other day).

A company that makes PLD's and associated CAE logic development tools. According to their webpages, they shipped ``the world's first CMOS programmable logic chip in 1984.''

alternate Spelling
When you search ``All'' for ``Tori Spelling'' at <IMDb.com>, the approximate matches include a couple hits for the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee. But maybe you wanted Tori Spelling. Yes, that's odd, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Fortunately, daddy produced `90210.' Of course, according to rumors of the usual level of reliability, she disguised her identity in casting call. She's just that kind of moral person.

Daddy (Aaron Spelling) was a producer of very successful television garbage. He executive-produced a drama called Charmed, about three sisters who talk about sexual situations and cast spells. In the opening credits, instead of appearing on screen complete, the names of the stars are spelled out by little boxes that roll across the screen. The little boxes also have little letters inside that spell out Charmed. More about this rot at this TNT entry.

Tori Spelling was named Victoria Davey Spelling at birth. In 2006 she starred in a comedy TV series that lasted 10 episodes. Loni Anderson played ``Kiki Spelling'' and Ariel Winter played ``Little Tori.'' I hope that wasn't another take-off on ``Mini-Me.''

The comedy was called ``So noTORIous.'' Tori Spelling seems to be involved in a lot of wordplay recently. In 2007, she and her husband Dean McDermott filmed a reality show for Oxygen called ``Tori & Dean: Inn Love.'' The ``Inn'' is a Bed and Breakfast that the couple own and operate in California. According to the Reality television entry at Wikipedia, when I visited on Einstein's birthday 2008, had this short definition: ``Reality television is a genre of television programming which presents purportedly unscripted dramatic or humorous situations, documents actual events, and features ordinary people instead of professional actors.'' Okay, so Tori and her actor husband Dean are batting .333 -- that's not so bad. More Tori te salutamus. Look, sometimes wordplay requires Miss Spelling.

alternating current
A power-company scam. They send you electrons, and then, a few milliseconds later, they take them back. And they charge you coming and going! They're selling you used electrons, over and over again, constantly.

Before this scam was concocted, electric power was distributed by single DC lines (the ground was ground, and it carried the return current). The primary application was arc lighting, which took up to 240 VDC. Since there was no practical and economical way to convert voltages, power delivery lines had to carry larger currents. Viewing the power-supply cable and the load as parts of a voltage divider, one sees that as load power consumption increases (more lights in parallel), the power cables must either bulk up or dissipate a progressively larger fraction of generated power. The initial solution was to build more and more closely spaced dynamos.

The ultimate solution was to supply high-voltage AC power and transform it down in voltage at substations. (Yeah, okay, so it wasn't entirely a scam.) There was initial resistance (ooh, sorry about that) to this idea from Edison and his backers, who had major capital and prestige invested in DC. (Therein lies the story of a fierce contest, which I hope to write up into an electric-chair entry.) A more practical problem was the absence of efficient AC motors. Nicola Tesla invented the first asynchronous AC motor and polyphase power delivery system, which solved most of the existing problems. The practicality of AC power systems was first demonstrated to the public at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. A more spectacular demonstration was made later at Niagara Falls. I don't remember what was more spectacular about it, but there was obviously plenty of hydroelectric power available there. The availability of cheap electric power promoted industrial development in the area. The production of shredded wheat is one application I can recall. A couple of others are mentioned at the ALCOA entry.

It is conventional to use this term, or more usually AC, even when negligible current is flowing. (Someone really wondered.) In principle, some small curent is always flowing anyway, even if it seems that all you have is alternating voltage, since the reactance of the line cannot be made infinite. That's if you want a reason, but most people would simply regard the no-current objection as a captious technicality. This discussion continues at the VAC entry.

Also in principle, alternating current might refer to any current or signal whose sign or direction varied in time. In practice, AC tends to refer to power supply (including what in Britain is called mains voltage) rather than to general electrical or communication signals, and these applications virtually always use a sinusoidally (time-)varying voltage of a single frequency. So AC generally implies sinusoidally varying.

Any reasonable continuous time-varying signal can be Fourier-analyzed into sinusoidal components. This is a very powerful technique, so the analysis of analog circuits is generally done in terms of frequency-dependent response to sinusoidal inputs. (Linear circuit response is completely specified by frequency-dependent response. Nonlinear circuit analysis uses the response to small, linear-regime signal deviations from one or more set points.)



  1. Altertum[s]. German, `[of] antiquity.'
  2. Altertumsforschung. German, `archaeology.'


alt. hor.
Latin alternis horis: `alternate hours' (i.e., every other hour).


alt. noc.
Latin alternis noctibus: `alternate nights' (i.e., every other night).

Assisted Living TodaY. An information resource for seniors.

Arithmetic Logic Unit. More precisely Arithmetic and Logic Unit.


alumina . HCl
Hydrochloric-acid-washed activated alumina.

alumina . HOH
Water-washed activated alumina.

British name for aluminum (Al). The story of how this name jumped around is a bit involved, as you can imagine from the fact that we don't even tell it here. Aluminum is one of those elements whose names were derived from the minerals they were isolated from (alumina, in this instance). Let it at least be noted that Al is not alone among metals in having a name ending in -um but not -ium: Molybdenum, Tantalum and Platinum, as well as Aurum, Argentum, and others, if one will consider the names on which the chemical symbols are based. It went through a number of names, one of which was aluminum, proposed by Sir Humphrey Davies. At one point, however, aluminium was the accepted spelling and usage among chemists in the US as well as Britain. Still, in 1925 the American Chemical Society (ACS) voted to use Aluminum.

The issue of aluminum vs. aluminium even gets an entry in the aue FAQ, but no real answer. My guess is that as long as aluminum was difficult to reduce (i.e., before the Hall process), it was a chemists' curiosity, and long years of chemical practice (using -ium) were probably of no significance compared to isolated highly public news involving aluminum. I have in mind the completion of the Washington Monument, which was capped in 1884 with a pyramid of cast ``aluminum.'' The -num word was standard usage among miners and in other practical trades, just as the old name ``columbium'' is preferred by metallurgists to the chemists' ``niobium'' (vide Cb). See also the World Wide Words Aluminium versus Aluminum article.

aluminum can
Actually not a can but an aluminum-foil bag. Once it's open you should hold it at the top or you'll squeeze the fluid out.

Alumni of UB's Electrical Engineering Department include Gregory Jarvis (BS 1967), one of the astronauts who died in the Challenger explosion in 1986. Jarvis Hall is named after him.

Another UB alumnus, but not an EE, is Wolf Blitzer, who looked dashing in CNN's reportage of a Persian Gulf War (`Operation Desert Somethingorother') in 1991. He was temporarily immortalized by Gary Trudeau, who based a Doonesbury character on him. Later, he did a stint as a White House correspondent for CNN. The White House beat is a sinecure: you twiddle your thumbs until the press secretary is ready to spin the news, and then join everyone else in asking a different version of the question he doesn't want to answer.

Advanced Low-Voltage CMOS (logic family). 0.6-µm technology for 3.3-V logic levels. Cf. earlier LVC. This page from TI.

A four year women's college in Milwaukee, Alverno has achieved a remarkable hype-to-enrollment ratio by repackaging tests and quizzes as ``assessing for competence'' and other brilliant nothingness.

I'm sorry, that should be ``four-year liberal arts college for women.'' You probably thought it was a four-year engineering college for women.

Alabama Veterinary Medical Association.

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