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Ball Lightning.

Battle Laboratory.

BiLateral. One option for electrode placement in electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

British Library. See British Museum for clarification and history. The British Library actually has its own second-level domain under the .uk top-level domain, at the same hierarchy level as rather broader domains such as that for all academic institutions (.ac.).

B.L., b.l., B/L, b/l
Traditional abbreviations for Bill Of Lading, now often abbreviated BOL, q.v.

Bit Line. Large semiconductor (and old magnetic core) memories are organized in rectangular arrays. The address of a single bit of memory is itself a binary number whose individual digits can be broken into two groups -- a word address and a bit address. The desired data bit is at the intersection of the row designated by the word address [a word line (WL)] and the column designated by the bit address (a bit line). The row/column or WL/BL distinction is not arbitrary: in conventional usage, write and read circuitry applies the information bit as a voltage to the BL. That is, the BL is accessed by reading or writing the bit value. The word line only selects a row. In this scheme of things, one reads the memory array one word at a time. There are further complications in large memories, which consist of multiple smaller rectangular arrays and so are in a logical sense three-dimensional analogues of the smaller two-dimensional memories.

Body Length. Truck dimension: precisely, the distance from the frontmost to the rearmost point of the body. Also the distance from rearmost to the frontmost point of the body, by a commutative property of metrics. The body, by the way, is the part of the truck behind the cab.

For more, see Chassis Dimensions in the NTEA's glossary of Truck Equipment Terms.

Biomedical Library Acquisitions Bulletin. BLAB (ISSN: 1064-699X) ``is published by the Medical Library Association's Collection Development Section with the cooperation of the Duke University Medical Center Library. BLAB is published more or less bimonthly, and includes items of news and opinion contributed by its readers concerning biomedical library acquisitions.'' Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Blackberry thumb
Tennis elbow for the thumb-twiddler. A malady invented to drum up business for masseurs and masseuses. Thumb pain (or discomfort or anticipation of discomfort) caused by excessive or awkward use (defined as any use at all) of a small electronic-gadget keyboard. Cf. tech neck.

blackberry thumb
Little Jack Horner,
sat in a corner,
eating his Christmas pie.
He stuck in his thumb,
and pulled out a plum,
and said ``What a good boy am I!''

Actually, it was almost certainly a blackberry, but that didn't happen to rhyme with thumb.

In the Dissecting Room feature of The Lancet, in vol. 357, iss. # 9249 (6 January 2001), Hugh Tunstall-Pedoe published a short essay entitled ``Jack Horner and biomedical literature.'' It was a parable of priority in research and publication, but it was by no means the first article in a scientific journal to mention Jack Horner.

Most instances seem to occur in the biological literature. The earliest one I can find was ``Lambda as Little Jack Horner,'' on p. 64 of the 22 March 1972 issue of Nature New Biology [a short-lived offshoot of Nature (London)]. The article byline is ``from our Molecular Genetics Correspondent.'' Citing four recent articles, it observed that phage λ could be made to integrate (or observed to integrate, in practical terms) in a much broader range of bacterial DNA sites than had been previously, by deleting the usual site of its integration. On the same page, there was a small box announcing ``First Korner Lecture.''

black bra
According to John Cleese, there are mistakes -- and mistakes. ``There are true copper-bottomed mistakes like wearing a black bra under a white blouse, or, to take a more masculine example, starting a land war in Asia.''

The example concerning a land war in Asia was borrowed from The Princess Bride, a movie released in 1987, but it is always timely. And undergarments were also not a central concern of Cleese's statement (about which, more below). However, Debra Ginsberg does have something relevant on page 219 of Waiting.

... Waiters and waitresses don't get much leeway [in ``style''] when they are required to wear a uniform, so some become quite creative in finding ways to make the most of their physical attributes. In this restaurant [to which she gives the fictitious name Baciare, `to kiss'], the uniforms were designed with old Italian waiters in mind and consisted of a jacket, pants, and tie [alas, they don't go shirtless, as we soon learn]. One waitress put darts in her work jackets so they tailored her torso. [Ouch! That must hurt!] Combined with her skintight black pants, this made her look like some sort of futuristic cyberbabe on assignment from the future [she mustn't have got first choice]. A less outrageous touch employed by various waitresses involved wearing a black bra under the white shirt so that the design of the undergarment was just visible enough for the imagination to run wild.

None of this works so well if you have a deep natural tan.

From the first chapter of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, the first description of Julia:

One of them was a girl whom he often passed in the corridors. He did not know her name, but he knew that she worked in the Fiction Department. Presumably -- since he had sometimes seen her with oily hands and carrying a spanner -- she had some mechanical job on one of the novel-writing machines. She was a bold-looking girl, of about twenty-seven, with thick hair, a freckled face, and swift, athletic movements. A narrow scarlet sash, emblem of the Junior Anti-Sex League, was wound several times round the waist of her overalls, just tightly enough to bring out the shapeliness of her hips.

(The word you're thinking of is pneumatic. By the way, Oceania is at war with Eastasia. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.)

While waiters and waitresses must usually conform to a uniform dress code, more often than not a host (hostess, seater, greeter, whatev-er) does not. For insight into that, see All dressed up and no place to go.

John Cleese's statement about mistakes is part of a speech entitled ``The Importance of Mistakes,'' which he delivered to a training and personnel conference in New York. The speech was excerpted in ``No more mistakes and you're through!'' an article by Dyan Machan in vol. 141, issue 11 of Forbes (May 16, 1988), pp. 126-7. Here's an excerpt of the excerpt:

I want to suggest to you that unless we have a tolerant attitude toward mistakes--I might almost say a positive attitude toward them--we shall be behaving irrationally, unscientifically and unsuccessfully.

Of course, if you now say to me, ``Look here, you weird limey, are you seriously advocating relaunching the Edsel?'' I will reply, ``No, Mac. There are mistakes and mistakes.'' There are true copper-bottomed mistakes like wearing a black bra under a white blouse, or, to take a more masculine example, starting a land war in Asia. I'm talking about mistakes that at the time they were committed did have a chance.

The entire speech was released as a training video shortly afterwards ($95).

Various versions of the quote are strewn across fortune files and the Internet. Here is a typical one of the longer versions:

I want to suggest to you today, that unless we have a tolerant attitude toward mistakes -- I might almost say ``a positive attitude toward them'' -- we shall be behaving irrationally, unscientifically, and unsuccessfully. Now, of course, if you now say to me, ``Look here, you weird Limey, are you seriously advocating relaunching the Edsel?'' I will reply, ``No.'' There are mistakes -- and mistakes. There are true, copper-bottom mistakes like spelling the word ``rabbit'' with three M's; wearing a black bra under a white shirt; or, to take a more masculine example, starting a land war in Asia. These are the kind of mistakes described by Mr. David Letterman as Brushes With Stupidity, because they have no reasonable chance of success.

For all I know, Cleese may have delivered similar remarks in different speeches. If all the quoted versions originated in the same speech, I incline to the view that most of the variation among versions is due to silent elisions and mistranscriptions rather than to embellishment.

black monks
Benedictine monks. Order founded (c. 529) by Saint Benedict of Nursia. After the formation of the Cistercian order, which made a spiritual fashion statement by adopting white robes (which probably needed more frequent cleaning, though I don't think that was the point), the Benedictines were referred to as ``black monks'' for their black robes. If you really, sincerely want to know more about this twelfth-century news, you probably ought to have your head examined, but until then, you can find almost no additional information at the white monks entry.

black Republicans
This space intentionally left blank.

    Extended footnotes
  1. From Andrew Young's memoir, An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America (1996), pp. 95-96:
        Our voter registration drive [in Thomasville, Ga., for the 1956 elections] was not as successful as we had hoped--we were able to register only a handful of people. But our efforts helped Eisenhower carry Georgia by increasing the rolls even a little and encouraging those who were registered that it was an important election. Black voters in the South were still voting Republican, although most made an exception for Franklin Roosevelt. I voted for Eisenhower too. The Southern segregationists were all Democrats, and it was the black Republicans like John Wesley Dobbs, John Calhoun, and Q.V. Williamson who could effectively influence the appointment of federal judges in the South. The best civil rights judges in the South were the Eisenhower appointees: Frank Johnson in Alabama; Elbert Tuttle on the U.S. Court of Appeals; Brian Simpson, who would save my life in Florida; Minor Wisdom; and Skelly Wright on the D.C. Court of Appeals were all Republicans. These judges are among the many unsung heroes of the civil rights movement.

    John Minor Wisdom was appointed a judge of the US Court of Appeals for the the Fifth Circuit in 1957. We have a short list of oddly-named judges. You're probably wondering how Brian Simpson saved Andrew Young's life. It's not so dramatic and hardly clear-cut; I'll fill in later.

black robes
The Benedictine order (the ``black monks,'' as you'd know if you were reading the entries in proper order) was in general decline from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries. They were rarely, if ever, missionaries in the Americas. The Jesuits, on the other hand, were founded as a missionary order. According to this page on Syracuse, New York,

In 1653, the native Iroquois sent word to the French in Quebec, requesting that a "Black Robe" -- as Jesuit missionaries were referred to at that time -- travel to their country. In July of the following year, Father Simon LeMoyne made the multiday journey to the land that would become Syracuse and Onondaga County.

There, he lived among the native Onondaga -- a part of the Iroquois Confederacy -- for several months, and toured the entire region. It was Father LeMoyne who reached the salty shores of Onondaga Lake and realized its potential. At one time, Syracuse was known as the salt capital of the world.

A search on ``Simon Le Moyne'' at the Le Moyne College web site turns up nothing, but a google search does the trick. Father Le Moyne's work is commemorated in the seal of the college. The Le Moyne College yearbook is called ``The Black Robe.''

Clothing is frequently used in synechdoche. In Act II, Scene 4 of Shakespeare's ``The Tragedy of Macbeth,'' Macduff says to Ross,

Well, may you see things well done there: adieu!
Lest our old robes sit easier than our new!
The old robes is the murdered King Duncan; the new robes is Macbeth, to be crowned at Scone (thither Ross).

Black Rock
Nickname of the CBS central offices at 52nd and Sixth in NYC.

black sheep
The idea of this expression is reputed to be: black wool brings less at market, but black sheep cost no less to feed than white sheep. Hence the resentment expressed by ``the black sheep of the family'' and similar phrases.

Why is black wool cheaper? My guess: to reach to most hues and saturation levels by dying, it's harder -- if it's even possible -- if you start from black wool than if you start from white wool. But what if you like darker tones? This looks fashion-dependent. Cf. black monks and white monks.

black tie
A black bowtie. A black-tie event is a formal occasion where men are expected to dress in black tuxedos. The women should wear expensive dresses in LA and expensive business suits in Washington. Cf. white tie.

Basic Linear Algebra for Distributed Environments. It's a clever acronym, and it probably once represented something real. At the time that I inserted it in this glossary, however (in May 2006), all instances of the expansions occurred in glossaries. Many of these could be traced back to V.E.R.A. (``common and not so common acronyms'') at least as far back as the edition 1.0 in Texinfo format, released June 1997.

Blair Force One
Jocular name for Concorde jet used by British PM Tony Blair, punning on Air Force One. Blair first became prime minister in 1991, but the earliest published instance I have found so far of ``Blair Force One'' is in a catty column in The Observer for February 8, 1998.

Blaise, BLAISE
British Library Automated Information SErvice. It's been superseded, but its trace remains in the ``Blaise number,'' a machine-generated control number for internal use.

Basic Linear Algebra Subroutines. Level 1 BLAS was released in 1979.

Belgian Luxembourg American Studies Association. A constituent association of the EAAS. Is Belgian Luxembourg the only kind? Is BLASA pronounced blasé? So many questions -- must do research! More, equally vitally important stuff about Belgium and Belgian at the KFLC entry.

Basic Local Alignment Search Tool. Read this lesson from Steven M. Thompson.

An airblast prediction model for quantitative analysis of blast noise from high explosives detonations. I don't know what it stands for yet, but I couldn't wait to get it into the glossary.

German: `blue.' The Germanic tribes that overran the Roman Empire absorbed much of the culture and quickly came to speak local Vulgar Latin dialects. Interestingly, the common words for colors tended to be kept. If that is significant, then a reason may be that Latin color vocabulary (and even more so the Greek) was imprecise.

A species of antelope (Hippotragus leucophaeus) that roams the Scrabble forest, but that is otherwise extinct. The name is from Dutch meaning `blue buck,' and dates to the time when the animal roamed southern Africa, and when the language of the Dutch settlers was still called Dutch rather than Afrikaans. We have an entry for another African antelope, the bongo, but the information there is of preposterous provenance. We also mention the bongo at our zebra entry. (All three major Scrabble dictionaries accept bongo, bongoes, and bongos.)

Boothby-Lovelace-Bulbulian (oxygen mask).

Bantuan Likuiditas Bank Indonesia. `Credit liquidity [operations of the] Bank of Indonesia.'

Basic Law Consultative Committee. Hong Kong group that participated in the writing of the ``Basic Law'' -- the constitution that has nominally governed Hong Kong since it was sacrificed to the PRC on July 1, 1997. More clarifications in this glossary.

British Library Document Supply Centre. They say they're ``the foremost document provider in the world.''

bleeding edge
Jocular term for leading-edge technology. The metaphorical picture implied by this term is a bit jumbled. ``Leading edge'' suggests the narrow end of a wedge, forcing its way into a bulk presumably of old technology, viewed as an undifferentiated boring (or borable, ha-ha) mass. In this case the leading edge is new technology.

Alternatively one may imagine a graph of use, and regard the ``leading edge'' as the initial rise from zero. In that case, the leading edge is not the technology adopted but the ``first-adopters'' or ``early adopters'' or avant garde. Depending on the technology, and the quality of its first implementations, this group might be called ``visionaries'' or ``foolhardy suckers.'' In either case, this group typically bears the brunt of early bugs and lack of support or implementation experience. Hence, this is the edge that bleeds. (Franklin had an apposite comment, taken somewhat out of context in the defensive driving entry.)

The bleeding edge is sometimes described as being just ahead of the cutting edge. I'm not going to be the first one to analyze that metaphor.

blended family
A family that includes at least one stepchild.

blended payment
Loan terms in which constant payments over the course of the loan term pay off both principal and interest (in a varying ratio).

BLock Error Rate. (Cf. bit error rate, BER.)

Belgo-Luxembourg Economic Union. Set up in 1921.

It is meant to maintain parity between the currencies of Belgium and Luxembourg, each currency being legal tender in the other country. The countries also hold their gold and exchange reserves in common.

Both countries are members of the EU and participate in the Emu, so some functions of BLEU are obviated, but BLEU is considered a success and will continue in existence.

French, `blue.'

Sacre bleu! Don't you feel stupid for asking, huh? You know that saying about there being no such thing as a stupid question? Of course you do! That's an example.

Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. See It was a dark and stormy night.

A nonrigid lighter-than-air craft or a fat person. The famous ones of the former type in use in the US today are the ones made by Goodyear in Akron, OH and stationed in southern California.

Blimp, like blizzard, is a recent word of unknown origin. bl, like gl, is one of those phonemic units that seems to function a bit like a morpheme, in the fashion that Roman Jakobson advanced as a common mechanism. (I revisit this at the ground entry.)

``Type B: limp'' is apparently just someone's guess, with no historical support.

For a bit more related to blimps, see this LZ entry.

blind clerics
They seem to be disproportionately over-represented in the ranks of crusade leadership.
  1. Henry Dandolo, doge of Venice: guiding spirit of the Fourth Crusade. (Okay, a doge is a duke and not a cleric, but we have to demonstrate that all religions are equal in all details that matter to unbelievers, and it's hard to do that if we are fastidious about facticity.)

  2. 'Abd al-Aziz ibn Abdallah ibn Baz: ``traditionalist'' (more correctly Wahabi) head of Saudi Arabia's Council of Senior Islamic Scholars, from the early 1960's on. Among his fatwas were prohibitions on fortune tellers, women driving cars, and the importation of those scandalously short veils that reveal part of a woman's face. In 1990, he issued a fatwa approving a jihad against Iraq, allowing non-Muslim troops on Saudi territory during the Persian Gulf War. He was grand mufti from 1993 on, and I think it was also in 1993 that he declared that the earth is flat.

  3. Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman: leader of Gama'a Islamiya (`Islamic Group') Rahman was acquitted of conspiracy charges in the assassination of President Anwar Sadat, convicted of conspiracy in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and sentenced to life in prison, and suspected of conspiracy in various other terrorist acts.

  4. Sheikh Ali al-Nakas: nothing. (On April 14, 1996, he was sentenced to a year in jail by Bahrain's State Security Court, on charges of incitement against the government. Fourteen other Shi'ite Moslems held in connection with anti-government protests received longer sentences.

  5. Sheik Ahmed Yassin: leader of the Hamas terrorist organization until he was killed by an Israeli missile in March 2004. He was described as only half-blind.

blind date
Aren't they all, really?

BTW, I saw a headline behind the window of a newspaper box on December 10, 2005, claiming that blind dating is coming back -- as an alternative to online dating sites.

German, `blind people's writing.' Reflecting the specific script actually used, this is also called Punktschrift and Brailleschrift. (The word Braille is pronounced approximately as in French, of course.) For single alphabetic characters, Arabic numerals, and Braille's original ten punctuation marks, German braille coincides with braille as used in other Western European languages (see braille letters). Adaptations made for German include the following single-cell codes (the bottom row gives, where appropriate, Braille's original assignments of the same codes for French):
           . *  |  * .  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  * .  |  . *  |  . *
braille:   . .  |  . .  |  * .  |  . .  |  . *  |  . *  |  * *  |  * .  |  . *
           * .  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  * .
German:     äu      au      eu      ei      ch     sch      ü       ö       ä
French:             â       ê       î       ô       û       ü       œ

blind reviewing
How true.

An HTML mark-up tag introduced by Netscape in order to give people an incentive to use Mosaic (the only other graphical-interface browser at the time).

B Link
Bridge LINK. (SS7 term.)

I have exciting news about your steering column! You know how there's this rod sticking out of the left side of it, behind the steering wheel? Well, it's become fashionable to do things with it! Yes! You can be cool too if you do what all the in people are doing. DO IT! For instance, when you're approaching an intersection where you're going to make a left turn, you push down on the rod. Yeah, it's kind of arbitrary, and it doesn't really make any kind of sense, but that's just how these things are. But just do it and you'll be better-liked! Visit the motor vehicle bureau for more tips on how to be popular!

(It's okay to push the rod thing up or down with the side of your cell phone, if the other hand is holding food and you're steering with your knee.)

Background-LImited Performance.

blithering idiot
A person of average intelligence who does not understand you. Cf. Idiot.

Broadband -- Low Layer Information.

Bayerischen Landeszentrale für neue Medien. ``Bavarian state central office for new media.'

(US) Bureau of Land Management.

Buried-Logic MacroCell.

British Library Newspaper Library. A courageous name.

Binary Large (larger than stellar) OBject.

Term describing heavy bombs of WWII, so effective they could destroy an entire apartment block when they hit. Everyone who appears to be careful about these things apparently agrees that during the war, the term was used primarily for the RAF's 4000-lb cookies (and not for the weaker 4000-lb. M.C. bombs) as well as for larger bombs. Usage has become looser since, and the term is also applied to 2000-lb. American bombs. Given the fact that the British bombing of Germany was weighted toward night-time missions with primarily residential targets, while US missions there were weighted toward higher-accuracy (though still low-accuracy) daytime bombing of industrial capacity, the lighter US bombs should probably not be called blockbusters.

The term was subsequently used in advertising to describe anything in any remote way resembling a great explosion or causing a great sensation. The war movie Pearl Harbor, released in Summer 2001, was often unironically called a blockbuster. Over 350 bombs were exploded in the filming of that movie. Cf. bikini.

An Internet term that evolved from weB LOG. A blog or 'blog or weblog is a kind of public diary -- one person's (the blogger's) individual commentary, typically political, published sequentially in growing web-pages. According to this Wikipedia entry (retrieved 2005.11.7), Jorn Barger is the editor of Robot Wisdom, an influential early weblog, and he was the one who ``coined the term weblog to describe the process of `logging the web' as he surfed.''

Blogs are entry-wise inverse-chronological, which is as irritating as the beginning of this sentence. Catching up on previous entries (or, for that matter, reading a blog for the first time) is often confusing unless you scroll up to the top of each successive entry and then scroll down to read it. Obviously, they should be inverse-chronological by individual line. Wait here, I've got to get an aspirin.

In many respects, including the general politically rightward and libertarian tilts, it is a written form of talk radio. For important examples, see

There were half a million blogs in July 2002. To get a grip, try blogdex.

You could think of blogs as one-person chat rooms. Really quite crass, and I am glad that I can guarantee to you our faithful readers that we of the SBF would never do anything remotely similar. (There are also consortium blogs like Daily Kos.)

Regarding that scrolling business -- I'm told some people ``scroll down'' to the top of an entry, and then ``scroll up'' as they read down through it -- the idea being that the text is moved upwards as they read down through the lines in a fixed window. A similar confusion makes a tedious hassle out of defining the signs on angles of a general rotation. The solution is simple: pick one standard convention and stick to it. My standard is this: the intransitive verb scrolling is referred to the eyes: if you ``scroll downward,'' your eyes are looking for something further down on the page. Transitive scrolling is referred to the image motion: ``scrolling the text downward'' means scrolling upward so that the text moves downward through the window. Everyone should use my (SBF-standard) convention.

A helium balloon, to judge from the pitch of the voices in it.

blood brothers
True brothers, in the sense of sharing blood. The two senses of this word correspond to the cases of either `blood' or `brother' being metaphorical:
  1. In what seems to be the older sense in English, blood represents or emphasizes biological kinship: blood brothers are brothers by birth (as opposed, say, to the other kind of blood brothers). I'm not sure what distinction is normally meant here. It might be meant to distinguish full brothers from half-brothers (brothers with one parent in common), step-brothers (either half-brothers or sons of an adoptive parent married to one's natural parent), or brothers-in-law. But it might just be emphatic.
  2. In the other sense, brother is understood to represent the obligations, prerogatives, or other social implications of brother status, but the blood is real. In ceremonial practices known both in Africa and aboriginal America, a commingling of blood is used to consecrate a social tie between two men who usually are not brothers. I think the practice was unknown among the English until the age of exploration, whereas expressions such as ``brothers in the blood'' date back to at least as early as 1400.

The term seems to be meant mostly in the second sense nowadays and, along with the newish ``blood sister,'' is often used completely metaphorically -- that is, the relationship is like as to one consecrated in blood. That's good, because blood makes me queasy. For a different take on degrees of brotherhood, see the germanus entry.

When my father was in the hospital after his first heart attack, a nurse came in at one point and said that visitors (indicating Miguel) had to leave. My father protested that Miguel was his brother, and the nurse commented suspiciously that they didn't look like brothers. So my dad said that they had different fathers. He didn't mention that they also had different mothers. For a related kind of thinking, see the twins entry.

blood sugar
Glucose is the only sugar normally used by muscle and nerve cells. The quantity of glucose in solution in the blood is controlled by insulin.

Glucose passes through the lining of the small intestines much more rapidly than other sugars. Other sugars, in addition to being absorbed much more slowly, are grabbed by the liver and converted to glucose. Since the conversion process takes a few minutes, while absorption through the small intestines takes hours, most of the single-ring (``simple'') sugars that started out as something other than glucose are present in the blood as glucose. Thus, although some other sugars are dissolved in the blood, for all practical purposes blood sugar is glucose. Cf. Chem 7.

    In chronological order:

  1. Bloomsbury is a neighborhood of London, England. In November 1919, there was a running argument in the Times (London) letters section, regarding the origin of the name. I'll type in the details as soon as the librarians refresh the toner in the microfilm printer.

    Bloomsbury is home to the ``British Museum,'' London University, and many antiquarian book shops, and may be regarded as the intellectual center of London by those who like to think in such terms.

  2. A political party that appeared in July 1765, led by the Duke of Bedford. Also known as the ``Bedford party'' and ``Bloomsbury gang.''

  3. A set of creative types associated with Bloomsbury (defn. 1), principally through their friendship or acquaintance with Virginia Woolf, who lived there. Given the fuzzy definition, there is a core of generally agreed members and a larger number of people on the edges of the group whose membership is in dispute. The core included
    Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)
    Leonard Woolf (VW's husband; 1880-1969)
    Vita Sackville-West (VW's friend and lover)
    John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946)
    E. M. Forster (1879-1970)
    Lytton Strachey (1880-1932)
    Roger (Roger Elliot) Fry (1866-1934)
    Duncan A. (Duncan Andrew) Grant (1885-1978)
    Vanessa Bell (VW's sister)
    Clive Bell (1881-1964; VW's brother-in-law)
    Adrian Stephen (VW's brother)
    Saxon Sydney-Turner
    Molly MacCarthy
    Francis Birrell (1889-?)
    Gerald Shove
    H. T. J. Norton

    VW was considered a brilliant writer for much of the twentieth century, and she certainly wasn't a slouch. Among literary types, she's still considered more famous than Maynard Keynes. On account of her fame and reputation, and because there's this name (Bloomsbury), there's an entire library of books on the Bloomsberries, Bloomsburyites, and everything else they were called.

  4. Bloomsbury Publishing. At 38 Soho Square, in London. The publisher with the rights to J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. [Scholastic contracted for the US rights. In addition to Americanizing the spellings and punctuation, they also changed the traditional ``philosopher's stone'' to the presumably more accessible ``sorcerer's stone,'' in the title and text of the first book. (Because of the title and relevant dialogue, the film was distributed in two English-language versions: US and ROW.) US and British publishers tend to compete for Canada, but in this case Bloomsbury negotiated the rights with Raincoast Books which, as you can guess, is based in Vancouver. Back in 1999 both versions of the first book (Philosopher's and Sorcerer's) could be found in Toronto. However, Raincoast Books has exclusive rights to sell and distribute the book in Canada, and the Scholastic edition should not be on store shelves (new) there.]

blowout, blow-out
An explosion of some sort, either of a vehicle tire or of some number. It's a relative thing. In an editorial October 21 on the impending 2004 US presidential election, Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune described as a ``virtual black blowout for Bush'' the possibility that he might double his share of the black vote from the 8% he got in 2000. A 12-14% share ``would almost certainly doom Kerry's chances.''

Political analysis in 2004: polling microscopy.

blow-out clearance sale!

For those unfamiliar with the concept, and for those seeking terminal ennui, sale is explained at the yard sale entry.

Base lending Rate.

Broad-Line Radio Galaxy. See RG.

Battle Lab (BL) Reconfigurable Simulation Initiative.

Basic Life Support.

Boston Latin School. ``Latin'' is not simply a traditional part of the school's name. It's been a required subject since the school was founded. (It ``is the oldest public school in America with a continuous existence. It was founded April 23, 1635 by the Town of Boston ... antedating Harvard College by more than a year.'') Students today enter either in the 7th or in the 9th grade. Entering 7th graders must take 5 years of Latin; entering 9th graders must take 3 years.

(US) Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Black and Latin Student Union. An organization at Siena College.

``The purpose of this organization is to enhance the educational, social, recreational, cultural, and psychological environment of the Siena Community by promoting activities that are relevant to ethnic minorities in general and the Black and Latino in particular.'' (My emphasis.)

Wow, man, like -- far out! The word ``relevant'' just brings those old memories crashing back. It evokes tears of nostalgia, just like the scent of tear gas.

Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato. A sandwich.

Entry coming. We'll discuss blue food, tricyclic-antidepressant photosensitive pigmentation, Mongolian blue spot, Blue Berbers, all that stuff. Eventually. For now, we just link to bleu, blue dog, Big Blue, Big Blue Meatball, and Blue Moon. There's some interesting information at the violet entry too.

blue biotech
Maritime biotechnology.

blue dog
Blue-dog Democrat. A conservative Democrat. The idea being that a yellow dog that's being choked turns blue. Cf. yellow-dog Democrat.

A common way of identifying blue dogs in the US House of Representatives is as those Democrats whose districts went substantially for the Republican standard-bearer in the previous presidential election.

blue-dot Democrat
A Democratic congressman representing an isolated Democratic district in a generally red state.

Blue Moon
The expression ``once in a blue moon'' means rarely. Its etymology is disputed. One claim is that it is derived from ancient Chinese observations of the moon occasionally appearing blue. This does happen, and it is rare, but I vaguely recall that that the Chinese manuscript evidence for this is limited or doubtful.

Almost any weak optical scattering by particulates and inhomogeneities will be approximate Rayleigh scattering, and so strongest for short wavelengths. Hence, the sun looks yellow high in the sky and red near the horizon. Light from the moon is colored in the same way. However, since the moon's light is a dim reflection of the sun's, its color is paler (technically less deep, or less saturated). This results from the fact that the color-sensitive cones in the retina crap out at low intensity, so low-light vision is dominated by the color-neutral rods. One of the more subtle effects of color vision, one of those called the Perkinje effect, is that sensitivity to low-intensity red light is less efficient than sensitivity to blue and green. That is, the red-perceiving cones crap out earlier. This has a slight effect of making the moon bluer than it might normally seem, if atmospheric conditions dim it achromatically (i.e., if the view of the moon is obscured by opaque particulates that primarily absorb rather than scatter light). However, for the moon to appear perceptibly blue probably requires something more. Volcanic ash that has segregated by size in the atmosphere can occasionally do it. Spectacular weird sunsets widely reported after the eruption of Krakatoa were probably due to this effect.

In July 2000, Air University Press published Once in a Blue Moon: Airmen in Theater Command -- Lauris Norstad, Albrecht Kesselring, and Their Relevance to the Twenty-First Century Air Force, by Howard D. Belote, Lt. Col., USAF (CADRE Paper No. 7).

Also in 2000, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) published More Than Once in a Blue Moon: Multiple Jobholdings by American Artists, by Neil O. Alper and Gregory H. Wassall (Research Division Report #40). I guess moonlighting made them blue.

blue state
A state that votes Democratic in US presidential elections. The usage, and the practice of displaying a state-outline map of the US in blue and red, became popular during TV election reporting during the 2000 elections. It was meant to point up the increased political polarization of the US, stressed by many pundits. The 2004 election cycle saw the addition of a parallel terminology: retros and metros. (The blue states are more urban, and by implication urbane; the red states are despised as backward, in their secret hearts, by the majority of the MSM.)

Was the color blue chosen arbitrarily? We address that question elsewhere, but let me put forward a hypothesis here. Before the 2000 election, most major polling organizations predicted a slim popular-vote majority for Bush, the Republican candidate. Gallup predicted the smallest majority; Zogby was the only major pollster to predict a majority for Gore, and came closest to predicting Bush's ultimate winning margin of negative half a percent. But the important point here is that the media might have expected the majority of voters in the Democratic-leaning states to end up blue, hence the choice of color scheme. Now, I'm pretty sure this hypothesis is wrong, but I wanted an excuse to mention the polling situation before the election, so there you go. I state a hypothesis I consider less improbable at the red-state entry.

Incidentally, there was a lot of speculation before the election that, given the closeness of the vote, the electoral vote might go the opposite way from the popular vote. That happened, of course, but not as expected. After the 2000 election, and especially after the 2004 election, the blue states were evidently the states with the higher proportion of voters who were blue about the outome of the election.

Barry Manilow. A popular singer of the 1970's. Most of our BM-related material is at the CCU entry.

Basilar Membrane.

Bench Mark.

(Domain name code for) Bermuda.

Bollywood Mail. Part of the Bollywood World Network. Few URL's have five w's. The movie It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World has five if you count the em's as upside-down double-u's. The treasure that motivated its plot, if you can call the centrifugal motion of an all-star cast of comic personalities a plot, was buried under the big dubba-yoo. For a few years the president of the US was dubya, and if only it had been a movie, it would have been a lot funnier. Unfortunately, real life is usually not a movie.

We seem to be getting a bit off-topic here. At a separate entry we explain Bollywood to the uninitiated.

Bowel Movement. [Parentese and hospitalese.]

Nietzsche, always a sickly fellow, was appointed to the chair of classical philology at Basel when he was 24. There he met the historian Jakob Burckhardt, whom he came to admire greatly. (You wouldn't get the idea from his books that he could really admire anyone, would you?) The admiration wasn't mutual. Burckhardt is said to have remarked,

``That Nietzsche fellow? He couldn't even have a healthy bowel movement.''

Scattered other relevant stuff:
Mornings at his ashram, Mohandas Ghandi (or Ghandiji, or Mahatma Ghandi, as he was later known) would typically ask his, uh, staff or whatever if they had had good bowel movements. Barry Manilow's initials are BM. It reminds me of an observation of W.C. Fields. He noted the identity of the first two letters of the closely allied terms ``alimentary canal'' and ``alcohol.'' Could this be a mere coincidence? ``Hardly,'' he scoffed. (Fields, incidentally, was born William Claude Dukenfield. He used various pseudonyms as a scriptwriter, including Mahatma Kane Jeeves.) There's a bit more specifically about BM at the CCU entry. There's a bit more excrementitious or at least GI-related stuff at the Veep entry.

Brick[s]-and-Mortar. (As opposed to online, rather than to clapboard-and-nails, say, or ice-cream-sticks-and-white-glue.)

Bryn Mawr. A college in Philadelphia. The undergraduate college is still all-female. That's where I should have gone to graduate school.

[column] There is a series of student texts of Classical (Greek and Latin) works called the Bryn Mawr Classical Texts. Here's a list.

There are two respected series of emailed reviews of scholarly literature called the Bryn Mawr Reviews (BMR), namely Bryn Mawr Classical Review (BMCR) and Medieval Review [used to be BMMR, now TMR (for The MR)].

Japanese: unfortunately chosen name of consequently short-lived beverage product. Cf. Pocari Sweat.

On the subject of BM and beverages, I own a book by one B. M. Smirnov (Boris Mikhailovich), a member of the erstwhile Academy of the Sciences of the USSR, Moscow, who wrote Otristatel'nye Iony. I have Negative Ions (McGraw-Hill, 1982), a translation by S. Chomet.

British Majorette Association? Name changed. You want the BBTSA.

Bulletin de Médecine Ancienne. In this instance, ancienne really means `ancient' and not `old.' The official English title is Ancient Medicine Newsletter. BMA is online and free.

Business Marketing Association. ``[S]erves the professional, educational and career development needs of business-to-business [``B2B''] marketers - advertisers, agencies, media and their partner suppliers.''

Broadcast Master Antenna Control.

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung. German `Federal Ministry of Education and Research.'

Bulk Molding Compound.


Bryn Mawr Commentaries.


Bryn Mawr Classical Review.

Ballistic Missile Defense.

Ballot-Marking Device. Generic term for a machine that helps the disabled to vote by marking a paper ballot. There are a number of BMD manufacturers, and BMD's deal in a variety of ways with a variety of disabilities, though the main disabilities necessitating BMD's are visual impairments. BMD's may, for example, present options (and confirm selections) through a head set, or through a screen display made more readable by enlargement or the use of high-contrast two-tone display. The voter may enter selections using a touch-screen or a Braille keypad. A voter with limited mobility may identify selections using a sip-and-puff device or rocker paddles. BMD's are expensive.

BMD's aren't normally used for vote counting. The ballots marked by a BMD are transfered through a ``privacy sleeve'' (shades of cone of silence) to an optical scanner or ballot box.

Bending-Moment Diagram. The bending moment is essentially the integral of the shear force as a function of distance along the beam. What beam, you say? The one that the load is trying to shear. Cf. SFD.

Bone Mineral Density.

Building Material Dealer.

Bulk MicroDefects.

Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. Current name of what was originally SDIO. At first, all tests of prospective ballistic missile defense systems failed. The company that's designing the system and that desperately needs to demonstrate progress now claims success in non-rigged tests.

If anybody wants to commit mass murder, they can buy a delivery vehicle from the North Koreans, say, a warhead from any of a number of states, and shoot. The most we could do is hit back at whatever innocent party is still in the vicinity of the launch site. It's still MAD.

Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering.

Bachelor of Music Education.

BioMechanical Engineering.

BioMedical Engineering.

Bryn Mawr Electronic Resources Review.

BioMedical Engineering Society.

Ballistic-Missile Early Warning System. Yes, at least some Air Force people pronounced that ``bemuse.'' See DEW Line entry.

BundesMinisterium für Forschung und Technologie. German, `Federal Ministry for Research and Technology.'

Bertelsmann Music Group. ``Creativity thrives in our culture that emphasizes team spirit, motivation, and innovation'' but not grammar. (It's not just the use of that as relative clause for nonrestrictive clause; it's the absence of a comma which today signals such a clause. What? What did I say?)

Bulk Metallic Glass. It's tricky to make a metallic glass, because it's easy for the metal atoms at the solidification front to shift around a little bit and form a microcrystalline solid. At first, metallic glasses were made in thin ribbons, by the splat cooling process. It was eventually found that certain alloys (with near-eutectic compositions, of course) were glass-formers: they could be cooled sufficiently quickly to form BMG. The early ones usually had a lot of zirconium. Another good BMG system is PdxNi0.8-xP0.2 (0 < x < 1). The best glass-former is in the middle of the range: Pd4Ni4P2.

British Materials Handling Federation. BMHF comprises

Bis MaleImide.

Body Mass Index. Mass in kg / (Height in m)2 or 703 × `Weight in lb.' / (Height in inches)2. Medical gurus say 25 is good, 27 is overweight going into obese (obese is over 30, if you want a completely otiose but standard number). So your target weight is 0.0355 × (height in inches)2. The health fascists will help you compute it. More effective ideas on how to lose weight at the body weight entry.

The BMI is invalid for anyone under 18 years old, serious athletes and body builders, pregnant women (duh), nursing women, and the frail or sedentary elderly. It's also invalid for everybody else. ``Invalid'' in the sense of ``poor prognosticator of future health'' and ``not a measure of lean/fat ratio.''

Incidentally, the otiose number that is 25 (threshold of overweight) was 27.8 for men and 27.3 for women. In 1998, when the NIH lowered the threshold, 35 million previously non-overweight Americans became overweight. Clearly, the NIH is one of the major causes of overweight in the US today.

The great utility of BMI is to remind people that obesity is not a weight condition -- it's a condition of weight relative to height. Therefore, if you're obese, you're not really overweight -- you're just undertall. It turns out to be just as easy to get taller (and stay taller) as it is to become lighter (and stay lighter). Food for thought. (I did not coin the word ``undertall.'' It occurred in a Garfield cartoon.)

Book Manufacturers' Institute.

British Medical Journal.

Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Bone Marrow MonoNuclear Cell.

Bryn Mawr Medieval Review. Original name of The Medieval Review, (TMR) before it moved to Medieval Institute at Western Michigan University.

Beginning of Morning Nautical Twilight. The time when the sun has risen to a point 12 degrees below the horizon. At latitudes close to and inside the Arctic and Antarctic circles, there are nights when nautical twilight never begins or ends. (See EENT for more precise formulation.)

Bonding Molecular Orbital (MO).

Brigade motorisée. French term for cops in cars.

Big Man On Campus. College student VIP. Concept dissipated in the 60's. Not necessarily related to BMI.


Best Manufacturing Processes.

``The main goal of BMP is to increase the quality, reliability, and maintainability of goods produced by American firms. The primary steps toward this goal are simple: identify best practices, document them, and then encourage industry, government, and academia to share information about them.''

The welcome text on their homepage (which can be hidden by Javascript-called images) is misaligned. Depending on the size of the window in which it is viewed, differing portions of the first paragraph are hard to read because they overlap images. Gotta give credit due, though, the text-browser version is well set-up.

Basal Metabolic Rate. This is the metabolic rate -- the power consumption -- minimally necessary for mere survival. Since humans don't hibernate, it's essentially the metabolic rate that obtains during deep sleep, when the body is limp and the eyes aren't rolling around following some dream vision. Metabolic rates vary with activity and with state of health. To take an extreme example, in extended food deprivation, the human body husbands calories carefully, eliminating such luxuries as thinking (except about food). On the other hand, the BMR, because it represents what one might call nondiscretionary energy expenses, varies less, and represents a useful baseline for discussion.

One study has indicated that children's metabolic rates fall below the sleeping rate while they watch TV. TV: TM for children! [Other animals can do this.] Of course, ``sleep like a baby'' has always been an odd simile, as haggard new parents will testify.

Here's a BMR calculator that's very nice, but doesn't work. There're a couple of fatuously precise formulae here.

An increasingly popular measure for health discussion is the RMR (resting metabolic rate) which has the great advantage of being practically measurable.


Bryn Mawr Reviews. Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews (BMCR) and The Medieval Review (TMR).

Bulletin de Methologie Sociologique. I've heard a rumor that this means `Bulletin of Sociological Methodology' and since I'm too lazy to look up all the words, I'm going to assume provisionally that that's correct. A ``quarterly scientific journal which publishes in both English and French. Each issue of the BMS contains research articles, extensive book and article reviews, as well as documentation and information on different meetings throughout the world. All research articles have abstracts in both English and French. Twice a year, in March and September issues, the BMS also publishes the Newsletter of Research Committee 33 (RC33) `Logic and Methodology'.''

Buried Mushroom Structure. Sounds like a sensible approach to fungiculture, but it's actually a shape of laser diode. Cf. BRS.

There's an old Yiddish curse that goes [in translation] ``May you grow like an onion -- with your head in the ground.''

It's probably bad form to scratch your head while puzzling this one out.

Bone-Marrow [cell] { Transfer | Transplant[ation] }.

BMT, B.-M.T.
Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit. Former private company that owned part of the New York City subway system. The name is still used informally to refer their lines. Cf. IND, IRT, NYCT.

Since the use of punctuation in initialisms has declined and can now seem old-fashioned, it is natural that the punctuated form (B.-M.T.) has come to be used exclusively for the original private company, in contradistinction to the BMT lines within the current subway system.

Bolsa Mexicana de Valores. The Mexican bourse. The word valores in this context can be values of commodities contracts and bonds, and not just stocks. `Securities' in the general sense.

Bureau of Motor Vehicles. That's what it's called in Indiana. You've got two months from the time you move to Indiana to register your vehicle and get a new driver's license. (In England -- a century ago, anyway -- births were supposed to be registered within 42 days.) Here are a few tips:
  1. You can take the driving exam on paper or by pushing buttons on a machine. The old paper exam is still based on the information in the driver's license brochure. The ``computer'' test? You're on your own.
  2. License branches are open late Thursday and closed Monday -- and most crowded on Tuesday.
  3. The light season is the last fifth of the year. If you can put off registering from the beginning of October to the end of October, it'll make an enormous difference. Even from the 18th to the 25th is a big difference.

(There is an exception to the closed-Monday rule: all full-service license branches are required by law to be open until 8pm the day before any election, and open early on election day, solely for the purpose of issuing driver's licenses and state identification cards.)

Bayerische Motoren Werke. Informally, BMW vehicles are often called ``beemers.'' Cf. Big Blue. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars belongs to BMW these days; the sale was completed in June 1998.

The BMW 507 is a legendary vehicle that you can find out about at many places on the web, such as BMW world. From the front it has a look that's a little bit like a Triumph. The picture below right is of a custom 1957 BMW 507, built by Pichon et Parat of Sens, France. [Click for a larger (360 KB) image.] I guess they couldn't have made it in Sedan, France. I should probably mention that the sedan chair and later the sedan (vehicle type) are not believed to have anything etymologically to do with the city of Sedan. Cf. coach.

[sexy, sexy car]

The car was for the personal use of Raymond Loewy, who designed the custom body. Loewy was a legendary (yes, more legends) industrial designer; if you can't see the bloodlines of the Avanti and even the Corvette in this picture, you're blind. Here's a rear view served by Loewy Design. (Their brief bio mentions some of his projects -- the Coca-Cola bottle, the original Air Force One for JFK, Lucky Strike, Greyhound Bus, the Pennsylvania S-1 Locomotive (see locomotives collection), the Exxon and Shell (not to mention BP) logos, NASA interiors for Skylab and the Space Shuttle, and of course the Avanti. But of course they can't cover the man's entire oevre briefly. The more extensive collection in the gallery doesn't even include the United Airlines plane paint scheme, introduced in the mid-fifties -- an important, as-usual fashion-setting commission.

In 1962 Loewy donated this car to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (LACM). It is now on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum (a part of the LACM founded in 1994).

(At the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, you can see a video about the designing of the Avanti. According to Loewy Design it's the only car ever to have been exhibited in the Louvre.)

Bitching and Moaning Witch. Shannen Doherty's nickname on the set of the movie Heathers. Pejorative. And allusive. One wonders whether the epithet inspired the TNT TV show Charmed.

Bicycle MotoCROSS. BMX began in the 1970's or so, as a pedal-powered children's version of cross-country motorcycling, or motocross. The bikes had 20-inch wheels. The design of mountain bikes, with 26-inch wheels, was a later development.

Background Noise.

Barnes and Noble. A publisher and a chain of superstores for books.


Biblische Notizen. `Biblical Notes.' Hard to believe there'd still be any. Oh, okay, it's subtitled Beiträge zur exegetischen Diskussion (`contributions to exegetical discussion'). A journal published in Bamberg from 1976 to 1985, in Munich since.

Birth Narrative. The BN's of Jesus occurring in the gospels of Luke and Matthew differ in a variety of details, some of them apparently minor: the name of Jesus's grandfather, the home town of J's parents, what they were doing in Bethlehem, etc. The existence of these disagreements (here and in the PN and resurrection story), alongside a large number of agreements with Matthew, is the principal motivation for positing a distinct Q document.

Border Node. Such a node typically has a nonstandard number of connections, and sometimes it's convenient to define the set of BN's in terms on the basis of that property.

Boron Nitride. The allotrope that is thermodynamically stable at room temperature is a hexagonally-symmetric planar material. Microscopically, it has the same structure as graphite, but with half of the carbons replaced by boron (B) and the other half by nitrogen (N). Chemically, this is understood in terms of the same scheme as graphite: bonds are well described by sp2 hybridization.

Boron nitride has a high-pressure allotrope, CBN, that is harder than the hexagonal-plane low-pressure-stable isotope, just as graphite has a harder high-pressure allotrope in diamond. Unlike graphite, however, hexagonal BN is already pretty hard. In abrasives applications, the low-pressure allotrope is sold as ``Norbide.''

Bridge Number.

(Domain name code for) Brunei Darussalam.

Bahrain News Agency.

Base-Neutralized Acid. As if anything else were up to the task.

An unwisely unutilized initialism for Bilge News Agency (sometimes shortened to ``Bilge''). It looks like reverse psychology, but Bilge is just a common Turkish proper noun. (Also apparently unused is BHA, for the original Turkish Bilge Haber ajansı.)

Location identifier for Nashville, Tennessee. Cockpit/control-tower communication often refers to this as ``Banana.''

Also, back when Braniff (was still in business and) had given all of its planes garish solid-color VW-beetle-like paint jobs, Braniff flights were referred to in control-tower communications as ``jelly beans.''

Block Numbering Area.

British North America. The BNA Act of 1867 was the act of British Parliament constituting the Dominion of Canada from the former provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick (with provision for the eventual admission into the union of other parts of British North America). Also called the ``Constitution Act, 1867.'' The comma and date are part of name. Gee, this stuff can get complicated; God save the Queen!

The same act created the provinces of Ontario and Quebec (that's the province that eventually was renamed Québec) out of the former Province of Canada, restoring the division of former Québec into the colonies of Upper and Lower Canada, respectively, that was implemented in 1791 and rescinded in 1841. I tell'ya.

Bureau of National Affairs, Inc.

Balance NAVE. An immersive virtual environment display for research into the rehabilitation of people suffering from balance disorders. Developed at the University of Pittsburgh. See Jacobson, et al., in VRST 2001 : Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology, pp. 103-109.

The connector type it refers to is clear, but the expansion is not. Could be Baby N-type Connector, or {Bayonet|Baby|British} Nav{al|y} Connector. Also Bayonet Neill-Concelman, after Paul Neill and Carl Concelman. Invented by Octavio Salati (an electrical engineering professor of the Moore School of Electrical Engineering of the University of Pennsylvania), if you must know. Bayonet refers to the fact that these connectors slide straight in, as opposed to TNC. [Are soldiers taught to give their bayonets a twist?]

People often speak redundantly and pleonastically of the ``BNC connector.'' We're gonna get the language police on your case.

A very common connector for 50-ohm coaxial microwave cable. Really the most common by far, but optimists deny it. Designed for operation to 11 GHz, not bad operation (VSWR less than 1.3) to 4 GHz. What do you expect from quick-disconnect system? You want performance, use a threaded connector like TNC, N-type, 7/16, triax...).

[The precise expansion of the BNC acronym is a much-disputed matter. Here is the unauthoritative straight poop, or scoop, or whatever: it does not stand for Berkeley Nucleonics Corp., not British Naval, not Banana Nutmeg Chocolate.]

Maybe: Bayonet Neill Concelman.

Berkeley Nucleonics Corporation. This has led to some confusion with the connector.

Bibiothèque nationale du Canada. French name of the National Library of Canada.

British National Corpus. A database of over 100 million words both spoken and written English, partly in digital formats.

Boron Neutron Capture Therapy. Isn't it cool how a normally functioning mind never reads ``Boron'' and thinks ``Sure, the intermediate boson that communicates the boring force.''

Bulk Negative Differential Conductivity.

Backus-Naur Form. Read RFC 822.

Bibliothèque national de France. Through its Gallica website, BnF is generously making a very large number of works available online. I hope that soon they will have these translated into a widely-used language such as English.

Batteries Not Included.

BareNaked Ladies. A rock group.

Brookhaven National Laboratory. In Upton, LI.

Bank Negara Malaysia. Malaysia's central bank.

British Nuclear Medicine Society.

British National (Overseas). Passport issued to Hong Kong residents. With this passport and many kilobucks, you have the right to settle in the democratic country of your choice. You can even do this without the passport -- it's that powerful. For more insight, you should have visited this site while it was still possible.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

British National Party. Currently a racist party of the right, founded in 1982. There have been two previous BNP's.

Business News Publishing.

Batch News ReCeive Via UUCP.

Binary Neutron Star system. A/k/a neutron star binaries. These are of special interest to researchers trying to detect gravitational waves because they are very compact, so they can get closer and spin faster than systems of comparable mass before they collapse together (usually, given the range of masses, into a black hole). Even with these factors, the existing experiments are expected to be able to detect only the last few minutes of inspiraling.

Barclay New Testament. A translation by William Barclay, an expert.

Barclay's Bank was giving American Express some competition in the traveler's check business. Whatever happened to them?

Burlington Northern and Santa Fe RailRoad (RR).

Broadband Network Termination.

Baseband National Television Standards Committee (NTSC).

Boltzmann-Nordheim-Vlasov. Nuclear dynamics model based on single-particle distribution-function description. See Bonasera, A., Gulminelli, F. and Molitoris, J., Phys. Rep. 243, 1, (1995).

Brave New World.

In Shakespeare's ``The Tempest,'' Miranda has a little speech in the first scene of Act V:

O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beautious mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in't!

(She has just met her future father-in-law.) A word is probably in order here about this play, since it was the obvious inspiration of such classics as Gilligan's Island and I Dream of Jeannie. Unfortunately, I'm too busy at this time to do justice to these classics. The only reason I'm putting this entry in at all is a novella by Aldous Huxley, who could trace his descent not just generally to the early hominids, but also specifically to Thomas H. Huxley (Canis darwiniensis, or ``Darwin's bulldog''). The book describes a dystopia of the twenty-sixth century -- a sex-obsessed, pill-popping, hedonistic society in which the process of human procreation has become highly technologized, and children don't know who their fathers are. Many children are born suffering to a greater or lesser degree from fetal alcohol syndrome, and this disability relegates them permanently to an underclass. Civilization, in other words, has finally been established on a rational basis. I don't know about you, but to me this sounds oddly familiar.

Anyway, as you may imagine, the BNW phrase enjoyed a vogue after Huxley's book was published in 1932. Archibald MacLeish published a sort of open letter to Thomas Jefferson, in the form of a poem entitled ``Brave New World.'' It basically took Americans to task for not struggling bravely to extend freedom. This was first published in the September 1946 issue of Atlantic Monthly. It's hard to be certain, from the vague contemporary references in the poem, what precise time frame is meant. It is just possible that it was written in the 1930's. From 1939 to 1944, MacLeish served as Librarian of Congress, and from 1944 to 1945 as Assistant Secretary of State; in that six-year period he claimed he wrote but one poem (this wasn't it), so this ``Brave New World'' might have been left over unpublished from before the war. But it doesn't seem to be.

The BNW phrase must have had a powerful resonance at war's end. A best-selling novel also published in 1946, B.F.'s Daughter, used the phrase also. (Page 154, line 9 of my copy; you should be able to find it.) See BF entry for more about this book.)

In some cases (like the two above) one cannot be certain whether the allusion is to Huxley or directly to the bard, or if the writer is pretending to just happen to be using brave in an archaic sense. In other cases, the Huxley connection seems obvious. In the negligible poem ``The Proposition,'' published in 1993, Sylvia Kantaris mentioned the BNW of condomless sex.

But I only wanted to point out that Huxley didn't single-handedly revive a phrase that had somehow sunk into complete obscurity: there were earlier examples. Not surprisingly, for example, the phrase occurs in the egregiously prolific Bulwer-Lytton's Orval (1869). (For a bit more about Bulwer-Lytton, see It was a dark and stormy night.) A most interesting use of the phrase is by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), who published a poem entitled ``The Gods of the Copybook Headings'' in 1919. The named gods apparently represent ignored wisdom, as it is encapsulated in proverbs like ``stick to the devil you know.'' The poem ends thus:

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man--
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began:--
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
[This poem was published a number of times and with slightly variant titles. It's possible that the original version had some final punctuation in the line that ends with begins, but there isn't in any of the versions I've seen, including that in Rudyard Kipling's Verse: Definitive Edition (Doubleday, 1940).]

Bank of New Zealand.

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