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[Football icon]

Field Goal. Three points.

Field Grade.

Fighter (aircraft) Group.

Finance Group.

Fine Grain.

Once, in a progress report that Sabine gave to the group meeting, she showed some graphs that led me to ask: ``what about that fine structure?'' At first she thought I was complementing her work.

Sabine is a French babe. There's a French magazine model who looks just like her. Maybe it's the same person, taking a break to do oxide CVD. Have you ever seen them together?

Waiting for our friends to arrive at the Coffee Plantation on Mill Avenue one day, I watched the eyes of the guy I was sitting with (Jay). I said, ``She's taken.''

Another time she joined our table at a peasant-style French restaurant (Suzanne had chosen it; I think she worked there once). As Sabine was about to sit next to me I said ``Sabine, you're so beautiful, why don't you sit across the table from me so I can see your face.'' She replied, ``don't worry, the smoke won't go in your direction.'' After lighting up she mostly held it under the table. When she exhaled I could admire her fine nape and jawline.

Standard social distance is closer in most countries that have a Romance tongue as the one national language. One day I had to explain to Sabine that I was uncomfortable when she stood only one foot away. All that time I guess she thought it was normal for men to lean over her like that. And I guess it was, at that.

Fiscal Guidance.

Floating Gate (q.v.).

Focus Gain. The gain of an antenna is a measure of the degree to which its power is focused, relative to an isotropic antenna.

ForeGround. It has become common among humanities and social science writers to use foreground as a verb. Ugly writing is required for tenure in these fields, at least at the better schools.

{ Frequency | Function } Generator. Typical waveforms: sine, square, triangle, ramp (linear sawtooth), TTL and CMOS pulse and step outputs.

Functional Grammar. According to the Functional Grammar Information System, FG is ``a grammatical formalism originally developed over 20 years ago at the University of Amsterdam by Simon Dik, and was originally described in his book Functional Grammar, in 1978.''

Fighter Ground Attack.

ForschungsGesellschaft für Angewandte Naturwissenschaften e.V.. `Research Establishment for Applied Science.'

Feeling Good About Yourself. Self-delusion.

Fiscal Guidance Category.

Flight Guidance & Control System.

Florida Gulf Coast University. In Florida.

Flue Gas Desulfurization.

Focus-Group Discussion.

Female Genital Mutilation.

Fermi's Golden Rule. Time-dependent perturbation theory result for transition rate in a quantum system. There are actually two Fermi Golden Rules...

``Number two'' is the standard one, appropriate when a nonzero matrix element of the perturbation in the Hamiltonian connects initial and final states. Essentially, the rate is then the (modulus) square of matrix element times the density of final states (energy density), times the famous factor of ``two pi over aitch-bar.''

``Number one'' applies when a transition is dominated by a two-step process involving an intermediate state. This is a second-order process; the squared matrix element is replaced by the square of the product of two matrix elements -- one connecting initial state to intermediate state, the other connecting intermediate and final states, divided by the energy difference between intermediate state and final state.

Fermi's Golden Rules got their name, and their numbering, from a 1950's book (transcripts of the notes of a summer-school nuclear physics course). He was apparently the first to call these formulae ``Golden rules'' in print, and since the number of things named after Fermi was perhaps not commensurate with his achievement, they came to be known as Fermi's Golden Rules. The numbering arises because he treated fission before scattering. The formulas were themselves well known, and had been derived almost immediately after Schrödinger proposed his famous equation. In the course notes, Fermi does not prove the formulas, but simply refers to Schiff's Quantum Mechanics textbook.

Fixed grep.


Familial Hypercholesterolemia. A genetic predisposition to very high blood cholesterol levels. Acts approximately like a dominant single-gene allele. Often kills men in their forties and women in their fifties, demonstrating the sexism of Mother Nature. Program to track down those at risk is called MED-PED, run by Internal Medicine Prof. Roger Williams of Un. of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Family Housing. Like, on-base.

Farrer Hypothesis. (Also Farrer-Goulder Hypothesis.) The hypothesis that Matthew used Mark and that Luke wrote his gospel mostly by cribbing from Matthew and Mark. Versions of the FH are argued in Sanders & Davies: Studying the Synoptic Gospels and in Mark Goodacre: The Case Against Q: Studies in Markan Priority and the Synoptic Problem (Trinity Press International, 2002).

Cf. the more widely accepted (by scholars) 2SH and also 3ST (both based on a hypothetical lost source Q).

Fire Hydrant. See fire hydrant entry.

Flight Hours.

Frequency Hopping. Same as FH/CDMA, q.v..

In 1942, screen siren Hedy Lamarr [using her married name Hedwig (Eva Maria) Kiesler Markey] and composer George Antheil patented (#2,292,387) a ``Secret Communication System,'' based on the use of coordinated rapid frequency hopping by transmitters and intended receivers as a way to avoid surveillance.

On 12 March 1997, the EFF honored Lamarr, 84; her son Anthony Loder accepted the prize on her behalf, and played an audiotaped thank you, the reclusive Lamarr's first public statement in decades.

Family History of Alcoholism.

Family Housing Administration. This FHA would have less work to do if there were less of the preceding FHA.

Fault Hazard Analysis.

Federal Highway Administration. The usual initialism, and the one favored by the US agency, is FHWA, q.v.

Federal Housing Administration.

Foreign Humanitarian Assistance.

Future Homemakers of America.

Considering that the wobblies and WCTU are still with us, one isn't surprised that Future Homemakers survived the widespread ideological victory of women's liberation. However, there've been some changes. In an InfoSeek search of the ten indexed pages at fhahero.org (the FHA domain), there were no occurrences of the words girl or girls (nor, for that matter, of other controversial words like adult, wom?n, or m?n).

Fair-Haired Boy. Generalization of a teacher's pet.


Foundation for Hellenic Culture. Promotes ancient and modern Greek culture and language education.

Frequency-Hopping - Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA). ``Frequency Hopping'' means that the code is embedded in the frequency domain, as opposed to DS/CDMA (``Direct Sequence'') which uses a code embedded in the time domain. Same as FH, q.v..

Frequency hopping has been very popular in military applications, both because it implements a kind of encryption and because it is hard to jam effectively. For civilian application, there's been much more work (in the late 80's and in the 90's) on direct sequence CDMA, for somewhat less clear reasons: The formal mathematical analysis of DS-CDMA is simpler than that of FH-CDMA; jamming issues are less important; and the difficulty of orthogonalizing FH-CDMA makes it hard to make efficient use of bandwidth.

Fairfax Hispanic Firefighters Association. Established in 2003, the FHFA is an NAHF affiliate ``dedicated to assist [sic] the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, the [sic] Local 2068, and the Progressive's [sic] Firefighters, Officers Association, Retired Firefighters Association, civilian and the volunteer system in the delivery of better programs, programs that reflect our growing and diverse workforce and community.'' It's charming that many of the oddities (quoted above or elsewhere in the document) appear to be authentic ``interference'' of Spanish grammar in English. For example, ``dedicated to assist'' is constructed parallel to the (correct) Spanish ``dedicado a ayudar.''

FWIW, Virginia's City of Fairfax is not a part of surrounding Fairfax County; the city and the county are separate jurisdictions. (It is typical in Virginia for there to be separate jurisdictions for cities and the counties they are ``in,'' but it is not so common for the county and city to share a name.) Many organizations operate within or are concerned with only one of the Fairfax jurisdictions and include ``Fairfax'' as part of their names, but do not indicate which jurisdiction they refer to.

Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Florida Housing Finance Agency.

Federal Housing Finance Board.

Fraunhofer Gesellschaft.

(US) Federal Home Loan Bank Board.

Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. ``Freddie Mac.'' Cf. FNMA (``Fannie Mae'').

For Him Magazine. The AAP pleonasm ``FHM magazine'' occurs on FHM's homepage, and very widely elsewhere.

There are British, French, and US versions. All the versions, just like other men's magazines, regularly have a woman on the cover. On the other hand, women's magazines regularly have a woman on the cover. So men's and women's magazine covers have achieved parity and equality of opportunity in the highly competitive modeling market. It's a good thing too, because if there were any sort of asymmetry or inequality of opportunity, it would be necessary to impose a judicial solution. (No, not quotas. Quotas are wrong. We'd just count the number of pictures. Then, in a way that did not affect anyone's legitimate rights or goals, we'd explain to everyone what they'd have to do to achieve balance and diversity, or else.)

Federal Home Mortgage Association (Pronounced, and also written, ``Fannie Mae''). Cf. GNMA, SLMA.

Fontes Historiae Nubiorum. A project begun in 1991 that aims to make ``available the textual sources--both literary and documentary--for the history of the Middle Nile Region between the eighth century BC and the sixth century AD. The texts are presented in their respective original languages (Old Egyptian, Demotic, Meroitic, Greek, Coptic and Latin) as well as in new English translations, and each is accompanied by an historical commentary. The translations are framed by philological introductions and notes intended to place the individual texts into their wider literary context and to substantiate the translators' interpretation of difficult passages. The commentary following the translations presents historical analyses and provides information about the historical context. Ample space has been given to bibliographical references.''

Publications of the project so far cost about 200 NOK per volume and have the general title Fontes Historiae Nubiorum: Textual Sources for the History of the Middle Nile Region between the Eighth Century BC and the Sixth Century AD. The most narrowly literal translation of the Latin expansion of FHN would be `sources of the history of the Nubians.'

Gladiator, a sword-and-sandals flick from 2000 starring Russell Crowe, had some scenes in North Africa with Berbers -- Mauretanians and Numidians. Pretty much everything except the sand was inaccurate, and the scholars who wailed and gnashed their teeth about this crime against their discipline suggested that the people who cobbled together the film didn't know the difference between a Numidian and a Nubian. So you needn't feel so bad if you didn't either.

Fetal Heart Rate.

Flint Hills Resources. ``Flint Hills Resources, LP is a Koch Industries, Inc. wholly owned subsidiary formed at the beginning of 2002 to take advantage of growth opportunities in the refining and chemicals business.''

Flint Hills Review. One issue each year, which is only one issue too many. A perfect-bound small magazine. ``The Editors'' write that they ``publish work with a particular interest in region, including regions of place, regions of ethnicity, regions of gender, and regions of memory. We welcome poetry, short fiction, nonfiction of literary quality, and art which can be successfully reproduced into black and white photography. FHR receives support from the Creative Writing Program at Emporia State University, located in the rolling green Flint Hills grasslands of Kansas.''

Issue Five (2000) was not too bad. It was clean bad: just bad enough to make me laugh without puking. Inch-deep auteurs with drearily commonplace insights (if any), and a literary style that soars from the ground to the very porch, quite pleased to think each other and themselves artists. Mediocrity would have been easy, or should have been. But if they can continue to maintain consistent submediocrity (I mean world-class submediocrity, not just submediocrity in regions of ethnicity gender memory place), that will be an almost worthwhile achievement.

A ragged line does not a poem make. I'm sure they figured, ``if Iowa can do this, why can't we?'' Might I suggest... lack of talent? Occasionally that can be a stumbling block. Alright, so the entire magazine is a waste, but look at it this way: how many refining and chemicals business people does the world really need?

French Historical Studies. ``[A] quarterly journal on the history on France and Francophone areas, and is sponsored by the Society for French Historical Studies [SFHS].'' Not to be confused with the journal French History.

Frequency Hopping (FH) Spread Spectrum (SS).

Fixed Head Star Tracker.

Fetal Heart Tones.


Foundation of the Hellenic World. The web site won a ``Best of Europe'' award from Europe Online, but I suggest that after you click to load, you xlock the screen and go for a leisurely stroll. The DC mirror is broken worse than down, the Dartmouth mirror won't load an english version. Sheesh.

Federal HighWay Administration. An agency of the US Department of Transportation (DOT).

As I was cleaning out the garage, I came across a March 1974 Final Report entitled ``Coordination of Urban Development and the Planning and Development of Transportation Facilities,'' prepared by Edward H. Holmes for the FHWA. There's a loose leaf inside that serves as a sort of foreword, an FHWA bulletin from Federal Highway Administrator Norbert T. Tiemann, dated July 22, 1974. It explains that Holmes had been Associate Administrator for Planning, FHWA, and was retained by the International Road Federation, which in turn had contracted by the FHWA for the study. (It all seems somewhat incestuous, but it's about the way things have always worked.)

No, that's not all I want to say about that. We're under construction, remember? Like the highways.

(Domain code for) Finland. This page lists national homepages for Finland. There's an English <--> Finnish Dictionary online. If your knowledge of Finnish is as vanishingly small as mine, you might as well use the Estonian dictionary (see .ee), which isn't as busy. Given the political history of Finland, and the significant Swedish minority there, a link that might be useful is a Swedish-Finnish ``Lexikon.'' (Swedish-oriented; comes with examples and information mostly in Swedish.)

Rec.Travel offers some links.

Finnish webpages often have the slightly brownish yellow #FFCC00 background color (<BODY BGCOLOR="#FFCC00">). Hmmm. Seems to be a historical thing now.

Here's the Finnish page of an X.500 directory, and here's a nice geographical map of web servers.

EDUFI is a good first place to look for general information about education in Finland.

Here's the page of the Finnish Tourist Board. The board maintains a useful page of links for country information.

For Instance. Not systematically distinguished, semantically, from the more common e.g.

Franciscans International. A UN-affiliated NGO. No, I don't know how you work a deal like that. I think the UN is a bit like the late Hapsburg Empire -- a sick Prison-house of Nations, composed of various wildly inequivalent components. Or was that the Russian Empire? Whatever.

This other entry may have a bit more on Franciscans.

Fuel Injection. Not as sexy as EFI.

Federación Internacional de Archivos de Filmes. Spanish, `International Federation of Film Archives.' Fédération Internationale des Archives du Film -- French same. Founded in Paris in 1938. ``FIAF'' also refers to a set of rules for describing archival moving image materials, developed for an international audience and published in 1991. I won't venture to guess how successful these rules were, but they're out of print as of 2003.

Forum on Industrial and Applied Physics (of the APS). They really need to think up some SIG called ETHID. (See FIAPF if you don't see why.)

Fédération Internationale des Associations de Producteurs de Films. `International Federation of Film Producers' Associations.'

I've always felt that I ought to say something here about Édith Piaf. She was a French singer and an actress (on both stage and screen). Born Édith Giovanna Gassion in Paris, Dec. 19, 1915, she was abandoned by her mother and raised by her paternal grandmother in Bernay, a village in Normandy. (Now that I've actually looked it up, I might as well say that it's in the department of Upper Normandy.) Her father was an acrobat. Let me interject informatively and briefly here that careful scientific research studies would probably show that acrobats are not very down-to-earth people, not people with their feet planted firmly on the ground, and probably their lives often seem to be spinning in the air. Edith's mother was an Italian café singer. (You'll have to parse that yourself. Hint: she didn't sing Italian cafés.) When Edith was still a child, her father began taking her along on tour. Well okay, now I've said something. I'm glad that's done, because it was holding up a bunch of other updates on this page.

A decree. From the Latin word fiat meaning `let it be done.' Fiat is the verb fieri in the jussive mood. The jussive mood is used to express anything from a hope to a command, the precise sense to be inferred (or not) from logic and context. The jussive is also called the ``hortatory subjunctive.'' It seems appropriate for a word with the meaning of the noun `decree.' The English language seems to have a particular thirst for foreign loans to express this idea. Another example is ukase, from Turkish.

Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino, `Italian Automobile Manufacturing, Turin.'

Back-constructed expansion: Fix It Again, Tony.

[wicker dash and seats; shabby interior finish and poor radio integration]

The picture above is of a 1970 FIAT 850 called the Shellette, photographed at the Petersen. [Click for a larger (490 KB) image.]

Now you can never truly say you never knew there were cars with standard wicker interior, or a zero-door FIAT. In this other view (434 KB), it appears that the car may have some anchors for a ragtop, but this was a ``beach car,'' so when it rained I imagine you didn't drive around in it, and maybe parked it under a beach umbrella.

Also in the 1970's, a wicker customization was performed against a Ferrari 365 GTC/4. Fortunately, there doesn't appear to be any graphic online record of this atrocity.

Field Information Agency, Technical. I don't know much about this, but they published some review volumes. Cribbing from the Physical Chemistry volume (1948), I reproduce here bits of the preface that must have been similar in all of the volumes:
Military government of the British, French, and US Zones of Germany by means of their respective FIATs ... present this volume of the <<FIAT Review of German Science>> in the hope that it will assist in informing international science of research done in Germany through the war years. It is believed that this and its companion volumes will present a complete and concise account [``concise'' you can believe: 270pp. for P-Chem] of the investigations and advances of a fundamental scientific nature made by German scientists in the fields of biology, chemistry mathematics, medicine, physics and sciences of the earth during the period May 1939 to May 1946.

The volume consists of new purpose-written overviews in German. They give you an idea of who did what, but not what they found.

Focused Ion Beam[s]. Good for ion-implantation and for creating isolation by ion-beam-induced damage (with some inert ion like Ar). Has the advantage of being a maskless process: ion beam exposure pattern is programmed into beam scan.

Has been used to define nanoelectronic devices. Here's Hughes's two bits.

A harmless little lie.

fiber, fibre
Denis P. Burkitt, a British missionary surgeon, noticed in the late 1960's that East Africans who ate a high fiber diet had a low incidence of colon cancer, intestinal disorders, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and other ailments common to people in Western cultures. This was not exactly what you'd call a controlled study. It's a ``clinical observation'' accompanied by a crude speculation. He published these in ``Related disease -- related cause,'' Lancet, vol. 2 (1969) pp. 1229-31.

Physicians don't all agree exactly on what fiber is or what it really is good for after all, but they agree that you aren't eating enough of it. Eat more, eat a lot of it, eat until you choke. And lose weight.

Okay now, seriously: I mean what I just wrote.

``Fiber'' is a term for more-or-less indigestible organic matter in food. Originally, this was understood strictly -- cellulose, the stuff of cell walls in plants, which humans do not digest. (Cellulose is a glucose polymer with a kind of cross-link we haven't the enzymes to lyse.) However, some organic matter other than cellulose, gummy and woody substances, are sufficiently fermented by microrganisms in the gut that they are to some degree absorbed.

FluoroIodoCarbon. A heavier halogen than in CFC's.

Federal Insurance Contributions Act. The Social Security act.

French, Italian, and Comparative Literature. Created during 1997, the year of great department mergers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Would CLIF have been any better? Maybe they're hoping the administration will change its mind and split them up again.

fiction face-off
follow this link to 80-column version if text below is mush
Contestants Advantage to...
Bazooka Joe Road Trip (Comic #35 of 75) Marcel Proust Remembrance of Things Past
Duration of entertainment 3 min. (incl. refreshment break) over 1 hr. Marcel
Portability compact, wt. 5 grams (incl. gum) varies (generally exceeds 5 grams) Joe
Odor aroma of fresh pink original-flavor bubble gum crumb of madeleine soaked in decoction of lime flowers Kiss your sister
Illustrated? generously sparsely Joe
Binding, etc. wax on paper occasionally inadequate to prevent
work from sticking to wrapper and tearing
modern editions come with
pages already separated
Tiebreaker: cachet
(point of origin)
Duryea, Pennsylvania Europe Marcel wins.

(International) Federation for Information and Documentation. In French, Fédération Internationale d'Information et de Documentation.

They say that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Think about it. Think eye dialect.

Flame-Ionization Detector.

Free Induction Decay. Pacific Lutheran University would appreciate an acknowledgement if you use the NMR FID data developed there and offered for free download in various formats.

Fédération Internationale des Échecs. `International Chess Federation.'

Latin, `on the authority of.' Used to indicate dependence on written or published testimony, as opposed to teste -- oral testimony.

Spanish: `noodle[s].' It looks like a strange word because it is a strange word. It is derived from the Mozarabic romance verb fidear, meaning `to grow.' That is a loan from the synonymous Arabic verb fad (imperative fid). The form fideo, meaning `I grow,' was presumably applied to noodles because they expand on cooking. That noun spread to the three main Iberian romance languages and to Occitan, Francoprovencal, Italian, and Romansch dialects. Today the only Romance language that preserves the verb seems to be Ladino (Judeo-Spanish).

Fédération indépendante et démocratique lycéenne. French `Independent and Democratic Schools Federation.'

Fault-Induced Document (retrieval) Officer.

FlIght Dynamics Officer. A responsibility at NASA's Space Flight Center at Houston.

Frequency, Intensity, Duration, and Offensiveness. Nuisance factors.

Latin, `I trust, I have confidence in.' This is one sense of the expression `I am faithful,' but the latter English phrase is now commonly understood to mean not only that one has faith but that one fulfills obligations imposed by that faith. Fido was once a popular dog name, and I wonder to what extent the confusion of related meanings contributed to its popularity. The first vowel in the Latin word was pronounced like a long-e in English; the dog's name is pronounced with a long-i.

Federal Information Exchange.

Fund for the Improvement of Education. Part of title X of the ESEA.

Fédération de l'Industrie Européenne de la Construction. (`European Construction Industry Federation')


Fédération Internationale des Associations d'Études Classiques. `International Federation of Societies of Classical Studies.' Founded on September 28-29, 1949, at Paris. It's been holding a conference every five years since then. The next one as of this writing is the FIEC-Kongress 24.-29. August 2009 - Berlin.

In physics, a field is a physical quantity of some sort that takes a value at every point in some kind of space. The electric field is a vector-valued field, defined over the three-dimensional space called space. Temperature, when it can be defined, is a scalar field, etc.

From the mathematical point of view, what physicists call a field is usually some kind of function. Note that a ``vector-valued field'' is not a vector field. A physicist's ``vector[-valued] field'' is a mathematician's mapping from a metric space into a linear space. Usually the metric space is pretty trivial too. A vector is an element in a linear space or vector space (different names preferred in different professional, um, fields).

By convention, wavefunctions in ordinary quantum mechanics are not called fields. The word ``field'' is applied in quantum mechanics only when the argument of the wavefunction becomes a field. The name ``quantum field theory'' (QFT) is reserved for these ``second-quantized'' systems.

At the risk of grossly distorting the mathematics, let me try to be more concrete. Consider an elementary particle, like an electron or other fermion. Ordinary quantum mechanics of a single particle is formulated in terms of a simple enough variable -- particle position, say. In classical mechanics, that position is the unique location of the particle. In ordinary quantum mechanics, it so happens that a wave function is defined simultaneously for all possible values of the position variable, describing the probability of finding the particle at each point. In quantum field theory, things again are generalized in an infinite way. The simplest way to visualize this is that QFT for particles like electrons in principle describes an infinite number of particles. There must be a wave amplitude for no particles, a wave function of one particle, a wave function of two arguments that describes the probability distribution for two particles, etc.

field oxide
Less frequently called thickox. Thick oxide, usually grown with steam, used to isolate different devices (dielectric isolation), and to prevent interconnects from acting as unintended MOS gates on different parts of the circuit. Distinguished from thinox (q.v.) which is more often grown by dry air oxidation. The modifier field refers to the fact that the oxide is intended to abate not merely conduction between devices, but also electric field effects (for AC alone, this can be expressed as ``not just charge current but also the displacement current'').

Fellow of the Illuminating Engineering Society.

Fédération Internationale de Football Association. In the name, Association is an adjective modifying Football. `Association Football' is the full name of the game Americans call Soccer. The American name is supposed to be a shortening of asSOCiation.

Related organizations: CAF (Africa), FFF (France), RFEF (Spain).

Oh sure, there are more boring games than soccer, but no game is more intensely boring.

In August 2007, FIFA vice-president Jack Warner said he would block an English bid to host the 2018 World Cup. He said, ``Nobody in Europe likes England. England invented the sport but has never made any impact on world football.'' What a diplomat.

First ISLSCP Field Experiment. ISLSCP is the International Satellite Land Surface Climatology Project.

First In, First Out. Like a bucket brigade or a pipe (software or plumbing). Term is used both in electronics (for data buffer) and economics for an accounting practice (e.g., for how to amortize installed plant, etc.).

Fan-In, Fan-Out. A conservation law for a safe sports stadium. Also, a pair of numbers indicating the number of logic levels that are inputs for a logic gate, followed by the number of logic gate inputs that the same gate will drive.

Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique. `International Gymnastics Federation.'

Focus Information Group. Perhaps the acronym is one reason they became Focus Publishing. They publish and distribute ``texts for the educational market, primarily at the college level, in Classical and Modern Languages, including Latin, Greek, Russian, German, French, and Spanish. [They] also distribute in North America for Duckworth Publishing, which publishes texts ranging from Belly Dancing and Archaeology to Classical and Modern languages.

Forth Interest Group. ``Forth'' here is the name of a programming language. It's one of those reverse-Polish stackish things, so it's really more Back than Forth. In fact, according to the homepage, ``[a]lthough FIG as an organization has dissolved, this website will continue to reflect the on-going interest in Forth.'' (Which continues as of 2010, apparently. For example, in 2010, the annual EuroForth Conference is scheduled for Hamburg.)

Senator Exon If I Know.


La Feria International del Libro de Guadalajara. The annual `Guadalajara International Book Fair.' The bilingual conference site is fairly information-rich.


A file is a column of eight squares on a chessboard, ``vertical'' in the standard representation that shows the original positions of the white pieces along the bottom of the board -- viewed from high above the white side. There are two standard ways of describing files, in the two standard schemes for describing traffic on a chessboard.

In the descriptive notation, commonly used only in English-speaking and Latin countries, files are labeled by the pieces originally occupying them. From left to right, viewing from the white side: Queen's Rook (QR), Queen's Knight (QN or QKt), Queen's Bishop (QB), Queen (Q), King (K), King's Bishop (KB), King's Knight (KN or KKt), King's Rook (KR). In the algebraic notation, the same files are labeled a through h.

In record play in the descriptive notation, one typically uses the shortest unambiguous description, such as BxP, if it is clear enough which Bishop captures which pawn, adding a file designation or two if needed, as in BxKtP to indicate that a pawn in a Knight's file is captured, or BxKKtP to specify the King's Knight file, if it isn't obvious. Or maybe it would be easier to specify the file of the Bishop here. For moves that are not captures, one gives the piece moved, followed by a full description of the square: P-K4 means a pawn is moved to the fourth position in the King's file. The position number, or row in the usual configuration, is called the rank. In the descriptive scheme, the rank is counted from the side corresponding to the piece, so a white move P-K4 means that a white pawn is in the fifth rank of the King's file, from the black point of view.

You get the idea.

The algebraic notations aren't nearly so interesting, and they number ranks consistently from the white side.

filed for future study
Why wait to lose it? Discard now.

filename extensions
Here are some links to lists and search tools to help you resolve the meaning of filename extensions:

FInnish (.fi) Mark. Check the currency converter entry.

Fondo Internacional Monetario. Spanish: `IMF.'

Flexible Interface Network.

FINancial Crimes Enforcement Network. I don't think it's a protection racket. It's the US government's FIU.

Fine Art
A way of communicating what cannot be expressed in words, because if it were expressed in words it would sound stupid.

fine words
A butter that doesn't work on parsnips.

FINance MINister.

Finnbogadóttir, Vigdis
President of Iceland from 1980. First democratically elected woman head of state of any country. She beat out Indira and Golda on technicalities, I guess. Probably the technicality that they were heads of government -- Prime Ministers (PM's) -- of their respective countries.

Iceland is a small country where everyone knows everybody else (or maybe everybody knows everyone else, I'm not sure which), so everybody (let's say that's it) is known by first name only. Or rather, last names are not used. Finnbogadóttir is `daughter-of-Finnboga' or something like that. Patronymics are, of course, a common source of family names in European languages (the -son ending in English corresponds to the -sohn ending in German and the -sen ending in Swedish; -s in English and Mac-, O' prefixes in Gaelic languages perform the same function.)

In many Slavic languages, the family-name ending is declined to indicate family relationship. Thus, a descendant of Peter would have the family name Petrov, his unmarried daughter the last name Petrovna, and his wife Petrova. (There are conventional and euphonic variances in the endings used, but the pattern is pretty easy to recognize.) There is an additional layer of patronymics in Russian: it is very common to refer to people not by their given names or by their family names, but by a real patronymic. Thus, for example, since my father's name was Oscar, I would be called Oskavitch.

In case you forgot, this is the Iceland entry. In Iceland, the absence of last names seems to have put a premium on good genealogy. Together with the country's isolation, it has made Iceland an attractive place for really big human genetics research.

During the little Ice Age, Iceland was almost evacuated. Hey wait a second -- this isn't the Iceland entry. This is!

Financial INdustry Regulatory Authority. ``[T]he largest non-governmental regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States.'' They seem to have some difficulty with the concept of a nonrestrictive clause, or with commas. FINRA is the new name, since 2007, of the old NASD.

NASD created NASDAQ in 1971, but sold it off in 2000-2001. Today the NASDAQ is just regulated by FINRA.

Frente Indígena de Organizaciones Binacionales. It's the kind of front that uses words like ``struggle,'' ``communiqués,'' and ``defense of the human rights with justice and gender equity at the binational level.'' The front's webpages translate this as `Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations,' though obviously the Spanish means `Indigenous Front of Binational Organizations.' You know, anger can be invigorating, but it can also blunt your mental acuity.

``FIOB is a community-based organization and a coalition of indigenous organizations, communities, and individuals settled in Oaxaca, Baja California and in the State of California in the United States. This organization was founded on October 5, 1991 in Los Angeles, California. its mission and vision are the following.'' Preceding this are the vision and mission. The Spanish-language part of the FIOB website is slightly less confused. To be slightly fair, however, it appears that for many in FIOB, neither Spanish nor English is a first language (see this page on indigenous-language interpreters).

Facility Interface Processor.

Factory Information Protocol.

Federal Information Processing.

Fuel Injection Pump.

Federal Information Processing Standard.

First nondestructive Interactive Partition Splitting. Freeware from Arno Schäfer.

Fund for the Improvement of PostSecondary Education. FIPSE awards relative small grants as `venture capital,' on a competitive basis, to encourage development of projects and ideas that it considers innovative. In 1998, the program was porcined by Congress. See a report of the cancellation of the 1998-9 competition and of the patch-up job done to distribute the half of the funds that was not earmarked as pork.

Far InfraRed.

Finite Impulse Response. (Implies nonrecursive response.)

Forth Individuals' Recursive Environment, or some'at like that. An email list. To subscribe, email fire-l@artopro.mlnet.com with the subject line SUBSCRIBE.

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Inc.

fire bottle
Electron tube.

fire cow
Same as fire bottle. Think of the pins at the bottom, which go into a tube socket; now think of a cow's udder. (FYI, there are some vacuum tubes with four pins.)

fire dog
You probably think this is yet another synonym for vacuum tube or electron tube, or valve (chiefly British), fire bottle or fire cow. You're wrong, okay? A fire dog is an andiron. A lot you know about electronics.

Sparky, a Dalmatian. Official spokesdog of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). [There's another Sparky who is ``the official spokesdog for GOcala.com'' (whatever that is).]

TV Acres promotes fire safety with an entire pack of firedogs. They're named ``Chuck, Francis, Larry, and Sam.'' It seemed to me that these are unusual names for dogs, although it's reasonable that Chuck should be top dog. It turns out that the names were chosen so their initials would match those of the Children's Fire and Life Safety Project. But why not ``Corky, Fido, Lady, and Scout,'' then?

This pop-up-littered site lists 2000 dog names in alphabetical order. It turns out that on the matter of dog names, as on many other matters, I am woefully behind the times. According to an article in the San Francisco Examiner, Columbus Day 1997, the trend is to give dogs human names.

Of 12,706 dogs registered in San Francisco, 137 are named Max; there is only one Fido. Max is also top dog in Marin.

And of the 10 most popular dog names in San Francisco, seven are suitable for humans; in Marin, all but one are. Molly, Jake, Lucy and Sam are big in both counties.

Of course, there is a sampling problem: most dogs are not registered. This is even supposed to be the case in regulation-loving California. Carl Friedman, director of San Francisco Animal Care and Control, estimated the total number of dogs in the county at about 75,000 to 85,000. His estimate was based on a national average of 25 to 30 percent of households having dogs.

Nevertheless, in 1996, the dog-food manufacturer Kal Kan conducted a survey of several hundred dog owners in New York and Los Angeles, and also found that people names were in vogue and that the most frequent name is Max (nudge). In 2004, Brazilian Congressman Reinaldo Santos e Silva introduced a bill to forbid the use of human names for pets. He didn't expect the bill to pass. I've got an idea -- forbid the use of human names for people! People will use traditional dog and cat names, and there won't be any confusion.

A sign of the times: In February 2004, the first family lost a long-time pet when their English springer spaniel died at the age of 15. She was named Spot. Some time before Christmas, a new puppy (born October 28) will enter the presidential household: Miss Beazley. Miss Beazley is named for the character Uncle Beazley, a dinosaur in Oliver Butterworth's children's book, The Enormous Egg. Spot was born to Millie in the White House during the Bush #41 administration (see Nop's Trials entry. Miss Beazley is half-niece to the current first dog, which has the name Barney. Barney was second dog in the Bush #43 White House until Spot died. It reminds me of John Nance Garner, vice president during Franklin Roosevelt's first two terms, who remarked in 1936 that ``the vice-presidency isn't worth a pitcher of warm piss.'' (See Veep for the more famous version of that remark.) FDR's dog, a black Scottish terrier, was named Fala. During his final presidential campaign in 1944, Roosevelt ordered a destroyer to turn around and pick Fala up after he was left behind on a trip to the Aleutian Islands.

You have to wonder if there isn't a children's-dinosaur connection. A purple dinosaur character named Barney is the star of a children's TV show. The White House Barney is black with a white spot on his neck, and was a gift from Christine Todd Whitman, former New Jersey governor and first head of the EPA in Dubya's first administration. (Dubya -- that sounds like a dog's name!) Barney is the offspring of Whitman's Scottish terrier Coors, named after the beer.

FDR's last vice president and successor as president was Harry Truman. He famously advised, ``if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.''

fire grenade
A fire extinguisher in the form of a fragile glass bottle filled with a fluid intended to be thrown where one wanted to douse flames. Sort of like a Molotov-cocktail turncoat. History here.

fire hazard
In the debate on private fire-arm regulation, the antiregulation camp often points out that ``Guns don't kill people -- people using guns improperly kill people!'' But then, they also say that ``Guns don't kill people -- bullets kill people.'' But really, bullets don't kill people -- the inertia and the material resistance of people's bodies, slowing down the bullets, causes an equal and opposite force to be exerted by the bullet, which is just obeying the law (Newton's third law), and this reaction force kills people. You know: falling isn't dangerous -- landing hard is. Just so with firearms, or more precisely bullets: the body gets in the way of the law-abiding bullet, and effectively commits suicide.

Seneca the Younger began a similar analysis in a letter to Lucilius (see Epistulae Morales, Liber XI-XIII [the divisions between these books are not known], epistula lxxxvii) but he did not carry it as far. He wrote:

... quemadmodum gladius neminem occidit, occidentis telum est.
[Loosely: `by no means does a sword ever kill anyone; it is the killer's tool.']

Actually, when I was starting to write this entry, I was thinking of writing about combustion dangers, but I got sidetracked by the need to provide background information. On second thought, however, I realize that bullets are a kind of fire hazard too.

fire hazard
Okay then, let's try again: a fire hazard is a situation or object that has an elevated probability of causing a fire. If we examine this idea closely, however, we recognize a deep dilemma: how can a thing in se be a cause? Can we really say that gasoline is a cause of fire? Not directly, of course: gasoline vapor explodes, but gasoline does not burn. You can extinguish a burning ember by dunking it quickly in gasoline, if you can keep from exploding the vapor. (This does not always work. DO NOT try this at home!)

Okay, bad example. But can you say that kerosene (which does burn) is ever a cause of fire? Of course, you can say what you please. What I mean is: Is kerosene ever a ``cause'' of fire?

I think not: kerosene is just a fuel. I mean heck: oxygen is just as necessary for fire as the fuel is. Are we going to say that oxygen causes fires? Nah, let's not go there. It's the fact of fuel and air coming together under certain conditions that leads to fire. Now then, what causes that? Others have reasoned along similar lines. For example, that flunky for the Forest Service, Smokey the Bear, has been saying for years, ``Only you can prevent forest fires.'' I was never sure if he meant me personally. If he did, he ought to just have called me on the phone, instead of taking out a bunch of expensive broadcast ads. Did he think he could shame me into action by public humiliation? My lethargy is made of firmer stuff than that! (Actually, it's made of 100% inertia; it takes full advantage of Einstein's strong principle of equivalence.)

Well, as it turned out, fire fighters put out some of the ones that were not prevented by whoever was supposed to prevent them, and the rest burned themselves out. But the point here, if there be one, is that Smokey didn't claim that water or low temperatures or dry ice dust could prevent fires, only I (or you; somebody, anyway). Smokey appeared to reject firmly the notion of inanimate objects as causative, and seemed to embrace the notion that causation is coextensive with thinking (or unthinking) agency. This teleological point of view identifies Aristotle's final cause as the cause.

When I took Philosophy I as an undergraduate, I would snigger at Aristotle for being so confused that he could think of the names of things or the material constitution of things as ``causes'' (formal cause and material cause, respectively). Now, thanks to remedial education administered by the Stammtisch Beau Fleuve (SBF), I have learned that the joke has been on me all along. [Oh yeah, thanks a lot, sure.] I see your hundred years of solitude, and I raise you twenty-five centuries of laughing out of the wrong side of your face.

fire hazard
Somehow I start out with good intentions, but I always seem to get sidetracked. I'm trying to say something useful here about fire hazard. Get a smoke detector, you'll save more than its price on your homeowners insurance.

fire hydrant
Dog urinal. For more on dogs and fire, see fire dog.

fire hydrant
There're two kinds (or ``flavors,'' as fire physicists would probably say): dry barrel and wet barrel. The barrel is the body of the hydrant. In the dry-barrel hyrants, there's a valve with a long stem that extends from the bottom of the barrel to an external spigot that can be turned. The valve itself is below the frost line, so with the valve closed there's no water in the barrel to freeze in the winter. In warmer areas, and in cold areas governed by people who like to take risks, wet-barrel hydrants are used, which have valves just at the outlets and are thus simpler and cheaper.

fire oxen
Traditional Chinese warfare made heavy use of fire and the threat of fire. One way to get fire into the enemy camp was with what we call fire oxen. What I gather from this academic site (with illustration) is that a fire ox was an ox with burning hemp lashed to its tail. I suppose the ox's natural reaction would be to run away from its tail. It seems to me that it would be important to somehow get it to run away toward the enemy camp and not to circle around. Perhaps stampeding them would help, but would oxen willingly stampeded behind oxen that were themselves on fire? This would make a fun research project. Apparently the oxen were equipped with fixed pikes to make them tricky to stop, or maybe just likelier to get stuck on a fortification. Who would try to stop an ox from the front?

FIR filter
Finite-Impulse-Response FILTER.

firm and toned
Well okay, maybe with some extra rolls of fat, but firm and toned underneath it all. (Don't tell me that beauty is only skin deep.) Personals-ad self-description terminology.

Federal Information Resource Management Regulation. Of the General Services Administration (GSA).

Federal Internet Requirements Panel.

Financial Institutions Reform Recovery and Enforcement Act. A law passed in 1989. Details at this RTC entry

Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams. Computer security dicks. See CERT for other relevant organizations.

Foundation for Individual Responsibility and Social Trust. Sounds pretty subversive to me!

First-Down Moses
On the west side of Hesburgh Library, on the campus of the University of Notre Dame du Lac (yeah, the Notre Dame in Indiana), there's a statue of Moses in a classic pose, complete with a small pair of horns coming out of his head. He holds two tablets of the law with his left hand against his right upper leg; his face is turned left, to the south, where the football temple stands. His right arm is raised to the west, and his index finger points up and forward, indicating a first down. He's about three times life size. He and Touchdown Jesus may not be nimble, but they'd make a much more formidable offensive front line than the team has now.

The adjective first-generation in a phrase like ``first-generation American'' has two different meanings. A first-generation national is typically defined as either an immigrant to the nation, or the child of immigrants to a nation. Some speakers favor one meaning, some favor the other, and probably most recognize both meanings as part of usage.

A second-generation national is either the child or the grandchild of immigrants. A third-generation national is the child of second-generation parents, and so forth. It not clear, and fortunately not important, how to apply such definitions when people of different immigrant ``generations'' have children together. Another difficulty in sharpening the definition is that more than one or two generations may emigrate, possibly at different times. To take me, for example: I emigrated to the US as a child with my parents, so I am a first-generation American on my own account, and a second-generation American as the child of my immigrant, first-generation-American parents. When we arrived in this country, my two living grandparents and my one living great grandmother had already immigrated to the US, making me a third- and fourth-generation American by some definitions.

Issei, Nisei, and Sansei are first-, second-, and third-generation Japanese-Americans, respectively. Related entries: FOB, ABC, ABCD, CBC.

Walt Whitman famously wrote in ``Song Of Myself'' (51):

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

``Song of Myself'' was originally published without a separate title in the first edition (1855) of Leaves Of Grass. It only got its current title in the third edition (1882). In the second edition, it was called ``Poem Of Walt Whitman, An American.'' In the poem he asserts that he is not an nth-generation American for values of n less than or equal to, uh, 3 or 4, but he expressed it more precisely. He wrote ``[b]orn here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same.''

One Joe Johnson created and hosts a weekly, hour-long syndicated radio show called Beatle Brunch. A station local to me airs it on Sunday mornings, starting at the ungodly and inappropriately (for Sunday and brunch) early hour of 8am, so it may have been airing for 20 years before I first heard it on January 20, 2012, when the theme was something about the next generation of Beatles fans. Joe Johnson described himself as a ``first-generation Beatles fan,'' and I wondered what that meant. As it happens, the Beatle Brunch website's ``About Us'' page is refreshingly informative, and explains that Joe ``was born near Kennedy Airport in New York, a half dozen years before The Beatles landed in America for the first time. He and his family moved to South Florida to witness the magic of the Fab Four on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, and remembers the 8 days (a week) they spent in Miami.''

First Nation
A Canadian term corresponding to the US term ``tribe.'' Or is that no longer PC?

First Nations
A Canadian term corresponding to the US term ``Native American.''

A service from OCLC that finds books, articles, films, computer software, and other informationish stuff. You can order or do an ILL directly through them too. From UB, link this way.

first steps towards peace
  1. Since the previous round.
  2. Noticeable increase in violence.
  3. First noticeable increase in violence since the previous round.

first-time advertiser
Personals-ad virgin. A phrase meaning: ``Even though you are such a loser that you repeatedly dumpster-dive the personals ads for other people's discarded lovers, I want you to understand that I am a high-quality, world-class individual who doesn't read the personals, Monday, Wednesday and Friday on the second-to-last page of section C. I have no need to advertise, really, but I have such a busy, success-oriented lifestyle that I've decided to announce this romance opportunity here in order to save time. Of course, I am very desirable, attractive, sophisticated, intellegent and et cetera, so one ad will be enough. Or should have been. The fact is, I am in a position to be highly selective, so I have continued to list this advertisement for a few issues. (Forty-six, actually, since I shortened the looking-for characteristics list.) The person who has already responded did not meet my high standards. If you have already replied to this ad, this means you. You must be `financially secure.' Call me when you get a job.''

Spanish física, `physics.' The same word also means `[female] physicist,' the female version of físico. These two words for physicist are also the two forms of the adjective `physical.' All of this parallels the semantics of químico (see quím.). Neither gender of the term has the sense of the English noun (i.e., substantive) physical in the sense of `physical exam.' To express that one should use an expression like examen médico.

Foundation for Infinite Survival. Not as crazy as they sound: they seem to be taking the incremental approach for now.

Front Islamique du Salut. Sounds a bit like a Muslim-run HMO, but it's actually the French name of an Algerian Islamist political party, founded in 1989. The name is usually rendered `Islamic Salvation Front' in English. The party won a majority of the seats contested in local elections in 1990, and a plurality of votes (along with a majority of seats) in the first round of National Assembly elections in 1991. The military then decided that the previously scheduled second stage should be delayed indefinitely. The FIS and other groups went underground and waged a terror campaign against a variety of human targets. This should have given us early warning of what to expect with a policy of Middle East democratization.

Our Algeria links are at the entry for its domain code .dz. See also Argelia, what the hey.

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. Provides guidelines for the gathering of forint by the CIA, FBI, NSA, and a few other US government organizations.

FInancing Small Contractors. Part of the Regional Alliance of Small Contractors run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Fischer Scientific
Has an online catalog.

A light-colored rectangular slab of protein and other nutrients. See also fisk.

The legality of fishing with dynamite and cyanide (or just one of those) is and by right ought to be a local matter. For example, in 1849, Greene County of Indiana made it illegal to poison fish. (You could still kill them, though.) Hmmm, in 1871, the state of Indiana passed a law that banned the putting of poisonous materials in water in order to kill or injure fish. Couldn't we leave this up to the municipalities? Whatever happened to ``community'' standards of decency? See also ``Illegal Fishing Using Dynamite in the Saronic Gulf,'' in Official Journal of the European Communities: Information and Notices, 38, #17, p. 40 (1995). Oh -- European ``Community.'' I guess it's alright then.

In other news:

``Reef Raiders: Fish Trappers Learn to Live without Cyanide and Dynamite While Stalking America's Favorite Pets,'' by Frederic Golden in Sea Frontiers, 37, #1 p. 22 (1991).

``Fishing with Dynamite,'' in Water Well Journal, 49, #4, p. 28 (1995).

There was a front-page article in the New York Times last fall (below the fold, columns on right; beyond that you're on your own -- try NEXIS) on fishing with cyanide and how it has been affecting the ecology of the sea around Hong Kong.

Hmmm. Just found a clipping from letters to the editor, regarding an October 31, 1995 front-page article. The letter (Nov. 3, page number cut off, from Steven Lauria) gives some interesting historical background. Says old Chinese pharmacopeias identify ``fish-stupefying herb,'' ``break-intestine plant'' and other plants used for preparation of fish poisons. Fish poisoning was banned in the Tang (618-907) and Sung (960-1279) dynasties but persisted, sometimes killing those who ate the fish. In 1121, the Emperor set a penalty for fishing with poison at 100 cane strokes, plus liability for murder in the death of any who died from eating the fish.

Ah! Here's an old email from a fellow Stammtisch person:

	The tale I referred to is Claude Lévi-Strauss, The Raw and the
Cooked (New York 1969; French orig. Mythologiques I: Le cru et le
cuit, Paris 1964) pp. 59-60.  There does seem to be something fishy: note
the single quotes in the following quote from the tale:

	"That same day the Indians organized an expedition to `poison'
	fish and so obtained food for their dinner.  The day after the
	murder the women returned to the fishing ground in order to gather
	the remaining dead fish."  Etc.

The word "poison" is footnoted by L-S as follows: "That is, they threw
into the water pieces of a creeper whose sap dissolves and changes the
surface tension of the water, thus causing the fish to die of
suffocation.  Cf. below pp. 256ff., a lengthy description,
begun as follows: "The mother of diseases on the Bororo myth (M5)
manifests herself during a collective fishing  expedition known as à la
nivrée in French Guiana -- that is, fishing with poison.  This method
consists in suffocating the fish, by throwing into the water coarsely
ground stems of plants of various kinds, usually creepers (Dahlstedtia,
Tephrosia, Serjania, Paullinia, etc.)  The dissolved sap is said to cut
off the supply of oxygen to the fishes' respiratory systems."  A note (25)
on page 257 is interesting: "Fishing with timbo, as practiced by the
Bororo, is a very effective method.  But the fish must be dressed
immediately; otherwise it goes bad and is dangerous to eat."  (In the tale
under discussion (M5 the origin of diseases), a woman eats such bad fish,
swells up and eventually farts infectious diseases into the world.

	Give me Pandora and her "box" anytime!
Or Eve's ``apple.''

Incidentally, the original French of ``expedition to `poison' fish'' isn't punny. L-S wrote ``Le même jour, les Indiens organisent une expédition de pêche au << poison >> ....'' More L-S stuff at the floating signifier entry. We're just full of it.

The word fish was written fisc in Old English, and pronounced that way too. With slight inflectional variations, this was the universal Germanic word for fish. In the North Germanic languages (i.e., the Scandinavian languages and some scattered descendants), the sk sound has remained sk to this day. Hence, fisk is the spelling of the noun `fish' in Swedish, Danish and Norwegian. (Since you ask: in Old Norse and modern Icelandic, the noun is fiskr. In Icelandic, at least, the combining form is usually fisk.) The Eastern Germanic languages all died out before -- so far as we know -- they could undergo a sound shift in final sk.

In the Western Germanic languages, the sk sound usually evolved into sh. In Modern German, for example, the noun is Fisch, whose pronunciation is about as close to English fish as you could hope. This was part of a general pattern -- what linguists distinguish as a systematic ``sound shift'' rather than a mere change in an individual word.

Another example is the loan, through the Latin discus, of the Greek word diskos. In Old English (OE) this was disc, and evolved into the modern word dish. This preserves one of the meanings of the original Greek and Latin words. (The modern word disc represents a second borrowing of the same word. For the word disk, well, follow the link.) In later Romance usage, the word underwent a semantic shift to `table,' which we also borrowed as desk and (think `high table') dais. This later sense influenced some other Germanic languages, and Old High German tisc, which was essentially the sound-shifted version of OE disc and had the same meaning as the OE word, evolved into Modern German Tisch, meaning `table.'

(Likewise Dutch, the third major West Germanic language, ended up with disch meaning `table.' The case is more complicated, however, because final sch in Dutch underwent a further shift to an ess sound, and since the spelling reform of 1947, the word has been spelled dis. Returning to fisk, the initial consonant of the Dutch word ended up voiced, and the word was spelled visch and now vis.)

Fisk is a common surname, by American standards -- it ranks among the top 3000. Obviously it's an old metonymic occupational name for a fisherman or fishmonger. One bearer of the surname is the journalist Robert Fisk. He's based in Beirut, and a century ago, in the era when the British Empire had ``orientalists'' based in Egypt, one might have said that Fisk had ``gone native.'' Nowadays, his anti-Western views are about as common in Western universities as in Middle Eastern shanties, which I suppose suggests they might be on a similar intellectual level. Anyway, the blogosphere has verbed Fisk's name. To fisk is to refute thoroughly and in systematic detail. It's something that is done to Robert Fisk's reporting, not by it.

Física y Química
`Physics and Chemistry' in Spanish. Title of the tenth album of Spanish singer-songwriter Joaquín Sabina. It was released in 1992 and sold 400,000 copies. That's quadruple-platinum (``quatro discos de platino'') in Spain. There doesn't seem to be much about physics or chemistry in the album.

Fédération Internationale des Sociétés de Philosophie. `International Federation of Philosophical Societies' (IFPS).

FISP held its first world congress in 1900 (Paris). Since the tenth (1948), FISP has held a world congress every five years. Recently, it seems FISP accumulates another homepage for every world congress (at least Boston 1998, Istanbul 2003).

FISP is a member of CIPSH.

Failures In (unit) Time. A unit of measurement for the `hazard rate' (the instantaneous rate of failure), equal to one failure per billion hours. There are 8760 or 8784 hours in a year -- so this sounds like a rather optimistic unit, but for many microelectronic components the reported failure rates in the field are in the 0.01 to 0.1 FIT range. [See F. H. Reynolds: ``Measuring and modelling integrated circuit failure rates,'' EUROCON'82, pp. 32-45 (1982).]

Fashion Institute of Technology. That's the snazzy-looking page. If you want information, see non-FIT page about FIT.

FAST Image Transfer. A commercial image compression standard that claims file sizes 2-6 times smaller than JPEG files of the same visual quality.

``FAST'' in the acronym expansion is the short standard capitalized form of the company whose longer name is Fast Search & Transfer ASA. Whether this is less nonsensical in Norwegian than in English is unclear, but the compression does seem more efficient in the examples they have chosen to demonstrate it.

Financial Institutions Tax.

Finite Integration Technique. See MAFIA.

Florida Institute of Technology. Mascot: panther.

The name of a Honda vehicle sold in the US. There was one ahead of me on the road today and I can report this: it's a tight one. It's almost as small as the cars that Japanese manufacturers were exporting to the US in the 1960's. And the logo makes it look like the name is all lower-case: ``fit'' in e.e.-cummings/bell-hooks style.

Fédération Internationale de Tir à l'Arc. `International Archery Federation.'

Federation of International Trade Associations.

Fluorescein IsoThioCyanate.

Fiber In The Loop.

Flexible Interchange Transport Standard. IAU standard for astronomical data storage and communication.

Financial Intelligence Unit. Generic term for a national government agency that monitors financial activity. The US FIU is FinCEN.

{ Federación Internacional de Universidades Católicas | Fédération Internationale des Universités Catholiques }. Spanish and French, resp., for English `International Federation of Catholic Universities' (IFCU). The pages are generally available in all three languages; the language switch is tucked away at the bottom of the left-hand frame.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. ``Kitty HIV.'' Affects various feline species including felix catus (domestic cat). First isolated from a cattery in northern California in 1986, but later found in blood samples dating from the 1960's. (In a similar way, HCV has been found in blood samples from as far back as 1950.) FIV is a lentivirus (category of retrovirus), like HIV, but not as closely related to HIV as SIV is.

FIV is eventually fatal to cats, but probably not dangerous to humans. Just in case though, immunocompromised individuals should erase all copies of WATFIV from their directories.

Five People You Meet in Heaven, The
The title of a New York Times bestseller, published in 2003. It was written by Mitch Albom, who has committed at least one other bestseller. This book has some of the virtue of brevity, but its interesting observations about life, human nature, heaven, etc., would certainly be just as insightful in a larger volume if they were true. Of course, many of the observations are somewhat, sort of, or partially true, but not all of the book's nonfiction content is false or partly false; some of it is just trite. The book also features sententious mysticism, illogic, failed epigrams, and resolute cowardice in the face of reality. In short, it's another slice of inspirational literature baloney. In its defense, I can add that its rich graphic texture is not entirely undermined by the absence of illustrations.

None of this would justify an entry for this book here, but as I read it (for tawdry reasons that need not concern you, dear reader) I noticed something surprising and familiar: a Ponzi scheme. (MILD SPOILER information follows.)

The premise of the book is that after dying, each person (or each person who goes to heaven -- the distinction is not explored) meets five tutors; it's rather like Scrooge's Christmas Eve in Dickens's A Christmas Carol. (The idea was borrowed again with only slightly greater baldness in the 2008 movie An American Carol. I seem to recall an interview in which director David Zucker explained that he decided to recycle the old gimmick because he had never had much success with his bright new ideas.)

Anyway, the newly dead person meets five less-recently dead people whose lives intersected his. Each one is able to provide a dramatic alternate perspective on some aspect or episode of the newgoner's life. Each one demonstrates that the newgoner's life story was heavily contrived. No wait, that's not it. Each one teaches the newgoner an important lesson, and the lesson typically climaxes in a horribly mawkish catharsis. After this five-fold initiation, the newgoner enters heaven proper, the full presence of God, the harem of 72 (perpetual?) virgins, whatever. Also, he prepares to become the tutor of a future newgoner. (``Newgoner'' is not a term that occurs in the book.)

The interesting thing is that while each new dead person is taught by five dead people, each dead person thereafter teaches only one incoming dead person and is then released from teaching duties forever. This is, as they say of Ponzi schemes, too-generous social welfare systems, and corn farming in Antarctica, unsustainable. In the long run, the promised benefits exceed income. The only way to keep this going without cutting benefits is to cut beneficiaries. New admissions to heaven must decrease literally exponentially. (This I could believe. But there's no hint of it in the book, and it wouldn't be consistent with the generally upbeat, everyone-is-forgiven message.)

In the dedication, author Albom writes that most religions have an idea of heaven, ``and they should all be respected.'' At least he doesn't say they should all be believed. I guess they should all be disbelieved and respected, like crime bosses. I also have a problem with some of the belief systems that don't incorporate a heaven. It used to bother me that many people who believe in reincarnation don't worry about population growth. I mean, a population explosion could produce a severe soul shortage; bodies would have to be equipped with untested new souls that were still wet behind the ears, so to speak. Either that, or there'd have to be a reserve supply of souls kept in long-term storage. So this scheme would at least have a hell. In any case, immediately after a great catastrophe there'd certainly be an oversupply. Maybe this was the inspiration for the population in packing crates described in Woody Allen's What's Up Tiger Lily? (1966).

Truth to tell, I also have a problem with religions that do have a heaven, but some of them do sound a bit more promising. At least Albom doesn't go so far as to say that religions can be respected, although some do. Oh, now I get it: each religion should be respected by somebody who can. Sneaky atheist, that Albom.

I remember when I attended religious school that the principal would periodically come into our class to say something stupid. (I'm not saying that was her intention, but it must have been part of the Plan. Nothing happens without a purpose, I am given to understand. So it was Somebody's intention.) One time she instructed us solemnly that no matter how poor a person is, there is always someone poorer. (Even though the number of people in the world is finite, she neglected to add.) There are really a lot of people in this world (to say nothing of the next) who regard elementary mathematical facts as a nuisance that can properly be ignored.

Financial Institutions eXpert eXamination. ``[A] personal computer-based system, using artificial intelligence technology to capture in a knowledge base the skills of the best [bank] examiners and make their expertise available to all examiners.'' A program of the Department of Financial Institutions of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

This word originally meant silent[ly] fart. It does so no longer.

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