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Faculty Of....

(Domain code for) Faroe Islands.

Flash Override. A key on an AUTOVON phone, q.v.

Force Ouvrière. French literally meaning `Working Force' (taking the infinitive gerund into the English present participle). A better translation, both as idiomatic English and as description, would be `Work Force.' In any case, it's one of France's five big labor unions.

FO, F.O.
Foreign Office. British for what is State Department in the US government. AA in German.

Fragrance Oil. An artificial fragrance consisting of a mix of esters dissolved in alcohol. Used in perfumes, soaps, personal hygiene products, etc. Cheaper but more volatile than traditional fragrances (essential oils -- EO's). When fragrance oils were new, the main problem was that they were harsh and noticeably artificial. To achieve a convincing verisimilitude of natural odor, one must mix a reasonable number of different chemicals, say 20-30.

Senator-Exon Off And Die.

Friend Of A Friend. FOAF stories are not acceptable as evidence in courts of law.

foam-making acumen
This phrase is free; you can use it for any legal purpose without need for attribution, please!

Fund Organization Account and Program.

Forward Operating Base [for military operations].

Friend Of Bill. A crony of Bill Clinton, from the time before he was president of the US. Also known generically as First Friends. The term passed out of use during the first presidential term, to be replaced by ``witness.'' [Cf. amicus curiae.] This FOB is pronounced ``eff oh bee.'' A nice feature of the initialism is that over the phone it sounds just like SOB. Even if you're not an FOB, you can still visit the White House.

The term is also used for a friend of President Bill Gates (William H. Gates III). That is probably the dominant use already in 1997, as Bill C. is a lame duck with a lame foot.

Hmmm. There's been some water under the bridge since I wrote that line.

FOB, F.O.B., fob, f.o.b., f/o/b
Free On Board. Designates the price of imports before import duties are assessed.

Fresh Off [the] Boat. Very recent immigrant. I suppose that in principle, it ought to refer only to immigrants who haven't paid taxes yet. Something like that. At some point, an FOB must come to be called a ``first-generation American'' (or more generally a ``first-generation [Your Country Here]-an'').

Cf. ABC, ABCD, and CBC. In less acronymic times, a century ago, a common equivalent of FOB was green-horn or greenhorn.

Free Of Charge. No charge! Gratis! Complimentary! Costs hidden elsewhere.

Not a technical term in electrostatics.

Full Operational Capability. [Federalese.]

Fiber Optic Communications Inc.

Plural of focus.

The Latin word focus meant `hearth.' A hearth is a fireplace, the place where the ``home fires'' (not house fires!) are kept burning. In Spanish, the word became hogar, which pretty much means `home.'

It was apparently Johannes Kepler who first used the word focus in the sense of a special sort of geometrical home point. The first published instance is in his 1604 treatise on optics, Paralipomena in Vitellionem:

Nos lucis causa et oculis in mechanicam intentis ea puncta focos appellabimus.

FOcus-DefOcus. This refers to the basic repeating element in accelerator physics: two successive quadrupole magnets surrounding a charged-particle beam (the ``beamline'').

Dipole magnets are used for steering, quadrupole magnets for focusing. The problem is that quadrupole magnets focus in one plane containing the beamline, and simultaneously defocus in the perpendicular plane containing the beamline. The solution is to alternate the orientation of successive quadrupole magnets. Viewed along either plane, the beam is alternately focused and defocused, but the net effect of the pair of operations is to focus the beam slightly. It's a little bit reminiscent of alternating-direction implicit (ADI) numerical integration.

A sequence of FODO pairs is often referred to as a ``FODO lattice'' or ``FODO channel.'' Sorry, not the FOOD channel.

Fraternal Order of Eagles. Once they were ``The Fighting Fraternity,'' but now they're a service organization and they want you to know that they are responsible for Mother's Day and Social Security. Well, you used to shake 'em down, but now you stop and think about your dignity. Founded in 1898, so you know they're not an air force outfit. They're International! (US and Canada both.)

Friends of the Earth. It doesn't sound very friendly.

Ten to the Fifty-One Ergs. That is, 1051 ergs or 1044 joules. A lot of energy. Enough to guarantee US energy independence for approximately 1024 years at current rates of consumption. And there are many power sources that can supply a foe or more of energy. As usual, however, the problem is getting at it.

For example, there are about two trillion barrels of recoverable oil in US deposits of oil shale. Oil shale is currently used in Germany, Israel, China, Brazil, and Estonia, but we haven't been able to overcome the technical hurdles. Also, there are about 10 billion barrels of petroleum under Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, but we mustn't drill there because of the lush biodiversity at Arctic latitudes.

And there are an estimated 85 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas under the outer continental shelf, but we mustn't drill there either. We mustn't build more refineries or nuclear or coal-burning power plants, because in the long run it makes more sense to send trillions of dollars to unstable third world kleptocracies and theocrazies. We must build windmills, but not if they can be seen from Martha's Vineyard. The only ugly thing allowed in my back yard is my legislator, so long as he's on a short leash. We should make alcohol by fermenting corn and grasses, and it will generate enough fuel to power the tractors that harvest it. As a side benefit, it will raise the price of grain and save the small family farm.

So what power sources can supply a foe of energy? Well, a typical star -- like the Sun, for instance -- radiates on the order of a foe of energy over the course of its entire life. Unfortunately, it lives billions of years, so you can wait a long time to get what you want. It's kind of like having a rich uncle in excellent health.

Another problem is that the drip-drip-drip of energy is not delivered direct to us; instead, it is scattered as light radiating in all directions, so that heedless aliens on distant worlds could see one more twinkling star in their sky, if they bothered to turn any of their eyes in our direction. What a waste. As it is, the power flux density of light from the Sun, at a distance of one astronomical unit (here we are, baby), is about 1000 watts per square meter. Plants collect this by using chlorophyll and some Rube Goldberg-like chemical cycles, with an overall efficiency of a fraction of a percent.

Little of this has anything really to do with foe, of course, but that sort of thing never stopped me before. Apparently the foe unit was coined by the astrophysicist Gerry Brown of SUNY-Stony Brook. It's a convenient unit for describing the energy released in the explosion of a supernova over the course of its lifetime (measured in seconds).

Follow-On (Military) Forces Attack.

Fiber-Optic Gyroscope.

Fiber-Optic Interface.

Freedom Of Information.

Freedom Of Information Act. US law (1966) that requires government agencies to release information they have developed, absent some good reason not to (privacy, security, proprietary restrictions). In Canada a similar law is officially entitled the ``Access to Information Act'' (action illustrated here), but informally also called the ``Freedom Of Information Act.'' In the UK there is no similar law, and a lot of British investigative journalism relies on American FOIA releases to learn about British government activity. This shows how useful Question Time (PMQ) is.

Fiber-Optic Inter-Repeater Link.

Sorry, this entry is just here to remind me to finish the FLL and FUL entries.

Free (and quite good) On-Line Dictionary of Computing created by Denis Howe. [That site's in England; there are mirrors on InfoStreet (CA USA), at NightFlight (CA USA), Institut Gaspard Monge (France), Bilkent University (Turkey), and various other places.]

Free On-Line Dictionary of Philosophy, modeled on FOLDOC. FOLDOP was last updated October 28, 2006, with no plans for further updating or support from its editorial board, but it remains available on line. Its 2021 entries, written in Italo-English, are also available for download as a 7.3 MB pdf.

Federation Object Models. Maybe ``Bones'' can fix this ``explanation.''

FOM, f.o.m.
Figure Of Merit. Nice curves! No?

Federal Open Market Committee. A committee, of senior officers of the Federal Reserve Board, that meets monthly to establish Federal Reserve rates that affect the interest rates charged by member banks to their customers.

Friends Of Naked Dancing Llama.

Here's a good list of downloadable fonts primarily for languages that occur in Biblical studies.

A variable, but you can use it to stand for anything. Etymology uncertain. Cf. foobar, foo fighter, fu.

Forward Observation Officer.

A variable. Usage: ``Unix has no `show' command corresponding to `set,' as VMS did. Instead, to show the value of a single variable one enters `echo $foobar', where foobar is the name of the variable defined by a set command.''

The syllables foo (q.v.) and bar, as well as various others are used as alternate variables.

It is just barely conceivable that this might have some etymological connection to fubar. The decisive flaw in this hypothesis is that hackers are much too clean-minded to descend to such vulgarity.

When I wrote the preceding paragraph, it was meant ironically. Boy, do I have foo on my face. According to the Jargon file, which represents thousands of hours of speculation and also some research by subscribers to relevant newsgroups, foo has an independent origin preceding the WWII-vintage fubar. Presumably the use of foo and foobar as metasyntactic led to similar use of bar.

See the foo and foobar entries in the Jargon File.

Did you say food bar?

A metasyntactic variable that is a proper noun in a natural language with enough self-respect to capitalize proper nouns, or the first word in a sentence. In German, all nouns are capitalized.

food addiction
Unique among the addictions, in that abstinence is not considered a viable therapeutic option.

food bar
A salad bar with food that isn't all salad or salad components or bread or dessert. A buffet bar. A help-yourself smorgasbord. Eat! Eat till you burst!

Cf. foobar.

food coma
Slang for sleep induced by a heavy meal.

food fighters
Well, I guess that makes sense. After all, if you're going to have a food fight you're going to need some food and some -- oh! It's foo fighters! Nevermind. Try the fu entry for fight foo.

food item
An order component in a fast-food ``restaurant.''

I used to think that was the only meaning, but the other day I noticed that the classroom doors in O'Shag have plastic plaques advising

Food and drink items are not allowed in the classrooms.

I'm not sure that's really clear enough. You know, words can convey information, so it's a mathematical fact that more words can convey more information. Let's try it, shall we not?

Things that are food and drink items are not allowed in the classrooms.

Food and drink were also forbidden in Hesburgh Library. (And the aluminum-can recycling bins were on the second floor.)

Cf. the thoughts at this food product.

At the store, food items like meat and potato chips are ``groceries'' for tax purposes. Food items are theoretically consumed in portions or helpings called serving sizes, which often differ from the quantities in which they are packaged and sold.

food loaf
A breadlike substance made up of the previous day's leftovers. This is served, or eaten, or at least made available, in Texas prisons. Loaves, called by a small range of similar names in various states, have become an increasingly popular form of discipline in US jails and prisons. Proof, if the French needed any further evidence, that Americans are barbarians. The question is, do loaves constitute cruel or unusual punishment, prohibited by the US constitution? The loaves have prompted some lawsuits.

In Pennsylvania prisons, a breakfast loaf contains prunes, eggs, toast, hash browns, bacon and orange juice. That's what Fox News reports, but perhaps the loaf is served with orange juice.

Many years ago, in a book of anecdotes about great chemists, I read about an experiment done by Robert Williams Wood. Wood (1868-1955) was famous as a spectroscopist and is usually described as a physicist, but we won't quibble. I seemed to remember that this this experiment was done when he was at Harvard, but he was only there for his B.A. Second guess: Johns Hopkins. He was living in a boardinghouse, and he suspected that the woman who ran it was recycling scraps from one meal into the next. One day at dinner he left a nice morsel of meat uneaten, but salted with strontium chloride. The next morning for breakfast he brought the necessary equipment -- I imagine a candle would have sufficed -- took a bit of the hash they was served and put it in the flame. It burned with the characteristic reddish hue of strontium (Sr).

(I can't recall the title of the book, from before -- probably way before -- 1982, so details here and in the preceding paragraph are from memory.) The strontium story suggests that Wood was a tough customer. None of the stories about him suggested that he was a nice guy. During one of the Solvay conferences (I guess the second, in October 1913 in Brussels), Marie Curie demanded that no one smoke cigars. Wood and some other cretin did, and she walked out.

A word used by the food-service industry to mean food service and food-service.

Interjection meaning `balderdash' but having none of the dignity of its sesquipedalian synonym. The noun form of balderdash is poppycock. [English spelling is preposterous, isn't it?] There is no noun form of fooey, but see foo.

foo fighter
A WWII airmen's term for a UFO or odd atmospheric phenomenon. The alarm caused by foo fighters was augmented by the war-time fear that they might be an enemy weapon, but they never were. The Foo Fighters rock group took their name from this.

The origin of the WWII term is plausibly associated with Bill Holman's ``Smokey Stover'' comic strip, begun in 1935 and syndicated through the Chicago Tribune. Foo was one of a number of recurring nonsense words used in the strip, in various apparent senses. Smokey rode a two-wheeled firetruck called the Foomobile. The wheels were side-by-side, as on a modern Segway scooter, rather than fore-and-aft, as on a bicycle. So the word foo was associated with paradoxical or apparently technologically advanced vehicles. It was also associated with smoke, particularly in Smokey's oft-repeated ``Where there's foo there's fire.'' It's been suggested that this foo is related to the French feu (`fire'). (The common English word curfew, of course, is ultimately from an Old French expression, spelled variously as cuevre-fu, quevre-feu, covre-feu, and coevrefu in Anglo-French, `covered fire.')

foo gas
Mixture of napalm and explosives, usually set in a fifty-gallon drum.

Focusing On Others Line. A line representing the spectrum of ways in which one can unload responsibility for one's actions or decisions on others, with ``blame'' (i.e., blaming others) at one end and ``hero worship'' at the other. The device is introduced in Your Erroneous Zones by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer (NYC: Funk and Wagnalls, 1976), p. 144. It's in the section entitled ``Balming and Hero Worship: Opposite Ends of the Same Externally Directed Behavior.'' No, it's not as carefully thought out as it might be, but it is an acronym. Dyer explains, ``[y]ou are behaving as a fool if you look outside of you for an explanation of how you should feel or what you should do.'' You should take his word for it.

[The most obvious intellectual sloppiness in the F.O.O.L. is that the poles represent two points in what is really an at least a two-dimensional ``spectrum.'' It is posited that hero worship is indicates externally-directed decision-making behavior focused on admired others, and ``blame'' indicate externally-directed analysis (and failure to take personal responsibility) focused on despised others. The admiration/contempt variable and the decision/analysis variable don't always coincide in this way, and it's not clear that the second variable (decision-making or normative, final-cause analysis, versus positive or efficient-cause analysis) can be usefully regarded as a continuous variable.]

I bought Your Erroneous Zones second-hand in 1980 or so, and just decided to skim it now (December 2, 2003, around 8pm). Chapter IX (pp. 176ff) is entitled ``Putting an End to Procrastination--Now.'' Maybe that should have been chapter I.

Friend Of Our Lord. An award given by the Betty Bowers Ministries, just in case there was anyone left who hadn't been offended yet.

``Pizzas rush in where burgers fear to tread.''

Seen on a pizza box lid, under the heading ``Domino's Pizza Proverbs.'' Maybe they should have thought this one through, but I guess they were in a rush.

The Urban Dictionary has at least twenty definitions of foon as a slang term. The Urban Dictionary specializes in slang, and is user constructed. It's sort of a demonstration of how bad Wiktionary could be, if all anyone could do about a poor contribution was to give it a ``thumbs down.''

I also have a definition of foon. It's accurate, but afaik it has only been used in this glossary. It's short for ``foo, Numerical.''

A common onomatopoeia. Used for the sound of a vacuum cleaner sucking up soft debris, certain kinds of lawn sprinklers (``chicka-chicka-chicka, foosh! foosh! foosh! foosh!''), etc.

On Columbus Day (well, October 12, anyway), 2000, Australia's Advertiser included the following in a basketball news round-up:

AT last it can be revealed. The reason NBA scouts have not swarmed all over 215cm Italian sensational Gregor Fucka is because of concerns over acceptability of his name.

But Fucka - pronounced Foosh-ka - says he is comfortable with ``Gregor'' and will not change it for anybody.

FOOSH, foosh
F{ell|all[s]} On Outstretched Hand. The acronym is used as an adjective (``foosh injury'') and noun (countable and uncountable). Foosh accounts for the majority of wrist sprains. Fooshes are very common injuries for inline skaters, scooter riders, or whatever is popular today. Pedestrians slipping on ice account for a large share of foosh injuries as well.

Forum for Object-Oriented Technology at CERN.

foot-and-mouth disease
A disease of livestock (cattle and pigs) characterized by foot and mouth blisters. Other symptoms are reduced appetite and fever. The disease is highly communicable between animals and can be passed in hay and other feed. Foot-and-mouth sometimes causes death directly, but usually any animals that show the symptoms, or that may have had contact with animals that showed the symptoms, are slaughtered immediately -- laboratory tests take a few days.

foot-in-mouth disease
A disease of political animals. May be fatal the victim's political career, especially if strange bedfellows sacrifice sufferer to save the herd.

[Football icon]

The game of football is a lot like a blizzard or a major storm: it ties up traffic and closes area businesses. Fortunately, games are scheduled in advance, so you can plan to be out of town.

If you can't be out of town, you can root against the home team. If rooting has some effect, that might help them lose and lower attendance.

[Football icon]

Football Bowl Subdivision
An unwieldy name that the NCAA decided should be used (starting in 2007) for the group of football teams known as division I-A. The NCAA has a lot of power, but it may not have enough power to make people say ``bowl subdivision'' instead of ``I-A.'' Division I-A teams are eligible to compete in the lucrative and highly publicized BCS system.

[Football icon]

Football Championship Subdivision
An unwieldy name that the NCAA decided should be used for the group of football teams known as division I-AA, starting in fall 2007. The NCAA pours more alcohol into the gestation vessels that hold future I-AA players than into those that hold future I-A players. In I-AA, the highest-ranked teams participate in a three-round play-off system to determine the I-AA Champion. This is exactly the kind of play-off system that just can't be implemented in division I-A, which is therefore unfortunately stuck with a crazy BCS system that has no advantages except profitability.

I am shocked to discover that we don't have a footnote entry! When we do have an adequate footnote entry, it will be replaced by a small link to the bottom of the page. At that time, the following will come at the end of the (footnote to the footnote) entry.

Because you've been good and read all the way down to here, you get a treat! I'm going to reward you with a taste of my favorite footnote, a model of mincingly careful word selection, of fancy foot(note)work. It has been extensively reprinted, along with the text it is an ornament to. It's footnote number 1, on page 13 of my paperback second edition of the 1931 work mentioned at the .ru entry.

As an illustration of the danger of disregarding the historical background we may quote the following example taken at random. The authoritative and useful volume, Soviet Russia in the Second Decade (A Joint Survey of the Technical Staff of the First American Trade Union Delegation, edited by Stuart Chase, Robert Dunn, and Rexford Guy Tugwell, New York, 1928), contains an interesting article by Professor Tugwell on Soviet agriculture. The author puts considerable emphasis upon land surveying, the creation of enclosed holdings, the organization of experimental farms, and the advancement of general education among the peasants. These developments, it seems, are among the chief reasons which led Professor Tugwell to form his very optimistic conclusions as to the outlook of Russian farming. No indication is given in the article that all these measures are not new. Professor Tugwell is undoubtedly perfectly familiar with the land reforms of Stolypin which revolutionized land tenure, and were directed against communal ownership. He must also know of the immense work carried on by the zemstvos in the field of education, public health, and the spread of agricultural knowledge among the farmers; and also that before the War an ever increasing number of experimental stations and model farms were opened every year by the Department of Agriculture, especially in connection with the Stolypin land settlement plan. None of these facts, however, is mentioned by Professor Tugwell, probably for lack of space; and those of his readers who have little knowledge of pre-revolutionary Russia will get the impression that all of these important measures originated with the Soviet government when, as a matter of fact, they are merely a revival, and not infrequently a very inadequate one, of a policy pursued by Imperial Russia for a great many years. The optimistic forecast by Professor Tugwell, we venture to suggest, will lose some of its point if the developments he describes are connected with their historical setting.

Sometimes authors detonate such things in parenthetical remarks. For example, Arthur E. Gordon begins chapter V (``Summary and Criticism of Modern Views'') of his The Letter Names of the Latin Alphabet thus:

[Friedrich] Marx is easy to criticize. He was only twenty-three when he published his dissertation, so his failure to present the evidence of Ausonius, Terentianus Maurus, and the other grammarians whose testimony favors the sonant/syllabic names of the semivowels as against ef, el, em, etc., is perhaps understandable (though it does seem rather strange that he was so consistent in presenting only one side of the case, and even stranger that his edition of twenty-two or twenty-three years later does not present the missing evidence, and that, despite having Schulze's paper by the time he published volume 2 of his edition, he answers only one point made by Schulze, about the credibility of the anonymous commentator on Donatus on the subject of Varro).

Gordon himself is also easy to criticize. His entire book consists of stating and repeatedly restating others' arguments, and other others' counterarguments. It's one of those books where you find yourself asking, ``well, what does the author think?'' Eventually, you flip forward to page 65 and read:

I end therefore with no confidence that I have all the facts or, if I have, that I have interpreted them correctly. But I have presented all the evidence available to me.

footnote gems
There are a couple of major discoveries associated with footnotes If I recall correctly, the phenomenon now called the the Aharonov-Bohm effect was first introduced as a footnote in a textbook by someone else. Similarly, Max Born's probability interpretation of the wavefunction was first mentioned (and attributed to Born) in a paper published by someone else. I'll try to confirm and detail these recollections.

Hmmm. According to the Wikipedia article on the A-B effect, The earliest prediction of such an effect was made by Werner Ehrenberg and R.E. Siday in a paper of 1949: ``The Refractive Index in Electron Optics and the Principles of Dynamics,'' Procs. Phys. Soc. vol. B62, pp. 8-21 [doi:10.1088/0370-1301/62/1/303]. Yakir Aharonov and David Bohm independently rediscovered the effect and published in 1959: ``Significance of electromagnetic potentials in quantum theory,'' in Phys. Rev. vol. 115, pp. 485-491 [doi: 10.1103/PhysRev.115.485]. Informed of the earlier work, Aharonov and Bohm cited the paper of Ehrenberg and Siday in their second paper on the phenomenon (``Further Considerations on Electromagnetic Potentials in the Quantum Theory'' in Phys. Rev. vol. 123, pp. 1511-1524 [doi: 10.1103/PhysRev.123.1511]. That wasn't exactly what I had in mind. I'll have to keep looking.

wavefunction, which appeared -- properly credited -- in a footnote to someone else's work.

foot of the bed
I never wondered about the grammatical number of this until I discovered that the form of expression used in my family, the singular ``el pie de la cama,'' is nonstandard. Much more common in the Spanish-speaking world is ``los pies de la cama,'' `the feet of the bed.' It doesn't even seem to be an argentinismo. The question remains, and I don't plan to answer it, do people mean the footboard or the end of the bed?

FOliage PENetration. No, not agent orange; radar.

File OPEN. A standard C function for opening a stream (which is usually an ordinary file, but sometimes you want to read /dev/null).

Fellowship Of { Reconciliation | the Ring }.

Fornax. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation.

For a good time call...
A person I dislike has the telephone number...

At some time during the twentieth century, George Carlin lamented the absence of an English word rhyming with orange, and proposed `forange,' which would describe the social interaction that occurs when two people pass each other in a hallway too narrow to allow two to walk abreast. I looked in a rhyming dictionary recently and it wasn't there yet. Thomas Hardy used to neologize dozens of words per novel, and those would quickly appear in dictionaries as archaic usages, with Hardy's books cited as reference. We're not as bold as we think; today a man neologizes one word, useful to both poetry and small business, and they call him a comedian.

Willard R. Espy reportedly addressed the pressing problem of difficult-to-rhyme words in The Game of Words (New York: Bramhall House, 1971). I don't happen to have that work handy, but among his many works of word play is An Almanac of Words at Play (New York: C.N. Potter, 1975), which is handy. For 18 February the almanac has ``Impossible Rhymes.'' Espy quotes

To find a rhyme for silver
Or any ``rhymeless'' rhyme
Requires only will, ver-
bosity and time.

This solution to the silver rhyming challenge was devised by Steven Sondheim and published in the correspondence section of Time magazine, incidentally demonstrating the importance of such rhyming problems, and the eminence of the heroes who attack them. Inspired by Sondheim's achievement, Ira Levin came up with two solutions to the penguin rhyming problem as well as another silver rhyme. It begins to appear, or be clear, that color words, while prominent in the difficult-rhyme discipline (witness orange and silver, and also purple), do not exhaust the subject.

Place names in particular are also a rich source of challenges. Espy offers solutions for three of these. F.P.A. rhymed Massachusetts with ``or two sets.'' Espy himself rhymes Speonk (a town on Long Island) with he-onk and she-onk. This strikes me as highly unnecessary. Timbuctoo (as it was spelled by Samuel Wilberforce -- I suppose by the Samuel Wilberforce -- back in the day) was rhymed with characteristically religious-themed ``hymn-book too.'' Thomas Huxley observed that Bishop Wilberforce had an unfortunate prediliction for wading in over his head in unfamiliar waters (not Huxley's words); this might be another instance, but I'm not familiar with all the pronunciations of Timbuktu or Tombouctou.

Among other difficult rhymes from the Victorian era: R.H. Barham rhymed velocity with ``cross it, he'' and Lord Byron rhymed intellectual with ``hen-pecked you all.'' Evidently, the Victorians talked funny. (And we won't even get into Lord Byron's ``Don Juan.'')

A private communication from O. V. Michaelsen provides some important information from his book Words at Play: Quips, Quirks & Oddities. It turns out that there are a number of less-well-known words that rhyme with silver and purple. They only rhyme with one: either the word silver or the word purple. So far, no word has been found which rhymes both with purple and the word silver. Or indeed with purple and with any word that doesn't rhyme with purple. It's that hard. Rhyme would be an equivalence relation if words were considered to rhyme with themselves. Oh yes, some of the words: curple is a horse's ass -- its buttocks, rather, and sometimes the buttocks of another animal. In the right sort of sentence, I suppose it could refer to the hindquarters of both a horse and an animal that is not a horse, but we're not going to get into that. Don't look a gift horse...

Another purple rhyme is hirple, a British word meaning `hobble' or `walk lamely.' You wonder if there wasn't some influence one way or the other between hirple and curple (which sounds like a scrambled cripple). I guess if your knees pointed backwards you'd hobble too. That reminds me of Mickey Rivers, who played outfield for the New York Yankees in the late 1970's. He only seemed to flow smoothly when he ran. The best description I ever heard of him loping back to home after beating a foul to first was this:

He walks like he has a shovel up his ass.

(Exercise for the reader: rephrase this using curple.) His odd appearance walking is easy to understand. Rivers (``Mick the Quick'') was like one of those racecars that doesn't have a low gear -- he had two speeds: FAST! and off. He couldn't actually walk, so what he would do was turn on the speed for a millisecond and then coast for a few steps. They say that if you're running low on gas along a flat road, one way to make the remaining gas last is to do something similar: periodically take the car up to speed (gently), turn off the ignition, coast down to very low speed, and start over. Sounds pretty chancy to me. Many early airplanes, including some that flew in WWI, had no throttles; the only way to slow the engine (other than a little bit, by climbing) was to turn it off. (Here's some QuickTime footage.) That sounds even chancier to me.

Anyway, chilver, a British dialectal term, means ewe lamb or ewe mutton.

There are proper nouns that rhyme orange, purple, and silver, and you can find a bunch of them (both toponyms and personal names) in Michaelsen's Words at Play. I like Blorenge, the name of a 1,833-foot hill -- one of seven in the vicinity of Abergavenny, Wales. And take this hint from a pro: don't wear your erudition on your sleeve -- just ease Blorenge into your everyday rhyme conversations (cf. I did, did I?) without all the added information. If someone challenges you, you can toss off the wisdom in bits, like crumbs to the pigeons: ``a hill in Wales ... oh, it's pretty prominent for thereabouts -- more than half a kilometer high ... mmm, near Abergavenny ... there are some others ... seven all told ....'' You'll look that much more impressive, and everyone will be sure to have died of boredom before the depth of your shallow erudition is plumbed. If no one challenges you, hire a shill.

Michaelsen's next book also dealt with month (another tough rhyme, if millionth doesn't do it for you). (Espy cites a couplet by Christina Rossetti that rhymes month with ``runn'th.'') This Michaelsen book has this limerick:

There once was a dunce known as Orange
Who got his toe caught in a door hinge.
Said he, turning purple,
Proceeding to hirple,
Now how will I get back to Blorenge?

and its palinode:

A passerby named Mr. Wilver,
Who traded his horse for a chilver,
Offered Orange the lamb,
But he mounted a ram
And rode home yelling, Oh, Hiyo Silver!

Many years ago, the Stammtisch Beau Fleuve sponsored a search to find `the' other word that ends in -gry, in addition to angry and hungry. We found a couple, but they're not exactly common words. The alt.english.usage FAQ has an exhaustive discussion. See also the rec.puzzles FAQ list and ``archive.''

In case you're not satiated yet, we have a little more on rhyme at the rhyme entry. In German, a difficult ending to match is nf. Yes, there's even a rhyming pair; it's discussed at the fünf entry.

Forbes, Steve
The Stammtisch does not take political positions per se, but here's a physiognomic observation: on p. 42 of Newsweek for the week of March 11, 1996, there's a picture of Forbes that makes him look very similar to Fred Barnes.

You already know what it means. You already know that it's a strong irregular verb, even if you don't know what those words mean. I just want to point out forcefully that the past tense of forbid is forbade. Forbad is also good. Thank you. You can probably handle the participles on your own.

First-Order Reversal Curve.

force is a vector
The following appeared in an obituary of Fay Wray (died Aug. 8, 2004, age 96), who starred in the 1933 film classic ``King Kong.'' I think it quotes from her autobiography, but I'm not sure.

Although Kong appeared huge, the full figure was really only 18 inches tall. Miss Wray knew him by the arm, which was 8 feet long.

``I would stand on the floor,'' she recalled, ``and they would bring this arm down and cinch it around my waist, then pull me up in the air. Every time I moved, one of the fingers would loosen, so it would look like I was trying to get away. Actually, I was trying not to slip through his hand.''

The golfing equivalent of ``Timber!'' in sylviculture.

Lying on the ground, Charlie Brown yelled at Lucy, ``There's no body-checking in golf!!!''

A fundamental principle of professional ice hockey:
Forecheck, backcheck, paycheck.

``Backcheck,'' particularly in this context, sounds a bit like back pay. Back pay is something pro hockey players will not get when the circumstances described under GOODENOW are resolved.

foreclosure animal
A vicious mortgage-company employee? No, a pet abandoned by people who have lost their home.

As a noun, foreground refers to the objects closer to the viewer in the visual field. Back in the sixties or seventies sometime, the noun came to be verbed by lit-crit types. Verb foreground is one of the things the anti-``theorists'' rail against. It certainly must be said that ``foreground'' makes an ugly verb, and the willingness to use it is prima facie evidence of poor feeling for language and literature. That said, however, it may be granted that the usage is not superfluous, and does fill a semantic role not managed by the obvious alternatives. The obvious alternatives are stress and emphasize. The trouble with these terms is that they imply that the object is pushed to the front of the reader's intellectual field of view, or attention. In contrast, to foreground is to place at the front of the reader's view.

foreign languages in science fiction
The following was written by Walter E. Meyers in his chapter ``Berlitz in Outer Space'' of Aliens and Linguists: Language Study and Science Fiction (U. Ga. Pr., 1980), p. 117:
Writers of science fiction seldom spare their characters: they may slam their heroes' ships into planets or send their heroines to kill tigers with knives; they may freeze them into statues on Pluto or shoot them through exploding suns. Hardly any degradation or suffering is spared -- with the exception of exposing them to the rigors of learning a foreign language.

Among the retorts when I quoted this to the Classics List:

FOReign EXchange.

forgetting to flush
Conserving water.

FORINT, forint
FOReign INTelligence. Like, W. H. Auden between his emigration in 1939 and his naturalization in 1946? No: cloak-and-dagger stuff involving people who talk funny.

FOrest Resource Information System.

Forces de protection des Nations Unies. It's French, and it's just like them to get everything backwards in `United Nations Protection Force' (UNPROFOR), even the UN! You know, looking at it this way, it isn't obvious from the expansions that the purpose of the force is to protect anything or anyone besides the UN.

Forrestal, James
Secretary of Defense who committed suicide (May 22, 1949) by self-defenestration (old sense). A copy of Sophocles's Ajax was found on his bedtable, open to the ``Salamis Ode'' (ll. 596ff). This contains the passage

No quiet murmur like the tremulous wail Of the lone bird, the querulous nightingale---
which he had copied out up to the first five letters of the word nightingale. Later in the Ode are written the words
When reason's day sets sunless, rayless, joyless, Better to die and sleep.
This seems to be the point that he was trying to make. Maybe while writing the long word nightingale he just got impatient. How many potential suicides have been saved by abbreviations of other long words, like viz.?

The Stammt... err SBF acronym and abbrev. glossary: a free public service, paid for by funds embezzled from a widows-and-orphans trust.

You probably don't want to read that the translation he transcribed was that of the 19th c. poet William Mackworth Praed, reprinted in Mark Van Doren's Anthology of World Poetry, but now it's too late -- you already did. You should have stopped reading after the words ``don't want to read.''

He had been a businessman until 1944, when he began a three-year stint as Secy. of the Navy.

FORmal Description TEchniques for Distributed Systems and Communication Protocols. In 1997, this international conference was held in Osaka in conjunction with Protocol Specification, Testing, and Verification (PSTV).

Forth, FORTH
A programming language (HLL) created by Charles H. Moore, stack-based and optimized for real-time applications. It's long in the tooth, but it has its enthusiasts.

The name FORTH was intended to suggest software for the fourth (next) generation computers, which Moore saw as being characterized by distributed small computers. The operating system he used at the time restricted file names to five characters, so the "U" was discarded. FORTH was spelled in upper case until the late 70's because of the prevalence of upper-case-only I/O devices. The name "Forth" was generally adopted when lower case became widely available, because the word was not an acronym.
[It's a quote, okay? I'm not endorsing it, but for the motivation of the name it should be authoritative: it's from an article by Elizabeth D. Rather, Donald R. Coburn, and the selfsame Moore: ``The Evolution of Forth,'' in History of Programming Languages (ACM Press/Addison-Wesley, 1996).]

There's an email list named FIRE, and an FAQ is available.

For a flavor of the language, see Michael Neumann's extensive list of sample short programs in different programming languages. It includes nine Forth programs.

FOundation for Research and Technology-Hellas. Site of European ULF.

for the duration
A common expression during WWII, understood as ``for the duration of the war.''

It was a common expression in the English-speaking world, of course, since it's an English expression. It was interesting to read the phrase in a The Lost War, by Masuo Kato. Kato had attended school in the US and was a correspondent for Japan's Domei news agency who had covered the coronation in London (1937) and had worked in Washington for most of the time from then until December 8, 1941, when he was interned. It is relevant that he was reading American newspapers until the day before his deportation the following June 18. His book was published in 1946 by Alfred A. Knopf. On page 85, describing a stop in (Japanese-occupied) Saigon on his way home, he writes of his group (reporters and officers) being ``elaborately entertained at the Continental Hotel with what turned out to be the last full-fledged foreign-style meal I was to enjoy for the duration--plus.'' I wonder if there was some Japanese phrase accurately translated by ``for the duration,'' and what its connotations might have been. I'll try to find out.

In the context of foods and beverages, this word's general sense of ``strengthened'' is specialized to the sense of ``with something added that is otherwise there in smaller amounts.'' Whitebread (a nontoxic white foam manufactured from wheat that could have been used to make bread) is typically fortified with vitamins. (These vitamins are normally destroyed by the toasting needed to give the foam sufficient structural strength to allow butter to be spread on it.) Fortified wines are wines with an admixture of some fluid with a higher alcohol content (see the dessert wine entry.)

FORTRAN, Fortran
FORmula TRANslation. A programming language for scientific computation applications. The oldest and most widely used scientific programming language, C++-programming systems types be damned. Developed at IBM by a committee(!) led by John Backus (definition 1954; first compiler released in 1957). A lot of people feel that it's been downhill from there. The main sequence of versions is FORTRAN, FORTRAN II, FORTRAN IV (I don't know what happened to III), FORTRAN 66, FORTRAN 77, Fortran 90 (available in 1992) and Fortran 95 (approved in 1997). Vide ANSI X3.9 for standards. It may be that Fortran 77 was officially named in all-caps, but that was always too much eyestrain, and the compilers I knew tended to have names like ``fort'' or ``unicos.''

There have been a number of versions off the main line of development. Perhaps the most influential was the Fortran created for Digital's vaxen. Others include WATFOR (well you might ask), WATFIV, Formac, RATFOR (RATional FORtran), FORTRAN-D, F, LIFT, HPF, UNICOS, and Vienna Fortran (VF).

A moderately reliable fortune file attributes the following substantially correct observation to Alan J. Perlis:

You can measure a programmer's perspective by noting his attitude on the continuing viability of FORTRAN.

Michael Neumann's extensive list of sample short programs in different programming languages includes four Fortran programs.

Fortran for Distributed-memory systems. A language extension described by Geoffrey Fox, Ken Kennedy, and others.


The introductory comments at the beginning of a book, directed to the reader and often written by a person different from the author of the book's main text, are not a ``forward.'' Forward is an adverb indicating direction. The word you want is the noun is


FORE...WORD, get it? A WORD (or two, metonymically speaking) beFORE.

If you want to think of the forepart of this word (fore) as a golf term, fine. Just don't write ``forward.'' If you still have trouble remembering how to spell the word correctly, use ``preface,'' or if that's too hard, just use prolegomena or prolegomenon.

Or mix and match! The following is presented as an existence demonstration, and not as an endorsement of any sort (other than of the spelling of the word foreword). My text is entitled Your Neighbor as Yourself (1997). (Actually, it has a double-colon title, with capitalization and punctuation inconsistent between cover and title page. What do you expect? It was published by the small-to-nonexistent Cross Cultural Publications, Inc.: CrossRoads Books, with a PO box in Notre Dame, Indiana. Setting aside the content, it's not a bad book considering that it obviously hasn't had the benefit of editing.) Anyway, about a dozen pages into the section titled Introduction, there's a collection of items entitled ``Introduction,'' compiled by Michael McLuhan (son of the famous Marshall McLuhan). The first item is a ``preface'' (by McLuhan -- the sixth and youngest child, by the way). The second item is in the form of a letter from John Kenneth Galbraith, containing remarks that he eventually decided to leave out of his book The Good Society. This is the ``foreword.'' The third item is a ``prologue'' by the author.

An English surname that arose from an Old English word for swineherd (the occupation): for (`hog, pig') + weard (with the meaning `guardian' and cognate with it, as with ward). The variant Forwood also occurs.

forward bias
Look under bias, silly!

for your convenience
For our convenience.

This expression is generally used in two ways. The original sense is simply a lie told to secure ``your'' cooperation. For example, if the traffic-court prosecutor calls and offers you a plea bargain ``for your convenience,'' so you can avoid the hassle of showing up in court, etc., it means that the cops in that jurisdiction are even less likely than usual to show up for a minor court appearance. This usage at least shows thought, and a minimal sort of transparent cunning.

Over time, a second usage has arisen, in which ``for your convenience'' is thoughtlessly used in lieu of explanation of something manifestly inconvenient for you. An excellent example of this is a reduction of office hours for your convenience.

And BTW, your call is important to us.

for your own good
For my own ego.

Feature of Size. It sounds backwards, doesn't it? I mean, you expect a feature to have a size, but what features might a size have?

Give up? Good choice. The term ``feature of size'' is not a term whose meaning is readily derivable from its component words and apparent syntax. It is simply, or not simply at all, a term defined within the language of geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T). A common definition seems to be ``one cylindrical or spherical surface, or a set of two opposed elements or opposed parallel surfaces, associated with a size dimension.''

A ``feature'' is defined through its plural: ``Features are specific component portions of a part and may include one or more surfaces, such, as [punctuation sic] holes, screw threads, profiles, faces or slots. Features may be individual or interrelated.'' Apparently some of these features are not ``associated with a size dimension.'' The word feature features in other parts of the GD&T language.

Figure Of Speech.

Full Of Stool. Medical acronym. You wonder whether this might be used to describe not only patients but clinicians.

It's okay in English to say that you are ``full'' after eating (though it's appreciated if you're not very specific about what you are full of). In German, it doesn't sound too good to say ``voll.'' Better say ``ich bin sat.''

For that matter, don't translate ``I am hot'' too literally either.

Federal Office Systems Exposition.

Fiber-Optic Strain Sensor.

This is the kind of ten-dollar word that you buy at bulk discount in after-Christmas sales and save for use the following Spring. It's a zoological term, usually applied to limbs, that means ``adapted for digging.'' So if you know that an animal burrows and has feet, you can fill your pretentiousness quota for the day by mentioning in an off-hand way that it has fossorial paws. If you're unsure of yourself, a good animal to say has fossorial forefeet is a mole, mentioned at the molectronics entry.) The most common English word cognate with fossorial is fossil, dig?

Field Operational Test.

Fiber-Optic Transceiver.

Future Of The Alliance. A series of US-ROK talks.

Force Over-the-Horizon Tactical Coördination.

Follow-on Operational Test and Evaluation. [Federalese.]

Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions of the United States and Canada. Founded in 1881 as a federation of national unions, following from an 1879 convention resolution of the International Typographical Union. See how important typography is? In 1886, Samuel Gompers of the Cigarmakers Union, and others, transformed this into the American Federation of Labor.

Fiber-Optic cable Transmission System.

A light plain-weave or twill-weave silky fabric (originally silk or a silk-cotton blend, now probably something synthetic), usually with a printed design. Or an article of clothing, typically a cravat, made of this fabric.

For Official Use Only.

Four A's
Associated Actors and Artistes of America.

Four Basic Food Groups
Cheese, peanuts, corn syrup, and artificial coloring. All meals and almost all foods contain these.

Truth to tell, they're all slightly acidic rather than basic. Incidentally, the first naturally occurring organic substance to be identified as a base was morphine.

[Football icon]

four zebras and ten yards of chain
Mensuration technology for US and even Canadian football.

The four zebras are a referee, umpire, linesman, and line judge, (in approximately that ranking, in cases where overlapping responsibilities require a pecking-order resolution). A back judge, field judge, and side judge may be added, usually in that order. The chain and down-marker crew is normally provided by the home team and supervised by the linesman (who is supposed to caution them, as ad hoc though junior members of the officiating crew, not to cheer or coach).

Field Of View. Have a look beyond the next entry.

Friend of Vladimir Putin.

  1. A small depression. (We're not talking dysphoria here, more topography.) From the Latin word with the same meaning and spelling, whoa!
  2. A small region in the center of the retina that has a high density of cones and no rods, and which provides high-acuity vision in the center of the eye's FOV. From the New Latin fovea centralis.

Field OXide (q.v.). Not the Fox you were looking for? Try this one.

fox hunting
  1. Hunting foxes.
  2. Hunting foxes of a, you know, nonvulpine sort -- vixens. It helps to be a good horseman.
  3. Locating hidden radio transmitters.

Fabry-Perot. Refers to the Fabry-Perot Interferometer, involving interference between signals or waves that follow paths that differ in the number of pairs of reflections they make in an essentially one-dimensional trajectory.

Fine pitch. Like maybe C flat. Or else center-to-center spacing of 32 mils or less.

No, no; just kidding. `Pitch' also has the meaning of spacing. Fine pitch means close spacing of repeated features (in microelectronic and nanoelectronic lithography, at least.)

Also: a strike, if yours is the team in the field.


Flat Pack (chip carrier). Implicitly, these have leads or pins only on two sides (cf. QFP).

FlavoProtein. Given the context, not likely often to be mistaken for similar-sounding fT.

Floating-Point. A kind of digital representation of real numbers that is essentially "scientific notation." Distinct locations or bits store the digits "in order" and the "decimal place." However, the radix (also called "base") is normally 2 instead of 10. That is, the number is stored as (A, B), and equals A × 2^B. Normally, "A" here is a binary fraction in the open interval ]0, 1[. This is convenient for the machine, but it is not quite the convention of scientific notion. It led to the use of an "E" format in Fortran that makes 1 appear as "0.1E+01." If you use formatted output statements, you can fix this in current versions of the Fortran compiler. If you don't have this problem with unformatted Fortran statements, the cause may be that you don't have a real Fortran compiler; you likely have an f2c translator followed by a C compiler. Good luck trying to format your output.

The alternative to floating point is fixed point. This is essentially an integer representation: one chooses a smallest storable value, and every number is represented approximately by an integer multiple of that small value. Monetary systems are like that.

Cf. mantissa.

Foreign Policy. ``Global Politics, Economics, and Ideas.'' Owned and published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. They favor authors who are political science professors in name universities or analysts in like-minded foundations, and once you know that there's nothing very surprising about their bias. They like to be contrarian, which is polite for ``generally pretty stupid, but on the up side: if we're ever right, we'll own the told-you-so franchise.'' One advantage of advocating policies no one in his right mind would heed is that no one can ever claim to have been misled by taking your advice.

The preceding judgments are relevance-weighted and guaranteed off by no more than about 8%.

Franchise Postale. French, `postage paid.' (For the appropriate sense of franchise, think Congressional ``franking privilege.'')

Financial Planning Association. They have a trademark motto ``I am FPA.'' If I were one, I suppose I could say I am a CFP and I am FPA.'' Then Gary, or Robert, or anybody, could say ``You're effpeeayed? You're effin' PO'ed at whom?'' Okay, it's a stretch.

There's a Financial Planning Association of Greater Indiana. Not ``Greater Indianapolis,'' mind you, but greater Indiana. It's an interesting notion. I suppose Niles, Michigan, could be part of greater Indiana, since it's part of the greater South Bend area, by some accounts. Then by similar reasoning, Gary, Indiana, would be part of greater Illinois. Probably what we should do is define Voronoi cells around the state capitals -- using a local version of the Manhattan metric, of course. I think it's also cool that the URL for this regional association contains the letters G-R-I-N-D.

Fire Protection Association. An organization in the UK.

Florida Philosophical Association. FPA publishes FPR.

Focal-Plane Array.

Formation professionnelle pour adultes. French, `professional development.' (Literal, approximate one-word-for-one-word translation: `professional education for adults.' Formation in French has a sense similar to Bildung in German.)

Franklin Pierce Adams. A star member of the famed Algonquin Round Table, and the one most responsible for its fame, since he would publish some of its members' most sparkling mots in his regular newspaper column, ``The Conning Tower.''

Flat-PAcK. See this FP.

Fabricants de produits alimentaires et de consommation du Canada. There's French for ya: food and consummation. Oh look, they changed the name. Now it's the PACC.

FPB, FPBri, FPBridge
Federação Paulista de Bridge. `São Paulo (Brazil) Bridge Federation.'

Faculty and Promotions Committee. At UB the formal rôle of this entity is to advise the dean on individual promotion, hiring, continuing appointment, and tenure decisions. I don't imagine it's very different elsewhere.

(US) Federal Power Commission. Power in the physical sense, and probably mostly electric power; not political power.

Federal (US) Preparedness Circular.

Federal Publishers Committee.

Flame Photometric (gas chromatograph) Detector. In German: Flammenphotometrischer Detektor.

Flat Panel Display.

Flat Panel Display Interface. VESA term.

The Florida Policy Exchange Center on Aging. Sounds like some sort of barter economy for old intellectual property.

Field-Programmable Gate Arrays. [``Gate'' here in the sense of logic gate gate (defn. 2).] A big step up the chain of complexity from PLD's and CPLD's. Much more general structure than sum-of-products (SOP) in PLD's. Correspondingly harder to program. (Programmers not free/cheap as with PLD's either.) The University of Idaho maintains an FPGA homepage.

Here's an FPGA links page.

Sometimes people call them Xilinx (pronounced ``zai links''), after the dominant maker of FPGA's.

The main functional components of an FPGA are an array of configurable logic blocks (CLB's), switch matrix blocks (SM's), and Input/Output Blocks (IOB's). The interconnect lines form a rectangular lattice with SM's at the intersections (where vertical and horizontal connect lines cross).

CLB's occupy the rectangular cells defined by the interconnect lattice, but are connected locally only to the four SM's at the nearest corners.

IOB's anchor the connect lines at the edges of the chip.

Fabry-Perot Interferomet{er|ry}.

Functional Process Improvement. [Federalese.]

Federal Poverty Line.

Field-Programmable Logic Arrays. Same as FPGA, unsurprisingly, since the gates in an FPGA are logic gates.

Franklin Pierce Law Center. In New Hampshire.

Front populaire de libération de la Palestine. French for PFLP

Future Public Land Mobile Telecommunication System[s].

Fast Page Mode. DRAM term.

(Military) Force Projection Model.

Fast Page Mode RAM. Explanation here.

FPMs, Fpms
Faculté Polytechnique de Mons. FPMs has a final-year exchange agreement with RUG and KUL.

Other schools in Mons: FUCAM, UMH.

Florida Performance Measurement System. Seems to be a set of criteria by which teachers' pedagogical competence is to be measured by an observer. This is an example of what social scientists call operationalizing a definition. That's a way of cloaking subjectiveness and prejudice in the mantle of objective science.

Field Post Office. Military post office. In the US military mail system, the eff in FPO stands only for Fleet (see below).

Final Public Oral. The oral defense of one's doctoral dissertation.

Once, over champagne after an FPO (I think it was Joe Abeles's), the most senior professor present (Prof. Rubby Sherr) was asked if anyone ever failed the FPO. He replied that once, one of his own students failed,

``because he was uncommunicative -- he fainted.''
It was never explained whether he fainted because he was uncommunicative, or whether his fainting was interpreted as a refusal to respond to questions. I always imagine a circle of professors standing over the prone form of the fallen Ph.D. candidate, saying things like ``Well, can't you estimate the cross section?''

Fleet Post Office. Term used by some English-speaking countries (US and Singapore, that I can google up quickly) for snail mail to naval installations. For the USPS, it has the specific role of a ``city'' code in military mail sent outside the US and Canada. For details of how this works, see the MPO entry.

Florida Philharmonic Orchestra. According to a defunct page (this one; happy?), the FPO was based in Fort Lauderdale and performed symphonic classical music in Boca Raton, Broward County, Miami, and Palm Beach. Southern Florida has a lot of nice orchestra venues, but FPO folded in 2003.

Central Florida has the Florida Orchestra, but this has no standard initialism, so it's impossible to include any information about it in this glossary. Oh wait -- it's ``TFO.'' Okay then. According to a footer I once saw on its webpages, ``[t]he Florida Orchestra [was] recognized as Tampa Bay's leading performing arts institution, one of the leading professional symphony orchestras in Florida, and one of the best regional orchestras in America.'' There was also a Central Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, apparently short-lived (2003-2004?), apparently formed in the Summer of 2001 out of the still-warm ruins of the Central Florida Symphony. I haven't sorted out the relations among all these symphonies, but their personnel picture is probably roiling.

Fluoro-phosphite ion. A bivalent anion. The abbreviation is just the chemical symbols of its formula (FPO3)=, minus the number and charge.

For Position Only. In the BC era, layout was done by hand. Now young feller, ``by hand'' means in the nonvirtual world, with the things attached to your wrists, not the pointing-finger icon. "Cut and paste" was done with scissors or razor or some other tool that actually physically severed an illustration or typewritten text from surrounding paper, and afterwards the illustration was affixed to the desired location with an adhesive. If the adhesive was too thick, the picture would slip, or not lay flat. If there wasn't enough adhesive, the picture would peel off. If your hands weren't clean you'd leave thumbprints on the paper. (Finally in the eighties some saint invented spray adhesive.)

Unlike figures dragged in an image application, paper figures did not automatically align with the axes of the document-- You listening, boy? Yeah? Okay, whaddidI say? Just what I thought! Listen, you snot-nose cyberweenie, I was designing double pentodes with a twelve-scale slide rule before you wet your first superabsorbent disposable diaper. Just because you're piling up the dough designing program interfaces don't mean you're so smart, you just picked a good time to get born.

Now where wuz I? Oh yeah, so there was a time when ``computer'' meant someone who used a calculator, and for a while after that, a ``page designer'' referred not to a computer application but only to a person. That person would lay out a page on paste-up boards, sort of like the graphics equivalent of a draft. Cheap, bad pictures could be used on the paste-up, since they were only there to help determine where the high-quality illustrations would go in the final layout. To avoid any mistake, the pictures in the paste-up were labeled ``FPO.'' You remember what that stands for?

Good, because it seems a lot of people didn't. They remembered what it meant, but not what it stood for, so they'd write stuff like ``For FPO'' or ''For FPO Only.'' This kind of thing happens a lot.

Federación Puertorriqueña de Policías. Spanish, `Puerto Rican Police Federation.' Un sindicato (`a union'). The police force in Puerto Rico had 17,000 members as of March 2000. As of January 2013, FPP doesn't seem to have a web page, but someone has set up Facebook page for it. This has over 2000 friends and likes Amorphic Pale music.

Floating-Point Processor. Like a food processor for numbers, divides them up, sticks them together, etc., very quickly.

Farmland Protection Policy Act.

Fine-Pitch (FP) Quad Flat Pack (QFP).

Fabry-Perot Resonator.

Florida Philosophical Review: The Journal of the Florida Philosophical Association (FPA). The link is provided for the convenience of philosophasters, philosophunculists, and earnest amateurs whom we pat gently on the head. Any competent philosopher can deduce the URL directly from first principles, using middle terms noticed while walking the dog this morning.

fps, FPS
Feet Per Second. 88 FPS = 60 MPH. You can't do that with metric units!

First-Person Shooter (game). A video game (like Doom) in which the display represents a field of play as seen through the eyes of a character. Essentially a three-dimensional maze game, viewed from inside.

Frames Per Second. Old movies were shot and shown at 16 or 18 fps; modern movies are shown at 24 fps. That's why old newsreels have a herky-jerky Mickey-Mouse look. When shown at 24 fps, a 16-fps movie represents motion sped up by a factor of 24/16 = 1.5. (All old movies have the effect, but with anything but newsreel it seems to be unacceptable, and extra frames are interleaved. For old newsreels, it seems to have become a kind of cinematic convention.)

The speed change came with the new projectors needed for sychronized sound. Synchronized sound was achieved by encoding the sound as a transparent line to one side of the images. The width of this line, or the amount of probe light it transmits, is the amplitude in an AM encoding.

Later, a second line was added for two-channel stereo. Intuitively, one might expect the two lines to correspond to the two channels. A major problem with this approach, however, is that old projector machines would have to play one or the other channel. Instead, stereo is encoded as sum and difference signals, with the sum signal located where the old monaural track was located and old projectors would play the sum signal. In stereo-capable projectors, the difference signal is separately added to or subtracted from a copy of the sum signal to produce two channels. A similar approach is used in radio, with the difference signal multiplexed at a distance in frequency (from the sum signal's center frequency) that is greater than the highest audible frequencies.

The AM scheme for talkies described above is analog encoding, and movies for general distribution still carry these sound stripes for backward compatibility. (Hence, two levels of backward compatibility are built in -- for analog stereo in the digital stereo era, and for mono in a stereo era.) The digital sound signal is encoded in packets along the line of sprocket-holes -- that is, between the sprocket holes.

Framing Pattern Sequence.

Free-Piston Stirling Engine.

Fine Pitch Technology. If this seems a completely unreasonable definition, perhaps it was F-T-P which you had in mind. In your slow mind. What a dolt! Everybody else knew about ftp before you even heard of the information superhighway. You are a hopeless technological incompetent; your colleagues laugh at you behind your back; your gene line has been selected for extinction. Take your watercolors and your slide rule and go play in the coffee room. This document probably had to printed out for you by a pitying coworker.

Floating-Point Unit. Or Floating-point Processing Unit.

When NexGen came out with a pentium clone (the Nx586), they only offered FPU as an option and focused on integer performance. They put their justification on the web. Their basic point is that FPU calls are rare in ``the most popular programs...''

There are two FPU's on a Pentium III, three on an AMD K7.

Federal Photovoltaic Utilization Program.

Flexural Plate Wave.

The Faerie Queene. An Early Modern English franchise that sold frozen fur treats. At least they didn't melt.

Fully Qualified Domain Name.

Fine-pitch Quad Flat Pack[age] (QFP).

Functorial Quantum Field Theory (QFT).

Federally Qualified Health Center. A health center approved by the government to give low-cost health care. Medicare pays for some health services in FQHC's that are not usually covered, like preventive care. [Of course Medicare doesn't cover preventive care. A penny saved on prevention is a penny earned.] FQHC's include community health centers, tribal health clinics [does that include the Cleveland Indians?], migrant health services, and health centers for the homeless.

Fractional Quantum Hall Effect. At low temperature, very-high mobility two-dimensional conductors have Hall angles of 90°. In particular, at certain magnetic fields the longitudinal resistivity approaches zero and the Hall or transverse resistivity approaches a rational multiple of h/e², where h is Planck's constant, and e is magnitude of the charge on an electron. The effect (FQHE) is less robust than IQHE (vide QHE).

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