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(Domain code for) Macau. (Also Macao.)


Managed Object.

Membership Organization.

MetalOrganic; organometallic.

Microelectronic Outline (package).

Microscope Objective.

Mo., MO
Missouri. USPS abbreviation is capitalized and has no period. Missouri and Tennessee (TN) each border eight states (including each other), more than any other state of the US.

The Villanova University Law School provides some links to state government web sites for Missouri. USACityLink.com has a page with mostly city and town links for the state.

The US WWII battleship Missouri was called ``Big Mo.'' At some point during a presidential campaign, George Bush exulted that he had the ``Big Mo,'' but he meant MOmentum.

Many of the illiterate early settlers of Missouri thought that the pronunciation /mizuri:/ was informal, like ``Caroliney'' for Carolina, and assumed that the proper pronunciation of the territory's name should end in shwa, like Carolina. That at least is the folk etymology of the standard Midwestern US pronunciation of the state's name.

However, an entry in a nineteenth-century encyclopedia, quoted in full at our American continent entry, apparently gives the name of the Missouri River as ``Misaures.'' This is presumably a French spelling (since French traders were the largest group of Europeans in the area, since France was the main colonial claimant of the territory until 1803, and since the word looks French, although in principle it could be, say, English or Spanish). If the appearance and presumption do not deceive, then the es at the end of the name is silent (as in Modern French) or shwa-like (as in older and dialectal pronunciations, I think). How does our hypothesis compare with hypotheses entertained in other reference works of comparable scholarliness? Well, the earliest instance of Missouri (dating to 1703, for the tribe) offered by the OED is in a translation from the French. The earliest names attested there for French are Ouemessourit (1673), Emissourita (1684), Emessourita (1702), and a plural Missouris (1687). I think they may have missed a parallel line of orthographic (and alternative pronunciation) development.


MO, m.o.
Modus Operandi. [Latin for `way of operating.'] Used to describe criminal technique.

Molecular Orbital.

Molybdenum. Atomic number 42. In the second period of transition metals. It's a very hard elemental metal to grind, but it's easy to shorten the name. It tends to end up being called ``molly.''

Learn more at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.


Measure[s] Of Adequacy.

Metal-Oxide surge Arrestor.

Microlensing Observations in Astronomy. A collaboration that uses gravitational microlensing to detect planets orbiting other stars. These are events in which a dim, massive compact object (a faint star will do) passes in front of a star-planet system. The nearer object bends light from the more distant system, serving as a kind of a divergent lens. Of course, we can only sample one ray coming through that lens from the partly occluded system, but because there is a relative proper motion of the stars, one has in effect a raster scan of one line of image information from the lens. Typically, information is gathered over the course of days to months. MOA is using the microlensing technique to search for planets that orbit at distances of 1 to 5 au from stars in the galaxy's bulge. As of 1998, about 50 events were being found per year that might be due to such planets. Those critical events -- anomalies in the intensity of light in the bent beam -- take place over the course of hours. MOA has also collaborated with MicroFUN and PLANET, which are similar groups.

Minutes Of Arc.

Massive Ordnance Air Burst. 21,000 pounds massive (gross weight). Nicknamed ``Mother Of All Bombs.''

We don't have a real Moab entry yet. Why not visit the Amman entry instead? That's close enough.

Main Operations Base. The status of South Korea in GPR. One level below Japan (PPH).

Museum Of Bad Art. In Boston, Mass. Featured, like too few others, in the MuseumSpot.com listing of Offbeat museums. Cf. MOMA.

MOdel-Based Integration of Embedded Software.

In wireless telecommunications, the word mobile implies more portable than ``portable.'' ``Portable'' refers to hand-held communications, hand-carried by pedestrians. ``Mobile'' means carried on board a rapid vehicle.

MOtherBOard. The (usually) metal board or drawer that holds the main electronics, including the CPU, on a personal computer.

Multiple Orbital Bombardment System. An SDI concept.

Managed Object Class[es].

Mint On Card. Term of art among Pezheads. See relevant entry from the local copy of Chris Sharpe's unofficial PEZ FAQ. Cf. MIB, MOMC.


Missouri (MO) Classical Association.

This is like Jazz: if you have to ask, you wouldn't understand.

MetalOrganic CVD. CVD (method and chamber) used for growing epitaxial layers of compound semiconductors. Typical semiconductors grown by the method are III-V compound semiconductors like GaAs, AlAs and AlGaAs, InGaAs, InP, etc.

Magneto-Optical Disk.

March Of Dimes. Originally created to raise money (in small -- dime -- contributions) for research to end polio. They moved on and found other causes when a vaccine against polio was invented.

MODulus. The absolute value of a real number, or the magnitude of some other mathematical object (complex number or vector).

MODulo. A rigorous definition is useful mostly for those who already learned it in another context. Basically, modular arithmetic is the arithmetic of remainders. Hence ``p mod q'' is the remainder on division of p by q -- 17 mod 10 = 7, 430 mod 3 = 1. When you consider only integer p and q you get an interesting mathematical structure, the rule of nines, all that.

modal logic
A formal system of logic that treats possibility explicitly rather than as an element in propositions themselves. Where traditional logic has the unary operator not, modal logic incorporates the additional unary logical operator possibly. If for some proposition A it is false that possibly not A, then it is easier to say (and one introduces an operator to say it) that it is true that necessarily A. Cf. tense logic, described at the PRIOR subentry. (No, not the prior subentry; just follow the link, okay?)

MOdulator-DEModulator. Rockwell Semiconductor Systems has an FAQ answers page.

Here's a list of links.

A personals-ad modifier applied to left-wing and right-wing, meaning either moderate or extreme. The universal situation is that people tend to discount as ``fringe'' any viewpoints sufficiently different from their own. Thus, once one moves sufficiently far to the left or right, one considers the vast majority of opinion (to one's right or left, resp.), ``fringe.'' I can hear you thinking: ``that's crazy, you have to be delusional, in denial.'' Yes, and what of it?

With a bit of parochialism and a judicious application of confirmation bias, the vast majority of people can think of themselves as squarely centrist. (Alas, as we moderate bien-pensants know too well, only crazy extremists get elected. They subvert democracy by deceiving the stupid majority that should be voting as we do. Democracy, you know, is an absolute good; it's just those damn voters that are the problem.)

In principle, as one drifts way out to the left or right (further if one lives in Berkeley or Idaho, resp.), it ought to become increasingly difficult to maintain the illusion that one is comfortably in the middle of the political spectrum. (I wouldn't know, since I'm a moderate.)

This mathematical issue (approaching a limit from one side -- sup = limsup, as they say) reminds me of religious school. My earliest these-people-are-imbeciles epiphany (that I can recall) was in fourth or fifth grade, when the principal came in to teach us a special lesson:

No matter how poor you are, there's always someone poorer.

I suppose the point must have been that if you're starving to death, you can Thank God that you're not as hungry as someone else who's closer to meeting The Almighty. One of those there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I things. On its face, this seems a bit questionable to me. I haven't studied theodicy, but I think this line of reasoning should quickly lead George Soros to curse his luck/stars/deity that he doesn't have Bill Gates's kind of money.

But set that aside. The brilliance of the always-someone-poorer claim is that it seals up a leak in the argument over on the low end of the socio-economic status variable: it makes Schadenfreude, or relative-satisfaction, or whatever, available to every last wretched human. The only problem, obvious to a ten-year-old, is that it can't be true.

A moving target, wouldn't you say?

modern era
There are many definitions, but a popular one is since 1500, or about since Columbus reached America. In other words, the era of modern history since the time that powerful new European nation-states with strong economies (first mercantilist, then capitalist) and advanced technologies began a broad program of imperialism that dramatically changed the face of the world. You could argue that the Portuguese got the ball rolling earlier, or that the picture is clouded by Ottoman power in Eastern Europe, or how the Zeitgeist changed, etc., etc., but it's useful to have established names for things, even -- or especially -- when you're going to argue about them, so say since 1500. Cf. modern times.

The literary response to modernity, mostly since the failed revolutions of 1848. Literature characterized by grumpiness, resentment, and arrogance. It features contempt of the author for his characters, focus of attention on artistic activity rather than focus of artistic activity on more interesting objects of attention -- a self-absorption carried to the extreme of solipsism. Few modernist masterpieces are studied in secondary school, because they are literary poison. Even fewer modernist masterpieces are studied in secondary school because they are literary poison.

Postmodernism is the transfer of all that heavy modernism baggage into literary criticism.

The social phenomena associated with industrialization and capitalism, occurring in modern times. Principal among these, the displacement of status by class (in the restricted sociological senses of those two words). That is, a movement from a social hierarchy based on birth and standing within public (religious, governmental) organizations and towards a hierarchy based primarily on wealth, and associated with greater social mobility. In the earlier hierarchies, wealth tended to be based on the rents from ownership of land and chattel (cattle, slaves, vassals ... speaking broadly here). In the hierarchies of modern times, wealth was more fluid -- in the form of money and transferable goods -- and resulted from commerce and industrial production.

In the US and England, the elites of status and class merged to a substantial degree through intermarriage and shifts of occupation, as high-status and upper-class groups each sought what the other had. In the US, this transition used the Episcopal church as a kind of vehicle or token. Late in the nineteenth century, Episcopal church membership in America grew by a factor of three and Episcopalians became for many decades the richest (per capita) denomination in the US. Henry VIII triumphed where George III was defeated. In England, of course, Anglicanism is the established church and church membership did not play the same role. In fact, today polls indicate that half of Britons regard themselves as Anglicans, but actual membership in the Anglican church is around three million (in a country of what, fifty million?). The US is a religious country to a degree that Europeans can hardly imagine. In a typical week, more than half the population of the US attends church.

Oh well, back to modernity. Most liberation and enfranchisement movements, and unionism, of course, are associated with modernity.

The industrial revolution began in England, and proceeded perhaps most smoothly there as a result. On the continent, industrialization began later, was more sudden, and was associated with various worker uprisings. Almost every European monarchy outside England was toppled by the end of WWI. (The Spanish and Greek monarchies were reëstablished by later conservative regimes.)

I haven't like, checked any references recently, so caveat lector.

modern love stories
In 1995, the Australian immigration office refused to grant permanent residency status to a resident of Buffalo, who the previous year had married an Australian she met on the Internet. Apparently guided by the Australian Department of Health, the immigration office requires her to lose 24 pounds before the couple can live happily together in Brisbane. I wonder if they've given any of those heavy weight-lifting Olympians a hard time in 2000.

Here are the lyrics to David Bowie's Modern Love, from a site in Australia. David Bowie is on the thin side.

modern school
As a technical term in UK education, described at the grammar school entry.

modern times
The era of advanced industrialization -- hence occurring at slightly different times in different places. Since the term refers primarily to the time of certain social transformations and upheavals as they occurred in Europe and North America, however, it is more or less the nineteenth century or the Victorian era, and some indeterminate interval since then, possibly reaching into the present.

Charlie Chaplin's movie Modern Times (1936) is the definitive statement on Modern Times. If you have not seen this hilarious yet touching movie, you are culturally destitute.

Modulation-doped FET. American-proposed name for HEMT (q.v.; still used but less common than ``HEMT'').

modified limited hangout
Soft obstruction of justice, a fall-back position when complete stonewall defenses are breached; a stage in the process of graceless resignation.

MODerate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer. Aristotle and Confucius both had a ``doctrine of the mean.''


MODerationS. An Oxford classics exam explained at the Greats entry. (I don't explain the origin of the name there. I'm not being coy, I just don't know it. Okay -- fail me! FAIL ME if you want!! I'm sick of studying.)

MODular Smell Identification Test. A standard twelve-item test.


modus vivendi
Latin, `way of living.'

Margin Of Error. The inverse square root of the sample size. Hence, with a sample of 1000, the MOE is 0.03162 or 3.162%. That's the origin of the famous ``3% margin of error.''

This figure of merit was created as a shorthand way of indicating the reliability of polling results to a statistically unsophisticated audience. It does have some basis in a more rigorous statistical analysis.

I will explain that later, but briefly for now: if the percentage you're trying to determine by poll is around 50%, then the margin of error is about equal to two standard deviations. Nineteen times out of twenty, the sample (actual polled) results will come within two standard deviations (the MOE, in this case) of the real (``universe,'' sample of the whole) percentage.

More generally, if the fraction you're trying to measure is p, where p is not necessarily 0.5, then the margin of error is larger than two standard deviations, and overestimates the chances that the measured result will be wrong. Instead, two standard deviations are smaller than MOE by a factor of the square root of 4p(1-p). (Notice that for p=0.5, the correction factor is unity.) So if the number you're trying to measure is 0.01, and your poll samples 1000, then 2 S.D. equals about 0.0063. These numbers describe a rather skewed binomial distribution that is not too well approximated by a Gaussian. Roughly speaking, though: if, say, an unbiased poll finds that exactly 1% of respondents (ten of 1000) support a candidate, then the chances that the real support is 1.5% or higher are rather poor.

Two important issues I really ought to come back to: sources of bias and the fact that the S.D. estimate is really an estimate of an estimate.

Measure[s] Of Effectiveness.

Ministry Of Economic Affairs. The Government of Taiwan has one as well as a Ministry of Finance.

Micro-Opto-Electro-Mechanical (systems).

Micro-Opto-Electro-Mechanical System[s]. More at the plain old MEMS entry.

Microstructured Optical Fiber.

Ministry Of Finance of Japan. Sort of like the Department of the Treasury, House Ways and Means Committee and the Federal Reserve Bank all rolled into one, and anyone with any fear of the electorate locked out.

Ministry Of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

Mohr's Stress Circle
An early form of group therapy invented by the German engineer Mohr in 1882, alright? I wonder if he's related to C. F. Mohr (1806-1879)?

Or maybe something to do with the Coulomb-Mohr Criterion (CMC)? Nah.

Bulk mechanical stress is described locally by a symmetric 3x3 tensor. (Pressure is the trace of this tensor, but you don't need to know that right now.) It is convenient to represent the six independent components of the stress tensor by a six-component vector. Stress is related, in the first place, to strain. (Remember: stress is a generalized force, strain is a generalized displacement.) For more on strain in the psychotherapeutic context, see the shoulds entry.

You know, one day I may get serious about this entry, but it will probably be too late for you.

Mohs's Hardness Scale
There is an empirical law that the ability to scratch is not symmetric. That is, if an edge or point of one material can make a scratch in the surface of another, then a point or edge of the second material cannot scratch the first. It is also true to a good approximation that given any two materials, one can scratch the other. (We will not examine the question of whether a material can scratch itself. If this is a problem for you, just use one of those long-handled things.) These rules should evidently apply best to homogeneous materials that are close to isotropic in their properties, so they don't have a ``softer'' side, but they have been applied with consistent success to crystalline materials.

To the extent that the above empirical rules hold, they imply the existence of a hierarchy or ordering of materials, from soft to hard. Friedrich Mohs invented a scale that numbers points along that ordering. Later the scale was ``extended.'' In the table below, we list some materials and their hardness numbers on the old and new scales.

Mohs Hardness Scales


Mohs Hardness

Extended-scale Hardness

Liquid 1
Talc 1
Gypsum 2 2
typical fingernail 2-3, nominally 2.5
Calcite 3 3
Fluorite 4 4
Apatite 5 5
typical stainless steel 5-6
Orthoclase Feldspar 6 6
ordinary glass ~<6.5
Ferric Oxide (``red rouge'') 6.5
Vitreous Fused Silica (noncrystalline) 7
Quartz (crystalline silica, SiO2) 7 8
Cerium Oxide 8
Topaz 8 9
Chromium Oxide (``green rouge'') 8.5
Garnet 8-9 10
Fused Zirconia 11
Fused Alumina (Al2O3) 12
Corundum (ruby, sapphire, Al2O3) 9
Fused Silicon Carbide (SiC, carborundum) 9.5
Silicon Carbide (SiC, carborundum) 13
Fused Boron Nitride (BN) (hexagonal) 9.7
Boron Nitride (BN) (hexagonal) 14
Cubic Boron Nitride (CBN) 9.9
Diamond 10 15

Eric offers a mnemonic. Another is ``The Geologist Can Find An Ordinary Quartz -- Tourists Call Diamond.'' Yet another is ``Terrible Giants Can Find Alligators Or Quaint Tigers Conveniently Digestible.'' I suppose you could mix-and-match: mnemonic, whatever they call that game.

Visit a nice gemcutting site. Alternatively, you could take a walk and check out Kingzett, Charles Thomas: Kingzett's Chemical Encyclopedia: a Digest of Chemistry & its Industrial Applications, ed. D. H. Hey and others (London: Baillière, Tindell and Cassell, 9/e 1966).

I should probably warn you ahead of time that this entry is just a pointless vent, and of no conceivable use to you.

The main computer cluster at FitzPatrick Hall has four rooms that were traditionally dedicated to Unix boxes. These were known as the philosophers', composers', artists', and writers' rooms, and the machines in the rooms have been named accordingly. Thus, starting from the northeast corner (in the philosophers' room -- the smallest) and going along the north wall, the first four machines were named aquinas, aristotle, augustine, and averroes. (Well, it's a Catholic school.) It was a sensible mnemonic scheme. The names weren't always written on the machines, but if you were on a nearby machine you could guess or remember its name from the hint of its relative location and from your own deeply integrated knowledge of the alphabet. This was convenient for networking and almost essential for reporting a sick machine.

One Summer some years ago, some officious geniuses came over from IT and replaced the old generation of workstations with a new one. They preserved all the old machine names in each room, but the exotic little subtlety of their being in alphabetical order was overlooked. After a few more years and another generation of machines, it occurred to someone to do something about the situation, or perhaps it just took that long to work its way through channels and so forth. I guess it would have been too much to hope that the names would be unscrambled. I suppose they reasoned that lugging and interchanging all those identical machines would be too difficult. (``Rename the machines,'' you say? I'm sure that requires a hardware upgrade.)

Instead, a work-study was detailed to go around and log in to each machine in turn and find out the machine name and to print out a label on a label printer, and apply said label to each machine in an appropriate way. This was a good and admirable thing, and could have been handy even in the good old days. A few days later he was detailed to do it again, but this time using labels that didn't peel off on their own. So for a while there, the improvements were coming fast on each others' heels.

There the situation has sat for a few years. Today I happened to walk into the composers' room and log in to a free machine. So here I am sitting between schubert and berlin (hey -- ``White Christmas''!) at a machine with the unfamiliar name of mohler. Pursuing my suspicion, I checked around and confirmed that in a room that has space to honor such relatively dim lights as Bernstein and Foster, there is no machine named in honor of Gustav Mahler. Now, I haven't been in here often enough to be sure, but it seems to me that there used to be a machine named mahler, and I think I know what happened to it.

So to summarize: first the machines had to receive labels because it was too hard to rename the machines, as if assigning aliases is something you only do once, like infant baptism. Then, when it was the turn of a new generation of machines to be baptized, the name of a famous composer was misread and became attached to one of the machines. Finally, when the last generation of machines was installed, the names on the printed labels took precedence over any electronic listing of machines. Progress marches on.

Main d'oeuvre immigrée. A French phrase meaning `immigrant manpower,' and the title of the immigrant section of the French Communist Party (PCF) in the 1930's and of the FTP after that was formed.

Mars Orbital Insertion. ``Men are from Mars.''

`Me' in French. Pronounced ``mwah.'' Yes, that does sort of suggest an unhealthily high degree of amour-propre.

In French, the predicate of the copula is universally accepted to be in the oblique case. That is, expressions parallel to ``it is I'' are not over-correct, they're just wrong. Hence Louis XIV's famous ``L'état c'est moi.'' (`The state [France] is me.')

Cocaine or heroine, according to this extensive list of drug slang. I thought it was marijuana. This could lead to some serious overdosing -- a bad trip, one-way to the morgue. No wonder they color-code the stuff.

There was a case in Georgia (GA) a number of years ago where a state trooper mistook a bag of oregano for marijuana.

Magic, or voodoo or hoodoo, and related specific meanings. See a more careful online definition from Merriam-Webster. A West African origin has been suggested in such words as Gullah moco. In Spanish, moco means `snot.' Like you really needed to know. In many Spanish-speaking countries, mocoso is slang for tike.

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999), the second juvenile movie in a series starring Mike Meyers, uses mojo to refer either to his libido or his attractiveness to women, or maybe that's the same thing, which Dr. Evil uses a time machine to go back to 1969 to steal from him, but which he somehow manages not to miss until recently.

A mojo is a charm worn on one's person (or, in mountain biking slang, affixed to one's bike).

In the Yardbirds song ``I Ain't Got You,'' a mojo and many other advantages are implicitly inefficacious in getting you.

MOo, Java-Oriented. A small collaboration working on a big project, apparently. There's a Mojo Developer's List.

Mother Jones, a muckraking magazine. (Also MJ.) Amusingly, their URL is http://www.mojones.com/. In Spanish, mojones means `wetters.' (Okay, http://www.motherjones.com/ works too, but it's not as amusing.) See also Mojon.

Spanish, `I wet.' Can be used reflexively, but me mojo means both `I get myself wet' and `I wet myself.' None of this has anything to do with Mrs. Thatcher's notion of a wet. She was known as the Iron Lady; she didn't want to get rusty.

(Me mojó means `[he, she, or it] got me wet.')

Of course, in all common dialects of Spanish, ``j'' has an aitch sound.

The family name of father and son chemists. Benito, the father (born 1732), was an apothecary at the college at Alcala before moving to Genoa. An apothecary is what we call a pharmacist today, and what in Britain is still widely called a chemist. There must be something to that; Benito Mojon became a professor of chemistry at the University of Genoa, and his son Giuseppe (1772 or 1773-1837) succeeded him. The son eventually rose to become president of the faculty there. Giuseppe Mojon was known for his experiments in ``medical electricity.'' He wrote a chemistry textbook that became a popular standard in its time and went through four editions.

This surname is very different from the word mojón, which means `[bed] wetter.'

Mojo Risin, Mr.
A lyric used mantra-like in a Doors song (``LA Woman''). An anagram of band leader Jim Morrison's name. This was absolutely not an allusion to any other sense of the word mojo. Rock music is completely free of irony, intentional or otherwise (see, for example, the deconstruction entry). I don't know how Mojo Nixon (vide Motorist) came by his moniker -- probably it's a tribute to President Nixon (RMN), who inspired a number of rock songs, such as David Bowie's Young Americans (1975). Who knows? I don't. Probably someone does. Move on.

Speaking of names -- Paul Revere, of Paul Revere and the Raiders, got his name on his original birth certificate. Paul Revere and the Raiders did a cover of ``Louie, Louie'' in 1963, around the same time, and in the same studio, as the Kingsmen did their cover. It became a monster hit on a slow fuse for the Kingsmen. They didn't know the lyrics exactly, so they winged it; some people started to suspect that it was subversive. Eventually, the Kingsmen testified before a Congressional committee. You wonder if a band named after a Revolutionary War hero would have come under suspicion in similar circumstances. Maybe. The FBI concluded that the Kingsmen's recording, played forwards or backwards at any speed, was incomprehensible.

The song was originally written and recorded by Richard Berry in 1956, and it was a local (i.e., Seattle area) favorite for a while. (This was back in the days when there was such a thing as regional programming.) The song is the story of a lovesick sailor telling his bartender (Louie) how much he misses his girlfriend back home. Home is Jamaica, whose exotic accent presumably justifies any strange-sounding words or word-like sounds. For more Jamaica-related linguistic lapses, see the Van Morrison material discussed under this Cleveland BROWNS item.

With some dramatic license, the 1978 National Lampoon movie Animal House was based on the experiences of Chris Miller, Dartmouth '62, at the outlaw frat Alpha Delta. One of the liberties taken was using the Kingsmen's version of this song, which wasn't released until 1963.

In 1998, the (surviving) Kingsmen won a major suit for unpaid royalties on the song since 1968. Actually, it was really only a moral victory; if you check out the details, I think they still got shafted. The band is still in business (their domain name is <louielouie.org>), though over the decades since they were founded (in 1959), there's been a lot of turnover (listed here). As of early 2008, they still have one of the original members, and one from 1963.

Richard Berry's band was called Richard Berry and the Pharaohs. More famous was Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, which had a hit in 1965 with ``Wooly Bully.'' They performed in turbans and bedsheets.

The ending theme song for the TV sitcom WKRP also has incomprehensible lyrics, because it was originally recorded as a warm-up ``scratch tape,'' and the singers are just singing gibberish. (More at the unofficial WKRP site.)

The Rolling Stones also had a song about Louie, but it was a different Louie.

Magneto-Optical Kerr Effect.

(Association for the) Mathematics Of Language. A SIG of the ACL.

(NASA's) Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter. It's an instrument on the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS).

Museum Of Latin American Art. ``[F]ounded by Dr. Robert Gumbiner in November 1996. It is the only museum in the Western United States that exclusively features contemporary Latin American art.''

MOLECular eLECTRONICS. Oh, clever. Ugly neologism perpetrated by DARPA types. It ought to be the apparatus for electrocuting (for their fur) small velvety-furred insectivorous burrowing mammals (family Talpidae) found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. (I didn't want this to be an entirely uninformative entry.)

Mole Day
The day (June 2, or some other day but at 6:02; February 6 in some places) that high-school chemistry classes explore the mysterious secrets of Avogadro and that thing on Cindy Crawford's cheek that prevents her from being attractive. In order to clarify the concept, high school chemistry teachers since the dawn of time have used nontraditional learning materials like songs. Here's one of the least unbearable (to the tune of `Happy Birthday'):

Happy Mole Day to you,
You live in a zoo.
Your mother's a rodent
Your father's one too.

At this site you can download a recording of the line ``Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberry!'' and other memorable clips from Monty Python And The Holy Grail. Smelt is a fish, but not in the previous sentence.

Y'know, I still lose sleep every night wondering if guinea pigs are really rodents or not. I wish they would settle this pressing question.

MOscow LINK. The contraction is an informal name for the (Washington-Moscow) Direct Communication Link. The famous ``Hot Line.''

For more information, see the Encyclopedia of Arms Control and Disarmament, ed. Richard Dean Burns (NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, Toronto: Maxwell Macmillan Canada, etc., 1993). Volume II has an article by Webster A. Stone, ``The Hot Line: Washington-Moscow Direct Communications Link, 1963 to the Present,'' pp. 847-853. The hot line agreements are excerpted in Vol. III.

Minority On-Line Information System.

molly, moly
Widespread slang for Molybdenum (Mo). Pronounced like the woman's nickname ``Molly.''

Minnesota Organization of Leaders in Nursing.

Moltke's Law
What can be misunderstood will be misunderstood. Soldiers' wisdom.


Motive, Opportunity and Means. The canonical order, with a certain logic, is ``motive, means, and opportunity.'' MOM is certainly a time-honored basis of crime investigation, but it is not a principle of law. At least, the prosecution is never required to offer, let alone demonstrate, a motive. On the other hand, the absence of a plausible motive normally weakens the prosecution case.

Museum Of Modern Art. In New York City. Also ``the Modern.'' Cf. MOBA.

Aw, momma, can this really be the end? To be stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again!

A thought just occurred to me that there is no conceivable appropriate place to insert. If this were the appropriate place, then I'd just go right ahead and comment that in a photograph showing him at a reception at the MOMA in November 2005, Prince Charles looked like Dagwood Bumstead.

MetalOrganic Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE using metalorganic sources). [Pronounced both as initials and as ``Mom-bee.''] Cf. Mamba.

Mint On Mint Card. Term of art among Pezheads. See relevant entry from the local copy of Chris Sharpe's unofficial PEZ FAQ. Cf. MIB, MOC.

A unit of time in medieval reckoning, equal to one fortieth of an hour. (I reckon that'd be ninety seconds.) Here, for your reading pleasure, are some examples of use from Byrhtferð's Enchiridion (at II. iii. 108 in the copy of the Ashmolean)
Nu gecyðað we þæt on þam dæge beoð nigon hund and syxtig momenta. Momentum ys gewyss stow þære sunnan on heofenum; þonne he byð feowertig siðon gegaderod, þonne gefylleð he ane tid, and he ys gecweden for þæra tungla hwætnysse momentum (þæt ys styrung).

The word did not survive Old English in this form, at least in old England; it became moment in Middle English, and sometime early in the seventeenth century that form ceased to refer to a precise interval. Also in that century the word momentum was reborrowed from Latin and used primarily in technical senses related to mathematics and physics. You could say momentum regained momentum then, but I wouldn't perpetrate such a vile pun.

The momentum or moment was also defined in medieval times (had to say that) as one tenth of a point, and the point as a quarter of an hour... usually. Sometimes the point was a fifth of an hour. A fifth of an hour would have been two minutes. The whole melange, according to the most common definitions:

1 hour = 4 points = 10 minutes = 15 degrees or parts = 40 moments

Notice that there were 360 degrees in a day. I hadn't realized that England got that hot.

Mo-Mo, mo-mo
MOnoamniotic MOnochorionic. The amnion and the chorion are, respectively, the innermost and outermost membranous sacs enclosing the embryo in higher vertebrates. (That includes mammals, reptiles, and birds, and I suppose dinosaurs as well -- what could be higher?) Pretty much by definition then, monoamniotic twins are mo-mo twins.

Fetuses that develop from separately fertilized eggs always have separate chorions (are dichorionic, in the case of twins). So fraternal and half-identical twins are never monochorionic, let alone monoamniotic. The incidence of monochorionic or monoamniotic twins depends on when the original single zygote splits. Generally, earlier is better. In about a third of identical-twin pregnancies, splitting occurs within the first 3 days following fertilization; in these cases the twins are usually dichorionic. In the majority of cases, splitting occurs between 4 and 8 days; at this stage, splitting produces monochorionic twins that are nevertheless diamniotic. That is, each fetus has its own amnion (more commonly called amniotic sac). If splitting occurs more than 8 days after fertilization, the twins typically share a single amnion (why should I be common?), and this is a bad thing for them, or at least for one of them. If splitting occurs after 12 days, then there is a high risk of conjoined twins.

Monoamniotic twins occur in less than one percent of identical-twin pregnancies. As twin ``diagnosis'' occurs increasingly early, and as the membrane normally separating two fetuses is hard to image early, there is an increasing number of needlessly worried expectant parents. <Monoamniotic.org> is a support group for parents diagnosed with monoamniotic twins and for parents of monoamniotic twins. Their experience is that 40% of couples who find their group eventually (sometimes as late as the 24th week of pregnancy) learn that they were misdiagnosed.

A Greek god (name more carefully transliterated as Mômos) whose name is related to the noun momphê, `blame, censure.' According to Hesiod, he was the son of Nyx (`Night'). Those Greeks had the whole spectrum of human and divine behaviors scoped out. Momos was the paradigmatic carping jerk, and stories about him typically ended in his being banished. He is better know today as ... no wait -- let me lie, and say he is better known by the Latin form of his name: Momus. (This was once apparently true, but I don't think he's well-known today by any ancient name.)

Multi-Owner Maintenance SPIDER. A ``web-roaming robot that specializes in the maintenance of distributed hypertext infostructures (i.e. wide-area webs). The program is written in Perl and, once customized for your site, should work on any Unix-based system with Perl 4.036.''

MObile MUltimedia Communication. Abbreviation also used for an international workshop.

See Momos.

Monoceros. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation.

MONongahela. A river that runs north and joins the Allegheny River to form the Ohio River at Pittsburgh. [It had been my understanding, evidently incorrect, that rivers were named like alkanes, with the longest possible extension (of water, in this case) having a common name and the branches off of this having their separate names (presumably named according to the same principle). That's the reason that the Mississippi-Missouri is said to be misnamed, and that the length of ``the Nile'' is the distance along the Nile and the White Nile combined. In fact, the Iroquois regarded the Allegheny and Ohio as one river.]

The Monogahela is often described as flowing ``due north.'' This is sort of true if you smooth out meanders on a scale of ten miles. The small city of Donora occupies an oxbow of the Monongahela about 18 or 19 miles south of Pittsburgh. On Halloween 1948 (and on the preceding day, which happens to be widely known as mischief night), one of the worst disasters ever caused by industrial air pollution in the US took place in Donora.

Motor Octane Number.

A mountain or high hill in the middle of otherwise generally level terrain. The word looks like it ought have something to do with the Greek root mono- (for `one'), but it doesn't. The word is an antonomasia of Mount Monadnock, a mountain located mostly within the town of Jaffrey, in southwestern New Hampshire. The name of that mountain is of American Indian origin.

In chapter CXXXV (``The Chase -- Third Day'') of Moby Dick, Herman Melville wrote

At length as the craft was cast to one side, and ran ranging along with the White Whale's flank, he seemed strangely oblivious of its advance---as the whale sometimes will---and Ahab was fairly within the smoky mountain mist, which, thrown off from the whale's spout, curled round his great, Monadnock hump; he was even thus close to him; when, with body arched back, and both arms lengthwise high-lifted to the poise, he darted his fierce iron, and his far fiercer curse into the hated whale.

From this sentence, or a bit of it, or from the Mount Monadnock link above, you might infer that Mount Monadnock does not rise very abruptly. This is in fact correct, so the mountain is popular for hiking rather than mountain-climbing. Among the hikers who have climbed it are Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Rudyard Kipling. In 1845 Emerson wrote a very long rhyme about it entitled ``Monadnoc.'' Here's a typical example of that dross:

Monadnoc is a mountain strong,
Tall and good my kind among;
But well I know, no mountain can,
Zion or Meru, measure with man.

I wish I could add something here about Leibniz.

A synonym of monadnock is inselberg, which is a German compound meaning `island mountain.' In German the word is spelled with a capital I, not because it's a proper noun but because it's a noun.

Monday Holidays
I'm not sure exactly when the practice began, but I guess it was a Monday.

A misheard lyric. The term was coined by Sylvia Wright in a November 1954 Harper's Magazine article (that'd be vol. 209, no. 1254, pp. 48-51) entitled ``The Death of Lady Mondegreen.'' She explained that when she was a child, her mother would read to her from Percy's Reliques, and one of her favorite poems was the one she remembered beginning
Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands
Or, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl Amurray,
And Lady Mondegreen.
This was, as she learned years later, the Scottish ballad ``The Bonny Earl of Murray'' and the last line is supposed to go
and laid 'im on the green.

Rock music has been a great boon for mondegreens, but religious and patriotic stuff taught to children is a great traditional source. In the 90's, the San Francisco Chronicle's Jon Carroll devoted a score of his Daily Datebook columns to mondegreens (first mondegreen column: April 23, 1990, p. F10).

We have some mondegreen examples at the beginnings of the enema entry (with a link to a misheard-lyrics archive for Van Halen songs) and the deconstruction entry. For more mondegreens, see ``The Ants Are My Friends,'' ``Mind the greens!'' and the misheard lyrics archives <kissthisguy.com>, and Am I Right.

A search on the web will turn up a couple of widely repeated improbabilities.

  1. Claim: Sylvia Wright published an article on mondegreens in the Atlantic Monthly, in 1954 or in the 1950's.

    Test: I personally checked the author indices of all the bound volumes of Atlantic Monthly for the years 1941 to 1966. I found only one article under the name Sylvia Wright, entitled ``Chowder Is Out!'' It was published in the November 1957 Atlantic, pp. 255-256. It is an extended protest against The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, by Fannie Merritt Farmer. This seems to have been a life-long obsession of hers (vide infra).

    The Atlantic and Harper's are similar magazines, easily confused. I imagine that someone remembered that Wright's article appeared in 1954 but misremembered the journal, and that this error was the origin of the claim. Afterwards, the error was propagated faithfully by the internet. Indeed, this very august glossary that you are reading was one of the mistaken propagaters of this claim until early June 2001.

  2. Claim: Sylvia Wright published two or more articles on mondegreens in the 1950's.

    Test: I personally checked the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature for January 1929 to February 1981 (vols. 8-40). (I skipped the book review listings when they began to be a separate section; I ignored Sylvia Hart Wright, a writer on architectural and civil engineering matters.) The first publication listed under the name Sylvia Wright was a piece that appeared in Harper's Magazine in December 1952 (pp. 29-32), ``Get Away From Me With Those Christmas Gifts.'' That piece was excerpted in Vogue (June 1956, pp. 84-5). The last item I found was in the March 1975 Harper's, a letter on pp. 6-7, in the ``Wraparound.'' In that letter she recalls that many years previous she had published in Harper's an article called ``How to Make Chicken Liver Pâté Once.'' She mentions Fannie Farmer's cookbook. A note after the letter says

    Sylvia Wright is now at work on a book about the island of Chios.

    It's possible she published on mondegreens in a magazine not indexed by the Reader's Guide, though I doubt it.

For more investigative etymological reporting, see the Pakistan entry.

Monegasque, Monegasquan
Of, from, or pertaining to Monaco. It's surprising that it hasn't come to mean ``pertaining to bed-hopping Eurotrash.''

MObile interNET for military application.

Monist, The
An International Quarterly Journal of General Philosophical Inquiry.

Spanish, `monkey.' The etymologies of both the English and the Spanish word are uncertain, though they are regarded as probably cognate.

Monoaural or monophonic: sound information stored or transmitted in a single channel, as opposed to stereo.

The traditional meaning of monaural is ``one ear'' (as an attributive noun -- adjective -- only). The traditional meaning of monophonic is ``one melodic line'' (adj.).

MONOnucleosis. Called the ``kissing disease'' because of the folkloric belief that it is transmitted that way. The folkloric belief is correct. (Any saliva transfer will do, on toys for example. Blood transfusion can also do it.) Knocks you out with weariness for up to a month, but YMMV. Great disease to make you feel worthless. A couple of days after the prodromic period of malaise and fatigue, the fever begins. Various things distend: ``glands'' (lymph nodes), tonsils and pharynx, spleen (~50% incidence).

Mono is caused by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) after an incubation period of 15-50 days. Most people have been infected by the time they're 40, but only a minority develop the disease. It's thought of as a disease of young adults because the symptoms in infants and children are milder. In any case the diagnosis is difficult, so mild cases can be mistaken for a common cold. If you're planning to get sick, don't just jump into any disease. You should at least consider coming down with an outer-ear infection.

One-eyed. You can't imagine what a triumph it is to discover this word. Speakers of Spanish who regularly use English frequently ask each other what the English word for tuerto is. Now I have two terms that don't quite fit the bill, instead of one.

Tuerto is the Spanish word with the meaning `able to see with one eye only.' That is, either blind in one eye or with one of two eyes put out. It's not exactly the same thing as one-eyed, since a Cyclops is one-eyed but not tuerto. Apart from the semantic misalignment however, another difference is that tuerto is an honest-to-God word and a perfectly common one, whereas one-eyed is a compound, forever consigned to the indignity of a hyphen by the silent e of one.

A topless bathing suit introduced by designer Rudi Gernreich in 1964. The name uses the Greek prefix mono- (`single, one') in a play on the word bikini (in which bi sounds like, though it is not, the Latin prefix for `double, two').

Having one tongue. That is, capable of being deceived by forked tongues speaking in only one tongue.

P.J. O'Rourke seems to agree with this view. In an article (``My E.U. Vacation: What I learned reading the European constitution on a French beach in the Caribbean'') that appeared in the Weekly Standard (June 3, 2005), he wrote

Actually, I claim that there's a tremendous journalistic advantage to covering politics when you can't speak the language. You aren't misled into reporting what people say; you're forced to report the inexorable truth of what people do.

In the New York Times Magazine for December 1, 1996, accompanying an interview of 1996 Literature Nobelist Wislawa Szymborska, is the first appearance in English translation of

The Three Oddest Words (1996)
When I pronounce the word Future,
the first syllable already belongs to the past.

When I pronounce the word Silence,
I destroy it.

When I pronounce the word Nothing,
I make something no nonbeing can hold.

Heterologicality is a linguistic phenomenon. Critical acclaim is a social phenomenon.

Monroney sticker
See AIDA. Heck, vide Aïda as well.

Monte Video
Sorry. Perhaps you were thinking of Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay (.uy).

Montezuma's revenge
Really stuck it to the Habsburgs. Maximillian, younger brother of Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz Josef, reigned as Emperor of Mexico from 1864 until 1867, when he was executed by a firing squad in Mexico. Franz Josef's other brother, Archduke Karl Ludwig, died in 1896 from some illness contracted from bad water he drank while on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. For more on the travails of Franz Josef, see the nomen-est-omen subentry for Gavrilo Princip.

Miami MOO.

MUD, Object-Oriented. Name is applied both to a programming language for creating MUD's (that is, for creating a game of rooms, exits, objects, etc.) and to the resulting game itself. MOO's allow for real-time conferencing in an environment in which you can move around, manipulate objects, and communicate with other users in various ways.

For an example, visit the VRoma MOO (you can log in immediately as a guest), part of the VRoma educational project, or MiamiMOO.

Massive Open Online Course.

Clement Clarke Moore was a prominent Protestant theologian in the early nineteenth century, a rich farmer in midtown Manhattan, and author of the leading Hebrew dictionary of his day.

In 1822, he turned his writing skills to a short poem for the information of his children. In this work, entitled ``A Visit From Saint Nicholas,'' Moore established most of the few facts we know with any accuracy about this annual phenomenon. For example, he fixed the date of the visit as the eve of Christmas, rather than Dec. 5, the eve of Saint Nicholas's Day. His 28 rhyming couplets, the first beginning

'Twas the night before Christmas
did not include footnotes, but his report has generally been regarded as authoritative.

It must have achieved a samizdat vogue; it was already considered a classic in 1860, when the report was reprinted in the journal Harper's Weekly, with new graphics by the journalist Thomas Nast. Thomas Nast is best known today for his zoological work, preparing illustrations of Equus asinus Democraticus and Elephas Republicanus (g.o.p.) beginning in 1874. It was Nast who established that Saint Nicholas was pathologically obese, but the chimney-passage question was not immediately reexamined. Nevertheless, it may be noted that only a few decades later, tunneling by bare and dressed particles became a widely accepted violation of classical physical law.

I haven't had a chance to update the entry (I don't have Santa's superluminal freight sled; I'm slow), but I figured I ought to at least mention this: In October 2000, Vassar English professor Don Foster brought forward substantial evidence that Moore was a plagiarist: that he fraudulently claimed authorship of this poem, and that it was probably the work of Henry Livingstone.

Moore's Law
The observation by Gordon E. Moore, in 1964, that the number of transistors on a chip was increasing by a factor of two per year. He made this observation only six years after the first integrated circuits were produced. (In 1968, Moore cofounded Intel with the late Bob Noyce.) Since the late 1970's, the doubling time has been about 18 mos.

A number of similar exponential processes (such as size of largest known prime) may be regarded as consequences.

Any similar law of exponential improvement in semiconductor engineering is also often called a Moore's Law. (See, however, Grove's Law.) Recently, Moore pronounced a second law: that every generation of microprocessor requires a fab (fabrication facility) that costs twice as much as the previous. As of 1996, a new fab cost around a billion US$. Cf. Joy's Law and Rent's Rule.

Major Object-Oriented SQL Extensions.

MOOTW, mootw
Military Operations Other Than War.

Massive Ordnance Penetrator. In profile, it looks like a wood nail with winglets, but it's larger. It weighs 13,600 kilos and can destroy 25% of its targets in bunkers buried beneath 60 meters of reinforced concrete, a depth greater than any other bomb of its type.

Measure[s] Of Performance.

Ministry Of Planning. On second thought, make that the ``Ministry of Planning and Development.'' Uh... have we gone to press yet? No? Okay then, make that ``Ministry of Planning, Development, Environment & Housing.''

Your own natural hair, and plenty of it. A rug is not your own natural hair, and plenty of it. You don't apply a rug to a mop, any more than you apply a mop to a rug.

Hamburger Morgenpost.

Middle Of the Road. In music: moderate, inoffensive, anodyne.

Museum Of Reconstructions. Three-dee reconstructions by computer, raytrace images.

Mordecai Richler
Unanswerable questions still surface at parties.
    ``What kind of novels do you write?''
    Legendary. Seminal. Filthy.
    ``Should I know your name?''
    To which I usually reply, eyes modestly lowered, ``Not necessarily,'' but riding sufficient scotch, I become equally capable of a bellicose ``Yes, if you're literate,'' after which my wife usually points out it is time to go home.

I'm not sure what conclusion one is supposed to draw from this, the beginning of Broadsides (1990), but I figured I'd put the entry in just in case. (There might be an exemption if you happen not to be Canadian.)

Richler (1931-2001) was at first probably best known for The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, which is basically Portnoy's Complaint without the masturbation. (And with no mother instead of a domineering one. Well, maybe it's not a very accurate description, but it sounds cool to say.) Eventually Richler became more of a celebrity writer, known for nothing in particular except being a moderately well-known author. He wrote some other novels, but really, who's got the time? He wrote amusing essays and magazine pieces, and these were repackaged as tomes from time to time. You know how Gary worries that anything he says in my hearing may be used against him in the glossary? (Sure you do -- I mentioned it back at the conversation entry. BTW, Gary is an actual real person, but there's no point in worrying -- I can invent.) Well, Richler was that kind of writer to be wary of.

more honored in the breach
This phrase is used to mean that a law, rule, vel sim. is widely ignored. What is really widely ignored, however, is the original meaning of the phrase. The original phrase, as uttered by the character of Hamlet, meant that the laws in question (imposed by his uncle and stepfather the King) were such that there was greater honor in disobeying than obeying them.

more honored in the breech
This phrase is used to mean that a law, rule, vel sim. is widely ignored. However, it's a misspelling of more honored in the breach (q.v.). As written, ``more honored in the breech'' means `highly respected in the buttocks,' or callipygian. Okay, okay, that's not exactly equivalent -- callipygian means `having beautiful [beautifully proportioned] buttocks.' [column] It comes from the Ancient Greek word kallipugos having the same meaning -- pugê meant buttocks, and kalli- was a productive root meaning beautiful. A very productive root. Among attested uses were words for having or being beautiful(ly)

Watch this space! More to come, someday.

more honored in the breeches
Garnering higher respect in lower clothing.

more in sorrow than in anger
More in hypocritical opportunism than anything else.

more ... when compared with
I heard this expression today in an advertisement: ``Acme's, [let's say] fertilizer grows more [grass] when compared with competitors' products.'' This is precisely the kind of expression that makes one think ``manure!'' Yet it is also common in student papers. In both cases there is usually some evidence that the author has a minimal command of English, um, at least. This is relevant because it implies that the author is aware of the more-than construction.

So clearly, ``Acme grows more grass than'' (vel sim.) is not the intended meaning, and is probably false. In fact, Acme is probably the worst. (If it weren't, they'd compare it to the worst product and say ``comparison studies with a popular alternative [spotted hyena chips] show Acme grows grass faster than the competition.'') When one considers, however, that comparison cannot take place without observation, the meaning becomes clear to anyone familiar with quantum physics or child psychology: the ``more'' outcome depends not only on the conditions of observation, but on the very fact of observation. It's a Copenhagen construction. If Acme fertilizer is placed in competition with an alternative manure, the grass will grow -- or at least a measurement of its height will appear to show that it grows -- faster. Not faster than the competition, just faster than it would without competition -- if it weren't being observed. You could deny that, but you could never prove you were right. If you want to maximize the effect, you should intensify the competition -- add motivation, so to speak -- by using the competing product directly in the soil where you are testing Acme. Boy, will you be impressed!

Morgenlande, Morgenländer
German, literally `morning lands,' an obsolete German term for the obsolescent English term `the Orient' in the latter term's former (i.e., obsolete) sense. Confused? See the AbhKM entry for more confusion!

Wilhelm II, the last Kaiser of Germany (abdicated 1918), held a high opinion of his own opinion, and liked to give avuncular advice to his cousin Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia (executed in secrecy 1918). In 1895, astonished by the Japanese victory over China, Kaiser Willi began to warn his cousin and Europe of the rising power of the Rising Sun. He coined the term Gelbe Gefahr, `Yellow Peril,' to describe the threat (he had a cartoon executed to illustrate his brainstorm).

Japan's victory was over another Asian country -- far larger, of course, but known from recent European and American experience to be militarily backward. With the prevalent racist and cultural prejudices of the West, the Sino-Japanese events were ignored, and the Orient continued to be thought of as backward and as no military match for any Western power. Few realized the extent of Japan's rapid industrialization after the Meiji Restoration. The Japanese victory over Russia in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5) thus came as a shock to Europe.

Not currently discussed anywhere else in this glossary: Abendland, which means ... oh wait -- I figured out where it's discussed!

A newspaper's archive of published stories.

A common Japanese surname. It's equivalent to English names like Forest, Grove, and Woods.

Latin word meaning `of death.'

Market & Opinion Research International. On February 19, 2002, they released a survey indicating that ``The Public's Trust In Doctors Rises.''

Metal-Organic Reactive Ion Etching.

Here's a pitifully brief bibliography.

MORI International
Market & Opinion Research International International. An international group of formal partners of MORI in over 30 different countries. While the expansion of MORI appears only fleetingly on the home website of UK-based MORI, those of its Latin American affiliates that have MORI in their name are careful to make clear that this is an English acronym, featuring the expansion prominently on their welcome pages. In Spanish, morí means `I died.' (In the vos conjugation used in Argentina and Central America, it also means `[I command you to] die.') A widespread practice in Spanish (though not the official Real Academia standard) is to omit accents on capital letters.

Look, what I'm trying to say here is that MORI was a poorly researched choice of name, evidently selected when the company already regarded itself as international. Making an AAP out of it does not help.

Moroney sticker, Moroni sticker
See AIDA for enlightenment.

A crutch for actors who are not Zero Mostel in Ionesco's ``Rhinoceros.''

These days, according to my email, I'm qualifying for another new mortgage every four to six hours. Imagine the tax benefits!

``These days,'' when I first wrote the entry, were just after the turn of the century. This glossary has some substantive information on mortgages at other entries. Serious glossary entries for serious times. You can tour these entries starting at the ARM entry.

The lender, the issuer of a mortgage. Cf. mortgagor.

The borrower, the party that ``takes out'' a mortgage. Cf. mortgagee.

Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor. Designates a technology that is based on a miracle of silicon: its oxide is a good insulator (only a fair dielectric) and is extremely stable protection for silicon. Both the semiconductor that silicon replaced (germanium) and the one that has been trying to replace it for years (gallium arsenide) lack such a good ``native oxide.''

A MOS transistor (MOST) is a kind of IGFET. Both IGFET and MOST are relatively rare terms, and one hears ``an MOS'' used for an MOST. This is equivocal in principle, because there are also MOS capacitors. If this bothers you, use MOSFET.

Mit Out Sound. Legend has it that this is what talkies director Erich von Stroheim said instead of ``without sound'' (i.e., the instruction to film a take without recording sound). The idea, of course, was that he couldn't pronounce the English w and that he recognized with as the English corresponding to German mit. (The resemblance is coincidental, as with is cognate with the German word wider, and not mit. The sense development has been quite a ride.) I don't know anything relevant about von Stroheim, so I'll just use the entry as an opportunity to take off on tangents.

German-speakers with poor English typically, or at least stereotypically, pronounce the English w semivowel as a German w consonant (i.e., like English v) and are understood. In the case of various cognates (world/Welt, west/West, wish/Wünsch, word/Wort, war/Wehr, was/war, water/wasser, etc.) this has the pleasant feature of familiarity for the German-speaker, although in many cases semantic evolution has yielded faux amis (e.g., ``I will'' is cognate with ich will, but the latter still has a meaning close to `I intend to').

English is unusual among Western European languages. I can stop right there and it's a true enough sentence, but what I intended to say was that it's unusual in respect of having words for with and without that are closely related. Compare Germanic languages like German (mit/ohne) and Swedish (med/utan) or Romance languages: com/sem, con/sin, avec/sans, and con/senza, for examples, in Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Italian, resp. With the Romance examples, you get the impression that maybe there was some earlier language that these languages have as a common source of their similar words.

The first graphical browser for HTML documents. It made the New York Times on December 8, 1993. Originally developed by Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina at NCSA. Andreessen created the NCSA Mosaic research prototype when he was an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC, where NCSA is located). When he went commercial, he tried to cut UIUC in on the action, but the mind-set in those days was such that the university would have nothing to do with it. Andreessen and five other former students and staff of the university formed what became the Netscape Corporation. UIUC now actively seeks to commercialize the results of university research.

[Image: MOS-C schematic]

MOS Capacitor. Pronounced both as initials and as ``moss-cap'' (see next).

MOS CAPacitor. (Pronounced ``moss-cap.'') An MOS capacitor is an area of silicon covered by a uniform oxide layer, with a conducting surface above. The conductor on top was originally some elemental metal or metal alloy, but it was soon replaced by heavily-doped polysilicon. In a pinch, any depletion-mode MOSFET is a MOSCAP. The two leads of the ersatz capacitor are the gate contact and either the source or drain contact. (Leave one of the latter, S or D, disconnected, or else short source and drain.)

MOS capacitors have asymmetric Q-V characteristics -- i.e., they have bias-dependent capacitance. In fact, for one sign of applied voltage they have voltage-dependent capacitance. The asymmetry does not arise simply because the two ``capacitor plates'' are of different material. A mica capacitor with different-size plates made of different metals has a Q-V characteristic that is symmetric (and substantially linear, so the capacitance C is a constant). The problem is that doped semiconductor is in some respects not a very good metal.

In order to have a small inter-plate spacing (and hence a decently high capacitance) the silicon must be doped. For purposes of illustration, let's say it's doped N: a high density of electron donor impurities like arsenic (As) or phosphorus (with the unfortunately confusing atomic symbol P). At absolute zero temperature, these donors create un-ionized (i.e. filled) ``donor levels'' at energies just below the conduction band (CB). This means that charge neutrality puts the Fermi energy (the electrochemical potential) close to the CB. At room temperature, most of the donors are ionized and charge neutrality is maintained by electrons that can be thought of as promoted from the donors to the CB. (It's an entropy effect: even though the donors have slightly lower energy, there are many more states in the conduction band. The characteristic energy scale over which this effect can manifest is kBT, 0.026 eV at room temperature.)

Anyway, getting back to the MOS-C... For simplicity we'll let the ``metal'' in the gate be a (theoretically unproblematic) elemental metal. If a positive voltage is applied to the silicon side of the capacitor, that side of the capacitor charges up with electrons. These electrons pile up against the insulating oxide that separates the capacitor plates. (Yeah, yeah, there are some quantum effects; the electrons don't pile on like geometric points on a geometrically thin oxide plane.) This polarity gives the highest possible capacitance for the given capacitor geometry. If the polarity is reversed -- negative voltage on the silicon side -- then the silicon takes a positive charge. This positive charge is initially produced by depletion of electrons. That is, the electrons in the conduction band move away from the oxide, and the remaining positively-ionized donors yield a net positive charge at the plate. However, the donor ions are not mobile. In order for the positive charge to increase, the silicon must be depleted further into the bulk away from the oxide. Thus, as the voltage increases, the effective plate spacing increases, and the capacitance decreases.

Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico. Italian, `experimental electromechanical module.' Given the expansion of the acronym, it appears the acronym originally refered to an individual floodgate at an earlier stage in the project development, but MOSE is now used as the name for a larger project. Given the uncertainties, however, it is still fair to call the entire project sperimentale. The project is intended to protect Venice from drowning. The city is built on a hundred mostly small islands (118, but who's counting?) that lie in a lagoon, and has been subsiding for hundreds of years. Historically, when a building had subsided too far for habitation or was at risk of collapse, it was knocked down and a higher structure was built in its place. That is no longer considered an option. Between the 1930's and the 1970's, the problem was exacerbated as water was pumped from aquifers underlying the city. Now was that bright or what?

In the past 100 years, the effective sea level has risen 23 cm. Currently, despite the end of pumping, it is estimated to be rising at 0.5 mm per year. The future magnitude of the problem is subject to many uncertainties, among them the magnitude of sea-level rise expected to be caused by global warming. Estimates are typically in the range of 20-100 cm by 2050.

The MOSE plan is to install 79 gates (I've also read 78), distributed at the three inlets to the lagoon that Venice lies in. The hollow gates will ``normally'' be filled with water, and hinged on the seabed, they will lie flat along the bottom. When floods threaten, air is to be pumped in, so the gates lighten and float into vertical position, protecting the city. The project will be expensive, but fortunately Italy is situated on Euroland, so it will only cost an estimated 3.5 billion euros (mere American billions). Just a few years ago, it would have cost trillions of lire. Construction began in May 2003; completion is scheduled for 2011.

Despite the reduced price, the project is controversial. It is feared that frequent closings will disturb the ecosystem in various ways. Also, it seems that a lot of the ecosystem must consist of bacteria and the less fastidious sort of fish, processing Venice's sewage, much of which is still untreated. (The large fraction of Italian sewage that is not treated, and the resulting ecological problems for the Mediterranean, have been a continuing bone of contention between Italy and the rest of the EU, except for countries like Greece that want to keep their head down because they figure they're next.) Nobody seems concerned that flooding of a subsided Venice might disturb the ecosystem.

Ecosystem in ``balance.'' Please do not disturb. Don't touch anything.

Estimates of how long MOSE will be effective vary. Supporters offer estimates of 100 years, opponents say no more than 50. I haven't seen any discussion of future retrofit ideas. The one alternative seems to be locally raising the land level underneath existing structures, starting with the lowest-lying, most immediately threatened areas. This is already being done, apparently by private owners.

One solution that is not piecemeal is to pump seawater into a broad 600-to-800-meter deep aquifer underlying the area. (A deeper aquifer is preferred in part because it should lead to a more even rise at the surface. The layer considered also has convenient clay layers. I am not completely certain why refilling the aquifers previously pumped for fresh water is not considered a good option; it seems that uncertainty about uneven uplift is the main concern.) The aquifer idea is being studied and promoted (yes, the usual engineering conflict of interest) by a group at the University of Padua as a supplement, not an alternative, to the MOSE project. Numerical modeling by Giuseppe Gambolati of U. Padua predicts a 30-cm rise produced within a circle 5 km in radius around Venice, produced by injection of 18 million cubic meters of water through a ring of twelve vertical wells along the circumference. For further information on the various projects and proposals, see the pages of CORILA.

The Republic of Venice was once a great empire, contending with the Ottoman empire for control of the Aegean, and medieval Venice had a population of a quarter million. They invented the practice of keeping regular ambassadors in foreign countries -- sort of the diplomatic equivalent of a standing army. (Venice was probably also the first place to enforce segregation of Jews in a ghetto. Oh well-- win some, lose some.) The inconvenience of frequent inundation has been cited as a cause of population decline in recent decades (though it's claimed tourism has not declined). The resident population has subsided to 60,000.

Venezuela was named after Venice (the former word is a diminutive form of the latter). Alonso de Ojeda gave the area this name after coming upon native American stilted houses built over Lake Maracaibo. (It is a lake, so sea-level rise is not a direct concern.)

Subsidence under ancient buildings seems to be a characteristic Italian problem, but we don't have a entry for the leaning tower of Pisa yet.

Your practical take-away from this entry is this: don't visit Venice in the off season. St. Mark's Square, one of the city's lowest points, used to flood about ten times a year back around 1900; now it's flooding about 60 times each Winter. I guess low tide makes it possible to number the floods. Here's good news: if it gets much worse, St. Marks will be flooded only one time all Winter.

Self-assigned nickname of the Museum Of SEX, which opened in NYC in 2002. Admission is $17. That's pretty stiff, and it gives a whole new meaning to the expression ``RU/18.'' Many of the early museumgoers have felt screwed, but they don't mean that in a nice way. Or they don't mean that in a nasty way, or, well, I think you get the picture. There's a serious question whether this contribution to culture will survive very long. If it does, it may someday be able to charge $68 or $70.

Zager and Evans had a number-one hit in 1970 with ``In The Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus).'' They consider ``...the year 2525 / If man is still alive / If woman can survive / They may find....'' They speculate that ``in the year 6565 / Ain't gonna need no husband, won't need no wife / You'll pick your son, pick your daughter too / From the bottom of a long glass tube, wo-oo-wo.''

Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (MOS) Field-Effect Transistor (FET). [Pronounced to rhyme with ``moss let.''] Often ``MOSFET transistor.''

MOS Implementation System.

MOS Transistor.

most average
The last time I checked, we didn't have a ``most average'' entry, so if you wanted any information about ``most average,'' you were well advised (or would have been) to go to the typical entry.

Most of my friends describe me as
  1. The same dozen keywords every time!
  2. Having a good sense of humor, but not, you know, ``funny'' in that other sense.
  3. The traits I think will attract the kind of person I'm looking for are. Personalsese.

Modern name of the city called Nineveh in the Bible. Okay: Nineveh was on the eastern bank of the Tigris; Mosul is on the opposite side. The modern Iraqi province (or ``governate'') of which Mosul is the capital is called Ninawa.

Under the Ottoman Empire, Mesopotamia (al-Iraq in Arabic) was governed as a federation of three provinces centered on their main cities. The province of Mosul in the north was mostly Kurdish. The other two cities were Baghdad (Arab Sunni, rather than Kurdish Sunni) and Basra (Arab Shi'ite). After WWI and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the British imposed a highly centralized government, a constitutional monarchy modeled on their own.

Magneto-Optical Trap. An older name for the same thing is ZOT

Ministry Of Transport. Britain has one.

Member Of The Appropriate Sex.

Management Of Technological Innovation. An NSF program.

Message-Oriented Text Interchange System. The ISO email definition. See X.400.

mot juste
French meaning `precisely appropriate word.'


A portable and usually self-propelled weight used to apply force in gouging blacktop. (Force is applied through a gouging tool called a ``kicks stand.'')

According to the song, motor-sickle and motor-sigh are acceptable also.

Adherent or adept of Motorism. Holy site: Carhenge. Most sacred liturgy:

The Motorist's Psalm

I don't care if it rains or freezes --
'long as I got my plastic Jesus
sittin' on the dashboard of my car.

I can do a hundred miles an hour!
Long as I got the almighty power,
Way up there with my pair of fuzzy dice.

Accept no substitutes. Mojo Nixon and others have promulgated heretical versions, to say nothing of exegeses. Don Imus apparently used to sign on with riding instead of sittin'; that might be a translation problem. For other liturgy, visit the drop kick entry.

Visit. This industry moves so fast, this morning's news is really just yesterday's history, so what am I gonna tell you?

motor unit
The muscle fibers controlled by an individual nerve (between about ten fibers -- a motor unit for the eyeball -- and hundreds of fibers -- as for example in the abs). The fibers in a single motor unit are either all slow twitch or all fast twitch, because that is determined by the kind of nerve stimulation they get. Animal experiments have shown that reconnecting a nerve that controlled slow-twitch muscles to replace one that controlled an initially fast-twitch motor unit causes the fibers to adapt: more enzymes for metabolizing fat appear, blood vessel (capillary) density increases, and eventually glycogen stores and the enzymes needed to process them both decline, and cell wall composition changes.

motor vehicle
A mechanism for heating brakes. The most efficient vehicles are those that transfer the largest fraction of generated mechanical energy to the brakes as heat.

George Westinghouse made his first fortune from the design of air brakes for trains. He used that fortune to commercialize an AC power system ultimately based on Tesla's designs. A financial panic ruined him in 1907.

Member Of The Opposite Sex.

In a television ad that ran, oh, I don't know, probably in the eighties, selling photographic film or something, an excruciatingly cute little girl asks her older brother, ``Am I the opposite sex, or are you''?

It would be in poor taste if I were to comment ``out of the mouths of babes.''

Member Of The Same Sex. There's a hypertext faq associated with the soc.motss newsgroup.

Memorand{um|a} Of Understanding. There's also Joint MOU (JMOU).

Remember, you can't spell mourn without urn. Yeah, that's about as deep as the insights get around here. Cf. funeral.

Microsoft-Office (tm) User Specialist. ``The premier Microsoft desktop certification.'' Cf. MCLS.

mouth of the South, The
Ted Turner. Created CNN and a variety of other cable channels.

Ted Turner was an undergraduate at Brown University. (That's the ``Harvard of Rhode Island,'' although nobody calls it that. If this comment sounds stupid, you should read the the Harvard-of-the-South entry. Then the comment will still sound stupid, but you'll be better informed. A lot of his business ventures were based in Atlanta. Atlanta has more Harvards of the South than any other city anywhere.) Ted Turner was expelled from Brown in 1960 for violating some rule. It had something to do with having a female friend in his dorm room. In 1990, Brown awarded him an undergraduate degree after all.

MOV, mov
Metal-Oxide Varistor.

MOV, mov
MOVe. A common mnemonic in assembly languages.

A movie is a sock-puppet show with a more elaborate set. This requires roles to be performed by entire persons rather than single hands, which diminishes the expressiveness of the actors.

The greatest movies of the color era are roloc. No, not really, but I wanted to keep the palindrome going. Actually, the greatest movies of the color era are the following:

  1. Animal House. It's a love story. Over the course of the movie, as various subsidiary love stories evolve, John Blutarsky (John Belushi's first romantic lead) shows repeatedly that he is devoted to Mandy Pepperidge (played by Mary Louise Weller) and only to her. Mandy is model-beautiful (this is literally true of the actress), and is in an unsatisfying relationship. She is oblivious to ``Bluto,'' even when he is very close in front of her (and also usually, and symbolically, below her); he belongs to a group of social outcasts. Although Bluto has leadership skills that will eventually propel him to the Senate and (according to the Double Secret Probation release of 2003) the US Presidency, he is reduced to puerile stunts in her presence. Events conspire, however... Ironically, Mandy's best friend's selfish betrayal helps Mandy toward her destiny. I don't want to give too much away, but the two lovers are happily united in the end. Because the love story has a happy ending (in contrast with ``The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet,'' say, which also has some funny bits) it is classed as a ``comedy.'' It's also an homage to courtly love.
  2. The Ballad of Narayama. It's a comedy about euthanasia, and it's about youth in Asia! But most of the gags are not puns, which wouldn't translate very well between Japanese and other languages. (See, though, mama-haha.) Instead, they have to do with things we can all relate to like sex, very bad body odor, tooth decay, and burying alive a family that hunger has reduced to potato-robbing.

I'm sure you'll want to read our insight into other movies.

Go to Now Showing to see what's showing in your area (unless your area doesn't have a zip code).

If you're wondering about a movie we haven't reviewed yet, go to Internet Movie DataBase (IMDB) for on-line information (about movies).

Metal-Oxide Varistor. Common transient voltage surge suppressor (TVS) on power outlet strips. The metal is typically zinc (Zn). The I-V is symmetric.

Metal-Organic Vapor-Phase Epitaxy. In principle, since the acronym expansion includes epitaxy, this acronym may be preferred for emphasizing that the deposition is epitaxial, in contrast with MOCVD (since the deposition dee of CVD need not be epitaxial). On the other hand, in all the applications I know of, the whole point of using metal-organics is to produce epitaxial layers of compound semiconductors for optical and electronic applications. There's not much point in going to the trouble of MOCVD otherwise, so basically MOVPE and MOCVD both mean MOVPE. MOCVD is probably the more common term.

Inflected forms: APMOVPE and LP-MOVPE (atmospheric-pressure and low-pressure).

MOnitoring X-ray Experiment. An X-ray all-sky monitor, built by Los Alamos Nat. Lab (LANL), Goddard S.F.C., and Moscow's Space Research Institute; to be launched on the Russian Spectrum-X-Gamma satellite in 1996. I guess it happened.

A dhimmi, or perhaps just a Christian dhimmi, in Muslim Spain. Mozarabic art and literature flourished in the kingdom of León in the 10th and early 11th centuries. The word is of course a loan from the Spanish mozál;rabe. That in turn is from the Arabic musta'rib. The initial m is the well-known active participle marker (cf. Muslim/Islam). Based on ista'raba, `to become an Arab,' the participle musta'rib could be understood to mean `someone who adopts Arab customs.' It was also understood -- by self-regarding Arabs -- as something like `Arab wannabe.'

The original project code name for Netscape Navigator. Since early 1998, when Netscape released the source code for free, Mozilla.com has been the coordinating site for development of this now oddly open standard. If you want to see how your pages look on older Netscape clients that visitors may use to browse your pages, you'll want to know that old versions of the browser are archived at this site.

A lot of developers were irritated that when Microsoft came out with its browser, that browser self-identified as ``Mozilla'' in requests, even though it follows slightly different conventions (``MSIE'' is given as part of the version information). Presumably this was done so the browser would have the greatest chance of being identified by the server as a graphical browser. Of course, it had the side effect that developers unwilling to work too hard would end up selecting a single set of browser-dependent extensions for all graphical browsers. Some feel this is naughty.

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