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Common indication written on (tags of) gas canisters, a rebus for ``empty.''

Machine Translation. See natural language processing (NLP entry).

(Domain code for) Malta. An island nation in the Mediterranean. It does my heart good to spell Mediterranean correctly on the first try, but not that much good. I've done it before. (You'll just have to take my word on it, even though it is very important.) Valletta is the national capital, located on the main island, which is also called Malta.

Maltese is spoken on Malta, Gozo, and Comino. It can be honestly said that every person living on the two other islands of the Maltese Archipelago, Cominotto and Filfla, is fluent in at least four languages besides Maltese. This is tremendously useful in principle, but it's only true because there are no persons living on these islands. Okay, bad joke. When I think of a better I'll replace it. Start boning up on your Dashiell Hammett.

The Maltese language is very interesting -- a Semitic language, it began as the Arabic brought by Moslem conquerors in 870. Maltese has had an increasing Romance component since the Christian reconquest by Normans from Sicily in 1091. The Normans sure were active in those years. From 1530 to 1798, Malta was the stronghold of the former crusading order, the Knights Hospitaller of St. John (who used Italian and Latin). The French took it over in 1798 as a sideshow on the way to Egypt. (Napoleon asked for safe harbor, then turned his guns on the port.) The French were not popular; they provoked the island's first known popular uprising, which the English assisted. The French hung on long enough to say hello and goodbye, or more precisely bongu and bonswa, with meaning and sound of bonjour and bonsoir. English rule started in 1800.

Many web pages claim that the Semitic component in Maltese dates back to the Phoenicians. This is plausible, but there doesn't seem to be any evidence of it and I haven't seen a published scholarly source that deigns to so much as mention the possibility. Certainly Malta was settled prehistorically, and was for many centuries controlled by the Phoenicians and later the Carthaginians. However, to cite a parallel situation, the survivals of Carthaginian in Spain are negligible, apart from a few place names like Barcelona, Cartagena, and España. My guess is that a direct connection of the Maltese language with the Phoenicians is fanciful, and motivated by the greater prestige of a more ancient provenance.

In the broad circumstances of its history, Maltese is similar to English. Here is how Joseph Aquilina expressed it in the preface of his The Structure of Maltese: A Study in Mixed Grammar and Vocabulary (1959):

Maltese is a separate language resulting from the interaction and fusion of North African Arabic, but with its own dialect features outside the North African group, and Siculo-Italian, covering two different cultural strata. The Arabic element in Maltese historically very often corresponds to the Anglo-Saxon in English, while the Romance loans correspond to the Norman-French element. As in English, the primitive linguistic stratum is confined mainly to the description of the obvious facts of nature and man's reactions to them while the abstract and progressive vocabulary of the intelligentsia belongs to later times.

Another similarity is that the underlying grammar is that of the ``primitive stratum'' -- Semitic, in this case; Romance words have been assimilated into the Semitic morphology. A further and most melancholy similarity is that the mixed vocabulary has made the spelling a disaster area, reflecting etymology about as much as pronunciation. (Even Yiddish, composed mostly of Middle High German with only about 10% admixture of Hebrew vocabulary and even less Slavic, uses the Hebrew character set in two very different ways for words with different etymologies. Medieval Hebrew and Arabic were both more successful in absorbing large amounts of Greek.) One familiar bit of etymological spelling is the aitch, which is silent as in Italian -- with one significant exception.

Like Serbian, Maltese is written with a character set that contains an aitch-bar (an aitch with a bar through the middle of the riser). (Note that Serbian is written with a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet, though the aitch-bar and J characters appear to be borrowed from the Roman; Maltese is written with a variant of the Roman character set.) The aitch-bar represents an unvoiced pharyngeal fricative. That's like the unvoiced velar fricative /x/ (the sound of ch in Scottish loch and German Bach), but further back in the throat, if you can imagine. In fact, traces of the velar sound still survived in the dialect of the island of Gozo as recently as the 1950's, but there was apparently no phonemic distinction. Both the velar and pharyngeal aitches occur in Arabic, but in Maltese cognates, both sounds are represented by the aitch-bar. At the end of a word, an ordinary h is pronounced like an aitch-bar.

As in Chinese Romanization and as in various Iberian languages (more or less systematically), the x is usually pronounced ``sh.'' [It is sometimes pronounced as ``zh,'' the voiced sibilant in the English word measure. Voicing in Maltese assimilates regressively: if an x is followed by a voiced consonant, it becomes voiced also.] Different quantities (long and short duration) of the general sound represented by x are distinguished phonemically. The difference is comparable to the allophonic difference in German between final sch (long, as in Arsch, Stammtisch, etc.) and initial sch (short, as in schleichen, Schwarze Haus). In Maltese, the longer sound is indicated by a double x.

That Maltese has double-exes might be the best-known fact about the language, on account of the events of 1972. In that year, Standard Oil of New Jersey introduced a new trade name for its products. It had been selling its gasoline under at least three different trade names: Esso, Enco, and (only in Ohio) Humble. It would have liked to have used Esso everywhere, but ever since the original Standard Oil had been broken up in probably the landmark trust-busting action of the US government, there were a number of competing Standard Oil companies that could prevent it from adopting that name. A secretive and expensive computer-assisted search for a new name that could be used everywhere and which meant nothing anywhere eventually yielded ``Exxon.'' [Pronounceability may not have been a major consideration. The word Exxon is unpronounceable in the many languages (including all the Polynesian languages, I believe) that only allow open syllables. The best one can say for this glaring nonuniversality is that among the languages that are almost entirely constructed of open syllables, syllabic n and syllables closed by n are among the more common exceptions to the open-syllable rule. E.g., Italian (esp. the Venice dialect) and Japanese. And that's to say nothing of X itself.]

One thing simplifying the allegedly strenuous search was the claimed fact that Maltese was the only language with a double x. Given that only a few hundred languages are represented by Roman alphabets, it is at least conceivable that the claim is true. On the other hand, confirming that hypothesis would probably have cost Standard Oil of New Jersey more than the few millions it devoted to the name search. Let's agree that double-exes are very probably quite unusual, though it shouldn't be hard to construct a silly compound noun with xx in German. If the term ``box xylophone'' is ever borrowed into German from English, it ought to become ``Boxxylophon,'' although current orthography rules allow a hyphen.

On May 1, 2004, the EU's membership officially increased from 15 to 25, and the number of its official languages increased from 11 to 20. All official documents are supposed to be made available in all the official languages. The costs of translation were estimated to be about 800 million euros before the 2004 expansion. Each new language was expected to require hiring 60 new translators (I think that figure is for Brussels alone). Not every regional and minority language gets to be an official language of the EU, but Maltese got the nod. At the time of accession, no EU translators happened to know Maltese.

Malta had never had a school for translators. It wasn't necessary: Malta's other official language is English, which is as widely spoken as the local one. According to Jan Andersen, the chief translator in Brussels, in 2003 there was a test for translators from Malta. Out of 16 candidates, four made it to the final round, but all failed. I wonder who wrote the exam. Malta is racing to catch up, but Malta isn't the only country with these problems, and as of 2006 most EU documents were only available in a limited number of languages (fewer than 20).

You know, it stands to reason: if your native language is something common like English or French, or a similar language like Dutch or Romansch that makes it easy to learn one of the common languages as a second language, then you're more likely to study something unusual as a second or third language. (Or at least, less likely to find practicality a persuasive reason to study something more common.) The weirder your first language, the more attraction there will be in learning something widely-spoken as a second language. Still, it's surprising they didn't get a Maltese-English interpreter in the first batch. I'd put it up to a tiny country having a tiny applicant pool.

Medical Transcription. Here's an FAQ from Tamarah (Tammy) C. Jensen.

MegaTon. The term occurs most frequently in connection with explosives of the nuclear variety: a ``megaton of TNT equivalent'' (or a ``megatonne...'' for British ordnance) is defined as one petacalorie of energy. (See the end of the calorie entry.)

Meitnerium. Atomic number 109.

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

Message Type.


Middle Tennessee (State University). Also MTSU.


Montana. USPS abbreviation.

The Villanova University Law School provides some links to state government web sites for Montana. USACityLink.com has a page with a couple of city and county links for the state.

MaTthew. Abbreviation common in NT or HJ studies, when the discussion gets hot and GMatthew is too long.

MounT[ain]. With a few exceptions, English names of mountains that include a word with the mount root are either of the form Mount Foobar or Foobar Mountain[s]. Abbreviation of plural: Mts.

{ Mail | Message } Transfer Agent. Code that passes messages between computers, from and to other MTA's and MUA's. Unix examples include sendmail and qmail. sendmail actually made the cover of the New York Times (1998.03.17, give or take a day) when a new version came out with greatly enhanced anti-Spam features.

Massachusetts Teachers Association. Teachers' union affiliated with the NEA. The state also has a competing AFT affiliate, MFT.

Mass Transit Administration. Buses and subway in Baltimore, Md.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority. New York, NY. Includes NYCT, LIRR, MNRR, and SIRT.

The same name was formerly used in Boston (see MBTA) and in Melbourne, Australia (come back and see Met later, after we install an entry). In Los Angeles it could also be used for LACMTA.

Mississippi Teachers Association. The ``colored'' teachers union, back in apartheid days. An affiliate of the ATA, while that existed. Read about its history at the entry for the parallel ``white'' organization, the MEA.

Movimiento de Trabajadores Argentinos. `Argentine Workers' Movement.' Typically, like CTA, described as a ``dissident trade union confederation.'' This refers to the fact that the Argentine trade union movement is dominated by the Peronists: see CGT.

Moving Treasury Average. The 12-month MTA (or just ``the MTA'' for short) is an index that is commonly used as a benchmark for adjustable-rate mortgages. It's a running average computed from the previous 12 monthly values of the monthly one-year Treasury bills.

Midwest Thermal Analysis Forum. ``[D]edicated to promoting the understanding of thermal analysis and related scientific fields in the upper midwest [Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota] of the United States.''

Most Talked-About Friend? Someone on a list I subscribe to used it to refer to his gay lover, but didn't expand it.

Metallic Test Access Unit. Metallic refers to copper communications cable, as distinguished from optical (fiber).

Motor Transportation Broker.

MounTain Bike. (Bike here in the sense of bicycle.) The initialism works in a lot of European languages, since the cognates of both words are widely used. The same order is used in Spanish, French, and Italian, despite the fact that the order BMT would make more sense if the expansion were translated. Why does German also use MTB, despite the fact that German uses Berg instead of a cognate of mountain? I'm not going to dignify that with an answer.

In Spanish, the English term mountain bike has been borrowed as two words. In German, the term has been borrowed and naturalized by removal of the space (and by capitalization, of course): Mountainbike. I shouldn't be, but I'm amused by the regular construct Mountainbikefest.

Methyl Ter-Butyl Ether. A gasoline additive. Here's some info from the WSPA (Western States Petroleum Association). The ether group increases the oxygen concentration (from about zero in ordinary fuel itself) and promotes complete burning (decreasing the CO/CO2 ratio). Gasoline adulterated with MTBE is sometimes called oxygenated gasoline. The EPA has been requiring (it's called ``administrative law'') oxygenated gasoline (and diesel) in areas that were failing to meet clean-air targets. The Los Angeles area, for example. In metropolitan Phoenix (at least when I lived there, until 1990), oxygenated fuel was required only during the summer months, when the air pollution problem was worse).

Many people complain that they get lower gas mileage with oxygenated fuel. I have no idea of the magnitude or sign of the effect. Well, I do have a clue. A few Iowa State Fairs ago, I drove from Indiana to Colorado and back. In some of the states I drove through, you actually had the option of buying gasoline with or without extra oxygenation. In most places, ordinary fuel was priced higher, though in the Denver area the MTBE'ed fuel was more expensive. Both of these trends seem consistent with MTBE lowering gas mileage.

MTBE has also been used as an octane enhancer, but that effect is factored into the octane rating at the pump, so it's not as if you get a higher effective octane rating with oxygenated fuel of the same stated octane level.

Two-stroke engines exhaust a large fraction of their fuel unburned (as much as a quarter in the cheapest and oldest models), and are the common power plant for jet skis and outboard motors. Research shows that this increases the MTBE levels in recreation lakes at the time of major holidays and for a few days after. Jet-ski-industry-funded ``research'' disagrees.

The problem is not restricted to recreation lakes. A small ether like MTBE is polar and dissolves in water, unlike gasoline and most of the other things in gasoline. (The solubility is part of the reason that MTBE levels in lakes fall.) Also unlike a lot of other stuff in gasoline, MTBE is not broken down by bacteria. As a result, when gasoline is spilled, MTBE is the one item that efficiently diffuses into the ground water.

MTBE gives water a turpentine taste. That's a known effect. MTBE might be a carcinogen. That's a guess -- I'm not sure that there is any evidence for this. It's clearly not an especially good thing to drink, although whether the quantities getting into the water supply are having significant health effects is not known. In the summer of 1999, after weighing the known benefits of decreased air pollution against the unknown dangers of water contamination, the EPA reversed its earlier position and now wants MTBE banned in gasoline.

Mean Time Between Failures. Mean Time Before Failure.

It is a statistical curiosity that for a Bernoulli or Poisson process, these two times are the same. To be precise, consider a sequence of times . . . t-2, t-1, t0, t1, t2, . . . . We suppose that these times were determined by a Bernoulli process. Briefly, we assume that for any tiny time interval dt, the probability that a failure occurs during the interval is r × dt.

Thus, if we start a timer from any given moment (whether or not a failure has just occurred and been repaired or not is immaterial: the Bernoulli process has no memory), then the probability that the timer can run for a finite time interval t with no failure occurring is exp(-rt), giving a mean time before failure of 1/r. The counter-intuitive nature of the Bernoulli process lies in the constancy of this number: If, at time zero, the mean time before failure is 1/r, and we happen to experience a time interval T during which no failure occurs, then we intuitively expect the mean time to the next failure to decrease, perhaps to 1/r - T. The fact that the process is probabilistic implies that T will sometimes exceed 1/r, so that hypothetical formula, which would predict a negative expectation of a positive quantity, is clearly wrong. The source of the problem lies in our quotidian experience of probability. If the failure is one of human health, then we might take the ``mean time to failure'' as the life expectancy. If the life expectancy at 30 is 45, then we surely do not expect that the life expectancy at 75 still to be 45. We expect more like zero, which is closer to the truth. In general, though, life expectancy decreases less rapidly than one year per year. In some age ranges it can stay nearly constant or actually increase, as a cohort passes through a dangerous period (first year of birth) or through a filter interval that takes the unhealthy (the seventies is such a period) in an inhomogeneous population. Gamblers reckon with intuition that they may be ``overdue'' for luck to go their way.

Returning to the general problem formulated in a sequence of times, it is clear that if we number the sequence of failures so that t0 is the last failure before the time zero, and t1 is the first failure after the time zero, then the mean time before failure from time zero is <t1> = 1/r, and similarly the mean time elapsed since the last failure before time zero is -<t0> = 1/r. The mean time between failures #0 and #1 is < t1 - t0 >. Why can't we just say that < t1 - t0 > = < t1 > - < t0 > = 1/r - (-1/r) = 2/r ? It seems that the mean time between failures is really 2/r, twice the mean time to failure (measured from any arbitrarily determined moment).

The problem is that the numbering of the failure-time sequence introduces a correlation between different times; we enter the domain of order statistics. To see the problem, we first ignore the condition established to assign numbers to the failures. There is a probability distribution function for t1 - t0 : We write the probability that t1 - t0 falls in the interval t < t1 - t0 < t + dt as P10(t) dt. Well bully for you, you caught me with my pants down. I haven't finished writing the entry yet. Gimme a break.

Mean Time Between Incidents.

Mean Time Between Part Replacements.

Mean Time Between Repairs. This is a stealth pun. See, however, comments at MTTR.

Mean Time Between System Interruptions.

Manhattan Theatre Club. An Off-Broadway institution, although as a matter of geographic fact, it took over the newly restored Biltmore Theatre on Broadway in autumn 2003.

Apparently Nemesis prefers Off-Broadway companies to stay off Broadway. The very first production at the Biltmore, Richard Greenberg's new play ``The Violet Hour,'' suffered two actress defections, one rather late. Laura Benanti left during September rehearsals because of ``artistic differences,'' according to MTC. (Benanti was replaced by Dagmara Dominczyk.) Jasmine Guy quit during an intermission of a preview performance, less than two weeks before the November 6 opening (her understudy, Robin Miles, took over the role).

On December 3, 2003, during rehearsals for Neil Simon's ``Rose's Dilemma,'' Mary Tyler Moore (``Rose'') was seen storming out the backstage door minutes before the 2 p.m. curtain. This was apparently her reaction to a letter from Neil Simon demanding that she learn her lines. Everyone involved made a public expression of deep and undying love and admiration for everyone else involved, or at least refrained from getting personally nasty. Patricia Hodges, Moore's understudy, was named the new lead. The play previewed for theater critics as scheduled on December 12, ahead of the official opening on December 18.

There were conflicting reports regarding the precise circumstances of MTM's departure. One uncredited report published by the Press Association (and slightly garbled by the Sunday Telegraph) claimed that Simon's letter, hand-delivered by his wife, actress Elaine Joyce, was an ultimatum ``apparently demanding that she learn her lines `or get out of my play'.'' [Emphasis added by me. I mean, you don't expect italics in wire stories, do you?] Her publicist Mara Buxbaum said in a statement that her feelings were badly hurt and that ``Mary has been working tirelessly for months but feels pushed out of this production.'' [My italics again.] Simon made no public comment until the 12th, when he implied that his letter had been sent the day before MTM stormed out, and claimed that he had threatened that he would leave the play if she didn't learn her lines. Simon's description of the letter's contents seems to better explain Buxbaum's ``feels pushed out'' wording than does the original apparently inferential report of the letter's contents.

Although MTM's best-known work has been on television, which has a smaller burden of memorization, she has done ``legit'' theater. Her most recent stage performance in New York City was in the 1988 Broadway production of A.R. Gurney's ``Sweet Sue.'' She also acted in a 1966 musical version of ``Breakfast at Tiffany's,'' (1966), which closed in previews, and in ``Whose Life Is It, Anyway?'' (1980), which ran for 96 performances. Her appearance in ``Rose's Dilemma,'' Neil Simon's 33rd play, would have marked her Off-Broadway debut.

Neil Simon, like many other playwrights, is known to make extensive changes in plays that he feels are not working. Anonymous informants all seem to agree that the play wasn't getting the laughs he was aiming for, and that he had been making substantial revisions. You know, Simon isn't director for the play. If he hadn't been making substantial revisions, his threat to leave would have been rather empty. Before MTM left, the premiere had been pushed back from an originally scheduled date of December 9.

``Rose's Dilemma'' was first staged in February 2003 at the Geffen Playhouse in LA. Its title there was ``Rose and Walsh,'' starring Jane Alexander and Len Cariou in the title roles. In a Variety review, Phil Gallo wrote that it ``could well see extended runs anywhere it's staged --- even Broadway.'' (In the move to New York, almost everyone was replaced. David Esbjornson, the play's director at the Geffen, was replaced by Lynne Meadow, artistic director at MTC. One of the four actors stayed with the production -- David Aaron Baker, in the role of Clancy, a young writer.)

``Rose'' is a play à clef based on the relationship of Dashiell Hammett (Walsh) and Lillian Hellman (Rose). Walsh, dead five years but visible to Rose and the audience, wants to give up the ghost -- leave his old haunts -- in two weeks. He reveals to Rose the location of his unfinished manuscript (``Mexican Standoff'') that needs a final chapter of 40 pages, and which will assure her financial security. If you know the styles of Hammett and Hellman, you realize that Rose can as easily finish this work as Mother Goose can finish the report of a chemical analysis. The ghost of Walsh recommends that that last chapter be ghosted by Clancy, author of a book Walsh found in his robe pocket. The basic problem with the original play, and probably the problem in New York, was getting the premise established. The initial going was slow.

There are elements in this play of Neil Simon's ``Jake's Women.'' Jake is a writer who has imaginary conversations with seven women in his life -- just a little bit like the Eagles' Glenn Frey singing ``Take It Easy.'' (One of Jake's imaginary interlocutors is his first wife -- who died young, like Simon's.)

Just for laughs, let's refocus on the head term. It contains the word Manhattan. One of the main reasons that people have been saying that theatre is dying in New York is that it costs a fortune to put on a show. That's probably a major reason why it really is dying. Hence, the only shows that get a chance on Broadway are perceived sure things. If costs could be reduced, more people might attend (the market for entertainment can't be too weird) and there would be more variety in plays, appealing to a broader potential audience. Why not New Jersey? Hey -- the Meadowlands sports complex worked out. (See NJSEA.)

Mass Transfer Condition.

Midwest Torah Center. A shul (synagogue and school) in South Bend, Indiana, that opened in November 2006. They seem to be under the Orthodox Union umbrella, but they emphatically welcome Jews of all ``streams,'' as the observational flavors are known. (``Our hope is to make the Torah Center the `Barnes and Nobles' [sic] of Judaism, creating a relaxed and non-judgmental environment. Our desire is to show the relevance and beauty of Judaism and draw one closer to the Torah with color, class and vibrancy.'') Among their less traditional offerings is Shabbat-in-a-Box (``For just $44.00 per box, you can have all you need for a wonderful Shabbat meal for four (4).'' Oy.)

Multi-Threshold CMOS.

Minimum Throughput Class Negotiation.

Mother-To-Child Prevention. Treatment focused on preventing a child from being infected with the mother's disease, particularly AIDS. Probably in correlation with their attitude to abortion, people may or not feel that in principle, a word like ``prospective'' should precede ``child'' and sometimes ``mother'' in the preceding.

Many people working in the field are very fussy about distinguishing between HIV infection and AIDS, at least in public. People who are HIV-positive but asymptomatic are PLHIV, in a currently favored acronym. But in practice, when speaking of transmission, I notice people tend not to speak of ``passing the measles virus.''

Not only is this intellectual terrain mined with shibboleths, but the term MTCP itself seems squeamishly to avoid naming what it is one wants to prevent. [At three removes! One wants to prevent transmission (1) of an agent (2) that causes a disease (3).] It suggests that ``mother-to-child'' itself might be a thing one wants to prevent. There's good news on this: an alternative term, the acronym PMTCT (Prevention of MTCT (below), is gaining in popularity.

Mother-To-Child Transmission. Transmission of disease from a woman to her fetus. A term especially common among epidemiologists and others concerned with HIV/AIDS. There is also a term PMTCT (Prevention of MTCT), which may now be more common than its synonym MTCP. This is good news, at least because MTCP and MTCT are hard to distinguish in speech.

Maximally Tolerated Dose. That's the expansion I've seen in books, but it's obviously nonsense. In most cases where you'd want to know the MTD, the dose that would be tolerated maximally, or best, would be zero. In practice, MTD really means maximum tolerated dose.

Multi-Training Exercise. Military usage.

Mean Time to Failure. Or Median Time to Failure. Usually, if anyone is taking the concept seriously enough to determine MTF from empirical data, median is meant. It's always faster, and usually much faster, to find out how long it takes for half of a set of devices to fail, than to wait around to see how long each one lasts and take an average.

In the field of device testing for electromigration failure, the acronym also refers to a specific technique described by F. M. d'Heurle and P. S. Ho: ``Electromigration in thin films,'' in Thin Films -- Interdiffusion and Reactions (eds. J. M. Poate, K. N. Tu and J. W. Mayer) p. 250 (New York: Wiley, 1978).

Definitely see the MTTF entry.

Modulation Transfer Function.



The ordinal-number name corresponding to the cardinal number m.


Mobile THEL. A defensive weapon.

Status as of October 2004: there have been a few demonstration successes against mortars and rockets. The most recent tests were against ``mortar rounds and mortar rounds fired in a salvo'' on August 24. Test conditions have never been very stringent and there are many doubts about the system's effectiveness in a real-world ``test.'' The system is considered bulky and not really very ``M.'' Needless to say, it's very expensive. Deployment is not expected before 2009.

Oh, all right. THEL stands for Tactical High-Energy Laser. In the context of missile systems, tactical is almost a synonym of mobile, and THEL seems to be used interchangeably with MTHEL and M-THEL.

MethylTetraHydroFuran. Probably 2-methyltetrahydrofuran.

M thru F
What is this, some kind of coded sexist message?

Material Technology International, a vendor of III-V semiconductor and superconductivity substrates.

Moving Target Indicator.

Many Thanks In Advance. Modest form is unshouted: mtia.

Merged Transistor Logic (alternative and now-more-common name: I²L).

H. H. Berger and S. K. Wiedmann: ``Merged-Transistor Logic (MTL) -- A Low-Cost Bipolar Logic Concept,'' IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits, vol. SC-7, pp. 340-346 (October 1972).

K. Hart and A. Slob: ``Integrated Injection Logic: A New Approach to LSI,'' IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits, vol. SC-7, pp. 346-346 (October 1972).

Mary Tyler Moore. Also the production company started for her eponymous and fondly remembered show. Their logo was a parody of the MGM lion and featured a kitten. Mary Tyler Moore earlier costarred as Dick's wife on the Dick Van Dyke Show.

Music Theory MidWest. An annual conference.

MounTaiN. Cf. Mt.


Made To Order. Abbreviation used in advertisements for some chain -- of restaurants, I guess.

Mediterranean Theater of (military) Operations. To judge from Arthur Heller's novel, Catch-22, this was the theater of the absurd.

Cf. ETO, PTO. At least WWII didn't have any serious casualties in the STOW.

Maximum TakeOff Weight. It's good to set bounds. You don't want to end up looking like one of those anorexic runway models.

Meet The Press. A Sunday television game show which pits politicians and journalists against each other as contestants.

Message Transfer Part.

MetaTarsoPhalangeal (toe joint).

Mass Transit Railway. The Hong Kong subway.

Materials Test Reactor. A high-flux nuclear reactor for rapid testing of materials in a high-radiation environment. Construction of an MTR was first authorized by the AEC in 1948.

The Science and Engineering of Nuclear Power (Cambridge, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1947), edited by Clark Goodman, was written with the purpose of ``present[ing] the fundamentals of chain-reacting systems in terms that are understandable to the non-specialist, particularly to engineers interested in the industrial applications of nuclear energy. Progress in this field requires the coordinated effort of many branches of science and engineering, particularly during the next several years. Gradually, the responsibility will devolve to a new breed of specialists, already dubbed nuclear engineers.'' (Quoted text from Clark's preface.) Chapter 10, ``Heat Transfer,'' is by E.R. Gilliland, a rare engineer among scientists. He even provides a short table of conversions between engineering units (you know: good ol' Btu, feet, °F) and, uh, other units. He comments drily (p. 323):

    In removing heat from a reactor, there are a number of considerations, but to an engineer, the chief one appears to be that the physicist prefers that he keep his equipment out of the reactor. Apparently, nearly any material used in the reactor is objectionable. If a gas like helium is used, while not objectionable from its nuclear properties, it is not a good moderator and hence increases the size of the reactor. Many of the liquids require structural materials for the passages through which they flow that are objectionable in thermal reactors.

MounTainS. Plural of Mt. Typically occurs in the names of mountain ranges.

Message {Transfer|Transport} System.

Michigan Theological Seminary.

Multichannel Television Sound.

Memory Time Switch CMOS.

Mobile Telephone Switching Office.

Middle Tennessee State University. Also just plain ``MT.''

Median Time To Fail[ure]. Or Mean Time ... Some authors try to use the two acronyms MTTF and MTF (q.v., please) to distinguish the two: I've seen MTF for median and MTTF for mean in the same paper, but this distinction is inherently unstable and unmemorable.

Mean Time To Repair.

The usual formula for computing how long a task will take is to start with the amount of time it should take, multiply by two, and switch to the next, larger unit of time measure. (Forget fortnights. If it should take a week it'll take two months. Relax, it was ever thus.)

Not that anyone is taking this concept very seriously, but median time would be a lot more meaningful than mean time. After all, we know there are repairs which will never occur (this is too often intentional), for which a time is problematical to define at best, and infinite at worst. Thus, the Mean TTR is correspondingly problematical or infinite, while the median is unaffected by odd stuff at the edges of the probability distribution. Now you understand why the simple arithmetical average is called ``mean.'' [Actually, the real etymology is interesting too: mean, like French moyen meant `common, middle' and followed the downward path of the word vulgar in common usage. See villein entry for similar story.]

See related comments at MTF.

Message Transfer Unit.

Michigan Technical University. ``Michigan Tech.''

Mobile Treatment Unit.

Music TeleVision. It was originally a single cable channel showing rock videos. They've since spun off MTV2 and VH1, and own CMT, TNN, Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, and right of first refusal on your eyeballs, so now MTV stands both for the company and for one of its channels. The prime-time programming on their flagship channel nowadays is more than 50% puerile game shows, reruns, and other dross, instead of music videos, the original dross.


Mass Transfer Zone. Nothing to do with bus transfers or mass transit.

Marginal Utility. The rate of change of total utility (TU). MU is defined as the slope or derivative of the TU, or as the change in TU from the smallest unit change in consumption (of one of the goods that TU is a function of). For an out-of-left-field discussion of how consumption demand is determined by marginal utility rather than total utility, see this sequence of postings: (1) (2) (3) as well as this offlist comment

Marquette University. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

(Domain code for) Mauritius. Apparently this is not the same place as Mauritania (.mr).

Memorial Union. Student Union at ASU. Probably elsewhere as well. In St. John's, Newfoundland, they made an entire university as a memorial. More at the Memorial entry.

4-MethylUmbelliferone. Also 4-MU.

University of Missouri-Columbia. ``Mizzou.'' Part of the University of Missouri System.

Multiple-Unit. Designates a system of railways and streetcars in which a single set of controls actuates two or more diesel or electric locomotives or power cars, with only control and not power cables connecting the units. When the motors so controlled are on passenger cars and not separate locomotives, the term DMU or EMU, as applicable, is used for each car in the train.

Mail User Agent. Passes mail between user and an MTA. The rest of this entry is obsolete, unless your computer is too.

Unix MUA's include codes like:
mailx (the unix Berkeley shell distribution /usr/ucb/mail), the X-windows application xmail, mh, xmh, and flora like Pine or ELM.

You can also use the MUA built into Netscape. Beware, however: if you're using Unix, you're quite possibly allowing many of your emails to accumulate in the system mail spooler, rather than saving them onto your own disk space (in mailx, you do this by PREserving the file rather than explicitly saving it into a mail folder or allowing it to be saved into a default mailbox like ~/mbox). Netscape, oriented as it is to a personal computer community that retrieves mail before it can read it (typically using POP) will download your possibly bloated mailbox on the system mail spool (i.e., the mailserver's disk space, /var/spool/ say) before you know what hit you. I wouldn't want to be around to see what happens if you go over quota or exceed disk space as Netscape tries to download. On the bright side, Netscape doesn't use some dog-Am proprietary format to store mails in mailboxes, so after you run this experiment, assuming you have the disk space to survive it, you can go back to using an honest-to-God Unix application to read your mail, including the stuff hidden in .netscape/ . Just a word to the wise.

Claris Mail is probably available only for Macintosh

Major PC MUA's are available in both Macintosh and IBMish versions:
  • Eudora. This comes in Lite and full-feature versions; the full-feature versions have ``filters'' for automatically sending certain mail to the garbage. This works like a killfile for a newsreader. I recommend Eudora because I never hear complaints about it, have some long-ago satisfactory personal experience with it, and I do hear complaints about Netscape and especially about the MS products. As of June 2002, you can download Eudora Pro and pay $40 to use it or else have an ad appear. Alternatively, you can use Eudora Lite for free. It's named after Eudora Welty (really), so what more could you want? (Eudora Welty's story ``Why I Live At The P.O.'' was published in 1941; Eudora the MUA uses POP. The name Eudora is derived from Greek roots meaning `good gift'; the Eudora Lite version is free.)
  • Pegasus Mail. This seems to be an older product than Eudora, and not as popular. For all I know it may be just as good as Eudora.
  • Netscape (Mailer/Messenger) [identified as ``Mozilla'' in headers]. Not recommended. See this document.
  • Mozilla. Son of Netscape, released in June 2002.
  • Microsoft Mail, Exchange, Outlook, Outlook Express. These are big-time antisocial; please read this if you use or are contemplating using a Microsoft MUA to post to a list.

Museum of Underwater Archaeology.

MUltiple Paths, Beyond-Line-of-Sight COMmunications. NASAnese.

Memorial University College. The forerunner of the Memorial University of Newfoundland (see Memorial entry).

Spanish word meaning young man. In certain parts of Venezuela, and nowhere else AFAIK, muchacho blanco (blanco is `white') is the name of a cut of meat.

Midwest Universities Consortium for International Activities, Inc.

Montreal Urban Community Transit Corporation. This was the English name of the STCUM before it became politically incorrect to have one. Conceivably, Montreal may have been written Montréal, though it's not likely to have been pronounced that way.

MultiUser Detector. Used in MC/CDMA.

MultiUser Domain. Also ``Multiple User Dungeon,'' and ``... Dimension.'' There are some FAQ's for MUD's from Usenet newsgroup <rec.games.mud>, maintained by Jennifer "Moira" Smith, who has a homepage with a link to the evil green ribbon conspiracy. Cf. MOO.


mud's sister
An obscure term that occurs in A. E. Housman's ``A Fragment of a Greek Tragedy.'' I rank this at a felicity level tantamount to ``balloon smuggler.''

Housman's ``Fragment'' parodies English translations of Ancient Greek that are awkward and worse, and also parodies a Greek predilection for metaphor. Housman's phrase was suggested by some words in the Agamemnon of Aeschylus (at 494f; speech that different editors have assigned to either Clytemnestra or the chorus): kasis / pêlou xunouros dipsia konis (`the dust, dry sister of the mire,' in Lattimore's translation). In Housman's parody, mud's sister is clearly also dried mud:

  Chorus: Beneath a shiny, or a rainy Zeus?
Alcmaeon: Mud's sister, not himself, adorns my shoes.

Of course, out of context it obviously makes a wonderful dysphemism-as-over-the-top-euphemism for merde.

There are many online copies of Housman's parody, though they probably represent very few original transcriptions of the published work. (Besides the copy linked above, here are three URL's that have stood the test of time: 1, 2, and 3.) The online versions I've seen all give it the title ``Fragment of a Greek Tragedy,'' but the Encyclopedia Britannica is careful (or careless -- I'm not sure which, yet) to give the title with an initial article ``A.'' That is the usual style for new fragments as published in philology journals, and would be appropriate for a parody. The version (from Trinity Magazine, see below) published in Housman's Collected Poems and Selected Prose (Penguin, 1988) uses the shorter title, but that does not entirely settle the question. Please don your dustmask now.

Housman (1859-1936) wrote ``Fragment'' in 1883, and it appeared June 8 of that year in the Bromsgrovian, a publication of King Edward the Sixth Grammar School, Bromsgrove. [That was where he got his secondary education. He also retreated to Bromsgrove in 1882 after an initially promising undergraduate career at St. John's College (Oxford) ended disappointingly. By December 1882 he was working at the Patent Office in London.] Housman reentered academia as a professor of Latin at University College, London, in 1892; the circumstances have been widely retailed. ``Fragment'' was republished by the University College Gazette in 1897, the year after Housman published A Shropshire Lad at his own expense. (Sales of the latter were initially slow, but they picked up by the time of the Boer War, and during WWI it became enormously popular). Cornhill Magazine republished ``Fragment'' in April 1901. Housman moved to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1911, and Trinity Magazine republished ``Fragment'' in February 1921. Housman remained at Trinity until his death in 1936, but for some reason Yale Review republished the parody in 1928. It went on being republished.

Housman made a considerable revisions for the second (Cornhill) and third (Trinity) publications. In 1927, when Wilbur Cross asked permission for the Yale Review to republish ``Fragment,'' Housman (referring to it by the no-``A'' version of the title) turned down the offer of an honorarium but asked to have a chance to correct the proofs. He also mentioned that he didn't have a copy, but suggested that Cross could find it in Cornhill. When YR did publish it, ``recent changes'' by the author were vaguely mentioned. Interestingly, or perhaps not, apart from a couple of misprints the YR version coincided with the third (Trinity) version, but with the punctuation of the second (Cornhill). (This is by report. If and when I have a look at the Cornhill and, conceivably, the Bromsgrovian, I'll be able to pronounce on the title.)

New York State has an official muffin.

Mutual UFO Network. They have a form and good advice for reporting UFO sightings.

Multiple User Interference. Interference from other users of the same multiple-access system. Also called MAI.

Latin American usage, or at least Argentine, referring to a boy who prefers to hang out with girls or play girls' games.

Spanish, `effeminate.'

MULTI-vitamins. Multi-vitamin tablets.

FYI, the word vitamin is pronounced with a short i in England.

Multicultural. Expressing a diversity of moving personal testimonies of oppression and victimization that lead to a perfect ideological homogeneity.

I was inspired to enter this entry in the glossary by the character of Marie, who can add and multiply but not subtract (see 40). Of course, you remember the one about Noah. (Bear with me, it gets better.)

In case you had a deprived childhood: after Noah opened the ark (or was it the arc?) he told the animals to go forth and multiply. One pair of snakes protested, ``We're adders -- we can't multiply!'' Nevertheless, some time later they came back with a bunch of little snakelets or adderlets or 7483's or whatever they're called, and Noah asked how they did it. ``We used logs.''

Oh! I just knew I'd told that one before. See the etymologically interesting adder entry.

Someone else who really couldn't multiply was Samuel Pepys. He and his dear young wife never had children. The very first entry of his diary mentions that his wife had given him ``hopes of her being with child,'' hopes disappointed the previous day. Hmm. Okay, that was pretty limp. Coming after the snake pun, it was the pits. I can do better than that if I try.

multiplication table
Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) said
There is no national science just as there is no national multiplication table; what is national is no longer science.

(Quoted in Mysli o nauke by V. P. Ponomarev (Kishinev, 1973), p. 121.)

multi-talented athlete
Standout in an Olympic ``demonstration'' sport like bowling (q.v.), snooker, shuffleboard, curling, super-G tiddly-winks, speed chess, synchronized squat-thrusts or head games.

Maharashi University of Management. It's situated in Fairfield, Iowa, but that's just like -- you know -- in the real world. That's not where it's at. Relevant information concerning Iowa can be found in the Dax entry. MUM is pronounced ``mum.'' Maybe it ought to be pronounced ``mmmmmmmmmm ommmm.'' In England ``mum'' means ``mom.'' This is called recherché. Of course, if I hadn't already known it, it would have been recherche.

An appropriate abbreviation for the Missoula's University of Montana.

Why is it appropriate, you ask? Because they restrict students' political speech in ways that are not merely immoral but absurdly so. Read about it in this George F. Will column of October 25, 2007. It's about a student who was removed from his unexalted position as a student senator in the ASUM because he spent a penny per voter more than was allowed during the campaign. (If the link dies, let me know and I'll summarize more here.)

The initialism common on the university's own pages is the inferior and ambiguous UM. Maybe we could compromise on the filled pause, UMM?

Multi-User MEMS Processes. Visit this page.

Memorial University of Newfoundland. Most of our content on MUN is at the Memorial entry, for technical reasons.

Model United Nations. The presence of their acronym expansions here can not be taken as an endorsement of the MUN or of the UN.

mung, MUNG
Modify, esp. destructively. Once expressed something done to a data file. Now often used to describe the action of modifying an email address to prevent its automatic harvesting for spam purposes (see spam trap).

The etymology of mung is uncertain. The cluster of meanings represented by French manger, Italian mangiare, English munch and mange represents one obvious possibility, but would imply a ``soft gee'' and a spelling like munge. An alternative that gives the right consonant is derivation from a past-tense form of the verb ming (now mingle).

By 1960 at MIT, the word had become a backronym, with imputed expansion Mash Until No Good. Later, the XARA MUNG Until No Good became popular.

The information that is both in the mung entry of the Jargon File (version 4.4.7) and in this entry is from the former. The OED2 does not give any hackish senses, but its examples suggest that the old word mung, in senses related to mingle, had not been an entirely obscure word in the US as the computer era began.

mung bean
The mung bean, or mung, is a leguminous plant with light-green seeds, widely cultivated in tropical Asia. One educated Taiwanese told me that it is considered one of the kinds of rice. It is grown as a pulse (you need to read this entry) in South Asia, and also as green fodder. Also, the food sold as ``bean sprouts'' is the sprouts of mung bean.

What happened to this entry!!??

mung friends
Like peasen a pod. Bean companions.

Muni, MUNI
MUNIcipal railway. City transit operator in San Francisco, CA, including the historic cable cars as well as bus, trolleybus, and streetcar (trolley car) lines. Cf. BART, CalTrain, GGT.

MUlti-channel Network Interface Controller. THe term was coined by Siemens, a German company. Munich is the English name of the Bavarian capital, known as München in German.

MUltiple REflection of X-rays.

Multidisciplinary research program of the University Research Initiative.

Multidisciplinary is very fashionable in government research funding these days, and they're getting increasingly serious about it: they don't want a bunch of Lone Rangers who only meet at funding reviews.

muriatic acid
Commercial name of hydrochloric acid [HCl(aq)]. The name comes from the Latin muriaticus, `pickled in brine,' from muria, `brine,' which is not independently attested in other languages.

A small diving bird, but it makes a long skid mark on the Scrabble tablelands.

`Mouse' in Latin. The English word mouse is not derived from Latin mus or Greek mûs, but is simply a cognate going back through proto-Germanic (like German Maus) to an Indo-European root. Cognates are found in Slavic languages and Armenian.

The diminutive Latin form musculus is also the basis of words for muscle, mussel, shoulder, and thigh in various Romance and Germanic languages. Some Romance languages also preserve the root for an animal name (French mouche) and some don't. Spanish uses the word ratón. This is puzzling because it looks like an augmentative form of rata, `rat.' I would presume that the -on in ratón is related to the identical French and Occitan diminutive ending (cf. aileron and lumignon), but Corominas y Pascual prefer more complicated explanations.

Musca. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation. Musca is Latin for `fly,' the common insect; mus is Latin for `mouse,' the common rodent. Spanish `fly' is mosca; Spanish fly isn't.

MUltipoint Switching And Conferencing unit. Term coined by Siemens, a German company. Name is uncomfortably reminiscent of Muzak, which looks like German.

Software for searching and viewing Classical text CD-ROM's from TLG and PHI.

Medical University of South Carolina. Cf. musk.

Museo del Objeto del Objeto
A Mexico City museum founded in 2010. The literal translation `Museum of the Object of the Object' corresponds fairly accurately. The Spanish nouns ``objeto, objetivo, propósito'' stand in similar semantic relationships to ``object, objective, purpose.'' In particular, appropriate contexts make the first word equivalent to the other two. A propósito [`By the way, À propos'], ``appropriate contexts'' tend not to include highly idiomatic expressions.

The name (Museo del Objeto del Objeto) is somewhat clever, but it'd've been cleverer had it been accurate. One motivation for choosing the name is that it makes an apparent backronym -- MODO. I haven't written that entry yet.


MUltiuser Shared Hallucination. Kristina Pfaff has gathered information on MUD's, MOO's, and other Virtual Environments with an ESL/EFL orientation.

mushrooms, They treat us like
They keep us in the dark and feed us shit.

Other mushroom entries: BMS, CANDU, kombucha.

musical reference
Intertextuality is pervasive in music, even overwhelming. Fortunately, we have very few entries that involve references (in music or not) to music or things musical. The only ones I can track down right now are

Okay, here's another musical reference, of a sort similar to those described in the Day Tripper entry: at the end of the Traffic's ``Dear Mr. Fantasy'' (at the end of a standard studio version that appears in some album) the guitars start doing some power-chord riffs from the Moody Blues song ``Ride My See-Saw.''

music font
A ``music font,'' as the term is used on the internet, does not refer to a special symbol font for writing clefs, notes, joins, pauses, etc. Instead, it generally refers to fonts of ordinary characters stylized for use on album covers and such. Dang.

music for snorkeling
(BTW, don't wear headphones in the water. There are more certain ways to commit suicide. More below.) Now the list:

Doubtless there are whole albumsful of snorkeling songs. The above are just the ones that have come to mind in the last few years.

If you plan to listen to any of these using electronic sound reproduction equipment, wait until you're back on dry land. Water conducts (come back some day and read the future torpedo entry), and it's hard to hum along in noseplugs and mouthpiece, to say nothing of a shroud.

The relevance of water saltiness, although Sheik does not sing the details, is that dissolved salt makes water denser, and thus makes a swimmer more buoyant. Counterweights are thus necessary for snorkeling in it, and the song is appropriately downbeat. (Salt water is also a better conductor of electricity.) I remember that my tenth-grade English teacher (the second one, after my dad had me removed from Honors English), Mr. O_________, criticized me for using an extended simile involving water waves, crushing youthful literary aspirations I didn't even have, but it didn't involve punning, and anyway he (Mr. O) also insisted that it was Aristotle and not Democritus or anyone else who came up with the idea of atoms, which shows how much he knew, but I don't recall his ever criticizing my extended run-on sentences, but then again maybe that stands to reason. Whatever. Getting back to the subject: when I finish the item on burping the alphabet, I'll link to it from here.

music to celebrate a tornado
Just to be clear and explicit, or at least explicit: many kinds of music are appropriate to celebrate that a tornado has passed, but not all songs celebrate that a tornado has passed at all. Pharrell Williams's song ``Happy'' is in the second category. It begins by conceding the apparent incongruity of being happy in the circumstances: ``It might seem crazy what I'm 'bout to say....'' But the chorus affirms ``Because I'm happy... Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.''

Celebration of tornadoes is a perennial theme in popular music. Lionel Richie's 1986 hit, ``Dancing On The Ceiling,'' also asks listeners to clap their hands. What goes around comes around, pretty fast. But the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis hit, ``Can't Hold Us'' -- the one which features Ray Dalton singing ``So we put our hands up like the ceiling can't hold us'' -- celebrates earthquakes and not tornadoes. That's obviously the reason why the official video has a seaplane and a camel. (A plane is a safe place to be during an earthquake, but landing strips may be damaged. And being trapped in the rubble of a collapsed tent is fairly survivable.)

An animal harvested for its pheromones. Cf. MUSC.

Uh, uh, uh -- look, why don't you go ask at the musterbation entry?

Behaving as you think you should, even though you don't want to.

A ``neat little word'' coined by Albert Ellis, according to Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. (See F.O.O.L.) Apparently Ellis and Dyer agree that musterbation is a bad thing. That's strange -- I thought it was supposed to be natural and ... oh sorry, that was the other word.

Okay, more precisely, so far as I can determine from Dyer's book (at pp. 148-9), musterbation is the inappropriate acceptance of obligations that others somehow impose. This is not Dyer's wording, because his book would have made a short pamphlet if he had preferred clear sentences to unclear paragraphs. It also makes explicit, in the word inappropriate, the presence of at least one unexamined notion. Acceptance of societal norms is not always inappropriate or self-abnegating. And musterbation isn't a ``little'' word, either.

German: `courage.' A noun that is masculine. (You know the etymology of virtue, right? Good. No -- I mean, you know what I mean.)

Some other German words ending in -ut that have a close cognate in English are Blut, Flut, gut, and Hut. The cognates are blood, flood, good, and hood, although in the last case a better translation is usually `hat.'

German Mut is cognate with English mood. The semantic relationship is clearer if you consider that mood has meanings similar to spirit, and that you may en-courage someone by saying ``have some spirit!'' Or, failing that, ``have some spirits!'' Which reminds me, you need to reread this CCC entry.

Getting back to the hood/Hut thing. Let me briefly clarify that -hood in English words like brotherhood and neighborhood is unrelated; it's cognate with the German noun-forming suffix -heit (and later also -keit). The hat Hut is more interesting. With a change to feminine gender it becomes an elevated term with meanings related to `protection.' But back to the concrete Hut, indicated by the masculine gender: I won't tell you what a Panamahut is, but Strohhut and Zylinderhut are `straw hat' and `top hat.' A Fingerhut is a...

(Giving you some space to guess here.)

(Come on, play along!)


`thimble.' And of course, Handschuh is `glove.' It's not just clothing; the Germans seem to have a certain attitude about bodily extremities. The word Bein means `leg.' It's cognate with the English word bone. (Actually, this isn't very innovative. There's evidence that the word always had a narrower sense of `shank,' which was lost in English.)

mutual bitter recrimination
The attractive feature of this form of debate is that... Hmmm. I was going to say that you're virtually assured that at least one side is right, but I guess that's only true if the discussion rises to the level of abstract mud-slinging.

mutual respect
Bilateral hypocrisy.

MUX, Mux, mux
MUltipleXer, MUltipleXing. A mux is often seen travelling in the company of its confederate, the demux, since parties like to receive as well as send. That combination is called a mux for short or more precisely a...

mux/demux, MUX/DEMUX
MUltipleXer/DEMUltipleXer pair.

I should probably say a little about what multiplexing is. The action involves multiple distinct signals that must be bandwidth-limited. For example, because the human ear is insensitive to continuous signals at pitches above 20 kHz, it is possible to apply a low-pass filter (filter out all frequencies above fLP) to any sound and produce a signal that is not audibly distinguishable from the original (to some degree, any recording or transducing device will filter anyway). If this signal is modulated by a constant frequency fM, then the resulting signal occupies the frequency range (fM-fLP,fM+fLP). Multiple signals can be modulated by different modulating frequencies (typically integer multiples of some fM). So long as each of the modulating frequencies differs by more than 2fLP, the modulated signals occupy non-overlapping frequency regions. These signals can be added together and transmitted together on a channel with a broader bandwidth, and the original signals reconstructed by demodulating the component signals.

Eventually, I'll probably add some words to make clear what I mean by ``modulate,'' but for now I want to mention that in practice, telephones economize bandwidth by using a tight low-pass filter -- chopping frequencies higher than 3000 or 5000 Hz, say. This allows the company to multiplex more signals into one channel, but it also means that the sounds ess and eff are virtually indistinguishable over the phone. (It's actually a band-pass filter: very low frequencies are also filtered out. For obvious reasons they also filter out any signal at the frequency of ordinary power supply -- 50 or 60 Hz, in most places -- even more strongly than they would be filtered out just from being on the fall-off of the band-pass.)

  1. Elevator music.
  2. An inhabitant of a region on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River around about Fort Lee, as illustrated on the New Yorker cover for December 10, 2001 (``New Yorkistan,'' by Maira Kalman & Rick Meyerowitz).


A loan word from Russian. Originally, it (and moujik) meant only `peasant.' (Actually, one of my Russian-English dictionaries says it meant and means `Russian peasant.' I take that as an accident of usage.) Now the more common sense of the word ranges from `strong man' and `macho' to `fellow, buddy.' The classic image of a muzhik is a strong guy holding a kettlebell at shoulder level, the weight resting on his forearm. It looks like the approved style for one-handed self-administered whisky-from-a-jug. (In English, of course, only the strong-man acception is common.) The notion that peasants are stronger than city folk is widespread and not entirely unreasonable.

There's an old Russian saying that what is healthy to a Russian is deadly to a German. The form with the nationalities switched is also common, but less so.

Productive infix and suffix for IBM-3000 series machine names. E.g., the IBM 3081 mainframe at UB (University at Buffalo) is (or was, by now, I imagine) <ubvm.buffalo.edu>. Also MVS, as in uokmvsa at the University of Oklahoma (in Norman). I guess em and vee stand for machine and virtual, but VM was already taken by Digital; but I don't know.

(Domain name code for) Maldives.

Maldives is the smallest member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The UNDP has a human development index used to rank countries on the basis of things like life expectancy, education, and income. In 1996, Maldives's six partners in SAARC were ranked from 89 (Sri Lanka) up (or maybe down: Pakistan: 134, India: 135 -- was this close match cooked?, Bangladesh: 143, Nepal: 151, and Bhutan, 158). Wasn't Maldives even ranked? No matter. In Havana on September 6, 1979, Maldives President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom addressed the sixth conference of the Nonaligned Movement (NAM) in these words:

Ours is a small country in relation to the majority of the countries that are represented here. We may lack numbers; we may lack in material wealth; we may lack in technological advancement; in fact, we may lack in many of the material criteria by which progress is measured in the present-day world.

He also said other stuff. Speaking as he did is called ``setting yourself up'' or ``asking for it.''

Materialized View.

Postal code for Mecklenburg-West Pomerania (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in German), one of the sixteen states (Länder) of the German Federal Republic (FRG). [Like most of the country information in this glossary, Germany's is at the entry for its domain code -- .de in this instance.] The area of MV is 23,170 sq. km., and its population was estimated at 1,816,000 for 1997. The same state, under the name Mecklenburg, was part of the old East Germany. East Pomerania was absorbed into Poland at the end of WWII. The capital of the state, through various forms of government, has been and continues to be Schwerin.

The name Mecklenburg basically means `great fortress.' Burg means `fortress,' though it seems to get conflated with berg (`mountain'). The adjective part of the name comes from the Old High German root michil, `big,' as in the old English expression ``mickle and pickle'' (big and small). Hence also the extant expression, ``Many a pickle makes a mickle.'' There seem to have been cognates of mickle in most of the Germanic languages, and English is, typically, unusual in having lost the original form. Maybe it lost twice. The High German form, borrowed northward, seems to come from an ancient borrowing through Gothic of the Greek megalo-, lengthened stem form of mégas. The root is widely represented in Indo-European languages, including that outlier Hittite. The Latin reflex is magnus. So what English lost once or twice it gained back at least a couple of times more.

Motor Vehicle.

MoVe. Name of Unix command for renaming files and directories. If you have to move across partition or to a different storage medium, you may need to cp (and rm at the original location), since you're not just renaming.

Motor-Vehicle Accident. An ER abbreviation.

Museo Archeologico Virtuale. (Italian; calls itself ``Archaeological Virtual Museum.'') Since the initials aren't ordered according to the Italian or English name, I suppose the arrangement is chosen to put a vowel at the end, as almost all Italian words have, and thus suggest the pronunciation emeva.

The site is intended, among other things, to foster a kind of virtual community by providing free web space for those volunteering to build a relevant group of pages.

Mean Volume Diameter. (Diameter of aerosol sphere computed from ratio of mass density to concentration.)

Microwave Video Distribution System.

Multiple-Valued Logic. (Multiple being more than two.)

{ Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana } Veterinary Medical Association. See also AVMA.

Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association of the United States. The MVMA is remembered today for an administrative law case -- MVMA v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. -- which reached the US Supreme Court, where the MVMA lost in 1982. The MVMA was still in existence in 1992, but eventually became or renamed itself the AAMA (which in turn became the AAM in 1999).

Medial Vestibular Nucleus.

Mount VernoN, Illinois. IATA code for the airport there (Mount Vernon Outland Airport). Located within easy walking distance of nowhere.

Multi-Valued Neuron. Neurons, as they occur in artificial neural nets, are like logic gates. (For really biological context, see this other MVN.) Ordinary logic gates are Boolean functions: they depend on inputs which each take values in the domain {0,1} (or differently named but equivalent set of cardinality 2) and yield an output in the same two-valued range. Perceptrons and neurons generalize logic gates: they are continuous-valued functions of multiple continuous-valued inputs. In a slight concession to reality, the range of continuous values is compact. Typically, the domain and range of allowed values are the unit interval or complex numbers on a unit circle. MVN's are intermediate between these: the inputs are continuous, but the output takes a discrete set of allowed values (e.g., the n distinct complex nth roots of 1).

Mitral-Valve Prolapse. Not just a symptom, but a syndrome: a genetic disorder that's a sort of much less dangerous version of Marfan's syndrome.

Most Valuable Player.


Mitteilungen des Vereins Klassischer Philologen in Wien. German classics journal no longer published -- `Contributions of the Vienna Society of Classical Philologists.'

Multiple Virtual Storage. Operating system (OS) for popular IBM 3000-series computers. Full name is OS/MVS. Or MVS/ESA. Introduced in 1988.

Multiple Virtual Storage/Enterprise Systems Architecture.

Multiple Virtual Storage/System Product.

Multiple Virtual Storage/Extended Architecture.

Main Window.

(Domain name code for) Malawi. We don't have much information on Malawi here. You'll have better luck at the EP entry.

Medium Wave. Around 1 MHz.

MW, M-W, M/W
Merriam-Webster (dictionary).

Megawatt. This unit often reminds me of Indonesian leader Megawati Sukarnoputri. The second name is a(n optional) patronymic in the traditional Javanese style. It indicates that she is the daughter of Sukarno (the first president of Indonesia). Sukarno's sons got Sukarnoputra. (Emily Yoffe explained this stuff at slate. (Sukarno and Sukarnoputri are also written Soekarno and Soekarnoputri, with what seems to be slightly less frequency than the -u- forms, and it seems that might be the offocial spelling. I'm sort of surprised that the question could be in much doubt.)

MW, µW
MicroWave. For a report discussing microwave radiation effects on inorganic edible matter, click 'ere.

Minimum Weight (of load or loaded vehicle). Not maximum.

Molecular Weight.

Mystery Writers of America. Yes, yes, I confess! I done it.

MidWest Association for Learning Laboratories. Old name of MWALLT.

MidWest Association for Language Learning Technology.

MidWestern American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. ``[A] regional interdisciplinary association, founded in 1969,'' and affiliated with ASECS. As explained on the homepage, the organization serves ``that region of the United States described in [the MWASECS] constitution as `west of the Allegheny Mountains, north of the Ohio River, east of the Rocky Mountains, and south of Canada.' (Our founders apparently took the long historical view and were skeptical of the stability of political borders!)'' The website designer has selected to illustrate the homepage an old map that labels the region south of the Great Lakes as ``Canada.'' [This other location is currently (2004) equivalent to that linked from the top of this entry.]

Mean (number of) Wafers Between Defects.

Molecular Weight (MW) Cut-off.

Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. Collegiate Dictionary is a euphemism for ``severely abridged dictionary.''

MidWest Conference on East Asian Thought. The Third Annual MWCEAT was held in 2005, and there hasn't been another since. This is either because all outstanding questions on East Asian thought were answered at that time, or because everyone was exhausted by the ten-syllable name. They should have used the initialism proposed by this entry.

Measurement While Drilling (instruments). Something to do with oil and gas drilling. I wouldn't know; ask here. Well, okay: MWD was introduced starting in the mid-1980's. They're heavy-duty instruments mounted around the drill string. They provide downhole data in real time; previously, drilling had to be stopped and the drill string and bit removed to lower-in measurement instrumentation.

A Bantu language spoken in southern coastal Tanzania. In my personal experience, the principal utility of this language is in permitting you to complete the construction of a crossword that has compensatory virtues.

Man Who Has Sex With Men. About as common as MWSWM (``...Who Sleeps With..''), to judge by ghits. It's interesting, because WWSWW is much more common than WWHSWW. I guess men don't hang around afterwards. MSM is the most common of the synonymous M*M initialisms.

Man Who Has Sex With Women. This acronym exists only in principle. To use it would just be weird.

Message-Waiting Indicator.

Motif Window Manager.

Multi-Walled NanoTub[ul]e.

M word
I thought it was taboo to use the M-word on a first date; she told me how her parents met and asked me how my parents met.
U.E. Expert:
A biologist:
[Facial expression conveying ibid.]
Banjo Expert:
I knew that.

You know, there are certain questions people planning to marry don't often ask themselves, like:

Medieval Warm Period. A period of unusually warm weather lasting from about the seventh century to the fourteenth.

MultiWire Proportional Chamber. Georges Charpak won the 1992 Nobel prize in physics for inventing the MWPC in 1968. (They're also called Charpak counters.) I was paid to wire some of these things for an experimental elementary particles group at Rutgers in 1977 and possibly in 1978, and in 1977 I worked at the experimental sites at Brookhaven and Fermilab.

Charpak spent his career at the École Supérieure de Physique et Chimie and at CERN. When I was running the data analysis programs (punch cards on CDC 6400/6600's, sonny boy, with 36-bit words just to be slightly exotic) at Fermilab, I noticed that they were written in Fortran with comments in French. I don't think I ever gave much thought to why, though practically everyone in our group was American (the one exception I can recall was British).

These research groups are very long-lived, so the program might have been coded locally by a Francophone who had moved on before I arrived, but it would have been more efficient just to cadge someone else's code. At Fermilab I also met members of a group from UC Santa Something that decided to save a few bucks on computers by buying Data General machines (Novas?) instead of the PDP-11's that were almost universal at Fermilab experimental sites. The result was that they lost more in extra coding to adapt the widely shared local software than they gained in hardware cost savings.

Major Weapon System.

MultiWire Slurry (saw).

Midwest Symposium on Circuits and Systems.

Before the general interest magazine Midwest was launched, the publishers did some market research, asking among other things which states people in their target region considered to be a part of the midwest. It was reported that Iowa (IA) was the only state that appeared on everyone's list. I think this may have had something to do with the surveying technique. [In 1996, the Midwest Symposium on Circuits and Systems was held at Iowa State.] Be all that as it may, I don't believe that even that idiot survey found very many who regarded California as part of the Midwest. The 1997 MWSCAS was in California. Then again, the 1995 symposium was held in southeastern Brazil.

[column] Oh wait, here's something: The Eleventh Pacific Rim Roman Literature Seminar was held by the Department of Classics, University of Natal, Durban, South Africa, 18-22 June 1997. And they went back to South Africa in 2003! (University of Stellenbosch, in Stellenbosch, South Africa, Wednesday June 25 to Saturday June 28.) I guess they wanted a point that was roughly equidistant from all of the Pacific rim, but not in the Pacific.

Mehrwertsteuer. German, `increased-value tax' (VAT).

Men Who Sleep With Men (for other reasons than a shortage of beds). See MWHSWM.

Man Who Sleeps With Women. That's it?! Just sleeps with 'em? What a pervert! No wonder this concept hasn't been turned into an acronym.

Mail eXchange[r].

(Domain code for) Mexico.

eXperimental Missile. The MX program that was news mostly during the Carter administration just happened to have kept its designation (and of course it never got too far off the drawing board, let alone off the ground).

Module XBus Cache Controller.

Material eXchange Format.

(Domain code for) Malaysia.

Here's the very sparse Malaysian page of an X.500 directory, maybe it'll fill up later.

The way to remember that MY stands for Malaysia and not for its neighbor Myanmar is to think of .my and remember that internet access is illegal in Myanmar. (Pretty much, anyway. Maybe they've had a little political thaw and allowed people to take occasional deep breaths also. If it weren't for countries like Myanmar, countries like Malaysia would look like dictatorships. Hmmm.)

Googling for engine stuff in 2004, I discovered that Myanmar has an industry! It's called PANSAR, which sounds like a Spanish verb that would mean doing something with your belly. (La panza is Spanish for `the belly.' The name of Don Quixote's Sancho Panza was originally spelled Sancho Pança. The second name was pronounced then, and is still pronounced in most of the non-Iberian Spanish-speaking world, like Pansa.) Pansar would probably be a word for doing something quite specific with a belly, but since the verb does not exist, it is equally likely to be anything, such as pounding something with a belly or vice versa, sort of like sumo wrestling. For other Japanese belly information, see the navel exercises entry.

On second thought, there's a Spanish verb pensar, `to think.' When you're seriously hungry, your belly does a lot of your thinking. My mother is slowly writing her memoirs now. They involve a period when she was a refugee, but start when she was a little Jewish girl growing up in Nazi Germany. Concluding one early anecdote, she writes ``so you see, I was interested in food even before it became scarce.''

The myotto of PANSAR is ``everyday in so many ways we are part of you.'' (Rather weak Coué imitation.) I think that one you they refer to is Yanmar Co., Ltd., a Japanese firm. They missed a real opportunity here; they could have called it Anmar, and then your account at the web site (please allow cookies) would be MyAnmar! For more humorous Japanese -- oh wait, we did that already.

Model Year.

My Day in Court
The title of a book by Arthur Train, published in 1939 by Charles Scribner's Sons. An autobiography, it begins `I enjoy the dubious distinction of being known among lawyers as a writer, and among writers as a lawyer.'' He also writes that ``[t]hese reminiscences are in no sense an autobiography.'' The main reason for reading his books is the same as his reason for working too many years (see p. 253) in the DA's office: it's a good source of material.

Some of that material is finding its way into this glossary and lodging in entries such as these:

  1. judge names
  2. supreme court of New York State
  3. trigamy defense
  4. yclepe

Model Year Emissions. I.e., emissions by a particular model year of vehicles.

My Friends
This unusual term has a completely different meaning in the vocative case than any other case. In the vocative case, it means prospective voters.

MalaYsian Network Information Center.

Mind Your Own Business. A mercantile admonition, I suppose.

myrbane, essence of
Nitrobenzene. One of various traditional trivial names. See the entry for essence of mirbane.

myrbane, oil of
Nitrobenzene. One of various traditional trivial names. See the entry for essence of mirbane.

MyRRh's, Myrrh's
MY Regular Restaurant. (The aitch is silent. In fact, in the expansion it's even invisible. The 's is there as a sort of grammatical restaurant marker.) I just invented this acronym because I prefer not to identify the specific establishment in this glossary, and also so as to have a particularly egregious example of a backronym. MyRRh's is not widely used in this sense. In fact, a Google search on <<"my regular restaurant" "MyRRh">> and related queries yield no hits.

MyRRh's is preferable to ``my regular restaurant'' not only because it's brief and because it needlessly inconveniences or confuses glossary readers, but also because it need not be accurate. I mean, if I were to write ``my regular restaurant,'' I'd have to consider whether the phrase is true each time. But MyRRh's merely stands for ``my regular restaurant.'' In the interests of brevity, I can leave out details that might yield MyRRhULY's (``until last year'') or MyRRhiahaU's (``in an [h] alternate universe''). But it happens to be accurate as I write this.

`Maybe You Should Drive.' An album from the BNL.

A city in India and the possessive form of Isore.


Mythology, Classical
Start at this page. (You can also take a shortcut to divine landLords.)

Mach-Zehnder Interferometer.

(Domain code for) Mozambique.

MonoZygotic Twins. (``Identical'' twins: embryos, and individuals, arising from the splitting of a single fertilized egg.) Cf. DZT.

MuZeum of TeleVision, right? One could be forgiven for supposing so -- This is TV, after all. FWIW, however, the MZTV Museum of Television is headed by Moses Znaimer. ``Headed'' here does not mean that when the opponents' goalie drop-kicked television into midfield, MZ tried to return it by bouncing it off his head, unfortunately. Rather, it means he is ``Chairman and Executive Producer, MZTV Museum.'' The position of ``executive producer'' is not common among museums, but this is TV, after all. The museum's main asset is the Moses Znaimer Collection (of superannuated TV sets and related junk). I am informed that Moses Znaimer is a bright light of the TV firmament as seen from Toronto, where the museum is located. He seems to be the TV-industry equivalent of an ecotourism promoter. No general-admission hours for the museum are stated as such (that I can find), but there are guided tours for the public between 2pm and 4pm on weekdays. Perfect for the differently-employed.

Mission Statement (from this superannuated page):

To collect, preserve, and exhibit the World's most comprehensive collection of North American Television Receivers, from the formative, first fifty year period between the 1920s & 1970s. To contribute to the understanding of the impact of television. To help tell the story of television.

Related Goals:

To accumulate relevant books, magazines, videos, discs, photographs, personal papers and ephemera. To provide a learning resource.

Ah, yes -- where would we be without ``learning''? The new improved web site integrates Macintoxic features (too-responsive graphics, nonstandard codepoints for standard characters, etc.) to cleverly reproduce one of the most characteristic features of TV: annoyance. The medium is the message, and the message is annoying. If you want content, like information about museum hours, follow the link for the low-bandwidth/dialup-user site.

Full disclosure: In 1976 I went to a Halloween party dressed as a television (a Zenith ``portable''). It was hard to dance. The next year I obtained superior results by dressing as a pop-up toaster and using the two-quart glass unit from a blender as my beer stein.

Mach-Zehnder Modulator.

The Crab Nebula, a supernova remnant. Vide M###.

The standard infantry gun for US soldiers that was eventually replaced by the M16.

The standard gun for US infantry, it replaced the earlier M1.

The Eagle Nebula, a diffuse nebula. Vide Messier catalog (M###).

Manager-to-Manager. The blind leading the blind.

Andromeda Galaxy. Large galaxy nearest the Milky Way. Vide Messier catalog (M###). Illustrated below.

[d/l from wuarchive.wustl.edu/multimedia/images/gif/a/andromeda.gif]

The Pleiades Nebula, a diffuse nebula. Vide Messier catalog (M###).

The Lagoon Nebula. Vide Messier catalog (M###). Five thousand light-years away, in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius.


M###: M1 to M110
110 Nebulae identified by Charles Messier (1730-1817), labeled in order as they appeared in his catalog (first edition 1781). He catalogued these fuzzy objects that had fixed positions in space in order to speed the identification of then-more-interesting fuzzy objects that do not: comets. It was Kant who first suggested that nebulae might be collections of stars -- i.e. galaxies. That is what many of them turned out to be, but in technical usage, astronomers are trying to restrict the term to something like its Latin meaning of `clouds.' Mark claims the astronomers won that battle decades ago. I must have been away.

Read more here and here.

``Messier'' is not the comparative of ``Messy.'' It's a French name pronounced Messy-ay in English.

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