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p, P
Momentum. Utility of the concept of momentum, and the fact of its conservation (in toto for a closed system) were discovered by Leibniz.

Page. Equivalently: pg.

Plurals: pp. and pgs.

Papa. Not an abbreviation here, just the FCC-recommended ``phonetic alphabet.'' I.e., a set of words chosen to represent alphabetic characters by their initials. You know, ``Alpha Bravo Charlie ... .'' The idea behind the choice is to have words that the listener will be able to guess at or reconstruct accurately even through noise (or narrow bandwidth, like a telephone).

You know, there are only a few thousand natural languages in use by humans today, yet among these, there are a few in which the child's word for father is mama.

Persuasion. A novel by Jane Austen. Not to be confused with P+P.

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

Hennig Brand discovered phosphorus in 1669 by isolating it from urine.

In Spanish, the mass noun fósforo means `phosphorus' (the substance, the element) and the singular count noun fósforo means `match' (the thing you light fires with).

Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate is subtitled A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances and Home Remedies. (Original Mexican edition copyright 1989; translation by Carol and Thomas Christensen copyright 1992.) Most months the recipes are for food, with quantities given in metric units. June (chapter 6), however, begins with a recipe for matches.

1 ounce powdered potassium nitrate

1/2 ounce minium

1/2 ounce powdered gum arabic

1 dram phosphorus



I suppose the ``conventional'' units reflect the fact that an American (a Dr. Brown) follows the recipe in the US. You know how it is with magical realism: you can have any big impossibility, but the trivial stuff must be strictly plausible.


The gum arabic is dissolved in enough hot water to form a paste that is not too thick; when the paste is ready, the phosphorus is added and dissolved into it, and the same is done with the potassium nitrate. Then enough minium is added to color the mixture.''

Phew! For a second, there, I was afraid she actually meant to use the saffron. If all she needs is a golden-yellow colorant, gold might be cheaper.

Potassium nitrate is ``saltpeter'' (see .cl entry). It is used as an oxidant in gunpowder (specifically the old ``black powder'') as well.

Pitcher. Baseball position #1. Throws from a mound 60.5 feet from HP. That's 60' 6". It wasn't always like that.

As explained on this page, for example, the range of allowed separation vector (between the pitcher's feet and home plate) is an element of baseball regulation that has been adjusted a few times. In 1893, the former pitcher's box (like the batter's box still used today), having been shrunk and moved further back in earlier reforms, was replaced by a plate (now more commonly called the ``rubber''). Previous specifications had always been in round numbers of feet, and the story goes that in 1893, the plate was supposed to be placed a distance 60 feet from home, but that a groundskeeper misread the number and put it at 60 feet, 6 inches. That distance is specified in rule 1.07 of the (uh, current) official rules of baseball. Or is that rule 1.67? (Okay, just kidding -- it's 1.07.)

In Spring 2004, Boston stations were running an ad featuring Curt Shilling, in which he retailed the misreading legend. I suspect that these ads led, indirectly, to the revision of this entry. I also suspect that if there was any miscommunication, it did not involve a misreading by a groundskeeper, but an ambiguous specification by an official, of precisely which part of the pitcher's plate was to be at the given distance. In any case, a single groundskeeper's error would presumably have less effect than a single official's poorly-drafted notice; reading of the latter is more likely than measurement of the former to affect fields further afield.

Plaza. Common abbreviation in Spanish city addresses.

Professional. A spacer in those highly concentrated doses of information one finds in personals ads. If it has a meaning, the meaning is something like ``is or was employed.'' So instead of being just a plain vanilla SWM, you can stand out from the crowd as a SWPM. It does make you wonder what an amateur male might be.

Professor, in cadet jargon.

P, p
Probability [density] [function]. As usual in the loose mathematical dialects of sciences, the same symbol is often used in various related ways. The following are the three simplest and most common mathematical objects that a symbol P might represent:

Priority. A key on an AUTOVON phone, q.v.


Latin, Publius. A praenomen, typically abbreviated when writing the full tria nomina.

His girlfriend called him Pooblioobly-oo. He hated when she would do that outside the senate.

[Football icon]


In the NFL, punters, kickers, and quarterbacks all have jersey numbers in the range 1-18. Let's go to the histogram!

number	P count		K count		QB count
 0					X
 1	XXX		XX
11					XXXXXXX
13					XXX
14					XXXXX
15	XX				XXX
16					XXXXX
17	X		X		XXX
18	X		X
(Each X represents one player. These statistics were abstracted from the roster data at <nfl.com>, as of Dec. 18, 2009, and count some but not all players that were cut from their teams during the season.)

I suppose it's no coincidence that 3 is the most popular jersey number for kickers and 7 the most popular for quarterbacks, though 6 and 8 would also be understandable. The greater popularity of 7 than 6 for QB's may reflect the attitude that PAT's are routine and usually successful, and may explain why 1 is not unusually popular for kickers. It also makes sense that no QB has the jersey number 2, since they're especially at risk for safeties. I suppose that it's also understandable that the most popular punter numbers are the relatively meaningless 4 and 9.

Protactinium. Atomic number 91. Naturally occurring, but not very much. The second letter ``oh'' in the original name (protoactinum) apparently dropped because some people don't care for diphthongs. (Actually, this is a common evolution that linguists call assimilation.) Learn more likely stories at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.

Palestinian (`self'-government) Authority. They prefer to be the ``PNA'' (Palestinian National Authority). It might be that this has some political point.

In 2007, it appears that the Palestinians may achieve not just one but two states. Hamas took over Gaza, and President Abbas (head of Fatah) dissolved the elected government, putting Fatah in control of the West Bank.

(Domain code for) Panama.

PAscal. The SI unit of pressure (1 pascal = 1 newton per square meter; Pa = N/m2). 1 MPa = 10 bars.

PAtio. See this NC entry regarding the possible prevalence of this real estate abbreviation.

PA, Pa.
PennsylvaniA. (Without the period is the USPS abbreviation or code.)

The Villanova Center for Information Law and Policy serves a page of Pennsylvania state government links. USACityLink.com has a page with some city and town links for the state.

Well, I can't find it now, but somewhere in this compendious reference work I should mention that Pennsylvania is known for having two seasons: Winter and Road Work. (I've been given to understand now that this climate is not unique to Pennsylvania.) It might have to do with the expansion of water on freezing. (Incidentally, I'm sure this isn't a stark distinction. It's more like NFL news coverage: from August to January, it's mostly part of the sports beat, and for the rest of the year it's mostly part of the crime beat.)

Benjamin Franklin was not the founder of Pennsylvania, but I think that answer gets partial credit. No, not Samuel Adams. Hint: the colony was once known as ``Penn's Woods.'' (See the entry for This is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you.)

p.a., pa
Per Annum. That would be Danish for `Peter the Accusatory Butt,' approximately. Oh wait -- that's with two ens. I guess then it's Latin for `per year.'

Just to kill the frog, I'll point out that the ``accusatory'' above is a pun that depends on the well-known fact that a final m is typical for singular nouns in the accusative case in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Sanskrit, and in Proto-Indo-European as generally reconstructed.

Personal Assistant. Term used primarily in the UK, not quite equivalent to secretary. In some contexts, the term is distinguished from a ``team secretary'' who does secretarial work for more than one boss; in others it refers to a higher level of competence and responsibility, even though the PA may answer to a group. Doesn't sound any too much better-defined than AA.

Physician Assistant. According to the AAPA, ``Physician assistants are health care professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. PAs employed by the federal government are credentialed to practice. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PAs conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery, and in most states can write prescriptions.''

Once when I was working at Naval Research Labs and got a cold (or maybe it was something worse!), I remembered that I was on a military base that had an infirmary. So I went there and my case was worked up by someone who was not a physician. I don't know if he was a nurse or a PA or what, but he carried a Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary to help him write the report that the physician would see. I think I was expected to make an appointment to return later. At least I didn't go to Walter Reed. Cf. VA.

Phosphatidic (Ptd) Acid.

Pointer Adjustment.

Points Against. You know, if you lose a few games big and win a bunch of close games, you can easily have a winning season with more points against than points for (PF). The electoral college sometimes works that way too. In 2000, ferinstance.

PolyAmide. Nylon. Sheesh: it can be damaged by exposure to alcohol. Gives new meaning to the old expression, ``candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.'' I guess that should be eye dialect, like likker, or licker.

Invented by Carothers in 1930. The polymer, I mean. Candy is older than that.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. As well as the seaport, it operates the New York City area's three major airports (including Newark International Airport, in NJ), various major bridges, the city bus terminal, and PATH.

Very well run, especially when compared to another P Authority.

Presence-Absence. A question. Choose one. Do not plead the sorites paradox.

In the US Congress, you can vote aye, nay, abstain, or present, but you can't vote absent. At least not so far. With modern technology, though, I don't see why not.

Press Association, Ltd. ``The UK leader in news and sports information.''

Problem Analysis. Cf. PA.

Production Assistant. Keeps the stars out of the director's hair, among other things.

Professional Association.

Program Access.

Program (memory) Area.

Public Address (system). Initialism often used for electric bullhorn.

At an ATA departure in LA, we heard a somewhat articulated garble, so I went up to the counter and said, ``your message was almost completely unintelligible. Did you say something about flight 292?'' ``Yes, the PA system is terrible. We announced that it's not necessary to check in again.''

This might have been helpful. Until the lounge acoustics are improved, or until the geniuses who manage the airport master the technical challenge of medium-fidelity sound reproduction, it might be helpful if the ticket agents enunciated carefully. Pie in the sky, I know. I'm a dreamer.

Public Affairs. Isn't this the sort of thing you'd prefer to keep private?

P-AzoxyAnisole. 4,4'-Di-methoxyazoxy benzene. A rod-like molecule (about 20 Å long × 5 Å wide) that is in a nematic phase between 116 °C and 135 °C.

PolyAcrylic Acid. A polyacid. Interesting stuff, because the polyion charge can be controlled by titration, yielding controllable properties ranging from uncharged polymer (neutralized with base) to polyelectrolyte.

Princton Alumni Association.

Plastic Area Array (microelectronics) Packages. Plastic Pin-Grid Arrays and Ball Grid Arrays.

Japanese word borrowed from a Western language -- I suppose English -- meaning `part.' (At least one would write ``Part II'' of a book.)

ParaAminoBenzoic Acid. Part of the vitamin B complex; used in synthesis of folic acid. Popular in sun screens because it blocks UV. Popular in health foods because -- do you need a reason? -- but anyway in organic food boutiques it's often called paraben because `PABA' doesn't sound `natural.'

Pacific Asia Bridge Federation. Contract bridge -- the card game. Mostly China. Zone 6 of the WBF.

[Phone icon]

Private Automatic Branch [telephone] Exchange. This specific term is used less often than the more general PBX, for the same reason that I don't refer to my personal transportation vehicle as self-propelled and self-starting.

Performing Arts Center. There are centers scattered in all directions. Notre Dame's is the Marie P. DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.

Perturbed Angular Correlation.

Political Action Committee. An organization formed to pool contributions in support of some political or legislative initiative, candidacy, etc. Law that brought PAC's into being was part of the reform following Watergate, and was intended to strengthen the political clout of ordinary small contributors as against fat cats. Today, PAC's have come to be seen as part of the problem, in part because large contributions can be laundered through them: influence-seeking monied interests can reimburse unknown small donors to a PAC. Yes, I know that ``monied interests'' is a phrase from the turn of the (last) century. No, I have no idea how such an obsolete concept could happen to be relevant any more. After all, we've made tremendous progress since the bad old days.

After campaign reform laws have limited the amount that an individual may contribute to any campaign other than his or her own, PAC's became the largest source of campaign funding. Scandals involving foreign contributions to the Clinton reëlection campaign in 1996 have refueled the interest in further reform, and it seems all the major culprits have now endorsed campaign reforms being pushed by Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.).

However, this comes amid increasing uncertainty regarding the constitutional status of the original laws. The basic question regards the extent to which spending on political speech can be restricted without infringing the first amendment right of free speech. In an early test, the Supreme Court ruled that laws could not restrict the amount that individuals may spend on their own campaigns. [Hello, H. Ross. Hello, Steve Forbes.]

It was A. J. Liebling who long ago gave this formulation:

Freedom of the Press belongs to those who own one.

Anyway, that was the ruling of an earlier court that was rather more `liberal' in the current sense of the word. The current court has given indications that it may strike down or weaken spending restrictions generally. This comes in a time of increasing ``soft money'' use or abuse. ``Soft money'' is money spent for `political but not partisan' purposes, like get-out-the-vote campaigns, debates sponsored by an organization like the League of Women Voters (LWV). That was the original idea, anyway. However, even political parties can designate as ``soft money'' political spending that is not explicitly targeted for a particular individual race. In practice, these nontargeted ads can look pretty indistinguishable from ordinary campaign ads... Others have gotten into the business: in 1996, the AFL-CIO, under the aggressive leadership of the recently elected Sweeney, spent a few million bucks to unseat a small number of targeted first-term US representatives, all Republicans. This too was soft money. Most of the targets won reëlection, and most of those will have an increased interest in campaign reform.

I have wretchedly bad political intuition. I think that campaign reform will be successful this time!

Powdered Activated Carbon. This could have been the fashion hair dye for the eighteenth century, but it wasn't to be.


Proceedings of the African Classical Associations. A journal no longer published in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, which is no longer Salisbury, the capital of Rhodesia.

PAkistani feminist discussion list. Make up your own expansion, but note ``to be pronounced pak-awam.''

Produits alimentaires et de consommation du Canada. Current French name (previously the FPACC) for the FCPC (q.v.).

Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International Union. Based in Nashville, Tenn., as of June 2000, it represented about 320,000 workers in the paper, chemical, energy and automotive supply industries. It's affiliated with ICEM.

Parents Advancing Choice in Education. A group that funds a private-school voucher program in Dayton, Ohio.

Latin: `peace.' The usual form in which a Latin common noun is adopted into English is the nominative singular. For the relevant word here, that form is pax. Pax is used productively within English, though the word has not really been naturalized (see its entry below). The head term, pace, is the ablative singular form. The ablative form in Latin has many uses, as we'll eventually explain at the abl. entry, so I'm excused from explaining it.

In English, pace is as a compact way of acknowledging disagreement and pressing on with one's own argument or narrative. E.g., ``Life is precious and always worth preserving, pace Krevorkian, so....''

Pace in this sense should be pronounced in Latin. There are at least half a dozen Latin pronunciation. I approve the one in which pace sounds the same as if it were read in Spanish by a Latin American.

packed BCD
Packed Binary-Coded Decimal (BCD). BCD that only uses one nybble (half a byte; four binary bits) per decimal digit, instead of a full byte.

Obviously, packed BCD is twice as space-efficient, but unpacked BCD is more convenient and efficient for processing with byte-based operations and instructions.


Pacific Rim Latin Literature Seminar
Sometimes called the Pacific Rim Latin Literature Conference. Sometimes abbreviated PacRim Latin Literature Seminar. Sometimes held on the Pacific Rim. To be more precise, it's an annual conference, and in even years it's held in New Zealand or Australia.

A selection of papers from one meeting was published in the journal Arethusa (Fall 2003). Guest editors Cindy Benton and Trevor Fear wrote in their introduction (p. 267):

All the articles in this special issue were originally presented in oral form at the Pacific Rim Latin Literature conference ``Center and Periphery in the Roman World,'' held at the State University of New York at Buffalo in the summer of 2001. This startling relocation of the Pacific Rim to New York State provided the perfect forum for an examination of geographical and cultural disjunction.

It turns out that the presentations are not always confined entirely to Latin literature as such. That special issue has an article by Saundra Schwartz entitled ``Rome in the Greek Novel? Images and Ideas of Empire in Chariton's Persia'' (pp. 375ff). (You know, titles with question marks are bad enough... and with a subtitle, catalogs usually insert a colon, yielding the trinary operator ?:.)

Schwartz begins:

Travel is a prominent feature of ancient fiction; despite this, Rome and the Romans are conspicuously absent from the fictional landscape of the five extant Greek novels, products of an era when the culture of the Greek east strove to assert its centrality in the culture and structure of the Roman empire. ... Although Rome is not on the map of the Greek novels, it loomed in the mental geography of their authors and audience. This can be seen in one Greek novel set in the classical age of the Greek cities: Chariton's Chaereas and Callirhoe, written some time in the first to early second centuries C.E. This article argues that Rome is, so to speak, present in its absence from Chariton's novel.

A couple of other meetings are conveniently mentioned at the MWSCAS entry.

PolyAluminum ChLoride.

PACific RIM.

We have a bit on one PacRim conference -- on Latin Literature.

Pacte civil de solidarité. French for `civil solidarity pact,' a legally recognized cohabitation agreement between two people (of the same or different sex). Less ambiguous than ``civil union'' (C.U.), but I think that ``living in legal sin'' would be a more colorful term.

As I recall, in France civil marriage and a religious ceremony are distinct and essentially independent things. If this doesn't date back to the Revolution, then it's probably an achievement of the old anticlerical alliance of the Third Republic.

A noteworthy feature of the noun acronym PACS is that it has been verbed and that this (possibly not the original acronym, which still tends to be capitalized) has been integrated into the language as an ordinary word. Hence pacsé, pacsée, pacser.

Personal Access Communications System.

Picture Archive Communication System[s].

Physics and Astronomy Classification of the AIP.

Public Access (library) Catalog System[s].

French meaning `a man who has signed a PACS,' past participle of the verb pacser.

French meaning `a woman who has signed a PACS,' past participle of the verb pacser. Maybe I should make that `a female who has signed a PACS or on whose behalf a PACS has been signed,' in order to include primitive societies that allow child PACSiage.

A French verb. Need I say more? I suppose I need do. Se pacser is to `sign a PACS' or to become a pacsé[e], as getting married is se marier.

Personal Air Communications Technology. A system co-developed by Ericsson and AT&T Wireless Services. It's a narrowband PCS (NPCS) product similar to cellular phones, but it makes intelligent guesses, based on tracking, to use the nearest base station. More importantly: it's not audio, just a paging and messaging system. It implements frequency re-use and cell splitting for network efficiency.

Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television. [Sic: no apostrophe.] ``The UK trade association for independent feature film, television, animation and interactive media companies.''

Packet Assembler/Disassembler.

Peripheral Artery Disease.

Pi Alpha Delta. The pre-law frat.

Here are some useful related links, snake:

Punjab Archaeology Department.

Nickname for Patrick.

paddy wagon
Police van for transporting more prisoners than will fit in the back of a police car.

The way ``paddy wagon'' designates the relation of object and function is unusual. In the more normal case of a ladder truck, the same vehicle is called a ladder truck whether it races from the firehouse to help firemen extinguish a blaze or lumbers out to rescue a cat. It's not called a ``kitty truck'' in the second instance. In contrast, the same vehicle that is a paddy wagon on the day of the arrests is called the prison van or police van when it ferries prisoners to and from court, or out of prison.

Some multifunctional articles of clothing are named in this circumstantial way -- a silk scarf may double as a bandanna (a head scarf) or as a big colorful pocket handkerchief -- but this doesn't work with just any accessory. One day, I saw my claw hammer and thought: ``that's not a claw hammer, that's a fashion statement waiting to happen.'' So I carried it to breakfast at the Perkin's all-night restaurant on Maple. It didn't seem to bother the waitress to have a claw hammer next to the salt shaker, but then two cops came in for a long break, sitting between me and the door. So it's 3 AM and I've got a claw hammer in a restaurant, and it clashes with the rest of my ensemble. It's times like this when you remember that you're overdue to renew your auto registration. I didn't feel like waiting for break to end, so I paid, wrapped the hardware in my reading matter and walked out as nonchalantly as I could while remembering not to whistle. It wasn't a magazine -- it was camouflage.

Of course, people are described by a different sort of noun. Unless you're Santa Claus or some other celebrity, you can be off duty sometimes and not be defined by your employment. On the other hand, you can be defined by your employment. This is subject to regional variation. One time when I visited my cousin Victoria in Southern California, she told me that ``my boyfriend is a surfer.'' To an Easterner like me, only what you do for a living can normally define what you are: If your boyfriend has a piano hobby, then ``he plays piano.'' If he makes a living from playing the piano, then ``he is a piano player.'' (Victoria and the surfer are still together.)

(This is a problem for writers and artists of various sorts, who may write a long time before they start to make a living from it, if they ever do. One solution to that problem is to write about your day job. That's basically the story of Waiting. It could be worse. Ever since it began to be possible to make a living primarily as a writer, there've been writers with no significant non-writer-related experiences to write about. Book prices need to come down.)

You might suppose the trailer/motor-home distinction would parallel the paddy-wagon/prison-van distinction, but it clearly doesn't: motor home is just an aggrandizing euphemism for trailer, used whether it's on the road or on concrete blocks. It's a U and non-U thing.

During the campaign for the Republican nomination for US president in 2000, George W. Bush started out as the heavy favorite but was defeated in the first primary (New Hampshire, as always) by John McCain. The primary in South Carolina then took on immense importance, and was sharply contested. Bush won that primary, and shakily but steadily pulled away from McCain to win the nomination. A subsequent analysis of that crucial primary, published in TNR, suggested that the reason for W's triumph could be understood in terms of that motor-home/trailer distinction.

I should probably explain that, but I'd have to hunt down the article for the details, and TNR was a weekly then. Instead, I'm going to report some breaking news on the paddy wagon front. It's from an article in the June 19, 2003, Stockton Record. The police chief of Stockton, California, has ordered his officers to stop using the term ``paddy wagon'' to refer to a 1946 Ford bread truck that had been restored to look like a police wagon. It's not for official police business, but for show. It debuted for the town's Cinco de Mayo parade. The black-and-white vehicle has padded bench seats and carpeted walls. You might think the word paddy referred to the fact that the truck is essentially a padded cell, but apparently it doesn't. It's believed to be connected to the nickname that occurs as the entry above this one: ``Paddy'' for Patrick. From Patrick as a common given name for Irish boys came ``paddy'' as a derogatory term for Irishman. Paddy wagon is believed to be derived from that, either because the arrestees or (according to a conflicting theory) the policemen were predominantly Irish. (This dichotomy -- the large numbers of Irish immigrants who became policemen and who became police work -- was discussed by the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan in one or another, and probably a few, of his books. His own immigrant-son experience informed his understanding of social dysfunction.)

One indication that the Irish connection with the paddy-wagon etymology is not fanciful comes from an alternative term: ``black maria.'' (I've only ever heard the second word of this compound pronounced like Mariah Carey's given name.) Joseph Clay Neal (1807-1847) wrote a short story called ``The Prison Van; or, the Black Maria.'' It appeared in Peter Ploddy and Other Oddities (1844), pp. 27-36, and the title was footnoted with the following:

In Philadelphia, the prisons are remote from the Courts of Justice, and carriages, which, for obvious reasons, are of a peculiar construction, are used to convey criminals to and fro. The popular voice applies the name of "Black Maria" to each of these melancholy vehicles, and, by general consent, this is their distinguishing title.

The following scrap of text has drifted so far from the text it originally referred to that I had to reread the entry from the top to remember what the point was. It refers to my claw-hammer fashion foray.

For another story about the compiler of this socially beneficial reference work not being arrested, see the ID entry.

Continental drift is like that, by the way: material rising from the magma pushes existing crustal material away. The clearest example of this phenomenon is along the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, where new sea floor is being generated. The sea floor is spreading as the additional material pushes the Americas away from Africa and Europe. Another possibility is that an ocean plate will be pushed into a continental plate that refuses to give, or give fast enough. In that case the ocean plate can be pushed under the continental plate at the edge -- subducted. For a consequence of that, see the pluton entry.

You know, I feel sure that we've drifted off topic, but this entry began millions of years ago and I can't remember what it's about anymore. We're in the P's, so I guess it's about Perkins. As I already explained, I think, you can get breakfast there anytime (if they're open). Steven Wright claims he ``went into a restaurant and the sign said `Breakfast anytime,' so I ordered french toast during the Renaissance.'' Look, this makes no sense: ``Breakfast anytime'' means you can eat breakfast anytime. You can't order breakfast anytime. I mean, if you come in and order breakfast at six you can't eat it at nine. It's ridiculous -- the eggs will be cold! (We don't go for the small potatoes; we go for hash browns.) For more on the mysteries of breakfast time, view this image. (And if we ever figure it out, we'll be sure to add something here on déjeuner et petit déjeuner.)

Hmmm. Maybe this entry was about Presidential Campaigns. One of the highlights of the 2004 US presidential campaign came in early September, when Democratic candidate Kerry affirmed lucidly that the invasion of Iraq was ``the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.'' It's an interesting thought. If I had my druthers, I'd say fight the Boer war in the Bahamas in 1958. You benefit from the element of surprise and nice weather, and the enemy will never find you.

[dive flag]

Professional Association of Diving Instructors.

A surname based on an Old French oath. Details at the Depardieu entry.

pad oxide
Nitox or stress relaxation oxide.

Poly(ADP-Ribosyl)Polymerase. An enzyme that is part of cellular repair.

Pen Application Development System. (From Slate Corporation.)

PolyArylene Ether. A class of organic polymers considered for microelectronic insulation. Specifically, as ILD's with k below 3. Another candidate is BCB.

Power-Added Efficiency. Figure of merit for amplifiers. For amplifiers operating class A, the theoretical upper limit is 50%. Don't ask me what that means, because I really should know.

Pan American EDIFACT Board.

Paysage Audiovisuel Français. The landscape of French television and radio broadcasts.

(Blood) Platelet Aggregation Factor.

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Just a block away from Temple University, it's the current home of Benjamin West's Death on a Pale Horse and Penn's Treaty with the Indians.

Plastic And Failure Analysis of Composites. A VFD code from 1982.

Phosphoric-Acid Fuel Cell. A fuel cell (FC) in which the electrolyte is phosphoric acid. [The mobile ion is hydrogen. The H+ ions are hydrated, so you can think of them as hydronium (H3O+) ions. If you remembered your high school chemistry, I wouldn't have to be explaining this.]

When running on hydrogen and oxygen, the two half-reactions are

oxidation (anode):        H2 --> 2H+ + 2e-
reduction (cathode):      O2 + 2H+ + 2e- --> H2

PAFC's operate around 200°C. This is good enough for space heating, but only marginally efficient for cogeneration; using a good catalyst (platinum), the waste heat has been used for reforming methane.

Abbreviation of PÁGina, the Spanish word for `page.'

Pennsylvania Academy of General Dentistry. A constituent of the AGD.

PolyAcrylamide Gel Electrophoresis. See SDS-PAGE.

Programmable Aerospace Ground Equipment.

Operates in 929-931 MHz band in US.

pago a plazos
Spanish: `payment in installments.'

ParaAminoHippuric acid. The glycine amide of PABA, used in renal tests.

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. A component of the exhaust gas in incomplete hydrocarbon fuel burning (i.e., some of the PIC's). A problem.

In the summer of 1996, it was announced that some meteor material, believed to have originated on Mars, contained traces of PAH's. This weak evidence, and the fact that with enough video ``enhancement,'' you could make out structures not inconsistent with cellular life, have sparked certainty among some that there was life on Mars a couple of billion years ago, before it had lost most of its atmosphere and become generally less hospitable to life. Historically, Mars has been an excellent source of things to see that aren't there.

Pan American Health Organization. (OPS in Spanish; OPAS in Portuguese.)

Smooth, ropy-looking lava. See explanation at aa (the other kind of lava -- rough and cindery).

Project Analysis and Integration.

It's not an acronym; it's capitalized because it's important. Many businesses keep a rubber stamp that says PAID in bold letters, so bills can be satisfyingly marked. This probably gave rise to the expression ``put paid to'' meaning `brought to a conclusion.' The ancient Egyptians used a fish symbol, which was a hieroglyph representing delivery.

Private Agencies in International Development. Merged with ACVA in 1984 to form InterAction.

Originally a variant spelling of the surname Page, based on the occupation of page. During the 20th century, this name had a vogue as a girls' given name in America. Possibly the film actress known as Janis Paige (born Donna Mae Jaden in 1920) had something to do with starting this.

PAtient Instruction GEnerator. From Mad Scientist Software, Inc., but on the level. The ``patient'' in the name is an attributive noun, not an adjective. This is medical software -- patient discharge instructions.

French: `bread.' This is so ridiculous I hardly know at which end to begin.

You know, I had a really good work-out yesterday, and I know it now because of the muscle aches. It hurts so good.

Spicy food works the same way. There are four major nerve ganglia conducting taste information to the brain (not counting olfactory information, which has a rather tight connection to the bottom of the brain). The information that food is spicy is detected by the same nerves that, and carried by the same nerves that, detect tissue damage. In other words, the taste for spicy hot things is the taste for pain.

Good spicy food and good exercise both make you sweat.

I was going to write ``a good work-out'' in the previous line, but after I missed the indefinite article before good, I decided to use an uncountable noun to avoid editing what I had written before. You know, the delete key is way over in the corner of the keyboard, and my arms ache.

I think ``good exercise'' worked out, but only time will tell.

Professional Association of Internes and Residents of Ontario. Yes, ``internes.'' Canadian spelling, I guess, or a nod to bilingualisme.

Public Affairs Information Service.

Spanish: `country.' Spain's leading newspaper is El País.

Passive Accessory InterVertebral Movement.

Pulmonary Atresia with Intact Ventricular Septum.

This is the entry for the country's name. For further information about the country, see the .pk entry.

The name Pakistan is fortuitous acronym, created out of a recherché selection of initials by Choudhry (also Chaudhary) Rahmat Ali. To be more precise, it was divinely inspired. To quote the inspiree:

I observed chillahs and prayed for Allah's guidance. ...I carried on till, at last, in His dispensation Allah showed me the light, and led me to the name ``Pakistan'' and to the Pak Plan....

According to a 1971 interview with his generally admiring former secretary, Miss Frost, he was led to the name while riding on the top of a London bus. It was evidently no pedestrian epiphany.

The word first appeared in a four-page leaflet entitled Now or Never, published January 28, 1933. The leaflet was signed by Rahmat Ali and three fellow students at Cambridge University. That leaflet used the form Pakstan (no letter i) and implied an expansion:

At this solemn hour in the history of India, when British and Indian statesmen are laying the foundations of a Federal Constitution for that land, we address this appeal to you, in the name of our common heritage, on behalf of our thirty million Muslim brethren who live in PAKSTAN - by which we mean the five Northern units of India, Viz: Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sind and Baluchistan - for your sympathy and support in our grim and fateful struggle against political crucifixion and complete annihilation.

In 1947, Rahmat Ali published Pakistan the Fatherland of the Pak Nation (London: The Pak National Liberation Movement). On page 225 of the later work, BACK LATER! UNEXPECTED SYSTEM SHUTDOWN!

Well, we survived! I bet that glitch was the work of a saboteur from a large country on the Indian subcontinent, nudge, nudge, wink, wink. We must remain vigilant and preserve military parity!

As I was writing, on page 225 of the latter work, Rahmat Ali made the etymological testament quoted earlier, and gave the following detailed explanation and expansion:

`Pakistan' is both a Persian and an Urdu word. It is composed of letters taken from the names of our homelands--`Indian' and `Asian'. That is Punjab, Afghania (North-West Frontier Province), Kashmir, Iran, Sindh (including Kachch and Kathiawar), Tukharistan, Afghanistan and BalochistaN. It means the lands of the Paks--the spiritually pure and clean. It symbolizes the religious beliefs and the ethnical stocks of our people; and it stands for all the territorial constituents of our original Fatherland. It has no other origin and no other meaning; and it does not admit of any other interpretation.

Oh well, a little bit of inconsistency to spice the pot.

I haven't yet been able to get my hands on the cited source. The above is cribbed from Khalid B. Sayeed: Pakistan : The Formative Phase : 1857-1948 (London: Oxford Univ. Pr., 1968), p. 105. [The quoted material also appears in a first edition published in 1960 at Karachi by Pakistan Publishing House. That edition covered the longer period 1857-1960, but the later version has added material.]

To clarify some of the statements, let me note that pak means `pure' in both Urdu and Persian. For Urdu I cite William E. Alli: Basic Urdu and English Wordbook (1975). (The Urdu there is written in LRU script, q.v., to my relief.) For Persian I have the authority of A. de Biberstein Kazimirski: Dictionnaire Français-Persan (Beyrouth: Librairie du Liban, 1975), where it is the second translation offered for pur.

A more compendious source is F. Steingass: A Comprehensive Persian-English Dictionary (Beirut: Librairie du Liban, 1970). Given its repeated appearance, I'll mention that according to its colophon, Librairie du Liban was founded in 1944. (Librairie is a faux ami.) The volume cited is a reimpression of Steingass's 1892 first edition. According to the title page, this work is itself ``Johnson and Richardson's Persian, Arabic, and English Dictionary Revised, Enlarged, and Entirely Reconstructed.'' This practice of building progressively larger and hopefully better bilingual dictionaries on the basis of individual earlier ones is common. Often the revision will skip among different ``familiar'' or similar languages. One example is the DGE, a Greek-Spanish dictionary under construction at the turn of the twenty-first century, based on (but considerably improving upon) the LSJ, an early twentieth-century revision of a nineteenth-century Greek-English dictionary, which in turn was based on the Greek-German lexicon of Franz Passow (first edition 1819), based in turn on the Greek-German lexicon of Johann Gottlob Schneider (first edition 1797-1798).

Anyway, the point of bringing up this dictionary here is that on page 281 it gives a pretty good sense of the semantic range of pak in Persian. It can be translated `pure, chaste, innocent, clean, neat; perfect, full, complete; all, entire; downright' in various contexts.

The suffix -stan is productive in Persian and many nearby languages that Persian has influenced (some of these languages are Indo-European like Persian, and some are not); a vowel is often inserted to avoid uncomfortable consonant clusters. A related fact of some relevance: most Semitic alphabets do not normally indicate vowels, although the optional use of certain consonants [particularly the glottal stops like aleph (Hebrew) or alif (Arabic), a soft aitch (hei), and the yod] implies the presence of certain vowels. In Semitic languages, this sort of matres lectionis is generally enough to disambiguate the pronunciation, since the languages are built up out of consonantal roots with vowels determined grammatically and therefore usually inferable semantically. (And you thought English was crazy. Imagine if every spelling were as ambiguous as read or read, and most of the letters looked alike.) Persian manages using an Arabic script with the addition of four consonants for sounds not present in Arabic. Baluchi or Balochi was considered a dialect of Persian (i.e., Farsi) in 1933. Urdu is also written in Arabic characters. It was reasonable for Rahmat Ali to regard Urdu as the common language of Muslims in the region then called India (see AIML entry). However, the 1947 partition left the largest number of subcontinent Muslims, and particularly of Urdu speakers, in the new country of India. Today, the greatest number -- about half -- of Pakistanis are Punjabi speakers. Urdu is a distant third or so. As it happens, the i in Pakistan is not indicated in the usual Arabic-script spelling.

The partition also left a few millions of people dead, and Rahmat Ali's ancestral estate out of his control, and Rahmat Ali himself destitute. He was forced to leave Pakistan in 1948, returned to Cambridge and died there of influenza and a medically undiagnosed broken heart on February 3, 1951.

A distant (Polish) cognate of the suffix -stan is exampled in the AHD4 online entry for the word Pakistan at <Bartleby.com>.

Just as I did before at the mondegreen entry, I will now pat myself loudly on the back for thoroughness and accuracy. Now we'll make some invidious comparisons, but we won't call them that. Instead we'll just say that this is an informative measure of how far short of accuracy and perfection some other reference works may stop.

  1. The American Heritage Dictionary, 4/e, as noted, explains the -stan suffix (very) extensively, and gives the year the name was coined, but it does not mention the `purity' sense or give any information about the originator of the term. Furthermore, it gives the limited expansion Punjab, Afghanistan, Kashmir, and BaluchISTAN, which Rahmat Ali would surely have deemed incorrect both in 1933 and 1947.
  2. The Oxford English Dictionary doesn't like to explain proper nouns. It has an entry for Pakistani, indicating a terminus ante quem of 1941 for first use of that word.
  3. The Encyclopedia Britannica (vol. 21, p. 107, in the edition of 2002) explains ``In 1933 a group of Cambridge Muslim students, led by Choudhry Rahmat Ali, proposed that the only acceptable solution to Muslim India's internal conflicts and problems would be the birth of a Muslim ``fatherland,'' to be called Pakistan (Persian: ``Land of the Pure''), out of the Muslim-majority northwestern and northeastern provinces,'' but does not mention the acronym expansion. As the expansion makes clear, only northwestern provinces and neighboring states are mentioned. Rahmat Ali coined the name Pakistan to refer only to what was initially West Pakistan, and what has been Pakistan only since the secession of East Pakistan (to become Bangladesh) at the end of 1971. Rahmat Ali published a map of the subcontinent showing three allied but independent Muslim nations: Pakistan in the Northwest, Bang-i-Islam composed of Bengal and Assam in the Northeast (corresponding to Bangladesh plus some part of the current Indian states of Assam and Bengol), and Usmanistan in the South (Hyderabad).

None of these gives you the bonus information that in the Persian language, the adjective parsa means `pure, chaste, devout, pious, holy, religious, abstinent, continent, above reproach; legitimate, lawfully born; clever, skillful, adroit in business' as well as `Persian.'

Do not conflate Choudhry Rahmat Ali with Chaudhri (or Chowdri, or various other Romanizations, including Choudhry) Mohammed Ali, who served as Prime Minister of Pakistan in the mid-fifties. This website on freeserve.co.uk has extensive information on Rahmat Ali (1897-1951), who read law at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. This other one was put together by Dr. Tom (Taufiq) Shelley, who conducted the interview with Miss Frost quoted above.

Phase Alternate Line. TV standard used in Britain, Germany, and most of the rest of western Europe excluding France (which uses SECAM). Nowadays (2006, anyway), most SECAM video players have dual-standard capability built in (i.e., they also play PAL); PAL players, even in Europe, cannot normally play SECAM.

PAL was first developed in Germany as an improvement of the American (NTSC) system. The main difference is indicated by the acronym expansion, which is meant to imply that the method for encoding hue is reversed between lines. Thus, if some error causes the even-numbered lines to be too cyan, the same error will cause odd-numbered lines to be too magenta. The human eye averages the lines together and one sees accurate hues in spite of the error. Hence the colloquial expansion of PAL: ``Perfection At Last.'' Another colloquial expansion is ``Pay A Lot.'' The European version of PAL uses a 4.43 MHz subcarrier to multiplex color information.

More information, particularly on different alphabetically named flavors of PAL, at the video encoding entry.

Police Athletic League. An early version of the midnight-basketball idea: sponsor activities to keep kids off the street and out of trouble.

Program Array Logic. Used for address decoding in 32-bit microprocessors.

Programmable Array of Logic. Proprietary (trademarked) name of Programmable Logic Device. Made by MMI (which was later absorbed by AMD).

Enhanced-fidelity PAL for those who want to burn money now and invest in analog technology that is still the same old 625 (or 525) lines of vertical resolution. The thing is not yet completely specified, however, so ghost cancellation may eventually be included. This last will be welcome news to cable viewers, sure. Read all about it. I'm sure it makes sense for some viewers, but really, what good is high-fidelity bilge?

N-(PhosphoAcetyl)-L-Aspartic acid.

Feminine noun in Spanish: `shovel.' Cognate of palette.

C-like assembly (ASM) language for coding PAL's.

Plasma-Addressed Liquid Crystal. An approach to large-screen display developed by Fujitsu, and jointly by Sony and Tektronix, in which the plasma switches the LC displays on.

Pennsylvannia Academic Library Connection Initiative.

A word or phrase that `reads the same' backwards as forwards. We mention a few palindromic business names at the Yreka entry.

Jerome K. Jerome's middle name was Klapka, in honor of Hungarian general George (I guess that's Györgi or something) who was staying with the Jeromes when he was born in 1859.

A poem that retracts a claim made in a previous poem. The opportunity to use this word arises very infrequently. Make sure you know it so you'll be ready when that rare chance comes.

Private Academic Library Network of Indiana.

A Spanish word meaning `stick.' I promised you an entry for this word when I wrote the São entry, and here it is. Needless to say, the entry is still under construction.

A broomstick is a ``palo de escoba.'' Polo sticks, golf clubs, and baseball bats are all palos.

Outside the Iberian peninsula, palo (and its Portuguese cognate pau) are used for various trees and bushes.

The most common diminutive forms of palo are palito and palillo. The word palillo occurs in the list item for limpiadientes in the limpia entry.

Positron-Annihilation Lifetime Spectroscopy.

An opposition political party in Congo/Kinshasa that is loyal to the nationalist ideals of Congolese independence leader PAtrice LUmumba.

Package for Analogue Modeling. An ol' digital software product.

pam, PAM
PAMphlet. When libraries shelve pamphlets, staple-bound (``saddle-stitched'') magazines, and similar thin materials individually, they apply hard covers without a round or creased binding rather than a flat back. This is called ``pam binding'' (``pam'' is pronounced like the nickname of Pamela) and the items are said to be ``pam bound.'' The title and call-number tag must go on the cover, making shelf-browsing inconvenient. They also take up a lot more space than as multiple issues bound together in volumes.

Payload Assist Module. NASA acronym.

Pregnancy After Miscarriage. There's a mailing list, called both PAM and PAML.

Pulse-Amplitude Modulation.

Plasma-Assisted Molecular Beam Epitaxy. Now all we need is Neutralino-Assisted MBE, and we're set.

A novel (1740-41) of insipid manners and detestable morals, by Samuel Richardson. The full title was, inappropriately enough, Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded. This was an epistolary novel, not to be confused with a pistolary novel like Mario Puzo's The Godfather (1969). Many regard Pamela as the first English novel. Barf. The greatest virtue of this thing was that it immediately inspired Henry Fielding to write a parody (Shamela) or two (Joseph Andrews).

I figured Fielding for a kindred spirit, and didn't bother to read the parodies at first. Instead, I read his Tom Jones. That worked out for the best, because I'm not sure whether we are kindred spirits after all. When I finally got around to reading Shamela, I discovered that his parody turns Pamela into a floozie who is constantly trying to seduce the rake. The next paragraph is a SPOILER for Pamela:

In Pamela, the heroine goes to work for a young, rich, and attractive rake, on his estate (the story is told in her letters back home). He tries to seduce and then rape her, but she resists and he fails, and eventually he falls in love with her and marries her. What offended me was that she was happy to marry a man who tried to rape her (never mind that he was even a failure at that). If I had lived in that time, I would also have been offended that she was willing to marry a man who had tried to seduce her. In Rick Santelli's famous words, it's ``rewarding bad behavior!'' In an accurate version of the subtitle, it is ``Viciousness Rewarded.'' There's a somewhat relevant Spanish proverb here: ``Contra el vicio de pedir hay la virtud de no dar.'' [`Against the vice of asking there is the virtue of refusing.']

Well, it seems we don't have a Pamela Anderson entry, so this will have to do. I need a place to mention that in 2003, she sent a letter to David Novak, chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands, the parent company of KFC. It included the following wonderful declaration of incomprehension:

``I can't understand why a company that claims to care about animal welfare would continue to allow chickens to be bred and drugged to be so top-heavy they can barely walk.

At least they don't do it surgically.

Pregnancy After Miscarriage List. I suppose it was written PAM-L on some earlier list-management software.

Publicly Accessible Mailing Lists. A list of mailing lists, apparently defunct when I looked for it in July 2006. The last time I checked (probably before 2003) it was small (about 8000 mailing lists) but fairly up-to-date. It also tended to be focused on less frivolous lists, or at least ones that were not of extremely parochial interest, and it also has an extremely distinguished history, having been maintained for a number of years by the net.god Spaf.

Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association. It has a reciprocal membership agreement with NEMLA.

Pennsylvania Area Mobile Radar Experiment. A field experiment developed by instructors at Penn State. It utilizes the Doppler On Wheels (DOW) radars maintained by the Center for Severe Weather Research (in Boulder, CO). The experiment is used in conjunction with a fairly traditional lecture course in radar meteorology. It's described in ``Integrating classroom learning and reseach: The Pennsylvania Area Mobile Radar Experiment (PAMREX),'' by Yvette Richardson, Paul Markowski, Johannes Verlinde, and Joshua Wuran, which appeared in vol. 89, issue 8, of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (August 2008), pp. 1097ff.

PanAmerican Montessori Society.

PAM 250
Accepted Point Mutation (sorry, I didn't make up the order) 250. Dayhoff's symbol comparison table for amino acid sequence mutations, based on (very roughly speaking) 250 generations.

In Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese (the third got it from the second): `bread.'


A Greek god?

Partido Acción Nacional. Mexico's `National Action Party.' The official expansion has no preposition, but PAN is often expanded as Partido de Acción Nacional. Members, candidates, and supporters are often called panistas (that's a common-gender noun, like periodistas), q.v.

The PAN was founded in 1939, part of the reaction to the leftist presidency of Cárdenas (a bit on him at the PRI entry). Mexico was essentially a single-party state, however, and it was not until 1989, fifty years later, that PAN won -- or was allowed to win, as they say -- its first governorship (Baja California).

In 2000, PAN candidate Vicente Fox Quesada won the presidential election, bringing to an end over seventy years of PRI government. (Don't ask me what PRI stands for! If you weren't so lazy, you would have followed the link in the last paragraph and found out. Besides, at the time Cárdenas took control of the party, it wasn't called Partido Revolucionario Institucional yet.) Among major Mexican parties, the PAN is and always has been politically to the right of the PRI, which is to the right of the PRD.

PeroxyAcetyl Nitride. The most common of the peroxyacyl nitrates (PANs, q.v.) found in the atmosphere. Discovered in the 1950's by smog chemists working with plant biologists to determine the cause of crop damage in southern California (CA, at the entry for which there is no relevant information).

Personal Area Networking. A planned communications environment in which PDA's, laptops, mobile phones and other wireless-capable IT devices automatically find and use each other to pass data and act as gateways onto other systems. Take a moment now and say ``wow!''

PolyAcryloNitrile. A starting material for commercial carbon fibers.

There's an informative PAN entry in the Macrogalleria.

Programa Alimentario Nacional. `[Argentine] national nutrition program.' Cf. pan.

PanAfrican News Agency. I've also seen this as ``Pan African News Agency.'' It's not often that an organization's name tells you how to react to it.

Jean Kerr wrote this in the article ``Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, I Don't Want to Hear One Word Out of You,'' in The Snake Has All the Lines (1960):
I'm tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep.
That's deep enough. What do you want--an adorable pancreas?

The pancreas is a longish gland that lies sort of behind and under the stomach. It contains little regions called islets of Langerhans, which contain beta cells. Beta cells produce insulin.

The name pancreas was constructed from Greek pan + kréas, `all flesh.' (The compound word was spelled págkreas in Greek. To understand where the n went, see this ng entry.) The name means `sweetbread.' The Greeks called those organs `all flesh' because if you would eat that you'd eat anything, yuck! That's my hypothesis, anyway.

In the Platonic dialogue Theaetetus, at 185e, this character Socrates says the following {tr. Harold North Fowler}:

Why, you are beautiful, Theaetetus, and not, as Theodorus said, ugly; for he who speaks beautifully is beautiful and good.

Oh yeah, that Socko -- such a sweetheart.

(Jean Kerr, best known for writing Please Don't Eat the Daisies, was born 1923.07.10 and died 2003.1.5. She was married to Walter Kerr, drama critic for the New York Times. This meant that she got to attend the first night of every Broadway show for free, and if she got a headache that evening the show would probably close in a week.)

A genus of bivalves with fragile shells.

An extension of Parlog with a deadlock-handling mechanism and a ``lazy'' form of don't-know non-determinism.

A kind of fish. The common pandora, Pagellus erythrinus, can live up to at least ten years, and reach lengths of at least 37 cm. Pandora is very good at accumulating mercury.

A moon of Saturn. Pandora and Prometheus are shepherd satellites for Saturn's F ring. Pandora is very heavily cratered, Prometheus less so. An article by P.J. Stooke in Earth, Moon, and Planets, vol. 62, #3 (Sept. 1993), pp. 199-221, is entitled ``The Shapes and Surface-Features of Prometheus and Pandora.'' The article, based on NASA Voyager images, estimates the shape of Pandora as a triaxial ellipsoid with axes of 114, 84, and 62 km, and Prometheus as a triaxial ellipsoid with axes of 145, 85, and 60 km.

A ten-box oceanographic mass- and heat-flow simulation program.

Prototyping A Navigation Database Of Road-network Attributes. A project to create and test a prototype navigation database (for land vehicles) that was supported in the early 1990's by the EU's DRIVE. Collaborators included the (UK) Automobile Association, the Ordnance Survey, Philips BV and Robert Bosch GmbH.

Pandora moth
Coloradia pandora. An ``endemic defoliator.' Research shows that ``pandora moths did not discriminate among colors in the visible spectrum'' and ``did not respond to projected light for at least 1 h after dusk.'' This is reported in ``Attraction and direct mortality of pandora moths, Coloradia pandora (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae), by nocturnal fire,'' by A.A. Gerson and R.G. Kelsey, in Forest Ecology and Management, vol. 98, #1, pp. 71-75 (Oct. 22, 1997).


Pandora's box
It was a jar, not a box.

Contraction of propane. Learn more about it after reading all the way through most of the irrelevant octane-number entry.

panelbase poll
A poll of respondents to a previous poll.

PolyANIline. A conducting polymer. Allied Signal is producing it right here in Buffalo under license from Zipperling Kessler & Co. (Well, ``right here'' in Buffalo, since there isn't here anymore.)

PeroxyAcyl NitrideS. Sound like they ought to be related to the pterodactyl nitrides. Well, PANs are a class of oxidants produced by oxidation of hydrocarbons and oxygenates (aldehydes, ketones, etc.) in the troposphere. The most abundant one is peroxyacetyl nitrate (PAN, q.v.). The higher analogs peroxypropionyl nitrate (PPN) and peroxybutryl nitrate (PBN) are also found. PANs are poisonous to plants and to your eyes, and they're mutagens too. If they were manufactured intentionally they'd probably be illegal under the Geneva conventions on chemical warfare.

I'm trying to come up with a joke about extinction here, but I haven't yet.

Positive And Negative Syndrome Scale (for schizophrenia). Not the same as SANS plus SAPS. PANSS is an evaluation instrument with three distinct scales: positive and negative scales with seven items each, and a general psychopathology scale with 16 items. Each item is scored on a seven-point scale:
  1. Absent
  2. Minimal
  3. Mild
  4. Moderate
  5. Moderately severe
  6. Severe
  7. Extreme

The positive (P) and negative (N) scales attempt to measure symptoms positively and negatively correlated (respectively) with schizophrenia, and the general scale (G) is intended to provide a kind of baseline or background measure of psychopathology. Items in the P scale include evidence of delusions (P1), grandiosity (P5), and hostility (P7); N scale items include blunted affect (N1) and stereotyped thinking (N7). The G scale includes [inappropriate] somatic concern (G1), anxiety (G2), guilt feelings (G3), depression (G6), disorientation (G10), and active social avoidance (G16). The scores are based on patient responses to an interview, which should take 30-40 minutes. It seems that most of my favorite people have no psychopathology but are totally schizophrenic.

(BTW: a majority of webpages describing the seven-point scale describe level 4 by the term ``moderate severe.'' This probably reflects the fact that the test was originally developed by German-speakers. In German, the adverb/adjective distinction is indicated, if at all, by number/gender/case inflection of the adjective -- inflection that does not occur in English. Many published articles and webpages also renumber the scale to run from 1 to 7.)

A combined encyclopedia and dictionary published in twelve volumes in London in 1813. Also identified as Good and Gregory's New Cyclopædia.

I was sitting in the Campus Cafe, eating my tuna taco and Greek salad and minding my own business (minding my own business wasn't something I was eating, it was something I was doing) when behind me a woman asked, ``those are your pants, right?'' I never looked back, and I've never regretted it.

Public Affairs Officer. The military (US, at least) has them.

(Partial) Pressure of Alveolar Oxygen. An abbreviation used in medicine. The ``2'' is used so that on hearing a phrase like ``his PAO2 is at dangerously low levels,'' you won't make the natural mistake of supposing that he's not getting enough Kung Pao Chicken. ``Stat, nurse, administer chop-sticks. Chop-chop!''

PAP, Pap
PAPanicolaou. George Papanicolaou invented the ``PAP smear,'' a cervical-cancer screening tool. Cf. VIA.

Participatory Anthropic Principle. See Martin Gardner: ``WAP, SAP, FAP, and PAP,'' New York Review of Books, May 8, 1987.

Password Authentication Protocol. A not-very-secure protocol. When a link is established, a two-way handshake is used to establish identity only once. Passwords are sent over the media in text format, which offers no protection from playback attacks. This protocol is the electronic equivalent of wearing a ``kick me'' sign on the back of your shirt, and it's probably still the most common in dial-up networking (DUN).

People's Armed Police (of the PRC).

Polish Press Agency. First ``reverse Polish notation,'' now this! Can't these guys do anything in the normal order?

Printer Access Protocol.

Prostatic Acid Phosphatase.

Italian: `popeables.' Cardinals who are considered to be pope material.

Italian: `buzzing insects.' (The singular form is paparazzo.) Some stars also call these free-lance celebrity photographers ``stalkerazzi.''

papar moscas
This also has to do with insects, but the orthographic resemblance is accidental. In Spanish, the principal sense of the verb papar is `to eat without chewing.' It doesn't mean simply `to swallow'; it's more like `to eat [as one eats] pap.' Similar-sounding Spanish words that may not be related, like páparo, also have negative connotations.

(Papar probably is related to the English word pap. However, there are a large number of similar-sounding Germanic and Romance words with closely related meanings, and their interrelationships are unclear. Because of the first Germanic sound shift, IE roots that yielded Latin words beginning in p would have yielded Germanic terms beginning in f, so these separate sources probably don't correspond to a IE common root. It could also simply be imitative.)

Mosca, of course, means `fly' -- the insect, not the action. One of the first articles in the Journal of Irreproducible Results was an analysis some centuries hence of texts uncovered at the archaelogical site called Tel-el-New-York. The texts dated back to the early twentieth century, and reported mysterious doings that were very difficult to understand. Focusing on the terms ``pop fly,'' ``sacrifice fly,'' and ``bat,'' the future anthropologist proposed that ``fly'' was probably not the small and insignificant insect (Latin name musca; see also Mus), but instead a bird, and that the texts described rituals of flying-animal sacrifice. Hey -- ornithology or orthography, it's all good.

Coincidentally, a few days ago, early in the twenty-first century and late in the second game of the ALDS, a swarm of flies afflicted the New York Yankees as the rival Indians were behind and at bat. The Indians went ahead in that inning and went on to win. It looked very suspiciously like unscrupulous divine powers had placed some heavy bets on Cleveland. Following Augustine, I believe because it is absurd.

[Incidentally, the JIR article stuff is from memory, so some details are likely to be off. The article was reprinted in one of the many collections of selected articles from JIR -- articles in this genre age well -- but it's not in the one I have to hand, which is The Best of the Journal of Irreproducible Results: ``Improbable Investigations & Unfounded Findings'' (New York: Workman Publishing, 1983).]

Pulling all of this together, or even pulling just a little bit of it together, and leaving the rest in a pile to the side for later investigation, you see that papar moscas means `to eat flies like pap.' Obviously, the phrase is not usually meant literally, else the phrase wouldn't be any more common than the equally useful ``churning the thumbtacks.'' What it is understood to mean is `to be idle, with one's mouth agape.'

I thought of this phrase and decided to add an entry for it to the glossary when I saw yet another person sitting in front of a terminal with her mouth open. I suspect that the widespread prejudice against people whose mouths are habitually agape (or even those who are frequently slack-jawed) and the belief that they are stupid, arise from the fact that they are stupid. I'd estimate 20 IQ points, at least, separate the average intelligence of the habitually slack-jawed and the habitually closed-jawed. It should be a consolation to people suffering from TMJ.

Look, if your nose is stuffed, take a decongestant. The least you can do is pout seductively, with your lips sensually parted. Of course, you're probably not the sort of person who read all the way down to this paragraph.

paper driver
A person who has a driver's license but no car. A Japanese English term (wasei eigo) pronounced in what would be transliterated from katakana as peipaa doraibaa.

``Baby Driver'' is track seven of Simon and Garfunkel's 1970 album Bridge Over Troubled Waters. I wonder how your engines feel.

paper street
A street that exists on paper only. Specifically, on the paper of the city plan. Often, maps based on these will show a street that doesn't exist. Two indications of a paper street: back-to-back empty lots in an otherwise dense development and house-numbering anomalies (typically, a block with two centuries of house numbers).


Parabolic Aluminized Reflector. See PAR lamp.

Plant a Row for the Hungry. Sounds like victory gardens in the war on poverty. ``PAR's mission is to help alleviate hunger in America by increasing donations of much-needed garden produce to food banks, soup kitchens and food service organizations at the local community level.'' More at GWAF.

Preferencia Arancelaria Regional. Spanish, `regional tariff preference.' That is, a regional agreement that establishes reduced trade tariffs.

Spanish noun meaning `pair' and adjective meaning `even[ly divisible by two].'

An environment-friendly name for PABA. No electrons were killed in the creation of this glossary entry. I can't say the same for brain cells, but aren't brain cells really part of the problem, after all?

A Spanish masculine noun meaning `parachute.' It's being considered for official ``queer Spanish word'' status. The word is apparently constructed from para (`it stops') and caidas (`falls'). The word parachute was formed in precisely the same way, but in French.

paradigm shift
Outside the speaker's limited experience.

A Spanish masculine noun meaning `umbrella.' It's an official ``queer Spanish word.'' The word is apparently constructed from para (`it stops') and aguas (`waters'). (There's a little play in the interpretation or translation of para, but the aguas is definitely a plural noun. See plural nouns in stock Spanish terms.

This is the second most common spelling of a word synonymous with preterition. (Details of the meaning are discussed in the final paragraph.) The most common spelling is paralipsis. The different spellings arise thus: the spelling with ei is a direct transliteration of the Greek original into English, while the spelling with i is the transliteration of the Greek into Latin, borrowed thence into English. The next two paragraphs spell this out (sorry) in greater detail.

The original Greek spelling of the word has epsilon and iota following lambda, so that the head term (or paráleipsis) is the standard direct transliteration into English. It happens that the formal diphthong epsilon-iota was regularly rendered as i in Latin transliteration. Thus, for example, the Greek name Aristeídês became Aristides in Latin, Eukleídês became Euclides, and Herákleitos Heraclitus. Likewise with common words like peiratês, pirata in Latin (and also Spanish), whence pirate in French and English.

The reason that Latin did not simply reproduce the diphthong is that ``ei'' pronounced in Latin would have had a pronunciation like a ``long a'' in Modern English, whereas, by the third century BCE, epsilon-iota in Greek (at least in Attic Greek, and in emerging Koine) was a long (in vowel quantity) monophthong that worked out to correspond more closely to Latin i than to other Latin monophthongs. (The earlier pronunciation of epsilon-iota, even restricting the question to the Attic dialect, is a little bit muddled and may include both monophthong and diphthong pronunciations that merged. Eventually, this and a number of other vowels converged on the sound of iota.) It should be noted that the word paraleipsis was not used in Latin until the post-classical period. After all, there was preterition.

Interestingly, there was a common Greek word parálêpsis, with meanings related to `taking over, receipt.' This was apparently never borrowed by Latin, but if it had been, then the eta would very probably have been transliterated as an e, to give paralepsis. However, I doubt that confusion between these two Greek words explains the occurrence of the -lepsis spelling in English for the word discussed above (paraleipsis). My guess, based on inadequate research, is that paralipsis became paralepsis in medieval Latin and was borrowed in the latter form into English. (Cf. classical Latin verecundia, with accusative verecundiam. Medieval logicians gave us argumentum ad vericundiam -- note the i -- as the name of a standard type of fallacious argument, and theirs is still the much more common spelling.) The seventeenth century saw the beginning of a conscious and widespread effort to return to a ``purer,'' more classical Latin (except, of course, in pronunciation, which has remained ever a botch). In some cases, the medieval forms had become entrenched, as in the case of the ad vericundiam fallacy, or the ecclesiastical baculus (`staff,' classical baculum). In the case of paralepsis, the reversion to paralipsis was evidently much more successful. The direct transliteration from Greek (paraleipsis) must also have been part of the more general movement away from indirect borrowing through Latin transliterations. This movement gained strength through the second half of the nineteenth century, and the relative prevalence of the paraleipsis spelling appears to reflect that.

The Greek word paráleipsis was constructed from the verb paraleípein and the nominalizing ending -sis. (Of course, in the compound, the second pi in the root combines with first sigma in the suffix so together they are represented by a single letter psi.) Paraleípein is `to leave' in various senses of the English word (except `depart'), including `to leave aside' and `to leave unsaid.' Hence, paráleipsis is a noun meaning `neglect, disregard, ommission.' Do I really have to finish this long entry? No! I pronounce myself done. For a considered usage suggestion, see our entry for the synonymous preterition.

One of three still-extant spellings of a rhetorical trope now more often spelled paralipsis or paraleipsis. This entry's spelling (paralepsis) dates from the 16th century in English. Judging from the evidence the OED can adduce, it seems to have been the original and standard form, before being supplanted by paralipsis. of OED quotations. (This is perhaps a noteworthy achievement, since standardized spelling was not a particular strength of that century.) Of the three extant spellings, however, it is also the one that probably enjoys the least etymological justification. (Words have feelings about their etymologies, you know. Every year during Golden Week, they journey back to the graves of their etymons among the dead languages. On top of the heading-stones, they leave small memorial tokens -- grave accents.) For more about the etymological progression of spellings, and for less important stuff about the meaning, see the paraleipsis entry.

Many faithful readers of the glossary have written in to ask why we don't also mention that guidance on choosing the best synonym to use can be found at the preterition. There's no reason -- we just don't, that's all.

Another name for preterition, q.v. For the history of the spelling, see paraleipsis, above. (I really, really don't want to add ``cf. apophasis.'')

Here, in P. Fleury Mottelay's translation, is the beginning (actually about the first third) of chapter XII (``The Magnetic Horizon'') of book II of William Gilbert's De Magnete:
  An horizon is a great circle separating the things seen from those that are out of sight, as one half of the heavens is always plainly visible while another half is always hid. So it seems to us by reason of the great distance of the starry sphere; yet the difference is in the ratio of the earth's semi-diameter to the semi-diameter of the starry heavens--a difference not perceived by the senses. ...

So far, paralympic medal events are 800-meter and 1500-meter wheelchair races.

Mary had a little lamb
And a little duck.
She put them on the mantel
To see if they would fall off.

Fear of Friday the thirteenth.

Every month has about a chance in seven of having a Friday the 13th. (Over the long term, it would be exactly one seventh if the Gregorian calendar didn't have a periodicity that is an integer number of weeks. It might still be exactly one seventh, but I can't be bothered to compute it, and it's doubtless pretty close.)

It is unknown when the superstition arose that Friday the 13th is an ill-omened day. One explanation is that it is that Pope Clement V and King Phillip the Fair of France (or their bailiff or somebody) arrested Templar Jacques de Molay on Friday, October 13, 1307. If you'd believe that, you would believe that... okay, let's not go there. Somehow, out of all the calamitous events of the fourteenth century, this does not seem quite momentous or portentious enough to be the origin.

I think what probably happened is that someone stubbed his toe some Friday the thirteenth, and invented the story that this day was unlucky so he could show off that he could count that high. It sounded like useful information to some people who heard the story -- sort of a poor-man's astrology: no need for complicated star-charts and expensive sooth-sayers. It wasn't immediately refutable, so the story spread quickly and became a widely accepted truth -- perhaps occasionally a self-fulfilling prophecy. (Eventually it got back to the originator, who thought ``Gee, I guess I was on to something after all.'')

More at the entry for the number 13.

It sounds like something to go with a tactic, but it's actually the adjective that goes with the substantive term parataxis.

It's plural and it looks like trouble for the bottom line. See by what vehicle you may escape.

It looks like it ought to refer to some form of transportation related to taxis, but the i is short and it's actually the substantive related to the adjective paratactic.

What's that? You say you want to know what the heck it means, already? Oh sure, check out the asyndeton entry.

Xerox Corporation's Palo Alto Research Center of legend.

Prison Activist Resource Center.

A surname based on an Old French oath. Details at the Depardieu entry.

Pardew, Pardey
Surnames of English origin, based on an Old French oath. Details at the Depardieu entry.

A Spanish word meaning `dark' or `brown.' Hence, also a surname. On October 18, 2005, Prof. José Luis Pardo received Spain's Premio Nacional de Ensayo (`National Essay Award') for La regla del juego (Galaxia Gutenberg / Círculo de Lectores, 2004). The title means `the rule of the game'; in the work he reflects on how difficult philosophy is and defends its utility. Awww.

According to Hanks and Hodges (1988), this is a Spanish and Portuguese nickname for someone with tawny hair, from pardo, meaning `dusky, brown, dark grey.' So far, so good. They derive the surname Pardal from the Portuguese word pardal, meaning `sparrow,' and claim that this word is derived from pardo. They go on to claim that pardo is derived from the Latin pardus, meaning `leopard,' and that in Late Latin the word was joined to the more familiar leo, `lion,' to yield leopardus (source of other surnames) and that then ``the second element, -pardus, was taken to be a distinguishing adj. referring to the dark spots and so acquired the status of an independent vocab. element.''

Corominas y Pascual, in their Spanish etymological dictionary, have a more nuanced and careful view and (between pardal and pardo) a couple of dense pages of supporting detail. They argue that the Spanish adjective pardo was derived directly either from the Latin pardus (from the Greek párdos), meaning `leopard,' or from the Greek párdalos, which designated either a sparrow or a very similar bird (thence pardal). The similarity of the Greek words apparently reflects the similarity of the two animals' colors. (The more common Spanish word for sparrow is now gorrión; the dictionary of the Real Academia gives pardo specifically as the color of the head of the sparrow common in Spain, with the neck chestnut.) Corominas y Pascual acknowledge the possibility that for the unlearned, the false analysis based on leo pardus is natural, but the evidence is at least equally consistent with direct local survival of the sparrow or cat name, or both.

A surname of English origin, based on an Old French oath. Details at the Depardieu entry. Cf. pardo.

A surname of English origin, based on an Old French oath. Details at the Depardieu entry.

parenthetical remark
A rhetorical device (for inserting indefensible opinion into a purported description).

People who consistently overestimate their need for information. Then when they finally get it -- sure enough, they're angry! You'd think that'd teach them, but they're ineducable.

pariah priest
Is this like those old rockers Judas Priest? Where would he... Oh! Parish priest. Spellings don't map smoothly to meanings.

A Homeric fool-for-love, and a town in Arkansas, California, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Ontario (not listed at this link, but trust me: close to London), Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin. There's also one in Europe.

Mary McCarthy disliked giving interviews. She gave great talking head, though, because she was compulsively honest. At one time, she called Paris ``a city of notaries and concierges'' where ``love and youth are as short-lived as the mating season of birds.'' In 1971 when she was asked yet again how she liked living in Paris, she answered that ``Everybody gets on each other's nerves. They're in a permanent state of irascibility.'' (These assessments are collected at pp. x-xi of Conversations with Mary McCarthy, ed. Carol Gelderman.)

Polarized Angle-Resolved Infrared Spectroscopy. See, for example, this abstract in the APS March meeting, 1995.

Paris, the Judgment of
There's really no need for this entry, but here's something relevant from ch. 25 of Agatha Christie's 1933 mystery Lord Edgware Dies (published in the US as Thirteen for Dinner). This chapter is written in the first person of Captain Hastings, the usual not-entirely-reliable narrator of Hercule Poirot's adventures.
    Seeing Jane's beauty and appreciating the charm that her exquisitely husky voice lent to the most trite utterances, I could hardly wonder at his [the Duke of Merton's] capitulation. But one can get used to perfect beauty and an intoxicating voice! It crossed my mind that perhaps even now a ray of common-sense was dissipating the mists of intoxicated love. It was a chance remark--a rather humiliating gaffe on Jane's part that gave me that impression.
    Somebody--I forget who--had uttered the phrase ``judgment of Paris,'' and straight away Jane's delightful voice was uplifted.
    ``Paris?'' she said. ``Why, Paris doesn't cut any ice nowadays. It's London and New York that count.''
    As sometimes happens, the words fell in a momentary lull of conversation. It was an awkward moment. On my right I heard Donald Ross draw in his breath sharply. Mrs. Widburn began to talk violently about Russian opera. Everyone hastily said something to somebody else. Jane alone looked serenely up and down the table without the least consciousness of having said anything amiss.
    It was then I noticed the Duke. His lips were drawn tightly together, he had flushed, and it seemed to me as though he drew slightly away from Jane. He must have had a foretaste of the fact that for a man of his position to marry a Jane Wilkinson might lead to some awkward contretemps.

(Hyphen, long dashes, and periods sic, incidentally.)

Having the same number of syllables in all inflections. This adjective is useful in distinguishing among different nouns and adjectives of the Latin third declension.

parka and miniskirt
November in Indiana. (And January in Arizona. Brrrr! A chilly 70 Fahrenheit!)

Polish for `parking lot.' It also means `parking space.' Hence the plural parkingi is also used in the sense of `parking availability.'

Parking, like park (which is Polish for `park' of the arboreal sort), is slang for `cemetery.' This shows that it's good to look things up even if you have good reason to think you know what they mean.

[Football icon]

This looks like ordinary English, but it isn't quite. It's an English-like expression used in the liturgical language of Notre Dame, a church-run school in Indiana (Church-of-Holy-Football, a non-oblate sect of holy rollers). The phrase appears on signs at parking lots around campus. Read as ordinary English, it seems to imply that the usual hang tags and stickers for on-campus parking are not valid after 6 AM on days of worship (``game days''), and that if you are parked in your regular lot without a special permit after 6:00 AM on the day of a home game, your car is subject to towing (at owner's expense, as some signs point out). Quite by coincidence, this turns out to be absolutely correct. However, if you don't know the local language, you will fail to realize the entire significance of the sign. The entire significance is that cars will begin to be towed at 5:30 AM.

The special no-parking language of Notre Dame (Latin motto: Footballisus) bears such a close resemblance to English that you may not realize when it is being used. This can cause confusion. For example, on the Friday night before the first home game of the 2008 season, I asked the guard at the east gate where I could park on campus overnight, and he suggested that I use my regular lot, ``but make sure you get out by 6 am.'' In plain English, of course, what he was saying was `get out by 5:30 am if you don't want your car towed.'

The guard was evidently a fluent speaker of Notre Dame no-parking English, as was the towing crew which I encountered in the parking lot the next morning at 5:45 AM and that efficiently unloaded my car from the flatbed. The guard had probably supposed, quite innocently, that I too was fluent in no-parking. After all, it's the same language that's used in the parking regulations brochure that you get with your sticker or hang tag. (Oh, I suppose one might consider the possibility that the guard was not fluent in no-parking, and that he was unwittingly repeating what he had read in a brochure or on a no-parking sign as if it had been written in English -- mispronouncing it, so to speak. However, that would require not only that (1) he have assumed that the sign or whatever was written in English, but furthermore that (2) I was a fluent English speaker, (3) just like himself. That all seems like too much of a coincidence, requiring the stars to line up just right and all, so it was probably just my mistake. Either that or ND is in a very special time zone.)

See also NO Football Parking, $6.

PAR lamp
Parabolic Aluminized Reflector LAMP. PAR lamps are made from heavy, heat-resistant glass, with the inside back surface shaped like a paraboloid of revolution (with a reflective aluminum coat).

Interesting that R lamps and PAR lamps both use parabolic reflector back surfaces, and in R lamps they are often aluminized. The important difference between R and PAR lamps is that PAR lamps use heavy-duty glass. It can be seen that illumination engineers are not very bright.

From an Old French word meaning talk-shop (vide hyphen).

A PARallel LOGic programming language. Specifically, an and-parallel variant of Prolog. Parlog++ and Polka are object-oriented extensions of Parlog. I should find out what all that stands for, sure.


Let's try to get this straight: in the Platonic dialogue Parmenides, Plato does not exactly argue against ideal forms. He merely presents the strongest arguments against them that he can see. Aristotle saw a bit different.


This philosopher argued that you couldn't describe a thing completely in terms of negative qualities, and somehow argued himself from that into the dubious position that there were no distinctions or change, and that every distinction or appearance of change is illusory. In three hundred words or fewer, explain how he would have reacted to Java applets. Give examples from Democritus of Abdera and Zeno. If you want to cheat, you can visit appropriate links at the FDT entry.

According to Pool, in 19th-century England ``[c]ertain convicts were excused from having to serve their whole sentence under an `order of license,' known colloquially as a ticket-of-leave. If they misbehaved, they went back in jail.'' This is Pool's glossary entry (p. 381) for ``ticket-of-leave man.'' (My copy of Pool's book is an American edition, so the spelling in the entry is no evidence for use of the spelling license in preference to licence.)


A (Gk.) word with an acute accent on the penult.

Comparing this definition with that of oxytone, you notice that grave accent isn't mentioned. That's because a grave accent only appears on the ultima, replacing an acute accent when another word follows immediately (i.e., when there is no punctuation mark following the word to be modified), unless it's in a quote or, Zeus help you, in the dangerous vicinity of an enclitic. You are not the first person to wonder what great utility there is in this. Modern Greek is ``monotonic,'' meaning that it only uses one accent mark.

Cf. also proparoxytone.

As you probably have guessed, the word paroxysm was invented to describe the reaction of students to so-called ``explanations'' (apologies, it should be) for Greek accents.

parrot head, parrothead
A dedicated fan of the singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett. Frequently capitalized, and sometimes written with a double t (``Parrotthead'') to reflect the double t in Buffett.

The term was reportedly coined by Timothy B. Schmit, who toured with Buffett's band in 1983, 1984, and 1985, so perhaps that places it. The Wikipedia entry (browsed 2008.09.22) for Parotheads explains that ``at a Jimmy Buffett concert at the Timberwolf Amphitheater outside Cincinnati, Ohio,... Gwen commented about everyone wearing Hawaiian shirts and parrot hats and how they kept coming back to see his shows, just like Deadheads'' and that Schmit coined this in response. That may be so, but another thought occurs to me . The drug culture associated with rock music gives rise to many double entendres, sometimes quite subtle (e.g., ``Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds''). Buffett's band, which Schmit toured as a part of, is called the Coral Reefer Band. The word head means addict, and may be regarded as occurring merely metaphorically in the sense of fan in Dead Head and Parrot Head. So I think the fact that Parrot contains Pot might not be accidental. (I tried and failed to figure out who ``Gwen'' is.)

The Postgraduate And Research Students' Association. Its ``primary focus is the welfare of all postgraduate students at the ANU, particularly with respect to their studies. Unless they opt not to, all postgraduates (i.e., Grad. Cert., Grad. Dip., Masters and Ph.D. students) at the ANU automatically become members of PARSA.''

partially influenced

party hardy
  1. Party with the ability to withstand droughts and late frosts.
  2. Chatese for ``party hearty.''

Part 68
Vide FCC 68.

Polarization- and Angle-Resolved Ultraviolet Photoemission Spectroscopy (UPS).

Professional Association of Résumé Writers & Career Coaches. It was ``founded in January of 1990. Prior to that time, there had been no association for career professionals to exchange information, enhance their skills, or demonstrate their commitment to providing professional services to the general public.'' It used to be known as the PARW. (The NRWA was founded in 1997.)

ParaAminoSalicylic acid. Bacteriostatic agent for tubercule bacilli. Also `PASA.'

Peoria Academy of Science. The sections of the PAS are known as

Peoria Astronomical Society. The PAS is a section of the PAS. At least as recently as 1952 its official name was ``the Astronomy Section of the Peoria Academy of Science.''

The Illinois city of Peoria is best known as a byword for, or antonomasia of, ordinariness. To question whether a new idea would be accepted by the American mainstream, one could ask

...but will it play in Peoria?

Peoria Audubon Society. The PAS is a section of the PAS. A proper section.

Perceptual Aberration Scale. They say it's a schizophrenia test, but really it's part of an alien conspiracy that I must thwart by feeding poison packing peanuts to the sand crabs.

Personal de Administración y Servicios. Seems to be a standard link on Spanish university homepages.

PhotoAcoustic Spectroscopy.

Physician-Assisted Suicide.

Premorbid Adjustment Scale. Psychiatrists just love the P - A - S acronym so much, they give it multiple expansions so they can use it more often. Sounds pathological to me.

Presidential Appointment, Senate-confirmed. Acronym used by the White House for appointment to a high-ranking executive-branch position (a ``PAS slot'') that requires Senate approval.

Psychiatric Assessment Scale.

Spanish, `it happens,' `it [or he or she] passes,' `raisin,' or `nappy hair.'

In a domestic context, the noun pasa usually means `raisin,' but pasa de Corinto, literally `raisin of Corinth,' is a currant. To be clear, you could specify pasa de uva (`grape raisin'), but that particular phrase seems to be common only in Argentina. Even there, where the expression has been common since at least the 1950's, most people mostly say just pasa. I don't think currants were or are especially popular there, and other dried fruit are called just that (fruta seca).

A plum is a ciruela, and throughout the Spanish-speaking world a prune is called a ciruela pasa, which one could interpret as a `raisin plum' or possibly better yet not interpret at all. I've also seen the noun phrase uva pasa, which at first suggested that pasa was being construed as a general attributive noun meaning `dried fruit' (so uva pasa is a `dried grape' and ciruela pasa is part of a general pattern). I've only seen this on manufacturer or distributor product labels at the local hispanic grocery, which serves a mostly Mexican-American clientele (and mainly Mexican and US brands). Earlier in the millennium, when I searched for webpages with this usage, the only national domain under which I saw it was <.mx;>. Just now (Summer 2006), I see it on some Argentine pages as well.

[When I first saw it, and because it seemed rather rare, I guessed that this expression was an error for uva pasada. The adjective pasado (pasada in female gender) means `past [time].' In the food context, this normally means `spoiled.' (You can use the word podrido for `rotten,' but if it's just started to get soft, or it smells just slightly off, then it's certainly pasado but possibly not podrido.) So an uva pasada is normally a `rotten grape.' It turns out, according to Hamel's little Bilingual Dictionary of Mexican Spanish/Diccionario Bilingüe de Mexicanismos, that in reference to fruit, pasado in Mexico means seco (`dry'). Considering the climate, this is perhaps not entirely surprising.]

(I didn't want to get too far off on a tangent, but I would point out that forms of the verb pasar in reflexive construction can also occur in connection with food to indicate overcooked. For example, se me pasó el mate means effectively `I forgot to take the mate kettle off the stove.' It's easy to construct phrases that use the past participle pasado, but here pasado is not an adjective modifying a food noun.)

Getting back to the pasa de uva thing, I might as well point out that Argentina is unusual, if not quite unique, in retaining the vos conjugations of Spanish. These are very similar to the tu conjugations (nowadays they are both ``familiar'' forms), except for the imperative forms. Thus, in most of the Spanish-speaking world, pasa is a command meaning `pass,' but in Argentina and in Central America (extending south and east as far as western Colombia), the command is pronounced pasá. Of course, you'd normally say something more detailed, like pasamelo [tú] or pasámelo [vos] (`[you] hand it to me'). (There might be more about that either at, or linked from, the Usted entry, eventualmente.) BTW, if you think the situation in Spanish is confused, have a look at the plum pudding entry.

From the verb, one has uses of pasa as a noun meaning `passage,' `[nautical] channel,' or `flight [of birds].' In their 1970 release Bridge Over Troubled Water (their last complete album of original music together), Simon and Garfunkel included a song entitled ``El Condor Pasa (If I Could).'' (El cóndor pasa is Spanish for `the condor passes.' Never would've guessed that one, eh?)

That song has a very native South American sound, and the arrangement evidently included the flute characteristic of that music. It has a characteristically breathy vibrato. I mentioned this to my mother, forgetting that she practiced recorder for a couple of decades. It's a recorder-like flute called a quena. She dug a couple of quenas out of the dining-room hutch and played the authentic one (noting that it's not supposed to be gaily painted -- but you know what sells). It turns out that the vibrato is not in the instrument. It's a style of play: you can play the quena without the vibrato if you choose, but that just happens not to be the style of native music. (Follow this link to Andreas Sumerauer's audio sample, playing a rather Western melody.)

Another thing about the song ``El Condor Pasa (If I Could)'': it includes the lyrics ``I'd rather be a sparrow than a snail. Yes I would! If I only cou - ou -ould, I surely wou - ou -ould.'' The terrible thing about Simon and Garfunkel lyrics is that they're sung so clearly you can understand (in a phonetic sense) and remember them. So four decades later, when you finally emerge from the haze, you can appreciate just how stoned you must have been. Even if the lyrics really were written in the nineteenth century.

There's a lot of contradictory information about that S&G hit on the web, so it follows that there's a lot of mistaken ``information'' about it on the web. The following account is based in part on what I could glean from gazing intently at the cover of a Bridge Over Troubled Waters CD at the local B&N. (I'm away from my own collection. You think I'm going to buy another copy to write this entry?) Actually, ``following'' in the preceding sentence should be understood chronologically. I have to stop somewhere or I'll never get this glossary page posted.

ParaAminoSalicylic Acid. Bacteriostatic agent for tubercule bacilli. Also `PAS.'

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Amplification of Specific Alleles.

Perfect All-Singing All-Dancing Editorial and Notation Application. An XML-based editing system that the editors of the OED hope will do it all, launched in June 2005 with panache.

Positron Annihilation Spectroscopy for Chemical Analysis.

A programming language created by Niklaus Wirth. Borland made a nice Pascal compiler-and-development-environment for the IBM PC in the 1980's, but it was no longer supported in the early 1990's. If you're not actually interested in writing your own compiler or compiler bug fixes, and you're not working on some exotic machine for which compilers are rare, then face it, you're using Pascal because it came free and you're too cheap to buy something that's less of a waste of time.

Oh, you wanted useful information about Pascal? Why didn't you say so? Check out the good Pascal entry at FOLDOC, which quotes from Brian Kernighan's famous paper, ``Why Pascal is Not My Favourite Programming Language.'' (Only the title is understated.)

Michael Neumann's extensive list of sample short programs in different programming languages includes Hello World programs in a couple of Pascal versions.

Software Pioneers: Contributions to Software Engineering (Springer-Verlag New York, Inc., 2002) had an article entitled ``Pascal and its Successors'' (pp. 108-119) by Wirth, who by then was a professor emeritus at ETH Zürich. Here's the abstract:

The programming language Pascal was designed in 1969 in the spirit of Algol 60 with a concisely defined syntax representing the paradigm of structured programming. Seven years later, with the advent of the micro-computer, it became widely known and was adopted in many schools and universities. In 1979 it was followed by Modula-2 which catered to the needs of modular programming in teams. This was achieved by the module construct and the separate compilation facility. In an effort to reduce language complexity, and to accommodate object-oriented programming, Oberon was designed in 1988. Here we present some aspects of the evolution of this family of programming languages.

Polska Akademia Stomatologii Estetycznej. This is typically translated as `Polish Academy of Esthetic Dentistry.' The word stomatologia, evidently from the Greek stóma (`mouth'), means `dentistry'; dentystyka is a synonym.


Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory.

Powerful and Authentic Social Studies. A set of teaching standards, if that means anything. Believe me, I don't make this stuff up. I was looking for more information on THOT (Teaching for Higher Order Thinking), and I came across a 1996 item from the Michigan State Department of Education in Lansing. Bad sign: no author listed. Abstract includes the following dynamic profundities:
This document offers a guide to enhance the quality of Michigan social studies teaching. The document draws on two sources, ``A Vision of Powerful Teaching and Learning in the Social Studies'' (National Council for the Social Studies) and ``A Guide to Authentic Instruction and Assessment: Vision, Standards and Scoring'' (Newmann, Secada, and Wehlage) to create six standards that blend the elements of both powerful and authentic social studies instruction.


`Here and there.' [Latin.] Used to indicate that an idea, motif, expression, etc. recurs throughout a work. Used in editing to indicate that an error needs to be corrected throughout a work; used in indices also.

A similar word, reasonably transliterated as passim, occurs in Biblical Hebrew and is discussed at the entry for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

passionate non sequiters
A popular form of political speech.

(I suppose this entry would work as well with sequitur correctly spelled.)

passive filter
A filter circuit whose components are just passive devices (resistors, capacitors, and inductors). Contrast with active filters.

passive learning
What happens when someone listens to a lecture without thinking. Even though this is evidently a failure of the listener, who hasn't understood that study is an active verb and not a state, fool busybodies called (facetiously) ``scholars of pedagogy'' insist that the solution is to replace the lectures with something that can keep even the nonsentient awake, incidentally subjecting everyone who was learning to what is a sometimes insulting and invariably less efficient pedagogical method. You cannot imagine the politically correct collegiate educational methods that have been urged on me by the teaching effectiveness gurus (unless you remember kindergarten).

[Football icon]

pass pro
PASS PROtection.

This is a common initial or default password, and much of the time, it's also an exceedingly bad idea. Look, if you need an occasional random number easily, just use the least significant digits of the system clock.

A notional programming language based on the power and elegance of computed goto. Complicated and unintuitive constructs like if, else, and switch are eliminated; these conditional constructs are implemented naturally and transparently in terms of computed-goto fundamentals. Needless to say, continue and break constructs are superfluous and available.

There is no need for any comment delimiter or token: comments are simply placed on unreachable program lines. Nor is it necessary to keep track of which curly bracket goes with which, or to choose a bracket alignment convention that might later prove unaesthetic, because there are no blocks -- just good, honest assignment and goto statements.

  1. This also helps the preprocessor guess in what order the comments should be ignored.
  2. Nevertheless, experienced programmers number their comments to make clear the order in which they should be read.
  3. Comment numbers can be reused.

Function parameters are communicated using PASTA's unique pass-by-email mechanism. Exceptions are handled gracefully using the toss-in-the-air method (adopted from the PIZZA family of languages). PASTA is the language of choice for throwing exceptions. Facilities for catching exceptions are already under development.

``Sequential'' flow is guaranteed by the next-goto clause that is a required part of every statement. To improve readability, long statements can be continued anywhere using the continued@ operator, which specifies destination line number and column. PASTA programs exhibit very flexible topology.

PASTA IV introduced dynamic runtime line renumbering, which makes possible such features as ``peek-a-boo scoping.'' A version that is object-oriented, or objects-shoehorned-in, is based on data encapsulation in pierogis (methods are encapsulated separately in meat ravioli). A similar object-disoriented language for Apple machines is Macaroni.

The OOPS version of PASTA. Two-character operators are a prominent feature of C++ (because of the language name and because of operator overloading). Two-character operators are prominent in PASTA---- for similar reasons. For example, -- is a binary operator that yields the difference of its first operand and the additive inverse of its second operand. Because this gives results very similar to addition, the -- operator has supplanted the + operator, and the + symbol is now available to make more interesting identifiers. Similarly, the // operator is used in place of *, although it gives unpredictable results when the second operand is zero. (The // symbol is not used or needed for commenting.)

[Football icon]

Point-After Try. Attempt to kick between the uprights. Success scores one extra point after a touchdown (TD). Called a convert in Canadian football.

In both US pro football and Canadian, there's a sort of TD encore attempt called a two-point conversion (US) or two-point convert (Canada). It's all about religion.

Spanish: `paw, foot.' You should read the BATA Shoe Museum entry.

The expression ``patas para arriba'' and its contraction ``patas pa'rriba,'' literally mean `feet upward' (the idea might be better translated `feet in the air'). It is widely used as a slightly colorful way to say `upside down,' both literally upside down and figuratively (`upset, confused, topsy-turvy'). The contracted form (with pa') isn't very common in Spain, to judge by ghits. The contracted form is very common in my father's native Chile, where it is a charming old way to say `dead' or `broken beyond repair.' Think of the dead-horse-in-the-dean's office scene in Animal House.

Hmmm. Googling around, I see that the form without preposition (patas arriba) is the most common. I was prompted to check when I came across this cleverly crafted book title:

El clima patas arriba: infierno en el cielo.
One despairs to translate this title adequately because it involves a great deal of wordplay. To begin at the end, the word cielo means both `sky' and `heaven.' (This pairing of senses is extremely widespread. English, as often, is exceptional.)

In the context created by the first noun clima, meaning `climate,' one inclines to translate cielo as `sky.' However, the word infierno means `hell,' so the subtitle ``infierno en el cielo'' almost demands the translation `hell in heaven.' The latter translation emphasizes the geometric sense of ``patas arriba'' as `upside down.' (Note that etymologically, infierno and related words ultimately just refer to `the place below.' The idea and the etymology are not very distant from those of inferior.)

On the other hand, the hot aspect of hell is much more salient in the Spanish word infierno, more like the words inferno and infernal than the word hell. (In Spanish, inferno/a is just a poetic alternative to the adjective infernal meaning `hellish.') The diminutive forms infernillo and infiernillo refer to a stove or heater.

The associations of infierno with heat make the allusion to global warming clear. Hence, one also wants to preserve the sense of ``patas arriba'' as `upset' or worse. About the best title translation I can come up with at the moment, insofar as preserving wordplay is concerned, is something like `The Climate on its Head: the Celestial Inferno.'

Of course, if you are a global-warming skeptic, you might quote Milton: ``The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a Heav'n of Hell, and a Hell of Heav'n.''

Of course, if you are not a global-warming skeptic, you might prefer the term ``climate-change denier.''

Incidentally, if I may be permitted a more scientific aside (just try and stop me!), the average temperature does not fall monotonically with increasing altitude. It is true that over the first few miles the temperature falls (through the troposphere up to the tropopause), but it rises through the stratosphere up to the stratopause (altitude roughly 50 km), where the temperature range overlaps that of the surface (-30°C to 20°C). The reason for this relatively high temperature is that a combination of reactions maintains a high concentration of ozone in the stratosphere. Depletion of the ozone layer actually causes cooling of this upper atmosphere.

(The temperature drops again through the mesosphere. Eventually, at altitudes of hundreds of kilometers, the temperature is determined primarily by solar activity, and the temperature ranges from 500 to 2000 K. Further out, where sunlight is just a perturbation, the temperature settles down to something below 3K.)

[Thomas Henry] Huxley's confidence in the power of science was once amusingly expressed in an after-dinner speech, in which he claimed to have had a dream of waking up after death in a vast and luxurious subterranean hall -- a warm hall. He had always expected to go to a warm place, but was somewhat surprised both by its luxury and by the fact that the fork-tailed waiters were serving drinks. He ordered a drink and, in view of the warmth, inquired whether it could possibly be iced. ``Certainly,'' said the waiter, and shortly returned with the order. Surprised by the rapid provision of the requested ice, Huxley made a query of the waiter: ``I suppose I am not wrong about where I have come to?'' ``No, Professor, this is Hell,'' he was assured. ``But surely there has been a good deal of change? This doesn't at all agree with what we used to be told of the place.'' ``Why, no, sir,'' the waiter explained. ``Hell isn't what it used to be. A great many of you scientific gents have been coming here recently, and they have turned the whole place upside down.''
[The above is from a 1967 work entitled The Essence of Thomas Henry Huxley: Selections from his Writings, edited with several brief interpretative essays (including the quoted text, from page 34) by Cyril Bibby and a foreword by Sir Julian Huxley.]

The Saturday Review (a defunct middlebrowish literary magazine) used to run an occasional feature called ``The Phoenix Nest.'' In the edition of May 21, 1960, this was a contribution entitled ``The Achievement of H.T. Wensel.'' It was written by H. Allen Smith, and purported to pass along a calculation that an anonymous friend has received thirty years earlier from the almost equally anonymous Wensel, who had worked at the NBS (now NIST). Based on the Bible, the Stefan-Boltzmann law, and the boiling point of sulfur, it concluded that heaven is hotter than hell (525°C -- sounds like the thermosphere -- vs. at most 445°C). If he'd simply read Dante he'd have learned that the lowest circle of hell is burning cold.

Pacific Asia Travel Association. See also Tourism entry. Hmmm, from 2003 until further notice, see also the SARS entry.

Port Authority Transit COrporation. A train line from Philadelphia, PA, to Lindenwold, NJ. (And back.) The ``Port Authority'' here is the Delaware River Port Authority. There is a slight ambiguity of reference: in some cases (as on this DRPA page), ``PATCO'' refers to the commuter rail line, and is not used for the DRPA subsidiary that operates it. Elsewhere (as on the Port Authority's homepage), PATCO is the operating company while ``PATCO Speedline'' or just ``Speedline'' is sometimes used to distinguish the line itself. Following standard practice, this entry will be strictly careless.

Starting from the west, the PATCO line runs under Locust St., with stations between 15th and 16th Avenues, 12th and 13th, and 9th and 10th. Then it turns north and stops at the 8th and Market St. station, with connections to various SEPTA lines. Then it's across the Ben Franklin Bridge to Camden stops at City Hall and Broadway (with a connection to the NJT River Line at the latter), then further dormitory-community stops stretching east to the Lindenwold terminus, which has a connection to NJT's Atlantic City Rail Line. That's as of 2008, when there were public hearings on proposals to extend service northward and southward on the Philadelphia side of the Delaware.

Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization. This is the name of three unions. The first PATCO existed from 1968 to 1981, and its beginning and end validated the old Biblical dictum: ``Live by the illegal job action, die by the illegal job action.'' I have work to do; I'm going to suspend activity on this entry temporarily.

pâté de foie gras
French, `fat[ted goose-]liver paste.'

Arthur Koestler has been quoted as having once remarked that to wish to meet an author personally because you have admired his work is as unwise as to want to meet a goose because you like pâté de foie gras.

Cf. coup de graisse.

Port Authority Trans-Hudson. Trains from New York, NY, to Newark, NJ. And back.

Operated by the Port Authority (PA). Raise your hand if you guessed it. Okay, that's enough. Simmer down.

Positive Alternatives To Homosexuality. Yes but, as Woody Allen would probably ask: do they halve your chances of getting a date on Saturday night? (There might be another pun if ``halve'' is replaced by ``have.'' The latter is what I used to ha-- is what used to be there. It was either a typo or a pun that I am no longer clever enough to get.)

Phased-Array Tracking Radar Intercept On Target. A US missile-defense battery succeeded by MADS.

Patriot Act
Huh? Oh -- you mean the USA PATRIOT Act.

patron saints
The Catholic Community Forum offers lists of patron saints organized by their responsibilities or bailiwicks and by name.

I notice that St. Joseph is still tasked with patronizing or whatever it's called the fighters against Communism. I realize you want to go with your best horse, but that operation seems to be winding down. Yet after the blessed events around 1989, things have stalled a bit. Possibly his attention is slipping, since he also has responsibility for much of northern North America (Canada; archdiocese of Anchorage, Alaska; diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming; diocese of Buffalo, New York, etc. and more etc.), as well as the partly overlapping categories of pregnant, dying, and married people, and yet more etc. The fact is that while these are all very important responsibilities, they are relatively well in hand. Most of these responsibilities are shared with other, less-well-known but adequately holy saints, many of them champing at the bit to show their miraculous stuff. There is a clear need to prioritize and delegate. Well, I see that after a slow start, Pope Benedict is finally seeing the Curian stables flushed out; I trust the Holy Father will give this his attention next.

For other practical saintly thoughts, see the entry for assassination, political. And just in case you want to return to this entry and forget to bookmark it, you ought to know that Saint Anthony of Padua is the patron saint of lost objects (and probably lost classes and structs, too). His feast day is June 13th, and I imagine he likes peanuts. Thai peanut sauce, mmmmm.

An easy person to take advantage of, typically by cheating or framing. The patsy in these cases is a mark or a fall-guy, respectively.

It's been suggested that the word is derived from the Italian pazzo, meaning `fool.' (Note that this is pronounced ``pah-tso.'') I am extremely grateful for this etymology, because political correctness is decimating the language and patsy looks like a word at risk.

Patient Assessment Training SYstem. ``PATSy is a large web-based multimedia database of clinical cases that is currently in use at more than 15 UK universities. The Speech and Language domain (one of four on the PATSy system) is used as a resource in teaching students how to diagnose speech and language impairment in brain-injured patients and serves as a repository of patient cases for researchers and clinicians.'' The other domains are Neuropsychology (``...teaching students how to diagnose neuropsychology participants and serves as a repository ...''), Medical Rehabilitation (``how to diagnose medical rehabilitation patients and serves ...''), and Dyslexia (``...diagnose dyslexia participants...'').

P.A.T.S.Y., PATSY, Patsy
Picture Animal Top Star of the Year. The PATSY was for a while the animal equivalent of the Oscar, Emmy, and Tony all rolled into one. It was presented by Hollywood's office of the American Humane Association to human-trained animal performers for noteworthy performances in TV, movies, and at least one play.

The awards were first presented in 1951, when the emcee was Ronald Reagan. Ron (as Prof. Peter Boyd) costarred with another primate (named Bonzo) in Bedtime for Bonzo, which was released that year. Ron eventually went on to play the lead role in the US government.

The 1950's and 1960's were good years for performing animals, and the PATSY's were awarded annually until 1978. After a three-year hiatus, they were awarded again starting in 1982, with Bob Barker as host. Bob Barker resigned in protest in March 1987, complaining that training methods for animal performers were cruel. There were no PATSY awards that year. For a while there was talk of reviving the PATSY's again, but as of 2004 it hasn't happened.

The disagreement between the AHA and Barker continued and got very ugly. The AHA eventually sued him for libel and defamation. That suit was settled out of court in 1994. (A couple of weeks before resigning as PATSY host in 1987, Barker had also threatened to resign as host of the Miss USA and Miss Universe events, because animal furs were presented as prizes. Organizers told him fake furs would be used starting the next year, and he agreed to stay on. The next year organizers reneged, and he quit.)

A Peanuts comic strip character also known as `Sir.' Patty's grade in every academic subject is D-.

Private Automatic (Telex) eXchange. Term would seem to be plausibly confusable with PAX.

Parallel Advanced Tactical Targeting Technology.


Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft in alphabetischer Ordnung (Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler, 1839-1852). August Friedrich von Pauly only lived from 1796 to 1845. The work was completed by his younger colleagues Wilhelm Sigismund Teuffel (1820-1878) and Christian Walz (1802-1857).

Also ``Kleine Pauly.''


Pauly-Wissowa (Stuttgart 1893-1962). Neue Bearbeitung [von Paulys] unter Mitwirkung zahlreicher Fachgenossen hrsg. von Georg Wissowa (1859-1931). Also edited by Wilhelm Kroll (1869-1939), Kurt Witte (1885-) Konrat Ziegler (1884-1974), ... with periodic supplements, etc.

Phylogenetic Analysis Using Parsimony.


Pavo. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation.

In Latin, pavo (genitive pavonis) means `peacock.' The constellation Pavo is not ancient, but was named by the German astronomer Johann Bayer (1572-1625). Nevertheless, there is an ancient myth explaining how the peacock got its eyes, explained by Chris Dolan at his page for the constellation Pavo. The mythical story, not surprisingly, has to do with sex. The widely accepted modern explanation is sexual selection (same thing with zebra stripes).

In Spanish, the word pavo means `turkey,' and peacock is pavo real or pavón (future entry). There's an old (obsolete, in my experience) colloquial expression pelar la pava, literally `to peel the turkeyhen,' which means `to court' or `to serenade.'

In German, one word for turkey is Pute. It's onomatopeic, ``put, put'' (as pronounced in German) being a sound one makes to call fowl. I imagine this works better if you also have some feed. The word Pute usually refers to turkey as food, just as pork or ham in English refers to hog as food. [To refer to the animal as such, one can use Truthenne (`turkey hen') instead of Pute or Truthahn (`turkey cock') instead of Puter.] The word Pute is used in various transferred senses. Fowl, and particularly domestic fowl, are proverbially stupid, so it's unsurprising that Pute is used in the sense of `stupid woman.' The diminutive form puttel is used affectionately, as are double-diminutive forms like puttele and puttelchen. Well, to judge from ghits, these endearments are quite rare today. But as a little girl, my mother was called puttele, and my great aunt Edith always called her husband mein puttel (loosely, `my little silly one'). [Let me remind you, in case you forgot, that German diminutives have neuter grammatical gender, regardless of natural gender.]

One day, when she was still living in Buenos Aires, my grandmother bought a turkey at the market. She hadn't learned the Spanish word pavo yet, so she did what one usually does, and tried to naturalize into Spanish the (in this case German) word she did know. Returning home to the family tailor shop, she said ``me traje una puta.'' All the seamstresses laughed; she had said `I brought along a prostitute.' I guess I'll point out that traje is a Spanish noun meaning `dress, costume, outfit.' Of course, even in a tailor's shop, me traje was understood as `I brought.' I only mentioned the noun sense to confuse you. (It's hard to explain the precise valence of me in her phrase, so I won't. Should I explain that puta is Spanish for `whore' or `prostitute'? No, I shouldn't. For more and less, see these entries: ATC and PPP.)

Spanish term for a flock of turkeys (pavos, see Pav). I don't think I've ever heard pavada used in that literal sense in conversation, but the word is common in expressions like no me vengas con pavadas (`don't give me that nonsense'). I guess I ought to point out that no me vengas here is understood to mean `don't come to me,' vengas being a form of the verb venir, `to come.' In principle, no me vengas con pavadas could mean `do not avenge me with turkey flocks,' vengas being a form of the verb vengar, `to avenge.'

You probably think I'm joking, and I am, but the language facts stated in the preceding paragraph are all true. The ways (pasas, incorrectly speaking) of Spanish are mysterious. (And yes, you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.)

PennsylvaniA Veterinary Medical Association. See also AVMA.

Precision Acquisition Vehicle Energy--Phased Array Warning System. A radar system located at Beale AFB.

Personal Area Wireless.

Physics Around the World.

Plasma Arc Welding.

Princeton Alumni Weekly.

Pawel, Ernst
A Jewish writer born in Breslau in1920 and raised in Berlin. He and his parents fled Berlin for Belgrade in 1934. (It seems that as they were working their way down the alphabet, they were running out of options.) He published three novels and four biographies. The latter are The Nightmare of Reason: A Life of Franz Kafka, The Labyrinth of Exile: A Life of Theodor Herzl, The Poet Dying: Heinrich Heine's Last Years, and Life in Dark Ages, a memoir of his own experiences from 1934 to 1945, interleaved with updates on his terminal illness and recollections of the rest of his life.

Like most memoirs, it has no index. Let's have some badly-constructed index entries.

Djilas, Milovan, Vladimir Dedijer ostracized for refusing to break with ... p. 106; thumbnail sketch of the career of ... pp. 114-5 [see also our New Class entry]; son ostracized in nursery school ... p. can't-find-it-now, but I'm not making this up
lingua franca, observations informed by working at Belgrade's largest bookstore, in the Foreign Department, on ... p. 62

In that twilight era between the fall of the Habsburgs and the collapse of everything else, the German language still topped all others as the lingua franca of Eastern Europe, although the Serbian elite generally leaned toward French; as for the exotic idiom of Anglo-Saxons and shiftless emigrants, it was about as popular as Hindustani. The only English-speaker in Belgrade--English to the extent of not quite being Serbian--with whom I ever tried to commune in that language was my barber, deported from the States as a subversive alien after the First World War.

A popular acronym and name or name component for groups with animal concerns. Expansions contrived for the PAWS acronym include

Click here now to run a search on PAWS at <Animalconcerns.org>.

PAX, pax
PAssengers. The acronym is Widely used in the transportation industries, and may refer to singular passengers (as opposed to plural passengers, not as opposed to nonsingular passengers).


Latin: `peace.' Extended periods of peace may be named after the powers that are seen to impose or achieve them (e.g.: Pax Romana, Pax Americana). [Pronounced `pox.'] The ablative form of pax functions as a preposition in English; see pace.

The Romans used the word pax in other senses, particularly in the sense of a `treaty' or `pact' (you understand: like ``Peace of Westfalia''). The English word pact is ultimately derived from the Latin verb pacere, `to agree,' and both pax and pacere appear to be derived from a common Indo-European root that also yielded the English words page, pawn, and propagate (via Latin) and pectic (via Greek via Latin).

Penny Arcade EXpo. (It's pronounced ``packs.'') ``PAX is a three-day game festival for tabletop, videogame, and PC gamers. We call it a festival because in addition to dedicated tournaments and freeplay areas we've got nerdcore concerts, panel discussions, the weekend-long Omegathon event, and an exhibitor hall filled with booths displaying the latest from top game publishers and developers. Even with all this amazing content the best part of PAX is hanging out with other people who know their shit when it comes to games.''

[Phone icon]

Private Automatic (telephone) eXchange.

pay attention
If you already speak English, it doesn't seem strange. In Spanish, the standard expression is ``prestar atención'' -- i.e., `to lend attention.' Sort of like ``lending an ear'' abstractly.

The sincerest form of gratitude.

Low prices in Holland now!

pay toilets
In Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book (see book procurement), the entirety of the author's advice on toilets is: ``Sneak under!''

Until we develop our own idiosyncratic treatment of this issue, you can visit this not-entirely-illiterate explanation.

Don't worry, we'll mention Vespasian here sooner or later, or else have a link to a urinals entry that mentions him.

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