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Paper Ballot. Who would have thought that starting in the twenty-first century, the paper ballot would come to be widely viewed as the gold standard of voting technology?

pb, PB
Paper-Bound or PaperBack or Paperback Book. The last expansion is nicely parallel with HB. Other abbreviations: ppb., ppbk.

Particle Board. Like fiber board (see MDF), but made with wood particles, or a mix of particles and fibers. See the LMA's downloadable glossary.

Peanut Butter. See also (or just guess) PB&J.

Peanut butter, for those unfamiliar with it, is a kind of spackle paste. It takes a bit longer to dry than the usual stuff, however.

Plasma reactor, Barrel type.


Chemical symbol for lead, from Plumbum, which was the Latin name for nonprecious soft (ductile) metal; lead was plumbum nigrum [black] and tin was plumbum album [white]. (See Pliny, Nat. Hist. 34, 156.)

Atomic number 82. A dense metal and a heavy one. If you think that's redundant, then tell ZZ Top to stop singing ``a ton of lead'' as if that were any heavier than a ton of lumber. Lead is dense (11.34 g/cc). If you have a lot of it, it's heavy. Gold is denser (19.30 g/cc). If you have a lot of it, you're rich. Heavy is a matter of perspective and motivation. ``He ain't heavy, he's my brother'' and all that. From the perspective of nuclear or atomic beam physics, lead is heavier than gold (atomic number 79) because the most common isotopes have higher mass (atomic mass 207.2 vs. 196.97). Gold is denser because it has a smaller molar volume. Transition metals tend to have small molar volumes, and in consequence, the densest naturally occurring elements are osmium (Z=76, 22.61 g/cc) and iridium (Z=77, 22.65 g/cc).

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

The electronic image archives at Washington University at St. Louis had a jpeg of an old postcard of Leadville, Colorado. Look around, it's probably out there somewhere on the web still.

PortaBle. It's got a handle; we've done our part. You're on your own now, buddy.


{Police | Policemen's | Patrolmen's} Benevolent Association.

Local 90 is the one in Westfield, New Jersey.

PBA spokesfolk are quick to assert that the PBA is not a union.

There: three one-sentence paragraphs in a row -- and you thought that was illegal!


Prevent Blindness America. Just to inject a little variety, I think it's nice to have some organization names that look like imperative clauses. PBA sponsors twelve months a year. Moreover, seeing opportunity in a slow-news month, PBA has given August the dual designations of ``Children's Eye Health and Safety Month'' and ``Cataract [sic] Awareness Month.'' In election years, they should combine that into ``Childhood Cataracts Month.'' June also gets double coverage, because ``Fireworks Safety Month'' is June and July.

Professional Bowlers Association. Here's an interesting fact: bowling is a sport. It was once even a surprising fact, but now that ESPN has broadcast a (censored) scrabble event, it's merely interesting.

I had a look at the 1944 and 1947 editions of The New Encyclopedia of Sports, by Frank G. Menke, to get some authoritative confirmation. Sure enow, it lists Bowling. It also lists birling, which is the sport form of the business of log rolling. A birling tournament is a roleo.

Similarly, a birding tournament is a rodeo. Well, okay, it isn't. But it should be. After all, the longest-running competitive birding tournament in the US is held in Texas.

Menke also lists corn husking. In the years 1924 to 1941, the three contests with the lowest winning net bushels husked (in eighty minutes) were the years with the most inclement race conditions (snow and ice in 1927! -- only 15.47 bu.). There were no contests in 1942-1946, but they were set to resume in 1947.

PyreneButyric Acid.

Peripheral Bus Computer.

Processor Bus Controller.

PBCC, pbcc
Palm Beach Community College.


Portable Breathing Equipment.

Plastic Ball Grid Array. Click on this search for images.

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Set up by the US Congress in 1974 to insure defined-benefit corporate pensions. (It was part of an act dubbed ERISA; see EBSA for details.)

PBGC is meant to take over the operation of a corporate pension whenever the corporation fails. Corporations that run pensions are required by law to have pension funds that can't be looted by the company to make up business shortfalls. (It's not like the Social Security Administration, whose funds consist of the federal government's promise to pay back the money it took from FICA contributions.)

When the PBGC takes over a pension, it takes over the pension fund's assets but not, by law, its entire obligations. It's like federal deposit insurance, which protects deposits up to a certain amount, but determining the coverage is much more complicated. So the PBGC typically covers some of the shortfall from its own budget, but much of the shortfall is made up simply by reducing benefits.

Who gives up how much is a complicated calculation based on a variety of rules. The rules generally favor older workers. As of 2009, for example, the maximum benefit is $54,000 for a retiree aged 65 or over, $42,660 for a 62-year-old, and $24,300 for a 55-year-old. One doesn't automatically receive the maximum if one's defined benefit under the defunct pension exceeded it. The rules contain ``tripwires'' and cut-offs that can leave workers with similar work histories at the same company receiving very different benefits.

Private Banking Group, Luxembourg. ``[A] group [see this brochure] of members of the Luxembourg Bankers' Association (ABBL) that specialises in private banking.''

Parental Bonding Index.

Producto Bruto Inter{ior|no}. Either way, it's Spanish for `GDP.' ``PIB'' is more common.

Protein-Bound Iodine.

Peanut Butter and Jelly. You can actually buy jars of premixed PB&J, ready to spread.

Poly-Buffered LOCOS. A polysilicon layer between the pad oxide and the nitride absorbs the stress produced by field oxidation (i.e., by the expansion of the layer oxidized into field oxide).

Problem-Based Learning. In practice, not distinguished from CL.

Play By Mail.

PBM, .pbm
Portable BitMap. An image format: MIME-type image/x-portable-bitmap.

Poskanzer Portable BitMap (graphics format).

Poly ButylMethAcrylate.

PeroxyButryl Nitride. One of the peroxyacyl nitrates (PANs, q.v.) found in the atmosphere.

Nice deceptive acronym for PlaceBO. For some disorders, this is almost as effective as other, more expensive treatments. Expect your HMO to get right on the case.

People's Bank Of China. The PRC's central bank.

p-BromPhenol. The p stands for the para position of the benzene ring, indicating where the bromine is bonded.

Particle-Bed Reactor. A nuclear reactor whose fuel elements are in the form of small particles. See the related PBR.

Pabst Blue Ribbon (beer). I think that some time in the nineteenth century, or maybe it was during the nineteenth dynasty (the Egyptians claim they invented beer), Pabst won a blue ribbon for one of its beers. Ever since, they've been milking that award for publicity. I would want to know more about the ribbon accrediting agency. I mean -- even I've won blue ribbons! There are stores that specialize in trophies and awards (see ARA). It's all tinsel.

Pebble-Bed Reactor. A nuclear reactor whose fuel elements are in the form of small pebble-size pieces. A similar reactor with smaller fuel elements is a Particle-Bed Reactor. If you want to distinguish the two, the standard initialisms won't help. Both PBR designs were proposed for space missions. I'm not sure if any have been put into service.

Pilling-Bedworth Ratio.

Peoria Botanical Society. A section of the Peoria Academy of Science (PAS). To judge by web salience (ghits, actually) it's either moribund or hiding behind another name than that by which the PAS knows it.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Part of the Australian government's federal health care system, called Medicare.

Public Broadcasting Service. Also ''... System.'' A US propaganda organization that is corrupting the morals of our nation's ... elderly?

According to an article in the January 16, 2001, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, PBS is trying to broaden its audience base. PBS president Pat Mitchell said the member stations were worried about the aging PBS audience. The average age of the PBS viewer was 56. I suspect that distribution is bimodal: a majority of the top ten children's programs are on PBS, and they start to lose those viewers around age six. When you subtract out the audience for Sesame Street and such, the average age was more like 65. Okay, more precision: according to Ron Santora, director of programming for Buffalo's Channel 17, the average age was 56.4 (quoted in the hometown paper that March).

Actually, PBS is used to this sort of audience. What worries them is that they used to pick up viewers as they aged, but they're not pulling in successive generations as they used to. Still, from the few publicly available figures, it looks like they made big progress in 2001. According to data gathered during the Nielsen sweeps in November 2001, the median age of PBS viewers was all the way down to 55. I'm not really sure how comparable this number is with the previous one, since it wasn't clear where the earlier one came from. It ought to be comparable with the other Nielsen numbers, however: 51 for CBS, 46 for NBC, 45 for ABC and 39 for Fox.

In Spring 2002, Maryland Public Television had an unseemly public separation from 69-year-old Louis Rukeyser, the long-time host of its program Wall $treet Week (he quit and then was fired, if I understood correctly). During the dispute, MPT noted that the average age of the Fortune reader was 49, while most of the show's viewers were over 60.

It is a fine irony that PBS might be choosing the least opportune moment to condescend in age. Since PBS was created, it has seen its mission as providing ``diversity'' in programming. Yes, they were using that very word -- before it was fashionable, even before the Bakke decision. PBS tried to serve various small audiences, such as thinking people, that were ignored by the major networks. When cable came, it spawned a large number of new networks that targeted various niche markets that only PBS had served before. So PBS, like the commercial networks, lost market share to cable. But some of the networks that ate PBS's lunch (or dinner and prime-time, rather) found it less tasty than they expected. TNN, though it did not start as a cable network, was originally aimed at one of the larger niches underserved by ABC/CBS/NBC. With its devolution into Spike TV, ``the first network for men,'' any threat it may have represented to PBS market share has pretty much vanished into the ether. At the same time that PBS has been moving to attract younger audiences, A&E and the Discovery Channels have been doing the same thing. PBS might do well to let its competition go away instead of chasing it.

PBS receives public funding via CPB, q.v., but this covers a shrinking fraction of its expenditures. One of the distinctive features of public television in the US is the twice-or-more-yearly begathons. You know, I hate to interrupt the glossary, but all of you understand what a valuable service we provide, and you know this kind of quality doesn't come free. All of this information is supported by contributions from savvy internet surfers like you. Please call the number at the bottom of your screen now and make a pledge. We have celebrities standing by to receive your calls. Look, they're all celebrities. Beverly Sills and Josh Groban aren't able to take all of your calls, so if your call is answered by Ashley or Britney or Christina or Lindsay, please don't hang up and call again! If you call now, you will receive a tasteful and attractive WSBF extra-large diaper tote! Please call within the next 18 minutes, as we have a generous challenge grant: every dollar you pledge will be matched by an anonymous donor!

Another traditional source of PBS funding is corporate sponsorships. This started out as a fairly reserved PR thing, with Texaco or some other munificence covering an entire series of shows about some environment somewhere, subtly demonstrating Texaco's commitment to the existence of an environment. That well of money has been steadily drying up, and in the 1990's public television really started to explore the quid-pro-quo and bald-advertising reaches of ``sponsorship.'' You see a lot more Britcoms sponsored by local furniture stores these days.


Papers of the British School at Rome.

Permeable-Base Transistor. One kind of gridded-base transistor. Another is the static induction transistor (SIT).

PolyButylene Terephthalate. A polyester.

Plastic Bonded eXplosive[s].

[Phone icon]

Private Branch [telephone] eXchange. A local telephone network in which internal telephone calls don't go through the end office. You know: dial ``9'' to get out.


Paramagnetic Center[s].

Parity Check. If this expansion of PC didn't have to do with encoding of electronic communications, it might have to do with human communications, because political correctness (PC) is largely about establishing formal parity.

ParseC. The distance represented by one arc second of parallax on a baseline of one astronomical unit (not two, as you might expect). In other words, 1 a.u. = sin(1'') pc, or 1 pc = 206264.81 a.u. ~= 3.26 light year (ly). The continued popularity of units like this demonstrates the hypocrisy of some vocal scientists' insistence on metric conversion.

Parti Communiste.

Patres Conscripti. Literally `fathers on the register' in Latin, but the abbreviation was used specifically to mean `members of the Senate.' For an example, see the Apocolocyntosis, sec. ix, where Zeus is imagined as presiding over an Olympus modeled on the Roman Senate. Apocolocyntosis (see Great Pumpkin) is attributed to Seneca. The uncertainty of the attribution is not surprising. It would have been prudent, as the work ridiculed and condemned the not-long-enough-deceased emperor Claudius.

Pension Coordinator.

PeriCynthion. Don't just sit there with your mouse agape -- follow the link!

Personal Computer. I also found this expansion in a French dictionary: Personal Computer. I wonder how that's pronounced.

Personal Communication.

Phase Conjugat{ion|e}.

Phase Contrast.

Philosophical Counseling. Just the thing for people whose emotional problems are due to a philosophical misunderstanding. They mean it: this is a growing racket.

PhosphatidylCholine. Also abbreviated PtdCho.


Photonic Crystal. In practice: a periodic variation in dielectric constant, produced by a superlattice or superlattice array.

pc., pc
PieCe. Traditional abbreviation uses period. Often used without period by packagers and shippers. Plural pcs. and pcs. (You know what I mean.)

Pigeon Cluster. The breakthrough technology that is the basis of the Google search engine page-ranking (PigeonRank [tm]).

Pitch Class. A term used in music set theory to designate all pitches having the same name, and their enharmonic equivalents. That is, from an ordinary mathematical point of view, simply the equivalence class of pitches under the equivalence relation defined by mod-twelve addition in a twelve-tone scale. The pitch class C consists of all C's -- middle C and all pitches that have frequency 2Nn times the frequency of middle C, where n is an integer.

Polarization Controller. A device within a waveguide laser, but it does sound like the PC police.

{Politically Correct | Political Correctness}.

``For us, too, `PC' no longer stands just for Police Constable, postcard, Privy Counsellor or even personal computer, but also and above all for political correctness - a term which, whatever its polemical use and abuse, concerns a cluster of issues around codes of civility and censorship both verbal and behavioural.''

[column] The preceding quote is dredged from page 19 of Pedagogy and Power: Rhetorics of Classical Learning, a collection of essays including some gems of aggressively bad writing. The particular essay quoted is Chapter 1: ``Classics: from discipline in crisis to (multi-)cultural capital.'' The author, Paul Cartledge, thanks ``our extraordinarily conscientious and vigilant editors.'' Those editors, Yun Lee Too and Niall Livingstone, have allowed him to clot his prose with conjunctions like ``despite - or because of? -'' and parentheticals like ``(everything going wrong - or moment of decision).'' If you have a term paper due tomorrow, borrow from this. No one will ever guess that the callow, stilted prose you plagiarize would ever (1998) have been published by Cambridge University Press. (Be careful, though: it's not utterly dreadful.)

This isn't PC. If you wanted some thoughts on political correctness, you should have gone to the Retarded entry.

PolyCarbonate. A set of related plastics with monomer unit -R-O-COO-. Optical quality grades (OQ) used in compact discs and contact lenses. Wear-resistant (WR) grades used for keyboard frames, swivel bases, paper drives and printers. San Diego Plastics, Inc. serves a short page of application-oriented information on polycarbonate. GE's trademark (TM) for PC is Lexan.

Polycarbonate may or may not be ``UV-stabilized.'' The unstable PC can be recognized because it fluoresces under UV light.

There's an informative PC entry in the Macrogalleria.

Post Cibum. Latin, `after meal.'

Printed Circuit.

Priority Control.

Privy Council. Despite comments quoted at an earlier PC entry, we figured we ought to have this entry here for historical reasons. Don't forget to be uninformed at the PCO entry as well!

Professional Corporation.

Program Counter.

Progressive Conservative. Canadian political party -- the Tories.

Protocol Control.

Patient-Controlled Analgesia.

This isn't a new concept. One bourbon, one scotch, and one be-eer.


Pennsylvania Classical Association.

Personal Care { Aide | Attendant }. New improved name for a nursing assistant (a/k/a nurse's aide), but not as new and improved as PCP.

Poodle Club of America, Inc. We proudly serve a preposterously trimmed poodles entry.

Porsche Club of America. The Porsche -- another German creation that runs like a pup. The famous engineer Porsche also created the original beetle, for which we do have an entry.

The Presbyterian Church in America. ``The Presbyterian Church in America is a new denomination, founded in 1973,'' founded out of a felt ``need for a scriptural, evangelical, and reformed witness for Christ.'' (``Reformed means we believe that salvation is God's action alone.'')

Principal Component[s] Analysis.

Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association.

Personal Computer Acquisition Contracts. Refers to a specialized sort of ``Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ)'' contracts (sound more like options to buy) used by NASA.

Pacific Coast Association of Prelaw Advisors. Similar organizations are listed at the SWAPLA entry.

Partially Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Scattering (CARS).

President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology. Provides public-sector input to science advice received by President.

Pharmacy College Admission Test.

Panama City Beach, Florida.

PolyChlorinated Biphenyl[s]. A liquid that was a very popular electric insulator (``askarel insulation'') used in transformers from the 1920's until 1977, when the EPA outlawed its use in the US, with the declaration that PCB's are probable carcinogens and (definitely) cause liver and nervous-system damage. A bacterial degradation path from PCB's goes via CBA's.

Printed Circuit Board. A circuit built on a board with interconnections made by the prior etching of a metallic cladding layer (on one or both sides). [Word of advice: in drilling through the board, drill from the non-copper-clad side if at all possible. Copper is a soft metal which tends to deform and form sticky burrs when drilled or machined. Burrs can imbed on the inside surface of a drilled hole and cause arcing (arcking?) at high voltage.]

Printed Circuit Board Assembly.

PC Bone
I can't lie to you... it's just the name for that ubiquitous shade of beige.

Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. Also ``Palestinian CBS.''


Panama Canal Commission.

Peru-Chile Current. Despite the name, it flows northward along the coast (i.e., past Chile first).

Presidents' Conference Committee. A committee made up of representatives from various North American transit operators. It met in the mid-1930s and produced a design for a modernized streetcar. PCC cars were manufactured from 1936 until 1952 and the design became the basis for most North American streetcars. There are still a few in regular service today. If this glossary is still providing infotainment long after 2003, then I suppose ``today'' will eventually be incorrect in the previous sentence.

You're probably wondering, ``what is a `streetcar'? Is it the opposite of an off-the-road vehicle?'' For possible enlightenment, see the TTC entry.

Primeiro Comando da Capital. `First Capital Command.' An murderous Brazilian gang that since May 2006 has challenged the municipal government for control of São Paolo.

Pyridinium ChloroChromate. One of the two chemicals known as Corey's reagent. The other is dimethylsulfoxonium methylide.

Phase-Change Drive.

PhotoConductive Decay.

Photon-induced Chemical Dry Etching. (With really intense energetic photons, you can do dry etching without chemicals, but that's called ablation.)

Something very like CP/M, developed by Microsoft for the IBM PC. Compare MS-DOS.

Partido Communista de España. `Communist Party of Spain.' Founded by members who left the socialist party (PSOE).

Personal Consumption Expenditures.

PolyChromatic Erythrocyte. An etymological oxymoron: multi-colored red (blood) cell. Cf. the barbaric NCE.

Pre-Conference Event.

Present Company { Excluded | Excepted }. Often a synonym for ``Oops!'' after the making of an impolitic generalization in the presence of one of its instantiations.

Parti Communiste Français.

Point Coordination Function.

PreConditioned Gradient (numerical method).

PreConditioned Gradient Method.

Professional Coin Grading Service.

Pacific Coast Highway. All or part of California state route 1, and parts of US 101.

For most of its length CA 1 is the highway closest to the coast. It's scenic in the undeveloped parts. (There are still some undeveloped parts as of this writing, April 8, 2002, 12:40 PDT.) Its southern terminus is just south of San Juan Capistrano (roughly halfway between San Diego and Los Angeles), where I-5 (which hugs the coast to the south) moves inland and CA 1 continues along the coast. Officially (according to Section 635 of the California Street and Highway Code), the PCH is the part of CA 1 from there to a northern terminus near Ventura, fifty miles up the coast past LA, where CA 1 ends at US 101.

In the most expansive popular usage, PCH is all of CA 1 plus US 101 in those parts of California, Oregon, and Washington where there is no California state route 1. One widespread usage defines the PCH as all of CA 1 (whose northern terminus is at Leggett, where it joins US 101) plus any pieces of US 101 needed to get between the southern and northern termini.

PChem, P-Chem
Physical CHEMistry. Difficult fundamental course material that chemistry majors are required to take, typically in the junior or senior year. Pronounced ``PEE kem.'' (You are invited to admire my fortitude in not commenting further.) Inspired the bumper sticker:

Honk if you passed P-Chem!

In my experience, PChem course is fairly unchallenging compared to any real course covering any single topic -- thermodynamics, kinetic theory, quantum mechanics -- included in a typical year of PChem. However, the material is wide-ranging, and it is qualitatively different from and much more mathematical than that in most other courses taken by chemistry and chemical engineering majors. If the material interests you, get the necessary math preparation and then take a specific course on the material -- it'll be more beautiful and satisfying, and make more sense.

See also EMag.

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.

Pavement Conditions Index. Cf. PSI.

Percutaneous Coronary Intervention.

Periodicals Contents Index. A searchable electronic database for the contents of thousands of periodicals in the humanities and social sciences, from their first issues (as far back as 1770) to 1995. PCI's scope is world-wide and includes journals in English, German, Italian, French, Spanish and other Western languages. It's a by-subscription service from the same company that offers LION.

Peripheral Component Interconnect. A self-configuring personal-computer local bus, 32 bits wide, designed by Intel also used by Motorola processors. FOLDOC has an entry.

Phase-Conjugate Interferometry.

Programmable Communication Interface.

Protocol Control Information.

ProvinCIA. Abbreviation for the Spanish word meaning `province.'

Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) Local Bus Specification.

Planning Commissioners Journal.

Printer Control Language. Also expanded Printer Command Language.

There's an old saying: ``A mickle, a pickle.'' Most people don't remember what a mickle is, or even a muckle. Me neither. Let me know after you look it up. Maybe check here.

PCL is the document description language developed by Hewlett-Packard (HP) for its Laserjet series of laser printers. Compare PostScript.

Phase-Change Memory. Not the memory of an ordinary phase change, like freezing or anything. PCM is probably for something more memorable, like cholesteric-to-blue-phase, or the liquid-gas transition followed to the critical point, or... Hmmm, okay, it's not any of that. PCM is just a kind of solid-state memory more commonly called PCRAM, q.v.

Phase-Conjugate Mirror. Generates phase-conjugate reflection of incident light. Used in PCI.

Primary Care Manager. Hey, why pay for a physician to decide on medical expenditures when a social worker with no understanding of medicine can make more cost-effective decisions for less pay?

Pulse-Code Modulation.

Not the most important thing to say about PCM, but of concern to me right now, is that it's the most common storage method for wave files (*.WAV) on the Windows platform.

Personal Computer Memory Card International Association. Tiny (credit-card size) expansion boards for computers. They have 68-pin connectors and come in three different thicknesses, up to 1 cm for a hard drive. Used most in laptops.

Here's a description from whatis.com.

  1. People Can't Master Computer Industry Acronyms.
  2. People Can't Memorize Computer Industry Acronyms.
Folk expansions for PCMCIA supra.

Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison.

Pseudo Current Mode Logic (CML). As CML is a synonym of Emitter-Coupled Logic (ECL), PCML is the same as PECL (q.v. for explanation).

Personal Communication[s] Network.

Personal Consumption Outlays.

Pest Control Operator. There's a service finder engine here, but I don't think they can help you with your brother-in-law problems.

Point of Control and Observation.

PolyCystic Ovaries. Same as PCOD, infra.

Privy Council Office. I don't know what it is, but the Canadian Prime Minister has one. Sounds like a large executive washroom.

Procuring Contracting Officer.

PolyCystic Ovarian Disease. ``Stein-Leventhal Syndrome.'' Same as PCOS, infra.

PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome. Also called ``Stein-Leventhal Syndrome,'' for the two who first identified it in 1905. Well finally, a link!

Partial Pressure of CO2.

Personal Care Professional. New improved name for a nursing assistant (a/k/a nurse's aide). There's no systematic distinction between PCP and PCA, so far as I can tell in South Bend, Indiana, in 2005. Each of the major local hospitals uses only one of the terms.

PCP is probably the less accurate term, since nursing assistants are low-skilled workers. On the other hand, since the 1970's in the US, a few causes have led to shifts in health-care responsibilities: a shortage of doctors in general practice, a severe shortage of nurses, and demands for accountability arising from growth in the fraction of health care paid by some form of insurance. Some routine diagnostic and prescription tasks that once were the sole bailiwick of physicians are now often performed by registered nurses, and various routine nursing duties are performed largely by nursing assistants. (In the hazy, almost prehistoric, past, I seem to recall that they were called orderlies.) The market for medical care has many dimensions, and the profile of labor shortages should be noted: an aging population, smaller families, and a higher labor-force participation of the daughters who historically cared for parents have all led to a need for long-term maintenance care. In the US as in Europe, a large fraction of this care is provided by immigrants from LDE's.

The principal charm of the initialism PCP is that it is also used for the drug of abuse known as ``angel dust.'' This would be a good place to note something else connecting drug abuse and nursing, probably related to the fact that the latter offers opportunities, some dangerous to patients, for the former. In Indiana and probably every other place in the US, the state may refuse to allow someone convicted of a drug felony from taking the state boards -- i.e., prevent that person from becoming a registered nurse.

PhenCyclidine. A veterinary anesthetic. Illegally used (schedule III) as a hallucinogen, it has the reputation of making users violent. AKA ``angel dust.''

Here's what the government thinks. I have no idea what the second P stands for, but we have enough PC expansions, so I don't mind if they just threw it in for disambiguation.

Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia. An opportunistic secondary infection common among those with compromised or weak immune systems -- principally AIDS sufferers, but also those taking immunosuppressive drugs in conjunction with a transplant, the very young and very old.

Primary Care Physician. Also `Principal Care Physician.' In HMO's, the PCP serves as a ``gatekeeper'' regulating access to specialists. Increasingly, PCP's serve a similar function even in PPO's. Cf. PCM.

But worse: compare PCP. I've seen many a bloody namespace collision in my time. In German it's called a Namenskonflikt (namespace is Namensraum). If German were a little more colorful here, we could call PCP a medizinische Namensmassenkarambolage.

(Canada) Pest Control Products Act.


Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society. Journal catalogued by TOCS-IN.

According to a Classics-list posting by the generally reliable Laval Hunsucker, there was an article by Sydney Goldstein entitled Mathieu functions in the Transactions of the Cambridge Philological Society. Hmmm. It turns out that the Cambridge Philological Society did once publish a Transactions, although the Goldstein article appeared in the Transactions of the Cambridge PhiloSOPHICAL Society.

Palestinian Center for Public Opinion. A polling organization founded in 1994. The other major Palestinian polling organization is PSR.

Elections are one of the few hard tests of the accuracy of polling, because there are official results for comparison. The PCPO had such a test in 2006 and did quite poorly overall. A few things may be said in its defense, but they require context...

In order to provide that context, I'm writing an analysis of the 2006 PLC election, complete with irrelevant tangents. I haven't finished it, but it's holding up other material on this page, so I'm publishing it incomplete now and blaming the Israelis for any problems that may arise. By the time it's finished, I'll have settled on a single name to use to refer to district/first-past-the-post/winner-take-all/British-parliament-style voting.

The Palestinian Legislative Council is essentially the Palestinian Authority's parliament. The first PLC elections, in 1996, were conducted on a constituency basis (district voting, ``first past the post''). The 2006 elections were held under a new election law passed by the PLC on June 18, 2005. (Details for both systems here. Each used 16 districts. The first PLC had 88 seats. After proving his democratic bona fides with the 1996 election, chairman Arafat let the elections thing kinda slide.) The 2006 elections implemented a mixed system: some seats determined by district-voting for individuals, and some by voting for lists (i.e., proportional representation).

In the case of the 133-member PLC elected in 2006, 66 seats were filled on a constituency basis and 66 by proportional representation. (I think the remaining seat is that of the President.) Ahead of the elections, it was widely supposed that Fatah would retain the largest share of seats and that Hamas would place second. PCPO conducted a careful poll of 2389 Palestinian adults from January 18 to 21 to determine which lists they would support in the PR vote. Out of 11 lists, the following six had the largest support:

				Fatah: 39.6%
				Hamas: 28.8%
	        Independent Palestine:  7.7%
		    	    Al Badeel:  7.2%
				 PFLP:  4.9%
			    Third Way:  4.7%
The polling was arranged to make the secrecy of the poll apparent: voters in the survey marked a ballot and deposited it in a kind of vote box. Of the ballots deposited, 3.3% were unmarked. Some notes on the lists:

The election took place on January 25, and it soon became clear that Hamas had won an overwhelming victory. This suggested that pre-election polling had been wildly wrong, but it exaggerates the error. Here are the final results:

seats    seats by    total
by PR    district    seats   Grouping

 29         45         74    Hamas
 28         17         45    Fatah
  3          0          3    PFLP
  2          0          2    Third Way
  2          0          2    Al Badeel
  2          0          2    Independent Palestine
  0          4          4   (independent candidates)
 66         66        132   Total

Preliminary estimates of the election commission (CEC), based on 95% of the vote, originally gave Hamas 76 seats and Fatah 43. Final results reassigned one list seat, and one district seat in Khan Younis. Interestingly, 14 of those elected to the PLC were in jails of the IOF, including the top candidate of Fatah list -- Marwan al-Barghouthi, a West Bank Fatah leader serving five life sentences. Evidently, in Palestinian elections harrowing the flesh of Isaelis is a viable alternative to pressing the flesh of Palestinians. (Another was reportedly in a Palestinian jail guarded by US and UK personnel. Perhaps this report was garbled.)

It is apparent that Hamas did exceedingly well in district voting, while Fatah and Hamas did comparably in PR voting. PCPO concentrated on polling for the PR vote, and hence missed Hamas's greatest strength in the election. (I won't comment much on the smaller parties: the sample was clearly too small to measure their strengths accurately.)

An interesting question that I haven't seen adequately addressed is why Hamas did so much better in district voting than in the PR vote. A possible answer, or band of culprits, was shouted in street demonstrations after Fatah's defeat: Fatah party members who ran as independents in the district voting. Fatah's Revolutionary Council had adopted a resolution the previous November 7 that barred Fatah party members from running as independents in the district voting. Two days after the election, PNA president and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas expelled six party members for nominating themselves as independent candidates. I'm relying on English translations of Arabic press reports, and the inconsistent patterns of transliteration pose a problem in identifying candidates on the CEC lists. I only found three of the expelled members on the lists of final returns. Possibilities for the other three include having nominated themselves but failed to get on the ballot and having names that are highly fungible under transliteration. Here are the three I could track down, in decreasing order of significance (more like increasing order of insignificance):

  1. Ahmed al-Deek ran in district 7 (Salfit), where 11 candidates (one from each list) competed for one seat. Al-Deek ran third in a relatively tight race. The winner, for Hamas, had 6762 votes, and the Fatah candidate, in second place, had 5632. It is certainly plausible that al-Deek, with 4957 votes, prevented Fatah from winning that seat. List voting for the district was concentrated in the two top vote-getters: Hamas drew 35.41% and Fatah 34.35%, while no other list won more than 6.9%. The direct voting, by contrast, was concentrated among the top three candidates, who drew 32.10%, 26.74%, and 23.53%. The Hamas candidate underperformed relative to his list by a margin of 3.3%, but the Fatah candidate underperformed by 7.6%. (It should be noted, though, that Fatah district candidates as a whole underperformed relative to their list.)
  2. Fayez Zaidan ran in district 5 (Nablus), where 30 candidates competed for 6 seats. Zaidan ran 23rd and won 2290 votes. The margin of votes separating the sixth-place candidate (for Hamas) and the seventh-place candidate (Fatah) was 1480, so it's conceivable that, had he not run, Fatah might have won another seat. To argue that, however, we must imagine that some voters disposed to vote for Fatah voted for Zaidan rather than a non-independent Fatah candidate. It seems likely, however, that his popularity with such voters would have drawn strength from the four weaker Fatah candidates (ranging down to twelfth place) rather than from the best-performing loser. (In each district, each voter could cast at most one vote per candidate for up to n candidates, where n was the number of district-selected seats alloted to the district.) With so many candidates and such a muddy distribution of votes, the best guess is that Zaidan had no effect on the final result.
  3. Burhan Jarrar ran in district 2 (Jenin), where 32 candidates competed for 4 seats. Jarrar also ran 23rd, and he won 2040 votes. If those votes are added to the votes of the other Fatah candidates, then the most that changes, depending on how the votes are distributed, is which two of the four Fatah candidates win seats.

District voting, at least for districts selecting a single candidate, is also called ``winner take all'' voting. This points to one obvious explanation for Fatah's relative weakness in the district voting: a slight Hamas advantage, distributed evenly over various districts, was amplified by the nonlinear winner-take-all function (a very real function of too many variables). There are reasons why some nuts advocate proportional representation. But first, let's analyze one of the extreme districts.

In district 13 (Gaza [city area]), 49 candidates ran for 8 seats. This was the district in which Hamas had its best list showing -- 56.72%. It only ran five non-list candidates, and these won the top five slots. There are small technical difficulties in assessing the performance of candidates relative to their lists, as the following numbers may indicate. Out of 174,379 registered voters, 136,551 (78.31%) showed up and voted. Each received two ballots: one to cast for one of the 11 lists, and one on which to select up to eight individual candidates. A tiny percentage (0.53%, 719 total)) of the individual-candidate ballots were blank, and 3.00% (4097 ballots) were invalid.

The remaining 131,735 ballots (at 96.47% the highest percentage of valid nonblank ballots among the districts) contained a total of 977,959 votes for individual candidates, for an average of 7.42 votes per ballot. Right away, you realize there wasn't a lot of ``bullet voting.'' (I ought to make a joke here. Ha-ha.) I've decided to regard 131,735 as the highest number of votes that a candidate could win. Note, however, that 131,894 votes were cast for lists. For Gaza, this is a 0.1% difference, but for other districts it is typically 1-2%, and as much as 2.5% for district 1 (Jerusalem). In most districts, not every list fielded individual candidates, so one could argue that using a number like 131,735 (valid nonblank constituency ballots) inflates candidates' percentages by discounting the abstentions of voters who didn't have a candidate of their list to vote for, but this doesn't account for all of the blank votes. (For Salfit, discussed above, I used the total number of votes published for all candidates -- 21,066 -- yet the total number of nonblank valid ballots for candidates was reported as 21,310 by the CEC, and it's not apparent how to reconcile the discrepancy. Maybe it was write-ins.)

Using the denominator not justified in the preceding paragraph (131,735), we find that the top five candidates (all Hamas) won from 57.6% to 53.0% of the maximum of votes they could have won, comparable to their list's performance. The next three candidates (all independents) had from 47.9% to 41.7%. The eight Fatah candidates placed 9 to 16, ranking as well as they could without winning any seats. (Actually ranking almost as well as they could without winning seats. One seat was reserved for a Christian, and if the top Christian candidate had not placed in the top eight, Fatah could have had a candidate place eighth and still not win a seat.) The Fatah candidates won from 33.8% to 25.6% of maximum, whereas the Fatah list won 36.64% of list votes in the district. So in Gaza, individual Fatah candidates were 3 to 11 points less popular than their list, while Hamas candidates were no more than 4% less popular. (One might guess that partisans of other parties preferentially settled for Hamas candidates, or that fans of independent candidates preferentially chose Fatah in list voting. It would be hard to tell from these data alone.)


PCPhS. Vide supra.

Peak Cell Rate.

Polymerase Chain Reaction. Here's Perkin Elmer's starting page.

Program Clock Reference.

Phase-Change Random Access Memory. A kind of nonvolatile RAM currently (2008) being researched in which the thermodynamic state of a small region of material encodes a bit. More specifically, the ``phase-change material'' (such as GeSbTe) is toggled between a semimetallic crystalline state and a semiconducting amorphous state. Readout depends on the resistivity difference: the resistivity of amorphous GeSbTe is at least two orders of magnitude greater than the resistivity, below 1 ohm-cm, of the crystalline material.

Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine. By ``resonsible medicine'' they mean health care that promotes vegetarianism. This is different from modern medical research, which promotes skipping the animal model stages in drug testing, and risking humans first. That would be the MRMC's goal.

Personal Communication[s] Service[s]. Designates the wireless systems in development for a receive band of 1.93-to-1.99 GHz band, with 200 kHz channel spacing. Distinguished from old-style cellular first by the fact that it's digital. Intended initially for more urban (microcellular) environments; uses smaller instruments than, and is supposed to be cheaper than, [analog] cellular. Cf. next entry.

PCS-1900, as it's also called (from the band) is GSM-compliant. It is one of two systems (the other is D-AMPS) in widespread US use.

Personal Communication { System | Service }. The CDMA (non-GSM) system developed by Qualcomm currently dominates digital cellular/PCS services in North America. Cf. previous entry.

pcs., pcs
PieCeS. Plurals of pc. and pc, resp.

Plastic Coding System. Of the Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc. created to classify plastic containers for recycling.

If this doesn't some familiar, visit the plastics section of Recycler's World.

Professional Communication Society of the IEEE. ``...to help engineers and technical communicators develop skills in written and oral presentation.'' Sponsors the IPCC.

Public Charter School.

Pet Care Services Association. Previously known as the ABKA.

Personal Communication Service in 1.9 GHz band.

Parity, Charge conjugation, Time-reversal. It is a fundamental theorem of all credible fundamental theories of matter that all particle states are invariant under the composition of these three symmetry transformations. See R. F. Streater and A. S. Wightman: PCT, Spin and Statistics, and All That, (New York: Benjamin, 1964).


PolyCyclohexyl Terephthalate.

PostCoital Test. This is not a pregnancy test, but a microscopic examination of cervical mucus to determine various dimensions of mucus-sperm compatibility.

PC Text-Assist.

Portable Common Tool Environment. I don't understand this, and I don't have to. If you have to, there's help from FOLDOC.

Per-Call Test Failures.

Poly(ChloroTriFluoroEthylene). A/k/a chlorotrifluoroethylene [plastic], abbreviated CTFE.

Performance Criteria / Test Standard.

Posix Conformance Test Suite.

Partido Comunista de las Tierras Vascas. Spanish, `Communist Party of the Basque Lands.'

Piezoelectric, Continuously Twisted, Structurally Chiral Medium.

Passenger-Car equivalent Unit[s].

Petra Christian University. In Surabaya, Indonesia's second-largest city.

Passenger-Car equivalent Unit KiloMeter[s].

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

(United States) Peace Corps Volunteer.

Plano-ConcaVe (lens). A lens with one flat and one inward-curving face and a negative focal length, used to reduce an image or as a dispersing lens (i.e., to spread a light beam). Cf. PCX, DCV.

Positive Crankcase Ventilation. One-way exhaust of crankcase, achieved through PCV valve.

Point-to-point Switched Virtual Connections.

PC Week
``The national newspaper of corporate computing,'' they bill themselves. Homepage looks like a whole magazine.

PiCture eXchange. File extension and graphics format.

Plano-ConveX (lens). A lens with one flat and one outward-curving face and a positive focal length, used to magnify an image or as a condensing lens (i.e., to concentrate a light beam). Cf. PCX, DCX.

Processor-Cache CROSSbar. These items are directional; a PCX controls data flow from a processor to a cache; the other direction is handled by a CPX.

Please Configure Your Mailer To Not Quote Raw Email Addresses In Your Replies.

Packet Driver.

Packetization Delay.

PallaDium. Atomic number? Yeah, it's got one. You want to know what it is? I'm not sure you're allowed to know that. Oh, you know the big guy, eh? Forty-six -- no more, no less.

Learn more without as much pain as pulling teeth at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.

Palladium is one of the platinum group metals. Palladium was discovered about the time the asteroid Pallas was discovered. Whoop-de-do!

Panic Disorder[s].

Perphenazine Decanoate. Used to treat schizophrenia.

Personality Disorder[s]. Tell me about it!

Phase Detection.

PhotoDesorption. Light-induced desorption.



Physical Disability, Physically Disabled.

Planar-Doped. Without the hyphen, you could think of ``planar'' here as an adverb with form identical to the adjective's.

Police Department. Productive suffix (e.g., NYPD).

Post Datum. Latin, `after what is given.' Used to introduce added comments in a letter, following the signature. Equivalent to P.S., but P.D. is much more common in Spanish-language correspondence.

Professional Diploma. This is a sort of interstitial degree commonly awarded in education. (You can understand that the Education field, dominated by government employers, likes to have things be nice and official. See, for example, this CRU entry.)

At Teachers College (TC), the PD represents something between a Masters (M.Ed.) and a doctorate (see Ed.D.). As such, I suppose you could think of it as an official ABD. I'm sure it stands for different levels of accomplishment (even of ostensible accomplishment) at different institutions.

(Broadcast) Programming Director.

Protocol Discriminator.

Public Domain.

Pupillary Distance. The center-to-center distance between the pupils. For most adults the PD in between 55 and 65 mm.

When prescriptions give two PD numbers, they may be the distances between the bridge of the nose and the right and left eyes (in that order), so 32/30.5 implies that the PD in the usual sense is 62.5 mm. You know, the fish called flounder start out life fairly symmetric and upright. As the fish matures and lists to one side, the eye on the lower side shifts forward.

When two PD numbers are given and they are each around 60 mm, it probably means that you have a swelled head. Oh wait, there's another possibility: it could be the the distance PD and the reading PD. As you focus on things that are closer up, your eyes cross and the PD decreases. A typical reading distance is 33 cm, so if your distance PD is 60 mm, each of your eyes turns inward by about 5 degrees when reading. If the distance from the center of your eye to the center of its pupil is, say, 1.5 cm, then reading PD is 2 or 3 mm less than distance PD.

Personal Digital Assistant. Here's a bit from whatis.com.


Public Display[s] of Affection. This is typically performed by what may be reasonably described as mutual very highly personal digital assistants.

Public Displays of Alcohol[ism]. A useful term in the early 90's, at damage assessment and control meetings for Beverly Hills 90201. (The early 90's were the Brenda years -- Shannen Doherty played Brenda Walsh, 1990-1994.)

Does she qualify as ``family friendly''? Shannen Doherty was the fourth ever Republican Babe of the Week. This achievement, or whatever, is recognized by the <JerseyGOP.com> website. The weekly feature is not precisely dated, but I estimate that she won the honor at the beginning of 2003, so I guess her public standing, if not her career, has been rehabilitated. There doesn't seem to be a corresponding Democratic site, but I believe there may be one or two nonpartisan weekly babe sites on the web. It is hard to sort through all the hits if you search too broadly on "babe" and "party".

A search for physics babes turned up a lot of hits for the Department of Theoretical Physics, Babes-Bolyai.

Perianal Disease Activity Index. Ever since I decided against becoming a gastroenterologist or a proctologist, I've never looked back.


Planar-Doped Barrier. As in ``PDB diode,'' and ``PDB transistor.''

Protein DataBank.

Participatory Design Conference. First held in 1990. Biennial.

Partido Democrático Cristiano. The largest political party in Chile, part of the dominant Concertación.

Personal Digital Cellular. A digital cellular standard developed in Japan for use in 800 MHz and 1.5 GHz bands.

Primary Domain Controller. Used in NTFS for Windows NT.

Processing and Distribution Center. Most nonlocal mail sent in the US goes unsorted to a P&DC, also called a ``sectional center,'' which cancels mail (the P&DC's ink goes on the stamp), sorts it and redistributes it for eventual delivery. Had to get that word eventual in there.

Plan, Do, Check, Action. Sequence of management steps to be repeated (``the PDCA Cycle''). A statement of the obvious, ostentatiously described as an adaptation of the Deming wheel (don't look). Next lesson: SDCA.

My adaptation of PDCA is PDCA: ``plan, do, check, act.'' Hey, lookit me -- I'm doin' kaizen!

Pervasive Developmental Disorder.

Physical Device Driver.

Presidential Decision Directive. US governmentese.

Principal Deputy Director of National (US) Intelligence.

Parallel Data Distribution Preprocessor. A data parallel programming model implemented on two parallel platforms at LLNL.

Partial Differential Equation. `Partial' refers to the presence of partial derivatives, used to specify the direction of differentiation in a multi-dimensional space of independent variables. Cf. ODE.

(Resonant) Photon Drag Effect. Large electron momentum shifts, and associated induced currents, due to radiatively induced intersubband transitions in semiconductors, first predicted by A. A. Grinberg, E. D. Belorusets and E. Z. Imamov, Fiz. Tekh. Poluprovodn., vol. 5, pp. 2010ff (1971) [Eng. trans.: Sov. Phys. Semicond., vol. 5, pp. 1748ff (1972)].

A number of analogous effects in differrent systems are called light-induced drift (LID).

Professional Disposition Evaluation. A letter grade evaluating the political correctness of students enrolled in Wazoo's College of Education.

Pair Distribution Function.

Panamanian Defense Forces.

In 1989, the US took military action to topple Panamanian dictator Gen. Manuel Noriega. On Christmas Eve, he took refuge at the Papal Nunciature in Panama City (i.e., in the Vatican's embassy, which also serves as the residence of the papal nuncio). There was some irony in this, as the nuncio had been a vocal critic of Noriega, and the nunciature had provided sanctuary for many persecuted by Noriega's régime. During the invasion, US troops discovered a house that Noriega had used for witchcraft. According to a Christmas pageant of sorts presented by U.S. Army specialists, a Brazilian witch and a variety of elaborate rituals were used to cast magic spells on numerous political enemies, including Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and the entire U.S. Congress, Guillermo Endara (the man who had been elected Panamian president earlier in 1989, but prevented from taking office), and the papal nuncio, Monsignor Juan Sebastian Laboa. (This is a very incomplete inventory.) According to Italian news reports, 32 Noriega supporters also took refuge with the nuncio.

Beginning on December 27, members of a psychological warfare team from the 82nd Airborne Division played loud rock music over (initially two) powerful loudspeaker units positioned across the street from the nunciature. The music could be heard blocks away. One of the songs played was Judas Priest's ``You're Going to Burn in Hell.'' The first day's program lasted five hours and also included selections from the Rolling Stones, David Bowie (``Modern Love''), the Who (``We're Not Gonna Take It''), and the Grateful Dead, followed (according to one report) by rap music.

The next day's set featured repeated playing of ``Nowhere to Run,'' a hit for Motown's Martha Reeves and the Vandellas in 1965. The music programs grew longer. Conflicting, or at least multiple, explanations were given of what purpose the performance served. Noriega was reputed to favor opera. The legality of the music offensive, like that of many aspects of Noriega's stay, was not clear. By the 29th, those who thought it was legal nevertheless generally agreed that the joke wasn't funny anymore, and the psyop was terminated. Noriega surrendered to US forces the following January 3. (After conviction on drug charges in Florida, he was sentenced to forty years in federal prison. This was later reduced to thirty, and he is first eligible for parole in 2006.)

In 1994, a constitutional amendment (title xii, article 305) was passed that abolished the standing army (another Central American country, Costa Rica, had many years previously abolished its standing army in the aftermath of a civil war). Panama retains ``security forces'' (PPF).

When Barbara Streisand married James Brolin at her Malibu estate in 1998, she didn't want paparazzi to so much as hear the wedding, never mind see. For four hours she blasted the press with continuous playing of ``Thunder Kiss '65,'' a heavy metal song (?) recorded by Rob Zombie in 1992 with his band White Zombie. Zombie took no offense. He said ``[h]opefully, the Funny Lady will use a track off my new album, Hellbilly Deluxe, to ward off meddling paparazzi at her divorce hearing.'' ``At least it isn't Streisand music,'' commented a reporter on the scene.

At that time, Rob Zombie claimed that some of his music was blasted at Noriega and the nuncio in 1989. So far as I have been able to determine, that was the first time that anyone publicly claimed that recognition for Zombie. I have searched LexisNexis (including entertainment news), and the artists and titles listed earlier are all I was able to reconstruct of the playlists from newspaper and wire reports. Perhaps it's a military secret. In Time (for Jan. 8, 1990: Vol. 135, Issue 2) the cover story ``No Place to Run'' (G.J. Church, R. Chavira, pp. 38ff) added the information that ``Voodoo Chile'' [Jimi Hendrix] and ``You're No Good'' [Van Halen] were played. Did Rob Zombie really rank in this company?

Parkinson's Disease Foundation.

Pig Dog Farm. ``Offering simple, honest, top-quality handcrafted stuff & supplies at down-to-earth prices.'' (With all those properly-deployed hyphens, how could I resist linking?) They sell handmade soap, knitting patterns, and soapmaking supplies.

Polar Density Function.

PDF, .pdf
Portable Document Format. Adobe® Acrobat® format. In ordinary text (i.e., in uses other than filename extensions or directory names), the acronym is almost universally capitalized. A PDF viewer for the Symbian OS is Pdf+.

Post-Doctoral Fellow[ship].

Pretty Da{ m | r }n Fast.

p.d.f., pdf, PDF
Probability { Distribution | Density } Function.

Pendant Drop Growth. I watch this process occur on the end of my nose when I get out of the shower.

Président-directeur général. French title equivalent to CEO.

Plesiochronous Digital Hierarchy. Old-style asynchronous multiplexing.

[dive flag]

Professional Diving Instructors Corp.

Plastic Dual In-line Package.

Payload Defect Indicator -- Path.

Payload Defect Indicator -- Virtual.

Phi Delta Kappa International. It doesn't seem to stand for any particular words, in Greek or any other language, so you might as well use ``pretty darn kooky'' as the mnemonic. It styles itself ``The Professional Association for Educators,'' but it allows administrators to be members. This is worse than allowing a few managers into a workers' union, because school systems are top-heavy with nefarious educrats.

Here's a page with their New Year's resolutions, stacked up a couple of years in advance. As of January 2004, the first thing reported in their mission statement (in an appositive phrase; it's a fact rather than a mission component) is that PDK is now ``the leading advocate for public education.'' Further down the page, the first of the strategic goals listed is that ``[b]y 2006, PDK will be recognized as the leader in advocacy for public schools and the education profession. Well then, I guess it's just a question of getting the word out. Also, one of the first bullets under strategies reads: ``Advocacy. We will develop and implement plans to advocate for public education and the education profession. NOTE: To be recognized as the leading advocate, PDK will consider collaboration with other professional groups.

Professional Development & Learning.

Polymer-Dispersed Liquid Crystal.

Polymer-Dispersed Liquid-crystal Display. Explained here.

Pulse-Duration Modulation. Also Pulse-Density Modulation. PWM is the acronym I hear more frequently.

Present-Day Mass Function.

Plasma-Desorption Mass Spectrometry.

PolyDiMethylSiloxane. A transparent elastomer that can be poured over a microscopically patterned mold, polymerized, and then removed simply by peeling it off of the mold substrate. This isn't of any particular utility -- it's just a lot of fun. That's probably why it's so popular in industry.

Public Data Network.

Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

Plasma-Deposited Oxide.

Private Development Organization. One kind of NGO, q.v.

Purple Dinosaur Operating System.

Not this purple dragon. Here are some satirical sound files.

Parallel Distributed Processing.

Plasma Diagnostics Package.

Plasma Display Panel. (Once, plasma diplay meant ten-digits in neon bulbs. Now there are VGA plasma panels. Here's one from Fujitsu.)

Policy Decision Point. Management is a mathematically precise science. Cf. PEP.

Power-Delay Product.

Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) wrote (in Über die Psychologie des Unbewussten [`On the Psychology of the Unconscious'] 1917):

Wo die Liebe herrscht, da gibt es keinen Machtwillen, und wo die Macht den Vorrang hat, da fehlt die Liebe. Das eine ist der Schatten des andern.
[`Where love rules, there is no will to power, and where power predominates, love is missing. The one is the shadow of the other.']

It's the same in electronics: many of the simple things you can do to decrease power consumption also increase delay times, and vice versa. (To take a trivial example, increasing a load resistance in a simple BJT inverter decreases power dissipation in the output-low state, and increases RC time delay by the same factor: power goes as V²/R, delay as RC.) Thus, while power and delays are easily adjusted individually (or inadvertently affected by fabrication variances), the product of power dissipation and a representative delay like the average propagation delay does not budge so easily, and constitutes a good figure of merit.

In the foregoing analogy, Love is Delay.

Professional Developer's Program.

Programmed Data Processor. Prefix for a sequence of computers manufactured by Digital Equipment Corporation. Especially, PDP-11, PDP-10, -8.

Personality Diagnostic Questionnaire. Also Personality Disorders Questionnaire.

Pretty Da{ m | r }n Quick.

Public Diplomacy Query. Performed on a database of the USIA.

PDQ Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach had twenty children, of whom ten survived infancy. This one evidently didn't survive its falopian tube.

Phase-Delay Rectifier.

Photon-Dominated Region.

Physicians' Desk Reference.

Pitch-to-Diameter Ratio. (``Pitch'' here is the separation between adjacent threads of a screw.)

Playa del Rey. Abbreviation in California classified ads, particularly in The Argonaut, for over twenty years (could be since 1970, in fact) ``[y]our best source of local information for Marina del Rey, Venice, Westchester, Santa Monica and Playa del Rey. Cf. MdR.

People's Democratic Republic of Yemen. Old South Yemen. For a change, the communist Asian country claiming to be the whole country was the southern part of the country. The two united in 1990; see .ye entry.

Partei des demokratischen Sozialismus. `Party of democratic socialism.' Redefined former communist party of East Germany (see SED). They came in just above the cut-off in the 1998 general elections, winning 5.1% of the vote and being allocated 35 (out of 669) Bundestag seats. In 2002 it sank to 4% and had no Bundestag seats.

In most former Comecon countries of Central Europe, communist parties have survived and sometimes held power by taking a, well, less communist economic position, adopting mixed-economy or even somewhat neoliberal views. The situation of reunited Germany, and of the PDS, is exceptional. The strength of the PDS continued to be in the Länder (`states') of the former GDR; even after 2002, the PDS retained representation in eastern Landtage (`state parliaments').

At one point it was thought that the PDS and the Greens might merge to form a more viable party. The motivation on both sides presumably was the declining individual electoral strength of each. The Greens were drifting a little bit rightward economically, however, and that merger did not occur. Instead, in 2005, the PDS merged with dissenting former socialists to form the Linkspartei.

Philips Development System.

PhotoDischarge Spectroscopy.

Photothermal Deflection Spectroscopy.

Planar { Diffusion | Dopant } Source. Solid dopant source in the form of a wafer, stacked in alternating sandwich structure with wafers to be doped, the whole stack heated in a furnace. This is usually done with silicon wafers and, say, a boron dopant (using BN wafers with a witch's brew of other stuff). Why doesn't someone try this with garlic-doping of pizza?

Premises Distribution System. Wiring system from AT&T.

DiaminoPropaneTetraacetic Acid. Obviously, it's not called DPTA to avoid confusion. Usually, PDTA means 1,2-PDTA. Basically, this is 1,2-diaminopropane with acetic acid groups substituted for the hydrogens on the amine groups.

Packet Data Unit. Conflation of OSI-defined PDU expansion (Protocol Data Unit) with its synonymn, packet.

Process Development Unit.

Protocol Data Unit. OSI synonym of packet.

Peculiar Dorsal Vertebra[e]. The first dorsal vertebra, and ninth through twelfth inclusive, are peculiar. It doesn't bother me. (I have no idea whether anyone uses this acronym. I rather prefer to hear the expansion.)

Microsoft PC Paint Brush (graphics format).

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