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(Domain code for) French Polynesia.


Picofarad. Also pronounced ``puff.''

Points For. The usual way to win a game is to score more points than the opponents (have PF > PA)

Polyurethane Foam.

Popular Front. In the opinion of its leadership, at least. Often in reality too, until the period of power begins.

Power Forward. Basketball position.


Expressions like ``the proof of the pudding is in the eating'' and ``the exception that proves the rule'' are widely misunderstood today, because the meaning of the word proof has drifted from its earlier sense of test. The exception that proves the rule used to refer to the difficult case that provided the hardest test of the validity of a rule, not -- as it seems to do today -- to the exceptional case that establishes where the limits of the rule's validity are to be found.

PerFluoroAlkoxy polymer. One of the polymers that du Pont markets as ``Teflon'' ® (along with FEP and PTFE).

Players' Football Association. A players' union representing professional soccer players in England.

People For the American Way. There may be some slight disagreement on what the ``American Way'' might be besides right. PFAW is a promoter of left-wing causes and views. You can't say they ``lobby'' Democratic legislators; it's more like they provide them with scripts.


The Papyri of FAYum, Egypt. Published by B.P. Grenfell, A.S. Hunt and D.G. Hogarth in 1900.

PerFluoro{ Chemical | Carbon } (compound). Also expanded perfluorocompound.

Power Factor Controller.

PreFrontal Cortex (of the brain).

Private First Class.

Power Flux Density.

Parameterized Format Description Language.

Pedal-Feel Emulator. A system that controls the displacement or force of a motor vehicle's brake pedal. Traditional brakes don't have this, of course, and neither do ``power brakes'' (``vacuum-boosted'' brakes). PFE's are used with brake-by-wire systems, in which the brakes are actuated completely electronically (that's normally; the back-up emergency brake is mechanical). PFE's are designed to emulate the feel of ordinary power brakes.

Please Find Enclosed.

Pressurized Fluid Extraction. Well, we still haven't explained Folch, so we'd be getting ahead of ourselves if we explained PFE now.

German, `penny.' I would guess that this is a cognate.

Philippine Football Federation. After 400 years in a convent and 40 in Hollywood, they shouldn't call it anything but soccer.

Preparing Future Faculty ``is a national network of academic leaders reshaping graduate education to include preparation for the full range of faculty roles subsumed by the terms teaching, research, and service. Participants observe and experience how these responsibilities can be carried out at a wide range of academic institutions with varying missions and diverse student bodies.''

Presidential Faculty Fellow.

Pulsed Field Gradient.

(US) President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. It ``provides advice to the President concerning the quality and adequacy of intelligence collection, of analysis and estimates, of counterintelligence, and of other intelligence activities. The PFIAB, through its Intelligence Oversight Board, also advises the President on the legality of foreign intelligence activities.''

``The PFIAB currently [text copied February 2005] has 16 members selected from among distinguished citizens outside the government who are qualified on the basis of achievement, experience, independence, and integrity.

``The Board was established in 1956 by President Eisenhower and was originally called the President's Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities. It gained its current name under President Kennedy and it has served all Presidents since that time except for President Carter.'' In some documents, the PFIAB is referred to without the A-word: ``President's Foreign Intelligence Board.''

Pillow Fight League. A dry variant of mud wrestling, launched by Stacey Case in Toronto in early 2006. Early in 2007, they're taking the show on the road.

Mary informs me that at a logging festival in Montana in the 1990's, she watched a pillow fight contest that was conducted on floating logs. The contestants were allowed to soak their pillows, but not to put foreign objects (stones, apples, pears, and soap were mentioned) into them. She says the women who participated (it was an all-distaff event) were big and strong.

In July 2006, Mary attended the Idaho Potato Mash-A-Thon. Among the events were mashed-potato sculpting, potato-eating contests, and mashed-potato wrestling.

Parents, Family and Friends Lesbians And Gays. Hey wait! I thought that was the last refuge of a...

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. FPLP in French.

Paschal Full Moon. The full moon preceding Easter Sunday. This is a nominal full moon -- a full moon date determined by an algorithm that determines ecclesiastical full moon dates. It's very accurate, so I suppose that most of the time it's wrong. (Like a watch that's just a bit slow.)

Patent Foramen Ovale. Medical Latin for a small opening between the left and right atria of the heart. It's thought to be a risk factor for stroke.

Program For Persons With Disabilities.

Personal Financial Specialist. An AICPA specialization certification for CPA's.

PFU, pfu
Plaque-Forming Unit. A phage, in so many words. Here ``plaque'' is used in the sense of a region of an agar plate that has been denuded of bacteria by the action of a bacteriophage (bacteria-killing virus). Literally, of course, bacteriophage means bacteria-eater (just like coprophage means, oh never mind). What a typical bacteriophage (``phage'' for short) does is break into a bacterium and hijack its transcription apparatus so it produces lots of copies of the virus. Eventually, the bacterium becomes filled up and bursts, releasing the virus copies. (Virus is an odd Latin word without a known or obvious plural.)

[Football icon]

Pro Football Weekly.

PaGe. Equivalently: p.

Plurals: pgs and pp.

(Domain code for) Papua New Guinea. Hmmm. Well, I already wrote all I know that's even slightly relevant to Papua New Guinea at the entry for the Dominican Republic. Sorry, I'm fresh out of material.

Parental Guidance suggested. Indicates that movie is not about cartoon animals, but also would not have shocked you by the time you were eight.

It's a movie rating of the MPAA (q.v.), originally called M (mature) and then GP (General audiences, Parental guidance suggested) later renamed GP and finally PG.

Point Guard. Basketball position.

Post Gazette or Post-Gazette. The sort of compound you get when newspapers named ``The Post'' and ``The Gazette'' merge. Like the Pittsburgh (PA) PG.

ProstaGlandin[s]. Part of the reason why parents' not letting their kids see any but PG movies won't be enough to keep'em pure.

Prince George's (county, in Maryland). Northeast of Washington, D.C., it experienced tremendous growth in the late 1950's and 1960's, as the population of DC expanded into the (fled to the jurisdictionally separate) suburbs. During the 1960's alone, the county population increased by almost 70%. Nowadays something like 40% of workers living there are federal employees.

``Prince George's'' is a bit of a mouthful when you're busy announcing school snow closings and such, so the abbreviation, pronounced ``pee-gee,'' is common in speech.

Prince George of Denmark (1653-1708) was the consort of Anne (1665-1714), queen of England and scattered other parts from 1702. Prince George's was constructed from Calvert and Charles counties in 1695. The original name did not contain an apostrophe, following seventeenth-century punctuation conventions. This is reflected in the homepage and emblem of the Prince Georges Radio Control Club (PGRC), founded in 1964. A style manual for the ``Papers of George Washington Editorial Project'' has in its list of troublesome vocabulary a line
Prince Georges County, Md. (No apostrophe)

Not enough attention has been paid to this important issue. In 1971, the official seal of the state was altered by the addition of an apostrophe (and by the use of a modern u glyph in the word county instead of the old vee style), but confusion remains. In 2002, author guidelines from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) made the following claim:

... NIJ differs from GPO on using apostrophes in county names (e.g., Prince George's County).

Au contraire! The GPO's style manual for 2002 listed (in chapter 4 -- ``CAPITALIZATION EXAMPLES''; scroll down to page 43 or else do something creative with your search function)

County, Prince George's; county of Prince George's; County Kilkenny, etc.; Loudoun and Fauquier Counties; the county.

Who give's a rats ass about a prince of Denmark? I say, rename it P.G County and save all the punctuation hassles.

P+G, P&G
Procter and Gamble. Based in Cincinnati.

Project Gutenberg. Begun by Michael Hart when he received a grant of computer time at the University of Illinois in 1971. Hart felt (I had to write that) that the greatest value created by computers would not be number crunching, but rather the storage, retrieval, and searching of texts. In other words, he was a visionary.

Patient Global Assessment. As opposed to the physician global assessment (MDGA).

[Download PGA image from http://www.nsc.com/pkg/gifs/ppga.gif]

Pin Grid Array. A pin-through-hole Chip package with pins in a square array on the bottom surface. Pins are usually in a generally-but-not-quite-symmetric pattern which does not cover the bottom surface completely.

National Semiconductor publishes specs on the web. A plastic PGA is illustrated (upside down) at right.

Professional Golfers' Association. There's a history and one of the PGA tour.

More interesting is the Bad Golfers Association (BGA).

Professional Graphics Adapter.

Programmable Gate Array.

Project Gutenberg of AUstralia. An independent PG partner. Since Australia is a Life+50 country, you should go there to download some etexts that aren't in the public domain (PD) in Life+70 countries.

Of course, if you yourself are in a Life+70 country, then you shouldn't do this, because you're cheating a poor book-publishing conglomerate. Don't tell me that the book has been out of print (OOP) for a century; that's irrelevant. You see, keeping works out of the greedy clutches of the public domain encourages potential readers to purchase new, often better books that are in print. The heirs of the original authors, recognizing this fact, gratefully reward publishers for their loyalty by refusing to allow books they own the rights of to enter the PD. Actually, they reward the conglomerates that swallowed up the companies that used to show some loyalty to the authors of the books that sold well, but basically it's the same warm, gooey feeling.

PostGraduate Certificate in Education.

Prince George's County Public Schools. Yeah -- that P.G. County.

Plant Genome Data and Information Center (of the NAL).

Project Gutenberg's Distributed Proofreaders. ``Distributed Proofreaders was founded in 2000 by Charles Franks to support the digitization of Public Domain books. Originally conceived to assist Project Gutenberg (PG), Distributed Proofreaders (DP) is now [text copied from website January 2004] the main source of PG e-books. In 2002, Distributed Proofreaders became an official Project Gutenberg site and as such is supported by Project Gutenberg. All our users, managers, developers and so on are volunteers.'' As of January 2004, there's a separate DP Europe which is targeting books in other languages than English and other scripts than Roman.
This site provides a web-based method of easing the proofreading work associated with the digitization of Public Domain books into Project Gutenberg e-books. By breaking the work into individual pages many proofreaders can be working on the same book at the same time. This significantly speeds up the proofreading/e-book creation process.

When a proofer elects to proofread a page of a particular book, the text and image file are displayed on a single web page. This allows the page text to be easily reviewed and compared to the image file, thus assisting the proofreading of the page text. The edited text is then submitted back to the site via the same web page that it was edited on. A second proofreader is then presented with the work of the first proofreader and the page image. Once they have verified the work of the first proofreader and corrected any additional errors the page text is again submitted back to the site.

Once all pages for a particular book have been processed, a post-processor joins the pieces, properly formats them into a Project Gutenberg e-book and submits it to the Project Gutenberg archive.

Platinum-Group Element[s].

Point-contact GErmanium Diode.

Project Gutenberg in the European Union. An independent PG partner based in the Netherlands. Situation very fluid as I write this entry in January 2004. See DP Europe entry. The gift culture has some rather funky organizational charts.

PittsburGH. A city with a lot of hometown pride. One point of pride has been the letter aitch at the end of the town name. Two days before Christmas in 1891, the grinches of the United States Board on Geographic Names got their wish -- and a bill was signed into federal law that standardized place names by, among other things, changing the spelling of names ending in ``burgh'' to end in ``burg.'' You really have to wonder whether the tenth amendment to the constitution and the entire notion of federalism isn't a dead letter, when even your own town name isn't safe.

By Christmas 1891 or so, the people of Pittsburgh were incensed. Somehow they managed to remain incensed for two decades, and on July 19, 1911, the United States Geographic Board (the renamed United States Board on Geographic Names) restored Pittsburgh's original name. (It seems the wound never completely healed; see the Pittsburg entry for a bit more.) The board's concession was half a loaf, at best. The proper resolution would have been a state-court finding that no federal agency had the authority to name any state-incorporated entity, followed by a federal court's refusal to hear an appeal.

It's instructive to consider this case in detail. The original ten-man Board on Geographic Names was established by an executive order of Pres. Benjamin Harrison in 1890. At the time, some states had as many as five different towns with the same name. Shortening all burghs to burgs was one of the first decisions taken by the board. Decisions of the board were accepted as binding by all departments and agencies of the federal government.

This is typical in many ways. There was a plausible case that a real problem existed, of course, though it was probably not as serious as it was made out to be. It was the responsibility of the states to solve it. The states could certainly solve it themselves, and were likely better-situated to solve it knowledgeably and with sensitivity to local concerns. A federal agency was created to solve it, even though neither the executive nor the federal government as a whole had any authority in the matter. (Oh sure, it was necessary to standardize the names for smooth federal government operation.) Among the first actions of the board was one which was largely irrelevant to its charge. Without legally imposing its (nonexistent) authority (i.e., without legally changing the names) but merely by acting as if it had, the federal government created a version of the problem the problem it had set out to solve: name confusion for one of the country's largest cities, created in the name of solving the problem that there were five places named Dry Gulch in New Mexico (or whatever).

(You know, the partial-concession method of securing authority was not invented by the USGB. Consider Marbury v. Madison.)

Projection Gas Immersion Laser Doping.

Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation. The charitable foundation that supports the work of Project Gutenberg (PG).

Platinum-Group Metals. The period-5 and period-6 transition metals of three adjacent groups. (The ones under the period-4 metals Fe, Co, and Ni. I won't try to give the group numbers because there are two or three common numberings.) In atomic-number order they are ruthenium, rhodium, and palladium, then osmium, iridium, and um, um, oh yeah -- platinum.

PGM, .pgm
Portable GrayMap. An image format: MIME-type image/x-portable-graymap.

Precision Guided Munitions.

Propylene Glycol (mono) Methyl Ether.

PGP (tm)
Pretty Good (tm) Privacy. A public-key encryption for email and data storage. Visit the User's Guide or a jump-start-like introduction, with appropriate out-links.

PGP is the creation of Phil Zimmerman.

Procuraduría General de la República. Sounds fishy, doesn't it?

Prince Georges Radio Control Club. Established in 1964 to promote the enjoyment of building and flying radio-controlled model aircraft. If you're not in or near Prince George's County, then you're just SOL, yer scrood. Oh wait -- there's hope! More information in the next edition of the glossary.

PaGeS. Equivalently: pp.

Singulars: pg. and p.

Philosophy Graduate Students Association. There exists at least one PGSA (at Marquette University).

P. G. Wodehouse
Pelham (`Plum') Grenville Wodehouse (1881-1975).

Parental Guidance suggested before age 13. Indicates that movie is not about cartoon animals, but also contains nothing at all shocking. The only reason for this rating is to attract fourteen-year-olds to see G movies. PG is for attracting eighteen-year-olds to see G movies.

More at PG and MPAA entries.

[pH scale illustrated]

Potential of Hydrogen: -log[H+]. A measure of acidity on a logarithmic scale like the open-ended Richter scales. 7 is neutral, numbers larger than 7 are basic (roughly equivalent term alkaline) and smaller numbers are acidic (``sour''; although there is a sense of sour taste which measures acidity there is no equivalent taste sense for basicity). Acidic and basic solutions with pH's smaller than 0 and greater than 14, respectively, are rare. The pH of lemons is around 2.2, and vinegar is around 2.9.

Acid taste is not a perfect measure of acidity, however: e.g., apples and grapefruit have comparable acidity (3 to 3.3). An important factor in determining sour taste is sugar: sweetness masks acidity.

Cf. pK, pOH.

The figure above the entry is from Water Watch.

The pH measure was introduced in 1909 by the biochemist S.P.L. Sørensen. At the time, he was working on controlling acidity during the brewing of beer. You should celebrate this fact soon by performing GI-tract experiments with Danish beer.

(Domain code for) Philippines.

PH, ph
Pinch Hitter.

Postage and Handling.

Prentice Hall, which is now a division of Simon and Schuster.

Pulse Height Analy { sis | zer }. A feature of some optical multichannel analyzers (MCA).

Short for bacteriophage. A virus that eats bacteria, to judge from the etymology. Since the largest viruses are smaller than the smallest bacteria (don't hold me to that, there may be some overlap in the size range), the "eating" is from the inside: a phage invades, commandeers the genetic apparatus, replicates itself, and then its copies burst out of the cell wall of the bacterium.

  1. Member of a 50's singing group. There's a bit of further information hidden toward the end of the Mojo Risin, Mr. entry.
  2. [column] Dead king of ancient Egypt.
  3. Maybe you're thinking of farrow.


  4. Definitely you're thinking of farrow.

pharmaceutical names
See drug names.

Pig-Headed Boss.

PolyHydroxyButyrate. I guess really that should be polyhydroxybutanoate, but let's face it, the later nomenclature just doesn't have the old pizzazz.

Prairie Home Companion. A Sunday afternoon program produced by Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), hosted by the great storyteller Garrison Keillor, and featuring live music that it surprises no one has not made the performers rich or famous. Famous tagline: ``Lake Wobegone, where the women are strong, the men are good-lookin', and all the children are above average.''

Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors-National-Association. Yeah-that's-how they-write-it. Looks like piping-on-the-brain.

Photon-induced CVD. CVD in which a reaction on the surface is catalyzed by light, or accelerated by substrate heating caused by illumination.

Ph.D., PhD
Post-Hole Digger.


Ph.D., PhD
Philosophiae Doctor. Latin, `Doctor of Philosophy.'

Also, according to the progression B.S. (Bull Shit), M.S. (More Shit), Ph.D. is expanded ``Piled higher & Deeper.'' Illustration of the process

[The animated gif to the left is not a server-push graphic. You can stop it by pressing the escape key or using the selection item under the rightmost (if not the only) button on your mouse.]

Someone has suggested the expansion Pretty Hard to Date. I dare say I have been.

Theodore Ziolkowski wrote a famous article entitled ``The Ph.D. Squid,'' for American Scholar vol. 59(2) pp. 177-195 (Spring 1990), concerned with how long it's been taking to get one. (See ABD.)

The medieval universities mostly had two degrees: bachelor of arts and master of arts. I suppose this pattern was set by the University of Paris. The MA was the ``teaching degree'' attained by someone who was competent to teach the subject matter. A friend of mine who got her BA at Cambridge (UK) and her Ph.D. at Princeton returned and joined the faculty at Cambridge. They gave her an honorary Cambridge MA so that she would be technically qualified to teach. The Oxbridge universities are deeply steeped in tradition. I stayed in a guest room at her college (with a view of the cemetery), and judging from the electrical fixtures (vintage nineteenth-century)...

The Ph.D. was invented in Germany and adopted in the US and elsewhere as a research degree, and over time it has come to be regarded as necessary for university-level teaching. (Adoption has been somewhat nonuniform, however. The first Ph.D.'s were not awarded in Italy until the 1980's.)

Probably most people find the ``philosophy'' part of the term ``doctor of philosophy'' puzzling. The origin is in the traditional division of universities, dating back to medieval times, into four faculties: theology, law, medicine, and philosophy. Philosophy was broadly construed as scholarship not targeted toward a specific professional end (churchman, lawyer, physician). The Enlightenment expansion of knowledge for the most part inflated the catch-all faculty of philosophy (elsewhere called ``arts'' or ``arts and sciences'').

Plastic High Dome (watch crystal). Kindamusing, since ``high-dome'' is a synonym of egg-head, unnecessarily smart person.

Pigeon-Harvesting Dog. The recruiters that supply Google with the warm bodies needed for its PC's.

Peer Health Educator.


Phoenix. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation.

Pseudomorphic High Electron Mobility Transistor (HEMT). It is Stammtisch practice, or will be as soon as we use the word, to pronounce it ``PEE-hemp'd.'' You should follow us in this, even now before we have led.

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle[s].

Public Health, Education and Welfare. Rare deprecatory invented acronym for HEW. Aw, man.

Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association.
100 Witherspoon St. Rm. 3228,
Louisville, KY 40202-1396.

No longer room 3041. I think they moved things around a bit.

Web site under redevelopment as of June 2001. There's an amusing sort of pot-calling-the-kettle-black aspect to this, I'll leave that as is and merely note that as of 2014, they have a separate domain distinct from that of the PC(USA) which they originally used.

Paired Helical Filaments. Helical assemblies of neurofilament proteins found in Alzheimer's disease (AD) brains.


Packard Humanities Institute
300 Second St., Suite 201; Los Altos, CA 94022

The website was under construction as of late August 2003.

Tel: (415) 948-0150
Fax: (415) 948-5793

They sponsor some digs, but they are best known for producing a series of searchable CD-ROM for Classical Scholarship. CD-ROM 5.3 contains various Latin authors, and seven versions of the Bible. CD-ROM ``PHI 7'' contains collections of Greek papyri and inscriptions.

Programmer's Hierarchical Interactive Graphics System. A 3D graphics library.

Programmer's Hierarchical Interactive Graphics System Plus Lumiere Und Surfaces. (What the hell language is that?!) A PHIGS extension with depth-cueing, NURBS, and complex primitives (I love this stuff, whatever it is).

PIIGS plus Hungary. The PIIGS are all in the eurozone. Hungary, like the UK, is part of the EU but uses its own currency.

PHILadelphiA. A Greek place name derived from the Hellenistic Greek philadelphía, `brotherly love.' It was the name of one of the Decapolis (`ten city') cities located mostly in present-day Jordan. Philadelphia was the site of modern Amman (q.v.). The ancient city was named after a Ptolemaic rebuilder of the city. The Greek term philadelphía was used in post-classical Latin, and I presume that is the source of the name of the Pennsylvania city.

It is my irritated duty to point out that the translation `brotherly love' suggests a gender preference that is largely absent in the original Greek. Brother and sister in ancient Greek were adelphós and adelphê, respectively. (There's an acute accent on the final eta in the second word, but it's inconvenient to mark up.) Whichever of the two words you choose as basis, you get the same compound word with the -ia abstract ending. So philadelphía means both `brotherly love' and `sisterly love.'

At the time of the American Revolution, Philadelphia was the second-most-populous city in the British Empire, after London. According the census of 1800, Philadelphia had 70,000 inhabitants. The other four US cities with populations over 10,000 were New York (60,000), Boston (25,000), Charleston (18,000), and Baltimore (13,000). The first census of London, taken in 1801, yielded a count of 959,300. (London was the largest city in Europe; Edo, now called Tokyo, was very likely the largest city in the world, with a population estimated to be over a million.)

PHILEX, PhilEx, Philex
PHILadelphia Stock EXchange. Founded in 1790, it is the oldest exchange in the US. [There's an old building called the Bourse on Independence Mall in Philadelphia, but that institution (see bourse) is not directly related to the Philex.]

The NASD negotiated to buy the PhilEx in 1998, with a plan that included moving its options business to New York. Given that options were the largest part of the PhilEx's business, it seems hardly surprising that NASD was never able to make an offer that was attractive to PhilEx members. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported by April 20 that year that the deal appeared dead.

The following August, the PhilEx, CBOE, and Amex got into what was described as an ``old-fashioned market brawl,'' trading options on a few of the stocks that had previously traded exclusively on one or another of the exchanges. The CBOE and Amex started the fight, listing options of the Dell Computer Corporation, which for years had been traded exclusively on PhilEx and which was almost a third of its business. Philex countered almost immediately by listing options in Johnson & Johnson, IBM, Coca-Cola, and Apple Computer, which had traded primarily or exclusively on CBOE and Amex. By September of 1999, the CBOE had captured half of the Dell option business, and PhilEx, which kept only a third, was adding listings for GE, AT&T and Wal-Mart options. Remember AT&T? Things got even more exciting later when PhilEx began a price war, putting a ceiling on commissions for high-volume customers. Of course, that was all before ISE.

In harmony with Phil. (There may be other meanings.)

Phil's kind of harmonica. (Ditto.)

PHILosophy and LITerature. Reported at one time (by one of its board members) to be the best philosophy list in this or any possible universe. It was associated with a scholarly journal (also called Philosophy and Literature) that is published by Johns Hopkins University Press. When I visited on May 19-20, 1999, a more accurate description would have been: a lot of pretentious, half-informed talk about literature. Apparently they overcame the pretentiousness and started talking about politics. By 2003 it had become just another talk.politics. The owners, Denis Dutton and D. G. Myers, decided to put the list out of their misery and pulled the plug on May 18, 2003. Andreas Ramos, the ``moderator'' (nonstandard terminology; the list was completely unmoderated; he was just the technical facilitator) wanted the party to go on, and he created a list called Literature and Ideas at Topica.com. After a couple of weeks, the old list at TAMU was also reassembled, but perhaps on something like an invitation-only basis.

It looks like one of those long official military acronyms. Boy they have their fingers in everything. You'd never suspect it stands for PHILosophy of MInd, Language, and COGnitive Science, a graduate conference held annually at UWO.

A word constructed from Greek roots that can be understood as `love of words,' as philosophy can be understood as `love of wisdom.'

The term philology was originally a comprehensive term covering the study of all aspects of language. Indeed, early on the American Philological Association (APA, now mostly devoted to classical antiquity) had sections for Germanic philology, etc. Some time in the first quarter of the twentieth century, the word linguistics took over most of this meaning. Roman Jakobson (b. 1896, Moscow, d. 1982, Cambridge, MA) entered the historico-philological faculty [i.e., department] at the University of Moscow in 1914. In 1915, he and six other students there founded the Moskovij Lingvisticheskij Kruzok (`Moscow Linguistics Circle'), with the stated aim of studying `linguistics, poetics, metrics, and folklore' [translation from his Selected Writings II. Word and Language (The Hague: Mouton, 1971)]. He went on to make contributions in all those fields. In 1976, an interviewer referring to his broad scholarly activity and his multilinguistic competence, asked him ``Who are you?'' He answered, ``A Russian philologist. Period.'' On his gravestone are the words ``Roman Jakobson -- Russkij Filolog.''

But the word was not completely forget as late as fall 1949, when the novelist John O'Hara sent a letter to his friends Jim and Helen Thurber, preserved in Selected Letters of James Thurber.

Dear Thurbs:   By the way, what does a thurber do? What is thurbing? ``I think I'll go out and thurb the nasturtiums.'' ``Shall we go thurbing this afternoon?'' ``That goddam thurbing son of a bitch Ross.'' ``Father, the greeve needs a new thurber.'' All these years, and I never had the philological curiousity to ask a simple question.

It's a shame if the reply was not saved, because it ought to have been pretty good. Better, at least, than what I came up with.


philosopher kings
Plato, in Republic, bk. V, 473-C, wrote:
Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils - no, nor the human race, as I believe - and then only will this our State have a possibility of life and behold the light of day.

A famous remark of Frederick the Great:

``If I wanted to punish a province, I would give it to philosophers to govern.''

Doctors of Philosophy, maybe? The Best and the Brightest! And do not forget that great philologist and foiled lexicographic reformer, Claudius.

William F. Buckley has famously remarked that he would rather be governed by the first 1000 names in the Boston phone book than by the faculty of Harvard University. Of course, WFB is a Yalie.

Philosophical Writing
No, no, this entry isn't about philosophical writing per se. It's about a book recently discarded by an undergraduate, and I'm so excited I have to share. The book's title is -- you guessed it: Philosophical Writing. It's by A.P. Martinich, and it is the most completely slapdash book I can ever recall skimming. It is slapdash from start to finish, and probably at a few places in between. It's an absolute treasure: every page has something to contemn! Do I mean literally every page, have I checked? Oh, alright, it's absolutely a relative treasure.

Sloppy from the start, though, as I said: The first extended prose in my copy is the ``Note to the Second Edition,'' on p. vii. (None of the roman-numeral pages displays a page number; I got the page number from the ToC. Useful, eh?) It begins thus: ``Writing to a friend, Voltaire apologized for the length of his letter: `If I had had more time, this letter would have been shorter.' '' The author (Martinich) means this quote to say something about his own writing and it does: it says that he couldn't be troubled to check any handy reference to find out that the author was Blaise Pascal.

It goes on like this, but I'm not going to work any harder writing a review than the author did writing the book in the first place. The book is a great deaccession candidate for any library that has it.

philosophically unsophisticated
Reasonable, sensible.

A poison that generally sharpens verbal reasoning ability while destroying the ability to think.

That succinct definition is just the second fruits of my research. I'll be adding more later, after I think even more deeply about it.

Philosophy Now
A periodical. Some of the content is online, because it's urgent. It comes out five, maybe six times a year. What is the deeper significance? I vow not to know until I find out.

philosophy team sports
The World Cup final between Germany and Greece, as presented by Monty Python, is available in many versions on YouTube. This link is to the most complete coverage I found.

A chart of APA Philosophy Referee Hand Signals was created by Landon W. Schurtz (a Ph.D. candidate at U. Okla.) in 2009, but seems to be available only on other peoples' blogs, like this one or this other one. The signals are similar to those of (North American) football, though the meanings differ slightly. Here is a comparison:

Football meaning(s) of signal          Philosophy signal meaning
=============================          =========================

Clipping                               Straw man

Delay of game                          Can you state that claim
                                       more concisely?

False start                            Please let me finish
                                       before you object

First down                             Premise accepted

Holding                                Irrelevant

Illegal cut                            I'd like to make a
                                       friendly amendment

Illegal motion                         Non sequitur

Illegal use of hands                   Unilluminating appeal to intuitions

No play, penalty declined              I'll spot you that claim for now

Ineligible receiver downfield          That thinker does not
                                       argue what you think

Intentional grounding                  Naturalistic fallacy

Loss of down                           I'll have to consider that

Offside                                I don't actually believe this,
                                       but for the sake of argument...

Pass interference                      Unilluminating appeal to skepticism

Personal foul                          Personal foul

Safety                                 I believe that claim actually
                                       supports my objection

Start clock (time in)                  Your argument is circular

TD, successful PAT or FG               Q.E.D.

Time out                               Your claims are inconsistent

Touchback                              Those claims yield an unexpected

Unsportsmanlike conduct                Was that article from
                                       a refereed journal?

After the game, we can all get together and sing The Philosophers' Drinking Song.


The vertical indentation between the nose and upper lip of a human. Etymologically related to philter, from the Greek root meaning `love.'

Penn Harris Madison. The P-H-M [Public] School District is in the town of Mishawaka, Indiana. P-H-M is one of the reasons private school education is so popular in this area.

Public-Health Nurs{ e[s] | ing }. There's a mailing list (generic link) for Public Health Nursing Discussion and Information. Read the archives. To subscribe to the mailing list, send the one-line message
SUBSCRIBE phnurses Firstname M. I. Lastname
to <listproc@u.washington.edu>

phone booth
A restaurant table between two padded bench seats, or with at least one padded bench seat and with the table against a (usually low) room divider. When people speak over the phone, they must raise their voices so they can be heard throughout the restaurant, because the person they're speaking with is far away.

phone sex
  1. Flirting with an unseen prostitute, usually. (I almost wrote ``normally.'' Out of sight...) And paying for the privilege. (Out of mind.)
  2. Ooooh, getaload o'that sleek Trimline. Hubba-hubba!
  3. The best thing about phone sex is that you don't have to sex them to make sure they're properly paired. They'll ring and swing anyway. Have a conference-call orgy!

See also sexting.

Appletalk over phone cable. Pronounced ``phone-net.''

phonetic alphabet
There is a standard set of words used to assure that voice-transmission of spelled-out sequences of letters are properly communicated.

A quantum of excitation of lattice deformation. As a particle, the phonon obeys Bose-Einstein statistics -- it's a boson.

``The Living Encyclopedia of Physics'' has an entry

They have lower internal resistance, to discharge faster. Ftp site here.

photoflash capacitors
They have lower internal resistance, to discharge faster.

The eye is not equally sensitive to power at different frequencies, even when the different frequencies are within the visible spectrum. In order to be able to discuss perceived light intensity, it is necessary to scale light intensity by the eye's sensitivity at each component frequency. Obviously it is impossible to do this in a way that is exactly appropriate for all human eyes, since eyes differ. Nevertheless, a standard sensitivity table was defined based on measurements for a number of people.

I will try to finish this.

[Phone icon]

Personal Handy Phone. See PHS.

Personal Home Page. PHP was originally a set of tools for people to track hits to their own web pages, but grew into a more general server-side scripting language. Eventually the expansion became PHP Hypertext Preprocessor. In principle, despite the appearance, this needn't be a recursive acronym (XARA). The new PHP expansion contains the old PHP, so one could as well expand PHP as Personal Home Page Hypertext Preprocessor.

Michael Neumann's extensive list of sample short programs in different programming languages includes a couple of bits of PHP script for insertion in a PHP document.

PHarmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America. A drug-company lobby in Washington, D.C. As of fall 2002, it employed at least twenty former members of Congress and various top staffers from the previous (Clinton) administration. Recent acquisitions included top health care aides from the staffs of Senators John McCain and Bill Frist. The wife of the then Senate minority leader was also working for them, demonstrating that she was a liberated modern woman who does not depend on her husband for her income and status. I imagine that PhRMA values her chemical expertise. She has also pointed out that all those young kids on congressional staffs don't even realize that she has a family connection. I hadn't realized that Daschle was such a common name.

The Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group.

[Phone icon]

Personal Handyphone System. Wasei eigo for a Japanese-standard cordless digital phone service. It functions at much lower power than ordinary cellular phone systems, so it's intended as a walking-around phone for high population-density areas. The sets are cheaper and lighter. Since its introduction in July 1995, the standard has been adopted in Australia and Southeast Asia. Here's one from NEC, and s'more info at Q6 of this FAQ. Initially developed by NTT. Operates at 1.9 GHz.

Public Health Service. Part of the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Public High School.

Ph.T., PhT
Putting Hubby Through. A certificate that Harvard used to award to ``spouses'' (as news reports many years later sensitively describe it). I find it hard to believe that they used the word hubby, which word it seems to me is a recent import from England by way of the supermarket tabloids, rather than husband. I mean, we're talking Harvard here.

I learned of it during the celebrated 1997 divorce trial of Gary and Lorna Jorgenson Wendt. Gary Wendt, CEO of General Electric (GE) Capital Corp., and Lorna separated in 1995. He offered her $11 million, she sought half of an estate she claimed was worth $100 million as her due for being a ``career corporate wife.'' She introduced the Ph.T. in evidence (inter alia, of course). She was awarded over $17M plus over $0.252M alimony.

pHVA level
Plasma level of HomoVanillic Acid.

This entry is on the level.

Pressurized Heavy-Water Reactor.

PHYsical layer of the OSI model. Cf. AAL.

Disease that attacked French vines many years ago. France had to import American grape (Chilean and I think US were used), which has a natural resistance. The American vine was used as a root graft. This is subject to change as soon as I get the straight dope.

physical demography
Well, there's political geography and physical geography -- why not political demography and physical demography?

Here's my contribution to physical demography. On February 2, 2008, on his regularly syndicated weekly (Saturdays) radio program (``America's Car Show''), Tom Torbjornsen gave his evaluation of the Kia Spectra5 Wagon, I think it was. He said he had one basic problem with it: it was inappropriate for a person of his ``stature.'' He didn't mean his eminence as an automobile talking head. He also didn't mean his height. He drove it 200 miles and was very uncomfortable. The seats were narrow -- adequate for a 120-lb. woman or a 150-lb. man, but not for anyone bigger. He commented that this made the vehicle inappropriate for ``a large part of the population.'' From his intonation it was clear that he did not intend or recognize the pun. That's why it was cool.

Physics and Astronomy, Department of
UB used to have a department of Physics and Astronomy until the early 1990's. Then one day, it was suddenly gone! Fortunately, none of the members were hurt. Everyone was safely transferred to a newly created department, called the Physics Department.

According to a Stammtisch informant in a good position to know, the following event occurred in the old days. Someone called the department's director of undergraduate studies (the informant, as a matter of fact) to ask what courses the department offered in astrology. The caller probably was not satisfied with the answer.

physics crossword puzzles
US-style, newspaper-density, reasonably difficult physics-themed or physicsy crucigrams. (Not vocabulary puzzles.) They're coming soon. The target date is February 28, at <http://www.plexoft.com/PXW/>.

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