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Piss Off. Impolite but useful phrasal verb. Note that imperative-form meaning (depart) and indicative- and subjunctive-form meaning (anger) differ substantially. Cf. PO'ed.

Note that pissed (without the particle) is equivalent to pissed off in the US, but means `inebriated' in Australia. (That's most of the difference between American and Australian, as explained below.)

Polar-Optical. Refers to the interaction of LO phonons in a polar crystal with any net charge concentration. Fröhlich model is commonly used. Cf. DO phonons.

Polonium. Named after discoverer Marie Curie's native country (which one day would have the ccTLD of .pl). More isotopes are known for polonium than for any other, and not one of them is stable. It's poisonous in microgram quantities; black sheep of the chalcogenide (Ch) family.

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

POrch. You'd think it might stand for POol instead. See this NC entry regarding the possible prevalence of this real estate abbreviation.

Post Office. In Europe and elsewhere, they often double as telegraph and banking service offices.

Potassium. The original symbol for this chemical element in the notation proposed by Berzelius (now represented by K).

Power Output.

Print Out. One reason that the once-vaunted paperless office is taking such a long time arriving is that many people think of computers as a tool for printing out something to read.

Project Officer.

A river in Italy.

Point Of (internet) Access. On the pattern of POB (place of birth), POC (point of contact), POE (point of entry), POP (point of presence or purchase), and POS (point of sale). Preferable to more ambiguous AP.

Place Of Birth.

Person[s] Overwhelmed By Acronyms. Take a benzodiazepine.

PO Box
Post Office Box.

Spanish: `poor.' Cognate with Old French pouvre (source of the English word poor) and Modern French pauvre. Words like poverty and pauper are also cognate. Interestingly, the equivalence of u and v before the seventeenth century has made it difficult to determine when the vee sound was lost in English pronunciation.

Parents of Ostomy Children. ``... a national network within the United Ostomy Association. Our goal is to offer support and information to the parents of children who through birth anomaly, disease or injury have had, or will have, ostomy or diversion surgery.'' See also colostomy.

{ Person | People } Of Color.

Picosecond Optical Calorimetry.

Point Of Contact.

Pocari Sweat
Name of a popular Japanese drink in the Gatorade market niche. The name is defined in romaji (Roman characters), and is apparently designed to seem odd in Japanese as well as English: Pocari translates approximately as the onomatopoeia `bonk,' like the sound made by a head experiencing mild impact trauma. It could be worse; vide BM.

On a related note, Shoko Asahara, the guru leader of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, sold his used bathwater to his followers for about US$200 a bottle. It was one of the few beverages he allowed them to drink (his blood, at $10K, was another), but at least he called it `miracle pond.' Related information at this LPF entry.

Also, the dominant powdered coffee creamer is called ``Creap.''

pocket door
A door that opens by sliding into a pocket within the wall. I never knew!

In beautiful Sedona, Arizona, there is a ``Poco Diablo Resort.'' I remember traveling in the beautiful Sedona area in the late 1980's, seeing all the vistas, which were strikingly red (iron oxides) and all the billboards and smaller advertisements for Poco Diablo Resort, which were just striking (iron and wood signs). I suppose whoever came up with the name wanted to suggest rustic old New Spanish days, so they traduced the name into Spanish, by looking up the words little and devil in an English-Spanish dictionary. And indeed, diablo means `devil' and poco means `little.' However, poco diablo does not mean `little devil' in Spanish. Instead, it means ¡soy un gringo estúpido!

The word poco is a Spanish adjective that means `little' in the sense of `not much' but not in the sense of `small.' It precedes and modifies a mass noun. The sense of `little' appropriate to a count noun is expressed by (the inequivalent) pequeño or chico (as in diablo pequeño or even pequeño diablo), by a diminutive ending (the most natural choice in this case -- diablito) or by a combination, the diminutive ending modifying the noun, the adjective, or both (as in diablito chiquitito, one you might encounter in a children's book). There is a very large number of such quantifier endings, but their use is subject to a mix of fashion and tradition, and not many rigid rules, so they provide plenty of nonce words like diablecito.

A few European languages -- Spanish, Italian, Polish, that I know of -- that have found themselves a bit short of words have gone the way of multiple endings. Often a diminutive or augmentative form of a word takes a specific new meaning. Thus, in Spanish, where la caja is `the box,' el cajón is not `the large box' but `the drawer.' This has the diminutive form el cajoncito (`the little drawer'). For ``large box,'' I recommend caja grande. For a slightly more complete list of forms, see the ppp entry.

Paulson Oil COmpany. ``[A] premier distributor of fuels and lubricants to the greater Chicagoland and Northern Indiana markets.''

POst-COlonial. Let's get together a post-independence movement to make that POst-ColOnial.

(Retrospective) Projection Onto Convex Sets (for super-resolution). Dang, that MRI stuff uses more than just linear algebra.

Post Office Code Standardization Advisory Group. Advises on pager codes. Defined a pager protocol that also goes by the name POCSAG.

A base station that broadcasts to POCSAG pagers (i.e., pagers that receive POCSAG protocol). A pocsagger converts text information in ASCII to POCSAG, a pager that displays text converts POCSAG to ASCII.

Periodically Oscillating Crystal Temperature.

POD, PoD, P.O.D.
Pay[ee] On Death.

Pay On Delivery. A different perspective on COD.

Plain Old Documentation. Perl terminology for documentation embedded in the source code. Delimited at the beginning by an equal sign in a place where a statement would be legal, and by =cut at the end. The pod2x directory contains programs to extract the documentation and convert to HTML, FrameMaker, a Unix man page, TeXinfo, or plain text.

Professional and Organizational Development. Acronym used by POD Network (also just POD, they're not very careful or consistent) -- Professional and Organizational Development NETWORK in Higher Education. They seem to be linguistically challenged -- they describe their goals and activities rather vaguely. I think they're about the people who organize universities' in-house continuing-education seminars for professors to improve their teaching techniques and staffers to improve their, uh, staffing techniques.

Proof Of Delivery. Like, receipt.

Point Of Entry. Generalization of Port of Entry.

(Of course, the word port itself is a specialization of the original meaning `door.')

PO-ed, PO'ed
PissED Off. Angry. Past and past participle of PO. Vide grammatical remarks at MP.

Center for Photonics and OptoElectronic Materials. Part of the Princeton Materials Institute (PMI).

Polar-Orbiting Environmental Satellite[s].

Protect Our Earth's Treasures. An animal-exploitation activist group. Recognizing that when an animal species comes to be exploited as a food, the enormous resources of the food industry can be mobilized to guarantee its continued existence, P.O.E.T. endeavors to popularize the mass consumption of endangered and threatened species. One of their most successful projects -- you've probably heard about it -- has been to distribute recipes featuring targeted species (giant armadillo burgers, pygmy hog chops, etc., with a side of elfin tree fern salad). Small insect species still present a problem for this approach, although ``spice'' ideas have been cooked up, such as pumpkin pie with ground puritan tiger beetle topping. Other efforts include, ummm, according to their website, umm, they were founded in 1984, umm... All I can find on their website is unappetizing stuff about lab animals. Apparently they want pain research and experiments on spinal-cord injuries to be conducted on humans instead of other animals. Where are the recipes?!

If it were pronounced with a long a, this word might represent any of these: One day I should probably take a vote and shorten the above list. Fortunately, however, it was entirely unnecessary for you to have read through the list, as you realized from the contrary-to-fact subjunctive (``were''). The a in poetaster is pronounced short, as in trash.

It used to be possible to define the poetaster briefly as a bad or poor poet. Things have gotten so bad, however, that the traditional poetaster should now be regarded as a noble paradigm to be exalted above the ordinary run of what are now loosely regarded as bad poets (or even poets). The traditional poetaster is ``an inferior rhymer, or writer of verses; a dabbler in poetic art'' (Webster's Revised Unabridged, 1913) or a ``writer of insignificant, meretricious, or shoddy poetry'' (American Heritage, 2000). What is implicit in these typical definitions is that the productions of a poetaster are poetry. Spilling ink at random across a page may be bad (we don't have an entry for modern art yet), but it is rarely bad poetry. In order to produce bad poetry with any degree of consistency, one must have some notion of what poetry is.

In short, the old poetaster was a poet, if a bad one. The writers of what is passed for poetry today are non-poets. They think that poetry is prose typeset in unjustified lines.

In ``Notes on Prosody,'' an appendix to his translation (1964) of Eugene Onegin, Vladimir Nabokov wrote this to begin his discussion of feet:

If by prosodies we mean systems or forms of versification evolved in Europe during this millennium and used by her finest poets, we can distinguish two main species, the syllabic system and the metrical one, and a subspecific form belonging to the second species (but not inconsistent with certain syllabic compositions), cadential poetry, in which all that matters is lilt depending on random numbers of accents placed at random intervals.
[If all this species/subspecific talk seems misplaced, recall that Nabokov was an accomplished butterfly taxonomist.]
A fourth form, which is specifically vague and is rather a catchall than a definite category (not yet having been instrumental in producing great poetry), takes care of unrhymed free verse, which, except for the presence of typographical turnpikes, grades insensibly into prose, from a taxonomic point of view.

Poetastry is not some confection of poetry and pastry, but the work (or at least the production) of poetasters.

Prose typeset in unjustified lines. (This is the modern definition. I gave up.)

As you can imagine from the definition, it's hard to get poetry published -- the linotypists rebel at the waste. It's easier to have it broadcast, particularly if it's written in a commercial genre (see the 43 beans entry for an example). Despite the low rates of emission, it is nevertheless necessary to protect the population at large from exposure to harmful poetry. (To understand the danger, carefully view the Arnold droppings at the touchstone entry. And that is mere poetastry.) For this reason, the public-safety agencies of the government work to prevent poets from earning more than a pitance. (If they had money, they would publish their work as magazine advertisements.)

Despite government efforts, some poetry manages to slip through. Here is the accident report from one such instance [described in translator David McDuff's introduction to Osip Mandelstam: Selected Poems (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1975), p. x.]:

Mandelstam's first poems date from 1908. There seems to have been some conflict between the poet and his mother about what course his life was to take, she preferring for him some securely established career to the life of a writer or journalist. Sergei Makovsky, the éminence grise [very appositely, this is Russian for `grisly imminence'] and editor of the literary journal Apollon, describes in his memoirs how one day the eighteen-year-old poet and his mother appeared together in the offices of the journal. Mandelstam's mother at once began to ask Makovsky to read her son's poems and to tell her if he saw any talent in them; she would agree to her son's continuing to write poetry only if Makovsky gave the seal of his approval. Makovsky says that he read one or two of the poems, did not find them particularly attractive, and was about to terminate the interview with some piece of formal politeness when he read in the young poet's face ``such an intense, agonized beseeching, that I immediately somehow gave in and went over to his side--for poetry, against the skin trade,'' and that he solemnly declared to the mother: ``Yes, madam, your son has talent.'' After this there was nothing left for Makovsky to do but print the poems so insistently offered him. This was Mandelstam's literary début.

Physics Of Failure. There, there -- it's not your fault! You got a bad grade on your strength-of-materials test because of fatigue!

Project On Government Oversight. Like jumping up and down and getting nowhere. We have met the enemy and he is us.

`Weather' in Polish. It can also mean `good weather' and `cheerfulness.'

(Data transmission) Path OverHead (cost). Cf. TOH.

Potential of Hydroxide (OH-) ion: -log[OH-]. [That's the common logarithm: log10.] A measure of alkalinity on a logarithmic scale. Complementary to pH, because by the law of mass action,

k = [H+] [OH-] ,

where k is about 10-14 at room temperature, so that

pH + pOH = 14.

More at the pH entry. I mean, why should I repeat myself?

(Data transmission) Path Overhead (cost) Indicator.

Hawaiian name for taro root paste, which is a staple there, in Samoa, and in other Pacific islands. Taro root is pulpy rather than fibrous, so the paste is made by mashing. That's called ``pounding'' to make it sound more colorfully ethnic. The taro is often allowed to ferment. Here's a hint: cook first, then mash.

A minor typographical error corrected in editions or reprints following the first. A term used by book collectors. Often the only way to distinguish a true first edition from others is by points. (See, for example, Allen Ahearn's Book Collecting.)

Percentage pOINT. Doubtless people have been using the word point to mean one one-hundredth part for a long time, occasionally in psephology and regularly in scattered other domains of study and activity. Nevertheless, it seems to me that a dam broke after the 2004 US national elections. There was so much analysis, and there were so many polls and surveys, that a psychological barrier was crossed and many more people felt that it was acceptable to elide the ``percentage.''

pois não
A Portuguese expression pronounced about as ``poyz NOW'' in English. It's best to approach this expression from Spanish. A word-by-word translation of the head term into Spanish is pues no, a common phrase meaning `but no' or `of course not.' The Portuguese phrase generally means the same thing, but in Brazil in the 1940's, my father encountered the paradoxical use of pois não in the sense of `yes.' Perhaps this began as irony and became standardized for a time, although there are other possibilities. [Pois] como não? and ¿[pues] cómo no? can be translated approximately literally as `[but] how not?' and more idiomatically in many cases as `how could it be otherwise?' or simply `of course!' One could imagine pois como não? evolving into pois não in its contradictory sense. It wouldn't be any stranger than people saying ``I could care less'' in English with the opposite sense of `I could hardly care less.' (See ICCL. Or don't. Do what you want, ICCL.) The strange pois não usage seems to have abated, so there's hope for those who really could care less about paradoxical English as well. Confusion alone ought to be enough to explain why the usage didn't (AFAIK) last. I asked a fellow from near São Paolo about it in January 2005, and he said that it was an expression used now by grandfatherly sorts, but by no one else.

Among the regional languages of Spain, probably the one that most closely resembles Portuguese is Galician (called galego in Galician and gallego in Standard Spanish). The last time the Portuguese-speakers held a major international convention to hammer out a standard spelling of Portuguese, they invited a delegation of Galician observers. Nevertheless, Galician is closer to Spanish than to Portuguese. I mention it, however, because of an intriguing item I found in a list of English faux amis in Galician that occurs in a Galician Wikipedia page. The word is absolutely, which is translated as totalmente, completamente. The contributor of this item expects the English word to be misunderstood as meaning en absoluto, which would have to be rendered as `not at all' or `absolutely not' in English.

Just to be clear and thorough: Galician en is a preposition like English `in,' used here to make an adverbial from the adjective absoluto. The Spanish adverb absolutamente, which means `absolutely,' does not seem to occur in any similar form in Galician. The best source I have handy for Galician is the Diccionario de Usos Castellano Gallego edited by Xosé María Freixedo Tabarés and Fe Álvarez Carracedo (Madrid: Editoriál AKAL, 1985), which translates Spanish terms into Galician. There, absolutamente is translated as ``inteiramente [`entirely'], de todo en todo.''

This entry is a spin-off of the ou entry. Maybe you want to go back and refresh your memory.

Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. An Indian acronym that evidently expresses a POV. An alternative POV is built into the country name Pakistan.

It's not a polygon. It is the surname of Leopold Pokagon, chief of the Potawatomi in southwest Michigan, during the early part of the nineteenth century. In the Chicago Treaty of 1833, the US government claimed most of the Potawatomi land remaining in the area, and many of the Potawatomi were forced to move west. Pokagon was able to keep his band in the area because he held title to a bit of land near Niles. Later he sold that land for food and a parcel of 874 acres at Silver Creek near Dowagiac.

Petroleum, Oils, and Lubricants. As Heller illustrated in Catch-22, the military has a special talent for ingenuously laying out its stupidity in the most explicit terms. For example, the DOD defines this POL (it's official) as a ``broad term which includes all petroleum and associated products used by the Armed Forces.'' This is obviously incorrect, since the military uses plastics and even fertilizer, to say nothing of pumps, grommets and rakes, which latter must be the ``associated products.''

More later. I want to add something to the Cu entry.

Those who acknowledge a distinction recognize that this is used to mean both (1) a POLitician, and (2) a corrupt POLitician.

Physicians' OnLine (Network).

POLIOmyelitis. The name is constructed from the Greek poliós (`gray') + myelós (marrow) + -itis. Cf. fahl.

Poli Sci, poli-sci
POLItical SCIence. Pronounced ``Polly Sigh.'' I guess that whenever it is written with neither space nor hyphen, it's an acronym, but polisci looks like it must mean `police' in some LCTL. See Pol. Sci.

My informant on the subject of the Romanian language and I have been talking about her discipline off and on for at least a couple of weeks. She's pursuing a Ph.D. in Political Science, and her area of concentration is international politics. She just came by and said she realized that in all this time she had neglected to mention the best book that she knows of in her discipline: Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, by Graham T. Allison and Philip Zelikow (xv+416pp.). She was not aware that this is the second edition (1999) of a book that was first published in 1971 by Graham Allison alone (xii+338 pp.). I haven't had a look yet.

The language of Poland (.pl). With its strings of four or more consonants, (e.g., the word czczy, meaning `empty') this language is regarded as very difficult to pronounce. When non-Poles try to speak it, Poles who hear them give a slightly pained, indulgent smile. The pain comes from the effort to suppress laughter. They're keeping a secret: the secret is that it's actually impossible to pronounce Polish. Not just for non-Poles. Early in the twelfth century, Polish ceased to be a spoken language. When no foreigners are present, Poles speak in another language, usually !Kung or Welsh.

Poland is a kind of experimental theater of nationalism. Poles had already tried the more common experiments, like existing without any territory, so to top it they tried shifting their borders a couple of hundred kilometers west on a moment's notice. (In Transylvanian dance, this is known as the ``Time Warp.'' It is explicated in the documentary ``The Rocky Horror Picture Show.'') Similarly, other countries, like Ireland and India, have already tried having official languages that no more than a small minority can speak. Attempting to break new ground, and because virtually all Poles maintain to foreigners that they speak Polish, they have established dialects, so that you can fail to speak Polish in two or three different ways, automatically! In addition to eastern and western alleged pronunciations, there is also a special dialect ``spoken'' in the Gdansk area. Back in the eighties, they tried to get together an army to make the Gdansk dialect a language. This effort broke down, but they ended up forming an independent trade union that eventually led to the first peaceful surrender of power by an established communist government in Europe. All because of linguistics.

And Australian! Oh, man, don't get me started. It's not a dialect at all, just an advertising gimmick that got out of hand. (Rather like the joke called C.) ``Australian speech'' was invented by the tourist office many years ago, after a marketing study to determine what kind of accent and colloquialisms are thought colorful by people who don't already think that koalas are cute enough to visit. (That ``billabong'' stuff? First they invented the vocabulary, later they developed folklore around it.) Anyway, the subsequent advertising campaign was so successful and memorable that they've had a struggle to keep up appearances ever since. In the run-up to the 2000 Olympics, they spent millions on a campaign to teach the locals how the accent is supposed to go. Anybody who couldn't get the hang of it had to relocate out of the Sydney area for the duration. (Normally, Australians just talk like everybody else.)

You know, I once got an email protesting that czczy doesn't have four or more consonants (presumably because cz is a digraph representing what the writer regards as a single consonant). My correspondent's problem was that she was taking this entry seriously--er, I mean too seriously, er, too literally, yeah, that's it. Obviously I meant either that Polish has words with four or more letters together that represent consonants, or I was thinking of the ch sound the way it is represented in the IPA, or in German and Catalunian orthography: as a t sound followed by a sh sound.

People say that if you look long enough at a correctly spelled word, even when you know it is correctly spelled, it can start to look odd or wrong. That must depend on the word; it seems likelier to happen with ``weird'' than ``and.'' But viewing this phenomenon another way, it suggests that we don't easily notice spelling oddities when we are habituated to them. For example, in German it takes four letters (tsch) to spell the sound of cz in Polish. (It also takes four -- dsch -- to represent the sound of j in English. Hence, they write Dschungel and Dschihad for what we write more compactly as, uh, `tropical rain forest' and `no comment.') Even taking ``consonant'' in a narrow sense, English and German have some fairly dense clusters of them.

A word commonly used to exemplify English consonant clustering is ``strengths,'' which really only has three initial and three final consonant sounds. I thought of this recently when I bought a book by mistake. There was a used-book sale at an online bookstore I use, and as the sale was about to end I noticed a book that intrigued me: ``Rechtsprache in der Frühen Neuzeit.'' That was either the title as I misread it or as someone mistyped it, and it means `Proper [presumably German] Pronunciation in the Early Modern Era.' When it arrived, I discovered that the title begins with the word Rechtssprache. With the extra s, it's actually a book about legal language in the early modern period, and considerably less interesting to me. The chtsspr string represents six distinct consonant sounds (again three final ones, from the first syllable, and three initial ones, from the second). Even in not-very-careful speech, you can hear the difference between this s and ss: The s preceding the p has a sh sound, and the s that may precede it has an s sound.

The confusion ultimately arises from some of the multiple meanings associated with right. Recht is an adjective meaning, among other things, `right, correct' and also a noun meaning `right, law.' The extra s in the second case is a genitive inflection, related to 's in English.

Und die Moral von der Geschicht?
Two ``right''s can make a wrong.

political arithmetic
An old term for social or economic statistics, used in the latter half of the seventeenth century and in the eighteenth century. Early England political arithmeticians were John Graunt, Sir William Petty, Charles Davenant and Gregory King. In 1696, basing himself on government tax records (particularly those of a hated ``hearth tax''), King estimated the population and income of various social classes, ``calculated for the year 1688.'' It was evidently the first such survey of its kind, at least for England and Wales, and has been widely used from Macaulay on. His total-population estimate of 5,500,500 for that time is consistent with later estimates.

King divided the various classes into two large categories: those ``increasing the wealth of the country'' and those ``decreasing'' it. For a household to increase the wealth of the country, in this context, meant for it to have expenses smaller than income. Those who relied on poor relief, charity, and theft to, so to speak, balance their books, were in the decreasing-the-wealth category. It's an interesting terminology, because it confronts us explicitly with the idea that income to a person is a measure of the person's contribution to national wealth. On this reasoning, if I went to Las Vegas and hit the jackpot, I'd suddenly become a major benefactor of the country. (Come to think of it, I might suddenly become reacquainted with some long-forgotten good ol' buddies who thought just that.)

In an agrarian economy, where a large portion of the food is grown by individual families for their own use, where much cloth is homespun and bread home-baked, etc., and where much trade is still based on barter (i.e., rather literal ``trade''), it is very difficult to assign monetary value to the flows of goods and services. With all that said, his results can be surprising to a reader in our time, because King estimated more than half the population as ``decreasing the wealth of the country.'' Equally surprising, or at least corroborative, is that neither he nor his contemporaries found this surprising. When Cervantes in the sixteenth century, and Disraeli in the nineteenth, wrote that the poor and the rich constituted two distinct nations, they were describing salient and substantial realities of their times. In Gregory King's time, he estimated the two nations' populations at 2,675,500 (``increasing the wealth'') and 2,825,000 (``decreasing''). More of Gregory King's findings are discussed at the UOSA entry.

political commentator
Illiterate mind-reader.

politically astute
Unencumbered by inconvenient scruples.

political opinion
Invalid generalization.

poll date
In the days before the presumptive Democratic candidate for president Barack Obama (as he was then) announced Joe Biden as his choice of running mate, a couple of organizations ran polls to determine how well-known or well-regarded long-time Senator Joseph Biden, Jr. was. A CBS News/New York Times poll conducted August 15-20, sampling 1014 registered voters, found that 13% had a favorable opinion of Biden and 12% had an unfavorable opinion. In a Rasmussen poll, the corresponding numbers were 43% and 38%. Results from both polls were released on August 23, 2008, the day Senator Barack Obama announced the selection. (The linked CBS/NYT poll might still be accessible.)

I originally planned to make this contrast exhibit A of a ``consistency check'' entry, since the differences in the percentages found by the two polls seemed far too large to be explained by any reasonable estimate of the random measurement uncertainties. However, it seems the Rasmussen poll was conducted on the evening of August 22, at the end of a week of public speculation about whom Obama would choose. During that week Biden was widely touted as the or at least a front-runner for the nod. So perhaps many people made up their minds about Biden during the last few days of media coverage.

So it's really not so interesting. Especially now, years later. But I hated to discard the entry after all that exhausting work, so here it is.

I don't propose to define them, I just needed an entry at which to list them. What do you think?

At a seminar given by the late Mr. Gallup, I learned that many of the polling organizations use presidential polling as a kind of loss-leader -- demonstrating their capabilities, accuracy, utility at a loss they can recoup with the business they attract as a result. Since that time (1980), though, things may have changed. There's a lot more polling, for one thing, and a lot of it is conducted by organizations that primarily serve political campaigns.

(Many of the organizations, or the principals of those organizations, tend to work primarily for candidates of one or the other major US party, hence the R's and D's below.)

A kind of metapoll site is <PollingReport.com>, which collects in a single place the results distributed free by many of the best-known news and polling organizations. Notably absent from this collection are the results obtained by Rasmussen. (The omission is not explained, but it may be a judgment against Rasmussen's automated-voice polling methods. In the end, Rasmussen had the most accurate overall and state-by-state predictions of the presidential vote in 2004.) The RCP website posted similar collections during the election year 2004, yet as late as February 2005 it had barely started comparing polls for the 2006 races and had few polls for the 2008 presidential contest. Nothing at all for 2010, and that was less than six years off! (No, I'm not a political news junkie. I'm a political news junkie in denial.) Electoral-Vote.com has a Democratic tilt and the focus you would guess from the domain name. That site also offers largely meaningless linear least-squares fits (three-month baselines!) to state polling data. It's good someone is doing this, and it's very good not to be the one wasting his time doing it. The relatively nonpartisan National Journal used to have good content but eventually made most of its site accessible by subscription only, so I've eliminated links to their site.

The list below is mostly of organizations or temporary collaborations set up for the US election cycle in 2000 (subsequently updated in a haphazard manner). Sometimes different groups collaborated in polling but did separate analyses; sometimes a news organization joined with two political pollsters, choosing one Republican and one Democratic in an attempt to balance out the biases. The most closely watched contest in 2000 was, of course, that for the presidency. In the event, it was too close to call, and most pollsters had more or less predicted that.

One organization that deserves to be singled out for special recognition is the infamous Rupert Murdoch's Fox ``News'', pretty much universally recognized to be slanted to the Republican side. Why can't he just toe the liberal line like the rest of the media?! Mr. Murdoch craves respect, but he doesn't understand that not everyone is as simple as the people he targets as audience. Oh, we've added another Murdoch-related entry.

A couple of university-based regional pollsters:

Pol. Sci.
POLitical SCIence. The name of an academic department. In a small number of more honest universities, ``Politics'' is the name of that academic department. Politics is an activity in all academic departments. None of this has anything too excessive to do with reality.

Pol. Sci. is a formal abbreviation. Informally, ``Poli Sci'' and ``poli-sci'' are used, with variable punctuation and capitalization, and the pronunciation ``Polly Sigh.''

``Police Science'' doesn't seem to have an abbreviation, sir. Cf. Poly Sci.

Short for polycrystalline silicon.

Polyester and cotton fabric.

Used for shrink-wrap. Also for extremely cheap carpets. We were looking over the rolled-up carpets in a closet with a professional cleaner, and he said the olefin carpets cost more to clean than to buy new. (The price schedule is about the same for cleaning any kind of carpet.)

Poly Sci
An album by John Forté. Rap or hip-hop or something.

Poly. Sci.
POLYmer SCIence. Abbreviation, as in J. Poly. Sci. The abbreviation alone is rarely pronounced as a name.

In chemical terms this is usually just an oligomer of words bound by conjunctions. And since words don't generally ``condense out'' when the monomers are conjoined, yes: it's an addition oligomer. Usually an addition co-oligomer.

Maybe an example would be helpful (from Yeats):

When you are old and gray and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book.

Polysyndeton is a good thing to have when the comma-producing nations form an export cartel. Cf. asyndeton.

Passenger-Operated Machine. A ticket-vending machine. Usually operated by people who plan to become passengers, and who typically have been passengers in the past, but who -- oh, never mind. I imagine you can figure it out, and if you can't there may be a fellow in a uniform and a cramped booth who might help you. The acronym might be unique to LUL.

Phase-Of-Moon (as an attributive noun) or Phase Of the Moon. Usage: ``The PLL is POM-dependent; maybe someone will fix it.''

PolyOxyMethylene (plastic). Also called acetal and ACL. San Diego Plastics, Inc. has a short page of information on Acetal.

Palm Oil Millers' Association. It was set up in 1985 to promote and foster good relations among millers throughout Malaysia. This apparently doesn't include hoe-downs.

Pulsed OrganoMetallic Beam Epitaxy. A method of controlling stoichiometry and film quality in the growth of cuprate superconductors. See S. J. Duray, et al., ``Pulsed Organometallic beam epitaxy of complex oxide films,'' Applied Physics Letters vol. 59, #12, pp. 1503-1505 (16 Sept. 1991).

pomo, po-mo
POst-MOdern. Generalized post be-bop. Always in mixed or lower case, because that way `m' is almost indistinguishable from `rn.' This misunderstanding is probably the principal reason for the popularity of postmodern whatnot. For an alternative opinion (that pomo is evil, probably), visit the Pondering Postmodernism page kept by the National Association of Scholars (NAS) as a resource for journalists and glossary compilers looking for a quick target to ridicule.

Eric Idle (Monty Python emeritus) published The Road to Mars : A Post-Modem Novel in 1999. You need to know that authors normally have little or no influence on the cover art their publishers select. On the cover, the subtitle is shown on a paper tape being pulled out of the red planet by the sort of hand that might appear in the Monty Python opening, closing, or in-the-middle credits. On the paper tape, Post-Modem is written in ALL CAPS! Grumble. The man has been ill-served by agents. His last regular acting gig was on the Brooke Shields vehicle Suddenly Susan (I understand it was supposed to be a comedy) shortly before it was canceled, leaving Eric idle.

Visit this postmodernism generator for a completely original pomo essay, complete with footnotes, generated while-U-wait. Hey look, we've got our own stretch of pomo entries starting at postmodern.

Spanish, `paste, cream.'

A non-precision instrument for exhorting crowds and drawing their attention. An accessory for cheerleaders. Reminiscent of the ``flappers'' of Laputa described in Swift's Gulliver's Travels.

What a complete idiot I am! All these years I've been calling it a ``pom-pom''!

Problem-Oriented Medical Records.

Passive Optical Network.

Pump Octane Number. Also called Road Octane Number by people in the field. Get the complete low-down at the Octane Number entry so you can see why this is a bad idea.

They say the holiday season is a ponnus. That's all I know.

It's mentioned in at least one of the Harry Potter books, in a non-holiday context.

I guess ponnus is a second-declension masculine noun in Latin.

The Irish word pus (`lip, mouth') is used in the US and Ireland as a slang word with various senses that may be summarized as `unhappy mouth or face.' It may mean an `ugly face,' or a `glum or angry face' (sourpuss more often refers to a person than the face) or `frown,' or it may, in the OED's efficient description, refer to ``the mouth or face (considered as the object of a blow).''

In Hebrew, panim (stress on second syllable) is `face.' (Masculine, plural in form, construed singular -- a curiosity discussed at the chaim entry.) In Yiddish, the word is rendered in the Ashkenazi Hebrew pronunciation. In particular, the vowels are different (just as Yisrael in Modern and Sephardi pronunciations is Yisroel in Ashkenazi) and it is stressed on the first syllable. I've encountered it as a neuter singular, and pronounced something like ponum. ``Das busche ponum'' is `the shamed face.'

A section of the cranium located at the base of the brain, in front of the cerebellum. It has been supposed that it coordinates the activities of various lobes of the brain.

Program on Noncollegiate Sponsored Instruction. National PONSI ``is a not-for-profit educational advisory service that links learning experiences that take place outside of college classrooms to college degrees. How? National PONSI evaluates learning experiences [in the work environments of participating US employers -- member organizations] and makes the results available to colleges to use as a guide in awarding credit for noncollegiate course work.''

The US Postal Service is not and has not been a member organization. Why did I even wonder?

Pennsylvania, Ontario and New York. The PONY league was an eight-team Class D baseball league that existed shortly after WWII. As if you needed to know that.

Generally, someone else's translation (intended as a crutch for one's own). More specifically, a trot.

Rodney Dangerfield died yesterday, October 5, 2004. He built a pretty respectable comedy career around a persona who ``don't get no respect.'' He got in relatively early on the trend of well-known actors burnishing their careers as the voices of cartoon characters in 1991, when he was the voice of Rover Dangerfield, a dog who don't get no respect. (Jim Backus, discussed at this other entry, was the voice of Mr. Magoo much earlier, but I don't think that counts as part of the trend. I mean, it was just some voice-acting work he did. It didn't really advance his career, did it? He got stuck on Gilligan's Island! Barbara Feldon has done voice work too: see the 99 entry.)

Anyway, Rover Dangerfield is a Bassett hound, and the animated feature didn't get much respect. I suppose the breed was chosen to suggest the, ah, body style of Rodney, but the dogs that really don't get any respect are poodles. They tend to be regarded as at least somewhat ridiculous (because they are). As it happens, I had already been planning to put in a poodles entry because I noticed that I had two books that mention poodles in the title:

  1. When Did Wild Poodles Roam the Earth? by David Feldman. It's another in the author's ImponderablesTM series. (Another one is Do Penguins Have Knees? Penguins are sort of avian poodles, gracefulness- and respect-wise.) Feldman or one of his researchers posed the poodle question to the biology department at UCLA, and making a reply was delegated to Nancy Purtill, an AA there. She wrote: ``The general feeling is that, while there is no such thing as a stupid question, this one comes very close.'' Then she explained the obvious. Even people who ask questions about poodles get no respect.

    Sally Kinne, of the Poodle Club of America, Inc., noted that the earliest certain depictions of poodles in art date from the fifteenth century. (In work by Albrecht Dürer, of all people. I never figured him for the late medieval Norman Rockwell.) The word poodle is a transliteration of German Pudel, short for Pudelhund. Hund, of course, means `hound, dog.' Pudel is a pool of water, cognate with English puddle. The verb pudeln is `to splash [around] in the water'; pudelnass means `dripping wet.' The poodle was originally bred as a water retriever. (Water retrievers don't retrieve water, you understand; they retrieve in or from the water. Everything about poodles is ridiculous.) I guess that poodles, like penguins, seem better adapted in the water. Anybody can seem awkward when out of his element. (For a riverine version of a similar concept, see the fünf entry.)

    When I was a little boy in Argentina, I was at first taught Spanish and German (my mother's mother tongue), until it was clear that English would be a higher priority (we were emigrating). My mother claims that the decision to finally stop teaching me German came when we were walking one day, and as she was trying to remember the German word for puddle to warn me, I walked into the puddle she was going to warn me about.

  2. Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play, by Ben Watson. The book actually has a lot of thoughtful references to poodles. I'm going to have to get back to this entry later.

Rodney Dangerfield's last movie, incidentally, was Angels with Angles (2004), in which he played the role of Dog, er, God. The angles/angels pun, incidentally, is literally ancient.

Programación Orientada a Objetos. ``Object-Oriented Programming' OOP in Spanish.

As it happens, there's also a small town named Poo in Spain -- it's on the northern coast, about 3 km from Llanes. In English, poo evokes the childish or euphemistic term poo (approximately equivalent to poop, but the use of poo as a verb is very childish). It also evokes Pooh, as in Winnie-the-Pooh. POO or OOP -- either way it sounds faintly ridiculous.

Pool, Daniel
Daniel Pool wrote a book entitled What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew (1993). This isn't meant to imply that Charles Dickens knew what Jane Austen ate, at least not intimately and particularly. The subtitle is ``From Fox Hunting to Whist -- the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England.'' The principal criticism I have encountered is that Pool is insufficiently attentive to variations over the course of the century. I'm not qualified to judge, but it can only be a matter of degree, as he does try to give some indication of how the facts of daily life changed over time. The website called A Victorian Passage has a great deal of information in the same genre (it also features a profusion of careless misspellings, malapropisms, incoherence, and other signs of a standard education, for those who like that).

Wherever in this glossary I write ``according to Pool'' vel sim., I am citing this book. My own complaint about the book is that there's not enough about what Jane Austen or anyone else did eat or drink, even at Charles Dickens's limited level of awareness. I could say that there's too little about food for my taste. Well, I could say it, but I wouldn't. I'd only say it if I were willing to perpetrate a distasteful pun. You can trust me. (Write it? That's something else altogether.)

To be fair, Pool does drop some comments on drippings into three different places in the book (see the glossary as well as the index). And in the section on dinner parties, there's half a paragraph on the food. It reminds me of James Davidson's celebrated Courtesans and Fishcakes (1998), punnily subtitled ``The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens.'' In the introduction he writes (p. xix):

While scholarly attention has been distracted elsewhere, some extraordinary gaps have been allowed to open up in our knowledge of ancient culture and society. The lack of work on Greek heterosexuality and (until recently and outside France) ancient food are [sic] particularly striking. ... Anyone with time on their hands and a desire to make a substantial contribution to human knowledge will find few more promising areas of investigation than Greek bring-your-own `contribution-dinners', Attic cakes, the `second' dessert table, the consumption of game, gambling, perfumes, flower wreaths, hairstyles, horse-racing, pet birds and all the various entertainments of the symposium, including slapstick, stand-up comedy and acrobatics.

Pocket Outlook Object Model. POOM? For PIM: allows adaptation of Windows CE applications to interact with standard Microsoft PIM application included in ROM on Windows CE devices.

Package-On-Package. An approach to three-dimensional microelectronic circuit integration.

Permanently Out of Print.

Point Of Presence. On the internet. A functioning IP address, in effect.

Point Of Purchase. Place where a retail sale is made. The term could also be interpreted to refer to the point on an object by which it is held fast (after the old meaning of the word purchase), but to do so would be to commit deconstruction and anachronism -- to be postmodern and premodern at the same instant.

It might also be the point, in the sense of purpose of or reason for, a purchase. That kind of point is rare, however.

Post Office Protocol. Rather than maintain a full-time message transport system (MTS), a `client host' sends and receives mail via a maildrop service. POP is a simple protocol for this; IMAP is one with greater functionality. As of June 1996, we're at version 3 (POP3).

Pop Art
A category of modern art that represents the kitsch of a modern plastic world. (It's the sort of undemanding ironic work even an Andy Warhol could do.) You know, once upon a time, the hip avant garde bohemian people thought it was profound to mock the modest material aspirations of the somewhat well-to-do. A slow movie called the ``The Graduate'' was regarded as an incisive moral commentary. Then the avant garde got some money and found other things to mock.

The Protean semantic range of the word pop may suggest many explanations of how it came to name an art genre, but the origin of the name is certain. Richard Hamilton (born Feb. 1922) is considered the father of Pop Art, and the name arose from his most famous picture, Just What is It That Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing?, a collage of modern consumer advertisements and artefacts (Hoover vacuum, sofa, TV, comic strip) and images of the body-beautiful. One figure holds a lollipop inscribed with the word ``Pop.''

Hamilton went on to design the cover of the Beatles' ``White Album'' in 1968.

Corn kernels exploded by pressure of superheated moisture inside. [In British usage, corn is called ``maize.''] (Not just any corn will do either: you can microwave your frozen corn to a steaming ash (not really), but you can't make it pop.) Special cooking utensils for popping corn are called popcorn poppers, but the ``popper'' alone means various different things.

This comprehensive glossary contains yet more information on corn at high speeds.

In Spanish, maíz and choclo are both used for corn (in the American sense). Pop is not a word in Spanish; in Argentina (though not much elsewhere) popcorn is called pochoclo.

popcorn noise
Noise with pink (1/f²) power spectrum, associated with individual recombination events, a particular problem in OpAmps and other analog amplifiers. This noise was identified and named by Bob Widlar. Unlike most other noise sources, this noise consists of individual events whose magnitude distribution does not have a maximum at zero and is not even symmetric about zero. Popcorn noise consists of isolated spikes in the output voltage (always in the same initial direction and quickly back), and the voltage height of spikes has a mean value that is significantly (i.e., by more than about a mV) different from zero.

Mexican word for a `drinking straw.'

A Jalapeño pepper deep-fried in batter. Apparently this is a registered trademark of Anchor Food Products, Inc. of Appleton, Wisconsin.

It doesn't give me a real good feeling, when I read the words ``food product.'' Why can't they call them ``foods''? Is there something about these ``products'' that makes them food-like, but not quite completely foodful?

Sir Karl Raimund Popper (1902-). You can tell a lot about a philosopher from his picture.

Hits (doses) of amyl nitrate. Makes people do sexual things they probably wouldn't do in their right minds.

Jesse Jackson -- the famous one, not the son -- used the word poppycock in an editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times published July 18, 2006. I thought that was worth mentioning, obviously, or else why would you be reading it here, huh? What a fuddy-duddy old word from a guy who used to be cool before he began his run for the White House (1980).

Reverend Jackson was writing under the title ``False piety is wrong cure for Dems.'' The article didn't mention the junior Senator from Jackson's state of Illinois, Barak Obama. In a widely-discussed speech in D.C. the previous March 28, Obama had urged Democrats to pretend to respect voters' religions even though they think it's silly superstition, although he didn't say it quite that way. Instead what he did say was that he was a believing Christian, which I suppose you could interpret uncynically. After all, what motive would the senator have for insincerity besides the desire for success in politics? So Jesse was probably not taking a dig at Barak. After all, what motive would he have for insincerity?

The word poppycock had gotten prime TV exposure during the debate between Democratic Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman and his primary opponent Ned Lamont. Maybe Jesse heard it there. (This analysis is reminiscent of one way that scholars used to try to order Shakespeare's plays: they'd assume that he played one of the parts of each play, and that the words he memorized for that part would crop up unusually frequently in the script for his next play.) The day after the debate, Lieberman campaigned at the Athenian Diner...

He laughed along as DeLauro and a few other friends at the Athenian tried to cheer him up and cheer him on, poking fun at Lamont's use of the word poppycock in the debate, a term conveying his Wasp-millionaire [WASP sic] upbringing. ``Lamont's a pup, momma's little rich boy,'' chimed in one Lieberman friend.
[This is from an article by Meryl Gordon (``Joe Lieberman's War'') for New York magazine.]

I hope they criticized Lamont's awkward use of it as common noun: ``He brings up a lot of poppycock about the days when I was on the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Finance.'' You have to be careful about the quantifiers you use. A praecisio like ``that's so much poppycock'' works, but ``too much poppycock'' inappropriately suggests that there is an acceptable quantity or level. ``A lot of poppycock'' is not as bad, but it implies that there could be ``just a little poppycock.'' At least he didn't make it countable. Play it safe: use the word as an interjection.

One of these days I'll have to track down Jesse's use of ``blasphemy'' in connection with MLK, Jr., and a California ballot proposition back in 1996 or so.

Popular Science. A monthly magazine of technology. Considering what a weasel word popular is next to science, it's not a bad magazine.

Preferred by fools.

population explosion
It is claimed that the sociologist and demographer Kingsley Davis, dead in 1997 at age 88, coined the term ``population explosion,'' but Malthus certainly deserves credit for the idea.

Latin: `destroyer, ravager, spoiler, plunderer.' not what I'd expect either. The meaning follows from the verb populare, `to populate.' The latter was used also in the sense `to fill, to spread out.' A populator satisfied this sense of the word by spreading destruction, laying waste. I'm not kidding. According to Lewis and Short (no, not Lewis and Martin), the word populator may not be pre-Augustan.

Post Office Protocol, version 3. The current version as of June 1996, defined in RFC 1939.

Pacific Ocean Region. A range of longitudes for geosynchronous satellites.

PORtrait. Abbreviation used in the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature. Plural ``pors.''

Power-On Reset.

Spanish pronoun typically Englished as `for' or `by.' It's not an arbitrary connection. Things done both for and by an entity are usually done on behalf of, or for the benefit of, that entity -- regardless whether done by the entity for by another (for the entity). See, for example, the occurrence of ``for or by'' in the legal language quoted at the FACA entry. An extended discussion of this ambiguity occurs at the UDI entry.

Palm Oil Refiners' Association of Malaysia

French, `pig fish.' Origin of English word porpoise.

P or I
Radio geniuses' pronunciation of PRI (Public Radio International).

The Palm Oil Research Institute of Malaysia.

Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was first elected to the US Senate in 1980. At the time, he liked to describe himself as ``just a hog farmer from New Hartford.'' Eventually, he rose to become the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

pork rinds
Why would I put information about pork rinds here? That's too obvious. Instead, I'm going to tell you about the Irish Kosher Deli. It's on the southbound side of Route 23, the last business before Edison Road. This is near the University of Notre Dame, at (near but not in) South Bend, Indiana. It's Irish in the sense that it welcomes students from ND (``the Fighting Irish''). It's a kosher deli in the sense that it's a delicatessen that keeps kosher, so they don't sell pork rinds. They just opened in May 2003. Jazz on Thursday evenings. I like to give local businesses a little publicity. We also have an entry for Mendoza's Guitars. Erasmus Books is next up. But first I have to tell you that in the days after I wrote the words immediately preceding, the Irish Kosher Deli folded. Closed its doors. Kaput. Fini. Friday July 25, 2003. It's been that kind of season. The Indian restaurant called Malabar, just a block away, also closed a few months ago. I don't understand why -- they haven't had any customers in years, so what could have changed to make them close? The Thai restaurant a couple of blocks away on Ironwood closed too. The restaurant business is tough, ferocious. It's dog-eat-dog. Okay, maybe that's not the best expression.

Our pork-rind information is at the cracklings and SFA entries.

Palm Oil Registration and Licensing Authority of Malaysia.

porous Si
Porous Silicon is made by etching silicon in HF solution under an applied field (the Silicon itself is an electrode). The electric field inhomogeneities resulting from etching nonuniformities are such as to produce a kind of positive feedback: more-deeply-etched regions experience faster etching action, so an oriented dendritic structure arises. The resulting material exhibits blue luminescence which is not yet understood. The Cardona group has a short overview.

PORtraitS. Abbreviation used in the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature. Singular ``por.''

Nautical usage, also adopted by air transport workers. The left side, as determined by an observer in the vehicle, when vehicle and observer are right side up, and observer is looking ``forward'' (in the normal direction of travel of the vessel or vehicle). Cf. starboard.

Spanish, `bearer.' ``Al portador'' written on the ``paguese por este cheque a'' line is the equivalent of ``To bearer'' written on the ``pay to the order of'' on a check.

portfolio employee
Independent contract employee; consultant.

A heavy curtain hung across a doorway. Since the word is perhaps not yet entirely naturalized from the French, you can display your erudition en passant by writing the word as portière. Here's an unnecessarily long example of the use of this word in a loose sense. (Don't worry if it makes no sense.)

  The mealy look of men today is the result of momism and so is the pinched and baffled fury in the eyes of womankind. I said a while ago that I had been a motherless minister's son and implied that I had been mauled by every type of mom produced in this nation. I pointed out that the situation was one on which the moms would try to fix their pincers. I did not bother to prod at any misgivings they might feel about what the rude minister's boy, trained in snoopery by the example of the moms, might have found out about the matriarchy and its motivations through hanging around sewing clubrooms, hiding in heavy draperies, and holing up in choir lofts. Rather, I let any moms and adherents of momism who may be reading this slug along in the happy belief that, whether or not I knew it, they had got me off base.
  Now, really.
  Some of the doting ones, ready to write off all I have said if I will only make up and shove myself back into the groove for them, are now about to be clipped--but good. For, by a second contumelious revelation, I have caught onto all of middle-aged, middle-class, earth-owning Mrs. America that I happened to miss in the portieres. Hold your seats, ladies. I have been a clerk in a department store. Not merely that, but I have been a clerk behind the dress goods remnant counter. And not only that, but I have served and observed the matriarchy from the vantage point during sales. If there is a woman still on her feet and not laughing, nab her, because that will mark her as a ringleader in this horrid business.

(This is from p. 199 of Generation of Vipers, in the famous or infamous chapter 11, ``Common Women,'' All italics above are in the original.)

POS, p.o.s.
Parts Of Speech.

Permanently Out of Stock.

Philosophy Of Science. Science, that is, per se. Science is composed of many particular sciences, and a few of those sciences have philosophies (in some sense of ``have,'' discussed below). The main example is quantum mechanics, but classical mechanics had a philosopher, Clifford Truesdale, so I suppose you could call his ``Rational Mechanics'' a philosophy of classical mechanics. Anyhow, the examples aside, I just wanted to note that the relation of science to its specialized branches is not the same as that of philosophy of science to the various (at least two) philosophies of those specialized branches. The philosophy of science is not composed of the philosophies the particular sciences.

Physician Office System.

p.o.s., POS
Piece Of Something. Something in particular. Pejorative.

Plasma Opening Switch. There was a special issue of IEEE Transactions Plasma Science, vol. PS-15 (1987) dedicated to plasma opening switches.

Point-Of-Sale. Often the cash register. Use in the sense of ``purpose of sale'' is unattested, but it would be cool.

Prefix post-, as it occurs in many Spanish words such as posguerra (`postwar') and posmoderno (`postmodern').

Product-Of-Sums. (I.e., a logic function expressed as the universal AND of individual terms constructed by ORing the function arguments or their logical complements.) All logic functions can be expressed in POS form, but if a certain term appears in many of the sums, then a more efficent expression (either on paper or silicon) can involve separating out the common term. Cf. SOP form.

Public Opinion Strategies. A polling firm, its own subentry resting unobtrusively like a fly on the wall of our pollsters list. It describes itself as ``a survey research company specializing in corporate and public policy research.'' Its campaign polling is for Republican candidates.

Petrotechnical Open Software Corporation. ``...a not-for-profit corporation, is dedicated to facilitating integrated business processes and computing technology for the exploration and production (E&P) segment of the international petroleum industry.''

Here in this secluded, out-of-the-way part of the glossary, I am prepared to make a private admission: when I created this site, it was intended as a joke, the absurdity lying in the ostentation of creating an internationally accessible resource for a rather local and really completely informal lunch group. Having seen multiple home pages dedicated to the little hamlet where I grew up (which don't even mention me), as well as the site linked from the current entry, I have learned that on the web, nothing is too insignificant to present to an international audience.

positive logic
The standard convention, that the logic level for True is higher than the voltage level for False. Note that ``higher'' is greater in the algebraic sense (more positive or less negative). Cf. negative logic.

Portable Operating System for unIX. Unix standard required for US government purchases.

Person Of the apposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters. Pronounced ``POSSLE-cue.'''

Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. Advises Houses of Commons and Lords on science issues. Cf. German TAB and the defunct US OTA.

Periodically Oscillating Source Temperature.

Point-Of-Sale Transaction.

Power-On Self-Test. Performed by the BIOS when an IBMish PC is turned on. Various kinds of beep signal trouble.

An exception to this definition might be G. Gordon Liddy. For him, a power-on self-test would be holding his hand over a lit candle.

Postcards should be fashionable again, just because they're so antiquarian. But if you're not sure whether your correspondent has a nonvirtual existence, use an ecard.

A deltiologist, a practitioner of deltiology, is someone who collects postcards.

POST-DOCtoral fellow[ship]. A research position, or the person who holds it, at the lowest rung of the job ladder in academia and at government research labs for those with a Ph.D. Postdocs are common in science and engineering. At universities in the US, they are typically hired by individual researchers, who include one or more postdocs as specific line items in their research-proposal budgets. There also exist a number of programs that fund postdocs to work at government labs. In these programs, the prospective postdocs typically submit their own research proposals in cooperation with a government-lab researcher they wish to work with.


Posterior Analytics
`Science My Ass.' Part of the Organon or `tool' of Aristotle.

In a hurry. From the practice of writing ``haste, post, haste'' as an instruction to a letter carrier. Cf. ampersand.

POST-INTELligencer. Abbreviation for people outside the newspaper's home town of Seattle. Locals use ``P-I.''

Post-It notes
Invented at 3M; poster-child for 3M's aggressive innovation policy. When all you've got is lemons, make lemonade: this idea started as a failed adhesive. Here in tiff format is an SEM micrograph of the back of a Post-It note, courtesy of ESEM.

Generalized post-bebop, as we explained already at the pomo entry.

This definition was promulgated and even grudgingly approved at one time during Stammtisch. But by the very nature of language, we recognize the indeterminacy of the Stammtext, so this definition may no longer be, in that lovely Watergate expression, operative. After all, when I wrote above that the definition was ``grudgingly approved,'' it must be admitted that what I really mean is that the others were eating and didn't want to open their mouths to object. Table manners do make rhetorical cowards of us all. Or something like that, I'm sure.

For more on how a random comment is enacted into iron Stammtisch law, see the document on governance.

postmodern English
A form of English in which the active voice is mostly absent, reflecting the irrelevance of authorship. Most common noun: furiously; most verb: green. Patience, I'll eventually think of something more amusing. Remember, I don't really matter. Pay no attention to the man behind the screen!

(Just for the record, I should mention that attempting to assess literature while ignoring anything that may be known of the author outside the text is an older approach than postmodernism. It was introduced seriously by the ``New Critics'' early in the twentieth century. But don't take my word for it.)

This is a pretty bad entry, conflating 1959 Chomsky and 1960's Derrida. Until I repair it, let's just observe that writers interested in [postmodern critical] theory are generally committed to a profound scepticism about language and even truth. In the first instance, this leads to a lot of scare-quoting, used as a kind of apology for employing clearly problematic or discredited terms (e.g., the last word of the preceding sentence is written with quotes: ``truth'').

Part of the postmodern program is to subvert or transgress (favored term) the perceived illegitimate (no quotes there) ``author(ity)'' of writing by exposing the (supposed, by postmodernists) contradictions of its distinctions. This motive leads to a wearying wariness about perfectly innocent words, and ignorant on-the-fly etymological comment (``herstory''). Postmodern writing is winkingly playful, attentive to often weak or recherché puns which are usually more distracting than amusing, let alone enlightening. This is an easy game to play. For example, the word coercion appearing in an ordinary English sentence would be replaced by the phrase in(tension)al coercion in pomo English (the parentheses do appear in P. Eng.).

The scepticism is also more deeply problematic in undercutting the authority (excuse me, I meant ``(author)ity'') of the critic's own writing. This leads to an excessive degree of self-reference in postmodern writing, to sloppy solipsism. (By the way, have you visited our postmodern glossary entry? It's quite clever.)

postmodern glossary
The controlling trope is alphabetical metonymy.

postmodern glossary entry

postmodern narrator
Nothing if not unreliable. I'm pretty sure that's right. I am the very model of a postmodern minor glossarist.

Link here on a good day for annotated Modern Major-General stuff.

postmodern Stammtisch
The usual postmodern stance is that everything is a text. With lunch at the cafeteria, this assumption can be proven by taste tests, thus imparting scientific rigor, or at least verisimilitude, to food post-structuralism.

Like all texts so far studied, however, the explicit portion is finite; a limit point is reached. In the case of Stammtisch, that's usually around 12:30. We deconstruct the text, bus our trays, and soon we have a gut feeling -- a visceral feeling perhaps: it is something we sense within ourselves -- that the food is pretty post-structural as well, and we go off in search of other texts. Maybe the text will be minimalist in respect of, like, written words (TP scroll), or perhaps there will be time to pick up the New York Times, which if you don't want to pay a premium isn't to be had on campus until noon at the earliest.

Stammtisch is a serial, however, with reentrance. Though we deny the text this afternoon, tomorrow we eat again. Riverrun.

[Note: I have made the easy assumption above that the finiteness of the Stammtext implies its boundedness. All those who are working through this glossary as part of a mathematics course should prove an appropriate extension of the Heine-Borel theorem. You may assume lunch is compact before digestion.]

A note added after a text. Either at the bottom of a letter or at the end of a published text. From Latin postscriptum, `written after,' the neuter past participle of postscribere, `write after.'

A popular programming language from Adobe Systems, specially adapted for graphics--a page description language. Normally interpreted rather than compiled. Stack-based. If you wanted to, you could probably get your printer to do your database management, if you just wrote the code in PostScript. ``But,'' to quote a former President, ``that would be wrong.'' Inefficient, anyway, even though a low-end PostScript-capable laser printer comes with at least a 286 or equivalent microprocessor. (I originally wrote this entry in the dark ages -- you know: when everyone used only black-and-white printers.)

On-line, you can learn what it is and have a short tutorial courtesy of P. J. Weingartner. There's also an FAQ. Adobe itself has a ``Q & A''-style advertising page.

There are some tutorial materials available in German at the University of Zurich's Postscript Corner, with an emphasis on color.

So far, the best on-line tutorial in PostScript programming that I've seen is by Lance Lovette and Marshall Brain. [Which reminds me, did you know that this glossary contains some evidence for the hypothesis that Nomenclature is Destiny?]

Of course, there are also archived FAQ's.

In the early days of laser printers (from the mid '80's), there were two dominant command languages in which laser printers understood instructions: Epson and Digital proprietary. Today, the two dominant languages are PostScript and PCL.

``Postscript is a long-established mail order company specialising in good quality publishers' overstocks and remainder books at discounts of up to 80% off the published price.'' I suppose the name is a jocular misconstrual of postscript or postscriptum -- `after writing' rather than `writing after.'

A factual claim. The word is derived from the Latin postulatum `demand, claim,' and once had a broader range of meanings in English, covering various sorts of demands, preconditions, and stipulations.

In current usage, it suggests a degree of logical rigor. I'd like to adduce an early example from the writings of Robert Malthus, since the chasm is particularly wide between the imaginary rigor he postulated and the reality of his failure. I can't do it, however, because as far as I can recall he used the word postulatum (and the plural postulata).

There is not much distinction in meaning today between axioms and postulates, but in Euclid's geometry there was a consistent distinction that was eventually expressed in Latin by the opposition of axiomata (yeah, I think Latin used the Greek plural) and postulata. (I have yet to track down what word corresponded to postulatum in Euclid's Greek.) In English versions of Euclid, the postulates were originally called petitions. (As should be clear from the discussion above, the two words once had a substantial overlap of meaning.)

The old distinction in geometry (still to be found in textbooks at the end of the nineteenth century) was simply this: an axiom was a general statement admitted to be true without proof, while a postulate was an axiom about a construction.

The first three postulates in Book I of Euclid's Elements [of geometry] were simply assertions that certain constructions were possible (that a straight line can be drawn between any two points, etc.). The most famous postulate of Euclid's geometry was the fifth. In his own formulation, it amounted to this: given two lines on a plane, both crossed by a third, if the interior angles on the one side of the crossing line amount to less than two right angles, then the two straight lines, if extended indefinitely, themselves also cross on that side of the crossing line.

Euclid's lines were what modern geometries regard as line segments -- that is, as segments of lines, the latter being conceived as infinite in ordinary plane geometry. (This modern notion of a line is a slight further abstraction from the physical notion of a line or straight path which motivates the geometrical abstraction.) Euclid's fifth postulate is clearly a postulate, because it involves the construction of straight lines extended (or ``produced,'' in an older terminology) from the original segments. If the same proposition is expressed in terms of lines, there is no construction and the proposition is an axiom. Hence, the subset of axioms that should be called propositions is not so fundamental: it can change under relatively minor reformulations. The fourth postulate of Book I is that all right angles are equivalent. I can see a couple of ways that this may be regarded as a claim about constructions, but again: whether it is or not can depend on small details of the formulation.

There was a widespread feeling that the fourth postulate was just a bit too involved to be acceptable directly as a postulate or axiom, and an immense effort went into trying to derive it as a theorem (1) on the basis of the other postulates of Euclid, or (2) on the basis of these plus some other, simpler axiom. The second approach yielded a variety of alternative statements equivalent to Euclid's fifth postulate. The invention of ``non-Euclidean'' geometries made clear the situation regarding the first approach: Euclid's other postulates are logically independent of his fifth postulates. On can prove a number of theorems with them alone, and one can combine them with the original fifth to prove some more theorems. (In fact, to prove all of the traditional theorems truly rigorously, one has to expose certain assumptions that were originally implicit.) It is also possible to combine the other postulates (and axioms) with one or another alternative to the original fifth postulate, even alternatives that directly contradict Euclid's fifth, and prove an alternate system of theorems that are, from the standpoint of pure mathematics, not less true than Euclid's system.

Metal or ceramic food container of moderate size (1-10 liters, say).

Slang name for marijuana, like, grass, dope, and Mary Jane, but not like. (All three major Scrabble dictionaries accept maryjane as a word, along with maryjanes.)

Hemp and weed are not really slang terms. Marijuana, or cannabis sativa, is a species of hemp. It just happens to have more than one practical use. At latitudes like Virginia's, it was widely grown for rope and paper cellulose fiber, until the marijuana scares at the beginning of the twentieth century. It used to grow wild along roads in the US Midwest, where it went by the name of ditch weed, but it seems to be mostly eradicated. Grown outdoors at these latitudes, it doesn't have any noticeable psychoactive strength.

I suppose one must distinguish between grammatically countable and uncountable synonyms here. A ``jay'' is a single marijuana cigarette.

Khat is another plant that also has more than one practical use. Its leaves have been a traditional chaw for centuries in East Africa and the Arabian peninsula, much as coca leaves have been in the Andes. Khat contains a stimulant that is described as being like a weaker form of cocaine or amphetamine. Its other practical use is mentioned at the MSP entry.

Periodic Orbital Theory.

Philosophy Of Technology. Man, whutcha been smokin'!?

Okay, time for some recreational mind-bending, uh, stuff. Heidegger is good for a laugh: a wacko, but not a wack job. That is: crazy, but not personally inclined to participate directly in violence. Especially now that he's dead. He could fix up a really tasty word salad, or maybe it was a word soup, let's discuss that. He had a real talent for pretentious nonsense, and philosophers have been fressing at his trough ever since. That's a good thing, because they mine it for pearls that they cast in our general direction. If you think I'm mixing my metaphors, you don't know Heidegger. So Heidi (let's be friends) wrote an essay with the title Die Frage nach der Technik (that's not translatable, but it means `The question concerning technology'). Richard Rojcewicz has written an entire book based on his close reading of it, entitled The Gods and Technology: A Reading of Heidegger. According to the blurb, his ``goal is to mine [that essay] for the treasures only a close reading of the original German text can bring out.'' See?

What are some of those treasures? For you, I will do a close or at least a nearsighted reading of Gods and Tech to find out. I may even open the book. I'll list my discoveries as I progress:

  1. ``[E]specially for the late Heidegger [he is dead], the philosophy of technology is a philosophy of Being, or of the gods.'' (Back cover.) Arthur Clarke said it better.
  2. ``For Heidegger, technology is not applied knowledge, but the most basic knowledge, of which science, for example, is an application.'' (Back cover.) Could I have another example?
  3. ``In short, the smith must actively let the essence be revealed to her in advance. That is how she is semicreative: the appearing of the chalice in advance is a joint product of the silversmith's uncovering efforts and the thing's own self-revelation. (P. 43 -- a random page, I swear it!) I'd like to see a flowchart for that. A PERT diagram? You couldn't make this stuff up, and I couldn't either.
  4. ``What is disrespectful or excessive about the modern windmill? [Actually, it can be noisy.] Why does Heidegger find it necessary to describe it with such pejorative terms as `ravish' and `hoard'?'' (P. 73 -- another random stop. As the blurb says, this is rich.) That's pejorative if you've lived a very sheltered life. Maybe this bit shows the influence of Cervantes or Blake. They're not listed in the index, so let's see why Chaplin is listed (p. 229).
  5. P. 229: The reader is commended to Charlie Chaplin's great movie, ``Modern Times'' (I approve) because Sartre liked it. I'm beginning to have second thoughts already.
  6. Dasein is mentioned on page 166. Am I supposed to kneel at this point, or does that come later? On this page it is also explained that ``technology is the destiny to disclosive looking.'' I think I wet my pants.

Point Of Termination.

POTentiometer -- a mechanically controlled variable resistor.

Potassium carbonate: K2CO3.

Polarization Optical Time-Domain Reflectometry.

potential risk
Thoughtless expression that usually means risk. Cf. downside risk.

potentially life-threatening
Life-threatening. The possibility of a possibility is a possibility. Cf. potential risk.

potholes, silver lining of
  1. As potholes accumulate, they start to overlap and the road starts to level out again. Just watch out for those manhole bunkers.
  2. That's not silver, that's wheel-rim metal.

A craze (one that actually occurred, if that's what crazes do, in the nineteenth century) for imitation fine porcelain. Yeah, it sounds pretty lame to me too. Apparently the idea was to make something that looked like Japanese or Chinese porcelain by covering the inner surface of glass vessels with designs on paper (paper!) or sheet gelatine (whatever that was). Soon enough, the name for the craze was also used for the practice of doing it, which I suppose was crazy enough anyway. The English word potichomania is a minimally domesticated borrowing of the French potichomanie, constructed in turn from potiche, which originally referred to oriental porcelain vases, and then also to the glass imitations made by potichomania. Cf. decalcomania, source of the English word decal.

Potiphar's wife
Roughly speaking, you're damned if you do, and you're damned if you don't.

pot luck
Apparently this is not a modern innovation. See the quotation of Davidson in the Pool entry.

[Phone icon]

Phase Of The Moon. Usually written POM.

Programmer Of The Month.

Part Of The President Of The United States. That's not the canonical, um, expansion of the acronym, but since we are not as indiscreetly voyeuristic as the US Congress was during the Monica Lewinsky thing, that's as explicit as we care to get. Let's put it this way: this acronym is only operative, so to speak, when the POTUS is an anatomically correct male. We mention a body part at the POTUS entry; that's not it, but you're getting warmer. Unlike POTUS, POTPOTUS is not a standard military term. On the other hand, Ms. Lewinsky worked at the Pentagon part of the time that this organ of the government was in her hands.

Plain {Old | Ordinary} Telephone {Service | System}. This acronym is an ordinary part of many nonfacetious conversations. An equivalent term is PSTN.

President Of The United States (US). Military usage.

In Spanish, poto is butt or rump. Regular back-formation would make potus the Latin for butt. There must be something to it. Naturally, one would associate flatus with such a potus, and as it happens, the military uses FLOTUS for the presidential spouse, who so far has always been female.

Publicly Operated (water) Treatment Works.

Point Of Use.

A French surname equivalent to Purdue (q.v.).

French word for spam. A portmanteau word formed from pourri (`rotten') and courriel (`email'), itself a portmanteau word.

Persistence Of Vision.

Point Of View. Perspective. (Also used as the name of a start-up magazine in 1995, and a propaganda-film showcase on PBS.) How you see things depends on where you see them from.

Privately Owned Vehicle. Term used in law enforcement and the military.

If your POV was a truck, then your POV used to be above the crowd's.

POV Interactive
Point Of View Interactive. A site where PBS viewers are encouraged to feed back on the PBS's `POV'' film showcase.

Persistence Of Vision(tm) Ray Tracer. Sounds like a gringo saying pobre.

Player Of the Week. I was only familiar with the POW (infra) associated with military internment camps, so you might imagine my confusion on reading the headline ``BYU's Hall named Walter Camp POW'' (on Sept. 6, 2009, on ESPN.com). BYU senior quarterback Max Hall was named the Walter Camp Football Foundation Bowl Subdivision National Offensive Player of the Week for leading his 20th-ranked team to a 14-13 upset of No. 3 Oklahoma. (OU's starting QB Sam Bradford was injured and left the game in the second quarter.) ``Foundation Bowl Subdivision'' is the NCAA's latest stupid name for college football's Division I-A.

Prisoner Of War.

A line of CPU products (RISC, CMOS VLSI) from IBM, initiated in 1986.

power-delay product
The product of average power consumption and average propagation delay. Since the clock cycle is limited by the propagation delay, this number is essentially the energy consumption per cycle per gate. Typical values are currently in the few pJ range. One thing that makes this a good figure of merit is that many of the simple things one can do to improve (decrease) the propagation delay essentially increase (degrade) the current, and thus the power consumption, by a proportional factor, and conversely, so that the PDP remains constant.

See discussion at the acronym expansion (PDP).

powerful vocabulary
There are people who want to help you improve your vocabulary and thereby achieve wealth, fame, and the respect of other people on your shift. They have books you can buy that-- no wait, scratch that. Now they have a revolutionary new method that works while you drive. Just insert it into your CD-drive and it will ``inject the words directly into your long-term memory'' is how I think the ad goes -- I can't remember exactly. Everything you need to know you learned in kindergarten, so the only thing holding you back is that you don't know five-dollar words for all that stuff.

I certainly don't have any vocabulary to teach you -- at least not in this glossary. I only wanted to point out that this word-power thing has been going on for decades, so it's clearly not a fad. This is something Donald J. Lloyd and Harry R. Warfel wrote about in 1956 in their book American English in Its Cultural Setting. The title of their chapter ``Thirty Years to a More Powerful Vocabulary'' is a play on 30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary, title of a book popular in those days. Another popular title then was Increase Your Word Power. (Opportunity Alert! There is no book entitled Word Wattage.)

[column] This is a good opportunity to mention that there are two kinds of high-school Latin program: some teach Latin, and some teach word power. It's much easier to get an ``A'' in the second kind of program, but after four or five years of this, you won't be able to read or write a Latin sentence.

Without power, of course. But not usually without electrical power. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, however, I did see a story captioned ``Powerless Connecticut families and commuters seek unlikely refuge to stay working.'' It was about people who brought their laptops to the second floor of southern Connecticut's Danbury Fair shopping mall, where a dozen cafeteria tables were placed end-to-end and supplied with chairs and power outlets, all within antennashot of McDonald's wifi. The mall can accommodate about 200 people needing a place to connect. A carousel and play area keep children home from closed schools out of their working parents' hair. Yes, I do enjoy writing obstacle-course sentences.

PowerPC (tm)
A line of CPU products from IBM. Now of historical interest only.

POWER2 (tm)
A line of single-chip IBM POWER products. Only POWER2, and not POWER is an IBM trademark. Perhaps some things are sacred.


The OXYrhynchus Papyri. Published by B.P. Grenfell and A.S. Hunt starting in 1898. Were you thinking of PO2, perhaps?

(Partial) Pressure of Oxygen. Abbreviation used in medicine, along with PAO2 (A is for alveolar).

Pages. Equivalently: pgs.

Singulars: p. and pg.

Parallel Plate. (Typically refers to a plasma reactor configuration. Vide PPR.)


Parola del Passato. Classical journal catalogued by TOCS-IN.

Partido Popular. `Popular Party.' A Spanish conservative party; the ruling party from 1996 until 2004, when Islamic terror convinced the Spanish to change their government.

During the Spanish Civil War of the 1930's (a dress rehearsal for WWII), Dolores Ibárruri (christened Isidora Ibárruri Gómez) was a famous communist speaker and writer who earned the epithet ``La Pasionaria.'' Her most famous phrase was

Antes morir de pie que vivir de rodillas.

(`Rather die on your feet than live on your knees.' This is not the most literal possible translation. Eloquence should be translated with eloquence, or the closest available approximation.) Time will tell whether the Spanish live or die on their knees.

As an organization, the PP is the continuation of the ultraconservative AP, q.v., which changed name at its ninth party congress in 1989. Of course, there is bitter disagreement on the degree to which it continues the philosophy of the earlier party. At the tenth party congress at the end of March 1990, Fraga (long-time leader of the AP) was named honorary president. Nevertheless, José María Aznar, who became party leader in September 1990, was generally given credit for the party's success until 2004. He moved the party towards the center, to credibility and power -- something of a mirror of what Blair did with the British Labour Party on the left. (In these decades, it's been called a ``third way'' if the party starts from the left.)

Something else Aznar has in common with Blair is that supporting the 2003 US (``US-led'') invasion of Iraq cost them politically. Blair survived the 2004 elections, though in 2007 his party pestered him to honor his commitment to resign as PM and party leader. Almost immediately (actually, just following a Labour Party conference in September, after which Blair's successor Gordon Brown had planned to schedule snap parliamentary elections), polls showed a shift in support from Labour to the Conservatives. The other major Western European supporter of the US in Iraq was Berlusconi, and his coalition lost narrowly in 2007. On the other hand, the two most active opponents of the Iraq invasion -- Schmidt and that French guy -- were out by the end of 2007.

The PP formed a minority government in 1996, and won an overwhelming majority in 2000. Subsequently, Aznar's policies moved rightward. In a work of reference, you expect a more substantive description than ``moved ... towards the center'' and ``moved rightward.'' You might eventually get that here, if we ever clean up some of the more serious deficiencies.

Physically Partitioned.

PolyPropylene (plastic).

Recycling code 5 (in PCS).

There's an informative PP entry in the Macrogalleria.

Prepositional Phrase.

Pride and Prejudice. A novel by Jane Austen.

Principles and Practice. Among other things, title of licensure exams administered in engineering: vide PE.

PhenylPropanolAmine. An OTC decongestant in the US for decades until the year 2000, when the FDA banned it. (On 2000.11.06, the FDA issued a public recommendation against its use and said it was beginning steps to ban it formally.) It turns out that there are a few chances in a million that it will cause hemorrhagic stroke in any individual. At the time of the announcement, PPA is also the only OTC appetite suppressant.

Okay, I have to look into this more carefully. PPA is sometimes refered to as a particular drug, and sometimes as a class of drugs. My guess is that the single drug -- the one mentioned in the preceding paragraph, is the simple amine, a compound with an NH2 group, and that there is a class of related compounds (``PPA's'') in which various organic groups are substituted for one or both of the remaining hydrogens. That's the obvious guess. I have to look doing so, but until I get around to it, this note will have to do.

Philosophisch-Politische Akademie, e.V., für Politische Bildung.

PolyPhthalAmide (plastic).


Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council. One of the UK's eight research councils. The research councils report to the Office of Science and Innovation. (We've spruced up this entry a bit since last you were here. We performed some New Labours on it, hence New England. Something like that.)

PPB, ppb
Parts per Billion (109) American usage. [N.B.: ``billion'' means million million in traditional British and current French and German usages, which have ``thousand million'' and ``milliard,'' respectively, for 109. I don't know what expression corresponding to ppb, if any, is used in Britain.]

PPB(a) means atoms per billion atoms.
PPB(v), ppbv mean parts per billion by volume.
PPB(w) means parts per billion of weight.

ppb., ppbk.
PaPerBound or PaPerBacK. Also pb.

Point Pleasant Beach.

Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System.

Panama Ports Company. A subsidiary of Singapore-based Hutchison Port Holdings. Two other companies handling container transshipping in Panama are Taiwan's Evergreen Marine Corp and US-based Manzanillo International.

Parish Pastoral Council. Visit the more intriguing FFC.

Persistent PhotoConductivity. In GaAs semiconductor, this arises from the photoexcitation of DX centers. The persistence of free carriers is now generally understood to be due to the large lattice distortion associated with the DX center.

Pin-to-Pin Compatible. We're talking functionally equivalent chip substitutions here.

Platform Position Computer.

PolyPhthalate Carbonate. A copolymer of polycarbonates (PC's, q.v.).

Preparatory Provisional Certificate. A New York City certificate allowing someone to be a PPT.

Process Proximity Correction.

Production, Planning and Control.

Program-to-Program Communication.

Public-Private Competition.

Partial Pair Correlation Function. This is a subtype of the kind of correlation function that occurs in the description of fluids and disordered solids. A ``correlation function'' in these contexts is the conditional probability density for finding a particle at the point (the spatial location) r + r0, given that there is a particle at point r0. (For a homogeneous system, this is a function of the single variable r.) The ordinary pair correlation function is computed as a sum over contributions from all pairs of particles separated by r0. A partial pair correlation function is computed by performing the same summation but counting contributions only from particular kinds of pairs. For example, in an alloy of elements A and B, one can compute PPCF's for AA, AB, and BB pairs. This is the characteristic sort of data that can be extracted (after a bit of modeling) from EXAFS.

Plane Poiseuille-Couette Flow.

Penn-Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Middle English.

Partido por la Democracia. One of the two large socialist parties in Chile, part of the dominant Concertación.

PPD, ppd.

PostScript Printer Description.

Purified Protein Derivative.

Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. A diffuse ``area of concentration.'' A popular one with young Labour MP's in the UK. For example, ahead of the annual party conference in September 2006, MP's serving in the government who had read P.P.E. at Oxford included the following: David Milband, age 41, Environment Secretary; Ed Milband, age 36, a minister in the Cabinet office; Douglas Alexander, 38, Transport Secretary.

PolyPhenylene Ether. Prevex is one.

Production Process and Equipment.

Property, Plant, and Equipment.

Portable Practical Educational Preparation Training for Employment Centers.

Panamanian Public Forces. National Police, National Maritime Service, and National Air Service. Since the a constitutional amendment abolished the PDF, these are the only armed forces of Panama.

Points Per Game.

Plastic Pin Grid Array.

Power Projection Hub. The status of Japan in the GPR.

Producer Price Index. An index of the prices paid by producers.

Progressive Policy Institute. In-house think tank of the DLC.

Public Policy Institute of California.

Put Prevention Into Practice. [There must be something called ``theoretical prevention.''] PPIP is ``a national [US] program to improve delivery of appropriate clinical preventive services. PPIP materials are derived from the evidence-based recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.''

Oooh, ``evidence-based''! A revolutionary idea, sounds like science without the boring parts. And yes: PPIP materials are partly ``[b]ased ... on focus group testing with clinicians, office staff, and patients.''

The ODPHP launched PPIP in 1994; in 1998 management of PPIP was transferred to the AHRQ.

Charles Dickens's great novel Great Expectations is about a young orphan who is called Pip.

Passive Physiological InterVertebral Movement.

PeoPLe. Chatese abbreviation. Written peep by peeps who can spare an extra letter.

PleuroPneumonia-Like Organism.

PPM, ppm
Parts per Million.

PPM(a) means atoms per million atoms.
PPM(w) means parts per million of weight.

PPM, .ppm
Portable PixMap. An image format: MIME-type image/x-portable-pixmap.

Prediction by Partial Matching. A compression technique that generalizes additive coding by trying to take advantage of higher-order correlations among the coded symbols, up to a finite order.

Pulse Position Modulation.


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

Pre-Pottery Neolithic. Earlier part of the Neolithic period, before clay pottery was made. Cf. PN

Penicillinase-Producing Neisseria Gonorrheas.

PolyPhenylene Oxide. Noryl is one.

Preferred Provider Organization. A medical benefits plan with greater customer freedom than an HMO. Usually defines a network of (decreasingly) independent health care providers who agree to provide service following certain rules and price schedules.

(Swiss) Priority Program in Optics.

Per-Pupil Operating Revenue[s].

Pakistan People's Party. The Bhutto party. Secularist, and still the most popular party. During the October 2002 elections, anti-Americanism increased by the American attack on Afghanistan dramatically improved the showing of Islamist parties, the PPP nevertheless won the largest share of the popular vote.

Palestinian People's Party.

Parti Populaire des Putes. `Popular Party of Prostitutes' is the typical translation, and it has the virtue of identical initials, but I think that pute has a tone more like `whore' (see Pav). As everyone points out, they have the cutest logo of any Canadian political party.

The Montreal-based party was founded in June 2000 at the Foufounes Electrique bar by members of la Coalition Pour les Droits des Travailleuses et Travailleurs du Sexe (`coalition for the rights of sex workers'). It made the news in early July, it had gathered about 400 signatures from supporters and was going to send them to Elections Canada to apply for official party status. The party seems to be most popular among nonvoters, which is probably just as well, because they seem to have no candidates. A few days before the federal parliamentary elections in November 2000, a PPP spokesman announced that complex federal election rules governing party status had prevented them from becoming an official party. The rules required such a party to have a minimum of 50 candidates (each paying a deposit of $1,000). They were hoping that a court challenge of those rules by the Communist Party of Canada would make things easier the next time. The next time was 2004, and though their website is still up, they apparently didn't field any candidates.

In addition to a cool logo, they have the political slogan ``Pour avoir du fun en chambre, ralliez vous au PPP!'' [As best I can make out, this means, `to have some fun in the chamber, join the PPP!' I hope this isn't an illegal solicitation. The word fun (also fonne) is an English loan used in Quebec; the phrase ``avoir du fun'' as a whole looks like a sort of calque.] The slogan is a double entendre in the English sense, since chambre may be understood both as `parliamentary chamber' and as `bedroom.'

Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology. A quarterly (published March, June, September, and December) that ``focuses on the area of overlap among philosophy, psychiatry, and abnormal psychology. The journal advances philosophical inquiry in psychiatry and abnormal psychology while making clinical material and theory more accessible to philosophers. Each issue features original and review articles and an `International News and Notes' section. The journal is affiliated with the Association for the Advancement of Philosophy and Psychiatry (AAPP) and the Royal College of Psychiatrists Philosophy Group (U.K.) and sponsored by the Royal Institute of Philosophy (U.K.).''

Italian, pianississimo. Very, very soft[ly]. Sometimes this is translated or interpreted as ``as soft[ly] as possible.'' (One possible cause of this misunderstanding is given at the superl. entry.) By a natural extension, symbols of progressively greater rarity are used to indicate progressively diminished loudness: ppp, pppp, ppppp, pppppp.

It is feckless to assign repetitious names to these symbols, but the names exist. For example, pppppp is pianissississississimo. Some may wonder whether this is a legitimate construction for Italian. It is, but not everything that is grammatical is worth saying. Spanish has a somewhat similar system of endings, and its diminutive morpheme -it- can be iterated also. Hence, acceptable but progressively more childish constructions like chico, chiquito, chiquitito, chiquititito, ... (`small, very small, very very small, ...'). It is also acceptable, though less common, to iterate the intensifier morpheme -is(im)-, hence mucho, muchisimo, muchisisimo, ... (mucho means `much'; big surprise there). Chiquitisimo is approximately equivalent to chiquitito, but if you want to get any more precise, I recommend a micrometer.

For more on Spanish diminutives, see the poco entry. Evita is another example. For an insight into the etymology of piano, see the planet entry.

[Phone icon]

Point-to-Point Protocol. An internet standard defined in RFC's Nos. 1332, 1333, 1334, 1661, 1662, and 1663. See also 1841.

During the 90's this superseded SLIP as the standard protocol for telephone-line computer-to-computer communications. One of its advantages is that it can handle both synchronous and asynchronous communication. Try this link. If it works you'll get a bit of PPP information from whatis.com.

Public Policy Polling. An organization that polls for Democratic candidates.

Public-Private Partnership.

Purchasing-Power Parity.

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.

Pacific Plant Protection Organization.

Point-to-Point Protocol Over ATM.

Point-to-Point Protocol Over Ethernet.

Italian, Pianissississimo. Very, very, very soft[ly]. This is about as ridiculous as PPPP. Cf. ppp.

Polska Partia Przyjaciól Piwa. `Polish Party of the Friends of Beer.' Llleeeeets Par-tay!!!!! A similar pun may work in Polish about as well as in English: the noun partia applies to a part or role (in a play), a political party or side in a [nonpolitical] game, and by extension a game. I haven't found out yet whether partia can describe the convivial or celebratory sort of gathering called a party in English.

PPPP was founded in December 1990 by actor and satirist J. Rewinski. It supported a ``common-sense liberal program'' and won 3.27% of the vote in the 1991 elections, getting 16 seats in the Sejm. Later, the party split into groups known as ``Large Beer'' and ``Small Beer,'' and overall became ``small beer'' so far as Polish politics was concerned.

Plant Protection and Quarantine.

Planar Plate Reactor (refers to anode and cathode geometry of plasma reactor).

Project Plan Review.

Physician Payment Review Commission.

(Online) Payment Processing System.

PolyPhenylene Sulfide. Engineering-grade plastic. GE's is Supec.

Post-Polio Syndrome.

Latin: Post post scriptum. English: `A postscript to a postcript.'

It's written in Latin because it's embarrassingly stupid if people can understand it.

Postscript is abbreviated P.S.

Latin is abbreviated Lat. and L. or L, but usually not all at once. You have to choose.

Abbreviation is abbreviated abbrev.

I think I need some sleep.

PPS, .pps
PowerPoint Slide show. Please, just use a nonproprietary format and save other people the hassle of getting the (power)pointless software you have (or Quickview or Keyview in this case). We'll probably just can your email anyway, if it takes a few seconds of trouble.

PPS, pps
Pulses Per Second. A standard spec for a stepper motor is the highest rate of pps.

This would make a good unit of expressed audience disapproval, if they didn't throw fruit and non-pulse vegetables as well.

Purchasing Power Standard.

PolyPhenylene SUlfone (plastic).

Parts Per Trillion. Cf. ppb.

Polysilicon Pressure Transducer.

PPT, .ppt
PowerPoinT. A Microsoft application for producing overhead-projector slides, slide shows, and primitive animations.

Preparatory Provisional Teacher. New York State term for a primary or secondary public school teacher who does not possess state certification and has made a commitment to complete the requirements within a specified time limit, not to exceed four years. As of September 2002, the state Education Department does not intend to allow uncertified teachers to work after September 1, 2003. Since employment recovers slowly in the wake of a recession, they may be able to make this stick. In order to work as a PPT, a qualified individual has been required to obtain a temporary state license, which is just a demeaning document setting forth supposed pedagogical deficiencies that specified hours of indoctrination by an ed school will supposedly remedy. In New York as elsewhere, the paperwork is overwhelming, the training mind-numbing, and the only way intelligence enters into it is in figuring out what you can avoid doing. Never ask whether certification has been demonstrated to improve teaching effectiveness, or whether teachers think it was useful. Vide PPC.

Printer Pass-Through.

Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol. A Microsoft extension of Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP). One kind of virtual private network (VPN) software, it allows secure tunnels to interconnect separate LAN's of one corporation over the public internet. Here's a bit from whatis.com. Competing system from Cisco Systems is Layer-2 Forwarding. PPTP is built into Windows 95/98/NT, but don't assume every ISP will provide VPN service, or that those that do will make PPTP connections. Note also that those which do may surcharge for the service.

Pyridinium p-TolueneSulphonate.

Pay-Per-View. TV programming pay scheme.

Poly(p-PhenyleneVinylene). PPV and its derivatives have interesting properties and potential applications in electroluminescent devices.

Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test.

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