(Click here for bottom)

Vanity Fair. The magazine used this abbreviation on the cover of its June 2003 issue, in a tease, or whatever it's called. They've probably used it other times, but I never noticed. The reason I noticed this time was that I looked at the cover. This cover had a picture of Drew Barrymore. I've studied pictures of Drew Barrymore before, even frequently, so you can imagine that I was bored and ignored the magazine. Well, you can imagine it -- I didn't say you believed it. I was intrigued, in fact, because she was wearing a warm knit top yet she was sitting in the wet surf on the beach. I searched the cover for some explanation. Maybe it was the May issue.

The earliest use I'm aware of, of the name ``Vanity Fair'' itself, is in John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. That book, very popular in colonial America, is an extended allegory of a man making his progress toward Christian salvation. One of the stops along the way is Vanity Fair, which seems at first to be a fun festival, but turns out on closer inspection to be an occasion of many small degradations and hidden sadness (so I recall, less than three centuries after reading the book). Vanity Fair is the world in microcosm. Thackeray chose the name for a famous novel set during the Napoleonic wars.

Ventricular Fibrillation. Ventricular fibrillation is twitching, ineffective heart beats. It's not exactly a stopped heart, but it has about the same effect, so it's called cardiac arrest. About a quarter million Americans suffer cardiac arrest each year. Spontaneous recovery from this condition is not common. Survival depends on the use of a defibrillator, which uses a strong electric shock to try to get the heart going again. (The current is passed between two paddles applied to the chest.) Defibrillation works best within the first three minutes. Survival probability declines by roughly seven to ten per cent with each minute of delay; there is little hope after ten minutes. In the US in the year 2000, cardiac-arrest survival rates were estimated at between 2% and 5%, reflecting the delay in applying a defibrillator in almost all cases. Most defibrillators are located in hospitals, but they are also available by prescription for those at high risk of cardiac arrest. That prescription runs about $2500 to $4000, but what's the alternative?

In September 2000, an FAA rule took effect giving airlines three years to train its flight attendants to use portable defibrillators and put the devices -- smaller versions of the ones in ER's -- on all planes configured to carry 30 passengers or more. The devices weigh about five pounds, and nonmedical personal are usually certified with five or six hours of training.

Two studies in the October 26, 2000 issue of the NEJM reported good results with portable public defibrillators. The survival rate in a study of their use in airplanes was 40%. In a similar study in casinos, the rate was 53%, a number whose wider significance is discussed in this glossary.

Vienna Fortran. A Fortran extension which can handle distributed memory across multiple processors.

Voice Frequency.

Volunteer Fireman. ``VF'' appears in a little shield outline on NY state licence plates.

One of Kurt Vonnegut's books (Rosewater, I think) eulogizes volunteer firemen as embodying the true spirit of greatness in America.

Volatile Fatty Acid.

Vienna Fortran Compilation System. (An interactive system that automatically translates a dusty deck of Vienna Fortran (VF) to explicitly parallelized Message Passing Fortran.)

Vanishing Fiber Diameter. Metal Matrix Composite (MMC) Model suggested by G. J. Dvorak and Y. A. Bahei-El-Din, in ``Elastic-Plastic Behavior of Fibrous Composites,'' Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, 27, pp. 51-72 (1979). [Bahei-El-Din's Ph.D. dissertation work at Duke.]

Vacuum Fluorescent Display.

Variable Frequency Drive.

ViaFers Federalas svizras. Romansch name of Swiss (.ch) national railway. The acronyms in all the other languages also consist of one double letter and one single:

Ventricular FIBrillation. Discussed at VF.

Variable Frequency Oscillator.

Verein für Raumschiffahrt. German, `Society for Spaceship Travel.' An organization founded by nine men in a Breslau restaurant on 5 June 1927, and lasting for six years. Freeman Dyson cited this as the founding event in the history of space travel, in a lecture before the German and Austrian Physical Societies in Salzburg. [That's according to The Curve of Binding Energy by John McPhee (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1973, 1974), p. 178.]

In those days, much of my family was living in Breslau, but the men generally went in for things like the Society for Rowboat Travel, however named. Once when my mom was a little girl, one of Graf Zeppelin's airships came to town, docking at an airfield that really was not much more than a marshy field. My mother wanted to wear her nice patent-leather shoes to this important event, but her mother didn't want her to. The ensuing argument delayed them so long that my mom never got to see the Zeppelin.

There was a joke going around after the shock of Sputnik in 1957 -- the President of the United States called in his experts and asked ``What happened? How did the Russians get so far ahead of us in rocket technology?'' His advisors answered:

``Their Germans were better than our Germans.''

Wernher von Braun was a member of the VfR as an engineering student in Berlin. More von Braun content at the V2 entry.

Visual Flight Rules. Contrast with IFR.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the FAA banned VFR aviation over thirty US metropolitan areas. Aviation security legislation passed that Autumn included provisions for the lifting of those bans. In any event, on December 19 the FAA lifted the ban on most of those areas.

On that day also, firefighters stopped pouring water on the rubble at ground zero (the wreckage of the WTC), believing that the fire was finally, after 100 days, extinguished.

V. Fudge
Vanilla Fudge. Not an odd name for a rock group.

Veterans of Foreign Wars. US military veterans' organization. Not the only one: there's also AmVets, the American Legion, and others, but they don't seem to want to talk about each other.

Video for (Microsoft) Windows.

Visual eFfeCtS.

Vacuum Generators. A brand of MBE.

Very Good.

Voice Grade. Cable quality designation. Cf. RG.

Voltage Gain.

Video Graphics {Array | Adapter | Accelerator} Monitor standard. Up to 16 bits of color on 640 × 480 screen for IBM compatibles. Successor of EGA. Most cards offer some extension or other, typically up to 24 bits of color at lower resolutions, which is called SVGA (super VGA), but there is not yet an SVGA standard.

Variable-Gain Amplifier.

Virtual Gameboy. Freeware for emulating Nintendo Gameboy on a PC. There's similar freeware (Genecyst) for Sega's GameGear/Master System. You can download either or both at the home of the ROMulan Empire.

Very Good Condition.

German, vergleich. `Compare.' Functions like confer cf.

Vergleich. German `comparison.'

Very Good-Looking.

Vienna Group for Multiple-valued Logics. (Limited stuff.)

Video Graphics Network Adapter.

Van Hove.

Video Hits. Video Hits One in 1985 as a sister station of MTV. The idea was to tap in to the senior demographic -- ``senior'' as in high school seniors and other old people. They avoided rap and played the music of people like Elton John and Diana Ross. In a world where people pay money to watch barely prolate artists talk rap music, you'd suppose VH-1 (written VH1 since 1994) might have been able to scrape up some video material from the pre-video music era. (Heck, Dean Martin had a video of ``Since I Met You, Baby'' that got so much MTV airplay that I actually saw it.) I don't know how or what they managed, but eventually they drifted away from videos, as MTV did. One of VH1's programs is Behind The Music. Here's what Joe Queenan had to say about it in his book, Balsamic Dreams: A Short but Self-Important History of the Baby Boomer Generation:
I will be the first to admit that I enjoy watching a weekly show where I find out that the guys from bands like Whitesnake or Kiss or Grand Funk Railroad wasted all their money on limos or women or drugs or all of the above and are now pasting up billboards or doing time or dead. But I hate it when they announce that they're going back to the studio, that they're planning a limited tour, that they're coming back. To me, the whole appeal of the show is to be reminded how terrific the present is precisely because none of these people are in it.

VH2 was a British sister channel of VH1. The main source of income for the channel was ringtone advertising. (My mind rejects this fact; I can't get even get it inside my head temporarily. I'm only just able to move it from one web resource onto this page. Thanks be to cut'n'paste.) Although everyone agrees that VH2 achieved a nonnegative audience share, the business model was apparently not cutting it in 2006, and on August 1, MTV2 was closed to make way for MTV Flux.

Volatile Hazardous Air Pollutant. I dunno: it seems to me that if it's volatile and hazardous, it already stands to reason that it's an air pollutant.

Vietnam Helicopter CrewMembers Association.

Video High Density (videodisc). One hour per side. Available in both NTSC as well as the similar PAL format, but only used in Japan.

VHSIC HDL. A mutual support group called VHDL UK offers an explanation.

The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. ``May we live long and die out.'' Nothing to do with this other HEMT. They're serious, in a certain sense.

Very High Frequency (30-300 MHz). This includes television channels (2-13 in the US) and the standard commercial FM audio broadcast band right around 100 MHz, as you know if you look at your radio dial or display.

In the North American scheme, VHF channels are allocated in three smaller band segments within VHF: 2-4, 5-6, and 7-13, and the separation between adjacent subbands is smaller than the separation between adjacent channels within each subband. In other words, the frequency separation between channels 4 and 5, and between 6 and 7, is larger than those between other nominally adjacent channels.

Vietnam Helicopter Flight Crew Network.

Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association.

VHS, vHs, VHs
Van Hove Singularity.

Video Home System, developed by Matsushita and JVC. The videocassette that survived. Other systems fought it out (Phillips's Video 2000 system; SONY's Betamax --which staggers on).

Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia. An infectious viral disease of fish. It's deadly to many fish species, but not harmful to humans. VHS was traditionally a disease of freshwater fish on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the US and the Atlantic coast of Europe. Starting in 2005, a previously unknown strain of VHS was found in the Great Lakes, the Saint Lawrence River and various smaller inland lakes.

Very High Speed Integrated Circuit[s]. Pronounced ``vissick.''

Vehicle-Hours of Travel.

VH-1, VH1
See this VH entry.

See this VH entry.

Verb Intransitive. An intransitive verb is a verb that is not transitive. Not now anyway. Since a transitive verb (v.t.) is one that takes a direct object, an intransitive verb is one that doesn't. But it might take an indirect object.

VIsual editor. The most standard full-screen text editor in Unix.

Here's an FAQ.


It's not pronounced `six' and it's not supposed to be pronounced `vai.' It's `vee eye.' (Vai is the name of a West African syllabary.)

An introduction and a reference manual can be found here.

See also vim (a freeware vi clone).

And just in case you missed it the last time: It's not pronounced `six' and it's not supposed to be pronounced `vai'! It's `vee eye.' For further clarification, visit a pronunciation guide for unix.

Vibration Isolation.

(US) Virgin Islands. USPS abbreviation. Also USVI. Here's a nice promotional site.

The Villanova Center for Information Law and Policy serves a page of US Virgin Islands territorial government links.

VI also stands for six, which sounds like sex. A natural thought about virgin islands.

Intentional ``vertical'' electrical connection in planar-processed (IC) circuit. A conductor connecting different metallization levels through a hole in SiO2 or other dielectric. I've only ever heard it pronounced with the first vowel stressed and pronounced as a ``long e'' (/i:/ in the IPA), and the second vowel a shwa. Somehow that seems natural for a noun (or maybe it just seems natural to a Spanish-speaker), even though the preposition via (`by way of, by means of') is also pronounced with a ``long i'' instead of ``long e.'' In other words, it's pronounced like the Canadian VIA (infra).

Short name of VIA Rail Canada. VIA is Canada's national passenger-train operator, like Amtrak in the US. (Huh! Whaddaya know: there's a passenger-rail carrier in the US.) Although written in block capitals, VIA is not an acronym. (``How dare they do this?'' is not one of the ten most frequently asked questions answered at the VIA website.) The nonacronym is pronounced ``VEE-uh'' in English, and not ``VIE-uh.'' Cf. via.

Visual Inspection with Acetic acid. A cheap alternative to the Pap smear, promoted for use in developing countries. Also referred to as visual inspection, direct visual inspection (DVI), and acetic acid test (AAT).

Verein der Ingenieur AgronomInnen und der LebensmittelingenieurInnen. (Capitalization sic.) Basically, this means `Society of Engineer Agronomists and Nutrition Engineers.' However, agent nouns in German generally come in different male and female forms. There was a time (in German as in many other European languages) when you could simply use the male forms, and depending on context those forms would be understood as either strictly male or not. The clumsy alternative is to give both forms, and VIAL did that too: ``Der Fachverein der Ingenieur Agronominnen und -Agronomen und der Lebensmittelingenieurinnen und - ingenieure (VIAL) heisst Dich an der ETH Zürich und am Departement für Agrar- und Lebensmittelwissenschaften (D-AGRL) herzlich willkommen.'' [`The professional society of female and male Engineer Agronomists and of Nutrition Engineers female and male (VIAL) bids You a hearty welcome to the ETH Zürich and to the Department of Agronomic and Nutrition Science (D-AGRL).'] Gag me with a ladle. You probably noticed that they used the outrageously antediluvian ``ladies first'' order... twice! This proves that the writers are disgusting unreconstructed sexists.

However, either to conserve Ink or In a baldly insincere effort to be politically correcter than thou, the standard expansion of VIAL (given at the top of this entry) uses only the female forms of the agent nouns and capitalizes the first letter of the suffixes that indicate gender. It's like writing ``hostEsses'' to mean ``hosts and hostesses.'' Further curmudgeonly ruminations on this sort of stuff can be found at the gender-inclusive and CLC-CTC entries.

Incidentally, the capitalization of the pronoun dich is conventional. (Dich is the singular familiar form of `you' in the accusative case, cognate with English thee.) In letters and some other texts, German capitalizes all second-person pronouns. (First-person pronouns -- like ich [`I'] -- are not capitalized except as required by other grammatical rules: at the beginning of a sentence, say, or in noun use such as Freud's ``das Ich'' [`the ego'].)

The formal second-person pronouns are always capitalized. I suppose that one reason it occurred to me to mention this is the pronoun Ihnen, the formal second-person personal pronoun. It has (as the spelling indicates) the long i vowel instead of the short one that occurs in the feminizing suffix discussed above (plural form -innen). So these don't sound entirely the same, as they also do not quite look the same. [I refer to standard German pronunciation. Educated native speakers of German from Switzerland and southern Germany are effectively bilingual in the rather different standard and home dialects. (The phenomenon is known as diglossia.) Vowel quantity distinctions are different in the local German.] Anyway, a quick reading of the acronym expansion above nevertheless gives the impression of `Society of Engineer Agronomist-to-you and Nutrition Engineer-to-you.' (Needless to say, the word ``engineer,'' with its cognates, is used here as an aggrandizing courtesy title, as in the euphemism ``sanitation engineer'' for garbage collector.)

For your convenience, the organization has changed its name to SVIAL.

Value Inquiry Book Series. An international scholarly program founded in 1992. It publishes philosophical works in all areas of value inquiry. (That's values as in ethical, moral, and political values.) It's published by Editions Rodopi, Amsterdam and New York, and the package is sometimes confusingly written as ``VIBS-RODOPI.''

Did the thought even cross your mind that maybe you should see what VIBS means? (Sorry, bad day.)

Volcano Information Center. ``The purpose of [VIC] is to provide links to websites that are resources for data not contained in VIC and to inform the user about general volcanology in an organized way, including features of volcanoes, volcanic eruptions and volcanic hazards.''

`in place of.' Latin.

Brand of cough remedies and stuff.

Voluntary Inter-industry Commerce Standard for Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).

Victoria Day
Not a famous member of the Day family, but a public holiday in Canada. I've encountered slightly conflicting information in my sources on the history of this holiday, so the next two paragraphs should be regarded as provisional.

Queen Victoria's birthday (May 24) was declared a holiday by the legislature of the united Canadas in 1845. It continued to be celebrated after Confederation in 1867, but in years when this fell on a Sunday, a proclamation was issued moving the celebration to the following Monday (viz., May 25). (Between 1845 and the end of the nineteenth century, I am pretty sure that May 24 fell on a Sunday in 1846, 1857, 1863, 1868, 1874, 1885, 1891, and 1896.)

The year she died (1901), the Canadian Parliament established the anniversary of her birth as a holiday. This continued until 1952. Since then, Victoria Day has been celebrated on the last Monday before May 25, which means that it can fall as early as May 18. I hate that kind of rule. Some dates you just know, and it feels silly to be celebrating almost a week early or late.

Victoria Day is celebrated primarily in parts of the British Commonwealth whose names begin with C: Canada, the Cayman Islands, and Caledonia. Regarding the last: it's actually celebrated in scattered parts of Scotland. When the Scots finally gain the complete partial independence they want -- complete self-government plus representation at Westminster, taxes no, subsidies yes -- I imagine they will celebrate not celebrating Victoria Day.

The famous Days I alluded to in the first sentence of the entry are Doris and Dorothy. Dorothy Day co-founded the Catholic Worker Movement with Peter Maurin in 1933. They advocated inefficient means of production (``worthy labor'').

Doris Day was a real famous actress, but she wasn't a real Day. She was born Doris Mary Ann von Kappelhoff and changed her name to Doris Day at the suggestion of band leader Barney Rapp sometime in the late 1930's. The name occured to him after he heard her sing ``Day by Day.'' Her signature song, however, was ``Que Sera, Sera.'' [That's the English spelling, by the way. In Spanish it's ``Que Será, Será.'' Any way you choose or look at it, though, her song involves two of something simple.]

A member of the Day family who is famous in Canada is Stockwell. He led the Canadian Alliance Party to second place in Canada's federal elections in November 2000. Canadian election campaigns are not perpetual, as in the US, but instead last only about a month. This might be going too far in the direction of brevity, leading to problems with name recognition. In the November 2000 campaign, Stockwell Day had only been party leader since July. A voter interviewed in Winnipeg, who said he couldn't vote for (Liberal leader) Jean Chrétien, was asked if he knew about Stockwell Day. He hesitated, and then asked ``when is it?'' Journalists live for these moments; they probably interviewed thousands of confused-looking street people just so they wouldn't have to make the story up. Therefore, I imagine that they also asked the obvious follow-up question, but that the interviewee did know about Victoria Day.

Even without the help of journalists, Stockwell Day kept his political performance well-stocked with opportunities for ridicule. (I make no claim regarding the fairness of the ridicule.) Two weeks before the election, a CBC-TV show called ``This Hour Has 22 Minutes'' found an amusing way to ridicule a CA reform proposal. As outlined in briefing books distributed to Alliance candidates, the proposal was that a petition by 3% of the electorate could force a national referendum on any issue, such as abortion, capital punishment, or immigration, or less pressing issues. On the show, comedian Rick Mercer urged viewers to log onto This Hour's website and subscribe to the proposition ``that the government of Canada force Stockwell Day to change his first name to Doris.''

That 3% threshold then amounted to a bit under 400,000 voters. (I guess only registered voters count towards the electorate, and not those eligible to vote who might yet register in time.) The show has about a million viewers, the proposition was apparently popular with many of those viewers, and Canada is certainly among the most Internet-active countries. At one point, ``signatures'' were accumulating at a rate of 10,000 per hour, and in a few days the 400,000 threshold was far exceeded. It doubtless helped that there was no mechanism to prevent anyone from registering the same name and email address two or two hundred times. As the show's full name suggests, they might even be quantitatively challenged. Confusion can arise. Chrétien, who made the Day-name proposition part of his own campaigning, had occasional trouble getting the program name straight. At one rally, he called the show ``This Hour has 22 Hours'' until he was corrected by the audience. Later, at a MuchMusic interview, he tried ``This Hour has 20-20 minutes?''

Obviously, Canadian culture doesn't get any respect -- at least from some people. In fact, if you're an American, this is the first time you've heard of any of these people or events. They took place in C-A-N-A-D-A, a neighboring country. Canadian news is not reported in the US. Canadians consider Americans' inattention to Canada deplorable, either because it is inappropriate or because it is appropriate. Anyway, even without the news black-out, that month there was a riveting distraction stateside that sucked up the limited supplies of American attention: a close presidential election that took about four years to resolve.

Meanwhile back in Canada, Stockwell Day was getting walloped on the Doris issue. After a few days of this he decided to roll with the punches. The political counteroffensive seems to have begun on the Alliance campaign plane, which he'd dubbed ``Prayer Force One.'' (Hey, have I said anything about ridicule opportunities yet? I'll have to remember to mention that. Stockwell Day was made Minister of Public Safety in Stephen Harper's government.) Shortly after the plane took off on a flight from Edmonton to Brandon, Doris Day's voice came on over the intercom, singing ``Que Será, Será.'' Then Stockwell Day came dancing and singing into the section of the plane where reporters and cameramen were wearing their safety belts and facing their air-sickness bags. When they learned about this, the estimated 8.3 Americans who keep abreast of Canadian events all had the same horrifying flashback: Reform Party founder and presidential candidate H. Ross Perot dances to Patsy Cline's ``Crazy,'' election night 1996.

Shudder. Let's move on. Victoria Day is a Canadian holiday commemorating Queen Victoria's birthday or Monday, whichever comes sooner. We've covered Canada, now let's do Alexandrina Victoria. Crown Princess Victoria was 12 in August 1831 when, during parliamentary discussion of a grant to the Duchess of Kent (her mother), there was a suggestion that her name be changed to Elizabeth as something ``more accordant to the feelings of the people.'' There seems to have been some powerful support behind the idea, but the moment must have passed. In 1836, King William IV approved of a proposal to change it to Charlotte. To Victoria's delight and my relief, the proposal was dropped. ``The Charlottean Era'' doesn't have the same ring. The teenage princess acceded to the throne the very next year, and in 1840 married her beloved Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. In a future episode of this entry, I will relate the Kaiser's clever remark when he heard about the House of Windsor. If you can't wait, you can read it now at the UK entry.

Some Days not mentioned in the foregoing entry are mentioned at this other Day-related entry.

Village Independent Democrats. A political group in Greenwich Village in New York City (NYC). Originally a liberal reformist faction within the Tawana Club, which latter was the local clubhouse for Tammany Hall. Edward Koch got his start in politics there, making street-corner speeches for Adlai Stevenson (AES) in the 1956 campaign. In 1962 he ran unsuccessfully for the NY State Assembly. His three main campaign planks were
  1. repeal of state criminal laws against Sodomy
  2. relaxation of prohibitions on Abortion
  3. making Divorce easier

Even in Greenwich Village, this was known as the SAD campaign.

The famous writer Gore Vidal was born Eugene Luther Vidal, in 1925, into an upper-class, well-connected family, and he grew up to be an enfant terrible. He idolized his maternal grandfather, Thomas P. Gore, for many decades the senior US Senator from Oklahoma.

He seems to have a talent for putting words in other peoples' mouths that they didn't say.


French adjective `empty' or noun `vacuum.' Vide etiam vide.

Latin imperative `see.' (Plural form is videte. I suppose that could come in handy in church.) Commonly used as an instruction to visit another part of a book or work. Suetonius, in sec. 37 of his Lives of the Caesars, claimed that Julius Caesar said ``veni, vidi, vici'' (`I came, I saw, I conquered'). Maybe he did, but JC was murdered in 44 BCE, and Suetonius was born in 69 CE.


vide ante
Latin, `see before.' Isn't it too late for that?! (Used synonymously with vide supra.)


vide etiam
Latin `see also.' Used with and like vide. I think some things are obvious. If you want a bit of citation Latin that isn't so obvious, try ibid. Vide etiam vid. id.


vid. id.
Vide idem. Latin for `see also.' This is not a common Latin abbreviation. In fact, considering how bad my Latin is, vide idem may not even be Latin. But let's face it: vide etiam has had its chance, and it just hasn't caught fire.


vide infra
See below.


vide infra
Latin meaning `see below.' Commonly used as an instruction to look further down the page or later in the book. So it's kind of bookish. But you could work it into normal conversation as an instruction to look down. Vide vide. Vide etiam vide etiam. Vide vide supra (infra). There's also a vide post (vide post). And of course q.v. (q.v.).


`I see' in Latin. See veo.

The Buggles had a huge international hit in 1979 with ``Video Killed The Radio Star.'' On August 1, 1981, the video for this song became the first ever aired by MTV.

video encoding
There are three widely used standards: NTSC, PAL, and SECAM (qq.v.). NTSC is standard in most of the Americas and in Japan, SECAM is the standard in France and the former Soviet empire; PAL is used in the German-speaking countries, Australia, the UK, and probably in most other non-Francophone countries of the Eastern hemisphere, but check before you buy.

The definitions of the standards are general enough to allow, in principle, for arbitrary screen resolutions and field rates. In practice, however, each standard is used primarily in one mode: NTSC mostly uses 525 lines/frame and 60 Hz (i.e., 30 frames/sec); PAL and SECAM mostly use 625 lines/frame and 50 Hz. (Vide line frequency.) There are exceptions, however: Brazil uses PAL with 525 lines and 60 Hz (``PAL-M''). [The frame rate is half the stated frequency because alternate lines are interleaved: in successive raster scans the odd and even lines are rewritten alternately. This produces smoother-looking motion.]

It is not necessary that the frame rate equal the line frequency or divide it evenly or, in fact, that it have any particular numerical relation to it. For example, in 60 Hz NTSC encoding, a color sync signal is ``squeezed in'' by sending frames very-slightly-less frequently: the frame rate is 59.94 Hz.

The reason for using a frame rate equal to about half the line frequency is to minimize the effects of power line interference. For example, if power-line interference causes the image intensity to increase every 1/60th of a second and the frame rate is 30 per second, then the brightness is distorted at a fixed place on the screen. If the frame rate were 24/sec, common for movie film, then the bright region would drift up the screen (for a screen image that was scanned top-to-bottom). Note that the brightness distortion appears at one height rather than two, even though the frame rate is only half the frequency of the distortion signal; this is because of the way images are interleaved: at 30 frames per second, a full-screen image is projected every sixtieth of a second, but only at half density: odd and even lines are scanned alternately. A kind of line-frequency interference is seen in TV pictures of TV pictures: Given the 50 Hz that is prevalent in Europe, American television images recorded optically (i.e. by training a camera on a European screen) will show a pattern moving downward across the screen.

In Japan, which uses NTSC, half the country uses 50 Hz and half the country uses 60 Hz line voltage.

In addition to video encoding scheme, the broadcast encoding (audio signal) varies. PAL-I, -B, and -G are all PAL 625/50, but while -B is commonly used for VHF, for UHF Germany and the UK use -I, while Australia uses -G. [PAL-I uses 6 MHz sound-vision spacing; PAL-B uses 5.5 MHz (there are minor differences in the size of the vestigial sideband as well).]

Virtual Interactive Design of Electronic and Optoelectronic Systems. A programme for ``innovative methods for high fidelity computational modelling of the next generation of optoelectronic and electronic devices and systems using state-of-the-art parallel processing and network access across the Internet.'' Research conducted under a University of Glasgow / University of Strathclyde joint SHEFC-funded Research Development Grant.


vide post
Latin, `see after.' Commonly used expression synonymous with vide infra. Well, not especially common. To be perfectly honest, it's been years since I read any of these vide directions in anything I didn't write myself. I'm starting to get lonely.


vide supra
Latin, `see above.' Commonly used (yeah, sure) as an instruction to look up the page or earlier in the book. Why don't you go to the vide entry (vide supra) and read down from there, just to make sure you didn't miss anything.


vide supra
See above.

Not the name of a text editor. Try vi, pronounced `vee-eye.'

The Fleetwood Mac song is called ``Rhiannon.'' It only sounds like ``Vienna.'' For more on such mondegreens, see the deconstruction entry. Sorry, that's just how the glossary is organized. Be grateful I at least placed a cross-reference here.

Food for thought if you have a hard time imagining how speakers of East Asian languages might have difficulty distinguishing /r/ and /l/. Note also that in Czech, the sound we write zh (the s in measure and vision) is written with a hachek on r. And spare a thought (a nasty one; something involving their ancestors) for those who pronounce régime as ``rih-JEEM'' with the j of Jim.

viewers like you
People who, unlike you, contributed to public broadcast stations (directly, not just by paying taxes). As best I have been able to estimate, there are in fact only five ``viewers like you'' in the entire country (John, Dee, Catherine, Tee, and MacArthur). They're rich, they use pseudonyms, and they were surprised when Alistair Cooke stayed dead instead of rising again. [If you don't know what I'm talking about, it may be that you haven't had a moment to watch US public TV anytime these past forty years. Don't be embarrassed: most people haven't. To get up to speed, just visit our convenient PBS entry, particularly the bit after CPB is mentioned.]

Cooke was originally named Alfred, but changed his name to Alistair because that's more pretentious. In Britain, Alistair Cooke was known for LfA, which I'm not going to define here so you might as well make up your mind to follow the link. In the US, Cooke had a long-time gig as the introducer-shill for episodes of a made-for-BBC-TV drama series called ``Masterpiece Theatre.'' Masterpiece Theatre had a thick patina of culcha, but was so extremely tedious that only viewers like you and the terminally pretentious elite could bear to watch it, and that only for pride. It was the Emperor's New Clothes of television. A few high-speed car chases and some nudity would have improved the claustrophobic, dreary ``Upstairs, Downstairs'' immensely. MT-watching was a leading cause of depression, alcoholism, and suicide in the pretentious classes, so let's have more of it.

VIsualization Graphics Library. A distributed graphics library built using Tcl/Tk. Described in U.C. Berkeley Technical Report CSD-93-764, 1993. I'm not surprised that link is dead.

VIrtual Gap States. Appear at semiconductor heterointerfaces in Jerry Tersoff's theory of band line-ups in non-reacting interfaces [Phys. Rev. B 30, 4874 (1984).]

Virus de Inmunodeficiencia Humana, virus d'immunodéficience humaine. Spanish and French, respectively, for `Human Immunodeficiency Virus' (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS.

Also spelled ``villain'' and a bunch of other ways. Middle English spelling was not at all standardized. Once, the word referred to a member of the wealthiest class of peasant, typically cultivating scattered plots totaling maybe 20-40 acres.

According to Barbara Tuchman's book about the terrible fourteenth century, however, the term referred to any kind of peasant, although it excluded serfs. Over time, of course, the term took an increasingly negative connotation, and then denotation, as it came to have its current meaning.

In origin, the word simply referred to someone from a ville.

Vendor Independent Messaging.

Vi IMproved. A freeware vi work-alike with many additional features.

Vocabulaire international des termes fondamentaux et généraux de métrologie. `International Vocabulary of Basic and General Terms in Metrology. Published by ISO, every decade or so now. Here's the April 2004 draft document.

vim and vigor
Vigor and vigor.

Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer. An instrument on NASA's Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and Titan. It seems like ``mission'' in almost any context is a euphemism for spying.

Vacuum Induction Melting/Vacuum ARc furnace. Refers to a standard double-melt process for making a high-purity stainless steel for use in semiconductor process gas lines and mass-flow controllers (MFC's). The resulting material is relatively inexpensive and not especially hard to machine, and fairly proof against reactions with pyrophoric gases (i.e. silane) and corrosive ones (hydrogen halides), and has a low density of the surface sites that might collect the seeds of future destruction from inert gases (nitrogen, hydrogen, argon). Its greatest weakness is in protection against corrosive gases.

Vehicle Identification Number. Seventeen characters, required by 49 CFR 565. (Title 49 is transportation law; section 565... uh, I can't find.) The characters can be numbers or (upper case) letters. I can't tell the zeros from the ohs.

The tenth character indicates the year:
CodeYear CodeYear CodeYear
A1980 L1990 Y2000
B1981 M1991 12001
C1982 N1992 22002
D1983 P1993 32003
E1984 R1994 42004
F1985 S1995 52005
G1986 T1996 62006
H1987 V1997 72007
J1988 W1998 82008
K1989 X1999 92009

Hmmm. It looks like they gave some thought to the distinguishability problem.

VIN is pronounced as an acronym sensu strictu (i.e., pronounced as a word, like laser) and also as an initialism (``vee eye en''). The acronym form often occurs as an AAP pleonasm. You could suppose it served as the model for ``PIN number,'' if heedlessness needed a model. Pronounced as an initialism, it is probably less likely to become (the corresponding entity) an a.-a.p. pleonasm. This unuseful paragraph is the electronic equivalent of motormouth -- just so you know.

This is a traditional ``retained'' name for a simple unsaturated alkyl radical. In the ``standard'' IUPAC system, this is ethenyl:

In common usage, `vinyl' is polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic.

The most prominent use of vinyl, for many years, was in audio discs called ``records,'' based on a largely mechanical analog encoding. Hence ``vinyl'' was used as an uncountable noun equivalent to records. Expressions like ``record company'' and ``gold record'' continue in use, but the physical medium used for storing and selling new music is now rarely ``records.'' For a different kind of record altogether, see the AREA entry.

What you get from vinyl when you remove the one of the hydrogens from the carbon that's got two:

As written, this is a free radical. More commonly, the radical is bonded and ``vinylene'' refers to the CHCH functional group. One can't say that vinylene double-bonds, and its two bonds would each normally be sigma-type. Note, however, that in a molecule like cyclopropene (C3H4), both single bonds of a vinylene group are to the same atom (carbon, in this case).

The IUPAC-approved name is ethenylene, but no one really cares. All that matters is what Chemical Abstracts prefers.

What you get from vinyl when you remove the single hydrogen from the carbon that's only got one to lose:

As written, this is a free radical. More commonly, the radical is bonded (either double-bonded or twice single-bonded) and ``vinylidene'' refers to the CH2C functional group.

Perhaps you've wondered why parking meters have a yellow ``VIOLATION'' flag, in addition to the red ``EXPIRED,'' since in ordinary use the yellow flag is only visible (if ever) while coins are added. The yellow flag is just an out-of-order sign. Meters are designed so that the most common failure modes (jamming by a slug, for example) will bring up this flag. It says ``VIOLATION'' instead of ``Out of Order'' because it's a parking violation to park at a metered space with a malfunctioning meter.

Most people are unaware of this, and municipalities have evidently begun (after a few short decades' delay) to make the system less mysterious. One approach is to use a longer, more explicit message than ``violation.'' Another, which I saw in the visitor parking meters at Purdue Calumet in August 1997, is making the VIOLATION flags the same color as the EXPIRED flags. Definitely check it out!

All the puns I've ever heard about dogma and karma involve the latter running over the former, and never the former chasing the latter.

Illumination engineers generally take the optical spectrum as the range of wavelengths between 380 nm and 760 nm. Yeah, that's one octave. The sensitivity to light at the edges of the spectrum falls off continuously, so the edge of the spectrum is somewhat arbitrary. The precise value of 760 nm probably reflects a strong desire to justify prejudices described at the Roy G. Biv entry. One of those is to have the spectral lights extend across one octave. The other prejudice is the desire to have seven color ranges, corresponding to a musical scale of eight notes in an octave. Hence the term ``violet'' is assigned the range 380-420 nm, and ``indigo'' the range 420-440 nm. This is very silly. If measured in terms of smallest perceptible difference, the entire range of indigo and violet spectral lights combined is roughly one twentieth the range of blue spectral lights (physically 440-490 nm). That is, there are twenty times as many distinguishable shades of blue in the spectrum as there are shades of indigo and violet combined.

Very Important Person. Pronounced in Russian as ``veep,'' which, when you think of it, is sort of ironic. Motown used to own a label called V.I.P., which was also sort of ironic, since it was used for less-successful acts that didn't rate one of the higher-prestige labels (Motown, Gordy, Tamla, and Soul).


From what I can tell, ``very important personage'' was about as common an expression in the nineteenth century as ``very important person,'' and a novel published in 1946 gives ``very important personage'' as the expansion of V.I.P. (see the BF entry), but I think that today, the -age expansion is very aged indeed.

Very Important Playboys. In September 1963, long-time FBI director J. Edgar Hoover received an invitation from the New York Playboy Club, courtesy of HMH himself. The invitation included a complimentary club key, and the V.I.P. room was commended to Mr. Hoover's attention, but even he would have to call ahead for reservations. He had other reservations and never went. As a boy growing up in the 1930's, HMH describes himself as having been a fan.

We have the preceding important information thanks to files released to APBNews.com under the FOIA. They also got some feedback from Hef, available in stream format at the site. He recalled ruefully that as a boy growing up in the 1930's, he had admired the FBI. A NYTimes article (page 7 of the October 8, 2000 Week In Review) picked up the story and mentions the apbnews item as a source; I'm not sure the NYT did any actual reporting beyond that. APBNews, also accessible at the domain apb.com, specializes primarily in crime and justice news, secondarily in safety issues. I had a hard time finding APBnews's Hoover/Hefner story with their search function, but I did learn about FBI vigilance to protect us all from Groucho Marxism. I suppose the name (apbnews, not Groucho) stems from the common police abbreviation APB.

To give the FBI devil its limited due, it was following up the groundless complaints of citizen cranks and repeatedly concluded that Groucho (which they often misspelled Graucho) Marx was not a subversive. In fact, he was a political coward, who quit some left-leaning Hollywood organizations when he heard that he was being described as a Cadillac Communist. Groucho Marx was not a Marxist.

Karl Marx once also said that he was not a Marxist. The comment is discussed in detail in Hal Draper's three-volume Karl Marx's Theory Of Revolution (1977), foreword of vol. 2, pp. 5-7. Karl Marx was objecting to the dogmatic or rigid application of his ideas by French Marxists whose discipleship he evidently did not approve. The quip was a favorite of Engels's, and it is only on his authority that we have it. Hmmm.

Eddy Mitchell and any number of others are credited with coining the witticism

Je suis marxiste -- tendance Groucho!

There was a common postage stamp in the Soviet Union, showing Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin standing shoulder to shoulder, at an angle to each other, each looking up into the inspirational distance at opposite corners of your envelope. After the fall of the Soviet Union, one of the former republics (Kazakhstan or maybe Uzbekistan, I think) issued a postage stamp that parodied that one, with Groucho Marx and John Lennon in place of Karl Marx and Lenin. One of the lyrics in Don McLean's ``American Pie'' was

And while Lennon read a book on Marx,

The FBI and the CIA investigated John Lennon more vigorously than Groucho Marx, trying to find an excuse to deport him. The FBI file on Frank Sinatra ran to 1275 pages and has been edited by Tom and Phil Kuntz into a 268-page book entitled The Sinatra Files: The Secret FBI Dossier. In one memo of that file, a G-man wrote ``Sinatra denied that he sympathized with Lenin and the Marx Brothers.'' More on Sinatra and the FBI at this point in the glossary, which for subtle reasons happens to lie within the KFC entry.

Vitiligo Information Pages. (There's a vitiligo entry in this glossary as well, so everyone can understand what an albatross it is for a cause to have a posterboy like Michael Jackson.)

Virgo. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation.

Virus in the blood.

Vide feudal land measure.


Publius Vergilius Maro. If interested, you might subscribe to Mantovano -- An Online, Ongoing Discussion of Virgil and His Influence.

Given Vergil's signal service guiding Dante through Hell and back, it's not surprising that an Italian internet guide is called Virgilio.

Here's the beginning of a review from 2001, of the PC video game called Virtual Pool 3:
The ``Virtual'' tag, which probably seemed kinda ``now'' when the original game appeared seven years ago, these days smells like a leftover of antiquated cyber-lingo.

This is from Videogames: The Ultimate Guide, based on reviews from Britain's best-selling game magazines. There's also an uncatty review of the original Virtual Pool, for a PS-1 platform, from February 1997. Those are the only games with names beginning in Virtual (not counting Virtua games).

After the collapse of communism in Bulgaria, epidemics of real computer viruses temporarily subsided, to be replaced by the much less virulent email virus hoaxes. Check out http://ciac.llnl.gov/ciac/CIACHoaxes.html for information, including an amusing ``Good Times Spoof'' (named after the legendary ``Good Times'' virus hoax). Symantec serves a more up-to-date page of hoaxes.

Verification Interacting with Synthesis. ``[A] verification and synthesis system for finite-state hardware systems, which is being developed at Berkeley and Boulder.'' A successor to HSIS and SMV.

Vertically { Interconnected | Integrated } Sensor Arrays.

VISualization Accelerator.

VIetnamese Standard Code for Information Interchange. Gee, I wonder how they dreamed up this acronym. In English, yet. VISCII is necessary because Vietnamese is written with a large number of accented vowels, which don't fit into the usual ISO Latin-# scheme.

Volunteers In Service To America. Sort of a domestic Peace Corps.

Visual Basic
The Visual Basic Project kept moving its homepage at first. It seems to have settled down at http://www.vbproj.com/, at least since 96.11.21. There are VB FAQ's in hypertext format at OSU, associated with the comp.lang.basic.visual newsgroup.

A Latin word meaning `life.' Root of the adjective vital. If you think of the etymology, the term ``vital statistics'' makes more sense. Cf. vitamin.

VMEbus International Trade Association. ``Promoting Open Technology Solutions.''

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. Don't get your hopes up: it's just a bunch of IRS-trained volunteers who help low-income taxpayers to fill out their tax forms. They don't assist in paying the taxes.

A word introduced by Casimir Funk in a 1912 article in the Journal of State Medicine (a British journal of public health medicine published by the RIPHH). The landmark article, in vol. 20, pp. 341-68, was entitled ``The etiology of the deficiency diseases. Beri-beri, polyneuritis in birds, epidemic deopsy, scurvy, experimental scurvy in animals, infantile scurvy, ship beri-beri, pellagra.'' He wrote (p. 342)
It is now known that all these diseases, with the exception of pellagra, can be prevented and cured by the addition of certain preventive substances; the deficient substances, which are of the nature of organic bases, we will call vitamines; and we will speak of a beri-beri or scurvy vitamine, which means a substance preventing the special disease.

(Funk guessed, correctly, that pellagra was a vitamin-deficiency disease.) The neologism vitamine was self-evidently a compound of vita (Latin for `life') with -amine. The word vita is discussed at the CV entry and in detail at one A.M. entry. Its occurrence in the word vitamine was explained in an article in the Times Literary Supplement on, of all days, November 11, 1915: ``The point about vitamines is that without them the animal ceases to grow or becomes diseased on a physiologically pure diet.'' The ``physiologically pure diet'' referred to is one containing only the bulk nutrients -- protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

The amine business was a bit speculative on Funk's part. A reasonable guess, since the most common organic bases are all amines. Eventually it was recognized that not all of what Funk counted as vitamines were amines, and so the word vitamin was proposed and accepted. (A similar change could have been made in Spanish, but was not: amina is `amine' and vitamina is still the word for `vitamin.')

In English, the word vitamin is pronounced with primary accentual stress on the first syllable and perhaps some secondary stress on the last. The second and third vowels are typically shwas, but in careful pronunciation the third vowel is a short i. The first syllable has different vowels in British and American pronunciations. In Britain, the i is short; in American it's long. By ``long,'' of course, I mean that it is either the half-long i usually used before an unvoiced consonants by those who articulate different long i's, or it's just the undistinguished long i. (The half-long i is shwa followed by /i:/, the ordinary long i is /ai:/.)

Here is Edmund Wilson criticizing a practice of Van Wyck Brooks that he thinks Brooks borrowed from Léon Bazalgette.

``[Brooks] has attempted to convey the qualities of the literary personalities he deals with by compounding a kind of paste out of their writings. This paste he spreads on the page and expects it to give us the essence of his author. But, though sometimes, as in the case of an inferior figure like Longfellow, he does succeed in extracting thus a tone and a color which we should not easily catch in dipping into Longfellow himself, since it is necessary to boil down a good deal of such a poet in order to distinguish a flavor--on the other hand, with a first-rate writer like Emerson or Hawthorne or Thoreau, you simply get a sort of predigested sample which seems to have had all the vitamins taken out of it and which causes constant irritation to an admirer of these authors, because it gives the impression of a travesty that is always just off-key and off-color.

(This is from Wilson's essay ``Van Wyck Brooks's Second Phase,'' first published in the September 30, 1940 TNR, and reprinted in Classics & Commercials. Vide etiam obscure allusions.)

Vertical Interval Time Code.

The disease that turned Michael Jackson's skin pink. On the other hand, the disease that smoothed his hair, narrowed and shrank his nose, and reshaped and clefted his chin is an acute case of money. According to the Merck Manual, the medical profession knows no satisfactory treatment for the former affliction. As his then-pre-ex Lisa Marie pointed out to Diane Sawyer: ``he's an artist, he has a perfect right.''

Still, these things don't make him a babe (in the technical sense, I mean) so how those blind Limey customs agents mistook LaToya for Michael on June 30, 1995, no one will ever understand.

Flash! According to the front page of the March 12, 1996 National Examiner, MJ's skin problem has gone into spontaneous remission! Stay tuned here, where we will not be keeping you posted! Send your own damn money to Lantana, Florida!

Okay, we relent. In November 1996, Jacko married his second wife, Debbie Rowe, whom he met and had known for fifteen years as an assistant to a dermatologist who has been treating him for vitiligo. (See, this entry really is about vitiligo!) Doctor and assistant often accompanied Jackson on his tours.

In 1984, before Elton John officially emerged from the closet, he married a sound engineer in Sydney. Interviewed on the reputedly ``nice'' Rosie O'Donnell talk show after Jackson and Rowe were married in Sydney, John commented that Australia was where ``all the loonies get married.''

According to vicious rumors [i.e., rumors that if true would be embarrassing, and if not true are still embarrassing] Rowe was impregnated artificially, and the marriage has not been consummated. [This situation suggests technical issues that we will not address.] If true, this would certainly simplify the matter of divorce. California is ``a community property state.'' It's not the only one. On the other hand, there was a prenuptial agreement (this is generally presumed, and frequently even described in detail).

This entry is losing its way. I disclaim any responsibility for this situation. I have an alibi. I was away at the time.

Michael Jackson is known by some as the ``King of Pop.'' Pop here does not stand for `father.' In any case, he seems to be some kind of royalty. For the story of another royal whose marriage was unconsummated, see the Audrey entry. For the story of one recent royal who appears to have consummated an LTR that is not a marriage (not that this is unusual) see the scurrilous nonsense at Stark Effect.

Oddly enough, there's another Kriman (cousin? Boris) on the web who has more to say about the treatment of vitiligo.

See also the Vitiligo Information Pages V.I.P.

VHDL International User Forum.

Old, but try to act young. Personals ad vocabulary.

(Chicago Board Options Exchange's Market) Volatility IndeX. A/k/a ``Fear Index.'' Historically, it has been in the range of 18 to 20. In October 2008, it peaked at 89.



That is to say, namely. Commonly used to introduce examples. This expression lies ambiguously between i.e. and e.g., in the following way: The list of examples that follows it may not be an exhaustive list, in which case it means something like e.g. Alternatively, the list following it may be exhaustive or complete, from some point of view, in which case viz. means something like i.e. This expression is a good way of covering your ass when you don't understand a thing well enough to define it, but you think that you can give a list that probably covers all cases.

Viz. is an abbreviation of the Latin adverb videlicet, which originally meant something like ``clearly,'' and came from the expression videre licet, meaning ``to be able to see.'' You may ask: `where does the z come from?' What z? Oh! That z. The one in the abbreviation. Well, this may be hard to believe, but back in the Middle Ages, before the time when life started to get hectic, books were reproduced by hand. Even monks, who have centuries to work, would get writer's cramp, so they would come to another long and frequently-appearing word like videlicet, peer down towards the end of it and think: `everyone knows what the word is.' Like good sports they'd start out to write it, but by the time they'd written v i they would begin to LOSE HEART, so they'd just sort of write a squiggle that looks like a resistor in a circuit diagram, except that those things didn't exist yet. Instead, they saw that it resembled a z (especially a script z), so they got into the habit of writing v i z.

(Click here for top) Previous section: V (top) to VEX (bottom)

Next section: VJ, V-J (top) to VQT (bottom)

[ Thumb tabs and search tool] [ SBF Homepage ]

If your browser has brought you directly to this message, you have followed an outdated link. Click here now and we will try to direct you to the appropriate file.

Space above was intentionally left free of glossary definitions so that links to bottom of document can appear at the top of the screen display.

© Alfred M. Kriman 1995-2012 (c)