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B b

Basic. Not that it was ever called that, but the B programming language was a simplified version of BCPL, in the name of which the B stood for Basic. B was a typeless language like BCPL, and like BCPL also it is remembered today for its genealogical connection to C, explained at the Algol entry.

B was created in 1970 by Ken Thompson for the first Unix system on the PDP-7. A manual from 1972, for a PDP-11/Unix-11 implementation, is served by Dennis M. Ritchie online. From the abstract there: ``B is a computer language intended for recursive, primarily non-numeric applications typified by system programming. B has a small, unrestrictive syntax that is easy to compile. Because of the unusual freedom of expression and a rich set of operators, B programs are often quite compact.''

The ``rich set of operators'' included & and * for pointer manipulation (pointers were first introduced PL/I) and the shorthand assignment operators ===, =!=, =<, =<=, =>, =>=, =&, =|, =<<, =>>, =+, =-, =%, =*, and =/. [In B, the result of the binary relational and (in)equality operators was an integer 0 or 1.] Except for the first six, these were incorporated into C. (Of course, === is now used as a comparison operator in many object-oriented languages.)

The earliest versions of C maintained the same symbols that had been used in B for the shorthand assignment operators, in ``=<op>'' form. This led to problems with symbols that represent unary operations in addition to the binary operations understood in the shorthand assignments (viz., &, -, and *, as well as what one might call a unary identity operator: the optional + immediately preceding a numeric literal). For example,

may look like an ordinary assignment of -1 to x, but in B (and obsolete versions of C) it simply decrements x. Similar problems occur with expressions like x=--y. By the time K&R was published (1978), the =<op> symbols had been flipped to unambiguous <op>= form. In that book, the older form is described (Appendix A, sec. 17) following this sentence: ``Although most versions of the compiler support such anachronisms, ultimately they will disappear, leaving only a portability problem behind.''

If that manual is to be believed, identifiers (variable names and such) were slightly more general than those of C in the following surprising way. In both languages, identifiers must begin with an alpha character and continue with alphanumeric characters, where the alphanumeric set consists of alpha characters and digits. In C, alphas are the 52 alphabetic characters (26 upper- and lower-case ASCII letters) and underscore. In B, alphas included those characters and backspace?! This gives one the advantage of creating identifiers with overstruck characters, but on those displays where that would have worked, it could have been difficult to distinguish distinct variable names constructed with different sequences of the same characters. (E.g., an AB with an I overstruck on each letter could be any of A^HIB^HI, AB^H^HII, I^HAI^HB, or five similar sequences, not to mention identifiers with more than two ^H. Since spaces are not legal identifier characters, something like A ^H^HII^HB would be forbidden. Thus, identifiers with more than two ^H would either be shorter than they appear, like I^HAI^HB^H, or they would have extra extra double-struck characters as in AB^H^HII^H^HIB.)

Programming languages that manipulate strings are usually written using the same characters that constitute the strings. B was no exception. The manipulation requires one or more delimiters, and these delimiters cannot represent themselves. One approach to this problem uses, say, '' to represent an apostrophe within single-quoted strings. This is the approach in Pascal, and is apparently related to the absence of zero-length strings in that language. This PL/I (F) language reference volume gives the example of

to represent SHAKESPEARE'S ''HAMLET'' ...

It is also inconvenient or impossible, depending on other syntax, to allow line breaks to represent themselves in strings. There is only one efficient general solution for representing delimiters, nonprinting characters, and any other characters that cannot appear within string literals: escapes. One character (which in turn also cannot represent itself and must be escaped) is chosen to introduce escape sequences that represent the parts of string literals that cannot represent themselves. In B (as in BCPL and presumably CPL) that escape character was the asterisk, and these escapes were defined:

*0	null
*e	end-of-file
*(	{
*)	}
*t	tab
**	*
*'	'
*"	"
*n	new line

The B language borrowed /* ... */ commenting from PL/I. This continued in C. The // style of comment was not originally part of standard C but of standard C++, though it was recognized by many C compilers. The // comment was eventually included in the C standard: ISO 9899:1999. C# has a further twist: the token /// introduces XML comments.

Abbreviation of Hebrew ben or Aramaic bar (`son, son of') used in patronymics, like Arabic ibn.

[column] In ancient times (like, increasingly from 6c. BCE to 7 c. CE, when Islam made Arabic the common language), Aramaic was the lingua franca of the Middle East, and quite influential (e.g., both of the early alphabetic scripts of India have been hypothesized to have originated from an Aramaic form of the Semitic alphabets).

(Aramaic survives as Syriac, and as a liturgical language in Judaism; some biblical texts, such as Esther, are written in the Aramaic language. A ketuba or contract [implicitly: of marriage] may be written in Hebrew or Aramaic. Hebrew today is written not using the original Hebrew alphabet but an Aramaic one that was adopted. Also Aramaic is explained here.)

The word barbarian entered most European languages from Greek, where it originally had the sense of `foreign' (adjective bárbàros, `foreign,' and various related words). Somewhat interestingly, there does not appear to be an Indo-European (IE) origin for the word. (On the other hand that is true of much of the Greek vocabulary.) Various etymologies have been proposed, but the gentle reader need not entertain them, as the Stammtisch has already decided that the origin is in the bar of eastern patronymics. (Note that longer ancestries can be indicated by multiple bars, in the style of ... son of ... son of ....)

Another etymology, no longer approved by the Stammtisch, supposed that barbarian is imitative of the language of foreigners, ``brrr-brrr' to the foreign ear. Once, Gary and I were prating about the sound of Chinese, and it occurred to Gary to ask Jun (from China) what English sounded like to him. Gary explained that to us, Chinese sounds like ``ching chang chung.'' Jun replied that to him, English sounded like ``sa se so'' [the vowels in both quotes are my best recollection after 20 years, but I'm sure of the consonants]. FWIW, as we say.

There have even been claims for an origin in the Latin for `bearded,' but the Greek term does not correspond. Okay, now you can read the Barbara entry.

B, b
Be. Chatese, texting abbreviation.

German: bei, `at, along, among.' Cognate of English by.

The number of Binding neutrons in a nucleus. The notion of binding neutrons was common enough in the 1940's, but I don't think I ever encountered it in the nuclear and elementary particle physics courses I took in the late 1970's. The idea is that a typical light nucleus that is stable has an atomic number (Z, the proton count) about equal to its neutron number (N). As the atomic number increases, the electrostatic repulsion between protons lowers the nuclear binding energy by an amount proportional to Z2/A (exactly in some simple models, and to a good approximation in fact). Hence, heavy nuclei tend to have an excess of neutrons over protons. That excess was designated the number of binding neutrons:
		B = N - Z = A - 2Z.

Bishop. In chess, not Christianity.

The Bishop initially nearer the Queen (Q) is indicated QB, for Queen's Bishop, the one on the other side KB, for King's Bishop.

These are not exactly equivalent. King's Bishop and Queen's Bishop designate files on a chessboard. (A file is a column of eight squares, ``vertical'' in the standard representation that shows the original positions of the white pieces along the bottom of the board -- viewed from high above the white side.) Bishop can designate either of those two files, as well as one of the four pieces called a Bishop. KB and QB are the files immediately adjacent to the King's and Queen's files. (To right and left, respectively, in the standard representation.)

As it happens, however, the KB and QB, if you wanted to use those designations for the pieces originally in those files, would be easy to determine: the B originally in KB always stands on a square of its own color (i.e., white KB stays on white squares, etc.). The other Bishop stays on the opposite color.

This property of a Bishop's movement serves as a model to illustrate a general physical phenomenon: Stated in physics language, that is: details of the law of motion gives rise a conservation law. In the case of the Bishop, whose law of motion constrains it to move only by integer steps along diagonals, the conserved quantity is the color of the square on which it stands. Each side begins the game with one Bishop that travels the white squares, and one that travels the black.

In particle mechanics, the most famous conservation laws are those of momentum (p) and energy, which arise from integrations over position and time, respectively.

The chess-board is the world; the pieces are the phenomena of the universe; the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature. The player on the other side is hidden from us. We know that his play is always fair, just, and patient. But also we know, to our cost, that he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance.

Thomas Henry Huxley
Lay sermons, addresses and reviews,
iii. ``A Liberal Education'' (1871)

Bomber. Prefix on military plane designations. You'll never guess what F- and FB- stand for. Longer list at USN entry.


Boron. Atomic number 5.

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

I'm sorry, I guess I don't really have a lot to say about boron. You're becoming very sleepy...when I snap my... Actually, I'm becoming very sleepy. Yaaaa, aaaaw, wn. The French call boron bore. Even Tom Lehrer didn't mention it until the second line of the third verse of his famous song. Try the BN entry.

Bravo. Not an abbreviation here, just the FCC-recommended ``phonetic alphabet.'' I.e., a set of words chosen to represent alphabetic characters by their initials. You know, ``Alpha Bravo Charlie ... .'' The idea behind the choice is to have words that the listener will be able to guess at or reconstruct accurately even through noise (or narrow bandwidth, like a telephone). Hence, ``Book'' would be no good because it might be heard as ``Took.''

``Buffalo'' should work as well.

Bunt. Lay it down.

Loosely speaking, this is called the magnetic field. Strictly speaking, it's the ``Magnetic Induction.'' H is the magnetic field. I haven't a clue what the letter stands for.

BA, B.A.
Bachelor of Arts. A receipt for payment of four years' tuition and fees. Sometimes you can get the same receipt at a 25% discount, but that may require actual work.

Bankers' Acceptance.

Bank of America. Eventually ``BankAmerica Corp.''


Barium. Atomic number 56. Name from the Greek root meaning heavy: the original heavy metal, an alkaline earth, even in the tightest definition of that term.

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

B Assembler. A program that produced assembly-language code from preprocessed B language. I think the past tense is appropriate here. See the a.out entry for the entire charade.

Batting Average. A baseball stat.

BenzAnthracene. Not coming to a Chrysler dealership near you any time in the foreseeable future.


Biblical Archaeologist. A publication of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), renamed Near Eastern Archaeology (NEA) after issue 60(#4), December 1997.

Biological Abstracts. Now owned, like the ISI citation indices, by Thomson Reuters.

(Domain code for) Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Ariadne, ``The European and Mediterranean link resource for Research, Science and Culture,'' has a page of national links.

The Cranberries have a song called ``Bosnia'' on their third album (``To The Faithful Departed''). Their vocalist Dolores O'Riordan (somebody must like her voice, I guess) takes slight metrical advantage of the fact that one can pronounce the name of the capital, Sarajevo, in four syllables (spelling pronunciation) or three (Sarevo, usual pronunciation). I think she gets about a half a dozen syllables out of Bosnia.

According to the liner notes, Dolores believes it is a ``human impossibility to obtain complete peace of mind in this dimension. There's too much suffering and pain...'' She's right; I'll return the CD.

At the welcome page of BIHNET (the first Bosnian professional ISP), a graphic gives a glimpse of how QWERTY is modified there. The BIH links page looks like a decent starting point.

Bumper to Axle. Truck dimension: precisely, the horizontal distance from the point furthest forward on the front bumper to the center of the front axle.

For more, see Chassis Dimensions in the NTEA's glossary of Truck Equipment Terms.

Business Analyst.

British Astronomical Association.

Broad Agency Announcement.


Bulletin d'archéologie algérienne.

Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives.

British Academy of Aesthetic Dentistry. Founded in 1994, it's a member of IFED, as is the BACD.

I think it'd've been cool if they had named their organization the British Academy of Artistic And Aesthetic Dentistry. Then the members could be sayin' ``we baaaad, we so baaaad.'' I mean, it's not as if dentistry suffers from a surfeit of cool.

Not good at all; ovine censure.

The English supergroup Bad Company was formed in 1973 and named after the 1972 movie of the same name, which was a favorite of lead singer Paul Rodgers. On the radio in 2009 I heard an interview with him or some other of the original members of the group, and that person claimed that there was a double entendre involved, with bad understood in the positive sense it had developed in slang. He claimed it was a bit of an inside joke, since that bit of American slang had not yet jumped the pond when the group was formed.

BAA Journal
British Astronomical Association Journal.

British Association for American Studies. BAAS is a constituent association of the EAAS.

Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society.

Title of a 1922 novel by Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951). The novel satirizes middle-class conformity, dreary mediocrity, repressed sexuality, bourgeois insincerity, occasionally insipid sentimentality, nonspontaneity, and every otherity that we hold dear. It traces a few years in the life of George E. Babbitt, represented as typical, and that name has since been applied to his perceived species.

From one point of view, Babbitt is less an examination of life among the proles than a revelation of the author's fashionable and insensitive contempt for the modest but productive strivings of steady, ordinary people. In the US, that contempt was especially fashionable in the roaring twenties. I think the Great Depression reminded people of just how truly uncool it is to be poor, and perhaps made prosperity less intellectually suspect.

The 1950's saw some rising concern about bland conformity. A signal event was the publication in 1955 of Sloan Wilson's best-selling novel The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, which shares some theme and plot elements with Babbitt. The novel was made into a movie (1956) starring Gregory Peck and Jennifer Jones. The late DeForest Kelley had a bit part as a medic. He went on to greatness as Star Trek's Dr. McCoy -- ``Bones.'' Peck's man in the gray flannel suit was wooden.

The 1960's eventually allayed concerns, rightly or wrongly I'm not sure, that the country was going to hell in the fatal-conformity handbasket. Zeitgeist fluctuations since then have included waves of concern about the nation's spiritual health and even about the effects of corporate culture, but Babbittry isn't really an issue with traction any more. A mild version, or perhaps a cowardly metonymic version, persisted as contempt for suburban sprawl, q.v.

Back when the famously mediocre J. Danforth Quayle was Vice-President, he had a large retinue of staff whose entire job was preventing him from looking quite so stupid, particularly as the national news media had him marked for reputation extinction. Quayle required his staff to read People magazine. I require you to visit the Bollywood entry.

Babbitt, or a Babbitt, is damnably without hard edges, bland.

Babbitt metal
A soft white alloy of tin invented by Isaac Babbitt (1790-1862). The original alloy was composed of tin, antimony, and copper in the (mass) ratio 50:5:1 or 50:4:1. By the end of the nineteenth century, the term came to be applied to any soft white alloy used for bearings and low-friction linings (these are partly overlapping categories), including Sn:Cu 9:1 and Pb:Sb 4:1.

To Babbitt, or Babbitt-line, was to line with Babbitt metal. Later in the twentieth century, there was a chemical-engineering explosion of new industrial materials, and the term seems to have fallen out of use.


Bulletin Antieke Beschaving (Leyden). English title: Annual Papers on Classical Archaeology. ``[P]ublished annually since its foundation in 1926 by A.W. Byvanck. One of its main objectives is to provide a forum for archaeologists whose research and fieldwork focus on classical archaeology. Its aim is to present such studies as are likely to be of interest to any student in this subject. This established journal publishes original research papers, short notes of wider archaeological significance and book reviews. It is open to contributors from any country and will publish papers in English, French, German and Italian.'' (Not Dutch?) Currently published by Peeters. ISSN 0165-9367.

British Approvals Board for Telecommunications. Sounds like a government regulator, but it's not:
BABT is a private, independent company and the leading telecommunications approval body in Europe. BABT operates internationally and in addition to its regulatory role offers a wide range of services and practical consultancy to a growing list of clients in the telecoms and other industries.

Established in 1982 as a private company, BABT operates a commercially-oriented range of approvals services to help customers bring their terminal equipment to the market. BABT is the UK centre of technical expertise for regulatory and voluntary assessment of all types of terminal equipment. Formal appointments include the Approvals Authority for telecommunications terminal equipment in the UK, a Notified Body in Europe under the LVD, EMC and TTE Directives, and a Competent Body under the EMC Directive.

Babinet's Principle
The diffraction patterns projected from a complementary pair of screens are the same.

A tree found in North Africa and in the Scrabble forest.

Balanced Asynchronous Class.

Bloomington Advisors' Council. Clarification at IUBAC.

Brain Attack Coalition. A multidisciplinary group of representatives from major professional organizations involved with delivering stroke care.

Brigade anticriminalité. French term for `plainclothesmen.'

Short for IUBAC. A different IUBAC than the one referred to above, obviously: we do everything possible to avoid wasting your time, these few precious hours stolen from your employer daily.

Behavior Analyst Certification Board®, Inc. A nonprofit ``established to meet professional credentialing needs identified by behavior analysts, government, and consumers of behavior analysis services.''

British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Founded in 2003, it's a member of the International Federation of Esthetic Dentistry (IFED) as well as an affiliate of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). There also exist American and British Academies of Esthetic (and Aesthetic, resp.) Dentistry (AAED and BAAD), and they too belong to IFED. I don't know what the difference is. If I had to, I'd guess that cosmetic dentistry does aesthetic dental work that you can remove before you go to bed.


Bulletin of the Australian Centre for Egyptology. It ``is published at the end of each year and sent to all members of the Rundle Foundation for Egyptian Archaeology.'' Volume 1 was published at the end of 1990.

The basketball backboard was originally introduced (1893) as a barrier to keep spectators in balcony seats from interfering with shots. Players quickly began to use them in the ways familiar today, and they eventually remained even when nearby seats -- and the original purpose of the backboards -- were absent. (I've read that when the nearby seats were removed, there was an original feint in the direction of removing the backboards, but player protests brought them back. Maybe so, but maybe that was just a management head-fake.) Backboards were originally made of chicken wire; wooden backboards became mandatory in 1904, and glass backboards were permitted from 1909, according to this page.

In 2002, Yamaha started selling a line of ``silent guitars.'' They're like air guitars, but with strings. More later.

I meant: more information later. It's later now. The guitars go for between $500 and $1000, which seems rather steep for a silent musical instrument. They do include hardware: each guitar comes with a standard sort of head, nut, neck, fretboard, saddle, and bridge -- so the strings aren't loose -- you can play it -- but it has no sound box or even a solid body like a typical electric, but just a narrow extension about as wide as the neck, corresponding to the portion of a normal guitar body (specifically its top plate, minus sound hole) underneath the strings. Turns out it can be heard through headphones. The idea is to use it for practicing where the sound would be unwelcome.

There are steel-string and nylon-string versions; both use piezoelectric pickups. The electronics, including signal shaping but (of course) not a power amplifier are built into the body. With a separate amp you can use it for performance. If you aren't Carlos Santana or Jimi or one of those, then you'll appreciate that without a body, the feedback effects are substantially reduced.

In addition to the parts described above, the instruments come with a couple of things that are not strictly necessary. One thing is a frame, in the form of the outline of a guitar body (cutaway style). This is partly decorative, but mostly it makes it possible to practice while holding the instrument as one normally holds a guitar.

The reason I mention the silent guitars at this entry is that the steel-string version includes a pickguard. The pickguard normally protects the top plate of the guitar. This guitar has a pickguard that protects the air where there would normally be a top plate.

Vide internal link: forecheck, or one of these external links: Hockey FAQ, Hockey Glossary entry.

back end
In microelectronics fabrication: final stages -- package assembly and testing.

An electrical contact to, or making an electrical contact to, the back surface of a wafer.

back in the day
Briefly (fl. 1999) a common way of saying ``back in the good ol' days.''

back issues
Good places to look for back issues of journals:
  1. http://www.BackIssueFinder.com/
  2. http://www.OldMagazines.com/

backprop, backpropagation
A method to program (a learning algorithm for) neural networks.

An acronym that coincides in spelling (and normally also in pronunciation) with a word that was in use before the acronym. It is often stipulated that the pre-existing word be of nonacronymic origin, but this does not seem essential and would spoil my SNAFU entry in its current form.

Backronyms sometimes have rather recherché expansions shoe-horned into desired pre-existing words. (You know, in the version of the Cinderella story originally published by the appropriately surnamed Grimm brothers, Cinderella's step-sisters cut off parts of their feet in order to get them to fit into the golden slipper. If it had been a glass slipper, of course, the prince would have noticed immediately instead of at first riding off deceived with each of them in turn.) Once upon a time, at a doughnut shop called -- oh, never mind; a good example of shoe-horning is HABIT. A true story in which the step-sisters were really ugly, with a happy ending that -- just like the fairy tale -- does not involve a backronym, is told at KERMIT's entry.

Fiction is not always part of the backronym story. In fact, most backronyms involve no pretense beyond the implied sugestion that the acronym expansion really isn't so much of a stretch. They might be qualified as ``open-handed'' backronyms. Some backronyms are really ordinary words, possibly used in a new sense, to which acronymic expansions have been retroactively ascribed. See stealth backronym. For kicks, compare notarikon (in its precise sense). Hmmnym... maybe we should try this again.

Blatantly Ahistorical Cranky, Kooky, Ridiculous, Or NonsensicallY Maladapted-expansion-using acronym. Backronym in this sense is a kind of backronym, making backronym an autonym.

Waiterese expression meaning ``Don't step back, I'm behind you.'' Equivalent to ``Behind you.''

backside grinding
Wednesday I was in a room with eighteen other men (yes, yes, women are allowed, but none came) and this topic came up, and no one tittered or laughed or probably even thought of any untoward meaning. I'm also pretty sure no one shouted out ``like Kim Kardashian.'' (I only thought of it later.) This entry is here to provide an opportunity for the word untoward to appear and not slip out of common usage, and also so I can mention ``heavy holes.'' There.

Oh, alright. The discussion was about IC packaging strategies. Unless there's a good reason not to do so, which there oftentimes unfortunately is, you prefer to perform successive processing steps on a single side (the ``top'') of a wafer or a piece of it. (By ``wafer'' I mean a semiconductor wafer about a half a millimeter thick, with various much thinner layers of various materials variously patterned on top, like a burnt pizza, but rather thinner and with many more toppings, and able to perform logic operations.) One thing that is hardly possible to do from the top is to thin the wafer. To do that, you flip the chip and thin from the back. Backside grinding, of course, is mechanical thinning of the flipped chip. (You can also thin by etching, but a deep etch is uneven.)

backward spelling
A disfigure of speech. A crutch for the neologistically lame. It is entirely age-appropriate that the word yob arose by backward spelling of boy. Neologisms are often concocted by backward spelling in order to contrive or complete a palindrome, but you can follow links to that after reading through to the end of the next entry.

Backward spellings seem to be especially common in electrical engineering, but we won't spell out any untoward conclusions from that (in any direction). (OTOH, if you're interested in electrical engineers' language obliviousness, there's a relevant entry just preceding this one. Following this entry there's a brief...

Backward Spelling Hall of Shame
  1. Sualocin and Rotanev
  2. Stanley Yelnats
  3. mho
  4. yrneh
  5. imref
  6. daraf

As Stanley Yelnats isn't discussed elsewhere in this glossary, I'll note that it's the name of the protagonist of Louis Sachar's Holes, which won the Newberry medal for distinguished contribution to literature for children. I'd like to point out that it was originally intended as adult literature, but won in the children's category anyway. That ought to give you an idea of how puerile backward spelling is. However, I don't know for a fact that Holes was originally written for adults. Contrariwise, I don't know that it wasn't. So maybe it was. That's logic.

Backward spelling is related to palindromy, of course. Palindromes are text strings whose letter sequences are unchanged when written backwards. If you have to coin a new word to create a palindrome, however, you're cheating. In order to develop your own ability to distinguish good palindromes from bad, study the examples at the Yreka entry.

Bandas Criminales emergentes. `Emerging criminal bands.' They're also called bandas emergentes en Colombia (`emerging bands in Colombia'). They are paramilitary organized crime syndicates that operate throughout Colombia as well as in neighboring areas, particularly of Panama and Venezuela, funded by the illegal drug trade and vying for control of it. The term seems to have been coined in 2012. If Mexico is any guide, they will last too long to continue to be regarded as an ``emerging'' phenomenon.

I wish the government and law-abiding Colombians luck, but the reason I put this entry here has to do with the grammatical number and gender of bacrim. The word is construed as plural and also sometimes as singular. It's necessarily feminine, following the gramatical gender of bandas. It's a bit odd that it can be construed as singular, but since the acronym was formed as a plural not ending in s, and is not a proper noun, it's unclear how to back-construct a singular form. What's weird about the plural is that since the majority of plurals in Hebrew end in -im, it looks weirdly like a borrowed Hebrew plural. Of course, the -im applies to Hebrew masculine nouns, so an authentic borrowing would have looked more like * los bacarim than las bacrim.

The asterisk in the last sentence is a standard symbol in linguistics, widely used as a kind of subjunctive-mood marker. In discussions of grammar it typically precedes an example of incorrect usage (a sort of contrary-to-fact subjunctive). In historical linguistics it typically indicates a hypothetical reconstruction that it may with luck be possible to confirm (an unattested form in Old English, say, or 18th century slang), or not (a reconstructed form in PIE, say). The use in historical linguistics is for content of a type that appears in the apodosis of a conditional statement (implicit here), associated with the the marker ``would.'' [This is a common function of the subjunctive in various Indo-European languages that have a well-developed subjunctive. In English, the word ``subjunctive'' is avoided in discussions of both protasis and apodosis, and the discussion is framed in terms of the structure of conditional sentences.] As it happens, the linguistic asterisk in the preceding paragraph marks a contrary-to-fact conditional.

It is poor practice to put a space between an asterisk and the element following it in C code, but it's okay in linguistics (excluding /*, of course). Some grammarians even put it after the offending form (but on the same line).

Variant of backronym. (Possibly cranky but not possibly not possibly kooky, as it were. If this clarification is not, ignore it.)

Back in the 1960's, the use of bad in a special sense of good became a common element of slang. For all I know, it may have been a part of the American black argot for some time before then. In 2005 or so I noticed a glossy magazine called King, aimed at an ``urban'' readership, which decribes itself as ``the illest men's magazine ever.'' I've since encountered ``ill'' used elsewhere in a positive sense.

Bond-Angle Distribution. I'd like to report here that GOOD stands for GOniOmetric Distribution. But even though I have, it doesn't, which is bad and not good. It would make BAD a special kind of GOOD.

Broken[,] As Designed.

Buffalo Americanist Digest, served by BAG.

Business ADministration. I love it, and I didn't even have to make it up myself! (One attestation is among course codes at the University of Oklahoma, Norman (UO).

Bad boys umm... our young girls behind Victory Garden walls
One WWI-era version of the standardish mnemonic for the resistor color code. It is a fundamental law of the universe that all attempts to create a different mnemonic result in something that is at least three decibels less acceptable for publication in family-oriented electronics literature such as this glossary. So you'll have to use your imagination, you filthy-minded letch.

The resistor color code goes

0   Black
1   Brown
2   Red
3   Orange
4   Yellow
5   Green
6   Blue
7   Violet
8   Gray
9   White

Another common version gets into specific allegations: ``Bad boys umm... our young girls but Violet gives willingly for gold and silver.'' This has the advantage that the mnemonics for violet, gold, and silver are Violet, gold, and silver, respectively. (An extra gold or silver band indicates 5% or 10% tolerance. No band indicates 20% tolerance. I mean that literally and also the way you understood it. My high school electronics teacher, Mr. Coulter, was in the Signal Corps over in 'Nam before he entered the teaching racket. One of his characteristic sayings was ``ten percent is good enough for government work.'')

Another color-code mnemonic that I suppose is from before my time goes ``Bad Beer Rots Our Young Guts But Vodka Goes Well.''

Here's a site dedicated to the resistor, lowliest of devices.

German noun (masculine) meaning `bathing suit.' (Normally refers to a woman's or girl's bathing suit. A boy's or man's bathing suit is called by the feminine noun Badehose, `swim trunks.') Cf. Anzug.

At the beginning of the 1978 spring break, I drove some of our neighbors from Apt. 235 down to the bus stop on the main campus. Looking forward to a week in Florida, one of them (let's call her ``Serena'') was remembering how, when she floated on her back in the water, her toes stuck above the surface. There are many possible interpretations for this buoyancy phenomenon, and the correct one is that she unconsciously bent her legs so that her toes would stick out instead of her belly. This has nothing to do with this entry, but as she inadvertently revealed her secret insecurities, it occurred to me that she might have forgotten to pack something. So I asked, ``did you bring your bathing suit?'' She replied ``What?'' So I again called back, loudly enough to be heard all the way back to the back seat of my sedan, ``Did you bring your bathing suit?!'' Came the reply: `What?'' We did another iteration, and finally I exploded, ``Hast du deinen Badeanzug gebracht?!'' (Don't worry -- Serena didn't take offense at my use of the familiar du, at least partly because she didn't know German.) The take-home here is that German is really a perfect language for when you're angry (verärgert). As the expression goes, one does not speak German -- one spits it.

Bad Education
The name, in English-language release, of Pedro Almodóvar's 2004 movie La Mala Educación. The movie, like most of Almodóvar's work since the 1990's, is too complicated for summary. But among other things, it tells the story of two schoolboys abused by a priest in Franco-era Spain. So it's about bad educational experiences, but the Spanish title is a pun that did not translate well: the title is a standard expression meaning `bad manners.'

In the movie, the two boys are grown up and have become a movie director and actor. Nobody thinks that this is just too pat? The actor has written a story about their childhood love; the director films it. It's not clear, evidently by design, what part is flashbacks in the frame narrative and what part movie-within-the-movie. A brilliant Spanish director who grew up in the Franco era can think of nothing better to do than make a movie about a Spanish director who grew up in the Franco era and makes a movie about it, and then everybody goes and complains about the unfairness of American movies (filmed in Canada, with Australian actors, by Japanese-owned companies) taking over the world. How rude! (¡Qué maleducado!)

bad fashion sense
Much cheaper than a fine wardrobe, and can't be ruined by spilled fluids [cf. nylon (PA), to say nothing of silk].

bad guys' organizations

In a dystopia like that described in Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), it may be difficult to identify the bad guys' organization, but the four ministries of Oceania are Minipax, Miniplenty, Minitrue and MiniLuv (cf. Mindef).

Bad Taste Records
A record label based in Lund, Sweden. Along with Burning Heart Records, it was one of the first labels to be established in the Swedish punk rock and punk/hardcore scene in the early 1990's. I know because Wikipedia tells me so, but I don't propose to find out what it means. Here in northern Indiana, there's a trio that calls itself ``Orphan Donors.'' I think maybe their music is punky or punkish or possibly punkous, but I'm fairly certain their group name is in poor taste. Their bass player seems to be increasingly popular with the babes, so I guess they're successful at some level. Is the previous sentence in bad taste? Does it set a bad taste record? No?

Okay, back on topic. ``The name of the label originated from the 1987 movie Bad Taste directed and produced by Peter Jackson'' (a cult science-fiction comedy horror film, it seems fair to say). That's awfully modest of them, if that's their claim. If you're going to sell punk rock records, you could claim that it was the logical name that simply occurred to you.

There are also Bad Taste records from an Icelandic record label that is or was ``Bad Taste Ltd.'' More about them at their original name, Smekkleysa.

British AErospace.

British Aerobatic Association.

Belgian Academy of Esthetic Dentistry.

Bulgarian Academy of Esthetic Dentistry. The ``-bg'' is there so you know it's BulGarian, and not BelGian.

Black Alliance for Education Options. A group favoring vouchers. The Democratic party and black civil rights leaders are generally opposed to vouchers; the first reason given is that it would take money away from public schools. A larger percentage of blacks than of whites favors vouchers. One reason given is that it would threaten to take money away from public schools, and so motivate them.

Blacks are the one large population group in the US in which self-described conservatives substantially outnumber self-described (or registered) Republicans. (We have a black Republicans entry under construction.)

Bellcore AMA Format.

Old name for a five wood (golf club).

Best And Final Offer.

Take it or leave it.

British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Their awards, often referred to as ``BAFTAs,'' correspond to the US Oscars (vide AMPAS).

BAFTA is eager for your participation. Therefore, as a special service, they have a page entitled ``BAFTA: Incorrect browser'' that provides helpful information like

The browser you are using ([your browser here]) is incompatible with the BAFTA website.
In order to bypass this, you'll have to disable JavaScript interpretation.

The French have a variety of motion picture awards. These include les César du Cinéma (Cesars in the more efficient English tongue) awarded by l'Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma. (By the way, if you don't know how to speak French, then a good first approximation to French pronunciation is to pretend it's English, which it is, and pronounce it with a tres fake, over-the-top French accent.) These Cesars correspond most closely to the Oscars, although obviously they have no prestige since France hasn't made any decent movies in sixty or seventy years. (The top prize at Cannes is the Palme d'Or, presumably in memory of the assassinated Scandinavian prime minister). Note that unlike les anglophones, who only award prizes for movies that flatter our collective conceits, the French also give awards to movies that are simply pretentious bores.

Bankaktiengesellschaft. A German word that may be literally translated as a common noun meaning `bank stock company,' but which is really just the name of a particular financial institution -- something like ``Bank Corporation.''

Bayard-Alpert Gauge. A/k/a Bayard-Alpert hot-filament ionization gauge.

Buffalo Americanist Group. Presence on the web through BAD.


Bulletin de l'association Guillaume Budé. Guillaume Budé (1467-1540) was a French Hellenist. The first significant one of the modern era -- a sort of Plutarch or Erasmus figure.

British Association of Hospitality Accountants. ``Foil-wrapped complimentary chocolate mint on pillow? Check. Bible in night-table drawer? Check. Air conditioner set to freezing? Check. Message from management explaining how to save the environment by indicating that towels need not be washed? Check. End of toilet-paper roll folded neatly into a chevron? Check. Uh-oh: no paper torus enclosing the toilet seat!''

That's what hospitality accountants do. Here's how the website explains it:

The British Association of Hospitality Accountants (BAHA) was formed in 1969 with the aim of bringing together those professionals who were involved in financial management and control within the hotel industry. Since inception the membership has expanded to include systems specialists, hospitality consultants and accountants, bankers, investment analysts, property professionals, academics and others who retain an interest in the hotel, catering and leisure sectors.

See? Just like I said.


Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society.

The feminine term in Spanish for a professional performer of any type of dance. (The masculine form is bailarín.) Bailarina resembles (visually perhaps more than in sound) its Italian cognate ballerina, which has been borrowed into English in the limited sense of a female ballet dancer. The close resemblance, combined with the familiarity of another borrowing -- from English into Spanish -- can give a disorienting sensation to an English-speaker encountering the standard Spanish term bailarina de strip-tease.

Bailey's formula
Age in months = number of teeth erupted + 6.

Obviously, this has to be an overestimate before six months and an underestimate eventually (age 4+). In practice, it seems to be an underestimate in most of the relevant age range.

An opportunity to learn the useful lesson that one should live within one's means, without the inconvenience of having lived beyond them in the first place.

Oh sure, there are other definitions, but we prefer to be upbeat. It's like getting to savor the bitter aftertaste without having to take all the fattening calories in the initial draft.

The theory behind bailouts as enlightened self-interest is that everyone's ultimately in the same boat, so the bailers-out are really just bailing themselves out. The problem with this is that with a boat so big the buckets never reach the gunwales, and just end up get emptied elsewhere on board.

Baires, BAires
Buenos Aires, Argentina. This abbreviation is widely used and pronounced (in Spanish) as spelled -- ``Baires'' (something like ``BYE-ress'' or more like ``BYE-dess'' in English). It refers to the city. The city happens to be located in a (much larger, in area) province also called Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires was originally the name only of the port, 100 km or so upriver from the bay, but the name was eventually extended to both the city and the province.

Much of the early post-colonial history of Argentina consisted of a power struggle between Buenos Aires, which sought a national government with strong central control (based in BAires, of course -- the capital), and the provinces, which sought a more federal system. I was born in BAires, so I am a porteño or bonaerense. Nowadays, of course, all that old history is forgotten, and when people from the provinces refer to the unusual accent, hustle, or alleged arrogance of bonaerenses it is of course only with affection, admiration, or facetiousness, respectively.

A British invasion of Argentina, early in its independence, was foiled by a British lack of river navigators familiar with the Rio de la Plata; the invading group ran aground. So I remember. There may not be a national multiplication table or geometry, but potomography is another story.

Both the river Plate and the Viceroyal colony of Argentina were named after the silver that the Spanish hoped to find there. If they had understood something of geology they would have realized immediately that the gold and silver would be found (as it was, mostly) along the Pacific coast. If you want to avoid making the same mistake in your next imperial adventure, see the pluton entry.

baited breath
Look, despite what you read in the stupid newspapers and illiterate websites, this is a misspelling. It's ``bated breath.'' ``Bated'' here is an old participle related to abated -- it means stopped. ``Bated breath'' is breath that has been stopped, held. ``With bated breath'' means ``while holding [your] breath'' or ``in breathless anticipation.'' ``Baited breath'' means nothing except that you can't spell.

baited breath
Oh gaaaawd honey, let's lock lips. What is it -- olive, sunflower, habanero? That vegetable oil on your breath is just irresistible!

Spanish fly? Not vegetable. Corn? Cottonseed? Soy? Peanut? It's rapeseed! Isn't it?

Linseed? Castor oil?

A napped fabric resembling felt. Today it is used to cover gaming and pool tables.

The word comes from the French baies, the plural feminine form of the bai, `bay-colored,' from Latin badius. Bay, in case you forgot, or in case you couldn't forget, is a reddish or golden brown. Presumably that was the original color of this cloth, back in the sixteenth century, but apparently no one bothered to record this obvious fact. At least, it seems no one recorded otherwise. Nowadays the most common color of baize is green (many dictionaries describe it as ``bright green''; they may take a dim view of the usual green), but I've played on blue, champagne-colored, and beer-darkened-green pool tables. (Not all at the same time.)

bajo latín
Spanish for the literary Latin of the Middle Ages. Literally, of course, the term means `low Latin,' and when the term was coined, bajo was certainly intended to imply `bad.' If you need a quick short translation of the term that will be correctly misunderstood, use `Vulgar Latin.'

Back At Keyboard. Shaves an entire time-consuming letter off your chat message. Cf. AFK.

BAcK-up. Filename extension.

Family pseudonym of Niels and Aage Bohr when they participated in the Manhattan project. Their pseudonyms became so well known that at public conferences Niels Bohr was often referred to as Nicholas Baker. Niels Bohr escaped occupied Denmark (.dk, q.v.) by boat after dissolving his gold Nobel Prize medal in acid. (I suppose he made AuNO3 dust.) After the war, he separated out the gold and had the medal recast. Alan Turing converted much of his savings into two silver bars, which he buried at separate locations. When he tried to dig them up after the war, he couldn't find one of the locations, while the other had been buried when a bridge was constructed. When Enrico Fermi sailed from Rome to Stockholm to pick up his Nobel, he avoided storage problems by just continuing on to New York. When Einstein locked the door of his house in Germany, as he was leaving for a stay in the US, he bade his wife take a final look, because it was the last time they would ever see it.

Another thing about Turing. Among the public at large, he is probably best known today for proposing an ``imitation game'' now known as the Turing Test. The test is to see whether in a conversation -- conducted across a suitably anonymizing medium -- a computer program can fool a human into thinking it is another human.

Baker-Campbell-Hausdorff Relation
Given two operators A and B which commute with their common commutator ( [A,[A,B]] = [B,[A,B]] = 0 ), the relation holds:

exp(A+B) = exp(A) exp(B) exp(½[A,B]) .

Refers not to a point on a surface, but to a line underneath. Specifically, a London rail line that connects the Baker Street station and the Waterloo station. (It ran a bit further to southeast, and has since been extended, mostly to the northeast on surface tracks.) When it opened (all underground) on March 10, 1906, it was called the Baker Street & Waterloo Railway, but the popular nickname Bakerloo was soon adopted as its official name. (I'm cribbing here from the extensive Wikipedia entry.)

I've only put this entry in so the glossary can begin to have a respectable representative sample of blends. No abbreviation reference work should be so abbreviated as to be without that. This case demonstrates that a single unstressed syllable makes a good emulsifier. The fact that Baker Street and Waterloo are both dactyls (see under meter) probably helps, as does the presence of a letter a in both first syllables, though they're pronounced differently. What probably helps the most is that ``Baker Street and Waterloo Railway'' is a mouthful.

Badan Koordinasi Survai dan Pemetaan Nasional. Indonesia's `National Coordinating Agency for Surveys and Mapping.' The acronym stems from the agency's earlier name: Badan Koordinasi Survai dan Tanah Nasional. The word tanah means `earth' (in the senses of `ground,' `land,' `soil.' and `dirt'). For an interesting sidelight on this, see air.

Basic Assembly Language.

British Anti-Lewisite.


Bulletin des antiquités luxembourgeoises.

balanced moisture content
As usually understood in the field of adhesives and sealants (A&S), the moisture content in a material is said to be ``balanced'' when it is in equilibrium with ambient levels of atmospheric moisture.

Business Association for Latin American Studies. Gosh, that sounds aggressive...

Spanish for `bullets.' What does that have to do with...

Wait! I had more valuable information for you about BALAS! ``The organization is strongly international in character, with members from all over the world -- from over 30 countries.'' So why is the website almost entirely in English? Just above this on the about page: ``BALAS is the first international business and economics professional association to focus exclusively on the study of economics,'' -- ah, that explains it -- ``management, leadership and industry in Latin America and the Caribbean.''

Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative. A small nutritional-supplements company in the San Francisco Bay area, famous for providing performance-enhancing drugs illegally to professional athletes.

German: `soon.'

bald bodybuilders
Why are there so many? Is it steroids? (I don't know, but FWIW, we've got an NFL veteran in my club and he's not bald.) Do bald men disproportionately take up bodybuilding to compensate for hair loss? Competitive bodybuilders are advised to shave their heads if they can't make their hair look good in performances (women are assumed to be able to make their hair look good), but most of the bald bodybuilders I know don't participate in formal competitions.

I'm still puzzling it out, but in the meantime I discovered that back in 1999, the Chicago's Lyric Opera needed a supply of bald bodybuilders for ten performances of Wagner's (or maybe their) Tristan und Isolde. They were cast as the ``engine crew''; they rowed the ship in Act I, in time to the musik. They were lit in red. The compensation was $347.50 per week plus health and pension coverage. The world is full of amazing job opportunities.

A good-looking guy. Slang term popularized by (invented for?) the movie ``Clueless'' (1995), a movie apparently created so Alicia Silverstone would have something to star in after the Aerosmith videos. It's an updated Emma. ``What's-her-name's Diary'' (see the World Unclaimed entry) was supposed to be an updated Pride and Prejudice. (Why don't we just visit Winchester Cathedral, exhume Jane Austen, and desecrate her grave? Wouldn't that be more efficient? One-time celebrity girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow played a much less modernized Emma in 1996.)

Maybe the term is an allusion to Alec Baldwin, and to the fact that he is only the best known of four brothers in the movie business, so Baldwin begins to look like a common noun. In 2002, Alec Baldwin was separated from Kim Basinger and dating Kristin Davis, of the hit TV comedy ``Sex And The City.'' The four female leads on the show were all feuding. Also in 2002, Darren Star, the creator of ``Sex and the City,'' was planning a television show called Miss Match, to star Alicia Silverstone in the lead role. (The character's name was ``Kate Fox.'' For more pleasant associations, see this Fox.) The show's title was evidently a pun, and for 18 episodes Silverstone played yet another Emma. I heard the show was flailing in its first season (2003). It was cancelled before I had a chance to see it; I was still studying the owner's manual of my TV set, trying to figure out how to set the volume to a negative value.

Look, I don't endorse the term baldwin. I don't even recommend a capitalization convention for it. The term is here for informational purposes only, so you can understand when an inferior person uses it unironically. Cf. Betty.

British Association of Lecturers in English for Academic Purposes. You're probably thinking like, what else for? And why not in Welsh? Giddyap to EAP.

Balescu's book
Probably refers to Radu Balescu's wonderful Equilibrium and Nonequilibrium Statistical Mechanics (Wiley, 1975). ISBN = 0-471-04600-0.

Features of this book include thoughtful selection of notation, and a clear introduction of the basics, designed with the goal of presenting classical and quantum statistical mechanics in a unified formalism. Focus is on fluids.

ballistic corn
Ballistic corn is an indicator of public hygiene facilities:
``A coming shower your shooting corns presage.''
(Jonathan Swift, M.D.: A Description of a City Shower.)

balloon payment
A final mortgage payment at the end of the mortgage term that pays off the outstanding loan in full, or the amount of that payment.

balloon smuggler
A breath-takingly felicitous coinage of S. J. Perelman. Suitable for a family-oriented piece of rubbish like this webpage, and yet so extremely euphemistic as to go completely around and be dysphemistic, like B.O.

Jay Kardan uses the term ``helium implants'' in reference to what he deems the ``unnaturally levitating breasts'' of the ancient Greek sculpted female form. I am reminded of the famous clothed and naked Maya paintings by Goya. It's noticeable that the clothed Goya enjoys no support from her clothing. (And you know, I only just now noticed for the first time that the clothed Maya is wearing a shrug.)

ball-point pen
The main persons credited with invention of the ball-point pen are John J. Loud, who patented the basic idea in 1888, and Lázló Joszef Bíro, who patented some essential improvements in 1938 and 1943. The Internet hosts many contradictory claims about Bíro and the history of ball-point pens; the situation seems to be even worse than the usual goulash of errors and sloppiness. In a small effort to decrease the S/N, I will give some of my sources for the information in this entry.

My main source is The Incredible Ball Point Pen: A Comprehensive History and Price Guide, by Henry Gostony and Stuart Schneider (G&S). It's ``a Schiffer Book for Collectors,'' published in 1998. [Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., of Atglen, Pennsylvania, happens to have a colophon of a quill pen in an inkwell, and has published over 3100 titles.] As the title's missing hyphen suggests, and as scattered errors confirm, the editing standards are not high. On the other hand, the content of the book is probably fairly reliable. Gostony and Schneider both have long backgrounds in pen collecting.

The earliest known patent for a writing instrument with a ball point was issued to John J. Loud of Massachusetts on October 30, 1888. [Here's a putative link to page images of the relevant patent (#392046) at the USPTO. Maybe the site will work for you. The Wikipedia Ballpoint pen entry mentions a ``GB Patent No. 15630.'' Here's a link to the UK Patent office. Good luck.]

Gostony and Schneider quote Loud (evidently from the US patent): ``My invention consists of an improved reservoir or fountain pen, especially useful among other purposes, for marking on rough surfaces--such as wood, coarse wrapping-paper, and other articles--where an ordinary pen could not be used'' (p. 8). An error-riddled article at ideafinder.com claims that John Loud was a tanner, and that the pen was intended for marking leather, and I have no reason to suppose that the claim of his having been a tanner was invented from whole... cloth, let's say. G&S write that Loud made a few pens for himself and used them for marking boxes, but didn't exploit his patent commercially.

I'll be adding more stuff here as I nail down pesky details. For now let me just mention that Lázló Bíro, often and reasonably accurately described as a journalist, was already a successful inventor in Hungary before he patented a ball-point pen. Vacationing at Lake Balaton (in western Hungary; it's Eastern Europe's largest lake), he met fellow vacationer Augustin Justo. Justo was interested in Bíro's invention and suggested that he move to Argentina -- where Justo happened to be President -- and start a factory. The situation in Europe deteriorated, and Lázló Bíro immigrated to Argentina, arriving in 1940. He eventually seems to have gone by the name José Ladislao Biro, and shortly in this entry I will switch accent conventions too.

His older brother György Bíro immigrated to Argentina also and was his business partner in at least one of the ball-point-pen ventures. According to all sources, György, a chemist, participated in his brother's initial efforts to invent a new pen, and he is often described as a co-patentor with his brother. The only relevant information I have on the patent-holder question is that L.J. Biro was the only patentor on the US patent (number 2,390,636; filed June 17, 1943, granted Dec. 11, 1945). It is sometimes asserted that the Biros only obtained two patents on ball-point pens. This seems to be incorrect; an Argentine patent was applied for a week before the US patent.

Not much information seems to be available about the older Biro, but I'm not done looking. In the literature on ball-point pens, he is often called Georg Biro or George Biro. My suspicion is that he went by Jorge Biro after he immigrated.

For more on pens, see the penknife entry.

Back when David Gottlieb was making his first pinball machines, a Mr. Malone was one of his salesmen. The Gottlieb machines were selling so well that manufacture couldn't keep up with demand. Malone designed his own machine and contracted to have it built. He chose the name from a WWI song Ballyhoo. In the 1960's, Williams bought Bally's pinball business, and since then Williams and Bally have been two marques of the Williams company.

See bologna.

British Air Line Pilots Association. Affiliated with the Trades Union Congress (TUC). See also ALPA.

You know, when I first checked in May 1997, they didn't have a homepage yet. It wasn't surprising that the Aerobatic Association (BAeA) had gotten its web act together before BALPA, but at the time even the Beagle Pup Club had a homepage.

Balsam of Canaan
Commonly called Black Fox. Recipe:
200 g  Velvet Beer
100 g  refined furniture polish
100 g  methylated spirits

It has an aroma that is not really an aroma but a hymn to democratic youth. Hence, it fosters vulgarity and dark forces in the drinker. So it is recommended that one drink Spirit of Geneva instead (at the entry for which there will be some helpful clarification).

Hebrew: `philology' or `linguistics.' The word may be used for `etymology,' but Hebrew also has the loan word etimologia if you want to be more specific. I guess now you're expecting me to find out something about the etymology of balshanut. All I can tell you is that balsh is an `investigator, detective, sleuth,' (a sipur balshi is a `detective novel'), and the -nut ending produces abstract nouns.

The largest city in the state of Maryland (MD). A number of links for the city are listed by USA Citylink. The city of Baltimore is named after George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore. On land it is surrounded almost completely by the administratively independent entity called Baltimore County. (There's also a Calvert County in Maryland.) The bulk of Baltimore County stretches from the Mason-Dixon line at the Pennsylvania border to the north, south to Anne Arundel County.

[We just happen to have some more detail conveniently supplied by our editorial and research office (see TK entry). Baltimore County borders the city of Baltimore for about 85% of its circumference, but Anne Arundel County reaches north between two pieces of Baltimore County and touches the south side of the city (and hence has two separate boundary sections with Baltimore County). The two points where the three jurisdictions meet are on the river, near I-895, and in the Bay near the middle of the Francis Scott Key bridge. (Sources: National Geographic Road Atlas, 1999, page 52, and Rand McNally Road Atlas, 1999, p. 46.) On the National Geographic map I-895 conceals one key part of the county line.)]

You know, a picture tells a thousand words, but takes longer to download. The boundary of Baltimore City is a polygon -- an irregular heptagon by my count -- and it pays slight heed to geography. The eastern triple point of the city of Baltimore with the Anne Arundel and Baltimore Counties is in Patapisco, an inlet of the Chesapeake Bay. The ASCII art below represents the county lines schematically around that point:

           City of Baltimore             |
                                         |     *
                                         |\   *      Baltimore County
                                         | \ *
                                         |  \
                                         | * \
                                         |*   \  #
                                         |     \
                                        *|      \
                                       * |       \
                                      * /         \
                                     * /           \
                                      /             \
                                     /               \
                                    /                 \
                                   /    Anne Arundel   \

***** I-695, Francis Scott Key Bridge
----- County line
  #   Fort Carroll

Fort McHenry, at Baltimore, was the scene of a defense during the War of 1812 that inspired Francis Scott Key to write a poem called ``The Star-Spangled Banner.'' The poem came to be performed as a ballad and is now the US national anthem.

Balun, balun, BALUN
BALanced-to-UNbalanced. A connector between coax cable and a twisted pair.

The idea behind the name is that a twisted pair is balanced in the sense that the impedance to ground is the same for the two terminals, whereas for the electrically asymmetric coax that is not true.

The two configurations -- coax and twisted pair -- represent the two main alternative approaches used to minimize radiative loss in the transmission of alternating current power, and to reduce interference between wireline AC signals.

Board-A-Match. A method for scoring duplicate bridge competitions. This is what Wikipedia calls a stub, as in ``stub your toe.'' More later.


Bricks-And-Mortar. The kind of business establishment with real assets. The kind that was blown down by the dotcom wolf, as we can see. Me, I still remember the Paperless Office Of The Future.

Brooklyn Academy of Music.


Bulletin d'archéologie marocaine.

Bibliographie annuelle du Moyen Age tardif.

Bad-Ass Mother-Father In Charge. ``Father'' might not be the correct expansion for F. I've seen this attested in military and restaurant jargon.

Black AMerica's Political Action Committee. A group affiliated with the Republican party. As of August 2004, Alvin Williams, a co-founder of the group, was its president. (We have a black Republicans entry under reconstruction.)

Balkan Academic News. ``[A]n electronic email group encompassing [as of early 2000] over 1300 scholars, activists, government officials, students and others dealing with or interested in the Balkans. BAN is intended to serve as a network for the exchange of academic information on the Balkans. It distributes calls for papers, conference announcements, book reviews, queries and encourages academic discussion on the region.

Balkan Academic News is part of the Consortium of Minority Resources (COMIR) and affiliated with Southeast European Politics (SEEP). ''

Basel Action Network. ``The name Basel Action Network refers to an international treaty known as the Basel Convention.'' The idea of the Basel Ban was to ban the export of toxic waste to developing countries.

British Approved Name. The generic drug name that is official in the UK.

A city at the mouth of the Congo River, on the Belgian-Congo/Zaïre/Democratic-Republic-of-Congo (.zr) side.

The name of the fruit entered other European languages from Portuguese. Garcia de Orta, in his 1563 Simples e Drogues (`Simples and Drugs') 93b, gave ``banana'' as the fruit's native name in Guinea (Guiné in Portuguese).

In Spanish, la banana (`the banana') is the fruit of el banano (`the banana tree'). Similarly la manzana y la naranja (`the apple and the orange') are the fruits of el manzano y el naranjo (`the apple tree and the orange tree'). This works for a some other fruit-bearing trees, though certainly not all. This train of thought is extended at the entry on gender of fruit and trees. For a bit more on the initial n in naranja, see the adder entry.

Bananas are very compelling fruit. For example, they play a pivotal motivating role for Jordan in Sexing the Cherry.

Build Almost Nothing Anywhere Near Anything. This is the effective policy that can result from the synthesis of two urban planning philosophies:
  1. Reduce congestion (i.e.: reduce population density in crowded areas).
  2. Reduce sprawl (i.e.: reduce population density in uncrowded areas).
There is enough space to institute this policy in the US, which would thence be regarded as the most advanced BANANA republic. Cf. NIMBY.

banana clip
A magazine or clip, curved so that it looks a tiny bit like a banana, used on the AK-47.

Kalashnikov designed his machine gun around the new bullet, so the clip holds the genesis of the gun.

banana plug
A cheap slide-in connector. Do not get this confused with alligator clip, or you'll end up asking for a banana clip.

banana split
An ice-cream dessert involving a banana that may or may not be split.

Banana, Yohimoto
A poet.

Practical: concerned with utilitarian or money-making matters. Cf. ALARP (I haven't seen ALARB).

band in Boston
Banned in Boston, more likely.

There used to be a band named Boston, too. For a very long time, it was relatively easy to get a book banned in Boston, and publishers would often make sure to do just that, to attract salacious interest in a book. That's the legend, anyway. To a certain extent, something similar happens with movie ratings today: for a certain class of movie, a ``G'' or possibly even a ``PG'' rating is box-office death. (See MPAA entry for explanation of rating codes and more.)

For more on books of salacious interest, see the Housman and adult education entries.

As the name for a topographic feature, bank and its Teutonic etymons were originally applied to any kind of long raised feature such as a ridge or bank of clouds, and came to be used for the sloping side of such a bank, and also more generally as any raised feature. The modern word bench is a cognate. The Teutonic word was borrowed by Late Latin (bancus) and shows up in various Romance languages with a range of senses that includes bench. (It also shows up in both male and female forms, apparently reflecting the fact that it had both male and female gender in some Germanic languages.) Used in the sense of a tradesman's bench or stall or counter, it eventually took the specialized sense of a money-changer's table, whence our bank in the financial sense. In a similar way, in Modern Greek the word trápeza means both `table' and `bank.'

Bank of Romney
Out on the streets, I don't hear ``as rich as Croesus'' so much any more, and ``as rich as Rockefeller'' is also fading with time. ``As rich as Romney'' also has the advantage of alliteration, and his campaign in pursuit of the US presidency (ca. 2007-2010) increased his prominence. The Romney phrase got a fillip in April 2013, with an MSN Money article entitled ``How Gore became as rich as Romney.'' But none of that is what this entry is about.

The Flames of Time (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1948) is a historical novel by Baynard Hardwick Kendrick (1894-1977). The dedication of the book reads thus:

The Bank of Romney (69-192)
Romney, West Virginia
without whose help this book
(and my others) would never
have been written.

That's the only time I can recall ever having seen a book dedicated to a bank. I appreciate the old-timey routing number.

Another noteworthy place with a similar name is a small town in the Sumy region of Ukraine. It is normally Romanized as Romny. In October of 1880, when the city was part of the Russian Empire, Abram Fyodorovich Ioffe was born there. He became one of the most prominent physicists in Russia, spending most of his career in St. Petersburg (officially Petrograd from 1914, then Leningrad from 1924 until 1991). Ioffe did good work, and he got his name on a little idea (``the Ioffe-Regel condition''), but his occasional epithet of ``father of Soviet science'' must reflect his achievements in bureaucratic physics, as founder of a number of laboratories that eventually became research institutes.

Bankruptcy Reporter. A legal journal for business ghouls.

bank rec
BANK REConciliation. Let's go there and kiss and hug our honey, I mean money.

Bapedal, BAPEDAL
Badan Pengendalian Dampak Lingkungan. The expansion is typically translated as (Indonesia's) `Environmental Impact Management Agency' or simply its EPA. (Pengendalian does seem to be better translated as `Management' or `Control' than as `Protection.')

BAnk Pembangunan INDOnesia. Indonesia (.id) Development Bank.

Beta-Amino-ProprioNitrile. A lathyrogen.

Badan Perencanaan Pembangunan Nasional. Indonesia's `National Development Planning Agency.'

Aramaic (Syriac) for son. More in the b. entry (supra; you missed it on the way down here).

A variable like foo (q.v.).

A very convenient unit of pressure: 105 Pa = 1 bar = about 1 atm. The bar is no longer sanctioned by the SI, which only recognizes one unit per quantity, the bums. Cf. b..


Biblical Archaeology Review. Also abbreviated BARev. ``[C]onnects the academic study of archaeology to a broad general audience eager to understand the world of the Bible.''

BAR offers a guide to current digs in Israel and Jordan that accept volunteers.

Browning Automatic Rifle.

French slang for `luck.' Avoir la baraka is to `be lucky.'

Baraka, Imamu Amiri
LeRoi Jones. Oh sure, New Jersey couldn't do without a state poet.

Board ARBiter. Controls bus access among different processors on a board. (Cf. CARB.) Unarbitrated buses are also used.

I walked into a greasy spoon in the Mexican part of town and read what was on offer, and this, unfamiliar to me, was one of the items listed. The woman behind the counter said she didn't know the English translation, and I had something else. Later I looked it up. In English it's `barbecue.'

A girl's given name, in English, German, and Polish, that is simply the Latin noun barbara, feminine form of barbarus, meaning `foreigner.' The Latin noun has a Greek etymon with the same meaning, discussed at the b. entry, q.v. For more on Barbaras (not Barabas) see the 99 entry.

Spanish interjection well translated as `terrific!' The English word terrific once meant `terrifying,' and the Spanish word bárbaro still means, in the appropriate context, `barbaric, barbarian.' In both cases, the element of emotional intensity (or rather, of evoking intense emotion) has been retained while the nature of the evoked emotion has changed entirely. Like terrific, bárbaro in its approving sense can function as an adjective also. Its female form is bárbara. If you have not already done so, you should now read the Barbara entry.

The English word awful has drifted in the opposite semantic direction from terrific and bárbaro; it originally meant something like ``awe-inspiring.''

This is a name that means `Redbeard' in Italian. The Italian spelling has been partially adopted into English, French, and German, at least. The double ess makes sense in all four languages, which -- to the extent they are systematic in the distinction -- use a double ess for an unvoiced sibilant and a single ess for a voiced sibilant. That's intervocalically, of course; things may get more complicated initially, finally, and in consonant clusters, but that happens not to be the issue here. (Note that in English, the unvoiced and voiced consonants represented by ss and s are often esh and zh rather than ess and zee. That's when the ``rule'' is followed, of course.) Italian is not entirely consistent either. For example, the word casa (`house' or `home') and many related words are pronounced with an unvoiced sibilant.

In Italian, barbarossa is also a common noun. It is applied to various cherry-red ``uve da tavola'' (`table grapes,' which I take to mean grapes not used to make wine). The barba (`beard,' of course) refers to the form of the grape cluster. The name is also applied to the robin (the orange-breasted thrush).

Old Spanish (Old Castillian, or Aragonese) used a s/ss distinction similar to that described above, but Modern Spanish, with fewer sibilants, has no use for ss in its phonetic orthography, and the letter sequence occurs only in loans and unnaturalized proper nouns. The name with the same meaning as Barbarossa is written Barbarroja. The rr is required to preserve the sound of the initial r in roja (`red,' of course). This is evidently not directly a calque of the Italian, since roja was roxa (Old Spanish, remember?) when the last famous Mediterranean Barbarossas lived. Corominas y Pascual account for the esh sound represented by the x laconically, by deriving roxo from Latin russeus rather than russus. (I trust the switch to male gender didn't throw you.) The e following the ss presumably led to palatalization of the ess sound, and that pretty typically evolves into esh (compare the sounds of ss in express and expression). (The semantic difference between russus and russeus, when it was observed, was that the latter represented a less essential red: `dyed red,' `dressed in red,' or `a partisan of the red faction in the Circus.')

(The native French form of this name, Barbaroux, is a moderately common surname. The x in that form is just one of those final letters s that was converted to x by a stylistic scribal convention, and now it's generally silent anyway.)

In Spanish, Barbarroja is used to translate the Latin name Ahenobarbus. Literally, the latter name means `Brassbeard.' Brasses come in a range of colors (see yellow brass), so here etymology gives us more precise information than metallurgy. (Hey -- I didn't claim ``accurate.'') Ahenobarbus was a cognomen of the gens Domitia. The most famous bearer of this name was Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, born December 15, 37 A.D. His father Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus died in January 40, and he was adopted by his great-uncle the emperor Claudius, and is known to history as Nero. He became emperor following the death of Claudius. His name then was Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus, but it became Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus at some point. Nero doesn't mean `black.' It was a cognomen of the Claudian gens. (Nero was the fifth and last Roman emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty.) The word nero is supposed to be derived from a Sabellic word which they say meant `strong, valiant, happy.' It sounds like they don't know what it meant. Don't ask me why the cognomen popped up in the place of a praenomen with this guy. Maybe it was just too crowded after the gens.

I'm not aware of any other languages that use Barbarroja or Barbarossa or suchlike to translate Ahenobarbus. However, there was another Roman Emperor who was known as Barbarossa. That was the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I. Born around 1123, he was the son of Frederick II, duke of Swabia, and in fact he succeeded upon his father's death in 1148, becoming Frederick III, duke of Swabia. He only became Frederick I when he was elected German king and Holy Roman Emperor in 1152 (succeeding his uncle Conrad III). With all those confusing numbers, it was good he eventually got the byname of Barbarossa. I haven't read specifically that he had a red beard, or who gave him the name, but he spent much of his reign fighting wars in Italy. In German he is known as Kaiser Friedrich I Barbarossa, and the translated form of the byname (Rotbart) occurs almost exclusively as a gloss. The name Friedrich means something like `peace ruler,' so there's some irony in that (see Friedrich). Barbarossa died on June 10, 1190, of drowning, in Salef, in the Kingdom of Armenia (modern Göksu nehri, in Asia Minor).

At the beginning of the sixteenth century, the name Barbarossa was applied to a couple of brothers who united the Barbary Coast as a Turkish province. That's an interesting story too, but I'm all researched out, so all I'll write for now is that the Barbary Coast, and the Berbers, have the names in European languages that are derived from the Latin barbarus or something like that, meaning foreigner.

In August 1939, Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia concluded a mutual-nonaggression treaty through their respective henchpeople (I just felt like neologizing), the German and Soviet foreign ministers Ribbentrop and Molotov, resp. (Conveniently, Stalin had earlier that year replaced his Jewish FM, Maxim Litvinov.) There was also a secret protocol that you could think of as a mutual aggression-against-Poland pact, with related ideas on other small central and northern European countries. The next week the Germans invaded Poland, and a couple of weeks later the Soviets did the same. The Soviets were unexpectedly inefficient in taking the parts of Finland that the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact envision for their side, and after a few weeks Hitler ordered the first studies that ultimately led to Fall Barbarossa (`Operation Barbarossa') -- the German invasion of the Soviet Union, which began in June 1941. Considering the mix of treacherous intrigue and ruthless power politics that characterized the Barbarossa of the first Reich, the name was not inapt.

The meaning and origin of this word can be pinned down fairly but not very precisely. Various forms of the word were apparently in wide use in and around the Caribbean when the Spanish arrived, and from one or more of these languages the word entered first Spanish, and then French and English. The word refered to a frame of sticks used to hold a whole animal for roasting and, by extension, to the meat of the roasted animal.

v.: To char over a puddle of flaming starter fluid. Differs from flambé by the presence of decorative black stones in the fluid.

n.: An outdoor event where one eats food that smells of kerosene.

Okay, this entry is a joke, but it's not wrong. There just happen to be other meanings and more common spellings of barbeque (e.g., barbecue, q.v.).

Barbie Doll
U.S.: category-killer children's doll from Mattel. The (flesh-and-blood; not mass-produced) children of creator Ruth Handler are named Barbara and Ken. Amazing coincidence, huh? This site will get you started. This LA Times reprint will give you the sanitized pro-Barbie take on the German Lilli doll connection. This item from the Jewish Forward, of all places, is one article that reveals the truth about Lilli. You don't have to get up before noon if all you want to do is scoop the LA Times. (I'm not talking about the time difference here, either.)

Coincidentally, in the almost aboriginal Australian language family, which is characterised by an extensive system of highly specialised terms to indicate kinship relations, this term designates the wife of the man who cooks over a fire of black stones and starter fluid. (If you're actually interested in Australianese, you could hardly do worse than visit the Polish entry, but it's mentioned there.)

Jack Ryan, a designer who worked on the doll, also worked on a couple of missiles for the DoD and was married to Zsa Zsa Gabor for nine months. (That is too long to qualify as ``briefly.'') I don't know about you, but I see a recurring theme here. Ryan's famous for patiently and persistently sand-papering the areolae and nipples off the early models until the Japanese supplier finally got the idea and stopped painting them on.

Back on topic, the Iranian government was planning (1996) on entering the highly competitive field of children's dolls, with a much more modest, dark-haired Barbie doppel, decorously escorted by a male companion who is very decidedly her own brother and not possibly a romantic interest. As for coif, one is reminded of the (apocryphal) remark attributed to Henry Ford about the model T: ``You can have it in any color you like so long as it's black.'' I wonder how that turned out -- the doll, I mean.

As a matter of record, the model T was offered in other colors for a short while, but Ford eventually withdrew the option. It has to be remembered that the model T was not celebrated as a great car -- it was celebrated as a great car for the price. By a combination of simplified design, mass production techniques and standardization, and by raw economies of scale, Ford was able to offer a car so affordable that it changed the automobile from a rich man's toy to the workingman's horse.

Now where were we? Oh yeah, in some coed parks (!) in Tehran that past (1996) summer, women were prohibited from riding bicycles. Too sexually provocative.

Barbie was the first children's doll with significant breasts.

In Victorian England, a well-turned table leg was considered too sexually provocative, so table skirts were invented to hide them. More about this at the inanimate entry.

Largest bar examination review program in US, run by Harcourt Brace. I think you have to pay if you ever want to learn what the acronym stands for.

Australian barbecue.

Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. In India.


Biblical Archaeology Review. Details at entry for more common abbreviation BAR.

barge pole
  1. (Obs.) A rod for manually propelling a barge. The end that pushed the bottom typically got mucky.
  2. A hackneyed literary rod for avoiding not even touching things.

Not a lot different than a ten-foot pole.

Barkhausen-Kurtz Oscillations
Oscillation of electrons in a potential minimum generated by grids and electrodes in a vacuum tube. It's fairly easy to generate B-K oscillations by biasing the anode of a cylindrical vacuum tube to a negative voltage. Before the invention of the magnetron (ca. 1922) and the development of the first practical ones (cavity magnetrons) in 1940, B-K oscillators were the only source of microwaves in the gigahertz range. Operated in CW mode, however, they burn out fast. See this page for a bit more.

A seed of the barley plant, and a unit of measure in the ``traditional'' system: Edward I of England standardized the inch to the length of 3 grains of barleycorn, round and dry, taken from the middle of the plant, and placed end to end. An interesting footnote (sorry about that, you'll see) is that this measure (barleycorns) is still used in determining shoe size; the difference between a size 7 shoe and a size 8 shoe is one barleycorn. For another seed-related measurement, see carat.

Here is another association of the barleycorn with three and with magnitudes greater than itself. Robert Burns's version of the ``John Barleycorn'' ballad begins thus:

There was three kings into the east,
  Three kings both great and high;
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
  John Barleycorn should die.

(Yes, it's later. Burns's years were 1759-1796 and Edward I's 1239-1307; Burns's version of the ballad was published in 1782. However, there are earlier versions extant, including one in the Bannatyne Manuscript of 1568. It's been argued that the songs and personification date back to the pre-Christian Anglo-Saxons and were adapted for their own purposes by Christian missionaries. Certainly the surviving versions have obvious Christian symbolic resonances. And that the number of men who attacked John Barleycorn was three is traditional. Of course, three is an iconic number.)

As a unit of length, the barleycorn is still in common use (by me). However, the barleycorn was once also a unit of weight. Indeed, it still is, but now it's called a grain (gr.). Here is a snippet of a, cough, seminal work that makes use of the unit. More precisely, it's a snippet of P. Fleury Mottelay's translation of the seminal work of William Gilbert: De Magnete [Book II (no title), Chapter II (entitled ``Of magnetic coition, and, first, of the attraction exerted by amber, or, more properly, the attachment of bodies to amber'')].

A loadstone attracts only magnetic bodies; electrics attract everything. A loadstone lifts great weights; a strong one weighing two ounces lifts half an ounce or one ounce. Electrics attract only light weights; e.g., a piece of amber three ounces in weight lifts only one-fourth of a barleycorn's weight.

Sure, ``one-fourth of a barleycorn'' is ``one poppyseed.'' But that's only a relationship of length units. An avoirdupois ounce is 437.5 barleycorns (that is, one sixteenth of a regulation 7000-barleycorn pound). Everyone else loves this stuff... What's your problem?

[A note on the language: William Gilberd (that's how he wrote his name) lived from 1544 to 1603, and his opus magn(etic)um was published in 1600 in Latin. Although in Elizabethan times all learned men studied Latin and most of them remembered some of it, there were at first many calls for an English translation to be made. This did not occur in a timely manner. Then, around the time of the three-hundredth anniversary of the first publication, two translations appeared almost simultaneously.

Barlow's Rule
Atomic volume is proportional to an atom's lowest valence. This is very, very approximate.

A unit of cross section equal to 10-24 cm2, or 100 square fermi. (10^-24 sq. cm., if your browser doesn't recognize the <SUP> tag).

It's aptly named, for it does represent an enormous total cross section for any non-Coulombic nuclear scattering process. A Stammtisch member seems to recall, however, that Eugen Wigner disapproved of the term.

...barring unforeseen circumstances
...excuses have not yet been constructed, but we're working on it.

BARRier Injection Transit Time (diode). Like the IMPATT diode, this has a negative AC resistance: current and voltage are about 180° out of phase.

bar rush
The increase in traffic at restaurants that are open as the bars are closing. In South Bend, Indiana, for example, closing time is 3 am. (This happens to coincide with the time when the sale of alcohol becomes illegal for a few hours. Hmm.) At one all-night restaurant I know there, the front-of-the-house staff is not allowed to go on break at any time between 2:30 and 4:00 am.


The Boston Area Roman Studies Conference. A conference held each year in April, it was ``instituted in 1995 to promote the study of Latin literature and Roman culture, to increase the visibility of these studies in the New England scholarly community and to provide a place for area Latinists and Romanists to meet, socialize, and exchange ideas.'' It's sponsored by the Department of Classical Studies and the Humanities Foundation of Boston University. ``The conference is open to anyone interested and is free of charge. Following the conference is a dinner, and those wishing to attend must pre-register.'' There's a charge for that.

(San Francisco) Bay Area Rapid Transit. (RT is a common productive affix.) More at the Bogie entry.

Bay Area Rural Transit. A comprehensive system of buses exploring all major compass directions around Ashland, WI:

Operates weekdays, approximately 7am - 5pm.


A (Gk.) word with a grave accent on the ultima. Some include these words in the category of oxytones (q.v.).

Barytone means low tone, with the same Greek root bar-, bari- as occurs in barometer. While barytone, with wye (y) representing upsilon, names a tone stress, the word baritone, from Greek barutonos, means `deep-voiced.'

[One shouldn't worry too much about distinguishing adjectival constructions (deep-voiced) from nominal constructions (deep-voiced one). In Ancient Greek, adjectives and nouns constituted a single part of speech, somewhat as adjectives and adverbs constitute a single part of speech in German. Hence the enigmatic occurrence of such profound-seeming locutions as ``the hot,'' ``the dry,'' ``the cold,'' ``the wet'' in ancient Greek natural philosophy.]

From at least the fourth century to the second century, it was common to call a bad theater actor a `groaner' (barustonos), apparently a pun based on the idea that actors would like to be thought of as deep-voiced.

      ``Yes?'' What are they selling this time?
      ``Hello? Is this Dorothy?''
      Lady, I sing baritone when I can get up that high. Do I sound to you like Judy Garland? ``There's no Dorothy here.''
      ``Oh. I guess I have the wrong number, then.''
      We're not in Kansas anymore.


Biblical Archaeology Society. ``[F]ounded in 1974 as a nonprofit, nondenominational, educational organization dedicated to the dissemination of information about archaeology in the Bible lands.''

Big-Ass Smile. The second word is just an intensifier. There is no suggestion that this is the body part or animal that does the smiling.

Hey look, I've got an idea: why don't you visit the dosta entry and save me cutting and pasting? That's a good glossary user, thanks!

Behavioral And Social Aspects of Health. An organization that doesn't seem to be on the web as of this writing, but at least some of its events are advertised in Bioethics Bulletin, newsletter of UB's Center for Clinical Ethics and Humanities in Health Care.

The traditional material used as touchstone (q.v.), a velvet-black siliceous variety of quartz. The name comes from the Latin basanites [lapis] (occurring in Pliny), from the Greek básanos, `touchstone, test.' Every time I add an entry like this, I think of half-a-dozen more I have to add before your education will be complete.

bascaro, basta
What, didn't you go directly from the bas entry to the dosta entry? What the heck crazy order are you reading these entries in anyway?

A chemical which, in a particular reaction, releases an OH- ion or accepts a proton, or (Lewis definition) donates an electron pair. Cf. acid. In an acid-base reaction, or in an acid-base step of a reaction, no chemical species changes its valence. Alkalis constitute a subset of the bases. Properly speaking, they constitute a proper subset.

Building and Achieving Self-Esteem.

Every day, in every way, I am becoming better and better.

Wow, what an energy rush!

Building, Antenna-tower, Span, Earth. An acronym summarizing perilous places to parachute-jump from (``span'' for bridge; ``earth'' for cliff). Jumping from these places is called BASE jumping (or just base jumping) or attempting suicide.

It takes time and drop-distance (and separation from jumping-off point) to deploy a parachute, and also some time for a parachute to slow one's descent, so lower jump-off points are more dangerous. Base jumps ought to be ranked on the basis of how much they increase surviving-population IQ. (Cf. Darwin Awards.)

baseband signal
A signal centered on or near zero frequency (rather than a carrier frequency).

For example, standard NTSC TV receivers use an intermediate frequency (IF) of 44 MHz. The audio and video are encoded as modulations of that signal. The extracted audio and video signals, which have a much lower frequency range, are called baseband signals.

Based on a true story.

A floor below ground level (``below grade,'' as realtors say), forming the foundation of a building above. Most single-family homes are built either on a basement or on a slab. Basements on SFH's seem to be of three main types: full-block construction, partial-block construction, and poured. Block construction refers to concrete blocks; partial-block basements are partially poured. In the US, poured basements became common in the 1960's. Intermediate in type between a ground-level foundation and a basement is a Michigan basement.

I'm told that in Indiana, it's illegal to include the below-grade floor space in quoting the square-footage of a home (in the multiple listings, I guess), even if the basement is finished. If the house is not built on level ground, of course, things can get complicated.

When a house is extended sideways, it is typical not to enlarge the basement. It used to be common to create a crawl space under the extension -- a concrete-block wall around the perimeter of the extension supporting it above the ground, which might be excavated a little to leave about a meter of space between the extension floor and the soil. The ``crawl space'' (beneath the extension, enclosed by the blocks) would be accessible through an opening (typically a meter square) along the top of the basement wall. I don't know how typical all this is; most of the crawl spaces I've ever seen have been in Westfield, New Jersey. Nowadays, and probably since poured concrete became common in residential construction, extensions are typically built on slabs.

The Spanish word for basement is sótano (< Latin * subtulus < subtus `under'). Another word traced to subtus through an unattested derivation within Latin is sotana (< * subtana), for a floor-length garment, traditionally referring to a vestment worn by priests. It also referred to academic gowns, when academics wore them.

Badische Anilin- und Sodafabrik.

Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard. I know about water hazards and sand traps, but this seems a bit speculative. Oh wait-- that's ``bird,'' not ``birdie''! Never mind.

(GNU) Bourne Again (Unix) SHell. (The commercial Bourne shell is sh.) The bash shell takes some features from the Korn shell and the (t)c-shell.

Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. The first (computer) language I learned. Sort of a simplified Fortran, but they kept adding features...

For a bit of the prehistory of BASIC, see the DART entry. See also Visual Basic.

A name like BASIC makes possible a book title like Elementary BASIC (1985), ``as chronicled by [Dr.] John H. Watson. Edited with commentaries'' by Henry Ledgard & Andrew Singer. The conceit of the book is that Holmes might use the Analytic Engine to solve mysteries, helpfully explaining his methods to Dr. Watson. Too much sugar coating and not enough bitter pill for my taste, but every intellectual palate must be served.

Book And Serial Industry Communications. The standards forum of BISG -- mostly concerned with electronic technology standards. Formed by the merger of BISAC and SISAC in fall 1998. Standards developed earlier and associated with the BISAC or SISAC name retain their earlier designations.

Brazil, South Africa, India, and China. Well, ``basic'' is easier to pronounce than ``bsaic.''

Brothers And Sisters In Christ campus ministries. Why'd they get rid of the old background image? I didn't need to read the text.

You know, you can't have enough organizations named BASIC. There's a student organization at Siena College that's called ``Brothers And SIsters for Christ.'' That looks like a theogenetic problem to me.

British American Scientific International Commercial. A backronym for the word Basic in Ogden's Basic English (q.v.). FWIW, science and nation occur in the Basic vocabulary. If we accept the proper nouns Britain and America, then the expansion above might be rendered in Basic (put into Basic) as ``of science, nations, trade, Britain, and America.''

The ``installed base,'' so to speak, of English speakers, and the extreme lack of inflection in English (compared to other European languages) have motivated other attempts to create an international auxiliary language based in some way on English. The other successful effort (popular until Esperanto swept all before it) was Volapük. However, that language is unacceptable because in it my surname means `criminal.' The language E-prime is, like Basic, a subset of English (but devised on different principles). In the early 1960's, Basic (i.e., Basic English) influenced Alan Kay in his creation of the computer language Smalltalk.

Basically, ...
A sentence adverb that introduces an underinformed attempt at explanation. E.g., ``Basically, a partition is a number. Basically, like, a partition is a member of a partition. Basically, it's like this. Basically, hmmm, let me ostentatiously ponder the problem until you figure out the answer and I take credit for telling you how.''

If you're in a public computing lab with one of these loud verbal gorillas, wait it out. He'll quiet down as soon as his confident suggestion clearly fails to work.

Oops, louder again. ``Basically, Nr gets Bigger, you want to get it to come down.'' See, that number is bigger.

The corresponding marker in Spanish is Efectivamente....

The other thing you hear a lot in a computer lab is people repeating their previous statements with should inserted, or just saying ``well that should work... God how I hate hacking other people's code!'

Basic English
Basic English is a restricted subset of English, created primarily by C. K. Ogden and unleashed on the world in 1931. Also called Basic (q.v.). It created a buzz of enthusiasm that seems to have peaked in the mid-1940's. (Devoted Basic-Englishists can no doubt adduce tendentious evidence to contradict this.) Here from Ogden's The System of Basic English (Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1934) is the potted FAQ answer to the question ``What is Basic English?''
    Basic English is a careful and systematic selection of 850 English words which will cover those needs of everyday life for which a vocabulary of 20,000 words is frequently employed. Thse words are not the words most commonly used, as determined by word-counts; but all of them are common, and more than 600 of them are constantly used by an English or American child of six.

    There are 200 names of picturable objects, and
              400 other names of things; making
              600 nouns in all.
    There are 150 adjectives.
    The remaining 100 words put these names and adjectives into operation, so that the whole system may work as normal English.

It might not be remiss to quote the answer to the second question, ``What is its purpose?''

Basic English has two chief purposes:
  1. To serve as an international auxiliary language; that is to say, a second language for use throughout the world in general communication, commerce, and science.
  2. To provide a rational introduction to normal English; both as a first step, complete in itself, for those whose natural language is not English, and as a grammatical introduction, encouraging clarity of thought and expression, for English-speaking peoples at any stage of proficiency.

Here is a paragraph from The Shape of Things to Come, a bit of speculative future history that H.G. Wells published in 1933. (Yes, I'm aware of the term ``science fiction.'')

    Basic English was the invention of an ingenious scholar of Cambridge in England, C. K. Ogden (1889-1990), who devoted a long and industrious life to the simplification of expression and particularly to this particular simplification. It is interesting to note that he was a contemporary of James Joyce (1882-1955), who also devoted himself to the task of devising a new sort of English. But while Ogden sought scientific simplification, Joyce worked aesthetically for elaboration and rich suggestion, and vanished at last from the pursuit of his dwindling pack of readers in a tangled prose almost indistinguishable from the gibbering of a lunatic. Nevertheless he added about twenty-five words to the language which are still in use. Ogden, after long and industrious experimentation in the reverse direction, emerged with an English of 850 words and a few rules of construction which would enable any foreigner to express practically any ordinary idea simply and clearly. It became possible for an intelligent foreigner to talk or correspond in understandable English in a few weeks. On the whole it was more difficult to train English speakers to restrict themselves to the forms and words selected than to teach outsiders the whole of Basic. It was a teacher of languages, Rudolph Boyle (1910-1959), who contrived the method by which English speakers learnt to confine themselves, when necessary, to Basic limitations.
    This convenience spread like wildfire after the First Conference of Basra. It was made the official medium of communication throughout the world by the Air and Sea Control, and by 2020 there was hardly anyone in the world who could not talk and understand it.

Working approximately backwards through this to elucidate some references -- The First Conference at Basra in 1965 was a ``conference of scientific and technical workers ... regarded by historians as a cardinal date in the emergence of the Modern State.'' The beginning of the world government that Wells (1866-1946) envisioned. Boyle is, of course, a fiction. The real James Joyce did not enjoy the long life Wells assigned him here, dying in 1941. Charles Kay Ogden actually died in 1957.

Some day I'll flesh out the actual history of Basic English. For now I should mention that I.A. Richards, who had collaborated with Ogden on The Meaning of Meaning (1923), also collaborated with him on the research that led to the creation of Basic English, though Richards credited the invention primarily to Ogden's resourceful ability to express the greatest variety of thoughts with the smallest vocabulary. (This was a compliment.) From my understanding, it is not entirely a travesty to use of the word ``scientific'' to describe the engineering feat that was the creation of Basic English. One of its striking features is that the basic vocabulary contains a negligible number (18, I think) of pure verbs (not counting their in-many-cases irregular conjugations).

Winston S. Churchill gave a boost to Basic English when he received an honorary degree at Harvard University on September 5, 1943. September is a strange time to receive a degree, but the exigencies of war bent all schedules. Churchill took the occasion of his acceptance speech to tout Basic, which fit well with his cherished vision of the unity of the English-speaking peoples. He described it as ``a very carefully wrought plan for an international language, capable of very wide transactions of practical business and of interchange of ideas ... a medium of intercourse and understanding to many races and an aid to the building of our new structure for preserving peace.'' It doesn't sound like his best stuff, but the speech was broadcast and heard by millions in the US, and the interest it stirred led to newspaper articles well into 1944 on the subject of Basic English.

Part of his argument was like a qualitative version of Metcalfe's Law: that the adoption of English as the universal language (to be accelerated through the use of Basic English) would increase the value of English to those already using it. His speech that day contained an obvious allusion to Lincoln's second inaugural address, also delivered in wartime. (``Let us go forward in malice to none and good will to all.'') This probably gets you to wondering about the famous and variously attributed ``[America and Britain] ... divided by a common language'' line. The status quaestionis of that quotation's origin is summarized here.

Subsequently, Churchill continued to press within the British government for possible application of Basic English, such as possible radio broadcasts by the BBC. When a grateful nation swept Churchill out of office (I mean every word of this) in elections shortly following the victorious conclusion of WWII in Europe, government bureaucrats were generally relieved to be relieved of the need to humor his minor obsession with Basic.

Texts originally written in Basic English can be quite graceful and fluent, but it is often hard to tell to what extent the author has allowed the vocabulary limitations to restrict what is written. Translations of ordinary English into Basic are often inaccurate, stilted, or absurd. Ridicule based on such stilted translations is the immediate reaction of many English-speakers introduced to Basic. Translations into Basic (``writing put into Basic,'' as one would say in Basic) grind down to flatness any fine gradations of meaning. Such gradations do not fail to exist just because they cannot be expressed, so one immediately suspects that texts originally written in Basic are in some sense also inaccurate despite the impression of fluency and naturalness. (No one denies that using Basic entails trade-offs; the argument is only over when and to what extent these trade-offs are worthwhile.)

A loss of nuance is also an important (but intentional) feature of Newspeak, the official language George Orwell outlined as the speech of the dystopia Oceania in his Nineteen Eighty-Four. The idea of Newspeak arose from his analysis of the relationship between speech and totalitarianism, as partly described in his famous essay, ``Politics and the English Language.'' There seems to be no direct evidence that Orwell intended Newspeak as a criticism of Basic English, though it must be noted that Nineteen Eighty-Four was published late in 1949 and he died early in 1950. I suspect that, in any case, the Basic English fad had already peaked by 1949. Nevertheless, the criticism inherent in the Newspeak travesty may have tainted Basic English to some degree.


Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research. A quarterly publication of -- you guessed it -- the American Schools of Oriental Research. For ASOR's other publications, see AASOR.

Bastille Day
The day when the Bastille was stormed in 1789: July 14. The Bastille was a fortress originally built to defend Paris, but by early in the eighteenth century was a prison. It had been a political prison, and its storming was quickly taken to mark the start of the French Revolution. Here's a good page on it.

Brown Adipose Tissue. Small mammals get extra heating from BAT. Humans don't have any.

Batan, BATAN
Badan Tenaga Atom Nasional. Indonesia's `National Atomic Energy Commission.'

It's just a matter of time, isn't it?

BATA Shoe Museum
They sometimes write it in capitals, but Bata is just the surname of Tomas Bata, who in 1894 founded the Bata Shoe Organization in Zlin, a town in the present-day Czech Republic. The Bata Shoe Museum is at 327 Bloor Street West, corner with St. George -- you can't miss it, the building looks like it was damaged in a quake -- something Toronto envies San Francisco, I guess. The museum is just three blocks from the ROM. On your way, stop at the Bob Miller Book Room (180 Bloor West). You could also go five blocks south from the BATA to the University of Toronto bookstore at St. George and College Streets, which incidentally occupies part of the old premises of the city's central library. Gee, I hope they didn't tear down the shelving. Atticus bookshop on Harbord is also recommended. Abelard too. One of the world's steepest gradients of booktownishness comes somewhere between Toronto and Buffalo. Toronto is a pretty good book town. At least it was about five years ago. There aren't so many small bookstores now that they have two competing superbookstore chains, though. They lost the whole Lichtman's chain, and Britnell's, and a bunch of lesser stores. One of the big unheralded events of 2000 was that the big chains (and the big online bookstores) quietly eliminated discounts on most of their books, now offering deep discounts only on best-sellers. Can you say p r e d a t o r y p r i c i n g? Sure you can!

Last time I was in Toronto, there was a book store there that advertised itself as the largest in the world or something. Ignore it. It has the biggest ratio of aisle width to shelf height of any book store in the world. For a great bookstore with towering inaccessible bookshelves, try Powell's in Portland, Oregon.

Uh-oh. Looks like another emergency-candies situation. Turns out that World's Biggest Bookstore is just its name, not its claim. Grumble. Had a couple of us fooled there.

The following comments are more relevant than they seem yet: In English spelling, the letters b and p generally represent essentially the same consonant. B is a voiced bilabial stop, and p is a voiceless bilabial stop. All that means is that any vowel adjacent to b is pronounced 20 to 30 milliseconds closer to the consonant articulation than it would be adjacent to a p. In Arabic (at least as spoken in North Africa), and in Hebrew as spoken by North African immigrants to Israel, there is no phonemic b/p distinction. For an example of how this plays out, see the SG entry.

The reason I bring up the similarity of the consonants b and p is that in Spanish, pata means `paw, foot.'

The letter b in Spanish happens to represent a sound that is usually not a stop, but like the sound we represent by v. It is neither b nor v, however: it's produced bilabially like English b, whereas English v is produced labiodentally. In the IPA, that sound is represented by the Greek letter beta.

There's a similar, less discernible distinction with f. In Japanese, the sounds we distinguish as h and f are considered equivalent, with transliteration based mostly on the vowel sound following it (Japanese consists essentially of consonant-vowel syllables). Followed by u, it's interpreted as f (e.g., Fuji), followed by i, it's an h. Hence, coffee is kohi. These transliterations represent tendencies in the sound of the consonant. What is not so obvious is that the articulation is essentially that which English uses for h. With a front vowel like /i:/, the point of articulation moves forward to the lips. That yields a sound like our f, even though our f is articulated labiodentally. It's the sound of a blown kiss. (Not just any blown kiss; a blown kiss that's all blowing.) In the IPA, the bilabially articulated Japanese f-sound is written with a Greek letter phi. Japanese speakers who learn a European second language after infancy tend to use the bilabial f in the second language. That tends to be tiring for the speaker, because it requires greater aspiration to produce the same volume of sound. It's like loud whispering.

[An indication of the close relationship of eff and aitch sounds can be seen in a large class of English words that end in -gh. At one time, English had the aitch-like sound /x/ (represented by "ch" in German Bach and Irish loch) and the similar but more closed /ç/ (also represented by "ch" in German word Licht, cognate with English `light'). As these sounds disappeared from English, they were replaced (if at all) by the closest available sound: eff. Hence the modern pronunciations of cough, enough, rough, and tough.]

BTW, zapato means `shoe,' but un pato is a drake. A zapata is also one or another kind of shoe, but mostly it's a half-boot, what we used to call a chukka in the Boy Scouts. You're probably thinking that una pata should mean a duck, but no, it just means `paw' or `foot.' Remember that nouns for most wild animals have fixed grammatical gender in Spanish: females as well as males of the duck persuasion are patos, not patas (if you want to specify, a drake is a pato macho and a duck is a pato hembra). Incidentally, y'know there's no really convenient way of translating webbed feet into Spanish. I suppose you could call them patas de pato.

Emiliano Zapata led a popular rebellion in southern Mexico. It began in 1910 against long-time dictator Porfirio Díaz, and continued during a succession of elected and non-elected leaders. There's a bit more about this time period in the PRI entry. The BATA has neither los zapatos de Zapata nor las zapatas de Zapata. Not even las zapatillas de Zapata (his slippers). Their collection is not strong on Mexican military foot fashions, but they do have shoes of that general vintage. See? I'm not off-topic, I'm just a bit round-about. The BATA has 10,000 shoes in its collection. By my estimate, that comes to, in round numbers you understand, about 5000 pairs, more or less well-matched. Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos left behind 1500 pairs when her husband Ferdinand was deposed.

Come back in a few months, when we add exciting new material on Ernesto Zedillo and the cedilla.

You know, the lady from the teaching effectiveness program said you have to dramatize numbers, because numbers don't mean anything to people like her. Okay, so she didn't say that exactly, but that's what she meant even though she didn't know it. Lessee now, suppose Mrs. Marcos had left behind 1500 pears instead. In a walk-in refrigerator. You could have eaten four pears a day for a year and still had enough left over to plant an orchard even if you didn't save the seeds from the pears you ate.

Ed Sullivan always had a ``really, really big shoe for you tonight,'' but the time that Elvis Presley performed, the broadcast didn't show any part of him below the waist. It's not as if he left his fly open by accident or anything.

As you will recall from the beginning of the entry, the Bata shoe company was founded by one Tomas Bata in Zlin. One Tomas Straussler was born in Zlin on July 3, 1937, the younger son of Eugene Straussler, who was a physician for the Bata company. I don't understand why Bata had one or more company physicians, but for his own and his family's health and safety, Eugene was transferred to Singapore in 1939. This didn't work out so well for him personally, as he was killed there in 1942 when the Japanese invaded. His wife and two sons had been evacuated to India. There Martha Straussler eventually married Kenneth, an officer in the British army. The sons adopted their stepfather's surname, and Tomas Straussler became Tom Stoppard.

Early in 1938, my mother was also in Czechoslovakia. ``Stateless in Prague (1938)'' doesn't have the same melifluousness as ``Sleepless in Seattle (1993),'' but it does have its poignancy and cause for sleeplessness. My mother was on the last flight out before Germany occupied the Sudetenland. There's no little irony in the fact that this occupation, the result of Neville (``Peace for our time'') Chamberlain's infamous appeasement in Munich, was ostensibly needed to protect Germans in Czechoslovakia. When I mentioned Bata shoes to my mother, she looked puzzled for a moment and then corrected me. I meant ``Batya'' shoes. Turns out that in Czech, Bata is spelled Bat'a. Oh yes, they're world famous. She bought a pair in New York when she visited in 1954. I prefer Clarks (see this E entry to learn why).

Bata shoes is all about pronunciation. It might be the ideal shoe for when you need to put your foot in your mouth.

Other people who took the opportunity to leave central Europe around that time included the Biro brothers, mentioned at the ball-point pen entry. My friend Lisbeth Brodie did not have that opportunity. After surviving the Warsaw ghetto uprising, she ended up in the Czech town of Terezin, Theresienstadt in German, about forty miles from Prague. She always wore long-sleeve blouses. In her last years, at the invitation of the state of New Jersey, Lisbeth would go around to local schools and describe her experiences.

She told me that one question children would ask, that she knew she could not answer in a way to make them understand, was how she had felt. One felt nothing, one's feelings died. That is not exactly true, of course. In the rooms after morning roll call, she and her fellow prisoners would dance, to celebrate surviving another day alive. On May 8, 1945, she celebrated liberation by the Red Army. For this she had food, a rich feast: a bar of butter. An incomplete meal for an incomplete party; she was the only survivor of her family in Poland. She eventually got to the US, where she made a life as a nursery school teacher (including mine, when I first arrived in the US). As she lay dying on Tuesday, May 16, 2001, we and her closest family -- an English cousin -- quietly celebrated her life and her ninetieth birthday. She died the following Friday morning.

Block Address Translation Cache.

Bonner Analytical Testing COmpany.

British American Tobacco COmpany. Nowadays it calls itself ``British American Tobacco'' and is a ``group'' -- a UK-based conglomerate (British American Tobacco plc, which is of course a company) of tobacco companies in 66 countries (as of 2004) around the world.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Someone seeking a connection among these three items may think of health dangers, but that is an anachronistic view in two respects. First, because at the time that the BATF was formed, tobacco was not considered an in-any-way dangerous substance. Second, because these are not the most dangerous substances today either. As Warren Zevon has pointed out in a song, the really dangerous items are lawyers, guns and money.

At the time that the BATF was formed, these three items (A, T, and F) were the most prominent federally-taxed items. Nor was the US the only country in which this was ever true. More recently, Gorbachev's early campaign against heavy drinking and alcoholism redounded in significantly reduced tax revenues for the USSR. A letter revealed in a recent new biography of Stalin shows that when he was contemplating ways to raise money for the coming war with Germany (known as the ``Great Patriotic War'' in the old USSR; WWII elsewhere), he considered promoting greater consumption of alcohol. In China, a corresponding rôle is played by cigarettes.

Technically, the correct acronym is NOT `BATF' but `ATF' (q.v.). Now you know.

Barium Titanate. A dielectric, electret (i.e., ferroelectric) at room temperature, nonlinear optical material.

British Association of Teachers Of the Deaf.


Batrachomyomachia. It's clear that, if you're looking for a title to abbreviate, this is a good choice. Batr. is a mock epic; the title is Greek for ``The Battle of the Frogs and Mice.'' (For your entertainment, the Let's be friends blog has a page with a picture of a mouse riding a frog.)

The Romans generally believed that Batr. had been written by Homer. Considering that various elements of it parody the Iliad (as well as the Homeric cycle), this is as much as to say that Homer parodied his own great epic. It says something about the Romans that they thought this. Plutarch attributed the work to Pigres of Halicarnassus, brother or son of Artemisia, queen of Caria. I hope you find that illuminating. Halicarnassus was an Greek city on the coast of Caria (an ancient region of southwest Asia Minor), and this Pigres is also called Pigres of Caria. The Suda agrees on the authorial attribution, but given the derivative nature of the Suda and the prominence of Plutarch, that might not count as corroboration.

Interestingly, FROG and SPIDER are competing methods in the measurement of laser chirp.

Believe me, if I knew some way of working mice in there that wasn't WIMPy, I'd have done it.

Ángel María Ganivet García was a Spanish writer and a diplomat who represented his country in Antwerp, Helsinki, and Riga. He published a book called Ideárium Español, and Miguel de Unamuno replied to it in three letters which he also published in the periodical El Defensor. Ganivet responded to this with an extended essay addressed to Unamuno, entitled El Porvenir de España (`The Future of Spain'). By the way, my friend Vladimir's sister-in-law did her dissertation on Unamuno. One day we were driving in Washington, D.C., and I remarked about a statue that it reminded me of Unamuno, and she turned and asked me why. (I wasn't aware until later that she had a particular interest in Unamuno.) I explained that it was the grave, thoughtful attitude (I meant posture) that reminded me of a statue of Unamuno that I had seen in Spain. This personal bit of trivia involving a woman whose name I can't even remember is of no possible interest to you, but I don't have any other place to mention it. The take-home is that once, at least, I actually did have a life. No wait, let me try that again. The take-home is that Unamuno was a famous Spanish philosopher. Here's a quick passable translation [original follows] of the first paragraph of Ganivet's essay:

  I have not forgotten, friend and companion Unamuno, those afternoons of which you remind me, nor those café chats, nor those strolls through La Castellana when, with the enthusiasm and earnestness of students just out of the classrooms, we reformed our country according to our whim. I still recall your projects of those days. Among them the one that most interested me was that of publishing the Batrachomyomachia of Homer (or whomever), with illustrations by yourself. To bring off this arduous enterprise with panache, you studied in depth the anatomy of mice and frogs. Whatever came of that interest? On the marble table of the café you painted a frog for me with such consummate skill that I have not been able to forget it: I still see it staring fixedly at me, as if it wanted to eat me with its bulging eyes.

[  No he olvidado, amigo y compañero Unamuno, aquellas tardes que usted me recuerda, ni aquellas charlas de café, ni aquellos paseos por la Castellana cuando, con el ardor y la buena fe de estudiantes recién salidos de las aulas, reformábamos nuestro país a nuestro antojo. Recuerdo aún sus proyectos de entonces, entre los cuales el que más me interesó era el de publicar la Batracomaquia, de Homero (o de quien sea), con ilustraciones de usted mismo, que, para salir con lucimiento de su ardua empresa, estudiaba a fondo la anatomía de los ratones y de las ranas. ¿Qué fué de aquella afición? Sobre la mesa de mármol del café me pintó usted una rana con tan consumada maestría, que no la he podido olvidar: aún la veo que me mira fijamente, como si quisiera comerme con los ojos saltones.]

I can save you the trouble: Ganivet doesn't mention the Batr. anywhere else in the essay.

Bilateral Arm Training with Rhythmic Auditory Cueing. A physical therapy strategy for stroke victims, involving coordinated arm movement in time with a metronome. Both arms are exercised although only one has been debilitated by a stroke. It had been accepted that post-stroke rehabilitation plateaus after about three months, but significant improvements have been demonstrated with BATRAC more than two years after a stroke (research reported June 2004 at the fifth International Stroke Society World Congress in Vancouver, B.C.).

Biosphere-Atmosphere Transfer Scheme. A ``comprehensive model of land-surface processes.''

British American Theatrical Society. ``English-speaking theatre in Antwerp.''

Burst And Transient Source Experiment. (On board the GRO.)

Beryllium Atomization and Thermal Spray Facility. At Los Alamos National Labs (LANL).

batteries, It just needs
It does not work. This a technical usage, a term of art among flea marketers (also flee marketers). Granted, the meaning is not intuitive, but it's perfectly honest, because everybody uses the same terminology, so you ought to know it. (You should also know the longer alternative form, ``It works, it just needs batteries.'') On the other hand, ``It works, it just needs a cord'' means `irreparable, use for parts.' ``Needs repair'' means `not good even for parts; throw it in the front yard for the kids to play with, near the car that's up on blocks.


History here (electrical batteries in the modern sense below):

In its original sense, battery was the name of the action of battering or beating, or of the apparatus for doing it. The word has been used figuratively, and the meaning has also been extended in many special applications where some kind of force is applied repeatedly. This kind of usage seems to have been especially popular in the nineteenth century, when battery was used in baseball for pitchers and later for pitcher-catcher pairs, in astronomy for series of lenses, and in mining for rock-pulverizing mills with multiple ``stamps'' (hammers). Perhaps the most widely used extended sense of the word bequeathed us by the twentieth century is represented in ``a battery of [typically psychological, intelligence, or clinical] tests.''

The current principal sense of battery is that of a kind of self-contained electrochemical power source. This goes back to Benjamin Franklin. In 1748, or at least no later than that, he introduced the term into electricity in the sense of multiple capacitors connected in series. The idea was that if you charge a number of capacitors (often Leyden jars) separately or in parallel up to some voltage, then a multiple of them in series gives a multiple of the voltage.

When Franklin was doing his pioneering experiments with electricity, triboelectricity (q.v.; typically amber or glass rubbed with fur) was the main source of practical electric energy. (Lightning was not very practical except as an unusual way to kill yourself.) If you wanted higher voltage, a battery of capacitors was your option. Apart from that application, there's not much call for hooking a number of capacitors up in series: it yields a smaller capacitance, and an easier way to make a smaller capacitance (though with a lower voltage rating) is simply to make a smaller (less cross-sectional area) capacitor.

Electronics has progressed somewhat since the eighteenth century, and we no longer use the word battery for capacitors in series. I'm not going to get into a detailed analysis of just how capacitors are used today. There are some situations where it's appropriate to use capacitors in series, and capacitors (modern ultracapacitors) are again used as temporary power supplies in some applications. But now the word battery is used for electrochemical cells.

Today, if you have to work with a fixed-voltage source and you need a higher voltage, you just use a step-up transformer. (You can used it essentially directly for an AC source. If your source is DC, you use it to power an inverter, producing AC to feed the primary of the step-up transformer. If you need DC out, you can rectify on the secondary side of the transformer. See DC/DC converter.)

Modern electrical batteries (first the boring historical stuff):

Toward the end of the

[under construction]

Modern electrical batteries (now the boring technical stuff):

The two idealized kinds of DC power supply are constant-current and constant-voltage sources. An ordinary chemical battery can be well represented by a constant-voltage source in series with an internal resistance or equivalently by a constant-current source with a parallel internal resistance. At the circuit-theoretic level, they are equivalent. Any such DC power supply will have a maximum voltage (at zero current: open circuit) and a maximum current (at zero voltage: shorted).

(This interchangeability of current-source and voltage-source circuit models is quite general. In the small-signal analysis of a transistor circuit, one uses both voltage-controlled current-source models and current-controlled voltage-source models, choosing mainly for convenience of calculation. Of course, nowadays most people just use a simulator like SPICE.)

The voltage of a single chemical cell is determined by the redox reaction it relies on. That voltage is less than or equal (ideally) to the energy per electron transfer, so it is on the order of one volt. The standard lead-acid reaction yields the standard cell voltage of 1.5 V, the alkaline cells that over recent years have almost completely replaced this in consumer devices have similar voltages. Different-size cells (``1.5-volt batteries'') differ in the area of their electrodes. Cells of increasing size (AAAA, AAA, AA, A, B, C, D) can supply increasing amounts of current. One can think of a large cell as composed of smaller cells in parallel (individual cells connected anode-to-anode, cathode-to-cathode). A number N of equivalent cells in parallel yields an N-fold increase in maximum current. If one regards the cells as constant-voltage sources with series internal resistances, one can regard the N-fold increase as arising from the reduced internal resistance: the N internal resistances in parallel have an overall resistance of 1/N of their individual resistances.

By combining chemical cells in series one creates a ``battery.'' The term battery was borrowed from military usage by Benjamin Franklin, whose book on electricity was the vade mecum of ``electricians'' (researchers into electricity) through the end of the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth. Like a military battery, a chemical battery combines the force of the individual cells to produce a greater force -- voltage, in this case. In a battery, the cells are connected in series. All commercial nine-volt batteries are made of six 1.5-volt cells in series. Car batteries are really batteries. Nowadays 12 volts has become the virtually universal standard, as far as I can tell, with the car chasis connected to the negative pole. However, there have been positive-ground cars, and I seem to recall my mother's 1964 Plymouth Valiant had a six-volt battery.

From the user's standpoint, there is little or no difference between a battery and a single voltaic cell, so it is natural (especially given the many other uses of the word cell) that the word battery should have come to be used for both. However, a number of cells in parallel is not what Franklin had in mind by ``battery.''

Voltage-level changes per second. This is not the same as the data rate or bit rate. For example, it can be twice the bit rate if simple return-to-zero encoding is used. [Pronounced ``bawd.'']

Bells And Whistles.

Bayerische Mediengesetz. `Bavarian [broadcast] media law.'

(Domain code for) Barbados. `Bearded ones.' (Cf. discussion at b. entry, just in case you missed it as you were systematically reading through the B's.)


Base Band (n.) or Baseband (adj. and sometimes n.).

Base[s] on Balls.

Bed and Breakfast. An old house that's been divided into a large number of servant's-quarters-sized rooms. Night's stay in one of the rooms, with Breakfast included. Private bath is extra, if it's available at all, but there may be a sink in the room.

Benedictine & Brandy. Cognac may be substituted for brandy. Stirred (i.e., with ice) or neat (i.e., straight up). The most parsimonious of mixed drinks, the standard recipe calls for only 1/2 ounce of each of the main ingredients. And you thought those prissy little isosceles right triangles of white-bread sandwich garden-party treats were stingy.

BlackBoard. A widely used, almost completely worthless piece of education software. BlackBoard enables you to do everything that you can do with email and http. The technologically feebleminded report that they find it helpful.

The main selling point to faculty is that it streamlines a number of on-line activities that one would normally accomplish using different programs, but BlackBoard itself is universally recognized to be clunky. There you have it: clunky streamlining.

B'nai B'rith.

B'nai Brith is a Jewish fraternal service organization. It was founded in Aaron Sinsheimer's café on New York's Lower East Side on October 13, 1843, by a group of twelve recent Jewish immigrants from Germany. The early meetings were held in German, but they eventually switched to English. Around then they also changed the name of the organization from the original Bundes Brüder (German for `brothers of the covenant'). I was going to praise their wisdom in preserving the initials, but the case is not so clear-cut. The English name they originally chose was ``Independent Order of B'nai B'rith.'' They didn't get around to shortening the name to plain B'nai B'rith (Hebrew for `sons of the covenant') until 1930.

At first it was really a fraternal organization like some Masonic ones -- a collection of lodges. Also, until 1988 it was all-male. (A women's auxiliary chapter was formed in 1897; see BBW.) The organization went international in 1875: A lodge in exotic Toronto! Or York or whatever it was at the time. Then Montréal! In 1882 it went intercontinental: a lodge in Berlin, where I imagine they spoke German. That is believed to have been the first instance of a Jewish organization founded in the New World being transplanted in the Old. Lodges were formed in Cairo (1887) and Jerusalem (1888).

Because the organization is international, you want to know how the name is pronounced in English. Roughly (very very roughly) speaking, that's what the rest of the entry is about.

Hebrew, like most Semitic languages, is written with a consonantal script. Vowels (and some other phonemic information) are indicated in schoolbooks and some other literature by a system of diacriticals called ``pointing'' (actually by Tiberian pointing, which is the one of various competing pointing systems that survived). The shwa can be indicated like any other vowel, but it can be very short, so in transliterated Hebrew it may or may not be indicated. Whether it is or not depends partly on what are regarded as acceptable consonant clusters in the target language. For example, an apostrophe indicates the shwa in the word b'rith as the BB writes it, but usually the vowel is not indicated at all, probably because br is a standard consonant cluster in English. The word is normally written brit: the final aitch in the BB spelling is an indication that the consonant was aspirated. (In practice, however, the BB word B'rith is pronounced as ``brith,'' to rhyme with ``with.'')

Do I really have to explain this aspiration thing again? No, but I'm gonna anyway. The final letter of the Hebrew alphabet is tav. A dot (called a dagesh) could be inserted in its glyph to indicate that it was not aspirated. The sound of the undotted (i.e., aspirated) tav evolved into an ess sound in Ashkenazi pronunciation (hence bris instead of brit). I think the Douai versions of the Bible (essentially the Catholic response to the KJV) use a lot of aitches to indicate aspirated consonants that evolved (bh for what became v, etc.). So for example, the apocryphal book Tobit in the KJV (the original Authorized Version did authorize the Apocrypha) is Tobith in the Douai. (Of course, the Hebrew version of the name Judith also ends in tav -- Yudit -- but the English version of that name was established. There's more about brit at the USA entry, about half a dozen paragraphs from the end.

Okay, now back to shwa. If the vowel occurs between consonants that don't occur as a recognizable consonant cluster in English, then some graphical indication of the vowel is more likely to be given. Before the en (Hebrew letter nun) for example, one typically sees an apostrophe transliterating shwa in b'nai (`sons, members of a group') and sometimes in p'nina (`pearl' -- the object, and also girl's given name). Notice that Ancient Greek had the consonant cluster pn, but in Greek-based words like pneumatic we don't pronounce it. Probably more often a vowel is used instead of an apostrophe, as in the more common transliteration penina. Incidentally, the final vowel cluster in bnai, typically pronounced like a long a in North America, actually transliterates a long i sound, just like ai in the Hepburn system for Japanese, but I've generally heard it pronounced ``buh-NAY.''

While we're on the subject, the strict Hepburn system also has an apostrophe associated with en. The two-letter sequences na, ni, etc. could either represent one kana (na, ni, nu, ne, or no) or two (syllabic en followed by one of na, ni, etc.). An apostrophe following letter en indicates that two kana are transcribed. (Yes, there is a difference in pronunciation.) Some Romanized-Japanese dictionaries use an apostrophe between doubled consonants to indicate that they should both be pronounced. This can be a bit of overkill, since there's no other reason to double a consonant in transliteration, but it's a useful reminder to people familiar with West European languages that, like French, English, and pre-spelling-reform Portuguese, maintain double consonants from Latin with no phonetic distinction from single consonants. However, in retranscribing nn or n'n back to Japanese kana, there is no ambiguity: it's a syllabic en followed by the kana for a syllable beginning in en.

As individually transcribed, all kana other than syllabic en end in a vowel, so you might wonder what other doubled consonants could occur. In a word (if you'll pardon the, uh, expression): plenty. For example, the kana for tsu, followed by the kana for ku, is sometimes used to write kku. (Most of the time, of course, you wouldn't see this because the word would be written in kanji.) This is not so strange as it might seem, for two reasons: First, because the vowels i and u are often elided. (Most people, for example, pronounce the final syllable su as an ess, or with a very soft vowel that sounds like a German ö.) Hence (and I'm not certain what ``hence'' means here), syllables with consonant sounds that cannot be represented by single kana are represented with kana pairs, the first kana ending in i. (E.g., kiya for kya, shisa for sha, etc.) A similar use of kana ending in u is less extensive; I'll have to look into this. The second reason that tsuku for kku is natural is that tsu is a sort of hyperaspirated tu (the related kana are ta, chi, tsu, te, to). So tsuku is like tuku is like t'ku.... Adjacent stops are often assimilated into one. For example, Latin -ct- becomes Italian -tt- (octo, otto). Let's not talk about duct tape. Some people pronounce ``dotcom'' as ``dah com'' -- you can't hear a tee. To take a more distant example (labial and dental stops, rather than palatal and dental), Western European languages generally simplified the pt and phth consonant clusters in Greek loans.

To round out the discussion, we should also cover doubled vowels in Japanese. Japanese vowels have length like Latin and German vowels: they vary in duration. In hiragana, lengthening is normally indicated by doubling the vowel (i.e., by adding a vowel kana for the doubled vowel). In katakana, the syllable is followed by a length mark. Prominent exceptions to ``normally'' in the preceding sentence occur with long-o in hiragana, which may be indicated using the a u kana or with the length mark normally used with katakana. The length mark, incidentally, is refreshingly intuitive: it's a long horizontal line. The strict Hepburn system tries to reproduce this, with some allowance for Western orthographic sensibilities. In particular, long e and long i are indicated by ei and ii if they would be written with hiragana (i.e., if they are native Japanese words or Chinese loans) and by a macron over the e or i if they are foreign loans (katakana). Vowels a, o, and u are consistently indicated by a macron. Of course, that's the Hepburn system. What people generally write is something else again. Most fonts still don't have macrons, so people either fail to indicate the lengthening or use a doubled vowel (or ei or ou). (You think this is confusing? Imagine ``or ou'' in French.) It seems to me that the usual practice is to omit any indication of long a or u, to often indicate long i, and sometimes to indicate long e and long o. Pronunciation varies, and the long e and o can be a little rounded (like English ey and ow, as you won't be surprised to learn given the transcriptions ei and ou). It occurs to me that I probably should move this explanation someplace else. What was this entry about in the first place anyway?

Body Bias[ing]. The voltage of the body or bulk of the semiconductor wafer on which an integrated circuit is fabricated.

Bold and the Beautiful. A CBS daytime soap opera.

Branch and Bound. A method of solving discrete optimization problems (COP).

Postal code for Brandenburg, one of the sixteen states (Länder) of the German Federal Republic (FRG). [Like most of the country information in this glossary, Germany's is at the domain code .de.] Its area is 29,479 sq. km., and its population was estimated at 12,057,000 for 1997. Brandenburg was part of the old East Germany.

Brigitte Bardot. Animal rights crusader, née Camille Javal, September 28, 1934. Cf. D. Day.

Broad (spectral) Band.

Shot 0.18 inches in diameter, and the gun or air rifle used to fire it.

Watch out! Someone could get hurt with that thing!

Bachelor of Business Administration. New name for what used to be designated an undifferentiated, if not always undistinguished, BA; patterned on ``MBA.''

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in need of a wife.

-- Opening words of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

Balanced Budget Act. Appropriations bills need Madison Avenue titles so people will buy them? Money is sexy! (Though budgets are soporific, often by design.)

Biochimica et Biophysica Acta. An entire suite of journals from that astoundingly expensive scientific journal publisher Elsevier.

British Bankers' Association. ``The voice of banking and financial services'' in the UK.

Broad-Band AntiReflective (coating, etc.).

Better Business Bureau. A great idea, but just try to get them on the phone.

Blood-Brain Barrier.

Broad-Breasted Bronze turkey. As opposed to BBW.

Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Before Birth Control.

Boston Baptist College.

British-Born Chinese.

British Broadcasting Corporation. Known as the Beeb.

BroadBand Bearer Capability.

Bumper to Back of Cab. Truck dimension: precisely, the distance from the point furthest forward on the front bumper to furthest point back of the outside of the cab.

For more, see Chassis Dimensions (I know what you're thinking, you filthy-minded person!) in the NTEA's glossary of Truck Equipment Terms.

British Broadcasting Corporation America. A digital cable and satellite channel distributing the Beeb in the US -- totally undubbed! But wait: if you order now, you also get ... advertising! Cf. BBCC.

Brussels British Community Association. ``The Brussels British Community Association (BBCA) covers not only Brussels itself but also the provinces of Brabant, Hainaut, Liege, Namur and Luxembourg. The Antwerp British Community Association covers the northern part of the country.'' This makes it seem as if BBCA is for French-accented English, and ABCA for Flemish-accented.

British Broadcasting Corporation Canada. A cable channel distributing Auntie in Canada. But there's more: you also get ... Canadian content! ``As per our license agreement with the CRTC, we are required to air 35 per cent Canadian content on BBC CANADA. This agreement also requires us to show [some] Canadian programming at peak hours.'' (That is, they can't pack the required Canadian content into the no-viewer time slots. Shucks -- they thought of that!)

British Broadcasting Corporation Kids. Victims of teletubbies? Good guess, but no cigar. It's a joint project of the BBC and Alliance Atlantic Communications, which distributes BBC (diluted with Canadian content to protect weak governmental stomachs) in Canada.

bBDC, BBDC, bbdc
Before Bottom Dead Center. See BDC.

Bare Bones EDIT. An html editor for the Mac. For Windows, try HomeSite, the WYSIWYN html editor.

Broadcasting Board of Governors. In harmony? No. ``On October 1, 1999, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) became the independent, autonomous Federal entity responsible for all U.S. government and government[-]sponsored international broadcasting.''

N. N. Bogoliubov, M. Born, H. S. Green, J. G. Kirkwood, J. Yvon. Hierarchy of equations involving reduced distribution functions for successively higher numbers of particles. The heirarchy, in various equivalent formulations, was derived independently by the named researchers during the 1950's.

Bogoliubov, in particular, worked in the Soviet Union. Although he published in major Soviet journals, there was always a delay before most Western scientists became aware of his work, since most of them did not read Russian, and cover-to-cover technical-journal translation was just starting up. Right through the 1960's, a lot of scientific work that was not secret and which had no evident military significance was done essentially in duplicate because of the poor communication between scientists on opposite sides of the Iron Curtain, but that has nothing to do with what I wanted to write about. I only wanted to say that I would be surprised if this Bogoliubov didn't play chess, but that the one better known for playing chess was the Ukrainian master Efim Bogoljubov (1889-1952). (He lived in Germany after WWI, hence the transliteration using j.) Famous line: ``When I am White, I win because I am White; when I am Black, I win because I am Bogoljubov.'' [It's the second definition of modesty in Eliot Hearst's Chess Glossary.] I suppose it would have crossed the line from modesty to self-abasement if he'd noted that when he was White, he lost because he was Bogoljubov.

Broad-Band High-Reflectance (coating, etc.).

B'nai B'rith International. (Follow link for main entry.)

bbiab, BBIAB
[I'll] Be Back In A Bit.

Just go. You won't be missed.

Bis-BenzImidazole Perylene. Also BBZ. An excellent near-IR sensor.

Barrel. No, I don't know where the second b comes from. They probably just had too many extras lying around.

BBL, bbl
Be Back L8r. (But BB4N.)

Brain-Based Learning. Yer thinkin': ``duh.'' Not so fast there, smarty-pants! The head isn't always where it's at. Brains ain't everything, you know. When praying mantes mate, the male doesn't really start to pump furiously until after the female has started eating him, starting at the head. No, no, I mean really eating him, biting his big compound eyes off and all.

Ugh! Anyway, it just goes to show that it's not only internal organs that can function just fine without any free advice from the upstairs. (Most business organizations are the same way, but those data are problematic as there may not be any brains upstairs either.) Limbs, the parts of the body one thinks of as being under ``voluntary'' (i.e. brain?) control can, uh, go through the motions without any input from the brain.

Your fall-back position is that that's just it: going through the motions is one thing, but fer larnin' yeh needs a brain. In fact, you say, it's also well known that some insects, such as cockroaches and locusts, are able to walk and to right themselves when turned over, even after they have been completely decapitated. You used to perform these experiments yourself. Heck, you'll even grant that chickens are very well known to sometimes run around after being decapitated, even though it's difficult to track down serious research on this. (In any case, that phenomenon is, pardon the expression, short-lived.)

But you're wrong about learning and the brain. In 1962, Nature (London) published a letter by G. A. Horridge in entitled ``Learning of Leg Position by Headless Insects'' (vol. 193, pp. 697-8). Horridge reasoned from the roach and locust facts you mentioned that ``[e]vidently there is a high degree of local control of the posture and responses of the legs by the corresponding segmental ganglia; therefore not all details of the proprioceptive control of leg position need ascend to the brain. In turn, long-term adaptive changes in leg posture might then necessarily be controlled by the segmental ganglia if the detailed information were available only at the segmental level.''

Sure enough, decapitation is only slightly more effective in changing the behavior of a roach leg than is amputating other legs. It reminds me of the line an alarmed Woody Allen utters in Sleeper, an encomium to his brain: ``It's my second-favorite organ!'' Horridge describes the basic experiment he performed with both cockroaches and locusts:

   If a headless insect having only one remaining leg is placed in such a position that it receives an electrical stimulus at 1 per sec. to the tarsus during the time that the tarsus remains below a previously set level, it will repeatedly lower the leg to the point where a shock is received and then withdraw. However, after repeated shocks over a period of 15-20 min. the behaviour changes. The leg is progressively held up for relatively longer periods, fewer shocks are received .... Of 200 animals so tested in groups of 20, about 70 per cent behave in this way, 10-20 per cent hold up their leg for a period of up to 5 min. after receiving even one or two shocks, and 15-25 per cent behave unsatisfactorily and may never change their behaviour in such a way that fewer shocks are received.
(Funny way the rounding works out. Even with three assistants, that's a lot of experimental animals. I guess lawyers were not so abundant in those days.)

In principle, of course, the behavior modification might be the result of shock-induced damage or some such effect other than adaptive learning. To rule out this possibility, Horridge performed an experiment using what are now called ``yoked controls.'' Forty decapitated one-legged cockroaches were wired up in pairs so that when one of the animals (the trainee) lowered its leg, both it and the yoked animal received a shock. After 30-45 minutes of training and 10 minutes of rest, the animals were separately tested to determine shock avoidance. The trainees dramatically outperformed the yoked controls.

Also very impressive: Horridge demonstrated a sort of cross-training effect. (He didn't use that term, but even as of 2003 the term hadn't appeared in an OED Supplement.) The cross-training used forty decapitated cockroaches with two legs each: one prothoracic leg and the metathoracic leg on the opposite side. Training shocks (or just shocks, for the yoked animals) were applied to the prothoracic leg, but post-training tests were performed on the metathoracic leg. The results were still significant by rank-order test, but only at the 5% level.

If you're interested in this stuff, you should probably have a look at the rattle entry, since some day I may put something useful there besides an explanation of terminology used in this entry. Eventually, I also plan to explain BBL. Right now, in fact.

It turns out that I could have forgone the foregoing. I only performed that long song-and-dance above to suggest the existence of some significant kind of learning that does not involve the brain, which would make ``brain-based learning'' (BBL, remember?) something other than the psychobabble pleonasm it appears to be. It turns out, however, that BBL implicitly ignores that possibility. ``Brain-based learning'' is merely a poorly conceived way of saying ``teaching based on brain research.'' The term implies a claim; it could give a new meaning to the term ``dream research.'' Teasing apart actual usage, the term names two things:

  1. An approach to teaching which is putatively derived from
  2. a theory of learning which is putatively derived from research on the brain.

Less often, it's called ``brain-compatible learning'' (BCL). By any name, it's still ed research. In principle, this may not be certain proof that it's pure horseshit. This article suggests how rudimentary and uncertain is our knowledge of the brain, and how unreliable that knowledge is as any kind of guide to teaching. That is rather beside the point, however, because BBL is not based on detailed scientific findings, but on fuzzy generalities. This particular brand of snake oil was first marketed by Leslie Hart, in Human Brain and Human Learning (1983). Renate Nummela Caine and Geoffrey Caine franchised the idea with Making Connections: Teaching and the Human Brain (1991), Unleashing the Power of Perceptual Change: The Potential of Brain-Based Teaching (1997), Education on the Edge of Possibility (1997), and The Brain, Education, and the Competitive Edge (2001). Making Connections introduced ``Twelve Brain/Mind Learning Principles.'' (The use of solidus within ordinary English text is not a propitious sign.) As this sympathetic page declares, they ``are not based solely on the findings of neuroscience. Instead, these principles and the ideas generated from them come from a wide range of additional disciplines, including cognitive psychology, sociology, philosophy, education, technology, sports psychology, creativity research, and physics.'' Sure. Interesting mix there. Rather more goats than sheep.

A more recent classic of this depressingly tenacious genre is How the Brain Learns by David A. Sousa. Sousa is one of the bright lights of this dim field, thanked in the forewords of others' books. How was rated a cumulative 19 stars out of 20 by the four reviewers who had commented at Amazon when I visited. This gives you a pretty clear idea of the kind of person who would buy and read a book like this. (High school principals, gym teachers, and their ilk.) It's not actually a book. It looks more like a bunch of power-point slides with a relaxed attitude to grammar, semantics, usage, and logic. God   help   your   children.

I just realized that I had already mentioned the praying mantis thing in the argonaut entry! Sorry.

Brown Bag Lunch. An informal seminar. Catered on a BYOL basis.

BBM Bureau of Measurement. Broadcast audience rating service for Canada since 1944. The name is now expanded like a XARA, as above, but it is etymologically an AAP pleonasm: when created on May 11, 1944, it was named the ``Bureau of Broadcast Measurement.'' Conceived in 1942, it was formed by the CAB and the ACA. (Look'em up if you wanna know!)

Brotherhood of Blessed Michael. ``[A] religious community of men living together under a monastic rule.'' One of the two religious communities (the other is the Servants of the Good Shepherd, ``a voluntary association of worker priests and clergy'') that function within the Western Orthodox Church in America.

Big-Bang Nucleosynthesis.

Bloomberg Business News.

Bolt Beranek and Newman. An engineering company that was in charge of the network layer for the original ARPANET.

9-BoraBicycloNonane. Also ``9-BBN'' and more precisely 9-borabicyclo[3.3.1]nonane. It's ``bora-'' and not ``boro-'' because the functional group is related to borane (BH3).

It's made by reacting cycloocta-1,5-diene with borane or diborane (B2H6). The double bonds break to single bonds, and a BH group ends up bonded to carbon 1 or 2, and also to 5 or 6, of the cyclooctane structure. In other words, you get a bicyclic structure that is asymmetric (five- and seven-member rings) or symmetric (six-membered rings). Note, in other words, that ``bicyclononane'' is not a bi(cyclononane) -- it doesn't have two occurrences of nonane. Instead, it's a single nonane with a substituted boron (actually n-cyclooctane with a single-boron bridge somewhere across the middle) that can be thought of in the usual way as bicyclic. The two rings share a common -CH-BH-CH-.

With a bit of heat, the symmetric structure (the standard BBN) is thermodynamically favored and produced in high yield. See JACS, vol. B90, p. 5280 (1968) for details of the synthesis.

BBN is a popular hydroborating agent for organic synthesis. Unlike borane, BBN is stable in air. Also, whereas borane reacts with most double bonds, BBN's steric constraints make it highly selective, reacting preferentially with the most exposed and accessible double bonds (preferring, in particular cis- to trans-configured bonds).

Borophenyl-9-Borabicyclo[3.3.1]Nonane. See JACS, vol. B91, p. 4304 (1969) for the synthesis.

Bye-Bye, Now! (Prob'ly BBL, anyway.)

BaB2O4. Beta Barium Borate, a nonlinear-optical crystal.

Billion (109) Barrels of Oil (i.e., petroleum).

As of 2005, the US consumes about 7 BBO annually. Of this, about 3 BBO is produced domestically, 0.9 comes from the Persian Gulf, 0.6 each from Canada and Mexico, and the remainder from Venezuela and a dozen smaller suppliers.

Oil represents 40% of US energy supplies, used primarily for transport -- cars, trucks, and aircraft. Since the oil crunch of 1979-1985, US utilities have shifted steadily away from petroleum, and in 2005 it supplies 3% of electric power.

BBS, bbs
Be Back Soon. Chat and IM abbreviation.

That's okay, don't hurry. No need to put yourself out! Staaaay awaaay!

Bulletin Board { Service | Software | System }.


B&B Smith, Booksellers
A specialty bookshop trading primarily in new and used books on archaeology and classical studies. Excellent prices. For more on classics books, see this list. In general, see our Book Stores entry.

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. One of the UK's seven research councils. The research councils report to the Office of Science and Technology within the Department of Trade and Industry.

Basal Body Temperature.

Broadband Technology.

British Blood Transfusion Society. Transfusing British blood since, uh, let's see... oh: ``A membership organisation working to enhance Blood Transfusion Expertise since 1983.''

British Baton Twirling Sports Association. (Here's an alternate, .com-domain URL.) Founded in 1971 as the British Majorette Association. This is one of the two major twirling associations in the UK, the other being NBTA England. It is possible to participate in the competitions of either or both, as well as gawd knows how many others. You could do so much twirling that you'd spend the rest of the year unwinding. An important difference in approach between BBTSA and NBTA England is that the NBTA allows specialization in competition, but the BBTSA apparently requires competitors to develop all skills -- do a twirling decathlon, so to speak. That is my understanding from this page, which has some information about BBTSA and some other twirling organizations. For our list of twirling organizations, see the majorette entry.

Big Beautiful Wom{a|e}n. An inspired euphemism. (It's not a euphemism! And if you say that again I'm going to sit on you!) So the question arises, what might have inspired it?

B'nai B'rith Women. Could be confused with -- um, oh, nothing. Forgot what I was thinking. Now officially JWI. Good move!

There might be a bit more to this move than initialism repulsion. BBW began as a women's auxiliary of the B'nai B'rith in 1897. The auxiliary chapters were largely shut out of participation in B'nai B'rith governance, so they developed their own, and ran the auxiliaries essentially independently and with their own budgets. In 1940 the auxiliaries created a national headquarters and Supreme Council. Hence, B'nai B'rith Women (technically, the name was only adopted in 1957, though it was the title of the inchoate organization's monthly magazine by WWII) became a parallel international organization affiliated with B'nai B'rith.

The precise terms of that affiliation were in some dispute by the late 1980's. In 1988, BBI overwhelmingly passed a resolution admitting women. At the same time, BBW passed a resolution to remain distinct. Finally in 1995 BBW declared its independence and changed its name to Jewish Women International.

Broad-Breasted White turkey. As opposed to BBB. Narrow-breasted doesn't seem to be an option. Sure, all broads have breasts, but....

BaseBall Writers' Association of America. They award the MVP each year to the major-league baseball player with the best steroids.

B'nai B'rith Youth Organization. Could be confused with BYOB.

Bis-BenZimidazole perylene. Also BBIP. An excellent near-IR sensor.

Bye-Bye For Now! Long-winded version of B4N. (BBL, I guess.)

Backup College. The usual term is ``safety school,'' but this term is used to pun on Boston College (known as BC).



B Compiler. A program that processed a B-language program and produced a file in an intermediate language, for processing by ba. The past tense is apprpriate here. See the a.out entry for the entire parade.

Beam Coupling.

BeCause. I've actually seen this abbreviation used. I'm at a loss for words.

BC, B.C.
Before Christ. (Vide BCE.)

This came up as a topic on the classics list, in the archives of which you can discover the answers, under the obvious rubrics.

Before Computers.

Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Co. Inc. has been part of Addison-Wesley for decades.

Boston College.

B.C., BC
Boundary Coundition.

You think I'm going to explain that? There are whole books to explain that.

Guicciardini's ricordo C138 reads, in Domandi's translation,

Neither fools nor wise men can ultimately resist what must be. Hence, I have never read anything that I thought better said than: Ducunt volentes fata, nolentes trahunt.

(The Latin may be rendered ``Fate leads the willing, drags the unwilling.')

Postal abbreviation for the Canadian (.ca) province of British Columbia. Capital: Victoria. Unofficial nickname: Lotusland.

British Council.

[dive flag]

Buoyancy Compensat{or|ion}. Vide BCD below.

Bc, Bc
Committed Burst size.

Bird Conservation Alliance. They dig feathered dinosaurs. Archaeologists dig extinct dinosaurs.

No, that's not very amusing or precise. Please be patient. Humor is like constipation: it can cause painful delays, and straining hurts. ``Leave 'em laughing when you go,'' they say. Let's not think about that. At least we didn't perpetrate a pun on human ``chicks.''

``The Bird Conservation Alliance is a network of organizations whose focus is the conservation, study, and observation of birds. Through the Alliance, millions of birdwatchers and concerned citizens are united with conservation professionals, scientists, and educators for the conservation of wild birds.'' (I've noticed elsewhere that ``educator'' is a catch-all term now stretched to include people with no particularly relevant training or credential. I guess ``activist'' has worn out any connotational welcome it may once have had. A political organizer engages in education, you know. When you consider what goes on and doesn't go on in the schools, it's a sad comparison all around.)

I dunno, the humor crank seems balky this morning.

British Colostomy Association. ``The British Colostomy Association is the national registered charity which represents the interests of people with a colostomy and which provides support, reassurance and practical information to ostomates and anyone who is about to have a colostomy.''

Buddhist Churches of America. Temples... whatever.

British Columbia Automobile Association.

(Notre Dame) Black Cultural Arts Council.

Bulletin critique des Annales islamologiques. A publication of IFAO. Sometimes Bulletin critique for short. Annales Islamologiques (AnIsl) is a separate publication of the IFAO.

Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Inc. Established Jan. 21, 1970.

BromoChloroAcetoNitrile. Other haloacetonitriles popular in water treatment are CAN, DBAN, DCAN, and TCAN.

British Columbia Association of People who Stutter. ``Speaking out for people who stutter.''

No wait -- don't tell me: ``people who stutter'' is respectful and recognizes the personhood of people who stutter, whereas ``stutterers'' is essentializing, derogatory, and offensive. (And somewhat onomatopoeic.) When all the professional offense-takers are done with the language, it'll be three times wordier and more opaque. It'll take longer to speak that speak than to stutter the language as it is now.

It's been almost seventy years, so I guess the story can be told. When my dad was a young man, the family was still in contact with relatives in Alsace-Lorraine. It was the run-up to WWII, and a lot of these relatives realized they were in a bad place and needed to get out. Of course, it was the middle of a world-wide depression and immigration visas were scarce. Many countries that were willing to take immigrants would only accept them to fill perceived labor or skill shortages. So a rich cousin of ours bought a farm and brought over a number of the mishpoche on the pretext that they were trained agronomists or something. My dad was fluent in French, so he was employed to teach the newcomers the local langauge (Spanish). He had variable success with this, and apparently the government was in a hurry for the newcomers to demonstrate that they were Spanish-speaking. So one other thing that my dad taught was how to stutter. You can learn to stutter faster than you can learn any language. When you stutter it's hard for others to tell that you can't speak the language because you don't know it well, rather than because you can't get it out. And people complete your sentences for you with the answers they want, as for example on naturalization papers.

More on stuttering and the New World emigration at the Abend entry.

Beacon (aircraft-) Collision Avoidance System.

BenzoCycloButene. An organic molecular solid used for microelectronic insulation. Specifically, as an ILD with k below 3. PAE has also been considered; I should find out whether it is or has been used.

Bush-Cheney Bomb & Bankrupt Cheap-Labor-Conservative Resistance Movement. A character string introduced by Warren Gammel in a November 1, 2003, guest editorial at mikehersh.com.

Broadband Connectionless Data Bearer Service. Maybe I have the letters a bit scrambled. Maybe I'm not the only one.

Blind Carbon Copy, or Blind Cc. A Cc: not explicitly indicated on the copied document (or the document copied).

The Bcc: field in email is an optional header that functions like the Cc: field -- it instructs the MTA to send a copy of the message to any addresses listed after the field name. It differs from the Cc: header in that the Bcc: line does not appear in the email received.

Body-Centered Cubic (crystal lattice).

British Council of Churches.

Buried-channel CCD. All commercially available CCD's are BCCD's. The channel is the semiconductor electrode of a MOS-C, and it is ``buried'' by a combination of doping and applied voltage.

Board of Control for Cricket in India. The governing body for professional cricket in India, and a full member of the ICC, q.v.

Bergen County (New Jersey) Community Library System. Pronounced ``buckles.''

Binary-Coded Decimal. Numbers encoded or represented as a sequence decimal digits, with the individual digits stored in binary representation. If you ignore the higher-order byte, EBCDIC and ASCII both implement BCD. In ASCII, 0-9 are encoded as hexadecimal 30 to 39. Vide Packed BCD.

Board-Certified Diplomate. As in Board-Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (CSW). [See SW entry for related entries.]

[dive flag]

Buoyancy Control Device. Also `bouyancy compensators' (BC's). What tech divers use the way fish use air bladders. This is the most informative page on BC's I've seen on the web.

Broadband Connectionless Data Bearer Service.

The similar-sounding initialism ``BCBDS'' seems to be widely used as an equivalent of BCDBS.

On January 4, 2004, I googled around trying to figure out what was going on. Here are the hit counts I got with various searches:

The words in the expansion: 3220
The expansion: 193
"BCBDS": 95
"BCDBS": 108
"BCBDS" and the expansion (as phrase): 56
"BCBDS" and the expansion words: 56
"BCBDS" and "Broadband" and "Service": 57
"BCDBS" and the expansion (as phrase): 51
"BCBDS" and the expansion words: 81
"BCDBS" and the expansion words: 83
"BCDBS" and "BCBDS" and the expansion: 39
"BCDBS" and "BCBDS" and "VERA" and the expansion: 36
("BCDBS" or "BCBDS") and "bearer of data": 0

Banco Central Europeo. Spanish for `European Central Bank' (ECB).

Before the Common Era. Less religiously provocative than ``Before Christ'' (BC). Also expanded ``Before the Common Error.''

Bulletin de la céramique égyptienne. A publication of IFAO.


Bulletin canadienne des études classiques. `Canadian Classical Bulletin.' See CCB/BCEA. A publication of CAC/SCEC.

BCF, Bcf
Billion Cubic Feet. A convenient unit for national natural gas production. ``Billion'' in the American sense: thousand million (explanation at billion).

Broadcast Cable Financial Management Association. The BCFM Annual Conference is in May.

Bacillus Calmette-Guérin. An attenuated Mycobacterium tuberculosis bovis vaccine for (human) TB. It's also now used in cancer chemotherapy. In the olden days of yore, BCG stood for bacille Calmette-Guérin, like it was French or something.

Binary Computer-Generated Hologram. Vide A. W. Lohmann and D. P. Paris, ``Binary Frauenhofer holograms, generated by computer,'' Applied Optics 6, pp. 1739-1748 (1967).

Bose-Chaudhuri-Hocquenghem. A forward error correction technique with low overhead.

Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica. `Central American Bank for Economic Integration' (CABEI).

As of March 2005, it has only five regional member states (miembros regionales) (Belize, the former British Honduras, and Panama are the nonmember C.A. countries). In addition it has five miembros extraregionales: Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, the Republic of China, and Spain.

Wait a sec: Spain!? That's not just extraregional -- that's practically on the other side of the world!

Batch Command Language.

Brain-Compatible Learning. Most people who have anything to do with ``brain-compatible learning'' or ``brain-based learning'' regard the terms as closely equivalent. Googling in March 2004 suggests that the -based term is over four times as common. This is consistent with my own impression from limited conversations that the -based term is predominant. (I sure hope she doesn't discover this page!) Interestingly, however, pages with the -compatible term are almost seven times more likely to use ``BCL'' than pages with -based are to use the corresponding ``BBL.'' So in this context, BCL appears to be roughly 60% more common than BBL, even though its expansion is much less favored. The Ockhamite observes that a single theory can account for all quantitative trends: although both expanded names are pretty silly, ``brain-compatible learning'' is most silly, so the -based term is preferred. When the -compatible term is nevertheless used, embarrassment leads to its concealment in BCL.

British Comparative Literature Association.

Billion Cubic Meters. Why, why that's huge! It's the volume of a cube 0.6 miles on a side! (Cf. the Forbidden Planet machine mentioned at the anticline entry.) The BCM is a unit commonly used in describing natural-gas reserves and production. It might be used for other gas production, but the Congressional Quarterly is only published in solid form. (Technically, the solid state is a ``condensed'' form of matter, but this appears to be an exception.)

Bit Compression Multiplexer.

Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology. The name of a department at Harvard Med School, and presumably elsewhere as well, but the acronym ... it's so euphonious that it really ought to stand for something more common.

Butler County Motorsports Park. A member of Dirt Tracks of America. No, this isn't what I had in mind either.

A C-language routine that compares two byte strings and returns false if they're equal and true otherwise. Except that C doesn't have a logical variable type, so bcmp is an int-valued function that returns a nonzero value or 0. In the local implementation, the nonzero value was 1.

No, that isn't it either. This is really beginning to bother me. Maybe they did away with it. In ANSI C, they dropped bcmp for memcmp().

BCMP Theorem
A THEOREM of Baskett, Chandy, Muntz and Palacios, 1975. Something important to do with computer performance.

Rebus for ``Be seein' you.'' Cf. CU. Also the name of a quite toxic cancer drug, so it's dark humor.

Broadband Class Of Bearer.

Block CoPolymer.


Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc. Strong in Latin and Greek materials.


Bristol Classical { Press | Paperbacks }. Previously with Focus Publishing, now part of Duckworth Publishers.

Broadband Customer-Premises Equipment

Baltimore County Public Library.

Basic CPL. Now of interest mainly as a precursor of the programming language C (the history is outlined at the Algol entry). BCPL was designed in 1966 by Martin Richards and implemented for the first time at MIT in the Spring of 1967. Like its antecendent Algol, BCPL was one of the earliest languages with support for structured programming. This is still a bit surprising, however, as BCPL was a rather lower-level language, a grunt or two above assembler. It was even ``typeless'' -- the only data type was the machine word.

Even more surprising, perhaps, is that you can download a machine-independent interpreted version of BCPL, implemented in C, made available by Richard Martin in 2000. He published an article in the December 2011 Computer Journal (``How BCPL Evolved from CPL''). The article abstract ends ``surprisingly, the language is still used commercially and by individuals all over the world.''

A copy of the BCPL manual from July 1967 (which also constituted the language definition) is available on-line (different typescript with almost identical content here). The abstract:

BCPL is a simple recursive programming language designed for compiler writing and system programming: it was derived from true CPL (Combined Programming Language) by removing those features of the full language which make compilation difficult namely, the type and mode matching rules and the variety of definition structures with their associated scope rules.

From Section 4.2, on string constants:

     The string character alphabet contains all the
characters except * and ' are represented directly. These two
exceptions are represented by

     **  and *' respectively.
In addition
     *n represents    newline
     *s     "         space
     *b     "         backspace
     *t     "         tab

It's interesting that nested blocks in BCPL (called sections), opened with multiple $( (called SECTBRA) tokens, could be closed by a single SECTKET $). This doesn't seem like a convenience to me. In later versions, the {,} tokens were adopted, and curly brackets have been the standard code-block tokens ever since. A little bit about the history of comment styles in BCPL and its successors B, C, C++, and C# can be found at the B entry.

Michael Neumann's extensive list of sample short programs in different programming languages includes a Hello World program in BCPL.

Bibliographic Center for Research.

Bulletin de la Commission royale des Anciennes Lois et Ordonnances de Belgique / Handelingen van de Commissie voor de uitgave der Oude Wetten en Verordeningen.

Bridge Clube do Rio de Janeiro. Founded in 1955.

Bandwidth Conservation Society.

Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer theory of superconductivity. [Presented in Phys. Rev. 106, 162 (1957) and 108, 1175 (1957).] Cf. Cooper pairs, Fröhlich polaron, polaron, London Penetration Depth, Pippard Coherence length, Meissner effect, strong-coupling superconductors, Josephson junctions.

The Net Advance of Physics site has one (as of 95/08) paper directly on the theory.


Bibliotheca Classica Selecta. ``Une introduction bibliographique aux études classiques.''

Boston Computer Society.

[Football icon]

Bowl Championship Series. An agreement among the most prominent US college football bowls (that ones that host post-season Division I-A contests), on how to allocate bowl invitations. One of the goals of the agreement is to make it possible, sometimes, sort of, to determine a ``national champion'' in the absence of a play-off series.

In 2005, for only the first time since 2003, Congress looked into the fairness of the BCS. Finally our legislators were getting off their duffs and getting to work on pressing issues! ``College football is not just an exhilarating sport, but a billion-dollar business that Congress cannot ignore,'' said Joe Barton (R-TX), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee. Barton feared that the method for determining who's number 1 was flawed. Coincidentally, the Texas Longhorns were ranked #2 (behind USC) in most polls for virtually all of the 2005 season. (They were #1 in the BCS rankings for week 9, the second week that BCS rankings were available, due to higher computer ranking. In 2005, the score that determined BCS rankings was a simple average of the Harris Interactive poll, the USA Today Coaches poll, and a strange number called the Computer poll.) Barton represents Texas legislative district #6, which is nowhere near the Longhorns' Austin home, and he's an Aggie, so obviously the hearings represent his disinterested concern, and not demagogic pandering or Texas pique.

People complain about unfairness as if fairness were possible. The BCS is just a prominent example of the failure of the assumption.

British Computer Society.

Business Communication System[s].

Business Council for Sustainable Development. Cf. CSD.

[Football icon]

Bowl Championship Series National Championship [game].

BiCMOS Bus-Interface Technology. You sort it out. This page from TI.

Big Close-Up. Movie slang for a screen-filling facial close-up.

British Columbia Veterinary Medical Association. See also the relevant CVMA.

BroadCast WorldWide. An international exhibition and conference. In 2008 it was held in Seoul, September 3-5.

Bande Dessinée. French for `comic strip,' also used more loosely for comic books.

(Domain code for) Bangladesh. Old Eastern Pakistan. Occupies the delta of the Bengal river, which floods during the monsoon to cause the annual national disaster, whose effects linger at least a year. bangla.net, run by Information Services Network, Ltd., claims to be the first online ISP in Bangladesh, not the only.

George Harrison had a song called Bangladesh, and he made four syllables out of the name (BANG-uh-luh-DESH). What more do you need to know?

Base de données. French for `database.'

Beloved Disciple. Not a general term but a specific person, mentioned in the Gospel of John, first at Jn 13:23-25.

Cf. B.D.

Black & Decker. A manufacturer of power tools for the home craftsman. A surprising number of gentlemen and ladies express an interest in ``B&D'' in personals advertisements. They must be real homebodies who enjoy making furniture. Yeah, that's it. And leatherwork. Cf. S&M.

[Football icon]

B.D., BD
A regular character in the Doonesbury comic strip, represented wearing a (North American) football helmet at all (generally inappropriate) times. Gary Trudeau started drawing Doonesbury for the Yale Daily News in 1968, when one Brian Dowling was quarterback for Yale.

Cf. BD

Bronze Disease, q.v.

Bomb-Damage Assessment.

British Deaf Association.

British Dietetic Association. The UK ICDA member.

Big Dumb Booster. Talkin' rockets here, not hometown football fanatics with too much money.

Backup Domain Controller. Used in NTFS for Windows NT.

BDC, bdc, b.d.c.
Bottom Dead Center. The moment or position of a reciprocating engine piston when the piston is furthest out of the cylinder (although it may not be ``out'' to any extent at all). Half a cycle, or 180 degrees, away from TDC. BDC is used as a reference position, with angles described as before or after BDC (bBDC or aBDC), but timing is more critical for events occurring around TDC, and TDC is the more commonly used reference.

Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group. With John Grisham and Danielle Steele, you think they care about your miserable manuscript? You can have a $1 advance, they need to line the birdcage.

Binary Decision Diagram. See Sheldon B. Akers: ``Binary Decision Diagrams,'' in IEEE Transactions on Computers, 27 (#6), pp. 509-516 (June 1978).

BDD's are one tool to analyze fault trees. See R. Sinnamon and J. Andreas: ``Fault Tree Analysis and Binary Decision Diagrams,'' Proceedings of the Reliability and Maintainability Symposium, pp. 215-222 (January 1996).

Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Morbid obsession with a perceived flaw in one's appearance. I suppose if the wicked queen suffered from BDD, then Cinderella was the flaw in her appearance. Or was that Snow White? I always get those two confused.

Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Short for the former NCEH division and probably still used to refer to the successor organization, the NCBDDD.

Bibliothèque d'étude. (The study, specifically, of ancient Egypt up to about the Hellenistic period.) A publication of IFAO.

According to Dioscorides and Pliny it's the word for a plant and the fragrant gum exuded by it. It's also mentioned in the Old Testament. As is typical with such names, it's now unclear precisely what plants were originally referred to. In modern times the name has been given to several trees and shrubs of the family Amyridaceae, primarily of the genus Balsamodendron. These exude a gum resin resembling impure myrrh, having a pungent taste and pleasant odor. It's one of many herbs found in the Scrabble tablelands.

(Adobe Glyph) Bitmap Distribution Format.

Block Data Format.

Butyl DiGLyme.

Beck Depression Inventory.

Bean Developers Kit. Think Java, as in coffee beans.

Blätter für deutsche Landesgeschichte. German journal, something like `Journal for the history of German Land.' See Stuart Jenks's page of Tables of Contents of Historical Journals and Monographic Series in German for a link to a partial listing of contents (deutsche Seite: Zeitschriftenfreihandmagazin Inhaltsverzeichnisse geschichtswissenschaftlicher Zeitschriften in deutscher Sprache).

Building, Design and Management.

Bund Deutscher Mädchen. [`Union of German Girls.'] Nazi Girl Scouts. Mädchen is a cognate of the English word maiden, and -chen is a diminutive ending, so there is some justification for translating the BDM expansion as `union of little German maidens.' I happen to like etymological translations, but I have to admit that maidens is not the common and unmarked word it once was in English, even as recently as the time of Gilbert and Sullivan. Moreover, to a German-speaker, Mädchen is no more likely to evoke the associations of the English word maiden than is, to an English-speaker, ``scullery maid'' likely to evoke the associations of virgin. Cf. JM.

Branched DNA (-signal amplification assay). The bDNA test made by Chiron is used to measure viral load in blood plasma (``viral titer'').

Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor.

Basic Delivery Order.

Battle-Dress Overgarment.

Bangladesh Rifles. Metonym for a paramilitary unit of the Bangladeshi border forces. They made international news on February 25, 2009, when they staged a mutiny against their army officers.

Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions. Not boycotts, divestments, and sanctions in general, but the name of an anti-Israel movement.

Bush Derangement Syndrome. A syndrome caused by hatred of George W. Bush, and characterized by a (further, in the view of some) diminished ability to think rationally. The term was coined by Charles Krauthammer, who was a practicing psychiatrist before he became a political commentator, who defined it formally as ``the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency--nay--the very existence of George W. Bush.'' Many people think that the definition is a joke, and in principle they might be right.

The problem I have with the original definition is that those who are not ``otherwise normal'' get a free pass, but by now that definition has faded into obscurity. Many other ``derangement syndromes'' were suggested, but they have fallen out of fashion since the end of Bush administration. The initialism is also less common now, but for those who regard BDS as a real phenomenon, that has the virtue of tying together an affliction with an identically-labeled enthusiasm that is correlated with it (this other BDS, supra).

British Double Summer Time. The name for Double Daylight Saving Time (more at the link) when it was used by the UK suring WWII.

In the 1953 movie ``The Titfield Thunderbolt,'' there's a scene in a pub where Mrs. Valentine (so IMDb) asks her husband ``Do you know what time it is?'' He replies ``Yes, my love: summer double time.''

British Dependent Territories Citizen. Designates holder of a second-class citizen passport. More clarifications in this glossary.

Berkeley Design Technology, Inc. Does DSP stuff.

Battle Dress Uniform. Camouflage gear. Comes with reinforced elbows standard, just like standard-issue phlegmatic professor cardigans (PPC's).

Infinitive form of the copula.


BEryllium. Atomic number 4. First found in the mineral beryl (big surprise there), of which aquamarine and emerald are precious forms. The metal and many of its compounds are sweet, but take our word for it, because they're also quite poisonous. It stands to reason, doesn't it? Things that taste good or sweet are bad for you, and so it is with the elemental sweet stuff, also named glucinum or glucinium from the same Greek root glykys as glucose. (Hence its original element symbol Gl, mentioned at the entry on the chemical notation of Berzelius.) The element is also bad to breathe (causes berylliosis, a chronic lung disease).

Another sweet thing that is bad for you is lead acetate, once also known as ``sugar of lead.'' (Just say ``no thanks, I'd rather have some cyclamate.'') The Romans used it as an artificial sweetener (and as a whitener in face creams, too!). It's hard to tell at this remove just how much lead poisoning it caused. Other associations of sweetness and bad health: schizophrenics and diabetics often smell sweet, though ironically, schizophrenics may have delusions that they are giving off noxious fumes. Okay, I agree: it might not be delusional.

Beryllium is the p-dopant of choice for GaAs semiconductor. Arsenic (As) ain't any too good for you either. Chemicals! Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em! No wonder so many personals ads mention ``chemistry.''

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

Be is the lightest alkaline earth element, if it's considered an alkaline earth element at all.

[column] One of the weirder Latin words is zmaragdum for `emerald.' It occurs in Petronius. Don't believe me? Look here.

Barium Enema. This is some heavy shit, man.


(Domain name extension for) Belgium. The Germanic North (currently sort of excluding the capital Brussels) is called Flanders, where Flemings speak Flemish. The principal difference between Flemish and Dutch is that Flemish is spoken in Belgium and Dutch is spoken in Holland (.nl). I like this, so don't correct me unless it's really very wrong. In the southern half, called Wallonia, the Walloons, anciently a Celtic people, speak Welsh. Make that French. Anyway, this language differs from the language spoken in neighboring France principally in the fact that it's spoken by Belgians instead of Frenchmen. Thus we see that in its own way, Belgium does seem to have a kind of thematic unity. Brussels was chosen to be the capital of the European Union (EU) principally for ironic effect. (Actually, the country also has a linguistic minority of German-speakers.)

Belgium is also known for unusual vegetables (Belgian endive and Brussels sprouts).

If you have time to kill, you could visit the dialect entry now.

Also in 1996, the Belgian government pioneered a new public relations technique for getting scandals of government officials involved in corruption off the front pages: trump them with scandals of government officials involved in child sexual molestation and murder! A front page can only hold so much.

On February 17, 2010, Belgians celebrated their 249th day without a government, breaking a record set the previous November by Iraq. A caretaker government under PM Yves Leterme had been running Belgium since elections on June 13, 2010. However, there was some uncertainty or disagreement about the international no-government record. Therefore, to secure the record, the Belgians held off on a new government until December 2011.

Rec.Travel offers some links.

You observe that ``Flanders'' is not exactly the same as the region traditionally identified as Vlaanderen. You want to nitpick, go argue with this map.

Ariadne, ``The European and Mediterranean link resource for Research, Science and Culture,'' has a page of national links.

I should point out that that Welsh/Walloon joke is made possible by a common Germanic root *walh, meaning `foreign' (effectively `Celt-or-Roman'). The root occurs in the word walnut, probably of Low-German origin, which refers to the nut found in Gaul and Italy (as opposed to the hazelnut found in German areas). The root appears in the word Walloon, used by speakers of Old Low Franconian or Old Dutch (another Low-German language) in northeastern Gaul to describe their Celtic (Gaulish) neighbors. In Britain, the Low-German languages also preserved a reflex of *walh. (What we know best is West Saxon, which became normative in writing and is our idea of ``Old English.'' In this Old English, wealh meant `foreign.') Speakers of Celtic anywhere in Britain were called by the words that evolved into Welsh and Welshman. (This included, for example, an enclave in Strathclyde that persisted well into the Middle Ages.) Eventually, the term became specialized to Celtic speakers in the Western enclave that came to be called Wales.

This etymology has a certain bitter irony for the Welsh, as the Germans were -- from a territorial perspective -- the original foreigners who usurped their hosts. That's ``original'' only so far back as we can tell, of course, but at least it can be said that inhabitants of the area (the ``Britons'' in the original sense of that word) spoke Indo-European languages of the Celtic subfamily before local inhabitants spoke IE languages of the Germanic family.) The critical fact is that, as the Roman empire collapsed in the mid- to late fifth century, it became unable to protect its periphery. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles (written some centuries afterwards) the Romanized Celts in present-day southern England hired Germanic what-you-might-call Gastarbeiter to protect them from their own marauding (Celtic) kin to the North; the Germanic mercenaries found easy pickin's and ended up taking over. The situation bears some similarities to the situation simultaneously playing out in southern Europe, where Roman emperors tried to enlist Germanic tribes en masse to protect the Empire. The names Cornwall, Walsh, and Wallace (and Wallis, I suppose) stem from the same root, adding further color to the story of Edward VIII, erstwhile Prince of Wales (who gave up his throne to marry Wallis Simpson). The dignity of ``Prince of Wales'' is a story in itself, but it is a relative recent invention (1348). The coat of arms of the Prince of Wales bears the motto Ich dien. `I serve' in Modern German is ich diene; dropping the final e is colloquial throughout Germany, and standard in some local varieties. One of the more amusing (and probably proportionately less plausible) stories about the origin has it that King Edward had promised the Welsh a prince who could speak not a word of English. When the prince was born, his father held him up and said, in Welsh: ``eich dyn'' (`your man').

There was an Old Norse reflex of the *walh: valir, meaning `Gauls, Frenchmen.' The Germanic word was adopted in Slavic languages and used to describe Latin- or Romance-speaking groups in south-eastern Europe, whose precise ethnicity continues to be in dispute (typical situation in the Balkans). It is well not to rely too much on etymology for information on a named group's origins. A famous cautionary example is Gypsy, a name applied on the misunderstanding that Gypsies were from Egypt.

Many years ago the TV show ``60 Minutes'' followed a group of tourists on a package tour of Europe. This led to a movie, a 1969 comedy about Americans on a bus tour of Europe, called If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium. (It was rehashed as an inferior TV movie in 1987. The title If It's Tuesday, It Still Must Be Belgium gives you an idea of how much thought and originality went into that.)

In Fielding's Guide to Europe (Sloane, 1963), Henry Fielding wrote

As a member of an escorted tour, you don't even have to know the Matterhorn isn't a tuba.

(It's an Alp, if Alps has a singular, and it's not in Belgium.) Oh wait -- the Fielding's Guides were by Temple Fielding, not Henry. Too bad.

On Christmas Eve 2002, Scott Peterson of Modesto, California, reported the disappearance of his pregnant wife Laci Peterson. Over the next month, rumors began to circulate that he had been involved in an affair. On January 24, at a hastily arranged press conference, a woman named Amber Frey announced that she had met him the previous November 20, and that they began an affair after Scott Peterson, ahem, made a false statement about his marital status. (This was made explicit. I'm slightly surprised that it came up explicitly in the circumstances. I mean, if a woman thinks a man might be cheating on his wife, what does she suppose the conditional odds are, of his reporting his marital status accurately? Maybe she asked if he was separated.) Amber Frey had approached Modesto police shortly after the disappearance became news, and subsequent phone conversations she had with him were recorded. In April, Laci's body and that of her fetus were found in the East Bay, and Scott Peterson was charged with their murder. At his trial in 2004, the recorded conversations with Frey were played back.

In those conversations, Peterson claimed he was in Brussels, Belgium, on a business trip. A wholesale fertilizer salesman, Peterson really laid it on thick, inventing an assortment of entertaining details to support and fill out the basic lie. Among other things, he commented that Europeans work ten hours a day.

Incidentally, if you are planning to travel internationally, you need to be aware that Scott's phone would have been no good in Belgium. More to the point, US and Canadian cell phones don't work with the cell system in most of the rest of the world, including Europe. Short-term cell-phone rentals are now widely available on a variety of plans. Check before you go: you can probably get a better deal than at your destination airport. If you're coming to the US from Europe, you may find it more difficult. I used to rent a cell phone at the car rental agency when I visited Los Angeles, but some time between August 2002 and September 2003, the company that used to provide that service through the car rental agencies got out of the business. If this weren't the Belgium entry I'd probably try to track down more of the details.

Postal code for Berlin, capital of Germany. In political geography Berlin is both a city (Stadt in German) and one of the sixteen states (Länder, plural of Land) of the German Federal Republic (FRG). [Like most countries' information in this glossary, Germany's is at its domain code .de.]

This is probably a good place to mention the special status of San Francisco. Many counties in the state of California share a name with a city they contain. (San Diego and Los Angeles Counties, for example, contain the cities of San Diego and Los Angeles, respectively. It would be more interesting the other way around.) The city of San Francisco, by contrast, is a county. Berlin's status reminded me of that. See the entry HB (for Bremen) for a situation similar to, and in some respects even more extreme than, that of Berlin.

Berlin was split into four sectors of occupation at the end of WWII, a sort of microcosm of Germany as a whole. Violating a previous agreement with the other Allies, the Soviets formed a separate government for their sector, ``East Berlin,'' on Nov. 30, 1948. (There was also a blockade of West Berlin at that time.) As the Soviets turned their zone of occupation into East Germany (the so-called Democratic Republic, GDR), East Berlin became its capital in 1949. West Berlin, formally under continued Allied control until 1990, became a showcase for the West and a major escape route for East Germans. One of the periodic revolts against the Soviet occupation of eastern Europe was a 1953 strike in East Berlin that was put down by Soviet military force on June 17. Hmmm -- 1953. Wasn't that the year Stalin died? A growing hemorrhage of population to the West via Berlin was eventually stanched by the East Germans (under Ulbricht) under the Soviets (under Khrushchev) with the building of the infamous Berlin Wall, starting August 13, 1961 (the border was sealed off on that day; a more permanent structure was erected subsequently). Hmmm -- August 1961... the Kennedy administration was about half a year old then. The Wall was accompanied by a blockade of West Berlin, met by a Western airlift (some relevant information at Evita entry). The destruction of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was the landmark event of the collapse of the Soviet empire. During the Cold War, West Germany's capital was Bonn; the Federal Republic moved its capital back to Berlin in 1999.

Berliners have a reputation within Germany for sophistication and rudeness, somewhat like the reputation of New Yorkers in the US and bonaerenses in Argentina. Back before Tokyo was capital of Japan, back when it was called Edo, the inhabitants of that city had a similar reputation among Japanese. The rudeness of Edo people, and their tricking of poor rubes from the sticks, are common themes in Kabuki characterization and plots. (For a related topic, see the Brooklyn Bridge entry.)

Berlin's total area now is 890.77 sq. km. The population of West Berlin in the 1987 national census was 2,013,000. The population of the united city on Dec. 31, 1997 was 3,425,759. This might be a good place to mention that demographers consider 1% accuracy excellent for large population surveys, and unattainable at the national level.

The ASCII map below was posted by Mark Brader in 1995 to the newsgroups rec.railroad (as it then was) and <misc.transport.urban-transit>. It's a scale diagram showing how the rapid transit system in Berlin was affected by the division of the city. The commuter/suburban services called the S-Bahn, not then numbered, fed onto three lines known as the Ringbahn, Stadtbahn (`city road'), and Nord-Süd Bahn (North-South [rail]road), labelled RB, SB, and NSB on the diagram. The Ringbahn, or as much of it as fits into an 80-column line, forms the boundary of the diagrammed area. Subway (U-Bahn) lines were lettered A to E. As the diagram shows, some routes were forked.

                            [D]      #
                ,-'    ,o---' `o     #      | `--,_
    RB     _,--*_     | NSB    \    ###     o      `o
     __,--'     C`o ##|#      ##|####      /         `-,_
_o--'        ######\# |#    ### o        A |             `,
           ###      `o\### ##   |          |               `o
           #          `*.###     \         |                 `,
           ##           \`-,      o        o                   `,
            ##           |  \NSB  |       /                      `,
             #           o   |     \     |                     RB  `,
           o-,_        C |   o      o    o                           `o
          /  ##`-,       |  /        \   |                             `,
  SB     /    ### `-,    | /   _,-o-, \  |[E]                            `-o
-o------'       ##   `---*'---'  SB  `-`-*--,_                             |
                ##      /|               |\\  `o-,_                         \
               ##,-o---' |               | \\       --o                      |
               #/ NSB    o               o  \\          ---___               |
               #|        |   ,o, A      /    o\_ SB           o---__o_  E    |
               #| _,-o---*--'   `--o___o'  ,'   `-_                   ---o-___*
               #*'       |                 o       --_                        |
               /#\#######|#########      _- D         `-o_                    |
            A /   `,     o        ####  /        ####     `-,_                |
     B        |    o     | C         ##/##  ######  #####     `--, [B]        /
`*----o-,    /    /      |            o  ####           #####    ,*--___SB   /
/ `-,_   `,_*,__x'       |            `-,                   ####/##     `---*
  A   `o,__/  ,/ `--o----*,____    B     `-,                o--'  ##       /
           ,-'/        _/      `--o---------*-----o--------'       #      /
         ,o  /        *                      \                  ####    ,'
   NSB ,'  o'        / \,_  C                |                ###      /
      /  ,'         |     `o-,___            o              ###       o
  _,-' _/ NSB       o            `--o_       |            ###     RB /
-'    /            /                  `---,_ |           ##         /
__   /             |                        `*_           ###      /
  \ /              o                         | \            ###   /
   *     RB        |                         |  `o            ###/
 _/ `---,__       /                          o    \            _/###
/          `-----*,___                       |     o          /    ###
              [C]     `-,                    o     |         /
                         `,                 [D]    | C      /
                           `,_    RB               |     __/

A * on the diagram indicates an interchange station; x shows that the lines cross without an interchange. Other stations are marked o, and letters in brackets (e.g., [C]) indicate line or branch termini of the corresponding lines.

The line of # signs snaking across the diagram is, of course, the the border between East and West Berlin -- formally, between the Soviet occupation zone and the jointly administered US-British-French zone. Note that it was crossed by 7 of the 8 railway lines just enumerated, in 11 places altogether: the Ringbahn, Nord-Süd-Bahn, and U-Bahn Lines C and D all crossed it twice, while the Stadtbahn and U-Bahn Lines A and B each crossed it once. Of course, the border actually formed a complete loop around West Berlin; this is just the city-center part of it.

When the border was closed and the Wall erected along it, only 4 of the 11 crossings were actually closed: those of Line A, Line B, and the Ringbahn. Line A and the Ringbahn were split into separate East and West Berlin routes, while the eastern end of Line B was simply closed, breaking the interchange with the Stadtbahn. The eastern end of the West Berlin part of Line A later closed due to lack of traffic in this form. Apparently, the West Berlin part of the Ringbahn also eventually closed. (This was presumably related to the fact that West Berliners were encouraged to boycott the S-Bahn, which was part of the East German railway system.)

On the other three lines crossing the border, almost all of the stations in East Berlin were closed. At these "ghost stations," the trains carrying West Berliners went through without stopping, like express trains.

At Friedrichstrasse station, however, a special arrangement was made. That station became a customs and immigration checkpoint. At an international airport today, you can often arrive from one foreign country, change planes, and depart for a third country without needing to clear customs. Similarly at Friedrichstrasse, people could arrive from West Berlin, change trains, and depart for West Berlin on another route (after patronizing the duty-free shops, if they wished). Apparently, passengers could change between not only Line C and the Nord-Süd-Bahn, but also the Stadtbahn through West Berlin; the latter line was split for S-Bahn purposes into East and West Berlin parts, not at the Wall, but at Friedrichstrasse. (Each of its branches reaching beyond West Berlin to the west was split again at the border.)

Apparently all of the U-Bahn routes through the city center are open again today. In this area, Lines A through E are now called Lines U2, U1, U6, U8, and U5, respectively; except that the eastern branch of Line C has been transferred to a separate line, U7.

We have another Berlin entry on this web page.

Biological Engineering. Also Biomedical Engineering. There're some learned societies: BMES and UK IPEMB. LookSmart has a small page of Biomedical Engingeering links that does not include the SBF glossary even though we had every intention of having some biomedical engineering entries.

Boltzmann Equation. Vide Boltzmann Transport Equation (BTE) and BGK equation.

Bose-Einstein. Characterizing the behavior of integer-spin particles -- bosons. Mostly in reference to Bose-Einstein statistics, which are described a little bit at the boson and job entries.

Bose-Einstein statistics were invented by Bose, who didn't understand ordinary classical statistics well enough to realize that he wasn't applying statistical principles in an orthodox way. (A full discussion of this point can probably be found in Bram Pais's Subtle Is the Lord : The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein. He described the events surrounding the introduction of Bose statistics at the Princeton Physics Dept. colloquium in 1979 or 1980.) Bose's paper was turned down by a British journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society, I think, and he sent the paper to Einstein asking if he would translate it and submit it to a German journal. Einstein refused to translate the next paper Bose sent him.

Bound Exciton. Typically an exciton bound to a point defect in the host semiconductor.

Business English. One kind of ESP. (No, not that kind of ESP.)

A computer company that is focusing on its BeOS product, as of summer 1997. ``The Be Operating System (BeOS(tm)) is a new software system designed for the media and communications-based applications of the next decade. While retaining compatibility with data and network standards in use today, the BeOS jettisons many of the assumptions inherent in older OS architectures to achieve a new level of performance and a significantly simplified programming model.''

BookExpo America. ``BookExpo America is the largest English language event for the business of books in all formats, serving worldwide book distribution and the exchange of rights.'' It was traditionally sponsored by the ABA, which now cosponsors it with the AAP.

Do not confuse this with CIROBE, or with open-air free-admission Chicago Book Fair on Printer's Row, held to coincide with the final two days of the BEA.

(US) Bureau of Economic Analysis. A Department of Commerce agency that collects, massages, and publishes national economic data.

Broadcast Educators Association of Canada.

Buffalo-area Engineering Awareness for Minorities, Inc. A consortium of Western New York (Erie and Niagara County) companies, precollege and college institutions, and local community organizations dedicated to increasing minority representation in engineering. Founded in 1982.

Building Engagement and Attainment of Minority Students. ``[A] 5-year initiative [apparently 2002-2006 or so] fostering ways in which Historically Black, Hispanic-serving, and Tribal colleges and universities can use NSSE data for institutional improvement.'' A partnership between AAHE and NSSE, with some money from ``Lumina Foundation for Education.'' What is that, a Chevrolet charity?

Nothing really, or rather too much, to say. Here's a site.

Remember, you can't spell beast without east. It's almost surprising that you can do it in French, but the French word for east is an old borrowing from English.

Bibliographic Enrichment Advisory Team of the Cataloging Directorate at the Library of Congress. BEAT ``is involved in a project to make the table of contents (TOC) for selected items available on the World Wide Web.

A respectable injury. Cf. bute.

Arnold Bennett, according to Nancy Mitford, believed that ``pavement'' was the most beautiful word in the English language. He was wrong, of course; ``windowsill'' is the most beautiful word in the English language. (I have this on the authority of another Stammtisch regular.)

For more on pavement, see the like and, like, the John Loudon McAdam eponym entries.

Joan Rivers, for what it's worth (FWIW), thinks that cellar door is the most beautiful-sounding word in the English language, if it's pronounced as one word. Close, anyway. (This datum is tenderly preserved for posterity in Lewis Burke Frumkes: The Logophile's Orgy, (NY: Delacorte Pr., 1995). The claim that cellar door is the most beautiful phrase in the English language has been variously attributed. It's been assigned to Edgar Allan Poe, with his reason being given as that it's a pun on c'est l'adore. It's also been attributed to J.R.R. Tolkien. The latter attribution has, in fact, a very solid claim, although the assertion recorded is a bit weaker than ``most beautiful.'' He mentioned it when he gave the inaugural Charles James O'Donnell lecture in October 1955. Some of those lectures, including Tolkien's, were published in Angles and Britons (Cardiff: Univ. of Wales Pr., 1963). His transcript of his talk includes the following:

   The basic pleasure in the phonetic elements of a language and in the style of their patterns, and then in a higher dimension, pleasure in the association of these word-forms with meanings, is of fundamental importance. This pleasure is quite distinct from the practical knowledge of a language, and not the same as an analytic understanding of its structure. It is simpler, deeper-rooted, and yet more immediate than the enjoyment of literature. Though it may be allied to some of the elements in the appreciation of verse, it does not need any poets, other than the nameless artists who composed the language. It can be strongly felt in the simple contemplation of a vocabulary, or even in a string of names. [pp. 35-6]
   Most English-speaking people, for instance, will admit that cellar door is 'beautiful', especially if dissociated from its sense (and from its spelling). More beautiful than, say, sky, and far more beautiful than beautiful. Well then, in Welsh for me cellar doors are extraordinarily frequent, and moving to the higher dimension, the words in which there is pleasure in the contemplation of the association of form and sense are abundant.

I understand there's something on the cellar-door controversy in Humphrey Carpenter's Tolkien: A Biography (p. 56), but I haven't had a chance to check.

In 2004, an organization calling itself the British Council apparently decided that, instead of coming up with a usefully descriptive name for itself, it would get some free publicity by conducting and reporting a very stupid study. So, to celebrate their 70th anniversary (nothing like a round number to build excitement), they surveyed over 40,000 ``non-English speakers'' (this may have been a more accurate term than you'd think yet) in 102 countries, and compiled the 70 most beautiful words. At least 71 words, in fact, since ``hen night'' took 70th place. Oh, ``hen night,'' sure. But ``oi'' took 61st place, nosing out ``hiccup'' at 63rd. Right now I'm thinking that one of the most beautiful words for the survey team to learn would have been ``methodology.'' It has a nice rhythm and it's useful, too. Were survey participants asked to write their choices? Was it multiple-choice? Here are the top ten:

  1. mother
  2. passion
  3. smile
  4. love
  5. eternity
  6. fantastic
  7. destiny
  8. freedom
  9. liberty
  10. tranquillity

The mindless BBC puff piece on this ``news'' gave Michael Quinion a free plug for his ``recent book Port Out, Starboard Home'' about oddities of the English language. (Gee, a whole book of them!) Quinion commented, ``Oi is not a word that I would've thought turned up in English manuals all that often.'' Chris Wade, director of communications at The British Council (oh -- the British one; got it), remarked generally that the list had ``words denoting concepts that people aspire to, like freedom; words that sounded fun like peekaboo and others that aren't really words at all but they [sic] convey real meaning, like oi.''

FWIW, oi is in the SOWPODS dictionary of Scrabble words, widely used outside of North America, but not in the TWL98 (official dictionary for tournament play in North America). The word was not in the third edition of the Official SCRABBLE Players' Dictionary (standard in North American non-tournament play). The fourth edition incorporated a number of words that were in SOWPODS dictionary, and this appears to be one of them: oi is listed as an interjection equivalent to oy.

Beauty Supplies
A sign on many stores hereabouts. The typical transaction:
Clerk: Hello -- how may I help you?
Customer: I'd like to buy eight units please.
Clerk: Oh, but you're at least a three! You don't need any more than seven units.
Customer: Is that how it works? In that case I'll just take five units. You're right -- I'm a 2.9 according to 700 hits on HotOrNot.com. I just want to go up to about eight. Any higher and I'd have to get a different spouse -- you know how much trouble that can be.
Clerk: Of course.
Customer: Now, I weighed myself this morning and---
Clerk: --oh, that isn't necessary. You should go to Fitting to have your surface area measured. You know, beauty is only skin deep.

Just a word of advice: I am the person who wrote this entry, and when I came back and read it again years later, I found it utterly confusing on the first read. Try again.

A kind of jazz music. The name is imitative of a characteristic staccato two-tone phrase. Called bop for short.

Background Equivalent Concentration.

Bar Examining Committee.

Bibliothèque d'études coptes. A publication of IFAO.

Bose-Einstein Condensation.

Bose-Einstein condensation is an odd feature that Einstein realized occurs in certain boson gases. Essentially, it is that a finite fraction of the particles are in the single-particle ground state of the system.

Long version: A gas of bosons -- that is, a system of weakly-interacting (equiv.: ``quasi-free'') bosons -- has statistical properties determined jointly by the density of states (DOS), the chemical potential (μ) and the temperature. The density of states is an energy-dependent function that represents the single-particle quantum states available to be occupied by the bosons. Strictly speaking, for any macroscopic system the DOS is really a very jagged function: an infinite sequence of degeneracy-weighted delta functions. For any macroscopic system, however, the spacing between delta functions is microscopic, and in particular very small compared to the temperature. (You can understand this by measuring temperature in the natural energy units, or by reading ``Boltzmann constant times temperature'' wherever I write ``temperature.'')

Most of the interesting gas properties are expressible as few-particle expectation values. That is, as sums of all expressed as sums over states (and sums over pairs of states for two-particle functions, etc.) weighted by the associated B-E occupation numbers, and some other factors. This sum is equivalent to an integral over the DOS (a multiple integral for multi-particle expectation values). The thing that often makes the calculation tractable in this form is a kind of thermodynamic limit: the DOS is computed as a scaled version of its limit for infinite system size. This often yields a simple smooth function that is easy to to integrate over. Because the B-E distribution varies smoothly on a scale of temperature, the jagged structure of the true DOS washes out anyway, so the error from using the thermodynamic limit is negligible.

The bosons described by the B-E distribution may be conserved (like atoms) or not conserved (like photons or phonons). In either case, the chemical potential is determined self-consistently by the requirement to satisfy whatever are the constraints or boundary conditions determining the number of bosons. For example, in the case of photons, the temperature determines the energy density, and that determines the density of photons and the chemical potential (zero, for the usual situation). For composite bosons, there are usually a variety of conservation laws fixing the number of particles in a closed system. The number of particles is a single-particle expectation value of the sort described above. (In particular, it is a sum over all states of the probable occupancy of those states.)

Now we are ready to understand Bose-Einstein condensation. As the temperature decreases, the B-E distribution sharpens, falling more rapidly at energies above the chemical potential. For a fixed number of particles, this means that the chemical potential must increase to lie just below the minimum-energy state (i.e., just below the region of support of the DOS). With decreasing temperature, the distance to the minimum-energy state eventually becomes comparable to the interlevel spacing -- that is, comparable to the energy scale of the jaggedness of the real DOS. At that point, the smooth approximations associated with the thermodynamic-limit-smooth DOS fail. The fraction of particles in the ground state becomes a macroscopic fraction of the total.

Because Windows was not properly shut down,
one or more of your disk drives may have errors on it.

To avoid seeing this message again, always shut down
your computer by selecting Shut Down from the Start menu

Windows crashed again.

To avoid seeing this message again, use a different operating system.

A mysterious company; I never really figured out what they really do, but their homepage attempts an explanation: ``Bechtel provides technical, management, and directly related services to develop, manage, engineer, build, and operate installations for our customers worldwide.'' I don't think it would even be safe to conclude that they're not in the banking business. I mean, Parmenides was certainly right in arguing that you can't define a thing strictly in terms of negative qualities, but by the same token, I don't think I know a thing if there isn't something I can say I know it is not.

They got a lot of media attention when George P. Shultz, who became Bechtel vice-chairman after a stint in the Nixon administration, replaced Al Haig as Ronald Reagan's Secretary of State in June 1982. George has the kind of quiet confidence that is a real asset if screwing up is unavoidable anyway -- a kind of refined fatuity, worn lightly. He just published a book. He was trained as an economist.

Backward Explicit Congestion Notification. ``Traffic Slows Ahead,'' I suppose. I don't think this entry is a joke, but I can't remember anymore.

BEd, B.Ed.
Bachelor of EDucation (degree). (Baccalaureus Educationis.)

Mattresses come in certain standard sizes:




Long Twin
Double or Full
King (Std.)
King (Calif.)
King (Eastern)

Japanese `bed.' A loanword from English, of course. Like many words that Japanese could have done without, in its full connotation it really means `Occidental-style bed.' (I only decided to be difficult when it occurred to me that a ``Western-style bed'' might be a California King [vide supra] with a saddle on the footboard.)

Burst Extended Data-Out RAM (EDO RAM). Explanation here.

Bis-(ethylenedithio tetrathiafulvalene). This and its metal chelates form organic molecular crystals that behave as one- and two-dimensional conductors. [In particular: (BEDT-TTF)2MHg(SCN)4 with M = K, Rb, Tl, NH4.]

Beeb, the
The BBC. Also (like the ABC in Australia) known as Auntie.

The BBC has taken advantage, I guess you might say, of its extra name, creating an internet shopping site at the domain <beeb.com>. This is the same government outfit that once upon a time forced the Kinks to sing ``taste is like Cherry Cola'' instead of ``taste is like Coca Cola,'' because of their fastidious distaste for commercialism. Those were the days, my friend. We thought they'd never end.

BEechwood 4 5789
You can call me up and have a date, any old time. More information at 234-5789.

Bee-Gees picture.  Aren't you glad you're not loading images?

Name of a pop singing trio of brothers from the forgettable seventies or maybe eighties, I forget. Presumably stands for Brothers Gibb. One of them married Lulu.

The Benny Goodman Orchestra (how's that for a graceful transition, eh?) used the bandleader's initials as a logo on instruments, stands, etc. They weren't in a consistent style. (The B and G were generally in the same font style in any single logo, but different logos used various different font styles, the letters sometimes vertically offset and sometimes not.)

Lulu had a role in, and sang the theme song of, the 1967 movie ``To Sir, With Love.'' That movie was socially progressive: a black man (actor Sidney Poitier) was put in the role of a mature, highly educated authority figure, educating and reforming poorly socialized ignorant white youths. Benny Goodman was also progressive in relation to race relations. He was one of the first major bandleaders to have white and black players together in the same band.

Ballistic Electron Emission Microscopy.

Been there, done that.
  1. Don't know the language, never left the hotel.
  2. I feel your pain. Now go away so I don't feel it any more.
  3. I am a socially advanced life form. With my experience, nothing you have to tell me (especially the uninteresting contingent details of your drab existence) could be of interest.

Daisy -- Mrs. Tom Buchanan -- Nick's second cousin once removed, confides to him early in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.

``You see I think everything's terrible anyhow,'' she went on in a convinced way. ``Everybody thinks so--the most advanced people. And I know. I've been everywhere and seen everything and done everything.'' Her eyes flashed around her in a defiant way, rather like Tom's, and she laughed with thrilling scorn. ``Sophisticated--God, I'm sophisticated.''

The instant her voice broke off, ceasing to compel my attention, my belief, I felt the basic insincerity of what she had said. ... I waited, and sure enough, in a moment she looked at me with an absolute smirk on her lovely face, as if she had asserted her membership in a rather distinguished secret society to which she and Tom belonged.''

Been There, Done That
Title of Eddie Fisher's autobiography, written with Daniel Fisher. His daughter Carrie is probably the better writer, but I wouldn't be surprised if she wasn't available.

Isn't that the same as ale? Milwaukee is known for beer. Go. Here 's where. There's also a USENET FAQ. Excellent starting points are the Real Beer Page and Spencer's Beer Page, and the WWW Virtual Library's Beer & Brewing Index.

I hear that they drink beer in Australia too.

Here's a comparison of beer and cucumbers archived from the rec.humor.funny newsgroup.

FWIW, Donald Glaser got the idea for bubble chambers (devices used for viewing the trajectories of subatomic particles) while staring at his beer one day in 1952. Eight years later, this invention won him a Nobel prize in physics. Cheers!

Beer-Lambert Law
Absorbance of monochromatic light by a solute in a transparent solvent is proportional to path length and to the concentration. (Absorbance is minus the logarithm of transmittance, which in turn is the ratio of transmitted to incident light intensity.) Also known simply as Beer's Law. Find a definition with a pretty picture here, originally from Virginia Tech.

Beer's Law
Same as the Beer-Lambert Law, just above.

[Football icon] [column]

Beer Studies
Most universities don't offer a degree in this field, so football players usually major in sociology.

Now, I don't mean to disparage football players by this. Indeed, many football players exceed the maximum intelligence cut-off of the Sociology Department. They are admitted only on a provisional basis, and required to take extra practice without a helmet.

Here's a little something extra for those who think I'm coyly and very subtly insulting someone. It's from a work known as Lives of the Eminent Philosophers and similar titles, by Diogenes Laërtes. Book VI covers the Cynics (from the Greek word for dog -- cf. Latin canis), among them Diogenes. That's not Diogenes the author himself; plain ``Diogenes'' normally refers to the other famous Diogenes, a/k/a Diogenes of Sinope, Diogenes the Cynic. Diogenes was the founder of the Philosophical School called the Cynics, and the name was earned by Diogenes practice of living like a dog. In particular, of having sex (alone or with someone else) as publicly as possible. At the market, say.

Chapter 49 of book VI (of Lives) reports that Diogenes was asked why athletes are stupid. He answered in Greek, but a translation is ``because they are built out of porkchops and beefsteaks.''

On-Board Energy and Environmental Systems.

Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability.

A plural of beef. Really. And here I was only unfamiliar with the uncountable noun for the meat of bow or bull or whatever. Here, from the 1919 edition of the Encyclopedia Americana, is an entry on oleomargarine. The description of a typical contemporary process for making it begins thus: ``The caul fat of freshly killed beeves is, after thorough washing first in tepid water and then in iced water, allowed to stand in a cold room until thoroughly cold.''

Frankly, it's a useful word, if only for constructing crossword puzzles. The OED, s.v. beef, n., seems to prefer it to refer primarily to oxen, but it allows that in the US it refers to [bovine] cattle. I'll take it! This is a word I've needed. (Further, the OED gives beeves as the standard plural; the only twentieth-century variant it recognizes is ``(in U.S.) beefs,'' although one cited quote with that plural form seems to issue from England.) Now all we need is to back-construct a new singular beeve, so beef can be just the uncountable meat again.

BElgian (.be) Franc.

British Expeditionary Force. The term was used as late as Dunkirk (actually spelled Dunkerque by somebody). Cf. AEF, CEF.

BEryllium Fluoride. It's a glass-former.

Big Evil Grin. Smiley ekphrasis.

Bioengineering (BE), Environmental Engineering, and Geological Sciences. They rearranged the school of engineering and hired a clutch of geologists for no better reason than that the department acronym BEG has endless comic possibilities.

Behind you.
A standard warning used by a waiter to alert another waiter that he is passing behind him. ``Backs'' is equivalent.

Behoerde, Behörde
German, `authority.'

A German preposition. It's hard to translate isolated prepositions between languages; they just don't map cleanly. But at least I can say that bei is the cognate of English by, and still a pretty close homophone as well.

Biological Exposure Index.

Butanol-Extractable Iodine.

The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor was published in 1979 and won an unprecedented special award from the National Book Critics Circle in 1980. It was edited by O'Connor's long-time friend Sally Fitzgerald, who described it as a ``self-portrait in words.'' Some of the words were misspelled, but Fitzgerald left them that way: ``to have corrected them would have destroyed some of the savor.'' [The quotes are from Sally Fitzgerald's obituary in the LA Times, Friday, July 14, 2000.]

The two women met when O'Connor was finishing up a fellowship at Yaddo, the famous artists' community in New York. O'Connor needed a quiet place to stay as she worked on her first novel, Wise Blood. Sally Fitzgerald and her husband, active in New York literary circles, rented her a room over their garage in rural Ridgefield, Conn. For a year and a half, O'Connor became a part of the Fitzgerald household and family; she was godmother to one of the Fitzgerald's six children. Afterwards O'Connor and Sally Fitzgerald continued their friendship by mail (some of the correspondence is in Habit of Being).

O'Connor left the Fitzgeralds' and returned home to Georgia in December 1950 when she became ill. She was hospitalized with lupus, nearly dying then (at age 25) and completely dying at age 39. Lupus is an autoimmune disorder -- the body attacks itself. The suicide disease of choice among writers is alcoholism, but O'Connor was an original.

Sally's husband, the poet and classical scholar Robert Fitzgerald, is well-known today for his translations of Homer. In 1969, they co-edited Flannery O'Connor: Mystery and Manners, a collection of O'Connor's essays and lectures.

Sally Fitzgerald received the offer from publisher Robert Giroux to compile O'Connor's letters at a time when her husband, by then a widely admired Harvard professor of classics, had left her for a younger woman. Before we leave O'Connor altogether, let me mention that she wrote a short story called ``Everything That Rises Must Converge.'' It's not about physics or math.

In Milan Kundera's Laughable Loves, the lothario of the first story seduces an unlikely young woman with his friend's copy of a book entitled, uh, The Golden Apple of Eternal Desire, maybe. Have to check.

Milan Kundera's novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being is about a man who is extremely popular with women. Of course, in principle it's probably about a lot of other deeper, eternal matters, with allegory and irony and veiled criticism of the regime and all that, but all he has to do is snap his fingers. Cf. adult education.

Richard Gwyn, a silly old journalist, wrote the book version of a speech he'd given in 1994 and entitled it Nationalism without Walls: The Unbearable Lightness of Being Canadian (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1995). The entire title is filched, but at least he's up-front about it. Page 7: ``Inevitably, Canadians possess a far lighter sense of national identity than citizens of ethnic nations, Ireland, Poland, Thailand, whatever. At some point, the lightness of identity may become unbearable, as in the title of Milan Kundera's novel, and we'll let it slip away, scarcely noticing that it's gone.''

In Czech, the title of Milan Kudera's novel is Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí. The verb nest means `bear, carry,' and the preformative ess yields snest, `bear with, endure.' The ne is a negating prefix. As an aside, I might point out that Ludwik Zamenhof, known to the world as Doktoro Esperanto, observed that negation in SAE languages is usually indicated by a prefix, and that suffixes are usually used to mark other distinctions. Not that he was the first to notice this, but he made these observations into rigid rules of Esperanto. Notice that English has a large number of such negating prefixes -- a-, an-, de-, dis-, dys-, il-, in- (im-), non-, un- are a few of them, though they shade off into related senses with anti-, contra-, mal-, etc. I can't think of any negating suffixes in English (discounting Pig Latin), except perhaps the weasel suffixes (-ish, -like).

Anyway, back to the main story, such as it is: nesnesitelná is reasonably translated as unbearable in English, and insoportable in Spanish. Milan Kundera, a dissident Czech writer, eventually became an exile, living in France starting in 1975. Since publication of his work was banned in his native country, the audience for his works in translation became his primary readership. He therefore undertook a campaign to correct the translations in the three or four languages that he could read. In the cover story of the March 6, 1988 NYTimes Book Review, he complains about the translations of The Joke, which appeared in all major European languages in 1968-9:

In France, the translator rewrote the novel by ornamenting my style. In England, the publisher cut out all the reflective passages, eliminated the musicological chapters, changed the order of the parts, recomposed the novel. Another country: I meet my translator, a man who knows not a word of Czech. ``Then how did you translate it?'' ``With my heart.'' And he pulls a photo of me from his wallet. He was so congenial that I almost believed it was actually possible to translate by some telepathy of the heart. Of course, it turned out to be much simpler: he had worked from the French rewrite, as had the translator in Argentina.
The article in the NYTBR was excerpted from ``Sixty-three Words,'' a chapter in Kundera's The Art of the Novel, translated from the French original by Linda Asher. It lists words that are somehow special, and usually cause trouble in translation. For example:
BEING. Many friends advised me against the title ``The Unbearable Lightness of Being.'' [So would many of his readers.] Couldn't I at least cut out the word ``being''? This word makes everyone uncomfortable. When they come across it, translators tend to substitute more modest expressions: ``existence,'' ``life,'' ``condition'' . . . There was a Czech translator who decided to update Shakespeare: ``To live or not to live. . . .'' But it's precisely in that famous soliloquy that the difference between living and being is made clear: if after death we go on dreaming, if after death there still is something, then death (nonlife) does not free us of the horror of being. Hamlet raises the question of being, not of life. The horror of being: ``Death has two faces. One is nonbeing; the other is the terrifying material being of the corpse'' (``The Book of Laughter and Forgetting'').

The complete title of the Spanish translation of Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí is La insoportable levedad del ser. My sense of definite article use in Spanish is irremediably corrupted by my naturalization to English, but I can't shake the feeling that ``del'' is wrong in the Spanish version of the title: ``del ser'' can mean both ``of the being'' and ``of being.'' The infinitive functioning as gerund generally takes an article, whereas the phrase ser + <predicate> need not. I feel that in this instance ser should be regarded as ser + <null predicate> (so ``...levedad de ser''), which is how I parse the standard translation of Hamlet (¡Ser o no ser...!), but apparently this was not considered acceptable. (Ser as a gerund occurs in the standard expression ser humano, `human being,' which typically needs an article.) Then again, AIUI Slavic languages generally lack articles (or equivalent affixes as in Romanian). Does ``del ser'' preserve an ambiguity that English ``of being'' removes? Not every equivocation that can be preserved under translation should be. (More precisely: it may be best not to preserve a necessary or natural ambiguity with a translated ambiguity that is unnecessary or unnatural.)

Of important words in Kundera's famous title, so far we've considered being and (but lightly) unbearable. Surely the notion that lightness should be hard to bear demands examination. (This entry is part of the glossary's funhouse. I dare you to follow the preceding link.)

Brazila Esperanto-Ligo. Esperanta akronimo. Okay, to be less obscure, the head term is an Esperanto acronym meaning `Brazilian Esperanto League.'

BELarusan Association for American Studies. A constituent association of the EAAS.

This is the adjective corresponding to the noun ``Belgium.'' Do you think that ``adjective'' is a big strange word and ``corresponding'' is a mile long? Never mind. It's like this:
WRONG: ``Dutch and Belgium'' (3.81)
RIGHT: ``Dutch and Belgian'' (5.54)
WRONG: ``Belgium waffles with strawberries'' (0.271)
RIGHT: ``Belgian waffles with strawberries'' (0.672)

(You needn't worry about it, but the things at the end of each line are numbers. Just to get real technical, they are the numbers of millions of ghits, today [June 15, 2012], for each phrase. If you were to ``do the math,'' you would find [just trust me on this] that the numbers for the lines labeled RIGHT are vaaaaastly bigger than for the lines labelled WRONG, proving that the language hasn't gone quite entirely to hell yet.)

Remember, you can't spell believe without lie. I was the first person to notice this. Honest!

Buffalo Environmental Law Journal.

Bombay Efficient Lighting Large-scale Experiment. A project to subsidize residential use of fluorescent lighting by CFL's (q.v.). It is essentially a work-around for two political problems that counteract market incentives to implement ostensibly more cost- and energy-efficient lighting: (1) residential power is subsidized by commercial and industrial customers and (2) import duties favor power-generation equipment over CFL's.


  • A. Gadgil, A. H. Rosenfeld, D. Arasteh and E. Ward: ``Advanced lighting and window technologies for reducing electricity consumption and peak demand: Overseas manufacturing and marketing opportunities'' in the proceedings of the IEA/ENEL Conference on Advanced Technologies for Electric Demand-Side Management (4-5 April 1991; Sorrento, Italy; hey, there's a Sorrento's Italian Restaurant on Central Avenue in Westfield, NJ -- I figured you'd wanna know).
  • Amory B. Lovins and Ashok Gadgil have a related editorial on the web entitled ``The Negawatt Revolution: Electric Efficiency and Asian Development.''
  • M. Anjali Sastry and A. Gadgil: ``Bombay Efficient Lighting Large-scale Experiment (BELLE): A blueprint for improving energy efficiency and reducing peak electric demand in a developing country,'' Urban Atmosphere/Atmospheric Environment 30(5), pp. 803-808 (1996).
  • M. Anjali Sastry and A. Gadgil: ``Stalled on the road to the market: Lessons from a project promoting lighting efficiency in India,'' Energy Policy 22(2), pp. 151-162 (1994).
  • Arthur H. Rosenfeld and Ellen Ward: ``Energy Use in Buildings,'' ch. 8 of The Energy-Environment Connection, ed. Jack M. Hollander (Washington, DC and Covelo, CA: Island Press, 1992), pp. 223-257.

The male sheep that wears the bell. Normally, a wether is a castrated male sheep, but a bellwether may be whole.

You'd figure this would be an important distinction (especially to the animal and his prospective mates), but castration is such a common farm procedure that the words that specifically refer to castrated males tend to slide into generic use. The other important example is ox. (Three reasons for this practice: castrated males are more tame and don't compete for mates; castrating most of the males makes it much simpler to breed eugenically; castrated animals generally grow larger and stronger.) Also see hog.

Metaphorically, a bellwether is any leader of shifting masses, like Paris or New York in fashion. (Something about this deep down in the AIU entry.) As I have seen ``bellwether'' used over the past decades, it usually describes a leading indicator of trends rather than a leader, as New Hampshire used to be an indicator of national presidential elections.

For the many years that New Hampshire was the bellwether state, the saying went ``As New Hampshire goes, so goes the nation.'' It wasn't that reliable -- they went for Dewey in '48 and Nixon in '60, but then those were close elections. Then in 1972, Democratic nominee George McGovern was defeated in a landslide. His second and final running mate was R. Sargent Shriver, Jr. (that's a given name, not a misspelled -- on my part, anyway -- rank). Sargent Shriver had Kennedy connections (married into the family; first head of the Peace Corps when it was organized in JFK's administration). George did not even carry his home state of South Dakota. The ticket carried Shriver's home state of Massachusetts, and adjacent New Hampshire. For a while people joked, ``As New Hampshire goes, so goes Massachusetts.''

In the 2000 elections, the country divided into large, electorally rather homogeneous regions. The Democratic ticket won most of the Pacific coast states, the Northeast and Midwest; the Republican ticket won the rest, including a solid South. One of the exceptional states, going for a different party than its region, was New Hampshire, which went, like the country, for the G.O.P. More on that election at the Electoral Vote (EV) entry.

Title of a book by Connie Willis. A science fiction novel that accurately and entertainingly portrays (i.e., satirizes) institutional social science research. The heroine of the story, Sandra Foster, studies fashion processes -- the sort of science whose teen demographics we describe for you in elementary nontechnical detail at the TRU entry.

Bellybutton Dollar
Numismatists' slang for a variety of 1884 silver dollar that has a defect from the die causing a strategically placed depression on the eagle's lower abdomen.

For more on bellybuttons, try the navel exercises entry.

Board of Editors in the Life Sciences. ``[F]ounded in 1991 to evaluate the proficiency of manuscript editors in the life sciences and to award credentials similar to those obtainable in other professions.''

Bemerkung. German for `remark, comment.'

Boundary-Element Method.

Breakdown Energy of Metal. A technique for accelerated testing of semiconductor device interconnects, whose lifetime is limited by electromigration. See C. Hong and D. Crook article, page 108 of IEEE/IRPS 1985. Cf. SWEAT, SSWEAT.

Bug-Eyed Monster. Survival information at the EBE entry.

Black and Ethnic Minority Infrastructures in Scotland. This is a stack of euphemisms meaning `underwear for people who aren't natural redheads.' If you wear cotton you don't need to worry about this.

Benchmarq Microelectronics
Integrated circuits for power-sensitive and portable applications. More concretely, ``smart batteries'' (rechargeable batteries with embedded chips), RTC's and nonvolatile RAM.

bench saw
Informal term for a small table saw. Larger table saws are mounted on the floor; bench saws are mounted on a workbench.

be negatively affected, in economic terms
Lose money.

BElgium, NEtherlands, LUXembourg. An acronym for what are traditionally called ``the Low Countries'' in reference to their elevation (sometimes depth) with respect to sea level.

In French the corresponding expression is Les Pays Bas, and in German it's a problem: The country we call the Netherlands is called die Niederlande in German, and just like the English name, it already itself means ``the low countries.'' Like the English name, the German is somewhat archaic. But where nether is somewhat archaic in English, it is Lande that is archaic in German. As explained at the AbhKM entry, the modern plural of Land is Länder. If you wanted a modern compound noun meaning ``Low Countries'' in German, it would be Niederländer. The only problem is that this word already means `Dutchmen,' and in too many contexts would either be misunderstood that way, or just be confusing. German is not without a collective name for the Low Countries, however; they have die Beneluxländer.

Back to English now, I've seen the region described as ``the Benelux.'' As noted, the region is easily flooded, sometimes with troops from large neighboring countries. (The most recent such flood was WWII.) The OED2 lists no earlier instances of this term than 1947, when it was still being written in quotes.

In English, the Netherlands is also referred to as ``Holland.'' This is technically incorrect, since Holland is a just a part of the Netherlands. It's sort of like calling Iran Persia, though Persia refers to a southern province of modern Iran.

As a medical term referring to a neoplasm (i.e., an abnormal growth, a tumor), benign usually indicates that the growth is localized and looks to stay that way. A benign tumor need not be benign in the ordinary sense of not causing disease symptoms. (See, for example, TS.) The term benign in the technical medical sense may also be taken to imply loosely that removal of the tumor cures the symptoms that the tumor causes.

Benefit. A nonmonetary incentive to work. Plural bennies. There are formal bennies, like retirement benefits and health insurance, and informal bennies, like taking home pencils from the supply cabinet. I've never heard opportunity to embezzle described as a benny. Perks are also not usually called benefits.

Japanese is written with many different character systems, in order to make it difficult (really, that's the theory). The principal sets are

  1. kanji -- Chinese characters used as logographs (i.e., as in Chinese), of which an educated person needs to know a few thousand.
  2. kana -- two parallel syllabaries of 46 characters each (48 counting the virtually obsolete characters for wi and we.) Katakana is used principally for foreign words, hiragana for the rest.
  3. Latin characters, more precisely the letters of the English alphabet, called romaji.
On top of that, newspaper ads use +[Greek letter alpha] to mean plus bonus. In the good old days, before the (speculative real estate) bubble burst and the economy ground to zero growth, employees at the industrial giants could expect annual bonuses that were a fair fraction of their annual pay. Okay, so bonuses aren't bennies. Look, the information has to go somewhere.

The simplest aromatic compound, and the subject of many confused efforts to determine a structural formula, followed by some confusion about how it was found.

The structure of benzene is typically drawn about as follows:

       H         H
        \       /
        /  ___  \
       /  /   \  \
  H---C  (     )  C---H
       \  \___/  /
        \       /
        /       \
       H         H
This represents a resonance between
       H         H
        \       /
        //     \\
       //       \\
  H---C           C---H
       \         /
        \ _____ /
        /       \
       H         H
       H         H
        \ _____ /
        /       \
       /         \
  H---C           C---H
       \\       //
        \\     //
        /       \
       H         H

       H         C===O
        \       /
        /  ___  \
       /  /   \  \
  H---C  (     )  C---H
       \  \___/  /
        \       /
        /       \
       H         H

benzoic acid
       H         C===O
        \       /
        /  ___  \
       /  /   \  \
  H---C  (     )  C---H
       \  \___/  /
        \       /
        /       \
       H         H

The organic group resulting from the removal of the hydroxyl group from benzoic acid:

       H         C===O
        \       /
        /  ___  \
       /  /   \  \
  H---C  (     )  C---H
       \  \___/  /
        \       /
        /       \
       H         H

The benzoyl group is an instance of an acyl group.

benzoyl peroxide
A very strong oxidizing agent. A component of some explosives, in fact. Next time some pimply-faced youth tries to buy a product, don't let him! He probably wants to blow up the school.

Long used to bleach flour, now an ingredient in topical acne medications. A white crystalline solid.

Black Elected Official.

A Spanish word meaning `drunk' (the adjective) or `drunkard' (noun). [Female form boeda.] This word is not in the DRAE, but its distribution in other dicionaries suggests that it is used on both sides of the Atlantic. It's only as pejorative as its denotation requires.

Back End Of Line. ``In'' way to say `last stages of fab.' More detail at the FEOL entry.

A Be, Inc. Operating System (OS). It's an object-oriented, multitasking, multiprocessor operating system for personal computers. Probably its biggest selling point (and its biggest liability) is that it's not MS Windows.

Building Environmental Performance Assessment Criteria.

Bit Error Rate. (Cf. block error rate, BLER.)

Basic Encoding Rules. A (possibly too) universal representation of data values that is the standard realization of Abstract Syntax Notation 1 (ASN.1).

A town in two adjacent Alabama counties, in Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio (in two counties here too, and they don't even seem to be close), Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. That's twenty-four states, and maybe twenty-five towns. More than Dublin, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Moscow (vide MSU), Paris, or Rome.

There's also a Berlin in Germany, described here at its postal abbreviation entry BE.

A Berlin (or berlin) is also a four-wheeled covered carriage, or was. It's not obsolete if you're travelling through the Scrabble forest.

One day I was sitting in Procter Hall (the Graduate College mess, upstairs from the Debasement Bar), calmly digesting dinner with some of my Music Department friends (we were each doing this separately) when suddenly, completely out of the blue, Ruth (sitting next to me) remarked to Dan that she really needed to ``learn more about French opera.''

If you're like me, you probably remember as if it were yesterday, how shocked you were to discover that there is such a thing as French opera -- so I don't have to explain. Naturally I was staggered by the concept, and though I never at any point lost consciousness, I did sway noticeably. Ruth put her hand gently on my forearm and said firmly ``stay.''

This action gives a fair indication of my status in that pack. They weren't just my humanist friends, they were my human friends, and I was their pup, a combination part-time mascot and taxi. I learned some tricks too: ``stay, sit, fetch, lampoon the music theorist.''

Since this is the Berlioz entry, we should have some information about him. He was born in 1803.

BErkeley (UCB) Reliability Tools.
[See, for example, B. K. Liew, P. Fang, N. W. Cheung and C. Hu: ``Reliability simulator for interconnect and intermetallic contact electromigration,'' in Proceedings of the 28th Annual IEEE Reliability Physics Symposium, pp. 111-118 (1990).]

Bit Error Rate Test[er]. Pronounced both as the name `Bert' and, by people with time to kill, as the initialism.

Here's one from Dallas Semiconductor.

Bertrand's Postulate
Every prime is smaller than twice the previous prime: (viz.: 3 < 4 = 2 × 2, 5 < 6 = 3 × 2, 7 < 10 = 5 × 2, 11 < 14 = 7 × 2, ...). Since the density of primes falls asymptotically only as the inverse first power, it is not unreasonable to postulate rigid conformance to a bound that, if just-satisfied, would yield exponential fall-off of the density. I don't know what the largest range is, for which the postulate has been tested, but it's probably not growing very fast. Nowadays most prime searches (e.g. GIMPS) focus on discovering ever-larger Mersenne primes, for which highly efficient algorithms exist.

That's Joseph Bertrand, not Bertrand Russell.


Berytus Archaeological Studies. Published by the American University of Beirut (AUB).

Berytus is the ancient name of the originally Phoenician city that is now called Beirut in English and Beyrouth in French, pronounced Bairut in Arabic.

besonder*, besonders. German: `special, specially, especially.'

(UK) Biological Engineering Society. Defunct in 1995; vide IPEMB.


British Epigraphy Society. See also an American homologue (ASGLE).


Bulletin of the Egyptological Seminar. Based in New York, somehow.

Bond and Etchback SOI.

Bachelor's Degree in Electronics Technology.

Black Entertainment Television. CEO Robert Johnson was profiled in the April 1, 1996 Newsweek.


Brunauer, Emmett and Teller method. For determining specific surface area (SSA).


Second letter of the Greek alphabet. Over time, sounds evolved, and in Modern Greek the letter's name (still spelled the same way) is closer to ``veeta.'' About that vowel, see ioticism. In the Cyrillic alphabets, the symbol most directly resembling a capital beta (and thus a B) is similarly voiced, and a separate symbol, resembling a lower-case Latin b with a hat-brim (facing right just like the belly) is used to represent the unvoiced sound.

The Greek alphabet (named for its first two letters alpha and beta) was derived from some northwestern Semitic alphabet. The second letter of all Semitic alphabets is a bilabial consonant. In Ancient Hebrew, that bilabial consonant was plosive -- a 'b' sound. Just as in English, the consonant (called ``bet'' or ``beyt'' -- like ``beta'' minus the final vowel) was sometimes aspirated (as in the English word ``but'') and sometimes unaspirated (as in the English word ``tub''). Whether the sound was aspirated or not was determined completely by the surrounding letters. That is, the two sounds were allophones. There do not exist two words in Ancient Hebrew that differ only in the pronunciation of the beyt. (That remains true of native words in Hebrew -- words derived from the Semitic root base. In foreign loans -- and both Medieval and Modern Hebrew have a lot of them -- such a distinction may occur.) In the IPA, the aspirated and unaspirated versions of the sound can be distinguished with a superscript aitch to indicate aspiration -- /b/ and /bh/, resp. In Hebrew, although it is not strictly necessary, one can indicate that the consonant is not aspirated by writing a dot in the middle of the character (this worked for other aspirated/unaspirated pairs as well). Over time, as pronunciation of the language evolved, the aspirated consonant evolved into a fricative, while the unaspirated one remained a plosive, so the consonants are now beyt and veyt. The mark on the beyt now indicates plosive rather than nonaspirated. It's useful now to be able to distinguish the two sounds, in order to transcribe foreign borrowings more accurately.

Short for beta particle. It's also a variable commonly used for v/c, as described at the same entry.

Short for Betamax.

beta cell
A kind of cell found in the islets of Langerhans, within the pancreas, and which produces insulin.

Type I diabetes (more information at DM entry) is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system goes crazy and destroys the beta cells.


BETA code, Betacode
A code developed by Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG) for representing Greek Text completely in ASCII. TLG offers an online manual.

Consumer videotape format developed by Sony. Beta uses almost half-inch wide (12.65 mm) tape in a 6 × 3.75-inch (155 mm × 95 mm) cassette. Format competed with VHS system and lost. Consensus was: Beta is better, but doesn't play long enough. Its playtime was extended, but it was playing catch-up. Eventually, VHS also had the advantage that if something was available in only one format, as most things are, it was available in VHS only. Apple Computer is perpetually in similar trouble. This nonlinear aspect of market penetration is related to Metcalfe's Law.

Beta is the Roman spelling (romaji) of a Japanese word meaning `quality,' so ``Betamax'' -- the formal name of the format -- could be interpreted as `highest quality.'

beta particle
An electron or positron. Beta particles are also called betas for short. The terms are not quite equivalent, however, and there are a couple of ways to think of the distinction between the term electron (or its antiparticle) and the term beta [particle]. One is in terms of energy: betas typically have energies on the order of an MeV (which means, since the electron rest mass corresponds to an energy of only half an MeV, that the dynamics of a beta require relativistic treatment).

The other way to view the distinction is that the beta terms are used in certain nuclear or elementary-particle physics contexts. One doesn't call the conduction electrons in a semiconductor betas; one doesn't even call the electrons in an electron microscope or a linear accelerator betas. The term is reserved for electrons or positrons emitted in a nuclear decay, or generated in a particle collision. (Nuclear binding energies are on the MeV scale and in practice the energies of particle collisions studied in the laboratory are at least on this scale, so in practice the two loose definitions come out about the same.)

Just to tweak the second definition, however, I should note that there's an old nuclear-physics notation in which accelerated electrons (rather than electrons emitted in decay or from a collision) are represented by beta. That is in the shorthand A(b,c)D, representing a reaction in which an accelerated particle b strikes (``scatters off of'' or ``interacts with'' would be the usual terminology) a nucleus A that is stationary in the lab frame. After the reaction, a nucleus D is left behind and particles c fly off. In this notation, which is still used, if b is an electron it may be represented as β-. I haven't spoken with a nuclear physicist lately and it's been a long time since I worked in the field, but I suppose this indicates another context where an electron (or positron, as β+) might be called a beta.

The letter beta happens to be used for something else that comes up frequently in the same context: speed. More precisely, v/c, or velocity magnitude in units of the speed of light, is normally represented by beta. Of course, if you set the value of c to unity, you can just write it v, but sometimes it's useful to make a distinction. The next Greek letter is also used for both a particle and a quantity in relativistic dynamics. The photon is represented by a lower-case gamma (γ -- no superscript, as it's uncharged). The Lorentz factor is also represented by a lower-case gamma, and it's closely related to beta: γ = (1-β2. These multiple uses of beta and gamma don't cause any more confusion than any related pair of homonyms do in English. (Offhand, I can't think of a good pair of homonym pairs, but a single pair might be ``dying,'' the present participle of die and dye. Hence the term ``suicide blonde.'')

In 1897, J.J. Thomson demonstrated that cathode rays are charged particles. As late as his Nobel Prize acceptance speech in 1906, he was still referring to these as ``corpuscles.'' The term beta particle came into use as it became clear that cathode rays consisted of the same particles that Rutherford called beta rays (entry follows below), discovered in radioactive decay. The name electron had been proposed by G. Johnstone Stoney in 1891 in the context of chemical bonding, and was eventually adopted as the general name for the particle.

beta rays
Electrons. See the alpha rays entry for a history of this term. In nuclear physics, an electron may be represented by the symbol e- or β-. Its antiparticle (the positron) may be represented by e+ or β+.

Alpha, beta, and gamma rays, and neutrons, are the most common kinds of particle radiated by naturally-occurring radioactive isotopes (a/k/a radioisotopes). Those radioisotopes that have half-lives shorter than hundreds of millions of years (most of them, in other words) occur as part of the decay chains originating in very long-lived radioisotopes of heavy nuclei. Heavy nuclei generally have an excess of neutrons relative to lighter nuclei (see this B entry). Hence, alpha decay of heavy nuclei tends to yield neutron-rich lighter nuclei, and these tend to convert a neutron to a proton by beta decay, or just spit out a neutron. This simple picture of nuclear stability can be understood in terms of an essentially classical liquid-drop model.

Detail mostly irrelevant to this case: The simplest nonclassical (i.e., essentially quantum mechanical) correction is a pairing energy. The pairing energy is normally included in ``The Liquid-Drop Model.'' For large nuclei it is a fractionally small contribution to the total nuclear binding energy, but it alternates sign with the parity of the atomic mass number A. Hence, it can be a significant determinant of the relative stability of the isotopes of a given element. Since the parity of A is unchanged by alpha, beta, and gamma decays, however, it is a minor consideration here.

The binding energy of a nucleus is ultimately determined by the quantum mechanics of the interaction of its component nucleons. The simplest quantum-mechanical treatment of this problem (beyond pairing energy) is the shell model, in which the mutual interaction is dealt with in a mean-field kind of way: the nuclei are assumed to collectively define a potential well (typically approximated as a harmonic oscillator or a constant-depth spherical potential well, plus some spin-dependent corrections).

The shell model (or models, if you like) produces a fine structure in nuclear binding energy that is somewhat reminiscent of the structure of ionization energy as a function of atomic number. There are a set of ``magic numbers'' that are the nuclear analogues of filled shells in chemistry. When the number of neutrons or protons equals one of these magic numbers, the nucleus is unusually stable. (Doubly so for ``doubly magic'' nuclei, where both neutron number N and proton number [i.e. atomic number Z] are magic -- not necessarily, or even usually, the same magic number.) Thus, a decay that yields an unstable nucleus may yield one that has an excess of protons rather than neutrons. Nuclei with an excess of positive charge may decay by emitting a positron, but there are other mechanisms that are more common: emission of an alpha particle and electron capture (EC).

betreffend. German: `concerning.'

Better red than dead.
[Manchester United Club Emblem]

Better red than dead.
Bertrand Russell, who was not in any way that I am aware of a Mancunian, was a highly revered reprobate (there's a connection) who said in 1958 that if ``no alternative remains except Communist domination or the extinction of the human race, the former alternative is the lesser of the two evils.'' This sentiment was epitomized, I don't know by whom, as ``Better red than dead.''

The phrase has subsequently been used ironically to suggest extreme loyalty to soccer teams (``football clubs'') whose team color is red. One example is Portadown FC (``the Ports''), in the Irish Premier League of Northern Ireland. That team's best-known fanzine, a satirical item, is (or perhaps was) ``Better Red Than Dead.'' The first volume was issued during the 1992-93 season, but the (fanzine) website was abandoned when I checked in 2007.

For many years (and also as I write in 2007), the most prominent red team in English soccer was Manchester United, and it's in reference to that team that I have usually encountered the jocular allusion, but that might be a local fluctuation. In 2003, 59-year-old Paul Warburton, a lifelong Manchester City fan (team color blue) was suffering from chronic lymphatic leukemia. His younger brother Martin, a United fan, agreed to a stem-cell transplant that might save Paul's life after Paul agreed in writing to a number of conditions all related to his renunciation of the Blues to become a faithful United fan. No word on enforcement provisions. (See, moreover, Paul's handwritten codicil above his signature.) Here's the story as reported in the Telegraph, under the title ``Better Red Than Dead.'' The story was also reported (by various other news sources) under the titles ``Life-Saving Goal,'' ``Brother's Pact with Red Devil,'' and ``Blue Blood Accepts Red Cell-Out.''

Another tenuous Russell-Manchester connection: Wittgenstein was an engineering student (aeronautics) at Manchester before he went to Cambridge in 1911 to study mathematical logic under Russell. In 1964, Stanley Reynolds published Better Dead Than Red. It wasn't about soccer.

betting on the come
A term used in more than one gambling game.

In craps, to bet on the come is to make a bet on the coming-out roll. (On a casino table for craps, such bets are placed on a portion of the felt that's called the come bar.)

In poker, to bet on the come is to play a bad hand in hopes that cards will come that make it a better hand. I suppose there is a metaphysical distinction between this and a half-hearted bluff. The sense of the expression has been extended metaphorically to taking a hopeful risk in general.

A blonde high school student in the Archie comic series! Best friends with brunette Veronica! Unlike Archie, Jughead, and Veronica, she didn't have a well-known web database program (now obsolete) named after her!

A good-looking woman. Slang popularized or whatever in the movie ``Clueless.'' See the Baldwin entry for more of the irrelevant details. Nothing for Steinway?

Betty-Lou's Gettin' Out Tonight!
She was bad --
Her momma got mad,
But now her momma says it's aw-alright.

Biker Enforcement Unit. Name given in 2002 to a part of the Ontario Provincial Police charged with the task of combating biker gangs that are believed to control the illegal drug business. This isn't your junior entrepreneur with his cell phone and dirt bike -- these bikes are motorized!

Quebec has the same problem. If they designate a special police unit for the problem, it probably won't be called BEU, because the whole point of using French is to be different from English, so the acronyms have be different even if it requires an unnatural renaming. Hmmm. It appears there's another reason. In Quebec French, beu is a rude word for a police officer, like `pig' in English.

US truckers use an unflattering species-shifted expression for state police (especially Ohio State Police, I suspect). A US trucker in Quebec (I think this is allowed under NAFTA) could modify this expression to a more effective pun: ``Smokey the Beu.''

A derogatory term, in France, for a French-born offspring or descendant of a North African immigrant. I haven't seen an etymology, but possibly it's a reference to skin color, since beur has the same pronunciation as beurre, `butter.' Cf. jeunes des banlieues. See also BEU. (And regarding that: no, I can't translate ``junior entrepreneurs'' into French, though if I could it would definitely be jeunes entrepreneurs.)

A derogatory term for an EU bureaucrat. Within seconds of coining this useful word, I googled to see how it's been catching on. I was dismayed to find that most instances of the word are still misspellings of bureaucrat by people who meant to write bureaucrat. These people don't seem to realize: a beureaucrat is a haughty, arbitrary, unelected, minor yet locally powerful government functionary whose unreasonable decisions cannot be appealed, whereas-- oh, never mind.

beurre de caramel
French for `caramel butter.' I've only tried it once, in the 1960's. My parents and I bought it in Montreal. We expected it to be similar to dulce de leche, (q.v.) which it was, though the appearance was a bit more glassine than what we had been used to.

The latter, whose name literally means `milk sweet' or `milk candy,' is popular in Latin America, especially Argentina (where I spent my formative dulce de leche-eating years) and neighboring countries. Dulce de leche has a consistency like cold molasses (or a warm caramel candy), but a matte appearance like light brown clay. It wasn't readily available when we moved to the US. We would make our own by pressure-cooking unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk, but we stopped that after the explosion.

Battery Electric Vehicle. Of course it's a ``zero emission vehicle'' (ZEV). Between trips to the bathroom, even I make no noxious gas emissions. But you don't want to visit the county with the hog farms or the district with the rendering plant. Similarly, how low are the effective emissions that should be charged to a BEV depends on the efficiency of the plants that generate the electricity that (somewhat inefficiently) charges the batteries that (somewhat inefficiently) run the electric vehicle's motors that (sometimes wildly inefficiently) accomplish the purposes you set out to achieve when you got in the car. I like to believe that people recognize this (and also understand that manufacturing things like batteries requires resources and contributes a little bit to emissions), but I'm fooling myself.


Billion Electron Volts (eV). Now rare, at least partly because of the billion ambiguity (109 in the US and some other places, 1012 in others, where ``milliard'' or something similar is sometimes used). GeV is now preferred.

Billions-of-Electron-Volts synchroTRON. A weak-focusing proton synchrotron at LBNL, built in the 1950's -- its first incarnation began operation in 1954. It was meant to achieve an energy sufficient to generate antiprotons -- something in excess of 6 GeV -- and it in fact reached proton energies of 6.2 GeV. As hoped, the antiproton was found there in 1955, leading to the 1960 Nobel Prize for physics being shared by LBNL researchers Emilio Segrè and Owen Chamberlain.

As noted in the BeV entry, ``Bev'' is ambiguous on account of the two senses of billion. There was no ambiguity about the meaning in this instance. For one thing, it was an American machine, so American ``billion'' was understood. For another, the technology did not exist at the time to achieve energies of 1012 eV. The first machine to come close to that energy was the Tevatron at Fermilab, which first achieved 980 GeV (i.e., 0.98 TeV) proton energies in March 2001.

Black (American) English Vernacular. Wow! Suddenly no one speaks BEV anymore! And a new dialect has appeared virtually out of nowhere: AAVE.

Be yourself.
This is the kind of advice that is so obviously stupid that no one ever bothers to contradict those who give it. No one takes this advice literally, but those who claim to take it probably understand it to mean ``be the person you wish you were, instead of the cowardly simp you really are.''

bezüglich. German: `with reference to.'

Bézier curve
Curve class used to describe contours in Adobe's PostScript and hinted fonts.

German, `district.'

Bayerische Flugzeugwerke. `Bavarian Aircraft Works.' Pre-WW2 name of the Messerschmitt company. Some of their models are referred to variously as e.g. Bf 109, Messerschmitt Bf 109, or Me 109.

Behavior-Function. Generic class of models for physical processes and engineering mechanisms.

Big. An acronym prefix (as in BFD), apparently less common as a free-standing adjective (i.e., as a predicate).


Black Figure. Refers to one of two distinctive kinds of decorated ceramic of Attica (the Athens area) in the Classical period (up to the conquests of Alexander). The other kind is red figure (RF). Both are described at this UPenn page. A longer description at North Park University is illustrated. Neither one is very detailed about the elementary chemistry. This page on sculpture and ceramics is heavily illustrated and includes an example of ``bilingual'' (mixed red-figure and black-figure decoration) vase. Since sculpture is (or was called, before the development of artificial polymers) ``plastic art,'' sculpture and ceramics together (which constitute most of the art that has survived) should be ``plastic and ceramic arts,'' which makes it sould like a difference in material. Here's a nice detailed historical article on (modern reconstruction of) ancient pottery technique by Samantha Krukowski at UT Austin.

BoyFriend. Supposedly a personals-ad abbreviation. Interestingly, some use ``boyfriend'' vocatively (i.e., in direct address, as for example ``take out the garbage, boyfriend''). Cf. GF, BFF.

A 1946 novel by John P. Marquand was published under the title Polly Fulton in Britain and B.F.'s Daughter in the US. B.F., Burton Fulton, is a rich and important man, an industrialist, and his daughter Polly is like him in many ways. The story begins on the home front in the middle of WWII. Polly is Mrs. Tom Brett, and Tom is in Washington always doing war work, apparently.

Polly's mom seems to have an obsession with people not wearing enough underclothes. [Fast-forward to 2007: Attention all pop-tarts! Clothing, likewise unclothing, has consequences.] She recalls that when she and B.F. were first married, he ``would never wear any long underclothes either [like Polly], but only those things they used to call B.V.D.'s before everyone talked in initials....''

Great writers always return to important themes. Marquand to people attaching great significance to clothes (see attire, proper), I to initialisms.

And acronyms, of course. At Gray's Point, the ritzy New York suburb where the Fultons settled and Polly grew up, their neighbors include George Tasmin, a member of the NYSE. His son Bob, six years older than Polly, is clerking for a law firm in New York, and one day in chapter 15 they have a discussion at George's club. George wants to talk about the Bulwer Machine Company:

   ``Bulmaco they call it. It makes me tired -- that silly way of shuffling names together. They're having a directors' meeting Wednesday.''
   ``Bulmaco,'' Bob repeated. ``It didn't take much imagination to think that one up.''
   The conversation was making him uneasy.

You're probably wondering why I'm dragging you through this book, eh? Maybe I'm trying to establish the fundamental connection between abbreviation and attire. Nah, too obvious.

At one point, someone comments about Polly: ``Look at her striped dress. She's an American girl.'' It reminds me of my mother's observation, that American women favor abstract patterns for the decoration of their clothes, while floral patterns are much less common here than elsewhere.

Well, there are some spoilers ahead, so I had better tie up the loose ends of the general BF content so you people eager to read this 1946 best-seller can bail out in time. Don't neglect to rent the 1948 movie of the same name, which almost unaccountably gives Marquand credit for writing his novel. The relevant point is that the boyfriend concept is not a human universal. Polly and Bob fall in love, spend a lot of time together for two years and finally become engaged for a couple of days until Polly happens to meet and fall in love with Tom. In all that time, the words boyfriend and girlfriend never occur, and this makes sense. These words refer to a more-or-less romantic relationship that is in some sense open-ended. Boyfriendship and girlfriendship, to coin a couple of truly horrid words, do exist, but in Bob and Polly's milieu, oh, you'll never understand.

To tell you the truth, I'm wondering why the author is dragging us through this book. Or rather, I'm getting an idea why. It seems to be a roman à clef. The idea was to create good characters and bad characters, and have the bad characters advance the ideas that the author dislikes. The go-to bad guy is Tom Brett, the husband that we realized by page two that Polly must unload (my money is on his forcing it by turning out to be having a tawdry affair). So Tom is a snooty critic of English literature and former Columbia University instructor, a second-rater, living off his father-in-law's money, who becomes a central-planner for the FDR administration. TLA's suffer from guilt-by-FDR-association in Marquand's book:

... ``I've got to hear this, because I'm handling him. He's one of those VIP's we sent out there.''
    ``Don't talk in initials,'' Polly said. ``What's a VIP?''
    ``Very Important Personage,'' Tom said. ``We sent a lot of VIP's out there to help in the news roundups. They didn't want Milton much. All those uniformed fascists tried to stop him, but we put it over.''

Well, Tom's affair is in place, and Polly has let go, but things are looking grim for Mrs. Tasmin. She's too good to wander, and she's going to be traveling. I foresee a terrible accident. Only a few pages left... No! What a wimp-out of an ending! Bob just gives Polly some insight (you know -- some of the less-important observations that readers figured out two hundred pages earler), and they part ways as friends. Who needs deep insight about people that don't even exist? This is too depressing; I'm going back to reading old reliable Harlequin Romances. If all I wanted were wishy-washy endings and pointless misery, I'd read nonfiction.

Bright-Field. A mode for TEM in which one uses the objective aperture to image only the ``primary beam.'' That is, one images in the forward direction.

(Domain code for) Burkina Faso. The country used to be called Upper Volta; see Volta for a little historical, geographical, and economic information.

Business Form. This seems rare enough in English; it might be an instance of wasei eigo.

Bachelor ('s degree in) Fine Arts.

Books For Africa. ``We collect, sort, ship and distribute books to children in Africa. That's all we do. Our goal: to end the book famine in Africa.''

Bridge Federation of Africa, Asia & the Middle East. Zone 4 of the WBF until the year 1999 or so, when it fissioned into BFAME (zone 4) and an African Bridge Federation (zone 8). We're talkin' the card game here -- contract bridge.

Bridge Federation of Asia & the Middle East. Zone 4 of the WBF. Cf. BFAAME.

Brute Force and Bloody Ignorance.

Betty Ford Clinic. Oh! The horrors of addiction!.

Broadcast Film Critics Association. ``Welcome to the Broadcast Film Critics Association website, where moviegoers find out what the most prominent film critics in the United States and Canada are saying.'' Formed in 1995, it includes over 80 movie critics who critique on TV or online.

For other film awards, see the AMPAS entry.

Big Deal.

Best Friends Forever. Close GF's.

Sample sentence:

Ever since Mischa Barton started dating Cisco Adler, who previously went out with Kimberly Stewart, Paris Hilton has been going around saying snarky things about Mischa; that's because Kim and Paris are BFFs -- best friends forever.
(From the Chicago Sun-Times Fluff section, March 12, 2006.)

God's Gift to Gossip, Paris Hilton, and those others, are also mentioned at the NYU entry.

Usage note: the BFF term has also been applied to male friends, and there was a 1994 movie with the title ``Lassie: Best Friends Are Forever.''

Big Friendly Giant. Title character of Roald Dahl's The BFG. He needn't have jerked Sarah around for half a dozen pages, making her worry that she was about to be eaten. How ``friendly'' is that? Also, big is a redundant adjective for giant.

Dahl wrote this in a more innocent time, when Big F... Giant did not yet suggest a common intensifier with the odd property of following the adjective it modifies.

B. F. Goodrich Collegiate Inventors Program.

Bald-Faced Hornet.

Bad Frame Indicator. That's the usual careless expansion. Really it's a Bad-Frame Indicator.

Browning Ferris Industry. Call their 800 number and you are informed that they are ``the world's leading handler of solid waste.'' I just got tired of seeing that mysterious ``BFI'' on all those dumpsters. Now my curiosity is sated, and I can sleep better early in the morning.

All honor to me, forbearing from the odious pun!

In the newsletter of a union (UUP) I belonged to recently (20 years ago, actually), I read that BFI was based in Bellevue, Washington (just like SPIE), and was fighting organization by the Teamsters Union.

Business Fixed Investment.

Back Focal Length.

Bonded Film Lubrication.

Buffered FET Logic. Earliest family of GaAs MESFET-based logic, using depletion-mode MESFETs. Input stage resembles NMOS logic with depletion load; output stage uses Schottky diodes for level shifting in a source follower.

Budget and Financial Management.

Budget and Financial Management. I don't know why this entry appears twice. I guess I must just have liked it.

Bye For Now.

Beat Frequency Oscillator. Silly knob on old Hallicrafters.

Ooooo EEEEE oooo! Chatachatachatachata.

Bayonet Fiber Optic Connector.

Bona Fide Occupational Qualification. The bona fides in question here are those of the employer setting the qualification. The legal challenge typically turns on the idea that the OQ is intentionally discriminatory or has discriminatory impact. For example, minimum height requirements for police officers came down (sorry) when challenged as unfairly discriminating against Hispanic applicants. Written exams for hiring and promotion of fire fighters have been challenged as discriminatory, etc.

I'm sure that Gloria Steinem had something clever to say about this, but it might be a shade too racy for us.

Birmingham (Alabam') Figure Skating Club.

Bank of the Federated States of Micronesia (.fm).

Big F-in' Spatula 9000. A gun from Spatula City.

Bundesamt für Verfassungschutz. `[German] Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.'

(Domain name code for) Bulgaria. Ariadne, ``The European and Mediterranean link resource for Research, Science and Culture,'' has information.

Rec.Travel offers some links.

I met a guy called Nico who claims he's from northern Greece. ``Salonika?'' ``Further north than that.'' I forgot to ask if he wasn't really from Bulgaria.

Netwizards, based in Miami, Florida, spammed me with an email return address in the .bg TLD (ccTLD), but the remove link is to a mailbox in the .jp TLD. They've got me surrounded.


Bad Guy.

Bellum Gallicum or De Bello Gallico. Latin titles that might be styled `The Gallic War' or `On the Gallic War,' resp., in modern usage. Both are used as title for a self-promoting book by Julius Caesar. Indeed, both are used in this glossary (see the gringo entry and Warrington).

It's probably worth pointing out that in ancient times, books often did not have formal titles. (But they might; see sittybus, mentioned at the sillybus entry.) The books of the Old Testament instance some common ways in which books came to be named. The books of the pentateuch were called (and are called, in Hebrew) by the first word of their texts. Hence the first book is ``Bereshit'' (pronounced like English ``beret sheet''), Hebrew for `in the beginning,' which is the first word of the book. [A brief interlude:

The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. "Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?" he asked.

``Begin at the beginning,'' the King said gravely, ``and go on till you come to the end: then stop.''

End of brief interlude.]

The Greek translators called it Genesis, `origin, creation,' which is a summary of the subject matter rather than the best translation of bereshit. (The first words of the Septuagint are En archê.) The title Genesis was preserved in Latin and most European languages. (It may be that the division into five books dates to no earlier than the Septuagint.)

Other O.T. books, particularly those of the prophets, were and are known by their authors' names. One book that is unusual in other ways was written by a self-identified Kohelet. This word's translation is uncertain, and it might be a name or a title. One oddity is that the word is morphologically female but construed male. From the root (i.e., from the three consonants) the word must have something to do with an assembly, though it's not directly clear whether it refers to someone who attends or leads the assembly, and it's not clear what kind of assembly it is. The Septuagint interprets the word as ekklêsiastês, a `member of an assembly' (although the author claims to have ruled in Jerusalem). The Greek word was Latinized straightforwardly to Ecclesiastes. Some modern translations, for example the NRSV, prefer to translate Kohelet as `Teacher.'

Ancient Latin books (i.e. scrolls) don't seem to have been any more likely to have names than do modern memoranda. Another famous Latin work with various forms of title is Satyricon or Satyrica (see the author's entry, Petronius, for more uncertainty).

When I feel up to it, I'll try to explain the status quaestionis of the Suda or Suida, a much later (Byzantine) Greek work whose title, or maybe that's the author's name, is uncertain.

The oldest surviving German book is a translation of a Latin collection of synonyms. (``German'' here means a continental West Germanic predecessor of modern German. This particular book is in something like Alemannic.) The work was probably written sometime between 765 and 775, probably in the monastery school at Fulda. The synonyms are ordered alphabetically, and the book is known as Der Abrogans, after the first word (`gentle, humble').

BlueGrass. I've only seen the abbreviation in entertainment communications, not garden care.

Let me take this opportunity to say that the banjo is DURN LOUD INSTR'MINT!

Maybe you heard ``Bee-Gee.''

Bowling Green (student or team or team member). This sounds dangerously similar to ``Bee-Gee.'' Have they made contingency plans to evacuate in case of concert?

Breakup Girl! A comic-strip superheroine!

Burning Ground.

Bad Golfers Association. Proclaim it: ``Bad but Proud!'' Buy their stuff, it's bound to be more hip than that of the PGA.

Ball Grid Array. A surface-mount package. Common subtypes distinguished are CBGA, PBGA and TBGA. Click on this search for images.

The British Gliding Association. ``Gliding in the UK is not controlled directly by the usual governing body (The Civil Aviation Authority), but by its own administration'' -- the BGA.

BioGeochemical Cycle.

BubbleGum Crisis. An anime series.

Boys and Girls Clubs of America. (No apostrophe in name. ``did you know? 29% of Club members are 11-13 years of age.'') The organization traces its origins to 1860, when several female persons in Hartford, Connecticut decided that ``boys who roamed the streets should have a positive alternative.'' Over time this got increasingly organized. You young folks may find this hard to believe, but once upon a time stickball would just spontaneously erupt in empty lots, no preparation necessary. Now, of course, you need a little league with uniforms, coaches, a schedule, an organization chart, a platoon of soccer parents in all-terrain buses -- the whole disaster. In 1956, the Boys Clubs of America received a charter from the US Congress.

In 1990, they apparently decided that girls who roamed the streets should also have a positive alternative, and the more inclusive current name was adopted. Congress granted a new charter.

In 2001, Kelly Jones, Miss Alabama for that year, made B&GCA her platform. Good move -- Denby Dung, Miss Hawaii, was on the flimsy platform of ``The Music Effect.'' Everyone is agreed that music has effects, but ``the'' music effect that has been flogged for a few years is the Mozart Effect, at best a statistical fluke in a small experiment, completely discredited by further research, an urban legend with a known author. Too bad. Unlike most of the others, she was kinda cute. Oh, here's a ditzy doozy: Meranda Hafford, Miss Maine; platform: D.A.R.E. Miss New Mexico, from Roswell, was ``promoting US Citizenship.'' (Roswell is known for aliens.) I guess she was taking a cross-that-bridge-when-I-get-there approach to the Miss World competition. (Miss Washington was promoting aging in America. Ideological turf battle alert.) A couple of contestants were promoting good decision making. They needed to take their own advice. Did you know that there's a town in Ohio called Dublin? This stuff is as treacly as a presidential address. Remember President Ford's WIN? Miss Virginia's platform was B.A.S.E.

Miss Kentucky ran on the NYN platform, but America wasn't ready by 2001 for a Miss America named Monica. Emily Foster, Miss Georgia 2001, had a platform of Character Education. That only suggests character actors. I guess it passes muster, but not using a standard name like Emily -- that cost her.

Whenever I work on an entry like this, a little voice in my head screams ``INSIPID!! You have to point out that it's insipid!!!!!'' And I tell the little voice -- ``no, that's too obvious.''

Billion Gallons per Day. The traditional unit gallon is a give-away that we're talking American billions -- thousand millions. For something a bit more informative, see the gallons-per-day entry gpd.

Bovine Growth Hormone. The controversy is at rBGH.

Buffalo General Hospital. Teaching hospital affiliated with the University at Buffalo (UB).

Bromocriptine Growth Hormone (GH) Test. Measures rise in GH following oral administration of bromocriptine. Since bromocriptine acts on D2 receptors in competition with the schizophrenia drug haloperidol, haloperidol dosing reduces the GH rise, and the disappearance of GH rise can be interpreted as saturation of the D2 receptors by haloperidol.

Blue and Gold Illustrated. For news about Notre Dame football and also basketball.

Bhatnager, Gross and Krook (equation). A simplified version of the Boltzmann equation (BE) in which the collision integral is replaced by a relaxation-time approximation. Introduced in the same year by these authors [in Phys. Rev., 94, 511 (1954) and by Walender (vide BGK-W)].

This equation is much closer to the equation that semiconductor transport researchers usually call the ``Boltzmann equation.''

Another name for BGK equation, introduced by P. Walender in Arkiv. Fysik., 7, 507 (1954).

Boost Graph Library.

(US) Board on Geographic Names.

Ironically for an entity whose business is to standardize names, the BGN -- or its authority -- has had its name changed a number of times. It was originally founded with the name it has currently, but from 1906 to 1934 it was officially the US Geographic Board. In 1934 it was abolished and its functions were transferred to the Department of the Interior, which assigned those to a newly established Division of Geographic Names and an Advisory Committee on Geographic Names to perform those functions. (The board had accumulated technical responsibilities over time. I suspect that the move to the DoI in many cases meant hanging a new DoI shingle on the old offices rather than dispersing the talent and hiring newbies, although I've seen that approach too.) At the end of 1935 the DoI consolidated the Division and the Committee to form a new U.S. Board on Geographic Names.

All the preceding changes were made by executive order or DoI order. In 1947, the BGN was reorganized by an act of Congress. For more detail, see this page in the National Archives.

An example of the BGN's early arrogance can be found at the Pgh entry. Nowadays the BGN claims to cooperate with local authorities, and to some extent I'm sure it does.

BackGround Noise.



Border Gateway Protocol.

BandGap Reduction.


Biblical Greek Mailing List. ``B-Greek is a mailing list for discussing the Greek text and language of the Bible. Anyone interested in New Testament Studies is invited to subscribe, but the list assumes a working knowledge of Biblical Greek.

B-Greek was started by David Marotta at the Center for Christian Study, an independent Christian ministry at the University of Virginia. In 1998, David asked to step down as list owner. We are grateful to David for his vision of a forum where the Greek text and language of the Bible are discussed in detail by an eclectic group of beginning students and veteran teachers, laymen and clergy, conservatives and liberals, earnest inquirers and academic scholars -- all equally committed to probing the Biblical text in the original Koine, and jointly exploring the mysteries and probabilities of Biblical Greek morphology and syntax. If you are interested in what the New Testament or Septuagint says in the original Greek, and if you can appreciate and learn from people who aren't just like you, then B-Greek is the place to be!''

British Geriatric Society.

Business Group Services.

Bowling Green State University.

Ben Gurion University of the Negev. David Ben Gurion was a founder and the first president of Israel. (Albert Einstein was offered the job of president first, but everybody was relieved that he turned it down.)


Berlin Griechische Urkunden. Full title: Ägyptische Urkunden aus den königlichen Museen zu Berlin herausgegeben von der Generalverwaltung: Griechische Urkunden. `Egyptian documents [on papyrus] from the royal museums at Berlin, published by the general administration: Greek [language] documents.' Cf. BKT.

BGU is the longest-running serial dedicated exclusively to papyrology. The first fascicle of its first volume appeared in 1892. Cf. MPER.

Burning Ground (BG) Upgrade.

Billion Gallons per Year. American billions. Not as much as you'd think; see the gallons-per-day entry gpd.

(Domain name code for) Bahrain. Bahrain is pronounced bah-Khreyn in English. Khreyn is a transliteration of the Russian for `horseradish.' I expect that you will find all of this enlightenment quite -- what? -- useful?

Furthermore, the very oldest CP members, the prunes who joined before 1905 or thereabouts, were sometimes known in the old Soviet Union as ``old horseradish.'' This was not necessarily affectionate. Time was, veterans who had fought in the Great Patriotic War (WWII) could cut ahead in the queue. That was no minor privilege, as the state distribution center would run out of anything good before the queue ran out.

``Beverly Hills 90210.'' A soap opera. Modern Art, TV and psychopathology all have self-absorption in common.

Black Hole.

Bohrium. Atomic number 107.

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

Buried Heterostructure.

Bibliography of the History of Art.

British Humanist Association. People who aren't planning to go to heaven.

Butylated HydroxyAnisole. A food preservative. Like BHT, an antioxidant in fats and dry cereals.
                  C(CH )
                 /    ³ ³
          / ___ \
H CO_____/ /   \ \_____OH
 ³       \ \___/ /

Many studies indicate that it's safe. I know of one study (a 1982 Japanese study of cancer in rats) that indicates otherwise; perhaps that's to be expected on statistical grounds. I say, if it doesn't taste good enough to glop onto junk food, it's probably safer than granola.


Bulletin d'histoire achéménide. A journal of the history of the Near East and Central Asia under the Achaemenids, Persian kings from the middle of the sixth c. BCE to 330 BCE.

BHAch does not appear on an especially regular schedule. Volume I appeared during 1997. BHAch II, covering the period autumn 1997 to autumn 2000, appeared in Spring 2001. It's an analytic bibliography.

Blond hair, blue eyes, or black hair, brown eyes. Or maybe something else. Personals abbreviation meaning `not a deep thinker.'

Bridgeport Hydraulic Company.

Bootstrap Hybrid Decoding. A kind of serial decoding, introduced in 1971 by J..., I forget.

Buffered HydroFluoric (HF) acid. Useful in silicon-based (which is most of) microelectronics manufacture; see BOE.

Bernard-Henri Lévy. (Note regarding the name: There's an obscure French law that says if there's a ``Lévy'' anywhere in your name, then there must also be a hyphen, and at least one y must be converted to an i. This raises mildly interesting logical dilemmas if the only y in your name is in Lévy itself. See how this can cause international problems at the OWI entry.)

BHL is a stylish variant on the standard-issue public-intellectual idiot that France produces in abundance and American academics celebrate. His prose is pleasant, if you can stomach the stupidity.

Look, that's all you need to know now. I'll write up the reasons when I can find the time.

Actually, BHL is usually described as a philosopher, journalist, and foo, where foo varies but has included film-maker. If he were also a businessman, he'd be France's Hugh Hefner.

Black History Month. February... in the US. So really it's not a month so much as a sequence of spacetime regions. But BHSTRs doesn't have the same ring.

Body and Hoist Manufacturers Division. ``Operating under the NTEA umbrella since 1978.''

Bayerisches Hochschulnetz. Bavarian Higher-education Net.

Brinell Hardness Number. The BHN is a measure of the hardness of a material. You might then ask: what precisely is the hardness of a material? The answer is, it's the sort of property that's described by the BHN, not inconsistent with the conventional but imprecise notion of hardness. It's like intelligence: a property that can be quantified in various generally consistent ways, but too complicated as a general phenomenon to admit of a single fundamental definition. Figure it out!

The Brinell hardness number summarizes the result of the Brinell hardness test, in which a hard ball is pressed into a flat surface of the material under test.

Biological Hazard Potential.

Brake HorsePower. ``Brake'' refers to the fact that this is measured by a brake (see prony). In fact, the power that can be braked is the output power that is of interest: it is the part of the power generated by an engine that is available for work (and eventually for braking): the power left over after that consumed internally for keeping the engine moving, and for keeping the engine warm against heat losses to the cooling system. ``Horsepower'' is power measured in units of horsepower (HP). For more on braking, consider the philosophical reflections at the motor vehicle entry.

Informally, the unit horsepower is often called ``horses.'' For irrelevant thoughts on horses, see the hoofbeats entry.

Buried-Heterostructure Quantum-Cascade (laser).

British Horse Society.

Butylated HydroxyToluol. Specifically: 2,6-di-t-butyl-p-cresol. Another food preservative. Like BHA, an antioxidant in fats and dry cereals.
                 C(CH )
                /    ³ ³
         / ___ \
H C_____/ /   \ \_____OH
 ³      \ \___/ /
                 C(CH )
                     ³ ³

Book House Training Centre. Officially the Publishing Training Centre (PTC) at Book House.

You can never have enough words that begin in bh, I always say, especially ones that are accepted by all three major Scrabble dictionaries. BTW, it means `a small whirlwind.'

(Domain name code for) Burundi. South of Rwanda; similar ethnic mess.

Bismuth. Atomic number 83.

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

Bank Indonesia. Indonesian name of the Bank of Indonesia.

Business Information. As in ``BI systems'' -- information technology (IT) applied to business.

Biospecific Interaction Analysis.


Bulletin d'Information archéologique. A publication of IFAO.

(US) Bureau of Indian Affairs.

An alternative form (generally pronounced but not written) of the Spanish word bien. In its standard form, the word is an adverb meaning `well' and, in very slightly technical usage, a noun meaning `good.' The pronunciation of the adverb with a is a facetious affectation, intended to suggest ostentatiously Frenchified speech. (The French cognate of bien, spelled identically, sounds like bian in Spanish pronunciation, though the n is realized as a nasalization of the /a/ rather than being articulated as in English and Spanish.

Twice a year. Same as semiannual. If you mean once every two years, use biennial.

In electronics, bias is the voltage or the sign of the voltage between two terminals of a device. That's a lot less verbose than what I originally wrote, which was this:
In electronics, bias is almost synonymous with voltage or sign of voltage. Voltage, like any potential, is ``arbitrary up to a constant'': only differences in voltage are physically significant within the domain of electronics. In particular, this means that any ``positive voltage'' might be negative in a different, equally accurate description. Of course, in analyzing an electronic circuit or any electromagnetical system, one does select a convenient zero of voltage. (This is no different than selecting a convenient origin for a coordinate system, even though the ``origin'' is arbitrary.) The zero is usually the voltage of a node in the circuit, and that node is called ground (US) or earth (UK).

Thus, in any particular context, ``positive voltage'' is meaningful; it means that the voltage is positive relative to whatever has been chosen as the zero of voltage. That is a statement about voltage differences. This is utterly obvious to anyone who knows anything about electronics, but the explanation would be helpful to a philosopher.

While positive and negative voltage have clear enough meaning for a circuit generally, there are many circumstances where one wants to distinguish positive and negative voltage differences between different terminals of a particular device within the circuit. In this context, one uses the word bias instead of voltage. In other words, voltage is implicitly the voltage relative to ground for the circuit or system; bias is the voltage of one terminal or node of a device relative to another. The term bias voltage is perhaps the more common term for bias when one is referring to the magnitude rather than the sign.

For two-terminal devices with symmetric CV or I-V characteristics, the bias is the voltage or the sign of the voltage between the two terminals, and which bias is positive must obviously be defined in terms of the circuit. Nonlinear two-terminal devices (usually with asymmetric IV characteristics) are called diodes. Most diodes are designed, or at least can function, as rectifiers; they have low impedance with one sign of bias and high impedance with not-too-large bias voltages of the opposite sign (Zener diode again have low impedance at larger negative voltage). For these (i.e., most) diodes, positive bias (more often ``forward bias'') is bias of the sign that turns the device on at low bias. For any diode that is essentially a pn junction, forward bias means p positive relative to n. This might be Vpn > 0 or VD > 0, if the diode is not so far beneath notice that it has its own voltage variable named. (But beware: VD is often the name of the ``turn-on'' voltage of a bipolar transistor.) For bipolar devices with three or more terminals, it is useful and common to speak of particular junctions being forward- or reverse-biased. For every bipolar device, any arrow in the schematic diagram represents the forward-biased current direction of the terminal or pn junction represented.

In many contexts, particularly when one is discussing the operation of an isolated device, there is no distinction in sense between bias and voltage, and the terms are used fairly interchangeably. Actually, in my limited experience, ``voltage'' is more used in school explanations (understandably, since one doesn't want to pile on new terminology all at once).

bias voltage
I already explained that and I'm not going to do it again! See bias! Honestly, you people!


Bulletin of the Institute of Archaeology, University of London.

Backward Indicator Bit. (SS7 acronym.)

Bag In Box. Packaging Industry Abbreviation.

Banque Internationale du Burkina. Abbreviation with periods, and the nonfluent translation ``Bank International of Burkina,'' are traditional in 419 spam. Don't fall for a lexicographically nonstandard scam!

Nickname of politician Benjamin Netanyahu, Likud party leader and Israeli PM from 1996 until defeated for reelection late Spring 1999. (He resigned as party leader after his defeat. He lingered as PM while Labor's Ehud Barak took his time constructing a coalition.) Subsequently he has been a prominent member of a Likud-led government formed by Ariel Sharon. When Sharon bolted to form a new party in 2005 (see below), Bibi became leader of the rump Likud.

Israel has a parliamentary system of government with a unicameral legislature called the Knesset. The membership of the Knesset is fixed at 120 on a traditional basis (that was the size of the knesset gadol, `large' knesset, 2500 years ago; cf. 435). As in Italy and elsewhere that parliament has been split into uncooperative minorities, there was frustration with this system. The idea arose that a stronger executive was the solution, so in the mid-nineties a move was made a small part of the way towards an American-style separation of powers: the PM is now elected in a national poll, separately from the rest of the Knesset. (In the fact of separate election, this somewhat resembles the system of French Fifth Republic. In France, however, the separately elected president holds executive powers independently of parliament, and a prime minister is determined by coalition politics in the parliament. In Israel, the separately elected leader is the PM, and must form a government (a governing coalition in knesset) like any other prime minister. Israel also has a President who is head of state and has only a small, mostly ceremonial role in government.)

After just two elections under the new system (1996, 1999), many Israelis figured they had the worst of both systems (US and parliamentary): by casting a vote for one of the two major-party PM candidates, voters can determine the leader of the next government without voting to give that PM's party a single other seat in Knesset. As a result, there was a decline in the share of seats held by the two major parties (Labor and Likud, which are themselves more like close coalitions of smaller parties). Interestingly, this was thought to have a positive-feedback effect: smaller parties see their interest in the new system, and collectively the smaller parties are now more powerful, making it seem unlikely that the clock would be turned back.

On February 6, 2001, Sharon was elected PM by the largest majority ever. On the day he was sworn in, March 7, Knesset amended the Basic Law (the written constitution) back to something resembling the status quo ante (details in unofficial English translation here). The constitutional change took effect in 2003.

In 2001, Sharon formed a broad-based unity government. In the 2003 elections, Labor (Mapai) lost seats, and Shinui, a new moderate party, took a comparable though smaller number of Knesset seats. (One is reminded of a British SDP, created in early 1981, when the Tories were dominant and Labour was unreformed, though of course the British SDP was never quite as successful.) After the 2003 elections, Sharon put together a coalition of Likud and religious parties.

Sharon, it became increasingly clear, had concluded that negotiations with the Palestinians would continue to be a dead end at best, as they had been for decades. Israel's best option was thus to withdraw unilaterally from most of the territories occupied in 1967 and still under Israeli control, and to consolidate behind a security fence. Such a fence had long separated the Gaza strip from pre-1967 Israel, and most suicide attacks during the intifadahs had originated in the West Bank. Starting in 2003, Sharon aggressively advanced his disengagement plan of withdrawing settlements -- though only from the Gaza strip. In the meantime, the security fence in the West Bank continued to be built. Sharon never articulated his plan with complete candor, partly because to do so would repudiate the negotiated-withdrawal ``Roadmap'' of the ``Quartet'' group. An explicit explanation was also unnecessary because, apart from some West Bank settlers in denial, most people understood the plan. Everyone else understands that after the fence is complete, Jewish settlements outside the fence will be abandoned one way or another.

The majority of Sharon's own party (Likud) always opposed unilateral withdrawal, and most of Sharon's political moves from 2003 to 2005 were directed at pushing through the withdrawal over Likud objections. His in-party opponents demanded that the withdrawal be approved by a vote of party members. The vote was held and Sharon lost it, but he pursued his policy within the Knesset, reorganizing his governing coalition in 2004 into another unity government that included Labor. In the second half of 2005, he resigned from Likud and created a new centrist party called Kadima (`forward'). New Knesset elections were scheduled for March 28, 2006, and it looked like Kadima would be in a strong position to form the next government and probably complete Sharon's plan. Polls showed Kadima drawing its strength mostly at the expense of Likud, and becoming the new dominant party in Knesset, though with fewer seats (polling between 31 and 39) than Likud held in the existing Knesset (40).

In December 2005, Sharon suffered a minor stroke, and on January 4, 2006, he suffered a massive stroke that left him in a coma. Under the nominally provisional leadership of Ehud Olmert, polls showed Kadima winning only slightly fewer seats.

BIlingualism & BIculturalism.

The word Bible is derived from the Greek tà biblía which translates the Hebrew ha-sefarim; the phrases mean `the books.'

BIBLiographic IDentification. System for identifying contributions in serials and books - ISO 9115.


Bibliographie analytique
Bibliographie analytique de l'Afrique antique. Originally published as a supplement to the journal BAA.

Bibliography to most people is a count noun (in a couple of senses) referring to a list of written works (usually published ones). Bibliographies are common tools of scholarly and scholastic research, and some bibliographies are published as works or periodicals entire in themselves. (See, for examples, BHA and Bibliographie analytique. Just to top it off, have a look at Archibald MacLeish: A Selectively Annotated Bibliography by Helen E. Ellis and Bernard A. Drabeck with Margaret E.C. Howland (1995).) Words like discography and filmography have been modeled on bibliography.

Naturally, that's not what I want to write about. I want to write about the uncountable noun bibliography, which refers not -- or not mainly -- to the creation of bibliographies, but to a scholarly activity that is only marginally related to the creation of bibliographies. This other kind of bibliography is now more often called ``textual criticism.'' It is the activity of attempting to retrieve the most accurate possible text of a work, or (if the author or others modified it) to construct an accurate revision history of a work.

Whew! Well started is half done, they say, so I shouldn't have but a couple of paragraphs to go once I track down the various books I want to cite on this topic. Well, here's something to mention that's already on the web, on ``The Little Professor blog for December 17, 2007. (Alright, it was on the web. Apparently typepad only archives the last week or so of the month for this blog.) In a blog entry entitled ``Profession 2007: `Evaluating Scholarship for Tenure and Promotion','' the blogger (a Victorianist in the English department at Syracuse or some other college in upstate New York) makes ``some scattered observations about'' the named report and the comments on it.

``Disciplinary Societies and Evaluating Scholarship: A View from History'': Stanley N. Katz rightly expresses bafflement that ``historical editing and bibliography'' (91) have been consistently devalued at RI campuses. The editors and bibliographers are frequently responsible for making our research possible in the first place! Moreover, even with the advent of new software and other technologies, editing and bibliography is time-consuming, exhausting labor (especially if the editor in question is working with manuscripts).

Lack of appreciation for their crucial hard work is a perennial complaint of bibliographers, one which I can easily document back to the late 1950's. Great! I'm finally making progress on this entry. Now I only have three or four more paragraphs to go.

Bounded Input Bounded Output. A kind of stability in an input-output mapping: bounded inputs yield bounded outputs. In the simple idealization of instantaneous response (no convolution) this simply means that the transfer function has discontinuities that are at most jump discontinuities, and that there is an upper bound on the magnitude of the discontinuities. Cf. the stronger stability type CICO.

Bangkok InterBank-Offered Rate.


Bibliotheca Orientalia. `Library of Oriental [things].' A journal published in Leiden. In most western European languages, the word meaning `library' is something like biblioteca and the cognate of the English word library means bookstore. If this amuses, you'll want to visit the faux ami entry.

British Isles Baton Twirling Association. Go to their homepage and buy something. For less meretricious organizations (including the British Isles Majorette Association BIMA), see the majorette entry.

Bic, BiC
A brand of pens and other disposable products manufactured by a company founded by Baron Marcel Bich and Édouard Buffard in 1945. The company went public in 1958, but the Bich family still has a controlling interest. The company was originally called la Société PPA (for Porte-plume, Porte-mines et Accessoires), but in 1953 became Société BiC.

This French Wikipédia page implies that Bich was shortened to BiC because the latter is easily identifiable and pronounceable in all languages. That's certainly somewhat plausible. The first foreign market entered was Italy (1954), where the two spellings would have to be regarded as equivalent, and closed syllables ending in /k/ are not part of the standard dialect, and are difficult for many Italians to pronounce. The second foreign market entered was Brazil (1956), where Bic and Bich are again both strange but pronounceable. Bich would likely have been pronounced as in French. In 1957 BiC expanded sales to the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Scandinavia, and in 1958 to the US and the Middle East. I have read in one of my books on the history of pens that Baron Bich decided to market as Bic upon being informed of how ``Bich'' would be pronounced and understood in English. Bic products are now marketed in more than 162 countries (according to the same wiki page).

Book Industry Communication.

Bronx Irish Catholic. Term is attested in Michael Pearson's Dreaming of Columbus : Boyhood in the Bronx.

Business Information Center. As in The Thomas J. Mahaffey, Jr. Business Information Center at ND.

But I Could Be Wrong.

Broadband InterCarrier Interface. ATM term.

B-ICI Signaling ATM Adaptation Layer.

Bit-Interleaved Coded Modulation.

Logic combining BJT's and CMOS gates. [CMOS logic uses little power or space, but can be slowed by a large output load; BJT's (TTL or ECL logic, in practice) are used for power drive to accelerate speed-critical bottlenecks.] [Pronounced ``by-SEE-moss.''] Compare in-principle more general term BiMOS.

Exponential Technology, a startup planning to roll out PowerPC compatible chips in early 1997, argues that bipolar is not a space hog, and that current conventional BiCMOS fabrication, with bipolar piggybacked on an essentially CMOS fab sequence, does not exploit the full potential of bipolar.


Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies. You want to know which institute of classical studies? Beats me. Flick your Bic and see what happens. ISSN 0951-1253.

Biocular Image Control Unit. Not binocular, but ``biocular.'' It's innovative technology, see? You don't? Okay then, read my lips (as I type the words): military procurement jargon.

Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo. Spanish for `Inter-American Development Bank' (IADB or IDB.)


Twice a day. [Latin: bis in die.]

Often, this shows up on the label as ``take one tablet twice a day.'' This is easy the first time, but I recommend taking a different pill the second time than the first time. The pill you took once already is in no condition to be taken again.

bidding conventions in bridge
Bidding conventions in bridge are calls intended as communications rather than as proposed contracts. For your convenience, information about bidding conventions in contract bridge is scattered alphabetically all over this glossary. See (As you may have gathered, this list is under construction.)

bidding in bridge
The four players in a bridge game form two teams (called partnerships). In ordinary life, that would mean that three players gang up on one, but this is a card game, so it's two on two. The two players in a partnership face each other at the table (North and South, or East and West; see contract bridge entry if this makes no sense). This is congenial, but they're not supposed to cup their hands and whisper to each other. After the cards are dealt, there follows a ceremony known as bidding. Going clockwise around the table (counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere) (just kidding), each player makes a call. The call may be a pass or a bid. (A bid may be a regular bid, a double, or a redouble. In some ways of speaking, a ``regular bid'' is just called a bid, and doubling or redoubling is not.)

A regular bid consists of a natural number from one to seven and ``a suit.'' A suit in this context is clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades, or no-trump. Regular bids are ordered: a higher number always corresponds to a higher bid, and if the numbers are the same, then the bid with the higher-ranking suit is the higher bid (in the previous sentence, the suits are listed in order of increasing rank).

If all four players pass after the deal, there is a new deal. If there is a bid in the first go-round, then bidding continues until three successive players pass, which means that you can't raise your own bid.

A player may double if the last bid was a regular bid by an opposing player, and may redouble if the last bid was a double by an opposing player. (When 7 no-trump is redoubled, bidding ends immediately and everyone chants.)

This entry is actually something of a mock-up, inserted so that other entries with links to it have an it to link to. It's not finished, in other words.

bidding systems in bridge
For your convenience, information about bidding systems in contract bridge is scattered alphabetically all over this glossary. See (As you may have gathered, this list is under construction.)

A low oblong ceramic sink with plumbing that sprays water upwards. Used in Europe, virtually unknown in the US, Crocodile Dundee notwithstanding. This may reflect the frequency with which people once took baths.

For some reason, the bidet is used principally by women. I guess that's because it's about the right size to serve as a baby's bath. Yeah, that's it.

Bath Information and Data Services. I think this is ``Bath'' as in Bath, England.

Recent archaeological research suggests that the baths at Bath were not Roman but Celtic. Quite surprising if true.

Something for holding a human corpse -- either a coffin or a raised stand for laying a body or an occupied coffin. A word of Germanic origin, like beer. There's a well-known Japanese proverb near the end of the drunk entry that might best be spoken in English as

First the man takes a beer,
then the beer takes a beer,
then the bier takes the man.

For those of you studying the plain-text print-out version (or just carrying it around for the exercise), ``drunk entry'' above is the specific entry for the term drunk (high-lighted as a link in hypertext); more than one entry seems to have been written under the influence of liquid inspiration.

German word for `beer.' Yes -- a cognate, like Italian birra. An important word in any language.

Behavior Integrated Entity Relationship (model). A data model described in ``A Methodology for Computer Modeling of Information Systems Based on the Extended Entity Relationship Model BIER'' by Christian Gierlinger, A. Min Tjoa and Roland R. Wagner, all of FAW in Austria. The notes are on pp. 566-584 of an volume described at the NLC entry.

Banded Iron Formation. Sedimentary iron deposits in the form of finely layered alternations of cherty silica and an iron mineral, typically hematite, magnetite, or siderite.

Battery InFormation. An AML object or method. (That's right: an object-oriented machine language. When your machine is virtual, it can do virtually anything with ease.)

Beam-Induced Fluorescence.


Bulletin de l'Institut français d'archéologie orientale. `Bulletin of the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology [IFAO].'

BIdirectional Field-Effect Transistor (vide FET).

B... In the F... Forest Yourself. The ellipses are not for the sake of discretion; I simply forgot. I'm tempted to leave the entry in this intriguing general form. OTOH, I'm also tempted to find any excuse to chat with the attractive woman who told me the expansion, so I'll probably find out pretty quick. It's ``Bathroom In the Forest For You.''

Looks like my memory was alcohol-impaired. Maybe my judgment was impaired too. I better see her again as soon as possible to learn some more travelling-with-children acronyms and to confirm the accuracy of my recollection that she's one hot babe.

(Yes, my selfless devotion to this glossary is the stuff of legend.)


Bolletino dell'Istituto di Filologia greca dell'Università di Padova.

Biodiversidad en Galicia. The acronym BIGA apparently occurs primarily as part of the name of Asociación BIGA and its Bóletin BIGA (ISSN 1886-4546).

A word that is technically a barbarism, since it combines Latin and Greek roots: Latin bi- (`twice, double') and Greek gamos (`mate'). The i in bi- is usually long in English, particularly when stressed, so the standard short-i pronunciation of the bi- in bigamy is exceptional. It improves the pun in ``Big Love,'' title of a 2006 TV series about a polygamist and his wives. If that goes into French syndication, the title translation may be interesting.

The word bigamy itself entered English in the thirteenth century from Old French, in the form bigame (< medieval Latin bigamus), without too much legal baggage. Besides the conventional sense they have today, bigame and the modern form bigamy also had the meaning in Ecclesiastical Law of marrying a second time, possibly legally (typically after the death of one's first spouse, since the Catholic Church did not countenance divorce). That is not to say that whether a second marriage was contracted legally or not was insignificant. Until the reign of William III, bigamy in Christian England was punishable by death. Of course, as Anne Boleyn and many others discovered, having a spouse who can't get a divorce may not be less fatal.

Just to be slightly technical, bigamy is the name of the crime in which a person already legally married contracts a second marriage (in a jurisdiction where the first marriage is recognized). There is no need to define separate crimes for differing degrees of polygamy or oligogamy -- tri- or (preferably, I think) ter-gamy, quadrigamy, etc. -- since each subsequent marriage contracted during a valid first marriage is already a distinct individual crime of bigamy. For what to do when charged, see trigamy defense. For some egregious instances of modern bigamy, look under McBride.

If you want to make a distinction, the state of holy, or unholy, or any-remaining-optionsly matrimony between one man and two women is bigyny, and a similar arrangement between one woman and two men is biandry. Actually, these words (and the nonbarbaric di- versions) don't exist (polygamy, polygyny, and polyandry do), but I created them to make a point. There was a time when it was needless to specify that marriage involving one man and two women meant two marriages -- each involving the man and one of the women. When one recognizes, as some jurisdictions do, the possibility of two persons of the same sex being legally married, it becomes possible for any three individuals (above a certain age of consent, for now) to contract three distinct marriages. This gives rise to interesting possibilities. For example, if two women marry in a jurisdiction where that is legal, and one of them subsequently marries a man in another jurisdiction where same-sex marriages are not recognized, then the wife in the second marriage might be a bigamist in the first jurisdiction, even though the second marriage was legally entered into. How can the first jurisdiction pretend to accept the legality of marriages performed in the second if they are bigamous in its own? Of course, if the wording of the bigamy statutes carelessly assumed that only persons of different sexes marry, there might be no problem.

Andrew Koppelman's Same Sex, Different States (Yale U.P., 2006), has something to say about the important difficulties posed in the preceding paragraph. (I'll summarize to the glossary if I ever have the time to read and digest this. Pending that, you might as well know that there's a relevant book.)

The Bwindi-Impenetrable Great Ape ProjEct.

Big Bang
A major event, such as
  • The moment when our universe came into being, roughly speaking. This occurred about fifteen billion years ago.
  • The deregulation of the London Stock Exchange (LSE). This occurred on October 27, 1986. On that day fixed brokerage commissions ended and the metaphorical wall separating brokers from market makers in securities fell. A unique supervisory system made up principally of self-regulatory industry groups will got underway at the same time. (The corresponding event on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) took place on May 1, 1975, and was known as May Day. From all reports, the subsequent months felt like MAY-DAY.

Big Blue
IBM. Employees were called Beemers. Cf. BMW.

Big Blue Meatball
Pan Am. Died a lingering death, finally pushed into bankruptcy by the bombing of flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1991. (The two suspects in the bombing were long on the FBI's 10-most-wanted list, and the old Pan Am is still in bankruptcy court; various bits and pieces of Lockerbie are still working their way through the legal system.)

In September 1996 a new company started flying under the same name and logos, and even some of the same management, using three A-330's.

adj.: big capitalization. Large corporation. On its way to becoming big it was probably a blue chip for a while. Whether or not it still is one, it will still be called that. (It is one in the sense that it is big-cap, but the colloquial sense of ``blue-chip'' is large, stable and reliably profitable.)

Big Eight

Big Four, big four

Big Love
The title of an American TV series (produced, written, and directed by committees) that began airing in 2006, and the title of a 2001 play by American playwright Charles L. Mee. The play is a reworking of The Suppliant Women of Aeschylus. According to Fiona Mountford's review for the London Evening Standard, ``The bare bones of the plot remain the same: 50 sisters have fled their homeland to escape enforced marriages. Yet now, thanks to Mee, these prototype asylum seekers also have a lack of premium-grade cosmetics to worry about.'' If you like it, you can call it ``whimsical.'' It doesn't seem to be any worse than the usual travesty.

Hmm... 50 daughters of Danaeus... maybe Mee's play gave Tom Hanks and the other producers their idea.

Big Ten
A college athletic conference of eleven big public universities, predominantly in the US Midwest: Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin.

Notice how concentrated these names are in the middle of the alphabet. It's because the states are in the middle of the country. States that are at the extreme ends of the country, like Alaska and Washington, are on the ends of the alphabet. Sure.

In 1998-9, Notre Dame considered an invitation to join, but eventually decided to stay independent.

Big Three, big three

Big Twelve
A college athletic conference of twelve schools in central states: Baylor, Colorado, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech.

Big Two
Marvel Comics and DC Comics!

There are other duopolies!

Of course!

But I've actually seen that duopoly called ``Big Two.'' Another US duopoly that comes to mind is that of Kappa Publishing and Dell (the latter bought out Penny Press some years ago), which together dominate the market for cheap crossword-puzzle magazines. I remember reading an interview with a guy at one of those enterprises, in which the fellow says something like ``we always say that between the two of us we have 99% of the market, but really I don't know of anyone else who is even in the business.''


BIchrome, Hand-Made (ancient pottery). Contrast BIWM.

Bioinformatics Institute of India.

Named after an atoll used to test nuclear weapons, on the reasoning that it too would cause a burst of excitement. A similar transferred sense occurs for blockbuster. The word monokini is a play on the word bikini as a bathing-suit name. For more detail on Bikini, please proceed to the discussion of GILDA.

BILl. Newspaper editing jargon for odd-looking name. Typical usage: ``Bil in lede graf is cq.'' This means that there's a strangely spelled name in the lead paragraph, but it's correct.

IATA code for Billings Logan International Airport, serving Billings, MT, USA. Here's its status in real time from the ATCSCC.

This should not be confused with the Logan airport at Boston: BOS.

A short form of the word automobile that is common in Scandinavian languages. It may seem strange, but it hardly makes less sense than ``auto.''

  1. Laws governing, I don't know, bicycles, bisexuals, bigamists?
  2. A misspelling or perhaps a misconstrual of by-laws. For example, on May 6, 2005, the ABC TV affiliate WLOS (``Western North Carolina's New Leader'') reported a membership dispute at East Waynesville Baptist Church. Pastor Chan Chandler told nine members that if they didn't support George W. Bush, they should resign or repent. They were expelled, and forty others left in protest. Although he declined an interview with WLOS, the minister did explain that ``the actions were not politically motivated.'' According to the WLOS website, ``there are questions about whether the bi-laws were followed.''
  3. (With capitalization) rules governing the Bank of Indonesia.

If you think I put in this entry just to have a place to mention the news from East Waynesville, you're completely wrong. I put it here because I couldn't find the bye-laws entry.

  1. Having a knowledge of two tongues. That's ``tongues'' in the sense of languages. What you do in the privacy of each other's mouths, I'm not interested to know. See also bilingual education.
  2. In various contexts, two particular tongues are clearly implied, and the general term is understood in a restricted sense. For example, in Canadian bureaucratese, bilingual refers to those proficient in French. Hmm, let me check that. Oh, it means fluent in French and English. In much of the US, bilingual meants fluent, okay, maybe not exactly fluent, in Spanish and English.
  3. [column]
  4. Decorated with both red-figure and black-figure art (see BF entry).
  5. Having two tongues. (Well, it could mean that, anyway.)

In Spanish, bilingual is bilingüe. In French, it's bilingue. Not what you expected, huh? German: zweisprachig. Every continent needs an outlier.

bilingual education
Among US educationists, ``bilingual education'' is a sort of monolingual education in the elementary grades. It's the practice of teaching immigrant children with limited English proficiency in their native Spanish. (What? They're bilingual and they don't speak Spanish? How is that possible?) The idea is to prevent them from falling behind while they're developing proficiency in English. The central problem with this idea is that students in bilingual programs get less exposure to and practice in English, so they take longer to develop proficiency, and hence fall further behind. It also happens to be the case that immigrant children with poor English-language skills often have poor language skills in their native language, so bilingual education is no solution to the problem it addresses.

There is a more subtle flaw in the rationale for bilingual education, so-called, and that is the undervaluation of what educationists call ``language arts.'' Geography, history, science, and most subjects in elementary school are less important for their own sakes than as opportunities for mastering the language. A thorough competence in the language and mores of one's society is more important than the other specific knowledge that grade school is supposed to impart. For immigrant children, the need is even more urgent. That is, the metric of utility is more sensitive to language deficiencies at the elementary level than to language deficiencies at an advanced level or to deficiencies in any other grade-school subjects.

The tragedy is that children of elementary-school age are language sponges. Delaying their absorption of the country's main language is a disservice and an opportunity missed. In fact, it is absurd and cruel that children usually do not begin to study second languages until past age 12, when the task begins to be work.</rant>

``Dual-language'' elementary education, also called ``two-way immersion,'' is what you might have supposed bilingual education to be. In dual-language programs, students spend about half of their time in an English classroom environment and half in another language.


Not a wholly new phenomenon.

Bilingual Women
An assemblage of twelve chapters published in 1994. The contributions are varied in style and approach, so if the subject interests you you'll probably find some of them interesting. Don't be put off by the subtitle (``Anthropological Approaches to Second-Language Use''); it's not overly clotted with academic jargon. The book was edited by Pauline Burton, Ketaki Kushari Dyson, and Shirley Ardener. Burton contributed a thirty-page introduction, Dyson contributed a sort of memoir of her life as a writer, excerpted in this glossary at the entry about editors at publishing houses. Ardener contributed a preface and was also general editor, with Jackie Waldren, of Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Women, the series that this is volume 9 of, published by Berg Publishers (Providence, RI, and Oxford, Oxfordshire [oh-- that Oxford]).

In North America (and in this glossary, unless otherwise indicated): 109. In France and Germany: 1012.

More generally, in the US scheme, a numerical prefix bi-, tri-, etc. before -illion counts the number of factors of a thousand multiplying the first thousand; in the other popular scheme the prefix refers to the number of factors of a million. Thus, trillion = 1012 (Amer.) and 1018 (traditional Br., current Fr. and Ger.), etc.

In Britain today, and in much of the British Commonwealth outside North America, the situation is perched uneasily between the two conventions. Generally speaking, the traditional British sense of billion coincides with the current French meaning (1012), but there have been a number of moves toward aligning usage with the US convention. There are some indications [Ftnt. 17] that the American usage, consonant with the factors-of-1000 SI prefix usage, is gaining greater acceptance in Britain, but it is still too ambiguous to use without qualification or fear of misunderstanding. The French meaning has also varied; the American meaning of billion corresponds to an earlier French definition.

In German and French ``milliard'' is 109; British English has that word (cf. Mrd), but the British have tended to use ``thousand million,'' as the Moody Blues did in a song called ``Question'').

See the entry "`billion': a U.K. view" in the alt.english.usage FAQ. There's also a history of the Sagan "billions and billions."

``A billion here, a billion there -- pretty soon it adds up to real money.''

-- the wisdom of Everett McKinley Dirksen (1896-1969).

``There are very few things we'll spend a billion dollars on just because they're cool.''

-- John Connolly, an engineer in NASA's Exploration Office, commenting on the possibility of another manned mission to the moon (Discover magazine, September 1998, p. 75).

Billy Beer
A beer named after failed president Jimmy Carter's maladroit bumpkin brother, a former agent for a major north African country.

Billy Reuben
Unlike Billy Joe, Billy Bob, and Joe Bob, Billy Reuben is not a name characteristic of the southeastern US region. You probably heard bilirubin, the reddish bile pigment made by the liver from broken down old red blood cells, you idiot.

When the liver is diseased, this pigment may fail to be excreted through the bile duct and instead accumulate in the body. This turns the whites of the eyes yellow and causes a yellowish discoloration of the skin, a condition called jaundice. Jaundice occurs in various kinds of chronic poisoning, including alcohol-related cirrhosis of the liver, and by at least five viral diseases (see hepatitis).

Berkeley Illinois Maryland Array.

British Isles Majorette Association. (Their net presence is a bit confusing. In case of problems, this or this.) For similar organizations, see the majorette entry. BIMA is a different entity than the British Isles Baton Twirling Association BIBTA.

A Hebrew word meaning `raised place' (a more literal transliteration is bimah, but the final Hebrew letter he is silent in modern pronunciations). Jewish synagogues contain a raised platform or podium that is called a bima by most Jews in Europe and the Americas, although there are other traditional names also in use. The word bima has been borrowed into Polish with the meaning of `stage.'

The bima has a table on which a bible scroll is placed for reading (see megilla). The bima serves other obvious purposes, but practice varies. There is usually at least one lectern which is more convenient for reading less awkward books. (Haftorah readings are normally from a codex, and much of the service consists of the recitation of prayers rather than the reading of canonically holy books.)

Traditionally, the bima has been at the center of the room; the Talmud mentions (Suk. 51b) a wooden pulpit in the center of the synagogue of Alexandria. In Oriental and Sephardi synagogues there are usually no chairs between the bima and the front wall, where the torah scrolls are kept in an ark. This doesn't make very efficient use of space, according to some notions of ``efficient.'' Maimonides opined (you could look it up) that it's okay to have some chairs between the bima and the ark, and many Orthodox synagogues follow this.

I've been in at least a couple of Orthodox Ashkenazi synagogues (one Hasidic, one not) where the bima was at the front. So it's clear that the bima location is not a big hang-up for everyone, but early in the twentieth century it was a bone of contention the size of a brontosaur femur. Brontosaur isn't kosher, in case you were wondering. At least, I'm sure it would be treyf (i.e., not kosher) today. This might not be an entirely academic or talmudical issue. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago cited a news item about prehistoric fish or salamander preserved in a frozen stream. It was reportedly so fresh that the people who found it devoured the meat before it could be studied. However, since we don't want to go off on a tangent, we'll relegate further discussion of that to a future GULAG entry.

You know, the kosherness of well-aged and too-well-aged meat is a lot more interesting than bima position, so let's talk about that. My friend Dan had an interesting thought on the subject. When Dan was 12 years old, he and a friend and Dan's kid brother Lou made a comic-book parody (or perhaps a travesty) called ``The Adventures of Stupidman.'' The hero was transported back in time to before the exodus from Egypt, and the first thing he did was go and have himself a meal of pork, since it wasn't treyf yet then. I guess this is one possible interpretation of whatchamightcall the question of when a particular one of God's laws is ``in vigor,'' based on the legal fiction of a covenant. They sold 160 copies; it must be collector's item.

UNDER CONSTRUCTION, okay? (That means it's not finished.)

Buy-In Management Buy-Out. It's a compromise between an MBO and an MBI, which have the expansions you'd expect. I'm sure you could find out about these things on the Internet.

At Princeton University, where I went to graduate school, the graduate students' ``residential college'' (local name for dorm complex, roughly) is called the Graduate College (GC). In the basement it has a bar (``The Debasement Bar''). One evening there I found B__ (a mechanical engineer pal) with a cute airhead townie that he'd met on a bus. In those days I was even ruder than I am today, and I happened to utter a sentence that contained the word bimbo. I don't remember what the sentence was, but I do remember that she heard the word. She seemed to be about equal parts

  • insulted, and
  • amazed that anyone could be so rude.
(This was pretty typical, in my experience of giving offense.) The amazement/disbelief part may have worked in our favor, as we smoothly transitioned into damage-control mode: B__ and I managed to convince her, or she decided to pretend to believe us, that BIMBO is a COBOL keyword. We went on for a bit, ragging on what a crazy language COBOL is. It's just an ironic coincidence I discovered recently, that BIMBO actually is a commercial and business-oriented language keyword.

B__ assured me the next day that my unguarded comment hadn't been a problem. Ah -- business giveth, and business taketh away. Or maybe it's the other way around. I'm thinking of the anecdotes described in the long paragraph about (actually not much about) Joseph Black.

It occurs to me now that some readers may misdoubt my veracity. Those who've read the VTVM entry might suppose that this entry is, similarly, only loosely fact-based, with the COBOL thing as just a bit of amusing creativity. Well, it was a bit of amusing creativity, but we created it on the spot. B__ also achieved local fame for inventing a billiards variant.

Any circuits and logic combining MOS transistors and BJT's fabricated on the same chip. [Common strategy: low power CMOS logic, plus BJT's for power drive.] [Pronounced ``BY-moss.''] All BiCMOS is BiMOS logic. Not all BiMOS is BiCMOS.

Binary Automatic Computer. A vintage-1949 computer that used 700 vacuum tubes and I have no idea how many mercury delay lines. It occupied a paltry 20 square feet.

A spray aerosol breath freshener. They sell mints now too.

I think they should do what the underarm deodorant and antiperspirant marketers did: come out with roll-on products. This sounds stupid now, but it's not any more stupid than those sheet-thin menthol chews that began to be marketed in 2003-2004. We introduced an entry here for the ``Suburban Conquistador'' before we learned that Cadillac and Lincoln were marketing their own SUV's.

Berkeley Internet Name Domain. Unix implementation of DNS.

I explain everything I know about book bindings -- actually about the writing along the spine, at the MBH entry. So here we can take a relaxing break. I was browsing among the cheap used books when my attention was arrested by the title Report of the Committee of Experts. When I picked it up it was upside-down. That is, the lettering along the spine had been oriented so that the bottoms of the letters were closer to the front cover than the back. Some experts. Sure enough: printed in Switzerland.

It's a very reliable phenomenon. The next time I noticed a book with upside-down English spine text, it was Special Forces in the Invasion of France by Paul Gaujac, a translation of his French original (Les forces spéciales de la Libération), published by Histoire & Collections.

Okay, I finally came across a legitimate domestic instance: Public Policy and the Dead Hand, by Lewis M. Simes, part of the Thomas M. Cooley Lectures at the University of Michigan. It was published by the University of Michigan Law School in 1955, which is not so long ago that printing downward along the spine was not standard. The book was manufactured by Twentieth Century Printing Co., Inc., of Baltimore, Maryland.

Okay, let's eye-dropper some information onto this entry. A magazine with a paperback-like binding -- a narrow side perpendicular to front and back covers -- is said to be ``perfect-bound.''

Bilingual books may pose a problem, but here's a practical solution that I haven't seen much of lately. The volume before me is two books. One book has the title of Proceedings of the Canadian Congress of Correction 1957: Montréal May 26-29, 1957, and was published by the Canadian Corrections Association of the Canadian Welfare Council. I imagine it has something to do with editorial work, given the thoughtful publication scheme. (There'd be a lot more editorial work to do, of course, if it were the American Corrections Association of the British Welfare Council, or vice versa.)

The other book has the title Le Rapport du Congrès canadien sur la Délinquance, 1957: Montréal du 26 au 29 mai 1957, and it's from La Société canadienne de Criminologie du Conseil canadien du Bien-être. I guess it was one of those joint-conference things, like APA/AIA meetings. Just so as not to show any bias, I suppose that presentations were in a neutral language -- probably Swahili. Anyway, to get back to the interesting issue: the volume is bound together like one of those flippable paired novels now regretably so rare. If you read to the end of one book and turn the page, the print on the next page appears upside-down. The volume is about 4 cm thick, so the binding is wide enough to allow the short titles to be printed across the top (i.e., the respective tops) of the binding. For a little more about how that worked, see W.F. CARABINE.

binge drinking
Typically defined by researchers as five drinks or more in a row. This definition is not a model of precision. I know at least one dance club that served drinks in test tubes, which the barmaids brought around in attractive test tube racks (not their own attractive racks, you understand). They were in a row, at least, but five of those, believe me, were no binge.

British INSTitute of Non-Destructive Testing. That abbreviation looks like someone didn't know when to stop turning the knob on the micrometer.

Processed vegetable oil with properties approximating diesel fuel's. Biodiesel is generally made by transesterification. Important examples are RME and SME (rapeseed and soybean methyl ethers, resp.).

Transesterification generally is like a reaction between a relatively strong base and a salt. In the latter reaction, the strong base combines with the anion of the salt, and the cation of the base forms a (weaker) base. Transesterification works the same way, except that instead of salts one has esters, instead of cations one has oxyalkanes, and instead of acids in general one has organic acids. The organic acids of the original esters form new esters with the added alcohols, and release the original bonding partners as alcohols.

Transesterification was investigated during WWII as a source of glycerine needed for explosives. Probably the usual source of glycerine is the saponification process, so I guess that during WWII, people were not washing as much as usual. Either that, or they were using more nitroglycerine than usual. Transesterification of oils and fats is also similar to saponification, except that instead of glycerine and soap, one produces glycerine and fatty-acid esters. Thus, for example, RME is a mix of methyl esters of rapeseed fatty acids.

The great disadvantage of using straight vegetable oils (SVO's) as substitutes for diesel fuel is their much higher viscosity. The high viscosity can be understood crudely. (Like raw, undistilled petroleum or uncooked vegetable oil, get it? Oh, never mind.) To understand the general trends, one must recognize two qualitative sources of viscosity: deformation within the fatty acids of a triglyceride (fat or oil) molecule, and deformation of the molecule as a whole.

To take the second part first: fat and oil molecules are sort of dendritic. They consist of three long fatty acids that can rotate about a common axis of the three carbons of the glycerine, functioning as rather limber knuckles. Adjacent oil molecules become entangled, giving rise to viscosity. Transesterification separates the individual fatty acids, so that they don't entangle as three connected fingers but as individual fingers. (Don't imagine this too literally before lunch unless you're on a diet.) This substantially reduces the viscosity.

The principal difference between oils and fats is in the degree of saturation. Complete saturation means that carbon chains have as many hydrogen atoms as are possible for their chain topology. A monounsaturated chain has a single double bond, and each of the two carbons participating in the double bond has one less hydrogen than it would have if completely saturated. Polyunsaturated chains have more double bonds. Double bonds do not rotate freely, so less saturated chains are more rigid, and conversely.

Higher rigidity on a molecular scale in this case means lower rigidity on a macroscopic scale. Again intuitively: a disordered aggregation of rigid rods does not entangle and clump, but instead spreads out. Viewed on a large length scale at which individual rods cannot be distinguished, this is basically liquid behavior. Saturated fatty acids (i.e., those with no double bonds) correspond to floppy strings or chains rather than to rigid rods, and can form a pile or clump (this isn't the usual technical language, okay?). Hence, saturated fatty acids are more viscous or solid on a macroscopic scale.

Thus, it is fats (as opposed to oils) that are generally more highly saturated. They are more viscous than oils of comparable molecular mass at a given temperature. Equivalently, fats solidify at higher temperatures. That's why, to create a low-viscosity biofuel, one wants to transesterify oils rather than fats.

UB has a Center for Clinical Ethics and Humanities in Health Care. I've always wondered what clinical humanities might be.

biography, major
I found an informative little semiquantitative tidbit (revealed in the last block quote of the present entry) valuable because those who know this stuff from experience can be reluctant to divulge it. (Microelectronic fabrication engineers are the same way about yield rates.) If you're interested in biography, especially literary biography, you should read The Shadow in the Garden: A Biographer's Tale. It's by James Atlas, the source of that semiquantitative tidbit.

But first, let's have a lot of superfluous context. The quotation is from the introduction (starting at page ix) to James Atlas's biography of Saul Bellow (pp. xiv + 686 -- do the math). At the age of xxviii, Atlas had published a biography of ``the poet Delmore Schwartz.'' (Oh, that Delmore Schwartz. Delmore is such a common name, you know. Is it really so snobbish to sneer at such thumbnail clarifications here? Can it really be thought uncondescending to readers of an adult-size biography of Saul Bellow, to suggest that they do not know who Delmore Schwartz was? For more of this snitty snoottiness, see the .se entry. Yeah, I'm shooting for some sibilant tongue twisters.) His biographies of Saul Bellow and Delmore Schwartz are the two for which James Atlas is best known. James does not appear to be related to Charles Atlas, except probably through Charlemagne.

Anyway, Atlas (James Atlas, not the body-builder and fantastic, historic adman) had been pegged as a career biographer and was casting about for his next victim, err, subject. He had already signed a contract with Farrar, Straus & Giroux to do the authorized biography of Edmund Wilson. (``America's gratest modern man of letters,'' okay? Yeah, ``greatest,'' ``gratingest,'' whatever.) But after five years Atlas ``hadn't written a word.'' [I've seen the term over-literal a lot. In fairness, under-literal is a more common fault.] Maybe he should've tried mapping him. Atlas writes that he loved Wilson's work -- he'd ``read every word he'd written'' (and published, I suppose). However...

I had a toxic response to his character. The bullying proclamations, the tedious self-revelations, the drinking and philandering--
All that juicy material! On the one hand, we see that James Atlas has a gift for thumbnail characterizations. On the hand with the other thumbnail, we see that he failed to appreciate the value of a good salacious ogre of a subject.
--in the end, he just didn't appeal to me as a subject to whose life and work I was willing to apprentice myself for the better part of a decade, the time any conscientious biographer of a major personage can expect to allot.
If he regards his own biography of Delmore Schwartz as conscientious, then I suppose he started it in college. Anyway, this was the point: you must devote the better part of a decade to do justice to a great literary life.

My experience of romance writing was similar to Atlas's experience of Wilson biographizing. I had planned a first book in the genre. (I had read an entire romance paperback. I also skimmed two more.) I hadn't signed a contract with Mr. Strauss yet, but my cousin Victoria and I had come up with a great nom de plume for me. Yet I had a toxic response--in the end, romance novelizing didn't appeal to me as anything that I could endure for the better part of ten minutes. I once belonged to a writers' group that was run by a couple who wrote romance novels. I was drummed out. I was drummed out of two writers' groups I attended. The third just stopped meeting, or so I was told.

BTW, this James Atlas is the same James Atlas who gets a brief mention at the periodization puns in book titles entry, for My Life in the Middle Ages: A Survivor's Tale. The dust jacket of that book mentions that he ``is the founder of Atlas Books and the general editor of the Eminent Lives series.''

The ``Biola'' in Biola University is an acronym of its original name -- Bible Institute Of Los Angeles. Its history page manages to elide this. (It's not as if they're trying to hide the embarrassing fact that they're evangelical -- they're pretty up-front about that. It's probably just acronym anxiety.)

Biola is also a fair transliteration of the Japanese word for viola. There are now some katakana characters for syllables beginning with a vee sound, and the appropriate one is used in one Japanese spelling of viola, but in practice a bee sound is used.


The usual word for `life' in ancient Greek, and the root of the obvious morpheme in English words like biography, biology, biopsy, biosphere, biota, biotic, biotin, biotite, bioturbation, and biotype, and aerobe, amphibious, anhydrobiosis, microbiology, and symbiosis.

This word had a high or rising pitch accent on the iota, so with accent, it was written bíos (combining form bío-). This was an instance where the accent was semantically useful (see next). The semantic field corresponding to the English words `life, living' was shared in ancient Greek primarily by bíos and zôê. (I can't easily add an acute accent to the eta; just pretend it's there.) The latter word, meaning essentially `animal life,' is etymon of English words like zoo, zoology, and zootrophy (not something you win at the zoo).


`Bow' (as in bow-and-arrow), in ancient Greek. This is one of the few instances in which the polytonic accent system disambiguates words in written Greek (apart from function words). The accents were introduced by some Byzantine scribbler. Before that time, a pun on biós (`bow') and bíos involved perfect homographs. (You read the previous entry, right? Don't hop around the glossary; you'll destroy the logic of the presentation!)

The earliest recorded bios pun, so far as I am aware, is due to that madcap philosopher Hê -- see the mad cap? -- rakleitos of Ephesos (more usually in English we use the Latinized form Heraclitus of Ephesus):

Bow has the name of life, but the work of death.

This has Diels-Kranz fragment number 22-48 (fifth and later editions; 12-66 in earlier). The unaccented Greek reads

bios: tôi oun toxôi onoma bios, ergon de thanatos.
Heraclitus lived and probably tried out a bow around 500 B.C.; now he's dead.

There doesn't seem to be any English word which this biós serves as a root of.

Basic Input/Output System.

BIOSciences Information Service.

The thin spherical scum on the surface of the earth -- cabbage and roaches, people and bacteria.

There's an awful lot of biomass in bacteria, and a lot in water, but here's something: bacteria (like actors) prefer to live in films. The surface of water with air or a solid has a high concentration of solutes that bacteria think of as nutrients, and protozoans that like to have bacteria for lunch encounter a little difficulty in penetrating surfaces. There are always a few free bacteria around, but even the flagellates go for the films. The thickness of the biosphere, or its depth, is apparently greater than anyone used to suppose. The presence of bacteria in subterranean sedimentary rock as early as the 1920's used to be dismissed as due to contamination after retrieval. Research since the mid-1980's has demonstrated that autochthonous thermophile bacteria and archaea live (low metabolic-rate lives) down to depths of at least a few kilometers, in sedimentary and even igneous rock.

The term biosphere was coined in the nineteenth century by the London-born Austrian geologist Eduard Suess. He slipped it in near the end of a monograph about the Alps. I guess when you've got a neologism you want to introduce, any text will do. [Suess was in many respects the scientific predecessor of Wegener, and he introduced many terms for phenomena that can only be adequately explained by the theory of plate tectonics; Gondwanaland and Tethys Sea were first conjectured and named in his Das Antlitz der Erde (`The Face of the Earth').]

Suess's word biosphere was popularized by the Russian geochemist Vladimir Vernadsky in the 1920's. Vernadsky was a pioneer in studying the effects of life on the atmosphere and the earth's crust, and is thus regarded as the founder of the theory of the biosphere. He also gave some currency to a related term, noosphere (q.v.). This latter term was apparently introduced by that infamous mystic P. Teilhard de Chardin in his L'Hominisation (1925). By this term (noosphère in French) he meant that part of the biosphere occupied by thinking humanity. This was supposed to include both red and blue states. Just as the noosphere is a subset (or subspace or subregion or sub-something) of the biosphere, so the blogosphere is a subset of the noosphere. We could take this further and define a newsosphere as a subset of the blogosphere, but we won't. We'll just suggest it and let someone else run with that sphere.

BIOlogical Investigations of Terrestrial Antarctic Systems. One of SCAR's major programs.

Bit Interleaved Parity.

Books In Print. A standard reference. Now available by subscription online.

Built-In Purifier.

Business Industry Political Action Committee. I didn't know that business was an industry either.

BI-level Positive Airway Pressure. A kind of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP).

Oh, brother have you ever got to update your address book! When your computer catches a virus you only infect phantom limbs. See RIPHH.

Bureau International des Poids et Mesures. The ``international bureau of weights and measures,' at Sèvres, near Paris. (There doesn't appear to be an official English version of the name: it's standardized on the French. It gives me an impish desire to translate it as the ``international desk,'' but I can resist for now. The website is bilingual.)

Binary Independence Retrieval (model).

British Institute of Radiology.

Buil{ ding | t- } In Reliability.

Bureau of International Recycling. A trade association. I guess when hauling trash becomes a feel-good occupation, a trade association can become a desk.

Boletín del Instituto Riva-Agüero. The bulletin of IRA.

No, no: beer is cerveza in Spanish. (And cerveja in Portuguese, cervesa in Catalan.) It's birra in Italian. Spanish does have the word birria, however, that refers to anything horrible or ugly. In Mexico it has the more specific sense of something insipid to drink. I have to wonder if that doesn't reflect American influence and the English word beer.

Bird and Baby
Pet name used by regulars for the Oxford pub which is officially ``The Eagle and Child.'' It was the meeting place for the Inklings.

bird's-beak, or bird's head and beak, or bird's head
Lateral growth of oxide under a nitride (oxidation mask) layer, or similar structure.

A sport discussed to my complete satisfaction at the PBA entry.

Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies.

Bank for International Settlements. ``The BIS is an international organisation which fosters cooperation among central banks and other agencies in pursuit of monetary and financial stability.''

Just give me muh-uh-uh-uh-ney! Muh-uh-ney -- that's what I need -- That's! What I need!

Butts In Seats. A figure of merit having to do with the distribution of student bodies. A measure of how successful academic departments have been in making their curves, I mean courses, attractive.

Book Industry Systems Advisory Committee. A committee of the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) that promoted use of ISBN and later SAN as well. Founded in 1974. In fall 1998, BISAC and SISAC merged and became BASIC.

Broadband Integrated Services Digital Network.

Jeanne M. Dallard has some links to BISDN documentation at NIST. Whatis?com offers a brief description.

Bilayer pseudoSpin Field-Effect Transistor.

BIStable Field-Effect Transistor. This is an old device (operational device reported in 1993).

Book Industry Study Group. Publisher-backed. See also the entries for its groups BISAC and SISAC, now merged as BASIC.

BISG also puts out an annual report on the economic health of the book trade. In August 1999, they reported that after a general decline in the mid-nineties, there was an increase by over four percent in trade book sales (adult hard cover and trade paperbacks) from 1997 to 1998 (497 million volumes sold in 1998). 368 million children's books were sold, a six percent increase from a weak 1997, but still below 1996 sales. Unit sales of books about science and technology have been falling since 1995, and this is attributed to increased electronic publishing -- books on disk, CD-ROM, or on the internet.

Border Information & Solutions Network, an NGO ``dedicated to promoting sustainable development of the US/Mexico border by enhancing networking and communication through the Internet.

Broadband Inter Switching System Interface.

German: (you) `are.' [More specifically: the (familiar) second-person singular, present-tense form of the verb sein, `to be.' (Also called copula, a cognate of copulate.)]

Built-In Self Test[ing]. Logic-circuit testing by circuitry built into a unit. Principal advantage is that it gets around the pin limitation problem (primary inputs -- the inputs that can be controlled from outside the device -- are few; the functions to be tested are many). The test process can also be distributed and therefore local.

Vide error latency and signature analysis.

Broadband ISDN User's Part.

bisweilen. German: `sometimes.'

BInary SYNChronous (communication protocol).

Bilateral Investment Treaty. A kind of international treaty. Since 1990, many PTA's (preferential trade agreements) have incorporated substantive investment provisions. These combination PTA-BIT's are also called PTIA's (preferential trade and investment agreements).

BIT's have received considerably less press than PTA's. In a paper published online in January 2011, Jeffrey H. Bergstrand and Peter Egger suggest that BIT's are ``at least as significant'' as PTA's. (Bergstrand and various co-authors have been making that argument for a few years, but it's not the point of the cited paper. See references therein.) They note that in 2010, the U.S. had 40 BIT's in force and only 17 PTA's.

Binary digIT.

Built-In Test.

Business Information Technology.

The British Industrial Truck Association. The ITA site looks more contented right now. Just remember to reflect the graphics.

BITA is a member of BMHF.

Bit a BLT
Ate some Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato sandwich.

Bit-BLock Transfer.

bit bucket
The place where bits are discarded. When, as usually, these are bits of data, the bit bucket can be extremely compact.

Being In Total Control, Honey! According to HBI.

Black Intelligence Test of Cultural Homogeneity. A test of verbal aptitude and reasoning like the verbal part of the SAT or GRE, but based on black vocabulary. The test was devised by Robert Williams. No, not Robin Williams.

Bringing Integrity To Christian Homemakers. ``A Baptist Ladies service organization founded by Mrs. Bowers.'' It ``strives to keep Bible-based conversation to a maximum and nonprocreative sex and frozen foods to a minimum in Christian, professionally decorated homes throughout God's Country, America. Praise the Lord!''

Bitches' Brew
Favorite cocktail of Venedikt Yerofeyev, according to his depressing samizdat book ``Moscow Stations.''


100 g  Zhiguli Beer
 70 g  Dandruff Treatment
 30 g  ``Sadko'' Shampoo
 30 g  Athlete's Foot Remedy
 20 g  Small Bug Killer

Combine all ingredients and steep for a week in cigar tobacco. Serve.

See Spirit of Geneva for similar recipes and more on the book.

'bitch, The
Extended jail sentences for chronic felons, under haBITual-offender statutes.

BEcause It's Time NETwork. An early electronic mail message passing protocol on IBM mainframes. It wasn't obsolete in the 1960's.

BITNET wasn't real-time -- it was occasional. Scheduled message-passing communications became increasingly frequent into the nineties. If you've got an old BITNET address of someone at a university, and you don't think they've moved, then there's a good chance that their old address username@SCHLNM.BITNET has become <username@schlnm.edu>.

Bus Interface Unit.


BIchrome, Wheel-Made (ancient pottery turned on a potter's wheel). Contrast BIHM.

Bi:2212, Bi(2212)
Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8+y. Also known as ``bisco.'' A popular high-TC superconductor (HTSC).

(Domain name code for) Bénin (used to be Dahomey). The name has a 'cent marking to indicate that Benin was once a French colony, and that therefore France has the right to invade, occupy, and do anything else there that France would denounce as unilateralism and try to block in the UN if done anywhere by the US, if the French president should feel like it.

Regarding the letter jay in the country code... for what it's worth, the I/J distinction is a relatively recent one. It can't even be indicated in German Fraktur (the original `Gothic script').

[Image: npn BJT schematic]

Bon Jovi. I think this is great.

Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Ball-Joint Doll.

Bridget Jones's Diary. A book and a movie. I think ``Bridget Jones's Diarrhea'' would make a great name for an eating disorder. It would be more precise than something like ``binge-purge syndrome.''

Bharatiya Janata Party. The largest Hindu nationalist party.

Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester.

Bureau of Justice Statistics. A ``component'' of the US Office of Justice Programs (OJP).

Bipolar Junction Transistor. A three-terminal nonlinear device, composed of two bipolar junctions (collector-base, base-emitter) in close proximity. In normal operation, the voltage between base and emitter terminals is used to control the emitter current. The collector current either equals this (with BC junction in reverse bias), or goes into saturation (the BC junction goes into forward bias). Base current is generally much smaller than collector and emitter currents, but not negligible as in MOSFETS.

It's easy to fall into the pleonastic habit of saying, redundantly: ``BJT transistor.''

Bob Jones University. The very latest in eighteenth-century educational philosophy. If you didn't already know quite a bit about this school, the name alone might make you suspicious.

(Why does bju.com forward to FriendFinder? Gotta think about this. If you become a member you can search by religion and ethnicity, and these don't have to be the same as yours.)

BalK. Baseball scorecard abbreviation.

Barkhausen-Kurtz. As in Barkhausen-Kurtz Oscillation and Oscillators.

Berkelium. Atomic number 97. A transuranide. Learn more at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.


BooKing. Airline fare abbreviation.

Burger King. I drove up to the order station. ``What's this 99 cent special? Is it like a Whopper?''
``Yeah sorta. It's two burgers with cheese and a special sauce.''
``Well, I don't want the cheese. What's in the special sauce?''
``All I can tell you is, it's like a Big Mac.''
``Can I have it without the special sauce?''

I can't have it without the special sauce. ``Special orders don't upset'' them, but they may just not fill them.

The first Burger King opened in 1955 in Miami as ``Instaburger King.'' Skipping ahead a little bit, a merger of Grand Metropolitan and Guinness in 1997 created Diageo, which inherited BK (still based in Florida). In 2002, BK had 11,500 US stores, second only to McDonald's (over 13,000). London-based Diageo plc put it up for bid in 2002, originally seeking $2.5 billion, but soon had to lower its target to $2.3 billion.

(Turns out that it's rather a fixer-upper. As of 2002, average sales per store had been flat for years at about $1.1 million, while McDonald's was up to $1.6 million. The company went through nine chief executives in 13 years, and from 1996 to 2001, customer visits to BK stores in the US dropped 20%. McDonald's has been expanding internationally, with 50% of revenues coming from non-US sales; BK: 23%.)

On July 25, 2002, Texas Pacific Group (an LBO shop), in cooperation with Boston's Bain Capital Inc. and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, among others, reached agreement to buy BK from Diageo. The price was $2.26 billion, including $600 million cash. The deal left Burger King's management in place and was expected to lead to more capital for the Florida-based chain. In late July I mentioned this to the woman working the cash register at the BK in the Huddle. Actually, I mentioned it to Gary, but she kibitzed. She was happy to hear that the new owners were in an invest mood and that they didn't plan a lot of store closings. Isn't it great to have committed employees? It's not a business -- it's a community! In fact, it's not just a community -- it's a family! A big family, that needs to put food on the table.

Burger King is also mentioned at the KFC entry.

BKA, b/k/a
Better Known As.

Backscatter Kikuchi Diffraction.

Best Known Method.

Bank of Kuwait and Middle East.

Beam KnockOut.


Berliner Klassikertexte. Full title: Berliner Klassikertexte herausgegeben von der Generalverwaltung der kgl. Museen zu Berlin. `Berlin classical texts published by the general administration of the royal museums at Berlin.'' In Berlin, you got that?! Cf. BGU.

Budapesti Közlekedési Vállalat. Budapest (Hungary) Transportation Agency.

Ball Lightning.

Battle Laboratory.

BiLateral. One option for electrode placement in electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

British Library. See British Museum for clarification and history. The British Library actually has its own second-level domain under the .uk top-level domain, at the same hierarchy level as rather broader domains such as that for all academic institutions (.ac.).

B.L., b.l., B/L, b/l
Traditional abbreviations for Bill Of Lading, now often abbreviated BOL, q.v.

Bit Line. Large semiconductor (and old magnetic core) memories are organized in rectangular arrays. The address of a single bit of memory is itself a binary number whose individual digits can be broken into two groups -- a word address and a bit address. The desired data bit is at the intersection of the row designated by the word address [a word line (WL)] and the column designated by the bit address (a bit line). The row/column or WL/BL distinction is not arbitrary: in conventional usage, write and read circuitry applies the information bit as a voltage to the BL. That is, the BL is accessed by reading or writing the bit value. The word line only selects a row. In this scheme of things, one reads the memory array one word at a time. There are further complications in large memories, which consist of multiple smaller rectangular arrays and so are in a logical sense three-dimensional analogues of the smaller two-dimensional memories.

Body Length. Truck dimension: precisely, the distance from the frontmost to the rearmost point of the body. Also the distance from rearmost to the frontmost point of the body, by a commutative property of metrics. The body, by the way, is the part of the truck behind the cab.

For more, see Chassis Dimensions in the NTEA's glossary of Truck Equipment Terms.

Biomedical Library Acquisitions Bulletin. BLAB (ISSN: 1064-699X) ``is published by the Medical Library Association's Collection Development Section with the cooperation of the Duke University Medical Center Library. BLAB is published more or less bimonthly, and includes items of news and opinion contributed by its readers concerning biomedical library acquisitions.'' Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Blackberry thumb
Tennis elbow for the thumb-twiddler. A malady invented to drum up business for masseurs and masseuses. Thumb pain (or discomfort or anticipation of discomfort) caused by excessive or awkward use (defined as any use at all) of a small electronic-gadget keyboard. Cf. tech neck.

blackberry thumb
Little Jack Horner,
sat in a corner,
eating his Christmas pie.
He stuck in his thumb,
and pulled out a plum,
and said ``What a good boy am I!''

Actually, it was almost certainly a blackberry, but that didn't happen to rhyme with thumb.

In the Dissecting Room feature of The Lancet, in vol. 357, iss. # 9249 (6 January 2001), Hugh Tunstall-Pedoe published a short essay entitled ``Jack Horner and biomedical literature.'' It was a parable of priority in research and publication, but it was by no means the first article in a scientific journal to mention Jack Horner.

Most instances seem to occur in the biological literature. The earliest one I can find was ``Lambda as Little Jack Horner,'' on p. 64 of the 22 March 1972 issue of Nature New Biology [a short-lived offshoot of Nature (London)]. The article byline is ``from our Molecular Genetics Correspondent.'' Citing four recent articles, it observed that phage λ could be made to integrate (or observed to integrate, in practical terms) in a much broader range of bacterial DNA sites than had been previously, by deleting the usual site of its integration. On the same page, there was a small box announcing ``First Korner Lecture.''

black bra
According to John Cleese, there are mistakes -- and mistakes. ``There are true copper-bottomed mistakes like wearing a black bra under a white blouse, or, to take a more masculine example, starting a land war in Asia.''

The example concerning a land war in Asia was borrowed from The Princess Bride, a movie released in 1987, but it is always timely. And undergarments were also not a central concern of Cleese's statement (about which, more below). However, Debra Ginsberg does have something relevant on page 219 of Waiting.

... Waiters and waitresses don't get much leeway [in ``style''] when they are required to wear a uniform, so some become quite creative in finding ways to make the most of their physical attributes. In this restaurant [to which she gives the fictitious name Baciare, `to kiss'], the uniforms were designed with old Italian waiters in mind and consisted of a jacket, pants, and tie [alas, they don't go shirtless, as we soon learn]. One waitress put darts in her work jackets so they tailored her torso. [Ouch! That must hurt!] Combined with her skintight black pants, this made her look like some sort of futuristic cyberbabe on assignment from the future [she mustn't have got first choice]. A less outrageous touch employed by various waitresses involved wearing a black bra under the white shirt so that the design of the undergarment was just visible enough for the imagination to run wild.

None of this works so well if you have a deep natural tan.

From the first chapter of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, the first description of Julia:

One of them was a girl whom he often passed in the corridors. He did not know her name, but he knew that she worked in the Fiction Department. Presumably -- since he had sometimes seen her with oily hands and carrying a spanner -- she had some mechanical job on one of the novel-writing machines. She was a bold-looking girl, of about twenty-seven, with thick hair, a freckled face, and swift, athletic movements. A narrow scarlet sash, emblem of the Junior Anti-Sex League, was wound several times round the waist of her overalls, just tightly enough to bring out the shapeliness of her hips.

(The word you're thinking of is pneumatic. By the way, Oceania is at war with Eastasia. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.)

While waiters and waitresses must usually conform to a uniform dress code, more often than not a host (hostess, seater, greeter, whatev-er) does not. For insight into that, see All dressed up and no place to go.

John Cleese's statement about mistakes is part of a speech entitled ``The Importance of Mistakes,'' which he delivered to a training and personnel conference in New York. The speech was excerpted in ``No more mistakes and you're through!'' an article by Dyan Machan in vol. 141, issue 11 of Forbes (May 16, 1988), pp. 126-7. Here's an excerpt of the excerpt:

I want to suggest to you that unless we have a tolerant attitude toward mistakes--I might almost say a positive attitude toward them--we shall be behaving irrationally, unscientifically and unsuccessfully.

Of course, if you now say to me, ``Look here, you weird limey, are you seriously advocating relaunching the Edsel?'' I will reply, ``No, Mac. There are mistakes and mistakes.'' There are true copper-bottomed mistakes like wearing a black bra under a white blouse, or, to take a more masculine example, starting a land war in Asia. I'm talking about mistakes that at the time they were committed did have a chance.

The entire speech was released as a training video shortly afterwards ($95).

Various versions of the quote are strewn across fortune files and the Internet. Here is a typical one of the longer versions:

I want to suggest to you today, that unless we have a tolerant attitude toward mistakes -- I might almost say ``a positive attitude toward them'' -- we shall be behaving irrationally, unscientifically, and unsuccessfully. Now, of course, if you now say to me, ``Look here, you weird Limey, are you seriously advocating relaunching the Edsel?'' I will reply, ``No.'' There are mistakes -- and mistakes. There are true, copper-bottom mistakes like spelling the word ``rabbit'' with three M's; wearing a black bra under a white shirt; or, to take a more masculine example, starting a land war in Asia. These are the kind of mistakes described by Mr. David Letterman as Brushes With Stupidity, because they have no reasonable chance of success.

For all I know, Cleese may have delivered similar remarks in different speeches. If all the quoted versions originated in the same speech, I incline to the view that most of the variation among versions is due to silent elisions and mistranscriptions rather than to embellishment.

black monks
Benedictine monks. Order founded (c. 529) by Saint Benedict of Nursia. After the formation of the Cistercian order, which made a spiritual fashion statement by adopting white robes (which probably needed more frequent cleaning, though I don't think that was the point), the Benedictines were referred to as ``black monks'' for their black robes. If you really, sincerely want to know more about this twelfth-century news, you probably ought to have your head examined, but until then, you can find almost no additional information at the white monks entry.

black Republicans
This space intentionally left blank.

    Extended footnotes
  1. From Andrew Young's memoir, An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America (1996), pp. 95-96:
        Our voter registration drive [in Thomasville, Ga., for the 1956 elections] was not as successful as we had hoped--we were able to register only a handful of people. But our efforts helped Eisenhower carry Georgia by increasing the rolls even a little and encouraging those who were registered that it was an important election. Black voters in the South were still voting Republican, although most made an exception for Franklin Roosevelt. I voted for Eisenhower too. The Southern segregationists were all Democrats, and it was the black Republicans like John Wesley Dobbs, John Calhoun, and Q.V. Williamson who could effectively influence the appointment of federal judges in the South. The best civil rights judges in the South were the Eisenhower appointees: Frank Johnson in Alabama; Elbert Tuttle on the U.S. Court of Appeals; Brian Simpson, who would save my life in Florida; Minor Wisdom; and Skelly Wright on the D.C. Court of Appeals were all Republicans. These judges are among the many unsung heroes of the civil rights movement.

    John Minor Wisdom was appointed a judge of the US Court of Appeals for the the Fifth Circuit in 1957. We have a short list of oddly-named judges. You're probably wondering how Brian Simpson saved Andrew Young's life. It's not so dramatic and hardly clear-cut; I'll fill in later.

black robes
The Benedictine order (the ``black monks,'' as you'd know if you were reading the entries in proper order) was in general decline from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries. They were rarely, if ever, missionaries in the Americas. The Jesuits, on the other hand, were founded as a missionary order. According to this page on Syracuse, New York,

In 1653, the native Iroquois sent word to the French in Quebec, requesting that a "Black Robe" -- as Jesuit missionaries were referred to at that time -- travel to their country. In July of the following year, Father Simon LeMoyne made the multiday journey to the land that would become Syracuse and Onondaga County.

There, he lived among the native Onondaga -- a part of the Iroquois Confederacy -- for several months, and toured the entire region. It was Father LeMoyne who reached the salty shores of Onondaga Lake and realized its potential. At one time, Syracuse was known as the salt capital of the world.

A search on ``Simon Le Moyne'' at the Le Moyne College web site turns up nothing, but a google search does the trick. Father Le Moyne's work is commemorated in the seal of the college. The Le Moyne College yearbook is called ``The Black Robe.''

Clothing is frequently used in synechdoche. In Act II, Scene 4 of Shakespeare's ``The Tragedy of Macbeth,'' Macduff says to Ross,

Well, may you see things well done there: adieu!
Lest our old robes sit easier than our new!
The old robes is the murdered King Duncan; the new robes is Macbeth, to be crowned at Scone (thither Ross).

Black Rock
Nickname of the CBS central offices at 52nd and Sixth in NYC.

black sheep
The idea of this expression is reputed to be: black wool brings less at market, but black sheep cost no less to feed than white sheep. Hence the resentment expressed by ``the black sheep of the family'' and similar phrases.

Why is black wool cheaper? My guess: to reach to most hues and saturation levels by dying, it's harder -- if it's even possible -- if you start from black wool than if you start from white wool. But what if you like darker tones? This looks fashion-dependent. Cf. black monks and white monks.

black tie
A black bowtie. A black-tie event is a formal occasion where men are expected to dress in black tuxedos. The women should wear expensive dresses in LA and expensive business suits in Washington. Cf. white tie.

Basic Linear Algebra for Distributed Environments. It's a clever acronym, and it probably once represented something real. At the time that I inserted it in this glossary, however (in May 2006), all instances of the expansions occurred in glossaries. Many of these could be traced back to V.E.R.A. (``common and not so common acronyms'') at least as far back as the edition 1.0 in Texinfo format, released June 1997.

Blair Force One
Jocular name for Concorde jet used by British PM Tony Blair, punning on Air Force One. Blair first became prime minister in 1991, but the earliest published instance I have found so far of ``Blair Force One'' is in a catty column in The Observer for February 8, 1998.

Blaise, BLAISE
British Library Automated Information SErvice. It's been superseded, but its trace remains in the ``Blaise number,'' a machine-generated control number for internal use.

Basic Linear Algebra Subroutines. Level 1 BLAS was released in 1979.

Belgian Luxembourg American Studies Association. A constituent association of the EAAS. Is Belgian Luxembourg the only kind? Is BLASA pronounced blasé? So many questions -- must do research! More, equally vitally important stuff about Belgium and Belgian at the KFLC entry.

Basic Local Alignment Search Tool. Read this lesson from Steven M. Thompson.

An airblast prediction model for quantitative analysis of blast noise from high explosives detonations. I don't know what it stands for yet, but I couldn't wait to get it into the glossary.

German: `blue.' The Germanic tribes that overran the Roman Empire absorbed much of the culture and quickly came to speak local Vulgar Latin dialects. Interestingly, the common words for colors tended to be kept. If that is significant, then a reason may be that Latin color vocabulary (and even more so the Greek) was imprecise.

A species of antelope (Hippotragus leucophaeus) that roams the Scrabble forest, but that is otherwise extinct. The name is from Dutch meaning `blue buck,' and dates to the time when the animal roamed southern Africa, and when the language of the Dutch settlers was still called Dutch rather than Afrikaans. We have an entry for another African antelope, the bongo, but the information there is of preposterous provenance. We also mention the bongo at our zebra entry. (All three major Scrabble dictionaries accept bongo, bongoes, and bongos.)

Boothby-Lovelace-Bulbulian (oxygen mask).

Bantuan Likuiditas Bank Indonesia. `Credit liquidity [operations of the] Bank of Indonesia.'

Basic Law Consultative Committee. Hong Kong group that participated in the writing of the ``Basic Law'' -- the constitution that has nominally governed Hong Kong since it was sacrificed to the PRC on July 1, 1997. More clarifications in this glossary.

British Library Document Supply Centre. They say they're ``the foremost document provider in the world.''

bleeding edge
Jocular term for leading-edge technology. The metaphorical picture implied by this term is a bit jumbled. ``Leading edge'' suggests the narrow end of a wedge, forcing its way into a bulk presumably of old technology, viewed as an undifferentiated boring (or borable, ha-ha) mass. In this case the leading edge is new technology.

Alternatively one may imagine a graph of use, and regard the ``leading edge'' as the initial rise from zero. In that case, the leading edge is not the technology adopted but the ``first-adopters'' or ``early adopters'' or avant garde. Depending on the technology, and the quality of its first implementations, this group might be called ``visionaries'' or ``foolhardy suckers.'' In either case, this group typically bears the brunt of early bugs and lack of support or implementation experience. Hence, this is the edge that bleeds. (Franklin had an apposite comment, taken somewhat out of context in the defensive driving entry.)

The bleeding edge is sometimes described as being just ahead of the cutting edge. I'm not going to be the first one to analyze that metaphor.

blended family
A family that includes at least one stepchild.

blended payment
Loan terms in which constant payments over the course of the loan term pay off both principal and interest (in a varying ratio).

BLock Error Rate. (Cf. bit error rate, BER.)

Belgo-Luxembourg Economic Union. Set up in 1921.

It is meant to maintain parity between the currencies of Belgium and Luxembourg, each currency being legal tender in the other country. The countries also hold their gold and exchange reserves in common.

Both countries are members of the EU and participate in the Emu, so some functions of BLEU are obviated, but BLEU is considered a success and will continue in existence.

French, `blue.'

Sacre bleu! Don't you feel stupid for asking, huh? You know that saying about there being no such thing as a stupid question? Of course you do! That's an example.

Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. See It was a dark and stormy night.

A nonrigid lighter-than-air craft or a fat person. The famous ones of the former type in use in the US today are the ones made by Goodyear in Akron, OH and stationed in southern California.

Blimp, like blizzard, is a recent word of unknown origin. bl, like gl, is one of those phonemic units that seems to function a bit like a morpheme, in the fashion that Roman Jakobson advanced as a common mechanism. (I revisit this at the ground entry.)

``Type B: limp'' is apparently just someone's guess, with no historical support.

For a bit more related to blimps, see this LZ entry.

blind clerics
They seem to be disproportionately over-represented in the ranks of crusade leadership.
  1. Henry Dandolo, doge of Venice: guiding spirit of the Fourth Crusade. (Okay, a doge is a duke and not a cleric, but we have to demonstrate that all religions are equal in all details that matter to unbelievers, and it's hard to do that if we are fastidious about facticity.)

  2. 'Abd al-Aziz ibn Abdallah ibn Baz: ``traditionalist'' (more correctly Wahabi) head of Saudi Arabia's Council of Senior Islamic Scholars, from the early 1960's on. Among his fatwas were prohibitions on fortune tellers, women driving cars, and the importation of those scandalously short veils that reveal part of a woman's face. In 1990, he issued a fatwa approving a jihad against Iraq, allowing non-Muslim troops on Saudi territory during the Persian Gulf War. He was grand mufti from 1993 on, and I think it was also in 1993 that he declared that the earth is flat.

  3. Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman: leader of Gama'a Islamiya (`Islamic Group') Rahman was acquitted of conspiracy charges in the assassination of President Anwar Sadat, convicted of conspiracy in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and sentenced to life in prison, and suspected of conspiracy in various other terrorist acts.

  4. Sheikh Ali al-Nakas: nothing. (On April 14, 1996, he was sentenced to a year in jail by Bahrain's State Security Court, on charges of incitement against the government. Fourteen other Shi'ite Moslems held in connection with anti-government protests received longer sentences.

  5. Sheik Ahmed Yassin: leader of the Hamas terrorist organization until he was killed by an Israeli missile in March 2004. He was described as only half-blind.

blind date
Aren't they all, really?

BTW, I saw a headline behind the window of a newspaper box on December 10, 2005, claiming that blind dating is coming back -- as an alternative to online dating sites.

German, `blind people's writing.' Reflecting the specific script actually used, this is also called Punktschrift and Brailleschrift. (The word Braille is pronounced approximately as in French, of course.) For single alphabetic characters, Arabic numerals, and Braille's original ten punctuation marks, German braille coincides with braille as used in other Western European languages (see braille letters). Adaptations made for German include the following single-cell codes (the bottom row gives, where appropriate, Braille's original assignments of the same codes for French):
           . *  |  * .  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  * .  |  . *  |  . *
braille:   . .  |  . .  |  * .  |  . .  |  . *  |  . *  |  * *  |  * .  |  . *
           * .  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  * .
German:     äu      au      eu      ei      ch     sch      ü       ö       ä
French:             â       ê       î       ô       û       ü       œ

blind reviewing
How true.

An HTML mark-up tag introduced by Netscape in order to give people an incentive to use Mosaic (the only other graphical-interface browser at the time).

B Link
Bridge LINK. (SS7 term.)

I have exciting news about your steering column! You know how there's this rod sticking out of the left side of it, behind the steering wheel? Well, it's become fashionable to do things with it! Yes! You can be cool too if you do what all the in people are doing. DO IT! For instance, when you're approaching an intersection where you're going to make a left turn, you push down on the rod. Yeah, it's kind of arbitrary, and it doesn't really make any kind of sense, but that's just how these things are. But just do it and you'll be better-liked! Visit the motor vehicle bureau for more tips on how to be popular!

(It's okay to push the rod thing up or down with the side of your cell phone, if the other hand is holding food and you're steering with your knee.)

Background-LImited Performance.

blithering idiot
A person of average intelligence who does not understand you. Cf. Idiot.

Broadband -- Low Layer Information.

Bayerischen Landeszentrale für neue Medien. ``Bavarian state central office for new media.'

(US) Bureau of Land Management.

Buried-Logic MacroCell.

British Library Newspaper Library. A courageous name.

Binary Large (larger than stellar) OBject.

Term describing heavy bombs of WWII, so effective they could destroy an entire apartment block when they hit. Everyone who appears to be careful about these things apparently agrees that during the war, the term was used primarily for the RAF's 4000-lb cookies (and not for the weaker 4000-lb. M.C. bombs) as well as for larger bombs. Usage has become looser since, and the term is also applied to 2000-lb. American bombs. Given the fact that the British bombing of Germany was weighted toward night-time missions with primarily residential targets, while US missions there were weighted toward higher-accuracy (though still low-accuracy) daytime bombing of industrial capacity, the lighter US bombs should probably not be called blockbusters.

The term was subsequently used in advertising to describe anything in any remote way resembling a great explosion or causing a great sensation. The war movie Pearl Harbor, released in Summer 2001, was often unironically called a blockbuster. Over 350 bombs were exploded in the filming of that movie. Cf. bikini.

An Internet term that evolved from weB LOG. A blog or 'blog or weblog is a kind of public diary -- one person's (the blogger's) individual commentary, typically political, published sequentially in growing web-pages. According to this Wikipedia entry (retrieved 2005.11.7), Jorn Barger is the editor of Robot Wisdom, an influential early weblog, and he was the one who ``coined the term weblog to describe the process of `logging the web' as he surfed.''

Blogs are entry-wise inverse-chronological, which is as irritating as the beginning of this sentence. Catching up on previous entries (or, for that matter, reading a blog for the first time) is often confusing unless you scroll up to the top of each successive entry and then scroll down to read it. Obviously, they should be inverse-chronological by individual line. Wait here, I've got to get an aspirin.

In many respects, including the general politically rightward and libertarian tilts, it is a written form of talk radio. For important examples, see

There were half a million blogs in July 2002. To get a grip, try blogdex.

You could think of blogs as one-person chat rooms. Really quite crass, and I am glad that I can guarantee to you our faithful readers that we of the SBF would never do anything remotely similar. (There are also consortium blogs like Daily Kos.)

Regarding that scrolling business -- I'm told some people ``scroll down'' to the top of an entry, and then ``scroll up'' as they read down through it -- the idea being that the text is moved upwards as they read down through the lines in a fixed window. A similar confusion makes a tedious hassle out of defining the signs on angles of a general rotation. The solution is simple: pick one standard convention and stick to it. My standard is this: the intransitive verb scrolling is referred to the eyes: if you ``scroll downward,'' your eyes are looking for something further down on the page. Transitive scrolling is referred to the image motion: ``scrolling the text downward'' means scrolling upward so that the text moves downward through the window. Everyone should use my (SBF-standard) convention.

A helium balloon, to judge from the pitch of the voices in it.

blood brothers
True brothers, in the sense of sharing blood. The two senses of this word correspond to the cases of either `blood' or `brother' being metaphorical:
  1. In what seems to be the older sense in English, blood represents or emphasizes biological kinship: blood brothers are brothers by birth (as opposed, say, to the other kind of blood brothers). I'm not sure what distinction is normally meant here. It might be meant to distinguish full brothers from half-brothers (brothers with one parent in common), step-brothers (either half-brothers or sons of an adoptive parent married to one's natural parent), or brothers-in-law. But it might just be emphatic.
  2. In the other sense, brother is understood to represent the obligations, prerogatives, or other social implications of brother status, but the blood is real. In ceremonial practices known both in Africa and aboriginal America, a commingling of blood is used to consecrate a social tie between two men who usually are not brothers. I think the practice was unknown among the English until the age of exploration, whereas expressions such as ``brothers in the blood'' date back to at least as early as 1400.

The term seems to be meant mostly in the second sense nowadays and, along with the newish ``blood sister,'' is often used completely metaphorically -- that is, the relationship is like as to one consecrated in blood. That's good, because blood makes me queasy. For a different take on degrees of brotherhood, see the germanus entry.

When my father was in the hospital after his first heart attack, a nurse came in at one point and said that visitors (indicating Miguel) had to leave. My father protested that Miguel was his brother, and the nurse commented suspiciously that they didn't look like brothers. So my dad said that they had different fathers. He didn't mention that they also had different mothers. For a related kind of thinking, see the twins entry.

blood sugar
Glucose is the only sugar normally used by muscle and nerve cells. The quantity of glucose in solution in the blood is controlled by insulin.

Glucose passes through the lining of the small intestines much more rapidly than other sugars. Other sugars, in addition to being absorbed much more slowly, are grabbed by the liver and converted to glucose. Since the conversion process takes a few minutes, while absorption through the small intestines takes hours, most of the single-ring (``simple'') sugars that started out as something other than glucose are present in the blood as glucose. Thus, although some other sugars are dissolved in the blood, for all practical purposes blood sugar is glucose. Cf. Chem 7.

    In chronological order:

  1. Bloomsbury is a neighborhood of London, England. In November 1919, there was a running argument in the Times (London) letters section, regarding the origin of the name. I'll type in the details as soon as the librarians refresh the toner in the microfilm printer.

    Bloomsbury is home to the ``British Museum,'' London University, and many antiquarian book shops, and may be regarded as the intellectual center of London by those who like to think in such terms.

  2. A political party that appeared in July 1765, led by the Duke of Bedford. Also known as the ``Bedford party'' and ``Bloomsbury gang.''

  3. A set of creative types associated with Bloomsbury (defn. 1), principally through their friendship or acquaintance with Virginia Woolf, who lived there. Given the fuzzy definition, there is a core of generally agreed members and a larger number of people on the edges of the group whose membership is in dispute. The core included
    Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)
    Leonard Woolf (VW's husband; 1880-1969)
    Vita Sackville-West (VW's friend and lover)
    John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946)
    E. M. Forster (1879-1970)
    Lytton Strachey (1880-1932)
    Roger (Roger Elliot) Fry (1866-1934)
    Duncan A. (Duncan Andrew) Grant (1885-1978)
    Vanessa Bell (VW's sister)
    Clive Bell (1881-1964; VW's brother-in-law)
    Adrian Stephen (VW's brother)
    Saxon Sydney-Turner
    Molly MacCarthy
    Francis Birrell (1889-?)
    Gerald Shove
    H. T. J. Norton

    VW was considered a brilliant writer for much of the twentieth century, and she certainly wasn't a slouch. Among literary types, she's still considered more famous than Maynard Keynes. On account of her fame and reputation, and because there's this name (Bloomsbury), there's an entire library of books on the Bloomsberries, Bloomsburyites, and everything else they were called.

  4. Bloomsbury Publishing. At 38 Soho Square, in London. The publisher with the rights to J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. [Scholastic contracted for the US rights. In addition to Americanizing the spellings and punctuation, they also changed the traditional ``philosopher's stone'' to the presumably more accessible ``sorcerer's stone,'' in the title and text of the first book. (Because of the title and relevant dialogue, the film was distributed in two English-language versions: US and ROW.) US and British publishers tend to compete for Canada, but in this case Bloomsbury negotiated the rights with Raincoast Books which, as you can guess, is based in Vancouver. Back in 1999 both versions of the first book (Philosopher's and Sorcerer's) could be found in Toronto. However, Raincoast Books has exclusive rights to sell and distribute the book in Canada, and the Scholastic edition should not be on store shelves (new) there.]

blowout, blow-out
An explosion of some sort, either of a vehicle tire or of some number. It's a relative thing. In an editorial October 21 on the impending 2004 US presidential election, Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune described as a ``virtual black blowout for Bush'' the possibility that he might double his share of the black vote from the 8% he got in 2000. A 12-14% share ``would almost certainly doom Kerry's chances.''

Political analysis in 2004: polling microscopy.

blow-out clearance sale!

For those unfamiliar with the concept, and for those seeking terminal ennui, sale is explained at the yard sale entry.

Base lending Rate.

Broad-Line Radio Galaxy. See RG.

Battle Lab (BL) Reconfigurable Simulation Initiative.

Basic Life Support.

Boston Latin School. ``Latin'' is not simply a traditional part of the school's name. It's been a required subject since the school was founded. (It ``is the oldest public school in America with a continuous existence. It was founded April 23, 1635 by the Town of Boston ... antedating Harvard College by more than a year.'') Students today enter either in the 7th or in the 9th grade. Entering 7th graders must take 5 years of Latin; entering 9th graders must take 3 years.

(US) Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Black and Latin Student Union. An organization at Siena College.

``The purpose of this organization is to enhance the educational, social, recreational, cultural, and psychological environment of the Siena Community by promoting activities that are relevant to ethnic minorities in general and the Black and Latino in particular.'' (My emphasis.)

Wow, man, like -- far out! The word ``relevant'' just brings those old memories crashing back. It evokes tears of nostalgia, just like the scent of tear gas.

Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato. A sandwich.

Entry coming. We'll discuss blue food, tricyclic-antidepressant photosensitive pigmentation, Mongolian blue spot, Blue Berbers, all that stuff. Eventually. For now, we just link to bleu, blue dog, Big Blue, Big Blue Meatball, and Blue Moon. There's some interesting information at the violet entry too.

blue biotech
Maritime biotechnology.

blue dog
Blue-dog Democrat. A conservative Democrat. The idea being that a yellow dog that's being choked turns blue. Cf. yellow-dog Democrat.

A common way of identifying blue dogs in the US House of Representatives is as those Democrats whose districts went substantially for the Republican standard-bearer in the previous presidential election.

blue-dot Democrat
A Democratic congressman representing an isolated Democratic district in a generally red state.

Blue Moon
The expression ``once in a blue moon'' means rarely. Its etymology is disputed. One claim is that it is derived from ancient Chinese observations of the moon occasionally appearing blue. This does happen, and it is rare, but I vaguely recall that that the Chinese manuscript evidence for this is limited or doubtful.

Almost any weak optical scattering by particulates and inhomogeneities will be approximate Rayleigh scattering, and so strongest for short wavelengths. Hence, the sun looks yellow high in the sky and red near the horizon. Light from the moon is colored in the same way. However, since the moon's light is a dim reflection of the sun's, its color is paler (technically less deep, or less saturated). This results from the fact that the color-sensitive cones in the retina crap out at low intensity, so low-light vision is dominated by the color-neutral rods. One of the more subtle effects of color vision, one of those called the Perkinje effect, is that sensitivity to low-intensity red light is less efficient than sensitivity to blue and green. That is, the red-perceiving cones crap out earlier. This has a slight effect of making the moon bluer than it might normally seem, if atmospheric conditions dim it achromatically (i.e., if the view of the moon is obscured by opaque particulates that primarily absorb rather than scatter light). However, for the moon to appear perceptibly blue probably requires something more. Volcanic ash that has segregated by size in the atmosphere can occasionally do it. Spectacular weird sunsets widely reported after the eruption of Krakatoa were probably due to this effect.

In July 2000, Air University Press published Once in a Blue Moon: Airmen in Theater Command -- Lauris Norstad, Albrecht Kesselring, and Their Relevance to the Twenty-First Century Air Force, by Howard D. Belote, Lt. Col., USAF (CADRE Paper No. 7).

Also in 2000, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) published More Than Once in a Blue Moon: Multiple Jobholdings by American Artists, by Neil O. Alper and Gregory H. Wassall (Research Division Report #40). I guess moonlighting made them blue.

blue state
A state that votes Democratic in US presidential elections. The usage, and the practice of displaying a state-outline map of the US in blue and red, became popular during TV election reporting during the 2000 elections. It was meant to point up the increased political polarization of the US, stressed by many pundits. The 2004 election cycle saw the addition of a parallel terminology: retros and metros. (The blue states are more urban, and by implication urbane; the red states are despised as backward, in their secret hearts, by the majority of the MSM.)

Was the color blue chosen arbitrarily? We address that question elsewhere, but let me put forward a hypothesis here. Before the 2000 election, most major polling organizations predicted a slim popular-vote majority for Bush, the Republican candidate. Gallup predicted the smallest majority; Zogby was the only major pollster to predict a majority for Gore, and came closest to predicting Bush's ultimate winning margin of negative half a percent. But the important point here is that the media might have expected the majority of voters in the Democratic-leaning states to end up blue, hence the choice of color scheme. Now, I'm pretty sure this hypothesis is wrong, but I wanted an excuse to mention the polling situation before the election, so there you go. I state a hypothesis I consider less improbable at the red-state entry.

Incidentally, there was a lot of speculation before the election that, given the closeness of the vote, the electoral vote might go the opposite way from the popular vote. That happened, of course, but not as expected. After the 2000 election, and especially after the 2004 election, the blue states were evidently the states with the higher proportion of voters who were blue about the outome of the election.

Barry Manilow. A popular singer of the 1970's. Most of our BM-related material is at the CCU entry.

Basilar Membrane.

Bench Mark.

(Domain name code for) Bermuda.

Bollywood Mail. Part of the Bollywood World Network. Few URL's have five w's. The movie It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World has five if you count the em's as upside-down double-u's. The treasure that motivated its plot, if you can call the centrifugal motion of an all-star cast of comic personalities a plot, was buried under the big dubba-yoo. For a few years the president of the US was dubya, and if only it had been a movie, it would have been a lot funnier. Unfortunately, real life is usually not a movie.

We seem to be getting a bit off-topic here. At a separate entry we explain Bollywood to the uninitiated.

Bowel Movement. [Parentese and hospitalese.]

Nietzsche, always a sickly fellow, was appointed to the chair of classical philology at Basel when he was 24. There he met the historian Jakob Burckhardt, whom he came to admire greatly. (You wouldn't get the idea from his books that he could really admire anyone, would you?) The admiration wasn't mutual. Burckhardt is said to have remarked,

``That Nietzsche fellow? He couldn't even have a healthy bowel movement.''

Scattered other relevant stuff:
Mornings at his ashram, Mohandas Ghandi (or Ghandiji, or Mahatma Ghandi, as he was later known) would typically ask his, uh, staff or whatever if they had had good bowel movements. Barry Manilow's initials are BM. It reminds me of an observation of W.C. Fields. He noted the identity of the first two letters of the closely allied terms ``alimentary canal'' and ``alcohol.'' Could this be a mere coincidence? ``Hardly,'' he scoffed. (Fields, incidentally, was born William Claude Dukenfield. He used various pseudonyms as a scriptwriter, including Mahatma Kane Jeeves.) There's a bit more specifically about BM at the CCU entry. There's a bit more excrementitious or at least GI-related stuff at the Veep entry.

Brick[s]-and-Mortar. (As opposed to online, rather than to clapboard-and-nails, say, or ice-cream-sticks-and-white-glue.)

Bryn Mawr. A college in Philadelphia. The undergraduate college is still all-female. That's where I should have gone to graduate school.

[column] There is a series of student texts of Classical (Greek and Latin) works called the Bryn Mawr Classical Texts. Here's a list.

There are two respected series of emailed reviews of scholarly literature called the Bryn Mawr Reviews (BMR), namely Bryn Mawr Classical Review (BMCR) and Medieval Review [used to be BMMR, now TMR (for The MR)].

Japanese: unfortunately chosen name of consequently short-lived beverage product. Cf. Pocari Sweat.

On the subject of BM and beverages, I own a book by one B. M. Smirnov (Boris Mikhailovich), a member of the erstwhile Academy of the Sciences of the USSR, Moscow, who wrote Otristatel'nye Iony. I have Negative Ions (McGraw-Hill, 1982), a translation by S. Chomet.

British Majorette Association? Name changed. You want the BBTSA.

Bulletin de Médecine Ancienne. In this instance, ancienne really means `ancient' and not `old.' The official English title is Ancient Medicine Newsletter. BMA is online and free.

Business Marketing Association. ``[S]erves the professional, educational and career development needs of business-to-business [``B2B''] marketers - advertisers, agencies, media and their partner suppliers.''

Broadcast Master Antenna Control.

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung. German `Federal Ministry of Education and Research.'

Bulk Molding Compound.


Bryn Mawr Commentaries.


Bryn Mawr Classical Review.

Ballistic Missile Defense.

Ballot-Marking Device. Generic term for a machine that helps the disabled to vote by marking a paper ballot. There are a number of BMD manufacturers, and BMD's deal in a variety of ways with a variety of disabilities, though the main disabilities necessitating BMD's are visual impairments. BMD's may, for example, present options (and confirm selections) through a head set, or through a screen display made more readable by enlargement or the use of high-contrast two-tone display. The voter may enter selections using a touch-screen or a Braille keypad. A voter with limited mobility may identify selections using a sip-and-puff device or rocker paddles. BMD's are expensive.

BMD's aren't normally used for vote counting. The ballots marked by a BMD are transfered through a ``privacy sleeve'' (shades of cone of silence) to an optical scanner or ballot box.

Bending-Moment Diagram. The bending moment is essentially the integral of the shear force as a function of distance along the beam. What beam, you say? The one that the load is trying to shear. Cf. SFD.

Bone Mineral Density.

Building Material Dealer.

Bulk MicroDefects.

Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. Current name of what was originally SDIO. At first, all tests of prospective ballistic missile defense systems failed. The company that's designing the system and that desperately needs to demonstrate progress now claims success in non-rigged tests.

If anybody wants to commit mass murder, they can buy a delivery vehicle from the North Koreans, say, a warhead from any of a number of states, and shoot. The most we could do is hit back at whatever innocent party is still in the vicinity of the launch site. It's still MAD.

Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering.

Bachelor of Music Education.

BioMechanical Engineering.

BioMedical Engineering.

Bryn Mawr Electronic Resources Review.

BioMedical Engineering Society.

Ballistic-Missile Early Warning System. Yes, at least some Air Force people pronounced that ``bemuse.'' See DEW Line entry.

BundesMinisterium für Forschung und Technologie. German, `Federal Ministry for Research and Technology.'

Bertelsmann Music Group. ``Creativity thrives in our culture that emphasizes team spirit, motivation, and innovation'' but not grammar. (It's not just the use of that as relative clause for nonrestrictive clause; it's the absence of a comma which today signals such a clause. What? What did I say?)

Bulk Metallic Glass. It's tricky to make a metallic glass, because it's easy for the metal atoms at the solidification front to shift around a little bit and form a microcrystalline solid. At first, metallic glasses were made in thin ribbons, by the splat cooling process. It was eventually found that certain alloys (with near-eutectic compositions, of course) were glass-formers: they could be cooled sufficiently quickly to form BMG. The early ones usually had a lot of zirconium. Another good BMG system is PdxNi0.8-xP0.2 (0 < x < 1). The best glass-former is in the middle of the range: Pd4Ni4P2.

British Materials Handling Federation. BMHF comprises

Bis MaleImide.

Body Mass Index. Mass in kg / (Height in m)2 or 703 × `Weight in lb.' / (Height in inches)2. Medical gurus say 25 is good, 27 is overweight going into obese (obese is over 30, if you want a completely otiose but standard number). So your target weight is 0.0355 × (height in inches)2. The health fascists will help you compute it. More effective ideas on how to lose weight at the body weight entry.

The BMI is invalid for anyone under 18 years old, serious athletes and body builders, pregnant women (duh), nursing women, and the frail or sedentary elderly. It's also invalid for everybody else. ``Invalid'' in the sense of ``poor prognosticator of future health'' and ``not a measure of lean/fat ratio.''

Incidentally, the otiose number that is 25 (threshold of overweight) was 27.8 for men and 27.3 for women. In 1998, when the NIH lowered the threshold, 35 million previously non-overweight Americans became overweight. Clearly, the NIH is one of the major causes of overweight in the US today.

The great utility of BMI is to remind people that obesity is not a weight condition -- it's a condition of weight relative to height. Therefore, if you're obese, you're not really overweight -- you're just undertall. It turns out to be just as easy to get taller (and stay taller) as it is to become lighter (and stay lighter). Food for thought. (I did not coin the word ``undertall.'' It occurred in a Garfield cartoon.)

Book Manufacturers' Institute.

British Medical Journal.

Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Bone Marrow MonoNuclear Cell.

Bryn Mawr Medieval Review. Original name of The Medieval Review, (TMR) before it moved to Medieval Institute at Western Michigan University.

Beginning of Morning Nautical Twilight. The time when the sun has risen to a point 12 degrees below the horizon. At latitudes close to and inside the Arctic and Antarctic circles, there are nights when nautical twilight never begins or ends. (See EENT for more precise formulation.)

Bonding Molecular Orbital (MO).

Brigade motorisée. French term for cops in cars.

Big Man On Campus. College student VIP. Concept dissipated in the 60's. Not necessarily related to BMI.


Best Manufacturing Processes.

``The main goal of BMP is to increase the quality, reliability, and maintainability of goods produced by American firms. The primary steps toward this goal are simple: identify best practices, document them, and then encourage industry, government, and academia to share information about them.''

The welcome text on their homepage (which can be hidden by Javascript-called images) is misaligned. Depending on the size of the window in which it is viewed, differing portions of the first paragraph are hard to read because they overlap images. Gotta give credit due, though, the text-browser version is well set-up.

Basal Metabolic Rate. This is the metabolic rate -- the power consumption -- minimally necessary for mere survival. Since humans don't hibernate, it's essentially the metabolic rate that obtains during deep sleep, when the body is limp and the eyes aren't rolling around following some dream vision. Metabolic rates vary with activity and with state of health. To take an extreme example, in extended food deprivation, the human body husbands calories carefully, eliminating such luxuries as thinking (except about food). On the other hand, the BMR, because it represents what one might call nondiscretionary energy expenses, varies less, and represents a useful baseline for discussion.

One study has indicated that children's metabolic rates fall below the sleeping rate while they watch TV. TV: TM for children! [Other animals can do this.] Of course, ``sleep like a baby'' has always been an odd simile, as haggard new parents will testify.

Here's a BMR calculator that's very nice, but doesn't work. There're a couple of fatuously precise formulae here.

An increasingly popular measure for health discussion is the RMR (resting metabolic rate) which has the great advantage of being practically measurable.


Bryn Mawr Reviews. Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews (BMCR) and The Medieval Review (TMR).

Bulletin de Methologie Sociologique. I've heard a rumor that this means `Bulletin of Sociological Methodology' and since I'm too lazy to look up all the words, I'm going to assume provisionally that that's correct. A ``quarterly scientific journal which publishes in both English and French. Each issue of the BMS contains research articles, extensive book and article reviews, as well as documentation and information on different meetings throughout the world. All research articles have abstracts in both English and French. Twice a year, in March and September issues, the BMS also publishes the Newsletter of Research Committee 33 (RC33) `Logic and Methodology'.''

Buried Mushroom Structure. Sounds like a sensible approach to fungiculture, but it's actually a shape of laser diode. Cf. BRS.

There's an old Yiddish curse that goes [in translation] ``May you grow like an onion -- with your head in the ground.''

It's probably bad form to scratch your head while puzzling this one out.

Bone-Marrow [cell] { Transfer | Transplant[ation] }.

BMT, B.-M.T.
Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit. Former private company that owned part of the New York City subway system. The name is still used informally to refer their lines. Cf. IND, IRT, NYCT.

Since the use of punctuation in initialisms has declined and can now seem old-fashioned, it is natural that the punctuated form (B.-M.T.) has come to be used exclusively for the original private company, in contradistinction to the BMT lines within the current subway system.

Bolsa Mexicana de Valores. The Mexican bourse. The word valores in this context can be values of commodities contracts and bonds, and not just stocks. `Securities' in the general sense.

Bureau of Motor Vehicles. That's what it's called in Indiana. You've got two months from the time you move to Indiana to register your vehicle and get a new driver's license. (In England -- a century ago, anyway -- births were supposed to be registered within 42 days.) Here are a few tips:
  1. You can take the driving exam on paper or by pushing buttons on a machine. The old paper exam is still based on the information in the driver's license brochure. The ``computer'' test? You're on your own.
  2. License branches are open late Thursday and closed Monday -- and most crowded on Tuesday.
  3. The light season is the last fifth of the year. If you can put off registering from the beginning of October to the end of October, it'll make an enormous difference. Even from the 18th to the 25th is a big difference.

(There is an exception to the closed-Monday rule: all full-service license branches are required by law to be open until 8pm the day before any election, and open early on election day, solely for the purpose of issuing driver's licenses and state identification cards.)

Bayerische Motoren Werke. Informally, BMW vehicles are often called ``beemers.'' Cf. Big Blue. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars belongs to BMW these days; the sale was completed in June 1998.

The BMW 507 is a legendary vehicle that you can find out about at many places on the web, such as BMW world. From the front it has a look that's a little bit like a Triumph. The picture below right is of a custom 1957 BMW 507, built by Pichon et Parat of Sens, France. [Click for a larger (360 KB) image.] I guess they couldn't have made it in Sedan, France. I should probably mention that the sedan chair and later the sedan (vehicle type) are not believed to have anything etymologically to do with the city of Sedan. Cf. coach.

[sexy, sexy car]

The car was for the personal use of Raymond Loewy, who designed the custom body. Loewy was a legendary (yes, more legends) industrial designer; if you can't see the bloodlines of the Avanti and even the Corvette in this picture, you're blind. Here's a rear view served by Loewy Design. (Their brief bio mentions some of his projects -- the Coca-Cola bottle, the original Air Force One for JFK, Lucky Strike, Greyhound Bus, the Pennsylvania S-1 Locomotive (see locomotives collection), the Exxon and Shell (not to mention BP) logos, NASA interiors for Skylab and the Space Shuttle, and of course the Avanti. But of course they can't cover the man's entire oevre briefly. The more extensive collection in the gallery doesn't even include the United Airlines plane paint scheme, introduced in the mid-fifties -- an important, as-usual fashion-setting commission.

In 1962 Loewy donated this car to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (LACM). It is now on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum (a part of the LACM founded in 1994).

(At the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, you can see a video about the designing of the Avanti. According to Loewy Design it's the only car ever to have been exhibited in the Louvre.)

Bitching and Moaning Witch. Shannen Doherty's nickname on the set of the movie Heathers. Pejorative. And allusive. One wonders whether the epithet inspired the TNT TV show Charmed.

Bicycle MotoCROSS. BMX began in the 1970's or so, as a pedal-powered children's version of cross-country motorcycling, or motocross. The bikes had 20-inch wheels. The design of mountain bikes, with 26-inch wheels, was a later development.

Background Noise.

Barnes and Noble. A publisher and a chain of superstores for books.


Biblische Notizen. `Biblical Notes.' Hard to believe there'd still be any. Oh, okay, it's subtitled Beiträge zur exegetischen Diskussion (`contributions to exegetical discussion'). A journal published in Bamberg from 1976 to 1985, in Munich since.

Birth Narrative. The BN's of Jesus occurring in the gospels of Luke and Matthew differ in a variety of details, some of them apparently minor: the name of Jesus's grandfather, the home town of J's parents, what they were doing in Bethlehem, etc. The existence of these disagreements (here and in the PN and resurrection story), alongside a large number of agreements with Matthew, is the principal motivation for positing a distinct Q document.

Border Node. Such a node typically has a nonstandard number of connections, and sometimes it's convenient to define the set of BN's in terms on the basis of that property.

Boron Nitride. The allotrope that is thermodynamically stable at room temperature is a hexagonally-symmetric planar material. Microscopically, it has the same structure as graphite, but with half of the carbons replaced by boron (B) and the other half by nitrogen (N). Chemically, this is understood in terms of the same scheme as graphite: bonds are well described by sp2 hybridization.

Boron nitride has a high-pressure allotrope, CBN, that is harder than the hexagonal-plane low-pressure-stable isotope, just as graphite has a harder high-pressure allotrope in diamond. Unlike graphite, however, hexagonal BN is already pretty hard. In abrasives applications, the low-pressure allotrope is sold as ``Norbide.''

Bridge Number.

(Domain name code for) Brunei Darussalam.

Bahrain News Agency.

Base-Neutralized Acid. As if anything else were up to the task.

An unwisely unutilized initialism for Bilge News Agency (sometimes shortened to ``Bilge''). It looks like reverse psychology, but Bilge is just a common Turkish proper noun. (Also apparently unused is BHA, for the original Turkish Bilge Haber ajansı.)

Location identifier for Nashville, Tennessee. Cockpit/control-tower communication often refers to this as ``Banana.''

Also, back when Braniff (was still in business and) had given all of its planes garish solid-color VW-beetle-like paint jobs, Braniff flights were referred to in control-tower communications as ``jelly beans.''

Block Numbering Area.

British North America. The BNA Act of 1867 was the act of British Parliament constituting the Dominion of Canada from the former provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick (with provision for the eventual admission into the union of other parts of British North America). Also called the ``Constitution Act, 1867.'' The comma and date are part of name. Gee, this stuff can get complicated; God save the Queen!

The same act created the provinces of Ontario and Quebec (that's the province that eventually was renamed Québec) out of the former Province of Canada, restoring the division of former Québec into the colonies of Upper and Lower Canada, respectively, that was implemented in 1791 and rescinded in 1841. I tell'ya.

Bureau of National Affairs, Inc.

Balance NAVE. An immersive virtual environment display for research into the rehabilitation of people suffering from balance disorders. Developed at the University of Pittsburgh. See Jacobson, et al., in VRST 2001 : Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology, pp. 103-109.

The connector type it refers to is clear, but the expansion is not. Could be Baby N-type Connector, or {Bayonet|Baby|British} Nav{al|y} Connector. Also Bayonet Neill-Concelman, after Paul Neill and Carl Concelman. Invented by Octavio Salati (an electrical engineering professor of the Moore School of Electrical Engineering of the University of Pennsylvania), if you must know. Bayonet refers to the fact that these connectors slide straight in, as opposed to TNC. [Are soldiers taught to give their bayonets a twist?]

People often speak redundantly and pleonastically of the ``BNC connector.'' We're gonna get the language police on your case.

A very common connector for 50-ohm coaxial microwave cable. Really the most common by far, but optimists deny it. Designed for operation to 11 GHz, not bad operation (VSWR less than 1.3) to 4 GHz. What do you expect from quick-disconnect system? You want performance, use a threaded connector like TNC, N-type, 7/16, triax...).

[The precise expansion of the BNC acronym is a much-disputed matter. Here is the unauthoritative straight poop, or scoop, or whatever: it does not stand for Berkeley Nucleonics Corp., not British Naval, not Banana Nutmeg Chocolate.]

Maybe: Bayonet Neill Concelman.

Berkeley Nucleonics Corporation. This has led to some confusion with the connector.

Bibiothèque nationale du Canada. French name of the National Library of Canada.

British National Corpus. A database of over 100 million words both spoken and written English, partly in digital formats.

Boron Neutron Capture Therapy. Isn't it cool how a normally functioning mind never reads ``Boron'' and thinks ``Sure, the intermediate boson that communicates the boring force.''

Bulk Negative Differential Conductivity.

Backus-Naur Form. Read RFC 822.

Bibliothèque national de France. Through its Gallica website, BnF is generously making a very large number of works available online. I hope that soon they will have these translated into a widely-used language such as English.

Batteries Not Included.

BareNaked Ladies. A rock group.

Brookhaven National Laboratory. In Upton, LI.

Bank Negara Malaysia. Malaysia's central bank.

British Nuclear Medicine Society.

British National (Overseas). Passport issued to Hong Kong residents. With this passport and many kilobucks, you have the right to settle in the democratic country of your choice. You can even do this without the passport -- it's that powerful. For more insight, you should have visited this site while it was still possible.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

British National Party. Currently a racist party of the right, founded in 1982. There have been two previous BNP's.

Business News Publishing.

Batch News ReCeive Via UUCP.

Binary Neutron Star system. A/k/a neutron star binaries. These are of special interest to researchers trying to detect gravitational waves because they are very compact, so they can get closer and spin faster than systems of comparable mass before they collapse together (usually, given the range of masses, into a black hole). Even with these factors, the existing experiments are expected to be able to detect only the last few minutes of inspiraling.

Barclay New Testament. A translation by William Barclay, an expert.

Barclay's Bank was giving American Express some competition in the traveler's check business. Whatever happened to them?

Burlington Northern and Santa Fe RailRoad (RR).

Broadband Network Termination.

Baseband National Television Standards Committee (NTSC).

Boltzmann-Nordheim-Vlasov. Nuclear dynamics model based on single-particle distribution-function description. See Bonasera, A., Gulminelli, F. and Molitoris, J., Phys. Rep. 243, 1, (1995).

Brave New World.

In Shakespeare's ``The Tempest,'' Miranda has a little speech in the first scene of Act V:

O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beautious mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in't!

(She has just met her future father-in-law.) A word is probably in order here about this play, since it was the obvious inspiration of such classics as Gilligan's Island and I Dream of Jeannie. Unfortunately, I'm too busy at this time to do justice to these classics. The only reason I'm putting this entry in at all is a novella by Aldous Huxley, who could trace his descent not just generally to the early hominids, but also specifically to Thomas H. Huxley (Canis darwiniensis, or ``Darwin's bulldog''). The book describes a dystopia of the twenty-sixth century -- a sex-obsessed, pill-popping, hedonistic society in which the process of human procreation has become highly technologized, and children don't know who their fathers are. Many children are born suffering to a greater or lesser degree from fetal alcohol syndrome, and this disability relegates them permanently to an underclass. Civilization, in other words, has finally been established on a rational basis. I don't know about you, but to me this sounds oddly familiar.

Anyway, as you may imagine, the BNW phrase enjoyed a vogue after Huxley's book was published in 1932. Archibald MacLeish published a sort of open letter to Thomas Jefferson, in the form of a poem entitled ``Brave New World.'' It basically took Americans to task for not struggling bravely to extend freedom. This was first published in the September 1946 issue of Atlantic Monthly. It's hard to be certain, from the vague contemporary references in the poem, what precise time frame is meant. It is just possible that it was written in the 1930's. From 1939 to 1944, MacLeish served as Librarian of Congress, and from 1944 to 1945 as Assistant Secretary of State; in that six-year period he claimed he wrote but one poem (this wasn't it), so this ``Brave New World'' might have been left over unpublished from before the war. But it doesn't seem to be.

The BNW phrase must have had a powerful resonance at war's end. A best-selling novel also published in 1946, B.F.'s Daughter, used the phrase also. (Page 154, line 9 of my copy; you should be able to find it.) See BF entry for more about this book.)

In some cases (like the two above) one cannot be certain whether the allusion is to Huxley or directly to the bard, or if the writer is pretending to just happen to be using brave in an archaic sense. In other cases, the Huxley connection seems obvious. In the negligible poem ``The Proposition,'' published in 1993, Sylvia Kantaris mentioned the BNW of condomless sex.

But I only wanted to point out that Huxley didn't single-handedly revive a phrase that had somehow sunk into complete obscurity: there were earlier examples. Not surprisingly, for example, the phrase occurs in the egregiously prolific Bulwer-Lytton's Orval (1869). (For a bit more about Bulwer-Lytton, see It was a dark and stormy night.) A most interesting use of the phrase is by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), who published a poem entitled ``The Gods of the Copybook Headings'' in 1919. The named gods apparently represent ignored wisdom, as it is encapsulated in proverbs like ``stick to the devil you know.'' The poem ends thus:

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man--
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began:--
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
[This poem was published a number of times and with slightly variant titles. It's possible that the original version had some final punctuation in the line that ends with begins, but there isn't in any of the versions I've seen, including that in Rudyard Kipling's Verse: Definitive Edition (Doubleday, 1940).]

Bank of New Zealand.

Bibliotheca Orientalis.

Body Odor. Ostensible euphemism, but actual dysphemism, introduced in early deodorant advertisements. This is brilliant marketing, from the days when GM advertised a car using a jingle with the refrain ``it's subliminal!'' Was it in 1968 that George Romney destroyed his presidential prospects by saying that he'd been ``brain-washed'' by the North Vietnamese?

And on the subject of subliminal advertising, Debra Ginsberg revealed these research findings in Waiting:

... I began experimenting with earrings early in my waitressing career. I found that if I wore fish earrings, I would invariably sell more fish, earrings in the shape of grapes or bottles equaled greater sales of wine, earrings in the shape of pasta--yes, I actually own a pair--were always noticed and invariably spurred orders for pasta.

Man, I'm mining that book deep. But what do grapes have to do with wine? What? You say wine is made from grapes? I didn't know! The things some people think ought to be common knowledge -- it's amazing. Once Dennis (Gary's brother) was skywatching with someone when they saw a shooting star. The other guy (let me be clear about that: not Dennis -- I wouldn't want to give him any anonymous notoriety) said, ``wouldn't it be cool if all the stars shot off at once?''

Yesterday I told my mom about how once in grad school I was telling a table-mate about a couple of identical twins. I had given their names, which were not common, and she had interrupted to ask ``are they the same sex?'' My mother insisted that it was not completely preposterous for someone to be ignorant enough to ask the question. Her idea of abject ignorance is not knowing why floats have greater buoyancy in the ocean than in fresh water. My friend Vladimir thought it, um, odd that I shouldn't know the standard number of teeth in an adult human mouth (32; see tooth numbering).

More pasta information is coming soon to an SBF entry near you -- probably the marzipan entry, when we have one. Be on the look-out.

(Domain name code for) Bolivia. Here's a country FAQ. Do they still have two capitals (La Paz, Sucre)? The national congressional website indicates, hmm..., yes: Sucre is the ``constitutional'' capital and La Paz is the seat of government. Just poking around ... here's something interesting:

El Estado reconoce y sostiene la religión Católica, pero garantiza el ejercicio público de todo otro culto (Art. 3ro. de la Constitución Política del Estado).

That is: According to the third article of their constitution, `the state recognizes and supports the [Roman] Catholic religion, but guarantees the public exercise of all others.'

BolNet claims to be the highest net in the world. Here's another Bolivian bookmark.

Born-Oppenheimer. The famous BO approximation is the determination of electronic wavefunctions as if the nuclei or ions were stationary. This is essentially the same physical idea as that which motivates the Franck-Condon Principle. The general idea, from a straightforward classical point of view, is that because of Newton's third law, the momenta of electrons and ions are roughly comparable. Hence, the velocities are inversely proportional to the masses. Since every ion is at least 1836 times more massive than an electron (1836 is the ratio of proton to electron mass) and usually many times that, the ion is essentially stationary over time scales of an electron orbit.

Mathematically, the way one uses this is to determine electronic wave functions that are solutions of the Schrödinger equation for a Hamiltonian in which the ion coordinates are treated as fixed and the ion kinetic energy is ignored. The resulting electronic states have, of course, energies that depend on the ion coordinates. These energies are, in turn, used as potentials for the purely ionic Schrödinger equation. [Physically, this corresponds to the idea that the time scales relevant to ion wavefunctions are so long compared to electronic time scales that the electrons evolve adiabatically, staying in the ``same'' (i.e., the continuously deformed) electronic states.]

B.O., BO
Box Office. A little office whose claustrophobic inhabitant sells movie tickets through a slot in the window. A box office usually has a better view than a cubicle.

Branch Office.

Pal. That's according to OSPD, which gives a plural bos. I'd say it's a term of address, like `Mac' and `Joe' -- a kind of antonomasia. That's why it's typically capitalized. (Ho and Bo have both been used this way, and both are slangy pronunciations of Hob and Bob, nicknames for Robert.) Bo (or Bo') is used only, or almost exclusively, in the vocative. It doesn't mean ``pal,'' though it may suggest that the person addressed is one. The existence of a plural form is questionable.

On the other hand, bos is a genus that in principle, at least, is more precise in terms of species than cow, bull or cattle. Also, unlike cow, bull, or ox, it is not gender-specific. Therefore, I approve the fact that all three major Scrabble dictionaries accept bos (and bo), but not boes. I just don't agree with their reasons.

`Born On A Pirate Ship.' A BNL album.

board foot
A unit of volume measure for wood, equal to 144 cubic inches (i.e., the volume of a one-foot-square board, one inch high). The plural of board foot is board feet, because traditional units are wonderful.

The quantity given in board feet is not the volume, exactly, because of conventions about how it is computed. The quantity of wood in board feet is computed from the nominal values of width and thickness (see lumber dimensions) and the actual length, except that for nominal thicknesses of less than one inch, the thickness is taken to be one inch. So if you were to use board feet to compute the quantity of sheet stock exclusively, you'd basically be computing something close to the area in square feet.

Board of Trustees
A distinguished panel appointed by the management to keep an eye on the management.

In the usual sort of boat, the fluid is meant to be on the outside. In crystal growth techniques that use a ``boat,'' the boat contains the fluid that is intended to crystallize. You think they might as well have called it a cup, but it's oblong, and longer than it is deep. So you think they might have called it a scoop or a dish, but ``corn-cob dish'' would probably have been going too far. Anyway, the boat travels back and forth within the growth chamber.

Byway Open to All Traffic. The term had a precise sense (or at least a legal definition) in the UK between 1984 and 2006: a highway over which the public have a right to travel on foot, on horse, or in vehicles. So yes, this is a byway that is a highway, but it's a highway only in the sense of being a public thoroughfare. And sure, travel by horse is also travel on foot, if a horse's hoof is regarded as a foot, but horses aren't members of the public, I think. Can sheep be driven on a BOAT? An intriguing-sounding question, but the question has a definite answer: maybe. The driving of animals may or not be allowed. Despite the expansion, BOAT's are really generally used as bridleways or footpaths. From a legal point a of view, it is simplest to regard a bridleway as a footpath where biking and riding are permitted and where driving (of animals) may be permitted. These definitions apply primarily to England and Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland are subject to somewhat different laws.

After 2006, all roads used as public paths (RUPP's) that had not been designated as BOAT's were designated ``restricted byways,'' and the old BOAT's became plain ``byways'' (unrestricted vehicularly or grammatically). The term BOAT is still used (to mean simply ``byway'' now).

boat anchor
A tool or machine so obsolete that its only value is in its raw mass. I tried to unload an Intel 286-based computer as long ago as 1995, calling around to stores that advertised used equipment, and the only offer I got was a per-pound rate for scrap. I might have had better luck giving it away to a student or private day-school.

If you don't know of a school that will take your boat anchor, try the Detwiler Foundation, which has detailed information (by state) on its Computers-For-Schools program. (But don't try too hard. The link was dead when I checked Oct. 14, 2003; I'm hoping that was temporary. Okay, as of 2010 it's back up, but not too useful unless you read Japanese.) Another group, PEP (``Resources for Parents, Educators & Publishers'') offered a PEP National Directory of Computer Recycling Programs. It also listed non-US agencies. Now that's gone. Why are these sites going away? I think it's become common for local governments and other organizations to sponsor periodic electronic-equipment recycling collections, so it's no longer the problem it was.

This is probably the place to mention Motherboard Enterprises, Inc. When I browsed the site a few years ago, they explained their creative work thus:

Founded in 1991, Motherboard specializes in the manufacturing of high quality gift products utilizing reclaimed circuit boards and other fun and unique materials.

These products capture the intrinsic beauty of technology while providing an environmentally friendly alternative to the circuit boards being disposed of in landfills. Each product may vary by color and pattern making every item unique - virtually one of a kind.

The circuit board may have been designed for use in a computer, an electronics component, a phone, or a television.

What an exciting crafts idea! Wasn't that inspiring? The domain name (motherboardinc.com) is available.

If your computer is a real antique, you might find a taker among the subscribers of ClassicCmp.

There was a NYTimes article, around summer 1998, on how folks won't discard their old computers, perhaps because they cost too much in the first place, and they're hanging around behind doors, on top of file cabinets, under desks, that sort of thing. It's true. It's worse at some public institutions, because they often have unrealistic accounting procedures. At UB, for example, equipment stays on the books at its original value instead of being depreciated, so the state hoards all its boat anchors like a crazy-jealous miserly aunt. These stupid accounting practices clutter the laboratories, so people leave worthless equipment out in the hall hoping it will be stolen. Vain hope (but see the Cu entry). This creates a fire hazard, so they have to make rules against leaving equipment in the halls.

As of 2010, I'm having second thoughts about that last paragraph. Computers prices have come down some, and people have gotten more used to tossing them. Some support for literally tossing them may have come from that cell-phone ad on television, where people stood around on rooftops waiting for a dump truck to pass by so they could toss their old brand-X cell phones into it.

On the private side, property taxes make people acutely aware of the cost of space, so stuff is likelier to get tossed. Also, someone is likelier to go to Washington D.C. and lobby for more liberal (i.e., faster) depreciation schedules for tax purposes.

There have been cute advertisements showing computers in reuse applications, such as monitor boxes converted to aquaria. Ironically, a good monitor is one of the easier components to integrate in an upgraded technology environment. Or was, until we all switched to plasma screens.

A synonym of boat anchor, with another interesting assortment of connotations, is legacy system.

Not only computers can be boat anchors. The newsgroup for vacuum-tube-based amateur radios is called <rec.radio.amateur.boatanchors>. Here's a page with pictures of boat anchors of the radio kind.

When I worked at the Princeton University cyclotron, I was told that the big (meter-scale) blocks of cement that were used as bulk radiation shielding had been boat anchors. They had handles, but I don't know -- they didn't look like boat anchors.

BOB, b.o.b.
Beginning Of Business day.

  1. Oscillate vertically like an object floating in wavy water, or to move in a way that suggests this motion.
  2. Cut. Hence ``bobbed hair'' (short hair; one women's and girls' hair style popular in the 20's was called a ``bob'') and ``bobby socks'' (half-height socks, a teenage girls' fashion in the late 50's or so). Cf. a vindication of the nomen est omen proverb.
  1. An oscillation caused by bobbing (verb definition 1).
  2. A short hair style.
  3. Brit. slang for a shilling (a coin worth one twentieth of a pound sterling; five new pence or twelve old). Possibly this name for a shilling comes from the old low-denomination Scottish coin bawbee. This usage has nothing to do with the British expression ``And Bob's your uncle!'' The latter honors the memory of a famous incident of literal nepotism.

BOlivian Boliviano. ``BOB'' represents a currency symbol, and not the abbreviation of a standard term (which would be ``boliviano boliviano,'' and silly, if written entirely in Spanish). One BOB was worth about twelve cents of a USD in June 2005.

BOurgeois and/or BOhemian. A term introduced by David Brooks in his book Bobos in Paradise. It's apparently a parody that the foolish majority will take seriously, like Daylight Saving Time (DST). The premise is that the bourgeois wore suits and worked at banks and the bohemians wore jeans and hung out in cafes, but now the two groups have merged into a new elite defined by their shopping habits.

This book was discovered and promoted by Bob Schieffer, who apparently has nothing better to do for CBS News at his office in Washington, DC. This entire sordid inanity is what you could call extreme middle-brow.

``Bobos in Paradise'' sounds like ``Lawyers in Love,'' for more on which, see the PSU entry. Acronyms like bobo are wreaking havoc with the rule about forming plurals with -es from words ending in o.

It's disturbing that bobo is almost an anagram of boo, bob, oboe, and boo-boo. Anagrammatical reasoning often offers insights, but I can't think of any precise anagrams. Can you? More David Brooks content, alas, in the good humor entry.

Bell Operating Company.

Blue Öyster Cult.

Company originally founded as Brin's Oxygen Company, Ltd. in England on 26 January. Changed name to British Oxygen Company in 1906. It gets complicated after that, but they still sell gases.

[Phone icon]

Build-Out {Components|Circuits}. Compensation used to impedance-match [telephone] hybrids (q.v.).

ter-ButylOxyCarbonyl. Used in peptide cleavage.

Spanish, `mouth.' (From the Latin bucca, which also meant cheek. Anglophone dentists use buccal, from Latin buccalis, in the specific sense of `cheekward.') Boca Raton is `Mouse Mouth.' Boca Grande is `Big Mouth.' In Joan Didion's A Book of Common Prayer, Charlotte Douglas goes looking for her terrorist daughter in the country of Boca Grande, but the daughter is in Buffalo.

A brand name for meat-substitute products. The Boca Foods Company prints it both as ``Boca'' and ``BOCA,'' but the word is apparently not an acronym. According to their ``about us'' page, ``[h]ere's how it all began: BOCA Burger was born when a Boca Raton chef felt he could make a great veggie burger his way.''

Slang for BODy. Not pejorative at all.

Bio{ chemical | logical } Oxygen Demand.

bodice ripper
  1. A subvariety of the romance novel genre. The bodice is an outmoded component of women's underwear (I think maybe that's supposed to be ``foundation garment'' or something else more decorous -- not VPL), so it's probably superfluous to explain that bodice-rippers stress the excitement of seduction, and that they tend toward historical settings peopled by men in exotic, violent lines of work like pirate or highwayman.

    In our modern era, of course, the only politically correct kind of sexual congress resembles political congress: it involves a lot of deferential expressions of respect and explicit, if possibly unromantic, reassurances that interaction is welcomed by the non-initiating party. Everything else is date rape. Pandas are like that, but they're not quite extinct yet. Europeans are going that way too.

    This new regime seems to have drawbacks as a setting for sexy romances. Another advantage of historical settings is that obviously, the reader is not projecting himself or herself into the person of the heroine but merely indulging in an intellectual exercise that is not congruent with personal fantasies. Hence, no guilt!

  2. Romance novel.

Bo Diddley
A registered trademark and the stage name of the legendary guitarist named Ellas McDaniel, who was born Otha Ellas Bates (he was adopted by his mother's cousin, Mrs. Gussie McDaniel). A biographical page at the Rockabilly Internet Hall of Fame (RHOF) quotes ``...Bo Diddley is me; to tell ya the truth, I don't know what it [the name] really is....''

His classmates gave him the name ``Bo Diddley'' around the time he got his first guitar, a cheap Harmony ``acoustic'' (as we call them now). It was a gift for Christmas 1940 from Lucille McDaniel, his adopted sister (a cousin or a half-sister, I can't make out which). He turned 12 the following December 30 (yes, Bo is one of those tragically undergifted late-December babies).

Because many of the entries in this glossary are permanently incomplete, it may be hard to tell that this entry is temporarily incomplete (for the foreseeable future). There's a lot of contradictory and even self-contradictory material on the web regarding the origin of the Bo Diddley name, and I plan to summarize and evaluate some of it. In the meantime, however, I'd like to launch into webspace something apparently not related on any other page mentioning Bo Diddley: Beau Diddely (note spelling of last name as well as first). That's a character in a Zora Neale Hurston story, ``Black Death,'' which might well have appeared around the time Ellas McDaniel got his nickname. (Hurston was one of the stars of the Harlem Renaissance; the story ought to have been widely read at the time it came out.)

Bo Diddley's first record was released by Checker Records in 1955. Checker Records was a subsidiary of Chess Records, which was owned by the brothers Leonard and Phil Chess. One of Diddley's songs on the record was originally called ``Uncle John.'' Changing its title name (and corresponding lyrics) to ``Bo Diddley'' was a move suggested by the Chess brothers. Didn't this damage the scansion some? Bo's discography, according to a page at <bo-diddley.com>, includes ``Bo Diddley'' (1955), ``Go Bo Diddley'' (1958), ``Hey Bo Diddley!'' (1962), ``Bo Diddley & Company'' (1962), ``Big Bad Bo'' (1974), ``Pay Bo Diddley'' (1989), and ``Bo Knows Bo'' (1995). They have the year wrong for the double A-side ``Bo Diddley''/``I'm A Man'', and they missed at least ``The Mighty Bo Diddley'' (1997), ``The Essential Bo Diddley'' (2000), and other works since 1995. In place of a biography, they have a message that begins...

Your Original Biography Of This Celebrity May Be Published Here

Biography must be an orginal [sic] composition beween 1200 and 1500 words containing a factual chronology of dates, events...

They obviously don't know Diddley.

Bo Diddley's name occurs in many of his other titles and songs. It reminds me of a guest editorial that Al Franken did on the SNL news segment (in the mid-to-late 1980's, probably). Every time that he found an opportunity to refer to himself, he would give his name in an emphatic appositive phrase (i.e., not ``I'' but ``I, [pregnant pause], AL FRANKEN [name flashes on screen]''). There's a certain charm in unabashedly enthusiastic self-promotion; it is somehow the most honest possible ``act.''

Apropos of Checker Records, mentioned above, I must (absolutely must) note that in Spanish, the game of checkers is called damas (`ladies'). We have a dama entry which mentions another artist with self-titled albums. Also, to recall what you already know, the name ``Chubby Checker'' is a nom de microphone (of Ernest Evans). The name was suggested by Dick Clark's wife; Fats Domino was a popular singer at the time.

body weight
What you weigh naked with your glasses on. If you wear heavy glasses and need to lose weight fast, you can stand in the balance without glasses and only put on your glasses afterward to read the weight. This is especially effective if you use a spring balance.

Other, equally useful information at the obesity entry. Utterly feckless ``information'' at BMI.

Biological Oxygen Demand over five (5) days. Why not seven (7) days? Most places nowadays life is organized in, um, seven-day periods, I forget the name, and the ``rhythm of life'' probably mirrors that. I mean, weekend BOD may be at a different rate than BOD during the other part of, uh, whatever that seven-day period is called.

Barrels of Oil Equivalent.

Board Of Education.

Board Of Elections.

Buffered Oxide Etch. A term used in microelectronics fabrication for etching by a buffered solution of hydrogen fluoride (a/k/a BHF, buffered HF), and loosely for the etchant itself. It's ``buffered'' in the usual sense: the acid HF is mixed with dissolved salt (ammonium fluoride). Aqueous solution, of course. The solution is typically about 10% HF and 30-50% NH4F by volume.

BOE is a highly specific etchant: it etches silicon dioxide and stops at silicon. It's used both for removing grown oxide (etch rate ~2 nm/s at room temperature) and initially to remove the native oxide from silicon wafer surfaces in preparation for further processing.

After a BOE wash, the silicon surface tends to stay hydrogenated for from tens of minutes to an hour. This fact has been used to do atomically precise lithography: after a BOE wash, the hydrogenated silicon wafer was placed in an STM (with an oxygen-containing atmosphere called air), where hydrogen atoms were driven off individually with the STM probe tip, oxidizing the silicon atoms at the slected sites.

Would you like to come up to my laboratory and see my etchings?

``The Boeing Company, with headquarters in Seattle, Washington, U.S., is the world's leading manufacturer of commercial airplanes and one of the nation's largest exporters. The company is a major U.S. government contractor, with capabilities in space systems, helicopters, military airplanes, missile systems, information and electronic systems and software products.''

Birds Of a Feather. Similar critters. An allusion to the proverb, ``Birds of a feather flock together.'' The corresponding German proverb is gleiches zu gleichen (`like to like'); I suppose you could claim this is alliterative, if different inflections of a word can be said to alliterate. The French is ``Qui se ressemble s'assemble,'' and I suppose that's a rhyme, but it's not a very impressive one.


The Bastard Operator From Hell.

BIND Operations Guide, but for some reason there is a preference to spell it out as ``Name Server Operations Guide for BIND.''

Board Of Governors. A place where proposals can get muddied and stuck.

One stroke over par for a hole.

Bogie, not bogey

Nickname of Humphrey DeForest Bogart. It seems probable that the Internet Movie Database should have some information about this icon. (Image above mirrors http://wuarchive.wustl.edu/multimedia/images/gif/b/bogart.gif. See also http://wuarchive.wustl.edu/multimedia/images/gif/b/bogart20.gif.

The campus shuttle at Berkeley is called the Gobart.

The US Post Office issued a Bogart stamp in June 1997.

Buy One, Get One (free). Also BOGOF. Notice how they never advertise ``Half price, but you gotta buy two!''

Come think of it, bogo would be Spanish for `bogus,' and the singular male ablative form of bogus in Latin, if bogus, a, um were a Latin adjective, which it happens not to be.

More thoughts at 40. Gee, a big crowd of excited information shoppers has gathered around that entry. I'll tell you what, I'll make you a deal: 66% more paragraphs of information right here, extra, at the same great low price!

In June 2004, I finished off a 22.5 fl. oz. bottle of Alberto VO5 shampoo that I had bought earlier in the year. No, I don't know what VO5 stands for, but I know that my elementary-school classmate Alberto was teased mercilessly until his family moved away. He had smooth and shiny dark brown hair. (For more on the Alberto name, see the Albion entry.) As it happens, the local Osco was having a sale on the same shampoo, in bottles that said

I didn't remember what I paid for the previous bottle or its exact fluid content, but this bottle looked similar. I have no doubt that it had ``33% more,'' but more than what? It turned out to hold 20 fl. oz., so it had 33% more than the usual 13.7 or whatever fl. oz. bottle. This bonus-size bottle happened to be the same height and shape (seen from the front) as the earlier 22.5 fl. oz. bottle. That might have something to do with the manufacturing tools and dies, and it might have something to do with the fact that 20 and 22.5 are very similar numbers. I have no idea what the marketing geniuses were thinking when they came up with their highly original 33%-more promotion, but accidentally, someone who wasn't paying close enough attention might think that he was getting the same (22.5) bottle he'd bought before at a new low price (of the 20). This didn't happen to me because I was clueless, but it could happen to a smarter person.

Dial offers its bar soaps in packages of 12 and in packages with fewer bars. For a while, the bars in the twelve-packs were slightly smaller than the bars in the packages with fewer bars. Doubtless marketing research had shown that people who bought packages with more soap bars didn't really want more soap: they wanted more convenience, so they preferred smaller soap bars. But now people feel differently, so the bars are all the same size.

Buy One, Get One Free. BOGO seems to be the more common acronym, possibly under the influence of `Bozo.'

During the 1992 US presidential campaign, Bill Clinton made ``Buy one, get one free'' a campaign slogan. His wife Hillary often rejoined with ``People call us two-for-one: the Blue Light Special.'' (Blue Light Specials were a promotional scheme used by the Kmart chain of discount stores. Special sales of brief duration were announced over the PA system in the store, and shoppers were directed to find the advertised product under a flashing or rotating blue light. At Kmart in those days, some products were on sale very frequently. At the Kmart near me, there was one kind of sneakers that was on sale for a week every other week.)

The Who sang

And like, one and one don't make two, One and one make one.

The song was called ``Bargain.''

The Bohr radius (a0, q.v.), regarded as a length unit.

In writing computer programs for atomic-scale calculations, it's usually convenient to use natural units like the bohr, so that floating-point arithmetic doesn't over- or underflow, or (worse) do nonfatal things like try to compute finite quantities by almost-infinite-looping near-zero increments. Also, if you state your results in natural units, any new measurement of the fundamental quantities that define a0 (the reduced Planck's constant ħ, the free electron mass m0, the speed of light c, and the fine-structure constant α) arguably improves the accuracy of your calculation. Oh, alright, you can use Ångström instead.

Bank of Ireland.

Arab League's Boycott Office of Israel. I suppose the word order makes sense in Arabic. Various Arab governments have repeatedly assured the US that they no longer adhere to the boycott on purchasing from Israel, but these assurances somehow always remain at odds with the policies in place at customs.

Boiling Water: Tips from the Experts
Also high on the list of book titles I'd like to see.

Bank Of Japan. Japan's central bank, similar in function to the US's Federal Reserve. As of 2010, when it was facing increased pressures to goose the economy (although the benchmark interest rate was already at 0.1%) the head of the BOJ was the economist Masaaki Shirakawa.

Bank Of Korea. The central bank of the Republic of Korea. South Korean finance terms seem to be about the first half of compound food names. In addition to this reference to bok choi, there's the country's currency, the won, suggestive of won ton.

Well, there's bok choi, a vegetable (but there's also a frum bok choi link), and there's bok mål, a language of Norway (less comprehensive site may be more user-friendly; bok maal lessons here; look-up tool here).

Bok choi and bok maal are not frequently confused.

Derek Bok was a president of Harvard University in the 1960's. They renamed a center in his honor. Bok also agreed to serve as interim university president starting July 1, 2006, after the departure of Lawrence Summers (see more under James D. Wolfensohn).

Beginning Of Life (of artificial satellite, in common acronym application).

Bill Of Lading. A written receipt given by a carrier for goods accepted for transportation. Traditionally abbreviated B.L., b.l., B/L, b/l. Actually, it's ``given'' by the carrier in the sense that it isn't worth much as a legal document unless it's signed by the carrier, but the document itself may be generated by the shipper.

Bombay Hollywood. Center of the romance movie industry in India, which turns out hack romances with improbable dubbed singing by the female leads, moralizing melodrama, occasional martial artistry, that sort of schlock.

A lot of my Indian friends insist that they never saw those movies when they lived in India, that the entire industry was beneath their and their entire family's middle class notice. This ignores the first principle of cinema:

If the female lead is beautiful, it isn't a stupid movie.

See also Mike's story at the NAFTA entry. For an opposing opinion, see the Charlie's Angels entry. Fans (of Bollywood) will want to know that there's a free email service called Bollywood Mail (BM, really), part of the Bollywood World Network.

Not that anybody seems to have noticed, but the official name of Bombay was changed to Mumbai in 1996 or 7. It's too bad, because Bombay was pronounced ``bomb by.'' ``Mollywood'' would be an interesting term, since mollies often are either made of or embedded in wood. But they haven't changed the name. They haven't changed the short name of ``The Stock Exchange, Mumbai'' either.

Because em is a nasal and bee is a plosive, people tend not to realize how similar they are both as sounds and as acts of vocal production. In English, they are the only two bilabial voiced consonants. In Modern Greek, the letter we call beta has become a fricative; the letter name is pronounced ``vita'' (still spelled beta-epsilon-tau-alpha, but iotization has closed the sound of the first vowel). In order to express in writing the sound that used to be written with a beta, you write mu-pi. The mu, as noted, has a similar articulation. Pi is essentially an unvoiced /b/.

Oh Gawwwwd: now Dolly Parton has a theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, called Dollywood. ``My one wish for you during your visit to Dollywood is that the wonder of the Great Smoky Mountains will touch your heart'' -- without causing fibrillations, she neglects to say. The park is more about wood than Dolly, heh-heh. The great new ride for 2004 was a wooden roller coaster. As the Dollywood Express, an authentic coal-fired steam train, takes you into the Smoky Mountains, you can see an abandoned sawmill. ``Let your imagination run wild as you explore America's largest interactive treehouse full of kid-powered games, gadgets, and gizmos for all ages.''

Be On the Look-Out. FBI usage.

Latin ablative form and (hence) Modern Spanish form of Latin bolus, from Greek bôlos, meaning `lump' or `clod.' Standard medical terminology, in English and many other languages, uses bolus for various sorts of lump, particularly a swallow of masticated food, but Spanish uses bolo. Bolo is also used to mean `dullard,' in the same way that English uses clod. (The Yiddish cognate, spelled klotz or klutz in English, has a somewhat different meaning: `butterfingers' or `physically maladroit person.')

Your next stop on the SBF tour of the multilingual GI tract is the SABI entry.

A term for sausage filled with finely ground, very homogeneous meat. Well, mostly meat. I mean, it's pink, right? It mostly comes from farm animals, probably. It might be smoked (but it's not available low-tar or menthol). The sausage is named after a city in northern Italy that doesn't seem to figure in any work by Shakespeare. Following the careful and exactingly skeptical reasoning of the Oxfordians, we should conclude that the city that we call Bologna today (the capital of Emilia-Romagna; located east of the Apennines and west of the Po) did not exist in the sixteenth century. The claim that it's at the same place as the ancient city of Bononia is just a load of baloney.

There is a pork-and-beef sausage that originated in Bologna (Bulaggna in the local dialect), but of course that only bears a general resemblance to authentic American bologna. Once I ordered a sausage pizza in Florence (Firenze) and I got pizza with dinky little unappetizing slices of hot dog. No, it's hardly relevant, but where else am I going to mention it? Save yourself the trouble, and don't order pizza anywhere north of Naples.

On April 4, 2005, the US customs agency (CBP) made a major baloney bust. A 30-year-old Mexican, crossing into the US by bus at Las Cruces, New Mexico (las cruces is Spanish for `the crosses'), was bringing along (``carrying'' might be too strong a word) 845 pounds of pork bologna in his luggage. The bologna, packed in over 80 rolls, was not approved for import and was not refrigerated. The man said he planned to sell the rolls at a swap meat or fly market. Sorry, I mean swap meet or flea market. It would have been more interesting if he'd claimed he planned to eat them all himself on a reality show. The rolls cost $7 or $8 in Mexico, but can be sold for four times that price in the US, according to a CBP spokeswoman who seems surprisingly well-informed on these matters. The man was not charged, but the CBP claims that some of its ``agricultural specialists'' destroyed or got rid of the bologna somehow. The CBP cited health risks such as ``Classic Swine Fever.'' I'd like to hyphenate that, just for fun. It's reassuring to see that our borders are secure, but if customs agents had read our salamis entry, they would know just how narrowly we may have escaped disaster.

Russian: `large, great.' The same root occurs in bolshevik.

Beginning Of Message.

Beginning Of Mission. Term used by NASA; I don't think missionaries use it.


Bill Of Materials. Parts list.

Byte Order Mark. In UTF-16 and UTF-32, an optional BOM at the beginning of a data stream indicates whether multiple-byte characters are big-endian or little-endian. The default is big-endian.

Book-Of-the-Month Club.

Biaxially-Oriented Nylon film. Used in packaging.

Spanish term for someone from BAires. Also called a porteño (Buenos Aires is a port).

Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny. They have a place on the south side of Pico Boulevard just east of La Cienega. (Yes, yes, in LA!)

bond face
As a term of art in the field of adhesives and sealants (A&S), a bond face is the same as a bonding surface, q.v.

Let's face it: this has been a pretty ho-hum entry so far. Why not visit the exciting 007 entry for another Bond face discussion?

bonding joint
In the field of adhesives and sealants (A&S), a bonding joint is a region between bonding surfaces that is filled with adhesive. If the bonding surfaces come far apart, one of two things may happen: (1) rupture, or (2) the adhesive becomes a sealant.

I suppose that if the sixties had been, like, you know, happening in the eighties, a bonding joint would have been marijuana cigarette used as part of a real warm-and-fuzzy social event, man.

bonding surface
In the field of adhesives and sealants (A&S), a bonding surface (or bond face) is a surface that is (or was or is to be) bonded with adhesive. Big surprise there, huh? ``Bonding surface'' is the kind of term you find defined in the glossary (pp. 477-478) of Berndt R. Burchardt and Peter W. Merz's article, ``Elastic Bonding and Sealing in Industry,'' that is chapter 6 (pp. 355-480) in vol. 2 of Cognard's ``handbook.'' By contrast, Appendix A of Petrie's handbook has a pair of separate glossaries for adhesives and sealants (pp. 961-980); it defines bond and lets you figure out ``bonding surface'' on your own. This is no dig at Burchardt and Merz: a dense work is different.

A device for smelling chocolate. (See clarifying comments at WCTU entry.)

A striped African antelope. Even though it is the largest forest antelope, and has a distinctive coloration, it was only discovered in the 1950's. Bongoes have been known to eat burnt wood for the minerals. (I believe that; forest animals are known to travel to ``salt licks'' to make up for the low salt in inland herbivore diets.) The preceding information is mostly a synthesis of information printed on three different potato chips (Pringles-brand printed chips, with the motto ``Celebrate Learning -- Support Literacy''). For more information see the zebra entry.

bonsai kitten
A very lost art.

Boötes. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation.

Build-Own-Operate. Cf. BOT.

Scaredja, didn't I?

In 1992, Claire Sargent, running for a Senate seat from Arizona, spake thusly:
I think it's about time we voted for senators with breasts. After all, we've been voting for boobs long enough.
Sargent lost her bid. Pat Schroeder retired. A constituency goes unrepresented.

On February 2009, Dolly Parton visited Washington, D.C., to represent a different constituency. She was there in her capacity as an ``ambassador for Great Smoky Mountains National Park.'' It's a US national park, so I guess that's why it doesn't have an embassy and she had to make a special visit. Dolly Parton owns a ``family amusement park'' in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, though that's not what she's famous for. According to the website, her ``one wish for you during your visit to Dollywood is that the wonder of the Great Smoky Mountains will touch your heart'' if it can squeeze past the mastoidal appendages. Here are some remarks from the ambassador's speech at the National Press Club, on the tenth of that February:

Somebody said to me, ``Well, you know what -- you've got such a big mouth and you know how to talk to people, did you ever think about running for president?'' ... I said, ``I think we've had enough boobs in the White House, but hopefully Obama ain't gonna be one of them.''

I don't think she's famous for her big mouth either. She's famous for her, uh -- she's a singer! She's famous for her big lungs. Also, if she tries to touch her own heart and she's got a top on, she doesn't come close. Anyway, the point is that she sings professionally, and by commmon consent that makes her an artist. (You know what? She's a songwriter too! And she starred in a comedy about kidnapping and torture.) Did she come up with the boobs joke independently? I don't know.

It is said that Pablo Picasso said that ``good artists copy,'' while ``great artists steal.'' [It's less commonly ``quoted'' with the less clever ``bad artists copy.'' There doesn't seem to be a standard Spanish or French version.] If this is a bogus quote, then perhaps that confirms it -- if the theft can be done on the great artist's behalf: T.S. Eliot wrote, ``Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.'' [Words given to the character of Philip Massinger in The Sacred Wood (1920).] Proxy or surrogate quote theft is just the Matthew Principle in action, if the person robbed is considerably less well known than the thief or thief's beneficiary.

Before this entry gets away from me I'd like to point out that a few men get breast cancer too. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but this is a bad joke.

In October 1962, San Francisco's legendary madam Sally Stanford was interviewed in advance of a trip to Europe. Asked if she had ever been abroad, she answered ``always!''

[BTW, after retiring from the House of Representatives, Pat Schroeder went on to become President and CEO of The Association of American Publishers (AAP). I wanted to mention this earlier, but it would have messed up the comic timing. Also, I wanted to point out that ``embassy'' used to be the word not just for an ambassador's mission but for an ambassador's visit or for an ambassadorial group. It is the original sense, just as office originally referred to the tasks an official or officer was tasked with.]

Book Business
Book Business: Publishing Past Present and Future, by Jason Epstein (New York and London: W. W. Norton & Co., 2001).

I'll probably end up citing it in two or three places, but for now the only cite is at the cybernetics entry.

book covers
Publishers have special experts to design book covers. Only the most persistent and important authors are permitted to influence the work of these experts on their own books.

If I had a nickel for every time I noticed some ghastly error on a book cover, I'd have, oh, probably a dollar or so. Here's a minor one: the second edition of History of German Literature, by Werner P. Friederich (New York: Barnes and Noble, Inc., 1948, 1961) had a paperback cover designed by Rod Lopez-Fabrego. I think it's great that they give credit or whatever where it's due. The back cover quotes a review from South Atlantic Bulletin thus:

``it should ... be in the hands of every student who is taking a college course in German, Australian, Swiss, Central European History, or who is pursuing the study of the German language beyond the first college year.''

I don't know, and don't plan to research, whether the error was present in the original review. The title given on the cover, perhaps in conformity with some Barnes and Noble standard for its College Outline Series (of which this was number 65) is An Outline-History of German Literature.

Book-cover misspellings (one I recall had martial for marital, or vice versa) are part of a broader phenomenon -- that artiste types are not expected to be attentive to such prosaic details as getting names right. A prominent and expensive example of this artistic (if that's what it is) deficiency made news in 2004. A new city library had been built in Livermore, California, and a new mural was unveiled for it. This creative achievement bore the names of 175 historically important people, and eleven of their names were written with what the artist later described as ``interpretive'' spellings. The eleven names included those of Albert Einstein (missing an n), Michelangelo (extra a), and Vincent Van Gogh (gratuitous u, when he could have used a bit of ear). Also counted in the eleven is William Shakespeare (spelled with one a fewer than usual). The city had originally paid the artist $40,000, and some California law limited its freedom to fix the mural on its own. On Monday, October 4, 2004, the city council voted to authorize $6000 plus expenses to have the artist come back and correct the misspellings. (I suspect that's not a record.) That's when the story finally went national, possibly thanks to an intrepid investigative report by USA Today. The country was scandalized, and the artist received many upsetting and even impolite messages. One person went so far as to send her an email with her name misspelled! It was so upsetting, in fact, that for a couple of weeks she threatened not to return for the wite-out® phase of the installation.

The artist's name is Maria Alquilar, or at least that's what she claims it is. Alquilar is a Spanish word meaning `to rent' (rent as in lease or hire, not rent as in tear). I haven't been able to come up with a pun on this name that is commensurate with its subject.

Alquilar has an installation at the San Jose International Airport, 17 feet long and 6 feet high. It is entitled ``Las Viajeros Vienen A San Jose'' according to Alquilar's website, which goes on to explain that ``[t]he people exiting the Freedom Train are examples of the cities [sic] ethnic diversity.'' (Not even a six-year-old Spanish-speaker could make the mistake of using the feminine article las with the male noun viajeros.)

Criticized for the Livermore library mural misspellings, Alquilar blamed everyone but herself. In an interview with the AP, she complained that ``[t]here were plenty of people around during the installation who could and should have seen the missing and misplaced letters.'' On the other hand, ``[e]ven though I was on my hands and knees laying the installation out, [she] didn't see it.'' It seems that she overlooked the possibility that people around during the installation were also artistically gifted. As she explained, the ``people that are into humanities, and are into Blake's concept of enlightenment, they are not looking at the words. In their mind the words register correctly.''

Misspellings are actually fairly common in monumental art, and have a history going back to the Roman empire. The Pyramid of Cestius in Rome has an enormous inset spelling correction, and after many years someone noticed an error in the Lincoln Memorial that had to be fixed.

book dedications
A couple of notable (hey, I noted them: Q.E.D.) dedications to computers (actually, one is to a processor) are at the IBM 650 entry. Another book dedication is quoted at the Bank of Romney entry. Bibliographic details on a book dedication addressed to a disease can be found at the old dedications entry.

That's it for the really interesting book dedications. The rest of this entry is a dreary catalog of any and all other entries I could find that mention a book dedication. Our anticline entry is fun and quotes a book dedication, but the dedication itself is fairly ordinary. The dedication of Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven is discussed at our entry for that book, though I've forgotten now whether that really was a ``book dedication'' rather than just a short early book section entitled ``Dedication.''

That looks about long enough for a paragraph. Let's start another. Edward M. Petrie's Handbook of Adhesives and Sealants has a dedication that uses terms (bond, stress) that are central to the book's subject. (See Petrie entry.)

Okay, just for a change of pace, let's have an actual dedication instead of a pointer.

To the North Star whose guiding light marked the pathway to freedom for a weary fugitive, this book is inscribed in humble gratitude and abiding faith.
It's from Outwitting the Hun: My Escape from a German Prison Camp, by Lieut. Pat O'Brien, Royal Flying Corps (New York and London: Harper & Brothers Publishers, March 1918). (Something in the same vein, though not formally a dedication, is quoted under DOOLITTLE.)

The slush pile entry refers in passing to the un- or badly edited dedication of an unfortunately published book.

Slightly to the Right seems to be dedicated to the author's editors.

The sed entry cites a comment on the Latin style used by Linnaeus in the Dedication of his famous work, but perhaps he used the same style elsewhere.

This entry is dedicated to the ``dear reader'' of legend.

Book Preservation
You guessed it: this glossary doubles as my bookmark file.

book procurement
In 1971, Abbie Hoffman gave new meaning to the term ``consumer activist'' when he published a book with the title Steal This Book. (Don't bother -- it's now available free on line.) In 1997, coeditors Mica Nava, Andrew Blake, Iain MacRury, and Barry Richards staged a brilliant heist of Hoffman's title concept with Buy This Book: Studies in advertising and consumption.

books that could have benefitted from illustrations
Illillustrated books.

Once ``Saturday Night Live'' had a skit that took off on an ad campaign for Smuckers preserves (jellies and jams). Various actors came on stage, each holding a jar of product in approved TV-display fashion, and said ``With a name like <foo>, it's got to be good!'' Each <foo> was worse than and upstaged the last. (A typical <foo> might have been ``boiled baby intestines.'') Finally, Jane Curtin (I guess that kinda dates me) came on and



revealed the name of her product to each of her predecessors (they had all stayed on stage), and each in turn expressed disgust or distress. Finally she came forward to face the audience and made her pitch, which went something like this: ``With a name like that, it's got to be good! Ask for it by name.''

Book Stores
If you're looking for a particular book, what you need is a metasearch engine. <www.FetchBook.Info> doesn't pay us to suggest you use theirs. As of January 2003, FetchBook searches 62 bookstores. <AddALL> offers a similar service that searches ``40+ sites, 20,000 sellers.'' Those two are fairly similar. <BookFinder.com> is slower and doesn't know about shipping costs (let alone include them in the price comparison, like the FetchBook and AddALL), but it has better advanced-search features.

<Abebooks.com> isn't really designed for comparison shopping. It's more like a union catalog of small independent booksellers, remember them? With a focus on used, rare, hard-to-find, though if you want to buy an in-print mass-market paperback from them, they'll be happy to sell you that too. And it's searched by FetchBook and AddALL, and listed by <Amazon.com>. There's a certain amount of incest in the used-book search services. Back in 1998 or so it used to be possible to insert one or two middlemen into the supply chain, paying them a premium to turn around and find a book online that you could have looked up yourself, if you had visited this entry of the SBF glossary. I was about to write that a certain degree of transparency prevails today, but in fact it seems you pay about a 6% premium to buy an Abebooks-listed book via Amazon zShops. (You also get less information about the book condition and none about the ultimate source.)

You might have a particular book in mind, but not be able to find it because you don't remember enough index-type information -- forgettable stuff like title and author. In that case, you might want to visit BookSleuth, a sort of forum served by Abebooks. People go there to post descriptions of books they can't remember title or author of. Most of the sought books are children's books that the posters read when they were children. The flaw in this scheme, one might guess, is that not enough people go there to answer rather than ask questions, but they apparently do.

I have a bunch of other book links in scattered places around this site. This ancient (uh, four-year-old) page, for instance, was written primarily with the needs of classicists in mind.

book titles
I considered making the title of this entry ``interesting book titles.'' Think about that.

Here are a few in no particular order:

  1. ``I Lived with Latin Americans'' by John L. Strohm (Danville, Illinois: The Interstate Printers and Publishers, 1943). The quotation marks are part of the title.
  2. Souls Without Longing by Allan Bloom. The original title of the manuscript that was published as The Closing of the American Mind. According to an afterword (by Andrew Ferguson) to the 25th anniversary edition, the original title ``was lovely, everyone agreed, but also uncommercial,'' Which is not to imply that the book was intended to be especially commercial. The first print run, in February 1987, numbered 10,000 copies. But the book rose to the top of the bestseller lists by summer and held that position for two and a half months, sold a million copies in the US and comparable numbers abroad, and made Bloom a rich man. ``The best minds in American publishing were boggled. Never in their experience had a book about Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Martin Heidegger outsold memoirs by Patty Duke, Shirley MacLaine, and Sam Donaldson--combined.'' I figure the title did it.
  3. Me by Katharine Hepburn (NYC: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991). Subtitled ``Stories of My Life.''
  4. An Introduction to Science and Hygiene for Hairdressers by O.F.G. Kilgour and Marguerite McGarry (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1964). You may not find this title very interesting, but for me it brings back a poignant memory. I valued the education I received as an undergraduate, and during my exit chat with the chairman of the physics department (my major department), I volunteered [Danger! Danger!] to help if there was anything for which the department might need a recent graduate. Calm down; we're not at the poignant bit yet. Actually it's poignant in an embarrassing way. Okay, it's just massively embarrassing, but it was long ago, and I was tired.
    So a couple of weeks later, I was the physics department's contribution to a college-wide effort that takes (took?) place every year, with newly admitted students coming in from all over the state to make their course selections for the following fall, under the guidance of recent graduates like me. I think I did alright by almost everyone, except for one girl. She was undecided whether to go for a career as a gynecologist or a beautician, I think it was. In one sense, that was a no brainer: since Rutgers wasn't a beauty college, she'd have to follow the pre-med curriculum. But I didn't think that. I only asked her how she did on her SAT's. The SAT score was good, so I advised her on how to sign up as a pre-med.
    The advising marathon was nearly over, and a few minutes later I was walking to my car. That's when it hit me. She said she got 750 on her SAT's, and 750 on a scale of 200 to 800 was pretty good (especially in those days, before the scores were renormed toward meaninglessness). I assumed that she got 750 on each main part (math and verbal). I mean, that's what that phraseology meant when I was in high school. Anyway, she couldn't possibly mean that her verbal plus her math scores, added together, arithmetically, summed to 750. After all, Rutgers isn't a beauty college, so it's inconceivable that they could admit someone who scored a few lucky multiple-choice guesses above brain-dead. Not so. Rutgers admissions put a lot of weight on high-school class rank, so no part of the state, however poor academically, could feel that it was being stiffed in the allotment of openings at ``Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.''
  5. Suddenly by George F. Will (NYC: Free Press, 1990). Subtitled ``The American Idea Abroad and at Home.''
  6. The Plus and Minus of Fluids and Electrolytes (Reston, Va.: Reston Publ. Co., 1981) by Esther Norman Nicksic, who was an associate professor in the Division of Nursing at Indiana University Northwest at the time of publication. (The title page lists the affiliation as ``Indiana University Northeast,'' but my copy, signed and dedicated by the author to a personal friend, has been hand-corrected. And there doesn't seem to be or have been any Indiana University Northeast.)

A 1947 book with the title The Silent People Speak is described at the dalmation entry. Boiling Water: Tips from the Experts and Falling on the Floor: A Jump-Start Guide are book titles I have proposed, but neither title has been adopted complete with subtitle, afaik. Probably the most common book-title pun that I have encountered is some variant of (the nonexistent but plausible) ``Boyle on Steam.''

Ratio of orders to shipments. For January 1978 to December 1996, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) published this datum as a measure of demand. It was computed from data for several large US semiconductor companies rather than the whole industry, and the published figure was generally a three-month running average.

The first nine months of 1996 marked its worst performance in the then-current format (that used since January 1987), with a low around 0.8 in March-February. This principally reflected price collapse in DRAM's, but the widespread use of book-to-bill led stock market ``industry analysts'' to discount stocks throughout the industry. (It's particularly ironic that DRAM should have skewed the results, since the book-to-bill was during the eighties and early nineties taken as an indicator of the health of the US industry relative to Japan's. In 1996, DRAM and other commodity chips were dominated by Korea and Japan, so a drop in DRAM prices indicated greater relative health of the US industry.)

book value
This isn't the value of the book, or even the price of the book; it's the net value of some asset as listed (or computable from values) ``on the [account] books.'' It's the value carried on the books, and it's also called the carrying value.

I was going to make a joke of this entry by pretending that I found the term confusing, but I didn't. Then I was going to explain why I didn't.

A kind of on-line publishers' journal from Bowker Book Information Co. Online Literary Marketplace (LMP).

The use of boom in the economic sense is an Americanism. When boom and slump were first used in their economic senses in the London Daily Mail around 1900, Alfred Harmsworth, the proprietor, required that they appear in `inverted commas,' as they say.

A German verb borrowed from English -- to boom with the particular sense of `to flourish economically.' It's conjugated as a regular verb (past participle geboomt).

(Internet) BOOTstrap Protocol.

Leonardo da Vinci drew a flight scheme in which a flier essentially lifted himself up by his shoelaces. The idea has gotten a lot more mileage than the method.

A nonsense syllable. Also short for bebop, a jazz form that uses a lot of nonsense syllables.

Bodleian Orientation Programme. I already explained about the Bodleian at the BSMG entry; I'm not about to do it again. Programme is described at the programme entry. What more could you ask?

Federal Bureau Of Prisons (of the US DOJ). Cf. bop.

Percussion and sometimes concussion typically involving someone's head and a blunt object such as someone else's fist. Cf. BOP.

Biaxially-Oriented PolyPropylene film. Used in packaging.

Bachelor Officers' Quarters. It's a designation, not a rule. I lived in the BOQ on Kirtland AFB the Summers I worked at Sandia Labs in Albuquerque, and I was a bachelor but not an officer. (I also sometimes ate at the adjacent officers' mess, which deserved its good reputation.) At least one military guy I knew there was an officer but married. (His wife was back in Lompoc, CA, his regular station.)

Sure, I could look stuff up and have a more comprehensive entry with fewer irrelevancies, but I prefer to highlight my unique content.

Board Of Regents.

Sodium tetraborate, a mineral that is the most common natural source of boron. ``Borax'' usually refers to the decahydrate, Na2B4O7·10H2O, less frequently to the pentahydrate or anhydrite.

A company called Borax will be happy to tell you all about borax.

Bell Object Relations Inventory. A test to determine in detail and quantitatively just how emotionally screwed up you are, on scales such as ``Alienation,'' ``Insecure Attachment'' and ``Egocentricity.'' Now you know, so I'M LEAVING! YOU BETRAYED ME AND NOTHING ELSE MATTERS TO ME!

Born, Max
A complete unknown chosen to play the slave boy Giton in Fellini's Satyricon (1969). The biggest nonspeaking part since Harpo Marx retired. Born, an Englishman, was 18 at the time of the initial Italian release. Apparently the only other film he ever appeared in was the 1971 Ciao, Federico! -- Gideon Bachman's documentary about the filming of Satyricon. [I think I saw that too. Among other things, they showed how male decorations were applied to an actress to produce the (I recall only one) ersatz hermaphrodite. Many years later, I overheard someone wondering aloud how Fellini managed to find all the freaks he used. Now you know the answer.]

Born, Max
In Breslau in 1882, Max Born was born. It's an interesting coincidence. Of course, it would have been equally interesting if he'd been born anywhere else. So basically, it's a coincidence that Born was born at all. Then again, maybe it was just a question of probability.

Max Born's best-known contribution to the development of quantum mechanics is probably the idea that the (normalized) squared modulus of the Schrödinger wavefunction should be regarded as a probability density. On the other hand, the contribution which he is best remembered for having made is probably the Born-Oppenheimer approximation. It's worth a lot to get your name on something. I think Born's suggestion of the probability-density idea first appeared as a footnote in someone else's paper, though very soon (1926) he did publish it himself.

Born's most popular publication was Optik, later translated into English (Optics) and generally known as ``Born and Wolf'' after the co-authors of the English edition. (I haven't looked carefully, but I think the English is pretty much just a translation of the German.) Born was born Jewish, so after the Nazis came to power he lost his university position. He emigrated to England in 1933. [FWIW, his wife, née Hedwig Ehrenberg, was also at risk, as she was of Jewish descent on her father's side. She was a practicing Lutheran; in 1914, the year after they married, he converted to Lutheranism. Like his friend Albert Einstein, Max Born had well-known and vehement (not to say violently) pacifist opinions, though like Einstein he came around somewhat. Meanwhile in Britain his wife became a Quaker. Pacifism, fashionable among intellectuals between the world wars, is like disarmament -- a great idea when it is universal.]

Max Born was at the University of Edinburgh from 1936 to 1953. He shared the 1954 Nobel Prize in Physics with Walther Bothe. That year also he and Hedwig retired to West Germany.

In the published Briefwechsel (correspondence, literally `letter exchange') of Born and Einstein one can find Einstein's earliest known formulation of his famous I-cannot-believe-that-God-plays-dice-with-the-Universe assertion. I probably ought to look all of this stuff up, but that would take too long. If you want to be sure, just poke around on the 'net.

The famous singer and actress Olivia Newton-John is the daughter of Irene Newton-John, who was born Irene Born (sorry, I needed to write that). Irene was Max's daughter, so Max Born is famously associated with the names (probably only the name, in the case of Newton) of two of the most celebrated physicists in history (not to mention Heisenberg and many other physicists he worked with).

boru, bôru
Japanese for `ball.' It's a loanword from English, and hence is normally written in Japanese with the katakana syllabary. (In Roman-character transliteration it is also written bouru.)

The closest native Japanese word equivalent to boru is tama. Tama is used for rice balls and for the silver balls in pachinko (a kind of pinball machine), and can be used in reference to a baseball, but is inappropriate for a soccer ball. Tama is the common kun reading of a particular kanji. The kanji has one common on reading: kyuu. As is typically the case, the two readings have similar meanings but occur in different contexts, and the on reading tends to be used for compound nouns. Thus, baseball (i.e. the or a game of baseball) is yakyuu, but a baseball is yakyuu bouru or yakyuu tama -- a `baseball ball.'

{ Base | Basic } Operating System.

Battlefield Operations Systems.

Booksellers Order Service. A service of the American Booksellers Association (ABA).

IATA code for the airport at Boston, MA, USA: General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport (Logan International Airport for short). Here's its status in real time from the ATCSCC.

Interestingly, there's another Logan International Airport serving a B-town in an M-state: cf. BIL.

British Of SubContinental Origin.

Satyendra Nath Bose

Any particle with total angular momentum quantum number equal to a (necessarily nonnegative) whole number (0, 1, 2...). For an elementary particle, this is equivalent to having a whole-number-valued (i.e. integer) intrinsic spin. Compound particles are bosons if they have an even number of elementary fermion constituents, and fermions otherwise.

Bosons obey Bose-Einstein (B-E) statistics: their total wavefunctions must be symmetric. When expressed in terms of single-particle quantum states, this implies that bosons do not obey the Pauli exclusion principle, and may multiply occupy identical single-particle states. The low-temperature extreme version of this is Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC).

BOston Red SOX. A Professional baseball team.

``In 1920 Harry Frazee, the owner of the Boston Red Sox, sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. The Red Sox, who had won 5 of the first 15 World Series [so named], have yet to win another. The Yankees, who had never before won a championship, have since won 26. Some people call that The Curse of the Bambino.'' Bambinomusical.com ``call[s] it a musical.'' (They eventually ended their drought in 2004.) More of the grim details at this, um, fan site.

You might wonder what was in it for the Babe (formally George Herman Ruth). This was in the days before free agency. Contract negotiation was take-it-or-leave-it: take what the owner offers or leave professional baseball altogether. It was a form of monopsony so blatantly and obviously unfair that when the US Congress passed laws against collusion in restraint of trade, a special exemption had to be written in for the major-league baseball racket. (It's not every day I have occasion to write ``baseball racket.'' We also have an entry for cricket bats.)

In 2001 (the year, not the Space Odyssey), the MLB owners, pleading poverty, announced plans to terminate the Minnesota Twins and Montreal Expos franchises.

In 1919, a time when various other top players in the league (i.e., his closest inferiors) were making around $15,000, Babe Ruth was given a contract for $10,000. Other conspicuously underpaid players in the league (again, relative to comparable talents) were the Chicago White Sox. (You read about them in the WS entry, when you followed the link on the words so named earlier in this entry. By the way, here's some old programmer advice: only follow unvisited links, or you could end up in an infinite hyperlink loop.) In New York City, Babe Ruth was credited with single-handedly (mostly left-handedly) sparking a dramatic increase in attendance. Construction began on Yankee Stadium, known as ``the house that Ruth built.''

Bride Of SevenlesS. I may get around to explaining this eventually, but having a bald -- or better said, blind -- entry for it is a start.

Bureau Of State Security. A bureau of the South African government under the old regime. Say what you will, euphemism was not one of their vices.

Beginning Of Tape. The end of the tape that lies on the outer perimeter of the wound tape in storage, but it's not called the EOT.

Uh... We're talkin' magnetic tape. Used in the 1960's and 70's to store data at densities like 700 and later 900 bits per inch (bpi). Also used, in conjunction with the entire back seat of my car, to transport experimental data across state lines.

Board Of Trustees. See also CBOT.

Build-Own-Transfer. Cf. BOO.

Short for robot. A program (usually an IRC script or C program) that interfaces to the IRC network. Some of them are antisocial.

Cognate with the German and Dutch beide. A characteristic error of German-speakers (and perhaps of Dutch-speakers as well) is to precede the English word both (whether as noun or adjective) with the definite article as if it were interchangeable with two. The expression ``the both are here'' (parallel to German ``die Beiden sind hier'') is not English. One can say ``both are here,'' ``both of them are here,'' or even, a bit awkwardly, ``the both of them are here.''

I suppose that the reason this error is common is that in German, beide can also occur without an article, so the fact that English usage differs is not immediately apparent. The movie ``Me, Myself & Irene'' was distributed in Germany as ``Ich Beide & Sie.'' Here ich beide means `I two,' a construction parallel with wir beiden (`we two').

As long as we're on the subject, here are some movies with related titles:

both are similar
To what? Oh, you mean both are similar to each other? Fascinating! So not only is one similar to the other but also the other is similar to the one!

Bottoms up!
Cheers! An imperative statement: Turn your drinking glass(es) upside down after locating your mouth(s) strategically relative to that vessel.

A specialized drinking glass has the name ``tumbler,'' but its present form obscures the origin of its name. Tumblers originally tumbled if released: they had round bottoms to discourage holders from putting them down until they were empty. Glassware was one of the earliest manufactures (possibly the earliest) in British America. All good cutlery was imported for many years after independence. (Cheap but soft pewterware was manufactured locally.)

I should admit that books about antique and early American glassware that I've checked recently don't show any round-bottom tumblers from the mid-1800's. Could be the early stuff was so crude and is now so rare that it's all museum pieces rather than collectibles.

Bourbaki, N.
The pseudonym used by a group of mostly French mathematicians who sought to produce a unified pedagogical exposition of mathematics, starting in the 1930's. See the relevant section of the sci.math newsgroup FAQ.

bourgeois democracy

French: `bag.' This word and its cognates in other Romance languages (Spanish bolsa, etc.) are used metonymically, with `bag' originally understood as a `moneybag' (cf. English bursar), for markets for trading in bulk financial products -- mainly shares of company stock or commodity contracts.

One of the old buildings facing Independence Mall in Philadelphia is called the Bourse -- the word is engraved above the entrance. This bourse was founded in 1904 or so, and served as a commodity market.

Japanese for `ball.' The ou is one way of representing the long o that occurs in the Japanese pronunciation of the word. It is more common, however, either not to indicate the long-short distinction, or to indicate it by a macron or circumflex accent. Hence, the main entry for bouru is boru.

Of alternating direction. A term used in the description of scripts, for writing in which lines are alternately left-to-right (dextrograde) and right-to-left (sinistrograde). The word is borrowed from the Greek adverb boustrophêdón, `ox-turning' (i.e., `turning like an ox'), derived from bous (`ox') + stróphos (the noun `turning'). The idea is that when you're using an ox to pull a plow, when you complete one row you start the next row immediately, plowing in the opposite direction.

Our main entry for this stuff is dextrograde, because boustrophedon is a word I have often had difficulty recalling precisely.

A French word meaning `extremity' of one or another kind (`toe,' `end [of bread, tunnel, jail sentence],' etc.). It's probably not related to the English footwear word boot (modern French botte, Old French bote), although the etymology of the latter is uncertain.

On April 11, 2012, one of the contestants on the American Idol show wore $1600 ``asteroid spike-toe pumps'' designed by Christian Louboutin. She also sang.

I first heard this term -- in the sense to be defined here -- from Mary. She says all her girlfriends use it. It's not a reference to whales. ``Bowheads'' are lucky women who live what I suppose must be the life of Mrs. Riley. Not having to work is a key part of the definition. They're pampered like pet poodles with bows in their hair. Doctors' wives, wives of the very rich, that sort of person. Oooooh, it makes Mary so contemptuous, almost angry! Okay, I guess envious would be the mot juste.

I was talking with Mary today and she used that word again; Karen and I agreed that no one else uses that word, and Mary launched into a definition that included ``junior league women who never have to mow the lawn or feed the pets ... Cadillac SUV ... cry if they chip a nail ... never offer the gardener a drop of water ... complain if they have to go to St. Moritz for a ninth time'' among various other things rattled off. Karen and I didn't understand the ``junior league'' thing. I suppose it has some social similarity to, or impressionist association with, Jaycees or Young Future Free and Accepted Matrons of America. Mary declined to define junior league, which is probably just as well -- my short-term memory was maxed-out with one definition. Wondering how much I would retain by the time I could add it to the glossary, I commented that it was a rather long definition. Mary said that the condensed, Cliff-Noted version was rich bitch.

A kind of sartorial decoration that does not normally utilize the principle of gravitational alignment. (The exception is the floppy bowtie.) It provides a quick test to distinguish Paul Simon the former senator from Illinois (bowtie positive) from Paul Simon the former rock artist from New Jersey (bowtie negative). Yes, it can look dorky.

It resembles an egg bow in shape only.

Buried OXide.

[Football icon]

box, the
An imaginary rectangle of (American) football playing field: that region within five yards of the line of scrimmage. Most of the players line up in the box -- from offensive tackles to the tight end. For some plays, even the safeties line up in the box. Don't ask about goal-line stands.

A twelve in craps. Boxcars, snake eyes, or trey on the come-out roll means craps: the shooter loses. Seven or yo-leven wins. Anything else establish a point. The shooter rolls again until he rolls a seven and loses, or the point again and wins. With fair dice, in the very long run the roller should win 244 of every 495 games. That's slightly less than even odds, but in a casino one bets on various outcomes (it gets complicated), subject to various house rules, and most bettors judge their winnings (or more likely their losses, but one doesn't dwell on that) in cash or chips rather than in games won.

boxcar amplifier
An amplifier that amplifies only a time-windowed portion of the input signal, like a light amplifier looking at a source through a passing train of boxcars. Very useful in experiments with a periodic input or stimulus. By adjusting the phase (i.e., the interval between the stimulus and the start of the open window for amplification) one can measure a small response signal that would otherwise be swamped by the stimulus.

Boxing Day
A public holiday celebrated in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK.

It's normally the day after Christmas, but in Australia (I haven't checked elsewhere) it's the first weekday following the Christmas public holiday. Also in Australia, if Christmas falls on Saturday or Sunday, the Christmas public holiday is observed the following Monday.

The holiday has somewhat obscure origins in the UK, where gifts within family and among friends were given on or before Christmas, but on the next day cash or practical gifts were given to employees and the poor and so forth (I'm sure that so forth was a well-defined social class; everything was). Boxing Day is mainly the day that you return gifts you received to the stores where they were bought, because they're not what you wanted and they didn't fit. It also marks the start of after-Christmas sales days.

Even if this word existed as something other than a typo, it still wouldn't need a definition. It's the lexicon equivalent of that famous fellow ``who needs no introduction.''

School of BOtany and ZOology, ANU.

Take it from me: if you want to write something in a humor genre, do an acronym glossary. The jokes will just write themselves.

BandPass (filter).

BP, bp
Base Pair. One segment of DNA or RNA. On one side of the helix is a purine [guanine (G) or adenosine (A)] with the corresponding pyrimidine [cytosine (C) or one of either thymine (T) (in DNA) or uracil (U) (in RNA)] on the other side.

This tool will translate sequences into peptide chains.

Base Pointer. In assembler for the 8086 series of microprocessors long popular for IBM PC's and PC compatibles, bp was the mnemonic for a register used in function calls. In C and C++ programming languages, as in other languages that are better and less common, a function call pushes a sequence of numbers onto the stack. In order, the numbers pushed are the return address (i.e., the address of the next command) and the function parameters (regarding their order, see the pascal entry).

The function itself can also push some local variables onto the stack. The range of the stack from return address to the end of the local variables constitutes the ``call frame.''

The BP register contains the address of the call frame itself. If you were writing an assembly-language function to be called by a C/C++ program, you might use an address location like bp+2 to refer to a function parameter. Of course, if you were writing an assembly-language subroutine for a C/C++ program, you would know this. (For the past twenty years, whenever I've heard about assembly language programming it has usually been in the context of accelerating programs written in higher-level languages by writing assembly-language subroutines for the most cycle-hungry tasks. Back in 1986 or so, a whole issue of Physics Today was devoted to songs of praise for the research you could with BASIC programming on a personal computer (provided you wrote those assembly-language subroutines).

b.p., BP
Basis Point. One percent of one percent.

Batting Practice. See also BP fastball.

Before Pantyhose. There were garters.

Before Present. Much used in archaeology and prehistoric anthropology. Although dates before the present change as fast as the past recedes, this is not a problem because radionuclide dating techniques used for scales of many thousands of years are not accurate to better than a couple of hundred years anyway. (Tree-ring and ice-core data are accurate to the year, but they're difficult to correlate with anything but each other.)

In fact, however, the technical use of ``BP'' is not subject to even this in-principle problem, because for the sake of nominal precision, ``present'' is defined as January 1, 1950 (probably midnight at the beginning of the year).

Binding Protein.

BishoP. In Christianity, not chess.

Blood Pressure.

BP, b.p.
Boiling Point.

British Petroleum, originally. Here is some apparent boilerplate from a BP press release of June 11, 2002:
London based BP is one of the world's largest petroleum and petrochemical companies and a leader in solar technology manufacturing. BP is the single, global brand formed by the combination of the former British Petroleum, Amoco, ARCO, and Burmah Castrol.

In a speech on the preceding April 23, Paula Banks (Vice President Global Social Investment, BP p.l.c) began with these words:

Now I'd like to turn to BP. You probably think you know the company. But I suspect you don't. Since the end of 1998 -- that's less than three-and-a-half years ago -- the company now known as BP has changed its name twice and more than tripled in size following seven large mergers or takeovers.
   We were British Petroleum, then BP Amoco and now we're just BP. We're a new company - and truly a global company.

So ``BP'' is now a sealed acronym. That's as much as you need to know about the name. What more could you want to know? Oh, yeah: occasionally they expand BP as ``Beyond Petroleum.'' Gosh, those guys are so clever! No wonder they never have any accidents, and even if they should ever have an accident, they're ready with plans B, C, and D-.

Business Park.

Black Psychiatrists of America.

Business Process & Advisory Services.

Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung.

Black Powder Cartridge Rifle[s].

Bachelor of PeDagogy.

``Pe - da - go - gy.'' That's a difficult word. Is this going to be on the teacher qualification exam?

Barrels (of oil, no doubt) Per Day.

Borderline Personality Disorder.

What're you lookin' at!?

BPD is characterized by unstable and extreme moods, with unsurprising effects on interpersonal relationships and self-image. BPD sounds like an extreme version of being human. In fact, 2% of all adults suffer from BPD, as do 70% of bosses. Okay, I made the second statistic up. BPD is most common among young women, and accounts for about 20% of psychiatric hospitalizations. You remember Bad Company's top-40 hit ``Good Lovin' Gone Bad'' --

One day she'll love you.
The next day she'll leave you.
Why can't we have it--
Just the way it used to be?

Modern medicine provides an answer: because now she's suffering from BPD. Maybe you should consider DBT. Then again, maybe you should just wait a few hours, or a day at most. Upside or downside, depending on how you're standing: people with BPD often engage in impulsive behaviors such as risky sex. Beware, though: individuals with BPD are highly sensitive to rejection, reacting with anger and distress to the mild separations caused by vacations, business trips, or last-minute changes of plans. Right around now you're probably coming up with positive diagnoses for at least a couple of girls you dated in college.

The term ``borderline'' stems from an earlier idea, now largely discarded, that people with the disorder are on the borderline of psychosis. So people tend to refer to it by initialism rather than as ``borderline personality.'' It looks like a good initialism for bipolar disorder, which used to be called manic depressive syndrome. Psychiatric nomenclature seems to suffer from its own instability syndrome. Fortunately, a precise definition of the target disorder to be treated is not needed, since the therapy is aimed like a shotgun at the symptoms. The main utility of a disorder name is in assisting the clinician in coming up with a diagnostic code to put on the insurance form.

Bridge Protocol Data Unit. (Note: the link is to an irrelevant entry.)


Bolletino del Comitato per la preparazione dell'Edizione nazionale del Classici greci e latini, Roma.

Best Practical Environmental Option. There may not be a great deal of contention regarding the meaning of the word option.

Band Pass Filter.

Booker Prize Foundation.

BP fastball
Batting Practice FASTBALL. A fastball thrown a few miles per hour slower than a regular fastball.

Berkeley Process Flow Language. Link here for detailed example.

Benign Prostatic Hyper{trophy|plasia}. Pretty much any man will get it if he lives long enough.

bpi, BPI
Bits Per Inch. Used for serial storage media. Magnetic tape, in other words. See BOT.

Booksellers Publishing, Inc.

Business Products Industry Association.

(Canadian) Book Publishing Industry Development Program.

Book Plot Inconsistencies Project. ``A loving look at everything that's not quite right with the Red Dwarf novels.'' Not ``everything'' that's ``not quite right.'' Only those things that are ``not quite right'' because they're inconsistent.

Suppose you've got a hardass jerk supervisor. (Okay, I'm just leaving open the hypothetical possibility of an alternative. For argument's sake, let's say.) And suppose that every design or project plan you present, the supervisor has a personal need to find some error in, be it ever so nitpicky. Now you're going to present another project, and this one is perfect, your labor of love. For God's sake, put an obvious error in it, so the jerk finds that instead of detecting a nonexistent ``error'' in something that's right.

Badan Pemeriksa Keuangan. (Called Bepeka, but I think that's also the way one reads off the initialism. Also written Bepeka and BEPEKA, and also BPK-RI.) Usually Englished as the `Audit Board of Indonesia' or `Supreme Audit Board.' A more literal translation might be `Financial Investigations Agency.'

Badan Pemeriksa Keuangan Republik Indonesia. See BPK

Barclays Premier League. The Premier League of UK soccer. Apparently they sold naming rights to a bank, but fwiw, <www.barclayspremierleague.com> currently (2013) redirects to <www.premierleague.com>.

Today (2013.09.15) I noticed that the Mexican restaurant south of Myrrh's has ``NO NFL & BPL'' up on its outside specials sign. I do remember that their widescreen was off a few months back, but I'm not really sure whether this is a warning, an attraction, or a protest. Iff you need to know, I'll try to find out. (I won't.)

Broadband (communication) over Power Lines.

Basic Phrase Marker.

Beam Position Monitor.

Beam Propagation Method. A technique for the modeling of planar optoelectronic devices.

Beats Per Minute. A measure of music tempo, with a twist. Normally one thinks of the relation between beats and notes as being specified by time signature. If the bottom number of the time signature is a four, then a quarter note gets one beat. If the bottom number is an eight, then there's one beat to the eighth note. I think you can figure this out. Anyway, BPM ignores this. BPM is really the number of quarter notes per minute. The name is somewhat justified by the fact that one beat to the quarter note is the most common assignment.

Business Performance Management.

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Blast is a disease of sheep, but if a herd of buffalo came down with it, that would make some kind of a symphony, or maybe asymphony. They could try harmonizing with the Elks.

B.P.O.E., BPO Elks
Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Created informally in 1866 as the Jolly Corks, and organized under its current name in 1868. In the years following the Civil War, many new fraternal and social organizations were formed. (Some, like the KKK, were not so jolly.) Baseball, which troops from the New York and Boston areas had introduced to their fellow soldiers, became popular across the country. One has the impression from these trends, and there is some memoir evidence to support the impression, that veterans missed the camaraderie or excitement of military life.

The Jolly Corks was originally a group of actors whose drinking society enabled then to circumvent the New York blue law that closed bars on Sundays. Laws limiting the sale of alcohol are another great promoter of social organizations and of institutions not, in principle, primarily created to sell alcohol. Examples include the veterans' lodge in a dry Texas county my friend Victor used to work in, a variety of clubs in Salt Lake City, and the journalists' club in Damascus. Often the membership fee is nominal, and sometimes the mechanism for paying your bar tab is a little bit indirect. Once this sort of arrangement becomes established, it creates an economic incentive for those nominally private clubs, in favor of the preserving often unpopular prohibitions. Similar economic incentives exist for the suppliers of any illegal goods, of course.

bpp, BPP
Bits Per Pixel. Pixel ``depth.''

Black Panther Party.

Bridge Port Pair. Connecticut lovers.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. I never expected to see the words paroxysmal and benign in adjacent positions, not even in the laughter context. VEDA offers more information.

Bottom-Pressure Recorder. Records hydrostatic pressure at the seafloor. Used in DART systems.

Business Process Reengineering.

ByPass Ratio. Like, in and around a jet engine.

Bipolar PROM. Programmed once by selecting fuses to be burned out.

Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale.

BPS, b.p.s., bps
Bits per second. Never bytes per sec. Not exactly the same as, and sometimes quite different from baud, q.v..

British Psychological Society. The webmaster must be of the cognitive psychology camp: as of 1996.12.31, the www area is only functioning as an ftp site.

Badan Pusat Statistik.

The word badan means things like `group, council, organization':

        badan legislatif ......... legislative body
        badan pers ............... press agency
        badan tenaga atom ........ atomic energy commission

See also BPK. A lot of these agencies are known by good, old-fashioned acronyms in the SeRoCo tradition, like Bakosurtanal, Bapedal, Bappenas, and Batan. As you can see, particularly with Batan (what? you didn't follow the links?), in the Indonesian language (bahasa Indonesia) adjectives follow the nouns they modify. This might make the apparent official English name of the BPS seem more natural: Statistik Indonesia. BTW, until about 1996, BPS used to be expanded Biro Pusat Statistik, corresponding to the other English language (bahasa Inggeris or bahasa Inggris) version `Central Bureau of Statistics.' Cf. CBS.

Behavioral Psychology Specialty Council. It's ``a coordinating council of the most relevant and important associations in the specialty'' of behavioral psychology. This doesn't strike me as the most efficient behavior, but perhaps there are psychological issues that prevent redundant organizations from merging.

The included organizations apparently include the AACBP, ABA ABCBP, ABCT, BACB, and Division 25 of the APA.

Boro-PhosphoSilicate Glass. Vide PSG.

Binary Phase-Shift Key{ ed | ing }.

Bandwidth allocator Processor and Timing (unit).

An SI unit: becquerel. Named after Antoine Henri Becquerel (1852-1908), who shared the 1903 Nobel for physics with Marie and Pierre Curie.

BenzoQuinone. It may be hard to pronounce, but at least it's not French. (To say nothing of Polish.)

Bloc Québécois. Federal branch of Quebec separateest party.

Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Designed, like many of the major roads in New York State, by Robert Moses, a man who never learned to drive.


Bayerische Rundfunk. `Bavarian broadcasting.' Established April 1949. Part of ARD.

Beacon Receiver.


(Domain name code for) Brazil. (Brasil in Portuguese.) See brazil for the name origin.

Brigate Rosse. Italian `Red Brigades.' Left-wing terrorists. One also encounters the phrase Brigatismo Rosso (`red-brigadism').

British Railways, later British Rail. Vide British Rail.

Bromine. Atomic number 35. A halogen.

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

Butadiene Rubber. Polybutadiene is the material that superballs (from Wham-O; I remember the sixties) were made of. It has a 0.8 coefficient of restitution, compared with about 0.6 for ordinary synthetic rubber. With zinc crosslinking, it became the standard material for golf ball cores in the seventies.

The difference between 0.6 and 0.8 sounds small, but it actually means you get more than twice as many bounces (0.6 = 0.82.29).

Basic Rate Access.

Base ReAlignment and Closure. Downsizing the military. Term usage includes military-funded research labs.

A figure of speech: condensed expression. The term is also used loosely for interrupted speech, which is often better described by the term aposiopesis.


Bradley's Arnold
Common name of Arnold's Practical Introduction to Latin Prose Composition in a new edition (new when it came out in the nineteenth century), edited and revised by George Granville Bradley, D.D., Dean of Westminster. Here's the legendary solution key.

Brady Bonds
No, these are not the bonds that hold together the Brady Bunch. These are named after US Treasury Secretary Brady. They are what became of various large nonperforming loans to third-world nations.

Bragg grating
With a name like Bragg, they had to be grating.

Broad RAnge Hadron Magnetic Spectrometers. An experimental collaboration at the Brookhaven RHIC. As of 2006 it was one of four heavy-ion experimental groups running there.

braille letters, Braille letters
Here are Braille's symbols for the 40 alphabetic characters that occur, more or less, in French (underneath these are the meanings assigned to those symbols in English, in the cases where they differ):

  * .  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  . *  |  . *
  . .  |  * .  |  . .  |  . *  |  . *  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  * *
  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .
   a       b       c       d       e       f       g       h       i       j

  * .  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  . *  |  . *
  . .  |  * .  |  . .  |  . *  |  . *  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  * *
  * .  |  * .  |  * .  |  * .  |  * .  |  * .  |  * .  |  * .  |  * .  |  * .
   k       l       m       n       o       p       q       r       s       t

  * .  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  . *  |  . *
  . .  |  * .  |  . .  |  . *  |  . *  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  * *
  * *  |  * *  |  * *  |  * *  |  * *  |  * *  |  * *  |  * *  |  * *  |  * *
   u       v       x       y       z       ç       é       à       è       ù
                                          and     for      of     the     with

  * .  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  . *  |  . *
  . .  |  * .  |  . .  |  . *  |  . *  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  * *
  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *
   â       ê       î       ô       û       ë       ï       ü       œ       w
   ch      gh      sh      th      wh      ed      er      ou      ow

(The standard numbering for the dots in a single cell is

  1 4
  2 5
  3 6
but I won't use this very much below.)

As far as I can tell, in 2005 the same assignments are used throughout the English-speaking world that were standard in the UK by 1911. (This was not always so; vide braille variants.)

Besides the symbols listed, there are 23 other possible symbols, not counting the space (no raised dots). Part of the genius of Braille's assignments is in the symbols he did not use for letters. It seems to me that these virtues of braille have been too infrequently noted and praised. Now that Braille's system is universally accepted I suppose this is not a problem, but I still want to mention them to show off my cleverness in having noticed them, okay?

When a single letter or a few symbols are written in braille or a similar system, it is possible in principle that one might not be able to tell how they register. That is, a single dot might be in any of the six possible positions, two dots in a row might be at any of three heights, dots aligned vertically might be on the left or right, and dots that fit in two adjacent rows might be in the first and second or in the second and third rows. Braille's selection of assignments assures that for a sequence of alphabetic characters, however short, these ambiguities do not arise: there is only one alphabetic character (a) assigned a single dot, only one (c) is written as a row of two dots, etc. Furthermore, the sequence is reasonably systematic, with ten symbols in the upper two rows repeated systematically with the four different possible bottom rows.

Braille's symbol assignments mesh nicely with decimal numerals. The symbol

  . *
  . *
  * *
indicates that a sequence of letters a-i and j following it are to be interpreted as the Arabic numerals 1-9 and 0, respectively. (Certain punctuation symbols, but not a line break, are allowed to intervene without turning off the numeral interpretation.) These are the numerals you typically find in braille next to elevator floor buttons. Strictly speaking, I think these are the wrong numbers. According to Braille's scheme, the numbers represented by a-j are cardinal numbers. Ordinal numbers are represented by lowering those symbols by one row. For example,
    *  *    * *
    *       *
  * *   
represents 16, and
    *  *    * *
  * *       *
represents 16th. (This systematic distinction is made possible, of course, by Braille's choice to leave the bottom row empty in the first ten letter symbols.) It seems to me that students used to be drilled much more intensively in the ordinal-cardinal distinction.

Other common elevator braille:

  *    * *
    *  *    *
  *    *      *
   o    p    en

  * *  *    *      *
       *      *  *
       *    *    *
   c    l    o    s  (close)

    *  *    * *
         *  *
  *    *    *
   st   o    p

  *    *      *  * *
       *      *
       *    *    *
   a    l    ar   m

  *    * *
  * *  *
   u    p

  * *    *  * *
    *  * *    *
         *  *
   do   w    n

The letter d is used for both d and do. The reader is required to think. But not too much. When the symbol occurs alone, it has to represent do. To represent a single letter d, one must precede the symbol with a letter sign (dots 5 and 6). Similarly, in

       * *
    *  * *
letter  g (g for ground floor)

the letter g, appearing without the letter sign, would represent the word go. Overloading of this sort can get more complicated: the letter pairs be and bb, and the semicolon, are all represented by same single-cell symbol. However, there are various restrictions on the use of the symbol. As bb, it can only occur between other letters, etc. The number sign is also used to represent -ble, and so forth.

When they are not preceded by a number sign, the letters a-j lowered by a row are punctuation signs:

  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .
  * .  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  . *  |  . *
  . .  |  * .  |  . .  |  . *  |  . *  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  * *
  _,_     _;_     _:_     _._     _?_     _!_    paren   _``_     _*_     _''_

In the preceding line, I have used underlines to distinguish comma from apostrophe, etc., or else just to be moderately consistent. _``_ and _''_ correspond to different symbols in French than in English, but in either case they are open- and close-double-quote signs. (There is a separate symbol, neither comma nor period, to represent the decimal point; it is dots 4 and 6.) Paren represents both opening and closing parenthesis, so parentheses cannot be nested in ordinary text. (English braille usage does provide a paired set of nestable brackets. They're two-cell symbols constructed from the paren symbol with a raised dot 6 in the preceding cell for an opening bracket, or a raised dot 3 in the following cell to close. Separate symbols for opening and closing round and square brackets are part of the mathematical symbols of braille.) The only one of Braille's punctuation marks not used in English is the asterisk sign. In English, a single cell with dots 3 and 5 raised (Braille's asterisk mark) represents the letter pair in, and an asterisk is represented by two in cells. A large number of functional symbols and multi-cell punctuation marks have been devised. Frankly, braille looks, er, feels a lot handier than ASCII. (Braille's musical notation is also widely admired.)

braille variants
There were at one time many different embossed-dot systems of representing Latin alphabetic characters. Braille's famous one can be regarded as a successor to that introduced early in the nineteenth century by the French officer Capt. Charles Barbier of Besançon (1767-1841). Barbier's system, called expeditive français and (more plausibly) écriture nocturne, represented each letter by a cell containing two columns of six dots each. Such a system was versatile, but six dots was too long to be covered by a finger in reading. In the early years, Braille's system inspired imitators, and his system competed for use with these as well as with earlier ``line'' systems that were essentially embossed versions of alphabetic characters.

Here are some comments from A Cyclopedia of Education, ed. Paul Monroe (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1911), from the waning years of that wild and wooly era when many different schemes competed. (The comments are excerpted from the article ``Education of the Blind,'' written by Helen Keller. If you attended a US school, you probably heard a lot of inspirational stuff about her life before she became a socialist.)

  Curricula and Apparatus. -- The curricula of the ordinary institutions for the young blind are about the same as those of the common schools for the seeing, -- reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, history, etc. The chief difference in method lies in the apparatus, and is at once suggested by a study of the apparatus itself.
  The first embossed book for the blind was printed at the Paris Institution in 1786. The early books were expensive, not easy to read, and were used primarily for exhibition purposes. The type was a form of Roman letter. Many persons experimented with variations of our common letters and arbitrary arrangements of lines and curves. [A number of such systems were used, but] except for the very useful Moon type for the elderly blind and those whose fingers are insensitive, all line alphabets have been abandoned (the Perkins Institution only recently discontinued the printing of Roman line) in favor of point systems, braille and two variants of it.
  The base of braille is a cell of 6 points, thus [until I cook up a little image file, imagine two parallel columns of three equally-spaced dots]. The characters consist of various combinations of these 6 points. For instance, 3 points in a vertical line form the letter L. If the middle dot is struck out and placed at the right of the lower dot, the letter is U, and so on. There are 62 [sic] characters. Each represents a letter, a punctuation mark, or a contraction standing for several letters. This point system was made by Louis Braille in 1825, and bears his name. It is used all over the world. American braille embodies some changes, not in the form of the letters, but in the assignment of the letters to various combinations. The idea was that the letters which occur most frequently, such as E, O, R, S, T, should be made with the fewest dots. The changes do not alter the mechanical structure of the type any more than the mechanical structure of this ink type would be altered if it should be agreed to print s for e and e for s. New York point differs from braille in that the characters are not 3 points high and 2 wide, but 2 points high and 3 wide. It has no advantages, and some disadvantages as compared with braille. The variety of prints has caused some confusion and has resulted in reduplication of books. Some American institutions are provincial enough to cling to New York point when other American institutions and the whole of Europe use braille both for literature and for music. But any enterprising blind person who knows one print can easily learn another. The point systems can be written for notes, correspondence and manuscript books, on special writing machines and also by means of small hand frames and a stylus to indent the points. To write ink print the blind can use any typewriter, and typewriting is taught in the best schools. The blind also write pencil script, and there are several ingenious devices to guide the pencil.

Below are the letter symbols for braille and three other systems. (The cartouches are for the viewer's convenience only; no such boxes are normally embossed.) The ``English braille,'' coincides with Braille's braille in the letters shown. The American braille symbols differ as Keller explained. ``New York'' symbols are mostly identical with the ``Wait Anglo-American'' symbols for lower-case characters. [The symbols that differ are those for t, whose single dot the different systems have in different columns, and those for a, m, n, o, and s, which are only two columns wide in Wait l.c. symbols, but are three columns wide in New York (with a blank middle column). Not all the symbols that could have been stretched were, and it's hard to see a uniform principle according to which it was decided which letters would be wide.] There seems to have been some confusion of names. (And most tables of braille symbols that I have found in English-, Spanish-, and Italian-language encyclopedias contain some obviously erroneous symbol identification; none of the French encyclopedias I've checked gives a table.) There was a plate accompanying the cited article, source uncredited, that gave the Wait symbols but called them New York Lower Case and Capitals. (The braille system and most variants of it use a special character which indicates that a letter following it is capitalized.)

     English   American     New       Anglo-American (Wait)
     braille   braille      York       Lower      
                                       Case        Capitals
     +-----+   +-----+
     | * * |   | * * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
     | * * |   | * * |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * * * |
     | * * |   | * * |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * * * |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | *   |   | *   |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  a  |     |   |     |   | *   * |   | * *   |   | * *     |
     |     |   |     |   |       |   |       |   |     * * |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | *   |   | *   |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  b  | *   |   | *   |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * *   |
     |     |   |   * |   | *     |   | *     |   | *     * |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | * * |   |   * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  c  |     |   | * * |   | * *   |   | * *   |   | * *   * |
     |     |   |     |   |     * |   |     * |   |     *   |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | * * |   | * * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  d  |   * |   |   * |   |   * * |   |   * * |   | * * * * |
     |     |   |     |   |     * |   |     * |   |   *     |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | *   |   |     |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  e  |   * |   | *   |   |   *   |   |   *   |   | *       |
     |     |   |     |   |       |   |       |   |   * * * |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | * * |   | * * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  f  | *   |   | *   |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * *   |
     |     |   |     |   |       |   |       |   |       * |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | * * |   | * * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  g  | * * |   | * * |   |     * |   |     * |   |     * * |
     |     |   |     |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * *   |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | *   |   | *   |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  h  | * * |   | * * |   |   * * |   |   * * |   |   * * * |
     |     |   |     |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * *   |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     |   * |   |   * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  i  | *   |   | *   |   |   *   |   |   *   |   | * * * * |
     |     |   |     |   |   *   |   |   *   |   | *       |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     |   * |   | * * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  j  | * * |   |   * |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * *   |
     |     |   | * * |   |   *   |   |   *   |   |   *   * |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | *   |   | *   |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  k  |     |   | * * |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * * * |
     | *   |   | *   |   |     * |   |     * |   |     *   |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | *   |   | *   |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  l  | *   |   | *   |   | *     |   | *     |   | *   * * |
     | *   |   | *   |   | * *   |   | * *   |   | * *     |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | * * |   | * * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  m  |     |   |     |   | *   * |   |   * * |   | * *     |
     | *   |   | *   |   | *     |   |   *   |   | *   * * |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | * * |   |   * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  n  |   * |   |     |   |       |   |       |   |     * * |
     | *   |   | * * |   | *   * |   |   * * |   | * *     |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | *   |   | *   |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  o  |   * |   |   * |   |     * |   |     * |   |   *     |
     | *   |   |     |   | *     |   |   *   |   | *   * * |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | * * |   | * * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  p  | *   |   |     |   | *     |   | *     |   | *     * |
     | *   |   |   * |   |   * * |   |   * * |   |   * *   |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | * * |   | * * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  q  | * * |   | * * |   | *     |   | *     |   | *     * |
     | *   |   | *   |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * *   |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | *   |   | * * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  r  | * * |   |     |   |     * |   |     * |   |   * * * |
     | *   |   |     |   |   * * |   |   * * |   | * *     |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     |   * |   | *   |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  s  | *   |   |     |   | *     |   |   *   |   | *   * * |
     | *   |   | *   |   |     * |   |     * |   |   *     |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     |   * |   | *   |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  t  | * * |   | *   |   |       |   |       |   |   * * * |
     | *   |   |     |   |     * |   |   *   |   | *       |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | *   |   | *   |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  u  |     |   |     |   |       |   |       |   |       * |
     | * * |   | * * |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * *   |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | *   |   | *   |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  v  | *   |   | *   |   | *   * |   | *   * |   | *   *   |
     | * * |   | * * |   |   *   |   |   *   |   |   *   * |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     |   * |   |   * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  w  | * * |   | * * |   |     * |   |     * |   |     *   |
     |   * |   |   * |   | * *   |   | * *   |   | * *   * |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | * * |   | *   |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  x  |     |   | * * |   | *   * |   | *   * |   | *   * * |
     | * * |   | * * |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * *   |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | * * |   |   * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  y  |   * |   |   * |   |   *   |   |   *   |   |   *   * |
     | * * |   | *   |   | *   * |   | *   * |   | *   *   |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | *   |   | * * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  z  |   * |   | * * |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * * * |
     | * * |   |   * |   |   * * |   |   * * |   |   * *   |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

To be fair, the two-row symbols (i.e., those that are two points high) have one apparent advantage over three-row symbols like Braille's: they can be scaled about 50% in point spacing and still be read across without having to zig-zag one's finger. As the original problems with Barbier's system demonstrated, and Keller's comments on Moon type suggest, this is not an inconsiderable issue. A drawback with the two-row symbols, and one difficult to remedy, is that one must have a sense of isolated dots' positions. In the Wait and New York systems, for example, the e and t symbols are both represented by a single dot (in upper and lower row, resp.). A similar problem, probably worse, occurs with the ``American braille'' (second column of cartouches above). Braille avoided these ambiguities; his solution to the problem is clearer when his assignments are represented in a ten-column table as shown at the braille letters entry.

The major variants were all eventually abandoned. So far as I can tell, most languages which sighted people read in Roman characters are read in Braille's braille, or in minor variants of it that preserve the symbol assignments of the 26 letters of the English alphabet as well as the number symbol that reassigns letters a-i and j following it to the numbers 1-9 and 0. Different languages' versions of braille do differ in the assignments of symbols for letters with diacritical marks. For Braille's original symbol assignments and for some of the extensions and changes to this in the standard English variant, see the braille letters entry. Likewise for German, see Blindenschrift.

A monster in a Mexican movie.
In 1661 Mexico, the Baron Vitelius of Astara is sentenced to be burned alive by the Holy Inquisition of Mexico for witchcraft, necromancy, and other crimes. As he dies, the Baron swears vengeance against the descendants of the Inquisitors. 300 years later, a comet that was passing overhead on the night of the Baron's execution returns to earth, bringing with it the Baron in the form of a horrible, brain-eating monster that terrorizes the Inquisitor[s'] descendants.

The movie was released as El Barón del Terror in 1962. You wonder if they didn't miss an editing deadline. As I understand it, a dubbed version was released in the US in 1963, with the title Baron of Terror (literal translation of the original title) and broadcast on TV in 1969 as The Brainiac.

Kiss the girls and make them cry. It starred Abel Salazar, Mexico's answer to Paul Newman or George C. Scott. If you want to see a horror movie but you don't want to be scared or even entertained, this is an excellent choice. A fast-forward classic. It is one of the 41 horrible movies excerpted in the Horrible Horror video (1986).

Shucks -- at the studio (Alameda Films) they give the entire plot, including all the spoilers:

México, 1661. El Barón Vitelius ríe mientras la Inquisición lo tortura por seductor y brujo. Un Testigo, el portugués Marcos, recibe 200 azotes por defender a Vitelius. Mientras Vitelius es quemado en la hoguera, para una cometa. Vitelius anuncia que volverá con el cometa al cabo de 300 años para vengarse en los descendientes de los inquisidores Pantoja, Meneses, Álvaro Contreras y Herlindo del Vivar., En 1961, Reynaldo, descendiente de Marcos, y su novia Victoria, descendiente de Contreras, ven el cometa por telescopio en el observatorio de su maestro el astrónomo Millán. Una roca desprendida del cometa cae y se convierte en un monstruo que mata a un hombre, le quita su ropa, cobra el aspecto de Vitelius y se hace amigo de Reynaldo y Victoria, llegados al lugar. En un bar, Vitelius recobra su aspecto monstruoso para matar a una mujer que lo besa. Vitelius ofrece una fiesta de lujo y se hace monstruo para matar en ella a Indalecio y a su hija María, historiadores descendientes de los Pantoja. Millán queda desesperado por la desaparición del cometa: es un cometa maldito. Vitelius mata al ingeniero metalúrgico Luis, descendiente de Meneses, a su esposa, a Ana Luisa, descendiente de Vivar, y a su marido el Licenciado Coria. Victoria y Reynaldo son Invitados a cenar por el barón, que cobra su aspecto de monstruo para liquidarlos, pero llega la policía y lo destruye con lanzallamas.

It occurs to me that the movie did have some novelties. It seemed that he didn't eat all his brains immediately, but saved some for later. At least at one point in the movie, he noshes on some left-over brains. He uses a narrow spoon with a long handle. I hadn't realized that iced tea was popular in Mexico.

Another horrible horror movie with the title Brainiac was released in 2004. The principal thing it has in common with the original movie is that it involves a monster that sucks people's brains out. It was a low-budget independent production, and perhaps the question in everyone's brain was, ``is it so bad that it's good?'' The consensus seems to be no.

A smart person. Slang modeled on all the early-computer names that ended in -iac. Hence the title of a 2006 book by Ken Jennings, Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs. On the cover, Jennings is described as ``[t]he greatest champion in Jeopardy! history.'' I'd probably have mentioned this earlier if I hadn't made the mistake of checking the catalog of my local 3-million-volume university library, which only has works by Kenneth M. Jennings on labor union history. See also 3RA1N1AC.

Naturally, the term may be used ironically. For instance, in Los Angeles on August 6, 2007, Britney Spears crashed her black Mercedes into a parked station wagon, and then told the paparazzi, ``I'm a brainiac!'' (This is according to the NY Post, from its Page-SixSM gossip feature on August 8. I wasn't there myself, so I can't say for certain that this happened, but it sounds pretty plausible for someone ditzy and rich enough to drive disposable Mercedeses.)

A Superman adversary. I didn't realize these guys had jobs. The Kryptonian (the site is defunct, taken over by a domainer) listed his ``Occupation: Cyber-conqueror.'' He looks like a green jack-o'-lantern on soccer-player's legs. (Yeah, he's got a more ordinary head sticking out of the top of the jack-o'-lantern thorax.)

It reminds me of one of the few really memorable quotes in Chamber of Secrets, the second book of the Harry Potter series. Arthur Weasley works at the Ministry of Magic, in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office. (At some point, though I think it is after this book, he is promoted to another office in the ministry.) Naturally, Arthur is intrigued by muggle artifacts, as well as enchanted (misused) ones, and his interest is a dangerous weakness. Anyway, in Chamber, the life of his daughter Ginny is endangered by an enchanted diary. At the end of the book... SPOILER AHEAD... her life is saved by Harry (big surprise there, I'm sure). After Mr. Weasley has heard the whole story, he admonishes his daughter for falling under the spell of the diary: ``What have I always told you? Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brains.''

Speculate ignorantly and enthusiastically.

Britain, Representation, and Nineteenth-Century History. It's an online resource for the period 1775-1925.

The Association of BRitish American Nineteenth Century Historians. It's an association of British historians of nineteenth-century America: ``established in 1993 in order to promote the study in Britain of the history of the United States between 1789 and 1917.'' Okay, it's one of those stretch centuries (see the preceding entry for an alternative periodization, or our entry on the Long Nineteenth Century). Cf. HOTCUS.

Branwell Brontë
After her brother Branwell died, Charlotte wrote to W.S. Williams (Oct. 2, 1848): ``My poor father thought more of his only son than of his daughters.'' I think it's generally understood that she didn't mean the comment as a criticism.

The spelling of brazil in Spanish and Portuguese.

bra size mathematics
Bra cup size is a sophisticated computation. Do you think you're really ready to learn about this? Maybe you should start small. You say you did that? Look, we have an entry (D.B.H.) that's basically about bra position mathematics, and that's a lot simpler and makes a shorter entry. You sure you want to know about sizes? Oh well, don't say I didn't warn you.

It's actually a multidimensional problem. First you measure torso circumference just below the breast. You add four or five inches to that to get a number that is called the ``bra back size.'' Actually, it might be five or six inches -- I've read conflicting accounts and I'm too timid to ask a professional in person. In this other scheme you apparently add five and round up an extra inch if necessary to get an even number. So if you measure a torso circumference of 29.6 inches, you compute a bra back size of 36. No wonder these things use elastic. After you've done all this, you forget about it, apparently. If I see a consensus developing on exactly how to compute bra dimensions, I'll come back to this entry.

After determining the bra back size, give or take a couple of inches, you measure the bust at its greatest circumference. The difference determines the ``cup size'' according to a rule that must have a tortured history indeed, and which is displayed below:

``bust size'' minus ``bra back size''
Cup size
4 AA
5 A
6 B
7 C
8 D
9 DD
10 E
11 F
12 FF
13 G
14 GG
15 H

(For a plus size, see the TTBOMKAB entry.)

Interestingly, these measurements are supposed to be performed while the body being measured is wearing a bra. I can imagine that this could lead to chicken-and-egg problems, or at best a method of successive approximations. That also reminds me - this glossary does not have size information for athletic cups, but we do have a table of egg sizes.

Military Officers. So called from their distinctive traditional decorations.

An alloy of more copper (Cu) than zinc (Zn), usually no more than a trace of other stuff. What is usually meant by brass is the 2:1 alloy also called yellow brass, but other alloys with more copper (cartridge brass, red brass) also get the name. You probably want to read the rest of this entry backwards by paragraphs.

Automated Securities Clearance Ltd. owned the brass.com domain, but doesn't seem ever to have gotten a web site up. Copper Development Association owned brass.org, and had registered www.brass.org, but didn't do anything with it. Now (January 1, 1999) both brass.org and brass.com domains are without DNS entries.

Whoops! As of December 2002 the brass.com domain is used by an e-commerce solutions company named BRASS in capitals, no expansion offered.

Brass.org has further information on useful copper alloys.

The name for a golf club about like a two wood, back in the days before they became standardized and numbered.

Infinitive of a German verb (regular, weak, past perf. formed with haben) meaning `need.' As in English, the verb is used both transitively and as a modal: brauchen zu + <Infinitiv>; exactly parallel to English -- need to + <infinitive>. (Keep in mind the V2 structure -- most adverbials and the object of the verb in infinitive form follow the conjugated form of brauchen and precede zu, whereas in English at least the object follows the infinitive after the to.)

An unusual transitive use, equivalent to aufwenden müssen, is for time required to complete a task: ich habe eine Stunde gebraucht, `it took me an hour' or more literally `I needed an hour.' In another acceptation, brauchen is a synonym of gebrauchen or benutzen (`use'). Although this is less common without context help (ich könnte es brauchen, for example, is more likely to mean `I could use it'), derived words usually take a sense related to gebrauchen. Examples include Brauch (masc., plural Bräche), `custom,' and brauchbar (`usable, wearable, useful'); cf. gebraucht.

Goethe's Faust is a sort of story of Job, with Dr. Faust in the role of Job, although the methods of the Devil are much less unpleasant than in the Biblical story. The stage for Faust's attempted seduction is set during a discussion among God, the Devil, and some angels -- a prologue in heaven. There Mephistopheles (the Devil) comments on man:

Er nennt's Vernunft und braucht's allein,
Nur tierischer als jedes Tier zu sein.

[He calls it reason and uses it only
to be more beastly than any beast.]

Bravais lattice
Kittel's book makes out that this is a difficult concept to express. It's not. A bravais lattice is not a particular lattice, but instead it is an equivalence class of lattices. An equivalence class is a set composed of all of the objects equivalent to each other under an equivalence relation. To define the equivalence classes that are called Bravais lattices, we consider two lattices equivalent if rotation, isotropic scaling, and possibly a reflection can turn one into another.

Bravais's Law
The crystal faces most likely to occur are those with the smallest reticular area -- i.e., the highest density of atoms.

(This is, of course, only a trend rather than a rigorous rule.)

Brazil was originally the name of the hard, brownish-red wood of the Sappan (Caesalpinia sappan), an East Indian tree. A red dye was extracted from brazil, and the word was used metonymically for the dye, the tree, and the hardness of the wood. In South America, a related species was found (C. echinata) that also eventually was used as a source of dye. The name was extended to this and other similar trees of Central America and the West Indies (the latter yielded other, generally lighter-colored dyes).

The Portuguese referred to the area they colonized as ``terra do brasil'' (`land of brazil'). Shortened to Brasil, this eventually became the country name. Despite the development of artificial dyes, the existence of this tree is still useful because it grows in the Scrabble forest; all three major Scrabble dictionaries accept brasil and brazil, and their regularly-formed (-s) English plurals.

(I'll) Be Right Back. Email acronym. Oh, sure, I'm hanging on your every keystroke. Hurry back to the cuddly keyboard (KB). Oh -- now I understand! It's...

{(I'll) Be Right Back | BathRoom Break }. Chatroom/IM abbreviation. Not normally capitalized.

Blue Ribbon Coalition. ``Preserving our natural resources FOR the public instead of FROM the public.'' Access advocates, like ARRA.

BReast CAncer susceptibility gene. It's rather large and has over 100 sites where variations occur.


BundesRepublik Deutschland. More at FRG.

Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function.

Some sort of food-scientific implement, apparently used in some coordinated interactive way with a sharp metallic device, to perform a food-technological operation on a foodstuff. That's my tentative understanding so far. It could get complicated. Until we get all the details straightened out, why don't you just read about this other breadboard instead?

A kind of proto board. A low plastic box whose surface has a regular array of holes for the insertion of electric leads. The holes have metal contacts on the inside that apply light pressure laterally to retain an inserted wire. The contacts of different wires are electrically connected inside the box; typically, all the openings in a column of the array form a single node. (Other configurations also occur, such as clusters of adjacent holes connected as nodes, and one or two voltage rails, intended to be used as ground and as a VDD or VCC source.) Originally, this and various alternative schemes were used for prototyping circuits made from discrete components. (One alternative to breadboard was an array of tightly coiled springs mounted so wire leads could be inserted through the side of a coil and stay in place. Each spring constituted a node.) The popularity of breadboard is due in significant part to the standardization of IC packages. Breadboard openings are spaced and sized so that the board can function as a socket for IC packages. The columns of openings are also split across the middle of the board, electronically and visibly, so a DIP will fit straddling the centerline with pins in two rows, all electronically isolated. You can make a pretty serious circuit on a single board.

In electronic design, the verb to breadboard is commonly used as a synonym of to prototype (to make a prototype of, to test as a prototype).

In the Carter administration (1977-81, remembered as the years of disaster and malaise), Liz Carpenter was working on women's-rights issues. One time when she asked a university president how his campus was broken down by sex, she received the following thoughtful response: ``Well, ma'am, liquor is more of a problem.''

breakdown diode
A diode that goes open when the reverse bias voltage exceeds some threshold value. The name implies that the reverse-on mode occurs by some breakdown mechanism, which would imply a very sharp turn-on. In practice the terminology is utilitarian -- not distinguishing microscopic mechanism for devices with qualitatively similar characteristics. Hence, both breakdown diodes and Zener diodes, understood in the strictest sense, are usually called Zener diodes (q.v.).

breakup sex
Defined in Em & Lo's Rec Sex: An A-Z Guide to Hooking Up (p. 17) as ``One-last-time relations with someone immediately after dumping them or being dumped by them.'' Defined by Anna Jane Grossman in her It's Not Me, It's You: The Ultimate Breakup Book (p. 85) as ``Coitus with a party immediately following the agreement to sever romantic ties....'' That's the trouble with specific, technical terminology: it's likely to be too restrictive or contradictory.

Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method.

The German name of a Silesian city that is now in southwestern Poland. The Polish name is Wroclaw (the el has a slash through it: Wrocław). It's the capital of its province, and the province name is suffering from an infestation of diacritics.

Some websites:

My mother was born in Breslau, and that accounts for some of my interest in the place. She and I visited it in 2005.

The neo-Kantian philosopher Ernst Cassirer was born in Breslau on July 28, 1874. The German economist Karl Schiller was born there on April 24, 1911. Otto Stern, later famous for the Stern-Gerlach Experiment (1922), received his doctorate in physical chemistry at the University of Breslau in 1912. Fritz Stern, a historian of the various aspects and precursors of the Nazi era and now perhaps most famous for his book Einstein's German World, was also born there -- in 1926. I don't know if they're related.

You may have found yourself wondering: ``What's the weather like in Breslau in June?'' If so, you read my mind! Stop that! Overnight lows in the sixties Fahrenheit, highs around eighty.

Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. The 1894 edition is online.

Benchmark Report Format.

Here's some interesting text I read in the Winamp3 License Agreement: ``Licensee may not ... (v) publish any results of benchmark tests run on the Product to a third party.'' One wonders how far this clause is valid under the first amendment. There are such things as nondisclosure agreements, but this is ridiculous. Freedom of speech includes the right to say the product (sorry -- the Product) sucks or rocks, but they think they can restrict the right to say by how much. Computer-mag reviews of this product could get interesting.

Gee, while we're reading along (everybody takes time out from the installation procedure to study these things carefully, of course) there's the following:

INDEMNIFICATION. Licensee agrees to indemnify, hold harmless, and at Nullsoft's request and
expense, to defend Nullsoft and its affiliates from any and all costs, damages and reasonable attorneys' fees resulting from any claim that Licensee's use of the Product has injured or otherwise violated any right of any third party or violates any law.

Whose ``its''?

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. An ongoing CDC-sponsored telephone survey of adult risk behaviors.

Basic Rate Interface.

Bristol Royal Infirmary.

Building-Related Illness[es]. Vide Sick Building Syndrome (SBS).

Brazil, Russia, India, and China. I've read that the notion of BRIC's as an investment theme was created in 2001 by Jim O'Neill of Goldman Sachs (chief economist there, as of 2010).

Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. It's interesting how ``Russia'' went so quickly from being an established world power to being an emerging power.

We have a few entries that have something or other to do with bridges of a structural sort (spanning a river or a micron or something). Here are some entries in which the bridges are not entirely metaphorical:

The card game bridge, related to whist, takes its name from a Russian word transliterated as biritch, vel sim. If you wanted to learn about this sort of bridge, the web site you're reading this from might not be the best place to do so. If you insist, however, you can visit the following entries:

(These lists are under construction at this very hour!)

bridge to the future
During the 1996 US presidential campaign, incumbent William Jefferson Clinton spoke of building ``a bridge to the 21st century.'' The twenty-first century began on schedule after his successor had been elected, or chosen or something, and I guess the Bill-man waddled lamely across that bridge.

His metaphor was criticized as meaningless. This is pretty unfair, because if it's truly meaningless, then it's probably not a very big lie. You might say that building a bridge to the past -- connecting somehow with heritage -- is more meaningful than building a bridge to the future. I mean -- what happens if you don't? Will time come crashing to a halt in the space of a Planck time? When will we find out that it happened? Perhaps it already has!

But I'm not really concerned with that. Let's just say for argument's sake that there is a river in time and that we need to get to the other side without getting wet. I'm concerned about the practicalities. Do we have to build it as we go and carry it with us to the bank, or is there some way we can build it at the shore we haven't reached yet? What about the future? They're presumably already there, probably waiting for us to arrive. They could build it now. Why do we always have to foot the bill? We're being economically exploited! In the words of Marx, ``what has posterity ever done for me?''

But I'm not really concerned with that. I only put this entry in because I noticed an earlier use of the phrase ``bridge to the future,'' but now I can't find it. I will, though, in the future. Until then, there's ``a one-way ticket to midnight'' in a song explained at the triboelectricity entry.

Bridgeville, California
A tiny town in the northern part of the state. It was once a hub for a local stagecoach route and a stop on the Pony Express. When the town was put up for auction on eBay on November 27, 2002, it was described as having an area of 82 acres, a mile and a half of Van Duzen riverbank (and the near half of the river along it), four cabins, ten houses, one cemetery (incl. an obscure historical person), and great mountain views. It came with one backhoe and one tractor, and plenty of spare parts. However, the school in the center of town (K-8), as also some of the main streets, belong to the State of California. It's hard to understand how a town that size can have at least as many as ``some ... main streets.'' It was a real fixer-upper; some of the houses had been deemed uninhabitable by the county. It was advertised as ``a potential private retreat, moneymaker or tax shelter.'' FSBO (the Lapple family). It was the first town ever auctioned on eBay.

The reserve price was $775,000, and bidding was frenzied , but when the original winner of the 2002 auction (with a bid of $1.78 million) backed out, it was purchased for $700,000 by Orange County banker Bruce Krall. That's a puzzling come-down. Krall relisted Bridgeville on eBay in 2006, saying he couldn't afford to continue making restorations. He finally flipped it for $1.25 million in August, to Daniel La Paille, a 25-year-old Los Angeles entertainment manager and college student. La Paille brought in work crews to repair many of the town's homes and began building a park. He wanted his whole family to move there, and in October his cousin Adam Wade went there to be the property manager and maintenance man. In November, however, La Paille committed suicide. (He shot himself in the chest and in Los Angeles.) Soon afterwards, town improvement efforts faltered. They need a new well, too, which will cost $50,000, and they don't even have the money for that. They are repainting the post office exterior in earth tones, however.

As of July 2007, it is described as having eight houses, a post office, and a café, and a population of ``about 30.'' They couldn't be more precise? According to Bruce McNaughton, the real estate agent handling the sale for the family, it's on the market for $1.3 million.

Bridgman-Stockbarger Method
A method of growing single crystals. Method involves melting material in a capsule, and moving the capsule downward slowly into a cooler region so that slow crystallization occurs, beginning from a single nucleus. This is essentially the vertical version of the horizontal Bridgman method.

Any scientist capable of explaining anything technical to a journalist in a way that misleads the journalist into believing that (s)he has understood. An expression of surprise.

Bring-Your-Daughter-To-Work Day
It's always the fourth Thursday of April. In 1999, this coincided with Earth Day (April 22), so you had to bring your daughter to earthworks.

BRITish sitCOM. An unamusing English sitcom, probably from the BBC, broadcast for the nursing-home demographic on North American public television.

Basic Rate Interface Transmission Extension.

Biomolecular Relations in Information Transmission and Expression.

British Association
The British Association for the Advancement of Science. Established in 1831 by Sir David Brewster, R.I. Murchison and others, it held its first annual meeting that year in York. Among the stated objectives of the British Association is to ``promote the intercourse of those who cultivate science with each other.'' Gotta love that. It received a royal charter in 1928.

British Museum
This was the name of the British Library, back in the days when Karl Marx used to hang out there. It was founded by an act of the British Parliament in 1753 and was located in the Bloomsbury neighborhood of London.

When the British Library was founded in 1973 (by an Act of the previous year), it absorbed the book and manuscript collections of the British Museum library and a number of less well-known British libraries. Details here. In 1997, the library was moved to vast new quarters at King's Cross. People who used it at the old location were generally pleased with the new digs.

Over the years of exploration and empire, the museum accumulated scattered artifacts like the Elgin Marbles (the Parthenon frieze, removed by Lord Elgin with the approval of local Turkish officials duly bribed; a continual thorn in the side of relations between Britain and fellow EU member Greece), the Rosetta Stone, royal Egyptian mummies, and one of the original holographs of the Magna Carta (I don't think there's any shadow on the title to this item).

British Post Office
Yes, they're really in the business of making and selling lasers. I think they also deliver snail.

British Rail, British Railways
The railway company of Great Britain during the era of nationalized operation, from 1948 to 1994. The shorter name was adopted in the 1960's. Commonly abbreviated BR. Succeeded by OPRAF, q.v.

Do not confuse the old company name British Rail with the marketing name Britrail.

Brit Lit
BRITish LITerature. BritLit and Brit-Lit are also used, just as Can Lit is an alternative to CanLit. But Brit Lit as two words brings out the nice rhyme, whereas Can Lit with a space suggests potboilers, hence the difference in usage. Then again, maybe it just happened.

Britney Spears
``It is a little known fact, that Ms Spears is an expert in semiconductor physics. Not content with just singing, in the [link] pages, she will guide you in the fundamentals of the vital laser components that have made it possible to hear her super music in a digital format.''

She's also done a children's book.

These SAT-prep problems -- (1) (2) (3) -- embody, so to speak, the same idea. And adds a new item to the ``spherical cow'' toolbox of physics approximations. Sit down, Kanye. I'm reminded of a story Stanislaw Ulam told in his autobiography, Adventures of a Mathematician. It concerned calculations that were being done at Los Alamos for the H-bomb project.

  I particularly remember one of the programmers who was really beautiful and well endowed. She would come into my office with the results of the daily computation. Large sheets of paper were filled with numbers. She would unfold them in front of her low-cut Spanish blouse and ask, ``How do they look?'' and I would exclaim, ``They look marvelous!'' to the entertainment of Fermi and others in the office at the time.

And here's one for the girls, or very young ladies or whomever. Follow these links soon; I don't know how long they live.

  1. One of the early Celt inhabitants of southern England.
  2. An inhabitant of England or Wales. J.R.R. Tolkien wrote (in an essay published in Angles and Britons; for details see the beauty entry) that this lamentable usage was introduced around the time that Scotland was united with England and Wales under a common king. (That was James VI of Scotland, who became James I of England. Depending on your perspective, you might prefer ``reunited'' above. In any case, things didn't work out very well with the Stewarts.) Note that the famous triple-scepter symbolized not rule over England, Wales, and Scotland, but over England (and Wales), Scotland, and Ireland. My impression is that over time, this second sense has been superseded by a third:
  3. An inhabitant of Britain.

A British woman I know objected to my using Briton in the third sense. So I should've called her a Limey?

It's amazing that a language as rich in words as English never managed to get reliably unobjectionable gentilicial nouns for the two most populous countries in which it is the essentially universal language (UK and US). It's probably intentional.

Britrail, Britrailpass
Marketing name covering a series of passes similar to the Eurail, but for use in Great Britain. The name is not that of any company that has ever operated trains in Great Britain. British Rail is (or was).

Biological Response Modifi{er|cation} (therapy). Therapy that attempts to induce a stronger self-healing response in the patient.

BRN, Brn, brn

Britannia Royal Naval College.

Title of a glossy lifestyle magazine for Southern California, which includes BReNTWooD. (I believe that's a glossy magazine about lifestyle, and not a glossy-lifestyle magazine. Then again...)

``Reach the Wealthiest Demographics in Southern California.'' You can never be too rich or too thin, but chocolate cake is a different story.

Slang for ``brother,'' generally used in a nonliteral sense. In other words, brother is to male siblinghood about as bro' is to brotherhood, since the word brotherhood is also generally used in the nonliteral sense. (Since the word siblinghood is a nonce term, I'm taking the liberty of defining it conveniently as ``literal brotherhood.'')

While my mom was visiting me in Arizona some years ago, back in New Jersey my father decided to do some strenuous outdoor work. Not long after, his longtime friend Miguel happened to come over, and convinced him to go to the hospital (my dad didn't realize it, but he had had a heart attack). Miguel hung around until a nurse came in and said it was time for all nonfamily-members to leave, so my dad said that Miguel was his brother. The nurse astutely observed that they didn't look very much alike, and my father replied that they had different fathers. This was true, but they had different mothers also. My dad was using ``brother'' in a very loose sense (Miguel wasn't even a Mason, afaik), intending to be understood to be using it in only a slightly loose sense. My father didn't believe in lying when ordinary deception would suffice.

Cf. Bros.

The following is from True Confessions, compiled and edited by Jon Winokur (Victor Gollancz Ltd., London, 1992), a book of quotations of celebrities. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar confessed this (where or when was not indicated):

There was this girl in high school I really liked and finally got the nerve to ask out. So we went to the movies, and then I took her home. I thought we'd had a really good time, but she jumped out of the car and ran into her house. I didn't understand it until I got home and looked in the mirror and realized I had gotten the broccoli from dinner stuck on my teeth. To this day I can't stand broccoli.

What George H.W. Bush said was this:

I do not like broccoli and I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States, and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli.
This launched an uproar.

On January 20, 1993, Bill Clinton became President of the United States. The following October, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton recorded a guest appearance on the children's show ``Sesame Street.'' She advised viewers to ``eat your broccoli, string beans, and apples.'' The original included a mention of peas, but she objected, saying ``Hardly anybody likes peas.'' Word got out. This launched another uproar (regarding which, see pea).

[obscure icon]

Broken English
The international language of science.

Coco Fusco's collection of essays, English is Broken Here: Notes on Cultural Fusion in the Americas received the 1995 Critics' Choice Award.

Almost any yellow-brown alloy of copper (Cu) and tin (Sn), or a copper alloy that has no tin but resembles ordinary bronze.

The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is about 2000 lb. of bronze. According to the National Park Service, it's about 70% Cu and 25% Sn, and the remainder is principally Pb, Zn, As, Au, and Ag.


Bronze Age
The earliest era of Greek history, roughly 3000-1100 BCE. The Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age designations were coined by the Danish archaeologist Christian Jürgensen Thomsen (1788-1865).

bronze disease
The corrosion of bronze in the presence of chloride ion. A pale green cuprous chloride [CuCl, copper (I) chloride in the ugly modern nomenclature] powder replaces the metal. Even in the absence of another source of chloride ion, the CuCl itself promotes corrosion in humid air, through the further oxidation of Cu+1 to Cu+2, and associated production of hydrochloric acid:
4CuCl + 4H2O + O2 --> CuCl2 + 3Cu(OH)2 + 2HCl .

Brooklyn Bridge
In newspapers on Saturday, 10 February 1996, the ``Willy 'N Ethel'' comic was about Willy hoping to tie up again with his ``supplier,'' now that the man is being paroled after serving time for fradulently selling bridges.

In ``Mixed Media'' for the same day, a typical OJ interview (protestation-of-innocence) video buyer is caricatured as the sort of person who could be conned into ``buying'' the Brooklyn Bridge.

This apparent coincidence proves conclusively that cartoonists are in telepathic communication. And if you believe that ...

I don't understand why FedEx bothers to keep its offices open for more than couple of hours a day. I'm never there until the last minute, and when I haven't been there, I've never seen anybody else there early either. Anyway, the other day I was there at the usual time, and some guy was chatting up an attractive clerk, when she could have been processing my very important package instead. Apparently to prove a point, he asked the assembled multitude ``who said `I shall return'?'' Only one person volunteered the answer. This proves conclusively that important parts of our cultural heritage are in danger of being forgotten. [Just in case a proof was somehow lacking. This is not the situation in England, where important parts of their cultural heritage are in danger of being forgot.]

Therefore, as a public service, I will retell the Brooklyn Bridge story in this very place. But not at this very time.

Okay, now: a yokel comes to the big city from the sticks. He's sitting on a bench near the Brooklyn Bridge, eyes wide, straw almost fallen out of his gaping mouth. A friendly stranger walks up... ``How do you like my bridge?'' ``Yes, yes, my bridge, see: I just collected the tolls from the booths. It's a shame though, I can't wait for it to all roll in; I need a chunk of money right tonight, or it's worth nothing me. . . . Say, uh ... you wouldn't happen to, I mean, could you -- aw nah, I shouldn't ask...''

Completion of story, seasoning and regional accents to taste; an exercise for the student.

In Argentina, the traditional scam had the con man strike up a friendly conversation with a greenhorn provincial in a bar. A confederate appears in the character of a bus driver and delivers what are represented as receipts from a bus belonging to the con man, who ceremoniously takes a small fraction of the income and returns it to the ``driver'' as wages. The object is to sell a city bus to the mark.

This glossary discusses pyramid schemes at the IRC entry. A rock harmony group called Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge has been performing since the 1960's.

Brooklyn Poly
Polytechnic University. Based in Brooklyn. Previously known as Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, previously the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, previously Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, previously the collegiate division of the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute. (The other division was a prep school -- ``Poly Prep''; current official name: Polytechnic Preparatory Country Day School.) Possibly they excised ``Brooklyn'' from the name after adding Long Island and Westchester satellite campuses.

The administrators don't seem know much about branding, but their IT people had the good sense to take <poly.edu> as a domain name. And the name beat goes on. According to email forwarded me in January 2013,

> NYU-Poly, formerly known as Brooklyn Poly and Polytechnic University,
> is merging with New York University, and is undergoing rapid growth in
> the heart of one of the world's most vibrant cities. NYU-Poly offers
> its faculty unprecedented opportunities for personal and professional
> growth with the guiding principles of invention, innovation and
> entrepreneurship.

(The NYU-Poly name was adopted when Poly affiliated with NYU back in 2008. So far the merger hasn't given rise to an new name, afaik.) This ``invention, innovation and entrepreneurship'' boilerplate is a slogan of Poly's administrative class. It is sometimes written with, and sometimes without, the serial comma. E.g.: ``NYU-Poly is well on its way to fulfilling its remarkable potential. Its drive to push the boundaries of what it means to be a 21st century research institution, one founded on the principle of invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship (i2e), led to numerous educational and research strides.'' Sure, it's probably very common for someone at a departmental faculty meeting to say something like ``I've been thinking about the principle of invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship, and it gave me an idea...'' while other people nod thoughtfully to disguise the fact that they're not paying any attention, and the one person who was listening bursts a bronchiole from trying not to laugh. The symbol 12e, incidentally, is sometimes written with, and sometimes without, superscripting of the 2. I haven't seen it as 2ie or in upper case, and you won't see it with its own entry in this glossary.

I'm not cynical, you know -- just reasonable. Two or three physicists I have known were undergraduates at Brooklyn Poly. Many kids go through a period, typically in their teens, when they're constantly embarrassed by their parents. Who knew that alma mater could do it to them later?

Brooks and Warren
``Not so many years ago the mention of Brooks and Warren could make a solid scholar's hair stand on end; today Understanding Poetry is an enshrined, even an old-fashioned text.''

I see from our library catalog and some other sources that Understanding Poetry: an Anthology for College Students by Cleanth Brooks (1906-1994) and Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989), was first published in 1938 by H. Holt and Company. English and American poetry, 20 cm, xxiv+680 pp. -- does anyone really need that much poetry? Couldn't they have published a more selective anthology in a dainty 10-cm booklet with generous margins? Ugh -- I see that by 1950, a completely revised edition had grown to 22 cm, and had lvi+727 pp. Maybe later I'll try to run down something meaningful about this. (Yeah, sure. When I get around to it.) It seems that the book and its editor/authors (both of them ``New Critics'') were very influential.

The quote at the beginning of this entry is from ``The Scandal of Literary Scholarship,'' by Louis Kampf, a contribution to The Dissenting Academy (Random House, 1967). The book is a whine or a roar (depending on your POV) against complacency and careerism among academics in the humanities, doing something else when they should be protesting the Vietnam War.

Brooks's Law
Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.

Promulgated by Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. in his The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering (1975; rev. edn. 1995). Brooks headed OS development for the IBM 360. As of 1996, he was a professor of computer science at the University of North Carolina.

Obviously this is an old and well-known law that precedes Mr. Brooks's elegant statement of it. In one famous example, Andrew Carnegie demonstrated that four men could lift an iron beam that eight men could not lift.

Brooktree Corporation
Chips and software for digital and mixed-signal applications. Their homepage is just the sort of thing for people who like that sort of thing.

BROtherS. A useful abbreviation for naming many family-owned businesses.

An interesting variation was used by a couple of venerable publishing houses: ``G.P. Putnam's Sons'' and ``Charles Scribner's Sons.''

brother school
A recent coinage. See sister school.

A combination inter-LAN BRidge and internetwork rOUTER.

browning reaction
The name given to the usual reaction between amines and carbonyl groups when the amines are part of the proteins. Guess what effect this has on the color of meat? That's right, and it doesn't improve the taste either.

brown noise
Noise with a power spectrum that falls off as 1/f. [The name comes from Brownian motion (q.v.), the random motion of small objects in fluids, which has this spectrum.] Ordinary music tends to have a brown power spectrum. In contrast, white noise tends to sound noisy, or busy, while pink noise sounds overly simple (qq.v.); see also popcorn noise.

Brownian motion
In 1827 the anatomist R. Brown described random motions that he observed in pollen grains under the microscope. It turned out that such motions had been observed previously by various researchers, in a variety of small particles. Contrary to Brown's and others' supposition, the motion was not a biological activity, but instead was an observable consequence of the atomic nature of matter: particles sufficiently small exhibited a significant recoil from collisions with individual atoms and molecules. [The recoil from individual collisions was still very frequent, however, and the observed Brownian motion represented statistical fluctuations--the fact that the momentum transfers from a large number of collisions (in a time scale of order 10 msec, which could be observed by a human eye) do not quite balance out in their effect, except on average.]

In 1905, Einstein explained Brownian motion definitively, in the process deriving an estimate of Avogadro's number NA. [This came at a time when the atomic hypothesis was not completely accepted, although there were other estimates.] Einstein made an arithmetic error in the paper, which was pointed out a few years later. With the error corrected, one gets a pretty decent estimate. Conversely, knowing Avogadro's number, one can use the observed motion to estimate the mass of the randomly kicked particle. The method is commonly used in the milk industry to determine fat globule mass. At one point (and possibly still), milk-industry publications made the Brownian motion paper Einstein's most-cited work.

  1. A sort of junior (grade-school) Girl Scouts (GSA). So called after the color of their uniforms. Cf. Cub Scouts (CSA).
  2. Pieces of a dense, chewy chocolate cake. So called after the color. The term seems to exist in a no-man's land between mass or uncountable nouns and count nouns. Any piece of brownie cake is a brownie, so you can cut a brownie in two and have two brownies, with no very sophisticated tools.

    This is not how Democritus came up with the concept of atoms.

    You know, there are certain kinds of flatworms that regenerate into two complete animals when cut in half. When my mother was a little girl growing up in Germany, pasta was not so common there. She remembers the first time she was introduced to it. She asked her father if they were worms. She wasn't assured by the negative answer (and after all, her father was a lawyer), so she then asked whether, when they were alive, they had been worms.

    My mother did not belong to the Nazi brownies (the JM) because she is Jewish.
    Very thin spaghetti is called vermicelli, which is Italian for `small worms.'
    Our Diet of Worms entry isn't very informative.

    There's a TV news report that first aired in the sixties, I think, on the annual ``Spaghetti Harvest Festival'' in Italy. The festival took place on April 1.

    Later, when I was a little boy growing up in the US, my elementary school asked her to contribute a baked good to sell for some worthy fund-raising. My mother is a good cook, but she decided to try something new to her (when in Rome, etc.), so she made brownies. They were probably chewy at first, the way all cement is chewy before it sets. (I've never eaten cement; I'm extrapolating from the properties of the brownies.) She was never again asked to bake anything for a school bake sale, which is just as well. Back in those days, working mothers were kind of unusual, so there wasn't much understanding of how difficult it is to balance work and bake sales. I actually like brownies that are tooth-challenging.

    I attended Columbus Elementary School. The school system in my town was integrated by closing the school and dispersing the students to other schools. Eventually they tore the school down and put up a bunch of duplexes.

    ``Goodbye, Columbus'' was a Broadway hit when I was in fifth grade.

Graze, forage.

Bombardier Recreational Products, Inc.

Brief Reactive Psychosis.

Business Recovery Plan. A disaster preparedness plan for the business. This turns out to be an especially useful abbreviation, since the spelled-out word recovery isn't a very positive-sounding word until after things have tanked or crashed.

It's cold!

The Bertrand Russell Society.

There's a famous story about an exchange between the Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes (the story is often told with the parts improbably played by William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli). In a typical version, Wilkes or Gladstone exclaims:

Egad sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox.
Sandwich or Disraeli replies smoothly:
That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress.

Disraeli despised Gladstone, and he as much as wished him dead in his famous definition of tragedy. Gladstone almost certainly had no mistress in the modern sense of that word, although he did pick up prostitutes (talked at 'em, tried to save their mortal souls). But Disraeli would not have made such an extreme comment. Disraeli probably despised Gladstone not for having bad principles as such, but for too many and impractical ones. He probably said as much somewhere. Disraeli reserved his most unfair criticisms for his novels, romans à clef.

You may be wondering if there is some reason why I have put here in a Russell-related entry all this stuff about an alleged conversation that probably didn't even take place between Wilkes and Sandwich. There is indeed.

Buried Ridge Structure. Sounds like geology, but it's actually a shape of laser diode. Cf. BMS.

Balasore (India) Rocket Launching Station.

Emden's Biographical Register of the University of Oxford.

British Rail Universal Trolley Equipment.

Vocative form of the Latin name Brutus. Nothing unusual here: though most Latin nouns have vocative forms identical with nominative forms, second-declension nouns ending in -us are a large exception. If they end in -us, but not -ius, then they have singular vocatives on the pattern of Brutus/Brute. (The e is not silent, I hope it is superfluous to add.) If they end in -ius, then they follow the pattern of filius/fili (`son'/`O son').

The examples of ``[s]econd-declension nouns ending in -us,'' given above are both male. This isn't accidental; almost all second-declension nouns ending in -us are male. There are, as there will be, a few exceptions. One exception is domus (`house, home'), which is a fourth-declension female noun that sometimes takes second-declension endings. The only other native exceptions (as opposed to Greek loans) seem to be trees: fragus, fraxinus, pinus (`beech, ash, pine').

Brute is an evocative vocative, on account of Julius Caesar's alleged words as he was murdered. Among the conspirators was ``gentle Brutus'' (in the oxymoronic epithet of the bard), whom Caesar, who had no recognized son of his own, had regarded as a son. [In fact, there were rumors that Brutus was really Caesar's illegitimate son. Brutus was remembered in Julius Caesar's will, and Marc Antony (I mean Marcus Antonius, not the singer) scored tellingly against Brutus by revealing this in his funeral oration for Caesar. It has also been speculated that a shift in Caesar's sentiments, away from Brutus in favor of his nephew Octavius, helped sway Brutus to join the conspirators.]

The short version of the last-words story goes that as Julius Caesar fell, he said, ``Even you, Brutus!'' But of course he didn't say anything in English. In fact, in the history of Cassius Dio he says nothing at all, just grunts. For someone with 23 stab wounds, this is pretty plausible. (Even if only one, according to examining physician Antistius -- hi, Antisti! -- was fatal.) In Act III, Sc. i of the play ``Julius Caesar,'' Shakespeare has Caesar say, ``Et tu, Brute.'' This means the same thing in Latin as the English quote above, allowing for the fact that et, usually a conjunction meaning `and,' clearly expresses the idea of `even' here. But Caesar didn't speak this Latin either.

According to Suetonius (Divus Iulius 82.3), he spoke in Greek -- ``Kai su, teknon.'' Now, on its face, this should be translated as something like `And you, boy.' The use of Greek and the age-inappropriate teknon have been a puzzle for much of the last two millennia, but not enough of a puzzle to prevent people from generally assuming that it meant what Shakespeare rendered in his Latin.

That interpretation has changed due to an enormously influential paper by James Russell entitled ``Julius Caesar's last words; a reinterpretation.'' [This was published in Vindex humanitatis: Essays in honour of John Huntly Bishop, ed. B. Marshall, (Armidale, N.S.W., Australia: Univ. of New England, 1980), pp. 123-128.] Russell's main point was that ``kai su'' was a standard (Greek) apotropaic formula that would have been well known to educated Romans like Caesar and Brutus. In other words, Caesar was not expressing surprised dismay, but rather cursing Brutus and also insulting him by calling him ``boy'' (and possibly also lending sly support to that rumor that Brutus was Caesar's own son). Quite a performance for three last words.

Just as a sidenote here, I'd like to explain something about the careful scientific process by which we decide what information to place in this glossary. This entry, for Brute, is fairly typical. It was only created to keep the preceding entry company. (That one, for BRUTE, is here because BRUTE is an acronym.) The brutes would have looked a bit thin and lonely otherwise. The next question, given that there must be a Brute entry, is what to put in. Only the most important information, of course, but where to stop? The answer is, where we get stuck. We usually get stuck when we reach the point of having difficulty finding compact wording to explain one or more further topics. (In the case of this entry, the topics are the story of the legendary ancestor of Brutus who earned his line the cognomen Brutus and who defeated Tarquin; Shakespeare's poem ``The Rape of Lucretia'' about the signal event in that legend; the Kenny Rogers ballad ``Coward of the County'' in which Becky has the role of Lucretia and Tommy that of Brutus; the fact that the modern English word brute has a connotation of violence, associated with the word brutal, that was originally absent in the Latin word brutus; the survival of the original sense in the mathematical term ``brute force''; the fact that the earlier meaning has something to do with the Greek word baris; and the fact that I haven't had a chance to actually read J. Russell's paper, but I guess he got his ideas in part from what he learned over his many years' excavations at Anemurium in Isauria.) When we get stuck in this way, of course, we set the new entry aside ``to think about it'' for a couple of months or a couple of years. When we finally get back to it later, we can't remember what it was we were going to add to finish the entry, so the entry is effectively complete and we publish it.

German: `gross.' Used pretty much like the English word: as an adjective applied to weight and to monetary amounts, and as a noun (capitalized) implicitly referring to the same quantities. German, like English, almost always puts adjectives before the nouns they modify, but German, like English, allows an exception for brutto. E.g.: ``drei Euro brutto.'' Cf. netto, `net.'

BS, B.S.
Bachelor of Science. Cf. BSc.


BackSpace. (EBCDIC 22, ASCII 8 -- ^H.) Hey, notice how
^H is ASCII 8,
^I (HT) is ASCII 9,
^J (LF) is ASCII 10,
... hmmm.

Cf. DEL.

(Domain name code for) Bahamas. The gentilicial noun and adjective are Bahamian, where the second syllable is stressed and rhymes with came. Here's the World Factbook entry for it from the CIA.

Banded Signaling.

Base Station. For cellular, or at least wireless, communications systems. One can imagine other uses for the acronym. Cf. SS.

Beam Splitter. Laser spectroscopists' obligatory experimental set-up transparency has to include one, and it must always be designated by the abbreviation ``BS'' in order to save space. This is required by law.

Bible Studies. As it happens, the LC category code BS is for the Bible. Could this be a coincidence? Hardly. Now will you believe!?!

BS, B.S., b.s., B/S, b/s
Bill of Sale. A transfer of title; a legal instrument provided by the seller to the buyer.

Blown Save. Baseball scorecard abbreviation for what a relief pitcher doesn't want to do. SV.

Briggs and Stratton. A manufacturer of small motors for lawn mowers and similar equipment.

British Standard. A prefix on standards documents from the British Standards Institution (BSI).

BullShit. Usually metaphorical. You're thinking: ``Oh yeah -- it's a metaphor for anything that the fastidious won't touch, but that is nevertheless useful (as an inexpensive though low-grade fuel, say). Go (brownish) green!'' Oh, that's just BS, you weren't thinking that at all.

Butadiene-Styrene copolymer.

Bank Secrecy Act. A US law passed in 1970 and amended by the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001. As the name does not suggest, it is not a law to promote or enforce bank secrecy. Instead, it is a law created to vitiate foreign bank secrecy laws. It imposes record-keeping and reporting requirements intended to combat money-laundering and tax evasion. Its best-known feature is the requirement that banks file Form FinCEN 8300 to report currency transactions above $10,000. The report is called a ``Currency Transaction Report'' (CTR). I don't know if the word also belongs in the preceding sentence. If there is a distinction observed in language between the report and the form on which the report is made, then it doesn't and I'm surprised.

The Bibliographical Society of America, founded 1904. A constituent society of the ACLS since 1929. ACLS has an overview.

They excerpt an explanation of just what Bibliography is.

Birmingham Small Arms. A gun factory in the U.K. that used to manufacture motorcycles, as evidenced by the stacked rifles on earlier models. The favorite [sic] B.S.A. of JDH (not identified here). Hey, we serve all tastes.

Black Student Alliance. Generic description: A social and political organization founded in a traditionally white college sometime between 1968 and 1972.

Body Surface Area. The stuff of computer wet dreams.

Bombay Stock Exchange. I like that they didn't change the name to Mumbai Stock Exchange.

Boston Society of Architects.

Bovine Serum Albumin.

Boy Scouts of America. A more general `scouting' resource is this.


British School in Athens.

Business Software Alliance.

[dive flag]

British Sub-Aqua Club. An archive of BSAC NDC diving incident reports is maintained by Anthony Peacock.

Brazilian Society of Aesthetic Dentistry.

Basic Sequential Access Method.

British Society of Animal Science.

British Small Animal Veterinary Association. Awww... vermin.

Black Student Alliance at Yale.

Brain State in a Box. Name of a model. James A. Anderson, ``Neural models with cognitive implications,'' in D. LaBerge and S. J. Edwards (eds.): Basic Processes in Reading Perception and Comprehension (Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1977), pp. 27-90.

Sounds like a 3AM TV movie.

Bulgarian Society for British Studies. I just had to include this acronym. (This organization is either webhomeless as of this writing, January 2004, or its new address has not percolated into the major search engines.)

Babinet-Soleil Compensator. A compensator is a device in the beam path which can insert an adjustable phase shift (a delay, in effect). Also SBC.

BSc, B.Sc.
Bachelor of SCience. Commonwealth English alternative to BS. Particularly useful in the UK, where it can be distinguished from British Standard.

Base Station Controller. Higher up the hierarchy from base transceiver stations in a base station system (BSS) of mobile communication.

BiSynchronous Communications.

Byzantine Studies Conference. Not Byzantine in the pejorative sense of serpentinely bureaucratic or devious. The studies are of Byzantium, not like it. In 2001, the twenty-seventh annual BCS was at Notre Dame University, Nov. 8-11.

Barium Strontium Calcium Copper Oxide. A high-TC superconductor (HTSC). Typically Bi:2212 or Bi:2223. Pronounced ``bisco.'' I can't wait until they add sodium.

BSCCO-1212, BSCCO-2212, etc.
A particular Barium Strontium Calcium Copper Oxide. A high-TC superconductor (HTSC). See, for example Bi:2212.

Business School.

A group of fish is a school. A group of bees is a swarm.


Behavioral Self-Control Program for WINdows. Sold by MM, q.v.

Biological Sciences Curriculum Study.

Berkeley Software Distribution.

Berkeley Software Design, Inc..

Bachelor of Science in Engineering.

BackScattered Electrons. Primary electrons that, through one or a few close encounters with bulk ions, or through a larger number of scatterings off the screened ions, have turned around and exited the material scatterer with approximately the energy they had on entering.

Bombay Stock Exchange. Earlier name of the entity that now styles itself ``The Stock Exchange, Mumbai'' and continues to use BSE as its short name. For more on Bombay/Mumbai, see the Bollywood entry.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy. Mad cow disease. Hypothesized cause is prions, q.v. Related to scrapie in sheep and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) (and probably to kuru) in humans.

Cattle affected by BSE first appear alert but agitated, anxious and apprehensive. Later: abnormal posture, spastic and frenzied movements, clumsy gait, skin wounds caused by falls, wasting syndrome accompanied by normal appetite. Another cause of wasting syndrome in cows is hardware disease (more at cow magnet entry).

For more on mad cows, have a gander at ``The Official Mad Cow Disease Home Page'' or this long list of links or this other site.

The first major BSE event was the one that began in Spring 1996 involving British cattle. The UK government confirmed that a number of people who had consumed BSE-tainted beef later developed a variant form of CJD. The EU then imposed an embargo on the export of British beef, beef products, etc., that was not lifted until August 1999.

Bumiputera Stock Exchange. In Malaysia.

Black Sea Economic Cooperation (zone).

Back-scattered Scanning Electron Microscopy. Identical with ordinary SEM, with the exception that one images back-scattered electrons (BSE) instead of secondary electrons (SE). Back-scattered electron intensity generally increases with atomic number, so this BSE and SE can be used together to distinguish different phases. In EBL, alignment is usually carried out by imaging in BSEM mode, since SE intensity is dominated by electrons from the resist.

BSE detectors are typically solid-state scintillation counters, since the high-energy electrons can generate photons efficiently. BSE detects are sometimes segmented for a coarse-grain energy resolution that yields more compositional resolution.

British Society for Ethical Theory. I wonder how the acronym is pronounced.

Goethe had Mephistopheles say

Grau, teuer Freund, ist alle Theorie
Und grün des Lebens goldner Baum.
[All theory is gray, dear friend; / The golden tree of life is green.]

``We are called a British Society, not for chauvinist reasons, but simply because we want cheap and accessible conferences. We welcome foreign participation and membership.'' I never realized how simple it was! Henceforth, I will be called a ``British webmaster.''

Back Surface Field [solar cell].

Bit Scan Forward.

Bodine State Fish Hatchery. ``The [Richard Clay] Bodine State Fish Hatchery is a trout and salmon hatchery built [by the state of Indiana] specifically for the St. Joseph River Interstate Cooperative Salmonid Management Plan. The hatchery is located in Mishawaka on the north shore of the St. Joseph River less than two miles upstream from the Twin Branch Dam.''

Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service. See SFS.

BoroSilicate Glass. Vide PSG.

Brotherhood of Saint Gregory. A religious community of the Episcopal Church, founded in 1969. It seems to be a sort of Franciscan order, but really I wouldn't know.

British Society for the History of Science.

British Society for Immunology.

British Standards Institution.

Basic Skills Improvement Program. Now the qualifier in the name of various courses at my old high school (BSIP Math, BSIP Reading...). I guess it means remedial.


Below Sea Level.

Blackwell Science Ltd. Life Sciences and Medical, Chemical, Earth Science and Fishing News publishers.

British Sign Language.

BiStable Laser Diode.

Bob, Steve, Mark and George. Or maybe some other names. A PR firm.

Bodleian Senior Management Group.

The Bodleian Library is the famous old library at Oxford. To get in if you're not affiliated with the university, you have to apply at a local office full of supplicants. Oxford must do this to keep the tourists at bay, but they're very understanding and helpful if you seem to be a serious researcher. I am reminded that they make you promise aloud that you won't damage or steal the books. I forgot. Uh-oh.

Briggs Sports Management Group.

Broadcast Short-Message Service.

British Society for Music Therapy.

Batch Simple Message Transfer Protocol.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Boston Symphony Orchestra.

B12SiO20. Bismuth Silicon Oxide. A photoconductive electro-optic crystal.

Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies.

British Society for Phenomenology. Phenomenal! Or maybe not.

``Welcome to the web-pages of The British Society for Phenomenology. The BSP is an international independent academic society which seeks via its conferences and workshops to promote awareness of, study of and research into the European Phenomenological Tradition and its cognate arms of philosophy. Through its journal - the Journal of the British Society of Phenomenology - the Society champions publications and book reviews in the field of phenomenology, contemporary European Philosophy, social philosophy, aesthetics, hermeneutics, and other associated branches of philosophical research.''

``The BSP seeks to provide a friendly and supportive forum for inter-disciplinary discussion amongst those with broad philosophical interests.'' STOP RIGHT THERE!

``Supportive'' could be one of the filthiest words in scholarship. Scholars should attack each others' work in a friendly way. That people who can think tolerate the airy effusions that others call philosophy is one of the main reasons why that ``discipline'' does neither attain consciousness nor yet die.

British Standard Pipe.

BromoSulfoPhthalein. Also sulfobromophthalein.


Byte Stream Protocol.

British Standard Pipe, Parallel.

British Standard Pipe, Tapered.

A concatenated sequence of Bézier curves.

Back Surface Reflection (in solar cells).

Bit Scan Reverse.

Brain Simulation Reward. Electrode implanted in brain. Think Skinner Box.

The British School at Rome. (Accademia Britannica di Archeologia, Storia e Belle Arti, `British Academy of Archaeology, History, and Fine Arts.')

On page 163 of his autobiographical or fictional I Lost My English Accent (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1939), C.V.R. Thompson wrote:

History, like garlic, repeats itself.

I'm surprised that this seems not to be hackneyed.

The British Society of Rheology.

Bureau of Standards Review.

Business for Social Responsibility.

Business Systems Resources, Inc.

Battlefield Short-Range Ballistic Missile. Range up to 150 km. Shoot yourself in the foot. Cf. SRBM.

Basic System Reference Frequency.

Base Station System. A mobile system using base transceiver stations (BTS's) and base station controllers (BSC's).

Basic Service Set.

Broadband Switched System.

Broadcast Satellite Service.

Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. A publication of the SSA. (No wait -- don't tell me! I think that's, that's....)

``Biological Sciences Study Committee''? Nonesuch. You're thinking of BSCS and conflating it with PSSC (Physical Science Study Committee). At least I was.

British Ski and Snowboard Federation.

Burst Synchronous SRAM.

Battery STatus.

Bovine SomatoTropin. A milk-stimulating drug that occurs naturally in cows and is also given to lactating cows to stimulate production.

British Summer Time. One hour ahead of ``GMT.''

I got sunburned in London in July 1990.

An intermediate stage of thermosetting, characterized primarily by the fact that the material will still soften when heated.

Bell System Technical Journal.

Ball State University. Teams name: ``Cardinals.'' (Not to be confused with the Stanford teams name, ``The Cardinal.'')

Ball State is in Muncie, Indiana. When the Lynds published their landmark sociological study of a typical small midwestern city, they called it ``Middletown.''

Boise State University. Boise is the capital of Idaho. Many BSU web pages go so far as to describe it as a metropolitan area, but it appears that none call Boise a metropolis.

Broadcast Switched Virtual Connections.

Bachelor of Social Work. It sounds less like a degree than personal problem.

A young woman I know is moving to Atlanta this winter to pursue a BSW at Georgia State. I asked her how she chose social work as a career, and she explained that her high school (South Bend's Washington High School) has an extensive pre-nursing program (``not just candy-striping''), and that while she was in that she realized that she couldn't bear the stench.

I never asked her why she left the army. For information of equally general applicability, but concerning the engineering professions, see the Chas. entry.

Beacon Transmitter.


Beta Test. Should move from that stage to GR (general release).

(Domain code for) Bhutan. The King, an absolute ruler, is trying to drag his country forward into the twentieth, or possibly even the nineteenth century, instituting little bits of democracy that alarm many of his loyal subjects. Bhutan serves as a unwilling base of operations for secessionist guerillas fighting in the Indian state of Assam.

More about Bhutan, or not, at ABPT entry.

But seriously folks, the New York Times reported that the King, who is a great fan of soccer, gave up playing goalie when he realized that none of his subjects would dare try to put a goal past him. He loves soccer so much that he allowed TV into the country for the world cup.

Bismaleimide Triazine. A common material for microelectronic-chip carriers.

British Telecommunications Plc. From 1996 to 1998 they had major cooperative agreements, and a 20% stake, in MCI.

[Dataflow] Burst Tolerance.


British Toilet Association. ``Our mission is to represent the interests and aspirations of 'away from home' toilet providers, suppliers and users of all types and to act as the catalyst for change in the pursuit of standards of excellence in all areas of public toilet provision and management.''

See also The Theatre of Small Convenience.

Business & Technology Alliance.

Bus-Termination Array. Here's a page from TI.

But Then Again. Email usage.

Begin TAG.

Basic Telecommunication Access Method (IBM SNA).

Batman: The Animated Series.

Basaltic Termite Barrier.

BromThymol Blue. Using this acronym neatly saves you from having to take a position in the maybe-not-so-great `bromthymol' vs. `bromOthymol' debate.


Band-To-Band Tunneling. Homogeneous material in high fields, or a pn junction with a strong reverse bias (particularly if junction doping is strong) can lead to direct transfer of electrons from filled valence band states to empty states in the conduction band, or recombination of conduction band (CB) electrons with holes in the valence band (VB). In a highly doped diode, this is the operating mechanism for an Esaki tunnel diode.

Block Truncation Coding. An image coding scheme that is an awful lot like Kadanoff's block renormalization scheme, applied to pixels. By storing not only the mean but the standard deviation, it is possible to preserve degree of sharpness, although edge reconstruction may be ragged. Introduced by E. J. Delp and O. R. Mitchell, ``Image compression using block truncation coding,'' IEEE Trans. Commun., 27 (9), pp. 1335-42 (1979). A quick overview of work to 1989 is Jennifer U. Roy, Nasser M. Nasrabadi, Optical Engineering, 30 (5), 551-6 (May 1991), which introduces a generalization, HBTC, that uses quadtree segmentation to adjust the scale of region to which BTC is applied, allowing a lower bit rate to be used.

bTDC, BTDC, btdc
Before Top Dead Center. See TDC.

Been There, Done That.

Boltzmann Transport Equation. Also BE. A variety of different transport equations for the motion of massive particles. The ``Boltzmann equation'' used for semiconductors is known as the BGK equation by fluid dynamicists. A pedagogically excellent treatment of transport equations is given in ``Balescu.'' What BTE's generally have in common is that they are classical equations that incorporate the effects of scattering on the motion of otherwise free particles.

The first famous Boltzmann Equation was written, oddly enough, by Ludwig Boltzmann himself. It took explicit account of particle-particle scattering, and with it Boltzmann proved his famous H-theorem, that there was a quantity whose time evolution was monotonic (on average). This was quite important at the time because it convinced many skeptics of the second law of thermodynamics.

Broadband Terminal Equipment.

Benefit Trust Fund.

Bachelor of THeology. Sounds like the ideal degree for a celibate clergy!

Brown TiN. TiN with relatively low density, obtained by sputter deposition under no bias. Reported by N. Kumar, J. T. McGinn, K. Pourrezaei, B. Lee, and E. C. Douglas, Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology A, vol. 6, p. 1602 (1988).

See TiN entry.

Bind, Torture, Kill. The initialism used by a sick animal linked to a number of unsolved murders in the Wichita area. From 1974 to 1978, BTK apparently murdered seven people, and taunted police in letters to news organizations. Then the letters stopped until March 2004, when he recrudesced with a letter to the Wichita Eagle claiming responsibility for a murder in 1986. The letter included a copy of the victim's driver's license and photos of her slain body. Cell samples from the suspect's daughter provided a positive DNA match, and the suspect was arrested on February 25, 2005. By that time, BTK was suspected in at least ten killings. The last of those was committed in 1991, and the capital punishment was not reinstituted in Kansas until 1994, so if convicted, he will not be eligible for the death penalty.

Backplane Transceiver Logic. Spec: IEEE 1194.1-1991.


Bibliotheca Teubneriana Latina. The Teubner Latin Library on CD. BTL1 came out in early 1999. The updated CD distributed starting in mid-2002 (BTL2) contains over 600 works from almost 300 authors, providing access to all the Latin texts of antiquity from the beginning until the end of the second century A.D., at a price. BTL3, not yet available in late 2004, extends the coverage forward in time to the end of the fifth century, and a total of over 700 texts.

Ulrich Schmitzer's review of BTL2 for Gymnasium (in German) is available on line.

Broadband Transport Manager. For the long-distance part of a phone communication.

Bachman Turner Overdrive. Pure synchro. This wasn't named after an existing vehicle feature. In a radio interview I heard back in 1981 or 1982, a band member explained that someone just came up with the name, and it sounded cool, so they used it. If this is acceptable for anyone, it certainly must be acceptable for musicians. For another example of puzzling wording that simply reflects a musician's personal relationship with his mouth and the feel of its sounds passing through, see the octane-number entry.

British Trust for Ornithology. A bird-ringing organization.

Battery Trip Point. In ACPI, the value of Battery Remaining Capacity (in mAh or mWh), the crossing of which triggers a notification. it is reliably reported that operating systems prefer units of ``power'' (i.e., energy, in mWh). Since battery voltage is about constant under moderate load, until the battery is seriously discharged, measuring battery capacity in terms of charge (i.e., time-integrated current, units of mAh) or energy is approximately equivalent.

British Transport Police.

Base Transceiver Station. Sort of an end office for a mobile communications system (BSS).

Bit Test and Set.

Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment. ``BTSA is Induction!

In accordance with Education Code section 44259(c), induction programs may be offered by school districts, county offices of education, and/or institutions of higher education. Section 44279.2(c)of the Education Code allows local education agencies to apply for and receive state funding to support induction programs through the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment System, a program that is administered jointly by the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC).''

B.T.U., BTU, Btu
British Thermal Unit. 1055 Joules. Thus, aitchbar is very accurately
10-37 BTU-sec.
Nice, easy-to-remember, handy unit. Okay, not always especially handy.

The BTU was originally defined as the energy needed to raise the temperature of a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit (from 58.5°F to 59.5°F, at a pressure of one atmosphere). One watt is 3.413 BTU/hr.

Before Tee Vee.

What did people do with themselves? It's impossible to imagine.

BTW, btw
By The Way.

BTW, that's the motto of this glossary.

Baylor University. Their teams are called the Bears or the Lady Bears.

Binghamton University. Long ago, and possibly still, the more common name has been ``SUNY Binghamton.'' The new name makes it sound more like a private school. That's probably not unintentional, but there seems to be more to it than that, as explained at the SUNY entry. State support for the SUNY system declined over time, and some time in the 1990's people started to emphasize the distinction between ``state-supported,'' which the four flagship universities of the SUNY system had been, and merely ``state-assisted,'' which they were becoming. So the distinction between private and public university is in a certain respect a matter of degree. (SUNY's ``flagship university centers'' are UB, BU, Stony Brook, and Albany. UB regards itself as ``the flagship'' school of the system, largely because it offers the broadest range of fields of study.)

Bodansky Unit[s].

Boston University. 'Couple friends of mine went there, but I never knew that ``[i]t is the third-largest independent institution of higher education in the United States.''


BUtyl. Alternatively (using the older terminology): BUtyric.

Big Ugly ASCII Graphic.

A velocity unit equal to 1 millimeter per millenium. It's got a ring to it, doesn't it? According to the Dictionary of the Physical Sciences: Terms, Formulas, Data, compiled by Cesare Emiliani (NY, Oxford: Ox. U.P., 1987), it ``is used for tectonic movements and deep-sea sedimentation rates.'' Not so much any more, it seems. More typically, people write m/Ma and may mention that these are ``Bubnoff units.'' I think this refers to one S. von Bubnoff.

Buckingham's II Theorem
(The ``II'' represents a capital Greek letter pi, okay?)

Let a1, a2, ... an, be n independent quantities measurable in terms of m independent dimensions or units. The theorem states that if f(a1, a2, ... an) = 0 has a solution (i.e., if f has a root), then that solution is of the form F(b1, b2, ... bn-m) = 0, where the {b} are independent, dimensionless products of the {a}. It's the fundamental theorem justifying dimensional analysis, but most people just use dimensional analysis when, by hook or crook, n = m.

(The name, II [Pi] Theorem, apparently comes from the fact that the {b} were written with that character to indicate that they represented products.)

Hey, wasn't Buckingham the guy who came up with the theme for Friends? Oops, my bad: the Friends theme song, ``I'll Be There For You,'' was performed by the Rembrandts. I was thinking of the Buckinghams, who had five Top-40 hits in 1967. ``Kind Of A Drag'' was probably their greatest hit, and hit #1 that year. It wouldn't be a bad title for a text book of aerodynamics. Aerodynamics makes extensive use of dimensional analysis.

bucket truck
The kind linemen use. In New York, you need a special license to operate one.

Better known as fullerene. Individual fullerene molecules are also called bucky-balls. The molecule consists of sixty carbons (C60) bonded into a soccer ball form, with a carbon atom at each vertex of that Aristotelian solid. The class of large molecules related to buckminsterfullerene is called fullerenes (but the singular seems to be reserved for the original buckminsterfullerene). The name honors R. Buckminster Fuller, a very unconventional designer and architect who championed geodesic domes.

Illustration below is mirrored from http://wuarchive.wustl.edu/multimedia/images/gif/b/bball.gif.


Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology.

American bison. Not technically a ``buffalo,'' although on this matter of terminology and usage, one may be as sceptical as Melville was, of the silly news that the whale was not a fish. Some pictures are available from the Smithsonian's collection:
too close.

When two buffalo fight, it is the grass that gets hurt.

[Football icon]

Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo NFL franchise. This is another of the many instances that occur in sports of funny grammatical-number issues arising from team names. It is common in English to form a proper noun by application of the definite article to a plural noun (e.g., the New York Jets, the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys, the Miami Dolphins...). The definite article itself has an unusual presence: it is part of the name, though typically uncapitalized -- it would be an affectation of informality to exclude the article and say ``New York Giants are in town for tomorrow's game.'' That sounds like ``New York giants,'' which could be the New York Knicks instead.

Occasionally a team name is constructed from a definitized singular, as in ``the Stanford [Univ.] Cardinal,'' although this singularity is often forgotten. This works better with uncountable nouns, as in `the Nashville Sound'' or ``the Utah Jazz.'' And in case you're wondering: yes, the Jazz was originally a New Orleans team. In the early days of the National League, Buffalo had a team; Buffalo once had a basketball team as well. Alas, the vicissitudes of time.

Editorial Health Advisory: this entry contains pointlessly odd formatting.

Anyway, the Buffalo Bills are the only team in American pro football (NFL) with a name that is constructed from another proper noun. ``Buffalo Bill'' was the nickname of William Frederick Cody. He was not from Buffalo, but he killed some as a frontier scout, and in 1883 he started a ``Wild West Show'' that toured the US and Europe. This was a popular show, with spin-offs and tie-ins, and even though Buffalo Bill himself died in 1917, you could still join a young boys' adventurers' club and get a Cody decoder ring if you order now as recently as the 1960's. I think so, anyway. You get old your memory starts to fail and you start going off on random tangents. In It's a Wonderful Life a young George Bailey tells a young Mary Hatch about being an explorer and reading National Geographic. No ring, but then George was always the literary type. Some years later, George Bailey's father tells him that he was ``born older'' than his brother. If I was born older that would go a long way to explaining my literary style [called ``Krimanian Discursive Geometry'' by Steve Bishop, who did photospectroscopy before he got into the research lab director racket]. Eventually, George tells his dad that he loves him, or that he's a swell guy or something, which is probably about as close as you could get to saying something like that in a movie in the days of the Hayes office anyway. (The possible team name ``the Hayes Office Days'' is not taken yet.) Amazing but true, there were things that Frank Capra left out of the movie to

keep it from being too corny,

like having George get down on his knees and recite the Lord's prayer at the end of the movie.
(That was in the script at one point.) From her listening post behind the door, the maid declares that it was about time that one of the two lunk-heads expressed affection (I paraphrase). That night, George goes to his brother's high school senior prom, where he dances with Buckwheat's date, Donna Reed, who is playing the older Mary Hatch, who at that point of the movie is younger than actress Donna Reed. This is a bit unusual. Usually, actresses are cast older than their actual age, like Phylicia Rashad as Mrs. Huxtable, or Mrs. Robinson, the `older woman lover' of Benjamin Braddock (played by Anne Bancroft, and Dustin Hoffman, 36 and 30 years old at the time, respectively, but she got some make-up aging) in ``The Graduate'' (1967). Barry Williams, the actor who played Greg Brady on the original Brady Bunch series, briefly dated Florence Henderson, who played his mom on the show. More about Mrs. Robinson and these issues at the entry for the Car Door Slam Method.

But the main thing about age is that you get old your memory starts to fail and you start going off on random tangents. I think I mention that elsewhere in this reference work. It's good to have a reference work where I can discard used thoughts, since I don't know if I'll ever remember where I put them, because when you get old your memory starts to go. George Bailey's father has a fatal heart attack that night, and four years later, as he is about to leave town and do some exploring, George finally gets a ring, but he gives it to Mary Hatch and they get married. Rap! ... Rap-Rap! Uh-oh, e. e. cummings is paging me from the other side.

Back before I was a kid, mothers would get their sons National Geographic so they wouldn't steal their dads' Playboy magazines. A sort of homeopathic browsing prescription. (Update here.) George Bailey probably would have read the accompanying text as well, but in any case, the movie is set (and was made) in a time before Playboy. Sex itself was only invented in 1953, and at first it was available only by prescription. (Phillip Larkin had an alternate opinion.)

You know, if you came here for information about Wild Bill Hikock, you're probably wondering why so few pages turned up on your internet search, forcing you to visit us as a last resort. The reason is that his last name is spelled Hickok. But Wild Bill Hickok was somebody other than Buffalo Bill. He wasn't even a William.

Of course, you probably didn't come here to learn all of that. You wanted to find out about the Bills per

se, rather than about the linguistic and historical significance of their name,

let alone the other stuff. You should have visited

this fan's page.

Buffalo Bisons
The major-league baseball team of Buffalo, 1879-1885. Part of the National League (1876-present).

Buffalo Black
I think it's a chemical, maybe a pH indicator like BTB. Black Buffalo (``Buffalo, Black'') is a fish.

[Football icon]

Buffalo Jills
The official cheerleading squad for the Bills NFL football franchise. In 1994, the Jills made labor history when they voted overwhelmingly to become the first NFL cheerleading squad to unionize. The sponsor at the time, Mighty Taco of Amherst NY, withdrew its support. On July 13, 1995, just two weeks before preseason began, the Bills (helmet image here mirrors http://wuarchive.wustl.edu/multimedia/images/gif/b/bill1.gif) announced new joint sponsorship, by Bradford Travel Service, a travel agency, and Pure Tech, an electrical contractor, both of Bradford, Pa. IBEW Local 41 represents employees of both companies, and that month the Buffalo Jills voted to disband the NFLC and join the IBEW.

There's something called the Universal Cheerleaders Association, but they're not a union. They are ``the largest organizer and producer of cheerleading camps, regional and national competitions, and summer conferences in the United States.''

Some surfers who browse here are not interested in NFL cheerleader labor relations, despite the interesting questions raised about trade versus industrial unionizing and how that would affect struck games. Instead, a small number of our visitors are interested in alright! alright already! pictures of cheerleaders. Here's a site that has what you came here for. That site does not have Buffalo Jills pictures at this writing, so you might try some individual admirers' sites like Paul Kiister's. and the Unofficial Buffalo Bills Home Page.

Buffalo, New
New Buffalo is in Berrien County, Michigan. On the Galien River near Lake Michigan. According to this useful document, there are toilets there.

Buffalo, New York
When the first modern polyphase power station went on line in 1895 at Niagara Falls, the first customer was the Pittsburgh Reduction Company, which later became ALCOA. The company used the power to produce aluminum by the Hall electrolytic process. Buffalo soon became the largest electrochemical center in the world. Later, nearby Amherst achieved the distinction of hosting the alpha chapter of the SBF.

There is a Buffalo Official Online Guide.

There's also a page constructed with the desultory assistance of usacitylink, which demonstrates the awesome power and utility of the internet by giving you the current time and date in Buffalo.

buffalo wangs
Sands lack one o'tham Suthun foods. Great with mountain oysters. Hard to beat.

buffalo wings
I suppose pigs are next.

Buffalo wings
Spicy-hot chicken wings and legs, in the style that is traditional in the Buffalo (NY) area. Buffalo wings are basically fried chicken dipped/steeped/heated in hot sauce. The better places give you extra sauce to dip in to make them spicier. You must eat them with your hands. (The sauce is not runny; it's a non-Newtonian fluid. It's thicker than tabasco and thinner than ketchup.) Licking your fingers afterwards is optional but highly recommended. Typically served with celery sticks (and maybe carrot sticks) to be dipped in a cream sauce. Some people dip the celery in the hot sauce or the wings into the cream. It takes all kinds.

The hottest and best wings near UB are found at Duff's, on the SE corner of S...I-can't-believe-I-forgot-the-name and Millersport, about a mile south of the hotel cluster near the North campus. Sheridan and Millersport. Open for lunch. Like good Texas chili, the strongest stuff makes your forehead sweat and your ears tingle. Across Millersport from Tandoori Kitchen, where the chicken vindaloo is not as hot.

The other local food is beef on weck. That's roast beef on a Kaiser roll. ``Weck'' is short for Kümelweck, a German variety of cumin that is used to flavor the rolls. Good with mustard, spiral fries garnished with vinegar, and beer. Especially beer.

Among the ``southtowns'' (towns south of Buffalo or south of the main East-West rail lines) is a town named Hamburg since 1812. Hamburg is one of the places that claims to be the home of the American Hamburger (sold during a world fair ca. 1903). They have a water tower with a tank that from time to time has been painted to look very convincingly like a juicy hamburger on a bun. On April 21, 2003, PETA sent a fax to the town offering to supply $15,000 worth of mutilated plant matter to feed the cattle in area schools (not PETA's wording) if only the town would change its name to Veggieburg. PETA spokesman Joe Haptas claimed that the publicity ploy was ``serious as a heart attack.'' I don't much doubt it. I do doubt that $15,000 would even cover the costs of changing the signage and stationery, or the revenue that would probably be lost from the town's annual Burgerfest. Hamburg town supervisor Patrick Hoak's (nudge) response: ``We're proud of our name and proud of our heritage.''

What I want is for neighboring towns to change their names, to ``Mayo,'' etc. There's also a Hamburg in Germany (see HH).

buffered HF
BUFFERED (aqueous solution of) HydroFluoric acid. See BOE.

On Tuesday evening, April 20, 2004, a couple following the Atkins diet was forced to leave the Chuck-A-Rama in Taylorsville, a suburb of Salt Lake City. On the Atkins diet, you have to avoid carbohydrates but you can eat protein and fat. (Somewhere in there I think it may say that if you eat a LOT of fat and protein, you won't lose weight, but anyway....) When Mr. Amaama went up for his twelfth (12th, dozenth) slice of roast beef, the general manager asked him to stop. The manager was concerned that he wouldn't have enough for other patrons. Okay, so that's the background. Get set for the learning portion of the entry!

The couple said that they were under the ``impression [that] Chuck-A-Rama was an all-you-can-eat establishment'' and demanded a refund. The manager refused and called the police when they refused to leave. Jack Johanson, the chain's district manager, explained that buffet is not a synonym of all-you-can-eat: ``We've never claimed to be an all-you-can-eat establishment, our understanding is a buffet is just a style of eating.''

There you have it: if you're on an all-you-can-eat type of diet, then a buffet restaurant may not cut it.

Incidentally, not long after this incident, I ate at an Iron Skillet somewhere along the Ohio Turnpike. They had an ``All-You-Can-Eat Buffet.'' I was careful to observe that the menu did not use quotation marks around any part of the overweight compound noun I quoted in the preceding sentence. The qualifier that Iron Skillet uses suggests that the unqualified term ``buffet'' does indeed just describe a ``style of eating.'' (More eating than style, though.) The Iron Skillet restaurants I've seen cater to truckers, and many are open 24/7. All-You-Can-Eat and 24/7 sounds like a recipe for occasional disaster to me.

bug juice
What we used to call any sweet powder drink in summer camp; what it became if left outside uncovered.

The name, or an element in the names, of various plants. The word is borrowed via French from the Greek boúglôssos, `ox tongue' [< boûs `ox' + glôssa `tongue']. ``Ox tongue'' describes the shape and roughness of the leaves of plants so-called.

Singular bugloss and plural buglosses grow in the Scrabble tablelands. That's where I found it.

BUsiness InformationLink Technology. Part of the name of BUILT Informationstechnologie AG. This is what you might call a Akronym-assistierte AAP pleonasmus.

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, The
They eschew the adoption of an acronym. ``BotAS'' would make a good one.

Black Unaccountable Machine. Tony Brown's acronym for current US Black Civil-Rights leadership. He feels that its liberal positions and policies are self-serving, and bad news for the majority of black people, but I guess you could figure that out from the name he gave it [in Black Lies, White Lies (Morrow, 1995)].

In a little book of quotations of Charles Barkley, compiled from press clippings and published when he was still playing for the Phoenix Suns, he recalls a conversation with his family. They criticize him for voting Republican -- the party of millionaires, but he protests that ``I am a millionaire.'' Money talks.

When Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1964, he observed that he had signed away the Democratic party's strength in the South for the rest of his life. If the civil rights movement had been even more effective he might have lost the Democratic party's strength in the Black community. Abraham Lincoln and the radical Republicans (how oddly that phrase rings today!) won the Black vote for many decades after the Civil War; the broad loyalty of African Americans to the Democratic party dates from the administrations of FDR. Jack Kemp, former quarterback (QB) for the Buffalo Bills, appeared for a while to be the only prominent member of the Republican party seriously interested in bringing blacks back into the party.

B.U.M. Equipment
A trendyish brand of casual self-advertising clothes. The B.U.M. Lore page purports to attempt to discover the origins of this name in the dark dawn mists of primeval time.

BUM Fodder.

Blood Urea Nitrogen. Elevated levels a possible early indication of kidney damage.

Bündnis 90
German `Alliance 90.' An alliance of civic movements of the GDR and then of the former GDR: Demokratie Jetzt, Initiative für Frieden und Menschenrechte, and Neues Forum. In 1993, Bündnis 90 joined the Green Party.

In an interview with Charles N. Wheeler that appeared in the May 25, 1916 issue of the Chicago Tribune, Henry Ford made this famous comment:
History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker's damn is the history we make today.

buoyancy, positive
Last Sunday, Gary and Susan bought some furniture, so I was over to help move stuff out of the living room (LR) to make space. There was this light-colored unit that the TV used to sit on, and that held a lot of video tapes. In order to lighten the load when we moved it, we started taking the tapes out. It was getting pretty light. Now, I want you to understand, its mass was still positive. We weren't infracting any important physical laws. Its mass was definitely positive, positive definite. But it was lighter. David was playing on top, so when the tapes were out we just let him sit and went to move stuff in another room. While we were gone, David got off, and when we came back, the unit had floated up and was sliding along the slanted ceiling. The vacuum cleaner was handy, but we couldn't bump or suction it down, and before we could get a ladder (they have a high ceiling, especially in the LR) the thing had fallen up into the skylight and crashed through. Pretty soon, we lost sight of it in the clouds, although a loose pencil rolled out of the inside and bounced off the roof into the driveway. (I'm pretty sure that's how it got there. I mean, how else could a pencil wind up on a driveway?) At least they didn't lose any tapes, but obviously they were denser anyway.

Some people I've told about this have expressed skepticism. They say it couldn't have happened. Look: before you jump to conclusions, let me point out that it was a pretty humid day, like maybe 2000%. The air was way heavy. It was just one of those days when relatively light wooden objects might weigh less than the air they displace. It's the reason trees have roots. Light things rise from the depths, if they're really light; Alicia Silverstone has explained this rather succinctly in an oceanographic context. Still don't believe me? Some people are pretty stubborn. You know, there's probably a physical law that says if you saw it happen with your own eyes, then it happened. Now do you believe me? Sheesh. Wait a sec, I'll put Gary on the keyboard:

Yeah, like Al said. Good thing the skylight was insured. But, did I ever tell you how I got that piece? No? It's a pretty interesting story, I -- Uh Gary, Gary? -- same piece at Menards, but $40 more, so -- Gary, I don't think they care how -- make a deal, but I said ``Look -- Gary, gimme the keyboard! -- Al, they probably want to know where they could get a good deal on a TV table, don't-- legGO! It's MY computer! --MY modem. Now where was but I'm the glossary guy! What, this is the glossary? I thought it was live.

Well, you heard it folks, broke through the skylight, just like I said.

This is probably as good a place as any to mention George Carlin's explanation of Frisbeetarianism -- ``the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck.''

Don't laugh -- it's a religion: you're supposed to respect!

      And so everyone present begged the architect to tell them how the weight of the wood could be scientifically and reliably measured against that of water; and he explained the matter succinctly and clearly, in such a way that it was understood by all except the philosophers. He was in fact constrained to repeat the explanation a second and a third time; and finally, with great difficulty, they managed to understand it.

      ``It is quite true,'' said the architect, ``what most people say of them--that they possess nothing but the false conceit of knowledge. For it has been proved that in areas where knowledge is difficult they understand nothing; in areas where it is easy, they merely pretend to know.''

The Affections and Errors of the Soul
tr. P. N. Singer

The British United Provident Association. Formed by the merger in 1947 of 17 British provident associations. A ``provident association'' is a kind of private nonprofit. ``Over fifty years later, BUPA is still the UK's leading independent health and care organisation.''

Buppy Ah Oo!
Famous line from that sixties rock classic, ``Lightning Is Striking Aga-ain!'' The more intelligible lyrics are pretty embarrassing as well.

Book Under Review.

Bottum-Up Review.

Coming back to this entry years later, I don't know if that was a spelling error or a joke. Certainly bottom-up review is the sort of term that could be entertainingly misunderstood, but not so much this way. Joseph Bottum is the Books and Arts editor for The Weekly Standard and does other reviewish things like hosting ``Book Talk,'' a syndicated radio show.

I'm reminded of Dante's journey in the Divine Comedy, as Virgil carries him on his back out of the Inferno. At the center of the earth, with great effort, Virgil turns around to be upright again on the other side (they're ``headed'' for the antipode along the most direct route). When Dante looks down again he sees the feet of the devil sticking ``up.''

[In Dante's time there was still a great uninformed debate going on about whether gravity increased or diminished as one approached the center of the Earth (and the universe as then understood, of course). ``Dante's time'' was 1265-1321. Even back at the beginning of the Christian era, there had been few among the educated who thought that the Earth was flat; by the time Columbus proposed to sail west to reach the Indies, no one seriously suggested that he would fall off an edge of the Earth. It was correctly thought that westward was far the longer way around.]

The suBURBS. With picturesque burbling storm sewers.

Government by the bureau. Bureau here is a metonym twice over, as you can infer from the burl entry.

The following is widely attributed, on the internet, to Mary McCarthy:

Bureaucracy, the rule of no one, has become the modern form of despotism.

The line first appeared in The New Yorker, on page 186 of the issue of October 18, 1958. (You might want to note that information in detail; the magazine is available in many on-line databases, but none of them go back much before the 1990's. The printed magazine has no table of contents, and the article authors are listed at the ends of the articles. And if your library is my library, then this issue is in a volume that didn't make it into the electronic catalog.)

The quote is from McCarthy's rave review (pp. 182-189) of a book with the not especially imaginative title of The Human Condition (Univ. of Chicago Pr., 1958). The book is by Hannah Arendt, whom McCarthy does not happen to identify there as a good friend of hers. This is one of those teachy reviews in which it's not always clear what part is about the book and what part is about the reviewer's reaction to the book. In the pages preceding the quote, McCarthy went on about the difference between work and labor (craftsmanship and drudgery, essentially). These are important terms, along with ``action,'' that are discussed in Arendt's book. The relevant paragraph, however, concerns an ancient-modern comparison which ``is not in fact made in her book'' and which frankly doesn't seem to have a great deal to do with it either. Here's immediate context for the quote:

Progress has effected not a steady march but a bewildering transformation. The supplanting of tools by machinery has reached its logical conclusion in automation; the discoveries of physics and chemistry have interfered with the life process (artificial insemination) and with inanimate nature, while the vast growth of the social [sic], steadily encroaching on both private and public life, has produced the eerie phenomenon of mass society, which rules everybody anonymously, just as bureaucracy, the rule of no one, has become the modern form of despotism.

burger vector
Direction to the nearest McDonald's.

Burger's vector
An indication of the presence of a dislocation. Essentially, it is minus the line integral of the ideal crystal position vector over a path in a real crystal: Following a ``Burger's circuit'' -- a closed chain of bonds connecting adjacent atoms -- one constructs a sum of lattice vectors corresponding to the same set of bonds in an ideal lattice. Point defects, which cause a local deformation of the positions of the atoms, do not change the lattice topology and lead to a zero Burger's vector. A pure edge dislocation produces a Burger's vector perpendicular to the dislocation in any Burger's circuit that encloses it. A screw dislocation produces a Burger's vector parallel to the screw axis.

To finish cloth by removing lumps. From the Old French bourle, `tuft of wool.' Bureau, in its literal sense of `desk,' was originally a metonymic use of a related French word for the wool cloth used to cover a desk. Thus, bureau used in the sense of `office' is a metonym of a metonym. (The prior etymology is uncertain -- perhaps the terms originally referred specifically to brown cloth.) Burlap may be connected with these, or it may have a Dutch etymology.

Oh man, if I keep looking up etymologies I'm never going to memorize the OSPD4. How will I ever win games against Gary again when he practices against a computer and is faculty advisor to the Scrabble Club?! (Needless to say, burl, burls, burled, and burling are in SOWPODS and TWL2006 as well.)

Burmese names
This entry is about the names of Burmese people. For Burmese cats, you're on your own.

The first thing to know about Burmese people names is that Burmese people don't use family names. Okay, I guess this often applies to Burmese cats as well. Children simply receive given names at birth, and these names carry no geneological information other than that they are likely the children of Burmese parents. Then again, the child may be named after the parent. For example, well-known Aung San Suu Kyi was named after her father, the independence hero Aung San.

Traditionally, astrologers are consulted to help choose a success-oriented name. A general with the inauspicious-sounding name of Ne Win became head of the military junta that installed itself in 1962, and then president under a new constitution promulgated in 1974, so his parents' astrologer must really have known his stuff. Then again, Ne Win is not an unusual name.

Given names were commonly just a single syllable long as late the beginning of the twentieth century, but they've been lengthening more or less systematically, and nowadays newborns typically get names that are three to five syllables long.

burn rate
The rate at which start-up money is spent, usually stated in units of bucks, quid, pesetas or whatever per week. Time is money.

Burstein Effect
In highly doped semiconductors, the conduction or valence band may become degenerately doped--i.e., the Fermi level may cross a band edge. The resulting increase in apparent energy gap and absorption threshold is called the Burstein effect.

bursting effect
You're probably thinking of the Burstein effect.

Broadcast and Unknown Server.

A vehicle for transporting many people simultaneously.

Plural noun form, and third pers. sing. present tense verb form, of bus (q.v.).

bush supporter
A rather unusual form of underwear, apparently. I see it mentioned on chats sometimes, but immediately everyone has something to say and the text flies up the screen faster than I can read it. It seems to have something to do with merkins.

Bush 41
George Herbert Walker BUSH, 41st president of the US.

Bush 43
George Walker BUSH, 43rd president of the US. Eldest son of Bush 41. Say what you will about the Kennedy ``dynasty,'' only one has ever been US president. Bush 43 is nicknamed ``W,'' which is often written dubya.

British for (communication) bus. More at busses.

Plural noun form, and third pers. sing. present tense verb form, of bus (q.v.) and also of buss, which means ``kiss.''

Phenylbutazone. An analgesic.

But seriously folks...
The last comment was a joke! You were supposed to laugh! Laugh, you clueless morons, or I won't get another gig!

Back in 1999, in a classics-list discussion of Circassian women (of legendary beauty), I recalled reading of one such in the second book of Candide. I recalled incorrectly: a favorite odalisque of Candide there was Zirza, not (necessarily) Circassian. (In my defense, c for z is an easy switch in some languages, and may have been made in the translation I read.) Some years later, I received an email from a woman who had read my posting in the classics-list archives; she informed me that (a) she was Circassian, and (b) it's true about Circassian women. I didn't write back asking for proof, which demonstrates that I am a clueless moron.

Anyway, the second book, like the first, is framed as a translation (to the French) from the original German of one ``M. le Docteur Ralph.'' This sequel is not well known. Trying to learn more back in 1999, I spoke with a local professor of French who taught Candide regularly in her classes; she was unaware of the sequel. I now understand that the sequel is considered spurious, and that its true author is apparently unknown. I did learn something from the French professor, however. She shocked me with the information that her students don't realize that Candide is funny.

For an example closer to homepage, you can visit our ENT entry. When I first wrote it, I assumed people would ``get it.'' (I think it was only one paragraph long, then.) Eventually, I received a polite email explaining that otorhinolaryngology was Latin (!) for the ENT thing. I surrender.

I imagine many people today might not recognize an allusion to Dale Carnegie's self-help book How to Win Friends and Influence People. First published in 1936 and based on a 14-week course he had been teaching, it has sold 15 million copies world-wide, and remains in print in a revised edition (1981). In 2010 or so, a display case that my local Barnes and Noble has at the front of the store to draw the attention of incoming customers featured two books: this one and one from the 1950's (one of Vance Packard's books, I think it was); they were being plugged as ``New Books.'' So much for the lemma; on to the trivial theorem.

Toby Young (born 1963) had many publishing failures until he wrote a memoir about them, entitled How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (2001). Now the corollary.

The Young ``How To'' book also achieved world-wide success. It became a best-seller and was translated into a dozen languages, anyway, and it was made into a movie (2008) starring Megan Fox, Kirsten Dunst, and a couple of guys. The screenplay for that movie was done by Peter Straughan, but the book's success had garnered Young an invitation to try his luck as a Hollywood writer. He failed there too, and wrote a memoir of his new failures entitled The Sound of No Hands Clapping (2006). Is Tom Young the George Plimpton of our time?

Remark: I suppose Young's earlier title may also have been meant as an allusion to Lenny Bruce's How to Talk Dirty and Influence People. That was an autobiography that Bruce had the foresight to publish in 1965, the year before he died of a drug overdose, aged 40. Lenny Bruce was a comedian, and one whom we (or at least English professors) would now describe as ``transgressive.'' His audiences might gasp rather than clap with two hands... or laugh. Riverrun.

A flat-topped hill. Like a mesa, but without any steep sides. Loosely speaking: any ol' mesa.

Remember, you can't spell butter without butt. You can't spell butter without butte either, but that's just a coincidence.

A plant that captures insects on its sticky leaves and digests them. The inspiration of some really bad sci-fi horror flicks.

Butterworth filters
Low-pass filters of a kind described by S. Butterworth, ``On the theory of filter amplifiers,'' Wireless Engineer (London) 7, pp. 536-541 (1930).

butt floss
Thong underwear.

Four frustrating hours in a chat room with forty indistinguishable nonpunctuating flirts frothing about phone sex, and then finally someone says something to make it all worthwhile.

Boltzmann-Uheling-Uhlenbeck. Nuclear dynamics model based on single-particle distribution-function description. See Bertsch, G. and Das Gupta, S., Phys. Rep. 160, 189, (1989).

Buy Now
And Save!

Buys Ballot's Law
The funniest-named law in meteorology. Governs the pressure gradient in cyclones and anticyclones: In the northern hemisphere the pressure gradient points pi/2 (90°) to the right of the velocity direction; in the southern hemisphere, to the left. This simple rule is the consequence of the dominance of Coriolis [fictitious] force over ordinary centrifugal [fictitious] force. The former is ``omega cross vee'' while the latter is ``omega cross (omega cross arr).'' [Here omega is the Earth's orbital angular momentum vector, vee is the local wind velocity, arr is the position vector (most conveniently defined with an origin at the earth's center), and woe is me that the standard ISO character set has virtually no Greek.] Clearly, however, the centrifugal force is larger, since (omega cross arr) is the surface speed of the earth itself -- much larger than puny vee (order of 20-30 mph in a typical cold front, up to 200 mph in the terror hurricanes that come once per century or so). The point, however, is that when the wind is still and there is no pressure gradient, the centrifugal force is already acting, but the BB law is concerned with the additional effect of relative velocities to induce pressure gradients: When the air ``starts moving'' (relative to the local piece of earth), the centrifugal force is unchanged but the Coriolis force changes.

Interestingly, the law named after Christoph Hendrik Diederik Buys Ballot had previously been discovered both by James Henry Coffin and by William Ferrel, and Ferrel had actually explained it (correctly) in terms of Coriolis force, while Buys Ballot merely reported it as a statistical regularity. This injustice is typical. Buys Ballot was a science bureaucrat -- he chaired a bunch of committees and tried to steer the research efforts of his intellectual superiors. He had entered the field of meteorology when he failed at chemistry. He claimed Sine hypothesi scientia nulla, but most of his research consisted in dull accountancy: looking for regular patterns in the vast meteorological data that technology (the telegraph) was then making available. In his creative application of busy, mind-numbing mediocrity, he was truly a man ahead of his time.

Bed Volume[s]. The total volume of the bed in a water medium, including both particles and the interstices (``void spaces'') between the particles. In other words, the volume of the bed that you would compute macroscopically, without pulling out a sample of the bed and draining it to see what fraction is interstitial water.


If a high school Latin teacher is needed for levels B-V, that's Beginning through Virgilius.

Bleed Valve.

Blocking Valve.

(Domain code for) Bouvet Island.

British Veterinary Association.

Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe. German: `Berlin Transit System.' Official name Kombinat Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe, which suggests something more socialist, like `Berlin Transit Enterprises Collective.' BVB operated in East Berlin until the wall came down. On January 1, 1992, it officially re-merged with the West German BVG (q.v.). The lines are now sometimes distinguished as BVG-West (old, or rather always, BVG) and BVG-Ost (`BVG-East') or BVG-Ost/BVB. The BVB-Stadion, a soccer stadium northeast of Berlin, is now BVG-Stadion. Some people still just call the BVG-Ost subway lines BVB. There's an ASCII map of the Wall-era system at the Berlin entry.

Bibliotheks-Verbund Bayern.

Belgian Veterinary Computer Association.

Antonomasia for men's briefs, or underpants. BVD Apparel was founded in 1876 by Bradley, Voorhees, and Day. They originally manufactured women's bustles; I imagine they don't anymore. Popular guesses at the origin of the name include ``Boy's Ventilated Drawers.'' See also BF.

Binnenlandse Veiligheidsdienst. Dutch ``Internal Security Service.' The predecessor (vorlooper -- literally `forerunner') of the AIVD.

Berliner Verkehrs-AG. German for `Berlin Transport Co.' It is reasonable to omit the A, since AG represents the compound noun Aktiengesellschaft (`stock company'), constructed on the noun Gesellschaft (`company'). BVG was formed in a 1929 merger. When it became a publicly owned company of the city of Berlin in 1938, it changed its name to Berliner Verkehrs-Betriebe but kept using the old initialism. When the company was divided up after the war (along with the rest of Germany and Berlin), the communist part adopted the initialism BVB (q.v.).

Betriebsverfassungsgesetz. German, `Industrial Relations Act.'

British Veterinary Hospitals Association.

Blessed Virgin Mary.

In England, ``blessed'' was once used to allude to BVM, and in that sense was regarded as sacrilegious. ``Bloody'' eventually came to be a standard euphemism for ``blessed,'' and it is by that route that ``bloody'' came to be regarded (perhaps no longer in our decadent time) as profane.

That's one story, anyway. I've heard that it was debunked, but I haven't the bloody time to look into it.

British Veterinary Nursing Association.

Boundary-Value Problem.

Beyond Visual Range.

Backed With. Used to designate the B side of a 45RPM record without actually calling it the B side. A less common equivalent was c/w, but the c/w entry has more information. Why should I cut and paste when it's just as easy for thousands of visitors to click on the link and wait for another glossary page to load?

Postal code for Baden-Württemberg, one of the sixteen states (Länder) of the German Federal Republic (FRG). [Like most of the country information in this glossary, Germany's is at its domain code: .de.] The state's area is 35,753 sq. km. Its population was 9,286,000 by the census of 1987, estimated at 10,393,000 for 1997. Baden-Württemberg was part of the old West Germany.

BandWidth. In amplifiers, the frequency at which gain is down by 3 dB (or a factor of about half) from its zero-frequency value. More generally, it is the full width, in frequency, of the transfer function, measured between half-maximum power points. This definition assumes a relatively well-defined peak in the frequency response. Cf. Effective Bandwidth.

[Phone icon] Typical analog telephone bandwidth is somewhat under 3 kHz. Digital cellular phones can sound cruddy because they use only 1 kHz (and compression; a very unsolved problem over lossy channels).

Everybody understands BW.

Biological Warfare.

Bos-Wash Axis of Elitism. Apparently coined by Hugh Hewitt at the time of the Miers SCOTUS nomination in 2005, to facilitate discussions of elitism along the Amtrak line.

Better World Books. A charity formerly known as Campus Community Outreach. They fund various literacy initiatives. In 2004 they were the largest contributor to BFA. They make money by collecting book donations on college campuses and turning a profit on them somehow. Onehow is reselling them on their website. I don't know what they do with the books they don't sell this way. You might suppose they raised funds by selling the used books to publishers, who would be happy to draw down the supply of used recent editions competing with new textbooks. Then again, maybe BWB could try to get a bidding war going between publishers and the used-book market.

The selection of books at the website is curious, possibly because the website lists only those books they couldn't unload in bulk. Unexpectedly for a charity that gets its books in end-of-year donations from college students, textbooks, especially recent textbooks, are poorly represented. I just took a peek at the books accumulated at the donation box on campus, and what I saw were recently-published textbooks. Also, the price distribution is bimodal. Do a title-word search on chemistry and you'll find a bunch of old texts for two to ten bucks, a number of monographs for $250+, and little in between. Anyway, not a bad place to look for used textbooks, if you know what to get.

B&W, B/W, BW
Black and White. Standard ``palette'' for hypotext.

Three-Card Monte bunko artists on the streets of New York City often use a shill of a different race than the dealer, to dispell the (correct) suspicion that that lucky man in the crowd is a confederate of the dealer. (The game is completely rigged; the job of the shill is to be allowed to win, thus encouraging others to risk and lose their money.) This different-race decoy practice is not called ``B&W'' but salt'n'peppa.

Isn't it wonderful how the workplace is tearing down traditional barriers between the races?

In various cities and various times, black-and-white has been the color scheme of one or another fleet of vehicles (police, typically, back as recently as the 1960's, and sometimes taxis). There and then, ``a black-and-white'' has meant one of those vehicles.

(Domain code for) Botswana. This country should not be confused with Bophuthatswana, which was a homeland or bantustan in South Africa. [Homelands were essentially an attempt by the old white minority regime to lawyer its way out of being undemocratic: blacks (Tswana people, in this instance) were declared citizens of a nominally independent homeland and hence not citizens of South Africa. Bophuthatswana, founded in 1977, comprised seven disjoint areas, one of which was on the Botswana border. The majority-governed South African government took over Bophuthatswana in 1994.]

You wanted to know about Botswana? Its CIA World Factbook page is here.

Business Week magazine. As the name implies, it's a magazine about keeping busy during the week. In other words, it's a hobbyists' magazine, for hobbyists whose hobby is making money.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area. In the Quetico-Superior region.

IATA code for Baltimore-Washington International Airport, at Baltimore, MD, USA. Here's its status in real time from the ATCSCC.

Block Write Mode.

Boiling Water Reactor. A clear instance in which the acronym sounds far better than the term it abbreviates. A kind of nuclear reactor.

Bright Well-Rounded Kids. As Rachel Toor revealed in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Oct. 6, 2000, honestly telling college applicants (or their parents) that their admission is unlikely is inappropriate behavior for an admissions officer at a selective institution:
... The job of admissions officers is to recruit, to boost application numbers. The more applications, the lower the admit rate, the higher the institutional ranking. Increasing application numbers is usually the No. 1 mandate of the recruiting season. Partly, that means trying to get the very best students to apply. But it also means trying to persuade those regular, old Bright Well-Rounded Kids (B.W.R.K.'s, in admissionese) to apply -- so that the college can reject them and bolster its selectivity rating. Reject them because there are so many of them, and because they're actually not as interesting as the "well-lopsided" kids -- those who have shown real prowess and potential in a more focused manner.

Battered-Woman Syndrome. Lady-fingers writ large. Either that or a diminished-competence defense or a diminished-culpability argument in sentencing.

Better World 'Zine.

Postal code for Bavaria (Bayern in German), one of the sixteen states (Länder) of the German Federal Republic (FRG). [Like most of the country information in this glossary, Germany's is at the domain code .de.] Bavaria is by far the largest state of the republic (in area): 70,551 sq. km. Or maybe 70,548 sq. km., it's not clear. Maybe they're trying to shed the old Teutonic reputation for pedantic precision, but is Bavaria the place to start? Its population was 9,286,000 by the census of 1987, estimated at 10,393,000 for 1997. Bavaria, in the southwest, was part of the old West Germany.

(Domain name code for) Belarus. (AKA `Byelorussia'; `White Russia.') Ariadne, ``The European and Mediterranean link resource for Research, Science and Culture,'' has a page of national links.

Rec.Travel offers some links.

by design
The German language has absorbed a lot of English since WWII, but when you encounter ``by design'' in a German love song, it gives you pause. If you listen closely (I'm thinking of a particular hit song, but I haven't got the CD handy right now) it sounds like bei dir sein, `to be with you.'

A collateral and sometimes less frequent word form.

But You Knew That. Email usage.

Bring Your Own. Productive prefix in party situations.

Bring Your Own Alcohol.

We'll be replicating traditional pharmacological studies. Repeatability is a hallmark, or a benchmark, or a trademark, or a foomark of Science. Repetition is a sign of addiction.

Bring Your Own {Beer|Beverage|Booze|Bota|Bottle}. Okay, I made up the Bota expansion, but the acronym is ambiguous -- sometimes intentionally or usefully so.

Bring Your Own Computer. The practice of companies that let staff choose their own computer for use at work. The company picks up all or part of the cost.

Bring Your Own Cup.

Bring Your Own Device. The same as BYOC above (no, not the one immediately above), but the computer might be a smartphone. This was a growing and eventually widespread practice among companies in the five years or so around 2010, but due to security concerns, by 2013 it was beginning to be superseded by SYOD (S for Select).

Bring Your Own Lunch.

In fact, why don't you just stay home?

Bring Your Own Lime Jello.

by some
A reliable sign of controversy.
``...believed by some...'' ``...said by some...''

Generally, language communicates information. When language appears not to be performing the communicative function, it is really just performing it in a more subtle way. When something obvious is stated, the fact being communicated is not the obvious stated fact -- which was already known to the reader or hearer. Instead, what is communicated is an acknowledgment by the speaker that the obviously true fact is also important enough to bear in mind. To be a little more precise, this is the meaning intended to be conveyed. The significance, and the meaning understood, may be simply the author's continued fear of those who would insist on continued emphasis on the disclaimer.

This is rather too abstract, isn't it? It would be considered so, by some.

A subdivision of a word, larger than a bit. Nowadays it's usually eight bits. This standard unit was not always so standard. Octal-based systems liked word lengths that were multiples of six. The powerful CDC6000 series designed by Seymour Cray and introduced in 1964, for example, used 60-bit words. The popular IBM-360/370 series, introduced the same year, was hexadecimal-based and led to the standardization of the 8-bit byte. See the entry on byte in FOLDOC for more historical detail.

There's a suggestion there that byte was an acronym, but lots of people suppose it's intended to suggest bite and allude to bit. Cf. nybble.

If there's a possibility of confusion with bytes of length different than eight bits, you can use the term octet.

byte sex

Brigham Young University.

(Domain name code for) Belize. Was British Honduras.

Brillouin (Eng.: ``Brill-wan'') Zone.


Byzantinische Zeitschrift. German `Byzantine Journal.'


Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature. Quarterly journal of the ICZN.

BZ reaction
Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction. Oscillates. Can only continue to oscillate because it involves an open system, otherwise entropy (i.e. second law of thermodynamics, entropy increases) would dictate a unique final state.

Standard German abbreviation for bezeihungsweise, translatable in typical contexts as `respectively.'

Paper dimension standard used by people who haven't realized that the metric system is a failure. When you see people in such extreme denial, you hardly know whether to laugh or cry.

Oh well, B0 is just one more doomed effort to crack the world dominance of paper sizes that are measured out in inches. A0, A1, etc., are defined so that the area is rational, but the length and width are irrational -- they are rational numbers times (alternately) 2¼ and 2¾. B0, and B1 and the rest, manage to get one side rational, but the other side smaller or larger by a factor of the square root of two. It doesn't work! If you want paper with both width and length that are rational (i.e., that makes sense) in inches or even in centimeters, you gotta go with the real thing: eight-and-a-half-by-eleven! Yeah!

B0 paper has a width of one meter and a length of the square root of 2 (2½). Successive sizes (B1, B2, ...) have their linear dimensions shrunk by successive factors of 2½.

Name Area (sq cm) Width (cm) Length (cm) Length (in)

Business visa. Cf. B-2. Visitors from certain countries don't need to obtain a visa; under the visa waiver program they typically get an I-94 card with a ``WB'' notation (q.v.).

Following are the conditions for reimbursement of visitors to an academic institution, under the liberalized rules that came into effect in January 2001.

Travel status Honorarium Compensation for incidental expenses
B-1 visa or WB Maybe Permitted
B-2 visa or WT Maybe Maybe

Incidental expenses are costs of travel, meals, and lodging. ``Maybe'' in the table above means permitted if and only if the visitor stays at the institution nine or fewer days, and has not accepted payments from more than five US entities in the preceding six months.

A paper size. See B0.

Flying Fortress. A WWII-era four-engine bomber for the allies. Image (99 kbytes) here. A larger image from http://wuarchive.wustl.edu/multimedia/images/gif/b/b17-fort.gif has the wrong aspect ratio (it's been anisotropically scaled to 640×480) so it looks sleeker than it was. Maybe I'll mirror a scaled version sometime. [Don't get me wrong: I'm very grateful to Washington University of St. Louis for hosting their very convenient image archive. Here's their third image of a B-17.]

Bomber number 2. The `Stealth Bomber.' Manufactured by Northrop (Northrop Grumman since 1994; the Pentagon encouraged post-Wall consolidation for a while, then around 1998-9 started complaining about a dearth of competitive bids on military contracts -- be careful what you wish for, especially when you have the clout to make it happen). They have a spiritual site.

A paper size. See B0.

Tourist visa for the US. A few of the INS visa types are paired, like J-1 (``short-term scholar'') and J-2 (spouse of ``short-term scholar''). One may consider B-1 and B-2 visas to be paired in like manner when the B-2-holder is a ``spouse-along.'' At least it explains the B (for business) and the 2. Visitors from certain countries don't need to obtain a visa; under the visa waiver program they typically get an I-94 card with a ``WT'' notation (q.v.).

Another way to look at it is that tourists are like business travelers in that, to some extent, they may receive financial compensation. The rules are explained at the B-1 entry. This can be a problem, because in many academic disciplines, in many countries, an honorarium for the speaker is common courtesy. It might be embarrassing or rude not to return the favor. I've noticed that the honorarium is typically delivered in crisp Mark or yen notes, with a minimum of paperwork (it comes in a paper envelope).

Perhaps a word is in order here about rules. According to the bean counters at a certain large state university system, if I take a visitor out for dinner, we can go to an expensive French restaurant or to McDonalds or Hooters, it doesn't matter -- it's food and the expense is covered. But if we order a beer at Hooters, or if we are so gauche as to have wine with our French food, that's entertainment or something, and not a legitimate business expense. It is for wisdom like this that we have accountants. I certainly couldn't have figured this out myself. I probably still can't. So by all means go to Le Crazy Horse or a French restaurant, but for goodness sake don't be entertained, and don't itemize, or petty cash will have to take a hit. 'Nuff said.

(It could be worse: you could work for the US government.)

Business-2-Business. Cf. C2C.


A paper size. See B0.

Bipolar 3 Zero Substitution.

Rebus for before.

In the GNU release of grep, the options -A #1 and -B #2 cause #1 lines after and #2 lines before a matching line to be displayed.

A paper size. See B0.

  1. Before Now.
  2. Bye For Now. Cf. BBN.

A paper size. See B4.

A very tall, smooth-walled bee-hive woman's hair style. A rock group (from Georgia?) that took its name from this hairstyle. They had a hit with ``Rock Lobster.'' Here's another kind of B-52.

A paper size. See B0.

A stupid paper size. See B0.

Bipolar 8 Zero Substitution.

Model number of the robot called ``Robot,'' from the TV series ``Lost in Space.'' Xenophobe from a future earth. This is `benign'? More like a guard K-9 that talks.
WARNING! WARNING! Aliens Approaching!!
(Flail arm-things.)

The most complete technical details are available here. Less-technical details at our camp entry.

B-9 was modeled on ``Robby the Robot'' from the classic Forbidden Planet. Robby was cool; a couple of space cadets, or troops or whatever, give him some whisky to analyze. Can he synthesize some more?

Robby: Would 60 gallons be sufficient?

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