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M m

Latin, Marcus. A praenomen, typically abbreviated when writing the full tria nomina.


Latin, Manius. A praenomen, typically abbreviated when writing the full tria nomina.

M, m, µ
Mass. Often, in problems involving only two masses, subscripts are avoided by using m for the smaller and M for the larger mass. In many-body mechanics problems, it is conventional to use M for the total mass (the mass the appears in Newton's equation for the center-of-mass motion). By Newton's Third Law, the center of mass acceleration depends only on external forces.

In a two-body problem, M = m1 + m2. In two-body problems involving only central forces, the center-of-mass and relative motions are independent. The equations of motion of the individual particles can be combined to yield a trivial equation of motion for the center of mass (zero acceleration) and an equation of motion that involves only the relative separation vector (and its second time derivative). By far the most common use of μ to indicate mass is in the two-body problem, to indicate the effective mass of the relative motion:

1     1       1
-  =  -   +   -
µ     m       m
       1       2

Mature. A movie rating of the MPAA (q.v.), later renamed GP and finally PG.

Mega. SI prefix for million, from a Greek word meaning `big.' (Another instance of this root is in the name for the last letter of the Greek alphabet, Omega -- for long-oh.)

Metal. It is convenient that M is not the chemical symbol for any element, so it can be used to stand for a generic or unspecified metal (or metal mix), as in the empirical formula M0.8N0.2 for a typical metglas (Allied-Signal TM) or splat-cooled amorphous metal, which typically contains 20% nonmetal (composition is chosen to hit a eutectic point).

``Splat-cooled'' is a technical term. There's probably a pretentious and dignified term one uses in making presentations to the suited species.

Back in the summer after my freshman year, I worked in the induction furnace ``lab'' at what was then called Allied Chemical; I helped cook up alloy premixes that would later be remelted and splat-cooled. This wasn't a full-time job, and I was stupid, so I let people know that I was available to help out on other stuff when I wasn't trying to break molly with a rubber mallet or again attempting to electrocute myself. One morning a splat-cooling set-up down the hall exploded -- pieces of quartz crucible lay all over the floor, some insulating tiles and blocks were charred, etc. It was an emergency, and helping clean up was easily the most appreciated thing I did that summer. When the suits stopped by later that day on their long-planned tour, they never noticed anything amiss.

Ahem. Many of you have written concerning the generic chemical formula M0.8N0.2 written above. You point out that N is the symbol of a chemical element, and that might lead to confusion if it is used to stand for a generic nonmetal also. No problem! It turns out that N stands for nitrogen, which is itself a nonmetal. See?

Until we develop the postmodern chemistry entry, it may be encouraging to some of you to know that in the metglas context, the nonmetal was usually phosphorus (P), boron (B) or a mix of those, possibly including a little bit of silicon and maybe something more exotic. Never nitrogen.

While the M's I have seen in chemical formulae have generally represented metals, as described at the top of this entry, I have to admit that while cleaning out the garage, I came upon a paper of N. Washida, H. Akimoto, and M. Okuda, ``HNO Formed in the H + NO + M Reaction System,'' in The Journal of Physical Chemistry, vol. 82, no. 21 (October 19, 1978), pp. 2293-2299. There M can be any of He, Ne, Ar, Kr, H2, N2, CO2, N2O, H2O, and SF6, and that's not an exhaustive list. Here M is any room-temperature gas species that does not participate chemically in the reaction. So M here really refers to a mass. The role of the molecular species indicated by M is obvious: it makes the reaction mechanically possible: In the gas phase, the H +NO <--> HNO reaction is a two-body problem. Viewed in the center of mass, the separate species H and NO approach each other with equal and opposite momenta. Without some additional species, the momentum and energy constraints are rather tight.

Oh, Lord! At this rate I'm never going to get the car back in the garage.

Meter. The fundamental metric unit of length. The meter has gone through a variety of definitions and standards, each designed to agree with the previous definition to within the precision of the earlier definition at the time the earlier definition was promulgated. It's always been about as long as the eighteenth-century French yard that it replaced. For the earliest definition, see the nmi entry.

Methyl. Use Me, if you can afford to buy a vowel.

Mike. 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). Mike is the most stupid letter name in the phonetic alphabet, because in noise it can be mistaken for bike or night.

Use Mojave.


Latin: Mille, `Thousand.' Roman numeral for one thousand. Still used to designate 1000 sheets of paper. See I entry for Roman-numeral links and explanations. The mile is etymologically related (vide mi.). Lower-case m (q.v.) is used in the SI.


SI prefix milli-, meaning one thousandth, from Latin Mille, `Thousand.' In the original version of the metric system, Latin roots were used for fractional prefixes (deci-, centi-, milli-) and Greek for large multiples (deka-, hecto-, kilo-, mega-). Where two prefixes began with the same letter (d or m, in particular), the multiple (Greek) could be capitalized. (This had the advantage that it was also more accurate, since upper-case Greek characters more frequently coincide with the Roman characters we write in: upper case µ is M. This Greek/Latin system of numerical prefixes broke down with micro, and after borrowing from all over the place, the SI is just making up prefactors chosen mostly for the convenience of their abbreviations.

Mismatch. M is often used as the variable name for a mismatch factor or divisor. A mismatch factor is intended to correct the value of some quantity measured under particular test conditions, so as to predict the value of that quantity under field, normal-operation, or other condition of interest.

I should mention Miss Match, a 2003 TV series starring Alicia Silverstone as a divorce lawyer who does matchmaking on the side, and of course she has her own personal romantic difficulties (anyone could write the project proposal for this). Okay, I mentioned it.

Mobile. The Intel Pentium M series chips are specifically designed for laptop computers. AMD laptop chips are designated with the word Mobile.

Molar. This is a moderately unusual measurement unit, or symbol, since its name is an adjective. There are various measures of concentration in chemistry, and for liquid solvents, molarity is a very common one. The molarity is defined as
                                moles of solute
                              liters of solution
so the units are built into the definition, and the molarity is a dimensionless quantity. In fact, one can say ``the molarity is 0.001'' and be understood, but one is more likely to hear ``the concentration is 1 millimolar.'' In the second phrase, one doesn't really know what ``concentration'' means until one hears the unit. The concentration the speaker has in mind might be molality or normality, or any other of the 8 or so different concentration definitions in common use. These different measures give equivalent information, in the sense that any single given value of molarity corresponds to a single value of molality. (For dilute aqueous solutions, the molarity and molality are about equal.) On the other hand, in order to make the conversion between concentration measures one needs more or less detailed information about the solvent, the solute, and how they interact.

I should add immediately that the quoted phrases above were chosen to highlight a distinction. More commonly, one would say ``it's a 1 millimolar solution,'' so ``molar'' is used as an adjective. It's my impression that the natural language used by chemists tends to avoid situations that force the word molar to be a noun (don't think of teeth), but there is a real issue here. For purposes of comparison, consider length. You can say ``the length is 5 m,'' and clearly 5 m is the value of the length and not the kind of length being discussed, so 5 m is a noun. That 5 m can function as a noun is clear from its occurrence in a phrase like ``5 m of pipe.'' (Of course, one can also use 5 m as an adjective. One can even say ``a 5 kg length of pipe,'' though this ``length'' is not the abstract quantity that has a value, but a concrete thing with various properties. Thus, one can say of a particular 5 m length of pipe it has a 5 cm o.d., whereas giving the width of an abstract 5 m length is meaningless. Another indication comes from the fact that English does not inflect predicate adjectives for number, so the expression ``the length is five meters'' implies that meters in this context is a noun.)

Murder. Corresponds to the telephone number six.

Maintenance and Adaptation.

Ma., Ma
MaríA. A common Spanish abbreviation. It has been such a common name that variants based on it are also common names. Sometimes a name will be written out with María abbreviated and one other given name (or more) not abbreviated, indicating that the person is not called María except perhaps formally. (In the preceding sentence, the ``person'' may not be implicitly female. There are common Spanish men's names compounded from María, like Juan María. In such cases, however, the abbreviation is mostly just an abbreviation and doesn't carry as much usage guidance; at least, when a Juan María is called by a single Christian name, it's not likely to be María.)

A disused María may occur in two ways that I can think of. It may be one of multiple given names that a child is saddled with (like ``María Elena Isabela...'') or it may be part of a María epithet like María del Rosario. (See gender of Spanish women's names for other examples.)

Markov Analysis. Quantitative analysis of a system's time evolution, based on two assumptions or conditions:
  1. At any given moment (continuous-time Markov) or at a sequence of moments (discrete-time Markov) a system can be completely described by the statement that it is in a particular state. (By choosing a sufficiently complete description, this condition can usually be satisfied for any well-understood physical system, in principle.) MA is usually applied statistically, to ensembles of systems, and one studies the time evolution of a probability distribution. The states that a single system can assume are the possible arguments of the probability distribution. In other words, one studies the probability that the system is in a particular state, and how that probability varies in time.
  2. The system evolves from one moment by making state transitions at a rate that depends only on the initial state. This is a highly restrictive assumption, but it holds to a greater or lesser degree of accuracy for many interesting systems, and it makes the problem solvable.
By the second assumption, a Markov process is described by a linear, first-order time-evolution equation -- a first-order differential equation for a continuous-time process, a first-order difference equation for a discrete-time process. Any such equation has a formal solution that can be written down trivially. However, evaluating the formal solution is not trivial. In the simplest case, a Markov process with a finite number of states, this involves evaluating the exponential of a finite-order matrix of transition rates or transition probabilities (in continuous- and discrete-time cases, resp.). If the system can assume an infinite number of states, one must evaluate the exponential of an appropriate infinite-order generalization of a matrix.

Ordinary Markovian analysis assumes transition rates or probabilities independent of time. If these vary in time, it is still possible to write a formal solution using time-ordering operators of the sort developed for quantum field theory.

Mask Aligner. A standard piece of optical equipment for photolithographic processes used in microelectronics fabrication.

Commonwealth of Massachusetts. USPS abbreviation.

The Villanova University Law School provides some links to state government web sites for Massachusetts. USACityLink.com has a page with mostly city and town links for the state.

MA, M.A.
Master of Arts. A degree beyond the Bachelor of Arts.

Mergers and Acquisitions.

In 1998, the total value of M&A in the EU was $600 billion; in 1999 it was $1200 billion. I have no idea how these numbers are handled when they involve parties outside the EU.

Middle Ages. When they begin or end is a question best avoided if possible.

The word you often screw up the spelling of is medieval or mediaeval. Mnemonic: co[a]eval.

The Middle Ages is divided into two parts: the Early Middle Ages (that comes first) and the Late Middle Ages (that comes last). It's not divided into three parts because ``Middle Middle Ages'' would sound silly.

(Domain code for) Morocco.

Multiple Access. This is a synonym of multiplex[ing|ed], and an excuse to add a vowel to your acronym. See, for example, CDMA or DAMA.

Manufacturers' Aircraft Association. A short-lived US industry organization founded in 1917 as the Aircraft Manufacturers' Association. After the US entered WWI, the association drew up a cross-licensing agreement to allow manufacturers to have unrestrained use of airplane patents for war production. Some time later the name was reordered, and in 1918 or 1919 the MAA was dissolved. See ACCA.

Mathematical Association of America. A professional society of college and university mathematics teachers, founded in 1915, with about 30,000 members in 1995. Perhaps you sought the American Mathematical Society.

The Medieval Academy of America. ``[T]he first organization of medievalists in North America when it was founded in 1925, [it] is the largest organization in the world devoted to medieval studies. Its goal is the support of research, publication, and teaching in all aspects of the Middle Ages.'' These historian types must be pretty clever to master the conceptual subtleties of history. I can't even guess when after 1925 it ceased to be the first organization of medievalists in North America. It must have something to do with temporal logic.

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference.

MAgnesium and ALuminum hydrOXide. These two weak bases [Al(OH)3 and Mg(OH)2] are the active ingredients in the antacid. Other antacids, like Gelusil and Mylanta, use the same active ingredients and add simethicone (an antiflatulent). Di-gel contains those three ingredients plus magnesium carbonate [MgCO3], a weak basic salt.

The active ingredient in Rolaids is a weak base with a long name, if not a strong one: aluminum sodium dihydroxy carbonate [AlNa(OH)2CO3].

The two ``-Seltzer'' products include bicarbonate of soda (sodium bicarbonate in the newfangled name; NaHCO3 in either case) and citric acid. Alka-Seltzer has aspirin as well. (Regarding the ``alka,'' see the entry for alkali. Bromo-Seltzer in its original formulation had a bromide. Today it contains the analgesic acetaminophen.

Malaysian Amateur Athletic Union (AAU).

Monoclonal AntiBod{y|ies}. Viagra, Cialis, Re-Fi, Canadian prescriptions -- sure. Woman suits manufacture wholesale China, winding machine -- why not? But RabMAb spam? MEK1 Phospho, Bcl-2 Family Proteins? My inbox is the world's dispos-all!

MACintosh. An underpowered PC in an unbusinesslike box, with a GUI that used to be innovative, a darling keyboard with cute little keys that are just sooo perfect for dainty little fingers, a pretty little one-button mouse that's smooth and round so it feels the same whether you're holding it straight or cockeyed or throwing it across the room in frustration, and many other delightful features. The sentimental favorite.

Awwww -- in August 2005, Apple came out with a mouse that has more than one button. Apparently, they're working hard to stay ahead of Windows and Unix which didn't have three buttons, or two buttons and a scroll wheel, until, uh, well, whenever.

Maximum Allowable Concentration.

Medium Access Control. Via MAU, of course. Medium here is not the ordinary adjective nor the extraordinary psychic, but just the singular of media. Most people expand it ``Media Access Control.''

Membrane Attack Complex. Via MAU, of course.

(US) Military Airlift Command.

Movimento Apostolico Ciechi. Italian `Blind people's apostolic movement.' Some would argue that this is not a distinction.

Multiply-Accumulate Cycle.

Mycobacterium Avium Complex. Bacterial infection found in HIV positives with T4 counts below 50/ml. Related to tuberculosis. Can cause fever, weight loss, and chronic diarrhea. This is a way to lose weight but good, but it's not a good way to lose weight.

The native and common name of Lepidium meyenii, an herb native to the high Andes. You want to know more? I know no more. See the Wikipedia entry for maca. Go ahead! I ain't proud. Y'all come back now, ya hea'? You wanna some back an' try our our delicious Macca entry laytah'!

(No, there isn't any clever joke you're missing in the previous paragraph. I just felt like rolling into the ditch of nonstandard English, and I did.)

Earlier this (1996) campaign year, after the Republican convention, retired General Colin Powell attempted to lay to rest the vicious canard that African-Americans have a special talent for dance, by personally committing Macarena. Fortunately, he was mostly hidden by an amazed and horrified crowd. Acting on her own authority in the emergency, Liddy Dole assured the nation at a Denver campaign rally on October 29 that her husband should be elected president because then there would be ``no more Macarena.'' Despite this irresistible campaign promise, Bob (``too honestly cynical for president'') Dole is still way behind in the race. [The preceding sentence used to say ``Bob (`the inarticulate') Dole,'' but we reconsidered later in the context of the presidential Bush league. We also tested ``cynically honest'' before settling on the current popular choice; we're always fine-tuning the entries to optimize your looking-things-up experience.]

Update 1998: Bob lost but he found a new career as a bail-bondsman for Newt Gingrich and a character actor in advertisements.

Update 2000: After her display of leadership in the Macarena crisis, Liddy Dole was considered a credible candidate for the 2000 Republican nomination. She ran a close second in many early (1999) polls, but eventually dropped out. Focus groups will prove that people were just afraid there'd be a new spate of Bob Dole erectile insufficiency advertisements if she became president. Look: Bill and Monica was enough. Change the subject. Let's have some good, clean, old-fashioned abuse-of-power and election-fraud scandals.

Update 2001: Done. Bush (``the inarticulate, junior'') became President and Colin (``Ay!! Macarena!!'') Powell became Secretary of State. God help us.

More on Macarena in the Richard Simmons entry.

macaroney, macaroni
Scottish pasta. That's why ``mac and cheese'' is made with Cheddar.

(Seriously, it is widely adverted that in 1660, Isaack B. Fubine of Savoy, patented macaroni at The Hague. I don't know what that means, so I'm not going to worry about it.)

Obviously another Scottish contribution to world cuisine. Very popular for Passover.

Multi-center Airborne Coherent Atmospheric Wind Sensor.

Sir Paul McCartney. The Paul McCartney mailing list is named MACCA-L. Cf. maca.

It turns out (don't tell the glossarist!) that Macca is a common nickname in the UK (or in England, at least) for anyone (not just Sir Pretty Face) whose surname begins with the Gaelic prefix Mac or Mc. I guess that in the early or middle twentieth century, ``Mack'' may have functioned that way in the US.

Melcor Accident Consequence Code System. Endorsed by the EPA for modeling air dispersion of radionuclides following an accidental release not explosively initiated. Cf. ERAD for explosive release.

Macdonald, Ross
Ross Macdonald, the writer of detective novels? Real name: Kenneth Millar.

Mid America Chamber Executives.

I might as well warn you now that this entry is under construction, speculative, and boring. Better read it now before it gets worse.

Machen is a German verb cognate with English make. The ulterior etymology of these words (beyond proto-Germanic) is uncertain.

The English noun might (the word that has a sense similar to strength) happens to coincide in sound and spelling with the modal might (subjunctive form of may), but the words don't seem to have any etymological relationship. German has a homonym pair: Macht is a noun also meaning `strength, force, or might' (as in Wehrmacht, `armed forces' or more literally `war force'). The word macht, on the other hand, is the 3d-pers. sing. pres. indic. of machen (usage example below). There doesn't seem to be a relationship between these words either, besides accidental coincidence.

German and English have another pair of cognates, tun and do, that like machen and make also have similar meanings. To native speakers of English, the assignment of meanings to machen and tun can seem a scrambled version of that of make and do. For example, ``er macht nichts'' means `he does nothing' rather than `he makes nothing.' Conversely, es tut mir Leid, literally `it does me sorrow,' means `I'm sorry' -- something like `it makes me sorry.' Probably the simplest thing one can say about the situation is that machen is a broader term than make in English, in part because there is less expectation that some thing (Ding) will be made. Crudely, one can say that machen is used more than tun, whereas make and do are comparably common. (It seems that Old English used the etymons of these words a bit more like German does now, the make etymon being much more common.)

Okay, I had some other ideas, about fashion effects in language and expressions like ``make trouble,'' ``make time,'' and ``do time,'' but the articulation is still embarrassingly vague. I've commented them away for the duration, so we can get the rest of these entries published.

Here's a peek behind the curtain. I found a clew to pull on: ``The Historical Development of the Causative Use of the Verb Make with an Infinitive,'' by Jun Terasawa, in Studia Neophilologica, 1985, vol. 57, #2, pp. 133-143. Abstract:

The development of the English causative construction with make + an infinitival complement is examined. Two types of causative V -- agentive causative & pure causative -- are distinguished, differing in both semantic & syntactic structure. Agentive causatives are seen to place stricter semantic restraints on causer, causee, & complement than do pure causatives. It is argued that the make construction began as a pure causative & later developed into an agentive causative. 5 Tables, 11 References.

This next one looked promising at first: ``Investigating Learner Vocabulary: A Possible Approach to Looking at EFL/ESL Learners' Qualitative Knowledge of the Word.'' [I've quoted the awful title accurately, but the paper itself is written in fluent English.] According to the abstract, the study involved ``a contrastive corpus analysis observing the uses of the high frequency verb make in learner & native writing...'' and it was published in a journal published in Germany [IRAL, vol. 39, #3, pp. 171-194 (2001)]. Unfortunately, the researchers (Erik T.K. Liu and Philip M. Shaw) studied only CSLE's.

Jackpot! ``The Grammatical and Lexical Patterning of make in Native and Non-Native Student Writing,'' by Bengt Altenberg and Sylviane Granger, in Applied Linguistics, vol. 22, #2, 173-194 (June 2001). From the abstract: ``The article focuses on what proves [sic] to be the two most distinctive uses of make: the delexical & causative uses. Results show that EFL learners, even at an advanced proficiency level, have great difficulty with a high frequency verb such as make. They also demonstrate that some of these problems are shared by the two groups of learners under consideration (Swedish- & French-speaking learners) while others seem to be L1-related.''

MAssive Compact Halo Object. An aggregation of matter too small to have been directly (i.e. optically) observed in interstellar space, and too sparsely dispersed to have been sighted locally, but dense and massive enough, at least in galactic halos, to explain the amount of dark matter implied by galactic motion. Also MAssive Condensed Halo Object. Also the name of an old collaboration of astronomers that was looking for these critters. (It was active in the 1990's; as of 2008 it apparently no longer exists.)

Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System. A term used by the US IRS. If you need help preparing your tax return, try visiting the IRS website.

MAC's SYmbolic MAnipulation System.

Mine Awareness and Clearance Training Programme. A UN program primarily concerned with mines in Afghanistan. The name was later changed to UNMCP and finally to MAPA.

Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education.

A word that has traditionally meant intellectually unsound, the usual specialized sense of insane. Now it is widely used with the meaning of angry.

Cicero, in his Tusculan Disputations, quotes Ennius to the effect that ira initius insaniae -- `anger is the beginning of insanity.'

Median of Absolute Deviations away from median. A measure of the breadth of a distribution. Explicitly: given a probability distribution, determine a median m for the distribution. Now the absolute deviations from this median, |x-m|, have their own distribution. (If the initial distribution is f(x), then g(u) = f(m+u) + f(m-u) is a distribution function for the absolute deviations u > 0.) The median m' of this new distribution g (i.e. m' is the median value of u) is the MAD. If we call the first and third quartiles q1 and q3, then m' clearly has a value between q3-m and m-q1.

Mutual Assured Destruction. Apt acronym for the strategic defense principle that guided the US to the peaceful conclusion (illustrated in Smithsonian exhibit) of the Cold War. Maybe you would like to visit the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.

Actually, McNamara's name for the principle was just ``Assured Destruction.'' The longer name with the punny acronym was invented by opponents.

Mad Cow Disease
Popular name of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, q.v.).

Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Founded by the mother of a victim. French name: Les Mères Contre l'Alcool au Volant (a somewhat literal translation: `the mothers against alcohol behind the wheel').

Manufacturing Automation and Design Engineering--program of ARPA, since 1990.

made possible by
An important phrase used in thanking sponsors of TV programs that no commercial broadcasting executive figured could scrape together an honest audience and that therefore require the funding of viewers like you.

A program that is ``made possible by'' <name of public-spirited organization here> clearly would not have been possible without that organization. Evidently, we're talking metaphysical necessity here. No other organization could have done it. To you it looks like dollars, but really it is existential ambrosia. Without that particular organization, the very existence of the program would have been not endangered, not imperiled, but completely and utterly nullified and kaput. That's why they didn't say ``made possible by funding from'' <name of public-spirited organization here>.

You probably didn't realize these facts. You need philosophical training, pronto.

A town in Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York and Virginia. Accent on first syllable; sounds like `Madge-rid.'

Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale.

Modified Air Defense System. A successor to the PATRIOT missile system. What is it about the letters M - A - D?

Mad, Stark
In Britain, it's ``stark staring mad'' and in America it's ``stark raving mad.'' This reflects traditional British reserve.

Multiple ACPI Description Table.

Magnetocrystalline Anisotropy Energy.

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineer[ing].

Mississippi Association of Educators. Read something of its history at the MEA entry.

Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists. In many places, MAES and SHPE are one club.

Management Assistant Expert System.

Magnetic Anisotropy Field.

Main Assembly Fixture.

Maintenance Action Form. The form of action without the maintenance.

Manpower Authorization File.

Mass Air Flow.

Master Address File. We know where your data live.

Maximum-Amplitude Filter.

Mission Analysis File.

Mission Aviation Fellowship.

Mixed Amine Fuel.

Multiple-Access Facility. I'm okay; you're okay.

An Argentine comic strip and its star. This page has some samples. This page has a more detailed inventory of characters. Bigger samples here (for comics with few words -- precisely the ones you don't need large).

Modélisation et Analyse Fonctionnelle des Applications des Liaisons de Données Air-sol.

Microwave and Analog Front End Technology.

MAFF, Maff
(British) Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Sometime in the 1990's, I think, it became Defra.

Majors Always First In Answering. A method of bridge bidding.

MAxwell's equations using the Finite Integration Algorithm. A program first created around 1980 to simulate how particle beams move through a cavity under the influence of RF fields. The code was developed by Thomas Wieland, using the ``finite integration technique'' (FIT), starting in 1975 while he was at Technische Hochschule Darmstadt. The original application was in the determination of the electromagnetic modes of cavities of arbitrary shape, filled in an arbitrary way with dielectric materials. This research was first published in 1977.

In 1979 Wieland moved to CERN, where he adapted the numerical method to other particle-beam problems. Over the next decade he continued to develop the program, which at some point was dubbed MAFIA. It's well-known code; anyway, it's not exactly my field, yet I've noticed it mentioned in a couple of places. Maybe if it had some other name I wouldn't have noticed. In any case, most of the information in this entry is cribbed from a 2009 <PhysicsWorld.com> article by Hamish Johnson.

Monotonic Array Grammar. A kind of picture grammar, q.v.. A subclass in the Chomsky-like hierarchy of isometric array grammars (IAG's).


  1. A tube of approximately rectangular cross section, for storing and carrying packaged IC's.
  2. A building for storing ammunition.
  3. A rigid tube for storing and carrying bullets; the tube is approximately rectangular in cross-section and can be clipped into place for automatic or semi-automatic loading. Also `clip.' Viewed from the side, the standard clip for an AK-47 looks like a sector of annulus. Hence the name ``banana clip.''
  4. Camouflage for a hammer.
  5. A bound periodical you can subscribe to at a discount at one of these websites:

Cf. journal and periódico. While you're there read on through the periodista entry.

magazine follower
A piece attached to the end of the magazine spring, separating it from the cartridges which are pushed upward in the magazine or clip, into the barrel of an automatic pistol. You were probably thinking of emitter follower. For a picture of a couple of big guns, including a ``six,'' visit this page.

Master of the Academy of General Dentistry.

Magdalene College
Well, there's one each at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. The name is sometimes pronounced maudlin. Samuel Pepys was graduated from Magdalene at Cambridge, and his famous diary ended up there.

According to Foxe's Acts and Monuments, William Tydale went up to Oxford in Easter term 1510 and was entered of Magdalene Hall, as they used to say.

MAp and GEography Round Table (of the ALA). Sounds like maggot pronounced in a hyperrhotic accent, so they don't accept any members from Brooklyn. That's why I got lost trying to escape Queens one day.

This way to the next ALA round table.

Modified Adjusted Gross Income. These didn't come bearing gifts. MAGI is a term used by the US IRS. If you need help preparing your tax return, try visiting the IRS website.

A VLSI CAD tool. A particular one.

Nickname of Earvin Johnson, Los Angeles Laker who retired when he discovered that he is HIV-positive, but returned to play on the 1992 Olympics dream team, and briefly resumed his court career in 1996. And then yet again for a couple of games when he noticed he still hadn't died yet. You know, basketball is not tiddly-winks; it's violent and people get cut and bleed, sometimes.

Magic is also the team name of the Orlando, Florida NBA franchise. Orlando's long-time star, Shaquille O'Neal (more at the amphorae entry), was recruited to play for the LA Lakers; they got their magic back. For a while, anyway. In July 2004, Shaq went back (to Florida anyway, and the Miami Heat).

Perhaps the essence of magic is contained in Arthur C. Clarke's ``Third Law'':

``Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.''

[In Profiles of the Future (1962).]

Of course, a little stagecraft may not be amiss (see VLIW).

magnetic ion
Ion of an atom which has an incomplete shell of electrons. Usually refers to transition metal ions with unpaired electrons in 3d, 4d, or 5d shell (in periods IV, V, and VI), which give rise to paramagnetism and ferromagnetism.

In solids at sufficiently high temperatures, magnetic ions give rise to paramagnetism. The spins in a paramagnetic material align (i.e., tend to align, on average) with the applied magnetic field H, and give rise to a magnetization M that is parallel to and in the same direction as H. The total magnetic induction B is therefore larger than the applied field H. This behavior is essentially the sum of the behaviors of the individual atoms, acting more-or-less independently. In paramagnetism, M is proportional to the applied field, through a proportionality constant called the susceptibility <chi>: M = <chi>H.

At low temperatures, a qualitatively different magnetic behavior occurs, which involves a collective interaction of the atoms: the field of an atom's oriented neighbors is enough to keep it oriented as well. As a result, there is a spontaneous magnetization M, representing the self-consistent parallel orientation of atomic spins. This is the behavior of an individual ``domain,'' which might be 1000 Å for Fe. In large samples, the behavior is complicated by the interactions among different domains, and hysteresis (history or memory effects) occur.

There is a qualitative contrast between induced-field effects in magnetism and electricity: in magnetic materials, the predominant sign of the effect is paramagnetic -- M reinforces H, while in dielectric materials it is opposite -- P diminishes the effect of D. The fundamental reason for this is in the sign of the force between similar elements: in magnetism, the Biot-Savart or Amperé (inverse-square) force law between two equal (parallel) current elements is attractive, while Coulomb's (inverse-square) force law for two equal charges is repulsive.

Other kinds of behavior occur, although metals with high magnetic-ion concentrations eventually (at low enough temperature) exhibit ferromagnetism. The transition from paramagnetism occurs at the Curie-Weiss temperature TC (capital tee, sub-cee, if you're not Netscape-enhanced), and is signaled by a divergence of the susceptibility as <chi> ~ 1/(T - TC) in the paramagnetic regime.

One-and-a-half liter resealable container for ethanol-water solutions. Twice the size of a regular wine bottle. Cf. jeroboam.

Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools. They confer one ``Distinguished Master's Thesis Award'' each year. MAGS has 160 members, as of fall 1996. I suppose I ought to update the entry. Illinois 23, Indiana 13. What sport is that? Oh. Iowa 4, Kansas 9, Kentucky 3, Michigan 16, Minnesota 10, Mississippi 1 (Mississippi State University has a satellite campus upriver?), Missouri 14, Nebraska 7, North Dakota 2, Ohio 21, Oklahoma 7, South Dakota 4, Wisconsin 14. As of January 2008, then, 148 graduate schools. About one school lost per year since 1996, unless I miscounted grievously then.

Member (of the) Appraisal Institute. The Appraisal Institute is the American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers.

Multiple Access Interference. Interference from other users of the same multiple-access system. Also called MUI.

Mycobacterium Avium Intracellulare. Alternate name for MAC, q.v..

mailing list
A centralized server of email messages. There are essentially two types: discussion groups and newsletters.

A mailing list for a discussion group is a common address to which list subscribers send a single copy of their message, and from which they receive a copy of any mails. This kind of system is also called a mail reflector. Discussion groups can be moderated or not. After political arguments nearly destroyed ANCIEN-L in 1998, for example, it was reconstituted as a moderated group, with postings being vetted by one overworked list owner. The attendant delays destroy some of the immediacy that unmoderated lists have. An unmoderated list on a decent server can reflect messages around the world in a few minutes -- i.e., the delays are just the usual email latencies. A moderated list is occasionally also used to create a low-traffic announcements list by selection of relevant messages from a high-traffic list (e.g., classics-m).

This file from a humor archive accurately describes the natural life-cycles of mailing lists that ever get large.

A newsletter is essentially an application of a moderated mailing list for dissemination of an email newsletter. A lot of organizations use moderated lists to send out advertisements to potential customers, directives and news to employees, etc.

The traditional mailing-list software is run completely by email commands -- one subscribes, unsubscribes, changes options, accesses archives, etc., all by sending a batch job of command lines in an email to the mail server. These commands are all supposed to be sent to a different address than regular postings, but a lot of subscribers forget. Listproc, and probably listserv as well, will bounce back mail that begins with what looks like a command (the words unsubscribe, set, etc.)

The most common software packages for traditional mailing lists are LISTSERV, ListProc and MAJORDOMO, in about that order. Trailing behind are MAILBASE, popular in Britain, and the quite rare MAILSERV (I've only seen it on vaxen). Mailserv or MailServ is also the name of a web interface for MAJORDOMO. This useful page describes the (generally similar) commands for these five kinds of mailing lists. The software often recognizes synonyms for the most common commands, and accepts unambiguous abbreviations (i.e., it right-completes the command name).

There are now a number of web-based programs that allow mailing lists to be set up, managed, subscribed to, etc. all via http protocol. The email protocol is used only to send the mailing list messages. In effect, the parallel tasks have been transferred from the list processor address to an http server. A few of these are Cool List, Egroups, which absorbed OneList and which itself has been absorbed by Yahoo! Groups in early 2001, PostMaster General, Topica, The Vlists Network, Lyris.net and ListBot (associated with MSN). (And in case you're wondering, these aren't in any coherent order that I can remember or discern any more.)

Otfried Lieberknecht maintains a select list of literary and historical mailing lists.

[column] David Meadows's extensive Atrium site includes a guide to Classics-related discussion groups, although he's almost as behind on updating links as we are.

An excellent moderately-inclusive directory of mailing lists is Publicly Accessible Mailing Lists (described at the PAML entry).

The largest general index of mailing lists (as well as newsgroups and chats) is probably Liszt, ``the'' mailing list directory. (Over 90,000 list listings as of March 2000, as well as 30,000 newsgroups and 25,000 IRC chats.) You know, I was just about to point out that apparently Liszt was written by Scott Southwick, and that he never gets any credit for it. Just to check, I followed the liszt link, and now (July 2001) I find that http://www.liszt.com autoforwards to <http://www.topica.com/>, Sic transit gloria mundi. Liszt was better, and it was sponsored by a disinterested party.

An extensive directory of publicly accessible mailing lists that use LISTSERV software is Catalist. There's also a directory of lists at Mailbase. Tile.net offers a search tool that searches a fairly extensive (and partly redundant) index, so far as I can tell on a cursory look.

The most appropriate place for list managers to discuss mailing lists is on the mailing list List-Managers, hosted by GCA.

<eList.com>, which sounds like it might be a mailing-list service, has changed its name to MessageBot!. It's a ``totally free service keeps track of the emails of people who wish to be notified of changes to your website.''

MessageBot! can be used to jury-rig a kind of mailing list also: If a site is set up to archive in web-accessible form the email sent to some address, then users who sign themselves up to be notified of changes at the site will effectively be notified in email of additional messages that have been posted to the site. They've actually automated a process similar to that: a web site where postings are entered via form (which they describe as ``the user enters their own email themselves'').

 If you own a website, you can sign up for MessageBot, insert the free code
 at your website, and invite your visitors to leave their email address in
 the MessageBot window at your site. 

mail itch
I've heard about this on the radio. They say medicated coal bomb cures it, but what exactly is ``mail itch''? I searched the web, but the hits all have some weaseling punctuation between mail and itch.

But here's a history of ITCH.

I scraped this entry together around 1996. At the time, I thought those radio ads were a bit crass. Ah, lost innocence! Wasn't radio personality Steven King, er-- Alan King, er... Mr. King -- wasn't he hawking ``medicated coal bomb''? Or was it Saul Palmetto? Whatever. Larry has been married 53 times, each time to a younger female. (The day he marries an embryo, there will be a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion for same-sex couples.) I guess you might understand his obsession with these products. See ED, run.

Please Mister Postman, look and see / if there's a letter, a letter for me!

main sequence
Not a sequence in time. More like a point in times. Main sequence stars are stars that conform to a relatively tight luminosity-temperature relation. At any given time, most visible stars -- 80-90% -- are in the main sequence. The main sequence was first discovered as an empirical relationship (see H-R diagram). It is now understood to represent the stable properties of typical hydrogen-burning stars.

MAJor. A military rank.

The International Monitoring System's (IMS's) code for the seismic station in Matsushiro, Japan. Probably not too far from MJAR.

MAJORDOMO, Majordomo
A free software package for mailing lists. It was intended to be and is bare-bones. An indication of this is the fact that while on LISTSERV and ListProc you switch to the digest by a set command, in MAJORDOMO you simply unsubscribe and resubscribe to the parallel digest mailing list. On the other hand, MAJORDOMO is free. Also, you can't set nomail and remain on the subscribers list while you're away -- instead you just unsubscribe. On the other hand, MAJORDOMO is free. There isn't even any support for archiving of posts. On the other hand, MAJORDOMO is free. (And you can get the Perl source code and play with it.)

Great Circle Associates (GCA) is the Majordomo home; it distributes the software, hosts support and development mailing lists for it, and serves some documentation.

Mailing lists at the University of Alberta are handled with MAJORDOMO; see their mailing lists page for more documentation.

There is a simple web-based interface for MAJORDOMO called Mailserv or MailServ. Learn about that from U Alberta's page. MajorCool is another web interface to Majordomo, from Conveyance Digital.

major world language
When Samuel B. Trieman (1925-1999) was Director of Graduate Studies in the Physics Department at Princeton University, he brought through the first students from the PRC. The university allowed departments to waive the foreign language proficiency requirement for graduate students who were native speakers of a ``major world language,'' but didn't define or provide a list of which languages qualified.

One day, a memo appeared in all the graduate students' mailboxes. In it, Prof. Trieman declared, by the authority vested in him as Director of Graduate Studies, that Chinese was a ``major world language.'' No one challenged this arrogation.

An intransitive verb meaning achieve sufficient enrollments to be offered. Said of elective classes. It might be regarded as a short form of ``make it'' or ``make the cut'' or both. In high school, third- or fourth-year language classes often don't make, depending the language and the school size. If you're a teacher with courses on the bubble, then you've got to work to ``keep your numbers up.''

A book of the Hebrew Bible. The last of the twelve minor prophets.

A highly characteristic copper ore: Cu2CO3(OH)2 with this structure:

                                              O -- H
                                     O -- Cu
                             O == C
                                     O -- Cu
                                              O -- H

or equivalently, since the bond angles and lengths are only drawn approximately and since structures rotate about single bonds,

              O == C

Green, and very pretty when polished. In English the name dates back to Anglo-Norman, and stems from the Latin word molochitis. According to Pliny the Elder, the Latin name was derived from the Greek word for mallow, a purple-flowered plant. Not only is this color association puzzling, but it's not clear that Pliny had the same mineral in mind. Even if Pliny's claim was incorrect for the Latin word, it is correct (because self-fulfilling) for Modern English. The Anglo-Norman form was melochite (the changed first vowel reflects medieval Latin usage), but English (as well as French) has respelled it to conform with the Greek word for mallow (maláchê). For something about the occurrence of malachite, see the Fahlerz entry. Another hydroxy-carbonate copper mineral is azurite.

One of the 22 scheduled languages of India with official language status in the state of Kerala and the union territories of Lakshadweep and Puducherry (official name since 2006; still better known as Pondicherry). (Regarding the last: Malayalam is only used in Mahé, the Malayalam district of Puducherry that is an enclave on the coast of Kerala.

Malayalam diverged from Tamil in the sixth century or earlier, but over time absorbed a lot of Sanskrit. Supposedly in consequence of this, the Malayalam alphabet has the largest number of letters among the Indian languages and is reportedly capable of representing the sounds of all Dravidian languages as well as Sanskrit. This seems an exaggeration: the script has only 36 consonant letters, and symbols to represent only 16 or 17 vowels. I can believe that this is enough to represent any of those languages individually, but only if the individual characters are interpreted differently for different languages. (Consider just two similar languages like German and English: both have 12-14 distinct vowels in their standard dialects, but taking, say, standard German and one standard English pronunciation together, there are typically about 20 distinct vowels all told.)

Sadly, Malayalam isn't a palindrome in Malayalam script.

Michiana Academic Library Consortium. The members are four Christian schools around South Bend, Indiana, including the University of Notre Dame. The others are Bethel College Indiana, Holy Cross College, and Saint Mary's College. (Bethel College is Protestant, historically Mennonite; the others are Roman Catholic.)

Not related to RMALC.

Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. What were they thinking? Mal has the same meaning as a prefix in Spanish as in English, mal is also an adjective and noun meaning `bad, evil.' The job of their ``education department'' is to educate parents in how to press for implementation or enforcement of court orders and legislation pushed by their ``legal department.''

Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization.

male masculinity
Mary insisted on reading me this passage, and now I insist on transcribing. Don't fight it. You know you want it. You can't resist -- and you shouldn't. You pulse with anticipation. Afterwards, suddenly,
... he realized he hadn't even gotten fully undressed. As her feet hit the floor, the ruined nightgown dropped to her feet. She looked up at him.

    ``I'm sorry. I was too rough. Did I hurt you?''

    ``No, I can honestly say that what you did to me didn't hurt at all.''

What a gift for graceful description and realistic dialogue! What subtle allusion! And no, ``his male masculinity'' isn't in that particular purple passage. But I remember. I remember Mary holding its pinkness (the book's cover) and reading and reading and how from between my teeth I let out a hoarse, longing moan (okay, it was actually more of a contemptuous laugh) and how I felt and--oh! I felt amused. But now I can't find the right sex scene (the bit above is at p. 201), and anyway the book is pretty homogeneous pulp, so I'm sure you can enjoy similar gems elsewhere as you stalk this one. (We're talking about The Bare Facts by Karen Anders, from the Harlequin B series, B putatively standing for Blaze. Price: $1 at the dollar table.)

A Spanish verb meaning `misspend.' In English, the verb waste has as one of its meanings a forceful expression of misspend. In Spanish there is no common alternative, so malgastar covers the entire semantic range covered by the two English verbs.

mall hair
Large bangs held up with hair spray, with wings and everything.

Memory ALLOCat{ion|e}. A C-language operator. Memory allocated with malloc() should be deallocated with free(). In C++, use new() and delete(). It's advertised as being a lot cleaner. The brand-x comparison I've seen is
int *x = (int*)malloc(20*sizeof(int));
int *x = new int[20];
delete x;


Latin, Mamercus. A praenomen, typically abbreviated when writing the full tria nomina.

March, April, May. Aggregated Spring data. Please don't tell me it should be AMJ. Anyway, it's climatological data from the Julian-calendar era in the instance of this initialism that instigated this glossary entry. At the time, Spring sprang sooner (eleven days sooner by 1600). Cf. DJF, JJA, SON.

Mathematics Awareness Month. April, presumably because that's the cruelest month. MAM, ma'am, is sponsored by the American Mathematical Society, the American Statistical Association, the Mathematical Association of America, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

Step-mother. Technically, this is Japanese, but it sort of works in a lot of European languages. In the Japanese, haha is `mother' and mama- is `step-.' Stepfather is mama-chichi (stop giggling or I'll tell your mother!) and stepchild is mamako (see -ko for more on the last syllable). Incidentally, the hyphens are just guides to the Anglophone eye. (There's a concept.) In Japanese, hyphenated words don't have hyphens (haifun) in them. How weird is that? Japanese doesn't use word spacing either, butforyourconveniencewegenerallydo.

The common European word mama is now recognized world-wide, even where no European language is a common first language. For example, it occurs in kyoiku-mama.

Mama seems to naturalize well. A woman who spoke mainly Yoruba growing up in Nigeria wasn't sure if the word was Yoruba or not. (It isn't.) I was asking around because Roman Jakobson claimed something like that the word for mother in all languages contains a nasal consonant. This is a trickier claim than it at first seems, because many languages have multiple words for mother, but it's easy to find counter-examples. I think Georgian is one.

Multicultural Association of Medical Interpreters of Central New York. ``MAMI has established a fee-for-service, not-for-profit language bank (agency) in Utica, N.Y. It offers professional interpreting services and translation of health-related documents to Oneida and Herkimer counties and, eventually, all of Central New York.'' I suspect that the name Al Jolson doesn't ring a bell with these people.

Literally `mother tongue' in Yiddish. `Yiddish' in Yiddish.

MANual. As in Unix ``man pages.''

Metropolitan Area Network. A Local Area Network (LAN) serving a range over 100 miles.

meiner Ansicht nach. German, `in my opinion' [IMO]. German has two postpositions, nach and weder, that function like prepositions but happen to follow their objects. Do not confuse the expansion of m.A.n. with that of m.M.n., which means about the same thing, or you'll end up with something like meiner Ahnung nach, which means `according to my intuition.'

Mid-Atlantic Nanotechnology Alliance.

The identification, specification, allocation, and coordination of tasks that will not be done.


man bites dog
This is a traditional definition-by-example of what news is: a report of an unusual event. A usual event (dog bites man) is not news. (It's human interest, and can be reported only if it helps the reporter score a political point.)

Most instances of the phrase ``dog bites man'' that occur in new reports are metaphorical. Nevertheless, the literal event does occur fairly regularly. One very common situation is that of criminal fugitives biting police dogs. The second-most common situation seems to be that of pet owners counter-attacking dogs that attack their own dogs -- dog's best friend 'n'all that. (For another sort of canine anthropomorphic dog fight, see the It was a dark and stormy night entry.) We'll be collecting examples of canine man-bites (whether they involve criminal fugitives or not) and listing them here:

Man may also bite dog that is already dead and probably cooked. Back in 2002, the World Cup was held in South Korea and there was a flurry of reporting about dogs as food there. Of course, that wasn't news at all. The South Koreans just need to work out a mutually beneficial agreement with the Australians (see dogger).

Michael Vick was a talented quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons until just before the beginning of the 2007-08 season. Unbeknownst to him, treacherous family and friends had been running a dog-fighting operation on his property. As a non-participant, his pseudonym was Ron Mexico. A Finnish fan of US football, it appears, has ransacked the gazetteer to offer a web-based ``Ron Mexico name generator'' here. He must have the right algorithm: it satisfies the only known condition. Oh wait-- I'm sorry, that was his alias in the genital herpes thing a few years before. After the court papers were filed, there was a brief vogue in sports gear bearing the name. There was even a poor fellow in Brighton, Michigan, an auto-parts supplier, who comes by the name legitimately. He was ``getting a ton of calls.'' He wanted to know, ``How do you pull a name like that out of the air? Use Bob Smith or Jim Johnson; there's 50 million of them. Out of all the names in the whole world, I wanna know how he picked this name out.'' It reminds me of Tonya Harding's ex. This Ron Mexico knows two others -- relatives of his. You can see where this is going: ``To Tell The Truth,'' 2022. The rollicking panel of washed-up celebrities will consist of Sean Penn, Christina Aguilera, Ben Affleck, and Kitty Carlisle, somehow.

Anyway, Michael Vick is not alleged to have bitten any of the dogs or given them genital herpes, but he's supposed to have killed some of them in unnecessarily creative ways. (I didn't even know you could kill a dog by hanging. Not very quickly, anyway....) On August 27, Vick took a plea bargain and reported a Jesus sighting. (He claimed he found Jesus, but I'm not sure Jesus had been reported missing. I heard he was expected back.) The reason the story merits discussion in this entry, besides the general association with dogs, news, and violence, is the chew-toy angle. By the time of Vick's plea, there was a ``Vick's Dog Chew Toy'' available online for $10.99 plus $2 S&H, ``made of state of the art `dog' material'' whatever that is. Melamine-laced and lead-base-painted, I imagine. With so little time to set up the tooling, shipping wasn't scheduled to begin until September 7, 2007.

The situation of a man biting a dog is a paradigm of the unexpected, but it has not always been used to define news. Relevant evidence was posted on the Curculio blog, which had an anonymous ancient Greek couplet on April 20, 2006. (You remember, of course, that Cerberus is a three-headed dog.) In translation: ``Even as a corpse Timon is savage: Cerberus, door-keeper of Pluto, be afraid lest he bite you.''

Coming soon (okay: eventually) to a glossary entry near you: Irving Berlin had a song entitled ``Man Bites Dog'' in the 1933 topical revue ``As Thousands Cheer.''

Multiple ANalysis of COVAriance (ANCOVA). MANCOVA is a combination of linear regression and multiple analysis of variance (MANOVA) in which the MANOVA is adjusted for the linear relationships between the dependent variables and the covariates. See, for example, M. J. Norusis, SPSS for Windows: Advanced Statistics, Release 6.0. (Chicago, IL: SPSS, 1993).

Not just an acronym; this would make a pretty decent family name.

Mandate of Heaven
A Chinese imperial doctrine that in late twentieth and early twenty-first century Florida and Texas governs the like-unto-a-god status of football coaches. If a coach use his power wisely and send in just plays, then his victories demonstrate that his benevolent but firm rule is righteous. If he have a losing season, then it demonstrates that he has lost the mandate of heaven, and may be ignominiously tossed out on his ear, or disemboweled, as the mob choose.

Similar Confusion philosophies are followed in the other seven states of the Southeastern Conference (Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina).

John Cole, head of the TFT, explains that in Texas, a school principal ``used to be anybody with a master's degree and two losing seasons.'' [Reported by Peter Schrag in ``Too Good to be True,'' an article on TAAS in The American Prospect vol. 11, #4 (Jan. 3, 2000).]

A Spanish word that means `to handle' in Spain. In Latin America, the word is used in the sense of `to drive [a vehicle]' (or to know how to). Cf. maniobra, discussed at the maneuver entry.

Also spelled manoeuvre (``chiefly Brit.,'' as we lexicographers say). I assume you know what this word means. My feeling is that if you have to turn the steering wheel or your shoulders one way and then another, then that's a maneuver, but only one way is just a turn.

Spanish has the noun maniobra and verb maniobrar, with meanings similar to the English cognate. Cf. manejar.

Mathematical Analyzer, Numerical Integrator, And Computer. An early (late 40's) computer at Los Alamos.

Mid- And Near-Infrared Array Camera.

mano a mano
Spanish: `hand-to-hand.' As in combat. NOT `man-to-man' with Spanisho lettero o-o. Sheesh!

Okay, okay: it does so happen that the English word man and the Spanish word mano (< Latin manus) are derived from the same Indoeuropean (IE) root *man- that has the meanings `person' and `hand.' One might regard this as an instance of synecdoche (hand representing man), but from the available linguistic evidence it is impossible to tell which, if either, meaning came first.

In fact, ``mano a mano'' can express, in a figurative way, a range of meanings like `on an equal footing,' some of which overlap the sense of `man-to-man.' There are lots of other such expressions. For example, mano en mano, literally `hand in hand,' means that or `pari passu'; de mano en mano means `from hand to hand' (literally `from hand into hand').

The Latin word manus is not, as one might suppose at first glance, a second-declension masculine noun. It's a fourth-declension feminine noun. Hence the Spanish word mano (like French main, etc.) is feminine.

Spanish word meaning `laborer' (obrador) or day-laborer (peón). More about manobra at the manobre entry. Right now I want to write about something different: the front-loading of the Spanish alphabet.

El Diccionario del Español Actual (edd. Manuel Seco, Olimpia Andrés, Gabino Ramos), publ. 1999, is a good, representative Spanish dictionary. It has two volumes: A-F and G-Z. The two volumes are similar in size, and there isn't very much front matter. The disproportionate share of words starting with early letters of the alphabet is typical. (Not that it wouldn't be very suspicious if it weren't.) In contrast, the xx-volume OED2 has a volume xi that begins with the Scrabble-worthy word ow, whatever that means. For my own amusement (you should skip over this to the next entry), I'm going to list the number of pages dedicated to words starting in different letters of the alphabet in the Spanish dictionary mentioned above (this one alphabetizes ll between lk and lm, etc.):

A   559
B   201
C   632
D   299
E   409
F   174

G   146
H   120
I   174
J    41
K     8
L   131
M   295
N    63
Ñ     2
O    81
P   425
Q    23
R   212
S   232
T   217
U    24
V   107
W     3
X     2
Y    19
Z    21

What the Spanish language needs is an exchange program with Polish.

Spanish word synonymous with manobra, `laborer.' The word (in both forms) is grammatically male. One can think of this as natural gender when the word originated, and conventional gender now. Of course, Spanish nouns ending in a are generally female. While there are exceptions, these often have Greek roots (e.g.: el tema, `the theme'; el siquiatra, `the [male] psychiatrist') rather than obviously Latin roots like obra and mano (see mano a mano). So the switch in ending is natural: either those hearing the word for the first time were led to suppose the word ended in e, or people familiar with the -a form felt uncomfortable enough with the final -a to use -e instead.

Yes, there are interesting questions here of what to do about conflicts of natural and grammatical gender, but this here is (a tangent to)n what I started writing about, where n is four or five, so that'll have to wait. I'd also like to mention manubrio, but I can't think what to say about it.

mano de obra
Spanish word meaning `manpower' or a restricted sense of the word `labor.' That is, the labor force (fuerza obrera) represents available manpower (mano de obra), and a finished product represents a certain amount of labor performed (also mano de obra). The French etymon main-d'œuvre, attested as early as the end of the seventeenth century, is used in the same way. An interesting oddity about these phrases is that they literally seem to mean something like `hand of labor.' A better translation might be `labor hand' (like ``farm hand'').

All these thoughts on hands in some genetic relationship to labor remind me ``of horny-handed sons of toil.'' No, the first of doesn't belong inside the quotation marks, but it makes a nice iambic tetrameter. The phrase sounds like something Carl Sandburg would have made up, but the idea that the working poor (anachronistic-term alert!) have calloused hands is certainly at least ancient and probably prehistoric. Here's an example from Trimalchio's first speech (ch. 39 of the Satyricon of Petronius). He prates that those born under the sign of Capricorn (capricornus means `goat horn') are ``wretches who grow hard facing their troubles'' (the Latin is ...in capricorno aerumnosi, quibus prae mala sua cornua nascuntur...). No, it's not a literal translation. There's too much going on to translate it all, and what goes on in English is different.

For one thing aeromnosus, which I translate as `wretch,' is derived from aerumna which is, loosely, a `burden' -- that is, a `task' or a `trouble.' Hence the connection with ``sons of toil.'' Also, prae basically means `before,' but is often understood to mean `in view of' or almost `as a result of.' I like to preserve the spatial idea of before-ness, which is why I use `facing,' which tucks a little bit of meaning into the translation that doesn't belong, in order to include something that does belong but that otherwise wouldn't be there. For a somewhat similar instance of the concrete notion of ``facing'' having different abstract, uh, facets, see the anti- entry.

Finally, you will observe that cornu means `horn' or `horny tissue.' (The coincidence of meanings makes me think of that roughly funnel-shaped neutronium thing in one of the ST:TOS episodes.) That Latin word is, in fact, the origin of the English word corn, but only in the sense of a local hardening, horniness, of the skin; other meanings represent other etymologies that happened to yield the same sound and spelling. Corn in the sense of grain is a cognate of Latin granus, with a common root in Indo-European (you know, it's the voicing/devoicing g/c thing). The word grain itself, of course, comes from Latin. English, as you will recall, is the vocable pack-rat of languages. Just as a common Indo-European root gave rise to both corn (via Germanic) and grain (via Latin), so a common IE root gave rise to horn (via Germanic) and corn (via Latin). [I'm making this a little more complicated than necessary in order to keep your interest up. Since you've staggered through my clotted prose so far, you can tell it's working.] All I need to do now is mention another pair of cognates, and I can pop a level of tangent discussion off the stack. The English verb harvest is cognate (again through a common IE root) with the Latin verb carpere (h/c again, like horn and corn, see?). Both contain the idea of `pluck, take for advantage.' (You know the verb carpere from the common expression ``Carpe diem,'' usually translated `seize the day.')

Trimalchio makes a pun on the word Carpe (in ch. 37), explaining that when he says Carpe, it is both vocative and imperative. (Carpus is the name of one of his servants.) Considering Molière's bourgeois gentilhomme, it seems that celebration of grammar, is a time-honored element in the stereotype of the low-born success.

I really don't know if there is any connection between Petronius and the HHSOT expression. Time to pop the stack again. ``Sons of toil'' (cf. hidalgo) occurs in English literature from the eighteenth century on, and seems to have had some kind of vogue among nineteenth-century poets. An interesting collocation occurs in Egbert Martin's ``Dawning,'' written in the 1870's or thereabouts. The second verse runs thus:

The horny sons of toil arise,
And labour's hammer rings
In honest music to the skies,
Like harps with iron strings.
While hoarse the shout of industry
Rolls like a billow from the sea.

Ballad meter. Anyway, ``horny sons of toil arise'' today suggests a rather different image than Martin probably had in mind. Then again, the OED has an instance of horny in the sense of concupiscent dating back as early as 1889, and this seems the sort of slang word that might be in circulation a long time before it happened into the literary record. One is reminded of the dialogue in Rock Hudson movies, when we see them again, now that we all know. Of course, some people never didn't get the jokes. Especially delicious is ``Pillow Talk'' (1959), in which the Rock Hudson character pretends to be gay in order to seduce the Doris Day character. At one point Tony Randall, playing the rival, gets to utter ``Need a light, cowboy?'' Mark Rappaport took an hour of these clips, spliced in unnecessary commentary mouthed by Rock look-alike Eric Farr, and released it in 1992 as ``Rock Hudson's Home Movies.''

Incidentally, earlier in that chapter of Satyricon, Trimalchio says ``May the bones of my patron [former master] rest well; he wanted me to be a man among men.'' (Patrono meo ossa bene quiescant, qui me hominem inter homines voluit esse.) Time to visit the mano a mano entry. (I mention this only for the benefit of those few who are not reading serially through all the entries.)

Standard British and widespread Commonwealth spelling of what is spelled maneuver in American English.

Multivariate ANalysis Of VAriance (ANOVA). Also Multiple, Multi-way and Multi-factor ANOVA.

MAN-Portable Air-Defense System. Soviet-made, shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles.

A kind of roof with a break in slope on each side, so it is steeper towards the eaves, and convex in cross section. The break in slope occurs on all sides--there are no gables (this general situation is called a hip roof); in the simplest such roof, for a rectangular building, the edges where the slopes of the roof faces change form a rectangle. The kind with gables on the end (a `double-sloped' roof) is called gambrel. You needed to know this. Nathaniel Hawthorn wrote The House of the Seven Gables. Mansard seems to be more popular in Europe than in the US, where gambrel roofs are most common on barns. Gambrel and mansard roofs are both called curb roofs.

Oh man, look gambrel up at the AAT. Talk about making a federal case of it!

manual transmission
gives you something to do while you're driving. The devil finds cell phones for idle hands.

Here's a related proverb, recorded in Vermont Is Where You Find It: One of the best things about quiltin' is that it gives the womenfolks somthing to think about while they talk.

Uh-oh... the PC-police lookout gave the signal. Time for some quick gender-generic repair.

Also recorded in that old book is the following hypothetical exchange:

Pg. 88: What do you do up here in the winter when the road's blocked?
Pg. 90: We just set and think ... mostly set.

Page 89, like almost all the odd pages, is given over to a picture. I've quoted pretty much all the text on pp. 88 and 90. In 1941 it seems to have been easier to ``write'' a book. About the text the ``author'' wrote ``Most of these stories and sayings I heard in Vermont, but that's no sign I wouldn't have heard them anywhere else in America.'' Or, say, France. (Even Orsay, France!) See the I dunno entry for more yokel communication studies.

Oh, if you wanted to learn something about manual transmission, or ``standard transmission'' as it is still often called, with some justification, you should have gone to the stick-shift entry.


The fractional (``decimal'') part of the logarithm of a number. From the Latin word (spelled with one ess) meaning make-weight, which is believed to be of Etruscan origin (the word, you nitwit, not the make-weight!).

Spanish, `handlebar.' If you just stumbled on this entry by accident, you've missed all the fun. Quick! Before the party is over, bop on over to the mano de obra entry.

[Football icon]

Man Under
A defensive football coverage in which the UNDERneath defenders are in MAN-to-man coverage. Further explanation at the Cover-2 entry.

A highly symmetric cyclic compound, bicyclo [3.3.3] undecane. It can be thought of as three n-propanes (three chains of three carbons in a row) plus two ``bridge'' carbons. Each propane has one end bonded to each of the two bridges. Altogether, then, an eleven-carbon alkane (undecane) comprising cyclo-octane rings. [One traverses a cycle of eight carbons by completing a circuit from one bridge carbon, through one propane (three carbons) to the other bridge carbon, and back to the first bridge carbon along one of the other three-carbon chains.] Unlike most molecules containing monocyclic eight-membered rings, this structure is not floppy. Its stable configuration has either exact or almost-exact C3h symmetry about the 1 and 5 carbons (the bridge carbons, each bonded to one end of each of the three propane chains). That is, the line through the two bridge carbons is a three-fold axis, and each propane chain is a rigid copy of its neighbors, translated a third of a turn about this 1-5 axis and rigidly rotated by the same angle in the same direction.

The two end carbons of each propane are aligned parallel to the axis, so that when the molecule is viewed end-on, the four bonds and three atoms of each propane chain appear as a bent leg viewed from the side -- the end carbons overlapping in one knee, with the middle carbon at the foot. Viewed in this way, the molecule as a whole has the form of a triskelion. The crest of the Isle of Man (traditional adjective form Manx, of course) is a triskelion. As far as I can tell, the trivial name manxane first appears in the chemical literature in a 1980 journal article by P. Murray-Rust, J. Murray-Rust, and C.I.F. Watt: ``The Crystal Structure of Bicyclo [3.3.3] undecane-1,5-diol and the Conformation of Bicyclo [3.3.3] undecane (Manxane).'' Their article concludes: ``We would like to dedicate this structure to the memory of the late Professor William Parker who first synthesised and named the manxane system.''

The 1980 article by the Murray-Rusts and C.I.F. Watt has an illustration of the Manx crest, though in the nonstandard orientation. All early representations of the three legs of Man shows them running (i.e., toes and knees pointing) clockwise, and this is how they still appear on the Manx flag and other official emblems. A distinctive feature of the Manx triskelion is that the legs are wearing armor -- at least the legs and feet are plated, and the heels have six-pointed spurs. (A triskelion of greater antiquity is that of Sicily. Its legs are naked and it has a Medusa's head at the center. See also AWB.) The Coat of Arms (technically Arms of HM in right of the Isle of Man) includes the three legs, which is an interesting thought. The Manx motto, associated with the island since about 1300, is ``Quocunque Jeceris Stabit,'' or `wherever you throw it, it will stand.' Like a three-legged stool, I suppose. It was reportedly in use before this date by the MacLeods of Lewis, ancient Lords of the Isles of Scotland. After 1266, these included the Isle of Man.

MonoAmine Oxidase. An enzyme that breaks down monoamines by oxidation. The monoamines referred to are typically the amines that function as neurotransmitters.

MonoAmine Oxidase Inhibitor. A drug like iproniazid, that decreases the effectiveness of MAO and thus delays uptake of neurotransmitter amines. A class of antidepressants.


Maintenance Analysis Procedure.

Maximum a posteriori (likelihood).

Media Access Project. ``A non-profit public interest telecommunications law firm.''

MethAmPhetamine. Yeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeah!

Microwave Anisotropy Probe. Scheduled for launch August 2000. Will eventually sit on a Lagrange point and collect data for over a year.

Mississippi Association of Physicists. It's the Mississippi Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), rather than a state section of the American Physical Society APS. This discovery sort of dovetails with the difficulty I've had finding interesting crossword puzzle fills involving Mississippi. Maybe it's just as well: ``Mississippi'' itself is already eleven letters.

Modo Asiático de Producción. Spanish, `Asian mode of production.' In some future expansion of the glossary, we may have an English acronym for this term. Don't hold your breath. I seem to come across a lot more Marxist literature in Spanish than in English.

Karl Marx introduced the theory that there is a distinctive ... gee, it looks like I'm going to want an acronym in English. Let's use AMP, provisionally. During the 1850's, in a series of articles for the New York Daily Tribune on British activity and politics in India, Marx introduced the theory of AMP. Okay, enough of that.

Morning-After Pill. ``Plan B.'' Extremely early-term abortion or contraception after the fact, depending on your POV.

Spanish, `map.'

Mexican-American Political Association.

Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan. Begun as MACTP, continued as UNMCP. The current name is the first that is explicit about the focus of activities.

Metropolitan Area Planning Council. Probably the one around Boston.

Multipotent Adult Progenitor Cell. Pronounced ``map-sea.'' Something like adult stem cells with the protean character of embryonic stem cells. Whether The term was coined for cells extracted from bone marrow and ``meticulously cultured'' (I haven't seen the original articles). It's not clear whether these cells existed in the marrow or arose in response to the culture conditions.

Management Application Protocol Data Unit.

Messaging Application Programming Interface. Not just any one, but Microsoft's standard, though hardly the sort of name that would yield a strong trademark (vide TM). MAPI governs how communications applications exchange data. To install and work with MAPI-compliant applications, the Windows user must first have set up Microsoft Messaging, a standard Windows component.

Midwest (US) Association of Pre-Law Advisors. Sounds uncomfortably similar to NAPLA. It probably takes longer to say ``MAPLA -- that's em as in Midwest, ay, pee as in Peter, el, ay'' than to just say the name. They might've called it MWAPLA. For other US regional pre-law advising organizations, see the list at SWAPLA.

``The MAPLA caravan brings law school admissions representatives to midwestern colleges and universities each fall. For undergraduates unable to attend the Law School Forum in Chicago, this is, for most, the only opportunity for them to meet admissions reps face-to-face.''

Russian, `little, few.'

There used to be a series of ads for a children's breakfast drink called Ovaltine, in which a child pleads ``more Ovaltine, Mom ... please.'' It does lack some of the poignancy of Dickens's gruel-starved young Oliver. (``Please, sir, I want some more.'') But still -- there's a mnemonic for ya.

I should probably explain why this is a mnemonic. This Ovaltine ad ran in the 1960's, and it seemed to me like a palinode for an earlier ad. In the earlier ad, naughty little Marky refuses to eat his breakfast cereal, so his dad starts to eat it with ostentatious delight, whereupon the child cries petulantly ``I want my Maypo!'' This Maypo ad debuted on television in September 1956. It has its own golden page at the online Breakfast Cereal Hall of Fame.

Of course, the Russian word transliterated mapo has a short a where Maypo has a long. But when we've got a great mnemonic like this, we dare not ask for more, now, do we?

Can be found on the web. They are also available from the census bureau.

The Bodleian Library at Oxford University has a map room.

Customize your own at Mapquest or Yahoo.

The Interactive UB Campus Map gives phone-book-quality maps for UB's two campuses. Detailed (room-level) campus maps for UB can be found at the Facilities Planning and Design site.

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. With stress on the for.

Multi-State Atmospheric Power Production Pollution Study, sponsored by U.S. Department of Energy.

Middle American Radical. The term gained temporary currency from Donald I. Warren's book The Radical Center: Middle Americans and the Politics of Alienation (U. Notre Dame Pr., 1976), who used it to describe a segment of the middle class. According to footnote 3 there, ``[t]he acronym MAR first appeared in an article in Nation magazine of August 17, 1974, entitled ``The Middle American Radical.''

It's not clear that the term MAR meant anything but what was then designated a (middle-income) conservative. On page 21, the essence of the MAR ideology was epitomized by the statement ``[t]he rich give in to the poor, and the middle income people have to pay the bill.'' Sometimes the MAR is described as a social conservative with liberal or even radical economic positions, but those positions (pro-Medicare, pro-Social-Security, etc.) were liberal in the 1940's. In the 1970's, US President Nixon was economically far to the left of anything we saw in the last fifth of the twentieth century.

To the extent that the so-called radical centrist attitude or resentment described above persisted through the economic expansion of 1983-1989, it seems to have been significantly reduced by welfare reform in the 1990's. Then again, maybe the economic expansion of the 1990's had something to do with it.

The term MAR never caught on, which is why you're reading about it here.

One exception was Samuel Francis, a columnist for the conservative magazine Chronicles, who used the term essentially for an America-Firster -- a social conservative like Patrick Buchanan, supporting isolationism, closure of immigration, autarky (if it can be implemented painlessly), and other actions intended to preserve a traditional cultural identity, etc. He published a collection of his columns as Revolution from the Middle. It appears to be the only or first publication of Middle American Press of Raleigh, NC.

You can find a favorable review of the Francis book here, courtesy of Ulster Nation, an organization advocating a ``third way for Ulster.'' This third way, as opposed to unification with the Republic of Ireland, or remaining a part of the United Kingdom, is independence. This political position, like every political third way, has at least the initially plausible appearance of not falling squarely within one of the two major pre-existing positions. However, as I need hardly remind you, ``Ulster'' and to a lesser degree ``Northern Ireland'' are shibboleths. The two positions that can command a committed following are the Republican (now usually called nationalist) and unionist positions. However, the desire of unionists is not the preservation of control by Crown appointees; it is home rule dominated by the Protestant majority and making less allowance for minority (i.e., Catholic) rights or preferences. (The precise sense of a word like ``less'' in the preceding sentence, and the question of how much falls in the two categories ``rights'' and ``preferences,'' are matters on which agreement does not appear likely during the lifetime of the author of this glossary.) The difference between the unionist position and the Ulster Nationalist position is really one of means rather than ends, or else a difference of degree of independence. These comments are off the top of my head and probably completely fatuous.

In ``The Radical Center or the Moderate Middle?,'' New York Times Magazine (December 3, 1995), Michael Lind even credited Donald Warren ('member DIW? source of the MAR term?) with coining the term ``radical center.'' (See excerpt here.) Michael Lind and his wife are famous for the landmark study Middletown, USA.

Spanish word meaning `sea.'

This word is derived from the Latin word mare, a neuter third-declension noun. In the transition to Romance, the gender system of Latin went from three to two genders and neuter nouns generally became male. That did not quite happen in this case. Unusually for a Spanish noun, this word can take both genders. Generally, mar is masculine to landlubbers and feminine entre marinos (`among mariners'). In addition, some figurative and sort-of technical expressions construe mar as female, presumably owing to their originating or being popular with seamen. For more on gender in Spanish nouns, see the D-ION-Z-A entry.

There's a bit more to say about mare, since it wasn't an entirely ordinary third-declension. It was an i-stem, meaning that the genitive plural ended in -ium rather than -um, that an ablative singular form mari could be used (alternative to the consonantal-stem-like mare), and that the accusative forms could be different as well. It seems to me that the unusual morphology might have contributed to confusion that allowed mariners to select a preferred gender on a more intuitionistic basis. FWIW, another neuter third declension i-stem is animal, which followed the general rule and became male in Spanish. The form of the noun that came to be used in Spanish, which does not inflect nouns according to case, most commonly resembles the Latin ablative (sing.) form. As animal and mulier (`woman,' Spanish mujer) illustrate, however, loss of a final unstressed vowel was not unusual.

One of the differences between English and Spanish is the relative abundance of different roots and substantially different words in English. Words related to mar illustrate this nicely:

              Spanish               English
              =======               =======
              mar                   sea
              marea                 tide
              mareado               sea-sick
              mareado               dizzy
              marina                marina
              marinero              sailor
              marino                seaman, mariner
              marino                marine
              maritimo              maritime

MAchine-Readable Cataloging.

MAryland Rail Commuter. Runs between Washington, DC, and Baltimore, MD. Cf. VRE, WMATA.

Multiple-Access Relay Channel.

A liverwort, not a country. As such, it does not have a TLA.

German neuter noun meaning `fairy tale.' Like most nouns (of course I mean like most German nouns -- must I repeat myself?) ending in -er, -el, or -en, it is first-declension. Since there's nothing left to umlaut, the non-dative plural form is identical with the singular.

marching method
In numerical analysis, ``marching methods'' are the generalization to higher dimensions of the `shooting methods' used in one-dimensional equations.

Nope. Forget it. It'll do you no good to look up the `shooting methods' entry because I don't explain that either. Bite the bullet and read a textbook.

Microelectronics Advanced Research Corporation.

Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Monterrey. `Museum of Contemporary Art of Monterrey,' Mexico.

Spanish and Italian proper noun that translates `Mark.'

  1. noun meaning `picture frame,'
  2. verb meaning `I mark.'

MARketing COMmunications. A popular term with marketing types. I'm not sure what part of marketing it doesn't include.

Mid-Atlantic Radical Historians' Organization. The MARHO Newsletter, first published in 1973, morphed into a scholarly (so I'm told) journal called the Radical History Review in 1977. (Related stuff at the SftP entry.)

MArs RadIation Environment (Experiment). One of three primary measuring instruments on the Mars Odyssey, a NASA probe that was launched on April 7, 2001, and went into Mars orbit on October 24, 2001. The other two instruments are a thermal emission imaging system (THEMIS) and a gamma ray spectrometer (GRS).

marine animals
Go fish!

marital fellowship
The head term is most commonly used as an uncountable compound noun, corresponding to the uncountable sense of fellowship. You can look that up anywhere. Here I just want to note the existence of a countable sense, arising from a jocular collocation of marital with fellowship understood in the countable sense similar to (countable) scholarship. Cf. PM scholarship.

Medieval term for two-thirds of a pound -- i.e., 13 shillings and four pence (13s4d, or 13/4). It was once issued as a Scottish silver coin called the merk. It ended up as the basic monetary unit (until 2002) in Finland (markka in de nominative declension, singular, I dink) and in Germany. In German, the word is capitalized like all nouns. (The word Mark is by far the most common feminine German noun whose plural form is identical with the singular form. If there is any other instance, it's probably some oddball borrowing from an ancient language. No, I don't have a particular example in mind.)

An advantage of marks over pounds is that they can be halved an extra time: a pound is 16 times 1/3 (1s3d). A mark is 32 times 5 pence. You could divide up evenly 128 ways with farthings, but it begins to look like there are too many fingers in the pie.

market cap
  1. MARKET CAPitalization. Total value of outstanding shares.
  2. Headgear for supermarket safaris.

Markovnikov's Rule
A rule for determining the dominant product in the addition of a hydrogen halide to an alkene. According to the rule, when the double bond is broken, the carbon with the most hydrogens gets another hydrogen, and the halide bonds to the other carbon. Sounds like the Matthew Principle.

Markovnikov is now the most common transliteration to English. Other variants include Markovnikoff, Markownikoff, Markownikov.

Mark Twain
Pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910). So far, he is quoted or at least mentioned at the entries for classic, extrapolation, hight (sic), ISI, Mark Twain, Mars, nonlinearity, optics, VLIW, V2, WJ, and YA.

Manitoba Association of Registered Nurses. The organization has changed its name (see CRNM) but MARN is still used.

married cable
Paired, but not twisted: parallel conductors separately insulated in plastic that holds the two together.

Cf. C.U.

The fourth planet. Here's a surprising thing: the orbit of Mars is much more eccentric than that of the Earth. Aphelion is about 1.67 a.u., and perihelion at 1.38 a.u. This means that the Earth-to-Mars distance varies by a factor of seven.

There was an unusually favorable opposition of Mars in 1877. That year, a few days before the closest approach to Earth, Asaph Hall discovered the two moons of Mars, which he named Deimos and Phobos.

Also in 1877, the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli observed some lines on the surface of Mars that he described as canali. That word may be translated to English as `channels,' which may be natural, or `canals,' which normally are not. In English, his discovery was typically (one may regard it as a faux ami) translated as `canals.' (See also the open channel entry.)

BTW, Schiaparelli was born and died in same years as Samuel Clemens: 1835 and 1910. The latter wrote in his Autobiography,

I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year [viz., 1910], and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don't go out with Halley's Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ``Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.''

(For a similar idea, less intentionally amusing, see BRAINIAC.) William Sheehan's The Planet Mars: A History of Observation and Discovery was published by the University of Arizona Press in 1996. The entire book is available to read free on-line.

Machine-Assisted Reference Service. A library automation system from the days before we were cyborgs.

Multivariate Adaptive Regression Splines.

Mid-Atlantic Region Society of Quality Assurance. It's ``a recognized chapter of the national Society of Quality Assurance (SQA).''

Metropolitan Atlanta (GA) Rapid Transit Authority. Once upon a time (1978, anyway) MARTA buses were very clean (which was difficult, because they were painted white). MARTA also runs trains.

The feast (and day of the MASs) of Saint MARTIN. November 11. WWI ended that day in 1918 (on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month). In the US, it became a legal (federal) holiday in 1938, under the name of Armistice Day. Kristallnacht, a night of riots, murder of Jews, and arson and looting of synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses throughout the Third Reich, began the evening of November 9, 1938. (It was originally planned to last two nights and end on the 11th.) On November 10, 1938, Enrico Fermi received the call from Stockholm announcing that he had won the Nobel Prize in Physics for that year. The timing was convenient, since with the imposition of anti-Semitic laws in Italy that autumn, the Fermis had decided to emigrate to the US (Enrico's wife Laura was Jewish). The Fermis sailed on from Sweden to the US (officially for a six-month stay), avoiding certain currency restrictions imposed by Italy. Good fascists everywhere were incensed that he shook the hand of the Swedish king, instead of extending his arm in the fascist salute. Newspapers published stupid political cartoons about how he must have injured his arm or something.

The Fermis boarded the ``Franconia'' bound for their new home on December 24, 1938. Laura wrote about this in Atoms in the Family. Exploring the ship with their children Nella and Giulio, they ``... called an elevator. As its doors swung open, we were face to face with a short old man in a baggy red suit and furry white trimmings, with a long white beard and twinkling blue eyes. The three of us stood still, fascinated, open-mouthed. The queer old man motioned us inside the elevator and then, with a benevolent smile, said to us: `Don't you know me? I am Santa Claus.' ''

Later, when she explained about Santa Claus to her children (``He does not ride a broomstick but a sleigh ...'' etc.) they wanted to know

``Will the Epiphany come to us all the same? She knows we are Italian children. ...''

``No, she will not. She could not get a visa and must remain in Italy,'' I answered on the inspiration of the moment.

``Poor Epiphany,'' Nella said wistfully, ``I don't think she likes Mussolini too well.''

When their ship arrived in New York, Enrico ceremoniously declared the establishment of the ``American branch'' of the Fermi family.

In the year of 1942, announcing the success of Fermi's reactor (in guarded language over a telephone) Arthur Holly Compton told James Bryant Conant, ``Jim, you'll be interested to know that the Italian navigator has just landed in the new world.''

Since AHC had previously indicated that completion of the pile was further away, he added, ``the earth was not as large as he had estimated, and he arrived at the new world sooner than he had expected.''

Columbus, on the other hand, underestimated the size of the earth, and it was partly for this reason that he supposed he could reach the Indies quickly by the Atlantic route. (He also figured he could take advantage of favorable winds off the West coast of Africa, but he couldn't admit this because an international convention between Portugal and Spain officially forbade him to sail that far South.) In 1492, Spain expelled all Jews living within its borders. (Actually, they also had the option of converting and coming under suspicion of judaizing and being tortured, confessed and executed by the Inquisition.) Columbus sailed from Spain on the last day for Jews to get out.

Columbus Day is celebrated (or observed, by those who object) on the second Monday in October. Traditionally, Columbus Day was celebrated on October 12, the day land was first sighted (the first recorded Columbus Day celebration in the US took place on the 300th anniversary of the day).

In 1954, the name of Armistice Day was changed to Veterans' Day.

MAneuverable Reentry Vehicle. The ``vehicle'' carries the missile payload. Cf. AMARV.

Marx Brothers
There really were five (5) originally:

Chico	(1891-1961)
(Leonard)	Shtick was piano.  Chico pronounced ``chick-oh,''
in reference to his hobby, or ``pursuit.''

Harpo	(1893-1964)
(Adolph)	Mute.  Most unbegrudged guest at the Algonquin Round Table.
Some links: 1 2 3

Gummo	(1894-1978)
(Milton)	Left the vaudeville act in 1915 because he stuttered  (so
		why couldn't he have had the mute role?).

Groucho	(1895-1977)
(Julius Henry)	Mr. Nice Guy.

Zeppo	(1901)
(Herbert)	A juvenile delinquent.  After the Four Marx Brothers act
		became the three, he eventually found more suitable work
		as an agent.

(One or more of the birth years listed above may be five years late.)

Visit the unofficial ``The Marx Brothers Page'' for more enlightenment.

Marx on matter
Translated by H. P. Adams from Karl Marx's Ph.D. dissertation, in Karl Marx: in his earlier writings (Geo. Allen and Unwin, London, 1940):
For it is in its center of gravity that matter possesses its ideal individuality....So that if atoms are placed in the perceptible world they must have weight.

No neutrino-mass predictions.

Marx died on March 14, 1883, the fourth birthday of Albert Einstein, who eventually had interesting things to say about matter, mass, and energy.

Pronounced ``emery.'' The same as n-ary, but for an integer M, probably an upper bound of some sort. What, there's another ``Mary''?

Master of Arts in American Studies. That's the abbreviation used at University of Heidelberg, anyway (see HCA).

Microbeam Analysis Society.

Movimiento al Socialismo. A Bolivian political party headed by Evo Morales, leader of the country's coca producers. (It's legal to grow coca in Bolivia. On the basis of my family's experience surviving in Bolivia, however, I would caution that legality there is a kind of interesting technicality.) Evo Morales was elected president in December 2005.

Spanish conjunction equivalent to `but.' Equivalent to French mais and Italian ma, but not much used. The much more common word is pero. I found that using ma in this sense was one of the tougher things to get used to in Italian (for me as a Spanish-speaker); fortunately, Italian has the equivalent però if you want to use it.

Spanish for `more.'

Museum Applied Science Center for Archaeology. Not much now (November 2002) at their particular website. They're part of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (UPM). Try there.

Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Preceded the laser, but not as telegenic since microwaves are invisible.

Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. Robert Hooker wrote a novel by that title, and Ring Lardner, Jr., wrote a screenplay out of it. The movie (1970) was directed by Robert Altman and starred Donald Sutherland, Elliot Gould, and other people you've heard of.

A way of writing MASH that suggests that no more graceful form of font-based emphasis is available. This form appears on at least a couple of different box covers for videos of the movie. IMDb gives ``M*A*S*H Gives A D*A*M*N'' as the movie's tagline, but otherwise seems to support the view that the asterisked form is the name of the TV sequel. That seems to be a widely held view. Of course, some other widely held views are that the TV show was amusing and not by turns treacly and insipid, so you can take that for what it's worth.

Without citing a source, this webpage claims that the asterisks were a publicity man's idea and were not in the original title. That seems likely, but it raises the question whether the asterisks were part of the initial promotion of the movie, or were adopted later. An original Polish movie poster describes the movie as a ``satyryczny obraz armii amerykanskiej w Korei'' (modulo some accents), and gives the title as M.A.S.H. Most other promotional posters for this movie that one can find on the web (here, for example) use asterisks. Probably most are unclearly or uncertainly dated, but all those that rely on stills or artwork from the studio (unlike the original cartoon in the Polish ad) seem to include asterisks. In some of the pictures that appear to be older, however, the asterisks are smaller than they usually are now, and are not centered vertically but appear lower. These could have been interpreted as slightly raised periods, though there were only three. Perhaps they were originally intended to emphasize (though one might have guessed it from the capitalization) that the title was not the nonacronymic word mash. It's worth noting that in Latin monumental inscriptions (of all periods, classical to modern), raised periods or dots have been used to separate letters of an abbreviation (so a four-letter abbreviation like SPQR would have only three marks in the locations where MASH has asterisks).

That's what I've found and thought of. Draw your own conclusions.

Obsolete name for a five iron (golf club). One number higher is a Spade Mashie.

Obsolete name for a seven iron (golf club). Between a Mashie and a Niblick. Just as of this writing, this entry is leading in the contest for entry of least personal utility to the glossarist.

``Over my dead body!''
``That would be a mashie-niblick shot,'' said Sidney McMurdo.
[P. G. Wodehouse: Nothing Serious, (1950).]

Meters Above Sea Level.

Minimum Aviation System Performance Standards. Specifies standards for GPS. Standard based on earlier Air Force specs.

mass affluent
A term used for marketing demographic. Specifically families, and members of families, with annual incomes of over $75,000 per annum (2003-adjusted dollars). According to the US Census Bureau, 15% of US households were in the ranks of the mass affluent in 1980, 26% in 2005. I didn't actually check with the Census Bureau; I'm just parroting an an article by Raksha Arora and Lydia Saad in the Gallup Management Journal. They explain that women in this demographic are ``smart, educated, and have considerable discretionary income,'' and they offer tips on how to sell to them. Something that I object even more strongly to than an ugly term like ``mass affluent women'' is the facile assumption that rich people -- even moderately rich people, IOW people fabulously rich by historical standards -- are smart. In principle, to the degree that smarts tend to help you get rich or marry rich or choose rich parents, there will be a correlation. So they might be smarter, if not smart. But in practice, not much.

One day, completely out of the blue, this woman asked me, ``why are you massaging my ass?'' Actually, I was just squeezing her sexy butt. Looking back, or thinking back, or whatever back, that might be the most thought-provoking question she ever asked me. Not because the answer was any mystery, but because the question was. (Yes, ``this woman'' was my girlfriend. Demonstrative adjectives are versatile.)

In my high school German class in 1972 or so, we encountered this beautiful word in a popular magazine (probably Bunte Illustrierte). It wasn't in any of our dictionaries. An Austrian boys' choir touring the US visited our class around then, and they didn't recognize this word either. They even denied that it was a word. Now there's the Internet. To all the people who have doubted me ever since, I can now say: google it!

(Sounds vaguely obscene innat context, doan it?) BTW, it means `massive motor-vehicle pile-up.'

Multi-Application Sonar Trainer.

Master of Arts in Teaching. It provides certification for some segment of K-12 along with graduate study in the academic area in which it is awarded.

Miller Analogy Test. Usually called the ``Miller Analogies Test.''

Moving Annual Trend.

Me!!?? ``Materialistic''?? Oh you are soooo wrong! I have a dream, and my vision is steadily focused on that dream! I dream of financial independence and security. The more securities, the better! It is a very unique dream, because it is my personal dream of my personal financial success, rather someone else's dream of someone else's success.

In a speech in 1913, Cassius J. Keyser (J. does not stand for Julius) explained:
``But does not the lawyer sometimes arrive at correct conclusions? Undoubtedly he does sometimes, and, what may seem yet more astonishing, so does your historian and even your sociologist, and that without the help of accident. When this happens, however, when these students arrive, I do not say at truth, for that may be by lucky accident or happy chance or a kind of intuition, but when they arrive at conclusions that are correct, then that is because they have been for the moment in all literalness acting the part of mathematician. I do not say this for the aggrandizement of mathematics.''

For a contrasting opinion, consider Aaron V. Cicourel, Method and Measurement in Sociology, p. 7 (New York: Free Press of Glencoe, 1964):

The research techniques and measurement scales of any science can be viewed as a problem in the sociology of knowledge.

A region of Bangladesh. Actually, Matlab is an upazila of Chandpur District in the Division of Chittagong. An upazila, as you may infer, is some kind of subdistrict, something like either a US county or, in states like New York and Indiana, a township. Matlab Upazila has an area of 409 sq. km.

I'm sure it's a delightful enough place, but I've never been. I only learned about it while browsing (this can be done by hand, my young friends) the June 2012 issue of Hitotsubashi Journal of Economics. The first article there was ``Sibship Size, Birth Order, and Children's Education in Developing Countries: Evidence from Bangladesh,'' by Cheolsung Park and Wankyo Chung. Here is the beginning of the abstract:

We examine whether the effect of sibship size on education differs by the individual's birth order in low-income countries, using details from Matlab, Bangladesh. Exploiting exposure to the randomized family planning program in Matlab for identification...

I have to say that I was momentarily disoriented. Because of MATLAB. Ironically, I was only browsing this journal as part of my randomized study of capitalization in journal titles on covers. Anyway, you might as well get something useful out of this entry, so here's the rest of the abstract:

...we find that sibship has negative effect on education [well, duh] and positive effect on labor force participation of the first and second-born children [duhble duh], but no significant effect on education or labor force participation of the later-born children [eh, makes sense, but it's beginning to be interesting, so I'll have to stop].

MATrix LABoratory. It's a numerical computing environment and fourth-generation programming language. It's widely used, but I'm not sure I'd call it popular. It's vile but useful. How is it useful? Years ago, when I used to hang out in the old saunas, err, computer clusters with their Unix boxes (SPARC stations, to give you a vague idea of the era) and hulking CRT's, I would notice that some students would log in to two adjacent machines and use them together. It turned out that they were slaving over homework assigned by professors of mechanical or industrial engineering who could think of nothing more educational or enlightening to assign than tedious MATLAB projects. The results were too large to view on a single screen. To paraphrase Ernest Rutherford, if they have to use MATLAB, you should have designed a better homework problem.

Mathematical Mark-up Language. An XML-based mark-up for describing mathematics in machine-to-machine communication.

Midwest Association of Translators and Interpreters. A chapter of the American Translators Association ``established in 2003 as a non-profit organization by and for translators and interpreters in the states of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.'' (For Illinois, however, see also MICATA.)

Mate is a moderately interesting verb, somewhat less interesting than the activity. And animals and electric cords can be mated, though generally not to each other. Also, when animals are mated, they usually mate -- even though they are ``the passive recipients of the action of'' mating, according to some old grammars' explanations of the passive voice, they are not so passive: they do the business of mating themselves. That's how it is with that sort of intransitive verb. The ``mating season'' of an animal is the time when the animal (speaking pairwise collectively 'ere, mate) mates. Except pandas. The panda mating season is a sort of window of missed opportunity: sometime during the mating season there comes a day, maybe two, when the female panda is in the mood. She could probably sleep through it, and when she's awake she hardly knows what to do about it. The males aren't exactly operators either. So mating season is what zookeepers call a ``challenge.'' They monitor the female's estrogen level -- she comes into heat just after it peaks. It's a miracle pandas survived before zoos were invented.

Massachusetts Assistive Technology Partnership.

Mirror Australian Telegraph Publications. Often listed as the source of stories in Australian newspapers.

Matthean priority
A term of art in biblical text criticism that originally meant, and should still be used to mean, the theory that the Gospel of Matthew preceded not only that of Luke but also that of Mark. Not a very popular idea among scholars.

Groucho (I mean Groucho Marx, not any of the other famous people called Groucho) said:

Those are my principles! If you don't like them I have others.

Cf. the Farrer hypothesis (FH), 3ST, and 2SH.

Matthew Principle
The principle that credit for a scientific discovery or other achievement goes to those already famous. [Name refers to the gospel of Matthew 13:12. In the King James version: ``For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.''] One example is the tendency to attribute every method and formulation of mechanics to Newton instead of distributing to Euler, the Bernoullis, Gauss, LaGrange, D'Alembert, Poisson, Hamilton, Jacobi and others the credit for their contributions. Similarly, Aristotle is often credited for the atomic hypothesis (developed by Democritus).

The Matthew Principle is in itself an example of the Matthew principle: in its elaborated form, it was introduced by Robert Merton. Another example is the old saying about ``standing on the shoulders of giants.'' The phrase is normally quoted in the form used by Newton, but is far older. Merton himself examines this in an exhaustively discursive ``Shandean Postscript.''

Like Matthews. Most often like Dave Matthews, the musician, and less often, but still frequently, like Chris Matthews, an MSNBC talk-show host. Matthews is not an unusual name. Cf. Olbermannesque.

Master Antenna TeleVision.

Medium {Adaptor | Access} Unit. Also `Media' same, but singular seems more appropriate. Hardware interface of workstation and LAN.

Million Accounting Units.

Multistation Access Unit. Also MSAU. Not necessarily the same as MAU above.

The properly mysterious name of the British atomic weapons project in WWII -- initially mysterious even to those who created it. When you give up, you can find the explanation at the related MED entry.

Maudlin College
Nothing so somber: a pronunciation of what is written Magdalen College, q.v.

Once while staying at Christ College, Oxford, I asked directions for ``Maudlin College,'' which was the only name by which I'd ever heard it called. When it was pointed out to me on the map, I couldn't see it. I said, ``there's just a Magdalene College there.'' It was very sweetly explained to me then that the pronunciation ``Maudlin'' for the college name is a popular affectation among the students. I am also informed that the ``Maudlin'' pronunciation is also used at Cambridge. There will always be at least a few who go by the spelling, so I am not surpised that many people outside the university (whichever university) think that the name is pronounced normally there (i.e., according to the normal pronunciation of ``Magdalene'').

Mars Ascension Vehicle. A special vehicle for celebrating the Feast of the Ascension in the Marian (Scots librarian) rite. Oh wait -- it's Mars with an ess! So it's a Marsian rite? Marcion? Okay, the guess method isn't working so well this time. I think the explanation at the ERV entry may be more accurate.

MAssachusetts Veterinary Medical Association. See also AVMA.

German: mit anderen Worten. With a crude literalness, this would be translated `with other words,' but it's equivalent to `in other words.'

The International Monitoring System. IMS code for the seismic station in Mawson, Australia.

Master Airway Bill.

Missile Approach Warning System. It is Winston Churchill who is credited with the famous remark,
There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result.

Mad About You. A sitcom.


May Week
A fortnight in June. A Cambridge (UK) tradition.

MA 00:1 -
Closes at 1 AM, but apparently still open now.

Postal abbreviation for the Canadian (.ca) province of Manitoba. Capital: Winnipeg.

(Mnemonic for capital: ``the Manatee is not a pinniped.'')

Maxwell-Boltzmann. Refers to a Gaussian momentum or velocity distribution assumed by a noninteracting classical gas in equilibrium. The distribution is the classical limit of both the Bose-Einstein (for bosons) and Fermi-Dirac distributions (for fermions). Unlike those quantum distributions, the MB distribution depends on the density or chemical potential only through an overall scale. The MB distribution is isotropic, and perpendicular components of momentum described by it are completely uncorrelated. The class of MB distributions (i.e., the set of MB distributions for all temperatures and chemical potentials) is the set of all distributions having these two properties. In other words, the MB distribution can be derived from isotropy and separability, with a scale fixed by any single nonzero-dimensional, nonzero (in practice: even) moment of the distribution.

Near-equilibrium ensembles of particles with a current may be described by a ``drifted Maxwellian'' -- the usual MB Gaussian distribution translated to have a nonzero average momentum.

The electrons in a nondegenerate semiconductor band, although charged, can be approximated as noninteracting, and satisfy the MB distribution. One thus refers to a ``nondegenerate electron (or hole) gas'' or semiconductor plasma.

Medicaid Bureau.

MegaByte. 220 bytes.

MilliBarn. A unit of cross section equal to 0.001 barn. Popular in nuclear scattering.

MilliBel. The common abbreviation, rarely used, for a rare unit, commonly used. That is, volume is often defined internally in millibels, but the integer that stores it is typically thought of in ``hundredths of decibels'' (dB, which see).

MotherBoard. Also politically correct equivalent MainBoard.

Mushroom Body. A structure found in insect brains that seems to be associated with the chemosensory system.

(deoxy)MyogloBin. An Fe atom chelated to a small protein.

Masters in Business Administration.

The ACBL publishes a Daily Bulletin during the Nationals. For Spring 2003, the Einstein's-birthday edition led with a story entitled ``Forget accounting: bridge is her passion.''

I suppose they should expand MBA as Mistresses in Business Administration when the holder is a woman.

There's more information about -- heck, there's information about -- the MBA at the GMAC entry.

MBA, mba
Michigan Bankers Association.

A popular South African dance music that can played during Scrabble® (according to OSPD4 and SOWPODS, which also agree that the word has a plural mbaqangas; TWL98 is not hip).

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

Molecular Beam Atomic Scattering.

N-(p-methoxybenzylidene)-p-butylaniline. A rod-like molecule that is in a nematic phase between 20 °C and 47 °C.

Minnesota Biomedical Business NETwork.

Merchant Banking Company.

The International Monitoring System (IMS) code for the seismic station at Mould Bay, Canada.

The slight linguistic divergences between the US and the British commonwealth have the effect, in a surprisingly large number of instances, of allowing homonyms to be distinguished in one orthographic tradition and not the other. For example, US usage distinguishes carat and karat, and preservation of the old form gotten as past participle of get allows this to be distinguished from the modal got. On the other side of the ledger, British usage continues to distinguish queane and queen (perhaps a bit more useful distinction in a monarchy) and also distinguishes mold and mould.

Museum of Broadcast Communications.

Model Business Corporations Act.

Carboxylmyoglobin. Carboxyl group (CO) bound to myoglobin (Mb).

Minimal Brain Dysfunction. Just don't throw any big words at me, and I'll be alright.

Minority Business Development Agency.

Minority Business Development Center. Vide MBDA.

MailBoxes, Etc. A one-stop mailroom-for-hire.

MegaBuck Epitaxy. An alternate descriptive name for Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE).

Member of the Order of the British Empire.

When I asked after one in a coin store in Cambridge in 1993, I was told the going rate was fifty quid. The perfect gift for the molecular beam jockey who has everything (or at least no more unused chamber access points).

Queen Elizabeth II awarded the MBE to all four Beatles on June 12, 1965.

Molecular Beam Epitaxy. PVD used for compound semiconductor growth. A number of individual MBE labs have homepages, including

The Epi-Center MBE group at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

The unofficial homepage from David Gotthold and the one from Alex Anselm, as well as the official homepage for Dr. Streetman's group's Varian at UT-Austin (visit their university homepage).

There's another Varian GEN II supervised by Prof. Ringel at the Optoelectronic and Microelectronic Materials Research Laboratories of the EE Dept. at the College of Engineering at Ohio State University (OSU).

When they finish constructing it, the homepage for the MBE group at the College of Engineering at Colorado State University (CSU) will be at this address.

Money Buys Everything. Another name for MegaBuck Epitaxy (MBE).

Multistate Bar Examination. It's multiple choice.

Manuel Bellisco Hernandez. A Spanish publisher of technical books. The publishing house (editorial in Spanish) and the retail bookstores (librerías) together are the Grupo Bellisco.

Editorial Bellisco publishes a Manual del Hormigón Armado (`Manual of Reinforced Concrete'; Manual de Hormigón Armado would be a reinforced concrete manual, and a good deal heavier). It was written by R. Ferreras, but for short, you could think of it as the Manual Bellisco de Hormigón (`Bellisco Manual of Concrete') and then you could recognize it from the MBH colophon. This is useful because the words along the binding are backwards... When an English-language book is lying closed on a horizontal surface, with the front cover on top, the lengthwise writing along the binding is right-side up. This is true in countries with right-hand-side driving and those with left-hand-side driving. (I would mention country where both left- and right-hand-side driving are common, but English is not an important language in West Texas.) A quick check proves that all books published in German, Spanish, Italian, and French follow the opposite convention. The great advantage of this is that if you have a multivolume work stacked on a table in order, with the first volume on top and all the front covers naturally facing down, then you can read the common title right-side-up (of course, the volume numbers are now facing sideways). An important exception to this rule is that books to teach English-speakers German, Spanish, etc., typically adopt the English orientation -- possibly because the books are manufactured by English-language publishers. If you've ever browsed a book-shelf that mixed the two orientations in comparable numbers, you'll probably agree that the greatest value of an orientation standard is not in its orientation but in the fact of its being a standard. Let me tell you, the EU was way ahead of you on this. In fact, they know exactly how much standardization is just right. In simple terms, it is this: globalization is bad; all Europe should be like France. First Brussels has to get the condom-dimension problem hammered down, so those things are not so monstrously large that they slip off Mr. Pencil, they will tackle book bindings. It's natural: they have to have you by the short hairs to get you to surrender sovereignty over your library.

But again to the manual/Manuel thing: Anglophones so frequently misspell the Spanish proper noun Manuel as Manual that at Amazon.com, some books are listed under both names: e.g., A Saint Is Born in Chima [or possibly in China], by the twins Manual Zapata Olivella and Manuel Zapata Olivella, tr. Thomas E. Kooreman; Self and Interpersonal Insight : How People Gain Understanding of Themselves and Others in Organizations, apparently by the father-and-son team of Manuel London and Manual London; Sounding Forth the Trumpet by Peter Marshall, David Manual [not credited on the cover], and David Manuel [no relation, I guess]. The anthology Menopause and the Heart includes Manual Neves-E-Castro among its editors, and has one Manuel Neves-e-Castro among its contributors.

This whole entry is going to be rewritten, but for now I'd just like to add that another way to describe how spine text on English-language books is normally printed is top-to-bottom. In Hebrew, writing is from right-to-left and as one reads, one turns pages on the left over to the right. (That is, books begin at what would be the back of an English book. This can cause confusion. Some years ago, I found a book of Talmud at the main library of UNM that had all the library markings upside down, so if you had no trouble reading Hebrew characters upside-down and from the bottom of the page up, you could open the book from the left and read it all left-to-right. Of course, a page of Talmud is segmented around a central text, so things are a little more complicated than that, but it was a nice thought.) Anyway, the point I wanted to make was that Hebrew books, at least the ones I've looked at, also have sideways text on the spine printed from top to bottom, which means that when you lay a Hebrew book down with the front cover up, you can easily read the spine text (unless you're more comfortable reading it upside down). The situation is more complicated with Japanese.

Max Born Institute.

An African musical instrument. I don't know whether it's a string, wind, or percussion instrument, but no matter what your musical training, I'm sure you can play it in Scrabble® -- you can even play multiple mbiras. (You can play it according to any of the three major Scrabble dictionaries.)

Medications and Bandage Kit.

Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

Monument Builders of North America. An association of memorial and memorialization companies dealing with creating memorials, tombstones, and markers. I still wonder how they dealt with their Y2K problem. (You know -- the stones pre-engraved ``died 19  .'')

Management Buy-Out. Meaning that the management team buys (a controlling stake in) the company, not that the company buys out the remainder of the management's contract.

Management By Objectives. Usually by conflicting objectives.

MacBook Pro. A line of laptop computers.

Materials and Bulk Processes.

Megabits per second. Note that the bit rate, or data rate, is not the same as baud rate.

Maximum Burst Size. Nothing to do with the Fourth of July.

Modified Barium Swallow.

Mortgage-Backed Security. Sometimes rather backless, more like a mortgage-backed insecurity.

Multiple-Blade Slurry (saw).

Main Battle Tank.

Molecular Beam Technique[s].

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Public transit operator in the greater Boston (MA) area. Once called MTA.

Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator. Sort of like a geek code for nonprogrammers, except that it's not especially informative. Created by Katherine Meyers and Isabel Briggs following the inspiration of Jung (God help us, the Swiss did not). Every person is categorized willy-nilly according to four binary distinctions: Extroverted/Introverted, iNtuitive/Sensing, Feeling/Thinking, and the Judgmental/Perceptive, each of the sixteen groups being labelled according to the four relevant letters -- ENFJ, ISTP, etc. Occasionally appears in personals ads. It's such a speciously plausible and ultimately misguided idea, it's surprising it's not more popular.

Here's one of many (approximately) equally otiose MBTI classifiers on the web. The one by David M. Keirsey seems to be quite popular.

Management by Wandering Around. Lording it over your subordinates. Euphemism devised by Tom Peters, an idol of management theorists and other philosophasters.

MatchBox TWENTY. Their first album came out in 1996. In 2007 they released an album entitled ``Exile on Mainstream.'' In case you're having trouble placing it, that's an allusion to the Rolling Stones' ``Exile on Main St.,'' a platinum double album released in 1972.

Marginal Cost[s]. The derivative of price with respect to quantity, or an equivalent measure (the difference quotient of the same functions, or simply the cost of a single additional unit of a discretely countable good or service).


Master of Ceremonies. More commonly ``emcee.''

An MC is sometimes an accomplished entertainer in his or her own right, and as such may have achieved mastery of some artistic skill. Unlike a Master of Arts, however, one may become an MC without first being a Bachelor of Ceremonies. I think.

Master of Counseling. The National Board for Certified Counselors Examination (NBCCE) handles national and state individual certification in the US. Curricula are usually more specialized: MC/CC -- Community Counseling,
MC/MFCC -- Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling,
MC/MFT -- Marriage and Family Therapy,
MC/MHC -- Mental Health Counseling.

M.C., MC
Medium-Capacity (bomb). WWII RAF designation for a bomb that was 40-50% explosive by weight. Hence, the term is also sometimes expanded ``Medium-Casing.'' MC bombs were made in 500-lb, to 2000-lb. sizes. Continue reading now at the CWR entry or you'll be sorry.

Medium Coeli. Latin, `center of the sky.' The point of the Zodiac which is closest to the zenith.

Member of Congress. That is, a congressman, congresswoman, or congressperson (in the cases of male, female, or other congresspeople, resp.). MC is a rather unusual abbreviation, for obvious reasons too tedious to enumerate.

Michigan City, Indiana. A city on the southeast shore of Lake Michigan, southwest of Michigan.

(Domain code for) Monaco. A principality containing Monte Carlo, and more royal scandals per square meter than London.

MonoChorionic. To understand what this means, see the mo-mo entry.

Monte Carlo.

MotorCycle. In Indiana, riding an MC with improper headgear is a 4-point violation -- as bad as driving 16 to 25 mph over the speed limit. Since most MC drivers don't wear any headgear at all, I guess ``improper headgear'' refers to driving under the influence of Carmen Miranda (CM).

Motorola Chip prefix.

Multiple Choice. A type of test question in which the test-taker must choose answers from among a finite and usually small set. Some or all of the answers offered are wrong. Also known as ``multiple guess.''

Don't know yet what the M C A stand for in MCA Records, but that's no reason why I should withold a link, I suppose.

Micro Channel Architecture (IBM).

Monetary Compensatory Amount. A part of the EU's common agriculture policy (CAP) back when it was the EEC. MCA's were subsidies designed to shelter farmers from exchange-rate movements. They were especially intended to protect German farmers from being undercut by farmers in EEC countries with weaker currencies than the DM (i.e., all other EEC countries). MCA's were phased out after some haggling in 1984-5. (Nowadays, of course, all Euroland has a common currency, so there are no exchange-rate issues and everyone is happy;-)

MultiChannel Access. Super-duper walkie-talkie.

MultiChannel Analy{s|z}er.

Mid-Continent Athletic Conference.

Mechanical (Engineering) Computer-Aided Design (CAD).

Mine-Clearing Armor-Protected. As in ``MCAP dozer.''

Marine Corps Air Station.

Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System. State exams in mathematics and in English and language skills, that a student must pass to be graduated from high school.

Medical College Admission Test. A day-long punishment administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) to students craving admission to medical school.

Mendoza College of Business. Alternate abbreviation for MCoB, q.v. I've seen both initialisms used on the same announcement.

Muslim Council of Britain.


Men's Classical Caucus. A nonexistent organization. (Cf. WCC.) Not to be confused with the Mens Classical Caucus -- the organization dedicated to promoting thoughtfulness within the APA. This organization is also nonexistent.

For more thoughts on mens, see the ASICS entry.

Microelectronics & Computer Consortia.

Mortgage Credit Certificate.

Mott Community College. In nearby Flint, Michigan. The first question on the homepage is ``Why MCC?'' Why indeed. One answer: ``MCC is the only college in the world (have they checked in Pakistan?) with the mission to serve the residents of the 21 schools districts in Genesee County [Michigan].'' Hey -- if you graduated from high school in Genesee -- you're in like Flint!

``In 1950 Charles Stewart Mott gave $1 million to develop Flint Junior College into a four-year institution in collaboration with the University of Michigan...''

Today, MCC is still a two-year college, but for a bunch of years it provided facilities for the University of Michigan -- Flint.

Master of Counseling in Community Counseling.

MultiCarrier Code-Division Multiple Access (CDMA). A hybrid of DS/CDMA and OFDMA.

Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Executives. See ACCE.

Malay Chamber of Commerce in Malaysia. Cf. ACCCIM.

MilliCanDela. A unit of light intensity.

Magnetic Circular Dichroism.

Malaysian Central Depository.

Minor Civil Division. The US Census Bureau's concept most closely approximating the civil concept of a township (in its most common North American sense).

Here's some text from Places, Towns and Townships (Lanham, Md.: Bernan, a division of The Kraus Organization Limited [I wonder if they use ``TKO''], 3/e, 2003), ed. Deirdre A. Gaquin and Katherine A. DeBrandt. Specifically, it's from the two-page Appendix A.

The primary political divisions of most states are termed counties. Minor civil divisions (MCDs) are the primary governmental or administrative divisions of a county in many states (parish in Louisiana). MCDs represent many different kinds of legal entities with a variety of governmental and/or administrative functions. MCDs are variously designated as American Indian reservations, assessment districts, boroughs, charter townships, election districts, election precincts, gores, grants, locations, magisterial districts, parish governing authority districts, plantations, precincts, purchases, road districts, supervisors' districts, towns, and townships. [Especially townships, in like 33 states.] In some states, all or some incorporated places are not located in any [state-defined] MCD (independent places) and thus serve as MCDs in their own right [for census purposes]. In other states, incorporated places are part of the MCDs in which they are located (dependent places), or the pattern is mixed--some incorporated places are independent of MCDs and others are included within one or more MCDs. In Maine and New York, there are American Indian reservations and off-reservation trust lands that serve as MCD equivalents; a separate MCD is created in each case where the American Indian area crosses a county boundary. [Exhale.]

If you want to see where the MCD's are on a map, you want to travel to the Lima entry for bibliographic details of Township Atlas of the United States.

Roman numeral for the number 1400.

Thousand (M) Cubic Feet. Abbreviation of unit used for gas fuel consumption. CCF.

Molten-Carbonate Fuel Cell. A fuel cell (FC) in which the electrolyte is molten carbonate. Experimental MCFC's operate around 650°C and the charge carriers are carbonate ions -- (CO3)2-. Like FC's with solid-oxide electrolyte (SOFC), MCFC's can be used to combust carbon monoxide.

MC & G
Mapping, Charting, and Geodesy.

Apparently offers no more than a gopher site on line.

Maternal and Child Health.


Maternal and Child Health Board. Part of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Currently charged with administering Title V of the Social Security Act (enacted 1935), which authorized the creation of the Maternal and Child Health Services programs.

For actual information, see the Title V Information System maintained by the NCEMCH.

Movimiento Comunitario para el Hábitat Popular. `Community movement for the people's habitat,' an Argentine organization. Hey, I just translate it; I don't know what it means.

Marion County (Kentucky) High School. Here Internet Explorer is more informative on the status bar than Netscape Navigator. IE reports ``Done, but with errors on the page.''

``The faculty believes that each person is endowed with an intellect;'' -- whoa, stop the press! -- ``hence [logic in action!], the educational process of MCHS students is to develop that individual to the greatest possible degree in the mental, physical, ethical, and social aspects of his or her personality.''

Look, I realize that it's extremely unfair to take what's posted prominently on the MCHS web page and reproduce it here accurately for your amusement. So I want you to know that I'm not holding Kentucky up for special scorn. In the Boston area there's a school principal who has suspended a dozen of his teachers without pay because they've failed the state English competency tests, but he himself has failed them in a number of tries (as of early August 2003). He makes excuses and says it's ``frustrating,'' but I haven't seen the word ``embarrassing'' there yet.

``MCHS has as its philosophy the desire to meet adequately the needs of each individual student.''

Media Control Interface. What the White House Spokesperson tries to be.

MicroPhone Included.

[Phone icon]

Microwave Communications Incorporated. Merged with WorldCom 1997-1998 to become MCI Worldcom, a provider of long-distance telephone service, and later internet service. While WorldCom has been in bankruptcy, they've taken the name MCI as less tainted.

The original name MCI reflects the history of the break-up of Ma Bell: when AT&T was a regulated monopoly, it charged businesses relatively high rates for long-distance service. Microwave links made this service cheap, and discounters competed for the business long-lines service. After years in anti-trust litigation, ATT agreed to be broken up (into seven original baby Bells that provided local service, ATT long lines, Bell Labs -- which last became Lucent -- and I forget what else; some other Bell Labs -- i.e., not in Murray Hill, NJ -- became corporate labs for Western Electric and whatnot). Part of the stated motive for agreeing to the break-up was the perception that increasing competition in long-distance services was draining the profit from ATT's most lucrative business while regulation as a monopoly prevented it from competing in emerging businesses.

Mild Cognitive Impairment. Like having a slight buzz on, but with dimmer prospects for recovery.

Montessori Centre International, based in London. You know, not all of these many Montessori organizations go by an acronym. For example, there's the Montessori Foundation based in Florida, established in 1992 by four leaders of the AMS. You don't think I'm going to put a separate entry in for every one, do you?

Master in Communication and Information Studies.

Maximum Contaminant Level.

MonoCLinic. A crystal lattice; not a clinic specializing in mononucleosis.

Much {C|K}lown Love. Obscene variants (maybe I should write that using the standard illiterate plural form variant's -- nah) exist, such as MMCL or MMFCL.

Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) Goal.

Microsoft-Certified Latrine Scrubber.

Midwest Collaborative for Library Services. Yeah, ``Collaborative'' is a substantive here. MCLS has a popular Cataloging Certification Program.

Monroe County (Michigan) Library System.

Metropolitan Council of Low Vision Individuals. New York affiliate of the CCLVI, I kid you not.

Mine CounterMeasures.

Molecular Crystal Model. A Hamiltonian for polaron studies, introduced by T. Holstein [Ann. Phys.(N.Y.) 8, 325 (1959)]. Tight-binding electron Hamiltonian with local linear coupling to phonon.

MultiChip Module. A package in which bare chips are bonded and interconnected directly on the substrate. Cf. SCM.

Master of Counseling with a specialization in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling. Seems to be the most common of the MC's.

Master of Counseling in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Master of Counseling in Mental Health Counseling.

Microelectronics Center of North Carolina.

Master Certified Novell Engineer (CNE).

Mean Cumulative Number of Failures.

{ Magnetically | Magnetic-field }-Controlled Oscillator.

Managed Care Organizations.

Mendoza College Of Business. The B-school of the University of Notre Dame. The acronym is pronounced ``EM cob.'' Alternative initialism: MCB. Previous acronym: COBA.

Machine Control Panel.

Male Chauvinist Pig.

MetaCarpoPhalangeal. I.e., of the metacarpus (or metacarpi) and phalanx (or phalanges). Or maybe instead of `of the phalanx (or phalanges)' that should read phalagis (vel phalangum). Those Romans must have been real anatomy wizards.

(Japanese) Molecular Computation Project.

MultiChip Package. See MCM.

MicroChannel Plate[s].

Multiple Colliding-Pulse Mode-lock{ ing | ed laser }. See, for example, J. F. Martins-Filho, E. A. Avrutin, C. N. Ironside, and J. S. Roberts, ``Monolithic Multiple Colliding Pulse Mode-locked Quantum-Well lasers: Experiment and Theory'' IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics, vol. 1, pp. 539-551, (1995).

Cf. KLM.

Microstrip CoPlanar Waveguide.

Multiple Choice Question[s].

Minimum Cell Rate.

Material Control System.

Message, Command, Status.

Method of Corresponding { States | Solutions }.

Multicell Convective (storm) System.

MultiChannel Spectrometer.

MultiChannel Scaling. A feature of some optical multichannel analyzers (MCA).

Multiple Chemical Sensitivit{y|ies}. Allergy to many slightly volatile, usually organic (plastic) modern blessings. Also ``environmental illness.'' Controversial. This page is from a group that says it's real.

Multiple Configuration Self-Consistent Field (SCF) calculation. Another name for CASSCF, q.v..

Microsoft-Certified Solution Developer. Why be so negative? Program for fun, not to solve some suit's wretched little ``problem.''

Microsoft-Certified Solution DataBase Administrator.

Microsoft-Certified Systems Engineer. Corresponds to Novell's CNE.

Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff's Office.

Manufacturers Council of Small School Buses. An NTEA group formed in 1990 ``to address various small school bus issues and work with federal agencies and other industry groups in revising existing standards and developing new standards that affect the industry.''

Mercury Cadmium Telluride. [Usually called ``Mercadtel'' in colloquial speech.] A common II-VI alloy semiconductor. Mercury telluride (HgTe and cadmium telluride (CdTe) have similar lattice constants (6.373 Å and 6.482 Å, respectively), and form a stable ternary (pseudobinary) at all intermediate concentrations, with zero bandgap at about Hg0.2Cd0.8Te.

MOS-Controlled Thyristor.

Mean Cell Transfer Delay.

Multi-Center Traffic Management Advisor.

MicroController Unit.

Multipoint Control Unit.

Magnetic CZochralski. Semiconductor growth method.

Managing Director.

Music Club of Westfield (New Jersey).

MD, Md.
Maryland. USPS state code (capitals, no period) and ordinary abbreviation (mixed case, punctuated).

Maryland Electronic Capital is a good starting point for official information. The Villanova University Law School provides some links to state government web sites for Maryland. USACityLink.com has a page with mostly city and town links for the state.

A clickable map of the state's counties is served by Historic Inns & Famous Homes of Maryland. Another one is served by Maryland Electronic Capital.


One way to categorize business environments is by considering whether their market and technological environments are stable or volatile. Not that these questions always have definite answers, but it might be a useful idealization for puposes of discussion or of writing a speciously convincing business plan.

If both market and technology are stable, then the environment is dull, and the organization that deals with it is ``hierarchical'' or ``bureacratic.'' That doesn't sound very good, but it's a flattering way to describe the challenges faced by the Dusty Ridge, Oklahoma news-stand.

If both market and technology are volatile, you can say the environment is dangerous, and the organization must be ``flexible'' or ``dynamic'' or at least have its résumé up to date.

If either the market or the technology environment is volatile, and the other is stable, then the organization that is supposed to best suited to deal with it is ``mixed.'' Whatever is volatile dominates changes and drives decision-making. Hence `MD mixed'' and ``TD mixed'' organizations.

MD, M.D.
Medical Doctor. As opposed to a Ph.D., say.

Chemical symbol for the element Mendelevium. Atomic number 101. An actinide.

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

Ministry of Defence (US spelling Defense.)

Misfit Dislocation[s].

(Domain code for) Moldova.

Molecular Diversity. Affirmative Action for the really little guy.

Muscular Dystrophy. Related entry: MDA.

Magen David Adom. Red Star-of-David. The Israeli organization that corresponds to the Red Cross or the Red Crescent in other countries, but which is essentially blackballed from ordinary membership in the International Red Cross.

Mail Delivery Agent.

Missile Defense Administration. Within the US DoD.

Monochrome Display Adapter. History marches on.

Muscular Dystrophy Association. It's ``a voluntary health agency -- a dedicated partnership between scientists and concerned citizens aimed at conquering neuromuscular diseases that affect more than a million Americans.'' I didn't realize that the word agency still had enough cachet for an NGO to want to use it in self-description.

``MDA was created in 1950 by a group of adults with muscular dystrophy, parents of children with muscular dystrophy, and a physician-scientist studying the disorder. Since its earliest days it has been energized by its number-one volunteer and national chairman, entertainer Jerry Lewis.

The Association's programs are funded almost entirely by individual private contributors. MDA seeks no government grants, United Way funding or fees from those it serves.''

MDA is best known for its annual Labor Day telethon, still hosted in 2005 by Jerry Lewis, age 79. In the telethon context, children suffering from MD are ``Jerry's kids.''

``First broadcast over Labor Day weekend in 1966 by a lone TV station in New York City, the unique event starring popular comedian Jerry Lewis quickly caught the public's attention -- and raised more than $1 million in pledges.''

Momentum Distribution of (electron-positron) Annihilation Pairs. Measured in positron annihilation studies.

Multilateral Development Bank. Like the World Bank (WB).

Microcomputer DataBase System.

Major Diagnostic Category.

Management Document Collection. Something to do with the Special Libraries Association (SLA). What's that, the pile of papers scattered on the boss's desk? That's special.

Movement for Democratic Change. A Zimbabwean movement led by Morgan Tsvangirai, still free (charged with treason, out on bail) as of June 4, 2003.

Media Device Control Protocol. See MAC about ``Media.''

Major Depressive Disorder.

Medium-Doped [MOSFET] Drain.

Spanish, millones de dólares, `millions of dollars.' E.g., in 1997, according to Forbes, the boxer Oscar de la Hoya (``the pride of East LA'') ganó 38 mdd., placing him third among rich athletes.

Go here if you want to find out how much that is in American money. (Short answer: a lot.)

Ministerio de Defensa de España. `Ministry of Defense of Spain.'

Main Distribution Frame.

(South African) Media Defence Fund. An FXI subcommittee that continues some of the work of the earlier MDT (Trust).

Medium-Density Fiberboard. A building construction material. Wood fiber embedded in a binder (typically a synthetic ``resin'' or plastic) under heat and pressure. Density 30-55 lb./cu.ft. (Water has a density of 62 lb./cu.ft.) MDF is available in thicknesses up 2 in. Cf. Particleboard (PB) is made the same way generally, but with wood particles, or a mix of particles and fibers, instead of only wood fibers. Hardboard is denser, and uses only fibers and the naturally occurring lignin as binder. See S1S (hardboard smooth on one side) entry. The LMA's downloadable glossary had more information; it may have migrated to the CPA website after the merger in 2004, but I haven't had time to check.

Medical Doctor Global Assessment. When written out or spoken, this is more likely to be called a `physician global assessment.' However, a related metric is the patient global assessment (PGA); evidently the MD abbreviation is used to maintain a distinction in the initialisms.

Migration Data Host.

Methylene DiIsocyanate. A hard constituent in copolymer polyureas.

{ MultiDocument | Multiple Document } Interface. (MS Windows term.) Cf. SDI.

[MDIP image from http://www.nsc.com/pkg/gifs/mdip.gif]

Molded Dual-In-Line Package. See National Semiconductor's specs. Their illustration is above.


Maryland (MD) chapter of Junior Classical League.

MDJCL sponsors the Medusa Mythology examination.

Method Detection Limit.

Minimum Description Length. See J. Rissannen, ``A universal data compression system,'' IEEE Trans. Inf. Theory, vol. 29(#5), pp. 656-664 (Sep. 1983).

Medical Decision Making. A journal.

Multidimensional Microscopes and Maize Structures Research Group.

Mitochondrial DNA. Mitochondria are one of a small class of cell organelles that function like symbiotes in the cells that contain them, reproducing asexually in a process distinct from the host's reproduction, and carrying their own DNA. Mitochondria generally come from the egg in sexual reproduction, so they are passed strictly along the maternal line. (How that happens is still unclear. For a long time it was claimed that the sperm mitochondria are jettisoned at fertilization, but the direct evidence for that is apparently not so clear.)

The simple genetics of maternal-line heredity makes mDNA an attractive subject for archaeogenetic studies. Another attraction is that the typical human cell has about a thousand mitochondria, so there's more DNA material to work with.

Millennium Democratic Party. One of South Korea's major political parties. In December 2002, human-rights lawyer Roh Moo-hyun won election as president on the MDP ticket. In 2003, MDP split, leaving the part with 62 seats in the 273-member National Assembly, while 46 suporters of Mr. Roh bolted to form the new ``Uri'' party. Roh left the MDP in September 2003, but had not formally joined Uri as of March 2004.

Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Marina del Rey. Abbreviation in California classified ads. Cf. PdR.

MultiDrug-Resistant (TB). See MDR-TB.

Mark Diamond Research Fund.

MultiDrug-Resistant TB. When it appeared in the 1990's it was defined as TB with resistance to the first-line TB drugs isoniazid and rifampin. Cf. XDR-TB.

MyeloDysplastic Syndrome.


(South African) Media Defence Trust. Founded in 1988 and now defunct. An NGO that served during the apartheid era as a legal defense fund for South African journalists and as a lobbying/research organization during the transition to majority rule. Some of the work of this organization is continued by the MDF (... Fund) of FXI.

Multi-Drug Therapy.

Miami-Dade (formerly Metro Dade) Transit Authority. Miami, FL, is in Dade County.

IATA code for MiDWay Airport in Chicago, IL, USA. Here's its status in real time from the ATCSCC.

Modular Digital eXchange.

Message Digest algorithm #5. It is successor to MD-4, so I don't think the fact that it is based on 32-bit words (32=2^5) has aught to do with the name.

Me., ME
Maine. USPS abbreviation uses no punctuation and both letters capitalized.

The Villanova University Law School provides some links to state government web sites for Maine. USACityLink.com has a page with mostly city and town links for the state.

Mapping Entity.

Materials Engineering. The WWWVL has a shelf for it.

Mechanical Engineer[ing].

Medical Examiner.

Meines Erachtens. German, `in my opinion.' Slip this in. Your reader will be too insecure to ask what it means, so you won't have to admit that it's ``JMO'' (just your personal opinion).

Me, ME
Messerschmitt. German, `knife smith.' Aircraft manufacturer; see Bf entry.

Metaphysics and Epistemology.

MEthyl. E.g., `MeOH' for methyl alcohol (methanol in more and wood alcohol in less modern terminology).

Millennium Edition. In ``Windows Me.'' Sounds a bit solipsistic. At least to me it does. Or is that egotism?

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. Better known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS, q.v.).

Minnesota Education Association.

Mishawaka Education Association.

Mississippi Education Association. Founded in 1885, and for most of its existence the strongest teacher's union in the state, it merged with the Mississippi Teachers Association in 1975. It was a rough transition. Its founding occurred during the period of official anti-black oppression that followed Reconstruction, so it was the segregated ``white'' union during most of its existence. The MTA was the ``colored'' union. The MEA was the NEA affiliate; the MTA was an affiliate of the parallel black organization (ATA).

In 1965 and 1966, in the second decade of the civil rights struggles, the NEA passed resolutions requiring that its member state associations remove discriminatory language from their constitutions and eliminate racial guidelines for membership, thereby forcing states with dual associations to move toward merger. At a meeting in Miami, Florida in 1966, the national organizations -- the NEA and the ATA -- merged. You can read a summary of the events at this page describing a critical document collection. Basically, the MEA and MTA leaderships met and managed (initially with some help from an NEA ``fact finder'') to hammer out merger agreements. However, while MTA members approved, MEA members repeatedly refused (through their delegate assemblies, apparently; I'm not clear on whether there was ever a vote by the full membership).

In 1969 the NEA suspended the MEA's affiliation, and in 1970 the NEA named the MTA as its sole affiliate organization. Contacts between the MEA and MTA continued, however, and a merger was approved by delegate assemblies in March 1975. The merged organization was called the Mississippi Association of Educators.

Montana Education Association. The NEA affiliate until the year 2000, when it merged with the MFT to become the MEA-MFT.

Medium Extended Air Defense System.

Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures. Not really the most attractive acronym, but it can be pronounced. For more substantial comment, see the COI entry.

Montana Education Association-Montana Federation of Teachers. A merged AFT and NEA affiliate. The merger occured in 2000.

mean field theory
See the MFT.

mean sigma
Six Sigma snake oil to grease the skids of a ``downsizing.'' More accurate name for Lean Sigma.

Michiana Employee Assistance Program. An organization that contracts with Michiana-area employers to provide professional and confidential services, including ``assessment, referral, short-term counseling, and follow-up'' to address ``personal problems including but not limited to depression, alcoholism and other drug dependence, marital and family problems, financial, legal and health issues. These assessment/referral services are free of charge [to employees].''

Offices in St. Joseph County (Indiana) and Marshall Co. (Michigan).

Michigan Educators Apprenticeship & Training Association.

Medium-Energy Booster (particle accelerator ring). See the SSC entry for an obsolete instance.

Manufacturing Electron-Beam Exposure System. ETEC Corporation's EBES.

Maryland Electronic Capital. Government and other information about the state of Maryland (MD) served by the Maryland State Archives.

The Middle East Council of Churches.

Middle English Compendium.

Member of the Executive Council. The South African government term for a minister of the provincial government. (The provincial parliaments are called ``legislatures.'') Cf. MPL.

Movimiento Estudiantil CHicano de Aztlán. `The Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan.'

Mechanical Engineering. As a department name, its use may or may not indicate that there is a separate Aeronautical or Aerospace Engineering department.

LookSmart has a short page of MechE info. Stanford serves the WWW Virtual Library for the discipline.

Families of ECL logic (yes, it's redundant; so sue me) originally from Motorola. MECL I needed an external bias supply in addition to the two voltage rails.

Main Engine Cut-Off. NASAnese.

Multi-Element Coding Sysytem. Often referred to as an encoding scheme, and consequently the expansion ``Multi-Element enCoding Scheme'' also appears.

Million ECU. (But a DECU is not an ECU tenner.)

{Masters in | Master of} EDucation. (Magister Educationis.)

Manhattan Engineer District. Official name of the now-famous effort, now generally called the Manhattan Project, to make the first atomic bombs. The overall director from September 1942 until the end of 1946 was General Leslie R. Groves. The first full-time director of the project, assigned to it in June 1942, had been Col. James Marshall. During Marshall's dilatory leadership of the project, Groves, working in the Construction Branch of the Army Services of Supply, had handled funding of the project. At the time, the project was called Designated Substitute Materials. Groves felt that this name would arouse curiosity, and changed the name to the presumably more dull-sounding Manhattan Engineer District. (Groves was also a colonel at the time; when he was assigned to run MED, he sought a promotion. Apparently his argument was that with just a colonel's rank, he wouldn't be able to command the respect of the scientists he'd be working with. He was promoted to brigadier general.)

My source for the preceding information and opinion is William Lawren's The General and the Bomb: A Biography of General Leslie R. Groves, Director of the Manhattan Project (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1988).

``Manhattan Engineer District'' rings slightly odd -- one might have expected ``Engineering.'' It might be that military dialects have a greater preference for uninflected modifiers. Te only evidence I can adduce offhand is that a designation like ``X Corps,'' which a civilian like me would read ``tenth corps,'' is actually pronounced ``ten-corps.''

The original ``substitute materials'' name is reminiscent of the name the British had for their project -- ``Tube Alloys.'' That project, faster off the blocks than its American counterpart, was run by the MAUD committee. The MAUD name had its origin in a misunderstood personal name, in a telegram sent by Niels Bohr. (In 1940, after Germany occupied Denmark, he wired that he was still okay at his institute in Copenhagen. The message said to tell COCKROFT and MAUD RAY KENT. Cockroft was obviously Sir John Cockroft, the physicist, but no one knew any Maud Ray Kent. It turned out to be Maud Ray, of Kent, who had once been Bohr's children's English tutor.)



MEDicina ANTiqua [List]. A mailing list sponsored by Medicina Antiqua. MEDANT isn't archived, but that's no great loss since it consists entirely of misdirected unsubscription requests, plus occasional posted requests for information that go unanswered. (For the latter, cf. BookSleuth, discussed at the Book Stores entry.) It's an extremely low-traffic list.

Dr. Lee T. Pearcy (at the Episcopal Academy, in Devon and Merion, PA) for many years maintained the Ancient Medicine / Medicina Antiqua (AM/MA) site and the MEDANT-L mailing list. In mid-April 2004, with slight name shortenings, the site (name now in Latin only) and list (minus hyphen-L, or should I say minus minus el?) moved. They are now hosted by the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL. If you want to continue potentially receiving postings, you have to resubscribe.

``Medicina Antiqua'' -- hmmm, that looks like Latin... I guess it's what they call ``Medical Latin.'' It seems to mean `old medicine.' Be sure to throw out your old medicines when they're past their expiration dates.

Medef, MEDEF
Mouvement des Entreprises de France. Whew, man! I spent hours before I figured out how they got exactly those letters in that order. Medef is the employers' organization of France. It excludes the government, in some sense, but some of the members are hybrids of private and public organizations.

La Tribune reported April 16, 2003, that a ``recent'' survey indicated that 64% of Americans were less favorable to French businesses or products since the events in advance of the war in Iraq; 29% described themselves as inclined to boycott or avoid (``boycotter ou eviter,'' but I guess that wasn't the wording in the survey) French products.

At a regular news conference April 15, 2003, Ernest-Antoine Seillière, President of Medef, had some interesting instructions for Americans. I'm going to get the ipsissima verba, just wait. Well, it seems he had a lot to say. Here's an excerpt:

Il y a une incoherence à mêler les reproches à la diplomatie française et la distance vis-à-vis des produits et services français. On a donc envie de dire aux entreprises américaines: Ne vous attaquez pas à nos parfums, nos yaourts ou nos avions.

[A rather inexpert construal: `It makes no sense to mix the anger over differences with France and its diplomacy with French products and services. One wants to say to American businesses: do not attack our perfumes, our yogurts, or our planes.']

This reminds me of a conversation I had at the Student Union building (called La Fortune) with Gary in 2001 or 2002, discussing the pros and cons of bombing some country (a particular one, but I can't remember which). After he described one of the arguments, I commented that by a parallel reasoning, we should probably bomb France. He told me that I wasn't the first person to suggest that to him, so far that week.

Gosh, it's amazing. Forty years ago, this version of medieval was dominant in Commonwealth spelling and not unusual in US spelling. No longer. Googling on medieval today (2002.08.20) yields about 2,640,000 pages; mediaeval yields 140,000, a ratio of almost 19. In contrast, the encyclopedia/encyclopaedia ratio is about 9, pediatric/paediatric about 6.5, fetus/foetus about 4, and the archeology/archaeology ratio 1/7 (the ae spelling dominates). I suppose mediaeval lends itself to false analysis (media + evil > eval). Is this bad? The ae in archaeology does serve to suggest the hardness of the preceding ch.

medical we
Use of first-person plural pronouns with the meaning of second-person singular. How are we feeling today?

We should not confuse the medical we with the obstetrical or pregnant we.


This word entered Middle English from Anglo-French medlee, past participle of medler, meaning `to meddle.' It's cognate with mix; both words are ultimately derived from Latin miscere, `to mix.'

Some information on musical medleys, dubiously so called by me, is at the silent movie entry; some medleys dubiously so called by the music industry are discussed at the seamless entry. Some information on swimming medleys is at this IM entry. It may be inferred from the aberemurder entry that those do not exhaust the uses of the word.

``Make Early Diagnoses--Prevent Early Deaths'' Program to track down those at risk for the genetic disorder FH that often kills men in their forties and women in their fifties. For information, send SASE to

MED-PED Coordinating Center
410 Chipeta Way, Room 161
Salt Lake City, UT 84108

Program is run by Internal Medicine Prof. Roger R. Williams of Un. of Utah in Salt Lake City. (Same address as MED-PED.)

MEDical-PEDiatrics. ``A new specialty,'' according to the flyer in my smailbox. Doesn't rhyme: second e is long, as in pediatrics.

Slang term for MEDicineS. Like hubby this seems to be a British import. They should have been quarantined. In standard English (i.e., my or high American dialect), medicine is generally uncountable; if you need a countable term use drug.

MEDieval TEXt (mailing list).

Migration-Enhanced Epitaxy. Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) performed while alternately closing all anion or all cation sources. Under appropriate conditions, the purely anionic atoms and cationic atoms do not form stable solids, so only a surface layer accumulates. The surface layer is not immediately incorporated in the bulk, so its atoms have time to diffuse into a more defect-free configuration. Layer thickness can be controlled very precisely.

Meech Lake
A toponym that evolved into Meach Lake. Then in the early 1980's, officials of Gatineau Park reaffirmed the original spelling. I saw this explained a few years ago in a page I can no longer find at the Natural Resources Canada website. However, as it's in P.Q., its official name is actually Lac Meech -- to spooner with ``mock leash,'' for all I know.

Meech Lake was the site of a meeting in late April and early May of 1987 that gave the place a few years of drab fame. At that meeting, the provincial premiers and various noisy interested parties reached final agreement on a set of constitutional reforms that were called the the Meech Lake Accord. The Accord was a real compromise: most parties agreed to it with reluctance.

Some were more reluctant than others. There was a deadline for approval of midnight at the end of June 23, 1990, and the Accord is usually said to have died on Friday, June 22, 1990, when Manitoba and Newfoundland ``failed to approve it.'' In Newfoundland the premier reneged on an earlier commitment and refused to allow the Accord to be put to a vote of the provincial parliament (``House of Assembly''). In Manitoba, an earlier parliamentary maneuver by native Indian legislator Elijah Harper also prevented passage before the deadline. (Under Canada's constitution, amendments require, in addition to approval by the federal parliament, either a bare majority or perfect agreement. That is, approval of seven provinces representing 50% of the population, or approval of all (ten, in 1990) provinces. The full Accord could only have been passed according to the stricter standard. It would have been possible in a revote to pass some parts with seven provinces. These parts could have included the clause recognising Quebec as a ``distinct society'' (largely symbolic when standing alone, I would think). In the event, there was no enthusiasm for that approach.

[There might be some interesting metalegal issues, since Quebec had rejected the constitution which specified how it and the other provinces might approve the constitutional amendments. But maybe the authority of the BNA Act takes care of that detail. Maybe they should have tried the American way. Under the Articles of Confederation, amendments to the Articles required approval by all the states. The Continental Congress (the national government under the Articles) called a convention to consider amendments, and that convention in the Summer of 1787 reported out an entirely new constitution. An interesting aspect of that document was that it defined the conditions under which it would come into force, and those conditions were weaker (approval of nine states only) than those defined by the pre-existing Articles. The fun part was in 1790, when the Senate of the new government (approved by 12 states) passed an embargo on Rhode Island to encourage it to reconsider its earlier rejection of the US Constitution. The threat of embargo worked so well that it wasn't necessary for the House to pass the legislation.]

The Accord was one of various efforts, this one by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (Progressive Conservative), to get Quebec to accept the Canada Act (a/k/a the Constitution Act of 1982). The failure of the Accord stoked Quebec separatist feeling; Lucien Bouchard, until then an ally of Mulroney, left the PC and formed the separatist Bloc Québécois.

Middle East Economic Digest. A journal whose main editorial offices are in London.

MEEKathara, Australia. The code used by IMS (the International Monitoring System) for the seismic station there.

There's a parked meetus.com domain, and I can't wait to find out what it's all about. I'm so anxious to find out that I'm alterrnately hopping around and rocking side-to-side on the balls of my feet. My feet are starting to hurt. I'm glad the name is spelled with ee instead of ea -- that might really hurt.

The Middle East Forum. ``[A] think tank [which] works to define and promote American interests in the Middle East.'' Founded in 1990; became an independent organization in 1994. No, I don't know what it was part of from 1990 to 1994. It has published a Quarterly since March 1994.

Mouse Embryonic Fibroblast.

Karl Marx / Friedrich Engels Gesamtausgabe. `Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Collected Production.' I don't know why this series was named with the noun Ausgabe, which normally means `output.' It includes at least some manuscripts that may have been for personal use and not intended directly for publication (i.e., they did not look like drafts of works intended for publication). The usual term Gesamtwerke (`collected works') would certainly have covered drafts of unpublished work, and I think the rest as well.

(Kilo or kilo) × (Kilo or kilo). In other words, 1 000 000 or 1 048 576 (or possibly even 1 024 000), determinable (or not) from context.

A Hebrew word meaning `scroll.' All Hebrew books (all books in any language, afaik) were in the form of scrolls before the invention of the codex, and today the torah used for ritual purposes (i.e., which is read from during Jewish services) is in the form of a scroll.

Every synagogue has a cabinet at the center of the front wall. The cabinet holds Torah scrolls in an upright position, normally around chest height, and is called the aharon hakodesh in Hebrew or by the generic but now nicely archaic term ark in English. Each of the scrolls individually contains a complete copy of the pentateuch. The scrolls have to be very carefully hand-written on parchment, so they're kind of expensive, but they look pretty and make a great donation to the synagogue. Also, they eventually wear out and have to be buried, and after many centuries they make great archaeological discoveries.

Even though each scroll is complete, each synagogue needs two for a festival called Simchat Torah. (There's no English ch sound in Hebrew; the ch represents a hard aitch. The spelling Simhat Torah also occurs. Another traditional spelling is Simchas Torah. The final s represents the Ashkenazi pronunciation of the Hebrew letter sav -- tav in Sephardi pronunciation.) The name Simchat Torah is typically translated `rejoicing in the Torah.' (Simha, `joy,' is also a common boy's given name.)

The practice of reading the Pentateuch completely over the course of each year became established in the Gaonic period, and the festival of Simchat Torah was created to celebrate completion of the reading on the 22nd or 23rd of the month of Tishri. At least as early as the tenth century C.E., it became common to start reading again on the same day ``to refute the devil.'' That is, to avoid negative inferences from the fact that one is celebrating the end and not the beginning of the reading. Hence, on this festival, the reading of the Pentateuch ends and begins again immediately. Having a scroll that is turned to the beginning saves having to spend time rolling back the scroll that has just been finished.

But I didn't write this entry to tell you any of that. It's just, you know, background. Like noise.

So anyway... back in the day, the separate books of the Bible were in multiple scrolls. However, there are other words one can use for Bible books, such as sefer (which means `book'). Nevertheless, five books of the Torah are referred to by the term megillah (`scroll,' remember?). These are the five shortest books of the Ketuvim: Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther, collectively hamesh megillot (`five scrolls').

Of the five scrolls, only the book of Esther has megillah as a traditional part of its name: Megillat Ester. (The final t in the first word is a standard inflection in compounds. You saw the same thing above with simha and simhat. The th in the standard English spelling of Esther just reflects an attempt to indicate aspiration in the original Hebrew, but aspiration is no longer phonemic in Hebrew.) The Scroll of Esther is also distinguished from the other megillot in its prominent association with a holiday. (It is read during Purim, a late-Winter/early-Spring holiday. Less salient is the reading of the Song of Songs during Passover.)

For these reasons, the word megillah, used without qualification or prior specification, refers to the Scroll of Esther. It is not unusually long, but it is longer than a typical Torah reading in a traditional service (to say nothing of the one-third-length readings in a Reform service). This is the reason usually given for the fact that the word megillah in Yiddish, when used in a nonritual context, means `long story.' Now you see why it was appropriate for me to give you ``the whole megillah'' in this entry.

Let me just add that the Talmud records arguments regarding whether Esther should be a canonical book. There was substantial resistance to its inclusion in the canon, an important reason being the absence of any mention of God.

My Eyes Glaze Over.

Poly(2-Methoxy-5-(2'-Ethyl-Hexyloxy)-p-PhenyleneVinylene) (PPV).

Middle East Institute.

A Japanese word usually translated `enlightened rule' or somesuch, and the name assigned to the new Japanese emperor's era on October 23, 1868.

Meissner effect
A type-I superconductor expels all magnetic flux lines--the magnetic induction B more than a few times the penetration depth within it is zero. This is not diamagnetism: rather than being weak, the magnetization M completely cancels magnetic field H.

Methyl Ethyl Ketone, traditional name for butanone. Often known familiarly as ``ketone.'' Methyl methyl ketone (propanone) is traditionally called acetone.

One French word for email. It was originally created as an acronym for message électronique, but was widely supposed to be a phonetic transcription (i.e., a transliteration) of the English word mail. Particularly under that assumption, it is deemed a rather ugly néologisme.

I've read someone's recollection that the Canadian term courriel was already in widespread use in .fr (along with l'anglicisme email et le mot franglais émail) before mél was coined, and that this was created at France Telecom. Whatever its origin, the em-word was promoted by the French Academy, and in 1997 the French Ministère de la culture et de la communication accepted the Academy's recommendation. (A governmental ``Ministry of Culture'' -- what a concept!)

It didn't take. In 2003, the government issued new instructions in its Journal officiel, promoting the use of courriel and demoting mél to the very limited use described in the next entry.

A written abbreviation of the French term message électronique. According to French government recommendation (link in previous entry), it is to be used only to introduce or indicate an email address (as one may write Tél. before a telephone number), and not as a noun.

Mitochondrial Encephalomyopathy; Lactic Acidosis; Stroke. Symptoms that define (and whose acronym names) a very serious mitochondrial syndrome.

Metal ELectrode Face. Also expanded ``Metal Electrode Leadless Face'' and ``Metal Electrode Face Bonded.'' It designates a cylinder with metal end-cap contacts.

Melvin Calvin
See Calvin, Melvin.

Maximum Entropy Method.



Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

membership requirements
One is not required to become a member of the SBF.

membership requirements
In order to become a member, it is not necessary to have read the Odyssey in its original Greek version, particularly if a first edition is not available in codex.

Miller Electric Manufacturing COmpany.

MEMorandum of CONversation. US governmentese. Possibly used only by the military and spooks.


Short for MEMOrandum. Ultimately from the Latin verb memorare, `to remember.' It originally appeared in 13th-century English documents as part of phrases like memorandum est, `it is to be remembered.' Initially, the single word memorandum was used as a shortened form of the phrase, as we might nowadays write ``IITBR that.'' Somewhat disconnected from this etymology is the earliest recorded noun use (as short for ``Exchequer Memoranda Rolls'') dating to the twelfth century. The general noun use, in various senses referring to written records or notes, began to be common only late in the 13th c. and took some time to become the more common sense than IITBR.

  1. Memorial University College (abbreviated MUC). Founded in St. John's, Newfoundland, in 1925; named in honor of ``those who served'' in the Great War. Technically, given the normal sense of the word memorial, I suppose the name only honored those who had served and died. The way trench warfare went, however, that wasn't a big distinction. By now it is quite probably a completely moot one. In point of fact, what was memorialized, or at least the event that motivated the movement for a memorial, was a day of typically horrific WWI loss of life, July 1, 1916. In under a half hour on the morning of that day, seven of every eight members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment became a casualty (233 dead, 91 missing, 386 wounded, from an initial strength of 801). That day has been observed in Newfoundland and Labrador as Memorial Day since then. For a pre-confederation history of the university, see M. MacLeod's A Bridge Built Halfway: A History of Memorial University College, 1925-50 (Montréal and Kingston, 1990). Images here.
  2. Memorial University of Newfoundland. The name adopted in 1949, the year Newfoundland became a part of Canada. Since 1949 also, ``Memorial Day'' has been the official name of Canada Day in the province.
    [column] In 2001 the university's press published In Altum: Seventy-Five Years of Classical Studies in Newfoundland, commemorating the 75th birthday of the university's classics department. James T. Chlup of the University of Manitoba, reviewing the volume for BMCR, remarked that ``[t]o honour a department may seem unusual, but to a Canadian Classicist it makes perfect sense. It is a celebration that a vibrant department has been able to endure the extreme difficulties felt by most Canadian Classics departments in the 1980s and 1990s.'' Mark Joyal, who edited the volume, provided an introductory essay outlining the history of the department, with an essay on the teaching of ancient Greek in Newfoundland schools up to 1924. [Chlup: ``... fascinating reading as it charts the birth and growth of Classics at MUN (and the college in general, for it was an axial part of the institution in its early years).''] A very lightly modified version of Joyal's essay is on the Classics department website at MUN.
  3. Memorial University. The name preferred by the Board of Regents now that the name of the province is Newfoundland and Labrador. That decision was announced in March 2002, but over a year later, it seemed there'd been no change. It was beginning to look like a victory for leaving well enough alone, but checking back in 2007, I saw that the change had finally gone through.

memoriaru sekusuresu
A bit of wasei-eigo (`Japanese-made English'): a compound of the English words `memorial sexless.' It was one of many terms (and the only wasei eigo) mentioned in an article in the Mainichi Daily News in 2005. An English translation, entitled ``From `past beauty' to `buddy pregnancy,' changes transform Japanese ladies' lexicons'' is still available on the web. The term was defined thus: ``a term used for normally sexless couples who decide to go in for a little bit of slap and tickle on momentous occasions, such as anniversaries or to mark such occasions as their team winning a sports championship.'' I asked a Japanese lady friend about this in April 2007, and it's not part of her lexicon. The construction of the term doesn't even make any more sense to her than it does to me, but then she might be handicapped by knowing English.

The referenced article, dated October 31, begins ``Times are tough for Japanese women, according to Sunday Mainichi (11/13) [I guess they got a preview], which notes that a whole new vocabulary has sprung up to cope with all the different sorts of changes they're facing in their lives.'' The rest of the article is a glossary of terms, including a couple that I think could be generally useful or at least transferable to a different cultural context. They will be listed below after I add them.

People from Memphis, Tennessee are called ``Memphians.''

What, you want more? Okay, the Userkare and gupta entries have some information (mostly about the Egyptian Memphis). Memphis is also mentioned at the MOMA entry.

Middle East Media Research Institute. ``Bridging the language gap between the Middle East and the West.'' (Translations available in English, French, German, Hebrew, Spanish, and Japanese. The German site was down when I visited in March 2007.)

Middle East Media Research Institute TV Monitor Project.

MicroElectroMechanical System[s]. (See IEEE Spectrum May 1994 pages 20-31.) Here's a short course in MEMS from UCLA. Basically, the big deal, the excitement, is the ems: electric motors, actuators, pumps and valves on the microscopic length scale previously encountered only in microelectronics.

Another technology? Sure! There's room for everyone: MOEMS. Now (2001) it has become necessary to coin the term NEMS.

Mensa. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation.

Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (syndrome). One type of this syndrome (``2B'' or ``3'') is related to Marfan syndrome, which has been suggested, though not at all conclusively demonstrated, as an explanation of the physical characteristics of our twelfth president.

Middle-East and North Africa[n Conference].

Music Educators National Conference. Held in April of even-numbered years.

Dishonest, untruthful. From the Latin mendax, ultimately from mendum, `blemish.'

Came up with a periodic organization of the elements. Here's an up-to-date, hyperlinked table set.

An obsolete verb that mostly meant ``to beg for.'' Hence ``mendicant orders'' -- religious orders whose members live on charity. (As opposed, say, to parish priests, who are paid for a service.) From the Latin, mendicare `to beg.' This could obviously have no connection with mendacious. I mean, why would a beggar lie?

What a lovely word! It basically means mendicancy: the condition or practice of beggary. But it sounds like mendacity, and in some accents it's probably indistinguishable. Therefore, I'm going to take the position that the word is not obsolete, as widely supposed. It continued in use but no one realized it.

Mendoza's Guitars
Mendoza isn't there anymore, hasn't been any time since I moved here (no connection). The proprietor is Richard Wisner. It's at 241 US-33, mailing address South Bend, IN 46637. Anyway, it's really in Roseland, a little village of restaurants serving the University of Notre Dame. Mendoza's is just north of the Taco Bell, on the southbound side of the street less than a mile before the Denny's and the Perkin's. (Hey -- I recognize that zip code! That's my zip code! Just to give you an idea how big Roseland is: I'm not in Roseland. There's a larger place called Rosemont, Illinois, around O'Hare Airport. They went dry around 1999 or so -- not by passing any law against alcohol sales, but by taking back all the restaurants' liquor licenses.)

Mendoza's telephone number is (574) 272-7510. I only put this entry in the glossary at all because I lose the phone book more easily than the laptop. It's making this one of the most frequently edited areas of the glossary.

They also sell harmonicas.

You know, when Mendoza did own the store, he sold photographic equipment. Mr. Wisner changed the merchandise and the product-word part of the store name when he took over.

Master of ENGineering (graduate program). Has a more practical/project orientation than MS, and is more likely not to require completion of a thesis. Pronounced ``em-enj'' (stress pattern varies). Cf. Ed.D.

The outer covering of the brain.

Middle East NewsLine.

The organization of pointy-heads? It's not an acronym. The amazing truth is revealed at the ASICS entry.

An Italian brand of breath-freshening mints. No joke. Cf. Dropsy.

This is a bad word. Don't use it. Take a dim view of people who do use it. Contemn them silently, at least; if it's safe to do so, laugh in their faces.

Mentor was the older man Ulysses left to raise his son Telemachus when he went off to fight the Trojans. Used ``mentored'' or ``advisee'' or something.

Spanish, `I piss.'

Medium (altitude) Earth Orbit. Earth orbit intermediate between typical LEO and GEO (geostationary). It's cheaper to loft a satellite into MEO than GEO, and it's easier than LEO to use for communication because it doesn't drift eastward so fast. A compromise.

Maximally Exposed Offsite Individual.

Medical Engineering & Physics. A journal of the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine, published ten times per year by Elsevier.

Member of the European Parliament. Writing in a letter to the editor published in the Jan. 9, 1997 issue of the New York Review of Books (NYRB), Glyn Ford, a Labour MEP for Greater Manchester East, defends the European Parliament in these terms:
Yes, it's weak, but not entirely without influence[,] as the hordes of Lobbyists that infest its corridors demonstrate.

Minority Engineering Program. Here's a link to the one at Notre Dame University (ND).

Model Editions Partnership.

Montessori Educational Programs International. Based in Kansas City, MO.

Middle East Quarterly. Published by the Middle East Forum.

MilliEQuivalent. One one-thousandth of an equivalent. A chemical unit. Yes, I could have written just "One thousandth," but I didn't. I'm not going to waste time thinking about it. Let the half-dozen or half-a-dozen or so daily visitors to this page worry about it.

What the pros say is ``10-3 equivalents.'' That's right: plural form. Okay, some say equivalent. You could analyze grammatical number thus: instead of the traditional singular/dual/plural and singular/plural distinctions that many languages have developed, what the modern world may need is a fractional/singular/plural analysis. The traditional fractional form of foobar is the periphrastic construction of a foobar. For some people, maybe the declined form is identical with the plural.

Mars Exploration Rover[s]. A NASA mission consisting of two rovers launched separately in Summer 2003. After the failure of previous NASA Mars landers, and the loss in December 2003 of an ESA landing mission that used braking and landing strategies generally similar to those of NASA's MER (ESA's mission was called Mars Express), it was a relief verging on surprise when both rovers landed successfully in January 2004.

Monthly Energy Review. Don't go through back issues of this; look in the AER.

As the proprietary tyrannies of the Middle East rock our economic boat, it might be worth noting that seasickness is mal de mer.

`Sea' in French.


From Latin [corpus] mercurium captans, `mercury-seizing [substance].' The term was introduced by William Christopher Zeise (that's the name in his native Danish, so help me) in an article in Annalen der Physik und Chemie, vol. 31, p. 378 (1834), for a class of chemicals that since then have also been called sulfur alcohols, thioalcohols and later thiols.

The term mercaptan has also been used specifically for the ethyl mercaptan, or ethanethiol. This is identical with ethanol, except that the oxygen atom in ethanol (older name: ethyl alcohol) is replaced with a sulfur atom in ethanethiol:

                H      O--H
                 \    /
ethanol:       H--C--C--H
                 /    \
                H      H

                H      S--H
                 \    /
ethanethiol:   H--C--C--H
                 /    \
                H      H

Looked at in terms of functional groups, ethanethiol is identical with ethanol except that the hydroxyl group (-OH) is replaced by a sulfhydryl group (-SH). In addition to the organic nomenclature, a few generations of which have been described to this point, there are distinct inorganic nomenclatures, according to which something bonded to SH is a hydrosulfide (or a foobar hydrogen sulfide).

The thiol group is more strongly acidic than a hydroxyl group, and thiols react not with other metals besides mercury to form salts. The mercury salts are highly insoluble.

Cysteine is the only thiol among the twenty standard amino acids. (Methionine is the only other one that contains sulfur. It's a thioether.)

Mercosul, MERCOSUL
Portuguese: Mercado Comum do Sul. See Mercosur entry next.

Mercosur, MERCOSUR
Mercado Común del Sur. I've seen this translated as `Southern Common Market.' That probably conveys the connotation of the Spanish name better does a literal translation like `Common Market of the South,' even though a `southern' is most directly a trranlation of sureño.

Mercosur was originally a freeish trade zone in the southern cone, encompassing South America's two largest economies (Brazil and Argentina) as well as the interstitial countries Uruguay and Paraguay. Chile and Bolivia had become associate members by 2002, when Brazil was having some monetary problems and Argentina was in economic meltdown. Argentina all-but defaulted on its debts, and has been recovering under leftist president Kirshner. (In the wake of the worldwide financial meltdown -- shall we say anneal? -- of 2008, Argentina is recovering, perhaps, under Kirshner's successor and wife.)

When Mercosur met late in 2002, the agenda was mapping strategy for its eventual integration into FTAA. FTAA talks broke down. On July 4, 2006, agreements were signed in Caracas to make Venezuela (third-largest South American economy) a member of Mercosur. Its membership became official at ceremonies in Cordoba, Argentina, on July 22, with Fidel Castro, then totalitarian dictator of Cuba, as honored guest. Happily, the trip and festivities seem to have critically stressed the old man, who was hospitalized after he got home.

Mercury Project
Telerobotics excavation on the net. Now ended, but a history and new project may be accessed.

mercy of the ionosphere, at the
You're the last person left on your block who still won't pony up for cable (CATV), and this is what your neighbors say about you behind your back. They don't really resent you much for not doing your part to amortize the cost of tearing up the sidewalk to install the cable. Mostly, they just contemn you for being penny wise and pound foolish. You think you're saving money, but really you're missing out on secret specials advertised only on cable. What a chump!

More important, though, is what you're missing out in the shared experience of the community. Standing in line at the supermarket checkout, everyone around you is talking about last night's HBO made-for-TV movie special. You stare at your footwear; you can't relate any more. You don't even recognize the faces on the covers of the tabloids. Without a cable to tie you to the community, you are unmoored, a rootless stranger.

People are beginning to use the word `rebel' when they talk about you, and they don't mean it in a nice way, like James Dean, or Robert E. Lee, or the Unabomber. People say ``It's a free country, but....''

Every day when the cable guy comes to check that you don't have an illegal hookup, he talks with the neighbor kids. Halloween is coming.

Remember what the song says:

Conform or be cast out!

One of these Sundays the preacher is going to deliver a coruscating sermon on the sin of pride, and he won't be looking at anyone but you. All around, your fellow parishoners will sidle uneasily away, and on the near end of the pew, an old woman will fall off and fracture her pelvis.

Then what will you do?

``The song'' mentioned in this entry is Rush's ``Subdivisions.''

More on fitting in at the Bellwether entry.

Maybe I should have mentioned Alice Cooper's ``No More Mr. Nice Guy.''

Middle East Resource Exchange Database.

An old Scottish coin which, in relative terms, is increasingly not much older than the mark, q.v.

`American' in Goodolboyese (eye dialect). (Ref.: Opera Omnia Ioe Bobus Briggsi.)

I blush to give its true meaning. If you're over age eighteen, you could look it up. If anyone peeks over your shoulder, pretend you're studying the merl entry. Make sure to actually read and remember that too, so your story checks out. As you leave the library, shout back at the circ desk, ``I always wondered what merl meant!''

More on Joe Bob Briggs at the fu entry.

Multi-Element Radio Linked Interferometer Network.

Merlot, MERLOT
Multimedia Education Resource for Learning and Online Teaching.

Overview here.

An ancient city on the left (east) bank of the Nile, between the fifth and sixth cataracts. The site is located near current village of Begrawiya.

One who claims partial knowledge. From the Greek root mero (`part') and you know the rest. Huxley claimed to have coined the word agnostic, but that was overly modest.

Having to do with Meroë or with Nubia during the period (300 BCE-320 CE) when its capital was located there.

Myoclonic Epilepsy; Ragged Red Fiber. Symptoms that define (and whose acronym names) a mitochondrial syndrome.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. An often-fatal respiratory illness first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012, and found to be caused by a corona virus designated MERS-CoV. As of April 2014, Saudi Arabia was still the country with by far the largest number of cases. (According to the WHO as of April 21, of 243 confirmed cases across the planet, 231 have been in Saudi Arabia. The total number of cases rose above 300 that month.

It is extremely dangerous. To wit: according to the MERS page of the US CDC, ``[m]ost people who have been confirmed to have MERS-CoV infection developed severe acute respiratory illness. They had fever, cough, and shortness of breath. About half of these people died.'' (Emphasis added.) The text of that page, visited April 2014, had last been updated the previous February. Things have taken alarming turn. Cutting to the chase:

``It took more than two years to reach the first 100 cases of MERS,'' said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. ``Now, in just the past two weeks, we've had 100 cases. There's a major change occurring that cannot just be attributed to better case detection,'' he said. ``When humans readily transmit to humans, that's what will cause a worldwide outbreak. We are very concerned that ... with what we've seen over the past two weeks ... we may be at that point now.'' [Quoted in the Saudi Gazette, April 26.]

[Let's enjoy a little technical interlude on this. Suppose an is the number of new cases found in the nth fortnight, where n is loosely defined by a0 = 1. If an increases perfectly geometrically (a/k/a exponentially) with n, by a factor r per fortnight, then there will have been
SN := a0 ( rN - 1 ) / (r - 1)
total cases in N fortnights (i.e., in the 0 through N-1st intervals). iOne hundred cases in the first two years implies that the expression above equals 100 for N=52 (S52 = 100), for r value between 1.023 and 1.024, which is more than precise enough for our purposes. (More precision is available on request. Use PayPal!) The important take-away is that this is a slow rate of increase. The real process is noisy (and the experimental data are reported as integer values of an, which cannot exactly fit the formula except for integral -- and very alarming -- values of r). However, even if we take N as low 26, the increase per fortnight is still only 9%.
Under reasonable assumptions, then, by the time that there are 100 new cases in a fortnight, there will have been more than about 90 the previous fortnight. Under the precise assumption of (S52 = 100, etc.), the first fortnightly interval with 100 new cases would have been after the 197th fortnight and about 4200 previous cases.]

The Saudi Health Ministry announced on April 25, 2014, that the total number of cases reported (in the kingdom) since the first case in September 2012 was 313, with 92 deaths in that time. (That makes it seem as if the mortality rate was below 30%, but this ignores the fact that many (at least a third) of cases are recent. There had been a jump in the rate of new infections in the preceding weeks, with health care workers forming a large proportion of the people newly infected. I don't understand how that might have come about. It's hard to believe that health care workers throughout KSA simultaneously started getting careless; perhaps there's a new strain.

``Approximately 75 percent of the recently reported cases ... have acquired the infection from another case through human-to-human transmission,'' according to Ala Alwan, regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean of the World Health Organization. ``The majority of these secondary cases have been infected within the health care setting and are mainly health care workers, although several patients are also considered to have been infected with MERS-CoV while in hospital for other reasons.'' MERS is very dangerous, and news in April 2014 suggests it has suddenly become a much greater danger (see ``It took...'' below).

The Saudi Health Ministry announced on April 25, 2014, that the total number of cases reported since the September 2012 was 313, with 92 deaths in that time. So it would appear that the mortality is below 30%, except that many (at least a third) of cases are recent. There had been a jump in the rate of new infections in the preceding weeks, with health care workers forming a large proportion of the people newly infected. ``Approximately 75 percent of the recently reported cases ... have acquired the infection from another case through human-to-human transmission,'' according to Ala Alwan, regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean of the World Health Organization. ``The majority of these secondary cases have been infected within the health care setting and are mainly health care workers, although several patients are also considered to have been infected with MERS-CoV while in hospital for other reasons.'' (A recent study found that the virus has been ``extraordinarily common'' in camels for at least 20 years, and may have been passed directly from the animals to humans.)

According to an AFP reports on April 28, scientists at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA, identified natural human antibodies that act against MERS-CoV. In laboratory studies reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers found that these neutralizing antibodies prevented a key part of the virus from attaching to protein receptors that allow the virus to infect human cells. A neutralizing antibody is one that not only recognizes a specific virus but also prevents it from infecting host cells, so eventually the infection is "cleared" from the individual. Wayne Marasco, who led the research, added that an antibody-based treatment for MERS would be administered by injection and could provide protection for about three weeks.

MERS is considered a deadlier cousin of the SARS virus that erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, nine percent of whom died. It has also been considered less transmissible than the SARS virus, but as of this writing (May 1, 2014), I think it remains to be seen whether that is still so.

Mersenne numbers
Mersenne numbers are the numbers
Mn = 2n - 1.

Mn is called the nth Mersenne number. If n is composite (i.e., not prime), then Mn is also composite. This is obvious from the formula for the sum of a finite geometric series, which we can rearrange slightly as

 k                      k-1    k-2
r  - 1 = ( r - 1 ) × ( r    + r    + ... + r + 1 ) .
Taking n =jk (by the assumption that n is composite) and r = 2j yields the result q.e.d. As it happens, the first few Mersenne numbers Mn for n prime are prime: n = 2, 3, 5, and 7 yield the Mersenne primes 3, 7, 31, and 127. However, the next Mersenne number, M11 = 2047 = ×89.

One might think to define numbers

Ln = sn - 1,
say, with s a natural number greater than 2. Since the geometric sum formula works for other numbers, one can easily make the parallel argument to shown that in using Ln to search for primes, one can again focus only on values of n that are also prime. However, it is immediately clear that all such numbers Ln are composite: if s is greater than 2, then setting r = s and k = n above immediately factorizes Ln. Only s = 2 yields possible primes, because then r - 1 = 1 and the formula doesn't yield a proper factorization.

Mersenne primes
Mersenne primes are primes that are the Mersenne numbers.

The Mersey is the main river that desagua into Liverpool Bay on the Irish Sea. I can't remember the English word for desaguar, if there is one. This isn't just irritating; it's troubling. In my experience, as multilingual people age, they begin to remember certain words in only one or some of the languages they use regularly. Really, though, neither `empty' nor `drain' is as appropriate as desaguar.

A pejorative term for certain kinds of successful rock music, from commercial, reflecting the anti-market pose of mass-market pop. (No, that was not a facetious remark, really.)

In a letter to an aspiring young writer, Raymond Chandler once explained that authentic slang ages very quickly, and that one way he made his dialogue fresh and vibrant was by inventing his own slang [which would not age because it was not current and so not hackneyed]. I have not taken this advice here.

Instead, in selfless devotion to the information of those who have recurred to the wisdom of the Stammtisch, I have included this actual, and thus ephemeral, slang term, harvested from a New Republic article (issue of 3 June 1996), on MTV's meretricious get-out-the-youth-vote campaign, soon to rot in this very section of the em's. There's hope, however, because the author was decidedly and by his own admission unhip.

Merchandise. Formed after the pattern of mersh, I suppose, and attested (used, even! -- apparently without irony) at the homesite of The Tragically Hip.

Who's unhip now?

(Yes, I do know how to alphabetize. This is close enough.)

Manufacturing Execution System[s].

Minor in European Studies.

... requires ``two semesters'' of a European language?! That's not minor, that's bush. Can I satisfy the requirement with English or Algol?

Middle East Studies Association.

(US) Mining Enforcement and Safety Administration.

I said mine!

Spanish for `table.' A transferred sense is used for a geological formation similar to a butte and has been borrowed into English. The Spanish word is derived from the Latin mensa.

Modular Equipment Standards Committee. A committee of the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI), charged with defining standards for cluster tool interfacing for interoperability. A new fab costs half a billion bucks, yet most equipment is not MESC-compliant.

Malaysian Exchange of Securities Dealing and Automated Quotations

MEtal-Semiconductor Field-Effect Transistor (FET). A JFET made in compound semiconductor. MOSFET's are not made in these materials because compound semiconductors tend not to have stable, useful oxides. The closest thing to a compound semiconductor IGFET is a HIGFET. [Cf. MODFET.]

I've encountered this in contexts where I thought it meant methanthiol, but it turns out to stand for MEdical Subject Heading, a controlled vocabulary defined by the (US) National Library of Medicine (NLM).

MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging (NASA spacecraft). Launched in August 2004, it is the first spacecraft to visit the planet Mercury since NASA's Mariner 10 mission in the mid-1970's. MESSENGER's first fly-by took place on January 14, 2008, its second on October 6, 2008. A third fly-by is scheduled for 2009, and the plan is for the spacecraft to become a satellite of Mercury on March 18, 2011.

The planet Mercury takes its name from, and is associated in mythology with, the Roman god Mercury (Mercurius in Latin, Hermes in Greek). Mercury was characteristically represented with what we call ``winged feet'' (feet with small wings above each heel) and credited with great speed (don't ask me ``compared to what?''). This led to the name's attachment to the only element that is liquid at room temperature (a/k/a quicksilver, Hg). [If gallium is liquid at your room's temperature, open a window.] The speed thing is associated with Mercury's traditional godly bailiwick, as god of thieves and messengers.

But even if Mercury hadn't been the god of messengers, NASA might still have created an acronym using ``geochemistry.'' There doesn't seem to be an alternative term that doesn't involve a ``geo-'' prefix.

messing with the merchandise
For some reason, I didn't believe one should date students, though that certainly didn't impede many of my colleagues.
[P. 53 of William O'Rourke's On Having a Heart Attack: A Medical Memoir (2006). O'Rourke is a professor in the English Department at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, a Catholic school that has strict rules about the subject of the quote. O'Rourke also writes fiction.]


Mitteleuropäische Sommerzeit. German: `Central European Summer Time [DST].'

Metropolitan Museum of Art. Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, New York City.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy. They haven't told me what this means yet, but I haff vays aff makink dem tock.

National MetaCenter for Computational Science and Engineering. (q.v.).

``A coalescence of intellectual and physical resources unlimited by geographical constraint, a synthesis of individual centers that will create a new resource greater than the sum of its parts. ... The goals of the MetaCenter are to give scientists and engineers the ability to move their problems directly to appropriate computer architectures without regard for where the computers are located; to develop a national file system that gives researchers direct access to their files regardless of where they are located; and to design a common user interface that allows researchers to use the same commands on all systems at all centers.'' (This is an example, but not the worst, of proposalese.)

To perform the action, if that's what it is, of metadeciding.

Deciding whether to decide. I was inspired to create this entry by some news, if that's what it is, on March 5, 2008. The previous day a cluster of presidential primaries had assured Senator John Wayne McCain of Arizona a majority of delegates at the Republican convention. This triggered the usual spate of speculations and questions regarding the VP preference of the candidate apparent. The New York Times reported that ``Mr. McCain and several senior campaign advisers insist that there is no short list of names, and no process to help him make his choice -- merely a process to find a process. He directed his campaign to study past methods.''

This reminded me of Walter ``Fritz'' Mondale's similar rhetorical dance in 1984. Mondale, who had been Vice President in the administration of Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) was leading in the race for the Democratic nomination; Gary Hart, a US Senator from Colorado, was in second place. Rev. Jesse Jackson was a distant but respectable third place in the delegate race, and the question had been raised whether Hart or Mondale would consider him as a running mate.

Here is a relevant excerpt from the Democratic Presidential debate on June 3 of that year, as quoted in the New York Times the next day. (The debate was held at the NBC studios in Burbank, California, and moderated by Tom Brokaw. All three candidates for the nomination were asked related questions, but only Mondale's answer is relevant to this entry.)

Mr. Brokaw: Mr. Mondale, would you pick Jesse Jackson as your running mate?

Mr. Mondale: I think that the important point here is to put in place a process. I'm not including, or excluding, anybody. I know something about the Vice Presidency; I think it's the most important decision that a candidate for President ever makes, because it's fateful in many, many respects. And I'm going to wait until the nominating process is over, and then I'm going to put in place a search. I promise to look for women candidates, I promise to look at minority candidates, I promise to look across the board and pick the best possible person I can find.

Mr. Brokaw: Why shouldn't the voters know now whom you are considering? After all, you tell us what you think about just about everything else in the world, and in the last 25 years we've had four Vice Presidents go on to become President, we've had one resign because of scandal, a choice in the Democratic Party could not get to the fall campaign because he'd not been checked out thoroughly enough. Don't the voters deserve to know who you have in mind?

Mr. Mondale: Yes, if I had someone in mind, but I do not now. In other words, I think that we've learned the hard way over the years that this choice has to be made with great care. We have to look into the backgrounds of each candidate, we have to look at compatibility with issues, we have to look at their ability to share part of the burden of a President both internationally and domestically. I've been Vice President, and I think one of the things that people credit President Carter with is, once he was the putative nominee, he looked all over the country, he checked all possibilities. In all humility, I thought he came up with a wonderful choice!

I can't decide whether to end this entry without mentioning a certain lyric from a Rush song written by Neal Peart. The song was first released on the Permanent Waves album (1980), and its title was ``Freewill.'' (If you will write it as two words, I think you are free to do so.)

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

The decision regarding whether to decide. The result of metadeciding.

In astronomy, the definition is simplest: any element other than hydrogen or helium. I may get around to other definitions.

metal conductivity
Vide metal resistivity

metal-cutting tools
Taylor developed one of the earliest tool classification schemes, a mnemonic scheme for metal-cutting tools.

metal fatigue
A major cause of catastrophic collapse in steel structures -- the slow degradation of mechanical strength in metal by repeated deformation. Just like what happens when you bend a paper clip back and forth a few times. Thermal cycling can sometimes have the same effect on solder joints, but mostly, solder joints fail because they were poorly made in the first place.

Characteristic of a metal. Duh.

When Miss Prism instructed Cecily Cardew to read her Political Economy, she instructed her charge to omit the chapter on the Fall of the Rupee.

It is somewhat too sensational. Even these metallic problems have their melodramatic side.

metallurgical coal
Coal used in steel production.

Same as organometallics: compounds of metals with organic compounds. Alkali metals hardly count and mere salts of organic acids are sort of technically in, but not what one had in mind.

metal resistivity
silver (Ag)
1.59 µohm-cm

copper (Cu)
1.67 µohm-cm

gold (Au)
2.35 µohm-cm

aluminum (Al)
2.65 µohm-cm

Deciding whether to metadecide. You know, I'm not sure if I really want to include this entry. It's a slippery slope. We'd have to develop a notation like those for really big numbers. At least we'd have to consider it.

A term coined by the linguist Otto Jespersen, meaning analysis of a word or phrase into parts different from those it was originally compounded from.

I won't pretend to give a comprehensive analysis of the various types of metanalysis (that might be a meta-analysis of metanalysis). But we do have a number of examples in the glossary, and you should read all of those first before you return to Google and look for a resource that is more to-the-point.

One kind of metanalysis (which some linguists prefer not to class as such) is the discerning of a possible analysis where there isn't one. That is, detecting two morphemes within one. These can arise from inflectional analysis or folk etymology (history as ``his story,'' thence herstory). An older example of folk etymology is lone, which arose from the analysis of alone as a + lone. (It's really the compound all + one. Cf. German allein.)

Given the limited inflectional morphology of English in recent (i.e., the last thousand) years, many of the obvious examples of inflectional metanalysis are back-formations from plurals or apparent plurals. My favorite example of such a metanalysis is the derivation of pea from pease. The entry for pea describes this as well as clearer-cut instances of similar derivations of new singular terms from misconstrued plurals (e.g., base from bases). Another example is aphid (from the Latin aphides, plural of aphis). The same thing happened to Latin antipodes (whence English antipode), and antipodes wasn't even a plural. I couldn't neglect to mention kudos, and sure enough I mention it at the chaim.

In English, metanalysis of phrases often occurs where a word ends or begins in n. Examples include adder (``a nadder'' misunderstood as ``an adder''). Also described at that entry is the more complicated case of orange. Napron lost its initial n sometime around the fifteenth century. The word auger was still commonly nauger in the seventeenth century (the cognate word in Dutch also lost its initial n.)

Metanalysis in the opposite direction (adding n from the end of a preceding word) gave rise to nonce (see entry), but many such metanalyses of this sort failed to take, or at least were ultimately superseded by the original forms or their more direct descendants: nawl (flourishing in the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries), nuncle (from old-style ``mine uncle'' misunderstood as ``my nuncle,'' and similar expressions) and naunt. The latter probably also count as baby-talk. In similar fashion, some French dialects have nante (ma nante metanalysis of mon ante). It is speculated that the modern French tante arose from Old French t'ante (`thine aunt').

Mondegreens are often wilder than mere metanalyses, but metanalysis is frequently a part of them. So have a look.

Coming attractions at this entry: assets, riding, cyber-, German -keit.

There's a moment of Laurel and Hardy I recall when Stan spells not as ``en oh ott.'' I seem to recall it more than once; I mention this again at this NO entry, but you can use the reminder.

A mode of writing that comments on itself. This SBF glossary is an example of metanonfiction. This particular entry is probably an instance of metametanonfiction, but we (postmodern glossarist) are not going to examine this idea very closely, or our cerebral cortex might implode.

Transposition of organs within a flower. From the Greek roots meta (`beyond, across, over') and pherein (to carry, bear'). Ancient Greek texts attest both the verb metapherein and the noun metaphora (`metaphor,' duh, into English via French).

[Football icon]

George Vecsey's column for Feb. 1, 1997 (in the New York Times ``Sports Saturday'' section) focuses on erstwhile New England Patriots coach Bill Parcells, who resigned because he felt his freedom restricted by the Patriots owner. He particularly resented not having any input in recruitment. Parcells quoted a friend's comment, that ``if they're asking you to cook, they should at least let you shop for some of the groceries.'' George Vecsey devoted the column to interviews with restauranteurs, who were more sympathetic than NFL team owners. (Another sportswriter who is fun to read is Jason Whitlock, who writes for the Kansas City Star and FOX Sports.)

The May 24, 2000, Critic's Notebook feature, by William Grimes, was entitled ``Fill It Up, and Check the Olive Oil.'' It's about all the new New York City restaurants having names that fit cars better than restaurants. He tested his theory in interviews with marketing people in the automobile industry. Beacon, ``the Midtown restaurant that specializes in wood-grilled dishes,'' would probably by ``a more economical car.'' Avra (Greek seafood) ``would probably be picked up by Hyundai or Daewoo.'' Lex 303 (new in the Murray Hill neighborhood) should be a high-performance European import, base price $38,995.

Okay, so we're drifting away from metaphor here. I'm just waiting to close the circle, that's all. Just be glad I didn't explain how Victor's Pizzeria (on Nassau Street in Princeton, NJ) got its name, the way I wasted your time at the Mendoza's Guitars entry earlier.

For the etymology of metaphor, see metaphery. I mean, carry on to the other entry.

metaphor, reincarnated
That ought to be the term for dead metaphors brought back to life by wordplay. I've seen a good one attributed to Lowell Weicker, Jr., to the effect that the Republican party's moderate wing had become just a feather. I haven't been able to track down a solid citation, however. The closest I've found is by David Gergen, in a December 2003 review of Lewis L. Gould's One Nation Divisible: Grand Old Party. Gergen wrote ``By 1980, the GOP was moving more sharply to the right and was bringing the country with it. For six presidential elections in a row from Reagan through George W. Bush conservatives have now headed the Republican ticket. And the moderate wing of the party looks more like a feather.'' (I want to mention that Tony Feather is a Republican activist. There, I did it.)

Weicker so irked conservative columnist William F. Buckley that in his 1988 re-election bid, Buckley endorsed Democrat Joseph Lieberman and formed a committee to fight Weicker's re-election bid. Lieberman won and Weicker left the GOP, later running for and winning the office of Governor on an independent ticket. That is probably relevant context to the wing-feather wordplay, if Weicker really uttered it. There might be some more detail on this at the CT entry.

What went around in 1988 came around in 2006. Lieberman became too moderate -- particularly on the issue of the war in Iraq -- for a large and energized portion of the Democratic party. He faced a strong primary challenge from Ted Lamont, yet polls suggested that as an independent running in the general election, he would win handily. It was claimed that such an independent run would put at least some Democratic candidates in a politically uncomfortable position. Joe Courtney, the Democratic challenger for Connecticut's second US Congressional district, when asked in mid-June whom he would endorse if it came to that, expressed it thus: ``I'll jump off that bridge when I get to it.'' (Lieberman announced that he would pursue an independent candidacy if he lost the August primary, and Lamont -- in his maiden attempt at statewide office, beat Lieberman in the primary. In the event, Courtney and most other Democratic candidates and office-holders supported Lamont in the general.)

Oh, political discourse brings us yet another nice one, in an unsigned editorial from the DLC, back on March 3, 2004:

We suspect the more voters learn about John Kerry's actual views, the more they will be inclined to say: ``If this is a waffle, bring on the syrup.''

(Regarding these and other suspicions, one is reminded of Eisenhower's observation that most of the worst things in politics don't happen. Unfortunately, I can't seem to track this quote down.)

Altered spelling, usually understood as intentional -- respelling rather than misspelling. Normally also the alterations are limited in scope to substitution (e.g., ``Gawd'' for ``God'') and transpositions within one or two adjacent syllables (for examples see the metathesis entry), or by adding or subtracting a syllable or letter. In other words, the metaplasmically modified word must be recognizable, and not some anagram.

The term metaplasm came into Old English from post-classical Latin, as metaplasmus, from the Hellenistic Greek (no Hellenic attestation, apparently) noun metaplasmós, `reshaping.' A parallel but not very specific term from Latin is transformation, but transformatio does not seem to be (or have been) used systematically to describe a figure of speech. Given the vague etymological sense, it's not surprising that metaplasm has been used to mean transposition of words from their usual order. Since the word hyperbaton is already available to describe that figure, there is little excuse for even the limited continuing use of metaplasm in such a broad sense, and more than a hint of ignorance.

The term metaplasm has traditionally been used in learned discussions of the classical languages. (Possibly in unlearned ones too, I suppose. Hey Pete, when can you take my Chevy Lumina into the shop for a metaplasm? I want it pimped it out with a- and -um fenders.) In the classical context it often refers to changes associated with morphological features absent in Modern English. In a typical example, a second-declension noun can be made grammatically female with obvious changes in the endings (to turn it into a first-declension noun). Not counted as metaplasmic, in this or any other context, are the standard inflections of a word (plural, past tense, etc.), or word formation by standard affixes.

In English, metaplasms are usually figures of speech. (That is, English doesn't have any very regular morphological transformations, so the changes are made free-style for some rhetorical or literary effect.) Dog gone, for example, is a metaplasm of god damn. As a euphemism it is technically a figure of speech. You could claim that it is now so well established that many people use it without any consciousness of avoiding the harsher or more offensive term, and that hence it is not a euphemism and not a figure of speech. But I could then reply that fine -- then it's no longer an alternate spelling but an alternate word, and hence not a metaplasm either. I've got all the bases covered.

Gawd might be considered a euphemism in writing, but from my experience of the English language as she is spoken (and I happen to hear her every day), it is eye dialect.

In some cases -- particularly Middle English and Early Modern English, it can be difficult to decide whether a variant spelling is really a metaplasm. A relatively clear instance occurs (or possibly doesn't) in ``Two Noble Kinsmen,'' act 5, sc. 1, ll. 45-7:

                                      ... our intercession then
Must be to him that makes the Campe a Cestron
Brymd with the blood of men ...

(Bold emphasis added. ``Cestron'' here obviously means cistern. Shakespeare elsewhere used the spelling cestern (in ``Macbeth,'' ``Othello,'' ``Antony and Cleopatra,'' as well as cesterns in ``The Rape of Lucrece''). He never spelled it cistern or cistorn. It seems clear that cestron was not an ordinary spelling variant. In principle, it might just be a misspelling, but that would require postulating two discrete errors (ro for er) where a single one does not occur elsewhere. It seems probably intentional, although the effect achieved, beyond a kind of emphasis or vividness, is hard to describe. [I'm only basing myself on the Spevack concordance (details below). There's probably additional evidence to be gleaned from scholarly editions -- such as whether Folio and Quarto editions agree.]

For another, less convincing instance from Shakespeare, see the metathesis entry.

The Spevack concordance is six bound volumes of yellowing paper with the common title A Complete and Systematic Concordance to the Works of Shakespeare, edited or overseen or something by Marvin Spevack, output by an IBM 7094, and published by Georg Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung in Hildesheim in 1969.

The interchange of sounds within a word. As in ``cumfterble,'' ``eye-urn,'' and ``enviornment'' pernunciations of comfortable, iron, and environment. Sort of a word-internal Spoonerism. See also nookyuler.

If I think of any metatheses that don't involve an arr sound, I'll be sure to add them. There's almug and algum, but leafing through the Scrabble dictionary, even if you've been challenged, looks a lot like cheating. Okay, then, there's the English surname Apps, which arose by metathesis from æspe, the original Old English word for aspen. Of course, I would have preferred a pair of modern words -- something not involving a surname -- and I know you would too, so I'll keep looking.

Oh yeah -- ask pronounced as ``ax'' and asterisk as ``Asterix.'' There seems to be a slightly broader pattern here: most English metatheses involve an ess or arr sound. There's probably a good reason for this, and the next time I see my spichiartist, I'll be sure to ask. For insensitive jokes about dyslexics, based on preposterous metatheses, start reading (or stop reading, if that's how you do it) at the Dyslexic Occultist entry. (Metatheses involving a sibilant like s and a velar or alveolar stop -- k and t, resp. -- are relatively common. Different ancient Greek dialects sometimes differed in the order of these sounds in various words.)

The rock musician Sly Stone (famous as leader of Sly and the Family Stone, which had a great run at the end of the 1960's) was born Sylvester Stewart in 1947. He got the Sly nickname in school. Reportedly, a fellow fifth-grade student made an error spelling it in a spelling bee (they asked for name spellings in a spelling bee?) and afterwards other students teased him with it. Frankly, it's not such an unusual nickname as to need a special derivation. [According to this page, ``[t]he `Family Stone' came from the fact that Sly, his sister Rosie and brother Freddie all adopted the stage name `Stone' when they formed their new band.'' It is probably also worth noting that stone is a general intensifier in Black English Vernaculars (not just ``stone cold'' but ``stone drunk,'' ``stone in love,'' etc.), so the choice was not arbitrary.]

Metathesis is sometimes intentional, as in the case of Sly Stone, perhaps. In other words, metathesis can be a figure of speech. (This metathesis is a special case of the more general deliberate misspelling figure: metaplasm, q.v.) It's a little tricky tracing this back in time in English, because English spelling has never been entirely regular.

One instance occasionally adduced as a metathesis is from ``The Merry Wives of Windsor,'' act 2, sc. 1. Pistol speaks these lines in a conversation with Ford, warning him not to be the cuckold (ll. 117-9 or 122-4):

With liver burning hot. Frevent, or go thou,
Like Sir Acteon he, with Ringwood at thy heels:
O, odious is the name!

Some people seem to regard frevent as a metathesis of fervent, perhaps related to the burning-hot liver. (That would make the location of the word an instance of hyperbaton, but that is so common in Shakespeare as hardly to merit mention.) It seems that most, however, take ``Frevent'' as a typesetting error for ``Prevent,'' and this happens to make sense.

In ancient myth, Acteon was out hunting with his hounds and accidentally encountered the goddess Diana while she was bathing naked. She turned him into a stag and he was eventually devoured by his own dogs. That would make Acteon the prototype of the voyeur punished. However, there was a legend that in some villages in Europe (just never this one, apparently), a man was collectively humiliated when his wife gave birth to a child recognizably not his own. This must have been quite a burden on couples who shared a lot of recessive genes. According to the tradition, there would be a parade in which the supposed cuckold would be forced to wear antlers. There doesn't seem to be any more evidence for this practice than for the Acteon-Diana story, but it did give rise to expressions like ``wearing the horns of a cuckold.'' Since Acteon wore antlers and suffered ignominiously, he came to be the representative cuckold.

The main source for the myth of Acteon and Diana is Ovid's Metamorphoses, book III. There the names of 31 hounds are given (there are others too numerous to name). No, I don't have this entry mixed up with the Baskin-Robbins entry. The last named hound is a shrill-voiced one named Hylactor. Golding's 1567 translation (the first) into English of Ovid's Metamorphoses, and Golding translated Hylactor as `Ringwood.' (The name Hylactor is also used in the Fabellae of C. Julius Hyginus in his version of the Acteon story.)

Whether that's an approprate translation is an involved question. I haven't the time for a full investigation, but here are a few disconnected facts. The well-known Greek word hylê means `wood,' though it was used in extended senses, particularly for `matter' in general (see the HYLE entry). There is a dog named Hyleús in Xenophon's Cynegeticus 7.5. That name is traditionally translated as `Ringwood.' Well, that's the single translation offered by the LSJ. I'm not sure how far the translation is justified. The proper noun Ringwood in English is a place name that apparently originally meant `the woods of the Regni,' the last being an ancient tribe. There is no common noun ringwood (at least not one mentioned by the OED), but on the pattern of other words, like ring-tail, one would expect ringwood to be wood with rings. Hyleús doesn't really have enough morpheme in it after `wood,' so one could hardly squeeze out a `ring.' Maybe the translation is intended to suggest that the dog goes around the woods.

So much for the dog name Hyleús, and for one traditional ``Ringwood.'' The name Hylactor (so written in the Latin of Ovid and Hyginus) evidently recalls the Greek verb hylaktéô, `I howl' (or bay, bark, or growl, but it is applied only to dogs, or metaphorically to humans). Funny how Greek and English have words that seem to connect barking and trees. (The English word, of course, is bark, but perhaps I'm barking up the wrong tree here.) I would have guessed that as a name, Hylactor would just mean `howler.' That would also jibe with the mention of his shrill voice. (Similar scattered comments for some other dogs indicate that the names tend to be appropriate.) But I'm no expert. Frank Justus Miller, Ph.D., LL.D., Professor in the University of Chicago, wrote (in a footnote) in his Loeb of the Metamorphoses (1916) that the English name of Hylactor is `Mountaineer.' My only insight into this is that mountaineers carry wooden staffs, and that maybe dogs howling are associated with mountains. Beats me. Ah -- I have a better insight: His footnote, which gives the ``English names of these hounds in their order,'' has the order actually scrambled. Another dog's name, also evidently mistranslated, is given as ``Barker.'' Sheesh!

A real-time entry -- can't beat it. (What, you think after doing all that research and typing up a bare summary, and finally realizing that it was all just an ordering confusion in a footnote, I should erase all that and only give the translation? Go to hell!) So the answer to the ``involved question'' posed above is finally ``no'': Golding's translation of Hylactor as `Ringwood' was a howler.

Morgantown Energy Technology Center. Also known as Federal Energy Technology Center (FETC) - Morgantown (MGN).

Metcalfe's Law
The value of a network can be measured by the square of the number of users.

Conclusion of an argument made by Bob Metcalfe, promoting computer networking standards in 1980. Name conferred by George Gilder in his book Telecosm.

Market power is also deemed to vary as the square (of market share); see HHI.

METal matrix Composite (MMC) ANalyzer.

For the benefit of Morse code tappers who are seeking new careers in an ancient language, we present a conversion chart between Morse Code and metrical feet. Just remember that dits (dots) are like short syllables in quantitative verse and like unstressed syllables in accentual verse, and dahs (dashes) aren't.

Letter Keying Pattern Metrical Foot Name Comments
A .- iamb Most common foot in English verse, and German and Russian verse as well.
B -... paeon primus Paeon with the long syllable in the first position. This and paeon quartus (V) are the two most common paeons in Greek meter.
C -.-. ditrochee or dichoreus A foot composed of two trochees (N). Not a common foot in any ancient meter, and it's also the accentual pattern of the word Macarena.
D -.. dactyl Common in English verse. D is for dactyl.
E . (thesis) Thesis is not the name of a foot as such, but just designates the unstressed or short-syllable part of a metrical foot.
F ..-. paeon tertius Paeon with the long syllable in the third position.
G --. antibacchius
H .... proceleusmatic foot or tetrabrach The less common name simply means `four short.' There's something very fourish about the eighth letter of the English alphabet.
I .. pyrrhic foot or dibrach Better than a Pyrrhic victory.
J .--- first epitrite Epitrite with the short syllable first.
K -.- cretic foot or amphimacer Complement of an amphibrach.
L .-.. paeon secundus Paeon with the long syllable in the second position.
M -- spondee Common in English verse.
N -. trochee or choreus Common in English verse. Very common in children's verse in English.
O --- molossus
P .--. antispast I guess it precedes the maisn curse. Complement of a choriamb (X).
Q --.- third epitrite Epitrite with the short syllable third.
R .-. amphibrach Amphibrach means `both [ends] short.'
S ... tribrach The name simply means `three short.'
T - (arsis) Well dah. It's not a usual foot, though you might regard it as a contracted dibrach (I). Arsis is not the name of a foot as such, but just designates the stressed or long-syllable part of a metrical foot.
U ..- anapest Common in English verse.
V ...- paeon quartus Paeon with the long syllable in the last position. This and paeon primus (B) are the two most common paeons in Greek meter.
W .-- bacchius Since it's named after the god of the fermented fruit of the vine, you might remember di-dah-dah as a grape hanging off a length of vine.
X -..- choriamb Composed of a choreus (N) followed by a iamb (A). Cf. antispast (P).
Y -.-- second epitrite Epitrite with the short syllable second. The Y is sort of a second way to represent consonantal J, and Morse code for J corresponds to a first epitrite foot.
Z --.. greater Ionic Cf. lesser Ionic (Ü).
À, Å [non-English extension to Morse code] .--.- dochmius One or more of the long syllables (especially the second syllable) may be resolved (i.e., replaced by two short syllables). Either or both of the short syllables may be replaced by a long syllable.
Ä, Æ [non-English extension to Morse code] .-.- diiamb Two iambs combined into one foot.
ch [non-English extension to Morse code] ---- dispondee Two spondees combined into one foot.
Ö, Ø [non-English extension to Morse code];
! in old North American landline telegraphy.
---. fourth epitrite Epitrite with the short syllable last.
Ü [non-English extension to Morse code] ..-- lesser Ionic It's also called the smaller Ionic, but it's the same length as the greater Ionic (Z). The only difference is that the long syllables come first in the greater Ionic. It just goes to show that first impressions matter.

The fundamental SI unit of length, or at least the unprefixed one. Since this is, or, well, started out to be, a museum, er, glossary, of acronyms and abbreviations, you should have should have gone to the m entry first. (You are forgiven. Now go forth and multiply or something.)


Revista Argentina de Filosofía Antigua/Argentine Journal for Ancient Philosophy. As I add this entry in January 2002, the Argentine economy is in a free-fall that is scary even to those of us who remember the 1970's. The ancient philosophy of greatest immediate utility would appear to be stoicism.

Mission-Essential Task List. Okay, enough with the testing-your-mettle puns, already!

METRA, Metra
METropolitan RAil. Operates most trains between Chicago (IL) and its suburbs. Cf. NICTD. Officially the Northeastern Illinois Railroad Corp., or maybe Northeastern Illinois Regional Commuter Rail Corp.


metrical foot
Okay, look: you've caught us at a bad moment (2006, to be precise), when we're rearranging some of our informational furnishings. Right now, the information that should be here eventually temporarily has been copied over to the meter entry, where it is better-organized and more complete. When we've cleaned up a little around here, we'll let some of that information sort of slosh back in here, maybe.

metric foot
Thirty centimetres, or 11.811024 inches. (That's 11 in., 9 ll., and about 61 mils left over, for those of you keeping track of the score at home.) A standard length unit for lumber in the UK.

During the 57th Congress of the United States (1901-1903), the House Committee on Coinage, Weights and Measures held hearings on the adoption of the metric system. A pamphlet was published containing the testimony heard by that committee. In 1904, Frederick A. Halsey published The Metric Fallacy (New York: D. Van Nostrand Co.), which excerpted some of that testimony. To those who say that Halsey may have excerpted tendentiously, I say, ``go study the Congressional Record (or the pamphlet if you can find it) and email me a detailed summary of your findings.''

Here, from pp. 13-14 of Halsey's book, are some estimates of how long the transition to metric units might take:

City transit operator in METROpolitan Seattle, Washington (AC).

Here's a little reminder of what we've been missing since Dave Barry retired.

In lifestyle news [for January 2004], the hot trend is ``metrosexuals'' -- young males who are not gay but are seriously into grooming and dressing well. There are only eight documented cases of males like this, all living in two Manhattan blocks, but they are featured in an estimated 17,000 newspaper and magazine articles over the course of about a week, after which this trend, like a minor character vaporized by aliens in a ``Star Trek'' episode, disappears and is never heard from again.

Etymologically, metrosexual is akin to Oedipean (vide metropolis, infra). Incidentally, I heard of an English girl born in the 70's who was named ``Jocasta''! Her high school friends called her ``Joker.'' Ha-ha, I'm sure. And I used to wonder how parents could bring themselves to name their daughters ``Cassandra.'' (I think now that ``Cassy'' became popular, and that ignorant sorts in the nineteenth century started supposing it was short for Cassandra. One name it had been short for was Alexandra.)

You know what a metropolis is, so I'm not going to define it. I do want to point out that the word is etymologically (and in a rarer, older acception) ``mother city.'' It is ultimately derived from the Greek words mêtêr (`mother') and polis (`city'). (Yes, yes, the Greeks used e's there. Hence a name taken from the mother is a metronymic, as one from the father is a patronymic.)

The preceding information is of no use to you. My practical reason for including this entry is to alert you that the correct (well, etymologically Greek, anyway) plural form is metropoleis. It sounds a lot better than ``metropolises,'' too.

Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Mega-Electron-Volt[s]. A convenient energy unit for anyone who accelerates ions through potential drops that cumulatively amount to megavolts. Convenient for nuclear physicists and nuclear chemists, in other words.

The mass of an electron is 0.511 MeV/c2. The next-lighter known particle is the muon, with a mass of about 107 MeV/c2. The electron and muon are leptons (q.v.), the name assigned to express the fact that they are in fact light. There are also massless particles -- the photon and the as-yet-unobserved graviton. Then there are the neutrinos, ghostly uncharged leptons, one per charged lepton. Neutrinos were originally supposed to be massless, but evidence piling up since the 1980's indicates that they have mass. That mass is difficult to measure, but is on the order of a few eV/c2.

If I were speaking instead of writing, I would just have said ``on the order of a few electron volts.'' Five syllables might mark some kind of transition point. While ``electron volt'' and ``ee vee'' are at least comparably common in speech, ``mega-electron volt'' or ``million electron volt'' is rare compared to ``em ee vee'' among physicists. (I've never heard ``mevv,'' but I suppose there must be some weirdo out there who says it. For more about this kind of usage, see the GeV entry.)

Multiple-Employer Welfare Arrangement. A kind of health insurance policy that pools the employees in a number of small businesses so they can obtain less expensive ``group'' rates. In the US, every MEWA must be licensed by the insurance department of the local (usually state) jurisdiction in which the policy is sold.

A common form of health insurance scam is a MEWA that operates as a Ponzi scheme. (See IRC entry for explanation and some history.) Since the pricing of insurance policies is a matter of uncertain calculation, it is difficult to prove criminal intent when these schemes fail. So long as the scam artist skims off the top in a formally legitimate manner (e.g., by taking a high salary), other criminal sanctions (such as those for embezzlement or fraudulent accounting) are inapplicable. Sometimes civil penalties (fines for restitution and possibly further damages) may be assessed under contract law.

Mexican Hat
  1. A Utah town on the northern end of the Navajo Nation reservation.
  2. A mathematical function. The Mexican hat function is the Laplacian of a (usually two-dimensional) Gaussian. It's used in edge detection.

A list of Mexican WWW servers (servidores) by state is available.

Mitteleuropäische Zeit. German: `Central European Time' (CET). For much more than you care to know, see the entry for standard time zone A, which is the same zone.

Me-109, ME-109
MEsserschmitt-109. A WWII-era fighter plane built for the German Luftwaffe by Messerschmitt, A.G. It was a single-engine, low-wing monoplane with a crew of one. Maximum speed at altitude: about 350 MPH at its introduction in 1939, raised to about 420 MPH by 1944.

FWIW, the family name of the company founder, Messerschmitt, means `knife smith' in German.

Me-110, ME-110
MEsserschmitt-110. A WWII Luftwaffe fighter. It was a twin-engine, low-wing monoplane with a crew of two. Maximum speed at altitude: about 360 MPH in 1940.

Me-163, ME-163
MEsserschmitt-163. A WWII Luftwaffe interceptor-fighter. It was a mid-wing monoplane with a single liquid-rocket engine with a one-man crew. Maximum speed at altitude: about 550 MPH in 1945. Sometimes also referred to as the JU-163.

Me-262, ME-262
MEsserschmitt-262. A WWII Luftwaffe fighter. A twin-jet, low-wing monoplane; one-man crew. Maximum speed at altitude: about 525 MPH in 1944. Service ceiling: 40,000 feet.

Mean Field. The average field used as an approximation in a mean field theory. A sort of best-constant approximation to a quantity that depends in a possibly hopelessly complicated way on (possibly infinitely) many variables.

Medium Frequency. In radio transmission and other electromagnetic radiation contexts, this means frequencies between 300 kHz and 3 MHz.

Membrane Filter. Hey -- pay attention! We're talkin' BEER. Millipore's membrane filters are the technology that made draft-quality beer-in-a-can a reality in the 1950's! How's that for a military-technology spin-off?

Uh, uM, a person who engages in incest oF a certain sort.



Master of Fine Arts.

Materials and Failure Analysis.

Montserrat (association) Football Association. A member of CONCACAF.

In the year MFA was founded and became affiliated with FIFA, 1996, Montserrat was the world's fastest-growing nation in proportional terms, and occasionally even in absolute terms -- 600,000 tons of ash, pumice, and rock on the night of September 17-18 alone.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Mass Flow Controller.

Microsoft Foundation Class. A class hierarchy that ``encapsulates the user interface portion of the [MS] Windows API, and makes it significantly easier to create Windows applications in an object oriented way. This hierarchy is available for and compatible with all versions of Windows. [3.1, NT, 95; not my idea of ``versions''] The code you create in MFC is extremely portable.'' But not as portable as Java AWT code.

Millard Fillmore College of UB for continuing education and summer sessions.

m/f/d/v, M/F/D/V
Minority, Female, Disabled, Veteran. My guess, anyway. I don't think it stands for Male, Female, DiVerse. It's very fashionable now (2004) to include something like ``EEO employer. M/F/D/V'' at the ends of job announcements. Whatever happened to ``race, creed, or national origin''? Out of fashion, I guess.

On Friday after election day in 1992, president-elect Bill Clinton named Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., and Warren Christopher to head his transition team. Their main business was personnel. ``A diverse government'' was one stated goal of the process.

Appearing that Sunday November 8 on ABC's ''This week with David Brinkley,'' Jordan was asked whether the country was ready for its first black attorney general. Jordan, who is black (and a lawyer who was rumored to be in line for that post), replied levelly, ``I believe that America is ready for an able, competent attorney general regardless of race, sex, or previous condition of servitude.'' That was a joke, son. Jordan's anachronistic formula echoed the words of section 1 of the fifteenth amendment to the US Constitution:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

And that amendment was not ancient history to Jordan. Interviewed by Ebony magazine for the January issue, he recalled ``my friend, Primus King, an itinerant Black preacher, unlettered but learned, who brought with great courage, conviction, fortitude, and fearlessness the case, King v. Chapman, that gave Blacks in Georgia the right to vote in the Democratic primary. While this is an exalted position and a great honor, every day in this office I remind myself that I stand on Primus King's shoulders and so do President-elect Bill Clinton and Vice President-elect Al Gore.''

Meant For Each Other.

meine freundlich[st]e Grüsse. German, `my [most] friendly greetings.' Typical sign-off at end of a letter. When it is a sentence or the beginning of a sentence, the em is capitalized: MfG.

Master of the Fox Hounds. An honored occupation in Victorian English life. Also called ``Master of the Hounds'' or just ``Master.''

MF In Charge. Acronym is reported to have engaged in pleonasm: ``MFIC in charge.''

MFKP signaling
Multifrequency Key Pulse signaling.

Modern Foreign Languages.

Magnetic Force Microscop{e|y}. Similar to an AFM, but with a ferromagnetic tip, and the force not due to current tunneling but to magnetic forces. Useful for mapping magnetic fields. Cf. other types of scanning-probe microscopy (SPM).

Modified Frequency Modulation.

Malaysian Footwear Manufacturers Association.

Most Favored Nation. Normal import-tariff status of US trading partners. Anything less than MFN really amounts to a US protest against the international trade behavior of a country.

Psst! Listen, but keep this under your hat: a bill to change the name from `most favored nation' (a terminological oddity from the eighteenth century) to `normal trade relations' is making its way quietly through Congress. It passed the Senate by unanimous consent on Sept. 11, 1996. The House will be a bigger hurdle, but the odds for the bill look good nevertheless.

Market-Facing Organization. I don't know what -- if anything -- this means, but Scott Adams, in a promo for his book, The Dilbert Principle, specifically identifies this as having appeared in an ``actual company memo.''

Multinational Force and Observers. Usually more observers than force.

Mean Free Path. The mean distance traversed between collisions. Note that one also distinguishes elastic mfp and inelastic mfp. Cf. mft.


Multilink Frame Relay.

Magnetic-Field Sensor.

Marriage and Family Therapy. Sounds like just the cure for anyone afflicted with an excess of disposable income, but the term is used (perhaps I should say also used) for counseling of family groups as opposed to individuals.

Can we say ``co - de - pen - dent''? Sssuuuuurrre we can!

Massachusetts Federation of Teachers. Teachers' union affiliated with the AFT. The state also has a competing NEA affiliate, MTA.

Mean Field Theory. An approximation for systems described by fields. Basically, the approach is to treat the field as if it had the same value everywhere, a mean field value, so that in effect the field is reduced to a simple variable. MFT attempts to find the best value of that mean field. This is a pretty radical simplification, but it is often effective. In a nonlinear system, even the mean-field version of a problem can be pretty difficult to solve. A standard application is in Landau-Ginzburg models of statistical systems, and often the terms L-G and MFT are used interchangeably.

At the board, on writing paper, or wherever one is not restricted by predetermined character sets, it is not uncommon to write MFT with a theta instead of a tee.

Mean Free Time. Like mfp, also available in elastic and inelastic flavors.

Montana Federation of Teachers. A state teachers' union affiliated with the AFT, which merged in 2000 with the NEA-affiliated MEA to form the MEA-MFT.

Metal-Free TOLED (q.v.).

Something about anger, I guess, and cable television.

Minimum Fluidization Velocity.

Male/Female/Veteran/Disabled. That's the etymology. Naturally, the correct expansion of d is ``challenged.'' Soon m will be expanded ``alternatively-gendered.'' As brilliant new research is conclusively and scientifically proving, however, male and female are socially constructed frauds. The terms have no objective meaning except when they are used to demonstrate that males oppress females. In reality, there is a rich multidimensional continuum of sexual identities. Lemme outta here.

(Domain name code for) Madagascar.

Chemical symbol for MaGnesium. Atomic number 12. The second-lightest alkaline earth, or the lightest alkaline earth, or the heaviest element in its periodic-table group not to be an alkaline earth. (Seek clarification at the alkaline earth entry.) Not to be confused with Manganese (Mn), fool!

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

Matt Groening's ``single-theory-to-explain-everything maniac'' points out that

The nation that controls magnesium controls the Universe!

Magnesium burns hot and bright when ignited in an ordinary atmosphere. This added to the excitement of car races when magnesium wheels were first introduced for their light weight. This is one reason why alloy wheels were subsequently introduced.

Major General. A rank.

Metallurgical Grade. [A starting point in the process of purifying silicon (MGS, q.v.).]

MilliGram. Should be uncapitalized (``milligram'') when written out. One one-thousandth of a gram (g).

MG, M.G.
A small car made by British Leyland. Earlier an independent make of car. Now, M.G. has an expansion, but it is extremely subtle, so pay attention: The M in M.G. refers to Morris, as in William (``Billy'') Morris. He owned Morris Garages, where M.G.'s were made, and the G in M.G. indeed refers to Garages. Moreover, the Garages that the G honors are none other than the Morris Garages owned by Billy Morris. However, M.G. does not stand for ``Morris Garages.'' Instead, it is simply a two-letter name that honors both Morris and his garages. You will have noticed that, in addition to the two letters, the name is written with two dots, or periods, which normally suggest abbreviation. Make no mistake: in this case they do not indicate abbreviation. They are there simply for decorative purposes. They do not occur in the car names MGA and MGB.

Know what? As long as I'm here, why don't I talk about MG cars? Sure!

The place to begin is with Morris cars. William Morris, who operated a cycle shop in Oxford from the 1890's, briefly entered the motorcycle business, and then went into the car business in 1910. This web page claims that the Morris Oxford was introduced in 1913, and the Morris Cowley in 1915, and that ``[e]fficient production methods allowed large numbers of these cars to built before the Great War started.'' That must have been efficient indeed, since the Great War started in August 1914 (Britain was in it from the first month). Anyway, after the usual conversion to and from war production, Morris Motors Ltd. continued manufacturing improved versions of the Oxford and the Cowley. I'm not going to sort out the early history because Morris is not an acronym.

Now, TTBOMKAU, by 1922 Morris had moved his manufacturing activities (Morris Motors, Ltd.) to Cowley (the town, not the car). He continued to maintain a retail and service operation in Oxford (originally the Morris garage; ``Morris Garages'' after other Oxford properties had been acquired in 1913). In 1921, Cecil Kimber (1888-1945) became sales manager at Morris Garages, Ltd., and in 1922 succeeded to general manager. In 1923 he began selling a sporty modified version of the Morris Cowley ``Bullnose'' in 1923. This model, known as the Morris Garages Chummy, had an alternate body built onto an unmodified Cowley chassis. In the next few years, Morris Garages Specials were sold that departed increasingly from the Cowleys they were based on, with modified (lowered) chassis and outsourced bodies (originally from a shop called Carbodies) and engines. The first pure MG design came out in 1928. In 1929, the special-car business had outgrown the Morris Garages at Oxford and was moved to Abingdon, where Cecil Kimber founded the M.G. Car Company Ltd. The rest is history. So's the part that went before, but they say this anyway. You can read an overview history or a less picture-intensive but slightly saltier history, or you can go off and do your own web search -- I'm not stopping you. On page two of this newsletter, you can see that Cecil Kimber was insistent on the point made above, that ``M.G. does not stand for Morris Garages.'' He also looked askance at the writing of the company name using ``MG'' (i.e., without the dots). Hey! Old man! Did you notice that your famous octagonal logo, which made its first appearance in 1924, never had the dots? Gimme a break, really.

William Morris eventually got into the philanthropy business and was made Lord Nuffield. This William Morris is no relation to the New York vaudeville agent who in 1898 started the business that eventually (1918) was incorporated as the William Morris Agency. (Nor, either of these, to the William Morris (1834-1896) famous in Britain as the founder of the Arts and Crafts Movement.)

While we're on name coincidences involving modeling agencies and automobile manufacturers, I must mention the Ford Modeling Agency, cofounded in 1946 by the famous Eileen Ford and her husband Jerry. These Fords are apparently no particular relation of the Henry Ford who founded the Ford Motor Company. Comparisons are probably inevitable. Here are some from a New York Times article on the occasion of the modeling agency's twentieth anniversary,

[The Ford Model Agency] is to fashion and advertising what the other Ford organization is to the automtive industry -- one of the biggest and most successful. ... Among Stewart, Plaza Five, Gillis McGill and Ford -- the top four agencies in the country -- most fashion editors and advertising casting directors place Ford first.
  Ask the Fords how they got there and they say that they, like the auto company's founder, had a better idea.
  Jerry (for Gerod) Ford, president of the agency, which handles both male and female models, said: ``In the old days half the models did their own billing -- when they remembered their appointments and to ask to be paid. But even then they often didn't get their money, which meant the agency didn't get its fees.
  ``It was a way of doing business that was partly responsible for the demise of John Robert Powers, Bob Taft and Harry Conover, agencies that once led the field. Eileen modeled for Conover before we were married.''   To avoid confusion, Mr. Ford helped develop a system (since adopted by other agencies) for recording telephone orders and cancellations for models, a voucher system by which the agency pays the models in advance and then collects from the clients and a sophisticated cross index of their models with their available times so that this information can be supplied to clients in seconds.

They got 10% of each model's earnings, and collected an additional 10% from each client. At the time of the article (Dec. 21, 1966, p. 57; byline Bernadette Carey), the Ford Agency was just starting to move from index cards to a computer database.

Another Ford who is no particular relation of the famous Henry is former US president Gerald R. Ford, who represented a Michigan congressional district that was near Detroit, in some sense of the word near. Gerald Ford's wife Betty (maiden name Elizabeth Bloomer) had been a model in New York, but before the Ford Agency existed. (Gerald Ford, a football player at U of M and a football coach on the side when he attended Yale Law, also did some modeling work.)

If it had anything to do with Morris Garages, I'd be sure to mention that the model Christie Brinkley is not known to be related to the late TV news anchor Huntley Brinkley, er, I mean David Brinkley. Christie was a supermodel, one of the dozens of models who is incorrectly claimed to have been the first to be called a supermodel. In August 2000, she was a superdelegate from New York at the Democratic Party convention in LA. Super!

Motor-Generator. An MG set is a paired motor and generator. The two main applications are in electric power generation and conversion. The power generation application is obvious. It's probably more common to encounter the term in off-grid situations, describing power generation for on-site or in-vehicle (sub, ship, plane) consumption, but the term is also used in cental power plants. Until fuel-cell technology is much improved, MG sets will be the only practical way to convert, say, diesel fuel into amperage. The power conversion application is mostly for use when the available and required power frequencies are not the same (values of frequency here understood to often include zero -- DC power). In these cases the motor is electric. In many cases it's more efficient to use an AC-driven MG with DC output rather than a rectifier.

In typical configurations, the motor and generator of an MG set run synchronously and are directly coupled -- via belt, gears, or a common shaft. The exception I know of is the MG sets used for tokomaks. Tokomaks require a lot of power to build the magnetic confinement fields, but this power is needed only for periods of a few seconds. The power is provided by a bank of MG sets with flywheels. The motors rev up the flywheels over a period of minutes, and then the flywheels turn the generators, slowing down in a few seconds. I remember reading about a bus system in Scandinavia someplace years ago, that used flywheels to store power either from braking or from continuously running motors.

Multi-Grid. Describes discrete-grid-based simulation codes in which grid spacing is not uniform or multiple (possibly hierarchically related) grids are used. (Of course, it is common in finite-difference integration of partial differential equations to have different orders of derivative defined at alternating nodes of the same grid. This is not called multi-grid simulation.)

Meteorological & Geoastrophysical Abstracts. [Thank God for cut-and-paste. Or thank XEROX PARC. Whoever has the patent.] A subscription service of the American Meteorological Society (AMS).

A model introduced by MG in September 1955, supposedly based on an experimental LeMans car used earlier that year (based on the Austin B-Series engine). The MGA is remembered today primarily as the precursor of the MGB.

Probably the most popular car model ever sold by MG. Introduced in 1962 as the successor of the MGA.

The MGB was one of those cars that inspired affectionate loyalty in its owners. One of the Stammtisch Beau Fleuve members (alpha chapter) had an MGA and has more interesting memories. I'll have to interview her for the glossary.

Mutual Group Centre. The nice thing about this name is that it consists of common nouns which suggest almost nothing about the thing named. (For a time, it belonged to the Mutual Life Assurance Company of Canada.) The complex (office towers and a ground-level shopping concourse) was originally known as the Shipp Centre, and is now (2003) known as the Clarica Centre. The popularity that the MGC name achieved in its time may be seen from the fact that addresses are often given in something like the following form ``3300 Bloor Street West (at Islington), Clarica Centre (formerly the Shipp Center), Toronto, Ontario.'' In point of fact, it has probably never been known as the MGC, elsewhere than in this glossary. Indeed, there appear to be no glossaries that expand this particular MGC. Therefore, we have inserted this entry to fill the unmet need.

Media Gateway Control Protocol. See MAC entry regarding ``Media.''

Miller Genuine Draft. Beer has diuretic effect.

Gee, they're advertising. I should drink more.

Million Gallons per Day. For something a bit more informative, see the gallons-per-day entry gpd.

Beer consumption in the US is roughly 25 gallons per annum per capita, so for some of the more popular brands, MGD is about the scale of consumption.

Magnesium Fluoride. Used for optical antireflection coatings (ARC, q.v.), inter alia.

Monumenta Germaniae Historica. That's Latin for (the catalog of) `German Historical Monuments.'

Mortgage Guarantee Insurance Corporation.

`National Council of Security' of Turkey. An unelected monitoring body created in the 1982 constitution (still in effect as of 2007) following the 1980 coup. It has supremacy over the parliament and the government, and has almost exclusive control over the armed forces and the internal security apparatus.

Metro Goldwyn Mayer. Marcus Loew (1870-1927), a cinema owner, bought Metro Pictures in 1920, and a controlling interest in Goldwyn Pictures and Louis B. Mayer Pictures in 1924. Loew made Mayer vice president and general manager of MGM.

Frances Gumm was born in Grand Rapids, Minn., on June 10, 1922. (I don't know if people in Minnesota commonly abbreviate their Grand Rapids by GR, but we've got a GR entry waiting for them if they do.) Judy Garland stopped singing permanently in 1969. Before that, she said

I was born at the age of twelve on the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lot.

Goldwyn Pictures was a partnership formed in 1916 by the two brothers-in-law Samuel Goldfish and Edgar Selwyn. Goldfish had been born Shmuel Gelbfisz in 1884, which is the Polish spelling of the Yiddish name translated to Samuel Goldfish when he came to America. In requesting a name change in 1918, he told the judge that everybody assumed his name was Goldwyn. In 1923 he began his own company, called Samuel Goldwyn Productions.

O. V. Michaelsen reports in Words At Play: Quips, Quirks & Oddities (1998) that Goldwyn never said ``Include me out.''

MGM now uses the slogan ``MGM Means Great Movies,'' which is almost a XARA.

Medical Group Management Association.

MGreek, MGrk.
Usually refers to monotonic (only one kind of accent) demotic (popular) language spoken in Greece in the last couple of centuries.

Malaysian Government Securities.

Mars Global Surveyor. A spacecraft launched by NASA on November 7, 1996, with a target lifetime of about three years. It had a very successful run, operating longer at Mars than any other spacecraft in history.

In November 2006, it was inadvertently killed. According to an internal review board summary, on ``Nov. 2, after the spacecraft was ordered to perform a routine adjustment of its solar panels, the spacecraft reported a series of alarms, but indicated that it had stabilized. That was its final transmission. Subsequently, the spacecraft reoriented to an angle that exposed one of two batteries carried on the spacecraft to direct sunlight. This caused the battery to overheat and ultimately led to the depletion of both batteries. Incorrect antenna pointing prevented the orbiter from telling controllers its status, and its programmed safety response did not include making sure the spacecraft orientation was thermally safe.'' Apparently the incorrect antenna pointing was ultimately due to ``a computer error [sic] made five months before the likely battery failure.''

Metallurgical-Grade Silicon. Refined by reduction from quartzite ore or good clean sand. (The quartzite is the oxidant in the high-temperature burning of some carbon fuel.) About 98% pure, it's the start of the refinement process that leads to EGS.

Mason Gross School of the Arts. (the name is normally written all lower case, because lower-case initials are more artistic.)

Mathematics Graduate Students Association. There's one at Berkeley. There's one at Toronto. There are probably others.
Mid-Georgia Soaring Association.

Minority Graduate Student Association. There's one at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), born out of the AMP. And here's a link to the one at Middle Tennessee State University. What is it with these middles of Southern states?

Modern Greek Studies Association.

Multicultural Graduate Students' Association. Way back in 1999, one was founded at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

Music Graduate Students Association. There's one at the University of Toronto.

Mahatma Gandhi University. A/k/a ``M G University.'' This seems to be the only one. There isn't even one in the state of Gujarat (his place of birth, retrospectively). By contrast, there are at least three universities currently named for Rajiv Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi University was first established as Gandhiji University. ``Gandhiji'' is a polite or respectful inflection of the name ``Gandhi,'' whereas ``Mahatma'' means `great soul.' (This was used, by others, in place of his actual given name, which was Mohandas.) The majority view seems to be that ``Mahatma Gandhiji'' is slightly over the top. (Speakers of European languages ought to recognize the roots of ``Mahatma,'' which are cognate with the English words like major, mayor and atmosphere (or German atmen, to breathe.')

The university was officially established by Act 12 of 1985 of the Kerala State Legislature, and approved by the governor on April 17, 1985. However, that 1985 act includes (ch. I, sec. 1, subsection (2)) the statement that ``[the act] shall be deemed to have come into force on the 2nd day of October, 1983.'' I don't know when the university actually came into operation; many online resources state baldly that the university was ``established on 2 October 1983.''

The university name was changed by the legislature's Act II (it does not appear to be Act 11) of 1988, which had the so-called short title of ``The Gandhiji University (Amendment and Special Provisions) Act, 1988.'' That act doesn't say precisely that the University's name is changed. Rather, it makes a number of amendments to the 1985 act (the one that was deemed to have established a university in 1983). Most of these amendments consist of changing ``Gandhiji University'' to ``Mahatma Gandhi University'' separately in various sections and subsections of the original act. Most of the 1988 act ``shall be deemed to have come into force on the 28th of January, 1988.''

The structure of the 1988 act is puzzling without being confusing. Sections 3, 4, and 5 amend three specific parts of the 1985 act. The amendment in each case is the substitution of the words ``Mahatma Gandhi University'' for the original words ``Gandhiji University.'' Section 6 provides for the same substitution throughout the 1985 act, with the explicit exception of the three places where the substitution is made by the aforementioned sections 3, 4, and 5 of the 1988 act. The specific places mentioned are subsection (1) of section 1 of the 1985 act, clause (31) of section 2 of the 1985 act, and subsection (1) of section 3 of the 1985 act. These are amended in sections 3-5, respectively, of the 1988 act. (These subsections and clause are the only places where ``Gandhiji University'' occurred in the first three sections of the 1985 act, so the stipulation of subsection and clause numbers is nugatory.)

Sections 3-6 together seem to have the same effect that section 6 alone would have had if the explicit exceptions had been removed. I can think of three possible explanations for the separate treatments: (a) The version of the 1988 law that I am reading originally treated the three named sections of the 1985 act differently, but the 1988 act has itself been modified by some later act, making the original distinction invisible. (b) There is some magical distinction between making an ``amendment'' in which ``the expression'' (or ``the words'') <foo> is substituted for <bar>, on the one hand (secs. 3-5), and simply making a ``substitution'' of ``the expression'' <foo> for ``the expression'' <bar>, on the other hand (section 6). (c) Kerala legislators are paid by the word.

If computer programmers wrote this way, you'd see C code like

if ( (x == 3) || (x == 4) || (x == 5) )
  x = 0;
  x = 0;
This is bloated. Better:
if (x != 0)
  x = 0;
/* And most compactly... */

Incidentally, section 2 of the 1988 act amends the long title of the 1985 act. Go check out the pdf yourself. The 1988 act begins at page 75.

Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance.

Million Gallons per Year. Of water, probably. See the gallons-per-day entry gpd.

Malignant Hyperthermia.

(Domain name code for) Marshall Islands.

Message Handling.

Metal-Halide (lamp).

Mueller-Hinton Agar.

Mueller-Hinton Broth.

Major Histocompatibility Complex. A segment of DNA that codes for a part of the immune system that distinguishes self and non-self.

Mount Holyoke College. Founded as the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary by Mary Lyon in 1837, it was the first post-secondary school in the US exclusively for women. (Oberlin, founded in 1833, was co-ed from the start, and the first women matriculated for the baccalaureate degree course in 1837.)

MHC's brief history summary includes this: ``Mount Holyoke's early history is one of struggle and triumph over tremendous odds. The country was in the grip of economic depression when Lyon set about gathering the means with which to establish her institution.'' This is mild understatement. The years-long depression that began with the [bank] Panic of 1837 was the worst economic contraction in US history, exceeding even the Great Depression in misery if not duration. It was the last period in US history when large numbers of city-dwellers died of starvation and exposure.

MHC is, or was when they were seven, one of the Seven Sisters.


Material-Handling Device. An articulated arm or hoist, for example.

Abbreviation of German mittelhochdeutsch, `Middle High German.'' For further information on the concept, see the OHG entry. (For some comments on the capitalization convention, see ahd.)

Multimedia and Hypermedia Expert Group. (This site apparently defunct.)

Magnetic Hyperfine Field.

Middle High German. Cf. mhd.

Minnesota Hospital and Healthcare Partnership.

Mean Higher High Water Line.

Material Handling Institute of America.

Millstone Hill Observatory. Part of MIT's Haystack Observatory.

Ohm spelled backwards. An obsolete and egregious unit of conductance equal to one siemens or one inverse ohm. Still occurs in bawdy EE drinking songs like the one about cap and coil out by Wheatstone's Bridge. (Coil cries out. She wants ``Mho! Mho!'')

Speaking of coils, it seems the electrical engineers are a very twisted bunch, at least linguistically speaking. (I like to say ``linguistically speaking'' and ``literally spelled'' and stuff like that.) They also came up with ``imref.''

Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi. `Nationalist Movement Party' of Turkey. A chauvinistic ultranationalist party.

3-Methoxy-4-HydroxyPhenylGlycol. Psychoactive hormone.

Military History Quarterly. That's what MHQ stands for, but the periodical that uses MHQ as its short title is styled in full MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History.

Massachusetts Historical Review. An annual publication of the Massachusetts Historical Society. You know, the Red Sox didn't let just the Bambino slip through their fingers to New York. In April 1945, they passed up Jackie Robinson, just as the Brooklyn Dodgers were preparing to sign him to their farm system. (See the article in MHR vol. 6. In 1959, the Red Sox became the last MLB team to integrate.)

Material History Review / Revue d'histoire de la culture matérielle. [The corresponding French acronym, RHCM, is less used even in the French text (la Revue is preferred).]

Maximum Heart Rate. The red line on your heart tachometer. You needn't worry that you'll exceed it by pushing too hard. It is the maximum possible rate, determined by how long it takes your heart to do what it needs to do to pump. In the course of a single cycle, for every part of the heart muscle, it is the time needed to tighten and to relax. As we age, the time to tighten stays about constant, but the time to relax, like an old sponge trying to expand back into shape, gets longer. To a decent approximation for a majority of people, MHR in beats per minute is 220 minus age in years.

Message Handling { System | Service }. The system is defined by X.400.

Miniature High Voltage. A kind of coax connector, must withstand pulses with peak voltages of 5000V. About the size of BNC's; they're even called ``high-voltage BNC'' from the resemblance, but they don't mate (this is definitely not a design flaw).

MHV's have ``exposed'' center pins, so if you're going to be mucking around nearby, you might just prefer Safe High Voltage (SHV) coax connectors. Both MHV and SHV are intended to operate up to 50 MHz, but they have non-constant impedance structure.

The expansion of coax connectors' acronyms is notoriously uncertain. MHV is sometimes expanded ``Maximum'' or ``Modular'' High Voltage.

Mean High Water Line.

MegaHertZ. (When spelled out, SI rules call for named units to be written in lower case. Hence: megahertz.) A million Hz.

Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

Medieval Institute. Since the break-up of the Roman Empire (5pm, 476 A.D.), authority has been decentralized.

Michigan. USPS abbreviation. One state (AR is another) for which the quasistandard URL form http://www.state.mi.us/ does not work.

The Villanova University Law School provides some links to state government web sites for Michigan. USACityLink.com has a page with mostly city and town links for the state.


MIle. From Latin mille passuum, `one thousand paces' or five thousand (Roman) feet. The Roman foot was only 29.6 cm long, so the Roman mile was 1.480 km. (Cf. M, m.)

The English foot is 30.48 cm long (see barleycorn), and an English mile has 5280 of them, making an 1 mile equal to 1.609344 km. It takes seven digits in kilometers to get the same accuracy that you get with just one digit in miles! It just proves yet again how inconvenient and unwieldy all those mutually incompatible metric systems are.

Military Intelligence, British abbreviation. Ian Fleming's James Bond works for MI-5. As early as a speech in 1920, O. G. Villard said
``Military intelligence--a contradiction in terms.''
The phrase is commonly attributed to Groucho Marx.

Minority Institution. DARPA usage similar to HBCU.

Myocardial Infarction. Heart attack.

IATA code for Miami International Airport, at Miami, FL, USA. Here's its status in real time from the ATCSCC.

According to the LatinCEO issue mentioned at the FTAA entry, 76% of (of the dollar value of) US airborne exports to Latin America and the Caribbean and 79% of US airborne imports therefrom, pass through MIA. The information source is MIA itself. Brazil has by far the largest share and MIA handles ``just under 60% of all [US] air cargo trade with Brazil and Argentina.'' Total trade (exports plus imports) with Brazil through MIA totaled $6 million in FY 2001. Colombia was second with $2 million. Gee, that's not a whole lot. Oh! They mean legal trade.

Joking aside, the dollar amounts appear to be off by a factor of a thousand.

Missing In Action.

Montgomery Improvement Association. An association founded for the moral improvement of Montgomery, Alabama. On December 5, 1955, Rosa Parks was convicted of failing to give up her seat on a bus, as required by a Jim Crow law then in effect. That evening several thousand protesters crowded into (into?) the Holt Street Baptist Church for the foundation of the MIA. The new pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., became the president of the MIA. A daylong bus boycott held that day (see WPC) was extended, ultimately continuing for 381 days. Read more about it in the Encarta Africana article about Rosa Parks.

MIchigan Association for Infant Mental Health. ``An affiliate of the World Association for Infant Mental Health.''

The International Monitoring System's (IMS's) code for the seismic station on Mount Ida, Arkansas, US.

Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society.

Looks like it should mean ``Michigan at Western Michigan University (WMU). Actually means the Medieval Institute (try ~medinst if that link fails) at Western Michigan University.

Management Information Base. The ATM UNI information for SNMP that enables different machines to query each other.

Men In Black. Men named Jones and Smith. Sounds pretty ordinary.


Mint In Bag. Term of art among Pezheads. See relevant entry from our local copy of Chris Sharpe's unofficial PEZ FAQ. Cf. MOC, MOMC.

Mishap Investigation Board. A NASA group formed in the aftermath of a mission failure, to develop, you know, ``lessons learned.''

Methyl IsoButyl Ketone, traditional name for 3,3-dimethyl-2-butanone. A common solvent, and in particular a usual component of PMMA resist developers. If you want to know what it smells like, take a whiff of your dry-erase marker (for overhead-projector film).
	 \  /
	 /  \==O

Message Integrity Check. Content-MD5, described in RFC-1864, is an optional header field for MIME; a 128-bit ``digest'' of arbitrary-length data that serves as an MIC.

MICah. A prophet. A consensus (Catholic and Orthodox, Jewish and Protestant) book of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Considering the needs of astronomy and machine shops, and the small degree of abbreviation achieved by this one in a generally verbose field, it is one of the most dispensible of abbreviations.

Microscopium. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation.

MICrometer. Shop talk. Pronounced ``mike''; never written ``mike,'' in my experience. The AHD only lists ``mic'' as a variant spelling of mike, but I hope that usage stays rare. The OED2 is also unaware of any other meaning, and the supplement missed this when it passed through that part of the alphabet in 2001. Come on guys, get a clue! This was already common in the 1970's, FCOL.

Military-Industrial Complex.

Motorcycle Industry Council. It's ``a not-for-profit, national trade association representing manufacturers and distributors of motorcycles, scooters, motorcycle/ATV parts and accessories and members of allied trades, located in Irvine, California.''

Moving Image Collections. ``The goal of the Moving Image Collections portal is to provide a window to the world's moving image collections for educators, researchers, exhibitors, and the general public that also allows preservationists to collaborate in describing and maintaining this unique cultural resource and thus avoid costly duplication of effort.''

MId-America Chapter of the ATA. ``Serving Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, MICATA is a group of professional translators and interpreters residing in or involved with the Mid-America region.'' (For Illinois, however, see also MATI.)

Multimedia Integrated ConfErencing. That E seems rather recherché to me.

The feast (and day of the MASs) of Saint MICHAEL. September 29. The precise time of day at which Michaelmas begins depends on the local time. When will they celebrate Michaelmas on Mars?

Michael Steele
A bass player with The Runaways and The Bangles. The Runaways first performed as a trio (Steele, drummer Sandy West, and rhythm guitarist Joan Jett) in 1975, but Steele left after a few months, before their first record contract.

The Bangles were originally (1980) a trio: sisters Vicky and Debby Peterson, and Suzanna Hoffs. Michael Steele joined them in 1982. They were the hottest all-girl group of the 1980's. They had some success in the music business too.

[The Runaways lasted less than five years and had more than five bass guitarists. Peggy Foster was bassist for a couple of weeks (according to this) or a month (per The Runaways Wikipedia page, browsed Nov. 2010) after Micki left. She was replaced by Jackie Fox (``this'' link of previous sentence is an interview with her, with details of her departure). Joan Jett filled in when Fox left the band in the lurch during a Japan tour (there was already a lead guitarist by that time -- Lita Ford). Victory Tischler-Blue (Vicki Blue) joined as bassist after the group returned from Japan; she got sick and left the group in 1978. Laurie McAllister replaced Vicki.]

There's another person, a Michael Stephen Steele, who was the first African-American chairman of the Republican National Committee (during the 2008-2010 election cycle).

Michiana is the unofficial name of a region that includes the area around South Bend, Indiana, and some parts of lower Michigan. A typical description is ``north-central Indiana and southwestern Michigan.'' See, for example, the Michiana Roads page. I would say that Niles (in Michigan, due north of South Bend, Indiana) and Elkhart (to the east in Indiana) are within Michiana, while Gary, Kokomo, and Fort Wayne (in Indiana west, south, and east of South Bend) and Kalamazoo (in Michigan) are all clearly outside the region. Some people in South Bend may think that Benton Harbor (to the northwest, in and on Michigan) is in Michiana, but probably not too many in Benton Harbor think that.

A few outsiders use or impose the term expansively to mean Indiana and Michigan (or most of it). For example, the Michiana Region Volleyball Association is the RVA for all of Indiana and lower Michigan.

Michigan basement
An incomplete basement of some sort. Here are the three sorts of ``incomplete'' that seem to qualify:
  1. A basement with a dirt floor. These may extend from exterior wall to exterior wall, and sometimes a laundry room is located there. Don't drop the laundry.
  2. A basement that is not full height. Four feet (i.e., a height of 48 inches) was typical, when these things used to be built. They usually had dirt floors too. Sometimes a full-height basement has been dug within the original basement, with walls set in from the original (so it's not ``full width''), and the basement continues to be called a ``Michigan basement.''
  3. A basement that is much smaller than the ground floor -- say 50 square feet in a typical SFH -- large enough for a water heater and furnace, and little else. I've been in a house that was built mostly on a slab and which apparently had a tiny basement built under a space between the original construction and an extension, and that was not called a Michigan basement.

There's clearly some overlap between the first two definitions, which seem to be the two in most common use. On the other hand, I heard the last definition from a realtor. Most houses that are described as having a Michigan basement seem to have been built in the nineteenth century. (The late nineteenth century, but then fewer of the earlier houses still survive.) I guess that the notion of a Michigan basement as one that is inferior (in any but the most literal sense) has been extended recently to describe something else... which I haven't encountered yet.

The realtor who introduced me to this term works in South Bend, Indiana, which is only a few miles from the Michigan border. I thought the term might be invidious or at least colloquial, but it's not. And some people in Michigan wonder what such basements are called in other states. I haven't learned precisely how the name of Michigan got attached to something that was once rather common elsewhere. Use of the term is geographically widespread (in the US), but has become rare only because what it describes has become rare.

Magnetic-Ink Character Recognition. (Occasionally also ``... Reader.'') Pronounced ``micker.'' You know those funny-looking numbers and (four other) characters on bank checks? The characters look funny so they will be detectably different. They are printed with ``magnetic ink'' so their shapes can be detected magnetically. ``Magnetic ink'' means ferromagnetic ink; the pattern is generally not magnetized (or ``poled''). With the right ink cartridge and font, you can print MICRable text on your laser printer. Visit this site to learn about the history and this page for current standards.

I thought this was funny -- credit in amounts on the order of one millionth of a standard unit. Then I thought, if a standard unit is a country or region with on the order of a million inhabitants...

See CML.

The MICROlensing Follow Up Network. Microlensing events occur as the result of coincidence: one object (typically a star) passing in front of a more distant bright object (a star, if the event is to be of much use) and deviating the path of light from the more distant object. The light from that more distant object is bent by an angle that is inversely proportional to its distance of closest approach to the nearer object. Proper motion of the nearer object typically limits the period over which microlensing events can be observed to a few weeks.

Hence, when a microlensing event is observed, it is very useful to have data from many observatories, since one can't simply get more data by longer or later observation from a single observatory (even assuming the weather collaborates). MicroFUN, which is led by Andrew Gould, a professor of astronomy at Ohio State University, is a mechanism to activate the follow-up after a microlensing event is first detected, and to pool the resulting data. Other microlensing networks are MOA, PLANET and RoboNet, all of which have collaborated at some level. (At the very least, they exchange ideas on algorithms and strategies to find promising microlensing events. They also share news of such events, and pool data for analysis.)

As the PLANET acronym suggests, a major goal of microlensing observations is to discover planets. Planets orbiting the nearer star show up as interference in the bent light. As of February 2008, six planets had been discovered by this method (and announced). The latest two, announced on the 15th inst., were a pair of gas giants (like Saturn and Jupiter) orbiting a single star.

A set of microminiature electronic device package standards. Vide MMD and MMT.

In act two of his ``Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'' (1962), Edward Albee writes
Martha: Oh, little boy, you got yourself hunched over
        that microphone of yours. ...
Nick:                            Microscope. ...
Martha:                                ...  yes ... and
        you don't see anything, do you?  You see everything
        but the goddamn mind; you see all the little specks
        and crap, but you don't see what goes on, do you?
[Ellipses in script. In the movie, Elizabeth Taylor plays the braying alcoholic (not a big creative stretch, eventually) Martha, and George Segal the callow biologist Nick. Martha's husband George was played by Liz Taylor's real-life husband at the time (as well as a second time, later) Richard Burton.]

In case you came to this entry just for information on microscopy per se, and assuming that you've read down to this point, one place you might visit is Microscopes and Microscopy. There's the main site `in Europe', or at least in nearby Britain. There's an American mirror hosted by U. of Oklahoma.

In Albee's play, Martha and George are a childless couple, and a fantasy child is part of their mind games. In reality, Virginia Woolf wanted children and her husband Leonard did not. They didn't have children. See the VW entry. Or don't.

Resistance is futile. You must visit. Here too.

Microsoft Word
A program that is based on the principle that it should take dozens of key-clicks and mouse-button clicks to remove text that you didn't type in the first place. Microsoft knows best; you didn't want to type what you wanted to type.

Microwave Journal

Message IDentifier.

MIchigan Digital Automatic Computer. (The acronym-expansion word order may not have been strictly obeyed. In one old article that I've seen, it was introduced thus: ``The angular distribution coefficients were computed on the MIchigan Automatic Digital Computer (MIDAC), using Equations (12) through (15) and ....'')

MIDAC was a general-purpose computer completed in 1953. It had about 1000 tubes and 20,000 crystal rectifiers (i.e., semiconductor diodes) and 120 relays. Sounds like a vacuum-tube version of DTL.

Extensive technical details are served by the Computer History Museum at the MIDAC entry (original document page 111) in an etext of ``A Survey of Domestic Electronic Digital Computing Systems'' prepared by Martin H. Weik for the US Army in 1955; etext OCRed and marked up by Ed Thelen).

The Giant Computers file contains summary information from a Navy report of 1953, some of it possibly inconsistent with the Army report. In particular, the Army report says the machine used only 900 tubes of 10 different types. (Two types used in the central computer, others in the magnetic drum [data storage] system, tape units, and input-output stations.) The Navy report mentions 1100 tubes. Possibly there was some redesign. The Navy report gives a total footprint of 845 sq. ft. The Army report gives 65 sq. ft. for the computer and 12 sq. ft. for the air conditioning unit, but notes that there were 8 separate cabinets excluding the power and air conditioning units. They probably needed a lot of access space for the engineer and two technicians staffing the facility each eight-hour shift.

Maintenance Information Data Automation System.

Management In a Distributed Application and Service environment.

Manchester Information Datasets and Associated Services.

Marketmaker Information And Dealing System. I understand that the Burmese language has a similarly mysterious position on word order.


Mythological Idiotic Digital-Aurum Sovereign.

Recipe for success: First pick the name, then devise the acronym expansion.

On the other hand, in the last line of the G. Keillor parody of Oedipus, the chorus intones

``Everything Oedipus touches, Oedipus wrecks.''

middle class
In Gertrude Stein's Things As They Are, Adele (Miss Stein) explains
I never claimed to be middle class in my intellect and in truth, I probably have the experience of all apostles, I am rejected by the class whose cause I preach but that has nothing to do with the case. I simply contend that the middle class ideal which demands that people be affectionate, respectable, honest and content, that they avoid excitements and cultivate serenity is the ideal that appeals to me, it is in short the ideal of affectionate family life, of honorable business methods.

middle-level management
Hire the best people for the job, then tie their hands and watch them fail. Fire and repeat. Eventually sell division at a loss in order to ``focus on core businesses.''

Middle Liddell
An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon. An abridgement of the Oxford Greek Lexicon, which was universally known by the names of its creators, Liddell and Scott. See LSJ entry for more detail and links.

Middletown, USA
Muncie, Indiana. Pseudonym used by researchers (the Lynds) in a famous study. The town was chosen to be typical and therefore representative. Many years later, a new group went back and restudied. I've read the claim that they decided that the town had evolved in a non-average way, and concluded that the main reason for the town's different progress was the presence of a college. I'm not sure that's an accurate synopsis, but certainly the growth of the college has been important, and it is now the largest single employer in the area. The college was Ball State, then a teachers' college and now a university (BSU) with a major emphasis on teacher education.

Wesleyan University is located in Middletown, Conn.

Cf. Plainville, USA.

Malaysian Industrial Development Finance.

MIDF Consultancy and Corporate Services Sdn Bhd.

A skirt with a hem somewhere between mini and maxi.

A standard for optically isolated serial linking.

Musical Instrument Digital Interface. Don't say ``MIDI interface.'' It's redundant and vulgar and pleonastic as well. Do visit the popular MIDI homepage.

MIDwest Regional Library NET.

Non-Big Six conferences of NCAA Division-I basketball. They're ``majors'' because they're part of Division I, and the teams are eligible to be invited to the NCAA tournament (``March Madness''); they're only mid-majors because they're not one of the Big Six. ``Mid-majors'' is also used to refer to the teams that belong to the mid-majors conferences.

Mid-majors don't get a lot of invitations to NCAA tournament. In 2006, it was a big deal when the Missouri Valley Conference got four bids and the Colonial Athletic Association got its first at-large bid in 20 years.

Meals & Incidental Expenses.

Malaysian Institute of Economic Research.

Manufacturing Information and Execution System[s].

Mikoyan-Gurevich. There don't seem to have been any even-numbered MiG's. MiG is pronounced to rhyme with ``pig.''

MIG, Mig, Mig
Metal Inert-Gas (welding). Another name for GMAW, q.v. MIG is pronounced to rhyme with ``MiG.''

Spanish: `crumb.' On the other hand, hormiga is `ant.' (Also, hormiguero is `ant colony' and hormigón is `concrete.' The aitch is always silent. It's just written to remind you that there was an eff in the Latin. Amazing the trouble people go to.)

I'm struggling to find the relevance, but until then you might as well know that ort is English for `crumb,' while Ort (q.v.) is German for `place.' `Oort' is International for a quite far-away place. Platz is also German for `place,' but plotz is Yiddish for `explode' and some related things. Interestingly, in Spanish explotar is both `explode' and `exploit.' You can imagine the greater persuasiveness of union-organizing speeches. There's no connection, I suppose, but also in Spanish, bomba is both `bomb' and `pump.' I guess what I'm trying to say here is: if you're ever in an airport in Latin America, and you get into a heated discussion about unionizing fire companies, switch to English. The advice might be different in Brazil, however, as the Portuguese language has (too) many more sounds and allows more distinctions among words. As a matter of fact, during WWII, in a bar in Rio (or some other Brazilian city that's harder to spell), my father met someone who spoke English. So they used that language, and someone came up and asked what that language was they were speaking, and the other guy made a little joke. He said `German.' Ha-ha. Police. Arrest. The first thing to know about joke delivery is when not to. As they say, timing is everything. As a general rule, wartime is bad timing.

As it turned out (I asked my father) it was Rio, and the guy's name was Wilson. My father never saw this guy again, which seems to me just as well.

For more on pumps, visit Grundfos.

It's probably fair to point out that the semantic subrange of explotar corresponding to `exploit' is narrower than that of the English cognate. As compensation, I'll note that celoso translates both `zealous' and `jealous' (in English these words arrived from Latin zelosus via French at different times).

It is often the case that a single word in Spanish corresponds to two slightly differently spelled close cognates of the word in English, but the divergence does not always go in that direction. For example, the English word respect corresponds to Spanish respeto and respecto. Thus, for example, les tengo gran respeto means `I have great respect for them,' while the standard phrase con respecto a means `with respect to.'

You know, if tangential thoughts hadn't so rudely interrupted this entry, I could have been finished with it already. Now then, I need to add that the Spanish word miga comes from the Latin mica (female first-declension noun), meaning a particle or crumb or grain, especially of salt. You may be tempted to take one with the news of what words this is cognate with. It is not too surprising that it is cognate with Greek adjective for `small, little,' with various surviving forms. In Doric, Boeotian, and Ionic dialects, it occurred as mikkós (female nominative form mikká, BTW). The variant mikós was also widespread, found in materials from the 4 c. BCE to the 3 c. CE. By far the most common literary forms of the Greek word, however, were mikrós (hence the SI prefix) and smikrós. Through Proto-Indo-European, these are believed to be cognate with the English word small.

The Latin word mica entered English directly as a mineralogical term, for a small particle of talc, selenite, or other crystalline inclusion when it is one of a large number in a matrix of some other rock. The word was also used for rocks containing micae (also micas). [There was, perhaps understandably, some confusion, about both etymology and sense, with the Latin micare (`to glitter, shine').] This meaning was abandoned as the term came to be used systematically for one particular class of minerals that had been common mica materials, namely (what we still now call) mica.

The word miga in Spanish developed another meaning, but to avoid clutter in this glossary we try to discuss only one meaning per entry, so you'll have to wait. Stop tapping your feet-- it's rude. It is better to scroll down than to curse the browser.

Spanish for `crumb.' Wait -- didn't we do that one already? Sort of: while the most common meaning of the word miga is that of the English word `crumb' (in the sense of a small amount or particle of anything, but mostly of bread), an interesting, slightly less common, sense is one that is also a sense of the word `crumb,' though now extremely rare: the soft inner part of a loaf of bread that hasn't been hardened by baking. Thus, a loaf of bread consists of crust and crumb.

The Enciclopedia Universal Ilustrada offers translations of miga in this second sense and of migaja (synonym of miga and crumb in the usual sense). Here they are in that encyclopedia's standard order (which isn't alphabetical by language in Spanish either):
Language miga
(bread interior)
French mie miette
Italian mollica briciola, rimasuglio
English crum crumb
German Krume Krümchen
Portuguese miolo migalha
Catalan molla engruna
Esperanto panmolajo, molajo peceto, panpeceto

In French, mie has the same common senses as Spanish miga, while the diminutive miette not surprisingly only means `crumb.' The Italian mollica seems primarily to have the sense of loaf interior, though the plural molliche means `crumbs.' Briciola means `crumb,' but rimasuglio primarily means `[food] remnant, left-overs.' The putative semantic distinction between the English words crum and crumb exists only in a diachronic analysis: the spelling variant with the b seems to have arisen only around 1800, under the influence of the earlier crumble and dumb (how abt). Since the soft-interior sense of crumb seems to have petered out in the 1800's, one may say loosely that over time, crum had both senses and crumb had only one. I plan to check the other translations someday.

Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, est. 1988.04.12, a member organization of the World Bank (WB) Conspiracy.

I just want to record here that 2009 seems to be the year when the modal might seriously began to lose its distinctive functions to may. Here's an example: ``She's always figured the child may be John's, but the positive DNA result really floored her.''

might could
A charming locution pretty much restricted to the US Southeast, meaning mostly `might be able to.'

might should
Another charming composite modal like might could. We might should adopt it.

Metal-Induced Gap States.

MIChael. Nickname.

MICrophone. Cf. mic.

0.001 inch = 25.4 µm exactly. It's not coincidence; it's the definition. If the unit seems inappropriate, however, check ml.

A gry is a tenth of a line, and a line is a twelfth of an inch, so a gry is 1/120 inch or about 211.6666667 µm, proving once again how ugly metric units are.

A unit of angle measure and a number. In fact, it's a number of units of angular measure. Name-appropriately, mils are a popular and now widely standard unit for use in artillery ranging and other military applications.

Mils, or ``angular mils,'' are generally almost exactly equal to a milliradian. Mils are typically defined as fractions of 360 degrees, and can be thought of as equivalent to approximations of π. The largest mil so defined is equivalent to a milliradian in the π=3 approximation: 1 mil = 2000π mrad / 6000. This was used in the former Soviet Union and Finland; Finland is switching over to the NATO mil. Other implicit values of π that have been common are 3.1415 (perhaps), 3.15 (formerly used by Sweden, which has moved to the NATO standard), and 3.2 (NATO standard). I write ``perhaps'' for 3.1415, which corresponds to the mil said to be used by many manufacturers of telescopic sights for civilian use, because it's not clear that saying a mil is defined as 1/6283 of a circle isn't simply an awkward way of saying it's defined to approximate a milliradian as closely as possible.

Mils are often described, if not defined, as the angle subtended by one foo at a distance of one thousand foos, where foo is typically ``yard'' or ``meter.'' This is equivalent to defining the mil as 2×Arcsin(1/2000) or about (1 + 4.1666671×10-8) mrad. Of course, the thing that makes mils convenient is the same thing that makes this description accurate: the fact that in the small-angle limit, the sine of an angle approaches the angle (in the natural units, radians).

Before the military forces of the world discovered the small-angle approximation, another unit was popular: the decigrad (the grad being defined as 1/100 of a right angle, or 0.9 degrees).

In Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman, Richard P. Feynman described some of his WWII work on mechanical analog computers for, iirc, bomb sights.

Malfunction Indicator Light. A/k/a idiot light.


(Name code for top-level domain of US) MILitary. Cf. <.arpa>, <.gov>.


Slang for `million' or `million dollars.' Exact (i.e., 106) as opposed to Million-.

MInor League Baseball. ``The minors.'' In North America, it comprises three levels; in order of increasing prestige and player quality, they are imaginatively called A, AA, and AAA. Okay, this doesn't cover all the leagues. There are also Rookie Leagues, which are regarded as the lowest classification, and Winter Leagues, which run the gamut of levels of play. Some of the Class A Leagues are further distinguished as short-season or advanced.

The minors serve as the ``farm system'' that grows players for ``the show,'' a/k/a ``the majors,'' ``big league,'' or MLB. Each team in the minors, with the exception of the Winter League teams, is part of the farm system of some team in the majors. Players are transferred back and forth up and down the Minor League levels, usually within the farm system of a Major League team. There are also a number of independent baseball leagues; they are not affiliated with any MLB team and are not part of the MiLB system.

Minor League Baseball was officially known as the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (NAPBL) until 1999. NAPBL was founded in 1901. Major League Baseball and NAPBL reached a wide-ranging cooperative agreement in 1902, but the practice of having minor-league teams owned by particular major-league teams came much later.

The first season of NAPBL was 1902, with 14 leagues and 96 teams. As of 2008, there were 188 teams.

A unit of long length, 5280 feet.

Miles Davis. Here's a shot of him relieving himself in the dark.

As I wrote to Dennis when he graduated from Med School:

It is better to pass a milestone than to pass a kidney stone.

And fwiw, this afternoon, April 29, 2006, this glossary begins its fourth myriad of entries.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front. One of four groups fighting for an independent Islamic state in the south of the predominantly Catholic Philippines. There is reported to be some evidence that MILF has collaborated with Al Qaeda.

I know what you're thinking. You figure that the Greek word moron, meaning `dull,' has dropped the final en, the same way Platôn dropped the final en to become Plato. However, that doesn't always happen even in English. (E.g., the last king of Syracuse before the Romans conquered it, the king for whom Archimedes designed novel weaponry, is called Gellon in English.) It happens less often in Spanish. Good guess, though! Moro is the Spanish word for a Moor, related to the name of the country Morocco. The word has been used with varying degrees of precision for people like Moors. (Think of Othello.) The words moreno/morena (more common in Spain) and morocho/morocha (chiefly Latin American) mean dark-skinned (adjective and, technically, pronoun).

The Moors were, of course, mostly Muslim. In the Philippines, moro refers to a Filipino Muslim. Islam was introduced to the Philippines from Borneo and Malaya in the 14th century, and currently about 5 per cent of the Filipino population, mostly in the South, is Muslim.

Mother I'd Like to beFriend. Or something like that.

military service
New York State children between the ages of 6 and 16 are required to attend school. Only the following are considered by the State Education Department to be legitimate reasons for absence or tardiness:

I am most intrigued by the ``military obligations'' exemption for 6-to-16-year-olds. When my great grandmother became a naturalized citizen of the US, she was asked if she would serve in the armed forces if called to. We won't say exactly what her age was. Let's just say that the question was preposterous. She replied, ``Me? An old woman? I'll cook for the troops!'' This was apparently recorded as ``I do.''

My great grandmother was known as ``Grandma Moses.'' This was not because of her spunk or her artistic ability, but because of her surname.

Milk Duds
The company originally tried to make the candies spherical, but failed. The imperfect resulting candies were called ``duds.'' They sold them anyway.

milk shake
Burger King shakes are sweeter than McDonalds. Too sweet -- but that's just my opinion. Wendy's sells ``frosties'' that aren't liquid enough to sip because Wendy's straws collapse under the necessary vaccuum; use a spoon. Some ice cream places have a machine that use to make a shake out of some scoops of their ice cream and some milk. I encountered one of these at La Fortune (Notre Dame's student center). I wondered what would happen if you made a shake out of chocolate-chip mint ice cream. I found out that what happens is that you get a mint shake with a chocolate chip clot at the bottom of the cup.

Wait, you wanted to know about milk snakes? That's okay: we have a little something about them too; see under Regina CREAMER.


Milky Way Galaxy
From a strict etymological point of view, this term is a pleonasm: galaxy comes from the Greek gala, `milk.' (Current Greek pronunciation makes this hard to hear: the gamma is pronounced back under the epiglottis, and sounds like an arr in many accents.) This information is duplicated and then some at the galaxy entry.

Galaxy is also one of the names of TradeWave or EINet, ``[t]he professional's guide to a world of information.''

Miller Effect
A mechanism whereby certain parasitics can decrease (i.e., degrade) the input impedance in an amplified way. The effect is essentially the same for all voltage amplifiers. The general voltage amplifier is a two-port, with a high-impedance input (between + and - on the input side) and a low-impedance output (between + and - on the output side). In the simplest voltage amplifiers, the - terminals of both ports are a common ground, and the input and output + terminals are gate and drain (common-source FET), base and collector (common-emitter BJT), or grid and anode (vacuum tube), respectively.

In the linear regime, the output contains a dependent current or voltage source linear in the voltage across an input impedance between + and - of the input. The small-signal equivalent circuit generally has an (ideally low-conductance) element connecting input and output + terminals [y++ = yBC or yDG]. This leads to an input current proportional to the difference in input and output. The Miller effect is that, because the output voltage is amplified (by a gain factor A), the input conductance is increased by an amount y++ (1-A) instead of just y++. [For the devices mentioned, A < 0; for a good voltage amplifier, |A| » 1.]

The Miller effect is put to good use in Op Amps: by using Miller effect to increase parasitic capacitance associated with one part of the amplifier relative to the capacitance of another, poles are kept apart to maintain stability. (Two nearby poles can cause a 180 degree phase shift and associated feedback problems.)

A hundred thousand or more. Specialized usage in national mall events like ``Million-Man March,'' ``Million-Mom March.''

MILitary Strategic, Tactical And Relay. Acronym for satellite communication.

MILitary STanDard.

Maoist Internationalist Movement. Self-described in MIM Notes 322 (and I suppose other issues) as ``the collection of existing or emerging Maoist internationalist parties in English-speaking imperialist countries and their English-speaking internal semi-colonies, as well as the existing or emerging Maoist internationalist parties in Belgium, France and Quebec and the existing or emerging Spanish-speaking Maoist internationalist parties of Azatlan, Puerto Rico and other territories of the U.$. Empire.'' [The last is probably a typo; I believe they prefer ``u.$. Empire.''] Oh blast, comrade, that sentence looks like it was constructed by a committee of centrals. It's good to see that none of the existing or emerging Maoist internationalist parties is described as English-speaking. I might cavil at that. For when you're not sure whether you want to laugh or be bored to sleep, MIM has, after a fashion, its own web presence. (It also owns the <mim.org> domain.)

Mendeleev Institute of Metrology. In St. Petersburg, Russia. Formerly in Leningrad, USSR. They moved the whole thing!!???

Metal Injection Molding.


Musical Instrument Museum. It's in Phoenix and on line.

Multiple-Instruction, Multiple Data (part of a strategy and an aspect of architecture for parallel-processor computing; cf. SIMD).

Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (protocol). See N. Borenstein and N. Freed, ``MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) Part One: Mechanisms for Specifying and Describing the Format of Internet Message Bodies.'' RFC 1521, Bellcore, Innosoft, September 1993.

Here's an overview, etext copy of a paper presented by Borenstein. Ghastly formatting (1000-character lines); d/l and read in an editor.

Alternate expansion: Massively Incompatible Mail Experiment.

The RFC822 mail header passes the MIME type in a format that begins:
Content-Type: mime-type/subtype

Here's an entire page of them.

From AOL version 6.0 on, it is impossible to send text/plain content. It is of course possible for an AOL subscriber to, say, connect to the internet via AOL, and then use non-AOL software such as a browser or telnet client over that connection. However, the same is not true for email: AOL's proprietary internal mail protocol prevents AOL users from using an alternative MUA for email sent to or from an aol.com address. You can contact the online help chat, and once you get the friendly serviceperson to wrap its head around the idea that you do not want ``plain text'' encoded as MIME-type text/html, but instead want plain text encoded as text/plain, just as God intended, that polite person may recommend that you install version 5 if you want that to happen. One reason you are unlikely to want to do that is the temporary inconvenience of installing the older AOL version. Another reason not to do it is the temporary inconvenience of reinstalling the newer version, after you discover that AOL servers are not backward-compatible with older versions of AOL software. The upshot is that you can't send Content-Type: text/plain from an AOL address. In many civilized venues, this means that it is impossible for an AOLuser to participate as an adult.

In Unix, a typical mail or news application uses metamail to interpret any MIME types it doesn't know how to handle. Metamail in turn mostly just looks in a mailcaps file (default search path $HOME/.mailcap:/etc/mailcap:/usr/etc/mailcap:/usr/local/etc/mailcap may be overridden by the environmental variable MAILCAPS) and passes the item to the application designated as capable of handling the relevant type/subtype.

Magnetospheric IMaging Instrument. An instrument on board NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

Wasn't she a bathing suit model for Popular Mechanics or Popular Science (PS) back in the sixties?

Metal-Insulator-Metal-Insulator-Metal. Enough is enough! (Cf. minim.)

Multiple-Input/Multiple-Output. Next Monday in the Electrical Engineering Conference Room, a student is doing his oral candidacy presentation on a research topic entitled ``Bounds on the capacity of a MIMO channel with unknown funding.'' That sounds interdisciplinary, but there aren't any industrial engineering or government studies faculty on the committee.

Oops, missed it. Now I'll never know.

Motorola Impedance Matching Program.

  1. MINimum.
  2. MINima (plural of minimum).
  3. MINim. Particularly the minim that is a unit of fluid measure.

Multistage Interconnection Network[s].

Spanish for `mine,' of the underground variety. Do you really need a Spanish-English dictionary? Cf. mío.

A general purpose computer completed in 1953, according to various Internet sources. It's not clear what the expansion was or even if it had one. On the usual pattern, the AC should have stood for Automatic Computer. According to the Giant Computers file, this small computer contained only 90 tubes and 900 crystals (rectifiers), and occupied one square foot. So it's possible MIN stood for MINi. As I'll eventually explain, I think it probably stood for MINimum latency.

Speaking to a Nashville luncheon of the United Negro College Fund on May 9, 1989, then-vice president J. Danforth Quayle stumbled in trying to speak the UNCF's long-time campaign slogan, and came out with a memorable boner:
``What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is.''
Someone must have remarked that such a statement could be construed as self-referential. Cf. deconstruction.

Common abbreviation of the German word mindestens meaning `at least.'

MINistry of DEFence. A standard abbreviation in Singapore. At least they don't call it Minluv. (For a similar such name, see the entry for bad guys' organizations.)

German: `minority shareholder.'

German, `at least.'

Are you sure you're not thinking of the MINAC (only one I)?

Volume 22 (1961-62) of Analysis (a journal of analytical philosophy) is a 152-page joke. Okay, to be precise the first 150 pages are merely risible, and the last article (pp. 151-2) is a joke entitled ``MINIAC: World's Smallest Electronic Brain1.'' Footnote 1 reads: Not to be confused with the automatic computer manufactured by Marchant Calculators, Inc., which costs approximately, 8.5 × 106 times as much and is not nearly so small.

For something that generally means the smallest thing, this word sure has a large number of meanings. Among those meanings is a half note or rest (which was typically the shortest time interval used in music in an earlier, more leisurely time when time was taken at a more measured pace). A minim is also a fluid measure equal to 1/60 dram. It is used in some dialects to mean any small fish, but especially a minnow (which seems to have a distinct etymology). The name Minim was also given to a member of (I mean to an entire member who belonged to) a mendicant religious order founded in the fifteenth century by Saint Francis of Paola. In the fifteenth century, minims were big.

The useful sense for which the word has no adequate synonym, however, has to do with the Gothic letters of late Medieval manuscript, used throughout Europe but most directly influencing the German typescript called Fraktur. Anyway, if you look at any of those Gothic texts, you'll notice that much of the lower-case text looks like a half-height fence -- a long low sequence of fat vertical strokes that could be mmmm or nnnn or unnu or whatever. Each vertical stroke of one of these letters was a minim -- three in an em, two in an en or `u.' With a little beveling at the top or bottom of a minim, you could make some other letters, though you couldn't really read them. It was almost as bad as Oriya. (A single minim represented an i; the practice began of putting accents on the letters i so they could be distinguished, and these evolved into the current dots.)


Also called red lead. Its common formula is Pb3O4. It's not a spinel, but it has a similar structure. Minium has a number of what may be indulgently described as ``systematic'' names, some of them sanctioned at various times by some official body. One purpose of such names is to allow someone with the appropriate technical background to understand instantly the chemical structure of compound upon encountering the name. At this task, these names have at best middling success. The names I have seen published in books are the following:
  1. lead tetroxide,
  2. lead (II, IV) tetroxide,
  3. lead (II, II, IV) oxide,
  4. trilead tetroxide,
  5. lead orthoplumbate,
  6. lead (II) orthoplumbate,
  7. plumbous orthoplumbate.
It's as bad as organic nomenclature! If you try doing a web search on the word minium, a large fraction of your hits will be for instances of aluminium broken before the first em. You might find it convenient to commit its CAS registry number to memory. I wish I had (1314-41-6).

Note carefully that ``lead (II, IV) oxide'' is lead sesquioxide. CAS registry number 1314-27-8. (Mnemonic: 13 14 - 13+14 -ate.)

As you may guess from the names, I have read some contradictory information about red lead. It does have at least one allomorph, but it seems that the red tetragonal phase is the stable one at standard temperature and pressure. There is another lead oxide that is sometimes associated with red lead in some way, and that other phase, or one of the other phases, may be black. But that black phase may be a red herring (sorry), because the sesquioxide is normally black (and monoclinic). I'm on the case! This is an interim report.

Two red minerals were well known to the ancient world: one was red lead, the subject of this entry, and the other was mercuric sulfide, or cinnabar. A Roman craftsman would have had no difficulty distingishing between pure samples of the two. Most immediately, they could be distinguished because cinnabar has a more brilliant red color. Book XXXIII, sec. 119 of Pliny's Natural History indicates that they were also able to (as we would say) reduce cinnabar under heat to produce liquid mercury, so they had a chemical assay.

The word minium entered Middle English from Latin, but the word apparently does not go back to proto-Indo-European and its ultimate etymology is unclear. It is believed to be related to the Basque word armineá, which means `cinnabar.' It is hard to know precisely what was meant by the word minium in Latin, since writers sometimes either were unaware of or confused about the difference between the minerals. (Pliny, confused as he himself was, mentions various instances of confusion.) In addition, even when writers knew what they meant, what they wrote does not give us enough clues for us to know. Nevertheless, the preponderance of the evidence suggests that minium has switched from describing the brighter (cinnabar) to the duller (red lead) mineral. It's not hard to see how this might have occurred. Pliny reports that cinnabar was adulterated in many ways. [Since the price was fixed by law (70 sesterces per pound), it was impossible to reward honesty with a higher price, so this is hardly surprising. See also next paragraph.] The first adulterant he mentions is red lead (either native or prepared by heating cerusite -- lead carbonate). He describes it as secundarium minium, where context implies that by secundarium he means `second-rate.' At any rate, minium secundarium was the standard way of referring to what we now call minium. Pliny gives some evidence of confusion at various places where he mentions either of the two minerals. He also notes that use of a Greek-origin word (our cinnabar) was causing [further] confusion.

If the word for the mercury compound (viz. minium in its original sense) should have a Basque etymon it would not be surprising: Spain is still today the world's leading source of cinnabar. However, for the Carthaginians, and for the Romans after they took it over from them, Iberia was a source of mineral riches primarily in the form of silver. [Yes, the Athenian silver mines of Laurion had also been an important lead resource, but by late Republican Roman times they were mostly exhausted, and the Spanish mines were by far the most important.] Silver mines are lead mines, for reasons explained at the pluton entry. The silver is extracted from galena (lead ore) by a process called cupellation, and lead is a byproduct. Galena is lead sulfide (PbS), so perhaps it is not too surprising that the lead compound minium and the sulfide cinnabar both are often found in the vicinity. According to Pliny the most famous Spanish cinnabar mine, and the most important one in terms of revenues for the Roman state, was the one in Almaden (where silver was not found). Raw cinnabar ore from Almaden (as much as a ton per annum) was required to be shipped to Rome, where one company was granted a monopoly for its production.

Snazzy names with minerals seem to be a status thing, like fine clothes with people. Cinnabar gets a choice of exotic names and casts off a perfectly serviceable but unwanted excess name like minium. Cinnabar even has a distinct name, vermilion, for its color. The mineral minium, on the other hand, in addition to having to make do with a hand-me-down name, has to share that name with its color, which is either called minium or minium red. To make matters even more humiliating, the drab name red lead (or is that read led? homonyms are so confusing!) has apparently led to some confusion, and minium is sometimes called red minium, as if there were any other kind.

Minium is also used as name for the bright red color of this oxide.

Ministry of Truth. The adjective formed from Minitrue is Minitruthful -- irregular because euphony trumps regularity in the B vocabulary of Newspeak (political words). Minitrue is Winston Smith's place of employment in Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). It's the propaganda ministry, occupying a 300-foot pyramidal building. All four ministries are housed in such bomb-proof pyramids. Ever since Babel, it seems, science-fiction writers have identified large buildings with evil or menace, or at least with organizations of bad guys. In That Hideous Strength, N.I.C.E. has something similar planned.

Starting in the 1970's, Swedish Defense Forces security equipment detected sounds that Sweden identified as Soviet submarine intrusions into its territorial waters. The Swedish Navy discovered in 1992 that minks make sounds which the detectors could misinterpret as submarines. No submarine intrusions were detected after 1992.

I once dated a woman whose father had owned a mink ranch. Perhaps that dates me. You know, minks are carnivores. If you think about it, you realize that raising carnivores is a lot more expensive than raising herbivores. They also tend to be a bit less social, you know? And a bit wilier and more on the look-out for a way to escape. What with all the meat-handling he did, he eventually started a meat-canning business as a sideline.

MINK region
Missouri-Iowa-Nebraska-Kansas REGION. This particular region wasn't defined because the named states are contiguous or have similar geology or climate or land use or anything. And agricultural and ecological research never focuses on this region because good weather records are available going back at least to the 1930's. It just made a cool name, that's all.

MINNesota. Traditional abbreviation. The USPS prefers MN.

A town in North Dakota (ND). The town name is pronounced to rhyme with ``why not.'' Indeed.

Malaysian Institute for Nuclear Technology Research.

Mission des Nations Unies pour la Stabilisation en Haïti.

You know, German aircraft supporting the NATO mission in Afghanistan are not allowed to fly at night in areas where there might be trouble. God forbid, someone might get hurt! MINUSTAH also operates under European-style rules of ``engagement.'' The mission has 8800 soldiers and police, which is woefully inadequate and also larger than Haiti's official police force (only about half of whom actually show up to work). Some Haitians use the alternate name TOURISTAH, because they're only found in the safe places where they're not needed. Again we see the Francophone propensity to use apparent acronyms without proper expansions. It's scandalous! (It would also have been helpful if the original acronym had picked up the E in en, since the proper spelling of the tee word is touriste.)

minutes to complete, this survey should take no more than 10
It will take less than ten minutes to read the questions and check off some answers. We're not figuring in any time for thinking about the answers because we didn't think of it. We don't expect you to take any time thinking about them. Heck, we didn't spend any time thinking about the questions or the multiple-choice answers. It's okay that they're ambiguous; we'll interpret them later.

MIlliOn. Abbreviation that occurs in EU statistical literature. Note that the letter o is the first letter in million that distinguishes it from milliard (Mrd).

Spanish: `Mine!'

I hasten to assure those suffering shell-shock from the revelations about pumps and exploitation (miga entry above) that mío is only a posessive pronoun, and not an explosive or exploitable thing below.

Italian: `my, mine.'

Mitteilungen des Instituts für Österreichische Geschichte. A German-language journal that might have been named `Reports of the Institute for Austrian History' in English. See if Stuart Jenks's page of Tables of Contents of Historical Journals and Monographic Series in German has a link for this yet (deutsche Seite: Zeitschriftenfreihandmagazin Inhaltsverzeichnisse geschichtswissenschaftlicher Zeitschriften in deutscher Sprache).

Metal-Insulator-Oxide-Semiconductor. Either redundant description of MIS or oversimplified description for most devices today. I've seen this term very rarely.

Mortgage Insurance Premium.

Marist (College) Institute for Public Opinion.

Military Interdepartmental Purchase Request.

MIPS, Mips
Million Instruction(s) Per Second. The ``S'' represents the time unit `second' and not plural inflection, so one speaks of ``one MIPS.'' This makes it rather unfortunate that one common way to write this uses lower-case ess. Nobody says ``mipses'' -- the plural form of MIPS is MIPS.

The explanation I had here before was at best confusing and at worst wrong. Okay, okay, I've scolded myself long enough!

Maximum Information Rate.

If you feel dizzy, stop reading now.

Movimiento de la Izquierda Revolucionaria. Spanish: `Movement of the Revolutionary Left,' a Bolivian political party.

miracle, the
The fact that silicon has a native oxide with good mechanical properties, which serves as a diffusion mask, passivation, and dielectric.

In contrast, germanium (Ge), which is much easier to grow in single-crystal form and was therefore the basis of all the early progress in semiconductor (transistor) electronics, has an oxide that dissolves in water (and desorbs at 450 °C).

There are other opinions, of course. According to Thomas Carlyle, ``Certainly the Art of Writing is the most miraculous of all things man has devised.'' Of course, Tom never had the opportunity to experience television, laser light shows, or nitro-burning funny cars!

mirbane, essence of
Nitrobenzene. Traditional names include

mirbane oil
Nitrobenzene. See preceding entry.

Maritime Incident Response Group.

You probably don't realize it, but this glossary is really a blog. We just don't like that reverse chronological ordering (and using mirrors would make it hard to read). So we use a different ordering. (If you guessed ``alphabetical,'' you may be half right; the judges are deciding how to score that. Gary has submitted an amicus curiae brief, summarized at the collating sequence entry.)

This entry was provoked by Bob Patrick, who started an old-fashioned blog called ``Latin Proverb of the Day.'' His proverb for 17.08.05 is Forma viros neglecta decet, which he translates `Neglected concern for appearance is befitting men.' (I'm not sure it's a proverb, but it is Latin. It's from Ovid's scandalous Ars Amatoria, 1.509.) I don't think Bob Patrick gets it, but the meaning is obvious and I'm happy for his blog, so I won't get into that. I want to write about mirrors. (Considering that this is the mirrors entry, I figured I should warn you.) Bob Patrick, contemplating Ovid's thought, observes that weight rooms are full of mirrors, and supposes that they're there so people can check each other out. No, no, noooOOOOOOoooo!

Mirrors in a weight room serve many important purposes:

  1. To monitor ourselves for proper ``form,'' especially with free weights.
  2. To make the room feel psychologically larger and airier, making us feel less sweaty. When we feel just a little bit less sweaty, we do that crucial extra rep.
  3. To see around the corner whether the next machine we want to use is free yet.
  4. To make sure we're lifting the correct weights, especially on the resistance machines. (You're thinking that we should have checked before we got on? That doesn't always work. If this seems implausible, see the ``aside'' below.)
  5. To keep us from checking each other out. Without the mirrors, you could look directly at anyone who wasn't looking at you, and know that he or she (usually one or the other) wasn't looking back along some other optical path. With the mirrors, there are so many ways to be caught staring that you can't do it with impunity. Unless you don't care.
  6. To check each other out.

Aside on resistance machines: many of them are loaded with stacks of oblong metal plates. These are shaped like broad, short (about an inch high) bricks. Their upper and lower surfaces are approximately flat and smooth, so the force is spread out when they stack (or bang together). They have holes (usually two) bored vertically through the short dimension of the plate, located symmetrically away from the center (along the longer center-line). A vertical guide rod goes through each stack of these holes in the plate stack, keeping the plates aligned. Those rods are lubricated, and some of the lubricant (a light oil; see CAMELSPIN) spreads along the horizontal faces of the plates.

You probably don't need to read this paragraph. To adjust the resistance, you push a pin into one of the plates (there's a horizontal hole or slot for this in each plate). The pin catches on a vertical tongue (this passes through a third vertical bore, this one centered), so that you lift the selected plate along with all the ones stacked above it.

When your movement in the machine lifts a subset of the plate stack, one or two of the plates below the selected stack may come along as well. They seem stuck to the plates above, but it's not quite ordinary adhesion. The force provided by surface tension in the spread-out oil is enough to pull along a plate or two (i.e., as much as 40 lb.). In principle, the pressure of the air around the circumference of the oil slick should shrink it to the point where it can't hold the plate. This will eventually happen if your set lasts long enough. The problem seems to be particularly severe on the old Polaris-brand machines, which sometimes have the plate stack behind the user. You do three or four reps, thinking you feel a bit weak, and you hear a clang as one plate crashes and lightens your load, then you go on another couple and another plate crashes. It's one way to push the envelope.

Oily plates are rarely a problem on Universal machines, evidently because the plates, with upper edges rounded and bottom surfaces slotted, don't spoon snugly. Cybex plates are also only roughly flat -- they have some texture on a millimeter scale, so they don't suffer oily-plate sticking either.

Some Cybex machines do have another sticking problem, however. The guide rods run through the plate stack down to the machine frame, and usually there is something elastic around the bottom of the guide rods, so the bottom plate doesn't rest directly on the machine frame. Some machines have metal springs very similar to those that close the valves on a gasoline engine. These are okay. Other Cybex machines use a hard rubber annulus around the bottom of each rod. Since the rubber is under almost constant compression and since it is, well, a little bit rubbery, it sticks to the bottom plate and the frame. Hence, when you max out the stack, you have to unstick each rubber annulus from either the bottom plate or the frame. It feels like maybe ten extra pounds to unstick it the first time. (It's a different kind of experience from oily sticking, however, since you can't lift the stack until you've pulled the bottom plate free.) Anyway, just mention it to Ryan or whoever and he'll spray some WD-40 on the rubber and the underside of the bottom plate while you hold up the stack. Don't forget to mention later that the fix lasted less than a day.

It's also disturbing, although you know it doesn't matter, when you see one annulus rise, stuck to the bottom plate, while the other annulus stays stuck to the frame. Some Polaris machines have the bottom plate rest directly on the frame; this looks bad when exposed (abraded paint) but is less subject to any kind of sticking. Universal machines often use rubber annuli (broader than, but otherwise similar to, those of Cybex machines). What I haven't seen is any machine that uses a washer between the plate and rubber.

A lot of machines are loaded like dumbbells -- you hand-load free circular plates to set the resistance. These machines typically also have rubber pads to limit motion, but since such machines spend most of the time unloaded, the rubber doesn't stick noticeably.

I suppose another use of mirrors in training would be to pretend you're lifting a great weight along a wall when you're really only pushing it along the floor. I'm just full of practical suggestions.

Okay, here's something to do with mirrors in weight rooms, and it might cast some light on the question of what they're there for. It's from an article in Men's Fitness, issue on the racks in January 2006. (This is the issue that features UFC ring-card girl Rachelle Leah on the cover. A woman whose name is constructed from the names of Jacob's two wives, hmmm. This is the famous issue that ranked Baltimore as America's ``fittest city,'' so you may want to take the information in it with a grain of salt.)

On page 98 there were some budget tips for designing a home gym: ``#3 Install lighting that flatters your physique. Quality lighting is worth the expense. Looking good in the mirror during a workout makes you feel good and will keep you motivated. A single lightbulb with a string attached? It may be cheaper, but it will leave you feeling flabby and pathetic.'' I didn't notice any specific positive recommendations on lighting, but the meat section at the supermarket uses pink fluorescents to make the meat look good, so try that. Here's an idea: in ``A Streetcar Named Desire,'' Blanche DuBois says, ``I can't stand a naked light bulb, any more than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action.'' She bought this adorable little colored paper lantern at a Chinese shop on Bourbon, which she gives to ``Mitch'' to install. That can't be too expensive, and Stanley Kowalski's (Marlon Brando's) physique looked good in that. Of course, that was before he began to commit slow suicide by bursting belly. For expensive lighting, see the EU entry.

There's a popular German weekly magazine Der Spiegel, whose title means `the mirror.' The German word was borrowed a very long time ago from the Latin speculum. (Interesting that the grammatical gender switched from neuter to male.)

[column] Plutarch's life of Demosthenes records an early instance of the use of mirrors in physical training. Here's the relevant bit from John Dryden's translation:

Demetrius, the Phalerian, tells us that he was informed by Demosthenes himself, now grown old, that the ways he made use of to remedy his natural bodily infirmities and defects were such as these; ... in his house he had a large looking-glass, before which he would stand and go through his exercises.

Mid-Infrared Technologies for Health and the Environment. ``MIRTHE is a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center headquartered at Princeton University, with partners City College [of] New York, Johns Hopkins, Rice [a top-tier Harvard of the South], Texas A&M, and the University of Maryland[,] Baltimore County.''

Multiple Independently-targetable Reentry Vehicles. Ballistic missile technology for carrying multiple warheads on a single missile. Ballistic missiles exit the atmosphere in the ascent stage. ``Reentry'' refers to reentry into the atmosphere. Pronounced like the nickname Merv. Cf. argonaut.

Management Information Systems.

Management-Initiated Separation. Old IBM euphemism for firing. Sounds more like a dysphemism, à la B.O.

Later, ``stimulated emission'' was used to describe the slightly more human practice of induced (rather than forced) resignation.


Usually involves property destruction.

mise en scène
An aesthetic (not anaesthetic) championed by the movie critic André Bazin and New Wave film directors such as Jean-Luc Godard (1930-) and François Truffaut (1932-84), each of whom started writing for Cahiers du Cinema in the early 50's, and each of whom made his first feature film in 1959.

In literal translation, mise en scène is `staging.' No one knows what it means, so you can use the phrase wherever you feel you can intimidate your audience into not challenging your use of it.

Major Indoor Soccer League. Pronounced ``mizzle,'' it was a fizzle. It's one of the many failed efforts to interest Americans in that foreign sport that calls itself ``football'' in places that don't have the real thing. It's got a website and all, with scoreboards and draft news and all, trumpeting an ESPN2 broadcast contract, all just as if it were a successful sports league. I'd heard of corpses walking, but having them jump and skull the ball -- that's a new one on me.

Japanese, `fermented soybean paste.' Used as a soup thickener and seasoning.

Multiple-Input, Single-Output.

Here's a reconsideration.

Metal-Insulator-Semiconductor Switch.

Mission Viejo
A municipality founded by gringos whose ignorance of Spanish is celebrated in the name -- misión is female, so any thinking person would either know that the adjective should be vieja or would ask someone who actually knew the language. The only circumstance allowing male gender here would be that Viejo were a family name, which it isn't.

Viejo means `old,' so the name seems intended to suggest (with transparent deceit) that the town has been there since the local language was Spanish. This ``old'' city was actually designed and founded in 1966 by the Mission Viejo Company, which continues to design and found small towns in the US (mostly California and Colorado, I think). Mission Viejo Corporation was bought in the early 1970's by the Philip Morris Cos., Inc., which sold it to Shea Homes in 1997.

You might think it strange for a corporation to be designing, founding, and owning an entire town. Eventually, a large-enough town would have its own courts and police force (small towns rely on their counties'), making it seem as if a part of the state government were owned by a private corporation. Then again, maybe that isn't so unusual, official niceties aside. We don't have a Levittowns entry yet. If you're looking for further amusement in this vein, consider the town of Bridgeville, California.

Mission Viejo is on I-5 a few miles north and inland from San Juan Capistrano, near the southern endpoint of the PCH.

misspelled city names
We have a list of them, courtesy of ePodunk (more about them below). They conducted a study of the subject (apparently first released in July 2001). They analyzed ``6 months of search entries on its Web site, which profiles communities across the country. After compiling a list of misspellings, ePodunk searched for incidences of the misspelled versions on the Web and in major publications (through electronic information services such as Lexis/Nexis).'' The result was a list ranking the 15 ``most misspelled cities in America'':

  1. Pittsburgh, PA
  2. Tucson, AZ
  3. Cincinnati, OH
  4. Albuquerque, NM
  5. Culpepper, VA
  6. Asheville, NC
  7. Worcester, MA
  8. Manhattan, NY
  9. Phoenix, AZ
  10. Niagara Falls, NY
  11. Fredericksburg, VA
  12. Philadelphia, PA
  13. Detroit, MI
  14. Chattanooga, TN
  15. Gloucester, MA

The fifteen cities are distributed among ten states. Five states have two cities in the list, and in two of those states -- Arizona and Pennsylvania -- the cities that made the list are the two largest cities of the state. Only one state could have the most misspelled city name, and it is just that Pennsylvania was that state. Pennsylvania toponyms are a rich subject.

I'm not aware of any similar list for other countries, but for Canada I nominate Ottawa. For Latin America, or at least for Mexico, I nominate México, D.F. Hmm...capitals both.

[``ePodunk was launched in 1999 in Ithaca, NY, just east of the real Podunk, a community so small it doesn't appear on the U.S. Census Bureau's list of places. ePodunk was founded by journalists with years of experience in newspapers, online publishing and demographics.'' They ``believe in the power of place,'' and they have a lot products related to real estate.]

Miss Spelling
The head term might be a misspelling of misspelling. Indeed, it is, but that's not what the entry is about. It's about Tori Spelling. Something else about her is sTori Telling, her autobiography. (No, I don't know who wrote it. It's not inconceivable that she did.) The book came out in March or late February 2008, and she was flogging it from early in January. A widely reported quote went thus: ``As for Luke Perry, he called me `camel' because I had long eyelashes. Trust me, Luke Perry can call you `camel' and make it sexy.'' My hat is off to Perry; who would have guessed that behind that pretty face was a brain that could think so fast on its feet? Another place in this glossary where you may read almost nothing about Miss Spelling (and that's as much as you want, after all) is the alternate Spelling entry.

Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, and Turkey. Another catchy four-country acronym to compete with PIGS and BRIC. It was coined in January 2011 by Jim O'Neill, former chief economist of Goldman Sachs and now chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. As of June 2011, it hasn't caught on to anything like the extent that BRIC or PIGS has. Mist, fwiw, is `dung' in German. (Pferdemist is `horseshit,' etc.)

Mistakes come in two types, or sizes. There are mistakes I make, which are understandable and excusable, and really hardly worth mentioning, except that they serve as rare reminders that even I am only human. The other kind are mistakes that others make, which are not always ridiculous, idiotic, evil, contemptible, and outrageous, but certainly at least one of the above.

There. I just wanted to clear up your stupid confusion. For another mistake dichotomy, see the black bra entry.

Mistakes were made.
I did wrong and haven't the courage to own it.

MInnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart.

Manage{ment|r} -- Information Technology.

You can get a degree in this, but many businesses need much less. At least one national restaurant chain I'm aware of promotes shift managers to MIT's via a ten-week training course.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Metal-Insulator Transition.

Multidisciplinary, Interdisciplinary, and Transdisciplinary. Get down -- let's conference!

Oooh! Oooh! I've got a good one... intradisciplinary!

mit der Bitte um Weiterleitung
German: `with apologies for cross-posting.'

Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry.

MIchigan Translators/Interpreters Network. Founded in 1991, it became a chapter of the American Translators Association in 2004.

Magnetically Insulated Transmission Line. See, e.g., B. Church and R. N. Sudan, Phys. Plasmas, vol. 2, p. 1837 (1995).

An MIT-alumni-founded Research and Engineering CORPoration.

mixed metaphor
It's useful to have an articulate devil's advocate for the excusable or justifiable exceptions of this transgression, but in Practical Criticism (Pt. III, Ch. 2; p. 189 of the 1968 Harvest Books edition) I.A. Richards's liberality goes too far:
... That a metaphor is mixed is nothing against it; the mind is ambidextrous enough to handle the most extraordinary combinations if the inducement is sufficient.

(He continues: ``But the mixture must not be of the fire and water type--which unfortunately is exactly what we have here.'')

mixed vegetables
Carrots and peas, for example. Possibly even usually. You were expecting maybe an intelligent comment? Oh, okay, we'll give it the old college try.

The term ``mixed vegetables'' does not normally refer to vegetables of a single type that have been mixed. That is, if you have a bowl of Italian-cut string beans and you take a spoon and stir them around, that's not ``mixed vegetables'' despite the fact that the individual beans are not identical among themselves, as electrons are (so there's no ``bean exchange interaction,'' even in string theory). I think that a mix of French-cut and Italian-cut and pureed-from-too-much-mixing string beans is not mixed vegetables either. It hardly seems fair. Xenophobia. I need to bone up on the entropy-of-mixing aspects of this. Calico bean salad is not normally called ``mixed vegetables'' either. I think what we have here is a term that only looks like an ordinary compound, but which is really a slightly specialized term with a meaning not completely inferrable from analysis.

mixed veggies
Chaos at the funny farm! Not the catatonia ward? Okay, maybe this, which you may have seen quite recently.

Michael Jackson. A real talent for generating entertainment, one way or another.

Mother Jones, a muckraking magazine with haphazard fact-checking. Also MoJo.

The Matsushiro ARray in Japan. Part of the International Monitoring System (IMS) of seismic stations. Probably not too far from MAJO.

Maison des jeunes et de la culture. French: `youth club.' I guess that's not a literal translation.

Modified Julian Day. A modification of the Julian day system (vide JD) defined so the MJD value is 2,400,000.5 less than the JD value. This allows dates starting 1858.11.17 CE to have low positive numbers. The extra 0.5 puts the beginning of the MJD at midnight (the JD referred to here is the original-flavor astronomical JD).

Peter Meyer has a clear exposition of the various Julian Day numbers.

Mariner Jupiter-Saturn (mission).

(Domain name code for) Macedonia. (FYROM.)

There's some information at the Open Society Institute (OSI) - Macedonia.

Two million people live on about 10,000 sq. mi. of territory. If they stood in pairs on a square grid, spaced a tenth of a mile apart in N-S and E-W directions, well, that would be something, wouldn't it?

The capital is Skopje.

Mk, Mk.
MarK. Abbreviation used mostly in reference to the gospel of Mark (GMark). Markan (pertaining to GMark or to the writer Mark, or to whatever redactor gave GMark the spin one is immediately concerned with) is occasionally abbreviated ``Mkan.''

The common noun and verb mark is one of those basic words like get that gets crazy-long dictionary entries. Because a mark is often made to measure height or progress, by metonymy the word mark is used to mean a level of development, and level designations like ``Mark I,'' ``Mark II,'' etc. come to be used as proper names. Examples include the Lincoln Continental Marks Series, various Mark 1 and Mark I computers, and the quality influence bureau for this glossary (it's an informal operation; we don't have a quality control bureau). Mk. sometimes abbreviates such nominal uses of Mark.

Member of Knesset. Member of 120-seat Israeli Parliament. Cabinet members may not sponsor legislation. Election is by party lists (Israel-wide at-large voting), but as of the fourteenth Knesset, elected 1996, the prime minister is elected by direct vote. Here's a site with a little more detail than a few weeks'-worth of repetitious newsreports.

The number 120 is traditional from, I think post-exilic (post-Babylonian exile) times, when 120 was the membership of a knesset gadol (gadol means large). The number was ten (a good round number) times twelve (the original number of tribes, and also a good number).

Missionary Kid. Child of a missionary. The way these things work, usually the child of two missionaries. In no reported instances is an MK the direct offspring of three or more missionaries. Not just because it's impossible, although that might contribute to the low frequency (zero) of reported instances, but also because most missionaries are not into orgies and other creative procreativity. Then again, any position they use is, by definition, a missionary position. Standard gags like this are probably one of the reasons that MK's seek each other out for support and to have sickeningly good clean fun together (e.g., Mu Kappa).

The children of Salvation Army volunteers are both MK's and Army brats.

MKSA, mksA
Meter-Kilogram-Second-Ampere. The SI electromagnetic base units, and the rationalized system of equations that goes with it.

Medical Knowledge Self-Assessment Program. Feed a cold, starve a fever. You can get syphilis from a toilet seat. I've got it all down! MKSAP is available from ACP.

Mortal Kombat. A video game. A video game series! A video game that is history. It was mortal too.

Mkan, Mkan.
Markan. See Mk.


A brand name, along with Crixivan, for the protease inhibitor indinavir. I think MK stands for Merck, the drug company that developed it.

(Domain name code for) Mali.

Maximum Leader.

Maximum Likelihood.

Meat Loaf. A rock vocalist very successful when singing the music of Jim Steinman (Bat Out Of Hell and Bat Out Of Hell II: Back To Hell), and also a movie actor. (He will be remembered as the motorcycle guy who is murdered and eaten in the cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show, which starred the rocker Tim Curry as Doctor Frankenfutter.) Born Marvin Lee Aday, September 27, 1951, so maybe he gets dual use out of some of his monogrammed stuff.

Micro Linear semiconductor device prefix.

MilliLiter. Some biologists pronounce this `mil.' In fact, it turns out that the use of `mil' as a pharmaceutical unit dates back to 1905 at least, when mil was authorized as an official name for a milliliter by the UK Board of Trade. Huh! (There is, however, a length unit by that name.) For a further discussion of this fascinating topic, you are invited to visit the Pronunciation Sidebar under the decibel (dB) entry.

You could probably save yourself a lot of argument by calling it a cc. Then again maybe not.

MonoLayer. In semiconductor science, that means a layer one atom thick. Monolayer-control is routinely achieved.

Music Library at UB. Coincidentally, this is the Library of Congress catalog code prefix for Music.

Maine Lobstermen's Association.

Medical Library Association.

Member of Legislative Assembly. Used in Canada and India, where it refers to a state (in India) or provincial (in Canada) legislature rather than a national one. In Canada, an alternative is MPP.

Modern Language Association. A subversive organization founded in 1883. Its annual convention is held in December. Perfect timing for soon-to-graduate graduate students in Engish to interview and be disappointed, or not get any interviews and be even more disappointed. Like the first book (Inferno, `Hell') of Dante's Divine Comedy, it turns out that suffering can occur at many levels (depths).

Louis Kampf explained this in 1967 (bibliographic source details at the Brooks and Warren entry):

      The MLA's power lies in its strong stomach, in its capacity to digest almost everything, thus giving it institutional sanction. It can do so because the professional standards it allegedly maintains do not exist: there is no basis on which to exclude anything. Clearly the MLA, rather than being a professional organization, is a trade association: its natural drift is toward the councils of the Chamber of Commerce, where it will best serve the social and economic aspirations of its own membership.

One year when the MLA's annual meeting was held in San Francisco, a Bronx native spotted Joe DiMaggio in the lobby of the conference hotel and introduced himself. The great man was gracious as always, but he wanted to know what MLA stood for. When told, he replied ``Modern languages? What the hell's wrong with the old languages?'' Cf. RMMLA.

Music Library Association.

Multi-Layer Anti-Reflection (coating). Essentially a Distributed Bragg Reflection (DBR, q.v.). See anti-reflective coating (ARC).

Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. Pronounced ``EM-lat.'' An agreement between two countries to cooperate in providing information for each other's police investigations.

Major League Baseball. A North American subsidiary of Caribbean baseball.

A lot of people unfamiliar with the game of baseball think it's a slow-moving, boring game where people mostly wait, alternately in a sitting or slouching position. (People familiar with baseball think that of cricket.) However, this impression misses the real action, which is in the strategy and tactics. The pitcher and the batter try to fake each other out, as the fielders try to anticipate where the ball will go. Baserunners coordinate their movements in part by anticipating each others' actions rather than watching for them. Yes, baseball is a game of expectorations. Major League Baseball is, anyway. Minor League Baseball is a game of expectations, or at least hopes.

[Football icon]

Middle LineBacker (LB). Lines up between an inside linebacker (ILB) and an outside linebacker (OLB).

Major League Baseball (MLB) Players' Association.

MultiLayer Capacitor.

MultiLayer Ceramic Chip Capacitor. Currently (2005), the majority of multilayer chip capacitors use a ceramic dielectric, but not all. A more precise initialism would be MCCC, but this is rare. (MLCCC is not used at all in this connection.)

Maple Leaf Chow Chow Club. Chow Chow is a breed of dog. ``The Maple Leaf Chow Chow Club was formed in 1973. Although our official area of operation is the province of Ontario, we are a truly international club. We have members from all across Canada, from British Columbia to Newfoundland'' and a number of far- and near-flung countries. Members are bound by CKC bylaws.

McNeil Learning Community Curriculum Alignment Council. I'd like to buy a vowel, please.

Multi-Layer Coil Counter-current Chromatography.

MultiLayer Ceramic MultiChip Module.


Minimum Lethal Dose. Not normally a well-defined quantity; consider the case of Mithridates (he died old).

Matched-Line Directional Divider. A kind of microwave power divider with mutually isolated outputs. See Thomas J. Russell: ``A Matched-Line Directional Divider Two-Way Power Divider,'' Microwave Journal, pp. 92ff (November 1994).

Major League Eating.

``Real life speed eating contests approved by Major League Eating and the International Federation of Competitive Eating are held only in a controlled environment with appropriate rules and with an emergency medical technician present.''

Takeru ``The Tsunami'' Kobayashi, six-time winner of the annual Independence-Day Hot Dog-Eating Contest at Coney Island, ``did not eat this year'' (2010, that is) because he refused to sign a contract with Major League Eating. He explained on his Japanese-language blog that he wanted to be free to compete in contests sanctioned by other groups. A few days before the 2010 event, however, he did tell Japan's Kyodo News that he really wanted to compete in the Coney Island event. After the 2010 competition ended (in a fourth consecutive win for Joey Chestnut), Kobayashi came on stage. He was welcomed by host George Shea, but then security officers appeared and tried to usher him off the stage. He was under arrest that night on charges of resisting arrest, trespass, and obstructing governmental administration. (It wasn't clear from news reports exactly which or how many of the security personnel were police.)

Maximum-Likelihood Estimation.

Multi-Line Hunt Group.

Martin Luther King. The famous preacher and his father were named Michael Luther King at birth. Junior was born in 1929 (on January 15, as you recall). In 1934, following a trip to Europe, Senior had his and his son's names legally changed to Martin Luther King in honor of the most famous Martin Luther.

Mode-Locked Laser Diode.

Multi-Level Marketing. Join a straight-up pyramid scheme instead and get it over with.

Multi-Level Metal.

Multi-Longitudinal Mode.

Master Limited Partnership. An MLP is a kind of limited partnership that issues publicly traded ``investment units.'' The modern form of MLP's in the US was defined by the Tax Reform Act of 1986 and the Revenue Act of 1987. These stipulate how companies can structure their operations to realize certain tax benefits afforded to MLP's. (Maybe they also explain what the word ``master'' is doing in the name. Read the legislation and get back to me when you find out.) In order to qualify for MLP tax status, a firm must earn 90% of its income through activities or interest and dividend payments relating to natural resources, commodities or real estate.


Minor Latin Poets. There's an old fat Loeb volume (fat for a Loeb) by that title.

Multi-Layer Perceptron.

Multi-Layer Protocol.

Minimum Lending Rate.

The International Monitoring System (IMS code for the seismic station at Muntele Rosu, Romania. Currently a 3-C station, AFAIK. Part of the auxiliary network.

Movimiento Laboral Registrado. `Registered Labor Movement.' Spanish.

Major League Soccer. Ten teams; the latest attempt (Spring 1996) to get professional soccer going in the US (only slightly less difficult than providing a valid proof of a logical impossibility). Reportedly solvent.

Master of Liberal Studies. Plural (``Masters'') and ``in'' (rather than ``of'') forms are less common. This is just the degree for people who don't want to learn anything in particular, but who want ``fresh perspectives and the critical thinking, analytical, and communication skills so valued in today's workplace.'' Alternatively, if you do want to learn something in particular, but it doesn't happen to satisfy the requirements for any particular conventional major, then this might be for you also. You usually have to pay as much to audit a course as to take it for credit, so if you plan to take a bunch of advanced courses, you might as well register for this degree, and maybe accidentally stumble into a credential.

Masters of Library Science. For most academic librarian positions, two masters degrees are a minimum. This would be one of them. It makes a big difference, for library positions generally, whether the library science program is ALA-accredited or not. Some libraries require the degree to be from an accredited program. On the other hand, the accreditation system is controversial, and ALA accreditation has been reputably described as a disrecommendation.

One person at U VA (which no longer has an MLS program) writes

``MLS programs also have a tendency to come to an abrupt halt, or to change their name to `Information Science' or some such.''

Microwave Landing System.

MultiLayered Structure.

Multiple Listing System. The industry-wide standard system for advertising the availability of homes and other real estate in the US. If you wanted to know (i.e., if you weren't ``just looking''), then you might want to visit <FreeHomeListings.com>.

MeLaTonin. As little as 0.1 mg has a detectable ability to facilitate falling asleep. There are preliminary indications that it has a number of medical benefits. Serotonin is a precursor.

Modern Language Teachers' Association of Victoria, Inc. Affiliated with the Australian Federation of Modern Language Teachers' Associations, Inc.

Machine Model. Model for the kinds of electrostatic discharge (ESD) events caused by machines involved in the manufacture of electronic devices (specifically in back-end-of-line processes: assembly, bonding and testing).

Marriage-Minded. Personals ad abbreviation.

Marilyn Monroe.

Methadone Maintenance.

Mile Marker. Abbreviation useful on VMS's.

Military Mail. Fan mail for US military personnel. MM collects mail from individuals, groups of all kinds, churches, schools, etc. all across the US, mixes it together, then sends it to more than 1,000 places across the country and around the world. (The figure of ``more than 1,000'' applies to the Christmas mail--it is many fewer places at other times during the year.)

MM is a continuation of the ``Vietnam Mail Call'' program established in 1965.

Moderation Management. A behavioral modification program and a national support group network for people concerned about their drinking. Drinking alcohol, okay? If you're worried that you're drinking too much hot cocoa, you're on your own.

For $25, MM makes available something they call a ``Behavioral Self-Control Program for Windows'' (BSCPWIN). They ought to look into bundling that with Norton Utilities.

Moving Magnet. Phonograph records are normally played (when they are still played) by being turned on a turntable; a stylus rests in the groove of the record, and the rotation of the record causes the stylus (or ``needle'') to vibrate as it tracks the groove. In the earliest players, with hand-crank turntables, the vibration of the stylus was transferred mechanically to a diaphragm and a sort of megaphone. A dog would stand listening to it, recognizing ``his master's voice.'' Except that the dog was optional and it didn't have to be a Victrola. One improvement on this design was volume control: the megaphone or equivalent was located inside the player cabinet, and you could open or close the doors on the front of the cabinet. The styli [the opportunity to use this plural was my only reason for not just calling them needles] for these monsters were like small nails, and you bought many at a time. The records didn't last very long either.

Electric phonograph players use electric motors to turn the disc and (since the mid-1920's) electrical amplification of the stylus movement. This requires something to convert the mechanical signal to an electrical one: a transducer or pick-up. Originally, the transducer was a piezo-electric crystal. (Stylus material has varied with cost considerations and the technical requirements of increasingly narrow grooves, but sapphire and diamond generally superseded steel, and since the 1960's diamond has been standard.)

I guess you didn't really need to know much of that. Eventually, magnetic transducers were introduced. These give higher-fidelity playback. If you're listening to vinyl in the twenty-first century, it's out of nostalgia or for high fidelity, so in the latter case you're using a magnetic cartridge (the cartridge is the housing that holds the stylus and transducer at the end of the tonearm). All magnetic cartridges use a magnet and a pick-up coil (or a pair of coils, for stereo), and work on the basis of Faraday's law of induction: movement of the magnet changes the magnetic flux through the coil, and changes in the magnetic flux through the coil induce an electromotive force (EMF). EMF is a traditional term; in plain terms, the EMF is the voltage between the ends of the coil wire. In principle, the magnet could be electromagnetic, but in practice I think it's always a permanent magnet or an induced magnet (a paramagnetic material with a magnetization induced by a nearby permanent magnet).

An EMF is generated by relative motion of the magnet and coil. This is kind of a big deal: Faraday's law was eventually incorporated in Maxwell's equations, and the notion of ``relative motion'' implicit in Maxwell's equations led to the Lorentz-FitzGerald transformations. As properly understood by Einstein, they lead to the special (i.e., gravity-free) theory of relativity.

But if you're just interested in pick-up cartridges, the implications are more circumscribed. Since transduction depends on relative motion, you can either let the stylus move the coil while the magnet is ``fixed'' (i.e., is attached to the much more massive and approximately stationary tonearm), or you can let the stylus move the magnet while the coil is fixed. The former of these is called the moving-coil (MC) configuration, and the latter may be called a moving-magnet configuration (MM, remember?). If the magnet is simply a permanent magnet, it's MM. However, cartridges in which the stylus moves an induced magnet (typically soft iron) have ``moving iron'' designs. They are not usually described as moving-magnet cartridges (perhaps because the permanent magnet is normally fixed), but by some other more specific term.

The stylus may be a user-replaceable part of the cartridge. User-replaceable styli are more common with MM cartridges than MC cartridges.

Multiple Mode (fiber, waveguide, etc.). As opposed to SM.

(Domain name code for) Myanmar. Burma, named changed by the current permanent military dictatorship (State Peace and Development Council).

The last elected civilian prime minister of Burma was U Nu. U Thant was a parliament secretary in the Ministry of Information in U Nu's government. In 1952 U Thant became a Burmese delegate to the U.N. and five years later became the country's permanent representative. He served as Secretary General from 1961 to 1971. Since you want to know more, you should go to this page.

``So what'' you ask? So what? These are not only important diplomats who achieved countless important diplomatic achievements -- they also had some of the shortest names in the world!

Metropolitan Museum of Art. Or maybe the Museum of Modern Art. In New York City. If you want to be understood, say ``the Met'' or MOMA.

MilliMeter Array project.

Mixed Martial Arts.

Muttahida Majlis e Amal. Pakistani `United Action Front.' A loose coalition of religious political parties, both Sunni and Shia, which won 20% of seats in the national parliament in the elections of October 2002, and in 2003 forms the government of the North West Frontier Province and shares power in Baluchistan.

Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center. ``Established in 1946 [in Oklahoma City] by the Civil Aeronautics Administration as a centralized [and convenient!] training and logistics facility with approximately 350 employees, the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center has grown to become a major organizational complex of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employing approximately 4,400 government and contract personnel. In fact, the Aeronautical Center is the largest concentration of Department of Transportation employees outside the Washington, D.C. area!'' See also AIDA.

Museo Municipal de Arte Moderno. `Municipal Museum of Modern Art.' The name of a museum (and associated cultural center with performance venues) in Mendoza, Argentina.

Not that it's anything unusual, but it's probably worth mentioning at least once: when the acronym is used in a sentence, it functions as a noun and takes the male article el, as would museo, the gender-determining noun of the noun phrase.

Memory MAP. Pronounced ``em map.''

Metal Matrix Composites.

MultiMedia Center. You were thinking of ``the most advanced communication and information services company,'' right? The one in the Caucasian republic of Georgia (.ge).

See MCL.

Micro Miniature (``micromin'') Diode. Small but discrete. ``micromin'' is a package standard.

Molecular Modeling DataBase ``contains 3-dimensional structures determined by X-ray crystallography and NMR spectroscopy. The data for MMDB are obtained from the Protein Data Bank (PDB). The NCBI [(National Center for Biotechnology Information) main page here] has cross-linked structural data to bibliographic information, to the sequence databases, and to the NCBI taxonomy. The NCBI has developed a 3D structure viewer, Cn3D, for easy interactive visualization of molecular structures from within Entrez.

Alternatively, you can view search the data with the 3DB viewer from PDB.

MultiMedia Data Services.

Malaysia Monetary Exchange.

Microsoft Multimedia Extension.

mmf, MMF
MagnetoMotive Force.

MultiMode Fiberoptic (cable).

See MCL.

MonoMethylHydrazine. In organic chemical nomenclature, the mono that the first em represents is conventionally implicit and omitted, so MMH abbreviates what, written out in full, is usually just methylhydrazine.

Maryland Multi-Housing Association, Inc. An NAA affiliate.

Medina Metropolitan Housing Authority. Not the Medina in Arabia. MMHA was established in 1953 as an independent political subdivision of the state of Ohio. It provides housing for low- to moderate-income residents of Medina County.

Man-Machine Interface.

Multi Media Interface. This is a stupid expansion, since multi is not a word. Fortunately, the expansion won't be used very much since it's for an MMI on which Audi claims a trademark. (Yes, it's also stupid to claim a trademark on an acronym that has been in use for over a decade to mean pretty much what you want it to mean. At least they're not claiming they registered it. Hold on -- I have to think it over. Maybe I don't mean stupid but asinine.)

Monolithic { Microwave | Millimeter[-wave] } IC [Pronounced ``mimic.''] (Electromagnetic radiation with millimeter-scale wavelengths is in the range called microwave, so in principle the senses of the two expansions overlap. In practice they're equivalent.) Here's a page of relevant links.

MultiMedia Modeling. Name of a conference; in Singapore in 1997.

meiner Meinung nach. German, `in my opinion' [IMO]. Cf. m.A.n.

Massively Multiplayer Online (game).

Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game.

MicroMeteoroid or Orbital Debris. The reason why the logical AND of MM or OD events is of interest is that either one might puncture something vital.

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. A group-administered paper-and-pencil test first published in 1943 by Starke Hathaway, Ph.D., and J. Charnley McKinley, M.D., both of the University of Minnesota Hospitals. By the time it was replaced by the MMPI-2, it was the most widely used personality inventory in the US and was widely used throughout the world. The inventory was a routine screening instrument, intended to determine just what kind of crazy you were. Maybe that's a little harsh, but maybe not. At least, that's how I read the results. It was used on job applicants and people in marriage counseling. I find that offensive, but then again I find a lot of things offensive. Which is not to say that they aren't objectively offensive, if there is a valid way to determine such a thing.

MMPI was one of the earliest personality inventories to use ``empirical keying.'' Previously, personality inventories had used a ``logical keying'' approach. Logical keying created targeted questions intended to detect various personality characteristics, and personality scales were defined on the basis of expected answers to those questions.

In empirical keying, scales are defined by correlating responses on the inventory with other data (clinical data, professionals' evaluations, etc.; eventually one scale, a measure of masculinity-femininity, was simply correlated with sex).

[For example, in a simple linear approach, one could assign to each tested person (labeled i) a value yi by some external criterion (clinical evaluation if y represents psychosis, say) and tally the answers xij given by person i on inventory question j. A scale would be defined by assigning nonzero weights wj to an appropriate subset of inventory items, and the y-scale value of a particular person would be determined by taking the weighted sum over all items (i.e., by summing xijwj over j). The y-scale value is regarded as a prediction of externally assigned yi. The work of defining the scale, which is to say of assigning values to the weights wj, is typically done by a least-squares technique, treating the weights as variables and adjusting them so as to minimize the variance between externally assigned yi values and the y-scale values determined by the linear (or some more complicated) formula. There are various slightly different least squares techniques, and there are a number of detailed issues to be worried about, such as the validity and reliability of evaluators' assessments, the discreteness (as opposed to continuity) of the yi values, etc.]

Psychologists give many reasons why empirical keying is better than logical keying, but the fundamental reason is formal: the measure of an inventory's validity is the smallness of the residuals between inventory predictions and independent measures. Empirical keying simply minimizes the residual by explicit calculation rather than by intuition or estimation. Most claimed disadvantages (the empirically determined lower validity) of the logical approach are directly implied by this general fact. Deficiencies in question design are largely unavoidable; the MMPI was created by collecting about 1000 statements (which examinees are to agree or disagree with) from published sources, and selecting 504 that seemed ``independent.''

The Depression scale of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). The MMPI has four validity scales and ten clinical scales. The validity scales do not measure whether the inventory itself has validity, and that is considered a good thing. They are crude measures that attempt to detect whether the test-taker has been attentive and honest. The validity scales can effectively detect whether the test-taker was literate in the language that the questions are written in, stayed awake through all 567 questions on the current (MMPI-2) version of the inventory, and lied consistently. The clinical scales, in addition to depression, are hypochondriasis, hysteria, hypomania, psychopathic deviation, paranoia, psychasthenia, schizophrenia, social introversion, and masculinity/femininity.

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2. The initialism and its expansion are trademarks owned by the University of Minnnesota. The result of seven years of R&D, published in 1989 to replace the old MMPI.

Measles, Mumps, Rubella. In Britain, vaccination against these childhood diseases used to be conducted in separate inoculations. In 2002, the government started paying only for the one-shot vaccine, but many parents, doubtful of its safety, were paying out-of-pocket for the individual inoculations.

Mandatory Manual Random Audits. To check that votes are being properly counted.

Mid-Michigan Chapter, Romance Writers of America. We also serve an RWA entry.

Multimission Modular Spacecraft.

Minimum Mean Square Error (MSE).

Molecular Manufacturing Shortcut Group. Organized within the National Space Society ``to promote nanotechnology as a path to the creation of a spacefaring civilization.''

Mariano Marcos State University. In Batac, in the Phillipine state of Ilocos Norte. Officially Don Mariano Marcos Memorial University, and sure enough they use the initialism DMMMSU, even on building names.


Micro Miniature (``micromin'') Transistor.

Multiple Mirror Telescope. Vide MMTO.

Multiple Mirror Telescope Observatory.

Memory Management Unit. I can't think of anything to say about this.

MilliMeter Wave.

MultiMegaWatt (space-based power source). See MMWSS.

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. A publication of the US CDC.

MultiMegaWatt Steady State. The context of this terminology was SDI. It was anticipated that ``alert mode'' operation of military satellites might require anywhere from 100 kW to a few MW of power, for periods of up to a year. In alert mode, the satellite is monitoring hostile activity, and is prepared to switch to ``burst mode'' -- the mode of active war-fighting. Even the low-end guesstimate of power needed in alert mode exceeded any space-based electrical power system previously implemented by any US program. (A few systems, like SP-100, were under consideration for the task, but the research was largely abandoned after the Soviet Union collapsed, bringing an end to the Cold War and heralding a long era of universal peace, harmony, and loving kindness.)

In burst mode, power requirements were estimated to be in the range of tens to hundreds of megawatts. It was expected, however, that this would be required only for periods of minutes or an hour. This stretched technology far past anything then available. Approaches to the problem of providing such large bursts of energy included SMES and open-system chemical and nuclear power sources.

MultiMedia eXtensions. Improvements on pentium-family processors -- acceleration optimized for multimedia (audio and video) tasks.

Chemical element abbreviation for Manganese. Atomic number 25. In the first period of transition metals.

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


Minnesota. USPS abbreviation.

The Villanova University Law School provides some links to state government web sites for Minnesota. USACityLink.com has a page with mostly city and town links for the state.

(Domain name code for) Mongolia. Possibly the most carnivorous nation on earth, just across China from probably the most vegetarian nations on earth.

(Historically, I suppose that Eskimos, Aleuts, and others occupying the iced-seafood ecological niche were probably even stricter carnivores.)

Member of the National Assembly. The Assemblée nationale du Québec is the equivalent of the provincial parliaments of the other Canadian provinces. They changed the name in 1969. It is no less provincial, despite the absence of that word. I guess they couldn't use the regular name because it's hard to find a satisfactory translation for such an irretrievably Anglo-Saxon word as parliament. It would offend the ear, or something.

Mehr News Agency. ``[E]stablished in Tehran in June 2003 to provide accurate and up-to-the-minute information to the public, with an emphasis on news about Iran and the rest of the Islamic world.'' Cf. IRNA.

Mobile Navigation Assistant.

MultiNational Corporation.

Mouvement National contre le Racisme. An organization founded in 1941 by members of the French resistance who made special efforts to save Jews. See also MRAP.

Motor Neurone Disease. The UK-standard name for ALS. It's the disease that Stephen Hawking famously suffers from.

Motor Neurone Disease Association.

MultiNational Enterprise. Colloquially ``multinationals.'' HMNE's and VMNE's (horizontal and vertical MNE's) are also distinguished.

When I googled for ``Minnesota Education Association,'' this was the first link up. It stands to reason, you would think, but it really stands for Missouri National Education Association. (An NEA affiliate, of course.)

Ah, dem Minisotens -- dey all-vays gots to do tings difrrent. (As witness DFL.) The local affiliate of the NEA and AFT is Education Minnesota.

A word for which one always needs a, um, something you can remember it by.

Here is a spelling mnemonic for mnemonics:
Mnemonics Neatly Eliminate Man's Only Nemesis -- Insufficient Cerebral Storage.

There's also a relevant movie, but I can't seem to remember the name.


What's that again? Oh, a classics journal.

Monday Night Football.

Cf. C.O.M.N.F.

Myopathy and external ophthalmoplegia; Neuropathy; Gastro-Intestinal (GI); Encephalopathy. Symptoms that define (and whose acronym names) a mitochondrial syndrome.


Master of [Arts in] Nonprofit Organizations. Offered by the Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations (links at the NGO entry) and by the University of Georgia Institute for Nonprofit Organizations (here's their fee schedule). There are many masters programs (in Social Work and in Public Administration) that offer concentrations in nonprofit organizations. There are a few MNO programs with different names, such as Master of Science in Nonprofit Management (at the New School University and others). No need to take the word science there overly seriously. This page is a good place to start looking for such programs.

666-. In the US and Canada, the phone number 6 is labeled with the letters MNO, used for mnemonics.

Metal-(silicon) Nitride-(silicon) oxide-semiconductor [Pronounced ``EM-noss'' (i.e., in some accents: /'em nas/).]

Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionaria. Spanish: `Revolutionary Nationalist Movement,' a Bolivian political party.

Metro-North Railroad. Commuter trains between New York City (NYC) and its northern suburbs. Now part of the New York MTA.

Morning Nautical Twilight. The time from BMNT (sun 12 degrees below horizon) until dawn. Vide EENT.


Mean Number of Utterances. A variable that comes up in conversational analysis. Nu -- you want to know what it means? It means the mean value of nu -- nu!

(Domain code for) Macau. (Also Macao.)


Managed Object.

Membership Organization.

MetalOrganic; organometallic.

Microelectronic Outline (package).

Microscope Objective.

Mo., MO
Missouri. USPS abbreviation is capitalized and has no period. Missouri and Tennessee (TN) each border eight states (including each other), more than any other state of the US.

The Villanova University Law School provides some links to state government web sites for Missouri. USACityLink.com has a page with mostly city and town links for the state.

The US WWII battleship Missouri was called ``Big Mo.'' At some point during a presidential campaign, George Bush exulted that he had the ``Big Mo,'' but he meant MOmentum.

Many of the illiterate early settlers of Missouri thought that the pronunciation /mizuri:/ was informal, like ``Caroliney'' for Carolina, and assumed that the proper pronunciation of the territory's name should end in shwa, like Carolina. That at least is the folk etymology of the standard Midwestern US pronunciation of the state's name.

However, an entry in a nineteenth-century encyclopedia, quoted in full at our American continent entry, apparently gives the name of the Missouri River as ``Misaures.'' This is presumably a French spelling (since French traders were the largest group of Europeans in the area, since France was the main colonial claimant of the territory until 1803, and since the word looks French, although in principle it could be, say, English or Spanish). If the appearance and presumption do not deceive, then the es at the end of the name is silent (as in Modern French) or shwa-like (as in older and dialectal pronunciations, I think). How does our hypothesis compare with hypotheses entertained in other reference works of comparable scholarliness? Well, the earliest instance of Missouri (dating to 1703, for the tribe) offered by the OED is in a translation from the French. The earliest names attested there for French are Ouemessourit (1673), Emissourita (1684), Emessourita (1702), and a plural Missouris (1687). I think they may have missed a parallel line of orthographic (and alternative pronunciation) development.


MO, m.o.
Modus Operandi. [Latin for `way of operating.'] Used to describe criminal technique.

Molecular Orbital.

Molybdenum. Atomic number 42. In the second period of transition metals. It's a very hard elemental metal to grind, but it's easy to shorten the name. It tends to end up being called ``molly.''

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


Measure[s] Of Adequacy.

Metal-Oxide surge Arrestor.

Microlensing Observations in Astronomy. A collaboration that uses gravitational microlensing to detect planets orbiting other stars. These are events in which a dim, massive compact object (a faint star will do) passes in front of a star-planet system. The nearer object bends light from the more distant system, serving as a kind of a divergent lens. Of course, we can only sample one ray coming through that lens from the partly occluded system, but because there is a relative proper motion of the stars, one has in effect a raster scan of one line of image information from the lens. Typically, information is gathered over the course of days to months. MOA is using the microlensing technique to search for planets that orbit at distances of 1 to 5 au from stars in the galaxy's bulge. As of 1998, about 50 events were being found per year that might be due to such planets. Those critical events -- anomalies in the intensity of light in the bent beam -- take place over the course of hours. MOA has also collaborated with MicroFUN and PLANET, which are similar groups.

Minutes Of Arc.

Massive Ordnance Air Burst. 21,000 pounds massive (gross weight). Nicknamed ``Mother Of All Bombs.''

We don't have a real Moab entry yet. Why not visit the Amman entry instead? That's close enough.

Main Operations Base. The status of South Korea in GPR. One level below Japan (PPH).

Museum Of Bad Art. In Boston, Mass. Featured, like too few others, in the MuseumSpot.com listing of Offbeat museums. Cf. MOMA.

MOdel-Based Integration of Embedded Software.

In wireless telecommunications, the word mobile implies more portable than ``portable.'' ``Portable'' refers to hand-held communications, hand-carried by pedestrians. ``Mobile'' means carried on board a rapid vehicle.

MOtherBOard. The (usually) metal board or drawer that holds the main electronics, including the CPU, on a personal computer.

Multiple Orbital Bombardment System. An SDI concept.

Managed Object Class[es].

Mint On Card. Term of art among Pezheads. See relevant entry from the local copy of Chris Sharpe's unofficial PEZ FAQ. Cf. MIB, MOMC.


Missouri (MO) Classical Association.

This is like Jazz: if you have to ask, you wouldn't understand.

MetalOrganic CVD. CVD (method and chamber) used for growing epitaxial layers of compound semiconductors. Typical semiconductors grown by the method are III-V compound semiconductors like GaAs, AlAs and AlGaAs, InGaAs, InP, etc.

Magneto-Optical Disk.

March Of Dimes. Originally created to raise money (in small -- dime -- contributions) for research to end polio. They moved on and found other causes when a vaccine against polio was invented.

MODulus. The absolute value of a real number, or the magnitude of some other mathematical object (complex number or vector).

MODulo. A rigorous definition is useful mostly for those who already learned it in another context. Basically, modular arithmetic is the arithmetic of remainders. Hence ``p mod q'' is the remainder on division of p by q -- 17 mod 10 = 7, 430 mod 3 = 1. When you consider only integer p and q you get an interesting mathematical structure, the rule of nines, all that.

modal logic
A formal system of logic that treats possibility explicitly rather than as an element in propositions themselves. Where traditional logic has the unary operator not, modal logic incorporates the additional unary logical operator possibly. If for some proposition A it is false that possibly not A, then it is easier to say (and one introduces an operator to say it) that it is true that necessarily A. Cf. tense logic, described at the PRIOR subentry. (No, not the prior subentry; just follow the link, okay?)

MOdulator-DEModulator. Rockwell Semiconductor Systems has an FAQ answers page.

Here's a list of links.

A personals-ad modifier applied to left-wing and right-wing, meaning either moderate or extreme. The universal situation is that people tend to discount as ``fringe'' any viewpoints sufficiently different from their own. Thus, once one moves sufficiently far to the left or right, one considers the vast majority of opinion (to one's right or left, resp.), ``fringe.'' I can hear you thinking: ``that's crazy, you have to be delusional, in denial.'' Yes, and what of it?

With a bit of parochialism and a judicious application of confirmation bias, the vast majority of people can think of themselves as squarely centrist. (Alas, as we moderate bien-pensants know too well, only crazy extremists get elected. They subvert democracy by deceiving the stupid majority that should be voting as we do. Democracy, you know, is an absolute good; it's just those damn voters that are the problem.)

In principle, as one drifts way out to the left or right (further if one lives in Berkeley or Idaho, resp.), it ought to become increasingly difficult to maintain the illusion that one is comfortably in the middle of the political spectrum. (I wouldn't know, since I'm a moderate.)

This mathematical issue (approaching a limit from one side -- sup = limsup, as they say) reminds me of religious school. My earliest these-people-are-imbeciles epiphany (that I can recall) was in fourth or fifth grade, when the principal came in to teach us a special lesson:

No matter how poor you are, there's always someone poorer.

I suppose the point must have been that if you're starving to death, you can Thank God that you're not as hungry as someone else who's closer to meeting The Almighty. One of those there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I things. On its face, this seems a bit questionable to me. I haven't studied theodicy, but I think this line of reasoning should quickly lead George Soros to curse his luck/stars/deity that he doesn't have Bill Gates's kind of money.

But set that aside. The brilliance of the always-someone-poorer claim is that it seals up a leak in the argument over on the low end of the socio-economic status variable: it makes Schadenfreude, or relative-satisfaction, or whatever, available to every last wretched human. The only problem, obvious to a ten-year-old, is that it can't be true.

A moving target, wouldn't you say?

modern era
There are many definitions, but a popular one is since 1500, or about since Columbus reached America. In other words, the era of modern history since the time that powerful new European nation-states with strong economies (first mercantilist, then capitalist) and advanced technologies began a broad program of imperialism that dramatically changed the face of the world. You could argue that the Portuguese got the ball rolling earlier, or that the picture is clouded by Ottoman power in Eastern Europe, or how the Zeitgeist changed, etc., etc., but it's useful to have established names for things, even -- or especially -- when you're going to argue about them, so say since 1500. Cf. modern times.

The literary response to modernity, mostly since the failed revolutions of 1848. Literature characterized by grumpiness, resentment, and arrogance. It features contempt of the author for his characters, focus of attention on artistic activity rather than focus of artistic activity on more interesting objects of attention -- a self-absorption carried to the extreme of solipsism. Few modernist masterpieces are studied in secondary school, because they are literary poison. Even fewer modernist masterpieces are studied in secondary school because they are literary poison.

Postmodernism is the transfer of all that heavy modernism baggage into literary criticism.

The social phenomena associated with industrialization and capitalism, occurring in modern times. Principal among these, the displacement of status by class (in the restricted sociological senses of those two words). That is, a movement from a social hierarchy based on birth and standing within public (religious, governmental) organizations and towards a hierarchy based primarily on wealth, and associated with greater social mobility. In the earlier hierarchies, wealth tended to be based on the rents from ownership of land and chattel (cattle, slaves, vassals ... speaking broadly here). In the hierarchies of modern times, wealth was more fluid -- in the form of money and transferable goods -- and resulted from commerce and industrial production.

In the US and England, the elites of status and class merged to a substantial degree through intermarriage and shifts of occupation, as high-status and upper-class groups each sought what the other had. In the US, this transition used the Episcopal church as a kind of vehicle or token. Late in the nineteenth century, Episcopal church membership in America grew by a factor of three and Episcopalians became for many decades the richest (per capita) denomination in the US. Henry VIII triumphed where George III was defeated. In England, of course, Anglicanism is the established church and church membership did not play the same role. In fact, today polls indicate that half of Britons regard themselves as Anglicans, but actual membership in the Anglican church is around three million (in a country of what, fifty million?). The US is a religious country to a degree that Europeans can hardly imagine. In a typical week, more than half the population of the US attends church.

Oh well, back to modernity. Most liberation and enfranchisement movements, and unionism, of course, are associated with modernity.

The industrial revolution began in England, and proceeded perhaps most smoothly there as a result. On the continent, industrialization began later, was more sudden, and was associated with various worker uprisings. Almost every European monarchy outside England was toppled by the end of WWI. (The Spanish and Greek monarchies were reëstablished by later conservative regimes.)

I haven't like, checked any references recently, so caveat lector.

modern love stories
In 1995, the Australian immigration office refused to grant permanent residency status to a resident of Buffalo, who the previous year had married an Australian she met on the Internet. Apparently guided by the Australian Department of Health, the immigration office requires her to lose 24 pounds before the couple can live happily together in Brisbane. I wonder if they've given any of those heavy weight-lifting Olympians a hard time in 2000.

Here are the lyrics to David Bowie's Modern Love, from a site in Australia. David Bowie is on the thin side.

modern school
As a technical term in UK education, described at the grammar school entry.

modern times
The era of advanced industrialization -- hence occurring at slightly different times in different places. Since the term refers primarily to the time of certain social transformations and upheavals as they occurred in Europe and North America, however, it is more or less the nineteenth century or the Victorian era, and some indeterminate interval since then, possibly reaching into the present.

Charlie Chaplin's movie Modern Times (1936) is the definitive statement on Modern Times. If you have not seen this hilarious yet touching movie, you are culturally destitute.

Modulation-doped FET. American-proposed name for HEMT (q.v.; still used but less common than ``HEMT'').

modified limited hangout
Soft obstruction of justice, a fall-back position when complete stonewall defenses are breached; a stage in the process of graceless resignation.

MODerate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer. Aristotle and Confucius both had a ``doctrine of the mean.''


MODerationS. An Oxford classics exam explained at the Greats entry. (I don't explain the origin of the name there. I'm not being coy, I just don't know it. Okay -- fail me! FAIL ME if you want!! I'm sick of studying.)

MODular Smell Identification Test. A standard twelve-item test.


modus vivendi
Latin, `way of living.'

Margin Of Error. The inverse square root of the sample size. Hence, with a sample of 1000, the MOE is 0.03162 or 3.162%. That's the origin of the famous ``3% margin of error.''

This figure of merit was created as a shorthand way of indicating the reliability of polling results to a statistically unsophisticated audience. It does have some basis in a more rigorous statistical analysis.

I will explain that later, but briefly for now: if the percentage you're trying to determine by poll is around 50%, then the margin of error is about equal to two standard deviations. Nineteen times out of twenty, the sample (actual polled) results will come within two standard deviations (the MOE, in this case) of the real (``universe,'' sample of the whole) percentage.

More generally, if the fraction you're trying to measure is p, where p is not necessarily 0.5, then the margin of error is larger than two standard deviations, and overestimates the chances that the measured result will be wrong. Instead, two standard deviations are smaller than MOE by a factor of the square root of 4p(1-p). (Notice that for p=0.5, the correction factor is unity.) So if the number you're trying to measure is 0.01, and your poll samples 1000, then 2 S.D. equals about 0.0063. These numbers describe a rather skewed binomial distribution that is not too well approximated by a Gaussian. Roughly speaking, though: if, say, an unbiased poll finds that exactly 1% of respondents (ten of 1000) support a candidate, then the chances that the real support is 1.5% or higher are rather poor.

Two important issues I really ought to come back to: sources of bias and the fact that the S.D. estimate is really an estimate of an estimate.

Measure[s] Of Effectiveness.

Ministry Of Economic Affairs. The Government of Taiwan has one as well as a Ministry of Finance.

Micro-Opto-Electro-Mechanical (systems).

Micro-Opto-Electro-Mechanical System[s]. More at the plain old MEMS entry.

Microstructured Optical Fiber.

Ministry Of Finance of Japan. Sort of like the Department of the Treasury, House Ways and Means Committee and the Federal Reserve Bank all rolled into one, and anyone with any fear of the electorate locked out.

Ministry Of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

Mohr's Stress Circle
An early form of group therapy invented by the German engineer Mohr in 1882, alright? I wonder if he's related to C. F. Mohr (1806-1879)?

Or maybe something to do with the Coulomb-Mohr Criterion (CMC)? Nah.

Bulk mechanical stress is described locally by a symmetric 3x3 tensor. (Pressure is the trace of this tensor, but you don't need to know that right now.) It is convenient to represent the six independent components of the stress tensor by a six-component vector. Stress is related, in the first place, to strain. (Remember: stress is a generalized force, strain is a generalized displacement.) For more on strain in the psychotherapeutic context, see the shoulds entry.

You know, one day I may get serious about this entry, but it will probably be too late for you.

Mohs's Hardness Scale
There is an empirical law that the ability to scratch is not symmetric. That is, if an edge or point of one material can make a scratch in the surface of another, then a point or edge of the second material cannot scratch the first. It is also true to a good approximation that given any two materials, one can scratch the other. (We will not examine the question of whether a material can scratch itself. If this is a problem for you, just use one of those long-handled things.) These rules should evidently apply best to homogeneous materials that are close to isotropic in their properties, so they don't have a ``softer'' side, but they have been applied with consistent success to crystalline materials.

To the extent that the above empirical rules hold, they imply the existence of a hierarchy or ordering of materials, from soft to hard. Friedrich Mohs invented a scale that numbers points along that ordering. Later the scale was ``extended.'' In the table below, we list some materials and their hardness numbers on the old and new scales.

Mohs Hardness Scales


Mohs Hardness

Extended-scale Hardness

Liquid 1
Talc 1
Gypsum 2 2
typical fingernail 2-3, nominally 2.5
Calcite 3 3
Fluorite 4 4
Apatite 5 5
typical stainless steel 5-6
Orthoclase Feldspar 6 6
ordinary glass ~<6.5
Ferric Oxide (``red rouge'') 6.5
Vitreous Fused Silica (noncrystalline) 7
Quartz (crystalline silica, SiO2) 7 8
Cerium Oxide 8
Topaz 8 9
Chromium Oxide (``green rouge'') 8.5
Garnet 8-9 10
Fused Zirconia 11
Fused Alumina (Al2O3) 12
Corundum (ruby, sapphire, Al2O3) 9
Fused Silicon Carbide (SiC, carborundum) 9.5
Silicon Carbide (SiC, carborundum) 13
Fused Boron Nitride (BN) (hexagonal) 9.7
Boron Nitride (BN) (hexagonal) 14
Cubic Boron Nitride (CBN) 9.9
Diamond 10 15

Eric offers a mnemonic. Another is ``The Geologist Can Find An Ordinary Quartz -- Tourists Call Diamond.'' Yet another is ``Terrible Giants Can Find Alligators Or Quaint Tigers Conveniently Digestible.'' I suppose you could mix-and-match: mnemonic, whatever they call that game.

Visit a nice gemcutting site. Alternatively, you could take a walk and check out Kingzett, Charles Thomas: Kingzett's Chemical Encyclopedia: a Digest of Chemistry & its Industrial Applications, ed. D. H. Hey and others (London: Baillière, Tindell and Cassell, 9/e 1966).

I should probably warn you ahead of time that this entry is just a pointless vent, and of no conceivable use to you.

The main computer cluster at FitzPatrick Hall has four rooms that were traditionally dedicated to Unix boxes. These were known as the philosophers', composers', artists', and writers' rooms, and the machines in the rooms have been named accordingly. Thus, starting from the northeast corner (in the philosophers' room -- the smallest) and going along the north wall, the first four machines were named aquinas, aristotle, augustine, and averroes. (Well, it's a Catholic school.) It was a sensible mnemonic scheme. The names weren't always written on the machines, but if you were on a nearby machine you could guess or remember its name from the hint of its relative location and from your own deeply integrated knowledge of the alphabet. This was convenient for networking and almost essential for reporting a sick machine.

One Summer some years ago, some officious geniuses came over from IT and replaced the old generation of workstations with a new one. They preserved all the old machine names in each room, but the exotic little subtlety of their being in alphabetical order was overlooked. After a few more years and another generation of machines, it occurred to someone to do something about the situation, or perhaps it just took that long to work its way through channels and so forth. I guess it would have been too much to hope that the names would be unscrambled. I suppose they reasoned that lugging and interchanging all those identical machines would be too difficult. (``Rename the machines,'' you say? I'm sure that requires a hardware upgrade.)

Instead, a work-study was detailed to go around and log in to each machine in turn and find out the machine name and to print out a label on a label printer, and apply said label to each machine in an appropriate way. This was a good and admirable thing, and could have been handy even in the good old days. A few days later he was detailed to do it again, but this time using labels that didn't peel off on their own. So for a while there, the improvements were coming fast on each others' heels.

There the situation has sat for a few years. Today I happened to walk into the composers' room and log in to a free machine. So here I am sitting between schubert and berlin (hey -- ``White Christmas''!) at a machine with the unfamiliar name of mohler. Pursuing my suspicion, I checked around and confirmed that in a room that has space to honor such relatively dim lights as Bernstein and Foster, there is no machine named in honor of Gustav Mahler. Now, I haven't been in here often enough to be sure, but it seems to me that there used to be a machine named mahler, and I think I know what happened to it.

So to summarize: first the machines had to receive labels because it was too hard to rename the machines, as if assigning aliases is something you only do once, like infant baptism. Then, when it was the turn of a new generation of machines to be baptized, the name of a famous composer was misread and became attached to one of the machines. Finally, when the last generation of machines was installed, the names on the printed labels took precedence over any electronic listing of machines. Progress marches on.

Main d'oeuvre immigrée. A French phrase meaning `immigrant manpower,' and the title of the immigrant section of the French Communist Party (PCF) in the 1930's and of the FTP after that was formed.

Mars Orbital Insertion. ``Men are from Mars.''

`Me' in French. Pronounced ``mwah.'' Yes, that does sort of suggest an unhealthily high degree of amour-propre.

In French, the predicate of the copula is universally accepted to be in the oblique case. That is, expressions parallel to ``it is I'' are not over-correct, they're just wrong. Hence Louis XIV's famous ``L'état c'est moi.'' (`The state [France] is me.')

Cocaine or heroine, according to this extensive list of drug slang. I thought it was marijuana. This could lead to some serious overdosing -- a bad trip, one-way to the morgue. No wonder they color-code the stuff.

There was a case in Georgia (GA) a number of years ago where a state trooper mistook a bag of oregano for marijuana.

Magic, or voodoo or hoodoo, and related specific meanings. See a more careful online definition from Merriam-Webster. A West African origin has been suggested in such words as Gullah moco. In Spanish, moco means `snot.' Like you really needed to know. In many Spanish-speaking countries, mocoso is slang for tike.

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999), the second juvenile movie in a series starring Mike Meyers, uses mojo to refer either to his libido or his attractiveness to women, or maybe that's the same thing, which Dr. Evil uses a time machine to go back to 1969 to steal from him, but which he somehow manages not to miss until recently.

A mojo is a charm worn on one's person (or, in mountain biking slang, affixed to one's bike).

In the Yardbirds song ``I Ain't Got You,'' a mojo and many other advantages are implicitly inefficacious in getting you.

MOo, Java-Oriented. A small collaboration working on a big project, apparently. There's a Mojo Developer's List.

Mother Jones, a muckraking magazine. (Also MJ.) Amusingly, their URL is http://www.mojones.com/. In Spanish, mojones means `wetters.' (Okay, http://www.motherjones.com/ works too, but it's not as amusing.) See also Mojon.

Spanish, `I wet.' Can be used reflexively, but me mojo means both `I get myself wet' and `I wet myself.' None of this has anything to do with Mrs. Thatcher's notion of a wet. She was known as the Iron Lady; she didn't want to get rusty.

(Me mojó means `[he, she, or it] got me wet.')

Of course, in all common dialects of Spanish, ``j'' has an aitch sound.

The family name of father and son chemists. Benito, the father (born 1732), was an apothecary at the college at Alcala before moving to Genoa. An apothecary is what we call a pharmacist today, and what in Britain is still widely called a chemist. There must be something to that; Benito Mojon became a professor of chemistry at the University of Genoa, and his son Giuseppe (1772 or 1773-1837) succeeded him. The son eventually rose to become president of the faculty there. Giuseppe Mojon was known for his experiments in ``medical electricity.'' He wrote a chemistry textbook that became a popular standard in its time and went through four editions.

This surname is very different from the word mojón, which means `[bed] wetter.'

Mojo Risin, Mr.
A lyric used mantra-like in a Doors song (``LA Woman''). An anagram of band leader Jim Morrison's name. This was absolutely not an allusion to any other sense of the word mojo. Rock music is completely free of irony, intentional or otherwise (see, for example, the deconstruction entry). I don't know how Mojo Nixon (vide Motorist) came by his moniker -- probably it's a tribute to President Nixon (RMN), who inspired a number of rock songs, such as David Bowie's Young Americans (1975). Who knows? I don't. Probably someone does. Move on.

Speaking of names -- Paul Revere, of Paul Revere and the Raiders, got his name on his original birth certificate. Paul Revere and the Raiders did a cover of ``Louie, Louie'' in 1963, around the same time, and in the same studio, as the Kingsmen did their cover. It became a monster hit on a slow fuse for the Kingsmen. They didn't know the lyrics exactly, so they winged it; some people started to suspect that it was subversive. Eventually, the Kingsmen testified before a Congressional committee. You wonder if a band named after a Revolutionary War hero would have come under suspicion in similar circumstances. Maybe. The FBI concluded that the Kingsmen's recording, played forwards or backwards at any speed, was incomprehensible.

The song was originally written and recorded by Richard Berry in 1956, and it was a local (i.e., Seattle area) favorite for a while. (This was back in the days when there was such a thing as regional programming.) The song is the story of a lovesick sailor telling his bartender (Louie) how much he misses his girlfriend back home. Home is Jamaica, whose exotic accent presumably justifies any strange-sounding words or word-like sounds. For more Jamaica-related linguistic lapses, see the Van Morrison material discussed under this Cleveland BROWNS item.

With some dramatic license, the 1978 National Lampoon movie Animal House was based on the experiences of Chris Miller, Dartmouth '62, at the outlaw frat Alpha Delta. One of the liberties taken was using the Kingsmen's version of this song, which wasn't released until 1963.

In 1998, the (surviving) Kingsmen won a major suit for unpaid royalties on the song since 1968. Actually, it was really only a moral victory; if you check out the details, I think they still got shafted. The band is still in business (their domain name is <louielouie.org>), though over the decades since they were founded (in 1959), there's been a lot of turnover (listed here). As of early 2008, they still have one of the original members, and one from 1963.

Richard Berry's band was called Richard Berry and the Pharaohs. More famous was Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, which had a hit in 1965 with ``Wooly Bully.'' They performed in turbans and bedsheets.

The ending theme song for the TV sitcom WKRP also has incomprehensible lyrics, because it was originally recorded as a warm-up ``scratch tape,'' and the singers are just singing gibberish. (More at the unofficial WKRP site.)

The Rolling Stones also had a song about Louie, but it was a different Louie.

Magneto-Optical Kerr Effect.

(Association for the) Mathematics Of Language. A SIG of the ACL.

(NASA's) Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter. It's an instrument on the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS).

Museum Of Latin American Art. ``[F]ounded by Dr. Robert Gumbiner in November 1996. It is the only museum in the Western United States that exclusively features contemporary Latin American art.''

MOLECular eLECTRONICS. Oh, clever. Ugly neologism perpetrated by DARPA types. It ought to be the apparatus for electrocuting (for their fur) small velvety-furred insectivorous burrowing mammals (family Talpidae) found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. (I didn't want this to be an entirely uninformative entry.)

Mole Day
The day (June 2, or some other day but at 6:02; February 6 in some places) that high-school chemistry classes explore the mysterious secrets of Avogadro and that thing on Cindy Crawford's cheek that prevents her from being attractive. In order to clarify the concept, high school chemistry teachers since the dawn of time have used nontraditional learning materials like songs. Here's one of the least unbearable (to the tune of `Happy Birthday'):

Happy Mole Day to you,
You live in a zoo.
Your mother's a rodent
Your father's one too.

At this site you can download a recording of the line ``Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberry!'' and other memorable clips from Monty Python And The Holy Grail. Smelt is a fish, but not in the previous sentence.

Y'know, I still lose sleep every night wondering if guinea pigs are really rodents or not. I wish they would settle this pressing question.

MOscow LINK. The contraction is an informal name for the (Washington-Moscow) Direct Communication Link. The famous ``Hot Line.''

For more information, see the Encyclopedia of Arms Control and Disarmament, ed. Richard Dean Burns (NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, Toronto: Maxwell Macmillan Canada, etc., 1993). Volume II has an article by Webster A. Stone, ``The Hot Line: Washington-Moscow Direct Communications Link, 1963 to the Present,'' pp. 847-853. The hot line agreements are excerpted in Vol. III.

Minority On-Line Information System.

molly, moly
Widespread slang for Molybdenum (Mo). Pronounced like the woman's nickname ``Molly.''

Minnesota Organization of Leaders in Nursing.

Moltke's Law
What can be misunderstood will be misunderstood. Soldiers' wisdom.


Motive, Opportunity and Means. The canonical order, with a certain logic, is ``motive, means, and opportunity.'' MOM is certainly a time-honored basis of crime investigation, but it is not a principle of law. At least, the prosecution is never required to offer, let alone demonstrate, a motive. On the other hand, the absence of a plausible motive normally weakens the prosecution case.

Museum Of Modern Art. In New York City. Also ``the Modern.'' Cf. MOBA.

Aw, momma, can this really be the end? To be stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again!

A thought just occurred to me that there is no conceivable appropriate place to insert. If this were the appropriate place, then I'd just go right ahead and comment that in a photograph showing him at a reception at the MOMA in November 2005, Prince Charles looked like Dagwood Bumstead.

MetalOrganic Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE using metalorganic sources). [Pronounced both as initials and as ``Mom-bee.''] Cf. Mamba.

Mint On Mint Card. Term of art among Pezheads. See relevant entry from the local copy of Chris Sharpe's unofficial PEZ FAQ. Cf. MIB, MOC.

A unit of time in medieval reckoning, equal to one fortieth of an hour. (I reckon that'd be ninety seconds.) Here, for your reading pleasure, are some examples of use from Byrhtferð's Enchiridion (at II. iii. 108 in the copy of the Ashmolean)
Nu gecyðað we þæt on þam dæge beoð nigon hund and syxtig momenta. Momentum ys gewyss stow þære sunnan on heofenum; þonne he byð feowertig siðon gegaderod, þonne gefylleð he ane tid, and he ys gecweden for þæra tungla hwætnysse momentum (þæt ys styrung).

The word did not survive Old English in this form, at least in old England; it became moment in Middle English, and sometime early in the seventeenth century that form ceased to refer to a precise interval. Also in that century the word momentum was reborrowed from Latin and used primarily in technical senses related to mathematics and physics. You could say momentum regained momentum then, but I wouldn't perpetrate such a vile pun.

The momentum or moment was also defined in medieval times (had to say that) as one tenth of a point, and the point as a quarter of an hour... usually. Sometimes the point was a fifth of an hour. A fifth of an hour would have been two minutes. The whole melange, according to the most common definitions:

1 hour = 4 points = 10 minutes = 15 degrees or parts = 40 moments

Notice that there were 360 degrees in a day. I hadn't realized that England got that hot.

Mo-Mo, mo-mo
MOnoamniotic MOnochorionic. The amnion and the chorion are, respectively, the innermost and outermost membranous sacs enclosing the embryo in higher vertebrates. (That includes mammals, reptiles, and birds, and I suppose dinosaurs as well -- what could be higher?) Pretty much by definition then, monoamniotic twins are mo-mo twins.

Fetuses that develop from separately fertilized eggs always have separate chorions (are dichorionic, in the case of twins). So fraternal and half-identical twins are never monochorionic, let alone monoamniotic. The incidence of monochorionic or monoamniotic twins depends on when the original single zygote splits. Generally, earlier is better. In about a third of identical-twin pregnancies, splitting occurs within the first 3 days following fertilization; in these cases the twins are usually dichorionic. In the majority of cases, splitting occurs between 4 and 8 days; at this stage, splitting produces monochorionic twins that are nevertheless diamniotic. That is, each fetus has its own amnion (more commonly called amniotic sac). If splitting occurs more than 8 days after fertilization, the twins typically share a single amnion (why should I be common?), and this is a bad thing for them, or at least for one of them. If splitting occurs after 12 days, then there is a high risk of conjoined twins.

Monoamniotic twins occur in less than one percent of identical-twin pregnancies. As twin ``diagnosis'' occurs increasingly early, and as the membrane normally separating two fetuses is hard to image early, there is an increasing number of needlessly worried expectant parents. <Monoamniotic.org> is a support group for parents diagnosed with monoamniotic twins and for parents of monoamniotic twins. Their experience is that 40% of couples who find their group eventually (sometimes as late as the 24th week of pregnancy) learn that they were misdiagnosed.

A Greek god (name more carefully transliterated as Mômos) whose name is related to the noun momphê, `blame, censure.' According to Hesiod, he was the son of Nyx (`Night'). Those Greeks had the whole spectrum of human and divine behaviors scoped out. Momos was the paradigmatic carping jerk, and stories about him typically ended in his being banished. He is better know today as ... no wait -- let me lie, and say he is better known by the Latin form of his name: Momus. (This was once apparently true, but I don't think he's well-known today by any ancient name.)

Multi-Owner Maintenance SPIDER. A ``web-roaming robot that specializes in the maintenance of distributed hypertext infostructures (i.e. wide-area webs). The program is written in Perl and, once customized for your site, should work on any Unix-based system with Perl 4.036.''

MObile MUltimedia Communication. Abbreviation also used for an international workshop.

See Momos.

Monoceros. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation.

MONongahela. A river that runs north and joins the Allegheny River to form the Ohio River at Pittsburgh. [It had been my understanding, evidently incorrect, that rivers were named like alkanes, with the longest possible extension (of water, in this case) having a common name and the branches off of this having their separate names (presumably named according to the same principle). That's the reason that the Mississippi-Missouri is said to be misnamed, and that the length of ``the Nile'' is the distance along the Nile and the White Nile combined. In fact, the Iroquois regarded the Allegheny and Ohio as one river.]

The Monogahela is often described as flowing ``due north.'' This is sort of true if you smooth out meanders on a scale of ten miles. The small city of Donora occupies an oxbow of the Monongahela about 18 or 19 miles south of Pittsburgh. On Halloween 1948 (and on the preceding day, which happens to be widely known as mischief night), one of the worst disasters ever caused by industrial air pollution in the US took place in Donora.

Motor Octane Number.

A mountain or high hill in the middle of otherwise generally level terrain. The word looks like it ought have something to do with the Greek root mono- (for `one'), but it doesn't. The word is an antonomasia of Mount Monadnock, a mountain located mostly within the town of Jaffrey, in southwestern New Hampshire. The name of that mountain is of American Indian origin.

In chapter CXXXV (``The Chase -- Third Day'') of Moby Dick, Herman Melville wrote

At length as the craft was cast to one side, and ran ranging along with the White Whale's flank, he seemed strangely oblivious of its advance---as the whale sometimes will---and Ahab was fairly within the smoky mountain mist, which, thrown off from the whale's spout, curled round his great, Monadnock hump; he was even thus close to him; when, with body arched back, and both arms lengthwise high-lifted to the poise, he darted his fierce iron, and his far fiercer curse into the hated whale.

From this sentence, or a bit of it, or from the Mount Monadnock link above, you might infer that Mount Monadnock does not rise very abruptly. This is in fact correct, so the mountain is popular for hiking rather than mountain-climbing. Among the hikers who have climbed it are Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Rudyard Kipling. In 1845 Emerson wrote a very long rhyme about it entitled ``Monadnoc.'' Here's a typical example of that dross:

Monadnoc is a mountain strong,
Tall and good my kind among;
But well I know, no mountain can,
Zion or Meru, measure with man.

I wish I could add something here about Leibniz.

A synonym of monadnock is inselberg, which is a German compound meaning `island mountain.' In German the word is spelled with a capital I, not because it's a proper noun but because it's a noun.

Monday Holidays
I'm not sure exactly when the practice began, but I guess it was a Monday.

A misheard lyric. The term was coined by Sylvia Wright in a November 1954 Harper's Magazine article (that'd be vol. 209, no. 1254, pp. 48-51) entitled ``The Death of Lady Mondegreen.'' She explained that when she was a child, her mother would read to her from Percy's Reliques, and one of her favorite poems was the one she remembered beginning
Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands
Or, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl Amurray,
And Lady Mondegreen.
This was, as she learned years later, the Scottish ballad ``The Bonny Earl of Murray'' and the last line is supposed to go
and laid 'im on the green.

Rock music has been a great boon for mondegreens, but religious and patriotic stuff taught to children is a great traditional source. In the 90's, the San Francisco Chronicle's Jon Carroll devoted a score of his Daily Datebook columns to mondegreens (first mondegreen column: April 23, 1990, p. F10).

We have some mondegreen examples at the beginnings of the enema entry (with a link to a misheard-lyrics archive for Van Halen songs) and the deconstruction entry. For more mondegreens, see ``The Ants Are My Friends,'' ``Mind the greens!'' and the misheard lyrics archives <kissthisguy.com>, and Am I Right.

A search on the web will turn up a couple of widely repeated improbabilities.

  1. Claim: Sylvia Wright published an article on mondegreens in the Atlantic Monthly, in 1954 or in the 1950's.

    Test: I personally checked the author indices of all the bound volumes of Atlantic Monthly for the years 1941 to 1966. I found only one article under the name Sylvia Wright, entitled ``Chowder Is Out!'' It was published in the November 1957 Atlantic, pp. 255-256. It is an extended protest against The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, by Fannie Merritt Farmer. This seems to have been a life-long obsession of hers (vide infra).

    The Atlantic and Harper's are similar magazines, easily confused. I imagine that someone remembered that Wright's article appeared in 1954 but misremembered the journal, and that this error was the origin of the claim. Afterwards, the error was propagated faithfully by the internet. Indeed, this very august glossary that you are reading was one of the mistaken propagaters of this claim until early June 2001.

  2. Claim: Sylvia Wright published two or more articles on mondegreens in the 1950's.

    Test: I personally checked the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature for January 1929 to February 1981 (vols. 8-40). (I skipped the book review listings when they began to be a separate section; I ignored Sylvia Hart Wright, a writer on architectural and civil engineering matters.) The first publication listed under the name Sylvia Wright was a piece that appeared in Harper's Magazine in December 1952 (pp. 29-32), ``Get Away From Me With Those Christmas Gifts.'' That piece was excerpted in Vogue (June 1956, pp. 84-5). The last item I found was in the March 1975 Harper's, a letter on pp. 6-7, in the ``Wraparound.'' In that letter she recalls that many years previous she had published in Harper's an article called ``How to Make Chicken Liver Pâté Once.'' She mentions Fannie Farmer's cookbook. A note after the letter says

    Sylvia Wright is now at work on a book about the island of Chios.

    It's possible she published on mondegreens in a magazine not indexed by the Reader's Guide, though I doubt it.

For more investigative etymological reporting, see the Pakistan entry.

Monegasque, Monegasquan
Of, from, or pertaining to Monaco. It's surprising that it hasn't come to mean ``pertaining to bed-hopping Eurotrash.''

MObile interNET for military application.

Monist, The
An International Quarterly Journal of General Philosophical Inquiry.

Spanish, `monkey.' The etymologies of both the English and the Spanish word are uncertain, though they are regarded as probably cognate.

Monoaural or monophonic: sound information stored or transmitted in a single channel, as opposed to stereo.

The traditional meaning of monaural is ``one ear'' (as an attributive noun -- adjective -- only). The traditional meaning of monophonic is ``one melodic line'' (adj.).

MONOnucleosis. Called the ``kissing disease'' because of the folkloric belief that it is transmitted that way. The folkloric belief is correct. (Any saliva transfer will do, on toys for example. Blood transfusion can also do it.) Knocks you out with weariness for up to a month, but YMMV. Great disease to make you feel worthless. A couple of days after the prodromic period of malaise and fatigue, the fever begins. Various things distend: ``glands'' (lymph nodes), tonsils and pharynx, spleen (~50% incidence).

Mono is caused by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) after an incubation period of 15-50 days. Most people have been infected by the time they're 40, but only a minority develop the disease. It's thought of as a disease of young adults because the symptoms in infants and children are milder. In any case the diagnosis is difficult, so mild cases can be mistaken for a common cold. If you're planning to get sick, don't just jump into any disease. You should at least consider coming down with an outer-ear infection.

One-eyed. You can't imagine what a triumph it is to discover this word. Speakers of Spanish who regularly use English frequently ask each other what the English word for tuerto is. Now I have two terms that don't quite fit the bill, instead of one.

Tuerto is the Spanish word with the meaning `able to see with one eye only.' That is, either blind in one eye or with one of two eyes put out. It's not exactly the same thing as one-eyed, since a Cyclops is one-eyed but not tuerto. Apart from the semantic misalignment however, another difference is that tuerto is an honest-to-God word and a perfectly common one, whereas one-eyed is a compound, forever consigned to the indignity of a hyphen by the silent e of one.

A topless bathing suit introduced by designer Rudi Gernreich in 1964. The name uses the Greek prefix mono- (`single, one') in a play on the word bikini (in which bi sounds like, though it is not, the Latin prefix for `double, two').

Having one tongue. That is, capable of being deceived by forked tongues speaking in only one tongue.

P.J. O'Rourke seems to agree with this view. In an article (``My E.U. Vacation: What I learned reading the European constitution on a French beach in the Caribbean'') that appeared in the Weekly Standard (June 3, 2005), he wrote

Actually, I claim that there's a tremendous journalistic advantage to covering politics when you can't speak the language. You aren't misled into reporting what people say; you're forced to report the inexorable truth of what people do.

In the New York Times Magazine for December 1, 1996, accompanying an interview of 1996 Literature Nobelist Wislawa Szymborska, is the first appearance in English translation of

The Three Oddest Words (1996)
When I pronounce the word Future,
the first syllable already belongs to the past.

When I pronounce the word Silence,
I destroy it.

When I pronounce the word Nothing,
I make something no nonbeing can hold.

Heterologicality is a linguistic phenomenon. Critical acclaim is a social phenomenon.

Monroney sticker
See AIDA. Heck, vide Aïda as well.

Monte Video
Sorry. Perhaps you were thinking of Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay (.uy).

Montezuma's revenge
Really stuck it to the Habsburgs. Maximillian, younger brother of Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz Josef, reigned as Emperor of Mexico from 1864 until 1867, when he was executed by a firing squad in Mexico. Franz Josef's other brother, Archduke Karl Ludwig, died in 1896 from some illness contracted from bad water he drank while on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. For more on the travails of Franz Josef, see the nomen-est-omen subentry for Gavrilo Princip.

Miami MOO.

MUD, Object-Oriented. Name is applied both to a programming language for creating MUD's (that is, for creating a game of rooms, exits, objects, etc.) and to the resulting game itself. MOO's allow for real-time conferencing in an environment in which you can move around, manipulate objects, and communicate with other users in various ways.

For an example, visit the VRoma MOO (you can log in immediately as a guest), part of the VRoma educational project, or MiamiMOO.

Massive Open Online Course.

Clement Clarke Moore was a prominent Protestant theologian in the early nineteenth century, a rich farmer in midtown Manhattan, and author of the leading Hebrew dictionary of his day.

In 1822, he turned his writing skills to a short poem for the information of his children. In this work, entitled ``A Visit From Saint Nicholas,'' Moore established most of the few facts we know with any accuracy about this annual phenomenon. For example, he fixed the date of the visit as the eve of Christmas, rather than Dec. 5, the eve of Saint Nicholas's Day. His 28 rhyming couplets, the first beginning

'Twas the night before Christmas
did not include footnotes, but his report has generally been regarded as authoritative.

It must have achieved a samizdat vogue; it was already considered a classic in 1860, when the report was reprinted in the journal Harper's Weekly, with new graphics by the journalist Thomas Nast. Thomas Nast is best known today for his zoological work, preparing illustrations of Equus asinus Democraticus and Elephas Republicanus (g.o.p.) beginning in 1874. It was Nast who established that Saint Nicholas was pathologically obese, but the chimney-passage question was not immediately reexamined. Nevertheless, it may be noted that only a few decades later, tunneling by bare and dressed particles became a widely accepted violation of classical physical law.

I haven't had a chance to update the entry (I don't have Santa's superluminal freight sled; I'm slow), but I figured I ought to at least mention this: In October 2000, Vassar English professor Don Foster brought forward substantial evidence that Moore was a plagiarist: that he fraudulently claimed authorship of this poem, and that it was probably the work of Henry Livingstone.

Moore's Law
The observation by Gordon E. Moore, in 1964, that the number of transistors on a chip was increasing by a factor of two per year. He made this observation only six years after the first integrated circuits were produced. (In 1968, Moore cofounded Intel with the late Bob Noyce.) Since the late 1970's, the doubling time has been about 18 mos.

A number of similar exponential processes (such as size of largest known prime) may be regarded as consequences.

Any similar law of exponential improvement in semiconductor engineering is also often called a Moore's Law. (See, however, Grove's Law.) Recently, Moore pronounced a second law: that every generation of microprocessor requires a fab (fabrication facility) that costs twice as much as the previous. As of 1996, a new fab cost around a billion US$. Cf. Joy's Law and Rent's Rule.

Major Object-Oriented SQL Extensions.

MOOTW, mootw
Military Operations Other Than War.

Massive Ordnance Penetrator. In profile, it looks like a wood nail with winglets, but it's larger. It weighs 13,600 kilos and can destroy 25% of its targets in bunkers buried beneath 60 meters of reinforced concrete, a depth greater than any other bomb of its type.

Measure[s] Of Performance.

Ministry Of Planning. On second thought, make that the ``Ministry of Planning and Development.'' Uh... have we gone to press yet? No? Okay then, make that ``Ministry of Planning, Development, Environment & Housing.''

Your own natural hair, and plenty of it. A rug is not your own natural hair, and plenty of it. You don't apply a rug to a mop, any more than you apply a mop to a rug.

Hamburger Morgenpost.

Middle Of the Road. In music: moderate, inoffensive, anodyne.

Museum Of Reconstructions. Three-dee reconstructions by computer, raytrace images.

Mordecai Richler
Unanswerable questions still surface at parties.
    ``What kind of novels do you write?''
    Legendary. Seminal. Filthy.
    ``Should I know your name?''
    To which I usually reply, eyes modestly lowered, ``Not necessarily,'' but riding sufficient scotch, I become equally capable of a bellicose ``Yes, if you're literate,'' after which my wife usually points out it is time to go home.

I'm not sure what conclusion one is supposed to draw from this, the beginning of Broadsides (1990), but I figured I'd put the entry in just in case. (There might be an exemption if you happen not to be Canadian.)

Richler (1931-2001) was at first probably best known for The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, which is basically Portnoy's Complaint without the masturbation. (And with no mother instead of a domineering one. Well, maybe it's not a very accurate description, but it sounds cool to say.) Eventually Richler became more of a celebrity writer, known for nothing in particular except being a moderately well-known author. He wrote some other novels, but really, who's got the time? He wrote amusing essays and magazine pieces, and these were repackaged as tomes from time to time. You know how Gary worries that anything he says in my hearing may be used against him in the glossary? (Sure you do -- I mentioned it back at the conversation entry. BTW, Gary is an actual real person, but there's no point in worrying -- I can invent.) Well, Richler was that kind of writer to be wary of.

more honored in the breach
This phrase is used to mean that a law, rule, vel sim. is widely ignored. What is really widely ignored, however, is the original meaning of the phrase. The original phrase, as uttered by the character of Hamlet, meant that the laws in question (imposed by his uncle and stepfather the King) were such that there was greater honor in disobeying than obeying them.

more honored in the breech
This phrase is used to mean that a law, rule, vel sim. is widely ignored. However, it's a misspelling of more honored in the breach (q.v.). As written, ``more honored in the breech'' means `highly respected in the buttocks,' or callipygian. Okay, okay, that's not exactly equivalent -- callipygian means `having beautiful [beautifully proportioned] buttocks.' [column] It comes from the Ancient Greek word kallipugos having the same meaning -- pugê meant buttocks, and kalli- was a productive root meaning beautiful. A very productive root. Among attested uses were words for having or being beautiful(ly)

Watch this space! More to come, someday.

more honored in the breeches
Garnering higher respect in lower clothing.

more in sorrow than in anger
More in hypocritical opportunism than anything else.

more ... when compared with
I heard this expression today in an advertisement: ``Acme's, [let's say] fertilizer grows more [grass] when compared with competitors' products.'' This is precisely the kind of expression that makes one think ``manure!'' Yet it is also common in student papers. In both cases there is usually some evidence that the author has a minimal command of English, um, at least. This is relevant because it implies that the author is aware of the more-than construction.

So clearly, ``Acme grows more grass than'' (vel sim.) is not the intended meaning, and is probably false. In fact, Acme is probably the worst. (If it weren't, they'd compare it to the worst product and say ``comparison studies with a popular alternative [spotted hyena chips] show Acme grows grass faster than the competition.'') When one considers, however, that comparison cannot take place without observation, the meaning becomes clear to anyone familiar with quantum physics or child psychology: the ``more'' outcome depends not only on the conditions of observation, but on the very fact of observation. It's a Copenhagen construction. If Acme fertilizer is placed in competition with an alternative manure, the grass will grow -- or at least a measurement of its height will appear to show that it grows -- faster. Not faster than the competition, just faster than it would without competition -- if it weren't being observed. You could deny that, but you could never prove you were right. If you want to maximize the effect, you should intensify the competition -- add motivation, so to speak -- by using the competing product directly in the soil where you are testing Acme. Boy, will you be impressed!

Morgenlande, Morgenländer
German, literally `morning lands,' an obsolete German term for the obsolescent English term `the Orient' in the latter term's former (i.e., obsolete) sense. Confused? See the AbhKM entry for more confusion!

Wilhelm II, the last Kaiser of Germany (abdicated 1918), held a high opinion of his own opinion, and liked to give avuncular advice to his cousin Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia (executed in secrecy 1918). In 1895, astonished by the Japanese victory over China, Kaiser Willi began to warn his cousin and Europe of the rising power of the Rising Sun. He coined the term Gelbe Gefahr, `Yellow Peril,' to describe the threat (he had a cartoon executed to illustrate his brainstorm).

Japan's victory was over another Asian country -- far larger, of course, but known from recent European and American experience to be militarily backward. With the prevalent racist and cultural prejudices of the West, the Sino-Japanese events were ignored, and the Orient continued to be thought of as backward and as no military match for any Western power. Few realized the extent of Japan's rapid industrialization after the Meiji Restoration. The Japanese victory over Russia in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5) thus came as a shock to Europe.

Not currently discussed anywhere else in this glossary: Abendland, which means ... oh wait -- I figured out where it's discussed!

A newspaper's archive of published stories.

A common Japanese surname. It's equivalent to English names like Forest, Grove, and Woods.

Latin word meaning `of death.'

Market & Opinion Research International. On February 19, 2002, they released a survey indicating that ``The Public's Trust In Doctors Rises.''

Metal-Organic Reactive Ion Etching.

Here's a pitifully brief bibliography.

MORI International
Market & Opinion Research International International. An international group of formal partners of MORI in over 30 different countries. While the expansion of MORI appears only fleetingly on the home website of UK-based MORI, those of its Latin American affiliates that have MORI in their name are careful to make clear that this is an English acronym, featuring the expansion prominently on their welcome pages. In Spanish, morí means `I died.' (In the vos conjugation used in Argentina and Central America, it also means `[I command you to] die.') A widespread practice in Spanish (though not the official Real Academia standard) is to omit accents on capital letters.

Look, what I'm trying to say here is that MORI was a poorly researched choice of name, evidently selected when the company already regarded itself as international. Making an AAP out of it does not help.

Moroney sticker, Moroni sticker
See AIDA for enlightenment.

A crutch for actors who are not Zero Mostel in Ionesco's ``Rhinoceros.''

These days, according to my email, I'm qualifying for another new mortgage every four to six hours. Imagine the tax benefits!

``These days,'' when I first wrote the entry, were just after the turn of the century. This glossary has some substantive information on mortgages at other entries. Serious glossary entries for serious times. You can tour these entries starting at the ARM entry.

The lender, the issuer of a mortgage. Cf. mortgagor.

The borrower, the party that ``takes out'' a mortgage. Cf. mortgagee.

Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor. Designates a technology that is based on a miracle of silicon: its oxide is a good insulator (only a fair dielectric) and is extremely stable protection for silicon. Both the semiconductor that silicon replaced (germanium) and the one that has been trying to replace it for years (gallium arsenide) lack such a good ``native oxide.''

A MOS transistor (MOST) is a kind of IGFET. Both IGFET and MOST are relatively rare terms, and one hears ``an MOS'' used for an MOST. This is equivocal in principle, because there are also MOS capacitors. If this bothers you, use MOSFET.

Mit Out Sound. Legend has it that this is what talkies director Erich von Stroheim said instead of ``without sound'' (i.e., the instruction to film a take without recording sound). The idea, of course, was that he couldn't pronounce the English w and that he recognized with as the English corresponding to German mit. (The resemblance is coincidental, as with is cognate with the German word wider, and not mit. The sense development has been quite a ride.) I don't know anything relevant about von Stroheim, so I'll just use the entry as an opportunity to take off on tangents.

German-speakers with poor English typically, or at least stereotypically, pronounce the English w semivowel as a German w consonant (i.e., like English v) and are understood. In the case of various cognates (world/Welt, west/West, wish/Wünsch, word/Wort, war/Wehr, was/war, water/wasser, etc.) this has the pleasant feature of familiarity for the German-speaker, although in many cases semantic evolution has yielded faux amis (e.g., ``I will'' is cognate with ich will, but the latter still has a meaning close to `I intend to').

English is unusual among Western European languages. I can stop right there and it's a true enough sentence, but what I intended to say was that it's unusual in respect of having words for with and without that are closely related. Compare Germanic languages like German (mit/ohne) and Swedish (med/utan) or Romance languages: com/sem, con/sin, avec/sans, and con/senza, for examples, in Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Italian, resp. With the Romance examples, you get the impression that maybe there was some earlier language that these languages have as a common source of their similar words.

The first graphical browser for HTML documents. It made the New York Times on December 8, 1993. Originally developed by Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina at NCSA. Andreessen created the NCSA Mosaic research prototype when he was an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC, where NCSA is located). When he went commercial, he tried to cut UIUC in on the action, but the mind-set in those days was such that the university would have nothing to do with it. Andreessen and five other former students and staff of the university formed what became the Netscape Corporation. UIUC now actively seeks to commercialize the results of university research.

[Image: MOS-C schematic]

MOS Capacitor. Pronounced both as initials and as ``moss-cap'' (see next).

MOS CAPacitor. (Pronounced ``moss-cap.'') An MOS capacitor is an area of silicon covered by a uniform oxide layer, with a conducting surface above. The conductor on top was originally some elemental metal or metal alloy, but it was soon replaced by heavily-doped polysilicon. In a pinch, any depletion-mode MOSFET is a MOSCAP. The two leads of the ersatz capacitor are the gate contact and either the source or drain contact. (Leave one of the latter, S or D, disconnected, or else short source and drain.)

MOS capacitors have asymmetric Q-V characteristics -- i.e., they have bias-dependent capacitance. In fact, for one sign of applied voltage they have voltage-dependent capacitance. The asymmetry does not arise simply because the two ``capacitor plates'' are of different material. A mica capacitor with different-size plates made of different metals has a Q-V characteristic that is symmetric (and substantially linear, so the capacitance C is a constant). The problem is that doped semiconductor is in some respects not a very good metal.

In order to have a small inter-plate spacing (and hence a decently high capacitance) the silicon must be doped. For purposes of illustration, let's say it's doped N: a high density of electron donor impurities like arsenic (As) or phosphorus (with the unfortunately confusing atomic symbol P). At absolute zero temperature, these donors create un-ionized (i.e. filled) ``donor levels'' at energies just below the conduction band (CB). This means that charge neutrality puts the Fermi energy (the electrochemical potential) close to the CB. At room temperature, most of the donors are ionized and charge neutrality is maintained by electrons that can be thought of as promoted from the donors to the CB. (It's an entropy effect: even though the donors have slightly lower energy, there are many more states in the conduction band. The characteristic energy scale over which this effect can manifest is kBT, 0.026 eV at room temperature.)

Anyway, getting back to the MOS-C... For simplicity we'll let the ``metal'' in the gate be a (theoretically unproblematic) elemental metal. If a positive voltage is applied to the silicon side of the capacitor, that side of the capacitor charges up with electrons. These electrons pile up against the insulating oxide that separates the capacitor plates. (Yeah, yeah, there are some quantum effects; the electrons don't pile on like geometric points on a geometrically thin oxide plane.) This polarity gives the highest possible capacitance for the given capacitor geometry. If the polarity is reversed -- negative voltage on the silicon side -- then the silicon takes a positive charge. This positive charge is initially produced by depletion of electrons. That is, the electrons in the conduction band move away from the oxide, and the remaining positively-ionized donors yield a net positive charge at the plate. However, the donor ions are not mobile. In order for the positive charge to increase, the silicon must be depleted further into the bulk away from the oxide. Thus, as the voltage increases, the effective plate spacing increases, and the capacitance decreases.

Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico. Italian, `experimental electromechanical module.' Given the expansion of the acronym, it appears the acronym originally refered to an individual floodgate at an earlier stage in the project development, but MOSE is now used as the name for a larger project. Given the uncertainties, however, it is still fair to call the entire project sperimentale. The project is intended to protect Venice from drowning. The city is built on a hundred mostly small islands (118, but who's counting?) that lie in a lagoon, and has been subsiding for hundreds of years. Historically, when a building had subsided too far for habitation or was at risk of collapse, it was knocked down and a higher structure was built in its place. That is no longer considered an option. Between the 1930's and the 1970's, the problem was exacerbated as water was pumped from aquifers underlying the city. Now was that bright or what?

In the past 100 years, the effective sea level has risen 23 cm. Currently, despite the end of pumping, it is estimated to be rising at 0.5 mm per year. The future magnitude of the problem is subject to many uncertainties, among them the magnitude of sea-level rise expected to be caused by global warming. Estimates are typically in the range of 20-100 cm by 2050.

The MOSE plan is to install 79 gates (I've also read 78), distributed at the three inlets to the lagoon that Venice lies in. The hollow gates will ``normally'' be filled with water, and hinged on the seabed, they will lie flat along the bottom. When floods threaten, air is to be pumped in, so the gates lighten and float into vertical position, protecting the city. The project will be expensive, but fortunately Italy is situated on Euroland, so it will only cost an estimated 3.5 billion euros (mere American billions). Just a few years ago, it would have cost trillions of lire. Construction began in May 2003; completion is scheduled for 2011.

Despite the reduced price, the project is controversial. It is feared that frequent closings will disturb the ecosystem in various ways. Also, it seems that a lot of the ecosystem must consist of bacteria and the less fastidious sort of fish, processing Venice's sewage, much of which is still untreated. (The large fraction of Italian sewage that is not treated, and the resulting ecological problems for the Mediterranean, have been a continuing bone of contention between Italy and the rest of the EU, except for countries like Greece that want to keep their head down because they figure they're next.) Nobody seems concerned that flooding of a subsided Venice might disturb the ecosystem.

Ecosystem in ``balance.'' Please do not disturb. Don't touch anything.

Estimates of how long MOSE will be effective vary. Supporters offer estimates of 100 years, opponents say no more than 50. I haven't seen any discussion of future retrofit ideas. The one alternative seems to be locally raising the land level underneath existing structures, starting with the lowest-lying, most immediately threatened areas. This is already being done, apparently by private owners.

One solution that is not piecemeal is to pump seawater into a broad 600-to-800-meter deep aquifer underlying the area. (A deeper aquifer is preferred in part because it should lead to a more even rise at the surface. The layer considered also has convenient clay layers. I am not completely certain why refilling the aquifers previously pumped for fresh water is not considered a good option; it seems that uncertainty about uneven uplift is the main concern.) The aquifer idea is being studied and promoted (yes, the usual engineering conflict of interest) by a group at the University of Padua as a supplement, not an alternative, to the MOSE project. Numerical modeling by Giuseppe Gambolati of U. Padua predicts a 30-cm rise produced within a circle 5 km in radius around Venice, produced by injection of 18 million cubic meters of water through a ring of twelve vertical wells along the circumference. For further information on the various projects and proposals, see the pages of CORILA.

The Republic of Venice was once a great empire, contending with the Ottoman empire for control of the Aegean, and medieval Venice had a population of a quarter million. They invented the practice of keeping regular ambassadors in foreign countries -- sort of the diplomatic equivalent of a standing army. (Venice was probably also the first place to enforce segregation of Jews in a ghetto. Oh well-- win some, lose some.) The inconvenience of frequent inundation has been cited as a cause of population decline in recent decades (though it's claimed tourism has not declined). The resident population has subsided to 60,000.

Venezuela was named after Venice (the former word is a diminutive form of the latter). Alonso de Ojeda gave the area this name after coming upon native American stilted houses built over Lake Maracaibo. (It is a lake, so sea-level rise is not a direct concern.)

Subsidence under ancient buildings seems to be a characteristic Italian problem, but we don't have a entry for the leaning tower of Pisa yet.

Your practical take-away from this entry is this: don't visit Venice in the off season. St. Mark's Square, one of the city's lowest points, used to flood about ten times a year back around 1900; now it's flooding about 60 times each Winter. I guess low tide makes it possible to number the floods. Here's good news: if it gets much worse, St. Marks will be flooded only one time all Winter.

Self-assigned nickname of the Museum Of SEX, which opened in NYC in 2002. Admission is $17. That's pretty stiff, and it gives a whole new meaning to the expression ``RU/18.'' Many of the early museumgoers have felt screwed, but they don't mean that in a nice way. Or they don't mean that in a nasty way, or, well, I think you get the picture. There's a serious question whether this contribution to culture will survive very long. If it does, it may someday be able to charge $68 or $70.

Zager and Evans had a number-one hit in 1970 with ``In The Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus).'' They consider ``...the year 2525 / If man is still alive / If woman can survive / They may find....'' They speculate that ``in the year 6565 / Ain't gonna need no husband, won't need no wife / You'll pick your son, pick your daughter too / From the bottom of a long glass tube, wo-oo-wo.''

Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (MOS) Field-Effect Transistor (FET). [Pronounced to rhyme with ``moss let.''] Often ``MOSFET transistor.''

MOS Implementation System.

MOS Transistor.

most average
The last time I checked, we didn't have a ``most average'' entry, so if you wanted any information about ``most average,'' you were well advised (or would have been) to go to the typical entry.

Most of my friends describe me as
  1. The same dozen keywords every time!
  2. Having a good sense of humor, but not, you know, ``funny'' in that other sense.
  3. The traits I think will attract the kind of person I'm looking for are. Personalsese.

Modern name of the city called Nineveh in the Bible. Okay: Nineveh was on the eastern bank of the Tigris; Mosul is on the opposite side. The modern Iraqi province (or ``governate'') of which Mosul is the capital is called Ninawa.

Under the Ottoman Empire, Mesopotamia (al-Iraq in Arabic) was governed as a federation of three provinces centered on their main cities. The province of Mosul in the north was mostly Kurdish. The other two cities were Baghdad (Arab Sunni, rather than Kurdish Sunni) and Basra (Arab Shi'ite). After WWI and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the British imposed a highly centralized government, a constitutional monarchy modeled on their own.

Magneto-Optical Trap. An older name for the same thing is ZOT

Ministry Of Transport. Britain has one.

Member Of The Appropriate Sex.

Management Of Technological Innovation. An NSF program.

Message-Oriented Text Interchange System. The ISO email definition. See X.400.

mot juste
French meaning `precisely appropriate word.'


A portable and usually self-propelled weight used to apply force in gouging blacktop. (Force is applied through a gouging tool called a ``kicks stand.'')

According to the song, motor-sickle and motor-sigh are acceptable also.

Adherent or adept of Motorism. Holy site: Carhenge. Most sacred liturgy:

The Motorist's Psalm

I don't care if it rains or freezes --
'long as I got my plastic Jesus
sittin' on the dashboard of my car.

I can do a hundred miles an hour!
Long as I got the almighty power,
Way up there with my pair of fuzzy dice.

Accept no substitutes. Mojo Nixon and others have promulgated heretical versions, to say nothing of exegeses. Don Imus apparently used to sign on with riding instead of sittin'; that might be a translation problem. For other liturgy, visit the drop kick entry.

Visit. This industry moves so fast, this morning's news is really just yesterday's history, so what am I gonna tell you?

motor unit
The muscle fibers controlled by an individual nerve (between about ten fibers -- a motor unit for the eyeball -- and hundreds of fibers -- as for example in the abs). The fibers in a single motor unit are either all slow twitch or all fast twitch, because that is determined by the kind of nerve stimulation they get. Animal experiments have shown that reconnecting a nerve that controlled slow-twitch muscles to replace one that controlled an initially fast-twitch motor unit causes the fibers to adapt: more enzymes for metabolizing fat appear, blood vessel (capillary) density increases, and eventually glycogen stores and the enzymes needed to process them both decline, and cell wall composition changes.

motor vehicle
A mechanism for heating brakes. The most efficient vehicles are those that transfer the largest fraction of generated mechanical energy to the brakes as heat.

George Westinghouse made his first fortune from the design of air brakes for trains. He used that fortune to commercialize an AC power system ultimately based on Tesla's designs. A financial panic ruined him in 1907.

Member Of The Opposite Sex.

In a television ad that ran, oh, I don't know, probably in the eighties, selling photographic film or something, an excruciatingly cute little girl asks her older brother, ``Am I the opposite sex, or are you''?

It would be in poor taste if I were to comment ``out of the mouths of babes.''

Member Of The Same Sex. There's a hypertext faq associated with the soc.motss newsgroup.

Memorand{um|a} Of Understanding. There's also Joint MOU (JMOU).

Remember, you can't spell mourn without urn. Yeah, that's about as deep as the insights get around here. Cf. funeral.

Microsoft-Office (tm) User Specialist. ``The premier Microsoft desktop certification.'' Cf. MCLS.

mouth of the South, The
Ted Turner. Created CNN and a variety of other cable channels.

Ted Turner was an undergraduate at Brown University. (That's the ``Harvard of Rhode Island,'' although nobody calls it that. If this comment sounds stupid, you should read the the Harvard-of-the-South entry. Then the comment will still sound stupid, but you'll be better informed. A lot of his business ventures were based in Atlanta. Atlanta has more Harvards of the South than any other city anywhere.) Ted Turner was expelled from Brown in 1960 for violating some rule. It had something to do with having a female friend in his dorm room. In 1990, Brown awarded him an undergraduate degree after all.

MOV, mov
Metal-Oxide Varistor.

MOV, mov
MOVe. A common mnemonic in assembly languages.

A movie is a sock-puppet show with a more elaborate set. This requires roles to be performed by entire persons rather than single hands, which diminishes the expressiveness of the actors.

The greatest movies of the color era are roloc. No, not really, but I wanted to keep the palindrome going. Actually, the greatest movies of the color era are the following:

  1. Animal House. It's a love story. Over the course of the movie, as various subsidiary love stories evolve, John Blutarsky (John Belushi's first romantic lead) shows repeatedly that he is devoted to Mandy Pepperidge (played by Mary Louise Weller) and only to her. Mandy is model-beautiful (this is literally true of the actress), and is in an unsatisfying relationship. She is oblivious to ``Bluto,'' even when he is very close in front of her (and also usually, and symbolically, below her); he belongs to a group of social outcasts. Although Bluto has leadership skills that will eventually propel him to the Senate and (according to the Double Secret Probation release of 2003) the US Presidency, he is reduced to puerile stunts in her presence. Events conspire, however... Ironically, Mandy's best friend's selfish betrayal helps Mandy toward her destiny. I don't want to give too much away, but the two lovers are happily united in the end. Because the love story has a happy ending (in contrast with ``The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet,'' say, which also has some funny bits) it is classed as a ``comedy.'' It's also an homage to courtly love.
  2. The Ballad of Narayama. It's a comedy about euthanasia, and it's about youth in Asia! But most of the gags are not puns, which wouldn't translate very well between Japanese and other languages. (See, though, mama-haha.) Instead, they have to do with things we can all relate to like sex, very bad body odor, tooth decay, and burying alive a family that hunger has reduced to potato-robbing.

I'm sure you'll want to read our insight into other movies.

Go to Now Showing to see what's showing in your area (unless your area doesn't have a zip code).

If you're wondering about a movie we haven't reviewed yet, go to Internet Movie DataBase (IMDB) for on-line information (about movies).

Metal-Oxide Varistor. Common transient voltage surge suppressor (TVS) on power outlet strips. The metal is typically zinc (Zn). The I-V is symmetric.

Metal-Organic Vapor-Phase Epitaxy. In principle, since the acronym expansion includes epitaxy, this acronym may be preferred for emphasizing that the deposition is epitaxial, in contrast with MOCVD (since the deposition dee of CVD need not be epitaxial). On the other hand, in all the applications I know of, the whole point of using metal-organics is to produce epitaxial layers of compound semiconductors for optical and electronic applications. There's not much point in going to the trouble of MOCVD otherwise, so basically MOVPE and MOCVD both mean MOVPE. MOCVD is probably the more common term.

Inflected forms: APMOVPE and LP-MOVPE (atmospheric-pressure and low-pressure).

MOnitoring X-ray Experiment. An X-ray all-sky monitor, built by Los Alamos Nat. Lab (LANL), Goddard S.F.C., and Moscow's Space Research Institute; to be launched on the Russian Spectrum-X-Gamma satellite in 1996. I guess it happened.

A dhimmi, or perhaps just a Christian dhimmi, in Muslim Spain. Mozarabic art and literature flourished in the kingdom of León in the 10th and early 11th centuries. The word is of course a loan from the Spanish mozál;rabe. That in turn is from the Arabic musta'rib. The initial m is the well-known active participle marker (cf. Muslim/Islam). Based on ista'raba, `to become an Arab,' the participle musta'rib could be understood to mean `someone who adopts Arab customs.' It was also understood -- by self-regarding Arabs -- as something like `Arab wannabe.'

The original project code name for Netscape Navigator. Since early 1998, when Netscape released the source code for free, Mozilla.com has been the coordinating site for development of this now oddly open standard. If you want to see how your pages look on older Netscape clients that visitors may use to browse your pages, you'll want to know that old versions of the browser are archived at this site.

A lot of developers were irritated that when Microsoft came out with its browser, that browser self-identified as ``Mozilla'' in requests, even though it follows slightly different conventions (``MSIE'' is given as part of the version information). Presumably this was done so the browser would have the greatest chance of being identified by the server as a graphical browser. Of course, it had the side effect that developers unwilling to work too hard would end up selecting a single set of browser-dependent extensions for all graphical browsers. Some feel this is naughty.

Northern Mariana Islands. USPS abbreviation. I don't get it: NM, MI, MA, MN, and MS were taken, but what about ML? Anyway, don't try to convert a street address into a mailing address, firstly because the post office doesn't deliver, and secondly because there probably isn't a street address, which is why the post office doesn't deliver in the first place. You mail to a PO box.

The Northern Marianas used to be (1947-1978) a trust territory (assigned to US trusteeship by the UN), but since then it's been a US commonwealth (the CNMI, ``a self-governing commonwealth in political union with the United States''), and the trusteeship was formally dissolved in 1990. Since 1986 (on the eve of Guy Fawkes Day, FWIW in a largely Roman Catholic island), the residents have been US citizens.

The Villanova University Law School provides some links to territorial government web sites for the Mariana Islands.

``Melrose Place.'' A soap opera. Here's the official Fox site.

MP, mp
Maximum Power. I want more, MORE!

MP, mp, m.p.
Melting Point. For pure substances, this is the same as the freezing point, q.v.

Member of Parliament. The plural (Members of Parliament) is abbreviated MP's, and not M'sP. This seems natural, but it indicates something of the nature of the acronym in language: productive suffixes can be applied to the acronym without information about its original expansion, so it exists independently. Cf. PO'ed.

MP, µP

MilePost. An efficient abbreviation for those digital traffic-warning signs.

Military Police.

Møller-Plesset. A perturbation method for computing correlation energy.

Magazine Publishers of America. ``[T]he industry association for consumer magazines. Established in 1919, the MPA represents more than 240 domestic publishing companies with approximately 1,400 titles, more than 80 international companies and more than 100 associate service providers. Staffed by magazine industry specialists, the MPA is headquartered in New York City, with an office of government affairs in Washington, DC.''

Cf. the distributors' organization IPDA and the sister organization ASME for editors.

Magazine Publishers of Australia. ``[T]he industry association for consumer magazines, representing Australia's leading magazine publishers.'' Aye, but what is ``leading,'' really?

``[T]en publishing companies with more than 200 titles.''


Cf. the distributors' organization IPDA and the sister organization ASME for editors.

Maritime Patrol Aircraft.

Marriage Protection Amendment. It's a special rider to your marriage contract. For just one dollar a month extra you get double indemnity in case of divorce, plus it pays for a loaner during separations. Let me just check on the details here a moment.... Whoa! It's something else altogether.

It's a proposed amendment to the US constitution, nominally intended to outlaw any kind of marriage other than the main sort traditional in the West, between one man and one woman at a time.

Massively Parallel Architecture (for computing). Reminds me of the problem of Buffon's needle.

Master of Public Administration.

Missouri Pharmacy Association. You might be forgiven for guessing it was the ``Missouri Pharmacists Association,'' or that it uses the initialism MPhA, as do the MPhA, the MPhA, the MPhA, and the MPhA. It probably has something to do with the Missouree/Missourah thing.

Motion Picture Association of America. Founded in 1922 as the MPPDA and renamed in 1945. Headed by President Eric Johnston (1945-1962), and then the legendary Jack Valenti -- forever or to the end of August 2004, whichever came first. His successor as president and CEO is Dan Glickman, former Democratic congressman for Kansas (the state, not the rock musicians), secretary of agriculture for President Clinton, and lobbyist for Disney.

Since the late 1960's, they have issued the ``voluntary'' classifications that have generally replaced actual censorship of movies in the US.

The original scheme was G, M, R, X - the first three letters stood for General, Mature, and Restricted. M was found to be confusing and was quickly renamed to GP (General audiences, Parental guidance suggested) and then to PG (Parental Guidance). PG-13 was added in the 1980's. The current system is described here.

Male-Pattern Baldness.

Marginal Propensity to Consume. The fraction of extra income that consumers spend, rather than save. More at the MPS entry.

MegaParseC (pc).

Midsouth Philosophy Conference.

MPOA Client.

Multimedia PC.

Medicare Premium Collection Center.

Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.

Managed-Pressure Drilling.

Multiple Personality Disorder. We won't tell the Stammtisch webweenie that we put this entry in. It'll just be our secret.

Microwave Plasma Deposition Reactor.

Medical Practice Executive. See the professional organization: ACMPE.

I don't know what it stands for, but it seems to be an operating system for HP 3000-series computers. Certainly it's not

MultiProfessional Education. Interdisciplinary competence right out of the undergraduate education box.

Motion Picture Export Association of America.

Motion Picture Experts Group of the CCITT. Also designates the digital movie encoding defined by this group, files of which typically take a .mpg extension. Pronounced ``Emm-peg.'' Cf. JPEG.

The original MPEG standard (ISO/IEC IS 11172) publ. 8/93, concerned A/V delivered on compact discs, and was designed for 1.2 Mbps video bit rate and 250 kbps two-channel (stereo) audio.

Note that viewing occurs in real time, so decompression must be done on the fly. This means that, whereas the ultimate resolution of images extracted from JPEG's is limited only by file size, the resolution of MPEG video is also constrained by bit rates.

A proposed standard for MPEG that supports interlaced video, multiple-resolution scaling, and bit rates of 3-15 Mbps.

MPEG standard for very low bit rate images.

I don't know what this stands for either, but like MPE it seems to be an operating system for HP 3000-series computers. Presumably unix-like.


Mittheilungen aus der Sammlung der Papyrus Erzherzog Rainer. `Contributions to the Archduke Rainer Papyrus Collection.' Inaugurated in 1887, published in Vienna.

Notice the archaic spelling Mittheilung for Mitteilung. Der Erzherzog, translated archduke in this context, was the title of the Austrian crown prince. Theil was the earlier spelling of the root word Teil, back when aspirated and unaspirated initial tees were phonemically distinguished. I think it was a proclamation of the Kaiser that, taking cognizance of the general disappearance of the distinction, standardized the spelling by removing the aitch (with a few exceptions for foreign words like Theater).

MPER is the longest-running serial dedicated to papyrology. Cf. BGU.

Michigan Parkinson Foundation.

Common filename extension for MPEG files.

mpg, MPG
Miles per Gallon. Gives more headaches than MSG. Vide YMMV.

Motion Picture Guide. A hardcopy document. Acronym occurs in contexts that might suggest MPEG (.mpg)

MPG Algorithm
Marr-Poggio-Grinson algorithm. Not Marr-Poggio-Godot! A model of higher-animal visual analysis.

Master of Public Health (conferee) or Masters in Public Health (program).

Miles Per Hour. Faster than KPH by a factor of about 8/5, or exactly 1.609344. Last time I wanted to contest a speeding ticket, however, I found out that because under Indiana law, speeding is just a ``violation'' and does not even achieve misdemeanor status, the standard of proof is ``preponderance of the evidence.'' What this means quantitatively is that if the judge figures Mr. Officer is just slightly likelier to be right than Mr. DefendANT, say 50.00001% to 49.99999%, then you owe 100% of the speeding ticket plus court costs, which ain't nothing after you see your insurance bill.

One of my college roommates had gotten into a bad accident in high school and couldn't afford the car insurance rates it caused. So he got a motorcycle. Insurance companies promote safety, but premiums probably aren't the mechanism.

Maryland Pharmacists Association.

Massachusetts Pharmacists Association.

Minnesota Pharmacists Association.

Mississippi Pharmacists Association.

Max Planck Institut. The first one was in Berlin, and recruited Albert Einstein. Now there are a great bunch of them.

Message Passing Interface. A portable communication library, like PVM, used to implement distributed computation.

Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte. `Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.' In Berlin. The German word Wissenschaft is usually translated `science,' and is often (as here) used in that sense, but it really has the more general meaning of `scholarship.'

Member of Provincial Legislature. South African term for a member of a provincial body that functions like a parliament. Cf. MEC.

Minneapolis. Probably the one in Minnesota (MN).

Multi-Protocol Label Switching. Here's a tutorial slideshow on MPLS, by Peter Ashwood-Smith and Bilel N. Jamoussi of Nortel Networks, served at NANOG.

MultiPhoton Microscopy.

MultiProcessor Module.

Multifrequency Phase and Modulation Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence.

Metropolitan Planning Organization. The US government has a program to designate official MPO's. WILMAPCO is one such official MPO. MPO's are a highly seductive form of faux federalism; under the guise of seeking local advice on how to spend federal transportation dollars, the federal government leverages tax money that it returns to the states, setting the agenda and general goals. MPO's include local officials, public transportation providers and state agency representatives. In other words, they include enough competing interests that it will always be hard to oppose overall federal plans, and much easier to compete against other MPO's by committing state matching funds to implement federal plans. Freedom is a gilded cage.

The government serves a directory of MPO's that was current in October (October 1994). AMPO might have more up-to-date information.

Military Post Office. A post office associated with a military installation. Addresses in the US military take a form that is purposely shoehorned into the civilian (USPS) form. For example,
 PFC Gomer Pyle
 CMR 345, Box 12334
 APO AE 09250

Here APO is the ``city'' and AE is the ``state'' code. APO (Army Post Office) and FPO (Fleet Post Office) are the only two ``cities'' that should occur. For the obvious historical reasons (see USAAF), APO serves for army and air force installations. The only ``states'' are ``AA,'' ``AE,'' and ``AP.''

Ministère des Pêches et des Océans (du Canada). ``Pêches et Océans Canada.''

MultiProtocol Over ATM.

Massively Parallel Processor.

Maximum-Power Point.

An ideal voltage source drives as much current as its load wants to draw. This implies that it provides as much power (voltage × current) as desired. In your dreams. Real power supplies can only supply finite power, so they deviate from ideal voltage sources. The voltage at zero current is called the open-circuit voltage VOC (since zero current flows when the circuit is open). Need I add that since no power is supplied when no current is drawn, the maximum power from a real power supply is achieved at nonzero voltage? No, of course I needn't add that. I'm just bulking up the entry. I'm paid by the word, you know. The rate is pretty low -- zero, to be precise -- but I'm hoping that with enough words it'll add up to something.

Equivalently, one can view a power supply as a current source. The current supplied when the power-supply voltage is zero is called the short-circuit current ISC. Short-circuiting a power supply is usually unhealthy for something and possibly someone.

The current I supplied by a real power source is a smooth function I(V) of the voltage V. (It's a funny thing: smoothness assumptions are not approximations. Instead, nondifferentiable functions in science and engineering are approximations of more accurate functions that really are smooth. Even the best examples of nondifferentiable functions, the singularities and discontinuties called phase transitions in thermodyamics, are really the result of taking the limit of infinitely large thermodynamic systems. Large-but-finite systems are characterized by very rapidly varying thermodynamic functions that are experimentally indistinguishable from singular functions, as numbers like 10-24, in whatever macroscopic units, are indistinguishable from 0.)

Anyway, by assumption the power P = V × I(V) is a smooth function, and we maximize it by finding a point where the derivative w.r.t. V is zero. Applying the product rule for derivatives... (Just to interrupt here. For almost all readers, this discussion is either blindingly obvious and staggeringly slow, or mysterious and waaaaaaaay too fast. Sorry.) ... and doing a little rearranging, we find a condition

                I     dI
                - = - --
                V     dV

satisfied at the MPP. If the load is just a dumb resistance R, then according to Ohm's Law the left-hand side above is just R. The right-hand side is just the internal resistance r of the power supply at the MPP. (A very similar calculation leads to the famous rule that power to a loudspeaker is maximized when the output impedance of the final amplifier stage equals the impedance of the speaker.)

A standard figure-of-merit for power supplies is the fill factor F. This is simply the maximum power Pmax divided by the maximum conceivable power VOCISC. Equivalently:

                      P       V     I
                       max     MP    MP
                FF = ------ = --- × --- ,
                     V  I     V     I
                      OC SC    OC    SC

where VMP and IMP are the voltage and current at the MPP.

Member of [Canadian] Provincial Parliament (also MLA). In Quebec, this is called an MNA.

Message Processing Program.

Michigan Press Photographers Association.

Motion Picture Patents Company.

Multi-Purpose Peripheral Device.

Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America. An organization headed throughout its existence under that name (1922-1945) by President Will H. Hays. Hays is famous for the Hays Code, a code of voluntary self-censorship by the movie industry. In 1945, Eric Johnston became president of the organization, and it assumed its current name, abbreviated MPAA.

Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library. See also P-H-M, SJCPL.

Minnesota Public Radio. I've never heard anyone use this abbreviation in speech, probably because, despite the exhausting length of ``Minnesota'' (use MN on envelopes, Minn. when the abbreviation is not part of an address), ``MPR'' sounds too much like ``NPR'' (National Public Radio). The only reason I put this entry here was to have a link to the homepage for A Prairie Home Companion.

Mouvement populaire de la révolution. The political party that Mobutu created in 1967, a little over a year after Mobutu's coup of November 24, 1965. This was not just made the sole legal party of the one-party state; even the option of sullen nonparticipation was foreclosed: MPR membership was obligatory for all Zairians (or maybe all adults, I'm not sure if there was any sort of lower age limit). Actually, they weren't ``Zairians'' until 1971, when Mobutu changed the country's name. That year he also held national ``elections.'' In the presidential, uh, contest, Mr. Mobutu ran unopposed. Voters supporting the incumbent could cast a green ballot paper, symbolizing ``progress.'' Voters opposed to the election of the incumbent could cast a red ballot paper, described as symbolizing ``chaos'' (or anyway, the consequences of a vote against). According to the government count, 157 red ballots were cast. Cf. ARV.

Multi-state Professional Responsibility Examination.

Marginal Propensity to Save. The fraction of extra income that is saved.

An optimistic view of fiscal stimulus holds that, because of knock-on effects, putting an amount x in consumers' pockets generates a larger-than-x increase in overall spending. Explicitly, the initial spending x goes into the pockets of someone else, who spends a fraction MPC (marginal propensity to consume) of it, generating a further contribution xMPC to total consumption. That in its turn generates a further contribution x(MPC)2 in the next round, and so forth. It's obviously a geometric series, and an infinite one to some approximation, so the total increase in consumption is really

x( 1 + MPC + MPC2 + ...) = x/(1-MPC).

This enhancement is called the multiplier effect, and the factor 1/(1-MPC) is called the GDP multiplier. (See the relevant bit connected with Joseph Black for another economic factor.) On the reasoning that money not spent is saved, MPC+MPS=1, and the multiplier factor is 1/MPS.

There is a lot wrong with this analysis, of course. Just off the top of my head, here are a couple -- my downpayment on a complete entry:

  1. Initial spending: The original computation envision the initial fiscal stimulus as an increase in direct spending by the government. In practice, however, part (sometimes much) of the fiscal stimulus is in the form of transfers to private consumers. No matter how this fiscal stimulus is put into potential consumers' pockets, it isn't consumption until it leaves those pockets to make purchases. So the multiplier for this part is really MPC0/MPS, where is MPC0 is the consumers' marginal propensity to spend money received as ``fiscal stimulus'' (really as a tax credit, say). A simple assumption is that MPC0=MPC, which would yield a multiplier of MPC/(1-MPC), for which the maximum value is 1, when MPC=0.5. Hence, the multiplier is essentially always less than unity. There are, in fact, many arguments and some economics-``Nobel''-prize-winning empirical research that suggest that MPC0 will in fact be lower than MPC, further decreasing the effect of the stimulus.
  2. Marginal propensity to pay taxes and service overdue debt: It ain't zero. You can do this one yourself: MPC = 1 - MPS... - MPT - MPD. It lowers MPC and consequently the multiplier.

Medium-Powered Satellite. One kind of ``consumer satellite'' (the other is DBS, q.v.). Has lower power (50 W per channel) than DBS, but more channels.

Message { Processing | Passing } System. IF the teacher catches you, be ready to do hard time at the end of the school day.

Military Postal Service.

MPOA Server.

MultiProcessor Specification.

(US) Military Postal Service Agency. Information on this system has been delivered to the MPO entry.

Mundane Pointless Stuff I Must Share.

Microwave Power Transmission. I don't have much to say here, so you can either come back in a decade or two, when I'm sure to have added something, or go now to the rectenna or SPS entry.

MicroProcessor unit. (CPU on a single chip.)

Methane-Powered Vehicle.

Macintosh Programmer's Workbench.

Medical Physics World. Bulletin of the IOMP.

MPEG-1 Layer-3 Audio.

MPEG-1 Layer-4 Audio.

(Domain name code for) Martinique.

Magnetic Quantum Cellular Automata.

Memory Queue Handler.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement. A secular Pakistani political grouping of muhajirs (immigrants or refugees from India in 1947). Its leader, Altai Husain, lives in exile; the group itself has turned increasingly fascist in recent years.

Multiple Quantum Well. Refers to a heterostructure engineered with multiple conduction-band minima. Vide QW.

Multiple Quantum Wire. Vide QWR.

Macroporous Resin. A filtration material consisting of resin beads (macrospheres) with pores made by incorporating microspheres during manufacture.

Magnetic Resonance.

MagnetoResist{ance | ivity | ive }.

Materials Research. A productive prefix, as in MRC, MRS, and Penn State's MRI.

(Domain name code for) Mauritania. Apparently this is not the same place as Mauritius (.mu).
Miniature Railroading. A magazine published 1938-41. Not sure anyone ever used this abbreviation, but if you even momentarily thought that this might be what you sought an expansion for, you should check MR below.

MisteR. In British usage, and somewhat less commonly in Commonwealth usage, periods are now often omitted from a great many abbreviations that used to, and in the US still do, have them. This started out as an imitation of French practice that was advocated for English by Fowler. More later, okay?


Model Railroader. The most popular railroad modelers' magazine, published since 1934.

Hey Mark -- there's nothing in the early 2004 ToC's about BR.

(You can ignore that. It was just a note to the editor. It turned out to be the wrong MR anyway. It was Modern Railways. You have no idea of the magnitude of selfless research effort that goes into writing this apparently careless reference work!)

Not a good abbreviation for Model Railroading Magazine, published since 1979. Because of the namespace collision and priority, this is normally abbreviated MRG (by the magazine itself and by modelers generally).

Modem Ready. A standard light on external modems.

Modern Railways. A monthly. ``Modern Railways has been published since 1962 but its predecessor title, Trains Illustrated, first began publication in the 1940s. ...'' Covers all aspects of the business in Britain ``and abroad.''

Modified Richmond. MR magazines are a kind of subterranean concrete bunker used as ammo dumps for nuclear weapons.

Magnetic Resonance Angiography.

Malaysian Retailers Association.

Multiple Regression Analysis. Name applied to various statistical methods that attempt to isolate the effects of multiple independent variables on a single dependent variable.

Magnetoresistive Random Access Memory (RAM). A chip that stores bits as magnetic material orientation, and reads out by detection of magnetoresistive effect.

Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicle. Pronounced ``em-wrap.'' The specific ones to which this term is applied are manufactured for the US military by three companies, each with their own models. Their first deployments were in Iraq and Afghanistan.

MRAP, Mrap
Mouvement contre le Racisme et pour l'Amitié entre les Peuples. See next entry for some of the history.

Mouvement contre le Racisme et l'Antisémitisme et pour la Paix. This organization was founded in 1949 (i.e., after the war), in part by former members of the MNCR. It changed its name to Mouvement contre le Racisme et pour l'Amitié entre les Peuples in 1977.

Mr. Blackwell
Mr. B doesn't use a first name. He is known for his annual (since 1960) worst dressed list of women and transvestites. Mr. B is bowtie-positive. As a literary stylist, Mr. B is quite a ladies' fashion designer. Here are some vital statistics on his recycled word fashions:
  1. ``right dress in the wrong century''
    • 1976: Loretta Lynn, #8
    • 1978: Olivia Newton-John, #7
  2. Titanic
    • 1976: Lee Radziwill, #7 (designer went down with)
    • 1988: Shirley Temple Black, #6 (Good Ship Lollipop to)
    • 1997: Francis [sic?] Fisher, #9 (dresses should have gone down with) (rhymes with international panic)
    • 1998: Kate Winslet, #3 (dresses should have gone down with) (rhymes with fashion panic)
  3. neo-gothic
    • 1997: Madonna, #2 (Neo Gothic fright)
    • 1998: Marilyn Manson, #10 (neo-Gothic nightmare)
  4. She's foobar ... in heels!
    • 1992: Geena Davis, #2 (foobar = Big Bird)
    • 1997: Jennifer Tilly, #5 (foobar = El Niño)
    • 1998: Carmen Electra, #4 (foobar ... = fashion Viagra -) (note that ellipsis has been modernized to hyphen; exclamation mark remains)
  5. Madonna
  6. Bette Midler
    • 1973: #1
    • 1975: #4
    • 1978: #10
    • 1982: #4
    • 1991: eighth on the honors list of fabulous fashion independents
    • 1993: seventh on the honors list of fabulous fashion independents
    • 1996: again seventh on the honors list of fabulous fashion independents
  7. Clintons
    • Hillary Rodham:
      1993: first on the honors list of fabulous fashion independents 1995: fourth on the honors list of fabulous fashion independents 1998: sixth on the honors list of fabulous fashion independents; behind even Madeleine Albright
    • Chelsea:
      1996: fifth on the honors list of fabulous fashion independents; just beats out Whitney Houston. Time for a new dartboard.

Medium-Range Ballistic Missile. Range between 1000 and about 2500 km. You'd get a lot more invitations to summits and prestigious international parlays if just put a couple of hundred million into developing IRBM's. Everybody's got MRBM's now. Isn't it about time you moved up?

Materials Research Center.

Medical 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.

Medical Research Council of Canada. Seems to be related to the CRM.

Medical Research Council of South Africa. (I can assure you that it is also referred to in writing as the ``South African Medical Research Council.'')

Mission Research Corporation.

Multinationals Resource Center.

Multiple-Relay Channel.

MultiReference Configuration Interaction. Something for quantum chemists to do with any extra cycles.

Multi-Rate Circuit Switching.

MilliaRD. An American billion. Abbreviation that occurs in EU statistical literature. Cf. Mio (million).

Mobile Remote Deposit Capture. A feature of many banking apps for smartphones that allows users to deposit checks by photographing them with the phone.

Mr. Ed
A television show about a talking horse, and the eponymous horse. There's a bit of context for the show at our AF (for Armed Forces) entry, and it's mentioned for context at our ST:TOS entry.

MagnetoResistive Element.

Meal Ready-to-Eat. Food for US troops on the move. Also expanded ``Meals Rejected by the Enemy,'' and during the Ethiopian famine ``Meals Rejected by Ethiopians.''

Mission Readiness Exercise. Military usage. Practive makes perfect, if the enemy cooperates.

Morally Reprehensible Elite. US Army nickname for Haitian upper class, according to Thomas Friedman op-ed (p. A21) on Wed, 20 DEC 95 NYT.

Malawi Rural Finance Company.

Model RailroadinG Magazine. Published since 1979. The G serves to distinguish it from the Model Railroader, which has seniority (MR).

Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet. Pronounced ``Mister Go.'' MRGO is a shipping channel that was dug in the 1960's as a shortcut to New Orleans and a way to boost development of reclaimed swampland east of the city. Many scientists and activists have claimed that MRGO boosted the flooding and destruction of that reclaimed swampland, and low-lying eastern parts of the city.

MagnetoResistive Head. (Magnetic recording and sensing element.)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Imaging using NMR. Invented by Dr. Raymond Damadian and patented in 1974. Fashionable medical imaging technology that can image soft tissue with great sensitivity to histology. The data processing involved is quite nontrivial. Originally called NMR imaging, its current name presumably reflects ignorant public resistance to anything with ``nookyuler'' in it. Vide NMR. Then again, there's also Neonatal Mortality Rate (NMR) for it to be confused with.

Noninvasive, but getting inside the magnet makes many people claustrophobic.

In the 7 March 1994 New Yorker, Alfred Kazin wrote

My cancer is so real to a lot of people that they feel free to probe me front and behind, stick me, prick me, haul me up and down, insert my claustrophobic head in the drum of one scan after another, in a process splendidly named Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

Management Recruiters International.

Materials Research (MR) Institute at Penn State. There are probably some others with the same name.

Medical Records Institute. I admire them for sticking with the initialism. In the future, I plan to say things like ``I guess you must mean magnetic resonance imaging, rather than Medical Records Institute,'' just to be a pain in the ass.

A drum of India that can be played in Scrabble®. (All three major Scrabble dictionaries agree and accept a plural mridangas. I never realized how common the -s plural inflection is.)

Materials Research Instrument Facility. Part of CAPEM at UB.

Multi-Resolution Model.

Medical Research Modernization Committee. By ``modernization'' they mean the elimination of animal models.

Messenger RNA (vide RNA). A segment of RNA that transcribes genes coded in DNA.

Manufacturing Requirements Planning.

Maintenance, Repair, and Operations,

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. A NASA vehicle that weighs one ton fully fuelled. It's the first NASA mission to Mars since the twin rovers (Spirit and Opportunity) landed in January 2004. Launched on an Atlas 5 rocket on August 12, 2005, MRO will orbit Mars at an average altitude of 300 kilometers. Observations should begin in November 2006.

It has the largest telescopic camera ever sent to another planet, and plans are for it to orbit Mars for at least four years. Data from MRO will help in planning where to land two robotic subsequent explorers: the Phoenix Mars Scout, to be launched in 2007, which will search for organic chemicals, and the Mars Science Laboratory to be launched 2009.

Manufacturing Resource Planning.

Material Resource Planning.

Missus. Used as a courtesy title for married women and widows. (Back when people were more careful about these things, before the women's rights movement, and especially before mass direct mail solicitations, a further convention dictated the use of a woman's first name if she was widowed, and her husband's given name if she was not.)

Originally an abbreviation of mistress, but now the latter word has some offensive denotations, so a slurred version (missis, missus) of the original word is used. Nevertheless, the word missus continues to be regarded by many as slang, and while other courtesy titles (Mister, Miss, Reverend) are occasionally written out, Mrs. is much less frequently written out, and rarely as Missus. A lot of people wonder what the arr (r) in Mrs. stands for.

The word madam has suffered similar depredations. However, the abbreviation Mmes. of its plural is used in lieu of an accepted plural for Mrs.

Even though Drs. is the plural of Dr., Mrs. is not the plural of Mr.

Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy.

Materials Research Society.

Market Research Society of Australia. Now the AMSRS.

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. Sometimes pronounced ``merza.'' When MRSA was first identified in the 1960's, it was transmitted primarily in hospitals, sort of like child-bed fever, and affected only those with weakened immune systems. More recently at least two new strains have appeared that are being transmitted outside hospitals and being contracted by otherwise healthy individuals. The familiar old group of strains is now distinguished as HA-MRSA (hospital-acquired MRSA) and the new group of strains is called CA-MRSA (community-acquired). See also VRSA. Here's a summary from APUA.

Materials Research Science and Engineering Center.

Mass Rail Transit. The Singapore subway.

Management System(s).

ms., MS

Mass Spectro { metry | scopy }. The first term is more accurate, the second term ( -scopy) is more common. [The initialism seems to be used principally in the abbreviation of compounds, like MS/MS.]

An introduction is served by Virginia Tech.

MS, M.S.
Master of Science.

Mean Square. Often used in ANOVA to designate the variance (i.e., mean value of the square of the deviation from the mean; a/k/a the square of the standard deviation). Possibly the reason it's a more common usage in ANOVA is that the heavy numerical burden long ago put computers into the middle of the discussion, when they didn't speak Greek characters.

Meta Signaling.


MS, M$
MicroSoft, Inc. (The first abbreviation is commonly used in product names.)

Here's what you need to understand.

Middle School. Name for two- or three-year school (grades 7-8 or 6-8) preceding high school (grades 9-12). In other systems, grades 7-12 are divided into junior high school (7-9) and senior high (10-12). This is the province of the states, by settled interpretation of the tenth amendment to the US constitution.

During the 1990's, one of the more widespread education fads was the idea that children of middle school age have special in-between needs that are not well served by either elementary school or high school. It gives you some idea of how dim the education poobahs are, that this crude and essentially empty thought was seen as a cogent reason for converting junior high-senior high school systems into middle school-high school systems.

Military Science. Cf. Military Intelligence.

ms, msec

Mississippi. USPS abbreviation only. Literate abbreviation is Miss.

The Villanova University Law School provides some links to state government web sites for Mississippi. USACityLink.com has a page with mostly city and town links for the state.


M & S
Modeling and Simulation. Here's a glossary thereof.

MonoStable (multivibrator).

(Domain name code for) Montserrat.

Mössbauer Spectroscopy.

Multiple Sclerosis. The mouseketeer Annette Funicello has it and tells about living with it in her autobiography. Find out MS it from the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, Inc.

Master of Science in Accountacy. Also...

Master of Science in Administration. A graduate business degree. This expansion is more common than the preceding one. One possible interpretation is that administration is more of a science than accountancy. I'm okay widdat.

Medical Savings Account. Sort of like a Christmas savings plan, but with tax benefits. An Archer MSA is also known as Medicare Advantage MSA.

Methane Sulfonic Acid.

Metropolitan Statistical Area. Defined by the US Census Bureau after every census (i.e., every ten years). For US commercial purposes, RMA and MSA are the two standard definitions of urban regions. Read about it in this PDF file.

Microscopy Society of America.

Midwest Surgical Association. It's self-described as an organization ``of surgeons who have established reputations as practitioners, authors, teachers, and/or original investigators. The objective of this society is to exemplify and promote the highest standards of surgical practice, especially among young surgeons in the Midwest. The annual meeting is held in August each year in different locations throughout the Midwest and consists of a stimulating scientific program of the highest quality and a social program planned with children and families in mind.''

Minnesota Software Association. This glossary is beginning to resemble page two of USA Today (the McPaper). An affiliate (MSA is) of ITTA.

(UN) Mission Subsistence Allowance.

Management Service Access Point.

MultiStation Access Unit. Also MAU.

Main Support Battalion.

Malawi Savings Bank. Founded in 1994, in the process of privatizing since 2003 or before. The latest I read was than in mid-2005, in Phase II of a three-phase project, the government owned 100% of the bank.

MSB Ltd - Managing the Service Business.

Marshall School of Business. Part of USC. Cf. MSB.

Massive Sulphide Body. A geological formation; think lead ore and ores for other metals.

Master of Science in Business. I imagine that the MSBA and MSA are totally unrelated. Don't forget the MSB-IS.

Maxisegar Sdn Bhd.

McCombs School of Business. Part of the University of Texas at Austin. The school itself is known as McCombs; ``MSB'' seems to occur primarily in compounds like ``MSB [email] account.'' Cf. MSB.

Robert Emmett McDonough School of Business. Part of Georgetown University. Cf. MSB.

William G. McGowan School of Business. Part of King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Cf. MSB.

Meinders School of Business. Part of the OCU. Cf. MSB.

Robert G. Merrick School of Business. Part of the University of Baltimore (UB). Cf. MSB.

Minnesota School of Business. Cf. MSB. Teamed with Globe College as MSBGC.

Mona School of Business. In Kingston, Jamaica. Cf. MSB.

Monetary Stabilization Bond. MSB's of various descriptions, in terms up to a couple of years, are issued by the Bank of Korea in order to control inflation generated by a weak-won policy. Christopher Lingle's analysis (over my head) is at TCS.

Maintaining an artificially low exchange rate against major foreign currencies is a common strategy of export-led economies. However, maintaining a weak currency feeds domestic inflation by raising the prices of imported goods as well as the local-currency value of export earnings. (``Raising'' them relative to what they would be absent aggressive quasi-mercantilist government interventions.) The monetary approach to this problem is to soak up the excess liquidity with MSB's. (Another strategy is to keep a well-employed population from spending its earnings is to promote domestic investment in government savings bonds, as the US did to control inflation during WWII.)

Some other countries in the region with growth strategies similar to Korea's are currently (2005) using similar instruments: in Malaysia the BNM issues Bank Negara bills, and Bank Indonesia offers Sertifikat Bank Indonesia. From time to time, other countries have issued such bonds, but South Korea is apparently the only country that currently calls them by the generic name of MSB's. (No, I don't know the Korean for that.) Since we're talking won and inflation, you want to make sure you're familiar with the material at the WIN entry.

Moore School of Business. Founded in 1919. Part of the University of South Carolina. Better write that out -- a USC on the other coast also has an MSB.

Most Significant Bit.

Motorola Standard Building. Occurs in ``MSB communications site package.''

MSB Communications.

Master of Science in Business Administration. Also called the MSB.

MSB Communications
A political consulting and telephone campaigning firm based in Salem, Oregon. The MSB of the name appears to be constructed from the final initials of co-owners Kristina McCall, Marilyn Shannon (former state senator from Brooks), and Mike Basinger.

Minnesota School of Business and Globe College. Construed singular (e.g. ``Minnesota School of Business and Globe College provides the job training and skills necessary to be successful...'').

Master of Science in Business and Information Science. The University of Kansas offers one.

Mid-Size Bus Manufacturers Association. An NTEA group formed in 1993 ``to improve professionalism, safety and product quality in the mid-size bus industry. Mid-size buses are defined as passenger-carrying motor coaches, built on a cutaway or rail chassis or on monocoque construction, under 40' in length and having a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) class of VII or less.''

MagnetoStatic Backward Volume Wave[s].

Management Systems Council (of the American Trucking Associations (ATA)).

Men who Sex Chicks. They work in the poultry industry. What were you thinking? I was thinking the same thing, after adding a new MSM entry below.

Mobile Switching Center.

Motorcycle Safety Center. Vide MSF below.

Mediaeval Studies Doctorate. Also ``Doctorate in Mediaeval Studies.'' You know how really cruel, gruesome torture is often described as ``medieval''? That is the sense in which the word is used in this expansion. If you are a sensitive person, or if you think you are not a sensitive person but then again you haven't visited hell yet, then you should pause here and consider just how badly you want to know the significance of the M.S.D. They say that LSD can sometimes drive you crazy, but...

Very well, then, but don't say you weren't warned.

Usually, ``doctorate'' implies some sort of Ph.D.. That's not its sense in M.S.D. At PIMS, which administers the M.S.D., a Ph.D. is just a prerequisite for candidacy to a different degree, the LMS. In contrast, the MSD isn't something you apply or ask for. Instead, according to this detailed confession, a ``Licentiate candidate who has shown unusual promise as a research scholar may be invited to enter the MSD programme, which consists of at least two full years of study and research beyond the Licence.'' [Emphasis added.]

As Bud Abbott would have put it, ``a p-p-, a p-p- -- a post-post-doctoral doctorate!'' When they get the news, the disbelieving ``invitees'' fall to their knees and scream ``NOOOOoooo!!!'' as tears of maniacal joy stream down their contorted faces and they are dragged away.

Incidentally, rumors that the letters ess and em in MSD stand for sadism and masochism are obviously untrue. Given the order in which they appear, they would have to stand for masochism first, and then sadism.

Most Significant Digit. I'd have to go with the index or middle finger on this one, on the right hand, anyway. For binary representation, MSD is MSB.

Modified Signed Digit (number encoding).

Maritime Self-Defense Force. The Japanese Navy. Cf. ASDF.

MicroSoft Developer Network.

MicroSoft DOS, ``MS-DOS,'' ``MS-DOG,'' ``Maybe SomeDay an Operating System.'' Slightly different from PC-DOS, which Microsoft developed for and sold to IBM for its PC. The difference enabled it to run on other machines based on Intel chips (clones) without crashing due to intellectual-property problems. If Kildall had thought of this, maybe ... (lament FOLDOC's CP/M entry).

Material Safety Data Sheets.

NOAA serves a list of links to publicly accessible MSDS information, including the above (whose URL's, if they change, will more likely be up-to-date at NOAA than here). The whole thing is mirrored in Japan. A short link list is at Michigan State U.

Master of Science in Engineering.

Materials Science and Engineering.

Mean Square[d] Error. This has nothing to do with the other things designated by the same acronym. An accident of letters! Mere homonyms!

Mobile Subscriber Equipment.

Montréal Stock Exchange.

Master Scenario Events List. Part of the civilian war-gaming for emergencies.

Médecins Sans Frontières. Increasingly referred to by the English `Doctors Without Borders' (DWB).

``Wine Stewards Without Borders'' is the caption of a New Yorker cartoon (p. 75, issue of Feb. 18 & 25, 2002; cartoonist so famous his signature need not be legible). Attired for an upscale fine dining experience, the WSWB pours a drink for the reclining wino on a streetcorner.

Motorcycle Safety Foundation. A US nonprofit founded in March 1973 and based in based in Irvine, CA, MSF is sponsored by the US manufacturers and distributors of BMW Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Piaggio/Vespa, Suzuki, Triumph, Victory, and Yamaha motorcycles.

This entry used to be a lot more fun back in the old days. MSF didn't have its own web site, so I just went weaving back and forth on the web -- surfing without a helmet. Unofficial, unauthorized information providers were the wind in my bandana, most of them long since highsided into the /dev/null, alas. Here are a few sedate, speed-limit-obeying survivors: Minnesota's Motorcycle Safety Center (MSC), Oregon's Motorcycle Safety Program, and a page of links from what used to be a Motorcycle Rider Education Program.

Marshall Space Flight Center.

MagnetoStatic Forward Volume Wave[s].

Madison Square Garden.


MonoSodium Glutamate. It's typically made from chumetz, so it's not kosher l'Pesach. If this does not compute, then it's very unlikely to be as big of a headache for you as Chinese take-out.

MSG was first isolated by Japanese scientists, and Japan today has the world's highest per capita consumption of MSG. MSG was introduced to China around the beginning of the twentieth century, and China is today the world's largest producer and consumer of MSG, producing 650,000 tons a year (as of 1999). Most of that goes to domestic human consumption, an estimated 1.3 lb. per capita per annum. It's also used in medicines and in a salty hard candy that is a popular export to West Africa. There are also proposals to put it in livestock feed to fatten animals more quickly. The Chinese name for MSG is wei jing, `flavor essence,' essentially equivalent to the Japanese name umami.

MSG first became widely known in the US through its use in Chinese restaurants. Chinese restaurant syndrome is the reaction of sensitive people to high doses of MSG. A wide variety of side effects have been reported from MSG, including fainting and headaches. (Hair loss is one feared in China.) Animal and human studies suggest that sensitivity to or inadequate metabolization of MSG results from vitamin B6 deficiency and can be reversed with B6 supplementation.

MSG is well known to be a major ingredient of flavor enhancers like Accent®. However, it is often also present in hydrolyzed vegetable protein, textured vegetable protein, gelatin, yeast extracts, calcium and sodium caseinate, vegetable broth, whey, smoke flavoring, malt extracts, and several other food components. When MSG is only introduced indirectly as a component of such ingredients, the ingredients list of a food will not list MSG.

In 1987 the WHO placed MSG on its list of safest ingredients, with items like salt and vinegar. In 1995 an FDA report concluded that ``MSG and related substances are safe food ingredients for most people when eaten at the customary level.'' It also concluded, however, that large quantities can produce transient symptoms, particularly in asthmatics.

In addition to its main flavor effect, MSG also tastes salty, since salt taste is caused by sodium ions. However, MSG does not have a high degree of ionization in water (or saliva), so the degree of saltiness per sodium ion is low. This has led to problems with cooks who season with MSG by saltiness. That is, using MSG as weak salt, they end up using too much MSG as MSG.


Multi-pillar Surrounding-Gate Transistor (SGT).

Medium-Scale Integration. (Chips containing 10-100 transistors; early sixties microelectronic technology.) (That's the nineteen sixties.)

Mega PSI. I suppose you could expand that as Millions of pounds per Square Inch, but another more common abbreviation, KSI, established a presumptive pattern of metric prefixes. 1 MSI = 6.895 GPa.

Metal-Semiconductor Interface.


Mixed-Signal Integrated Circuit.

Microsoft Internet Explorer. A graphical web browser. Back in 1996-7, about 50% of visitors to SBF used MSIE; most of the rest use Netscape Navigator. As of 2002, MSIE is at well over 90%. Microsoft's practice of strong-arming software developers and PC retailers into closing Netscape out of market share, and eventual integration of the MS's IE browser with its Windows Explorer (the file-manipulation application) were at the center of the antitrust litigation against Microsoft from 1999 or so. Early on in that story, Netscape (along with Time-Warner, and some other media conglomerates comprising formerly independent companies) was swallowed up by AOL.

MicroSoft Intermediate Language. Usually called IL, when context is adequate. In the Microsoft.NET Framework (usually ``.NET Framework'') or maybe it's on the ``.NET Platform,'' programming languages are compiled into IL. At run time, the .NET JIT compiler compiles the IL to produce an executable application in memory.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Martha Stewart Living. A magazine. (Not this kind.) This MS character -- does she have qualifications or anything?

Mean Sea Level. (Altitudes are quoted ``350 m MSL'' to indicate altitude above the computed MSL. Cf. ``AGL.'')

Mediaeval Studies Licence. Also LMS. A license to study mediaevals, evidently. You can get an official one from PIMS.

(A ``licence'' is an even more general term than ``baccalaureate,'' and the latter has been used to refer to a range of academic levels of accomplishment (sometimes in the same school at the same time). In Latin America and Iberia, the licenciatura is now some kind of undergraduate degree, although the term has also been used for an honors secondary degree that was regarded as a first undergraduate degree. At PIMS it's a post-doctoral program. Go figure.)

Mirrored Server Link.

Mixed Signal and Logic Product.

Multiple Sleep Latency Test.

MainStream [news]Media. In principle, this term needn't be pejorative, but in practice it and its initialism are. One reason might be that those satisfied with the performance of the MSM think of them simply as ``the media.''

Man Seeking Man. I think that ``men seeking men'' may be MSM's. Acronyms can make a hash of any language's morphology. I don't think one needs an acronym for ``men seeking man.'' It sounds a touch ominous, like a posse after Clyde Barrow. Why would men seek men (otherwise)? If you have to ask, the next entry may provide enlightenment.

Man who has Sex with Men. Or maybe the category Men who have Sex with Men. The initialism is used in medicine, and in public health and social services. Look, once you know the expansion, you can write the entry yourself. If you (think the terms medicine and public health overlap too much, just get out your crayon and edit.) MSM is a useful term because it makes no reference to sexual preference. It thus includes men who are not regarded as gay (like all those institutionalized men inteviewed by Kinsey) or who do not regard themselves as gay or who resist self-identifying as ``gay'' or ``homosexual.'' There's a bit of movie dialogue relevant to this at the entry for Wow, who's the mother? For other thoughts, cf. see this WSW entry.

Metal-Semiconductor-Metal. May characterize metal electrode patterns such as interdigitated fingers on semiconductor (often deposited by metal lift-off process, q.v.).

Movimiento Sin Miedo. Spanish: `Fearless Movement,' a Bolivian political party of the left, founded in June 1999.

Metal-Semiconductor-Metal PhotoDetectors (PD's). These are vertical structures -- i.e., not interdigitated like some MSM's.

Tandem Mass Spectrometry.

Medicare Summary Notice.

MicroSoft Network.

Monitoring cell Sequence Number.

Maritime Security Operation[s].

Mees Solar Observatory in Hawaii.

Multiple Service Operator.

Member of Scottish Parliament. Interesting word, ``member.''

Tory MSP Jamie McGrigor, twice-married and a father of five, was at a parliamentary dinner in Edinburgh with some Pfizer executives when discussion turned to the needs of isolated sheep farmers. One problem they face, according to the Scottish Daily Record & Sunday Mail, is ``find[ing] themselves snowed-in for weeks at a time in deepest winter.'' This apparently suggested an opportunity to address another problem: the declining number of Highlands shepherds. (According to the trashy but aptly named tabloid The People, ``the population of the Highlands is set to fall below 200,000 by 2017.'') Pfizer manufactures Viagra, and McGrigor suggested that the company might distribute it free to shepherds, to help raise the sagging population. (That's how he should have phrased it, but his exact words were not reliably reported.) McGrigor, 54, is a stockbroker as well as a ``hill [i.e. sheep] farmer.'' He said later that ``[i]t was a bit of a joke but it is not a bad idea. I am still waiting to hear from Pfizer.'' Pfizer already distributes freebies like jackets to promote its animal husbandry products, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, such as sheep dip. (Mmmm-mmm! Goes great with blue pills!) A spokesman for Pfizer said later that they were ``actively considering Jamie's proposition. Anything we can do to help valued customers such as Scotland's sheep farmers is worth considering.''

This news was reported on June 27, 2004. The very next day, there was a load of stories, including this one in The Scotsman, about khat. Khat is an African plant which is chewed for its hallucinogenic and stimulant effects. At the time, khat was illegal in the US and Canada, and in most of the EU but not the UK, where it is popular in the Somali community.

The active ingredient in khat is cathinone, which is broken down into various phenylpropanolamines (PPA's). PPA's are a common class of stimulants, sold OTC and by prescription in various diet and asthma medications. As you can imagine, that's not why I mention them here in the entry for Scottish Parliament members. The news reported on June 28, 2004, was on findings reported that day in Berlin, at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. It turns out that certain PPA's from cathinone help sperm cells through the final stage of maturation, when they develop the ability to fertilize.

The research was reported by Professor Lynn Fraser (who gave the talk) and Dr. Susan Adeoya-Osiguwa, of King's College London. Uh, yeah, there's more, but I'm too squeamish to include it.

Merit Systems Protection Board.

Million Samples Per Second. A unit used in DSP and data acquisition.

Multicultural Student Programs & Services. There's one at the University of Notre Dame, and it's based in the Intercultural Center, with an office in the La Fortune Student Center.

That's right -- apparently concentric centers.

On Tuesday, at a McDonald's on I-80 in Pennsylvania, I listened attentively as the girl behind the counter mixed up orders and chatted with her coworkers. I made a big problem for her: my order cost $4.47, I gave her a ten and, as she efficiently keyed in $10 on the cash register, I gave her seven cents. Now she was in a bind since, to perform the modified change calculation, she might have to do something complicated like cancel the order. Thrown back on her own resources, she DID THE MATH IN HER HEAD! This involved a carry operation, I believe. Then she asked her scurrying coworkers at large if $5.60 was correct, explaining as she did the charge and the cash tendered. I'm afraid that rather dulled the shine on her immediately previous achievement. Later, as my food item was being assembled, she chatted on about how she was going to take Geometry again, because she enjoyed it so much the first time. I was relatively quiet.

Main Street Rag. ``Main Street Rag Publishing Company has been publishing our print magazine: Main Street Rag, uninterrupted since 1996. Among its features are poetry, short fiction, photography and graphic images, essays, interviews, reviews, cartoons and commentary.''

Marine Sciences Research Center at the SUNY-SB.

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price. In principle, any manufactured product sold retail might have an MSRP, but in practice the term and the initialism are most commonly used in the context of new private passenger vehicle sales. This term probably originated as a compression of phrases on the pattern of ``retail price ... suggested by the manufacturer'' that occur in the Automobile Information Disclosure Act of 1958 (AIDA). That law required all new cars to bear window stickers, removable only by the purchaser, stating various sorts of information. (The sticker is called the Monroney sticker, after the author of the AIDA. And here you thought that was Verdi.) Inter alii, the sticker must list the MSRP of the base (``stripped'') vehicle, of options included in the particular vehicle, the amount the manufacturer charged the dealer for transportation from final point of assembly, and total MSRP (``full sticker price''), is the sum of those.

Some or all of the dollar amounts are meaningless in principle, particularly since certain combinations of options are rare or nonexistent. In practice, it may be conceded that the sticker does provide some useful information to the prospective buyer, including what options are included, and now the EPA mileage estimates (YMMV). The total sticker price provides a point of reference. In particular, no one pays the full sticker price except on high-demand/short-supply vehicles.

Once it became legally required, the MSRP was added to the palette of artists (car salesmen and car salespersons) who create attractive images for car-buyers. To inflate the price, they can add ``preparation charges,'' ``advertising charges'' (I kid you not), extra transportation charges. Once upon a time, dealers were often in the business of installing post-manufacture options, and charges for these things could be inflated. The price inflation serves two main purposes. One is for the dealer to quote you a low-ball price exclusive of the extras, and then add them to bring the price up after getting past ``yes.'' The other is to appear to offer a better deal by offering to discount the inflated price or offering better financing or a bigger trade-in allowance.

Car dealers have long had the reputation of being the sleaziest of all retailers, and I don't know anyone who thinks that reputation is undeserved. Maybe I'll ask around. Anyway, many people I know have delayed or avoided buying a new car (or buying a used car from a lot rather than from an owner) simply because dealing with dealers is a degrading and stressful experience. In theory, this might create a niche for honest dealers, and perhaps they exist, but the main market manifestations of the disgust have been work-arounds: information services of various sorts and buying or bidding services. If one knows more or less precisely what kind of car one wants, the latter services make it possible to reach a final purchase price without having to interact directly with a dealer.

Car information services take many forms. For particular used cars, there's CARFAX Vehicle History Reports. In general, Edmunds.com and Kelley Blue Book are good places to start for both used and new cars. There are many others, all doing something like what the AIDA was originally intended to do. You know how to google, don't you?

For new cars, the main piece of information that has changed the dynamics of car-buying is the dealer invoice price. Back around 1990, when this information began to be widely available, new-car dealers protested the unfairness of having their costs revealed, when other retailers (the kind that aren't nearly so sleazy) can mark up with impunity. After all, they have fixed costs! Eventually they adjusted. I don't know to what extent it was part of the adjustment, and to what extent it was a pre-existing arrangement, but one thing that makes the invoice price less informative than it seems is the ``holdback.'' Typically on cars sold in the US there is a 3% holdback that the manufacturer pays the dealer once the vehicle is sold. (About 3% of the MSRP, or a slightly larger percentage of dealer invoice.) This is why it is easy for dealers to advertise ``BELOW INVOICE! BELOW DEALER INVOICE!!'' (That's before various other charges, of course, to say nothing of government-imposed costs -- DMV registration, sales tax, and especially whatever.)

In addition to the holdback, from time to time manufacturers may offer ``dealer incentives'' of, say, a few hundred dollars per vehicle. Sometimes manufacturers offer incentives directly to purchasers.

mss., MSS

Mobile Satellite Service.

MS San E
Master of Science in SANitary Engineering.

Minimal Supersymmetric extension of the Standard Model.

Modeling and Simulation Resource Repository. Something about it here, I suppose. See also Modeling and Simulation (M & S) entry.

Mathematics, Science, and Technology.

MicroSystem[s] Technology.

Mountain Standard Time. GMT - 7 hrs. You can get a reading of the time by telnetting to ``india.colorado.edu 13'' (You must specify port 13).

Multi-Stage Tapped (ring oscillator).

Multi-Source Thermal Evaporation.

Master of Studies. Oxford usage.

Mystery Science Theater 3000. (Site crashes Netscape. Visit this FAQ or the IMDB entry instead.)

Michigan State University.

Mississippi State University. Located in Starkville, in Oktibbeha County of Mississippi and has its own place on the net.

Moscow State University. Not in Idaho. Nor in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, or Wisconsin.

Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Minnesota State University Moorhead.

Meta-Signaling Virtual Channel.

Mount Saint Vincent University. Founded as Mount St. Vincent Academy by the Sisters of Charity in 1872, it has undergone a sequence of minor name changes, the last one in 1966. In 1967 the school admitted male students for the first time, but as of 2004, the ratio of female to male students was still about 4:1. The school is commonly referred to as ``The Mount.'' See cheating.

MagnetoStatic Wave[s] (microwave devices).

Master (s degree in) Social Work.

Midwest Division of the Society for Women In Philosophy.

Maximum Sustainable Yield.

Common indication written on (tags of) gas canisters, a rebus for ``empty.''

Machine Translation. See natural language processing (NLP entry).

(Domain code for) Malta. An island nation in the Mediterranean. It does my heart good to spell Mediterranean correctly on the first try, but not that much good. I've done it before. (You'll just have to take my word on it, even though it is very important.) Valletta is the national capital, located on the main island, which is also called Malta.

Maltese is spoken on Malta, Gozo, and Comino. It can be honestly said that every person living on the two other islands of the Maltese Archipelago, Cominotto and Filfla, is fluent in at least four languages besides Maltese. This is tremendously useful in principle, but it's only true because there are no persons living on these islands. Okay, bad joke. When I think of a better I'll replace it. Start boning up on your Dashiell Hammett.

The Maltese language is very interesting -- a Semitic language, it began as the Arabic brought by Moslem conquerors in 870. Maltese has had an increasing Romance component since the Christian reconquest by Normans from Sicily in 1091. The Normans sure were active in those years. From 1530 to 1798, Malta was the stronghold of the former crusading order, the Knights Hospitaller of St. John (who used Italian and Latin). The French took it over in 1798 as a sideshow on the way to Egypt. (Napoleon asked for safe harbor, then turned his guns on the port.) The French were not popular; they provoked the island's first known popular uprising, which the English assisted. The French hung on long enough to say hello and goodbye, or more precisely bongu and bonswa, with meaning and sound of bonjour and bonsoir. English rule started in 1800.

Many web pages claim that the Semitic component in Maltese dates back to the Phoenicians. This is plausible, but there doesn't seem to be any evidence of it and I haven't seen a published scholarly source that deigns to so much as mention the possibility. Certainly Malta was settled prehistorically, and was for many centuries controlled by the Phoenicians and later the Carthaginians. However, to cite a parallel situation, the survivals of Carthaginian in Spain are negligible, apart from a few place names like Barcelona, Cartagena, and España. My guess is that a direct connection of the Maltese language with the Phoenicians is fanciful, and motivated by the greater prestige of a more ancient provenance.

In the broad circumstances of its history, Maltese is similar to English. Here is how Joseph Aquilina expressed it in the preface of his The Structure of Maltese: A Study in Mixed Grammar and Vocabulary (1959):

Maltese is a separate language resulting from the interaction and fusion of North African Arabic, but with its own dialect features outside the North African group, and Siculo-Italian, covering two different cultural strata. The Arabic element in Maltese historically very often corresponds to the Anglo-Saxon in English, while the Romance loans correspond to the Norman-French element. As in English, the primitive linguistic stratum is confined mainly to the description of the obvious facts of nature and man's reactions to them while the abstract and progressive vocabulary of the intelligentsia belongs to later times.

Another similarity is that the underlying grammar is that of the ``primitive stratum'' -- Semitic, in this case; Romance words have been assimilated into the Semitic morphology. A further and most melancholy similarity is that the mixed vocabulary has made the spelling a disaster area, reflecting etymology about as much as pronunciation. (Even Yiddish, composed mostly of Middle High German with only about 10% admixture of Hebrew vocabulary and even less Slavic, uses the Hebrew character set in two very different ways for words with different etymologies. Medieval Hebrew and Arabic were both more successful in absorbing large amounts of Greek.) One familiar bit of etymological spelling is the aitch, which is silent as in Italian -- with one significant exception.

Like Serbian, Maltese is written with a character set that contains an aitch-bar (an aitch with a bar through the middle of the riser). (Note that Serbian is written with a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet, though the aitch-bar and J characters appear to be borrowed from the Roman; Maltese is written with a variant of the Roman character set.) The aitch-bar represents an unvoiced pharyngeal fricative. That's like the unvoiced velar fricative /x/ (the sound of ch in Scottish loch and German Bach), but further back in the throat, if you can imagine. In fact, traces of the velar sound still survived in the dialect of the island of Gozo as recently as the 1950's, but there was apparently no phonemic distinction. Both the velar and pharyngeal aitches occur in Arabic, but in Maltese cognates, both sounds are represented by the aitch-bar. At the end of a word, an ordinary h is pronounced like an aitch-bar.

As in Chinese Romanization and as in various Iberian languages (more or less systematically), the x is usually pronounced ``sh.'' [It is sometimes pronounced as ``zh,'' the voiced sibilant in the English word measure. Voicing in Maltese assimilates regressively: if an x is followed by a voiced consonant, it becomes voiced also.] Different quantities (long and short duration) of the general sound represented by x are distinguished phonemically. The difference is comparable to the allophonic difference in German between final sch (long, as in Arsch, Stammtisch, etc.) and initial sch (short, as in schleichen, Schwarze Haus). In Maltese, the longer sound is indicated by a double x.

That Maltese has double-exes might be the best-known fact about the language, on account of the events of 1972. In that year, Standard Oil of New Jersey introduced a new trade name for its products. It had been selling its gasoline under at least three different trade names: Esso, Enco, and (only in Ohio) Humble. It would have liked to have used Esso everywhere, but ever since the original Standard Oil had been broken up in probably the landmark trust-busting action of the US government, there were a number of competing Standard Oil companies that could prevent it from adopting that name. A secretive and expensive computer-assisted search for a new name that could be used everywhere and which meant nothing anywhere eventually yielded ``Exxon.'' [Pronounceability may not have been a major consideration. The word Exxon is unpronounceable in the many languages (including all the Polynesian languages, I believe) that only allow open syllables. The best one can say for this glaring nonuniversality is that among the languages that are almost entirely constructed of open syllables, syllabic n and syllables closed by n are among the more common exceptions to the open-syllable rule. E.g., Italian (esp. the Venice dialect) and Japanese. And that's to say nothing of X itself.]

One thing simplifying the allegedly strenuous search was the claimed fact that Maltese was the only language with a double x. Given that only a few hundred languages are represented by Roman alphabets, it is at least conceivable that the claim is true. On the other hand, confirming that hypothesis would probably have cost Standard Oil of New Jersey more than the few millions it devoted to the name search. Let's agree that double-exes are very probably quite unusual, though it shouldn't be hard to construct a silly compound noun with xx in German. If the term ``box xylophone'' is ever borrowed into German from English, it ought to become ``Boxxylophon,'' although current orthography rules allow a hyphen.

On May 1, 2004, the EU's membership officially increased from 15 to 25, and the number of its official languages increased from 11 to 20. All official documents are supposed to be made available in all the official languages. The costs of translation were estimated to be about 800 million euros before the 2004 expansion. Each new language was expected to require hiring 60 new translators (I think that figure is for Brussels alone). Not every regional and minority language gets to be an official language of the EU, but Maltese got the nod. At the time of accession, no EU translators happened to know Maltese.

Malta had never had a school for translators. It wasn't necessary: Malta's other official language is English, which is as widely spoken as the local one. According to Jan Andersen, the chief translator in Brussels, in 2003 there was a test for translators from Malta. Out of 16 candidates, four made it to the final round, but all failed. I wonder who wrote the exam. Malta is racing to catch up, but Malta isn't the only country with these problems, and as of 2006 most EU documents were only available in a limited number of languages (fewer than 20).

You know, it stands to reason: if your native language is something common like English or French, or a similar language like Dutch or Romansch that makes it easy to learn one of the common languages as a second language, then you're more likely to study something unusual as a second or third language. (Or at least, less likely to find practicality a persuasive reason to study something more common.) The weirder your first language, the more attraction there will be in learning something widely-spoken as a second language. Still, it's surprising they didn't get a Maltese-English interpreter in the first batch. I'd put it up to a tiny country having a tiny applicant pool.

Medical Transcription. Here's an FAQ from Tamarah (Tammy) C. Jensen.

MegaTon. The term occurs most frequently in connection with explosives of the nuclear variety: a ``megaton of TNT equivalent'' (or a ``megatonne...'' for British ordnance) is defined as one petacalorie of energy. (See the end of the calorie entry.)

Meitnerium. Atomic number 109.

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

Message Type.


Middle Tennessee (State University). Also MTSU.


Montana. USPS abbreviation.

The Villanova University Law School provides some links to state government web sites for Montana. USACityLink.com has a page with a couple of city and county links for the state.

MaTthew. Abbreviation common in NT or HJ studies, when the discussion gets hot and GMatthew is too long.

MounT[ain]. With a few exceptions, English names of mountains that include a word with the mount root are either of the form Mount Foobar or Foobar Mountain[s]. Abbreviation of plural: Mts.

{ Mail | Message } Transfer Agent. Code that passes messages between computers, from and to other MTA's and MUA's. Unix examples include sendmail and qmail. sendmail actually made the cover of the New York Times (1998.03.17, give or take a day) when a new version came out with greatly enhanced anti-Spam features.

Massachusetts Teachers Association. Teachers' union affiliated with the NEA. The state also has a competing AFT affiliate, MFT.

Mass Transit Administration. Buses and subway in Baltimore, Md.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority. New York, NY. Includes NYCT, LIRR, MNRR, and SIRT.

The same name was formerly used in Boston (see MBTA) and in Melbourne, Australia (come back and see Met later, after we install an entry). In Los Angeles it could also be used for LACMTA.

Mississippi Teachers Association. The ``colored'' teachers union, back in apartheid days. An affiliate of the ATA, while that existed. Read about its history at the entry for the parallel ``white'' organization, the MEA.

Movimiento de Trabajadores Argentinos. `Argentine Workers' Movement.' Typically, like CTA, described as a ``dissident trade union confederation.'' This refers to the fact that the Argentine trade union movement is dominated by the Peronists: see CGT.

Moving Treasury Average. The 12-month MTA (or just ``the MTA'' for short) is an index that is commonly used as a benchmark for adjustable-rate mortgages. It's a running average computed from the previous 12 monthly values of the monthly one-year Treasury bills.

Midwest Thermal Analysis Forum. ``[D]edicated to promoting the understanding of thermal analysis and related scientific fields in the upper midwest [Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota] of the United States.''

Most Talked-About Friend? Someone on a list I subscribe to used it to refer to his gay lover, but didn't expand it.

Metallic Test Access Unit. Metallic refers to copper communications cable, as distinguished from optical (fiber).

Motor Transportation Broker.

MounTain Bike. (Bike here in the sense of bicycle.) The initialism works in a lot of European languages, since the cognates of both words are widely used. The same order is used in Spanish, French, and Italian, despite the fact that the order BMT would make more sense if the expansion were translated. Why does German also use MTB, despite the fact that German uses Berg instead of a cognate of mountain? I'm not going to dignify that with an answer.

In Spanish, the English term mountain bike has been borrowed as two words. In German, the term has been borrowed and naturalized by removal of the space (and by capitalization, of course): Mountainbike. I shouldn't be, but I'm amused by the regular construct Mountainbikefest.

Methyl Ter-Butyl Ether. A gasoline additive. Here's some info from the WSPA (Western States Petroleum Association). The ether group increases the oxygen concentration (from about zero in ordinary fuel itself) and promotes complete burning (decreasing the CO/CO2 ratio). Gasoline adulterated with MTBE is sometimes called oxygenated gasoline. The EPA has been requiring (it's called ``administrative law'') oxygenated gasoline (and diesel) in areas that were failing to meet clean-air targets. The Los Angeles area, for example. In metropolitan Phoenix (at least when I lived there, until 1990), oxygenated fuel was required only during the summer months, when the air pollution problem was worse).

Many people complain that they get lower gas mileage with oxygenated fuel. I have no idea of the magnitude or sign of the effect. Well, I do have a clue. A few Iowa State Fairs ago, I drove from Indiana to Colorado and back. In some of the states I drove through, you actually had the option of buying gasoline with or without extra oxygenation. In most places, ordinary fuel was priced higher, though in the Denver area the MTBE'ed fuel was more expensive. Both of these trends seem consistent with MTBE lowering gas mileage.

MTBE has also been used as an octane enhancer, but that effect is factored into the octane rating at the pump, so it's not as if you get a higher effective octane rating with oxygenated fuel of the same stated octane level.

Two-stroke engines exhaust a large fraction of their fuel unburned (as much as a quarter in the cheapest and oldest models), and are the common power plant for jet skis and outboard motors. Research shows that this increases the MTBE levels in recreation lakes at the time of major holidays and for a few days after. Jet-ski-industry-funded ``research'' disagrees.

The problem is not restricted to recreation lakes. A small ether like MTBE is polar and dissolves in water, unlike gasoline and most of the other things in gasoline. (The solubility is part of the reason that MTBE levels in lakes fall.) Also unlike a lot of other stuff in gasoline, MTBE is not broken down by bacteria. As a result, when gasoline is spilled, MTBE is the one item that efficiently diffuses into the ground water.

MTBE gives water a turpentine taste. That's a known effect. MTBE might be a carcinogen. That's a guess -- I'm not sure that there is any evidence for this. It's clearly not an especially good thing to drink, although whether the quantities getting into the water supply are having significant health effects is not known. In the summer of 1999, after weighing the known benefits of decreased air pollution against the unknown dangers of water contamination, the EPA reversed its earlier position and now wants MTBE banned in gasoline.

Mean Time Between Failures. Mean Time Before Failure.

It is a statistical curiosity that for a Bernoulli or Poisson process, these two times are the same. To be precise, consider a sequence of times . . . t-2, t-1, t0, t1, t2, . . . . We suppose that these times were determined by a Bernoulli process. Briefly, we assume that for any tiny time interval dt, the probability that a failure occurs during the interval is r × dt.

Thus, if we start a timer from any given moment (whether or not a failure has just occurred and been repaired or not is immaterial: the Bernoulli process has no memory), then the probability that the timer can run for a finite time interval t with no failure occurring is exp(-rt), giving a mean time before failure of 1/r. The counter-intuitive nature of the Bernoulli process lies in the constancy of this number: If, at time zero, the mean time before failure is 1/r, and we happen to experience a time interval T during which no failure occurs, then we intuitively expect the mean time to the next failure to decrease, perhaps to 1/r - T. The fact that the process is probabilistic implies that T will sometimes exceed 1/r, so that hypothetical formula, which would predict a negative expectation of a positive quantity, is clearly wrong. The source of the problem lies in our quotidian experience of probability. If the failure is one of human health, then we might take the ``mean time to failure'' as the life expectancy. If the life expectancy at 30 is 45, then we surely do not expect that the life expectancy at 75 still to be 45. We expect more like zero, which is closer to the truth. In general, though, life expectancy decreases less rapidly than one year per year. In some age ranges it can stay nearly constant or actually increase, as a cohort passes through a dangerous period (first year of birth) or through a filter interval that takes the unhealthy (the seventies is such a period) in an inhomogeneous population. Gamblers reckon with intuition that they may be ``overdue'' for luck to go their way.

Returning to the general problem formulated in a sequence of times, it is clear that if we number the sequence of failures so that t0 is the last failure before the time zero, and t1 is the first failure after the time zero, then the mean time before failure from time zero is <t1> = 1/r, and similarly the mean time elapsed since the last failure before time zero is -<t0> = 1/r. The mean time between failures #0 and #1 is < t1 - t0 >. Why can't we just say that < t1 - t0 > = < t1 > - < t0 > = 1/r - (-1/r) = 2/r ? It seems that the mean time between failures is really 2/r, twice the mean time to failure (measured from any arbitrarily determined moment).

The problem is that the numbering of the failure-time sequence introduces a correlation between different times; we enter the domain of order statistics. To see the problem, we first ignore the condition established to assign numbers to the failures. There is a probability distribution function for t1 - t0 : We write the probability that t1 - t0 falls in the interval t < t1 - t0 < t + dt as P10(t) dt. Well bully for you, you caught me with my pants down. I haven't finished writing the entry yet. Gimme a break.

Mean Time Between Incidents.

Mean Time Between Part Replacements.

Mean Time Between Repairs. This is a stealth pun. See, however, comments at MTTR.

Mean Time Between System Interruptions.

Manhattan Theatre Club. An Off-Broadway institution, although as a matter of geographic fact, it took over the newly restored Biltmore Theatre on Broadway in autumn 2003.

Apparently Nemesis prefers Off-Broadway companies to stay off Broadway. The very first production at the Biltmore, Richard Greenberg's new play ``The Violet Hour,'' suffered two actress defections, one rather late. Laura Benanti left during September rehearsals because of ``artistic differences,'' according to MTC. (Benanti was replaced by Dagmara Dominczyk.) Jasmine Guy quit during an intermission of a preview performance, less than two weeks before the November 6 opening (her understudy, Robin Miles, took over the role).

On December 3, 2003, during rehearsals for Neil Simon's ``Rose's Dilemma,'' Mary Tyler Moore (``Rose'') was seen storming out the backstage door minutes before the 2 p.m. curtain. This was apparently her reaction to a letter from Neil Simon demanding that she learn her lines. Everyone involved made a public expression of deep and undying love and admiration for everyone else involved, or at least refrained from getting personally nasty. Patricia Hodges, Moore's understudy, was named the new lead. The play previewed for theater critics as scheduled on December 12, ahead of the official opening on December 18.

There were conflicting reports regarding the precise circumstances of MTM's departure. One uncredited report published by the Press Association (and slightly garbled by the Sunday Telegraph) claimed that Simon's letter, hand-delivered by his wife, actress Elaine Joyce, was an ultimatum ``apparently demanding that she learn her lines `or get out of my play'.'' [Emphasis added by me. I mean, you don't expect italics in wire stories, do you?] Her publicist Mara Buxbaum said in a statement that her feelings were badly hurt and that ``Mary has been working tirelessly for months but feels pushed out of this production.'' [My italics again.] Simon made no public comment until the 12th, when he implied that his letter had been sent the day before MTM stormed out, and claimed that he had threatened that he would leave the play if she didn't learn her lines. Simon's description of the letter's contents seems to better explain Buxbaum's ``feels pushed out'' wording than does the original apparently inferential report of the letter's contents.

Although MTM's best-known work has been on television, which has a smaller burden of memorization, she has done ``legit'' theater. Her most recent stage performance in New York City was in the 1988 Broadway production of A.R. Gurney's ``Sweet Sue.'' She also acted in a 1966 musical version of ``Breakfast at Tiffany's,'' (1966), which closed in previews, and in ``Whose Life Is It, Anyway?'' (1980), which ran for 96 performances. Her appearance in ``Rose's Dilemma,'' Neil Simon's 33rd play, would have marked her Off-Broadway debut.

Neil Simon, like many other playwrights, is known to make extensive changes in plays that he feels are not working. Anonymous informants all seem to agree that the play wasn't getting the laughs he was aiming for, and that he had been making substantial revisions. You know, Simon isn't director for the play. If he hadn't been making substantial revisions, his threat to leave would have been rather empty. Before MTM left, the premiere had been pushed back from an originally scheduled date of December 9.

``Rose's Dilemma'' was first staged in February 2003 at the Geffen Playhouse in LA. Its title there was ``Rose and Walsh,'' starring Jane Alexander and Len Cariou in the title roles. In a Variety review, Phil Gallo wrote that it ``could well see extended runs anywhere it's staged --- even Broadway.'' (In the move to New York, almost everyone was replaced. David Esbjornson, the play's director at the Geffen, was replaced by Lynne Meadow, artistic director at MTC. One of the four actors stayed with the production -- David Aaron Baker, in the role of Clancy, a young writer.)

``Rose'' is a play à clef based on the relationship of Dashiell Hammett (Walsh) and Lillian Hellman (Rose). Walsh, dead five years but visible to Rose and the audience, wants to give up the ghost -- leave his old haunts -- in two weeks. He reveals to Rose the location of his unfinished manuscript (``Mexican Standoff'') that needs a final chapter of 40 pages, and which will assure her financial security. If you know the styles of Hammett and Hellman, you realize that Rose can as easily finish this work as Mother Goose can finish the report of a chemical analysis. The ghost of Walsh recommends that that last chapter be ghosted by Clancy, author of a book Walsh found in his robe pocket. The basic problem with the original play, and probably the problem in New York, was getting the premise established. The initial going was slow.

There are elements in this play of Neil Simon's ``Jake's Women.'' Jake is a writer who has imaginary conversations with seven women in his life -- just a little bit like the Eagles' Glenn Frey singing ``Take It Easy.'' (One of Jake's imaginary interlocutors is his first wife -- who died young, like Simon's.)

Just for laughs, let's refocus on the head term. It contains the word Manhattan. One of the main reasons that people have been saying that theatre is dying in New York is that it costs a fortune to put on a show. That's probably a major reason why it really is dying. Hence, the only shows that get a chance on Broadway are perceived sure things. If costs could be reduced, more people might attend (the market for entertainment can't be too weird) and there would be more variety in plays, appealing to a broader potential audience. Why not New Jersey? Hey -- the Meadowlands sports complex worked out. (See NJSEA.)

Mass Transfer Condition.

Midwest Torah Center. A shul (synagogue and school) in South Bend, Indiana, that opened in November 2006. They seem to be under the Orthodox Union umbrella, but they emphatically welcome Jews of all ``streams,'' as the observational flavors are known. (``Our hope is to make the Torah Center the `Barnes and Nobles' [sic] of Judaism, creating a relaxed and non-judgmental environment. Our desire is to show the relevance and beauty of Judaism and draw one closer to the Torah with color, class and vibrancy.'') Among their less traditional offerings is Shabbat-in-a-Box (``For just $44.00 per box, you can have all you need for a wonderful Shabbat meal for four (4).'' Oy.)

Multi-Threshold CMOS.

Minimum Throughput Class Negotiation.

Mother-To-Child Prevention. Treatment focused on preventing a child from being infected with the mother's disease, particularly AIDS. Probably in correlation with their attitude to abortion, people may or not feel that in principle, a word like ``prospective'' should precede ``child'' and sometimes ``mother'' in the preceding.

Many people working in the field are very fussy about distinguishing between HIV infection and AIDS, at least in public. People who are HIV-positive but asymptomatic are PLHIV, in a currently favored acronym. But in practice, when speaking of transmission, I notice people tend not to speak of ``passing the measles virus.''

Not only is this intellectual terrain mined with shibboleths, but the term MTCP itself seems squeamishly to avoid naming what it is one wants to prevent. [At three removes! One wants to prevent transmission (1) of an agent (2) that causes a disease (3).] It suggests that ``mother-to-child'' itself might be a thing one wants to prevent. There's good news on this: an alternative term, the acronym PMTCT (Prevention of MTCT (below), is gaining in popularity.

Mother-To-Child Transmission. Transmission of disease from a woman to her fetus. A term especially common among epidemiologists and others concerned with HIV/AIDS. There is also a term PMTCT (Prevention of MTCT), which may now be more common than its synonym MTCP. This is good news, at least because MTCP and MTCT are hard to distinguish in speech.

Maximally Tolerated Dose. That's the expansion I've seen in books, but it's obviously nonsense. In most cases where you'd want to know the MTD, the dose that would be tolerated maximally, or best, would be zero. In practice, MTD really means maximum tolerated dose.

Multi-Training Exercise. Military usage.

Mean Time to Failure. Or Median Time to Failure. Usually, if anyone is taking the concept seriously enough to determine MTF from empirical data, median is meant. It's always faster, and usually much faster, to find out how long it takes for half of a set of devices to fail, than to wait around to see how long each one lasts and take an average.

In the field of device testing for electromigration failure, the acronym also refers to a specific technique described by F. M. d'Heurle and P. S. Ho: ``Electromigration in thin films,'' in Thin Films -- Interdiffusion and Reactions (eds. J. M. Poate, K. N. Tu and J. W. Mayer) p. 250 (New York: Wiley, 1978).

Definitely see the MTTF entry.

Modulation Transfer Function.



The ordinal-number name corresponding to the cardinal number m.


Mobile THEL. A defensive weapon.

Status as of October 2004: there have been a few demonstration successes against mortars and rockets. The most recent tests were against ``mortar rounds and mortar rounds fired in a salvo'' on August 24. Test conditions have never been very stringent and there are many doubts about the system's effectiveness in a real-world ``test.'' The system is considered bulky and not really very ``M.'' Needless to say, it's very expensive. Deployment is not expected before 2009.

Oh, all right. THEL stands for Tactical High-Energy Laser. In the context of missile systems, tactical is almost a synonym of mobile, and THEL seems to be used interchangeably with MTHEL and M-THEL.

MethylTetraHydroFuran. Probably 2-methyltetrahydrofuran.

M thru F
What is this, some kind of coded sexist message?

Material Technology International, a vendor of III-V semiconductor and superconductivity substrates.

Moving Target Indicator.

Many Thanks In Advance. Modest form is unshouted: mtia.

Merged Transistor Logic (alternative and now-more-common name: I²L).

H. H. Berger and S. K. Wiedmann: ``Merged-Transistor Logic (MTL) -- A Low-Cost Bipolar Logic Concept,'' IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits, vol. SC-7, pp. 340-346 (October 1972).

K. Hart and A. Slob: ``Integrated Injection Logic: A New Approach to LSI,'' IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits, vol. SC-7, pp. 346-346 (October 1972).

Mary Tyler Moore. Also the production company started for her eponymous and fondly remembered show. Their logo was a parody of the MGM lion and featured a kitten. Mary Tyler Moore earlier costarred as Dick's wife on the Dick Van Dyke Show.

Music Theory MidWest. An annual conference.

MounTaiN. Cf. Mt.


Made To Order. Abbreviation used in advertisements for some chain -- of restaurants, I guess.

Mediterranean Theater of (military) Operations. To judge from Arthur Heller's novel, Catch-22, this was the theater of the absurd.

Cf. ETO, PTO. At least WWII didn't have any serious casualties in the STOW.

Maximum TakeOff Weight. It's good to set bounds. You don't want to end up looking like one of those anorexic runway models.

Meet The Press. A Sunday television game show which pits politicians and journalists against each other as contestants.

Message Transfer Part.

MetaTarsoPhalangeal (toe joint).

Mass Transit Railway. The Hong Kong subway.

Materials Test Reactor. A high-flux nuclear reactor for rapid testing of materials in a high-radiation environment. Construction of an MTR was first authorized by the AEC in 1948.

The Science and Engineering of Nuclear Power (Cambridge, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1947), edited by Clark Goodman, was written with the purpose of ``present[ing] the fundamentals of chain-reacting systems in terms that are understandable to the non-specialist, particularly to engineers interested in the industrial applications of nuclear energy. Progress in this field requires the coordinated effort of many branches of science and engineering, particularly during the next several years. Gradually, the responsibility will devolve to a new breed of specialists, already dubbed nuclear engineers.'' (Quoted text from Clark's preface.) Chapter 10, ``Heat Transfer,'' is by E.R. Gilliland, a rare engineer among scientists. He even provides a short table of conversions between engineering units (you know: good ol' Btu, feet, °F) and, uh, other units. He comments drily (p. 323):

    In removing heat from a reactor, there are a number of considerations, but to an engineer, the chief one appears to be that the physicist prefers that he keep his equipment out of the reactor. Apparently, nearly any material used in the reactor is objectionable. If a gas like helium is used, while not objectionable from its nuclear properties, it is not a good moderator and hence increases the size of the reactor. Many of the liquids require structural materials for the passages through which they flow that are objectionable in thermal reactors.

MounTainS. Plural of Mt. Typically occurs in the names of mountain ranges.

Message {Transfer|Transport} System.

Michigan Theological Seminary.

Multichannel Television Sound.

Memory Time Switch CMOS.

Mobile Telephone Switching Office.

Middle Tennessee State University. Also just plain ``MT.''

Median Time To Fail[ure]. Or Mean Time ... Some authors try to use the two acronyms MTTF and MTF (q.v., please) to distinguish the two: I've seen MTF for median and MTTF for mean in the same paper, but this distinction is inherently unstable and unmemorable.

Mean Time To Repair.

The usual formula for computing how long a task will take is to start with the amount of time it should take, multiply by two, and switch to the next, larger unit of time measure. (Forget fortnights. If it should take a week it'll take two months. Relax, it was ever thus.)

Not that anyone is taking this concept very seriously, but median time would be a lot more meaningful than mean time. After all, we know there are repairs which will never occur (this is too often intentional), for which a time is problematical to define at best, and infinite at worst. Thus, the Mean TTR is correspondingly problematical or infinite, while the median is unaffected by odd stuff at the edges of the probability distribution. Now you understand why the simple arithmetical average is called ``mean.'' [Actually, the real etymology is interesting too: mean, like French moyen meant `common, middle' and followed the downward path of the word vulgar in common usage. See villein entry for similar story.]

See related comments at MTF.

Message Transfer Unit.

Michigan Technical University. ``Michigan Tech.''

Mobile Treatment Unit.

Music TeleVision. It was originally a single cable channel showing rock videos. They've since spun off MTV2 and VH1, and own CMT, TNN, Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, and right of first refusal on your eyeballs, so now MTV stands both for the company and for one of its channels. The prime-time programming on their flagship channel nowadays is more than 50% puerile game shows, reruns, and other dross, instead of music videos, the original dross.


Mass Transfer Zone. Nothing to do with bus transfers or mass transit.

Marginal Utility. The rate of change of total utility (TU). MU is defined as the slope or derivative of the TU, or as the change in TU from the smallest unit change in consumption (of one of the goods that TU is a function of). For an out-of-left-field discussion of how consumption demand is determined by marginal utility rather than total utility, see this sequence of postings: (1) (2) (3) as well as this offlist comment

Marquette University. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

(Domain code for) Mauritius. Apparently this is not the same place as Mauritania (.mr).

Memorial Union. Student Union at ASU. Probably elsewhere as well. In St. John's, Newfoundland, they made an entire university as a memorial. More at the Memorial entry.

4-MethylUmbelliferone. Also 4-MU.

University of Missouri-Columbia. ``Mizzou.'' Part of the University of Missouri System.

Multiple-Unit. Designates a system of railways and streetcars in which a single set of controls actuates two or more diesel or electric locomotives or power cars, with only control and not power cables connecting the units. When the motors so controlled are on passenger cars and not separate locomotives, the term DMU or EMU, as applicable, is used for each car in the train.

Mail User Agent. Passes mail between user and an MTA. The rest of this entry is obsolete, unless your computer is too.

Unix MUA's include codes like:
mailx (the unix Berkeley shell distribution /usr/ucb/mail), the X-windows application xmail, mh, xmh, and flora like Pine or ELM.

You can also use the MUA built into Netscape. Beware, however: if you're using Unix, you're quite possibly allowing many of your emails to accumulate in the system mail spooler, rather than saving them onto your own disk space (in mailx, you do this by PREserving the file rather than explicitly saving it into a mail folder or allowing it to be saved into a default mailbox like ~/mbox). Netscape, oriented as it is to a personal computer community that retrieves mail before it can read it (typically using POP) will download your possibly bloated mailbox on the system mail spool (i.e., the mailserver's disk space, /var/spool/ say) before you know what hit you. I wouldn't want to be around to see what happens if you go over quota or exceed disk space as Netscape tries to download. On the bright side, Netscape doesn't use some dog-Am proprietary format to store mails in mailboxes, so after you run this experiment, assuming you have the disk space to survive it, you can go back to using an honest-to-God Unix application to read your mail, including the stuff hidden in .netscape/ . Just a word to the wise.

Claris Mail is probably available only for Macintosh

Major PC MUA's are available in both Macintosh and IBMish versions:
  • Eudora. This comes in Lite and full-feature versions; the full-feature versions have ``filters'' for automatically sending certain mail to the garbage. This works like a killfile for a newsreader. I recommend Eudora because I never hear complaints about it, have some long-ago satisfactory personal experience with it, and I do hear complaints about Netscape and especially about the MS products. As of June 2002, you can download Eudora Pro and pay $40 to use it or else have an ad appear. Alternatively, you can use Eudora Lite for free. It's named after Eudora Welty (really), so what more could you want? (Eudora Welty's story ``Why I Live At The P.O.'' was published in 1941; Eudora the MUA uses POP. The name Eudora is derived from Greek roots meaning `good gift'; the Eudora Lite version is free.)
  • Pegasus Mail. This seems to be an older product than Eudora, and not as popular. For all I know it may be just as good as Eudora.
  • Netscape (Mailer/Messenger) [identified as ``Mozilla'' in headers]. Not recommended. See this document.
  • Mozilla. Son of Netscape, released in June 2002.
  • Microsoft Mail, Exchange, Outlook, Outlook Express. These are big-time antisocial; please read this if you use or are contemplating using a Microsoft MUA to post to a list.

Museum of Underwater Archaeology.

MUltiple Paths, Beyond-Line-of-Sight COMmunications. NASAnese.

Memorial University College. The forerunner of the Memorial University of Newfoundland (see Memorial entry).

Spanish word meaning young man. In certain parts of Venezuela, and nowhere else AFAIK, muchacho blanco (blanco is `white') is the name of a cut of meat.

Midwest Universities Consortium for International Activities, Inc.

Montreal Urban Community Transit Corporation. This was the English name of the STCUM before it became politically incorrect to have one. Conceivably, Montreal may have been written Montréal, though it's not likely to have been pronounced that way.

MultiUser Detector. Used in MC/CDMA.

MultiUser Domain. Also ``Multiple User Dungeon,'' and ``... Dimension.'' There are some FAQ's for MUD's from Usenet newsgroup <rec.games.mud>, maintained by Jennifer "Moira" Smith, who has a homepage with a link to the evil green ribbon conspiracy. Cf. MOO.


mud's sister
An obscure term that occurs in A. E. Housman's ``A Fragment of a Greek Tragedy.'' I rank this at a felicity level tantamount to ``balloon smuggler.''

Housman's ``Fragment'' parodies English translations of Ancient Greek that are awkward and worse, and also parodies a Greek predilection for metaphor. Housman's phrase was suggested by some words in the Agamemnon of Aeschylus (at 494f; speech that different editors have assigned to either Clytemnestra or the chorus): kasis / pêlou xunouros dipsia konis (`the dust, dry sister of the mire,' in Lattimore's translation). In Housman's parody, mud's sister is clearly also dried mud:

  Chorus: Beneath a shiny, or a rainy Zeus?
Alcmaeon: Mud's sister, not himself, adorns my shoes.

Of course, out of context it obviously makes a wonderful dysphemism-as-over-the-top-euphemism for merde.

There are many online copies of Housman's parody, though they probably represent very few original transcriptions of the published work. (Besides the copy linked above, here are three URL's that have stood the test of time: 1, 2, and 3.) The online versions I've seen all give it the title ``Fragment of a Greek Tragedy,'' but the Encyclopedia Britannica is careful (or careless -- I'm not sure which, yet) to give the title with an initial article ``A.'' That is the usual style for new fragments as published in philology journals, and would be appropriate for a parody. The version (from Trinity Magazine, see below) published in Housman's Collected Poems and Selected Prose (Penguin, 1988) uses the shorter title, but that does not entirely settle the question. Please don your dustmask now.

Housman (1859-1936) wrote ``Fragment'' in 1883, and it appeared June 8 of that year in the Bromsgrovian, a publication of King Edward the Sixth Grammar School, Bromsgrove. [That was where he got his secondary education. He also retreated to Bromsgrove in 1882 after an initially promising undergraduate career at St. John's College (Oxford) ended disappointingly. By December 1882 he was working at the Patent Office in London.] Housman reentered academia as a professor of Latin at University College, London, in 1892; the circumstances have been widely retailed. ``Fragment'' was republished by the University College Gazette in 1897, the year after Housman published A Shropshire Lad at his own expense. (Sales of the latter were initially slow, but they picked up by the time of the Boer War, and during WWI it became enormously popular). Cornhill Magazine republished ``Fragment'' in April 1901. Housman moved to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1911, and Trinity Magazine republished ``Fragment'' in February 1921. Housman remained at Trinity until his death in 1936, but for some reason Yale Review republished the parody in 1928. It went on being republished.

Housman made a considerable revisions for the second (Cornhill) and third (Trinity) publications. In 1927, when Wilbur Cross asked permission for the Yale Review to republish ``Fragment,'' Housman (referring to it by the no-``A'' version of the title) turned down the offer of an honorarium but asked to have a chance to correct the proofs. He also mentioned that he didn't have a copy, but suggested that Cross could find it in Cornhill. When YR did publish it, ``recent changes'' by the author were vaguely mentioned. Interestingly, or perhaps not, apart from a couple of misprints the YR version coincided with the third (Trinity) version, but with the punctuation of the second (Cornhill). (This is by report. If and when I have a look at the Cornhill and, conceivably, the Bromsgrovian, I'll be able to pronounce on the title.)

New York State has an official muffin.

Mutual UFO Network. They have a form and good advice for reporting UFO sightings.

Multiple User Interference. Interference from other users of the same multiple-access system. Also called MAI.

Latin American usage, or at least Argentine, referring to a boy who prefers to hang out with girls or play girls' games.

Spanish, `effeminate.'

MULTI-vitamins. Multi-vitamin tablets.

FYI, the word vitamin is pronounced with a short i in England.

Multicultural. Expressing a diversity of moving personal testimonies of oppression and victimization that lead to a perfect ideological homogeneity.

I was inspired to enter this entry in the glossary by the character of Marie, who can add and multiply but not subtract (see 40). Of course, you remember the one about Noah. (Bear with me, it gets better.)

In case you had a deprived childhood: after Noah opened the ark (or was it the arc?) he told the animals to go forth and multiply. One pair of snakes protested, ``We're adders -- we can't multiply!'' Nevertheless, some time later they came back with a bunch of little snakelets or adderlets or 7483's or whatever they're called, and Noah asked how they did it. ``We used logs.''

Oh! I just knew I'd told that one before. See the etymologically interesting adder entry.

Someone else who really couldn't multiply was Samuel Pepys. He and his dear young wife never had children. The very first entry of his diary mentions that his wife had given him ``hopes of her being with child,'' hopes disappointed the previous day. Hmm. Okay, that was pretty limp. Coming after the snake pun, it was the pits. I can do better than that if I try.

multiplication table
Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) said
There is no national science just as there is no national multiplication table; what is national is no longer science.

(Quoted in Mysli o nauke by V. P. Ponomarev (Kishinev, 1973), p. 121.)

multi-talented athlete
Standout in an Olympic ``demonstration'' sport like bowling (q.v.), snooker, shuffleboard, curling, super-G tiddly-winks, speed chess, synchronized squat-thrusts or head games.

Maharashi University of Management. It's situated in Fairfield, Iowa, but that's just like -- you know -- in the real world. That's not where it's at. Relevant information concerning Iowa can be found in the Dax entry. MUM is pronounced ``mum.'' Maybe it ought to be pronounced ``mmmmmmmmmm ommmm.'' In England ``mum'' means ``mom.'' This is called recherché. Of course, if I hadn't already known it, it would have been recherche.

An appropriate abbreviation for the Missoula's University of Montana.

Why is it appropriate, you ask? Because they restrict students' political speech in ways that are not merely immoral but absurdly so. Read about it in this George F. Will column of October 25, 2007. It's about a student who was removed from his unexalted position as a student senator in the ASUM because he spent a penny per voter more than was allowed during the campaign. (If the link dies, let me know and I'll summarize more here.)

The initialism common on the university's own pages is the inferior and ambiguous UM. Maybe we could compromise on the filled pause, UMM?

Multi-User MEMS Processes. Visit this page.

Memorial University of Newfoundland. Most of our content on MUN is at the Memorial entry, for technical reasons.

Model United Nations. The presence of their acronym expansions here can not be taken as an endorsement of the MUN or of the UN.

mung, MUNG
Modify, esp. destructively. Once expressed something done to a data file. Now often used to describe the action of modifying an email address to prevent its automatic harvesting for spam purposes (see spam trap).

The etymology of mung is uncertain. The cluster of meanings represented by French manger, Italian mangiare, English munch and mange represents one obvious possibility, but would imply a ``soft gee'' and a spelling like munge. An alternative that gives the right consonant is derivation from a past-tense form of the verb ming (now mingle).

By 1960 at MIT, the word had become a backronym, with imputed expansion Mash Until No Good. Later, the XARA MUNG Until No Good became popular.

The information that is both in the mung entry of the Jargon File (version 4.4.7) and in this entry is from the former. The OED2 does not give any hackish senses, but its examples suggest that the old word mung, in senses related to mingle, had not been an entirely obscure word in the US as the computer era began.

mung bean
The mung bean, or mung, is a leguminous plant with light-green seeds, widely cultivated in tropical Asia. One educated Taiwanese told me that it is considered one of the kinds of rice. It is grown as a pulse (you need to read this entry) in South Asia, and also as green fodder. Also, the food sold as ``bean sprouts'' is the sprouts of mung bean.

What happened to this entry!!??

mung friends
Like peasen a pod. Bean companions.

Muni, MUNI
MUNIcipal railway. City transit operator in San Francisco, CA, including the historic cable cars as well as bus, trolleybus, and streetcar (trolley car) lines. Cf. BART, CalTrain, GGT.

MUlti-channel Network Interface Controller. THe term was coined by Siemens, a German company. Munich is the English name of the Bavarian capital, known as München in German.

MUltiple REflection of X-rays.

Multidisciplinary research program of the University Research Initiative.

Multidisciplinary is very fashionable in government research funding these days, and they're getting increasingly serious about it: they don't want a bunch of Lone Rangers who only meet at funding reviews.

muriatic acid
Commercial name of hydrochloric acid [HCl(aq)]. The name comes from the Latin muriaticus, `pickled in brine,' from muria, `brine,' which is not independently attested in other languages.

A small diving bird, but it makes a long skid mark on the Scrabble tablelands.

`Mouse' in Latin. The English word mouse is not derived from Latin mus or Greek mûs, but is simply a cognate going back through proto-Germanic (like German Maus) to an Indo-European root. Cognates are found in Slavic languages and Armenian.

The diminutive Latin form musculus is also the basis of words for muscle, mussel, shoulder, and thigh in various Romance and Germanic languages. Some Romance languages also preserve the root for an animal name (French mouche) and some don't. Spanish uses the word ratón. This is puzzling because it looks like an augmentative form of rata, `rat.' I would presume that the -on in ratón is related to the identical French and Occitan diminutive ending (cf. aileron and lumignon), but Corominas y Pascual prefer more complicated explanations.

Musca. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation. Musca is Latin for `fly,' the common insect; mus is Latin for `mouse,' the common rodent. Spanish `fly' is mosca; Spanish fly isn't.

MUltipoint Switching And Conferencing unit. Term coined by Siemens, a German company. Name is uncomfortably reminiscent of Muzak, which looks like German.

Software for searching and viewing Classical text CD-ROM's from TLG and PHI.

Medical University of South Carolina. Cf. musk.

Museo del Objeto del Objeto
A Mexico City museum founded in 2010. The literal translation `Museum of the Object of the Object' corresponds fairly accurately. The Spanish nouns ``objeto, objetivo, propósito'' stand in similar semantic relationships to ``object, objective, purpose.'' In particular, appropriate contexts make the first word equivalent to the other two. A propósito [`By the way, À propos'], ``appropriate contexts'' tend not to include highly idiomatic expressions.

The name (Museo del Objeto del Objeto) is somewhat clever, but it'd've been cleverer had it been accurate. One motivation for choosing the name is that it makes an apparent backronym -- MODO. I haven't written that entry yet.


MUltiuser Shared Hallucination. Kristina Pfaff has gathered information on MUD's, MOO's, and other Virtual Environments with an ESL/EFL orientation.

mushrooms, They treat us like
They keep us in the dark and feed us shit.

Other mushroom entries: BMS, CANDU, kombucha.

musical reference
Intertextuality is pervasive in music, even overwhelming. Fortunately, we have very few entries that involve references (in music or not) to music or things musical. The only ones I can track down right now are

Okay, here's another musical reference, of a sort similar to those described in the Day Tripper entry: at the end of the Traffic's ``Dear Mr. Fantasy'' (at the end of a standard studio version that appears in some album) the guitars start doing some power-chord riffs from the Moody Blues song ``Ride My See-Saw.''

music font
A ``music font,'' as the term is used on the internet, does not refer to a special symbol font for writing clefs, notes, joins, pauses, etc. Instead, it generally refers to fonts of ordinary characters stylized for use on album covers and such. Dang.

music for snorkeling
(BTW, don't wear headphones in the water. There are more certain ways to commit suicide. More below.) Now the list:

Doubtless there are whole albumsful of snorkeling songs. The above are just the ones that have come to mind in the last few years.

If you plan to listen to any of these using electronic sound reproduction equipment, wait until you're back on dry land. Water conducts (come back some day and read the future torpedo entry), and it's hard to hum along in noseplugs and mouthpiece, to say nothing of a shroud.

The relevance of water saltiness, although Sheik does not sing the details, is that dissolved salt makes water denser, and thus makes a swimmer more buoyant. Counterweights are thus necessary for snorkeling in it, and the song is appropriately downbeat. (Salt water is also a better conductor of electricity.) I remember that my tenth-grade English teacher (the second one, after my dad had me removed from Honors English), Mr. O_________, criticized me for using an extended simile involving water waves, crushing youthful literary aspirations I didn't even have, but it didn't involve punning, and anyway he (Mr. O) also insisted that it was Aristotle and not Democritus or anyone else who came up with the idea of atoms, which shows how much he knew, but I don't recall his ever criticizing my extended run-on sentences, but then again maybe that stands to reason. Whatever. Getting back to the subject: when I finish the item on burping the alphabet, I'll link to it from here.

music to celebrate a tornado
Just to be clear and explicit, or at least explicit: many kinds of music are appropriate to celebrate that a tornado has passed, but not all songs celebrate that a tornado has passed at all. Pharrell Williams's song ``Happy'' is in the second category. It begins by conceding the apparent incongruity of being happy in the circumstances: ``It might seem crazy what I'm 'bout to say....'' But the chorus affirms ``Because I'm happy... Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.''

Celebration of tornadoes is a perennial theme in popular music. Lionel Richie's 1986 hit, ``Dancing On The Ceiling,'' also asks listeners to clap their hands. What goes around comes around, pretty fast. But the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis hit, ``Can't Hold Us'' -- the one which features Ray Dalton singing ``So we put our hands up like the ceiling can't hold us'' -- celebrates earthquakes and not tornadoes. That's obviously the reason why the official video has a seaplane and a camel. (A plane is a safe place to be during an earthquake, but landing strips may be damaged. And being trapped in the rubble of a collapsed tent is fairly survivable.)

An animal harvested for its pheromones. Cf. MUSC.

Uh, uh, uh -- look, why don't you go ask at the musterbation entry?

Behaving as you think you should, even though you don't want to.

A ``neat little word'' coined by Albert Ellis, according to Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. (See F.O.O.L.) Apparently Ellis and Dyer agree that musterbation is a bad thing. That's strange -- I thought it was supposed to be natural and ... oh sorry, that was the other word.

Okay, more precisely, so far as I can determine from Dyer's book (at pp. 148-9), musterbation is the inappropriate acceptance of obligations that others somehow impose. This is not Dyer's wording, because his book would have made a short pamphlet if he had preferred clear sentences to unclear paragraphs. It also makes explicit, in the word inappropriate, the presence of at least one unexamined notion. Acceptance of societal norms is not always inappropriate or self-abnegating. And musterbation isn't a ``little'' word, either.

German: `courage.' A noun that is masculine. (You know the etymology of virtue, right? Good. No -- I mean, you know what I mean.)

Some other German words ending in -ut that have a close cognate in English are Blut, Flut, gut, and Hut. The cognates are blood, flood, good, and hood, although in the last case a better translation is usually `hat.'

German Mut is cognate with English mood. The semantic relationship is clearer if you consider that mood has meanings similar to spirit, and that you may en-courage someone by saying ``have some spirit!'' Or, failing that, ``have some spirits!'' Which reminds me, you need to reread this CCC entry.

Getting back to the hood/Hut thing. Let me briefly clarify that -hood in English words like brotherhood and neighborhood is unrelated; it's cognate with the German noun-forming suffix -heit (and later also -keit). The hat Hut is more interesting. With a change to feminine gender it becomes an elevated term with meanings related to `protection.' But back to the concrete Hut, indicated by the masculine gender: I won't tell you what a Panamahut is, but Strohhut and Zylinderhut are `straw hat' and `top hat.' A Fingerhut is a...

(Giving you some space to guess here.)

(Come on, play along!)


`thimble.' And of course, Handschuh is `glove.' It's not just clothing; the Germans seem to have a certain attitude about bodily extremities. The word Bein means `leg.' It's cognate with the English word bone. (Actually, this isn't very innovative. There's evidence that the word always had a narrower sense of `shank,' which was lost in English.)

mutual bitter recrimination
The attractive feature of this form of debate is that... Hmmm. I was going to say that you're virtually assured that at least one side is right, but I guess that's only true if the discussion rises to the level of abstract mud-slinging.

mutual respect
Bilateral hypocrisy.

MUX, Mux, mux
MUltipleXer, MUltipleXing. A mux is often seen travelling in the company of its confederate, the demux, since parties like to receive as well as send. That combination is called a mux for short or more precisely a...

mux/demux, MUX/DEMUX
MUltipleXer/DEMUltipleXer pair.

I should probably say a little about what multiplexing is. The action involves multiple distinct signals that must be bandwidth-limited. For example, because the human ear is insensitive to continuous signals at pitches above 20 kHz, it is possible to apply a low-pass filter (filter out all frequencies above fLP) to any sound and produce a signal that is not audibly distinguishable from the original (to some degree, any recording or transducing device will filter anyway). If this signal is modulated by a constant frequency fM, then the resulting signal occupies the frequency range (fM-fLP,fM+fLP). Multiple signals can be modulated by different modulating frequencies (typically integer multiples of some fM). So long as each of the modulating frequencies differs by more than 2fLP, the modulated signals occupy non-overlapping frequency regions. These signals can be added together and transmitted together on a channel with a broader bandwidth, and the original signals reconstructed by demodulating the component signals.

Eventually, I'll probably add some words to make clear what I mean by ``modulate,'' but for now I want to mention that in practice, telephones economize bandwidth by using a tight low-pass filter -- chopping frequencies higher than 3000 or 5000 Hz, say. This allows the company to multiplex more signals into one channel, but it also means that the sounds ess and eff are virtually indistinguishable over the phone. (It's actually a band-pass filter: very low frequencies are also filtered out. For obvious reasons they also filter out any signal at the frequency of ordinary power supply -- 50 or 60 Hz, in most places -- even more strongly than they would be filtered out just from being on the fall-off of the band-pass.)

  1. Elevator music.
  2. An inhabitant of a region on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River around about Fort Lee, as illustrated on the New Yorker cover for December 10, 2001 (``New Yorkistan,'' by Maira Kalman & Rick Meyerowitz).


A loan word from Russian. Originally, it (and moujik) meant only `peasant.' (Actually, one of my Russian-English dictionaries says it meant and means `Russian peasant.' I take that as an accident of usage.) Now the more common sense of the word ranges from `strong man' and `macho' to `fellow, buddy.' The classic image of a muzhik is a strong guy holding a kettlebell at shoulder level, the weight resting on his forearm. It looks like the approved style for one-handed self-administered whisky-from-a-jug. (In English, of course, only the strong-man acception is common.) The notion that peasants are stronger than city folk is widespread and not entirely unreasonable.

There's an old Russian saying that what is healthy to a Russian is deadly to a German. The form with the nationalities switched is also common, but less so.

Productive infix and suffix for IBM-3000 series machine names. E.g., the IBM 3081 mainframe at UB (University at Buffalo) is (or was, by now, I imagine) <ubvm.buffalo.edu>. Also MVS, as in uokmvsa at the University of Oklahoma (in Norman). I guess em and vee stand for machine and virtual, but VM was already taken by Digital; but I don't know.

(Domain name code for) Maldives.

Maldives is the smallest member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The UNDP has a human development index used to rank countries on the basis of things like life expectancy, education, and income. In 1996, Maldives's six partners in SAARC were ranked from 89 (Sri Lanka) up (or maybe down: Pakistan: 134, India: 135 -- was this close match cooked?, Bangladesh: 143, Nepal: 151, and Bhutan, 158). Wasn't Maldives even ranked? No matter. In Havana on September 6, 1979, Maldives President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom addressed the sixth conference of the Nonaligned Movement (NAM) in these words:

Ours is a small country in relation to the majority of the countries that are represented here. We may lack numbers; we may lack in material wealth; we may lack in technological advancement; in fact, we may lack in many of the material criteria by which progress is measured in the present-day world.

He also said other stuff. Speaking as he did is called ``setting yourself up'' or ``asking for it.''

Materialized View.

Postal code for Mecklenburg-West Pomerania (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 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 entry for its domain code -- .de in this instance.] The area of MV is 23,170 sq. km., and its population was estimated at 1,816,000 for 1997. The same state, under the name Mecklenburg, was part of the old East Germany. East Pomerania was absorbed into Poland at the end of WWII. The capital of the state, through various forms of government, has been and continues to be Schwerin.

The name Mecklenburg basically means `great fortress.' Burg means `fortress,' though it seems to get conflated with berg (`mountain'). The adjective part of the name comes from the Old High German root michil, `big,' as in the old English expression ``mickle and pickle'' (big and small). Hence also the extant expression, ``Many a pickle makes a mickle.'' There seem to have been cognates of mickle in most of the Germanic languages, and English is, typically, unusual in having lost the original form. Maybe it lost twice. The High German form, borrowed northward, seems to come from an ancient borrowing through Gothic of the Greek megalo-, lengthened stem form of mégas. The root is widely represented in Indo-European languages, including that outlier Hittite. The Latin reflex is magnus. So what English lost once or twice it gained back at least a couple of times more.

Motor Vehicle.

MoVe. Name of Unix command for renaming files and directories. If you have to move across partition or to a different storage medium, you may need to cp (and rm at the original location), since you're not just renaming.

Motor-Vehicle Accident. An ER abbreviation.

Museo Archeologico Virtuale. (Italian; calls itself ``Archaeological Virtual Museum.'') Since the initials aren't ordered according to the Italian or English name, I suppose the arrangement is chosen to put a vowel at the end, as almost all Italian words have, and thus suggest the pronunciation emeva.

The site is intended, among other things, to foster a kind of virtual community by providing free web space for those volunteering to build a relevant group of pages.

Mean Volume Diameter. (Diameter of aerosol sphere computed from ratio of mass density to concentration.)

Microwave Video Distribution System.

Multiple-Valued Logic. (Multiple being more than two.)

{ Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana } Veterinary Medical Association. See also AVMA.

Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association of the United States. The MVMA is remembered today for an administrative law case -- MVMA v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. -- which reached the US Supreme Court, where the MVMA lost in 1982. The MVMA was still in existence in 1992, but eventually became or renamed itself the AAMA (which in turn became the AAM in 1999).

Medial Vestibular Nucleus.

Mount VernoN, Illinois. IATA code for the airport there (Mount Vernon Outland Airport). Located within easy walking distance of nowhere.

Multi-Valued Neuron. Neurons, as they occur in artificial neural nets, are like logic gates. (For really biological context, see this other MVN.) Ordinary logic gates are Boolean functions: they depend on inputs which each take values in the domain {0,1} (or differently named but equivalent set of cardinality 2) and yield an output in the same two-valued range. Perceptrons and neurons generalize logic gates: they are continuous-valued functions of multiple continuous-valued inputs. In a slight concession to reality, the range of continuous values is compact. Typically, the domain and range of allowed values are the unit interval or complex numbers on a unit circle. MVN's are intermediate between these: the inputs are continuous, but the output takes a discrete set of allowed values (e.g., the n distinct complex nth roots of 1).

Mitral-Valve Prolapse. Not just a symptom, but a syndrome: a genetic disorder that's a sort of much less dangerous version of Marfan's syndrome.

Most Valuable Player.


Mitteilungen des Vereins Klassischer Philologen in Wien. German classics journal no longer published -- `Contributions of the Vienna Society of Classical Philologists.'

Multiple Virtual Storage. Operating system (OS) for popular IBM 3000-series computers. Full name is OS/MVS. Or MVS/ESA. Introduced in 1988.

Multiple Virtual Storage/Enterprise Systems Architecture.

Multiple Virtual Storage/System Product.

Multiple Virtual Storage/Extended Architecture.

Main Window.

(Domain name code for) Malawi. We don't have much information on Malawi here. You'll have better luck at the EP entry.

Medium Wave. Around 1 MHz.

MW, M-W, M/W
Merriam-Webster (dictionary).

Megawatt. This unit often reminds me of Indonesian leader Megawati Sukarnoputri. The second name is a(n optional) patronymic in the traditional Javanese style. It indicates that she is the daughter of Sukarno (the first president of Indonesia). Sukarno's sons got Sukarnoputra. (Emily Yoffe explained this stuff at slate. (Sukarno and Sukarnoputri are also written Soekarno and Soekarnoputri, with what seems to be slightly less frequency than the -u- forms, and it seems that might be the offocial spelling. I'm sort of surprised that the question could be in much doubt.)

MW, µW
MicroWave. For a report discussing microwave radiation effects on inorganic edible matter, click 'ere.

Minimum Weight (of load or loaded vehicle). Not maximum.

Molecular Weight.

Mystery Writers of America. Yes, yes, I confess! I done it.

MidWest Association for Learning Laboratories. Old name of MWALLT.

MidWest Association for Language Learning Technology.

MidWestern American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. ``[A] regional interdisciplinary association, founded in 1969,'' and affiliated with ASECS. As explained on the homepage, the organization serves ``that region of the United States described in [the MWASECS] constitution as `west of the Allegheny Mountains, north of the Ohio River, east of the Rocky Mountains, and south of Canada.' (Our founders apparently took the long historical view and were skeptical of the stability of political borders!)'' The website designer has selected to illustrate the homepage an old map that labels the region south of the Great Lakes as ``Canada.'' [This other location is currently (2004) equivalent to that linked from the top of this entry.]

Mean (number of) Wafers Between Defects.

Molecular Weight (MW) Cut-off.

Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. Collegiate Dictionary is a euphemism for ``severely abridged dictionary.''

MidWest Conference on East Asian Thought. The Third Annual MWCEAT was held in 2005, and there hasn't been another since. This is either because all outstanding questions on East Asian thought were answered at that time, or because everyone was exhausted by the ten-syllable name. They should have used the initialism proposed by this entry.

Measurement While Drilling (instruments). Something to do with oil and gas drilling. I wouldn't know; ask here. Well, okay: MWD was introduced starting in the mid-1980's. They're heavy-duty instruments mounted around the drill string. They provide downhole data in real time; previously, drilling had to be stopped and the drill string and bit removed to lower-in measurement instrumentation.

A Bantu language spoken in southern coastal Tanzania. In my personal experience, the principal utility of this language is in permitting you to complete the construction of a crossword that has compensatory virtues.

Man Who Has Sex With Men. About as common as MWSWM (``...Who Sleeps With..''), to judge by ghits. It's interesting, because WWSWW is much more common than WWHSWW. I guess men don't hang around afterwards. MSM is the most common of the synonymous M*M initialisms.

Man Who Has Sex With Women. This acronym exists only in principle. To use it would just be weird.

Message-Waiting Indicator.

Motif Window Manager.

Multi-Walled NanoTub[ul]e.

M word
I thought it was taboo to use the M-word on a first date; she told me how her parents met and asked me how my parents met.
U.E. Expert:
A biologist:
[Facial expression conveying ibid.]
Banjo Expert:
I knew that.

You know, there are certain questions people planning to marry don't often ask themselves, like:

Medieval Warm Period. A period of unusually warm weather lasting from about the seventh century to the fourteenth.

MultiWire Proportional Chamber. Georges Charpak won the 1992 Nobel prize in physics for inventing the MWPC in 1968. (They're also called Charpak counters.) I was paid to wire some of these things for an experimental elementary particles group at Rutgers in 1977 and possibly in 1978, and in 1977 I worked at the experimental sites at Brookhaven and Fermilab.

Charpak spent his career at the École Supérieure de Physique et Chimie and at CERN. When I was running the data analysis programs (punch cards on CDC 6400/6600's, sonny boy, with 36-bit words just to be slightly exotic) at Fermilab, I noticed that they were written in Fortran with comments in French. I don't think I ever gave much thought to why, though practically everyone in our group was American (the one exception I can recall was British).

These research groups are very long-lived, so the program might have been coded locally by a Francophone who had moved on before I arrived, but it would have been more efficient just to cadge someone else's code. At Fermilab I also met members of a group from UC Santa Something that decided to save a few bucks on computers by buying Data General machines (Novas?) instead of the PDP-11's that were almost universal at Fermilab experimental sites. The result was that they lost more in extra coding to adapt the widely shared local software than they gained in hardware cost savings.

Major Weapon System.

MultiWire Slurry (saw).

Midwest Symposium on Circuits and Systems.

Before the general interest magazine Midwest was launched, the publishers did some market research, asking among other things which states people in their target region considered to be a part of the midwest. It was reported that Iowa (IA) was the only state that appeared on everyone's list. I think this may have had something to do with the surveying technique. [In 1996, the Midwest Symposium on Circuits and Systems was held at Iowa State.] Be all that as it may, I don't believe that even that idiot survey found very many who regarded California as part of the Midwest. The 1997 MWSCAS was in California. Then again, the 1995 symposium was held in southeastern Brazil.

[column] Oh wait, here's something: The Eleventh Pacific Rim Roman Literature Seminar was held by the Department of Classics, University of Natal, Durban, South Africa, 18-22 June 1997. And they went back to South Africa in 2003! (University of Stellenbosch, in Stellenbosch, South Africa, Wednesday June 25 to Saturday June 28.) I guess they wanted a point that was roughly equidistant from all of the Pacific rim, but not in the Pacific.

Mehrwertsteuer. German, `increased-value tax' (VAT).

Men Who Sleep With Men (for other reasons than a shortage of beds). See MWHSWM.

Man Who Sleeps With Women. That's it?! Just sleeps with 'em? What a pervert! No wonder this concept hasn't been turned into an acronym.

Mail eXchange[r].

(Domain code for) Mexico.

eXperimental Missile. The MX program that was news mostly during the Carter administration just happened to have kept its designation (and of course it never got too far off the drawing board, let alone off the ground).

Module XBus Cache Controller.

Material eXchange Format.

(Domain code for) Malaysia.

Here's the very sparse Malaysian page of an X.500 directory, maybe it'll fill up later.

The way to remember that MY stands for Malaysia and not for its neighbor Myanmar is to think of .my and remember that internet access is illegal in Myanmar. (Pretty much, anyway. Maybe they've had a little political thaw and allowed people to take occasional deep breaths also. If it weren't for countries like Myanmar, countries like Malaysia would look like dictatorships. Hmmm.)

Googling for engine stuff in 2004, I discovered that Myanmar has an industry! It's called PANSAR, which sounds like a Spanish verb that would mean doing something with your belly. (La panza is Spanish for `the belly.' The name of Don Quixote's Sancho Panza was originally spelled Sancho Pança. The second name was pronounced then, and is still pronounced in most of the non-Iberian Spanish-speaking world, like Pansa.) Pansar would probably be a word for doing something quite specific with a belly, but since the verb does not exist, it is equally likely to be anything, such as pounding something with a belly or vice versa, sort of like sumo wrestling. For other Japanese belly information, see the navel exercises entry.

On second thought, there's a Spanish verb pensar, `to think.' When you're seriously hungry, your belly does a lot of your thinking. My mother is slowly writing her memoirs now. They involve a period when she was a refugee, but start when she was a little Jewish girl growing up in Nazi Germany. Concluding one early anecdote, she writes ``so you see, I was interested in food even before it became scarce.''

The myotto of PANSAR is ``everyday in so many ways we are part of you.'' (Rather weak Coué imitation.) I think that one you they refer to is Yanmar Co., Ltd., a Japanese firm. They missed a real opportunity here; they could have called it Anmar, and then your account at the web site (please allow cookies) would be MyAnmar! For more humorous Japanese -- oh wait, we did that already.

Model Year.

My Day in Court
The title of a book by Arthur Train, published in 1939 by Charles Scribner's Sons. An autobiography, it begins `I enjoy the dubious distinction of being known among lawyers as a writer, and among writers as a lawyer.'' He also writes that ``[t]hese reminiscences are in no sense an autobiography.'' The main reason for reading his books is the same as his reason for working too many years (see p. 253) in the DA's office: it's a good source of material.

Some of that material is finding its way into this glossary and lodging in entries such as these:

  1. judge names
  2. supreme court of New York State
  3. trigamy defense
  4. yclepe

Model Year Emissions. I.e., emissions by a particular model year of vehicles.

My Friends
This unusual term has a completely different meaning in the vocative case than any other case. In the vocative case, it means prospective voters.

MalaYsian Network Information Center.

Mind Your Own Business. A mercantile admonition, I suppose.

myrbane, essence of
Nitrobenzene. One of various traditional trivial names. See the entry for essence of mirbane.

myrbane, oil of
Nitrobenzene. One of various traditional trivial names. See the entry for essence of mirbane.

MyRRh's, Myrrh's
MY Regular Restaurant. (The aitch is silent. In fact, in the expansion it's even invisible. The 's is there as a sort of grammatical restaurant marker.) I just invented this acronym because I prefer not to identify the specific establishment in this glossary, and also so as to have a particularly egregious example of a backronym. MyRRh's is not widely used in this sense. In fact, a Google search on <<"my regular restaurant" "MyRRh">> and related queries yield no hits.

MyRRh's is preferable to ``my regular restaurant'' not only because it's brief and because it needlessly inconveniences or confuses glossary readers, but also because it need not be accurate. I mean, if I were to write ``my regular restaurant,'' I'd have to consider whether the phrase is true each time. But MyRRh's merely stands for ``my regular restaurant.'' In the interests of brevity, I can leave out details that might yield MyRRhULY's (``until last year'') or MyRRhiahaU's (``in an [h] alternate universe''). But it happens to be accurate as I write this.

`Maybe You Should Drive.' An album from the BNL.

A city in India and the possessive form of Isore.


Mythology, Classical
Start at this page. (You can also take a shortcut to divine landLords.)

Mach-Zehnder Interferometer.

(Domain code for) Mozambique.

MonoZygotic Twins. (``Identical'' twins: embryos, and individuals, arising from the splitting of a single fertilized egg.) Cf. DZT.

MuZeum of TeleVision, right? One could be forgiven for supposing so -- This is TV, after all. FWIW, however, the MZTV Museum of Television is headed by Moses Znaimer. ``Headed'' here does not mean that when the opponents' goalie drop-kicked television into midfield, MZ tried to return it by bouncing it off his head, unfortunately. Rather, it means he is ``Chairman and Executive Producer, MZTV Museum.'' The position of ``executive producer'' is not common among museums, but this is TV, after all. The museum's main asset is the Moses Znaimer Collection (of superannuated TV sets and related junk). I am informed that Moses Znaimer is a bright light of the TV firmament as seen from Toronto, where the museum is located. He seems to be the TV-industry equivalent of an ecotourism promoter. No general-admission hours for the museum are stated as such (that I can find), but there are guided tours for the public between 2pm and 4pm on weekdays. Perfect for the differently-employed.

Mission Statement (from this superannuated page):

To collect, preserve, and exhibit the World's most comprehensive collection of North American Television Receivers, from the formative, first fifty year period between the 1920s & 1970s. To contribute to the understanding of the impact of television. To help tell the story of television.

Related Goals:

To accumulate relevant books, magazines, videos, discs, photographs, personal papers and ephemera. To provide a learning resource.

Ah, yes -- where would we be without ``learning''? The new improved web site integrates Macintoxic features (too-responsive graphics, nonstandard codepoints for standard characters, etc.) to cleverly reproduce one of the most characteristic features of TV: annoyance. The medium is the message, and the message is annoying. If you want content, like information about museum hours, follow the link for the low-bandwidth/dialup-user site.

Full disclosure: In 1976 I went to a Halloween party dressed as a television (a Zenith ``portable''). It was hard to dance. The next year I obtained superior results by dressing as a pop-up toaster and using the two-quart glass unit from a blender as my beer stein.

Mach-Zehnder Modulator.

The Crab Nebula, a supernova remnant. Vide M###.

The standard infantry gun for US soldiers that was eventually replaced by the M16.

The standard gun for US infantry, it replaced the earlier M1.

The Eagle Nebula, a diffuse nebula. Vide Messier catalog (M###).

Manager-to-Manager. The blind leading the blind.

Andromeda Galaxy. Large galaxy nearest the Milky Way. Vide Messier catalog (M###). Illustrated below.

[d/l from wuarchive.wustl.edu/multimedia/images/gif/a/andromeda.gif]

The Pleiades Nebula, a diffuse nebula. Vide Messier catalog (M###).

The Lagoon Nebula. Vide Messier catalog (M###). Five thousand light-years away, in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius.


M###: M1 to M110
110 Nebulae identified by Charles Messier (1730-1817), labeled in order as they appeared in his catalog (first edition 1781). He catalogued these fuzzy objects that had fixed positions in space in order to speed the identification of then-more-interesting fuzzy objects that do not: comets. It was Kant who first suggested that nebulae might be collections of stars -- i.e. galaxies. That is what many of them turned out to be, but in technical usage, astronomers are trying to restrict the term to something like its Latin meaning of `clouds.' Mark claims the astronomers won that battle decades ago. I must have been away.

Read more here and here.

``Messier'' is not the comparative of ``Messy.'' It's a French name pronounced Messy-ay in English.

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Oops! Overshot the pointers.

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© Alfred M. Kriman 1995-2017 (c)