Meanings “Cob”

There is perhaps no monosyllable in any language that has so many distinct meanings as cob. It may be thought curious to enumerate them. As a VERB, it signifies, 1, to strike; 2, to pull the ear or hair; 3, to throw; and 4, to outdo. As a noun, it stands for-5, a seed-basket; 6, the material of mud walls; 7, a hay-stack of small dimensions; 8, clover seed; 9, an Hiberno-Spanish coin; 10, a lump or piece; 11, a sea-gull; 12, the fish called the miller’s thumb; 13, a harbour, as the Cobb of Lyme-Regis; 14, a young herring; 15, a leader or chief; 16, a wealthy or influential person; 17, a small horse; 18, a spider (whence cob-web); 19, the bird called a shoveller.

That’s from Forebears, a website devoted to tracking down the origins of family and place names.

H/T Language Log

Posted in Meanings | Leave a comment

Meanings: Glamour

February 16, 2019

Screen Shot 2019-02-16 at 1.36.35 PM.pngThe word “glamour” passed before me this morning, someone mentioned the word, and I found myself wondering about its origin.  I could scarcely think of another English language word with the same spelling pattern.  Here’s the etymology:

glamour (n.)

1720, Scottish, “magic, enchantment” (especially in phrase to cast the glamor), a variant of Scottish gramarye “magic, enchantment, spell,” said to be an alteration of English grammar (q.v.) in a specialized use of that word’s medieval sense of “any sort of scholarship, especially occult learning,” the latter sense attested from c. 1500 in English but said to have been more common in Medieval Latin. Popularized in English by the writings of Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). Sense of “magical beauty, alluring charm” first recorded 1840. As that quality of attractiveness especially associated with Hollywood, high-fashion, celebrity, etc., by 1939.

Jamieson’s 1825 supplement to his “Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language” has glamour-gift “the power of enchantment; metaph. applied to female fascination.” Jamieson’s original edition (1808) looked to Old Norse for the source of the word. Zoëga’s Old Icelandic dictionary has glám-sýni“illusion,” probably from the same root as gleam.

So a Scottish root.  And with suggestions of magic and enchantment — but also of occult learning.

Posted in Meanings, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why Brett Kavanaugh Should Not Be Confirmed

I am inclined to believe Christine Blasey Ford’s account and I have serious doubts about Brett Kavanaugh’s denial of what took place between them in 1982. The two accounts are in stark opposition to one another, but, for me, there is enough additional context in the two other accusations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh, in the testimony of friends of his about his behavior as a young man, and in his Yearbook page to make his flat denials simply not credible.

Would I vote to convict him in a criminal case? No, but this matter has not been adjudicated in a way that remotely resembles a criminal case. This is not a criminal case, where the burden of proof rests with the prosecution and the accused has a presumption of innocence. In this matter, a nomination to the Supreme Court, there is no presumption to believe an accused person.  In this kind of consideration, serious doubts about character should count against a nominee.

Nevertheless, these accusations of sexual misconduct are not the reasons I believe any United States Senator should vote AGAINST confirming this nomination. These are the reasons.

First, this President should not be appointing anyone to the Supreme Court. He has shown such unremitting contempt for the rule of law and for the institutions of justice in the United States that no one he appoints should be considered.

This is the most important reason, and it only gains greater weight in the wake of the refusal of the Senate to consider President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland. Here was a duly elected President, one who won a majority of votes and had no stain on the legitimacy of his election making the nomination. Trump not only lost the popular vote and has shown contempt for the rule of law but a Special Prosecutor is working through the question of whether he conspired with a foreign power to steal the election.

Second, Kavanaugh has shown a legal propensity to undermine the accountability of the President and the Executive Branch. These views are in conflict with a proper reading of the Constitution.

Third, we should not appoint to the Supreme Court people who have been deeply involved in partisan politics. Such nominees should be rejected out of hand. Kavanaugh had reasons I do not fault for being involved in the Bush-Gore election matter and in the Starr impeachment investigation, but I believe these should rule him out of consideration for a Supreme Court nomination.

Finally, even if we credit Kavanaugh with reasons to be angry about the accusations of sexual impropriety against him, his opening statement yesterday showed a disqualifying degree of partisanship. Even in the face of provocation, a judge needs to be impartial and measured.

Posted in Governance, Leadership, Politics and Policy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Government of Laws, Not of Men

June 7, 2018

I had an opinion piece in yesterday’s Brunswick Times Record.  It concerns Trump’s claim that he could pardon himself — or rather with unsatisfactory reactions to that claim.

“As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” So said Donald Trump in a jaw-dropping tweet at 5:35 a.m. on June 4. That’s an astonishing claim.

My practice is to pay as little attention as possible to what Donald J. Trump says because what he says is consistently untrue and cruel, often both. But I do make it a practice to notice what others say when Trump lies or crudely demeans. I look to members of Congress, and to business and civic leaders to set a tone for the nation. I look to them to uphold norms of truthfulness, decency and civic virtue. Too often these days I’m disappointed and dismayed.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a constitutional lawyer, was asked by a reporter if he agreed with the president that the president could pardon himself. Eighteen seconds of silence followed before Cruz said “That is not a constitutional issue I’ve studied.”

This claim by Trump is not, fundamentally, a matter for lawyers to settle. It is not a question that requires a law degree or careful study of precedents and the text of the Constitution. This question goes right to the heart of what we, the American people, committed ourselves to in declaring independence from Great Britain in 1776. This is a matter around which all citizens of this nation should today unite simply and clearly.

We are establishing “a government of laws, not of men,” John Adams said. It is a phrase that has been repeated thousands of times: in 4th of July speeches and in moments of political crisis. No one is above the law. No man is a law unto himself. In the pledge of allegiance we all promise over and over again “liberty and justice for all.” That doesn’t permit exceptions for tyrants or presidents – or anyone.

Maine Independent Senator Angus King called the claim “troubling because the implication is that a president can never be held to account.” “Troubling? I hoped I would hear a stronger denunciation, something like “False” or “Unacceptable.”

Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins, waffled even worse, saying that ‘self pardoning’ would be a “tremendous abuse” of Trump’s authority, as well as “remarkably unwise.” That statement from our senior senator seems to accept that a president could pardon himself. Say it ain’t so.

I look to our two Senators, our two Representatives, our Governor and everyone who is running for election or re-election next week to firmly and proudly declare that no man or woman is above the law, that no man or woman can distort the law for his or her own purposes, that we are a government of laws not of men.

This is the fundamental proposition of which Abraham Lincoln reminded a torn and weary nation when he called us “a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” — equally subject to the law.

Doug Bennett is a Topsham resident

Posted in Governance, Politics and Policy, Responsibility and Ethics | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Education-Jobs Connection

June 5, 2018

Timothy Taylor of the consistently informative Conversable Economist blog provides a useful summary of and commentary on the connection — the not very healthy current connection — between our education system (K-16) and the labor market.  Mostly he’s commenting on a recent Council on Foreign Relations Report arising from a task force chaired by John Engler and Penny Pritzker, The Work Ahead Machines, Skills, and U.S. Leadership in the Twenty-First Century.

Here’s the central predicament as Taylor sees it:

It seems to me that a lot of employers would prefer not to be involved in training, and just want educators to do it, while a lot of educators would prefer that employers remain at arms-length from their curriculum and classrooms. I think some of the discomfort of Americans with the US labor market, despite the very low unemployment rates, comes from a concern that our society is not coming to grips with issue of building job skills that lead to secure and productive careers.
Posted in Learning, Mission | Leave a comment