SBF Glossary: D


A programming language
conceived as and unlikely to be a successor to C++

Michael Neumann’s extensive list of

sample short
programs in many other programming languages
also lists
many wonderful
of this language.


deci-, metric prefix from Latin, meaning a
tenth. E.g., 10 dL = 1 L. Easily confused with D, which partly explains the latter’s rarity.


Latin, Decimus. A praenomen meaning `the
tenth,’ typically abbreviated when writing the full
tria nomina. Also “Dec.”
Defense. In ordinary speech, in all dialects I am aware of, the stress
(accent) is on the second syllable of the noun when it does not refer to team
games. A common partisan cheer at (N. American) football and basketball games
is the exhortation DEE fence; pigskin and round ball discussion, over
beer and in the press box, now systematically stresses the first syllable. The
noun has been verbed, and following the ordinary pattern, the verb to
is stressed on the second syllable.

Defense in the sports sense is best regarded as a homograph of its
etymological precursor (the noun with final accent). The verb to
refers to all on-field or on-court actions comprising defense, and
emphasizes the component of strategy. To defend is only a close
synonym. It is generally possible to define what is being defended, and
the person or object being defended can always be named as the direct object
(in the active voice, or as the “retained object” of the passive voice).
This makes sense in chess (“defending the king,” “the center squares are
defended”) but leads to difficulty in some team sports. The earlier common
use of defend in sports got around the difficulty by speaking of
defending the end zone, or defending the middle yardage, but this was never
quite right: the most important piece of substantive information to convey in
the game context tended to be the offensive strategy or tactic against which
defense was deployed. With the verb defend, this requires a
prepositional phrase (against the run, the shotgun, the nickle, the four
horsemen). The verb to defense streamlines communication by making the
offense the default direct object of the verb. (Both verbs can be used

Defense is sometimes called Dee or Big Dee. There is no
corresponding small dee, as there is in politics (vide D infra).

The word offense has undergone a sports-usage development parallel
to defense, with stress shift and associated change in pronunciation
of the initial vowel. Sports offense is not close in meaning to the
ordinary sense of the word, but is instead simply the complement of defense.
Offense is not called O because it might be confused with words
O (introducing the vocative, as in “O
Romeo”) and Oh (the interjection). Offense is not often called
Big O because Big O already means “orgasm.”

North American football did not use separate defensive and offensive
platoons until the forties, around the same time that the D party changed its name. I don’t know when the American
league adopted the designated hitter (DH) rule.

It was Grantland Rice who first dubbed the Notre Dame backfield of Knute Rockne
“the four horsemen.” The phrase alludes to the four horsemen of the
apocalypse mentioned in Revelations. Perhaps he was influenced by a novel by
Vicente Blasco Ibánez that appeared in English with this title in 1918.

Deca- or Deka-, metric prefix meaning ten. E.g., 10 L = 1 DL.
Might be confused with d. It seems deci- got a head
start and elbowed-out the too-similar Deca.
Delta. Not an abbreviation here, just the FCC-recommended “phonetic
alphabet.” I.e., a set of words chosen to represent alphabetic
characters by their initials. You know, “Alpha Bravo Charlie … .”
The idea behind the choice is to have words that the listener will be able
to guess at or reconstruct accurately even through noise (or narrow
bandwidth, like a telephone). Hence, a common word like “Dearth” would be no good because it might be heard
as “Firth.”

Coincidentally, or not, a (river) delta is the thing whose hieroglyphic
or hieratic writing representation came to stand for the /d/ sound, and
which thus gave rise to the letter. Delta remains the name of the
corresponding letter in the Greek alphabet.

Personally, I prefer “Dishwasher.”

Democrat[ic]. In the US, when clarity requires it, one often distinguishes
“small-dee democrat” (a supporter of democracy) and a “big-Dee Democrat” (a
member of the Democratic party). “Small-dee democrat” and “little-dee
democrat” are equivalent. “Big-Dee” has a sports
. A similar usage occurs in Canada:
“small-l liberal” and “small-c conservative.”

The Democratic party evolved quickly in the early days of the republic, around
Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and like-minded individuals who favored weak
central government. (This led to ironies, but what political position
doesn’t?) It evolved from an unofficial government faction and from a number
of independent local “popular societies” in the states, most active in
1790-1800. These societies called themselves “Democratic Society [of Richmond,
say],” “Democratic-Republican Society,” and in one or two cases “Republican
Society.” In public discussion, members typically described themselves as
republicans. (Although after the early heady days of the French Revolution,
the actual practice of French republicanism began to give the word
republican a bad odor, and American “Republicans” of that era were at
pains to distance themselves from it. According to this history offered by the
DNC, it was the National Convention of 1844 that
eventually simplified the Party’s name to the Democratic Party. The Democrats’
earliest opposition was the Federalists (John Adams, Alexander Hamilton), who
never won an election after that of John Adams (see dynasty entry), and that party petered out to the
point where, by 1820, US presidential elections were contested by different
factions of the Democratic-Republican party.

The election of 1824, a four-way race among Democratic-Republicans, was decided
in the House (each state delegation having one vote) when no candidate won a
majority. Second-place finisher John Quincy Adams, who won 31% of the popular
vote, became president when fourth-place finisher and House Speaker Henry Clay
threw his support to him. That election polarized and eventually split the
party along lines of loyalty or opposition to the candidate with a 41%
popular-vote plurality in 1824, populist Andrew Jackson. In 1828, Andrew
Jackson ran and won on the Democratic-Republican ticket against incumbent John
Quincy Adams. Adams ran as a “National Republican,” member of a grouping
that took in some of the former Federalists. The National Republican party
evolved into the Whigs, which eventually went on to form a part (with Free-Soil
and others) of the Republican party, whose first elected president was Abraham

Many Republican Party members use the name
“Democrat party,” but I can find no evidence that Democrats ever used
“Democrat” as the name or part of the name of their party. Some Republicans
may regard this usage as a way of insisting that Republicans are democratic too
(but they are also democrats too, so I don’t see much force in the argument).
Mostly, this usage is simply rude: nonstandard use of an attributive noun in place of an
appropriate adjective is pejorative (e.g. … I can’t think of any
examples I would be willing to put above my name).

In the book mentioned at this other entry (p. 20),
Senator Sam Ervin is quoted thus:

I have been trying to reform Republicans all my life and have had virtually no
success, but I would like for them to adopt good grammar and quit using the
noun “Democrat” in lieu of the adjective “Democratic.” If I can teach the
Republicans that much grammar, I will feel that my effort to educate them has
not been entirely in vain.

Sam Ervin is also credited with this assessment (p. 23) of the mental health of

The American people have a simplistic faith in law. Our great national
delusion is based on the fact that we have a childlike faith that anything
wrong in our civilization can be abolished by law and that all of life’s
problems lend themselves to legal solutions. It is doubtful whether many
people who are in custody in institutions for the mentally ill in our land
suffer under a greater delusion than that.

(Eventually, I’ll have to put in an entry on how the mentally ill were
cruelly and with the best of intentions de-institutionalized in the years

Pride of place in that book (pp. 1-5) is taken by some folksy antifeminism
that will probably seem both hilarious and sage if you are a folksy
antifeminist. Catharine A. MacKinnon is an unfolksy feminist, but there is
common ground between her and Sam Ervin. A collection of her speeches
[Feminism Unmodified : Discourses on Life and Law,
Harvard U.P., 1987)] includes an edited version
of her side of an ERA debate with Phyllis
Schlafly. Much of it reads like a carefully crafted ad hominem attack
on her opponent (in other words, like a typical debate), but it does include
some substantive claims…
At page 26:

Now I want to consider with you the role of the law in the future of women’s
rights. The law alone cannot change our social condition. It can help. So
far, it has helped remarkably little.

At page 27:

I am clear that everything women need will not be accomplished by the ERA, and
not by law alone.

The last four words were made the chapter title.

It must be conceded that MacKinnon had an ulterior motive for making modest
claims: one of the greatest fears driving opposition to the ERA was that once it
was constitutional law, the courts would interpret it ad libitum, with
no end of mischief. The strongest precedent for this belief was civil rights
juris(im)prudence that included affirmative action
and busing.

In a perverse
way, MacKinnon was right: although the ERA failed, the Supreme Court has
interpreted other laws in an expansive way that obviates the need for an ERA.

Denier. A metric unit that is used to measure fiber fineness. “Fineness”
is typically thought of as average cross-sectional area, but the denier is a
unit of linear mass density. The linear mass density is equal to the ordinary
density (mass per unit volume) times the cross-sectional area, so when one
is comparing materials of equal or similar density, the ratio of that area and
that linear density is constant, and D can be thought of as a unit of either.

The language used for the discussion of fibers is sloppy in practice, but if
you simply regard “fineness” as a mass density and ignore any
contradictory claims, you’ll be okay.
That’s what I’ll do moving forward (through this entry).
[You also have to reinterpret some other
quantities. For example, “tensile strength,” when stated in units such as
gf/D, is really tensile strength divided by density. (Here gf is a common,
alas, abbreviation of “grams force.”)]

One denier is one gram per 9000 meters. Thus, for a mass density of 1 g/cc, a
fineness described as 1 D represents an average cross-sectional area of
(10/9) × 10-6 cm2, or a diameter of
about 11.894 microns (yeah, wistful precision).

Oftentimes, the density will not be stated but both the fineness and diameter
will. In that case, you can compute the mass density as f/a, where
f and a are fineness and area, and D/μm2 =
(1000/9) g/cc.

Look, I know you can do this simple arithmetic, and maybe these are not your
favorite units, but the only reason I’m writing this entry at all is that I’m
trying to extract some information that’s reported in these cussed units.

Even more convenient: density is (4/π) f/d, where d
is diameter and 4D/πμm2 = 141.47 g/cc.

Mass density is a useful thing to know, because it’s a good clue to the
identity of an unknown plastic. Here are some examples.

Material Density (g/cc)
Nylon-MXD6 1.22
Nylon-6 1.13

Deuterium. Heavy hydrogen. The isotope of Hydrogen (H) with one neutron (hence atomic weight A=2).
See also earlier use of D for didymium.
Deuteron. The nucleus of a deuterium atom. The weakly bound state
of a single proton and neutron.
Died, deceased. Not expected back.
Didymium. Apparently the consensus chemical symbol for this metal, and
perhaps the official chemical symbol during the period when it was believed to
be an element, is Di (q.v.). But D was
also used, when either was. There seems to have been a sentiment to replace
single-letter chemical-element symbols with two-letter ones, when it could be
gotten away with. Cf. A.
“D minus.” The lowest grade that is not an `F.’
Patty’s grade.
This venerable grade indicates that the instructor takes pity on
a hapless incompetent student, or else just wants to see all different
students in next year’s class. Most schools (100% in my statistical sample
of two) have discontinued this mark as a course grade. That’s not a
problem, because with grade inflation its place has been taken by B+.
The “Gentleman’s C”? That’s now an A-. Today we use “D” to indicate
that the student died.

Systems with six letter grades (A, B, C, D, E and F) existed at various
times (like when I was in junior high school) and various places (Westfield, NJ, in this instance). My guess is that E
disappeared because it might
be mistaken for an abbreviation of Excellent (hope sprang eternal).

DeuterIDE is a “mobile based
programming text editor, compiler and IDE built for
Android and Blackberry Playbook.” It uses a D minus as its favicon. That’s
what I call a FAIL.

As you will no doubt have noticed, here on the grounds of the SBF, we’re
attempting to build links between all our entries. This ambitious task is a
never-ending effort (because we procrastinate). But here, at last, is a
connection between this entry and the Cameron
BRIGHT subentry of the
Nomenclature is destiny entry. Bright
acted in a bio-sci-fi vampire superhero action movie called Ultraviolet.
In the Entertainment Weekly issue of March 17, 2006, Scott Brown
reviewed the movie in an item entitled “Ultraviolet: Finding new ways to suck
the blood from a sci-fi vampire flick (D-).”

The largest single-letter bra-cup size designation used by all
manufacturers, so far as I’m aware. (And although I am sort of an “end user”
of the product, I don’t actually shop for bras, so really what do I know?)
For some the next larger size is DD and for
others E. (It’s not like letter grades, where they skip immediately to F.)

“Another dee” rhymes and sort of agrees metrically with “surgery.” (Limited rhyme like this is called
“masculine rhyme.” There could be something to this terminology.)

Deformation Acoustic. Deformation potential of electron-phonon interaction. Deformation potential arises
from the fact that deformations of the lattice, described by phonons, cause
inhomogeneities in the dielectric coefficient, and therefore affect the
electrostatic component of the electron (or hole) self-energy.
Departments and Agencies. US governmentese.
Desk Accessory. Small utility item in Macintosh Finder pull-down
menu. Deemphasized in System 7.
Destination Address.
Deutsches Archiv. This vague title, by equivocation, manages to
refer both to Deutsches Archiv für Geschichte des Mittelalter
and its postwar successor Deutsches Archiv für Erforschung des
. (`German Archive for the History of the Middle Ages’ and
`Research on’ same.) See Stuart Jenks’s
page of Tables of Contents of Historical Journals and Monographic Series in
for a complete table of contents, with
(deutsche Seite:
Zeitschriftenfreihandmagazin Inhaltsverzeichnisse
geschichtswissenschaftlicher Zeitschriften in deutscher Sprache
Digital Audio.
Digital to Analog. DAC stands for digital-to-analog
Directory Assistance. Telephone directory information by phone. Either
that, or collaboration with one of the revolutionary governments of France. Whatever is available in your dialing area.
District Attorney.
Duck’s Ass. A kind of men’s hair style. Not pejorative.

For more very useful information, visit the FLAT TOPS ON
THE WEB dictionary

[But they’re wrong about Wahl comb/guide attachments: all the comb
sizes, #1 to #8, are in eighths of an inch (i.e., #5 puts the blade
5/8 in. high, etc.).]

[Phone icon]

Data Access Arrangement. Used by modem on a
phone line.
Designated Approving Authority. Federalese.
Distributed Active Archive Center.
Acronym popular with NASA.
Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst. `German Academic
Exchange Service.’
DA architecture
Distributed-Arithmetic architecture.
Digital Audio Broadcasting. Here’s
a site (in German). “Quality approaching CD” reception with antennae no
longer than a pencil. Uses CODFM; 1536 carrier
frequencies multiplexed into 1.5 MHz. Smart
error correction. All this to achieve excellent reception of a puny six
stations?!?! Kill a fly with howitzer.

Some men’s hair potion years ago was advertised with the slogan, “A little
dab’ll do ya.” I can’t remember which product. That’s my favorite kind of ad
campaign: you are entertained, and you blithely forget the product. That
probably has something to do with DAB after all. (Mark refreshed my memory: it
was Brylcreem. I’d like to hear their funky heavy metal sound. I had also misremembered
the ad catch-phrase. But those were my big-hair days, a dab wouldn’t’ve done
me, and I wouldn’t’ve wanted what it would’ve done me.)

Just one other comment: this work is all apparently being done in VHF and UHF
bands, which means there is no reflection from the ionosphere, and consequently
only line-of-sight transmission. This makes terrain a problem,
which is addressed with “gap-filler” transmitters, even in a rather flat country like
. That’s terrestrial DAB (TDAB).
The alternative is satellite-based DAB (SDAB).

Design Automation Conference.
Development Assistance Committee of
the OECD.
Diamond Anvil Cell. The place where most laboratory ultra-high pressure
work is done. Two diamond faces separated by a thin gasket in the shape of an
annulus. The item to be pressurized is in fluid in the cell. When the diamond
faces are pressed together, the gasket is deformed outward somewhat. The
radial force on the gasket is only the cell pressure times the area of its
vertical inner surface, whereas the normal force is the same pressure (exerted
by a diamond face) times its surface area. In other words, the gasket holds
so long as the diamond-metal coefficient of friction is about greater than the
ratio of the gasket’s thickness to its width (difference of inner and outer
radii) — easily done.

DAC’s are used mostly in spectroscopic studies: the diamond has a large band
gap, so spectroscopy can be done deep into the UV. Electronic transport
studies, on the other hand, are rare or unknown, because of the difficulty in
putting leads through the gasket.

Digital to Analog (D/A) Converter.
Digital Access and Cross-Connect System. Network switching equipment
for T1 lines and their subchannels.
A badger hound. From German Dachs, `badger,’ and Hund `dog.’


dactylic hexameter
The metric used for Classical Greek and Latin epic poetry. Here’s what I thought was a
nonstandard mnemonic:

KIND to our WEB-footed FRIENDS / for a DUCK may be SOMEbody’s MOTH-ER.

[Underground lyrics to “Stars and Stripes
” — “Three cheers for the
red, white and blue ….” The pause after FRIENDS functions as a strong

Well, all right, the example above is what is called “defective.” That’s not
as bad as it sounds — good poetry plays off deviations from metric purity.
Still, it’s probably not the best way to learn.
Here’s an attractive one-webpage introduction to dactylic hexameter.

While there, you can hear the first line of Virgil’s Aeneid croaked to
the tune of the first two measures of “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

Desktop Application Driver.
Deputy Assistant Director. I’ve seen this used apparently
unselfconsciously. Specifically, when the NSF
was seeking to fill a DAD position in its Directorate for Engineering (ENG),
announcement dated Sept. 30, 2003. The DAD serves as “the primary assistant
to the Assistant Director in providing leadership direction to the ENG
Directorate….” It would have been more efficient just to

#define A assist
#define D direct

and then (with a custom uc definition) code

the primary Aant to the uc(Aant) uc(Dor) in providing leadership Dion
to the Engineering uc(Dorate);

// This also improves readability.

Informal or familiar expression for father.

In Highcastle (p. 5; bibl. details at the inanimate entry), Stanislaw Lem tells this
story from his childhood:

… Craning my neck constantly was too tiring, so mainly I watched what passed
my father at knee level. One time I noticed that he was not wearing his usual
shoes with laces, but something entirely different, smooth shoes with no laces.
His spats, which he always wore, were gone, too. Surprised, I asked, “Where
did you get those funny shoes?” And a voice came down from above, “What
rudeness!” It wasn’t my father at all, but a complete stranger, to whom I had
attached myself, I don’t know how. My father was walking a dozen steps behind.
I was terrified. This must have been an unusually unpleasant experience, for
me to remember it so well.

I imagine this sort of thing must happen a lot, particularly to men. Men’s
clothing doesn’t exhibit much variation at knee level. Many times, standing in
a store aisle, I’ve felt the hand of a small stranger grab a piece of my pants

Off Grape Road there’s a guitar store called
Hoosierdad’s. Okay, we all recognize
that “Hoosier dad” (literal meaning: Indiana
father) can be worked into a tolerable joke (pun on “who’s yer dad”). But
puns don’t really age so well. On the up side, this is the store where I first
saw a new semi-hollow Danelectric, after that model was “reissued.”

Data Analysis and DISPlay.
Pronounced “day-disp.” DADiSP is engineering software developed by DSP
Development Corporation. I haven’t used it, but it’s evidently a spreadsheet
program with Matlab functionality. This might be attractive even, or perhaps
especially, if you despise Matlab. It also has a
C/C++-like programming language
called SPL (Series Programming Language) “to
address the special needs, routines, and customization of the engineer,
programmer, or OEM.”
A massively parallel (started at 1K programming elements) computer designed
in the early eighties, coming out of the DARPA
Strategic Computing program, first successfully demonstrated on December 5,
1985. A tree-structured machine intended for rule-based intelligent programs
(written in Parallel Lisp, say). Much-faster-than-real-time speech recognition
a target application.
DADS Against Discrimination
Since 1977
. Seems like a half-hearted XARA.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. A former policy of the US military. The military’s
policy on homosexuality used to be that homosexual activity was forbidden. I
don’t know if there was a policy on “being homosexual” or homosexual
self-identification, or if there was any attempt to define that precisely.

  1. The first artificer or inventor, a sculptor of Greek mythology.
    Imprisoned on the island of King Minos, he made wings so he and his son
    Icarus could escape. Icky didn’t make it: he flew too high and melted
    down. But you knew that. Mr. D also killed a nephew who was
    apprenticed to him (tricked him into diving off a cliff) out of
    jealousy of the boy’s inventiveness. (The boy invented the comb, or
    saw, or the compass [the drafting tool] or whatever. There are
    multiple versions of all the stories — like Hollywood remakes. But I
    can’t recall anyone ever getting credit for inventing the bag.) If I
    were a young male relative of Daedalus, I think I would have a very
    rational fear of heights. Maybe they should have called him Deadalus.
  2. The title of a journal published by the AAAS, but you knew that too.
  3. The family name of the hero of A Portrait of the Artist as a
    Young Man
    , a Bildungsroman that James Joyce (1882-1941) published
    when he was a little past 30. Stephen Dedalus (oh yeah, it’s a
    different spelling) is the artist, Simon is his dad. On June 16, 1904,
    Stephen finds a surrogate father figure in Leopold Bloom, but that’s
    another story (Ulysses, published in 1922). Of course, you knew
    all that as well.

Let’s face it, you’re an irritating know-it-all and nobody likes you. But
since this glossary is one-way, meaning I don’t have to read your
definitions, I have the patience of a saint, so I’m going to go on and tie all
these loose threads together.

A young man wants to escape … he wants answers to all those unanswerable
questions (42) … he tries wings. Consider Rasselas, a 1759 novel by
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) and name of the novel’s principal character.
(Subtitle: The Prince of Abissinia.) The novel is a
Bildungsroman after the fashion of Voltaire’s Candide.

is the fourth son of the king of what we now spell Abyssinia and call Ethiopia.
He’s twenty-six years old and dissatisfied with life in Happy Valley, where he
and the other royal children are imprisoned but live in material luxury.
(When this glossary has a Pleasant Valley entry, you’ll be the first to
know, I promise.)
Rasselas escapes and seeks the secret of happiness. Where Candide eventually
concludes that one must become a gardener, Rasselas eventually realizes that
one … but I’m already getting ahead of myself.

Look, this is rough, okay? I’m just putting this stuff in as context for a
little excerpt. (Quotation style, spelling, etc., as in the original.
Paragraph breaks are also as in the original, with the following exception:
square-bracketed remarks have been interpolated within the body of some of the
paragraphs, and separated with additional paragraph breaks. This
has been done to confuse and irritate you personally. Also, I’ve reduced the
font size of one slower-moving bit, so it’ll be harder to read and you’ll have
to spend extra time reading it.)

Chapter VI

A dissertation on the art of flying.

Among the artists that had been allured into the happy valley, to labour for
the accommodation and pleasure of its inhabitants, was a man eminent for his
knowledge of the mechanick powers, who had contrived many
engines both of use and recreation. By a wheel, which the stream turned, he

Yadda, yadda, yadda. He invented indoor plumbing, evaporative cooling, and
a sound system powered by renewable energy.

forced the water into a tower, whence it was distributed to all the apartments
of the palace. He erected a pavillion in the garden, around which he kept the
air always cool by artificial showers. One of the groves, appropriated to the
ladies, was ventilated by fans, to which the rivulet that run through it gave a
constant motion; and instruments of soft musick were placed at proper
distances, of which some played by the impulse of the wind, and some by the
power of the stream.

This artist was sometimes visited by Rasselas, who was pleased with every kind
of knowledge, imagining that the time would come when all his acquisitions
should be of use to him in the open world.

He came one day to amuse himself in his usual manner, and found the master busy
in building a sailing chariot: he saw that the design was practicable upon a
level surface, and with expressions of great esteem solicited its completion.
The workman was pleased to find himself so much regarded by the prince, and
resolved to gain yet higher honours. “Sir, said he, you have seen but a
part of what the mechanick sciences can perform. I have been long of opinion,
that, instead of the tardy conveyance of ships and chariots, man might use the
swifter migration of wings; that the fields of air are open to knowledge, and
that only ignorance and idleness need crawl upon the ground.”

This hint rekindled the prince’s desire of passing the mountains;

you know, Happy Valley is surrounded by mountains

and having
seen what the mechanist had already performed, he was willing to fancy that he
could do more; yet resolved to enquire further before he suffered hope to
afflict him by disappointment. “I am afraid, said he to the artist,
that your
imagination prevails over your skill, and that you now tell me rather what you
wish than what you know. Every animal has his element assigned him; the birds
have the air, and man and beasts the earth.” “So, replied the
mechanist, fishes have the water, in which yet beasts can swim by nature, and
men by art. He that can swim needs not despair to fly: to swim is to fly in a
grosser fluid, and to
fly is to swim in a subtler. We are only to proportion our power of resistance
to the different density of the matter through which we are to pass. You will
be necessarily upborn by the air, if you can renew any impulse upon it, faster
than the air can recede from the pressure.”

“But the exercise of swiming, said the prince, is very laborious; the
limbs are soon wearied; I am afraid the act of flying will be yet more violent,
and wings will be of no great use,

More on these theoretical objections at the aerostation entry.

unless we can fly further than we can swim.”

“The labour of rising from the ground, said the artist, will be great, as
we see it in the heavier domestick fowls; but, as we mount higher, the earth’s
attraction, and the body’s gravity, will be gradually diminished, till we shall
arrive at
a region where the man will float in the air without any tendency to fall: no
care will then be necessary, but to move forwards, which the gentlest impulse
will effect.

Newton spun in his grave. Very yrast, no doubt.
The same way his bones become vertiginous whenever “Children of the Sun” is
played and the lyrics “no more graa – vi – tee, nothing holding them
dow – owwn” are heard.

You, Sir, whose curiosity is so extensive, will easily conceive
with what pleasure a philosopher, furnished with wings, and hovering in the
sky, would see the earth, and all its inhabitants, rolling beneath him, and
presenting to him successively, by its diurnal motion, all the countries within
the same parallel. How must it amuse the pendent spectator to see the moving
scene of land and ocean, cities and desarts!

What atrocius speling! Can you
believe that this same Samuel Johnson was the author of a famous dictionary?
Me neither.

To survey with equal security the
marts of trade, and the fields of battle; mountains infested by barbarians, and
fruitful regions gladdened by plenty, and lulled by peace! How easily shall we
then trace
the Nile through all his passage; pass over to distant regions, and examine the
face of nature from one extremity of the earth to the other!”

“All this, said the prince, is much to be desired, but I am afraid that no
will be able to breathe in these regions of speculation and tranquility. I have
been told, that respiration is difficult upon lofty mountains, yet from these
precipices, though so high as to produce great tenuity of the air, it is very
easy to fall: and I suspect, that from any height, where life can be supported,
there may be danger of too quick descent.”

“Nothing, replied the artist, will ever be attempted, if all possible
objections must be first overcome.

Right on!

If you will favour
my project I will try the first flight at my own hazard. I have considered the
structure of all volant animals, and find the folding continuity of the bat’s
wings most easily accommodated to the human form. Upon this model I shall begin
my task to morrow, and in a year expect to tower into the air beyond the malice
or pursuit of man. But I will work only on this condition, that the art shall not be divulged, and that you shall not
require me to make wings for any but ourselves.”

“Why, said Rasselas, should you envy others so great an advantage? All
ought to be exerted for universal good; every man has owed much to others, and
ought to repay the kindness that he has received.”

“If men were all virtuous, returned the artist, I should with great
teach them all to fly. But what would be the security of the good, if the bad
could at pleasure invade them from the sky? Against an army sailing through the
clouds neither walls, nor mountains, nor seas, could afford any security. A
flight of northern savages might hover in the wind, and light at once with
irresistible violence upon the capital of a fruitful region that was rolling
under them. Even this valley, the retreat of princes, the abode of happiness,
might be violated by the sudden descent of some of the naked nations that swarm
on the coast of the southern sea.”

The prince promised secrecy, and waited for the performance, not wholly
of success. He visited the work from time to time, observed its progress, and
remarked the ingenious contrivances to facilitate motion, and unite levity with
strength. The artist was every day more certain that he should leave vultures
and eagles behind him, and the contagion of his confidence seized upon the

In a year the wings were finished, and, on a morning appointed, the maker
appeared furnished for flight on a little promontory: he waved his pinions a
while to gather air, then leaped from his stand, and in an instant dropped into
the lake. His wings, which were of no use in the air, sustained him in the
water, and the prince drew him to land, half dead with terrour and vexation.

Warning, spoilers ahead.

Rasselas doesn’t get out until chapter 15. His favorite sister, Princess
Nekayah, comes along. They spend 33 chapters searching for the secret of
happiness. Chapter 48 is entitled “The conclusion, in which nothing is

The princess thought, that of all sublunary things, knowledge was the best: She
desired first to learn all sciences, and then purposed to found a college of
learned women, in which she would preside, that, by conversing with the old,
and educating the young, she might divide her time between the acquisition and
communication of wisdom, and raise up for the next age models of prudence, and
patterns of piety.

The prince desired a little kingdom, in which he might administer justice in
his own person, and see all the parts of government with his own eyes; but he
could never fix the limits of his dominion, and was always adding to the number
of his subjects.

Oh, brother.

Deutsch als Fremdesprache. `German as a foreign
language.’ Cf. EFL, ESL.
Device Assembly Facility.
Deutsche Angestelten-Gewerkschaft. German salaried-staff union,
with 489 thousand members in 1997 (269 thousand female). The second-largest
union outside the DGB, q.v.
Directed Acyclic Graph.
Digital Archive of
Historical Astronomy Pictures


Deutches Archäologisches
. (`German Archaeological Institute.’)

During the German occupation of Greece, 1941-1944,
various atrocities were committed by ordinary troops of the occupation forces,
including the decimation of various villages in retaliation for partisan
attacks. Sometimes whole villages were leveled, sometimes all adult males were
murdered, etc. In the village of Distomo in Boeotia in June 1944, 214 civilian
inhabitants, including women and children, were murdered. Since
WWII there have been a number of conventions and
treaties to settle German reparations for wartime murders, thefts, enslavement,
etc. One that eventually covered the massacre at Distomo delayed settlement
until the (then apparently distant) time when Germany was reunited. (That’s
according to one interpretation of the relevant treaties; the German government
has a different interpretation, and believes that the Distomo claims were
ettled by another, omnibus agreement.)

Germany was reunited the year after the Berlin Wall
fell, in September 1990. About 300 relatives of the Distomo massacre victims
subsequently brought a civil suit against the Federal Republic for punitive
damages. The Greek government did not participate
in the action, and was evidently chagrined about its effect on relations with
the most powerful fellow member of the EU. The suit
in the German court was dismissed, and the plaintiffs brought their grievance
to a Greek trial court, which found for them in 1997. The decision was
appealed, but upheld by Greece’s Supreme Court in April 2000.

The German government refused to accept the verdict of the Greek courts, and
plaintiffs sought seizure of German government assets within the jurisdiction
of the court, in order to pay the penalty assessed (about $30 million). Three
German assets in Athens were targeted: the German high school, the DAI
building, and Goethe Haus. The latter two buildings were impounded in
September 2001, just before I wrote this entry, to be auctioned later in the
month. At the time, I wrote that I’d try to remember to get back to this entry
after September 19, when there would be new developments. I guess I must have
been distracted by other news. Anyway, before the auction could take place it
was ruled that an auction of foreign assets would require Foreign Ministry
approval, which the FM did not give and apparently could not be compelled to
give. The dispute has dragged on in subsequent years, mostly in Greek courts,
with new suits continuing to be filed by survivors from other villages where
atrocities were committed.

There’s a DAI in Rome as well:
Deutsches Archäologisches Institut RomIstituto Archeologico
Germanico Roma

Distributed Artificial Intelligence.
La Delegación de
Asociaciones Israelitas Argentinas.
Spanish, `[Congress of] Delegation[s] of Argentine Jewish Organizations.’ DAIA was founded in

After Argentina gained its independence from Spain in 1810, President
Bernardino Rivadavia abolished the Inquisition. You know, under previous
Argentine constitutions, the president had to be Roman Catholic (see article 74
of the 1860 constitution). In the constitution of 1994 that requirement was
abolished, although article 2 still reads “El Gobierno federal sostiene el
culto católico apostólico romano.”

After WWII, Argentina had one of the largest Jewish
communities in the world. The Jewish population is still (in 2004) estimated
at a quarter million. The population of Argentina is about 38 million, of whom
about 14 million live in the province of Buenos Aires, where most of Jewish
population is concentrated.

Ironically, after WWII Argentina was also a popular destination of Nazis
fleeing justice. (Juan Perón, variously dictator and elected president
from 1946 to 1955, was, well, less of a fascist than Hitler. Argentine
sympathy in WWII lay with the Axis. This was attributed in large part to
loyalty of Italian immigrants to their country of origin, and there was indeed
a change in sympathies when Italy surrendered and became a partly
German-occupied battleground.)

At one point during the war, my father worked as a radioman on a merchant ship
that was going between the port of Buenos Aires and South
. Instead of heading directly out into the Atlantic after leaving
the Plata, they hugged the coast northward for a while. The motive was to not
leave territorial waters too close to where Axis-sympathizing ham radio
operators might report their departure to German naval vessels.

After Adolf Eichmann was abducted by the Israeli Mossad in 1960, it was
revealed that he had lived in Argentina under the false name of Ricardo
Klement. Ricardo Klenent had at one time been a laborer in a factory where
my father was a manager. (That had little directly to do with my family’s
decision to emigrate to the US, which we did early in 1963).

Daily Planet
If you think of them both in astronomical terms, Daily Planet is a
more modest name than Daily Star. In the original Superman comics,
Clark Kent worked at the Daily Star. Joe Shuster, the original
illustrator, recalled this
in an
with the Toronto Star for the newspaper’s centenary in

“Sure! The Star!” Shuster exclaims, wheezing slightly. “Not the Planet.
That came later.

“I still remember drawing one of the earliest panels that showed the
newspaper building. We needed a name, and I spontaneously remembered the
Toronto Star. So that’s the way I lettered it. I decided to do it that way on
the spur of the moment, because The Star was such a great influence on my

Technically, what he remembered in the 1930’s was the Daily Star, which
became the Toronto Star in the 1960’s. Shuster’s dad used to read him
the comics in the Star when he was a little boy, and at age 9 Joe sold
the Star on the streets of downtown Toronto. The family moved to
Cleveland when he was 10. (No, they didn’t leave him behind.) The Superman
strip debuted in 1938. At one point (at least in Action Comics #2) the
newspaper was called the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Until that point, in
other words, they were using the real name of a real newspaper. The strip was
quickly in national syndication, and in 1940 some editor in New York demanded a
name change from Star, and that’s when it became The Daily
(In the books, the name was used from Action Comics #4 onwards.)

Dockland Arrivals
Information SYstem
. Real-time train information for Docklands Light
Railway, Ltd. (DLR, q.v.).
Data Access Language.
Dallas Semiconductor Corp.
According to their webpages
(mostly product-related)
“Dallas Semiconductor Corporation designs, manufactures, and markets
electronic chips and chip-based subsystems. Founded in 1984…”
A frequent misspelling of Dalmatian, seeming to suggest the result
of some unspeakable genetic act of dalmating. Look, it’s very simple: Someone
from Italia is Italian, someone from India
is Indian, from Russia Russian, and from Croatia Croatian. Similarly, someone
from Dalmatia is Dalmatian. Same thing with spotted dogs. In fact, someone
from Dalmatia is also Croatian because Dalmatia is the coastal region of

But remember the take-home: Dalmatians are a dog breed that takes its name from
Dalmatia (and not from some bogus Latin dalmatio,
). Thank you. Get it right or I’m going to have to start shooting
down a hundred and one movie

[A similar instance is “dimension.” This is obviously a misspelling of
Dementian — a resident of Dementia, someone who is not all at that
particular there, someone who listened to the Doctor Demento Show. Dementites, on the
other hand, I’m not sure I can believe. Of course, what’s really hard
to believe is that the show is still on the air (and on satellite radio, etc.).
By now Demento must be a geriatric pediatrician.]

Yeah, yeah, Dalmatians are not Croatians in every ethnic sense of the word.
Dalmatians are Croatians the same way Texans are Americans — legally the same
nationality, but with an identifiable regional identity. I’ve got before me a
book by Robert St. John. It’s about Yugoslavia shortly after
WWII, and it makes the break-up of Yugoslavia seem
less surprising, if you were surprised. Then again, if you were surprised then
lack of information might not be your problem. The book’s chapters are
collected in parts, many of them entitled “These Are the Foobarians” or
“This Is Metavariable City” or somesuch. Part Four is entitled “These Are
the Dalmatians,” and Part Six is “These Are the Croatians.” You’re probably
wondering what happened in between. “These Are the Montenegrins.” You may
be thinking that the book is oddly organized. Part Thirteen is “This Is
Belgrade Again.”

Okay, I admit it: the book is not before me — not exactly. It’s off to the
left. The mouse is on the right, etc. The book is The Silent People
, (NY: Doubleday, 1947). The real reason I mention it is the
intriguing fact that the copyright page mentions

The lines from “Thanks” by Arthur Johnston & Sam Coslow are copyrighted,
1933, by Famous Music Corporation.

The reason it’s intriguing is…

[I’ll give you a minute to guess.]

Okay, time’s up!

It’s intriguing because of the coincidence of Silent and Johnston. William
Johnston wrote a book entitled Silent Music: The Science of Meditation
(New York: Harper & Rowe, Publ., 1974 [nudge]). Amazing, huh?

Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate.
A synonym for atomic mass unit (amu). My
impression is that this term is popular primarily among by biochemists and
polymer chemists, so atomic masses given in daltons are usually 105
and up.
Data Acquisition and Monitoring.
Digital Answering Machine. These critters use
DRAM memory chips for digitized voice storage.
Because a small amount of error is acceptable and probably imperceptible to the
human ear, defective DRAM chips can be used in this application. They’re
called ARAM’s; Micron CMS in Boise, Idaho deals ’em.
Data Administration Management
. Now prefers to style itself “DAMA International — Data
Management Association.”
Demand-Assignment Multiple Access.
Spanish, `lady.’ Cognate of
French, English dame.

In principle, damita, as a regularly formed diminutive of dama,
might be translated `little lady.’ But the English expression “little lady”
is an idiom; it’s meaning involves conventions beyond those of its constituent
words. In Spanish, damita is a rare, slightly stiff way to say `young
lady,’ and is really just un anglicismo.

In April 2004, a couple of months after el escándalo of the
SB halftime-show “wardrobe
,” Janet
Jackson released a new album entitled “Damita Jo.” Perhaps this was meant to
suggest something like “little ol’ me,” since the English pronunciation of
Jo approximates the pronunciation of Spanish yo (`I’) in some
places (Argentina and Puerto Rico, for example, and of course a few scattered
parts of Andalucia). The title is either a lot cleverer than that, or stupid.
I guess the latter, so I’m happy to report that sales have been disappointing.

I’ve now been informed that “Damita Jo” is what comes between “Janet” and
“Jackson” in the entertainer’s full name. How could I have been so
She also had an album entitled “janet. [sic]”
(“[sic]” was not part of the title, just an indication to you, the
sophisticated reader, that the word was written all lower-case and that the
period was part of the title). Before that
there was an album entitled “Janet Jackson.” These album titles show a
systematic progression over time: each successive title presumes a greater
familiarity with the artist, or imposes a greater difficulty of guessing the
author from the title. Up next: the pet names her boyfriends gave to her body
parts. Normally this would be a limited release.

And if you think three (so far) is the record for most self-titled albums, you
don’t know Diddley.

In its conventional sense, damage is a “mass noun,” an
“uncountable noun.” That is, just as one does not have one water, two waters
in the usual sense of water, one does not have one damage, two damages, etc.

Countability is a grammatical distinction, and is to some degree arbitrary.
For example, one normally counts “facts” (i.e., fact is “a
count noun” or “countable”), but not

I haven’t finished writing this entry, but I have to get to work. Think about
waters, monies, “finding fact [or law]” and “statement of fact.”

Dental Appliance Manufacturers Audit Scheme. Something run by the
UK Dental Laboratories

DAMAS is essentially an
independent assessment according to the DAMAS Management System Specification,
a set of criteria that ensure consistent quality and high standards. The
assessment is carried out by an external Certification Body which will check
that each member of [a dental laboratory’s] staff complies with process checks
throughout the manufacturing procedure. All DAMAS laboratories institute a
quality policy, undertaking management reviews and internal audits to verify
that the systems in place are working correctly.”

`Ladies.’ Plural of the Spanish noun, dama (above).

It’s also the Spanish name of the board game called checkers in the US and
draughts in the UK. Jugar a las damas means to `play checkers.’ It
looks like it could mean `play to the ladies,’ but it doesn’t work that way,
because the particle to in “play to” isn’t exactly the preposition
to that might be translated as a. A pun is possible if
jugar is part of the object: ver jugar a las damas means `to see
the ladies play.’

[Phone icon]

Digital Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS).
Originally a North American Standard, is probably still the most widely
implemented cell phone standard in the world. This acronym is still generally
written with a hyphen, perhaps to encourage the pronunciation “dee amps”
in preference to the soggy-sounding “damps.” As a result, however, the
expansion is frequently burdened with the same, in this case inappropriate,
punctuation (“Digital-Advanced …”).
Dynamically Adaptive Multicarrier Quadrature Amplitude Modulation.

[dive flag]

Divers Alert Network.
Dental Assisting National Board.
From the French dent de lion, meaning
`yard pimple.’
Departamento Administrativo Nacional de
. We don’t have a very thorough coverage of Colombian
governmental organizations acronyms, but I figured this one merited inclusion.
DimethylAminoNaphthalene SulfonYL. Same as Dns.
Delays Alternating with Nutations for Tailored Excitation. (NMR abstrocity.)

Dante Alighieri
. A disciple of Virgilio.
Data Access Object[s].
Data Assimilation
. At the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Disk-At-Once. CD recording programs.
Data Access Protocol. Digital terminology.
DiAllyl Phthallate (plastic). Spit when you say that!
Donor-Acceptor Pair[s].
A genus of flowering shrub. The genus includes among its species the
Spurge Laurel. In classical mythology, Daphne was the name of a nymph
who was metamorphosed into a Bay tree. The Bay tree, or Bay laurel (Laurus
) used to be the main plant referred to by the word laurel,
but over time the word’s meaning was extended to include many plants that
happen to have similar leaves.

Let this be a lesson to you: when you’re playing Scrabble and the tiles on your
rack suggest a proper noun, like

Bum (as in Oail Andrew “Bum” Phillips),
Charley or Charlie,
Cicero (but not Tully),

Conner (but not Connor),



Polo (not Marco, though),

Stew (sorry, not Stu),

don’t put it out of mind — it might be a playable word also.

The names suggested above are all accepted by the two major tournament
dictionaries, TWL and
SOWPODS. I don’t have my own copy of these and
am relying on the online versions
(and earlier at
). Consequently, I can’t give complete version
information respecting TWL and SOWPODS. Specifically, I started entering names
in this entry when the TWL version was TWL98, and during 2006 the version was
updated to TWL2006. I haven’t checked, but I assume that none of those I found
in TWL98 was removed in TWL2006. (If there’s any exception, it might be Moe,
which is not in TWL2006 but which I thought was in TWL 98.)

* All of the names above were also in the OSPD3, with the exception
of those marked with an asterisk. Of those exceptions, Ed and Jimmie were
added in the OSPD4. (If they were in the OSPD3, I assume they were in the
OSPD4 also and haven’t checked.)

Generally, SOWPODS is more inclusive. It accepts the following names not in
TWL2006 or any OSPD.
Abram, Albert, Alison, Ann, Barton, Canada, Chas, Darcy, Dan, Dino, Dob,
Gunter, James, Jeff, Judy, Kant, Lana, Lew, Luke (Matthew is the odd gospel
out, though Matt is in everywhere), Mary, Meg,
Minnie, Moe, Moses, Niger, Norman, Oliver, Patrick,
Paul, Poisson, Rubin, Russia, Sean, Steven (sorry, Steve and Stephen),
Sweeney, Travis, Tyler, Willie,
Yale, and York.

Don’t overlook homophones like fillip, or
adjectives based on proper nouns, like Chinese (SOWPODS only),
Danish, Dutch, Egyptian,
(SOWPODS only),
Flemish, French,
(SOWPODS only),
German, Germanic, Greek, Gypsy, Hessian, Italianate, Jew,
Mongol, Mongoloid, Platonic, Scot, Scotch, Scotia, Sorb,
Swede, Swiss, Turk,
Welsh (and apparent ones like argentine, colombine, pole, and
polish, or even reb, sabra, and

Daughters of the American Revolution.

1789 is not one of them, officially. [The French
Revolution had many fathers. This is odd, since failure is an orphan. I guess
the mother died.]

Digital Audio Radio.
Direct Arc (plasma) Reactor.
I’m not sure that it is entirely ethical to have an entry for this term
once proposed, so you’ll have to go to the yrneh to
find out about it. That’s bad enough.
Dictionary of American Regional English.
Drug Abuse Resistance Education.
Multiple scientific studies
have demonstrated that it’s ineffective
, a $700 million/year waste, but
support for the program is not based on rational thinking, so all these
studies are really beside the point — thus, ironically, the effectiveness
research is itself a waste of money as well. [The preceding is a NewsTimeweek-style ending: middle-brow irony,
paper-thin cynicism, suburban knowingness. But it’s not over. Here we give
you more.]

In my high school we had some traditional gangs that got drunk and rode
motorcycles (in that order, if there were any sober intervals). By
“traditional” I mean they didn’t use any modern intoxicants. In that way I
suppose they were purists, sort of like civil-war reenactors. Nowadays they’re
responsible citizens with well-paying Wall Street jobs that don’t require them
to know the stuff they didn’t learn in high school. When they were young
hoodlums, though, the local police tried to make them go straight by having
them join the junior police. I guess that would be sort of like police
acolytes or novices, I don’t know. They got kicked off for being drunk on
duty. Even though they weren’t that interested in being junior cops, they
resented the injustice that the junior police who were stoned on pot weren’t
kicked off.

When I was in elementary school, Lieutenant Catalon would come around to our
school every semester or so and scold us about traffic safety, teaching
us to ride legally on the right side of the road so we couldn’t see who was
going to hit us. Later on I learned that many years before, he and a couple of
other officers got caught doing something bad-coppish, or maybe they just came
under strong suspicion, and they ended up on permanent traffic duty with no
chance of promotion.

How many people go into police work so they can spend their days talking to
The DARE workbook is distributed to 26 million schoolchildren in 75% of US
schools according to an April 16, 2001 article in The Courier News. (That was The Plainfield Courier in
my day.) That doesn’t make any sense. Not about what happened to the paper
after it joined the “Gannett family” — I mean about the 26 million
schoolchildren. That’s like 10% of the US population. If the population is
constant and most people live to about the same old age of 65, then only 1/65
of the population is in fifth grade each year. If you count fifth graders in
only 75% of schools, no matter which 75% you choose it’s probably under 1%.
Granted the population is growing, still, 26 million? That’s the trouble with
public-issue statistics: they’re meant to be taken in
emotionally, not understood. I’ll get back to this after I visit an almanac.

Darién Gap
A break in the Pan-American Highway at the Darién Rainforest
straddling the Panama-Colombia border.
dark matter
Matter inferred from the elementary mechanics of galactic motions
and other evidence, in excess of that matter estimated from visible
objects (mostly stars or galaxies).

Vide WIMP and

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Later called
ARPA, now called DARPA again. An independent OXR not associated with a particular service branch.
Autonomous Robotic Systems
Degree Audit Reporting System. The name of a software product
developed at Miami University (of Ohio) [which maintains a mailing list
] and now licensed for use in over a hundred other schools, incl.
and other SUNY-system universities.

In college I had a next-door-neighbor named Daras. She was studying to
be a pharmacist, but she never brought us any free samples of recreational
chemistry. I guess you didn’t really need to know that. I apologize for
wasting valuable time that you could be spending on a talk.politics.extreme.*

DARtmouth SIMplified COde. A programming language, predecessor of
this DART entry for others.

Area Rapid Transit. (RT is a common productive
affix.) Cf. DART.
DARTmouth College (experimental programming language for undergraduates).

In 1959 Dartmouth College bought an LGP-30. Two
researchers there, John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz, used it to develop a
programming language appropriate for the average undergraduate.
FORTRAN and full-strength
ALGOL apparently did not qualify.

Kemeny and Kurtz made a number of tries, with names such as these:

I figured you might enjoy trying to guess what these stood for. The expansions
are at the links. (Who am I kidding? I only set it up this way to inflate my
headword count. Okay, okay: “Whom am I kidding, question mark.”
That’s really what I said, you just didn’t listen carefully. What a bunch of
captious glossary readers!)

None of these languages became a widespread success or frankly even a
narrowspread success, but they provided excellent preparation for the main
event: BASIC.

Acquisition, Real-Time
. Here’s a specialized
glossary for DART meetings
. The web enables people all over the world
to study that document, although their chances of actually attending one
of the meetings are generally not high.
Deep-ocean Assessment
and Reporting of Tsunamis

“As part of the U.S.
National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program
(NTHMP), the Deep Ocean
Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART) Project is an ongoing
effort to maintain and improve the capability for the early detection and
real-time reporting of tsunamis in the open ocean. Developed by NOAA‘s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) and operated by NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center
(NDBC), DART is essential to fulfilling NOAA’s
national responsibility for tsunami hazard mitigation and warnings.

Delaware Authority for Regional Transit. The expansion refers to a
Wilmington-area transit service that was merged in 1994 with other publicly
run transit services into a statewide “DART First State
in which DART is not expanded. Cf. DART.
Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technology.
Disaster Assistance Response Team. The designation of a Canadian military

Traditionally, a military unit’s disaster assistance role is making it happen
for the enemy.

Directory of American Scholars.
Dual Attach Station.
Data Acquisition System for Crash Avoidance Research.

Direct-Access Storage Device. Fancy name for hard drive on larger
IBM computers, but used more generally.
Digital Array
Scanning Interferometer
. Designed and built for DASI
mission of NASA‘s ERAST project.
4-DimethylAmino-N-methyl Stilbazolium Methylsulfonate.
Dienstleistungsgesellschaft für
Automatisierungs- und Signalverarbeitungssysteme
. German, `Consulting Company for
Automation and Signal Processing Systems.’ I suppose the asterisk helps
distinguish the company name from the word
dass (better daß), meaning `that’ (in the sense of a
relative pronoun). They’re in the actuators, robotics, and image processing
Digital Access
Signaling System #2
DiethylAminoSulfur Trifluoride. CAS no.
4-DimethylAmino-N-methyl Stilbazolium Tosylate.
DimethylAminoSulfur Trifluoride. CAS no.
3880-03-3. The acronym DAST is much more frequently used for the
diethyl solvent.
Form of the verb dare encountered in Arthur Miller’s play, Death
of a Salesman.
At the grave of Willy Loman (pun and salesman of the
title), his friend Charley explains to Willy’s son Biff, or scolds him:

Nobody dast blame this man. You don’t understand: Willy was a salesman. And
for a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life. He don’t put a bolt to a
nut, he don’t tell you the law or give you medicine. He’s a man way out there
in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not
smiling back–that’s an earthquake. And then you get yourself a couple of
spots on your hat, and you’re finished. Nobody dast blame this man. A
salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory.

The word dast certainly raises the register of his speech; if one
doesn’t feel that takes it too much over the top, that it’s a bit out of
Charley’s character, then one may say that it works. The word sounds like an
archaism, but its a neologism. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence of the
word’s ever having been used before Miller put it in his play. It doesn’t even
look like third-person singular form, since it’s missing the final ess; it
looks like a thou conjugation. I suppose one could take it as a subjunctive,
which is appropriate here, but given the third-person uses of “don’t,” that
might be over-reading.

Death of a Salesman is standard high-school reading in the US, and
“dast blame” has come into widespread use. The champion creator of faux
anachronisms must be Thomas Hardy, many of whose neologisms have come to be
recorded in dictionaries solely on the evidence of his novels, but I’m not
aware of any that came into common use as a result.

DAST d-26
Perdeuterated DAST.
Dementia of Alzheimer’s Type. If the person with DAT is elderly, then the
DAT is SDAT (S for senile).
Dental (school) Admission Test. Also expanded Dental Aptitude Test, which
may at one time have been the official expansion. The test is now offered in
a computerized format, and includes a writing sample.
Digital Audio Tape.
Dynamic Area Telethermometry.


A plural noun in
Latin. The English plural of
anecdote, normally
construed singular.
An uncountable (“mass”) noun in English.
There are still a few people who get their panties in a knot over the fact that
data is not used as a plural in English, as it is in
Latin. It’s not as bad as countable singular use of
media, which also raises hackles, and agenda, which doesn’t.
(Discussion of the latter is buried somewhere in
the chai entry.)
Design, Automation and Test in
. An annual conference.
A book released on August 25, 2015, subtitled How Dating Became a
Lopsided Numbers Game.
I don’t doubt that the author, Jon Birger, is right
in arguing that young college-educated women who live and work in New York City
have trouble finding and keeping (romantically speaking) male peers because the
men are outnumbered and elsewhere in various ways. But Birger seems to be
statistically challenged nevertheless. He gathers a lot of statistics that
don’t show what he thinks
they do, or at least don’t prove the points he thinks they do.
date windowing
A crude workaround for the Y2K problem: a
century-long window is used to interpret two-digit year numbers. If the
window runs, say from 1970 on, then year designations 70, 71, 72 … are
interpreted as 1970, 1971, 1972, …, while 69, 68, 67 … are interpreted as
2069, 2068, 2067, etc. This disambiguates dates, but requires slightly
nontrivial ordering functions. It led to collation problems in CREN archives using the option of yy
(as opposed to yyyy) filenames.
Having to do with giving. From the Latin
dativus, `of giving,’ from datus `given.’ As a grammatical term,
it renders similar Greek words ultimately derived from Greek
dotós, `given.’

In many Indo-European and other languages, the dative case is the grammatical
category of nouns denoting the indirect object of a verb’s action, or the more
remote of different objects. The indirect object is typically glossed as the
object to or for which the action of the verb is performed.
(For example, if I write you an entry, I write the entry for you. So
the entry is the direct object of my writing, and you are the possibly
unwilling indirect object.)

There are never enough different cases, so the dative case is usually used in
a variety of ways. German, for example, has only four cases (nominative,
genitive, accusative, and dative), and the objects of prepositions and
postpositions are in either the accusative or dative case. The prepositions
aus, bei, mit, nach, von, zu, seit all take the dative, as do the
postpositions nach and weder. Many prepositions take either the
accusative or dative depending on whether the sense is, roughly, ablative or
locative, respectively. A characteristic example: ins Kino, using
the accusative (standard contraction of in das Kino) means `to [or into]
the movie theater’; im Kino, using the dative (standard contraction of
in dem Kino) means `at [or inside] the movie theater.’ As the example
suggests, case distinctions are usually not apparent from noun morphology, but
may often be inferred from an article or adjective.

dative bond
A coordinate bond. That is, a covalent bond in which both bonding
electrons are donated by one of the atoms. Probably the standard example is
the Lewis acid-base pair of boron trichloride (Lewis acid — electron-pair
acceptor) and ammonia (Lewis base — electron-pair donor). The formation of
the dative bond is the reaction

H N: + BCl –> H NBCl .
3 3 3 3

(The colon represents a lone pair. In this case it occupies an sp3
orbital of nitrogen.)

“Dative bond” seems to be one of those terms left over from the time when
scientists were burdened with liberal education, grammar, rhetoric, geometry,
and similar rot. Probably the various forms of “coordinate bond” are
collectively more common. To confirm this, I just (on data updated to October
22, 2005) did simple searches on SCI (1975-2005) for
a few alternative terms. (The total number of documents searched was
23,562,336; I’m glad I didn’t have to do this by hand.)

dative bond 184 dative bond* 329
co-ordinate bond 5 co-ordinate bond* 7
coordinate bond 100 coordinate bond* 243
co*rdinate bond 100 co*rdinate bond* 243

Ummm, yes, now that you mention it — it does seems that the last two lines
returned the same hits. So it seems that “dative bond” (speaking merely in
quantitative terms, you understand) has been the more common term, over the
past 30 years. Hmmm. But probably it’s going out of use. Therefore, I have
computed the ratio
h(dative bond)/(h(co*rdinate bond) + h(co-ordinate bond)),
where h(phrase) is the number of hits for a search on “phrase” in a
particular period. Dividing the 30 complete years of data into three decades,
one finds:

1975-1984 0.17
1985-1994 1.45
1995-2004 1.36

There, see? It peaked. (Only the last digit in each line is not significant,
by the standard rules.) I also found no accusative, ablative, allative,
genitive, inessive, instructive, locative, nominative, partitive, or vocative
bond. I was surprised to find just a smattering of “associative bond” and
similar terms, used in a few specialized senses, usually defined ad hoc.
And I did encounter the phrase “The power and the wide applicability of
Fourier-transform spectroscopy unite these fields with a common mathematical
and instrumental bond.”

Some languages have a terminal case. Basque, for one. In Basque, cases are
indicated by suffixes. (The suffix goes on the noun if there’s no adjective.
Adjectives follow the noun, and the ending goes on the last adjective.) The
precise form of the suffix depends on a kind of gender: i.e., whether
the noun is animate or inanimate. (There is also a male-female distinction in
second-person familiar verb forms.) Another matter determining the suffix form
is whether or not a specific entity is meant (i.e., definite declension
or indefinite declension). Furthermore, in the definite declension the suffix
indicates number (though the form of a suffix may depend on whether the verb is
transitive). In the indefinite declension, there is no distinction between
singular and plural nouns or adjectives. Not having to choose a grammatical
number when one speaks in generalities could be a convenient thing in science.
(Incidentally, I got a lot of
SCI hits on “terminal bond*” — with the meanings you’d expect.) But Basque
is not a major world language of
science, unless you count the science of not getting your head knocked off in
jai alai. Anyway, just to keep things complicated on the indefinite side (in
the absence of grammatical number), the indefinite-declension suffixes depend
on whether the root noun ends in a consonant or not. (Interestingly, given
names are declined like indefinite nouns.) Also, you can use the separate
indefinite article bat following the noun, and this, alas, has plural
forms (batzu, batzuk). (In jai alai, one doesn’t use a bat but a wicker
basket called a cesta. It’s strapped to the wrist and it’s not big
enough to cover your head, so you have to use it to catch and launch the

That should be enough general context, so finally we come to the terminal case,
which Basque indicates with suffixes that end in -aino.
Most nouns in Basque have natural gender, so you will not be surprised to learn
that the word etxe, for `house,’ has inanimate gender. (I’d be curious
to know about haunted houses.) With the (definite, inanimate, singular)
terminal ending -raino, this becomes etxeraino, meaning `up to
the house’ or `as far as the house.’ The plural etxeetaraino means
`up to the houses’ or `as far as the houses.’ Comparing the singular and
plural forms just given, it is interesting to note that eta is a Basque
word for `and.’ (The other standard word is ta, and in
French they use et. I have no idea how
significant any of this is.) A lot of the indefinite inanimate plural suffixes
are constructed by slapping an -eta- on the front of the corresponding
singular form. (I’m trying to save you some memorization here!) Thus (by the
way, I assume you realize that x is pronounced like English sh or
French ch, and tx like English and
Spanish ch), etxeruntz
is `toward the house’ and etxeetaruntz is `toward the houses.’ You can
guess the singular forms that correspond to the ablative form etxeetatik
(`from the houses’), allative etxeetara (`to the houses’), and locative
etxeetako (`of the houses’).

“Locative” in Basque indicates what is called the nonpersonal possessive,
something like `corresponding to,’ and there is no locative form for animate
nouns. The semantic range of this case may be better understood by considering
that there is also a genitive case and an inessive case (the case name is from
the Latin inesse, `to be in [or at].’
Now that we all understand what the locative case means, we are intrigued to
recall that the singular suffix for destination, -rako (etxerako
is `for the house’), looks like it’s constructed by combining the locative
-ko and allative -ra that you were supposed to figure out above.
The plural form is -etarako. (This allative-plus-locative analysis
doesn’t work in the indefinite declension, and is of course impossible for
animate gender.)

This destination case is not to be confused with the dative (as in
etxeari, `to the house’; etxeei, `to the houses’), used for
indirect objects. The dative — it’s like coming home! Screw the animates and
indefinites and let’s have a beer. I’ll just leave you with
gizonarenganaino, meaning `up to the man’ (from gizon, `man’).
(Oh yeah — exceptions to natural gender: mahai, `table,’ is considered
animate. Great for seances in a haunted house (etxe mamuztatu).
Let’s dance the mamushka! On the other hand, body parts are inanimate. Hmmm.)


. `Association of German teachers of Greek and Latin.’
Disabled American Veterans.
Audio-VIsual Council
d.a.w., DAW
Dispense As Written. Physician’s notation on a prescription, instructing
pharmacist not to substitute generic brand of drug.
Driving While Ability Impaired. Cf. DWI.
(This entry is itself an example of typing while ability impaired, I believe.
I probably meant DWAI.
A Star Trek character, female, with a bad peripheral case of alien
eczema. Here’s a picture.

Okay, here’s some higher-quality information on Dax from Mark. Mark is a real
person. He’s really an alien too, except when he’s in Canada. You know, Shatner was that way too,
although there’s this: In “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home,” there’s a scene
with Kirk in a restaurant with the 1985
marine biologist. The Captain is telling her about his work. She is

Biologist: So you’re telling me you’re from outer space?
Kirk: No, I’m from Iowa. I only work
in outer space.

Now about Dax:
the Star Trek character — to be exact, that’s Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
(ST:DS9) — is (or was, or will possibly have
been) a composite of two intelligent beings: the humanoid host, female,
whom you see, and a “symbiont” living in her abdomen that looks like a
giant slug or something. The humanoid depicted is named Jadzia; the
symbiont is named Dax. It is the custom for the host’s original surname
to be replaced by the symbiont’s name when they are joined, so her whole
name is Jadzia Dax.

Mark also has a last name, but I tend not to give those in this glossary.
At least he gets his first name. Madeleine is usually just described as
the SBF banjo specialist (alpha chapter).

Anyway, Jadzia was murdered at the end of the 1997-98 season. The
symbiont survived the attack and was joined to a new host, Ezri (its
ninth or thereabouts — symbionts are long-lived). Whereas Jadzia Dax
looked like the human Terry Farrell with a bad peripheral case of
alien eczema, Ezri Dax looks like the human Nicole deBoer with a bad
peripheral case of alien eczema. I could probably find a picture of
Ezri Dax and/or Nicole deBoer on the web somewhere. It’s on the to-do
list. Okay, here’s a
picture of Nicole deBoer
at the DS9 Series Wrap Party on
April 22, 1999.

Deutsche Aktienindex. `German share index.’ A kind of
Dow Jones average of the thirty strongest German stocks, introduced in 1988.
day beacon
A marine marker without its own light source.
of Our Lives.
” Supermarket-tabloid abbreviation for a soap opera on

There’s a
link from UB, served by someone at Buff’ State (it’s intentionally made
confusing for out-of-towners). Here’s another unofficial
homepage for DAYS, with links to yet more. Another.

Day Tripper
I recall about three hit songs whose standard releases end with explicit
musical reference to the Beatles’ “Day Tripper,” but I can only recall
exactly the following two:

  1. The Eagles song “In The City,” released in early 1979 on their
    album The Long Run. It ends with a lone electric
    guitar slowly beginning the first eight
    notes of Day Tripper. (Note that there are
    a number of songs entitled “In The
    The Eagles song includes the line “I know there must be
    something better.”)
  2. April Wine’s “I Like To Rock” (from the album Harder
    , 1980, named after lines delivered by Marilyn Chambers in
    the movie “Behind The Green Door” and mixed into their version of
    “Twenty-first Century Man”). Brian Greenaway, who had recently
    joined the band, explains the origin of the meshed licks in an
    interview with Classic Rock Revisited

    At the end of “I Like To Rock” the band takes advantage of their
    3-guitar attack as [the group’s leader and main songwriter Myles]
    Goodwyn plays the main melody while Greenway and Gary Moffit pump out
    the main riffs to both “Satisfaction” and “Day Tripper.” The
    result was magical and people around the world loved it. The dueling
    guitar part was just one of many tricks the band used. Greenway gets
    credit for the idea, “When I was in a band called All The Young Dudes
    we used to fool around playing two songs at one time as we had 2
    drummers. I brought it from there. How we started doing it in April
    Wine I forget but it must have been Gary and myself doing it as joke in
    rehearsal for the album.”

    (Of course, “All The Young Dudes” is itself a musical reference —
    it’s the title of a David Bowie song. That song includes the phrase
    “Bugaloo dudes,” which I believe and also hope is unconnected with Juggalo.)

Sugarloaf’s “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You” (1974) integrates an instrumental
riff from the Beatles’ “I Feel Fine” (1964) (sweetened to mark the contrast
with the Sugarloaf’s darker metal style). The riff follows the line “Yeah
— it sounds like, eh, John-Paul-and-George.”

Incidentally, I heard the other day that Aerosmith is opening for Kiss, and
blowing them away. Is this really the twenty-first century?

day walkers
People who work day shifts. Slang among bouncers in the South Bend area,
beginning to be used by others. To judge by a web search in May 2004, the
usage is not widespread.
Deutsche Allgemeine Zeit. `German Common Time (zone).’
DB, db
DayBook. A book in which daily transactions are recorded, or a diary. A
lot of dictionaries that don’t mention really common meanings of DB like
Defensive Back do mention daybook. Okay, whatever.
dB, db
DeciBel. Ten times the common logarithm of a power ratio or twenty times
the logarithm of a voltage ratio. E.g., 3 dB is a power ratio of two
(3.0103 dB, to be more precise than is ever called for in practice, so far as
I have ever experienced). A frequency where gain or transmission falls to
half its maximum value is often called a “3 dB point.” Typically, the ratio
is to an implicit power level (as in dBm, dB SPL, and dBu).

Pronunciation Sidebar

Note that most unit abbreviations are expanded in speech. For example,
in. is pronounced “inch,” kg and kG as “kilogram”
and “kilogauss.” [The latter example partly explains the practice.]
There are a few exceptions, however: cc is read off as “cee-cee”
and less often as “cubic centimeter,” and dB (especially in the
jargon “3 dB point”) is often pronounced “dee-bee.”

Another example of anomalous unit abbreviation pronunciation is the
mil” pronunciation of the milliliter (ml) unit (but follow latter link for a surprise).
Significantly, a milliliter is a fluid
measure exactly equal in volume to a cubic centimeter. A dimensional
resonance effect in phonological linguistics? The study of this and
similar important issues in connection with unit names constructed by
shortening the name of a hemieponymous honoree (amp from Ampere, torr
from Torricelli, volt from Volta, etc.) could
probably supply a few
grad students with PhD dissertation topics.

Modern audio hardware typically references volume levels to a maximum, so most
audio API’s represent volume by a nonpositive number: a logarithmic attenuation
factor. In the DirectSound, for example, volume ranges from -10000 to 0, in
units of a hundredth of a decibel. I guess that ought to be millibels (mB). Note that when sound is digitized in 16 bits,
the ratio of highest to lowest amplitude is 65536:1, or
320 log102 dB (about 96 dB). Cf. CD.

Declining Balance. A declining-balance card is like a company-town debit
card without the checks.

[Football icon]

Defensive Back. A position in American football. The term is also used
generically for the whole secondary. I’ll write more when I figure out what
that means.

Strength is more important in defensive linemen than in other defensive
positions; speed is more important in DB’s, DE’s, and safeties than in DL’s.
That “speed,” however, is primarily sprint speed. The nonfootball stat that
is the significant figure of merit for DL’s is time in the 40-yard dash. No
one is interested in their 1000-meter or marathon times.

Those sorts of facts were called immediately to mind by football news reported
by the AP for Thursday, April 3, 2008. Around
11:30 AM, there was a disturbance in the parking lot of the police station, no
less, in Pearland, Texas (about 15 mi. south of Houston). When officers
approached to investigate, Kenny Wright, a DB with the Cleveland Browns, took
off running. Police said he led them on a quarter-mile foot race, but no
precise times were reported. Sgt. Roy Castillo said in a statement that “we
had people on scene pretty fast and I believe because of our quick response
time and the mental and physical toughness of our officers to catch offenders,
we were able to get him in custody quickly and safely.”

The defensive back was eventually tackled at a nearby subdivision. That’s
fair: he had possession — at least of marijuana in his car, allegedly. And if
he didn’t have possession maybe he was going for it, so you could say he was
intercepted. He was held in the Pearland City Jail that night on various
misdemeanor charges, pending a bond hearing Friday. Wright attended
Northwestern State in Louisiana. He graduated magna cum laude… oh wait, that
must be someone else. He went to the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth round of
the 1999 draft. The nine-year veteran has also played for Houston,
Jacksonville, and Washington. He has seven career interceptions of his own.
He had a disappointing season in 2007, and he was released by the Browns in
July 2008.

Degree of Branching. Term typically used in discussion of organic
Deutsch-Bonnet. Charles Deutch and Ren&eacute Bonnet formed a partnership
to build sports cars that were known as DB’s. They were renowned in the 1950’s
and 1960’s for their unusual (but aerodynamically small) bodies and for their
small engines (under one liter). “DBs won the coveted Index of Performance
several times in the world’s most prestigious endurance races.” (This
according to the brochure for an “Art of the National Sports Car” exhibit at
Notre Dame’s Snite Museum of Art,
Summer 2004.

[Phone icon]

Dial Box. Phone instrument from the steam age.

For another kind of Dial box, see the BOGO entry.

Dielectric Breakdown. The dielectric in question is usually functioning
principally as an insulator, with the value of its dielectric constant a
secondary consideration. Therefore, change of n is not the issue in
DB, it’s the occurrence of conductivity.
Doomsday Book. Or Domesday Book. Those Normans may have been effective
conquerors, but they couldn’t spell.
Dubnium. Atomic number 105.
Learn more at its entry
in WebElements and its entry
at Chemicool.
DataBase Administrator.
DihydroDimethylbenzopyranButyric Acid.
Doctor[ate] Business Administration. A doctor who administers the
business instead of the medicine. Also the degree qualifying a person to do
such a thing. Not to be confused with the
traditional business-related DBA
DBA, dba, d/b/a
Doing Business As.

On my most recent trip itinerary (the one printed out on the green computer
cards) I was surprised to see the actual name of the regional feeder that code-shares with
(the airline I took), followed by “DBA ATA Express.”

DiamondBACKS. Arizona professional baseball
team. The diamondback is a desert snake.
Deutsche Bundesbahnen AG. Old name of the
German (.de) national railways. Sorry, I don’t
know the new name.
DataBase of (protein) sequence and structure
ALIgnments. Announced by Marc A. Marti-Renom, Valentin A. Ilyin, and Andrej
Sali in Bioinformatics, vol. 17, #8 (August 2001), pp. 746-747.
Maybe there’s a URL, but I don’t know. I only saw
the abstract while searching for papers on
guitar acoustics. This paper was one of the
search results, evidently because the abstract mentions Ilyin and Sali’s
ModView at <>. Oh look — from that page
there are links to various bioinformatics resources of the Sali lab, including
one to DBAli.

As you will have noticed, this glossary is so up-to-the-CPU-cycle that you see
the new entries in the jumbled form they take as the news is breaking. You
also see the old entries that way. We strive for the genuine appearance of

I can remember when those heavy oversize citation and periodical indices would
lie heavy in my lap, as I used pencil-and-paper technology to record which
articles I needed while my legs fell asleep on the library carpeting. So I
don’t complain about a few inappropriate extra hits on my search (beta error).
Not too long after I learn what it is, we’ll have an entry for the
guitar nebula, too.

DiBromoAcetoNitrile. Other haloacetonitriles popular in water treatment
DCAN, and
Deutscher Beamtenbund. German Public Servants’ Union,
with 1.12 million members in 1997 (330 thousand female). The largest
union outside the DGB, q.v.
Double-Byte Character Set. A term used for various pre-Unicode character
encodings that used two-byte encodings only for some characters (albeit for
most of them, in fact) and single-byte encodings for others. The idea was to
allow compatibility with pure-ASCII systems where
possible. See “Internationalization and Character Set Standards” in
ACM Journal of Standards, pp. 31-39
(September 1993).

Dead-Burned Dolomite. Calcined dolomitic limestone.
Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. An NCEH division that has been promoted to a national
center of its own — NCBDDD. Also abbreviated
Discrete Block Format. Sector formatting for optical disc memory.
Deutscher Berufsverband
für Krankenpflege.
Earlier name of the organization
whose name was and is typically translated as `German Nurses Association.’ A
more precise translation would be `German Professional Association for
Nursing,’ where “German,” of course, modifies “Association.” The word
Pflege alone can mean `nursing’ in the medical sense, but the verb
pflegen means `take care of’ in other senses as well, including `groom,’
`manicure,’ `cultivate,’ `attend to,’ etc. Attachment of Kranken
([weak-form] genitive of `sick person, patient, invalid’) yields a narrower

At some point, the organization evidently came to feel that the term was too
narrow. As of early 2010, DBfK’s webpage explains that the DBfK “ist die
Interessenvertretung von Beschäftigten und Selbständigen der
Gesundheits- und Krankenpflege, der Gesundheits- und Kinderkrankenpflege und
der Altenpflege.”
Roughly, it `is the group representing the interests of
those employed and self-employed in health care and nursing, children’s health
care and nursing, and old-age care.’ I am grateful that they phrased this
using Pflege rather than Pflegerinnen und Pfleger (`female and
male nurses’).

The first compound noun in the name is Berufsverband. Beruf is
`profession.’ (A bit more literally, it’s `calling.’ You profess what you are
called to.) As Krankenpflege was evidently deemed to make the earlier
name too narrow, the name was changed to Der Deutsche Berufsverband für
The last word means `nursing professions’ or even `caring
professions,’ if you like that sort of term. The acronym was then
sealed, and in the usual way the
organization styles itself along the lines of “DBfK — Deutscher
Berufsverband für Pflegeberufe.”
(The DBfK itself seems to prefer
the lower-case-f form of the acronym, but the all-caps form seems to dominate.)

[Football icon]

The Dick Butkus Football Network.
Diameter Breast Height. The diameter (normally of a tree) measured at
“breast height” — 4.5 feet. For more of this, but without the trees, see
the bra size mathematics entry.
DataBase Interface. It rhymes — and it means something.
Deutschen Bibliotheksinstitut.
. Established at Clark Atlanta University
(CAU) with funding from the
Andrew Mellon Foundation. CAU was created
in 1988 from the merger of Clark College and Atlanta University. Atlanta
University was the institutional home of W.E.B. DuBois for many years, and from
1895 Atlanta University was a major venue for research and conferences on the
condition of blacks in the US.

See also DBI’s sister institution SCSPP.

DeciBel Milliwatts.
(0 dBm = 1 mW, 30 dBm = 1 W.)
Deterministic Boltzmann Machine.
DiamondBack Moth. (Plutella xylostella.)
dB Magazine
UCLA Daily Bruin
Arts and Entertainment MAGAZINE.
DataBase MisManager.
DataBase Management System. Also: RDBMS
and DDBMS (distributed).
De-Bottle-Necking. Like, removing bottle-necks, I think. See this used
in sentence by FFC at this page.
Dial-Back Number.
DiButyl Phosphate.
DiButyl Phthalate. A plasticizer.
Human flesh is a (very co-) polymer which mostly uses water as a plasticizer.
Disinfection By-Product.
DataBase Programming Language. Also the name of a particular DBPL (gzipped
PS here
) based on Modula-2 (the official successor of Pascal, which was proposed to point a way for Algol).
Distributed Bragg Reflect. In VCSEL‘s,
the endcap mirrors. Made by finite periodic structures that have a stop band
(SB) (optical speak for band gap) in wavelength
range of interest.
DeciBel Relative to Noise.
DeciBel Relative to Noise (C-notch or C-message).
DataBase Server.
DataBase System.
Deep Brain Stimulation. A therapeutic procedure for Parkinson’s disease,
approved in the US in 2002 or so. An electrode is implanted in the brain
(usually in either the thalamus, the globus pallidus internus, or the
subthalamic nucleus [STN]). Brief electric pulses
(usually in a rectangular pulse pattern) delivered by the electrode can control
tremors in many patients. (Failing that, they may at least reduce the amount
of medication patients have to take. Parkinson’s has a broad menu of symptoms
which manifest in various combinations and degrees.)

DBS has been been proposed and tried for a variety of other ailments, including
depression, OCD, and Tourette’s syndrome. In each
case, a different set of brain regions is targeted.

Batteries included! Implanted in your chest, typically, with wires running
subcutaneously along the side of the neck and up to the brain. Nowadays these
batteries are usually rechargeable, so surgery to replace them is infrequent.
There are many different designs and implementations. Some alternative
approaches involve an external battery driving a radio transmitter, and a
receiving-antenna coil over the site of the brain implant.

When an implanted power supply is used, however, there may be antennas also:
pulse generation, which has to be adjusted to the patient’s response, is often
controlled via radio communication with an external programmer or controller.
(Pulse generation also has to be turned on. The surgery to implant the
electrodes may provide about a month’s worth of stimulation; normally, pulse
generation isn’t turned on until that initial stimulatory effect has worn off.)

Double Barrier Structure.
Direct Binary Search. Vide M. A. Seldowitz, J. P. Allebach,
and D. W. Sweeney, “Synthesis of digital holograms by direct binary search,”
Applied Optics 26, pp. 2788-2798 (1987).
Direct (TV) Broadcast Satellite.
Satellites with high power (~100 W per channel), for transmission of radio and
TV signals that can be received by small dishes owned by individual end users.

By FCC dictamination, DBS satellites broadcasting
in the same band are (in geostationary orbit — GEO)
spaced 9 degrees of longitude apart rather than the conventional 2°, in
order to allow small dishes (say 16″ or 18″) to pick up the signal
without interference.

DBS is one of the two classes of “consumer satellites.” The other is
Medium-Powered Satellite (MPS).

Current usage makes DBS synonymous with any satellites used for
direct-to-home (DTH) transmission.
That is, DBS as defined by the FCC is conflated with satellite TV delivered
to end-users via ordinary satellites on the regular bands. This typically
requires 36-40″ dishes.

DeciBel Sound Pressure Level, defined so that
0 db SPL = 20×10-5 N/m2 =
200 pbar, a pressure level that is something like the best human sensitivity at
1 kHz. A typical human hearing threshold is 20 db SPL;
sensitivity is about 5 db better at about 3 kHz.)

However, on VU meters and other audio indicators, the label “0 dB” indicates
where a particular amplifier and typical tape head driver start saturating the
amp. Record below 0 to avoid distortion (and conversely).

Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Sounds like something out of the Gulag, but
it was developed in the West as a therapy for BPD.
Don’t twist your tongue. One good thing about the DBT initialism is that it
helps you avoid accidentally calling it diabolical behavior therapy.
DeciBel normalization used in telephony: on a
600-ohm line, 1 mW was 0.775 V. When dB are used to indicate power
(through voltage) in that way, regardless of impedance, this unit is used.
Also called “audio dBm.” “Radio dBm” is
referenced to a 50-ohm line (0.22 V is 0 dB). Actual usage gets even
DeciBel normalized to one watt (W). So
0 dBW is one watt of power, and 3 dBW is 2 W, etc.
Digital (private) Branch eXchange (PBX).
HEXylphenyl CyanoBenzoyloxy benzoate.
D & C
Democrat and Chronicle.
A Gannett-chain newspaper in Rochester, N.Y.
Depois de Cristo (Portuguese) or Después de Cristo
(Spanish). `After Christ’ — used in dates as
A.D. is used in English. Cf.
Desk Calculator. A reverse-Polish desk calculator which supports
“unlimited-precision” arithmetic. It’s an old gnu
utility. Actually, it’s an old Unix utility, but
that doesn’t make much of a pun, does it?

Originally, bc was a preprocessor for dc. But we haven’t figured out what bc
stands for, so we can’t tell you anything about it. Except that it’s
practically a baby-C-like calculator programming language. Maybe it
stands for Big Honkin’ Calculator? Nope — no aitch.

Developing Country. The acronym could as easily stand for Developed
Countries, so LDC is preferable.
Dietitians of Canada.
The Canadian ICDA member.
Diététistes du
. Wait a second — that’s the same abbreviation as in English. I’m going to have to rest a while and
try to figure out how this could have happened.
D & C
Dilatation and Curettage. I really don’t think we need to explain that
here. A curette is a spoon-shaped scraper.
Diners Club. A credit card.
dc, DC, D.C., d.c., D.-C., d.-c.
Direct Current. The forms with periods are old and out of fashion. In the
better electronics books that were published before television and widespread
illiteracy in the professional classes, you would see a consistent distinction
between D.C. and D.-C. D.C. was the abbreviation of the compound noun
and sometimes for the predicate adjective (substituting for direct
in, for example, “direct current flows” and “power supply is
direct current”).
The hyphenated form was used for ordinary adjectives, as in “D.-C. motor.”
The reason for the hyphen was straightforward: when a compound noun functions
attributively — i.e., as an adjective — a hyphen is used to make clear
that the noun one first encounters in reading is not functioning as a noun in
the larger context of the noun phrase. This is discussed further in the
attributive noun entry.
Similar remarks apply to the use of A.C., A.-C., etc.

The fact is that nowadays, dc, DC, etc., always stand for the adjective. If
you want to express the substantive “direct
current” in fewer than thirteen characters, you can use the AAP pleonasm “DC current.”

You needed to know this. If you want to know something, uh, substantive about direct current in electronics,
you should see the Alternating

DC, D.C.
District of Columbia. USPS abbreviation always
omits periods.

The Villanova University Law School provides some links to state government
web sites for DC. has
a page of District links.

The federal district for the US capital. “Washington, D.C.,” is all of the
D.C. there is; there’s no “Foobar, D.C.”
where Foobar has any value other than Washington. Once upon a time, however,
Washington was the name for only one section of the district.

Cf. D.F.

Debt Counselors of America.
A nonprofit group that helps people climb out of holes.

“If you’re going through some difficult financial times right now, don’t
give up. Being deep in debt is not fun. It’s scary and frightening but
you can survive. The panic attacks, waking up in the middle of the night,
and constant stress will begin to vanish once you take a positive step
towards getting out of debt. There is hope, we can help.”

DiChloroAcetic acid.
DC, D.C.
Doctor of Chiropractic. Chiropractic is a noun as well as an
adjective. Originally, chiropractic was based on an acupuncture-like theory
of disease and made outlandish claims about the possibility of curing a range
of ailments by manipulation of the spine. The Latin
root man- for hand appears in the word manipulate (for more see
the mano a mano entry); the Greek
root for hand, chiro-, was used in constructing chiropractic.

Since its establishment, chiropractic has tried and succeeded somewhat in
cleaning up its act — toning down its more preposterous claims, scrounging up
some scientifically sound clinical research support for its claims of efficacy.
A couple of people I know regularly visit chiropractors.

Chiropractic is a lot like a major religion: at first, it won converts at least
partly on the basis of a salvific wish-fulfillment fantasy so preposterous it
could only be accepted on faith. (As Augustine the Saint wrote, he believed
because it was absurd.) Once it had a number of regular communicants, it
amended the message. If people were rational, the jettison of initially
central claims might lead them to question the epistemic basis of the remaining
rationalizations. People are not rational, and they go on believing. “Judge
the tree by its fruit,” they say. One of my friends who goes to a
chiropractor told him to “stop doing the neck” after that professional did a
number on it.

By the way, you shouldn’t take this the wrong way: when I make fun of
religion, I’m making fun of someone else’s religion. Your
is very reasonable.

IATA abbreviation for “National Airport,”
serving Washington, DC. Congress renamed it
“Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.”
Digital Communications Associates.
Direct Chip Attach[ment]. Bare integrated circuit chip is placed
directly on printed wiring board (PWB).
DiChloroAcetoNitrile. Other haloacetonitriles popular in water treatment


Database of Classical
. A CD-ROM and custom (Ancient-Greek-capable) search software that features
l’Année Philologique (APh) and includes other
databases as well. DCB’s contract with SIBC requires that the most recent APh
volume included in the DCB discs remain three years behind the most recent
print APh volume. That’s pretty sad, because the APh itself is pretty far
behind. It’s no imposition, though, since DCB is more than three years behind,
and they’re “sold out” as of May 2000. (However, the DCB webpages are
never updated, so the situation may be a little better than advertised on the

Man, you’d be surprised at all the resentment seething under the calm urbane
surface of your ordinary classicist.

The DCB-CD version 2 (the one that’s sold out) contains 248,399 bibliographical
records from sixteen volumes of APh (vols. 45-60 covering 1974-1989). It comes
equipped with its own retrieval software for both Windows and Macintosh
platforms, with user-selectable English or French

Classicists lean disproportionately toward Macs rather than Windows machines
(though I don’t think Classics is majority-Mac any more). This probably had
something to do with the early character-set flexibility of the Macs, while
PC’s still had nothing but “IBM Character Set.”
Among the humanistic disciplines, Classics was an early adopter of computer

Data Control Block.
Double Cantilever Beam. The DCB test is widely used to characterize the
mode-I delamination and bridging behavior of laminated continuous-fiber
composite materials.
Data Communications Channel.
Data Country Code.
Departmental Computer Consultant.
Digital Compact Cassette.
Digital Cross Connect (system). Explanation at DXC.
Computing Consultants
at UB.
Double ConCave. Less ambiguous and less common than the abbreviation
Double Concave Cone (lens). See the article by
Keizo Kono, Mitsuru Irie, and Takumi Minemoto, “Generation
of Nearly Diffraction-Free Beams Using a New Optical System
,” Optical
, vol. 4, #3 (1997), pp. 423-428.
Dual Constant Composition.
Democratic (US political party) Congressional
Campaign Committee
. Some call it the “Dee-triple-Cee.” Officially
neutral in primaries, in 1998 it was especially heavy-handed in offing
mainstream Democratic primary candidates for “contested” seats, in favor of
conservatives who can help them regain control of Congress. Harvest the

The corresponding Democratic Senate group is DSCC.
The Republican House group analogous to the DCCC is the
NRCC (National Republican Congressional Committee).

Fast-forward to 2001. Funny how things turn out.

Dallas County Community College District.
Dimensions of Critical
Care Nursing.
The editor in chief is Vickie A. Miracle, RN, EdD, CCRN,
CCNS, CCRC. how did she get all those letters after her name? That’s, that’s
just… that’s just amazing!
Data Carrier Detect.
Disk CaDd.
DC/DC converter
A circuit that converts a DC voltage into a
larger DC voltage, typically by chopping it into AC
and transforming that. Check with Power
Convertibles Corp.
Data Communication[s] Equipment. Most often, this refers to the data
circuit-terminating equipment (e.g., a modem or printer) that interfaces to one side with
the DTE and to a communication channel (e.g.,
telephone line) on the other.
Distributed Computing Environment. Here’s some stuff on the
DCE project at UB.
Dénomination Commune Français. Official French generic drug
Direct-Coupled FET Logic. Logic family using both depletion-mode and
enhancement-mode MESFET’s (or
HEMT’s). Very similar to
NMOS logic with depletion-mode active loads.
Requires more accurate threshold-voltage tuning than pure d-mode FET logics.
Don’t Cry For Me Argentina (.ar).
Derived (environmental contaminant) Concentration Guideline[s].
DiChromated Gelatin. Highly photorefractive material, for holography.
Doped-Channel High Electron Mobility Transistor
Dual-channel Heterostructure (Field-effect) Transistor (Dual-channel)
HFET”. Can function
as a velocity-modulated transistor.
Desktop Color Imaging.
Direct-Current Ionization. In some applications, this is called
Director of Central Intelligence. Head of the CIA.
Discovery Civilizations. A cable TV channel
available (starting in 2002) in Canada. (That’s
the “C.”) Scheduling and content of cable channels often don’t quite match
up between US and Canadian distributions. As of August 2002, the schedules of
the Canadian version aren’t being made available, but they do seem to coincide
with DCIVU.
Discovery Civilizations. A cable TV
channel, US version. See AWOTV for programming
relevant to the ancient world.
Data Control Language.
Delay Calculator Language
for chip timing design.
Detection, Classification and Localization. Target acquisition talk.
Digital { Control | Command } Language. System control language for
Digital Equipment Corporation mainframe.
Delay Calculator Language Procedural Interface.
DC Out(put).
Défenses Civiles Populaires.
Direct-Current Plasma.
Distributed Collaborative Planning.
Denver Center for the Performing

Direct-Current Plasma (DCP)
Atomic Emission Spectroscopy (AES).

Not the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) Electron Spectroscopy (ES).

District of Columbia Public Schools.
Differential Coherent Phase-Shift Keying.
Design Change Request. How dare you! Again!
Digital Cable Radio.
of the Colon & Rectum
. A journal. The masochist’s ideal bathroom
reader. Also the official journal of
DCS 1800
Digital Cellular Standard for 1800 MHz band. A
GSM-compliant standard first implemented as a
pan-European standard, starting in 1990, to replace the panoply of existing
national and regional standards that were implemented in the 80’s. It’s
experienced phenomenal growth.
Digital Cross-connect (DCC) System.
Following a more systematic naming pattern, it’s also called
DSX. Explanation at DXC.
Discrete Cosine Transform.
Denver Center Theatre Company. A producing division of the DCPA.
Directors’ Choice Theater Company.
Live theater for the Washington, D.C.Baltimore area.
Direct-coupled Transistor Logic. The logic family is long obsolete,
but the philosophy behind it evolved into I²L,
which is also dead. I don’t know if any Schottky I²L is used
Data Cache Unit.
Double ConcaVe (lens). A lens with two
inward-curving faces and a negative focal length, used to form a reduced image
or to spread a light beam. Cf. PCV, DCX.
Dielectric Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).
That’s the deposition of dielectric films, not deposition
by dielectric, particularly.
District of Columbia
Veterinary Medical Association
. See also AVMA.
Double Charge eXchange.
Double ConveX (lens). A lens with two
outward-curving faces and a positive focal length, used to magnify an image or
as a condensing lens (i.e., to concentrate a light beam). Cf. PCX, DCV.
Channel Young Scientist Challenge
. A science contest for students in
grades 5 through 8. Each year, a number of “finalists” are chosen from among
students who compete in regional science and engineering fairs affiliated with
Science Service in US states and
territories (there’s no regional quota or allocation, it appears). Top prizes
are scholarships, and there are large numbers of smaller prizes like tee
Data Definition. In IBM JCL, A DD
card or statement describes the attributes of a
data set or file, and every data set or file used by an application code
requires a DD statement.

DD is part of the Unix children’s
alphabet poem
(alternate locations:

C is for CC, as hackers recall, while
D is for DD, the command that does all.

E is for Emacs, which rebinds your keys, and

F is for Fsck, which rebuilds your trees.

By some metric that weights opacity and frequency multiplicatively, the worst
statement in IBM JCL is //SYSIN DD *.
The // means
that a JCL statement follows, SYSIN is a system logical name
(all DD statements begin with such a statement label, which identifies just
which data are being defined. The * means that control
cards follow. To the tune of “Camp-town Races,” the approved way to
read this card is “Slash Slash Sysin Dee-Dee Star, Doo-dah, Doo-dah.”

D & D
Decontamination and Decommissioning.
Depacketization Delay.
Disthymic Disorder. Sad, but not so sad.
Doctoral Dissertation.
Doctor of Divinity.

In fall 1998, the dean of Harvard Divinity
was forced to resign after thousands of pornographic images were
found on his Harvard-owned personal computer. (This was only revealed the
following May; so he could find another job, maybe?)

The pornographic material was found on the office computer at his
Harvard-owned residence at Jewett House. The discovery was made after Thiemann
requested more disk space for one of his Harvard-owned machines, which was
full, according to university sources. He actually asked the computer
department to transfer the pornographic files to the new disk drive, according
to sources that should probably be admired for not breaking up laughing.

Cf. mv, tar,

Domain Decomposition. This isn’t as rotten as it sounds.
Double-Dee. Next brassiere cup size after D.
Cf. AA.

Normally, when a head term has two or more entries, I try to order the
entries by alphabetical order of definitions or expansions, but not this
time. I mean really, if you know the where to look for the definition,
you probably already know the definition anyway, and you’re just reading this
glossary for your own perverted purposes, like sordid entertainment, and
slowing down the server for people who need it for serious research. Shame!

[A 3.5-inch floppy, perhaps you've seen one]

Double Density (floppy disk).
This designation is preferred for 3½”
because all 3.5 diskettes are double-sided; the older-style, larger-diameter
diskettes take the designation (DSDD: Double-Sided
DD) because the first ones were one-sided. [No, they were not Möbius
discs, they were only supposed to be recorded on one side. At some point,
after two-sided disks became available, someone realized that the cheaper
one-sideds could be recorded on both sides — it was cheaper to manufacture
just one type.

DD 3.5 diskettes hold only about 800Kbytes of data apiece. If you have an old
computer that expects DD, you can still insert HD diskettes and they should
work. DD diskettes are recognizable from the single notch (on extreme left
corner of illustration at right) with a sliding cover (open or missing cover
for write protection, closed to enable writing; if you lost the slide,
cover with opaque tape). If you have a drive that recognizes HD diskettes,
but have written at DD on another machine, or want to write in DD format to
be read by another machine, then cover the extra hole (no sliding cover)
on the other side.

Double Diffusion.
Drift-Diffusion (model[ing]).
D&D, d+d
Drug and Disease. Personals-ad usage, as in “D&D-free.”
D & D
Dungeons and Dragons. Highly involved role-playing games (RPG‘s), popular among college students. Rules and
roles made up and sometimes stated by a dungeon master (DM).
HTML mark-up tag
(in angle brackets: <DD>) for the
definition part of a definition-list entry. Hence, for example,
the mark-up for this entry reads:

<DT>DD<A NAME=”DDhtml”> </A>
<DD><A HREF=”H.html#HTML”>HTML</A> mark-up tag
(in angle brackets: &lt;DD&gt;) for the
definition part of a definition-list entry. Hence, for example,
the mark-up for this entry reads:
&lt;DT&gt;DD&lt;A NAME=&quot;DDhtml&quot;&gt; &lt;/A&gt;
&lt;DD&gt;&lt;A HREF=&quot;H.html#HTML&quot;&gt;HTML&lt;/A&gt; mark-up tag
(in angle brackets: &amp;lt;DD&amp;gt;) for the
definition part of a definition-list entry. Hence, for example,
the mark-up for this entry reads:

Uhhh, etc.
Dial-on-Demand Access. A service of routers (available in Cisco IOS) used for two purposes:

  1. Dial backup (or dial back-up): Automatic reestablishment of connectivity
    by an alternate path when there is a disruption in the primary connection (modem or DSU/CSU
    failure, mice eating the insulation, etc.).
    “Dial” is used loosely here: the connection may be over various kinds of
  2. Dynamic bandwidth: Use of the dial backup techniques to add bandwidth as
    needed. Need is usually determined by simple algorithm: exceeding a high
    bandwidth-utilization level for a predetermined minimum time triggers bandwidth
    expansion, falling below a low bandwidth-utilization level for a given time
    triggers scale-back.

Cf. DDR.

Digital Differential Analyzer.
Directed Duty Assignment.
Dispensing Doctors’
. An association “[r]epresenting family doctors in primary
care in the UK who dispense medications for
Doris Day Animal
. Home of “Spay Day USA.” Which Day was that?!
Doris Day Animal League.
D. Day
Doris Day. Born Doris Mary
Ann Von Kappelhoff, April 3, 1928
. This Dee Dee was a sort of
department-store Bee Bee, the way French fashions in those days were quickly copied, with
adjustments for a more modest
style, in cheaper materials for the American mass market. After the days when
she appealed to animal instincts, BB became an animal rights activist; DD did
too, in the more modest American political fashion — see DDAF, DDAL.

In a series of romantic comedy trifles in the fifties and sixties, she was
often cast with a central-casting prune as a best friend, to establish
contrast. It’s been pointed out that in her films that she never had trouble
finding a parking space, but is that so odd? If a character in a movie is
going to have difficulty finding a parking space, it has to be written into
the screenplay, and it ought to advance the story.

The day of the Allied (mostly combined Anglophone) invasion of Normandy
during WWII. Why D-Day and not A-Day
or B-Day? Well, the action began at H-Hour…

Cf. Dee Day.

Device-Dependent Bitmap.
Distributed DataBase Management System.
Disinfection and Disinfection By-Products.
ddC, DDC
DiDeoxyCytidine. An NRTI used in
AIDS treatment. Roche’s trademarked name for the
drug is HIVID; the
generic name is
zalcitabine (written
Zalcitabin in German).
Dewey Decimal Classification.
A system (and it does tend to be called the “Dewey Decimal System”) for
classifying library and archival materials. It is more straightforwardly
hierarchical than the LC system (the LCC), and tends to be more popular for smaller
collections. It seems to be pretty standard for public-school libraries and
for the public libraries of smaller cities. The original Dewey system,
promulgated in 1876, was developed by an American librarian named Melvil Dewey
(Dec. 10, 1851-Dec. 26, 1931). [One of the early (command-line and apparently
curses-driven) OLCL’s was called MELVIL. Now you
know why.]

The Dewey system defines fewer than a thousand “general fields of knowledge”
between 000 and 999, with decimal-fraction subdivisions. One of the striking
things about Dewey’s system is that all of English prose fiction is subsumed
under a one or two of those “general fields.” I can’t recall, but let’s say
it’s 823. (If there are two then one is for American and one for other
English-language prose fiction; I’ll look into it.) If you look in a library
that uses the Dewey system, you won’t find many books there, even though (or
rather because) very roughly half of the books in a public library are prose
fiction. Most libraries that use the Dewey system split the collection into
fiction and “nonfiction” (whatever isn’t prose fiction, or prose fiction in
English); they catalogue and shelve nonfiction according to Dewey, and fiction
alphabetically (perhaps by Cutter numbers). Poetry is typically shelved with

There are various other systems, though there is a trend toward
standardization. Computerization of library catalogs has obviously facilitated
this, and mobility has probably also reduced the tolerance of library patrons
for idiosyncratic local systems. The change-over can be a problem, however.
When I used the Princeton University libraries in
the 1970’s and 1980’s, many books were still catalogued using the local
Richardson Classification scheme. For most major subject categories in the
Fine Hall Library (Physics and Math), there were newer books under LC numbers
and older books under the Richardson numbers.
This webpage of
the OCLC lists 30 “other” classification schemes.
Perhaps the most widely used decimal scheme on a global basis is the
UDC, q.v. Another decimal scheme is the
Dutch SISO.

Edition 22 of the Dewey system was rolled out in mid-2003 on a gurney. Well,
it was stretched out, anyway. Four volumes; I hope they’re shelved together.
By the way, new editions don’t just add more digits and subcategories, you know
— they sometimes reshelve books to different parts of the library. For
example, 647.94 of Edition 21 (hotel directories — “interdisciplinary and
descriptive”) became 910.46 in Edition 22. “We
anticipate this will be a welcome relocation
the descriptive literature on lodging (in contrast to the literature directed
toward people maintaining the lodging) is almost exclusively of interest to
travelers. Materials on household management in the hospitality industry, bed
and breakfast establishments, hostels, hotels, inns, motels, resorts will
remain at 647.94. Other relocations include interdisciplinary and descriptive
works on resorts relocated to 910.462; on bed and
relocated to 910.464; on hostels relocated to 910.466; and on campsites
relocated to 910.468. Interdisciplinary works on the hospitality industry have
been relocated to 338.4791, and on tourism to 910. Facilities for travelers and
lodging for travelers (including hotels, motels, etc.) in specific areas have
been relocated from 647.943-647.949 to 913-919 together with the new notation
06 in the add table at 913-919.

Stay tuned for further exciting developments.

Direction du développement et de la

Dual Dielectric Charge Storage Device.
Digital Data Communications Message Protocol. (Associated with
Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. It “is in some ways
unlike any other dictionary in the field of biblical studies. This is the
first catalogue of its kind, one which discusses all the gods and demons whose
names are found in the Bible. Complementing the usual surveys and histories of
Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Ugaritic, Syro-Palestinian, Persian, Greek, and Roman
religion, DDD assesses the impact of contemporary religions on Israel
and the Early Church by focusing on those gods that actually left traces in the
Bible.” (Except as noted, quotes in this entry are taken from the

The “traces” are found in five groups:

  1. Gods mentioned by name (as gods).
    “Obvious examples include Asherah, Baal, El, Hermes,
    Zeus, and others. … In some instances the names are found only in
    the Septuagint and not in the corresponding section of the Masoretic
    text.” The example given in Jeremiah 46:15, which is
    éphugen ho Apis” in the LXX
    (`[Why] has Apis fled?’) where the Masoretic text has the single verb
    (I don’t know the vowels) NSHP (`[Why] was it swept away?’).
    It’s not especially clear what’s going on here, but as usual (and not
    entirely without justification) the contrast is described as
    “valuable” information. Anyone could valuate it.
  2. Gods whose names are etymons of theophoric anthroponyms and
    toponyms (that’s personal and place names, okay?).
    It is conscientiously animadverted that the people of
    Anathoth cannot be assumed to worship Anat, and that Tychicus may not
    worship Tyche, etc., “[y]et such names reflect a certain familiarity
    with the deities in question, if not of the inhabitants of the town or
    the bearer of the name, then at least of their ancestors or their
    surroundings.” Well, yes, and they can call that “part of the
    religious milieu of the Bible,” but often I can call it insignificant.
  3. “Demythologized deities.”
    The common-noun category corresponding to the previous
    group of names. An interesting though trivial example: tirosh,
    the Hebrew word for `new wine,’ is “etymologically the equivalent of
    the Mesopotamian deity Sirish and the Canaanite god Tirash. Further,
    “[o]ne of the Hebrew words for the moon used in the Bible is
    yareah; this is the etymological equivalent of Yarikh, the
    moon-god known from Ugaritic texts.” Alas poor Yarikh. I’ll spare
    you their extenuation for including notice of these words. They’re
    being thorough, and I approve that.
    One may wonder, in cases like Yarikh, whether what is
    found is not a reversion to or a continuation of a nonreligious
    tradition. That is, that the originally nonmythological moon’s name,
    for example, was drafted into mythological service. The goddess of the
    dawn is Eos in Greek and Aurora in Latin. It is clear
    that these are not separate developments from a common goddess name,
    but separate uses of different word for dawn for a goddess. Surely the
    same can happen even when the nonmythological names have a common
    etymology, and sometimes it must happen in only some of the languages
    with shared etymology. In fact, the authors of this work are not
    foolish about this. Here is the first part of the entry for
    mouth: “The mouth or utterance of a god–the two notions are
    often expressed with the same word [Sumerian ka, Akkadian
    ]–is sometimes made into an independent deity in
    Mesopotamia. The etymological equivalent in Hebrew (peh) does
    not seem to have enjoyed a comparable divine status.”
  4. Questionable gods.
    Basically editorial creativity, “correcting” the text in
    some way to discover god names. Some of this comes from altering
    lexical material absent in the original texts. (Word spacing was
    absent in the original Greek; vowels, indicated by pointing in the
    Masoretic text, were not indicated in the original Hebrew.) Some comes
    from changing similar-sounding or similar-appearing letters that might
    have been incorrectly transmitted. Example of the former
    reinterpretation: The Hebrew word ra, `evil,’ may be
    reinterpreted as the name of the Egyptian sun god. Some of these
    questionable gods are imaginary in multiple ways.
  5. Divinized human figures.
    Primarily Jesus, but taking a loose standard of “god,”
    also Mary, Enoch, Moses, and Elijah.

Bible” is understood by the editors in a fairly
comprehensive way: as the Bible of the Orthodox Churches. This consists of the
completest canon of the Septuagint (including all of what some traditions call
the Apocrypha, even to 3 and 4 Maccabees), plus the Greek New Testament. The
Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible is used as a parallel source. “Though many
articles pay attention to the subsequent development of notions and concepts in
the Pseudepigrapha, the latter have not been used as an independent quarry of
theonyms.” Authors also rely on rabbinic literature, but I assume they don’t
use Talmud as a source of theonyms either.

Direct Distance Dialing. I.e., direct long-distance
dialing by customer. This initialism was used in the US and
Canada; another Commonwealth usage was
STD. Now that direct dialing is the default, of
course, one is less likely to use these terms than one is to speak of buying a
“color TV” or an “electronic calculator.”
Digital-Digital-Digital. Audio CD‘s may be
designated AAD, ADD, or DDD. The successive letters indicate whether analog or
digital equipment was used in the respective stages of production:
(1) original recording, (2) mixing and editing, (3) mastering (transcription).
Triple-Dee. One size larger than double-dee
Dynamic Data-Driven Applications System[s].
NASDAQ trading code for
4th Dimension Software Ltd. Numbers are not allowed in these codes
(similarly, 7th Level has SEVL).
DichloroDiphenylEthane. A product of DDT
breakdown; binds to testosterone receptors. Even today, this seems to be
causing Florida Everglades toads to leave their girlfriends cold on Saturday
night. It’s getting harder and harder to be green.

The abbreviation is also used for a couple of dichlorodiphenyl

Direct Data Entry.
Drift-Diffusion Equations.
Dwight David Eisenhower. “Ike.”
Dynamic Data Exchange. MS Windows term.
Cover-your-ass-ese for
deaf/hearing-impaired/whatever-the-latest-and-PCest-expression-is. (Some
people insist on capitalizing the word to emphasize the separate-culture
aspects of the situation or Whatever.)
Digital Data Exchange Specification.
Data Dependence Graph. Used in logic design.
Derechos Humanos.
Spanish for `Human Rights.’ (Initials doubled
to represent plurals.)
ddI, DDI
DiDanosIn. Alternate name videx.
An NRTI used in the treatment of
Deputy Director of Intelligence.
Driver Development Kit (from Microsoft).
Data Definition Language.
Document Description Language.
Defense Data Network.
Distributed Data Management.
Datagram Delivery Protocol.
Differential Display PCR.
Deutsche Demokratische Republik. German for GDR.
Dial-on-Demand Routing. A fancy kind of DDA:
temporary WAN connections are opened in response to
packets recognized as “interesting.” “Interesting” is predefined in terms
of protocols and addresses.
Disarm, Demobilize, and Reintegrate. Initialism used by the Iraqi
government and by the US-led coalition in Iraq. As tribal groups started
flipping in 2007 and either fighting AQI or
cooperating in the fight against AQI, the government side has tried to set up
DDR programs, looking to the long term.
Dual Dielectric Resonator Oscillator (DRO).
DATAPHONE Digital Services.
Digital Data Service.
Digital Data Storage.
Direct Digital Service.
Direct Digital Synthesis.
Doctor of Dental Surgery.
Delay Dial, Start Dial. Standard incantation to the Hayes modems, whose
language became the official standard back in the early eighties.
Distributed Decision Support Network. Sounds like your buddies helping
you get rid of a hot potato. Cf. DDSS.
Distributed Decision Support Server. Sounds like the sucker your
buddies found for you to get rid of the hot potato. Cf. DDSN.
Double Daylight Saving Time. Clock time
advanced by two hours relative to standard time. DDST makes the greatest sense
at high latitudes, where Summer dusks are very late and where Winter dawns
(which play a part in determining local standard times) are also late. DDST
(under the name British Double Summer Time) was
used in the UK during the Summers of
WWII. (Otherwise, during the war, it was on
single-hour DST.)

Newfoundland‘s independence was recognized by the
UK in the Statute of Westminster (1932), but two years later it went broke and
resumed the status of a colony until 1949. During WWII, Newfoundland followed
Britain’s lead in adopting DDST, but there was great resistance to DDST outside
St. John’s.

In 1988, the Canadian province of Newfoundland tried a DDST experiment in 1988.
The shift occurred in Spring, substituting a two-hour “spring forward” for
the usual one. That (let’s call it “simple shift”) might be the only
instance in which DDST was implemented as a full two-hour shift. There were
the usual drawbacks, and coordination problems with the rest of Canada were,
oh, I’d say about twice as bad as with regular DST. (No, a factor of 2 doesn’t
make sense when you think about it. So don’t think about it.) The response to
DDST was positive, but DDST was dropped in subsequent years because there was
not a majority for a single shift calendar. (Favoring the use of both DST and
DDST, or of shifting to DDST on other than the dates that neighboring parts of
Canada shift to DST, is support for DDST in principle, but these more
complicated options are less preferable than ordinary DST for others who favor
simple-shift DDST. Hence, there was not an effective majority for DDST.
Similar issues arise in elections with three or more candidates.)

In July 1941, FDR proposed legislation that would
have given him power to establish DST with time advances as large as two hours.
We’re getting off the subject of DDST now, but I’m sure you want to know that
this and other DST bills languished until after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The following January, legislation was passed that established year-round
one-hour DST for the duration [more
precisely, until six months after the cessation of hostilities], and gave the
president no discretion in the matter. At the end of the war, further
legislation rescinded federally-mandated DST earlier than the date originally
set, and War Time ended on Sunday, September 30.

An unbelievably effective insecticide. After it was first tested, all
subsequently tested formulas were also found to be fabulously effective, until
it was realized that the effect was due to DDT residue in the test chamber.
DDT has been widely banned for its side-effects on beneficial insects and on
other animals. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was the Uncle Tom’s
that energized that movement. Although DDT has been outlawed in
the US for years, we still see effects (see DDE).

In 2006, the WHO announced that it would encourage
the use of DDT to fight malaria. The decision comes only decades too late for
millions of dead.

The mnemonic to remember DDT’s structure is

A mosquito was heard to complain,
That the chemists had poisoned his brain,
The cause of his sorrow,
Was para-dichloro-
Di-phenyl Trichloroethane!

Developed by Paul H. Müller who received the 1948 Nobel Prize in
Physiology or Medicine “for his discovery of the high efficiency of DDT as a
contact poison against several arthropods.” (I’m not sure exactly when this
work was done, but it was ca. 1936.
You could look it up.)

Device-Dependent X-windows. As opposed to Device-Independent X (DIX), of course. Note that while the expression
“machine-dependent code” referred to a coding style or (lack of)
discipline, DDX refers to a part of X.

[Football icon]

Defensive End. A position in American football.
A generic term, because the defensive line typically has two ends (RE and LE). It ain’t
topology, you know. See OLB.
DelawarE. (No, not “DElaware.” That would be just too obvious.)
It’s a USPS abbreviation. Actually, it’s a USPS
symbol for the state. It’s written without the period that normally follows an
abbreviation, but the symbol happens to be formed from a subset of the letters
that spell the state name, so it’s an abbreviated form of the state name, so
we’re gonna let it slide.

The Villanova University Law School provides some links to state government
web sites for
. has
a page mostly of Delaware city and
town links

Desktop Environment. The term is general across GUI‘s, but I think the term comes up more in Linux
because of the broad selection, and the tendency of Linux users to sample and
experiment with different distros.
Detector Efficiency.
Diatomaceous Earth.
Discard Eligibility.
(Domain name code for) Germany [Deutschland]. Germany has the
greatest variety of etymologically unrelated names among European countries.
Italy uses versions of at least three:
Alemani, Germania, Tedesco. For
crying out loud
, as recently as 1990 it had two official names in
(and capitals, etc.).

The Saxony entry at SN explains a couple of the
names of Germany, but remember that etymology is not an exact science.
Italian Tedesco and various forms of
Dutch or deutsch come from Old High German diutisc,
`national’ used to distinguish the national (i.e., local ethnic language and
people from the international or catholic Latin).
The Aleman- names come from a tribe known to
Julius Caesar as the Alemanni, from
cognates of our words all + men.

The US government’s Country Studies
has a page of
(“Germany Country Studies”) amounting to the online version of its
Germany book.
Ariadne, “The European and
Mediterranean link resource for Research, Science and Culture,” has a
page of national links

Here’s some general
information online
from the
Chemistry Department at the Free University of Berlin
. A
Center for Information Services at the
FU Berlin serves a geographically organized
list of German WWW servers.
Marcus Berndt serves
a page
of German press links
There’s a German

The international telephone calling code for all of Germany is 49.

Some German search engines:
Deutscher Branchenindex
(Deutsches InterNet-Organisationssystem)

Here’s the German
of an X.500 directory located in Germany.

We have a bit more information at FRG.

DiEthylAniline. Let’s say, N,N-diethylaniline, just to be specific.
Drug Enforcement Administration. They break down your door and
make sure that you obeyed your doctor’s prescription. Something like
that, anyway.
DiEthyl AzoDicarboxylate. Cf. TEAD.

For a review of “DEAD chemistry” in general,
see E. Fahr, H. Lind article in Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. vol.
5, 4 (1966). For Diels-Alder reactions of DEAD with dienes, see
B.T. Gillis, P.E. Beck, J. Org. Chem. vol. 27, 1947 (1962) and
vol. 28, 3177 (1963); B.J. Franzus, J. Org. Chem. vol. 28,
2954 (1963).

dead honest
Frequently so.


dead language
Some people (by “some people” I mean mostly teachers of Latin or Greek)
take offense at the use of the term “dead language” to refer to a language
whose native speakers are all dead. Spanish is
perhaps more in-their-faces about this: the phrase lenguas modernas
(`modern languages’) is about equivalent to lenguas vivas (`living
languages’). The second term is less common, but there are regional variations
(e.g. the vivas term is more common in Argentina).
dead man’s handle
A common safety device on machinery that requires continuous human
monitoring; typically a lever or handle meant to be held by the human
monitor or operator. The design of the system interprets release of the
handle or lever as inattention, incapacity or absence of a (live) operator,
so release triggers safety action such as shut-off moving equipment,
braking of the vehicle, purging of chemical vapors vel sim.

A typical old implementation of a dead man’s handle in railed vehicles
is a brake bar that applies the brakes when released. In the electric
trams in San Francisco, the main brake is set up this way. A driver there
once explained to me how he used the brake bar to steer (switch tracks) as
well. I don’t know if this was a design feature, but I imagine you’re bound
to come up with this sort of trick anyway if
you stand for hours all day doing mostly nothing but
handling the brake (see manual
). A lot of the drivers in the electric busses develop a
patter and compete for best-driver of the month, often actively encouraging
their passengers to mail in votes. If professors are frustrated actors,
then these drivers are frustrated stand-up comedians.

There used to be a comic strip about a crime investigator (I think) named
Modesty Blaise, back in the sixties. (Since then, people have been reading
newspapers less regularly, making it more difficult to sustain a plot. One
adjustment has been to repeat plot developments so that anyone reading
three or four strips a week can follow, but that has slowed the stories
down. Anyway, the comic strip, illustrated by Neville Colvin, is no more.)
A series of books, by writer Peter O’Donnell, was spawned by the comic-strip
series, and one of those books was Dead Man’s Handle. Has a nice
ring, doesn’t it?

The old-style dead man’s handle on British trains is a DSD.

dead reckoning
A corruption of ded. reckoning, which abbreviated deduced
reckoning. Navigation in which one computes (i.e. reckons) one’s
position by integrating velocity vector to deduce position vector. The
alternative is pilotingi.e., navigating by identifying
landmarks (which might include, say, stars).
Vide Deke.
Dear Leader
Official expression of affection and admiration spontaneously used
by all North Korean subjects for Kim Jong Il, son of the late Stalinist
leader Kim Il Sung (“[Something-I-forget] Leader”) and currently at
least the nominal leader of North Korea (.kp).

Many dictators have delusions of grandeur. Dear Leader has delusions
of taste. That’s not so rare either.

You can have a dearth of just about anything, but you can’t have two.
The Ur-fermionic operator. Cf.
job statistics.
Nickname for `Debbie,’ which is a nickname for `Deborah.’
DEButante. A young woman making her formal debut into Society.
A verb meaning bar. It’s one of those counterintuitive uses of de-
like denude. These seem contradictory because the prefix in its living,
still-productive form is mainly privative.

In many older words the prefix has a more geometric sense. The best-recognized
geometric sense is `down,’ as in depress (press down), depend
(< Latin dependere, `to hang down’),
descend (< L. descendere, `to
climb down’), and devour (< L. devorare, `gulp down’).

The sense of de- in debar is `away from.’ So to debar is to bar away
, as to denude is to strip away from, etc.

Debating links in this glossary:

Directional Electron Ballistic Coupler. Various ideas have been


Latin, Decimus. A praenomen meaning `the tenth,’ typically
abbreviated when writing the full tria nomina. Also just “D.” —
there really weren’t that many common ones.
Declination. Latitude, in a spherical polar coördinate
earth-centered system used for astronomy. The other coördinate in this
system is (RA).
Digital Equipment Corporation. Founded 1957. Bought by Compaq in 1997 or 1998, which was in turn bought by
Hewlett-Packard in 2Q2002.

Double-bit Error Correction.
The title Decadence and the Making of Modernism caught my eye. It’s
on a book by David Weir, and it was published by a university press (University
of Massachusetts’s), so it’s a fair bet to be a dull read, but it’s fascinating
for almost two pages. The table of contents is quick read. Here are some
highlights: the last numbered chapter is “7 The Decline of Decadence.”
Chapter 6 is “Decadence and Modernism: Joyce and Gide,” so it seems you have
to work up to the title subject no matter which end you start from. Chapter 4
is “Decadence and Aestheticism: Pater’s Marius the Epicurean.” Wow,
let’s keep going. Here’s the beginning of the Acknowledgments:

Decadence and degeneration have little in common: one refines corruption and
the other corrupts refinement. [Whether that’s true or not, it certainly
sounds like having a lot in common.]
The decadent, at least, maintains a standard of decline, while the degenerate
lets those standards slip. In this book, I have tried to measure up to the
level of decadence achieved by my models and mentors, friends and colleagues.
[I can imagine their pleasure at this acknowledgment.] But in decadence as in
other matters, nothing fails like success: those who are truly decadent do not

(No, what it is that the truly decadent do not do is not elaborated upon. I’m
not sure if I’m decayed about this or degenerated.) I’m afraid that Chapter 1
(“The Definition of Decadence”) bored before it enlightened me. Possibly
this counts as a negative success, a consequence of the author’s “negative

(And decadence and degeneration are subtly important, sure, but let’s not
neglect degradation.)

What, you read all the way through the entry? Congratulations! You’ve won our
Grand Prize! Just call during business hours and mention this entry. (Offer
expires December 21, 2005.)

The transfer of an image by means of decalcomania, or the image so
transferred. The word decalcomania is borrowed from the
French décalcomanie, constructed
from the verb décalquer `to transfer a tracing’ and manie,
`mania, craze.’ (The meaning of the term is most easily understood by ignoring
the second element. This -manie word was apparently constructed on the pattern
of the earlier potichomanie (borrowed as
potichomania, q.v.).
Decalcomania was all the rage in the mid-60’s. The mid-1860‘s. In
Europe, anyway. The Modern Greek word for decal is chalkomanía.
DECd, deCd
DiEthyl CaDmium. An organic precursor used in MOCVD growth of II-VI
Decertif. A bad end to a labor union.
decisive factor
A foggy concept useful for emphasizing whatever one pleases.
In the Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” there’s a lyric
“girl with kaleidoscope eyes.” Many people think the song is called
“Lucy in Disguise with
Diamonds,” and almost everyone understands
the kaleidoscope lyric as “girl with colitis goes by.” Most normal
people, however, will accept the published title and the intended
lyrics as somehow more “true” or “valid” than their own perceptions.
Moreover, normal people will believe it contributes to their understanding
of the song to know that it was motivated by a drawing that John Lennon’s
5-year-old son brought home from school, depicting his classmate Lucy in a
diamond-decorated sky, even if they still suspect that there’s a sly
reference to LSD.

These attitudes distinguish people who have their heads on straight from
people who do deconstruction. Deconstructionism is a religion which
preaches the irrelevance of the personal motives of the author, and seeks
perversely to find in every “text” the meaning that is the opposite of
that intended. While even the texts that espouse this viewpoint can be and
indeed have been deconstructed, there is a bias in the selection of texts:
Until recently, Marxist and other texts to which deconstructionists had
some political attachment were less likely to undergo this destructive
analysis. It appears that even deconstructionists hold some meanings to
be somehow more worthwhile in some way, for reasons which are not contained
in deconstructionism itself. Whitman was not contained between his hat and
his boots, but that’s completely irrelevant.

It is difficult to regard as intellectually honest an enterprise that
questions the possibility of meaning.

This just in! In response to an email barrage from thousands of ordinary
Americans outraged by my calumny of deconstruction and my controversial
opinions about the possibility of meaning, I find I must issue a complete
and abject retraction.
(Well, not thousands actually. Two. Well, actually, somebody looked at me
funny today. Must have read the deconstruction entry. It’s important to
be sensitive to reader response, because there’s so little of it.)

I leave my original comments above, as a silent self-indictment of my
It is obvious that no one takes me seriously as a critic of
criticism, despite my credentials. (Hey,
everyone’s a critic!) I therefore refer
the gentle reader and ordinary American to the newsweakly People.
The results of a scientific, 100%-biased survey revealed for 18 September
1995 include the following progress in the field of Lori Petty studies:

“The man-tailored garb … worn in Manhattan last [F]all inspires
Denise Wingate to theorize,

`She’s going for the European deconstructionist look, but it’s sloppy.’ ”

I hope that helps (HTH).

Finally, one may say that deconstruction is third-person self-abnegation. This
is a shareware definition: If you use it you owe me a nickel. If you
understand it you owe me a dime. If you think a truth value can be
meaningfully assigned to it, call me, I
have a bridge for sale cheap.

I was going to write about Kierkegaard here, and how he tried to submerge
the author of his own books by using various transparent pseudonyms, and
about other stuff, but I was deflated to learn that Plato was also a
deconstructionist, so somehow it doesn’t seem so novel anymore.

Jacques Derrière is a famous deconstructionist. [If it is past
5pm October 8, then dissing Derrida is passé and the preceding
statement is inoperative.] [I should probably note that — okay, I am eager to
point out that — I wrote the preceding many years before Jacques Derrida’s
death on the night of October 8, 2004. Wow, I’ve got

Those with a penchant for the bizarre and a desire to hear clear
enunciation of the lyrics of “Lucy in the Sky” and a strong stomach
will want to pick up Volume IV in the Rhino Records “Golden Throats” CD
series, composed of covers of Beatles songs by other artists better known for
other achievements (or, better said, activities). William Shatner’s cover of
Lucy, spoken as if in alarmed supplication before a highly advanced alien
life-form (his approximation of psychodelia), is worth the price of
replacing your CD player, which will have to be taken away for environmentally
safe disposal.

The misheard lyrics at the beginning of this entry are examples of

Just to be a little serious here… Postmodernism
(“po-mo”), poststructuralism, deconstruction, and
theory (just “theory,” as if there were no other) are all terms used very
roughly interchangeably for a category of literary criticism that literary
critics on the other side regard as perverse at best and cynically dishonest at
worst. Putative explanations of these approaches (and of whether and how they
differ) are generally either incoherent or deep, and over time I and many
others who were willing to listen have gradually concluded that they are not
deep. The same ideas, or lack of ideas, or cynical rhetorical cons, have also
been used in other humanities disciplines than literature.

Among those interested in po-mo are a small number that I respect on
independent grounds, and their participation in this fraud or madness is
puzzling. My best and most generous guess is that these honest scholars find a
few isolated bits of theory, usually general perspectives or sympathies rather
than specific claims, that they only interpret in ways that offer some insight.

I may come back later and try to be a little less circumstantial. For now I
want to mention an interesting feature of this battle of the po-mo’s and
traditionalists (the battle was joined in the 1960’s). Both sides feel or
claim to feel besieged: the sides protest either that their approaches have
gone out of fashion and can’t get published or taught (traditionalists) or are
under political attack and now in decline (po-mo’s). To a small extent both
sets of claims are true, because the situation is different in the various
humanities disciplines and universities. But it looks suspicious. I recently
ran across a comment that presented one historian’s impression of the pressure
of fashion (not just the po-mo fashion). As a start, I’ll transcribe a bit:

To the [charge of the work being aggressively unfashionable as history]
I must still plead guilty: the history in this book covers a broad sweep of
time; it does not refer to localities, draws on only one oral source, and is
neither ethnographic nor deconstructionist. My only consolation here can be
that fashions change.

(This is from p. xi, in the Preface of David Blaazer’s The Popular Front and
the Progressive Tradition: Socialists, Liberals, and the Quest for Unity,
(Cambridge U.P., 1992).

decoupage, découpage
Decorative cutting, in one or another sense. Either decoration with
paper cut-outs or the editing of film. The French original names the action of `cutting up’ or
`cutting out’; it’s from découper — `to cut up’ or `to cut
out.’ A particular sense in French is `to divide into districts’ (for voting,
Digital European Cordless Telecom[munication]. Standard issued by ETSI as an alternative to CT-2 cordless standard. Ten
channels spaced 1.728 MHz apart, starting with
1897.344 MHz (channel zero) and ending at 1881.792 MHz (channel 9).
An accuracy of 50 kHz is expected. I’ve also seen it expanded as
“Digital Enhanced Cordless Telephone.” After what happened with GSM, I wouldn’t be surprised if both expansions are
Digital Engine Control Unit.
Defect-Enhanced Diffusion.
Doctor of Education. (Doctor Educationis.) More at the Ed.D. entry.
Dravidian Etymological Dictionary. By Thomas Burrow, who began the
title with A. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961.
Right now, all I can think of to say about dedications is that a couple of
dedications to devices are mentioned at the
IBM 650 entry. There’s another interesting one in
the book The Fast Diet Book (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1971).
(“As told by Bub Redhill to Robert E. Rotheberg, M.D.”) It’s the chronicle
of a 53-day diet from 242 lbs. to 200 lbs. (including an initial six-day fast
to 224). It’s dedicated “To Adiponecrosis.”

See also Acknowledgments. In fact, see
book dedications for at least one more
dedication. I’ve decided that aggregation of book dedication content will
continue only at that entry, because I (as well as my editor) had forgotten
that this one even existed.

Maybe I’ll dedicate the dedications entry to material on non-book dedications.
Ralph Bass and Lowman Pauling wrote a song called “Dedicated to the One I
Love.” The Shirelles took it to #3 in 1961, and the Mamas and the Papas cover
went to #2 in 1967. It’s probably not the only song that contains the lyric
“This is [title of song],” but it’s still pretty cute. It reminds me of
“This Song Has No Title” [Bernie Taupin (lyrics) and Elton John (music)].
Those precise words do not occur in the song, however. The fourth line of the
chorus is “Oh, this song’s got no title, just words and a tune.” So “This
Song Has No Title” is just the title. “This song’s got no title” is the
hook, I’d say.

Dravidian Etymological Dictionary, Revised. In 1987.
Dravidian Etymological Dictionary, Supplement.
Diploma[te] in Environmental Engineering. A credential issued by the
American Academy of Environmental Engineers (AAEE)
or the person (called a “diplomate”) who has been awarded that credential.
Not “diplomat”!


Dee Day
The first English edition of Euclid’s Elements, translated by
Sir Henry Billingsley, prefaced by M. John Dee, and published by John Day
(London, 1570). The author is identified on the title page as “Euclide of
Megara,” a disciple of Socrates present at his death. The confusion of
this Euclid with the younger Euclid of Alexandria began in the Latin West
during medieval times and did not begin to be corrected until the Latin
translation of Federico Commandino published in 1572.

Cf. D-Day.

Vide Deke.
(NASA‘s) Deep Extragalactic Evolutionary
Probe. NASA likes XARA‘s.
Documenting Effective Educational Practices. “Project DEEP will plumb the
everyday workings of high performing colleges and universities to learn what
they do to promote student success.” I admit it: I’m surprised and impressed
to find semantic awareness and an understated and appropriate pun in a sentence
emanating from educationists. Too bad about the missing hyphen. DEEP is a
joint project of NSSE and AAHE.
Oil-drenched. If you think oil is bad, you should try frying in water.
deep in the shit sector with no dilithium
Stuck in Beirut with nothing but an arquebus.
deeply nuanced
Able to reach comfortable conclusions while appearing to take seriously
and refute the fatal counterarguments.
deeply respectful
Hypocritical or stupid.
(Australian government’s) Department of
Employment, Education, and Training.
Commercial name for Diethyltoluamide. In most of the major languages of
continental Europe, the unvoiced English “th” sound is absent or, when
present, not used to render the th in ethyl. There is also
a fair degree of consistency in the pronunciation of the vowels in di
and eth…. Hence, in the most common European languages used by
scientists, the first two syllables of diethyl are pronounced as an
Anglophone would pronounce “dee et.” That might have nothing to do with the
origin of the “DEET” name, and the T in the name is almost certainly intended
to be thought of as representing the toluamide, but there you go: an idea.

More precisely: N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide. It’s also called chigger wash
and skeeter skat. (Did I mention that it’s a powerful insect repellent? Also,
partly by design and partly because separating isomers is a hassle, the
commercial product is mix. The names that don’t look very IUPAC tend to refer
to the mixes.) Most of the other names are boring, though. (Pyrocide
Intermediate 5734 is the dirtiest mix and the sexiest name, but “detamide,”
“delphene,” CAS 134-62-3? Please people — a little more whimsical
imagination!) See also 6-12.

deutsche Einheit
`German Unification’ in German.
The three letters associated with the number three (3) on the North
American (and formerly also on the British) phone dial or keypad.
default default
In C++ and C#, a default
constructor is a class constructor that is called without parameters and thus
assigns default values to all member variables: ClassName::ClassName() in C++
and ClassName.ClassName() in C#.
If the programmer does not explicitly define a default constructor, then the
compiler defines one. That is the default default constructor.
Campaign to DEFend the CONstitution. “Because the Religious Right is
Wrong.” “The Campaign to Defend the Constitution combats the growing
influence of the religious right over American democracy, education, and
scientific progress and leadership.” The main focus of their efforts seems
to be getting creationism and its camouflaged versions out of the public
schools and secondarily getting Congress to loosen purse strings and federal
constraints on embryonic stem cell research. (Embryonic stem cells are also
much less frequently called fetal stem cells. It might be that the latter term
is a shibboleth for those opposed to their use.)
DEFense readiness CONdition. A term used in the US Armed Forces for the
levels of activation and readiness, the defense posture. At any given moment,
different parts of the armed forces can operate at different DEFCON’s. DEFCON
has a place in the popular imagination, but not mine. The standard peacetime
level is DEFCON 5. What the heck is peacetime?
Lawyers and people who want to sound like them pronounce this word so
the last syllable rhymes with ant.
Old meaning: throw out the window.

In Jeremiah 9:21 it is written:

Death has come to our windows.

New meanings: kill the window manager process; throw out the Windows; terminate
Bill Gates.

The October 2, 2005, edition of Arab News (Saudi Arabia’s principal
English-language daily) quoted Saudi authorities to the effect that 92% of the
2.2 million Internet users in the kingdom wish to access forbidden or indecent
material. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they wish to access
sites that happen to contain such material (as defined by Saudi censors).
Maybe they’re the sort of people who read Playboy for the fiction.
Maybe it’s computer viruses calling home. This doesn’t much concern me or
probably you either, but Walter Laqueur mentions the report in The Last Days
of Europe
(2007), trying to make a point about the nature of religious
commitment among young Muslim men. I don’t see this as especially significant.
(And I remember that some other young Saudi men, three of the 9/11 hijackers,
went out to a Daytona strip club on 9/10.) The reason I mention it here is
that on page 211, still discussing access to pornography (mostly), he writes
the following in parenthesis:

“They close doors and we get in through the windows” is a frequent comment.

What I want to observe is that in some versions of the quote, windows
should be capitalized. Also, an aside on Laqueur’s latest, subtitled “Epitaph
for an Old Continent”: what makes it most readable, and almost heartening, is
that he makes a surprisingly slippery and weak argument. Better news: Mark
Falcoff, resident scholar emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute,
reviews the book in the July-August 2007 issue of
Commentary and writes, “perhaps
never before have [the main themes of the book] been laid out in such a
detailed (and lugubrious) fashion.” If this comment be even remotely correct,
which I doubt, then no book on the subject is really detailed at all.

Defenestration of Prague, The
A popular name, but a mischaracterization. It was not Prague itself that
was defenstrated — that would have been difficult — but two governors of
Bohemia: William Slavata and Jaroslav Mirtinic. They escaped with minor
injuries, but let’s get our bearings here.

Rudolf II, king of Bohemia (1576-1612), was, as you surely remember, one of the
greatest monarchs of all time. Well, more on that later. I mean, he funded

Pompous fools’ self-delusive perception of contempt.
defensive driving

  1. Keep an eye peeled for Smokey.
  2. There is safety in numbers. Follow Benjamin Franklin’s advice — be
    neither first nor last. Recognize that the vehicles around you are running
    radar interference.
    (I think Franklin put his advice in his AUTObiography,
    written in the eighteenth century. That just goes to show you how far he
    was ahead of his time, and how little he followed his own advice.)
  3. Test your radar detectors regularly.
  4. Implement a NASA-style redundancy reconciliation
    system for your radar awareness environment.
  5. Collect license plates from exotic places with bad or slow motor
    vehicle information systems.
  6. Repaint your car frequently.

defensive parking
A skill. First of all: how hard is the wind blowing?
Read why Sens. Paul
Tsongas and Warren Rudman think we’re better off with less of one.

Of course, in 1998, the Federal Budget is in surplus for the first
time in ages, just in time for the coming depression. Maybe we can
all be Keynesians again. Please?

definite article
Definite articles are used by roughly 20% of languages world-wide, but they
are rather popular in the languages of Western Europe. All the major Romance,
Germanic, and Celtic languages (supposing for a moment that there is a major
Celtic language) have them. (Hebrew and Arabic also use definite articles.)
The largest European language group that generally does not use definite
articles is the Slavic language family. (I grant that’s a pretty big

[An exception to the exception is that Macedonian and Bulgarian have postfixed
definite articles. These languages, like Arabic and Hebrew, don’t have
indefinite articles. Romanian and the North Germanic (i.e.,
Scandinavian) languages use postfix definite articles. The exceptional
Scandinavian language of Iceland, as well as Albanian and the famously isolated
Basque language, are like Macedonian and Bulgarian: postfix definite article
only, no indefinite article.]

Proto-Indo-European, the origin of most of the European languages, did not have
definite articles. Latin (and Sanskrit) did not have them, although classical
Greek did.

definite article before name
In Spanish it is natural and common to use a
definite article before certain titled names. For example, “uncle Joe” is
“el tío Joseé” when referred to in the third person. It’s
pretty regular, but as a native speaker I never learned the rules as such.
I infer from usage that one never uses the article in direct address, or if a
possessive adjective precedes the title. (As in English, possessive adjectives
preempt an article. That is strikingly not the case in Italian.) But that
isn’t why I wrote this entry; I only noticed it when I started to figure out
how to explain what I did set out to write about, which is a Chilean dialectal

In Chile, it is also common to prepend a definite article to a person’s name.
Not just “el tío Enrique” (`uncle Henry’), but even “el Enrique”
(`Henry’). Something similar occurs in Modern Greek.

defining deviancy down
The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s phrase for a mechanism that
allows one to ignore the practical poor consequences of social policies
treasured for reasons of ideological principle: modern variety of
Department for Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs
. “[T]he [UK] government
department which deals with food, air, land, water and people.” Heck, I do
that every day myself. Defra is the successor to

Some of the pages expand Defra as “Department for Environment Food and Rural
Affairs.” Part of that is thought food, and the other part makes me think of
Lady Chatterly’s gardener.

DiEthyleneGlycol DiStearate. A/k/a DGD.
Swallowing. A very useful word when one is discussing the upper-GI activity of swallows.
DiEthylene Glycol diMethylEther.

    A partial list only. Check the TV
    guide for local listings.

  1. “Celebrity Boxing.” An hour-long Fox TV special on the ides of
    March, 2002. Three bouts are on the card, each scheduled for three
    two-minute rounds using “weighted gloves.” The headliner is Tonya
    Harding against Amy Fisher.

    Harding was the first American woman figure-skater to land a triple
    axel, but she achieved “celebrity” in January
    1994, when her Olympic figure-skating rival
    Nancy Kerrigan’s knee was injured in a crowbar attack by a man who was
    hired by Harding’s then-husband (he later tried to change his name to
    escape notoriety, but people who had the name he wanted objected; I
    forget how that turned out). She eventually pleaded guilty to a charge
    of hindering prosecution in the case, but
    served no time; she was stripped of her national title and banned from
    the USFSA, which bars her from any kind of
    official participation in USFSA-sanctioned events. She was
    sentenced to do community service and three days in the Clark County
    jail in 2000, for assaulting her then-boyfriend with a hubcap. She
    seems to favor
    blunt metal weapons. Amy should insist on metal detectors. About a
    month before Fox announced its shameless exploitation, Harding’s
    landlord sued her for back rent.

    As an eighteen-year-old in 1992, Amy Fisher
    became known as “the Long Island Lolita” after she shot the wife of
    auto mechanic Joey Buttafuoco, a man with whom she had had an affair.
    Tonya should insist on metal detectors. Amy
    did almost seven years in prison, and was released after a hearing in
    which the thick-skulled woman she tried to murder testified on her

    According to Fox’s alternative-programming chief Mike
    Darnell, quoted Feb. 27 in the Gannett rag USA Today, “This is legitimate. We’ll
    have a real referee, a real doctor, real announcers. To all the world
    this will be a real boxing match.”

    Amy’s parole board forbade her to participate, but Paula Jones was
    available. Paula Jones is the woman who was afraid that Arkansas
    state troopers’ stories about former governor Bill Clinton and an
    anonymous woman would ruin her reputation, and who therefore revealed
    that she was the anonymous woman.

    Every few months Tonya gets in a little minor trouble with the law and
    it makes national news, and we all get to find out “whatever
    happened to….” Paula Jones cowered and Tonya won handily. Whew —
    I was worried that Tonya would have to guard her newly installed (2001)
    XL boob enhancements. Read the latest on our
    girl at the CHL entry.

    The XFL folded; there’s hope.

    But maybe not quite yet….
  2. “The Girl Next Door: The Search for a Playboy Centerfold.” A
    two-hour Fox-TV special investigation/pictorial, scheduled to air
    during the May sweeps in 2002. Hmm — Fox. Why does that name ring a

    Scott Grogin, a Fox flack, said “We respect all of our viewers’ rights
    to their opinions. If this is a show they don’t like or feel is
    appropriate, please don’t watch.” I don’t understand: just because
    “all of [their] viewers” don’t feel a show is appropriate, why
    shouldn’t I watch it?
  3. “The Anna Nicole Show,” an unreality show on E! Entertainment
    Television (a cable network), was renewed for a second season to air in
    early 2003. It is said to be, eh, modeled on MTV‘s “The Osbournes.”
    Oh, did I forget to mention the Osbournes? And the Isaac Stern show on
    E!? Oh fiddlesticks — make that the Howard Stern show.

    You know, I’ve heard that the Jerry Springer, oh wait, the Jerry
    Seinfeld show was about nothing. So maybe the Nicole show is
    really a knock-off of the Seinfeld show, except that it’s stupid,
    crass, somewhat more explicitly sex-obsessed, and not funny. Second
    opinion: it’s effortlessly hilarious. Sobering thought: spin-offs. Tremble.

  4. Getting back to the Stern show — this is really high concept: it’s
    basically a show about women visiting a radio broadcast studio and
    exposing their breasts, but their breasts are blurred out on TV. I
    mean, shows with some parts bleeped or obscured are nothing new, but
    making the nonbroadcastable element the main focus of the show —
    that’s shrewd. Or something. Maybe they plan to market an uncensored
    version, a “director’s cut.” “Direct to video.” The mind boggles;
    trepanate and apply Drano. Okay, update 2004: uplink to satellite.
  5. In 2003, National Geographic
    will have its first swimsuit
    issue. Perhaps they’ll just
    use selections from the Miss World or Miss Universe swimsuit
    competition. Somehow I’m not expecting central African women with
    river blindness doing laundry the old-fashioned way. So when did Fox
    buy National Geographic?
  6. As of April 15, 2003, colleges where you can earn a Bachelor of
    Hair in just six months (something like that) can have their own .edu domain, just so you know what prestigious
    and serious institutions of learning they are. Hair: it’s all about the brain.
  7. Okay, more from Fox: a seven-episode “reality TV” series debuted
    April 21, 2003, entitled “Mr. Personality.” In it, a female
    contestant must select one from a number of masked suitors. Their
    looks are kept hidden from her but not the studio audience, so she must
    choose on the basis of “personality.” Nothing any more wrong with
    that than with “The Dating Game,” really, but the host and moderator
    is Monica Lewinsky. The show placed second in the ratings for its time
    slot (12.2 million viewers estimated by Nielsen Media Research,
    trailing an estimated 13.8 million for back-to-back episodes of
    “Everybody Loves Raymond” (who?) on CBS). Mr. Personality won
    decisively with the lucrative 18-to-49-year-old demographic, however.
  8. I’ve been told that I should include something about a show called
    “The Bachelor,” but believe me, no one ever explains enough about it
    to make it comprehensible to anyone who hasn’t seen it.
  9. Presumably, you’re aware of the
    show, and I needn’t say more. In Britain the subtitles
    are said to come in handy.
    (“Jerry Springer —
    The Opera
    ” premiered in London in 2003 and has been a popular and
    critical hit. US productions began in 2008. There’s also a domestic
    British approximation of the TV show called “Trisha,” mornings on
    ITV. In Australia, broadcast of The
    Jerry Springer Show is traditionally followed by an episode of Judge
    Judy. In Belgium, Jerry’s show is broadcast dubbed, but I don’t know
    into which language or languages. (It reminds me of watching “The
    Jeffersons” on Italian TV many years
    ago. Italian is the natural language
    for that show, and it deserves the opera treatment. A lot of sopranos
    also have the perfect body style to fit into the capacious Mrs.
    Jefferson role. For more on the Italian-English moving-pictures nexus,
    see the silent movie entry.)
  10. The “Girls Gone Wild” degradation is discussed under Calvin Broadus.
  11. For the 2004 Superbowl, CBS/Viacom/etc. put on
    a half-time show to give Fox a run for its money. I mention a detail
    or two at the SB entry (for comedic context,
    see Uncle Miltie). But the
    Australians soon came roaring back, showing that no one can outFox them
    when it comes to gratuitous sexual exploitation in sports. (See Heidi United S.C.)
  12. On January 22, 2004, a news conference was held in New York to
    announce a match between a human (heavyweight champion Lenox Lewis) and
    an animal (rapist, anthropophage, and former heavyweight champion Mike

At the end of 2003, in a column for Fox
, Eric Burns complained about foul
language on radio
. (He had already dealt with foul language on TV in
earlier essays.) I’m not saying his sentiments are entirely wrong or anything.

degree lottery
A degree lottery is not much different than a green-card lottery, or a
Shirley Jackson lottery, or any of the other traditional lotteries. It’s not
as complicated as power-ball, everyone gets an equal chance, and of course,
there’s no studying. For the price of a ticket, you get a chance to win a
genuine college degree, and get this: it’s from a nonaccredited college! So
you know you’re getting the degree you deserve! Is that cool or what? This is
such a deal. Don’t tell your friends who already have their own degrees — let
other people have a chance, other people like you!

I don’t know for a fact certain that this exists, but I probably just don’t
read enough of my spam.

DiEthyleneGlycol Succinate.
Don’t Even Go There. Listed in a sampling of “popular shorthand texting
terms” in a WSJ article by Stephanie Raposo posted
August 6, 2009: “Quick! Tell Us What
KUTGW Means.”

It seems to me that the phrase abbreviated by DEGT, understood in the sense of
“it’s better not to broach that subject” or “better not to start thinking
along those lines,” first popular in the early 1990’s. In ordinary speech and
even in unabbreviated writing, it seems that first-person jussive forms like
“let’s not [even] go there” are more common than the strictly imperative
second-person corresponding to DEGT, but LNGT is at best rare and LNEGT looks
too much like length misspelled. Not that there’s anything surprising
in that.

Di(EthylHexyl)Adepate. A plasticizer in plastic food wrap.
I suppose this is a word that doesn’t need a definition, and I also hope it
doesn’t, because if it does then I probably can’t give it. You can’t spell
dehegemonization without D-E-M-O-N-I-Z-A-T-I-O-N. There: now the entry
contains some information. My work is done here.

Let’s play. There’s
a conference
with the title “Dehegemonization: The US and Transnational Democracy.” It’s
scheduled for Wednesday, April 5, 2006, but I’m writing the entry now because
I’m a good guy and want you to know about this in time to attend. I only just
heard about it myself today (Tuesday, March 28, 2006). The conference will
take place at George Mason University. As you know,
just two days ago in the NCAA Men’s Basketball
Finals, the eleventh-seeded GMU Patriots dehegemonized first-seeded
UConn (pronounced “you con”) to advance to the
Final Four. I mean — how appropriate is that? Can you say sin-crow-nisity?
Can I spell it? Maybe you read that sports report too quickly. “Final Four”
has at least three syllables. You should say it slowly, as if you were
pronouncing a word like
ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool in one of the
fanático-de-fútbol dialects (that’s all dialects) of
Spanish. Notice that the vowel represented by
“ou” in “four” is a nominal monophthong with r-coloring, which is
noticeable in the lowered pitch of the third formant in the final seconds
before the liquid begins (I mean the letter r).

Notice also that the Patriots were among the last five at-large teams selected
for the tournament, and that during the regular season they were unranked
except for one week when they were bottom-ranked (#25). (The #11 seeding was
just within their regional bracket, one of four.) Notice that the UConn team
they dispatched was not just first-seeded in the bracket, but second-ranked
nationally going into March Madness, and favored to win it all — as it had in
2004. Notice that just to reach the Elite Eight and face UConn, the Patriots
had to defeat Michigan State (NCAA champions in 2000) without their own
second-leading scorer, and then beat North Carolina (champs in 2005).

Italian contraction of de i, meaning
`of the’ and used before a plural male noun or noun phrase that does not begin
in a vowel. Here’s a complete list of the di contractions meaning `of the.’

di + gli = degli
di + i = dei
di + il = del
di + l’ = dell’
di + la = della
di + le = delle
di + lo = dello

(There’s a similar set of contractions with a.)
The forms vary to indicate grammatical gender and
number, and to coordinate with the initial sound of the following word.
(Usually a noun or a quantifier; in the following, we’ll call it a noun.)

For female nouns beginning in consonants, la and le are the
singular and plural endings, resp. This is easy to remember because -a is the
most typical ending for female nouns in the singular, and those nouns normally
take plurals in -e. For nouns beginning in a vowel, l’ is substituted
for la (le is the common plural form).

Il and its plural i are used for male nouns beginning in a
consonant, unless they begin with x, z, gn, pn, ps, or a consonant cluster
beginning in s. For those exceptions, lo (sing.) and gli (pl.)
are used. Before male nouns beginning in a vowel, the same plural form
gli is used, but the singular article is contracted to l’.

Notice that unless a noun is singular and begins in a vowel, its gender is
obvious from its article.

Italian: `gods’ (plural of dio).
In linguistics, something like a pronoun. Pronouns (I, you, that) and
other words (like here) with context-dependent referents.
Such words are said to be deictic (adj.) or deictics (noun). I don’t know if
the terms are precisely enough defined for it to be possible to say whether all
deictics are lexical variables and vice versa.
déjà vous

  1. English pronunciation of
    déjà vu
  2. French: `You, already.’

déjà vu
I have this funny feeling that I’ve seen this
Data Encrypti{ on | ng } Key[s].
Journalists’ jargon for the subtitle of an article. It’s “deck”
purposely misspelled so it won’t be mistaken for a word that is meant to be
part of the article text. I don’t understand why that word (deck) was chosen
in the first place. Most of the meanings suggest something flat or a covering.
All I can think of is that It suggests the batter on deck; that batter
resembles a subtitle in being next to come (after the batter up or the title).
DElta Kappa Epsilon fraternity member. Cf. Tau Bate.

Dekes who have served most recently as US presidents are George W. Bush,
George H.W. Bush, and
Gerald R. Ford. F.D.R. joined what had been the Deke
chapter at Harvard shortly after it had been expelled for dual affiliation with
Alpha Delta Phi. If FDR is counted as a Deke, then
he was the only Democrat among the six Deke US Presidents.

DELete. A non-printing ASCII code, different from BS (BackSpace).
Official IAU abbreviation
for the constellation.
delay line
Semiconductor Corporation
sells some all-Si programmable ones made in CMOS logic. Another approach is to use surface
acoustic waves (SAW’s).
Copyeditor’s instruction: DELEte.
Dell Computer Corporation was
founded by Michael Dell.
DELaware, MARyland, and VirginiA. Occurs in “the Delmarva peninsula,”
an unofficial term meteorologists find useful. As a geographic term,
“Delmarva” is probably equivalent to “the Delmarva peninsula,” but
“Delmarva” was originally used in business names and so might refer to
whatever protean region is convenient.
DEscription Language for TAxonomy.
DEtailed Labor and Time Analysis.
Dat’s not us.
Deutschmark. The legal tender in Germany until the beginning of 2002 (the end of the
transition to the euro). Check the currency converter entry before it
(the DEM) vanishes. Oops, too late.
Digital Elevation Model. A data exchange format developed by the United
States Geological Survey (USGS) for geographical
and topographic data.
Delaware (state) Emergency Management Agency.
Emacs for DOS.
de mal en pis
French expression meaning `from bad to


De mater semper certum est.
Latin, `Mama’s baby, papa’s maybe.’
Deming wheel, Deming Cycle
The brilliant and subtle concept of the universally acknowledged genius
W. E. Deming, of sainted memory, that emphasizes the necessity for research,
design, production, and sales to be in each others’ hair all the time in order
to achieve improved quality that satisfies customers. It’s like a wheel! With
four spokes! Wow!

Satisfy the customers, and profits will follow naturally. In fact, why not
give the product away? That’ll really satisfy them.

I hope you’re taking notes. Next lesson: PDCA.

DEMOgraphic. Used as a noun to indicate a population subgroup, as in
“the 18-49 demo.”
DEMOnstration. I’ve never seen this abbreviated “demon.” At least I
don’t think I have. The principle is demonstrated
. Ooh — dead link. Too bad. No demo demo.

A political demonstration, placards and chants and all that, I haven’t ever
heard called a “demo,” but somebody might. In Spanish, a political demonstration is called a
manifestación. (A strike, in the sense of work stoppage, is a

A demo version of a software program is something of a balancing act: it has to
be good enough to motivate a purchase, but not so good that it obviates the
need for a purchase. Typical strategies in demo design are disabling a crucial
final function (such as saving or printing the document output by the demo
program), or having the program expire. Since games don’t have much in the way
of useful output, and since there are approximately a million very similar
games available for free, coercing purchase is hard.

Many games have a demo mode in which they play themselves. That’s not
for people too lazy to play their own games; it’s for people to see how the
game is played.

Japanese for the conjunction `but’ or the sentence adverb `however.’ Not
very surprisingly, I’ve also heard “demo demo demo” used to express `on the
other hand’ (not a pleading but-but-but).
Democracy Now
English translation of Demokratie
, the name of an East/Eastern German civic group.

The German word jetzt, which now means `now,’ looks like a cognate of
the English word yet, but probably isn’t. Yet is clearly related
to words in Frisian languages, but not to any word in other Germanic languages.
The English word has many uses, as an adverb and conjunction, but its principal
sense underwent an almost subtle transformation during the twentieth century.
Yet used to mean what still still means: roughly, “now as until
now.” That is its sense in Francis Scott Key’s words “Oh say does that
star-spangled banner yet wave….” He was born in 1779 and was inspired to
write the poem, as you
, by the resistance of Fort McHenry to a British attack in September
1814. (Note that there is an element of continuity or implicit progression in
this sense of the word. One could not define it as “now as before,” because
that includes a meaning like again. Yet was occasionally used in
that sense long ago.)

Some people still use yet in the sense of still.
(You want an example? Okay, I’ll give you an example: Steve’s mom. Yes, the
very same Steve who’s mentioned at the ARMA, job, RPI, and yes entries. Small world, huh? No, not the Steve
at the S1S entry.)

Despite the exceptions, however, it is no longer common in American English to
use yet in affirmative statements. Instead, in declarative statements
it occurs in the phrase not yet, meaning “still not.” One could
probably argue that this serves a useful purpose. In questions, yet
means about the same thing as already.

Democratic Republic of
More-Or-Less Socialist Dictatorship of.

Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue.

— François de La Rochefoucauld

(See also UNCF.)

Demokratie Jetzt
A group that formed in East Germany in Autumn
1989 and joined Bündnis 90 in
demo viewers
Viewers of a demonstration? Hah! No. VIEWERS in the critical 25-54
Diesel-Electric Multiple-Unit train. A kind of self-powered passenger
rail car. Specifically, a DMU in which a diesel
engine generates electric power which in turn powers electric motors at
the wheels or axles.
DEMUltipleXer. Pronounced “dee-mucks.” Not very useful without
a mux somewhere.
Denglisch, Denglish
A German word for German with a large admixture of English, or for the
English component of the admixture.
Department of Education, Northern
Not just a river in Egypt.
Drug Evaluation Network System.
“A national, electronic [they considered
paper?], treatment-tracking project.” A collaboration of TRI, CASA, ONDCP, and CSAT.
There are two or three common numberings in use.
A wonderful new bureaucratic euphemism. When your federal
funding agency experiences severe budget cuts, it may cut off funding
that it had previously committed to provide for research in a
multi-year contract. You are said in this instance to be deobligated,
which might seem to confuse where some of the obligations lie. On the
bright side, if your proposal was turned down, you can’t be deobligated.
(See, however, a rumor related at the NSF entry.)
DEPosit. Money, more often than sediment.
Look, we’ve got a Depardieu entry coming
up just ahead. Check there, maybe you’ll find what you’re looking for.
The surname of a French actor
named Gérard
. He had a starring role in an American movie in 1990:
he played a Frenchman in Green
. In 1992 he starred in another English-language movie: he played
Christopher Columbus in 1492.
This is obviously an actor with a gift for doing
accents, but that’s not why I put this entry

According to A Dictionary of Surnames, by Patrick
Hanks and Flavia Hodges
(OUP, 1988), this surname arose from an Old French
oath: par Dieu (`by God,’ ultimately from the Late
Latin de parte Dei, `for God’s sake’). The
name is supposed to have arisen as a nickname for people who used that oath
frequently. Cognate French surnames are
Pa(r)dieu and Depardé. English cognates: Pardoe, Pardew, Pard(e)y,
Perdue. Cf. Purdue,

departing knowledge
A business term for the knowledge that leaves because it is stored in the
brains of personnel that leave.
Yet the
principles, tools, and practices of knowledge management can be
systematically applied to capture departing knowledge and transfer it to new
employees.” (It’s easy: just tap their brains and turn the spigot.)
Dep control, Dep. control
DEPerdussin CONTROL. Deperdussin has his
own entry
(immediately below, for now).

Wheel control. — Instead of the control stick just described, a
control wheel as in an automobile, called a Dep. or
Deperdussin control, is frequently used; the wheel is turned to the left
to depress the left side of the machine and to the right to depress the right
side. A control wheel is shown, in diagram, at the left of Fig. 91. (As in
the case of the rudder, ailerons are sometimes connected so as to be operated
by a motion opposite to the one described.)

[My italics. You’re missing little by my not reproducing the figure. The
almost schematic figure shows wires from either wheel control or stick control
pulling wing-flap ailerons in opposite directions.]

The paragraph block-quoted above is from page 182 of The Airplane: A
Practical Discussion of the Principles of Airplane Flight,
by Frederick
Bedell, Ph.D. (originally published in 1920), rewritten and enlarged with the
assistance of Theodore E. Thompson, M.E. (D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., 1930).

According to CONTACT! The Story of the Early Birds (pp. 118-119;
bibliographic details at the Deperdussin

Equally promising was the Antoinette-type monoplane of Armand Deperdussin, an
enterprising and generous silk merchant who employed as his designer one of the
truly great engineers of the aeronautical world, Louis Béchereau. The
prototype of the Deperdussin was a four-bladed canard monoplane designed
in 1909 for Christmas exhibition in a Paris department store. The first flying
model, built in 1910, performed well from the start. Powered by a 40-hp,
four-cylinder Clerget engine, it had a long fuselage with a very small cross
section, two wheels with skids, and a sturdy tail skid. It was one of the
first machines to employ the “wheel” control, as distinct from the “stick”
control–an innovation sometimes referred to as the Dep control. While some
early pilots complained that it had an irrepressible tendency to steer to the
left–to “chase its tail”–Béchereau’s advanced construction was on
the threshold of worldwide fame.

[The “Equally” at the beginning of the paragraph refers to monoplanes
designed by Edouard de Niéport (eventually Nieuport) with very
low-camber wings and very streamlined fuselage (“very” compared with
contemporary designs).]

The British spelling of the noun that is spelled “dependent” in American
English. The correct spelling of the adjective is “dependent” everywhere.
For a similar case involving a noun-verb contrast, see

I noticed an article in a 2008 issue of an IEEE
Transactions journal (not camera-ready copy, in other words, and publication
not rushed as in a Letters journal) that repeatedly used the -dant spelling for
the adjective. Dependence is a rather common mathematical notion; the
adjective (but not the noun) dependent appears very, very frequently.
The world is going to hell in a handbasket with an escort of printers’ devils.
[Other highlights of the paper: ratio test used to determine convergence of a
power series that happened to be an ordinary geometric series (yes, this
involved explicitly taking the limit of a constant, although the operation was
performed on the wrong constant); series derived by recursion from a formula
that could have been rearranged to yield simple closed-form result; series left

Armand Deperdussin soared to the heights of fame and then crashed to
obscurity. One of my thousands of projects is to gather together snippets of
information about him. I’ve already written a bit about him at the
Dep control entry above and at a
S.P.A.D. entry. For now, all I need to write here
is that he’s mentioned at a few places in the book CONTACT! The Story of the
Early Birds
, by Henry Serrano Villard (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell
Company, 1968).
A diplomatic term meaning “will do nothing about.”
Double with Even (number of aces), Pass with Odd. A contract bridge
bidding convention known
by its initialism.
DEPuty OPerationS DEPuty. DEPOPSDEP’s rank below the OPSDEP‘s, of course. All is explained at this
Distortionless Enhancement by Polarization Transfer. An NMR technique.
Double-Ended QUEue.
Like disk, this is an IBM neologism. There
are two theories about this word. One is that it did not become popular
because its spelling looks like a pedantic affectation (like “rôle,”
résumé” or
“coördinate”). The other theory is that it looks odd because it didn’t
catch on. However, the inverse of a chicken-and-egg problem is not a
chicken-and-egg problem: that is, it’s perfectly possible that the chicken
didn’t come first and the chicken egg didn’t come first. In the present
context, it may be both theories of deque nonuse are correct.

It’s amazing how convincing that sounds. The same argument works with chicken
eggs, if chicken eggs should happen not to exist.

Some readers might be interested to know that a “deque” is intended to
refer to a list that can be pushed or popped (extended or shortened) on both
ends. You could do the same using a stack with a rotate feature (like an HP
calculator). In fact, you could do the same and more with linked lists. You
could even do it all in machine language. Come think of it, that’s how it’s
ultimately done.

In C++, STL includes a
template for deques.

Defence Evaluation and Research
of the UK. Blimey, pages available in
De Re Militari. Latin, `on military matters.’ The Society for Medieval
Military History. With the $35 annual membership fee, you get the year’s
issue of JMMH.
Date of Expected Return from OverSeas (military service).
A word in French and German that can often be
translated into English as `of the.’ (Though not always, of course. In
particular, French des also functions as the plural indefinite article,
and so is typically translatable as `some.’) The fun part of this entry (under
construction and thus still a bit recherché) comes at the end, but
you’ll appreciate it better if you know the content of the intervening

Grammatically, the two words have different analyses. The French des
is a contraction of the preposition de and the plural (common gender)
definite article les. The German des is the singular genitive
form of the definite article for masculine and neuter genders. Syntactically,
however, they have a similar distribution: French prepositional phrases in
des and German noun phrases in the genitive (unmediated by any
preposition), both follow the nouns or noun phrases they modify.

Moreover, although des is followed by a plural noun in French and a
singular noun in German, both nouns are likely to end in the letter s.
In French, most plurals end in s, and in German the genitive form of a
singular noun of masculine and neuter gender is usually declined with a final
s. (German feminine nouns and plurals only get a final s in the
possessive form, which is something slightly different.)

So des has similar distribution in German and French: following general
nouns while preceding nouns that usually end in s (otherwise usually
x or n). It remains only to observe that many French words have
been borrowed by German and preserved with spellings identical or similar to
their current French spellings, and both languages have borrowed words in
common from another language such as English. Hence, one encounters
coincidences like the following:

Original phrase Language English translation
————— ——– ——————-
garage des hôtels French garage of the hotels
Garage des Hotels German garage of the hotel

assistant des jobs French jobs assistant
Assistent des Jobs German job assistant

encyclopédie des pullovers French encyclopedia of sweaters
Enzyklopädie des Pullovers German encyclopedia of the sweater

caméras des touristes French video cameras of the tourists
Kameras des Touristen German cameras of the tourist

limonade des camarades French friends’ lemonade
Limonade des Kameraden German friend’s lemonade

To a small extent the older similarities were diminished during the 20th
century by the German replacement of many spellings that had retained a
c by spellings with z or k. Moreover, the 1996 spelling
reform endorsed more rapid naturalization of foreign loans. (Setting some kind
of precedent for the euro crisis that began in
2009, it seems.)

Data Encryption Standard. A particular one defined by the ol’ NBS (National Bureau o’ Standards) and adopted by
ISO to avoid fighting.
(Data communication) Destination End System.
DEsmethylSertraline. A metabolite of the
SSRI sertraline.
DiEthyl Stilbestrol. Prescribed to pregnant women between 1945 and
1961 or so to prevent miscarriage. It was considered perfectly safe, and it
was — to the mother. While it is well known that DES daughters are at
increased risk for cervical cancer, sons as well as daughters are at
elevated risk for a number of reproductive-system disorders.

It continues to be used as a growth promoter in cattle. Recently, it’s found
some potential application in the treatment of AIDS.

Discrete-Event System.
`Discounts’ in Spanish. Look, I’m really
going to kill the frog here. You may prefer to just figure out the essential
bits by reading the paragraph that contains the list of titles (starting at
To recap”).

The common noun descuento and the verb descontar in Spanish are
usually accurately translated by the English `discount.’ The verb takes a
common stem change, and descuento means `I discount.’ Descuentos
is the plural of the noun descuento and is not a verb form.

In Spanish, as in English and many other languages, counting and telling are
related concepts described by partially related sets of words. (I suppose this
has to do with the notion and feeling of sequence.) The connection is obvious
in the manifestly related words count and recount, as well as
from raconteur, borrowed from French. As
is somewhat typical, in English words of Germanic provenance the cognate
relations are less obvious than in those of Romance, so one is less likely to
notice the connection of talley with tale and tell. The
connection is clearer among German cognates of these words: Zahl
(`number’) and erzählen (`tell’). (See

The Spanish word cuento means `story’ (perhaps I should write `tale’).
It also means `I count’ and `I tell,’ (forms of the verb contar) and can
function as the count noun `count’ (had to say that, sorry, it won’t happen
again, soon) although that is not its principal sense. The form cuentos
is just the plural of the noun, but cuentas is `you count’ and `you
tell,’ and the noun `bills’ [in the sense of invoice]. (Singular
cuenta, of course. One German word for this kind of bill is
Konto, from the Italian conto. Another German word for bill is
Rechnung, literally `calculation,’ cognate with the English word
`reckon.’ That will come up again if I ever write comprehensively about
“Yes, We Have No Bananas.”)

So back to descuento. All the meanings that this word ordinarily takes
have to do with quantities, and most are translatable by the English word
`discount.’ [The exception is in sports — really only in soccer, that I’m
aware of — where officials can extend the duration of a match to compensate
for interruptions during regulation. In English this is called “overtime”
(North America) or extra time (RoW); in Spanish it’s
“tiempo de descuento.” It comports with the idea that one should
discount (not count, ignore) clock time taken up by officials.] There are a
number of books with “Tiempo de Descuento” as title, and for many of
those it must be a pun.

English has a profusion of privative prefixes. Offhand, the following come to
mind: a- (with an- to avoid hiatus; see this AA
), in- (with forms il-, ir-, and im- assimilated to liquids and
labials), non-, un-, de- dis-, dys-, and occasionally even des-, distributed
not entirely unsystematically among parts of speech and etymological sources.
(We also have an entry for anti-.)
Spanish displays less variety. This is partly because the vocabulary is
largely Latinate, so the Greek a- and dys- and the Germanic un- naturally occur
less frequently. (The Latinate prefix non- in English occurs as the unbound
morpheme no in Spanish.) The upshot is that the privative prefix des-
has broader use than any single similar prefix in English.

To recap the main points: descuentos is a
common word with meanings unrelated to cuentos, but des- is a
productive prefix. The right context can force or at least suggest a reading
in which descuentos is a nonce word coined
from des- and cuentos with the evident meaning of `unstories,’
`antistories,’ or the like. This punnishing bit of drollery has been exploited
(BTW, see the discussion of explotar at the
miga entry), I am surprised to say, in
fewer than a dozen book titles that I can find. Here are the fruits of my

  • Milton Fornaro’s book with the title Descuentos (Lecturas de
    [`Unstories (Summer Reading)’] is out of print and
    inconvenient to obtain, so I can’t exclude the possibility that this
    short-story writer has written a book about good deals for the summer
    of 1998. I haven’t checked any of the others either, to be honest.
  • Cuentos y descuentos (1986) by René Avilés
    Fabila. It’s available new for $20.00, but through the good offices of
    Amazon, from some independent merchant, you can have it used for just
    $23.98. This seller seems to have some difficulty with the concept of
  • Cuentos y des-Cuentos (2012) by Josué Santiago. This
    book is not available used. You can only recycle so many times before
    you have to just mulch.
  • Cuentos y descuentos andaluces (1976) [`Andalusian Stories
    and Antistories’] by Sebastián Cuevas Navarro.
  • Cuentas, cuentos y descuentos (1995) by Myriam Bustos
    Arratia. All the words in the title are defined earlier in the entry.
    You should have read the whole thing! (Of course, it’s also possible
    that the first word, instead of meaning `bills,’ `you count,’ or `you
    tell,’ is meant to be read as the female form of cuentos, very
    much as “herstory” was coined on the basis of a false analysis of
    history. The latter word comes from Greek meaning
    `investigation,’ hence “natural history.” The single word
    historia in Spanish, and storia in Italian, means both
    `history’ and `story’ in each case.
  • Recuentos: Más cuentas, cuentos y descuentos (1996)
    [`Recounts: more…’] by Myriam Bustos Arratia.
  • Des-cuentos & texto-clips (Colección de narradores
    uruguayos Santa Maria)
    (1993) by Gustavo Gabriel Aguilera.
  • La furia del alfabeto (des-cuentos) (2011) by Melba
    Guaruglia Zás.
  • Descuentos (1986) by Leopoldo Alas.

There’s also El imitador hermético y otros des(EN)cuentos
(2008), by Ana Criado Peña. The title is difficult to parse blind.
It’s `The hermetic imitator and other not-quite-stories.’ Here
“not-quite-stories” is anti-stories with the perenthesized infix “(EN).”
Perhaps it’s meant to suggest encuentros (`encounters’). The three
parts of the messy contrivance mean `that you give,’ `in’ and, of course,
`stories.’ Normally, I’d be inclined to suppose that two of these
free-morpheme senses are irrelevant, but there it is fwiw.

    As a noun:

  1. Plural of desert — lifeless, typically dry, stereotypically sandy
    place(s). Stress on the first syllable.
  2. That which is deserved. A noun derived from the verb
    deserve. Stress on the second syllable. The word now occurs
    mostly in the expression “just deserts.” (Just here is
    related to justice, it is not to be interpreted as mere.
    “Just deserts” are appropriate rewards or, more usually,
    punishments.) NOTICE THE SINGLE ESS. This has nothing to do with
    postprandial repasts!
  3. As a verb:

  4. 3rd pers. sing. present of the verb to desert.

Drug Efficacy Study Implementation.
A subcontinent Indian. Literally (in Hindi)
a `national.’ In English, or at least in the US and the UK, the word is
pronounced “day-see” or “deh-see,” but in some parts of India the “see”
becomes “she.” I’ve certainly heard both see and she versions from Indians
in the US (regarding which, see ABCD), and the
vowel in the first syllable is somewhere between the two versions given above.
The few English dictionaries that include this word seem to agree that the
stress is on the initial syllable. However, from the way I originally wrote
the ABCD entry, it seems I was under the impression that it had final stress,
though I don’t remember this any more. From my tenuous understanding of Hindi
phonology, final stress is appropriate for this word, but stress varies less
between syllables in Hindi than in English, though pitch variation may obscure
that. I haven’t looked into other Indian languages. English pronunciation
tends to push stress to the front, but this shouldn’t be such a big affect
among Indian immigrants in the US. Okay, I’m done. Pronounce it however you
desirability stories
A genre of picaresques whose moral is always the allure of your date to
other men. I’m not sure if these are actually required on a blind date, but
perhaps the alternative hasn’t been tried.
Desirable Men
Desirable Men: How To Find Them by Dr. Romance (a/k/a Nancy Fagan),
(Rocklin, CA: Prima Publ’ng., 1997). We have small extracts at the following

Defence Export Services Organisation. A Whitehall department that sells
British weapons round the world. According to
March 9, 2005, article
in the Guardian (by David Leigh and Rob
Evans), “no fewer than 161 of the department’s 600 officials work for the
`Saudi Armed Forces Project’.”
despectivo, despectiva
A Spanish adjective with the senses of
`disrespectful’ (equiv. desdeñoso, despreciativo) and of
`pejorative’ (also peyorativo, but dictionaries tend to mark such terms
as despect.).
dessert wine
In the UK, this term traditionally describes a relatively sweet wine, but
in the US it’s high-alcohol wine, sweet or dry. I guess the question is what
you were planning to do after dinner (and what meal of the day dinner might

According to Jancis Robinson’s
, by (not further-specified) law in the US, grape wine is designated
dessert wine if its alcohol content is between 14% and 24% (alcoholic
entry) or fortified (dessert
entry). These are inequivalent though approximately consistent
definitions. The microbes that convert sugar into
alcohol die off at alcohol concentrations above 15-18% (they are effectively
poisoned by their own excrement), so higher alcohol concentrations require
either distillation (and then the distillate is usually called by some other
name than [distilled] wine, such as brandy) or fortification.
Fortification is the admixture of some fluid with higher alcohol content.
(Some fortified wines are port, sherry, madeira, and Wonder Bread. Oops, not
Wonder Bread; that’s differently fortified. Better go easy on that stuff —
it’s making me dizzy!)

A Spanish verb, originally a military term,
but now widely used in transferred senses. In military terms, it is `to
detach a small group from a larger force, to serve as a task force for some
special action, expedition, guard duty, etc.’ The word was based on the
Italian staccare, `to cut off violently.’ The Italian word is believed
to be based on the same hypothetical Gothic root *stakka (or *staka) supposed
to be the origin of the Spanish word

In nonmilitary usage, the transitive verb destacar is figuratively `to
emphasize,’ or more precisely `to throw into relief or high contrast, to make
salient.’ (The thing destacado is typically the merits or qualities of
some person or thing.) The word is also taken literally in this figurative
sense: to increase the contrast or salience of some feature in a painting,
particularly in chiaroscuro (that’s claroscuro in Spanish).
Intransitively, destacar is `to stick out or become (literally)

Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron.
Pronounced about like “daisy” to reflect German phonetics, but I don’t
know if the Swabians voice the s.
Det, det
DETerminant. Abbreviation used in mathematics and linguistics, but not
exactly for the same puppy.

In mathematics, the determinant is a scalar function of a square matrix. For
an n×n matrix M with elements Mi,j, it is the sum of n! terms.
Each of the n! terms corresponds to a different permutation s of the numbers 1
to n. Each term is the signed
product of n matrix elements Mi,s(i) for i from 1 to n. The
“signed product” is just the stated product multiplied by -1 if the
permutation s is odd. For a 2×2 matrix, the determinant is
M1,1M2,2 – M1,2M1,2.
For matrices of order 4 or higher, it is convenient to evaluate by the method
of minors.

A system of n linear equations in n variables is described by a square,
nth-order matrix of variable coefficients and also, if the system is
inhomogeneous, by an n-component vector of constants. Kramer’s method
expresses the solution of the inhomogeneous system in terms of determinants.
Each variable has the value that is a quotient of determinants. The
denominator in each case is the determinant of the square matrix of
coefficients, and the numerator is constructed from the same square matrix by
substituting the (column or row) vector of constants for the appropriate column
or row of the coefficient matrix. If the determinant of the coefficient matrix
is zero, then a solution is possible only for constant vectors that make all
the numerator determinants zero. If the system is homogeneous (equivalent to a
constants vector with all components zero), then a nontrivial solution (one in
which the variables are not all zero) is possible only if the denominator
(determinant of coefficient matrix) is zero. In other words, depending on the
situation, what the determinant determines is the existence of solutions:
whether solutions can exist for all constant vectors in the inhomogeneous case,
or whether nontrivial solutions can exist in the homogeneous case.

Kramer’s method is not a practical way to solve systems of linear equations
(much quicker and less pathological is some use of Gaussian elimination that
puts things in triangular form or tridiagonal form, like LU decomposition), but
it does demonstrate the significance of the determinant.

There’s no reason why you should believe this except that I would hardly make
it up, but the only reason I wrote anything past the first paragraph of this
entry is that I came back later looking for a lost puppy. But now I’m tired of
all this, so information on degenerate versus nondegenerate conic sections will
have to wait for another serendipitous visit. Oh yeah, and a determinant in
linguistics is a word like the or a word or morpheme that fulfills a
similar function.

Direct Energy Transfer.

Distance Education and Training Council.
Self-described as “Global Leader in Distance Learning Accreditation.”
DiEthyleneTriAmine. A curing agent (i.e., polymerizer) for
DiEthyl Toluene DiAmine. A hard constituent in copolymer polyureas.
DETe, deTe
DiEthyl Telluride. An organic precursor used in
growth of II-VI material.
French, `strait.’
According to Dora Jane Hamblin’s memoir of life at LIFE,
fact-checkers were much put-upon to provide facts, working long into
the night to fill in the blanks labelled KOMING
in writers’ incomplete copy. For example, a population size might be left
missing, to be filled in by the fact-“checker,” or the checker could adjust
the copy. Fatigue or mischief led to the following sentence for an issue in
June 1946:

Detroit, which was a pleasant, elm-shaded little city of 250,000 when the
auto came out [in 1886].

In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, as Jay Gatsby is finally
showing Dolly around his mansion, he receives a call.

… I can’t talk now, old sport. … I said a small town. … He
must know what a small town is. … He’s no use to us if Detroit is his idea
of a small town.

As of 2005, Detroit is the 11th-largest city in the US. Its population has
fallen along with the fortunes of the domestic car manufacturers, from 1.8
million in 1950 to 900 thousand in 2000.

developing countries
Oftentimes inaccurate euphemism for `underdeveloped countries.’ I mean
look: at this point in history, the way they got underdeveloped was by not
Fund-raising for a charitable institution (medical or educational, in the
instances I’ve encountered).
Remember, you can’t spell device without vice. Heck, you
can’t spell service without vice either. Remember that the next
time you hear about “free energy devices.”
DElaware Veterinary Medical
. See also AVMA.
Directed-Energy Weapon.
Dew-Drop Inn
Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

(Just to kill the frog: the pun in the
preceding sentence is a compound

Dewey, John
John Dewey was a prominent educrat in the first half of the twentieth
century. You’ve probably never read anything he wrote, especially if you value
your time. Therefore, you need to know something about him fast. The main
thing you need to know is that intellectually, his works have all the
nutritional content of a diet Twinkie.

He systematically collected and rearticulated most of the general statements
about education that are both obvious and approximately true. Most people who
regarded themselves as thoughtful agreed with his useless platitudes and
ignored the stuff that would have required them to think, while a few foolish
people, thinking that those stupid things he wrote might be influential,
opposed him. These facts were later misinterpreted: Dewey was thought to have
convinced the educational, eh, elite of his new ideas, and thus made his
opponents look foolish. This is the source of the myth that Dewey was

Dewey is called a philosopher on the same principle that dead politicians are
called statesmen. (Or is that “statespersons” now? “Statespeople”? Ugh.
All the more reason to keep calling them politicians.) Coincidentally, Dewey
was a philosopher. And he was famous. So it is possible to say, with a
relatively clear conscience, that he was a famous philosopher. Of course, John
Dewey was a famous philosopher in the same way that Anne Boleyn was a famous
chess player. They are famous, but not for
philosophy or chess. Still, John Dewey did fumble with philosophical concepts
in his writing, sometimes amusingly, in the mistaken belief that deeper mud
makes a stronger foundation. This makes him quite useful to students of
philosophy today. A Ph.D. dissertation in
philosophy usually consists of pointing out some pesky little inconsistency in
the work of a famous philosopher — i.e., tapping a famous philosopher
on the shoulder. Many philosophy graduate students simply can’t reach that
high, and end up pinching a famous philosopher on the
ass. Fortunately for these students, Dewey is what
you might call “accessible.”


My introduction has piqued your interest, and you’re still reading! You’ll be
sorrr-rrry! Here’s a sample of John Dewey brilliance, from chapter 1 of his
greatest work, Democracy and Education:

Society exists through a process of transmission quite as much as
biological life. This transmission occurs by means of
communication of habits of doing, thinking, and feeling from the
older to the younger. Without this communication of ideals,
hopes, expectations, standards, opinions, from those members of
society who are passing out of the group life to those who are
coming into it, social life could not survive. If the members
who compose a society lived on continuously, they might educate
the new-born members, but it would be a task directed by personal
interest rather than social need. Now it is a work of

In case you’re wondering: yes, he did intend for this book to be read by
adults. There’s also a bit of Dewey content in a block quote at the
Slightly to the Right entry.

DEW Line
Distant Early Warning LINE. A 3000-mile line across the North American
continent, along which radar surveillance was maintained continually, to guard
against a bomber attack over the Arctic from the Soviet
. The line was flanked on the Atlantic and Pacific by Navy patrols
using long-range aircraft supported by modified-destroyer escorts. The line
was backed by the Mid-Canada Line and the Pine Tree Line, built earlier in the
decade. The DEW Line began operation in August 1957. Data from the systems
was gathered at NORAD headquarters.

It cost a fortune to build ($600 million; $1 billion including naval flanks; 26
dead due to flight accidents in generally terrible weather) and a larger
fortune to maintain (a quarter billion dollars per year). Given the supersonic
speeds of bombers of the time, it would have provided about one hour’s warning
of an attack against the lower 48. Two months after it went into operation,
the USSR launched Sputnik. By 1963, ballistic missiles were considered to be
the major threat, and in 1965 the Navy patrols on the Atlantic and Pacific
flanks of the DEW Line were discontinued. BMEWS
was added. An air-defense pact signed by US President Ronald Reagan and
Canadian PM Brian Mulroney in March 1985 turned the DEW Line over to Canada in
1989. By that year, the North Warning System was in place. That required only
13 minimally-manned AN/FPS-117 long-range radar sites.

The Soviet Union fell apart for Christmas 1990. Over time, of course, various
pieces of the early-warning system had been decommissioned as they had become
redundant. Particularly since 2001, an attack over the Arctic has not seemed
to be a major concern, and things like the DEW Line are of mainly historical
interest (though North Korea is working hard at justifying missile defenses).
A good place to learn about Cold-War-era early-warning systems is Dave Word’s
Early Warning Connection
(with a links

Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry. Yeah, “absorpti-O-metry.” DEXA scans
are used to determine bone mineral density (BMD).
Rightward. The term is used in epigraphy to describe writing from left to
right, and letters whose stance (that is a technical term) is the normal
one for dextrograde writing.

The common writing directions are dextrograde,
sinistrograde (leftward),
boustrophedon (alternating), and vertical.
In horizontal writing, it is normal (very normal) for successive lines in a
block of text to be written below the ones preceding. Likewise, vertical
writing is implicitly downward writing. Parallel lines of vertical writing may
progress to the left or to the right.

Direct EXchange UCS.
The UCS EDI standard used for direct store delivery
Dark-Field. An imaging mode for TEM.
Data Flow.
Decision Feedback.
Degree[s] of Freedom.
Demagnetization Factor.
Design For. Another one of those acronym prefixes (like
CA-). E.g.,
DFX, and
Distributing Frame.
Distribution Function.
Distrito Federal, `Federal District’ in Spanish. Typically the national capital of a Latin
American country, similar to `District of Columbia’
(DC). Thus, the capital of Mexico is
Méjico, D.F..
Duty Factor.
Democracy For America. The 2004 Dean-for-President campaign, retasked and
run by Howard’s brother Jim.
Designated For Assignment. A baseball euphemism meaning sent down from
the majors.
Design For (DF-) Assembly.
DoD Supplement to the Federal Acquisition
Regulations (FAR).
(US) Defense Finance and
Accounting Service
Department of Foreign Affairs and
. Thank you, Australia!
Deutscher Fußball-Bund. `German Football Association.’
Distributed FeedBack. In EE applications, this
does not refer to the situation of having multiple back-seat passengers.
Data Flow Control.
Development Finance Company.
Digital Future Coalition. “…committed
to striking an appropriate balance in law and public policy between protecting
intellectual property and affording public access to it. The DFC is the result
of a unique collaboration of many of the nation’s leading non-profit
educational, scholarly, library, and consumer groups, together with major
commercial trade associations representing leaders in the consumer electronics,
telecommunications, computer, and network access industries.”
Data Flow Diagram.
Design For (DF-) Disassembly.
Digital Frequency Discriminator. The frequency measurement
component in a wide bandwidth instantaneous frequency measurement
(IFM) receiver.
Digital Flight Data Recorder.
Department for Education and Employment. Seems to be the old name of
the DfES. I tried visiting the URL
in July 2001 and was autoforwarded to DfES.
(UK government)
Department For Education and Skills.
Design For (DF-) Environment, Safety, and
Health (ESH).
Delay Flip-Flop.
Data Flow Graph. Used in logic design.
Degenerate Fermi Gas.
. `German Research Foundation.’ Like
the US NSF, but its annual budget (once 2
billion DM, which gives you an idea of how long
ago it was that I last checked) comes jointly from the states and the federal
government. It seems to function rather more autonomously, respecting which
areas of research are emphasized, than the NSF does, but I’m judging only from
the homepage description.
Digital Function Generator.
Discrete Frequency Generator.
Degenerate Fermi Gas Model. A degenerate Fermi system is a system of
fermions in which the electrochemical potential (called the Fermi level or
Fermi energy in many statistical-mechanical contexts) is far above the
potential-energy minimum. “Far above” means by many multiples of
kBT, where T is absolute temperature and
kB is Boltzmann’s constant.
Data Facility Hierarchical Storage Manager. Or for short.
Doesn’t stand for anything that I’m aware of, but it sounds good flowing
off the tongue. Someone should create an organization whose name can be
abbreviated DFI.

Oh, look! Someone has already thought of it:

Department For International
. According to a position advertisement in The
, DFID “is the UK’s government department responsible for
promoting development and the reduction of poverty. DFID is committed to the
internationally agreed target of halving the proportion of people living in
extreme poverty by 2015.” Naturally, they sought a “microfinance expert”
for CML.
David Florida Laboratory. A Canadian facility for spacecraft assembly,
integration, and aerospace testing, operated by the Canadian Space Agency.
This Florida business could get confusing.
Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. The Minnesota Democratic party, whose name
dates back to the merger of the Democratic and Farmer-Labor parties in 1944.
Distributed-Feedback (DFB) Laser.
Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. An organization that
still (in 2005) has an organ called a “politburo.”
Design For (DF-) Low Power.
Defect-Free Manufacturing.
Deputy Foreign Minister. Or maybe Deputy
Finance Minister.
Design For (DF-) Manufacturability.
Difference Frequency Mixing.
Deutsches ForschungsNetz.
(`German Research Net’).
Deutsches ForschungsNetz (DFN)
Computer Emergency Response Team.
“Emergencies” are security breaches. See CERT
for other relevant organizations.

I used to have a DTO entry defined as design-to-operability. I probably
screwed up in transcription. Hope this is right.

Department of Fisheries and
of Canada. That would be Fisheries
and Oceans Canada
in the modern mode. We have some
information on that
Diisopropyl PhosphoroFluoridate. No, not “DPF.” Not here, anyway.
Disappearing-Filament Pyrometer.
Decreasing Failure Rate.
Design For (DF-) Recycling.
Design For (DF-) Reliability.
Dryden Flight Research Center
. Earlier DFRF
(next entry).
(NASA‘s) Dryden Flight Research Facility.
Previously ADFRF (Ames-…), now DFRC.
Distributed File System.
Duty-Free Shops.
Dying of Sick Sigma. Oh, wait a sec… I may have misheard that. It’s
“Design for Six Sigma.” Huh, I got it right after all.

Density Functional Theory
(UK) Department
For Transport
Design For (DF-) Testability.
Discrete Fourier Transform.
Dynamic Fault Tree. DFT methodology or analysis was developed to combine
FTA with Markov analysis.

Department For The Aging
of New York City.
See New York State‘s Aging Services Network Locator.
German, DatenfernÜbertragung. `Data
Deutsches Forschungs-und-Versuchsanstalt für
. `German Research and Development Establishment for Air
and Space Travel.’
Dallas – Fort Worth (airport).
Degenerate Four-Wave Mixing.
Man, those laser physicists must be kinky.
Design For (DF-) eXcellence.
Design For (DF-) X. “X” represents an a
unknown variable. Acronym designates robust design tool(s).

[Football icon]

Defensive Guard. A position in American football.
Director General. Chiefly British.
Distributed Generation (of electric power).
Democratic Governors’

The Democratic
Governors’ Association … was founded
in 1983 to support the candidacy of
Democratic Governors throughout the nation. [I’m sure that with a few sensible
reforms, that sentence could achieve literally the significance intended by the
original framers.] The DGA provides political and strategic assistance to
Gubernatorial campaigns. In addition, the DGA plays an integral role in
developing positions on key state and federal issues that effect the states
through the Governors’ Policy Forum Series.”

Cf. RGA.

Differential Gravimetric Analysis.
Direct Graphics Access.
Directors Guild of America.
Deutsche Gesellschaft
`German Gerodentistry Association.’

In a few places I’ve seen DGAZ given incorrectly with “German Association of
Esthetic Dentistry” as an English gloss. This is certainly an error, but not
of translation; the error is that the German acronym DGÄZ
(next entry) has been misspelled “DGAZ.”

Deutsche Gesellschaft
für Ästhetische Zahnheilkunde
Association of Esthetic Dentistry.’

Please note: if you have any difficulty writing, typing, printing, or otherwise
indicating the vowel “Ä,” you are strongly advised to substitute “Ae.”
This is common practice. [Indeed, the diacritical mark on the Ä (called
an Umlaut) arose as an abbreviated form of e: it represents the two
vertical strokes used in writing e in the Fraktur scripts used for
German until the middle of the twentieth century.] The letters ä and a
represent rather different vowels. They’re as different as e and a. In fact,
they’re almost precisely as different: ä represents the same sounds as e
(except in some double-vowel combinations).
To write “DGAZ” for DGÄZ is thus a spelling error. In a way, it’s worse
than writing “DGEZ” for DGÄZ, since “esthetisch” is a plausible
borrowing from English, whereas it’s hard to see how an “asthetisch” spelling
could arise.

In summary: if you can’t manage “DGÄZ,” just write DGAeZ. That’s what
the organization itself did, in choosing the domain name <>.
“DGAZ” (entry above) is another organization

Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund. `German Trade
Union Federation.’ A congress of fifteen industrial unions (cf.
CIO); most German union members belong to the DGB.
In 1997 the membership was 8.6 million workers (incl. 2.6 million women), of
which 5.21 million (1.03 million women) were manual laborers, 2.46 million
(1.33 million) were white-collar workers, and 643 thousand (170 thousand) were
managers. The largest unions outside the DGB umbrella are (in order of
decreasing membership) the
and CGD.

The DGB was founded in 1949. The same goes for a large fraction of German

DiethyleneGlycol Distearate. A/k/a DEGDS.


Spanish, `Greek-Spanish Dictionary.’ Under construction.
Expensive but worth it is the verdict on volumes out so far. Far better than
LSJ (which nevertheless provides the initial
skeleton on which it is constructed). Unlike the LSJ, the DGE includes
personal names and toponyms, and words and usages from Mycenaean Greek and
Christian (generally Koine) writings. (The LSJ
does include a few of the most important proper nouns.)

The original intention was to provide a slightly improved version of the LSJ
for the use of Spanish-speaking universitarios, supplemented by
information from other useful references, but almost from the beginning, the
project has suffered from mission creep. There was the desire to incorporate
advances in the understanding of Indo-European that took place in the twentieth
century, and advances in other branches of linguistics. The mission crept so
far at the beginning of the project that the decision was made to completely
redo the first volume even before the rest of the first edition was done. A
number of important appendices to the dictionary have been published. One can
certainly sympathize with and even admire the ambitiousness of the project, but
the staff available to accomplish this great work is limited.

Volume V, whose last entry is dionychos, appeared in 1997. As of 1998,
the schedule was for subsequent volumes to arrive every other year (vol. VI in
1999, ktl.), but in fact volumes VI and VII did not
come out until 2002 and 2009 (yes, in that order). They’re not even out of the
xi’s. At the present rate, all current participants will be buried before the
DGE is finished. What they need is a new business model. They should make the
primary medium of publication electronic, do a quick Spanish translation of
the LSJ so they have a complete zeroth edition, and color-code the entries to
reflect the degree of vetting and updating that has occurred. Then they can
make regular updates to the online version, and issue annual or semi-annual
patches to libraries (and individuals) that subscribe to any locally served
version. (If you can’t afford a digital connection, you can’t afford the DGE,
so a hardcopy edition is beside the point.) Fwiw, as of this writing (February
2014), the online version is about halfway through epsilon.

As it is, the main current output of the DGE effort is appendices
(annejos). Appendix volumes I and II (published in 1985 and 1993) are a
valuable dictionary of Mycenaean Greek. (Mycenaean Greek was written in Linear
B, a syllabic script in which many of the symbols represent multiple similar
syllables). Appendix Volume VI (a compilation of 25 articles written by
various members of the project over the preceding 20 years) was published in
2005. The most recent indication I noticed, that the DGE effort has not been
abandoned, is that Sabine Arnaud-Thuillier and Frederic Glorieux, of the
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Madrid, were scheduled
for the Posters/Demos session of the DCA
conference of April 2013, with “Diccionario Griego — Español” as the

There was also a fiducial DLE effort, but it was
slow off the mark. Ummm, relatively speaking, that is.

Deutsche Gesellschaft für
, e.V. `German Association for American Studies.’ DGfA is a
constituent association of the EAAS.
Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft.
Designation on catalog codes. Part of Polydor these days.

A list of others is kindly served by
Wayne Garvin.

Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis.
Deutsche Gesellschaft für
Geschichte der Medizin, Naturwissenschaft und
e.V. `German Society for the History of
Medicine, Natural Science, and Technology, Inc.’
The homepage claims rather plausibly that DGGMNT is the world’s oldest [formal]
society specifically dedicated to the history of a scholarly discipline (die
älteste wissenschaftshistorische Fachgesellschaft der Welt
). It was
founded on Sept. 25, 1901, as Deutsche Gesellschaft für Geschichte der
Medizin und Naturwissenschaft
. I’m not sure when the technology bit was
added to the name.
Deutsche Gesellschaft
für Herpetologie und Terrarienkunde,

`German Society for Herpetology and Terrariatology.’

Unless you’re rereading this entry, you probably haven’t encountered the word
terrariatology” before.
AFAIK, the word exists in English only for the
purpose of translating the German word Terrarienkunde. On the Internet,
as of early February, the only instance that I can find of the English word is
in a
1986 essay by Eugene Garfield
(yeah, the famous
ISI guy) where the DGHT’s name is given in

The German word is quite common. Das große Wörterbuch der
deutschen Sprache
of Duden defines it as “Lehre von der Haltung u.
Zucht von Tieren im Terrarium.”
[`Knowledge of the care & breeding of
animals in terraria.’] The big Langenscheidts Enzyklopädisches
(English to German and back in four volumes) dutifully
offers `terrariatology’ as a translation. Offhand, I can find neither this
ostensible English word nor terrariology in any English monolingual
dictionary such as the OED.

Direct Graphics Interface Standard.
German, dergleichen or desgleichen. English: `the like.’
Both words of the English term are cognate with the expansions of the German
abbreviation: gleich and like are cognates; English simply lost a
lot of g’s.

However, the German expressions elide a bit less. The English idiom can be
thought of as abbreviating an expression like “of the like kind,” with
“of” and “kind” understood. The German articles der and des
are in the genitive case, so they are equivalent to “of the.” Also,
adjectives in German nominalize in a way that they do not automatically do in
English. Thus, from the German adjective klein, meaning `small,’
one has “der kleine” meaning `the small one.’

Gesellschaft für Neuroradiologie
. `German
Society of Neuroradiology.’
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Operations
, e.V.. `German Society for
Operations Research.’ Merged with GMÖOR in
1998 to form GOR.
Differential Global Positioning System (GPS).
d. Gr.
German der Große. English: `the Great.’
Director General of the Research Councils (in the Br. Department of
Trade and Industry). What’s a “department”? I thought the Brits called
them “Ministries.” Maybe ministries have departments. I suppose I could look it up. But then so could you.
Defense General Supply Center.
Deutsche Gesellschaft
für Zahnärzliche Implantologie.
Society for Dental Implants.’
`i.e.‘ [Abbreviation for das
, in German.] Equivalently (but less common in my education)
D. H.

  • David Herbert. As in David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930).
  • David Hilbert. As in David Hilbert (1862-1943), the great

Department of Health.

DH, dh
Designated Hitter. Bats for the pitcher. Used in the American league
of Major League Baseball (MLB). In the World
Series, the DH is used in alternate years. Use of the DH is considered
immoral by many baseball purists.
Die Hard. A sequence of movie starring Demi Moore’s ex-husband.


Dionysius of Halicarnassus.
Double Heterostructure.


Dialogues d’Histoire Ancienne.
DeHydroepiAndrosterone. Same as DHEA,
DocosaHexaenoic Acid.
An Asian tree, now also found in the
Scrabble forest.
DiHydroxyAcetone Phosphate.
Dual-channel Heterojunction Bipolar Transistor (HBT).
Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol.
DeHydroEpiAndrosterone. A/k/a DHA. An
adrenal hormone which early research (1995) indicates has effects similar to
melatonin. No, as a matter of fact, I haven’t looked into this matter
DHEA Sulfate. Also abbreviated DS and DHA-S; I
hope they settle on a common usage soon. Considered less active than DHEA. Serum DHEA-S is the marker of adrenal androgen,
and a level greater than 700ng/dl suggests a possible androgen-producing tumor
of adrenal origin.
Scots Gaelic for `right.’
Department of Health and Human
of the US government.
DiHydrogen MonOxide. Of special interest is the Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division of
(DMRD), which “provide[s] an unbiased data clearinghouse and a
forum for public discussion” of the
surrounding dihydrogen monoxide.”
Diesel-Hydraulic Multiple-Unit train. A kind of self-powered passenger
rail car. Specifically, a DMU in which power
from the diesel engine is transmitted hydraulically to the (powered) wheels.
Automatic transmissions in cars are another example of hydraulic power
US Department of Homeland Security.
(Australian government’s) Department of
Human Services and Health.
DiHydroTestosterone. An anabolic steroid. For the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima, only eleven Chinese
athletes tested positive. Obviously, they must be using other drugs.
de Haas-van Alphen.
Die Hard (DH) Five. The current release of a
popular entertainment product. If you liked the first, then you’re
guaranteed to like the current one, because the title, star, action and
plot are the same.
`i.e.‘ [Abbreviation for das
, in German.] More common equivalent: d.h.
Data Identifier.
DeIonized [water]. Not exactly the same as highly pure water, because
making DI water means focusing on conductivity, and there may be substantial
nonpolar solute concentration even in water with low conductivity.
DIdymium. A rare earth named after the Greek
word for twin (didymos) [a twin of lanthanum]. Eventually determined to
be a quite rare earth indeed, since it was not
a distinct element but a mixture of neodymium
(Nd) and praseodymium. This is just as well,
because it reminds me of epididymis.

The nonelemental nature of didymium was demonstrated by Auer von Welsbach in
1885. The 1989 edition of the OED (the
OED2), has this definition:

A rare metal, discovered by Mosander in 1841; found only in association with
cerium and lanthanium. Symbol Di.

I suppose it’s possible to give some weaselly defense of this, since they don’t
flat out say it’s an element. But the entry is immensely deceptive, since
the unsuspecting reader would probably draw the conclusion that didymium was a
metallic chemical element. The dozen other dictionaries I’ve checked,
including the New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, are explicit that didymium
is not an element. For example, Webster’s
Revised Unabridged Dictionary
(1913) offers

A rare metallic substance usually associated with the metal
cerium; — hence its name. It was formerly supposed to be an
element, but has since been found to consist of two simpler
elementary substances, neodymium and praseodymium. See
Neodymium, and Praseodymium.

(I’m not sure whether didymium was given its name as a twin of lanthanum, as
the OED2 etymology asserts, or of cerium, or of both.)

The forty-year delay in separating the elemental components of the alloy
didymium is due, of course, to the fact that that the rare earth elements are
chemically and physically very similar, and separating them ultimately depends
on small quantitative differences in the physical properties of their
compounds amplified by chromatographic techniques. When the
separation is so difficult, the mixed substance may be directly useful.
Didymium is used as a light filter in safety glasses used by glass blowers and
glass workers. The color centers formed by didymium in glass only add a slight
tint to broad-spectrum light, but they absorb very efficiently the spectrum of
light emitted by hot sodium glass. Another case of such a mix of elements used
unseparated is mischmetal, described at the rare

Dielectric Isolation. Electronic isolation between devices
accomplished by completely surrounding devices by oxide. The term is
sanctioned by the most common usage to refer to a process in which oxide
completely surrounds the devices. This is achieved by etching into the
wafer to define the isolated regions of epi that will have devices.
The whole surface is oxidized, and a thick layer of poly-silicon is
deposited on top as a field oxide. The wafer is then mostly etched away
from the back, to leave the thin upper regions of the wafer isolated.
Flipped over so the poly-silicon is the “substrate,” (the structural
support), one can continue processing the isolated silicon regions from
what was “below.” The term junction isolation is also applied to
other isolation strategies, like LOCOS, in
which junction isolation on the underside of devices is augmented or
replaced by dielectric isolation near the surface. Cf. Junction
Direct Ignition. Isn’t this what we used to do in the Boy Scouts?
Direct Investment.
Disease Incidence.
Donor Insemination.
Drop and Insert.
Defense Intelligence Agency.
Detroit Institute of Arts.
German, short for diapositiv (photography: negative of a negative).
English `slide, transparency.’
diagonal relationship
A similarity of properties between elements along diagonals of the periodic
table. The principal kind of diagonal relationship occurs at the top
(lowest-numbered periods) of the periodic table, and represents a kind of edge
effect deviation from the main pattern of vertical relationships that led to
the discovery of the periodic table.

The vertical relationship is easily explained: elements in a single group
(column) of the periodic table have the same number of outer shell electrons;
these occupy similar orbitals and exhibit similar bonding patterns, and hence
similar chemical properties in general. These similarities are greatest
between adjacents elements (i.e., elements in the same group and
adjacent periods), so various graphs of chemical and physical properties as a
function of period exhibit approximately linear, or at least monotonic trends.
In such graphs, the lowest-period element (the one at the top of the column) is
often an exception to the general trend, but may participate in a diagonal
relationship. Sometimes the diagonal relationship is not so obvious because of
the way the table is laid out. That’s the case with the well-established
diagonal relationship between aluminum and beryllium.

DIfferential Absorption Lidar.
As everyone knows, a language is a dialect with an army. That doesn’t
really answer the question, does it? Okay, visit the
entry. It doesn’t answer the question either, but it contains
important revelations. The variety entry
(q.v.) also doesn’t answer the question either. This is not surprising,
since there is no unique best way to distinguish language and dialect.
DIAMide EXtraction. A counter-current process, with a centrifuge
extraction battery, developed to partition trivalent actinides. The term was
originally coined for a specific process developed in France, but is now used
generically for similar countercurrent extraction processes.
A diamond is a square turned 45 degrees. This discovery was the
breakthrough that once made baseball so popular in American cities.

Interestingly, in traditional (French-suited)
playing cards, each king in
the deck is supposed to represent a great king from history:

  • Spades — David
  • Clubs — Alexander (probably the Great)
  • Hearts — Charles (probably Charlemagne)
  • Diamonds — Julius Caesar

It also works if you rotate it 135 degrees, left or right! That’s
called (C4m) symmetry!

Pink Floyd have an excellent song entitled “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” It
originally appeared in the “Wish You Were Here” album. They put it in the
1995 album “Pulse,” since they’d run out of new ideas. (They also have an
eight-CD box set called “Shine On” for about

Sky diamonds figure in an LSD song. See

Elvis Costello sings

Well it’s a dog’s life in a rope leash or a diamond collar
It’s enough to make you think right now
But you don’t bother

in “Suit of Lights.” From the “King of America” album (1986) — lyrics here.
The name of Isaac Newton’s pet dog, apparently. Read some of the whole story.
A “precious gem.” Price is maintained by deBeers cartel, a
conglomerate set up by Mr. Rhodes (he of Rhodes scholar and Rhodesia/Zimbabwe
fame), which controls production from an increasing number of diamond mines
world-wide. The
Hope diamond
is probably the world’s most famous large diamond.

Here’s one mounted on a ring.

Most diamonds mined are not gem quality, and have value only in industrial
applications. (Diamond is the “hardest” material–it defines the maximum,
10, on the Mohs scale of hardness.
“Hardest” means that no other crystal can scratch it, but it can make a
scratch in anything else. My next research project will be to discover how
nature manages to put diamonds on cats’ paws.)

Somewhere I should mention that diamond is pure carbon (C). It is the stable form
of elemental carbon at the high pressures and temperatures that occur where it
is formed, but graphite is the stable form at normal temperature and pressure.

A semiconductor. Many problems remain to be solved before it can
become a viable competitor to silicon, but it boasts a higher mobility,
so its developers hope it can find a niche in high-speed applications.

Probably the biggest problem is doping. There are no good n-type dopants for
diamond, so one is pretty much restricted to unipolar devices. The best
p-type dopant is boron (B), and its acceptor level
in the diamond bandgap is 360meV above the valence edge. This means that
at room temperature, the acceptors are only a few percent ionized. Of
course, you can heat the semiconductor up to increase the carrier density —
360meV represents the activation energy for
creating carriers. Unfortunately, this runs into the problem of
temperature-dependent mobility: µ ~T-a, where a is typically
in excess of 2. In other words, you can’t increase the conductivity by
raising the temperature to increase carrier density, because the mobility goes

One of the great attractions of diamond semiconductor, relative to silicon (if
you could get around diamond’s other problems), is its stellar heat
conductivity — 20-30 W/K-cm.


Ancient goddess of hunting.

“Hey, watch who you call `ancient’ there, mortal!”

A space between. It’s a Greek word, and its plural is diastemata.
(The Scrabble dictionary for amateurs, OSPD4, also
accepts the barbaric diastemas, but
SOWPODS and TWL98 admirably refrain.)

In music, a diastema an interval (i.e., a pitch difference),
typically that between successive notes of a scale. The term is used primarily
in the context of ancient Greek music. An obsolete alternative form (for the
singular diastema only) is diastem, an accident of borrowing
indirectly from the French

In zoology and anatomy, a diastema is the space between successive
teeth, or between two kinds of teeth. Man is unusual among mammals in having
generally small diastema. The way diastema is usually understood, as a
substantial natural space between teeth, man has none at all.

Device-Independent Bitmap.
Drain-Induced Barrier-Lowering.
Direct Inter-LATA Connecting trunk.
Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation. (“Disseminated” has medical
usage equivalent to “spread,” “scattered,” or “broadly distributed.”
In other words, it implies spatial delocalization without implying that this
arose by dispersal from a common origin.) DIC may be caused by various insults
and trauma, but seems to be of interest more for the risk posed for further
bleeding by the depletion of clotting factors, and less for the direct
consequences of the disseminated coagulation.
Dissolved Inorganic Carbon.
Durham Inter-Collegiate
Christian Union
. “DICCU exists to make Jesus Christ known to students in
Durham” and its acronym exists to give everyone a little chuckle. My own
impression was that Jesus Christ is rather well known, even in Durham, at least
by reputation. Regarding JC’s former fame, see the LSJ entry. (The relevant bit is along about the
eleventh paragraph, as of this writing.)
Dashboard Integrated Central Electronics.
Dictionary of Idioms for the Deaf, A
One day when I was in tenth grade, I was in the math resource center waiting
for a teacher to answer a question. (I would usually realize the answer in the
process of formulating or clarifying the question, but that’s another story.)
The only other student there was the blind kid. As we were talking, I
thoughtlessly used the phrase “it looks like….” I don’t remember precisely
what I said, because my thoughts were disconnected when he replied “I wouldn’t

I thought the book whose title is the head term of this entry would be
interesting. You know, like what sort of metaphor do the deaf sign when they
mean “my ears are tingling” or something. The book is by Maxine T. Boatner
and John E. Gates. Revised Edition Edited by Adam Makkai. Prepared for the
National Association of the Deaf. It’s part of Barron’s Educational Series,
Inc., Woodbury, New York. It was originally copyright 1966 by American School
for the Deaf, West Hartford, Connecticut. Isn’t Gary
originally from West Hartford? My copy was discarded from the Grandview School
Library in Alliance, Nebraska. I bought it at the
used book store there when I made my pilgrimage
to Carhenge.

Anyway, the “for the Deaf” in the title modifies “Dictionary.” It’s just
ordinary idioms of spoken English. That’s the basic problem with reference
works: they waste your time and never tell you what you actually want to know!
What a disappointment.

Dictionary of … and …
Quite a few of the earliest translation dictionaries published in Britain
have names following a formula like this. The “and” in their titles is
better understood as “and then,” a “dictionarie of fooe and barr” beeing a
dictionary in which headwords in foo are followed by definitions in, or
translations into, bar. The prevalence of the pattern might be judged
approximately on the evidence of the Scolar [sic] Press series
English Linguistics: 1500-1800, a collection of 365 facsimile reprints
selected by R. C. Alston and published between 1967 and 1972. (The number
given first with the description of each work below is the number in that
series; works in each list are ordered by initial publication date, so far as
that is known.)

  1. Anon.: The Boke of Englysshe and Spanysshe
    (ca. 1554).
    English phrases followed by Spanish
    equivalents. (From the choice of phrases, it looks like it would be
    most useful to a preacher or missionary.)
  2. Thomas Cooper: Thesaurus Linguae Romanae et
    Britannicae, tam accurate congestus, etc.
    Entries give Latin words followed by English
  3. Claude Desainliens: A Dictionarie of French and
    (Enlarged edition of work published anonymously
    in 1571, almost certainly by the same author, a well-known
    teacher of French.) French words and
    idiomatic phrases followed by English translations.
  4. Thomas Thomas [sic]: Dictionarium Linguae
    Latinae et Anglicanae
    Latin words defined in English.

The pattern is confirmed two-way bilingual dictionary is described on the title
page as consisting of two parts: “I. French and English” and
“II. English and French.” The heading of the first part is described as
“Containing the FRENCH before the English” and “Qui contient le
” (not Anglais). It has French
headwords followed by English definitions and explanations. The work:

  1. Abel Boyer: The Royal Dictionary Abridged
    (Boyer first published his original Royal Dictionary in 1699. It was
    constantly revised and reprinted; the last edition was published in
    1896. The abridged version added accentuation information for English
    words, and went through over 40 printings through 1860.)

The one exception to the pattern is the earliest comparably titled work in the
series; it is tempting to speculate that the preposition in (rather than
of) accounts for or must be coordinated with the difference:

  1. William Salesbury: A Dictionary in English and
    Paired columns, Welsh words on the left and English translations
    on the right.

For the sake of completeness, I’ll list the other (four, that I can find)
bilingual dictionaries in the series; all involve Latin as source or target
language or both.

  1. “Galfridus [or Galfredus] Grammaticus, OP”:
    Promptorium parvulorum (1499).
    (First compiled around 1440, the work was printed a number of times
    between 1499 and 1528. The work was also known by the title
    Medulla Grammatices.) English nouns and verbs with definitions
    in Latin. (Nouns and then verbs beginning in A, followed by nouns and
    then verbs beginning in B, etc. “Nouns” here (nomina) is to
    be understood to include both nouns
    adjective and
    nouns substantive.)
  2. Thomas Elyot: The Dictionary of syr Thomas Eliot
    Latin words with English translations.
  3. Richard Huloet: Abecedarium Anglico-Latinum
    English words with Latin translations.
  4. John Davies: Dictionarium duplex (1632).
    Welsh-Latin (Britannico-Latinum and (posterius)
    Latin-Welsh (Latino-Britannicum).


revue de poétique latine
. French periodical described as
“Dictynna: International Review of Latin Poetry.” An electronic journal
launched in Spring 2004. It was long overdue. (The identity of Dictynna
is explained
. Look, all the good classical-journal titles were taken decades ago.)

Judging from the first issue, I supposed that the articles were required to be
in any of the common languages of classical philology publication — English,
French, German, Italian, maybe Spanish or Dutch.
But the author
just say that “[t]outes les propositions d’articles sont
à rédiger dans la langue maternelle de leur auteur.” Things
could get interesting (if they can find reviewers).

Digital Information Director.
Direct Inward Dialing.
Domain IDentifier.
didactic poetry

Didactic poetry
Ain’t what it used to be,
When Lucretius waxed poetic,
About theories atomic.
And Virgil for better or worse,
Gave farmers advice in verse.
Allit’rative verse was once stylish
For teaching the Bible in English,
But it’s all over now.

The practice of writing didactic poems took a dive at the beginning of the
twentieth century, and the only substantive one that we have in the entire
glossary (I can’t bring myself to call it “good”) is a eulogy of iodine from
the middle of the nineteenth century (see the I entry).
We also have a paean to tar water (water in which pine tar has been washed).
It was written by Bishop Berkeley and can be found at the entry for the
IBS. I can’t deny that it was intended to be
didactic, but I’d prefer not to assert that it was informative.

Probably the only well-known didactic poet of the latter half of the twentieth
century is Tom Lehrer. He was a roommate at Harvard of my thesis advisor,
P.W. Anderson. (I recall that one day he [PWA] seemed pretty disgusted to
discover that I, a physics graduate student, didn’t know what a double-dactyl
was.) Anderson won a Nobel prize in physics, but Lehrer won fame. On the
other hand, Lehrer burned out.
This webpage
features a Flash animation of “The Elements.” A good source for (generally
older) didactic poetry, including the lyrics of differential-geometry drinking
songs and the like, is Gravitation (the big black paperback) by Misner,
Thorne, and Wheeler.

The main kinds of didactic poetry that have continued to be written are short:
advertising jingles and pronunciation poems (the latter mostly for surnames).
For good examples of the former, see the
Pepsi-Cola and 43
entries. We give examples of didactic pronunciation verse at the
Jowett, and Pepys
entries. But for all of you who have simply printed out the glossary for
leisure reading and have trouble following the links, here’s another, this one
written by Robert

Man, Nation, Maiden
Please call it Baden.
Further, for Powell
Rhyme it with Noël.

That boy’d’ve had to work a lot harder, if he ever wanted to earn the highly
coveted Poetry Merit Badge. The way poetry went to hell in the last century, I
suppose losing the didactic sort may have been a blessing in disguise.

The Journal of The Joint Association of Classical Teachers. (That’s JACT.)
did not finish college
Did not finish college — or begin college, for that matter. (I would have
told you if you had asked!) Personalsese “term of art” used in
self-description. (Anyone who ever
registered is deemed to have graduated, for
personals-statistical purposes.) Cf. J.-D.
Did you find everything you were looking for?
Not just a solicitous question, but the encapsulation of a whole frame
of mind. As if to suggest that I knew what I wanted when I walked into the
supermarket. Really, now.

Sociologists say it with Weltanschaung.
Haben Sie alles gefunden?
lfs already.

In the semiconductor electronics industry, microelectronic devices are
mostly fabricated on rectangular pieces of semiconductor wafers (usually
silicon wafers that start out about 0.7 mm thick). Since a rectangular piece,
or chip, is made by dicing a wafer, it is also naturally called a die.
Interestingly, the plural of this die is die.
Singular of the plural dice.
Spanish term, jargon in use among
specialists, for someone who studies the eighteenth century (el siglo
). In principle, it could have arisen independently in Spanish
(it literally means `eighteenist’) but it’s probably better thought of as a calque of the French


dies irae
Latin, `day of wrath.’ First words and name of medieval Christian hymn
describing Judgment Day, used in some masses for the dead. Most used today
in crossword puzzles. English-language crossword puzzles, not
Latin-language crossword puzzles.
Diet of Worms
Not a dog food. Not even a bird food.
Diet, Science
A brand of dog food.
Data Interchange Format.
Dubai International Financial Centre.

Dr. Nasser Saidi, Chief Economist of the DIFC, said in a speech on October 28,
2007, that the economies of GCC states should now be
considered as asset-based ones rather than oil-based. It makes me think of
(Saidi’s speech was the regulatory keynote address to
the Sovereign Reserve Management, Pension and Institutional Funds Congress
, held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the UAE somewhere.)

A mechanical linkage that transmits torque from a single source (the drive
shaft) to two drive wheels. The traditional differential involves just a few
gears, and rigidly conserves the sum of the rotation angles (apart from a
factor of a gear ratio): if the drive shaft turns by an angle θ, then the
sum of the rotations of the left and right wheels is 2cθ (c the gear
ratio, 1 in the simplest case), even if the left and right wheels turn by
different amounts. If you put the car up with transmission in park (or the
clutch engaged to a stationary engine), then turning one wheel makes the other
turn in the opposite direction. The purpose of a differential is to compensate
for the fact that when a vehicle turns, the wheel on the inside of the turn
rotates (or should rotate) less than the wheel on the outside.

Chapter 5 of Atoms in the Family
describes a Bébé Peugeot purchased by frugal Enrico Fermi
in 1927, about a year before he married Laura (the future author of the book).
Even then, and particularly in Italy, this was a noticeable car. (And
probably Bébé wasn’t the official model designation.)

It burned little more gas than a motorcycle and made the same amount of noise.
Because it had no differential and its wheels were obliged to run at the same
speed on curves, it moved like a power-propelled baby carriage, jumping and
swerving at every turn. The particular Bébé Peugeot of which I
am going to talk was a two-seat convertible the color of bright egg-yolk, with
a leaky oilcloth roof and a rumble seat in the back. As it sped around at a
top velocity of twenty miles per hour, it was always followed by a dense cloud
of black smoke from the open exhaust.

(They don’t make baby carriages like they used to either.)

With the simplest differentials, if one of the drive wheels is free (on ice, in
mud, suspended off the driving surface, etc.) then it spins and little torque
is transmitted to the other wheel, yielding little net traction. Limited-slip
differentials were invented to prevent this from happening. Nowadays the
function of limited-slip differentials is increasingly incorporated in
electronic stability control (ESC) systems.

Many years later, on July 16, 1945, the first atomic bomb was exploded at
“Trinity.” The test was postponed by weather from a scheduled 4am to 5:30
am. Local time was “Mountain War Time,” so the test occurred at 4:30
Mountain Standard Time, which was still before civil twilight. So it was dark
outside, except during the test. A blind girl was reported to have seen it.
The military told the press that an ammo dump had blown up. Enrico Fermi got
back home to Los Alamos the evening of the 16th — between the test and the
inspections, he had pulled an all-nighter. The next morning
“all he had to say to the family was that for the first time in his life on
coming back from Trinity he had felt it was not safe for him to drive. It had
seemed to him as if the car were jumping from curve to curve, skipping the
straight stretches in between. He had asked a friend to drive….”

Differential Amplifier
The input to a differential amplifier is regarded as representing a
common mode (CM) plus and minus a difference signal or mode (DM).
Thus, the input voltages are V+ =
VDM and
V– =
An ideal differential amplifier amplifies only the difference signal
VDM =:
(V+ –
V-) / 2.
In general, real differential amplifiers working in the linear regime have
an output that is VOUT =
where for a usable differential amp it is necessary that the DM gain
ADM be much greater than the CM gain
Vide CMRR.
As soon as I am able to frame the category precisely, this entry will
contain links to organizations unforthcoming about their activity, like

I’ll also have to mention the mission-statement slogan “Working for people.”
Doubtless this is inspiring to people, but the question is: which people and
how? Dot Wordsworth (is that a real person?) noticed this and mentioned it in
her regular Spectator column (in
the 25 May 2002 issue
). It’s the slogan of the (English, I guess) Muslim
Aid charity.

Image: diffused resistor

diffused resistor
A traditional diffused resistor is made by contacting two ends of a
diffused p region in n material. In the simplest BJT fabrication,
the p region is defined by the same mask, and in the same step, as the
base regions for npn BJT’s. The n region
surrounding the diffused, conducting p region is connected to the highest
positive voltage in the circuit, so that the pn junction between the two
regions is everywhere reverse-biased. In this way, current flow between the
two terminals is restricted to a defined path. Note that multiple resistors
can be fabricated in the same n region, and all will be isolated from each
other by the reverse bias to the common n-doped material (this is called junction isolation).
The tendency of some quantity of anything — whether of particles of some
material or impurity (atoms, ions), or charge (electrons, holes), or some
more abstract thing as energy, phonons, photons,
momentum, angular momentum
or opinion — to move around even in the absence of some forcing field or
other applied bias. Diffusive motion is generally random. Physical diffusion
of particles and physical quantities associated with them occurs because
anything at finite temperature is not at rest, and because the restoring
forces that act to keep a particle in one place act to keep it in its new
place once it has moved. In a homogeneous
host, and over a broad range of time and length scales, most diffusants obey
Fick’s Law and the Diffusion equation (qq.v., ummm, when I eventually
put in entries for these things).
Digital Instantaneous Frequency Measurement. The basic element in any
broadband ESM.
If your vision is merely excellent, then you probably need an electron
microscope to read the printed catalog from Digi-Key. Fortunately, this
electronic components and tools supplier has a web site.

Digi-Key reveals that once,
Barry Goldwater purchased a digital clock kit from them.

The company name originates from founder Ronald A. Stordahl’s original
product, a digital electronic keyer kit for ham radio operators to send
radio-telegraph code.

My father sold crystal radios when he was in school. That product has been
discontinued as well.

digital rectal exam
This is not as high-tech as it sounds.
A term introduced by C. A. Ferguson in an article in the linguistics
journal Word (vol 15, 1959, pp. 325-340) entitled “Diglossia.” (Kinda
raised the bar on impenetrable scholarly-article titles, huh?) On page 336 (!)
he gave a definition:

Diglossia is a relatively stable language situation in which, in addition to
the primary dialects of the language (which may include a standard or regional
standards), there is a very divergent, highly codified (often grammatically
more complex) superposed variety, the vehicle of a large and respected body of
written literature, either of an earlier period or in another speech community,
which is learned largely by formal education and is used for most written and
formal spoken purposes but is not used by any sector of the community for
ordinary conversation.

I guess the coexistence of a standardized Hochdeutsch (“High German”)
and various local German languages, particularly in Switzerland, would be among
the best-known modern Western examples of diglossia. The term has become
widely used since Ferguson introduced it, and in practice the definition is not
so definite.

digraph capitalization
The Dutch capitalize ij by capitalizing both letters. The body of water
that I learned to call (or at least to recognize in spelling as) the Zuiderzee
in third grade is now the IJsselmeer.
Damned If I Know.
USENET newsgroup acronym.
One poster saves four seconds of typing, thousands of lurkers waste
hundreds of man-hours guessing.
Dual In-Line. See, for example, cerdip.
Look, I’m just pointing out, um, indicating, that the word exists. I think
that’s enough.

Do I Look Like I Give A Flying Farthing? (Farthing might not be
literally correct.) USENET newsgroup acronym.
One poster saves 2.3 seconds of typing, thousands of lurkers waste
hundreds of man-hours guessing.
DiIodoMethane. A liquid at room temperature.
Dual Independent Map Encoding. A digital map format developed by the U.S.
Bureau of the Census. Superseded by TIGER format in the 1990 census.
In general, something consisting of two parts. You know how the routine
goes on from here…. The world consists of two kinds of things: those
according to which the world consists of two kinds of things, and those
according to which it doesn’t.

Okay, enough of that. Obviously, the term was constructed from the reek roots
di- (compounding form of dis, `double, twice’) and
méros (`part, share’), patterned on polymer. Okay, that
really should be Greek, and not reek, but I figured you’d be
amused by the typo, so I left it. The English word dimer rhymes with
nickel-and-dimer. Oh, it’s too much! This entry is uproariously funny!

As usual, the term is used scientifically in a way that is more restrictive
than etymology alone would suggest. Specifically, the two parts are chemically
bonded and are chemically similar. The reason for this restriction is
probably that it was patterned on the word polymer, and polymer was
originally intended to refer to a chemically-bonded chain of similar units
(which eventually were called monomers, or monomer units). Hence a dimer was
the first step in the polymerization process.

Eventually, we’ll have a paragraph or two here about what we mean by
“chemically similar.” At minimum, we’ll point out that for chemical
purposes, different nuclear isotopes are almost always equivalent.

The simplest sort of dimer is a diatomic molecule of a single element, like
etc. (As the preceding sentence implies, the word diatomic does not
imply two atoms of the same element.) Other dimers include cyanogen
(CN)2, which is a dimer of cyanide. The word dimer is also applied
to a pair of identical functional groups, already part of a single molecule,
which bond directly to each other. An example is given in the
excimer entry.

The term dimer is used primarily in chemistry, but various dimers, and
dimerization (the formation of dimers) are of interest to condensed-matter
physicists, particularly in the context of the Peierls instability.
In biology, although the word dimer is not itself used (or at least not
common), the words dimerous and dimery occur. Specifically, in
botany a flower having two members in each whorl is dimerous, and the
occurrence of this feature is dimery. In the biological context, the
similarity of the two dimerous parts is not a strict requirement.

Parallel constructions in mono-, tri-, tetra-, penta-, etc. occur less commonly
in chemistry, and in biology with -merous and -mery.

Dual In-line Memory Module. A package of RAM.
DiIsopropyl MethylPhosphonate.
Data Information Management System.
DSCS Integrated Management System.
Data INput.
Institut für Normung
e.V. [German
Institute for Standardization

Drug Identification Number.
Dirección de Inteligencia NAcional. Chilean `National
Intelligence Directorate’ at least during the Pinochet dictatorship.
DIN Jack. (Female connector.)
DINK, dink
Dual Income, No Kids. A favored demographic [group] for marketing
luxury goods. Cf. OINK.
Dual Income, No Kids, With A Dog. Extension of
Democrat In Name Only. Substantially a synonym of the more common
expression, blue dog Democrat. Cf. RINA.
We proudly serve a Taxasaurus entry. But
for more conventional dinosaur stuff, with pictures, a good web place to go is
the University of California Museum of
. They also have a good page of links
that was updated in the very late Quaternary. There’s a nice little exhibit
at Honolulu Community
. It’s a bit surprising when you consider that the oldest of the
Hawaiian islands only began to be formed about six million years ago, long
after the last dinosaurs died. Also, I don’t think there’s any evidence T. Rex
could swim thousands of miles. Okay, it’s an exhibit of replicas of dinosaur
fossils at New York City‘s American Museum of Natural History, which has its own
slightly anti-intuitively disorganized dinosaur
web exhibit here
. (I know, I know — you never realized dinosaurs wove
webs. Everybody‘s a comedian!)

The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology
uses what look like a running T. Rex and a T. Rex head (Albertosaurus head,
actually) as logos, so you might expect them to have a good display. I think
they do, but it’s no longer very evident from their web pages. Now they want
your money. I guess they don’t want their institution to go down the toilet
the way the Madison Museum of Bathroom Tissue did (concerning which, gingerly
inspect this TP entry). If you can’t make it to
Calgary (Drumheller, to be precise), they’ll sell you a virtual tour on CD for $18.69 Canadian. (I think a lot of it was
online back in 1995.)

Colors don’t fossilize, exactly, so the colors of dinosaurs are unknown,
technically speaking. Some interesting
have resulted.

Citizen Kane is Orson Welles’s
thinly disguised movie about the newspaperman William Randolph Hearst. A
biography The Chief by historian David Nasaw (Houghton Mifflin Co.,
2000) suggests that Charles Foster Kane was an unfair caricature of Hearst. Be
that as it may, the movie has a more interesting inaccuracy: In a scene
where Kane and his entourage set off for the beach from Xanadu, the background
sky is a montage. It seems to show large birds flying in the distance, but the
montage, borrowed from a science fiction movie to cut costs, actually shows

(Hitachi once showcased its DIS technology with a
dinosaur exhibit.
They’ve dissed the dinosaurs; the exhibit is extinct.)

DIN Plug. (Male connector.)
Digital Input/Output (I/O).
Any nonlinear two-terminal device. Most have an asymmetric
I-V characteristic
(also CVC) used for rectification or threshold
used for voltage regulation. During the electron
era, the term inspired and then became part of a systematic
terminology (triodes, tetrodes, pentodes, etc.).

Semiconductor diodes in commercial application all have at least one
pn junction. Vide

The simplest resonant tunneling diodes are
symmetric in design, but for various reasons also have asymmetric CVC’s.

See “Molecular Rectifier,” by A. S. Martin, J. R. Sambles, and G. J. Ashwell,
Phys. Rev. Lett., vol. 70, #2, pp. 218-221 (11 January 1993).
for more unusual diodes.


Diogenes is a tool
searching and browsing the databases of ancient texts, primarily in
Latin and Greek, that are published by the
Thesaurus Linguae Graecae and the
Packard Humanities Institute. It is free software:
you are encouraged to modify, improve, and redistribute it under the terms of
the GNU General Public license. The goal of this
software package is to provide a free, transparent
and flexible interface to databases in the PHI format.”

The webpage for this software is very slightly coy about the basis for the name
choice. It quotes a work that used to be known as Lives of the Great
by a fellow who used to be known as Diogenes Laërtes (now
still Diogenes, but the Latin Laertius is preferred). The quote is from
book 6, sec. 41, however, which happens to be in the chapter on
Diogenes of Sinope, and it is famous.
The quote is

lúchnon meth’ hêméran hápsas, `ánthropon,’
phêsí, `zêtô.’

Preserving the syntax so far as possible, this is

[with] a lamp lit during the day, “I search,” he said, “for a man.”

This might well be the best-remembered use of an ancient word meaning `search.’
Interestingly, the word hápsas, meaning `lit’ in this context, is
more literally `touched,’ and the Greeks used it in the metaphorical way we do
(or still do), to refer to someone whose sanity has been affected. It would
not have been out of place to describe Diogenes of Sinope as touched. The word
ánthropon here means `man’ in the sense of person, male or
female. (This is like homo in Latin, if that
doesn’t cause too much confusion. The homo of homosexual is the
Greek root meaning `same.’) Any person hearing Diogenes could
reasonably infer that the person sought was not just any person. Perhaps it
would be a low-contrast or camouflaged person, hence the lamp. Whatever.
Other versions of the story have him searching for an honest person, and fwiw this particular line of text has come down to us
in at least slightly corrupt form. (I don’t think any extant manuscript of it
includes the necessary qualifier, however.) As Aristotle remarked somewhere,
he was a familiar figure in Athens.


Diogenes of Sinope
Diogenes, a young man from Sinope in Pontus, went to
Athens (in Europe, not the famous university town
in Ohio or Georgia) and became a student of Antisthenes. One of the stories
about him is that he would go around in the daytime with a lamp, “looking for
an honest man” (vide supra). Maybe
he figured that any honest man would tell him “you’re daft” instead of just
greeting him with an insincere geia sou and running off to snicker with
his pals at the Parthenon (where they probably drank straight out of the
brown-paper-wrapped amphorae, q.v.).

In contrast, Gerard of Liverpool went to
America as a young man and became a postdoc with Craig. He would go around
during the day and ask “are you really all daft?” He felt like David Lister
of Red Dwarf.

Diogenes made a great show of flouting conventional standards of propriety,
hygiene, and other optional things — he even lived in a tub. At that point in
their evolutionary development, dogs apparently also lived in tubs, so people
called Diogenes and the group around him and Antisthenes `dogs’. [Vide

Gerard is also a bachelor (cf. zoology

Actually, because Diogenes had not mastered Modern English, Athenians called
him a `Greek dog,’ or cynic.

Gerard is a Brit.

Think about it some more.

Oh, alright — kunikós is Greek for `dog-like,’ from
kúôn, kunós, `dog,’ cognate with the Latin canis. For further etymological
connections, see the DLR entry.

When Alexander the Great asked Diogenes if there was anything he could do
for him, Diogenes said “just get out of my light, Alex” or words to that
effect. Many ancients were sun-worshippers.

Gerard has already figured out that it’s not a lot easier to get a natural tan
in South Bend than in Liverpool.

One bit of ancient wisdom that we all know today is: It is better to
light a candle than to curse the darkness
. Back in ancient times,
however, they were still working the bugs out of this wisdom, and Diogenes
had to use a beta version, which said “better to light a candle in
the daytime, and curse the man who casts the biggest shadow.” If Diogenes
had only got some better pointers on his interviewing technique, he would not
have had to live in a tub fit for a dog. He could have afforded a deluxe tub.

Gerard also likes to spit into the employment wind.

Alexander Great was not the kind of administrator who thought that the pen was
mightier than the sword. (Of course, the ball-point pen had not yet been invented.)
Alexander Great was the kind of boss who liked to solve knotty problems with a
sword. To this day there is no satisfactory theory of why Diogenes survived
his interview with Alexander. However, while on a cruise some time later,
Diogenes was captured by pirates and sold into slavery.

Nothing even remotely reminiscent of this could happen in the US today,
because the
thirteenth amendment
(ratified 6 Dec. 1865) to the US
forbids slavery. Until recently, we even had a significant
labor movement.

Someone asked Diogenes:

`Hey, Diogenes, tell us, what fate took you down to Hades?’
`A dog’s bite took me.’

This is mentioned in Diogenes Laertius, Anth. Gr. 7. 116, and in
Suda entry Alpha 180
. I cribbed it from Greg Hays’s translation.


Anglophone mnemonic for the gender of Spanish nouns: words whose singular form ends in d,
ión, z, or a are female 98% of the time. Agua is not an exception, but its singular form can
take the male article el for euphonic purposes. A similar mnemonic for
masculine nouns is LONERS.

Much of this can be explained on the basis of Latin
derivation. Even as word forms evolved, the grammatical male-female
distinction was preserved. Thus female -io and -tas Latin nouns evolved into
-ción and -dad nouns in Spanish but remained female. (These correspond
to -tion/-sion and -ty nouns in English. For more on the latter, see the
vanidad entry.) Actually, one might
better say that the female-nonfemale distinction was preserved, since the three
genders of Latin collapsed into two, the neuter usually coalescing with the
male. In a typical case, Latin ovum (n.) became Spanish huevo
(m.). (More on this at LONERS.)

There are some oddities, however, such as mar. The Latin mare
was a neuter third-declension noun with sing. abl. forms mare and
mari. In Spanish, it is used in both genders. Generally, it is
masculine to landlubbers and feminine entre marinos. In addition, some
figurative and technical expressions apparently originating with seamen use
feminine mar.

The different noun forms that Latin used for different grammatical cases were
collapsed into a single form (typically derived from the ablative; see
disco). The large number of Latin
first-declension nouns with singular ablative forms ending in -a yielded a
large number of female nouns in Spanish that end in -a, and this was
regularized into a reliable morphological rule (i.e., new nouns ending
in -a are female). However, in words derived from Greek and Latin, etymology
is normally still the controlling factor. Thus the exotic (fifth-declension
male) noun dies evolved into Spanish día but stayed
male. (For more, see the sp. entry.)

Most male first-declension nouns in Latin are borrowed from Greek. Among
these, probably the largest class is that of words ending in -ista. These were
derived from -istês nouns in Greek. The -ista ending generally carried
over unchanged into Spanish. In French, the ending was regularly transformed
to -iste, and this was a large source of -ist words in Middle English. In all
three of these modern languages, the suffix is productive. As nouns, -ista
words in Spanish have the same form for males and females. (The politically
hypercorrect name for an association of dentists would have to be “La
Asociación de Las y Los Dentistas”
or something equally stupid.)
Likewise, as adjectives the -ista words have common gender. (See SEDERI for an example, where male
estudios is modified by renacistas.)

Most of the other examples I can think of, of male Spanish nouns ending in
-a, are ultimately derived from Greek male nouns ending in -a (typically via
the Latin first declension): drama, panorama, poema, poeta, programa,
(the last is `theme’), etc.

Tequila (in origin the name of a Mexican town) is male; but then,
so too was José Cuervo (`Joe Crow’), creator of the
Jose Cuervo brand. (The brand name does
not have a graphic accent over the
e in José.)

That should be enough exceptions for final-a-female rule to cause confusion.
The only exception I can think of for final d is the metric capacitance unit
farad. It’s at least conceivable to me that no -ción, -gión,
-sión nouns are male. The usual exception of -ion number names
doesn’t occur in Spanish: million is millón,
billion billón, etc.


for the Study of Women and Gender in the Ancient World
. This is a
respected Classics resource, and yet here too it is forgotten that
“gender” is not sex but category, of which sex is only one
kind. I forbear to claim this as evidence of accelerating decadence,
although decadence surely is accelerating, in recollection of the fact that
even Dryden and Byron wrote “the [sic] hoi polloi,” even
though they were both surely aware that hoi is a definite article
(so they were writing something like `the the great-unwashed’).
[Actually, they wrote the latter two words using Greek characters not
forming part of ISO Latin-1.]

In detail: Dryden used it in Essay on Dramatic Poetry, 65 (1668):

If by the people you understand the multitude, the hoi polloi.

Lord Byron is known to have written it around 1821-2; it appeared in
his published Letters (1830), vol. I, 633:

[We] put on masques, and went on stage with the hoi polloi.

Debtor In Possession. A debtor allowed to remain in possession of the
business (the “estate in property”) and continue business operation during
reorganization. Possible under chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Distal InterPhalangeal (joint). The knuckle nearest the end of the finger.
That is, the further (more distal) of the two joints between phalanx.
Cf. PIP.
Dual-In-line Package. Typical cheap chip package, good for making model
centipedes and caterpillars. Often called a DIP
. Cf. skinny DIP.

are some typical specs.

DIPCd, DIpCd, dipCd
DiIsoPropyl Cadmium. An organic precursor used in
growth of II-VI material.
An Italian word meaning `painting.’ I have reason to believe that it has a
specialized sense in paleography or archaeology, but I haven’t found out what
Distorted Independent Particle Model (IPM).
overview page of nucleus models
has a link to
an extended technical description (dvi).

This isn’t actually an abbreviation of any kind. It’s just a note written
by a dip. No? Oh!

According to information recently confided to me, it turns out that the
“Dip” in the head term stands for DIPlomat. Dipnote is a US State Department
A news story in
November 2007
elicited this comment from one of the people who runs the

In addition, as with all other entries on Dipnote, we will post comments
regardless of the point of view. The only exceptions being profanity, hate
speech, personal attacks and foreign language.

Dynamic Isotope Power Source[s].
An uncontrollable craving for alcohol. In the nineteenth century, the term
was also used for the state of extreme-but-still-conscious drunkenness,
considered the equivalent of the legal term frenzy, a temporary form of
insanity. See dipsomaniac.
Someone who suffers from an uncontrollable craving for alcohol (called
dipsomania). The word sounds macaronic, as
if someone had tried to construct a bogus medical term from the suggestive
English verb `to dip.’ However, it has a perfectly legitimate Greek etymology
(dípsa means `thirst’) and has been a part of efforts at
rational and systematic medical diagnosis. However, the term dates from the
nineteenth century, when medicine itself was still in many respects quite

Given the suspect appearance of the word, and the pernicious elasticity of a
weasel term like “uncontrollable craving,” in the twentieth century the word
dipsomaniac came to be used as a winking or contemptious euphemism for
any sot, or habitual drunk. The word dipsomaniac became obsolete in the
second half of the twentieth century. One could say it was replaced by the
word alcoholic, but the situation is slightly trickier.

The word dipsomaniac, despite its medical provenance, carried a certain
moral valence. Its use implied or was associated with the attitude that
individuals are strong or weak, and that dipsomania was a sign of moral
weakness. It might be pitied or contemned, but it was not morally neutral. A
contrast can be made between suffering from dipsomania and being struck down by
a meteorite. The latter is a random misfortune that is not taken to reflect on
the morals of the victim (except by a certain minority among those who take the
phrase “act of God” rather literally).

The use of alcoholic as a noun referring to
an alcohol addict dates back only to the beginning of the twentieth century.
It might be tedious to prove, but this word seems to be associated with
somewhat different attitudes than was dipsomaniac, if only because it
became common later and was an alternative to the existing word. Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in 1935 and probably
had the greatest influence on the sense in which the term was understood.
Although AA certainly has an understanding of alcoholism that is at its center
moral and spiritual (in a carefully general, certainly nondenominational way),
the way the word alcoholic is used has an interesting way of, so to
speak, cleansing the moral stigma. Accepting that one is an alcoholic is seen
as a positive act, and can come as an immense relief, turning shame
upside-down. Moreover, AA does not speak of “curing” alcoholism, but rather
of abstinence from alcohol and
from alcohol-related behaviors. Because the “recovering alcoholic” is an
admirable person, alcoholism is viewed as an affliction overcome by moral
strength and moral support. Thus, interestingly, though AA does not promote a
medical fix to alcohol addiction, it does promote an essentially medical, or
morally neutral, view of the underlying problem.

DIPTe, DIpTe, dipTe
DiIsoPropyl Telluride. An organic precursor used in
MOCVD growth of II-VI
DIRectory. A command in VMS, CP/M, MS-DOS/PC-DOS (chronological order) and various
other langauges, to present (send a copy to standard output; display on
screen, print to teletype, whatever) a list of the files within a
particular directory (or folder, as it is often called
when associated with a GUI.


De Imperatoribus Romanis.
(`Of Roman Emperors.’) An extensive on-line encyclopedia of Roman emperors,
their families, and of the empire generally (or empires; coverage extends to
Direct InfraRed CounterMeasures
(IRCM). A general term. As the name of a US
government agency, expanded “Directional Infrared Countermeasures.”
Everett McKinley Dirksen (1896-1969). Long-time Republican senator
from Illinois; Senate minority leader around the time
LBJ was majority leader.
Stentorian advocate of designating the Marigold as US national
flower. (My theory is that he did this so that when he finally went
soft in the head, the change wouldn’t be as obvious.)
If he is remembered, it may be for his comment on
additivity of the real numbers.
dirt bike

  1. In Britain, in the 1960’s: a specialized bicycle for racing on oval
    cinder tracks. (The tracks were oval, not the cinder.) These bikes
    had knobby tires, cow-horn handlebars and no gears. No gears! This
    was before mountain bikes.
  2. Today, in the UK and elsewhere: a
    motorbike for off-road speed. See, for example,
    and <>.

dirty underwear
There is a legendary fear of being found dead wearing
dirty underwear, and I thought it a mythical
fear as well. Mothers would supposedly tell their children to wear clean
underwear, so they wouldn’t be embarrassed if they died in an accident. I
don’t think I ever heard a first- or second-person account of such a

Recently, however, I was talking with a friend of mine who has just returned to
her apartment near Tokyo for the first time since the 9.0 quake that struck the
Tôhoku (`northeast’) region of Japan on March 11, 2011. Like most
Japanese, she’s used to minor quakes and normally ignores them, but the
aftershocks of the Tohoku earthquake have been unusually strong (ominously so
to seismologists, who offer short odds for the big one to hit central Japan
soon). Anyway, she was taking a bath when a recent aftershock hit; she jumped
out and dressed, as she explained, so she wouldn’t be found naked. I asked her
what mantissa of difference it would make, if she died and also happened to be
found naked. She explained that she might be trapped and wouldn’t want to be
naked when she called out for rescue. Oh wow — that’s totally different! I
hadn’t thought of it. Now I get it!

After writing the two paragraphs above, I had a chat with a couple of
hourly-wage employees in which I essentially repeated the story. It was a
revelation to me. Two or more revelations, quantitatively speaking. Let me
say that for statistical purposes, they (informants M and B below) represent an
unbiased sample. That is, I didn’t choose them based on any evidence or
expectation that they would have a particular kind of information — or any
information — regarding the topic of this entry. I chose them to chat with
because I know them, or thought I knew them, and they were chewing the fat
where I was passing by on my way to the candy machines. Also, I haven’t biased
the data by cherry-picking interviewees: my entire sample size so far, and
preferrably forever, is 2.

Informant M is a female currently in her early-to-mid 50’s. Informant M
informed ME that oh yes, this is a big deal with her mother. M’s father
was a fireman, and M’s mother would not just clean but iron his boxers,
so if he died no one should think he died with dirty or unpressed underwear.
Let’s hope she didn’t starch them. Upon prompting, M confirmed that the
motivating fear was her father’s possible at-work death, and not some nonfatal
accident. M’s mother is reportedly fastidious in other ways. Mismatched socks
provoke horror.

Informant B, recently returned from extended medical leave, is a male also
currently in his early-to-mid-50’s, though he happens to look about 70. (If
you lived on coffee and cigarettes, you could probably look older too. In
fact, I understand that some adolescents take up smoking precisely so as to
appear older. Also, if you look older it’s easier to buy cigarettes, so
there’s some sort of positive feedback effect in there. I’ll have to calculate
it one day.) Anyway, B’s mother must had a philosophy similar to M’s, and he
remarked that a few weeks ago, when he checked himself into the hospital, he
“felt bad because ….” (The unstated implication was that he wore dirty
underwear to the hospital, and not that he felt bad on account of whatever it
was that sent him to the hospital. It takes the old saw “when you gotta go,
you gotta go” to the next level… down.)

A city within Hell, described by Dante in his Inferno.

Diagnostic Interview Schedule.
Digital Image System.
dis, diss
Ghetto slang for `express disrespect.’ The s is unvoiced, as in
Distributed Interactive Simulation. Cf. ADS.
Draft International Standard.
Data Interchange Standards Association,
Defense Information Systems Agency.
Domestic International Sales Corporation[s].
A flat circular object. Phonograph records, CD‘s, hockey pucks, and manhole covers are examples.
See fisk for the etymology. Cf.
disk, with a k.
DIScovery Channel (Canadian cable).
Programming differs from DISCU. See AWOTV for ancient-world component of programming.
La Diversité des Systèmes Cognitifs. French,
`Diversity of Cognitive Systems.’ Groupe de recherche DISCO (also
l’èquipe de recherche DISCO) is a research group at UQÀM.
back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack,
back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack,
back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack,
back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack,
back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack,
back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack,
back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack,
back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack,
back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack,
back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack,
back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack,
back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack,
back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack,
back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack,
back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack, back-ack-ack-ack.
Back! Back! Back! Back! Back! It’s

Wallpaper of Sound. (No, not
Wall of Sound.)


Spanish for `disc,’ from the ablative
singular form of Latin discus, from the Greek

In principle, and in many particular cases, Spanish
nouns could be regarded as being derived from other
(usually oblique) cases in Latin. This is particularly the case for
second-declension nouns, which have identical dative and ablative forms. As a
general rule, however, the best way to guess the eventual Spanish form of a
Latin noun is to cast it into the ablative and then apply common (not always
regular) sound shifts like u –> o.

It makes sense that the ablative forms should have been salient. The
instrumental case found in some other highly inflected Indo-European languages
is essentially collapsed into the Latin ablative, as are plural forms of the
locative. Not only is the ablative very common, but its frequency was
reinforced by the gradual replacement of the genitive case by
de + abl. Now you’re probably going to suggest that really,
the accusative should have been more salient, since ordinary direct objects are
more common than objects of prepositions and all those weird
ablative-of-whatever forms. Okay, time for a dirty little secret: over time,
final em’s in Latin went silent… if you lop the final em off the singular
accusative forms (and change u –> o), they mostly coincide with
the ablative.

A related fact:
The common-gender forms of Latin third declension have ablative singulars that
end consistently in -e, and Spanish adjectives that
end in -e have the same form when modifying male and female nouns.

I can see that you find this stuff fascinating. Read more at the D-ION-Z-A entry supra.

Discomfit (informal). This word antedates the one defined in the long disco entry.
discretionary coughing
I just felt like putting the idea out there, you know? Maybe later I’ll
define it. The definition will probably mention violin solos. Hmmm… it
seems I already mention them at the flu entry.
DIScovery Channel (US cable). Programming
differs from DISCC. Abbreviation used at AWOTV, which see for ancient-world component of
Alright: listen up, you doofus! “Disinterested” does not mean the same
thing as “uninterested.” A person who is uninterested in some matter is one
who is uncurious about the matter. The person is not interested. In contrast,
a person who is disinterested in some matter is someone who has no stake in the
outcome or resolution of the matter.

The word uninterested implies little about the matter in question other
than that it is something about which there is something to know, and about
which someone might possibly be curious. The word disinterested implies
that the matter in question is one requiring judgment. The ideal judge
(i.e., juror, judge, arbitrator, etc.) is interested, and thus
attentive, yet disinterested, and thus fair.

Do you think maybe you’re beginning to get the hang of this thing, after all
your years of abject ignorance? The difference has to do with two different
senses of the word interest. Someone said to have “an interest” may
have a neutral observer’s desire for information, or may possibly benefit or
suffer depending on how certain a question is decided. (The latter kind of
interest is the only kind that is “vested.”) One can distinguish these two
kinds of interest by using narrower terms like curiosity and

(There are other kinds of interest, of course. There is interest you earn on a
deposit, and there is interest that one has in activities. If you say you are
interested in travel, you don’t usually mean that you are interested in hearing
about other people’s travel, so much as you are interested in traveling
yourself. The situation here is that “interested in traveling” really means
“wants or likes to travel” or “interested in learning about opportunities to
travel.” This is sometimes sloppy, but one might not want to be precise.)

The confusion between disinterested and uninterested goes bak a
little ways. G.S. Fraser wrote this in his The Modern Writer and His

Disinterested curiosity — to be disinterested is not to be uninterested — is
one of the noblest qualities of the human mind.

This was on page 12 of the third edition (Penguin, 1964). I don’t know if it
was in the earlier English edition (1953). In principle, the text may even be
left over from the 1950 edition aimed at a Japanese audience. Whatever the
case, the proleptic parenthetical is the earliest evidence I’ve happened across
indicating that confusion between the two terms was a problem.

disinterested enthusiasm
This describes the intellectual approach of the Stammtisch Beau
Fleuve. For an expanded description, click here.
dish cover
For your microwave receiving antenna. Microwaves penetrate plastic. For
the etymology of dish, see fisk.
When two different material surfaces are exposed for chemical mechanical
polishing (CMP for planarization), the softer
material ends up more deeply polished. Gouged, more like. Large areas of the
softer material (Cu next to SiO2, say) may be eroded away everywhere
except at the edges, leaving a kind of dish or depression. If the copper is a
contact, a simple solution is to define it with some electrically superfluous
blocks of oxide in the metal, so that much of the copper is near an “edge.”
A word invented by IBM to describe magnetic
disc memories. IBM also dreamed up
deque,” which fortunately did not catch on.

Kenneth Thompson is credited with discovering the first law of memory

The steady state of disks is full.

See also RAM disk.

NASA slang for DSKY.

dismal science, the
Half right. Tired witticism describing economics.

How tired? Thomas Carlyle introduced it as an epithet for political
in an 1849 essay, “Latter-Day Pamphlets, No.1. The Present

Economics is ultimately derived from the Greek word
oikonómos, `manager of a household, steward,’ composed from
oîkos, `house,’ and -nómos, nominal combining form
of némein here meaning `to manage, control.’ The words derived
from oikonómos have taken a variety of meanings over time,
including theological ones. Some of the meanings depended implicitly on a
metaphorical understanding of `household’ as a larger entity.
L’économie politique came to refer to aspects of governance, and
in the second half of the eighteenth century it and the English term modeled on
it, political economy, came to have the specialized sense of “the
science [in a loose sense] of the wealth of nations.” (“The Wealth of
Nations,” of course, was published by Adam Smith in 1776.) The word
economics alone did not come into its current sense until late in the
nineteenth century. For a detailed discourse on the evolution of this word,
see the first chapter of Moses Finley’s The Ancient Economy (Sather
Classical Lectures, Vol. 43). He comments there that nem- is a
“semantically complex root.”

Rare synonym of
disposable income
Not on your life! I plan to spend that money!
A reaction in which an atom within one compound is both reduced and
oxidized, occurring in two different compounds of the product. A simple
example is the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide in aqueous solution:

2H O (aq) —> 2H O(l) + O (g)
2 2 2 2

The oxygen in peroxides has an oxidation number
of -1; in water and oxygen gas, it has oxidation numbers -2 and 0,
respectively. (Hydrogen peroxide solutions sold as antiseptics typically
contain a stabilizer such as acetanilide

The charging of a lead-acid battery
involves the disproportionation of the lead ion in lead (II) sulfate
(PbSO4). A general example of disproportionation reaction is the
Cannizzaro reaction.

The reverse of disproportionation is called comproportionation or
symproportionation. Discharge (i.e., ordinary use) of a lead-acid
battery involves running a comproportionation reaction. All of the good
-tionation words are used in chemistry. (The other one is fractionation.)

ABD slang for `dissertation.’ Use probably
influenced by disrespect.
Distance. Computed for you by
, the new home of the distance service.
Medicalese: `at a distance, on the far side.’
German: `distal[ly].’
Distel, die
German: `thistle, the.’
Well-known in the field or subfield, but unknown outside.
Old but healthy. Spry but sedate.
A tree of the Philippines, now also found in the
Scrabble forest. Don’t say “that’s not
my problem, I don’t play that silly game,” because crossword puzzles and
computer word games are often based on a Scrabble word list. You can’t escape.
Device-Independent TROFF. See the
troff entry for an overview summary of various
roff programs.
Long duration. Usually meaning approximately but not exactly eternal.
Sometimes loosely used as equivalent to eternal. Got that? Good. The
word is obsolete.
Digital Interactive
Virtual Acoustics
. When I went to see Aïda at the Porta Caracola
in Rome, I sat in the really-cheap seats, and some guy in the equally
cheap seats a dozen rows ahead of me acted out his fantasies of directing
the orchestra. Mister, you know who you are. Go get some software like
this and let the rest of us enjoy the opera.
Italian: `goddess.’ Prima donna, but not necessarily pejorative.
“dive immediately, fellow lodge members!”
I don’t know about you, but for me this ranks right up there with “by the
time the boy was a toddler, it was `physically obvious’ that Schwarzenegger was
his dad.”

(The phrase quoted as the head of this entry is sourced at the books that could have benefitted from

Politically homogeneous (and likewise
Bear this in mind:

Abandonment charges based on unwillingness to engage in sex are not always
sustained, because adultery by one partner frees the other from any,
em, obligations. It’s the `condonation’ defense.

Usual abbreviation for DIVisionS (pl. of
Old-fashioned abbreviation for DIVisions (pl. of
div.). I’ve seen it in a book published as recently
as 1920.
De-Ionized WATER.
Device-Independent X-windows. As opposed to
Device-Dependent X (DDX), of course. Note that
while the expression “machine-independent code” referrs to a coding
style or discipline, DIX refers to a part of X.
A French ordinal
adjective meaning `eighteenth,’ used as a learned
borrowing to mean pertaining in some way to the eighteenth century (especially:
in the style of the eighteenth century). I’ve also sometimes seen it used
(nonattributively) as a noun (i.e., the
eighteenth century).
Orthographic advisory: The grave accent is in the original
French, and the word does not appear to have been
sufficiently naturalized in English for the accent to disappear. However, the
word is sufficiently rare that if you omit the accent in email, you will not be
thought linguistically unsophisticated.
One who studies the eighteenth century
(dix-huitième, supra).
Cf. dieciochista.
Dixie fowl

  • “Dixie Chicken” was a hit for Little Feat, a band that used to be
    pretty popular in the area around Silver Springs, Maryland (near
    Washington, DC). [Those old guys were
    still touring in 2002; I know because I saw a promo posted at Nick’s
    Patio.] The song figures in our ragtop
  • The Dixie Chicks is a country band composed of three sisters from
    Texas. Around the beginning of the Iraq war
    of 2003, at a performance in England, lead singer Natalie Maines
    pleased the crowd by announcing that she was ashamed that the US
    president was from Texas. This didn’t go over so well back home.
    (Additional information product, free, gratis, and at no
    added charge to you: the other two Dixie Chicks are actually sisters of
    each other.)
  • Tyson Foods has chicken-processing factories in Arkansas.
  • Chicken-fried steak is a southern specialty. It’s beef steak
    prepared like fried chicken, in the usual fried-chicken batter. It
    looks and tastes surprisingly like fried chicken, but it’s tougher.

Do It Yourself. Zines and e-zines are sometimes described as DIY
publishing. The free-standing acronym is used internally by retailers and
wholesalers to refer to home-improvement merchandise. You’d think DIY could
be a productive acronym prefix, just like BYO, but
it doesn’t seem to be much (except for DIYer).

Religious opposition to abortion is represented (by the “pro-choice” side) by
a coat-hanger and the slogan “Do It Thyself.”

Dive Into Your
. An instrumental. Catchy tune. Hard-to-forget lyrics. Safety tip:
listen to something else before entering shower. Excellent mood music for
a cruise past shopping malls.
Dog Inside Your Body.

Artist: Butthole

Alternate version:
lyrics over attractive orange background here
Anonymous lyricist: of course.

In case of fire, click here.

(DNA sequence comparison using WU-) Blast
Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t. La condition humaine.
Do-It-Yourself-ER. Someone who prefers to have
a unique, custom-engineered article of pride for a really quite economical
investment in quality raw materials, professional equipment, failed
experiments, medical expenses, and lost income during convalescence, rather
than waste money buying some one-size-fits-all COTS vanilla product like all those proles. Oh!
Where is the spirit of craftsmanship gone? Where are resourceful inventiveness
and inventive resourcefulness? (Answer: hacking.)

It’s not the destination; it’s the trip.

Do It YourSelf. Rare variant of DIY.
Datapanik In the Year Zero. A CD box set of Pere Ubu (and Ubu-related) recordings from
the period 1975-1982. Pere
is self-described as a
legendary avant-rock band. Okay, whatever.

You know, when I googled “DIYZ,” I was asked if perhaps I didn’t mean
“DAYS.” This is almost as insulting as that condescending paper clip
“help” in MSWord.

The popular nickname of Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), first earl of

Disraeli had a gift for spontaneous expression that has resulted in many fine
mots being uncertainly attributed to him, either because he uttered them
off the cuff, so to speak, rather than into a book, or else because his
reputation made him a likely candidate when anyone was casting about for a
likely or plausible source of a quote whose real author was unknown or

One such is the quote about lies, damn lies, and statistics. More about that
one later.

Another such quote is, “When I want to read a novel, I write one.” Many
close variants are attributed to him. The earliest instance of this that I can
find is in a volume of his biography that was first published in 1920.
Following is the entire paragraph of context (boldface emphasis added).

His mental processes were as unusual as his physical appearance was
peculiar. He did not form his opinions by amassing facts, but by some
intuitive process of imagination. And so dramatic was the quality of his mind
that he seems never to have been conscious of an opinion or conviction without
being simultaneously conscious of the effect which its expression would
produce. Hence the epigrammatic character of his talk and writing; to which a
cynical flavour was added owing to the mask which he seldom put off in public.
Lothair and Endymion recapture and repeat his table-talk, which
was uttered with deliberate and impressive sententiousness. The stories told
of it were endless. People heard of the royal lady who, indignant at the
hesitation shown by Ministers on the Eastern Question, asked him at dinner what
he was waiting for, and was told, `For peas and potatoes, ma’am;’ of the
charming neighbour whose insidious attempts to wheedle political secrets out of
him were met by a pressure of the hand and a whispered `You darling;’ of the
public dinner at which the food was poor and cold, and at which Disraeli, when
he tried the champagne, remarked with fervour, `Thank God, I have at last got
something warm;’ of his grandiloquent excuse for inability to recommend a novel
to a neighbour, `When I want to read a novel, I write one;’ of his
judgment on a leading politician, nearly as well known in Mayfair as in
Parliament, `He has a fine presence, ancient descent, a ready wit, and no
principles; he must succeed.’ But silence and self-absorption grew upon
Beaconsfield in society along with age and disease; so that [Sir William]
Fraser [author of Disraeli and his Day] could jestingly maintain that he
was, in reality, a corpse which only at intervals came to life.

I don’t know much about the authors, but perhaps the following may be helpful.
This paragraph is from the concluding chapter (17) of the final volume (6), of
The Life of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, published at London
by John Murray between 1910 (vol. 1) and 1920 (vol. 6). The entire biography
is typically listed as being by Monypenny and Buckle. To be precise, however,
William Flavelle Monypenny was the sole credited author of volume 1 (covering
the years 1804-1837) and volume 2 (1837-1846). The second volume was published
in 1912, the year Monypenny died (rather young; he was born in 1866). The
third volume (1846-1855), published in 1914, listed as coauthors Monypenny and
George Earle Buckle (1854-1935), and the last three volumes gave the authorship
as “George Earle Buckle in succession to W.F. Monypenny.” (A two-volume
condensation “by Monypenny and Buckle” was published in 1929.)

I have also seen a
that “[w]hen I want to read a book I write one” was attributed to
Disraeli in a review of his novel Lothair (1870) in Blackwood’s
Magazine. Blackwood’s
had a rather nasty review of the novel in June
1870, pp. 773-793. (I’m not saying that it was or wasn’t fair.
Considering its length, to say nothing of the three-volume Lothair, I
plan to putting off to the indefinite future having any such opinion on the
subject.) The magazine published a “Note to our review of `Lothair’ ”
in July (pp. 129-132), defending itself against criticism of its review. The
alleged quote does not occur in this latter note, and probably does not occur
in the review itself. For laughs, though, and for an indication of how someone
might suppose, or misremember, that a quote of this sort was attributed to
Disraeli in the review, here are the opening lines of the Lothair pan:

This is the most elaborate jest which the sportive author has ever
played off upon an amiable and confiding public. Addressing the novel-reading
portion of that public in his own mind, he has evidently said: “You have been
this long while prating of purity of style, truth to nature, probability, and
adherence to the rules of art. You have been condemning sensational novels,
and false effects, and didactic prosings, and slipshod composition. Well, I
will write something which shall be more extravagant than the romances of the
`London Journal,’ more inflated in expression and false in grammar than the
exercises of an aspiring schoolboy of the fifth form, more foreign to life and
reality than the hysteric fancies of a convent-bred girl, and, in point of
art, on a level with the drop-scene of a provincial theatre. …”

Disc Jockey.

Possibly patterned on this is the, um, jocular usage “desk jockey.” As it
happens, desk and disc are cognates, borrowed from Latin indirectly and then directly. For details see
the fisk entry.

D. J.
District Judge.


D. J.
Doctor Juris. Latin, `Doctor of Law.’
Dow Jones.
Dust Jacket. A garment for a book. The first papier couture. Important
determinant in resale value of hardcover. Intended just to protect the cover,
dust jackets were originally just plain paper. Lewis Carroll (Charles
Dodgson) suggested to the publisher of his Hunting of the Snark, that
the title be printed on the book’s dust jacket, and the rest is history which
I don’t know. It’s also called a book jacket, but it is not abbreviated BJ
nearly as often as DJ. Why is this? Your guess is as good as mine (unless it
isn’t obvious to you).

When B.J. Friedman’s first novel was published, he “was invited to come say
hello to the staff at Simon & Schuster” (his publisher). After being
greeted by an old and befuddled Mr. Simon, he was surrounded by a group of
young editors who had nice things to say about his jacket.

“Thank you,” [said Bruce Jay Friedman]. “My mother bought it for me at
Saks. She was heartbroken that I hadn’t become a theatrical press agent.
She’d been told that they all have big homes in Rockaway. But she wanted me to
be properly dressed all the same.”

[The article from which this text is lifted, and a copy of the cover, can be
found here.]

These events occurred in the early 1960’s, when it was still common for adult
men to have their clothes bought for them by women. I think that’s much less
common today. Today, on the other hand, authors (including adult male authors,
okay?) don’t normally design or even have much say in choosing their book
jackets. Sometimes the cover will depict characters from the book, and the
depictions will be impossibly different from the descriptions in the book.
I’ve also seen “marital arts” used evidently unironically (i.e., as an
error for “martial arts”). The artsy types who do covers are often somewhat
weak at spelling.

It’s also become quite standard for book jackets and even the hard covers of
books to bear the words “a novel.” This is especially helpful at library
book sales, where book sorting can be rather haphazard. (Most of the larger
library book sales I’ve been to have not been mostly library-book sales, but
sales mostly of donated books.)

Delete to the end of present line, and remove carriage return so line
continues with text of current next line. Vi usage.
(Domain name code for) Djibouti. A little city-state on the
north end (Red Sea) of the border between Ethiopia (or Eritrea now?) and
Degenerative Joint Disease. Duh-juh-juh-duh. Sounds grating.
One transliteration of an Arabic word for `mountain.’ It’s also
transliterated djibel, jebel, gebel, and jabal.
(With uncharacteristic restraint, the OSPD4
accepts only djebel and jebel. TWL98
and SOWPODS follow suit.)

The fault (if multiple spellings are a fault) is not just in the imprecision of
English spelling. It also happens that different Arabic dialects do different
things with the initial consonant.

December, January, February. The three months of “meteorological
Winter.” I saw DJF in various papers on weather and climate before I
encountered the term “meteorological Winter,” but then I didn’t study the
thing systematically.

The AHD4 has this as its first definition
for the word
: “The usually coldest season of the year, occurring
between autumn and spring, extending in the Northern Hemisphere from the winter
solstice to the vernal equinox, and popularly considered to be constituted by
December, January, and February.”

That definition manages to confuse three things:
“meteorological Winter” (DJF), “astronomical Winter” (an
underhanded retronym for the
solstice-to-equinox period, used by the kind of people who would use the term
“meteorological Winter”), and the coldest period, or coldest three
months, of the year. Some future iteration of this entry will sort all that
out. For now I just want to publish the glossary page. Cf. MAM,

Digital Journal of Ophthalmology.
“The DJO is a peer-reviewed ophthalmic journal dedicated to the dissemination
of ophthalmic information over the World Wide Web to offer rapid publication,
convenience and accessibility, full color photos and full motion videos to
practicing ophthalmologists.”
(Domain name code for)
. I asked Per if there
were any words in Danish that he felt the need for in English. He couldn’t
think of any. Therefore, everyone should speak English. That way, we can
avoid the problem of Copenhagen.
The pronunciation of this word completely in Danish exposes non-Danes to
serious oral and dental risks. My own health care plan doesn’t even cover
this. People are starting to move into the suburbs to avoid the problem.

It’s even worse with words that contain the letter dee, which is pronounced
by having your epiglottis do the unvoiced watusi.

The situation of Danish with respect to Norwegian and
ish is similar to that of Portuguese with respect to Spanish
(Castillian). Educated readers of any Iberian Romance language can understand
most of a text in any other Iberian Romance language, just as the Scandinavian
languages are mutually understandable in writing. Portuguese speakers can
understand Spanish fairly easily, but their language has a rich phonology that
subverts a Spanish speaker’s efforts to recognize cognates. Danes similarly
can understand Norwegians and Swedes, while the latter generally need a couple
of months’ study to understand Danish. (Overall, I should say that the Iberian
Romance languages are not as similar to each other as the North Germanic
languages of Scandinavia are to each other.)

Niels Bohr, a national scientific hero in Denmark, was known for delivering
scientific addresses in his own approximation of the local language. It was
said that he didn’t speak any foreign languages, just different dialects of
Bohrish. He and his son Aage wrote a major text on nuclear physics (in
English). Now there is a third Bohr generation of physicist at work.

Some of the sayings famously attributed to Niels Henrik David Bohr
(Nicholas Baker), he himself attributed to his own
father. One of these was the maxim that there are two sorts of truths —
ordinary truths, whose opposites are false, and profound ones whose
opposites may also be profound truths.

Note that the opposite of a profound truth is explicitly excluded from being an
ordinary truth. Without this exclusion, some profound truths would also be
ordinary falsehoods. If Aristotle had known about this, he probably would have
called it the axiom of half of the excluded middle.

One of Niels Bohr’s favorite sayings was “Never express yourself more clearly
than you can think.” Most people would have difficulty manifesting that
problem; Bohr specialized in implementing the solution. It’s no wonder he was
a hero in Denmark.

Ariadne, “The European and
Mediterranean link resource for Research, Science and Culture,” has a
page of national links
for Denmark. The territory of Denmark is basically
the Jutland peninsula, and — oh yeah, Greenland.

Here’s the Danish
of an X.500 directory.

The noun Danish refers to any sweet pastry,
preferably with white icing and cinnamon, and two to go, thanks. Cf. Evita entry.

(BTW, you know that famous mermaid statue? I
think a bunch of years ago she was temporarily decapitated by vandals.)

In Spring 2002, the European Commission conducted the “Eurobarometer 57”
survey, sampling at least 1,000 in each of its member countries (except in
Luxembourg, where, probably to avoid sampling some people twice, only 600
people were surveyed). The main finding of Eurobaromometer 57 was that
Europeans are a bunch of sourpusses. A key existential question was on
“overall life satisfaction” (which I will abbreviate OLS here):

On the whole, are you very satisfied, fairly satisfied, not very satisfied, or
not at all satisfied with the life you lead? Would you say you are very
satisfied, fairly satisfied, not very satisfied, or not at all satisfied?

The EU15 average percentage answering “very
satisfied” was 21%. (Amazingly, it seems they actually went to the trouble of
weighting it properly — by population instead of raw sample.) Harris
conducted a parallel US study, a telephone survey of 1010 adults, called between
April 10 and April 15, 2003. The results were generally more positive on all
questions, with 57% answering “very satisfied” to the OLS question. Of
course, the European average hid a broad range of national variation. Exactly
one of the EU15 countries scored higher than the US on OLS: Denmark, at 64%.
(The next highest was Netherlands, 45%.)

Another Eurobarometer poll, conducted by phone between October 8 and 16, 2003,
asked questions mostly regarding Iraq (500 sampled per country, results
weighted by population). An EU15 average of 44% favored sending peacekeeping
troops to Iraq. In Denmark the figure was 77%. (This probably exceeds the
percentage of Americans who favored having US troops in Iraq by then.) A
majority of Danes believed that the US-led invasion of Iraq was justified; in
the other 14 members a majority believed it was unjustified (EU15 average 68%).

Diels Kranz. In 1903, Hermann Diels published a monumental collection of
the fragments (mostly bits of material quoted later in antiquity) of the
pre-Socratic philosophers (Fragmente der Vorsokratiker). It went
through a great many editions, with revisions or additions in 1906 (2/e) and
1912 (3/e). The fourth edition in 1922 was a reprint, but the edition of
1934-37 involved substantial revision by Walther Kranz. As I understand it,
the sixth through ninth editions (1951 or 1952 to 1960) are reprints.
Dining Kitchen. Wasei eigo
abbreviation for dining room with a kitchen. Cf. OL.
Donna Karan. A dress designer.
Don’t Know. Code or abbreviation for a class of survey reply. It seems a
shame that this isn’t used as some sort of logo or slogan or something — a
succinct assertion of agnosticism of one variety or another.
Cf. DK/NA.
Danish (.dk) Crown (Kroner).

Dull Knife Memorial College, located in Lame Deer, Montana. I suppose it’s
just my cultural reference frame, but these names sound a down beat to me. I’m
all for the September 2001 change of name to Chief Dull
Knife College
(any substantive information we gather about the college will
be at that linked entry).

The practice of constructing given names from pairs of common
nouns, or from a noun modified by an adjective, is
apparent in Native American names, but seems to be a world-wide reflex. It was
once the standard practice for constructing
Indo-European names, but the words that formed the
names evolved while the names tended to become fixed or to evolve
independently, so people no longer recognize that Sigmund, say, means
`defender of victory,’ or Robert `bright fame.’ As the examples
suggest, however, the common names (at least those of whose etymologies I am
aware) tend to be more positive. The Romans deviated from the usual practice
of I-E peoples and even, in the cognomen innovation, from other Italic peoples.
Their naming practices are discussed at the
tria nomina entry.

I asked an Indian woman I know about this, and she mentioned someone she knows
whose Indian name is “Killing Water” (this turns out to be a not-too-unusual
name). I remarked that it is a somewhat ambiguous name, and she replied that
he is a somewhat ambiguous person. So there you are.

Don’t Know / No Answer. Code or abbreviation for a class of survey reply.
It might be a laconic summary of the situation described at the
FPO entry.
Cf. DK.
Don’t Know / Not Sure. Code or abbreviation for a class of survey reply.
Donna Karan New York. Underwear and
other soft goods. Oh yes, and now they will feature books as well. “Books
that elicit an emotional response.” (Not an exact quote, but close enough.)
It looks like Oprah will have company wherever she’s going in the next life.
DKO, dKO, d-ko
Double Knock-Out. I’m not aware that there’s much use for this initialism
in boxing. Once you’re knocked out, that’s it, it’s over. But in biology
it’s useful. It means that two genes are knocked out, and the
DKO typically refers to an animal in which the two
genes have been knocked out.
International Conference on Data and Knowledge Systems for Manufacturing
and Engineering.
Dampfkraftwagen. German for `steam-power vehicle.’
A company founded in 1915 by the Dane Skafte Rasmussen in Zschopau (in the
German state of Saxony), in 1916 it rolled out its first steam car. Steam cars
didn’t catch on in a big way in Germany any more than they did anywhere else.
In 1922, DKW brought out its first light motorcycle (125 cc), called
Das kleine Wunder” [`the small wonder’]. I assume the company meant
for people to identify that as the or an expansion of DKW at some point. I
don’t know how completely the old expansion was buried, immediately, but see
below. DKW became a part of Auto Union (based in Zwickau) in 1933 and went out
of business altogether in 1956. More at the Audi

I asked my mom, who fled Germany in 1938 (as a child, 71
years ago), if she recalled a motorcycle called das kleine Wunder. She
didn’t, but when I mentioned DKW — ohh, that was a major company! Cars and
mostly heavy vehicles like trucks. She thought it stood for “deutsche
” or perhaps just naturally assumed it. I’ll try to investigate
this further, if it doesn’t require any work.

David Letterman. A professional comedian with his own show weeknights
on CBS, which makes his top-ten research available
on a need-to-know basis

Here are my favorite top-tens from before 1996:

[Football icon]

Defensive Lineman. A position in American football.

Processes occurring at a surface, and utilizing a reactant or adsorbate
brought to the surface by a fluid (as in oxidation of a Si surface and in
vapor- and liquid-deposition) tend to operate in one of two asymptotic
regimes: diffusion-limited and reaction-limited. If the deposition process at
the growth surface is rapid, then the fluid phase adjacent to the growing
surface becomes depleted of (at least one) reactant, and the growth rate
is controlled by the rate at which the reactant is replenished by diffusion
to the surface. This is DL growth. If the fluid is well stirred or if the
deposition stage is slow, then depletion of reactants from the fluid near
the surface is not important, and growth is reaction-limited.

Digital Librar{ y | ies }. The plural form is the name of a conference.
See D-lib.
Disabled List. In major league baseball,
there are two disabled lists: fifteen-day and sixty-day:

  • Players on the 15-day DL are taken off the active list but remain
    on the team roster (the 40-man roster).
  • Players on the 60-day DL (a/k/a injured
    reserve) are not only deactivated but also taken off the 40-man
    roster, making room for a temporary replacement.

In all cases, the determination that a player is injured must be made by a
physician. Players on the n-day DL (either value of n) cannot return to the
active list for n days. However, it is possible to put a player on the
disabled list retroactively, so the inactive period begins after the last time
he played, even though he was then on the active list.
Distance Learning. Correspondence courses of various sorts, nowadays
usually using something faster than snailmail. Contrasted with F2F (face-to-face) learning.
See next entry.

The Department of Classics
at the University of Florida offers DL
courses. One of their webpages explains (or doesn’t explain) the following:
“The university requires proof of immunization of all students. Yes, even
distance students. Don’t ask why, just fill the form out asap or suffer

Distributed Learning. Courses taught over video, live or not. Also other
forms of Distance Learning (also DL).
Distribution List.
dl, D/L
DownLoad. Perform an electronic file or data transfer from a general
distribution source to a user-controlled site, as for example from a server
to a client. German has the calque
Defense Logistics Agency.
Dental Laboratories Association.
According to this page it’s
“a professional body for dental laboratory owners in the UK. Currently
[text copied January 2005] the Association has around 1000 members, over 50 of
whom are affiliates. It is estimated that members of the DLA are responsible
for over 80% of the dental laboratory services in the UK.”
Diffusion-Limited Aggregation. In three dimensions, this produces cluster
masses that scale approximately as the 1.75 power of the cluster radius.
Dictionary of Literary Biography.
Device-Level Burn-In.
Data Link Control.
Democratic Leadership Council. An
association of Democratic party moderates formed in 1985. Its leading elected
officials at the beginning were Democratic senators Samm Nunn (Ga.), Lawton
Chiles (Fl.), and Charles Robb (Va.), and Rep. Dick Gephardt (Mo.), with
experienced staffers Al From and Will Marshall. The DLC was created in the
wake of Walter Mondale’s campaign for the presidency in
1984 (Mondale had been stomped by incumbent Pres.
Ronald Reagan). The idea of the DLC was to pull the Democratic party rightward
toward the center. (Cf. CDM, created
following the 1972 defeat, and Third Way, following the 2004 defeat). The DLC
promoted the idea of an early Super-Tuesday primary to enhance the clout of
conservative Southern states within the presidential nomination process.

Gephardt, the first leader of the DLC, joined in the middle of his own drift to
the left. He had been pro-life as late as 1984, but by the time he began his
first presidential campaign in 1987, he was pro-choice. Perhaps that is
necessary for anyone who wants to win the Democratic primaries. But he ran on
a protectionist platform in the 1988 primaries and stopped being identified
with that “new Democrat” faction of the party. Four years later, however,
the DLC had a candidate of superb political skills. With a little help from
third-party odd-ball H. Ross Perot, Clinton won in 1992. Some missteps to the
left were punished by a Republican takeover of the House in the midterm
elections of 1994, and after that Clinton stayed “new Democrat.” During the
second Clinton administration, I wrote the following completely ingenuous

Of course, now every Democrat (incumbent), pretty much, is a “new
[i.e. centrist] Democrat.”

Yeah, that ignored the Congressional Black Caucus and some Californians and
such, but it wasn’t far off the image.

In the 106th Congress (the one that began in 1999) Gephardt was the senior
House Democrat. Approaching the Y2K elections, he was
one of the two obvious and leading contenders for the Democratic Presidential
nomination (Vice President Al Gore, the eventual nominee, was the other). As
the ranking House member of his party, he was the likely House Speaker if the
Democrats took back the House in those elections. He apparently preferred
those odds (a priori) and stayed out of the presidential race. At least
he kept his job.

So Gore was the Democratic presidential candidate in the 2000 campaign. It’s
hard to criticize him as having been out of touch with the country’s mood,
given that he did in fact win a majority of the popular vote. But his campaign
nevertheless represented something of a repudiation of what many had regarded
as Clinton’s policy legacy. Gore campaigned as a more leftist populist, moving
the image of the Democratic party leftward.

To some extent, his campaign represented a reaction to problems imposed on him.
During the primary season, Gore had faced opposition on his left from former
New Jersey senator Bill Bradley, and perhaps he moved left in reaction to that
challenge. But no one is surprised, and few remember, if a candidate
refashions his positions after the primaries to make them attractive to a
broader range of voters.
Still, a campaign needs a message (preferably one per news cycle).

Clinton had involved Gore in actual government more than most presidents have
involved their VP‘s, and Gore might have run on
Clinton’s record, wringing prosperity for all its considerable political value.
But Clinton inspired widespread loathing, in large measure due to the sordid
affair of the sexual exploitation of White House intern Monica Lewinsky. So
promising more of Clinton-Gore was a problematical campaign approach; Gore
chose as his running mate Connecticut’s Senator Joe Lieberman, whose most
prominent qualification was his early and forceful denunciation of Clinton’s
affair. (That is, Lieberman had been the first prominent officeholder in
Clinton’s own party to rebuke Clinton for acting like
JFK and LBJ, in the pants
department, although he expressed this somewhat differently.)
At the Democratic convention, Gore staged a spontaneous
I-really-really-love-my-wife-unlike-some-people-we-know event.

In 2000, Gore chose Senator Lieberman as his running mate in significant part
to distance himself from Clinton. Granted this distance was not along a
policy axis, yet it is ironic that by the time of the next presidential
campaign, Lieberman was really the most faithful remaining representative of
the centrist legacy of Bill Clinton, such as it was. Lieberman remained
centrist even as 9/11 and the Iraq invasion
(strongly supported by the DLC) polarized the country. In fall 2003, he was
the only Democrat in the race for the presidential nomination who was willing
to defend the invasion of Iraq (with reservations, of course). Gore, in the
meantime, confirmed his shift and ended up endorsing Dean just before Dean’s
campaign peaked and floundered. Lieberman pulled out of the Iowa caucuses and
never really contended. (Iowa Democrats are somewhat more leftist than those
in the next few states selecting convention delegates, and caucuses reflect the
more activist segment of a party, which in both Democratic and Republican cases
leans further from center than the bulk of the party.) Lieberman’s campaign
never got traction and he dropped out. For more and later on Lieberman, see

There’s a precedent of sorts for the DLC in something that was called the
Democratic Advisory Council. After Dwight D. Eisenhower twice defeated
Democratic candidate Adlai E. Stevenson (1952 and 1956), party chairman Paul M.
Butler created the advisory council in defiance of Sam Rayburn and Lyndon Johnson (respectively Speaker of the House and
Senate Majority leader in the Democrat-controlled Congress). The council was a
group of “wise men” from the Roosevelt-Truman years, and some promising
governors and junior legislators. They formulated the economic and social
policies that became known as the New Frontier platform, which
John F. Kennedy ran and won with in 1960.

Here’s something interesting in 2005: Marshall Wittmann, a former aide to Sen.
John McCain (R-Ariz.), is serving as a fellow at the DLC.

It’s September 2007, and I’m just popping back in at this entry to record the
DLC’s slide. Harold Ford, Jr., was a blue dog
Democrat in the House representing the Memphis area (9th congressional district
of Tennessee) in 2006 when he ran for an open Senate seat (Republican Bill
Frist, a physician who was then Senate majority leader, was retiring; he still
thought he was going to run for President in 2008).
He lost the election (48% to Republican Bob Corker’s 51%). The following
January 25, he was named chairman of the DLC. At the DLC’s annual meeting in
Nashville on July 30, 2006, he said “Some people say we’ve lost our
standing, but if there ever was a time when the country needed the DLC… it’s
now.” He may be right, but the leading Democratic candidates all skipped the
DLC event to attend the second annual Kos thing.

Diamond-Like Carbon. Ha!
CVD-deposited carbon intended to form epitaxial
diamond crystal. Approach is attractive due to
some favorable properties of the semiconductor diamond, but so far deposition
is not very crystalline and Raman spectra more
closely resemble those of graphite.
Digital Loop Carrier[s].
Diffusion-Limited Cluster-Cluster Aggregation. In three dimensions,
this produces cluster
masses that scale approximately as the 2.5 power of the cluster radius.
Data Link Connection Identifier.
Dark Line Defect.
Data Link Decoder.
DeadLine Date.
Distorted Liquid Drop Model (LDM). This
overview page of nucleus models
has a link to
an extended technical description (dvi).


Diccionario latín-español.
`Latin-Spanish Dictionary.’ Very much under
construction. In fact, I’ve heard so little about that project that I think
it’s been abandoned. (This might be just as well, at least until they get a
more distinctive initialism, because lexicographically, the initialism
DLE usually stands for something else in
Spanish.) There’s a Greek effort
(DGE), originally parallel to the DLE effort, which
has made great progress and has already published into the epsilons.

I’m not sure what the exact title of the DLE was supposed to be. It could use
either latín (language name) or latino (adjective).

Our library has part 1 of a Diccionario latino-español that is
already available (formal title Dictionarium latino-hispanicum) by Elio
Antonio de Nebrija, based on preliminary studies by Germán Colón
y Amadeu-J. Soberanas. It’s not an original edition, however. It’s a
1979 reprint of the edition that was published at Salamanca in 1492. Yes, Colón is the Spanish version of
Columbus (which is really just the Latin translation of the real name. For a
tiny bit of information about the name Germá (apparently a
transliterated version of the name Herman), see the SN. Yes really the SN entry. Run along now.

Back already? Okay, now read about Salamanca (see under Cortes).

Diccionario de la lengua española.
`Dictionary of the Spanish Language.’ If not
otherwise specified, this probably refers to the
DRAE, the one published by the Real Academia
(`Spanish Royal Academy’) and — gasp —
freely available for searching on

Digital Library
. “…a consortium of libraries and related agencies that are
pioneering in the use of electronic-information technologies to extend their
collections and services.”

Also called NDLF.

Devilish Little Grin.
USENET newsgroup acronym.
One poster saves two seconds of typing, thousands of lurkers waste
hundreds of man-hours guessing.
Defense Language Institute. Officially, but less commonly in actual usage,
Direct Liquid Injection. Mass-flow control that measures out a rate
of liquid flow and vaporizes or atomizes it for a smooth flow into a
gas phase reaction. Liquid is not injected directly as such.
Digital Library Initiative. A project at the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), to develop an information
infrastructure to effectively search technical documents (mostly scientific
and engineering) on the Internet. As of mid-1998, they were constructing “a
large-scale, multi-publisher (54), full-text testbed of scientific literature
using SGML documents and bit-mapped images [and]
… evaluating its effectiveness for thousands of users on thousands of
Electronic Magazine of Digital Library
. Mirrors in the UK
and in Australia.
Defense Language Institute Foreign
Language Center
. Afaik, everyone calls it the Defense Language Institute,
which seems to have been its official name for a long time, and abbreviates the
name as DLI. I suppose they might have started
a Defense Language Institute Domestic Language Center. (Actually, they do
provide ESL classes at at least one of their
D Link
Diagonal Link. SS7 term. One of three possible
kinds of link interconnecting two mated pairs of signal transfer points
Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette. An
investment banking firm based in New York City.
Delay-Line Loop. Used to feed back and make clocks or multipliers.
Dynamic Link Library.

Double-Layer Metal[lization] (microelectronic fabrication technology).
Double-Layer Polysilicon (microelectronic fabrication technology).
DLR, dlr.
(Forschungsanstalt für) Luft- und Raumfahrt

(`German [Research Establishment for] Aero- and Astronautics’; official
English “German Aerospace Research Establishment.”).
a mirror of the English page.
Docklands Light Railway, Ltd.
These docklands are apparently the enclosed docks of the Isle of Dogs, serving
the city of London from 1802 until the 1960’s, when containerization shifted
cargo traffic to coastal ports that could accommodate larger ships. In 1982,
the British government designated the Isle of Dogs an “Enterprise Zone” with
tax and other incentives for economic revitalization. The DLR was built
starting in 1984 and began service in 1987.

The Isle of Dogs is smaller than the Isle of Man.
Donne wrote that no man is an island, but the Isle of Dogs is a peninsula in an
oxbow of the Thames. (Actually, such a peninsula itself may also be called an
oxbow. As the name here indicates, it is also sometimes called an isle or
island. The way rivers evolve, naturally or with human assistance, oxbows
often become islands and vice versa.) Because of the hydraulics of
meander, the deepest part of a river is close to the inside of the oxbow.
Hence docks (and quays).

“Docks” sounds an awful lot like “dogs” — the difference being that the
first uses an unvoiced consonant pair /ks/ and the second uses voiced
consonants /gz/. Hmmm. Well, no. The Isle of Dogs takes its name from the
fact that the king’s hounds used to be kept there. It was a peninsula then

The name of the Canary Islands comes from the Romans’ name for the largest
island — Canaria. According to Pliny, who probably just read it
somewhere else, it was named after large feral dogs the Romans found there
(from the Latin canis, `dog’). Eventually,
the name was applied to the
entire group. In the local language, Guanche, the islands were called
Tamaran, translated or interpreted as `land of the strong.’ You know,
tamar- and canar- are very similar — the tee and cee are
differently-articulated but similar-sounding stop consonants, and em and en are
similar nasals — perhaps…. Aaah, after the docks/dogs thing came to grief,
I better leave the speculation to professionals like Plinius.

The Canary name also came to be applied to a species of small yellow finches
found on the islands.

Île aux Chats, in the province of
Québec, is the name of a settlement and an island on the Rivière
du Nord, a couple of kilometers north of Carillon, about 30 km west of
Montréal. An island renowned for cats
and birds — now that would be something.

De La Salle Collegiate High
A college-prep boys’ school in Warren, Michigan.
De La Salle High School. A Catholic
boys’ school in Concord, California. (That’s about 15 mi. east of Berkeley and
Oakland. It’s also 3 mi. NE of Walnut Creek, one of six “satellite
production” sites where the NY Times prints its “national edition.” As of
mid-2008, these are the locations of the other five: Chicago; Lakeland,
Florida; Torrance, California; Austin, Texas; and Lorain, Ohio. On April 3 of
2008, an agreement with the Tacoma News Tribune was announced, to start
production in Tacoma, Washington, in the autumn. In March 2008, the weekday
circulation of the NYT averaged 1,007,550, and the Sunday paper averaged
1,629,650 copies. Call me a buzzard or a ghoul, but I’m just waiting for the
gray lady to turn a couple of shades paler and collapse. Crossing below the
million threshold, which ought to happen in 2008, will probably be a good
milestone. In February 2008, the corresponding daily and Sunday circulation
averages for the NYT national edition were 127,800 and 232,000. Now what
boring thing were we talking about before we got onto this interesting tangent?
Oh yes…) DLS was founded in 1965 “in
the Lasallian tradition of the Christian Brothers.
” It has about 1000
students, and an impressive 98% or so of its graduates go on to college.

DLS’s “sister school,”
Carondelet High School, also
in Concord, was also founded in 1965,
by the
Sisters [see?] of St. Joseph of Carondelet
at the request of [the aptly
named] Bishop Floyd Begin, first Bishop of Oakland [Oakland was his see, see?].
In the tradition of their congregation, the Sisters responded to the needs of
the Church by establishing the only Catholic secondary school for the young
women of Contra Costa County.”

De La Salle High School. A
coed Catholic school in New Orleans. It opened its doors as a boys’ high
school in 1949.
DeLaSalle High School in
. Originally a commercial school that was opened as the
DeLaSalle Institute in October 1900. In 1971, the by-then high school turned
coed when the diocese closed the all-girl St. Anthony of Padua High School in
northeast Minneapolis. Although the initialism DLS is widely used
attributively in names of the school’s groups, “De” is the school’s
affectionate nickname, and they have a too-cutesy practice of emphasizing or
capitalizing both the letters DE when they occur initially in school-related
De La Salle Institute. A four-year
college-prep high school in Chicago. It was chartered in 1888 as a
degree-granting two-year commercial school for boys. In 2002 it opened a
“Young Women’s Campus” (Lourdes High School — doubtless named after the
daughter of Madonna).
The Demosthenian
Literary Society
. An institution at UGA.
DownLoadable Sound. MIDI-related code
that I know nothing about.
Defense Logistics Service Center. Sounds like the place where the Defense
Logistics Agency (DLA) goes for its tune-ups.
DownLoadable Sound 2. The next stage in DLS.
But I haven’t even learned DLS. I’m falling further behind!
Device-Level Test.
Digital Linear Tape.
Deep Level Transient Spectroscopy. Used in the range of about 77K to 400K,
for determining densities of traps as a function of ionization activation energy, as well as their capture cross
Dependent Logical Unit. The word dependent is a big clue that this
term applies to a host-centric system rather than a client-server system. In
fact, a DLU is an LU controlled by an
SNA host system.
DeLaVirdin. An NNRTI used in the treatment of
Derjaguin, Lanfau, Verwey, and Overbeek (model).
Deutsche Literaturzeitung.
Defense Minister.
Delta Modulation.
Deutsche Mark. There was a plan to have a
national campaign featuring the monetary advice of Claudia Schiffer to
convince Germans to adopt some shakey European common currency. Maybe the
revelation of the meretricious nature of her affair with David Copperfield got
that canned. Anyway, before the euro could be put in place, the various EU
members were supposed to stabilize their economies by, among other things,
bringing their national government budget deficits below 3% of Gross Domestic
Product (GDP). Among EU members, even Germany
hadn’t done this when I first wrote this entry, but in 1995 the US budget
deficit was 2.3% of US GDP, and it was headed down (it crossed zero in 1998).

As it happened, the European economy picked up and a lot of countries did
switch starting in 1999 (q.v.).

Diabetes Mellitus. General term for a few diseases popularly called simply

All forms of the disease involve some problem with insulin, which enables
blood sugar (glucose) to enter cells.
There are two principal types:

I –
or Juvenile-onset, or insulin-dependent diabetes (IDDM).

May first appear as early as the first month of infancy, and typically
appears before or during adolescence. The current preferred name is
IDDM, however, because onset may be delayed into the thirties, forties
and beyond (albeit with decreasing likelihood).

In IDDM, the pancreas fails to produce insulin, or enough
insulin. The disease is currently believed to be an autoimmune
disorder: the body fails to recognize certain cell surface proteins in the pancreas as “self,” and
destroys the insulin-producing cells (“beta cells”) found in regions of the
pancreas called “islets of Langerhans.”

[Alpha cells make and release glucagon; delta cells make the hormone
somatostatin, believed to regulate the alpha and beta cells. The gamma
cells just sit around and look busy, I guess.] Insulin-dependent
diabetics require daily insulin injections to survive. Not just
hyperglycemia but hypoglycemia becomes a problem (there’s a fine region
between too little and too much insulin). Moreover, after a few years
there may be the additional difficulty that the overt initial reactions
to low blood sugar become muted.

II –
or Adult-onset, or non-insulin-dependent diabetes (NIDDM).

This is by far the more common form of diabetes (95% of US cases
— 13 to 14 million). Usually appears after age forty. Onset is
slow and often goes unnoticed for a long time. There is a
significant heritability of this disease, or for the predisposition
to the disease, but a number of other factors play a rôle.

Type-II diabetes does not result from destruction of beta cells or
from underproduction of insulin. Instead it has to do with “insulin
resistance” — a problem with insulin consumers rather than producers.
At the cellular level, for incompletely understood reasons, glucose
transport becomes less efficient. Insulin levels are typically
elevated, and appropriate treatment does not (initially) include
insulin injections. However, after years of type-II diabetes, the
ability of the pancreas to produce insulin can diminish and lead to
type-I (insulin-dependent) diabetes.

– for Gestational Diabetes Mellitus

Elevated blood sugar in pregnant women, may occur during the second
half of the pregnancy. Glucose levels return to normal post partum
in 95% of cases, but GDM is an indication for type II.

The CDC has a “Diabetes Public Health Resource.” would seem like
another reasonable place to learn more. See also the American Diabetes
Association (ADA), the Juvenile Diabetes
Foundation International (JDF), …
Gee, this must be a pretty important disease.

The name diabetes mellitus comes via Latin
from Greek: diabetes (`passing through’) + mellitus (`honey’).
Hippocrates stressed the careful noting of all symptoms that the technology of
his time could detect; diabetics’ urine tasted sweet. As we now understand,
the sweetness comes from the high blood sugar (glucose), some of which is
excreted instead of being properly metabolized in cells. A possible indicator
of diabetes is excessive thirst (which I suppose arises from the extra workload
on the kidneys, but I don’t know). More along these lines can be found
at the Be entry.

Differential Mode. Vide
Differential Amplifier
. “DM is an on-line, open access, peer-reviewed journal
devoted to the use of digital tools and media in the study of medieval culture.
Its inaugural issue was published in April, 2005.”
Dipole Moment.
Distance Measurement (avionics).
(Domain name code for) Dominica. First time most of us
ever heard of it was when they contributed a token presence, as part of the
“multinational-force” fig leaf
for the US invasion of Grenada.
Dungeon Master. Vide D+D.
Designated Market Area.
Direct Marketing Association.

You know — spawn of the devil, ruthless sociopaths.

In recent years, when you’re home during the day, you seem to get a lot more
calls where there’s no one on the other end. The explanation is
straightforward. In a little warren or a Texas jail,
a bank of slaves, felons, or other menial employees call potential marks (sorry
— speak with prospective customers). Phone numbers are dialed for them
automatically, many calls at a time. The reason many numbers are dialed at
once is this: if each number dialed is allowed to ring five times before being
hung up, then every not-at-home wastes half a minute of the slave wages.
Simultaneously dialing many numbers saves pennies. It happens constantly that
two or more calls will be picked up when there is only one slave available to
make a pitch. In that case, one or more of the completed calls will be
dropped. That is the source of your mysterious phantom calls. There are also
wrong-number calls where the calling party realizes the error before speaking,
and is too rude to apologize.

I guess this is occupational rehab. When they get
out of jail, the ex-cons are ready to make an
honest living.

Direct Memory Access. Cf. DVMA.
Dynamic Mechanical Analysis.
DiMethylAluminum Hydride. Al(CH3)2H. Has been
demonstrated as an aluminum CVD source for
hole-filling at 0.25 micron design rules.
Dave Matthews Band.
(US) Defense Manpower Commission.
Dynamic Markov Coding. A class of compression algorithms that
generalize arithmetic coding, and achieve the highest compression, but at
the cost of long computation and large scratch file requirements. The
algorithms start with a zero-order Markov model that corresponds to
adaptive determination of symbol frequencies, and systematically
builds up a higher-order Markov model of the symbol correlations.
Interestingly, Markov introduced what we call a Markov model in order
to analyze the poem Eugene Onegin. I think. I’ll get back to
you on that. For the time being, think of it as an intriguing possibility.
(US) Digital Millennium
Copyright Act
of 1998.
DMCd, dmCd
DiMethyl Cadmium. An organic precursor used in
growth of II-VI material.
Digital Micromirror Device[s]. Originally from TI. Larry J. Hornbeck of
TI won the 2007/2008 Prize of the
AIP for Industrial Applications of Physics
[f]or his invention
and pioneering innovations in both the design and manufacturing of Digital
Micromirror Devices (DMDs) integrated into metal-oxide semiconductor
(MOS) technology.”
Duchenne Muscular Dystophy. X-linked, 1/3 of cases are new mutations
and 2/3 expression of carrier mother’s defective gene. Occurs in one out
of every ~3500 boys.
Distributed Multiplexing, Distributed Demultiplexing.
N,N’-DiButyl-N,N’-TetraDecyl-MAlonamide. I’d like to buy a vowel, please.
Des Moines Register.
Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division
based in Newark, Delaware.
Developed Market Economy.
Distance Measuring Equipment. Avionics and traffic control both.
Distributed Management Environment.
Durable Medical Equipment. Term used by Medicare for medical equipment prescribed by
a physician for use in the home, seeming to imply that at home, disposable
needles are durable, and that an iron lung at the hospital is not. Oh well,

Medicare imposes pricing and contract constraints on DME providers, such as
requiring (on hospital-type beds) a rent-to-buy option with repair contract.

DiMethylEthylAmineAlane. Has been demonstrated as an aluminum CVD source for hole-filling at 0.25 micron design rules.
Durable Medical Equipment Regional Carrier. A local vicar of Medicare for DME.
Decayed, Missing, and Filled. Sounds like teeth, and it’s a
water-treatment term, so it might have something to do with fluoridation.
I’ll probably look into this and report back sometime during this century.
Direct Methanol Fuel Cell. Most names for
specific fuel-cell types refer to the electrolyte type. DMFC refers to the
fuel. Most fuel cell technologies existing and under development are intended
to burn hydrogen. In principle, any oxidation reaction might be harnessed for
a fuel cell, but in practice, burning hydrogen with oxygen has been the most
practical so far.

Deutsche Meteorologische Gesellschaft
DesMethylImipramine. Also called desipramine. Trade names Norpramin,
Pertofrane. A tricyclic antidepressant (TCA).
The acronym echoes IMI (imipramine),
another TCA.
Desktop Management Interface. Industry standard for centralized
inventory of client hardware and software; uses
Dimensional Measuring Interface
. The common standard for data exchange among CMM (Coordinate Measuring Machines) and CMM software
applications like CATIA. Developed by CAM-I.

DMIS 3.0 was accepted by ANSI as ANSI/CAM-I
101-1995. Current work is focused on implementing an object technology, DOT.

Data Manipulation .
Digital Multi-Meter. Approximate trade-off:
Fluke — durable, Tek(tronix) — inexpensive.
Distributed-Memory Multiprocessing System.
Diesel-Mechanical Multiple-Unit train. A kind of self-powered passenger
rail car. Specifically, a DMU in which power
from the diesel engine is transmitted mechanically to the (powered) wheels.
Just as in a car with “standard” transmission (not all that standard in the
US any more), except that there’s not much point in having a planetary or
differential on a rail car.
Dental health Maintenance Organization. Typically organized more
like a PPO than an HMO,
in not having a central facility, but more like HMO in not offering any
coverage for out-of-network care.
Double-diffused MOS. An enhancement-mode nMOS formed by two successive diffusions of opposite
dopant sign through the source diffusion window. The first diffusion is of the
“wrong” sign: a p-diffusion, when for an nMOS the source and drain should be
n. This diffusion underlaps the oxide that separates the source and drain
diffusion windows, and creates the necessary p-doped region immediately below
the gate. The second diffusion, performed with drain
diffusion window open as well, is the n doping that defines the usual
source and drain. This diffusion also underlaps the gate oxide, shortening the
effective gate length (which is the whole point).

A region of the semiconductor under the gate has not been doped. This
drift region always works out to be lightly n-doped.

If this isn’t enough, you could look up
H. J. Sigg, G. D. Vendelin, T. P. Cauge and J. Kocsis: “D-MOS Transistor for
Microwave Applications,” IEEE Transactions on
Electron Devices
, vol. ED-19, pp. 45-53 (January 1972).
Y. Tarui, et al.: “Diffusion Self-Aligned
MOST — A New Approach for High Speed Devices,” in
Proceedings of the First Conf. Solid-State Devices, appearing as a
Supplement to the Japanese Journal of [the Society of] Applied Physics,
vol. 39, pp. 105-110 (1970).

DiMethylimide Perylene. A stable dye with OPV promise.
Digital MultiPoint Bridging.
Data Management System.
Defense Message System.
Digital Multiplex
. Ooh — digital! Like what isn’t these days?
Digital Music System.
Dilute[d] Magnetic Semiconductor–typically a
(e.g., CdMnTe) and occasionally
a III-V compound semiconductor (In1-xMnxAs), with small
impurity of magnetic ion. Interesting property: band structure changes in
presence of magnetic field.
Direct Menu Select.
Distributed Memory System.
Distribution Management System.
Molecular Sieve Beds
DiMethylSulfOxide. Strong polar solvent. Large molecules dissolved
in DMSO are more readily absorbed through the skin. “Nicotine patch”
and similar car-sickness medicine
delivery system are based on this; side effect is dry mouth. Read The
Strawberry Statement
for an interesting application to police-riot control.
DMSO itself, rather than as mule for active transport, is a widely used folk
treatment for arthritis.
Defense Modeling and Simulation Office.
Defense Meteorological Satellite Program.
Discrete MultiTone (modulation). Orthogonal Frequency Division
Multiplexing (OFDM) for wireline, as opposed to
wireless communications. A bit more efficient. A few bits, actually.
DMTe, dmTe
DiMethyl Telluride. An organic precursor used in
growth of II-VI material.
Distinguished Member of Technical Staff. An official title at Bell Labs.
Diesel Multiple-Unit train. Designates a passenger rail car with its own
diesel motor, when this is part of a multiple-unit (MU) system. Depending on how the power is
transmitted to the wheels, these are classified into
(electric transmission), DHMU (hydraulic),
and DMMU (mechanical).
{ Department | Division } of Motor Vehicles. Also BMV.
Deutsche Mathematiker-Vereinigung. `German Union of Mathematicians.’
DeMilitarized Zone. Part of the history of
DiMethyl Zinc. FYI, there’s no such thing as “dimethylzine” — it’s an
ignrant misreading of “dimethylzinc.” There is, however, a trimethyl zinc
Diameter Nominal. Nominal Diameter, of pipe. Postposed adjective
probably has something to do with French.
Cf. NPS (Nominal Pipe Size).
Distribution Network.
Defense Nuclear Agency. Old, historical name (until 1996) for Defense
Special Weapons Agency (DSWA). It seems, from
this example and others (NMR –> MRI; “nuclear family” –> “traditional family”),
that the word nuclear has a half-life of a few years. Stand back!
The fall-out could mutate the letters in your name! You wouldn’t look like
your ID picture and you’d probably be married to
someone you don’t even know!

Oh, wait, no — it’s not that at all! They explain:

The military organization, the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project, was
created in 1947 to conduct nuclear weapon effects research and provide nuclear
technical, logistical and training support for DoD.
Renamed in 1959 as the Defense Atomic Support Agency and in 1971 as the Defense
Nuclear Agency, the Agency became DSWA in 1996, as the result of a new
charter and an expanded mission.

DeoxyriboNucleic Acid. The material on which the genetic code is written.
The code has four characters (chemical bases): A,
T, G,
G (Adenosine, Thymine, Guanine, Cytosine), typically
in sequences of three bases, which encode for individual amino acids. (There are twenty-two different
amino acids, and only twenty are coded for, so the code is somewhat
redundant.) Some code is junk, some code is punctuation, a lot is not yet
understood. The code duplicates by forming a double helix, with each base
matched to its complement on the opposite side of the helix (the base pairings in DNA are A–T, G–C). DNA encodes
for proteins (long sequences of amino acids)
which include enzymes (often these are among
the shorter amino acid chains called polypeptides). Cf. RNA.

In Spanish, the acronym is

A little glossary of DNA terms as
edited by Beverly
is available as one of the side-benefits of this decade’s
trial of the century. Patrick Carey has written a primer of some utility.

DNA has been proposed as a basis for computation.

Dermatology Nurses’ Association.
Digital Network Architecture.
Does Not Apply. See NA entry for
Douglas Noel Adams. Author of comedy science fiction, including
HHGTTG; he and it have a
cult following. He died
young (age 49) in 2001. Terry Pratchett has been the preferred consolation of
the bereaved.
National Dyslexics Association.
Dense Non-Aqueous Pollutant Liquid.
Dictionary of National Biography. “National” here means UK. Published by Oxford
University Press
. A new edition was published in September 2004: sixty
volumes, 11 shelf-feet, also available on CD-ROM and by online subscription.
Democratic National Committee.
Established at the 1848 Democratic National

If this seems wildly inappropriate to the context in which you heard it, then
perhaps you heard the expression D’n’C (D and C).

During the campaign for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, Howard
Dean came out of nowhere to be the presumptive nominee in January, then place
second in the Iowa caucuses, and crash and burn. At the end of 2004, after the
man who beat him in Iowa lost in the general election, Dean campaigned to
replace Terry McAuliffe, whose term was ending, as chairman of the DNC. He
won the post. A lot of people think that having a parodically anti-defense
figure as chair is an unwise move for the DNC, but that’s not why I bring up
the subject. I just wanted to record here for convenient reference the details
of some of the most memorably preposterous comments made at the time, mostly
instances of blindly wishful thinking.

(That’s what I wanted to do. I haven’t actually done it yet.)

Democratic National Convention.

Entering the third century of the life of the party, Democrats are generally
“pro-choice.” Nevertheless, no actual abortions are performed at the
convention, unless you count some of the non-prime-time speeches. If the
confusion that brought you to this glossary entry remains, you might want to
visit the D’n’C (D and C) entry.

If I told you what DNCO stands for now, it would spoil the suspense and
you’d be disappointed and bored by the DNCS entry
Dislocation Nucleation Diagram. A graph of (open-mode) stress intensity factor (SIF) versus distance of
dislocation to crack tip.
Do Not Erase. If it’s important enough to be worth spelling out the
acronym, it’s important enough to transcribe from the blackboard or whiteboard
or whatever. I do my calculations in pen; if they’re important, I scan them.
Distributed Network for Electronic
. An initiative of JISC
intended to “integrate access to the various electronic information services
currently available. A key concept behind the vision of the DNER is to
separate services which provide the content (for example, library catalogues)
from those that provide presentation of information (for example, web
Did Not Finish. Used as a noun (e.g., “109 Starters – 8 DNF’s”
and so 101 finishing times are given).
Duke Nukem Forever. A first-person shooter. We have a little information
on it here.
Desktop Network Interface. To a computer. Often so called even though
it’s inside the machine as a slide-in card (NIC).
Director of National Intelligence. Maybe that should be expanded
“Director of NescIence.”
Data Network Identification Code.
Dialed Network Identification Service.
Day-Night (average sound intensity) Level.
Double Nuclear Magnetic Resonance.
Did Not Play. Baseball box score abbreviation.
Dnp, DNP
2,4-DiNitroPhenyl. Nitro groups like the ortho and para positions.
Cf. TNT.
Did Not . Polling code.
Do Not Resuscitate.
Dogbert’s New Ruling Class. The Dilbert
is the official publication of Dogbert’s New Ruling Class. If
you don’t
, you will be relegated to slavery when Dogbert takes over the
DimethylaminoNaphthalene Sulfonyl. Same as Dansyl.
Domain Name { Service | Server | System}. Internet address database.
Unix implementation is BIND.
DMIS National Standards
. DMIS (q.v.) is the
Dimensional Measuring Interface Standard.
Domain Name Supporting Organization. The structure of the Domain Name
Supporting Organization of ICANN was determined in
Singapore, on March 4, 1999; the first DNSO General Assembly was held in
Berlin, May 25, 1999. “At some point of time between 9:10 and 9:40 a.m.
Amsterdam time on Sunday [15 December 2002], the DNSO ceased to be….” Its
duties were taken over by the GNSO.

Folks extremely unhappy with DNSO have a website at <>.

Dedicated NetWork.
Deformation Optical. Refers to nonpolar interaction of optical
phonons in a crystal. Vide
DA interaction.
Dissolved Oxygen.
DO, D.O.
Doctor of Osteopathy. A sympathetic explanation of osteopathy is
given here
, where it is asserted that “a medical doctor, M.D., and an osteopathic doctor, D.O. … are alike in
many ways.” “Author’s name omitted by request.”
(Domain name code for) Dominican Republic. Shares an island
(Hispaniola) with Haiti. The Dominican Republic is the eastern half, divided
by an approximately North-South border from the western half, occupied by
Haiti. The western half has a bay that makes it look like a jaw opening west.

Hispaniola in this set-up looks a lot like the island of New Guinea, where a
North-South line (the 141E meridian) divides the eastern half (the main
territory of Papua New Guinea) from Irian Jaya,
a province of Indonesia. The western
half has a bay that makes it look like a jaw opening west. Irian, the
Indonesian (and originally Malay) name for the entire island of New Guinea,
means `Cloud-covered.’ Or else it is derived from a Biak phrase meaning
`shimmering land.’ Resolving this question is next on my to-do list after
solving the Palestinian problem. The Indonesian part of the island was
originally called Irian Barat, meaning West Irian. When the Dutch granted
Indonesia independence in 1949, they gave nominal sovereignty of Dutch New
Guinea to Indonesia, but retained control. Under “Guided Democracy”
(dictatorial) rule, self-appointed Indonesian Prime Minister Sukarno announced
a military campaign to take control of Irian Barat (Dec. 19, 1961). Military
infiltration began in early 1962. Under heavy US pressure, the Dutch gave it
up to the UN on August 15, 1962, which after a decent interval (about a year)
turned it over to Indonesia, with an unenforceable and unspecific requirement
to obtain West Irian consent for integration within five years. That consent
was manufactured in Summer, 1969. At that time, it was renamed Irian Jaya.
Jaya means `victory’ or `glory.’ (Jaya is about 1000 miles east of Java.)

The country’s (i.e., the Dominican Republic’s) name in Spanish is República Dominicana,
abbreviated R.D.

DOA, doa, DoA
Damaged On Arrival. Explained at next entry.
Dead On Arrival. In electronic device reliability, this is about
equivalent to infant mortality. In another
context, this would be a tasteless pun.

The DOA acronym (strictly: initialism; it’s pronounced “dee oh ey,” not
“dough-uh” or anything) has been adopted in the shipping business also.
There the expansions are “damaged on arrival
(blame the carrier) and “defective on arrival
(blame the shipper) but I doubt the correspondence
of acronyms is entirely accidental (oops, sorry about that!).

In India, hospitals are said to declare a person
“brought dead.”

Here’s a comment on brain death by the tyrant Macbeth (Act III, Sc. 4 of
Shakespeare’s report):

Blood hath been shed ere now, i’ the olden time,
Ere humane statute purged the gentle weal;
Ay, and since too, murders have been perform’d
Too terrible for the ear: the times have been,
That, when the brains were out, the man would die,
And there an end; but now they rise again,
With twenty mortal murders on their crowns,
And push us from our stools: this is more strange
Than such a murder is.

In Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Michael Corleone is asked to confirm a
hit. He says “I saw his brains.”

This entry is taking a turn in a nasty direction, isn’t it.

Direction Of Arrival. Sure, the entry is out of order. (When different
entries have the same head term, we usually order them alphabetically by
definition text.) These things don’t just happen randomly, you know.
DOA, doa, DoA
Defective On Arrival.
Explained at the main DOA entry.
Dogbert Outplacement Agency.
do a book
Not write a book.

Phrase used by people who have no business writing a book, will not write a
book, and who are “shopping” the book they should not and will not write with
publishers. Eventually, their celebrity will get them a contract, and a writer
who shouldn’t be wasting life with pap will ghost the book because he or she
needs the money.

I hope you’re not too troubled by the shift in grammatical number.

There is another, rarer usage in an honorable context. Here’s an example from
Scepticism, Man, & God: Selections from the Major Writings of Sextus
(Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan U.P.,
1964). The preface begins

Years of frustration are the cause of this book. Writings
of all sorts, including poems, plays, histories of philosophy, and even
encyclopaedia articles on the Greek Sceptics have been so often wrong about and
unreasonably antagonistic towards Classical Scepticism that I have finally felt
compelled to do this book.

The writer was Philip P. Hallie, who provided an introduction, notes and
bibliography for the volume, and who selected the passages with the concurrence
of Sanford G. Etheridge, who did the translation from the Greek.

Okay, now back to celebrity authorship. Michiko Kakutani writes engagingly for
the New York Times. She writes book criticism,
and even her individual book reviews rate a column (“Critic’s Notebook”) in
the broadsheet section, instead of the NYTBR. She
often parodies the style she is critiquing. Her column for October 23, 2003,
is entitled “To Stars, Writing Books Looks Like Child’s Play.” It tells the
wonderful story of stars who write children’s books.

Many [famous brand-name people] wrote books about children who sounded like
themselves. Jerry, a comedian who made pots of gold with a television show and
more pots of gold with commercials for a credit card, wrote a Halloween book
about a greedy boy who wants to get his hands on lots and lots of brand-name
candy. Madonna, a blond star, wrote about a pretty little blond girl who has
no friends because everyone is jealous that she “shines like a star.” And
Britney, a younger blond singer, wrote a
book, with her mother, about a young blond girl who really, really wants to
become a singer…

Other celebrity children’s-book authors:

  • Jimmy Buffet (of “Margueritaville” fame?),
  • Bill Cosby,
  • Sarah Ferguson (of the suckled toes?).
  • Also,

  • Spike Lee,
  • Keith Hernandez,
  • Jesse Ventura,
  • Maria Shriver,
  • Katie Couric,
  • Marlee Matlin,
  • Bob Dylan,
  • Bob Dylan??!!??
  • Dr. Laura Schlessinger (I’d rather
    just go to my room without dinner),
  • LeAnn Rimes,
  • Jane Seymour,
  • Harvey Fierstein,
  • Della Reese,
  • Michael Bolton,
  • Cindy Crawford,
  • Shaquille O’Neal,
  • Debbie Allen, and
  • Lynne Cheney.

(Not to mention Jerry, Madonna, and Britney.) The list excludes a small number
of celebrities who can write for children (Jamie Lee Curtis, John Lithgow), and
aren’t just in it to further merchandise their names. (Links are to glossary
entries that mention the celebrities, but that may not be about them.)

Paris Hilton has done her first
autobiography. It’s titled Confessions
of an Heiress
and was written by Merle Ginsberg. It’s selling well on the
internet. It has lots and lots of pictures. (I’m sorry — it’s hard to shake
off the effects of that children’s-book section of the entry. But it really
really has a lot of pictures! Ginsberg never had it so good.)
Confessions is a natural companion volume to her porn video. I’m very
excited about this book, and I plan to buy it as soon as it hits the dollar
table. But I hope she invests in new boobs before the next autobiography.

Here’s some further guidance on related wording — specifically on the meaning
of the preposition by in the context of such books. Marco Perella is an
an actor too, and at the urging of his friend Molly Ivins, he wrote a book
about his experiences. Her foreword to that book began thus:

Who wants to read another book by some rich, famous, successful actor?
Especially when we can hear from Marco Perella instead. He’s un-rich, unfamous
and perfectly hilarious. Besides, he wrote this book himself.

More about the book, Adventures of a No Name Actor, can be found at our
cybermuffin entry.

DOS Open Application
Programming Interface
DOB, D.O.B., dob
Date Of Birth. Personal information forms are more likely to ask for this
information than for your date of death. For something equally dim, see the
end of the item on Cameron Bright.
Daughters Of Bilitis. Founded in San Francisco in 1955 to advance the
concerns of lesbians within the gay rights movement (avant la lettre).
For a decade beginning in 1956, they
published something called The Ladder.

Bilitis was believed to be a poetess from the island Lesbos, one who was a
contemporary and acquaintance of the famous Sappho. The cause of these beliefs
is a hoax perpetrated by the French novelist Pierre Louÿs, who claimed he
had discovered poems of this previously unknown person. In 1894, he published
free-verse “translations” into French; a later edition included a
bibliography of spurious related scholarship and related works on Bilitis. The
poems provided relief to some for whom the surviving bits of Sappho are
intolerably coy. Bilitis was well-known to be an invention long before 1951,
but the poems continued to enjoy a certain censored vogue, and Bilitis also
became a subject of paintings. (Bilitis in these came to be confused with
Sappho, but given how little we know of the latter, and how entirely fanciful
such paintings are, no harm done.)
J.B. Hare
that DOB selected the name it did precisely because
Bilitis was generally obscure. Louÿs shares writing credit for a 1977 French movie entitled Bilitis.

Nickname, appreciated or not, of UK politician
(Labour) Frank Dobson.
DOpyera BROthers. A guitar designed by said
brothers in the 1930’s, popular in bluegrass and country music. According to a
posting on alt.usage.english, it’s a sort
of self-amplified version of the Hawaiian guitar, very much like the National
steel guitar, which the Dopyeras also had a hand in designing. The Dobro looks
like a regular guitar, except for what looks like the hubcap from a ’58 DeSoto
mounted over the sound hole. It’s supposed to be played horizontally with a
slide bar. (The guitar, not the player, is supine.) I don’t know how good the
Dopyera brothers were at musical instrument design, but they were obviously
prescient in automobile styling. On the Dobro, the hubcap covers a resonator
cone that produces a distinctive sound. Similar guitars are made by many
different companies and individual luthiers today.

Dobro was a trade name, and it has not passed into the public domain.
The trademark currently belongs to the Gibson
Instrument Co., which is protecting it by insisting that only instruments
manufactured under the Dobro trademark be called “Dobros.” Instead, people
are supposed to use the generic term “resophonic guitar.” Gag.

As a way of needling the Gibson folks, a lot of people who own and play the
instrument have taken a page from TAFKAP and taken
to using the term TIFKAD — “The Instrument Formerly Known As Dobro.”

(US government) Department Of Commerce.
Department Of Corrections. Typical name for a US state government’s
department in charge of executing criminal sentences and occasionally convicts.
If I were the owner of The New Republic
, you may be sure I would have a department of corrections also.
Dissolved Organic Carbon.
DOCtor. There’s a popular old New Yorker cartoon with a
supercilious seater at toney restaurant, taking a reservation over the phone

“And is that a real doctor or
just a Ph.D.?”

It is possible to quantify the degree of “reality” of various “Doctors”
along a straight line (specifically, the base of a triangle with apex at home
plate): If the M.D. is in deep
right field, then the Ph.D. is in shallow center, and the Doctor of
Chiropractic (D.C.) is in the parking area.
(Sometimes Doctors of Osteopathy can be seen
wandering into left field.)

For those who nay be imterested, the N.D. landed
foul, on the grass!

Old English word meaning `bastard son.’
The standard mnemonic:

The wise kangaroos
Prefer yellow shoes.

The only wise kangaroo I know of, who probably
wears athletic shoes, is a coauthor on the Stuperspace article
cited at the Acknowledgments entry.

The mnemonic has been credited to Gilbert Murray, an Australian.

Okay, a kangaroo sits down at a bar and says, “I’ll have a Foster’s, mate!”
The bartender charges him ten bucks for the brew and says, “you know, uh, we
don’t see a lot of kangaroos in here.” He replies, “well at these prices,
you’re not likely to see many more!”

We also have kangaroo information at the KMP entry.

When that pop singer what dint ha’ hi’ sea legs sang about “sittin’ on
the dock of a bay,’ he was all wet. The
only dock you can sit on and stay dry is a drydock — a section of dock
that can be pumped out for shipbuilding and repair. The dockside land that
landlubbers sometimes call a dock is a “quay.”

(Actually, that singer was Otis Redding, and he wasn’t available to do a
corrected version. He died in a plane crash near Madison, Wisconsin, three
days after recording “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay.”)

. The “National Library of Medicine‘s
automated interlibrary loan (ILL) request routing
and referral system. The purpose of the system is to provide improved document
delivery service among libraries in the National Network of
Libraries of Medicine
(NN/LM) by linking
journal holdings to efficiently route the requests to potential lending
libraries on behalf of the borrower.”
DOCumentation, construed plural.
Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification.
Documentary Hypothesis
The most widely accepted hypothesis about how the Pentateuch came into
being. It was developed and promulgated by Karl H. Graf in the 1860’s and
Julius Wellhausen in the 1870’s (hence also known as the Graf-Wellhausen
Hypothesis). Here’s
a good description
. Here’s
a calmly unsympathetic page
. The situation is like that with evolution.
The web is filled with the deluded trying to make converts.
When it’s good, it’s good, and when it’s bad it’s still better than
nothing. There’s a small pile of

documentation in hypertext form
from the
University of Wisconsin at Madison
CS Dept.

Delivery USER
. The “National Library of
‘s online interactive database, [which] contains directory,
interlibrary loan [see DOCLINE], and network
information on libraries throughout the world. It is the administrative file
for both NLM’s interlibrary loan service, and the libraries that make up the
National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM).”
(US government) Department Of
. The principal responsibility of the DoD is to fund research that
could by some stretch of the imagination be useful to national defense;
lamentably, however, most of the money goes to war-making capability and other

In George Orwell’s 1984, Oceania’s DoD was
called the Ministry of Love. In George Washington’s first cabinet, it was
called the Department of War. Here’s how it evolved:

1789_ War (army and navy)
1798_ __|__
| |
Navy War (army)
| |
. .
. .
. .
| |
1947_ | |____
| | |
| | Air Force
| | |
1949_ |_____|____|

DoD is pronounced “DEE-oh-DEE” and never pronounced “DEE-uh-DEE” (like
“House o’ Car Audio”).

As far as the US military itself is concerned, “DoD” is obsolete and
has been replaced by “DOD.” I guess they just noticed that computer
print-outs are in all-caps. Soon enough they’ll notice that they aren’t.

In 1798, the Department of War was split into Departments of War and the
Navy. This use of war to refer only to military operations on land
goes along with the traditional sense of military to refer only to
the land component of what we think of as military. (For an example of this
usage in British English, see the D. of I.
entry.) The word military comes from the Latin word
milites meaning soldier. The division into separate Navy and War
Departments continued until 1947, when the Air Force
USAF was created as a separate department out of
the earlier Army Air Corps (USAAC). The DOD was
created by the National Security Act of 1949.

DOD Directive.
(US) Department Of Defense Dependents Schools. Part of the
DODEA. There’s a popular story — which I don’t
know to be false — that the original plan was to call the DODDS system the
“Department of Defense Overseas Schools” system. The military is
compulsively acronymic, however.
(US) Department Of Defense Dependents
. Part of the DODEA.
Department Of Defense Educational
. “Teaching the children of America’s military families
A group of 13 Aegean islands — go figure. The most important one is

They were controlled by Italy for a while and
transferred to Greece after WWII.

The Los Angeles Dodgers began as the “Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers”
(1884-1888). For their sixth and final season in the
A.A. (1889), they became the “Brooklyn
Bridegrooms,” a name they kept for their first years in the
National League (1890-1898). For twelve seasons they
were the “Brooklyn Superbas” (1899-1910). They were the “Brooklyn Dodgers”
from 1911 to 1913 and from 1932 to 1957; during the intervening period
(1914-1932) they were the “Brooklyn Robins.” They moved to
LA after 1957 and have been the LA Dodgers since 1958.

There have also been football teams called the Brooklyn Dodgers. For details,
see the AAFC entry.

DOD Instruction.
Different Orbitals for Different Spin. In principle, this can make
Hartree-Fock more accurate when there are open shells.
(US government) Department of Education.

Here is something from an introduction by Christopher Jencks and Meredith
Phillips to a volume of essays they co-edited:

The United States ought to be conducting large-scale experiments aimed at
reducing uncertainty about the effects of schools’ racial mix, class size,
teacher selection systems, ability grouping, and many other policies. We
do such experiments to determine the effects of different medical treatments,
different job training programs, and many other social interventions. But
the U.S. Department of Education, which should in principle be funding
experiments from which every state and school district would benefit, has
shown almost no interest in this approach to advancing knowledge about
education. The most important piece of education research in the past
generation, the Tennessee class-size experiment, was funded by the Tennessee
legislature, not the U.S. Department of Education. Experimental assessments
of other educational policies that have a major impact on school spending —
salary levels, teacher selection systems, education for the physically and
mentally disabled, for example — have been almost nonexistent.

If we did more experiments, we might eventually develop better theories. At
present, theorizing about the causes of the black-white gap is largely a waste
of time, because there is no way to resolve theoretical disagreements without
data that all sides accept as valid. Most theories about human behavior start
out as hunches, anecdotes, or ideological predispositions. Such theories
improve only when they have to confront evidence that the theorist cannot
control. In education, that seldom hapens.

The Black-White Test Score Gap
(Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press,
1998), p. 42.

I think the DoE was created (see HEW) early in the
Carter Administration (say around 1978) and that abolishing it was a plank in
Reagan’s campaign platform (unfulfilled). The animus against the DoE was
probably driven by the conviction that it was political payback to the
(politically) liberal NEA for its support of
Democrats, and by the expectation that the DoE would increase federal
intervention in education, properly to be seen as a matter for states and
localities. Then again, maybe not. You know, this stuff is history.

(US government) Department of Energy.
Design Of Experiment.
Diffractive Optical Element.
Female deer.
does not inspire confidence
An announcement for a new “orthapedics” list. (It reminds me of my
experience described at the PA entry.)
Does not promote tooth decay.
The US FDA has fairly precise guidelines one
when this claim can be made. According to rules published August 23, 1997 and
effective since January 1, 1998, the “does not promote tooth decay” claim may
be made on foods which are sugar-free even if they
contain other polyols [carbohydrates
like glycerine, which contain multiple alcohol (-OH) groups that may be
fermentable]. In cases where a product may contain fermentable carbohydrates,
FDA applies a plaque pH telemetry test developed by
TSI for assessing the noncariogenicity of the
product. This is an in vivo test that classifies a food as cariogenic
if pH falls below 5.7 after food is consumed.
DoF, dof
Degrees Of Freedom.
Depth Of { Focus | Field }.
To take off (clothing). A transitive verb, with clothing as the usual
direct object.
D. of I. (R)
Director OF Intelligence (Research). This abbreviation occurs in
The Wizard War, a book about British
intelligence in WWII. D. of I. (R)
was the title in the immediate post-war period of what had been the
A.D.I. (Sc) (q.v.) during the
war. [The “(q.v.)” is not part of the abbreviation!] With the new
title came, for a while, a place at the Joint Intelligence Committee, alongside
the Directors of Naval, Military, and Air Intelligence.
Distributed Optical-Fiber Sensing.
Canine. A domesticated species of wolf. Omnivorous. Comes in a
bewildering range of varieties, all of which can, at least in principle,
interbreed. It’s amazing, isn’t it, how all discussions always come
back to the two fundamental questions of origin: sex and etymology.

The word dog is an etymological mystery — a foundling. Coming
out of nowhere, it almost completely displaced the Germanic word
hound (German cognate Hund). Sure, dog comes from
Middle English dogge, and Old
English docga
, but before that, what?

For puns based on the dog-god metathesis, see
the Dyslexic Theologian entry.
There’s also a lightly-forced double pun at JPO.
There’s no pun at woof that I can hear, but
wolf may be pronounced with a “dark ell.” And the
fire dog is not the Saint Bernard of hot
California forests.

Daily Order Generation. A term in merchandise logistics.
Deutsche Ophthalmologische Gesellschaft,
Ophthalmological Society.
‘ They copped first! They have an
online tool for members called “My DOG”! They have “DOG working groups”
This is great. Woof-woof!

The organization was founded in 1857 by Albricht von Graefe. That’s sort of
doubly noble: in German surnames the word von, meaning `of,’ betokens
nobility, while Graefe means `earls.’ His organization’s acronym
normally takes a definite article: die DOG, mit der DOG, etc.
Die is the female article, so it’s a bitch. See also
SOE and AKC.

Difference Of Gaussians. A type of apodizing filter.
Disgruntled Old Graduate.

Dot On the Ground. An algorithm. Fetch!
A hunter or trapper of feral dogs. Dogging used to be an important
occupation in Australia, where sheep ranching has long been a major business.
Feral dog populations have been estimated in the many hundreds of thousands,
and annual losses to their depredations are estimated in the thousands of
sheep. A gang of dogs can bring down a cow. (Evidently, they have other food
sources.) Sheep ranchers say that dog attacks also traumatize their flocks.

Doggers have traditionally been paid privately, on the basis of a per-dog
bounty. There are still a few such doggers in Australia, but there are more
attractive occupational opportunities, and the population of doggers is getting
older. Although doggers will shoot dogs when the opportunity arises, most dogs
are caught in traps. Nowadays, the traps’ teeth typically have
strychnine-soaked rags wired to them, and that poison is usually what kills

Another control measure used by state governments and federal agencies has
been the air-dropping of poisoned bait, but there is concern that this bait
will be taken by endangered species, so such programs are always themselves
endangered. Besides doggers and poison, there is fencing. A 5,400-kilometer
barrier cuts off the south-east corner of the continent from the interior.
(For the sake of comparison, the Great Wall of China is 6,400 km long.)
Erected in the 1880’s, it’s usually been described as successful in keeping
dogs that roam the arid interior from crossing into sheep and cattle country.
I don’t know how they can be certain. There’s a movie about some aboriginal
children taken from their parents, who find their way home by following the
fence, but I can’t remember the title. There is currently (2006) a proposal
under study to build a 1,100-km fence in the northwest corner of the state of
Western Australia. It would stretch from Esperance in the south to Meekatharra
in the north-east, separating the “bleak” interior from the pastoral
properties closer to the Indian Ocean coast.

Australia has a variety of other feral populations besides dogs. These include
horses, cattle, goats, hog, donkeys, camels (!), water buffalo, dogs, cats,
rabbits, foxes, and mice. I suggest paving the interior. Using dogs to help
hunt feral hogs (or “feral pigs,” as they are more often called) is called
pig dogging (not dog pigging). The dogs used to find and attack wild boar and
flush them out of the brush are usually pit bulls, which came to be called
pigdogs by Australian hunters. The legality of
pigdogging is under state jurisdiction (outside of the national parks), and
varies across Australia. The legal situation is generally acknowledged to be
confusing. Certain styles of surfing, in which the surfer’s crouch is said to
resemble a pigdog’s posture as it hangs on a pig, are called pig dogging.

All three major Scrabble dictionaries
accept dogger and its regular plural. Not that it matters, but
OSPD and TWL, which
offer definitions, list it as a fishing vessel.

One kind of dogger that sounds intermediate between these is a crane chaser.
He also generally works outdoors. This kind of dogger attaches slings to
cranes and directs the movement of loads handled by cranes, maybe does a little
shoveling, and is occasionally crushed by accident. Oh– that kind of
crane! Anyway…

dog food
If you run out of Alpo or Science
, Eukanuba,
or whatever, you could try homework.
Dogs absolutely love to eat homework. Homework contains nutrients
essential to dog health. Don’t shred it, or they’ll think it’s just some
paper with ink on it. (For related information, see this FDR entry.)

Dog food is also a stage in the Microsoft
software development process, I was not surprised to learn. On the other hand,
Intel’s Moore speaks of how Intel must “eat its own children.” This must be
the difference between software and hardware.

Disgruntled Owners of General Motors Automotive Diesels.

Database Of Genome
. Provided by the Center for
Biological Sequence Analysis
Dual OverHead Cam(shafts). One to operate the intake valves, one to
operate the exhaust valves. More at
(US government)
Department of the Interior.

In common usage, the definite article is much more likely to be elided when
DOI is attributive (e.g.,
“Department of Interior administrative rulings”).

Digital Object
. “The DOI System is for identifying content objects in the
digital environment. DOI® names are assigned to any entity for
use on digital networks. They are used to provide current information,
including where they (or information about them) can be found on the Internet.
Information about a digital object may change over time, including where to
find it, but its DOI name will not change.”

Do I really impress you as someone who cherishes his or her liberal
Somewhat otiose question, though possibly sincere, especially considering
the gender ambiguity.
(US government) Department of Justice.
Despite the name, its main concern is actually with law enforcement. The
courts (judicial system) are a separate branch of government, independent of
the executive-branch DOJ, though whether it is judicious or just is similarly

The presidential security escort, called the Secret Service, is part of the
Treasury Department for historical reasons (like: that there didn’t used to
be a DOJ), or perhaps because the protection of the president is
motivated more by a desire for a stable currency than by any consideration
of justice. This might explain why secret service officers failed quietly
to assassinate Quayl when Bush (president 41) was ill, and thereby risked the
former’s becoming president.

The absence of the final e in Quayle’s name is not a misspelling. It’s a joke
— a reference to a famous misadventure he suffered when he returned to
elementary school. Already in December 2003, as I
was touching up the text, I restored the absent e. Fortunately, the editor
caught the incorrectly correctly spelled name, and now the correct misspelling
has been restored for your amusement. For help remembering the original
incident and for some of its Nachleben, see the FF
entry (french fried potatoes).

D.O.L. lesson
Daily Oral Language LESSON. An exercise conducted in elementary school,
often at the beginning of the school day, specifically dedicated to the
correction of pupils’ errors of grammar and usage in speech.
(US government) Department Of Labor.

Frances Perkins was FDR‘s Secretary of Labor, and
the first female member of a US Cabinet. They probably snuck that in under the
radar, spelling her name Francis often enough to make people think Frances was
the misspelling.

Data Warehousing and OnLine Analytical Processing. An annual conference
since 1998, sponsored by the ACM and held in
conjunction with the CIKM. I just hope it’s
pronounced doe-lap rather than dewlap. Cf. ROLAP.
dollar store
This is basically the five-and-dime, updated by a century. A no-frills
discount store, selling Brand X, Made in China, typically located in a
downscale or distressed strip mall. Around the turn of the century (I mean
around 2000), a dollar store was a small store that sold stuff (wicker and
plastic goods, paper, cleaning and basic hygiene products, boxed and canned
food, hand tools, novelties) that was priced at a dollar apiece, except maybe
some candy bars for a bit less. Right from the beginning, many “apiece”
shrank with time, and by 2005 a new model was dominant: a dollar store sold
stuff that was priced in round numbers of dollars, with a few items priced in
multiples of fifty cents. The sizes of the stores and the range of products
expanded, and the soap bars shrank more slowly.

As of mid-2009 the only traditional dollar store I know of is Dollar Tree. A
local Dollar Tree franchise (in Mishawaka, IN) fills a space of about 10,000
square feet, so it’s not as if there aren’t cheap items available to sell.
Dollar Tree is a good place to go to buy AAA batteries in packages of fewer
than 50, single items of silverware (two for a dollar), pickles that are not
packed so tightly into their jars, and mystery brands. That local Dollar Tree
is the only place I know where you can buy the Sunday edition of the South
Bend Tribune
for a discount (on the Sunday morning of issue, perhaps I
should add).

Most dollar stores are franchises of major chains like Dollar Tree and Dollar
General — buying in bulk must be part of the business model — but there are
also variations on the idea, and probably some independents. I don’t know if
that includes the 99-cent store I remember in Garwood, New Jersey. Back around
2004-2005, they had a going-out-of-business sale that lasted about a year.
They did in fact eventually close the store, but I wonder how much they

A June
24, 2009, story
in the Wall Street
begins thus:

When Cyrus Hassankola moved to Dallas a couple of years ago, after successfully
going out of business in several locales, he decided to settle down and go out
of business permanently [selling oriental rugs]. … Customers … would
sometimes say how sorry they were that he was going out of business. “We’re
not,” Mr. Hassankola told them. “It’s just the name of the store.”

The Texas AG‘s office objected to the name, so he
changed it to “Cyrus Rug Gallery” and started to advertise a sell-out ahead
of “the impending demolition and redevelopment” of the premises, apparently
based on a rumor that has not yet been proven true… or false. He says he’s
looking for a new location.

Dolly Lama
Someday in Tibet, they hope to sing “it’s so nice to have you back
where you belong!”
A person (usually an alum) associated with the
University of Notre Dame. The word is an allusion to
the famous golden dome on the central building of the campus. (Actually, some
of the newer buildings are of comparable height and more massive, and the
center of the campus by many reasonable definitions has moved east, but the
building is still iconic.)

Someone who has received two degrees from Notre Dame is called a
“double domer.”
The word “domer” is also used very loosely as an adjective meaning
“associated with Notre Dame.”

Digestible Organic Matter Intake.
Plural of Latin domus, `house.’
Domus Aurea
Latin for `golden house,’ known in English as
“the golden house of Nero” (and in French as
la maison dorée de Néron”; seems to be a pattern).
There was a great fire in Rome in A.D. 64, and Nero did not “fiddle while Rome
burned.” We know this because fiddles hadn’t been invented yet. We don’t
know what he was doing. He was out of town. He was away a lot, even when he
was around, partly because he was going out of his mind. He decided that he
was a great artiste and he neglected the daily chores of being Roman

Nero took the opportunity of the fire to expropriate an area of over 200 acres
in central Rome. There, between 65 and 68, he built a colossal palace
(domus was a single-family dwelling of variable size).
(When I say “he built,” I don’t mean with his own hands. In 66 he went off
to Greece for 15 months in search of religious enlightenment.) He laid out the
area as a park with various porticoes, pavilions, baths, and fountains, with an
artificial lake in the center. (The later emperor Vespasian had this drained
to make a site for the Colosseum.) The domestic wing of the palace stood on
the slopes of the Oppian Hill facing south across the lake. He didn’t get to
enjoy it for very long: in 68 he died, probably a suicide.

Director Of Nursing. I learned this at an elder care facility. Often,
unabbreviated terms (like “nursing home”) are euphemized away and acronyms
preserve an earlier usage.
A gully in a veldt. A word of autochthonous southern African origin.
Dongas are found there and on the Scrabble tablelands.
Donor-Organized Non-Governmental Organization. An NGO organized by donors.

This is probably the ideal point to make the following point about NGO’s: when
you incorporate, you have to select a name that is unique, at least so far as
the jurisdiction of incorporation is concerned. It’s a lot like trademarking.
An NPO could incorporate under the generic and not very helpful name DONGO, but
then a group that wanted to develop a cross between donkeys and Australian
dogs, or between dogs and bongos, could not be
incorporated by the same jurisdiction under that name. So always have a plan B
and maybe a plan C.

Deuterated nitrous acid. “DONO” is the structural formula, used as an
abbreviation. If you like, you can regard it as an acronym with the expansion
“Deuterium Oxygen Nitrogen Oxygen.” The ordinary form is called
A small city at an oxbow in the Monongahela,
some miles south of Pittsburgh. The city was incorporated in 1901, and its
name is a blend of NORA and DONner (details at
the end of the entry
A major disaster took place there
in 1948, when weather conditions resulted in the accumulation of exhaust from
industrial plants, particularly smelting plants, leaving 19 people dead. I
visited the place around 2005. I bought a six-pack of Iron City beer and did
other equally interesting things, and I also visited the public library to see
what I could learn about the historical disaster.

They didn’t have much information on it, but they did tell me that a few years
earlier somebody from Notre Dame had come and taped interviews with survivors
and made some kind of movie out of it (which they apparently didn’t think it
odd not to have a copy of). Back at Notre Dame, I haven’t been able to track
that down easily, but I’ll let you know if I do.

Perhaps an interest in Donora’s tragedy is an occupational hazard of working at
Notre Dame. Maybe it has to do with the bend in the river. Notre Dame is at
South Bend, Indiana. (Actually north of the center of that city, but wholly
outside the city limits.) South Bend is on the Saint Joseph River, which rises
generally southeastward from Lake Michigan (at the city of Saint Joseph,
Michigan), flows directly south from Niles, Michigan, and takes a sharp turn to
the east here. If this were the eighteenth century, and you were canoeing
south up the Saint Joseph, you might land in South Bend and portage west to
reach one of the tributaries of the Mississippi. The Saint Joseph does not
continue exactly eastward, and it turns out that the river’s southernmost point
is at the city of South Bend, whence the name.

Niles, Michigan, incidentally, is not named for the river in Africa. It’s
named for Hezekiah Niles, as explained at the
Niles entry.

Donora name:

On June 1, 1902, under the headline “How a Town’s Name Was Made,” the
New York Times printed a column-inch of news
from “The Pittsburg (Penn.) Times.” [Regarding the aitch missing from
“Pittsburg,” see the Pittsburg entry.]

Few persons know how the new town of Donora was given its name. It is
simple enough. The first syllable is part of the name of W.H. Donner,
President of the Union Steel Company, which started the town, and the last
syllable is the first name of Mrs. A.W. Mellon, the wife of one of those
heavily interested in the town and steel company.

Mr. Donner was in fact the industrialist whose enthusiasm drove the development
of the area that was named Donora. There’s an alternative story of the origin
of the name Donora that is based on the idea that Mrs. Mellon’s maiden name was
Donner. That would have been a bit of a coincidence, unless Mr. Mellon had
married a relative of his friend Donner. In any case, she was née
McMullin. I didn’t invent the “Nora Donner Mellon” story, but I helped
propagate it. Sorry.

Disturb Opponents’ NoTrump. A contract bridge
bidding convention known
by its initialism.
Don’t be so bloody literal-minded!
Don’t think!
don’t-care condition
Apathy. Anomie. Whatever.
Don’t let them tell you that …
Advice not to be taken too literally.
Don’t you see?
Look, on the basis of one mispronounced word, and my deep understanding
of the deeper significance of Freudian slips, I am prepared, free of charge,
to reveal you to yourself and tell you how to run your life. Hey, where
you goin’?
Don’t you worry your pretty little head about that.
When this phrase occurs in a wonderful old movie, it adds to one’s
understanding of the movie to recognize that this part of the script was
probably not originally intended to set your teeth on edge.
Don’t worry if that doesn’t make sense yet.
This phrase, often followed by “we will explain it later,” is a special
code phrase used by the authors of programming-language books. It means the
following: “The author of this book has been programming since he was a
twelve-year-old street urchin in the bad part of the slums of some third-world
city that has electricity and occasional running water. He dropped out of
school at age 14 to pursue database programming full time, and moved to the US
to receive a decent wage for the same work he was doing in Mexico or India or some other outsource location for five
dollars a day. Along the way, he learned just enough broken English to get by. Now he has
written the unedited $50 upchuck of words and fiendishly flawed sample code
before you. Good luck.”
Abbreviation for “Days Of Our Lives” that is standard in The tabloids tend to use “DAYS.”
Door Slam Method, Car
Method of assembling a music album: cobbling together movie background
tracks not integral to a movie. So called from the fact that the music
is dubbed into scenes of people getting into and out of cars. According to
Bruce Springsteen (more at CEO entry) in a June 1994
in Mother Jones magazine

The “soundtrack album” for the movie “The Graduate” was definitely
not made by the door slam method. The music was actually intelligently adapted
to what was going on in the movie. Most of the songs sound at least a little
bit different in the album, and a few are clearly different versions. (And the
sound quality is better, not very surprisingly.) I would have investigated
personally, but unfortunately that movie is not among the between 1¼ and
2¾ movies from the sixties that I am still able to stomach in their
entirety, so I have had to rely on infallible sources like Robin. Robin
claimed that “Mrs. Robinson,” though written for the movie, wasn’t
used in it. I passed that information along here (though of course I protected
my sources). The claim was apparently made nowhere else among the many
thousands of other web pages that mentioned this obscure song, so we had quite
a scoop … of something. According to an old FAQ
, the song is evidently used at least twice in the movie, though in at
least one instance it is a whistled rather than sung version. If you come back
to this entry later and it no longer mentions my good friend Robin, that’ll be
an indication that none of the versions used in the movie were sung.

The song was an enormous hit for Simon and
, spending four weeks at number one in 1968. It contains a lyric

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Joltin’ Joe wasn’t sure how to understand the lyric, and said in an interview
that he once took the opportunity to ask Rhymin’ Simon about it. Joe didn’t
reveal what answer he got, but it was evidently complimentary.

More about Mrs. Robinson is hidden somewhere in the Buffalo Bills entry. Go figure.

You know, that entry is so bloated, I’m just going to continue the thought
here. The thought concerns that movie (“The Graduate”). The graduate of the
title, Benjamin Braddock, has an affair with a Mrs. Robinson, who is supposed
to be old enough to be his mother. The characters are played by Dustin Hoffman
and Anne Bancroft, 30 and 36 years old at the time, respectively. Even before
it became illegal to make the contrary suggestion, it used to be said that
women are more (emotionally) mature than men of the same age, but this doesn’t
really cut it. At least Bancroft was older, so I guess you could say casting
got it qualitatively correct. Dustin Hoffman eventually went on to play an
unemployed actor who poses as a woman to get acting work in “Tootsie” (more
at the metastatic entry).

Now I think of it, one day I was in the car with [name actually omitted to
protect my privacy, can you imagine?] and she asked me how old I was. In the
years we’d been dating, it hadn’t ever come up. It turned out then that I was
twenty-five and she was thirty. She said “why-you’re-just a
baaaaaaaaabyyyyyyyy!!!!” I guess you could say she got that qualitatively
correct, but I won’t. She eventually married someone quantitatively (or
chronologically, as they say) older.

In the movie “Bridget Jones’s
” (2001), 32-year-old Renée Zellweger
plays a 32-year old woman (the title character) desperate to hook up
permanently. (Sort of like a mobile home, I guess.) The
other two vertices (or is it sides?) of her love triangle are played by Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, who were born on
September 9 and 10, respectively, 1960, or eight and a half years before
Romantic comedy is an amazingly limiting and even ritualized genre,
but because you’re a sensitive person, you thrill to the subtle wrinkles in
each new product. In this one, plucky-everygirl Bridget Jones
Mark Darcy, the Colin Firth character. According to the script, she was four
when he was eight. Bridget Jones says “That’s a pretty big age difference —
quite pervy really.” (Full disclosure: this might be a tendentiously selected
quotation.) (Further disclosure: the preceding full disclosure was not
complete. I’m not saying it wasn’t a full disclosure, just that it was not a
complete one — it was a partial full disclosure.)

The Chemical Key to Passion and Bliss, according to the cover of the
journal Psychology Today, September 1997.

A neurotransmitter amine. May be
abbreviated DA.

Dartmouth Oversimplified Programming Experiment. An experimental
programming language, predecessor of BASIC. See
this DART entry for others.
Double with 0 (aces), Pass with 1. A contract bridge
bidding convention
known by the pronunciation of how its initialism looks.
Another one is ROPI.

Beautiful Leila once coaxed me into being a
fourth for bridge — her partner — and tried to teach me the rules of the game
as it went along (kind of like life). All I learned was the verb to
, but at that stage I could at most coarse. Bridge is all
about social intercourse. I still regret every bid and every pass that I
remember not making that night. I was very, very DOPey. Now
Humiliation — that’s I game I know how to play.

Official IAU abbreviation
for the constellation.

The Large Magellanic Cloud is located in Dorado.

Defence Of the Realm Act. Passed by the British House of Commons without
debate on 8th August 1914, this act gave the government broad censorship and
eminent domain powers. It was amended over the course of
the war to give increased powers to the government.
Department Of Redundancy Department. A feature of the Firesign Theatre.
Doppel-Ring-Speicher. `Double storage rings’
at DESY in Hamburg.
Dorothy L. Sayers. Affectionate shorthand used in mystery mailing lists.
Denial Of Service. A form of service theft or merely malicious internet
Density Of States. The number of quantum states per unit interval
of energy or momentum or some other good quantum number. May be extensive
(counting total states in a volume or system) or intensive (counting states
per unit volume, area, or length).
Department Of State. The US Department of
is essentially what is called the Foreign Ministry in most other
English-speaking countries. The job of the State Department seems to be to
oppose the foreign policy of the President. The Secretary of State is the
nominal head of the DOS, selected by the President and approved by the Senate.
Within a few weeks of “taking over,” the Secretary of State goes native.

There are a number of US states with their own departments of state. I suppose
it’s cool to have a “state department of state” or a “State department”
that is only a single one of the “state departments,” but after a couple of
hundred years, I think the novelty starts to wear thin. The US Constitution
(Art. I, Sec. 10, and elsewhere) limits the power of states to conduct
individual foreign policy (although governors regularly head delegations
seeking to expand foreign trade). State departments of state are generally not
ministries of the exterior but of the interior.

For example, the “State of New Jersey
Department of State
” seems to be something of a catch-all, with
responsibility for elections, volunteer programs, arts programs, tourism,
American Indian affairs, and scattered other stuff. The
Florida Department of State” seems
to be only slightly less scattered, with a stronger emphasis on elections.
(And really, as the 2000 elections showed, that may already be more than they
can handle.) The “Pennsylvania
Department of State
” has just “five bureaus that work for the public.”
No mention of any bureaus that work against the public, so it sounds pretty
focused. The links to the five are labeled “Elections, Licensing,
Corporations, Charities,” and “Athletics.” Athletics? “Each [bureau] is
unique in function and all are vital to the strength of our Commonwealth.”
It’s looking like Pennsylvania might be critical in the 2008 elections. Watch

Disk Operating System. That is, an operating system (OS) stored on disk.

In common parlance, refers to MS-DOS or PC-DOS, a CP/M-like set
of commands (that is not technically an operating system) that IBM bought from Microsoft for the IBM-PC. (On those
early IBM PC’s, it used to reside on floppy disks.)

John DOS Passos.
dosemu, DOSEmu, DOSEMU
DOS EMUlator. “[A] linux application that enables the Linux OS to run many [MS-]DOS
programs – including some DPMI apps.”
A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue from the Twelfth Century to
the End of the Seventeenth, founded on the collections of Sir William A.
. Edited by William Craigie, A. J. Aitken, James A.C. Stevenson,
Harry D. Watson, Margaret G. Dareau, and K. Lorna Pike, and published starting
in 1931. The closest Scottish equivalent to the OED.
The OUP has been slowly reprinting the DOST volumes
since 1983 (vols. 1-5 — A-C, D-G, H-L, M-N, O-Pn — that year; much more
slowly afterwards). I hear tell that the SNDA is
selling it too.

Be aware that paperback publications of DOST are actually sub-sections of the
hardback volumes. In principle, one paperbound “part” or fascicle is
supposed to be issued annually, and every four or five years the recent ones
are bound into a hardback volume.
Part XLIV, “S(c)hake to S(c)hot,” is dated 1996 (it came out in Dec. 1995),
and our library doesn’t seem to have received any subsequent parts.

For something you can hold completely in one hand, try the CSD.

Serbo-Croatian word meaning `enough.’ Used as an adjective, adverb, and
stand-alone interjection approximately as in English. (Dosta! Enough!)

In Spanish, the adjective and adverb is
bastante, but the interjection is ¡basta! — `it suffices!’
— from the verb bastar.

In Hindi, bas is the adjective, adverb, and interjection `enough,’ and
this is evidently related to Persian bas. I’ve heard a Sikh mother tell
her son bascaro! (Punjabi `enough’).

Not every Indo-European language has a bas cognate, obviously. English
Enough is cognate with German genug.

That should do for now.

Department Of Transportation. The US
government’s DOT
is pronounced as an initialism (“dee oh tee”), except
perhaps when written “US DOT.” It has become popular for individual US states to call their own departments of roads
(plus whatever, and whatever else) by acronyms
ending in DOT pronounced like the ordinary word dot. Examples include
KDOT, and PennDOT (relevant information at the PA entry). In fact, the practice has become widespread!

In a disturbing display of concord, North and South Carolina use NCDOT
and SCDOT, and North and South
Dakota use NDDOT and SDDOT. (Yes, I do mean respectively.
It isn’t necessary to say the obvious all the time, the way I’m doing in this
parenthetical.) We’re going to examine this important trend in greater depth,
not exhaustively by systematically. First we’ll do

The Vowel States.

Alabama took ALDOT, which isn’t
exactly euphonious, but better than AKDOT. Alaskans must’ve thought the same;
they have a DOT&PF (Department of
Transportation and Public Facilities).
Arizona uses ADOT.
Arkansas is experimenting with Arkansas State Highway and Transportation
(AHTD). This is one of the benefits of federalism: an
innovative idea (a lunacy) can be tried out in just one state first, and if
it fails there it can be tried out again nationally. This is why so many US
presidents have been former governors.

IDOT (“Aye, Dot!’) is used by
Illinois, but written out it looks,
uh, dumb. Neighboring I-states Indiana and Iowa use
Iowa DOT.
When your state name is short enough to look like an acronym, you’ve got plenty
of space left over on the truck door. Idaho went with ITD (Idaho Transportation Department).
I’m not surprised, really. Idaho is “way out there,” and I don’t just mean
way out west. You know, “… way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and
a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back — that’s like an
earthquake.” Oh, sorry, that’s Willy Loman. Whatever. (Accurate and more
complete excerpt at the dast entry.)

ODOT is used by Ohio,
, Oregon. Bosons,

Utah has UDOT all to itself.

There aren’t any E states, so we have space for

The Semivowel States:

WashDOT is used somewhat, but Washington State’s DOT is officially
WSDOT, possibly because washdot sounds
too much like what happens to roads in the wet western part of the state.

Wisconsin uses DOT and also
to a certain extent, though not currently (2004) on the homepage.
Perhaps this is deprecated, in the computer sense of being understood but
superseded. That would be a good thing, because the voicing of the letter dee
in WisDOT likely leads many to pronounce this “Wiz dot.” That doesn’t mean
anything, precisely, but what it means imprecisely isn’t good.

Wyoming uses WYDOT. Why not?

West Virginia has a WVDOT. I never noticed before how much “WV”
looks like “VW.” West Virginia sells
“Officially Licensed NASCAR® and
NASCAR® Driver Plates” on line. They call this “Bridging the E-Commerce
Gap.” I call it playing to type. (“Collect the
entire series of your favorite NASCAR®
drivers!” What, a different plate for every block-mounted car-cass in my

West Virginia brings us back to

The States With Two-Word Names,

in every case share a word with another state. What about the New states?
NMDOT, … boring, boring, and
boring. Oh goodie, NYSDOT, for New
York State. Someone got a gray-flannel suit with slightly larger
belt-loops. Could that be pronounced “nice dot”? I guess it could

The remaining en’s? Nevada takes no
(the house never does): its chips go on
NDOT. And Nebraska goes with … NDOR! Yes!
They probably figured Kansas made such good publicity with its Good Witch of
the North, they should try a witch connection too. (I’m writing this stuff
during “Reading Days.” There’s nothing else to do. That’s my excuse.) It
stands for “Department of Roads.” More at the ENDOR entry eventually, perhaps, I suppose, in your

There are

Other States That Have To Share A First Initial

of course.
Virginia took VDOT. Vermont has an
Agency of Transportation. It would
be sooo-ooo-ooo cool if they called it VAT, but they
call it VTrans, which sounds like a bus service.

Exams are coming up soon and we’ll only have time for one more contested
initial, so let’s cut to the em’s. As you know, the we’re-not-a-boy-band! boy
band of brothers Hanson had a big
hit with MDOT. Who can forget those bittersweet lyrics —

In an mdot they’re gone.
In an mdot they’re gone. In an mdot they’re not there
In an mdot they’re gone. In an mdot they’re not there
In an mdot they’re gone. In an mdot they’re not there
In an mdot they’re gone. In an mdot they’re not there
Until you lose your hair. But you don’t care.
(repeat chorus if you can stand it)

Oh, I guess I forgot the lyrics. It’s not mdot but
mmmbop. Of course! That way the lyrics make much more sense.
Let’s compare what the various mmmstates do. Michigan:
Oops, that’s all we have time for, sorry.

(My favorite StateDOT is DelDOT. It’s the
reason I wrote this entry at all.)

(US government)
Department of the Treasury
of Occupational Titles
DMIS Object Technology.
DMIS (q.v.) is the Dimensional Measuring
Interface Standard.
DOTBAM, dotbam
The on-line subsidiary or division of a traditional bricks-and-mortar (BAM) business, as opposed to a dotcom
dot-bomb, dot-bomb
A dotcom that bombed.
dotcom, DOTCOM, dot-com, dot com
An e-business. Especially one that is a no-capital start-up with no
bricks-and-mortar (BAM) customer area. Especially
one whose programming gerbils survived by eating stock options washed down
with coffee. Especially one that went out of business in 2001 after never
turning a profit. Cf. DOTBAM.

Name taken from the most popular TLD (particularly
for retailers).

DOTF, D.O.T.F., DotF
Defender Of The Future.
Ecco the Dolphin is
a side-scrolling video game first released in 1992, about a future world in
which humans and dolphins have joined together in a moist ecological alliance.
Let’s all burble Kumbaya together and hug a tree, or a sea sponge or something.
One of the releases is called Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future.

Here’s something from a review of Ecco the Dolphin: DOTF that I found sadly
amusing: “…most of your first hour will be spent getting to grips with
Ecco’s simple, intuitive control system and marvelling at the beautiful
graphics.” (This is from page 317 of the same reference quoted at the
virtual entry.)

DOT Force
Digital Opportunity Task FORCE.
double entendre
French for `double entendre.’ Except it
isn’t. Apparently it has a different meaning in French. If you want
real information, you should take a gander at the entry for the Heidelberg United Soccer Club.
double imperial
Twelve-liter resealable container for ethanol-water solutions. That
suggests that a single imperial would hold six liters, but that doesn’t seem to
be a named standard size. The jeroboam holds
five liters.

On July 28, 2004, Beringer Vineyards unveiled a larger bottle at its winery in
St. Helena, California. The four-and-a-half-foot bottle was filled with 2001
Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (which
suggests that they don’t plan on letting it settle very long). It is claimed
to be the world’s largest bottle of wine, and officials of the Guinness Book of
Records were on hand to certify the event.

double negative
A pregnant woman not from Hong Kong whose husband is also not from Hong
Corroborated by a second liar. Journalism’s
gold standard of accuracy.
double tradition
Material found in approximately similar form in the gospels of Matthew
and Luke, but not in Mark (or in Jeroboam,
for that matter). Cf. triple
, Sondergut.
double vibration
This embarrassingly flat-footed term is used by music theorists to mean
cycle or period. For example, the Thompson’s International
Cyclopedia of Music and Musicians
defines pitch as “[t]he identity of a sound according
to the number of double vibrations produced per second.”
Data Over Voice (line).
An ugly government neologism. See
downside risk

Okay, that’s correct, but there’s a little history to it. Back in the sixties,
economics modeling was grappling with the problem of what mathematical measure
to use for risk. That is: how to quantify risk. Many of the proposed
quantifiers were “downside measures,” which quantified the probability of,
say, price decreases but not increases. One example of a downside
measure of risk is the semivariance, which is essentially the price variance
computed by considering only negative deviations from the mean (price). (Of
course, it’s a mathematical fact that this is exactly half of the ordinary
variance.) In the end, perhaps primarily because of its formal convenience,
familiarity and simple properties, standard deviation (the square root of
variance) was widely adopted. It does have a couple of attractive properties
from the practical economic point of view: it does more heavily weight large
deviations (than does average deviation, say) and thus incorporates the notion
of a “comfort zone” of unalarming small price fluctuations. Also, it is a
linear measure, so it can be compared directly (i.e., dollars to
dollars). [That’s really also a disadvantage, because it gives people the
mistaken notion that they understand it, since it is some number of dollars.]
However, strictly speaking the standard deviation in price is a measure of
price volatility. One may say that downside volatility is closer to a
precise notion of risk, and because theoretical discussions now usually assume
that “risk” is volatility, “downside risk” is not an utterly meaningless,
stupid phrase. Just an ugly one.

The above is something of a guess.

downtown Holland
I like the idea that Holland has a downtown. Holland itself is in Western
Michigan, a region heavily settled by Dutch Calvinists, some time ago. The main industry in
Holland seems to be Hope College, located
downtown. I visited in early February 2003 to see the
special exhibit of Michael Ayreton’s work
(sculptures, mostly) based on the


Myth of Daedalus. While there I had lunch in a student cafeteria, where
sixties rock was playing over the PA system.
Ninety-six Tears came on (you know — by [question mark] and the Mysterians?),
and some kid on the north side of the room started grooving to it. He couldn’t
have been much more than a spermatozoon when the sixties were a decade in the
can. I’m sure this is very meaningful and significant, but I’m just
doing data collection here. Insight will have to come later, when some
imaginative think-piece writer like Claude
digests the data from all this precise ethnological
work. Still, I think it made me understand a little better how Schubert might
have felt forty years after he died, if he had lived that long. (A
it’s not unreasonable that Franz Schubert might have lived forty
years longer than he actually did. He died at the age of 31. Claude
Lévi-Strauss, by contrast, lived to be 100.)

The Holland visit was a side-trip on my way to a dinner date with Gail. Gail
grew up in Detroit, and she explained that my
Hope College observations did not mislead me: the western part of lower
Michigan is strange. It’s always good to get input from researchers on
the ground.

This just in — more anthropological data from Holland, Michigan. Jon Blake
Cusack talked his wife Jamie into naming their son Jon Blake Cusack
Version 2 was born January 27, 2004. Jamie Cusack said she figured that she
got to pick out the theme of the baby’s room and other things, so she “decided
to let Jon have this.” (Welcome to Narcissism 102.) I imagine by now they’re
already expecting for next year — 2.1.

The software-release analogy reminds me of 1984. In
January of that year Apple launched its Macintosh
line with a memorable
that was based loosely on the “Two-Minutes Hate” (hate
Emmanuel Goldstein) sessions of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. (Yes! A
Goldstein variation.) At the Democratic Party convention in San Francisco that
July, Jesse Jackson gave
most eloquent speech
. (Everyone said he gave a very nice speech. That was
the same convention where Mario Cuomo gave a mediocre speech that everyone
praised as moving and eloquent. This proves that people generally have worse
judgment than I do.) Here’s one of the lines from Jesse’s speech:

God is not finished with me yet.

Just like Microsoft.

Just to continue the remakes theme — in 2007, a political
attack ad against Hillary Clinton was put up on
<> (it was made by
someone who turned out to be associated with the
Obama campaign). The ad was a remake of the 1984
Apple ad.

Dissolved Organic Halogen
(X). Cf. TOX.
Do you know the one thing that’s really despicable?
Rhetorical questions masquerading as conversation. As if demanding an
impossible answer were letting someone get a word in edgewise. Typically,
such questions are intended to demonstrate the questioners’ superior knowledge,
but in fact demonstrate their inferior imagination. The proper polemical
strategy with a rhetorical question, if you don’t have a snappy smart reply
(and often even if you do) is to ignore it, or at least not answer it directly.
You could do worse than reply with the counterquestion above. If your
interlocutor takes the bait, you can use some of the definition here to
“break service” in your conversational match.

Study this entry well, and be prepared. Staircase wit is bitter in the throat.

Do you want ethernet in this room too?
Yeah, two on the far wall and one by the toilet paper (TP) dispenser.
BullDOZER. Earth-moving equipment. A tractor with a broad blade pushing
bulky objects and for leveling the ground or stuff on it.

The term arose in the US during Reconstruction, as “bull dose,” specifically
a bull dose of punishment, usually flogging. To judge from contexts offered by
the OED, these doses were generally originally
delivered in a highly race-prejudiced manner, but later the courtesy was
extended to all races. The verb meant to administer this flogging, or by
extension to coerce by force. The word bull-doser applied to the sort of
person who would, could, or looked like he might bull-dose. Somewhere along
the way the ess must have gotten to be voiced,
probably after or as the original motivation of the term was forgotten.
Bulldozer, apparently never with an ess, was used by 1881 to mean a
large pistol. Bulldozer, in the sense of a machine for flattening the
inanimate opposition of earth, was in use by 1930.

Georgia-based manufacturer of barbells and
other instruments of self-torture. If I knew what DP stood for, I’d tell you.

Dislocated, Perhaps.
Data Processing.
Degree of Polymerization. The (typical, average, etc.) number of
monomer units in a polymer chain.
Dial Pulse. See pulse dialing entry.
Differential Pressure.
Digestible Protein.
Displaced Person. Abbreviation best and most sadly remembered from DP
camps, where enormous numbers of WWII survivors
waited to return home, if it was there to return to, or start a life elsewhere.
Distributed Proofreaders. See PGDP.
Domestic Partner. Someone with whom you share significant furniture.
Double Play. A defensive play in baseball, where two runners are put
out while the ball is in play. A `4-3′ double play would typically be one
in which the second baseman (player designated 4 in box score sheet)
fields the ball and makes an unassisted put-out (force at second, or tag
runner coming from first) and throws to the first baseman, who puts out the
batter running to first. Since, even in baseball, a majority of players
bat right-handed, playable balls are more commonly hit to left field, and
probably the most common DP is `6-4-3′: shortstop fields the ball, tosses
to second baseman, who has run to second as the play develops, who forces
the runner to second out and jumps out of the way (the runner is sliding
so as to break up the double play), spins and throws to first for the
force-out there.

When I was in graduate school one October, a graduate student in the English
department walked into the crowded TV room and, after vaguely discerning the
focus of attention, asked aloud how many games there were in the World Series.
The first answer she received was “Are you an American?” from a Tigers

Dual Process{ ing | or }.
Dynamic Programming.
Destructive Physical Analysis.
Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
Diagnostic Pharmaceutical Agent. A DPA is an optometrist who is authorized
to use pharmacological methods to diagnose diseases of the eye. The first DPA
law in the US (allowing qualified optometrists to act as DPA’s) was enacted by
Rhode Island in 1971. Cf. TPA. This all
seems to blur the distinction between optometrists and ophthalmologists.
Distributed Power Architecture.
DOD Protocol Architecture.
Drug Policy Alliance. An
alliance of George Soros’s money with NORML ideas.


Duke Papyrus Archive.
Durable Power of Attorney.
DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. At the
University of Notre Dame.

There ain’t no DPAC Shakur.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. California, at least, allows
the DPAHC by statute. In many other states, the closest equivalent is the
“living will.”
Demand Priority Access Method. Originally developed at Hewlett-Packard
Draft Proposed ANS.
Durable Power of Attorney for Property Management.
Digital Private Branch eXchange (PBX).
{ Differential | Delta } Pulse Code Modulation
(PCM). Differential in the sense that one only
encodes changes between successive samples.

An idea that helped make fax practical was the recognition that an efficient
compression scheme is to encode only changes in density.

Double-Pole, Double-Throw. “Double-pole” means that there are
effectively two electrically isolated switches, but that they are ganged so
that they can only be switched simultaneously. “Double-throw” means that the
switch can be “thrown” into either of two positions that make an
electrical connection
. A position in which the switch can only be open —
i.e., an off position that one cannot tap in to, is not counted among
the throws. A DPDT switch may have one, two, or three rest positions. A DPDT
switch with one rest position is called a DPDT momentary. (The rest position
may be open or it may be one of the throws.)

A DPDT switch would be appropriate for switching ordinary two-phase power
between either of two alternative loads or for switching an appliance between
either of two AC power supplies. (With three-phase
power, the same applications would require triple-pole double-throw switches.)
Another application of DPDT switches would be in selecting which of two
alternative phones is connected to an ordinary (two active wires) phone line,
or which of two phone lines is connected to a particular phone. If you were
switching a single line among three phones, or a single phone among three
lines, you would use a double-pole triple-throw switch.

Data (link) Protocol Data Unit.
DP Europe
Distributed Proofreaders EUROPE. The
second DP site, on the web starting in January 2004. The original DP (see PGDP), based in
the US, makes etexts in ISO Latin-1
character set (suitable for most Western European languages), primarily of
English texts. DP Europe uses UTF-8 and is doing texts in various Eastern
European languages, although roughly half of the early texts are in Western
European languages. At least until some expected Asian sites are up, it is
anticipated that some other non-Roman-alphabet work will be done at DP Europe.

Michael Hart (see PG entry) has authorized two or
more PG groups in Europe.
DP Europe is led by Zoran Stefanovic and will operate from
Belgrade. (It’s part of Ratsko. I don’t know what Rastko is exactly, though
it seems to comprise a collection of cultural preservation projects.) There is
a separate PG-EU based in the Netherlands, which
apparently will also do distributed proofing.

As of this writing (Jan. 28; one day after official
DP Europe announcement) the European operations are at various testing stages,
so the situation is a bit fluid and the division of labor remains to
be worked out.

Netherlands, like all of the EU, follows a Life+70
rule in copyright protection. The EU and the US (also +70) both are trying in
their separate ways to extend the rule of that law. Serbia (like Canada and
Australia) follows Life+50 as of 2004, so the
siting may offer some flexibility. Although the jurisdictional issues are not
clear, it seems to be agreed that some works are in the public domain in
Serbia that are not so in the EU or US, and it will be possible to proof and
serve them from a PG Europe there (once Serbian servers are used) though not at
PG-INT or PG-EU. However, Serbia
is expected to join the EU in
2008 or later, and is starting the “harmonization” process. Australia is in
trade negotiations with the US, and Life+50 –>+70 is on the table.
(There’s a PG-AU, and as of this writing there
are some very preliminary moves toward a PG-CA.)

Physikalische Gesellschaft
(German Physical Society).
Digital Pattern Generator.
DiPhosphatidylGlycerol. Same as bisphosphatidylglycerol.
DiPropyleneGlycol. An emulsifier for lye and fat (may be used in
DiPhenyl Hexatriene.
DPI, dpi
Dots Per Inch. An inch is an American inch, because other countries
with their own excellent systems of units have foolishly discarded them in
favor of the SI. In France, in particular, the inch was unusually long, so
Napoleon’s height given in conventional units seemed low when interpreted
(incorrectly) with the scales of other lands (although I think the Prussian
inch was an enormous exception). Well, I’ve read this, whether I believe it
or not. It does sound like the bureaucrats’ revenge, because Napoleon rightly
perceived that metrification was a stupid idea. Unfortunately, he had bigger
fish to fry.

In the US, the centimeter has been defined as exactly 50/127 inch,
sort-of. DPI is also the initialism of the slightly
Orwellian-sounding UN Department of Public

Double-Pendulum Interferometer.
Death Penalty Information
. A group opposed to the death penalty that presents itself as
an unbiased source of information. News organizations helpfully cooperate
by regarding their their press releases as news and describing the DPIC as
“a nonprofit research group in Washington” vel sim. In contrast,
organizations that favor the death penalty are identified as “the
conservative Washington Legal Foundation” or “the pro-execution Texas group, Justice for All” (q.v.).
Distributed Proofreaders INTernational. Starting in 2004, there is a
separate DP Europe site distinct from the
original DP (information mostly at the PGDP entry), so the latter is distinguished as DP-INT.
Democratic Party of Japan.
(Minshuto.) It was originally created in 1996 by dissenters from other
parties including 57 members of the Diet. It was relaunched in 1998 as the
“new” DPJ, when it absorbed various other small opposition parties. (Or when
those parties merged to form a new DPJ, absorbing some other parties’
dissenters in the process, as the relaunch spin had it.)

The emergence of the DPJ represents a qualitative change in Japanese politics
— the possibility of something like a two-party system. DPJ is now (ahead of
the snap general election called for September 2005) large enough to credibly
challenge the LDP for the status of largest party, a
status it has held firmly since 1958. The closest previous parallel is the SDP when it was led by Takako Doi. The SDP briefly
achieved parity with the LDP in the upper house of the Diet in the early
1990’s, and was the largest party in the coalition that kept the LDP out of
government for a few months in 1993-4.

In the Summer of 2005, 60 years after the end of
WWII, Germany and Japan find themselves in similar
circumstances. Both countries experienced spectacular sustained growth for
decades after the war, and both
economic engines stalled after 1990.
Both countries have been making painful economic reforms, the leaders moving
slowly against resistance within their own constituencies. Following votes
that went against them, both countries’ leaders (in a move unpopular with their
fellow party-members) dissolved their governments and called early elections
for September 2005. In both elections, the principal question is the pace and
direction of economic reform, and in both countries a new party is changing the
electoral dynamic. (In Germany the new party is die Linkspartei, `the
Left Party.’)

I am reminded of some famous lines I misunderstood for years, from
RWE‘s “Ode Inscribed to W.H. Channing”:

Things are in the saddle,
And ride mankind.

In the Japanese elections on September 11, PM Koizumi’s gamble paid off. The
LDP increased its share of seats in the 480-member lower house of the Diet to
296, up from 249 before the election, reversing a decade-long slow decline.
The most seats the LDP ever held was 300 in 1986, when the lower house had a
total of 512 seats. The LDP and its coalition partner, the Buddhist-supported
New Komeito Party, together now hold 327 lower-house seats, exceeding the
two-thirds majority needed to override any veto by the upper house. I think
most people realize now that 63-year-old Koizumi is a rock star. (The
following Summer, on a state visit to the US, the rock star visited Graceland,
where he did one of his Elvis impressions. Memphis, in Tennessee as in Egypt,
is an ancient shrine. But visiting this one doesn’t get the PM in much trouble
with Japan’s neighbors.)

The day after the 2005 elections, DPJ president Katsuya Okada conceded defeat
and announced his resignation. During the campaign, he had already said he
would resign in the event of a defeat, and the defeat was severe: the DPJ
crashed from 175 seats to 113, holding onto only one seat in Tokyo, a former
stronghold. Seiji Maehara became DPJ president on September 17. There had
been speculation that DPJ would break up as a result of the electoral defeat,
but they’re still in existence as of June 2006, the current update of this
entry. This month also, a hefty tax increase kicked in (something like an
increase in the withholding percentage for social security), while
social-security benefits are being reduced. That ought to give them a fillip.
(There is a downside to high life-expectancy, as SciFi writers in large numbers
were pointing out in the 1950’s. It isn’t helped any by a birth dearth —
something not so widely foreseen then.)

This obscure corner of the glossary is just the sort of place I would choose to
mention the fact that what used to be called “the Diet” is nowadays called
“Japan’s Parliament” in English-language news stories. I’ll have to look
into why and when this change happened, but I imagine that the underlying cause
is a discomfort people feel with this acception of the word diet. The
precise etymology of this word is unclear, but it’s certainly related to the
German word Tag (as in Bundestag, the lower and more powerful
house of the current German parliament, and Reichstag, the corresponding
assembly of the Weimar republic). In Spanish,
the German lower house is called dieta.

The week after the decisive result in the Japanese elections, Germany had a
very inconclusive election that was expected to lead to a coalition government
— probably a grand coalition — and
gridlock on many major issues.

Digital Power Line.
Digital phase-locked loop. A use for
Decays Per Minute.
Deputy Prime Minister.
Digital Panel Meter. A flat-panel digital display with integrated
Analog-to-Digital conversion (ADC), so device
takes analog input.
DOS Protected-Mode Interface.
Portable Mathematics Library
Defects Per Million Opportunities. Term used by six-sigmoids in service-industry management.
DOS Protected-Mode Service[s].
Detroit Parent Network, founded in 2002 or maybe early 2003.

In 2009, eighteen large US cities participated in the the federally-sponsored
National Assessment of Educational Progress. The
math results came out around December 10, 2009, and they showed Detroit firmly
in last place, with 69% of fourth-graders and 77% of eighth-graders scoring
below the basic level, the lowest levels in the 40-year history of the test.
(Reading scores would be released in 2010.) Speaking on Saturday, December
12, DPN executive director Sharlonda Buckman reacted to the news:

Somebody needs to go to jail.
Somebody needs to pay for this.
Somebody needs to go to jail,
And it shouldn’t be the kids.

(I didn’t hear her say it, but it was obviously sung.)

After the song, she asked for go-to-jail volunteers from the audience of 500
parents. That’s amazing! Gosh, let me check that. No! She said that
teachers should go to jail. That’s a great idea: there they can finally
meet many of the parents who never show up for parent-teacher conferences. It
might give a kind of fillip to teacher recruiting, too.

Tonya Allen, a founding member of DPN, said “They could have took this test in
French and done just as bad.” Gosh, there just
full of great ideas.

Digital Private Network Signaling System.
Dial Pulse Originate.
Documentary Proof of Origin. A term used in shipping, for something
commonly required. In the antiquities trade, no one would be so crass as
to demand such a thing — everything was stolen, at some point.
Distortion-Product OtoAcoustic Emission[s] (OAE).
OAE’s arising from nonlinear response (distortion) of the cochlea. For
stimulus frequencies f1 and f2 , the
strongest response appears to be for the lowest-order harmonics that are
close to the applied frequencies
(2f1 – f2) and
(2f2 – f1) when
f1 and f2 are close).
Pulse Polarography
DiPhenylimide Perylene. A dye used in electrophotography.
Whatever it is, it serves as a standard sample for calibrating
EPR apparatus. (See, for example,
Siegfried Nitschke’s

It’s probably 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (below). As a stable
radical, this presumably has a wonderfully strong EPR signal, but don’t
take my word for it–I’m a spectral innocent.

/ ___
/ /
___/ / O N
_____/ ²
/ ___
N—N___/ / ___NO
/ ___/ / ²
_____/ _____/
/ ___ /
/ / /
___/ / O N
_____/ ²

Democratic People’s Republic. One-party communist dictatorship.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. North Korea. See .kp.
Department of Public Safety. The Police, but it sounds more dignified
(and less ambiguous) than “Drunks, Vagrants, and No-Goods `R’ Us.”
Double Page Spread. Layout on two facing pages of a multipage document.
Differential Phase-Shift Keying.
Diode-Pumped Solid State [laser].
Double-pole, single throw. A pair of ganged switches, each with two
rest positions, one in which the circuits are open, and one it which they
each close a single circuit.
Dial Pulse Terminate.
Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus. A standard triple vaccination or “triple
booster” given to protect children from once-quite-fatal childhood diseases.
Actually, world-wide they are still quite fatal; pertussis (whooping cough)
alone still kills ~350,000/yr.
DeParTuRe. Airline fare abbreviation. Why doesn’t
this list of abbreviations
have anything for arrival?

From what I recall, the FAA considers a flight to have departed on time if it
pulls away from the gate no more than fifteen minutes after the stated
departure time. If it spends the next few hours on the tarmac awaiting
clearance for take-off, that’s not a late departure, just your bad luck (though
it might lead to a delayed arrival). The reason you have to wait is that the
FAA imposes a minimum separation between flights, which in turn puts an upper
bound on the rate at which flights can take off. Airlines ignore this and
schedule large numbers of flights to depart at virtually the same time.

Defense Programs Transportation Risk Analysis.
Department of Public Works. Here’s a
to the DPW for Westfield, New Jersey.
DPW, DP World
Dubai Ports World.
Dairy Queen. A chain of ice cream restaurants.
dq, DQ
DisQualif{ ication | ied | y }.
Distributed Queue Dual Bus. Defined by IEEE 802.6.
Differential Quantum Efficiency.
Double Quantum Filtered COrrelation SpectroscopY
Dynamic Quality
. As opposed to static quality improvement, I guess, as occurs
with wine.
Double Quantum Well. See CQW.
Democratic Republic (of).
Diffuse Reflectance.
Dining Room.
DoctoR. Any kind of doctor.

Not “Docter.” According to a short piece in the Fall 1992 Radical
History Review
entitled “Spellcheck Saves Lives!” (pp. 205-6),

One of our faithful readers recently sent us a clipping . . . . ‘TEACHER
According to the story, ‘nerdy college professor [tautology] Jon Frankel,’ an
English teacher in New Zealand, ‘went crazy when freshman Bill Parnell spelled
“doctor” with an “e” instead of an “o” and shot
the boy to death.’ The professor at Auckland Business College
allegedly told police that he had no remorse over the shooting, ‘because
spelling errors are not only inexcusable, they’re a crime against language.’

The RHR columnist then goes on to fantasize about a class visit by then-US Veep J. Danforth Quayle: “Go ahead, Danny, make my
day . . .”

More on spelling at the Liouville entry.

It is said that Rep. Carl Perkins, when he was chair of the House Education
Subcommittee, instructed his staff to address every country school principle as “doctor” — saying that
you never got in trouble that way.

For more on that, visit the Ph.D. entry.

DooR. Cognate with German Tur. The pronunciation difference is mainly in
the initial consonant, an example of a systematic shift from (initial,
asirated) /d/ to /t/ took
place in High-German languages. Other examples of cognates illustrating this
shift include English deer and German Tier (meaning `animal’),
Eng. dead and Ger. todt (same meaning), and do,
Doctora. Spanish, `[female] doctor.’
Used as a title, just like Dr. (Doctor, `[male] doctor’).
(UK) Defence Research Agency.
Official IAU abbreviation
for the constellation.
dracaena, dracena
A plant that is found in tropical regions and in some parts of the
Scrabble tablelands. (That is,
accept only the dracaena spelling; OSPD4
accepts both.)
Diccionario de la Real
Academia española
`The dictionary of the Royal
Spanish Academy.’
Dynamic Reconfigurability Assisting Fault-Tolerance. An approach to
flexible multiprocessing and fault-tolerant computing. An architecture that
uses a high-speed controller that provides an interface for message-passing
among a large number of computing subsystems. Has been implemented using
DiRect Access to Geophysics
On the Net
. From the Geological Survey of Norway.
An old unit of weight and liquid measure in various “conventional”
systems, including American and British. The dram is an eighth of the
corresponding ounce in fluid measure and in troy and apothecary weights, and a
sixteenth of an ounce in the avoirdupois weights. [Rel. to drachma of Greece.]
In Britain, the variant drachm was used principally for apothecary and
troy weights, and less for avoirdupois, back when these were all in use there.

Here is a fine smudge
dealer who still understands drams.

Dynamic RAM. [Pron. “Dee-ram.”] DRAM tends
to be somewhat slower but cheaper than SRAM. In DRAM, each bit of memory
is represented by charge stored or not stored on a capacitor. “Dynamic”
in that, over time, the charge dissipates, requiring periodic cycles of
reading and rewriting. (A typical refresh time is a few ms.) Original
design used three transistors per bit (“3T-cell”) with separate read and
write leads. Density was improved with subsequent, and now probably
universal, 1T cell.
Dram Shop Act
An act, typically enacted at the state level, setting standards for
servers of alcoholic drinks (private homes and pubs). Such laws establish
the legal liability of the servers in civil cases brought for damages
caused by drunks. In the absence of such laws,
liability is usually governed by (locally relevant) precedent. These acts
often contain the only statutory bounds on awards.

Just a guess.

Throughout history, drapers have played a prominent role in… aww, what
transparent– I’m not pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes. Not if I make it
out of whole cloth, not the whole nine yards. But this much is truth, and
fiction too: one of Moll Flanders’s husbands was a draper. More recently, in
“Under Milk Wood,” a “play for voices” that Dylan Thomas completed the
month before he died in 1953, a draper upholsters the dreams of a Miss Myfanwy
Price (a dressmaker and sweetshop-keeper):

I am a draper mad with love. I love you more than all
the flannelette and calico, candlewick, dimity, crash and merino, tussore,
cretonne, crépon, muslin, poplin, ticking and twill in the
whole Cloth
Hall of the world. I have come to take you away to my Emporium on the hill,
where the change hums on wires. Throw away your little bedsocks and your Welsh
wool knitted jacket, I will warm the sheets like an electric toaster, I will
lie by your side like the Sunday roast.

(Emphasis added.)
The “change hum[med] on wires” only in the larger shops, which had systems of
boxes on wires with spring-and-pulley mechanisms to move payment and change
between shop attendants and cashier (different employees differently employed).
Such systems were still in use a few years after
WWII. They were supplanted by pneumatic systems,
and eventually by different methods of doing business. I can’t imagine why
you’d want to know that Miss Price’s given name is stressed on the second
syllable, with the first y pronounced as a shwa and the second as a short
English i or German ü, but now you know anyway. (The sound of y varies by
region, and Dylan Thomas didn’t speak Welsh anyway, just Welsh-accented
English.) The f is voiced, as you recall from the Welsh bits in the recent
collating sequence entry.

Data Recognition Corporation.
Democratic Republic of the
Congo. The former Belgian Congo, for many years Zaire (Zaïre in French;
what is it in Flemish?), hence the country code ZR (.zr entry).
Dental, Oral and Craniofacial Data Resource
Design Rule Checker. Design rules are tolerances and minimum sizes
for various dimensions of regions etched, implanted, diffused, oxidized,
nitridized, deposited and otherwise mistreated on the semiconductor surface,
as determined by mask dimensions.
Distributed Relational Database Architecture.
DRD1, DRD2, …
Dopamine Receptor D1, ….
Drug Recognition Expert. I take it that someone even more qualified in the
field is called Dr. Dre. Once I mentioned to one of my colleagues that a
stairwell in a nearby campus building smelled like hashish, and he asked me how
I knew what hashish smelled like. Duh. (Actually, he was a Turkish colleague,
and I answered “I’m an American.” The whole thing seems rather backwards
now.) Well, some people never happen to gather the necessary experience. Many
years ago (I wish I could find a record of it) there was a widely publicized
drug bust in Georgia in which a man was arrested with a baggy containing a
green herb that the arresting officer thought was marijuana. It was widely
publicized because the arrested man said the herb was oregano, and even more so
because the police lab confirmed that it was oregano. After the charges were
dropped, the department said it would provide training so that officers would
be better able to recognize marijuana. While they were at it, I hope they went
out for some pizza and learned to recognize oregano.
Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors. The DREAM Act was a
law proposed to regularize the status of children of undocumented immigrants
in the US, resident in the US for more than five years but born elsewhere.
Under terms of the bill, they would get legal status and become eligible for
citizenship provided they graduate from high school, stay out of trouble with
the law, and either attend college for two years or serve two years in the
armed forces. The bill, introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), had a
bipartisan roster of 48 co-sponsors in the Senate in 2003, but stalled in the
face of anti-immigrant sentiment. The bill will probably be reintroduced in
According to Delmore Schwartz, “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities.”
Well okay, maybe so, but I’d rather not be reminded. I mean, when your dreams
include sample screenshots, you’re spending too much time in flatspace.
Something that’s trash, but sold as something other than trash. I’m not
sure if the word came from German (Dreck) or Yiddish (transliterated
either drek or dreck) or both. The original Middle High German
etymon of both was drec, which meant `excrement.’ A common Old Germanic
root yielded an Old English cognate threax, which already meant `trash’
(the Modern English word it evolved into). So, as frequently happened, English
expanded its word stock by adding the cognate (or cognates) of a word already
present in the language. It’s interesting that the semantic streams separated
and then converged before the reabsorption occurred, but that’s not unusual

I was motivated to add an entry for dreck by the heavy advertising for
Oreck vacuum cleaners. They emphasize quality, and the logo has the brand name
(the company owner’s surname) written in block caps, making the initial letter
hard to distinguish from a letter dee. I can’t be the only one who thinks of
these things.

Research and Engineering Network
Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, much-admired archbishop of Chicago, died on Nov. 14, aged 68, after a
year-long battle with pancreatic cancer. The
next week, he lay in state with his glasses on.
Digital Radio Frequency (RF) Memory.
Diagnosis-Related Group.
Dr. Gunni
Gunnar Lárus Hjálmarsson.
Deep Reactive Ion Etching.
drip, the
See the drip.
Dedicated Road Infrastructure for Vehicle safety in Europe. An
EU program to alleviate road transportation problems
by using information and telecommunications technology. One such is SOCRATES, another is PANDORA.
The number one wood (golf club). This term is not obsolete, like
Brassie (2 wood),
Spoon (3 wood),
Baffle (5 wood).
The only reason I put this one in is to remind myself to say something
about high-output-current buffers. Sure. There, I’ve done it.
Just what you were looking for: Driveways of the Rich and Famous (and
in some cases Deceased). Many of the driveways are neither gated nor fenced.

Many years ago someone asked Israeli General Ariel Sharon why he didn’t have
a fence around his house for protection. He replied that his neighbors should
be afraid of him, not the other way around.

Daytime Running Lights. Automobile lights that go on whenever the car is
running. Required on new cars in Canada (since
1989) and Sweden. Allowed on cars in the US.
Dr. Laura
Doctor Laura Schlessinger. Likes to refer to herself as “my kids’ mom.”
This raises the question: who else’s mom could she be? The answer is many
unhappy children’s, because Dr. Laura is an acid-tongued malpractitioner, a
dispenser of common nonsense popular with those lucky enough not to need
competent emotional counseling. She is even more popular with those who have
a morbid need to be abused. Seeking an unsympathetic ear, they will keep her
call-in lines busy for as long as it takes them to wise up and get real help.

She got her doctorate in physiology, although after that she got a certificate
in marriage and family therapy.

She is a one-woman business, but
like Ayn Rand, she has a besotted following (random example).

Development Rate Monitor. For time-critical reaction like photoresist
Digital (intellectual property) Rights Management.
DOD Reference Model.


De Rerum Natura. Latin, `On the Nature
of Things,’ a work by Lucretius.
Destructive Read-Out. A mode of old-style magnetic
core memory
read-out. NDRO is Nondestructive read-out.
Playing a modern LP on a Victrola with one of those
monster steel needles would probably also qualify as DRO.
Dielectric Resonator Oscillator.
droit du seigneur
French, `right of the [feudal] lord’ to
sexual relations with a bride of a vassal on her first night of marriage. A
myth whose history is traced by Alain Boureau in his The Lord’s First Night:
The Myth of the Droit de Cuissage
(Chicago and London: Un. Chicago Pr.,
1998) pp. x, 300. $55.00 (cloth), ISBN
0-226-06742-4; $19 (pb) ISBN 0-226-67432-4.
(Translated by Lydia G. Cochrane. Original published as Le droit de
cuissage: La fabrication d’un mythe (XIIIe-XXe siècle)
. Series:
L’Evolution de l’humanité (Paris: Albin
Michel, 1995). ISBN 2-226-07634-4. It’s reviewed by Adam Kosto of Columbia
in TMR 99.05.14.
drop kick
In a drop kick, a person releases a ball and brings his foot forward
timed to kick it. You see a lot of drop kicks in Australian football,
which has approximately continuous action resembling soccer, and anyone
can score with a kick between uprights of the opposing side.

In North American football, traditionally (and technically still, I think) you
can always make forward progress by kicking the ball, but the way the game has
evolved, one doesn’t see very much of that. Nonstandard stuff you do see
includes forward passes by half-backs and (in high school, mostly) multiple
short passes back to fellow team members running forward (flea-flicker play).
On November 20, 1982, Cal beat Stanford on the final play of the game with a
touch-down-scoring flea-flicker. If you weren’t rooting for Stanford, it was a
grand, giddy, hilarious bit of sand-lot. For a long time afterwards, it was
known simply as “the play.”

You probably came to this entry wondering where you could find the lyrics
to the song “Dropkick me, Jesus, through the goalposts of life.”
Here are a few places:

I’ve got the will, Lord, if You got the toe.

Words and music by Paul Craft; was recorded by Bobby Bare. Cf.
Motorist entry.

A Norwegian brand of fruit-flavored candy probably manufactured by Bergene.
Name derived from Eng. drop. Cf. Mental.

The English word dropsy evolved from an earlier form hydropsy.

Distribution Requirements Planning.
Delaware River Port Authority of
Pennsylvania and New Jersey. They’re not concerned with all of the ports on
the Delaware between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. They don’t worry about the
Delaware Water Gap or the bridges near Allentown and Easton. So why should I
care about them? They’ve built four bridges since 1919, three of them into
Philadelphia on the Pennsylvania side, and one crossing to Chester, PA.
Through its “subsidiary, the Port Authority Transit Corp., DRPA runs
Dual-Rail Static CMOS. Visit a report comparing
this with other gate-based design styles for CMOS
WTGL. “Rail” here refers to a constant-voltage
or to the array of conducting lines that supplies the voltage.
Direct Response TeleVision. The triple plague: infomercials, television
shopping and “short-form direct response” (this CD not available in stores).
All represented, and even recognized with awards, by
NIMA International
. As if ordinary ads weren’t bad enough. Hey? What am
I complaining about? I wouldn’t watch even if they removed the ads.
drug names
T.S. Eliot’s famous “The Naming of Cats” begins

The naming of cats is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m mad as a hatter
When I tell you a cat must have three different names.

All newly marketed pharmaceutical chemicals have at least three names: a
brand name, a generic name, and a chemical name, and coming up with them is a
difficult matter as well, though the difficulties are different in the three
cases. Before getting into these
(in reverse order), I should say something about stereoisometry.
NOTE: this entry is still incomplete, but we have a bit of material on generic
and chemical names.

Originally, pharmaceutical names tended not to distinguish between
stereoisomers, and drug names usually distinguished only between different
structures. In principle, this wasn’t a big problem: drugs were manufactured,
tested, and marketed in a single form — either a racemic mix of enantiomers
(synthesized starting from a racemic mix or optically inactive chemical) or
else always the same optically active mix (synthesized or just separated from
the same biological source). It was always the same mix or nonmix. It’s been
possible to measure the difference between isomers since the 19th century, but
until recently it wasn’t possible, or industrially feasible, or attractive, to
synthesize a preferred nonracemic mix. So nowadays drug names are increasingly
assigned to particular stereoisomers, and not just to the general structures.

Government agencies and the medical community pay little heed to “the chemical
name,” except to denounce “its” use. What they mean by “chemical name” is
what most chemists call a “systematic name.” Systematic names today are
names constructed by following a set of rules defined by
IUPAC. In principle, these rules lead from the
known structure of a compound to a unique name. However, the rules are
constantly changing in small ways. (There are good reasons for this, but also
some bad consequences.) The sordid details will have to wait for the creation
of a “systematic”-chemical-nomenclature entry. The upshot is that each
may have multiple systematic names and accumulate more over time. On the
bright side, all or almost all systematic names refer unambiguously to
individual compounds. (There may be some exceptions with modern systematic
names that coincide with old names that are considered obsolete.) A working
chemist who is serious about tracking down previous research on a chemical
should determine the CAS registry number and
perform literature searches using that.

Another kind of name used by chemists is a
trivial name. Trivial names are arbitrary
in principle, but are intended to be somehow useful (informative or convenient)
in practice. There is no official agency that must approve trivial names, and
researchers constantly invent trivial names for their own convenience. On the
other hand, journal editors sometimes object to particular trivial names and
refuse to publish them.

Trivial names are not a recognized category of pharmaceutical name, but generic
names are, and generic names are a subset of trivial names. Specifically, the
generic name of a drug is a trivial name approved by a governmental or
governmentally sanctioned entity. Since there are multiple such entities,
there may be multiple generic names, such as the US Adopted Name (USAN),
British Approved Name (BAN), (JAN), International
Nonproprietary Name (iNN or INN), etc.
The generic names approved by different authorities tend to be similar.
For example, a anti-herpes virus drug marketed as Valtrex and Zelitrex (brand
names) has the generic names Valaciclovir (Rec INN and BAN) and
Valacyclovir (USAN).

The drug marketed as Lasix has generic names frusemide
(BAN) and furosemide (INN and USAN).

Official national pharmacopaeia tend to be organized by generic name.
In the US, USAN’s are not allowed to be trademarked. I imagine there are
similar arrangements elsewhere and possibly some international agreements.
[But I suspect that trademark law is harder to coordinate between different
countries than copyright or patent law. In Argentina, for example, trademarks
are categorized by product type, and must be separately registered. I also
wonder if, for example, a company may register a trademark with the US PTO a
name that is the BAN of a drug if it is not also the INN or USAN.]

drum major
A male majorette, as the inflection
drum majorette
A girl or woman who leads, or at least marches before the first rank of, a
marching band. She doesn’t have a drum, but she does have a baton which could
serve for a drumstick. The head term is more intuitive when the marching band
is called a drum corps. For links to various baton-twirling organizations, see
the majorette entry.
The drink and the drinker may both be drunk. Amazing!

Gee, it seems I wasn’t the first fellow to think this up. In HHGTTG, there’s an exchange that runs approximately

“It’s unpleasantly like being drunk.”
“What’s so unpleasant about being drunk?”
“You ask a glass of water.”

Here’s a gnomic and symmetric old saw that’s translated from a Japanese ballad:

First the man takes a drink,
then the drink takes a drink,
then the drink takes the man.

Under the looser definitions at least, this counts as chiastic.

drunk food
I asked the English-speaker at Boracho Burrito why it was that of all
the fast-food places, the ones that stay open
latest are the ones that sell Mexican food. He suggested that it’s because
Mexican food is considered good drunk food. He did concede that in Chicago,
pancakes are considered the drunk food, but that with the exception of
the McDonalds-owned chain, the Mexican places there stay open late too.

Burrito borracho means `drunk little mule’
in Spanish, or `drunk burrito.’ Given that the
adjective is not only misplaced but misspelled, I
always figured that the restaurant name Boracho Burrito represented
gringo ignorance, but quizá something more
subtle is going on.

dry closing
A real-estate closing at which the seller does not turn the keys over to
the buyer, because the buyer hasn’t produced the funds. A closing without
closure, you might say. I don’t know much about it, and I don’t want to.

Incidentally, if you’re like most people, this is approximately the umpteenth
time you’re reading this glossary (because it’s addictive, because you thirst
for knowledge but forget things, etc.). (Unless you only just learned of this
famous resource.) And right about now you’re probably thinking, “I don’t
remember reading this entry before.” [For a similar experience, try the
Aden entry.]
It’s not your memory playing tricks; this really is a new entry. I had put off
adding it because I’m superstitious. “Superstitious” means “well-informed
about luck and how to control it.” I had to delay until after my own closing
(which was satisfactorily moist, thank you) or — as we luck experts realize —
bad things might have happened. (And they didn’t. How much more corroboration
do you need?) Of course, one mustn’t gloat.

dry ice
Solid carbon dioxide (CO2). It was first obtained by M.
Thilorier in 1834 [Ann. Phys., 60, p. 432 (1835)].
dry water
A hydraulic theorist’s construct: a perfectly nonviscous fluid.
We also have other water entries.
Dampfschiff. German, `steamship, steam boat.’
It’s not a cruising sweat farm, you understand. “Steam” refers to the power
source (external combustion engine with steam working fluid).
Darmstadtium. Atomic number 110.
Learn more at its
in WebElements and
its entry
at Chemicool.
Semiconductor Corporation
. Prefix on device names.
Data Structure.
Data System.
Deep Structure. Now more popularly (or reconditely)
D-structure. Think Chomsky, not Derrida.
Digital Signal. DS-0,
, etc. are supposed to refer to the physical interface for transmission
at particular rates, rather than to a particular protocol, or to the rate
itself. Most users and network engineers are more interested in data rates and
protocols than in the “physical interface” as such. Moreover, in many cases
there is a dominant protocol, so referring to T-1 as DS-1 (in North America),
say, is normally unambiguous. Conversely, stating the signal level is a
fairly ambiguous way of specifying the physical medium. The misuse of “DS-”
terminology is therefore not just not a problem, it is a positive instance of
language usage adapting a poorly conceived term to a sensible and appropriate
use. Metonymy works.
Direct Sequence. As in DS/CDMA, spread-spectrum
(SS) communication utilizing a quasirandom
direct sequence (as opposed, say, to frequency hopping).
(If deuterated bisulfide or thiohydroxyl does not seem a reasonable
interpretation, it might be) Dodecyl Sulphate ion.
Doppler Shift. Difference between frequency at its source and at a
detector due to relative motion of source and detector.
Down Syndrome.
It used to be called Mongoloidism, mostly because non-Asian children
with the syndrome had faces that looked vaguely Asian. And it used to be
children only, because most with Down syndrome did not survive past their
teen years. There’s been a lot of progress over the past couple of decades,
and both survival and coping ability have been improved.

The new name has nothing to do with fine, soft fluffy feathers. This
fact was more obvious when it was called Down’s Syndrome. It’s
named after a physician (John L. H. Down).

Another name for it is Trisomy 21, because we now understand that the
syndrome arises when a fertilized egg accidentally contains an extra copy
of chromosome 21. This is likelier to happen as the mother gets older.
It also is somewhat likelier to happen with older fathers than with younger
ones, independently of the mother’s age.

Democratic Socialists of
. They have an amusing graphic
that illustrates the feckless sectarianism of formal US socialism.

Hmm. Evidence at the YAF entry suggests a similar
phenomenon on the right. I guess if you won’t compromise your principles for
a chance at power, splitting with a major political grouping is just the
beginning of the story.

Diffusion Self-Aligned. Normally when you say “self-aligned,” people
assume doping by implantation rather than diffusion. Diffusion is a fuzzy
process, so with DSA gates you lose some of the advantage of self-alignment.
Cf. SAG.
Directory System Agent. Software that accesses X.500 directory service.
Driving Standards Agency.
Danske StatsBaner. `Danish National Railways.’
Defense Science Board.
Deutscher Sportbund `German Sports Association.’
Double Sideband Suppressed Carrier.

Differential Scanning Calorimetry
Dynamic Stability Control.
One synonym of electronic stability control. For other synonyms, see the
ESC entry.
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Cf. DCCC. The DSCC lines up against the NRSC. Who wins is hard to know in advance. Who
loses? Well, they say in war, truth is the first casualty.
Direct Sequence – Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA). “Direct Sequence” means that the code is
embedded in the time domain, as opposed to FH/CDMA (q.v.; “Frequency Hopping”) which
uses a code embedded in the frequency domain. See also MC/CDMA.

DSSS is a synonym.

Deep Space
Climate ObserVatoRy
. A NASA satellite to be
placed at the L1 Lagrange point of the
Earth-Sun system, about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth along a line to the
Sun, continually monitoring the sunlit hemisphere of the planet. The general
idea was suggested by then-Vice President Albert Gore in 1998, and NASA took up
the idea and designed a tool that would measure the light radiation emitted or
reflected from the Earth. DSCOVR was originally scheduled to fly aboard the
space shuttle Columbia (which disintegrated during re-entry on February 1,
2003, and was therefore no longer available to take DSCOVR up). The
$100 million satellite was never launched. In January 2006, the project was
quitely cancelled by NASA, which cited “conflicting priorities.” NASA has
since refused separate offers from France and Ukraine to lift the satellite at
no charge. So far as I know,
NASA has not gone so far as to actually discard the observatory or sell it for

The mission was originally called
Triana, after Rodrigo de
Triana, the lookout who first sighted the New World from Columbus’s ship.

Defense Satellite Communications System.
Direct Store Delivery. Relevant: DEX/UCS.
Driver’s Safety Device. British rail term. A dead man’s
handle for the train driver. Cf. DVD.
A German waste disposal and recycling system operated by Duales System
Deutschland, GmbH
. `Dual System Germany.’
Since 1991, recyclable packaging material is labelled with a green point
(Grüner Punkt), a symbol licensed by DSD, GmbH. There is no charge
to the end user for the collection of materials marked with a green point
the unrecovered costs of the program are collected through the licensing fee.

Austria has a similar system run by ARA.

The material should be deposited in the gelbe Tonne oder gelber Sack
`yellow trash can or yellow bag.’ Such a colorful system; this I can

And brown bin (braune Tonne) gets the nonrecyclable stuff.


And the green bin gets the paper.


Double-Sided Double Density. Designation for 5¼” floppy diskettes.
diskettes are double-sided.)
Double-Stranded DNA.
diskettes are double-sided.)
Differentiated System Description Table. An ACPI system description table.
Directionally Solidified Eutectic. How does one come to study these?
That is, why not study noneutectic directionally solidified materials?
Because the standard way to congeal materials rapidly is splat cooling,
which only works if there is a single temperature at which the whole mix
will melt, and so only works on a eutectic mix. Slower cooling typically
takes so long that the directional nature of the cooling is not evident
in the structure.
Delaware State Education Association.
One of the state
of the NEA.
Delivery Sequence File.
Democratic Study Group. An informal group of US legislators created in
1961, working within the Democratic caucus to move the party to the left.
It seems to have succeeded.

Regardless the precise degree of credit or blame that the DSG deserves for the
political movement, it began with good timing. John F.
took office in 1961, and in his inaugural address he said: “Let
the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the
torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans….” That was also the
year that Rep. Sam Rayburn (D-Tx) died.

Rayburn had been the House Democratic leader from 1940 until his death.
(Minority leader in the 80th and 83rd Congresses — 1947-49 and 1953-55 — and
Speaker when Democrats controlled the House.) During that time he had
marginalized the Democratic caucus as an institution, preferring to make deals
behind the scenes. Rayburn’s approach was motivated by the divergence within
the party, between conservative southern Democrats and liberal-to-moderate
Democrats from the rest of the country. Eventually, conservative white
Democrats overcame their aversion to the GOP, just as thirty years earlier
blacks had overcome their allegiance to the GOP. (Both of these alignments
dated back to the Civil War, of course.) Everyone understood in the 1960’s
that it was the civil rights struggle that was turning the South Republican.
But southern Democrats had been more conservative than the rest of the party
across a broad range of issues. Thus, the departure of southern Democrats
contributed to a rationalization of the major parties. With or without the
DSG, the Democratic party was bound to move left simply by the shedding of more
conservative members. Conversely, the Republican party became a less
hospitable place for those who had constituted its left wing.

DSG on National Security.

Deutscher Schlafwagen- und Speisewagen-Gesellschaft. `German
Sleeping- and Dining-car Association.’
DSG on National Security
Democratic Study Group on National Security was
created at the beginning of
107th Congress by Representatives Steve Israel (D-NY),
Adam Schiff (D-CA) and David Scott (D-GA). Former National Security Advisor
Sandy Berger addressed the inaugural meeting of the DSG on National Security on
May 22, 2003.” (Berger did something else related to national security in
2003. On at least two occasions that he has publicly admitted to, he secretly
removed documents from the National Archives, destroying some and keeping
others, apparently to conceal lapses in his or the Clinton administration’s
counter-terrorism activity. The charges first came to light in July 2004. On
April 1, 2005, as part of a plea bargain, Berger pled guilty in federal court
to a misdemeanor charge related to the removal and destruction. I checked the
DSG page that day, and Berger’s name had not been removed from it.)

The stated purpose of the DSG is “to explore new technologies and principles
leading to a smarter national security capability against changing threats.”
Obviously, you couldn’t hold congressional hearings on this kind of thing —
the Republicans would be opposed. The DSG “holds regular meetings for the
Democratic Caucus, bringing in speakers …” including former Democratic
Senator Sam Nunn and former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Cf. DSG.

Defense Simulation Internet.
Digital Speech Interpolation.
Destination Signaling IDentifier.
Dvorak Simplified Keyboard. Really, it’s the
typing that’s simplified, or made easier. The keyboard layout is different and
more efficient, but it’s not simpler than QWERTY,
q.v. Vide etiam this page for some of the standard

August Dvorak, who conceived and developed this keyboard scheme, called it the
American Simplified Keyboard. It’s never been any more than a minority taste.

DiSplay KeyBoard. Computer console on Apollo spacecraft.
Data SubLanguage.
Subscriber Line
. High bandwidth and always on like T1, installation and monthly costs more like ISDN. Too many “standards.” offers analysis.
Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer. It’s not just a matter of
having the line installed. you have to rent one of these puppies. See
Dedicated Server Module.

Sounds like a worker ant.

Deep SubMicron (design).
Demand-Side Management. In the utilities industry, DSM programs are
attempts to reduce energy consumption by means of pricing structure and
other incentives.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (of Mental Disorders). Published by
APPI. The editions of DSM, with years of
appearance (-R for revised editions, -TR stands for “text revision”):
1952 (lists 60 distinct psychiatric illnesses)
1968 (lists 145)
1994 (lists 410)

Preserve your sanity. It might come in handy one day.

The DSM provides a coding scheme for disorders that has long been accepted in
the US and which provides a precise-seeming basis for choice of therapy and
billing. The ICD offered what I think was
originally a distinct coding scheme. The ICD is a book about the same size as
the DSM, but the ICD covers all areas of medicine and the DSM covers only
mental health care. You’re probably figuring that the DSM just slices and
dices the categories into an astronomically large number of highly specific
(as well as a generous number of explicitly and precisely general) disorders.
That’d be my guess too, and there’s a little of that, but that’s not the main
story. The DSM is rather discursive, with flowcharts and menus of criteria for
particular diagnoses, thoughtful essays on various classes of disorder, keys to
differential diagnoses, etc. The DSM has been using the ICD codes since at
least 1987, and they’re listed in an appendix. Disorders distinguished by the
DSM and not by the ICD simply have the same code.

Digital Signal Microprocessor.
Digital Storage Medi{ um | a }.
Distinguished Service Medal.
Driver Standards Manager. British railroad term.
Direct Simulation Monte Carlo. Method developed in the 1960’s by Graham
A. Bird, particularly for rarefied gas dynamics simulations
Digital Storage Media – Command and Control.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), 3rd edn. Published by the American Psychiatric Association. This is the
one that became famous for finally removing homosexuality from among the
disorders. The current edition, DSM-IV, came out in 1994.
Dictionary Society
of North America
. “[F]ormed in 1975 to bring together people interested
in dictionary making, study, collection, and use. Our 500+ members who live
in 42 countries around the world ….” [Another meaning of “North
America”?] “The only requirement for membership is an expression of interest
in language, in words, dictionaries and lexicography, or any combination of

Became a constituent society of
the ACLS in 1994. ACLS has an overview.

Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Digital Storage Oscilloscope.
Distinguished Service Order.

During WWI, the poet Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967)
served with distinction as a British officer, but when he became convinced of
the futility of the war, he took a painful moral stand. He threw away his DSO
medal and set out wilfully to defy the military authorities — risking personal
ruin at the least, and possible imprisonment and execution. He describes this
in Memoirs of an Infantry Officer.

Of course, it all turned out all right in the end, after all, didn’t it?

Winston Churchill later said to Siegfried Sassoon

War is the normal occupation of man — war, and gardening.

The poet Robert Graves appeared in Memoirs, thinly disguised as
“David Cromlech.” In the trenches Cromlech was spouted new-age paganism

avant la lettre, and Graves later published it in a pastiche of cribbed
and invented myth (mythical myth, so to speak) called The Greek Myths
(despised by scholars, needless to say, widely though not universally).

My grandfather was a Siegfried also, but he officered on the other side and got
an Iron Cross, first class. He also got an Iron Cross, second class. Then
just before WWII, he got a big double cross. In
Chaplin’s 1940 sadly innocent satire The Great Dictator, Adolph Hitler
is Adenoid Hynkel and the Nazi swastika is a double cross.

“Dark Side Of The Moon.” A Pink Floyd album.
Delta Sigma
. First founded in New York. In early years it had difficulty
recruiting members outside of NYC because it did not
discriminate on the basis of religion.
Digital Signal Processing (or occasionally) Processor. (ADSP is
Analog DSP; i.e. digital processing of analog signals, by means of
A-to-D conversion.)

There is
FAQ documentation
associated with the usenet
newsgroup <com.dsp>.

Divestiture Sequence Plan.
Data Service Request.
Data Set Ready.
Device Status Report.
Digital Standard Runoff.
Dynamic Service Register.

I’d be happy to tell you more, but the guy two workstations
away from me is talking to himself with increasing conviction.

Digital Standard Relational Interface.
Data Signaling Rate Selector.
Dead Sea Scrolls. The ones found in the Qumran
caves near the Dead Sea, stored by a group we call the Essenes. For information
and links to on-line resources on major DSS see Mahlon H. Smith’s
DSS page.
Decision Support System. (Generic term, as well as the name of an old
Unidata RDBMS.)
(Australian government’s) Department of
Social Security.
Department of Social Services.
Digital Satellite System. Satellite TV receive station.
Dioctyl Sodium SulfoSuccinate. Used to fix fumaric acid in foods.
Fumaric acid is a convenient, cheap `tartness agent’ but dissolves in
cold water without DSS.
Domain SAP Service.
Direct-Sequence Spread Spectrum (SS).
Has the same meaning as DS/CDMA, although in
principle the term might refer to SS applied to a single signal.

[Franklin bust]

Daylight Saving Time. So called because it saves some daylight from the
early morning when you’re presumably still in bed, and spends it in the evening
when you presumably want it. Not “Daylight Savings Time,” as some people
call it, which would presumably be the daylight portion of the bankers’ hours. serves a page
announcing when the
next gear-stripping change is scheduled to occur
. An interesting book
about DST is David Prerau’s Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious
Story of Daylight Saving Time
(NY: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2005).

The obvious utility of DST is that it accomplishes a coordinated shift of
real business and school hours without requiring an explicit change in nominal
hours of operation. The obvious problem with it is that some businesses and
especially schools may not want to shift those hours.

When the US adopted a national DST law in the mid-sixties, states had the right
to opt out. (From the mere text of the US Constitution, it’s not clear that the
federal government even had a right to legislate this. On the other hand, the
Commerce Clause has been interpreted so elastically that on rare recent
occasions when the US Supreme Court ruled that there was a power it did not
give to the federal government, everyone was shocked.) Arizona keeps
MST year-round, except for the big
Navajo reservation (which
spills over into New Mexico and Utah, just brushing Four Corners). [Here and
here are two conflicting

Hawaii is the southernmost state, by a bit, meaning that the difference in
day length between summer and winter is smallest. They keep standard time

Until 2006, there was one other state — Indiana
where standard time was kept year-round. (Most of the state’s 87 counties kept
EST. There were some counties that used DST with
Central Time, consistently with nearby states — some near Chicago in the
northwest and some around Evansville, Indiana, near western Kentucky, five
counties all told. Another five counties near Louisville, KY, and Cincinnati,
OH, used DST with Eastern time.) Indiana’s unusual situation probably arose
because DST was an additional complication exacerbating an already confused
one. When the original time zones were established in 1918, Indiana was mostly
in the Central time zone. By April 1969, a sequence of shifts had gradually
put most of Indiana in the Eastern zone.

On April 28, 2005, the Indiana legislature passed a measure that put all of
Indiana on DST, and that petitioned the US Department of Transportation to hold
hearings to consider possible changes in the location of the dividing line
between the Eastern and Central time zones. Saint Joseph County, where I
reside, was moved (back, after many decades) into the Central Time Zone by a
USDoT ruling of October 25, 2005, and then forward
again into the Eastern Time Zone by a ruling of January 18, 2006. At 2:00 am
on the first Sunday of April 2006 (two hours after April Fool’s Day officially
ended), clocks across Indiana officially sprang forward. There’s
a detailed explanation here, last
updated at least as recently as January 18, 2006.

Saskatchewan keeps time about as Indiana did: most of the province keeps CST
year-round; some small bits along the Alberta border use MST and do switch to

The mnemonic to remember which part of the year uses Daylight Saving Time and
which Standard Time is that you save when you have a surplus, so you use DST in
the summer when you have daylight to spare. In many countries
(e.g., Europe generally) there is no need for this mnemonic because DST is
called Summer Time (or the translated equivalent) instead. In New Zealand
they use “DST”; in Australia both terms are known. In the US during WWII, DST was unofficially called “War Time.” In
Quebec French, it’s called “heure
avancée” — `Advanced Time.’

About half the people in the world don’t need a mnemonic or a name (if they
don’t call long distance) because they keep standard time all year. Here’s a world map showing
which places keep DST and which don’t
. There are some southern states of
Brazil that practically graze the equator but use DST. Like, what’s the point?
The variation in day length increases with latitude. In fact, Benjamin
Franklin’s earliest recorded speculations regarding the waste of early-morning
sunlight date from his residence in London in 1757. He first published his
idea for DST in 1784, when he was residing in Paris. What he proposed at the
time was not a clock-time shift, but simply that people get up earlier in the
morning. The essay in which he proposed this was light-hearted and not to be
taken entirely seriously. (For example, he implied that readers would be
skeptical of the claim that the sun shines as soon as it rises, and he
exaggerated the savings of unneeded candles by assuming that people generally
did not rise until after noon.) On the other hand, it seems reasonably clear
that he was serious in advocating the general idea of making greater use of
available daylight. In 1907, William Willett published a pamphlet, “The Waste
of Daylight.” That was apparently the first proposal for DST.

The mnemonic for adjusting your clock is “Spring forward, fall back.” Since
the seasons are shifted by half a year between northern and southern
hemispheres, the time zone difference can vary by as much as two hours between
two countries in opposite hemispheres that both use DST.

In fact, although DST normally advances clocks by one hour, other shift amounts
have been tried. During 1927, only standard time was legal in Connecticut, but
many town-dwellers illicitly used ordinary DST (you wonder they didn’t simply
change their hours of operation). The mills in Connecticut’s aptly-named town
of Hazardville used what was called half-time (clocks
advanced by a half hour during the DST effective period), a compromise
motivated by the need to deal with both farmers (on standard time) and town
customers (on DST). DST clock advances as short as 20 and 15 minutes have been
used. Rarely.

Double daylight saving time was used in the UK during
WWII: a further one-hour advance over the wartime
DST used for the rest of the year. More about this and other two-hour shifts
at the DDST entry.

In October 1998, Dave Barry published a column of twenty-five lessons he had
learned in his fifty years. Number two was

You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason
why we observe daylight-saving time.

When a westbound train has stops near each other on opposite sides of a
time-zone boundary, the train schedule can show a local arrival time that
precedes the earlier departure time.
Niles, in southwestern Michigan, used to have an
unusual share of such local-time anomalies. Michigan keeps Eastern time, and
eastbound trains arrive from Chicago and Gary, which keep Central time.
Moreover, westbound trains come in from nearby South Bend, Indiana, which keeps
Eastern time but didn’t use DST until 2006.

Dexamethasone Suppression Test.
Dynamic (Fuel Emissions) Status Test.
Dynamic Stability and Traction Control.
One synonym of electronic stability control. For other synonyms, see the
ESC entry.
Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation.
Deep structure. Conjectured innate metagrammar. Hip name adopted when
so many people had heard about “deep structure” that it just wasn’t
clubby any more. Apparent similarity of its pronunciation to that of
destruction is not merely a happy coincidence; it is an indication of
an underlying structure in the language. Hmmm.
Draft Standards for Trial Use.
Dakota State University. In Madison,
South Dakota. There’s a long-term smouldering sort of movement in North Dakota
to change the state’s name. It’s a bit bewildering to people from out of
state, but a lot of North Dakotans feel that sharing a name with their southern
neighbor, they’ve gotten the short end of the stick or whatever. One of the
complaints that I never understood was that when people hear “Dakota” they
think of South Dakota. (Speaking only for myself, I think, “wait, aren’t
supposed to say `Lakota’ now?”) Anyway, I guess DSU must be the sort of thing
they have in mind.
Data Service Unit. A kind of DCE. In
particular, one that interfaces between low-rate services (56 kbps) and
higher-rate circuits.
Delaware State University. In Dover.
Digital Service Unit. A kind of DCE.
Probably just a less-standard expansion of DSU
(Data Service Unit).
Data Service Unit/Channel Service Unit. One unit combining DSU and CSU functions.
Diving Support Vessel[s].
Direct Step-on-Wafer. Step-and-repeat photo-exposure of a wafer,
to define a repeated pattern in photolithography.
Defense Special Weapons Agency.
Shiny new name for the old Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA).
You have to admit, the old name didn’t make a lot of sense: a “nuclear
agency”? Of the defense type? I mean: a noun functioning as an adjective
(attributive noun) followed by an
adjective indicating an elided noun (nuclear
weapon) functioning as an adjective anyway but for the noun
agency? Gimme a break. They used the opportunity of a prized acronym
make-over wisely: a “weapons agency” makes sense, doesn’t torture syntax and
it’s an honest step away from bureaucratic euphemism.

Oh, yeah, they have a homepage, which
prominently warns that your visit is being monitored, but they don’t even
display a counter.

Digital Signal Cross-connect (system).
Also DCC, DCS, and
DXC, where it’s explained.
DS-0, DS0
Digital Signal, Level 0. A transmission rate of 64 kbps. Strictly
speaking, DS-0 is supposed to refer to the physical
, rather than the transmission rate or a particular protocol.
DS-1, DS1
Digital Signal, Level 1. A physical interface
(um, that’d be connection, to you and me) capable of carrying 1.544 Mbps digital transmission. Also called T-1 standard,
because DS-1 can
carry a twenty-four-fold (24X) multiplex of DS-0
(24 × 64 kbps = 1536 kbps = 1.5 Mbps).
DS-2, DS2
Digital Signal, Level 2. Physical interface for digital transmission rate
of 6.312 Mbps. Supports a four-fold (4X) multiplex
of DS-1 (i.e., 96 × DS-0).
DS-3, DS3
Digital Signal, Level 3. Physical interface for digital transmission rate
of 44.736 Mbps. Supports a seven-fold (7X)
multiplex of DS-2 (i.e.,
672 × DS-0).
Deep Space Nine. Third Star Trek television series. More at the alternate
abbreviation ST:DS9.
Deciduous Teeth. A/k/a primary teeth. A/k/a milk teeth, baby teeth, puppy
teeth, kitten teeth, etc., as appropriate. Losses may be redeemed by the tooth
fairy. DT can also stand for deciduous tooth, but I didn’t want to type
Deep Thought. Nothing of the sort: humorous contemplations of Jack Handy.

[Football icon]

Defensive Tackle. A position in American football. Defensive linemen who
play “inside.”


DT, the DT’s
Shaking, chills, nausea, hallucinations, disorientation and other agony
experienced in withdrawal from a chemical one is physically addicted to, such
as Jolt Cola.
[Abbreviation for Latin: Delirium Tremens.]
Deutsche Telekom.
Deferred Tax Asset. A loss that can be deducted from future profit in a
future tax computation.
Differential Thermal Analysis. Torquemada used autos da fe.
are favored today.

Okay, seriously: measurement of the difference in temperature between
a sample and a reference as both are heated. The reference is a way of
subtracting out the secular effect of simple heat capacity.

[Phone icon]

Digital Telephone Answering Device.
Diphtheria, Tetanus toxoids, and Acellular Pertussis. Three vaccinations
in one. The DTaP vaccine, or just DTaP for short, is meant for children under
age 7. Td boosters (for tetanus and diphtheria) are given to children aged 11
and up, and to adults every ten years.
Digital Test Access Unit.
Data Transfer Bus.
Down The Back.

Artie Shaw, the clarinetist and band leader, was almost better known at the
height of his fame for having married many times (eight). Eventually, he
started touring the college circuit with a lecture advertised as
“ `Consecutive Monogamy & Ideal Divorce’ by an `ex-husband of love
godesses.’ ” He also had some affairs.

There’s a pop song from the 1970’s by Jim Stafford and David Bellamy, called
“Spiders And Snakes.” You know, it’s downright painful to remember some of
those lyrics. Anyway, one of the lines in this song went “Still looking for
something to slip down her dress.” I just wanted to make clear that that’s
not where we’re going with this entry. It’s not that kind of

One thing that probably made it easy for Artie Shaw to get all those divorces
in a timely fashion was that he was rather acerbic. Not bitter, just acerbic.
And as honest as Molière’s misanthrope Alcest. In a word: captious.
One thing that would set him off was a toilet paper
roll hung so as to unwind down the back. One of his wives was the actress
Evelyn Keyes. Years after their divorce, she
said “Every time I change a toilet roll, I think of Artie Shaw.”

Pshawwww… isn’t that sweet? No?

Let’s retask this entry — or reorient, let’s say.
Here’s a
dedicated to the pinup girls of YANK, “a weekly magazine written by
and for ordinary soldiers.” Evelyn Keyes was featured in the March 4, 1944,
edition, bikini-clad but looking a bit frowzy. During her first marriage, she
had an abortion just before Gone with the Wind was to begin filming in
1939, so she could play Scarlett O’Hara’s younger sister Suellen; it left her
unable to have children. Wow, the magic of Hollywood! She was married four
times. The longest-lasting marriage was to Artie Shaw (1957-1985); none of the
others lasted five years. Her first husband was Barton Bainbridge. That
sounds like an actor’s name, but he seems to be famous only for having been her
husband. They were married in 1938 and he died in 1940.

Deposit-Taking Company.
Document Type Definition. Definitions of domain-specific languages within
Data Terminal Equipment. Equipment that would like to send or receive
data, as opposed to DCE, which is just pleased to
pass the data along. DTE includes computers, data storage devices, data input
and data output devices (dumb terminals, keyboards, printers, mice, tracking
balls, speakers and mikes, early-model holodecks, tape and disk drives, CD units,
Dial Tone First. Payphone type friendlier than CF.
Digital Transmission Facility.
Distance To Fault. In a T-line, typically.
Down The Front. TP jargon.
Direct-To-Home. As in `DTH TV satellite transmission.’ Vide
DBS and MPS.
Here’s a nice DTH faq.
Debt-To-Income. As in “DTI ratio.”
(UK gov’t) Department for Trade and Industry.
Digital Trunk Interface.
Defense Technical Information
Diode Transistor Logic. Term actually refers to two distinct logic

  1. The earliest “DTL” is also (and perhaps more often) simply called
    “diode logic.” It was a discrete-component bipolar logic that succeeded
    discrete-resistor-based TRL. Discrete-component
    was made obsolete in the early sixties by the earliest
    digital chips [i.e. integrated circuits] …
  2. Another “DTL” is an integrated-circuit diode-transistor logic,
    using somewhat different circuit designs than “diode logic,” that succeeded
    RTL, [note the letter order carefully] which was
    first generation of integrated-circuit logics.

The basic DTL gate is an input stage, followed by a
transistor serving as an inverting amplifier (diode logic) or a slightly more
involved transistor circuit accomplishing essentially the same thing [in
integrated DTL; the elaborations improve (shrink) power-delay product]. The earliest TTL gate is made by replacing the diode input stage in
DTL with a multiple-emitter transistor.

Deutschen Tourenwagen Masters.
Roughly, `German stock car championship.’ (Formula 3.)
Display Technology and Manufacturing.
Distinguished ToastMaster. The highest level of achievement in the

[Phone icon]

Dual-Tone MultiFrequency. Touchtones. Each key is represented by a
pair of tones, one for the row and one for the column. It’s fundamentally
designed for a sixteen-key pad, with the following frequency correspondences:

Column Frequencies (Hz)

| | | | |
| 1209 | 1336 | 1447 | 1633 |
| | | | |
R | | | | |
o 697 | 1 | 2 | 3 | A |
w | | | | |
F | | | | |
r 770 | 4 | 5 | 6 | B |
e | | | | |
q ———————————————————–|
u | | | | |
e 852 | 7 | 8 | 9 | C |
n | | | | |
c ———————————————————–|
i | | | | |
e 941 | * | 0 | # | D |
s | | | | |

Thus, for example, pressing “7” on your phone keypad causes
an 852 Hz signal (row 3) and a 1209 Hz signal (column 1) to be
transmitted. Most phones, of course, don’t use column 4, but
with it, one can conveniently transmit hexadecimal digits (bytes).
The A-B-C-D column is a common hidden feature of DAM’s.

The frequencies are evidently chosen with somewhat uneven spacing,
to satisfy a kind of Diophantine inequality.
No first-order harmonics ( |f1 ±
f2| ) coincide with a fundamental tone.
Neither do any second- or third-order harmonics coincide with a fundamental
tone. [This is considerably more robust without the 1633 Hz column:
1633 – ( 697 or 941 ) = ( 936 or 692 )
appears to impose some constraint on discrimination, but the harmonic
will also be a relatively weaker signal.]

For more, especially on encoder/decoder chips, see
an faq.
For some free (FSF) DTMF software, see

Delay-Tolerant Network[ing].
5,5′-DiThiobis (2-NitroBenzoic acid).
Drug Trafficking Organization.
DeskTop Publishing.
DiethyleneTriaminePentaacetic Acid.
Data Terminal Ready. Hayes modemese.
Data System.
Digital System.
DownTown South Bend. A
booster website for the City of South
, Indiana.
(Std.) Deviation in Time To Failure (TTF).
Data Terminal Unit. Countable form of DTE.
DeskTop Video.
Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag. The company
is a, and the name means `German Paperback Publisher.’ The initialism, always
in lower case, serve as a logo and the usual short form of the name (with the
German letter names, of course, so it sounds like “day tay fow” in English).
The use of lower-case initials came into fashion “recently,” from my
perspective (post-WWII sometime, or whenever the
ties [neckwear] were loosened).

Dtv also publishes hardcover books, including atlases.

Digital TeleVision.
Here’s a page
from the FCC.
DeTroit-Wayne County International Airport.
Discontinuous Transmission (TX). Useful in
duplex systems like voice communication: since each person typically speaks
during less than 40% of the connect time, shutting down transmission during
silences saves a factor of two in both bandwidth and energy consumption.
Implemented in GSM.

The tricky thing is to detect “silence” reliably. The phenomenon of having
your phone cut you off (because its “voice activity detection” interprets
your voice as noise) is called “clipping.”

In order to assure the listener on the other end that the connection is still
live, GSM tries to reproduce a quasinoise matching what would come through if
you were transmitting.

Apparently this is already used on intercontinental phone calls.

Depleted Uranium.
Dobson Unit. A unit of the concentration of ozone in the atmosphere,
integrated vertically, so it has units of inverse area. (This quantity is
a lot like the “Gummel number” defined in the charge-control model of a BJT.)

1 DU = 2.7 × 1016

It was defined so that a concentration of 1 DU corresponds to a depth of
ten microns of pure ozone at atmospheric pressure and 0 °C.
You can learn a lot more about it in this
Ozone Depletion FAQ Part I: Introduction to the Ozone Layer
There’s a nice
illustration of the concept here

Dob and Hob are archaic nicknames for Robert. Those two and
Rob have all given rise to common surnames, but Bob hasn’t.

Ducks Unlimited. A large non-profit organization involved in the
preservation of millions of acres of wetland across the United States and
University of Denver. A private university
with a United Methodist affiliation. It began as the Colorado Seminary which
opened at 14th and Arapahoe in downtown Denver. This was founded in 1864 by
a group headed by territorial governor John Evans
(vide infra). [Today DU maintains
Meyer-Womble Observatory on Mount Evans (peak at 14,330 feet).] The seminary
closed after three years, but was reorganized and reopened in 1880, with
Colorado Seminary as the property-owning institution and the University of
Denver as the degree-granting institution.

So far as I have been able to determine, from the time that “University” was
part of its name, the institution was officially the “University of Denver.”
That is how the school itself is uniformly called today, although “Denver
University” is occasionally used as the attributive form in subsidiary names.
This might sometimes be for reasons of euphony (e.g., Denver University
Department of Physics and Astronomy), but in some cases it might be for
historical reasons (possibly the case with the
Denver University Law Review of
the University of Denver College of Law; the law school began classes in 1892).

The earliest instance I have found of the abbreviation D.U. dates back
to 1941, but does not appear to reflect any change in the school’s name. I
guess “dee yoo” just sounded better. I’m starting to collect information
on these transposed-U abbreviations at this U entry.

The earliest reference I can readily find is the eleventh edition of the
Encyclopaedia Britannica (1910, as you know). According to the Denver
entry, “Denver is the seat of the Jesuit college of the Sacred Heart (1888; in
the suburbs); and the university of Denver
(Methodist, 1889 [sic]).” The common-noun capitalizations suggest a
lax attitude to the distinction between fixed name and variable description;
that attitude probably would not have caviled at “Denver University.”

[Appendix on John Evans: Born in Ohio (March 9, 1814,
at Waynesville), he was a physician who practiced in
Indiana, became rich investing in railroads, and got
into politics in Chicago. There he became friends with Abraham Lincoln, who
eventually appointed him governor of the Colorado territory. He was removed
from that office in 1865 for his part in the Sand Creek massacre, and in after
years dedicated himself to railroad development. He was in on the founding of
a number of institutions. He co-founded Indiana’s first insane asylum and
served as its first superintendent; with Orrington Lunt he founded Northwestern
University (in Evanston, Illinois; the Evanston in Wyoming is also named
after him). I’m not sure what it is about insane asylums, but they were a
popular institution to found in the middle of the nineteenth century. There’s
one near Ohio’s first university, Ohio University (in Athens), that was founded
for Civil War vets. Indiana’s Evansville, incidentally, was founded in 1812,
long before the insane asylum craze. It was named after Robert M. Evans; no
relation to John, afaik.]

Directory User Agent. Software that accesses X.500 directory service.
Diffusing Update ALgorithm.
A town
in Alabama,
Arizona, Arkansas, California,
Florida, Georgia,
Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland,
Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York,
North Carolina, Ohio,
Pennsylvania, Texas, and
Virginia. There’s also a famous fictional Dublin
created by James Joyce, that appears to bear some minute similarities to
a municipality in Ireland.
Pronunciation in Texan and other languages of the name of the letter w,
a form of “double-yoo.”

Capitalized or not, it’s also the political nickname of George W. Bush,
distinguishing him from his father George H. W. Bush. In 1994, political
neophyte George W. Bush became governor of Texas by
defeating incumbent governor Ann Richards, a woman perhaps best known
nationally for mocking H.W. when she delivered the keynote address at the 1988
Democratic National Convention.

At the change of administrations in 2001, when William Jefferson Clinton was
succeeded by dubya, White House staffers removed the W keys from typewriters
there. More on dubya at the 86 and dynasty entries. See also U dub.

Downstairs, Under Cover, Keep away from windows. A mnemonic for where to
go in case of tornadoes.
Duckworth’s. A publisher.
By snail:

  • The Old Piano Factory
    48 Hoxton Square London N1 6PB
  • for USA:
    Focus Publishing
    PO Box 369
    Newburyport, MA 01950

due at midnight
Due the next morning by the time the office opens, or by the time someone
from the office goes to collect checks or books or whatever from the lockbox,
dueling time zones
International conflicts and competition sometimes find expression in time
zones. It all gives horology a bad name, as if
it didn’t already have one. You’ll want to know about the two regions that
regularly keep time differing by a noninteger multiple of 30 minutes from

Some years ago, the Nepalese government wanted to buy some fighter planes from
the US. When the Indian government got wind of it, they closed the borders
with Nepal, effectively laying seige to that
country. After the Nepalese ran out of fuel, they relented and cancelled the
fighter-plane order. However, they moved their clocks ahead fifteen minutes,
so they no longer keep Indian Standard Time
(IST = GMT+5:30). Pakistan and
Bangladesh, by the way, keep GMT+5 and GMT+6, respectively. Bhutan, east of
Nepal (i.e., between Nepal and Bangladesh), keeps the same standard time
as Bangladesh.

Perhaps you’re wondering, given the level of seriousness of this reference
work, whether this is one of the “serious” items. You want to know: would
the glossarist (I) make something like this up? No. You have my word.
Life is stranger than I can imagine — at least ahead of time.

The Chatham Islands are a bunch of volcanic bumps that rise above the surface
of a submarine ridge known as the Chatham Rise. The three principal bumps (not
a technical term, afaik) are Chatham, Pitt, and South East Islands. These
islands are a remote part of New Zealand. The main islands of New Zealand,
like the extreme eastern end of Siberia, keep GMT+12. The Chatham Islands
are 800 km east of Christchurch, and actually have longitude more than 180
degrees east of the Prime Meridian. The International Date Line, however,
deviates from the 180-degree meridian, so that most of the time it is the same
day on the Chatham Islands as on the rest of New Zealand. (A deviation in the
opposite direction in northern lattitudes similarly makes the date be the same
throughout the Aleutian Islands and the rest of the state of Alaska.)

the Chatham Islands keep Chatham Time, which is GMT+12:45. This allows them to
claim to be the first inhabited land to greet each new day. For all I know,
the chance to make this boast was one of the motives for having a different
zone. However, eastern Siberia keeps daylight saving
(as does New Zealand), so during Northern Hemisphere Summer the
claim is not true. They should have gone with GMT+13.

Driving Under the Influence. (That the `influence’ is that of alcohol is
usually implicit; in some jurisdictions driving under the influence of other
mind-altering drugs is a distinct crime. Cf.
MC.) More common term:

The RIA publishes summaries of its work, see
Drinking, Drugs, and
. (Psychology-Today-grade discussion.)

I just saw a web ad that exclaims “IF YOU HAVENT HAD A DUI YOU ARE PAYING TOO
MUCH FOR AUTO INSURANCE.” So I guesh I should get sloshed right now, careen
past a police cruiser, and lower my premiums jush like that. The implications,
as they say, are staggering.

Dumb UTP { Multiport repeater | Mini-hub }.
The original dumbbells were training equipment for ringing bells: they were
like the bell handles, but since there were no bells attached they were silent
— “dumb.” The word has also been used as a synonym for “stupid person,”
but not because muscleheads are stupid, no sir, no sireee! When
weight-training equipment started being made in the form of longer bars with
weights attached at the ends, these were called bar-bells and eventually
(mostly) barbells by analogy with the earlier word. Subsequently,
clubbell and
kettlebell have been coined.
dumb down
People say to me “Alfred — is it alright if I call you Al? Al — can you
explain this `dumb down’ thing to me? I just don’t get it. Don’t give me any
complicated details or anything, just show me the big picture.”

Yes, it’s like this: to “dumb down” is to simplify.

“Well in that case, why don’t they just say `simplify’ and leave it at that?”

It sounds like you really do want details after all.

“Yeah, like, whatever. I don’t get it.”

The reason you don’t get it is that “simplify” is a dumbed-down explanation
of “dumb down.” In fact, to dumb down is more than to simplify; to dumb down
is to simplify too much, so that something important is lost, such as the

Okay, there’s some important material that has to go here from a dumbed-down
edition of Talcott Parsons’s work, but I can’t find the book right now. Later
on just to show what a big-hearted guy I am, and how I understand about how
sometimes there are details that can be left out, I’ll quote from Desmond Paul
Henry’s The De Grammatico of St. Anselm: The Theory of Paronymy
(Notre Dame, IN: Un. of Notre Dame Pr.,
1964). The second sentence of the fifth chapter runs thus:

However, for the purpose of providing an easily assimilable account of that

[sc. that of De grammatico]

the present section
attempts an exposition of its central thesis in a simple, informal, manner,
underpinned by cross-reference to the matter of previous sections as well as to
the ampler details given in section 6; the defects of informal exposition will
thus be compensated for by the unitary presentation of much material the
interrelationship of which might not otherwise have been apparent.

Get ON with it, man!

(And yes, the comma after informal is sic in the text.)

Okay now, I found that Parsons book. It’s called The Evolution of
(1977), and it’s “edited and with an introduction by Jackson
Toby.” As it happens, Talcott Parsons never wrote a book by that title. He
wrote Societies (1966) and The System of Modern Societies (1971).
These were combined and edited (using gasoline-powered shoe-horn and chain saw)
into the 1977 book by Toby, who ended his preface with this thought:

Although not an easy task, editing a masterpiece brings its own reward: the

(He says a little more, but I’ve simplified it.)

“Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler” is
widely attributed to Albert Einstein. A source for the quote is rarely given,
even when it is part of a partly sourced quote collection, but I think he
actually may have said something like this anyway.

Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass. A
neighborhood on the Brooklyn (NY) waterfront.
Demand repayment of debt.
Dial-Up Networking.
Data Universal Number System.
Demands repayment of debt.
Alternating monologues counterfeiting a dialogue.
Democratic Unionist Party. The hard-line unionist (q.v.) party formed by the Rev.
Ian Paisley in 1971. It held 20 seats in the first Northern Ireland Assembly; in the
elections of 2003 it increased its showing to 30 and became the largest party
in that body.

durable goods
Nominally, goods expected to last three years. The volume of durable goods
orders is a very rough financial indicator of consumer confidence and of
capital investment.

I bought a Munro muffler for my ungaraged Honda, and the shell of it rusted
apart in one year. This was not durable or good.

Defense University Research Instrumentation Program. Each major service
has its separate DURIP: Army (ARO), Navy (ONR) and Air Force (AFOSR).
A lot of the dust in habitations is flaked-off dried dead skin. So I’ve
read, but I haven’t tracked down the scientific studies. That’s what I should
really be writing about here, but I needed to establish the entry because it’s
the obvious place to go off on a “tangent” about Mars.

No skin yet, but Mars is dusty too. D. Crisp,
A. Pathare, and R.C. Ewell considered, inter alia, how this would affect
photovoltaic (PV) power sources there.
[“The performance of gallium arsenide/germanium solar cells at the Martian
surface,” in Acta Astronautica, vol. 54 #2, pp. 83-101 (2004).]
According to their theoretical model (validated by data from the Pathfinder
Lander), “[d]ust accumulation reduced the power output by 0.4 to 0.5% [per]
Martian day during the first 20 days of the mission, but the power loss rate
fell to ~0.1%/day after that. If these power loss rates are typical, solar
power provides a viable option for long-lived stations on the Martian
surface.” That analysis, like this paragraph, is very incomplete.

A Martian day is about 1.027 Earth days, so to the accuracy of these estimates,
there’s little point in distinguishing between Martian and Earth days.
Now, 20 days of 0.4% and 0.5% power losses add up to 7.7% and 9.5%,
respectively. The robot rovers that NASA landed on Mars in January 2004 were
reportedly expected to last about three months. Based on a loss rate of 0.1%
per day for 70 days, the solar panels should have been operating at 86% and 84%
after 90 days. Given that time of day, time of year and panel orientation all
have larger effects on power generation, it’s evident that dust accumulation
was not expected to be the critical factor. It’s not surprising that the
panels were not fitted with a wiper. However, the rovers were still active two
years later, by which time the accumulated dust should have reduced power to
about 45% of that under clear conditions.

However, NASA reports that several times, dust devils have blown away dust that
had covered the solar panels, restoring their ability to generate electricity.
Dust devils on Mars can have wind speeds of as much as 100 mph. The atmosphere
on Mars is pretty insubstantial, but not negligible: the atmospheric pressure
at the Mars surface is very roughly 0.01 Earth atmospheres, with seasonal
variations on the order of 12%. (During the northern-hemisphere summer, Mars
is 20% closer to the Sun and more carbon dioxide is sublimated from the
northern ice cap than is sublimated from the opposite ice cap during the
southern-hemisphere summer, giving a 25% higher atmospheric pressure.)

Device Under Test.
Dutch disease
Economic dislocations that occur when petroleum emerges as a major revenue
source in a national economy. (The Netherlands recovered, but in many cases
the disease seems to cause permanent damage.)
Dutch foil
Thin foil made of Dutch metal. Its main
practical use seems to have been as a cheap imitation of
gold foil. For some 1898 experiments described at
the alpha rays entry, Ernest Rutherford had
Dutch foil available in a thickness of 0.8 micron. (So thin, in fact, that he
didn’t determine a beta ray penetration
depth.) The aluminum foil he had available had a thickness of 5 microns, and
in subsequent studies he seemed to standardize on aluminum.
Dutch leaf
Dutch foil.
Dutch metal
An alloy of 11 parts copper and 2 parts zinc (by mass, of course). It’s
highly malleable; hence Dutch foil.
Dutch treat
We’re too polite to define this here, but you might find something useful
at this AA entry.
Deep UltraViolet (UV).
Daily Value. It doesn’t say “recommended daily value” or
maximum safe daily value,” now does it? No, it doesn’t.

Supersize it!

Debt Value Adjustment.
Department of Veterans Affairs.
Digital Video Broadcast.
DiVinyl Benzene.
The Da Vinci Code. A best-selling mystery novel (40 millions sold
world-wide as of mid-2006) and a movie from SONY. (I don’t mean “mystery” as
in “Eleusian mystery cult,” I don’t think.) It was concocted by Dan Brown
from various plot threads that have been kicking around the Mediterranean and
Europe for a couple of millennia, such as that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and
reproduced. It’s a sort of historical fiction or ahistorical fiction. It has
received angry condemnation (i.e., free advertising) from Christians and

In May 2006, before the movie was released, a poll concerning DVC was conducted
for the Catholic Church in England and Wales by Opinion Research Business (it
was the usual hypothetically representative sample — of 1,005 adults). It
found that sixty percent of the adults who had read the book believed there
was truth in the suggestion that Jesus had children and that his bloodline
survives, compared with 30 per cent of those who have not read it. There
doesn’t seem to be any way to tell from the poll data whether people inclined
to believe the J-line survives aren’t also more predisposed to read DVC.

Another finding was that 17% of DVC readers, as opposed to 4% of
others, believe that Opus Dei is a murderous sect. This means that fewer than 17%
of people surveyed in England and Wales think it’s a murderous sect, possibly a
lower number than one would find in parts of Spain and France.

Delaware Valley Council of
Citizens with Low Vision.
A local affiliate of the
Digital { Video | Versatile } Disc. Variously configurable, and used for
video and any other kind of digital data; The two expansions of the DVD acronym
appear to be treated as equally valid or official.

Read what EET-i reported about DVD industry convergence
on specs
. As of summer 1996, it looked like disagreement between DVD
developers and software (entertainment) industry would delay introduction to
1997. (As of Summer 1998, they were a common alternative to CD-ROM drives on
PC’s.) The entertainment industry was concerned about piracy. I’m not
interested in piracy because even when you steal a copy of the programming,
they still have and can rebroadcast it. When it becomes possible to steal
programming in a zero-sum kind of way, then there will be a social benefit
to piracy. Just imagine that you could somehow siphon off all the BeeGees and Barry Manilow software in the world,
and hide it away somewhere so no one could ever pollute the electromagnetic
spectrum with them again!

The standard is not even now, fall 1998, completely agreed. Generally,
however, DVD are basically CD’s: still 120mm
diam., 1.2 mm thick, aluminum-and-plastic. The laser wavelength is about
635-650 nm (compared to CDs’ 780), pits and lands have 0.4 micron dimensions
(cf. 0.83) and data tracks will only be 0.74 microns apart, instead
of 1.6 microns. This gives single-layer DVD’s a 4.7 Gb capacity, about a
factor of seven improvement on CD’s.

“Single-layer”? DVD’s are actually two-layer stacks of half-height
CD’s. The lower layer (closer to laser reader) uses a thin,
semi-transparent layer of gold instead of the standard thick and opaque
layer of aluminum. Thus, by adjustment of beam focus, both layers are
readable from one side, for a total of 9.5 Gb storage. (I’ve also read
8.5; perhaps there is some error-correction overhead, or lower capacity in
Au layer?)

DVD’s hold a bit more data than BVD’s, but they’re not as comfortable.

Episodes of the
Dick Van Dyke Show
are available on DVD.

Driver’s Vigilance Device. British term for a train driver’s dead man’s handle (called DSD), with the added feature of requiring a
positive action by the driver every so often to confirm that he’s awake.
Digital Video Disk (DVD) Recordable. Recordable
by an ordinary user, of course. A DVD that wasn’t ever recordable, even at
the factory, wouldn’t be very useful, although they’d be even less liable to
wear out. (As you realize now, “ROM” is not
Read-Only Memory in the strictest sense.)
Distributed Virtual Environment. A VE you can move
around in.
Diane von Furstenberg. A women’s fashion brand.
DVI, dvi
DeVice Independent. The language in which the output files of TEX are written, typically with filename
extension <.dvi>.
Digital Video Interactive.
Digital Video Interleaved. I wish they’d decide.
Direct Visual Inspection. See VIA.
Digital VoltMeter.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.
Direct Virtual Memory Access. Cf. DMA.
Digital Video Recorder. A service offered by cable-TV companies.
Deep Vein Thrombosis. Blockage of a deep vein. DVT affects about two
million people in the U.S. each year. It can be caused by restriction of
movement for long periods, possibly like the conditions in coach class. Hence
the alternate name “economy class syndrome.” The immobility can cause a
blood clot in a vein that breaks off and lodges in the heart or lungs.
Delaware Valley Translators Association.
“[O]rganized as a nonprofit association in the early 1960s by translators
working in the Greater Philadelphia area who were affiliated with the
American Translators Association. It
continues to work closely with the national organization.”
Digital Video Tape Recorder.
. `German Peoples’ Union.’ It began in 1971
as an informal group, and was established as a political party in 1987. It was
founded, and continues to be financed and run, by the Bavarian millionaire
publisher Gerhard Frey. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the DVU
is one of the three main ultra-right parties of
Germany (all of them small). The other two are the
NPD and die

In the 1998 general election, DVU won 1.2% of the vote (the threshold for
Bundestag seats is 5%) with particular strength in the former
East Germany, with 2.8% of the vote there.
It scored a surprising victory (12.7% of the vote) in the April
1998 Sachsen-Anhalt (Saxony) state elections.
In 2004, the DVU began a non-competition agreement with the NPD, and this first
came into play for the state elections in Brandenburg and Saxony. The DVU
won 6.1% of the vote in Brandenburg and the NPD won 9.2% in Saxony.

Data Warehouse. A kind of secondary database. What distinguishes a DW
from a db that is not a DW is that the DW collects
information from multiple, often very different (among themselves) other db’s.
Normal tasks for a DW include processing the received data to resolve
inconsistencies and integrating the data in advance, so a query to the DW is
not simply equivalent to multiple queries to its source db’s.
DW data are usually organized multidimensionally to support on-line analytical
processing (OLAP).
Density Wave.
Deutsche Welle. News
Driving While Ability-Impaired. Cf. DWI.

The first US law against driving drunk was passed in 1910. Drunkenness was
determined subjectively by the arresting officer. On Dec. 31 (appropriate
date), in 1938, the first breath test for car drivers was introduced. It was
Dr. R. N. Harger’s “drunkometer,” first officially introduced in
Indianapolis. Indianapolis is the home of a famous speedway. There’s
an herbal extract called Sobrup that
claims to accelerate metabolism of alcohol so blood alcohol levels fall faster
and hang-overs are reduced. It can’t be any less effective than mints.

Doctors Without
. (That links to the US homepage. See MSF for the organization’s international homepage.)
Driving While Black. Facetious name for the moving violation on suspicion
of which certain drivers are stopped by police. State police patrolling I-95, at least in New Jersey
and Maryland that I know of, are particularly notorious for DWB stops. In a
NY Times Magazine piece on the practice, in 1999
or so, even black cops in municipal forces complained of the practice.

It is illegal for police to stop an individual vehicle without cause, and
DWB is not a legal cause. Many cops feel that they have a nose or experience
that gives them a clue that something is up, and if this means they stop
more blacks than whites, well, criminality is higher among blacks. This
doesn’t stand up in court, but if the case comes to trial the officer can
claim that the car was being driven erratically. Alternatively, he can claim
he stopped the car for a broken tail-light (he can break it on the way back to
the patrol car).

Differential or prejudicial law enforcement is a continuing major concern in
black communities and for those who represent them, but as a political issue
is has lost traction with the general electorate. In the electoral campaign
for the Y2K Democratic presidential nomination,
ex-NJ-senator and ex-Knicks basketball player Bill Bradley seemed to start out
thinking he had a particular strength with black voters, and courted a broad
range of black leaders. As his campaign sank, it turned out that he had
strength with no particular voting bloc. The candidates — vice-president
Albert Gore, Jr. and Bill Bradley — held an unusual campaign debate at
Harlem’s historic Apollo theater, and law enforcement came up. They presented
similar anti-discrimination positions, but Gore used the phrase “driving while
black,” and probably scored a point or two for familiarity with the issue.
Using jargon or slang is a way of expressing or demonstrating in-group
solidarity, aye mate?

Apparently sometimes the indications have been rather undisguised. Here’s a
report from The Quotable
(NY: Allworth Pr., 2003). The quotation is undated, but
Hopkins, who sang the blues, died in 1982.

One night it’s two police cars stop me and ask me where I got all my money.
Say, “Where you been stealing?” I just show them this guitar and tell ’em,
“This makes my living.”
— Lightnin’ Hopkins

Distorted-Wave Born Approximation.
Digital Wireless Communications.
Downtown Westfield (NJ)
Dense Wavelength-Division Multiplexing (WDM).
Drinking-Water Equivalent Level. I’ll fill in any missing hyphen as soon
as I learn what this means.
Dead White European Male[s]. As opposed to the other kind?
Driving While . The “impaired” / “intoxicated”
distinction is not a purely semantic one. Many (most?) states distinguish
two levels of alcohol intoxication on the basis of blood alcohol level.
The lower level is then called “alcohol impairment” and the higher level
“alcohol intoxication.”

In the apocryphal book Tobit, chapter four, verse fifteen, the KJV translation reads (in the 1611 edition, since
editions from the 1640’s on excluded the Apocrypha)

Do that to no man which thou hatest: drink not wine to make thee drunken:
neither let drunkenness go with thee
in thy journey.

But if you do, journey on over to and use one of their DWI calculators to
determine what kind of sentence you can expect. Of course, YMMV.

Driving While Out-Of-State. Understood to mean, driving where unlikely
to return to contest ticket. Nobody uses this acronym yet, AFAIK. You’re
thinking: “if I lose my $100-fine case, I’ll appeal to a higher court on
grounds of DWOOS discrimination.” Jurisdictions have ways to make appeals
Daisy-Wheel Printer. More obsolete than dandelion wine.
Department for Work and Pensions. (A Whitehall department.)
Department of Water and Power. Should be the same as DWR if hydro is the only power source.
Digital Wave Processor.
Driving While Poor. Not the most common expansion of DWP, but not
unknown. On the pattern of DWB.
Defense Waste Processing Facility.
Drinking-Water Priority List.
Department of Water Resources.
Dripping With Sarcasm. The ess occasionally
stands for sweat, sex, or sludge, none of which things we have a dedicated
entry for yet.
Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. An EPA
program that allocates funds for water infrastructure improvements to states,
in approximate proportion to need. (Approximate in part because no state shall
receive less that one percent of available funds. This is quite a distortion:
only 50% of the funding can be moved around to account for the different water
infrastructure needs of, say, California and
Rhode Island.)
DWT, Dwt.
Dead Weight Ton[nage].
Driving While a Teen. On the pattern of DWB.

The first time I took my driver’s license exam, I had long hair and the
examiner had a military crew cut. I failed to use my turn signals (blinkers)
when I parallel-parked. At the end of the exam, he explained that he couldn’t
fail me for less than two errors. He failed me for not using the turn signals
and for “poor attitude.”

Down With The Clown. Also down wit’ de klown. A condition, even an
imperative condition, but not an imperative. Hence, “I’m DWTC” is accepted
usage, but not DWTC! It means `hip,’ not `à bas le clown!’ See the Juggalo entry to be DTWC and know what clowns are
referred to.
Dancing With The Stars. A TV program.
Driving While Under the Influence (of alcohol or other drugs). A variant
of DUI that is apparently common only in Wyoming.
Direct Write-on-Wafer. Photo-exposure of a wafer by laser scanning,
much as a laser printer prints.
Driving While a Woman. On the pattern of DWB.
I didn’t make this up myself, see?
Defect unknown/complex. Name originally given to defects which caused
persistent photoconductivity (PPC) in GaAs. Now
applied to similar defects in both III-V and
II-VI compound semiconductors.

A paper by D. J. Chadi and K. J. Chang, [Phys. Rev. Lett. 61,
873 (1988)] gave the interpretation of PPC and the microscopic nature of the
DX center that has come to be widely accepted. Basically, a DX center is
a large deformation associated with a negatively charged substitutional
impurity. [More later, if I should happen to get it straight in my mind.]

DX, Dx
Diagnosis. Medical abbreviation. Other common abbreviations of the
same form: Fx (fracture), Hx
(history), Rx
(prescription), SX (symptoms), TX (treatment).

Explanation of abbreviation at Rx.

Distance long. Used as a name for long-distance (typically amateur) radio
DupleX. Communication mode, not house type.

[Phone icon]

Digital Cross-Connect. A telephone-traffic routing system. In addition
to routing individual traffic, this digitally implements resource reallocation
on longer (hour, day, week) time scales. Also called
Data eXchange Interface. As in ATM-DXI.
Double crystal X-Ray Diffractomet{ er | ry }. (I guess that’s the
expansion, but X can stand for crystal.)
Deep X-Ray Lithography.
Dysprosium. Atomic number 66. A Lanthanide (rare earth:
RE). Learn more at its entry
in WebElements and its entry
at Chemicool.

Yet another of the elements whose names all mean “hard to obtain.”
Chemists are just a bunch of whiners.

How the HP logo (hp) appears on the back
of an HP laptop, from the perspective of the user opening it.
In a grave injustice, this word has been snubbed by
all three major Scrabble dictionaries.
As you are doubtless aware, this word describes, well, something to do with
R. Buckminster Fuller. Here: according to the OED2,

In a private communication (July 1969) Mr. Buckminster Fuller said that the
word was coined for him in 1929 by his business associates as a `word-portrait’
of him and his work. They were concerned to form a euphonious word of four
syllables based on words that occurred in Fuller’s own description of his
prototype (Dymaxion) house, viz. dy(namism), max(imum), and

Contrarily, the OED2 claims that it’s an adjective meaning “doing the most
with the least” — getting the greatest possible efficiency within the
constraints of existing technology. Nah. It just means “creative and cool.”

Twice in US history (1824, 2000), the son of a president has been elected
president himself.

    In both cases, the fathers (John Adams, George Herbert Walker Bush)

  1. served as ambassadors to a major foreign country (England, China)
  2. before serving as vice president
  3. during the two terms of a popular president (George Washington,
    Ronald Reagan)
  4. who had guided the country to victory in a major war on whose
    result the very existence of the country had hung
    (Revolutionary War, Cold War).
  5. The fathers, members of the more conservative political party
    (Federalists, Republicans),
  6. ran for president immediately after serving as vice president and
    defeated the Democratic Party candidate.
  7. They each served a single term.
  8. Regarded as aloof from the people, and
  9. criticized for increasing taxes,
    they ran against men with the name Jefferson (Thomas Jefferson,
    William Jefferson Clinton)
  10. and lost their bids for a second term.
  11. The men who defeated them each served two terms,
  12. and each was remembered at the end of the twentieth century for
    having had an extended nonmarital sexual relationship
  13. with a much younger, unmarried woman who worked for him in a
    relatively low-status position.
  14. That relationship was long and sometimes angrily, though carefully,
  15. but was eventually confirmed by
    means of DNA analysis.
  16. The defeated presidents’ eldest sons,
  17. bearing the father’s first name but distinguished by middle name
    (Quincy, dubya),
  18. and whose only legitimate offspring were daughters,
  19. each had some personal connection with
    Florida (Quincy negotiated its purchase from
    Spain in 1819, dubya’s brother was governor of the state).
  20. The sons ran against former senators from
    Tennessee (Andrew Jackson, Albert Gore).
  21. The sons’ opponents made reduction of the national debt part of
    their platforms, a position more usually associated with the fathers’
    political parties,
  22. and were successful in reducing the national debt.
  23. The sons’ opponents were men associated with wood (“Old Hickory,”
    wooden Al Gore) and
  24. were war veterans (Revolutionary War and War of 1812, Vietnam War),
  25. while the sons themselves had been on government service elsewhere
    during the major wars of their generations (Adams in Europe as a
    diplomat, Bush in the Texas National Guard
    and AWOL from the
    Georgia National Guard).
  26. In the elections, the sons lost the popular vote
  27. but won the presidency due to vagaries of the electoral college
  28. Both sons were opposed to slavery.

The End.
Do Your Own Homework!
Variant spelling of dipsomaniac. Not attested in any dictionaries I
can access electronically just now, and representing less than 2% of dipsomanic
hits in a web search, but not unknown. I noticed it in J.P. Marquand’s
B.F.’s Daughter (bibliographic details at the
BF entry), in chapter 13. Now that you know how to
spell it, you can look it up.
Dyslexic Occultist
Sold his soul to Santa. Cf. Nick. If
you’re in the mood, you’ll want to receive more punnishment by reading the next


Dyslexic Theologian
Ponders the nature of Dog. For more off-beat
metaphysics, look into Revealed Tea.

At the end of The Clouds by Aristophanes, the penitent Strepsiades asks
a statue of Hermes for advice. In the 1962 edition of William Arrowsmith’s
translation, the stage direction reads:

He puts his ear close to the dog’s mouth as though listening to whispered

The Dogster website uses the motto “for
the love of dog.” For more lighthearted
metathesis-based jokes (witch doctors of
PC will re-guard as mien-spirited attacks on
dis lexics), see the
preceding entry and
agnostic dyslexic insomniac.
(We also have a haphazard list of homonyms at the ANK entry. But we don’t joke about homonym spelling
errors because of um — kinda close to home, you know — there but for the
grace of God go I. Hey wait a second. Over there, fifth row, second from the
left — that is me! A lot of good all that grace did! I shoulda fed
the dog better instead of tithing. Ahem. If you actually want to do something
for the dyslexic, see RFB&D.)

(Domain name code for) Algeria. Doesn’t sound very mnemonic to me.
A former Department of France.

African Studies
(at the University of
) offers
a resource page
. The
Norwegian Council for Africa
(NCA) has a
Algeria page

A State Department travel
advisory issued June 16, 1998
says basically don’t go, it’s

I’m not sure I’d put much faith in the
CIA map of Algeria
; it shows Gibraltar as an Andalusian city.

Dizygotic Twins. (“Fraternal” twins: embryos, and individuals, arising
from two different fertilized eggs that happen to be gestating simultaneously
in the womb.) Cf. MZT.
DEC terminal server type 200.
Third-generation channel bank: 24 voice channels on a T1 line.
Third-generation channel bank: handles 48 voice channels on two T1 lines or one T-1C.
d4T, D4T
An NRTI used to treat
AIDS. The registered trademark is Zerit, and
stavudine (Stavudin in German) is the generic name. I don’t know what the code
stands for, but since it’s an NRTI I assume T stands for the nucleic-acid base
The Developing 8. A group of large (i.e., populous) countries that
don’t have large (i.e., prosperous) economies, except for hydrocarbon
fuel production (Indonesia, Iran, and Nigeria). Here are the 8 D-8 members, in
increasing order of population (given in millions), from the
International Data Base
of the US Census Bureau website. Don’t blink, the numbers change.

  1. Malaysia. (Forty-sixth most populous country in the
    world, as of 2006. A neighbor of Indonesia.)
  2. Iran. (You thought it was only 40 million? Dream on,
    baby. That was 1980.)
  3. Turkey.
  4. Egypt.
  5. Nigeria.
  6. Bangladesh.
  7. Pakistan.
  8. Indonesia. (Fourth most populous country in 2006,
    after China, India, and the US.)

You wonder why Brazil (pop. 188 million, fifth most populous country in the
world), Russia (143M, #8), Mexico (107M, #11), Philippines (89M, #12), and
Vietnam (84M, #13) are not part of D-8. If you rank
by their populations of Muslims, then for the top eight you get
the D-8 minus Malaysia and plus India. So obviously the selection principle
has nothing to do with religious confession. Indeed, D-8 official
announcements don’t claim it does. It’s just an impenetrable mystery.


SBF Glossary: D
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