Since January 1926, the award-winning magazine published by the San Diego Zoological Society has been titled ZOONOOZ. It’s a bedazzling, beguiling and bewitching name because it’s a palindrome, reading the same forward and backward. It also reads the same right side up and upside down. Topsy-turvy words like ZOONOOZ that retain their appearance turvy topsy (upside down) are called ambigrams. Swivel this page around 180 degrees and gaze upon the eight words below:
dip dollop mow NOON
pod SIS suns SWIMS
I cannot recommend more passionately the Academy Award nominated film “Hidden Figures.” The movie tells the inspiring story of the African American women whose skills in mathematics and computing helped launch the rockets that lifted Alan Shepard and John Glenn beyond the heavens.
The title of this masterpiece encompasses a double meaning. The hidden figures are the elusively intricate calculations required for those early leaps into space to succeed. And the pioneering women who helped ensure that success are also hidden figures whose story and stamp have, until now, been lost in the mists of time and circumstance.
As odd as it may seem to us today, these talented women were themselves called “computers,” a practice that harks (not “harkens”) back to the early days of typewriters. Here’s a passage from The Octopus (1901), by American novelist Frank Norris:
Lyman Derrick sat dictating letters to his typewriter.
“That’s all for the present,” he said at length.
Without reply, the typewriter rose and withdrew, thrusting her pencil into the coil of her hair, closing the door behind her, softly, discreetly.
Norris was not fabricating a science-fiction tale featuring robot typewriters. Rather, back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a typewriter was a person who worked on a typewriting machine, not the machine itself.
The stock market is experiencing a Trump bump and a bull run these days, trampling previous records and adding trillions of dollars in value. As descriptions of investors, bear and bull have been around since the early 1700s.
The bear market metaphor seems to have arisen out of a story common to many cultures that tells about a man who sold a bearskin before he caught his bear. On this analogy, certain speculators in London’s Exchange, the Wall Street of its day, became known as bearskin jobbers. These financial dice rollers gambled on a falling market, selling stock they didn’t own in the hope that it would drop in value, before they had to deliver it to the purchaser.
The bestial analogy in a bull market is to the habit testosterone-fueled bulls have of pushing forward and tossing their heads upward, an apt emblem for a market driven by investors who believe that stock prices will go up.
Recent surveys show that a significant number of singles are picky about the grammar they encounter whizzing around online dating sites. They’re more likely to fall in love with those who share their respect for intelligent sentence structure and correct punctuation. In fact, some of these love seekers use an app called the Grade. It’s a device that checks messages for typos and grammar, spelling and punctuation atrocities, assigning each text a grade from A to F.
With the Union-Tribune countywide spelling bee coming up on March 23, you might be interested in learning what are the 10 most frequently misspelled words in English. When the staff of the Oxford Dictionaries Company searched their Oxford New Monitor Corpus electronically for the words misspelled at the highest percentages for when they were written, they came up with these terrible ten:
10. accomodate 9. wich 8. recieve 7. untill 6. occured 5. seperate 4. goverment 3. definately 2. pharoah 1. publically
Here’s an unusual use of pronouns to make a point about our lives:
This is a story about four people — Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.
There was an important job to be done, and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody would have done it, but Nobody did it.
Somebody got angry about that because it was Everbody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it,
It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.