Your Mom's a Shibboleth!

Entry #1548, Wed, November 28, 2007, 14:44 CET (Life in General)
(posted when I was 29 years old.)

While in Chicago, my family one night played a game of Dictionary. This game, suggested by my mom, has the same basic concept as Balderdash. One player picks a word out of a dictionary, and the others make up definitions for it. You score points for picking the correct definition as well as for getting others to pick yours.

One word that came up was Shibboleth.

Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand. - Judges 12:6, KJV

Most of us made up words having to do with Judaism in some manner. The dictionary definition, however, was "any practice that identifies members of a group," or something along those lines.

Being unfamiliar with the historical context of the word, we all just kinda said "huh," and moved on. It did strike Annie and I as a fun word to say, though, so we found ourselves saying it at each other or working it into sentences (having already forgotten its meaning). It wasn't more than a day or two later that I read an article in The Economist that used the word.

How's that for a plate of shrimp?

...

Since about the beginning of July, I've been behind in my reading of The Economist. Owing primarily to travel, I would be absent for the arrival of an issue or two, and then find myself in catch-up mode.

So for the past however many months, a new issue would arrive before I finished the previous one. Faced, in the US, with the prospect of three issues arriving in my absence, I decided to purchase those issues there rather than fall behind. Though this strategy cost me $10, it worked out. Last week I caught up with The Economist.

In fact, I caught up too quickly. I spent two days in Essen, and with plenty of time to read on the train, finished up on Wednesday. That left me with two days without an issue of The Economist. My commute became nearly unbearable.

...

In Riyadh, the office I spent most of my time in had a vent for the air conditioning. The temperature was centrally controlled and set rather cold. There was no way to block this vent, and it pointed right at the spot I was usually seated. So I generally kept my suit coat on, but still found myself uncomfortably cold. In Saudi Arabia, with outside temperatures hovering around 50 degrees Celsius, I spent a lot of time too cold.

So, being who I am, I found a solution to this problem in software. I wrote a program I named handwarmer.c:

int main(int argc)
{
  while ( 1 )
  {
    argc++;
  }
  return 0;
}

This heated up the CPU in my laptop, which in turn led to the fan kicking in. The laptop itself warmed my legs, while I could use the warm exhaust air to warm my hands.

...

The Economist Style Guide advises that newspapers and periodicals should be italicized, while "Books, pamphlets, plays, radio and television programmes are roman, with capital letters for each main word, in quotation marks." No explicit mention of movies, but I figured they'd follow the same rule as books and plays.

Meanwhile, several people responded to my previous post suggesting italics. The other style guides I found online did as well. A random sampling of entries in the "Movies" topic finds most of them in roman without quotes. A few with quotes, but none in italics. I really should put together a Pete's Log Style Guide, just because I know I've been terribly inconsistent.

Perhaps I'll add some more markup to my blog code in order to unify movie titles and such.

...

But you know what? Not only was Shibboleth a plate of shrimp, a plate of shrimp might itself be a Shibboleth!


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Comments for this log entry:

Shibboleth puncuation by bmoore (Wed, November 28, 2007, 08:09)
Now that you are getting your style guide on, you just need to work your shibboleth title punctuation!

by junodog (Wed, November 28, 2007, 20:07)
I read something about Shibboleth and funny words.


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