The Hardest Thing About Creating Atom Was Naming It

My RSS Advisory Board blog post marking 20 years of Atom includes an expression I learned during that project's boundless debate among a hundred people about what to name the format. An issue so simple that everyone feels comfortable voicing an opinion is a "bike shed discussion," and the length of discussion will be inversely proportional to its importance. The phrase was popularized by an email from developer Poul-Henning Kamp to a FreeBSD mailing list in 1999. He got it from a 1960s book ... (read more)

Who the Hell is Rogers Cadenhead?

There's a new story on Firedoglake this morning titled Who the Hell is Rogers Cadenhead? The author goes through my background and describes me as a "semi-deranged" former journalist. That's disappointing. Not fully deranged? A lot of people on Firedoglake and Daily Kos are questioning my motives and accusing me of writing a "hit piece" against Hamsher. I do not regard it as a personal attack to investigate how a PAC spends its money and ask the founders about specific expenditures. A PAC is ... (read more)

New Word: Cupertino

There's a new meaning for the word cupertino that has nothing to do with the city in California, according to the etymology site World Wide Words. A cupertino is any word that's produced when a lazy editor accepts spellcheck suggestions without reviewing them, as in this press release: In August, nGenera announced version 8.1 of its Talisma Knowledgebase, saying the release added enchantments to its search functionality through an OEM agreement with enterprise search vendor Autonomy. The name ... (read more)

Handle 'Scumbag' with Care

The original meaning of the slang term scumbag was a bit more specific than "despicable person" -- it meant "used condom." The New York Times once put a scumbag in its famous crossword puzzle and angered readers. Former Rep. Dan Burton called President Clinton a scumbag in 1998, sparking press attention in the word's unsavory origins. Now that I've told you this, please enjoy the following metaphor from Dennis Byrne's commentary about the Foley scandal in the conservative weekly Human Events ... (read more)

Worst New Word of 2005: Popesquatter

The American Dialect Society has declared that pope-squatting is the new term least likely to succeed for 2005, rating it ahead of the acronym GSAVE (global struggle against violent extremism) and Brangelina, the nickname given to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. The society defines the term as a verb that means "registering a domain name that is the same of a new pope before the pope chooses his new name in order to profit from it." This would exclude me, since I donated BenedictXVI.Com to the ... (read more)

Poker? I Barely Know Her

I'm not much of a Texas Holdem poker player, which I blame on my obsession with the slang terms for different hands. I'd rather draw a well-named hand than a winning one. Yesterday I was trying to explain to my wife why a six and nine of the same suit, "6-9 suited," is called a prom night. She wasn't getting it at all, even when I offered to draw a picture. While playing last week with a poker fanatic brother-in-law, we began discussing athletes on my junior high basketball team who quit to ... (read more)The online magazine Slate, now a part of the Washington Post Company, has developed an anal fixation. A line from David Edelstein's Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith review: With his lisp and his clammy little leer, he looks like an old queen keen on trading an aging butt-boy (Count Dooku) for fresh meat -- which leaves Anakin looking more and more like a 15-watt bulb. Jack Shafer: I've been called many ugly things in my life -- neo-con, without decency, Michael Kinsley's butt boy -- but school ... (read more)

I'm Totally Straight, But ...

A few weeks ago I invented a new game dubbed googlemilking -- looking for a phrase in search engines that lends itself to hilarious, off-color, or unintentionally self-revealing results. The game was covered by the Scotsman newspaper yesterday, and you can find players by searching for the first googlemilk: "I'm totally straight, but ...": Just as you know that any sentence beginning with the words "I'm not one of those racialists but ..." will end in a diatribe about immigration, it is obvious ... (read more)

I Blog For Short

New York Times: On the Web log, or blog, he chronicles his daily life, his small victories, his disappointments, his liberal views on politics and the health of his pets. Washington Post: Mosteller's supervisors and co-workers at the Durham, N.C., Herald-Sun were well aware of her Weblog, or blog. ABC News (Australia): The lanky, sandy-haired writer composes a frequently updated Internet journal -- weblog, or blog for short ... Maine Today: Hands-on science experiments, creating an online ... (read more)

Departing Anchorman is Rather Odd

When Dan Rather leaves CBS Evening News in March, America will lose our best chance to see an anchorman completely blow his top on live television, Howard Beale style. During the Jennings-Brokaw-Rather era of network news, there has never been question who the weirdest anchor was. Wikipedia runs down a few rather odd moments, from the disturbing "what's the frequency, Kenneth?" mugging to his telling people "Courage" at the end of broadcasts for one week in September 1986, at which point he ... (read more)