08/08/2016

More notable words, ain't like you can stop me


  • poz (Troll v.). 1) To intentionally infect with venereal disease, especially HIV. Mercy. 2) By analogy, to stealthily corrupt a culture. I don't think either has ever been deployed by a decent human being.

  • mortmain (French n.). 'Deadhand'. Common law term for the legally binding decisions of dead people. See also the awesome-sounding area of public policy, dead hand control. Like forex control, pest control.

  • truscum (SJ n. and adj.). Person who holds, along with most of the medical establishment, that gender dysphoria is a necessary condition for someone to be transgender. This gets attacked in the strongest terms for gatekeeping and questioning the lived experience* of nonbinary people who want to call themselves trans. It is all very sad that it is impossible to talk clearly about it. See also "tucute" for the equally unhelpful mirror insult.
  • * Had to force myself not to use scare quotes there. A dreadful pious phrase; what other kind of experience is there?

  • warrant canary (n.). Vague public symbol implying that a service provider has not been served with a secret government subpoena for their user data. Some canaries are fail-safe, e.g. requiring that someone adds them again every day to get around gag orders that prevent you from taking any action that mentions the subpoena. Nice idea, but they may be meaningless, since subject to the same covert gag order that prevents direct disclosure of the subpoena or the gag. Though Reddit's one may have worked as intended, since even in the case where lawyers advised them to take it down without being subpoenaed, they advised this for a recent, proximate Reason.

  • backreaction (n.): In cosmology, a complicated factor representing the inhomogeneity of the model universe. Very roughly (I think!): how much a thing modifies the environment it is in, or how much the environment pushes back. Also the name of an excellent, philosophically literate particle physics blog by Sabine Hossenfelder.

  • scientometrics (n.): Awful name for a good thing: the scientific approach to the aggregation and evaluation of science. It is remarkable how unreflective we have been about how we allocate our time and add the dots into actual knowledge. (e.g. funding into the near-Earth asteroid survey was "a few million dollars" last year; the total cosmetic surgery expenditure was about $20bn)

  • mistress dispelling (n.). (Chinese) Industry of private investigators who stalk and drive away your partner's mistress. Package includes therapy for the cheated-on party and infiltration and emotional manipulation of the mistress. The companies have names like "Marriage Hospital" and "Emotion Clinic". Better than getting stabbed, I guess.

  • abaptation (n.). The determination of an organism's fit with its environment via evolutionary forces acting on ancestors. ("The prefix ‘ab-’ emphasizes that the heritable characteristics of an organism are consequences of the past and not anticipation of the present or future.") Winner of the "most likely to be falsely corrected by even a highly literate copy-editor" award.

  • philosopher's quotes (n.). The mention-operator. e.g. as when mentioning the word 'word'. Tells humans (and e.g. the C# compiler) to read as string and not as a name. ESR denotes them with single quote marks, and saves double marks for direct quotation. Programmers also have the ticks, ``, for marking out variable names. Technically we need a fourth one for scare quotes (which is a mixture of use and mention of a word: it implies a contentious usage).

  • eminence-based medicine (n.): Joke name for the pre-EBM paradigm.

  • surging / swaying / heaving, rolling / pitching / yawing (v.). The "six degrees of freedom" of a rigid object in 3D space: the motion and tilt possible on each axis. Like the physical description of types of strength, this fascinates me for some reason.


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