Oxymoron #atozchallenge

Oxymoron is a word formed from the Greek words ὀξύς (oksus), “sharp, pointed, keen,” and μωρός (moros), “dull, stupid, foolish.” An oxymoron is a contradiction in terms. Even the word is a contradiction in terms (i.e. “sharp dull”).

We mostly think in terms of comical oxymorons, such as

  • jumbo shrimp
  • educational television
  • military intelligence
  • business ethics
  • civil war
  • happily married
  • Microsoft Works
  • tall shortstop

The term sophomore (used to denote the second year of high school or college in the US) is an oxymoron, (sophos, “smart” + moros, “stupid”).

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is full of them: “brawling love,” “loving hate,” “heavy lightness” etc.

I’m sure that you can think of a few more…

Obituary #atozchallenge


I spent a lot of time with my mother when I would go to Chicago on business. After she retired, she would still get up and have coffee with me before I left for work, and we would read the Chicago Tribune. I was most interested in the sports and some of the front section, while she would immediately turn to what we liked to call “the Irish sport pages,” i.e. the death notices. If a person was relatively famous (the owner of a business, an executive at one of the major employers, a member of the clergy, etc.) they would get an obituary, which would recount some of the highlights of the person’s life, charitable organizations the person worked for, as well as surviving family members and arrangements for the wake, funeral, and burial. If they weren’t, they just got a simple death notice, stating when and where they died, listing the person’s surviving relatives, and the funeral arrangements.

Some people don’t like to have obituaries and death notices published. There are people who read the obituaries and death notices with an eye toward visiting the home when they know no one will be there and burgling the place while the occupants are busy burying their dead. I think there’s a special circle in hell for people who do that.

Mom started reading the death notices after Dad died. A few months after he died, his Aunt Genevieve died. She had never married, so she was also Genevieve Holton. Mom was at work, sitting in the teachers’ lounge at break time, reading the death notices, and came across Aunt Genevieve’s. She announced to all there, “well, I guess I can go home, I just found my death notice.” Her fellow teachers didn’t find it as funny as she did.

I think that’s why people read the death notices: to see if anyone they know has died, and to make sure they aren’t there.

Overlap #atozchallenge


Remember Venn diagrams when you were in school?

Venn diagram showing what letter shapes are common in the Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic alphabets. By Watchduck (a.k.a. Tilman Piesk) (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

John Venn wrote a paper in 1880 called On the Diagrammatic and Mechanical Representation of Propositions and Reasonings where he showed how to use these diagrams to demonstrate propositions and relationships. The overlapping areas show where elements of two or more sets are common to both or all of them. For example, we see from the above diagram that the characters O, A, B, E, M, X, K, Y, T, H, and P are common to to the Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic alphabets. That’s the triangular area where all three sets overlap, and is called the intersection of all three sets. In mathematical terms, if L is the Latin alphabet (upper right circle), G the Greek alphabet (upper left circle), and C is the Cyrillic alphabet (lower circle),

LGC = {O, A, B, E, M, X, K, Y, T, H, P}

There are other overlaps, like the section that has letters in both the Latin and Greek alphabets but not in Cyrillic:

LG \ C = {I, N, Z}

Wikipedia, which regular readers will recall is the blogger’s best friend, has a whole article on Venn diagrams and what they all represent. My only purpose in talking about this is to say that the intersection of two or more sets is where they overlap.

Five By “O” Artists #atozchallenge #mmmm


A mash-up with Monday’s Music Moves Me!


Real simple post: five by artists whose names start with “O,” first, last or only.

Oliver – “Jean”: The theme from the 1969 movie The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, starring Miss McGonigal Maggie Smith.

Olivia Newton-John – “I Honestly Love You”: her 1974 hit, leaving us teenaged boys a little dreamy-eyed…

Ottmar Liebert – “Barcelona Nights”: Haven’t heard much from him lately, but he was popular on all the smooth jazz/New Age stations in the 1990’s. First track off his 1989 album Nouveau Flamenco, which doesn’t have a lot of flamenco music on it.

The O’Kaysions – “Girl Watcher”: Some blue-eyed soul from Wilson, NC. This not-terribly-PC song by 2016 standards was #5 on the Pop chart and #6 on the R&B chart in 1968.

Billy Ocean – “Caribbean Queen”: Considered the top R&B artist in the UK in the early to mid Eighties, this reached #1 in the US and the UK in 1984.

And that’s it for Monday’s Music Moves Me and for the letter “O”!

Monday’s Music Moves Me is sponsored by X-Mas Dolly, Callie, Stacy, and Naila Moon, so be sure and visit them, where you can also find the Linky for the other participants.

Monday's Music Moves Me

#atozchallenge: Oxbridge

Oxbridge =
Oxford University
+ Cambridge University


Oxford University coat of arms (source: Wikipedia, public domain)

Cambridge University coat of arms (source: Wikipedia, public domain)

Even a Yank like me knows that the two most important and most prestigious universities in the United Kingdom (and possibly the world) are Oxford University and Cambridge University. Wikipedia tells us that William Thackeray, in his 1849 novel Pendennis, came up with the name Oxbridge when he described a university that was similar to both Oxford and Cambridge. Virginia Woolf used the name in her 1929 essay A Room Of One’s Own, citing Thackeray. By the late 1950’s it was being used to describe both universities collectively, usually in comparison to other colleges and universities, and in a slightly class-conscious way about the people who attend them. Evidently Thackeray also referred to Camford University, a slightly different portmanteau, but it never caught on.

I had a friend in college who had as his goal to send his children to Oxford. Don’t know if he ever made it. He himself talked his way into Harvard, then talked his twin brother into it as well. I don’t know that Harvard compares well or not to Oxbridge, but I know it’s pretty well thought of here.

Many of my readers live in the UK and other current or former Commonwealth countries; do any of you know anyone who went to either university?