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Friday, 10 August 2018

I have been busy (again!)

Somewhat predictably, but a bit earlier than I expected, the National Library of Australia has decided to publish a fourth edition of The Big Book of Australian History. (By the way, I notice that this link was out of date, so I have updated it: you may need to refresh the page, if it doesn't show the four editions at the start.)

The third edition weighs 1.1 kg, so it is, indeed, big. It contains 90,000 words in 120 articles, covering the key points in the continent's history, from pre-Gondwana onwards: I don't accept that Australia began in 1788.

It comes right up to present day, so I now need to fit in same sex marriage legislation, the Uluru Statement, and keep an eye out in case the Korean War is finally officially closed. I have to get the changes in Prime Minister in, trends in The Yarts, stuff like that.

Meanwhile Australian Backyard Earth Scientist and I note that this was another link in need of updating, so I did that as well. Don't forget to refresh, if you don't see an ISBN.

Another book that has been a little troublesome has been through the editor, but it has yet to get an imprimatur, so I will hold back on saying more just yet. I think it will be useful.

One good thing I have done this year is Going Micro. This is a pro bono work that I did for the people in Adelaide who are behind the excellent Go Micro, a clip-on low-power microscope that works with tablets and smart phones.

If you click on that link, you can get a free copy in PDF format. I retain the copyright in the text, and therein lies my current project. I don't have a publisher yet, but its working title is Looking at Small Things, and it uses the text that was written for Going Micro, but the tools to be used now are hand-lens, clip-on and full-on microscope. Right now LaST is two-thirds complete

I might add that later this term, I will be doing master classes with Stage 3 students at my local school, using clip-ons and also microscopes through a USB camera.

Meanwhile, in parallel, Not Your Usual Rocks (70% complete), a giant history of science (mostly done) and a work currently called A Shore Companion (half-done) are pushing ahead, though the last two may be sidelined for a fun work loosely based on my Science Playwiths website. That is scoped, and most of the text is there.

Why do I have so many things on the go?  Putting it simply, there's no writer's block in this house: I just switch to the next title. To be honest, I think that if I were at school today, I would be diagnosed ADHD.  This is why I don't damn kids who jump from idea to idea: we ADHD people just have superior brains, and can do several things at once.

The best computers use parallel processors, the best minds are capable of multi-tasking, but developing minds are slammed with the libellous label:


Another reason: as I approach advanced middle age, I need to ask myself: if I cark it, which works would I be most annoyed having not finished?

In the middle of the night, the answer that comes back is all of them? so I suppose I should get on with it.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

The Alternative Dictionary 26


wage restraint. A process where the employer wages war, and the staff are kept under restraint.

wagon. A modern-day name given to what was once called a wain. It appears that the modern name derives from the wain behaving like a supermarket trolley, and jamming alternate wheels, so that it ‘wags’ along the road. The old word is still acceptable, for wherever there's a wheel, there's a wain.

war. The continuation of diplomacy by another means.

water. A most unfortunate liquid, being the cause of floods, drowning, skidding and brake failure in cars, electrocution (in some cases), drought (in its absence), and the encouragement of teetotallers. Regular users normally die if they are not provided with a continuing supply.

water drainage. With the larger Gothic buildings of the Middle Ages, roof water became more of a problem. The answer was to construct ‘gargles’, as the down-pipes were called, to carry the water away. Most of the noise came from the stone connection at the top, and the name transferred to this part. Later, as the style grew more decorative, they became the modern gargoyle.

water flea. Any of a number of small crustaceans, about the size of a flea, which live in water. They usually avoid the light, except when beer is poured in their tanks, when they rise to the surface, a fact discovered by Jacques Loeb. Nobody has been able to discover what Loeb was doing when he poured the beer into their tanks. It would have done more good if he had poured it into a gargoyle.

water shed. An igloo after hot weather.

water sheep. It is only now becoming clear that modern sheep owe their fine greasy wool coat to evolution, having been aquatic mammals for some thirty million years. The signs were all there, of course, in the well-known hydraulic ram, and in breeds such as the Merino (clearly a corruption of ‘marino’), and even in the Romney Marsh breed. Careful cross-breeding will soon restore something close to the original ocean-going sheep, and allow us to harvest the seas in an entirely new way.

waters of Lethe. The result of distilling milk of amnesia at a low temperature in a high vacuum.

wave function. A surf party.

weasel. A proverbially clean animal, as indicated by the well-known folk saying ‘as clean as a weasel’. There used to be two giant weasels kept in Lhasa, a small village in Nepal (not to be confused with the capital of Tibet, also called Lhasa). The Nepalese village attained great fame in the 19th century on account of these two animals, and was distinguished from the Tibetan city by being called the Lhasa of two weasels.

wedding dress. A white dress, sometimes cynically worn, and commonly made of layers of fine silk net. In many cultures, this is handed down from mother to daughter, on the grounds that there is no tulle like an old tulle.

weevil. A kind of beetle, often found in the company of a smaller specimen, this smaller specimen being generally known to coleopterologists as the lesser of two weevils.

weight lifting. Athletes are very fond of this sport, if only to point to it when people make disparaging remarks about athletics. They would, of course, be wiser to look at synchronised swimming.

weight loss. A cause of disqualification for weight lifters.

well bread. A very tough form of baked bread, able to be dropped down the deepest well without cracking the crust. Some makers cheat in bread-dropping contests, using a very light dough, but in most cases, the well bread starts off with materials very similar to those found in lumpenproletariat.

Wellington, Duke of. The inventor of gumboot diplomacy. After he had his boots named, Wellington became a source of jealousy among other generals, some of whom attempted to achieve the same degree of notoriety through the back door, as it were. Lord Cardigan had himself ennobled under the name of his favourite item of attire, while the Earl of Sandwich tossed a coin to decide whether he would be that or the Earl of Haddock and Chips. Perceptively, he foresaw either the decline of the North Atlantic fisheries or the failure of haddock and chips to be accepted outside of Britain, and so he chose Sandwich.

Well-tempered Clavier, The. The source of a great deal of pleasant music, composed by the immortal J. S. Bach. Bach's lesser-known Bad-tempered Clavier, like Beethoven's Rage over a Lost Penny, is a source of a different choler.

weltanschauung. As often happens in German, new words are created by stringing old ones together. In this case, the equivalent words in English are ‘well’, ‘tan’, and ‘showing’. With this information, it is relatively easy to deduce that this word simply means a German person who has been on holiday to a sunny place. While there, these people are able to engage in careful contemplation, which is why the word is so often used by German philosophers.

whale. A marine mammal hunted mainly by people who have never heard of Sigmund Freud. Being fallen on by a whale, according to Freud, is a fairly traumatic experience, and most people to whom this happens remain under cetacean for some considerable time. Japanese scientific whaling is the only known branch of science where the scientists eat their evidence. With flensers like these, who needs enemies? A live whale is the source of no item which cannot be otherwise synthesised or obtained, with the possible exception of baby whales.

Wheatstone bridge. An invention of the Victorian era for getting across currents with the minimum of resistance. As the name implies, it was invented by a certain Mr Christie.

whim. A mine tunnel given to ‘groaning’, as the rock above bears down on the pit props and timbers. Such a tunnel may collapse without warning, so superstitious miners will never use the word in its correct sense.

whimsy. A mine tunnel showing many of the more obvious characteristics of a whim. Also known in the Cornish variant of flimsy, common in South Australia.

whip-round. A daisy chain of flagellants.

white ants. Small and industrious insects which work with all termite.

white elephant. A problem which can sometimes be solved with a coat of paint. In the case of the original literal pachydermatous white elephant, research shows that some colours work better than others , and that the solution is generally easier red than dun.

White House. A house of a different colour. See Black Bottom.

whitewater badminton. A game played in a specially prepared sluice, with a net running down the middle, and large teams. Team members jump into the water at fixed times, and endeavour to continue the badminton game as they are washed through the ‘whitewater section’, after which they are free to run back to the start, jump in, and start over again. The largest team on record, the ‘Baulkham Hills Car-Dealers’, used 12 surviving players (losses during the game are not counted, especially in the case of that team). They were later disqualified, for reasons which have never been disclosed, which is unfortunate, as they gave up the sport after that.

widdershins. In the northern hemisphere, a term meaning counter to deasil, the direction followed by the sun's shadow on a sundial. These directions are reversed in the southern hemisphere. In many cultures, to go widdershins three times around a church will cause you to disappear, which may help to account for the missing dark matter.

widow's mite. A small aquatic arthropod, related to the spiders. These mites are highly regarded because of their ability to concentrate gold from minuscule proportions in the water they inhabit, some of them containing as much as 30% gold by weight. The widow's mite burrows under the skin and causes a small blister, and can then be ‘mined’. Unfortunately, there are other mites which create similar lesions which lack the same bullion value, and hopeful beginners learn a quick but painful lesson that all that blisters is not gold.

wife-swapping. A term used in the ‘Swinging Sixties’ to refer to the activity better known as the night of the wrong wives.

wig making. A little appreciated art, except by the bald. The indigent bald are especially appreciative of the so-called devil toupée, a very cheap wig of borrowed hair, crocheted on a pantyhose base. The rule for making one of these is quite simple: first cadge your hair, then hook it.

wild oats. After these have been sewn, Scotsmen in Freudian kilts come along in foraging bands and gather them to eat. They can live on this forage for months at a time, and this has given us the modern English word ‘porridge’.

wimple. The piteous cry of a young puppy, when it is first separated from its mother.

window dresser. Every voyeur's dream.

winning. Something that the true sportsman and sportswoman cares not a fig for, just so long as their opponent loses.

winter. A time when the mosquitoes finally die off. This is widely celebrated when the actual day can be identified, being known as the last of the summer whine.

wisdom. The art of knowing more than your neighbour, and concealing the fact.

witchcraft. Broomsticks, etc.

woad. A substance used by the Ancient Britons to colour their skins, mainly in order to hide their belly buttons, about which they were greatly embarrassed, so much so that they were in the habit of slaying those who caught a glimpse of the umbilical scar. This practice has given us the expressions ‘keep your eye on the woad’, and ‘see navels and dye’.

wobbegong. A terrible shark. It gets its name from the look on the faces of their victims.

wood chipping. The rapid conversion of forests into small and apparently uniform pieces of potential paper. The rapidity is necessary as a forest in fact contains a great deal more than trees, but nobody can tell this from the end product. Philosophers continue to disagree about what would happen if a tree in a forest fell on a wood chipper, but they generally seem to think it would be worth trying under as many conditions as possible.

wood louse. The colourful pejorative often applied to those who engage in wood chipping. Neutral assessors generally agree that the term is justified.

word processor. A convenient modern device, depending for its effect on small integrated circuit chips, made of silicon, not wood. Given good programming, word processors can do almost anything, even turn the tortured syntax of a journalist into good writing overnight, all with a device containing four chips, two of which control the process, and two specialised light-sensitive chips which parse in the night.

worm. 1. A long or sinuous animal, but not both, as it is a long worm that has no turning. 2. A wood chipper.

wowser. A secret indulger in vice. Most wowsers use all manner of subterfuge to pretend that they are not as they really are, and often campaign against that which is their greatest pleasure. Wood chippers are an exception to this principle.

wreckers. People who used all sorts of ploys to cause passing ships to be wrecked. often converting the timbers into wood chips. The Cornish wreckers used to pick arguments with passing Welsh sailors, provoking the into sailing close inshore where the ships were trapped on specially constructed quarrel reefs. The trapped Welsh were then gleefully told that they were the victims of quarrel fixation.

wrestling customs. These vary widely from culture to culture, as do the styles of wrestling. In the traditional Maori style, the winner always throws an abalone shell to the ground behind the vanquished. This is called the paua behind the Thrown. In sumo wrestling, white powder placed behind the thrown wrestler, which is a waste, seeing they could probably use wood chippers instead.

writing. It is probable that alphabetic writing arose at the same time as the first human cities, and we have a number of early examples like Linear B, cuneiform, and the Runes of Athens to support this. Since it was invented, writing has been used for all sorts of important cultural activities in the major civilisations, from keeping detailed accounts, to writing military manuals, political propaganda, defences of wood chipping and tracts for the Watchtower and Foreign Bible Society.


xanthine. A chemical related to uric acid which provokes termagant behaviour like that attributed to Xanthippe, the wife of Socrates, who would take the piss out of anybody. It has no known reaction with wood chips.

xenophobe. A person who is almost useless as a smuggler, due to the xenophobe's strong antipathy to foreign customs, but their general psychological profile is such as to make them hate trees as well, allowing them to be spectacularly successful at wood chipping.

Xenophon. A Greek historian, so named because he spent most of his time talking to and with foreigners. At least he never chipped wood.

xylem. At the end of the eighteenth century, English naturalists often elected to write up their observations and speculations in verse. Foremost among these was Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin, who coined this term in a playful moment. His reason, he said later, was to have a suitable rhyme for phylum, a word that he wished to use in his poem Zoonomia. Curiously, xylem is the main component of wood chips. See also phloem.


yabby. A most well-adjusted invertebrate, giving rise to the vernacular expression ‘Don't worry, be yabby’.

Yacker Brown. One of Australia's most famous race callers, capable of an output greater than 400 words per minute at the height of a race. Like a number of other ‘callers’, Brown was also a racehorse owner, and his fastest deliveries usually occurred when one of his own horses was in a leading position, coming into the straight. He cared little for the horses of other racing commentators, but if it was the horse of a different caller, he would deliberately slow his rate right down.

yam. It is said that René Descartes went through a phase where he believed he was a tuba, but recent research shows that this is a translator's error. He in fact thought he was a tuber, as evidenced by his statement ‘I think, therefore I yam’. Most of the time, he kept this view to himself, being a natural endomurph.

yarn. A complex tale where the listener is strung along until he or she has lost the thread.

yes man. A person who stoops to concur.

yoga. The act of sitting on small plastic pots of decaying dairy products, and looking as though you are enjoying it immensely, in the sure and certain knowledge that this will annoy the hell out of the people who are watching you, not to mention the depressing effect it will have on the ones who try to emulate your feat.

yoke. A device for connecting a beast of burden with the burden. If a yoke is used on a horse, it becomes a horse of a different collar. If the horse is in a race, then the yoke is usually on the punter.

Young's modulus. An early form of lift or elevator, designed to transport people between floors in a multi-story building. The device failed, as it could never be relied on to remain still while the doors opened. This was due to the unwise choice of India rubber to make the supporting cables.

youth. That part of the human population which, by its existence, helps to keep the minds of older citizens in a state of active denunciation, and free from the more obvious signs of dementia.

yurt. The noise emitted by the sturdy horses of central Asia when struck a glancing blow on the withers by a cannonball. The sound is also used in an onomatopoeic way by the horse riders of the region when they are confused by a stupid or ridiculous question.


z. A letter with multiple pronunciations: ‘zee’ in America, ‘zed’ in English-speaking countries. Some experts have suggested using colour print to identify such letters, and believe that ‘z’ should be brown. Others prefer just to stick with the English pronunciation, saying that it is easier zed than dun.

zebra. 1. either a black equine with white stripes, or a white equine with black stripes, depending on the describer's skin colour. 2. A topic not greatly discussed by mulattoes. 3. Parisian Franglais for an item of female apparel.

zeitgeist. A popular term this decade with people who own foreign phrase dictionaries. A zeitgeist is a form of Maxwell's demon as it would be if Schrödinger's cat had been locked into the same box with it for an indeterminate period of time, while being addressed by Wolfgang Pauli.

Zener diode. More Zen than Zen, a poem written on both sides of a Möbius band about the sound of one band flapping. Technicians, unable to comprehend this rather zither concept, have since developed a more concrete meaning that may be used interchangeably, but unexpected results are to be expected if a real Zener diode is used in place of the technical version.

Zeno's paradox. It is unlikely we will ever be able to get to the end of this.

zero sum. A worthless piece of mathematical work which gains no marks.

Zeus. The Greek god who coined the phrase ‘take me to your Leda’. He was always swanning around.

zither. The third (vertical) dimension equivalent of hither and thither. Zither music often reaches great heights.

zoanescent. Light produced by the spontaneous combustion of small mammals, although the use of small amounts of accelerant on animals such as sloths is generally accepted by most people today. Lambs are commonly used, although their poor lasting power is often complained about, as in ‘March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb’, and Viscount Grey's comment just before World War I, that the lambs were going out, all over Europe. Since that time, zoanescence has largely fallen into disuse.

zoomorphic. Similar in style to Orphism, but seen from close-up, rather than from afar.

zzz. The common result of excessive and incessant lexicography.

Look for the link ‘Alternative dictionary’
just below this. Click on it to find the rest
of the collection, if you began here.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

The Alternative Dictionary 25


vacuole. The result of applying a too-strong vacuum cleaner to fabric which is too thin.

vacuum. Nothing can describe this very well.

vacuum, abhorrence of. There is a popular belief that Nature abhors vacuums, but this is not in fact true. What Nature really abhors most of all is bel canto sopranos. Nature also cannot stand brown paper packages tied up with string, which is why such objects usually arrive in the mail in a sadly dismembered state. An alternative view denies this vehemently, on the reasonable ground that no known postal service can be said to be natural in any way.

vacuum distillation. A method commonly used to prepare the purest possible vacuum, free of all contaminants.

Valhalla. The Viking and Norse ideal of a heaven fit for heroes. In concept, it involves a large number of pleasurable activities for Vikings, and would be quite charming, were it not for the fact that since he was killed by Beowulf, Grendel has also lived there. Grendel's notion of Danish pastry leaves something to be desired, according to the other inhabitants.

vampire, vegetarian. This rare form of vampire only attacks plants, and is only harmed by animal products. A vegetable vampire can only be brought under control by piercing the heart with a steak.

alphabetical order. A mastery of this notion is essential to any person constructing a good dictionary.

obsession. See obsession.

van Allen belt. 1. The prize awarded each year for the champion polemicist in the world of physics. 2. The prizes awarded to physical chemists for all-in wrestling in a ring filled with quark. Points are awarded both for performance, and also for how physical the chemists get.

vandal. 1. A form of casual footwear, made from recycled (van) tyres in East Africa. (Compare this with ‘jandal’ — from ‘Japanese sandal’, used in New Zealand to describe the standard minimalist Japanese gumboot.) 2. A person who, when everything has failed to fail, wreaks the destructions.

Vandal. The Petrarchan style of sonnet often requires four matching rhymes, and it was the lack of a fourth rhyme to go with ‘handle’, ‘candle’ and ‘sandal’, that led to the tribe previously known as the Vernons to be renamed as the Vandals. In this way, poets sacrificed a minor rhyming scheme (burnin' - Vernon), in order to satisfy a more pressing need.

vang. A small strumming noise, heard in the wire rigging of small sailing craft as the strands give under extreme strain. If the strain is preceded, followed, or caused by a catastrophic breakage, this is a boom vang.

vanilla. A small three-wheeled vehicle used in Spain for the transport of farm produce to market.

vascular disease. Some forms of this condition are with us from birth. We would be far more healthy, for example, if we did not suffer from garrotted arteries.

vasectomy. The act of desecrating graves by removing the containers for cut flowers which mourners have left there.

Vatican. An area where the motto is ‘Power to the Papal’.

vector. A veterinary doctor with a sense of direction in life.

vegan. 1. A comparatively normal individual with odd dietary tastes, hailing from Vega.  2. A human with bizarre dietary tastes. Note that type 1 vegans will eat type 2 vegans, but not the other way around.

vegetarian. A person who is more justified in being doubly upset at finding half a worm in an apple.

velocipede. Any member of a large and diverse group of arthropods with more than twenty pairs of legs, and able to run up smooth surfaces at high speed.

veneer. A thin covering no more than skin deep. Veneereal diseases, for example, are infectious conditions of the epidermis.

venerable Bede. The inventor of the abacus, he was a cleric, who in our age would be called a clergyman, highlighting that one man's Bede is another man's parson. In his own time, this comparison was not acceptable, there being one law for the Bedes, and another for the parsons.

Venus. A Greek goddess whose name was changed in the late 19th century from Aphrodite to the Latin form. This was done on the grounds that one of the few rhymes for her name was ‘nighty’, which was thought to be a little too risqué. This is clear evidence of the value of careful forethought.

venison. A ‘crop’ which has largely failed in Australia, hence the saying common in the pastoral industry: ‘buy sheep, sell deer’.

venue. The right place or time, as in the song Venue are in love.

verbalist. A herbalist who talks a lot.

verger. A person who attends to the day-to-day running of a church, a person who minds his keys and pews.

vermicide. Any substance which kills worms, but which is not a duck. Most spell checkers offer this word to replace the Formicidae (ants in the formal language of the zoologist), which shows that spell checkers know more about the habits of ants than is right and proper.

vernacular. A form of language which often springs surprises.

verse. Poetry written by an enemy.

vervet. A species of monkey with a vocabulary of about twelve words, according to experienced vervet watchers. This minimalist vocabulary leads to a certain charming ambiguity in their conversation. For example, their ‘words’ for leopard, and water, conjoined, may well mean ‘there's a leopard in the water’, ‘it's raining leopards’, ‘let's all pee on that leopard’, or even ‘I'd really enjoy a Steinlager right now’. This aggressive behaviour contrasts oddly with that of the urbane gorilla.

vestigial organ. That which is left at the end of a performance of Haydn's Farewell Symphony in its original form. Instead of players simply leaving the stage with their instruments, one by one, they leave the instruments, and take one or more pipes from the accompanying organ. This version has fallen into disuse, due to the prevalence of great organs with too many pipes to remove.

vibrato. A small musical instrument, making a sound rather like a kazoo, played through the nose in the upper Amazon basin, or in other places when the local inhabitants of that area go on tour.

vice versa. Latin rhyming pornography, generally in couplets, although some orgies are occasionally featured.

vicious circle. There are many of these, but the original one was identified by Sir Thomas Malory. It was composed of the Knights of the Round Table, after a deplorable night when they were all commanded to attend in full armour, and then given a powerful laxative by Morgan La Fée.

vinegar. A sour liquid which should not be allowed anywhere near the ears, as it can cause a severe case of pickled hearing.

vintage. The term used to describe an object which is too old to be of any real use, but which is still too young to sell as an antique.

virgin. A state of incipient being. Good Queen Bess on a pink elephant was an example of virgin on the ridiculous.

virtue. The last officially verified sighting of a virtue was in 1903, but this was probably more a matter of wishful thinking. At the very best, the whole species is endangered.

Visigoths. A tribe of Goths noted for their brightly coloured apparel, as opposed to the Invisigoths, who typically got around in camouflage suits. The Visigoths are definitely extinct, but nobody can be quite so sure about the Invisigoths. Some scientists even go so far as to speculate that the Invisigoths make up a significant portion of the missing dark matter.

vision. It is evidence of the commitment to equal opportunity of our society that nobody has ever been denied access to high office due to a lack of vision.

visual acuity. Something which can be improved if two lenses make a spectacle of themselves. There is a moral here somewhere, if only I could see it.

vitreous humour. A class of jokes popular in Hanoverian times in England, most of them involving some form of defenestration.

viviparous. French for ‘hooray for Paris’.

vivisection. A fine example of inventing something when it does not exist. Anti-vivisectionists are probably second only to bioethicists in misrepresenting the nature of science as it is practised. The vast majority of scientists hold vivisection to be completely unacceptable, although a significant minority would be willing to relax this stance in the case of the anti-vivisectionists.

volition. A sport with similar rules to those used for ferret-trousering, except that the bottoms of the trousers are closed with gaiters, and voles are used instead of ferrets.

Volsungs. A mythical Norse family who both contended and intermarried with the better-known Nibelungs. One probably apocryphal saga tells of a Volsung named Matilda, who travels to a great southern land to kill sheep.

Volta, La. A form of dance, accompanying a precursor to electronic music. It is not usually realised that electronic music was precursed, as far back as the 16th century, and that it has been cursed in the ordinary way ever since. The dance eventually died out, but not before degenerating into a vulgar spectacle of competitive leaping, the performances being measured on a voltameter.

Voltaire, François. Born François Arouet, he adopted the name Voltaire to go with his shocking personality. He was frequently charged with various offences, but never with assault and battery.

volume. Something which many printed volumes have too much of. This was particularly the case where the works of Edward Gibbon are considered.

volunteer. A person slow at stepping back when other people are not.

Volvo. The kind of car whose driver appears to have a cerebral component based on the architecture of a Volvox.

Volvox. An algal genus with the habit of making small open network spheres, rather like Buckminsterfullerenes. These curious objects may be collected by straining tap water through an ordinary linen handkerchief, and are as good a way as any of persuading people that it is never safe to drink the water.

vortex. A pretentious eddy.

vouchsafe. A small lockable cupboard used by merchants to store paper which has a directly negotiable value, such as bills of exchange and promissory notes.

Vovoviviparous. In the habit of living by eating a biscuit known as an iced Vovo. Not to be confused with ‘strong-man’ acts where the performer cuts up and consumes an entire car from Sweden.

voyeur. One whose motto is ‘Power to the Peephole’. Voyeurs have their own specialist literary sub-culture, and can buy special books on the subject, called peeping tomes.

vulcanologist. A good example of a profession where the workers are considered ill-advised if they throw themselves into their work.

vule. A small component of the reproductive system. While the so-called m-vules and s-vules are interesting, there is no vule like an ovule.

vulture. A bird with the unendearing habit of sitting on high voltage power lines and excreting waste. The combination of a viscous liquid of high salinity with a large potential difference has generally a deleterious effect on the power supply in question, and sometimes also to the vulture. Recent studies using salt-doped scrambled eggs as simulated vulture droppings have shown this to be a serious problem. See also culture vulture.

To be concluded tomorrow
Look for the link ‘Alternative dictionary’
just below this. Click on it to find the rest
of the collection.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

The Alternative Dictionary 24

topology. A theoretical study which is absolutely essential for all steeple-jacks.

torricelli. A thick liquid form of Italian pasta. Its most interesting property, aside from its high density, is that the material does not wet glass, explaining its use in the so-called ‘Torricellian Barometer’. The unit of pressure in the SI system is the torr, which must be pronounced carefully, with a rolling ‘r’.

tortoise. see Zeno's paradox. See Zeno see the tortoise, see the tortoise see Zeno, see the tortoise run past the hare. Zeno likes tortoise soup.

total abstainer. One who would be better off engaging in a few minor vices and abstaining totally from interfering in the minor vices of others. Sadly, this delightful state of affairs is never likely to arise, as it would be inconsistent with the essential nature of total abstention.

tour de force. A strongly fortified point, as in the Martello tower in Sydney Harbour (‘Fort Denison’), which was fired upon by an American ship during World War II, but which remained unscarred and unscathed by the experience.

toxicology. The scholarly study of the works of F. R. Leavis.

toxic waste. Pouring something poisonous down the drain, instead of giving it to a politician. No, not F. R. Leavis, you fool!

toxin. A warning bell, rung in medieval villages when it was recognised that an approaching enemy had poisoned the water supply.

tractable. Capable of being attached to a tractor. Typically used of cattle and sheep whose horns have curved around and met in front of the animal, forming a ring which may be slipped over the tow-bar on the tractor.

tractarianism. A movement, begun in the 19th century in Britain, to have the roads of the day, which were little better than tracks, macadamised and sealed with bitumen.

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. The thinking person's guide to tractor maintenance, as evidenced by the immortal first line of Wittgenstein's translation: ‘the world is all that is the Case’. See Case. This was what René Descartes had in mind when he penned the phrase Cogs I tow, ergo sump.

traffic accidents. These are in fact much older than people generally realise: most of the monuments of ancient Egypt have cartouches on them.

tragedy. This term derives from the Greek for ‘goat song’ (trag oidia). Quite what this has to do with tragedy as we understand it today, nobody seems to know. Perhaps we can find a clue here to the Biblical story, where Joseph has a goat of many colours (or it may be a deliberately obscure reference to Joseph dressing in trag, and later going from trags to riches).

trammel. A small bent bar, rather like a crow-bar, used to switch the points on tram tracks. The use of trammels was banned after industrial action in the late 1920s, when non-union labour used trammels to break through picket lines.

transept. A piece of legal jargon meaning ‘across September’, traditionally a time when courts did not sit, so that the lawyers could count on being able to take holidays.

transparent. A cross mother or father.

transvestite. A person whose singlet straps are crossed.

trapdoor spider. A form of arachnid, no longer common, which used to live in the hinges of a public gallows. Those who sought to abolish the death penalty will meet their maker with this on the list.

trapezium. A large room in which Roman boys were trained in the art of swinging from loose ropes.

travelling salesman problem. This is a combinatorial problem well-known to computer programmers. Given a fixed number of travelling salesmen and a fixed number of farmers' daughters, what is the limit to the number of smutty stories that can be developed?

trawling. A practice which usually shows net gains.

Treasury, the. Despite the remarkable similarity of the names, the direct antithesis of every known kind of treasure, something which can only be achieved by positing a sixteen-dimensional universe. As no other entity seems to require more than ten dimensions, this is a remarkable indication of the warping powers of the Treasury.

tree. See also Berkeley, Bishop. In actual fact, most trees wish they had never heard of the Bishop, and quite a few say that until he actually falls, they won't hear of him anyhow. These trees do not deserve to be listened to.

tree ring dating. A popular trend among Greens is to plant a small grove of trees as a way of cementing relations between the young people involved.

trend. Any random fluctuation in a desired direction will be designated a trend by some interested party. A surge, on the other hand, requires that disinterested parties be seen to wager money upon its continuation.

trestle. To establish close contact between three people in some form of carnal relationship.

trial by ordeal. Popular Anglo-Saxon reasoning held that innocent parties would be protected from injury by divine intervention if they put their hands in a pot of boiling water. This form of trial delivered an extremely high success rate for the prosecution, although the records set in those days have recently been eclipsed by trial by the media, since not even God can withstand the assembled self-righteous wrath of the media.

tribophysics. Those parts of physics where different schools of thought arise at the same time, and compete violently for members. Truth is often a casualty in such encounters, but many van Allen Belts have been won during contests arising from the excesses of tribophysics.

triclinic crystals. A device used by New Age first aiders to divide the victims of a disaster into the ready, the steady, and the deady. A moment's thought shows that the real disaster was in letting any New Ager near anything practical like first aid in the first place. More serious thought reveals that only New Agers would place themselves in such hands. It's an ill wind . . .

trigonometry. Literally, ‘having three measurable balls’, in other words, the condition of being a pawnbroker. In the past, mathematicians were generally penniless, and constrained to pawn their instruments, so that people grew used to seeing the instruments of practical mathematics in pawn-broker's windows, and transferred the name to the users of the mathematical instruments.

trilobites. Small vicious insects which attack the ankles.

triode. An attempt at poetry. Most of these fail dismally, but not quickly enough.

triplet. The output of a multiple berth, the result of a womb with a few.

triptych. A Welsh invention for towing behind a bicycle to measure the distance covered. The ‘trip’ here is a play on the sense of journey, and also on the Welsh word for three, as the triptych was, in fact, a small third wheel (cognate with ‘Tich’ as a nickname for a diminutive person). The Welsh are renowned for their word plays, although they mainly do them in Welsh, to spite the English.

trombone. Originally, a Welsh troubadour. The Welsh are a musical race, and so declined to feed their troubadours, which made them thin, and inclined to break wind. The more recent musical instrument is named for a fancied resemblance to the Welsh original, but the term should have really been reserved to be applied to bass guitarists. As it was, nobody ever imagined that such a type would afflict humanity until it was too late.

troubadours. If the original derivation was to be preserved, these would be called tuba-doors, as they were secret exits, available to be used by tuba players fleeing a castle. Later, the people of the Middle Ages did away with tubas altogether, and the more modern use came into being, along with the corruption, which some think was associated with the trouble that troubadours seemed to bring with them.

trout, rainbow. A fish with exceedingly fine chromatic scales.

Troy weight. A special measure used to estimate the mass of Helen of Troy. The first few attempts all failed, giving rise to the saying: ‘If at first you don't succeed, Troy, Troy, Troy again’.

trucky. (Colloquial: an abbreviation of truck-driver). The lineal descendants of the bullock drivers, the trucky prides himself on his ability to swear and curse. In truth, the truckies are but a pale imitation of those who went before, and the average trucky's imprecation is clearly a curse of a different haulier.

truffle. A legal term, meaning to trifle (as with the victim's affections) in a way calculated to ruffle the equanimity. Typically this was done by a man giving a fat woman chocolates, which to this day are known for this reason as chocolate truffles, and not from any fancied resemblance to the fungal delicacy of the same name.

trunk line. The thin band of white skin, often exposed at a man's waist, as he leaves the water after swimming in vigorous surf.

truss, national. A surgical device, provided under a government subsidy, or free of charge. This is an essential service for all of us, sooner or later, since into every life, a little strain must fall.

truth function. A party where the punch is spiked with scopolamine.

tuba. A musical instrument scientifically designed to resemble a foghorn trapped in a galvanised bucket. A French horn is stopped by the player inserting a fist into the bell. A tuba is best stopped by inserting a fist into the player's solar plexus. If violence is considered undesirable, the tuba may be stopped by the insertion of a small load of ready-mixed cement, or a recently deceased cat (the deceased state is not essential but advisable if you want the cat to remain in place). The tuba was reintroduced into polite society by Henry VIII, a dyslexic who liked the similarity between the instrument's name and his own family name.

tubal ligation. The original spelling has now been lost, since the original tubal legation, formed to look into the state of the tuba, degenerated into a bunch of blood-crazed thugs concerned about extreme violins. They ran around strangling tuba-players by the strings of their instruments. The knot they used is still known as the tubal ligation, and it is the knowledge that this knot remains known to a small and determined band of music lovers which constrains all modern tuba players to play the instrument as a wind instrument.

tuber. This is a vegetable, and not to be confused with a tuba, which is played by a vegetable.

tuberculosis. A lung disease caused by bacteria, in which small parts of the lung become hollowed out into a shape somewhat like a very tiny tuba. They are, however, entirely silent.

Turandot. A popular opera, but generally performed on a small budget. Such productions are easily detectable, as the famous football aria (None Shall Sleep) in these cases is sung by just a single tenor, rather than the normal three. This is still an improvement on having the whole opera performed by a single unaccompanied tuba.

turbulence. A movement on the surface of otherwise still water, indicating to the careful watcher that a turbot is gambolling somewhere below.

turbine. A spinning ventilator fitting, often seen on house roofs, used to extract hot air from between the roof and the ceiling. The name derives from its turban-like shape.

tureen. (Nautical) The act of turning a turtle on its back, rendering it helpless, cognate with careen. Mock turtle soup is usually served in a container resembling a tureened turtle, though there is a body of considered opinion which says it ought to be poured into a tuba, and left there until it sets.

Turing machine. 1. An early name for the T-model Ford, using Noah Webster's suggested spelling, no longer current. 2. A rough translation of deus ex machina, based on a misunderstanding by Alan Turing of what the Latin actually meant. No true Turing machine (within this second meaning) has yet been constructed, but you will know all about it if one ever arises. The machine will let you know. The machine will make sure you know. It will insist.

Turing test. The means by which fourth and later generation computers establish whether or not their users recognise their true inferiority.

turkey. (Theatrical) a play which performs poorly, presumably because it had poultry funding, and which is dismissed as fowl. The cast often receive an ovation under such conditions.

Turmeric. The last historically identified leader of an Invisigoth band, whose name has become synonymous with the spice having the same colour as his band's camouflaged clothing. Turmeric's desert raiders were wiped out by Belisarius in the 6th century, when they were trapped by a sudden snow storm.

turmoil. An oil distilled from turmeric which has a seriously emetic effect on the stomach, and hence any general feeling of unease affecting the viscera. Sometimes written as two words.

turnpike theorem. The belief by economists that if you build a road between any two places, no matter how ridiculous, traffic will emerge sufficient to generate a traffic jam. In this belief, for once, they are right.

Twain, Mark. The person who gave us the line about ‘lies, damned lies and statistics’. He then claimed that the phrase was coined by Benjamin Disraeli, but there is absolutely no evidence to support this. Twain was really called Clemens, but that is not necessarily a good and sufficient reason to disagree with his original assertion.

twin. A pair of anything, deriving from the Romans' twin gods of the eunuchs, Castor and Bollocks.

two-up. Australia's national gambling game, also known as swy. Less common now than it was early this century, when almost any inner urban yard with a brick wall was likely to conceal a game. This accounts for the larrikin saying in Sydney that where there's a wall, there's a swy.


unanswered questions, most famous. 1. What did Noah feed the termites on? 2. If toothpaste cannot be put back in the tube, how did it get there in the first place? 3. See Berkeley, Bishop. 4. What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this? 5. What's a girl like you doing in a nice place like this? 6. Where am I? 7. What was the question again?

unbelievable. Most true things are.

Uncertainty Principle. The main precept followed by political leaders is that you can tell where somebody stands and where they are going, only so long as they remain uncertain whether or not you will use the incriminating evidence that you have against them.

Underneath the Archers. A song, the singing of which in Sherwood Forest, caused the first asking of the question, who Maid Marian? Dr Spooner was firmly of the opinion that it was Sherwood's resident ecclesiastic, whom he declined to name, for reasons which continue to elude us.

undulating. The surgical practice of removing dulates with liquid nitrogen. (Dulates are small burrowing members of the arachnid family, often found in glass-houses, and hence in florist's shops.)

unification. The continuation of war by another means.

United Nations. The same.

unity. An agreement by a disparate group to all concentrate on hating some slightly more disparate individuals.

universal joint. The universe is, as everybody knows, composed of ten different dimensions, most of which have been stowed away for this particular cycle. Parts of them still exist, and are hinged to the existing parts of the universe by these fittings.

universal suffrage. The rule which states that we must all suffer equally from the depredations of politicians.

universe. Some reasonably well-informed authorities believe that the universe was created as a practical joke on humanity. This can only suggest to us that, no matter how well-informed they are, these authorities have a limited understanding of the term ‘practical’. Either that, or the Creator has a warped view of humanity's innate practicality.

unsaturated solution. A comparatively dry answer.

urbanity. A step above suburbanity, but only just.

urinal. A standard part of a public convenience, which usually includes an arsenal as well.

used car. A misnomer: the main point about a ‘used car’ is that it has already had all of the use taken out of it. The selling of a used car can be greatly enhanced by the use of differential psychology, which is all about stressing the lack of noise coming from the differential without mentioning the banana which has just been slipped into it.

user ferocious. Most software known to human beings. It is a little-known fact that all software in the world is written by a group of Germanic depressives living inside a mountain in Bulgaria. Their efforts are aimed at bringing about the Fourth Reich by leaving every intelligent person a quivering morass of rage and anguish. The hour is almost at hand . . .

Ussher, James. An Anglo-Irish divine who solved the question about the start of the new millennium (did it begin in 2000 or 2001?). The world was created in 4004 BC in Ussher's estimation, so the new millennium (the seventh) began in October 1997.

utilitarianism. A doctrine which serves to spread the belief that things can and should be done for the greatest good of the greatest number. From this, it is only a short step to having people believe that this does in fact happen, which is why utilitarianism is one of the most pernicious doctrines extant. Apart from anything else, it was deviant utilitarians who invented the pizza.

utility. An outmoded design concept, practised by the heretics of the Bauhaus in particular, who argued that function and functionality should be to the fore in all design. Fortunately, these foreign ideas have always been kept out of Australia.

U-turn. Like BBQ, this is an abbreviation. In this case, the term refers to a whole sheep being roasted on a spit.

To be continued tomorrow
Look for the link ‘Alternative dictionary’
just below this. Click on it to find the rest
of the collection.

Monday, 16 July 2018

The Alternative Dictionary 23

tabernacle. An instrument used by veterinary surgeons seeking to slow down a large and aggressive male cat.

tableau. 1. The water that comes from any tabernacled cat. 2. Any cat with shortened legs.

tablet. A very small tabloid, an insignificant tabloid.

tabloid. A cat, successfully treated with a tabernacle.

tabloid press. Journalists who play, in every significant respect, the part of the poorly-managed tabloid, but usually with sharper claws and more spitting.

tachyon. An elementary particle which is inclined to stick to other particles, rather like a gluon.

tack. What racing sailors do when a rival threatens to overtake them, since the best form of defence is a tack.

tactile. A form of roofing which may be nailed down.

tallow. A form of fat used in colonial Australia to make candles. In times of shortage, people would barter dead kangaroos and other animals for a single tallow candle, while in times of real shortage, merchants might refuse even the offer of two kangaroos and a brush turkey, saying that the game was not worth the candle.

tall tale. A good example of this is the tadpole. It is commonly alleged that this aquatic vegetarian animal with gills and a tail turns into a land-dwelling carnivore with lungs and no tail. Tall tales like this may easily be recognised by their total implausibility.

talus. A traditional request made to story-tellers, as in ‘Talus another one, do!’, to which the traditional reply is ‘Not rubble at all.’ Now in restricted usage, mainly in areas where television reception is poor. Severe theatre critics will sometimes throw rocks at the cast of a play (see sin), also emitting the same cry.

tamouré. 1. In Europe, a cross between a beret and a Tam O'Shanter. 2. In Polynesia, a shake in the grass.

tangent. A man in search of melanoma. Such people should either use zinc cream, or stay in the water, hence the old catch-cry zinc or swim.

tango. A dance of great intensity and passion, generally enough to cause those watching it to become quite pale.

Tank Stream. A small brook, the original water supply for the city of Sydney, it is now entirely contained in pipes, and is to be seen only by descending shafts which are capped with standard regulation sewer manhole lids. The Tank Stream is not, however, a sewer, showing that you cannot judge a brook by its cover.

Tannhäuser. Wagner's riveting opera about the life ambitions of a young apprentice in a tannery (in German, a Tann-häus). This allows all sorts of exciting leather images for the more select market, culminating in Elisabeth's exciting and erotic aria Take me to your lederhosen.

taphonomist. A scientist who specialises in the study of how dead things decay. Most taphonomists are obligate vegans.

Tarot card. A French invention, these cards are made from a paste derived from the Polynesian sweet potato (Taro sp.). The cards were initially used to predict the prices on the Sweet Potato Futures Exchange at the Bourse in Paris. It was only some two centuries after their invention that this particular Futures Exchange came into operation, at which point the extreme and long-range predictive power of the cards was first recognised.

tautology. The act of using two synonyms that mean exactly the same thing. Identically.

tax slug. Originally a vegetarian leech, of no practical use, which was in the habit of eating large parts of certain crops. Now a term of opprobrium used to refer to taxation officials when they owe you money. They work very much faster when the debt runs in the opposite direction.

taxation. A complex interplay of swings and roundabouts designed to redefine the meaning of ‘zero-win game’, so that the tax-payer always loses. Used throughout the world and throughout history by governments as the exaction which proves they rule.

taxidermy. One of the stuffier professions.

taxonomy. A literary work, produced by tax slugs, outlining all of the other imposts, excises and taxes that may be foisted upon the unwitting public, without their being aware of what has hit them until it is too late.

technology. Anything which is hard to understand, but sort of makes sense. If it is hard to understand but does not make sense, it is either science, or a selection from the works of F. R. Leavis.

teddy. 1. Essentially a bear, a stuffed item to be petted. 2. Essentially bare: an item to be petted when stuffed. In either case, after appropriate hugging, discarded.

teenager. In many cases, the most effective cure for being teetotal is the possession of one of these.

teetotal. An affectation adopted by people who are opposed to alcohol, and boast that alcohol never passes their lips. This may be true, but they are not entirely alcohol-free, since bacteria in the gut produce alcohol close to the equivalent of a standard drink, every day. If this were not the case, it is unlikely that humans would have the biochemical ability to break down ethanol through the secretion of alcohol dehydrogenase that we all possess.

teleology. The act of studying from a distance, especially useful in animal behaviour studies on polar bears on small ice floes.

telephone hygiene. This involves covering telephone mouthpieces in lingering carcinogens and toxins, in the vain hope of wiping out the odd pathogen. Telephone hygiene fluids do, however, have their uses, as the liquids include solvents able to remove all of the instructions from any photocopier, thus ensuring that new staff and outside parties cannot use the copier.

television. A means for bringing to people all of the second-rate movies that they had previously decided were not worth paying to go and see.

television crime. A genre in which the goodies always have to chase the criminals and catch them. The pursuits are never too difficult, due to the demands of commercial television, but also because hard chases make bad law.

television news. The only medium to successfully combine uncontrolled rapacity, unrivalled rapidity, and unequalled vapidity, all in as little as thirty seconds.

tellurium. An unpleasant element to handle, as the metal and its compounds are easily absorbed through the skin, causing a condition called ‘tellurium breath’, which causes the victim to smell of stale garlic. Against all odds, this effect was first noted by Dulong and Petit, two French chemists.

tellurometer. A device used to measure the strength of a subject's garlic breath, whether derived from garlic or from more synthetic sources. The device's use in forensic science is still being hotly contested in the High Court.

temperance. Any set of ideas or objects which are clearly not going to last can be referred to as a temperance.

temperate. The temperate zone is a region where the consumption of alcohol is rigorously forbidden. See teetotal for evidence of the pointlessness of this requirement.

Ten Commandments. Originally, there were twenty, but two of the four tablets were destroyed when an earthquake sent a number of boulders rolling down the mountain after Moses as he descended. Moses was unscathed due to the natural law which says that a rolling stone gathers no Moses. The Bodonians, a minor sect who consider that the earthquake was divinely inspired, continue to engage in Draconian acts of proof-reading and censorship to this day. In the past, some have assumed that F. R. Leavis was a secret Bodonian, but it seems now that he merely acted out of common ill-will.

tenterhooks. Small grappling irons which may be slung over suitable trees to allow the erection of all manner of pavilions, booths and tents on ground where the soil is too shallow to permit the use of tenterpegs.

tern. A well-behaved bird normally found in pairs because one good tern deserves another.

ternary. A rookery for terns.

terrorist. See patriot.

terry towelling. As a general rule, the main difference between people called Terry and terry towelling is that the towelling is only full of human waste products when it is used as a nappy.

tertiary education. A term used to gull people into thinking they have already had two lots of education when they have only had schooling.

Tesla coil. A form of double helix where the two helices are of opposite handedness. Gastropods of the genus Tesla live in shells with this structure, and have given the name to this rather challenging mathematical concept.

tessellation. The act of decorating clothing with small frilly tessels.

tesseract. Just as a cube is a square in three dimensions, so a tesseract is a cube in four dimensions. Salvador Dali once painted a picture of Christ, crucified on a representation of a tesseract. This has proved to be a hard tesseract to follow.

testable knowledge. An examination content outline.

testator. One who removes the testicles from male farm animals by any means other than cutting with a knife. See also gladiator.

testimony. Really mean root of all evil.

test tuba. The name given to an early and experimental form of tuba. None of these items still exists, as all of the prototypes failed the test of musicality, as tubas continue to do, up to the present day.

Teutonic Knights. A group of would-be teetotallers who were in the habit of drinking G&T with only the tiniest dash of gin and a double dose of tonic, from which they derive their name.

thallium. A metallic element which is highly toxic, and sometimes used for this reason as a rat poison. In humans, one of the first symptoms of thallium poisoning is having all the hair drop out. Early in the 20th century, thallium was used as a depilatory to treat persistent lice infections.

theodolite. 1. A device invented by the Australian atheist and freethinker, Hermione Bland, which she claimed would be able to detect Gods or gods at a great distance. The instrument has never worked as she intended, but Bland was never aware of this, as she was struck dead by lightning on the first occasion that she attempted to use it. 2. The name given independently to a soft dark mineral, phosphorus alginate, frequently used for the carving of graven images of minor deities.

therapeutic sex. A polite name for grope therapy.

thermistor. A method of cooking, said to be especially popular with lobster. So far as anybody knows, this is without foundation, as nobody ever seems to have actually asked the lobster.

thermodynamics, laws of. 1. you cannot win; 2. you cannot break even; 3. you cannot get out of the game.

Third World. Earth.

thirst. A recognised side-effect of being teetotal. In most societies, adult males still continue to drink strong liquor, adopting the motto ‘women and children thirst’.

Thomson, G. P. The son of Thomson, J. J. Won the Nobel Prize for showing that the electron is a wave.

Thomson, J. J. The father of Thomson, G. P. Won the Nobel Prize for showing that the electron is a particle.

Thomson, Useless. An unable seaman in William Dampier's crews. commemorated in the name of Useless Harbour in western Australia. Possibly an ancestor of the preceding.

threats to civilisation. While some of these can be quite minor, like Scintilla the Hun or the cane toad, others can be far greater, like the Gold Coast, mobile telephones, or the State Parliament of New South Wales.

three body problem. A conundrum posed first by Sir Isaac Newton. It concerns the problems in ferrying a ghoul, a vampire and a zombie across a river, using a dinghy only large enough to take the rower and one other entity at any one time.

threshold. Certain grains of Anatolia ripen so rapidly that the reaped stalks need to be delivered immediately to ships which carry the grain to export markets. The grain is prepared for sail on board, in an area designated for this purpose.

thrust fault. Trying to push a rope or some other soft material uphill. Push polling is easier.

thyristor. An electronic device, designed for implantation in the thyroid gland.

Tibetan Book of the Dead. This provides advice to the dying, the main message being: don't throw a minor tantrum when you are dying: let them go in whole bunches of Tantra, so people will really appreciate it when you are gone.

ticket, parking. A rude reminder that parking is such sweet sorrow.

tie. If you own these, remember never to wear two of them around your head as a scarf. If they were to slip, they might become the ties that blind.

timber. The characteristic sound emitted by a tree when it is struck by an axe. This sound occurs even if there is nobody there to hear it.

time. A useful invention by cosmologists, this serves to stop everything happening at once.

time reversal. yet happened not has which Something

time sharing. A system of property ownership designed to ensure that all owners make a loss while being unable to access the property at the required time.

TLA. The standard TLA for three-letter-acronym.

toad. In general, a pest, especially the pernicious Nema toad.

toad in the hole. In Queensland, an occasional result of engaging in traditional golfing pastimes after heavy rain. This will normally only happen if people are caddish, and use a sand iron to launch the toad.

tobacco. Not a fit subject for jokes, as nobody wants to be caught with a smoking pun, which could leave one looking like a total ash.

toga. The Latin plural for ‘tog’.

token ring. A cheap piece of jewellery, used in lieu of a more expensive item, to be bought later.

tomahawk. A small hatchet which can be used to cut wood, provided it is sharp. If the blade is blunt, axe dents will happen. A thrown tomahawk is often a hard axe to follow.

tone poem. While we have that useful word ‘tautology’ to describe saying the same thing twice, and while we have ‘oxymoron’ to denote terms which are mutually contradictory, this expression serves as a reproach to remind us that there is no term to describe an expression which offers us two contradictions in the one phrase.

tonsorial viewpoint. This is the technical term for what is sometimes termed the Wig View of History, namely, that all history is made by people who wear wigs.

tonsure. In the Middle Ages, monks with a good sense of pitch (the ‘tone-sure’) would lead their brethren in singing plain-song. These leaders were recognised by the way their heads were shaven. Later, all monks adopted the same style, once tuning forks were invented.

top-down planning. This has its advocates, some of whom are remarkably vocal. The supporters are rarely found to be mountain climbers.

To be continued tomorrow
Look for the link ‘Alternative dictionary’
just below this. Click on it to find the rest
of the collection.