Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A.J. Saves the day!

One of my previous posts I mentioned that I had never seen the word bustrophredalian used anywhere besides my map cataloging class. I have now not only seen it used, I discovered why I could never find it anywhere else. The word is boustrophedon, and Jacobs uses it in his entry about the Etruscan alphabet: "Etruscans sometimes wrote boustrophedon style, in which the direction of writing alternates with each line - right-to-left, then left-to-right." A truly serendipitous event. Now that I have the correct spelling I checked the OED again, and it is there.

I am also glad to see that although I said Jacobs was more cynical than Shea, one thing he does not appear to be cynical about is his marriage. Ironically, this was one thing I pointed out that Shea was particularly cynical about. Jacobs loves and respects his wife which he makes clear in his ranting about Valentine's day (which he is cynical about, but I don't blame him for that).

I met my husband when I was 19 and he was 20, so I didn't know him when he was in Junior High and apparently annoying people with trivial facts. I have always considered this a good thing, as I probably wouldn't have wanted to ever know him well enough when he outgrew it to go out with him. Reading this book I sometimes feel that Jacobs is giving me a window into my husband's past.

Jacobs has a rather lenghty entry about encyclopedias, as does the Britannica itself. There is quite a history behind encyclopedias, and it is clear that they are not always without bias. I sometimes write encyclopedia articles and am glad to know that I can count myself among the lifes of Harry Houdini, Alfred Einstein, and Sigmund Freud. Of course these contributors actually wrote about things they were experts in. I sometimes must take a learn-about-the-subject-by-writing-about-it approach. My entries have been on topics as diverse as Banned Books Week, Prehistoric Culture, The Brady Bunch, and Columbus Day.

1 comment:

  1. Guilty as charged -- at the age of 10-12, I was insufferable, wearing my parents out with world records, the names of coin designers, and even the annual production of U.S. coins. It is a wonder that they let me stay in the house, but no wonder that my days of dating girls did not come until several years later!

    Eventually I learned that Piaget identified this kind of focus on factoids as a necessary stage in cognitive development. Of course, he also pointed out the need to move on. Those who do not move on are likely to suffer (and inflict) male answer syndrome: