Log Entries

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English Family and Place Names

The British like to shrink words and let the pronunciation drift around a bit. The metamorphoses are unpredictable: you just have to know. Can you say Abergavenny?

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My Favorite Restaurant

My cantine has books in the window whose authors are also customers. The patronne is likely to pull up to your table and chat, and likes to introduce regulars to each other.

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Report from Ukraine

Ukraine should be vigorously taking defensive measures while it asks for help. The Russian bear is at the door, and it’s hungry.

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Global Cooling And Other Wobbly Prophecies

Since things change so violently, one must take many predictions with a grain of salt. Stay loose!

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“Putin Has Knocked the Pieces off the Board”

The Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, explains what we can do about it.

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Killing Fewer Patients

Doctors insert tubes–catheters–into patients’ veins about 5 million times a year, sometimes with lethal results. A simple checklist has caused the infection rate to plunge.

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Maybe Things Aren’t All That Bad

Objective conditions have improved in recent decades. Life expectancy is up, poverty and crime are down, the rule of law is spreading, and life is getting better in other ways.

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Jargon Central

The (London) Times Literary Supplement likes to hold up gobbledygook for contempt. Here are some examples.

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The Most Horrible Consistory on Record

As we contemplate the approaching consistory to elect a successor to Benedict XVI, it is consoling to read about the one that elected Celestine IV in the thirteenth century as Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick, besieged Rome. Abusive guards herded ten Cardinals into a dilapidated room, without proper food or doctors.

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Dressing the Part

Just before the 1974 crash, and again in the 2000s, young folk who were getting richer by the minute saw no reason to dress up or to look serious. Now, the dress-down phenomenon is starting to fade again. Handling other people’s savings is a serious matter, and those who do it should try to look their part.

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Vampires

By Francie Train (Partially excerpted from her book “In Those Days”)
When I was about 10, I was a precocious and voracious reader and, urged on by my devilish older brother, George, I devoured, if that is the appropriate word, the entire book. Now, more than 70 years later, many scary details… are still vivid in my memory… I will have to read the book again, first collecting some talismans in case “John Train” tries any funny business.

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Letter to a Grandson

Dear Henry, At your christening the other day, I told a story that I asked your godparents to repeat to you at the right time. A Miss Gresham of Richmond Virginia, who was a friend of the family, once described for me the christening of her father, in about 1870. During the ceremony, General Robert […]

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