Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

A blog about words, wordplay, and etymology, with slightly more than occasional political rants.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Passive Aggressive Blogging

1.To breathe through the mouth and nose with snoring sounds caused by vibration of the soft palate.
2. The reason I'm up at this hour.

This word is probably etymologically related to snort, which makes perfect sense, even though I never noticed before. This word seems to come from German; in Dutch, the word is snorken, which is kind of a cute word that for some reason reminds me of a baby pig. This word is probably an imitation of the sound one makes when one is keeping one's wife awake doing it. This leaves me to believe that the Dutch make adorable baby pig noises when snoring.
Also, my husband may find himself black and blue today from all the elbowing last night.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

I strongly suspect the headline of this blog will have anything to do with the content, but really, I never seem to know where my posts will end up.
So we raised over a thousand dollars for The Canton Domestic Violence Project with The Vagina Monologues. Thanks so much to those of you who came out! The show was phenomenal, as were the men and women involved. It was beautiful and life-affirming to see how many people here care about women, about ending violence. I was heartening to see how many men showed up too. I mean, I barely felt comfortable talking about vaginas before I did this show, and I have one. Most men I know (and most women I know, to be fair) balk when the conversation turns south of the woman's navel. And why that is, this show has left me uncertain, but I've talked more than enough about the hoo hah of late and am ready to retire the subject.
Visiting the Domestic Violence Project Web site just now stirred up something, this deep sense of gratitude for how fortunate I've been. Once, Jeremy got really, really mad and kicked a wall. I wasn't there, I just heard. He didn't do any damage to said wall, he just kicked it a little. This is the angriest I have ever known my husband to be. I can't even remember him raising his voice to me. And this may be difficult for you to believe, dear Internet, but I'm not entirely easy to live with. I'd certainly raise my voice to me. And do, sometimes.
Also, Alton Brown tells me that that cupcakes are so called because it was a pain to bake an entire cake over the fire back in olden times, so people would pour cake batter into cups, like coffee cups, and bake them. Because you deserve at least a little etymology before I run off, and Jeremy's watching Good Eats right now, and so I actually found that fact out completely passively. 
Also, the bed is covered in laundry, and I'm putting off going to bed because I don't want to put the laundry away. Which I dumped onto the bed because I knew I couldn't go to bed until I put it away. Unless I dump it back into the hamper from whence it came, which I've been doing all week.
And there you have it, folks, a post unrelated to whiskey, tangos, foxtrot, clever references to abbreviations for expletive phrases.
I am fairly certain I am not stoned, but this post would seem to indicate otherwise.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

V-Day Canton, OH

Sorry I've been neglecting you, boys and girls. For one thing, I've had the plague. It's been unpleasant. For another thing, I've been busy preparing for
The Vagina Monologues
Saturday, 2/25
7 pm
at the
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Canton
Corner of Easton and Middlebranch
Canton, OH
$10 - Proceeds benefit the Canton Domestic Violence Project

It's a great, fun, funny show with some fantastic performers. This is a frank show with strong language that might pull you out of your comfort zone, but it's an important show, one that helps make a difference in the lives of women and the men who love them. On top of which, it's hilarious. I've heard every monologue about a dozen times now, and I still laugh every time. I mean, except at the horrible rape ones. That would be kind of inappropriate.
But seriously, come to the show, learn, have fun, and see me and my friends being awesome. Hit me up for details in the comments.
Can't wait to see you there~

Until the Violence Stops

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Creepy crawlies

One day, I get home from work, and Loki's acting than usual. He's all agitated and on edge, and this was before we got Puck, so there wasn't a good reason for him to be agitated and on edge.
Ignoring for a moment the weird behavior of my weird cat, I went into the den. There were a few bees in there. I closed the den door, went out to get some bee spray, and when I came home the beepocolypse had occurred. Instead of the few bees that had been there when I left, there were now so many bees in the den that I could hear the buzzing from outside the door. Seems there was a massive nest in the wall, and they'd decided to chew through the drywall and move in with us. The handyman helpfully let us know that he'd seen the bees flying in between the siding and wondered where they were going. Being he was the handyman, I would think it was his job to do more than wonder, but what do I know? I'm just a lady with one million bees in her house.
Well, a few hysterical phone calls, a few cans of spray, a few visits from an exterminator, and a new vacuum cleaner later, the bees were gone and all of us were remarkably unstung. I, however, get the creepy crawlies every time I look at the wall. There are still little dribbles of nectar around the hole that they all came out of. *Shudders*
Okay, so what's cool about the word bee? Glad you asked. Bee, or more accurately, bee related words are ancient linguistic artifacts that help tell us where our linguistic ancestors come from. If you've been reading the blog a while, you know that English is part of a massive family of languages spoken throughout the Americas, Eurasia, and India called the Indo-European family of languages. English, Latin, Greek, Hindi, Sanskrit, Urdu, Russian... all of them descendants of the same distant ancestor. That distant linguistic ancestor is called Proto-Indo-European, of which we have no samples, no direct evidence - we only know that the language existed because we know its children exist. Linguists guess that the first speakers of what we now call Proto-Indo-European were probably speaking it up to four thousand years before Christ. Trippy, right?
To guess where the family of languages originated, we have to look at the words that most of the languages have in common. Smarty linguistic types have determined that the words that most of the languages have in common include words that indicate a temperate climate - words for things like snow, summer, beech trees, willow trees, and bees. The English word for bee is not quite descended from the PIE word for bee. A lot of languages have words like be, bi, or bitis, but those all belong to one or two branches of the larger language tree, and those branches don't go back to the trunk of the tree. Our word for mead, however, does come from the PIE word medhu, which survives as a root word for honey or mead in languages as diverse as Sanskrit, German, Russian, and Latvian. 
Because we have all these common words that refer to things related to temperate climates and few common words for things like palm trees and lions and lemurs, most academics think that the first people to speak our language's great-great-great-great-great-etc. grandmother hung out somewhere in Eastern or Central Europe. 
Most of the info for this came from my brain, but I got a lot of really cool stuff from this site too.
This was supposed to be a post about how bees communicate.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love is a battlefield

So I've noticed something about Valentine's Day jewelry store commercials. They all seem to be saying, "Buy your woman a very expensive bauble; you will get laid." Fellas, tell you what. Save yourself the trouble of buying one of those weird necklaces that look like snakes and just get yourself a nice hooker; that way you don't have to cuddle afterward. 
I mean seriously? Are we putting out only for expensive gifts now? How does this make us different from prostitutes? I'm just saying.
Okay, maybe I'm just jealous that Jeremy didn't get me one of those weird necklaces that look like snakes. Jeremy and I have a time-honored tradition of ignoring this blessed day. I think you get to a point in your life when you can buy your own candy, you can't have flowers because the cats will eat them, and you realize there is nothing romantic about being crammed into an overflowing Olive Garden with a bunch of other people who are trying desperately to imbue a cold slushy day in February with some special meaning. We used to have a time-honored tradition in which I pretended to be mad that he didn't plan a romantic Valentine surprise, which was awesome because it worked surprisingly often. My Valentine gift to Jeremy last year was that I wouldn't do that. I thought about pointing out that since I was giving him a gift he was obligated to give me a gift back, but I was afraid he'd just give me one of those weird necklaces that look like snakes
According to Vaughn Bryant, anthropologist at Texas A&M (as interviewed on Discovery News), the first written accounts of "kissing" come from India from about 2000 to 1000 BCE. Those accounts actually had participants rubbing their noses on each other's cheeks, which sounds more like a really unsanitary way to wipe off snot to me. I mean, I realize they didn't have Kleenex, but blowing your nose on someone's face? Not cool, man. Not cool.
It seems to be that Alexander the Great and his men picked up kissing after conquering India a couple hundred years before the birth of Christ, because after Alexander's death, Greek writings begin talking about kissing (not sure whether this was the spit swapping kind or the snot wiping kind).
The Romans made an art of kissing, according to They even had words for three types of kissing - osculum for a kiss on the cheek, basium for a kiss on the mouth, and sSavolium for a "deep" kiss. I would guess the similarity to the word saliva is a coincidence. The Romans seem to have come up with the tradition of the bride and groom kissing at the end of their wedding. However, the Romans also used kisses to seal business agreements, which has fallen by the wayside too. I have an image of two big titans of industry in fancy suits lip-locking over company mergers. You should be in my head. It's a pretty awesome picture. This is the result of my Google Images search for "businessmen kissing."
In the early Christian church, the faithful would greet each other with an osculum pacis, or holy kiss. The holy kiss was believed to transfer the spirits of the two people kissing, which I think is just lovely. I don't know whether the "sign of peace" that takes place after the Lord's Prayer in Catholic mass - when the priest says "Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles, 'I leave you peace, my peace I give you'... The peace of the Lord be with you always... let us share with each other the sign of Christ's peace." I love that, that part of mass. It's generally more handshakes than kissing, but there's sometimes kissing and hugging and lingering holding of hands and it's always lovely.
Speaking of souls, when Europeans came to the New World, according to Vaughn Bryant again, the people here knew nothing of kissing. The Tahitians, who were quite fond of getting it on, were appalled by kissing - they thought the people kissing were trying to suck out each other's souls. Which is precisely what the Dementors of Harry Potter do, interestingly enough. Do you suppose that's coincidence? 
The word kiss, by the way, comes from the Old English cyssan, and before that from the proto-Germanic kussijanan, which probably comes from the root kuss, which apparently what a kiss sounds like. Apparently the proto-Germans made a very strange sound when kissing.
Scientists, according to, say that kissing releases euphoria-inducing hormones and neurotransmitters including Oxytosin, Dopamine, Serotonin, and Adrenaline. I'd like to be a part of that clinical trial. 
Do you suppose prolonged kissing would be more effective at producing Serotonin than my anti-depressants? Because I've got to say, kissing is significantly more fun than swallowing a pill. I'd go find my husband and begin testing this hypothesis, but he is sick, and I'm afraid any kissing that went on between us would be of the snot wiping variety.
Me and my valentine. Adorable, or creepy
like this weird snake necklace?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Racism is totally over... and the sky's yellow

As proven by these books, all displayed prominently on the shelves of my local Books-A-Million:
2008, the left wing and the Corporate Mainstream Media (CMM) fell head over heels in love with a cool, charming, and attractive smooth talker. His social security number (one of several, incidentally) identified him as Barack Hussein Obama...
In The Secret Life of Barack Hussein Obama, uncompromising journalist and political commentator Mondo Frazier raises unsettling questions about the man elected to the highest position in this country. Frazier takes what he calls The Obama Narrative™, the crowd-pleasing myths perpetrated by Team Obama and the CMM to market and sell their Messianic savior, and fearlessly rips it to shreds. He explores the many mysteries of Obama’s past, including his ever-shifting religious affiliations and political leanings, the facts of his mother’s background, and Obama’s suspiciously “missing” laundry list of records and licenses—including college, marriage, medical, and many, many more. He lays out the facts regarding Obama’s shady associations with such negligible headliners as the controversial Reverend Jeremiah Wright, ACORN, and former domestic terrorist Bill Ayers—and Obama’s actual relationships with those who stumbled into his creepy inner circle. He sheds light on Obama’s personal “Hate List,” and the man’s dark deceptions, broken promises, and the hypocrisies of his current administration.

Note the inclusion of Obama's middle name, with the layout carefully designed to draw the eye to that text first. He is brown. He is other. The cronies the blurb mentions - ACORN's closely associated with brown folks, Jeremiah Write's brown (and if you think his remarks were inflammatory, read about W's boy Falwell). And Bill Ayers... he's white, but everybody knows that most of the time, terrorist = brown. Mr. Mondo, I am appalled that you share a name with my all-time favorite Project Runway contestant.
This isn't about Obama being a bad man. It's about Obama being brown. 

Then there's:
Black rage! Black Rage!
We are today living out the script for America and the world that was dreamt up not by Obama but by Obama’s father. How do I know this? Because Obama says so himself. Reflect for a moment on the title of his book: it’s not Dreams of My Father but rather Dreams from My Father. In other words, Obama is not writing a book about his father’s dreams; he is writing a book about the dreams that he got from his father.
Think about what this means. The most powerful country in the world is being governed according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s—a polygamist who abandoned his wives, drank himself into stupors, and bounced around on two iron legs (after his real legs had to be amputated because of a car crash caused by his drunk driving). This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anti-colonial ambitions, is now setting the nation’s agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son. The son is the one who is making it happen, but the son is, as he candidly admits, only living out his father’s dream. The invisible father provides the inspiration, and the son dutifully gets the job done. America today is being governed by a ghost.
Oh shit! His dad's a tribesman. A tribesman. Look out, man. He's probably a cannibal. Might want to shrink your head. Holy shit! Obama wants to shrink my head and eat my arms! You heard it here first. In case you weren't terrified enough in by "tribesman," it's spelled out later. He's African. African. Those Africans, they will apartheid your ass. Oh wait, that's a different color of African, the acceptable color of African. 

And finally... 

A five-year veteran of the DOJ and a key attorney in pursuing the New Black Panther voter intimidation case, Adams recounts the shocking story of how a once-storied federal agency, the DOJ’s Civil Rights division has degenerated into a politicized fiefdom for far-left militants, where the enforcement of the law depends on the race of the victim.

In Injustice, Adams reveals:
  • The inside story of how the Obama DOJ spiked the voter intimidation lawsuit against the New Black Panther Party—and the Panthers’ little-known public appearance with Obama
  • How the Obama administration changed DOJ hiring policy to ensure radical leftists would dominate the Civil Rights Division
  • The Obama DOJ’s bizarre agenda, from insisting on kids’ rights to attend school dressed as transvestites, to litigating for teachers’ rights to take paid vacations to Mecca
  • How the DOJ has repeatedly sided with political bosses who flagrantly disenfranchise entire communities of white voters
  • Why the DOJ’s fixation on racial grievance threatens the integrity of the 2012 elections

Okay, this one is true. I'm being herded into white slavery right now. Rounded up, taken to camps, and I can't tell you how often cops harass me when I'm doing nothing. (And you don't think that happens to brown folk all the freaking time? Ask any given African American. If they don't have at least one story, then they should be playing the lottery.)

I want to know about this. Man's half white. Does he have an agenda to oppress half of himself? And what about his white agenda? Half of him is the next Woodrow Wilson (Woodrow Wilson hated the blacks. Things glossed over in history class.)

Say Obama's the worst president in American history. I'll disagree, but I won't call you a racist for saying it. Tell me Obama's dangerously liberal. Tell me Obama is a sellout. Tell me his favorite hobby is folding like Superman on laundry day. Tell me his second-favorite hobby is keeping as few of his campaign promises as possible. Tell me wants your grandma to eat cat food (that one's for you, Dave).
But when you start talking about his black agenda, you're revealing a hell of a lot more about yourself than our nation's president.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Words, words, words

I picked up Willard R Espy's Words at Play to lay some fun word stuff down for a change, but his introduction was a pretty big buzzkill. Yes, I read introductions. You find this surprising?
Espy postits that words are useless but for trivia, entertainment, and play. They can't be used to affect change in a society that speaks less and less intelligently. We communicate, he says, in fists, in bombs, in flag waving. Workers communicate with their bosses by striking, petulant children stomp their feet, parents hug or spank. "The pretense that words make a difference in human affairs," he says, "is one of the oldest and dirtiest tricks of English teachers and the ruling classes."
To which I say
you lazy, bitter old twat.
Human beings didn't stop evolving when we started walking erect. Women are less and less compelled or required to breed with only the strongest, the most aggressive. Smart is becoming sexy, because in our world, smart is money, smart is power, smart is the future. Nerds are inheriting the earth. Passive, doughy, too-lazy-to-harm-a-fly, nerds. 
It was words that ended the cold war, words that averted The Cuban missile crisis. Words like "it gets better" may be talking a bullied kid out of ending her life right now.

The Vagina Monologues changed my life. And no, I'm really, really not just trying to plug the show (February 25th 7pm the UU Congregation of Greater Canton, hit me up for more details and to order tickets). I'm just saying that it changed my life when I first saw it because it woke me up to being more comfortable in my own skin, less ashamed of my own body. Listening to, repeating the words of women who have survived violence worse than I could imagine means I'm never going to forget to speak and act.
Weapons fueled the war that ended slavery, but Clara Barton's words might have incited it - or so Lincoln proclaimed. The Constitution of the United States contains the most important words in American history, and I do believe in them; I do believe those words embody our nation's potential. Call me naive. 
MLK, Susan B Anthony, St. Augustine, Professor X - men and women of words who changed the course of my life and ushered in  new eras. Like an era in which human and mutant can live together in harmony. 
Words tweeted and social networked fueled the Arab spring. And man, if Yoko Ono's voice wasn't so damn annoying, the Beatles might still be together. Aside from the whole... you know, half of them being dead thing.
Words are my life, my passion, my only real talent. And I make a difference. I do. So put that in your cynical, snooty pipe and smoke it, Willard Espy. Also your word puzzles are too hard. Too hard, I say!
Also, this: