31 October 2009

12 Problems with Public Education

. . . What's wrong with public education? Nothing, except the schools!

First thing, I do fully support the notion of public schools for all, but I do not necessarily support the way public schools operate. The following issues and opinions are based solely on my experience as a student in the public schools of Livonia, Michigan, from 1970 to 1982. I have no knowledge as to how things are being done today, but I expect that a lot of these issues are ongoing, and that a lot of other school systems have these issues as well.

(Aside: I've often thought about collecting a book full of "teacher screws" -- that's what I call any true event in which a school official screws an innocent student in some way or other. Every person I have ever mentioned this idea to has had at least one "teacher screw" story to tell. I have dozens of 'em. This list includes three as representative samples.)

1. Exams.

Exams prove only what you can memorize and have nothing to do with learning. Yet everyone worries themselves to death over them. What a big waste of time and effort.

2. Honors.

Back when I was in school this was always a big deal but I did not understand what it meant and no one ever explained it satisfactorily. (Wikipedia has finally solved this problem.) But seriously, education should not be confused with competition.

3. Grade levels based on age.

Completely stupid.

4. Bullying.

Twelve years of being merciless bullied in public school and never once did I see a grown-up interfere with a bastard who was bullying me. Sometimes a teacher or administrator was right there and saw it all but seemed to pretend it wasn't happening. Several times I got in trouble for defending myself (not with violence). On only one occasion a creep who had been bullying me actually got in trouble, but this was 1) only after I had absolutely refused to go to school, and 2) only after my mom complained to the school. I could write reams on this topic.

5. Arbitrary rules.

Found out about a lot of their stupid rules only after I had broken them. Ask yourself if that's fair.

6. Bells.

Can't think of a worse thing to do to innocent school children then to make them jump when you ring a bell. All day. Like living in a prison.

7. Time increments.

Each class is 54 minutes long. Then you have six minutes to get to the next class. Six minutes of extra hell, five times a day. And the bells.

8. Regimentation.

Same stupid routine, every day. Who thinks this is good for learning?

9. The food.

I was lucky and did not have to rely on the school food, because given my difficulties with most food, I would have starved.

10. Freedom of speech, not.

One story of many on this topic: Wore a t-shirt to school once that said "They must think I'm a mushroom cause they keep me in the dark and feed me on bull crap." I was called to the office and told to put on a shirt from my gym locker, or, if I didn't have a shirt in my gym locker, to turn the shirt inside out. I was not allowed to wear the shirt in a way that people could actually read it.

11. Enforced nudity.

Yup. Eighth grade gym class. Teacher required you to shower at the end of class, and to be seen showering, and to be completely naked, and for you to present yourself to the student aide who would make sure you were completely naked before you started your shower. Needless to say I never once took a shower in that class. This was to avoid public humiliation from the nudity. At the end of the semester I was publicly humiliated anyway by the same accursed teacher who announced I was "most likely to never take a shower."

12. Pay phone.

There was a pay phone in my high school. It was in the hallway where anyone could use it. On a few occasions I escaped from the bullies and bastards for a few minutes by pretending to be on the phone during lunch hour or in between classes. I promptly got in trouble for "using the phone too much." Hunh?? What is the phone doing there in the first place? What is "too much?" And who the hell was watching me use the phone?


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29 October 2009

24 Goldwynisms from UUs

. . . The word Goldwynism was coined in the early 20th century for a quotation that carries an internal contradiction. It was named for famed movie producer Samuel Goldwyn (1879-1974) who was notorious for making firm pronouncements that seemed clear but, technically speaking, simply made no sense, such as: "Include me out"; "I'll give you a definite maybe"; "We're overpaying him but he's worth it."

The following Goldwynisms, lovingly collected over many years, sprung from the mouths of confused Unitarians and Universalists all across the world.

1. "I cherish the greatest respect toward everybody's religious obligations, never mind how comical." Herman Melville

2. "Say NO to negativity." the Rev. John Corrado

3. "The Garden of Eden is boring as Hell." the Rev. Davidson Loehr

4. "He's universally loved by dozens." U. Utah Phillips, singer-songwriter

5. "If you're going to misuse a word, do it right." Jessie Munro, author, critic

6. "I know what pot smells like because I've read all about it." Jessie Munro

7. "It just isn't Christmas until we've sung the Hanukkah song." overheard during coffee hour at a UU church, reported by Elizabeth Norton, 2008

8. "I have approximately nothing to report." William Hatton, committee chair

9. "It's so hot my armpits are sticking to each other." college student Kathleen Jacobs-Johnson

10. "I like the Ann Arbor art fair better because they have a better variety of crap." art fair visitor Kathleen Jacobs-Johnson

11. "Compassionate conservativism? When I hear neocons using the word compassion I just want to slug them." liberal-minded Kathleen Jacobs-Johnson

12. "Turn off that noise—I can't hear a word edgewise!" disgruntled roommate Kathleen Jacobs-Johnson

13. "I've had an excellent vocabulary since before I could talk." Gwen Foss

14. "You're throwing money out the window when you leave the door open." Gwen Foss, trying to convice thoughtless roommates to close the door during winter

15. "There are three kinds of people: those who can count and those who can't." overheard

16. "I washed a sock. Then I put it in the dryer. When I took it out, it was gone." overheard

17. "You can go with me or we can go together; it's up to you." Henry Clerval, college professor

18. "Occasionally I decide to be impulsive." Vanity Decklestad, author, folklorist

19. "Can you keep your voices down so everyone can see?" Bonnie Schorer Clark, trying to run church auction, to unruly crowd

20. "No one can shut me up unless they tie my hands behind my back." Heather Hicks, religious education teacher

21. "Does the album have any songs you like that aren't on it?" Henry Newt, music critic

22. "He had the same condition I've got, only mine is much worse." overheard at a funeral

23. "The show's only a half hour long. You can't do Hitler justice in half an hour." Peter H. Foss, my dad, complaining about the length of a certain television documentary

24. "If you haven't seen it before, it's certainly worth seeing again." Millie Foss, my mom, trying to talk a friend into seeing one of her favorite movies


Many of these quotes first appeared in The Confused Quote Book: 395 Slips, Misses and Errors Spoken by the High, the Mighty and other Celebrities, compiled by Gwen Foss, Avenel NJ: Gramercy Books/Random House Value Publishing, 1997, long out of print

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28 October 2009

71 Ways to Be "Fired"

. . . A list I started on 17 May 1984, the first time I got fired from a job. I also list below five euphemisms for "unemployed," and 35 truly horrid euphemisms invented by large corporations when they decide to fire lots of people and want to make it sound like a great idea. (A nod to Annabelle Gurwitch, whose documentary Fired! inspired me to post these old lists.)

71 Euphemisms for "Fired"

1. ankled
2. arseholed (Australia)
3. asked not to come back
4. axed
5. benched
6. best-shored (your job was given to someone overseas)
7. blown off
8. booted
9. bounced
10. burned
11. canned
12. cashiered (military term: demoted or discharged and publicly humiliated)
13. code fived (Domino's Pizza: fired without possibility of rehire)
14. contracted out
15. curtailed
16. degraded (same as cashiered)
17. discharged
18. discontinued
19. dismissed
20. downsized
21. drummed out

22. dumped
23. fired
24. flexibility (the right of a company to fire anyone for any reason)
25. forcibly retired
26. forty-eight-and-a-halved (short-order restaurant slang)
27. f*cked over
28. furloughed
29. given leave to go
30. given the sack
31. given walking papers
32. given your cards
33. gone
34. got the arse (Australia)
35. got the axe
36. got the bullet (19th century term)
37. got the gate
38. history
39. kicked
40. kicked to the curb
41. let go
42. lost your job
43. made redundant (UK)
44. offboarded (laid off)
45. organized out

46. ousted
47. out on your ear
48. outsourced (your job was given to someone overseas)
49. outta here
50. permanently laid off
51. pink slipped
52. pipped (from PIP = profit improvement plan)
53. purged
54. redundant (UK)
55. released
56. reorganized
57. restructured (UK)
58. retired
59. riffed (from RIF = reduction in force)
60. rightsized
61. ripped (from RIPP = reduction in personnel plan)
62. ritually dismissed (same as cashiered)
63. rotated out
64. sacked (UK)
65. selected out
66. sidelined (laid off)
67. suspended (laid off)
68. terminated
69. told to clean out your desk
70. toast
71. unloaded

Five Euphemisms for "Unemployed"

1. at large
2. at liberty
3. between jobs
4. (person) of leisure
5. on furlough

35 Euphemisms for "Downsizing"

Downsizing itself is a euphemism for a mass firing, also called layoffs (another euphemism). When the term comes from a specific corporation, I have listed that as well.

1. aligning operations
2. brightsizing (firing the brightest employees)
3. business process re-engineering
4. buying out (employee) contracts
5. career alternative enhancement program (Chrysler)
6. career-change opportunity (Clifford of Vermont)
7. career-transition program (General Motors)
8. cleaning the staff
9. downsizing
10. drawdown (US military term for withdrawal of part of a force from an area)
11. elimination of employment security policy (Pacific Bell)
12. focused reduction (Tandem Computers)
13. force management program (AT&T)
14. global workforce alignment
15. head-count reduction
16. involuntary separation from payroll (Bell Labs)
17. involuntary severance (Digital Equipment Corp)
18. normal payroll adjustment (Wal*Mart)
19. offboarding
20. outsourcing (firing US workers and hiring cheap labor overseas)
21. profit improvement plan (PIP)
22. rebalancing the level of human capital
23. redeployment (US military term for troop movement)
24. reducing duplication (Tandem Computers)
25. reduction in force, or RIF (Newsweek)
26. reduction in personnel plan, or RIPP
27. reduction in staff
28. release of resources (Bank of America)
29. repositioning (Stanford University)
30. reorganizing
31. reshaping (National Semiconductor)
32. rightsizing
33. schedule adjustments (Stouffer Foods Corp)
34. smartsizing
35. strengthening global effectiveness (Proctor & Gamble)


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26 October 2009

33 Unitarian Publishers

. . . Names of Unitarians who were publishers and/or printers, most in the United States, some in Europe, one in India. I have listed them in chronological order by earliest date found, and have listed other known dates they were in operation. I have also listed their home city and, if I have the address, I have given that as well. Some of these individuals were Unitarians for only part of their lives, but I have listed their publishing careers as fully as I can. See also my post from yesterday, 34 Universalist publishers.


1. Rakow Press — Rakow, Poland, 1569 (Jadwiga Sienienska, proprietor)


2. Rogers & Fowle — Queen-street, Boston, 1741, 1749; Fowle — Queen-street, Boston, 1754; Daniel Fowle — Portsmouth NH, 1757


3. Joseph Johnson — London, England, 1772-1808


4. Greenleaf & Freeman — Boston, 1785


5. New-York Unitarian Book Society — NY, 1822

6. F. B. Wright — Castle Street, Liverpool, England, 1822-25; R. B. Wright — Liverpool, England, 1829

7. Unitarian Press — Dhurmtollah, Calcutta, India, 1823 (Ram Mohun Roy, 1774-1833, and Rev. William Adam, 1796-1881, proprietors)

8. Unitarian Book and Pamphlet Society — Boston, Aug 1827-1838


9. American Unitarian Association — Boston, 1830s-1961

10. Ticknor & Fields (James T. Fields, 1817-1881) — Boston, 1854–68; Fields, Osgood & Co. — Boston, 1868-71; James R. Osgood & Co. — Boston, 1871-78; J. R. Osgood & Co. — Boston, 1877

11. L. C. Bowles — Boston, 1835; Leonard C. Bowles, 134 Washington Street, Boston, 1854, 1864


12. Unitarian Association — London, England, 1840


13. H. Farley — Boston, 1851 (Harriet Farley)

14. Walker, Wise & Co. — 245 Washington Street, Boston, 1859-64

15. Beacon Press — Boston, 1850s to present


16. British & Foreign Unitarian Association — 178 Strand, London, 1871, 1878, 1893


17. Geo. H. Ellis — Boston, 1880-1913; G. H. Ellis — 1881

18. Charles H. Kerr & Co. — Chicago, 1886–1928; C. H. Kerr & Co. — Chicago, 1899

19. W.H. Gannett Co. — Augusta ME, 1887 (William Howard Gannett, 1854-?)


20. Haldeman-Julius Publications — Girard KS, 1919–51 (Emanuel Haldeman-Julius, 1889-1951)


21. W. M. Kiplinger — Washington DC, 1923-67 (Williard Monroe Kiplinger, 1891-1967)

22. Guy Gannett Communications 1921-54 (Guy Patterson Gannett, 1881-1954)

23. Gannett Co. — 1923-57 (Frank Earnest Gannett, 1876-1957)

24. Unitarian Laymen’s League — 7 Park Square, Boston, 1924

25. Unitarian Historical Society — Boston, 1925, 1953

26. Harriet Ware Publishers — Boston, 1926–62 (Harriet Ware, 1877-1962)


27. Lindsey Press — London, 1931, 1947 (named in honor of Rev. Theophilus Lindsey, 1723-1808)


28. E. W. Scripps Co. — 1946 (Charles E. Scripps, 1920- , board chair)


29. Nocalor Press — Monroe NC, 1951 (John Raymond Shute, proprietor)

30. Starr King Press — Boston, 1958 (division of American Unitarian Association, named in honor of Rev. Thomas Starr King, 1824-1864)

31. Fuller & Dees — 1958 (Morris Dees, 1936- )


32. Unitarius Egyhaz — Cluj, Romania, 1973

33. Skinner House — Boston, 1979 to present (reprint arm of Beacon Press, a division of Unitarian Universalist Association, named in honor of Rev. Clarence Russell Skinner, 1881-1949)



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25 October 2009

34 Universalist Publishers

. . . A list of 34 American Universalists who were publishers and/or printers, including one who was based for some time in London, England. I have listed them in chronological order by the earliest date they were known to have printed or published any work, along with later dates they were known to be in operation, and their own dates of birth and death in parentheses. I have also listed their home city and, if I have it, the address of their company. Some of these individuals were Universalists for only part of their lives, but I have listed their publishing careers as fully as I can. (Next time, Unitarian publishers.)


1. Thomas Dobson (1751-1823) — Philadelphia, 1792, 1813

2. Rev. Elhanan Winchester (1751-1797) — London, England, 1797


3. Henry Bowen (?-1874) — Boston, 1818-1840

4. Rev. Abner Kneeland (1774-1844) — Philadelphia, 1819; Boston, 1834-44


5. Simon Burton — Buffalo NY, 1826

6. Grosh & Walker — Utica NY, 1827; A.B. & C.P.P. Grosh — Utica NY, 1840 (Rev. Aaron Burt Grosh, 1803-1884)

7. I. D. Williamson — Troy NY, 1827 (Rev. Isaac Dowd Williamson, 1807-1876)

8. Marsh & Capen — Boston, 1829; Marsh, Capen & Lyon — Boston, 1831 ("General Depository for Universalist Publications") (Rev. Henry Lyon, 1814-1866)

9. Rev. Russell Streeter (1791-1880) — Portland ME, 1820s

10. Rev. Abel C. Thomas (1807-1880) — NY, 1829; Philadelphia, 1832-35; Lowell MA 1839-45


11. Rev. Thomas Whittemore (1800-1861) — Boston, 1830-61

12. B. B. Mussey (1804-1857) — Boston, 1831–53; Benjamin B. Mussey — 29 Cornhill, Boston, 1833, Benjamin B. Mussey & Co., Boston, 1845-49

13. Z. Fuller — 86 Callowhill St, Philadelphia, 1832; Fuller & Co. — 106 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, 1854 (Rev. Zelotes Fuller)

14. Horace Greeley (1811-1872) — publisher of 'New-Yorker' 1834-40, 'NY Weekly Tribune' 1840-72

15. and 16. D. D. Smith & A. Tompkins — Boston, 1836; Rev. Abel Tompkins (1810-1862) — Boston, 1836–60; G. W. Bazin & A. Tompkins — Boston, 1839 (George W. Bazin); A. Tompkins — 38 Cornhill, Boston, 1840; A. Tompkins & B. B. Mussey (Benjamin B. Mussey) — Boston, 1841; Tompkins and Co. — Boston, 1863-73

17. Rev. John A. Gurley (1813-1863) — Cincinnati, 1838-54


18. Hallock & Lyon (Rev. Benjamin B. Hallock, 1804-1869) (Rev. Henry Lyon, 1814-1866) (see above) — NY, 1840-1850; B. B. Hallock, NY, 1851; Henry Lyon — NY, 1852-63

19. Universalist Union Press — 130 Fulton St, NYC, 1840

20. Rev. Erasmus Manford (1815-1884) — Lafayette IN, 1841; St. Louis MO, 1857; Chicago, 1864

21. S. Cobb — Boston, 1848-61 (Rev. Sylvanus Cobb, Sr., 1798-1866)

22. J. M. Usher — Boston, 1848-61; James M. Usher — 37 Cornhill, Boston, 1857 (Rev. James Madison Usher, 1814-1891)

23. A. A. Ballou — Hopedale MA, 1849 (Rev. Adin A. Ballou, 1803-1890)


24. Longley & Brother — Cincinnati, 1850-54; Longley Brothers — Cincinnati, 1855-58; Longley & Co. — Cincinnati, 1861 (Elias Longley, 1822-1899)


25. and 26. Nye & Demarest — Cincinnati OH, 1861 (Rev. Gerherdus Langdon Demarest, 1816-1909) (Rev. Holden R. Nye, 1819-?)

27. Universalist Publishing House — Boston, 1862–82, 1888–15, 1922

28. Williamson & Cantwell Publishing Co. — Cincinnati OH, 1865-68 (Rev. Isaac Dowd Williamson, 1807-1876) (see above) (Rev. John S. Cantwell)


29. Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) — owner and president, Roycrofters publishing company, East Aurora NY, 1895-1915


30. Murray Press — Boston, 1915, 1946 (division of Universalist Publishing House, named in honor of Rev. John Murray, 1741-1815)

31. Minnie O. Colgrove — Greenville OH, 1912


32. Association of Universalist Women — Boston, 1954

33. Universalist Historical Society — Boston, 1957, 1964, 1967


34. Rev. Kenneth L. Patton (1911-1994) — Charles Street Meeting House, Boston, 1962


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24 October 2009

31 Four-Letter Religious Organizations

. . . I figure most of us have heard of the Y.M.C.A., but did you know that there were dozens of other similar organizations founded at about the same time with similar aims and names? For some reason they almost always had four initials. Here are a few:

1) A.B.M.U. = American Baptist Missionary Union

2) A.C.Y.O. = Armenian Church Youth Organization

3) A.F.B.S. = American and Foreign Bible Society

4) A.F.B.S. = American and Foreign Bible Society

5) A.H.M.S. = American Home Missionary Society

6) A.S.S.U. = American Sunday School Union

7) B.B.Y.O. = B'nai B'rith Youth Organization (Jewish)

8) B.F.B.S.= British and Foreign Bible Society

9) B.Y.P.U. = Baptist Young People's Union

10) C. & M.A. = Christian and Missionary Alliance

11) C.E.T.S. = Church of England Temperance Society

12) C.M.A. = Christian and Missionary Alliance

13) C.Y.O. = Catholic Youth Organization

14) H.Y.M.A. = Hebrew Young Men's Association

15) K.L.J.B. = Katholische Langjugend Bewegung (German: Catholic Organization of Young People)

16) L.C.T.U. = Ladies Christian Temperance Union

17) L.W.M.A. = Lutheran Women's Missionary Society

18) L.W.M.L. = Lutheran Women's Missionary League

19) R.H.M.A. = Rural Home Missionary Association

20) W.B.T.S. = Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah's Witnesses)

21) W.C.T.U. = Women's Christian Temperance Union

22) W.F.M.S. = Women's Foreign Missionary Society

23) W.H.M.S. = Women's Home Missionary Society

24) W.N.M.A. = Women's National Missionary Association (Universalist)

25) Y.M.C.A. = Young Men's Christian Association

26) Y.M.H.A. = Young Men's Hebrew Association

27) Y.P.C.U. = Young People's Christian Union (Universalist)

28) Y.P.R.U. = Young People's Religious Union (Unitarian)

29) Y.P.S.C.E. = Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor

30) Y.P.W.W. = Young People Willing Workers

31) Y.W.C.A. = Young Women's Christian Association


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23 October 2009

104 Ridiculous Condition Grades Invented by Amateur Booksellers

. . . There are standard terms for describing the condition of used books, dust jackets, and other paper ephemera, and then there are these. These are not standard terms. They are just some of the hundreds of ridiculous terms invented by hapless amateurs selling used books on amazon, ebay, and other giant websites. I have collected a countless assortment of these and selected just 104 of the worst. They are grouped below according to what I think they are supposed to mean. My comments are in [brackets].

Correct Term: As New

Incorrect Terms:

1. New++
[You simply cannot qualify "new" with plus signs.]

2. New - Unsold

3. New & Unread

4. Factory New
[Yes, books are manufactured, but we call the place a printer or a bindery, not a factory, thank you very much.]

5. Mint
[Books are not minted. Metal objects, like coins and toy cars, are minted.]

6. Pristine

7. Perfect

8. Can't be in better shape

9. Gift quality

10. Same-as-new

11. Excellent

12. Exceptional

13. Brand Spanking New
[Ooooh, baby!]

14. Flawless

15. Absolutely Georgous


Correct Term: Fine

Incorrect Terms:

16. Fine++

17. Fine+

18. Fine-
[If it's not Fine, don't say it's Fine. The minus mark is not helping.]

19. Near New

20. About Like New

21. Near As New

22. Near Like New

23. Virtually As New

24. Great-Close to New-Condition
[Please learn the difference between a dash and a hyphen.]

25. Never Used Almost New

26. Very Good Fine


Correct Term: Near Fine

Incorrect Terms:

27. Near Fine+++

28. Very Near Fine

29. Near Very Fine

30. Close to Fine

31. Almost Fine

32. About Fine

33. Just About Fine

34. Almost Near Fine

35. Nearly Fine

36. Slightly Better than Very Good


Correct Term: Very Good

Incorrect Terms:

37. Very Good Almost Like New

38. Over All Very Good++++ or Excellent Condition
[Don't even talk to me until you stop using more than one plus sign.]

39. Very Good+++
[See above.]

40. Near Very Good

41. Very good gently enjoyed

42. Very Good condition for being all paper and old

43. Certainly not bad


Correct Term: Good

Incorrect Terms:

44. Good Solid Copy

45. Good or Better Condition

46. Good+++
[What did I say about using too many plus signs?]

47. Good and Used

48. Perfectly usable

49. Much Better than Good

50. Pretty Good

51. About Good


Correct Term: Fair

Incorrect Terms:

52. Fair+
["Fair Plus" is Good. If it's not Good, grade it Fair.]

53. Fair-
["Fair Minus" is Poor. End of story.]

54. Fair Copy

55. Fairly Good

56. Old and beat up
[I kind of like this one. It's honest.]

57. Completely Readable

58. Reasonable Condition

59. Not in Bad Shape

60. Survived Well
[Wait a minute. Survived what, exactly?]

61. Very Acceptable

62. Acceptable+

63. Average+
[For Pete's sake, stop adding pluses to words that can't be qualified!]


Correct Term: Reading Copy

Incorrect Terms:

64. Excellent reading copy

65. Near Fine reading copy

66. Very Good reading copy

67. Good Solid reading copy

68. Great reading copy

69. Research Copy

70. Reader copy

71. Very loved

72. Used - less than standard

73. Usable

74. An OK Copy

75. Child’s copy

76. Bathtub copy
[One of my favorites. Really gets the point across.]


Correct Term: Poor

Incorrect Terms:

77. Poor+++
[How many pluses till it gets up to "Fair?"]

78. Poor++

79. Poor+

80. Very Poor

81. Very Poor-
[Hell's, bells, just throw it out.] [I mean recycle it.]

82. Near Poor

83. Extremely Poor

84. Not in the Best of Condition

85. Not That Good

86. Rough

87. Very rough

88. Incomplete

89. Marginal


Finally, a short list of amusing condition descriptions that make the book sound really great but don’t really indicate its actual condition:

90. Museum Quality

91. Display Quality

92. Hand Picked with Care

93. Never Been Read

94. Read Once Condition

95. Gently Used

96. Ultra Clean

97. Super Clean

98. Whistle Clean
[Seriously, you can say it's clean, but is it sunned, bumped, torn, water damaged, missing pages? Tell me something about the condition of the book!]

99. Clean Usable Book

100. Nice Book

101. Very Nice for its Age
[Unfortunately "for its age" is a very commonly used but completely incorrect qualifier. Old books don't get special dispensation for being old. Grade them the same way you would grade any other used book.]

102. Very Nice Clean Copy

103. Decent+
[A qualifier on "Decent?" ROFL!]

104. Very God
[Might be the cutest typo I've spotted yet.]


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19 October 2009

10 Embarrassing College Degrees

. . . I would expect most people are proud to earn a college degree and sport some impressive postnominals. Unless the degree comes with a really embarrassing set of initials, like these:

1. A.S.S. = Associate in Secretarial Science

2. B.A.A.S. = Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences

3. B.M. = Baccalaureus Medicinae (Bachelor of Medicine)

4. B.O. = Bachelor of Oratory

5. B.S. = Bachelor of Science

6. M.A.C.E. = Master of Air Conditioning Engineering

7. M.A.G. = Master of Arts in Gerontology

8. M.Dip. = Master in Diplomacy

9. R.H.I.T. = Registered Health Information Technician

10. S.T.D. = Sacrae Theologiae Doctor (Doctor of Sacred Theology)


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18 October 2009

30 Essential New Words

. . . Terms from the used-book business, terms for stupid customers and bad drivers and other everyday annoyances. Those coined by me are marked bdg.

1. book climbing. scouting for books in a location where the amount of refuse, junk, rubble, discarded personal effects, furniture, etc, must be climbed over to get to the books. Book climbing is always risky but especially so in a place where the people in charge don't want to let you climb. bdg (Other bookdealers call this book crawling, digging, or excavation.)

2. cactet. a really bad band. (cacaphony + quartet.) bdg

3. citiot. urban idiot; a person of city origin who comes to the country on vacation and treats the place like his own personal garbage dump. (coined by Crosshair, a fellow online wordgame player, who said the term is about 25 years old.)

4. combateer. bad driver of any ridiculously large vehicle (SUV, pickup, van); such vehicles not only impart a false sense of security to the driver but they impede the visibility of all other drivers. Term based on the fact that Hummers, which are perhaps the most ridiculously large vehicle of all, were designed for use in combat zones. bdg (Click here to see more New Terms for Bad Drivers )

5. crebbit. opposite of debit. bdg

6. cussism. my uncle Fred's religion. bgd

7. custoner. stupid customer. (customer + stoner) bdg 2009

8. derogen. derogatory racial or ethnic term, such as abo, cracker, wetback. There seem to be a million of these terms yet no one has invented a simple word for them. (pronounced der-OGG-en) bdg 1982

9. dickularian. genteel-sounding epithet (or adjective) for a creep. bdg

10. elbow driver. a species of foffer (see below) who drives with one hand at the top of the wheel and the other hand doing something useless. So called because they often end up trying to steer with their elbow, and because they often have their other elbow hanging out the window where it can do no good. bdg 2008

11. emulationism. trade name or folk term for something that sounds precious but is only a cheap imitation, such as German silver (an alloy like pewter) or Alaska sable (skunk fur). bdg 2008. Click here to read my collection of emulationisms.

12. epeople. people who used the internet a lot.

13. fale (n. and adj.). both male and female.

14. flumlum. 1. nonsense. 2. doodad; thingamabob.

15. foff. 1. to do things while driving that you shouldn't do while driving. 2. to drive without proper hand placement on the steering wheel. bdg

16. foffer. 1. one who drives while trying to do something they shouldn't be doing while they drive, such as: using a cell phone; peeling an orange; putting on mascara. 2. one who drives without good hand placement on the steering wheel, such as: only one hand, at the bottom; only one hand, at the top; both hands at the top. bdg

17. foffle. to lose control of the vehicle because you were foffing. bdg

18. hexpo. witch convention.

19. igluet. 1. a small pile of snow. 2. a small statue made of snow. 3. a small igloo. bdg

20. jellot. a zealot who is really wishy washy. bdg 2007

21. moudness. mysterious quality a person has that scares other people away. bdg Jul 2008

22. munro. name invented and placed on a list or in a reference in order to use as test when trying to track down a copyright violator. bdg

23. plorf. the uncanny ability to see perfectly good words that aren't real words in word games. bdg

24. proctomorph. polite-seeming epithet for an asshole. bdg 1970s

25. roft. the last part of a cold / flu / the crud. One who is suffering in the last part of such a condition is rofting; they are a rofter. bdg 2008

26. sgwipe. carcass of a dead animal run over in the road. bdg 1978 (Note: I coined this word years before I ever heard the now common term "road kill," and besides, English needs a word that begins sgw--.)

27. thip. to set something in motion by curling a finger behind your thumb and then releasing the finger with great speed. (We had this word in my family since I was a small child; I don't know where it came from.)

28. thresto. general term for any object that tends to snag on everything. For example, a long coat can be a thresto ("that book must have been knocked over by a thresto") or eczema can cause threstos ("my finger has a thresto on it again"). The adjective is threstic. bdg 2008

29. ueai. the sinking feeling you get when playing a word game and there are way too many vowels to deal with. (pronounced OO-ee-aye) bdg July 2008

30. ultracrepidarian. a literate moron; one who has books on display in their house, just for looks, and never reads. (coined by Babble Rabble, a fellow online wordgame player, Jan 2009.)


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17 October 2009

How to Kill Mal*Wart

. . . Just a short post today, no word list, so sorry.

If you know me, you have probably heard me ranting about supporting independent businesses; well, I found a website where you can list your favorite indie bizes, and find indie bizes listed by other folks:


I found this website while looking for used books; the website is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association and focuses on independent bookstores, but they have plenty of other categories.

Anyway, I joined last week and have already added my favorite local hardware store:


the Chinese food store where I buy rice:


the last really good brick-and-mortar bookstore near me:


and some others.

Now I'm spreading the word and hoping everyone will join up and list more indie bizes. Together we can kill the Mal*Warts of the world and save the economy!


Find and browse reputable independent used-book stores at www.tomfolio.com



13 October 2009

20 New Tongue Twisters

. . . I started collecting tongue twisters in the eighth grade when I was required to learn some for a speech class. This was 1978. Now I have hundreds and my friends and I keep inventing new ones. Here's just a few.

1. Answering machine message.

2. Broad-brimmed black hats.

3. City shellfish.

4. City snowshoes.

5. Fish hatchery.

6. Fish sauce shop.

7. Fresh French fries.

8. Garlic bark.

9. Gig-whip. (Try to say it 7 times.)

10. Horseradish sauce.

11. How long does a fruit fly live?

12. Memorized crash statistics.

13. More ruthless or less ruthless. (Try to say it twice.)

14. People's preferable pickles.

15. She sent a special message by special messenger.

16. Shiny soap suds sailed down the shallow sink.

17. Short Saudi soldiers.

18. Socialist ship.

19. Sockless Crocs. (Try to say it 5 times.)

20. Sweet and sour shrimp.


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12 October 2009

Chronology of Used Book Portals on the Internet

I present below a comprehensive list of the many used-book websites that have come and gone since the early days of the internet. That's right, some of these are gone. In other words, there are some dead websites on this list.

Anyway, this list focuses on portals: websites where many used-book dealers list their books in one big database, and where members of the general public can search for and purchase them.

As one who has been selling books on the internet since 1997, I find myself continuously marvelling at how fast these websites spring up, change, grow or die, and all too often get taken over by major corporations that shut them down or transform them from friendly places into venues that I would not even recommend to someone I don't like.

Each portal is listed in chronological order under the year they were launched, revamped, or closed. Under each year the sites are listed alphabetically.

Please note: The earliest multi-dealer used-book portals listed below were not websites as such, since the used-book business on the world wide web (the commercial part of the internet) did not really take off until about 1994.

Also please note: This is an ongoing collection. A few portals are missing from this list. If I do not have the year in which a portal was launched, revamped, or folded, it is not listed here. Further information will be gratefully accepted and added to this page, so please email me if you have it.

See the bottom for definitions.



ADI (Antiquarian Databases International, bulletin-board-based service, launched, folded soon after)



booknet (fax-based service, launched and folded)

bookquest (launched)



muze (launched, description-generating software)



bookbytes (bulletin-board-based service, based in US, launched, folded soon after)



bookquest (bought out and shut down by interloc)

interloc (launched, pre-web dealer-to-dealer service only, based in US) Interloc, from interlocutor (middleman) was the first major successful portal. It is now called Alibris.



gemm.com (Global E-commerce Mega Marketplace, launched) Gemm began as a charming portal for sellers of used and collectible LPs, CDs, 45s; now it has no charm and sells everything.



amazon.com (launched)

ebay.com (launched)

virtualbookshop.com (launched, folded by 2002)



abebooks (Advanced Book Exchange, based in Canada, launched)

antiqbook.com (based in Netherlands, launched)

bibliocity.com (based in Australia, launched)

bibliofind.com (based in US, launched) Bibliofind was the best engineered site. Its all-word search was an invaluable tool for research and selling.

biblioworld.com (launched)

bookmatch.com (launched and folded)

collectorz.com (description-generating software, launched)

interloc.com (launched their first truly web-based service)

maremagnum.com (based in Italy, launched)

virtualbooks.com (launched, folded by 2002)

zvab.com (Zentrales Verzeichnis Antiquarischer Buecher, Central Catalog of Antiquarian Books, based in Germany, launched)



In 1997, Abebooks and Bibliofind vied for supremacy as the top two used-book portals on the internet; Interloc was a close third.

booklovers.co.uk (based in UK, launched)

buy.com (launched, selling everything including books)

half.com (launched, selling everything including books)

mxbf.com (based in US, first meta-search of used bookstore portals, launched, name soon changed to bookfinder)



addall.com (launched, meta-search of used bookstore portals)

antikvariat.net (launched, based in Scandinavia)

bookfinder.com (formerly mxbf, revamped with new name)

bn.com (Barnes and Noble website launched, new books only, with a used-book search engine that searched only abe)

exchange.com (launched)

half.com (bought out by ebay, but continued to operate separately)

popula.com (auction portal, similar to ebay but independent and fairly run)

rarebooknet.com (launched, folded by 2002)

usedbooks.com (launched)

x.com (payment transfer service, soon to be revamped as paypal)



abaa.org (Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America, website launched)

backissuefinder.com (used periodicals only, launched)

bibliocity.com (bought out and shut down by alibris)

bibliofind.com (bought out by exchange)

bibliophile.net (based in Switzerland, launched)

biblioworld.com (revamped as 21northmain)

bookavenue.com (based in US, launched)

bookgraveyard.com (based in US, launched)

bookopoly.com (launched)

bookradar.com (meta-search of used bookstore portals, launched)

digibib (Digital Bibliophile Community, based in US, launched, folded soon after)

exchange.com (bought out and shut down by amazon)

gbmbooks.com (Global Book Mart, based in US, launched)

iberlibro.com (based in Spain, launched)

justbooks.de (based in Germany, launched)

paypal.com (formerly x, revamped with new name)

21northmain.com (revamped, formerly biblioworld)



Amazon Marketplace (seller platform for isbn books, launched)

Amazon zShops (seller platform for pre-isbn and antiquarian books, launched)

biblio.com (launched)

bibliofind.com (bought out and shut down by amazon)

biblion.com (launched)

bibliopoly.com (based in UK, launched)

biblioz.com (based in Australia, launched)

ephemeranet.com (based in US, launched)

eurobuch.com (meta-search of used bookstore portals, based in Austria, launched)

half.com (merged into ebay)

ibooknet.co.uk (based in UK, cooperatively owned, launched)

muze.com (now being used by half and ebay to generate product descriptions)

tomfolio.com (based in US, cooperatively owned, launched)

wantedbooks.com (revamped, formerly bookquarters)



abebooks.com (bought out by justbooks, but kept the name)

bibliology.com (based in UK, launched)

bookradar.com (folded)

booksandcollectibles.com.au (based in Australia, launched)

borders.com (revamped, made into a redirect to amazon)

classicforum.com (formerly clik-books.com, bought out and shut down by alibris)

gbmbooks.com (folded but was revived in 2002)

ioba.org (Independent Online Booksellers Association, booksearch launched, linked to abe)

searchbiblio.com (launched, meta-search of used bookstore portals, now a redirect to biblio)

titlesdirect.com (launched, soon revamped as myownbookshop)

21northmain (folded)

usedbookcentral.com (launched)



Amazon Seller Central (selling platform launched for large retailers, launched)

bibliodirect.com (announced, possibly never launched)

bookgraveyard.com (revamped as bookquarters)

bookopoly.com (bought out by biblio)

bookquarters.com (formerly bookgraveyard, revamped as wantedbooks)

choosebooks.com (launched)

fetchbook.info (meta-search of used bookstore portals, launched)

gbmbooks.com (revived but folded in 2006)

giaq.de (Genossenschaft der Internet-Antiquariate, Cooperative of Internet Antiquarian Booksellers, based in Germany, launched)

half.com (feedback system merged into ebay feedback system)

interloc.com (bought out and revamped as alibris)

goindaba.com (description-generating software, launched)

librarybooksales.org (portal for nonprofit friends-of-the-library sellers only, launched)

liquidatedirect.com (description-generating software, launched)

monsoonworks.com (description-generating software, launched)

myownbookshop.com (formerly titlesdirect) MyOwnBookshop was launched by an independent bookdealer and had the best search engine hands down. For example, a search for first editions returned only true firsts, and a search excluding book clubs actually excluded book clubs.

paypal.com (bought out by ebay)

Pondview Books (cover name used by alibris to sell on bn) This is only one example of a corporate-owned portal selling through another corporate-owned portal, thus setting up multiple layers between bookseller and bookbuyer. They apparently dropped this name when it became public knowledge.

usedbooks.com (folded)

wantedbooks.com (launched, formerly bookquarters)

Yahoo Warehouse (selling platform, folded)



abebooks.com (bought out by Hubert Burda Media, based in Germany)

backissuefinder.com (folded)

bookopoly.com (bought out by biblio)

FillZ.com (launched, description-generating software)

iobabooks.com (formerly ioba.org, formerly hosted by abe, now hosted by choosebooks)

previouslypublished.com (meta-search, launched)

worldbookdealers.com (folded)



bookpursuit.com (based in Netherlands, launched)

booksatpbfa.com (based in UK, launched)

booksku.com (description-generating software, launched)

choosebooks.com (bought out by zvab)

findbookprices.com (meta-search, launched)

half.com (nearly shut down by ebay, then they decided to keep it)

iberlibro.com (bought out by abe)

myownbookshop.com (folded)

myremainders.com (meta-search for remainder sellers only, launched)

worldbookmarket.com (based in Australia, launched)



abbookmart.com (launched and folded)

bibliology.com (folded)

bookfinder.com (bought out by abe, but kept in operation)

ilab-lila.com (International League of Antiquarian Booksellers / Ligue Internationale de la Librarie Ancienne, portal launched)

iobabooks.com (formerly hosted by choosebooks, now hosted by biblio)

theartofbooks.com (description-generating and order management software, launched)



FillZ.com (bought out by abe)

Amazon zShops (folded)

bn.com (portal for used-book dealers, launched)

biblion.com (bought out by biblio)

bookavenue.com (folded)

gbmbooks.com (folded)

myremainders.com (folded)

vialibri.net (meta-search of used bookstore portals, launched)

wantedbooks.com (folded)

yahoo.com (selling platform, partnered with ebay)



booklovers.co.uk (bought out by worldbookmarket)

marelibri.com (meta-search / meta-portal formed by five European portals -- antiqbook, livre-rare-book, maremagnum, prolibri, and uniliber -- each portal is owned by professional, independent, new and antiquarian bookdealers)

Yahoo Auctions (selling platform, folded)



abebooks.com (bought out by amazon, but kept in operation)

gojaba.com (aimed at buyers in Sweden, Russia, Brazil, Poland, owned by abe, launched)



marelibri.com (new members joined: antikvariat, booksatpbfa, biblio)

usedbookcentral.com (folded)



portal. A website where many bookdealers list and sell their books. Every entity listed above is a portal unless otherwise stated.

antiquarian. General term for old, rare, high-end used books.

description-generating software. A software product that supplies ready-made data, and sometimes also stock photos, for sellers of books, CDs, DVDs, video games, etc, based on International Standard Book Numbers.

launched. The year in which the entity began operation online.

meta-search. A website that searches several portals at once; the meta-search website itself sells no books.

redirect. A website that does nothing but take you to another website. (Example: searchbiblio.com is just a redirect to biblio.com) Redirects result when a website buys out another website but wants to keep the name to gather in customers.

remainders. General term for new books that have not sold fast enough and have been drastically reduced in price by the publisher or distributor. Some bookstores sell only remainders.

selling platform. A term used by website owners to refer to a system whereby independent dealers can join the website and sell through it. Some websites have more than one selling platform; for example, ebay has auctions and stores.


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Marvel at the largest glossary of used-book terminology on the web http://tomfolio.pbworks.com/glossary