Posts Tagged ‘history’

Reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

March 11, 2012

I’m slowly working through The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, and outside of that just happened upon a quote:

We know now that a man can read Goethe or Rilke in the evening, that he can play Bach and Schubert, and go to his day’s work at Auschwitz in the morning. -George Steiner, professor and writer (b. 1929)

While true, I think the quote is somewhat incomplete. The Nazi beliefs and values that lead to such horrible actions did not just occur in spite of a cultured life. While it was incorrect to do so, Nazi leaders read into the works of prior authors, musicians and artists a historical cultural backdrop–one that effectively condoned dictatorship, war and mass violence as a means to control and destroy “lesser” people. It’s a little complex to explain, but the mere fact that one listens to Bach or Wagner does not indicate what one hears in it. In the end, mass murder does not seem to be an animalistic tendency–when a wolf looks at a flock of sheep, it does not think “delete all.” It looks for the weak and easy to kill, for its own survival. Animal turf wars end when one side gives in and–usually–is allowed to leave. Auschwitz is a cultural phenomenon–a ruthless domination based on feelings of inherent superiority coupled with a philosophical tendency toward war over peace as the propagator of nations. Those idiotic beliefs came from a twisted reading of civilized culture, not in spite of it. 

Anyway, enough of that. 

Advertisements Seven massive historic typos

May 4, 2010

Interesting stuff. This one was my favorite:

#3. Bullshit Word Added to the English Language

Because English is a bit of an all-sorts language, you’ll find that it includes words from all sorts of crazy places (such as the now-treasured f-word). However, every now and then you will come across a word in the English dictionary whose etymology is not Greek or Latin, but freaking Typo. “Dord”, introduced to the world in 1931, is one of those words.

dord, n. [Typo.] Example: “Dord!”

The Typo:

This delightful word first surfaced in the Webster’s Third New International Dictionary as a noun in physics and chemistry meaning density. Since then, “dord” enjoyed a happy run throughout the cheerful years known as the 1930s until some editor noticed on February 28, 1939 (yes, we know the exact date) that the word lacked etymology (i.e. a back-story).


After an extensive investigation by whom we can only assume were the Grammar Police, it was revealed that “dord” was originally submitted on July 31, 1931 by Austin M. Patterson, Webster’s chemistry editor (yes, we know all this information as well), to read “D or d,” an abbreviated form of density. But if the letters are squeezed a little too close together…

The Result:

For those of you keeping score, you may be surprised by the vast amount of information we have surrounding this typo right down to the day, month and year. How do we know all this? Simple: Do not screw with the Grammar Police, particularly the English ones.

Grammar Police. Coming soon from the makers of Snatch and Masterpiece Theater.

As for the pronunciation, they clearly pulled that out of their ass.