Week 43: Hebdomadary
It’s Hallowe’en and our next-door neighbours have really gone all out with the decorations: entire front of the house covered with spider webs; bats all over the front door; a skeleton, an animatronic groaning zombie, and a (hopefully fake) dead body in the front yard; a couple of pumpkins.
They’re making up for not being able to do it last year, and the little boy who lives there seemed very excited about it. I hope he managed a dentition-imperilling haul of sweets.
It’s our first year in a house with a front door, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. We didn’t get any trick or treaters. Maybe we’ll put out a pumpkin next year.
I learned something interesting, or possibly useful, about Greek and Latin roots of words today.
The word herpetology (the study of snakes, among other things) came up in conversation, and because I was saying it aloud rather than just reading it, I noticed for the first time that herpet– sounds a lot like serpent. Then I realised that the hept of heptagon follows the same pattern relative to September. And then, naturally, I started thinking about just how many other correspondences there are between Greek roots with h and Latin roots with s:
- hemisphere vs semicircle (half)
- halogen vs saline (salt)
- hexagon vs sexagenarian (six)
- hypothermia vs submarine (below)
- hyperthermia vs superannuated (above)
The French hebdomadaire (weekly) stops looking quite so far away from semaine (week, from Latin septimāna) when you realise it’s also an example of the same change.
I don’t think there’s a name for this particular phenomenon, but I’d be interested to know if there is. I can’t believe it took me this long to notice.
We had another meeting of Sanshinkai. It will take a while to get back to where we were in 2019, but I’m hopeful.
I enjoyed a few days of really focused work implementing a library to talk to a new API. That’s the kind of programming I really enjoy: a clear problem to solve, and no existing code to get in the way of solving it.
The this-time-it’s-really-the-last-chance-for-1.5-degrees COP26 UN climate change conference started today in Glasgow. I’m pessimistic about its chances of success because I’m pessimistic about the ability of nation states to co-operate (especially this one, currently involved in a pathetic international squabble over the fishing rights of a handful of boats). I also view the maintenance of large militaries that contribute significantly to emissions as something of a revealed preference when it comes to trust between states. We shall see.