Author Archives: Bob Welbaum

Who Gets The Ventilator?

The coronavirus pandemic is causing a serious reexamination of our lives, including our priorities. At times the need for medical supplies has become so acute we’ve been forced to deal with some very uncomfortable questions. For example, if the curve isn’t flattened and the hospitals are overwhelmed, who gets priority treatment? Should it be the

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What is Gaslighting?

Recently I found an article with the provocative title of “Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting” by Julio Vincent Gambuto (https://forge.medium.com/prepare-for-the-ultimate-gaslighting-6a8ce3f0a0e0). I realize English is a flexible language with many manufactured words and slang terms, but I’ve never heard of this before. What is gaslighting? It’s actually a relatively old expression. Wikipedia defines it as “a

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What Would We Do Without Numbers?

One part of our language we all take for granted is numbers, beginning with Sesame Street’s Count von Count. Numbers play a critical role in virtually every aspect of our civilization. But what if there were no words for numbers in English? Believe it or not, some languages do lack words for numbers. When you

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Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare

We can’t ignore this one. This is thought to be Shakespeare’s birthday, although no one know for sure. The Writer’s Almanac for today (April 23, 2020, https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-writers-almanac?) has an excellent summary of his life, better than anything I could write, so I’m just going to copy it here. “It’s the assumed birthday of William Shakespeare (books by this

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What is a Gnomon?

There is a term for everything. For example, that little plastic sleeve on the end of your shoelace is an aglet, probably invented by Harvey Kennedy in 1790 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aglet). So yesterday when I was reading about astronomy, I found a word that piqued my interest — gnomon. According to Miriam-Webster (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gnomon), it’s “an object that

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Sayings With A Silver Lining

Are you getting tired of staring at your walls and need something to cheer you up? Me, too. So I did an Internet search for ‘silver-lining sayings’ and stumbled upon Wise Old Sayings: Words To Live By (https://www.wiseoldsayings.com/silver-lining-quotes/). Here are the quotes I especially like from the list of 30 that popped up — “Every

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How We Got Here — Noah Webster

April 14, 1828 saw publication of Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language. According to The Writer’s Almanac of April 14, 2020 (https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-writers-almanac? ) — “Webster put together the dictionary because he wanted Americans to have a national identity that wasn’t based on the language and ideas of England. And the problem wasn’t just

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Taking Love Too Far

I realize this is not a good topic for the middle of a quarantine, but is it possible to show too much love? Apparently so. Our bodies are very complex and anything can go wrong. For example, the current PBS show “The Gene: An Intimate History” by documentarian Ken Burns (https://www.pbs.org/show/gene/) is exploring some genetic

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