Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Polygonal values

In honor of allergy season kicking my nose's ass, the word of the day is "phlegm"--not just because phlegm the fluid has lowered my quality of life, but because phlegm the word is more fun than a frog in a glass of milk.

Much like my phlegm-engorged head, "phlegm" seems a bit overstuffed for just a six-letter word. Phonetically, a mere four letters--f, l, e, and m--would do the job just fine, though possibly at the risk of offending good Flemish people everywhere. But the thick, chewy, mucosy spelling and sound of "phlegm" is very appropriate--saying "phlegm" almost requires some phlegm.

Phlegm is also the root of many fine words like "phlegmagogue" (a medicine for expelling phlegm) and "phlegmtastic" (a synonym for..."really phlegmy"). There's also a band out there called Phlegm Fatale, for which we should be grateful.

(By the way, in case you were wondering about the complex relationship between phlegm and polygons, I originally went with the cute headline "Phlegmily values," but spellcheck suggested "Polygonal values," which I couldn't resist. Think of it as a reminder of just how important polygonal values are, especially in an election year).

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