Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Random Research: Hair and Fur

All fur is hair, but all hair isn't fur.

Hair may be related to reptile scales and bird feathers, which all represent different expressions of the same protein.

Hair takes even longer to decay than bones do.

Theories abound as to why people are hairless when our ape ancestors aren't. Temperature regulation? Pest control? Sexual selection? Or some combination: perhaps having less hair kept us cooler by day and kept the lice down, and we had clothing and shelter to keep us warm at night...thus allowing us to choose less hairy mates without our children freezing to death. Or something.

If you google "hair evolution", you get a lot of funky hairstyles, and a lot of beauty products with the word "evolution" in their names.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How to Pronounce Eclat

In the absence of a little accent thingy for the "e", here is a pronunciation tutorial for the word eclat:

Wow. What happened to your arm?
My cat happened.
I'll say he did — with all 20 claws.
No. Just a claw.

The Eclat of a Proverb

In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are dancing in nearly complete silence at the Netherfield ball. Elizabeth gives this explanation for their lack of conversation:

      "We are each of an unsocial, taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the eclat of a proverb."

On about my dozenth time through the book, I finally looked up "eclat," which, it turns out, means "social distinction or conspicuous success."

Mr. Darcy tells Elizabeth, "This is no very striking resemblance of your own character, I am sure," and she demurs to "decide on [her] own performance,"  regarding her analysis of his character.

I, however, have determined that Elizabeth's description is quite apt as regards this blog. I'm not taciturn and unsocial in daily life, but most of the time when I think of a topic to discuss here, I instantly reject it as lacking eclat (which should have an accent thingy over the e).

This blog, like Mr. Darcy, needs to loosen up, and follow Elizabeth's example:  "I hope I never ridicule what is wise and good. Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies, DO divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can."

I have lots and lots of follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies and shall make a concerted effort to laugh at them more consistently here on the blog. Perhaps if I'm not so taciturn and unsocial, I'll even find some of what is wise and good to share.

Coming up: proper forsythia coiffures, the evolution of hair, and a shocking revelation about reading glasses.
Lee Ann Setzer's blog about books, writing, and life in general.