Issue 177, page 4

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Sez You...

From J-J Vandamme:

Please see François Villon (1431-63) Ballade des belles dames du temps jadis "mais où sont les neiges d'antan..." (French) and Jorge Manrique (1440-79) Coplas de Don Jorge Manrique por la muerte de su padre "Qué se hizo..." (Spanish)

We might also add "Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?", Joseph Heller's version from Catch-22,  but Pete Seeger says that he got the idea from reading an account of a Russian folksong. But wait, here's someone who's heard the actual song...

From Joseph Chiaravalotti:

Your description of the song seemed to strike a chord; I have a recording of it by Theodore Bikel from the album Songs of the Earth by T.B. and The Pennywhistlers. It's a vinyl, Elektra-7326. It's sung in Russian, but Bikel intones the translation on one of the repeats.  Thanks for the magazine.

You're welcome.

Georg Trimborn, Steve Bradshaw and Paul M. Robertson...

...pointed out an astronomical error (regarding the Pleiades being a true constellation - they are not. They are a star cluster.) in last week's Spotlight and offered additional information. The correction has been made. Thanks, guys.

From Helene D'Auria:

The last time I had occasion to write you was almost three years ago, when your exploration of the etymology of quick helped me to understand why the pregnancy event I was so anxiously awaiting was called the quickening. Your site is so terrific that it's one of the few pre-baby things I still keep up with post-baby, and now I'm delighted to find that another mothering-related mystery has been solved by an issue of Take Our Word For It!

As a breastfeeding mom, I've always wondered at the origin of the word galactagogue, i.e., an agent that promotes the secretion of milk. I could never figure out where that ga- came from. Your Spotlight on the constellations and the relationship between our word galaxy, the Greek galaxios and milk-related words like lactose has made everything clear!

Now if you could only help me with those toddler tantrums . . .

Shouldn't that be tantra?

From Stacey Wreath:

Although there's no guarantee that someone wouldn't cut a seal and steal something out of a shipping container, a different serial number should be noticed if any kind of logging procedure were being followed. In my experience with similar seals on trucks rather than containers, the seal number had to be written down when the seal was applied and verified by two people (the driver and the person receiving the merchandise), who would then sign a log sheet. Then, when the truck arrived at its next destination, the serial number would be verified and signed off again before being removed. It doesn't eliminate the chance of theft, but barring counterfeit seals any tampering would be obvious.

In the case of a truck carrying the container, when the driver stopped at a truck stop for dinner or a rest stop to sleep, it seems that it would be quite easy for someone to cut the seal, get into the container, steal some items, close the container, replace the cut seal with a new seal, and be on his way.  The break-in would not be noticed until the driver got to his destination and the seal number was checked.  (Doubtless he'd be held responsible for the missing items.) Can someone in the know elucidate?

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Or read last week's issue to see what all of these people are talking about!

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Last Updated 01/10/03 12:32 PM