Failure Is Not An Option

On 20 July, the Reuters news service reported that some members of the Professional Association of Teachers (PAT) in Britain have called for the banning of the word fail in classrooms. Instead, the term deferred success should be used.

The organization as a whole will consider the proposal next week.

In Passing: Charles Chibitty, 83

The last of the Commanche code talkers, who used the Commanche language to communicate sensitive information over the radio during World War II, died on 20 July.

The Navajo code talkers were more numerous and more famous. Navajo code talkers served in the Pacific Theater. Their lesser known Commanche comrades served in Europe. Choctaw Indians also served as code talkers. Both groups used their native languages, supplemented with coded terms for military jargon that did not exist in those languages, to send indecipherable messages faster than by using conventional codes.

The "code" spoken by the code talkers was not very complex and could have been broken had someone with knowledge of the language been listening, but the fact that almost no non-native speakers of those languages existed and the information they transmitted was tactical in nature and only useful for hours at best, the code talkers proved a very secure way to communicate.

"It’s strange, but growing up as a child I was forbidden to speak my native language at school," Chibitty said in 2002. "Later my country asked me to. My language helped win the war, and that makes me very proud."

Moonshot Terms

This past Wednesday was the 36th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, what is likely to be considered, in centuries to come, the most historic event of the latter half of the 20th century. On 20 July 1969, Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin landed their lunar module, Eagle, in the Sea of Tranquility, while the third member of the team, Michael Collins, orbited the moon in the command module Columbia. The next day, Greenwich Mean Time, Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on our planet’s closest neighbor.

Historic events are usually accompanied by historic words, if not at the moment in question, then sometime afterwards. In the case of the first lunar landing, many of the most famous words were scripted in advance. The most famous of these the famous sentence of Neil Armstrong’s spoken when he first stepped onto the lunar surface:

That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.

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Tour de France Terms

The Tour de France, or Le Tour, is without a doubt the most famous, and the most grueling, bicycle race in the world. Held each July since 1902 (with breaks during the world wars), this is the 92nd riding of the Tour. This year’s tour is 2,237 miles (3,600 km), broken up into 21 stages or daily rides. The tour’s route changes from year-to-year, running through different regions of France and with some stages in neighboring countries (this year it’s Germany). Of course, this year’s Tour is eagerly watched by many because it is Lance Armstrong’s last year riding the race. Armstrong has won the last six Tours, the only man to have won that many.

Traditionally, the race starts with short time trial of less than five miles called the prologue. A time trial is a stage where the cyclists ride individually, against the clock alone, without the assistance of teammates. Some time trials are team time trials, where each team rides as a group, but not alongside the other teams. This year, the prologue has been replaced with a longer, 12 mi (19 km) time trial. The final stage of the race is always along the Champs Elysees (literally the Elysian Fields), the famed Parisian avenue. Riders do three circuits of the street, each one about 15 kilometers long at very fast speeds. Winning this final stage is considered quite an honor.

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Interesting, But Ultimately Useless

Then there is this website, devoted to Old English terms for information technology concepts:

Circolwyrde Wordhord

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