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March 27th, 2006

A little etymology on the word homosexual...

Though the word 'homosexual' has about it a certain venerable quality, contrary to public convictions, the word has neither a long nor distinguished history. Coined in Germany in 1860 by a Hungarian physician named Henkert (using the pseudonym K.M.Kertbeny), it was not introduced into the English language until 1891(1) and was considered too new to be included when in 1899 the Oxford English Dictionary published its "Hod-Horizontal" volume.(2) It was conceived as a neutral term--and remains lexically opaque--at a time when no single terminology existed.

The ancient Greeks had no need for a word to describe homosexuality (they were ambisexual) but Europe in the eighteenth century not only believed there was a need, she found herself with a plethora of terms vying for public acceptance. 'Uranian' and its derivative 'urning' were popular among homosexual authors and their sympathizers, but as these words were derived from a speech in Plato's Symposium wherein homosexual love is described as heavenly and heterosexual passions as vulgar,(3) their acceptance by the popular or scientific communities could scarcely have been expected. 'Third sex', intermediate sex', and 'inversion', though not as hostile as queer (4), seemed to imply that gay people were not quite human. 'Intersexual' (sex between?), 'simulsexual' (sex at the same time?), and 'isosexual' (sex alone?), though valiant attempts at the allusive neutrality, failed miserably (5*). So 'homosexual' won its acceptance not for its linguistic integrity, but rather because no one came up with a better word.

* Others that failed: 'androgenic', 'catamite', 'controsexuality', 'hermaphroditism', 'homogenic', 'invert', 'morphadite', 'pathic', 'platonist', 'psychosexual', and 'transsexual' (sic).




Class was quite interesting today.

We turned in our mid-terms at the beginning of class, and then proceeded to talk about all of the cool things Japan is doing with cell phones -- they're light years ahead of the U.S. in terms of how they use the technology.

NTT DoCoMo's third-generation FOMA cell phone technology enables their cell phones to be used, among other things, as a "wallet" -- waving it in front of the ticket kiosks at the airport to pay for/retrieve their tickets, paying for their groceries at the grocery store with it, as well as the kids are using it to rent or buy DVDs at their local video store.

Kenji Kohiyama, Professor at the Graduate School of Media and Governance, Keio University says, "The keitai (mobile phone) is like a toy box with lots of different media stuffed inside where one can pull out the one of your choice as if from a magician’s hat."

As such, this device acts as all of the following:
  • a wallet
  • cash and a credit card
  • keys and company ID
  • ticket and train pass
  • sports club card
  • driver's license
  • and a photo album.
You can click on the three areas at the bottom of this web page to see three examples of how they're using the technology in the context of a construction job, a person doing the family grocery shopping, and two people trying to arrange a meeting somewhere.



I found this quote most interesting (based on a study of Japanese users):

Howard Rheingold (2002): "Most people stare at their cell phones instead of talking to it."



Keep in mind that we're behind the curve of Japan. You know you already see here -- in this country -- people doing a lot of staring.




I left for Carmichael to do the indoor track at about 9:45. When I closed my car door, I thought I heard a little noise, but ignored it.

When I got out of my car at the gym, my student ID card was no longer in my sweat jacket pocket.

I got a "day pass," of which I'm allowed one "free" per semester -- I didn't know about this.

I listened to about seven NPR "Story of the Day" podcasts during my 45- minute brisk walk.

My favorite one was:

Finding Happiness in a Harvard Classroom

Students at Harvard University are flocking to a new class that they hope may provide hints to the secret to happiness. Psychology 1504, or "positive psychology," has become the most popular course on campus. It focuses on what makes people happy, rather than just their pathologies."


This is a 5-minute podcast, and the thing I liked about it the most was the professor's "walking the walk." He said, "I gave up the tenure rat-race when I accepted this about myself: I like to teach, but I hate to publish." Good for him!

At home, I found my student ID card laying on the pavement in my parking spot. Whew!

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