Saturday, February 20, 2016

Taxicab



Etymology[edit] Harry Nathaniel Allen of The New York Taxicab Company, who imported the first 600 gas-powered New York City taxicabs from France in 1907, coined the word "taxicab" as a contraction of "taximeter cabriolet". "Taximeter" is an adaptation of the French word taximètre, coined from Medieval Latin taxa, which means tax or charge, together with meter from the Greek metron (μέτρον) meaning measure.[1] A "cabriolet" is a type of horse-drawn carriage, from the French word "cabrioler" ("leap, caper"), from Italian "capriolare" ("to jump"), from Latin "capreolus" ("roebuck", "wild goat").
Fascinating.  

As a kid I used to sprawl on the floor of my parent's house with our brick-heavy World Books spread out in front of me.  I would skip from topic to topic and volume to volume for hours.   I felt limitless: a conqueror with all the world's knowledge tangibly at my fingertips.  Knowledge had weight, then.  It had a faint but distinct smell, a thin, silky, gilt-edged smoothness and came bound in nubbly leather,  

If you never had that, you missed out on something,  

8 comments:

Mike Lumish said...

For all our present disdain for gatekeepers, back in the days of the 1960 Encyclopedia Britannica with annual years it was a real job and it cost real money to put information into a book that would be distributed to tens of millions of libraries and household. One could, in a crude sense, hyperlink but the associated articles had to pass a certain bar of rigour and relevance.

So I consider Stand on Zanzibar to be a remarkable piece of work. From the first page we are dealing with a flood of words, only a few of which have any meaning and that only understood well after the fact. In the same sense, The Garden of Forking Paths is an incomplete, but not false, image of the universe.

Pete Needham said...

Your mention of World Book Encyclopedia brought back memories of my own. Our house had a set of encyclopedias printed in about 1942. The World Books had good pictures!

I started to sneer at World Books when I compared the old encyclopedia's coverage of Adolf Hitler with the World Book. The old one was very neutral(allies might lose the war), while World Book was sneering propaganda in its coverage. I lost faith in the 'Meritocracy' of encyclopedias about then.

Wikipedia, I find, is quite valuable, in that I go to it for definitions or a general outline of a subject. I've read enough glowing drivel about favourite politicians to not ever quote it as an authority. I DO appreciate the work that folks go through to research and create an article.

myxzptlk said...

Thinking back to the bookshelf in my childhood home - first the Book of Knowledge (great articles on dinosaurs), then Encyclopedias Brittanica and Americana. And, of course, the annual updates that we never really read.

All supplied by door-to-door salespeople, who must have lugged literally tons of books to their customers, each year. And starting in the 90s, all erased in less than a decade.

It all seems so quaint, now (and you're right, DG, nostalgic). It makes me even sadder to think that the same fate probably awaits physical libraries.

Davis Statton said...

One of my high school teachers took a summer job selling World Books. I'm so glad my parents bought a set. I also used browse as you did. A nice memory.

mathguy said...

Saw the picture of the WB and it brought back the same memories for me. I wonder what kind of nostalgia younger kids today will experience with the Internet.

n1ck said...

I had an entire set of Encyclopedias with the matching bookcase, as a kid. I can't remember what year they were from, but I definitely spent hours just going through them. That thirst for knowledge and understanding has continued to this day, as I'd rather read and research whatever interests me at a particular point in time, than watch television or movies, or spend time posting to the social media sewer.

There should be a detailed questionnaire that all people take, which fleshes out those people who are generally interested in learning and understanding, from everyone else. And those people should work together to describe the rest of the world, in narrative form of course, for everyone else. Unfortunately, the marketers are the ones who describe the world around us, and they're just selling garbage to line their own pockets.

Unknown said...

My parents' encyclopedias got a serious workout. I couldn't believe how much I could find.

Marion in Savannah said...

What memories! When I was a little one we had the 20 (I think) volume Book of Knowledge, and the Britannica came into the house when I was about 10. Hours and hours and hours spent on the floor with open volumes. And of course there was the 2 volume Compact OED, the one with print the size of flea shit and the magnifying glass...