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[Comments] (6) So Long, And Thanks For All The Non-Fish: In high school or college I learned from one or another pedant that you're not supposed to call starfish "starfish"; you're supposed to call them sea stars because they're not fish. Well, they're not stars eithGAH MY EYES! Okay, some of them are stars. Also at some point I learned that octopods used to be called "devilfish". They're not fish either.

When we went to the Monterey Bay aquarium last weekend there was one awesome permanent exhibit with a lot of jellyfish. Also a "The Art of Jellies" exhibit which was pretty gimmicky if you ask me, though it did position a tank of jellyfish in a mirrored room, giving you the impression that they had you surrounded. But apparently the marine biology cartel now wants you to say "jellies" (or, I suppose "sea jellies") instead of "jellyfish", because those things are amazingly not fish.

The only other non-fish with a fishy name I can think of is "cuttlefish". I've never heard anyone saying you should call a cuttlefish something else, but I checked "on the line", as the kids say, and "cuttle" is the hot new name for that beast. How long has this been going on? Did people used to refer to cucumberfish, anenomefish, and urchinfish until someone rewrote the aquarium displays to encourage the biologically correct usage?

In an interesting reverse of this trend, at the aquarium I also noticed that the fish that used to be called a "dolphin" is now called a "dolphinfish". I think chopping "fish" off the names of obvious non-fish is not really worth it, but I'm glad about the "dolphinfish" change because that was really confusing. I'd hear about sport fishermen catching a bazillion dolphin and wonder why nobody was upset about that.

[Comments] (2) : Decklin Foster, who seems to have some connection to the Chicago cabal, has written roux. This is a screen-scraper->RSS feed gateway that uses Beautiful Soup, much like Scrape 'N' Feed, but where S'N'F gives you the page and has you write a screen-scraper, roux has you define some suspiciously regexp-looking things that magically reach into the soup and extract the things you want. As Vic Fontaine would say, crazy! Decklin, how does it work?

Darmonodes’ Elephant: This has beeen bothering me for a while. In Moby-Dick Melville uses a metaphor that includes "Darmonodes' elephant", known for its antisocial behavior. I didn't know if this Darmonodes character was supposed to be the owner of the elephant or a historian who'd included the elephant in a book of prurient anecdotes or what, so I looked him up and--nothing. The only place he shows up on the web is in copies of Moby-Dick. Did Melville make him up to avoid direct association with the elephant story?

2007 Update: I found this annotation in Google Book Search, in the Northwestern University Press's edition of Moby-Dick (ISBN 0810102684):

Apparently a misreading as the name for the elephant's owner. The editors of the Hendricks House Moby-Dick... point out that it does not occur in Melville's source passages and that its form is an impossible one in Greek. The NN [presumably another edition] editors have no explanation or emendation to offer.

I'm pretty sure Melville made up a dirty story and ascribed it to ancient history.


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