The Three Faces of Ho

Posted on July 16, 2014. Filed under: English, language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

This is a meaningless exercise in free association, so don’t expect too much.

Looks like another dry spell in my campaign to improve the attitudes and perceptions of you, the general public.  WAIT A SECOND!  What is that down here in the bottom of my trash can?  Let me un-wad this paper and see what we got.  O-kay…   there!

…it’s the word “ho.”

That’s all — just one word like a single drop of water in an empty desert.  It was part of a thought train a few months ago that passed its station without stopping to take on passengers.  Hmm!  Maybe it has fermented a little, and I can get some squeezing’s from it.  Let’s give it a shot.

Well, mathematically speaking, there is 1(ho), 2(ho), 3(ho), ho+x, x+ho.  X would be a variable like in an algebra formula.*  Ho, by itself, actually has several uses:

  • An attention getter as in “land ho!”
  • Something you throw, as in “heave ho.”
  • A socially derogatory term used either literally or euphemistically for somewhat indiscriminate social behavior, and can be applied to either gender.
  • The symbol for the metallic element holmium (Ho) which has an atomic weight of 67 if your are interested.

Sometimes, a single ho will act…   well…   like a ho…   and consort with unsavory types.  Such as the disrespecting hum:

  • ho-hum (ho+x) = “Oh, really?” or “Am I supposed to believe that?” or “Groan.  That is so boring.”

And those x + ho’s:

  • gung-ho, a trait of insufferable zealot-ism.
  • yo-ho = pirate talk, as in “Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.”  After a bottle of rum, I would wager that makes perfect sense.
  • heigh ho = a word with identity issues.  Miriam Webster says it is “used to express boredom, weariness or sadness,” while says it is “used to call attention to or give encouragement.”  So, exactly what were those seven dwarfs** trying to convey?

Twin ho’s — 2(ho) — come in a variety pack:

  • ho ho = identical twins; happy ones, too.
  • oh ho = mirror twins.  They mean:  “What th…?”*** or “Caught you, didn’t I?”
  • Ho Ho = a really sweet couple (it’s a brand name)
  • ho…   ho! = estranged twins;  “Was that supposed to be funny?”

Ho times 3 has only one use:

  • Santa’s standard answer to the seasonal question, “What are you doing in my bedroom?”***


I think my station is coming up, so I’m getting off this train.



* I could have said algorithm, but, that sounds — erroneously — like I am invoking the Great Father of the internet, Al Gore, whose famous Al Gore ithm, “I created the internet,” was the joke of the 20th century.

** Of Snow White/Walt Disney fame

*** That would be “WTF?!” to those ubiquitous Children of the Thumbs (the texting generation)



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The Merger

Posted on April 1, 2012. Filed under: History, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The rise of the experts (specialists in a given field) was important in the progress of human social evolutions.  This focus on specific areas allowed improvements (fine tuning) to innovations in every field, including medicine, engineering, navigation, transportation…   and even blog comment spamming.

Traveling circuses and carnivals of yore used an advance man to stir public interest ahead of their arrival at the next stop on their tour.  Experts, climbing higher and higher in their ivory towers, and, their views experiencing unfamiliar competition from an expanding Smart Dude membership base, found that staying on top wasn’t easy.  Protecting the purity of their intellectual turf required frequent and wide distribution of their assertions.  What they needed was a Gatling gun approach to information dissemination, and, that Gutenberg innovation, attended by a retinue of neophytes, should be compliant enough to fulfill that need for publicity.   …Maybe I should say “public authentication.”

The printing business was meandering along, searching for its identity, and the needs of the Great Learned provided a focus for their efforts.  So, between the story of a bar fight over in Shadyville and the fashion highlights of the attendees at the Grand Opera (strictly an upper-class affair), they could now slip in Sir Isaac Newton’s great revelation that things over you head could fall on your head, given the right circumstances.  It is incredible that mankind had mucked along for thousands of millenia unaware of such a thing.  But, like Al Gore’s invention of the internet, Newton’s invention of gravity opened brave new worlds everywhere.  Chalk 2 up for the Great Learned Experts.

As a union, this merger was not destined to last.  On one side, the individuals comprising the Great Learned camp had turf issues (“My idea is better than you idea any day of the week and twice on Sunday.  Besides, you don’t even know what you are talking about.”  That kind of professional objectiveness.)  On the other side, veracity seemed to be an issue; actually, a non-issue with some segments who felt a story ought to be just a story, not necessarily an accurate account of anything;  it’s all about sales.  In street jargon, many of these inkers were just sluts for a scoop.  And, never, never forget they had the big P.  Since, for ink fodder, anything with letters or illustrations could be printed, and business was booming through the industrial revolution, the experts needed the grown-up printing industry more than printers needed the experts.  The apprentice became the master.  Information disseminators were now the experts.

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