the naming of names

They came to the strange blue lands and put their names upon the lands. Here was Hinkston Creek and Lustig Corners and Black River and Driscoll Forest and Peregrine Mountain and Wilder Town, all the names of people and the things that the people did. Here was the place where Martians killed the first Earth Men, and it was Red Town and had to do with blood. And here where the second expedition was destroyed, and it was named Second Try, and each of the other places where the rocket men had set down their fiery caldrons to burn the land, the names were left like cinders, and of course there was a Spender Hill and a Nathaniel York Town…

The old Martian names were names of water and air and hills. They were the names of snows that emptied south in stone canals to fill the empty seas. And the names of sealed and buried sorcerers and towers and obelisks. And the rockets struck at the names like hammers, breaking away the marble into shale, shattering the crockery milestones that named the old towns, in the rubble of which great pylons were plunged with new names: IRON TOWN, STEEL TOWN, ALUMINUM CITY, ELECTRIC VILLAGE, CORN TOWN, GRAIN VILLA, DETROIT II, all the mechanical names and the metal names from Earth.

And after the towns were built and named, the graveyards were built and named, too: Green Hill, Moss Town, Boot Hill, Bide a Wee; and the first dead went into their graves.

Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles

a millionth of a be

Here are some of my favourites from a delightfully absurd Glossary to The Ultimate Inferior Beings by Mark Roman.

Einstein Telescope. A clever device, this. It employs the curvature of the telescope, as opposed to the curvature of spacetime, to enable one to see the back of one’s head. It thus obviates the need for impossibly good eyesight and an implausibly long lifespan.

Leading stage reactors. Newton’s Third Law of Motion (action = reaction) often leads to the term ‘leading stage reactors’ being confused with the term ‘leading stage actors’. The reader should note that the two are not the same. Both the spelling and pronunciation are different.

Megalomania. A million lomanias.

Microbe. A millionth of a be.

Million. A thousandth of an on.

Phototriode. Like a photodiode, only bigger.

Snotties. Trade name for a leading brand of tissues. These tissues are probably the toughest ever produced. They are made from a special brand of a tissue-paper first synthesized at the Ruherford Laboratories. The makers claim that it is incredible: if you were to fire a 15-inch shell at a piece of this tissue paper it would come back and hit you.