Mea Culpa- Adam Curry’s favorite bit of latin for podcasting

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podcast-logo.pngWelcome back. Today we have a celebrity inspired term, Mea Culpa.

Recently Bill Gates used it when describing MS’s failure to dominate the online music industry.

“Mea culpa” is a latin phrase uttered to accept guilt. It translates to “my fault.” I think people like using the phrase because it is psychologically easier to say than “my fault.”

Bill Gates use of mea culpa is interesting. While I am sure Bill thinks he can dominate anything he directs MS to tackle. Apologizing for not dominating the online music industry is awfully presumptuous.

I have also heard Adam Curry drop this bit of Latin on the Daily Source Code many times. My notes show I first heard it over a year ago, back on September 27, 2004. Since then I have heard him utter mea culpa several times. Funny how his use of mea culpa humanizes him and makes him more credible, while Gates’ use reveals his underlying expectation of unmitigated success.

I would like to offer my own mea culpa for being so derelict in producing podcasts. I have been busy applying for law school and trying to make a living in Cincinnati. Thank you for staying subscribed.

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An ad hominem argument against wireless ipods? Never.

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Ooh. Today we have a Latin term- ad hominem

Ad hominem is an adjective that describes an argument that appeals to personal considerations. It is most commonly used to describe arguments that attack a person instead of their logic. For example- Adam Curry thinks Apple should add wireless capabilities to their iPods. Adam Curry is an idiot, therefore Apple should not add wireless to iPods. This argument is a logical fallacy because it is predicated on Adam is an idiot. It attacks him personally instead of his idea. Therefore it is an ad hominem argument.

Just for the record I don’t think Adam is an idiot and I certainly would like to wirelessly sync my iPod with my computer.

An historical note for the lexophiles. This definition of ad hominem is new. The old, more historically accurate definition describes an argument not designed to attack the opponent but to appeal to the listener’s emotions. For example if I was running for mayor I could argue, “This city needs more playgrounds for the poor, suffering, disabled orphan.” By describing the orphans as poor, suffering and disabled I am appealing to the emotions not to logic. This argument fits the historical definition of ad hominem arguments.

In my experience I have never heard or read ad hominem describe an argument that didn’t attack an opponent. So if you read it or hear it probably means someone is attacking an opponent personally instead of their argument.
In either case these types of arguments, though perhaps effective, are usually a big no-no in formal rhetoric or debate.

Since ad hominem is Latin it doesn’t have an etymology just a translation. Ad means “to” and hominem means “man”. Ad hominem literally means “to the man.”

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Podcasting, now that is a Neologism

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Yesterday’s word got me to thinking and reading about word creation and where new words come from. This of course led me to a new new word- neologism. It is a word that has two meanings. The first is a new word or term. It can refer to a meaningful word like podcasting or it can be a nonsense utterance of an insane person. The second meaning for neologism is the act of inventing a new word. For example, the MBA types frequently use the word learnings to describe observations or conclusions since learnings isn’t a dictionary word they are unknowingly engaging in neologism.

Any neologists out there? Send me your new words.

Adam Curry Uses Big Latinate- Jurisprudence


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Today’s word was heard on the Daily Source Code earlier this week. Adam was talking about the unwillingness of a record producer to license his music for podcasting. Let’s listen.

Jurisprudence literally means the study or philosophy of law. Juris comes from the latin word iuri. For example the degree a lawyer takes is called a J.D.- Juris Doctor. Juris meaning law and doctor meaning they spent a long time in school. Prudence comes from the latin word prudentia meaning knowledge.

In practice jurisprudence is a noun that means the theory of law, the legal system or a branch of law as it is applied to the real world. This last definition is what Adam’s buddy used. This is also know as common or case law. He was telling Adam that if he let podcasters license music he would be setting the landscape, the precedence for licensing the music to podcasters. Presumably a precedence the rest of the music industry doesn’t want. They and their lawyers like being able to say we have never done that, we don’t do that. If a major music label breaks ranks the past jurisprudence will be muddled and a new jurisprudence or legal landscape may emerge. A landscape the music big shots might not like.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.