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Bad Car Names, Eye-hair Data Provoke Interest, Taiwan Bans Writing to Left, a Use for Dhmo

by K. M. REESE
May 17, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 20


Bad car names

Bruce Anderson, in the May/June issue of AAA World, decries "the pointless names of the current car crop." He cites Mazda's Millenia (1995), which the company "didn't even bother to spell ... correctly." Among other examples he mentions is the Nova, which Chevrolet started selling in Mexico in 1972. In Spanish, he says, "no va means doesn't go."

Anderson thinks that "the pointless names of the current car crop cannot be pinned entirely on know-nothing MBAs and overpaid branding consultants." He thinks the names started with the noted poet Marianne Moore.

In October 1955, a Ford executive asked Moore to suggest names for a car that was to be introduced two years later. He told her that Ford wanted the name to convey "some visceral feeling of elegance, fleetness, advanced features and design. A name, in short, that flashes a dramatically desirable picture in people's minds."

Moore's suggestions included the Turcotingo, Utopian Turtletop, and Mongoose Civique. Anderson says his favorite Moore name was the Silver Sword, named for the rare and beautiful plant that grows on the Hawaiian Island of Maui. The Ford Motor Co. evidently was not overpowered by Moore's ideas. In November 1956, Anderson writes, the company revealed "that its new line of cars would be called the Edsel."


Eye-hair data provoke interest

The growth of eyebrows and eyelashes, along with related matters (C&EN, March 15, page 56; April 19, page 64), has attracted interest.

Donald B. Aulenbach of Clifton Park, N.Y., writes that for some time, "although not recently," one of his eyelashes grew longer than any of the others. When it reached a length that bothered him, he plucked and observed it. The outer end was black, he says, like the rest of his eyebrows, but the inner (attached) end was gray. In a while, a new lash, also gray at the attached end, replaced the plucked one, although Aulenbach "cannot prove that it grew out of the same follicle." He often wondered if the gray part grew faster than the colored part. "Those of us who are getting both gray and bald," he says, "might appreciate that the gray hair grows faster, thereby reducing baldness."

Meanwhile, the recent eye-hair talk included the remark that Lumigan contains 0.03 mg of benzalkonium Cl. Incorrect, say R. A. Hollis of Venice, Fla., and James W. Miles of Savannah, Ga. They point out that the active ingredient in Lumigan currently is 0.3 mg of bimatoprost. It also said here that holding lash length steady by pruning 0.25 inch each month amounts to a growth rate of 1.5 inches per year. John P. Lambooy of Baltimore thinks the growth rate is more likely to be 3 inches per year.


Taiwan bans writing to left

The South China Morning Post, Hong Kong, reported on May 6 that "centuries of tradition will come to an end under a Taiwanese law that bans the writing of official Chinese documents from right to left." Correspondent Jacky Hsu writes from Taipei that the new law takes effect in 2005. Text in government documents will then have to flow from left to right, as in Western languages. Bureaucrats will also discontinue top-to-bottom writing "and go horizontal."

Mainland China abandoned the traditional writing style in the 1950s, when it adopted simplified characters. After that, Taiwan was the last area to use the traditional style in official documents. Many Taiwanese already print from left to right; many others still write in the traditional manner.

Hsu reports that the China Times news group, based in Taipei, "uses right-to-left vertical printing in its morning newspaper, but left-to-right horizontal printing for its evening newspaper."


A use for DHMO


Gaboury Benoit writes from New Haven, Conn., that a while back he found a use for dihydrogen monoxide (C&EN, April 19, page 64). His Teflon squeeze bottle of ultrapure distilled water in the analytical lab, he says, "kept being 'borrowed' or used up." He then labeled it "Concentrated Dihydrogen Monoxide" and drew a skull and crossbones on it. He says no one touched it after that.


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