Harrowing

Ken Burns & Lynne Novick’s The Vietnam War I felt was “harrowing.”

What does the word harrowing mean?

source:

In farming this is a harrow.

A device consisting of a heavy framework having several disks or teeth in a row, which is dragged across ploughed land to smooth or break up the soil, to remove weeds or cover seeds;

A harrowing documentary feels like it’s doing this to you?

A harrowing experience is painful, but it breaks up your clods.

The etymology drifts back into the mists of Old Norse before dissolving away into Proto-Indo-European and Old Persian, but it may have something to do with “harvest”

Icelandic

Etymology

From Proto-Germanic*harjōną (see also East Frisian ferheerje, German verheeren(to harry, devastate)) Swedish härja(ravage, harry)), from Proto-Germanic*harjaz(army) (see also Old English here, West Frisian hear, Dutch heer, German Heer), from Proto-Indo-European*koryos (compare Middle Irish cuire(army), Lithuanian kãrias(army; war), Old Church Slavonic кара(karastrife), Ancient Greek κοίρανος(koíranoschief, commander), Old Persian [script needed](kāraarmy)).

As a boy, Winston Churchill went to a school called Harrow:

which he found to be a harrowing experience.  Churchill had many harrowing experiences.  He was in combat, for one.  That’s a famous harrow.  Having polio is harrowing.

UNITED STATES – SEPTEMBER 27: President Franklin D. Roosevelt leaves his home at 49 East 65th Street for a short visit to his family estate at Hyde Park, north of New York City. This photograph is unusual in that FDR’s leg braces are clearly visible. (Photo by Martin Mcevilly/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Childbirth has got to be harrowing, as is growing up on the frontier.

You wouldn’t wish any harrowing experiences on anybody, but it seems like all great leaders had been through a harrowing or two.

 

 


Almond

Take a break from your work and the stressful news to learn the etymology of the word almond.

Looked it up because I wondered if it might be Arabic.  Not so.

From Greek amygdalos, a word of unknown origin, perhaps from Semitic.

Thanks Online Etymology Dictionary.

(From the Who Did This? section of Online Etymology Dictionary’s website:

My political ideas have no future and I keep them to myself unless provoked. They tend toward the -isms that begin with anti-anti- and take root among the kind of people who are steamrolled by developments, murdered by revolutions, and forgotten even in footnotes. I deplore politics based on herd and tribe and demonizing of the other, which means most of it. What else? Dogs and I don’t get along. I’m trying to think of qualities that matter to people’s weighting of integrity. I haven’t watched television since 1994. It might have been ’96. I put ketchup on hot dogs and mustard on french fries. When I played World of Warcraft I found I generally chose a rogue. Human. Female.

And:

Etymonline is a can-opener

Couldn’t agree more.)

The same root word is used to name the amygdala in your brain.

We don’t wade into neuroscience here on Helytimes.  Using the brain to study itself feels grotesque.  It’s too overwhelming, my brain refuses to learn about itself.  (Only just learned there are two amygdala, for instance).  And charts like this agitate because I suspect they are probably crazy oversimplifications to the point of being meaningless?

But some interesting bits from the Wiki page on amygdala:

Amygdala volume correlates positively with both the size (the number of contacts a person has) and the complexity (the number of different groups to which a person belongs) of social networks.[59][60] Individuals with larger amygdalae had larger and more complex social networks. They were also better able to make accurate social judgments about other persons’ faces.[61]

And:

There are cases of human patients with focal bilateral amygdala lesions, due to the rare genetic condition Urbach-Wiethe disease.[67][68]

And:

The amygdala appears to play a role in binge drinking, being damaged by repeated episodes of intoxication and withdrawal.[70] Alcoholism is associated with dampened activation in brain networks responsible for emotional processing[clarification needed], including the amygdala.[71]

The story about Obama eating seven almonds a night was so perfect – that is a good number of almonds to eat!  Obama’s explanation of it I found illuminating:

“Well, this is an example of the weird way that the press works,” Obama said. “So Michelle and Sam Kass, who was our chef here, one night they were talking about me and teasing me about how disciplined I was, that I didn’t have potato chips or I didn’t have a piece of cake. And this is when Michelle said, ‘Yes, and he just has seven almonds. That’s it.’ To really drive home the point that I needed to loosen up a little bit. And Sam relayed this joke to The New York Times in the article and somehow it was relayed as if I was counting out … the seven almonds.”

source

Almonds.  Enjoy them.

 

Previous Helytimes coverage of almonds.


Psychopomp

Glad to learn this word.