03 April 2006
SETI League
PriUPS Project


Calibrating Risibility

Mr. Skilling remarked that he wouldn't recommend the Raptor plan "except for the fact that it allowed him to circumvent the accounting rules."  Mr. Glisan said Mr. Lay "giggled" at the plan though he later conceded it might have been more of a chuckle.  (Wall Street Journal, 25 March 2006, reporting on the trial of Enron's Lay and Skilling.)

You might guffaw at at the defense's attempt to draw the concession from Glisan.  But Skilling and Lay are on trial and the jury's decision may hinge on whether it was a "giggle" or a "chuckle."  If they walk on a "chuckle" the effort will have been worth it.  (I suspect that if Lay had "cackled" it would be "life without possibility of parole.")

The Inuits, who used to be Eskimos, have a bunch of words for "snow."  I wonder if they snicker at us when they realize that we only have one, and skiers have to use those silly adjectives.  Or, do they crow* when they realize that we have no idea how many words they have for snow and have to say "bunch" instead of doing research. 

"Crow" doesn't really fit.  I got it from a thesaurus, but I think "crow" is more of a mental than audible expression of mirth, verging on an English equivalent to schadenfreude.

Richard Factor