The View from the Tower

I often read novels by Latin-American authors in the original Spanish.

I know, I know: at least part of the reason for doing it is just to be able to make statements like that — we all carve out these nuggets of self-esteem where we can find them — but the fact remains that some stars really do shine brighter in the universes that gave them birth.

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Turning a Phrase.

It’s been raining cats and dogs here for the past two days.

“Raining cats and dogs”: Everybody has said that at one time or another. It’s a distinctive expression, and is pretty much universal in the places where English is spoken. Oddly enough, however, nobody seems to know where or how it originated.The first use of the phrase is in print is in A Complete Collection of Polite and Ingenious Conversation by Jonathan Swift, published in 1738; presumably the expression was common enough by that time that he felt comfortable using it without providing an explanation. A number of possible origin myths have been put forward in the centuries since, but they are all little more than speculation, long after the fact, with nothing much to recommend one over another.

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