I ran through a lot of “V-words” attempting to find the perfect subject for this A to Z post.
- Versimilitude means similarity to the truth.
- Variation within a group can be greater than the variation between the groups.
- Veritable means genuine or authentic, and recently it has come into accepted use as a modifier of a metaphor. As in “a veritable cornucopia” to describe a large number of things in a group.
- Virtual is often misused when not describing something housed or generated on a computer. It is misused in statements such as it was a virtual party, when it was a real party, but not called one. Virtual and real are different.
- Virtually is an adverb meaning in essence or in effect, but not in fact, or the same as in almost every way.
- Virtuality implies “as if” it were real, but is not so in fact. Primarily used in Philosophy.
But I did not really want to launch in a veritable linguistic exercise in the nuance of word choice and change through time for words so easily misunderstood and misdefinined.
The rabbit hole I spiraled into today was a colorful one.
Vermilon rolls off the tongue, but should never come in contact with the tongue, as vermillon is the orange-red color of the cinnabar mineral. This is a pigment made from toxic mercury sulfide. It was commonly used from ancient times until the 19th Century when the toxicity of mercury compounds became known.
I had known that cinnabar was no longer prized as a mineral from which to carve bracelets and baubles, statues, and other intricate carvings. I found about this from seeing some antique bracelets at an estate sale store.
I knew the color of cinnabar but had not put it together with the bird, Vermillon Flycatcher. Even though I live in Arizona, I did not realize that the Vermillion Cliffs people talked about were in Northern Arizona. Though I know the Sedona area fairly well, I did not think of the Red Rocks of Sedona as vermillon.
Now that I have I put all these things together, and my brain is so much happier than before now that I know of the linkages between these various minerals, animals, and places.
From what I have figured out the real problem with handling the mineral is when it is heated and the mercury is released.
To wrap all this up with a sound bow, I found this for your listening pleasure after the three brain cells I have left from the late 1970s fired and came up with a memory of this song.
The lyrics really do not address poisoning from the element but rather Graham Parker’s frustration with his label at the time, Mercury Records.
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