A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

rolling the dice, vegetable- and other-wise

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on June 7, 2007

My aunt is an artist – she makes beautiful objects of art and functionality. We each have one, given over many Christmases and family holidays. Mine is in Iowa – I treasure it too much to worry about losing it if I were forced to flee the country due to … well … any one of a number of crises.

The other day she asked me to photograph it – she keeps records of what she makes, but one book of photographs had been lost in their last move.

Of course I will, I replied, but it isn’t here. I left it in Iowa, for safe-keeping. But I’ll bring it back with me after my trip home next week.

I meant ‘photograph it some time’, not right away, she replied. It seems like it may be another dicey summer in Beirut.

Mmmm. Dicey is such a rich word – and quite recent. The OED identifies it as an Air Force slang term dating from after World War II.

Risky, dangerous; uncertain, unreliable, the OED says. After all, the word derives from dice.

Another word I often see derives from dice as well – diced, like the canned tomatoes I buy:

p1020697.jpg

As a verb, “to dice” means to cut into cubes (i.e., to cut into dice-shaped pieces). The French term is a culinary one meaning “(for tomatoes) to peel, seed, and chop”. 

The Arabic term, which simply means “cut into pieces”, is related to one that has been part of many recent news reports, as in:

إشتباكات متقطعة بين الجيش وفتح الإسلام  

Intermittent clashes between the army and Fatah al-Islam.

Intermittent clashes are those “cut” by periods of non-clashing. Everything connects, as they say in frisbee.

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