Date: Tue, 24 Sep 1996 18:58:06 -0500


Subject: Re: Chinese Fire Drill -Reply

I didn't know about the "prank" meaning, just the "scene of great


I've always thought that "Chinese" in this referred to incomprehensibility

and differentness, as in

Chinese checkers -- played with single moves and jumps, like

"ordinary" checkers, but on a star-shaped, hexagonal grid (not a square

one) and by up to six players (not just 2)

Chinese counting -- children's name for various series of

counting-out words, of the same type as "eenie, meenie, minie, moe"

Chinesed type (sic: the verb is "to Chinese") -- ordinary printed

English text, turned upside-down (rotated 180 degrees on the page) to

provide blocks of pseudo-text that look like text in overall impression;

used for mockups of ads, presentations, and so on.

A sidelight: In her Chanur trilogy, the sf author C.J.Cherryh invents an

alien race called chi: methane-breathers whose thought processes and

behavior (including fast, chaotic, nonlinear locomotion) are

incomprehensible to oxygen-breathers like us, but who nevertheless are

one of seven species engaged in trade on the space station Meetpoint.

At one point a character likens a confused scene to "chi in a fire drill". I

read it, read on... halt. Double-take. WHAT was that? Auughhhh!

Mark A. Mandel : mark[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

Dragon Systems, Inc. : speech recognition : +1 617 965-5200

320 Nevada St., Newton, MA 02160, USA :