Palindromes and Palin-dromes

Yesterday was a palindrome date: 01/02/2010. 

According to the Boston Globe

Jan. 2, 2010, is the second such date out of 36 that occurs this millennium. The first was 10/02/2001.

Aziz Inan, a University of Portland electrical engineering professor, has been studying this phenomenon and speaks with great enthusiasm as he describes the history of palindrome dates.

Before 2001, he excitedly pointed out in an interview yesterday, the most recent was in 1380, since days of the month never exceed 31. The next date comes next year: 11/02/2011.

This reminded me of the contest that Alex Beam (Globe columnist) ran during the 2008 Presidential election.  Beam asked readers to send it Palin-dromes.  And, this being Boston, many did.  Here are some excerpts from various columns.

Serial palindromist George Lovely chips in, “Woe! Dawns Sarah harassn’ Wade. Ow!” where Wade refers to Roe v. Wade, of course. Alison Merrill sent in a serious candidate for world’s longest Palin-drome: ” ‘Ah! I made veep.’ – S.P. Moody? Baby? Doom? P.S. Peeved am I, ha!” In contrast, brevity is the soul of Ira Richler’s wit: “Peeve: Babe veep.”Bob Treitman sent me ” ‘Hey, did I harass?’ Sarah: ‘I did, yeh.’ ” From Hastings, in the United Kingdom, Paul Barlow put down the podger long enough to send in eight, repeat eight, vice-presidential palindromes! On McCain’s vice-presidential announcement, he writes, “Avid dog delivers reviled god-diva.” On Palin’s election as Alaska’a governor, “Hara! She won snow eh? Sarah?”

The Sarah Palin-dromes are still pouring in, so I haven’t chosen a contest winner yet. (A palindrome is a word or phrase that reads the same backward or forward, the classic example being “Madam, I’m Adam.”) Barry Duncan of Somerville, who has the word “palindromist” in his e-dress, sent in 11 Palin-dromes – “a reversible number,” as he points out. I certainly like, “Ha! Rash Sarah!” and “Media harass Sarah? Aid ’em!” Duncan invokes the palindromist’s motto – length isn’t everything – and then submits the astonishing: “Put up SP? Won’t I. Reviled to no. two? Veto VP, I. True! So Palin (a tundra-hard nut, a nil, a poseur) tip vote? Vow to not deliver it now. P.S. Put up!”Professor Stephen Morillo of Wabash College in Indiana co-authored a seemingly endless Palin-drome with Bob Binstock of Cambridge that rivals Duncan’s for length, but I can’t understand it. I get the beginning and the ending (“OK, now I rep U.S. . . . I’m super! I won! K.O.!”), but the middle seems opaque to me. Their shorter submission, which I do understand, has a major wire service passing judgment on McCain’s nominee: “Palin nil! – A.P.” Cindy Kumin sent me “P.S. Do go, ‘NO!’ on (O, God) S.P.” and John Cabot kicked in, “All I saw? Wasilla . . .” and “Party animal, am I? Nay, trap!”

As promised, I have chosen the winner of the Sarah Palin-drome contest. (A palindrome is a phrase that makes sense read forward and backward – e.g., “Madam, I’m Adam.”) Thanks to the music of the blogospheres, I received well over a hundred submissions from around the globe. Yet, much like those phony “nationwide” job searches, I found the winners close to home.

First runner-up: “Party boobytrap,” which is both brief and clever. Second runner-up: “Women veep’s peev’n ’em, ow,” from Northeastern University student Eric Greenberg. The winner of a used copy of “Huckleberry Finn” – a book that many have tried to ban from our nation’s libraries – George Lovely of Milton, for “Yo, sure hot, top spot to her? U.S. Oy!” Congratulations!

We end with an Obama palindrome – the only one that Beam published and probably the only one he got.

In a touching gesture of bipartisanship, Carl Saras, whose last name is a palindrome, offered up a piece of Latin erudition: “Obama amabo,” or “I will love Obama.”

I have a feeling that we will still be having fun with Sarah in 2010.

4 thoughts on “Palindromes and Palin-dromes

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