December 10, 2005

Porous another one

Today's NYT has a piece by Paul Vitello headlined "Hold the Limo: The Prom's Cancelled as Decadent". At the end of the story, Jim Rooney, the principal of Rye High School in Westchester County, discusses the limitations of his school's elaborate precautionary measures:

After-prom parties happen. It is almost assumed that students will seek memorable experiences according to their own standards.

"A lot of them go off to these Chelsea bars," Mr. Rooney said. "I understand that most of those places are quite porous."

I guess that "porous" here refers to laxity in enforcing the minimum drinking age. The AHD gives "easily crossed or penetrated" as a metaphorical third sense for porous. Google finds plenty of discussions of {porous security} with this meaning. However, {porous bar} returns mostly discussions of relatively long, straight, rigid pieces of ceramics, plastic, chocolate and so on that admit the passage of gas or liquid through pores or interstices. Since the context is journalistic rather than literary, we'll leave it at that.

Posted by Mark Liberman at December 10, 2005 09:57 AM