I find the articles of New York Times’ columnist, Maureen Dowd, a treasure house of English expressions unfamiliar to non-native English learners. It’s stud with knotty expressions and new words to me. In her article titled *Dystopia and Alpha* (August 2), I stumbled on the word *alpha* in the beginning line >President Obama was on the way to Alpha when a plea came for him to be, well, *more alpha*. The first *Alpha* is obviously the name of a town in Illinois, but what does the second *alpha* mean? Is it used as a noun, or adjective? I checked the *Cambridge Dictionary* to find the meaning of *alpha* and simply found its definition as ‘the first letter of the Greek alphabet.’ Aside the same definition, *Merriam-Webster* provides the meanings as adjectives: (1) closed in the structure of an organic molecule to a particular group of atom (2) socially dominant, especially in a group of animals. The ending line of the article is also puzzling to me. Maureen wraps up her article by quoting a few lines of Robert Frost’s poem: >I’m liberal. You, you aristocrat, >Won’t know exactly what I mean by that. >I mean so altruistically moral >*I never take my own side in a quarrel.* What does *I never take my own side in a quarrel.* mean? How can you have a quarrel with others at all without ‘taking your own side,’ in other words, without asserting your own stand? If you don't take your own side, you have no need for having a quarrel from the beginning. I understand this is a separate question from *alpha,* but I tried to save time and space, rather than dividing questions that stemmed out of the same source into two sequences.