. . . since I misread Tim Blair’s post about a Prince concert in Sydney as saying that it took place at “Allophones Arena”. I suppose Allphones is an Australian telephone company. (Don’t tell me. If I cared I could find out easily enough. In less time than it took to write this parenthesis, actually.)
Monday: May 28, 2012
Saturday: November 5, 2011
When I worked in D.C. 20+ years ago, I often walked past the statue. My friends and I liked to think of it as the allegorical depiction of Bureaucracy restraining Trade.
Saturday: May 21, 2011
My local movie theater has been serving delicious hors d’oeuvres (from this restaurant) at their showings of the Metropolitan Opera HD simulcasts. What should they have served for Richard Strauss’ last opera on April 23rd? Carpaccio, of course.
Sunday: May 1, 2011
The professor is nothing if not a maker of card-indexes; he must classify or be damned.
(H. L. Mencken, Prejudices: First Series , XVII. “George Jean Nathan”)
Thursday: February 3, 2011
I wish I’d had my camera with me a week or two ago. A local grocery store had this special offer:
BUY 1, GET 2
Friday: January 21, 2011
Please provide a ‘default’ or ‘override’ button on all copy machines. The machine is not smarter than the user, at least when I’m making copies. I’m sick and tired of using machines that won’t copy my stuff at normal size. Yes, I know the newspaper clipping on the platen only covers a small portion of the copy area for 8.5 x 11 originals. That doesn’t mean I want it done at 250% magnification, or 50% for that matter. Is is too much to ask to have it done without magnification or - what’s the opposite of that, parvification? If the machine had a ‘default’ button, it would speed things up enormously and avoid wasting paper on copies that are entirely the wrong size or cut off portions of the original. I also know that the workbook I’m copying a page of is slightly larger than 8.5 x 11. Just copy the part on the platen and don’t make me push four different buttons to tell the machine to do the copy at the default settings.
Thursday: January 20, 2011
Please don’t send me an e-mail telling me my order is “on the way” at 11:18pm if the book was already on my porch when I got home from work roughly seven hours earlier. You do this a lot. It does help me illustrate the meaning of ‘otiose’. On the other hand, it does provide an opportunity to use the word ‘otiose’.
Thursday: December 30, 2010
From the site of a bookseller whose name (and URL) I will kindly omit:
Cicero was a primate, and letters are no doubt symbols as well as collections of symbols, and Cicero’s letters are a “particularly highly-developed form of primate communication”, but I think the blurb is meant for the book pictured, not the bold-faced title.
I wonder which book you get if you click on the ‘buy’ link.
Saturday: October 2, 2010
Last week I drove down I-97 from Baltimore to Annapolis and found that part of it is named “Senator John A. Cade Memorial Highway” after a long-time state legislator. Having seen and enjoyed Henry VI, Part 2 at the Blackfriars Playhouse last spring, I wondered whether his friends called him ‘Jack’. Google suggests that they did (examples here and here [PDF]). Of course, Shakespeare’s Jack Cade was not a Republican, or not a Republican in the contemporary American sense, so the coincidence of names is not as appropriate as it might have been.
In all the discussion of the Stuxnet worm (here is one recent example) many have noted the bit of code ‘DEADF007′, though they can’t agree whether it means “Dead Fool” or “Dead F***in [Secret Agent] 007″ or something else to do with death or deadness or killers. No one I have read has noted that ‘Stux’ is an equally valid transliteration of the Greek name usually spelled ‘Styx’ in English, the Underworld river whose name means ‘Hate’ or ‘Hateful’ or something to do with hatred. That seems a very appropriate name for a destructive worm, and ‘-net’ is a plausible enough suffix, though not the most appropriate imaginable.
Sunday: July 4, 2010
Colby Cosh reports on efforts to rename British Columbia, and adds: “The good news, for those who dread the idea, is that the proposed alternatives so far are almost all unspeakably awful.” One of the names proposed in the linked article is particularly stupid. It’s bad enough having an American state and a Eurasian nation sharing the same name: we really don’t need a third ‘Georgia’ to add to the confusion. Of course, it doesn’t help having to say ‘Eurasian’ instead of ‘European’ or ‘Asian’ for the one whose capital is Tbilisi. The non-peachtree Georgia is on the south slopes of the Caucasus, so it is technically Asian, but seems ethnically and culturally more European: calling it ‘Asian Georgia’ would confuse most listeners. We used to be able to say ‘Soviet Georgia’, but that is no longer true, and ‘Post-Soviet Georgia’ is awkward. We definitely don’t need a third Georgia, even if ‘Canadian Georgia’ would be a clear and distinct way of referring to it.
Monday: June 28, 2010
Tim was so learned, that he could name a Horse in nine Languages; So ignorant, that he bought a Cow to ride on.
(Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1750)
Sunday: June 27, 2010
Proud Modern Learning despises the antient: School-men are now laught at by School-boys.
(Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1758)
Thursday: February 11, 2010
This is the best thing of its kind since the Sokol hoax.
Tuesday: February 9, 2010
Does a 125th birthday count as a significant anniversary? If so — also if not — today is Alban Berg’s 125th. In commemoration, I’m playing the only really tolerable pieces written by the New Vienna School, Berg’s Violin Concerto and Lyric Suite for String Quartet. Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg published a few other pieces that are not just tolerable but very pleasant, but they are arrangements of Strauss waltzes — the Old Vienna School reworked by the New — so they don’t really count.
So what would we call a 125th birthday? A hemi-demi-semi-millennium, of course.
By the way, ‘Alban’ seems an odd name for a German. I mostly know it from the name of the Alban Mount, southeast of Rome. It’s odd that ‘Berg’ is German for mount(ain), though the mountain is apparently not called the Albanberg in German. The ancient Roman name is singular, Albanus Mons, but German Wikipedia gives the plural ‘Albaner Berge’ as the preferred form, with ‘Albaner Hügel’ and ‘Albanergebirge’ as alternatives. I still wonder if Alban’s father was indulging in a pun: perhaps a native speaker can tell us.
Monday: February 1, 2010
Like all artists when they are not looking merely outrageous, Onuphrius was very particular about his appearance. It was not that he dressed fashionably, but he always tried to give his lamentable selection of clothes a certain romantic dash, and a sense of style that escaped the everyday. He took as his model a fine Van Dyck portrait he had in his studio, and in fact the resemblance was almost uncanny. It was as if the picture had stepped out of its frame, or as though a mirror had been stood in front of it.
(Theophile Gautier, “The Painter”, in My Fantoms, translated by Richard Holmes)
I do not know why Holmes prefers ‘Fantoms’ to ‘Phantoms’ in the title of the collection and in the text. I am glad he changed the title of the story, since the French title is one of the worst ever devised: “Onuphrius Wphly, ou les Vexations Fantastiques d’un admirateur d’Hoffmann”.
Sunday: January 31, 2010
Proposed motto for the city of Staunton, Virginia:
Staunton: The ‘U’ is Silent
A local convenience store has a sign out front:
Buy 1, Get 1
Tuesday: September 22, 2009
Terry Teachout titles a post “FAQ and A”. Is that a pun on “F***in’ A”, or do I just have a dirty (and pun-obsessed) mind?
Tuesday: August 18, 2009
Eugene Volokh quotes M. I. Finley’s warning about the unreliability of numbers in ancient authors:
Even the rare figure to which an ancient author treats us is suspect a priori …. [W]hen Thucydides (7.27.5) tells us that more than 20,000 slaves escaped from Attica in the final decade of the Peloponnesian War, just what do we in fact know? Did Thucydides have a network or agents stationed along the border between Attica and Boeotia for ten years counting the fugitives as they sneaked across? This is not a frivolous question, given the solemnity with which his statement is repeated in modern books and then used as the basis for calculations and conclusions.
In the comments, Stephen C. Carlson asks “Yikes, how does one know that the figures survived the manuscript transmission by manual copying intact?”. How, indeed? Here’s is just a bit of what H. W. Smyth’s Greek Grammar (revised edition, 1956) has to say about Greek numerical symbols:
Sorry if the top part is illegible: the book is too fat to scan comfortably, so the part from the left-hand page came out very pale and blurry. The problem should be clear, even if the text is not. By the way, I’d never noticed before, but this quotation is from pages 104 and 104A. The rest of the book is numbered normally from i to xviii and then from 1 to 784, but there are extra pages 4A, 4B, 104A, and 104B. (Not that I’ve checked every page, of course: there may be other interruptions to the numerical sequence.) Apparently the 1956 revisions involved inserting some extra pages without resetting the entire work.
Here is something on Roman numerical symbols, from Gildersleeve and Lodge’s Latin Grammar (3rd edition, 1895, p. 52):
It’s amazing that ancient politicians and businessmen could do their books at all.