26 dezembro 2003

The Rings

Dangerous topicality in The Lord of the Rings: a vindication and veneration of empire, so says a bunch of philosophers in the openDemocracy website.
Again, baddies and racial issues by The Guardian. To top it all, is Howard Shore's music Wagnerian, and therefore everything imperialistic? From the New Yorker

Web Site Picks Year's Most Deeply Embedded Word
(and a touch of Spain ;-)
A U.S. Web site specializing in language named what it called the top word, phrase and name of the year on Thursday, picking them all from the war in Iraq.

Embedded, as in the reporters assigned to accompany military units during the war, beat out «blog» and «SARS» as the top word of 2003, Web site yourDictionary.com said.

«Embedded was the best word to distill the events of an extraordinary year into eight simple letters,» declared Paul JJ Payack, president of YourDictionary.com.

Previous top words include 2000's «chad» (from the hanging squares of paper on Florida presidential ballots), 2001's «Ground Zero» (the site where the World Trade Center collapsed) and 2002's «misunderestimate» (a presidential slip of the tongue that became frequent comedy fodder).

«Shock-and-awe,» the phrase the U.S. military used to describe the type of campaign it would wage in Iraq, topped other Iraq-related terms like «rush to war,» «weapons of mass destruction» and «spider-hole» as the top phrase of 2003.

The name most on people's lips during the year was Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi leader recently captured in a hole in the ground.

He beat out «Ahh-nold» (as in newly-elected California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger) and «W.» (as in President Bush).

The site's lists, created by taking nominations from users around the world and then having them judged by «professional wordsmiths,» take some liberties with Bush.

One of 2003's leading words is «Bushisms,» to describe the president's oft-satirized verbal style. The site published a list of the president's top-five mispronunciations, including «new-cue-ler» (for nuclear) and «Anzar» (for Spanish Prime Minister José Maria Aznar).

As for 2004, Payack said there was already an early contender. «Mad cow» was on the list a few years ago, because of what was happening in the U.K. «Mad cow» could be big next year.»

24 dezembro 2003

Lisboa em Fevereiro próximo:

Desde tempos ancestrais que o taiko tem sido um símbolo de comunidade – servindo de elo entre os povos e os céus. Nesta digressão vamos continuar a trazer o som do taiko aos ouvidos do mundo – com a capacidade ímpar de transcender as barreiras de línguas e hábitos – não nos deixando esquecer que somos membros duma comunidade mais vasta: o mundo.
Na tournée «Uma Digressão pelo Mundo» já deram mais de 2.200 espectáculos.

Soundbites from America (translated, I know, but not by me):
«Os 14 músicos criaram ondas de som que pareciam transformar o próprio Carnegie Hall numa cavidade de ressonância coberta com pele de animal».
New York Times

«Não há dúvida que se a perfeição em música existe, o Kodo é o que mais se aproxima dessa perfeição».
Boston Globe

Quinta da Regaleira

22 dezembro 2003

Here's a book I'd love to read, and maybe i'll be able to attempt it in Galego! :-)

O escritor galego Bernardino Graña venceu a segunda edição do Prémio Eixo-Atlântico/"La Voz de Galicia"/PÚBLICO de Narrativa Galega e Portuguesa, no valor de 18 mil euros, com o romance "Protoevanxeo do Neto de Herodes", uma obra que, segundo a declaração do júri, anunciada ontem, "propõe uma leitura inesperada de acontecimentos narrados na Bíblia", designadamente os que respeitam ao nascimento de Cristo.

19 dezembro 2003

Simon Blackburn in defence of Lust (despite of the Bush administration and the Holy See) ;-P

In many lists of the Seven Deadly Sins, lust is replaced by luxuria or luxury. This is not an innocent mistake, but reflects the urge to inject something morally obnoxious into the definition. If we associate lust with excess and surfeit, then its case is already lost. But it is a cheap victory: excessive desire is bad because it is excessive, not because it is desire.

Coffee, a bibliography

Mind da caption - Starbucks (boo) and Peet's (hooray) - Why didn't we go to Peet's in Saratoga? Darn!

American crave for coffee after the Boston Tea Party :-)
No more shall my teapot so generous be
In filling the cups with this pernicious tea
For I’ll fill it with water and drink out the same
Before I’ll lose LIBERTY that dearest name.

18 dezembro 2003

Out of curiosity, this is from the OED but notice the oh-so-American idea of churning verbs/nouns/adjectives (strikeout at will) outta each and every word, in round-tabler, for one. Jeezzz...

Round Table, n.
Also round table, Table Round.
1. a. The table, celebrated in mediæval legend, round which Arthur and his chosen knights were supposed to have sat, and which was made round so that there might be no pre-eminence or rivalry.
The earliest mention of the table is that in Wace's Roman de Brut (1155). From at least the 15th century (see quot. 1485) the name has been given to a large circular table preserved at Winchester, bearing the names of Arthur and his most famous knights.
b. In Knight (etc.) of the Round Table.
c. The body of knights of this order.
d. A meeting or assembly of Arthur's knights and nobles. Obs.
e. attrib., as Round Table cycle, hero, knight, legend, etc.
2. An imitation of Arthur's Round Table as an institution; an assembly of knights for the purpose of holding a tournament and festival, esp. that instituted by King Edward III in 1345.
The statements in Dugdale, Warton, etc., in regard to the tournament held by Mortimer at Kenilworth in 1279 are based on misunderstandings of the older authorities (see Wykes in Ann. Monast. (Rolls) IV. 281-2 and Rishanger Chron. 94).
b. (See quot.) Obs.
The quotation is a direct translation from Walsingham Historia Brevis (1574) 154.
3. A name applied locally to various natural or artificial antiquities, freq. reputed to have associations with King Arthur.
4. (Freq. with lower-case initials.) Used generally (alone or as attrib. phrase) to denote a number of persons seated round a circular table, or imagined as forming a gathering of this kind; spec. an assembly of people for a conference or discussions at which all participants are accorded equal status (in this sense freq. attrib.). Also transf., a collection of opinions or remarks on a particular subject.
5. A formal association whose members meet regularly for discussion, spec. an organization (or a branch of it) founded in 1927, in which professional people between the ages of 18 and 40 hold discussions, debates, and similar activities, and undertake community service and the promotion of international understanding. Also allusively as adj., designating the qualities or characteristics associated with the Round Table or its members.
Hence round-table v., to take part in a round-table conference; round-tabler.
The use in quot. 1923 is with allusion to the periodical The Round Table (see quot. 1910 under sense 4 above).

16 dezembro 2003

And now for something completely different (or is it?):
(from Dictionary.com)

Original; prototypical: ur-feminist; ur-language.

[From German ur-, original. See Ursprache:

A language that is the recorded or hypothetical ancestor of another language or group of languages. Also called Ursprache.

This website and project, called Urville is the creation of a young man suffering from the Syndrome of Asperger, passionate about urban landscaping. He claims he called it Urville due to an historical figure and thus it has nothing to do with the idea of an Ur-city, a prototypical, archetypal, city - this was my idea, and yes, I'm showing off, but the credit should go to him. Kudos!
The Arts & Weekend section of the Financial Times contains an article about the IQ testing as practiced by Mensa, inasmuch as it seems to be dumbing down. Just in case, here's Mensa Workout for one's brain. Haven't tried yet - spookeyyyy :-)

14 dezembro 2003

PowerPoint Makes You Dumb

The New York Times confirms what we've suspected all along: PowerPoint makes you dumb. In a new essay, information theorist Edward Tufte outlines why PowerPoint 'forces people to mutilate data beyond comprehension.' The Columbia Accident Investigation Board at NASA agrees, noting that the slides produced by engineers to report on the wing damage were so confusing that 'a senior manager might read this PowerPoint slide and not realize that it addresses a life-threatening situation.'

This really made my sunday. What can I say, I'm an easy man to content...

12 dezembro 2003

In Defense of Vegetal Memory (Culture) - Umberto Eco

Em Portugal temos actualmente o escândalo das farmacêuticas e o aliciamento dos médicos, na pessoa dos delegados de propaganda médica (para mim, o facto de se chamar «propaganda» nunca augurou nada de bom.
In the United Kingdom, and according to The Observer, it gets more sophisticated: they hire a figure called ghostwriter (already present in famous people's so-called autobiographies) to pen serious articles later signed by prestigious medical staff.

A pinch of history of Astrology with a smidgeon of Astronomy? :-D So Ptolemy, Kepler and such were soothsayers on the side.

Again from The New Yorker (therefore reliable ?), written by some Steve Martin (no idea as to whether...), here's an interview to the author of this masterpiece :-)

First book ever written from a German perspective about the famous truce held over Christmas 1914, during WWI, to play soccer :-)
Bless The Guardian for letting me show off to a very brilliant and interested person in these matters.

Not that we didn't thought about it: The New Yorker posts a lengthy article about Finnegans Wake being co-written by Joyce's daughter (dunno whether there's an explanation pertaining to age).

11 dezembro 2003

New Woody Allen movie, here's a website in Spanish :-D Todo lo Demás

The Way of the Samurai in an extensive article on National Geographic Magazine. The Portuguese one translated it :-), howzabout the Spanish one? Interesting info, the more so coz it mentions the upcoming Cruiser vehicle merely once. Man I'm good! Ok, when I'm bad I'm better: meet Mr. Grin

08 dezembro 2003

A map of Springfield in case you were curious

05 dezembro 2003

How many forum members does it takes to change a light bulb?

1 to change the light bulb and to post that the light bulb has been changed
14 to share similar experiences of changing light bulbs and how the light bulb could have been changed differently
7 to caution about the dangers of changing light bulbs
1 to move it to the Lighting section
2 to argue then move it to the Electricals section
7 to point out spelling/grammar errors in posts about changing light bulbs
5 to flame the spell checkers
3 to correct spelling/grammar flames
6 to argue over whether it's "lightbulb" or "light bulb" ... another 6 to condemn those 6 as stupid
2 industry professionals to inform the group that the proper term is "lamp"
15 know-it-alls who claim they were in the industry, and that "light bulb" is perfectly correct
19 to post that this forum is not about light bulbs and to please take this discussion to a lightbulb forum
11 to defend the posting to this forum saying that we all use light bulbs and therefore the posts are relevant to this forum
36 to debate which method of changing light bulbs is superior, where to buy the best light bulbs, what brand of light bulbs work best for this technique and what brands are faulty
7 to post URL's where one can see examples of different light bulbs
4 to post that the URL's were posted incorrectly and then post the corrected URL's
3 to post about links they found from the URL's that are relevant to this group which makes light bulbs relevant to this group
13 to link all posts to date, quote them in their entirety including all headers and signatures, and add "Me too"
5 to post to the group that they will no longer post because they cannot handle the light bulb controversy
4 to say "didn't we go through this already a short time ago?"
13 to say "do a Google search on light bulbs before posting questions about light bulbs"
1 forum lurker to respond to the original post 6 months from now and start it all over again.

04 dezembro 2003

Bloody Hell! Being fully aware of the contrast between these two posts, and by no means meaning to spoil people's mornings :-), here's a piece of news about Hitler's Second Book. Yep, the f***** did think he had it in him to write and sweep us off our feet (come to think of it, the f***** did that with his voice (alone) - Saruman, anyone?)
I'm afraid I just had to steal this from Janela Indiscreta. It really made my morning

Scene: A large posh office. Two clients, well-dressed city gents, sit facing a large table at which stands Mr. Tid, the account manager of the architectural firm. (original cast: Mr Tid, Graham Chapman; Mr Wiggin, John Cleese; City Gent One, Michael Palin; Client 2:, Terry Jones; Mr Wymer, Eric Idle)
Mr. Tid: Well, gentlemen, we have two architectural designs for this new residential block of yours and I thought it best if the architects themselves explained the particular advantages of their designs.
There is a knock at the door.
Mr. Tid: Ah! That's probably the first architect now. Come in.
Mr. Wiggin enters.
Mr. Wiggin: Good morning, gentlemen.
Clients: Good morning.
Mr. Wiggin: This is a 12-story block combining classical neo-Georgian features with the efficiency of modern techniques. The tenants arrive here and are carried along the corridor on a conveyor belt in extreme comfort, past murals depicting Mediterranean scenes, towards the rotating knives. The last twenty feet of the corridor are heavily soundproofed. The blood pours down these chutes and the mangled flesh slurps into these...
Client 1: Excuse me.
Mr. Wiggin: Yes?
Client 1: Did you say 'knives'?
Mr. Wiggin: Rotating knives, yes.
Client 2: Do I take it that you are proposing to slaughter our tenants?
Mr. Wiggin: ...Does that not fit in with your plans?
Client 1: Not really. We asked for a simple block of flats.
Mr. Wiggin: Oh. I hadn't fully divined your attitude towards the tenants. You see I mainly design slaughter houses.
Clients: Ah.
Mr. Wiggin: Pity.
Clients: Yes.
Mr. Wiggin: (indicating points of the model) Mind you, this is a real beaut. None of your blood caked on the walls and flesh flying out of the windows incommoding the passers-by with this one. (confidentially) My life has been leading up to this.
Client 2: Yes, and well done, but we wanted an apartment block.
Mr. Wiggin: May I ask you to reconsider.
Clients: Well...
Mr. Wiggin: You wouldn't regret this. Think of the tourist trade.
Client 1: I'm sorry. We want a block of flats, not an abattoir.
Mr. Wiggin: ...I see. Well, of course, this is just the sort of blinkered philistine pig-ignorance I've come to expect from you non-creative garbage. You sit there on your loathsome spotty behinds squeezing blackheads, not caring a tinker's cuss for the struggling artist. You excrement, you whining hypocritical toadies with your colour TV sets and your Tony Jacklin golf clubs and your bleeding masonic secret handshakes. You wouldn't let me join, would you, you blackballing bastards. Well I wouldn't become a Freemason now if you went down on your lousy stinking knees and begged me.
Client 2: We're sorry you feel that way, but we did want a block of flats, nice though the abattoir is.
Mr. Wiggin: Oh sod the abattoir, that's not important. (He dashes forward and kneels in front of them.) But if any of you could put in a word for me I'd love to be a mason. Masonry opens doors. I'd be very quiet, I was a bit on edge just now but if I were a mason I'd sit at the back and not get in anyone's way.
Client 1: (politely) Thank you.
Mr. Wiggin: ...I've got a second-hand apron.
Client 2: Thank you. (Mr. Wiggin hurries to the door but stops...)
Mr. Wiggin: I nearly got in at Hendon.
Client 1: Thank you.
Mr. Wiggin exits. Mr Tid rises.
Mr. Tid: I'm sorry about that. Now the second architect is Mr. Wymer of Wymer and Dibble. (Mr. Wymer enters, carrying his model with great care. He places it on the table.)
Mr. Wymer: Good morning gentlemen. This is a scale model of the block, 28 stories high, with 280 apartments. It has three main lifts and two service lifts. Access would be from Dibbingley Road. (The model falls over. Mr Wymer quickly places it upright again.) The structure is built on a central pillar system with... (The model falls over again. Mr Wymer tries to make it stand up, but it won't, so he has to hold it upright.) ...with cantilevered floors in pre-stressed steel and concrete. The dividing walls on each floor section are fixed by recessed magnalium-flanged grooves. (The bottom ten floors of the model give way and it partly collapses.) By avoiding wood and timber derivatives and all other inflammables we have almost totally removed the risk of.... (The model is smoking. The odd flame can be seen. Wymer looks at the city gents.) Frankly, I think the central pillar may need strengthening.
Client 2: Is that going to put the cost up?
Mr. Wymer: I'm afraid so.
Client 2: I don't know we need to worry too much about strengthening that. After all, these are not meant to be luxury flats.
Client 1: Absolutely. If we make sure the tenants are of light build and relatively sedentary and if the weather's on our side, I think we have a winner here.
Mr. Wymer: Thank you. (The model explodes.)
Client 2: I quite agree.
Mr. Wymer: Well, thank you both very much. (They all shake hands, giving the secret Mason's handshake.) Cut to Mr. Wiggin watching at the window.
Mr. Wiggin: (turning to camera) It opens doors, I'm telling you.

02 dezembro 2003

Paul Auster on the NYTimes
Plain-English translations

From the same website:

High-quality learning environments are a necessary precondition for facilitation and enhancement of the ongoing learning process.

Children need good schools if they are to learn properly.
The Foot in Mouth award

The 2003 winner is United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for comments in a press briefing.

'Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don't know we don't know.'

Previous winners:

1998: Cardiff MP Rhodri Morgan. In an interview with BBC Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman he was asked if he would like to be the labour leader of the new Welsh Assembly. Rhodri replied 'Does a one-legged duck swim in circles?'. After a long puzzled pause Jeremy asked Rhodri if that was Welsh for yes!

Peter Jackson hints at the The Hobbit
New Line Cinema is currently in talks to purchase the rights to the film adaptation of The Hobbit. There are apparently some difficulties with getting the go ahead from Tolkien's son Christopher, who is executor of the estate. When asked if New Line has approached him about the project, Jackson said he has not ruled it out, but not until after King Kong is done.