30 outubro 2008

Color blind, Color savvy - Test your True Colors

I scored 87... at 7 pm, under the light of my desk lamp :|




The 100 hue test


24 outubro 2008

O Tecnocratês

Crónica do jornalista português João Gobern, emitida na Antena 1, no dia 6 de Outubro de 2008, à volta do chamado "tecnocratês" em circuito fechado, de muitas sílabas e ao ritmo do império linguístico anglo-americano.


Há algum tempo, a braços com uma tarefa profissional que aceitei de boa-fé e em que acabei a maldizer a minha sorte, recebi uma mensagem electrónica que começava assim: «Relativamente às nossas necessidades, houve efectivamente uma evolução no desenvolvimento de projecto, sendo que vamos reavaliar e colocar à sua ponderação.» Tentarão os menos avisados adivinhar em que altas cavalarias andaria eu metido para suscitar uma resposta de tal quilate. Lamento desiludir os que em mim depositaram tais expectativas.

Deixem-me que explique: na fase final desse trabalho, eu tinha apenas perguntado em concreto o que ainda esperavam de mim para concluir a colaboração, qual o prazo que estava destinado, alertando para a dificuldade de me deslocar para longínquas terras e estranhando que me estivessem, nesta etapa derradeira, a acrescentar responsabilidades não acordadas. Relembro a resposta, que é um mimo: «Relativamente às nossas necessidades, houve efectivamente uma evolução no desenvolvimento de projecto, sendo que vamos reavaliar e colocar à sua ponderação.» O que é que isto quer dizer? Basicamente nada. Mas, para mal dos nossos pecados, este mimo é um exemplo rigoroso da linguagem oca, tão corrente nos nossos dias.

Lembrei-me de um livro lapidar, em que o assunto também é abordado — chama-se Bonjour Paresse, foi escrito em tom provocador pela francesa Corinne Maier e, infelizmente, não tem tradução. Em tom de brincadeira, a autora aborda muito a sério o léxico que parece fazer escola nas empresas e repartições dominadas pelas teorias da Nova Empresa, bastante pior do que a velha, mas muito mais camuflada. Assim, constata que "inicializar" substituiu começar, da mesma forma que "finalizar" rendeu o obsoleto acabar. Que a empresa não se coloca — "posiciona-se". Que parece haver prémios para as palavras terminadas em ência: competência, experiência, eficiência, coerência, excelência. Corrijo: algumas palavras deste grupo, já que sobrevivência não faz parte dos termos utilizados. Que a empresa declina. Que a empresa soluciona. Que a empresa prioriza. Que a empresa agiliza. Que a empresa implementa. Que a empresa, evidentemente, internacionaliza-se quando o seu funcionário proclama, a plenos pulmões: «Estou a fazer o "follow-up" do projecto de "merging" e a "checkar" o "downsizing". Mas todos os "charts" constam do "reporting" enviado, do qual aguardo "feedback".»

Dá vontade rir? Claro, mas é um drama. Tratar bem a língua não implica estender as palavras por muitas sílabas, montar um discurso de circuito fechado, abrir as fronteiras ao império linguístico anglo-americano. Mas, sobretudo, não implica este vazio, de pompa e circunstância, no significado ou na falta dele. A epidemia alastra: no meu tempo, os alunos chumbavam. Hoje, são sujeitos a retenção. Mas não muito, que é preciso optimizar os índices do sucesso escolar, que têm pouco que ver com o saber alguma coisinha. Até no futebol, santo Deus, para admitir que fomos esmagados pelo adversário se ouve dizer que «devemos procurar realidades mais consentâneas com as nossas possibilidades».

É uma desgraça, tudo isto. (...)

21 outubro 2008

Meow Me Wants It Meow Meow





All things (cute are) Japanese ;)

Cute Overload, you've (out) done (yourself) it again

Quote of the Day

An American has no sense of privacy.
He does not know what it means.
There is no such thing in the country.

George Bernard Shaw

18 outubro 2008

14 outubro 2008

LEGO gives you Salt & Pepper


Tells us Yael Miller, from Reuben Miller,
where I found it
(check the Architecture roll on the left):

Using the modular functionality of Lego building blocks, designer Joel Hesselgren created a fun concept for a dual salt-pepper shaker. Shake salt, pepper or a combination of both - depending on the cap position.

Oh Dear... ;)

05 outubro 2008

Icelanders are Africans Too ;)

(...) a society that is culturally geared - as its overwhelming priority - to bring up happy, healthy children, by however many fathers and mothers. A lot of it comes from their Viking ancestors, whose males were rampant looters and rapists, but had the moral consistency at least not to be jealous of the dalliances of their wives - tough women who kept their families fed in the semi-tundra harshness of this north Atlantic island while their husbands forayed, for years at a time, far and wide. As a grandmother I met on my first visit to Iceland, two years ago, explained it: 'The Vikings went abroad and the women ran the show, and they had children with their slaves, and when the Vikings returned they accepted it, in the spirit of the more the merrier.'

(...) When a child's birthday comes around, not only do the various sets of parents turn up for the party, the various sets of grandparents - and whole longboats of uncles and aunts - come too. Iceland, lodged in the middle of the North Atlantic with Greenland as its nearest neighbour, was too far from the remit of any but the more zealously obstinate of the medieval Christian missionaries. It is a largely pagan country, as the natives like to see it, unburdened by the taboos that generate so much distress elsewhere. That means they are practical people.

(...) It is considered stupid here to wait till 38 to have a child. We think it's healthy to have lots of kids. All babies are welcome.'

All the more so because if you are in a job the state gives you nine months on fully paid child leave, to be split among the mother and the father as they so please. 'This means that employers know a man they hire is just as likely as a woman to take time off to look after a baby,' explained Svafa Grönfeldt, currently rector of Reykjavik University, previously a very high-powered executive. 'Paternity leave is the thing that made the difference for women's equality in this country.'

(...) When I was talking to Svafa about the better influences from the rest of the world that Iceland seemed to have wisely plucked, or just happened to have, we mentioned, as the prime minister had done, the humaneness of Scandinavia and the drive of the United States. We also discussed how the Icelanders - who have excellent restaurants these days and whose stamina for late night partying must come from the Viking DNA - seemed to have much of southern Europe's savoir vivre. Then I put it to her that there was an African quality to Iceland that the rest of Europe lacked. This was to be found in the 'patchwork' family structures Oddny had spoken of. The sense that, no matter whether the father lived in the same home or the mother was away working, the children belonged to, and were seen to belong by, the extended family, the village. Svafa liked that. 'Yes!' the pale-skinned power executive exclaimed, in delighted recognition. 'We are Africans, too!'

In No wonder Iceland has the happiest people on earth

POÉFRIKA


YOU, THEREFORE


For Robert Philen


You are like me, you will die too, but not today:
you, incommensurate, therefore the hours shine:
if I say to you “To you I say,” you have not been
set to music, or broadcast live on the ghost
radio, may never be an oil painting or
Old Master’s charcoal sketch: you are
a concordance of person, number, voice,
and place, strawberries spread through your name
as if it were budding shrubs, how you remind me
of some spring, the waters as cool and clear
(late rain clings to your leaves, shaken by light wind),
which is where you occur in grassy moonlight:
and you are a lily, an aster, white trillium
or viburnum, by all rights mine, white star
in the meadow sky, the snow still arriving
from its earthwards journeys, here where there is
no snow (I dreamed the snow was you,
when there was snow), you are my right,
have come to be my night (your body takes on
the dimensions of sleep, the shape of sleep
becomes you): and you fall from the sky
with several flowers, words spill from your mouth
in waves, your lips taste like the sea, salt-sweet (trees
and seas have flown away, I call it
loving you): home is nowhere, therefore you,
a kind of dwell and welcome, song after all,
and free of any eden we can name

03 outubro 2008

Missing Japan(ese)





'cos I've never been there :|, only set out to have Japanese lessons >)

Postcards from the Postcrossing swap

02 outubro 2008

Viggo continues disappearing into character

It's all Greek to me ;)

Spartan
As in, "Tarquin, I know the minimalist look is right up your street, but don't you think the room looks a little spartan with the actual floorboards removed?"

Simple, severe, lacking in comfort: that does in fact pretty much sum up what we know about the life of the Spartans. Despite its position as a Greek military superpower, the place had none of the kind of impressive architecture that would have overwhelmed the eye of a fifth-century visitor to Athens. Famously, Sparta also lacked walls or fortifications (it demonstrated that the inhabitants were such butch soldiers they didn't need nancy-boy walls to keep them safe). But being "Spartan" also meant adhering to a system of iron discipline, with boys taken out of their families for military training at the age of seven and, uniquely for ancient Greece, girls also given an education and athletic training - the better, presumably, to give birth to warrior sons. This was the background that produced the toughies who, vastly outnumbered, held off the Persians at Thermopylae, until all 300 were slaughtered. Dedication, bravery and suicidal bloodymindedness are thus also Spartan virtues.

Laconic
As in, "Darling, I know being a teenage boy is all about communicating in grunts, but if you could descend from your laconic monosyllables occasionally, I'd be terribly grateful."

Laconia was the region of the Peloponnese that Sparta controlled; "laconic" refers to another Spartan quality: a severe, economic, and sometimes dryly witty way with words.

Aegis
As in, "Don't worry, Henry, the animal care comes under the aegis of the National Donkey Protection League, which I am sure has impeccable standards."

Frankly, the aegis - a symbol of divine power - has always struck me as one of the weirdest things about the Greek gods. I can do no better than quote the Oxford Classical Dictionary, which describes it as an "all-round bib with scales, fringed with snakes' heads and normally decorated with the gorgoneion". (Gorgoneion being classicist-speak for the head of the Gorgon Medusa.) The aegis, the entry helpfully adds, may sometimes be tasselled. I have also heard it described as looking like a sporran.

Thespian
As in, "Brenda has marvellous talents as a thespian, you know. You should see her Lady Bracknell."

Thespis was the man who, according to Aristotle, "invented" Greek drama, adding a prologue and speech to what had previously been a choral performance.

Herculean
As in, "Cleaning the bathroom and kitchen floors, Muriel, seems to me to be a labour of Herculean proportions."

Hercules is the Romanised name of Heracles, the greatest of all heroes, and one of the few mortals to attain the status of a god. The labours, set him by Eurystheus, king of Argos, were 12 in number. Heracles had something of a problem with madness and mass murder: the labours were done to expiate the killing of his wife Megara and their children, which he committed in a bout of insanity visited on him by the goddess Hera. Another story has him killing the father and brothers of his girlfriend Iole. To purify himself, he worked for the queen of Lydia, Omphale, for three years. The twist was that he had to do this as a woman - spinning and weaving, in drag, a scene vividly depicted on a Roman well-head in the Townley Collection of Roman antiquities in the basement of the British Museum.

Tantalising
As in, "I've just caught a tantalising glimpse of Frank's homemade apricot ice cream and I can't wait to taste it."

From Tantalus, one of the very first generations of mortals. Invited by the gods to dine on Mount Olympus, he decided to kill, cook and serve up his son Pelops to see whether his hosts would detect the forbidden food (as you do). Demeter, distracted by her grief for her daughter Persephone, was the only immortal who tucked in, polishing off a shoulder. The gods reconstructed Pelops and brought him back to life, with a prosthetic shoulder made from ivory. Tantalus's eternal punishment in the Underworld was to stand in a pool that drained away when he tried to drink from it and beneath branches groaning with fruit that drew away when he reached for them. A tantalus is also a lockable stand for a set of decanters. You can see the booze, but you can't get at it without the key ...

Colossal
As in, "I'm heading for a colossal overdraft. Drinks on you, I'm afraid."

From the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the seven ancient wonders of the world. In 305 BC, Rhodes was attacked by the Macedonian Demetrius Poliorcetes and successfully saw off a year-long siege. Demetrius abandoned his siege equipment on the island, and the grateful Rhodians used the proceeds from the sale of all that to erect a 33m statue to their patron, Helios, the sun god. However, it stood for only 56 years; an earthquake in about 226 BC undermined the statue at the knee. Even in ruins it still excited visitors, such as the Roman writer Pliny, who noted that its thumb was too big for most men to be able to clasp in their arms, and that its very fingers were bigger than most ordinary statues. The Statue of Liberty is inspired by the Colossus of Rhodes.

Draconian
As in, "Miss, don't you think punishing smoking with a public flogging is a bit draconian?"

Draco, by tradition, set down the first Athenian law code in 621 or 620 BC, the first time the city's laws had been put in writing and displayed in public. Evidence is thin as to what these laws comprised: but according to tradition, it was the death penalty for pretty much everything. One Athenian in the fourth century quipped that Draco wrote his laws in blood rather than ink. "Draconian" is always a negative word in English, but you could argue that setting forth a state's laws in public for the first time was, in its way, a reforming measure ... though Draco's code was itself reformed soon enough, in 594/3 BC by Solon, who repealed everything except the law on homicide.

The boy's name Draco, for understandable reasons, has failed to take off: though it was famously pulled into service by JK Rowling for one of her most memorable baddies, the sinister Draco Malfoy. This is not surprising, given that JK studied classics and French at Exeter University and is rumoured to have based Dumbledore on the splendidly bearded Peter Wiseman, Exeter's classics professor emeritus.

Ostracise
As in, "I should think you'll be completely ostracised from the golf club, Derek, if you go anywhere near it in those trousers."

Ostracism was a method by which, through the Athenian democratic reforms introduced by Cleisthenes in 508 or 507 BC, a citizen could be exiled for 10 years after a majority vote in the assembly. The name of the chosen man was written on a shard of pottery, an ostrakon. Nearly 200 ostraka have been found in an Athenian well, with the name Themistocles written on them in a very few hands. Presumably he was at the receiving end of a carefully orchestrated campaign.

Odeon
As in "What's on at the Odeon? I quite fancy catching 300 again there. Nothing I like better than a pumped-up Spartan wearing leather knickers."

The notable cinema chain is named, ultimately, for one of the great buildings on the slopes of the Acropolis, the odeion, or music hall (and in fact, there were odeia in other Greek cities, too). The Athenian odeion was a square hall with pillars supposedly made from the masts of Persian ships taken at the battle of Salamis in the Persian wars. Men and boys' choral competitions, part of the festival called the City Dionysia, were held there, as well as previews of the main tragic plays. Popcorn was not served.

Hoi polloi
As in, "Ivy says she can't bear to go shopping on a Saturday. The town centre is just too full of hoi polloi, apparently."

Hoi polloi is Greek for "the many", meaning the ordinary people. Used with more than a soupçon of snobbery in English. To say "the hoi polloi", incidentally, is strictly speaking a gaffe, since it means "the the many" as hoi is the definite article.

Platonic
As in, "Susie's relationship with David is purely platonic, you realise."

The sort of admiring, passionate but asexual regard for young men that Socrates engaged in. Alcibiades slept one night under a cloak with Socrates, according to Plato - but, he said, it was just like sleeping with a brother or a father. Socrates just wasn't interested in going all the way. You could see this as a metaphor for his pursuit of knowledge: it's about the quest, not the consummation.

Cynical
As in, "I'm fed up with you lot being cynical grouches. Let's bring in a bit of joy, people!"

A philosophical school, or, more accurately, way of life, practised from the fourth century BC. Diogenes, who supposedly lived in a barrel, was the most famous Cynic - the word probably derives from the Greek for dog, so cynicism means "doggishness". It seems that adherents tried to live in accordance with nature, seeing animals as exemplars of anxiety-free living, and eschewing ambition, power, material possessions, even education. Diogenes once famously masturbated in the street. Our word "cynical" thus takes a bit of leap from its ancient origins.

Stoical
As in, "Martha has been tremendously stoical since her house burned down and she lost her job."

Stoicism, founded in the fourth century BC by Zeno of Citium, was an extremely significant philosophical school. Empiricism and materialism were key features; in the realm of ethics, freeing oneself from emotion and living in accordance with human nature (which for Stoics was indivisible from human reason), was of great importance. Virtue, argued Stoics, was sufficient for happiness.

Sceptical
As in, "The government claims it's going to have London ready for the 2012 Olympics, but frankly, I'm sceptical."

"Sceptic" was a label introduced in the first century BC to describe the position of philosophers who held no doctrine and suspended judgment on, well, everything. Particularly lively debates ensued with the materialist Stoics

01 outubro 2008

Wishlist: Searching for Debra Winger



I watched it years ago in the States, and today, of all days, I feel like watching it again.

October 1

October 1 is the 274th day of the year (275th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 91 days remaining until the end of the year.


Events

Births

Holidays and observances

External links



Ok, long live Wikipedia,
how else could I post this
in a flash
at this late hour,
just for the sake of it? ;)