Archive for May, 2009

I should have known that Green …

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

… meant growing. Perhaps it’s time to go back to plastic?

Memorial Day

Monday, May 25th, 2009

It’s the day to remember those whose lives were lost while serving our country. I don’t really have anything new to say, so I’ll just link to an earlier post on the topic.

Update: Worth looking at.

That went well

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

I had my daughter, a friend of hers, and Marion over for dinner this evening. I spent the day hickory-smoking a buffalo brisket, occasionally basting it with beer, then fired up more coals to grill some mixed vegetables and cook some mushrooms (butter, wine, garlic, and rosemary in a cast-iron skillet). Marion brought salad, Cheryl brought dessert (chocolate mousse cake). Add some corn on the cob and drinks, and it was a very nice meal.

We ate the main course out on the deck, which was quite pleasant. Had to go inside before dessert, though, because it started raining. Big thunder from time to time, too.

That’ll probably be the big production for the weekend. Marion and I may find the opportunity for a bicycle ride tomorrow or Monday, depending on the weather.

‘Nola’ as you’ve likely never heard it.

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

I have a fairly nice rendition of ‘Nola’ performed by Bill Keith on banjo, but I’d never heard this version, either, until I ran across it today. Unfortunately, Sid Laverents died recently, but he seems to have been a very interesting individual. Dedicated, too … this video took him about four years to produce. Links to more information about him (and about this film) are at Twenty-Sided.

“Fast-twitch” games are not my forté

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Back when I still owned a Dreamcast, I remember an occasion when a twelve-year-old boy beat me at Soul Caliber. He said it was the first time he’d played the game. I’m not sure I believe him.

It seems that someone else is willing to own up to not being good at that type of game. The cartoon is dead on as to the effect pushing buttons has for me, and I find that I quite agree with the philosophy expressed in the last paragraph.

I would whisper to my chickens

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

“With these experiments, I will take your children’s children’s children, and give them great ripping claws like scythes, and razor-sharp serrate fangs like daggers, and I will turn them into multi-story towers of muscle and bone that will be able to trample KFC restaurants as if they were matchboxes.”

Carrying coal to Newcastle

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Or, having a firefighting college burn down.

Via Don Surber.

Because freedom and liberty are so passé

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Kim Hastreiter of the magazine PAPER asked 15 visual communicators (didn’t they used to be called graphic designers?) to come up with an advertisement rebranding the United States. I’m not at all pleased with most of them. A rebranding campaign normally promotes a new image for an existing “product.” Most of these are more along the lines of “NEW! DIFFERENT! Not what we used to be!”

These two images seem most egregious in their anti-US sentiment:


No more US

“Sorry” fits right in line with what Obama has been offering to the world. “No more US & them” doesn’t really work for two reasons: first, Obama’s overtures haven’t been reciprocated. NATO, Russia, and others have heard him out and said, effectively, “Yeah, whatever.” It takes two to make a relationship, but only one to break it. Second, having the only color in the image be the flag background of “US” makes a blatant stopping point at “”No more US.”

George Lois believes that The One is the cure for what ails America:

Nasty to Inspirational

Alex Bogusky’s entry can at least be considered ambiguously – the concept of Che being inspired by Obama is positive if you’re inspired by Che, and negative if you’re not:

T-shirt: Obama / Che

The one I find most positive is this one, from Dan Weiden of Weiden + Kennedy:


Found at Adfreak.

You say tomato, and I say …

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Well, actually, I say “to-may-to,” also. A very funny skit I once saw (I believe it was in the film, The Secret Policeman’s Ball, but it’s been a number of years since I’ve seen that) involved an audition in which someone was asked to sight-read that song.

In any case, a couple of days ago, I was thinking about the pronunciation of the word “garage.” I’m used to hearing and using gah-RAHJ, but my mother (who came from England) used GA-ridge, so it doesn’t throw me to hear it pronounced that way. This came as a tangent line of thought from reading stories set in England, some written by English authors, and some written by American authors trying to make the character dialogue sound authentic.

It also led into a bit of serendipitous synchronicity when I next visited The Anchoress, a website I read fairly often, but not really regularly. She has a post about the usage of the alternate pronunciations of the word “the” (“thee” and “thuh”) that pretty much matches with the way I was taught.

That was good enough, but then Neo-Neocon weighed in with a post that went on to discuss the Great Vowel Shift … and I love the t-shirt! It reminded me of a science-fiction short story I read (Lo! these many moons ago) about linguistic researchers who used a time machine to investigate the GVS and discovered that it had been externally-imposed, so that their vowels had been further shifted when they returned to their home time.

Little Miss Attila follows up with a post talking about language changes as a process abetted by the internet, and includes a description of a discussion with a friend of hers who is a linguist, and who frustrates her by saying we can tell how things used to be pronounced by the way they’re spelled. She thinks it would be better to have people use a time machine to get recordings of the language as it was spoken at the time (see last sentence of previous paragraph).

Actually, it is true to a fairly large extent that spelling informs us of historical pronunciation – in English, at least. My senior year at the Naval Academy, I took a one-semester course in Linguistics, and I still remember bits and pieces of it. I also still have the textbooks and some of the handouts. The reason we can “track back” pronunciation of English is the same reason that English has so many difficult spellings – the language was in a state of flux when the printing press became available (see the section “Caxton and the English language”). French and most other European languages had “settled down” (in terms of phonemic orthography) by the time the printing press “fixed” them in a lasting form, but English had not, so a lot of our spellings reflect earlier and/or variant pronunciations (“silly English k’nigg’t”).

If Caxton had chosen differently, we’d likely even use different words for things, since he had to choose among many dialects of English. One example I recall from my course was an anecdote from the time in which a traveler had difficulty ordering eggs for breakfast, because the innkeeper didn’t understand the word “eyren” – presumably a plural formed in the same manner as “oxen.”

Many people have decried English spelling over the years, including Andrew Carnegie and Mark Twain (who felt the alphabet itself needed to be replaced). I had hoped to finish off with a link to one of the essays I’ve seen published over the years that gradually incorporates spelling reforms until the last paragraph is almost unrecognizable, but I couldn’t find any. Instead, I’ll leave you with a link to The Chaos, a poem that illustrates just how irregular the match is between English spelling and pronunciation.

Long, but worth it

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Over at The Smallest Minority, Kevin has posted another of his überposts. This one is on the subject of culture – specifically, the differences in culture between the US and the UK as it relates to the concepts of acceptable self-defense, gun control, and crime. I won’t excerpt any of it here, but it’s definitely worth reading – he has numbers and quotes from pertinent studies to support his position.