“Motivated by greed and bad ideas, the morally bankrupt use networks to advance schemes ranging from the criminal to the lunatic.” — From Great Ideas to Our Greatest Opportunity. Also true if you substitute anything else for ‘networks:’ electricity; the steam engine; bronze; fire; apples.
“Misleading appeals to the authority of “brain research” have become the modern equivalent of out-of-context scriptural fragments. Andrew Sullivan wouldn’t accept a politician’s bible quotations uncritically, and he should learn to be just as skeptical of psychologists.” — Blinding us with science
Does The Times think “any bad news [about Iraq] must be true, even if it directly contradicts other alleged bad news?” — Vast Resources And Layers Of Editing
Lewis Carroll’s advice on writing letters could be usefully applied to communication in general. It is also an interesting look at how a Victorian scholar ‘maintained a large and active correspondence.’
Wordie lets you make lists of words, subscribe to others’ lists, and discuss word lists. I particularly liked the list of fish that are fun to say:
Moray, lamprey, barracuda, hake;
Hagfish, conger, walleye, chum;
Sea bream, grouper, albacore, kipper;
Three-spine stickleback, freshwater drum.
I have seen a lot of posts on Slashdot condemning shrink-wrap licenses, in some variation of “Shrink-wrap licenses are another BS way for The Man to rip off The People! Who’s with me? Let’s go! Yaaaah!”. I had not heard Doc Rampage’s objections before. By clicking this link, you agree to download Doc’s blog post on shrink-wrap licenses.
A Finnish folksong, Ievan Polkka, has become popular. Here are the lyrics in Finnish and English; page down to get to them. There is a live version, and a bunch of versions with some girl twirling a leek. (It’s a joke; see, she has a leek, and she is twirling it, get it? No, me neither.)
Eva’s Polka is in Finnish, with a chorus in gibberish. If you listen carefully you can tell where the Finnish ends and the gibberish begins. One of the musicians, Timo Väänänen, played the kantele in the movie The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Some free foreign language courses(h/t) are available as downloadable mp3s and pdf files. They are probably somewhat useful, but they are old – The German course is from 1961. The Cantonese tape was interesting to listen to.
Cursing and swearing
I finally saw The Big Lebowski. For some reason, it put me in mind of a scene in “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou.” George Clooney tries to buy some pomade, and says to the storekeeper, “I don’t want Fop, God damn it! I’m a Dapper Dan man!” I had always thought expressions like that that were simple expletives, but in fact this is a curse: He is specifically damning the contemptible pomade “Fop”.
If Clooney’s partner had spoken up to reinforce the point he might have said, “Hell, he’s a Dapper Dan man! He don’t want Fop!” That would have been, or been derived from, an oath. He would be swearing by Hell that his friend used only Dapper Dan.
Related to these are minced oaths like “zounds” and “yumping yiminy.” Remember, they could not say it in Wikipedia if it were not true. And I bet Britannica does not have a list of fictional expletives.
Joe Carter at the Evangelical Outpost summarizes my feelings in Us, Them, and the Rest:Reflections on the Danish Cartoon Conflict.
Doc Rampage pointed me to a good political analysis of the Muslim response. Regarding the spontaneous outrage of the Arab street, Doc points out that someone has to get all those Danish flags.
Wikipedia manages to maintain a thorough and balanced article under difficult circumstances: Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy. It seems that in Danish, “to find an orange in one’s turban” is to experience a stroke of good luck.
in qua domicilium hababet exile
…fore ut prima luce puellulae puellique omnes Laetopolitai
exciturentur, nec ulla mora ad ludicra crepundiaque accipienda festinarent.
Tum–di immortales!–qui sonitus! Qui strepitus! Qui crepitus!
Quales stridores fragoresque! Turbam tam tumultupsam et clamosam
invidiosulus noster ante omnia odit, spernit, aspernatur.
Absint STREPITUS, CREPITUS, STRIDOR, FRAGORQUE!
Ex Quomodo Invidiosulus Nomine Grinchus Christi Natalem Abrogaverit.