Saturday, March 28, 2009

OK, this probably won't mean anything to my American friends, and my British ones are likely to have already heard of it. I simply couldn't let such an outstanding cultural advance go unremarked. At last, the doner kebab pot noodle. Truly these are the end times.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I've liked Werner Herzog's films since I saw Aguirre, Wrath of God in the early 1980s. In many ways, I think he's done better work in documentaries of recent years than in his feature films. One in particular I like is Wings of Hope, about a woman who survived falling several thousand feet from a crashing plane into the Amazon jungle. The mock-mockumentary Incident At Loch Ness is also fun.

A metafilter posting this week pointed me towards what claims to be a blog by Herzog written between April and December 2007. I have no way of knowing whether it is really anything to do with him, though I can imagine every entry read in his voice. Two of the last postings, about mice spitting at god and about how to react to tiny people, are examples of what appeals to me about it. Oh, and this one, about not tipping a waiter who says he enjoys his job. They have the same charm as some of Richard Brautigan's stories (particularly the ones in Trout Fishing In America), and to a lesser degree those of Donald Barthelme. They tell a story about a fragment of the world, like the shards that are left over when a gemstone is cut.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A few pictures from agility

One of the people in the agility class I do with Dylan took some pictures a couple of weeks back. I rather like this one:

It might be subtitled something like "Dylan at a gentle stroll while David tries to keep up".

A couple more:

Oh, and this one. Why are Dylan's cheeks bulging? Because he's just about to make the particular sort of woof that means "give me treats now!".

Sunday, March 08, 2009

A notation

Now and again I borrow a book from the library to find that a previous borrower has added their own annotations to the text, usually to correct some kind of perceived error. It's a little puzzling why people do this; neither the author nor the publisher is ever likely to see the annotations (assuming that authors don't tour public libraries sneakily taking a look at their works), and to other readers, it's just a distraction. I suppose in the heat of that form of Tourette's syndrome known as Grammatical Correctness Obsession Disorder, it's hard to resist. It can happen even in the most elevated circles, as the Cambridge UL's page on marginalia and other crimes shows.

What would be even more obsessive than adding such annotations is someone going through them and critiquing them. So how could I resist? If you are the person who made comments on Hart and Boot by Tim Pratt in the paperback copy from Santa Monica Public Library, this is for you.
  1. On page 58, you corrected the possessive of Doug from Doug's to Dougs's, presumably becuase it is modifying a plural (messages). This is incorrect. Dougs's would be the possessive of Dougs. You can see examples of the correct usage, Doug's, in Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech and Svartvik's A Grammar Of Contemporary English, section 4.101.
  2. On the same page, you corrected She hated making people wait on her to ...for her. It's marginal, but here I think I agree.
  3. On page 73, you removed the comma in a light, unreasonable rain. Wrong!
  4. You changed people go missing all the time on page 94 to people are missing all the time. Not only wrong, but it changes the meaning.
  5. Somewhere (I didn't note it), you missed a typographical error where too appears as to0.
  6. On page 105, you changed unself-consciousness to un-selfconsciousness. I prefer your version.
  7. On page 150, you noted the oddness of his noble face crouched in thought. Yes, it's odd, though no worse than rain being unreasonable on page 73 which you minded less than the comma.
  8. Page 162 has a change from different than to different from. I fart on this one. Lots of people say different than is incorrect, including the odious Strunk. It's totally comprehensible, and that seems sufficient.
  9. Page 187, one of the small pleasures available to we bodiless ones, change to us bodiless ones. Oh, I dunno. I like the original better.
  10. Page 205, and here we reach the last and most glorious of your annotations. A character knows as The Regent refers to another character, Wisp, by name. The annotations says: but cf. p.185, last para, 1st line. It is beautiful that you tell us where to look, but not what the error is, thus engaging our own scholarship. The line cited is My name is not Wisp, but that is what zie calls me. Zie here is a made up pronoun and refers to Howlaa, who is not the regent. So presumably this comment is meant to indicate an inconsistency, that it is only Howlaa calls the narrator Wisp. However, there was a scene on page 192 in which The Regent, Howlaa and Wisp are talking to each other, and Howlaa uses the name Wisp. Hence it's reasonable that The Regent now also knows to call the narrator Wisp. So close, but so far.
Anyway, it's thoughts like this that have made me who I am today.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power organizes a pickup for electronic and hazardous waste. They set it up at different locations each month. This weekend it was near to us, and so I uses the opportunity to get rid of some non-functional computers, printers and monitors, as well as lots of out of date medicines. It's very well organized: you drive up and stop on a large plastic sheet, and a team of people wearing protective gear come by and take all the stuff you're dumping. As well as being safe, this also make it fast and efficient. The whole collection was over in about a minute. I imagine that if they had you unload the stuff yourself, as well as being slower, the place would be full of geeks looking to plunder old bits of kit, and, I dunno, junkies looking for tasty drugs.

The medicines disposal is a difference between here and the UK. In Britain, you can take old medicines to any pharmacy, and they will safely dispose of them. Here, the pharmacies will sell you the drugs, and that's the end of their responsibilities. Citizenship and capitalism don't rest well together, I suppose.

Two things I didn't include were an old digital camera and and old flatbed scanner. They both work, but I've replaced them with better ones. Besides giving them away, I've been wondering what I can do with them. I read articles on the web suggesting things like turning the camera into an infra-red camera, by removing the IR filter from the sensor and putting a piece of black film over it instead; and using the scanner as a back for a large format camera to make really high-res pictures. Suggestions (on a postcard) welcome.