alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
A few days ago, I was reading a Fredric Brown novel from the 1950s that had been scanned and OCR-ed. It had the oddest scan-o that I've seen in quite a while. About 15 or 20 times over the course of the novel, the word "him" was misrecognized as the word "God". Grammatically speaking, the two words tend to work in the same places in sentences. It didn't make much SENSE however. The first few times I saw it, I was willing to put it down to Brown's wry and sometimes elliptical sense of humor. But after a while, the pattern became clear.

I miss my dad. I bet if he were still around, he'd be able to identify what the original typeface that was scanned in was, just from that information.
alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
Still reading (intermittently) the 15th century translation of The Four Sons of Aymon. Came across a great word which, though I had never encountered it before, was entirely clear. When our hero returns from a pilgrimage abroad, he is told that hiw wife has died. He then asks where she is "begraven".
alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
So, I'm reading The Four Sons of Aymon. This is an exquisite exercise in anachronism as I am using my 21st century iPad to read, in pdf form (20th century), a 19th century reprint of a 15th century English translation of a 13th century version of a 12th century French romance.

The language is mostly fairly easy to puzzle out, though noticeably pre-Shakespearean. Every once in a while, I find a truly unfamiliar word, and try to use google to decipher a meaning, with mixed results. Sometimes, I get the happy result of realizing that is an ancestor of a word I do know, but in an odd, early form. Other times, I am sad because I can't seem to get any answer at all, there being few or no other usages that I can find in google. Given the number of possible stages at which typographic error can have come in, I tend to suspect that some of these aren't "real" words at all.

But there's one word that shows up often enough, consistently enough, that it clearly is "correct", and I really want to know more about it, so I'm asking the internet. The word is "Damp", and it clearly isn't meaning anything to do with moisture in any simple sense. It's always used as an honorable form of address when speaking to someone, as in "Damp Rowlande," or even "Damp emperoure". In fact, it's very similar to the current formal usage of "Dame", but seems to only be addressed to *men*.

One other detail of interest is orthographic in nature: the "p" has a *macron* over it! I have frequently seen this symbol used to indicate the presence of an elided "m" or "n" in the following character, but I have *never* seen it above a "p" (only vowels, or the rare "m" or "n" that should be doubled).

Anyone out there know any more about this curious word?
alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)

Transcript:
Title: Sticks and Stones
Panel 1:
Child (running towards adult): Did you hear what he said about me!?
Adult: Well, remember:
Adult: Sticks and stones may break my bones,
Adult: but words--

Panel 2:
Child: --can make someone else feel happy or sad,
Child: which is literally the only thing that matters in this stupid world?

Panel 3:
Silent panel.

Panel 4:
Child: Right?
Adult: The world isn't *that* bad.
Child: Explain the line about sticks and stones?
Adult: ...OK, maybe it's kind of horrific.

Alt-text: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can make me think I deserved it.
alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
Last night I had a dream that was a "kid detective" story, with a bunch of kids working to solve an old mystery. One of the kids was actually the ghost of a young girl, a murder victim. At the climax, the kids pulled down a false wall that concealed the girl's body, along with some treasure and other evidence. The ghost-girl happily flew over to see that it was, in fact, her body. She then pulled out her ghostly notebook in which she had been keeping track of clues and mysteries.

Ghost Girl: "Well! that's..." (disappointed face) "...*almost* everything. But we never did find out what the gargantuam was."
Live Girl: "I think you wrote that down wrong. "Gargantuan" has an "n" on the end. It's just an english word that means "very large", or "extreme".
Ghost Girl: (happily) "Oh! Then I *can* go!"

And the Ghost Girl happily fades away, since the mysteries are all solved. The live kids miss her a little, but are happy for her.
alexxkay: (Default)
Free-associating during a dream, I was thinking that the term "happily married" carries a lot of connotations and cultural baggage along with it, that may or may not actually apply to a given marriage.

*I*, am "giddily married" (and smug about it).
alexxkay: (Default)
One thing I didn't mention about _Five Red Herrings_ was the incessant use of heavy Scottish dialect. This included frequent use of the mysterious utterance, "imph'm". From repeated context, I eventually suspected it meant something along the lines of "mmmmmaybe". Eventually I decide to google it, and found a pair of delightful poems.

_Have His Carcase_ was a much better book, as how could it not be with so much excellent Harriet/Peter banter. And in this book, I learn that the term "lounge lizard" is older than I would have thought. Other words of note: 'noonlight', 'scabious', 'hause-bone', 'halitus', 'pukka', 'gamp', 'subfusc', 'morgantically', and 'bunce'.

_Murder Must Advertise_ was also excellent, despite the near-total absence of Harriet. Words of note: 'dislimned', 'bonhomous', 'googlies', 'Chrononhotonthologos', 'Aldiborontophoscophornio', 'ack emma', 'insufflator', 'gibus', 'gobony', 'punnets', 'charabancs', 'dolichocephalic', and 'perpend'.

Also, the sentence: "I said, 'What-ho! that absolutely whangs the nail over the crumpet.' Because it struck me, really, as being the caterpillar's boots."
alexxkay: (Default)
One of the folks who performed in Sleep No More also does work as a "Violence Designer". I had previously only heard that term used by [livejournal.com profile] rickthefightguy (and friends). Is the term just starting to spread, or has this been going on some time, I wonder?
alexxkay: (Default)
I've run across this a few times recently, but I figure some of you haven't yet.

LASER = Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation
MASER = Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation
TASER = Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle

Really!

"Ruled"

Nov. 5th, 2008 07:32 pm
alexxkay: (Default)
My previously-mentioned letter to the editor:
In your 11/5/2008 issue, on page 06, there was a sidebar of "Facts and figures that make this race interesting". One of them was, and I quote: "216 Number of years the U.S. has been ruled by white males."

This is incorrect. 216 years ago, the newly-United States decided that they had had enough of rulers. That they would form a new government, that did not vest absolute power in any one body.

The President of the United States does not "rule" America. One could say that he "presides", or "governs" or even "leads" America. But he absolutely does not *rule* us.

This is more than a mere semantic issue. During the George W. Bush years, the power of the Administrative Branch of our government has experienced unprecedented growth. He has aggrandized more and more powers to himself and his office, with little justification and no significant opposition. When media outlets casually use words like "ruled", they help reinforce the opinion that the President is equivalent to a king, someone whose every whim must be obeyed. 216 years ago, we decided we'd had enough of that. Let's not encourage the kings to sneak back in via the Presidency.

"Ruled"

Nov. 5th, 2008 07:32 pm
alexxkay: (Default)
My previously-mentioned letter to the editor:
In your 11/5/2008 issue, on page 06, there was a sidebar of "Facts and figures that make this race interesting". One of them was, and I quote: "216 Number of years the U.S. has been ruled by white males."

This is incorrect. 216 years ago, the newly-United States decided that they had had enough of rulers. That they would form a new government, that did not vest absolute power in any one body.

The President of the United States does not "rule" America. One could say that he "presides", or "governs" or even "leads" America. But he absolutely does not *rule* us.

This is more than a mere semantic issue. During the George W. Bush years, the power of the Administrative Branch of our government has experienced unprecedented growth. He has aggrandized more and more powers to himself and his office, with little justification and no significant opposition. When media outlets casually use words like "ruled", they help reinforce the opinion that the President is equivalent to a king, someone whose every whim must be obeyed. 216 years ago, we decided we'd had enough of that. Let's not encourage the kings to sneak back in via the Presidency.
alexxkay: (Default)
Vernor Vinge's new book, _Rainbows End_ is out, and I've just finished reading it. Anticipation for this was *very* high, and it nearly lived up to it. Definitely a Hugo contender for next year. Some spoilers follow, though I hope nothing too major. Read more... )
alexxkay: (Default)
Vernor Vinge's new book, _Rainbows End_ is out, and I've just finished reading it. Anticipation for this was *very* high, and it nearly lived up to it. Definitely a Hugo contender for next year. Some spoilers follow, though I hope nothing too major. Read more... )
alexxkay: (Default)
I recently read, for the first time, John Varley's _The Ophiuchi Hotline_. It forms a third example of a kind of SF story that I now want a word for. The other examples I'm thinking of are Charles Stross' _Accelerando_ and Greg Egan's _Diaspora_ (all highy recommended by the way). The settings for all of these stories (at least, by the *end* of all these stories) share a lot of significant details.

On the dystopian side:
* Billions of humans are killed.
* Earth is no longer habitable by humans.
* Humanity finds that, far from being the pinnacle of evolution, they are, to use Stross' metaphor (in his blog) barley able to outthink the equivalent of gut bacteria when playing on the galactic scale. Humanity is forced to find a viable ecological niche that is *way* down the food chain.
* Following from the above, humanity is in great risk of extinction at any time.

On the utopian side, however:
* More humans are alive than at any previous point in history.
* Humans are more widely dispersed throughout space than ever before.
* Following from *that*, we see that, while humanity may be at great risk of extinction, that risk is actually lower than ever before, and decreasing.
* Humans have more access to energy than ever before, and can manipulate that energy in more ways than ever before. In physical terms, the ordinary person haa a degree of luxury and leisure that a 20th century multi-billionaire would envy.

Are there any more stories like these out there? And does anyone have a suggestion for what one might call them, collectively?
alexxkay: (Default)
I recently read, for the first time, John Varley's _The Ophiuchi Hotline_. It forms a third example of a kind of SF story that I now want a word for. The other examples I'm thinking of are Charles Stross' _Accelerando_ and Greg Egan's _Diaspora_ (all highy recommended by the way). The settings for all of these stories (at least, by the *end* of all these stories) share a lot of significant details.

On the dystopian side:
* Billions of humans are killed.
* Earth is no longer habitable by humans.
* Humanity finds that, far from being the pinnacle of evolution, they are, to use Stross' metaphor (in his blog) barley able to outthink the equivalent of gut bacteria when playing on the galactic scale. Humanity is forced to find a viable ecological niche that is *way* down the food chain.
* Following from the above, humanity is in great risk of extinction at any time.

On the utopian side, however:
* More humans are alive than at any previous point in history.
* Humans are more widely dispersed throughout space than ever before.
* Following from *that*, we see that, while humanity may be at great risk of extinction, that risk is actually lower than ever before, and decreasing.
* Humans have more access to energy than ever before, and can manipulate that energy in more ways than ever before. In physical terms, the ordinary person haa a degree of luxury and leisure that a 20th century multi-billionaire would envy.

Are there any more stories like these out there? And does anyone have a suggestion for what one might call them, collectively?

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Alexx Kay

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