Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Call me juvenile 

... but i love the idea of knowing how to say "Where is the toilet, please?" in 35 different languages. Not quite as cool as Lisa DeMeyer's friend who could say "This is my sister. She has no lips. Could you hold this straw for her?" in (i think) 7 languages. Now that was cool. As is the phrase "Das rein Ohrlippenkauvergnugen".

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FYI on comments 

looks like BlogSpeak got hit by a hacker or virus or something and to be safe they've taken down their comment support. I don't forsee this affecting this blog all that much.

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In case you were wondering, that upside-down exclamation point is technically known as an "upside-down exclamation point". Or "inverted exclamation point" if you want to sound hoity-toity. Or "principio de exclamación o admiración" if you want to sound long-winded and spanish. They (and inverted question marks) seem to be required in Spanish, but optional in Catalan. And you don't even have to surround the whole sentence -- as shown in these useful examples:

Vas al supermercado, ¿no? (You're going to the supermarket, aren't you?)
No va ¡maldito sea! (He's not going, darn it!)

and if you feel your sentence deserves both, just use one at the beginning and one at the end.

¡Qué lástima, estás bien? (What a pity, are you all right?!)

¡So much fun! And all you have to do (in Word, anyways) is hold down Ctrl-Alt-Shift while you type the regular ! or ? The codes behind the inverted exclamation mark are:

ASCII Code: 161
HTML Entity Number: &#161;
HTML Entity Name: &iexcl;

Haven't located the codes for el principio de interrogación... will update when i have the time

1:15pm -- edited to add:

Codes for inverted question mark are:

ASCII Code: 191
HTML Entity Number: &#191;
HTML Entity Name: &iquest;

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Monday, September 29, 2003

this is a test of your true nature. this is only a test... 

Fantagraphics is going to reprint the entire run of Peanuts.

This is GREAT!

Only in hardcover. each book [and there will be 25 of them] will cost $28.95 (or as we like to call it here in MauraLand, $29).


Come back in April 2004 to see if my inherent cheapness wins out over my love of vintage Snoopy. it's sure to be a high-pitched battle, rivalling Return of the King in intensity.

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I support British actors too, you know 

Apparently the BBC will be bringing Dr. Who back to tv with a fresh new series. Now, i'm not a huge Dr. Who fan (I think i've only seen maybe 2 episodes), but it was nice to hear that Alan Davies was being considered to play the doctor. Go Alan!

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Thursday, September 25, 2003

My man, Raul Esparza 

Pictures of the Actors' Fund of America benefit concert of Chess have finally been posted to the web, so my appreciation of all things Raul has a new focus. He was aptly cast as the Arbiter -- how i wish i could have seen/heard him... Sounds like the critics liked him plenty!

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For the word geek AND completist in you 

New discovery of the week: OneLook Dictionary Search. You give it a word, and it searches through multiple dictionaries for you -- so much quicker when you're looking for a precise definition, or an obscure word, or, as i was yesterday, looking for the popularly-approved spelling of a word. For those who might care, "workflow" is the one and only spelling ("work flow" and "work-flow" just won't do). "Life cycle" is a bit less sturdy in its primacy -- there's two sources that claim "life-cycle" as an equally valid alternative. But with 28 entries to back it up, "life cycle" is clearly the way to go.

Sadly, this is not a back door into the on-line OED. Someday i'll probably shell out the money for a subscription. Or just breakdown and get the cool compact version, complete with magnifying glass. But now i'm wondering -- are there separate US & UK versions of this, like there are for Harry Potter. Would the Anglophile in me insist on getting the "proper" UK version, even if that wouldn't help me in everyday spelling tasks? Does it really matter, since i doubt i'd ever feel comfortable spending $276 on a dictionary, no matter how cool it is?

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Wednesday, September 24, 2003

What's the Dewey Decimal number for lucridity? 

I agree with the NYTimes on many points about the lawsuit against the Library Hotel. First off, i had no idea that anyone owned the Dewey Decimal system. Secondly, the whole idea of the hotel is just cool cool cool. a hotel that provides you with books other than the Gideon's Bible might not be worth $300/night, but if i could expense it, i'd be there. but lastly, how does the Online Computer Library Center get away with "seeking damages of three times the profits the hotel has made since it opened." THIS i do not comprehend. If the hotel has made X dollars, how can the OCLC be hypothetically deprived of any more than X dollars? that math just don't add up.

and is lucridity a word? if not, it sure should be.

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Hurricanes vs Typhoons 

In the wake of Isabel, here's an interesting fact: hurricanes are typhoons are tropical cyclones are severe tropical cyclones are severe cyclonic storms. They're all the same type of storm -- it just depends on where they're located. Who knew! Here's the breakdown:

  • hurricane = in the North Atlantic Ocean, the Northeast Pacific Ocean east of the dateline, or the South Pacific Ocean east of 160E

  • typhoon = in the Northwest Pacific Ocean west of the dateline

  • tropical cyclone = in the Southwest Indian Ocean

  • severe tropical cyclone = in the Southwest Pacific Ocean west of 160E or Southeast Indian Ocean east of 90E

  • severe cyclonic storm = in the North Indian Ocean

  • And everyone knows that tropical storms are given names from a list created each year that goes alphabetically and alternates between male & female names. But i must admit, i didn't know that Hawaiian names are used for Central Pacific storms. Or that names of really major storms can be retired. I have this mental image of a bunch of football jerseys hanging on the walls at the Weather Channel offices, each with the name of a retired storm and the number of their year...

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    Tuesday, September 23, 2003

    Maybe it's because i just finished lunch... 

    but oh man, the idea of cheeseburger fries makes me feel nauseous. [NYTimes login required]

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    I konw ylal hvae hraed aobut the rsceearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy 

    i know, i know, i should have gotten this out of the way long ago, but i want to point the world to the discussion at LanguageHat, where,
    among other things, it is determined that:

  • it's next to impossible to track down the origin, so it's more likely a joke/hoax than a result of an actual study
  • it really seems like longer words are harder to comprehend
  • possibly the degree of mixed-up-ness of the internal letters can make a difference
  • this works pretty well in english but not all other languages
  • context definitely has a lot to do with it
  • this paragraph drives proofreaders crazy

    hrm. there was something else, but i read the discussion a couple of days ago. perhaps i'll re-read it later....

    on a related topic, here's blurb about a book which researches how the concept of "words" came about. Seems like it's really just a phenomemon in writing language -- oral languages tend to just think of syllables. And they use the term 'aerated script' which just sounds incredibly cool to me...

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  • Thursday, September 18, 2003

    Job I Never Want to Have 

    Driver of a blimp.

    Now, i've always considered the Hood blimp to be menacing, if not a downright icon of evil. but just now it did a flyby of our (not terribly tall) building, and man, does it not look stable. The nose is diving up & down, it's meandering from left to right in an erratic non-pattern, and it keeps rolling on its sides like a ponderous Weeble. To a person who has had a few too many experiences with sea-sickness, it looks like the last place not on earth i'd want to be.

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    Thursday, September 11, 2003

    Hidden Boston: Part 1 

    Last night Derek mentioned his theory that Boston is a city of secrets -- that there are tons of cool things going on all around you that none of the guide books mention. you just have to find them yourselves. When pressed for an example, he talked of the people who tango on the pedestrian bridge near Harvard on nights of the full moon during the summer. Can I tell you how sad i am to have missed my chance at seeing this anytime soon by a mere 48 hours?

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    Word of the day: abominable 

    Just try saying it a few times in a row. Abominable, abominable, abominable. Very satisfying.

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