2 3 live&learn&rejoice: April 2011

April 30, 2011

In it for the long haul?

Whether we want to live longer is a question in and of itself.....but it pays to be, apparently, determined and committed (not necessarily to someone, though) if one wants to prolong the state of being.

From the NY Times discussion (April 19 2011) of a new book, The Longevity Project (Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin):
(actually this is, I think, a quote from the book itself) "The findings clearly revealed that the best childhood personality predictor of longevity was conscientiousness, the qualities of a prudent, persistent, well-organized person, like a scientist-professor - somewhat obsessive and not at all carefree."

Other studies have shown that education is key to a long life (but that's not really a characteristic of the individual; it's something he/she has endured).

You also live longer if you are agreeable.  Genes only go so far (~30% determinative).

a la mode a la mort*

*fashionable at the death? [or so google translates?]

 . . . "but what does it all mean toto?"

April 29, 2011

and a sixpence in her shoe

wedding dress of catherine the great in 1700s . . . will the british miss katherine (w/o a k) walk down the aisle in anything so audacious? one hopes so, but one suspects not.

April 28, 2011

geography 101

Can you name the capital cities of each country? (of any country?)

Can you identify the natural resources of each country? (of any country?)

Can you name the president or prime minister of each country? (of any country?)

April 27, 2011

It's all about me....in music

So, popular music is ever increasingly narcissistic and mean.

Comparing popular music from 1980 to that from 2007, researchers found far more references to 'I' and 'me' in the more recent songs, and more 'anger-related words' and a corresponding decrease in references to 'we' and 'us' and less expression of positive emotions.

Sample song titles from 2008 -

'Greatest Man the Ever Lived' and ' The World Should Revolve Around Me'

All from the NY Times article ("A Generation's Vanity, Heard Through Lyrics"), April 26, 2011, p. D1.


geographic information systems


April 26, 2011

Oh, please....

How fun would it be to write this book - Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us (Joe Palca and Flora Lichtman - Wiley)?  Or maybe it would just be annoying.

Article about the book in the Science section of today's NY Times......

Apparently, lots of annoying things are things we hear - and hearing less than all of something is more intrusive than hearing the whole thing (example?  ... half of a phone conversation...is it because we can only imagine the responses?).

Interesting tidbits from the article ....

"First on a list of traits that tend to annoy others ... is that of being constantly annoyed."

"People with perfect pitch report they are routinely driven insane by nebulous halftones that don't fit into their ordered brains."

pop quiz

1. where is the kyrgyz republic?

2. is kyrgyzstan larger or smaller than texas?

3. name a natural resource found in abundance in kyrgyzstan.

4. what is the approximate population of kyrgystan?

5.  what is the capital of kyrgystan?

answers courtesy of the world factbook published online by the cia:

1. asia, broadly speaking: Central Asia, west of China, south of Kazakhstan, to be more specific

2. duh, that was a gimme. it is slightly smaller than south dakota

3. abundant hydropower; significant deposits of gold and rare earth metals; locally exploitable coal, oil, and natural gas; other deposits of nepheline, mercury, bismuth, lead, and zinc (which begs the question, of course, what is nepheline and how is it used?)
4. 5,587,443 (July 2011 est.)

5. bishkek

April 25, 2011

value in academic research?

for those *leaders* of higher education in the State of Texas and beyond struggling to understand the value of academic research, consider the obvious policy implications of a database maintained by the Strauss Center at UT Austin providing clear evidence that more social conflicts occur in North Africa during extremely wet years and extremely dry years. The database is free and publicly available to search online, http://ccaps.strausscenter.org/scad/conflicts.

April 24, 2011

When the AC repairman offered me, without prodding, the senior discount, I thought.....I am none of the following (at least in my mind's eye).......

Per Yahoo UK: You can start referring to others as senior when they're about 55.....

Per wikianswers.com: How old do senior citizens have to be? At least 62.

Per phoenixabout.com: How old is a senior? 62+.

Per legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com:   Senior citizen = Elderly persons, usually more than sixty or sixty-five years of age.

Per dictionary.reference.com: Senior citizen = an elderly or aged person, especially one who is retired or whose principal source of support is a pension or Social Security benefits.




hmph . . . just learned about the austin museum of digital art, need to check out some of their happenings, could be fun.

in fact, this reminds me that i need to do the whole east austin art studio tour thing,

work so interferes with important things.
why can't the leaves pick up themselves,
why can't oprah let me have her cook a couple nights a week,
why can't the dogs learn to give themselves a bath, and
why don't things stop breaking down
so that i can be free to do nothing but explore the world?

April 23, 2011

welcome to the weekend

get in the swing of things this weekend by learning about the birth of the bossa nova from npr at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91087907

be impressed once more with google by noting the timeline and wonderwheel search options when you look up bossa nova:

timeline courtesy of google (links provided for each date for more info)

wonder wheel courtesy of google. spokes indicate related topics,
all with hyperlinks for more info.

and, by all means, be sure to work on creating the ultimate bossa nova cocktail to accompany your weekend music extravaganza (paper umbrellas not required, but highly recommended)

April 22, 2011

yann tiersen

another entry courtesy of my nephew . . . always fun to get music and book recommendations and really a treat when whatever is recommended you like:

April 21, 2011

The near elderly

Federal legislation defines the term 'near elderly' on two occasions.....in one case, the near elderly are between 52 and 62, and in the other, between 55 and 62.  Surely not.

pr scores on going green

How can Walmart even pretend to be committed to creating zero waste when the brand new Walmart in my neighborhood doesn't even offer the option of paper bags at check-out & their larger-sized reusable bags for sale are not located conveniently at the check-out so that you can buy an extra one if necessary (they are only available back in the frozen food section)?

I've written the local mgmt and suggested paper bags, which seems an obvious step in the direction of creating zero waste to me but as the store continues to bag everything in plastic and my email was sent months ago, it seems safe to assume that my suggestion will not get implemented.

In any event, hats off to the Walmart pr department for promoting a very impressive  "environmental and social responsibility report" regardless of their practices.

In its 2011 environmental and social responsibility report, Walmart looks at its progress on the three ambitious goals set in 2005 — to be powered 100 percent by renewable energy, create zero waste and offer sustainable products — and related plans. Although Walmart details the work it’s done related to the goals and gives figures on other goals, it doesn’t have specifics on where it is in relation to those three main efforts.

April 20, 2011


 . . . from the Greek στόχος for aim or guess, means random according to wikipedia.

....a synonym for random. in statistics, the only sample that can be truly representative of a population is a random sample per http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/lang/gloss.php

and more from http://www.statslab.cam.ac.uk/~rrw1/stoc_sched/:

stochastic scheduling is concerned with scheduling problems in which the processing times of tasks are modelled as random variables. Thus a job's processing time is not known until it is complete. Scheduling may be preemptive or non-preemptive, occur on one or on many processors, and be concerned with various optimization criteria.

a typical result in this area is that if n jobs have processing times that are exponentially distributed with different means and are to be processed by m identical machines operating in parallel, then LEPT (longest expected processing time first) minimizes the expected makespan (the time at which all jobs are complete.)

and then comes the fun part:

consider the differences between stochastic programming and deterministic programming at
http://stoprog.org/index.html?spintroduction.html. note that stochastic programming "prevents decisions that anticipate future uncertain events."

April 19, 2011

Taxes, part II

Albert Einstein:  “The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”
Arthur Godfrey:  “I am proud to be paying taxes in the United States. The only thing is – I could be just as proud for half the money.” 
Lord Bramwell, 19th Century English jurist:  "Like mothers, taxes are often misunderstood, but seldom forgotten.'' 
The Internal Revenue Code was expressed in 1.4 million words (as of 2000).  IRS regulations are another 8 million words.
In 1999 the number of paid tax preparers was twice as big as the number of policement in the country, and four times as big as the number of firefighters.
More than 60% of US taxpayers pay someone to complete their tax forms.

bon appetit?

BALUT, supposedly a common philippine street vendor food (what we in austin would call "trailer food") . . . turns out to be a fertilized duck egg with the fetus inside.

balut purists insist the fetus must be a certain age, among other things.

assuming this is not an internet joke, i just need to learn how to say "no thank you" in tagalog.

seriously folks, just say no to balut

April 18, 2011

perfect information

According to wikipedia:
In game theory, perfect information describes the situation when a player has available the same information to determine all of the possible games (all combinations of legal moves) as would be available at the end of the game.

just imagine that in real life. would it be a curse or a blessing?

what if you had full knowledge of every possible variation and every viable alternative open to you?

what if you knew 10 years ago what you know now about your life,  would you make any different choices?

April 17, 2011

Taxes, part 1

In anticipation of the 18th of April -

All pretty much quoted from Business Insider - http://www.businessinsider.com/20-more-tax-facts-that-will-make-your-head-explode-2010-4#americans-spend-76-billion-hours-each-year-doing-their-taxes-1 and http://www.businessinsider.com/15-charts-about-wealth-and-inequality-in-america-2010-4#half-of-america-has-25-of-the-wealth-2

--Americans spend 7.6 billion hours / year doing their taxes.
--The IRS employs 101,054 people.
--84% pf people think it is not okay to cheat on taxes.
--[could this be true?] If you report your employer for tax evasion, you could earn 30% of the amount not paid that the IRS finally collects.
--The bottom (in terms of wealth) 50% of the US population has only 2.5% of the nation's money.

penrose tiling

this lovely design courtesy of http://tilings.math.uni-bielefeld.de/substitution_rules/robinson_triangle is an example of penrose tiling.

wikipedia explains the various remarkable characteristics of penrose tiling including the note that it is "self-similar" so the same patterns occur at larger & larger scales.

do you think we do this in life? just keep hanging out with people who have similar values and opinions and life experiences and really, like the penrose tiling, "any finite patch from the tiling occurs infinitely many times"?

April 15, 2011

who knows

raymond chandler's 1950 essay on literary criticism is an awfully fun read, full text at http://www.en.utexas.edu/amlit/amlitprivate/scans/chandlerart.html.

typical of chandler's writing, i'm not sure what he's on about but it's somehow fun to read anyway. good going old boy.

April 14, 2011

somebody pls augment my reality now

Wall Street Journal
FEBRUARY 15, 2011
Even Better Than the Real Thing


"It's the real world—only better." This is how Jay Wright, business-development director at technology company Qualcomm Inc., describes the latest buzz technology to grip the digital world.

So-called "augmented reality" is the overlaying of digital information onto the real world, and everyone from games designers to retailers to health-care companies to estate agents are gearing up to use it. While the potential for such technology to change the world is vast, the biggest challenge for its backers will be to convert this virtual revolution into rock-solid profits. Fortunately, there are countless ways this can be achieved, but not all are immediately obvious.

WSJ Europe Technology Editor Ben Rooney speaks to Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of Research in Motion, about RIM BlackBerry's current place in the smartphone market and what to expect from RIM in the future.

Augmented reality has shifted from its high-industrial beginnings at aerospace firm Boeing Co., where it was used to overlay schematics of complex wiring diagrams onto actual wiring via a headset, to being a tool that offers to bring together the real world and the Internet. Such a confluence of the actual and virtual worlds should already have offered a route to riches untold. But the commercial potential of this new technology is very far from being realized.

In laymen's terms, augmented reality is defined as computer-generated content—which typically includes graphics, audio and other sensory enhancements—that is superimposed over live images to enhance the real world. In mobile devices, where augmented reality's future seems to be heading, it uses everyday technology such as cameras, global-positioning systems and electronic compasses. These are built into the phone, in combination with WiFi and broadband networks, to bring together location, orientation and context— all adding up to a richer experience of the world around the user.

Retail Potential

Some early examples of augmented reality in action include an "app" on smartphones that will tell a user the location of the nearest metro station, if he or she just points the phone at the street on which they are standing. Another app, from the Museum of London, will overlay on the phone's "street view" an image of what the street looked like hundreds of years ago. Augmented reality even allows users to point a so-called "Stargazer" app at the night sky and it will overlay the constellations, stars and planets and facts about them. Others offer the chance to see reviews, menus and comments added onto the view of a restaurant or bar.

A woman tries on a new watch remotely outside Selfridges in London. Augmented reality means she does not even need to go into the store.

Such technology is undoubtedly useful, and in the case of the Museum of London's app, fascinating to some, but does it have any genuine commercial potential? Mr. Wright believes it has. "The means of monetizing augmented-reality apps won't be any different to any other app," he says. "Some will pay to download, some will use app-purchasing and others will be ad-funded. There may well be some new players and some new platforms, but the business models for these apps will be the same as all the others."

For example, Yellow Pages in the U.S. is testing the use of augmented reality to overlay adverts—paid for by businesses—to street views when the app is used. Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, eBay Inc. is testing a service that will show users all those people who are trading goods in the neighborhood.

EBay's vice president of local classifieds, Bob van Dijk, is adamant that the future lies in local sales—that and adding virtual technology to its burgeoning real-estate business.

In the U.K., property website RightMove.com has also toyed with a real-estate app, developed by mobile technology firm Mobile Interactive Group Ltd., which works in the same way as eBay's proposed new service. In this case, users point the phone up and down the street and the app tells them what is for sale, or to rent, how much it costs and gives the user the chance to contact the property agent.

It's not only in real estate and classified ads that this new virtual technology has money-making potential, says Theo Forbath, vice president of innovation strategy at software company Aricent Inc..

"The real money lies in turning augmented reality into the consumer space with games, entertainment and education," he says. "In the next 12 to 24 months you will see it everywhere, changing how people shop, by bringing the advantages of the Web to the in-store experience. It will transform business, allowing for better virtual meetings and it will play a big part on both children's educational toys and adult education. Think of those headsets you currently get given at museums: These will soon all be apps on mobiles."

Virtual Tech, Real Money

What is exercising the calculators of venture capitalists the world over, however, is how to turn this technology into something that creates genuine revenue streams.

"Retail and gaming are the obvious areas that can deliver revenues with augmented reality right now," says Mr. Wright. "There are already shoot-'em-up games you can play, interactively, overlaid onto the real world and there are already many games developers working on such games that will sell at a premium—expect to see them on sale early next year."

Jonathan Chippindale, chief executive of augmented reality retail pioneer Holition, believes that the future of the technology lies in the consumer arena. "We saw huge interest in our augmented reality screens at the front of Selfridges in London. These allowed people to virtually try on Tissot watches without going inside the store," he says. "Tissot saw sales of its watches rise by 83% in the store while the trial was running."


'Now anyone wanting to sell something can simply scan its bar code and use the information provided to create a sales profile.' -- Roeland Loof of eBay

Another area where retailers are set to benefit is in applying augmented reality to technology that is already in widespread use, such as bar-code scanners. Built in to a number of retailer apps, bar-code scanners allow consumers to scan a bar code and launch all manner of information about that item. "EBay has built this into its sellers' app," notes Roeland Loof, head of mobile in Europe for the auction site. "Now anyone wanting to sell something can simply scan its bar code and use the information provided to create a sales profile. This makes selling via mobile much easier."

But augmented reality has perhaps one more potentially lucrative surprise up its sleeve. While much attention has been placed on how it can extend things that already exist, many are starting to look at how it can generate a whole new revenue stream through its use in health care—or more specifically, health monitoring.

"Our research shows that 19 out of 22 health-care professionals already see wireless health-care monitoring as vital," says Andy Zimmerman from Accenture Ltd. "There are already millions of devices in circulation measuring heart rate, blood sugar, asthma and even whether elderly patients are moving or upright. And consumers appear to be willing to pay, often relatively large amounts of money, to get the data from these devices [on their mobiles] from aging parents so that they can monitor them remotely. It all comes down to the fact that residential care for the elderly is very expensive, so they are trying to look after them at home—and wireless technology helps do this."

This may not be what most people imagine when they think of augmented reality, but it is perhaps the main money spinner for using data to "augment" the real world.

Mr. Skeldon is a mobile telecoms journalist based in London. He can be reached at reports@wsj.com.

April 13, 2011

sweat bird turds*

. . . and other slang defined in Green's Slang Dictionary, published earlier this year. 3 volumes totaling 10.3 million words and over 53,000 entries, the collection provides the definitions of 100,000 words and over 413,000 citations.

$434 at amazon.com,

or reference it for free at your local library. after all, it's slang, by definition this opus will be obsolete before the end of the year.

*translates to "work hard"

April 12, 2011

ask me another one

according to fortune online, the following are real job interview questions. your insights welcome on possible approaches to an answer. for me, i envision very short job interviews in my future if these are the questions. (except for the first one, of course, for which the answer is obvious)*

"Given the numbers 1 to 1,000, what is the minimum number of guesses needed to find a specific number, if you are given the hint 'higher' or 'lower' for each guess you make?" -- Facebook

"Using a scale of 1 to 10, rate yourself on how weird you are." -- Capital One (COF)

"Explain quantum electrodynamics in two minutes, starting now." -- Intel (INTC)

"How many balloons would fit in this room?" -- PricewaterhouseCoopers

"If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and put in a blender, how would you get out?" -- Goldman Sachs (GS)

"You have a bouquet of flowers. All but two are roses, all but two are daisies, and all but two are tulips. How many flowers do you have?" -- Epic Systems

"What is the philosophy of martial arts?" -- Aflac (AFL)

"Explain to me what has happened in this country during the last 10 years." -- Boston Consulting

"If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?" -- AT&T (T)

"How do you weigh an elephant without using a scale?" -- IBM (IBM)

"If you had 5,623 participants in a tournament, how many games would need to be played to determine the winner?" -- Amazon (AMZN)

"How many bricks are there in Shanghai? Consider only residential buildings." --Deloitte Consulting

"You have five bottles of pills. One bottle has 9 gram pills, the others have 10 gram pills. You have a scale that can be used only once. How can you find out which bottle contains the 9 gram pills?" --eBay (EBAY)

"What is your fastball?" -- Ernst & Young

"How would you market ping pong balls if ping pong itself became obsolete? List many ways, then pick one and go into detail." -- Microsoft (MSFT)

"How many smartphones are there in New York City?" -- Google (GOOG)

"You are in charge of 20 people. Organize them to figure out how many bicycles were sold in your area last year." -- Schlumberger (SLB)

"Why do you think only a small percentage of the population makes over $125,000 a year?" -- New York Life

"You have three boxes. One contains only apples, one contains only oranges, and one contains both apples and oranges. The boxes have been incorrectly labeled so that no label accurately identifies the contents of any of the boxes. Opening just one box, and without looking inside, you take out one piece of fruit. By looking at the fruit, how can you immediately label all of the boxes correctly?" -- Apple (AAPL)

"How many ball bearings, each one inch in diameter, can fit inside a 747 aircraft?" -- SAIC (SAI)


*ha, belated april fool's...the only answer i can imagine is
 "could you please repeat the question?"

April 11, 2011


It is all very very sad.  Knut was a polar bear born in the Berlin Zoo, rejected by his mother, left alone by his brother who died in infancy, and raised by a zookeeper who, in turn, died when Knut was not yet two.  Knut himself died last month.  "Standing on a rock, he spun in circles, had a seizure, then fell into the water, where he died." [not a bad way to go]  NY Times, April 12, 2011 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/12/world/europe/12berlin.html?hp

Now the debate - the director of the zoo wants to have Knut stuffed and put on display.  Knut's admirers disagree .... strongly.

Knut was surprisingly the subject of much controversy during his short life.  Some animal rights activists argued that it was wrong to raise him with humans.  Poor Knut even received death threats (or so Wikipedia claims).  He ate carp and was criticized.  PETA suggested he should be castrated.  Hundreds of people were visiting and watching Knut when he died.

So, so sad.......

charlotte perkins gilman

"there are things in the wall-paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will."

excerpt from the yellow wall-paper, 1892

April 10, 2011

Seeing is believing?

From an article by Greg Miller dated April 10 2011 posted on the online version of Science......

If a person regains his sight (after being blind for a long period of time), can he/she recognize objects by sight that were once known to him/her only by touch?

Well, maybe, maybe not.  What results of a study in India seemed to show is that immediately after surgery (i.e., within 48 hours), the children (whose sight had been restored) did not do so well in recognizing by sight objects that they had known by touch.  But, when the children were retested (when back home with their families) a few days later, they were successful (80% of the time) in recognizing by sight the objects once known only by touch.

The mind works in strange ways.....


peanut butter water

as of this writing, peanut butter water is only for dogs so don't whet your appetite for it just yet (oh puns are too funs. stop--no more i promise.)

peanut butter water is the topic. it is a "premium pet water" cleverly called "dogdration" and created by a guy named brian who has a dog named ophelia.

i do not know ophelia but imagine in the morning she probably does a gentle doga stretching to create the calming environment required for the daily massaging of her gums that leads to brushing of the teeth with squirrel-blood toothpaste so beloved by canines everywhere. after a spiritual walk along a labyrinth contemplating the smells of the day, ophelia might perhaps have a lie down for a bit of meditative napping or pawing through the latest issue of wet nose culture magazine.

afternoons probably vary for ophelia, a girl of many interests. a visit to the dog psychic might be in order or perhaps choir practice at the local dog run with other ladies of leisure is the activity of the day. clearly she is the type who visits pawsitively irresistible the first of each month when their new haute shipments arrive.

the evening routine has brian preparing a homemade, nutritious, 100% organic dinner for both of them while ophelia, i imagine, lounges nearby enjoying the spa channel music of sirius radio. she dines on an exactly correct portion-sized meal, then gets a mani-pedi or perhaps maybe a full shampoo and blow dry before crawling up in a king-sized hypoallergenic mattress for a full 10-hour sleep.

"man and rhonda are troubled by what might be called
the Dog Wish,
a strange and involved compulsion to be
as happy and carefree as a dog."

what James Thurber originally wrote in
And So To Medve
before an evil editor chopped out the good part

April 9, 2011

Happiness ... at work

Apparently the following values promote social learning in organizations (which, in turn, may lead to job satisfaction)...

--cultural cohesiveness
--commitment (on the part of both employee and employer)
--openness of decision making processes
--culture of information sharing
All this from Pascoe, Ali, and Warne, "Yet Another Role for Job Satisfaction and Work Motivation - Enabler of Knowledge Creation and Knowledge Sharing," Information Science, 2002.

southeast asian travel clip

what r words 4?

earned media (or free media) refers to favorable publicity gained through promotional efforts other than advertising, as opposed to paid media, which refers to publicity gained through advertising. earned media often refers specifically to publicity gained through editorial influence, whereas social media refers to publicity gained through grassroots action, particularly on the internet. the media may include any mass media outlets, such as newspaper, television, radio, and the internet, and may include a variety of formats, such as news articles or shows, letters to the editor, editorials, and polls on television and the nternet.

April 8, 2011

the bed of procrustes

saw the bed of procrustes on the new books' shelf of the library & wondered what it meant. here goes from brittanica.com:

procrustes had an iron bed (or, according to some accounts, two beds) on which he compelled his victims to lie. Here, if a victim was shorter than the bed, he stretched him by hammering or racking the body to fit. alternatively, if the victim was longer than the bed, he cut off the legs to make the body fit the bed’s length.

the “bed of Procrustes,” or “Procrustean bed,” has become proverbial for arbitrarily—and perhaps ruthlessly—forcing someone or something to fit into an unnatural scheme or pattern.

Procrustes. (2011). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/477822/Procrustes

April 6, 2011

ode to a wednesday

thx to my nephew, learned about an israeli trance band called "infected mushroom," http://www.infected-mushroom.com/ . not for everyone, but then it isn't trying to be.

You can roll the window down....

Although it's hard to get sunburned through a car window (because the coated glass prevents UVB rays - those that cause sunburn - from getting through), you can be exposed to UVA rays which are the more harmful ones and which can lead to skin cancer.   -- From today's NY Times (science section)

April 5, 2011

do you want to live in a hyphenless world?

the hyphen is going the way of the dodo bird. will it be missed? for some perhaps, but for others a hyphenless world offers a paradise of sorts. read full article below.

perhaps next year we can lose the dreary period from our text the period is just too bossy and interrupts constantly i say death to the period why not really?


courtesy of the boston globe...

Last month, at a national convention of professional copy editors, the Associated Press announced a few changes to its house style. Calcutta would henceforth be Kolkata, cell phone and smart phone had become cellphone and smartphone, and CPR no longer needed the gloss "cardiopulmonary resuscitation."

But it was the tiniest change on the list that set editors and word-watchers atwitter: The AP decreed that e-mail, after a minor surgical procedure, would emerge as the hyphenless email.

Finally! responded some of the online commenters. We have Gmail and iPad and JDate -- it's high time email got on board. Others didn't see the logic: When we still hyphenate C-section and T-shirt and X-ray -- and (even at AP) e-commerce and e-book -- why make this weird exception to the dominant pattern?

For most people, of course -- including many of the impassioned commenters -- the ruling doesn't matter at all. What the AP means by "style" has nothing to do with soaring prose or platform sandals. AP style is just a guide to the fine points of editing for AP employees and subscribers -- a compilation of preferences in matters of spelling, punctuation, and usage that have more than one right answer.

Many news outlets follow AP's guidelines, which are published in book form and online, so its decisions do make a difference. But nobody's bound to follow them: At the Globe and The New York Times, which have their own style guides, e-mail is keeping its hyphen (for now). And in everyday life, we can still hyphenate as quirkily as we like.

So why the heated reactions to the e-mail decision? Like much language change, a shift in AP style seems to say something about who we are and what we value as a culture. That may be an illusion, but we can't resist inventing explanations for our language preferences. If you've always used the serial comma -- "red, white, and blue" -- its absence can look slipshod and lazy. If you were taught the more streamlined AP style -- "red, white and blue" -- the extra comma may seem fussy and pretentious.

And when a style change reflects obvious cultural trends, it's natural for language traditionalists to see it as a threat. There was no rebellion when the Chicago Manual of Style -- the leading guide for scholarly books -- changed "Taylor and Elm Streets" to "Taylor and Elm streets," lowercasing "streets," and then changed it back again in a later edition. But allowing a sentence to start with a lowercase letter, as Chicago now does -- "iPods are indispensable," "eBay is floundering" -- seems like more than a style decision; it's a concession to branding fashion. What style maven wouldn't suspect the undue influence of youth and money?

For a working editor, though, the most puzzling style questions (and probably the most frequent style changes) come from the e-mail- vs.-email category. When is tax man a so-called open compound, when is it hyphenated, when is it one word?

It would be nice if there were rules to cite, but nothing in usage is less orderly than our spelling of compounds. Generally, the more often a compound is used, the sooner it closes up, and in many cases we don't even notice. Our back yards are now, in many dictionaries and stylebooks, backyards, but a front yard is still two words. That's probably because backyard is so frequent: We use it in backyard barbecue, backyard swing set, not in my backyard. That fact does say something about our culture, but it's not something that strikes anyone as ominous.

E-mail and the other wired words, though, evoke not just technology but an identifiable social group -- younger users, early adopters, the writers least likely to care about traditional print styles.

Someday was once written some day, and one day alright will be all right -- if only because today's young rule breakers are tomorrow's editors and teachers. And they'll be alright with that.

Jan Freeman, a former editor at the Boston Globe, has been writing The Word column since 1997. E-mail her at mailtheword@gmail.com. Check out the Word blog at www.boston.com/ideas/theword.

April 4, 2011

Pagicide or Raptricide

So, patricide is killing one's father and regicide is killing one's king......so if it's the child of the king who does the killing, it's .......

Luckily, Wikipedia has many more examples of the phenomenon -

[all of the following quoted directly from Wikipedia entry on patricide]

Sennacherib (r. 704–681 B.C.E.), Assyrian king, was killed by two of his sons for his desecration of Babylon.
Emporor Yang of Sui in Chinese history allegedly killed his father, Emperor Wen of Sui.
In the Greek creation epic, Cronus was poisoned by his son Zeus and wife Rhea (a case of turnabout being fair play ... remember Uranus?).
Apsu, in the Babylonian creation epic the Enuma Elish, was killed by his son Ea in the struggle for supremacy among the gods.

And then there's the combination of matricide and regicide ... magicide or ratricide?

[all quoted from Wikipedia entry on matricide]

Amastris, queen of Heraclea, was drowned by her two sons in 284 BC.
Cleopatra III of Egypt was assassinated in 101 BC by order of her son, Ptolemy X, for her conspiring.
In AD 59, the  Roman Emperor Nero is said to have ordered the murder of his mother Agrippina the Younger, supposedly because she was conspiring against him.

regicide revisited

In 2001 Birendra of Nepal was killed by his son Crown Prince Dipendra in the massacre of the Nepalese royal family; Dipendra proceeded to commit suicide without having been crowned king.

Oedipus was fated to kill his father, a king, and marry his mother. His parents attempted to prevent this by leaving him on the side of a mountain as an infant. He was found and raised by a shepard. Once grown, Oedipus meets his father while his father is travelling and kills him. He then marries his mother to become king, unknowingly fulfilling the prophecy.

Tukulti-Ninurta I (r. 1243–1207 B.C.E.), Assyrian king, was killed by his own son after sacking Babylon.

scary monday here again

tim burton


April 3, 2011


With today's news that one or more (but perhaps less than all? ... he has seven) of Qaddafi's sons are proposing a transitional government that would result in the removal of their father from power, let's think about other sons who have deposed their fathers......

Edward III followed (not unsurprisingly) Edward II who was deposed (but it's not clear that it was Edward III who was doing the deposing).

In Greek mythology, Cronus deposes his father Uranus.

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, current Emir of Qatar, deposed his father Sheik Khalifa bin Hamad bin Abdullah bin Jassim bin Muhammed Al-Thani in 1995.

I'm sure there are others.....


the wsj reports that more than half of Americans 12 and older now have Facebook accounts . . . go figure.

April 1, 2011

april fool's

just realized that stay-at-home moms who have to chauffeur kids to school and then lug them to/from after-school activities, do laundry, clean the house, run miscellaneous errands, shop for groceries, and cook have it much tougher than we working girls who merely get stuck in commuter traffic to/from an 8 or 9-hour day in the office Monday through Friday and then have only to do laundry, clean the house, run miscellaneous errands, shop for groceries, and cook.

okay, okay, okay let's not be bitter on the blog. not the spirit of the thing.

for a less snotty tribute to the day, go to a non-grump and read http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/aprilfool/

Speed is relative.....

"Since light travels at the same speed for all observers, the way a moving person observes the passage of time is different from the way a stationary observer observes the passage of time."


-- http://www.mcm.edu/~christej/S02P1420/Classnotes02/node12.html