Saturday, December 7, 2019

Thought for the Day



Bytes & Pieces: Literature



When Poe was writing his 1845 poem The Raven, he said he first considered another talking bird, the parrot. Some sources say he also tried out an owl before settling on the raven. In "The Philosophy of Composition," Poe wrote that the raven, as “the bird of ill-omen,” was “infinitely more in keeping with the intended tone.”

Although The Raven was an instant hit and made Poe a celebrity, it made him little money in that there were no copyright laws or royalties for reprinting his work. At the time his wife Virginia was dying and the impoverished Poe and his family were living in sad circumstances.  In 1846, a friend wrote about their pitiful circumstances: “[Virginia] lay on the straw bed, wrapped in her husband's great-coat, with a large tortoise-shell cat on her bosom. … The coat and the cat were the sufferer's only means of warmth.” She died in January 1847. Poe followed two years later.




Isaac Asimov is best known for writing science fiction novels like the Foundation and Robot series, but the amazingly prolific author also penned hundreds of mysteries, short stories, science guides, essays, and even a book of humor. And, of course, he consulted on Star Trek (though only after giving the show a second look).

In 1966, Asimov wrote a critique for TV Guide arguing that the then-current crop of sci-fi shows—including Star Trek—were inaccurate in their depiction of science fiction. Gene Roddenberry, the show's creator, wrote a letter to Asimov defending himself. After admitting that he was a big fan of the author's work, Roddenberry explained that the show hired multiple scientific consultants to ensure accuracy and struggled to produce a new show every week. Roddenberry ended his letter by stating his belief that Star Trek would turn new people—who would purchase Asimov's books—into science fiction fans.

The two men then became friends, and Asimov became a fan of the show. He served as a consultant for Star Trek, giving Roddenberry a few plot and characterization suggestions. For his part, Roddenberry attempted to make a movie based on Asimov's I, Robot, but it never happened under him (both Roddenberry and Asimov had died a decade before the 2004 Will Smith film was in the works).

Gene Roddenberry and Isaac Asimov

In December 1983 Asimov had a triple bypass surgery, during which he received a blood transfusion. Unbeknownst to doctors, the blood they gave him was infected with HIV. Asimov contracted the virus, and it developed fully into AIDS. He died of heart and kidney failure, caused by AIDS, on April 6, 1992.


The first edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in 964, was racist as regards the Oompa-Loompas.  Also, Charlie was originally described by Dahl as "a small negro boy."

When Charlie and the four other golden ticket holders and their parents first spied the Oompa-Loompas Wonka explained that the workers were not made of chocolate, but they “are real people! They are some of my workers!” He had imported the tiny black people “direct from Africa!” They belonged to “a tribe of tiny miniature pygmies known as Oompa-Loompas. I discovered them myself,” Wonka exclaimed. I brought them over from Africa myself—the whole tribe of them, three thousand in all. I found them in the very deepest and darkest part of the African jungle where no white man had ever been before.” Wonka informed Charlie and his companions that the tribe had been starving, subsisting on green caterpillars but longed for cacao beans; “oh how they craved them,” he said. He bargained with the tribe and promised that if they agreed to “live in my factory” they could have all the cacao beans they wanted: “I’ll even pay your wages in cacao beans if you wish!” So, the black pygmies traded their freedom for permanent enslavement and all the cacao beans they could eat. After the tribal leader agreed to stop eating green caterpillars and work for “beans,” Wonka “shipped them over here, every man, woman, and child in the Oompa-Loompa tribe. It was easy. I smuggled them over in large packing cases with holes in them, and they all got here safely.” Because Britain the slave trade had outlawed the trade in 1807, as Wonka alluded to, he smuggled the slaves into England in packing cases, in conditions that sounded almost as horrific as the Middle Passage. And so that no one would miss the point, Joseph Schindelman’s images of the Oompa-Loompas in the book showed them as animal-skin clad jovial Sambos who just loved their labor.


Oompa-Loompa illustration by Joseph Schindelman, 1964 edition


Even though the book was published in the United States 1964, it wasn’t until 1972 when American writer Eleanor Cameron wrote about the racist attributes of the story.  After much debate between Cameron and Dahl, Dahl’s publisher decided that, “To those growing up in a racially mixed society, the Oompa–Loompas were no longer acceptable as originally written. The following year, to accompany its new sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, a revised edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory appeared, in which the Oompa–Loompas had become dwarfish hippies with long ‘golden–brown hair’ and ‘rosy–white’ skin.”



“I created a group of little fantasy creatures…. I saw them as charming creatures, whereas the white kids in the books were… most unpleasant. It didn’t occur to me that my depiction of the Oompa-Loompas was racist, but it did occur to the NAACP and others…. After listening to the criticisms, I found myself sympathizing with them, which is why I revised the book.”
-        Roald Dahl


 Many people mistakenly think that the Monster in the novel Frankenstein is named Frankenstein, when in fact he's never given a name in the novel. Frankenstein is the name of its creator, his creation being referred to in the book by words such as "creature", "monster", "daemon", "wretch", "abortion", "fiend" and "it". Speaking to Victor Frankenstein, the monster says "I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel".

During a telling of Frankenstein, Shelley referred to the creature as "Adam".  Shelley was referring to the first man in the Garden of Eden, as in her epigraph:

Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould Me man? Did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me?

-        John Milton, Paradise Lost (X. 743–45)

Title page of first edition of Frankenstein, Volume I.

Shelley started writing the story when she was 18, and the first edition was published anonymously in London on 1 January 1818, when she was 20. Her name first appeared on the second edition, published in 1823.

Shelley had travelled through Europe in 1815 along the river Rhine in Germany stopping in Gernsheim, 17 kilometres (11 mi) away from Frankenstein Castle, where two centuries before, an alchemist engaged in experiments.  She then journeyed to the region of Geneva, Switzerland, where much of the story takes place. The topic of galvanism (contraction of a muscle stimulated by an electric current) and occult ideas were themes of conversation among her companions, particularly her lover and future husband Percy B. Shelley. Mary, Percy and Lord Byron had a competition to see who could write the best horror story. After thinking for days, Shelley dreamt about a scientist who created life and was horrified by what he had made, inspiring the novel.




Friday, December 6, 2019

Quote for the Day




Funny Friday


------😊😊😊-----

Today is Friday, the end of the week and close to the end of the year.  Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat  . . .

By the way:
That line comes from an old children’s nursery rhyme that was later turned into a song:
Christmas is coming,
The goose is getting fat;
Please put a penny
In the old man’s hat.
If you haven’t got a penny,
A ha’penny will do;
If you haven’t got a ha’penny
God bless you.

Even if you haven’t got a ha’penny (translation: half penny, pronounced hay-penny), here is some humour for free to bring a smile, perhaps even a laugh or two.

Today’s theme is screwdrivers, only because I didn’t think it was possible to extract humour from so mundane an item.

As the word suggests, however, there is some risquΓ© content ahead.

------😊😊😊----

SOME HUMOUR . . .

What's the difference between Bill Clinton and a screwdriver?
A screwdriver turns in screws, Bill Clinton screws interns.

--------oOo-------

A screwdriver walks into a bar.. .
bartender says, we have a drink named after you, to which the screwdriver responds "You have a drink named Eric?"

--------oOo-------

A journalist goes to a poor remote village for a documentary.

He saw an old man and asked him to narrate a typical happy story of his village.

The old man smiled and began: "One day, a long time ago, my goat got lost in the mountains. As is our tradition, all the men of the village gathered to drink vodka first and then looked for the goat. When we finally found her, as is our tradition, we all drank some more vodka and all the men in the village each got their turn to mate with the goat. We had so much fun that day!"

The journalist realized that he couldn't publish such a story so he asked the old man if he had another happy story.

The old man smiled again and started all over again: "Once, my neighbour’s wife got lost in the mountains. As per our tradition, all of the village's men gathered to drink vodka and then went to look for her. As is our tradition, when we finally found her, all the men in the village got their turn to mate with the neighbour’s wife. We had great fun that day!"

The journalist couldn't publish that story either and therefore asked: "Don't you have a story that is less happy; something... umm ... sadder?"

The old man's smile faded. His eyes welled up..... In a sad, soft voice he began:

“One day I got lost in the mountains.....”

------😊😊😊----

FROM THE VAULT . . .

Morris, 86 years old, walked into a crowded doctor's surgery. As he approached the desk, the receptionist said, "Yes sir, how can we help you today?" 

"There's something wrong with my penis," Morris says aloud. 

The receptionist was quite shocked at his reply and said, "You shouldn't come into a crowded surgery and talk that way." 

"Why not?" said Morris, "you asked me what was wrong and I told you." 

The receptionist replied, "But you've caused some embarrassment – this room is full of people. You should have said there is something wrong with your ear or something and then discussed the real problem with the doctor in private." 

So Morris walked out, waited several minutes and came in again. 

The receptionist smiled and said, "Yes sir, how can we help you today?" 

"There's something wrong with my ear," Morris replied. 

The receptionist nodded approvingly and smiled, knowing Morris had taken her advice. "And what is wrong with your ear, sir?" 

"I can't piss out of it," Morris replied.

------😊😊😊------

LIMERICK OF THE WEEK . . .

Another original by moi:

Trump’s aims exceeded his reach
As they now look on if to impeach,
“You don’t get the dough
‘Cept for dirt quid pro quo”
Doesn’t fall within freedom of speech.

------😊😊😊----

GALLERY . . .
  







------😊😊😊----


CORN CORNER:


A guy walks into a bar holding a screwdriver over his head.
"Ladies and gentlemen!" he yells. "This is not a drill!"

--------oOo-------

A large semiaquatic rodent with webbed hind feet and a broad flat tail walks into a bar carrying a hammer and screwdriver.

He starts working on various wobbly bar stools, wonky tables, stuck doors, sagging rails and so on, fixing misalignments and straightening everything up, all the while humming and singing under his breath.

After several minutes of careful work to get everything straight and level he finishes up, takes one last look around, flicks his tail over his shoulder and leaves the taproom.

A man at the bar has been watching the whole time and turns to the barman in amazement. "I've never seen anything like that before," he says. "Who was that?"

"Surprised you never heard of him," answered the barman. "That was Adjustin' Beaver."

--------oOo-------


What do you call a bottle that eats pliers, screwdrivers, and hammers?
A tool eater bottle.

------😊😊😊----

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Quote for the Day



Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year





The Macquarie Dictionary is a highly regarded dictionary of English as she is spoke in Australia and New Zealand.

By the way, English As She Is Spoke is the name of a 19th-century book that sought to translate Portuguese into English.  


The English translations provided are usually inaccurate or incoherent and it is believed that the author, Pedro Carolino, could not speak English, and that a French–English dictionary was used to translate an earlier Portuguese–French phrase book. Hius literal translations have lost the meanings  and resulted in some real howlers, such as translating the Portuguese phrase chover a cΓ’ntaros as "raining in jars", when an analogous English idiom is available in the form of "raining buckets".

Anyway, back to the Macquarie Dictionary, which has announced its word of the Year and the list of finalists.  In my view, some are codswallop. 

To qualify as Macquarie's word of the year, a word must be newly added to the dictionary in that year or, as is the case with "cleanskin", an old word with an additional new meaning.

Macquarie states that it differs from other dictionaries, as some simply choose the most common word being searched, or most topical word, regardless of its status as "new".  The people at Cambridge Dictionary, which chose "upcycling" for 2019, relied on their Instagram account to make the call.  If the Macquarie committee had done this, its 2019 Word of the Year would have been "cheese slaw" (a salad of grated carrot, grated cheese, and mayonnaise), which it admits would have been a "niche and controversial" choice.

My choice from the MD list as Word of the Year would have been “anecdata”: nformation which is presented as if it were based on systematic research, but is actually based on personal observation or experience.

An example close to home:
“Don’t go over the speed limit on Namatjira Drive, the police are always here.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I got booked here once.”

Also an extract from Portnoy’s Complaint by Alexander Roth, which I have previously quoted (I love this book and his writing style . . . ): 
Even in the Chinese restaurant, where the Lord has lifted the ban on pork dishes for the obedient children of Israel, the eating of lobster Cantonese is considered by God (Whose mouthpiece on earth, in matters pertaining to food, is my Morn) to be totally out of the question. Why we can eat pig on Pell Street and not at home is because . . . frankly I still haven't got the whole thing figured out, but at the time I believe it has largely to do with the fact that the elderly man who owns the place, and whom amongst ourselves we call Shmendrick, isn't somebody whose opinion of us we have cause to worry about. Yes, the only people in the world whom it seems to me the Jews are not afraid of are the Chinese. Because, one, the way they speak English makes my father sound like Lord Chesterfield; two, the insides of their heads are just so much fried rice anyway; and three, to them we are not Jews but white-and maybe even Anglo-Saxon. Imagine! No wonder the waiters can't intimidate us. To them we're just some big-nosed variety of WASP! Boy, do we eat! Suddenly even the pig is no threat-though, to be sure, it comes to us so chopped and shredded, and is then set afloat on our plates in such oceans of soy sauce, as to bear no resemblance at all to a pork chop, or a hambone, or, most disgusting of all, a sausage (ucchh! ). .. But why then can't we eat a lobster, too, disguised as something else? Allow my mother a logical explanation. The syllogism, Doctor, as used by Sophie Portnoy. Ready? Why we can't eat lobster. Because it can kill you! Because I ate it once, and I nearly died!



So here is the list from the MD without further comment, from:


Word of the Year:

Cancel culture:
the attitudes within a community which call for or bring about the withdrawal of support from a public figure, such as cancellation of an acting role, a ban on playing an artist's music, removal from social media, etc., usually in response to an accusation of a socially unacceptable action or comment.

Finalists:

Anecdata:
information which is presented as if it were based on systematic research, but is actually based on personal observation or experience.

Big minutes:
a period of time spent by a player on the field, court, etc., during which they maximise their impact, having a substantial effect on the game: playing big minutes despite a knee injury.

Cheese slaw:
1. coleslaw to which grated cheese has been added.
2. Broken Hill a salad of grated carrot, grated cheese, and mayonnaise.

Cleanskin:
someone without any tattoos.
(I only knew of the term as an unlabelled bottle of wine qand as someone without a criminal record).

Drought lot:
a type of sacrifice paddock in which livestock are kept with provisions of water and feed, the confinement allowing the stock to maintain their condition while pasture paddocks can recover more quickly and erosion damage can be minimised in periods of drought.

Eco-anxiety:
feelings of distress and fear brought on by the effects of climate change.

Flight shaming:
criticism or ridicule directed at someone for travelling on an aeroplane because of the carbon emissions and consequent environmental damage produced by such travel.

Healthwashing:
the marketing practice of presenting a food brand or product as being more nutritious or wholesome than it actually is, usually by ignoring or understating the less healthy aspects of the product.

Hedonometer:
an algorithm using language data to analyse levels of happiness, especially data from the social media platform Twitter.

Mukbang:
a broadcast streamed online in which someone films themselves eating, often a large amount, and speaking to their audience.

Ngangkari:
an Indigenous practitioner of bush medicine; healer.

Robodebt:
a debt owed to the government by a welfare recipient, arising from an overpayment of benefits calculated by an automated process which compares the recipient's income as stated by them to the government with their income as recorded by the Australian Taxation Office, a debt recovery notice being automatically generated and sent to the welfare recipient.

Silkpunk:
a subgenre of science fiction which draws on Asian history and culture for setting and aesthetic.

Thicc:
curvaceous; voluptuous.

Whataboutism:
a technique used in responding to an accusation, criticism or difficult question, in which an opposing accusation or criticism is raised.



Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Thought for the Day



Models from 100 Years Ago, Part 2



Marjorie Leet in 1924


Marjorie Leet was born in 1904 in Iowa, USA. She was an actress, known for Encounter (1952) and On Camera (1954). She died in 1994. 



-----oOo----

Maude Fealy in 1908


Maude Fealy (1883 – 1971) was an American stage and silent film actress whose career survived into the sound era.  Fealy died on November 10, 1971, aged 88, at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California.


 -----oOo----

Connie Stuart in 1899


I have not been able to locate any information about Connie Stuart.

-----oOo----

Evelyn Laye in 1922


Evelyn Laye, CBE (1900 – 1996)[1] was an English actress who was active on the London light opera stage, and later in New York and Hollywood.  Awarded a CBE in 1973, Laye continued acting well into her nineties. It was reported after Laye's death that the Queen Mother had petitioned the then Prime Minister John Major for Laye to be awarded the DBE (damehood).





-----oOo----

Belle Otero in 1891


Agustina del Carmen Otero Iglesias (1868 – 1965), better known as Carolina Otero or La Belle Otero, was a Spanish actress, dancer and courtesan. She had a reputation for great beauty and was famous for her numerous lovers.  Otero wound up as the star of Folies BΓ¨rgere productions in Paris. One of her most famous costumes featured her voluptuous bosom partially covered with glued-on precious gems, and the twin cupolas of the Hotel Carlton built in 1912 in Cannes are popularly said to have been modelled upon her breasts.

Otero retired after World War I, purchasing a mansion and property at a cost of the equivalent of US$15 million. She had accumulated a massive fortune over the years, about US$25 million, but she gambled much of it away over the remainder of her lifetime, enjoying a lavish lifestyle, and visiting the casinos of Monte Carlo often. She lived out her life in a more and more pronounced state of poverty until she died of a heart attack in 1965 in her one-room apartment at the Hotel Novelty in Nice, France.

A Bela Otero, Valga, Pontevedra






Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Thought for the Day



From the Vault: "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar"

From Bytes, 28 January 2010:


“Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”




Although this is often attributed to Sigmund Freud, there is no record of him ever having said it or written it.

It appears that the quote may be an adaptation of the phrase “Sometimes a banana is just a banana” used in an early Saturday Night Live sketch, as follows:

Announcer: And now, Great Moments in Herstory, a celebration of women through the ages.
[Dissolve to a finely appointed sitting room, complete with globe, couch and easy chair. A narrator reads a superimposed text as it scrolls by.]

Narrator: Vienna, April 12th, 1908. In the quaint old house at number nineteen Berggassestrasse, Doctor Sigmund Freud has been making bold advances in the treatment of mental illness through a new technique involving the interpretation of dreams. His pioneering efforts in the face of repressive Victorian attitudes will ultimately lead to the development of the Fifty-minute hour, over-use of the word "relating", and a rash of bestsellers with personal pronouns in their titles. Now, for the first time, he is about to practise his new method on a member of his own family: his daughter Anna, later to become a brilliant analyst in her own right. Little does he know he is on the threshold of revealing the secrets of the human mind by Fathering modern psychoanalysis...
[During the above, bearded, bespectacled Sigmund Freud enters, places a cup of tea on a table beside the easy chair, pulls a book from a bookcase and, while thumbing through it, makes his way to the easy chair. He sits and reads. His young daughter, Anna, enters, taps him on the shoulder and climbs into his lap. They speak with heavy Viennese accents:]
Sigmund Freud: Hello, Anna. How did you sleep, Liebchen?
Anna Freud: Oh, I slept very well, Papa. You know, I had the strangest dream, though. I dreamt about a man who looked just like you.
Sigmund Freud: [sipping tea] Mm hm.
Anna Freud: He had a beard just like yours. And he was old enough to be my father.
Sigmund Freud: Ya.
Anna Freud: I couldn't figure it out. And then, he was sitting on your bed, Papa.
Sigmund Freud: Uh huh.
Anna Freud: Along with all my male cousins. And they were all bound and gagged except for one arm. And everybody was bare naked.
Sigmund Freud: [gets increasingly "turned on" as she proceeds] Mm hm.
Anna Freud: And they had bowls of fruit in their laps, you know?
Sigmund Freud: Mm hm.
Anna Freud: And everybody kept offering me a banana. I was not hungry for a banana, though, you know? Except when the man with the beard offered me the biggest and ripest banana. [Sigmund shifts uncomfortably and sets down his tea cup] Oooh, Papa, that was the only banana I ate. Oooh, and then the bed turned into a train, Papa.
Sigmund Freud: Ya?
Anna Freud: And it went through a tunnel. And we came out of the tunnel [Sigmund holds up his trembling hand as if he is about to grab Anna's torso] and then I fell and I fell and I fell and the man with the beard fell and fell and fell. [abruptly] And then we both smoked a cigarette. [Sigmund lowers his hand and cools off considerably] Papa, what did that dream mean?
Sigmund Freud: It doesn't mean anything, Anna. It's only a dream. Sometimes a banana is just a banana. Anna?
Anna Freud: Yes, Papa?
Sigmund Freud: Please don't mention this to Mama.
Anna Freud: [toys with his necktie] Oh, I won't. [They give each other a hug.]
Announcer: This has been another [dissolve back to the title graphic] Great Moment in Herstory!