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December 31, 2005

Where’s the veef?

My son Nathan and I were today discussing how we Bostonians abbreviate street names. We call Commonwealth Avenue “Comm Ave” and Massachusetts Avenue becomes “Mass Ave.” We noticed that many of the local three-syllable streets have meaningful nouns for their first syllable. So, we could call Washington St. “Wash,” Chestnut Hill Avenue “Chest” and Beacon Street “Beak.” Yes, technically Beacon only has two syllables, but we want to be able to say we live near the intersection of Wash and Beak, and not far from Chest and Beak.

Despite the Boston passion for abbreviations, we tend not to shorten “VFW Parkway.” Nathan noticed that that’s seven syllables, and thus could be the heart of a haiku. Here goes:

The name is too long:
VFW Parkway.
I call it “The Veef.”

Or perhaps you prefer a non-scanning Limerick:

In Boston we tend to abbreviate
the names of long streets, to alleviate
the rush and confusion
of syllables in profusion
That if said would make us extremely late.

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The Microsoft Lobby and the railroading of Peter Quinn, and

Tad Adelstein lays out Microsoft’s political influence — the raw type that has dollar signs and zeroes — in a specu-factual sort of way. Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff make appearances.

I still want to know who prompted the investigation of Peter Quinn, the Massacusetts CIO who pushed for the state to use only apps that support open standards. Quinn was investigated for taking junkets, charges that were subsequently found to be baseless. Quinn nevertheless resigned a couple of days ago.

Since the Globe trumpeted the charges, and then piccolo-ed Quinn’s exculpation, I’d think the Globe would want to know who played them like an out of tune violin. (Hmm. Technically, that wasn’t a mixed metaphor, just a failed one.) [Tags: ]

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December 30, 2005

Spirituality of the first and second degree

Rageboy‘s incredible list of NewAge++ titles has made it to the top of Amazon’s “So You’d Like to…” lists.

Meanwhile, AKMA responds on his blog to the fascinating comment thread attached to my brief posting about Daniel Dennett. AKMA writes beautifully, starting with the title of his post: On Certainty of Others’ Folly [Tags: ]

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Logitech’s auto-escalating customer support

I posted a question to the Logitech customer forum because my new MX1000 mouse seems to pull downward— I have trouble getting it to point precisely where I want it, so I’m doing a lot of mis-selecting. Today I received an auto-mail message from Logitech telling me that they’ve noticed that no one replied to my question, so they’re escalating it to a human Logitech support person.

Cool!

BTW, if you care about the problem I’m having with the mouse, you should know that I have another Logitech mouse (a Click! model) plugged in simultaneously and it doesn’t have that problem. Yes, I have the latest drivers. [Tags: ]


It turns out that laser mice like slick surfaces. So, I’ve taped a shiny page from a magazine to my mouse pad and the mouse is working much better now.

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Two reviews

King Kong defines what it means to get your money’s worth. Now that’s movie making! Yes, it’s “just” an entertainment, but you try imagining an entertainment like that.

Peter Jackson (with Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens) is an incredible story-teller. The Skull Island segment is a non-stop 45-minute (30 min? 60 min? I wasn’t checking my watch) action sequence that’s brilliant in its choreography, visual imagination, clarity and articulation. As the twists twisted, I was laughing with glee at such barrelhouse film-making.

And it’s not just chest-beating and dino-bashing (much as I liked both those things). Jackson gets at the mystery of inarticulate connection in a way that the original did not. In fact, he gets at it in a way that few have.

So, no, not great art. But great entertainment.


March of the Penguins can’t help but be fascinating since the life cycle of emperor penguins is so unintelligently designed that it’s as close to fiction as facts get. The movie is awesome.

But…

First, it goes on too long. (I know that’s the usual complaint about King Kong, but I would only have cut a few minutes out of the final battle.) The penguins drudge across endless frozen vistas. The penguins huddle. Got it.

Second, it doesn’t answer some obvious questions, including: “How the hell did they make this movie?????” and “What would have happened if having humans around disrupted the penguins’ reproductive cycle?” (If an emperor penguin had set up a camera in our bedroom, I can guarantee you that we wouldn’t have had children.) Fortunately, there’s a “making of” feature on the DVD that does answer those questions and more, including how exactly the feathered comedians get it on. [Tags: ]

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Guts

According to a story in the WSJ by Geoffrey A. Fowler and Juying Qin:

“In a rare show of resistance for China’s state-controlled media, many editors of the daily newspaper Beijing News refused to work Thursday after authorities sacked its top editor for leading coverage criticizing the government.”

From what we know, these are heroes. And heroes are so often sparks:

China’s active community of bloggers was quick to report and denounce Mr. Yang’s departure. One Beijing News editor wrote on his Web log, “There is no way to retreat. The butcher has lifted a knife … so let’s just die in a beautiful way.” That posting was later taken down by its host Sina.com, but other bloggers continued to re-post the comments by displaying a graphic image of the original posting.

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Saf in a snit about pre

William Safire is agitated by the use of prefixes as stand-alone words, as in “super” and “intro.” Personally, I have noticed that when my children say “Thanks,” I am likely to respond “Welc.” For no particular reason.

BTW, Safire’s agitation is actually a pretext (thin) for a not-very-fresh rant about the meta-ing of culture. [Thanks to David Isenberg for the link.]

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December 29, 2005

Africa Quiz

Ethan Zuckerman has put together a 10-question quiz about the year in Africa. 60% is a high score, Ethan says. The good news: You couldn’t do worse than me. Note to self: Must read Global Voices more.

And on his blog, Ethan crunches some numbers to show the growing presence of Chinese blogs. For example, MSN is hosting at least 2 million Chinese language blogs. And Ethan wonders if blogs on Bokee, the popular Chinese blogging platform, are even showing up in the statistics. Says Ethan: “Researchers hoping to make broad statements about weblogs are going to have to start getting profoundly polylingual.” [Tags: ]

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Top Tens

I suffer from a brain deficiency that keeps me from being able to compile comprehensive lists. If asked to name the top three bodily functions, I’m likely to remember “breathing” two days after I’ve turned in the the test. I actually had to come to an accommodation with a CEO I reported to because he liked to go around the table and ask for list-y information, e.g., “What will be the top three threats we’ll face in the next 18 months.” I freeze.

Anyway, I enjoy a good top ten list as much as anyone. For example, J.D. Lasica has a list of the “Top 10 Tech Transformations of 2005.” The only things I can think to add are wifi (particularly the municipal version of it) and AJAX.

At AlterNet, Tai Moses has The Ten Best Top-Ten Lists. Of these, the Top 10 Grocery Lists from Grocerylists.com is the oddest.

Anyone have a top ten list of top ten lists of top ten lists? The year can’t end until we’ve gone meta-meta! [Tags:]

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Dream word

Last night I dreamt that I ran into someone I knew as an acquaintance (not someone I know in waking life, fwiw) who’d gotten married a couple of months earlier. So, I told her congratulations. A few minutes later I realized this was the third time I’d run into after the wedding, and each time I’d congratulated her.

I was explaining this to a friend (in the dream), feeling chagrinned, and said we needed a word for this particular social faux pas.

My friend (or maybe I) suggested “Exaggulations.” [Tags: ]

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