Friday, January 29, 2010
Man's Best Friend :-)
... always having a shoulder to lie on ?
... never having to say "you're heavy" ?
Blogreaders are invited to mail comments giving alternative captions for this photo of yours truly lounging on the sofa to watch TV and having one of our bulldogs 'help' ;-)
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Short Story : "The Feasting"everal of you have asked about the 'real/serious' short story I wrote for Jason's writing competition as an alternative to the Porlock joke (which got yanked[sic!]). Jason's given theme was that we all write about the silhouette of a crow in less than 250 words. Here is my ~150 word story, judge for yourselves :-
© Stu Savory, 2010
The carrion crow landed in the treetop, cawed thrice, then waited silently for the feasting.
Below, the young folks were finishing up their barbeque and getting hopelessly drunk on Granpaw's moonshine. There would be leftovers. Bloody leftovers.
The campfire was dying slowly although all the steaks had not been eaten. Leftovers. Jane was already hopelessly drunk and had fallen unconscious by the barbeque fire. The others joked about her, folded her arms across her chest, put two coins on her eyelids according to the ferryman's tradition, then took a photo for their website. One by one, they too succumbed to the moonshine and fell into a drunken stupor, warmed by the dying embers in the dusk.
Night fell. All was quiet, save for fitful snores.
Only then did the crow fly down. Landing next to Jane and using its sharp beak carefully, it removed the bright coins from her eyeballs. Then the feasting began...
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Back to normal :-)
Back in december I had noted that my readership was dropping off, and wondering whether this was a trend or merely the effect of the Xmas holidays. It appears now that people merely had better things to do at Xmas/Channukah/Winter solstice/New Year, and my regular readers have returned in force. Thankyou! Here's a snapshot I took on friday morning showing the usual weekly cycle averaging ~480 daily again :-)
On the downside, the spam flood in our mailboxes has reached an all time high :-( Our provider lets everything through, merely flagging what it thinks is spam. It catches about 2/3 of the real spam. So I installed a local spam-filter which uses Bayesian statistics to classify our incoming mails depending on their vocabulary and the authors. It has been in service now since May 2009 and has reached 99.91% accuracy. Over some 200,000 mails it made only 176 classification errors. That's the good news. The bad news is that 95% (sic!) of the incoming mail is spam :-( I'm getting 22 genuine mails daily, wifey gets 15 (both averaged over the last 8 months). And BTW you educated folks who write to me have a vocabulary of 29,526 unique words; well writ!
Comments (1) : Four Dinners (UK) : "SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM Oh I'm bored wi this... I actualy had Spam sarnies in my lunchbox at school occasionally circa 1970..... Even more worryingly I actaully ate it!!!!!! ...I even liked it... oh dear....I'm doomed...."
Thursday, January 21, 2010
God's Crosshairs :-(ABC News reports that U.S. military weapons are inscribed with secret bible references by a fundamentalist Christian pentagon supplier of snipers' rifle sights. However, none of the codes refer to "Thou shalt not kill". Oh well, that makes it all right then :-(
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Featherstonehaugh ;-)Back on the 15th, Valerie (UK) asked me to make up a limerick about the pronunciation of Featherstonehaugh (which is Fan Shaw). So here it is :-)
Monday, January 18, 2010
Hello, I'm from Porlock ;-)
es, it was a dark and stormy night when Four Dinners blogged that there was YAWC (Yet Another Writing Competition) underway in the Internet. Mischevious as ever, I decided spontaneously to take the role of the Person from Porlock. If you don't recognise the term Person from Porlock, please read about him before proceeding ;-)
read about it in Wikipedia before you proceed. The photo on the right is an amusing but simple example. When Tony Blair played host to Angela Merkel some years ago, his people hoisted the Belgian flag instead of the German one (they share the same colours, but in different directions and a different order). When they noticed this error, they swapped them during a tea-break, but failed to notice that they had also hoisted their Union Jack upside down! FAIL!ow there is a thing about such competitions; they tend to attract people who may be overly competitive. This can sometimes have some sad implications. The Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which 'people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it'. Again, if you don't know about the Dunning-Kruger effect , please
In a similar writing competition last year I submitted a story about the Dunning-Kruger effect, inspired by Daniel Keyes (author of Flowers for Algernon). Again, if you don't know about that short story please follow the link to learn about this important book. But that competition's comment thread showed no-one had taken the hint :-(
Of course one cannot play the Person from Porlock directly, being unable to interrupt all the writers. So I decided to write a short story so patently bad that the judge/organiser would have to rate it last. Thereby I would lower the average score so far that a higher proportion of the other writers would be at least above average and thus be happy with their result. Cynicism and anarchy subtly combined ;-)
However the organiser had provided for a popular vote as well, so that all the writers could (or had to?) judge all the other entries too. Therefore I had to make my entry so provocative that they would have to think about their own writing too. Checking the rules, I read that any genre was allowed. So e.g. writing something anti-religious or pornography would get people riled up (the competition was based in a red state of the USA). But there might be anti-blasphemy / anti-porn laws there which I didn't know about. So I wrote a provocative Gay joke instead; any genre, it had said :)
Apparently I offended (how?) not only some 'readers' of the short story competition, but also many Gay Rights campaigners in the US who didn't like jokes about gays' stereotypical preference for anal sex. The competition site was 'awash' with mails complaining at the 'homophobic' / 'anti Irish' views on my entry, which had drawn more comments than many of the 'serious' entries, all down to using just ONE word ;-)
As a result, the organiser deleted me from his competition, to stop the criticism :-(
America, of course, has a constitutional right to freedom of speech which was blatently disregarded here :-( America also has a strong tradition of successful 'taboo subjects' comedy, I name but three examples : Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, and Redd Foxx's night club act. Again I have provided the Wikipedia links so you can read up on these people.
Evelyn Beatrice Hall, writing under the pseudonym S.G. Tallentyre, was an English writer best known for her biography of Voltaire. Hall wrote the phrase: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it," (which is often misattributed to Voltaire).
Obviously, the competition organiser didn't believe in this principle either when he caved in to the critics. Neither would he provide me with the comment-thread (for me to document here), preferring to suppress the evidence. Nor would he let me submit a 'serious/innocent' replacement entry. Is he a fair man? Or does he have a problem coping with anarchy? So my mischevious sociological experiment went out with a whimper. Pity really, I was looking forward to relaying the ratings and the comment-thread for your delectation :-) Oh well, there'll always be another time...
By the way, a recently-discovered Assyrian clay tablet dating from around 2800 B.C. bears the inscription: 'Our Earth is degenerate in these later days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching.' Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose ;-)
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Sunday, January 17, 2010
Sapporo 2010 ;-)Reporting the FIS Ski Jumping 2010 World Cup in Sapporo, the local paper's English edition headline was "German Wank comes second in Sapporo" ;-)
Doesn't anybody proofread this stuff? ;-)
Friday, January 15, 2010
Paddy has a rant about the general standard of English spelling. Read the comments thread too, hilarious! It inspired me to recite a modded version of Bearybp's limerick.
Personally, I'd wear one if I ever visited George 'Dubya' Bush ;-)
Elisson has a Japanese CD with a fine spelling mistake ;-)
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Names for the Beasts ;-)
Here in Germany you are not allowed to give your child ANY name. Jesus, Satan, Cthulhu, unpronouncable, provocative,
trademarks and trash names are refused by the registration offices;
Adolf and Josef (as in Stalin) are still allowed though, afaik:-(
As we see, biblical names still predominate. I had expected Mohammed to be up there in the top 10, since the immigrant population (25% of the total in e.g. Berlin) has a much higher birthrate than the indigenous one. Catching up, so maybe next year?
All this is by way of a lead-in to a question which just came in from Petra (Austria) :
It has had several names over the eight years(!) lass. It started off as "Stu Savory's blog". Then as I aged and spread it became "Yclept Ole Phat Stu" (Yclept means 'my name is' and BTW, Phat does NOT mean Fat). Finally, I changed it to 'Eunoia', which is a medical term meaning 'Normal Mental Health', because some - mostly right-wing - blogreaders had doubted this ;-) It is also the shortest English word with all the vowels in it, which makes it interesting for codebreaking exercises, another hobby of mine. "Eunoia" is also the title of a novel by Christian Bök dating from 2001. As a novel it is not my cup of tea. But it is an interesting source of puzzles for my codebreaking classes, because each chapter is restricted to a single vowel, missing four of the five vowels. For example the fourth chapter does not contain the letters "A", "E", "I" or "U". A typical sentence from this chapter is "Profs from Oxford show frosh who do post-docs how to gloss works of Wordsworth." Lipogrammatic writing which uses only one vowel is called univocalic; the frequency distribution of the letters is thus atypical, confusing the would-be codebreakers. And this blog can very confusing; ask 4D :-)
I'm currently considering renaming it The Dunning-Kruger-Effect Blog,
but I'm not sure if anyone would get the joke, he said, self-depreciatingly ;-)
Ah well, better be getting back to Porlock ;-)
Monday, January 11, 2010
Long before Twilightampires have long been a favourite moneyspinner of the entertainment industry. Last year's example being the movie version of Twilight, a hit novel by Stephenie Meyer. Rather than being a scary Christopher Lee movie, Twilight was a romance , dampening every second seat in the cinemas ;-)
Personally, I preferred the old scary-movie films. From 1958 through 1974 Hammer Films (UK) produced 9 movies, the first being the best as usual. I saw them all. All of these were (somehow) based on the 1897 novel Dracula by Bram Stoker.
A rare signed first edition of Dracula by Bram Stoker bears an asking price of $75,000!
113 years ago, the novel owed part of its popularity to the fact that readers were familiar with the concept of vampires, it being a part of folklore relating to the Romanian Count Vlad III (1431-1477(?)) - Vlad the Impaler. So I asked myself what stories were available before Bram Stoker wrote his 1897 masterpiece?
Here are two manuscripts dating from the mid to late 1700s I managed to find :-
The book shown above was written in French by a Benedictine monk in Lothringen in 1749 and was printed in two editions. This version is the German translation with additional notes by the translator, printed in Augsburg in 1751. Note that the book appeared with the official approval of the Vatican. Monastery libraries are great!!!
The book relates mostly fables and second/third hand stories. But it caused the One-True-Church® to order an expedition into Transylvania and surrounding areas (Wallachen, Siebenbürgen and Banat), whose report was presented internally in 1756. This external version was written by George Tallar and published in Vienna and Leipzig in 1784. It claims to be a thorough report, but has no direct evidence of course ;-)
And so we are told, over 260 years ago, long before Twilight, vampires sucked ;-)
Friday, January 8, 2010
Hoarding the treasure ;-)
Macho bulldog Kosmo is still slightly(?) overwhelmed by his New Year present, but there is no way he is going to let go of it while that hungry bitch Frieda is around ;-)
The picture is of course merely a metaphor for the way our big banks are holding out on loans to the little guys while themselves hoarding the HUGE loans they got from the government to save them from failing. Another view of the ugly side of capitalism :-(
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the only person to have survived both Hiroshima and Nagasaki atom bombs,
died on monday aged 93 of cancer. R.I.P.
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