Life to a T


One of the numerous catalogues that arrive in the mail at this time of year was the Rosie Nieper T-shirt catalogue. Flicking through the pages made me wonder if all of civilisation’s accumulated wisdom has been encapsulated on T-shirt slogans. Here are some examples:

Out of my mind (back in 5 mins)

I’m not 40. I’m 18 with 22 years of experience

Make tea, not war

Dad. n. A man with pictures in his wallet where his money used to be

Let us remember that in this RICH and BEAUTIFUL world there are only 2 things worth living for — LOVE AND HAPPINESS*

*Oh, OK, and maybe CHOCOLATE

Forbidden fruit makes great jam

"Not a morning person" doesn’t even BEGIN to describe it

Hail to the mocha latte

Boys are strong. Bury them deep

I’m only wearing black until they make something darker

There are other, more risque, ruder, options which I’m not writing here but are viewable at the Rosie Nieper site.

Can you come up with a slogan that sums up life more pithily than any of the above?

Marriage surprises

"I was watching the news the other day when I see that yet another husband is suspected of killing yet another wife who has gone missing. It’s pretty much automatic to suspect the husband in cases like this. This is one of the factors I had not considered before getting married."

Read on at the link below. I wonder if Scott Adams will ever write a detective novel? Would be fun to read, if so.

Link: The Dilbert Blog: Marriage Surprises.

Millions of years of evolution, for this?

Trivia: looking at Bloglines’ top blogs the other day, I discovered this site of which I am sure I should disapprove, but somehow I don’t. It is called Popgadget, and features (you guessed it) gadgets for women. So you can get cable jewelry: make those wires streaming from your computer, audio and visual gadgetry an art feature of your room; bibi cases, "the cutest i-pod (and mac book) covers ever"; a personalisable cover and intempo digital radio; and a digital scrapblog. I think there were also some little creatures that jumped up and down squeaking when your mobile phone rings, but I don’t seem to have kept the link to that one. Anyway, go over and have a look at the links: even if nobody you know would want these for birthday or Christmas, it will give you a taste of the direction in which a little corner of civilisation is heading.

And Write from Karen has quite a good meme:

1. What’s the last thing you broke?
2.What’s the most expensive thing you’ve broken?

(are you detecting a bit of a theme here?)

3. Do you consider yourself clumsy or graceful?
4.How much money do you have in your wallet right now?
5. Someone asks for change when you’re walking down the street: what do you do?

Feel free to answer in the comments (Karen’s are at the link). No obligation 😉

How physics killed Spiderman’s girlfriend

Me linking to a post on Boing Boing is like J K Rowling asking the Kingston local news for some publicity. I gave up reading Boing Boing a while back as there is too much of it, too frequently, but I came across this posting via an aggregate service (Finderoy). It made me smile, not least because the formula is given at the link. You can also go to a video clip on YouTube via the Boing Boing entry, if you are a youtuber (I’m not, I’m just a potato).

Link: Boing Boing: How physics killed Spiderman’s girlfriend.

Blow, blow, thou winter wind

A life coach? No thanks, look what happened to Lear.

So says Richard Morrison of the Times, who has been analysed by the Dr David Lewis Work-Life Balance Formula and been found wanting. He scored 18 out of 100 — "you do not have any balance between your work life and your personal life", Morrison was told. But he strikes back:

"I think the whole idea that people can adjust their work-life balances like twiddling a knob on a thermostat is fatuous. Indeed, I believe that the ever-growing army of “life-coaches” who spout slick psychobabble on this subject may do more harm than good, because they hold out the false promise that people can fundamentally change and improve their lives, when actually most lives are fixed by traits in people’s psyches or external circumstances that are beyond their control.

"Case in point? I always recall poor old King Lear. He thought he could improve his work-life balance by abdicating his responsibilities to his kingdom without properly thinking the details through. He was, in modern jargon, “down-shifting” — albeit on a grand scale. The result? He went bonkers, and his family and kingdom fell apart. What he had before wasn’t perfect. What he had afterwards was private and public anarchy.

Literature is full of these warning-sign figures: people who chase a dream without realising (or realising only too late) that it would mean renouncing something even more important to their wellbeing. Frequently the choice is between money or power on the one hand, and love, integrity or a rich family life on the other. In earlier eras it was well understood that a happy life is as much about renunciation as acquisition. Only in our era do we imagine, tragically, that advances in technology, medicine and of course psychology make it possible for people somehow to “have it all” by twiddling that magic work-life-balance knob. "

Quite. Read the whole article at the link above, I recommend it. And if you want to, you can go from there to the Lewis formula website to see what it says about your life-work balance (I daren’t).

Incidentally, Richard Morrison is also cheerful. The reasons?

"Read and rejoice

Journalists are often accused of peddling nothing but bad news. But in The Times yesterday I see we reported that:

  • Thanks to climate change, English wine could be “magnificent” in a few years;
  • Despite that £60,000-a-week salary, Ashley Cole apparently didn’t join Chelsea for the money;
  • Far from dumbing down, more and more schools are teaching Latin;
  • Win-at-all-costs racing driver Michael Schumacher is secretly a really nice guy;
  • Gordon Brown was grinning madly because he was thinking about his baby boy, not Tony Blair’s imminent demise.

    What a truly joyous world we live in. And you can stop sniggering at the back. This is a cynicism-free newspaper."

  • Richard Morrison’s articles are collected here.

    For Debra (again): a bad sign

    From today’s Times:

    Cyclists in Penarth, near Cardiff, were perturbed when roadwork signs in Welsh told them "Your bladder disease has returned". A computer translation, with confusion between the words cyclists and cystitis, was being blamed for the mistake. The signs should have told riders to get off their bikes.

    The Times 16 August 2006, p 20 (last in column of briefs, no online version).

    Onion ‘celebrates’ Wikipedia

    The Onion has got around to satirising Wikipedia, with an article entitled "Wikipedia celebrates 750 years of American Independence. Founding Fathers, Patriots, Mr T. honored."

    Here’s a taste of what’s in the article:

    "The commemorative page is one of the most detailed on the site, rivaling entries for Firefly and the Treaty Of Algeron for sheer length. Subheadings include "Origins Of Colonial Discontent," "Some Famous Guys In Wigs And Three-Cornered Hats," and "Christmastime In Gettysburg." It also features detailed maps of the original colonies—including Narnia, the central ice deserts, and Westeros—as well as profiles of famous American historical figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Special Agent Jack Bauer, and Samuel Adams who is also a defensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals."

    For the full effect, go to the link.

    Teen heroes and writing about writing

    Anthony Horwitz is one of those few authors writing for older children/teens who has "cracked it", "it" being the elusive goal of writing books that boys are keen to read. (And girls too, of course, but girls are known to love books.) Horwitz’s character, 14-year-old Alex Rider, has long been popular with the reading fraternity but has now become the new cool in the UK. Read all about it on Oasis — readers in the USA, stand by for the movie and the latest teen idol. (I sat through the movie while in York recently, and can vicariously attest to Alex Pettyfer’s appeal to those who like the young James Bond image.)

    Boys may not like reading, but that is not down to paucity of choice. I haven’t been over to look yet, but Kimbofo on Reading Matters reports that Penguin publishers have started a blog (not content with their recent 100 "best classics" list, evidently). Penguin’s blog is apparently by Venetia Butterfield (great name), a commissioning editor; Kim opines that all publishers will soon be following suit if they haven’t already. (My own employer, Macmillan, has long featured a blog by CEO Richard Charkin, and Nature, the journal for which I work, runs several editors’ blogs as well as the excellent Nascent, a web technology publishing blog.) Returning to books, though, as Kim says, how on earth does anyone have time to read the products we are all writing about? I often wonder that myself, as my own book-reading capacity has reduced by about 75 per cent since I started blogging.

    If you have any time for reading about books, however, Elaine Flinn interviews Tess Gerritsen over at Murderati. Gerritsen’s books are very enjoyable, and the interview sparkles. In line with Kim’s sentiments on blogging about writing, I don’t know how Gerritsen finds time to read and endorse so many books as well as writing her own to such a high standard; so far as I am concerned she can stop writing the blurbs (as I’ve read quite a few duds that she’s enthusiastically endorsed) and concentrate on producing (even) more books herself (her output is pretty prodigious as it is — the interview is pegged on the publication of her next at the end of this month).

    Moving on from books, Chris at qwghlm reports that the UK Daily Mail has discovered del.ic.ious. Oh no, for all the reasons he says. At least if you are a scientist you have the option of Connotea instead, if you want to avoid the Daily Mail’s ideas of key topics to tag negatively (genetically modified organisms, fertility treatments and IVF, indeed, science in general) and positively (silly health stories, fashion victims, the home lives of celebrities and how mothers who seek paid employment outside the home are wicked "career women"). One of Chris’s examples of a Daily Mail del.ic.ious top tag is a story about how flip-flops can damage your health. Says it all, really.

    Finally, some decent (non-Daily-Mail) light-hearted links from Paperback Writer.  They sound worth checking out, not least the one about creating a caricature of your most (or least) favourite character online. Other examples in the list include a fractal drawing program and a Jackson Pollock image generator.

    Worst domain names

    I discovered a list of the worst domain names today. It is funny but a bit off-colour so I am not going to give any examples here, but go to the link above if you like rude humour.

    Here’s what the people who put the list together say:

    Attn: Entrepeneurs
    Everyone knows that if you are going to operate a business in today’s world you need a domain name. It is advisable to look at the domain name selected as others see it and not just as you think it looks. Failure to do this may result in situations such as the following (legitimate) companies who deal in everyday humdrum products and services but clearly didn’t give their domain names enough consideration.

    The list of shame is here.

    Tenure for God?

    Here is a great post from Phil at Brandywine Books. It really made me smile.

    "Erin O’Connor passes on a list of reasons why God couldn’t get tenure, and reader Kris at Berkley offers up an opposite list for why He could. From the first list:

    1. He’s authored only one paper
    2. That paper was in Hebrew
    3. His work appeared in an obscure, unimportant publication
    4. He never references other authors
    5. Workers in the field can’t replicate His results.

    From the second list:

    1. The one publication was a Citation Classic.
    2. The Hebrew original was widely translated courtesy of the author.
    3. Being written before journals existed, references were hard to come by."

    Link: Brandywine Books.

    There has to be a rich seam in this concept……