Friday, May 30, 2008


This is nifty. I just got this e-mail:

sir !! we have done a job of translation of your beautiful article "why do we artice"? in urdu language.I am editor of literary serial niqaat which is leading journal of urdu world from pakistan. your article is very beautiful.we want to send you a copy of this issue.where?

please send your postal address.we proud to translate your article in urdu.

there is much praise over this.

The essay he's referring to must be this one.

I've had novels republished in Italian, German, and Hebrew. Not long ago, as I posted about on this blog, an essay of mine about the joys of being unemployed was translated into Turkish and posted on various Turkish Web sites. This is the first time anything I've written has been translated into Urdu.

Not that I can read any of the translations mentioned above, of course. But it's nifty to look at them, anyway.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

500 years of experience between them!

This really bugs me. I see companies advertising how many years of experience each of their principals has, and then those years are added up, and the ad says something like, "They have 530 years of experience between them!" *

What strange logic. Experience isn't cumulative in that way.


Heinz Wolfsburger has been working on Volkswagens for 30 years. He's taken courses on various VW models in Germany. He eats and dreams Volkswagens. He can resolve problems with Volkswagens that cause the experts at VW HQ to throw up their hands and drink too much beer. (Fortunately it's German beer, so that's okay.)

Meanwhile, on Facebook, a group of 1,000 Facebook friends, all of them 13 years old, and each of them with six months' experience tinkering with cars of various sorts, decide to form a virtual company named SomeDumbNameInvolvingDigitsAndTheLetterZ, or SDNIDATLZ. They create a snazzy Web site, advertising that they have a cumulative 500 years of experience fixing cars!!!!!

One day, your Volkswagen starts making strange noises and exhibiting other strange symptoms. Who ya gonna call? The pitiful wimp with a mere 30 years of experience, or SDNIDATLZ with 500 years!!!!

* Grammarians would say that, assuming there are more than two principals, the word should be "among", not "between", ** but never mind.

** American *** purists would insist that those commas should be inside the quotations marks, but never mind.

*** I was taught by South African purists.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

David's Definitions for July 2008


(Will appear in the July 2008 issue of Community News)

In ordinary use, this word means false, spurious, or doubtful, especially when referring to stories about the past that almost certainly never happened - for example, George Washington chopping down the cherry tree and then refusing to lie about it to his father. It comes from a Greek word meaning something that is hidden away. Originally, around 500 years ago, it referred to books of magic or other special, supposedly sacred knowledge that was to be kept hidden away from ordinary people. During the 16th century, European scholars were trying to decide which books belonged in the Bible - i.e., were to be considered canon - and which ones didn't. A lot of very strange books were proposed and rejected, especially books filled with magical stories - apocryphal books. During this process, apocryphal took on its modern meaning. The word also has a non-negative meaning, however. Certain books were felt to be religiously important but not truly canonical; collectively, these were called the Apocrypha. (Precisely what books those are has varied over time and varies from one religious group to another.)

I'm collecting all of these at:

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ghastly Excerpt

Galleycat has an item about a new novel, an excerpt from which made galleycat eager to read the whole novel. The excerpt is here.

I feel compelled to offer my own literary reaction to that excerpt: Barf!

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Apparently, only blacks and snooty white folk vote for Obama. According to some Clinton spokeslime, anyway.

Well, I'm white, and I admit that I'm occasionally snooty. Oh, all right: often.

So to that slime, I have this to say: "Snoot."

Space is big

Really big.

This animated gif compares the sizes of various bodies, starting with Earth and ending with the largest known star.

Very kewl.

Monday, May 05, 2008

A Paucity of Posts

Because I don't have anything to say.

I'm home sick today, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to unpauce.

But I still don't have anything to say.