Sunday, February 27, 2011

liber - ation

I’d like to suggest an alternate meaning and etymology for a familiar word:

liber – ation n : Freedom achieved by way of a book or books. From Latin liber, book.

This could be used in at least three ways:

  • The liberation achieved by some poor schlub who writes a book that becomes a bestseller, as a result of which he’s liberated from all financial worries and the need to work for the rest of his life. (Of course this refers to a generic poor schlub, not to anyone in particular, and in particular, not to anyone you know.)

  • In the late 1840s, the uprisings across Europe were fueled in large part by books and pamphlets spread clandestinely across the continent. In the 1920s, Hitler’s Mein Kampf played the same role in Germany. In the 1960s, it was the little red book, The Sayings of Chairman Mao. In the 1970s, the Iranian revolution was inflamed by cassette tapes of speeches by Ayatollah Khomeini which were smuggled into the country. Right now, in North Africa and let’s hope soon further to the east, the spark has been provided by the Internet.

    But dictators can and do cut access to the Net. Suppose that in the near future cheap e-book readers proliferate across the world. Then inflammatory books can be spread everywhere, providing a spark to the tinder that dictators will be unable to halt.

  • And now for my favorite.

    As I’m writing this, Muammar Gaddafi seems to be in control only of a shrinking portion of Tripoli, the capital of Libya. The triumphant forces of liberation control the rest of the country and are closing in on him, and the end of his tyranny seems to be imminent.

    At the very same time, the big, traditional New York City publishers are watching with alarm as the rest of the country slips from their grasp. From small beginnings in cities and towns across the nation, the liberating force of self-published e-books has taken control of ever more territory. Day by day, the oppressive, stultifying ancien régime is squeezed into a smaller space and weakened, until in the end the heavy weight, the literary destructiveness, of its dead hand will be thrown off entirely and it will be, to complete the metaphor, decapitated.

    In other words, it will be smashed. Dancing in the streets, the now-free throngs will shout their new slogan: Smashwords!

Whew! I need a cigarette!

Getting the results right away

I don’t care about the Oscars, but if I did care who wins what, I think I’d still be perfectly satisfied to read the full results online once the awards ceremony is over.

Obviously, zillions of people disagree. Some may watch the show to see the actors and actresses in their getups, but many, I gather, like the tension and release of waiting for the announcement of each award.

This puzzles me. It’s akin to my problem with sports. If I cared about which teams win and lose, I’d read the scores online after the games were over. However, I know that most people prefer the tension and release/elation/disappointment of watching it happen live. I’m not talking about people who like the game itself. I’m talking about people who care most of all about the outcome but who nevertheless want to watch the outcome while it actually develops.

I love figure skating and gymnastics, and I used to go to bodybuilding competitions. In all those cases, I’m pissed when I disagree with the scoring and outcome, but that outcome is very minor compared to watching the performances themselves. Here again, if scores where all I cared about, or most of what I cared about, I wouldn’t want to spend time watching the performances. I’d look up the scores and order of finish afterwards.

In keeping with the above , if Black Swan wins anything, I’ll be very annoyed because it was such an awful movie.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Greetings from Tina

I just got this e-mail:

Greeting From Tina
How are you today? and how about your health? hope fine and you are doing well, My Name Is Miss Tina, I am looking for a very nice man of love, caring, honest, matured, understanding, and of good character, then after going to your profile on this site ( i pick interest in you, so i will like you to write me with My E-mail address is ( ) so that i will send you my picture and tell you more about me
Miss Tina

Now, here’s the odd part. The place where she says she saw my profile,, is the Web site of the Boulder Writers Alliance, an organization of tech writers, marketing writers, etc. in the Boulder-Denver area. My profile there has really titillating stuff on it, such as that I’m experienced in FrameMaker and API documentation.

Oooh, baby! FrameMaker!

Who knew that that was a turn on?