Friday, August 18, 2017

Great Moments in Editing and Signage


It's that time again ...

I hate it when this happens ...


I wonder if breakfast comes with a side of Arrid ...


Someone needs to read the riot act to those unruly ducks ...


Well, yes, I'd consider that to be grounds for divorce ...


Humor in clothing care tags has been picking up of late. I liked this one ...


Some people are better at ice cream than they are at math ...


It's good to lay out the qualifications up front ...


It's not dead. Underemployed, perhaps ...


Same-day delivery. Okaaaaaayyyyy ...


That would be a very good start ...


Great moments in editing and signage. Providing underemployment for editors and proofreaders since ... well ... whenever.

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday - more thoughts then.

Bilbo

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Literal Meaning of State Names


Most of us, in the course of growing up and getting a basic education, learned the meaning of our state names. For instance, growing up in Pittsburgh, I learned that Pennsylvania literally means Penn's Woods - William Penn being one of the founders of the Commonwealth*. Now I live in another commonwealth - Virginia - the name of which means, Country of the Virgin**.

If you never had the opportunity to learn the literal meaning of your state's (or Canadian province's) name, you may be interested in this article from Simplemost - This Map Shows the Literal Meaning of Every State Name.

Of course, there's a difference between the literal translation of the state's name and the realistic translation, which may differ in actual linguistic accuracy.

For instance ...

The literal meaning of Texas is Friend; however, a more up-to-date translation might be Heavily Armed;

New Jersey was named after the English Channel island of Jersey, but might actually mean, What the $%@¢ You Lookin' At?;

Colorado means Sandstone Soil, but lately might actually translate as Primo Weed; and,

Canada's Yukon literally means Great River, although a better translation might be Freeze Your Cojones.

Those are a few of my suggestions ... do you have any others? Leave a comment.

Have a good day, no matter how you translate it. More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

* For more on the difference between a "state" and a "commonwealth," go here. In any case, I don't seem to be sharing in much of that common wealth.

* Not applicable in all cases.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Guest Post


What? Oh, it's you again. Hello.

I'm Lucy, and I live with Bilbo and Agnes's grandchildren. I like them. For humans, they're all right. Bilbo? He's okay, because he leaves me alone. You should, too.


I wrote a post for Bilbo's blog in November of last year because I got tired of reading what Clara the dog was posting, and so I suppose it's time once again to offer my take on current events from a more sophisticated feline viewpoint. You humans appear to be wanting for adult leadership and commentary, so I guess I'll have to step up and fill the gap.

When I last wrote in this space, that distasteful Trump person had - as I predicted - just been elected president, but he hadn't actually assumed the office yet. Now, he has, and you've had seven months to see what you bought. I hope you're satisfied.

We cats are calm, cool, and level-headed. We don't go around insulting and annoying everybody with no good reason. If we don't like you, we let you know ... but this Trump person seems to enjoy antagonizing everybody, even the humans he needs to get things done. I don't think that's very smart. Look at dogs ... they make too much noise, but even they know when to stop barking and act calm. Some of them are a lot smarter than a lot of the people you humans pick to run things on your behalf, and that's saying something.

We cats are quiet planners. We watch and listen and think before we do anything. You humans spend 99.9% of your time talking and less than 1% listening and thinking ... which is how you get yourselves into these messes.

We don't waste motion, and we don't waste time making pointless threats. If you piss us off, we'll get you - but it'll be at the time and place of our choosing and you'll never see it coming.

We're loners, but we recognize the value in cooperating with each other ... there's a reason why a group of big cats is called a pride. You humans might want to think about that, instead of going out of your way to avoid working together. If that scrum of noisy people you call Congress had to hunt together, they'd starve in a week.

And when we hear a tweet, we know it means there's something there worth stalking and attacking. Anyone who spends all his time tweeting is just making noise and drawing attention to himself that he may not really want.

So, if I were you (and I'm glad I'm not), I'd just take a few lessons from the cat world: plan carefully, don't waste motion, listen more, cooperate with each other, and - above all else - stop talking unless you have something useful to say.

But I know you won't do it, so just keep on the way you're going. And good luck with that Trump person. You'll need it.

Have whatever kind of day you want. I'm a cat, and I don't care. Bilbo will be back tomorrow. Until then, meow.

Lucy

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Bilbo's Bucket List, Updated


The last time I updated my bucket list (the things I want to do/accomplish before I "kick the bucket") was in January of last year. Because times change, I thought I'd once again take a look at my list and see if it still reflects my goals. Let's see ...

1. Dance at the weddings of all my grandchildren. If Ava (the youngest) gets married at 21, I'll be 81, so that's probably still doable, as long as I keep myself in reasonable shape. I'm working on it.

2. Hold my first (at least) great-grandchild and tell him/her stories. No change. I will absolutely see and enjoy as many of my great grandchildren as I can.

3. Visit Vienna (Austria), Warsaw (Poland), Prague (Czech Republic), and Budapest (Hungary). St Petersburg used to be on the list, but since we visited there for two days during our Baltic cruise last year (you can read about it and see some of the pictures here), I've taken it off the list, and replaced it with Warsaw, Prague, and Budapest. I'm pretty sure I'll get at least to Vienna one of these days, because it's not all that far from Germany, where we intend to spend as much time as we can.

4. Take a really long cruise with Agnes, to Australia or across the Atlantic to the Mediterranean or something. Yep ... still on the list. But I'm adding a nice river cruise, either along the Rhein or the Danube (which would help with #3, going by Vienna, Budapest, and Prague). We still love cruising.

5. Dance a waltz with Edyta Sliwinska or Sharna Burgess. I'd still love to dance that waltz with the glamorous professionals, but I already know a lot of wonderful ladies closer to home that I can waltz with more often: beautiful and talented friends like Joy, Lioudmila, Judy, and Leslie (she of the "swoopy" waltz) among so many others.

6. Get another Masters Degree. This used to be "Get my PhD," but since I was unable to narrow down the field of study I want and the topic I'd want to do my dissertation on, I've decided that getting a second Masters degree, probably in either in Political Science or Linguistics, is more doable. Perhaps with a dissertation that connects linguistics and politics ... I have a lot of ideas about that, given the linguistic oddities of the current president. Hmmm ...

7. Publish at least one book. Still on the list. My mother told me once that she thought I had at least one good book inside me, and who am I to disappoint her? I have a lot of notes and ideas for both fiction and nonfiction books, but I need to get serious about the writing.

8. Publish at least one article in a magazine. Still on the list. As I noted last year, this is probably easier than writing a full book, and so maybe I can use it to get myself into the writing habit for the longer book.

So, that's the latest revision of my bucket list. We'll see how it goes. And as for you, Dear Readers, how often do you update your own bucket lists? What have you added or deleted? Leave a comment.

Have a good day. Don't kick the bucket any time soon - I need you all. More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

Monday, August 14, 2017

The New Symbols of Hate


The events that happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, when a group of white nationalists and other far-right groups staged a "Unite the Right" rally that degenerated into violence and murder, should shock and dismay everyone who believes in the traditional idea of America as a welcoming and inclusive nation*. And the sad fact that Donald Trump delivered such a weaselly commentary on the situation underscores the utter lack of moral leadership we have at the top of our government.

As you know, I'm interested in language and symbology, and I found this CNN article to be particularly interesting: These Are the New Symbols of Hate. I won't reproduce any of those symbols here, because they don't deserve any more attention; I'll just point out that they are intended to replace the most historically objectionable symbols, such as the Nazi swastika and the "blood drop cross" of the KKK, and help far-right characters identify each other in the murky darkness of their ideas.

As it happens, I have a few suggestions for symbols they could use.

This one seems appropriate ...


As is this one, for those who also consider information with which they don't agree to be "fake news" ...


As for me, I think the right symbol for America is the one we all should honor - 


Have a good day. Don't let the haters win.

More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

* Yes, I know we've not always lived up to that ideal, but we've managed to build a pretty good place in spite of underlying racist ideas and spasms of things like "No Irish need apply."

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Poetry Sunday


It's all in how you look at things ...

Candlelight 
by Tony Hoagland 

Crossing the porch in the hazy dusk
to worship the moon rising
like a yellow filling-station sign
on the black horizon,
you feel the faint grit
of ants beneath your shoes,
but keep on walking
because in this world
you have to decide what
you’re willing to kill.
Saving your marriage might mean
dinner for two
by candlelight on steak
raised on pasture
chopped out of rain forest
whose absence might mean
an atmospheric thinness
fifty years from now
above the vulnerable head
of your bald grandson on vacation
as the cells of his scalp
sautéed by solar radiation
break down like suspects
under questioning.
Still you slice
the sirloin into pieces
and feed each other
on silver forks
under the approving gaze
of a waiter
whose purchased attention
and French name
are a kind of candlelight themselves,
while in the background
the fingertips of the pianist
float over the tusks
of the slaughtered elephant
without a care,
as if the elephant
had granted its permission.

Don't overthink things ... enjoy the candlelight. And don't replace soft candlelight with the ugly glow of misused tiki torches.

Have a good day and enjoy the rest of your weekend. More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Cartoon Saturday


And you thought July was a rough month ...

Country music legend Glen Campbell died this week at age 81 of complications from Alzheimer's Disease; in the midst of a belligerent war of words with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, Donald Trump picked a fight via Twitter with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and threatened military action in Venezuela; popular singer Taylor Swift is in court, accusing a DJ of groping her during a meet-and-greet session; and a Texas megachurch pastor has released a statement saying that Donald Trump has the moral authority to “take out” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Considering that we have a national leader who believes conspiracy theories before he trusts his intelligence community, and a population that will believe the stupidest things, what could be more appropriate this week than a collection of cartoons about conspiracy theories?

Ah, HAH! ...


Jessica Hagy's wonderful blog Indexed nails it ...


Conspiracy theories have always been with us ...


This one goes back a few years, but is no less timely ...


Truth! ...


The danger of finding out the truth ...


The scientific term is Anus Ignoramus Americanus ... 


Conspiracy theorists start early ...


I know this one is true ...


It's all in how you decide to connect the dots ...


Join the conspiracy to encourage the enjoyment of a good day and a great weekend. I'll keep the light on for you.

More thoughts tomorrow, when Poetry Sunday returns.

Bilbo

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Right-Cheek Ass Clown for August, 2017


Ah, yes, Dear Readers, a new month brings new opportunities to recognize supreme achievements in ass clownery. And so it is that I've had to sit down, do extensive research, employ sophisticated algorithms, and then - like our esteemed Tweeter-in-Chief - make a decision informed only by my gut and my conviction that I know a whole lot more than everybody else*.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Readers, as we enter the new month I, have decided to present yet another dual award for

The Right-Cheek Ass Clown for August, 2017


and the award goes to

Kim Jong-Un
and
Donald J. Trump


I would think that this period's award is a no-brainer: two individuals with outsized egos, both of whom revel in the use of bombastic and threatening language, and share an utter unwillingness to back down from painting themselves into corners in which tens of thousands of lives are at stake. What more can I say? Kim's motivation is obvious - he wants to survive, realizes that his very existence is at stake, and thus sees no benefit in negotiation or in giving up the only thing that offers him the ultimate protection. Trump's motivation is equally obvious - he desperately wants to prove he's a tough, strong leader despite his demonstrated incompetence.

The Right-Cheek Ass Clowns for August, 2017, are North Korean strongman Kim Jong-Un and US leader Donald J. Trump. Let's hope some adults find their way into the room**.

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday - more thoughts then.

Bilbo

* I didn't have a sarcasm font to use, unfortunately.

** Here's another, less dangerous way to approach the problem.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

New Discount Strategy


Last week, Angel wrote about a Chinese amusement park that offered a discount on its admission fee for women over 18 who wore miniskirts. This concept could be considered discriminatory, as there was no equivalent discount for men over 18 who wore miniskirts; on reflection, however, the image of most men in miniskirts would argue against the visuals, if not the fairness, of such discounts.

This leads me to a consideration of the use of various types of discounts to encourage economic activity.

As an officially acknowledged old geezer, I'm getting used to the idea of the senior discount, which is widely offered in restaurants and theaters to those of us living on fixed incomes. Various businesses also offer minor discounts for "paperless billing," in which one agrees to receive bills by e-mail (it supposedly saves the business money on postage), or offer a discount for those who agree to pay their bills by a direct debit* of their bank account.

And, of course, there are the standard "happy hour" discounts at bars, in which the discount is based on the time of the customer's visit; an additional discount is sometimes offered for unescorted ladies, to encourage a higher female-to-male customer ratio.

But let's get back to Chinese discount philosophies for a moment ...

I call your attention to this article from the BBC earlier this week: Chinese Restaurant Offers Bra Size Discounts.

Yes, Dear Readers, the Trendy Shrimp restaurant in Hangzhou offers female customers discounts based on their bra cup size ...


The advertisements for this discount first appeared on August 1st, but have apparently since been removed because of complaints from some local people. The restaurant's manager, Lan Shenggang, defended the discounts, however, stating that, "Once the promotion started, customer numbers rose by about 20%." He also noted that "some of the girls we met were very proud - they had nothing to hide."

When your cup runneth over, it really runneth over ... at least at the Trendy Shrimp restaurant.

Have a good day, and come back tomorrow for the naming of our Right-Cheek Ass Clown for August. More thoughts then.

Bilbo

* I don't trust this at all. I pay many bills online, but in a way that allows me to schedule the dates and amounts of the payments ... nobody gets the right to reach into my account and pull money out on their own.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Worrying About The Internet of Things


Agnes and I ordered a new refrigerator last week.

This was no small task, given that one no longer just goes out and buys what we used to call an "icebox" ... nowadays, there are vast numbers of styles and features that are available, depending on how much you need to store and how much you are able and willing to spend. An ice maker is a great feature, as is a cold water dispenser, but there are a lot of other things you can get, too. We actually looked at a refrigerator which had an internet-ready video screen ... not bad if you want to refer to the video for a particular recipe you're making, but a little bit more technology than we really needed. Or felt like paying another thousand dollars for.

That video screen option and the Bluetooth connection it uses make that fancy refrigerator a part of what has become known as The Internet of Things ("IoT") ... a growing network of computers and devices that communicate with each other and - theoretically - make life easier by helping us keep track of things and manage our day-to-day activities. If the refrigerator can tell you you're running low on milk, or that your lunch meat has passed its "best by" date, or your oven can suggest a better way to cook a particular recipe, or your light bulbs can tell you when they're about to burn out, it can only help, right? How about "smart highways" that can measure traffic density, flow, and speed and adjust traffic signals to help speed things along? They make life better, don't they?

Consider recent reports that high-end models of the Roomba automated vacuum cleaner could map your home, collect information, and send it to Google or Amazon or other vendors. And that the microphones in your Amazon Echo or Google Home voice assistants are always on, listening to (and recording) everything they hear around them.

Hmmm ...

The idea of machines getting together and realizing that they're actually more powerful than we are is not new. It's the idea behind horror stories like Harlan Ellison's classic "For I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream," which led to other stories and films like the Terminator franchise and Stephen King's short story "Trucks*." More recently, Jeffrey Deaver's novel "The Steel Kiss" featured a killer who used Internet-connected devices to murder his victims.

Do I need a refrigerator that's smarter than I am? After all, I've managed to buy milk and eggs for decades without the fridge reminding me to do so. Should I worry about the vacuum telling someone how my house is laid out? It depends on whether it's sending that info to a tech-savvy burglar or to someone who wants to sell me carpets.

I'm hardly a Luddite, but I'm starting to get a little concerned about the relationships among the devices we use, especially when I don't know what's talking to what ... or to whom. I guess I'm just a low-tech guy in a high-tech world.

And that bathroom scale better keep its opinions to itself.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

* Later made into a silly movie called "Maximum Overdrive."

** I don't actually have one ... I don't trust them.