Book Review #28

Days of Future Passed

The shape of things to come!  This author was prescient.  This is where it all began, or at least, a big part of it.

The book: Neuromancer

The Author: William Gibson

The Review:
This book was written in 1984.  I had a chance to read it over 30 years ago.  The son read it, but I passed on the opportunity.  It would not have had the effect on me back then, as it did to read it recently.  I read a post by a blogger who was doing what I am doing, taking old Science Fiction books out of storage, and re-reading them.  His description intrigued me, so I got a 2010 re-published copy from the library.

The story itself is not all that exciting –by today’s standards.  His protagonist is a computer hacker who can mentally access, not merely individual computers, but can surf the entire Internet.  Of course, the author doesn’t call it that.  The term, and the function, did not exist back then.  He did not coin the term Cyberspace, but this book popularized it.  Soon, readers and other authors were regularly using it.

In 1984, computers, and their interconnectivity, were far less common than in his then-future fiction.  Since he couldn’t call it the Internet, he coined the term The Matrix.  While this author, and this book, are not completely responsible, they both heavily influenced Tron, and the three Matrix movies.

The précis reminded me of Johnny Mnemonic.  A bit of research revealed that, 17 years later, he shuffled some concepts around and wrote the novel that another Keanu Reeve movie was based on.  Microsoft had incorporated in 1981, but the microsofts (small m) that the hacker uses to jack in, are nail-sized inserts that plug into a socket at the base of his skull, like Sim-cards, or SD cards.  They contain relevant data, and operating code – the Apps of their time.

The plot involves the hacker either slicing or surreptitiously oozing past security protocols, to free a manacled A.I. – Artificial Intelligence.  The story also contains a couple of computer ‘Constructs’, which are essentially the uploaded knowledge, experience and personality of hackers who were killed while online.

This author impresses me like the deaf composer, Ludwig von Beethoven.  He conceptualized huge amounts of technology that he couldn’t see, but which later came to exist.  Finally, there is another peculiarity, not of the story, but of the particular copy of the book that I received.

It is in the page numbering.  Each page is numbered in the lower corner.  Each number is underlined.  The underlining on the right-hand, or Recto page, extends to the edge of the page, across the thickness of the sheet, and continues till it underlines the number on the left-hand, or Verso page.

Infinitesimally and imperceptibly, the numbers and the underlining rise and fall several times through the book.  If you firmly close the book and look at the lower edge, the ink forms an EEG brain-scan readout.

Thirty For Fibbing Friday

No theme this week, so pensitivity101 wants to see where your imagination takes you with these.

  1. What is a bandana?

That is the industry term for the female leader/singer/writer of a rock musical group – someone like Chrissy Hynde of The Pretenders, lamenting the loss and urbanization of rural Ohio, in her song My City Was Gone.
2. What is a rum baba?

It’s what alcoholic sheep drink.
3. What is a marinade?

It’s a new flavor of cooling, summer drink, that tastes like seafood.
(And seagull shit, seal snot, whale sperm, and rotting kelp – sales are not good!)
4. What is an asset?

A pre-pubescent female Kardashian child.  They usually have names only a drug dealer, or psychotherapist could love – like Chicago, Psalm, North, Saint, Penelope Scotland, True, or Reign)
5. Who was Apollo?

He was the male half of the former American pop singing duo, Paul and Paula, best known for their 1963 million-selling, number-one hit record, “Hey Paula”.
6. What is meant by BYOB?

Times are tough, and finances are tight, even among the monied elite.  Unless you’re someone like Randy Andy, attending a NXIVM party, where all the willing female company is paid for, it means you have to Bring Your Own Bimbo.
7. What is a pekingese?

It’s my favorite variety of Chinese cuisine.  The duck is tasty, if a bit dry and chewy.  It’s hard to find a restaurant that serves it though.  They only exist where stray cats are plentiful.
We no see you cat.  You stop ask.
8. What is a crockpot?

This is the ridiculously wrong information, answers and opinions that you will receive from someone who just had their medical marijuana’ prescription filled at one of the now ubiquitous cannabis dispensaries.
9. What is meant by upbeat?

This happens mostly, though not exclusively, in Southern, Appalachian, America.
(High School is open agin.  Y’all git yer lazy ass outta bed and go, or ah’ll whup ya good!)
10. What does it mean to recycle?

It’s when you’ve had to give up working from home for a day and rode your bicycle all the way to the office – only to find that you’ve forgotten your office key at home.

Speaking English Like A Frenchman

In 1066, William of Normandy rowed across The Channel, became William the Conqueror, and took England.  In a spirit of fairness, his descendants gave scores of words to the ‘English’ language.

Here is a list of French words and phrases that are commonly used, but have not officially been adopted.

Je ne sais quoi – a special, indefinable quality
Her fancy clothing had a certain je ne sais quoi.

Habitué – a person frequently visiting a place
As an habitué of the bistro, he headed to his usual table.

Billet-doux – a love letter
Stewart’s first novel was a billet-doux to his home town.

Bric-a-brac – a collection of ornaments
Among my aunt’s bric-a-brac was a glass angel that she treasured.

Flāneur – one who idly strolls around and observes
Paul spent the day as a flāneur on the streets of Montreal.

De rigueur – required by fashion or convention
A jean jacket is simply de rigueur this season.

Esprit de l’escalier – a perfect retort, formulated too late
A comedian went home after being heckled, and finally delivered his esprit de l’escalier to the cat.

Sang-froid – self-possession under stress (literally – cold blood)
The butler retained his sang-froid during his employer’s crisis.

Ā la carte – ordered separately from a menu
Not hungry enough for a set meal, Terri ordered baked potato and creamed spinach ā la carte.

Renaissance – cultural revival or rebirth
Toronto’s restaurant scene was undergoing a renaissance.

Contre-jour – with a camera facing the light
Matt positioned his grand-nephew contre-jour to produce a halo effect.

Armour-propre – self-worth
Getting dissed by a nerd wounded Rory’s armour-propre.

Éminence grise – a person with no official title, but great influence
Years of insightful posts had made Archon an ėminence grise in the blogosphere.

Laissez faire – a non-interference approach
Small businesses benefit from laissez faire economics.

Roman ā clef – thinly-veiled novelistic accounts of real people or events
George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a roman ā clef about the Russian Revolution.

I prefer to speak my French in plain English.  Aside from a couple of these which have finally been naturalized into the language, I don’t use any of them.

’22 A To Z Challenge – L

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was going to be sure that I had an L of a post for this letter, then I thought, “Why be satisfied with half-measures?  Let’s go for a Double L version.  Words with two Ls in them are fairly common, but I have several which begin with two Ls.

I recently read a user strongly questioning silent letters in English words – particularly the silent G in words like ‘sign.’  Often, silent letters perform the same functions as accents in French, or Spanish.  They tell you how to pronounce the word.  If there were no G in sign, it would be a sin.

The Welsh language is well-known for its rather cavalier, creative spelling.  It has used a couple of its superfluous Ls to build names with.  There is (Desmond) Llewellyn, who was James Bond’s Q foil in several 007 movies.  His name means that he is a leader.

There is also the Welsh name, Lloyd.  Lloyd is a Welsh surname originating with the Welsh adjective llwyd, most often understood as meaning “grey” but with other meanings as well. The name can be used both as a given name and as a surname.  There is Lloyd Bridges, who went on a Sea Hunt, and then for an Airplane ride, and Doc Brown – Christopher Lloyd.

Not to be out-done, South American Spanish has also given us a couple of double-L words.  The funny animal that lives in the Andes is a Llama.  The funny animal that lives in the Asian mountains is merely a lama.  When you descend from the Andes, you might come out onto the llano, which is a flat plane.  It started as a ‘plano,’ but spelling drift is inevitable.

I’d like to blame these double initial letters on something like pronunciation rules, but I find no such basis.  😀

Smitty’s loose Change #18

Live a good life.

If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by.

If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them.

If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.

***

MSN Headline
City in Ontario may be the most miserable in the US.

Can you tell me what’s wrong with that sentence?   😯

THE PIPES, THE PIPES ARE CALLING

They called one company ‘Sider Plumbing.’  Putting siding on homes or buildings occurred long after surnames were assigned.  This is not likely an English name.  Here in ex-Berlin, it seems that it might be German, but research tells me that it (used to be spelled Seider) is Yiddish/Jewish, meaning prayer book.

Less than a week later, they called another, ‘Teahen Plumbing.’  I know what a peahen is.  She is a female peafowl.  Only the males are properly called peacocks.  What is a ‘Teahen?’  It’s a surname that began as Teahan.  Irish (Kerry): reduced Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Téacháin ‘descendant of Téachán’, a personal name probably derived from teitheachán ‘fugitive.’. Many regard plumbers as crooks.  It is not a name for one to brag about.

***

If you want to know why we are here or what your ultimate, divine purpose is, you should accept that the answer is either 1) unknowable or 2) nonexistent. Either way, demanding that your worldview include answers to these types of questions, completely unvetted by reason, is childish and irresponsible. The universe doesn’t owe you answers and is not obligated to make sense to the likes of you. These questions will never be answered (even if an answer actually exists). Stop pretending you’re important enough to deserve an answer, and that you’ve found the answer when you haven’t.

***

Like Father – Like Son

Once upon a time in the dark mists of the past, I published a vignette about how I inconvenienced a gold-crucifix-wearing young woman into removing a shopping cart she’d abandoned in a handicap parking space.  Channeling his Father, the son recently got a chance to duplicate the feat.

Coming home after a long night at work, he stopped at the local supermarket.  Even with a stiff/sore leg from a hard shift, and a Handicap Permit in the car, he didn’t park in any of the reserved spots, nearest the store, instead, pulling into the next one in a row.

As he came out, a man ahead of him pushed a cart with a green, plastic You-Pack bin, and a bag of groceries into the middle of a handicap spot.  Abandoning the cart there, he carried his haul to the next lane, and put them in the trunk.

The son was aghast!  “You ignorant, arrogant, selfish, thoughtless asshole!  He grabbed the cart, bumped it over a curb, placed it broadside in front of the guy’s car, and stood beside it, glaring.  The Asshole came bustling out of his car.
What the Hell are you doing?”
“I’m abandoning this cart here, just like you abandoned it in a handicap spot!”
“What do you expect me to do about it?”
“Put it away, where it belongs, either in the cart corral, or back in the store!”
“I’m busy.  I have places to go.”
“I’m not.  I just got off work.  I have all day.”

It turned out that Mr. Abandonment Issues wasn’t nearly as busy as he claimed.  The son detests confrontation.  He said, “I was shaking all the time – but it felt so good.”  Not bad for a second-generation Atheist!  😎  I am so proud of him!

***

Church: “Our church is on fire!  Please send help.”
911: “All our engines are busy helping tax-paying customers.  Have you tried praying?

***

When the wife’s OCD spills over into her cooking,  (Less and less these days.  I am making more and more one-pan meals) the exactly correct utensil must be used.  We can’t measure out one cup of milk in a graduated two-cup measuring cup.  We can’t whip up a small amount of sauce in an easily-accessible, large bowl.  And cutting boards…… 😯

I just donated three lightly-used cutting boards to Goodwill.  How many do we have left??!  Is it one?  Three?  Eleven?  Or Oh-My-God??!  That’s a trick question.  The real answer is somewhere between eleven, and Oh-My-God.

We have them in pine, fir, maple, ash, poplar and bamboo.  We have soft plastic, rigid nylon, glass, and Plexiglas.  We have them with holes, and hang-up handles, but nowhere to hang them.  We have them with rubber feet, so that they don’t slip on a counter.  We have them from a tiny, pâté or soft cheese server, barely larger than my palm, up to one that covers the double kitchen sink and lets us carve a 25 lb. Christmas turkey.

’22 A To Z Challenge – J

 

Jesus, Jeremiah, Jumped-Up, Jehoshaphat, Jehovah!!  Here it is, time to have a J post ready for the A To Z Challenge and, as usual, I don’t have a single black pixel on the virtual white page.

The wife thinks that I am a procrastinating Jackass.  The son says that I am a lazy Jerk.  The daughter is not as Judgmental.  She just sits on the sidelines and Jeers.

I took a short Journey, out to a shopping mall, now that they have re-opened after COVID.  It was Just a little Jaunt to the now-legal cannabis Joint, to buy a…. Joint. I met a Jolly old man with a bushy, white beard.  He assured me that he was Jovial, but not Jocular.  He was dressed in strange, all-red clothes, and was even more rotund than me.  He laughed a lot, and his midriff shook like a bowlful of Jelly.

He said that I deserved to get coal at Christmas, but EPA regulations restricted him to giving me a miniature wind turbine.  He assured me that I was so mouthy garrulous, that I could charge all my electronic gadgets with it, if I just kept talking at it.  I thought that was a bit Juvenile, but probably Justified.

After Jawing with him, I Judged that it was time to get me and my cowboy boots, which do not go Jingle-Jangle-Jingle, over to the men’s cooking class at the supermarket.  Today’s food category would be Jell-O salads.  The wife doesn’t like them.  The only time I get some is at a buffet restaurant.  As one of ten children in a Good Catholic family, she associates them with “Poor Folks” food.

Today’s was a Jewel of a lesson – a gourmet recipe for wiener Jell-O salad.  I Jotted down all the preparation instructions, every Jot and tittle of them.

Stop back on Wednesday.  After you’ve read my post, I’m throwing a picnic.  I hope you like frankfurters.  I’m just not grilling them.  Y’all come, now.   😉

What If??  What If?? What If??

Oh goody!  We’re going to play a game of What If.  I have not been amused or entertained by one of those for years.

Let’s say you were in a naval battle in the middle of the ocean and your ship was destroyed so you are in very cold water. You know that you need to act now to get on a ship or you will die. Now there are 4 ships that you can swim to. But it looks like all the ships are very badly damaged and unlikely to be seaworthy enough to save you. It’s hard to tell from your position but as best you can tell one ship has a 5% chance but the others have less than a 2% chance of being seaworthy enough to save you. 

What do you do? Do you think well no one has “proven” or “verified” that any of these ships will save me so I might as well die in the water? Or do you start swimming to the ship that gives you a five percent chance (the best shot)? I think that is the obvious choice. You are not in a position to demand “proofs” or “verification.” You just have to make do with the information you have. 

I think this is analogous to the situation we are in when it comes to how we should live. We can’t pause our life until someone can prove how we are supposed to live. We choose to act or not act all the time. And we can’t insist on verification or proof beyond what we have. We just have to take our best shot. 

For me I think following Christ’s teachings is the “best shot.” I may wish I had better evidence or proofs but reality does not bend to my wishes. The rational person bends his beliefs and actions to reality.

People often believe that they are thinking, when all they’re really doing is rearranging their prejudices.  So, you’re going to dream up a scenario that is so outlandish and restrictive, that it makes your already-decided-on choice look good barely acceptable.

I am disturbed that you would advocate a selection with a 95% chance of failure, but, as you inferred, It’s (barely) better than nothing.  Desperation is not considered a good method of choice.  It usually results in wrong decisions.  Even choice is a bad method.  You can attend a Christian church, and repeat all the magic words, but it won’t produce the honest, true-hearted Belief that the unwritten rules call for.

I’d like to ask what mechanism you used to determine what percentage of success your choice, both in real life and in your specious analogy, had.  I see none, other than desperation and gullibility – only an unproven claim.

Unlike your fantasy-novel format, in real life it is both possible and advisable to do some research, so that you don’t end up in these religious shipwreck scenarios.

What if that water isn’t as cold and deep as you believe?  What if you were just told that, by the guy who runs the life-preserver franchise?  What if, no matter which ship you swam to, it sank and drowned you?  What if the ship you chose was an enemy vessel, and the agents of Allah tortured you to death?  What if you stopped panicking, and used your strength and determination to swim toward the big orange rubber raft that the rescue helicopter just dropped, labelled Reason/Reality?  What if you’re not Captain James T. Kirk, and there just is no right answer?

What if you summarily dismiss all of my What Ifs, because you think that they sound almost as silly as your What Ifs??!

’22 A To Z Challenge – H

 

Benny Hill!  Benny Hill!  Benny Hill!

What can you say about Benny Hill?

He was a mediocre actor, a funny TV comic, and a brilliant writer and comedian.  To be the writer and comedian, he was also a brilliant linguist, sometimes making puns and jokes in two and three languages.

He got “Son of a bitch!” past the BBC censors by claiming that a French skit character spoke of, ‘Ze sun, over ze beach.’

He talked about having a bent wood chair in his dressing room.  Not a Bentwood Chair – but a bent wood chair, because his dressing room was in the damp, BBC basement.

With the moving of a couple of letters on a sign, he turned
Dr. Johnson
the
rapist

Into

Dr. Johnson
therapist

Not only was he familiar with French and German, but quite knowledgeable about regional British accents, where, if you travelled 50 miles, the common folk could not be understood, and bread rolls had changed names.  Sometimes he used words and phrases that those born on this side of the pond didn’t recognize.

Once, he wrote a bit, making fun of a commercial from Cheer detergent, which had just begun selling in the UK.  We’ll take two dress shirts, and pour blackberry juice on both of them.  Then we’ll wash one of them in Applaud detergent, (So no-one could accuse him of making fun of Cheer) and the other one in Ben’s Cleanso.  Flash out – flash in.  And there you see it friends (Both shirts still badly stained)  Not a haip o’ the difference.

HAIP

haip = “wattle, sheaf or heap of straw etc.”
(Therefore – something small, or inconsequential)
And you thought that the word for H was going to be Benny HILL.

I took its meaning from context, but I had to wait for Al Gore to invent the Internet, and then wait some more until stable genius (Like Mr. Ed), Donald Trump perfected it, to meet its parents online.  I still haven’t, really.  I finally found one word-site which gave the definition, but only said that it was British dialect, and very rare.  It did not say what area dialect, although I suspect Northumbria/Yorkshire – up north, away from London and the universities, where the poor folk live.  If this word were coined in the US, it would be from Appalachia.

Helpful fellow-blogger and word-nerd Daniel Digby, just introduced me to wordhistories.net, a Frenchman living in Lancashire, who blogs about etymology.  At first I shook my head about a Frenchie in England but it makes as much sense as a Quebecois in Ontario.  It’s 300 miles from London to Paris, and 300 miles from Toronto to Montreal.  Perhaps he’s more successful wrestling search engines than I am.  When I get back from Merriam-Webster on Wednesday, we can have a few laughs.   😆

Tweets For Twits – Just Deserts Course

If you didn’t know yet, God is on Twitter.  He has a few more things to say about the human condition, which He takes no blame or responsibility for.

In an ideal scenario, the President of The United States, and the worst person in the world, would be two different people.

I genuinely can’t remember making you all this stupid.

To paraphrase me: Being gay is not a choice.
Being an asshole is.

America: Where a black man can’t take a knee on a football field for 30 seconds, but a cop can take a knee on his neck for eight minutes.

Most people who doubt a woman’s claim of assault, do NOT doubt that I had a son who rose from the dead.

You should not vaccinate your children – unless you are absolutely sure that you want them to live.

Next time, no people.

There is life in outer space, and it is intelligent, and that’s why it is staying far from you.

If gay people are a mistake, they’re a mistake that I’ve made hundreds of millions of times, which proves I’m incompetent, and cannot be relied on for anything.

The idea that you evolved from apes is disgusting.
Isn’t it nicer to believe that you all descended from one couple and their incestuous children??!

Just because Jesus died for your sins doesn’t mean that you should keep committing them, assholes.

THE FIVE STAGES OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Denial
Guilt
Depression
Acceptance
Drowning

Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day.
Teach a man to fish and he’ll contribute to the global over-depletion of the oceans.
So give him a salad, maybe??!

The answer to the question, “Can people really be that stupid?” is always yes!

If you can’t get along with CANADA, you’re not human.

Standing up for what you believe in isn’t a virtue, if what you believe in is awful.

I am now the most unverified account on Twitter, and the biggest unverified entity in the Universe.

150 different species go extinct every day.
You keep not being one of them.

Six feet away, or six feet under.

I apologise for this virus interrupting the global catastrophe already in progress.

Saying “guns don’t kill people” is like saying “defibrillators don’t save people.”

Artificial Intelligence is not a threat to Humanity.  Natural stupidity is!

Somewhere in China, there’s a bat getting high-fives from every other animal he meets.

It’s only been a short time, but Steven Hawking has already proven, to My Face, that I don’t exist.


Fuck you!

Marriage is between a man and a woman – except gay marriage, obviously.

The people who call out my name Sunday morning aren’t as much fun as the ones who call it out Saturday night.

These are not His final words, just the last ones in this post.

’22 A To Z Challenge – G

 

 

 

 

 

 

I dropped a bag of Scrabble tiles, and picked up seven of them at random.  They spelled out

GLUDDER

Is that a real word??
Not only is it a real word, it is a Scottish word.  Like the multiple meanings of Flag in the last A to Z post, my thrifty Scots ancestors wanted to get as much out of a word as possible.

The way to tell an Englishman, an Irishman, and a Scotsman in a bar pub, is to serve them a drink with a fly in it.  The Englishman will push the drink away, and order another.  The Irishman will shrug, dip the fly out, and consume the drink.  The Scotsman will dip out the fly, give it a bit of a squeeze, and shout, “Come on, give it up, ya wee sot!”  Hell, he’d probably down the Englishman’s first, if he could get away with it.  Which drunkenly brings us to the many meanings of a word which sounds like it was coined after several drams of Glen Fiddich in the local.

If you are north of Hadrian’s Wall, the word Gludder can, and still does, mean
a glow of heat from the sun;
a bright and warm period of sunshine between rain showers;
the sound of a body falling into the mire;
to do dirty work or work in a dirty manner;
to swallow food in a slovenly or disgusting way.

Scotland has never been the entertainment and excitement capital of the world.  My Ancestors had to have something to do besides count all their sheep, because they kept dozing off.  They tried tossing large rocks across the frozen surface of ponds and rivers, and invented curling.  They practiced knocking smaller stones into gopher holes with their walking sticks, and invented golf, which is just flog, spelled backwards.  Some time before they were forced to go home to the Missus at closing time, they dreamed up words like gludder.  May the banks and braes forgive them.  😳