Friday, April 30, 2010

NewSpeak isn't Found Solely on Airstrip One...

but is also setting up a booth at the Shanghai World Expo. Now, as an engineer, I'll be the first to admit that this looks awesome. However, when it comes to the rationale behind it:

The baby’s “mother” is Spanish film director, Isabel Coixet, who picked this theme both because of the passion China and Spain share for children, and as a way of showing that our actions have consequences on our children.[Italics added]

What kind of passion do China and Spain share regarding children? Let's look at the numbers, courtesy of the CIA World Factbook:

Population growth rate: 0.072% (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 193

Birth rate (per 1,000 population): 9.72 (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 198

Population growth rate: 0.655% (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 148

Birth rate (per 1,000 population): 14 (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 151

They certainly do have much in common, thanks especially to recent developments in Spain.

I am not trying to directly compare mandatory sterilizations and abortions with the "pro-choice" position. However, the bottom line is they spring from the same ethos, one that regards humans not as a gift but as an economic burden. Declining birthrates seem to challenge rather than confirm prosperity, however. So, in that light, Spain and China have all too much in common, particularly when it comes to dismissing opposition with Orwellian Double Speak.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Potent Quotables

Came across this article from the Guardian. If you know me well you'll know that the probability of quoting someone else's line approaches one as time approaches infinity. Here's my favorite snippet:

Me and my friends could have entire dialogues consisting of nothing but apposite quotes. And the thing is, it will still make sense as a proper conversation. These aren't just random lines blurted into the ether between us; the best one is identified and selected, completely fit for purpose, in a millisecond, by some super-computer of the mind.

Indeed, sometimes you don't even need a quote but just the suggestion of one. The other day I was chatting to someone on the phone and threw in a line which sounded like something from Predator, but wasn't – I had got the line wrong. But he was so in tune with the "language" of action movies that he replied back with a Predator quote; he still got the reference and replied to it.

And I find it interesting that quoting isn't recognised as being a large part of the modern demotic. I once got a reply from a literary agent, who'd read a novel I had written, in which she said the dialogue wasn't believable because the (Irish) characters at times spoke like they were in an American movie.

But that was the whole point. The dialogue was real, because that's how those people would speak: in between their formal and informal language, their local slang and Irish idioms, their Hiberno-English and Queen's English, would be a flood of quotes from (mainly) US movies and TV shows.

Has anyone out there seen any serious work dedicated to this? I can't say I have, and yet it seems to be the mainstay of many. Nor is it a modern phenomenon; today's paeans to popculture remind me, quite often, of the devotionals penned by the saints. Not in terms of quality, of course, but because both go to great lengths to reference authorities (be they spiritual or temporal).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gotta have my pops...

I don't mean to duck out on actually writing anything, but I think this is an interesting article from the man who (aptly) describes himself as "the world's smartest human being."

Though, I think I will add something that may whet your appetite. You may remember my post detailing the worst movie of all time, and I just felt the need to share that I will be attending Friday's installment of Tommy Wiseau's "Love is Blind" Tour. In case you don't feel like reading my previous post, Tommy is the genius behind this truly irreplaceable work.

Photos to follow.

EDIT: Error in embedding the link. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Canada on track to be the first country...

to implement the prime directive.

A double swing to my sister (or, as they say in my native spanish, "mi hermana") for digging this up.

Could you imagine? I guess after fighting the Gorn, Kirk should be able to handle some hand shaking and ribbon cutting...

What's next, getting Chekhov inaugurated as Putin's new

James Doohan endorsing a Whole Foods line of frozen haggis dinners, for the industrious scotsman and his hardworking housewife?

George Takei endorsing a high definition television?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Clogged in the Pipeline...a tribute to Deep Fried Oreos!

Sorry to keep you waiting with bated breath, but I was in Boston last week, away from access to any of the amenities of the 21st century.

Seriously, the walk from my hotel to the nearest drug store was 15 minutes!

But, Boston was a beautiful town...from what little of it I was able to see. Turns out they have this place called McDonald's that sells a Krustyburger with Cheese, but they don't call it a Krustyburger with Cheese. Instead, they call it a "Quarter Pounder with Cheese." (!)

But I digress. After scarfing down far too many deep fried oreos on Saturday, I have resolved to provide you with a sweeping survey of this confection's venerable history.

It all goes back to the 1990's, when a Brooklynite came up with the idea of deep frying candy bars. This may have been influenced by the Deep Fried Mars bar, which is an ancient Scottish dessert that was introduced circa A.D. 1995. However, some sweetner scholars disagree, and propose a 4 source hypothesis to the problem.

What is known is that deep fried candy bars were sold at state fairs in the Midwest (where else?) starting in the late 90's. Within a year, this grew to include twinkies (as requested by Hostess). The introduction of deep frying frozen oreos has gone unrecorded (I guess those blessed enough to see this weren't wise enough to write it down). However, they have been a staple at New York City Fairs ever since, where I go through them like Bugs Bunny goes through carrots.

If you're in the market for anything deep fried, it is important to watch and verify that it is being prepared correctly. The whole point of deep frying an oreo, twinkie, or Mars bar is to remove the excess moisture. Meanwhile, the sugars will carmelize, and the whole confection should soften, but like any chemical reaction this takes time. If you see a vendor scooping the oreos out within a minute or two, ask him to put them back in. A crunchy deep fried oreo is only an overpriced ordinary oreo offering an outer envelope of oil. When it comes to deep frying a sandwich cookie, buyer beware.

And, this is why a deep fried oreo is amazing-it's soft, but not gooey. It's transformed, but still shares the essential properties of an untouched oreo.

If I were you, I would grab one while I can, because it looks as though street fairs might become a little less frequent in the Big Apple.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Erasing Boredom at Work...

So, after making numerous mystaeks at work today, eye decided to look into the history of Wite-Out. I was immediately disappointed, because it turns out that Wite-Out is a knock off of Liquid Paper. It’s like the Pepsi of publishing [rimshot]!

Liquid Paper was actually invented by Bette Nesmith Graham, who (as it happens) is the mother of one of the Monkees. I don’t remember which one, but does it really matter?

Anyway, it turns out Mrs. Graham was a typist with clumsy fingers. All the other correctives on the market blended with the black ink, so she started developing her own formula in the kitchen. Based on tempera paint, she bottled it in green containers (still the trademark color) and called it Mistake Out (later adapted as a signout by Ryan Seacrest).

Her frequent mistakes not only spurred her to invent the fluid—after being fired for a major clerical error, she was driven to market it for a living. The formula rejected by IBM, she sold it twenty years later to Gillette for millions.

So the next time you’re correcting a typo, or trying to get high in a Staples bathroom (not recommended), just remember you’re not the only one who’s made mistakes.