Archive for the 'diversions' Category

Tuesday’s Tools: I, Rearrangement Servant

February 19, 2008

For what might be the most random and unpractical Tool ever, I present Wordsmith.org’s Internet Anagram Server (or “I, Rearrangement Servant”). I suppose this would come in handy when you needed to be witty, or if you had a character in your novel who loved anagrams, or if you were a blogger trying to come up with intelligent things to talk about (did you know “New York Times” can be anagrammed to “Timeworn Keys?”)…but really this is mostly a timewaster if I ever saw one.  The page has recently been updated to display anagrams in title case caps (The Quick Brown Fox…) rather than all caps (WHICH IS REALLY ANNOYING) so, props to the anagram folks.

(More: Washington Post ->Hating Now Stops. Los Angeles Times -> Elegant Semi Loss. Fitting, no?)

Reviewed: The Areas of My Expertise (ON CD!!!)

February 11, 2008


I am so, so late to the party on this one, but nonetheless: I loved John Hodgman on Jon Stewart. I loved (still love) him as the stodgy PC to Justin Long’s faux-cool Mac. (Nobody else thinks Long is Trying Too Hard?)

But I couldn’t get more than a few pages through The Areas of My Expertise. I just couldn’t. The endless charts, the digressions, the asterisks. It was funny–I knew this in an abstract way–but it was not riveting, or even interesting.

Lo and Behold, there is an audio CD which I have had the pleasure of discovering just last night. The Audio CD is the whole book, read by John Hodgman (deliciously drily), with bonus cameos and musical interludes. It is a thing of beauty. Hodgman’s delivery is perfect. The jokes, which are all decent on paper, come to life on the CD.

I wouldn’t read this book any other way. And I do suggest you pick up this audiobook if you are unfamiliar with Hodgman’s book. It is crucial if you want to be prepared for the next hobo uprising.

Time, space, and prepositions

January 31, 2008

Came across an interesting post over at Language Log about the prepositions in/on/at.

The basic principles are simple:
in
relates to a 3-dimensional container
on relates to a 2-dimensional surface
at relates to a 1-dimensional location
timenspace.jpg
Time and space as portrayed by Flickr user: Charles Van L.

The experiential key here is that a day (one’s current waking period) is metaphorized as a surface on which one is walking (the slogan is “ontology recapitulates physiology”). That accounts for on Thursday, on the seventh, on his birthday.

The smaller time units are then locations on that surface, whence at noon, at the moment, at 8:15:44.23, 2/17/44, while the larger ones are containers for days, whence in March, in 2007, in the twentieth century. [Language Log]

In the UK, I noticed that it was common to say “I’ve got plans at the weekend” rather than the American way “on the weekend.” Does this mean that Brits find their weekends simply fleeting points in a larger week while Americans delineate the workweek more clearly?

Tuesday’s Tools: the Slingshot Organizer

January 22, 2008

Well, it’s not a Moleskine. But for Christmas my sister went to an indie book shop and picked up the 2008 Slingshot Organizer, a move that I had previously thought was “so not her.” (Go sis!) The thing is printed by an all-volunteer collective in Berkeley and is just a tetch more interesting than your usual day planner…let’s just say that the “this day in history” messages marked on every date wouldn’t make Rush Limbaugh happy.

It looks like each page is printed with hand-drawn designs. Also, each month looks slightly different from the next, as if each was designed by a different artist. It’s just the right mixture of wacky and left-wing wacky that I can appreciate.

I’m experimenting with new organizational systems in the new year and so far I can wholeheartedly endorse the Slingshot. (If you want to BUY it, well, that’s tougher. Here’s a partial list of bookstores that carry it—though by now they may be sold out—and at the bottom of this page is a list of online retailers. And if you do make a purchase? The silver ink on black paper—the colors of the cover I own—look WAY cooler.

Narcissurfing, wikiality, and spaghetti marketing

January 16, 2008

Tom Chandler at Copywriter Underground covered nine (why not 10?) top buzzwords for 2007 and inadvertently taught me about Buzzwhack.com. My favorite buzzwords on Tom’s list are above, but you can read the whole list here.

Other “good” (for some definitions of the word) buzzwords:

yogurt cities: Cities with thriving “active cultures” — museums, symphonies, opera, independent bookstores, etc. — where baby boomers will choose to retire (instead of retirement communities).

eat their own dog food:To use your company’s own products, software, solutions, etc., even if they’re not the best. “The folks working at Microsoft are upset because they’re now required to eat their own dog food.”

Buzzwhack doesn’t seem to be governed by any standards in the sense that one nomination is enough to warrant inclusion in the dictionary (as far as I can tell). So that could explain why I haven’t heard many of these words. But it also explains how “popular” I’m going to be with my clients as soon as I start sprinkling these into my copy.