Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sammy's Bar

I went down to Sammy's Bar
(Hey, the last boat's a-leavin')
By the shore at Pietà
(Call away the dghajsa.)

Maltese orthography is even worse than Gaelic. Paying attention to the letters will lead you far astray. How in the world do you pronounce "dghajsa?" I'd say "Die So," wouldn't you? You can reserve a dghajsa at Maltese Water Taxis dot com. And that beach. Eye 'n' Toughey, ya. Spelled Għajn Tuffieħa. And those haitches are not haitches, either, look close. Here's the best version (IMHO) currently on YouTube, sung by Jim Radford and friends:

There's a newish film in which some mimes sing this. They don't pronounce the Maltese right, and miss out on the English-language refrain. What would you expect, from mimes. A pleasant visual trip, though. But from xkcd, you would get some serious discussion. While I'm fussing about lyrics, I should mention that Jim Radford gets a word wrong in that video up above: The first line in the second verse should be, "And my real love, she was there." Not "true love." More poignant, less clichéd. As discussed at the next link.

The songwriter had this to say, about it all.

Cyril Tawney never wrote a bad song, not that I've heard, anyway. The Grey Funnel Line, for the tired, who wish they could escape; Chicken on a Raft, for the frustrated, who still manage to retain a sense of humor; On a Monday Morning, for the hung-over; The Oggie Man, for the wistful; Sally Free and Easy for the bitterly bereft.

In "The Grey Funnel Line," there is an image that I have found to be unforgettable.
Each time I gaze behind the screws
Makes me long for St Peter's shoes
I'd walk on down that silver lane
And take my love in my arms again
Saint Peter's Lane, which you need Saint Peter's shoes to walk on, is the silver path the full moon makes on the sea. I tried taking pictures last summer. They looked good in the camera, but not so good when uploaded to the computer. I need to figure out how to do longer exposures. "Grey funnel line" refers to the Royal Navy. Steamer lines such as Cunard, White Star, and the rest, painted the funnels of their ships distinctively. The Royal Navy paints everything grey, hence, "grey funnel line."

While I'm dumping links, there's a clever parody by Bob Williamson:
I went down to Sammy's Bar
(Hey, the lamp-posts are leaning)
Just went out to have a jar
(On me way up Hyde Road.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Althouse, pushing the envelope of pithiness

Possibly the shortest blog post ever?

My comment was much too long.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Feds are interested in your yard sale

CPSIA begins to get its feet under it, going forth to wreak havoc.

Seller, beware: Feds cracking down on garage sales

WASHINGTON — If you're planning a garage sale or organizing a church bazaar, you'd best beware: You could be breaking a new federal law. As part of a campaign called Resale Roundup, the federal government is cracking down on the secondhand sales of dangerous and defective products.

The initiative, which targets toys and other products for children, enforces a new provision that makes it a crime to resell anything that's been recalled by its manufacturer.

"Those who resell recalled children's products are not only breaking the law, they are putting children's lives at risk," said Inez Tenenbaum, the recently confirmed chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The crackdown affects sellers ranging from major thrift-store operators such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army to everyday Americans cleaning out their attics for yard sales, church bazaars or — increasingly — digital hawking on eBay, Craigslist and other Web sites.
Told you. And furthermore,
President Barack Obama and Democratic congressional leaders are crafting an appropriations bill that would boost the agency's funding next year by more than 11.4 percent — to $117 million — and it's already hiring new inspectors and other employees in anticipation of the funding infusion.
they'll have plenty of your money to do their surveillance of you. Of me? us? We all need watching. Just in case something fishy might be going on. Or, you might say, "De minimis nunc curat lex."

Thanks to Glenn Reynolds.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sweet bird of youth, you must be laughing

The song. (First version is the one from the album, second from a live performance, sort of eerie.)

The play, which the song is referring to.

The bird.

The bird.

Up at the mountains, we watched the old Studio One production of "The Trial of John Peter Zenger," from this set of movies. We had a pretty good conversation about the importance of the Zenger verdict to American jurisprudence. I think I said, "This was the case that established freedom of the press in America, even before America existed." I thought there should have been a few more minutes to it, to give some attention to the jury's deliberations. The way it was presented made it look like Andrew Hamilton simply won Zenger's case, but the way the jury reached their verdict was just about as important as the verdict itself. The film skipped over that entirely.

But much more conversation resulted from the fact that this old TV show included three Westinghouse commercials, with Betty Furness selling a refrigerator, of course, and a TV, and something else, an air conditioner, it might have been.

So the daughter said, of Betty Furness, "When was it that people stopped wanting to look like that?" Like adults, she went on to explain. Which I thought was a good question, and we went down a winding conversational path having to do with neotenic behavior among baby-boomers.

Now I'm back in the world which includes an Internet, and I see that Morgan Freeberg has done some redecorating at The House of Eratosthenes, and that he has a post there with a clip from the late night Scot, dealing with this very issue. So check it out.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009



Some wine and cheese.



Too much crystallized ginger. An aid to digestion. If someone does not steal it. About the right amount.

"… who would hide
"behind your chair
"and steal your crystallized ginger?" (At 4:21.) Have some quarter-tones, maybe some eighth- or sixteenth-tones, with that, and a good night.

Part 2 ["amoebas are very small," also long time sun, and pure light]:

Cockles, and whelks, and big winkles! (Video, NSFW.)

Calimari passim, search for critters.

Bon appetit.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Possibly interesting to bloggers

If I could manage to dig out my old copies of Richard Geis's wonderful magazine, The Alien Critic, later Science Fiction Review, I might be able to find an article by E.C. "Ted" Tubb called "I have just cleaned and oiled my typewriter, which was a wild and crazy thing to do." Or something a lot like that.

If you own a typewriter, take it to the typewriter shop. If you can find one. Trying to do the maintenance on it yourself will lead to all the problems Tubb described in that piece. Mostly, you'll use the wrong kind of oil and put it in all the wrong places, where it will attract molecules of dust that had not even existed prior to the oil application, and which will be the grit that gums things up even worse than they were before.

I have not owned a typewriter for decades. So this is about something else. [Will you just get to the point, for crying out loud?]

I backed up the blog. [Oh, so that's it.] Now I have about 200 MB on my local hard drive, the whole thing, pictures and all. It felt like a daring thing to do. But I may do it again, on another computer. And then I might copy the whole mess to a CD. Don't try to stop me. When I get an idea in my head, I'm gone.

The tool I used was Httrack. It took about half an hour over a fairly quick DSL connection. But now I have a copy of all my wonderful, important words and pictures [Stop that chortling in the peanut gallery!] that is not in the cloud, but right here. It got everything but a couple of the Javascript widgets on the sidebar, and I can browse it locally just the same as online. Comments and all, yes, comments and all.

Now if I could only remember to back up the local disk.

Secret origin revealed: the shallowness of Paul Krugman

He read Isaac Asimov's Foundation books, loved them, and failed to understand them. Understood about the first twenty percent or so, the setup of Hari Seldon's idea of psychohistory. If he'd been paying attention through the rest of the stories, he would have seen that psychohistory was doomed to fail.

This explains much.

TigerHawk has the story, and the comments.

And Ramesh Ponnuru has something to say.

It's a pity his school librarian didn't give him some Heinlein.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A few days in the mountains ...

… with no Internet, and all heck breaks loose. Sotomayor's on the Court, ObamaCare protests are breaking out all over, and Althouse is married.

I'll get caught up.