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Re: Klicko (beta)

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OK, I found out why Klicko apparently wasn’t running on the PowerPC test machine; accessibility was turned off there, and I forgot to check for it.

So I pushed out a second beta of Klicko. Please reload if you got the older one. Sorry…

And yes, it’s sort of inspired by Wilhelm Busch‘s line:

Wie lieb und luftig perlt die Blase/ Der Witwe Klicko in dem Glase!

(also quoted here.)

It’s been some time since I did a test, so here’s one: Which science fiction writer are you?. I seem to be Hal Clement, whose work I’ve enjoyed a lot (especially the Mesklin stories):

I am:

Hal Clement (Harry C. Stubbs)

A quiet and underrated master of “hard science” fiction who, among other things, foresaw integrated circuits back in the 1940s.

For a long time I’ve read, peripherally, the phrase “English as she is spoke”, but only recently I found out that there actually is a book by that name. Here’s the book description from one of the links above:

In 1855, when José da Fonseca and Pedro Carolino wrote an English phrasebook for Portuguese students, they faced just one problem: they didn’t know any English. Even worse, they didn’t own an English-to-Portuguese dictionary. What they did have, though, was a Portuguese-to-French dictionary, and a French-to-English dictionary. The linguistic train wreck that ensued is a classic of unintentional humor, now revived in the first newly selected edition in a century. Armed with Fonseca and Carolino’s guide, a Portuguese traveler can insult a barber (“What news tell me? All hairs dresser are newsmonger”), complain about the orchestra (“It is a noise which to cleve the head”), go hunting (“let aim it! let make fire him”), and consult a handy selection of truly mystifying “Idiotisms and Proverbs.”

Here are some gems from the “Proverbs” section:

Take the occasion for the hairs.

To do a wink to some body.

So many go the jar to spring, than at last rest there.

To craunch the marmoset.

To buy cat in pocket.

And here’s some more information and an explanation for the whole thing. It seems that the much-maligned José da Fonseca was simply the author of a competently-written French phrasebook for Portuguese speakers, and that the otherwise unknown Pedro Carolino simply translated the French phrases word-for-word into English from a dictionary. A footnote says:

The Proverbs and Idiotisms deserve a quick note, here, since they inspire a special wonder in the reader who knows a little Portuguese or Spanish. Fonseca’s virtues and Carolino’s flaws butt heads in this portion of the book. Fonseca made a point of translating Portuguese figures of speech into French not by rendering them word for word, but by giving a French idiom of equivalent sense; but Carolino, in his turn, simply substituted English words for the French.

Indeed, most of the samples make some sense when you retranslate them word-for-word into French… fascinating.

Erika Fuchs died recently at 98. She was a major influence on contemporary German culture, mainly by translating Walt Disney’s comics into German from 1951 (the year I was born!) to 1988.

Her translations were original, literary, funny and often memorable; it’s common to hear her phrases quoted in everyday conversation in any German household. They often contained subtle parodies of German classic literature and poetry, as well as ingenious wordplay. I taught myself to read on her work, so she was a huge influence on me. When I finally found some of those comics in the original English, it was a huge letdown. This is certainly a case where the translation far surpasses the original…

Thanks to the Schockwellenreiter for the link.

Posted by Rainer Brockerhoff (away):
Again at a public library, this time at Linlithgow (Scotland), near Edinburgh.

Contrary to my expectations, the ship sailed from Copenhagen early in the morning, so there was no practical way to get into town again. We spent two nice days at sea, getting rested from all the shore excursions, and left ship at Dover at 9 AM on June 6th (my birthday!).

At Dover we started using our BritRail Pass… very handy and easy to use after one learns all the little English railroad peculiarities. We went directly to London, changed stations via a little subway trip, changed trains at York and in the late afternoon ended up in the lovely village of Thirsk in Yorkshire.

Thirsk is famous as the home where veterinary Alf Wight, internationally known as James Herriot, worked and wrote his famous books. We visited his home which is now a museum, very interesting. The village itself is also nice to visit, and we stayed at the Old Red House, a comfortable hotel next to the train station. Highly recommended.

Then the next afternoon we were off again, this time to Edinburgh (Scotland). The trip to Edinburgh skirted the sea several times and the landscape was very pleasing. At the Edinburgh station we tried to sound out some place to stay but, as usual, the lady at the tourist information desk said it most hotels and B&Bs were booked up… so we went on another 20 minutes to the small historical town of Linlithgow, where we promptly found another good hotel right next to the station. I hope our luck in this regard will continue.

Anyway, we’ll go see the sights in Edinburgh and stay again at the same place, then tomorrow off we’ll go northwards, towards the Orkneys. More news anon…


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Stan Kelly-Bootle (who posted a comment here some days ago) has a new Son of Devil’s Advocate column out – it links back to this humble weblog and threatens to do so again next month!

Stan also reprints, as usual, his “Devil’s Advocate” column 16 years ago in Unix Review magazine, where he attacks one of my pet peeves – the harmful punctuation-within-quotes convention:

And so it comes about that the author’s

If X$ is set to “x”, the string Y$ is set to “end”.

is usually mispublished as:

If X$ is set to “x,” the string Y$ is set to “end.”

This, of course, is “no big deal,” until the billion-dollar space probe reaches the wrong galaxy. (Wasn’t that a misplaced Fortran colon?…Ed.)

I can’t understand why this nonsensical and potentially harmful convention still survives…

I seize the occasion to plug, again, Stan’s magnum opus (or at least my favorite of his several opuses? opi? opae?), The Computer Contradictionary, 2nd Edition, which as usual is on my desk as I write this. Now… where’s the much-overdue 3rd Edition…? icon_wink.gif

I’m glad to read that my old pal Stan Kelly-Bootle is back from serious (heart?) surgery, as told in his latest Son of Devil’s Advocate column. Stan’s apparently back in form, at least verbally:

With the first major break in my monthly Devil’s Advocate (DA) columns and the Son Of DA (SODA) progeny since May 1984, it seems logical to call this new sequence ROSODA (Return of SODA)? I rather like the Japanese resonance. Losoda is the wife of the head warrior but has the other six on the side. Just a brief Samurai of the plot.

In the linked-to column, Stan also has a very long and learned, but extremely entertaining, review of Clifford Pickover‘s book Keys to Infinity – I have several of Pickover’s books, but not that one. I’ll certainly put it onto my wish list.

I’ll also seize the occasion to plug Stan’s seminal work, The Computer Contradictionary, a copy of which he kindly signed for me when I visited him at his former home north of San Francisco in September 1999. No programmer should be without a copy.

Some further browsing in the J-Walk Blog‘s archives produced a link to The New Sorting Hat. (Skip this entry if you don’t care for Harry Potter stuff.)

Here’s what I got:


My, my, aren’t we a brainy know-it-all? You think being smarter than football-jock Gryffindor, inbred Slytherin, and fall-for-anything Hufflepuff makes you Merlin’s gift to the wizarding world. You probably think you’re smarter than Dumbledore. An arrogant, stuck-up jerk is what you are, and in your heart of hearts you know it. Admit it. It’s prats like you who make school suck for the rest of us.

Well… what do you know? This thing seems to work!

There’s lots of other interesting stuff at John’s Freeloading Home Page, such as The Grand List of Overused Science Fiction Cliches, The Evil Henchman’s Guide, several reviews and essays about science fiction, politics and raytracing, and last but not least, The Divine Hotline:

You have reached the Almighty Creator of the Macrocosmic Universe. Please keep the following in mind when seeking resolution for your problems:

* Applications for assistance may be made at any time. I reserve the right to take no action on problems for which no application is made.

* My former policy of issuing credentials to select human agents has served its intended purpose and has been permanently discontinued, and all credentialed human agents have been recalled from field service. Any and all credentials presently observable in the field are of human origin; none have been issued by Me.

* Rejection of proffered assistance may constitute grounds for non-resolution of the problem for which the assistance was provided.

* I reserve the right to do as I please.

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