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It’s Hard to Please Everybody

The logo for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London has created quite a stir. Turns out that, if you’re the Iranian government, the stylized numerals resemble the word “ZION,” which refers to Jerusalem and, by extension, Israel. And since Iran opposes Israel’s existence, they filed a protest, urging other Muslim nations to do the same.

The only thing that I might protest, however, is the fact that organizers reportedly spent $800,000 on the logo’s design development. In this tough economy, AMD would gladly have accepted the assignment for a mere $600,000.

It’s Coming…

Last year around this time I offered a sawbuck to anyone who could explain why we engage in this Daylight Savings Time nonsense. Naturally, I kept my money—on accounta nobody actually knows.

But wait. It’s a lot worse than that. (Cue ominous music.) Daylight Savings Time, it turns out, kills.

The American West, in Pictures

The Denver Post has published some remarkable photographs from the collection of John C. H. Grabill. Shown is one entitled “The Great Hostile Camp”—a Lakota camp on or near the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1891.

Examine, sniff, taste. Repeat.

This is why the United States of America is the greatest country on earth:

“For the next three days, 26 experts will examine, sniff and taste more than 30,000 pounds of cheese and butter. The best cheeses in 73 different classes will be awarded gold medals.…In addition to the contest, nationally recognized cheese sculptor Sarah ‘The Cheese Lady’ is working on a salute to the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers.”

e.g., i.e., &c.

It’s been a while since we last flexed our grammar muscles here at the last word. And since few things are more gratifying than showing off for the ladies, here’s the latest exercise in pedantry: e.g. versus i.e. (Hint: they’re not interchangeable.)

e.g. is short for exempli gratia, a Latin phrase that means “for example”
i.e. stands for id est, which is Latin for “that is”

You see? Both serve to clarify, but each has a different meaning. The surest way to avoid eliciting scorn* from the nearest know-it-all, therefore, is to stick with the English.

*Check out the 1995 film Get Shorty to see what I mean. Or click here to read the actual quote, which includes an F-bomb here and there.

UPDATE: “&c.” is simply a variant of “etc.”—the “&” a sort of ligature formed by the joining of “e” and “t.”

Monday Miscellany

Gallup has come up with a statistical composite for the happiest person in America. Turns out he’s a tall, Asian-American, observant Jew who is at least 65 and married, has children, lives in Hawaii, runs his own business, and has a household income of more than $120,000 a year. And yes, there is such a man.

Over at The Atlantic‘s photography blog, you can check out some spectacular images of Antarctica.

Click here to see a chronological timeline of computer history, from 1939 to 2010.

Finally, don’t forget to nominate five novels (from the list provided) for the 2011 Tournament of Novels. In last year’s epic final, The Lord of the Rings defeated Huckleberry Finn, meaning both are out of contention for this year’s title. Seeding for the 2011 brackets begins this week; the first round opens March 16.


Quote of the Week

A wry observation from Søren Kierkegaard:

“The majority of people are not only afraid of holding a wrong opinion, they are afraid of holding an opinion alone.”

Less Is More

Fifty-two years ago today, Miles Davis began recording Kind of Blue, the one jazz album owned by people who don’t like jazz. (And the one album that surely must vex atheists, as it clearly demonstrates the existence of a supreme being.)

Three of the five tracks were recorded March 2, 1959: “So What,” “Freddie Freeloader,” and “Blue in Green”; the remaining two—”All Blues” and “Flamenco Sketches”—were recorded seven weeks later.

As evidence of the album’s enduring appeal, here’s a 2010 treatment of “Blue in Green” from Ralph Towner and Paolo Fresu (ECM 2085):

[audio:|titles=05 Blue in Green]

This Post for Geeks Only

There’s a certain segment of the population—you know who you are—that will positively swoon at the following sentence: Cthulhu Chick has compiled a list of H. P. Lovecraft’s favorite words.

I’m not sure which is more promising: that a list of words like “foetid,” “Nyarlathotep,” and “ululate” exists, or that somewhere out there is a girl who calls herself “Cthulhu Chick.”

Monday Miscellany: Travel Edition

There are times when the beauty of this region is, quite simply, breathtaking. This weekend was one of those times.

Near East Hope, Idaho.

Highway 127, south of Dusty, Washington.

Snake River at Central Ferry, north of Dodge, Washington.

America’s Greatest Word?

Allan Metcalf makes a persuasive case for “OK”—a word my great-grandmother forbade.

Aaron Write Good

What began ten years ago as a low-paying gig writing snarky music reviews for an “alternative” weekly has led to a soon-to-be published short story. That’s right, folks: I can now add “author” to my resume. More details as they become available…

Like, Wow.

Over at City Journal, Clark Whelton, a former speechwriter for Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani, tracks the decline and fall of American English. He reckons it began in 1985—the year I graduated from high school. Surely it’s just a coincidence.

This Is NOT about Late-Night Barhopping. Or Laundry.

And now, I present a brief tutorial on scoring and folding, compliments of Kit Hinrichs.

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