alea iacta esto

Posts tagged “Humor

A Plan For Reforming English Spelling

Year 1: that useless letter ‘c’ would be dropped to be replaced either by a ‘k’ or ‘s’, and likewise ‘x’. The only case in which ‘c’ would be retained would be the ‘ch’ formation of which more later.
Year 2: reform ‘w’ spelling, so that ‘which’ and ‘won’ would take the same konsonant,
Year 3: might well abolish ‘y’ replasing it with ‘i’
Iear 4: fiks the ‘g/j’ anomali wonse and for all. Jenerally, improvement would kontinue iear bai iear.
Iear 5: do awai with useless double konsonants
Iears 6-12: modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants.
Bai iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridundant letez ‘c’, ‘y’ and ‘x’ – bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez – tu riplais ‘ch’, ‘sh’ and ‘th’ rispektivli. Fainali, xen, after sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl reform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.

Often attributed to Mark Twain but believed to have been by an MJ Shields: adapted from Henry Hitchings’ fabulous book “The Language Wars – A History of Proper English”


How To Mix Your Red And White Wines

Well, almost how. Tonight I am having both red wine and white grapes. I find the sweetness of the latter perfectly complements the tannins in the former. Divine.


Keeping Secrets And Why We Hide Things

Her blue notebook lay open; a promising vista into the subterraneous crevices in the mind of a fellow human being, a stranger whose variant thoughts (and notes of these), orthogonal to mine, might deflect my own thinking onto a different axis. Her notebook was a virtual open invitation, so to speak, and curious cat that I am I R.S.V.P’d and took a peek out of the corner of my eye while pretending to look out the window. Two minutes later she, absentmindedly (or was it?), closed her notebook and kept it closed. My corner-eye reading skills are positively nugatory and I had deciphered nothing; and even though whatever was in her notebook was none of my business, I am pretty sure whatever it was would have been unfathomable anyway.

I was myself ┬áin the cafe, sharpening my programming skills, and in the process of creating a class object which for fun I was thinking of naming ‘Prick’ with the class attributes: ‘length’ and ‘size’. Yet I was nervous: why? There better be no one standing over my shoulder! No one else has access to my computer (apart from the NSA via Google cookies) and in any case my penis code would be wiped out as soon as I shut the bash unix shell. Yet I was nervous; the naughty boy playing with his fly, apprehensive an adult would walk in any minute. Interestingly, even innocuous items lying around my flat have to be hidden if anyone’s coming round. Why do we hide things:

  1. It’s none of other people’s goddamn business [hard to argue but if you’re writing the new ‘Mein Kampf’ maybe it’s our business]
  2. Shame [people might think us stupid and simpleminded]
  3. Fear [people might think us deviant and dangerous]
  4. Protectiveness [people might steal our ideas and, god forbid, become millionaires off our ideas while we remain in penury]
  5. Egoism [we think something divine has been revealed to us and for us only]

All the written things we hide today will be revealed tomorrow when we die. When one thinks of all the billions who have been before us and all their secrets, little and great, lecherous and noble, high-minded and base: would their lives not have been more delightful and true if they had shared their secret nuggets; would their souls not have carried a lighter burden; would their contributions not have been loftier; their thoughts challenged and refined like fine whiskey? Was it really worthwhile keeping those secrets all the way to the grave?


Cafe Wit

“Cafe wit may be divided into jokes about those who are absent and jibes at those who are present. This kind of wittiness is known elsewhere as mere vulgarity. There’s no greater proof of an impoverished mind than its inability to be witty except at other people’s expense”

– Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

That just about rules out all comedy and satire which, to be candid, are only funny when you’re not the butt of the joke. Still …


It’s All Trifles, Not Truffles

‘Only one thing astonishes me more than the stupidity with which most people live their lives, and that’s the intelligence of this stupidity.”

It’s the second day of the tenth month of the second millennium (and thirteenth year) since Time Zero (AD) and this pudding of a calendar year is rapidly going off. For humans a year is like “oh my god, it’s been like a year!!!” and our bodies age, our careers careen and our graves siren ever louder and grimmer. But let’s face it, the concept of time is a meaningless construct. It feels like ‘only yesterday’ I celebrated last christmas (in cold Chicago) and New Year a week later (in warm California) but I’m hard pressed to name all the exciting things that have happened to me since (a new MacBook, does that count?).

To spend a year on Earth is to spend one month on Jupiter and two days on Neptune and while in my imagination I see galaxies where a ‘lifetime’ is forever and where the dazzling luminary that colours the sky never dims; yet this dreamland is odious to me for I am married ’til death do us part to an evolutionary body that can’t deal with the concept of not sleeping. A place where eyes remain wide open? Oh no. It is good to sleep – in fact I am quite looking forward to a few days hence when I can (and shall) poop for twelve hours in one swoop. Yes, I know Solomon in his famous proverbs was quite severe on sluggards but what did he know of resting tired bones, he being a king and all? If I had three hundred concubines on top of seven hundred wives I think I could also find the energy to stay awake for some extra jiggy jiggy.

The obverse of sleep is not wakefulness but death: when the lights go out and life can go fuck itself. If I’m honest my life is pretty banal most days and so are the lives of the legions that I see boldly rushing to jobs that pay just enough (except for those in the top 2% who are granted the luxury of working from home or from the golf course when they feel like it). Our whole existence is aimed at just that: existing. We don’t get to ride a sunbeam at lightspeed. We don’t get to camp a night on Mars or the dark side of the moon. We don’t get to traverse black holes and live to retell the tale. The closest we get to magic is when babies are born or we come up close to animals we’ve only seen on TV or in books. Or when we dream.

Banality is the one certain bane of mankind. And each year we are weighed down more and more by the banality of life trying well-tested tricks for fun: from class A drugs to X-rated sex; from reality TV to absent-mindedly surfing the net. [Actually reading good books is pretty cool; and so is good music; and high quality theatre; and of course intelligent conversation and long rambunctious dinners with good friends settled with excellent wine – gosh there’s a growing list of things that make living worthwhile].

I feel somewhat like those poor souls sent to training courses only to return to the office to continue doing what they always did (and expecting different results) and I shall wake up tomorrow morning with a rotten sense of how much of my time, tomorrow, will be spent doing things that are … trifles, all in the name of a job that looked like a truffle when I started. Unlike Fernando Pessoa whose words I quoted above, it’s not stupidity that I marvel at; what astonishes me more than the banality with which most people live their lives is the intelligence of this banality.


Fendi Turned Down My Leather Jogging Pants!

Hilarious. Is Kanye West off the charts mental? “Biggest rock star in the world?” I am getting older (also known as rusty) and somewhat disconnected from youth culture but how did I miss that rap has now become rock? Listening to Kanye I can’t help but think that like many before him his commercial success has gone not just to his head but way above into the stratosphere and so far up where there’s no oxygen. Without oxygen to the brain we become delirious. And the very idea that Fendi is supposed to take his designs! Why? Because he’s black? My advice to Kanye (ok, not like he gives two cents) is that if he, really, is that good he should give two thumbs to the entire “white” fashion establishment and set up his own fashion label and store and sell his leather jogging pants direct to the public. I can think of nothing more hip than narcissistic celebrities in sweltering LA collapsing from hyperthermia while jogging in KW designer leather pants. That would be so cool.

Some people need a good dose of reality and basic rational thinking. I’m thinking, Kanye?


How Do You Do? Smiled To Meet You

Would to starry heaven that smiling at strangers had a purpose. And before last January there was no good reason to suffer such indignities; who wanted to look at my teeth, planted like Easter Island statues, solitude standing, each on its own plinth, proclaiming: “Ok, here’s my personal space. Y’all stay over there and we’ll get along fine”. Tragedy.

Nine brace-capped months later and once disjointed teeth are now chumming along like conjoined siblings. From this beaming vista I can finally appreciate why snakeoil sales men, with winning smiles, can sell oil to snakes but I fear that my orthodontist, well-meaning and stupendously recompensed I might add, has in fixing my teeth also unmasked me and stripped off the excuse that was my garb; and so here I laugh, frightfully naked. It’s not that I hate strangers (I’m not yet a misanthrope) but I just think strangers haven’t done anything to deserve my sunny breezy smile.

By god, it takes a lot of nerve and fakery to produce an “I’m-so-pleased-to-meet-you” smile. All of that energy and you’re repaid back with a smile that has the familiar U-shape at the bottom third of the face but has been manufactured in a North Korean death camp. Worse, you get back a grin or its cousin, the smirk. Both are what you give to someone you think is a jackass but polite society forbids you speaking without thinking. But there’s something even worse than a grin: being ignored.

It’s no accident then that new people are like boils: uninvited but demanding of careful and worrisome attention and frankly after a day outdoors being nice and smily to strangers I am so relieved to be back home. Home, where the only strangers I meet are the ones I create purposefully in daydreams or that my mind manufactures from the books I read. The strangers that I meet there couldn’t give a fuck if I smiled or farted.