2012.05 minutiae

  • A while back someone told me about this great word, "invidious," meaning "offered as unequally good." You might make an invidious comparison between a VPN-certified artisanal pizzeria and Pizza Hut, for instance. Anyway, it turns out that that's not exactly what "invidious" means. Apparently it's just a fancy word for "envious." Which sucks, because it would have been such a useful word! I find myself wanting to use it surprisingly often. Just recently someone was telling me that there were two ways to read a certain story, and I wanted to say, "Yeah, but to the author that's an invidious choice." Instead I had to say something like, "Yeah, but the author clearly doesn't think those choices are equally fine," which is awkward. Life would be so much easier if I could just take Humpty Dumpty's approach to language and not worry about whether anyone understands what I'm saying.

  • I was thoroughly stumped trying to figure out how to code something, so I finally resorted to a Google search. I quickly found the answer… in one of my own posts. Thanks, me-of-the-past! P.S.: You are about to forget everything you know, so you should probably write down more things.

  • Here's an entry for the "best bug reports" list that might be hard to top. If you had your character watch Rocky IV, the program eventually produced the following text:

    On the TV, James Brown sinks to his knees. Danny Ray drapes a cape over him.

    Tester's note:

    Danny Ray drapes the cape over James Brown a moment before Brown sinks to his knees. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEtJ0GiOp64#t=124s

  • Quarterback Robert Griffin III on his new team selecting another QB in the same draft: "We went over the playbook together. There's no issues there. We're both out there trying to get better, so we're cool. We ate a burrito together. [pause] Not the same burrito. Just to clear that up."

  • Speaking of clearing things up, here's the top story on Google News as I type this:

    Glad we've got that squared away. Many thanks to CBS News's incisive team of analysts.

  • I saw a banner ad that announced, "It would take you 240 years to listen to all the songs on Myspace!" Yeah, a lot of music came out in 2006.

  • Speaking of 2006, that's when I wrote my Wikipedia Brown story, which still regularly appears at or near the top of the "most visited pages" list in my web stats every month. I guess I was pretty lucky to have picked a site with some staying power for my Web 2.0/children's literature mashup. I doubt I'd be getting as much traffic these days with "Frog and Toad Are on Friendster."

  • What I have in my apartment is not so much a smoke alarm as a "hey you just turned the stove on" alarm.

  • I was saddened by the news that Donna Summer had died. She was the first musician I knew by name. When I was a little kid, my mother played her best-of tape so often that I listed Donna Summer in our address book as living at our house.

  • I ran across this picture on a news site:

    The caption read, "A chocolate cake is presented to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan to celebrate his May 20 birthday, during the G8 Summit working dinner in Laurel Cabin at Camp David, Md., May 18, 2012." What a faux pas! Clearly the Camp David staff hasn't been reading these minutiae articles or they would know that "in Japan they think it is hilarious if a man eats cake" and that "enjoying sugary snacks and cakes is viewed as a decidedly feminine trait." We'll see what happens the next time the G8 meets in Japan and Noda makes his colleagues put on cheery smiles while he presents them with their very own set of Hello Kitty erasers. Revenge!

    (A potential flaw in this scheme: Japanese prime ministers rarely last more than a year. Nevertheless!)

  • Some kind of award for evasive menu descriptions should go to this one from a Marin restaurant called Avatar's: "There is only one dessert we carry here and we call it Avatar's Dream. Close your eyes and picture the sweetest concoction of dessert flavors from around the world coming full circle on one plate of bliss. Divine."

  • In case you missed it, an amusing correction in the New York Times: "An earlier version of this post included an erroneous reference to how long it took the people in the audience at "Death of a Salesman" to leap to their feet at the end. It was not a megasecond, which is one million seconds or about 11 days."

  • When you search on a person's name, Google now throws in a lineup of people with a similar profile. IF people may be amused to see who Google thinks matches me:

    ♪ One of these things is not like the others… ♫

  • One thing I didn't mention in my Breaking the Waves article is that I really liked how it was broken up into chapters. It seems like chapters are nearly always a good thing: books, films, lectures, you name it.

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