Making the thirteenth

Today’s bit of Forgotten English is “monkey board,” meaning (as I’m sure you’ve already guessed) “the step at the rear of an omnibus on which the conductor stands.” Which isn’t especially relevant for today, but I do like rider etiquette, supposedly from Eliza Leslie’s 1859 Behavior Book:

If on stopping an omnibus you find that a dozen people are already seated in it, draw back and refuse to add to the number, giving no heed to the assertion of the driver that there is plenty of room. You have no right to crowd them, even if you are willing to be crowded yourself — a thing that is extremely uncomfortable and very injurious to your dress, which may in consequence be so squeezed and rumpled as to never look well again. A lady will always regret making the thirteenth.

Somehow I just don’t see that going over so well with today’s busy morning commuters. Although “making the thirteenth” does sound vaguely like a naughty euphemism.

In other news, I spent the day juggling several projects, though mostly pulling together some materials for a pair of instructor websites we’re designing. I’m not saying that Microsoft PowerPoint is pure evil or anything. I’m just saying the jury’s still out. I’m building these slides myself, based on the author’s detailed outline and the text, so it’s a little slower going. It may very well drive me crazy before I’m through — if not in need of some of the counselors this book is intended to train.

And that’s about it. Of course, my fortune cookie with dinner this evening insisted, “Your life becomes more and more of an adventure!” Although, aside from slightly burning my upper lip on the General Tso’s chicken, that so far doesn’t seem to be the case…and even that’s pretty shabby as far as “adventure goes.” We shall see.

Esse est percipi

I once wrote the following mock-horoscope:

Philosopher Bishop Berkeley once claimed that all material objects—indeed, all of space and time—are merely illusions—to which the famous critic Samuel Johnson remarked, “I refute it thus!” and promptly smashed Berkeley’s head against a nearby rock. We think there’s a moral in that for all of us.

Which I bring up only because my Forgotten English desk calendar informs me that today is George Berkeley‘s birthday.

You know, if not for that, and the fact that today was Friday, I don’t know that I’d have anything to say about it at all.

Monday various

  • Play any website as music using CodeOrgan. For what it’s worth, here’s what this site supposedly sounds like. [via]
  • “Sealed with a righteous kiss and something something death.” Very funny subtitles from Cambodian Twilight and Avatar DVDs. [via]
  • Meanwhile, here’s a neat infographic outlining just what you get as a DVD pirate versus as a paying customer. Of course, it seems to be missing one of those full-length anti-piracy ads — also often unskippable — that play at the start of many DVDs.
  • Here’s a horrific and “little-told story of how the U.S. government poisoned alcohol during Prohibition with deadly consequences.”

    Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States, products regularly stolen by bootleggers and resold as drinkable spirits. The idea was to scare people into giving up illicit drinking. Instead, by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people. [via]

  • And finally, on a slightly happier note: the headline reads: Rapper says politician used Vulcan grip on him in airplane fight.

Tuesday various

  • An inspiring profile of Roger Ebert and his struggles with losing his voice (and food, drink, strength) to cancer and how his life has changed since then. [via]
  • Apparently, we were once this close to Israeli President Albert Einstein.
  • Oh man, why did no one tell me yesterday was International Grover Appreciation Day?
  • I think there’s an argument to be made that new and valuable art can emerge from appropriation, but wholesale lifting of entire pages without acknowledgment is still plagiarism and, therefore, still wrong. That much seems pretty clear-cut to me. [via]
  • And finally, if I’d know this was what the Olympics was like — “Try to imagine Pegasus mating with a unicorn and the creature that they birth….I somehow tame it and ride it into the sky in the clouds and sunshine and rainbows. That’s what it feels like.” — I’d have been watching from the beginning.

Christmas various

Happy holidays!