Whither Rosetta?

Ever since OS X 10.7 Lion was released, we’ve all been wondering just what happened to Rosetta.

Apparently, it went in search of comets! Currently, it’s approaching comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Rosetta is due to arrive at the comet in August and deploy a lander in November. So no wonder OS X no longer includes Rosetta! It’s off exploring the solar system!!

Caption: The two lobes of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko symbolize the PowerPC/Intel duality of Rosetta.


The Author’s Big Mistake: A Case Study

Once upon a time, I was asked to review an interactive book. I wrote the review, posted it, and that was that. For a few weeks.

Then the book’s author discovered my review. And he even thanked me for it. At first.

Then, he didn’t. Within hours, he proceeded to commit, in a torrential series of responses to the review that dwarfed the review itself in sheer volume, what Paul Fussell described in his 1982 essay, “The Author’s Reply as Literary Genre,”: “the A.B.M. — the Author’s Big Mistake—that is, the letter from an aggrieved writer complaining about a review.”

It was, in a weird way, a beautiful thing to behold as the aggrieved author posted comment after comment (revising each several times [I got an email from the server each time he revised a comment]), spinning ever more wildly out of control with each submission. Some people tried to talk him down gently from the ledge, but he would have none of it. I stayed out of the fray, remembering both the wisdom of Sir John Falstaff and a poster that a friend of mine had back in the 1970s which read, “Never wrestle with a pig: you’ll both get dirty, and the pig likes it.”

The comment storm continued for the next week, but it eventually died down. Then, someone else found it and posted a series of screen shots, with commentary, to Imgur. And that, in turn, spawned a reddit thread.

Before the author chose to “prove” that my review was wrong, the review had gone largely unnoticed, but once the author engaged, hilarity and mockery ensued. And the attention that the author’s rebuttals attracted, and the scorn that was subsequently heaped upon him, is why Fussell calls such responses the Author’s Big Mistake—and Fussell didn’t even have the Internet to provide him with examples!

Beowulf: The monster and the cricket

I like Tolkien and I like Anglo-Saxon poetry. So, when a friend sent me a link to a New Yorker piece by dance critic Joan Acocello, titled “Slaying Monsters,” I clicked.

Then I had to scrape the stupid from my retinas.

Selected quotes from this farrago and my notes on them follow:

* On Beowulf’s lack of a “real psychology”: “Unlike Anna Karenina or Huckleberry Finn, [Beowulf] is not a filter, a point of view, standing between us and his world.” Maybe because Beowulf is NOT A FUCKING 19th CENTURY NOVEL!!

* On Grendel’s piteousness: “Tolkien describes how, after the fight with Beowulf, Grendel, ‘sick at heart,’ dragged himself home, ‘bleeding out his life.’” Because Tolkien meant the passage to…oh, wait, he only translated it.

* On Grendel’s childlike nature: “One reason Grendel seems childlike is that he has a mother.” Because everyone with a mother is childlike. Like George Clooney, and Hitler.

* On the battle between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother: “It also shows a man killing a woman.” That fucking sexist pig, Beowulf, and his misogynist collaborator, Tolkien!!

* On the poem’s treatment of time: “As the time planes collide, spoilers proliferate.” Which must have really affected the poem’s box-office receipts.

* On Anglo-Saxon: “If you don’t know German, it doesn’t sound like anything at all.” Your knowledge of Dutch won’t help you, either, you fools! And don’t even talk to me about Frisian!

* On the duties of being a professor: “That is why Tolkien had a job: at Oxford, for decades, he taught the first half of ‘Beowulf.’” Wanted: professor of Anglo-Saxon. Must know first half of English epic, be comfortable wearing burnt cotton.

* On Heaney’s translation compared to Tolkien’s: “Heaney, to his credit, took responsibility for this poem, and turned it into something that regular people would want to read, and enjoy.” Irregular people read something else while trying to coax a bowel movement.

* On Tolkien’s interest in the poem: “Like Beowulf, Tolkien was an orphan.” After the age of 12; before that he was only half-an-orphan, or an orphan-let.

A Poem

I have a big problem:
It’s that I’m a Jew—
A Jew that loves bacon
And sausages too!

And butterfly shrimp,
And scallops in butter,
And a bacon cheeseburger
Makes my heart go aflutter!

I’m my rabbi’s despair,
And my family’s shame —
But if treyf is so tasty,
Should I get the blame?

Etiquette tip of the day


Don’t bogart that joint, my friend
Pass it over to me
Don’t bogart that joint, my friend
Pass it over to me

Roll another one
Just like the other one
You’ve been hangin on to it
And I sure would like a hit

Today’s Episode of “What Were They Thinking?”

Recently I undertook to convert Glenn Fleishman’s The Magazine: The Book from a beautifully laid out hardcover book into something that an EPUB reader could handle. The tool I used was Adobe’s latest version of InDesign, a program that I hadn’t used since it was a PowerPC application back in the long-long-ago.

When I fired up the application, I saw its latest splash screen, which looked to me like a fatal explosion in a type foundry:

InDesign Splash Screen

After painstaking research, I believe I have found the inspiration:

Inspiration for InDesign splash screen

Lex Eisenberg

I’ve been seeing a lot of astonishment and outrage at the reported casting of Jesse Eisenberg in the yet-to-be-titled sequel to Superman; even my friend Josh has evinced some disdain at the choice.

Yet, to me, Eisenberg seems a natural choice to play the Lex Luthor that I grew up reading about back in the early 1960s. This is how the Superman Wiki describes that Lex:

>In Adventure Comics #271 in 1960 (written by Jerry Siegel), the Silver Age origin of Luthor is retroactively revealed, along with Luthor finally gaining a first name, “Lex.” It was revealed that when Luthor was a teenager, his family moved to Smallville, with Lex becoming a large fan of Superboy. In gratitude and to encourage Lex’s scientific pursuits, Superboy built for Lex a fully stocked laboratory. There, Lex began an experiment in creating an artificial new form of life, along with a cure for kryptonite poisoning.

>However, when a fire caught in his lab, Superboy mistakenly used his super-breath to extinguish the flames. This rescue attempt spilled chemicals that caused Luthor to go prematurely bald and destroyed both his kryptonite cure and his artificial life form. Luthor attributed Superboy’s actions to jealousy and vowed revenge. First, he tried to show Superboy up with grandiose technological advancements to improve the life of Smallville’s residents, which time and again went dangerously out of control and required Superboy’s intervention. Unwilling to accept responsibility for these catastrophes, Lex rationalized that Superboy was out to humiliate him, and vowed to spend the rest of his life proving to the world he was Superboy’s (and later Superman’s) superior by eliminating the hero.

In other words, the young Lex was a boy scientist: a nerd! Not the thick-necked bruiser I have seen in more recent Superman cartoons and comic books, but a nerd!

Eisenberg would be perfect.