(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘humor

“The way of paradoxes is the way of truth”*

Circular references…

Cyclic TV Reference Paradoxes occur when a chain of fictional TV show references form a cycle. Each show’s reality depends on another being fictional, so a cycle of these dependencies is a paradox [like the one above].

Using subtitles, a large dataset of TV references were generated. This tool displays this dataset in a graph where the nodes are TV shows, and the edges are references. References can be viewed by clicking on individual nodes in this graph. Cycles can be selected to inspect a specific instance of this paradox.

Prepare for your head to spin, then head over to Cyclic TV Reference Paradox Finder. Creator Jamie Pinheiro (@jamiepinheiro) unpacks the backstory and explains his technique here.

* Oscar Wilde

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As we get meta, we might recall that it was on this date in 1994 that people all around the U.S. (and some parts of the world) watched police in a low-speed chase of a not-so-mysterious white Ford Bronco.

Just five days earlier, it was discovered that O.J. Simpson’s ex-wife and her friend Ron Goldman were brutally murdered outside of her home. Simpson became a chief suspect and had agreed to turn himself in but apparently decided to take a u-turn. Traveling with a friend, A.C. Cowlings, Simpson was carrying his passport, a disguise and $8,750 in cash. Instead of surrendering to police, Simpson took them on a low-speed chase on the L.A. freeways all the way back to his home in Brentwood [where he was arrested].

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

June 17, 2022 at 1:00 am

“Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water”*…

Prohibition agents amid cases of scotch whiskey in hold of a rum running ship, 1924 (Library of Congress)

From the annals of self-help, get rich quick writing, The Saturday Evening Post

If you were a bright, ambitious, young man in 1922 who wasn’t inconvenienced by your conscience, you might have considered starting your own liquor distribution business.

There were, of course, challenges: specifically, the 18th Amendment, Treasury Department officers, and, to a wildly unpredictable level, state and local law enforcement.

But in our May 13, 1922, issue, an Anonymous Bootlegger offered insider information to help ambitious entrepreneurs on their way to becoming the next Al Capone.

He discussed three promising business models: brokering legal “medicinal” liquor, driving liquor over the border from Canada, or bringing it by boat from overseas…

How to: “So You Want to Be a Bootlegger,” from @SatEvePost.

* W.C. Fields

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As we scoff at the law, we might recall that it was on this date in 1956 that city authorities in the California beach town of Santa Cruz announced a total ban on the public performance or playing of rock and roll music, calling it “detrimental to both the health and morals of our youth and community.”

It may seem obvious now that Santa Cruz’s ban on “Rock-and-roll and other forms of frenzied music” was doomed to fail, but it was hardly the only such attempt. Just two weeks later in its June 18, 1956 issue, Time magazine reported on similar bans recently enacted in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and in San Antonio, Texas, where the city council’s fear of “undesirable elements” echoed the not-so-thinly-veiled concerns of Santa Cruz authorities over the racially integrated nature of the event that prompted the rock-and-roll ban… (source)

rock ban

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On an orthogonol (and personal) note: the important (and revolutionary) work of @b612foundation (on whose board I sit) is featured on the front page of this week’s New York Times Science Section: “Killer Asteroids Are Hiding in Plain Sight. A New Tool Helps Spot Them” (unlocked).

Written by (Roughly) Daily

June 3, 2022 at 1:00 am

“Based on his liberal use of the semicolon, I just assumed this date would go well”*…

Mary Norris (“The Comma Queen“) appreciates Cecelia Watson‘s appreciation of a much-maligned mark, Semicolon

… Watson, a historian and philosopher of science and a teacher of writing and the humanities—in other words, a Renaissance woman—gives us a deceptively playful-looking book that turns out to be a scholarly treatise on a sophisticated device that has contributed eloquence and mystery to Western civilization.

The semicolon itself was a Renaissance invention. It first appeared in 1494, in a book published in Venice by Aldus Manutius. “De Aetna,” Watson explains, was “an essay, written in dialogue form,” about climbing Mt. Etna. Its author, Pietro Bembo, is best known today not for his book but for the typeface, designed by Francesco Griffo, in which the first semicolon was displayed: Bembo. The mark was a hybrid between a comma and a colon, and its purpose was to prolong a pause or create a more distinct separation between parts of a sentence. In her delightful history, Watson brings the Bembo semicolon alive, describing “its comma-half tensely coiled, tail thorn-sharp beneath the perfect orb thrown high above it.” Designers, she explains, have since given the mark a “relaxed and fuzzy” look (Poliphilus), rendered it “aggressive” (Garamond), and otherwise adapted it for the modern age: “Palatino’s is a thin flapper in a big hat slouched against the wall at a party.”

The problem with the semicolon is not how it looks but what it does and how that has changed over time. In the old days, punctuation simply indicated a pause. Comma, colon: semicolon; period. Eventually, grammarians and copy editors came along and made themselves indispensable by punctuating (“pointing”) a writer’s prose “to delineate clauses properly, such that punctuation served syntax.” That is, commas, semicolons, and colons were plugged into a sentence in order to highlight, subordinate, or otherwise conduct its elements, connecting them syntactically. One of the rules is that, unless you are composing a list, a semicolon is supposed to be followed by a complete clause, capable of standing on its own. The semicolon can take the place of a conjunction, like “and” or “but,” but it should not be used in addition to it. This is what got circled in red in my attempts at scholarly criticism in graduate school. Sentence length has something to do with it—a long, complex sentence may benefit from a clarifying semicolon—but if a sentence scans without a semicolon it’s best to leave it alone.

Watson has been keeping an eye out for effective semicolons for years. She calculates that there are four-thousand-odd semicolons in “Moby-Dick,” or “one for every 52 words.” Clumsy as nineteenth-century punctuation may seem to a modern reader, Melville’s semicolons, she writes, act like “sturdy little nails,” holding his wide-ranging narrative together….

Eminently worth reading in full: “Sympathy for the Semicolon,” on @ceceliawatson from @MaryNorrisTNY.

Sort of apposite (and completely entertaining/enlightening): “Naming the Unnamed: On the Many Uses of the Letter X.”

(Image above: source)

* Raven Leilani, Luster

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As we punctuate punctiliously, we might recall that it was on this date in 1990 that CBS aired the final episode of Bob Newhart’s second successful sitcom series, Newhart, in which he co-starred with Mary Fran through a 184 episode run that had started in 1982. Newhart had, of course, had a huge hit with his first series, The Bob Newhart Show, in which he co-starred with Suzanne Pleshette.

Newhart‘s ending, its final scene, is often cited as the best finale in sit-com history.

“Here’s to alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems”*…

In 2011, @leyink, @han, and @flaneur made this site in 24 boozy hours at Music Hack Boston.

The api’s (to musician photos and streaming music) are beginning to go;still, fundamentally, it works. Enjoy it while you can: “Drinkify.” But heed the creator’s caution: “We take no responsibility for your poor, poor liver. Please Drinkify responsibly.”

* Homer Simpson

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As we praise pertinent pairings, we might note that today (and every May 6) is National Beverage Day.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

May 6, 2022 at 1:00 am

“I’ve always lived by signs”*…

185. CENTRAL SAANICH – honestly if you’re gonna make it this small why bother – would you actually be able to read this while driving? would it be safe? – in conclusion and summary: no

Justin McElroy, Municipal Affairs Reporter for CBC Vancouver, has taken to Twitter to perform an important public service…

I’ve identified 185 communities in the province of British Columbia that have welcome signs.

And in this thread, I’m going to rank every single one.

You can follow the thread, which is underway now: Rating the Welcome Signs of British Columbia, from @j_mcelroy. Via @broderick.

* Iris Murdoch, Henry and Cato

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As we contemplate connoisseurship, we might might send significant birthday greetings to a master of a different kind of sign, William Lilly; he was born on this date in 1602 (O.S.). Described as a genius at something “that modern mainstream opinion has since decided cannot be done at all,” he was an astrologer who was powerfully influential in his own time and hugely impactful on the future course of Western astrological tradition.

Lilly’s autobiography, published towards the end of his life in 1681, at the request of his patron Elias Ashmole, gives candid accounts of the political events of his era, and biographical details of contemporaries that are unavailable elsewhere. It was described, in the late 18th century, as “one of the most entertaining narratives in our language”, in particular for the historical portrayal it leaves of men like John Dee, Simon Forman, John Booker, Edward Kelley, including a whimsical first meeting of John Napier and Henry Briggs, respective co-inventors of the logarithm and Briggsian logarithms, and for its curious tales about the effects of crystals and the appearance of Queen Mab. In it, Lilly describes the friendly support of Oliver Cromwell during a period in which he faced prosecution for issuing political astrological predictions. He also writes about the 1666 Great Fire of London, and how he was brought before the committee investigating the cause of the fire, being suspected of involvement because of his publication of images, 15 years earlier, which depicted a city in flames surrounded by coffins… To his supporters he was an “English Merlin”; to his detractors he was a “juggling wizard and imposter.”…

Wikipedia
Portrait of Lilly, aged 45, now housed in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford

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