Archives for April 2007
Bernard of Chartres used to say that we are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness on sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size.
~ John of Salisbury, in Metalogicon, (1159)
I say with Didacus Stella, a dwarf standing on the shoulders of a giant may see farther than a giant himself.
~ Robert Burton (1621-1651), in The Anatomy of Melancholy
A dwarf on a giant’s shoulders sees farther of the two.
~ George Herbert, in Jacula Prudentum (1651)
What Des-Cartes did was a good step. You have added much several ways, and especially in taking the colours of thin plates into philosophical consideration. If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.
~ Isaac Newton, in a letter to Robert Hooke dated February 5, 1676
The dwarf sees farther than the giant, when he has the giant’s shoulder to mount on.
~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in The Friend (1828)
Today the kids are standing on the shoulders of midgets.
~ Stanley Elkin
While many things are too strange to be believed, nothing is too strange to have happened.
~ Thomas Hardy
A man comes to believe in the end the lies he tells himself about himself.
~ George Bernard Shaw
I am an aristocrat. I love justice and hate equality.
~ Congressman John Randolph
One of the disadvantages of wine is that it makes a man mistake words for thoughts.
~ Samuel Johnson
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[HT: Rick Walston for the following quotes]
Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.
~ Albert Einstein
To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.
~ Elbert Hubbard
It’s almost impossible for liberals to brainwash people who can read.
~ Ann Coulter
I am quite conscious that my speculations run beyond the bounds of true science.
~ Charles Darwin (cited by Adrian Desmond and James Moore, Darwin, New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1991) p. 456.
It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.
~ Tom Hanks, as the character Jimmy Dugan speaking to a player in the movie “A League of Their Own.”
Rapid Reading Made E-Z, by Paul R. Scheele. Deerfield Beach, FL: Made E-Z Products, 2000. 236 pages.
I suggest that you avoid this book and spend your time on something more productive.
On page 92 of the text the author writes:
“When in doubt, remember the vital statistic given by Russell Stauffer in his book Teaching Reading as a Thinking Process. He claims that only 4 to 11 percent of the text carries the essential meaning.”
With this book, Rapid Reading Made E-Z, those percentages must diminish to less than 1%. The first thirty-two pages of the book are little more than an “info-mercial” for the book; — tons of anecdotal stories, but no substance. The rest of the book isn’t much better.
Even if Rapid Reading had some basis in reality, which I seriously doubt, this book is so poorly written that it would be of no real help to the reader.
If you are interested in real rapid reading, you will be better served by some of the more conventional speed reading materials.
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I usually try to keep my movie items over at ONE SENTENCE MOVIE REVIEWS. However, this meme is really more about me than the movies, so I thought it more appropriate for this blog.
I watched them in movie theaters when they were originally released, and then watched them again with my wife when they were digitized and re-released in theaters twenty years later (she had never seen them).
3. Name an actor who would make you more inclined to see a movie. Mel Gibson
4. Name an actor who would make you less likely to see a movie. Pauly Shore
However, after seeing the below trailer, I do not know if I will ever be able to watch Mary Poppins again:
10. Name an actor who launched his/her entertainment career in another medium but who has surprised you with his/her acting chops. Ashley Judd
11. Have you ever seen a movie in a drive-in? Yes, many — I’m an old guy.
An Inconvenient Truth
13. Ever walked out of a movie? Which one? Yes, many. When I was in the Air Force, the base theater only charged a $1 for admission so I went often and if I wasn’t interested after about 20 minutes I would leave.
15. Popcorn? Yes, but none of that greasy butter on it.
16. How often do you go to the movies (as opposed to renting them or watching them at home)? About every other month.
18. What’s your favorite/preferred genre of movie? Drama
(It resulted in a huge family squabble about its relative merits.
23. What is the funniest movie you’ve seen? Wow, the funniest…I think I will come back and update this answer later when I have thought about it some more.
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Interested in my thoughts about movies? CLICK HERE to go to my One Sentence Movie Reviews.
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April 28 Birthdays
* 1442 – King Edward IV of England (d. 1483)
* 1545 – Yi Sun-sin, Korean admiral (d. 1598)
* 1630 – Charles Cotton, English poet (d. 1687)
* 1686 – Michael Brokoff, Czech sculptor (d. 1721)
* 1715 – Franz Sparry, composer (d. 1767)
* 1758 – James Monroe, 5th President of the United States (d. 1831)
* 1765 – Sylvestre François Lacroix, French mathematician (b. 1834)
* 1819 – Ezra Abbot, American Bible scholar (d. 1884)
* 1838 – Tobias Michael Carel Asser, Dutch jurist, Nobel laureate (d. 1913)
* 1868 – Lucy Booth, the fifth daughter of William and Catherine Booth (d. 1953)
* 1868 – Georgy Voronoy, Russian mathematician (d. 1908)
* 1874 – Karl Kraus, Austrian journalist and author (d. 1936)
* 1878 – Lionel Barrymore, American actor (d. 1954)
* 1886 – Ğabdulla Tuqay, Russian poet (d. 1913)
* 1889 – António de Oliveira Salazar, dictator of Portugal (d. 1970)
* 1900 – Jan Oort, Dutch astronomer (d. 1992)
* 1903 – Johan Borgen, Norwegian author (d. 1979)
* 1906 – Kurt Gödel, Austrian mathematician (d. 1978)
* 1906 – Paul Sacher, Swiss conductor (d. 1999)
* 1908 – Oskar Schindler, Austrian businessman (d. 1974)
* 1911 – Lee Falk, American comic strip writer (d. 1999)
* 1912 – Odette Sansom, French resistance worker (d. 1995)
* 1914 – Philip E. High, Science fiction author (d. 2006)
* 1916 – Ferruccio Lamborghini, Italian automobile manufacturer (d. 1993)
* 1921 – Rowland Evans, American journalist (d. 2001)
* 1922 – William Guarnere, WWII Veteran
* 1922 – Alistair MacLean, Scottish novelist (d. 1987)
* 1924 – Kenneth Kaunda, President of Zambia
* 1925 – T. John Lesinski, Lieutenant Governor of Michigan
* 1926 – Harper Lee, American author
* 1928 – Yves Klein, French painter (d. 1962)
* 1928 – Eugene M. Shoemaker, American planetary scientist (d. 1997)
* 1930 – James Baker, American politician
* 1930 – Carolyn Jones, American actress (d. 1983)
* 1937 – Saddam Hussein, President of Iraq (d. 2006)
* 1938 – Madge Sinclair, Jamaican actress (d. 1995)
* 1941 – Ann-Margret, Swedish-born actress
* 1941 – K. Barry Sharpless, American chemist, Nobel laureate
* 1941 – Lucien Aimar, French cyclist
* 1941 – Iryna Zhylenko, Ukrainian poet
* 1943 – Jacques Dutronc, French singer and actor
* 1944 – Jean-Claude Van Cauwenberghe, Belgian politician
* 1944 – Alice Waters, American chef
* 1946 – Ginette Reno, French Canadian singer, songwriter and actress
* 1948 – Terry Pratchett, English author
* 1948 – Marcia Strassman, American actress
* 1948 – Dorothée Berryman, French Canadian actress and singer
* 1949 – Indian Larry, American stuntsman (d. 2004)
* 1949 – Bruno Kirby, American actor (d. 2006)
* 1950 – Jay Leno, American comedian and television host
* 1952 – Mary McDonnell, American actress
* 1953 – Kim Gordon, American musician (Sonic Youth)
* 1955 – Paul Guilfoyle, American actor
* 1955 – Nicky Gumbel, British author and priest
* 1956 – Jimmy Barnes, Scottish-born singer
* 1957 – Wilma Landkroon, Dutch singer
* 1958 – Hal Sutton, American golfer
* 1960 – Jón Páll Sigmarsson, Icelandic strength athlete (d. 1993)
* 1960 – John Cerutti, baseball player and announcer (d. 2004)
* 1960 – Walter Zenga, Italian footballer
* 1963 – Lloyd Eisler, Canadian figure skater
* 1964 – Barry Larkin, American baseball player
* 1965 – Steve Blum, American voice actor
* 1966 – John Daly, American golfer
* 1966 – Too $hort, American rapper
* 1967 – Kari Wührer, American actress
* 1968 – Daisy Berkowitz, American musician (Marilyn Manson)
* 1970 – Nicklas Lidström, Swedish hockey player
* 1970 – Diego Simeone, Argentine footballer
* 1972 – Violent J, Insane Clown Posse
* 1973 – Elisabeth Röhm, American actress
* 1973 – Jorge Garcia, American actor
* 1974 – Penélope Cruz, Spanish actress
* 1974 – Richel Hersisia, Dutch boxer
* 1974 – Vernon Kay, British TV/radio presenter
* 1978 – Nate Richert, American actor
* 1980 – Josh Howard, basketball player (Dallas Mavericks)
* 1981 – Jessica Alba, American actress
* 1996 – Zanger Bob, Dutch singer
Evidently, I am getting old because I received this greeting card in today’s mail with the suggestion that I watch these reality television series created for people just like me:
I have added another item to my giveaway.
This audio program consists of all the words that occur in the Greek New Testament 10 times or more:
- Divided into groups by frequency of occurrence; then alphabetized
- Each Greek word is spoken, followed by its English definition
- Greek words accented and pronounced correctly according tothe Erasmian system
- Includes a booklet of the complete word-list and definitions
Here is what others think of this study tool:
“Many people learn by hearing as well as or betteer than they do by seeing. If you are struggling witht eh challenge of mastering elementary New Testament Greek vocabulary, here is a way to make hours in the car profitable while increasing your basic competence in Greek. Listen and learn.” (D.A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)
“A long overdue service to students of the Greek New Testament has been rendered by Jonathan Pennington. His New Testament Greek Vocabulary tapes are of professional quality both in the studio production and in the pronunciation of the Greek.” (Daniel B. Wallace, Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary)
“One of the keys to learning New Testament Greek is memorizing vocabulary. These tapes will assist students greatly in this endeavor, for they will be able to hear how each word is pronounced. I recommend this tool enthusiastically. (Tom Schreiner, Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)
CLICK HERE for information on how to enter the contest.
I recently read William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. In the 400 years since its publication many jars of ink have been spent commenting upon it. I am not sure that I can add anything of significance to what has already been said, but I would like to make a few comments about the modern reader of Shakespeare.
In high school I was forced to read Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and Othello. I hated them.
In college I was required to read Romeo & Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, and King Lear. I was mildly amused by The Taming of the Shrew and intrigued by King Lear but I did not enjoy the reading experience.
During the years in which I read these six plays of Shakespeare I was reading nearly a book each day. Had I enjoyed reading these plays I would have been driven to Shakespeare’s other works and would have read the entire corpus of his work within a year.
But, as I said, I did not enjoy reading Shakespeare. Instead I read Louis L’Amour, Agatha Christies, Isaac Asimov, Ian Fleming and thousands of dime novels by authors no one would recognize if I mentioned their names.
How would my life have been different had I been reading Shakepeare’s account of Henry V rather than L’Amour’s acount of the Sacketts. I don’t really know how it would have been different, but I do know that it would have been different.
The above is preface to the heretical statement I am about to utter.
would be better served by reading Shakespeare
in a modern language version.
I know all of the arguments that people use to argue against “raping Shakespeare after stripping it of Shakespearean language.” And, I agree with most of them in principle. However, Shakespeare was MORE than his individual word selections. The plot twists of Shakespeare match any modern mystery writer. Shakespeare’s characters are more believable, even when they are doing unbelievable things, than people with whom I work or attend church. Shakespeare is not murdered by translating his work into language that can be understood by the modern reader; — he is not even tamed.
It took four decades of courtship for me to fall in love with Shakespeare’s plays. I wanted to love Shakespeare. I tried to love Shakespeare. However, the veil of a language that was foreign to me kept me from countenancing its beauty, and prevented my love. Though the veil remains, it has become more diaphonous as the years have passed, and my passion is aroused by both its beauty as well as its inherent virtue.
I believe that young readers should be allowed to peak beneath the veil.
As a bookseller I sold thousands of copies of Cliffs Notes treating Shakespeare’s works. And, as often as not, the purchaser was a parent buying the cheat sheets for their teenager who had been assigned for reading that particular Shakespearean play. Frequently the purchaser would feel the weight of their guilt for accommodating their youth in this literary crime. Seeking absolution for their sin they would say something like, “I can’t even understand Shakespeare, how can you expect a teenager to understand.”
When this happened booksellers would “tsk, tsk” and talk about the shame of this marketplace encounter. The irony is, that most of those same booksellers could understand the work of Shakespeare little more than the mother or her teenage child.
In fact, I daresay that I could with very little thought compile a vocabulary test from the works of Shakespeare that not one person in ten thousand could pass. It is intriguing that “the veil” of which I speak is the exact opposite of The Emperor’s New Clothes. It is real, and yet the academic elite pretend as though it were non-existent.
So, what do we do about it?
This is my suggestion. I suggest that readers be exposed to the works of Shakespeare very early but in modern language versions such as the No Fear Shakespeare editions. Yes, these volumes strip the works not only of their beauty, but of important nuance as well. Consider this example from Hamlet:
“This is the very coinage of your brain.”
is replaced by
“This is only a figment of your imagination.”
Not good. However, the intent of exposing the reader to a modern language edition is to breed familiarity and allow the young reader to peak beneath the veil. Hopefully, young readers will not only read what is required but will be stimulated to read all of Shakespeare’s work.
Then, as readers grow older they can re-read these great works in editions like those published by the Folger Shakespeare Library. The main reason that I recommend these editions is that they come with “full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play.” The reader can read the original text of the play without distraction, but can look to the opposing page for additional information as necessary. Additional benefits of these inexpensive editions are:
• Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play
• Scene-by-scene plot summaries
• A key to famous lines and phrases
• An introduction to reading Shakespeare’s language
• An essay by an outstanding scholar providing a modern perspective on the play
• Illustrations from the Folger Shakespeare Library’s vast holdings of rare books
The detail provided in editions such as these provide an understanding of the text such that one can then see the lover without veil, and revel in the glory of her virtue. As the years pass, love grows, and one becomes married to the text it becomes possible to consummate one’s love of the text with a luxurious leatherbound edition with no accompanying notes of explanation.
For those of you in the Fort-Worth / Dallas metroplex, THIS LINK is to a coupon for a free up of coffee at the Fort Worth, Burleson, Mesquite, and Dallas Uptown locations. The coupon is good until May 8, 2007.
I recently noted Richard Lederer’s chapter on redundancies in The Miracle of Language . My favorite redundancies from literature are not mentioned by Lederer. They are those of the word challenged Dogberry in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
Don Pedro: Officers, what offence have these men done?
Dogberry: Marry, sir, they have committed false report; moreover, they have spoken untruths; secondarily, they are slanders; sixth and lastly, they have belied a lady; thirdly, they have verified unjust things; and, to conclude, they are lying knaves.
Don Pedro: First, I ask thee what they have done; thirdly, I ask thee what’s their offence; sixth and lastly, why they are committed; and to conclude, what you lay to their charge.
The Miracle of Language. Richard Lederer. NY: Simon & Schuster, 1991. 254 pages.
I love it! But that is no surprise to those of you who frequent my blog. I have quoted or referenced Lederer more than a few times recently.
This book is a compilation of articles, some of which were previously published in other venues such as Verbatim, Writer’s Digest, and Writing!. However, the chapters have been exceptionally well adapted and arranged such that the book is a joy to read.
Section One is composed of six chapters related to the philosophy and history of language. Sounds kind of boring doesn’t it? Please hear me when I say that Richard Lederer is never-ever boring. Lederer makes language
interesting fascinating and fun, such that only he could correct the grammar of a police officer and have it result in him NOT getting a traffic ticket (Introduction).
Section Two contains four chapters each of which explores specific language problems. Is English prejudiced? (Yes). Do we have all the words we need? (No). Can a single word or letter completely altar the intended communication? (Yes). Is our speech and writing full of recurrently repetitive redundancies? (Yes. “The sum total and end result [about as final as you can get] are that we can join together [more effective than joining apart] to fight the good fight against every single one of these redundancies. We can drive them from our house and home. We can bring them, in the words of many a flight attendant and police officer, to a complete stop, and we can kill them dead. That would be so incredible it would be unbelievable.)
Section Three is devoted to biographical essays on some literary wordmakers; – – Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, T.S. Eliot, George Orwell, Emily Dickinson, Samuel Johnson, Ambrose Bierce, &tc. Beware of these eight chapters if your time is limited. For, after reading Lederer’s tributes to these greats you will be driven to their books as if hearing “Tolle, lege; tolle, lege.”
Section Four gives attention to the topics of libraries, books, letters, and poetry. In these chapters you will find stimulating discussions of those topics and some great quotes . A book cannot be a Richard Lederer book without a good dose of silly fun. There is plenty of this scattered throughout the text but is forefront in chapter twenty-one, “Ya Got Any Good Books Here?”. In it, he shares some of the most, well … , strange questions asked of librarians. However, do not mistake Lederer’s silliness for flippancy. Lederer is very serious about words and has a strong desire for his audience to grow and develop in its appreciation of language. One of his most instructive chapters is found in this section and is entitled “You Can Be A Poet.” In it he shares pedagogical and heuristic tools for the writing of poetry.
And, Section Five consists of thirty-seven pages of Words About Words. I previously shared select quotes from his extensive list.
Now, I conclude with a quote from the Introduction to this book:
If you are a genuine linguophile, an authentic logolept, and a certifiable verbivore, you are in for a lifetime of joy. You don’t have to go to a special room like a laboratory or a theater or a special part of the country or the world to experience your delight. You have only to listen to the sounds that escape through the holes in people’s faces and pay heed to the messages that flow from their pens and luminesce up on their computer screens. That is the stuff that this book is made on. That is the miracle that we call language.
A “lifetime of joy” sounds pretty good to me. How about you? Get the book and it will be a great benefit to you as you pursue being “a genuine linguophile, an authentic logolept, and a certifiable verbivore.”
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