Archive | February, 2013

Europe 1989

24 Feb

Of all the artforms, graphic arts (including painting and drawing) and dance are the ones I have never considered myself any good at. Blog readers will be spared the sight of me dancing, though Susan Dibble at Shakespeare & Company went a long way to dispelling my belief that I could not dance. Drawing and painting remain the areas about which I am the most insecure. I was told in no uncertain terms in primary school that I could not draw. I was good at maths and reading, and should stick to those. In 1989, I travelled around Western Europe with my girlfriend at the time. We took a fair few photos, but for various reasons I no longer have any of those. All I have as a visual record of that trip, that coming of age ritual of many Aussie youths of our generation, is these twenty paintings and drawings which I did (click on images to enlarge). Continue reading


Out of the mouths of babes

16 Feb

Aged five and a half, my daughter spontaneously and unprovokedly sang the following at dinner the a few nights ago, set to an original tune:

When we have anger in our voices,
We still have love inside.
When you look up at the clouds,
Then your anger goes behind,
But you’re better just to feel the anger,
Because then you can connect to your love.

The Americans Are Ruining Our Language

16 Feb


First of all, nobody’s ruining the English language. And for anyone to call it “our” language is repugnantly colonial. Language spreads and language changes. English is spoken across the globe by more people (as a first, second or foreign language) than any other, and has the third highest number of native speakers (only Mandarin and Spanish having more). The United Kingdom has only about 15% of the world’s native speakers of English (the USA has almost 60%). The language has many different and distinct ‘standard’ or ‘official’ varieties (Standard British, Standard American, Standard Australian…) and innumerable non-standard varieties and pidgins. Some of these non-standard varieties are spoken in England (Cockney, Yorkshire Scouse, Brummy) and differ far more from Standard British English than does Standard American. The phonology (sound pattern, including pronunciation) of some prestige varieties of British English, such as the “Upper RP” spoken by some remnants of English nobility, differs greatly from Standard British, so that much of it needs subtitles in order to be understood by speakers of ‘ordinary’ standard Englishes around the world. Continue reading

MIT doodles

15 Feb

You can click on any of these for a larger image.

Hmm, this first was done just a few weeks before I handed in my PhD, almost sixteen years ago. I’m greyer, a bit heavier, and on the other side of the world, but “too many hats”? Some things don’t change…

TooManyHats Continue reading

Shakespeare Invented the Emoticon :)

14 Feb

Seriously, he did – he was using them even before Abraham Lincoln killed his first vampire.

There may be readers not familiar with the term emoticon, but those who are can skip the rest of this paragraph. The term refers to the use of typographical symbols (letters, numbers, and punctuation marks) to express non-verbally a writer’s mood or the intended tenor of a written remark. The classic emoticon is the ‘smiley’ :-) and its sad counterpart :-(  and their respective reduced forms :) and :(  (for those completely unfamiliar with emoticons, these are held to resemble the face of a person smiling or frowning, turned on its side).

The majority view holds that emoticons were invented by Scott Fahlman in 1982, with the sequence :-) proposed to unambiguously indicate that the comment is intended as a joke, though it is often noted that the non-verbal use of typography to indicate emotion goes back to the late 19th century. The humorous magazine Puck, in 1881, used punctuation to denote emotions, but it did it over four lines, not in-line, and thus was really the use of punctuation to create a graphic image, somewhat distinct from a true emoticon. Here they are reproduced from Wikipedia:


These cannot even be typed in the usual sense, because the parentheses are rotated through ninety degrees. They may, however, be considered early precursors of the emoticon. Continue reading