Saturday, 28 July 2007

Costa-conscience books

I have been thinking today about a good friend who has very serious psychological problems caused by barely treatable chemical processes in his body. He is obsessive/compulsive and depressive and occassionally books himself into a local mental hospital for his own safety when things get too much. Medicine can do nothing more than give him drugs that achieve some degree of stability but bring him nowhere near the ability to live a relatively 'normal' life.

I haven't seen him for a long time because he simply disappears from the radar then one day there will be a phone call or something and he is back. I know if he is around however because of a peculiar 'arrangement' we have that he knows nothing about but from which we both benefit in a strange way. You see, his obsessive/compulsive character makes him buy books, books on the sciences (especially mathematics and physics) and books on the Christian faith (especially theological/apologetic) and philosophy. These are not good for him because, rather than simply interest and inform him, they make him worrisome and distracted. Nothing I or anyone else can say will distract him from this obsession even though it would do him good to put the books down and go out more.

Occassionaly, however, he impulsively decides to dump a load of books, giving them to a local charity in the name of his late wife (a wonderful and long-suffering woman when alive) as a sort of bequest. He benefits from this inasmuch as it does him good to clear some of this stuff out of his life. I benefit inasmuch as I happened upon his charitable treasure trove and have been able to purchase at charity shop prices almost new books that I could not otherwise have afforded to think of purchasing. The charity also benefits, which is his intention, he benefits, which his friends are glad to see, and I benefit too, both in having the books cheap and in knowing that he is around and making some right decisions for himself.

So why do I feel the need to justify this happy exchange to myself? Maybe I should call him and have a chat.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Plain English

What quota of these statements can you render in the linguistic style appropriate to orthodox, non-complicated Anglican Plain English?

All articles that coruscate with resplendence are not truly auriferous.

Sorting on the part of mendicants must be interdicted.

Masculine cadavers are incapable of rendering testimony.

Neophyte's serendipity.

A revolving lithic conglomerate accumulates no congeries of small, green, biophytic plant.

Members of an avian species of identical plumage tend to congregate.

Pulchritude possesses solely cutaneous profundity.

Freedom from incrustations of grime is proximal to rectitude.

It is fruitless to become lachrymose of precipitately departed lacteal fluid.

Eschew the implement of correction and vitiate the scion.

The stylus is more potent than the rapier.

It is fruitless to attempt to indoctrinate a superannuated canine with innovative manoeuvres.

Surveillance should precede saltation.

Scintillate, scintillate, minute, globular, stellar.

The person presenting the ultimate cachinnation possesses thereby the optimal cachinnation.

Exclusive dedication to necessitous chores without interludes of hedonistic diversion renders Jack a hebetudinous fellow.

Individuals who make their abodes in vitreous edifices would be advised to refrain from catapulting petrious projectiles.

Where there are visible vapours having their provenance in ignited carbonaceous materials, there is conflagration.

No remittance is given for actions which are taken counter to the codified body of jurisprudence.

Travel Broadens the Mind?

A Swiss man, looking for directions, pulls up at a bus stop where two Texans are waiting.

"Entschuldigung, können Sie Deutsch sprechen?" he asks. The two Texans
just stare at him.

"Excusez-moi, parlez vous français?" The two continue to stare.

"Parlate italiano?" No response.

"¿Hablan ustedes español?" Still nothing.

So he has a final try: "Tatakalamaani bil arabiyya?"

The Swiss man drives off, extremely disgusted.

The first Texan turns to the second and says, "You know Bubba, maybe we should learn a foreign language."

"Why?" says the other. "That guy knew five and it didn't do him any good."

Monday, 2 July 2007

George Bush

I just have to share this excellent quote. It is from Gavin Esler of the BBC Newsnight programme

Quote for the Day:I've just returned from the United States where I have been researching a documentary series for Radio Four called "The Clinton Years" to be broadcast in August and September. Today's Quote for the Day comes from a former Clinton Cabinet member who started assessing George Bush'spresidency.

"But George Bush has changed," I suggested to him. "For example, now he seems to get Global Warming." The former Clinton Cabinet member started to laugh. "President Bush does NOT get Global Warming,"he insisted. "In fact he doesn't even get Evolution."

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Machynlleth, Mid Wales

47 Rules for Writers

I don't remember where I picked these up but have found them invaluable down the years:

1. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid clichés like the plague. (They're old hat.)
6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
7. Be more or less specific.
8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually)unnecessary.
9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
10. No sentence fragments.
11. Contractions aren't necessary and shouldn't be used.
12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary;it's highly superfluous.
14. One should NEVER generalise.
15. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
16. Don't use no double negatives.
17. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
18. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
20. The passive voice is to be ignored.
21. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parentheticalwords however should be enclosed in commas.
22. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
23. DO NOT use exclamation points and all caps to emphasise!!!
24. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
25. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forthearth shaking ideas.
26. Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when itsnot needed.
27. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hatequotations. Tell me what you know."
28. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times:Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use itcorrectly.
29. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
30. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
31. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
32. Who needs rhetorical questions?33. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
34. The passive voice should never be used.
36. Do not put statements in the negative form.
37. Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
38. A writer must not shift your point of view.
39. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in longsentences of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
40. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
41. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linkingverb is.
42. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
43. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
44. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun withsingular nouns in their writing.
45. Always pick on the correct idiom.
46. The adverb always follows the verb.
47. Be careful to use the rite homonym.And Finally...
47. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out