Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Romeo and Juliet, with—Get your mind out the gutter!

Today Google released its Books Ngram Viewer, a remarkable statistical snapshot of the books in Google. The New York Times did an nice piece on it.

So I went to work on it. My guess was that, like much else with Google books, the data was ratty. It didn’t have to look far. At first glance this chart appears to show that “fuck” had a remarkable early history—being more popular in 1725 than even today! (link)

Don’t get too excited. A quick search on the phrase in books between 1700 and 1800 treed the cause:

Yes, Google can’t tell between an f and an ſ, the “s without a bar” more properly known as a long, descending or medial s. To the disappointment of many, Shakespeare wrote “suck’d.” The effect pops up all over. Here’s a graph of “crimſon” vs. “crimson.” If nothing else we can now follow the demise of the ſ with precision.

There’s no question this is a cool tool. But given Google’s grand ambitions and how common s is in English, it’s a pretty startling lapse.

Labels: google, google book search, humor

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Sears–Taxonomy–Not Safe for Work

Screenshots from, showing unauthorized headings. The first one could be placeholder text, but the second one suggests to me someone is being let go and is taking out on the subject headings…

Click to see a larger image, and check out the breadcrumb trail.

Update: It was apparently done by changing the URL, which includes the category. A good tech lesson their. But I couldn’t get it to work. Maybe it still works for the second one because it’s cached.

Labels: humor

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Glowy magic, wolves and damsels in distress

Sci-fi/fantasy publisher Orbit has compiled a chart of 2008 Fantasy Cover Elements, charting the prevalence of unicorns and swords, elves and “glowy magic” (a big winner).

I’m disappointed in the minimalist “damsels in distress.” As a boy with a good collection of Conan novels, I feel that fantasy covers are all about occasions to show impossibly good-looking women in clothing of dubious practicality. I’m betting, if tallied, chainmail brassieres might well beat out glowy magic.

Labels: humor

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

How to start a dance party

A good illustration for social efforts of every kind.

Hat-tip: Ze Frank, David Weinberger

Labels: humor, social networking, tipping points

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

New Kindle model released

Labels: humor

Friday, February 6th, 2009

Facebook in reality

Labels: humor, social networking

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

How books are made

From the Digital Marketing Team at Macmillan, who rock.

Labels: humor

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

Thriller, with book carts

National Library of Australia staff Christmas party does Thriller…


Hat tip: Kathryn Greenhill, with more library Thriller videos.

Labels: australian, humor

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

LCSH for “Yo mama”

A recent dust-up on AUTOCAT revolved around a librarian tour to Cuba for the “Havana Book Fair.” This “fully escorted” tour involved the opportunity to “get an unprecedented look into issues of freedom of expression directly from Cuban intellectuals, writers, librarians, publishers and curators,” with a rum-and-coke event at a local Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, who, besides keeping files on everyone in the neighborhood, “ensure[s] that detailed electoral information is provided on all candidates, and every vote diligently counted.”*

As you may guess, a number of posters (myself included) criticized the post. Others objected to our criticism, and a small-bore kerfuffle ensued.

It was interjected, with clever use of Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):

“… before this detours into a “Cuba $x Foreign relations $z United States” (and vice-versa) discussion, please remember that Autocat is primarily a discussion group for cataloging, authority work, etc.”

Off-list, I suggested to someone that we could continue the argue entirely in LCSH, suggesting the (invalid) heading:

Cuba, Communist — Propaganda — Aimed at librarians!

Which was met with the (also invalid):

United States — Imperialistic policies — Social aspects


That got me thinking, if LCSH is a language (of sorts), how good is it for that most important role of languages—conveying insults?

The answer is—just great! Although LCSH lacks the term “jerk” or “dumbass” (except “Dumbasses (music group)”), it is still a rich field for insult, innuendo and invective. Consider, for example, hurling the following at an opponent:

Donkeys — Genealogy
Dill weed — Specimen

Sometimes the main heading themselves provide good insults, for example, to accuse someone of verbal diarrhea one need only employ:

Anal language — Case studies**

But it’s useful to take full advantage of the free floating form subdivisions. To tell someone they had descended to the depths of idiocy, I suggest

Stupidity — Bathymetric maps

Can anyone come up with the ultimate LCSH put-down?

*The passage goes on to note, that, “Voting booth and ballot integrity” in this one-party state is “entrusted to primary level students on voting days.” What a neat solution!
**Apparently this heading is only supposed to be used on the Anal people, of Southeast Manipur. Pity.

Labels: humor, LCSH

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

Humor break, I think.

McSweeney’s: E-mail Addresses It Would Be Really Annoying to Give Out Over the Phone.

Altay, Abby and I are in tears. Others are not. There’s some deep personality thing here.

Ah, McSweeney’s lists. My friend Kevin Shay penned Pirate Riddles for Sophisticates. You have to be in the right mood for this stuff.

Labels: humor