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shameless pleading





January 2012 Issue

Semper Ubi Sub Ubi


Well, this is it, kids. 2012, the mother lode and epicenter of ominous predictions. Just remember, whatever else may happen, that there’s gonna be a lot of space to fill on the lesser cable channels come a year from now, so get your ideas into development asap.

Am I the only person around here who is having real trouble typing the numerals 2012? I know what year it is (most of the time, anyway), but my muscle memory has apparently had a mini-meltdown.

So, this just in: I’ve always been a bit of a news junkie, hardwired into cable news and the internet, but watching one popular uprising after another around the world produce nothing but a new roster of corrupt autocratic stooges (on top of our somewhat more sedate domestic iteration of the same dreary process) has finally, at least temporarily, burned out my political synapses. So I’ve decided to throw in the towel for a while and submerge myself in the soothing balm of the collected works of PG Wodehouse, which I first read many years ago but now seem even funnier. So for the next few weeks months years I plan to use Jeeves’ soothing purr to drown out the barking of the crowd  outside.

Meanwhile, for those of you who persist in paying attention, I suggest you take a gander at All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, a three-part documentary made by the remarkable Adam Curtis for the BBC in 2010. It is available, along with many of his other films, at the Internet Archive. Fascinating stuff. It explains the connections between, among other things, Ayn Rand, communes of the 60s, systems theory, the “balance of nature” and the rise of computers.

Speaking of Skynet, I seem to have acquired a NOOK Simple Touch e-reader just in time to watch Barnes & Noble implode completely. Well, it was both cheaper and snappier than the equivalent Kindle, and, unlike the Kindle, lets me add my own books in the widely-used epub format, so if B&N really does buy the farm it won’t be just a paperweight. The rationale for the acquisition (it was a Christmas gift) is that my left hand is largely dysfunctional because of the ms (and my right hand isn’t what it was either). This makes it impossible to handle a large book, especially a hardback. So now I have this little thing, just a bit bigger than a mass-market paperback, on which I am painlessly reading Haruki Murakami’s 944 page 1Q84, which weighs in at about three pounds in hardback, well beyond my comfort zone (I can’t even hold a coffee cup in my left hand). I wish the screen were a bit brighter, but I like the fact that it can’t do anything but show you a book. I actually find reading on this thing very natural, and the fact that I can make the type as large as I like takes away all the stress of trying to focus my eyes on a printed page. I still prefer paper, however, and hope real books are around for a long, long time.

Incidentally, I stopped by the local B&N the other day to buy a simple case for my Nook, and I was taken aback by the palpable desperation of the woman who showed me my choices. She strongly urged me to bring the little fellow in for a visit, perhaps take a class in Advanced Nookery (for a machine that comes with a three-page instruction manual?), buy some Nook bling, or just hang out in the Cafe, guzzling expensive bad coffee while reading ebooks for free. Wow. It was like those old Maytag commercials with Jesse White as the lonely repair guy.

It’s really too bad that I can’t publish The Word Detective on the Nook, but you can subscribe to The Word Detective for Kindle via that link or the link over there in the left column. Amazon was supposedly selling ten zillion Kindles per hour last month, so you should probably hop to it before they run out of electrons. Apparently you folks who bought a Kindle Fire (Brilliant name, doncha think? Kindle… Fire… get it?) are out of luck, as that particular gizmo demands a different format of website, or something. But it works with all the other, non-bloated-and-slow Kindii. My cut of your subscription, and I mention this only because I know you’re dying to know, amounts to exactly the cost of one-half can of Fancy Feast.

Come to think of it, any Nook or Kindle with even a rudimentary web browser can read this site.


We interrupt this digression for an important announcement: The Word Detective website depends on your support to pay the bills. If you find this little circus helpful, interesting, amusing and/or worthwhile, please subscribe or contribute to our survival. Fifteen bucks per year is only four pennies a day, but it makes a huge difference at this end. It’s like magic. Here’s your chance to be a magician.


Yes, well, there’s that. Thanks to all the folks who have contributed to our upkeep recently, and for the rest of youse, please consider tossing a farthing in the cap. As the poet said, “Four wee pennies a day keeps the worry-weebles at bay.” Or something. I think he drank.

And now, on with the show….

1 comment to January 2012 Issue

  • betsy

    I love the cartoon. I have been saying this to all my children since my daughter took latin and discovered the expression. Who says that dead languages are boring?

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