This is a post in a series appearing each Friday, setting out some articles, videos, podcasts and the like that contributors at Slaw are enjoying and that you might find interesting. The articles tend to be longer than blog posts and shorter than books, just right for that stolen half hour on the weekend. It’s also likely that most of them won’t be about law — just right for etc.
Please let us have your recommendations for what we and our readers might like.
HiLobrow – With the Night Mail (1) – Rudyard Kipling – HiLowbrow ("Middlebrow is not the solution") is publishing this work from 1905 in instalments, one each Wednesday. Note the Canada connection in the first line: "At nine o’clock of a gusty winter night I stood on the lower stages of one of the G.P.O. outward mail towers. My purpose was a run to Quebec in 'Postal Packet 162 or such other as may be appointed'; and the Postmaster-General himself countersigned the order."
YouTube – Flying like a bird – Human Birdwings – That was then — and dirigible; this is now — and da Vinci. Watch as this aviator flies 100 metres with power-assisted wings that flap. Might be cooler than a jet pack.
National Post – Hillary Clinton, scientists launch fresh expedition in search of U.S. pilot Amelia Earhart – Andrew Quinn – The thing about flight, though, is that what goes up must come down. But where? Once again an expedition sets out to discover where America's aviatrix (and Captain Noonan) landed 75 years ago.
WolframAlpha Blog – Wolfram|Alpha Gets a Green Thumb with Plant Data – The "computational knowledge engine" ingests data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and stands ready to offer it up to us gardeners, now that spring is well and truly sprung (in some of the land, at least). Here, to get you started, is the link to the search results for Cirsium arvense, better known as Canada thistle. (Notice, by the way, that the hardiness zone information seems to know where I'm searching from. Cool. I think.)
New York Review of Books Blog – Age of Ignorance – Charles Simic – Knowledge machine be damned: according to Simic "Widespread ignorance bordering on idiocy is our new national goal." Politicians, it seems, talk nonsense and the people listen to them. Good thing that could never happen here.
CBS News – Pink slime in ground beef: What's the big deal? – news staff – Speaking of idiocy, take food, for example. From what I can find, this "pink slime," a.k.a. ammonia-treated "lean finely textured beef," has not made its way north of the border. But I wouldn't jubilate. Canada's Food Inspection Agency has just recalled 135 ground beef "products" for suspected E. coli. Grind your own, folks. It's the only way to go.
New York Times – Freud's Radical Talking – Benjamin Y. Fong – If all this anxiety about food has really got to you, you might want to consider psychoanalysis. Here's a well-written defence of the "talking cure." Says Fong, "Above all, this radical way of talking is defined by what appears to be extended pointlessness, something we are increasingly incapable of tolerating as the world around us moves ever faster."
Language Log – Winchester on Green and Lighter in NYRB – Geoffrey Nunberg – Some people talk pointlessly, others compile lists of words — and define them. Simon Winchester reviewed Jonathon Green's Dictionary of Slang recently, and in so doing he did an injustice to Jonathan Lighter, whose Dictionary of American Slang floats in publisher limbo, stuck at the letter O. This piece is Nunberg's attempt to set Winchester straight. Good, clear academic criticism.
Lapham's Quarterly – “I am very cold” “The parchment is very hairy.” – some monks – Making dictionaries is tedious work. And so was copying out manuscripts in the days before movable type. So tedious in fact that the monks would sometimes annotate their copies with complaints in the margins. Here is a small, delightful collection of these marginalia.
Project Gutenberg – 1811 Dictionary in the Vulgar Tongue – Francis Grose – A feast for word lovers here: old slang from ABBESS, or LADY ABBESS, A bawd, the mistress of a brothel. to ZAD. Crooked like the letter Z. He is a mere zad, or perhaps zed; a description of a very crooked or deformed person. Pick your format, and you'll find yourself suddenly full of words you're longing to use, such as "sneaksby" or "pillaloo" or even "dew beaters."