A live toad every morning

Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Monday, April 14, 2014

Commonplace Songbook

Lord Elderly, Lord Borrowmere,
Lord Sickert and Lord Camp.
With every virtue, every grace,
Ah, what avails the sceptred race.

Here you see the four of us,
And there are so many more of us-
Eldest sons
That must succeed.
We know how Caesar conquered Gaul,
And how to whack a cricket ball;
Apart from this, our education
Lacks co-ordination.
Though we're young,
And tentative,
And rather rip-representative
Scions of a noble breed,
We are the products of those homes,
Serene and stately,
That only lately,
Seem to have run to seed.

The stately homes of England
How beautiful they stand,
To prove the upper classes
Have still the upper hand.
Though the fact that they have to be rebuilt,
And frequently mortgaged to the hilt
Is inclined to take the gilt
Off the gingerbread,
And certainly damps the fun
Of the eldest son-
But still, we won't be beaten,
We'll scrimp and scrape and save.
The playing fields of Eton
Have made us frightfully brave.
And though if the Van Dycks have to go
And we pawn the Bechstein Grand,
We'll stand
By the stately homes of England.

Here you see
The pick of us.
You may be heartily sick of us.
Still, with sense
We're all imbued.
Our homes command extensive views,
And with assistance from the Jews,
We have been able to dispose of
Rows and rows and rows of
Gainsboroughs and Lawrences,
Some sporting prints of Aunt Florence's,
Some of which were rather rude.
Although we sometimes flaunt our family conventions,
Our good intentions
Mustn't be misconstrued.
The stately homes of England,
We proudly represent.
We only keep them up
For Americans to rent.
Though the pipes that supply the bathroom burst,
And the lavatory makes you fear the worst,
It was used by Charles I
(Quite informally),
And later by George IV,
On a journey north.
The state departments keep their
Historical renown.
It's wiser not to sleep there,
In case they tumble down.
But still, if they ever catch on fire,
Which, with any luck, they might,
We'll fight
For the stately homes of England.

The stately homes of England,
Though rather in the lurch,
Provide a lot of chances
For psychical research.
There's the ghost of a crazy younger son,
Who murdered in 1351
An extremely rowdy nun,
Who resented it,
And people who come to call
Meet her in the hall.
The baby in the guest wing
Who crouches by the grate,
Was walled up in the west wing,
In 1428.
If anyone spots
The Queen of Scots
In a hand-embroidered shroud,
We're proud
Of the stately homes of England.

Commonplace songbook


When the union's inspiration through the workers' blood shall run,
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun;
Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one,
But the union makes us strong.

CHORUS:
Solidarity forever,
Solidarity forever,
Solidarity forever,
For the union makes us strong.

Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite,
Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might?
Is there anything left to us but to organize and fight?
For the union makes us strong.

It is we who plowed the prairies; built the cities where they trade;
Dug the mines and built the workshops, endless miles of railroad laid;
Now we stand outcast and starving midst the wonders we have made;
But the union makes us strong.

All the world that's owned by idle drones is ours and ours alone.
We have laid the wide foundations; built it skyward stone by stone.
It is ours, not to slave in, but to master and to own.
While the union makes us strong.

They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn,
But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn.
We can break their haughty power, gain our freedom when we learn
That the union makes us strong.

In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold,
Greater than the might of armies, magnified a thousand-fold.
We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old
For the union makes us strong.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Harrowing

The Harrow school song -
Forty years on, growing older and older,
Shorter in wind, as in memory long,
Feeble of foot, and rheumatic of shoulder,
What will it help you that once you were strong?
God gives us bases to guard or beleaguer,
Games to play out, whether earnest or fun,
Fights for the fearless, and goals for the eager,
Twenty, and thirty, and forty years on!



Interesting that they don't seem to contemplate anybody lasting to their fiftieth anniversary, which in my case with my school comes this year.


Wednesday, April 02, 2014

DSM - Dumb Stupid Manual

From a Crooked Timber post,
I appreciate that "the population with a diagnosis of autism" is diverse, but I can't see that the present article gets us much further, accepting as it does that there is a single condition that is autism. 
Given, as we appear to agree, that there is little necessarily in common between the people who have the diagnosis, the most probable explanations would seem to be that the name covers several conditions with overlapping symptoms or that the definition is terminally vague and just consists of the constituent elements of human behavior prefaced by the words "too much" or "too little".
It's certainly true that in the US at least the DSM-IV definition makes diversity inevitable, involving as it does a Chinese menu approach to diagnosis - "(I) A total of six (or more) items from (A), (B), and (C), with at least two from (A), and one each from (B) and (C)" - which leads by perms and combs to thousands of different presentations. This diagnostic approach would tend to lead to the conditions-with-overlapping-symptoms problem; the vaguer DSM-V approach approaches the second "too much of things"  problem.
At the very least, talk about 'the autisms'; ideally, drop the term altogether and talk in terms of actual describable problems of communication, behavior, and the like. 'Autism' is incurable; problems with communication suggest trials of AAC.

Incidentally, do American Chinese restaurants still have menus like that?  I've never seen one in my visits.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Glassholes - Comment on a post at Stross's Antipope


Just to add a few disruptors, I can't imagine that google glasses will have any difficulty reading cards and remembering them, thus giving any oik the ability to win at blackjack in casinos. Plainly casinos won't let them in while they can recognise them, but I can't think that'll be long.
and it shouldn't be too hard to break roulette by working out the speed of the ball and the speed of the wheel; Claude Shannon, the information theorist, worked on that for a while - see The First Wearable Computer (http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~evans/thorp.pdf) -- and did quite well even with the technology of the time.
The only gambling operations that can really survive google glasses are the purely random ones, like poker machines.

Historicity

Interesting article on historicity in TV historidramas, flagged here so I can find it later.



WORDS you can't say on the internet

Daily Mail ad on Daily mail site - "Put down that phone, you p**t!" - referring to someone tweeting during Benn's funeral, but of interest for its asterisks.  The full article gives 'prat', unredacted; but why would one ever bowdlerise the word, which isn't even from an obscene root - or am I the naive one, with pratting being featured in the aristocrats joke?
Checks:

prat

Line breaks: prat

noun

informal
  • 2A person’s buttocks.

Origin

mid 16th century (in sense 2): of unknown origin. sense 1 dates from the 1960s.

I never knew that.

Yes, well, but we don't say b*tt*cks, or even b*m.  Yet?




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