Semper Ubi Sub Ubi
And you may ask yourself What happened to the month of May?
And you may say, This is not my beautiful May Issue of The Word Detective!
And you may say, No, seriously, this is supposed to be a monthly deal! I’m paying to read this on my Kindle!
And I say, Mea culpa. You really wanna know what happened? OK, but after the jump.
Meanwhile, I did finally finish reading the 10,000-page opus 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (on my little Nook, with the font jacked up to 72 points). My one-word review: incompetent. Boy howdy, what a waste. A real shame. And I’m still annoyed at this dead goat of a book. Then again, I’m not alone. I just really wish I’d read this (major spoilers) before I wasted my time and retinas. Ho, ho, ho.
What else? Well, Google+ is pretty definitively kaput as far as I can tell. Frankly, they made it so difficult for non-heavy-hitters to play that I’m not gonna miss ‘em. Keep your dumb old API read-only, see if I care.
On the bright side, I’m here to say that I was wrong about Twitter. Someone recently tweeted (still hate that verb) that signing up for the service was like seeing “mastheads come to life,” which is a good way of putting it. I follow mostly writers, editors and journalists, and often see pointers to great stuff to read online that I otherwise would have missed. I’m also a fan of accounts like @pourmecoffee, @kenjennings and the late, all too brief @NotTildaSwinton. I know it was actually just two guys without jobs, but … maybe it really was Tilda. Come back, Tilda. Your Tildren miss you, and we miss your wisdom:
A mission for you. Go outside, hold an animal to your breast. That is real warmth, not the glow of your screen. I typed this on a rabbit.
Or maybe not. I guess wherever you are they don’t have biting flies.
Speaking of biting flies, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the recent brouhaha occasioned by the decision by The New Yorker to commission a review of Henry Hitchings’ new book “The Language Wars: A History of Proper English” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) by their, um, dance critic, Joan Acocella (who may be a fine dance critic but, in this case, has literally no grasp whatsoever of the subject she’s writing about). What, as they say on the internet, could possibly go wrong? A lot, in fact, and Steven Pinker summed it up nicely thus:
Not since Saturday Night Live’s Emily Litella thundered against conserving natural racehorses and protecting endangered feces has a polemicist been so incensed by her own misunderstandings.
Language Log was, of course, there for the ensuing dustup, and a good place to start, for those with lots of spare time and a desire to understand the ruckus, would be here. By the way, my father, William Morris, is mentioned early on in Ms. Aocella’s jeremiad. I’m fairly certain that he would not have been amused by her hallucinations.
So here’s the June Issue, which contains 18 columns (rather than the usual 12 or so) to make up for my tardiness. And thanks to all the folks who have contributed by subscribing lately. It would be awesome if more of you folks did. But it would also be great if you’d just send in some questions, since they are, after all, the raw material I need to run this circus, and the more I have the easier it is.
And now a depressing explanation of where the May Issue went:
Continue reading this post » » »
Semper Ubi Sub Ubi
Well, that was fun.
Back in the first week of April, I was putting together this issue when I noticed that some comments needed approving. So I started combing through them as usual, approving the sane ones and nuking the spam, when I noticed that one of the less coherent spam comments could not be deleted. As they say on Law & Order, DUM dum. That ain’t right.
So I decide to think on it for a while (which is my response to almost every crisis that doesn’t involve either loaded weapons or the fire department) and went back to updating the site. Which is when I noticed that the entire site had suddenly gone bananas. Password-protected subscriber-only posts were appearing on the front page (not good), the Ask a Question page was non-functional (really bad), and the Index of one zillion pages suddenly consisted of just two entries, both in the category of “Odds & Ends.” Boy howdy. OK, now I’m freaking out.
You may not know this, but when you read a blog or other site running on WordPress, what you’re seeing is actually data pulled from a separate MySQL database. Everything on this site — posts, comments, categories, dates, etc. — is data in tables in that database. So evidently My Little Database is borked. No problemo! I have site backups created every day by a plugin and stashed elsewhere in my hosting account at Pair.com. I’ll just fire up the old FTP program, fetch them and restore the whole shebang. Uh, no. Apparently the permissions on that target directory got changed at some point and all my backups since March 2011 have been sliding straight into the bit-bucket. They don’t exist. It is now 3 am and I am seriously starting to freak.
So I write to support at Pair.com. And they answer about five minutes later. At 3:30 am! I love Pair. They say they have a backup, but it’s a general server backup, so no guarantees. And, in fact, it makes things worse. So I go back to square one, install the latest version of WP, restore the site to what it was a year ago, and start manually editing the database.
As it stands now, the site contains everything it should, but there are gaps in its memory (sounds familiar). If you’re looking for a particular word or phrase, the search box at the top of the left column is probably the best way to find it. I’m going to keep working on it. As to how all this happened, I don’t know. It may have been a botched hack (I was using a version of WP that apparently had vulnerabilities) or it could have just been a toxic conflict between two of the dozen or so plugins that I use to make the site run. Part of my problem is that I’ve been tinkering and adding things for years, and I am no longer sure just how everything works. As to why this all took so long to sorta-fix, it’s because my eyes have been on the fritz lately, making it hard to see much of anything.
Anyway, we’re up and running, at least. This issue is a bit short, but I will do my best to produce a proper May issue withing the next two weeks. If you’d like to boost my morale, you might consider subscribing.
And now, on with the show.
Semper Ubi Sub Ubi
March already. Huh. Meh. Feh.
I’m not really complaining, you understand, but I’d like to point out that it snowed exactly three times this winter, and two times it didn’t stick at all. The third time amounted to about a half an inch, nowhere near enough to make snowballs for Brownie the Dog. Brownie likes me to throw snowballs for her to chase. Of course, the snowballs always land in the snow on the ground and become impossible to find, but as long as I make another one right away, she doesn’t mind. Brownie was deeply disappointed by that paltry excuse for snow, so I hope you’re happy, whoever you are. I ended up standing by the refrigerator and tossing her ice cubes, but that really wasn’t the same, and we ended up with little puddles all over the kitchen floor. Everything in this paragraph is true, by the way.
Speaking of little puddles, we finally finished watching Season II of Downton Abbey, about a week after we stumbled across this old article from the Daily Mail in 2011, which indicates that PBS, adjudging their audience to consist largely of enfeebleated droolers, decided to do away with the hard parts of the British version of the series, thus making time for the oleaginous Laura Linney to smooth out the rough edges with her cloying smarm. All this for a show that makes The Young and the Restless look like Hamlet. Duly noted for all concerned.
Anyway, we’re all glad everyone has been miraculously healed (Mein Fuhrer! I can walk!), except, one presumes, the horribly maimed chap who appeared claiming to be heir to the whole magilla but conveniently disappeared about ten minutes later and was, as this show is wont, promptly and utterly forgotten by the rest of the perpetually befuddled gang at the Big House. Elsewhere on Planet Gimmeabreak, I simply must remember to get one of those special ouija boards that have complete words (“Dad,” “farm,” “visit,” “happy,” etc.) spelled out across the top. I’ll bet it saves lots of time.
I kid, of course. Obviously Downton Abbey is far preferable to the vast wasteland of wretched dreck that constitutes US TV these days. People keep asking me if I’ve seen CSI or Special Victims Unit or Dexter or America’s Funniest Home Dungeons and I have to say, no, not yet, when what I really mean is no, not ever.
And as annoying as I find PBS 90% of the time, occasionally they show something like the BBC’s Little Dorrit a few years ago, which I would gladly watch again and may be just about the best thing I’ve ever seen on TV. It even made up for those New Age infomercials and ghastly Celtic Woman things I keep clicking past on PBS.
Onward. We now have a Twitter feed over there in the right column, but don’t expect much beyond pointers to the columns here unless I suddenly get a prescription for something very powerful. You might check the people I follow on that feed and find many of them interesting, as I do. Most of them have some connection to language or books.
We’re still on Facebook (sortof) and Google Plus (barely). I think Google blew it, frankly. The place is a ghost town, and trying to compel people to join when they sign up for Gmail is just obnoxious.
By the way, I do my best to keep up with comments on this site, but it might be a day or two before I get to yours, so please be patient. I approve almost everything, no matter how tangential or odd it may be, as long as it doesn’t abuse other commenters. As for email, I read everything but not always promptly, because my eyes have become sufficiently wonky that to read things I frequently have to crank up the font size to “ginormous” and park my nose about six inches from the screen.
So forward into Spring, I guess. Please remember (you asked me to remind you) to subscribe.
And please send in your questions. I know you have them. And I need them.
And now, on with the show….