Posts filed under “Books & Literature”
How long do they last, those boilerplate texts that spam commenters use in their attempted blog postings? We have already seen that many of them seem to be picked from circulating manuals of spam commentry, very much like the standard letter-writers that used to be popular in the Victorian era. But how long do those circulating manuals keep circulating? We just received one comment that may give us some clue if we interpret it correctly:
Hi there! Someone in my Myspace group shared this website with us so I came to check it out. I’m definitely enjoying the information.
This indicates that some of our spam-commenting manuals date from the Pleistocene era of the Internet.
Perhaps we ought to speak in terms of half-lives. Like radioactive materials, the spam-commenting manual is probably very active when it is new, but then gradually settles down, only firing off an occasional gamma ray to let us know it still has some life left in it.
At any rate, Dr. Boli really hated to mark this comment as spam. It felt like smashing a valuable antique. Eventually he settled on presenting the text here, shorn of any hyperlinks that might mislead the unwary, and deleting the comment itself.
G. K. Chesterton is a favorite among many of Dr. Boli’s readers. No more excuse is needed for this announcement that Serif Press, an enterprise intimately associated with Dr. Boli’s Celebrated Publishing Empire, has put together a fat book of Chesterton writing that most of Chesterton’s fans have probably never read—more than 400 pages with 55 different pieces taken from newspapers, magazines, and introductions to other people’s books (one of Chesterton’s most characteristic forms of writing). But if a further excuse were requested, Dr. Boli might point out that the volume also includes a new introduction by H. Albertus Boli.
If you have been wondering what to get your crotchety old aunt for Christmas, The Miscellaneous Chesterton is the perfect gift to make her even more crotchety. It works equally well for uncles. University libraries will need to order the book in bulk. Members of one political party (it makes no difference which) will want to hand out copies at rallies to prove that Chesterton predicted the errors of the other party (it makes no difference which) a century ago. Survivalists will want to stock up on a book that not only will provide precious entertainment when the apocalypse comes, but also will provide precious fuel when the wood runs out. In short, every class of person and institution needs this book, and needs it in large quantities.
But perhaps the ones who need it most of all are the people who enjoy reading Chesterton and wish they had more Chesterton to read. Here is a small collection of quotations culled from the pieces in the book, just to show that, no matter what the occasion, Chesterton is always Chestertonian.
A teacher who is not dogmatic is simply a teacher who is not teaching.
While order would make the Cabinet Minister appear as automatic as the cow, literature would, on the other hand, make the cow appear as disturbing and incredible as the Cabinet Minister.
I am concerned here only with urging that aristocracy is in its essence anarchic. It is a mere trend towards that vague victory of the fortunate over the unfortunate which would occur more completely if there were no government at all.
Aristocracies in a state mean simply the strength of Nature and the weakness of the state; just as weeds in a garden mean the strength of Nature and the weakness of the gardener.
Political equality grows greater by being remembered, like the words of the American Declaration. But political inequality grows greater by being forgotten, like the power of the American Trusts.
Capitalism is not at present even a practical success, far less a moral or artistic one.
Art exists solely in order to create a miniature universe, a working model of the universe, a toy universe which we can play with as a child plays with a toy theatre.
A great drama of the past does not consist of one sincerity. A great drama consists often of twenty sincerities, all colliding with each other.
When chaos overcomes any moral or religious scheme, it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are let loose and wander and do terrible damage. But the virtues are let loose even more; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage.
A seven-headed dragon is, perhaps, a very terrifying monster. But a child who has never heard about him is a much more terrifying monster than he is. The maddest griffin or chimera is not so wild a supposition as a school without fairy-tales.
Our historians lie much more than our journalists; our fashionable conceptions of the past change with every fashion; and like most fashions, are fantastic and hideous.
The first use of good literature is that it prevents a man from being merely modern.
Without education we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.
In dealing with the arrogant asserter of doubt, it is not the right method to tell him to stop doubting. It is rather the right method to tell him to go on doubting, to doubt a little more, to doubt every day newer and wilder things in the universe, until at last, by some strange enlightenment, he may begin to doubt himself.
Now, when you are in the proper Chestertonian frame of mind, would be the perfect time to dash on over and order the book. You might also like to mention it to your Chesterton-loving friends, if you have any friends left after quoting so much Chesterton at them.
Contract expert Simon Legree explains to Uncle Tom the provisions of his Terms and Conditions and E-Sign Disclosure Notice.
“I have read and accept the Terms and Conditions and E-Sign Disclosure Notice,” say the words beside the little check box. And you check the box and go on, because without checking the box, you cannot go on—you cannot order your consumer goods, or pay your bill, or live your life on the Internet.
But you have not read the Terms and Conditions and E-Sign Disclosure Notice. You did not even click on the link to the Terms and Conditions and E-Sign Disclosure Notice. You lied. In fact, since this is presented as a legal document, you committed perjury.
Why did you not read the Terms and Conditions and E-Sign Disclosure Notice? Because they were, in this case, 6,573 words long. That is quite an ordinary length for Terms and Conditions.
How does that compare to things you would willingly read?
In the New York Times, a newspaper renowned for its copy-heavy greyness, the average article is 1200 words. Assuming you read them at the same speed, you could read these Terms and Conditions in the amount of time it would take you to read five and a half New York Times articles.
But you could not read them at the same speed, because the Terms and Conditions are so dull that your brain will shut down in self-defense about a thousand words into them. A New York Times feature about allegations of corruption in the Nepalese Ministry of Agriculture is the soul of entertainment by comparison.
Yet you may be expected to swear that you have read documents like this several times a day. You have probably sworn, over the last month, that you have read hundreds of thousands of words of legal jargon that would have made no sense to you even if you had opened the page.
What can be done about this? Years ago, Dr. Boli would have said that no court would take such a supposed agreement seriously. There can be no agreement when knowing the terms of the agreement is quite literally impossible for any normal human being.
Courts, however, have adapted to the realities of life in the twenty-first century. It is now very likely that a court would agree that you should have known what the terms were, because they were right there for you to click on whenever you liked. You had the choice: you could decide to be a Luddite. But if you have decided to avail yourself of the privilege of existing in a world where an Internet connection is required for anything you desire to accomplish, then you will agree to the conditions, whatever they may be, and if you want your firstborn back you will do it without poking too deeply into the text of those conditions.
Thus we seem to have come to a point where a contract is no longer an agreement between parties, but rather a series of conditions imposed at will upon one person by another person or entity. The technical term for such a relation between parties is slavery, and Dr. Boli recalls that years ago there was some movement to amend the Constitution to prohibit it; but evidently the movement came to nothing.
The answer to our question of what can be done, therefore, is clear. When conditions are imposed unilaterally, one must manage to be the imposer rather than the imposed-upon. Dr. Boli, for example, has drawn up a list of terms and conditions that will be imposed upon any entity expecting to receive on-line payments from him. Curiously, in his version of the contract, the payments all flow toward him rather than away from him. But that is the price these businesses will have to pay for the convenience of doing business with him without having to push a cart up his street (which is, by the way, a very steep street). The alternative for them, of course, would be to admit that they committed perjury when they swore that they had read the terms and conditions thoroughly before continuing with the transaction, and the consequences of that admission might be worse than the consequences of Dr. Boli’s terms and conditions.
Sir: It has become apparent that I am not sane. I say it has become apparent: I mean, of course, that the wallabies told me. I believe implicitly what the wallabies tell me. I am not in fact disappointed: the rest of the world is stark raving mad, so I should fit in very well, for perhaps the first time in my life. The wallabies tell me that this is so, and I have faith that it is.
But what irks me is that, in your article on the Voynich Manuscript, you mentioned several obviously incorrect and even internally inconsistent theories, but you failed to mention that I have solved the puzzle correctly, thus rendering the other theories moot, and you have deprived me of another opportunity to say the word “moot,” which I like to say, moot moot moot moot moot moot moot moot moot moot moot.
The Voynich Manuscript, as I have proved myself, without the help of the wallabies, although they have attempted to claim credit and I have had to be very stern with them, is a coded guide to deciphering the code in the Voynich Manuscript. This explains everything about the Voynich Manuscript. The guide is written in an unbreakable cipher, which you would have to break in order to learn the secret of deciphering the Voynich Manscript, and this is why it has not been deciphered. Thus the book is written in such a way that the knowledge it contains is kept secure from the merely curious; and at the same time it contains the key to its own decipherment, which would be a boon to the discerning reader who likes to say boon boon boon boon boon boon boon boon boon boon boon, except that the key is itself in the same cipher, which renders the boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot boon moot.
And now, if you will excuse me, I have to clean the wallaby run.
——Sincerely, Leominster Taylor Jr. IV.
The Voynich Manuscript, that wonderfully imaginative botanical treatise whose author, not content with drawing imaginary plants, used imaginary language to describe them, is available in high-resolution scans at the Internet Archive.
It is impossible to improve upon the Voynich Manuscript itself, of course. It is unique; it could not have been improved if someone had strapped Dr. Seuss into a time machine and sent him back six hundred years. But Dr. Boli would really like to draw your attention to the “reviews” on the Archive.org page. Almost every single one has solved the wonderful mystery and unlocked the code, revealing that the manuscript is a treatise on women’s health, a message from the stars, a book of hallucinogenic herbs; the language proves to be proto-Romance, Berber, Scots Gaelic, Macedonian, one of the Landa scripts of Punjab, Syriac, Russian, or Arabic or Farsi or Greek (the reviewer seems to regard these three as more or less interchangeable).
The definiteness of the statements is wonderfully reassuring. Almost every reviewer has found the only possible solution to the puzzle.
“The Book basically describes transpeicies migration. How Fauna based life form migrate from plant to animal – e.i. human life forms.”
“Much of the text is a list of overwhelmingly Finno-Uralic names with some Dutch, Danish, French, and German tossed in now and then.”
“This is the first five books of King James. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Even though this was wrote 200 years prior.” (For the depth of erudition it displays, this is probably Dr. Boli’s favorite.)
“The algorithm is written on page 116. There is written the at Czech language. Have you found ( algorithm)!!!”
“If you study the history of Landa languages. The character hiding and mixing still happens in business communities in remote villages in Multan in Pakistan, to this day. Please widen your knowledge as I have detailed as much as possible, There is no alternative to this, because this is the truth. All the researchers so far have guessed and fooled public. I want to emphasis this again ‘English does not have these sounds’.”
“completely readable. If one backs up from trying to crack its language you can see that its in three different languages.. one is picture language, 2nd is plant language and third is most important, it is star constellations language.. Its actually telling you a story you are not ready to here..its repeating the same message on every page too..”
You will spend an hour reading these reviews, but it will be an hour well spent. You will know nothing more than you already knew about the Voynich Manuscript, of course, but you will know a great deal more about human psychology than you knew before.
Danger (noun, chiefly Southern).—One who or that which curses mildly.
The answer to yesterday’s literary puzzle: the illustration advertises H. G. Wells’ Outline of History, one of the most popular books of the early twentieth century—perhaps because its publishers knew a thing or two about promoting historical works.