Newsletter 147 – December 2008


Number 147 – December 2008 – ISSN 1470-1863

Music, Arts, Culture, and Technology
as seen from digital hub Manchester UK

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Last-minute Xmas presents – and latest news

0—– “Global English Style Guide” – new book

Guest reviewer and newsletter subscriber
Mike Unwalla sent us news of a style guide
for writers aiming at an international

“Many people who do not speak English as
a first language struggle to understand
English texts. Human translation is expensive.
Machine translation (MT) frequently does not
work. Global English offers a solution to
these three related problems.”

Full details and Mike’s review here –

redbtn Global English Style Guide

0— Pub Quiz Question #1

Who was the first white woman vice presidential
candidate in the USA?

0— Xmas present – elegant notebooks

This is a bargain option for a present
to please anybody who likes luxurious
and elegant stationery.

The Moleskine series of notebooks are famous
for their soft leather-type covers, high
quality cream paper, and compact design.

They’re created for writing on the move,
and each one comes with a kangaroo-type
pouch in the back cover, plus and elasticated
fastener to keep everything in place.

‘As used by Van Gogh, Hemingway, and
Picasso’ might be marketing hype – but
they are a design classic at affordable prices.

redbtn Moleskine notebooks

0— Pub quiz – Question #2

Who was the wife of John Maynard Keynes?

0—– Xmas Present – the cheap netbook

Netbooks are in such big demand that the
market is flooded with them – and that’s
driving the prices down.

For someone you love (yourself?) a
guaranteed treat this year would be
one of the new Acer Aspire One models.

These have a 9″ screen, weigh less
than 1KG, have an 8GB solid state hard
disk, and retail at only 170 GBP, with
f.r.e.e delivery in the UK.

redbtn Acer Aspire netbooks

0— Pub quiz – Question #3

In which country was Antonio Salazar dictator?

0— Xmas presents – eBook readers

Here’s your quick, cheap, and cheerful
guide to the latest eBook readers.

** Amazon Kindle **

Bulky, only available in the US, limited formats


** BeBook **

Mid-price, upgradeable, full range formats
229 GBP


** CyBook Gen3 **

Good value, limited screen and controls
180 GBP


** Irex Iliad 1000s **

Large screen, WiFi (limited), expensive
449 GBP


** Sony Reader PRS-505 **

Stylish, good-value, upgradeable
199 GBP


0— Pub quiz – Question #4

Who launched the C5 electric three-wheeled car in 1985?

0— Xmas present – “Schott’s Almanac” – new edition

This book became a cult gift amongst my friends
over a recent Xmas – and it’s now on offer at
less than half price at Amazon.

It’s printed to look like an old encyclopedia,
but in fact it’s a brand-new collection of the
most amazing – and amusing – trivia.

It starts with the length of shoelaces you need
according to the number of holes in your shoes,
goes through who’s eligible and ineligible for
jury service, how to tie a bow tie, to who won
post war British elections.

My favourite for the dinner table quiz was how
to pronounce British toff surnames such as
Featherstonehaugh, Cholmondley, and Fiennes.

There’s serious stuff too – such as typographic
terms explained, Greek deities, and commonplace
terms in Latin and German – but it’s the fun
items which give the book its zest – such as
Cockney rhyming slang terms, untimely celebrity
deaths, and a schematic diagram of Dante’s Inferno.

I guarantee it will make you laugh.

redbtn Schott’s Almanac

0— Pub quiz – Question #5

What form did the monster Charybdis take?

0— Jan Tschichold – design titan

It’s not often that typographists are
lionised in the daily press, but Richard
Hollis had an excellent biographical
sketch on the German type and book designer
in the Guardian last week.


Moreover it was backed up by a slide show
gallery of his book and poster designs here


0— Pub quiz – Question #6

What everyday item is decorated with the King’s pattern?

0— Penguin goes for Mashups

The Penguin group are now jumping
onto the eBook bandwagon by offering
personalized, print-on-demand versions
of classics, iPhone downloadables, and
what they call ‘enriched classics’.

Here’s what you can have in Jane Austen’s
‘Pride and Prejudice’ for instance:

# A complete e-version of Pride & Prejudice
# A chronology and suggestions for further reading
# A filmography
# Period book reviews of Pride & Prejudice
# ‘What did Jane Eat?’ – selected period recipes
# A literary tour of noteworthy Jane Austen sites
# Period-appropriate black and white illustrations
# Linked notes and commentary

Their director of online sales said that in 2009
the company will introduce a program that allows
customers to choose from a variety of short stories,
essays, and other short standalone texts and combine
them into custom-made collections.


0— Pub Quiz – Question #7

What colour is associated with Roman emperors?

0— It’s back! Message from Albia

This month sees the return of a wonderful satirical
blog featuring news from Albia – a ‘constitutional
monarchy’ located on ‘the edge of Europe’.

Albia is governed by Prime Minister Bragdny Door,
head of the Noy Krep Proti. And its House of Commons,
the Zkum (the lower house of the Grevvitren) is
presided over by its speaker, Bagwynd Baffuld.

The nation is ruled by Queen Dowdi II, who has
a son the Heir Apparent Prinz Yusslez. He is
in love with his favourite horse, Kamella.

It’s written in spoof inflated eighteenth-century
manner and purports to be written by someone who
is living in a cupboard at his local cybercafe,
after being evicted from home by his wife.

Start with the Albia gazeteer and factbook,
then work your way up through the archives.
It’s great fun.


0— Pub quiz – Question #8

Which country’s stamps show the word “Hellas”?

0— Working from Home – guidance notes

We’ve got some new guidance notes with tips
on working from home. These were occasioned
by the transfer of our premises to the new
splendours of Mantex Towers earlier this year.

They are a combination of suggestions for making
your working space feel professional, how to get
by with minimum expense, and how to work in style
as a self-employed person.

redbtn Working from Home

0— Pub quiz – Question #9

Where is your tarsus?

0— Xmas present – Whitaker’s Almanac 2009

This is one of the most popular one-volume
works of reference dealing with current
affairs, recent history, and just about
every facet of public life in the UK.

It also provides basic information on all
the other countries of the world, lists the
current members of parliament, gives
details of currencies and exchange rates,
laws on births, deaths, and marriages – and
you can even check the tides for the coming

It’s a famous compilation, now in its 135th
edition. The 1878 edition was included in the
time capsule beneath Cleopatra’s needle;
Sherlock Holmes used it in when deciphering
a code in ‘The Valley of Fear’, and during
World War II, Winston Churchill wrote to the
editor asking that publication would not be
interrupted by the Blitz. Full review at –

redbtn Whitaker’s Almanack

0— Pub quiz – Question #10

What is oology?

0— Xmas present – Pears Encyclopedia 2008-2009

Pears Cyclopedia is a classic of facts and
knowledge. It packs all sorts of topics into
one handy volume.

There’s a potted chronology of world events;
a list of prominent people, with thumbnail
biographies; plus sections on literature,
art, and music with mini-essays.

It includes an atlas which even lists
details of small villages. Sections on
economics and politics; an encyclopaedia
of general knowledge, plus science and
the environment. Ideas and beliefs cover
the major world philosophies, plus the
myths and legends of the classical world.

Even though it’s revised each year, the
content is so useful it never goes out
of date. Ideal present.

redbtn Pear’s Cyclopaedia

0— Reader’s Letters and Corrections

French Letters

Damian Grant writes from Lille to say:
“The Academie Francaise has asked me to
write to point out that you have let yourself
down in the latest edition, with the statement
‘Mon Asus Nouveaux est arrive’ One would of
course normally say ‘nouveau Asus,’ but you
are allowed your allusion to Beaujolais

But here as well, you will notice, the
adjective is singular, not plural;
‘Asus nouveaux’ is a nouveau lapsus.


Wide of the Mark

Jim Aird writes from Edinburgh to ask:

“The Mantex Newsletter I receive is about
10cms wide which means it needs to be scrolled
down almost line by line. Can you tell me how
to increase its width and thereby make it
easier for me to read.”

Can anybody help here?


Charitable Words

And an outraged recipient of the newsletter
wrote – AFTER he had been unsubscribed:

“You need to look at how your subscription
system works as its currently breaking English law,
any subscription made on your system requires that
the email address that is input must be verified
by the owner of the email address, this is to
say that it will not be activated in my
situation until i authorise back to your
server that i am approving my registration.

Freecycle is a world wide Group and will if
required take legal action against outside
unauthorised use of its Group Owners email
addresses, as i have told you, in the UK we
are a registered charity helping many
unfortunate needy members of the public, so
i take great exception to the intrusion
you have sent me via your system.

Further under the Data Protection Act you
are required by law to give me details of
the person who registered my group email
address and by law your system should have
recorded the I P Address of who ever registered it.

I suggest you consider what i have said as a
further intrusion from your site will result
in immediate legal action.”

0— Pub quiz – ANSWERS

#1 Who was the first white woman vice presidential candidate in the USA?
ANSWER: Geraldine Ferraro (1984)

#2 Who was the wife of John Maynard Keynes?
ANSWER: Lydia Lopokova

#3 In which country was Antonio Salazar dictator?
ANSWER: Portugal

#4 Who launched the C5 electric three-wheeled car in 1985?
ANSWER: Clive Sinclair

#5 What form did the monster Charybdis take?
ANSWER: A whirlpool

#6 What everyday item is decorated with the King’s pattern?
ANSWER: Cutlery

#7 What colour is associated with Roman emperors?
ANSWER: Purple

#8 Which country’s stamps show the word “Hellas”?
ANSWER: Greece

#9 Where is your tarsus?

#10 What is oology?
ANSWER: The study of eggs

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All Rights Reserved

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ISSN 1470-1863
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