Newsletter 137 – February 2008
——– MANTEX NEWSLETTER ——–
Number 137 – February 2008 – ISSN 1470-1863
Art, Music, Culture, and Technology
as seen from sunny Manchester UK
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0— ‘Using Moodle’ – new second edition
Moodle is software which allows teachers to
put their online learning materials into a
This provides you with all sorts of tools
for enhancing your course materials: quizzes,
discussion forums, student journals, email
chatrooms, and it’s even got its own built-in
blogs and Wiki.
It’s currently knocking spots off established
software such as Blackboard and WebCT – with
schools, colleges, and universities making
*huge* savings on their budgets.
This is the latest edition of a user’s manual
written by Jason Cole, an American academic
now based at the Open University – which has
just adopted Moodle.
If you’re going to use Moodle, you’ll need
all the help you can get. And it’s here.
0— Pub Quiz Question #1
What was the name of Dagwood Bumstead’s wife?
0— The MacBook ‘Air’ has arrived
I don’t normally pay much attention to
Apple-Mac developments, but the arrival of
its ultra-slim laptop could hardly be
It’s only three-quarters of an inch at
its thickest point, and weighs three pounds.
Steve Jobs uses a great piece of dramatic
visual presentation by pulling his demo
copy out of a paper bag.
See his showcase video here, and watch the
official ad if you feel like buying one.
But it will cost you twelve hundred pounds.
That’s why I’ll be going for the Asus PC,
because it costs one sixth of that.
And it’s even smaller.
0— Pub quiz – Question #2
Of which fruit is ‘Pearmain’ a variety?
0— ‘Paris Interiors’ – glamorous design
Somebody gave me this book as a Xmas present,
and I have been thanking them ever since.
It’s one of those lavishly illustrated
compendiums of photographs of household
interiors – ranging from swanky modern
penthouses to classic Parisian apartments.
My favourite was an ultra minimalist
temple owned by Thierry Mugler – who just
happens to be my perfumier. Coooool.
0— Pub quiz – Question #3
What connects Kabul with Peshawar?
0— Neologism Ahoy!
Would you know a sockpuppet if you saw one?
And even more, what would it have to do
with astroturfing – if anything?
I came across a whole slew of new terms
recently – all to do with creating bogus
identities and fake opinions on line.
A sockpuppet is a false identity used for
purposes of deception in an Internet
community. The sock sets up stupid Aunt
Sally comments which the puppeteer (in real
persona) then demolishes to gain credit.
Astroturfing gets its name from the fact
that it is pretending to be ‘grassroots’
support for something – but in fact it’s
a fake construction by stealth marketeers
and public relation wonks. Read it all here.
0— Pub quiz – Question #4
Which wine comes from Worms?
0— ‘Omega and After’ – modernist design
The Omega Workshops was a short-lived but
very influential artists’ co-operative
that sprang up just before the first
It was the brainchild of Roger Fry, who
was both a painter and an art critic.
He thought artists should be able to earn
a living if they applied their talents to
interior design, the decorative arts, and
the production of lovely objects.
This beautifully illustrated book shows
the results – brightly coloured fabrics,
pottery, carpets, and wall coverings
which still look modern today.
0— Pub quiz – Question #5
Which Australian city was named after the
wife of King William IV?
0— Clive Bell – biographical notes
This is one of our recent additions to Bloomsbury
portraits. Clive bell was an art critic and a
bon viveur with a appetite for posh women.
He was married to Vanessa Bell for a while,
but he drifted off when she threw her lot in
with fellow artist Duncan Grant, despite the
fact that he preferred men. And all three remained
friends forever after. Tolerant, or what?
0— Pub quiz – Question #6
What separates Alaska from the other 48 US states?
0— F.r.e.e Online Open Office
Well, the Open Office suite is free anyway –
but now you don’t even need to download and
install it on your computer.
Ulteo.com are offering a f.r.e.e online
version, with 1GB of storage space where
you can store your data.
And if you didn’t know, Open Office is more
than just a word-processor. It has spreadsheets,
presentation software, and a database.
In other words, it’s a f.r.e.e version of
the Microsoft Office Suite, which would cost
you nearly a hundred quid. Nudge, nudge.
0— Pub quiz – Question #7
What kind of weapon was an arbalest?
0— Lots of f.r.e.e Music
I fell in love recently – a strange
thing to happen at my stage in life.
And I’m still in the first flush of
its impact on me.
Last.fm offers an amazing cornucopia
of music. It’s a site that proves
the new web economics notion that
the best way to sell things is to
give stuff away.
I put the site to a fairly severe test
by typing in the name of one of my
favourite pianists – Michel Petrucciani –
who is hardly a household name.
It came up with a biography, pictures,
details of all his CDs, video clips,
and enough freely playable tracks to
keep me distracted the whole of a late
The software makes a database of your
choices; you can join groups; and even
create your own radio station.
I now switch off BBC Radio 3 at five
o’clock when windbag Sean Rafferty
comes on – and tune in to Last.fm
0— Pub quiz – Question #8
The capital of Japan is an anagram
of which former capital?
0— Leslie Stephen – biographical notes
Second in our cultural portraits is the man
who could justifiably claim to be the
Father of Bloomsbury.
The simple reason is that it was his children
Adrian, Vanessa (Bell) and Virginia (Woolf)
who started it all.
But Leslie Stephen was an interesting man
in his own right. His first wife was
William Makepeace Thackery’s daughter;
he was the editor of the Dictionary of
National Biography; and he was a famous
Alpinist who popularised the vogue for
mountaineering. Learn more at –
0— Pub quiz – Question #9
What do Leo Tolstoy and Leos Janacek have in common?
0— YouTube pays for your video clips
YouTube have announced that they will be
sharing advertising revenue with people
whose uploaded clips get most viewings.
This is good news for amateur video
makers – and I can tell you which ones
are most popular.
It’s either amazing stunts or coincidences,
or instructional demos – such as those made
by Lauren Luke, a self-employed mother from
South Shields (Tyneside).
She has made over 100 of them, showing girls
how to apply make-up. They’ve been watched over
two million times. Lots of dosh coming your
Actually, YouTube (owned by Google) won’t
reveal what percentage of the takings they’ll
be passing on – but it’s worth a try.
Meanwhile, there are also lots of very
popular clips showing you how to make
instructional videos! The medium might
be disappearing up its own USB connection.
0— Pub quiz – Question #10
Who wrote ‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’?
0— Manchester Poetry Prize 2008
We’re quite well off for universities
here in Manchester – four if you count
Salford which is next door.
And they’re keen on writing just at
the moment. The ‘old’ university has
employed Martin Amis as a creative
writing fellow, and it’s had Terry
Eagleton as a ‘real’ professor – both
paid three thousand pounds an hour.
Now the ‘new’ Metropolitan University
[the Poly to you and me] has raised the
local stakes by creating a poetry prize
worth 10,000 pounds – which is a lot of
moolah just for writing a few po-ems.
They’ve even thrown in a study bursary
for the best entrant 18-25 years old.
Full details from mid-February onwards at –
0— The only word in the English language with
three consecutive double letters is ‘bookkeeper’.
0— US Concerns for IT future
George W. Bush’s recent query:
“Will the highways on the Internet become more few?”
0— Pub quiz – ANSWERS
#1 What was the name of Dagwood Bumstead’s wife?
#2 Of which fruit is ‘Pearmain’ a variety?
#3 What connects Kabul with Peshawar?
ANSWER: The Khyber Pass
#4 Which wine comes from Worms?
#5 Which Australian city was named after the
wife of King William IV?
#6 What separates Alaska from the other 48 US states?
ANSWER: British Columbia
#7 What kind of weapon was an arbalest?
ANSWER: A giant crossbow
#8 The capital of Japan is an anagram
of which former capital?
#9 What do Leo Tolstoy and Leos Janacek have in common?
ANSWER: The Kreutzer Sonata
#10 Who wrote ‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’?
ANSWER: Charles Mingus
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