Newsletter 134 – November 2007


Number 134 – November 2007 – ISSN 1470-1863

Online Learning Courses – Language – Literature

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0— Online Learning Courses – now available

Our new collection of online learning
courses are now live and registering.

The first batch have been developed with
City College Manchester. They’re designed
to help students prepare for further and
higher education – but they’re suitable for
anybody who needs to sharpen their study
skills. Here’s the full list.

* Writing Essays
* Taking Notes
* Lab Reports
* Plagiarism
* Referencing
* Page Layout
* Writing Reports
* Web Design
* Presentations

Students can choose between self-assessed
and tutor-assessed versions.

The first are completed entirely on line,
using interactive self-assessment exercises.

The second also have self-assessment, plus a
written assignment which is marked by a tutor.

Students successfully finishing the course are
awarded a certificate from City College Manchester.

There’s a demo course which explains how
it all works, and the courses themselves
are remarkably good value for money.

For temporary login details and an explanatory
brochure, send an email message to –

0— Pub quiz – Question #1

Which English composer bought an orchard and
rescued several English apple types from extinction?

0— ‘The Language Report 2007’ – brand new book

Susie Dent reviews the latest slang,
new expressions, and uses of English
in her annual report.

Actually, this one covers the last five
years, and she deals with language in the
street, the media, and in politics.

Some of the worst abuses come from war,
such as ‘extraordinary rendition’ – two
words you wouldn’t previously have known
to mean ‘deportation for the purpose of

Fortunately, there are plenty of laughs
to offset the horrors. Full review at –

Totally Weird and Wonderful Words

0— Pub quiz – Question #2

How many sovereign states are there
on the Iberian peninsula?

0— ‘Moodle Teaching Techniques’ – brand new book

This is one for specialists. It’s a guide
for online course designers to using Moodle.

Moodle itself is a powerful and f.r.e.e
open source software program which has
swept through the world of further and
higher education – as well as schools.

It has more or less replaced programs
such as Web CT and Blackboard as the
vehicle for delivering online learning.

But its features and tools are enormously
complex, so course designers need help
in understanding how to use them.

This book offers a guided tour through
the lesson feature, the assignment, the
journal, blog, and wiki. It’s full of
screenshots – so you can’t get lost.

Moodle Teaching Techniques

0— Pub quiz – Question #3

What is the world’s tallest building?

0— ‘The Myth of Mars and Venus’ – new book

You’ve probably heard of a book with the
title “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”.

It was a bestseller which claimed that men
and women speak different languages – which
explains why they often don’t understand
each other.

This is a response to that claim, written by
academic linguist Deborah Cameron. She points
out that the claim is – not to put too fine
a point on it – all bollocks.

It’s a myth- with no hard evidence to support
the claim. More than that – like many myths,
it encourages stereotyping and prejudice.

Men and women might use language differently –
but that’s often because they are adopting
different roles. Scholarly, but very readable.

The Myth of Mars and Venus

0— Pub quiz – Question #4

Who is the only person to have won the
Nobel Prize in two different subjects?

0— ‘How Not To Say What You mean’ – new book

The subtitle here is “The Oxford Dictionary
of Euphemisms” – but there’s a lot more to
it than that.

This is a treasure trove for anybody who
is interested in deviant language, slang,
swearing, and expressions which conceal
lots more than they reveal.

But what makes it very readable is that
information about the origin and meaning
of terms is delivered in such a witty and
deadpan manner.

BESTSELLER – a book of which the first
impression is not remaindered

CONSULTANT – a senior employee who has
been dismissed

How Not to Say What You Mean

0— Pub quiz – Question #5

The novel Robinson Crusoe is based on whose experiences?


0— Pub quiz – Question #6

What can be a type of musket or a type of rhomboid?

0— ‘Bedside Virginia Woolf’ – new book

Actually, the full title is ‘The Bedside,
Bathtub and Armchair Companion to Virginia
Woolf and Bloomsbury’.

In fact it’s a guide to both these things,
and much more besides. It traces Woolf’s
life and gives an account of all her major
works – but there are also chapters on the
Hogarth Press, the major figures of Bloomsbury,
and the houses they all lived in.

What will make it more than usually attractive
to most readers is the fact that it’s very well
illustrated with pictures you’ve probably
not seen before. One for Xmas maybe?

The Bedside Virginia Woolf

0— Pub quiz – Question #7

What does a manometer measure the pressure of?

0— ‘High Performance Web Sites’ – new book

The guy who wrote this book calls himself a
‘frontend engineer’. He’s a designer at Yahoo
responsible for making their site work faster.

He explains fourteen strategies for making
web pages appear more quickly in a browser.

And they’re not overly-technical. The most
important for instance is that the page should
make as few HTTP requests as possible. And
style sheets should go in the page header, and
scripts at the bottom of the page.

His main argument is that only about ten
percent of the effort of getting the page
up is used on what’s written on screen.

The remaining ninety percent is taken up
with scripts, graphics, links, and other
stuff. That’s what you need to reduce.
And this shows you how to do it.

High Performance Web Sites

0— Pub quiz – Question #8

Which country ruled Greece until 1830?

0— F.r.e.e Word Game

If you get it right, you get a harder word.
If wrong, you get an easier word.

Your score goes up for correct answers,
then drops back if you get any wrong.
Maximum score is 50 – but the site warns
you that scores of 48 are rare.

WARNING: This game may make you smarter.
It may improve your speaking, writing,
thinking, grades, job performance…

For each word you get right, rice is
donated to the United Nations World
Food Program.

0— Pub quiz – Question #9

What is the capital of Senegal?


It’s a bit like YouTube – but with
cash incentives for the most viewings.

What I liked were the special categories
which deal with magic and card tricks,
how to do it quick repairs, and people
doing the most improbable stunts.

0— Pub quiz – Question #10

What is the main language of Andorra?

0— Reader’s Letters and Corrections

John Taylor writes from New York to say:

“It seems I’m always too busy to tell you how
much I appreciate reading the newsletter–even now!”

Well – he did warn us!

0— Pub quiz – ANSWERS

#1 Which English composer bought an orchard and
rescued several English apple types from extinction?
ANSWER: Gerald Finzi

#2 How many sovereign states are there
on the Iberian peninsula?
ANSWER: Three – Spain, Portugal, and Andorra

#3 What is the world’s tallest building?
ANSWER: Burj Dubai (553 metres)

#4 Who is the only person to have won the
Nobel Prize in two different subjects?
ANSWER: Marie Curie

#5 The novel Robinson Crusoe is based on whose experiences?
ANSWER: Alexander Selkirk

#6 What can be a type of musket or a type of rhomboid?
ANSWER: A fusil

#7 What does a manometer measure the pressure of?
ANSWER: Liquids

#8 Which country ruled Greece until 1830?
ANSWER: Turkey

#9 What is the capital of Senegal?

#10 What is the main language of Andorra?
ANSWER: Catalan

0— Coming soon

Designing Web Navigation


Vita and Harold – letters

The Edwardians – a novel

Hachette French Dictionary

(c) Copyright 2007, MANTEX
All Rights Reserved

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ISSN 1470-1863
The British Library

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