Newsletter 174 – December 2011


Number 174 – December 2011 – ISSN 1470-1863

Arts, Culture, and Technology as seen from
the digital hub of Media city Manchester UK

Fill your Xmas stocking with these goodies!
The best of 2011 – plus lots of new stuff

0—    Virginia Woolf’s life – [biography]

* Biographies are popular with everyone *

Two new Woolf life studies have appeared
in the last few weeks.

The first, by Elizabeth Wright is a short
introduction to both Woolf’s life and her
amazing production of novels, biographies,
essays, and diaries.

redbtn Virginia Woolf – A biography

Alexandra Harris puts most of her emphasis
on Woolf’s writing, so you get a presentation
of the major novels as well as the life.

She also includes some nice illustrations and
photographs of the principal figures in the
Bloomsbury Group.

redbtn Virginia Woolf – An introduction

0—    Pub Quiz – Question #01

Which country gave birth to Mulligatawny soup?

0—    “Just My Type”    – [design]

* Radio 4’s ‘Book of the Week’ *

This was one of my favourite reading
experiences of the last year.

It’s a book about typography, font design, and
print aesthetics. Plus profiles of the most
famous modern designers.

There’s nothing over-technical or geeky about
Simon Garfield’s approach. He writes as a true
amateur (a lover) of the subject – and he’s
very funny too.

redbtn Just My Type

0—    Pub Quiz – Question #02

For what was Al Capone imprisoned?

0—    “A History of Dictionaries”

* For lexicography anoraks *

Something of a speciality – a brief
study of how dictionaries are made.

Includes the history of recording the
meanings of words, how they change over
time, and what should or should not be

It comes right up to date with a chapter
on Wiktionary and the Urban Dictionary.

redbtn Dictionaries – a history

0—    Pub Quiz – Question #03

Who is Flash Gordon’s girlfriend?

0—    Fountain Pen Mania

No matter how much you think you know about
fountain pens – these guys will knock your
socks off. It’s a forum where pens, nibs, ink,
paper, and converters are discussed; prices
for antique and rare items quoted; and
techniques for

redbtn Fountain Pen Forum

0—    Pub Quiz – Question #04

Anosmia is the loss of which sense?

0—    “Filthy English” [language]

* Definitely not suitable for your mother-in-law *

This is an amazingly funny, scholarly, and
completely enjoyable study of swearing.

Phil Silverton takes you through a whole history
of post-war Britain, highlighting the classic moments
at which certain taboo words were used – in print, on
the radio, and on television.

In the meantime he does a survey of all the words
you could imagine for all sorts of amazing acts.

You might buy this one for your naughty cousin
or brother-in-law. It’s a laugh from start to finish.

redbtn Filthy English

0—    Pub Quiz – Question #05

What’s another name for Suriname?

0—    “Romantic Moderns” [cultural history]

* Any culture-lover will thank you for this *

It’s is one of the most beautifully produced
books I have seen for a long time.

Alexandra Harris looks at images and themes
of a romantic nature in English culture.

She covers an astonishingly wide range of
topics. Subjects include English country houses,
seascapes, Victorian revivalism, cuisine and
gastronomy, the BBC, literary criticism,
watercolour painting, music, travel writing,
film, landscape gardening, and even the weather.

It’s a profusely illustrated production, with
photos and full colour reproductions throughout.

redbtn Romantic Moderns

0—    Pub Quiz – Question #06

What is the more common name for the Oesophagus?

0—    Drive the new Peugeot RCZ

Cute mashup created by linking Google
Earthview pages to form a stop-motion
video – advertising a new car.

Create your own journey – from home or
somewhere famous. Here’s a tip – keep
the journey short to avoid long time
waiting for the software to stitch the
pictures together.

redbtn Drive the new Peugeot

0—    Pub Quiz – Question #07

By what name was Asa Yoelsen better known?

0—    Cloud Computing – what is it?

The Open University’s John Naughton
explains the principles of cloud computing.

It’s a system in which most of the software
you use is stored remotely, on somebody else’s
equipment. They maintain it for you – f.r.e.e

He also compares the services offered by
Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Dropbox

redbtn Cloud computing

0—    Pub Quiz – Question #08

Which European flag is blue with a yellow cross?

0—    Nominal Determinism anybody?

Nominative determinism is a theory
which states that a person’s name may
have a bearing on the function they
perform in society.

Gardeners’ Question Time boasts the
following examples

Bunny Lewis, Bob Flowerdew, Pippa Greenwood,
and Ann Swithinbank.

0—    Pub Quiz – Question #09

What is the world’s smallest bird?

0—    AbeBooks – Weird Book Room

If you didn’t already know, AbeBooks is a
reasonable alternative to Amazon for tracking
down cheap or out-of-print books.

But they also have a sense of humour – with
a special section of titles you can hardly
believe. But these are real books you can order –

“History of Cannibalism”

“Home and Recreational use of High Explosives”

“Beyond Leaf Raking”

“How to Make Love whilst Conscious”

“Scouts in Bondage”

“The Bible and Flying Saucers”

“How to Avoid Huge Ships”

“How to be Happy though Married”

“Teach your Wife to be a Widow”

and my all time favourite – still in print

“Is Your Dog Gay?”

redbtn Weird books

0—    Pub Quiz – Question #10

How many old pennies were there in a guinea?

0—    Hackgate Watch

When speaking about having long-lens
shots taken by paparazzi while on holiday,
J.K.Rowling said:

“To call a spade a spade, I’m a writer,
so I don’t think it’s of any public interest
what I look like in a swimsuit.”


#10  Which is the only bird that can fly without flapping its wings?
ANSWER: Albatross

John Rostron writes on the albatross.

Although the Albatross can undoubtedly fly vast
distances without noticeably flapping its wings,
it is not the only one.

Shearwaters are the best-known examples in the UK.
They are like miniature albatrosses, and are in a
related family.

In addition to these seabirds, there are many land
soarers. Buzzards, vultures and eagles can fly for
hours just using upcurrents of wind, again without
noticeably flapping their wings.


Oxford commas, etc. Just after reading your newsletter
(only two wrong answers in the quiz!), I logged onto
the Radio 4 website.

See what a splendid comma-related example I found:

You and Yours 26/10/2011

Available to listen
Why washing laundry at low temperatures might not
kill bugs and electronic NHS records.

Tut-tut. This is radio 4, surely?


0—    Pub quiz – ANSWERS

#1. Which country gave birth to Mulligatawny soup?
ANSWER:  India

#2  For what was Al Capone imprisoned?
ANSWER: Tax evasion

#3  Who is Flash Gordon’s girlfriend?
ANSWER: Dale Arden

#4  Anosmia is the loss of which sense?

#5  What’s another name for Suriname?
ANSWER: Dutch Guiana

#6  What is the more common name for the Oesophagus?
ANSWER: Gullet

#7  By what name was Asa Yoelsen better known?
ANSWER: Al Jolson

#8  Which European flag is blue with a yellow cross?
ANSWER: Sweden

#9  What is the world’s smallest bird?
ANSWER: Hummingbird

#10  How many old pennies were there in a guinea?

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