Friday, October 26, 2007

Parvum Opus 249 ~ Librivox


Number 249

October 26, 2007



PO is a day late because Fred was up all night on the computer. We’re just a one-computer family. Maybe it’s time to get another one.


More good book stuff on the web: Librivox is amassing recorded out-of-copyright books for download, podcast, and online listening. You can volunteer to contribute to the recordings. I’ve gotten in the habit of listening to a couple of radio broadcasts on the web, so this is a good addition to the listening bank.

Unlike the books online at the Gutenberg site and others, you can’t do a search in the texts, if, for instance, you’re trying to locate a specific passage. Since the search function has taken the place of traditional indexes (or indices, if you prefer), browsing takes on a whole new meaning. You can search for something if it occurs to you or surf from link to link quickly, but you can run your eye down an index the way you’d run your eye across a bookshelf. A good index is a thing of beauty. I’ve enjoyed doing some indexing in the course of my publishing career (yes, that’s the kind of thing I enjoy). The most thoroughly indexed book I’ve ever seen is The Herb Book by John Lust. In print for more than 30 years, this book is a great herbal reference with indexes (not counting the table of contents) that include:

plants applicable to various conditions and body organs

alphabetical list of herbs: proper (primary) English and common or vernacular names

alphabetical list of herbs: Latin botanical names

comprehensive botanical index of plants

general index

index of plants by botanical name


glossary of botanical terms

glossary of medicinal effects and herbs that produce them


a bibliography


lots of lists. My old paperback copy is 660 pages, about half of which are indexes and other introductory and supplementary material.


Dave DaBee got a technical explanation of some Photoshop operation with a friend, who ended up with, “...and Bob’s your uncle!” Dave hadn’t heard the expression, so his friend explained,

It's sort of akin to "it's a piece of cake." I think it's from Great Britain and probably has its roots in Cockney rhyming slang. There's even a tiny chain of sports bars here in the area called "Bob's Your Uncle." People usually say it at the end of a list of instructions to mean "...and you're done" or "...and you won't have anything to think/worry about."

Dave found more explanations at World Wide Words, as well as the Wikipedia article which adds that “Bob’s your aunty” means the instructions don’t work.


From Found:

I won’t insert the actual image, but it’s a notice from Indiana University headed, “Are you a heavy crack or cocaine user?”, soliciting participants in a psychology study. The headline was set in the Comic Sans, thus the Found title: “Least Appropriate Use of Comic Sans”. You have to follow the link and take a look at the sign. Examine the font (the rest of the flyer looks like some version of Times). Why is this simple sans serif font inappropriate? You can’t feel it even if you can’t analyze it. The font is a familiar one similar to lettering used by cartoonists in dialogue balloons. The lines are not perfectly curved or perfectly straight, giving the letters an informal, playful feel. You wouldn’t use it on a formal wedding announcement, for instance, or a funeral program (if you did, I don’t want to know about it), or in the newspaper headlines.


Regarding “lynch” Mike Sykes wrote, “OED seems fairly confident in saying...” and then attributes “lynch” to Captain William Lynch, with other details. When is the OED not confident in saying anything?

Mike also elaborated on “prejudice”:

"Prejudice" has too many meanings, the most common being "Preconceived opinion not based on reason or actual experience; bias, partiality; (now) spec. unreasoned dislike, hostility, or antagonism towards, or discrimination against, a race, sex, or other class of people." (The first meaning in the OED). I submit that the title was attention-grabbing. No doubt the author intended some other meaning, such as "The action of judging an event beforehand", but the OED has this as obsolete. From what you say, the author seems to be arguing that some degree of authority is necessary in guiding the actions of others, which is fair enough but that's not prejudice as commonly understood.

Dalrymple’s book is a complex discussion of the subject, though no doubt he did mean to attract attention with the title of his book. He invites us to analyze the source of our opinions, whether the authority is a person, institution, or reason based on first premises. I can’t agree with the OED that the meaning “to judge beforehand” is completely obsolete ~ I say with confidence. Even though most people use “prejudice” as defined in the OED, the old meaning cannot be considered obsolete as long as we need a more complete definition of the word in order to be able to understand it as used in books written a century ago or more, which are not obsolete. Neither can we give up the concept of discriminate, meaning to make fine distinctions.

Dilating on “pupil” Mike wrote:

When I was at university, undergraduates were "in stat pup" ~ "in statu pupillari" ~ hence subject to regulations as to where they were allowed to live (college or licensed lodgings) and where they were allowed to be and when (e.g. with the university precincts during full term, unless they had an exeat).

Is an exeat like a pass? Today, of course, at least in the U.S., university students usually have no more such restrictions, what with co-ed dorms and even bathrooms, no curfews at any age, and so on.


Caleb Stone wrote, regarding my saying “Other ethnic groups have slang?”, that Jews don't have slang. And then he explained he was kidding. I was kidding too. But I will not resort to ;-) . He went on:

This whole debate about what's black and what's not or who's offended and why, strikes me as being a little linguistically naïve. Clinton and all of us humans sound silly doing all kinds of things all the time. Sometimes intentionally, mostly not, but that doesn't take away from the fact that there are linguistic differences that crop up among many different lines and each and every one of us incorporates new styles, words, etc., to at least some degree most of the time.

My hunch (being somewhat trained in psychology) is that social anxiety and awkwardness along with struggles to define identity in a world trying to grab all of our identities are playing larger roles in this than any malicious intent or even simple ignorance. It seems to me that many people are actually so hyper aware of racial/linguistic differences that more problems are created and less discussion occurs. We are still very uncomfortable about race in America and I think spending as much time in diverse situations as possible would only lead to more understanding on a macro level.

Good advice, though I feel sure it’s addressed to white people, not black people. Not all people, in other words.


Lt. Michael Murphy was posthumously awarded the US Medal of Honor this week. He died in 2005 attempting to get a better communications signal to save his four-man reconnaissance and surveillance team in Afghanistan. He was too low to get a radio signal necessary to call for back-up so he climbed to a more dangerous spot in the open ~ though wounded ~ to make the call, where he was shot again.


Link here to look for books on!

Or click on underlined book links.

NEW SHOP: Scot Tartans. NEW STUFF AT Parvum Opus CafePress shop:

"Flash in the Pants";

"If you're so smart why aren't you me?";

"If you build it they won't come";

Rage Boy/Bat Boy: Can you spot the difference?;

Akron U. Alma Mater: The Lost Verse;

PWE (Protestant Work Ethic) tote bag;

"I am here" T-shirt;

"Someone went to Heaven and all I got was this lousy T-shirt";

"I eat dead things" doggy shirt and BBQ apron;

new kids’ things, mouse pad, teddy bear, stein, and more!


Parvum Opus now appears It is also carried by the Hur Herald, a web newspaper from Calhoun County, West Virginia. See Editor Bob Weaver's interview with me (February 10, 2007 entry), and the PO every week in Columns.

WHEN SONNY GETS BLUE! Check out the video clips of Sonny Robertson and the Howard Street Blues Band at and, with his new original song, "A Different Shade of Blue".

SEARCH IT OUT ON AMAZON : "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter." Proverbs 25:2; "Get wisdom! Even if it costs you everything, get understanding!" Proverbs 4:7:

The poet Muriel Rukeyser said the universe is not composed of atoms, but stories. The physicist Werner Heisenberg said the universe is not made of matter, but music.


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Parvum Opus is a publication of KeithOps / Opus Publishing Services. Back issues may be found at Feel free to e-mail me with comments or queries. The PO mailing list is private, never given or sold to anyone else. If you don't want to receive Parvum Opus, please reply with "unsubscribe," "quit," "enough," or something like that in the subject line, and I'll take you off the mailing list. Copyright Rhonda Keith 2007. Parvum Opus or part of it may be reproduced only with permission, but you may forward the entire newsletter as long as the copyright remains.

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