When I read Shetlandic

it is in Verdana in my mind’s eye:

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Two simple rules for avoiding a #shirtstorm

I’m going to assume for argument’s sake that it’s your choice if you’re a gentleman and want to flaunt your moobs or your coccyx. However, the zeroth rule of cleavage, before anything you might see in glossy magazines, is any cleavage you show must be part of your own body.

I’ve seen it said that you should only wear ties made of a material you’d willingly wear a shirt in. As we have seen from the European Space Agency, this guidance is too restrictive for many people and not restrictive enough for some. However we can all agree that nobody likes a novelty tie. I therefore take the converse: only wear shirts with patterns you’d willingly wear a tie in.

I hope these rules I have adumbrated are helpful.

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(گربه بزرگ از شهر ایرانی (۵

Persian ought to be pretty good for crosswords. There are no case endings to make things fiddlier, and the ezafe, the grammatical particle that holds noun phrases together, is usually not written. Further, the short vowels, at least in the middle of words, are not usually written either, allowing for more possibilities for anagrams.

The vocabulary looks open to borrowings, from Arabic for obvious reasons, but also more recently from French.

Here is an example clue: (گربه بزرگ از شهر ایرانی (۵

Transliteration: gorbe-e bozorg az shahr Irani (big cat from Iranian city)

The answer is شیراز.

Transliteration: Shiraz

Working: شیر (shir) means “lion”, as in Shere Khan in Jungle Book (or indeed “milk”), and az means “from”, so if you stick them together you get an Iranian city.

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This is しぬ and the working is as follows: 柴犬 in syllables is しばいぬ. Remove the “heart” (心) from this and you are left with the outer two syllables, which can also be written 死ぬ “to die”, which is another sense of なくなる, the straight part.

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The opera-a-week challenge

New game for 2014: see an opera a week.

Some rules spring to mind:

  1. Cinema showings and DVDs count, but CDs don’t.
  2. Concert and semi-staged performances count.
  3. Plays in Ancient Greek count.
  4. Musicals don’t count.
  5. Carmen is an opera for the purposes of this exercise.
  6. Performing in an opera counts.
  7. You need to see 52 operas over the course of the year, with no more than a month between any viewings.
  8. Different stagings of the same opera count. For example this year I saw Peter Grimes at the Arts Picturehouse and in a concert performance, which would both count, but going to two showings at the cinema or two concert performances would only count once.
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Doo. Dee doo. Dee da doo… dee doo. (Doodly doodly doodly doodly doodly.)

The late Christopher Longuet-Higgins invented a musical shoe, which could tap along to arbitrary pieces of music that were played to it.

I wonder how easy it would be to write a tool that took music and rendered it into a sayable form like in the title of this post. It might tell us something about musical perception. I can’t see any practical uses. Unless you’re a novelist.

According to one question-answering site, though, there is great need of something that runs in the opposite direction, a sort of text-only Shazam: Whats that Beethoven song? [sic]

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On memorability

A few years ago, round about when the LHC was due to start up, at a beer festival, we were trying to remember the members of the Cabinet. This was jolly hard and remembering who was in John Major’s last cabinet from over a decade earlier turned out to be substantially easier.

Back in the present day, Tom Watson has resigned. “He can’t resign”, I said. “I don’t care what he’s done. He’s the only member of the shadow cabinet other than Ed Balls I can actually remember.”

Off the top of my head I think I can remember more members of Attlee Cabinets than I can of the present shadow cabinet, and probably so can you. Is this necessarily a problem for Labour? Michael Gove, for example, is Memorable for all the wrong reasons. But if your task is to present yourself as an alternative government, it might be helpful for people to be able to imagine it.

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Parliamentary arithmetic

I think I understand the Tory party’s thinking now. They’re using a special non-contradictory arithmetic where if you start with zero, and add x, you can get out any number you like.

Worked example: Take the number of UKIP MPs (0). Add the number of Tory MPs who aren’t speakers or deputies (305). Result: a working majority (greater than 322).

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Artisanal search engine optimization

Also, now that I need it again, the way of turning a table in a MySQL database into UTF-8 is described in this post here.

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I am going I am going

Basques: are they two-for-one at Noa Noa?

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