We read stuff
Des mots, toujours des mots
Like English, French has its word-hounds, its mavens, its amateurs vraiment amants. At Le Monde, which is roughly the New York Times of France, two copy-editors divert themselves with Langue sauce piquante. Martine Rousseau & Olivier Houdart comment on matters typo-, ortho-, lexico-, and sometimes autobiographical. One sees in the comments that questions of language boil the blood no less reliably in French as in English.
Confining themselves to the lexicographical, Le Mot du jour () and Le Garde-mots () will augment your vocabulary in daily or semiweekly doses. If there were a French SAT, Le Mot du jour would help you pass it with items like vocifération nitescence (also in Le Garde-mots), and pugnace.
Alain Horvilleur, the author, has published an almanac of words from Le Garde-mots (Jacques André, 2009, 978-2-7570-0088-5).The specimens at Le Garde-mots are more exotic: panspermie, calotype, gaudepisse (with five synonyms). Learn words like this and they won’t laugh at you next time you hang out at the Luxembourg. Not to your face, anyway.
As long as I’m dealing in words, I may as well mention Wordie, a “social lexicon” where you can create word lists, comment on words, and find images associated with them (this function is iffy).
You’re a reader. At this very moment. (But maybe not now.) Habitual readers tend to like to read about reading and readers. If so, you’ll like Lali. Lali deals mostly in representations of readers reading—paintings, for the most part, but also photographs and sculptures. The text is in French, the images are of no language. Series include: “Anecdotes du libraire” and “À livres ouverts”.
Bill Kristol, son of Irving, plays the contrarian in reacting to Sarah Palin’s resignation. In a burst of controlled enthusiasm, he writes:
All in all, it’s going to be a high-wire act. The odds are against her pulling it off. But I wouldn’t bet against it.
I think we can see why Mr. Kristol has been wrong about so many things. Here he wears his irrationality on his sleeve.
Now I’m not sure that rational choice theory captures the essence of rationality. But I am quite sure that if I estimate the odds of rolling snake eyes at 35 to 1 and then bet even money I’m going to be short of cash before too long.
But just to show that rationality, of whatever cast, does a poor job at predicting behavior, Mr. Kristol has in fact done quite well in the last eight years. Being wrong has paid off. In an irrational culture, it pays to be irrational. Not about everything, of course; what works is well-timed, well-placed stupidity. To be stupid in Kristol’s way takes a lot of smarts.
I forgot—or maybe I never remembered—that Mr. Kristol was Dan Quayle’s chief of staff. Talk about falling upward! Fortunately Steve Schmidt hasn’t forgotten, and he was kind enough to remind Mr. Kristol recently. Unfortunately some say that Schmidt has a “congenital aversion to the truth”—he was lying before he could talk, the little rascal.
Pattern of the week
Click the View button to see the pattern used as a background. Download it.
Musa in the artworld
Musa has fans everywhere. This group of young designers named themselves after her. Their website is being renovated, but you can see their work on Flickr.
Sunday cat pix
This reader’s final dilemma was whether to pay attention to the cat now or immediately.
Musa, 28 Jun 2009
Philosophy in pop songs
“Sous le pont de Bercy, un philosophe assis”. From Jacqueline François, “Sous le ciel de Paris” (1953; Anthologie de la chanson française 1953). I haven’t managed to track down the lyricist or composer of this song. [Update: from the French Wikipedia, I now have: lyrics, Jean Dréjac; music, Hubert Giraud; from a film of the same name (1951) directed by Julien Duvivier.] Yves Montand, Édith Piaf, and Juliette Gréco also recorded it.
Philosophy in pop songs
A twofer! Philosophy in pop songs and cogitatiana: “Je danse, je danse donc je suis/C’est ma seule, ma seule philosophie”. From Priscilla, “Je danse donc je suis” (Bric à brac, 2005).
Sunday cat pix
Podes & antipodes. Move cursor over pic to flip.
Musa, 11 Jul 2009 (credit: M)
Tuesday’s Sunday cat pix
LG in motion.