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Untranslatable words of love and longing

22 Nov

The English language sure has a lot of nifty words. For example: Sandwich. Muleskinner. Iguana. Those are just three random words – they were the first that came to mind. I don’t know what that might mean, and frankly I don’t want to know.

But I recently read an article over at that pointed out some of the shortcomings in our language. The author listed 10 relationship words that have no equivalent in English – or that at least need more than one word to be explained. There’s mamihlapinatapei, a Yagan word for “the wordless yet meaningful look shared by two people who desire to initiate something, but are both reluctant to start”, through to ya’aburnee, Arabic for “You bury me” (not an order of assisted suicide, funnily enough, but a statement of wanting to die before one’s beloved does, so life doesn’t have to be experienced without them).

I was also really interested in the almost throwaway line referencing the Chinese proverb meaning “have fate without destiny”. The author pointed out the differentiation between fate and destiny, which are often seen as being interchangeable in our language. This proverb is said to describe “couples who meet, but who don’t stay together, for whatever reason”. Aww, bittersweet.

You can read the full list of words and their meanings over at Big Think.

And let’s start making up some of these words ourselves – it’s like a love-only version of Balderdash! I’ll start. Transchell: a fellow passenger on your regular public transport route that you have a crush on, but you don’t want to ask them out in case they say no and you’ll be so embarrassed you’ll have to change your public transport routine and it would be all really inconvenient, so it’s probably just better to keep quiet and dream from afar.

Catchy, no?


LIFE’s worst covers (featuring a rooster!)

18 Nov

Poultry in the news! Well, this was in the news a while ago… 74 years ago, to be exact.

That's one great lookin' rooster.LIFE magazine (which has a great website, by the way) recently published a gallery of the 20 worst covers in their 75-year history. This handsome fellow was featured with the following caption:

In LIFE’s 75 years, this is the only cover not to feature the distinctive logo in the upper left corner. Not surprising: If your cover story was as newsy, sexy, and controversial as “White Leghorn Rooster,” you’d hide your logo, too.

I can only imagine what wondrous content was included in the accompanying article. What was happening in the world of the white leghorn rooster in 1937? Will we ever know?

You can check out the rest of the questionable covers; if you’re really interested, you can also browse their 75 favourite covers.

Any new books?

25 Jul

[I realise this blog has been pretty light on book reviews lately (well, pretty light on everything except my pleas for sponsorship), but I promise to get reviewing again soon. Seriously! Maybe if you sponsor me I’ll get back to it even sooner?]

If you’re like me, a trip to the bookstore (remember those quaint little retail spaces?) or even an online bookshop can be confusing – and, quite frankly, daunting. I wander around, committing the ultimate sin of judging books by their covers (and blurbs), hoping I stumble across something decent. Sure, there are authors I know are pretty much safe bets, and on rare occasions I do actually have a book in mind when I head in, but for the most part it’s a bit hit and miss.

Which is why I want to introduce you to Any New Books?. Any New Books?, meet my cool reader. Don’t worry, he/she is totally awesome, just like you!

So the idea is that you sign up at with your email address, tell the site what genres you’re most interested in, then sit back and wait for the weekly email newsletters that feature a selection of new books from that genre. The email links straight to the books’ pages on Amazon (but the company doesn’t seem to be involved with Amazon in any financial sense – yet).

And this site is why my Amazon wish list is starting to get a liiiittle out of control.

I love that the service is free and that it exposes me to so many books I would never hear of without it. I also really like that there’s a strict editorial policy that means the books are chosen on their own merit, not because of any deals with publishing companies.

Yay for nerdy booklovers! Sign up here!

Stuff (that) Mel gives me

18 Jul

How does one feel when one’s friend starts a blog populated solely by items one has emailed to that friend in the past? Flattered, sure. And a bit weird, to be honest. And thirsty, definitely thirsty. Where's the blog of the stuff I've emailed YOU, huh?

My friend Shaun (of the now possibly defunct Popcorn and Wine blog, and the definitely defunct blog I could have sworn was called Random Ramblings, but I can’t find any remnants of it anywhere so maybe not) has started a blog called ‘Stuff that Mel gives me’*. Over the years I’ve apparently emailed him hundreds of links to videos, images, articles and whatever else can be found on the internet. I thought he would have been giving them a perfunctory glance before sending them to the trash, but it seems he’s been saving these emails and links, and is now showcasing some of them on the blog.

I love the idea. Like everyone else, I send links to my friends with the hope that they laugh or cry or are enlightened by the content. But it’s also a bit nerve wracking – after all, every time I send a random link to someone I have a mini moment of “What if they hate it and they lose whatever respect they had for me?” Now, with this blog, EVERYONE IN THE WORLD CAN LOSE THEIR RESPECT FOR ME. Exciting times, people, exciting times.

Of course, it also totally appeals to the narcissist in me – I naturally have impeccable taste and want everyone to see the wonders I’ve curated from the world wide web (albeit filtered through what I thought Shaun would like, then what he chooses to post on the blog).

You should totally bookmark the site, sign up to email updates or add it to your RSS feed right now… after all, with Shaun’s record, it seems this blog may not last long.

*The blog itself is titled ‘Stuff that Mel gives me’, but the address reads ‘Stuff Mel gives me’. The inconsistency is troubling in itself, but it’s also not factually correct – it would be much better if it was ‘Stuff Mel has sent me links to’ or ‘Stuff Mel has directed me to on the internet’. Catchy, no? Anyway, Shaun is aware of this, and I’m sure his next blog will be named in a more correct manner. We can all relax.

Daily Lit

20 Apr

Emails can be very boring. Of course, I’m not talking about the wonderful emails my friends send, the odd forwards my step-dad sends, or the 10 million newsletters I seemed to have signed up to in the past… well, let me rephrase: work emails can be very boring.

Which is why I love Daily Lit, a site that allows you to read books in very small chunks via email. You look like you’re working and checking your email, but you’re really catching up on your chick lit! Or your philosophy texts! Or your Greek drama! Or whatever it is you want to read!*

Sign up to Daily Lit immediately, son.It works like this: you give them your email address, then choose what you want to read from their catalogue, how often you want to receive the book instalments, and how long you want the instalments to be. Then you just sit back and wait for all the wonderful words to make their way into your inbox. (You can also subscribe through RSS, if you’re that way inclined.) Best of all, if you’ve finished that day’s instalment and can’t wait for the next one, you can get it sent to you straight away.

Although most of the books are in the public domain or are available through the Creative Commons license, they’re adding newer books and short stories all the time. I’ve already finished one story – review to come shortly – and am about to start on Alice Munro’s Fiction.

So, internet nerds who also love reading, have at it!

*I’ve also signed up with my personal email, which is easier to check on my phone. It’s great when you’re stuck somewhere with nothing to read and it’s not your turn on Words with Friends. By the way, IS IT your turn? It must be, I’m always waiting…