Due to circumstances, I have missed almost the entire Six Nations this year. However, going into the final weekend England have a chance to win the Grand Slam, only [only???] needing to beat Wales in the Millennium Stadium to do so. But if Wales can win by eight points or more, then they not only spoil the Slam, but also win the championship outright. That’s as close to literal must-watch TV as it gets for this ex-pat Welshman, [and fairly close to some sort of cardiac episode for this ex-pat, (can you be an ex-pat if you never lived there?) having found myself on edge all week because of this game and my absolute inability to decide whether we are underdogs, overdogs or roughly equal favourite dogs. I just feel so tense.] Due to further circumstances, this is going online over a week after the match actually took place. While You Were Gone: Stretching the definition of the word “liveblog” since 2009.
As usual, these upright, free-range bits are me, [and these slanty, cordoned-off-by–brackets bits are friend-of-WYWG Tom.]
John Inverdale: “We are all just parasites.” Speak for yourself, John.
A BBC graphic informs me that Wales have made 93% of their tackles in the tournament so far. Alun Wyn Jones’s animated head is squished vertically in the squad list. Or possibly he is just very, very thin. I’ve been hearing people talk about Dan Biggar for at least a couple of years on the internet forums generally in the context of “He should be playing instead of Hook.” But I have never seen him play. [You really should watch some more rugby, especially given the whole rugby blogging thing.] Jiffy tells me he’s settled in well this tournament. [Which I think is a fair assessment. It’s also fair to say that he hasn’t overwhelmed the tournament with his spellbinding play. He has been solid. Overall, I would say he has just about whelmed. But this is Wales and the magic 10 shirt, so query whether whelming will be enough, long term.]
Whilst I’m usually the first to criticise the big copyright holders for their short-sighted and counterproductive attitudes towards the internet1, statements like this drive me crazy. Yes there is a legal way for Americans to watch Games of Thrones. The legal way is to pay for cable and for HBO. “I don’t want to pay $65 a month” is NOT THE SAME AS “it is illegal.”
For example, I would spend more money renting/buying movies on my Apple TV if the selection available weren’t so derisory. ↩
Also definitely worth a read: The Black Table, on the same subject, viz., pruno.
(both via the ragbag’s post on, you guessed it: pruno)
So, for $149 I can buy from Adobe a boxed copy or digital download of Lightroom 4 for Windows and Mac, with discounts available for upgrades from earlier versions, and discounted upgrade pricing for version 5, whenever that comes out.
OR, on the Mac App Store I1 can buy a digital download for Lightroom 4 for Mac-only, with no discounts for upgrading from previous versions, and most-likely no discounted upgrade pricing2 to version 5. The price?
That is a compelling deal, Adobe.
Today is World Tapir Day!
(Many thanks to redditor Secretsanta1979 for the use of his/her great photo.)
Rating: four out of five bananas: 🍌🍌🍌🍌
This game is SUPER excellent: easy to learn, hard to master, contains surprising DEPTH of tactical gameplay, given the extravagantly simple concept. Story mode is a wonderful addition, and adds a good 3-5 seconds of extra narrative content to each run-through. It’s funny! Polished! Well designed! And it’s FREE! How can Asmadi Games cut a profit at this price?! It is truly a mystery for the ages.
HOWEVER, I am DOCKING a banana. Only FOUR bananas for you, Win, Lose, or Banana! Why? For the following omissions:
- No Game Center? Are you kidding me, Asmadi? How can I know if I’m having fun if I can’t COMPETE against my friends?
- Should include variant ruleset: Who’s the Banana? I can’t believe you are RIPPING me off by holding this back, Asmadi.
Remedy these INSANE missteps, and I’ll award that elusive fifth banana. Sláinte!
BuyObtain Win, Lose, or Banana! from the App Store.
(Special WYWG website exclusive bonus info! Non-iAteers can play Win, Lose, or Banana! online. Have at it!)
There is a lot of spam on Twitter. And there are a lot of people complaining about the spam on Twitter. Many of those people point out that it would be easy for Twitter to detect this spam, because, in the vast majority of cases, spam accounts on Twitter have very few followers and vomit out hundreds of near-identical tweets at a time. Often they haven’t even changed their avatar from the default egg.
But I wonder if Twitter’s inaction is maybe deliberate. Because if they actually implemented some kind of auto-spam detection, then the spammers would inevitably up their game and create more intelligent, less obvious spam accounts.
And that, in turn, would make it harder for me to see at a glance whether a slightly mysterious 140 character @-reply is from a spam account or not. I can even envisage a situation where I cannot actually tell whether a reply is spam or not without clicking on a link in the tweet. And that is a situation I don’t want to have to deal with.
So kudos to you Twitter. Your utter failure to tackle spam is making my life easier.
So! It is the final day of the Six Nations tournament. Today, Wales take on France, at home in the Millennium Stadium. If Wales win, they will have won the Grand Slam for the third time in eight seasons! If they lose, I am going to be grumpy for the entire rest of the weekend/month/year. As usual, WYWG will be liveblogging all the action, ably assisted by First Mate Tom, whose salty contributions will be [notated in a manner similar to this.]
[Taking WYWG’s lead, the BBC offers an] All-Welsh commentary team today: Eddie Butler and Jonathan Davies. Well, all-Welsh apart from Eddie Butler, I guess. [Boom! This commentary combo will also give us some excellent compare and contrast moments between the ostentatious over-pronunciation of Eddie “I did French at Cambridge” Butler and the tortured and baffling mispronunciations of Jiffy.]
The English members of the BBC team keep calling the conditions in the Millennium Stadium, “greasy”. Racist.
Inverdale: “The noise mounting and mounting to a crescendo.” So it’s getting louder and louder and then… it gets louder? Actually maybe that’s a fair description.
As of right now, Gruber has published fourteen posts about how Mike Daisey is an inveterate liar—I’d be surprised if there’s not more in the pipeline.
Try comparing that to the number of posts on Daring Fireball about the real issues with workers’ conditions at Foxconn, and perhaps to the number of posts about that other famous liar, Jayson Blair.
Okay, maybe it’s not hopeless exactly, but still…
(N.B. Don’t get it twisted—Daring Fireball is still one of my favourite technology blogs.)
It is impossible to articulate how angry this made me without using a lot of swear words.
The show starts with a video package with typically overwrought voice-over from Eddie Butler. Still gets me excited though.
The studio team all think that Wales are the favourites and that England have nothing to lose. I start to get nervous.
Footage of both teams getting off the bus shows us that all sports players love Beats by Dre headphones; they’re not just for NBA players.
John Inverdale on England’s inexperienced young players at 8, 9, and 10: “So, do they have a weakness at the heart of their spine?” And is there strength in the spleen of their liver? [Adopting the Scottish name-based psychological warfare tactics, viz. Evans & Jones on the wings, England’s newbie No. 8 is not only called Morgan, but also plays in Wales, for a team that wears red. Subterfuge! In a further display of outrageous impudence, England have also selected players sporting such traditional Welsh handles as “Botha” and “Tuilagi”. Devious saes!] Lee Dickson, incredulous at the idea that he doesn’t have much experience with the other two new starters, “When you say we hardly know each other, we probably know each other a lot more than people think, we’ve been together now for four weeks.” (Emphasis mine.)
It’s the second installment of today’s special liveblog double header! This episode is surely the least live liveblog that has ever been published. That’s right, today we’ll be watching Wales take on France in the semi-final of the Rugby World Cup!
Suffice to say, whilst I did actually write these notes live, the EMOTIONS stirred by the match were too OVERWHELMING for me subsequently to run the text through the spell checker and forward it on to Tom. Just in case you are somehow enough of a rugby fan to want to read these write-ups, but simultaneously not enough of a fan to have seen the outcome of the World Cup within the four months since the final was played, I won’t SPOIL it for you, dear reader, by revealing whether said emotions were good, or GUT-WRENCHINGLY SICKENING. You will have to read on to find out what happened!
Luckily for you, as well as being [jauntily marked-up with italics and square brackets], contributor Tom is also possessing of an almost SAVANT-like memory, and managed to make his additions well after-the-fact. I literally have no idea how he is capable of remembering the plays that I commented on.
So without further ado, let me introduce you to our commentary team, Nick Mullins and Michael “Not that one” Owen, and our ref, Alain Rolland.
It’s almost the weekend! Which means it’s almost time for the next round of Six Nations fixtures! Which means it’s also time for the latest WYWG liveblog! While You Were Gone: stretching the definition of “live” to a ridiculous degree!
Today we have a special treat for you. It’s a double header! That’s right, WYWG has carefully prepared reports on not one but TWO exciting Wales matches for you. Up first, Wales vs Scotland. As always, WYWG’s comments are typographically standard, whereas the interjections of contributor Tom are [bracketed and italicised.]
The BBC have dubbed George North! “Gorgeous George”. You can probably guess whether or not WYWG approves of this nickname. [Also inaccurate, I’d say, he’s no oil painting.]
Commentating today are Jonathan Davies and Andrew Cotter.
Romain Poite is reffing. I’ve not seen him before.
Laidlaw, making his first start for Scotland at fly half, brings “perpetual motion”, according to Cotter. [Scotland’s wingers today are called Jones and Evans. How confusing.]
Wales start by winning back a high kick, and then Halfpenny breaks the Scottish line. Wales knock on, though, and Scotland play out the advantage.
Wales give away a penalty for handling the ball in the ruck with 2:30 on the clock. It’s been a hectic pace so far. [The archetypical Six Nations blood and thunder. It’s not pretty, but it is compelling.]
It’s the return of the Six Nations! And you know what that means! Liveblogs! As always, WYWG will be commentating mainly on the BBC’s coverage of the Welsh campaign, with occasional interjections on hairstyles and the actual rugby from friend-of-WYWG, Tom, whose comments will be [indicated via the dual mechanisms of italics and square brackets, thus.] Let’s go!
The show starts with a shot of John Inverdale cycling a woman’s bike1 across a bridge. I’m not gonna lie—it’s pretty hilarious. Sam Warburton pops back to Rhiwbina for a quick interview at his boyhood rugby club. He seems like a very nice young man. Terrible taste in music, though. Wikipedia describes Rhiwbina as “a prosperous suburb of Cardiff.” [Hence the double-barrelled surname eh?]
Whilst running down the Irish team, Keith Wood mentions a “smell of revenge in the air.” What does revenge smell like? [Like Keith Wood’s scalp?]
Sonja McLaughlan, talking to Warren Gatland: “If you could bottle what Wales had at the Rugby World Cup I guess you’d be a very wealthy man.” Aaah I’ve missed the BBC’s coverage. Great stuff.
So I was a little sad the other day when I caught the train into Olde London Towne and discovered that the old shed that wore my favourite bit of graffiti1 had been demolished.
This loss inspired me to do a quick google to see if anyone had been as affected by this mysterious piece of graffiti as I had, not really expecting to find any results.
But not only did the results turn out to be numerous2, they also contained a wonderful bit of investigative journalism by In the Aquarium, wherein the Dave in question had been interviewed as to the origin of the slogan.
I love the internet.
The more I think about it, the more convinced I become that the long-running Marmite advertising campaign Love it or hate it is the best marketing concept EVER.
It’s been so successful that these days, whenever something polarising is discussed, people will describe it as being “like marmite”.
And the reason this is so bloody brilliant is that, actually, if I think about it, although a lot of people do hate Marmite, almost everyone that doesn’t hate it is indifferent about it. They have a jar knocking about somewhere, for sure1, and maybe every now and again they’ll fancy putting some on a slice of toast.
I guess that doesn’t yield such a catchy slogan, though:
Marmite: Hate it, or kinda like it every now and again I guess?
Actually I think we can tighten that up a little:
Marmite: I can take it or leave it.
Marmite lasts literally forever. My parents recently polished off a jar they bought just after they got married. ↩
Brent Simmons recently published a critique of the words used in the tab labels of Twitter’s new iPhone app. It’s a fine piece, but one part of it doesn’t ring true.
In a section titled “What we know about people and words”, Simmons writes, “English speakers respond best to non-Latinate words.” He then goes on to criticise Twitter’s use of the words connect and discover for being Latin in origin, as well as for sounding like they were selected by “a murder of marketing executives perched around a big table.”
But he is wrong that connect and discover are bad words per se1. And it’s certainly not true that the words “mean almost nothing.” When describing the action of attaching a cable to a socket, connect would be a perfectly good word. And when discussing Bjarni Herjólfsson, I’m pretty sure you’re going to want to use the word “discover”. The problem is the context. In the Twitter app, the words aren’t good choices because they don’t describe what they’re labelling. Simmons does understand this, and—previously mentioned quotes notwithstanding—he does a great job of explaining it in his article. But then he throws in the stuff about Latin words somehow inherently turning off readers, and my head starts to hurt.
So where does Simmon’s stated dislike for Latin words come from? I asked him directly, but he didn’t respond, and I couldn’t find a source for the rule. My best guess is that he is misremembering George Orwell’s famous essay, Politics and the English Language. But Orwell doesn’t actually claim that all Latin words are bad. Instead, he protests against people who deliberately use long Latin words in an attempt to sound more impressive:
“Bad writers, and especially scientific, political, and sociological writers, are nearly always haunted by the notion that Latin or Greek words are grander than Saxon ones, and unnecessary words like expedite, ameliorate, predict, extraneous, deracinated, clandestine, subaqueous, and hundreds of others constantly gain ground from their Anglo-Saxon numbers.”
Indeed, later on in the essay Orwell writes: “Nor does it even imply in every case preferring the Saxon word to the Latin one”. No, Orwell merely wanted people to use clear, straightforward language.2 I don’t think, for example, Orwell would have had any problem with the use of the word car3.
In fact, I don’t believe Simmons would have any problem with that, either. I was tempted to go through his entire article marking all the words that had a Latin origin, but it would have taken aaages and would have been belabouring the point. Instead, let’s just look at his suggestions for better words for Twitter’s UI. He himself notes that his preference for the name of the Me tab, Profile, is Latin, but he doesn’t mention that his suggestion of Mentions instead of Connect is also Latin in origin. And although Tweets and Timeline are both fairly new words, line comes from Latin, too. So if two-and-a-bit of the four words Simmons prefers for the interface are Latin in origin, can he really believe that Latin words should generally be avoided?4
As I said, it’s a good piece5, but strike out all the parts about Latin and it would be even better.
Do you see what I have done there? ↩
Whether or not Orwell’s advice is something one should attempt to follow is a whole other kettle full of delicious, wriggling, fishies. Orwell was certainly a superb writer, but his status as an analyst of language is somewhat less clear. Take, for example, his stance on the passive voice. In the very same essay that Orwell writes: “Never use the passive where you can use the active,” over 20% of the verb forms that he uses are passive in construction. That’s considerably higher than the highest rate (13%) found in various periodicals in three statistical studies. See also this further analysis of Orwell’s essay, from the good people of Language Log. ↩
Not enough evidence for you? Okay, try this. Simmons writes: “When asking your significant other to pick up some milk on the way home, you don’t ask, ‘Will you attend the purveyors and retrieve a dairy beverage?’ You ask, ‘Will you stop at the store and pick up some milk?’”. But stop, store,
and milkall come from Latin. Correction: reagank points out in the comments below that milk didn’t actually come into English via Latin, although it is related to a Latin word. However, as it turns out that neither purveyor nor dairy come from Latin, I think the point stands. ↩