Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Selling fake iPhone with hilarious English

No one thought it would take them very long, but this is quick, even by their standards. Brian X. Chen writes in the Wired magazine that ActFind (www.actfind.com) which describes itself as 'The Best China Marketplace For The Global Retailer' has three models of China Mobile phones (HiPhones) with prices ranging from USD114.50 to USD 178.50. There are also two models of unlocked iPhones on the list but out of stock. Interestingly, they are using photographs of the real iPhones to sell the fakes!

The English is hilarious. Here is the description of the first one: 'China HiPhone, Especial function: ditheringge elect song, ditheringge elect motif picture. Unlimited mobile phone, cell phone, Long distance phone, Mobile cheap, Phone cheap, GSM Mobile Phone Unlocked Quad-band i68, Quad-band PDA Cell phone, Bluetooth, A2DP, JAVA,Outlook, Email, MSN control, If you buy now, we will give you 1GB Card for Free. Buy China HiPhone Now. Go ahead.' (I have not edited it.) They sure want to make sure that you understand that they are selling phones!

Here is another one:

'For PDA Cell Phone -- Shaking Control Phone Unlocked Tri-band P168S

PDA Mobile Phone CECT P168s. Select next previous song by shaking the phone 3.5 inch Touch Screen QVGA high clear LCD display screen and 1.3 Mega Pixel Digital Camera. Also, it has MP3 MP4 Player function. Besides, it supports dual SIM cards for calling as well as Unlocked SIM card. If you buy now, we will send you 256M Card Free of charge. Now go ahead!


50 greatest villains in literature

Paradise lostThis is another 'best of' list this time drawn up by critics for The Telegraph. As expected not everyone's favourite villain is there, so many will be disappointed and disagree. But for whatever it is worth, here are some highlights.

1.Satan from Milton's Paradise Lost tops the bill. That is almost predictable, almost a politically correct choice. In Jose Saramago's The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, God is the megalomanic villain who is willing to destroy millions to become God of the world instead of just a few tribes of Jews, and uses Jesus as a pawn. Good fun, but for the broadminded only. (But then, this list appears to be for books originally written in English only.)

2. There is Bram Stoker's Daracula. Now that is one delicious villain. I read the book when I was a teenager, and I still think he is good. Others on the list from my childhood and teenage years that I agree with are Professor Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes' nemesis), Robert Louis Stevenson's Long John Silver (from Treasure Island), and Mr Hyde (Strange Case of Dr Jeykll and Mr Hyde). Moby Dick was a whale for goodness sake, not a villain, and Ahab was a loony. Ian Fleming's Ernst Stavro Blofeld was good, but I thought Auric Goldfinger was creepier (although some might think the former has the cooler name).

3. Shakespeare has three villains on the list: Edmund from King Lear, Claudius from Hamlet, and Iago from Othello. Actually, Lady Macbeth gave me the creeps more than the others and I think she should have been included. (But then, when I was a kid I thought she was one of the witches!)

Read the full list. I am sure you will find more points to talk and bitch about.

The Telegraph

Saving words from extinction

Times Online gave its readers a chance to save their favourite word by voting for it at the Comment Central weblog. (The voting is now closed and the results will be announced shortly, but it is still fun to read about it.)

Apparently, '... dictionary compilers at Collins have decided that the word list for the forthcoming edition of its largest volume is embrangled with words so obscure that they are linguistic recrement. Such words, they say, must be exuviated abstergently to make room for modern additions that will act as a roborant for the book.' (You can read more of that on their website -- below)

These are words they are trying to save:

Abstergent -- Cleansing or scouring

Agrestic -- Rural; rustic; unpolished; uncouth

Apodeictic -- Unquestionably true by virtue of demonstration

Caducity -- Perishableness; senility

Caliginosity -- Dimness; darkness

Compossible -- Possible in coexistence with something else

Embrangle -- To confuse or entangle

Exuviate -- To shed (a skin or similar outer covering)

Fatidical -- Prophetic

Fubsy -- Short and stout; squat

Griseous -- Streaked or mixed with grey; somewhat grey

Malison -- A curse

Mansuetude -- Gentleness or mildness

Muliebrity -- The condition of being a woman

Niddering -- Cowardly

Nitid -- Bright; glistening

Olid -- Foul-smelling

Oppugnant -- Combative, antagonistic or contrary

Periapt -- A charm or amulet

Recrement -- Waste matter; refuse; dross

Roborant -- Tending to fortify or increase strength

Skirr -- A whirring or grating sound, as of the wings of birds in flight

Vaticinate -- To foretell; prophesy

Vilipend -- To treat or regard with contempt

Times Online

Monday, September 15, 2008

The digi-novel?

Michelle Kerns writes in the Book Examiner about the 'answer' -- what else does one call it? -- for the post Harry Potter depression from Dutton (an imprint of Penguin) called the Digi-novel. Huh? Precisely my reaction when I first read it.

Reading is so retro, or it seems. Dutton has signed up Anthony Zuiker, the creator of CSI television, for exclusive worldwide rights to three multimedia books, the world's first Digi-novels because readers will need to read the book, view clips, and participate online in order to complete the story. The books are expected to be released in late 2009.

"The series will have a mystery-type flair and will focus on renegade government investigator Steve Dark. Special codes will be included at the end of each chapter in the book; the reader uses these codes to unlock film footage online that continues the storyline in the book. Readers will also be able to participate in a community portal that features alternative storylines, different characters, and, according to Dutton, "countless ancillary levels of story enrichment." In other words, they promise that it will be very cool.

So will it replace the traditional book? Maybe they can coexist. After all they can also be hardbound and warm and fuzzy and smell nice and can be used to furnish rooms (unlike the stupid Kindle).

The Examiner

Has Saramago reached the end?

SaramagoThat is how it appears, reading Elizabeth Nash of the Independent reporting from Madrid.

Portugal's Nobel Literature laureate is 86 years old, and his health is flagging. But he has just announced the completion of his latest work The Elephant's Journey, based on the real-life journey of an Indian elephant named Solomon that travelled from Lisbon to Vienna in the 16th century.

The tale begins with the real event, but reverts to imagination due to the scarcity of historical details of what actually happened. Saramago suffered from serious respiratory illness for several months, and says there were times when he thought he'd never finish the book.

The Elephant's Journey, which took Saramago ten years to write, amid bouts of ill health, is said to be filled with characters, some of them real historical figures, others anonymous fictional creations: "they are people the members of this travelling caravan encounter on their journey, and with whom they share perplexities, efforts and the harmonious joy of a roof over their heads".

Guess, this could be his last book. He is relieved and pleased to have been able to finish the work. "I wrote my last three books in the most deplorable state of health, not at all favourable for happy feelings. I prefer to say: if you have to write, you will write."

And the opening line in the book is: "However incongruous it may seem ..."

The Independent

Monday, September 01, 2008

Melbourne is City of Literature

MelbourneJason Steger writes in The Age in Australia that UNESCO has named Melbourne as its second City of Literature in response to bid a by the State Government of Victoria. (Edinburgh became the first in 2004.) Melbourne will have as its centrepiece the Centre for Books and Ideas at the State Library of Victoria.

A budget of AUD10.4 million has been allocated this year for the new centre, with AUD3 million for the fit out and AUD7.2 million for the development of a program of events and activities. The centre is expected to open in the middle of next year.

The report says: 'The centre will provide a home for a variety of literature bodies, including the
Melbourne Writers Festival, the Victorian Writers Centre, the Emerging Writers Festival and the Australian Poetry Centre.'

Congratulations, Melbourne.

The Age

Sub-contracted book signing

Writing books is a chore if you are a celebrity author. Not only do they want you to write the book, sometimes with the help of only one ghostwriter, for a measly book advance of a few million dollars, they also expect you to sit in a boring bookshop and sign the books for book buyers when you can be partying somewhere. The unfairness of it all is appalling.

But help is on the way for suffering millionaire authors. One publisher appears to have found the solution. They have posted an advertisement for a team of 14 part-time fake signatories for promotional tours by two authors whose books have also not been named.

The fake signing is supposed to be held in Los Angeles over two days at eight hours a day, with each signing taking 15 seconds or less, and that at that rate the team of 14 could sign up to 53,760 copies. There is no mention if they have to be in disguise. (But how are they going to pull that off, with 14 people disguised as two? Gorilla suits?)

According to Ed Pilkington of The Guardian, the advert says "You will need to be able to copy the look and style of both author's signatures," and that the fake signers will be paid US$25 for 200 books signed. Cheapskates.

Maybe, I should not be too hasty. It is possible that these poor millionaire celebrity authors can't write their own names many times. Poor things. You never know, right?

The Guardian

Apologising to Sir Salman

SalmanRushdieIt looks like people are now lining up to apologise to Salmam Rushdie. Padan muka.

Sir Salman Rushdie has received an unreserved apology from a former policeman, Ron Evans and his ghost writer, for writing a disparaging book about the former, On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Four thousand copies of the book have been pulped. Sir Salman has accepted the apology and expects a swift retraction but has declined to press for damages. He will however be compensated for his legal costs of GBP10,000.00 to BP15,000.00.

Helen Pidd of The Guardian writes: After the declaration of falsity was accepted, Rushdie said he was pleased with the speedy verdict and hoped his victory would spur others on to challenge falsehoods without demanding damages. He had succeeded in finding "a new method by which to establish the fact", he said. "It seems to me to be unconvincing that a huge, large amount of money will improve your reputation. It just means that your lawyers are better than the other person's lawyers. But to have the court stating that certain things are untrue seems to me to be emphatic."

Geoffrey Robertson QC, for Rushdie, said his client had "pioneered a new way of reconciling the right to freedom of speech with the right to reputation: you nail the lie for all time with a court-ordered declaration of falsity and you receive your legal costs, but you decline to chill free speech by putting authors and publishers [through] an expensive trial and making them pay heavy damages."

Evans left the police force in 2005 after being convicted of nine counts of dishonesty.

In another report, also in The Guardian, Stephen Book writes that The Mail on Sunday will apologise to Sir Salman Rushdie for publishing the allegations in a serialisation that then travelled around the world copied by several websites.

The Guardian