Category Archives: Uncategorized

Where The NYC Literati Went To Party

Authors Michael Chabon, Gay Talese, Zadie Smith and Scott Turow recently partied at the annual New Yorker Festival at the Top of the Standard.

They rubbed shoulders with rockers Sting and Imagine Dragons. For their next masterpiece, they could have gotten inspiration by the visiting the private booth occupied by “Orange Is the New Black” creator Jenji Kohan and her writer husband Christopher Noxon.

Or may be talking to comedians Mindy Kaling and Nick Kroll, actress Molly Ringwald, It girl Tavi Gevinson or David Remnick would keep their creative juices flowing.

In good social media style, DJ Louie tweeted: “I’m DJing the New Yorker Party at the Standard and am doing everything in my power not to ask Malcolm Gladwell to take a selfie with me.”

The party went on until 3:30 a.m. The most interesting statement was made by Mindy Kaling who happily admitted that she likes on-screen love scenes. She said “I love it. I think it’s anthropologically interesting to watch on-screen love scenes how people kiss.” She sent on pointing out that she often “uses tongue.” This might be infringing on the Screen Actors Guild rules.

Sting took the opportunity to inform the masses that he enjoyed working on his musical “The Last Ship.” He also announced: “I want to get back to my other life, and get paid extravagant amounts of money for very little work.” Whatever.
The rich will stay rich, and the famous will keep on struggling for their top spot in the (social) media. (Just ask any of the Kardashians)

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Useful List of Texting Abbreviations and Acronyms

young_woman_texting_186637Unless you have been living under a rock, you have come across abbreviations and acronyms such as LOL, OMG, THX, and WTF. They are routinely used in SMS messages, blogs, chats, e-mails, Tweets, etc. Below is a list of the most common ones.

ADAD – Another Day Another Dollar
AFK – Away From Keyboard
ASAP – As Soon As Possible
ASL – Age, Sex, Location
AWC – After Awhile Crocodile
B2B – Business to Business
B2C – Business to Consumers/Customers
BCNU – Be Seeing You
BF – Boyfriend
BFF – Best Female Friend; Best Friends Forever
BMG – Be My Guest
BOY – Beginning Of Year
BOL – Burst Out Laughing
BRB – Be Right Back
Bro – Brother, friend
BTDT – Been There, Done That
BTW – By The Way
‘coz – because
Cray – Crazy
CU – See You
CYA – Cover Your @$$
DB8 – Debate
DIY – Do It Yourself
EOR – End Of Rant
F2F – Face To Face
FIFO – Flying In. Flying Out
FCOL – For Crying Out Loud
FYI – For Your Information
GF – Girlfriend
GR8 – Great
GTG – Get Together; Got To Go
H8 – Hate
HHIS – Hanging Head In Shame
IDK – I Don’t Know
IMHO – In My Humble Opinion
IMO – In My Opinion
ICYMI – In Case You Missed It
KHYF (Know how you feel)
KUTGW – Keep Up The Good Work
L8R – Later
LOL – Laughing Out Loud
LMAO – Laugh My @$$ Off
NP – No Problem
OMG – Oh My God
OOO – One On One; Out Of Office
RBTL – Read Between The Lines)
RIP – Rest In Peace
PLS – Please
TNC – Tongue In Cheek
RIMJS – Really I’M Just Saying
ROFL – Rolling On the Floor Laughing
SMH – Shaking My Head
SPOX – Spokesperson
STFU – Shut The F* Up
THX – Thanks
Txtng – Texting
TTYL -Talk To You Later
TY – Thank You
/W – With
W8 – Wait
WADI – What A Dumb Idea
W/E – Whatever
WTF – What The F*
WTH – What The Hell
WWA – Where We At
XOXO – Hugs and Kisses
YOLO – You Only Live Once

Please, don’t text and drive!

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Decoding The Voynich Mystery – Are We Getting Close?

voynich-manuscript-finding-proper-nounsIn September 2012 and April 2013, I wrote about the Voynich mystery.

The Voynich Manuscript was created during the 15th century and is still an intriguing unsolved mystery. It is written in an unknown language that not even military cryptographers were able to decipher. It also contains beautiful illustrations and descriptions of events and flora unknown to man.

It seems that finally at least a small part of the code has been cracked. Stephen Bax, Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Bedfordshire, claims to have deciphered part of the manuscript using linguistic analysis.

Professor Bax is an expert in mediaeval manuscripts and familiar with Semitic languages such as Arabic. This helped him to analyze text letter by letter. Up till now, he was able to decipher 14 letters and 10 words.

He identified one of those words as the term for Taurus, alongside a picture of seven stars which seem to be the Pleiades. He also found the word KANTAIRON alongside a picture of the plant Centaury as well as a number of other plants.

Professor Bax explained: “The manuscript has a lot of illustrations of stars and plants. I was able to identify some of these, with their names, by looking at mediaeval herbal manuscripts in Arabic and other languages, and I then made a start on a decoding, with some exciting results.”

To learn more, watch the following video.

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Does A 400-year-old Manuscript Prove That Australia Was Discovered By The Portuguese?

Manuscript KangarooThe Les Enluminures Gallery in New York recently purchased a 16th century manuscript from a rare book dealer in Portugal. The manuscript, dated between 1580 and 1620, features both text and music for a liturgical procession. The manuscript changed hand for the sum of $15,000.

When Laura Light, a researcher at the gallery, closely examined the content, she made an interesting discovery. She came across the image that looks closely resembles a kangaroo. She also found an image of two half-naked men wearing crowns of leaves.

Both images could prove that the Portuguese landed in Australia before the first recorded European landing by Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon in 1606. If true, the find would rewrite Australia’s history.

Australia’s The Age newspaper wrote that  “a kangaroo or wallaby in a manuscript this early is proof that the artist of this manuscript had either been in Australia, or even more interestingly, that travelers’ reports and drawings of the interesting animals found in this new world were already available in Portugal.”

Not everybody is convinced. Dr. Martin Woods of the National Library of Australia stated: “it could be another animal in south-east Asia, like any number of deer species, some of which stand up on their hind legs to feed of high branches“.

Other researchers argue that the manuscript may have been created a few years after Janszoon’s arrival in Australia, or could be the result of a 1526 Portuguese voyage to Papua.

Time (and a lot of research hours) will tell…

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Biographer Claims That Norman Rockwell Had “Gay” Tendencies To Boost Her Book Sales

therunaway.jpgArt critic Deborah Solomon penned a biography of Norman Rockwell, the popular painter and illustrator who passed away in 1978.

Her “American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell” was published in November 2013. In it, she claims that Rockwell had homosexual tendencies, and included sexual innuendo in some of his paintings.

Close friends and neighbors of Rockwell are livid. Jim Edgerton Jr. is one of four generations of Edgertons who modeled for Rockwell since the 1950s. He wrote an op-ed for the Berkshire Eagle criticizing Solomon’s biography.

He wrote: “My [family] completely refute the sexual allegations made by . . . [Solomon] . . . If my grandparents and [Aunt] Edith were still alive, they would say the same. As a close neighbor, they would know. The claim that he was a pedophile or had homosexual tendencies is baseless.”

Edgerton’s father, James “Buddy” Edgerton, and Nan O’Brien wrote a biography in 2009 with the title: “The Unknown Rockwell: A Portrait of Two American Families”. This biography was written with cooperation from the Rockwell family, in contrast to Solomon’s biography.

Solomon and her representatives were not available for comment.  A spokesperson of  Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Solomon’s publisher) stated that Edgerton’s piece “misrepresents what Solomon says about Rockwell’s sexuality in the book.” Really?

My personal take? Solomon wants to sell her unauthorized biography by shocking potential readers.

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Why the Real Snow White Was Murdered in Brussels

magaretaMany fairytales are based on real persons and events. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm made it their mission to preserve Germanic folktales.

One of the most popular tales is for sure Snow White. But few people now that the story is based on a cause célèbre that took place in royal circles. It involves star-crossed lovers, child labor and death by poison.

The tantalizing tale starts with the beautiful Margaret, daughter of Count Philipp IV of Waldeck-Wildungen and Margareta of Eastern Friesland. Margareta was Philipp’s sixth child. Her mother died when she was four. Her father remarried. His second wife Catherine of Hatzfeld was a strict stepmother. She died childless a few years before Margaret herself passed away.

Margaret grew up in Freidrichstein Castle near the German town of Waldeck.  Life for many was far from a fairytale exisance.

For one, the area was known for its mining activities. The Waldeck family owned gold, silver, copper, lead and iron mines. In the local copper mines, much of the work was done by small children. The brutal working conditions and malnutrition stunned their growth. They were referred to as “dwarfs”.

Furthermore, Margaret’s hometown was the hunting ground of a grisly murderer. A local man suspected some children of stealing from him, decided to take matters in his own hands by giving the little suspects poisoned apples.

By the time Margaret turned 16, her relationship with her stepmother had turned so bad, that her father decided to send her abroad. She went to live at the court of Brussels under the protection of Mary of Hungary. Needless to say, her father also sent her there to marry well.

The young beauty got the eye of two prominent suitors: the Spanish Crown Prince Philipp and the Dutch Count of Egmont. Both suitors showered her with gifts and attention. Margaret and Philipp became lovers and he contemplated marrying her. That created a major problem for Philipp’s father; Margaret was not eligible enough. Marriages at that time were alliances between families, not love matches. Margaret could not offer the future King of Spain Philipp II any interesting political ties or benefits.

Soon after, Margaret’s health started slowly to deteriorate as she mentioned in letters to her father. She also wrote her last will and testament in shaky handwriting resulting from tremors due to poisoning. When she passed away at the tender age of 21, rumor circulated that she had been poisoned by or someone who hated her or by the Spanish court to prevent Philipp from marrying her.

Her life might have been short, but her legend will live on for many more centuries to come!

(Image courtesy of the Royal Library in Bad Arolsen, Reference: Genealogica iconica seu picturata comitum in Waldeck, antehac in archivo asservata ca.1580)

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Throwing The Book At Bookworms – Texas Style

eckPoor Jory Enck! He borrowed a GED study guide in 2010. He got it at the Central Texas community of Copperas Cove located about 70 miles northwest of Austin.

In September 2013, a new law came into effect that defines the failure to return library books as thef, which is a felony. The new law makes sense; non-returning of library books drains recourses. In Texas alone, the libraries loose an estimated $18 million in “lost” books (around 1 million items). Since many communities have to deal with shrinking budgets and rising costs, they are looking for ways to have their library items returned in time.

The Texas procedure is as follows. Any library item that is not returned within 20 days carries a fine of $200. If this fine is not paid in time, a warrant will be issued by the municipal court for theft.

That’s what happened to Mr. Enck. The police went to his address due to a reported disturbance. Once they arrived, they arrested based on a previous warrant for theft of the study guide. He was promptly arrested for theft since he failed to return his overdue library book.

Mr. Enck was released on a $200 bond, and returned the book in question to library. He also turned to the media to state that he wouldn’t set foot in a library again: He also said: “I think I will probably just purchase a book from Amazon.”

Mr. Eck forgot to mention that he had not been able to return the guide earlier since he had to serve a three-year prison sentence for robbery.

Texas is not the only state cracking down on people like Mr. Enck. Iowa jails this kind of offenders for one week. A man from Newton (Iowa) served jail time of more than a week for not returning six CDs and eleven library books with a total worth of a whopping $770. Vermont and Maine are also cracking down people that don’t return their library items.

The Enck incident is for now an oddity. However, it could happen far more frequently in the (near) future, especially since after such an arrest, long overdue library items are suddenly returned.

So what do you think? Are libraries (and the government) correct to crack down on people like Jory Enck to preserve their assets?

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