Chase Korte

I don’t know when I found out about his existence, but it must have been pretty early in my online existence. Certainly not later than September 2008, when I downloaded both the Why Walk 1000 Miles versions (having had previously downloaded the new one).

Today I learned he had already been dead by then.

It feels like another old friend has gone.


Understanding foreign-language jokes

I remember that reading year’s ago Werner Lansburgh’s Dear Doosie (in a translation, of course, but I believe a congenial one) I was troubled by one of his observations. He said that you may tell just about any joke to learners of a language – and you’ll get a genuine laugh from them. Even if the joke is rather poor, they’ll be so happy about the fact that they see the joke, that they would laugh even to something which would only make them chuckle (at best), if they heard it in their mother tongue, .

Back then it troubled me, because there was the unpleasant implication that many of the wisecracks, puns &c I loved so much I loved just because thinking in English still wasn’t by far as natural to me as I hoped it was.

But he was right, you know. A couple of days ago I came across a link to this. I laughed so much that I couldn’t resist sending it to half my friends, and even viewing it again just now (for about a twentieth time) I still couldn’t surpress an ear-to-ear smile. But, frankly, it certainly is not that good. It’s only the fact that despite hardly knowing more than, say, two hundred German words, I understood the punch line as soon as it appeared on the screen.

So I had to inwardly apologize to Mr Lansburgh. As I was saying, he was perfectly right.


Jackofclubs / Wonderfool

For an obvious reason I usually try to mention Wiktionary in this blog as little as possible (edit: looking at the sizes of my tags I’m obviously not succeding, though), but I simply can’t supress the longing to hear myself talking a bit about this affair, so to say.

Okay, so WF’s latest (?) sockpuppet was Jackofclubs. The silver lining is that it made me finally as sure as a cynic/agnostic can get that Equinox isn’t WF – I can hardly imagine anybody editing so much under both these accounts. Believing which I’m glad for more reasons than one that apparently Wonderfool wouldn’t be satisfied by the community in his whim, and let to go on with the J acount. Of course, it would be bad enough if we didn’t see that even letting him have this his way wouldn’t ensure preventing him from making more harm under another sockpuppet, as that would mean us being a bunch of real suckers. But as far as I’m concerned, after all the trouble there was for abovementioned Equinox, it would be unethical of us to say “all right, whatever harm you’re doing now and then you’re a great contributor, so we want you around”. Harm to the Main page is one thing; harm to a fellow editor another.

However, what surprised me most was the very fact that J=WF, combined with the fact that some obviously suspected so. Myself, I suspected J of something entirely different – I suspected him of being about Palkia’s age. Some of his sentences in the discussion rooms and on talkpages sounded to me so, well, so early teenage…

Ah yes, so much for my ability of reading people’s characters…


One year on the Net

(Actually I’ll only been connected for a whole year come Friday, but never mind.)

What a perfect pretext for having a backword glance, something I like doing a lot! Here goes, then:

The first few months, of course, were mostly spent learning about it. This partly meant the “technical” (ho ho) things – like what a “browser tab” is etc – and it was going hand in hand with learning about PC itself – the last time I was more or less regularly using one was back when 3 1/2 floppy discs were taking over from the 5 1/4’s and the CD was seen purely as a music medium – in my country anyway. (A DVD? What’s that?) More importantly, however, it meant learning what the Net had to offer – and here I found I had had a fairly distorted view of it. I had thought that 99.99% of it was about (1) e-mails, mostly ones connected with somebody’s job of course, (2) chatrooms and blogs, (3) advertisement of divers kinds, and (4) pure entertainment. So I wasn’t so much surprised while discovering YouTube, though I still revel now and then in looking for – and often finding – songs/clips I’ve heard/seen yonks ago and thought I’d never hear/see again. But I was taken aback by the BBC pages, both by how “large” they were, and… well, Radio Scotland and Radio nan Gaidheal, both available to me here in the middle of Europe, and, give or take a second or two, live!

This evolved into the “greedy” phase – all the things one wanted to learn more about now within easy reach. It took me some time to realise I don’t have to copypaste it all into text files, as given I’d found some piece of info once, I’d probably be able to find it again. Then to realise that I don’t have to, in fact even possibly can’t, read everything there is about a particular interest of mine. (“Yes, there are hundreds of lyrics of songs you like that you don’t understand from mere listening, and now you can read just about any – but do you need to find about them all at once? After all, a few months ago you didn’t know you’d ever be able to at all!” And so forth.)

So I was slowly learning to take it easier; but at the same time I was more and more succumbing to the possibility of, how shall I say, doing something active myself. Like e-mailing this or that link to this or that friend, contributing to this or that project, saying my piece on this or that website, starting a blog, things like that. As with the paragraph above, I then had to learn that I can’t be at a zillion places at the same time, so that the last, say, third of this first year was to a great amount about adjusting my time according to where do I want to spend how big a proportion of it. Where do I want to, considering the time I have, spend more time, where less, and where I unfortunately can’t get at all.

And, to tell the truth, this final phase seems to be far from finished yet. Ay, I have an overall image about which sites I want to visit daily, which weekly, which monthly and which not at all. But I’m still (even if considerably less than, say, in January, despite the fact that I even found some new sites I learned to like a lot in the meantime) much too often finding myself growing somewhat nervous because of getting stuck on this page or that although “by this time I should have already been elsewhere”.

But I’m learning. Let’s hope that a year from now I’ll be already well-adjusted – Net-wise.

And let’s be inspired by them end-of-the-year charts, and, eight being my lucky number, put here links to the eight websites I’m the most glad I’ve discovered within the year. Realizing that if I was doing this yesterday or tomorrow, there might apper one or two different addresses instead of one or two of the following, and that the order might be somewhat different as well.

  • en-Wiktionary (of course, actually it’s my watchlist I’ve set as a homepage), en-Wikipedia (even though I’m well aware of its drawbacks as a source of information) and gd-Wikipedia (for more than one reason – perhaps a hint for some future blog?),
  • BBC News (my homepage often varying between World, UK, Scotland and Weather – and often more than one at the same time), Radio nan Gaidheal and Radio Scotland (can’t say I prefer one to the other)
  • YouTube (sweet nostalgia, mostly, though certainly not exclusively)
  • Akerbeltz (just fascinating, if you’re interested in the language, the Beagan Gràmair section in particular – can you imagine that the Gaelic “piuthar” for “sister”, does derive from the Indo-European swesðr, through lenition and later dis-leniting backformation?)
  • Fòram na Gàidhlig (to think that as of 30/12/08 I’d still never said or written a single word in Gaelic to anybody else…)
  • Pink News (the World according to Stonewall)
  • (another area where I’ve got to watch my greed for books and music)
  • and last but not least this one, of course. Plus obviously there’s Google and there are my friends’ e-mail addresses.


Re: Agnostic

To expand a bit on the bio:
They tried to bring me up as an atheist, of course – very usual at that place and time. Only they didn’t succeed, as I found their conviction as just another belief, much more probable perhaps, but none the same unprovable. Moreover, their kind of atheism was almost synonymous with that sense of the word materialism which is, when thought about really thoroughly, in my opinion just a kind of fatalism. And I prefer to believe in free will, despite realising that that too may be just wishful thinking.

In my teens I had this interest in Buddhism, with its non-violence aspect, its not being exactly a religion (at least not indisputably so), its not demanding one’s choosing the “right” sect &c, but unfortunately, I was already old enough to realise pretty soon that predominantly I was just in search of something to diminish my natural fear of death.

And then of course I happened to come across the Authorised Version, and having had almost nothing of the book pre-chewed and pre-interpreted for me, I read it as it was and concluded it’s the most unethical book I’ve ever read, even though I’ve heard about many books which are presumably even worse.

To be sure, agnosticism is not just about religion – it’s about knowledge in the broadest possible sense. So that, for instance, yes, I think it very highly improbable that at this very moment I’m sound asleep, but… but can’t rule it out altogether, as often in my sleep I’d feel the same. Or that the Earth moves around the Sun – but weren’t people absolutely certain it’s the other way round only half a millenium ago? And so forth.

No wonder the chaplain from Heller’s Catch-22 is one of my favourite characters there: There was no way of really knowing anything, he knew, not even that there was no way of really knowing anything. I guess this simple (or not so simple) sentence covers it perfectly.



Much as I love Scotland, I don’t at all like kilts (indeed I’ve only seen about two guys whom a kilt became in my life). Similarly, much as I love many Scottish sayings, I certainly don’t like this one:

He that looks wi ae ee, and winks wi anither, I wouldna believe him, though he was my brither.

I realise this is about the “winking behind somebody’s back” sort, but in principle I don’t think I find much quarrel even with that. How many of us have never winked at a workmate, or at least have always disapproved of a workmate winking at us, behind our bosses’ backs? It’s always a matter of context, like most things in this world.

But, more importantly to me, there’s also the “enough said” sort of winking, one which in a split second tells “I believe you understand pretty well all the implications of what I have said, so I won’t waste our time by spelling them out for you”. It has nothing to do with making fun of anybody or anything (okay, not necesarily;-)), it’s simply about expressing the friendly feeling that, at least at the moment and at least as regards the matter in hand, you and the other(s) are on the same wavelength.

Indeed, I very rarely use any other smiley than he winking one. (Although perhaps I’d use a “shrugging” and a “thumbs-up” ones just as much, if only they existed – that is to say in the original three-symbol format; I’m too fusty and cynical to appreciate the overanimated teenagers’ stuff. But that’s anither story.)


Tom Traddles

Amongst the many characters in Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, Tom Traddles is my favourite, simply for what he says when David asks him why he doesn’t write a book. He states he thinks he’s no mean compiler, but doesn’t reckon there was ever a boy with less imagination than him. I loved him for this when I first read the book some twenty years ago, and up till now I keep finding new pieces of evidence of this trait in myself.

Note: the actul quotation in the original is: “I am not a bad compiler, Copperfield, [….] but I have no invention at all; not a particle. I suppose there never was a young man with less originality than I have.”


Feeling good

It’s funny how sometimes the things we do without any intention in some direction work better than words we say specifically with that intention in mind.

I mean, the other day EP asked me to do some minor research. It proved to be rather easy, so I could soon report to him the outcome, but I mentioned that another person would be more reliable than me in that matter. To which he replied that said person isn’t always easily contacted, while I’m pretty reliable to be around “and working hard”.

Now, of course I felt flattered by that (provided a lifelong cynic like me can feel flattered at all), but the funny thing is that I was even more flattered by the fact that I was asked to do that job in the first place.


Reid Yaird

Reid Yaird is a literal translation into Scots of the name of the boozers’, junkies’ and gamblers’ rehabilitation centre, where I spent an outstanding three months approximately one year ago. It’s an old castle surrounded by a beautiful 117-hectare (289-acre) park, and later today I’m going there for my third “repeating stay”.

Repeating stay is a clumsy literal translation into English of the technical term for a week spent there by somebody who underwent the cure there and haven’t relapsed. (So far, at least). You’re expected to go on one three times within the first year after cure, and then once each year, though naturally very few really do. This one will be special for me in that for the first time I’ve no idea whether I’ll meet there anybody I know from my previous stays. Yet even if I don’t, it’s still familiar ground, so that I’m actually looking forward to being there again. Holidays, more or less, like twice before.

About being off-line? Much as I grew addicted to the Net within the nine months I’m connected, I suppose I’ll hardly remember about it while there, like the last time – though of course my notebook will be quite probably the very first thing I’ll switch on when I get back…


Simon MacMillan

By sheer incident I noticed this story about a young guy, who went missing after a Christmas dance on Boxing Day last year, at its very beginning, and once or twice a month searched whether there’s anything new about it. Today I’ve learned that they’d probably found him on Sunday or Monday – dead. It’s strange you can grow to care so much about somebody whom you actually never knew, and who you know virtually nothing about, but there you are. I’ve been depressed for the rest of the day.


Fòram na Gàidhlig

It worked! I put there a question on Tuesday night and when I returned from work the following day, answers were already awaiting me. You can see the discussion for yourselves here. I admit I’m a bit disappointed by the fact that there are no particular Gaelic names for the three historical countries forming the state I live in, but the main issue is that when I have any question like that in the future, I have a place where to ask it. And the fact that even akerbeltz took part in the conversation (who it’s all but certain from some indices is MB, or the Akerbeltz), added a special flavour to the matter for me. It’s as if a fan had the chance of talking music for a while with a member of his favourite band…