Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries from May 2007

Swiss cheese on the front page and above the fold…

May 31st, 2007 · Comments Off on Swiss cheese on the front page and above the fold…

Swiss cheese makes the front page of Geneva Tribune

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

… on our first morning in Geneva!

I know that Switzerland is a modern and diverse country (home of CERN, for goodness sake!) with many virtues beyond the old cliché of chocolate, bankers, and cheese.

But this did make me smile.

Tags: Travel

Head in the clouds…

May 30th, 2007 · Comments Off on Head in the clouds…

Heads outside the Sheldonian in Oxford

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

…as mine soon will be. We leave Oxford for Geneva (and CERN!) this morning.

Urgent note to self–pack now, blog later!

Tags: Wide wonderful world

Lewis Carroll’s eyeglasses

May 28th, 2007 · Comments Off on Lewis Carroll’s eyeglasses

Lewis Carroll’s eyeglasses

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

Amity discovered these eyeglasses yesterday in the basement of Oxford’s Museum of the History of Science.

Oxford is full of echoes of two Charles Dodgsons — one the shy mathematician of Christ Church College who miraculously didn’t stutter when talking to children– the other (using the pseudonym Lewis Carroll) the child-beloved author of such brilliant nonsense as Alice in Wonderland.

The display case says these glasses were Lewis Carroll’s but surely the one of these two who needed glasses was Mr. Dodgson.

Tags: Wide wonderful world

Helium balloon on 14th century window

May 27th, 2007 · Comments Off on Helium balloon on 14th century window

Helium balloon inside Oxford’s New College

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

Inside Oxford’s New College, old and new signs of intellectual life–a medieval scholar’s window with a modern student ‘s shiny “Congratulations” balloon, probably celebrating the end of his/her final exams.

Tags: Wide wonderful world

Finalists — Strictly no flour!

May 25th, 2007 · Comments Off on Finalists — Strictly no flour!

Finalists — Strictly no flour!

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

Sign of the times–said times being final exams for Oxford University students.

The Turf Pub welcomes said students, but not food fights or silly string.

But if they behave–“Well done and enjoy your day.”

Elsewhere in the Turf Pub, a sign claiming that it was their own terrace where Bill Clinton tried marijuana but didn’t inhale.

Tags: funny · Travel · Wide wonderful world

Cameras as well as people may be deceived

May 25th, 2007 · Comments Off on Cameras as well as people may be deceived

From Magdalen Bridge

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

“In retrospect, it always seems to be summer…” says Jan Morris in her book Oxford,

“…and a fine day at that.

The meteorological records for these parts assure us that July 4, 1862 was ‘cool and rather wet’: but on that day Lewis Carroll first told the tale of Alice in Wonderland to four people in a Thames gig, rowing upstream for a picnic tea, and to the ends of their lives all four remembered the afternoon as a dream of cloudless English sunshine.

Such is the magic of Oxford that cameras as well as people may be fooled–as witness my sunny-sky photos from May, 2005 as well as all the ones I’ve been taking this time.

Hmmm–but through the glass of my actual window here, I see what looks very much like some gentle rain–and that’s ok, because I love my old raincoat.

But will I remember this rain a few months from now? Or will Oxford’s magic make even my camera forget?

Tags: Travel · Wide wonderful world

The most important tree in the world?

May 24th, 2007 · Comments Off on The most important tree in the world?

The most important tree in the world?

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine.

Picturesque sycamore in Oxford between Queens and All Souls–said by town planner Thomas Sharp to be “one of the most important in the world.”

Why? Because “Without it, the scene would suffer greatly.” God bless the world’s enthusiasts, and Oxford’s lovely scenes.

God bless too all the trees that have not yet been called by anybody *the* most important.

Tags: Wide wonderful world

We have sig lines, they had shields with mottos

May 24th, 2007 · Comments Off on We have sig lines, they had shields with mottos

Here’s our window, just to the left of "Maintien Le Droit"

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine.

“Maintien Le Droit”

When this college was built, “Maintain the right” meant “Work hard for justice.”

Or to give it a much more personal, modern translation, “Make trouble today for a better tomorrow.”

Tags: Wide wonderful world

McJob makeover: Treating the OED like Wikipedia

May 24th, 2007 · Comments Off on McJob makeover: Treating the OED like Wikipedia

Oxford lovely building, part 2

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine.

What’s a “McJob”?

  • “an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service -sector” (From the OED)
  • “a low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition)
  • “a low-paying, low-prestige job that requires few skills and offers very little chance of intracompany advancement” (Wikipedia)
  • “a job that is stimulating, rewarding and offers genuine opportunities for career progression and skills that last a lifetime” ( McDonald’s)

The last of these definitions may soon be coming to a dictionary near you.

Anybody can edit Wikipedia–for example on April 5, 2007, one contributor blanked its entire McJobs entry, replacing it with “‘This is unfair and disgusting. Not everybody is unsatisfied with the service industry.”

Such claims crop up often in Wikipedia. Some article should stop describing what *is* (the way a term is actually used) and instead make some objector a happier person.

You or I can edit Wikipedia–giant corporations are more ambitious. McDonald’s has launched a massive PR campaign (with backing from other service-sector employers) to force printed dictionaries to redefine “McJobs.”

Will the OED become a McDictionary? If so, what next? Maybe “health food” defined as “Big Mac with a Diet Coke”?

Tags: Editorial · Wide wonderful world · wikipedia

Digging up trouble in England–but not like Kelso!

May 22nd, 2007 · Comments Off on Digging up trouble in England–but not like Kelso!

Oxford old and new

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine.

“When a stranger wants to dig up a corpse…should you let him?” asks Marc Abrahams in this week’s Guardian column “Gravely Mistaken.”

Wired just interviewed Marc about his “IgNobel empire” (their words not mine.) Marc says there that England is one of the hotspots for improbable research so I’ll keep my eyes open.

And my camera charged.

In this photograph–early spring morning in Oxford.

Foreground–old graves run to clover, nettle, buttercup.

Across the road, modern shops and big red buses.

Tags: Wide wonderful world