Grab the nearest book

by Eszter Hargittai on February 11, 2008

As far as I know, no one has tagged me with this blog meme, but I’m still going to participate as it looks fun.

1. Grab the nearest book (that is at least 123 pages long).
2. Open to p. 123.
3. Go down to the 5th sentence.
4. Type in the following 3 sentences.
5. Tag five people.

Nearest book as I sit at my coffee table at home: The Chocolate Connoisseur by Chloé Doutre-Roussel. Page 123 is in the middle of Chapter 6 on The Cream of the Crop under the Reading the Ingredients List subheading. Here we go:

There are several grades of chocolate, and these figures show the European Union and US regulations for standard (S) as well as fine (F) chocolate.

* Dark chocolate (S) must contain at least 35% dry cocoa solids (but 15% for “sweet chocolate” in the US), while dark chocolate (F) must contain at least 43%.
* Milk chocolate (S) must contain at least 25% dry cocoa solids (but 20% in the UK, and 10% in the US), while fine milk chocolate must contain at least 30%.

The fun continues in the 4th sentence so allow me to add that: “Bars such as Cadbury Dairy Milk, Galaxy or Hershey must be labelled ‘family milk chocolate’ in the EU, as they don’t contain enough chocolate to count as chocolate under these rules!”

So yes, it’s worth noting that chocolate is not immune to policy considerations. It may sound silly, but it’s obviously a huge industry and what gets to be labelled chocolate does have regulations attached to it, ones that vary from one country to the next. There are also lobbying efforst involved. I don’t follow this area closely, but when a related news story pops up, I do find it intriguing to check out.

Since I wasn’t tagged for this meme, I guess I don’t have to tag anyone else either although I invite people to grab the nearest book and post the specified three sentences here or on their own blogs.

{ 2 trackbacks }

“Grab the nearest book …” : NuT
02.11.08 at 3:11 pm
Scholars and Rogues » Grab the nearest book
02.11.08 at 9:10 pm



Nick 02.11.08 at 1:18 pm

It was written, as well as the ‘Milton,’ during the Felpham period, though probably added to, and finally finished after his return to London.
Those who have heard the extraordinary tone-poem called ‘Also Sprach Zarathurstra’ by Richard Strauss, may not think it far-fetched to suggest a parallel between revolutionary, chaotic, yet somehow great music, such as it is, and the so-called poem of “Jerusalem”. To the authors of both, the classical, the established forms of expression belonging to their respective arts, seem outworn, inadequate, cramped.

From ‘William Blake – a study of his life & art work’, Irene Langridge, London, 1904.


rea 02.11.08 at 1:21 pm

There were no guards in the neighborhood, not any light in that quarter of the town

Dick and his two outlaws drew a little closer to the object of their chase, and presently, as they came forth from between the houses and could see a little farther on either hand, they were aware of another torch drawing enar from another direction.

“Hey,” said Dick, “I smell treason.”

Robert Louis Stevenson, The Black Arrow–I’ve been reading to the grandkids. :)


Richard J 02.11.08 at 1:27 pm

(5) A sum assessed on a company by such an assessment as is referred to in [section 252(5) of the principal Act]2 (recovery of payment of tax credit or interest on such a payment) shall carry interest at the [rate applicable under section 178 of the Finance Act 1989]3 from the date when the payment of tax credit or interest was made until the sum assessed is paid.]1

[(6) In any case where—

(a) on a claim under section 393A(1) of the principal Act, the whole or any part of a loss incurred in an accounting period (the “later period”) has been set off for the purposes of corporation tax against profits of a preceding accounting period (the “earlier period”),

(b) the earlier period does not fall wholly within the period of twelve months immediately preceding the later period, and

Tolley’s Yellow Tax Handbook 2007-2008 Part IA. Doing this at work was perhaps a mistake.


Eszter 02.11.08 at 1:28 pm

I like the idea of posting the quote first and then the citation. That way one can try to guess at least type of book before seeing the details.

Thanks, Richard, you just made me feel much better about all the work ahead of me today.;-)


karl strom 02.11.08 at 1:34 pm

My nearest book is “Reproduction: In Education, Society and Culture” by Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron. Unfortunately, page 123 (in chapter 2, “The Literate Tradition and Social Conservation”) contains less than five complete sentences (both their sentences and their chapters are long…), so I’ll quote the three sentences that are on the page:

But it would be naive to suppose that the function of social distinction performed by the cultivated relation to culture is exclusively and eternally attached to “general culture” in its “humanistic” form. The glamour of econometrics, computer science, operational research or the latest thing in structuralism can serve, no less well than knowledge of the classics or the ancient languages in another epoch, as an elegant ornament or an instrument of social success: consider the technocrats who hawk from conference to conference knowledge aquired at conferences; the essayists who draw from a diagonal reading of the most general pages of the least specialized works of specialists matter for general disquisitions on the inherent limits of the specialization of specialists; or the dandies of scientificity, past masters in the art of the chic allusion which instantly places the speaker in the outposts of the avant-garde sciences which bear no stain of the plebeian sin of positivism.

Conversation and conservation
But to suppose that practices and ideologies whose possibility and probability are objectively inscribed in the structure of the relation of pedagogic communication and in the social and institutional conditions of its conduct can be explained solely by reference to the interests of the teaching corps or, still more naively, by the pursuit of prestige or gratifications of self-esteem, would be to forget that, in order to fulfill its social function of legitimating the dominant culture, an educational system must obtain the recognition of the authority of its action, even if this has to take the form of recognition of the authority of the masters appointed to inculcate that culture.



PeWi 02.11.08 at 1:36 pm

The book closest to me has no page numbers for the first 1135 pages, and no, it is not a bible. I don’t want to have to count to 123.

Ah. but the other one:

We have sinned: forgive and heal us.
the Virgin Mary accepted your call to be the mother of Jesus. Forgive our disobedience to your will. We have sinned: forgive and heal us.

Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the church of England. 2000 edition. I was doing some research, in case anybody is wondering – the first book was a hymn book.


Aulus Gellius 02.11.08 at 1:57 pm

There will be no end to evils in the world, Socrates asserts in Republic 5 (473d-3), until philosophers become rulers, and the point is repeated in similar words in book 6 (501e). It is striking that, in criticizing the poets’ portrayals of the gods in Republic 2, Socrates concedes that human life contains more evil than good, but his concern is to deny that the evil can be attributed to divine causes, as in the famous Iliadic passage about Zeus’s two jars (379d). But does Plato purport to claim that suffering of misfortune would disappear if society were radically reformed along ideal lines?

The book is Ancient Literary Criticism (ed. Andrew Laird), and the page is from early in chapter 5, “Plato and Aristotle on Denial of Tragedy,” by Stephen Halliwell. Finally got me to open the damn book, which I’ve had out of the library, and on my desk, for weeks.


robert the red 02.11.08 at 1:59 pm

My closest book: Abramowitz and Stegun, Handbook of Mathematical functions. Page 123, line 5:

0.354     1.42475 51864 79888 380     0.70817 49673 55394 037

I think I’ll skip the next lines, since the story doesn’t get more interesting for quite a while.


Steve LaBonne 02.11.08 at 2:05 pm

In our forensic work we will often need to consider relatedness. This can occur because of a specific defense such as “my brother committed the crime”, but is becoming incresingly relevant even in the absence of such a specific defense. There are several probabilities that we may be interested in regarding relatives.

Ch. 4, “Relatedness”, by John Buckleton and Christoper Triggs, in Buckleton, Triggs and Walsh (eds.), Forensic DNA Evidence Interpretation.

OK, so it would have been more interesting if I were at home rather than at work. ;)


MattF 02.11.08 at 2:08 pm

From Acton’s “Numerical Methods That Work”:

“The last integral may be integrated analytically while the first two combine to give a numerator that grows as t^2 near the origin. Thus this new integrand and its first derivative are zero at the origin, conferring a geometry that is hospitable to use of standard quadrature formulas. The second derivative is still infinite there, but that is a much more tolerable infinity than those in the first derivative or in the integrand itself.”

Still the best book in the universe on numerical methods, IMO.


Scott Martens 02.11.08 at 2:08 pm

Unfortunately, most do not.

The operators , (comma), && (logical and), and || (logical or) guarantee that their left-hand operand is evaluated before their right-hand operand. For example, b=(a=2,a+1) assigns 3 to b.

— Bjarne Stroustrup, C++ Programming Language – 3rd Edition

God, I’m boring.

As for Eurochocolate – this was a relatively large political issue in Belgium, where commercial chocolates made by giant, non-Belgian multinationals – especailly British ones – using non-cocoa vegetable oils are refered to by a particular local colloquialism: “de la merde”.


anon 02.11.08 at 2:20 pm

Neal Stephenson – The Confusion:
He had much in common physically with Pontchartrain; but where the Count’s eyes were warm and brown, Rossignol’s were hot and black. And not hot in a passionate way, unless you counted his passion for his work.
A recorder arpeggio – some fragment of a minuet – leaked out of the doors, as servants pulled them open.

(Does a semicolon terminate a sentence? Oh well, it is what it is.)


tired of blogs 02.11.08 at 2:40 pm

“A great many Allied leaders were certain that the war could not be won before 1919, and Foch continued to plan for a massive final advance through Lorraine. But he also planned to make the best possible use of the rest of 1918. His objectives were the rail lines (shown in blue), by means of which the Germans supplied their armies — or would evacuate them in case of defeat.”

The West Point Atlas of War: World War I. Chief editor: Brigadier General Vincent J. Esposito.

(Note: had to cheat. Page 123 was a full-page map. This is from the accompanying text on page 122. The map is titled “Allied Final Offensive.”)


Mrs Tilton 02.11.08 at 2:49 pm

Doch wird in der Literatur über die Anwendbarkeit des § 815 bei § 1301 gestritten: Manche meinen nämlich, § 1301 S.1 enthalte nur eine Verweisung auf die Rechtsfolgen des Bereicherungsrechts, also bloß auf die §§ 818 ff. Dagegen nehmen die h.M. und insbesondere auch die Rechtsprechung mit wohl besseren Gründen eine auch den § 815 umfassende Rechtsgrundverweisung (Tatbestandverweisung) an.

Danach hat in Fall 144 die B keinen Rückforderungsanspruch wegen des Sportwagens und folglich auch kein Zurückbehaltungsrecht (§§ 273, 274) an der Segelyacht.

D. Medicus, Gesetzliche Schuldverhältnisse: Delikts- und Schadensrecht; Bereicherung; Geschäftsführung ohne Auftrag, 2. Aufl.

Two observations:

1. The fact that dominant scholarly opinion (“h.M.”, herrschende Meinung) takes pride of place over judicial rulings isn’t at all weird in Germany.

2. The law does sort of hose B here, but don’t worry about her too much. According to the case study’s fact pattern, she’s a fabulously high-earning recording artist.


Mrs Tilton 02.11.08 at 2:50 pm

Arse. Second para above should be blockquoted, too.


leinad 02.11.08 at 2:58 pm

“That would still far exceed 1840’s 11 ounces, but the earlier figure, as we said, is probably an underestimate. Per capita tea consumption in the much more prosperous China of 1987s is slighty below the 1840 figure; though since tea now competes with beer, soft drinks and other beverages this is an unfair comparison. Overall per capita consumption of “drug foods” certainly grew more slowly in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, if it did not in fact shrink.”

Kenneth Pomeranz, The Great Divergence


Tom 02.11.08 at 3:08 pm

It provided for a government loan to limited-dividend corporations of 90 percent of the cost of the project at an interest on 2 1/2 percent. The president thought the plan had some merit and sent it to Jesse Jones with a memorandum in which he asked him to talk it over with the secretary of the interior and inform the president with a reply. So many of the departments and agencies of the executive branch were becoming involved in housing affairs that the president sent a memorandum to the National Resources Board early in 1935 in which he asked it to investigate the possibility of coordinating all housing activities. The Central Housing Committee evolved out of the acitivity initiated by this memorandum.
The National Resources Board appointed a special committee to investigate the situation to which the president had referred.


Mo MacArbie 02.11.08 at 3:24 pm

Response to added GA3, is highly dose-dependent, and differs between varieties. Within limits the major responses are often proportional to the logarithm of the dose applied [25] (Fig. 5.3). With suitable applications of GA3, maximal extract is obtained 1-3 days sooner than would otherwise be the case, and in up to 3% greater yield than is obtained from an untreated control.

Malting and Brewing Science Briggs, Hough, Stevens and Young. How does one denote brackets that actually appear in a quote?


Bobcat 02.11.08 at 3:26 pm

Because this generator produces so many-universes [sic], just by chance it will eventually produce one that is fine-tuned for intelligent life to occur.
Given this distinction, we will next attempt to rigorously develop the argument from fine-tuning against the atheistic single universe hypothesis, and then consider four major objections to it. Finally, in section IV we will consider the many-universes hypothesis and some theistic responses to it.
In this section, we will attempt to rigorously develop the argument for preferring theism over the atheistic single-universe hypothesis.

From Robin Collins’s essay “God, Design, and Fine-Tuning”, in God Matters: Readings in the Philosophy of Religion, edited by Raymond Martin and Christopher Bernard (New York, NY: Longman, 2002).


John M 02.11.08 at 3:31 pm

She bundled herself and her luggage into a taxi and took the night train for paris.

The journey this time was horrible. She was, after all, very fond of Christian, and as soon as the train had left the station, she began to ask herself whether she had not in fact behaved stupidly and badly.


jacob 02.11.08 at 3:36 pm

Boo for the fish! Evening announcements had always been the positive-reinforcement portion of the day, when kids would beam as they heard their name trumpeted and the entire camp would applaud them. As a camper, I loved the unapologetic peer recognition.

Josh Wolk, Cabin Pressure: One Man’s Desperate Attempt to Recapture His Youth as a Camp Counselor (New York: Hyperion, 2007). (It’s a book about my old summer camp, which I stayed up late reading last night.)


John Protevi 02.11.08 at 3:40 pm

“Nothing is more instructive in this regard than the history of the diagrams of sensory aphasia. In the early period, marked by the work of Charcot, Broadbent, Kussmaul, and Lichtheim, the theorists confined themselves to the hypothesis of an ‘ideational center’ linked by transcortical paths to the various speech centers. But, as analysis of cases was pushed futher, this center for ideas receded and finally disappeared.”

Zone Books edition of English translation of Bergson’s Matter and Memory.


barney 02.11.08 at 3:44 pm

Conversely, isomeric alkanes contain the same number of carbons and hydrogens, and one might expect that their respective combustions would be equally exothermic. However, that is not the case.
A comparison of the heats of combustion of isomeric alkanes reveals that their values are usually
not the same.
From Organic Chemistry: Structure and Function, 5th ed., Vollhardt & Schore.
Somebody’s got to teach it.


GreatZamfir 02.11.08 at 3:47 pm

EPE4 is an alternative for EPE3b that can be used in those circumstances where the space region for the actuator is given a priori and not suited for an axisymmetric device. As EPE3b, EPE4 is formulated by minimizing the mass of a device subject to constraints that require time-demanding three -dimensional finite-element calculations. The solution for EPE4 is obtained efficiently by either SM or MM.

“Multi-level optimization” by David Echeverria Ciaurri

Can we vote on worst text? Please?

Someone above had the following text in the quote:

The glamour of econometrics, computer science, operational research or the latest thing in structuralism can serve, no less well than knowledge of the classics or the ancient languages in another epoch, as an elegant ornament or an instrument of social success:

I think this comment list is already well on its way to disproving at least the elegant part, and in my case also the social success part :-)


Eszter 02.11.08 at 4:03 pm

Arse. Second para above should be blockquoted, too.

Yeah, I think we figured that out.:)

Can we vote on worst text? Please?

Too many contenders, apparently.;-)


Maria 02.11.08 at 4:05 pm

“Then in May 1942, after a year of debate, Congress established the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. The prospect of women in the army was wildly controversial. The army opposed it.”

James Tiptree Jr. The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon. Henry gave it to me for Christmas and it’s a wonderful if disconcerting read.


Z 02.11.08 at 4:14 pm

The various formlae for the local epsilon factors that are spread throughout [19] and [118] allow us to decide whether a given place v of F belongs to S(chi), provided that the local components pi_v and pi(chi) of pi and pi(chi) are not simultaneously supercuspidal.

It goes on. L-function and Galois representations.


GreatZamfir 02.11.08 at 4:14 pm

Has there ever been ‘another epoch’ in which a game like this would have produced only gems of beauty, even from those at work?

I can too easily imagine a Roman official from the year zero whose closest text has regulations on the construction of proper wooden crosses, not to mention Chinese officials, where even the classics were about bureaucratic management


peter ramus 02.11.08 at 4:23 pm

Then away with them as hard as they could go to the water. Not a spot of the strand but was hidden by the spouts of foam they sent up into the sky; and when we were within ten yards of the strand, not a seal was to be seen, the sea still again, save only the rings they had left in their wake. I looked down through the water.

From Maurice O’Sullivan’s gaeltacht memoir Twenty Years A-Growing, pulled from the bookshelf the other day prompted by John Updike’s recent somewhat purse-mouthed review in the New Yorker of the collected novels of Flann O’Brien, to remind myself what The Poor Mouth was making such glorious fun of.

Beware the sea-cat!


Watson Aname 02.11.08 at 4:42 pm

Interesting idea. Here’s mine:

3.4.4 Let P be a transition matrix on E = {0,1,…,N-1,N} with three communicating classes, {0}, {N}, and {1,…,N-1}. […]

And so on; it won’t make a lot of sense without more context.

P. Bremaud, Markov Chains, Gibbs Fields, Monte Carlo Simulation, and Queues


Sam C 02.11.08 at 4:51 pm

At checkmate, beneath the foot of the king, knocked aside by the winner’s hand, a black or a white square remains. By disembodying his conquests to reduce them to the essential, Kublai has arrived at the extreme operation: the definitive conquest, of which the empire’s multiform treasures were only illusory envelopes. It was reduced to a square of planed wood: nothingness…

– Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (trans. William Weaver)


rootlesscosmo 02.11.08 at 5:03 pm

<blockquote cite=”Everything runs along the color line, as W.E.B. DuBois wrote in The Souls of Black Folk. Still, it’s worth asking why the music of 10 percent of the population should have had such influence.

In 1939, a Harvard undergraduate named Leonard Bernstein tried to give an answer, in a paper titled “The Absorption of Race Elements into American Music.””

Alex Ross, The Rest is Noise


Tim O'Keefe 02.11.08 at 5:03 pm

Now, that it has ceased-to-be in itself is not possible, because then it is; but it cannot be that the former now has ceased to be in another now, either. For we take it that it is impossible for the nows to be adjoining one another, as it is for a point to be adjoining a point; so, since the now has not ceased to be in the next but in some other one, it will be simultaneously in the nows in between, which are infinitely many; but this is impossible. Yet it is not possible either that the same now should always persist.

–Aristotle, Physics bok IV chapter 10, in A New Aristotle Reader, edited by J.L. Ackrill.


redjellydonut 02.11.08 at 5:07 pm

Then he starts trying to conciliate me in front of Christine this evening. That got me down again. Then he takes me in here for a dance and tries to laugh the whole thing off by treating me man-to-man and telling me I know what little girls like Christine are like and how I’m not the sort of person he’s always taken me for if I let that sort of thing interfere in a friendship -note that- between two adults -note that too.

from my current commute reading, Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim.


rootlesscosmo 02.11.08 at 5:09 pm

Everything runs along the color line, as W.E.B. DuBois wrote in The Souls of Black Folk. Still, it’s worth asking why the music of 10 percent of the population should have had such influence. In 1939, a Harvard undergraduate named Leonard Bernstein tried to give an answer, in a paper titled “The Absorption of Race Elements into American Music.”

Alex Ross, The Rest is Noise.


fardels bear 02.11.08 at 5:13 pm

“Only San Lorenzo and Castro valley, bedroom communities with no industry resisted this process. Altogether, it was an extraordinary land rush with few equals in California. Cartography Lab, University of Wisconsin.”

This is a caption on a map, which explains the cryptic third sentence. From Robert O. Self, AMERICAN BABYLON: RACE THE STRUGGLE FOR POSTWAR OAKLAND (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2003), p. 123.


Jim Harrison 02.11.08 at 5:23 pm

The entire page is a reproduction of Albrecht Durer’s The Flight into Egypt from the Life of Mary.

The Body of the Artist by Pamela H. Smith


mcat 02.11.08 at 5:39 pm

An alternative approach to isolating a gene on the basis of its protein product is the use of antibodies as probes to screen expression libraries. In this case a cDNA library is generated in an expression vector that drives protein synthesis in E. coli. Phage plaques or bacterial colonies are then transferred to a filter as already described, but the filter is then reacted with an antibody (as in Western blotting) to identify clones that are producing the protein of interest.

The Cell: A Molecular Approach, eds. Geoffrey M. Cooper and Robert E. Hausman, 3rd edition.


Donald A. Coffin 02.11.08 at 5:47 pm

“Because these countries [USSR, China, India] had approximately half the world’s population, their entry into the global economy effectively doubled the nnumber of workers in the world’s labor pool. Absent China, India, and the ex-Soviet bloc, there would have been about 1.46 billion workers in the global economy in 2000. The entry of these countries into the global economy raised the number of workers to 2.93 billion…”

Richard Freeman’s “America Works.”

Eszter got to write about chocolate, and here I am writing about the global labor force. Some people keep more fun books clase at hand than I do.


Everett 02.11.08 at 5:48 pm

As the eldest son, John bore many of the burdens of pioneering. Back-breaking days of toil gave him ample reason to hate the wilderness, but Muir was not the typical frontiersman. The thrill of being in what he later called “that glorious Wisconsin wilderness” never abated.

Wilderness and the American Mind by Roderick Nash


notsneaky 02.11.08 at 5:57 pm

The first 4 words give away the kind of book it is:

“On the other hand, to the extent that it enriches society as a whole, productivity growth should stimulate demand and therefore the creation of new jobs. Indeed, as shown by Pissarides (1990), an increase in productivity growth that affected all sectors and firms uniformly would necessarily raise aggregate employment, because firms would be induced to intensify their recruiting efforts in order to capitalize on more rapidly growing productivity.
History shows, however that technical progress does not raise productivity equally in all jobs and sectors”

Aghion and Howitt, “Endogenous Growth Theory”


~~~~ 02.11.08 at 6:06 pm

A first name and a last name are generally sufficient. We can talk, in fact, without fear of being misunderstood, about the poetics of Anton Webern, of Olivier Messiaen, of Igor Stravinsky, of Béla Bártok, thereby implying a diversified and consciously original vision of the making of music. It would, on the other hand, strike people as somewhat strange if we were to talk about the poetics of Bach, Haydn, or Mozart, since their works, for all their complexity, tend to incorporate objective historical and aesthetic values which, at the time those works were composed, had an existence of their own, quite independent of the individual works themselves – values, in other words, whose relative permanence was not easily altered by history and events.

Berio, Luciano (2006), Remembering the Future, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press


CG 02.11.08 at 6:09 pm

“With respect to this issue, the Ottoman sources clearly diverge. While some of the chronicles attribute gaza raids and some military success to Ertogril, others portray that generation as mlitarily and politically inactive, at least after they came to Bithynia. The Yahsi Fakih-Asikpasazade narrative, for instance, states that at the time of Ertogril, after the tribe moved to Bithynia, ‘there was no fighting and warfare, they ust moved between the summer and winter pastures.'”

from Cemal Kafadar, “Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State”.


Tom Hurka 02.11.08 at 6:39 pm

My closest book is Henry Sidgwick, The Methods of Ethics. Its p. 123 doesn’t have a 5th sentence (if you don’t count a footnote). It gets only two words into its fourth sentence, partly because it opens a chapter, and so starts well down the page, and partly because its third sentence is a long semi-coloned Victorian monstrosity. Well done, Henry!


Katherine 02.11.08 at 6:59 pm

We paid a final courtest call on General Aziz, Werner’s friend who had lent us Abu and his jeep to film the Toraja. He received us wearing a sarong and bouncing a six-month-old grnadson in his lap. Je gave us an official letter to show the military commanders we might bump into along the way, and sent one of his high-ranking aides down to the dock to see us off.

From Lawrence Blair with Lorne Blair, Ring Of Fire – the unlikely tales of two film making brothers travelling around Indonesia when it was mostly difficult and inadvisable to do so.


John M 02.11.08 at 7:07 pm

“In this regard, communism has always been and will remain spectral: it is always still to come and is distinguished, like democracy itself, from every living present understood as plenitude of a presence-to-itself, as totality of a presence effectively identical to itself. Capitalist societies can always heave a sigh of relief and say to themselves: communism is finished since the collapse of the totalitarianisms of the twentieth century and not only is it finished, but it did not take place, it was only a ghost. They do no more than disavow the undeniable itself: a ghost never dies, it remains always to come and to come-back.”

From Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx, 1994.


vincent 02.11.08 at 7:35 pm

I have assumed throughout that the persons in the original position are rational. But I have also assumed that they do not know their conception of the good. This means that while they know that they have some rational plan of life, they do not know the details of this plan, the particular ends and interests which it is calculated to promote.

Rawls, TJ


Chunter 02.11.08 at 8:11 pm

Cairns didn’t do a great deal, and Boock took just 2 wickets for 339 runs. The West Indian batting was solid rather than spectacular, but then it didn’t need to be spectacular, with Malcolm Marshall taking 27 wickets and moving to the top of the world bowlers’ list for the first time. (He’s been up there ever since.)

From The Complete Guide to Test Cricket in the Eighties by Marcus Berkmann.


david 02.11.08 at 8:13 pm

Throughout the following nine years I did nothing but roam about the world, trying to be a spectator rather than an actor in all the comedies that are played out there. Reflecting especially upon the points in every subject which might make it suspect and give occasion for us to make mistakes, I kept uprooting from my mind any errors that might previously have slipped into it. In doing this I was not copying the sceptics, who doubt only for the sake of doubting and pretend to be always undecided; on the contrary, my whole aim was to reach certainty–to cast aside the loose earth and sand so as to come upon rock or clay.

Descartes’ Discourse on the Method (in vol. 2 of the CSM edition).


Jacob Christensen 02.11.08 at 8:19 pm

I’m procrastinating while preparing a course, so the nearest book was Jan Petersson Prioriteringar och processer inom socialtjänsten (that would be Priorities and processes in local social administration).

Translated into English:

You may note that the situation in Helsingborg is quite the opposite of the one in Gävle. I Helsingborg both groups agree that cooperation is the most usual but at the same time civil servants hold that their initiatives/ideas are more influential than the politicians while politicians are of the opposite opinion.

Divided loyalties

The influence politicians and civil servants respectively have over decisions depend on the administrative level.

Ain’t that some cliffhanger?


SamChevre 02.11.08 at 8:19 pm

The IRR is calculated using a trial-and-error process where we make an initial guess and then reiteratively try successive values informed by how close we were to the solution in the last try until we solve the problem. Techniques have been developed to perform the iteration efficiently and converge on a solution quickly. The following sheet shows the calculation of the IRR using the Excel Solver utility.

Fabozzi, The Handbook of Fixed Income Securities

I cheated slightly by grabbing a book off my shelf, rather than the one that supports my monitor at a comfortable height.


Garrigus Carraig 02.11.08 at 8:37 pm

The architect Hafeez Contractor, who makes blocks of flats in the shapes of seashells, mushrooms, and in one case, a phallus, has the ear of the civic authorities and now wants to “reclaim” yet more land from the western sea: 486 acres more. But the sea continually challenges the claim’s validity. Water takes its revenge on our buildings; it corrodes the exteriors, makes the potato chips and the pappadams soggy, enters our walls, and leaks through our ceilings.

From Maximum City by Suketu Mehta.


The Modesto Kid 02.11.08 at 9:03 pm

Debugging with GDB: The GNU Source-Level Debugger

The most frequent case is in referring to static variables in other source files (see Section 8.2 [Program variables], page 70). File names are recorded in object files as debugging symbols, but GDB would ordinarily parse a typical file name, like ‘foo.c’, as the three words ‘foo’ ‘.’ ‘c’. To allow GDB to recognize ‘foo.c’ as a single symbol, enclose it in single quotes; for example:

p ‘foo.c’::x

looks up the value of x in the scope of the file ‘foo.c’.


The Modesto Kid 02.11.08 at 9:06 pm

God, I’m boring

Me too! w00t!


magistra 02.11.08 at 10:43 pm

The Vandals were hard-pressed in their war against the Franks, their king Godigisel was killed and about twenty-thousand of their front-line troops had been slaughtered, so that, if the army of the Alani had not come to their rescue in time, the entire nation of Vandals would have been wiped out.

It is an extraordinary thing that, although he tells us about the kings of these various peoples, including the Franks, when he describes how Constantine, who had become a tyrant, summoned his son Constans to come from Spain to meet him, he goes on:

The tyrant Constantine summoned his son Constans, who was also a tyrant from Spain, so that they might confer together about affairs of state. As a result Constans left his wife and the administration of his court in Saragossa, entrusted all his interests in Spain to Gerontius and hurried to meet his father by forced marches.

Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks (trans Lewis Thorpe), (Penguin, 1974), quoting the Roman historian Renatus Profuturus Frigeridus.


Down and Out of Sài Gòn 02.11.08 at 11:28 pm

“Must be able to read (or write) files in some format”
“Must control some piece of hardware
User interface elements must conform to some UI style standard

That was taken from Karl E. Weigers – “Software Requirements” (2nd edition). The three sentences are meant to be bullet points, and the boldface is in lieu of angle brackets.


Sarapen 02.12.08 at 12:33 am

Juan es _____ Carlo.
Juan es _____ Maria.
Juan es el _______ de todos.

From “¿Cómo se dice…?” (6th Ed.), the answers are “más bajo que”, “más bajo que”, and “chico más bajo”, respectively. Poor Juan.


bert 02.12.08 at 12:35 am

I have to say I’m having a tough time spotting the “fun” here.

While I carry on looking, can I clear something up? Is it actually okay to tag oneself with something like this, in the absence of a tag from elsewhere? I don’t mean to be at all rude, Eszter, but isn’t it in fact the slightest bit pitiable?

[Ed: Actually, what’s pitiable is posting such comments anonymously. Or wait, is it just pure cowardly?]

t’s ntrl pssbl v mssd th pnt, nd f s I d plgs. Bt cn w lk frwrd t hrng bt th vlntn crds y’ll b sndng yrslf n cple f dys’ tm?

Anyway, here:

Slither slither slither slither went the tongue, but the hand that was what she tried to concentrate on, the hand, since it has the entire terrain of her torso to explore and not just the otorhinolaryngological caverns – oh God, it was not just at the border where the flesh of the breast joins the pectoral sheath of the chest – no, the hand was cupping her entire right – Now! She must say ‘No, Hoyt’ and talk to him like a dog… The fingers went under the elastic of the panties moan moan moan moan moan went Hoyt as he slithered slithered slithered slithered and caress caress caress caress went the fingers until they must be only eighths of inches from the border of her public hair – what’s that! – Her panties were so wet down…there the fingers had definitely reached the outer stand of the field of pubic hair and would soon plunge into the wet mess that was waiting right…therethere

Tom Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons.
There must be at least three sentences in there somewhere.


perianwyr 02.12.08 at 1:48 am

“This man sins, for he giveth no worship to the gods that speak to our prophets by starlight when none heareth.”

And Uldoon perceived that the mind of a man is as a garden, and his thoughts are as the flowers, and the prophets of a man’s city are as many gardeners that seed and trim, and who have made in the garden paths both smooth and straight, and only along these paths is a man’s soul permitted to go lest the gardeners say, “This soul transgresseth.” And from the paths the gardeners weed out every flower that grows, and in the garden they cut off all flowers that grow tall, saying: “It is customary,” and “It is written,” and “this hath ever been,” or “that hath not been before.”


perianwyr 02.12.08 at 1:49 am

(it’s Lord Dunsany, “Beyond the Fields We Know”)


Zora 02.12.08 at 2:19 am [with macrons over the a and i]
n. Spine, spindle, rod, string, as used to thread things upon, as flowers for a lei, or candlenuts for a torch; long vine or runner, as of sweet potato. Cf. Kaili. Kali i’a, string of fish.

Hawaiian Dictionary, Pukui and Elbert


aa 02.12.08 at 2:58 am

On Oct. 27, 1828, at Malinniki, province of Tver, Pushkin wrote the famous dedication of his narrative poem Poltava, and it is thought that this dedication (sixteen iambic tetrameters rhymed abab) is addressed to Maria Volkonski:

    To you—but will the obscure Muse’s voice
    touch your ear?
    Will you, with your modest soul, understand
4  the aspiration of my heart?
    Or will the poet’s dedication,
    as formerly his love,
    in front of you without response
8  pass, unacknowledged, once again?
    Do recognize at least the measures
    that pleasing were to you of yore
    and think that in the days of separation
12 in my unstable fate,
    your woeful wilderness,
    the last sound of your words,
    are the one treasure, shrine,
    the one love of my soul.

     The draft and the fair copy are headed with the words, written in English, “I love this sweet name” (the heroine of Poltava is called Maria). One would like to see for oneself this draft (Cahier 2371. f. 70r), where a canceled variant of l. 13 is said to read (see Bondi, Acad 1948, V, p. 123):

Sibíiri hládnaya pustínya
Siberia’s cold wilderness …


Will 02.12.08 at 3:27 am

It is commonplace that psychotherapists are crazy, and that this is probably what led them to their jobs. “What still strikes me,” one woman I interviewed said, “is I’ll go to a party in New York, and inevitably the craziest person there is a psychiatrist. I mean the person who is literally doing childish, antisocial things, and making a fool of himself.

M. Neil Browne and Stuart Keeley, Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking, Sixth Edition.


Dan 02.12.08 at 6:34 am

“I would just take an idea and draw on it from a real experience I had had on the streets. I had to work on my mic skills to be more of a part of the group’s performance. And fortunately I stumbled onto the nasal thing.”

From Check the Technique: Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies by Brian Coleman. These sentences fall within a quotation of Louis Freese (B-Real of Cypress Hill).


bad Jim 02.12.08 at 9:09 am

By doubling up a very thin line, so that it is the same thickness as the one to which it is to be joined, it is possible to make what is referred to as an improved blood knot. In this case, the number of turns in the thinner line should be reduced, otherwise there will be twice as many as in the thicker one, and that is not necessary. (Although it may be difficult at first to work out the number of reductions, this can be done by trial and error.)

Knots, Geoffrey Budworth.


dr ngo 02.12.08 at 9:11 am

Rizal’s hopes for his country’s future were tremendous; but moving towards a hope is a practical matter, an affair of step by step. This he knew. He might be an idealist, but he was a practical one; and his immediate aims were modest, resting in his certain conviction that the Philippines were not by a long way ready to stand on their own, even in conjunction with a more developed country.

Austin Coates, Rizal: Philippine Nationalist and Martyr Hong Kong: OUP, 1968.


Nick 02.12.08 at 10:05 am

With respect to Bert at 12:35, I think this highlights the fact that age 123 is having a pretty rought time of it at the hands of authors and publishers alike. Isn’t it time that someone spoke up for the needs of page 123? Page 123 should be a place of daring action, incandescant metaphor and finely-honed, muscular prose, not the arid hypothesising and inane pretension it currently suffers. OK, page 123 can’t resonably expect to sport gems like ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man . ..’ (unless the editor’s miraculously managed to write an implausibly long introduction) or ‘Reader I married him.’ (unless someone’s abridged with extreme prejudice). But I think it’s time we started the Page 123 Support Group to promote better more interesting writing on page 123. Forget about the lush erotica of page 17, the metaphysical profundity of page 398 and the slickly choreographed action of appendix 1. Page 123 needs our help!


W. Kiernan 02.12.08 at 12:25 pm

Could I thus sail, and see, and thus await
Fearless for the power of thought, without thine aid? –

There is a sleepy dusk, an odorous shade
From some approaching wonder, and bhold
Those winged steeds, with snorting nostrils bold
Snuff at its faint extreme, and seem to tire,
Dying to embers from their native fire!

Modern Library Giant “John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley – Complete Poetical Works” Oddly this copy doesn’t have a publication date or copyright information in it, but it does have two page 123s; the second falls in the middle of “The Revolt of Islam”:

‘I was no longer mad, and yet methought
My breasts were swoln and change:- in every vein
The blood stood still one moment, while that thought
Was passing – with a gush of sickening pain


Grand Moff Texan 02.12.08 at 7:18 pm

Very late to the party, I see.

“The old poet did not fall into that last feeble error of despising truth, because it was so large and potent as to have been observed by others before him.

The fact that deð is disyllabic is no proof that it is plural doað – it may be doið singular: cf. 1058 for a close parallel. Changes of number are not to be so lightly accepted in Beowulf as Williams would have it [perhaps deð should be amended to doð].”


Joshua W. Burton 02.12.08 at 9:43 pm

“When t’ < t an antiparticle has been created by φ(x’), then absorbed by φ†(x’) at time t with a corresponding amplitude θ(t’ – t)φ†(t,x)φ(t’,x’). In both cases charge increases at x and decreases at x’ independently of the causal propagation. In the case t > t’, instead of speaking of an antiparticle at x’ subsequently absorbed at x, we may say that a hole has appeared at x’ to be filled at the later time t.”


Eric 02.13.08 at 1:00 am

“It has also been suggested that lower-power (FR I) radio sources might be related to BL Lac objects (Urry, Padovani, and Stickel 1991). This picture is consistent with the known properties of the two classes, their luminosity functions and space densities – BL Lac objects have weak emission lines and show little evidence for cosmological evolution, as with FR I sources. It is clear that the parent population of the OVVs must be different from that of the BL Lacs, and indeed the likely candidate is the FR II sources (e.g., Padovani and Urry 1992).”
From Bradley Peterson, Active Galactic Nuclei.


Alan 02.13.08 at 1:01 am

Among competing self-replicating molecules, therefore, the competitive advantage will go to those specific molecular structures that induce, not just their own replication, but the formation of structures that protect them against external predations, and formation of mechanisms that produce needed molecular parts by the chemical manipulation of environmental molecules that are unusable directly.

The cell is the triumphant example of this solution. It has an outer membrane to protect the intricate structures within, and complex metabolic pathways that process outside material into internal structures.


Martha Bridegam 02.13.08 at 7:00 am

“The next it appeared to be only what, in all likelihood, it was: a kind of retraction.
Zimbalist struggled for the next hour to understand that move, and for the strength to resist confiding to a ten-year-old whose universe was bounded by the study house, the shul, and the door to his mother’s kitchen, the sorrow and dark rapture of Zimbalist’s love for the dying widow, how some secret thirst of his own was quenched every time he dribbled cool water through her peeling lips.
They played through the remainder of their hour without further conversation…”

Michael Chabon, *The Yiddish Policemen’s Union*. The game in question is chess.


bert 02.13.08 at 11:50 am

Some rather severe editing at 12.35, Eszter.
Does the sentiment “It’s entirely possible I’ve missed the point, and if so I do apologise” really need to be disemvowelled?
All the best, and – as always – in my own name, Bert.


pilgrim 02.15.08 at 5:21 pm

The nearest book-ish object to hand, I now realise, was O’Reilly’s Dynamic HTML, the Definitive Guide – but I’m sorry, that doesn’t count as a book, in my book. So, from the nearest Proper Book to hand:

I slapped Dudley on the back, hard. “I think that Vice sergeant had it wrong. This is no homo hangout, is it, Mr Brubacker?”

from James Ellroy, Clandestine.

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