Orwell on Writing

A while back I quoted George Orwell on writing clearly. The link to that article is now broken – but the ABC’s Mark Colvin has taken a stab at some problems with modern English – and included Orwell’s tips in a handy list form… it’s worth repeating.

1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.


And thanks to Angela for the link.

Teens like Wikipedia too

If the 100 most read wikipedia articles of 2009 teach us anything it’s that teenage boys use the online encyclopedia just like teenage boys have always used dictionaries… to look up rude words. You’ll notice that various articles about sex and genitalia made it in.

Here’s the list.

Of course it also features dead celebrities, living politicians, and some movies.

The lights are on

In America the furthest point between two McDonalds restaurants is 145 miles by road. If you plotted every golden arch on a map it would look like this…

And we know this thanks to this guy, via Strange Maps.

Killer coffee

Coffee withdrawal headaches hurt. Mikey reports that ibuprofen will fix them

But you’ve got to wonder – if you’re getting coffee headaches are you at the stage where your addiction is harmful? Possibly. So just how much coffee can you drink before it kills you? This site can answer your query. And it’s not limited to coffee, any caffeinated beverage will do.

On the flipside

Have you been reading Tim and Amy’s blog (a misnomer if ever I’ve heard one… Tim has posted once). It’s pretty awesome. Like this post with a little map tool that lets you figure out where you’d end up if you were to drill a hole right through the earth.

If you were to do that, and you dropped a rock down the hole – would it get stuck in the middle or shoot out the other side? Ignoring all the effects that lava might have on the composition of the rock…

Here’s where you’d end up if you lived in Townsville. Somewhere off the coast of Mauritius.

A comic you can believe in

The question now – should I duck for cover? Wouldn’t want to go saying anything that the people binarily opposed to me from a philosophical standpoint may find offensive now would I…

From here.

Candid camera

Here’s another addition to the myriad passive aggressive signs posted for our viewing pleasure. A public service reminder not to document your misdemeanours on camera and leave it in a public place…

From here.

Downward mobility

How many mobiles have you owned? Me, I’ve had six (plus my two current iPhones). That’s a lot. But I didn’t really feel guilty until now…

Via here.

Join the (right) queue

A perennial frustration of mine is picking the wrong lane on the highway, or the wrong queue at the shopping centre. You make a choice only to realise, minutes later, that you’re stuck in the slow lane.

I can’t help you out with the highway scenario. It’s a mystery. But I can point you in the right direction for the shops – thanks to this Lifehacker post which links to this little mathematical analysis..

“When you add one person to the line, you’re adding 48 extra seconds to the line length (that’s “tender time” added to “other time”) without even considering the items in her cart. Meanwhile, an extra item only costs you an extra 2.8 seconds. Therefore, you’d rather add 17 more items to the line than one extra person!”

I don’t have to worry about this quite so much now that our local Woolies has a self service lane. I think people are scared of the technology, I haven’t had to queue for it yet.