Archive for February, 2005

February 2nd, 2005


Off to Scotland on Thursday with the fencing school. We are not fencing the whole time. Only on Saturday for a couple of seminars and an open competition type thing. The rest of the time is my own to explore Edinburgh and Glasgow and watch rugby.

And buy books of course. I can’t be in a real city with real honest-to-goodness new and second hand bookshops not be expected to buy a couple of books. I promise I shall restrain myself.

Hey! its better than having to resort to Dan Brown Novels. Not that I’ll ever do that again.

February 1st, 2005


“Well, basically there are two sorts of opera,’ said Nanny, who also had the true witch’s ability to be confidently expert on the basis of no experience whatsoever. ‘There’s your heavy opera, where basically people sing foreign and it goes like “Oh oh oh, I am dyin’, oh, I am dyin’, oh, oh, oh, that’s what I’m doin’”, and there’s your light opera, where they sing in foreign and it basically goes “Beer! Beer! Beer! Beer! I like to drink lots of beer!”, although sometimes they drink champagne instead. That’s basically all of opera, reely.”

— (Terry Pratchett, Maskerade)

February 1st, 2005


This is quite funny. Especially some of the comments (from crooked timber)

Ask a Nineteenth-Century Whaling Expert

Posted by Ted

Since Crooked Timber’s first publication in 1953, “Ask a Nineteenth-Century Whaling Expert” has consistently been one of its most popular features. We are pleased to bring you the novelist Kenneth Gardner, author of Rich Man’s Coffin.

I’m baffled at the economics of nineteenth-century whaling. In Moby-Dick, Herman Melville says that a whaling expedition would be a success if a crew of 40 men captured the oil from 40 whales in 48 months. Each whale produced about 40-50 barrels of oil. Presumably this oil had to be cover the approximate costs of four years’ labor, plus the costs of operating the ship, plus a sizeable profit for the investors in these risky ventures.

How could whale-oil have been so valuable? I understand that it was scarce, that illumination is highly desirable, and apparently it smelled nice. But there were substitutes, weren’t there?

Ted B., Houston, TX

Dear Nineteenth-Century Whaling Expert:

My boyfriend is always pressuring me to “go all the way,” but I’m not sure I’m ready. I don’t want to disappoint him, but this seems like a big step. What should I do? – Perplexed in Phoenix

My latest column at “Whale Central Station” is up, exposing the leftist myth of finite whale supplies.

1. Whales breed. Therefore, the potential supply of whales is unlimited.