13 December 2007

Huffing Web 2.0: The "Web OS"

If you write a pile of AJAX and server code which fills our browsers with something that looks vaguely like a windowed desktop, congratulations on your innovation, and good luck rising to the top of the ever-growing pile of these. If your marketing people tell you to advertise this as a "Web OS" bop them on the head with a wiffle bat and tell them to try again. If you, the developer, are tempted to call it a Web OS, change professions this instant.

A desktop-looking thingie running in a browser is just a GUI app. It's an operating system as much as my first cell phone's a Cray supercompter.

10 December 2007


It's amazing what you can find randomly opening a book! Yet another gem from the Greek proverbs book. Dan'll love this one, and Laudator may want to add this to his collection, as well (p. 447):

πρωκτὸς λουτροῦ περιγίνεται· ὅταν τις μὴ δύνηται ἀπονίψασθαι, ἀλλ’ ἡ κοιλία αὐτῷ ἐπιφέρηται· * * τῶν ἀνωφελῶν.

Τhe anus overwhelms the bath: whenever someone is not able to wash, but the feces accumulates on him. [ * * ] of worthless/harmful things/people.

The editors think there's text missing where the asterisks are.

The verb περιγίγνεται, which I am used to seeing in battle accounts, makes this proverb especially vivid for me.

There is an extensive footnote on this one which people with Latin and Greek both may find interesting. Several of the scholia seem to point to more precise, if somewhat contradictory, senses of the proverb:

παροιμιακὸν τοῦτο ἐπὶ τῶν ἐπὶ κακῷ τῷ ἑαυτῶν νικώντων· ἢ ἐπὶ τῶν ἀεὶ μολυνομένων καὶ βιαζομένων καθαίρεσθαι.

This proverb is about those conquering their own problems; or about those who constantly defile themselves and are forced to clean up.

Καλλίστρατος δέ φησι· παροιμία, πρωκτὸς λουτροῦ περιγνίνῃ, ἑπὶ τῶν βιαζομένων εἰς κακὸν ἑαυτούς· ὡς εἴ τις βιάζοιτο μὴ ἀποπλύνεσθαι.

Callistratus says, "a proverb, 'the anus overcomes the bath,' used about those compelled to do themselves ill, as if someone were forced to not wash."

There is a huge ambiguity in the first quote concerning the infinitive καθαίρεσθαι. The base sense is "cleanse, wash off" but it also has a specific medical sense, "purge, evacuate," which might include pharmacological aid (see the LSJ entry on καθαίρω).

Scholiastic Greek, even with the help of Dickey's book, is still often a puzzle, so I'll happily accept other suggestions for translation.

A Particular Proverb

I recently ran across an old collection of Greek Proverbs (Corpus Paroemiographorum Graecorum, Ernst von Leutsch, Friedrich Wilhelm Schneidewin, at the googleborg). It's great for random browsing. Most of the time the proverb is listed with with explanatory material, usually short but sometimes quite extensive. Some of them, however, are self explanatory, such as this one that comes in two variants:

οὐδὲν ἦν τἄλλα πάντα πλὴν χρυσός (p. 285)
It was all nothing else except gold.

The variant collected from Plutarch, however, is more interesting:

οὐδὲν ἦν ἄρα τὰ ἄλλα πλὴν ὁ χρυσός (p. 335)
It was nothing except the gold after all.

Both versions are appropriate to politics of all periods, but the second one is especially nice, demonstrating as it does a special use of ἄρα which indicates the new perception of a previously unrecognized truth. It frequently does this in the company of imperfects of εἶναι, as here. This use of ἄρα seems to have been fairly persistent. I cannot think of any Homeric examples, but Hesiod starts off his Works and Days with an example:

οὐκ ἄρα μοῦνον ἔην Ἐρίδων γένος, ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ γαῖαν       11
εἰσὶ δύω·

There wasn't only one race of Strife after all, but upon the earth
there are two.

Sadly, the index nominum didn't deem ἄρα worthy of indexing.

05 December 2007

Metrical Fanboys at the APA Annual Meeting

On a less cranky note than the previous post, I just finalized arrangements to attend the 2008 annual meeting of the American Philological Association. I'll be the balding guy with AOIDOI.ORG for the affiliation field of his name tag. Perhaps I'll do some conference blogging if I can get someone to lend me a laptop for a few days. I hope some of my non-commenting readership will stop me and say "hi" or "that December translation of Xenophon was disastrous" or something.

Those Pesky Single People

Do the pitying looks no longer properly motivate the future spinster? Do the condescending "we just want you to be happy"s no longer get suitably enthusiastic agreement from the creepy bachelor uncle? Does "be fruitful and multiply" not motivate your secular single friends? Well, now you have another way to intrude yourself into that single person's life and lay on the guilt: single people are unecological!