What does it say about the state of science publishing when the paperback edition of a popular science book, appearing two years after the hardback edition with glowing blurbs, published by Oxford University Press, written by an actual physicist who is also an OBE, etc, etc, speaks of “Neils Bohr” at least three times in 70 pages?
One of the nicest things about Linux (and Open Source software in general) is that new versions often offer clear measurable improvements on the previous ones. And another is that this does not usually require abandoning whatever might have been worth keeping from other computer-ages. In particular, if one has very old software, there’s a good chance that one can still keep them working, even if they are written for a completely different operating system, through the wonders of emulation. In my case, this applies to Windows 3.1-era dictionary cdroms, and to Motorola 68000-era Mac software.
Recently, I had somewhat lapsed in performing the necessary tweaks to make these old programs work on my laptop (a decidedly modern 4-core Lenovo), but on upgrading Fedora, I decided to try again. It’s quite amazing that, through the wonders of Wine, I can enjoy again the Grand Robert de la Langue Française
(originally available for MS-DOS and Windows 3.1) as well as the American Heritage Dictionary
(though I use the O.E.D instead when I’m connected to the ETH network). The Grand Robert is the best anti-pedant tool I know against so-called défenseurs de la langue française; it usually reveals that their favorite anglicisms are perfectly French (e.g., opportunité, in the sense of “occasion, circumstance”, which goes back to 1355 in French, and is at least as French as Baudelaire…)
I’m even more impressed to be able to boot the equivalent of my old Mac SE30,
and thereby play with, or recover, the old files I used to work with during my PhD thesis and before. (In fact, the emulator boots in something like 1.5 seconds on my laptop, which is about a hundred times faster than it ever did in real life…) Afficionados will note the realistic 512 x 384 resolution of the screen.
… there came Jorge Luis Borges
as Google doodle.
By the way, people who have encountered many French mathematicians (say, in a conference) of a certain sharply defined age may have got the impression of finding themselves in a confusing self-referential Borgesian circle. The reason is that his book of short stories “Fictions” (Ficciones in Spanish) was assigned as one of the two texts during one year of the famous French classes préparatoires.
Strangely, the effect of the second book, a poetry collection of Francis Ponge, was much less obvious, though some highly refined friends of mine enjoyed it a lot; my own personal memory is restricted to the sad remark that it is rather a shame that the title of his poem La crevette dans tout ses états does not translate exactly to The startled shrimp, the (former) name of the night-club in which B. Wooster gets entangled with the awful majesty of the law in Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit.
On the other hand, the two hard drives of my computer at the time were called “Tlön” and “Uqbar”, and I dabbled in imitative short stories; I might as well put here a link to my favorite…
A few years ago, I read somewhere the following line
The baker can not (or does not?) testify to his own dough,
in a context suggesting strongly that it was a fairly classical quote (possibly of Talmudic origin?) but without more identification. Since Google does not provide much help in this case, does anyone recognize it? (A blank “Yes” is not a suitable answer).