November 12th, 2003

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Litiginous

It really is time to get to work on changing the browser's homepage. Every item of news that comes up seems to incrementally raise my temperature. Is the English speaking world over that split infinitive issue yet? I tried placing that modifier in a number of other sentence positions, but it's there, slap bang in the middle of the infinitive, that it wants to go. I'm not convinced that the split infinitive thing isn't one more of those stupid Latinate grammatical rules that Oxford boffins tried to impose on the language. Professor, would you care to enlighten us on the history of infinitive splitting?

So, the ephemera that comes spinning my way is another American case of legal redress, namely the discovery of a condom in a bowl of chowder. To my mind, whatever the culinary strengths of the chowder, it's a style of food that shouts out pot luck to me. I wouldn't be too happy to discover that I was chewing on a preservative, but I wouldn't confuse it with a piece of squid either. I always imagine that chowder would just involve sweeping down the harbour front at the end of the working day. At least, that's the visual image the sound of the word brings to mind. Well not entirely, it involves vomiting simultaneously with the action of the broom. That's its association with the word chunder. Of course, I'm capable of swiftly establishing that the etymology of chowder is in fact from the French chaudière. And so the morning could swiftly pass, continuing these associations ever onward until it was time to retire from the world and sink into a discomforting dementia.

Chewing the said condom might well make me throw up, but aside from expecting for the meal to go uncharged and an apology from the restaurant, I wouldn't expect anything more, neither would I pursue the issue in the courts. Of course, these days the establishment isn't able to offer an apology, except in a very roundabout way, because they'd be fearful that would establish culpability. Just how did it get there? Who knows, I can't speak for non-UK seashores, but contraceptives are a fairly common lower form of jetsam, or is it flotsam, or perhaps neither... The fish probably ate the damn thing, or is it was swept up with various other lifeforms and placed into the cauldron. It's not the end of the world and doesn't require going to court. Ever since that somewhat apocryphal MacDo coffee incident, people in Britain have been laughing at the preposterous oversensitivity of the American public to everyday events. Well, we did for a while and then, like the American public, it became clear that the growth of a no-win-no-fee legal market offered the chance to get some reasonably sized legal settlements in, so you could give up work for a few years and gorge yourself on home-delivered pizza, ever hopeful that one slice might contain a piece of plastic, or spell out some Moorish death curse in the swirls of mozzarella. People now actively seek out broken pieces of paving to fall over. A man outside the window currently is trying to impale himself on an rubbish cart momentarily abandoned by the street cleaner.

Of course, the largest such outstanding legal settlement is due to the orange-clad prisoners of Guantanamo Bay. I suspect that one reason that they are forced to live in some curious, or more frankly sadistic, international loophole is not just that the authorities don't want the random and unproven nature of their arrests established in an independent court, it's also that the prisoners are savvy enough to know that they could sue the US into Third World debt if ever given the chance. Along with many other people, I was amazed to find out that the US had a base on Cuba. Shorely shome mishtake? Err, no. Wow, I thought. Things are really fucked up. Come on Fidel, put out that cigar and do something.

No matter the level of crime, and I have a severe ignorance and many doubts about what exactly these particular people are supposed to have done, this was a golden opportunity for America to express its achievements as a civilised nation. Seduce them rather than mentally and physically torture them. Fat chance. Dubya's coming to London next week. It won't be a friendly reception. I'd be happy to demonstrate on a number of specific issues, such as the legal situation of these prisoners, but I fear the day will turn very ugly indeed. Ugly and utterly impotent. Stand around listening to speakers I don't agree with, being sold newspapers that contain no identifiable news, attacking "American" businesses for no real reason. When Starbucks and such are filled with poor, cowering staff on minimum wage. There's nothing scarier than a hungry mob. Well, no, a phalanx of police horses charging down a street towards you is a fairly scary sight too. I'll spend the day in Chinatown, since nobody, whatever their political persuasion, will be able to establish any possible motivation for attacking a set of dim sum restaurants.

Of couse, that's produced a sufficently Pavlovian level of salvation, so out the door and off for breakfast.
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Gratitude needs to be extended to The Professor once more for his unfailing ability to both swiftly respond and to respond swiftly to queries. Rather in the manner of the Batman comic, a light is shone onto the London sky which reveals a symbol, err, which symbol, maybe a schwa. I'm sure I should be able to get the keyboard to cough up a schwa, but I don't know quite how to go about it. This might just work...

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Anyway, the schwa is projected and linguistic emergencies and transgressions are swiftly dealt with. Normality returns. Nobody knows who he is. Sometimes you can hear the rustle of a distant lab coat, or is that the distant rustle of a lab coat? Quick, commissioner, project the schwa! Here are more words of wisdom. Hang on, it's a comment and therefore already available for view. So, I'm thinking aloud here, why place it on the page proper? Well, people might not know it is there for a start. Mmm, there's a danger that by placing it on the page, a semantic loop of infinite self-reference could be created, or perhaps an infinite loop of self-referencing semanticism, or even just an extreme amount of verbiose inconsequential garbage. Gracious me, what is to be done... I'll just leave it there, along with a very just and proper defence of chowder by one our friends across the water.

Now, there is (or is it was?) something I intended to write, but it will have to wait until later as I'm just about to have a rehearsal.