Thud! What was that that just hit the ground like a limp sack of deflated ego?
Enter "loser dot com" in your address bar and see what comes up.
(For 21 years now, the owner of the domain, Brian Connelly, a South Carolina system analyst, has used it to imaginatively poke fun at whomever he cares to. Every now and then you can get a laugh by signing in to see who he's puncturing this week.)
How do you handle losing when you've said a bunch of really nasty things about losers? Kinda hoists you by your own comb-over, doesn't it?
Speaking of hoisting one's own petard...recently Todd Vorenkamp at B&H Photo's Explora wrote an exhaustive and thoroughly researched article about "bokeh." Todd said he contacted twenty lens manufacturers for their comments. I, for my part, did not know there were twenty lens manufacturers.
He kindly name-checked me, so I made a comment and replied to a few others.
In one of the responses I wrote, responding to a particularly screechy and semi-literate outburst, I had a little mean fun. I ridiculed the writer for his poor spelling and punctuation. It reminded me that I used to be good at the art of the deftly-turned insult, a pursuit to which I may return in my retirement. Made myself laugh, anyway.
Later, though, I realized that I had made word-salad of my own first sentence, misspelling a word and getting the syntax wrong! Ouch. Hoisted.
Years and years ago, I realized that this almost never fails. Every time you get on your high horse and ridicule someone else's grammar, chances are very good you'll make a stupid grammatical mistake in your own writing. Make fun of a typo, and you'll for sure make a typo. I decided, way back then, that it was nobler to refrain from indulging. It's a practical thing. You're never safe.
Todd and I decided to delete my reply rather than just correct it. It was funny, but it wasn't kind, so I don't mind that it's gone.
I had fun answering some other comments, though. One Explora reader said, "'Bokeh' is pronounced 'bouquet,' just like a bunch of flowers. Why not just use the French word?"
To which I responded:
Their are aunts on the alter and they eight the communion waivers and got into the whine! Quick, beet them with an acts! Give them several wax!
Where words are concerned, homonymity doth not equivalency imply!
More name checks
Reading up on the Pen F, I came across myself being name-checked again. (This is apparently going to be a good day for my own, decidedly ordinary-human-scaled ego.) It was in a lovely little blog piece by the late Harold Feinstein, who died last Summer, about the original Olympus Pen.
It's a nice piece, and worth reading in the context of the new Pen F. He does a nice job of explaining in practical terms the philosophy of the original.
(By the way, I hope you bought Harold's book when I recommended it. Look at the price of it now. Wow.)
And speaking of fun with words....
I was reading Bill Bryson's Notes From a Small Island the other day and, in a wonderful set-piece about English place-names, he mentioned a village called "Rime-Intrinseca." Turns out that was a typo, or a mistake—the village name is spelled "Ryme," not "Rime." Intrinseca, which was what made me curious enough to learn more, is evidently a Spanish word that relates to philosophy, somehow. Anyway, Ryme-Intrinseca is right down the road from Yetminster, a name which for some reason struck me as hilarious. Then, as I was reading the Wikipedia page about Yetminster, I learned that medieval Yetminster was well stocked with a variety of tradesman, which included a maltster....
The Maltster of Yetminster. Would that not be the perfect title for an English historical novel? Sounds like undiscovered Hardy. Hilary Mantel, where are you?
I searched for a place in England called "Notyetminster," but in vain.
Original contents copyright 2016 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
John Krumm: "I always wonder about those hugely inflated book prices on Amazon for some out of print titles. Are they actually moving copies? Maybe there are enough wealthy collectors out there who don't bother looking at a book until it's in the stratosphere. I still enjoy my signed copy bought during the Kickstarter campaign. Sits on the 'tall books' shelf next to my two Turnleys and my Bruce Davidson monster, Outside Inside, all TOP recommendations."
Mike replies: It really just has to do with the way books are sold. Many books sell in the "blockbuster" manner, with a huge surge of demand which quickly tails off to nothing. Photography books tend to be the opposite, with a small but steady demand. So when the book is in print, there's usually not enough demand to justify keeping it in print. But after it goes out of print, the demand for it doesn't diminish. So, relative to the demand, the supply goes from a condition of exaggerated abundance to a condition of exaggerated scarcity in a relatively short time.
In fact the demand for a photobook might even go up after it becomes unavailable, for the simple reason that lots of people are interested in many books and almost nobody buys all the books they want. When a photobook goes out of print it prompts people who wanted it into thinking, oh-oh, I'd better get a copy of that before it's too late! So there can be increased demand when there are just a few copies left here and there. That's what drives the price up so precipitously.
By the way I notice Outside Inside is still available new, which is pretty amazing. It will be interesting to track that the value of that one when it's all gone.
Alan Kett: "Mike: Your Maltster of Yetminster probably grew up in Once Brewed. Once Brewed is in the county of Northumberland, just south of the Roman Wall (a.k.a. Hadrian's Wall), about three miles from the booming metropolis of Haltwhistle. Fire up Google Maps if you think I jest....
"P.S. Oh yes, there's also Twice Brewed just a handful of miles down the road."
Kevin Purcell: "The phenomenon you write about was given the name Muphry's law (read that again, carefully) by John Bangsund. Muphry's law states: 'If you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written.' The name is a deliberate misspelling of Murphy's law.
"I think I got away with it...this time."
Mike replies: That second link is treasurable. Thanks for that.
Peter Croft (partial comment): "A coincidence of typos: The Guardian ran an article yesterday about an Australian company that sells globes of the Earth, with country names, etc. This company made an error, naming Palestine but leaving out Israel. But the Guardian’s caption under the photo was: “Sold by Australian stationary chain Typo.” How’s that for a tautology? A typo in a sentence about a typo by a company named Typo. Must be a record."
[The typo is that "stationary" means unmoving, whereas the word for letter-writing supplies is "stationery." Missed that my own self. —Ed.]
Richard: "I too have the Feinstein book from the Kickstarter campaign, with cover letter, signed in the book, and with signed postcard 'print' too. If I did not love it so much I might consider four figures for it!"
Paul Mc Cann: "There is a town in Ireland called 'Horse and Jockey.' The story goes that an English man asked Paddy where he was from. 'Horse and Jockey, sir.' The Englishman laughed and asked him where that was, and Paddy replied, 'not far from 'Two Mile Borris.'' Both genuine town names. But then everywhere has its share of weird place names."
Mike adds: Never mind the Indian names such as Peshtigo, Oconomowoc, Poy Sippi, Tichigan, Kewaunee, and Manitowoc, and my favorite, Wauwautosa (you know you're home when you hear someone say "'Tosa" with a strong Wisconsin accent); and French ones such as Prairie du Sac and Trempealeau. My former home State of Wisconsin also boasts the towns of Blueberry, Husher, Embarrass, Chili, Fence, Disco, and Herbster. And—the laziest naming job in the State, probably—the small country town of Rural. If your name is James and you're clumsy you might want to move to Jim Falls.
Our former summer home was nearest a town in Michigan called Alanson, so my cousin Ham had a T-shirt made up. The front said 'Where the hell is Alanson, Michigan?' and the back said, 'Right between Brutus and Ponshewaing." It is, too.
Dr Tom Bell: "I live on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon...in South Zeal...but more interestingly, an old friend...a psychologist...lived nearby in Inwardleigh...which seemed appropriate for a Jungian!!"