Lachlan passed away in January 2010.  As a memorial, this site remains as he left it.
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                   subjunctive     vs     imperfect subjunctive

Past Tense:     if this was the case      if this were the case
Present Tense:  if this is the case        if this be the case
                                          (present subjunctive)

         % values based on a 2000 calorie diet

Total Fat              Calories        2,000      2,500
Total Fat              less than       65g        80g
  Saturated Fat        less than       20g        25g     
Cholesterol            less than       300mg      300mg
Sodium                 less than       2,400mg    2,400mg
Total Carbohydrate                     300g       375g
  Dietry Fibre                         65g        80g
Protein                                50g        65g

         International Shoe Sizes

Aust/UK      6    7    8    9    10

USA          8    9   10   11    12
European    39   40   41   42    44

Metric(CM)  26   27   28   29    29 1/2


Size          16    18    20   22    24

Waist(cm)     85    90    95  100   105
Waist(in)     31.5 33.5  35.5 37.5  39.5

3) Remember that 'Tender Vittles' is a brand of catfood (in the USA).

Non-intuitive layouts of American supermarkets

At the Tappan, New York, USA Shopright, the shampoo is in Aisle 12, but the soap is in Aisle 3.

Examples where England has corrupted/changed the English language but where America has been true to the original.

To: "L. Cranswick" []
Date: Thu, 24 Oct 2002 10:18:33 +0100

It was "disk=disc".   "Fall=autumn" is similar.

Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2000 18:27:53 +0200
To: "L. Cranswick" []
Subject: Re: Nemo me impune lacessit??

Yo!... and one added fact...turns out to be the ancient motto of 
the Kings of Scotland.

Impune vs Impugn

Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2000 18:27:53 +0200
To: "L. Cranswick" []
Subject: Re: Nemo me impune lacessit??

Hi Lachlan,
           "Nemo me impune lacessit" literally means "No-one who attacks is
unpunished by me", ("me" being the royal "me", ie the state.) In modern
English I suppose we'd say that "No-one who wages war shall remain

The trick in translating this sentence is to realize that "me" is in the
ablative, so the meaning is "by me".  Impune is also tricky - it means
"unpunished" (as in "with impunity") and has nothing whatsoever to do with
"impugn" which means "to attack (the reputation of)" or something like
that, being related to pugno = "to fight" (as in "pugnacious", "pugilist"

Your spelling, alas, remains atrocious!

Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2000 18:27:53 +0200
To: "L. Cranswick" []
Subject: Re: Nemo me impune lacessit??

Yo!... and one added fact...turns out to be the ancient motto of 
the Kings of Scotland.

BAE Systems - Innovating for a safer world


"Just thinking of possible 18th century-style sub-titles again for one of your special issues of things, e.g. "A Gloss on blah blah, Being an honest Enquiry into the Necessary Concomitants of blah blah " etc. Just saw an excellent word in Bradley and Cracknell - a book I can barely understand one word of- there is in the reference secton a reference to Winter JG (1916) "The Prodromus of Nicolaus Steno's Dissertation concerning a body enclosed by process of nature within a solid". Prodromus - excellent word. Apparently means forerunner, like an early work, or introductory thing. I must produce a prodromus!"

Data Fitting Functions of the Malliase

Subject: Re: the function of the mallaise
To: (L. Cranswick)
Date: Fri, 7 Jun 2002 21:27:24 +0100 (BST)

> > > > there is bound to be scatter, but all would be well represented without
> > > > passing through all data points. The question is whether you fit the
> > > > data with an angelonian or a 3rd rank devil?
> > >
> > > Surely the ultimate function would pierce all data
> >
> > again it depends on your perspective. Either all data is given a fair
> > representation, or a weighting is given to represent your potential
> > in the armies of hades
> If the {XXXX} function is not up to scratch - what about
> the function of the Mallaise?  Is the {YYYY} function a sub
> function or super function of this?

Be careful. The {XXXX} function is very powerful, but usually
deals with individual data points at any one time. The futility
oscillator should always equal zero, whereas the mallaise
expansion series has never really been followed through to
its minimum. A {YYYY} function is usually refered to as the
jam doughnut radius, and defines the variable radius of an
undefinable surface.

Words to Know

"Lucubration" = a composition that smells of the lamp... a work composed by
candlelight... ie composed in the dead of night. Nice word.

samizdat: [Russ., lit., self published.] a
system by which manuscripts denied official
publication in the Soviet Union are circulated
clandestinely in typescript or in mimeograph
form, or are smuggled out for publication.

verisimilitude: [L. verisimilitudo, from verisimilis; see verisimilar]

  1. the appearance of being true or real
  2. something that has the mere apearance of being true or real

augury: n.; pl. auguries [L. augurium, divination from augur, an augur]

  1. the art or practice of foretelling events by signs or omens
    She knew by augury divine. - Swift
  2. that which forebodes; that from which a prediction is drawn; and omen; portent.
    Sad auguries of winter thence she drew. - Dryden
  3. a formal ceremonly conducted by an auger.

estop: v.t.; estopped (-topt'), pt., pp.; estopping,
ppr. [OFr. estoper; hyp. LL. stuppare, to stop with tow, cram, from L. stuppa, oakum, tow.]

  1. in law, to impede or bar by estoppel.
    A man shall always be estopped by his own
    deed, or not permitted to aver or prove
    anything in contradiction to what he has
    once solemnly avowed. - Blackstone
  2. originally, to stop up
  3. to bar; to stop; to obstruct; to prevent.

estoppage: n.; [from estop, and -age.] an estopping
or being estopped; stoppage.

estoppel: n.; [prob. from OFr. estoupail, stopper,
bung, from estoper]

  1. in law, the prevention of a person from
    making an affirmation or denial because it is
    contrary to a previous affirmation or denial
    that he has made.
  2. stoppage; prohibition.

faux pas: (fo pa) [Fr. from faux, false, and
pas a step.] a social blunder; a tactless act or
remark; a breach of good manners.

1.Walking about or from place to place; traveling on foot. MBR> 2.Peripatetic: Of or relating to the philosophy or teaching methods of Aristotle, who conducted discussions while walking about in the Lyceum of ancient Athens.

1.One who walks from place to place; an itinerant.
2.Peripatetic: A follower of the philosophy of Aristotle; an Aristotelian.

Middle English peripatetik, from Latin peripatticus, from Greek peripattikos, from peripatein, to walk about, or from peripatos, covered walk (where Aristotle allegedly lectured) : peri-, peri- + patein, to walk; see pent- in Indo-European Roots.

channer: v. (fo pa)
intr. To mutter, grumble, murmur, fret.
c1375 ? BARBOUR St. Agatha 123 Quhy channeris u My gret god
agane now? 1790 A. WILSON Poems 235 (Jam.) Ay channerin'
and daunerin' In eager search for cole! a1802 Ballad xi. in Child
Ballads III. lxxxia (1885) 239/2 The cock doth craw, the day doth daw,
The channerin worm doth chide.

Rarely used word "Personalty" (and the rarer used definition of personality) - the private property/personal belongings of a person - the word is used in this context in An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States" by Charles A. Beard (First Published 1913)

From the Oxford Dictionary

personalty: a. See quots. 1607, 1888. b. Personal goods, personal estate: see PERSONAL A. 6; also gen. personal belongings. c. = PERSONALITY 6c. rare.

a1481 LITTLETON Tenures §315 III. iv. (1516) Dvb, Pur ceo qe laccion est en le personalte & nemye en le realte. 1544 translation, Bycause that the accyon is in the parsonalte and nat in the realte. 1607 COWELL Interpr., Personalty (Personalitas), is an abstract of personall. The action is in the personalty,..that is to say, brought against the right person, or the person against whome in lawe it lieth. 1766 BLACKSTONE Comm. II. xxiv. 385 Our courts now regard a man's personalty in a light nearly, if not quite, equal to his realty: and have adopted a more enlarged and less technical mode of considering the one than the other. 1827 JARMAN J. J. Powell's Devises (ed. 3) II. 163 The intention to confine the word ‘estate’ to personalty was inferred by the subsequent specification. 1845 STEPHEN Comm. Laws Eng. (1874) I. 167 Things personal, (otherwise called personalty,) consist of goods, money, and all other moveables, and of such rights and profits as relate to moveables. 1865 Look Before You Leap I. 12 His gay jacket, his horses, and a few personalties. 1880 GLADSTONE Speech 15 Mar., You will find that the duties on personalties of half a million or one million are comparatively insignificant; and so it is in regard to rates. 1888 T. C. WILLIAMS in Law Quarterly Rev. IV. 405 Actions were said to be or to sound in the realty or in the personalty, according to the nature of the relief afforded therein. Next the terms, the realty, the personalty were applied to the things recoverable in real or personal actions respectively. Such things were then distinguished as real or personal things.

personality: Law. a. = PERSONALTY a. Obs. b. = PERSONALTY b; gen. personal belongings. rare.

1658 PHILLIPS, Personality, (a Law-Term) an abstract of personal, as the action is in the personalty [1661 BLOUNT personality; 1704 J. HARRIS Lex. Techn. I, Personality]; that is, brought against the right person. 1752 DODSON in Phil. Trans. XLVII. 334 The interest or dividends of many personalities in the stocks. 1858 HAWTHORNE Fr. and It. Note-Bks. II. 72 Michael Angelo's..old slippers, and whatever other of his closest personalities are to be shown.

b4k4: leet / l33t speak of the Japanese word 'baka.' Baka means
idiot or moron, which makes it quite enjoyable to use in a game
of Quake or Counterstrike against l33t speakers.

mad props / props ( propz ) (n)
Compliments; kudos; statements of thanks; respect; esteem. Mad props to
Jen for being such a positive, promotional force in the planning of that
party. [University of Washington, Seattle Central Community College,
Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, WA, 1998; New York University, New
York, NY; SUNY Fredonia, Fredonia, NY]

M-x: emacs-speak for "press the 'Meta' key and the 'x' key at the same time

One for the tourist guide book

When in Boston, Massachusetts (June 2002) - a number of people repetitively mentioned the idea that the USA is really divided into two countries - one is liberal, forward looking, non-gun loving, tolerant and progressive; the other is conservative, backward looking, gun loving, intolerant and unprogressive. The one you see depends on which parts of the USA you visit(?).

The facts on "thee" and "thou"

Date: Tue, 7 Nov 2000 18:30:16 +0100
To: "L. Cranswick" []
Subject: The facts on "thee" and "thou"

Hi Lachlan,
           this is from "The Story of Language" by C L Barber in a now
yellowing 1972 edition falling to bits on my shelves. I pick up the text
after a specimen of Old English by Aelfric talking to his pupils...

Notice that the pupils address their teacher as <thou> (singular) but the
teacher addresses them as <ye> (plural) because there are a number of them:
whereas today we use <you> in both cases. In Old English <thou> and <thee>
were singular, and <ye> and <you> plural, but in Middle English times the
custom arose of using <ye> and <you> as polite or deferential ways of
addressing a single person: by early modern times, <thou> and <thee> were
used mainly for addressing intimates, children, and inferiors, until they
dropped out of everyday speech (except in some local dialects) about 1700.
The difference between <ye> and <you> was the same as that between <he> and
<him>: <ye> was the nominative and <you> the accusative. This distinction
is still observed in the King Edward VI prayer book and the 1611 Bible :
for example, "And if any man say unto <you>, <ye> shall say, 'The Lord hath
need of them'." But in everyday speech at that period the two forms were
already being confused and used indiscrimately, and <ye> dropped out of use.

Old English 700-1066
Middle English 1100-1450 (ish)
Early Modern English 1450-1700

Conclusion: <thou> and <thee> for intimates seem to have arisen late, after
1100 but before 1400, and not in the pre-conquest period when there was
direct contact with German. So German <du> and English <thou> surprisingly
seem to have been separate developments in the two cultures. It would
therefore be interesting to know how old the German custom of calling
intimates <du> is!


Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2002 09:56:07 +0000
To: Lachlan Cranswick []
From: One with a better knowledge of English
Subject: Re: Getting ready for Australia - land of the knuckle draggers

Yo and two versions even within the King James Version(see below).

Re: you and thou:
"thou" was the second person nominative singular, and "you" was simply the
plural. In modern English "You" has taken over both roles. So in the
Authorized vesion you will always find "you" for a crowd.

"In Old English, generally, thou is the language of a lord to a servant,
of an equal to an equal, and expresses also companionship, love,
permission, defiance, scorn, threatening: whilst ye is the language of a
servant to a lord, and of compliment, and further expresses honor,
submission, or entreaty." --Skeat.


Matthew, chapter 6

24: No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love
    the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. 
    Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 
25: Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall
    eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. 
    Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 
26: Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap,
    nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly
    Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 
27: Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 
28: And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field,
    how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 
29: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not
    arrayed like one of these. 

Luke, chapter 12 

19: And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many
    years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 
20: But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required
    of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 
21: So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. 
22: And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no
    thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. 
23: The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. 
24: Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have
    storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? 
25: And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? 
26: If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye

    thought for the rest? 
27: Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and
    yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 

From Eric Schlosser's 'Fast Rood Nation', Penguin Books, 2002

"A savage servility slides by on grease - Robert Lowell"

From Page 269:

"Nobody in the United States is forced to buy fast food. The first step toward meaningful change is by far the easiest: stop buying it. The executives who run the fast food industry are not bad men. They are businessman. They will sell free-range, organic, grass-fed hamburgers if you demand it. They will sell whatever sells at a profit. The usefulness of the market, its effectiveness as a tool, cuts both ways. The real power of the American consumer has not yet been unleashed. The heads of Burger King, KFC, and McDonald's should feel daunted; they're outnumbered. There are three of them and almost three hundred million of you. A good boycott, a refusal to buy, can speak much louder than words. Sometimes the most irresistible force is the most mundane.

Pull open the glass door, feel the rush of cool air, walk inside, get in line, and look around you, look at the kids working in the kitchen, at the customers in their seats, at the ads for the latest toys, study the backlit color photographs above the counter, think about where the food came from, about how and where it was made, about what is set in motion by every single fast food purchase, the ripple effect near and far, think about it. Then place your order. Or turn and walk out the door. It's not too late. Even in this fast food nation, you can still have it your way."

From David Hackett Fischer's 'Historical Fallacies - Toward a Logic of Historical Thought', Harper Torchbooks, 1970, ISBN: 0-6-131545-1

Page 51:

The fallacy of the prevalent proof makes mass opinion into
a method of verification.  This practice has been discovered by cultural
anthropologists among such tribes as the Kuba, for whom history was
whatever the majority declared to be true. [Jan Vansina, Oral Tradition
(Chicago, 1965), pp. 104-5.]


Page 52:

A historian has written, for example, "While the role of dope in
damping social unrest in early industrial England has not been extensively
investigated, every historian of the period knows that it was common
practise at the time for working mothers to start the habit in the
cradle by dosing their hungry babies on laudanum ('mother's blessing,'
it was called)." [Theodore Roszak, "Capsules of Salvation," The Nation,
April 8, 1968, p. 470]  This statement is often made, and widely believed.
But it has never, to my knowledge, been established by empirical evidence.
The reader should note the hyperbole in the first sentence.  When
an historian asserts that "X has not been extensively investigated," he
sometimes means, "I have not investigated X at all."

A fact which every historian knows is not inherently more accurate
than a fact which every schoolboy knows.  Nevertheless, the fallacy of the
prevalent proof commonly takes this form - deference to the historio-
political majority.  It rarely appears in the form of an explicit deference
to popular opinion.  But implicitely, popular opinion exerts its power too.
A book much bigger than this one could be crowded with examples.  One
will surffice here, for the sake of illustration.  Every schoolboy knows,
and most schoolmasters, too, that Mussolini made the trains run on time.  But
did he?  Ashley Montagu observes that "there is little or no truth in it:
people who lived in Italy between the March on Rome (October 22,
1922) and the execution at Como (1945) will bear testimony to the fact
that Italian railroads remained as insouciant as ever with regard to time-
tables and actual shedules." [Ashley Montagu and Edward Darling, The Prevalence
of Nonsnese (New York, 1967) p.19.]  And yet, the myth still runs its rounds,
with a regularity that Il Duce was unable to bring to his railroads.

From David Hackett Fischer's 'Historical Fallacies - Toward a Logic of Historical Thought', Harper Torchbooks, 1970, ISBN: 0-6-131545-1

Page 53:

The fallacy of the possible proof consists in an attempt to 
demonstrate that a factual statement is true or false by establishing
the possibility of its truth or falsity.  "One of the great fallacies of
evidence," a logician has observed, "is the disposition to dwell on the actual
possibility of its being false; a possibility which must exist when it is not
demonstrative.  Counsel can bewilder juries in this way till they almost
doubt their own senses." [Augustus de Morgan, Formal Logic, 1847, p. 321.]

From David Hackett Fischer's 'Historical Fallacies - Toward a Logic of Historical Thought', Harper Torchbooks, 1970, ISBN: 0-6-131545-1

Page 97:

The fortuitous fallacy is committed by any scholar who abdicates
his arduous responsibility of rational selection and allows the 
task to be performed for him by time and accident.  There is madness in
this method, for it would reduce scholarship to mere sciolism - a smattering
of superficial nuggets of knowledge without point or plan or 

Nevertheless, at least one great popular historian has erected this 
method sans method into an avowed standard of selection.  He was Giles
Lytton Strachey (1880-1932), English author or Eminent Victorians
(1918), Queen Victoria (1921), Elizabeth and Essex (1928), and
many other volumes which may have reached a larger public than the
work of any other historian in his generation, except Winston Churchill.

Lytton Strachey began his best-remembered work, Eminent Victorians,
with the following assertion: "The history of the Victorian Age will
never be written: we know too much about it.  For ignorance is the first
requisite of the historian - ignorance, which simplifies and clarifies, which
selects and omits, with a placid perfection unattainable by the highest

But the inconvenient presence of excess knowledge did not dismay
Strachey.  On the apparent assumption that if ignorance does not exist
it can always be invented, he explored Victorian England as a small
boy plays blindman's bluff, covering his eyes and groping over strange
dark objects, and suddenly seizing upon familiar ones.

The carelsss impressionism of Strachey's method is best communicated
by his own imagery.  "It is not by the direct method of a scrupulous
narration that the explorer of the past can hope to depict that singular
epoch," he wrote.  "If he is wise, he will adopt a subtler strategy.  He will
fall upon the flank, or the rear, he will shoot a sudden revealing
searchlight into obscure recesses, hitherto undivined."  The metaphor
seems more than a little indelicate when we remember that it was
Florence Nightingale's flank which Strachey fell upon, with such unseemly,
and uncharacteristic, enthusiasm.

But in all seriousness, such a method is exceedingly ineffectual for
all but the most paltry of popularizing purposes.  The reader is diverted
by it, but so is the historian, from his difficult obligation to select factual
statements according to explicit criteria of significance and to tell truths
which are as clear and comprehensive as mortal intelligent will allow.
Any fool can write a readable history, if Strachey's method is all that
is required.  Any literary hack can popularize a complicated problem
by this technique, but hte nature of that problem cannot be communicated
accurately by it.  Such a method guarantees falsehood and gross distortion;
moreover, it prevents the author from knowing how false and distorted
his interpretation actually is.

Lytton Strachey was neither a fool nor a hack.  He possessed a rare 
and truely remarkable creative gift, and a splendid talent for exposition.
His characters seem so real that the reader things they must be true.  But
they are merely fantastic inventions.

Strachey's intuitions and expository gifts were perfectly compatible
with a better method of research, which would not have required more
labor than he actually performed.  By all accounts, he worked long and
hard in both research and writing.  But an improved method would have
taken a toll of Strachey's intentions in one important way.  It would have
confined him within limits with which he was apt to be more than a 
little impatient - the limits of truth.  It would have told him when he was
falsifying, and that was something which Strachey did not wish to hear. 
[For a different interpretation, cf. Michael Holroyd, Lytton Strachey,
A Critical Biography, 2 vols.  (New York, 1968), 2:261-305.]

From David Hackett Fischer's 'Historical Fallacies - Toward a Logic of Historical Thought', Harper Torchbooks, 1970, ISBN: 0-6-131545-1

Page 118:

Fallacies of statistical probability are numerous, and sometimes
very technical, and as yet rarely committed in historical scholarship.
We might, however, briefly note two of them.  The first is the
error of assuming the most probable distribution will occur, exactly,
in any given instance.  Abraham Kaplan writes,

  This point played a historic part in the Dreyfus trial, where the prosecution
  argued that Dreyfus' correspondance must be in code because of the frequency
  distribution of the letters of the alphabet contained in the correspondance
  deviated from what is "normal" for the French language.  The testimony
  of Poincare for the defense that the most probable distribution is highly
  improbable was not very convincing, in spite of its being correct.  (Possibly
  a contributing factor was that Poincare had identified himself on the stand
  as the greatest living expert on probability, a tactical error which he later
  justified to his friends by pointing out that he was under oath at the
  time.) [Abraham Kaplan, The Conduct of Inquiry (San Francisco, 1964), p. 224.]

From David Hackett Fischer's 'Historical Fallacies - Toward a Logic of Historical Thought', Harper Torchbooks, 1970, ISBN: 0-6-131545-1

Page 157:

The didactic fallacy is the attempt to extract specific "lessons"
from history, and to apply them literally as policies to present problems
without regard for intervening changes.

[text deleted]

Many pundits today are in the habit of misquoting Santayana's
epigram, "Those who cannot remember the past are comdemned to repeat
it." (George Santayana, The Life of Reason: Reason in Common Sense (New York
1905), p 284.)  Maybe some people have come to grief this way, but they are
probably fewer than those who have fallen into the opposite error.  "One
is apt to perish in politics from too much memory," Tocquevill wrote
somewhere, with equal truth and greater insight.

[text deleted]

Consider the case of Field Marshell Douglas Haig, a Scottish soldier
who was centrally responsible for the bloody shambles at Passchendaele
in 1917.  Some critics have attributed his costly blunders to sheer ignorance
and stupidity.  But this is not correct.  Haig's mistakes were errors
of intelligence and learning.  An able military historian has observed
that Haig

  was not an uneducated soldier.  Unlike so many cavalrymen of his day, he
  had studied war, and, strange to say, this was to be his undoing, because
  he was so unimaginative that he could not see that the tactics of the past
  were as dead as mutton.  We are told he held that the "role of cavalry
  on the battlefield will always go on increasing," and that he believed
  bullets had "little stopping power against the horse." (J.F.C.Fuller,
  Introduction to Leon Wolff, In Flanders Fields (New York, 1960), p. 9)

[text deleted]

The didactic fallacy is particularly dangerous to conservative
thought.  One case in point is an unusually intelligent, and much maligned,
American president, Herbert Hoover.  A historian, Herbert Feis, fairly
  President Hoover was not an insensitive or unhumane man; quite the
  contrary.  But he could not grasp or would not face the grim realities which
  called for deviation from principles and practices that he deemed essential
  to American greatness and freedom.  The policies and proposals which he
  expounded so earnestly might have served to end the depression, let us
  say, in the 1870's or 1880's, but not the ones by which the United States
  was then [after 1929] beset.  (Herbert Feis, 1933: Characters in Crisis 
  Boston, 1966, p. 7.)

The same sort of mistake is contained in the atomistic conservatism
of Barry Goldwater's Conscience of a Conservative.  Goldwater is an
intelligent and rational man, though the nature of his intellect and
rationality is so far removed from that of many American academicians
that they are only able to understand him by presuming some degree
of insanity.  He had made a very great rational error in his thought, in an
attempt to revive the precepts and principles that were functional in nine-
teenth-century America but which are today dysfunctional and eve
dangerous to the peace and prosperity of the world, for they ignore great
demographic, technological, social, and cultural changes.  Walter Bagehot
has truly written that "the whole history of civilisation is strewn with
creeds and institutions which were invaluable at first and deadly afterwards."

From David Hackett Fischer's 'Historical Fallacies - Toward a Logic of Historical Thought', Harper Torchbooks, 1970, ISBN: 0-6-131545-1

Page 155:

The genetic fallacy mistakes the becoming of a thing for the
thing which it has become. 

[text deleted]

The most hateful forms of the genetic fallacy are those which convert
a temporal sequence into an ethical system - history into morality.
This pernicious error was embedded in a movement called historicism,
which florished in Germany during the period 1790-1930 - a school
which stretched from the early work of Herder, Hegel, Schiller, and
Shelling to the later work of Troeltsch and Meinecke.  Historicism was
many things to many people, but in a general way its epistemology was
idealist, its politics were antidemocratic, its aesthetics were romantic
and its ethics were organised around the nasty idea that whatever is
becoming, is right.

[text deleted]

German historicism is dead, or dying, but the same ethical versions
of the genetic fallacy still appears in other forms.  It seems to find
a certain popularity in what the authors of 1066 and All That called
"Top Nations."  American historians such as Daniel Boorstin came close
to arguing in the 1950s that Die americanische Geschichte ist das
Weltgericht, and they were not alone in that assumption.  Something of
the fallacy of ethical historicism appears in the absurd and dangerous
idea that America's rise to power and prosperity is a measure of its
moral excellence - that the history of the Republic can be seen, in short,
as a system or morality.  How many of us have not, at some time, silently
slipped into this error?

From David Hackett Fischer's 'Historical Fallacies - Toward a Logic of Historical Thought', Harper Torchbooks, 1970, ISBN: 0-6-131545-1

Page 268:

The fallacy of figures  is a form of ambiguity which consists
in the abuse of figurative language, so that a reader cannot tell whether
or not a literal meaning is intended; or if so, what that meaning might
be.  There are many figures of speech which are commonly used in 
conventional discourse without a second thought.  Henry Peacham, in
The Garden of Eloquence (London, 1577), named and defined more
than two hundred of them, most of which are still often used, but
not always recognized by the user.

[text deleted]

Zeugma, the use of a single modifier for two terms, with one of
which it seems logically connected: "See Pan with flocks, with fruits
Pomona crowned."

If all this seems a little remote from the daily business of a historian,
consider the following common uses of hyperbole, in which the author is
often folled as well as his readers.  Historians have been known to write
"always" for "sometimes," and "sometimes" for "occasionally," and 
"occasionally" for "rarely," and "rarely" for "once."  In historical writing
"certainly" sometimes means "probably," and "probably" means "possibly,"
and "possibly" means "conceivably."

Similary the phrase, "It needs no comment" should sometimes
be translated as "I do not know what comment it needs."  When a historian
writes, "It is unknown," he might mean "It is unknown to me,"
or "I don't know," or even "I won't tell."  The expression "in fact" some-
times means merely " in my opinion."  And the phrases "doubtless" or
"undoubtedly," or "beyond the shadow of a doubt" sometimes really
should be read, "An element of doubt exists which I, the author, shall

Another familiar variation on this melancholy theme is the tendency
to convert the verdict of a historian into "the verdict of history."
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., seems to be habitually attached to this ugly
usages.  And when he writes, in the same volume, "And so Landon passed
into history" he means, "I', finished with Alf for a while."

Another figure of the similar sort is the hyperbole "every schoolboy
knows."  If any schoolboy knew all the things which Macaulay believed
that every schoolboy knows, then that omniscient child might be awarded
a university degree, honoris causa.  "Every schoolboy knows . . . who
strangled Atahualpa," Macaulay wrote.  I doubt that any modern schoolboy
outside Peru even knowns who Atahualpa was, much less how
he died.  Maybe things were different when Prescott was popular, and
there were not so many strangulations to remember.  But generally
speaking, the phrase "every schoolboy knows" means "some very
learned scholars have forgotten, or failed to emphasize sufficiently,
the fact that."

From David Hackett Fischer's 'Historical Fallacies - Toward a Logic of Historical Thought', Harper Torchbooks, 1970, ISBN: 0-6-131545-1

Page 282:

Nay, Sir, argument is argument.  You cannot help paying
regard to their arguments if they are good.  If it were testimony,
you might disregard it . . . . Testimony is like an
arrow shot from a long bow; the force of it depends on the
strength of the hand that draws it.  Argument is like an arrow
show from a cross bow, which has equal force thought shot
by a child.
           -  Samuel Johnson

From David Hackett Fischer's 'Historical Fallacies - Toward a Logic of Historical Thought', Harper Torchbooks, 1970, ISBN: 0-6-131545-1

Page 797:

The fallacy of argument ad antiquitam is an illegitimate
appeal to ages past in order to justify acts present or future.  Jeremy
Bentham called it the "Chinese argument" is his Handbook of Political
Fallacies, which is both inaccurate and unfair in its implication that
this fallacy is a logical disorder to which orientals are espeically susceptible.
Bentham's own hilarious examples suggest that an arguement ad
antiquitam has perhaps been brought to its highest level of refinement by
lily-white Anglo-Saxon gentlemen on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
Constitutional law in both England and America might be conceived as
one prolonged and preposterous argument to antiquity by inscrutable
occidentals in flowing judicial robes.  "Men love old truths," said
Billy Herndon, as he traveled the ciruit in frontier Illinois, and they
love old errors, too.  There is scarcely a corner of the world in which men
do not, in some degree, bow down before absurdities inherited from
their ancestors.

From John Kenneth Galbraith's, "American Capitalism, the Concept of Countervailing Power"; first published 1952, (1970 reprint)

Page 116:

In the United States, in recent times, for most people the biological
minimums of food, clothing, and even shelter have been
covered as a matter of course.  By comparison, the further 
wants are comparatively unimportant.  Economists, none the
less, have stuck firmly to their conviction that anything that
denies the community additional goods or services, however
casual their significance, is the greatest of sins.  They have
brought the mentality of nineteenth-century povery to the
analysis of twentieth-century opulence.

The result is an ineffecient deployment of the economist's
own resources.  He is excessively preoccupied with goods qua
goods; in his preoccupation with goods he has not paused to
reflect on the relative unimportance of the goods with which he
is preocupied.  He worries far too much about partially monopolized
prices or excessive advertising and selling costs for
tobacco, liquor, chocolates, automobiles, and soap in a land
which is already suffering from nicotine poisoning and 
alcoholism, which is nutritionally gorged with sugar, which is
filling its hospitals and cemeteries with those who have been
maimed or murdered on its highways, and which is dangerously
neurotic about normal bodily odours.

From John Kenneth Galbraith's, "American Capitalism, the Concept of Countervailing Power"; first published 1952, (1970 reprint)

Page 120:

Wisdom in economic policy it not to be deplored.  But one of
the profound sources of American strength has been the margin
for error provided by our well-being.  In the United
Kingdom, especially in modern times, there has been little
latitude for mistakes.  Government management of economic
affairs has had, accordingly, to be far more precise than it has
ever been with us.  An average Congress occupying the House of
Commons and functioning in accustomed fashion would,
on numerous recent occasions, have brought about a fairly
prompt liquidation of what remains of the British Empire.

From John Kenneth Galbraith's, "American Capitalism, the Concept of Countervailing Power"; first published 1952, (1970 reprint)

Page 186:

. . . . If for administrative 
reasons government, having centralized decision, must then
put the decision-making outside the reach of public opinion
and pressures, it has abandoned the very job it set out 
to perform.

Because the debate over socialism and planning has turned
so heavily on such economic considerations as incentives and
possibilities of accounting and pricing, these administrative
considerations have been largely overlooked.  Yet, as noted,
there is every indication that in our time they are decisive.  If,
as here argued, any substantial degree of central authority over
production decisions is administratively impossible in a community
with a high, variegated, and variform standard of living, 
then the corollary is that such planning may be entirely
feasible in a community with a fairly primative standard of
living.  Centralized decision would become administratively
possible where production is confined to a relatively small
number of relatively standard products.  Checking once more
with experience, one finds it is communities with low and 
simple standard of living - Russia, Eastern Europe, and now
China - that have turned (or been turned) to socialism.  The
advanced industrial countries, by contrast, have not done so
even where they have an ideological commitment to socialism.
There is a popular cliche, deeply beloved by conservatives,
that socialism and communism are the cause of a low
standard of living.  It is much more nearly accurate to say
that a low and simple standard of living makes socialism and
communism feasible.

The Zen of Volvo (in the fine print between repairing them)

From: Someone in Oz
Subject: RE: Demotivating RE: The evil that is Volvo
Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2002 09:48:17 +1100

Hi Lachlan,

XXX's going to have a look at what the Volvo may need in the next few days.
He said he'll try and get the transmission jollied up a bit (by a real live
mechanic who'll check stuff like brakes).  I think the brakes are OK,
though.  Volvos are generally very good at stopping - not so flash at
going...  We're trying to sell it at the moment so we were going to look at
what it needed anyway.

See ya,

Helpful Comments for Reviewing Manuscripts you know Nothing About

Paragraphing and references need work

There is nothing new in this work.

Thomas the Trolley Drama at CSIRO Australia: January 2001

Sent:	Wednesday, 17 January 2001 17:47
To:	Minerals Clayton Staff
Subject:	Thomas the Trolley

Hello everyone,

The story so far:

* Thomas the Trolley serves on the Port Melbourne site for over 25 years as
  an instrument trolley

* Awarded Stocktaking Stripes (AP16227N/MC2964) for distinguished service
   (early 1997)

* Moves into semi-retirement at new Clayton Villa Labs (mid-1997). Normally
   resides in  Lab F17 Bldg 126, but has occasional outside duties

* Goes missing late 2000/early 2001 (apparently)

* Nominated for admission to Portable & Attractive Register (mid-January

* Owners remain distraught (well, upset)

We would be grateful if you would check your labs etc for a lonely, small
(oldish, chrome) lab trolley.

All replies (in confidence) to either Eric or Rex.



Sent:	Thursday, 18 January 2001 15:03
To:	Minerals Clayton Staff
Subject:	Thomas the Trolley has been found!

Hello everyone,

Yes, the story has had a happy ending. I'd like to thank so many people
for showing their genuine concern as I was searching the site. We had
several sightings of Thomas,  including on a Queensland beach and in the
DMT area (masquerading as a tea trolley). However, it now appears that,
sometime before Christmas, Thomas wandered into a dim dark corner of the
Clayton site and become hopelessly lost. Thomas sends his best wishes to
everyone and is now happily installed back in Lab F17 Bldg 126. By the
way, he likes visitors.



From The Etherial Being

From:    The Etherial Being
To:      Cranswick, Lachlan - Lowly Gerbil
Subject: Nanoshite administrator activities

Dear Lachlan,
When you finally get home tonight please do not waste time by

*       frivoulously surfing the web
*       making cups of tea
*       preparing rounds of toast
*       yawning
*       stretching
*       downloading movies
*       answering futile and frivoulous emails
*       working on curling club activities
*       thinking about yachting
*       cycling - cars are faster about moving you from a to b

Your focus should only be on your work, and I would prefer it if you
could lengthen the official time of day to 25 hours while simultaneously
shortening the night during which you are totally unproductively
sleeping with your eyes closed. Incidentally, the definition of month is
now 45 days and you monthly pay remains the same
Thank you
The Etherial Being

More Inspiration from The Etherial Being

From:    The Etherial Being
To:      Cranswick, Lachlan - Lowly Gerbil
Subject: a modern country

Ye gods, Statistics Canada has just removed lard and mutton from its basket
of goods that it bases household inflation on, which apparently it has
monitored the cost of for 92 years. They'll be taking powdered wigs out of
the index next..


(After being queried by crude Melbournian types if this was common behaviour in London?)

Main Entry: frot.tage
Pronunciation: fro-'täzh
Function: noun
Etymology: French, from frotter to rub
Date: 1935
: the technique of creating a design by rubbing (as with a pencil) over an
object placed underneath the paper; also : a composition so made

The Futility that is Melbourne Footy Tipping

Mike's Melbourne Footy Tipping Report (early May 2000)

Date: Wed, 03 May 2000 09:29:49 +1000 
Subject: Well, there it is...

Dear Tippers,

"The game is done! I've won! I've won!"
Quoth she, and whistles thrice.

These words, uttered by "The Night-Mare, Life-in-Death", in Coleridge's 
immortal "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" partially describe our 
current situation.  Partially because indeed, our Game is Done!  
And also partially, because we have definitely NOT won.

The Tigers performed completely as expected on the weekend; that is, 
they produced a result that has no bearing on current form, and we 
lost one tip there.  The Pies, on the other hand, look to be regaining 
the form they showed last year, and in Melbourne, went down the The 
MUA (or Freo as some call them) and we lost the final two tips there.

Oh dear!

There will no doubt be another round of the Tontine shortly, so please 
let me know if your interested in persisting.

For a more complete description of our distaster, try

Spud (who thinks retirement looks good at this stage)

More Melbourne Footy Tipping Futility

Mike's Melbourne Footy Tipping Report (early April 2001)

Subject: Good news
Date: Tue, 10 Apr 2001 10:04:35 +1000

I bring news from the front.

Mafeking has been relieved, but the REALLY important news is that we have an
extra tip in the Tontine.  In a benevolant mood, the organiser, Peter Hille,
decided to award two extra tips for each ten signed up, not one as was
originally suggested.  As we had eleven definite starters we were therefore
given thirteen tips.  So, we now have eleven left, not ten.

A few others were skinned by the upsets on the weekend too.
Total number of participants 302 @ $10 per head less 5% for administrative
costs leaves a prize pool of $2850. 
Number of participants remaining after round 2 is 272. 

Libba's a Dead Dog!


The Quick and Painless Death that is Melbourne Footy Tipping

From: "Mike (Minerals, Clayton)" 
Subject: RE: All gone!
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001 11:50:10 +1000

sometimes get that!
The other thing I need to get is money!  
Hope you enjoyed it all.
    -----Original Message-----
From: Peacock (Minerals, Clayton) 
Sent: Tuesday, 17 April 2001 11:32
To: Bob (Minerals, Clayton); Mike (Minerals, Clayton);
Lauchlan; McCallum ; Bernard (Minerals, Clayton); Rogers
(Minerals, Clayton); Short (Minerals, CSIRO)
Subject: All gone!

Well Punters,
On my estimations, it seems we are out of the race.
One day holding the reins and I blew it.
Bl....y Essendon and Geeeeeelong.

From: "Mike (Minerals, Clayton)"
Subject: RE: All gone!
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001 12:07:24 +1000

By request, the more poetical response follows...


"But Mousie, thou art no thy lane
In proving foresight may be vain
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain
For promis'd joy!"


(And a big thank you to Robbie B.)

From: "Mike (Minerals, Clayton)"
To: "'Lachlan Cranswick'" (
Subject: RE: The Results
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001 16:37:58 +1000

Thanks Lad.  You are a stalwart in this issue, given the distance that
intervenes.  (And you were the only one to ask for a poetical clarification,
a touch I find most enlightening.)

To follow on...
			...the reference may not be entirely apropos, but
the prose is nevertheless compelling, and it has been on my mind of late.
It refers to a lost past, which, in the circumstance, may be apt after all.

"The roving breezes come and go
On Kiley's Run,
The sleepy river murmurs low,
And far away one dimly sees
Beyond the stretch of forest trees --
Beyond the foothills dusk and dun --
The ranges steeping in the sun
On Kiley's Run.

'Tis many years since first I came
On Kiley's Run,
More years than I would care to name
Since I, a stripling, used to ride
For miles and miles at Kiley's side,
The while in stirring tones he told
The stories of the days of old
On Kiley's Run."

...and it goes on at

He's a worthwhile poet if one is happy with the ballad 
rather than a "finer" form.  He is of course Banjo Patterson.



An early August Message from Australia

Date: Fri, 11 Aug 2000 10:01:12 +1000
Subject: FW: GST

Greetings Lachlan,

As you may know, the government has implemented a 10% VAT called the GST.
I am forwarding a part of the legislation to you.  This must be one of 
the best examples of legalistic bullshit I have ever read.



> I suggest you read the GST legislation (chapter 4 ,division 165):
> It says:
> For the purposes of making a declaration under this Subdivision, the Commissioner may:
> (a)  treat a particular event that actually happened as not having happened; and
> (b)  treat a particular event that did not actually happen as having happened
>      and, if appropriate, treat the event as:
>       (i) having happened at a particular time; and
>       (ii) having involved particular action by a particular entity; and
> (c)  treat a particular event that actually happened as:
>       (i) having happened at a time different from the time it actually happened; or
>       (ii) having involved particular action by a particular entity (whether or 
>            not the event actually involved any action by that entity).

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