If Dan Brown were a rapper he’d be on remand by now. Never mind.

Saturday 5 March 2005

AN extortionist who threatened to kill building workers unless they received a $50 million ransom from construction giant Multiplex used a 400-year-old code to communicate with the company. The Vigenere Code – made famous recently by best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code – was invented in 1586 and not broken until 1860.
The extortionist has been communicating with Multiplex via newspaper ads. It appears the extortionist, who threatened to kill crane drivers unless he was paid the ransom by Tuesday, made the company use the code to communicate with him.
The Daily Telegraph yesterday deciphered the message, which appeared as a public notice in The Weekend Australian on February 19.

The London Review of Books personal ad of the month, March 2005

Friday 4 March 2005

Illustrator sought for silly project concerning snails. snail99@hotmail.com
(OK, this was actually from the “Readers’ Requests” section immediately below, but in the LRB it cd easily count as a personal too.)

The London Review of Books personal ad of the month, February 2005

Monday 7 February 2005

Dancing on the table impresses no-one. Except my mother, but she’s in a home and not allowed to watch the news. Straight-laced guy with low aspirations thinks you’ll do. Box no. 02/09

Filler by Proxy VIII: Lost in Translation

Wednesday 12 January 2005

Are you the Pope? Are you not the Pope, but still over 1500 years old? Translation Express has your translation needs covered! Their team of experienced, qualified bilingual and multilingual native Latin speakers is waiting for your call….
If you require professional, high quality Latin to Latin translations and Latin to Latin translations or translations from other languages into Latin or from Latin into other languages, our Latin language translation services will help you achieve your global strategy.
Latin to Latin to Latin. All of Translation Express’ work is carefully proofread for errors. Latin Latin Latin. Excuse me, I think there’s a echo in here.
Judging by their use of the term ‘global strategy’, I guess their target demographic really is the Pope. Or Caesar.
Don’t ask them to do Harry Potter, it’s probably been done. Yeah, thought so.

Articlus stupidium

Wednesday 5 January 2005

Inspired by the British Museum’s publishing coup in printing The Tale of Peter Rabbit in hieroglyphs – the perfect tale for busy mummies who want to unwind with a nice story about bunnies after a hard day punching holes in the chests of character actors and overwhelming the world with an army of the undead – I am now working on translating Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix into cuneiform.
This is no easy task, even after successfully neogtiating the rights with J.K. Rowling’s publishers and several earthmoving contractors. There are the difficulties of finding equivalent terms relating to an anachronistic British boarding school that will make sense to the average Babylonian, how to translate all the cod Latin into an even more ancient context and, most of all, how to live with myself as a fully-grown adult ploughing through a children’s book only slightly shorter than the collected works of Jane Austen.
The new edition should hit the streets in time for next Christmas, and is expected to take up about 12,000 clay tablets. Customers are advised to pre-order to avoid disappointment, and to hire a truck to take it home. Please take care not to drop a page, or get it wet: tablets will not be sold separately. For vision-impaired Sumerians, a large print edition is in preparation.

Filler by Proxy VII: A square, a semi-circle, and an ellipse

Tuesday 4 January 2005

From the BBC: “Beatrix Potter’s classic children’s book The Tale of Peter Rabbit has been translated into ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs by the British Museum.”
Two choice quotes: the obvious…

“Beatrix Potter’s words sometimes do not readily fall into ancient Egyptian,” they wrote in the foreword.

and the not so obvious…

The “time seemed appropriate” for the hieroglyph version, due in April, translators said…

Update: Australia’s favourite books

Sunday 12 December 2004

A few days ago I favoured you with my thoughts on the ABC’s poll on Australia’s favourite books. Now there’s a discussion over at Crikey about what the hell happened. Two choice quotes:
In the SMH we are told there were 15,000 voters and 5,000 different book titles. An average of 3 votes per book.
I’d just thought I’d let you know, although it’s probably un-provable, that members of the My Favourite Book production staff went around the ABC getting staff to fill out votes. I personally voted twice and one staff member was asked to vote 10 times for A Fortunate Life so it would make it into an appropriate placing.
Are there lots of Falun Gong devotees working at the ABC?

Survey says: Australia irrelevant to Scientologists, Randroids

Wednesday 8 December 2004

The ABC’s published the results of its poll of Australia’s favourite books. It supposedly started out as a poll on the greatest books of the 20th century like everybody else was doing a few years ago, but it took this long for the idea to work its way through ABC ‘development’. I guess they figured it didn’t matter either way because no matter how they defined it some morons out there would just keep voting over and over for the Bible.
You can guess the results: a vast mass a people voting for the only book they’ve read (a high-school chestnut like To Kill a Mockingbird, or the Bible), spotty computer geeks (so much sci-fi it’s all over your screen!) and ballot-stuffing religious zombies. No surprises so far – same as every other dodgy book poll ever run in the whole world.
The one thing unexpected is the low-rent quality of said religious zombies: usually you can expect the top two places of the poll results to be taken over by a meaningless pissing contest between the glassy-eyed acolytes of Atlas Shrugged and Dianetics. This poll was evidently too piddly for any of the larger and more oganised cults to either notice, or care to stack. The best the ABC could attract was Falun Gong, who did wonders for their credibility by ensuring that everyone now honestly believes that Zhuan Falun is the 14th most popular book in Australia; so popular in fact, that the ABC website misspells it. And even that was beaten out by the literary oeuvre of Col Stringer, an obscure and self-proclaimed mouthpiece of god from Queensland (but you’d guessed that last bit already).
To add insult to injury, Peter Phelps’ magnum opus, Sex Without Madonna, didn’t make the list. Rigged!

Burning with procrastination

Friday 5 November 2004

“You have a down on life – it’s no good!”
“I am an artist.”
“Yes I’ve heard that before!”
-Wyndham Lewis, Tarr