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A new measure of modern speed

The following appears on the White House’s Digital Government Strategy page:

When a 5.9 earthquake hit near Richmond, Virginia on August 23rd, 2011, residents in New York City read about the quake on Twitter feeds 30 seconds before they experienced the quake themselves.

Create your own legendary character!

George Washington. Major Tom. Chuck Norris. Louis Gray. Steeelrod.

Five people whose stories have been embellished over the years.

People may not believe this, but George Washington was a man who put his pants on one leg at a time. But by the time Parson Weems was done with him, Washington was a saintly figure. Well, not entirely saintly – he did chop down that cherry tree, but he owned up to it. According to Weems.

Major Tom, unlike the others in this list, is a fictional character, originally created by David Bowie for the song “Space Oddity.” His story could have ended there, but Peter Schilling continued the story, and Shiny Toy Guns added a Lincoln automobile to the legend. Bowie himself elaborated on Major Tom’s story, adding twists worthy of Parson Weems. The man who once said “Planet earth is blue, and there’s nothing I can do” eventually became a junkie of whom people said, “to get things done, you’d better not mess with Major Tom.”

And you’d better not mess with Chuck Norris. A number of “facts” have emerged about the action star. Sample: “If two trains leave Chicago, one travelling at 70 mph and the other travelling at 90 mph, Chuck Norris will beat them both.” The “facts” concept has been extended to others – there is a FriendFeed room devoted to “facts” about blogger/product marketer Louis Gray. Here’s one: “Louis Gray: I started posting to FriendFeed on January 1st, 1 A.D. (733,651 days ago).”

Most of you have not heard of Steeelrod (with three e’s), and probably didn’t see my previous post about him. Rod Jeffries is (or was) a network center technician for Southwestern Bell who builds custom computers on the side. Some time ago he posted his own computer set-up (presumably he’s using a different setup today).

When Steeelrod isn’t making your phones work or building your computers, he’s been known to engage in an online game or two. I ran across him when he was actively playing Starfleet Commander. Steeelrod was much more powerful than any one member of our alliance, but we would occasionally coordinate an attack on him with some effect. At one point we found something Steeelrod had written for one of his other games – some type of memorable quote on war or something like that – and one of our alliance members threw it right back at him.

Ah, Steeelrod’s quotes. Steeelrod is long since gone from Starfleet Commander, but his quotes – or faux versions of his quotes – live on. I used a faux Steeelrod quote in a message to an opponent just recently. (Note: in this quote, I am giving away a Starfleet Commander tactical secret of my own. When communicating with foes in Starfleet Commander, I rarely use proper American English, because if I do, my opponent will figure out – well, the opponent will figure out that I’m American, and can use this knowledge to his/her advantage and attack me at 4:00 in the morning.) Anyway, here’s my latest contribution to the Steeelrod legend (in which I question why an opponent launched a slew of missiles at me, but didn’t launch enough to wipe me out):

Now that your collar is loosened, really over 50? For two?

But only 50, and not 100?

We think everyone in the galaxy 13 know the wise sayings of Steeelrod when he said that. “If you are going to drop nuclear bombs on twenty on the Alamo, and Alamo still live, either drop forty for the defeat or only the zero and not waste resource.”

Then Steeelrod say something about gnats in Texas.

But young kids today come to galaxy 13 and ignore Steeelrod all the time.

Have a good afternoon.

OK, it’s not on the same level with Parson Weems’ fabrications, but it will do.

P.S. Don’t forget about Dre.

Suffer thee to a nunnery

Language changes over time, as you would know if you were to go back time one hundred years and watch gay folk throw faggots on a bonfire. Yes, the meanings of words have changed over the last century.

But sometimes a change may not necessarily be what it seems to be.

Back in October 2006, Chris Meadows discussed a familiar quote from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in which Hamlet tells his mother Ophelia:

Get thee to a nunnery.

Now perhaps your high school English teacher told you what the phrase really meant. And since you were in high school, you might even have laughed a little bit when your teacher told you that Shakespeare was REALLY talking about a brothel. Maybe gruffalo was your teacher:

Look at how he treats Ophelia, basically accusing her of being a whore (this is what ‘get thee to a nunnery’ really means.)

But Chris Meadows dug a little more deeply into this. (He must have gone to Reed College.) And one of the sources that Meadows consulted was Random House. Among other things, Random House asserts:

In Hamlet, the “nunnery” exchange happens just after the “To be or not to be” speech. In the space of thirty lines, Hamlet tells Ophelia five times to go to a nunnery, in slightly different forms. While it is a matter of interpretation, an honest reading strongly suggests that Hamlet is using the literal sense here.

Shakespeare Online also addresses the issue.

Despite the use of “nunnery” as “house of ill repute” in Shakespearean England, there can be no question that Hamlet is referring to the standard definition of the word – a house of meditation for women who have devoted themselves to God. Only by entering a nunnery can Ophelia ensure that she will not procreate and become a breeder of sinners.

Chris Meadows begins and concludes his post by quoting from G.K. Chesterton:

Modern intelligence won’t accept anything on authority. But it will accept anything without authority.

Oh, and incidentally, the quote appears in “The Hole in the Wall,” not “The Bottomless Well” (as Meadows claims). Proving the point, I guess.

I’m on more solid ground with the appearance of the word “suffer” in the King James Version of the Bible (Matthew 19:14). While dictionaries did not exist in the 17th century, Webster’s 1828 Dictionary records the following alternate definition for the word “suffer”:

3. To allow; to permit; not to forbid or hinder. Will you suffer yourself to be insulted?
I suffer them to enter and possess.
Thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him. Lex.19.

The following etymology is also offered.

L. suffero; sub, under, and fero, to bear; as we say, to undergo.

So it is appropriate to say that if Hamlet suffered Ophelia to go to a nunnery, Hamlet’s fragile psyche would not be shocked by what Ophelia did there.

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