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Thought for the day - December 23, 2000

katlaughing 23 Dec 00 - 12:42 AM
Melani 23 Dec 00 - 02:23 AM
Little Neophyte 23 Dec 00 - 07:19 AM
Dave Swan 23 Dec 00 - 10:38 AM
Allan C. 23 Dec 00 - 10:57 AM
Allan C. 23 Dec 00 - 11:08 AM
Peter T. 23 Dec 00 - 11:36 AM
katlaughing 23 Dec 00 - 12:01 PM
Peter T. 23 Dec 00 - 12:35 PM
katlaughing 23 Dec 00 - 06:00 PM
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Subject: Thought for the day - December 23, 2000
From: katlaughing
Date: 23 Dec 00 - 12:42 AM

As amazed as I am at the Internet and what all goes into creating it, I am equally amazed at what I am learning from a book, The Professor and the Madman, which Sourdough recommended in another thread. It is about the making of the first Oxford English Dictionary, its editor, James Murray, and Dr. William Chester Minor, a criminally insane surgeon and murderer who contributed massive amounts of information for inclusion. He did so without Murray or anyone else knowing for almost twenty years that he was incarcerated at Broadmoor, the notorious asylum for the criminally insane in England.

It took 70 years to produce the completed project, although initial parts were published along the way. It took literally tens of thousands of volunteers spending untold hours reading books and newspapers and magazines from cover to cover while making handwritten notes on every word they read. It was a massive undertaking just in paper volume alone.

They had 1,029 pigeonholes built for slips of paper which had the well organised information about each word on them, sent in by the volunteers. They received an average of 1,000 slips per day, when the editor, Murray, really got the project going. Eventually they wound up with 414,825 precise definitions with complete etymology and several examples of different uses of each word, most being the very first known examples of each particular use and meaning for each word.

It is a fascinating book which focuses mostly on the two men and their long-distance relationship in creating such a work, with liberal amounts of explanation of what it entailed. Just incredible. A magificient undertaking which most people just take for granted these days.

Something to think about...kat


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Subject: RE: Thought for the day - December 23, 2000
From: Melani
Date: 23 Dec 00 - 02:23 AM

It occurs to me that running Mudcat is a pretty massive undertaking as well, and one that I hope we don't take for granted. The internet in general is pretty astonishing. I was thinking of you all today and how amazing it is to be able to communicate almost instantly with people in all corners of the world, and then reflecting on the actual physical distances involved, and how enormous the earth really is in that sense. Think how long it would take to walk from California to Maine, for example--but people in Maine will be reading this seconds after I post it, if they're still up this late. Truly a miracle.


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Subject: RE: Thought for the day - December 23, 2000
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 23 Dec 00 - 07:19 AM

Kat, it was such a different reality way back then. Those kinds of miraculous achievements seemed to fit the times.
It seems we have walked into a new age of reality. I figure the internet is kind of like a man-made brain connecting us all in the technical spirit of 'Oneness'.
God's way of working through technology.

Little Neo


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Subject: RE: Thought for the day - December 23, 2000
From: Dave Swan
Date: 23 Dec 00 - 10:38 AM

It's a great book, kat. I couldn't put it down, read it in a single sitting.

Like Melani, I enjoy the instantaneous nature of electronic communication, but nothing beats the feeling of taking a letter from the mailbox, reading the return address, looking at the postmark and stamp, and (good news or bad)wrestling open the envelope. That's an experience that people like Murray and Minor had as a commonplace.

Now where's my ink well......?


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Subject: RE: Thought for the day - December 23, 2000
From: Allan C.
Date: 23 Dec 00 - 10:57 AM

We often harken whistfully to tales of days long ago. W


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Subject: RE: Thought for the day - December 23, 2000
From: Allan C.
Date: 23 Dec 00 - 11:08 AM

Oops! Something weird is happening with my keyboard. A backspace deletes the entry in its entirety or at least a line or two. Then it reappears if I hit the backspace again. A few other odd things are happening as well. I don't know what is going on. Plus, I can't doublespace by hitting the Enter key. Darned new-fangled thing! A letter would be ten times easier to write! I was going to post about how hard a life our forebears had - almost anything they did was comparatively difficult. We don't think about that when we dream on days gone by.


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Subject: RE: Thought for the day - December 23, 2000
From: Peter T.
Date: 23 Dec 00 - 11:36 AM

If you think that book is good, try the dictionary some time! I am proud to say that an ancestor of mine, Richard Chenevix Trench, was one of the forces behind the Dictionary (doesn't get much notice in the Madman book), particularly on the use of etymologies (very radical for its time)! And my recently deceased uncle, bless his heart, contributed many new entries to the last pre-computerized part revision in the 1950's. He was not crazy, but pretty eccentric.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Thought for the day - December 23, 2000
From: katlaughing
Date: 23 Dec 00 - 12:01 PM

Peter! That is so kewl, I have often noticed that your ancestor's name in the book, as the French? part really stands out, for me. Equally kewl about your uncle! Now, might we assume you, yourself, have contributed, too?

Thanks, ya'll...Allan good luck with that new-fangled thing!**BG**

luvya'llkat


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Subject: RE: Thought for the day - December 23, 2000
From: Peter T.
Date: 23 Dec 00 - 12:35 PM

No, I never did. My uncle would occasionally produce his book of materials and correspondence with the OED and flourish it. He specialized in educational and mathematical terms ("Nothing goes out of date faster than educational jargon, or lasts longer than mathematical", he would say to me over the marmalade. He was a math teacher in the British school system). His idea of a good time was to do the Times crossword puzzle in ballpoint pen before getting up for breakfast.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Thought for the day - December 23, 2000
From: katlaughing
Date: 23 Dec 00 - 06:00 PM

Arrrgghhh! I do my crosswords in pen, but very carefully and the w/end ones are never completed! I hope his memorabilia has been archived or passed on to you or someone else who will appreciate it. Thanks, Peter.

katgluegun:-)


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