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Exclusive car buying service for CILIP members

Exciting news from CILIP:

An exclusive car buying service has been secured from Nexus Cars as the latest addition to Special Deals for CILIP Members, the package of affinity benefits that provide extra value for CILIP membership.

Nexus Cars can deliver the lowest cost cars for CILIP members via a free service. Prices delivered are guaranteed to be the lowest – with the backing of a 110% price guarantee. Full details are available on a special website set up for CILIP members at

Sign me up then.

Walk it

Simon Brunning points out a new service called Walk It which gives directions for pedestrians, much in the same manner as Google Maps does for cars. Mr Brunning gives a good overview of it, especially pointing out its fault in having no easy URL hackability. I must admit I still expected it to prefer a pedestrian option within reasonable limits, but no, it does the whole journey on foot, and gives helpful stats into the bargain. So, my trip home should take me a whisker over 12 hours walking fast, although I will burn off 3911 calories (approximately 17 Mars bars) in the process. The Google Maps equivalent is here (1 hour 24 minutes); the public transport version is 1 hour 20 minutes (using Transport Direct which doesn’t seem to have reusable URLs either).

And that wants to be called for a Javascript program something

Cowthello is getting a reasonable number of referrals from Liste von Reversi/Othello-Spielen online, a list, in German, of 146 othello/reversi games available online. The write up for Cowthello- listed under Tom, not under Cowthello, number 12 last time I checked- says the following:

Eine lustige Variante mit Kühen als Spielsteinen und dazu gar nicht so schlecht. Ich konnte sie nicht auf Anhieb schlagen und laut einer mitgelieferten Tabelle hat sich das Programm auch ganz wacker gegen andere Programme behauptet. Und das will für ein Javascript-Programm etwas heißen.

I used Babelfish to translate this and was going to edit it slightly to make the English more natural. It is, however, so charming as it stands that I left it:

A merry variant with cows as Spielsteinen and in addition not at all so badly. I could not strike it at first attempt and according to a provided table the program also completely more wacker against other programs maintained myself. And that wants to be called for a Javascript program something.

As sil has pointed out before, this does need updating and the alpha-beta nettle needs to be grasped. Just not today. See if you can strike it.

Author and title matches

A colleague who is shortly retiring has for a long time compiled a list of books whose authors match the titles. Unlike these (including Hole in the mattress by Mr Completely and the more archaic Lilburn Stript and Whipt by Colonel Birch), the ones my colleague has collected are real and can be confirmed by visiting the catalogue she was working on when she spotted most of them.

  • Bijker, Wieber E.
    Of bicycles, bakalites, and bulbs
  • Black, Uyless D.
    Mobile and wireless networks
  • Blitz, Jack.
    Electrical and magnetic methods of non-destructive testing
  • Caesar, Ann (ed.)
    The conquest of Rome
  • Fox, Michael W.
    Behaviour of wolves, dogs and related canids
  • Light, Wendy.
    Availability of sunshine
  • Herring, Peter J. (ed.)
    Light and life in the sea
  • Long, Andrew F.
    Measuring outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis
  • Mudrack, K.
    Biology of sewage treatment and water pollution control
  • Read, Richard
    The essence of communication theory
  • Speaks, Charles E.
    Introduction to sound
  • Townroe, Bernard Stephen.
    The slum problem
  • Vice, Sue (ed.)
    Beyond the pleasure dome
  • Walker, Eric.
    ABC of healthy travel

I have obviously simplified the citation. The author in some cases is one of several and, if the second or third, wouldn’t normally be cited as the main author; in one case the name given is an editor of an authored work and I haven’t mentioned the main author; &c. I don’t think this matters.

I am interested in trying to maintain this list and add to it. This is a hard topic to Google, although I did find a post about Author-title puns by Michael Hendry which had the following:

I used to think that Origen, On First Principles was the best-ever match of author to title, but have just run across the gloomy Sonnets de la Mort by the French Baroque poet Jean de Sponde.

Do suggest more if you know them. Please give evidence if you can: e.g. found on a particular catalogue, on Amazon, a bibliography (preferably on the web), etc. Do leave a comment (I don’t get many) or email me.

Excellent book title

I came across this excellent book title today: The techniques of sprang. The subtitle gives a little more away: Plaiting on stretched threads. Sprang is apparently an ancient fabric-making technique and is one of those words that is probably not nearly so funny after a slight acquaintance but which I think is excellent nonetheless. Incidentally the book is by Peter Collingwood.

Catalogue language frequencies

One of our systems librarians wanted to create a language filter for the library catalogue and asked me for a list of codes, to which I replied with the MARC21 language code list, while recognising that this isn’t really very useful. So, I offered to compile a list of common codes, thinking that this would be a matter of common sense and wouldn’t be very long. However, reality and a need to take into account politics, together with various specialist collections and institutes with special language biases, made the list rather long. I sorted the list by numbers of records we have, which meant we could apply an objective cut-off. It’s still difficult, as some of our prestige collections, such as Hebrew, which I would have included in any list without thinking, don’t turn up as often as I would have thought. On the flip side, you can tell we recently merged with a specialist Eastern European studies institute by the second most common language on the list, which I reproduce below, although with the actual numbers of records omitted:

  1. English
  2. Russian
  3. German
  4. French
  5. Italian
  6. Polish
  7. Dutch
  8. Spanish
  9. Czech
  10. Hungarian
  11. Swedish
  12. Latin
  13. Norwegian
  14. Danish
  15. Finnish
  16. Hebrew
  17. Yiddish
  18. Bulgarian
  19. Croatian
  20. Icelandic
  21. Romanian
  22. Slovak
  23. Ukrainian
  24. Serbian
  25. Estonian
  26. Lithuanian
  27. Portuguese
  28. Latvian
  29. Greek, Ancient
  30. Belarusian
  31. Macedonian
  32. Slovenian
  33. Albanian
  34. Greek, Modern
  35. Welsh
  36. Afrikaans
  37. Turkish
  38. Catalan
  39. English, Middle
  40. Chinese
  41. Arabic
  42. English, Old
  43. Moldovan

However, I will say that English was about 10 times more common than Russian, with the frequencies declining gracefully thereafter. Taking the Eastern European languages out of the list, I am still surprised by German coming second rather than French. I suspect the Second World War has made us largely forget the importance of German as a cultural and academic language, e.g. in literature, archaeology, medicine, and philosophy (and probably Easter European studies).

The list is also quite badly skewed by errors and idiosyncracies in coding in the 008 field. E.g., English (eng) as the default in templates is often left there by mistake, the 041 is rarely entered fully, and one language I left off the list, Faroese, is represented in our catalogue by two codes, one of them wrong. Nevertheless, I think it is interesting.

Roman around York

As sil reports, the Gentlemen’s Philosophical Society of Elvet visited York last weekend, visiting the Roman remains and seeking refreshment between academic endeavours. Our achievements included:

  • Finding our way there.
  • Figuring out what’s what at the Multangular Tower and the bits of wall adjoining said Tower with Multiple Angles*
  • Admiring Stuff associated with Constantine the Great (acclaimed Emperor at York) in the Yorkshire Museum.
  • Walking the city walls, which although not Roman in the main, are cool.
  • Visting the Minster, which has the remains of the Roman army HQ displayed in the undercroft.
  • Visting the Roman Bath Inn twice without once looking at the remains of an actual Roman Bath in the basement.**
  • Established why the Roman Empire collapsed. David Langford’s 210 reasons are merely the hollow echoes of the rapier wit and logic that we applied to the problem.***
  • Discovered that Fanshawe is pronounced Featherstonehaugh.

Some pictures I took which aren’t too blurry and don’t involve me are on Flickr.

* Although some problems still remain as to why a tower with ten angles is not called the Decangular Tower or similar. It is also arguable whether the angles differ in their extent, which might be another explanation. I could look it up.

** Although we did discuss the incident relating to the pub when A dispute between two ‘Roman soldiers’ in a 1st century bath house ended up in court when one man accused his rival of threatening to kill him with a replica helmet (from The Times).
*** And solved.