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Showing posts from June, 2015

Where does the word #hashtag come from?

Hashtag  is the new Oxford University Press "children's word of the year"  OUP analysed more than 120,421 short stories by children aged between five and 13 years old, submitted to the BBC's 500 Wordscompetition. source

What is a hashtag? Hashtags are the # symbols used on Twitter and other social media like Instagram and Facebook.

What does Grexit mean?

Newly fashionable term used to describe the (impending? inevitable?) departure of Greece from the Eurozone.  Greece would then be forced to introduce a new national currency, most like some variant on the former drachma.  

Theoretically this should not be a world-shaking event as Greece only represents around 2% of EU economic activity. International financial institutions  also have contingency plans to contain the fall-out from a Greek default. Some even argue that Grexit would be good for the Greek economy in the long term.

So what's the big deal?
The problem is that we can't predict with certainty the impact of Grexit on international financial stability. The danger is that it could lead to the kind of chaos that followed the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 . On the other hand, writing off Greek debt might tempt much larger economies (Spain, for example) to ask for the same treatment.   

This saga seems to have run forever but must have some sort of resolution at some poin…

What is Bloomsday? Who is Leopold Bloom?

June 16 is a special date for admirers of James Joyce. On this day in 1904 the Irish author had his first date with his future wife, Nora. He later chose the date as the one on which Leopold Bloom would carry out his twenty-four hour mock-odyssey in Ulysses (1922). 

Ulysses is renowned for the daunting challenge it poses readers (see here for a beginner's guide). It also weighs in at at close to a thousand pages in the paperback edition. 

Who is Leopold Bloom?
Leopold Bloom is a salesman and a middle-aged father of a teenage daughter, Milly. His only son, Rudy, died after only eleven days. Bloom is unswervingly devoted to his wife, Molly, but is aware that she is having an affair with the flashy Blazes Boylan. 

In crucial respects Bloom is an outsider in a very insular society.Though he has converted to Catholicism in order to marry Molly, he is never allowed to forget his Jewish origins. 

An unlikely hero?
Funny, kind, gentle, unfailingly polite in the most trying of circumstances, Leo…

What is Ulysses about? Is it worth reading?

One of the most radical innovations of Ulysses (1922) is that in conventional narrative terms very little happens. Over a single summer's day (June 16, 1904) we share the lives of three Dubliners: Stephen Dedalus  (a recently bereaved young graduate), Leopold Bloom (a middle-aged sales representative of Jewish origin) and Molly Bloom (unfaithful wife of Leopold and occasional singer). 

All the action takes place in and around Dublin.

How does it start?
Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him on the mild morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned:- Introibo ad altare Dei.Listen a  short reading from the BBC Radio 4 version here - Listen It is early in the morning. Twenty-two year-old Stephen Dedalus awakes in the Martello Tower, where he is temporarily living with a medical student, Buck Mulligan. An Englishman, Haynes, is also staying…