Posts tagged ‘convention’

In the Empah, the royal baby is 8 lb 3 oz, thank you


The Cambridges with their new daughter in her first public appearance; photograph from the Press Association.

I haven’t followed the news of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s new baby much, but I was interested to note that when Kensington Palace announced her weight, it was in Imperial only. None of this foreign metric rubbish in the Empah, thank you:

   I’m not complaining, since I still have weights and heights in Imperial in my head, being of that “transition generation” that was taught both at school. I still need to do mental arithmetic when the news tells me, ‘The suspect is 183 cm tall.’ I can tell you because of this Tweet, the royal baby and I weighed the same at birth; had they told us this in metric, I couldn’t have made the comparison.
   I am wondering if the choice not to cite the weight in metric was intentional. Judging by my feed, there are plenty of royal-watchers younger than me. Forget pounds and ounces, they might not even know who Gorbachev was. I occasionally refer to the old weights and get puzzled looks, so, outside of the United States, are they still that familiar to people?

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in culture, internet, media, UK | No Comments »

A whinge about whinging


I’ve seen this lament on a few more places now: why bother having a comment box?
   We’ve just had someone tell us at Lucire that there is no such person as Princess Catherine. Well done. We all know that technically there is no such person, if one is referring to the wife of Prince William, but was it worth a comment, when common usage overrides the technical aspects of heraldry for publications like ours? (How often did anyone see the Queen Mother referred to as the Princess Albert?) Am I meant to be impressed that someone possesses everyday knowledge, were we expected to succumb to the whinge, or does this simply highlight the writer’s intolerance?
   If in communicating, you create a problem, then you haven’t properly communicated. And in the communication business, Princess William could create a problem.
   Was the writer not alive when the European media insisted upon Lady Di right up until her death, or, for that matter, unaware that Princess Di and Princess Diana became the everyday convention, even though both were technically incorrect? Or did (s)he approach every medium to inform them of Princess Charles?
   A fellow New Zealander ignored the point of one post on this blog to tell me that it’s not Reuter, but Reuters. Funny, considering he and I are roughly the same age, and would have grown up in an age when ‘NZPA/Reuter’ was commonly in our newspapers (and in those days when people read daily dead trees, the form Reuter became conventional in New Zealand). Reuters, as we know it today, long after it formalized its company name, still made products such as Reuter Textline into the 1990s—and given that this person is also in the media, you’d expect he’d know. (Even the Reuter Textline terminals said they were Reuter Textline.)
   The appending of the s to establishments has frequently been a bugbear. Not enough to write to people about (unless one is the Apostrophe Protection Society), but the disappearance of the apostrophe in Harrod’s, Selfridge’s and Debenham’s, and the confusion of the shops that were branded Woolworth in some countries and Woolworths in others, surely would lead to a 2011 where any form is acceptable depending on the experiences of the writer and personal preference. The exception to this, of course, would be a direct citation about the company itself, where presumably one would follow whatever was on the Companies’ Register, in which case the information service would be Thomson Reuters Corp.
   I used to think I was a bit of a smart-arse, but I don’t go around American blogs telling them they misspelled defence (though Americans have quite publicly complained to me in their role as self-appointed guardians of the language), telling people that Prince Harry does not exist, or write to the Financial Times on the continued misuse of the word billion. (Note: milliardaire is very hard to say.)
   I have pet peeves, but I deal with them in my own little world and in my own publications. I make fun of some mistakes out of humour (Font Police surely is evidence), and I will get on my high horse about house styles and spelling when either happens to be the topic. If I’m responding to an article or a blog post, then isn’t it more productive, in furthering knowledge, to address the point, presume reasonable intelligence on the other party’s behalf (till proved otherwise), and not get stuck on minutiæ? Errare est humanum, after all, and no, I never studied Latin.

Incidentally, checking our visitor stats, Princess Catherine is the most searched-for way to refer to the former Kate Middleton after April 29; Duchess of Cambridge is second; and no one to date has searched for Princess William among the 1·1 million monthly pageviews, just as no one searched for Princess Charles to get to stories on our websites in the 1990s. So call all of us common. As long as do not refer to the Queen and Prince Philip as ‘Their Majesties’, which the 43rd American president did, I think we should be given a pass.

BMW 650i Cabriolet launch

Over this last week, the Lucire-mobile has been the BMW 650i Cabriolet, a car I had the honour of seeing at the same time as four press colleagues at its New Zealand launch in March. (LaQuisha Redfern has asked me to note that there is sufficient headroom for 6 ft 5 in drag queens.) Cabriolets do turn heads, even in winter, and I thank whomever it was for writing a note that made me smile and leaving it under a windscreen wiper: ‘Nice ride, Jack.’
   The car buff question here is: would I have received the same note in the previous-generation 6-series?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in branding, business, cars, culture, humour, internet, marketing, media, New Zealand, publishing, UK, USA | 3 Comments »

LOL, Wag, flat white added to Oxford English Dictionary


A few new words and meanings—45,437 to be exact—have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary, report the mainstream media.
   LOL is one, which I have always taken to mean little old lady, and have almost always used it in that context.
   Turns out that that was what the acronym originally stood for, according to the OED. And to think, so many of you thought I was merely being humorous.
   The changes do mean that Wag is now written in upper- and lowercase. I had written WAG, in capitals.
   Since our publications follow Hart’s Rules, which in turn use the OED as its arbiter on spelling, we’ll have to change accordingly.
   The last time I had to make any major change was when website was added. Prior to that, we had written web site in this company.
   And for us antipodeans, I am glad to note that flat white has now been added. No longer shall there be confusion from others in the Anglosphere.

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in culture, interests, media, publishing, technology, UK | 1 Comment »

If Google Images does it, is it legal?


If you pop down to the comments at an earlier post, you’ll find that a chap called Mark was very upset I used a thumbnail (100 pixels wide, 67 high) of one of his photos. In fact, I’ve done exactly the same in this post with another gentleman’s work (albeit this one is under Creative Commons), so you can get an idea of what happened. Mark is well within his legal rights to complain, though we thought it was rather funny and slightly hypocritical that he spent all that time investigating me and my company when he could have written a polite message.
   But this post isn’t about how short his fuse is or how he uses his time. I have written to people who have taken my work before, too, and have been far more effective, but they’re cases of entire duplication (a new copy on their server, no acknowledgement and no links back). I responded to him both privately and publicly, explaining that he was credited (though it could have been done better), and the thumbnail was hosted on and linked back to his Flickr account. I take with the non-response that he has conceded my point, but how do others feel in 2010 about thumbnail linking?
   The law basically says that even thumbnail linking is illegal. It is technically a copyright infringement in most jurisdictions (the claim of ‘theft’ is wrong) although one could easily use fair use as a defence. Mark, as any photographer, also has a moral right over his work over which he can determine how it is to be used.
   As I explained to him, my approach is to look at how I would feel (and I’m OK with a linked thumbnail, even without credit), and since his is the only complaint of this kind in four years of this blog, I’m going to have to take his position as a minority opinion in the days of Google Images and the like, which do even less with acknowledgement.
   But it raises a fascinating question. It’s probably not as major as the controversy over Google Books, and it has been covered elsewhere before, but evidently it’s an ongoing issue.
   How do people feel about thumbnail linking? Internally we are fine with it, but we are too small a sample to base a judgement on. Or, for that matter, what about the reproduction (and often uploading) of “found” items on Tumblr, where such behaviour is the norm?

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in internet, media, technology | No Comments »