Sanitation has gained importance on the global development agenda, starting in 2008 with the UN International Year of Sanitation, followed by the recognition of the human right to water and sanitation in 2010 and the call for an end to open defecation by the UN Deputy Secretary General in 2013.

You’d think the UN Deputy Secretary General would have known better …

Oh, wait …


Typhoon Soulik

For the past few days Korea has been battered by a typhoon, though fortunately the damage seems to have been contained.

I looked at the Korea Herald website for information. I noticed that the story contained information which seemed to be superfluous, for example, “Daejeon, South Chungcheong Province, about 140 kilometers south of Seoul” and “The southern port city of Busan”, as well as “Busan, some 450 km southeast of Seoul” in a photo caption.

Given that the Herald’s readership is predominantly a) Koreans who want to practice their English, b) English-speaking people in Korea, and c) English-speaking people elsewhere who are interested in Korea and have gone to the Herald instead of any other news site, I would have thought that the Herald’s readership would probably know where Busan is and possibly know where Daejeon is. 

On the side of the page was a list of the top 10 recent stories. Among a number of typhoon-related stories, was: “Filipino-Indian couple caught stealing plastic bins from kimchi factory.”

entertaining cheeses

Today I sub-editing an article about “entertaining cheeses”. My first thought was of them singing and dancing for us. My second thought was of us singing and dancing for them. My third thought was of us chatting together, while eating the cheeses and drinking a nice bottle of red.

And I didn’t know until today that Camembert and Brie are towns in France.

How much more?

In Australia, a standard bottle of wine contains 750 millilitres. Today I bought a bottle containing 1 litre. The label proclaims “OVER 33% THAN A 750 ML BOTTLE”.

This is true. 250 ml is 33 point 33 recurring percent more than a 750 ml bottle, which is indeed over 33 percent (or more than, if that’s what your style guide says). To be fair, the winery may not legally be able to claim “33 percent more” when there’s actually “33 point 33 recurring more”. But is anyone going to complain that they got 2.5 ml more than promised, which is what the difference between 33 point 33 recurring percent and 33 percent actually comes down to?

I’ve just got to remember not to drink 33 point 33 recurring percent more of it.

‘The Bells’

In 1849, the American poet Edgar Allan Poe died and his poem ‘The Bells’ was published.

Sometime around the turn of the 20th century, the Russian poet and translator Konstantin Balmont “very freely” translated it into Russian.

In 1913, the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff wrote a setting for soprano, tenor and baritone soloists, choir and orchestra, originally titled (in Russian) Колокола, Kolokola (Russian WikipediaEnglish Wikipedia).

Some years ago (first guess 2001-2003) I bought a CD of this work. The booklet calls Balmont’s translation “more precisely, a re-interpretation” and includes his text transliterated into the Latin/‘English’ alphabet and translated into German, English and French. Whether the unnamed translator was equally free in translating Balmont’s Russian back into English or not, the result is very different from Poe’s original. Continue reading

every single day

I try to avoid ‘celebrity’ ‘news’, but this headline was right there on the newspaper’s website:

Khloé Kardashian thinks about having a nose job every single day

I suspect this means she thinks about (having a nose job) (every single day), but I can’t help get the feeling it means she thinks about (having a nose job every single day). The latter scenario would keep her out of the public eye, though, which could only be a good thing.

“Who’s left?”

Today several of my colleagues were away, then one left early. I looked around the office exaggeratedly, then said “Who’s left?”, meaning “Who is still here?”. “Who’s left?” might also mean “Who has gone?”, but I would be unlikely to mean that given that I’d just said goodbye to the colleague who was leaving.

Our colleague left, and we were left.