ScrimismsPresently suffering a dearth of witticisms

February 2007

Food and News18 Feb 2007

Shengrong and I celebrated Chinese New Year with the folks from the Overseas Chinese Students’ Association. We made hot pot and dumplings (I say “we” because I was allowed to wrap a few dumplings) and sang Karaoke. Some of the dumplings were really good – Shengrong says they are best when freshly prepared, and they definitely beat the dumplings I’ve had on other occasions.

Karaoke was mostly in Chinese, though some people sang English songs. I did Jimi Hendrix’s “Red House”, which has very few lyrics. I got to play a lot of air guitar, and smashed my pretend instrument at the end.

The highlight of the night for me was the Korean science student trying to do magic tricks for Shengrong, who is possibly the worst audience-member ever.

Magician: “Choose a number on this six-sided die, and seal it in this container, with your chosen number facing up”.

(Shengrong chooses “one” and puts the die in the container).

(Magician gets her two blow on the container, puts it in a larger container, shakes it beside his ear, does all manner of “magical” preparations).

Magician: “Your number was… one!”

Shengrong: “No! You are wrong! That wasn’t my number! Why do you think I chose number one? You clearly can’t do magic!” etc.

Food and Musings08 Feb 2007

I’ve been coming home late a few nights a week due to my TA duties. On those evenings I rarely want to cook. This has lead to my new motto:

In a hurry? Eat some curry!

My friend Gomed put me on to this stuff: India House Kahri. It gets his Delhi stamp of approval. It’s rather tasty and easy to prepare: just heat it and serve over some basmati rice. Also, he related that the approved method of basmati rice preparation is to heat water and rice in a 2:1 ratio, uncovered, until the water is gone. Put a lid on and let stand 10 minutes.

Has the added benefit of making your kitchen smell nice.

Musings and News02 Feb 2007

As you’ve probably heard, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its report from Paris today.

One thing I’ve always found strange about the climate change “debate” is that those with a vested interest in the status quo always seem to argue that climate change is a natural phenomenon, and thus we don’t need to change our behaviour. Well, fair enough, but if sea-levels rise because of a “natural phenomenon”, we are just as screwed. Regardless of the cause, shouldn’t we be trying to do something about it?

The other thing I’ve found strange is that those who oppose any kind of response to climate change often do so in economic terms (“Prime Minister Stephen Harper once called the Kyoto accord a “socialist scheme” designed to suck money out of rich countries, according to a letter leaked Tuesday by the Liberals.“—admittedly, the letter if a few years old so who knows what our PM thinks of Kyoto now). Do such “guardians of the economy” not realize what could happen to our precious wealth when Manhattan is under water, along with parts of every other coastal city?

In light of this, I thought I might have a look at the way various news outlets were covering the “what we should do about climate change” aspect of story from Paris.

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Musings02 Feb 2007

Excuse me?

Yes I was wondering if I could… If I could ask you a few questions about what you are doing there?

It seems… what? Sure. When you’re finished.

Alright, thanks. No Problem. So you’ve written… is that chalk? Yeah, okay. You’ve written in chalk on the door of your friend’s house.

It’s her birthday? Yes, I’d gathered as much. But…

Yes, I’m sure she’ll be very surprised. But look, you haven’t written “happy birthday”, have you? You’ve written “Happy Bizzle Dizzle”.

“Happy Bizzle Dizzle Michelle,” specifically. Yes, I think the balloon is a nice touch.

I’m sure you’re right, the whole street will enjoy finding out that today is Michelle’s, er, bizzle dizzle.

No doubt. Not doubt she will. If it were me, I’d be stunned, I promise you. Anyway…

Anyway, look, I wanted to ask, why’d you write “bizzle dizzle”?

Ah. Have you ever watched The Smurfs? The, you know… yes, with the cartoon characters.

Yeah, they were blue.

Yep, little blue people. Anyhow, if you remember they used to replace various words with “smurf”? It occurs to me that you’ve done the same, only with “-izzle”.

What? No, no I’m not. No I can see that clearly. Nothing blue about your skin. Listen, if you’ll indulge me…

It occurs to me that we have an insight into how the Smurfs’ particular language quirk evolved. …. Yes, yes I know it’s a TV show.

Yes, I know TV shows aren’t real.

No, I said before, I am not insinuating that you are… no, you’re not a cartoon character, I can see that.

Anyway, look, in order to make sense of “hand me the smurf” or “bizzle dizzle” you need context. Yeah, context. See, if it wasn’t Michelle’s birthday she might have trouble figuring out what you meant by “Happy Bizzle Dizzle.”

Well, fair enough. Of course you’ve only written it because it’s her birthday. Why are you looking at me like that? Nevermind, don’t answer that. Okay, so back to the Smurfs. At some point the smurfs must have actually known words like “shoe” and “house” and “antelope” and what not. Otherwise, when they said things like “hey, look at that smurf wearing smurfs over by the smurf,” the other Smurfs wouldn’t know what they were talking about. It’s not just context that matters, you also depend on pre-existing knowledge.

Yes, the language can’t have…look, I mean you can’t just develop Smurf language progressively, it has to be a degeneration of a more complete lexicon. Just like…

What? Oh, you know, “set of words”. Sorry, I should have said “Lizzile-Cizzle”.

Haha, no that was a joke. A harmless little joke, I promise you.


Anyhow, just like your friend Michelle has to know the word “birthday” first, in order for her to understand what you meant by “bizzle-dizzle”.

Yes… no… yes… look, there is a point to all this. I just wanted to know if it had occurred to you that the Smurf children were basically doomed.

No, I’m not some kind of crazy person. Hear me out. Because the Smurf children’s parents never taught them the original words that the Smurfs all replace with “smurf”, they’ll never be able to learn to talk. Context alone is not enough!

Your communication strategy is likewise flawed. Replacing every “B”-word with “bizzle” can’t work in the long-term. People need to know the original words….

What? Look, I just wanted to see if you were aware of…

I give up.

I gizzle-uzzle.

Really? Oh, well then. Smurf you too.