Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Uh-oh by John McIntyre, a mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, who has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years.  The editorial page in this morning’s Baltimore Sun quotes a line of “The Star-Spangled Banner” thus:  “Oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave.”  But Francis Scott Key wrote “O say.”  Oh is an exclamation by which a number of emotional reactions—surprise, disappointment, anger, excitement—can be expressed.  O is used in direct address, as in a prayer.  “The Star-Spangled Banner,” in addressing the listener, uses the latter form.   To keep the distinction in mind, think how “O God” differs from “Oh God”:  “O God, give me strength to endure these minor frustrations calmly.”  “Oh God, I’ve locked my keys in the car again.” 

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) is very proud to present the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, a free online digitized virtual library of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Hundreds of manuscripts made up of thousands of fragments - discovered from 1947 and until the early 1960's in the Judean Desert along the western shore of the Dead Sea - are now available to the public online.

Definition of APOTHEGM
a short, pithy, and instructive saying or formulation
Origin of APOTHEGM  Greek apophthegmat-, apophthegma, from apophthengesthai to speak out, from apo- + phthengesthai to utter  First known use:  circa 1587

The Library of Congress holds the largest rare-book collection in North America (more than 700,000 volumes), including the largest collection of 15th-century books in the Western Hemisphere.  The collection also includes the first extant book printed in North America, “The Bay Psalm Book” (1640).  The collections contain materials in some 470 languages.  The oldest written material in the Library is a cuneiform tablet dating from 2040 B.C.  The Library’s collection includes more than 50,000 genealogies.  Approximately half of the Library’s book and serial collections are in languages other than English.  The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with more than 138 million items on approximately 650 miles of bookshelves.  The Library’s Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature contains recordings of more than 2,000 poets reading their own work.

The song "Happy Birthday to You" is an example of just how interesting the world of licensing is.  Think about this song -- it is only 6 notes.  Yet it is one of the best known songs in the world.  It was written in 1893 by Mildred and Patty Hill and first published with the words, "Good Morning to You".  The words "Happy Birthday to You" were first seen in print in 1924*, although the author is unknown.  Copyright was registered in 1934 in a court case involving a musical called "As Thousands Cheer" by Irving Berlin.  The Clayton F. Summy Company became the song's publisher in 1935.  Through a series of purchases and acquisitions, the song now belongs to AOL Time Warner.  ASCAP represents the song for public performance licensing.  The copyright to "Happy Birthday to You" should have expired in 1991, but the Copyright Act of 1976 extended it, and the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 extended it again, so the song is protected until 2030 at least.  "Happy Birthday to You" brings in about $2 million per year in licensing fees according to this article at   If you ever hear the song in a movie, TV show or commercial, a licensing fee has been paid.  Any manufacturer making a toy that plays the song pays a licensing fee.  The manufacturer of any musical card playing the song pays a licensing fee.  And so on... This 6-note song** is big business!
* published as a second stanza to Good Morning to You
**  only six different words are used in Happy Birthday to You if you use Happy Birthday, dear (name) as the third phrase.  Only four different words are used if you use Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday as the third phrase.   

To anyone who was seriously interested in design in postwar Britain, Typographica magazine was essential reading.  Take the issue published in December 1963, which included essays on the work of the German typography designer Joshua Reichert and the Dutch graphic designer Paul Schuitema, as well as a review of an exhibition of British typography and one of the first articles to be published on the emerging concrete poetry movement.  The concrete poetry piece was written by an author who was new to Typographica, Dom Sylvester Houédard, known as “dsh” or “the Dom” to his fellow artists and activists in 1960s London.  His avant-garde credentials were impeccable.  Not only was he a pioneer of concrete poetry, in which the typographic style of the letters is as important as the meaning and rhythm of the words, Houédard also wrote extensively on new approaches to art, spirituality and philosophy as well as collaborating with artists including Gustav Metzger and Yoko Ono, and the composer John Cage.  Since his death in 1992, Houédard has appeared as an enigmatic figure in accounts of 1960s counter culture, until the publication of a new book, “Notes from the Cosmic Typewriter: The Life and Work of Dom Sylvester Houédard,” by Occasional Papers, a nonprofit publishing house in London.  “There is such a lot of interest in Houédard’s work, which so many artists, designers and poets know so well,” said Nicola Simpson, a specialist in 20th-century poetry who edited the book.  “But his work is difficult to find because it is scattered in private and institutional collections. Even to this day, we don’t know where all of it is.”  Alice Rawsthorn  See an image of "George." a 1964 typestract by Houédard at:

adjective  completely free from harm, restraint, punishment, or obligation
Origin  1200–50; Middle English; see scot, free
'Scot' is a Scandinavian word for tax or payment.  It came to the UK as a form of redistributive taxation which was levied as early the 13th century as a form of municipal poor relief.  The term is a contraction of 'scot and lot'.  Scot was the tax and lot, or allotment, was the share given to the poor.   Scot as a term for tax has been used since then to mean many different types of tax.  Whatever the tax, the phrase 'scot free' just refers to not paying one's taxes.  No one likes paying tax and people have been getting off scot free since at least the 11th century.

Music has organized sounds and silences.
Spoken language has organized sounds and silences.
Written language has organized characters and blank space.

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