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Posts Tagged ‘humour’

Being amused by small things

June 8, 2013 Leave a comment

Sometimes quite minor things can amuse me because of their strange and surreal qualities. One of these is TV subtitling, aka captioning, or closed captions.

You know the button on your TV that turns on subtitles for the hard of hearing? We have that on quite a lot, not because we’re hard of hearing but because it means we don’t need the sound on when we’re trying to be quiet, like enjoying the first coffee of the day. Usually at such times what we’re watching is a breakfast news programme.

Today I saw two news items that attracted my attention.

One was about giving blood. One of the people being interviewed, I think either an official of the NHS blood transfusion service or an award-winning donor, was talking about the process of giving blood and transcribed as saying: ‘It’s just like having an eagle peck in your arm, it’s painless.’ Oh yes?

The other was an item about the reduction in funding to museums and the possibility of  museum closures. One museum slated for possible closure was the ‘National Robbery Museum’ and another was the ‘Liverpool Chakra Museum’. I’ve never been to either, but it sounds like I should visit them both soon… I’d like to see a chakra museum; historical and curious chakras might be very interesting.

Of course the problem arises because of the way subtitling is done. Many dramas are professionally subtitled prior to transmission and what appears on screen is perfectly formed. Some live transmissions are transcribed in real time by someone sitting at a keyboard somewhere. I have a mental image of someone sitting in a darkened cubicle in the lower sub-basement of the TV station, wearing headphones the size of footballs and pounding the keys of a computer that was fresh and shiny in the late 1970s, but that’s just being fanciful. And sometimes the transliteration is done automatically by an audio-to-text programme that mostly gets things right, and maybe there’s someone who can add in corrections if they spot errors.

I have great respect for people who do these transcriptions because at many points in my research career, I’ve been involved in transcribing interview tapes, met court clerks who knock this stuff out at trials, and I know the kind of skill and speed that’s required to do this work in real time. So I think I can be forgiven for the occasional laugh-out-loud moments when either they, or the voice recognition software, gets it wrong.

As far as I know there isn’t a National Robbery Museum – the Met Police have a ‘black museum’ of implements used in famous murders, and the prison service has a museum of implements used in riots, escapes and so on. I’ve seen those (many years ago now), and indeed the Museum of Justice in Nottingham. And there isn’t a chakra museum either, though there is a witchcraft museum in Boscastle, Cornwall, which is interesting for a range of reasons including the social and folk history it reveals, and I’d recommend visiting it if you’re ever in the area.

Meanwhile, and wearing my fiction-writing hat for a moment, if you ever read a story of mine that has a robbery museum or a chakra museum in it, you’ll know where I got the idea from…

Learning, humour and irony

September 23, 2012 Leave a comment

This last week I’ve been rewriting some material on sociology, which prompted me to investigate what’s available on Youtube. I was intrigued by some of the stuff I found.

Here’s one, 3 minutes or so long, on the sociology of the family for A-level students. Things I liked about it: the flat, emotionally unengaged voice of the character that keeps repeating ‘I feel your pain'; and the punchline at the end. Wonderful.

And here’s another, on homelessness and poverty. Six minutes in total, but the best bit is the cartoon at the beginning. One character argues that homeless people are real people, like you and me. And another asks, with a note of incredulity in his voice: You mean they’ve adapted? Copied our DNA?

Humour and irony as tools for learning. Excellent stuff.

HPL

September 17, 2012 3 comments

Apparently one of the people I write education and training materials for has designated me an HPL. I discovered this when I phoned them to ask a question about their programme and the person I spoke to had to check a file, which referred to me and the other freelancers writing for the programme as HPLs. But she didn’t know what the acronym meant.

So – idle curiosity – I tried an acronym checker. The more amusing possibilities included:

High Pressure Laminate

Human Performance Laboratory (likely!)

High Performance Leadership (as a freelancer?)

Horizontal Protection Limit (?)

High Priority List (doubtful!)

I’ve since discovered from someone else in the organisation what the abbreviation actually means, but it’s boring. Anyone got any amusing suggestions?

Categories: humor Tags: , , , ,

Useful if your hovercraft is full of eels

July 20, 2012 Leave a comment

After the last couple of rather moralistic posts, some light relief. I’ve lately been writing something that required – don’t ask why! – some phrases in Creole (or Kreyol, as it’s often spelt in Creole-speaking parts of the world). As a result of this I discovered a web page that gives you the translation of the phrase ‘My hovercraft is full of eels’ in 108 different languages, currently spoken, historical languages like Ancient Greek and Sumerian, and constructed languages such as Klingon.

And there’s also a brief note on the source of the phrase and the context in which it might become useful. Unfortunately, though, Kreyol isn’t one of the 108 languages covered…

Here’s the link to the page at omniglot.com.

Have fun!

Excellent government reports

January 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Since we moved home I’ve been thinning out the amount of paper on my shelves – old notes, research briefings, policy documents, stuff that just arrives in the post because I’ve been on the mailing list of various organisations. A lot of it’s well over a decade old now and it was pretty ephemeral when it first came out.

And V says ‘I really like those government reports. They’re excellent.’

We have a multi-fuel stove in the living room. That’s the context for her comment.

Instructions

January 27, 2012 2 comments

‘Before using the product for the first time, take time to familiarise yourself with the product first. Read the following operation instructions and safety instructions carefully. Only use the product as described and for the designated areas of application. Please keep these instructions in a safe place. If you hand this product on to a third party, you must also pass on all documents relating to the product.’

I was sorting through old paperwork and came across this. It’s the beginning of a 7-page instruction manual…

… for a bath mat.

Gogglebox, a random thought

January 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Just a quick thought from a random conversation.

In my youth, ‘gogglebox’ was a slang term for a TV. I’d have thought by now someone would have come up with the obvious equivalent slang for a computer – a googlebox?

Apparently not. Oh well.

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