No Smoking Prohibited By Law

The sign says:

No Smoking
Prohibited By Law

But it should say:

No Smoking
By Law


Smoking Prohibited By Law


No Smoking
Smoking Is Prohibited By Law

Why? Because it almost sounds as if not smoking is not allowed. In other words, it sounds like everyone must smoke.

Obviously people are not really going to conclude that they must smoke when they see this sign, but all the same, the English is not quite right.

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

See below for my thoughts on this excellent novel, when and why I read it (twice!), and a list of other books I’ve read that are about India or by Indian authors.

My write-up of the premise, characters, themes and what I liked about the book contains some details about the characters that could be considered spoilers but does not give away the climax or resolution of the tale.

Continue reading A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

Prices are subjected to service charge and tax

The menu at Tim Ho Wan, a nice restaurant for dim sum, says:

All the prices shown above are subjected to 10% service charge & 7% GST.

It should say ‘subject to’ and not ‘subjected to’. If I’ve seen this error once, I’ve seen it a thousand times…

In the phrase “subject to [noun]”, the word ‘subject’ is an adjective. The phrase can mean “vulnerable to [noun]”, “able to be affected adversely by [noun]”, “likely to suffer from [noun]”, “possibly required to undergo [noun]”. Here are some examples.

Those with certain medical conditions are subject to violent and debilitating seizures.

Hastily written emails are subject to misinterpretation.

In those days, all mail was subject to inspection by censorship authorities.

In the phrase “subjected to”, the word ‘subjected’ is part of a passive verb. The phrase “to subject [someone or something] to [some process]” means “to inflict or impose [some process] on [someone or something]”. Here are some examples.

The trainees were subjected to a rigorous training program.

All our prototypes are subjected to thorough stress-testing.

Many citizens object to the practice of subjecting prisoners to torture.

So listen up, would-be restaurant menu writers: if you say that all prices are subjected to service charge and tax, to careful readers, it sounds as if service charges and taxes are kinds of torture that you are carrying out, and your prices are the victims.

Actually, it would be more accurate to say that all restaurant patrons are subjected to service charge and tax!

I’m a little snowflake.

Sometimes alternative words to songs just come to me. Look what happened to “I’m a little teapot”!

I’m a little snowflake, perfect bright;
Don’t you dare insult or slight
Any little thing I do or say,
Or else I’ll make you rue the day.

I love children, but sometimes I do not love their parents. Never having been a parent, perhaps I shouldn’t criticize. On the other hand, most parents have never been teachers, and some of them make teachers’ jobs much harder…

(I made the illustration in Photoshop using a free stock image from Pixabay. The variety—and the tagging—is pretty pathetic, but sometimes Pixabay has exactly what I’m looking for. In this case, a photo of a girl wearing a suitably smug expression.)

Point Break (2015)

Point Break (2015) is not a movie, it’s an ode to extreme sports with a plot carelessly grafted on. That being said, parts of it were utterly beautiful. Specifically, the mountainy parts. Perhaps it’s a pity that I didn’t watch it in 3D!

More about this mess of a movie below, with “SPOILERS”, not that there’s really a plot.

Continue reading Point Break (2015)

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Edge of Tomorrow is Groundhog Day but with hostile aliens.

I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I love Tom Cruise’s humorous approach and his dedication to the role; the special features talked a lot about how much effort was required to operate in the exosuit and how central the suit was to the portrayal of the main character, whose gradual transformation Cruise made believable. On the other hand, I found the war very real and very threatening.

This review has interesting things to say.

The repetition of certain shots and/or scenes is deftly handled and serves the story without ever becoming cumbersome, gimmicky or overused – which is really a feat in and of itself.

More on what I liked and disliked about the movie, including spoilers, below.

Continue reading Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

My phone is dead. Long live my phone!

This is the (long) story of the end of the life of my 2008 phone. It was a good (long) life, and it had a good end. Not every phone is so lucky.

My phone was a Samsung i900 Omnia. People would ask me if I had a smartphone, and I would say, “Yes, but it’s a stupid smartphone.” It was a minicomputer with a touchscreen and a data plan, but it couldn’t do the things that their smartphones could do, because—let’s face it—technology has changed a lot since 2008.

I’m finally catching up. Or starting to. I have to admit, my 2013 Sony still seems rather baffling…

Continue reading My phone is dead. Long live my phone!