Colorless green ideas

Greg Ross writes at Futility Closet that Noam Chomsky once offered the expression Colorless green ideas sleep furiously¬† as an example of a sentence that’s perfectly grammatical but is pure nonsense.

Naturally, some people took this as a challenge, Ross says, and students at Stanford set up a competition to show that the expression could be understood as a meaningful sentence. Here is one of the prize-winning entries:

Colorless green“It can only be the thought of verdure to come, which prompts us in the autumn to buy these dormant white lumps of vegetable matter covered by a brown papery skin, and lovingly to plant them and care for them. It is a marvel to me that under this cover they are labouring unseen at such a rate within to give us the sudden awesome beauty of spring flowering bulbs. While winter reigns the earth reposes but these colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

Futility Closet is a site filled with thousands of “entertaining curiosities in history, literature, language, art, philosophy, and mathematics.” Check it out.

An entertaining site

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Also from the Futility Closet is this gem

Ancient Chinese encyclopedia wisdom:

“On those remote pages it is written that animals are divided into (a) those that belong to the Emperor, (b) embalmed ones, (c) those that are trained, (d) suckling pigs, (e) mermaids, (f) fabulous ones, (g), stray dogs, (h) those that are included in this classification, (i) those that tremble as if they were mad, (j) innumerable ones, (k) those drawn with a very fine camel’s hair brush, (l) others, (m) those that have just broken a flower vase, (n) those that resemble flies from a distance. “

I LOVE it. I particulaily like the meta aspect of (k) – it’s an animal drawn by a brush from a particular animal’s hair – does camel hair have magic powers?

And then there’s the utter wonderfullness of giving up altogether that’s inherent in (l).

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Summer Reading

Summer ReadingBoston Globe, David Goldin

Beach Reads: It’s that time of year when everyone has a summer reading suggestion or three for you, including:

Flavorwire‘s “20 new nonfiction books that will make you smarter

For example:Eating WildlyThe Boston Globe‘s “Summer reading suggestions,”

Vulture‘s “6 books to read this summer,

Six BooksBuzzfeed‘s “22 books you need to read this summer,”

For example:

Eleanor & Parkthatcovergirl.wordpress.com

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: A love story about two people falling in love with each other and a book they both adore.

New Republic‘s “9 smart, entertaining new books to get you through the summer

For example:Rise and FallThe Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman leaps back and forth through time, and skips all across the globe. It’s a bookshop-lover’s book, and beautiful prose-lover’s book, and read-it-all-in-one-weekend book.

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Imaginary Worlds

An exhibition of Mosaiculture Living Sculptures at the Atlanta Botanical Garden features a menagerie of magical creatures.orangutan-pairphoto via Atlanta Botanical Garden

Unicornphoto via Atlanta Botanical Garden

‘Living’ imaginary creatures

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Quote of the Day

Wonder Women~~~~~
Alma Alexander
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