Lost book covers

Here are some covers of books, from the 1960s to the 1980s, that I lost through the shifting sands of time – or had to return to the library. Through the magic of the Internet I can see them again (click on images to enlarge):

The Story of Toby – my first book. I was about four or five. After a while the pages started falling out.

The How and Why Wonder Book of Beginning Science – I did all the things on the cover except the weather vane. I made a periscope out of milk cartons. The book was part of a series. The back covers all looked like this:

Vesalius: Lectures – this is not a cover but a picture inside that was burned into my brain. This was one of my father’s books. It was all written in Latin! I was amazed that a language could have so many m’s.

Golden Nature Guide: Stars – my favourite book when I was seven or eight.

The Berlitz Self-Teacher Russian – I had this book at age nine! Probably because my father took Russian at university.

Eloise Lambert and Mario Pei: Our Names – the first book I ever got out on my grandmother’s library card. The second book I got out was about Roman roads.

Time-Life: Early Man – my mother bought some of the Time-Life science books, like this one. They were great as a writing surface. This is the one with that famous picture of the ascent of man:

Charles W. Ferguson: The Abecedarian Book – this is the book where I learned the word gerrymander:

Desmond Morris: The Naked Ape – I had heard about sex before I read this book, but it sounded far-fetched to me, like the Eucharist. After I read this, I knew that even zoologists agreed with the rumours.

Isaac Asimov: Second Foundation – They do not make cool covers like this any more, not for science fiction.

Isaac Asimov: Science, Numbers and I – one of his collection of science essays that he would come out with every two years or so. I used to eat them up like popcorn, but now they are hard to find.

Larry Niven: Tales of Known Space – a star chart on the cover, with real stars, like Tau Ceti, and a timeline of the next thousand years just inside. How could I resist?

Lerone Bennett, Jr: Before the Mayflower – where I first learned about much of Black history. At school we were taught that Blacks were slaves, then were freed by Lincoln, then failed to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and then, either Rosa Parks ended racism or the school year ended before she got a chance.

Aristotle: Ethics – in the 1980s all my classics were Penguin classics.

R. Prehoda: Your Next Fifty Years – I wish I still had this book now that we are some 30 years in. If I remember correctly, we were going to go through a Malthusian crisis and then be ruled by computers. Or something like that.

– Abagond, 2017.

Images: all come from Google Images.

See also:




My favourite Alicia Keys song. It went to number one on the US R&B chart in December 2003 and stayed there till February. It has a video where she falls in love with Mos Def, but I did not post it here. The video is good in its own right, but it takes away from the song, which is way better and needs to be heard on its own.

See also:


Baby, baby, baby
From the day I saw you
I really really want to catch your eye
There’s something special ’bout you
I must really like you
Cause not a lotta guys are worth my time
Ooo baby, baby, baby
It’s gettin kind of crazy
Cause you are takin over my mind
And it feels like oooooo
But you don’t know my name
And I swear it feels like ooooo ooooo ooooo ooooo
You don’t know my name
(round and round and round we go, will you ever know)

Oh baby baby baby
I see us on our first date
You’re doin everything that makes me smile
And when we had our first kiss
It happened on a Thursday
Ooooo it set my soul on fire
Ooo baby baby baby
I can’t wait for the first time
My imagination’s runnin wild
It feels like ooooo
You don’t know my name
And I swear it baby, it feels like oooo ooooo ooooo ooooo
You don’t know my name
(round and round and round we go, will you ever know)

“I’m sayin, he don’t even know what he’s doin’ to me
Got me feelin’ all crazy inside
I’m feelin like”
Owww! Ooooo Oooooo
Doin more than I’ve ever done for anyone’s attention
Take notice of what’s in front of you
Cause did I mention you’re ’bout to miss a good thing
And you’ll never know how good it feels to have all of my affection
And you’ll never get a chance to experience my lovin’
Cause my lovin’ feels like ooooooo
You don’t know my name
(round and round and round we go, will you ever know
And I swear it feels like oooo ooooo ooooo ooooo
You don’t know my name
(round and round and round we go, will you ever know)

Will you ever know it, no no no no no
Will you ever know it?
“I’m gonna have to just go ahead and call this boy.
Hello? Can I speak to — to Michael?
Oh hey, how you doin?
Uh, I feel kinda silly doin’ this,
But um, this is the waitress from the coffee house on 39th and Lennox
You know, the one with the braids?
Yeah, well I see you on Wednesdays all the time
You come in every Wednesday on your lunch break, I think
And you always order the special, with the hot chocolate
And my manager be tripping and stuff
Talking bout we gotta use water
But I always use some milk and cream for you
Cause I think you’re kinda sweet.
Anyway you always got on some fly blue suit
‘n your cufflinks are shining all bright
So, whatchu do? Oh, word? Yeah, that’s interesting
Look man, I mean I don’t wanna waste your time but
I know girls don’t usually do this,
But I was wondering if maybe we could get together
Outside the restaurant one day
Cause I do look a lot different outside my work clothes
I mean we could just go across the street to the park right here
Wait, hold up, my cell phone’s breakin up, hold up
Can you hear me now? Yeah
So, what day did you say?
Oh yeah, Thursday’s perfect, man:.”
And it feels like oooo
You don’t know my name
(round and round and round we go, will you ever know)
Baby Baby I swear it’s like oooooo
You don’t know my name, no no no
(round and round and round we go, will you ever know)
And it feels like oooo
You don’t know my name
(round and round and round we go, will you ever know)
And I swear on my mother and father it feels like
Oooo ooo oooo ooo ooo ooo
Oooo ooo oooo ooo ooo ooo
Oooo ooo oooo ooo ooo ooo
You don’t know my name
(round and round and round we go, will you ever know?)

Source: A-Z Lyrics.


Bible translations

Translating the Book of Jonah, circa 2017. (Image: Pioneer Bible Translators)

Bible translations (by -500) go back to the time of Daniel when the Jews were in Babylon and beginning to speak Aramaic instead of Hebrew. Since then the Bible has become the most translated book in the world.

Timeline: the number of languages, by year:

  • -500: 2 (Hebrew, Aramaic)
  • +1: 3 (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek)
  • +500: 11 (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Georgian, Old Gothic, Ge’ez, Persian)
  • 1000: 19
  • 1500: 50
  • 2000: 2,403

In 2015 it stood at 2,932. As late as 1900 there were “only” 620.

Most are incomplete. Only 1,333 have the whole New Testament. Only 554 have the whole Bible. That is still more than “The Little Prince” (1943) by Antoine de Saint Exupéry, which by 2017 had been translated into 300 languages, the most for any non-religious book.

Most are paraphrases, not literal, scholarly translations like the King James Bible. That is done for two reasons. First, it is something a missionary working with native speakers of a language can do pretty quickly (pictured above). No knowledge of Biblical Hebrew or Greek required! Second, in some parts of the world a literal translation would be misunderstood, like where nothing is “white as snow” because there is no snow. The aim is to reach as many people as possible, leaving the theological fine points to take care of themselves later.

Most are retranslations from English or Spanish. Because those are the languages most missionaries know.

Retranslation, by the way, is nothing new. For example, the first complete Bible in English, by Coverdale in 1535, was not a translation of the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic. Instead it was translation of the German Bible of Luther and the Latin Bibles of Erasmus and Jerome.

Nor is retranslation just seen with Bibles. Books that are have been “translated into 40 languages” are generally translated into some big European language, like English or French, and then retranslated into the other 38 languages. The same goes for news stories. Or much of the Wikipedia. Or Google Translate when it needs a pivot language.

Some notable Bible translations:

  • Septuagint (circa -236) – into Greek by the Library of Alexandria. Old Testament only. Quoted by the New Testament, still in use by the Eastern Orthodox Church.
  • Vulgate (+405) – into Latin. Also known simply as the Latin Bible. Translated by St Jerome, printed by Gutenberg, still in use by the Catholic Church. Gave English the words creation, salvation, justification, rapture, testament, regeneration, apostle, angel and the phrase far be it.
  • Luther Bible (1534) – into German, by Martin Luther. The first complete Protestant translation. Helped to shape standard written German.
  • Tyndale Bible (1531) – into English. Incomplete because Tyndale was burned at the stake. Tyndale is why people in the Bible sound like educated Londoners from the early 1500s.
  • King James Bible (1611) – into English. Also known as the Authorized Version. It is the most printed translation in English, or probably any language for that matter. Kept much of Tyndale’s wording. In 2014 it was still the most commonly read translation in the US, even though its English is getting hard to understand.

– Abagond, 2017.

Sources: mainly “Is that a Fish in Your Ear?” (2011) by David Bellos.

See also:


Justine Damond

Justine Damond (c. 1977-2017), also known as Justine Ruszczyk, was an unarmed White woman from Australia who was gunned down in the US by a Black police officer, Mohamed Noor, from Somalia. That was last Saturday near midnight, July 15th 2017, in a quiet, well-lit neighbourhood in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She had called the police to report what sounded like a sexual assault and was standing there in her pyjamas when police gunned her down. All she had on her was a mobile phone.

Video: none so far. The police had their body cameras turned off for some strange reason. Their car’s dashcam also seemed to have been off.

Eyewitnesses: so far only the police:

The police:

“As they reached West 51st Street, Officer [Michael] Harrity indicated that he was startled by a loud sound near the squad [car]. Immediately afterward Ruszczyk approached the driver’s side window of the squad. Harrity indicated that Officer [Mohamed] Noor discharged his weapon, striking Ruszczyk through the open driver’s side window.”

Note that Noor, sitting on the passenger side, had to shoot across Harrity, sitting in the driver’s seat, to hit Damond. He shot two or three times.

They gave her medical attention right away (not always the case with Black victims).

In 2016 Officer Mohamed Noor became the first ever Somali American police officer in Minneapolis.

The police union: silent.

The prime minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull:

“It is a shocking killing, and yes, we are demanding answers on behalf of her family.”

The press: is demonizing the police officer and humanizing his victim – the opposite of what they do when the victim is Black. For example:

  • New York Daily News: Justine Damond devoted life to helping others
  • The Guardian: Justine Damond: video shows Australian rescuing ducklings near Minneapolis home

In the first four days since the shooting, according to a Google search, there have been:

  • 626 web pages with the phrase “justine damond’s loved ones”
  • 1,050 pages with “killer cop mohamed noor”

Compare that to the first four days after the Tamir Rice shooting:

  • 0 pages said “tamir rice’s loved ones”
  • 0 pages said “killer cop tim loehmann”

The press instead demonized Tamir Rice’s loved ones.

For Noor, the press has not just gone through his record as a police officer, as they should, but they have even gone through his divorce documents and family court records. That is the kind of bastards they are.

For Damond, meanwhile, you read stuff like this being said about her:

“She was a model human being and if someone could have been designed with the biggest heart and the most love and kindness and compassion that I’ve ever met, that was Justine.”

The BBC showed her parents in Australia throwing flowers into the sea at a dawn vigil:

When you compare this to coverage of police shootings of Black people, it becomes sickeningly clear how racist the White press is.

Caucasian wake-up call? If Noor, like every other killer cop in Minnesota history, serves no time in prison, maybe it will be a wake-up call to White people about the nature of the police.

Not holding my breath.

– Abagond, 2017.

Sources: mainly BBC, CBS Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Gold Coast Bulletin. Images from BBC and Gold Coast Bulletin.

See also:



The 1911 edition, printed in 1928, photographed circa 2014. Via Bridging the Unbridgeable.

The 1911 “Concise Oxford Dictionary” (COD) is the first edition of the dictionary I use, the “Concise Oxford English Dictionary” (COED), now on its 12th edition a hundred years later. It is the desk dictionary version of the much larger “Oxford English Dictionary” (OED). Where the OED was 15,940 pages long, the COD was only 1,064. Thus the word “concise”.

Oxford University Press wanted to pack as much of the OED as they could into a single volume, one that an ordinary person could buy for a few shillings.

Current English: Where the OED set out to be a description of all recorded English since the Norman Invasion, the COD concerned itself only with “current” English, the sort an educated person in southern England would come across day to day in 1911. In effect it more or less came down to the words most commonly used by the London newspapers and the King James Bible, then still commonly read and heard at church.

H.W. Fowler

Enter the Fowler brothers, H.W. and F.G., they who would later give us Fowler’s guide to English usage. At the time they were living in two cottages on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel. Oxford would send out the materials they needed and they would send back completed pages on deadline. It took them only five years, from 1906 to 1911. It literally was a “dictionary written by White people.”

In 1911 there were telephones but no televisions, much less televangelists or telethons.

The OED was incomplete when they began. It was only up to M. But Oxford already had more than enough material to get up to Z. The COD was completed 17 years before the OED, the book it was based on.

The first five editions were mainly the work of one or two people working from home with a typewriter. In the 1970s they brought it in house. In the 1980s they began to computerize everything.

The 12 editions of the “Concise Oxford Dictionary”: 1911, 1929, 1934, 1951, 1964, 1976, 1982, 1990, 1995, 1999, 2004, 2011.

Then and now: the 1911 and 2011 editions compared:

  • Length: from 1,064 pages to 1,682.
  • Price: 3s 6d (21 grams of silver) to $24.75 (48 g).
  • Words added: computer, radio, television, cinema, Internet, tweet (of any kind), homosexual, etc.
  • Words removed: autocar, teleseme, cockyolly bird, impaludism, etc.
  • Spellings still current in 1911: shew, to-day, rime, connexion, oecology, socker, negro (not capitalized), rôle (still italicized with the French ô), etc.
  • Words in 1911:
    • revolution – not mainly political.
    • pudding – not mainly sweet.
    • trench – not mainly military.
    • cleavage – not yet said of breasts.
    • lamp – mainly gaslit, not electric.
    • neon – a newly discovered gas, not yet used for bright city lights.
    • American – still “of European descent”.
    • Lesbian – from the island of Lesbos, though there was the “Lesbian vice”.
    • gay – mirthful, not homosexual (itself a new word from 1892 that did not appear in the 1911 COD).
    • sex – something you were (male, female, hermaphrodite), not something you “had”.
    • love – “warm” affection in its main sense, not yet “deep” affection.
    • passenger pigeon – still one at the Cincinnati Zoo.

But maybe the biggest change is that although I have a print edition, I mainly use the computer program that came with it to look up words.

Negro in 1911 (on paper).

Negro in 2011 (on a computer screen).

– Abagond, 2017.

See also:




This came out in 2016 but did not chart. Its sample of “Want Ads” (1971) is better than “Want Ads”, but the song as a whole is not. Somewhere between the two there is a great song yet to be sung.

The strange thing about the music video is that when I first saw it I thought the group was British, even though everything in it that I can point to and clearly identify is American:

  • the location: a New York City subway station in the Bronx
  • the accents of the boy and the woman
  • the sample of “Why Can’t I Get It Too” (1959) by Six Boys In Trouble
  • the sample of “Want Ads” (1971) by Honey Cone
  • the rap by Sonny Cheeba of Camp Lo

Even stranger still, I was not far off: the Avalanches, as it turns out, are Australian:

It is like one of those episodes of “Star Trek” where something is not quite right and it turns out to be a computer simulation created by an alien mind.

See also:


If she don’t love me, what can I do?
Just put on my best pair of shoes
Because I’m me
Because she said, “He’s the one that drill the charms
Honey let’s go wrong”
I just want to know
What’s wrong with me?
Being in love with you

[Verse 1: Sonny Cheeba]
9th grade had the jingles of the swinging rainbow jacket
Lost lingo, Bronx’s only Django
Snap, he’d got less tougher
That’s where my props go
That’s where my pops went
See my percentage is a pennant to the planet
Knock it out the ball park, Frankie
I should not tire this tire
To a better love, let the wings spread
It’ll always come back, baby
Come back, shellac black, baby
A come back, flat black paint on a Chevy

If she don’t love me, what can I do?
Just put on my best pair of shoes
Because, I’m, I’m me
Because I’m me
Because I’m me
Because I’m me, I’m me

[Verse 2: Sonny Cheeba]
Never mind my tone when I told Pretty Tony
Listen to my tone, you ain’t catchin’ you a Tony
Award-winning walk when you running with a shottie
Why you running from us?
Why you messing with us?
We ain’t got no guns, we just let the bears witness
The Grizzly, maybe Polar
You ain’t ready, you ain’t ready ‘ready rolled up
Pulling a machete, cut the bamboo paper
And let’s roll out baby

I just want to know
What’s wrong with me?


Source: Genius Lyrics.

Donald Trump once claimed:

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s, like, incredible.”

Fifth Avenue is the street in New York where he lived at Trump Tower.

That claim was never put to the test, but something close to it has: as president he has been sunk in the Russiagate scandal for the past six months and, to date, the 35% or so who voted for him because they believed in him (and not as the lesser of two evils) have stuck with him the whole way: his job approval rating has yet to sink below 35%.

How he, his people and Fox News seem to do it:

  • Say you never did it. Your voters will want to believe that and will give you the benefit of the doubt all the way. Otherwise they will have to see what a poor judge of character they are. Cognitive dissonance – it works! They want to be morally blind. You must make that as easy as possible for them.
  • Make the press the enemy – by calling them “fake news”, “very dishonest”, etc. That way your voters will tend to discount anything bad they say about you. Nearly all Republicans still trust Trump over, say, CNN.
  • Gaslight – tell barefaced lies so that people become unsure of their own judgement.
  • Deflect – by pointing out (or even making up) crimes and misdeeds by political opponents, especially those your base voted against (Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton).
  • Make it about the leaks – you did not break any laws but the leakers certainly did! This is another good deflection.
  • Admit as little as possible – even though it means the story will be kept alive by leaks and you will have to keep changing your story. You have already trained your base to dismiss leaks as fake news. And they will not want to see your changing story as proof of lying. But they will remember what you have admitted to. For that reason:
  • Suffer selective collective amnesia – have all your top people accidentally forget the very same set of facts. This will be hugely suspicious to most people, but not to your base, which will remain wilfully obtuse.
  • Punish loyalty – by blurting out the truth the day after your friends lie for you. Do this even though you need all the loyalty you can get to prevent leaks!
  • Obstruct justice – by firing the person in charge of the investigation. Then boast about it to your suspected partners in crime! To those who object:
  • Point out you did not break any laws – even if you have to interpret the law in a narrow or questionable way. You need to maintain the image of innocence.
  • Say there is no smoking gun – until there is a smoking gun, in which case:
  • Say everyone does it. After spending months of saying that it was all a lie made up to make you look bad, just act like it is no big deal!

– Abagond, 2017.

See also:


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