At the age of 92, Pope Leo XIII receives an American cardinal. When the audience is over, the visitor kisses his ring and says,
"Since we will not seeAt the age of 92, Pope Leo XIII receives an American cardinal. When the audience is over, the visitor kisses his ring and says,
"Since we will not see each other again on this earth, Your Holiness, I bid you adieu."
"I'm dreadfully sorry," says the Pope. "I did not know you were ill." _____________________
At an official dinner, the future John XXIII once found himself seated next to a woman in an outrageously low-cut dress. When the fruit plate was passed around, John carefully selected an apple and offered it to his neighbor.
"No thank you," said the woman, surprised.
"But Madame," said John gravely, "I must insist."
"And why?" asked the woman.
"Well, it was only after eating the apple that Eve realised she was naked..." _____________________
Letters from children to God:
Dear God, I'm American. What are you?
Dear God, thank you for my little brother. But really I wanted a puppy.
Dear God, I don't think anyone could be as good a God as you are. And I'm not saying that just because you're God.
It was heartening to see how Donald Trump, even before his race scientists had completed their preliminary investigations of Sadiq Khan's bona fides,It was heartening to see how Donald Trump, even before his race scientists had completed their preliminary investigations of Sadiq Khan's bona fides, graciously offered to disregard the fact that the new Mayor of London is a Muslim if he should wish to visit the United States. Predictably, the liberal press has been quick to misinterpret Trump's gallant and tolerant gesture. I don't know what to say, except that they should read Immanuel Kant's carefully reasoned essay on this subject before jumping to premature conclusions. It's not as simple as they think.
OMG, I just stumbled over the Google Books page for this magnificent book and can hardly believe that no one on Goodreads has read it. Proverbs in 29OMG, I just stumbled over the Google Books page for this magnificent book and can hardly believe that no one on Goodreads has read it. Proverbs in 29 languages, organised by theme. Brief sample:
Eng: A scalded cat fears cold water. Ger: Begossene Hunde fürchten das Wasser. Dan: Brændt barn ræddes gerne ilden, og bidt barn hund. Swe: Bränt barn skyr elden. Fre: Chat échaudé craint l'eau froide. Spa: Gato escaldado del agua fria huye. Ita: Gatto scotatto dall'acqua calda, ha paura della fredda
There's a whole lot more where that came from....more
Well, I'm shocked. Shocked. I mean, I knew that three-quarters of the 9/11 terrorists were Saudis. And George W. Bush, who, now you mention it, was somewhat close to the Saudi royal family, did do rather a lot to delay release of the evidence. And, it's true, there were a few vaguely disturbing rumors - i hesitate to say facts - reported in this book. But I still refuse to believe it. No, it's impossible. I'm quite sure that, as soon as the missing 28 pages are released, those chattering tongues will be silenced once and for all. ...more
Ulysses in Limericks, by Professor Chris Akerley, University of Otago.
Metal type with images from printers blocks, 20
From the publisher's description:
Ulysses in Limericks, by Professor Chris Akerley, University of Otago.
Metal type with images from printers blocks, 20 pages printed on 104gsm Sundance natural white, hand sewn into wrap around cover, 17.5 cm x 25 cm.
Edition of 30, $110 plus postage.
I just don't know what to say. Professor Akerley seems to have let down the entire southern hemisphere. As a direct result of his misguided actions, Australians may have to stop calling Europeans wankers. It's that bad. Sorry, cobbers.
Now that Donald Trump has created a new standard for factual accuracy in public statements, I'm hitting the ground running. This book, which I have reNow that Donald Trump has created a new standard for factual accuracy in public statements, I'm hitting the ground running. This book, which I have read several times from cover to cover - it's almost a bible to me - is not, as you might think from the other reviews, a fluffy piece of chicklit. I'll tell you what everyone except the National Enquirer has missed: it's actually about Crooked Hillary and how she enabled her husband's multiple rapes of young American women, which were carried out with the help of teams of illegal Mexican immigrants and Syrian terrorists coordinated by Lyin' Ted Cruz's father with the goal of distracting attention from the fact that Barack Hussein Obama was born in Kenya. It's horrible. Horrible. No one has denied it, but no one will admit it either. Well, maybe Vladimir Putin, a strong and farsighted man who the other day called me a genius. Okay, I guess he might have a point there.
Manfred, as my inner German child insists on being called, has spent all day reading the end of Timm Thaler oder Das verkaufte Lachen. Since we shareManfred, as my inner German child insists on being called, has spent all day reading the end of Timm Thaler oder Das verkaufte Lachen. Since we share the same body, this means that I've also spent all day reading it. I kept dropping hints that I had work to do, but he pretended not to listen.
"Okay, what did you think?" I ask, when we finally put it down around 10 pm.
"It was amazing!" sighs Manfred, as he simultaneously smirks and wipes a tear from our right eye.
"You think everything's amazing," I say shortly. I'm quite annoyed about losing all that work time. "It's just a YA version of Faust with a happy ending. And the plot twist is pretty silly, you can see it coming a mile off. There's a reason why it's never been translated, you know."
"You didn't get it," says Manfred in his insufferable teen way. "See, the big joke is that you can see right from chapter 2 that Timm has made a pact with the Devil. The author makes sure it couldn't be more obvious. Like, the Baron's name is 'Lefuet', when you read that backwards it's--"
"Yes, yes, yes," I groan. Why do teens always have to believe that adults are dumb?
"And the plot twist isn't silly," Manfred continues. "Like, that's obvious too. Anyone who stops and thinks about it for five minutes can see how Timm is going to be able to get his soul back. But he can't see it."
"So?" I ask.
"Well, isn't life like that?" asks Manfred. "Lots of people have made a pact with the Devil. They think everything is serious and important and they can't laugh any more. And they could get out of it easily, but they can't see the answer, even though it's right in front of them."
"How would you know?" I say uncertainly. I really shouldn't let him get to me like this. Manfred gives a rather affected laugh.
"I'm going to let you think about that," he says, with even more than his usual smugness. "Now post my review. I bet you pick up some votes." ...more
Incredible! We went to this conference in Seville last November... and only six months later, the proceedings volume is already available online!
I wiIncredible! We went to this conference in Seville last November... and only six months later, the proceedings volume is already available online!
I wish I was being ironic, but usually the gap is more like two or three years - sometimes longer. Maybe the academic publishing industry has finally realized that more people would buy their books if they weren't already hopelessly out of date by the time they appeared? If they want further hot tips, I'd suggest that reducing the average cover price by 75% might also help, but I guess we shouldn't expect miracles. ...more
Umberto Eco's collection of essays on the theory and practice of literary translation is very fine, and I devoured it in a day and a half; but I'm afrUmberto Eco's collection of essays on the theory and practice of literary translation is very fine, and I devoured it in a day and a half; but I'm afraid to say that, the whole time I was reading it, I couldn't stop thinking about Astrid Lindgren's unforgettable character Karlsson på taket, aka Karlsson on the roof, Karlsson vom Dach, Karlsson sur le toit, Карлсон, который живет на крыше and a host of other names. One reason is already clear: Karlsson has been translated into a huge number of languages, and the challenges involved in this kind of venture are at the heart of what Eco is writing about here. Literal translations of any work of literature fall flat, for reasons Eco analyzes in great detail, and Karlsson is an excellent case in point. In the original Swedish, he has a unique and irresistible charm; in translation, he can easily come across as an insane egomaniac. Some of his translators (the German, and I am told by all my Russian friends, the Russian one) get him right; some (unfortunately, both the English ones) get him wrong; the French one is somewhere in the middle. As Eco says, you need to think deeply about the effect the author is trying to create and figure out how to create the same effect in the target language. That involves making compromises. You give up something less important, usually exact fidelity to the source text, to get something more important: here, the all-important thing is that Karlsson should be a loveable rogue and not a lunatic. Hence the subtitle of the book, "Translation as negotiation".
The other thing that made me think of Karlsson is, if I am to be blunt, that Eco does not list modesty among his many virtues. World's greatest polyglot literateur, guess who that is? World's most amusing translation theorist, guess who that is? World's best inserter of hidden references into postmodernist texts, guess who that is? World's greatest, cleverest, funniest, most-translated, most postmodern, all-round bestest author, guess who that is? In each case, I hear Lillebror's voice from the 1974 movie, answering in adoring tones: det är DU, farbror Umberto!
But you can't help loving him anyway, the old rascal. How does he do it? He's evidently performed some extremely cunning negotiations when he translated himself into written form... ...more
In our 2010 paper "What's the Magic Word?", the experimental evidence suggested that "fucking" is a more useful phrase than "please" when you're an AuIn our 2010 paper "What's the Magic Word?", the experimental evidence suggested that "fucking" is a more useful phrase than "please" when you're an Australian native speaker addressing a speech recognizer that has both words in its vocabulary. I look forward to reading Give Me a Fucking Doughnut, Mr. Panda....more
You only need to look at the two pictures above to understand how the famous Color Me Beautiful method works. On the left, the woman has just decided
You only need to look at the two pictures above to understand how the famous Color Me Beautiful method works. On the left, the woman has just decided to buy a copy of this book, believing that some crap about how her coloring is associated with a time of the year is magically going to make her twice as attractive. On the right, she has gone pale with rage after discovering that she's shelled out her hard-earned dollars for an obvious Photoshop scam which [continued for another 200 glossy pages] ...more
I want an inverse spy flick. The spy is a woman. Her whole team is made up of diverse women. All the villains are women. There is only one man in the entire movie and he is a Strong Male Character who is like 25 and decently ripped and has a scene where he steps out of a pool wearing speedos because he is Confident and in Control of His Sexuality. We see his ass when he has to tug down his pants to get at the knife strapped to his thigh. His nipples are always erect for no fucking reason.
They are undercover in a nightclub. In order to keep their cover from being blown, he has to kiss another man.
He knits to relieve stress and to keep his mind sharp. It is never discussed by any of the characters.
Someone asks him how he knows how to do Traditionally Feminine Things. "I have four sisters," he answers. This is also how he knows how to fight while armed with nothing but a purse, a high heeled shoe and a can of hairspray. During this fight he is, for no apparent reason, shirtless.
The lead spy is Helen Mirren. She nails the Action Boy in the shower. There's a lot of lingering closeups on the way the shower spray runs across his breathlessly ecstatic face. We also hear every breathless whimper of his climax, while out in the hallway Lucy Liu is smoking impatiently, a duffel bag full of rocket launchers slung over her shoulder. The President isn't going to kidnap herself here, christ.
Action Boy emerges in a small towel, sheepish yet radiant. Helen Mirren emerges in a tuxedo, also smoking, also with a duffel bag full of rocket launchers.
In one scene, the lead villain captures the Strong Male Character. He is, once again, inexplicably shirtless as she ties him to the chair. He makes some quips about his sexual independence before he is rescued by a sweat-drenched Helen Mirren, who kicks down the door and nukes everyone in the room. Strong Male Character's hair remains perfect throughout the ordeal.
Strong Male Character is heartlessly slain in front of Helen Mirren's eyes despite all his skills and combat prowess. His body slumps to the floor, lifeless but supple. Helen Mirren makes a witty quip at Strong Male Character's killers before quickly and dramatically slaying them all.
She steals one last glance at Strong Male Character. His beautiful eyes stare back from a handsome face with perfectly tussled hair, lips positioned as if in a gentle sigh. There's no bringing him back now. Helen Mirren walks away, stronger than before. Strong Male Character's death has hardened her, but given her the strength and resolve to complete her task.
An after credits preview clip comes on as a teaser. Helen Mirren with a huge explosion tearing things up behind her walks towards the camera with a new Strong Male Character wearing the tiny tattered remains of a burned shirt about his flexing pecs and deltoids, and he is carrying the bag of rocket launchers as he steps in behind her.
So Matt Bomer?
Nah, Matt Bomer is almost 40. Despite his great looks and great bod, he's way too old to play the shaggable romantic supporting character to 70-year-old Helen Mirren.
Matt Bomer plays Helen Mirren's sadder-but-wiser ex, computer-savvy, gorgeous but still single, fiercely independent (but it's all an act).
Helen Mirren shows up on his doorstep to ask him for one last hacker job, for old time's sake. Matt hauls off to slap Helen in the face, but Helen catches his wrist, pulls him close, and kisses him long and hard. Matt struggles at first but finally melts into her embrace. Lucy Liu strolls past them into Matt's chic apartment slapping Matt on the ass as she mutters "Some things never change, do they?"
Late the next night, as Matt and Helen hack into the CIA database, Helen tucks a stray lock of Matt's hair behind his ear and asks why there's no wife or kids in the picture after all this time.
Matt turns his sad, beautiful eyes towards her and confesses that there has only ever been Helen for him, but he couldn't stand never knowing if she would come back alive when she left on a mission. Helen and Matt nearly have a moment, but the computer beeps with the result of their search.
The next morning, Helen goes into the kitchen to find Matt's 20-year-old nephew has come to stay for the weekend. Helen and the camera slowly pan up and down his gorgeous, toned, oiled-up and glistening body as he stands, near-naked but for his tight, black satin booty-short underwear, and starts making a gourmet vegetarian omelette.
He turns around and smiles at Helen. "You must be a friend of Uncle Matt. I'm Caden. You hungry?"
Helen's eyes drift down to Caden's bulging crotch. "Oh, I could eat," she quips.
Helen Mirren and the actor who play the 20-year-old nephew get together in real life. Everyone is delighted.
[A cloud in Heaven. PLATO, LUCRETIUS, HUME, LAPLACE, DARWIN, THE REV BAYES and sundry others]
PLATO: Meeting to order. Manny has asked us to review Sea[A cloud in Heaven. PLATO, LUCRETIUS, HUME, LAPLACE, DARWIN, THE REV BAYES and sundry others]
PLATO: Meeting to order. Manny has asked us to review Sean Carroll's new book. I trust you've all read it?
LUCRETIUS: Say, how come we're writing this for him? What's going on, Plato?
PLATO: I owe Manny a little favor. Fellow-seekers after wisdom, we have eternity ahead of us. This won't take more than an aeon or two. Who's first?
LUCRETIUS: Okay, I didn't like it much.
PLATO: Would you care to elaborate, dear Lucretius?
LUCRETIUS: Well, it's a cheap rip-off of De Rerum Natura.
HUME: Modest as ever, I see.
LUCRETIUS: Look, he's just updating my formula! Fear not the Gods, fear not death, there is nothing but atoms and void--
LAPLACE: Quantum fields.
LUCRETIUS: Whatever. He's done a good job on the philosophy, I grant you that. But come on guys, he calls it "poetic naturalism" and where's the poetry in his book?
LAPLACE: Where's the naturalism in yours?
LUCRETIUS: Now Pierre-Simon, you know that's not fair. I was writing in the first century B.C.
LAPLACE: Well, you could have read Aristarchus. Or at least Hipparchus. Sean's naturalism is state of the art.
[General murmurs of approval]
PLATO: With all due respect, brother Lucretius, I think Pierre-Simon makes a fair point. If one wishes to defend naturalism, an understanding of nature is required. It is evident that Sean understands these -- ah -- quantum fields very well. And he has a gift for explaining them.
LUCRETIUS: But the hexameters--
PLATO: Sean maybe lacks a feeling for the poetics of words. But he sees the poetics of geometry.
LAPLACE: I enjoyed his geometric demonstration that there can be no occult forces.
PLATO: Yes, his use of the -- what was it called? --
LAPLACE: Feynman diagram.
PLATO: That was it. By turning the Feynman diagram through a right-angle, we see that all forces must already have revealed themselves. Very elegant. I must remember to show it to Eudoxus. Now, who else has comments?
THE REV BAYES: It is unworthy of me to say this, but I was touched that he believed more in my little rule than in God.
LAPLACE: You did well there, Tom.
THE REV BAYES: Perhaps too well. I fear people like Sean may be disappointed when they find out that--
THE REV BAYES: I'm sorry, I forgot we were still live. Charles, you look like you want to say something?
DARWIN: Well, I was also flattered that he took me so seriously. But remember, I always left open the question of how life originated. That "warm little pond"--
HUME: It's true, I did feel at times that Sean's protestations of rigorous scepticism were not entirely justified. I liked the kind things he said about me too. Though when he told us he was certain that science would soon understand the emergence of life, it almost sounded like--
THE REV BAYES: Faith? There's nothing wrong with that, you know.
HUME: Yes, but he says science isn't faith. I'd have felt reassured if he'd quoted Iris Fry's book. There's a woman after my own heart. But she's not even mentioned.
WEYL: And the same story with the universe's low initial entropy. I wasn't afraid to compare it to a miracle in my book. But despite the fact that Sean constantly refers to the Past Condition, there's hardly a word about why the world might have started in this extraordinary state.
PLATO: Gentlemen, gentlemen, please! Remember, it's easy for us to nitpick. Sean's just mortal.
DARWIN: True. Well, he's better than Richard Dawkins.
VOLTAIRE: And Christopher Hitchens.
WEYL: And Victor Stenger.
THE REV BAYES: Not to mention A.C. Grayling.
[Elaborate facepalm from VOLTAIRE]
PLATO: So, all in all, we don't think he's so bad.
LUCRETIUS: No, no, his heart's in the right place. As Pierre-Simon said, he does a good job of explaining the atoms and void.
LAPLACE: Quantum fields.
LUCRETIUS: Whatever. I still can't forgive him for taking out my hexameters. But maybe that's just me.
PLATO: Thank you Lucretius. Then, I hope that--
HUME: Wait! If Sean's correct about the finality of death, then what are we all doing here?
[A moment of general consternation]
WITTGENSTEIN: Relax, everyone. We're only a figure of speech.
PLATO: Ludwig, I don't know what we'd do without you. So, we're giving him a pass? All those in favor--
EVERYONE EXCEPT HUME: Aye. Aye. Aye
HUME: With the caveats already mentioned.
PLATO: Duly noted, David. Now thank you again, gentlemen, you've all been very kind. The first round of ambrosia is on me. ...more
I'm trying to improve my very shaky knowledge of sign language linguistics, and one important part of that is acquiring some understanding of HamNoSysI'm trying to improve my very shaky knowledge of sign language linguistics, and one important part of that is acquiring some understanding of HamNoSys, the bizarre notation used to capture signs in written form. This little booklet is meant to give you an overview of how HNS works. For the first few pages it all seemed pretty straightforward:
But the devil is in the detail. By the time you've reached page 10, you already feel that it's not quite as easy as you'd thought:
and then it gets worse and worse: the notation rapidly extends to include where you make the sign, with what direction and orientation, movement, type of movement, using both hands at once, and still more arcane topics. I think this was my favorite bit (the book focuses on Irish Sign Language):
Gaaah! How do signers manage to keep it all straight?! But I suppose if I had to describe speaking to someone who had no idea how it worked it would be equally mysterious. You blow air through your larynx, agitating your vocal chords, and touch your tongue to a place just behind your teeth while simultaneously rounding your lips and protruding them slightly, then immediately afterwards... ...more
I have been working a fair amount the last year with software that produces signed language - so I had to read this book, where Oliver Sacks presentsI have been working a fair amount the last year with software that produces signed language - so I had to read this book, where Oliver Sacks presents his take on the strange and wonderful world of Deaf culture. I don't think it's his most objective piece of work, but it's impossible to be objective in the face of the monstrous injustice that has been inflicted on Deaf society. Even today, many people I talk to are not aware that signed languages are just as much "real" languages as English or French, and that signers make up a well-defined linguistic community with its own cultural identity. For a long time, it was much worse. In the first part of the book, Sacks tells the story of how Deaf people acquired signed language during the late eighteenth century and then had it snatched from them again a hundred years later by the utterly misguided decisions of educational theorists who thought it would be better for them to learn to talk; it is hard to read this section without feeling both sad and angry. Now, as he relates in the third part, things have improved, and signers are slowly recovering their rights; but it is easy to understand why they are so suspicious and untrusting when they come into contact with hearing people. We have behaved very badly towards them, and they have reason to fear us.
The middle section, which makes up about half the book, discusses sign language from the point of view of late 1980s neuroscience. Sacks quotes some fascinating neurological/psychological studies: the most striking one involved a series of experiments with a Deaf woman who had suffered damage to the right hemisphere of her brain. As a result, she was apparently unaware of half of her visual field; but, remarkably, she still signed using a "signing space" of a normal size, which included the left side she effectively couldn't see. Sacks interprets this as showing that signers "lexicalize space", processing it with their language-oriented left hemisphere when they are using it for purposes of signing. Another memorable passage is about a signed Yom Kippur service at a Deaf synagogue. Sacks, himself Jewish, describes how the Deaf worshippers together sign the words of the holy Talmud with great expansive gestures, often making the signs above their heads rather than, as would be normal, in front of them; completely logical, since the Person they are signing to is God.
I wish I knew how reliable it all is: Sacks is by his own admission no expert in sign language, and doesn't sign at all. I'll ask my signing colleagues if they are better informed. But it's a beautiful and heartfelt book, and I think that it has materially helped the Deaf community in their struggle to win back their rightful place in modern Western society. It makes me want to do more in this area. ...more
Our language technology group in Switzerland has been working on sign language translation for about a year now. It's a challenging and interesting prOur language technology group in Switzerland has been working on sign language translation for about a year now. It's a challenging and interesting problem: signed languages are different from spoken languages for many reasons, the most important of which can be traced back to the fact that they are realized in three dimensions rather than one. In sign language, it isn't just what your hands say; it's where they say it, in what direction, and what the other parts of your body are doing at the same time. Maybe signers aren't kidding when they say that sign is more expressive than speech. So far, our speech to sign language translator is pretty basic.
We missed this guy when we were doing our literature search, but one of my colleagues stumbled over a YouTube video earlier this evening. You have to admire his courage. There's five of us, and we've got a fair amount of experience in the relevant technology; as far as I can make out, he did his work all on his own, as a Master's thesis. I can understand where the first two paragraphs of the acknowledgements come from:
The successful completion of any task would be incomplete without acknowledging the people who made it possible and whose constant guidance and encouragement secured the success.
First of all I wish to acknowledge the benevolence of omnipotent God who gave me strength and courage to overcome all obstacles and showed me the silver lining in the dark clouds.
Rupinder, who comes across as a good software engineer and a smart person in general, set himself the goal of writing a system which could translate Punjabi to Indian Sign Language, and if he'd turned in an unqualified success then I think I'd now be a believer too. The system he's built is still quite impressive, given that he presumably had to do all the work in a few months. It can translate some simple sentences from Punjabi into a shallow semantic representation, then into abstract representations of signs, then into the weird and wonderful HamNoSys notation, and finally into avatar movements, as in the following example:
He says Deaf signers think the output is acceptable, though he doesn't provide any details. Well, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.
The best part of the system is the editor Rupinder wrote for creating his HamNoSys lexicon, which is what you can see in the video; it almost makes HamNoSys intuitive, no mean feat. I hope we'll be hearing more from this talented young researcher. Go Punjabi sign language linguistics!...more
This children's classic, published in 1906 by future Nobel Prize winner Selma Lagerlöf, is so famous in Scandinavia that everyone knows the plot; butThis children's classic, published in 1906 by future Nobel Prize winner Selma Lagerlöf, is so famous in Scandinavia that everyone knows the plot; but until now I'd never read it. Nils Holgersson, a good-for-nothing kid in late nineteenth century Skåne, angers the local tomte (a kind of Swedish leprechaun), who magically transforms him into another tomte. Nils, who's now the size of a thumb, is fortunately adopted by a flock of geese who take him to their summer nesting grounds in Lapland and back again. En route, they conveniently traverse all of Sweden, giving the author ample opportunity for an extended series of geography lessons. It sounded dull, but I was pleased to discover that in fact it's nothing of the kind. The geography is always firmly in the service of the narrative, the lead characters are well drawn, and the style is moving and poetic. But what surprised me most was that I'd never heard how it came to be written.
According to the introduction, the author's original inspiration was a terrible story she had heard from her grandmother about an incident that had occurred when the grandmother was herself a little girl. There was a white goose on the farm, and one spring day he took it into his head to fly off with a flock of wild geese who were passing by. The family was of course sure they would never see him again. But many months later, Selma's grandmother was astonished to see that the goose had returned. And he was not alone; during the summer, he had found a mate, a beautiful grey goose, and they were accompanied by half a dozen little goslings. Delighted, Selma's grandmother led the goose family to the barn, where they could eat from the trough with the other fowl. She closed the door so that they wouldn't fly off again, and ran to tell her stepmother. The stepmother said nothing. She just took out the little knife she used for slaughtering geese; and an hour later there was not one goose left alive in the barn.
For me, this resonated with what many other people also find the most memorable episode in the book. One night, Nils is woken by a stork, who says that if he follows him he will show him something important. They fly to the seashore, where there is a strange city, quite unlike anything one would expect to find on the Swedish coast. Nils goes in through the huge gate and discovers people dressed in rich clothes from a bygone age. No one seems to notice him at first. He finds his way to the merchants' quarter. People are selling all kinds of precious goods: embroidered silks and satins, gold ornaments, glittering jewels. And now he realizes that the merchants can see him. They are holding out their wares to him, offering all these treasures. Nils tries to make them understand that he could never afford any of it, he is a poor boy. But they persist, and using gestures tell him that he can have anything he wants, if he can just give them one small copper coin. He searches his pockets over and over again but finds they are empty. In the end, he leaves the city, and when he turns round again it has disappeared. "It is the lost city of the sea traders," explains the stork. "They were drowned beneath the waves long ago, but once every hundred years they come back for a single night. The legend is that if they can sell a single thing to a mortal, they will be allowed to return to the world; but they never do." Nils feels his heart is going to break. He could so easily have saved all these good people and their city, but he has failed them.
It seemed to me that both stories expressed the same feeling with quite unusual clarity. If only... ...more