Saturday, April 05, 2008


The man ahead of me at the neighbourhood mags-and-smokes shop spent 100 Euros on lottery tickets this morning. He looked like a local resident, an ordinary citizen, certainly not someone rich enough to spend (I'm trying to avoid the value-loaded word "waste") that amount of money with impunity.

The purchase didn't seem to make him happy, there was no sign of cheerful anticipation or even of a particularly generous portion of hope in his manner. I would rather say that he was resentful of spending so much money, perhaps even feeling himself a fool to do so; and I could hardly disagree with him.

And before you ask, the answer is yes: I too paid my share of the Idiocy Tax (as people call it here), and wasted 2.50 Euros for a single lottery ticket. I am amused to consider that my chance of winning is not significantly worse than his.

Second Life has been struggling for the last 24 hours with database-server and network problems, and at present is offline (closed entirely) for the second time in that period. I remind myself at such moments of the utter improbability of what the Lindens have achieved, how much like an absurdly optimistic science-fiction the current state of the art of SL would have sounded even five years ago. Nothing has ever been attempted on this scale before, neither in the number of concurrent users nor in the freedom of creation and movement allowed them. Most of the tools and technologies used are brand new, many are being invented right now as we speak; it's all running on prototypes and theories that need testing, and that some of these fail the test should really neither surprise nor unduly dismay us.

I guess I shall have to spend the evening reading more of the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation of Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace."* This is no hardship, it's a wonderful novel well translated and I am enjoying it greatly. But the physical book is infuriating me no end. It's been computer-typeset, of course, as all books have been for several years now; and an error has crept in. After page 157, the footnotes to page N appear not where they should, at the foot of that page, but at the top of the next page. I thought this was funny when I first saw it, presuming that the error would be solved in the current episode or chapter, or the next section at the latest. But the problem recurs right through the whole goddamned book, up to the very last footnote. What a miserable piece of shit! I am inclined to write and ask for my money back, just to register a protest.

Much as I admire the translators' efforts, much as I am enjoying reading this novel in its new form, I would advise book lovers not to buy this particular edition (purchased in London: Vintage Classics, a British Random House offprint). Wait for it to be revised and reprinted (as it surely will be), or for a paperback version of the translation to appear. Those who have already bought a flawed copy may register their displeasure on the VC website's contact page — and bloody good luck to you trying to get the "submit" button to work. Bah humbug. Incompetence abounds.

* Google bomb, hoping to warn anyone who might otherwise buy this flawed edition.

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Blogger zhoen said...

It still annoys me how often I find typos in books, often Pratchett books have several per book. Comes of not having human eyes do a final check. An instead of And, that sort of thing.

April 5, 2008 at 11:09:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Dale said...

I just read "Dr Thorne," by Trollope, aloud to Martha, and it was actually difficult to read, the typos were so bad. I shall certainly never buy another book from Nonesuch press. It was an attractive volume otherwise. Sheesh.

(A very disappointing novel anyway: lackluster characters and the denouement is obvious a quarter of the way in. Too bad: I had such high hopes after Barchester Towers!)

April 6, 2008 at 2:22:00 a.m. GMT+2  
Blogger JoeinVegas said...

Glad you had time to relax anyway. Hope the sick goes away.

April 6, 2008 at 11:14:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Udge said...

Quality control and editing are obviously outmoded concepts in publishing. And not just there. Sigh.

April 7, 2008 at 10:45:00 p.m. GMT+2  

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