Avocados – the spelling

My inclination when preparing my earlier post on “avocados” was to spell the plural as “avocadoes”.  After all, it’s “tomatoes” and “potatoes”, and, just like avocados, they get eaten.   But the spell-check insisted – no “e”.

But why is this so?  I consulted my Fowler’s Modern English Usage (my copy is 2nd ed, for those who need to know).   Needless to say, there’s no entry under “avocado”.  However, there’s an entry for “-o(e)s”.   As is usual with Fowler, the commentary was fascinating!  But shortly stated, it seems that although there are a lot of nouns ending in “o”, in fact only a minority have “oes” in the plural form.   But many of the familiar words with this ending do go this way in the plural firm, such as “potato”, “cargo”, “hero” and so on.

Hence “oes” at first sight often seems “right” to us.  But in fact it’s quite correct for other words to be just “os”, such as “infernos”, flamingos” and “embryos”.    Fowler suggests that in some cases, words that aren’t often used in the plural form tend to use “os”.

In the case of “avocado” (which is used a lot as a plural!), there’s also an explanation  here  along the lines that the founders of the California Avocado Association actually told the dictionary publishers that the plural didn’t have an “e”.   I guess that’s your right, when you’re promoting a name for a something (as the article claims the Californians did).  However, Wikipedia doesn’t give all the credit for the word itself to the Californians, saying that it’s derived from the Spanish. which is also stated in the Macquarie Dictionary.


Station names

So, the names for the stations on the Metro rail line have been announced.   The station originally designated as Parkville will stay the same, but CBD South becomes Town Hall, CBD North becomes the State Library and Domain, near the Shrine, will be called Anzac. The station at Arden will be named North Melbourne, while the existing North Melbourne station will be renamed West Melbourne.

I suppose these are relatively uncontroversial, although the renaming of the existing North Melbourne station could cause a bit of confusion.    Perhaps this can be minimised by making this change well before the Metro line is opened.

The general reaction seems to be that the naming of one station as Anzac is a “good” thing,  although the link is to Daniel Bowen’s site, and he admits he was on the naming panel, so perhaps he’s not entirely disinterested in the reaction!  Personally, I don’t know what was wrong with “Domain”.

However, I do wonder how the “Honest Historians” feel about the name “Anzac”.  Their basic message (on their website) is “Australia is more than Anzac – and always has been” and they “challenge the misuse of history to serve political or other agendas”.    Well, I have only sampled the material on the website, but from the little I know about them I have problems with their own “agenda”.  Moreover, I heard a talk recently from a person who supported their approach, and the conclusion I drew was that he at least thought that the way we commemorate Anzac Day “glorifies militarism”.  In short, the “agenda” in his case seemed to lean strongly towards pacifism, and hence he thought Australia’s history ought to de-emphasise the country’s military history in general and the Anzac tradition in particular.  He also had a problem with the level of funding for the Australian War Memorial.

I’m far from convinced that the community’s perception of  Australia’s history is as slanted as he appeared to think it is, but be that as it may, I strongly suspect that the naming of the new station isn’t going to please him and probably not the other supporters of that site!


Penguin are re-printing a series of Maigret stories, but I’ve seen very few of them in the bookshops or the local library.   Actually, I had more-or-less given up on the library, as (in the fiction area) it seems that the policy is to buy multiple copies of  authors it presumably considers to be “popular”, instead of maintaining a collection across a broader range.  Perhaps, given limited shelf space, that’s OK;  anyway I’ve just accepted it and haven’t sought be involved.

Because I like Maigret, I was  pleasantly surprised when browsing the shelves at the library to see four of the Simenon reprints on the shelf!  I immediately borrowed two of them, and  I finished the first (Maigret’s Revolver) within 24 hours!   Simenon’s style shines through:   lots of detail about everyday life including the weather and pausing for a drink, Maigret’s discomfort at being out-of-his-zone in English speaking London and more.  Of course, being set in the 1930s, phone calls are made through an operator, but somehow, there are always back-up police available waiting to drop everything and follow any instructions that they might be given.


Windows 10 Creators (sic) update

My computer had been prompting me to start the “update” process, but although it kept promising to do the update when I logged off, it seems that not much happened until I actually clicked the “Update Now” button.   Then computer then mumbled away to itself for well over an hour, but eventually informed me that “Windows 10 Creators Update” had been installed.  I suppose the flip side of this is that Windows didn’t take it on itself automatically to install the update at a time that it arbitrarily selected (I recall this having happened in the past), so I can’t complain about that.

Apparently this update has a number  of supposedly interesting features, but these seem largely gimmicks to me.  I can safely say, that there seems little in it that is likely to be of interest to me.  Perhaps I’ll look at the privacy settings, but apart from that,  all I want is for my computer to continue to operate with as few hassles as possible (and I accept that updates are necessary in this regard).   Annoyingly, the update appears to have interfered with some of my “default” settings (mainly in relation to programs by which particular files are opened) and also some of the Outlook settings, but hopefully I’ll be able to sort through these.

And – ought there not be an apostrophe in “Creators” ?   I would have thought that it should be Creators’…..?    The issue was mentioned in this article, but clearly Microsoft regards itself as being above the niceties of English grammar!


I was in an aisle at the library that I don’t usually venture down…..and came across The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Anatomy.  Well, something different, I thought, and since I had recently read an article  about the operation of the gut which in a strange way had been interesting, I thought I’d delve a little deeper into the subject!

I know that anatomy is second nature to health professionals – for good reason –  but I certainly can’t say that I absorbed even a fraction of the information.   Just as well I never enrolled in a course that involved studying anatomy.   Soooo many names to learn!  I wouldn’t have stood a chance.     What amazingly complex things our bodies are!   I learned that the skin is 16% of the body’s weight, and that the lymph system is actually part of the circulatory system (and the immune system) in that it returns excess issue fluid to the veins, via  the lymph nodes which filter out and destroy bacteria and other harmful nasties.

Looking at the chapter about the arms. I paused to wonder if the scapula (shoulder blade) is actually attached to the rest of the skeleton.   No, it’s not, it isn’t connected by way of a joint to the spine, only by numerous muscles and ligaments to the ribs.   There is a “fake joint” called the scapulothoracic joint, where the scapula moves against the rib cage, but isn’t connected by any bony connection.  The only bony link between the shoulder arm bones and the spine is by way of the collar bone (clavicle), which actually serves as a strut to keep the shoulder away from the body.

And of course there’s a great deal more!

Maigret sets a trap

I really like Georges Simenon’s writing.  Now Channel 2 have started a series of Maigret detective shows.

“Mr Bean” (Rowan Atkinson) plays Maigret!    Somehow, I would never have connected Mr Bean with Maigret, so this aspect felt a little odd, but I got used to it.   Nor would I have picked the location where the program was made as being Budapest (and Szentendrea, just out of Budapest), but it did seem to achieve the desired effect of giving the feel of Paris in the early 1950s.  I also had misgivings about the up-market English accents, but someone told me that, in French, the Parisian accent is rather “proper”, so in a way the use of an equivalent English accent wasn’t out of place.

As said above, I really like Simenon’s writing, especially the “mental” aspects of his stories, and although TV adaptions often don’t reflect the essence of the written works, I felt that this wasn’t an issue here and in fact this show captured Simenon’s writing very well.   The fact that the show lasted 90 minutes allowed adequate time for this to occur.

Unfortunately, from what I can see in the Wikipedia entry, there are only four episodes in the series.  I’ll be looking out for the remaining episodes.


The Carter of La Providence

Penguin are re-translating and re-publishing Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret series, but  the only one of the new series I’ve yet seen is The Carter of La Providence (perhaps I haven’t been looking hard enough?).   This indeed is a fascinating book.  It revolves around life on the French canals in the late 1920s, often in bleak conditions, complete with horse drawn barges, the “carters” (horse handlers), the locks and lock-keepers, the congestion, the cafes that served the people working on the barges and lots more.   Apparently Simenon spent six months in 1928 navigating the rivers and canals of France, on board his own boat, and his experiences clearly shine through in this book.

img_0070aHere, who “dunnit” is no surprise, because the title of the book says it all.    Like many of Simenon’s Maigret books, the plot is rather far-fetched, but the writing is great and Maigret’s methods and persistence make for interesting reading!