October 13, 2014

After this high-level observation of a limitation in Kindle, maybe Amazon will finally help out people like me who do research like this.

The first paragraph of the review of "Gone Girl" in The New Yorker:
The word “marriage” occurs about a hundred times in Gillian Flynn’s novel “Gone Girl”; there are sixty instances of “husband.” “Wife” maxes out the Kindle search feature at a hundred instances in the first hundred and forty-seven pages—that’s just thirty-seven per cent of the book. If there is some way of searching the remaining sixty-three per cent, I haven’t figured it out. I feel certain that she’s there, this “wife,” many more times—but I can’t find her. As sometimes happens, the limitations of the medium amplify the message: wives are people who disappear.
The reviewer Elif Batuman — whose name is an anagram for Mutable Naif and Tubal Famine — turned Kindle's limitation into a neat, context-specific joke. But jokes like this get tired, and the need to count the occurrences of a word in an ebook rages on. Ebook is one of the few words, other than ebola, that begin with "ebo-," and all the others range around ebon — meaning blackebon, ebony, ebonies, ebonize, ebonized, ebonies, ebonics.

So, now, what? How are you hoping this blog post will unfold?

1. I wish it were over already.

2. I hope Althouse finishes reading Elif Batuman's review of "Gone Girl" and probes the intriguing concept "wives are people who disappear."

3. I want closure based on the post title, with a strong, clear message to Amazon that it needs to get its Kindle search tool working beyond 100 hits on a search word.

4. I'd like to see Althouse explore the racial concepts within and around words that begin "ebo-," including the fear of ebola as a fear of black people and this current issue about ebonics and "talking white."

5. I'd like to see Althouse drift into the etymology of "ebon" and use the Oxford English Dictionary to cherry-pick historical iterations like Shakespeare's "Deaths ebon dart" and Longfellow's "From out its ebon case his violin the minstrel drew." She could look for the earliest use of "ebonics" and find it in the NYT in 1973: "Professor Ernie Smith,  a linguistics professor from the University of California... suggested the study of 'ebonics,' which he said viewed the speech patterns of black Americans as they relate to Caribbean and African blacks rather than to white Americans." And she could find the first use of "ebola" and see that it too was in the NYT. The year was 1976, and it was only a brief notation — "The virus responsible for the recent epidemic of green monkey fever that claimed several hundred lives will be known as the Ebola Virus, after a river in the north [of Zaire]" — a virus-small thing next to a huge ad with a white lady laughing in a "cascading" silk gown as an off-frame hand pours champagne into her glass. Oh! The accidental incongruities... and how they seem to amplify the message.

37 comments:

m stone said...

This is how the ADHD mind works.

F said...

Just. Wow.

paminwi said...

I wish it was over. The book was not good and I am sick of hearing about it in any way, shape or form.

uffda said...

6. I wish I could get back the time spent reading this drivel. (And commenting on it.)

Henry said...

Add a hyphen and you have the possibility of e-boat.

E-boat (German: Schnellboot, or S-Boot, meaning "fast boat") was the Western Allies designation for fast attack craft of the Kriegsmarine during World War II. It is commonly held that the British used the term E for Enemy.

Invent an etymology where "e" indicates "enemy" (the way "a" indicates "lack") and all manner of silliness is possible. Atheist is no religion. Etheist is enemy religion. Abook is no book. Ebook is enemy book.

Fernandistein said...

ebo-

Some wag fixed that with "Obola".

Tank said...

6. I wish we could have an Althouse class trip to Barnes and Noble where we would all buy hardcover books at 25% off, thereby saving the bricks and mortar bookstores so they don't disappear.

An Althouse Class Trip would be fun. Or Fu ... un, as they say on Duck Dynasty. Happy happy happy.

FleetUSA said...

I'll go with #1. This is more tech-speak searching. Boring to go on for too long.

Lyle said...

Raising children is a disappearing event?

Anonymous said...

Social Ebolution, or How the Black Community Has Grown in a White Supremacy.

tim in vermont said...

OK, you have me sold on the OED.

As for a more robust search capability in Kindle.. Oversight or evil marketing plan?

JackWayne said...

I'd like to see Althouse transmute ebon into bone - and then pick one with Amazon.

LuAnn Zieman said...

We just returned from a trip in which we met up with our son and daughter-in-law, who had read "Gone Girl" together and wanted to see the movie. We did. My husband was convinced by the opening scene that it would be a porno film, as he called it. I thought that the story line was unconvincing and the ending was horrible. That's my critique, having never read the book, and having no intention of doing so.

John Lynch said...

What a lot of upper-middle class angst.

Don't want to get married? Then don't get married!

Marriage norms still exist for people in the top quintile, and boy are they mad about it.

Wince said...

Amazon will have to come out with the Obama -- or "Ebama" version of the Kindle e-reader when he releases his memoir after leaving office.

Not so much to count the abundant use of the word "I" anymore, but the word "they".

Speaking of fear, notice it's the Democrats who are trying to blame Republicans for Ebola for political advantage.

And perhaps the first use of the "e"- prefix as an abbreviation?

The EBow or ebow (brand name for "Electronic Bow" or Energy Bow) is a hand-held, battery-powered electronic device for playing the electric guitar, invented by Greg Heet in 1969. Instead of having the strings hit by the fingers or a pick, they are moved by the electromagnetic field created by the device, producing a sound reminiscent of using a bow on the strings.

"Tastes like fear, pulls us near"

Ebow the Letter

Aluminum, tastes like fear
Adrenaline, it pulls us near
I'll take you over take you there
It tastes like fear
It pulls us near
I'll take you over take you there
I'll take you over
It tastes like fear, there
It pulls us near
Pulls us near
Tastes like fear
Tastes like fear

Bobber Fleck said...

This topic is one of the reasons why many people decide to leave graduate school and seek a life in the real world.

Wince said...

Here's the Democrat's ad that blames the Republicans for the NIH not finding a cure for Ebola.

"How To Do It"

Michael said...

Back in the 1960s I had my black students write out a list of terms that they used in their everyday communications, language they insisted was common to African Americans. I had a friend who taught at a black high school in California and he asked his students to do the same thing. We swapped. Neither group could fully get the meaning of the terms.

This was pre-ebonics and was aimed more at vocabulary than grammar but it was instructive. The idea that ebonics migrated from the Caribbean to inner city schools on the California coast was, and is, nonsense.

cubanbob said...

A review by an anagram of two joke names passes as something serious in the New Yorker and our hostess is nearly OCD on this. It tells a lot not only about her but about us her readers although I'm not sure I want to know it tells us.

David said...

I still think Im Ebow would make a good NFL quarterback. But not in the T formation.

Unknown said...

Have you been drinking or traveling to Colorado again?

Ann Althouse said...

"I'd like to see Althouse transmute ebon into bone - and then pick one with Amazon."

I thought there might be an etymological connection between ebon and bone, but there isn't. Bone has a German lineage, going back to words for the leg bone, and ebon/ebony comes through the Latin line, and originated with the tree that has black wood.

The connection seemed plausible to me in part because of the artist's pigment bone black:

"Bone black is blue-black in color and fairly smooth in texture and also denser than lamp black. It contains about 10% carbon, 84% calcium phosphate and 6 % calcium carbonate. It is made from charring of bones or waste ivory. It was used from prehistory and it is in use until today. Ivory Black is therefore the least pure form of carbon black, containing a high percentage of calcium phosphate….

"Studies of several paintings by Rembrandt using the technique of neutron activation autoradiography have shown the widespread use of the bone black in the initial wash-like sketch over the ground layer. Unusually, unmixed bone black pigment was used to paint the darkest parts of the clothing in the portrait of Phillips Lucasz."

Ann Althouse said...

"Have you been drinking or traveling to Colorado again?"

Those who connect thought patterns like this to the use of substances unwittingly provide evidence of the dull, well-worn ruts of their own minds.

Ann Althouse said...

That said, it's marijuana day in conlaw.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Hey, buy the book and count the damn words, you lazy writer. Ooh, you expect someone else to do the work for you? Sorry, you're right, you're entitled to that for some reason. Probably because you write for the Times.

amr said...

Suggested Tag: Choose your own adventure.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ebo = Ibo = Igbo, a large and important ethnic group in Africa. The African characters in Things Fall Apart were Ibo.
Has your privilege been checked today?

The Crack Emcee said...

This ebony man's experience is not "wives are people who disappear" but wives are people who lie, cheat, and kill, before disappearing.

With the blessing of every woman I know.

Just don't rock the boat,...

mikee said...

Only in leftist progressive thought can overloading a measuring system be considered the same as disappearing.

Johanna Lapp said...

I scrolled right past to the premeditated murder post. It's quite good, so I came back here ro recommend you browser's BACK button.

Beldar said...

I agree re the Kindle's limitations.

I wonder if you could get around them by using a different e-book viewer (e.g., Kindle's own app for web browsers, or the various public-domain or shareware e-reader packages)? This seems like the sort of hard-coded limitation which would have been designed to protect the Kindle's comparatively limited RAM. I wonder if it's as necessary for the newer Kindle models with beefier microprocessors? It should be the kind of thing which they could change with a software or firmware update.

Beldar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Don't really care, but there are several free software packages that will convert between ereader formats, some of which have broader search capabilities. (Some will even put it in pdf.)

Unknown said...

re 10/13/14, 11:32 AM AA comment:

Those who connect thought patterns like this to the use of substances are remembering the pat vaguely.

I was deeply inebriated when I saw "500 Motels." At the midnight movies.

Ann Althouse said...

"I agree re the Kindle's limitations.

"I wonder if you could get around them by using a different e-book viewer (e.g., Kindle's own app for web browsers, or the various public-domain or shareware e-reader packages)?"

No, because I do use the Kindle app on my powerful desktop (and in my iPad). The limitation is still there.

"This seems like the sort of hard-coded limitation which would have been designed to protect the Kindle's comparatively limited RAM. I wonder if it's as necessary for the newer Kindle models with beefier microprocessors? It should be the kind of thing which they could change with a software or firmware update.""

I hope they do!

Rusty said...

Maybe you better have someboday drive you home after.

Bad Lieutenant said...

1a. Please shut up. Please.