The things that turn up in the garbage on April Fool’s day: Tagore’s missing Nobel medal has been found in a dustbin, according to this story. Not a very funny joke, and I hereby warn Mid-day that they will be spammed by a hundred irate Bengalis. Not me; I just get spammed a lot myself by a hundred irate Bengalis (yeah, yeah, the same guys each time), so I know.

Euphemism of the day: “visa misunderstanding”.

“But the hallmark of a good bookshop is the way it knows what its readers want, and so has those books upfront. Then you are not searching for you don?t know what, but discovering layers upon layers of just what you were looking for. And if the shop itself covers a tidy area then there are that many more subject areas to be delved into.” Subir Roy on Bangalore’s bookshops.

“Color lexicons vary, first of all, in sheer size: English has 11 basic terms, Russian and Hungarian have 12, yet the New Guinean language Dani has just two. One of the two encompasses black, green, blue and other ‘cool’ colors; the other encompasses white, red, yellow and other ‘warm’ colors. Those languages with only three terms almost always have ‘black-cool,’ ‘white-light’ and ‘red-yellow-warm.’ Those having a fourth usually carve out ‘grue’ [green-blue] from the ‘black-cool’ term.” Why the number of colours a language can express is important. (Link via 2Blowhards.)

Pollack is back.

The Babu regrets he’s taken so long to link to The Literary Dick, which is fast becoming one of my favourite sites. The LD welcomes questions about literary mysteries and scandals. He’s done a lot on Henry James, has investigated the question of whether Proust was gay (not enough evidence, but it is true that Proust’s father sent him to a brothel to cure his masturbatory habits), and right now he’s examining the relationship between Dickens and the author’s wife’s sister. Jonathan Ames, thank you for brightening my week.

And several people pointed out that I missed the Sven Birkets piece on the book reviewing culture. “Psychologically it is a landscape subtly demoralized by the slash-and-burn of bottom-line economics; the modernist/humanist assumption of art and social criticism marching forward, leading the way, has not recovered from the wholesale flight of academia into theory; the publishing world remains tyrannized in acquisition, marketing, and sales by the mentality of the blockbuster; the confident authority of print journalism has been challenged by the proliferation of online alternatives.”

The only thing bigger than the Babu’s mouth (and the feet he frequently puts there for safekeeping) is his paunch. I’ve been considering various diets after giving up on exercise (it works; my muscles get bigger and bigger, unfortunately so does my appetite), and finally came across one that sounds good.

From Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand, this is the unofficial Jockey’s Diet:

There’s fasting: “Most jockeys took a more straightforward approach: the radical diet, consisting of six hundred calories a day… Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons confessed that during his riding days a typical dinner consisted of a leaf or two of lettuce, and he would eat them only after placing them on a windowsill to dry the water out of them…”

There’s bulimia, recognised on the track long before it became a fashionable teenager disease: “Many riders were “heavers”, poking their fingers down their throats to vomit up their meals.”

There’s laxatives: “Helen Luther once watched a rider step on a scale, only to see that he was over his horse’s assigned impost. He shouted to the clerk of scales to hang on, raced to the bathroom, emerged a moment later with his pants still at half mast, and made weight. Such results could be had from a variety of products, including a stomach-turning mix of Epsom salts and water–chased by two fingers of rye to stop the gagging reflex–a plant-derived purgative called jalap, or bottles of a wretched-tasting formula known as Pluto Water.”

And there’s the method of last resort: “Contact the right people, and you could get hold of a special capsule, a simple pill guaranteed to take off all the weight you wanted. In it was the egg of a tapeworm. Within a short while the parasite would attach to a man’s intestines and slowly suck the nutrients out of him. The pounds would peel away like magic. When the host jockey became too malnourished, he could check into a hospital to have the worm removed, then return to the track and swallow a new pill.”

I dunno. Maybe I should just join one of those I-Love-My-Fat support groups. But do yourself a favour: never, never, search Google for the phrase “I Love Fat”. It’s a very sick world out there.

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