Monthly Archives: December 2017


27 December 2017

Never fire a laser at a mirror.

Larry Niven

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27 December 2017

xkcd strikes again.

Link to xkcd


Forget Me Not

27 December 2017
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From Medium:

Tokyo is a hive of networking events. Every week is a flood of art exhibitions, start-up conferences, developer meetings, product launches, and career meet-ups. Recently, I’ve attended quite a few.

Sometimes, if I’m lucky, a person will recognize me and say hello. Little interactions like this make me feel warm inside. I feel like I’m making my way in the world.

“Oh, you’re that writer Trent told me about,” people say. “I love that story you wrote about escalators.”


“Yes, yes. Quite wonderful. Very thoughtful. And you also write about tea, is that right?”


“Of course, yes. Amazing places, tea houses. Such culture in this city. I love your work.”

But as much as I enjoy occasional recognition, more often than not I simply watch people and try not to look awkward. Sometimes people introduce me to their friends like a novelty pet — ‘he wrote a story about cats!’ — and we have short, forgettable conversations.

Coming to these events has made me realize that something about me is, ultimately, forgettable. People sometimes remember my work, but they very rarely remember who wrote it.

. . . .

The people who have forgotten you tend to feel terrible, but your very reminder reinforces the fact you’re a nobody.

After all, if you weren’t, they would have remembered you.

I struggled with this for a time. I enjoyed being awkward at networking parties, but I didn’t like having to reintroduce myself multiple times.

So, I began introducing myself as a new person each time somebody forgot me.

In this way, I became Casey Brewster, freelance photographer and part-time cellist, and Bradley Ternminster, soundscape artist and web-designer. I was a film director and a surfing aficionado, and a DJ on a tourist visa espousing monk-like austerity. Occasionally, I also brewed craft beer and translated Japanese into Latin for the wealthy.

Link to the rest at Medium

Amazon Celebrates Biggest Holiday

26 December 2017

From the Amazon Press Room:

 Amazon celebrated its biggest holiday season with customers all around the world shopping at record levels. Prime membership continued to grow this holiday – in fact, in one week alone, more than four million people started Prime free trials or began paid memberships, to benefit from free two-day, one-day or same-day shipping, in addition to ultra-fast one and two hour delivery with Prime Now.

. . . .

More than one billion items were ordered from small businesses and entrepreneurs worldwide this season – and over just five days, from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, nearly 140 million items were ordered from small businesses and entrepreneurs.

. . . .

Echo Dot and Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote were not only the top-selling Amazon devices this holiday season, but they were also the best-selling products from any manufacturer in any category across all of Amazon.

. . . .

  • It was a record holiday shopping season for Amazon Devices, with millions more devices purchased worldwide this year than last year’s holiday season.
  • This holiday season was better than ever for the family of Echo products. The Echo Dot was the #1 selling Amazon Device this holiday season, and the best-selling product from any manufacturer in any category across all of Amazon, with millions sold.
  • Customers purchased more than twice as many Amazon Fire TV Sticks compared to last year’s holiday season. Fire TV continues to be the #1 streaming media player family in the U.S., U.K., Germany, and Japan, across all retailers.
  • It was the best holiday season ever for Fire Kids Edition Tablets with 2.4x as many devices purchased from compared to the same time period last year.
  • Echo devices have been an extremely popular gift this year, with Echo Spot, Echo Dot and Echo Buttons selling out this holiday season; customers can still pre-order to reserve their place in line and orders will be filled on a first come, first served basis.
  • This year, Kindle celebrated its 10th holiday season.
  • This holiday, millions of Prime members voice shopped with Alexa for gifts, Amazon devices and everyday household essentials. The most popular items purchased by voice were the Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote and TP-Link Smart Plug Mini.
  • Alexa helped mix tens of thousands of cocktails this holiday season with Martini and Manhattan being the most requested drinks.
  • The recipe for chocolate chip cookies was the most requested recipe this holiday season.
  • The most requested song from Alexa customers this holiday season was “Jingle Bells.”
  • Customers asked Alexa for cooking related advice more than 9x as much this year compared to last holiday season.

. . . .

  • Across North America and the Europe, associates at 10 fulfillment centers picked, packed, and shipped more than one million customer packages in a single day.
  • Amazon’s peak day of customer fulfillment in 2017 was December 19, 2017.
  • In 2017, we increased the size of our fulfillment and shipping network by more than 30% in square footage worldwide.
  • In the U.S., more than 6,000 trailers and 32 Amazon Air planes helped get holiday orders to customers this season.
  • Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Amazon Air carried enough packages to equal over a billion Echo Dots.

. . . .

  • Amazon’s Treasure Truck fleet and festively wrapped Amazon semi-trucks made special deliveries as part of Amazon’s “Delivering Smiles” holiday tour. Together, the trucks stopped in over 30 communities where Amazon employees live and work, donating thousands of items including STEM toys, books, devices, and household essentials to women, children, and families in immediate need. At the end of the tour, Amazon donated $1 for every mile the trucks traveled to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

. . . .

  •  Listeners wanted to slow down and unwind this season, asking Alexa to play “relaxing” music more than any other mood through Amazon Music.
  • Listeners in New York, Seattle, Chicago, Houston and San Diego streamed more holiday songs on Amazon Music via Alexa, than any other cities in the U.S.
  • Christmas by Michael Bublé was once again the most played album on Amazon Music during the holiday season.
  • “All I want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey held the top spot for the most streamed holiday song on Amazon Music for the second year in a row.

. . . .

  • The most-read Kindle book in Amazon First Reads in 2017 was, Beneath A Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan.
  • The best-selling and most-listened-to audiobook of 2017 was The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson, narrated by Roger Wayne.
  • The most-listened-to fiction audiobook of 2017 was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale.
  • The most-commented-on audiobook of 2017 was Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, narrated by the author.
  • According to Amazon Charts, the most read and most gifted Kindle book in the U.S. this holiday season was OriginA Novel by Dan Brown.
  • According to Amazon Charts, the top book Kindle readers in the U.S. found ‘Unputdownable’ this holiday season was Year One: Chronicles of the One, Book 1 by Nora Roberts, reading it cover-to-cover faster than other books.
  • According to Amazon Charts, the Most Wished For books of 2017 in the U.S. were: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil Degrasse Tyson, and Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari.
  • Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale was the most borrowed book from Prime Reading, worldwide, in 2017.
  • Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook by Laurel Randolph, independently published through Kindle Direct Publishing, has been topping Amazon Charts throughout the holiday season – reaching #1 on the most sold non-fiction list the week of Cyber Monday.

. . . .

  • Across Amazon Books’ 13 bookstores, the top selling nonfiction book was Obama: An Intimate Portrait by Pete Souza; the top selling fiction book was Origin by Dan Brown; the top selling kids book was Diary of a Wimpy Kid #12, The Getaway by Jeff Kinney; and, the top selling poetry book was the sun and her flowers by Rumi Kaur.
  • Across Amazon Books’ 13 bookstores, one out of seven customers who purchased a book also donated a children’s book to local charities supporting children in need. The top selling book given to local charities was the classic, Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman; it was also the top selling book across all 13 stores.
  • The Echo Dot was the top-selling device across Amazon Books’ 13 stores; the Kindle Paperwhite was the best-selling Kindle; the TP-Link Smart Plug was the best-selling accessory; and WowWee Fingerlings were the top selling toy.
  • The best-selling kitchen item in the U.S. and worldwide was the Instant Pot DUO80.
  • The best-selling toy and game item in the U.S. was the Nerf N-Strike Elite Strongarm Blaster, while the best-selling toy and game item worldwide was What Do You Meme? Adult Party Game.
  • The best-selling smart home product in the U.S. and worldwide was the TP-Link Smart Plug.

Link to the rest at Amazon Press Room

Review: When Barbie Went to War

26 December 2017

From The Wall Street Journal:

Like Condoleezza Rice, Ivanka Trump and Michelle Obama, Orly Lobel played with Barbie dolls when she was growing up. “Fortunately,” writes the San Diego law professor in her new book, “I was also encouraged to challenge the distorted realities of Barbie’s world.”

No toy has been deconstructed so thoroughly as Mattel Inc.’s iconic plastic doll. But Ms. Lobel’s “You Don’t Own Me” is something different. The world that she explores is not a dollhouse but a courthouse. Her brisk and engaging book chronicles the decadelong copyright clash between Mattel and MGA Entertainment Inc., an upstart rival that had a mega-hit with its “Bratz” doll line but that was nearly obliterated by Mattel’s scorched-earth legal offensive. Journalists tend to overuse words like “war” when writing about lawsuits. But if ever there were an example of a civil dispute meriting military metaphors, it is Mattel vs. MGA. According to Ms. Lobel, the combined legal expenses of the battle went north of $600 million.

Like Condoleezza Rice, Ivanka Trump and Michelle Obama, Orly Lobel played with Barbie dolls when she was growing up. “Fortunately,” writes the San Diego law professor in her new book, “I was also encouraged to challenge the distorted realities of Barbie’s world.”

No toy has been deconstructed so thoroughly as Mattel Inc.’s iconic plastic doll. But Ms. Lobel’s “You Don’t Own Me” is something different. The world that she explores is not a dollhouse but a courthouse. Her brisk and engaging book chronicles the decadelong copyright clash between Mattel and MGA Entertainment Inc., an upstart rival that had a mega-hit with its “Bratz” doll line but that was nearly obliterated by Mattel’s scorched-earth legal offensive. Journalists tend to overuse words like “war” when writing about lawsuits. But if ever there were an example of a civil dispute meriting military metaphors, it is Mattel vs. MGA. According to Ms. Lobel, the combined legal expenses of the battle went north of $600 million.

. . . .

While Mattel churned out lawsuits, plucky MGA and its Iranian Jewish chief executive shook up the toy industry in 2001 with its Bratz dolls: cute, wide-eyed, large-headed new girls on the block, with ethnic identities and a sexualized, urban style that made Barbie seem like an outdated Sandra Dee. Bratz dolls drove parents crazy, but kids were crazy for them. When word got out that the dolls were the brainchild of Carter Bryant, a former Mattel designer who had defected to MGA, Mattel executives went nuclear. They alleged that Mattel was the owner of Mr. Bryant’s prototype doll-design drawings and the “sculpt” on which the Bratz dolls were based. Mattel sought monetary damages of close to $2 billion.

. . . .

The libertarian Judge Kozinski “was rather comfortable with contractual expansion over employee creativity, provided it was drafted diligently,” writes Ms. Lobel, but “he was far more suspicious of wholesale copyright protection.” In his 2010 opinion reversing the verdict against MGA, Judge Kozinski wrote that, whatever Mr. Bryant’s employment agreement with Mattel, the company “can’t claim a monopoly over fashion dolls with a bratty look or attitude, or dolls sporting trendy clothing—these are all unprotectable ideas.” MGA went on to win a retrial, then grabbed the upper hand by exposing how dirty Mattel had played, claiming (in still pending) litigation that Mattel used phony IDs and business cards to infiltrate MGA’s private showrooms. Separately, Ms. Lobel says, Mattel spied on its employees’ emails to ferret out disloyalty.

As for the broad lesson of this nasty episode, Ms. Lobel contends that the Mattel vs. MGA case underscores concerns about corporate control over individual creativity. Perhaps. But the book is more compelling as a cautionary tale for dominant companies at the top of the food chain: Don’t lean too heavily on lawsuits to deter smaller rivals rather than investing in original, fresh ideas.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal

PG says intellectual property can become extremely valuable. Be careful with yours.

What Goes Into a Plagiarism Analysis

26 December 2017

From Plagiarism Today:

For my day job, I work as a copyright and plagiarism consultant at my firm CopyByte.

One of the most important parts of that job is performing plagiarism analyses. These are done for a variety of reasons including providing expert witness testimony for court cases, verifying authenticity of a large project, checking a website before sale or even examining a book before publication.

But when I provide a quote for a plagiarism analysis I usually get one of two responses (something many consultants and freelancers can relate to). Either the work is “ridiculously expensive” or “insanely cheap” depending on the person’s perspective.

. . . .

It’s worth noting that there are two kinds of plagiarism analyses. The first is when you’re comparing two or more known works against each other and the second is when you’re trying to determine the originality of an unknown work by comparing it against as much of the world you can.

Both kinds of plagiarism analyses have their challenges, but, generally, it’s easier to start with a handful of known works. This means that some reason to be suspicious has already been discovered and my objective is to see if that suspicion is valid. Since this analysis will happen offline, it’s both faster and cheaper to perform plus we can customize the tools we use to get the best results possible from the automated analysis.

But in both kinds of analyses, a plagiarism checker tool is invaluable. Without the technology, it’s unlikely that this job would even be possible on the scale I have to do it. However, all plagiarism checkers have the same limitation: They detect matching words, not actual plagiarism.

. . . .

Once run through the software, what we have isn’t a report of all of the plagiarism in the work, but of all the duplicative text that the checker found.

Even in a work completely free of plagiarism, we expect a certain percentage to be marked by a plagiarism checker. A 0% finding is often just as suspicious as a 100% finding.

Because of that, it’s important to go through the work and look at the passages involved. Longer passages obviously get attention first simply because they are the easiest to either dismiss or confirm as plagiarism. However, shorter passages have to be checked too because they can indicate poor paraphrasing or an attempt to mask copying.

Link to the rest at Plagiarism Today

Show me

26 December 2017
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Show me a completely smooth operation and I’ll show you someone who’s covering mistakes. Real boats rock.

Frank Herbert

But will the engine turn over?

26 December 2017

PG hopes that everyone had a lovely break (or continues to be having a lovely break).

Christmas at Casa PG was wonderful and active. Excited children definitely increase the energy level around the place and PG enjoyed that a lot. He predicts each member of his posterity will be a world-class sprinter, decathlete or smuggler.

One of the principles that applies to great art of all types is contrast. Light and dark, tension and release, etc. Thus, the silence at Casa PG seems even more profound this morning with the absence of pitter-pattering little feet.

Following an extra-long night of sleep, PG is trying to rally each of his little gray cells to the tasks of the day with only limited success.

PG received the hardcover version of The Landmark Julius Caesar: The Complete Works: Gallic War, Civil War, Alexandrian War, African War, and Spanish War as one of his gifts. Based on his reading so far, it is a quite excellent book.

Julius Caesar might have been on Winston Churchill’s mind when he said, “History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.”

(PG found one commentator who says that aforementioned quote of Churchill’s is (ironically) not historically correct. According to this commentator, the correct version is, “For my part, I consider that it will be found much better by all Parties to leave the past to history, especially as I propose to write that history.” PG wouldn’t be surprised if Churchill made both statements.)

While PG is an enthusiastic convert to ebooks, the absence of an ebook version of this thoroughly magisterial work was fortunate.

At 896 pages printed on high-quality paper, the physical presence of this book is imposing. It is clearly not a fluttery little time-waster. (The Introduction is LXIII pages long.)

Here is a screen shot of the preview of the first page (note both footnotes and sidenotes!):



Latin scholars may take issue with the English translation of Caesar’s simple and direct first line, “Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres,” but to those scholars, PG says, “Cucurbita! Write your own 896 page book, then.”

When one is lying in bed with this book propped on one’s chest, the presence of the greatest of Caesars is palpable. One can almost imagine being a defeated Gaul with Caesar’s foot planted triumphantly in a pose for the ages.


It was so light that he could see the moonlight reflected from the metal harness disks

25 December 2017

The mummers (some of the house serfs) dressed up as bears, Turks,
innkeepers, and ladies–frightening and funny–bringing in with them the
cold from outside and a feeling of gaiety, crowded, at first timidly,
into the anteroom, then hiding behind one another they pushed into
the ballroom where, shyly at first and then more and more merrily and
heartily, they started singing, dancing, and playing Christmas games.
The countess, when she had identified them and laughed at their
costumes, went into the drawing room. The count sat in the ballroom,
smiling radiantly and applauding the players. The young people had

Half an hour later there appeared among the other mummers in the
ballroom an old lady in a hooped skirt–this was Nicholas. A Turkish
girl was Petya. A clown was Dimmler. An hussar was Natasha, and a
Circassian was Sonya with burnt-cork mustache and eyebrows.

After the condescending surprise, nonrecognition, and praise, from those
who were not themselves dressed up, the young people decided that their
costumes were so good that they ought to be shown elsewhere.

Nicholas, who, as the roads were in splendid condition, wanted to take
them all for a drive in his troyka, proposed to take with them about a
dozen of the serf mummers and drive to “Uncle’s.”

“No, why disturb the old fellow?” said the countess. “Besides, you
wouldn’t have room to turn round there. If you must go, go to the

Melyukova was a widow, who, with her family and their tutors and
governesses, lived three miles from the Rostovs.

“That’s right, my dear,” chimed in the old count, thoroughly aroused.
“I’ll dress up at once and go with them. I’ll make Pashette open her

But the countess would not agree to his going; he had had a bad leg all
these last days. It was decided that the count must not go, but that
if Louisa Ivanovna (Madame Schoss) would go with them, the young ladies
might go to the Melyukovs’, Sonya, generally so timid and shy, more
urgently than anyone begging Louisa Ivanovna not to refuse.

Sonya’s costume was the best of all. Her mustache and eyebrows were
extraordinarily becoming. Everyone told her she looked very handsome,
and she was in a spirited and energetic mood unusual with her. Some
inner voice told her that now or never her fate would be decided, and
in her male attire she seemed quite a different person. Louisa Ivanovna
consented to go, and in half an hour four troyka sleighs with large and
small bells, their runners squeaking and whistling over the frozen snow,
drove up to the porch.

Natasha was foremost in setting a merry holiday tone, which, passing
from one to another, grew stronger and reached its climax when they all
came out into the frost and got into the sleighs, talking, calling to
one another, laughing, and shouting.

Two of the troykas were the usual household sleighs, the third was
the old count’s with a trotter from the Orlov stud as shaft horse,
the fourth was Nicholas’ own with a short shaggy black shaft horse.
Nicholas, in his old lady’s dress over which he had belted his hussar
overcoat, stood in the middle of the sleigh, reins in hand.

It was so light that he could see the moonlight reflected from the metal
harness disks and from the eyes of the horses, who looked round in alarm
at the noisy party under the shadow of the porch roof.

Natasha, Sonya, Madame Schoss, and two maids got into Nicholas’ sleigh;
Dimmler, his wife, and Petya, into the old count’s, and the rest of the
mummers seated themselves in the other two sleighs.

“You go ahead, Zakhar!” shouted Nicholas to his father’s coachman,
wishing for a chance to race past him.

The old count’s troyka, with Dimmler and his party, started forward,
squeaking on its runners as though freezing to the snow, its deep-toned
bell clanging. The side horses, pressing against the shafts of the
middle horse, sank in the snow, which was dry and glittered like sugar,
and threw it up.

Nicholas set off, following the first sleigh; behind him the others
moved noisily, their runners squeaking. At first they drove at a steady
trot along the narrow road. While they drove past the garden the shadows
of the bare trees often fell across the road and hid the brilliant
moonlight, but as soon as they were past the fence, the snowy plain
bathed in moonlight and motionless spread out before them glittering
like diamonds and dappled with bluish shadows. Bang, bang! went the
first sleigh over a cradle hole in the snow of the road, and each of
the other sleighs jolted in the same way, and rudely breaking the
frost-bound stillness, the troykas began to speed along the road, one
after the other.

“A hare’s track, a lot of tracks!” rang out Natasha’s voice through the
frost-bound air.

“How light it is, Nicholas!” came Sonya’s voice.

Nicholas glanced round at Sonya, and bent down to see her face closer.
Quite a new, sweet face with black eyebrows and mustaches peeped up at
him from her sable furs–so close and yet so distant–in the moonlight.

“That used to be Sonya,” thought he, and looked at her closer and

“What is it, Nicholas?”

“Nothing,” said he and turned again to the horses.

When they came out onto the beaten highroad–polished by sleigh runners
and cut up by rough-shod hoofs, the marks of which were visible in the
moonlight–the horses began to tug at the reins of their own accord and
increased their pace. The near side horse, arching his head and breaking
into a short canter, tugged at his traces. The shaft horse swayed from
side to side, moving his ears as if asking: “Isn’t it time to begin
now?” In front, already far ahead the deep bell of the sleigh ringing
farther and farther off, the black horses driven by Zakhar could be
clearly seen against the white snow. From that sleigh one could hear the
shouts, laughter, and voices of the mummers.

“Gee up, my darlings!” shouted Nicholas, pulling the reins to one side
and flourishing the whip.

It was only by the keener wind that met them and the jerks given by the
side horses who pulled harder–ever increasing their gallop–that one
noticed how fast the troyka was flying. Nicholas looked back. With
screams squeals, and waving of whips that caused even the shaft horses
to gallop–the other sleighs followed. The shaft horse swung steadily
beneath the bow over its head, with no thought of slackening pace and
ready to put on speed when required.

Nicholas overtook the first sleigh. They were driving downhill and
coming out upon a broad trodden track across a meadow, near a river.

“Where are we?” thought he. “It’s the Kosoy meadow, I suppose. But
no–this is something new I’ve never seen before. This isn’t the Kosoy
meadow nor the Demkin hill, and heaven only knows what it is! It is
something new and enchanted. Well, whatever it may be…” And shouting
to his horses, he began to pass the first sleigh.

Zakhar held back his horses and turned his face, which was already
covered with hoarfrost to his eyebrows.

Nicholas gave the horses the rein, and Zakhar, stretching out his arms,
clucked his tongue and let his horses go.

“Now, look out, master!” he cried.

Faster still the two troykas flew side by side, and faster moved the
feet of the galloping side horses. Nicholas began to draw ahead. Zakhar,
while still keeping his arms extended, raised one hand with the reins.

“No you won’t, master!” he shouted.

Nicholas put all his horses to a gallop and passed Zakhar. The horses
showered the fine dry snow on the faces of those in the sleigh–beside
them sounded quick ringing bells and they caught confused glimpses of
swiftly moving legs and the shadows of the troyka they were passing.
The whistling sound of the runners on the snow and the voices of girls
shrieking were heard from different sides.

Again checking his horses, Nicholas looked around him. They were still
surrounded by the magic plain bathed in moonlight and spangled with

“Zakhar is shouting that I should turn to the left, but why to the
left?” thought Nicholas. “Are we getting to the Melyukovs’? Is this
Melyukovka? Heaven only knows where we are going, and heaven knows what
is happening to us–but it is very strange and pleasant whatever it is.”
And he looked round in the sleigh.

“Look, his mustache and eyelashes are all white!” said one of the
strange, pretty, unfamiliar people–the one with fine eyebrows and

“I think this used to be Natasha,” thought Nicholas, “and that was
Madame Schoss, but perhaps it’s not, and this Circassian with the
mustache I don’t know, but I love her.”

“Aren’t you cold?” he asked.

They did not answer but began to laugh. Dimmler from the sleigh behind
shouted something–probably something funny–but they could not make out
what he said.

“Yes, yes!” some voices answered, laughing.

“But here was a fairy forest with black moving shadows, and a glitter
of diamonds and a flight of marble steps and the silver roofs of fairy
buildings and the shrill yells of some animals. And if this is really
Melyukovka, it is still stranger that we drove heaven knows where and
have come to Melyukovka,” thought Nicholas.

It really was Melyukovka, and maids and footmen with merry faces came
running, out to the porch carrying candles.

“Who is it?” asked someone in the porch.

“The mummers from the count’s. I know by the horses,” replied some

Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

A greater fool than Jane Eyre had never breathed the breath of life

25 December 2017

“You saw her, you say, Mrs. Fairfax: what was she like?”

“Yes, I saw her. The dining-room doors were thrown open; and, as it was
Christmas-time, the servants were allowed to assemble in the hall, to
hear some of the ladies sing and play. Mr. Rochester would have me to
come in, and I sat down in a quiet corner and watched them. I never saw
a more splendid scene: the ladies were magnificently dressed; most of
them–at least most of the younger ones–looked handsome; but Miss Ingram
was certainly the queen.”

“And what was she like?”

“Tall, fine bust, sloping shoulders; long, graceful neck: olive
complexion, dark and clear; noble features; eyes rather like Mr.
Rochester’s: large and black, and as brilliant as her jewels. And then
she had such a fine head of hair; raven-black and so becomingly arranged:
a crown of thick plaits behind, and in front the longest, the glossiest
curls I ever saw. She was dressed in pure white; an amber-coloured scarf
was passed over her shoulder and across her breast, tied at the side, and
descending in long, fringed ends below her knee. She wore an
amber-coloured flower, too, in her hair: it contrasted well with the
jetty mass of her curls.”

“She was greatly admired, of course?”

“Yes, indeed: and not only for her beauty, but for her accomplishments.
She was one of the ladies who sang: a gentleman accompanied her on the
piano. She and Mr. Rochester sang a duet.”

“Mr. Rochester? I was not aware he could sing.”

“Oh! he has a fine bass voice, and an excellent taste for music.”

“And Miss Ingram: what sort of a voice had she?”

“A very rich and powerful one: she sang delightfully; it was a treat to
listen to her;–and she played afterwards. I am no judge of music, but
Mr. Rochester is; and I heard him say her execution was remarkably good.”

“And this beautiful and accomplished lady, she is not yet married?”

“It appears not: I fancy neither she nor her sister have very large
fortunes. Old Lord Ingram’s estates were chiefly entailed, and the
eldest son came in for everything almost.”

“But I wonder no wealthy nobleman or gentleman has taken a fancy to her:
Mr. Rochester, for instance. He is rich, is he not?”

“Oh! yes. But you see there is a considerable difference in age: Mr.
Rochester is nearly forty; she is but twenty-five.”

“What of that? More unequal matches are made every day.”

“True: yet I should scarcely fancy Mr. Rochester would entertain an idea
of the sort. But you eat nothing: you have scarcely tasted since you
began tea.”

“No: I am too thirsty to eat. Will you let me have another cup?”

I was about again to revert to the probability of a union between Mr.
Rochester and the beautiful Blanche; but Adele came in, and the
conversation was turned into another channel.

When once more alone, I reviewed the information I had got; looked into
my heart, examined its thoughts and feelings, and endeavoured to bring
back with a strict hand such as had been straying through imagination’s
boundless and trackless waste, into the safe fold of common sense.

Arraigned at my own bar, Memory having given her evidence of the hopes,
wishes, sentiments I had been cherishing since last night–of the general
state of mind in which I had indulged for nearly a fortnight past; Reason
having come forward and told, in her own quiet way a plain, unvarnished
tale, showing how I had rejected the real, and rabidly devoured the
ideal;–I pronounced judgment to this effect:–

That a greater fool than Jane Eyre had never breathed the breath of life;
that a more fantastic idiot had never surfeited herself on sweet lies,
and swallowed poison as if it were nectar.

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

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