Sunday, 19 February 2006

Mousetrap - 41

In the beginning was the word
The Wordplay Website
The first sites were all words. Most of us till experience the Internet primarily via text. Add to that the fact that the web started out in the English-speaking world, and that the most represented language is still this notoriously quirky language, and it isn’t surprising that there are so very many sites that pay homage to the word in English. This site features “over 500 pages of word puzzles, games, amazing lists, and fun facts.” Play with their Anagram Generator, explore Palindromes, Spoonerisms, Pangrams, Malapropisms, and much, much more. Do see my personal favourite, Tom Swifties. BTW, there’s even a section called Net Lingua. Invaluable, IMHO, for those of you who find web argot incomprehensible.

Site of record
Internet Indian History Sourcebook
Part of a larger set called the Internet History Sourcebooks Project, that is one of those old-fashioned – in web years – labours of love. It is information presented freely, profusely referenced and linked, combining piles of original texts, translations, and links to other sites. Objectivity test? It links also to ‘nationalist’ sites, with a caveeat. Definitely worth your while whether you’re a student, teacher, researcher or plain old dilettante. Or a textbook re-writer in search of stuff to rant about / copy from.

Objects of affection
Mail Order Mysteries
If you grew up with a generous helping of American culture in the form of comic books, you may have also grown up with a hankering for the stuff advertised in those tiny ads in the back pages. The ones that promised you X-ray vision, spectacles that let you see behind you, magic tricks, fake dog turds and the like. This site lets you revisit those ads and those products. Warning: much disillusionment may result. Because it also tells you what the catch was with all that exotic stuff. Compensation: Move a step upwards in the site’s navigation, and there’s lots of other retro stuff for you to get nostalgic about.

This day, that year
ANYDAY Today-in-History
Pick a month, pick a day, hit the button. You get a massive listing of historical events (with a bit of a Western tilt), anniversaries and birth and death days of famous people. After you’ve checked out your own birthday (yes, no shame to that, everyone does, I share mine with Edison, Sheryl Crow and Archie Andrews), you could go look up some other stuff to make for interesting cards, trivia and just plain bugging your pals.


This week’s blog

By meter only
Hailing (heh) from the other side of the border, this blog started out with a wonderful idea: collecting and featuring the poetry, phrases, expressions, and words found on the back of rickshaws. There’s the expected mix, from the lyrical to the funny, and there are contributions from all over the subcontinent, not just Pakistan. Cool stuff, yes. But the bummer is the site’s owner seems to have lost interest some time after being featured in a popular Pakistani internet magazine many months ago. Pity. I never have luck with rickshaws.

Reader suggestions welcome, and will be acknowledged. Go to for past columns, and to comment, or mail The writer blogs at

Published in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, 19th February, 2006.

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