music peevishness

More Obsessiveness: Name That Tune

As a change-up from audiobooks, I’ve lately been listening to a fair number of podcasts. While working my way through the back archives of one show, I was struck by a dreadful piece of synthesized harpsichord music used to introduce one of the segments. That is to say, it was a perfectly pleasant Baroque passage, but the rendering was, well, heinous.

While the synthesis of instruments has greatly advanced since the seventies, the person who coded up that harpsichord wasn’t even trying. Worse, there were some seriously infelicities of timing, where whoever was playing the keyboard had stumbled slightly.

All of the above might be tolerated for a repetition or two, but after the twelfth or so I was contemplating ripping my (or perhaps someone else’s) ears off. Still, distressing as the synth harpsichord was, I had a worse source of dismay: I could not identify the composer.

The piece was extremely familiar, but I couldn’t slot it into any of my memories. Bach? Telemann? It was light and familiar, could it perhaps be Mozart? My recall system was coming up with nothing useful.

Clearly, surfing through PDFs of musical scores was not going to be an efficient system of identification. There’s been quite a bit of work done around automatically identifying particular recordings, such as that which resulted in the unfortunate publicity for the husband of late Joyce Hatto (he had been passing off other artists’ recordings as hers).

Unfortunately, I was working from a one-off synth rendering, so that approach was out. Let’s see, it goes da-da-deedle-DAH-DAH-DAH-dah-dah-dah-dah. What can I do with that?
It turns out, rather a lot. With the right website, you can leverage the memory a melody into an identification. I found two sites that profess to identify music from a few notes: Musipedia and TuneTeller.

Musipedia Interface

I didn’t have good luck with Musipedia, which was far too optimistic in its matching. Its number-one suggestion (“The Poker Party Polka”) was not exactly what I remembered. Nor was it “Blowin’ in the Wind”, nor Verdi, nor Schubert, nor Bartók, nor any of the next fifty suggestions. Musipedia was clearly not going to cut it. I did try some of other forms of searching (contour and rhythm searches) without success. Interestingly, they do have a “sing or whistle” search, but I was disenchanted with Musipedia by that point.

TuneTeller Interface

On the other hand, TuneTeller popped it up on the second try. The first time, it complained because I had entered too much of the melody; it apparently works best with just a few bars. Moments later, I had my answer: it is a minuet by Luigi Boccherini; in fact, just about the only piece he wrote which is still at all well-known.
Boccherini Minuet

Thanks to the Internet, I can sleep at night.

language peevishness

Words and Obsession

If you are at all obsessive, I’m sure you know well the gnawing feeling of dissatisfaction that arises when something just isn’t right. For me, that something is often a problem of knowledge: something I don’t know, something I can’t figure out, or (worst of all) something I’ve forgotten. It can strike without warning, a whim of iron that crowds out all other thought until it is satisifed.

Over time, one develops a pattern of strategies for dealing with the most common of these eventualities. Chief among my precautions, I try to make sure that I’m never more than arm’s length from a dictionary. Even for words I know, I am often seized by the need to verify shades of connotation.

Ah, dictionaries. Having the right edition at hand is indispensable.

I have little good to say about the standard American dictionaries. The glib banalities of Merriam-Webster and American Heritage only reinforce the apathy of most students toward the treasure-house of language. We shall speak of them no more.

More pleasingly, consider the OED. The full, twenty-volume edition is, alas, horrifically expensive and unwieldy. The single-volume, photo-reduced, Compact OED is too crabbed and inacessible to be a pleasure. Don’t get me wrong, you need a copy of the OED, but find yourself a copy of the older, two-volume Compact with only four pages-per-page. Despite its necessity, the OED is not for quick reference; its dark vortex will suck you into the fifty near-variants of a single word, leading to an afternoon of scholarly enjoyment that is incompatible with actually finishing whatever writing task you were previously attempting to complete.

Allow me to commend to you the best single-volume English dictionary for ready reference: the Chambers, which is an unmitigated pleasure. It is accessible, engaging, and playful without sacrificing the richness of linguistic history. Consider, for example, the entry for weasel words:

weasel words plural noun words used to deliberately make statements evasive or misleading.

Etymology: Early 20c: such words suck the meaning out of neighbouring words in the way a weasel sucks the contents out of an egg, leaving the shell empty.

One skates stutteringly through the Chambers, tripping on something interesting a dozen times on your way to your goal, building a ramified stack of serendipitous discoveries to trace down.

A final, minatory note: avoid the disappointments of the Chambers 21st Century Dictionary and the Pocket Chambers. The Chambers 21st Century is sadly vitiated, stripped of the most pleasing archaisms and much of its character. The Pocket Chambers is simply pointless, as it chooses to omit any word for which you might actually need a definition.

computer science mathematics mental exercises

Quickly Convert Binary to Decimal in Your Head

[Update, April 13, 2007: Thanks to Herr Ziffer for catching a confusing typographical error.]

I can’t believe I’d never seen (or figured out) this quick method for converting a binary number to a decimal number in your head. All you need to be able to do is double numbers and occasionally add one.

  1. Start at the first ‘1’ on the left, and start with the mental number one
  2. Move one digit right. If that digit is a zero, multiply your mental number by two. If it is a one, multiply your mental number by two and add one.
  3. Repeat step 2 for every digit of the binary number

Here’s an example. We’ll use the binary number 1101010 1011010:

  • 1011010 – We start at the first one. Our mental total: 1
  • 1011010 – Next digit is a zero; we double our mental number: 1 x 2 = 2.
  • 1011010 – Next digit is a one; we double our mental number and add one: 2 x 2 + 1 = 5
  • 1011010 – Another one; double and add one: 5 x 2 + 1 = 11
  • 1011010 – Zero; double: 11 x 2 = 22
  • 1011010 – One; double and add one: 22 x 2 + 1 = 45
  • 1011010 – And finally a zero; double: 45 x 2 = 90

The rest of this post is a little more technical, so if you glazed over when reading the above, it now may be time to soothe your tired mind.

Discrete finitite automaton to identify binary numbers divisible by threeI happened across this trick while contemplating a three-state discrete finite automaton that identifies binary numbers divisible by three. The automaton starts in state 0, and like the above procedure starts at the left side of the number. The number of the state can be thought of as the remainder of the number as read so far, mod 3. Every time a zero or a one is read, the automaton follows the arrow with that label from its current state. If it ends in state 0, the number is evenly divisible by three. Once I understood why the DFA actually works, the mental calculation became glaringly obvious.

For even more fun, the regular expression (0*(1(01*0)*1)*)* will also match binary numbers divisible by three.

Exciting! Now you have something to talk about the next time you go to a cocktail party.

miscellanea peevishness

The Irrationality of Pi Day


(Update 2007-03-16: See the end for revised time; the chronological calculation should of course be from solstice to solstice, not based on an arbitrary “year”.)

Slashdot just reminded me that March 14 is celebrated as Pi Day. 3/14? How gauche. 1:59pm? Local time?


The commemoration of a transcendental constant should not be tied to the grubby political vagaries that resulted in the Gregorian calendar‘s accidents of number. Even worse, most of the world will write it as 14/3, which seems a bit depressing. (Even if the Europeans go for a Pi Approximation Day on 22 July, it doesn’t really improve matters.)

Those of us who truly appreciate pi should pick a more meaningful moment. There are plenty of candidates.
We’d like this to happen once a year so picking a chronological basis seems reasonable: how about when 1/pi-th of the year has elapsed?

At times like this, I turn to Frink.

> 1 year / pi -> days

So, 116 days after the start of the year? That seems like a good start. Let’s see, as a date, that would be:

> #2007-01-01# + (1 year / pi) -> UTC
AD 2007-04-27 01:14:41.515 PM (Fri) Coordinated Universal Time

Now we’re getting somewhere! Let’s check what this works out to for the East Coast of the US:

> #2007-01-01# + (1 year / pi) -> EST
AD 2007-04-27 08:14:41.515 AM (Fri) Eastern Standard Time

Fair enough. Still, basing it off of the Gregorian New Year still seems pretty absurd. Let’s pick something tied to something observable. The winter solstice seems like a pretty good candidate.

According to the US Naval Observatory, the 2006 winter solstice was at Dec 22 at 00:22 UTC. The table is only accurate to the minute, so (assuming rounding rather than truncation) we’ll have to accept +/- 30 seconds of slop in our calculations.

> # 2006-12-22 12:22 AM UTC # + (1 year / pi) -> UTC
AD 2007-04-17 06:36:41.515 AM (Tue) Coordinated Universal Time
> # 2006-12-22 12:22 AM UTC # + (1 year / pi) -> EST
AD 2007-04-17 01:36:41.515 AM (Tue) Eastern Standard Time

Hm, you could certainly manage a celebratory drink around that time. Sadly, that’s 6 AM in the UK, which is much less congenial; consider scheduling a Pi Day-hangover for that time. On the other hand, it’s 3 PM on Tuesday in Japan.

A possible improvement would be to define the “Pi Point” from the physics of the Earth’s orbit, say, when the Earth has proceeded through 1/pi-th of its path around the Sun. In this case, picking perihelion (the closest approach of the Earth to the Sun) as the starting point would seem to be a good choice. 2007’s perihelion occurred on January 3. The Naval Observatory’s tables are only precise to the hour, so we just know it was sometime around 20:00 UTC.

Earth’s mean orbital velocity is 29.79 km/second. Unfortunately, that’s not enough information. Kepler’s Second Law tells us that the orbital velocity is not constant, and planets move faster while they are closer to the sun. This exceeds my present research . . . working this one out will require some astrophysical chops. (After writing this, I discovered than Wikipedia mentions April 26 as the date when “the distance of the Earth’s orbit divided by the time it has traveled so far is equal to pi”, so I’m not the first to tread these waters.)

For now, though, let us remember: the vulgar Pi Day is meant to deceive, drawing our eyes to the shadows cast by a shallow culture, away from Platonic Truth! Our arbitrary choices have revealed the TRUE Pi Day as April 17, 2007, with the chronosolsticial Pi Point occurring close to 06:36:41 UTC (+/- 30 seconds). Hoist a few pints in its honor; it doesn’t matter how many, as long as it’s a round number and enough to get you feeling a bit irrational.

Updated calculation: Rather than “1 year”, we need to calculate from solstice to solstice. The 2007 winter solstice will be on December 22 at 6:22 UTC. So:

> # 2006-12-22 12:22 AM UTC # + ((#2007-12-22 06:22 AM UTC# - #2006-12-22 12:22 AM#) / pi) -> UTC
AD 2007-04-17 04:26:34.655 AM (Tue) Coordinated Universal Time
> # 2006-12-22 12:22 AM UTC # + ((#2007-12-22 06:22 AM UTC# - #2006-12-22 12:22 AM#) / pi) -> EST
AD 2007-04-16 11:26:34.655 PM (Mon) Eastern Standard Time

Further updates to follow as imperfections are revealed and stripped away.

books reflections

A Time and a Place for Everything

Meiji-era Wooden Squat Toilet M—— often reproves me for a habit she finds reprehensible: reading while in the bathroom. I shall not be moved. The mind can be engaged even as Nature is answered.

Most modern American houses draw the functions of their rooms from a strictly limited palette: the kitchen for cooking and eating, the bedroom for sleeping, the bathroom for ablutions and elimination. Most residences cannot support a library, a room strictly for reading. And why should they? Some of us feel no compunction about reading while eating, while in bed, while in the bath, and (dare I add) while on the toilet. Neurotic mysophobia aside, why not?

After our return from an evening excursion to the local independent bookstore, M—— was aghast when I did not refrain from taking a newly-purchased volume with me for perusal. In my defense, I pointed her to Junichiro Tanizaki’s essay In Praise of Shadows. One must move beyond the automatic cultural associations of the toilet with all that is unclean, unspeakable, and unthinkable.

The parlor may have its charms, but the Japanese toilet truly is a place of spiritual repose. It always stands apart from the main building, at the end of a corridor, in a grove fragrant with leaves and moss. No words can describe that sensation as one sits in the dim light, basking in the faint glow reflected from the shoji, lost in meditation or gazing out at the garden. The novelist Natsume Soseki counted his morning trips to the toilet a great pleasure, “a physiological delight” he called it. And surely there could be no better place to savor this pleasure than a Japanese toilet where, surrounded by tranquil walls and finely grained wood, one looks out upon blue skies and green leaves.

As I have said there are certain prerequisites: a degree of dimness, absolute cleanliness, and quiet so complete one can hear the hum of a mosquito. I love to listen from such a toilet to the sound of softly falling rain, especially if it is a toilet of the Kanto region, with its long, narrow windows at floor level; there one can listen with a sense of intimacy to the raindrops falling from the eaves and the trees, seeping into the earth as they wash over the base of a stone lantern and freshen the moss about the stepping stones. And the toilet is the perfect place to listen to the chirping of insects or the song of the birds, to view the moon, or to enjoy any of those poignant moments that mark the change of the seasons. Here, I suspect, is where haiku poets over the ages have come by a great many of their ideas. Indeed one could with some justice claim that of all the elements of Japanese architecture, the toilet is the most aesthetic. Our forebears, making poetry of everything in their lives, transformed what by rights should be the most unsanitary room in the house into a place of unsurpassed elegance, replete with fond associations with the beauties of nature. Compared to Westerners who regard the toilet as utterly unclean and avoid even the mention of it in polite conversation, we are far more sensible and certainly in better taste.

Now, I have to mention that during the time I lived in Tokyo, most of the traditional-style toilets I encountered were not exemplars of absolute cleanliness, nor were they surrounded by the contemplative silence of nature. One would be extremely unlikely to encounter one of Tanizaki’s wooden “morning glory” urinals, filled with cedar boughs and allowing “not the slightest sound.” At the other end of the spectrum, in a private home I encountered a high-tech suupaa toire of the sort with electronically-controllable, integrated bidet. The soft, heated seat was certainly much more suited to a pleasant experience than the Western wooden or plastic oblong.

Henry Alford, writing for the New York Times, considered the history of reading in the loo (quote lifted from Bibliobibuli):

In the mid-18th century, Lord Chesterfield wrote that he knew “a gentleman who was so good a manager of his time that he would not even lose that small portion of it which the call of nature obliged him to pass in the necessary-house; but gradually went through all the Latin poets, in those moments.” . . . Most scholars contend that bathroom reading is largely a modern pursuit: the chamber pots and outhouses in use prior to the 1920’s and 30’s were not ideal for perusing texts. Yet Roman baths contained libraries wherein one could pore over scrolls, and “The Life of St. Gregory” (1296-1359) recommends the isolated retreat of the medieval fortress toilet — located high up in towers, close to heaven, so as to offset the perceived baseness of the act being committed — as a place for uninterrupted reading.

Cogitation and reflection need not cease when we visit the bathroom; reading and contemplation should be woven through the fabric of our lives.

(Image of Meiji-era wooden squat toilet courtesy Wikipedia.)

books computer science reflections

Italo Calvino on Computer Science

Railroad Bridge in Coatesville, PA(Never fear, part 2 of “Towards a New Salon” is in preparation, and should be posted soon.)

Wishing to refresh my memories of its contents, I have been trying to locate my copy of Six Memos for the Next Millennium—without, alas, success. The vagrant book yet wanders.

With a bit of wandering on my own, I managed to scrape up a copy for immediate reference. The public library system in my county has eighteen libraries. While you can request a volume from another library, I typically prefer to visit them in person. Often, the smallest locations will have the only copy of some surprisingly obscure volume. Over the years, I’ve found an excuse to visit thirteen of them. That number has now increased by one, as the library computer system indicated that the Coatesville library had the only copy of Memos.

Coatesville is disheveled, depressed city, wounded by the withering of the steel industry; the downtown looks beaten and nearly abandoned. The atmosphere of the library is close and depressing, almost dank. I was happy to locate the Calvino and depart.

I had never driven Route 82 before, and as I headed out of the city to the north I was struck by the massive stone arches of the railroad bridge. I’ll have to head back with my camera one of these days. (I did find a lovely photo of the bridge’s reflection on flickr, which illustrates this post.)

I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed Memos the first time I read it. This time, I was quite surprised to come across a passage about computer science in the essay on “Lightness.”

I look to science to nourish my visions in which all heaviness disappears. Today every branch of science seems intent on demonstrating that the world is supported by the most minute entities, such as the messages of DNA, the impulses of neurons, and quarks, and neutrinos wandering through space since the beginning of time . . . . .

Then we have computer science. It is true that software cannot exercise its powers of lightness except through the weight of hardware. But it is software that gives the orders, acting on the outside world and on machines that exist only as functions of software and evolve so that they can work out ever more complex programs. The second industrial revolution, unlike the first, does not present us with such crushing images as rolling mills and molten steel, but with “bits” in a flow of information traveling along circuits in the form of electronic impulses. The iron machines still exist, but they obey the orders of weightless bits.

And so the library’s computer system led me to a city vitiated by the departure of the steel industry.

(Photo of the Coatesville railroad bridge courtesy Cyber Insekt.)


Towards a New Salon, Part 1

Rather than sit on this post for any longer, I figured I’d chop it into several pieces. The remaining segments (at the moment, I have outlines sufficient for two or three) will be spread over the next five to ten days, with unrelated interludes.

Conrad points us to a superb discourse by Gawain on the aesthetic play of the Heian aristocracy, part historico-literary reflection, part speculative construction of a new community. The essay grows from a kernel of Conrad’s musings about the potential for a new freemasrony of intellectually kindred spirits:

I want a Republic of Letters. Not so much a movement. More a society. I guess the germ of my thought was, there are all these intellectual types all over the world–some might be writers or artists, others scholars, and others even accountants or concrete engineers–but they all like thinking and reading–maybe they all have a dry sense of humour, somewhat cynical–but they don’t know too many like themselves. [ . . . ] The interpersonal connections would be not merely by chance, as is the case with most friendships, but through adherence to certain common beliefs–though unlike in a movement or artists’ group, there would be no unified goals, no “head”, no one purpose.

Thoth’s glabrous beak! That certainly raises a resonant chord of longing in my own crabbed and introverted heart

Ideal Readers

When I lived in Ann Arbor, my housemate organized regular meetings of a small salon. Her personal style had the exuberant force of a deviant extrovert, and she attracted many peculiar, interesting people into her ambit. Now, I live in the isolation of suburbia, many states away. My circle of friends is slight, my circle of kindred spirits smaller yet. Over the past decade I’ve wondered how I might go about assembling a similar salon. As much as anything else, this led me to start blogging, to take a few, uncertain steps toward thinking in public.

Umberto Eco, in his Postscript to the Name of the Rose, writes about the process of constructing his novel:

After reading the manuscript, my friends and editors suggested I abbreviate the first hundred pages, which they found very difficult and demanding. Without thinking twice, I refused, because, as I insisted, if somebody wanted to enter the abbey and live there for seven days, he had to accept the abbey’s own pace. If he could not, he would never manage to read the whole book. Therefore, those first hundred pages are like a penance or an initiation, and if someone does not like them, so much the worse for him. He can stay at the foot of the hill.

[. . .]

What model reader did I want as I was writing? An accomplice, to be sure, one who would play my game.

With every post we take another step toward creating our own ideal readers, trying to find those who want to play the same games. The Republic of Letters (as fine a provisional name as any) is aimed at a particular disjunction of characteristics, a certain type of thinker and reader who dreams of colloquy with those of like mind.

Of course, the Venn diagrams never align perfectly. Indulge in too much non-compatible bathos and you risk reducing your ideal readership to one: yourself.

Memos for the New Salon

In a collection of undelivered lectures entitled Six Memos for the Next Millenium, Italo Calvino expounded on five of the six characteristics that he most admired in writing: lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, multiplicity, and consistency. Perhaps a consideration of these can help us in plotting out what this nascent salon might look like.


Gawain writes of sprezzatura, of learning worn lightly, of studious unprofessionality. This points to an important aspect of the Republic: it is not a professional society. Failure to obtain professional-level knowledge in a particular domain should not be a bar to entry

One rarely hears the term ‘intelligent layman’ these days, and ‘generalist’ tends to imply ‘dilettante’. One of the fundamental skills required is appreciation. Through this, we can strive for the elevation of mind that comes from having a really good conversation: inspiration, a spur to continue one’s own learning, the pleasures of philosophy and of having one’s philosophy challenged.

Perhaps there’s another aspect, as well. There’s something to aim for beyond the mere odor of learning; the goal of this society (and its proceedings, whatever form they may take) should not be to clothe itself with Literature as decoration, as mere signifier of erudition or plumage for the dances of mating and pecking order.


Perhaps this is not a natural stopping point, but I shall publish this as it stands and pause for reflection. In the next essay of this series, I’ll continue with a consideration of Calvino’s five remaining characteristics, and perhaps move on to some thoughts about intellectual game-playing.

games role-playing games

I choose YOU, Pikathulhu!

Iä!  Iä!  Pikathulhu fthagn!

I’ve just discovered that Pokéthulhu, the role-playing game of cute and blasphemous eldrich cuddliness is available as a freely-downloadable PDF. Huzzah! I bought a copy of the second edition some years ago, and I quite recommend it. Proper appreciation of its satirical humor will likely require prior familiarity with any two members of the set {H. P. Lovecraft, Pokemon, role-playing games}.

That is not dead which can eternal lie,
and with strange aeons even death may die!
To bring down our masters on an icy night,
And to claim the power when the stars are right . . .

Team Eibon!
Stand fast to resist our rage . . .
Or flee to the safety of a new dark age!

Only children can control the ‘thulhu, which are lovable, soul-devouring horrors. In the game you take the role of a young cultist, capturing and taming wild ‘thulhu, then pitting them against each other or various plot-driven objectives.

Each ‘thulhu has aspects and weaknesses, and special attacks based on each of these. Typical aspects are: decomposing, fishy, fungous, icy, luminescent, non-Euclidean, squamous, and sticky. For example, Jigglypolyp is a fungous, sticky ‘thulhu.

Chris Pound has a page of word and name generators for many different applications (such as conlanging, but that’s another thread entirely). Among them is a hilariously apt Pokéthulhu name generator. Also worth investigating is this interactive ‘thulhu identification guide.

Yog Soggytoth neblod zin!

books organization

The Vagrant Book

I know it’s here somewhere.


It’s been nearly three years since the move.

Really, everything should be in order by now (and by everything I mean, of course, the books). That’s hardly the case. The shelving is haphazard and volumes of recent interest trace my path through the house like intellectual bread crumbs.

Before the move, I’d long since resorted to double-shelving. This is a reprehensible practice, but not as bad as piling books on top of shelves or around the bed. Or on the piano. And the desk and dresser. And under the bed—I’m sure you understand.

Despite the demands of a program of thorough Austerity, the books kept creeping in. It’s not enough to stay out of the used bookstores almost all the time; a surprising number of book-feet can be acquired in the fit that follows six months of asceticism.


Before the move, there was a semblence of categorization; indistinct, perhaps, but with logical nuclei. In the grand game of Tetris, everything was packed into boxes as it would fit, an orgy of gleeful bin-packing heuristics.

A month after closing, the walls are painted, the floor refinished. I’ve been eyeing the walls, trying to figure out how many additional bookcases might be slipped in. I fantasize about building barrister bookshelves into the ceiling, spines facing downwards, with shelves that rotate down by a hinged edge. M——. tells me that this is foolhardy and would be courting death. It’s a nice thought, though. How about a shelf around the top of the room, just for the mass markets? They’re impossible to store.

Three months later. The number of bookshelves has been augmented by a half-dozen or so. For convenience, some of the boxes have been unloaded directly onto the shelves, with very little sorting. There’s no double-shelving, so far. What virtue! But the bookcases are now full; what do with these, er, several dozen other boxes? [Update: M——. just told me sternly that once you pass forty-eight, you can no longer say ‘several dozen’.]

Six months later. All right! I agree they should probably go into the attic. Just for a bit . . . when I get some spare time, I’m quite eager to get everything sorted out.


Yes, I have checked the office. Thoroughly? Well, not that thoroughly, perhaps. I searched it last week, looking for a different volume, and I’m sure this would have leapt to my attention. I know it was sitting on my desk before the move, and there was something I wanted to reread.

You really think you saw it there? Excuse me. Perhaps I’ll check just once more.

books languages

Latin Children's Books

Cover of Cattus Petasatus A major story on today’s NPR Morning Edition was the fiftieth birthday of The Cat in the Hat. Personally, I’ve never been much of a fan of Dr. Seuss. (When I was that age, I much preferred Mike Mulligan and His Steamshovel.) Still the mention of Cat reminded me of a Dr. Seuss I can really get behind: Cattus Petasatus, a translation of the original book into Latin by Jennifer and Terence Tunberg.

Some alterations to the meter were required, but the spirit remains intact:

Imber totum diem fluit
Urceatim semper pluit.
Taedet intus nos manere:
Numquam potest sol splendere.

The result is disconcertingly similar to authentic medieval Latin verse.

Primo pro nummata vini;
ex hac bibunt libertini;
semel bibunt pro captivis,
post haec bibunt ter pro vivis,

Thoughtfully, the publishers provide a guide for using Cattus to teach grammar.

This is certainly not the only children’s classic that has been translated into the language of Virgil. The Tunbergs have also tackled two other Seuss volumes: Virent Ova! Virent Perna! and the euphoniously-named Quomodo Invidiosulus nomine GRINCHUS Christi natalem Abrogaverit.

Moving beyond the basic readers, we have one of my favorites: Winnie ille Pu.

Ecce Eduardus Ursus scalis nunc tump-tump-tump occipite gradus pulsante post Christophorum Robinum descendens. Est quod sciat unus et solus modus gradibus descendendi, nonnunquam autem sentit, etiam alterum modum exstare, dummodo pulsationibus desinere et de eo modo meditari possit. Deinde censet alios modos non esse. En, nunc ipse in imo est, vobis ostentari paratus. Winnie ille Pu.

I recently happened across a mention of Aliciae per speculum transitus (quaeque ibi invenit). Sadly it looks like it’s been out of print for many years, along with its predecessor, Alicia in terra mirabili. Happily, the text of this latter is available online.

Itaque cogitabat (nempe ut lucidissime poterat, nam tempestate calida torpebat semisomna) num operae pretium esset surgere et flosculos carpere, modo ut sertum nectendo se delectaret, cum subito Cuniculus Albus oculis rubris prope eam praeteriit. Neque in eo erat quidquam magnopere dignum memoria: neque Aliciae valde insolitum videbatur ut Cuniculum sibi loquentem audivit: ‘Vae, vae! Sero perveniam!’

And you still want more? If you’re one of those people who actually likes the loathsome original, you might try Regulus. Do you prefer Beatrix Potter? Then Fabula de Petro Cuniculo would be more to your tastes. A final pair to mention (by Andrew Needham, who also translated Ursus nomine Paddington) is Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis and Harrius Potter et Camera Secretorum. No samples from these, I’m afraid . . . they’re both on the to-purchase list.  Still, see the Times review of Camera . . . in Latin, no less.