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November 18, 2010

Open thread 150
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:44 PM *

One of the things I love most about learning another language is watching it slice the syntactic cake of the world in unexpected places.

Sometimes a language will lack some—to me—indispensable term or distinction. Dutch, for instance, doesn’t clearly differentiate between one’s nephew and one’s very small male cousin, or one’s niece and diminutive female cousin. They’re both neefje and nichtje respectively.

But equally strange are the vocabulary items that teach me some concept which has been lurking all my life in the inarticulate space between the English words I know. One such word is anderhalf. Literally, it means “another half”, but it is actually “one and a half”.

It can only be used adjectivally, never as a noun. So one can’t say drie gedeeld door twee is anderhalf (that would be één en een half). But one can ask for anderhalf liter sinasappelsap or say you’ll meet someone over anderhalf uur, and get one’s 1500 ml of OJ or meeting in 90 minutes thereby.

Comments on Open thread 150:
#1 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 04:58 PM:

Sinasappelsap comes in 1.5 litre bottles?

#2 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 04:59 PM:

Fragano @1:

No, but it might come in 1,5 liter ones.

#3 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 04:59 PM:

Astronomers have discovered an exoplanet which originated outside the galaxy - it belongs to a group of stars known to have originated in a dwarf galaxy swallowed by the Milky Way some billions of years ago.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11775803

#4 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 05:00 PM:

I've always enjoyed explaining that you can have one spring roll, two spring roll, 50 spring roll, many spring roll... but no spring rolls...

#5 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 05:08 PM:

It's pie day at work.

I'm on the activity committee, and Took Advantage:

Pecan, Apple Crumb, and Chocolate Cream.

Ahhhh. Pie.

#6 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 05:11 PM:

This reminds me that I've never seen 1975's French movie "Cousin, Cousine".

#7 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 05:13 PM:

The French word 'peche' can mean peach, sin or fishing, depending on which accents it is adorned with.

#9 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 05:25 PM:

No reason for your heart to get the joke,
we took the road, and followed every twist;
found villages that time seemed to have missed,
and watched the sun come out from autumn's cloak
into a world we wanted to evoke
for younger selves, but that could not exist
where light and warmth burnt off the silly mist
and foolish wishes turned into thin smoke.
Smile now at folly and give measured praise
for what must be, and grant the purpose set
that we must give a lead to urgent youth
who wish to set the turning world ablaze
as we did once before we learnt regret
and found our tiny corner of the truth.

#10 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 05:26 PM:

@7

That makes more sense than probably it should.

#11 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 05:29 PM:

Ah, pie. And via the magic of thread multiplexing, did you know that the original version of "Dr. Strangelove" ended in a pie fight in the War Room? That scene was shot, and then Kubrick removed it from the released cut. I don't know if copies of the scene still exist, but I'd love to see one.

#12 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 05:37 PM:

Serge @ #7 thereby giving rise to a classic tale of a mistranslated word leading the translator (in an 'O' level French examination) to garble the "fishing rod" into "tin of peaches" and turn the account of a fishing trip into something very strange indeed.

Admittedly this moose was only marginally better, and once memorably turned in an essay on "the use of capital punishment in schools". (Though I note that the UK Prison Service nearly managed something similar recently.)

#13 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 05:39 PM:

#7 Serge

The French word 'peche' can mean peach, sin or fishing, depending on which accents it is adorned with.

Which can cause all sorts of problems to an elementary student trying to translate the phrase that Jesus was a fisher of men...

#14 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 05:42 PM:

Mmm, sun-apple sap! (Probably a "false friend", but I like it anyway.)

#15 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 05:45 PM:

AKICIML:

Saw this video yesterday, and besides the appreciation of the content, I immediately had a lust-on for the helmet she's wearing. The comments seem to indicate that it's a softball helmet. If that's true, would it be a bad plan to actually wear it while biking?


#16 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 05:59 PM:

Cheryl@15: I didn't know softball helmets came with chin straps. (many pictures on the web show no straps, but that could be a marketing decision and could vary from helmet to helmet.)

Rot13 to avoid Schroedinger's Viewers:V unq n zvav-Orpuqry-grfg zbzrag jngpuvat gung. Svefg znyr gb fcrnx: nobhg 25 frpbaqf va. Svefg srznyr gb fcrnx: nobhg 90 frpbaqf va. V unir na rkprcgvbanyyl fubeg nggragvba fcna gbqnl, ohg jnf V gur bayl bar guvaxvat "Vf fur tbvat gb trg nal yvarf ng nyy?

#17 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 06:26 PM:

#16 Sandy B.
in re your ROT13'd comment:

Qnl 1
1fg znyr - 5 frpbaqf va
1fg srznyr - 1:37

Qnl 3
1fg znyr - 22 frpbaqf
1fg srznyr - 41 frpbaqf

Qnl 4
1fg znyr - 20 frpbaqf
1fg srznyr - 45 frpbaqf

Weird. I had not noticed that on first watch.

#18 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 06:54 PM:

From 149, Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers), #929, I can do that with both hands, but the right hand hurts a bit -- I have the remains of a gout tophus on the bottom joint of the ring finger.

#19 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 06:57 PM:

David Harmon #14: Chinese-apple-sap.

#20 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 07:08 PM:

Cheryl, #15, helmets are usually designed for specific sports, so I doubt it would work as well as a bike helmet.

#21 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 07:09 PM:

abi, I have a post with a lot of links stuck in the background somewhere. Let me know if I need to change it.

#22 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 07:10 PM:

Thought I'd share this.
http://www.howtobearetronaut.com/2010/03/the-ghosts-of-amsterdam/

#23 ::: Leigh Kimmel ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 07:22 PM:

Bruce Cohen #11: I've seen stills from the pie fight scene in Dr. Strangelove (unfortunately do not have a cite for the book in which I saw them), and the reason I've seen for its removal was that Kubrick felt that all that white was overwhelming to the point that nobody could see what was going on. However, I do not know whether any actual footage of the scene has survived.

#24 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 07:25 PM:

Marilee @ 18 ...
From 149, Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers), #929, I can do that with both hands, but the right hand hurts a bit -- I have the remains of a gout tophus on the bottom joint of the ring finger.

Sans context, that's a phrase that leads to a wide variety of entertaining imaginings about what, exactly, 'that' happens to be...

#25 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 07:47 PM:

My favorite two puns from my favorite second language:


"Aquí tenemos solo dos estaciones: invierno y gasolinera."

--a badly remembered joke from a very, very cold region of Spain or perhaps Basque, told to my 7th or 8th grade Spanish class. Turns on having the same word mean "station" and "season"; thus, they only have the season of winter and gas stations.


P. "¿Que es el animal más peresozo?" ("Which is the laziest animal?")
R. "El pez." ("The fish.")
P. "Pero ¿por qué?" ("But why?")
R. "Porque, ¿qué hace? ...nada." ("Well, what does the fish do? [It swims / Nothing].")

#26 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 07:49 PM:

I noticed similar things while learning Spanish, abi.

For example, we were amidst the chapter where you talk about food (to practice your past-tense verbs, and the assigned-in-that-lesson nouns). I backtracked to hobbies to say I have six apple trees in my garden. Then my seatmate and I got onto apples, and whether we liked them or not, and had to pause and hand-up to ask the prof what the words for apple-core and seeds are.

That turned out to be unexpectedly complex. :-> She said core was complicated, and we should skip it for now, then paused (she is a native speaker of Spanish) to think about it for a long moment before she opined that apple seeds are 'pepitas de manzana,' instead of being 'semillas de manzana'. Watermelon seeds, she said are squarely pepitas, and poppyseeds are clearly semillas, but apple was close enough to a boundary case that she had to think about it before answering.

This had an interesting brain-collision for me, because in my familial argot, 'pepitas' is a specific term of art for washed, toasted, salted squash seeds (after removing them from the barfy guts you scoop out of your acorn, butternut, or spaghetti squash, or alternatively your pumpkin), served as a snack.

Pumpkin seeds are definitely 'pepitas' -- I asked. :-> It's not quite as confounding for me as my hindbrain's repeated insistence that 'mañana' means 'tomorrow' instead of, as it in fact does, 'morning'. I KNOW that one, I do, really, but it keeps sneaking itself in. Kind of a "One, two, five!" "Three, sir!" "-- Three!" situation.

I was also fascinated, in the section on negation, to discover that zero is definitely grammatically singular in Spanish. In English, I can say, "None of the shirts in my closet fit me properly," but in Spanish the negating adjective precedes only a singular noun (shirt) rather than a plural the way none-of does in English.

#27 ::: Marie Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 07:49 PM:

Old Norse has singular and plural pronouns, but also dual: "we two" or "you two" or "they two." I've always thought that was very handy.

Somewhat related, Japanese can attach the pluralization suffix -tachi to things like people's names: Daiki-tachi doesn't mean "multiple people named Daiki;" it means "Daiki and the people with him."

And then, of course, there's schadenfreude, which is possibly the greatest gift German ever gave to the English language. :-)

#28 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 08:05 PM:

Oh, not to mention I am alternately enchanted by and frustrated with Spanish's very different chunking with regards to the concepts English simply lumps into, respectively, 'be' and 'know'.

Depending on what you're trying to say, a sentence using some form of 'is' in English could use at least five different verbs THAT I HAVE LEARNED ALREADY, in only 1.5 semesters of Spanish. 'Know' is a little simpler, given that it's two verbs, but they're distinctly different kinds of knowing, and the boundary between the verbs, while glowingly obvious to native speakers, puzzles my classmates and I.

#29 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 08:08 PM:

Elliot Mason: Well, but it does mean "tomorrow," does it not? In addition to "morning." (But it does not mean "apple." I used to get manzana and mañana confused.)

"Tomorrow morning" - "mañana por la mañana."

#30 ::: Mattathias ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 08:10 PM:

Arabic also has a dual number; "the two of us" has a meaning distinct from "the whole crowd of us". Ah, mostly useless bits of trivia learned in international travel many, many years ago.

The Arab who invited me to tea with him asked me to remember him kindly. Most of this last decade I have been quite ashamed of how my government has treated his race.

#31 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 08:11 PM:

Nicole (29): German does the same thing: Morgen means both 'tomorrow' and 'morning'.

#32 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 08:18 PM:

Hebrew also has a dual form: ...ayim for two, ...yim for plural.

Which fact gave me a great Realization when I visited Egypt in 1987. The Hebrew name (Biblical until today) for Egypt is Missrayim. The Egyptians' name for Egypt (presumably in Arabic, I have no idea about ancient Egyptian) is Misr. Clearly Missrayim is the dual form of Misr. Misr, or Meitzar in Hebrew, means "a narrow place." And when you think about it, Egyptian civilization is in a narrow place, along the Nile river, the rest being desert. And thinking a bit further, the dual form implies Upper and Lower Egypt. So, Missrayim is a dual narrow place, and is in fact the same name as the Egyptians use for their own land.

#33 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 08:42 PM:

@32 So, Missrayim is a dual narrow place, and is in fact the same name as the Egyptians use for their own land.

"The Narrows," more or less?

#34 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 08:46 PM:

Jon, 32: That's the coolest thing I've learned all week.

#35 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 08:53 PM:

Cadbury Moose at #12:
As the worms crawled out of the can, did it become a vers libre poem?

#36 ::: y ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 08:54 PM:

English has dual pronouns too. Well, I guess they haven't been in use for some time, but they definitely did exist.

#37 ::: Marie Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 09:27 PM:

Waaaait . . . the Old English dual second-person pronoun was git?

(Okay, I know, different G sound. But funny all the same. "You callin' me git?" "No, I'm calling both of you git."

#38 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 09:39 PM:

What most gets me about languages is gender on nouns. It was bad enough with French having male and female nouns; German complicates it with having neuter as well (with no real reason why any given noun is a given gender). My favorite examples are das Messer, die Gabel, der Löffel - the knife (neuter), the fork (feminine) and the spoon (masculine).

Every noun ending with "chen" is neuter, though...such as das Mädchen -- the girl.

Weird stuff. I'm glad English got rid of that a long time ago.

#39 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 09:58 PM:

#38: In "Me Talk Pretty One Day," David Sedaris talks about his frustration in dealing with gendered nouns when learning French, while living in France. He gets around looking like an idiot in shops by buying two of everything. Plural items are neuter, apparently.

Favorite line, paraphrased: "Eventually I got to the point where I could talk like an hillbilly. For example, if I wanted calves' brains I'd walk into the butcher, point into the case, and ask, 'Are thems the thoughts of cows?'"

#40 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 10:03 PM:

Francophones have no problems speaking French.
Just sayin'

#41 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 10:04 PM:

Seconding Dave Weingart on gender. As a person who doesn't identify well with the available genders, I sometimes wish we could remove gender from English entirely...or perhaps more usefully add some new ones to the mix.

#42 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 10:10 PM:

The decline of the dual number is visible even in Latin -- the declension of "two" is different from other nouns.

#43 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 10:10 PM:

I got around the gender and declension of German nouns by mumbling. A lot. Germans seem to do this too.

#44 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 10:30 PM:

In my home dialect, we have this phrase 'half again', which means "multiplied by 1.5." So 90 minutes is half again as much as 60.

Dave 38: very noun ending with "chen" is neuter, though...such as das Mädchen -- the girl.

Not so much, any more. Used to be, 30 years ago. But now a lot of people in Germany say "die Mädchen." The '-lein'/'-chen' rule is superseded by the manifest femaleness of the semantics.

Not everywhere, not all the time. But more and more.

#45 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 10:36 PM:

Open Threadiness:

A little stray calico cat* has shown up in our neighborhood. Very well mannered and friendly, and absolutely adorable. No pics yet, but she has a black patch over her left eye, and looks like a little pirate kitty.

Alas, we can't adopt her. Our boy cat has already declared his jealousy while my husband was petting the calico on our front porch tonight.

If we can't find a good home for her soon, we'll probably end up taking her to the adoption center our vet runs. If anyone in the greater Cincinnati/southwest Ohio area is interested in adopting her, let me know.

I'll post more updates as they become available.

*Kitten, really. She's grown a lot since we first saw her at Halloween.

#46 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 10:37 PM:

Elliott, #26: I was under the impression that the idiomatic sense of mañana was "Not now." And that this causes much confusion for people who think someone is using the literal meaning!

#47 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 10:59 PM:

Xopher @ 44 : Good to know, although I haven't seen it any any study materials or in the wild (die Mädchen gets used for plural, of course, but that's different).

#48 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 11:56 PM:

A few weeks ago, I saw a link to a story about how language shapes how we think. Not in the traditional (and discredited) fashion of "There is no word for [x], therefore [x] cannot be thought about," but in the fashion of what it does force you to assume.

For instance, when they study gendered languages, where nouns are masculine or feminine, they found that words tended to be described by words that fit that culture's gender stereotypes. I think they used German and Spanish, since there are many prominent nouns (such as bridge) that are the opposite genders in those two languages. So in the country where bridge was masculine, words such as strong were used to describe it, but in the country where it was feminine, graceful might be more common.

Then they brought up a fascinating language that had no sense of relative direction. They'd never say something such as "It's in front of you," or "Back up two steps." Instead, they'd say, "It's just north of you," or "Move two steps west." The sense of knowing where you are is so intrinsic to the language that it creates a different way of viewing the world. (They further pointed out that to a speaker of this language, two hotel rooms with the identical floor plan, but across the hall from one another, would get seen as entirely different, because in the one, the bathroom would be to the west, and in the other, it would be to the east...)

Neat concept. Obviously, if you know something is there, you can work around it, but I'll bet that those who come from gendered languages bring along the connotations, even if just a little.

#49 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 12:10 AM:

Blech. I thought I had a poem, but not this time. (Congested kid x 2 = no sleep for mama.) I'm going to bed.

Just think on this: We are headed to the holiday stress season. Think about why the holidays are (or should be) special to you, then make time for those reasons. The rest can "go to blazes."

#50 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 12:36 AM:

Elliott @28: Oh, not to mention I am alternately enchanted by and frustrated with Spanish's very different chunking with regards to the concepts English simply lumps into, respectively, 'be' and 'know'.

IIRC English used to have a verbal distinction similar to Spanish saber/conocer (and German wissen/kennen), but only a few traces remain; I don't think there's still a clear polarity between, say, "wise" (or "savvy") vs. "canny".

I think Japanese also has the distinction (shiry vs. wakaru), as well as *three* possible equivalent to the English concept of "be"-- instead of the distinction between permanent traits and temporary conditions for the Spanish ser vs. estar, the split is among animate beings, inanimate objects, and statements of grammatical equivalence, though there are also inevitable idiomatic exceptions. But basically, you'd use three different verbs to translate "The (live) fish is in the bowl", "The (dead) fish is in the bowl", and "The fish is green".

(But not "the fish is red" or a few other basic colors which act more like verbs; putting that into the past tense would be less like "the fish was red" than "the fish redded".)

#51 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 01:30 AM:

Marilee @21:

I've looked in the back end—even among the spam—and can't find a held comment by you. I don't know where it's got to.

Can you re-enter it? Sorry.

#52 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 02:03 AM:

,y @36:

All through the day, iċ, me, mīn, iċ, me, mīn, iċ, me, mīn.
All through the night, iċ, me, mīn, iċ, me, mīn, iċ, me, mīn.

Okay, I don't have the chops for this . . . but some of you do.

#53 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 02:10 AM:

Dutch, too, has a word that means both "morning" and "tomorrow": morgen. However, one doesn't say morgenmorgen for "tomorrow morning", because there's another word one can swap in: ochtend. (Thus, morgenochtend.) I was told it was rarer when I was taught it, but I hear it in about equal distribution in speech.

It also has an interesting distinction in body parts terms between {horses and people} and {all other animals}. Animals have a leg called a poot, a head called a kop, and a mouth called a bek. Horses and people have a been, a hoofd, and a mond. So if you're trying to tell someone to STFU, you tell them Hou je bek!, which gives you the "you're an animal" insult for free.

#54 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 02:45 AM:

y @36:

Hey, that finally clarifies a bit of Dutch for me! Because there's a set of second person pronouns, formal and informal, singular and plural in common use in the Netherlands today:

je/jij (singular, informal)
jullie (plural, informal)
U (singular and plural, formal)

But there's an archaic informal second person form that turns up in church and in Belgium*: gij†. Since, unlike in English, the informal second person still exists in Dutch, I've been baffled where this archaic thing floated in from.

Clearly, it's descended from ġit. It's not used in the dual any more though; it's become singular.

(Marie Brennan @37:*snrk*)

-----
* These are not the same thing, but Flemish retains more old grammar than Dutch

† Pronounced like "guy" but with a fricative g and a bit more of a smile to widen the vowel.

#55 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 02:56 AM:

Tongan has duals and plurals of all the pronouns, and also has a different form of "we" depending on whether it's inclusive or exclusive of you.

So as I recall there are separate pronouns for: me, you (singular), him/her, me and you, me and him/her (but not you), you and him/her, those two people, me and you and some other person or people, me and multiple other people (but not you), you and multiple other people, and (three or more of) them. It's easier to learn and keep track of than you might think. Fortunately the language doesn't decline pronouns by gender or case.

#56 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 03:00 AM:

@Julie L #50

Haha, Japanese grammar. Hoooboy.

Loosely, shiru is "know" and "wakaru" is understand. This is pretty straightforward, though, usually. I've never known a student to have trouble with it for very long (though there are a few specific situations where cultural assumptions are a little different).

"To be" is indeed startlingly difficult to translate into Japanese. The explanation Julie L gave sounded wrong to me at first. After reading through it a few times I realized it did a pretty good job of explaining what the hell is going on there, just from a point of view I'm not used to. It's a description of the construction from the outside in, rather than the inside out.

As for colors in Japanese: it's not that some colors are verbs, it's that all standard adjectives do something very like conjugation, but some colors aren't standard adjectives, and act more like nouns. In Japanese nouns can act as adjectives by making them possessive. So Tom's toy would be "Tomu no omocha," and a "dog toy" would be "inu no omocha," essentially "dog's toy." A few colors use the same construction as nouns, so you get "midori no omocha" or "green's toy."

Normal adjectives essentially have conjugations, but are not verbs. They acquire inflections, though. Anyway, standard adjectives don't need the possessive particle 'no,' and just precede nouns directly. A red toy is "akai omocha."

Then things get tricky. There are another set of adjectives that are definitely not nouns, but use a similar construction, replacing no with na. A pretty toy is "kirei na omocha." Making it even more difficult, there are a few words that can use either no or na.

Even this is a gross simplification. I'm trying to shoehorn Japanese grammar into our conventional understanding of nouns, verbs, and adjectives. I was actually taught early on that the parts of speech in Japanese are not equivalent to those in romance languages. My first text actually referred to Japanese nouns as "nominals" and adjectives as "adjectivals," in an attempt to get us to understand that they weren't directly analogous to English nouns and adjectives.

When it comes to unique grammar, I really think Japanese takes the cake. (Or, literally: brings and goes with the cake for future use). I studied Japanese while a friend of mine studied Chinese, which are (supposedly) the two most difficult languages in the world. He said that in Chinese, it's the pronunciation that gets you. In Japanese, it's the grammar.

#57 ::: John D. Berry ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 03:07 AM:

Oh boy. Language fun!

Tom Whitmore, #42: Really ancient Latin (pre-classical) had a dual; what you mention is just its vestigial remains.

Angiportus, #41: Seconding Dave Weingart on gender. As a person who doesn't identify well with the available genders, I sometimes wish we could remove gender from English entirely...or perhaps more usefully add some new ones to the mix

English, unlike the Romance languages, insists on distinguishing between "his" and "hers." In French or Spanish or Italian, you'd have to work to make that distinction clear (yes, of course it's possible). The common possessive adjective just means something like "one's" or "self's"; it changes to match the gender of the noun it modifies, but doesn't imply anything about the gender of the person who owns it.

Elliott Mason, #26: In English, I can say, "None of the shirts in my closet fit me properly," but in Spanish the negating adjective precedes only a singular noun (shirt) rather than a plural the way none-of does in English.

Although the latter sounds perfectly good to my ear, I think it's fairly recent in English. When I was young and had not yet become a pedant, older pedants would insist to me that "none" was short for "no one" and must always be treated as singular.

My favorite confusion of number is sentences like, "What we're looking at here are acres of poppies." I see no reason why the verb, even though it's "to be," should adjust itself to the number of what follows it. This leads to absurdities such as, "The thing we're talking about here are acres of poppies."

#58 ::: Nee in Germany ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 03:21 AM:

@ Dave Weingart, #38:

There are actually quite a lot of rules for gender in German, but some are semantic (der Junge (the m. boy)) and some are formal (Mathematik, -ik=f.). For endings like -e, it is not always easy to know which type of rule takes precendence, which is why I often mumble, use the plural, stay silent...

#59 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 03:48 AM:

In Dutch, if you don't know the gender of a noun, you have three safe choices:

1. Make it diminutive (add -je on the end). All diminutive nouns are neuter, and the Dutch don't just use the suffix for little things. If they're dear to them, amusing, or just neat, Dutch people will make even giant cruise ships into het bootje.

2. Make it plural. All plurals are common gender*. The problematic het schip becomes the easy to remember de schippen. And plural verbs are easier too; just use the infinitive.

3. Mumble, or speak with a marked foreign accent. This is particularly effective when the foreign accent is Engelstalig; then we all know that one is doing one's best in a situation where the alternative is for the Dutch person to be doing all the work.

Particularly for a relatively minor† language like Dutch, it's important to remember that most native speakers will be more impressed that one has done them the courtesy of learning their language than they will be offended at imperfections in so doing.

-----
* There are a very few non-personal nouns in Dutch that are feminine, but you can only tell when someone uses a pronoun to refer to them and says zij instead of hij (common‡)or het (neuter). Obviously, verkoopster (female shop assistant) is feminine, but so is lengte, length. But fewer and fewer native speakers make the distinction themselves, and non-native speakers pretty much just ignore the matter.

† Even the Dutch admit that it's not one of the dominant global languages; that's why they prioritize language learning and value polyglots.

‡ Yes, sigh, masculine as default

#60 ::: Marie Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 04:19 AM:

@#56: Oh god, you used Eleanor Harz Jorden's book, didn't you? I hated that thing. Did she really believe calling it an "adjectival" would stop us all from just thinking "adjective"? If she wanted to encourage a real split there, she should have used the native Japanese terms (keiyoushi, etc). Plus her chosen system of romanization, which is clearer on a linguistic level but not at all like the romanization you'll encounter outside the book, and really she could have avoided the entire problem by using the actual Japanese writing system . . . .

(Why, oh why, were we learning Japanese from a book that only aimed to teach us the spoken language? We had to buy two supplementary coursepacks my professor had put together, one glossing the textbook, the other teaching us kanji, just to cover the shortfall. Result: my reading skills are terrible, because I mostly only read the romanization. Surprise, surprise.)

#61 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 05:21 AM:

@#60 Yep, you nailed it! That's what we used for the first two years, anyway. Our teacher did teach us hiragana, katakana, and the first two dozen kanji in our first semester, which helped. After that we were expected to write out each lesson in Japanese, and work from that. There were many serious problems with that book, but I learned several grammar tricks that my other classmates (who mostly started with Genki) never seemed to master.

We switched to a different book my junior year, when we got a new teacher, but the switch gave me some strange gaps.

The best text I ever used was the third one: "Japanese for College Students," ICU's proprietary book*. It had the perfect blend of straight Japanese, and just barely enough English to explain the grammar.

I wonder what the standard is nowadays? Japanese is so utterly different from all other languages**, so there's a lot of disagreement on how best to teach it.

*I wish I had the first two books in that series. I went there after I'd had four years in the states, and tested out of the first two courses.

**That's what my Japanese linguistics professor used to say, anyway.

#62 ::: Marie Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 05:42 AM:

@#61 -- We used Vol. 1 our first semester and Vol. 2 our second, with hiragana in the first week, katakana a couple of months later, and somewhere between 250 and 300 kanji in the first year. My class was crazy fast.

On the bright side, it meant that when I took a second year of Japanese at a different university five years later, the chunk I remembered was about on par with the end of their first-year course. The downside was that I ended up cramming the grammar into my head via the romanization, and memorized kanji just long enough to pass the quizzes, which did not lend itself to long-term retention.

(The one thing I will admit to liking from Jorden's book is the pitch markings on words and phrases. Every other instructional method I've seen leaves you to figure out the difference between "ima" (now) and "ima" (living room) by auditory osmosis.)

#63 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 06:00 AM:

Dave @38:

This leads, of course, to Twain's observation that in Germany tables and chairs have sex while young ladies have none.

Having spent a lot of years learning Latin, I've made my peace with gendered nouns, but Russian broke my brain with its verbs of motion.

See, Russian doesn't actually have a verb "to go" which covers all forms of motion. Instead, you have to say that someone "walked" or "went by water" or "went by vehicle" or "drove a vehicle" or one of a half-dozen other words. And if that wasn't enough verbs of motion have a special grammatical form that no other Russian verbs have.

See, most Russian verbs have a perfective/imperfective distinction (very roughly equivalent to "I was going" vs. "I went"). But verbs of motion have an additional iterative imperfect form, which distinguishes one-way from round-trip or habitual motion. So "I am driving to California [to move there and never come back]" is a different sentence from "I am driving to California [every week to see my mother]"

And of course, if you think there's some clear, simple, regular rule for distinguishing between these two forms, well, then you don't know very much about the irregularities of most natural languages.

This why I dropped Russian in the middle of my second quarter as an undergrad and never looked back.

#64 ::: marrije ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 06:09 AM:

@abi #54 : "Gij" is certainly used in Flanders, but also very much in Holland Below the Great Rivers. People from Brabant and below use it all the time in informal speech, certainly with friends/family and also (for those living Above the Rivers) when dropping back into native speech with fellow Brabanders.

I was at a birthday party yesterday, talking to a lady form Beneden-Leeuwen (map), which is below one of the Rivers, but only just, and I noticed she used it too. I had to look up the exact position of Beneden-Leeuwen, had never realised it was below the river, but it's good to see that the river rule seems to be true.

And on the subject of "anderhalf": my partner, who is from a slightly different part of the country than I am, uses "anderhalf honderd" for 150. This drives me NUTS. One doesn't do that! But apparently, one does where he comes from.

Language, it's fun :-)

#65 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 06:27 AM:

German does the same thing: Morgen means both 'tomorrow' and 'morning'.

As does Scots. "I'll see ye the morn" = I'll see you tomorrow.
And so, confusingly, "I'll see you tomorrow night" = "I'll see ye the morn's nicht."

#66 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 07:03 AM:

John D. Berry @ 57:
Although the latter sounds perfectly good to my ear, I think it's fairly recent in English. When I was young and had not yet become a pedant, older pedants would insist to me that "none" was short for "no one" and must always be treated as singular.

"None" as grammatically plural (as well as singular, depending on context) has actually been around for a long time; the original form (Anglo-Saxon nan) had both singular and plural inflections. See here for a discussion by Ben Zimmer.

#67 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 07:20 AM:

Leah Miller @ 61:
Japanese is so utterly different from all other languages, so there's a lot of disagreement on how best to teach it.

I've heard that Turkish is surprisingly easy for Japanese speakers to learn, because they happen to have very similar syntax; I would imagine this applies to the reverse as well (Turkish speakers trying to learn Japanese).

#68 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 08:53 AM:

Nicole J. Leboeuf-Little #25:

I tried this one on an old friend of mine (and a Spanish teacher) named Horton Dolphin; he laughed uproariously:

¿En las carreras de peces cual pez siempre llega el último?

El delfin.

For those who speak no Spanish: "In the fish races, which fish always comes last?" "The one at the end (the dolphin)". It's a perfect pun in Spanish.

#69 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 09:12 AM:

"Sesqui-" is nice; too bad English doesn't have it.

At Seven Score and Ten: The Civil War Sesquicentennial Day by Day:

From the New York Times, November 19, 1860:
Information has been received here that [former] Gov. AIKEN, of South Carolina, opposes secession.
Public sentiment seems to be settling down under the idea that Southern States, South Carolina included, will unite in a demand for an additional constitutional guaranty, which it is thought the Free States will cheerfully grant. A Convention of all the States can embody a new clause in the Constitution, securing the Slave States against further agitation, and fixing a geographical line — perhaps the old Missouri compromise line between Free and Slave Territory. Such is the solution of the difficulty by leading men here from all sections. In addition to this they entirely approve of the suggestion of the TIMES, that payment shall be made for slaves not surrendered under the Fugitive Slave act.
Hon. Mr. OTERO has written to New-Mexico, advising his constituents to connect their destiny with the Pacific States if the Union should be dissolved. Californians now here declare their purpose to advocate the establishment of an independent republic on the Pacific side. Q.
#70 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 09:13 AM:

I've studied Mandarin. Stative verbs, oy! They can be used as we would use an adjective, or as we would use the verb "to be" + an adjective. The color words in Mandarin are stative verbs. (OTOH, Mandarin also has the handy feature that light shades of all the colors are simply described by adding the word "fen" ["powdery"]. So "hong" is red, "fen hong" is pink. Also, the pronouns are gender neutral, which is nice.)

Then there was Greek. I got along better after I decided the language made no sense at all. Attic Greek had a separate verb for "to call (someone) Daddy" (pappadzo). And the 3 voices (active, passive, middle) came as a shock.

#71 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 09:31 AM:

Lila @70

I like that Greek verb. Makes me think of the French verb "tutoyer" which means "To call someone by the informal "you" instead of the formal version." That was the word that got me entranced with useful words in foreign languages that we haven't imported yet:

"barder"--to cover with rashers of bacon
"mepriser"--to hold someone in contempt

and all the glorious subtleties of insulting people in Yiddish.

#72 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 09:50 AM:

Sarah S @ 71:

I have certainly seen the past tense "barded" in cookbooks to cover the use of bacon (normally in cooking game), so I think that it has been imported into English.

#73 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 10:25 AM:

One thing I don't get about Poirot is how he speaks English. People with an incomplete mastery of a foreign language will sometimes fall back to the grammar and the sentence structures of their native tongue. I've never heard a francophone speak in English the way he does - although I have a friend from France who sounds like Inspecteur Clousot.

Of course, Poirot isn't French, but Belgian.

Meanwhile, it's interesting how my co-workers from India will say, not 'this morning', but 'today morning'.

#74 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 10:38 AM:

"I'm not a Frenchie - I'm a Belgie!"

- James Coco as Milo Perrier, Murder By Death

#75 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 10:59 AM:

Serge #73 - it could be that Christie was writing how she imagined english people would imagine a Belgian would speak English.

#76 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 11:05 AM:

You want weird language features? I've heard of a language where the word for "awsome" looks and sounds almost the same as the word for "awful". Said language also has a fairly confusing array of different past tenses that seem to serve very few practical purposes.

#77 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 11:08 AM:

guthrie @ 75... Quite probable, oui?

#78 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 11:15 AM:

marrije @64 said: And on the subject of "anderhalf": my partner, who is from a slightly different part of the country than I am, uses "anderhalf honderd" for 150. This drives me NUTS. One doesn't do that! But apparently, one does where he comes from.

My husband has a similar mental *twang* of wrongness when he hears one of our family friends saying things like, "The grass needs mowed really soon now," which is apparently an American regionalism of a region he is not from. :-> I understand it's relatively common in various British Englishes, too.

Then there's the fact that the same friend calls kitchen cooking tongs (and salad-serving tongs, etc) 'tweezers', which is SIMPLY WRONG. :->

Lila @70 said: Then there was Greek. I got along better after I decided the language made no sense at all. Attic Greek had a separate verb for "to call (someone) Daddy" (pappadzo). And the 3 voices (active, passive, middle) came as a shock.

I took Homeric Greek, not Attic, and let me tell YOU, after one year of THAT, I never again called Classical Latin complicated. The the full (legal-size) page grids of JUST THE ENDINGS for a single conjugation? Actually, the mood (voice? I think it was a mood) that broke my head was aorist, which is exclusively used for expressing hypothetical situations which are wishes or prayers. So instead of using a helper verb to distinguish it the way Latin and English do, "May you have many sons" is a different verb-ending of have than "You have many sons" and "You will have many sons" and so on.

I got a pity C in that class, because the teacher saw how very hard I was working (and how enthusiastic I was about it in general, despite my piss-poor ability to memorize sheets of verb endings, vocab words, etc).

I am continually amazed, taking Spanish now, (a) how much of it is basically the same as parts of Latin ... duh, and (b) how much SIMPLER it is than Classical Latin and Homeric Greek! I mean, dude, the nouns don't DECLINE! The adjectives only have to match in gender and number! Whee!

However, many of my monolingual American classmates were having huge problems with stuff they didn't know English did (various conjugation things; adjective agreement in number), as well as the things Spanish does that English doesn't (noun gender, accents, different -- and much more consistent -- phonics).

#79 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 11:42 AM:

marrije @64 and Elliott Mason @78, This drives me NUTS. One doesn't do that! But apparently, one does where he comes from.

When I was in graduate school in psychology, I worked as a research assistant to a professor who studied "nonconscious information processing" - those things you learn without ever being consciously aware of noticing or learning them. He was Polish, and the main thing that had sparked his interest in this line of research was the number of times, as he tried to improve his English, he would ask someone why they said things one way and not another, and they would reply, "I don't know, it just sounds right."

The regionalism of American English that I don't share that drives me nuts is to use "with" with an implied but not stated object. As in, "I'm going to the store, do you want to go with?" That's just wrong. It's either "do you want to go?" or "do you want to go with ME?" NOT "go with."

#80 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 11:46 AM:

@Leah Miller #56

Just to split a hair... the "3rd group" adjectives (~な) are undeniably nouns. A sentence like, "部屋のきれいは私の自慢です" should be a clear example (in case you don't have good language support: "Heya no kirei ha watakushi no jiman desu." [and for those of you who aren't torturing yourself with the world's vaguest language: (in unnatural, but grammer preserving English) "My room's cleanness is my point of pride."]) This is not きれいな部屋は私の自慢です。-- Kirei na heya ha watakushi no jiman. -- My clean room is my point of pride.

There is no excuse for denying their noun status. But they are a syntactically distinct class of noun for which use as a modifier is so common that speakers have permission to use a different (more specific, and semantically clear) particle when they are using them as modifiers.
Treating them as "adjectives with different grammar" is a sloppy short-cut. Though, it's hard to deny the need to take short-cuts while learning Japanese!

#81 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 11:50 AM:

Greek was the rock on which I almost broke my university education. I took first-year Greek three times: freaked out and dropped out as a freshman, passed it but didn't really inhabit the language as a sophomore, finally got comfortable with it on my junior year abroad.

I read some of the Odyssey in the original, which was an irreplaceable experience. But it was definitely my high-water mark in Greek, and I graduated without taking enough classes in it to have it as an official minor.

Unlike Latin, I have forgotten Greek entirely, and thus lapsed back into barbarism.

#82 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 11:52 AM:

theophylact #69:

We all learned the meaning of "sesqui" in 1990.

#83 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 11:57 AM:

OtterB @79:

...the number of times, as he tried to improve his English, he would ask someone why they said things one way and not another, and they would reply, "I don't know, it just sounds right."

That is my all but unvarying experience with Dutch word order. It's very rigid, and beyond the basics (conjugated verb goes second, participles to the end of the sentence, time then manner then place in increasing order of specificity, verb at the end of dependent clauses but second in independent ones), no one can explain it. It just is, or in the case of my attempts, is not.

#84 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 12:00 PM:

TSA. Flight attendant with 35 years in the industry, and with a prosthesis after breast cancer.

You know exactly where this is going, right?

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/11/19/national/main7070415.shtml

#85 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 12:08 PM:

John D. Berry #57

My favorite confusion of number is sentences like, "What we're looking at here are acres of poppies."
I'm not really sure, but I think what you're looking at is an annoying border case of non-semantic subjects. 'Here' and 'there' for whatever bizarre reason got drafted into filling spaces in sentences where subjects ought to be, but using a subject is even too inconvenient for an 'it' (e.g. "It's fun to play baseball at night.").
The simple case is stuff like, "There is a pencil."
At any rate, the issue is that the actual subject of the content is not the subject of the sentence. That the verb responds to the actual subject rather than the syntactic subject... is bizarre, but not really arcane or especially confusing. (Though I wouldn't want to have to teach a one-point lesson on the topic).

#86 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 12:18 PM:

OtterB @ 79, "go/come with" in that usage seems to be a regional variation on "go/come along."

I suspect "go along" is the same kind of abbreviation -- "Do you want to go along [with me]?" The OED says this usage dates at least back to 1590, and it is certainly more widespread and accepted.

I found someone's dissertation on the "come with" construction. I am reading it with great interest.

The author states that "with" was used in a similar fashion in Old and Middle English: "Defende and kepe þe soule of þy...seruant... and, þy grace goyng wiþ, dyrecte hym by þe wey of pes" (a 1450 example given in the OED). He doesn't argue that the American English construction goes that far back, but just points out that the "go with" construction exists elsewhere.

"Come with" is apparently also a literal translation of a sentence construction in German, Norwegian, and Swedish. Makes sense -- in English, it tends to be used in Minnesota and Wisconsin, which had lots of immigrants who spoke those languages.

Man, this dissertation is neat.

#87 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 12:22 PM:

Sarah S. @84: What I really, really don't get about the whole non-debate ("Not cool, dude! Really really not cool!" / "Well, if you don't let us do everything we want, fifty airplanes a day will blow up. Are you on the side of the terrorists??") going on about the current scan-you-or-grope-you TSA policy is this:

When did flying become so radically dangerous that what is effectively a strip-search became utterly necessary for basic security?

Because it is a strip-search, either way, it's just faster than asking people to take off all their clothes. I don't get why people don't realize how completely unreasonable it is to go from 'walk through a metal detector, x-ray your luggage, and occasionally have a chemical test for explosives' to 'strip search EVERYONE'.

What's next, cavity examinations? If there's one thing the shoe bomber and the Christmas underwear dude have proved, it's that when you're carrying that little explosive, the other passengers will notice you trying to light yourself on fire! Which is self-solving, really.

And something like 40-60% of suitcases are going into passenger-plane holds without having been X-rayed. Not to mention the whole mail-freight thing -- almost no mail-freight is ever examined in detail, and it flies in passenger holds all the time.

But no, leap straight to the strip-searches. What? Seriously? Why are more conservative, corn-belt grandparents (you know, 'Real Americans') not up in arms about this?

... sorry. I try not to politically vent all over ML; it's too valuable to me as a friendly, fun, cromulent, thinky safe-space. But I just can't help it. Everything I hear (from 'both sides', as if the two sides are covering all viewpoints) on the news lately is completely ignoring the gripping-hand of the issue: universal strip-searches are a measure far out of proportion to the nature of the problem they claim to solve.

#88 ::: Walter Hawn ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 12:26 PM:

English used to have "half-again," which covers the same territory, but it some how got shuffled aside last century.

#89 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 12:29 PM:

theophylact, #69: Asimov used "sesquicentennial" in "The Bicentennial Man", and I had to figure it out from context. That does seem to be the only place where it occurs in English.

James, #72: I wonder whether that sense has any relation to "barding" as the armor on a knight's horse, or (later) any sort of ceremonial decking-out of a horse?

Serge, #73: Surely you aren't suggesting that Poirot's mastery of English would be anything short of perfect?! That would not be orderly or methodical!

Elliott, #78: The "needs mowed" thing is from somewhere in the Great Plains area, I think; not Iowa (or my father would have had it), but perhaps Nebraska. I had a friend who used it, and some of it got into my speech patterns for a while. When I moved here, my partner found it sufficiently grating that I eradicated it again.

#90 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 12:31 PM:

The aspect of Japanese grammar I'm currently drilling into my neural patterns are those verbs that are stative in English but active in Japanese. That, for example, shiru means not that I know something continuously (expressing a state), but that I know it at a single moment (an action), and that to say I know something continuously, I have to use the progressive form shitte iru ("I am knowing"). Tomu o shiru will be understood not as "I know Tom," as English speakers might expect, but as "I will/intend to know Tom." And similarly with motsu ("have/hold"), and others that don't slice the verbal semantic space the way English does.

And which I am finally buckling down to (try to) memorize.

---L.

#91 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 12:37 PM:

@OtterB 79: It took an eighth-grade Spanish class and the grammar lessons therein to teach me the wherefores of the English grammar I'd simply accepted as given up to then.

#92 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 12:38 PM:

Lee @ 89... It'd indeed appear that Poirot's little grey cells do lapse in the area of language. C'est horrible!

#93 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 12:42 PM:

@87: I wrote a long blog post (linked by my name) about why the scanners and "enhanced pat downs" are way over my line, enough to keep me from flying unless I really have to. I won't repeat it here.

I think a lot of conservative Americans are up in arms about this. Drudge has been all over it. The FlyerTalk forums, which seem to be about equal parts liberal and conservative, are all up in arms. Comments on news sites, which tend to be extremely right-wing, are pretty uniform in their anger. (Yes, someone will inevitably pop up saying "I'd rather be strip-searched than blown up," but they're also inevitably met with several people asking if they'd be okay with mandatory cavity searches, then.) Even the ACLU blog got several comments from people who identified themselves as conservatives who usually hate the ACLU, but might actually donate to them for this fight.

Frankly, the fact that the media is running with so many TSA horror stories right now shows that "middle America" is really against the new searches. The media is in the business of selling fear and outrage to get eyeballs, and there appears to be a lot of demand for this particular fear and outrage. Which in this case I consider a good thing.

#94 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 12:53 PM:

Caroline @86 Fascinating history of the "come with" construction. I had no idea.

#95 ::: E. Liddell ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 12:59 PM:

The Spanish puns above brought the following extended French pun to mind:

"Je suis ce que je suis, mais je ne suis pas ce que je suis . . . parce que si j'etais ce que je suis, je ne serais pas ce que je suis!"

(For those who have no French--the first person singular, present tense of "to be" and "to follow" are both "suis", so there are several possible translations of the above, but only one of them makes sense: "I am what I am, but I am not what I follow . . . because if I were what I follow, I would not be what I am!")

#96 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 01:01 PM:

OtterB @ 94, I didn't either! Thank you for mentioning it and leading me to look it up and find cool new knowledge.

#97 ::: Hmpf ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 01:04 PM:

@ Xoper #44: German native speaker living in Germany here: I've never heard (or seen) "Mädchen" used with a female article. What I do see is people shifting to a female pronoun later in a sentence (or in a later sentence) when referring to a "Mädchen" who was mentioned earlier in the sentence (or in an earlier sentence). E.g. "Als das Mädchen spazieren ging, stolperte sie über einen Stein." While this is still considered ungrammatical, it does seem to be gaining currency. So maybe in a few decades it will be accepted usage. On the one hand this drives me mad, because how can the subject of the sentence change sex? Arrgh! On the other hand, using a neutral pronoun for a girl gives me some cognitive dissonance, too. So maybe it's not so bad that this is changing. Hm.

Re: anderhalf: This concept exists in German, too: "anderthalb" would be the word here.

#98 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 01:10 PM:

While I was in Australia for Worldcon, I picked up a book on aboriginal Australian languages, and some of them make the masculine/feminine distinction look downright simple. Murrinh-Patha has ten classes of nouns, for example, with different articles for each:

kardu: Aboriginal people.

ku: Non-Aboriginal human beings, animals, and animal products.

kura: Fresh water, and other drinkable liquids, but not milk.

mi: Flowers, fruits, vegetable foods, shit.

thamul: Spears.

thu: Other offensive weapons, and things that strike other things, like lightning or playing cards.

thungku: Fire, things associated with fire.

da: Places, seasons, etc.

murrinh: Language and similar concepts (like "school").

nanthi: Everything else.

The class a noun belongs to can change depending on the context. For instance, if you eat an egg, it's ku, but if you throw it at someone, it's thu. A hunter is kardu, unless he's not Aboriginal, in which case he's ku. Penis is nanthi; if you use ku instead, it's a snake.

#99 ::: Hmpf ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 01:26 PM:

Whoops, sorry for misspelling your name. I meant "Xopher", not "Xoper", of course.

BTW, speaking of concepts that exist in languages you're learning but not in your first language: the most mindboggling thing about English to me has always been the existence of different collective nouns for all kinds of different animals. In German, there's probably less than ten of those, and nearly none, I think, that only apply to one specific kind of animal. Basically, we have the equivalents of pack, herd, school, swarm, flock, and a few more. Nothing as specific as, say, a parliament of rooks.

Likewise, the adjectives relating to animals that are used in English are amazing. In German, the equivalents of "bovine", "feline" or "canine" would only be used by zoologists. In normal spoken or written German, people would say something like "cat-like" or "dog-like" instead of using a latin-derived term. Fun fact: I have a certain passive knowledge of Latin vocabulary largely thanks to my fairly advanced English vocabulary.

All this fits in with my observation that to speak or write more than very basic English, you need a *huge* vocabulary. I'd be interested in finding out what the average vocabulary of native English speakers is versus that of native German speakers. Maybe not the real average of the entire population, but the average of people at a certain, comparable educational level. I do remember reading somewhere that the total number of words in English is much higher than in German. Something like 1 mio. vs. 600,000 or so.

#100 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 01:38 PM:

Lee @ 89 -- There's also "sesquipedalian".

#101 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 01:41 PM:

The regionalism of American English that I don't share that drives me nuts is to use "with" with an implied but not stated object. As in, "I'm going to the store, do you want to go with?" That's just wrong. It's either "do you want to go?" or "do you want to go with ME?" NOT "go with."

I think this one is a foreign (German) construction dragged over into English, as opposed to a native-English regionalism. "Are you coming with" and "make the light out" are both word-for-word translations from German, and I've only run into those constructions in communities where German is an important background language.

#102 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 01:50 PM:

Elliot #87:

My sense of this is that almost everyone with a voice has an incentive to overstate the threat:

a. Media sources benefit from the urgency of fear and a siege mentality, so they want to amp up the fear about a terrorist attack.

b. Current politicians and appointees benefit from the tendency of most people to shut up and obey and support the leader when they're scared. Further, to the extent that deciding whom to buy those zillion-dollars-a-pop porno scanners from is a way to reward friends and punish enemies, more fear = more power to make such purchases.

c. Challenger politicians can benefit by proclaiming that the incumbents are ignoring or underemphasizing the threat. You can see this in the discussions surrounding civilian trials for detainees, for example[1].

d. The folks who are selling the porno scanners, representing the agencies buying and using them, representing the contractors selling services to those agencies, or speaking on behalf of the agency's employees, all have an incentive to amp up the fear.

Who has a corresponding incentive to decrease the fear? I think it's quite hard to run as a politician on a "stop freaking out" platform w.r.t. terrorism, though that would definitely get my vote. Airlines are the only ones I can think of with such an incentive who also have PR departments and money to spread around ensuring their voice is heard on TV. And I have to guess that airlines aren't super excited about establishing a bad relationship with TSA or DHS or either big political party.

[1] While we can't safely try KSM in a civilian court anywhere in the US, because there may be a small number of poorly-prepared followers who would attack the trial, we can safely try Mexican drug lords in civilian courts in the US. After all, it's not like their organizations have lots of well-armed goons on payroll, or have extensively infiltrated US police agencies and courts and prisons.

#103 ::: y ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 02:07 PM:

I think that if the dual pronouns had survived in English, they would be something like wit (= we two) and yit (= you two). Try dropping those into your conversations some time.

Classical Greek of course had the dual too--in keeping with the rule of thumb that where Latin has two of something, Greek has to have three. With that plus combinatorics, you get the full-page conjugations Elliott Mason describes. (Actually I suspect you're thinking of the optative, not the aorist, though both are weird enough.)

#104 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 02:08 PM:

@Scott #80

You are, of course, totally correct about the "na nominals" (as the inimitable Harz Jorden called them) being slightly odd nouns rather than really weird adjectives. I will admit to looking at a cheat sheet online to make sure I wasn't saying anything wildly inaccurate... and I ended up being led astray. It seems to be common practice to teach the "na" nouns as adjectives now, which seems very foolish. Almost all the basic online guides, even ones that are really good about everything else, have them listed that way. (As does the commonly used "genki" textbook, if I recall correctly).

So yes, go back to #56 and replace "There are another set of adjectives that are definitely not nouns, but use a similar construction, replacing no with na." with "Many words we would consider adjectives are essentially nouns, using the same construction as the possessive above, only with na in place of no."

#105 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 02:16 PM:

And now for something completely different: Charge your cellphone with a hamster!

#106 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 02:30 PM:

Xopher (44): My home dialect also has 'half again'. I got some strange looks when I tried to use it here, however.

#26/29/31/41/53: (re Spanish, German, and Dutch all using the same word for 'morning' and 'tomorrow')

It occurs to me that that is also true in English, in a limited sense. If someone says "I'll do that in the morning," they don't necessarily mean "before noon on an unspecified day," they often mean something like "it's too late to do that today, I'll do it first thing tomorrow."

[posting this now, then going back and catching up with the rest of the thread...]

#107 ::: Chris Grealy ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 02:36 PM:

Just thought you'd like to know that this blog does not display properly in Firefox 3.6.12
Cheers

#108 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 02:38 PM:

Chris Grealy @107:

It certainly does on my Mac; I'm using that very version right now. What's your OS, and what's wrong?

#109 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 02:41 PM:

And I'm using 3.6.12 on a PC and it looks just as fine as always.

#110 ::: Mattathias ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 02:52 PM:

Chris @107: I'm using Firefox 3.6.12 on Windows Vista Home Premium SP2 (gack, barf) and it displays fine.

#111 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 02:58 PM:

No problems here on a Mac laptop, with 3.6.12.

#112 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 03:09 PM:

John D. Berry (57): When I was young and had not yet become a pedant, older pedants would insist to me that "none" was short for "no one" and must always be treated as singular.

All of my teachers insisted on that, through elementary and high school (1970s and very early 1980s). They also insisted that "everyone" is singular and can't be followed by 'their'.

Caroline (86): I'm guessing that the 'come with' construction also appears in Yiddish; it's pretty common on Long Island, too.

Lee (89): I hear the 'needs mowed' construction on Long Island as well.

#113 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 03:46 PM:

I also suspect that the crew who've taken over our country would rather we didn't travel around so much, especially to other countries. Isolation makes it much easier to control people....

#114 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 03:57 PM:

I'm using Firefox 3.6.12, and I can't see any of the legally mandated "U R homo LOL", "OMG STFU u sux", or "terrorist-loving liberal nanny state moonbat" comments on any of the comment threads here, so I think there must be something wrong with the HTML formatting.

(But seriously, care to explicate, Chris?)

#115 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 04:11 PM:

David #113:

I suspect that's a happy side-effect rather than a goal, but yeah, I think a lot of the propaganda we're used to (of the form "America's #1 on everything") falls incredibly flat once you've spent any significant time outside the US. Indeed, even reading significant amounts from outside the US is a kind of antidote to that thinking.

#116 ::: Stewart Hinsley ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 04:38 PM:

@89, @100

Sesqui- is used in rather more words than sesquicentennial and sesquipedalian and their derivatives, though most belong to specialist jargons. A little digging with Google gets me to over 30 words, but if I suspect that if I dug further into chemical terminology the number could be raised considerably.

To paraphrase James Nicoll, never underestimate the rapacity of the English language.

#117 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 04:50 PM:

Clifton Royston @ #114

This moose has no trouble with the formatting using Safari 5.0.2 on a Mac, nor with the appalling IE 6.whatever at Ork.

Except... OMG! I can't see the fnords...

#118 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 04:54 PM:

For several years I was a conversational English language tutor. All of my students were Japanese. One thing I learned by accident is that there are some tongue twisters that translate intact. To wit, they twist tongues in English, too.

The one I remember best is:
Nama mugi nama gomei nama tamago.
or
Raw wheat, raw rice, raw eggs.

It was also of much interest to us that the elementary schools (at least the one she went to) sang the same pioneer songs my grandfather sang.

#119 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 05:09 PM:

It seems appropriate to note on a thread discussing language that today is the 147th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.

I memorized it in grade school, and could indeed recite it from memory for many years. No longer -- but bits and pieces do remain.

#120 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 05:27 PM:

Lizzy L @ 119...

"Four score and seven years ago..."

That reminds me it's been a long time since I watched The Music Man.

#121 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 05:41 PM:

Fascinating language discussion!

Re: grammar, my problem is I've never actually been taught English, I just happen to speak it very well. Somewhere along the way I managed not to get any formal grammar education at all.

It took me weeks of high school French to understand "to be". I'd honestly never considered "I am", "We are" etc to have the same root. Yet I can speak and write perfectly grammatical English without actually really understanding formal grammar, and I'm even a pretty good amateur proofreader. Go figure.

More interesting, re regionalisms and translations dragged into English: South African English uses "right now" in the same sense that Spanish casually uses "manana", ie "sometime soon but not immediately". Give that "right now" sounds, to a native English speaker, a LOT like "right away, immediately", this has been the cause of some confusion. And tension, between my South African expat father and Canadian-raised stepmother. ;-)

Oh, and the blog looks fine on Ubuntu 9.10 (Linux!) in a couple of browsers.

#122 ::: bentley ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 05:57 PM:

- He reñido a un hostelero.
- ¿Por qué? ¿Dónde? ¿Cuándo? ¿Cómo?
- Porque donde cuando como, sirven mal, me desespero.

#123 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 06:31 PM:

Wirelizard @ 121:

It took me weeks of high school French to understand "to be". I'd honestly never considered "I am", "We are" etc to have the same root.

Ironically, they mostly don't. Well, they're certainly all inflections of "to be" in Modern English, but in origin they come from what were originally several distinct words. I think the progression is something like: am/is/are came from one root, and added was/were (from a different root) as past-tense forms before or during the Anglo-Saxons period; then this conglomerate merged with "be" during the Middle English period.

Yet I can speak and write perfectly grammatical English without actually really understanding formal grammar, and I'm even a pretty good amateur proofreader. Go figure.

The first part is hardly unusual; understanding formal grammar is pretty much irrelevant to speaking (or writing) grammatically in your native language.

#124 ::: bentley ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 06:33 PM:

Caroline @86: I know I picked up "come with" from watching episodes of "Buffy" (e.g.)

Elliott @78: I've noticed that I seem to be in the process of picking up the construction "needs mowed," "needs painted," etc. I moved to the Chicago northwest suburbs from southcentral Michigan nine years ago. At the moment, I waver between "needs mowed" and "needs mowing."

#125 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 06:45 PM:

Lizzy L @119:

So the Gettysburg Address was seven score and seven years ago? Nifty.

#126 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 06:54 PM:

abi, #51, yes, I originally wrote it in a text file, just in case. I'll put it back on the Arrows & Bananas comments.

#127 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 07:08 PM:

John D. Berry @57 and Scott @ 85

My favorite confusion of number is sentences like, "What we're looking at here are acres of poppies."
I'm not really sure, but I think what you're looking at is an annoying border case of non-semantic subjects. 'Here' and 'there' for whatever bizarre reason got drafted into filling spaces in sentences where subjects ought to be, but using a subject is even too inconvenient for an 'it' (e.g. "It's fun to play baseball at night.").

I suspect the problem isn't the word "here", actually, because I can get the same "sounds sort of OK" sense from "What we're looking at are acres of poppies." (Whereas "The thing we're talking about here are acres of poppies" sounds obviously wrong to me.) I suspect the trick may lie in the fact that a phrase like "what we're looking at [here]" doesn't seem as obviously singular as "the thing we're talking about"; this might allow the plurality of "acres" to influence the verb.

#128 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 07:21 PM:

Bentley #122:

Eso me lleva a mi clase de secundaria en 1969. En aquel entonces el diálogo empezó:

- He reñido con mi hostelero.

#129 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 07:27 PM:

Needs mowed, needs washed, needs fixed, etc. -- I always thought that was mostly a southwestern Pennsylvania thing, but it sounds like it might be more widespread than that. (On a totally unrelated note, why do more expensive hotel chains charge you for internet access and cheaper ones don't?)

On the browser issue, Making Light seems to display just fine on whatever it is my phone uses.

#130 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 07:36 PM:

Lila@70: actually παππαζω is older than Attic Greek; it shows up in the Iliad. In general -ζω or -ιζω is a verbalizing suffix -- it's the source of our "ize" (from the infinitive form -ιζειν). The one I really liked when I stumbled on it in the dicitionary was τἰζω. "τἰ" is an interrogative pronoun, "what", so (this was apparently a nonce-word made up by a comic playwright) "τἰζω" is "to say 'what?' all the time".

Another amusing verb is κἰσσαω, which is "experience strange food cravings during pregnancy". (I came across that one while reading The Bacchae -- ivy, "κισσος", is a symbol of Dionysus, and one possible declension of κισσος is the same as one possible conjugation of κἰσσαω.)

Elliott Mason@78: That is a mood, but it's the optative mood -- aorist is a tense, really quite an easy tense whose only bizarre thing is the name; if they called it "simple past" English speakers would have no trouble with it. (At least in the indicative mood; other moods get a little more complicated, yes.)

While the grammar of Homeric Greek may be more baroque than that of Latin, the actual reading is much different, at least for me. I'm currently participating in two online groups: one doing a book of the Odyssey, and another reading some of Cicero's speeches. I can knock off a translation of 15 lines of the Odyssey in about ten minutes, but an equivalent amount of Cicero is much harder and takes much longer.

My sense (which may be unfair) of Latin is that it's much more rigid; Latin poetry has many more spondees than Greek. Greek is more wild and free. Latin is

atque in perpetuum, frāter, avē atque valē
while Greek is
ἦμος δ᾽ ἠριγένεια φάνη ῥοδοδάκτυλος Ἠώς

#132 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 08:20 PM:

Hmpf 99: English vocabulary is mostly Latin-derived (at some remove; for example this counts words we got from Norman French (if they were French rather than Norse), Spanish, etc.) at this point. Also English has a larger vocabulary (total inventory of words) than any other modern language. Only Ancient Greek (Attic or Homeric, I'm not sure*) had more words in it in history.

As for the vocabulary of the average person, I have no idea. It's pretty easy to come up with a word someone else has never heard of, though.
____
*I'd think it'd be Attic, though. I mean, where else would you store all those extra words?

#133 ::: Cassandra ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 08:22 PM:

@ David Goldfarb #130:

Except that the lines you compare are different metrically; the Latin is the pentameter of an elegiac couplet, and the Greek is a dactylic hexameter.

I agree with you that the Odyssey is much easier going than Cicero, though--or Catullus! Once you've learned how Homeric Greek works, you can keep rolling along like a shameless rock down a hill.

#134 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 08:25 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft @ 129 ...
(On a totally unrelated note, why do more expensive hotel chains charge you for internet access and cheaper ones don't?)

They assume that you can either afford it, or you're a business traveller, and your employer is affording it ...

#135 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 09:53 PM:

xeger, #24, that's why the comment number is there!

Chris Grealy, #107, I just checked and I'm using 3.6.12 and it works fine here. Can you tell us the problem specifically?

#136 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 10:37 PM:

Ironically, they mostly don't. Well, they're certainly all inflections of "to be" in Modern English, but in origin they come from what were originally several distinct words. I think the progression is something like: am/is/are came from one root, and added was/were (from a different root) as past-tense forms before or during the Anglo-Saxons period; then this conglomerate merged with "be" during the Middle English period.

If you're interested in looking up more about it, the process is called "suppletion". Another English example is go/went.

#137 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 12:07 AM:

#122 ::: bentley @122: I''ve been meaning for a while to write some multifunctional-word-disambiguation mnemomic sentences. I know one will involve being asked what (¿Comó?) I eat (como), whose response involves being hungry for a man (tengo hambre por el hombre). Cannibalism is almost as fun as velociraptors. :->

The really fun one to compose, though, is going to be the one using at least 6 separate senses/meanings of esta/está, pronouns, verbs, and all.

#138 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 12:33 AM:

Hmpf@99: The terms you list are really the only ones in common usage. All those other ones are just amusing trivia, you'll hardly ever hear anyone actually say them.

Cassandra@133: I wasn't really intending to compare those two lines directly in terms of meter or anything like that, just to give a high-level description of their feel. I have read the Aeneid, and it seemed to me that it had many more spondees and spondaic lines than Homer does, but I admit I didn't actually count them.

(I also noticed that the war scenes had rather more varied imagery* than the Iliad had, and it didn't have Homer's continuity lapses, which inclines me towards thinking that there was not one single poet named Homer...that's a whole other discussion, though.)

*Reading the Iliad caused me more than once to roll my eyes and say, "Oh yay, another lion simile." (If it wasn't lions, it was wild boar.)

#139 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 12:46 AM:

David Goldfarb @ #138, you've forgotten "rosy-fingered dawn."

Every damned day, rosy-fingered dawn. Just once I'd have liked to read that it was bloody raining.

#140 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 12:49 AM:

Not to mention wine-dark seas. And swift-footed ... and, etc.

Taking that class did cause me to gain a verbal tic: appending suchlike accolades to proper nouns in my conversation, like "Oh, look, here comes [classmate], hair bright-shining ... um. Sorry." or "That test was really hard. Sharp-penned [Teacher] had it in for us."

#141 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 12:51 AM:

Okay, I'm wrong. "Rosy-fingered dawn" was meant to describe Eos opening the gates of heaven so Apollo could drive his chariot across the skies, or so Wikipedia tells me.

Somehow my junior year high school teacher missed that when we read The Iliad or else I'd forgotten it. I thought it was just Homer playing weatherman.

#142 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 01:03 AM:

David, 138: Yes, AIUI it's widely accepted that Homer-who-was-legion cobbled together the Iliad from a bunch of prior epics. That's why the list of ships sticks out like a sore thumb; it's considerably older than the plotty bits. It was all orally composed, too; nobody wrote stuff down until much later. That's why there were so many formulae, so you could vamp while you tried to remember who got killed next.

#143 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 01:18 AM:

Peter Erwin @ 122

The first part is hardly unusual; understanding formal grammar is pretty much irrelevant to speaking (or writing) grammatically in your native language.

This is widely believed by English speakers, perhaps because it is more or less true for English. And there may be other languages it is true for as well. But having watched my (francophone) daughter transition from an English-speaking to a French-speaking school a few years back, I'm not sure it's true for (written) French. I suspect the reason is that written French makes all sorts of distinctions that are not phonetically present in the spoken language, or only vestigially so, such as the silent 'ent' on 3rd person plurals.

(My wife says it tells one something about the character of the two languages that 'so-and-so writes like he speaks' is a compliment to an English speaker, but an insult to a French-speaker.)

Linkmeister @ 139: I've got a friend who reckons that ancient Greek roses were white, on the basis of a line in Sappho about the 'rosy-fingered moon'. I don't know if there's any chance he's right; but it hyas made me see that stock epithet ina different way.

#144 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 01:26 AM:

Also the sea was wine-dark. I'm told that wound locations were always given in relation to the nipple, but I haven't actually read it myself.

#145 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 01:46 AM:

praisegod barebones @143 said: I've got a friend who reckons that ancient Greek roses were white, on the basis of a line in Sappho about the 'rosy-fingered moon'. I don't know if there's any chance he's right; but it hyas made me see that stock epithet ina different way.

My Greek teacher explained it by saying that all the 'rosy-fingered' things weren't talking about the OBJECTS, they were talking about the personified goddesses of same -- so imagine clear-skinned alabaster visions of loveliness, whose fingers are so unused to work that they have a delicate pink flush around their edges and tips. Etc.

He also had a heck of a time explaining 'wine-dark' to some of my classmates; that led to a digression through how the Ancient Greeks apparently chunked up their colors VERY differently than we do in English.

#146 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 02:05 AM:

Janet Brennan Croft... I met Connie Willis tonight and, yes, she still had that Bishop's Bird Stump you and others had made from one of the hotel's wastebaskets.

#147 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 02:09 AM:

Random open thread plug:

The annual Desert Bus For Hope charity gaming marathon started a few hours ago.

During this multi-day ordeal, members of my favorite internet sketch group play the most boring video game ever created: Desert Bus. It was part of a never-released mid-90s Penn and Teller video game, "Smoke and Mirrors." Designed in response to criticism of violent games at the time, the Desert Bus portion of the project embodied the possible alternative: it was a "realistic" video game. In it, you drive a bus from Tuscon to Las Vegas in real time. The trip takes eight hours, and the bus veers randomly to the right, meaning you must monitor it constantly, steering left occasionally, or crash. If you lose control, or stop paying attention for more than a moment, the bus unspectacularly runs off the road and is towed back to your city of origin. The reward for completing the journey without crashing? A single point, and an offer to make a return trip.

Of course the game itself isn't the primary source of entertainment (though you can watch the screen on their Bus Cam). The comedians sing songs, recite poetry, play games, dance and do various wacky challenges, all in pursuit of further donations, all while at least one of them plays the game. A moment ago the driver was wearing a tower of ten funny hats. After that a man solved a rubix cube in under two minutes and then sang "I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General."

There's also a maker component. Last year fans of the group and of the charity made tons nerdy crafts and sent them in. There were embroidered video game towels, gorgeous hand-knitted lace scarves with the group's logo, paintings, sculptures, sketches and more. This year promises to have even more great crafts, all to be auctioned or raffled off during the marathon.

Proceeds go to Child's Play, a charity that buys toys, games, and activities for kids in hospitals.

It's hilarious piled on awesome combined with heartwarming. When I was twelve and my brother was seven, I got a new bike and he got my old one. He wasn't used to its speed or controls, so he flew down the hill behind our house and into a telephone pole. He damaged his spleen and had to spend the entire summer in the hospital, the NES that was wheeled from room to room on a cart was the only bright spot for him. I know how miserable kids can be in hospitals, and thinking of all the good these guys do makes me a little teary-eyed. I can't help it.

Desert Bus earns between fifty and a hundred thousand dollars each year for Child's Play, and Child's Play itself has been bringing in over a million dollars a year for the last several years. I heartily recommend you watch, donate, or bid.

#148 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 02:24 AM:

Hmmm. Google Maps estimates the trip at 7 hrs 23 minutes (Tucson to Las Vegas). I'd expect it to take a little less....

#149 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 06:50 AM:

I missed having an Armistice Day thread here this year. That is all.

#150 ::: Ole Phat Stu ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 07:38 AM:

FWIW, our German word "doch" can mean either 'certainly' or 'certainly NOT!', depending on context ;-)

Also FWIW, the whole bit about the resurrection was only put in the bible just so that the authors could show off by writing long palindromes in Hebrew. (This stupid comment box won't let me write the palindromes in Hebrew here, just you'll just have to take my word for it :-(

#151 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 10:26 AM:

Hmmm. I just tried to post a moderately long, link-heavy post on another thread here, and got a rather opaque "an error occurred" message back.

#152 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 11:16 AM:

albatross @151:

I'm afraid your comment is neither in the pending pen nor the spam bucket. Did you have it saved somewhere? Want to try again?

#153 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 12:10 PM:

In the same vein as Avram's post cross-thread: This piece by a Nobel prizewinning economist talks about the changing meaning of "the rule of law" in the US, w.r.t. foreclosure reform.

For more in-depth detail: This series of posts explains the foreclosure documentation mess pretty nicely--it was recommended by Yves at Naked Capitalism and by the guys at The Baseline Scenario, folks that understand finance and law quite well.

This Talibbi article is more colorful and more small-picture, but also explains what's going on.

This all has consequences. If I'm on a jury, and know that prosecutors and policemen who lie on the stand or manufacture or destroy evidence will face no penalty at all, that's going to make me more skeptical, more likely to acquit someone who probably is guilty, because I'm not sure the evidence hasn't been tampered with. If I'm considering doing business with some large company, I'm likely to prefer interactions that don't rely on a fair legal and regulatory system to keep them from screwing me over (prepaid vs. contracts for cellphones, frex). If I'm convinced that all politicians are lying to me all the time, without even the consequences of having any maintream media call them on it, then I may not bother voting. If I hear a story about some elaborate government conspiracy (to hide Obama's Kenyan birth certificate, or to hide its involvement in the 9/11 attacks, or to cede sovereignty to a North American Union, or whatever), and I know that genuine conspiracies that violate law and decency are routinely ignored and pardoned when they're discovered, I may believe the rumors. When I consider investing money in some market, I'll certainly be thinking about the fact that widespread fraud and incompetence on the part of, say, rating agencies and regulators and market participants, has no consequences.

A lot of social mechanisms work because of trust, and trust comes partly from the existence of something like a trustworthy courts and public media and market mechanisms. The powers that be have, lately, found it necessary to visibly and massively corrupt those mechanisms, in order to protect themselves and their friends from consequences. This was rational for them, but disastrous for our society.

#154 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 12:13 PM:

abi:

My NoScript was reporting a possible XSS attack attempt when I tried posting this on the It's Good To Be All The Kings' Men thread. I couldn't quickly untangle what was going on there, so there may be a real problem or there may not.

#155 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 12:30 PM:

153
And this post shows you just how complicated mortgages can be: a specialist in (non-mortgage) securitization tries to sort out his own mortgage. The illustration on the post shows where he is after a year of investigating.

#156 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 12:50 PM:

P J, that reminds me of that scary chart opponents of something during the Bush years put out. Homeland Security, maybe? It was the most convoluted thing imaginable until I saw the chart you just linked. Wow.

#157 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 01:40 PM:

As a recovering organic chemist, I'm fond of sesquiterpenes. Terpenes are a class of natural products derived from two isoprene units and containing ten carbon atoms; familiar (and fragrant) members include pinene, menthol, citronellal, and carvone. Sesquiterpenes are homologous materials with 15 carbons.

#158 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 01:51 PM:

An outstanding defense of the humanities from a peer-reviewed biology journal.

#159 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 02:43 PM:

Tim, 158: How lovely! I hope C. Wingate reads it, if he can stop looking down his nose long enough.

#160 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 03:43 PM:

TexAnne @159:

Please, let's not talk about members of the community in the third person if we can avoid it.

#161 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 03:46 PM:

Abi, I shall certainly try.

#162 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 04:01 PM:

TexAnne @ 161...

Dough or donut, there is no rye.
(Actually, when you posted that, I found myself hearing the genie in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.)

#163 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 04:09 PM:

Serge, 162: A rye-based doughnut-esque thingy would be a bagel. Which leads me to ask--does anyone here have a favorite bagel recipe? I can't knead by hand, but I have a decent stand mixer w/dough hooks.

#164 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 04:33 PM:

Open-Thready question/mild request to Our Illustrious Hosts:

If it is trivially easy, could you add a link which goes back to the front page in the indicia between the comments and the posting box? Having the link at the top means taking an extra step to go there; using the "back" button means I don't see who's posted while I've been reading. It's a very small thing, a mild convenience only; with the length of many threads on this board, it does feel as if it might be convenient for others as well as myself, but clearly not worth a great deal of effort.

Thank you in advance for considering this.

#165 ::: Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 04:42 PM:

Coming a bit late to the party here, but Serge @ #7, that feels like a bit of a backhanded comparison. The letters «e», «é» and «è» really do signify different sounds in french orthography — and to just drop the accents is to mishandle the language.

A comparable quip about the English language could, for instance, point out that a word like

«bad»

connotes one of
1. the opposite of good
2. a winged mammal
3. a flat surface, for instance the landing place for a helicopter
4. a gentle flat-handed touching motion

depending on which of the two consonants you choose to voice.

#166 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 07:10 PM:

Hmm. It looks like the "Privilege Denying Dude" site is down. Maybe because bad things happened to the harmless guy whose picture they used (there were implications like that on the site the other day, but I didn't read in detail). Pity. I had contributed one. Above the picture: "Marriage is for having kids, and gays don't have kids." Below: "Only married couples should be allowed to adopt."

Ole Phat Stu 150: FWIW, our German word "doch" can mean either 'certainly' or 'certainly NOT!', depending on context ;-)

I had an interesting related experience in Germany one time. Keep in mind I was a 16-year-old exchange student and didn't have the linguistic knowledge I later acquired. This was a party for the exchange students and their families. I was looking for a place to sit; there was one at a table otherwise occupied by German girls. I said, in English, "Do you mind if I sit here?" (Stupid on at least two counts.)

"Yes," said the nearest girl, smiling. I looked crushed and started to walk away, and she immediately exclaimed "Doch!"

Fortunately I knew enough German to understand what she meant. She was rather confused, but all was well.

abi 160: Please, let's not talk about members of the community in the third person if we can avoid it.

That Xopher does that all the time. It's very annoying. :-)

TexAnne 163: A rye-based doughnut-esque thingy would be a bagel.

Not if you bake it without boiling it first.

#167 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 07:16 PM:

Mikael 165: Just a quick note to let you know that Serge is a native speaker of French, in case you were unaware of that. Doesn't necessarily invalidate your point, but I thought you should know.

The difference among e, é, and è seem subtler to me than between b and p or d and t, but I do not speak French and can't claim any authority on that.

#168 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 09:51 PM:

re 159: I'M not an engineer!

#169 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 10:31 PM:

Leah @56 et seq.: "To be" is indeed startlingly difficult to translate into Japanese. The explanation Julie L gave sounded wrong to me at first. After reading through it a few times I realized it did a pretty good job of explaining what the hell is going on there, just from a point of view I'm not used to. It's a description of the construction from the outside in, rather than the inside out.

I'd be interested in hearing the inside-out description-- I've been fitfully thwacking at the Japanese language for some time (and have been resoundingly thwacked back) from a purely recreational outside-in perspective.

WRT Japanese (non-)adjectives/verbs, my brain keeps insisting that it's all very well for adjectives to express number and gender, but once they start dabbling in mood and tense, they're out of the "adjective" box and I'm summarily declaring them mutant verbs (esp. since negating normal verbs instantly turns them into this category).

Which is completely incidental to any syntax labels that may've already been established by Real Linguists and/or within the Japanese language itself, but hey.

AFAIK the more elaborately conjugated -i adjectives usually get translated into English as appositive clauses. It would take a lot fewer Japanese words to express something like "The fish that was probably red whenever the water wasn't too cold could be blue now", though I'm not sure how to properly assemble the conditional version of tsumetasuginakatta mizu ("water that wasn't too cold"). On the other hand, it would take a lot longer in Japanese to say "My cat is grey" (Atashi no neko wa nezumi-iro desu?).

Amusing factoid: The Chinese character for "water" is only used in Japanese for *cold* water, perhaps making tsumetai mizu somewhat of a tautology. However, the Japanese word for *hot* water (including hot springs and baths etc.) is written with a character that still means "soup" in China. Hilarity ensues. ("Look, our hotel has a snack bar where we can get some noodles... hey, why is everyone naked in here?")

#170 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 10:37 PM:

Dear Fluorosphere, I do not have time to learn Japanese right now. Please stop making me die of wanting to. Love, TexAnne.

#171 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 11:10 PM:

The comments on Japanese lead me to ask: is there an index of declassified documents online so I can check if a confidential manual of military Japanese from 1944 is now legitimate for me to own? The Secret Grammar of the Japanese Written Language (by J. B. Hurt) has "Secret" crossed out, so I expect it's okay to own, The Restricted version of Lehmann and Faust from 1944 is also not marked as released, though....

(They look like fanzines, and not very good ones -- mimeo or ditto, no artwork except characters.)

#172 ::: Pat H ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 11:38 PM:

#4, xeger
I've never heard "spring roll" as a plural - in my experience it's 1 spring roll, 2 or more spring rolls, and no spring rolls. I'm quite curious - where (geographically) are you hearing this? I'm a lifelong Australian, if it helps.

#38, Dave
Early on in learning German, I thought to avoid the neuter-gendered "Mädchen" by using instead the Bavarian dialect term "Mädel" (which lacks the neuter-demanding "-chen"). This didn't work very well, since for some reason "Mädel" is also neuter. I continued to learn German and now count myself fluent, but I never did figure out why "Mädel" is neuter. I take heart from Xopher's assurance (#44) that even "Mädchen" is becoming feminine, though.

With regard to gendered nouns in general I offer for consideration the Arapesh languages of Papua New Guinea, with up to 13 genders each. The connection between sex and linguistic gender suddenly looks surprisingly tenuous.

#53, Abi
German has much the same distinction: "Mund" vs. "Maul" for mouth and "Nase" vs. "Schnauze" for nose, and "Maul" and "Schnauze" are indeed routinely used in insults. German goes a step further, though, in distinguishing verbs also: "trinken" vs. "saufen" for drinking, and "essen" vs. "fressen" for eating. Not only are those distinctions used for insults, but "saufen" is also valid (ie. not even considered slang) for drinking alcohol excessively. Oh, and food is also distinguished: "Essen" for people-food, but "Futter" for animal-food (cf. English "fodder").

#71, Sarah
The German "duzen" is directly equivalent to the French "tutoyer", but German also has "siezen" for the converse.

#166, Xopher
In Germany on exchange at age 16, I ran into some confusion between "studieren" (study at tertiary level) and "lernen" (study at primary or secondary level). The people to whom I was speaking thought I was far older than 16, so they were half-willing to believe I meant I had studied Latin at tertiary level.
A girl on exchange with me ran into a bigger problem with "Schülerin" (female primary/secondary student) vs "Studentin" (female tertiary student). Wandering lost at her high school on the first morning, she was asked what she was doing there and replied "Ich bin Studentin". Took a little while to sort that one out ;-)

#173 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 11:45 PM:

Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson @ 165... Oh, I had meant to imply that this workS only if one is reading the WORD. As for the dropping of accents being a mishandling of the language, I agree. It's something I got used to when I left the francophone world because North-American softwares (and typewriters in the prehistoric days) sure were not set up for those funny marks on top of vowels. (Dare I say I commit vowelence against the language?)

#174 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 11:55 PM:

Pat H, 172: Duzen/siezen, tutoyer/vouvoyer.

#175 ::: Pat H ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2010, 11:59 PM:

Er... sorry to double-post, but I did mean to address the post itself also. Silly me.

One of the most interesting things (to me) about learning different languages is precisely the differences you're talking about here, Abi. For instance, Vietnamese has just the one word (xanh) for blue and green - traditionally, to them, that's a single colour. On the other hand, Vietnamese distinguishes between hair on top/back/sides of one's head (tóc), facial hair (râu), and body hair (can't remember).

Language really does shape thought - it's possible to think beyond what one's languages directly allow, but not easy. This is a major part of why I learn as many languages as I can - each new language helps me to think, as well as to understand people.

#176 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 12:02 AM:

Hyperlocal news...

Man is thanked by visiting author Connie Willis for coming to yesterday's talk at the local SF club AND to her book signing today. Man is happy.

#177 ::: Pat H ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 12:02 AM:

#174, TexAnne
Thank you. I knew tutoyer, but had never come across vouvoyer. I'm happier knowing that the verb exists. :-)

#178 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 12:05 AM:

Linkmeister@139: I actually rather liked "rosy-fingered Dawn" -- in fact, that was the Greek line that I quoted earlier. In the Iliad, Dawn gets some other things to do: sometimes she has a golden throne, other times she arises from the bed of Tithonos.

Pat H.@172: And likewise French has "vousvoyer".

(I remember an anecdote I heard about Miterrand, that one of his associates, after long acquaintace, asked him, "Est-ce que nous nous tutoyons?" and he replied "Si vous voulez.")

#179 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 12:16 AM:

Saw a great film today, Four Kings.

It's a British comedy, about terrorism. A very dark comedy. Tragi-satire?

It's about five British guys of Pakistani descent . . . maybe immigrants, it is not clear. They are all boobs of various sorts, ranging from a borderline mentally retarded sad-sack to a contentious sore head of a sort I could easily picture planning abortion clinic bombings or hanging out with a militia.

The authorities are depicted as boobs as well, and there's an interesting, subtle commentary on the surveillance state. (Over the closing credits, we see some of the events of the movie from the point of view of CCTV cameras.)

It is hilarious, and utterly heartbreaking.

#180 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 12:21 AM:

Serge @173
(Dare I say I commit vowelence against the language?)

Don't you do that consonantly?

#181 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 12:26 AM:

Rainflame @ 180... What is the sentence for crimes against grammar?

#182 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 12:35 AM:

A complex one, compounded daily, Serge @181.

#183 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 12:52 AM:

Serge, 181: Il faut que tu fasses amende honorable d'avoir péché en pêchant pour des pêches et des amandes.

(hrm, I'm not sure I got my prepositions right. Ma faute, ma faute, ma très grande faute.)

#184 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 12:53 AM:

Serge @181
Fortunately it's not a capital crime.

#185 ::: ErrolC ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 01:24 AM:

Stefan Jones @179
It is hilarious, and utterly heartbreaking.

I agree completely. Recommended, if the description sounds promising to you.

#186 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 01:43 AM:

abi, #51, thanks for putting it up! For those of you who, like Jacque, wondered how awful my drawing is, I have them scanned here.

#187 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 02:01 AM:

Marilee, I did look at all of your beadwork pieces. They're gorgeous.

#188 ::: David F ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 06:00 AM:

De-lurking post. I've been hiding in the shadows for several months now. Everyone here seems to be good-people and this thread has touched on something I actually know a little about.

#170 TexAnne: Good idea, Japanese should not be studied unless you have lots of time and some masochistic tendencies.(The better you want to be, the greater those masochistic tendencies should probably be.)

I love the language. But I've been living in Japan since 1997 and I still get headaches. Granted, I haven't studied like I should in the last few years.

But anyway, one word that I find fascinating in Japanese, is otsukaresama. It is supposed to translate to something like, thank you for working so hard but is used mostly just as a greeting for coworkers. At least where I'm working, it is used nearly every time you meet someone in the hall.


#189 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 06:27 AM:

@Julie L, #169

I'm kind of distracted, caffeinated, and hare-brained this weekend (it's nearly 6am, I haven't slept, and I'm still watching Desert Bus), but I wanted to pop in here and give some quick thoughts on Japanese grammar. I'm sure the other Japanese students in here will correct me if I go wildly off-base.

The simple "to be" words in Japanese, aru and iru (or arimasu and imasu in their more polite forms), are easily distinguishable - aru is for inanimate things, iru for animate. They have some additional nuance*, but the distinction between them is pretty straightforward. They are both used primarily** when a thing's existence or location is the main point of a sentence. "Kono hoteru ni, denwa ga arimasu" "There is a phone located in this hotel." "Akai denwa wa arimasu" "There are red phones." (lit: red phones exist).***

Aru and iru are for when you're talking about where or whether a thing is. When you're talking about what it is, it's time to use desu. "Kono denwa wa akai desu" "This phone is red." Desu is the construction you use for "[noun] is [noun]" or "[noun] is [adjective]."

The thing that sounded wrong to me in your original post was lumping "desu" in with the other "to be" verbs. Desu is a weird thing, and grouping it in with imasu and arimasu never occurred to me. Technically, desu is a copula, but I only know that because I looked it up. Otherwise, I would have just called it a weird, verbesque****, phrase-ending word. Very technical linguistic jargon, that.

When I was first learning Japanese my understanding of the word's use was basically "start saying a thing, if you get to the end of the phrase and haven't used a verb recently, tack on a desu." I can't tell you how many times our teacher just stared intimidatingly at a student until he remembered to tack on a desu. My fellow students sometimes called formal Japanese "masu/desu form," because all polite sentences ended in a verb with the -masu ending or desu.*****

When learning Japanese, there are some times when you just have to "think like a Japanese," as our TA used to put it. My three years of karate were an immense help in this area; I had learned to do what the sensei instructed and not question it until later. There are many times in Japanese when you have to learn a set phrase and not try to understand WHY, trusting that you will reach more perfect understanding later. This is how desu worked for me: I rarely misuse it, but I'm hard pressed to explain exactly how it works without pulling out some books. I was taught the actual mechanics and grammatical evolution once (and I could look it up) but before I learned why, I used it enough that it just made sense.

*I was first taught that arimasu meant "to be located at," learning additional meanings later.

**When not modifying other verbs, or forming complex compounds, or what-have-you.

***These may be imperfect, but give a general sense of the structure. I don't object to being corrected, though!

****It's actually a contraction of the particle de and the verb gozaimasu.

*****There are exceptions to this, but it's a general pattern.******

******I need to learn the key combinations for some other footnote markers, eventually. I'm dying here.

#190 ::: Ole Phat Stu ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 07:19 AM:

Apocryphal anecdote:-

When the Berlin Wall Falling celebrations were made, Reagen gave a speech which his translator rendered immediately into German. Then Gorbi made a speech in Russian and Reagan's translator rendered it also simultaneously into English. Then Kohl gave a speech in German and after 2 minutes Reagan's translator still hadn't started rendering it into English. So Reagan whispered urgently, "Aren't you going to translate for me?"
The Translator, still concentrating hard, replied "Sure, but I'm still waiting for the verb" ;-)

#191 ::: Peter Maydell ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 07:32 AM:

@Julie L, #169: my personal take on Japanese grammar is that it doesn't really matter what labels you apply to things, as long as you're looking at what the different word categories actually do and not trying to think of them as necessarily working like the English categories the same labels get applied to. (If you're using vaguely the same terminology as other people it's easier to talk about grammar, though :-))

But then I learnt my initial Japanese grammar in a class taught only in Japanese and with more emphasis on sentence patterns than formal grammar. So I had an English and a Japanese label for most of these categories from the start.

I'd say that the grammar is one of the easier parts of Japanese. It's not Indo-European, but once you've got your head round that it's fairly straightforward. Modifying clauses always precede the thing modified; all but perhaps a dozen verbs are regular; all but one i-adjective is regular; nouns don't inflect; it doesn't do the thing English does where questions have to have different word order; and so on. (Yes, there is the odd bear-trap like wa-vs-ga...)

#192 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 08:10 AM:

@Pat H, #175

Japanese colors are interesting, too. Akai can be anything from dark red to medium orange. Aoi can be blue or green. Japanese also has nezumi-iro for gray and murasaki for purple, but I've rarely heard anyone use them in casual conversation - they instead tend to favor English borrow words, using "gurei" or "paarupuru" instead.

@Peter Maydell, #191

If the grammar in Japanese was easy for you, what would you say is the most difficult aspect of Japanese?

For me the grammar was definitely the toughest bit (especially due to particles in general, but also due to the long, additive verb and adjective endings, etc.) I'd be very interested to hear from someone with a different experience. I found pronunciation, vocabulary, writing, and even idiom fairly easy, in comparison.

#193 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 08:35 AM:

Serge #181: You're obliged to pay the syntax.

#194 ::: rams ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 09:12 AM:

Didn't Twain also point out that in German "fish" is feminine, "wife" is masculine and "fishwife" is neuter? [Alas. Checking before posting to such a list, I find -- bless Ctrl F -- that that the fish is masculine, his scales are feminine but the fishwife is neuter. But I also found:

"Gretchen.
Wilhelm, where is the turnip?
Wilhelm.
She has gone to the kitchen.
Gretchen.
Where is the accomplished and beautiful English maiden?
Wilhelm.
It has gone to the opera."

#195 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 09:16 AM:

Xopher @ 166: Not if you bake it without boiling it first.

Thank you for this! I've been quietly resenting the ubiquity of Dunkin Donuts and scarcity of true bagel shops over exactly this issue - they do, in fact, make not bagels but Bread Donuts.

#196 ::: serenadingwords ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 09:35 AM:

@David Goldfarb, #130:

Could you toss a link to these reading groups to a poor classicist who hasn't gotten to read Latin or Greek with any regularity since getting her degree this spring? They sound fantastic.

#197 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 10:34 AM:

Someone is wrong on the internet!

Okay, someone is wrong in my offline life. But it's the kind of wrong where obviously we inhabit different parts of reality. The argument is about whether/why women are paid less than men for the same jobs in the US today. He's challenged my explanation as anecdata, which some of it is and I labeled it as such, and illogical, because why wouldn't companies hire the cheapest workers?

So suddenly I'm trying to explain institutionalized sexism and that "women make X choice, resulting in lower pay" is a symptom of same, and unfortunately this is just part of my reality, and I don't have citations on most of it.

I remember reading some time ago that in the past few years, women have become primary wage earners in many families because employers are keeping the lowest-paid workers. Does anyone else remember this? I can only find speculation about it, so I may be misremembering.

I hate arguments. I really hate arguments where it's two disparate sections of reality colliding. I feel like I'm trying to convince someone that trees exist, and it has kept me discontented for about twelve hours now. So second question: how does one disengage emotionally from this kind of argument?

#198 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 10:44 AM:

Diatryma:

I think the choice side of that (women tend to chose different majors in college and different jobs out of school) is hard to untangle. Is Alice choosing to take a lower-paying job than her husband Bob because they rationally expect Bob to make more money, and so they solve the two-body problem in his favor in terms of career? Is she choosing a different job because she intends to have children and figures that it will be all but impossible to make partner or keep traveling the world as a consultant while she's pregnant or nursing? Does she hope to eventually stay home with her kids? And each choice is made within a society with sexism built in, but also is made by people who think they're making the best decisions available to them. It's kind of implausible that I can do better for them from my armchair. (And really, what you want for yourself and your family is strongly linked to your society and upbringing.)

ISTR that the income differences between women and men flatten substantially, but don't go away, as you adjust for full/part time and field and years of experience.

#199 ::: pm215 (Peter Maydell) ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 11:22 AM:

[flipping back to my usual online handle having stuck my full name in the box accidentally last post...]

@Leah Miller, #192: The things I find hard are firstly the writing system and secondly vocabulary. I think most learners find writing a pain, just because you're dealing with nearly 2000 characters many of which have multiple readings. Kanji aren't an impossible hurdle, but they do form a significant amount of extra work to slog through which doesn't exist for languages with a more alphabetic/syllabic writing system.

The problem with vocabulary is really that because Japanese and English don't share a common ancestor, the opportunity to make good guesses about words you haven't seen before is much rarer. So you need to learn more words to be able to tackle a novel or a newspaper.

The feature in common seems to be that both these are large mountains of individually easy things. Grammar on the other hand feels to me like a much "smaller" thing, although mastering a particular grammar point can obviously be much harder than memorising a word. So I find it's less daunting.

Words for grey: hai-iro (lit. ash-colour) is the other common one, I think.

#200 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 11:26 AM:

serenadingwords @ #196: I expect that David Goldfarb is referring to The Latin & Greek Study Groups. I know he subscribes to LatinStudy because I'm also on that mailing list (although I'm too busy with in-person courses to participate in any of the groups at the moment... which reminds me that I really must stop reading this and finish my Latin translation for class tomorrow).

#201 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 01:37 PM:

Minnesota used "sesquicentennial" on its license plates a couple of years ago.

(Not my photo)

#202 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 01:47 PM:

Wirelizard@121: That's me, too. I mostly skipped the grammar unit in 9th grade English because the teacher thought I didn't need it (and in terms of writing well, I didn't), and asked me to write a computer program to correct the multiple-choice part of the exam instead. I did go through the programmed instruction book (in a couple of hours).

One of my college roommates and I had a pretty good collaboration going. I could tell him what the right way to say something was, and he could then figure out why that was the right way. But he wasn't very good at figuring out analytically which was right, and I wasn't very good at formal explanations of the grammar.

I grew up in a household in which conversation routinely took place in complete sentences and paragraphs. The staff at the Purdue research nursery school told my mother that I had the vocabulary and sentence structures of a college freshman -- when I was 3 years old.)

#203 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 02:04 PM:

Serge@173: Yep, that's certainly a big part of it. Our technology was developed in a place where "accent marks" were found in the dictionary to indicate stressed syllables. Which means Americans learned in school that they weren't really part of the word, they were meta-data used in certain scholarly situations.

Having this as thoroughly internalized knowledge doesn't work too well when you then meet French! It's not so bad in German, since the umlaut wasn't much used in the dictionaries I saw in school, it was pretty much something new I met in German.

Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson@165: To me as an American, those examples don't look comparable at all. Changing the letters is making a substantive change to the word. Just diddling with meta-data marks (accents) just doesn't feel the same. (I absolutely understand that, in French, messing with the accents IS as big a deal as changing the letters. It's just something I learned intellectually long after I'd acquired English-language fluency; it's not so basic a part of my world-view. I did get three years of French in grades 3-6, so I got some of this earlier than a lot of people.)

#204 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 02:08 PM:

Pat H@175: I think English makes the same distinction about "hair". "Getting your hair cut" absolutely means the top/back/sides, and absolutely does NOT mean facial or body hair. While the stuff itself is hair, it's qualified hair -- beard hair, pubic hair, etc.

#205 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 02:14 PM:

ddb @ 203: The analogy that makes sense to me is that diacritical marks function the way digraphs do in English, so that leaving them off is equivalent to leaving out the "h" in "th", or the "y" in "oy."

I have no idea if this makes linguistic sense, but I think it conveys the importance of diacritical marks fairly well.

#206 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 03:05 PM:

but I never did figure out why "Mädel" is neuter.

Because -el or -le is a variant form of the diminutive. Where you use -chen in hochdeutsch and in north German, you use -el in Bavaria and Austria and -le in Hessen and Baden Württemberg.

Mind you, I think the stammwort, Mäd (maid), which is now archaic and not really encountered in anything written since the 1890s decadents, is neuter as well...actually, it turns out I thought wrong. It was feminine.

#207 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 03:08 PM:

Albatross, thanks for the backup on "it's complicated". Because it is.

As far as dictionaries and stresses go, I learned that the ' comes after the stressed syllable, and then suddenly I am reading IPA* and no, it comes before, and to this day I resent that switch.

I have said before that every group of friends needs someone who knows geology and someone who knows words**. This type of conversation is why. Best part of my current friends groups is that I am not both these people all the time.

*by this I mean that I know a few of the symbols and can interpret some bits. It was really useful in voice lessons when I had to mark, as small as possible, some nuance of pronunciation.

**I have amended this to include 'someone who has an iPhone' because the internet is wonderful.

#208 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 03:15 PM:

If you're reading this and trying to learn German, btw, there are good heuristics for a lot of genders, especially for derived forms.

-Schaft, -heit, -keit, and usually -ung all go feminine (die Leidenschaft = passion). Diminutives all go neuter. -ier is normally masculine (der Bankier). If you're using an infinitive as a noun (das Verhalten = behaviour, from sich verhalten, to behave), it goes neuter. Similarly, if you're nouning an adjective by sticking an e on the end, it goes neuter. frex, if you translate something into German (or anything else), you translate it "ins Deutsche" - you're using the adjective German as a noun, so it's automatically neuter.

Save memory, learn rules not instances.

#209 ::: serenadingwords ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 04:16 PM:

@200 Carol Witt: Oh wow, that's wonderful. Thank you! It'll be great to get my Attic Greek back on.

#210 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 04:50 PM:

Pat H @ 172, Sarah @ 71:

There is, in Spanish, "tutear," which means "to address someone as tú [the informal "you," as compared to "Ud."]." I'm not sure what you'd say when someone is using "tú" instead of "Ud." and needs correction.

Someone I knew as an undergrad, who was from Puerto Rico, thought it ridiculous that English had different words for fingers and toes. Apparently in Spanish they're "dedos de la mano" and "dedos del pie" ("digits of the hand" / "digits of the foot.")

I don't remember the start of the joke in Spanish, but: A man at a hotel sees a woman sitting beside a pool.
"¿Ud. no nada nada?"
"No traje traje."

(English: "You don't swim at all?" / "I didn't bring a [swim]suit.")

#211 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 04:59 PM:

Sorry to double post--

The integration of social standing/respect/knowledge of a person into the form of address in Spanish is an interesting thing, too (tú means "you [of lower social standing, or whom I know well]" and Ud. means "you [of higher social standing, or whom I know only distantly or professionally]."

And tú and Ud. are both singular "you," as compared to the plural "Uds." used for both--or, in Spain, "vosotros" for plural tú and "Uds." for plural Ud.

As for the rarely used vosotros, the closest thing I can think of in English is the maligned "y'all," which I recall one linguistics professor describing as "wonderfully embracing." In any case it's certainly both plural and informal.

#212 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 07:20 PM:

bunch of randomly more or less relevant remarks:

mañana: English also used to have a word that worked for both "morning" and "tomorrow:" it was "morrow." But we don't say "morrow" for morning very often any more, and when we do, we get blank looks from most people.

half again doesn't even sound exceptionally exceptional to me. A little bookish, maybe.

Czech has two plurals but unlike all the other languages I know anything about, it's not single, dual, plural: it's single, less than four or five, and more than four or five. Czech has a lot of features which are truly puzzling, and since my son has to function in it every day I hear a lot of rants about it. The most amusing thing to me, however, was reading that verbs have a transgressive form. I was so sad that it does not mean what it sounds like.

No, the verbs do not have a form that is deliberately, artistically, and pretentiously offensive, usually involving perfomrmances at small venues with clever names or coffee table books with black and white photos touched up with garish spots of color. Unfortunately, transgressive verbs only indicate that the action is taking place at the same time as something else.

#213 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 07:43 PM:

ddb @ 203... One nice thing about accents is that it tells you right away what the sound is supposed to be. Meanwhile, in English, one has to remember how to pronounce that pesky asemblage of letters that 'ough' for each specific word. That being said, all languages have their idiosyncrasies. Keeps life interesting. By the way, I've long wondered how the Universal Translator works. I mean, do you hear the speaker in its/her/his native language, immediately translated by the ear bud or whatever you use? It must be interesting if you have the UT on even though you know the language. For me, it'd be like watching a French movie with English subtitles, and I often find myself thinking "That's not what he said."

#214 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 07:49 PM:

For those who are being amused at the sexual implications of languages who have large numbers of noun genders: it may help to remember that the root of "gender" is a word meaning "kind, type, sort". The sexes are genders in the sense that they constitute different "types" of people. But the root meaning had no implication of a binary or trinary biological sexual distinction.

#215 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 07:51 PM:

Language study, well and all, very nice, very useful, very wise.

BUT! What about that moon, hey?

And further, the local acu-weather weather changed from, "Conditions Very Good For Fishing," to "Conditions Very Good For Hunting."

Again, though -- What about that MOON!

[imagine humongous, white, globular, grinning moon icon hanging here]

Love, C

#216 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 08:30 PM:

Serge@213: English spelling certainly has nothing to crow about! Between the wide range of places we stole words from, and various waves of spelling reform, things are extremely complicated. I don't believe "spelling" is a subject in school for most other languages, is it?

I believe French spelling doesn't lead all that reliably or directly to correct pronunciation (my direct study was 3 years in grade school, though). One of the nice things about German and Russian, the other two languages I've studied, is that they're pretty precisely phonetic. (I actually got pretty good in German, after 4 years in highschool; but that last year was almost 40 years ago, and my interaction with German since has been extremely minimal. If there had been the public Internet, with fairly active German mailing lists and Usenet groups back then, maybe I would have kept it up better.)

#217 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 08:32 PM:

Mark 195: You're quite welcome. So many people don't really know real bagels...or knishes, for that matter, though to my mind that's a less serious problem. (Real knishes are never bright orange, no matter what you may have heard.) I've spoken before of the true nature of fresh mozzarella, but that's a matter of degree, whereas the boil-and-bake process is truly essential to the identity of the category 'bagel'.

Bagels are Viennese (yes, Austrian) in origin and were brought here as part of the Jewish diaspora. The original ones were more horseshoe shaped, I'm told. The reason they were a special treat was that they were made with white flour, a rarity at the time. (I think this makes whole-wheat bagels just a bit ironic, though not IMO all the way over into absurd or not-bagels.)

#218 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 08:57 PM:

Diatryma@197: I remember reading (or hearing; a lot of my current events info comes from National Public Radio) that lower-paid workers are often preferentially retained, and that this is leaving more women the primary wage-earner in their families. I don't have an actual source to give you, though.

#219 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 09:02 PM:

HLN: Incomprehensible sed error sends woman into foam-flecked rage. "We thought sure she was gonna 'splode," local guinea pig speculates.

#220 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 09:13 PM:

Constance @215, that is indeed Some Moon, and I had the delight of seeing it out the plane window as we made our descent into OKC, having luckily chosen the scenic side of the plane. Makes me want to watch Moonstruck, but instead I need to get turkeys in the oven for an office potluck tomorrow.

BTW, Upstate Steampunk is shaping up to look like a nice little con with potential. They had about 250 attendees, about 70 of them walk-ins, and are booked for the same venue in Greenville SC for next year -- and it is just lovely there this time of year. I think I traveled the furthest to get there, but I knew the organizers and had my arm twisted for a paper early on. Just gettin' my plug in -- it was my first steampunk con, and there were some thought-provoking papers and discussions, among all the eye candy and temptations in the vendor room. (And yes, the papers DID talk about the socio-politico-economic issues that are getting ignored in some of the me-too, I got gears on my staff! sort of stuff we were discussing earlier.)

#221 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 09:22 PM:

ddb @ 216... I believe French spelling doesn't lead all that reliably or directly to correct pronunciation

I think it does, but then again I spent the first 30 years of my life speaking French. Not every minute of it, mind you. In other words, this is all stuff I take for granted because I grew up with it. I recommend that you ask TexAnne. She's so good that, when we were shopping around the dealer's room at Montreal's worldcon, she corrected me on how to pronounce the name of a French publisher.

#222 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 09:38 PM:

The moon is indeed magnificent tonight. I was able to see it on the way home from the RenFaire.

#223 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 09:40 PM:

My impression from a number of French classes from elementary through high school in the US is that French spelling leads to predictable, consistent pronunciation (with some notable exceptions related to borrowed words), but that you cannot consistently derive the spelling from the pronunciation.

On the other hand, I don't think I ever really spoke French at more than a basic level, so I'm mostly hoping that someone will be able to confirm or deny this impression.

#224 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 09:57 PM:

Hi, Serge. ::waves sheepishly:: The thing about French pronunciation vs. spelling is that there are few phonemes, but many ways to spell them. So IPA /e/ can be spelled ai, é(e)(s), ez, ait in some dialects, er, and no doubt a few I'll think of later.

#225 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 10:02 PM:

Fragano @ 193: And so the sentence is handed down by the Adjunct.

#226 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 10:09 PM:

I always wondered what the world would be like if we all still talked like Homer.

#227 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 10:20 PM:

TexAnne, #187, thanks, TexAnne!

Mark, #195, you should have seen me try to explain to the nutritionist that donut-shaped bread wasn't really a bagel.

ddb, #201, we're using sesquicentennial all over around here for the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.

#228 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 10:35 PM:

Great view of the moon from here too, on the after-dinner dog walk. Just enough clouds to make a suitable frame.

#229 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 10:41 PM:

Would love to see the moon tonight, but instead it's raining with a good chance of snow (in November! In Portland (OR)!). If it doesn't snow tonight, it almost certainly will tomorrow night, when the temps are predicted to get down to the low 20s. La Nina weather (cold and wet) starting early and with a vengeance this year.

#230 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 10:45 PM:

In re spelling and phonetics; I was extremely impressed while studying Spanish at how regular its phonetics are -- there's very nearly a 1:1 mapping between spelled vowels and actual pronounced sounds (one of the few exceptions being that sometimes 'u' is used as a marker that the 'g' preceding it is pronounced hard and not soft, as in 'guitarra').

In fact, some verbs are irregular-on-paper to keep the spelling matching the very-regular pronunciation. Makes me wonder if someone didn't regularize things in the mid-1800s or something, or if English (my frame of reference) is just outstandingly bad enough on that score that 'normal' languages look regimentedly, spotlessly regular in contrast.

#231 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 10:46 PM:

johnofjack @ 211 As for the rarely used vosotros, the closest thing I can think of in English is the maligned "y'all," which I recall one linguistics professor describing as "wonderfully embracing." In any case it's certainly both plural and informal.

On the first day of my first ancient Greek course, we were going over the basics like the alphabet, pronouns, and the concepts of number, gender, conjugation, and declension. One woman, a transplant from the University of Georgia, was baffled by the plural pronouns.

"What do you mean, 'you plural?' 'You' isn't plural!" She had no idea what planet the rest of us were from, and terribly frustrated at our bizarre insistence on such a thing.

Eventually the TA was able to come up with enough examples to turn on the light bulb for her. "Ohhh! You mean y'all! Why didn't you just say so?"

I am told that the adoption of "you" for individuals is being repeated, and once again the replacement is coming in as a new plural. As "y'all" is more and more a polite singular, "all y'all" is now appearing as a plural.

#232 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 11:00 PM:

Zelda, "y'all" is *perceived* as a singular by people who don't know how it's used. If I said to you, "Would y'all like to come over Friday night?" I am not inviting you alone, but your family as well. If I wanted you alone, I would say "Would you like to come over Friday night?" "All y'all" is merely an intensifier.

#233 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 11:01 PM:

Erik Nelson @226 -- we'd all say D'Oh! a lot.

#234 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 11:09 PM:

TexAnne @ 224... there are few phonemes, but many ways to spell them

I knew you'd be able to explain this better than I could. That being said... Some spelling reforms would have helped declutter things, but did they pretty much stop when the printing press and cheap paper came along?

#235 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 11:22 PM:

Serge, 234: There was a spelling reform recently...yes, in 1990. So the new spellings aren't second nature to me, because my grad professors were unconvinced of their necessity.

#236 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 11:44 PM:

Diatryma @ 197: Just a personal anecdote on gender & salaries -- several years ago, after a shake-up above me, I ended up with a woman boss instead of a man. At my next performance review, I got a big raise, way outside what the normal merit increase guidelines were. She told me that she compared what I was making to the men doing the same job, and had no trouble getting a big increase approved. So I had definitely been short-changed for some time.
My experience as a manager is that some companies make internal equity a priority, and so people doing similar work are likely to be paid pretty much the same, though with some error due to perception bias of their work. Other companies pay whatever it takes to get somebody they want, and don't care about maintaining equity. In that second sort, people who are tougher negotiators, and more prone to changing jobs, will be higher paid. Some people would say that tends to be men, YMMV.

#237 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 11:46 PM:

Heh. I read the bit about Homer and I say, in that rapid chatter you get from repetition: "But when the young dawn showed again with her rosy fingers the grey-eyed goddess Athene bound upon her feet the fair sandals that carried her across the water..."

Gee, I wonder why that stuck in my head.

And on a similar "geeky party tricks" note, one high school assignment was to memorize the first chunk of the prologue to the Canterbury Tales. We could choose to do it in the original or in modern English. I was the only person to choose Middle English, which surprised me (though it probably shouldn't have.) I can still rattle it off, probably with horrendous mispronunciation (as I had to go with my best guess for the most part.)

Anyway. Going further into English language geekery, I actually got to enact a trope once in regards to Shakespeare. We were at a (fairly good*) high school performance of Hamlet, and during the intermission, I overheard somebody saying it was "Old English." I pounced-- nicely-- and explained the differences between various flavors of English, with examples, ending with Evil Rob's assertion that Elizabethan English is basically modern English, except for the slang. It was a nice conversation, actually.

*This is a very good drama group, one that I took part in back in the day, and it was a point of pride that "good for high school" was an insult. The thing about Hamlet was that a) they had to cut rather a lot, b) there's a certain depth it's hard to get at that young**, and c) Gertrude was nervous and rushing her lines. Oh, and when Claudius had been on the stage for a bit, my mother leaned over and whispered, "He looks like a Muppet," which was unfortunately just enough true that it kind of made it hard to treat him seriously.

**They just did a documentary play, "Tower Stories", based on 9/11. The actors would have been all of five to nine when the event took place... and that actually made the play more watchable, in my opinion. It's the chasm we'd rather not see them cross, to get that desperate intensity...

#238 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 11:46 PM:

@serenadingwords: Carol@200 is quite correct. There are a number of beginner groups, especially on the LatinStudy list, but there are also more advanced groups like the Cicero and Homer ones I'm participating in. (The Homer one is almost done with Odyssey 6, and we can always use new blood; come and have input into what we do next.)

#239 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 11:48 PM:

Unrelated to the above discussion... how I know, really, really know, that I'm a graduate student: I've just spent pretty much my entire Sunday at the lab, in the testing dungeon[1], getting several variations of an experiment to work and then running myself in them. You would think, that after what, nine years of being a member of various labs, I would know better than to work flat-out for that long in a little dark room. Evidently, I don't know better. I was there, writing code or running in experiments from noon to 8:15pm. I call that a productive day.

Why was I doing this, rather than, say, curling up with a book and the very friendly cat in the awesome bed [2] I found at Urban Ore a week and a half ago? Because the deadline for abstract submission for Vision Sciences Society is on the 1st, and I'd kind of like to have something to submit my first year in graduate school.

At least this past week saw the cessation of a different stressor: I have submitted my NSF-GRFP application. I'm asking the National Science Foundation for three years of stipend and tuition funding - it'd be great to get it, as it would free up lots of time in years 2-4. I would continue teaching, which is good (I wouldn't be required to in order to get paid, but my adviser teaches Sensation and Perception, which is very much my end of things in a whole host of ways).

I am applying for other fellowships, but the proximate worry is the VSS deadline... that, and the need to grade eighty student essays for the class I'm TAing for this semester.

More of a tiring Sunday than a relaxing one.

[1] The lab's psychophysical testing space is in a converted electrophysiology lab in the building - in the basement, no windows and very thick cement walls, floor and ceiling. Hence the dungeon moniker.

[2] I took a few hours off on Veterans' Day to go grab some food and wander around with a couple of other first year grad students - we wound up at Urban Ore, because two of the three of us had never been... and I found a four-poster Ikea bed, with all the bits and a set of slats for $20. Bought it on the spot, got a zipcar later that day and picked it up. I even managed to sell my old Ikea bed for more than the cost of the new-to-me one and the car rental. The bed is awesome - even if everything is rather higher than it used to be. I like it, and the cat can still get up there, so everyone's happy.

#240 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 11:54 PM:

TexAnne @ 235... I had been in the USA for a year by then, which would explain why I never even heard about this. On the other hand, I have kept in touch with some friends up in Quebec and they never gave any indication that this was going on. I have this feeling the whole thing never caught on. One thing is sure, the new spellings aren't second nature to me either.

#241 ::: Pat H ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 04:01 AM:

#206, Alex
Thank you! I'd been wondering that for a long time. That actually makes perfect sense, particularly if Mäd is feminine. It makes sense that suffixes of diminution (-chen, -el, -le) should all historically demand neuter gender, since children are the archetypal small/cute subjects and are traditionally viewed as sexless (hence the neuter "das Kind" for child).

#212, Lucy
Vietnamese has two ways of saying "how many": "may" for small numbers (usually less than about a dozen), and "bao nhieu" otherwise. (there are accents, and they do matter, but I'm too lazy to dig them up). Interestingly, in asking the day-of-the-month the form used is "may" rather than "bao nhieu".

#216 (ddb), #221 (Serge), etc.
My native language is English, but every other language I've ever learned anything of has seemed to me to have far more predictable and sensible pronunciation. In no particular order, the ones I can think of offhand: German, French, Latin, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, (Mandarin) Chinese, Vietnamese, Croatian, Russian, Yiddish, ... all of them make pretty good sense to me as far as spelling and pronunciation go (though Vietnamese tone-marks are a bit of a pain, and I must note that when I talk about Chinese I'm talking about Pinyin (the Roman-alphabet version used for teaching). Oh, and just to be clear: I love English, and I think it's outright the single most beautiful and expressive language ever. It's just that that comes from being the ultimate mongrel tongue.

#237, B. Durbin
Middle English pronunciation is basically phonetic, once you get your head around how it works. It actually sounds quite Scottish to modern English speakers, since Scottish generally avoided the major sound shift (Great Vowel Shift) that destroyed the phonetic correspondence between spoken and written English. Er... do double-check this before using it in conversation, though, since I'm not entirely sure of myself here.

#242 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 04:13 AM:

when Claudius had been on the stage for a bit, my mother leaned over and whispered, "He looks like a Muppet,"

Did the Muppets ever do Hamlet? If not, why not?

(Bunsen Honeydew as Polonius!)

#243 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 05:00 AM:

Pat H @241 writes "(Mandarin) Chinese...make pretty good sense to me as far as spelling and pronunciation go...and I must note that when I talk about Chinese I'm talking about Pinyin (the Roman-alphabet version used for teaching)."

Well, it's really not that surprising that Pinyin orthography is closely aligned with pronunciation, is it? After all, Pinyin was specifically designed in the 1950s (not that long ago) to be an accurate romanization of Mandarin, and is used in China to help children learn Mandarin pronunciation.

Similarly, I understand that the Korean Hangul writing system is closely aligned phonetically with the spoken language. The language drifted some since Hangul was first developed, some 500 years ago, but was the writing system was revised several times during the early-mid 20th century to better represent the current sounds of the spoken language. [And, as a means of reclaiming the language after Korea regained independence from Japan after WWII].

It's much easier to align spelling with pronunciation when you're willing to go mucking around with the writing system as the spoken language changes.

#244 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 05:29 AM:

Abi, early in the thread:

The problematic het schip becomes the easy to remember de schippen.

De schepen, one of those nouns that has an irregular plural form, just another little landmine laid into Dutch to trap the unwary. No rules for them, you just know what they are.

The same is actually true for knowing when to use "de" and when "het"; you just know, with no real rules I've found.

Speaking of "the inarticulate space between the [...] words I know", that's what usually trips me up when attempting to write an English language blog post about Dutch news, when all the sources are in Dutch as well.

Frex, why doesn't English have an expression as simple as "er vraagtekens bij zetten", putting question marks to some explenation offered to you? Or even as simple a concept as "bestuur", a nebolous group of people who administrate an organisation and where it doesn't matter who they are exactly? Or something generic like "gemeente", not quite translateable with city council or municipality or "wijk", which is not quite a neighbourhood and might be the same as a borough, though I've mostly seen that used for New York rather than as a generic term.

And why oh why is it so difficult to get an English translation of hottentottententoonstellingstentjetoegangspashoudercontroleur?

#245 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 05:36 AM:

South African "I'm fixing to make'n'plan to get round to dealing with that just now" = "The universe will go cold before I do that".

David F@188 - if no-one else has yet said welcome, welcome.

#246 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 06:17 AM:

ajay @ 242... Did the Muppets ever do Hamlet?

THey did have Christopher Reeve do the "To be or not to be" scene and, when he flubbed that line, the skull talked back, if I remember correctly.

#247 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 07:12 AM:

And why oh why is it so difficult to get an English translation of hottentottententoonstellingstentjetoegangspashoudercontroleur?

Fritz Spiegel (I think) used to refer to a one-word German newspaper headline which read Hottentottenpotentatentantenattentat, meaning An Attempt On The Life Of A Hottentot Potentate.

#248 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 08:10 AM:

Martin Wisse #244: I'd translate "bestuur" as "administration" or "administrative". At one point in its (admittedly odd) history, my favourite South American country was governed by a "Raad van Bestuur". Dew gives that as "Administrative Council" and I've no reason to disagree with his translation (my Dutch being of the exiguous variety).

#249 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 08:32 AM:

ajay @ 242, and they had Sting do the "Words, words, words" speech, or at least try to with the help of Elmo, if I remember correctly.

#250 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 08:33 AM:

I love languages and their quirks. I'm a native Icelandic speaker but pretty fluent in English by now. I know that Icelandic grammar is a pain to learn as a second language and it's very very rare to run into foreigners who are fluent in it (and that's ignoring pronunciation completely).

It's the mix of it being spoken by a very small group of people and almost all of those people being fluent in English and quick at switching to English when talking to people not very fluent.

Anyway lots of cases, moods and declensions to deal with and adjectives that bend along with the nouns and then irregular verbs and vowel changes.

As an example my grandfathers first name goes:

nom - Hörður
acc - Hörð
dat - Herði
gen - Harðar

Yeah we do full noun declensions on proper nouns, can lead to all sorts of fun things.

However my one major pet peeve about English is its lack of a reflexive possessive pronoun.

I know you can paper over it by using "his own" or "her own" to make the distinction clear. I.e. "Louse chatted with her mother while brushing her own hair" vs. "Louse chatted with her mother while brushing her hair" but it still really bugs me.

#251 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 08:38 AM:

#248: administration is a good attempt, though still not quite as generic as "bestuur"; I've used it myself.


my favourite South American country was governed by a "Raad van Bestuur".

Suriname or Brazil?

#252 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 08:49 AM:

Czech has two plurals but unlike all the other languages I know anything about, it's not single, dual, plural: it's single, less than four or five, and more than four or five.

The less-than-five version is called "paucal". Czech is not the only language that has it, though the only other I'm coming up with off the top of my head is Láadan, which is not a natural language.

#253 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 09:51 AM:

This is probably one of the most amazingly beautiful videos I've seen.

http://vimeo.com/16369165

Timescapes

#254 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 10:07 AM:

Martin Wisse #251: That would be Surinam.

#255 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 10:29 AM:

Erik Nelson: I always wondered what the world would be like if we all still talked like Homer.

All the travel shows on cable would have episodes three weeks long without commercials on getting from the airport/train station/port to the hotel.

#256 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 11:41 AM:

Dave Weingart @ #38:
Swedish has four grammatical genders, neutrum, reale, male and female. Although the last three are usually bundled as "utrum", as they all take the same indefinite and definite article(s) ("en"/"den").

Martin Wisse @ #244:
Or even as simple a concept as "bestuur", a nebolous group of people who administrate an organisation and where it doesn't matter who they are exactly?

What? Like "a board"? That's certainly what I tend to think of as the English translation of the Swedish "styrelse" (as an aside, something I am thankfully no longer in the habit of volunteering for; I resisted volunteering as late as earlier today, GO ME!).

#257 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 11:48 AM:

For years, I've been addicted to the more challenging forms of crossword puzzle, both the big Sunday ones put together by clever people and the British-style cryptics -- though cryptics can be too very British for me to get all the hidden references. Both kinds of puzzle make use of the huge vocabulary of English, but much of their cleverness relies on the multiple meanings of a lot of words (for example, pitch = toss, tar, tone) in this language, without any distinguishing marks like the accents in French.

Non-anglophones: does that kind of thing drive you crazy, along with the whole business of pronoucing "ough"? Just wondering.

PS: Sometimes I think the *only* use of my graduate education (English lit. plus some of the simpler foreign languages) was to turn me into a better crossword solver.

#258 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 11:53 AM:

Czech has two plurals but unlike all the other languages I know anything about, it's not single, dual, plural: it's single, less than four or five, and more than four or five.

Russian has singular, 2/3 and 4+. 2/3 of something is genitive singular, 4+ is genitive plural. "One table, two of table, four of tables".

#259 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 11:56 AM:

I always wondered what the world would be like if we all still talked like Homer.

If we always used the same few hackneyed epithets and similes every time we mentioned something or someone? No one ever mentioned "North Korea" without referring to it as "the Hermit Kingdom", for example?

Homer is alive and well and writing for Newsweek.

#260 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 11:59 AM:

As far as French pronounciation, from my French studies (which have been even less formal than my German ones), it seems that the way to pronounce French is to just swallow the last syllable.

#261 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 12:26 PM:

Just Wonderful.
How about G) The law enforcement, for breaking the law, and expecting to get away with it?
or H) the government choosing to believe "well, the rights we guarantee only apply to the people *we* feel like giving it to."

#262 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 01:03 PM:

Any Cantonese speakers in the house? I've got a lady in my office here who has a document that needs to be notarized, but we need some kind of verification that the Chinese matches the English.

#263 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 02:25 PM:

Hotay; I think we found her a translator. My Google Fu failed me, but the Boulder Public Library research daemons came through.

#264 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 02:27 PM:

I am hoping one of you publishing-industry types can help an aspiring young (well not so young any longer TBH) translator. I've been reading a 2010 novel by Hernán Rivera Letelier of Chile and thinking more and more this is something I would be able to translate very well -- I've done several drafts of the first couple chapters and it is reading (based on the impressions of a couple of friends...) very nicely. I want to get in touch with the author and ask him for permission to translate his work; but I have no idea how one goes about that. His publishing house is Alfaguara, which has offices in several countries; could I write to him in care of their Chilean office and hope that the letter would get to him? The copy of the book that I own says it is printed by Alfaguara Mexico but I am skeptical about writing to him through that office, a continent away from him. Has anyone done this sort of thing and have advice?

#265 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 02:29 PM:

(Oh and if any of you read Spanish, do take a look at El arte de la resurrección; it is a magnificent book.)

#266 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 03:03 PM:

Serge@221, TexAnne@224: Okay, that's starting to make sense. I do seem to treat language as primarily verbal; I get to English spellings from the pronunciations (which involves exception tables quite a lot :-)). I suspect really good spellers have the written form as primary.

So a language where the pronunciation doesn't at all lead to the spelling would seem confusing and hard to spell to me. (My French was so long ago I don't really remember how it seemed; and I don't know how seriously it was presented to us, this was in graded 3-6).

#267 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 03:08 PM:

Leah Miller @189: I thought desu was a contraction of de arimasu -- just as da is a contraction of de aru, thus making then the polite and informal forms of the same thing. De gozaimasu is what you use when you want to be honorific than desu, thus indicating they are not equivalent.

---L.

#268 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 03:54 PM:

Mycroft W @ 261, I picked (A), and ranted to that effect at the radio when NPR started saying this verdict could be used to show that accused terrorists shouldn't be tried in civilian courts. That makes absolutely no sense unless you assume that accusation = proof, and that a verdict of "guilty on all counts" is the only possible correct one.

IANAL. But we have these standards of evidence and standards for conviction for a reason. Just because the crime of which someone is accused happens to be terrorism, why on earth would these standards not apply?

#269 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 03:54 PM:

Elliot Mason @ 145: Ah, ok. I'd always though of it as drawing attention to the difference between dawn - first light - which is whitish - and sunrise.

ajay @ 258

No, Russian is more like Czech than you think. One table, two three four of table, FIVE of tables. And then, twenty-one table, twenty two three four of table, twenty five of tables, and so on.

If it's a collection of round tables (or tables of any other sort), however, the word for 'round' will go into the plural of whatever case is required, whenever you have more than twenty of them.

ObTurkishstuff

Turkish has no grammatical gender at all, more or less completely phonetic spelling and also - roughly speaking - different past tenses for things you've witnessed yourself and things that you've heard about second-hand. (This is only roughly right, because the 'testimony' endings can also be used for things which are a) only apparently so or b) extremely surprising. And they can be duplicated to make clear that something is only allegedly the case.


It also has the wrong number of 'basic colour terms' - too many kinds of blue. (Too many according to a venerable theory which says that basic colour terms always appear in a language in a particular order. I'm puzzled by the venerability of the theory since what goes for Turkish also seems to go for Russian.)

And finally an OT rant that I've been saving up for a while (it should probably have found its way into a comment on the thread about dairy related proverbs, but I didn't get round to it).

Yoghurt should be pronounced with a silent g. It's a Turkish loan word, and the gh transliterates a ğ, which simply plays the role of lengthening the preceding vowel. (However, a Turkish proverb has it that every man has his own way of eating yoghurt - her yiğit yoğurtun yiyisi var - and the same no doubt goes for pronouncing it.)

#270 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 04:03 PM:

praisegod barebones@269: The result of not pronouncing the gh makes something that's strange to American ears (or at least to mine). Not actually difficult to pronounce -- but it gets impossible to spell, since if you put the g in in any form people will pronounce it, and if you leave the gh out the word "yourt" runs into English "rules" where the u modifies the o vowel and makes the word different again.

I'm not really clear, from your description, how it's pronounced in Turkish; the above may reasonably approximate the Turkish pronunciation, but it's not a very good American word.

Too late to get people to change now, in any case :-( .

#271 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 04:09 PM:

praisegod, 269: Amazing! So the French "yaourt" (yah-oor) is closer to the original?

#272 ::: pm215 ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 04:10 PM:

L.N. Hammer@267: the Daijisen entry for desu [that's a link to a Japanese dictionary] says there are a number of theories for the origin of desu, including 'de arimasu', 'de gozaimasu', 'deohasu' and 'desou' (the last two of which I'd never heard of before).

#273 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 04:11 PM:

ddb @ 270

I think that if you imagine a product called something like 'Yo-Urt', and think about how that might be pronounced you'll come close. (Only close, mind you, since the 'u' is more of an 'oo', but near enough.)

#274 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 04:21 PM:

271 TexAnne : yes, exactly. (and in fact, I'm fairly sure that my mother-in-law - who has no particular connection with Turkey, apart from a daughter grand-daughter and grandson who live there - pronounces the 't' in yaourt as well.)

#275 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 04:26 PM:

Victoria @118, wrt tutoring Japanese students in English: It was also of much interest to us that the elementary schools (at least the one she went to) sang the same pioneer songs my grandfather sang.

Somehow, I managed to sidetrack myself earlier out of mentioning the Japanese version of the "Do Re Mi" song from The Sound of Music; one set of lyrics can be found here. IIRC I've seen clips of an alternate version that replaced faito with Fanta.

WRT desu, I'm pretty sure I've seen/heard replacement by de aru or de arimasu in formal written contexts, or spoken narration that's meant to consciously evoke a literary style.

Other than the nuts'n'bolts issue of acquiring vocabulary, the hardest part of learning Japanese for me has been wrestling with particles. I have an increasingly positive attitude toward their writing system after a briefish trip to China-- at least with written Japanese, you can home in on the key words by looking for kanji (which may have phonetic furigana alongside) and finding the verb near the end of the sentence. With written Chinese, everything is made of hanzi and the verb could be anywhere in the middle.

#276 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 04:34 PM:

Random Open Thread book recommendation: If y'all don't have Connie Willis's Blackout and All Clear on your "I want!" lists you're missing a bet. I re-read the former last week in preparation for reading the latter. I have now read All Clear and have a single word review: Wow.

#277 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 04:53 PM:

TexAnne @ 235

Looking through that list of 'reforms' I'm struck by the thought that I'll never be able to spell 'oignon' as 'ognon' without it looking WRONG. And my wife, who left France in 1987, refuses to acknowledge any of the new spellings.

#278 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 04:57 PM:

Faren Miller, on crosswords: my city has two papers that the schools get. One runs a crossword that gets harder as the week goes on; I can reliably do Monday and Tuesday, but I seldom exert myself if Wednesday isn't a do-in-ink type of day. The other's crossword doesn't escalate, and for me, it's a pre-Monday. I've taken a page from my grandmother and started doing that one on graph paper. I cover the grid itself and then go through the clues.

On spelling and visually learning languages: oh YES that is me. I have a good memory for what I read and am a very good speller-- I was one of those kids who lost spelling bees because I'd never encountered the word in text or never heard it pronounced. My last spelling bee loss shook my confidence for quite some time because it was a word everyone spelled kind of differently, and none of them had been right. And most people didn't pronounce it right, either.

#279 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 04:58 PM:

Praisegod, 277: I'm slowly getting used to the new accents, but you're right; "oignon" is the one true spelling.

And now for some Open Threadiness! A filk of a parody. (There ought to be a word for that.)

Beautiful tea, so steaming hot,
Waiting in a little pot!
Who for such dainties would not trot?
Tea of the evening, beautiful tea!
Tea of the evening, beautiful tea!
Beautiful tea! Beeyou-tiful tea!
Tea of the evening, beautiful tea!
Beautiful tea! Who cares for ink,
Wine, or any other drink?
Who would not give all else for three
pennyworth only of beautiful tea?
Beautiful tea! Beeyou-tiful tea!
Tea of the evening, beautiful tea!

#280 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 05:02 PM:

Elliott Mason @149/908: Actually, therein lies a tale, in a way.

Humph. Blocked behind an "Adult Content" notice. Phmpf.

#281 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 05:09 PM:

Elliot Mason @ 230 (& also Pat H @ 241):

... Makes me wonder if someone didn't regularize things in the mid-1800s or something ...

The effort to regularize Spanish spelling actually started in the 18th Century, but there have been revisions ever since, including some minor tweaks in the 20th Century; all of this is under the auspices of the Real Academia Española.

This sort of periodic reform is true of several other languages: TexAnne pointed out a recent spelling revision for French, and the most recent German revision was issued in 1996 (it's still controversial; some newspapers are ignoring it).

Portuguese spelling was apparently rather a mess (partly because various Renaissance writers had the bright idea of changing the spelling of some words to make them more closely resemble their Latin roots) up until a major reform in 1911.

No one has ever agreed on an entity to oversee English spelling reform...

#282 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 05:11 PM:

praisegod barebones @ 143:

That's a good point; I have the vague impression that written French (almost?) amounts to a different dialect from spoken French, and since (almost?) no one is raised speaking that dialect, some explicit training and work would understandably be needed to learn it.

(Leaving aside the minor issue that what people sometimes mean by "grammar" is a mixture of orthography, punctuation, and arbitrary shibboleths of style like "don't split infinitives"...)

#283 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 05:41 PM:

Mycroft:

The article writer's full agenda is easier to understand when you read his next to last paragraph. (Earlier, the article proposed that evidence found by "coerced information" (aka, the cops take you in a back room and beat some answers out of you) be admitted in court.)

Finally, the court could make clear that in situations of ongoing criminality—whether a kidnapping-in-progress, a domestic conspiracy among mobsters, or international terrorism—government may properly oblige suspects to tell everything they know. Because there is an urgent need to find the kidnapping victim or the ticking bomb or the details of some future bomb plot, the rules that regulate ordinary completed crimes do not mechanically apply. In the situation of an ongoing crime, the government is not merely trying to solve one crime but also to prevent the next one. That should make a difference in court.

I can't see any way to read that notion of the authorities "obliging" you to tell everything you know other than torture or threats. Domestic mobsters in a conspiracy would include drug dealers, including small-time ones, I suppose.

So the proposal of the author of the article, Akhil Reed Amar, is apparently that we simply (re-)introduce torture as a formal, accepted part of our legal system. The police arrest you on suspicion of some crime, take you into a back room, and beat you till you tell them everything they want to know. (If you're innocent, well, I guess it's just not your day.) They can't use the confession directly, but they can use whatever information they beat out of you to build a case against you. (Of course, the other people who testify against you will never be worried about themselves facing torture if they say the wrong thing on the stand.)

One interesting side issue here is that Amar continues the common pattern of torture advocates of emphasizing current, ongoing crimes. He's taken the next step from justification of torture in extreme, ticking time bomb hypotheticals, to everyday crimes, but he's still talking about stopping some ongoing or planned crime. And yet, in this case, the torture was used to find evidence to determine that this guy was guilty fo a crime committed a decade earlier.

I predict that upon adopting his proposals, we will quickly get convictions on any number of unsolved crimes. And that annoying the local or federal authorities with protests, lawsuits, unfortunate media stories, or general mouthiness will also become far, far less common.

#284 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 05:47 PM:

Julie L. @ 275: the Japanese version of the "Do Re Mi"

And then there's the Video Pirates' version:

Do, some cash, a bunch of cash
Re, a guy that works at Sears
Mi, the guy who sings this song
Fa, the space between your ears
So, a word that goes with "what"
La, a thing that just ain't so
Ti, the guy the A-Team's got
Who makes a lot of do, do, do, do....

#285 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 05:52 PM:

Peter Erwin @ 282: Come to think of it, this is relevant to the discussion between ddb, TexAnne, and Serge at 221-225ish about French spelling: from what I've observed, one of the hardest things for young francophones to learn about spelling and reading is that there are a whole bunch of letters there that don't seem to be doing anything phonetically. Most plurals which end in s don't sound the s, for example. (Now, it may be that it's particularly difficult for my children, since they both started learning to read in Turkish, which - as I've said - is wonderfully phonetic.)

Re written and spoken versions of a language being distinct dialects: I suspect that that's truer in many languages than one might at first suspect. (I reckon that a competent native speaker of English might well judge the spoken version of that last sentence to be 'not English' for example.) If there's something that's distinctive of the French, at least by comparison with english speakers, it's that they choose to celebrate that difference rather than pretend it's not there.

I find myself wondering whether this has anything to do with the fact that the French seem - at least since the time of the revolution - to have had, historically, a fairly negative attitude to the existence of different spoken dialects of French. It seems very different from the attitude in Germany where its almost as though people are encouraged to regard themselves as being Hochdeutsch/local dialect bilinguals. (or that's what I understood when I spent a year in Bavaria, when I was younger)

Actually, this whole business of the different status of dialects in different national and linguistic cultures is something I'd like to have more of a grip on, altogether.

#286 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 06:33 PM:

Lila @70: the 3 voices [of Greek] (active, passive, middle) came as a shock.

Active, passive, and undecided?

#287 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 06:47 PM:

albatross, #283: That's pretty much what I was thinking, only more coherently laid out and with less profanity.

Open Threadiness: Vanderbilt is considering mixed-gender dorms. Ben, fidelio, any comments?

#288 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 06:58 PM:

Hmpf @99: different collective nouns for all kinds of different animals.

...providing all sorts of party-time fun. My two personal favorites: a murder of crows and a business of ferrets.

#289 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 07:08 PM:

open-threadiness:

Costco has a good corporate reputation--treats its employees well and so on. Walmart seems to be completely evil.

What about BJ's Wholesale Club? Anyone here have any knowledge/opinion/links? I'm having trouble coming up with useful search terms to google on.

#290 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 07:18 PM:

I just had a grand time in Toronto, and performed the Cursing Polka for an audience. My voice was in the process of finking out on me (slightly sick, I guess), and my keyboard skills went out the window, but it came across thanks to the words.

Linkmeister @276. Here's how hard I've been pursuing my homework. I didn't look at the new Bujold book. I just did homework. All Clear came in and Cathy finished it, and I just did homework. Today I finally decided I could risk starting the latter, and now I'm 140 pages in. Life is good. (And there's no class this week.)

#291 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 07:26 PM:

Teresa, pursuant to events of Saturday night:

There was yet time enough for Fortunato to take a different path. The smart thing, of course, was to prepare for the unexpected, for failure to prepare was preparation for failure. A poor workman blames his tools, he thought, checking his equipment and musing how nail-like the world used to appear when he had carried a hammer.

There was no time like the present. The road rose up to meet his feet and he passed his neighbor's house, noting how much greener the grass was on the far side of the fence that made them good neighbors. The Joneses were already out walking, but he kept up with them easily, overtaking them a minute later.

"You're early to rise," said Jones. "Going on a long journey?"

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

"Another day of keeping your shoulder to the wheel and your nose to the grindstone?"

"I prefer to think that I am seeking, so that I may find."

"Third time's the charm," put in old Mrs. Jones.

"Perhaps it will be in the last place I look," said Fortunato with a smile, as his legs, long enough to reach the ground, took him away from the slower Joneses. Time waited for no man, and he intended to gather no moss today. Having previously sought the council of those wiser than himself, he knew what he wanted. His eye was on the prize. Yet from time to time, he remembered to stop and smell the roses. His road was uphill, leading to success. He looked back at the Joneses, now distant specks. I will meet them again on the way down, he thought.

The regular tread of his feet were like a song, and he brought out a small concertina from his pack. No sense letting his idle hands do the Devil's work. His ability to juggle several tasks took him far as he lightened his load with music. What charms it had, and how it soothed his breast! It was a universal language, understood by all he passed. Some of these didn't have smiles, so he gave them his own. They were just frowns, turned upside down. He laughed, and the world laughed with him. Some dogs barked at him, but he knew that as long as they were barking, they wouldn't bite.

He had now climbed the ascending road a fair distance, and from his height he saw far. Winding afar off was the river. A river, anyway, and never the same one he'd stepped in before. By its side were houses — glass ones, in which nobody dared throw stones, and humble homes: there were no places like them. Farther away were farms, where farmers put eggs into baskets, though the wise ones didn't put all of them into the same one. In the fields, horses ran free as farmers locked the barns behind them. They would soon realize their mistake.

Checking his watch, Fortunato increased his pace. A stitch in time, he thought, saves nine. In a few minutes, it would be after nine, and he would be late, though that was better than never. He looked down and saw his shadow precede him. When he left, it would be the other way around. When small men cast big shadows, he thought, the sun is going down. He hastened inside and clocked in moments before the town clock struck the hour. Saved by the bell!

He filled his coffee cup and hurried to his desk, not wanting to put his work off to tomorrow. Spying a penny on the floor, he put it in his pocket and thought, well, I've earned a penny already. A co-worker passed by and asked if he'd made his fortune yet. He smiled and shook his head. The smell of cookies wafted from the Chinese bakery down the hall where some of his co-workers were, in a manner of speaking, trapped. Before him were hundreds of small slips of paper that fit into those cookies. They were all blank so far. He rested his chin on his hand and stared at the slips of paper, brow wrinkled in concentration.

Where were the ideas? Why didn't they come?

#292 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 07:58 PM:

Kip W. #291:
There is many a true word in that.

#293 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 08:06 PM:

IIRC English used to have a verbal distinction similar to Spanish saber/conocer (and German wissen/kennen), but only a few traces remain; I don't think there's still a clear polarity between, say, "wise" (or "savvy") vs. "canny".

I think of quite a bit of difference between "wise" and "cunning". Blackadder would never say he has a wise plan (and, indeed, he generally doesn't).

There's also quite a bit of difference between a wise man and a wise guy...

#294 ::: Pat H ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 08:28 PM:

#281, Peter
The Deutsche Rechtschreibreform of 1996 is interesting but not very widely respected (afaik) - it seeks to eliminate the letter esszet (capital beta with a tail) and the umlaut accent (replaced by the letter 'e' inserted after the formerly-umlauted letter). Aside from laziness in typing, I've seen very little adherence to the umlaut thing (though esszet is getting kinda rare).

#295 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 08:40 PM:

Kip W @ 291 - WOW!!

#296 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 09:06 PM:

Lee@287: Vanderbilt is only now considering mixed-gender dorms? I am so completely and totally appalled; when I went to college 38 years ago mixed-gender dorms were the norm, and the few people who got stuck on single-sex floors were mostly really unhappy about it.

#297 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 09:14 PM:

@294

I hadn't heard of (that particular) German spelling reform but I can understand why what you describe would become useful at that time:

In 1996 word-processing software (mostly designed for the English-language market) didn't handle umlauts very well, and there's no esszet key. Whereas "ue" and "oe" and "ss" are quite easily typed with the computer equipment commonly available in 1996...

#298 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 09:17 PM:

all ye luna noticers

Moon! Moon! Moon!

More Moon!

It is a grace and a gift to be able to see, to walk below, to have its light glow, shimmer, shake and sparkle upon the River.

It's also warmed up considerably since the last couple of days.

Let us enjoy Moon since we can!

Love, C.

#299 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 09:22 PM:

praisegod barebones@273: Okay, so the original actually is much like I guessed (within the extremely broad variations of English-trained ears hearing the sounds, and conveying them in English spelling, anyway).

This is fun -- and I can't stand the actual product (or, I can marginally stand in an emergency the denatured sweetened American version if I absolutely have to, but the more "authentic" or "natural" it gets the less I like it). I dislike that particular sour; it's the same as the sour in sour-dough bread, which I also dislike.

#300 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 09:23 PM:

Constance @298, I am enjoying watching it climb higher in the sky each time I scurry to the laundry room to deal with the detritus of my trip to steampunk-land.

#301 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 09:45 PM:

ddb, #396: Behold the difference between Minnesota and Tennessee. The fall of 1973, when I started at Vandy, was the first year without gender quotas on admissions; prior to that, at most 1/3 of the entering freshmen could be female, and most of those (obviously) were going to be in the Nursing School. Jokes about women going to Vandy to get their MRS. degree were both common and (unfortunately) reasonably accurate. ALL freshman dorms were gender-segregated; a few of the upperclass dorms were mixed by floors. Didn't we just recently have a discussion here that included references to visitation plans at Vandy? And remember also, their student body runs heavily to the children of rich Republicans, who grow up to become rich Republicans in turn. I am not even remotely surprised that this is happening only now.

#302 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2010, 10:28 PM:

Jacque 286: Active, passive, and undecided?

Active, passive, and versatile?

#303 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 12:10 AM:

I was in a coed-by-room freshman dorm in 1987-88. (except for third floor,which was coed by wing. Third floor was all crazy. The standard line was "The guys beat up on the furniture, the girls beat up on each other.) Sharing a bathroom seemed to create a family bond really fast- it seemed creepy to date someone that you were already that close to, or something. "That person you see brushing their teeth and padding around in their bathrobe" seemed to read as "sibling". So my neighors dated people on fourth or sixth floor, or dated people on the other wing of fifth floor, or even seventh if they really liked stairs. [People broke the elevator frequently. We thought they were pouring water down the shaft, but I don't remember why we thought that.]

So that's MY memories of the matter.

#304 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 12:53 AM:

I lived on a coed floor my freshman year. Sophomore year, I spent the first half in a coed and very chaotic student co-op (Le Chateau—second only to the infamous Barrington Hall in its unruliness). After one too many incidents of harassment*, I moved to one of the all-female co-ops, and found it much more sane (and clean) than either of the mixed-sex environments I'd been in before. So when I was picking dorm for my junior year abroad, I requested University Hall, the all-female one, which was delightful and magical in many ways. I finished college back in the all-female co-op in Berkeley.

I liked having the choice of single sex or mixed sex, but found all-female environments much more restful. Mileage varies.

-----
* sexual, religious, against me, against other people. I don't blame the mixed-sex environment. Le Chateau was dominated by a culture which valued freedom from conventional restraints, and some people felt that freedom should include freedom from manners, respect, and hygiene.

#305 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 12:55 AM:

The common wisdom among my friends during college was that one does not commit floorcest. It's just a bad idea.

#306 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 01:17 AM:

Huh. My university was segregated by floor / wing or by dorm (on request; the dorms were pretty small, mostly running to 30 rooms or so, so it just made it simple.) My older brother is the one who suggested single-gender dorms to me, but that was specifically to keep me out of the one monster dorm that most of the freshmen were stuck in— thin walls and frosh going crazy made for a bad study environment.

However, there were plenty of "on-campus apartments" that counted as dorms for the purpose of housing, and those were mixed gender.

There *were* rules about people of the opposite gender not being allowed in rooms after 11PM in the dorms, but this was a Catholic campus, after all. And there were plenty of other places to hang out. The weirder rule was the "dry campus" rule. Of course, there was a certain logic behind that one... the campus had been listed as a great "party school" (by Playboy, IIRC) in the 1980s, and the administration decided to ban alcohol from campus.

The fact that this is a Jesuit school only makes the irony more delicious.

Diatryma @305: I was in the Honors Program, which had about twenty students from each class level. The class just ahead of ours warned us that Honors incest never does well, don't even consider it.

There are no fewer than four* "Honors incest" marriages in each of these two classes— three of them from their class to mine. Mine is one of them. (In both senses, to clarify. Evil Rob is from the class ahead of mine.)

*We had some weird confluences of names. The class after mine had Chris, Chris, Chris, Kristan (male), and Christian**. Out of ten males.

**Totally unrelated tangent: Christian died on Mount Kilimanjaro. Now you can figure out what school I went to and when I graduated.

#307 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 01:59 AM:

I chose an all-women dorm, sight-unseen, and everything I saw after I got to campus made me glad of the choice. During my 4 years there, dorms which included men had frequent prank fire alarms; some genuine fire alarms due to fires set on purpose; one bomb explode in a room (it was small, fortunately); people thrown through doors, walls and windows; and stereos played at high volume even late into the night.

In my all-women dorm, it was sufficiently quiet by midnight that I could get to sleep, and prank fire alarms happened at most once per year. I like adult males just fine, but I don't recommend living with packs of 18 to 22 year olds. Mind you, my dorm didn't forbid male visitors at any time of the day or night, so we had quite a few visitors, and even some long-term unofficial residents, but they kept a low profile.

#308 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 02:30 AM:

My frosh year in college, I was in a quiet dorm. Or, I should say, The Quiet Dorm. It was explicitly tagged as such, and had special rules about how to handle noise complaints, and at what hours everyone was expected to shut up and put on their headphones. That one was male/female by floor. Quiet. Very quiet. I liked it. Sophomore year I had a better roommate, but a different dorm--also divided by floor, as only one dorm in campus divvied by room, and had to be requested specifically, and was no frosh at that--and good god the noise.

I mostly remember the girls being very very noisy, in the second dorm. But since there weren't any boys on my floor... I suppose it stands to reason those would be the ones I'd notice. A few pulled fire alarms, too. Always fun at 3am.

I moved off campus the year after that to a sorority house, which was small and all-female and, alas, only sometimes quiet. No randomly pulled fire alarms, though with about eight of us in the house, it wouldn't have taken long to find out who did that if so.

#309 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 04:26 AM:

Pat H @ 294:
The Deutsche Rechtschreibreform of 1996 is interesting but not very widely respected (afaik) - it seeks to eliminate the letter esszet (capital beta with a tail) and the umlaut accent (replaced by the letter 'e' inserted after the formerly-umlauted letter). Aside from laziness in typing, I've seen very little adherence to the umlaut thing (though esszet is getting kinda rare).

You're imagining something far more radical than the actual 1996 reform. Esszet (ß) is eliminated for certain cases, true, but retained for others. And no one's touching the umlaut.[1] (That, I think, would have caused a much larger uproar than the actual reform generated!)

(Using ae, oe, ue in place of ä, ö, ü is of course an old practice -- Goethe was apparently quite insistent on spelling his name that way and not "Göthe" -- and the umlaut originated as a miniscule "e" written atop other vowels.)

[1] There are a few instances where "ä" is supposed to change to "e", but others where the reverse is supposed to happen; mostly these are cases meant to make the spelling of derived words reflect their root more precisely.

#310 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 07:26 AM:

When the USA'ians say "dorm" I think wide open room with lots of beds in it, like I slept in a couple of times when away from home. A lot of private schools in Scotland kept them in use at least into the 90's. Whereas presumably you mean collection of individual rooms, otherwise some of what has been written really would seem odd.

#311 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 08:37 AM:

Back to French's pronunciation not being that obvious from looking at the words...
I realize that I recently came across such a situation.

Connie Willis was in Albuquerque this last weekend. When she asked me what the French words on my sweatshirt meant, I explained what they were from. That's when she went "Ahah!". Not only did she know the movie they were from, but she had even been to the castle where it had been filmed.

The words?

"Fetchez la vache!"

#312 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 08:46 AM:

guthrie @310, yes, US college dorms are more like hotels than the kind of dormitory you're thinking of. Older ones may have a shared restroom for a whole floor or wing; newer ones are more likely to be suites with one restroom for every two or four bedrooms.

In 1979 at Indiana U, I was on an "academic" floor in an all-female dorm, which was generally pleasantly quiet. Above us was the "virgin vault," a floor with absolutely no male visitation. They were just starting to experiment with a few dorm buildings alternating male and female floors. There was one big bathroom per wing, and I think there were maybe 30 of us per wing.

Here at OU, the honors dorm is segregated by floor and has one bathroom per wing (shared by 16 people), but the renovated dorms and the newer apartments are all suite-style. Dorms are getting pretty luxurious these days, as parental pocketbooks can attest.

#313 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 08:50 AM:

guthrie @310 When the USA'ians say "dorm" I think wide open room with lots of beds in it

You are correct; our sense of the term is the collection of individual rooms. (Usually "double" rooms - shared with a roommate - rather than truly individual rooms.) In the traditional configuration, the toilets and showers are down the hall. In some, there are bathrooms shared between a pair of rooms or some other "suite" configuration.

dorm = residence hall

#314 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 09:06 AM:

Ugh, language reform. Heaven preserve me from committees -- I'll take organic change any time. I learned German under the old system. When my daughter started school, the new rules had just been implemented. They were tweaked in 2004 and 2006, which led to confused kids, burned out teachers, and a population unsure of what's correct.

It's actually kind of funny -- German is so much more regular in spelling and pronunciation than English, and yet they felt it needed more consistency.

#315 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 10:10 AM:

View from this side of the pond: My college at Cambridge, Girton, was the original women's college, but went mixed in 1979* and is now 50:50 female:male. There was no segregation of corridors, or of bathrooms** etc. on the corridors (although there were still men's and women's toilets in the "public", as opposed to the residential, areas). New Hall (recently renamed Murray Edwards) and Newnham are still women-only; I seem to recall that one of them has in its constitution that it can only go mixed when the university as a whole reaches 50% women.

I am extremely glad that I never had to share a room at university; having my own private space was extremely important. The American system (where shared rooms seems to be the norm) sounds awful to me.

Excess noise wasn't a problem most of the time - certainly no setting off of fire alarms. Although that powder that explodes underfoot once dry was scattered along the corridors occasionally. The year my room was next to a guy who tended to play his music too loud, we came to an agreement: when I had an essay to write and was really being bothered by his music, I'd tell him and he would turn it down; the rest of the time, I'd cope. Even then, he didn't play it -that- late (he was a scientist as well, so also had morning lectures to get to.

* Thereby ruining the fun of the club, whose name escapes me, of men who had successfully made it into Girton, had a bath, and got out again without being caught by the porters. I do believe this required female assistance.

** By which I do mean rooms with baths/showers, not just toilets.

#316 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 10:19 AM:

Hey, TNH, there's a book about you.

I know this blog is interested in publishing scams, so when I came across this, I thought of you. There's a company out there called "Books LLC" whose business is, it seems, printing POD copies of Wikipedia articles and selling them for about $1 a page.

For instance, the book about you (and other "Investigative Bloggers":

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Investigative-Bloggers/Books-Llc/e/9781158403905

They make no bones about what they're doing:

http://www.booksllc.net/faqs.cfm

selling you stuff that you can get for free.

I guess it's living proof that "there's a sucker born every minute."

#317 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 10:38 AM:

pm215 @272: I really should consult Daijisen more often than I do. Fascinating entry.

BTW, that でおはす should be read de owasu not de ohasu -- 御座す (owasu) being yet another archaic honorific form of "to be" that you never learn in textbooks until you stumble over it, stubbing your toe, making you wonder where the heck THAT popped up from. Much like -zu negative endings.

---L.

#318 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 10:58 AM:

http://www.booksllc.net/faqs.cfm

The notion of "free digital review copies" in this context is kind of amusing.

#319 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 11:05 AM:

Oh, for the love of ice cream and little fluffy puppy dogs.

Elliott Mason, I tried to reply to your LJ message, but LJ declined to deliver on the grounds of "privacy settings." Watch your Yahoo email instead.

I LOVE computers.*

*Nope, no sarcasm here.

#320 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 11:18 AM:

Am I being deceived by a false cognate, or does the Dutch for "orange juice" really translate as "Chinese apple sap"?

#321 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 11:34 AM:

Carrie S. -- Dutch 'sap' and German 'Saft' both mean juice.

#322 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 11:42 AM:

Debbie: Yay, semantic change; does Dutch (or German) have a separate word for the liquid that comes out of the stem of the plant, rather than the liquid that comes out of the fruit?

#323 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 11:50 AM:

The musicians and composers who I know personally -- by now, very, very, very many -- are deeply aware of the relationships between music and math, particularly those who deal with rhythm, which is all about measurement, counting, precision, etc. Even if they don't articulate it in mathematician vocabulary, they certainly do in the musical vocabulary they all share, no matter what language they are born learning to speak.

And speaking of mathematics as we -- or some -- are: this of interest from today's NY Times Science and Arts ."

[ "The considerable mathematical knowledge of the Babylonians was uncovered by the Austrian mathematician Otto E. Neugebauer, who died in 1990. Scholars since then have turned to the task of understanding how the knowledge was used. The items in the exhibition are drawn from the archaeological collections of Columbia, Yale and the University of Pennsylvania." ]

13 Sumerian tablets of mathematical exercises are on display until Dec. 17 at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, part of New York University.

You must love this bit:

"With some tablets the answers are stated without any explanation, giving the impression that they were for show, a possession designed to make the owner seem an academic."

There's also a slide show.

Love, C.

#324 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 12:08 PM:

Carrie S. -- I can only speak for German, but 'Saft' is used for both tree sap and (fruit) juice. You generally specify the type of fruit (Apfelsaft, Zitronensaft), but you don't say "Baumsaft"/tree juice.

Interestingly (to me), in both languages Saft/juice are colloquial for electricity -- dunno about Dutch.

#326 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 12:20 PM:

Xopher @ 325 -

News From The Future - Dateline, April 1, 2012 -

Executives at Warner Bros. announced that they will reboot the Harry Potter franchise. According to one source, "The movies from the prior decade were good in their way, but we want to put forth a new Harry Potter for the current generation."

#328 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 12:46 PM:

Ugh, Steve, I won't be surprised. Disgusted, yes, but not surprised.

I'm figuring the reboot of, oh, White Collar is due any day now.

You say the show is still enjoying its original run?

Your point?

#329 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 01:05 PM:

Reboot Harry Potter?!

They'd need to wait at least eight to ten years...

BUT, think of what they could do if the BBC did it as a TV series -- one year of episodes (22-26?) covering each book.

#330 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 02:37 PM:

Constance @323, wrt Sumerian math tablets: "With some tablets the answers are stated without any explanation, giving the impression that they were for show, a possession designed to make the owner seem an academic."

IIRC most sangaku didn't provide step-by-step proofs/explications either. They're still very decorative, in any case.

#331 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 02:56 PM:

Carrie S @322:

According to my dictionary, het sap means both sap and juice.

#332 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 03:16 PM:

Open Thread coolness: Flying Snakes! ...and the science behind how they do it.

#333 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 03:17 PM:

praisegod barebones @285:

Actually, this whole business of the different status of dialects in different national and linguistic cultures is something I'd like to have more of a grip on, altogether.

Well, I've certainly touched on the issue in the Netherlands.

In the comments to that entry, I also gave a quick overview of Dutch spelling reform. As so often happens here, popular dissatisfaction with a centrally mandated solution—het Groene Boekje—led to concrete action. In this case, that was the publication of het Witte Boekje, an alternative spelling reform for people and institutions who disagreed with the official changes. Most newspapers use the latter.

#334 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 03:40 PM:

Fragano @ 68 - *splorfl* ROFL - I love it. Committing it to memory, will soon attempt to tell it to friends who don't speak Spanish and will give me odd looks.

(One of these days I'll get caught up on this thread. It will not be today, at least not before I get some actual work done.)

#335 ::: pm215 ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 03:43 PM:

L.N. Hammer@317: thanks for the 'de owasu' correction. I'm definitely glad to be learning Japanese after the post-war kana spelling reforms...

#336 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 03:43 PM:

(I learned "el pez perezoso" from my husband, who doesn't speak Spanish, who heard it from an Argentinian coworker. He told it to me in English and the result was my working my way to the punchline much like the "straight man" in the classic "straight man and funny guy" formulation. At which point I laughed for five minutes straight. "The fish!" "But why the fish?" "What does it do?" "Um. It swims. 'Nada?' NADA! HA HA HA HA HA HA whooo...")

#337 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 04:05 PM:

In French...
sap - sève
juice - jus (silent 's')

#338 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 05:42 PM:

Constance #298: Indeed... I not only saw it that night, but got a gorgeous view of it in my early-morning sky today.

I still remember my youngest niece as a babe-in-arms, pointing up at it... "Moon!"... Her father commented "the moon is magic!" (But then, most of 20 years after I abandoned Wicca, I still think "Hail Diana" when I see a full or waxing moon.)

#339 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 05:49 PM:

TexAnne @ 235

I don't think I've ever seen any of these ("ognon"? Seriously?). I think Serge is right - these never caught on (at least, here).

#340 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 06:06 PM:

Cheryl, 235: I know, right? I've never seen "ognon" in the wild, but I've seen a few of the verbs.

BTW, where is "here"?

#341 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 06:11 PM:

Pat H @175: cue ObSF

#342 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 06:20 PM:

Leah Miller @189: I need to learn the key combinations for some other footnote markers, eventually. I'm dying here.

Or, if you wanted, you could use numercal footnotes. Just type <sup>N</sup> to produce N.

#343 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 06:30 PM:

Cheryl @ 339... these never caught on

Back in the late-1970s(?), the Quebec govt tried to convince people that, when they go to a MacDonald, they should ask not for a hamburger, but for a hambourgeois.

That one definitely didn't catch on.

#344 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 06:31 PM:

Leah Miller @189 said: I need to learn the key combinations for some other footnote markers, eventually. I'm dying here.

Or you could use this site, (with cut-and-paste) which I think I learned about in a previous ML Open Thread ...

#345 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 06:42 PM:

Xopher@325

Although I really don't see the point of this specific remake. From a commercial standpoint, the reason to do a remake is to attract the audience for the original. This remake is practically designed to actively repel that audience. They'd be better off doing a more or less original movie and perhaps talking about how it was "inspired" by or "in the tradition of" BtVS.

#346 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 06:45 PM:

Constance @215: What about that MOON!

Old news by now, but since you asked ....

#347 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 06:58 PM:

the most versatile way is just to cut and paste from the character palette.

ᨊ-ᨊ
-ᨆ-
-ᨎ-

#348 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 06:59 PM:

After Tom Whitmore's @233, I have to shake off some cognitive dissonance at every mention of Homer.

#349 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 07:01 PM:

Oh. Right. That was the point. (Context. Ahem.)

#350 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 07:04 PM:

#340 TexAnne

BTW, where is "here"?

Sorry! I'm in Montreal.

#343 Serge

Back in the late-1970s(?), the Quebec govt tried to convince people that, when they go to a MacDonald, they should ask not for a hamburger, but for a hambourgeois.

I remember that. I still see it on the menus of a few old casse-croûtes, along with 'chien chaud' (hot dog), and something else I can't think of right now.

Not that anyone actually uses them. You walk up to the counter and ask for "un hamburger pas d'oignons, un hot-dog-all-dress, frites familial, et 2 7-up, pour apporter". Asking for a hambourgeois or a chien-chaud would get you some very funny looks.

BTW, Serge: "MacDonald". I saw what you did there.*

*Somewhere in Quebec, under the building of l'Office de la langue française, is a storage room filled with apostrophe-esses♀

♀OK, I have no idea how to type that. " 's's"? "Apostrophe S's"?

#351 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 07:09 PM:

ajay @242: Did the Muppets ever do Hamlet?

Dunno, but the Flying Karamazov Brothers did Comedy of Errors.

#352 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 07:12 PM:

Jacque @ #286:

Lila @70:' the 3 voices [of Greek] (active, passive, middle) came as a shock.'
Active, passive, and undecided?

One of the uses of the middle is to indicate reflexive action, e.g. if you wash something, that's active; if someone washes you, that's passive; if you wash yourself, that's middle.

#353 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 07:18 PM:

Lila (352): *lightbulb!*

Thank you! In my almost☂-monolingual-English-speaker way, I never understood how there could be a third voice--until now.

☂I studied both German and Latin in high school, but retained very little of either.

#354 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 07:33 PM:

Serge #343:

Presumably, if they were lower-middle-class they should ask for a petit hambourgeois.

#355 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 07:38 PM:

Cheryl, 350: Wait...les Montréalais don't make a distinction between apporter and emporter? In France that'd be "...à emporter."

#356 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 07:44 PM:

Jacque @ 341:

I wish I could find a link to corroborate this, but, oh, well. I distinctly remember reading some article or essay written by Delany in which he says he really didn't believe in the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis when he wrote "Babel-17"; he just wanted to see where it took him. And I for one am glad he did, it's a lot of fun to read.

#357 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 08:07 PM:

#355 ::: TexAnne

les Montréalais don't make a distinction between apporter and emporter? In France that'd be "...à emporter."

Properly, yes. At the casse-croûte? Not so much. And if you ask them about it, they are likely to say, "Anéoué, c'est juste moé pis la gang. Je m'en fiche."

Want to really freak yourself out? Watch some Têtes à Claques - it's hysterical, if you can get past the dialect.

And I've managed to turn the conversation around, haven't I? Sorry. I'm off for the evening, but I'll try and catch up with the thread tomorrow.

#358 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 08:15 PM:

Michael, #345: Completely unconfirmed rumor (as in, I heard it from someone who heard it from someone who heard it from someone who is probably in a position to have heard it from a reliable source) -- the reason they're doing this is to re-attract the original-age target market, who can't get past the lack of everyday items like cellphones in the Whedon version. It breaks their suspension of disbelief.

#359 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 08:22 PM:

Cheryl at 350: Use escape codes?

\'\s's ?

#360 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 09:02 PM:

Lee #358: Heh! Funny, how many mystery, thriller, and horror plots get completely broken by the omnipresence of cell phones. ;-) It occurs to me that's probably why they redid Hardy Boys and (a while back) Nancy Drew....

#361 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 10:03 PM:

When I was in "Kiss Me, Kate" ten years back, we used cell phones. With our minimal set, it made things a lot easier.

#362 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 10:16 PM:

Bruce 356: The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is not nonsense, but Babel-17 (a language in which untrue things cannot be said) is. If Delany said that he had at best an imperfect understanding of Sapir-Whorf, which isn't terribly surprising if he really relied on Mario Pei (a "linguist" renowned for claiming that vowels, universally, are voiced, which several of the commenters on this blog know to be false) for his linguistics.

#363 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 10:32 PM:

I only had one year of college and it was at a religious school. My parents went there (met there) and I was a minor; they told me I had no choice (I found out later I could have become emancipated then). The school had me choose three dorms and I chose the three newest. When I got there, I was not only in the oldest dorm, but in my mother's room.

It did have an en suite bathroom while the newer dorms had group bathrooms, but I had two very odd roommates (they probably thought the same of me) and I had a very difficult time. One of the roommates had been a mishkid her entire life and looked at us as her family and just took things of ours that she wanted. Caused her some time in the hospital when she took a pill from our other roommate (who moved her bed into the closet).

After the first quarter, there were enough empty rooms in the newer dorms that they offered me a double room for the price of one bed in a double and I took it. I turned the bed up vertically, put it in the other closet, and brought in a couple of Papasan chairs and a table. That worked out much better, even with having to share a bathroom with about 20 women in that section.

#364 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2010, 11:01 PM:

One minor redeeming factor about new spam on old threads is that it gives me an excuse to revisit them.* I just spent an enjoyable hour re-reading "The Vanishing Gibson".

* Or to read them for the first time, if they predate my arrival here.

#365 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 12:20 AM:

David Harmon @ 360:

I can't count the number of plot devices I've seen in the last few years that required the protagonist to forget to charge a cell phone at some critical juncture. And that old chestnut will be obsolesced by fuel cell powered phones in the next couple of years.

Xopher @ 362:

I don't think Delany said Sapir-Whorf was "nonsense"; IIRC he objected to the strong version of Sapir-Whorf, that language determines thought as opposed to the weak version that language influences thought.

#366 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 01:05 AM:

One odd thing that happened during my recent hospital stay was that I started to have web-surfing dreams. I could feel my right hand twitch as if moving-clicking a mouse. Visuals would shift like cut-scenes in a post-Akira anime, focus on playing an online game, then shift again.

#367 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 01:18 AM:

Weird book room: Why Do I Vomit?

There are other odd titles there, like A Lust for Window Sills and (most interestingly for this particular blog) Anticraft: Knitting, Beading and Stitching for the Slightly Sinister.

#368 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 03:29 AM:

Among the titles on that Weird Books page, I own copies of both 101 Uses For A Dead Cat and A History of Orgies.

I am flabbergasted that How To Shit In The Woods was NOT one of the listed titles.

#369 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 04:35 AM:

David @360,

My father, in the 1950s, was running a business without a telephone. His father was stubbornly against it. We didn't get a telephone until after both I and my brother were born.

When I think of some of the stuff which intrudes on our telephone now ("This isn't advertising." Oh yeah?) I sometimes find it hard to be convinced of the benefits.

#370 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 06:21 AM:

Weird books: And they don't include "Flattened Fauna: A Field Guide to Common Animals of Roads, Streets and Highways" Roger M. Knutson.

He was the after-dinner speaker at a conference I went to. I particularly liked the bit about how roadkill toads always have one arm raised "as if in surrender".

#371 ::: rams ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 06:26 AM:

Diatryma@207 -- I've long wished that the airlines would provide a geologist (preferably in the seat next to my window seat) on every flight so I could ask "What are those round black areas all over the ground?" Maybe they could hire geologists as air marshals?

#372 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 07:54 AM:

rams @ 371 -

They're most likely center-pivot irrigation systems.


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b7/TypicalCenterPivotIrrigationLandscape.png

#373 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 08:38 AM:

Xopher @ 362: ...Babel-17 (a language in which untrue things cannot be said)...

It has been a few years since I last read Babel 17 but that's not how I remember the language working. The way I remember it, the language Babel-17 was so wrapped up in the philosophy and world-view of its creators that understanding it fully required and compelled the speaker to sympathise with the cause of its creators. Thus anyone who tried to translate enemy communications during the war against the users of Babel-17 tended to betray their own side.

#374 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 08:40 AM:

Would any colour-blind people care to comment on the sand-glass traffic light particle? It seems to me like a stupidly dangerous idea.

#375 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 09:27 AM:

Fragano @ 354... A more upscale burger joint could be called "Le Charme Discret de l'Hambourgeoisie".

#376 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 09:31 AM:

TexAnne @ 355... Cheryl @ 357... People in Québec may speak the language of Molière, but I'm not sure the latter would understand the local dialect.

#377 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 09:42 AM:

rams @371 said: I've long wished that the airlines would provide a geologist (preferably in the seat next to my window seat) on every flight so I could ask "What are those round black areas all over the ground?"

My mom raised me, as a kid, to follow along on the map -- this is one way she kept me occupied on long car trips, and it translated nicely to plane trips. We played a lot of "What's That?" Baseball fields and big-box stores are particularly easy to spot.

As an adult, I rarely pack a map, but if I get a window I still avidly look out them ... and photograph, if they're clear enough (and the sun cooperates).

Between Chicago and southern California, the land goes as follows:
-- City and subdivisions [roughly northern Illinois]
-- Green fields with square fencelines, plus towns [rural IL/IA]
-- The Polka-Dot Land, which is really distinctive from above. It's like a Mondrian plus circles (and partial-circles). In growing seasons, it's a variety of crop colors; in winter, it's a weird mix of snowfields and, um, non-snow. [Iowa/Nebraska?]
-- Increasingly crinkly ranches-not-farms, with straight fenceline roads and the occasional wiggly river: it's easily apparent which sides get grazed (brown in summer, trampled snow in winter) and which don't (green in summer, pristine white in winter).
-- Canyonlands, as the crinkly rivers get deeper and deeper
-- Red and black cliffs ringing mesas, as it becomes more hole and less top surface
-- Real Mountains
-- City Stuff again (in the case of LA, City Stuff with mountains INSIDE it, which was really creepy the first time I saw it in daylight).


I saw a small, heavy thunderstorm from the side on one trip It was gorgeous, like a jellyfish: grey puffy cloud above, slanting straight lines of rain below arrowing into the darkness.

#378 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 10:09 AM:

Elliott Mason @377, I too love looking out of plane windows and trying to figure out what is below me. This trip I was flummoxed by something I saw as I descended into Houston -- clearings in the woods with big white rectangles and little white roads leading up to them. All I could think of was concrete pads for houses that never got built, but there were an awful lot of them. (One day I plan to design a quilt around irrigation circles seen from the air.)

#379 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 10:27 AM:

Seeing the Grand Canyon from above is neat.
Same with Yosemite park's El Capitan.

#380 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 11:01 AM:

Carrie S. @ #322:
Can't speak for German or Dutch, but in Swedish you have "juice" (or "jos", if you prefer newspelling), the juice (haha) generated by pressing or centriguging a fruit or berry; "saft", made by simmering water, fruit and (usually) sugar, eventually diluted before serving; and "sap", the liquid that drips from a tree when cut (and left alive).

Lila @ #352:
So "middle" is (essentially) reflexive?

#381 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 11:16 AM:

Marilee@363: One of the roommates had been a mishkid her entire life and looked at us as her family and just took things of ours that she wanted.

... missionary kid? I'm not familiar with the subculture. I guess what I'm asking is, "where is it normal to just raid your siblings' stuff?"

#382 ::: odaiwai ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 11:23 AM:

rams@371, and others following: I spent a while a few years back commuting from Hong Kong to Brisbane and there was a channel on the seat-back TV (On Cathay Pacific[1]) dedicated to the aircraft's current location. It showed a very crude map of the rough flightpath, so you could possibly identify where you were by looking out the window.

I'm sure it wouldn't be all that hard to show some canned Google Earth imagery corresponding to the current location[2], with canned Wikipedia entries on notable things you might be able to see if you could look straight down.

Just once, on that channel, there was live shortwave radio playing. It was the BBC World Service. "Beep. Beep. Beeeeeep. This is London." And then there would be the news from the BBC.

Occasionally, it would get drowned out by the local broadcasts of where we were flying over, so we'd get news from Indonesia, or the Philippines in Bahasa or Tagalog, and as we got closer to Hong Kong, Mandarin and Cantonese took over.

[1] I had a bit of culture shock when I flew another airline[3], and they announced the "movie for tonight" on the single screen in the cabin.

[2] I would hope that airplane knows pretty much exactly where it is at all times, and that letting the entertainment system in on that info should be pretty trivial.

[3] Qantas: bringing all the nuance you expect from Queensland to your flight, ya Pommie bastards.

#383 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 12:12 PM:

Ingvar M @ 380:

Middle is frequently reflexive, but it is not confined to it. Some verbs, for example, do not have an active voice, but the middle voice takes its place (these deponent verbs tend to correspond roughly to Latin deponent verbs which use the passive, or to the French verbs which use être rather than avoir as the stem when forming the passé composé).

#384 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 12:32 PM:

pm215 @335: どう致しましてどういたしまして.

And tell me about it, with the kana reforms. The more I poke at classical Japanese (what can I say, I like the poetry), the more grateful I am that while wa/ha have only been mostly straightened out, I can be reasonably certain that, say, ひ really is hi and not sometimes i.

---L.

#385 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 12:35 PM:

Bruce Cohen (265): Or to drop a cell phone in the street and have it run over.

Paul Duncanson (374): The countdown to the end of the red light would be a killer in the NYC area, too.

#386 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 12:36 PM:

Back in the late-1970s(?), the Quebec govt tried to convince people that, when they go to a MacDonald, they should ask not for a hamburger, but for a hambourgeois.

I'm a humble man. Just give me a sausage prole.

#387 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 12:37 PM:

Sandy B. @ #381: If "mishkid" does indeed mean "missionary kid", I can assure that taking other people's things without permission is hugely non-normative in that culture, as well. Though I can caveat that some parents did seem to teach their kids that "good Christians share!" in a way that lent itself nicely to passive-aggressive co-opting of other people's things. Not just taking without asking, though.

#388 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 12:41 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 385... I've been watching Jim Hutton's "Ellery Queen" and one episode's crucial clue involved New York City's phone nbrs of 1946 having 6 digits.

#389 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 12:51 PM:

Serge (388): That's interesting, but what does it have to do with my #385?

#390 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 12:52 PM:

Mary Aileen, #385: Houston has a lot of intersections where the WALK signal has a seconds-to-go timer on it. As a driver, I find those very useful in deciding whether or not I have time to get thru the intersection safely -- much more useful than a yellow light, the timing of which is distressingly non-uniform. OTOH, it's also true that the driver culture here is notably less aggressive than the one in NYC.

I do see Paul's point, though; there is no way for someone who is red/green colorblind to tell what color that light is.

#391 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 01:00 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 389... A curse on my tendency toward brief comments. You and others were talking about plot devices that may not work anymore in the future, which reminded me of this other bit of storytelling that's now obsolete.

#392 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 02:24 PM:

Xopher @367 -- I own many of those books. Some were intended to be humorous. Some weren't. I dislike listings like that which don't differentiate between the two. There's another lovely one called Legal Daisy Spacing which was intentionally weird, and highly recommended for those who like odd concepts. I can't remember the title of the odd self-published book by one of the creators of the Shoebox division of Hallmark, which had many different types of paper and an amazing sense of humor. Found it at a library sale; it's in one of my boxes somewhere. It got reprinted in a much less interesting format.

#393 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 02:46 PM:

Serge (388): Oh! That makes sense. I was confused because the other half of my comment referenced NYC, so I thought you were responding to that.

Lee (390): There are a few Walk timers like that around here. The one I interact with the most (as a pedestrian) is frustrating because it's a double street, with two sets of lights that go yellow/red at staggered times*, and the countdown is for the wrong half of the street (i.e., not the one that you're actually crossing at the time).

*I'm explaining this very badly, but I don't know how to make it clear to someone who hasn't seen the street.

#394 ::: Abby N ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 03:50 PM:

Lee @390, Mary Aileen @393, re: countdown walk lights. They're becoming quite common in the Boston/Cambridge area. In Cambridge, the walk light countdown hits zero as the parallel traffic light hits red, after a second the walk light for the cross street turns white, then the other traffic light turns green. It's a nicely predictable pattern all along Mass Ave (which is the section I walk regularly). In Boston (at least in the vicinity of BU), on the other hand, the countdown hits zero as the parallel traffic light turns yellow; thus, pedestrians have several seconds more than the countdown would seem to imply. (I cross streets like a Bostonian college student; I'm sorry...)

Ever since I noticed this difference in the timing, I've wondered if Bostonians who come over to our side of the river get flattened by mis-judging the time available to cross...

#395 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 04:30 PM:

I was flying from Boston to Atlanta once and we flew over a baseball stadium (I can't now recall where) just as they were shooting off fireworks. Tiny bead-sized fireworks, seen from above. Just extremely cool.

#396 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 05:03 PM:

Speaking of cool:

Ginormous organ.

Huge lively acoustic space.

650+ singers.

Hallelujah Chorus flashmob.

#397 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 06:01 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft @ 378 ...
Elliott Mason @377, I too love looking out of plane windows and trying to figure out what is below me. This trip I was flummoxed by something I saw as I descended into Houston -- clearings in the woods with big white rectangles and little white roads leading up to them. All I could think of was concrete pads for houses that never got built, but there were an awful lot of them. (One day I plan to design a quilt around irrigation circles seen from the air.)

Depending on the direction you were heading from, you might have been looking at the HP campus

#398 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 06:49 PM:

xeger, the question begs to be asked: Is there an HP Way around that campus?

#399 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 06:51 PM:

Explanation of HP Way pun here.

#400 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 08:29 PM:

xeger @397, hm, no, these were just plain white. Not buildings, as far as I could tell. Even big box stores and warehouses usually have something sticking out of the roof somewhere. Weird.

#401 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 09:36 PM:

They're putting the countdown lights in LA, too.
(It also makes it easier to tell when the light's timing is misadjusted. When you barely have time to cross the street, or when it starts counting down literally one second after turning green, it needs work.)

#402 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 11:09 PM:

I first saw countdown lights in China in 2003. We have them here in Pittsford, NY. Sometimes people pay attention to them.

#403 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 12:05 AM:

Sandy B., #381, yes, her parents were missionaries in Africa her entire life and she didn't have siblings or friends to play with (I don't know why, although she seemed scared of black folk at the college; she was amazingly pale). She apparently could have what she wanted in their house to make up for it, and our room made up for being away from there. It wasn't unusual to come back to the room and be unable to find clothes.

Fade Manley, #387, I didn't say she was normal; my brother's kids aren't like that.

Lee, #390, we have count-down pedestrian lights (white outline and numbers) all over Old Town. When they get to zero, the pedestrians still have the right of way, but the parallel road gets a green. It's good for residents, too, but it helps tourists get around.

#404 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 12:37 AM:

MArilee@403, I've known missionary kids but never lived with them. That kind of sounds like a child with a very deprived and undisciplined background.

Janet @ #400, anyone flying over the Sprint Campus in Kansas City (Actually Overland Park, KS) would see the same thing. A ring road with lots of buildings and parking garages.

Of course, with Spring's current business plan (do not be loyal to any employee, they're all crap and profit impediments), the campus thing is getting pretty emptied of Sprint employees. they're trying to find renters of their buildings.

(They think nothing of going, "well, we can't figure out how to move these 10,000 employees to do something else, let's just dump them.) I have a friend who was an executive assistant that finally told her boss that it was all bullshit (she was the one doing the letter-writing, announcements, etc.), left and actually found a much better job with one of our healthcare groups in KC.

I do not think much of Sprint, for many reasons.

#405 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 01:07 AM:

Linkmeister @ 398 ...
xeger, the question begs to be asked: Is there an HP Way around that campus?

Given that it was the pre-merger Compaq headquarters (iirc), it seems unlikely... ;)

#406 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 05:16 AM:

The coolest thing I ever saw from the air was sunlight reflected from car windshields. We were too high the see the cars, just bright golden jewels on the highway.

Second coolest was the full circle rainbow. I had read about that, so it wasn't a surprise, but still fun to see.

#407 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 07:37 AM:

Stefan@179: I managed to miss Four Kings when it was released in the UK, but from excerpts and reviews I surmise that the protagonists are second generation children of immigrants.

#408 ::: David Hodson ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 08:17 AM:

Bruce H @ 406: On one flight, around midday, above scattered clouds, I was mystified by what seemed to be spotlights shining up through some of the clouds. I eventually decided that it must have been sunlight reflected back from the (very still) surface of some lakes below.

#409 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 08:56 AM:

Paula@404:
My grandparents were missionaries, and I've never noticed any slackness in recognizing boundaries in my father or uncle or aunt.

Also, re lights: Toronto has an increasing number of countdown pedestrian signals. They hit zero just when the car light goes yellow (which stays that way for three seconds, pretty consistently). I've noticed that the effect of introducing them has tended to be to encourage people who walk quickly to start crossing well into the countdown.

#410 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 10:05 AM:

The countdown lights I was complaining about hit zero when the *first* set of the crosslights hits yellow. The relevant time for pedestrians is when the *second* crosslights hit yellow, about ten seconds later. The cross street doesn't get a green until three seconds after the second yellow. So I just ignore the countdown.

#411 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 12:56 PM:

Marilee, #403: That's appalling behavior (and the first time she did it to me would have been the LAST time, one way or another), but it seems to be the result of astoundingly bad parenting more than of her missionary background per se.

#412 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 05:21 PM:

Stefan @ 179 & NelC @ 407: Rather than Four Kings could you mean Four Lions?

If so, four of the five were children of immigrants. Barry wasn't.

#414 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 09:13 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft @378

>> ... as I descended into Houston -- clearings in the woods with big white rectangles and little white roads leading up to them.

Sounds like oil or gas wells to me.

Go to Google Maps, set the address to 30.57, -94.58, set the map type to Satellite, and zoom in till the scale shows 2000 ft/1 km. Is that what you saw?

If you zoom in all the way, you'll see tanks on the edge of each clearing. I don't see any pump jacks, like I do when I look at the same pattern around Midland or Odessa, so they could be gas wells, rather than oil.

#415 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 10:48 PM:

The most interesting sight I've seen from a plane was being able to make out Lake Mendota and Lake Monona in Madison when we were flying from Minneapolis to Florida. The plane went right over Madison, and the lakes could be seen quite clearly. It was amazing.

#416 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 11:38 PM:

Here's a dumb and/or innocent question for people who know about living in cold climates, of whose number I most assuredly am not: do you sleep in warm woolly socks? Why or why not?

#417 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 12:03 AM:

TexAnne @ 416... Not usually.

#418 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 12:06 AM:

I once saw some kind of burning building from an airplane. (I'm pretty sure it was a house, but it could have been some other kind of house-looking building.)

#419 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 12:24 AM:

I remember flying over the Cypress structure a few days after the Loma Prieta quake, and it was really amazing to see it pancaked. I like identifying places I've lived from airplanes, and following the streets that lead to them.

#420 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 12:48 AM:

TexAnne @ 416 ...
Here's a dumb and/or innocent question for people who know about living in cold climates, of whose number I most assuredly am not: do you sleep in warm woolly socks? Why or why not?

"It depends" ;)

When I'm camping, I'll absolutely sleep with socks of some sort on (usually fleece).

At home, I add an extra blanket across my feet, because I absolutely _detest_ wearing socks in bed. They come off, get lost, and then have strange laundry-like effects, where one somehow magically vanishes, only to return as rock-like lumps in the bed at the least reasonable time.

Wearing socks in bed (or discussing such) also seems to cause run-on sentences...

#421 ::: Susie ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 12:50 AM:

TexAnne @ 416: Yes, because I like to keep my feet warm.

#422 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 01:06 AM:

James, #409, my grandparents were missionaries, too, as well as my brother (and eventually his family). My roommate was odd. There were a fair number of mishkids at the college and I didn't know any others like her. I was happy to get the private room the next quarter.

TexAnne, #416, sometimes -- my feet are sometimes too cold for just sticking them under the cats.

#423 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 01:23 AM:

@Janet Brenneman Croft regarding irrigation circle quilting: Here's a lovely musing on the beauty of the landscapes mentioned, along with several photos of different types of circle farms (including one the author referred to as "Bubbles.") Hope that inspires you!

@TexAnne: I've lived in a variety of climates, and the answer is that it depends on how good your insulation is and your heating bill. When I lived in Denver the apartment had some huge windows that were not very well-insulated. I didn't wear wool socks but you can bet that every blanket we owned was on the bed in cold weather. Socks just aren't that comfy.

#424 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 01:35 AM:

TexAnne, #416: Not as a rule unless I was sick. If your heating system is inadequate, or the lack of insulation makes keeping the house at a reasonable temperature too expensive, it might help; my experience is that I can't get to sleep easily if my hands or feet are cold, but an extra blanket is usually a better means to fix that.

#425 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 02:20 AM:

TexAnne, I tend to want my shoulders bundled up but my feet out from under the covers. If it's really cold enough, I'll sometimes wear a pair of fuzzy socks (never actual wool ones, I love the soft velour type), but they do always come off, as mentioned, and I usually find myself kicking them off myself once the bed has warmed up a bit.

When we moved to Illinois when I was a child my mother (a southerner through and through) tried to force me to wear the woolen socks my great aunt would knit for me, and couldn't understand why I hated them so much. Even when my feet are cold, socks aren't the best answer.

Oh! I forgot to mention the best thing I ever brought back from the UK (besides my husband)! A hot water bottle. Much better than wooly (wooley?) socks. I don't know why I wasn't familiar with them, because you'd think they would have taken off in the midwest, but I never saw them used for warming the bed up until I visited my in-laws. And when I brought one back for my friend's daughter, she was excited to have something besides a heating pad to use for upset stomachs, and I explained that she didn't have to wait (or fake) a tummy-ache, but could use it to snuggle whenever the bed was cold.

#426 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 02:20 AM:

Yes, Four Lions.

D'oh! That means I recommended a non-existent movie to my aunt . . .

I suspect I'm mentally scrambling the title with Three Kings, which does exist.

#427 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 02:34 AM:

Stefan: You could have done worse. Three Kings is a damned fine movie, though it has a few less laughs than Four Lions and, given events that have happened since it was made, seems a lot sadder now.

#428 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 04:02 AM:

>> ... do you sleep in warm woolly socks?

Rarely. Unless I'm sick, I produce enough heat that my feet eventually get warm, even if they are cold when I get in bed.

I have used a hot water bottle, but for me it seems more effective to clutch it to my chest than to try keeping it close to me feet. When the core is warm, there is more body heat for the peripherals.

#429 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 04:12 AM:

Serge @311: Fetchez la vache in glorious Legocolor!

TexAnne @416 et al. It depends. I like to walk around the apartment in wool-lined slippers or woolly socks, but tend to wear thinner fleece socks to bed. My foot warmer of choice is a hot water bottle, though.

HLN: Woman flies across the ocean to Virginia, makes whiskey the way George Washington did at Mount Vernon.

#430 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 07:27 AM:

416: ObPratchett...

"Oh, and always wear something in bed. It keeps a man interested."
"You always wore your hat."
"Right."

#431 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 07:41 AM:

TexAnne: Not only do I sleep in my handknit wool socks* in the midst of winter, but I also sleep in my fingerless mitts. My hands and feet get cold easily.

*They don't come off in bed, unlike my cheap commercial cotton ones

#432 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 08:00 AM:

Pendrift #429: Welcome to Virginia! How long are you over here for? Any chance of visiting Charlottesville?✦ (Google sez ~2.5 hours' drive from Mount Vernon.)

✦ ObPitch: 100,000 used books. 4th (NE) & Market streets. Explore the labyrinth!

#433 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 08:27 AM:

David @ 432: Alas, I am back in Brussels already. I was there for six full days (plus travel time), most of it spent inside the distillery, where I tended Elizabeth I, the main spirits still.

One of the best parts about the stint (and there were plenty) was discovering I had a knack for spirits-making; it seems my palate is more sensitive than most, and I could detect the proper points at which to make cuts in the stream of whiskey being produced so that the bad stuff wouldn't get mixed in with the good.

#434 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 08:48 AM:

TexAnne @ #416, this isn't a cold climate (nights below freezing, but only rarely into teens or single digits), but I'll answer anyway. I go to bed wearing fuzzy socks, but they get uncomfortable before my feet are completely warm, and I shuck them off in bed. I am usually awake enough to drop them on the floor but sometimes I find abandoned socks when I change the sheets.

#435 ::: E. Liddell ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 09:35 AM:

TexAnne @416: I find that if my feet are cold in the night, it's usually an indication that the rest of me isn't quite warm enough either, so an electric blanket is a better remedy than socks (enough conventional blankets would do as well, I suppose, but on one of those nights when the outside temperature is below -40 and the thermostat inside is insufficiently reactive, the resulting layer would be thicker than the mattress).

#436 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 10:55 AM:

TexAnne -- although I have a tendency for cold feet and can't sleep without socks even in the summer, I don't wear my handknit wool socks to bed. At some point, I do manage to warm up, and then I'd be *too* warm. Hot water bottles are great.

On the off chance that you're considering knitting socks for a Giftmas present, I'll point out that I've seen really pretty handknit hot water bottle covers.

#437 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 10:55 AM:

Julie L @275 (belatedly)
WRT desu, I'm pretty sure I've seen/heard replacement by de aru or de arimasu in formal written contexts, or spoken narration that's meant to consciously evoke a literary style.

The word on the street is that "desu" is a really mouth-mushy contraction for "de gozaimasu" [Which seems ridiculous, until you get used to the fact that Japanese people are amazingly lazy with their mouths. "Ohayo Gozaimasu" (good morning) was compressed to "osu" a hundred years ago or so in some subcultures.] Anyway, gozaimasu is more or less the same thing as one of the 3 possible meanings of 'aru'/'arimasu' ("the copula" (syntactic widget like "to be" but not really the same), existence, possession) So, saying that "desu" is sometimes replaced with "de arimasu" is accurate, and for a good reason.

Using 'de aru' instead of the modern copula (da/desu) makes you sound like a newspaper or an encyclopedia. (authoritative, neutral, impersonal, possibly some other connotations I'm unaware of)
(de gozaru is a deprecated usage, and thus makes thou sound like thee art affecting an olden style of speech (especially a samurai (or ninja), in exactly the same way 'thee' is used by people who want to sound like a medieval knight). Yet the more polite form 'de gozaimasu' is used in a class of exceptional politeness that I can't actually navigate (yet))

To break the topic of Japanese grammar, and bring up the topic of Japanese semantics... it's often said that Japanese doesn't actually have swear words. The way that Japanese people express contempt is actually syntactic! At lesser levels of frustration or in the case of more refined situations, decreasingly clear enunciation is another substitute for using foul language.
There are, mind you, words that are not suitable for TV broadcast. The only ones that I know are unrefined terms for body-parts. As a side effect of the reduced vigilance regarding specific words, they allow the full suite of English vulgarity to be broadcast unaltered. Which has the side-effect of making thousands of elementary and junior high school kids who use the F-word either unthinkingly, out of curiosity, or as a way to make their foreign assistant teachers react...

#438 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 10:59 AM:

I'm a NaNoWriMo winner again--50,000 words in the month of November. There was a bit of a problem with a Wordcount bug in OpenOffice. Don't use Custom Quotes.

It's the usual airplane-crazy furry alternate history. but the Zeppelin is real enough.

There were Zeppelins prowling over London that night, and Carol Wilson, twelve years old and definitely a pretty little vixen, was in the middle of a large patch of open ground, the "playing field" for the Barnardo's Home, looking up into the night sky. There were the ghostly finger of searchlights sweeping the sky, and she could hear the distant noise of engines, throbbing slightly. It would be her birthday next month, as near as anything could be a birthday for a girl found by a dockside as a near new-born, by the bloody corpse of a woman who had never borne a child. And soon she would be working, likely in one of the munitions factories. She shivered, not that this was a cold night.

Oh, Barnardo's had done a good job, and she knew how to behave and what the world expected of her, and she was educated. She could read and write, and sang well, and even could dance, not that she wanted to work in a dance-hall. Even a munitions factory would be better than that.

She grinned. The searchlights had found a Zeppelin, and the guns were firing. She rather thought that just flying, at night, needed some courage, but she read the papers, and knew what the Zeppelins did when they dropped their bombs, Even if they were trying to hit the factories, it was just a wild scatter. She watched it, and the tiny little flashes as the shells burst, and wondered why they seemed always to be high, or low, and always trailing the Zeppelin. Couldn't they shoot straight?

But there was something moving, a tiny speck, and she knew it wasn't a night-bird briefly silhouetted against the dust-scattered light of the searchlight beams. It moved wrongly for that, and kept pace with the Zeppelin, and then she lost sight of it. A 'plane? How could you even see enough to fly a 'plane at night? A Zeppelin was just hanging, it wouldn't fall over like a 'plane might. And what could a 'plane carry that could hurt something that big?

Carol didn't know about the incendiary bullets that the Flying Corps used. She was too far away to track the 'plane or see the tracer bullets. But she saw the sudden red glow as the fire started under the airship's tail, and she stood and cheered and whooped, like thousands of other Londoners, as the airship fell blazing from the sky.

#439 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 11:19 AM:

Scott #437 - I believe that desu = de gozaimasu rather than de arimasu is the word on the street, but it still puzzles me. For one thing, I was taught to make the negative of desu (when, say, you need to politely assert that not that is not a pen) with de arimasen, rather than de gozaimasen.

---L.

#440 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 11:21 AM:

I recommend electric mattress pads over electric blankets. They are way more efficient: the heat doesn't escape upwards into the air; it's trapped by your quilt/comforter/blanket.

On very cold evenings, such as we've been having lately in the Bay Area, I read or watch TV with an electric heating pad on my lap. Keeps the core warm, yes, and it's not as heavy as the cat...

#441 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 11:35 AM:

Lizzy L @ 440... it's not as heavy as the cat

A couple of nights ago, I woke up finding Agatha the Cat Genius sleeping across my neck. Luckily she's quite dainty.

#442 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 12:12 PM:

Thank you for your comments, everybody! Last night got down to 18, and I was quite happy with my hot water bottle, my warm woolly socks, my several layers of blankets and comforters, and oh yes, my cat.

#443 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 12:33 PM:

TexAnne, your setup last night exactly mirrored mine, except my socks were ordinary cotton. Also, I've got the winter flannel sheets on the bed. Yay, flannel sheets!

#444 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 12:35 PM:

Rikibeth, my sheets are flannel too. PURPLE flannel.

#445 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 12:51 PM:

Bruce H. @414, yes, that's what I was seeing! I guess the big cleared spaces must be for tankers to pull in and load the oil or gas, then.

B. Durbin @423, thanks -- that looks worthy of a long loving read.

TexAnne @416, usually turning on the electric blanket 15 minutes before bed is enough and I don't even need it all night, but just in case, I do keep a pair of red fuzzy socks in my nightstand. If my feet get real cold they cramp, and then I have to hop out of bed to stretch them out, and that's no fun when it's cold.

#446 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 12:52 PM:

Oooh, purple! Mine are ivory with lace-embroidered edges. They pair nicely with the burgundy-velvet-and-dark-brocade comforter.

#447 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 01:09 PM:

I remember a while back there was a genre writer who supported themselves by chapter subscriptions while writing a book. Does anyone know who I'm thinking of?

#448 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 01:14 PM:

EClaire, #425, I'm exactly the opposite: I need my feet warm and usually have my shoulders out of the covers.

TexAnne, #444, I don't like flannel, but I always have sheets with purple and green. On the bed now is lilacs on cream. I have lavender walls and used to have dark green carpet, now laminate, but still a lot of dark green accents. I like purple a lot. Today I'm wearing a purple mock turtleneck, purple pants, and a bright red quilted sweater over.

#449 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 01:18 PM:

Earl Cooley III, #447, Lawrence Watt Evans does chapter subscriptions, but he doesn't exactly support himself with them.

#450 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 02:13 PM:

Isn't there a gender/social status differentiation in Japanese as to the words for 'please' and 'thank you'? Or has that died out?

#451 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 02:20 PM:

Parody commercial for Bronte Sisters Action Hero Figures. Very cute!

#452 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 02:24 PM:

So the nine year old (boy) was talking about some amusing part of a video on YouTube, and mentioned that one character "ran away like a scared little girl."

Then he paused thoughtfully. "Not that little girls are necessarily easily scared." Pause. "Or girls at all, really." Pause. "I mean, look at Samus*. She goes up against all kinds of deadly aliens, and she's all alone." Pause. "Maybe [character] ran away like something else scared."

I swear, I didn't even look at him in an admonishing fashion. This was his unprompted thought process.

I'm so proud of him.

-----
* the protagonist of the Metroid series of video games

#453 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 02:27 PM:

TexAnne@416: I've very occasionally worn cotton socks to bed, when I was sick. (Waterbed, so it's heated.) I essentially never wear wool socks anywhere, though I do own two pair currently.

I grew up with electric blankets, and bought myself a waterbed quite early when I left home, so in bed is the last place I worry about being too cold.

#454 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 02:34 PM:

re this particle: TT is behind the times. Think "guaranteed student loans", and be very afraid.

#455 ::: pm215 ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 03:08 PM:

L.N. Hammer@439: I guess it's just an accident of history that 'desu' and 'de(wa)arimasen' came down different etymological paths to become the usual polite-form pair for the copula. In some alternate universe 'degozaimasen' might have been abbreviated too and we'd have *desen or something for the negative of 'desu'. In this universe, that slot's empty, so 'de(wa)arimasen' is doing that job in addition to being negative-of-'de arimasu'.

#456 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 03:51 PM:

Hot water bottle for me every time. Preferably in a furry cover so that it's a comfortable temperature all night. I have poor circulation, and without something to pre-warm that bit of the bed, my feet will simply get colder and colder in a positive feedback loop, and I won't be able to sleep.

On a particularly cold night (like tonight), it's one bottle for the feet, and another to clutch to my chest.

#457 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 04:09 PM:

Scott @437: To break the topic of Japanese grammar, and bring up the topic of Japanese semantics... it's often said that Japanese doesn't actually have swear words. The way that Japanese people express contempt is actually syntactic! At lesser levels of frustration or in the case of more refined situations, decreasingly clear enunciation is another substitute for using foul language.

I had the impression that there were two slightly different versions of this--

1.) A "tough guy" vocabulary/accent with yakuza-style rolled Rs, slurred pronunciation (esp. for -i adjectives: sugoi -> sugee, urusai -> ussee), and generally arrogant/rude pronouns and verb forms; the last of which partially overlap with

2.) Selectively deploying deprecatory vocabulary for specific people/situations, e.g. the kisama and temae (-> temee) 2nd-person pronouns and the -yagaru contempt suffix.

tykewriter @450: Isn't there a gender/social status differentiation in Japanese as to the words for 'please' and 'thank you'? Or has that died out?

*runs and hides* Someone else better tackle this one. I know barely enough to know that I don't know very much about these :b

There are lots of ways to say please/thanks, depending on the social context. The common arigatou ~"thank you" is an implicitly shortened version of arigatou gozaimasu because of the adjective form (which would normally be arigatai; gozaimasu mutates -i conjugatable adjectives). Sumimasen can express either gratitude or apology. Both of those could also have their formality level tweaked downward; I think I have seen/heard sumanai, but not arigatai desu.

The most routine "please" is probably via tacking kudasai onto the end of a request. A lot of Japanese prohibitory signage ends with [verb stem]-naide kudasai ("please don't [verb]"). The base verb kudasaru belongs to the tangle of specialized "give/receive; do a favor for" vocab that I can't keep straight-- they're all agent/object-dependent, i.e., whether the active party is the speaker, addressee, or neither, cross-referenced against the recipient of the action and their relative social ranks.

Woolly socks は, I tend to wear them to bed in all seasons; I also have a small auxiliary blanket to spread out from the waist down. My legs and feet always feel too cold otherwise.

#458 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 04:45 PM:

abi @ 452... I wonder if his being a fan of the Girl Genius contributed to his re-thinking his own assertions. Probably not that much. Having the parents he has is a much more likely cause.

#459 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 04:57 PM:

I have come to the conclusion that I don't experience time the way most people do.

This is in reaction to yet another person (my sister) saying, "Don't blink; they'll [the kids] be grown up before you know it." People are always saying that, and always saying that "it feels like yesterday" when referring to events of some time ago.

And... you know, it doesn't feel that way to me. Sure, I remember the events in question clearly— I remember most things pretty clearly— but I also remember the intervening events pretty clearly, and have a definite sense of time plodding along (though in a much less boring fashion than "plodding" implies.)

Maybe it's because I'm paying attention? I don't know, it's not a shock to me when kids grow up, and it's not a shock to me that my older child is 2.5 (almost feels like three years, honestly.) And if I try to explain this, people look at me like "You poor deluded fool," because they misunderstand my protest. I get the whole carpe diem bit. But... it just doesn't feel like that to me...

#460 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 05:36 PM:

B Durbin @ 559:

IME life feels more and more as if it's racing along the longer you've been around. My kids took a long time to grow up until suddenly they're both in their 30's. I can remember all the stuff in between, but still, it seemed like their teens went on forever, and were just last week.

#461 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 06:11 PM:

abi @ 452: Wow.

TexAnne: not wolly socks, because I find wool scratchy. Cotton socks, sometimes - usually kicked off when half-asleep and found in the laundry, like other people have mentioned. Occasionally loop-inside socks over the cotton ones if staying somewhere really cold. And now I'm thinking about it, tonight would be a good night to try out my new furry-covered hot water bottle.

Our cat has learned to burrow in between the two duvets (we have two on the bed in winter) on cold days, to stay warm when the humans are not staying still enough for her to sleep on a warm lap (we don't have the house very warm; can't insulate the walls (solid brick) and the gas bills are high enough already).

#462 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 06:40 PM:

Earl Cooley III @447: First thing that came to mind was Cat Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.

#463 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 07:05 PM:

Hyperlocal Thanksgiving:

The Black Vultures (Coragyps atratus) too, of Honk County on the Eastern Shore, got their Thanksgiving feasting on. On our way to Annapolis for dinner I counted 5 dead deer, one of which had at least four of the local Black Vultures gleefully performing their environmental niche duties.

As I heard the Fish and Wildlife fellows say about ten days ago, "The major part of our job for now is removing dead deer from roads and highways. It's deer mating season and they've got no brains."

Lots of other, smaller road kill too. This is a rural county.

I'm wondering about venison for Christmas.

Deer hunting season started either Wednesday or Thanksgiving.

Love, C.

#464 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 07:17 PM:

Has anybody in Europe seen the French movie "Les Aventures Extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-sec"? Is it any good, whether or not one has read Jacques Tardy's grapic novels from which the movie was adapted? It should be fun, being about a lady novelist in 1911's Paris who has to deal with suitors, cops, monsters, and other distractions.

#465 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 07:32 PM:

Serge @464, I am ever so eagerly waiting for that one. The previews looked fantastic.

#466 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 08:20 PM:

(I spent a week or two pursuing other things, and I'm catching up with ML now. I'll try not to overpost-and-a-half here.)

Lydy Nickerson@897, starting work as a polysomnograph technician - Yay! Not just that you've got a job, but as somebody who did the sleeping half of "Some Must Watch While Some Must Sleep" earlier this year, and has since been playing with CPAP machines and various random meds, I really appreciate having people around doing your job!

TexAnne@163 favorite bagel recipe - My absolute favorite bagel recipe was to have a local real-bagel shop, and find that they made bagels in the evening for next morning's delivery, so that when we went to the el-cheapo movie theater on Sunday nights we would first stop and get fresh hot bagels. It's kind of like getting Krispy Kreme glazed donuts hot, except that when those cool down they're poor imitations of the real thing, while these were real stuff.

Several people "Full Moon" - Better see it now, because next month it's going to disappear.

Lee@46 "mañana" - There's some Irish author who said that the Irish word "tomorrow" is sort of like "mañana", except that it doesn't carry the same terrible sense of urgency. I also remember once reading somebody, probably Parkinson, talking about the pre-Mao Chinese bureaucracy having an expression that they'd do something in three days. It meant that they weren't going to do it today, or tomorrow, or the day after that, and that while they were too polite to actually tell you No, you'd benefit from buying yourself a clue.

Serge@173 typewriters in the prehistoric days not having accent marks - My mother's manual typewriter, which I grew up with, had accent marks, and c-with-cedilla, and ñ. On the other hand, she was a French major in college, and had been born near Paris where her parents were studying, before coming back to the US where they both taught French. There were also language books around the house; when she'd worked for spies\\\\\the defense department during the Korean war, she'd been translating Korean as learned on the job, and studied a bit of Chinese and Greek as well. The French was the only one she actually kept up with, plus a bit of Spanish for travel, but she seldom got a chance to speak it with anybody at home and I only picked up a bit from elementary school and random exposure.


#467 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 09:16 PM:

Tom Clancy, of all people, has an IRA/ULA character in his Patriot Games say "Insh'Allah," a Latin colleague had once told him, "meant the same thing as manana -- but without the urgency." The phrase seems to be universally used to denigrate cultures which don't do things at the speed one wishes them to do them.

#468 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 09:18 PM:

Bill Stewart @ 466... I had a typewriter with accents and other squiggles, what with my growing up in Québec City. When I left though, typewriters and computers in the anglophone world had no such possibilities because, well, they didn't need them. One gets used to figuring out the correct words from the context, but it feels weird leaving them out when writing.

#469 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 09:41 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft @ 465... It does, doesn't it? I pretty much expect I'll have to get the European DVD otherwise I'll never see it.

#470 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 11:13 PM:

Giving Thanks a day late that the lump on my dog's elbow is only a lipoma.

Mmmmm, dog fat!

* * *

The released-at-a-bad-time thriller Unstoppable is modest but quite enjoyable. Working stiff railway men race, literally, to stop a runaway freight train full of toxic badness. Very nicely paced, filmed in wonderfully gritty Pennsylvania industrialscapes, and it quickly establishes through cinematography that rolling stock is way dangerous to be around.

#471 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 11:24 PM:

I made an impulse buy of YET ANOTHER VERSION of Fritz Lang's _Metropolis_ at Costco the other day.

This is the third version I've bought in the last five years or so. There was a cleaned-up print made by picking and choosing from the best negatives on hand (Kino Mk. 1), and then a probably-illegal recreation of the rocking' 1984 Giorgio Moroder version made by a guy in New Zealand.

This latest version is probably as complete as will every by made; a 16mm print of the uncut original was found in a vault in Buenos Airies, and there was enough usable footage to add 25 minutes over never-seen-since-1926 scenes. The new stuff is really grainy and scratched, but holds together.

The best new scene is kind of funny. Grigory, AKA worker 11811, switches clothes with Freder and rides off in Freder's limo with instructions to go meet Josofat, Jon Frederson's disgraced flunky. While stuck in traffic he sees a rich woman putting on her makeup in the next car. Then a guy standing in the girders above the roadway starts tossing about bundles of flyers for Yoshiwara's, the high-end nightclub. Grigory goes D'OH! and diverts the limo to the place for a night of debauchery.

Most of the scenes are of the activities of Slim (The Thin Man), Frederson's investigator, who is supposed to keep track of Freder but ends up harassing Grigory and Josafat. There are a few scenes of Metropolis street level - - - nothing too detailed --- and a scene where we learn that Rotwang is really loopy. He apparently got that robot hand while doing his research on the Machine Man. Freder's hallucinations include Slim dressed up as a monk and reading from the Book of Revelations while looming over the foot of his bed. And finally, there's some more to the flight from the fleeing worker's city (the stairway the kids escape up is initially blocked), and the workers' persuit of Maria.

I don't know it if was worth $24 to see the extra scenes, but the Blu-Ray print is very, very nice.

#472 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 11:47 PM:

The proper configuration of blankets does much for foot warmth. Blankets may not be too tight at the foot, lest the foot feel as if it's being bent under them. If coldness is too severe, break out the electric foot warmer that goes under the bottom sheet. Be aware it may feel too damn hot by morning.

#473 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 12:10 AM:

Kip @ 472: We actually have a twin comforter sideways across the foot of the bed. It keeps the feet warm without being tucked in at all, because it's got a decent overhang. Mind you, if it gets too far to one side, gravity may take over, leaving somebody cold, but that's when you pull it up again.

And on the overhang note, why is it that we have to buy a king size blanket to cover our queen bed without having air get in the sides? It's as though blanket manufacturers don't realize there will be people on the bed, pulling up the sides, when they design the size requirements.

#474 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 01:00 AM:

473
I think they've been making them smaller. (Why should I need extra-long sheets, just to tuck them in?)

#475 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 03:47 AM:

The comments on the recent full moon minded me of filk lyrics I wrote some years back:

Lunar Reflections

The moon's no gentle lady, nor beautiful balloon,
But the harshest desert ever a human foot has trod;
A freezing, burning wasteland, dust-scattered, rubble-strewn,
Our planet's stillborn sister, seeming half-forgot by God.

No place to watch an Earthrise, for one face to Earth is locked.
This is no ghostly galleon, but a spinning rock, bone-dry.
Yet this orb, drab and barren, rill-furrowed, crater-pocked,
Is a mirror, a mirror, a mirror in the sky,

Reflecting sunlight's glory, and making of that light
A softer glow that human eyes can bear,
Reflecting dreams of other worlds we spin out in the night,
Bringing dreams within our reach, if we but dare.

So dreamers, sing your visions; I will listen till the end.
Though your dreams are mist and moonshine,there is truth within the lie:
We follow where dreams lead us, and our future may depend
On what we see reflected in that mirror in the sky.

#476 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 10:20 AM:

Anne Sheller @ 475... Thanks for posting your poem.

#477 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 11:06 AM:

B. Durbin @473, only the bottom sheet goes all the way across the bed. We realized early on that we had two entirely different ideas of how a bed should be made up, so we each have our own set of covers. This seems to eliminate pulling covers off, leaving only the problem of covers on one's own side that shouldn't be there. Every time we stay in a hotel where there's a single top sheet and a comforter, I'm reminded of the wisdom of our method.

#478 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 11:08 AM:

Anne Sheller: appreciated.

#479 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 12:28 PM:

abi@452: You do seem to be doing something right there! (And he still picked up the initial phrase from "society"; but at least he heard what he'd said and found it questionable.)

#480 ::: somebody else ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 01:04 PM:

I wonder whether the artist behind the Funky NoKo particle in PNH's list was aware that making fascists dance has a long history.

Here is a British clip from the early 40s in which Nazi propaganda footage (mostly from "Triumph des Willens") is set to the popular dance tune "the Lambeth Walk", for the purpose of mocking fascist high seriousness.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYJ5F8ctyus&feature=related

#481 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 01:24 PM:

Stefan @426 and Paul @427, yeah, when I first heard of Four Kings, having seen Three Kings when it was in the theaters, I immediately ran to the IMBD to see if there was a movie called Two Kings, and there was. As well as any number of movies called King. No "Five Kings", though. (It could be about someone who cheats at poker.)

#482 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 01:41 PM:

Patrick's sidebar item about NDM1 antibiotic resistance ... It's absolutely 100% genuine, not an over-sensationalized journalist but a clinical epidemiologist delivering the news, and it's very scary indeed.

(This is especially on my mind right now, because my mother has (a) a persistent leg ulcer, (b) is MRSA-positive, and (c) lives in the UK in a city with a significant population travel to and from India and Pakistan, i.e. she's about as exposed to it as it's possible to be without having a target pasted on her forehead.)

Antibiotic abuse-wise we are so hosed ... unless we see significant investment in new antimicrobial strategies and manage to keep them under tight lock and key (not feeding them to cattle as a prophylactic!) we're going to be back to the pre-1939 era, when maybe 30% of us could expect to die of fulminating sepsis, tuberculosis, or other infections.

(And in case you thought TB was a done deal, there's XDR-TB (Wikipedia), a sufficiently hideous threat that the World Health Organization feels it useful to recommend mandatory involuntary hospitalization for patients who don't want to comply with treatment .... oh, and the BCG vaccine you got as a child? Doesn't protect against it.)

#483 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 02:08 PM:

"Sufficiently hideous" is a very apt description of the antibiotic resistance situation. I don't think we're going to get a revolutionary new generation of remedies by merely appealing to the greed of Big Pharma, either. I was about to say "altruism" instead of "greed" but the word stuck in my craw.

#484 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 03:20 PM:

On Patrick-from-the-alternate-universe's particle about Texas cops having no real crime to deal with, La Migra alleged that they had smelled marijuana when the bus was stopped at one of their checkpoints. During a previous incident, Jay Leno said that the (Louisiana?) cops had suspected there was marijuana on the bus because it said "Willie Nelson" in big letters on the side.

#485 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 03:41 PM:

Bruce H.@406, full circle rainbow seen from a plane - I've seen that once, and it was amazing. If you're flying between the Hawaiian islands and don't like big airplanes, you can usually pay less and take the little commuter ones, which are typically 12-seater Cessnas that don't fly very high, so you're in or below the clouds, which is a good height for that.

I've also driven to the end of the rainbow once, with a near-full-circle rainbow. I was headed "south" on 101 in Redwood City, which is really mostly east, around 6pm on a partly-rainy day. The rainbow had a gap at the top, but came down to my windshield on one side and driver's window on the other. There was no pot of gold (the 90s Internet boom was over), and the one leprechaun I knew in the area was out of town, but it was still cool.

#486 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 03:51 PM:

It's frequently possible to see a full circle rainbow from a plane: look at the plane's shadow on a cloud. It's frequently a double, and occasionally a triple rainbow. Technically, yes, it's a glory (and it's easy to understand why it's called that).

#487 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 04:10 PM:

Further clarification on the thing with the 9 year old: two or three years ago, he was reading his Nintendo Magazine aloud to me, and came to the phrase "hits like a girl".

This magazine is full of opprobrium expressed in sexist terms. But it's otherwise right up his alley, so I figured the solution to offensive speech was more speech.

I stopped him and asked him what that phrase meant. He thought about it, and suggested that it meant not to hit very well. I pointed out that I was a fully accredited girl, and offered to hit him so he could judge whether this was an accurate figure of speech.

He declined, and we had a pretty basic conversation about stereotypes, sexism, and clichés. Then we got into what that kind of comment said about whether girls belonged in gaming, and whether he wanted to live in the world that it created. The conversation woke him up, and it's an aspect to the world that he couldn't unsee even if he wanted to.

He thinks a lot about what he reads, and indeed about all of the inputs to the world between his ears. He doesn't shun sexist inputs, but he is alive to their weaknesses as well as their strengths. With luck, he'll grow up to be as passionately and deeply feminist as his father, who is the most un-sexist man I've ever met. It's certainly looking promising right now.

#488 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 04:22 PM:

Serge @458:

I think his Girl Genius fandom is separate from his thinking on sexism, though the fact that he's happy to identify with a female protagonist is a good thing.

(On a related note, I found him reading Atomic Robo the other day.)

#489 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 04:41 PM:

abi @ 488... I found him reading Atomic Robo the other day

Obviously a young man of good taste.
Not that we didn't already know that, mind you.

#490 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 05:29 PM:

Charlie Stross@482:

Yes, NDM1 is very scary. Perhaps just as bad is the recent increase in pencillin-resistant Strep. pneumoniae -- pneumococcal pneumonia was described as 'the captain of the men of death' back before antibiotics.

Things are actually looking a little better for TB than they have for a while -- there are some quite promising new drugs in clinical testing, if XDR TB can be contained for a little longer. The diarylquinoline TMC207 has no cross-resistance with existing drugs, can be used in combination with them, and appears to be at least as potent as anything we've had before. There's several other drugs in clinical testing as well, and while this includes some fluroquinolones that don't work for XDR-TB it's still probably more than there has even been in the past.

#491 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 06:27 PM:

Yep, sounds like Pestilence is back from retirement!

#492 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 06:41 PM:

In some ways, the most destructive drug problem out of Mexico is impulsive use of over-the-counter antibiotics.

#493 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 07:52 PM:

Constance, #463, Virginia's governor has gotten "taxes" from a couple of Native American tribes pretty much since there was a governor here. But up until now, the deer and rabbits and so forth went to homeless shelters. This year, the Republican governor and family are going to eat them.

Hamster Gargoyle along with others from the National Cathedral.

#494 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 07:58 PM:

Many, many years back, I saw a 360 degree rainbow ahead of a fishing boat I was a passenger on, sailing away from the sun.
Some years later I was on a plane heading south and just after sunset I noticed what seemed to be a wall of darkness in the east, and it wasn't clouds since the sky was clear. I concluded then that it was the literal edge of night--that the division tween daylight and darkness was likely more abrupt at the high altitude.
--Recently visited a neighbor and his sister who share an apartment. Neighbor, a not-real-intellectual type, was playing some sort of game and not having the best of luck with it; at one point he said "This game is *gay*!" and I said "So how come YOU'RE playing it??" and he about choked on his tongue and his sister was on the floor laughing...
Socks in bed? Yes, during the colder half of the year.

#495 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 08:41 PM:

HLN: Area resident discovers that Bailey's Irish Cream can curdle. In related news, the same researcher finds Welch's Apple/Grape/Cherry punch contains more (added) citric acid than it does "cherry juice concentrate".

#496 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 09:40 PM:

HLN: Woman returns home from visiting parental units with son, is inundated with cats, and has a date for tomorrow afternoon. Not all are related.

#497 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 11:40 PM:

David Harmon @495: Bailey's Irish Cottage Cheese??

#498 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 12:09 AM:

Hyperlocal news: The day after Thanksgiving proves to be a bad one on which to start growing a sourdough starter. 2 cups flour and 2 cups water requires a larger bowl than will fit in one's fridge amongst the leftovers.

#499 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 01:32 AM:

Hyperlocal News: In the wake of a multi-occurence bout of gastric distress on the part of their daughter, local inhabitants have an ideal chance to compare the relative disgustingness of cornbread and raisins, in their slightly-used forms. One resident has no strong opinion; the other is firmly in the "raisins are grosser" camp.

Linkmeister @498 spoke on sourdough starter.

I have occasionally considered trying this. Does anyone have links talking about it that they think are good? I could just google, but that gives results of hugely varied quality on subjects like this.Hyperlocal News: In the wake of a multi-occurence bout of gastric distress on the part of their daughter, local inhabitants have an ideal chance to compare the relative disgustingness of cornbread and raisins, in their slightly-used forms. One resident has no strong opinion; the other is firmly in the "raisins are grosser" camp.

Linkmeister @498 spoke on sourdough starter.

I have occasionally considered trying this. Does anyone have links talking about it that they think are good? I could just google, but that gives results of hugely varied quality on subjects like this.

#500 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 01:33 AM:

Argh for the new and exciting form of doublepost ...

#501 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 01:37 AM:

In #481 Avram writes:

when I first heard of Four Kings, having seen Three Kings when it was in the theaters, I immediately ran to the IMBD to see if there was a movie called Two Kings, and there was. As well as any number of movies called King. No "Five Kings", though. (

We saw Harry Potter and the Something Something (Part I) the other night. We were treated to a trailer for The Green Hornet, followed immediately by a trailer for Green Lantern. Too bad double features are a thing of the past.

Makes me wonder what other Green movies are in the works. Green Kings, perhaps.

(Also, at a certain point during the subsequent feature, Harry was following a greenish light through a snowy forest, so I began to wonder if it was a signal from the Green Lantern or maybe the Green Hornet.)

#502 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 04:21 AM:

Xopher's @367 just reminded me (don't ask me why) of a business sign I saw on the way to drop off recycling: Low Flying Knobs.

What do you suppose they do?

Oh. Google knows. (Heh. I probably heard that. Half a block from where I work.)

#503 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 04:38 AM:

Lila @396: Woo! All-over goosebumps. Wow, what it must have been like to actually be there....

#504 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 05:16 AM:

Katie and I were visiting her parents for Thanksgiving, and I got tapped to make a dessert. So I decided to try out Schadenfreude Pie. The making thereof was complicated by brother-in-law having obtained dark brown sugar that had caked up into lumps that were AS HARD AS ROCKS. I microwaved them to soften them, and put them in a plastic bag and hit them with a knife handle, but there were still ones I couldn't get. So I was stuck at step two for a while, stirring the molasses/corn syrup/brown sugar until the sugar dissolved into the mixture -- took something like an hour.

I tried to speed up the mixing process by lecturing the brown sugar about thermodynamics. "Brown sugar: your dissolution into this mixture is entropically favorable. Dee-ess over dee-tee is greater than zero, dammit."

Anyway, the pie was pretty tasty, if not as chocolate-flavored as I was expecting.

#505 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 06:10 AM:

L.N. Hammer @439:

I don't really know the whole story, but I'm going to wave my hands like this:
When 'de gozaimasu' was compressed to 'desu', 'desu' was very polite. More polite than 'de arimasu'. Now, however, 'de arimasu' has a different tone than 'desu' and 'desu' has become equivalently polite to 'de arimasu'. So, teaching 'de gozaimasen' as the negative of 'desu' would cause a politeness-level jump.
Additionally, because of the amount of semantic work that needs to be done during negative copula sentences, 'de(ha) arimasen' did not take up the tonal difference that the semantically unnecessary (but syntactically completist) 'de arimasu' did. So 'de arimasu' fell out of conversational use though 'de arimasen' didn't. And 'de(ha) arimasen' is the appropriate standard-level-of-politeness way to express a negative copula sentence, and 'desu' is now only standard-level-of-politeness despite (supposedly) being derived from an elevated-level-of-politeness. If that sounds confusing and improbable... it's probably because it's confusing and improbable, but possibly just because I'm missing some link in the chain, or am inept at explaining things.

I should remind you that this is not from linguistically rigorous sources. (Though, there may be linguistically rigorous discussions of this topic, I've never participated in, or witnessed (or even looked for) one).

Julie L @457:
Re: vulgarity. Those are ways that people are rude to each other (in person or in the 3rd person) but it feels different from having expletives. I mean... look at the 2nd person pronouns that they use for being rude, "kisama" which means more or less, "your highness" and "temae" which is actually strange way to refer to oneself (the person standing in front of the listener). In context and such, they're easily understood... but that's rather different than referring to a person as if they were only their anus, or comparing them to a dirty animal (or famously in German, 2, simultaneously)
There is "chikishou" but it's in some ways less strong than a (self?) derisive 'shitauchi' (the Japanese style of 'tsk')

re. Gendering: Japanese is still a speaker-gendered language. Though it's breaking down slowly. As more and more little girls grow up watching Bleach and Naruto, more and more of them grow up wanting to sound confident and demanding, (as opposed to, for example: deferential and refined). But, the gender recognition is still definitely present. It's still an affectation among homosexual males to use stereotypically female language (as in English, some use "sweetie" or "honey" in a way that's considered effeminate). There are many more differences than "please" & "thank you".
In casual, male speech, please will be ~kure. e.g. "shoyu o totte kure"
Casual female speech, ~kureru e.g. "shoyu o totte kureru"
It's not uncommon or bizarre for a man to use 'kureru' because it's less of a demand than ~kure, but it is abnormal (not necessarily a problem, or an issue, or even something that will draw attention or comment) for a woman to use 'kure'

There are similar sorts of usage difference for the elderly vs. the not-so-elderly. And I've wondered for a while now, what makes Japanese people decide, "I think it's time for me to start talking like my grampa did." It might be as simple as it expressing the feeling of talking to one's grandchildren, but I don't actually know.

#506 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 08:06 AM:

Ginger @ 496... It was raining cats but not dogs?

#507 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 08:09 AM:

David Harmon @ 491... sounds like Pestilence is back from retirement

I was Famine, in the Masquerade of 1984's worldcon in LA.

#508 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 08:13 AM:

Bill Higgins @ 501... I wish someone would film Green Arrow.

#509 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 08:37 AM:

Serge @506: The dogs came along for the ride to Grandma's house; the cats had some peace and quiet at home. Besides, dogs show their Happee-ness by jumping up on me; cats show theirs by sitting on me.

#510 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 09:58 AM:

Scott@505: I've wondered for a while now, what makes Japanese people decide, "I think it's time for me to start talking like my grampa did."

Various things have become obvious for me as I got older. For instance "I am never going to grow my hair long again because I just don't have enough in front." Or "I can't tell 16 year old girls from 21. They all just look ... really young." [My father used to see a pretty girl and say "There's one for you." I now understand that.]

My alleged point being this: maybe talking like your grandfather is obvious when you get there.

[typo of the day: left angle i right angle apostrophe v e ]

#511 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 10:01 AM:

Elliott Mason (500/499): For a moment there, I thought you had meant that the sourdough starter experiments were *why* you had the opportunity to compare slightly-used cornbread and raisins. (also: ick)

#512 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 10:21 AM:

NPR needs either a better webmaster or to throw some money at their website. Years ago when I was profoundly broke I heard a Sunday Edition report on pennywhistle music in South Africa that was very interesting with some nice clips to give you an overview. I couldn't afford to get any recordings then but Christmas is approaching and iTunes makes it easier for me to leave hints as to what would be a nice gift. So I try to find the NPR report and find a number of references online talking about what a good overview it was, but finding the report on the NPR site? Good luck. I remember trying to use their links to the 100 best recordings of the 20th Century a year or so ago and half the links were dead. Blah. Anyone know of a good collection to start with?

#513 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 10:36 AM:

Oh, and shadowsong, Lila, and Bill Stewart: thanks for the info on Taiko--much appreciated. Bill: you're right--the speakers I have access to don't have enough on the low end, really. Makes me wish I had one of the 100 pound driver magnet sets that Cerwin Vega designed for the "Sensurround" system and brought to town for a demo some years ago. They were set up in a 10' x 15' room, and when we were let in they put "Frankenstein" by the Edgar Winter Group on.

Wow.

Julie L.: thanks for the tip on the tip on the live performance! Unfortunately, I'm being treated for a condition that involves heavy painkillers once a day on average and it hit about an hour before the show was due to begin. Maybe I can make it to the January performance listed...

#514 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 12:57 PM:

abi, #487: That's the good side of "get 'em young and they're yours forever". Sadly, it also works with things like telling your child how EVUL gays and liberals are. I'm just glad we have people like you doing pushback.

Marilee, #493: *sigh* Even in the littlest things...

Angiportus, #494: FTW!

David, #504: No mortar & pestle available, I take it?

Roy Zimmerman channels Stan Rogers.

#515 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 01:38 PM:

Scott @ 437: "To break the topic of Japanese grammar, and bring up the topic of Japanese semantics... it's often said that Japanese doesn't actually have swear words."

FWIW, someone I know reported that he once used "chi" (blood) as an exclamation of frustration at the breakfast table and his host mother spontaneously slapped him. I guess she at least thought it was a swear word.

#516 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 01:48 PM:

David Goldfarb @ #504

I dub thee "Speaker to Saccharides".

(FX: saunters off giggling)

#517 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 02:16 PM:

Serge @508: which version? A well-filmed "Longbow Hunters" would be great.

#518 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 03:47 PM:

Roger Ebert tweeted a link about fore-edge painting which appears to be relevant to our interests. Anyone want to take up the practice and add to our "life cycle of the book" talent pool?

#519 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 04:16 PM:

#504:

Schadenfreude, shadenfreude, shadenfreude pie
It's sweet when someone is worse off than I
What's a just dessert, then? I reply:
Shadenfreude, shadenfreude, shadenfreude pie.

#520 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 04:17 PM:

Hyperlocal news: Woman speculates that today's high winds are likely to mean more pecans down in the vacant lot next door, but has concerns about said high winds making said pecans dangerously ballistic. Perhaps a hat would be a good idea, though the pith helmet would look a little ridiculous, eh?

#521 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 04:50 PM:

dcb @ 517... I was originally thinking of the approach taken by Kevin Smith a few years ago, which poked fun at the conventions of comics, but also played it sort-of straight. That would be a difficult tight-rope act though. Grell's approach would be interesting too.

#522 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 05:08 PM:

Kip W @ 497:

Bailey's Clotted Irish.

#523 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 05:42 PM:

David Goldfarb, #504, I don't know if you had time for this, but the traditional method of softening hard sugar/brown sugar is to put it in a ziplock bag along with a fresh slice of bread. The bread gives the sugar moisture and turns hard.

#524 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 06:02 PM:

Scott @ 505:

I've found most of the Japanese "expletives" I know in Doraemon, a comic aimed at 7-12 year olds. Unless I'm missing a whole wide world of vulgarity, that doesn't fit the English pattern at all.

#525 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 06:41 PM:

Interview with Diane Duane.

Slight spoilers for her new book, discussion of the differences between YA and adult fiction writing, and some interesting philosophical viewpoints. I've heard the "all fiction is fantasy" argument before, but it usually comes from someone who doesn't like fiction -- because "why would anybody want to read about something that isn't real?" This is a different take on it.

#526 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 06:53 PM:

Open Threadiness: A friend of mine asked an evil question, and I'm sharing it with the rest of you. The question is, "What's the word for when the weather in a work of fiction reflects the mood?". Neither of us can remember the word, and googling has been unsatisfactory.

#527 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 07:00 PM:

Ginger: It's called the Pathetic Fallacy.

'Pathetic' isn't a judgement here; the word is used literally.

#528 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 07:22 PM:

Xopher@ 527: I'm not sure...that seems to be a form of personification of inanimate objects. I think she's looking for a reflection of mood.

#529 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 08:24 PM:

Atmospheric symbolism?

#530 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 08:27 PM:

Well, I passed it along to my friend, who agrees with Xopher -- so, our heartfelt thanks! She invited me to find another word I agreed with more, and I declined her invitation. This time.

#531 ::: Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 08:53 PM:

I really should keep better track of threads I join. I'm going to blame my visiting (and thus very distracting) wife for the tardiness of these various replies.


Xopher@167
ddb@203

The difference between b and p as well as that between d and t is a matter of whether you voice the consonant or not — i.e. whether your vocal chords are involved in the obstruction.

Compared with that, the change in pronunciation locus (how you hold and shape your tongue) between é and è may well be considered significant. In German, the same difference is captured as e vs. ä.

I may be picky about my accents, but this is mainly a product of seeing so much Swedish (and German) mishandled and mishandled badly by people who think the little dots are just quaint decorations. In Swedish, we've the vowels å, ä and ö with very different behavior from a and o; and in German, it's the ä, ö and ü that while connected to a, o and u, still are rather different too.


Alex@206
To be even more specific, both -le and -el are versions of the -lein diminutive ending.


Serge@213
There is this gorgeous quote about mathematics, comparing it to french insofar as once whatever you were saying is translated into the new language, it means something completely different.


tykewriter@247
Surely that reads
hotten-totten-potentaten-tanten-attentat
which'd translate to “An Attempt on the Life of an Aunt of a Hottentot Potentate”?

#532 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 10:45 PM:

Mikael, actually the most salient difference between d and t in English is aspiration. The voicing is only partial in English /d/, and the aspiration of /t/ is pretty strong. We treat the difference as voicing for structural reasons, and for comparison to other languages like Russian where the /d/ is fully voiced and the /t/ isn't aspirated (or not aspirated as much).

#533 ::: y ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 12:25 AM:

Mikael, the quote is from Goethe: "Die Mathematiker sind eine Art Franzosen: redet man zu ihnen, so übersetzen sie es in ihre Sprache, und dann ist es alsobald ganz etwas Anders."

Roughly rendered: "Mathematicians are a kind of Frenchmen: one speaks to them, and they translate it into their language, and then it is straightway something altogether different."

#534 ::: Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 01:16 AM:

Xopher@532
Thank you — I was never all that clear on the aspiration part of the pronunciation difference; part of what makes my Swedish heritage still audible in my English.

My point still stands for p/b though, right?


y@533
Thank you! I don't think I've seen it in the original german before this; it's a neat turn.

#536 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 04:29 AM:

Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson @531. Yes, that's what I meant to write. Apologies to omitted aunts everywhere.
Now back to packing for the big move tomorrow. Bristol to Sheffield. Eeeek!

#537 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 05:19 AM:

Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson @ 531:
In German, the same difference is captured as e vs. ä.

I'm pretty sure that for short vowels, there is no difference in how those two letters are pronounced (except that "e" in some circumstances is pronounced as a schwa). For long vowels, the difference is either subtle or nonexistent, depending on the dialect and the speaker.


Xopher @ 532:
Mikael, actually the most salient difference between d and t in English is aspiration. The voicing is only partial in English /d/, and the aspiration of /t/ is pretty strong.

Except that "t" isn't aspirated when it immediately follows an "s", right? E.g. "stun" vs "tun". (And my impression is that a word-final "t" has less aspiration than a word-initial "t".)

#538 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 09:03 AM:

Hats off to Leslie Nielsen for being Lt. Frank Dreben. Here's to Dreben's finest hour (and I have to wonder if Nielsen ever knew about it).

#539 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 09:05 AM:

Drebbin! (sorry)

#540 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 09:21 AM:

And let's not forget Forbidden Planet.

#541 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 09:45 AM:

Paul Duncanson @ 540... Yes. One of the best SF movies ever made.

#542 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 11:07 AM:

Paul Duncanson @540 & Serge @541: Just watched it again a few weeks ago. Astonishing how well it holds up.

#543 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 11:23 AM:

Jacque @ 542... And it was chockful of SF tropes used in a manner that made it obvious it was written by someone who knew SF.

#544 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 11:52 AM:

The other thing that struck me as we were watching it was the off-hand, obvious respect for science. Don't know that I can articulate it better than that, but the importance of science and science literacy were just kind of taken for granted in a way I don't recall having seen elsewhere. Certainly not recently.

Contrast that with current movie and TV sf, where you have Science! and Technology! It's So Cool and Awesome!

And it was nothing obvious, just kind of embued in the background of the story.

Does that make sense?

#545 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 12:00 PM:

The question "what is mincemeat" came up at work. Do I correctly recall that mince and mincemeat are not the same thing?

My vague recollection is that "mince" refers to the seasoning. Mr. Google asserts that it derives from a middle-eastern tradition. Reading the first couple of recipes, I am reminded of a "paella"(?) made by our late lamented Moroccan restaurant here in Boulder.

What is your-all's experience of/understanding about mincemeat?

My brother made some once, a long time ago, but I never got to taste it, because the dog got to it first. (Left to cool uncovered on a back counter. Normally a safe location, but apparently strong enough temptation to motivate extraordinary effort.)

#546 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 12:10 PM:

Jacque @ 544... Does that make sense?

Definitely. Frankly, I think it's a more sophisticated film - as SF - than even Kubrick's.

#547 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 01:19 PM:

Peter Erwin @537: Going by the my-fair-lady scale, the candle flickers for my "t"s in all those locations and words.

Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson @531: Both B and P are voiced; for me, they both also make candle-flickering puffs of air, but far smaller for B. The P is very much like the T, for me, except with lips instead of teeth.

My B is, visually, in a lipreading sense, very very similar to my M -- my two-year-old daughter has started saying "Muh-nuh-nuh" for banana, probably because of just such a confusion. However, for the B, I 'wind up' a lot harder and it comes out with emphasis and a puff of air and vocalization (whereas the M comes out with vocalization, a hum, and no excess air).


For the record, English is my native tongue; I have almost exactly Walter Cronkite's accent (educated urban great-lakeside-dwelling American).

#548 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 01:41 PM:

As a lipreader (natural and trained..), B and M are always mistaken for each other, along with P. When you can't hear the rest of the letter, these three look alike. F and V are another pair of look-alikes, as are S and T. The letter K is invisible. R is nearly invisible.

L and M are difficult to learn how to pronounce, along with S and T, because these letters require using the tongue in specific non-entirely-visible locations inside the mouth. R, L, and Y are often switched around by little ones learning to speak.

And yet, I developed a natural lipreading skill that led people to believe I didn't have a hearing loss. At least, not until they looked away or covered their mouths, and the only source of sound in that room was through the microphone.

#549 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 01:48 PM:

Jacque @545:
. Do I correctly recall that mince and mincemeat are *not* the same thing?

Well, my experience of these things is British (we were fruitcake people*), and here's how I learned it:

1. Mince is a form of meat; in the US we'd call it ground beef.
2. Mincemeat is the rich and fruity stuff that goes into
3. Mince pies, which have no mince in them, because those are
4. Scotch pies.

So, to recap, mince pies are not filled with mince, which is meat, but rather with mincemeat, which is not.

American usage almost certainly differs.†

-----
* Yes, yes, thank you Serge, that too
† It might even be sane.

#550 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 01:55 PM:

To further confuse the mince/mincemeat issue, here in the U.S. at least, some kinds of mincemeat do indeed have a small amount of meat or beef broth in them and some do not. In a family with a vegetarian contingent, I have learned to read labels Very Carefully.

#551 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 02:01 PM:

Do I correctly recall that mince and mincemeat are not the same thing?

A data point from the US:

When used as a noun I would understand "mince" to mean "ground meat", probably beef; this is a distinctly British usage to my ears. I would understand "mincemeat" to mean the spiced fruit mixture in mincemeat pies, which at one point contained meat and now usually-but-not-always does not.

I don't think it would be likely for the fruit stuff to be called "mince", but it's entirely possible that someone who had heard but not understood "mincemeat" would use it to refer to ground meat.

#552 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 02:01 PM:

Abi @ 549... we were fruitcake people

This reminds me of the Far Side cartoon that revealed that there had been a Fourth Wise Man, but nobody ever mentions him because his gift was a fruitcake.

(By the way, I know a scientist whose name is Flake.)

#553 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 02:03 PM:

Ginger @ 548... As the crew of the Discovery eventually found out, one must beware lipreaders.

#554 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 02:06 PM:

Serge @ #552, the state next door to yours has a US Congressional Representative named Flake, and he lives up to its vernacular definition. That's not surprising; most of Arizona's current politicians appear to have left the sane world far behind.

#555 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 02:22 PM:

A bit late, since I was offline:

#416 TexAnne :::

do you sleep in warm woolly socks? Why or why not?

I sleep in fuzzy socks, though not wool. They do not tend to come off. I also love my electric mattress pad, and will not be without one.

I get very cold when sleeping, and also move around a lot, meaning blankets tend not to stay put, so I find this a better solution.

#468 Serge

I had a typewriter with accents and other squiggles, what with my growing up in Québec City. When I left though, typewriters and computers in the anglophone world had no such possibilities

My first typewriter didn't have accents, and I did need them, or I'd be marked down on homework assignments. I figured out how to manage using the backspace key and punctuation: e + ' would be é, e + ` would be è, C + , would be Ç, etc. It wasn't perfect, but it made it understandable.

I'm going to be offline for the month of December. I don't think I'm dropping any conversations, but if I do, I apologise in advance.

#556 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 02:57 PM:

Mince: I would agree with Abi@549, except that to me pies with mince in them are just meat pies. Of course, there can also be pies with chopped meat in them, but I would normally call them something else - steak pies, perhaps, or whatever.

(Mincemeat was originally minced meat, with flavourings added; and the traditional form of it still includes meat fat.)

#557 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 03:03 PM:

Xopher #532:

We treat the difference as voicing for structural reasons, and for comparison to other languages like Russian where the /d/ is fully voiced and the /t/ isn't aspirated

Interesting. This reminds me of pinyin, where the Chinese aspirated/non-aspirated distinction is mapped to the unvoiced/voiced distinction in European languages: pairs like /d/ and /t/ or /g/ and /k/ are all unvoiced, but the one that Westerners would expect to be voiced is unaspirated. I had been surprised how well it works, but it may be exactly because English already uses these distinctions to represent aspiration.

#558 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 03:45 PM:

Lee @ 287--

Sorry to take so long answering, but I was away from home with limited internet access.

As an undergraduate, I attended a school which had co-ed dorms, and so the idea does not shock me*. Many of my older relatives, as well as most of those in Mississippi, were rather taken aback by the notion, but then, the summer I spent studying German at Ole Miss, a student delivered a baby in the bathroom of a women's dormitory without medical assistance, so clearly the single-sex dormitories didn't prevent the sort of thing they were worried about.

I'm sure plenty of Vanderbilt alumni will be appalled, and plenty will be indifferent. They call it the Harvard of the South, but I suspect it's been many years since Harvard was as prissy as Vanderbilt is even now.

*We did not indulge in random fornication in the hallways**, even though it was the 1970s.

**to take a phrase from a fellow-student***, who was trying to explain to his grandmother how harmless it all was really, an effect his older brother spoiled for him by saying "Well, no, of course not! People would have trouble getting past, and so it wouldn't be polite."

***Who was not Owen Jenkins' son Clay, but some other youthful smartass.

#559 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 03:57 PM:

Cheryl @ 555... When I got WordPerfect, long ago, I had to tell the software which combination of keys would result in which accent/squiggle. That was fun. Not.

#560 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 04:46 PM:

Mincemeat used to have actual meat and candied fruit, long ago. It originated as a way of preserving meat. These days, it typically has beef suet (aka fat). This may be part of the Canadian legal definition, as a local supermarket chain has both mincemeat and a similar product I can't locate, not called "mincemeat", without the suet. There are plenty recipes for "vegetarian mincemeat" on the Internet.

We make mincemeat, with suet. A friend uses ground venison, and it's impressive.

#561 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 08:21 PM:

And another one...

Irvin Kershner 1923 - 2010. The only good director of a Star Wars film.

#562 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 08:38 PM:

Lee, #525, I think Diane Duane owes me money. She still doesn't have the third cat book, to which I already contributed, but has written other books. She hasn't written the fourth the Door, either. I think I'll email.

Ginger, #548, the second renal failure, a nurse pushed Lasix too fast and I became deaf. The rounding doc and the nurses didn't believe me because I could read their lips when they faced me. They felt I was making it up -- that I was purposely pretending not to hear when I couldn't see their lips. Then the next week's rounding doc (my primary), knew exactly what had happened; she and the nephrologist replaced Lasix with Bumax, and I got my hearing back after a while.

#563 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 08:43 PM:

Re: Mincemeat

My understanding, very possibly wrong, is that the word mincemeat is left over from a time when meat in English meant what we now call food. Some time since the King James Bible, the meaning of meat narrowed to animal flesh.

The number 1 definition of meat in the OED reads, "Food in general; anything used as nourishment for men or animals; usually, solid food, in contradistinction to drink. Now arch. and dial."

#564 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 09:23 PM:

Mikael 534: My point still stands for p/b though, right?

Same as for t/d and k/g.

Peter 537: Except that "t" isn't aspirated when it immediately follows an "s", right? E.g. "stun" vs "tun". (And my impression is that a word-final "t" has less aspiration than a word-initial "t".)

Yes, just so. That's why we'd use /sdən/ for 'stun' when transcribing for early voice synthesizers. Sounded more accurate.

#565 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 09:24 PM:

They're Made Out of Meat by Terry Bisson

#566 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 09:55 PM:

Any Fluorospherians who may by some strange twist of fate find themselves in the Oklahoma City area on December 18 are welcome to gather lightly at my annual holiday party!

#567 ::: Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 11:18 PM:

Elliot Mason @ 547
I wrote voiced in the phonetic sense — viz. your vocal chords are vibrating with the pronunciation. You can tell by, for instance, holding a finger to your throat (Adam's apple, if you have one pronounced enough). The expulsion of air puffs is common for all plosives (consonants formed by blocking airflow and then releasing it).

#568 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 11:29 PM:

558:
Harvard calls itself the Harvard of the East.

#569 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 12:13 AM:

Serge @ 552:

Is that Gary Flake, the author of "The Computational Beauty of Nature"?

#570 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 12:41 AM:

Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson: In regards to diction, I am probably fighting a losing battle when I am being careful to enunciate everything correctly (for example, my "February" actually has a very soft "bru" in there instead of "Feb-u-ary," which is the more common pronunciation.) After all, I don't go to such trouble unless I'm doing public speaking (stage or radio) or singing; my normal speech patterns are definitely slurred. But I still maintain that there's a difference between Allan, Allen, and Allyn. Probably imaginary.

#571 ::: Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 02:22 AM:

B. Durbin @ 570
For me, the original issue (annoyance at random dropping of accents, and marvel at what this does to words) is more connected to my other major languages than it is to enunciations.

For instance, even if sufficiently many German dialects differentiate insufficiently between «e» and «ä» for this to work as an illustration of why the identification of «e», «é» and «è» that started this thread bugged me, in Swedish it's a different thing; «e» and «ä» really do end up being pronounced differently, and there are sufficient minimal pairs to demonstrate that the difference _does_ carry meaning in a way that's similar to the «e», «é» and «è» comparison at the start; for instance «leka» (play) and «läka» (heal).

Again, some dialects fuse these — and the rest of us make fun of them for doing just that.

#572 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 04:04 AM:

B. Durbin @ 570:
But I still maintain that there's a difference between Allan, Allen, and Allyn. Probably imaginary.

Interestingly, this page suggests that Allan might reflect a Scottish origin, while Allen is perhaps more likely to be originally Breton or French, entering England with the Norman Conquest. (I would have guessed that they were meaningless spelling variations, given how fluid and variable spelling was, especially for personal names, prior to the modern era.)

But as to whether you should be pronouncing them differently[1]... well, you're welcome to try using a Scottish accent with Allan and a French (or Breton) accent with Allen, but I think that would be a bit silly....


[1] Aside from following what I think is the number one rule for personal/family names, which is: "How does the person whose name it is pronounce it?"

#573 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 05:44 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 569... Not sure. I think this scientist is another Flake.

#574 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 09:41 AM:

A software question...

Let's say that someone's XP-running laptop handles emails with Outlook Express. An email with a Word attachment is received. You open the attachment, you make some changes, click on 'save'. You close the attachment. You reopen it. And none of your changes show.

Where could the modified document be hiding?

#575 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 09:42 AM:

Open Thread:

I hadn't read any of them, and in fact ordered the first* only recently because I finally snapped under the weight of implied familiarity with her work that threads the comments here. And then, via Penny Arcade of all places, I find this.

So, I guess, if I enjoy Shards of Honour* the only remaining problem will be finding enough time.

*I believe whether this is actually the first book as such is debatable - wiki was a little confusing on the matter - but it seemed like a place to start.

#576 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 09:51 AM:

Serge@574

On my system it's C:/Documents and settings//local settings/Temporary Internet Files

I seem to recall in the past having the exact same problem and discovering files in a secret folder you can only get to by typing the full path in, never browse to. But that no longer seems to be the case.

You could try opening the file from Outlook again, clicking "save as" and noting the path it gives you - that should be the current location of the doc, I think.

#577 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 09:52 AM:

Oops - that's "C:/Documents and settings/[me]/local settings/Temporary Internet Files"

#578 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 10:19 AM:

Russ @ 576... Thanks. I'll try that when I get home tonight.

#579 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 10:22 AM:

Russ @ 575... I seem to remember reading that "Shards of Honor" originally was a Star Trek novel, with Miles's mom being from the Federation, and his dad a Romulan.

#580 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 10:59 AM:

fidelio@558: Obviously couldn't have been Clay, since he didn't have an older brother :-).

Sheesh, still folded funny.

#581 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 11:07 AM:

Russ@575: IMHO reading in publication order cannot be too badly wrong, since that's the order she built her reputation in. Shards of Honor and The Warriors Apprentice certainly hooked me!

I don't mean to imply the early books aren't well-written; however, Lois has improved with time and practice, and the really fantastic books were written later. And many of them depend to a significant extent on the characters and relationships established in the earlier books.

Plus she's written some books out of chronological order.

Thus the lack of consensus on what order to read them in.

#582 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 11:11 AM:

As of a bit over a week ago, the Borden's Nonesuch mincemeat on the shelf at Lunds had suet in it, and the Crosse and Blackwell did not. Thus Pamela used the C&B this year.

To the extent we talk about it at all in the USA, "mincemeat" is the name for the sweet pie filling consisting of heavily spiced fruit, sometimes with trace amounts animal fat. Historically we know that this dish had various amounts of meat in it in the past, but most of us are pretty uncomfortable thinking about that much.

(The mince pie at Thanksgiving and Christmas is the other absolutely vital thing, other than the turkey stuffing, that must be on the menu. My father was English.)

#583 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 11:12 AM:

Mikael @571: For me, the original issue (annoyance at random dropping of accents, and marvel at what this does to words) is more connected to my other major languages than it is to enunciations.

Perhaps more akin to dropping apostrophes and circumflexes from Wade-Giles romanizations of Chinese?

#584 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 11:35 AM:

Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson @567 said: I wrote voiced in the phonetic sense — viz. your vocal chords are vibrating with the pronunciation. You can tell by, for instance, holding a finger to your throat (Adam's apple, if you have one pronounced enough). The expulsion of air puffs is common for all plosives (consonants formed by blocking airflow and then releasing it).

Yes, I know. 'Voiced' means I'm singing, as it were; aspirated means there's a puff of air. My P is voiced, though not as strongly as my B.

What I mean is, if I pronounce the consonant as if it were followed by a schwa, B, D, P, N, M, L, etc, are all voiced; K, S, T, and their kin are whispered, with no voicing at all.

If I put them in imaginary single syllables with a non-schwa vowel, the non-schwa vowel is often voiced, muddying the waters about the consonant. :->

Would it help if a sample text paragraph were posted, that various MLers could videotape themselves reading?

#585 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 12:01 PM:

abi @459: So, to recap, mince pies are not filled with mince, which is meat, but rather with mincemeat, which is not.

::blink:: ::blink:: Um. Thank you1.

1See also: Ow.

#586 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 12:03 PM:

'mince' is the French word for 'thin'.

#587 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 12:04 PM:

Um. Dyslexia: My @585 refers to abi's @549, not B. Durbin's @459.

That is all.

#588 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 12:11 PM:

B. Durbin, #570: But I still maintain that there's a difference between Allan, Allen, and Allyn.

I "hear" those in my head as being slightly but distinctly different; the second vowel in "Allan" is a short-A sound, while "Allen" has a short-E and "Allyn" a short-I. This does not guarantee that I would actually pronounce them differently enough for anyone else to notice, though.

Serge, #574: Suggestions from my partner:
1) It's somewhere in the Documents & Settings folder.
2) It's in the default folder where Word stores documents.
3) The document itself has been set to disallow changes by anyone but the originator; this is something later versions of Word can do, and you can't tell by looking at the document that it's been done.

Personally, my bet would be on #2. Open Windows Explorer and do a search on the filename.

Russ, #575: Shards of Honor is chronologically the first book in the series, but I believe it wasn't the first to be written or published. So technically, it's a prequel.

#589 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 12:15 PM:

Lee @ 588... When this first came up, I did search for the document, but none of the hits contained the changes. I'll look again tonight. Thanks.

#590 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 12:18 PM:

Alain - masculine name, also that of my bro, who's so unpleasant that his wife dumped him.
Aline - feminine name, also that of my favorite aunt.

#591 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 12:31 PM:

B. Durbin, #570: But I still maintain that there's a difference between Allan, Allen, and Allyn.

I don't hear a difference in those, but I "see" a color difference between "grey" and "gray". ("grey" is more blue).

The language processing of the human brain is a fascinating and marvelous thing.

#592 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 12:33 PM:

Russ @575: I'd definitely recommend reading them (my husband is presently reading Cryoburn and keeps chuckling over certain bits and reading them out to me; I already read it, so no spoiling involved). Shards of Honor was the first one written, followed by The Warrior's Apprentice, which is the first one with Miles Vorkosigan in (I still think he's probably the best fictional character I've ever met). The Warrior's Apprentice starts a bit slowly, but goes into overdrive about 1/4 of the way through and you don't get a pause for air until the end. I love these books, although parts of some of them (Memory, A Civil Campaign) are painful to re-read.

#593 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 12:34 PM:

Scott @505 : That makes sense, that there's also a shift in register involved.

#594 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 12:47 PM:

Russ@ 575:

I started with Young Miles about a month ago. My wife is not amused, as Cyroburn is probably the only one in that set that I haven't read yet. (Well, Miles in Love is like one night from finished). The series is interconnected, It feels like a fugue with variations, where the same story is explored through several characters having the similar problems at the same time. And sometimes, successive generations having nearly the same problems. Fractally. Also, there's this evil author who gets you to really care for the characters, develops them in her world, and then decides to do the most appalling things to them to see how they get out of it. Like dinner parties. With romantic interests. And chaos. Quite fun really.

Underground. Speaking with hands. Go away, not done reading yet.

#595 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 01:25 PM:

eric #594:

Yeah, the thing that got me about A Civil Campaign was how she left me more or less helplessly laughing my ass off and cringing in horror at the same time.

#596 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 01:34 PM:

ddb @ 580.

That's good news.

#597 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 02:19 PM:

the thing that got me about A Civil Campaign was how she left me more or less helplessly laughing my ass off and cringing in horror at the same time.

Indeed. It was interesting to me that I enjoyed reading it, but I think a comparable scene in a movie or television show would have had me switching it off. I really dislike what I think of as "comedy of excruciation".

My husband came into the room while I was reading one of the books (not specifying which one, to avoid even borderline spoilers) and found me with tears streaming down my cheeks. "What's wrong?" he asked.

"It's... It's..." I tried to choke out, pointing at it. "It's Bujold making me cry over people who don't exist and never have and never will. Like she does. Argh."

"In that case, don't tell me!" he said.

#598 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 02:21 PM:

re 287/558et al.: It should be noted that the headline is wildly inaccurate. If you read the story it's clear that Vanderbilt has far more co-ed facilities than we had at UMCP in my day, where we had co-ed-by-floor dorms but no unisex bathrooms. My experience back then was that single-sex dorms were generally less rowdy, but this was within a larger dorm culture of "we're away from Mom and Dad/let's act out" which was tedious for this ex-boarding-school student.

#599 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 02:29 PM:

ddb @581: And many of them depend to a significant extent on the characters and relationships established in the earlier books.

I would say reading the later books is a richer experience if you've read the earlier ones, not that you can't understand what's going on without having read the earlier ones. One of my favorite lines in Cryoburn is where Miles says something like, "Huh. Where I come from, the best revenge is somebody's head in a bag." That's funny as it stands, but it means more if you've read Barrayar than if you haven't.

dcb @592: ... parts of some of them (Memory, A Civil Campaign) are painful to re-read.

Interesting. Memory is the one I re-read most often. Before Memory was published, Shards of Honor held the top spot. The one I find painful to re-read is the beginning of Mirror Dance, where Mark is bumbling his way into the disaster.

eric @594: ... and then decides to do the most appalling things to them ...

Bujold has said explicitly that's how she builds plots. I don't have references at hand, but I've seen it in at least two of her writings on writing.

#600 ::: Jason Aronowitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 02:36 PM:

I reread most of the Vorkosigan books this past week.

I started writing this to discuss my motivation for doing so, but realized in time that it would be a spoiler for Cryoburn.

Never mind.

#601 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 02:58 PM:

Lexica @597: "It's... It's..." I tried to choke out, pointing at it. "It's Bujold making me cry over people who don't exist and never have and never will. Like she does. Argh."

It's pan-specific:

I was weeping quietly over a scene in the last of the Sharing Knife series when I happened to look up. JJ,* who has the cage nearest my chair, was cozeyed up in the corner closest to me, staring down at me, his eyes big and moist. You could almost hear the thought balloon: "What's the matter? It'll be all right!"

I nearly died of teh Qte.

*For those who don't know, JJ is a guinea pig.

#602 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 03:05 PM:

making me cry over people who don't exist and never have and never will

The first character over whom I wept like that was Therem Harth rem ir Estraven. I was about ten.

(Crossing threads: Estraven was the second character in fiction I really fell in love with. Spock was the first; I've loved him since I was four.)

#603 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 04:02 PM:

Open threadiness:

This Naked Capitalism link discusses foreclosures carried out on people who never missed a payment, but who were screwed over in ways that range from just barely legal to outright fraudulent. (That is, if you or I did it to a bank, it would be fraudulent. If a bank does it to you or me, it is simply a harmless mistake, even if the harmless mistake involves, say, companies that forge documents for a living.)

This sort of thing has consequences, and some of the possible (and not wildly improbably) ones are genuinely ugly.

#604 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 04:03 PM:

Albatross #595 - yes, that sounds familiar. The climactic scene of errors was so painful that I can't actually read it when I re-read the book, since it seems just a little too real.

Hyperlocal news - my dads next door neighbour, despite being around pensionable age, spent the morning digging her car out from 14 inches of snow and clearing a route of about 18 feet from her car to the road. I was impressed. (Location near Edinburgh)

#605 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 04:40 PM:

*Sigh*

End of November already. There's now basically no way I can deliver my deliverables and use up my remaining vacation time. I'll be doing half-days here and there, but even with that it looks like I'll be losing a week of vacation/personal time.

I think there's something in Carnegie-Mellon's water supply that turns graduates Type A.

#606 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 04:56 PM:

Bruce@599 Ah, the old head in a bag joke. There are a few of them in the series.

#607 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 05:06 PM:

Bruce @ 599: Ah, yes -- I do love my Siegling's bag. Alas, it does not come with a head -- I have to supply that myself.

#608 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 05:28 PM:

Ginger @ 607... Time to watch "The Attila-the-Hun Show"?

#609 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 06:33 PM:

abi @ 602:

Yep, I've read "The Left Hand of Darkness" at least 4 times now in the last 40 years, and I got a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes every time I read about Estraven's death, and then again when Genly visits Estraven's family at the end.

Bujold's done it to me as well: "Winterfair Gifts" gets me every time.

#610 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 06:43 PM:

And a little good news for this grey winter day ...

My first post-op appointment with the surgeon who worked on my back was yesterday afternoon. They took a couple of x-rays of the operation site first, and we looked at them; it was quite a good feeling to see whole disks there were before there was mostly air. My posture is much more erect now thanks to those disks, and I'm walking without a cane on level ground (and with the cane only as a precaution on slopes), and as of today without the walker (I was using the walker in the house until a week or so ago, and outside the house until now). I'll be starting physical therapy again in a couple of weeks, and the surgeon thinks I should have a lot of my normal endurance back within 6 weeks or so. That last will be nice: after I got back from the appointment and a run to the pharmacy to refill some prescriptions I fell asleep on the couch for about an hour.

#611 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 07:05 PM:

Hyperlocal news...

Man attends staff meeting during which team supervisor tells contractors they must ask the right questions before they start coding.

#612 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 08:09 PM:

#610: Glad to hear the surgery worked out. I am grateful every day that my back troubles just need stretching now and then to keep from recurring.

#613 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 08:15 PM:

The Bujold book that is most painful for me to read is Komarr. Just a little too close to home there. I feel it might have been for the author, too, the way she describes Ekaterin's situation. But --- heh heh heh, I LOVE being an academic and having an excuse to do this --- my next paper is going to be on the Miles series so I have an excuse to read them all AGAIN, even though I just did for Cryoburn. Woo hoo!

#614 ::: Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 08:31 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 584
You voice your P? How about that — apparently my english accent is stronger than I thought. ;-)

I'm not sure we need to go to the point of accumulating speech samples from the crowd at ML, that might be pushing this topic too far.

In other hyperlocal news, incompetent job application form design is annoying. Today I claimed to be native american, since that was the only way my faculty job application would pass the website form validation engine.

#615 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 08:54 PM:

Mikael, 614: Uh...do you mean you claimed to be Native American, which is the group of people that used to be called "Indians"?

#616 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 09:05 PM:

This morning, the captive-audience screen in the elevator at work had a news item about tornadoes in Mississippi which said, in part, that they 'resulted in the hospitalization of 6 people and power outages'.

(It's going to take more than a serial comma to fix the image that line created.)

#617 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 10:04 PM:

Eric @ 606: Ah, the old head in a bag joke. There are a few of them in the series.

I don't remember seeing any others. Will you tell me where?

#618 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 10:55 PM:

Bruce, 617: Well, there's one where Ekaterin tells Miles she'd like to go shopping with his mother, and he is nonplussed.

#619 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 11:04 PM:

Otterb@591: What's really scary is that those of us with this weird thing about spelling gray / grey all seem to agree what the difference is.

#620 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 11:17 PM:

Bruce, that is very good news. Recovery from any surgery is grueling and it sounds as if you are doing well.

Best wishes toward getting back up to speed WITHOUT an aching back. that in itself is a blessing.

and gentle hugs across the e-ways.

#621 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 11:22 PM:

Lee@588: You are mistaken about Shards of Honor -- it was both written and published first. You may be thinking of how Barrayar got written. It was originally going to be the second half of Shards, and then Bujold realized that she could stop Shards where it ends now; she came back to the material later, when she was a stronger writer.

#622 ::: y ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 11:30 PM:

But regardless of the rather complicated history of how they came to be (detailed in an afterword) I highly recommend reading both Shards of Honor and Barrayar in that order, back to back. I do it regularly myself--just did it again over Thanksgiving, come to think of it.

#623 ::: Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 11:33 PM:

TexAnne @ 615
Yes, apologies for insufficient capitalization. The form validation would tell me I had left out a mandatory field — the checkbox for “Native American or Alaskan” — if I tried to submit my application without it checked.

I took a screenshot, checked that and the checkbox for “Decline to state”, emailed the screenshot to the search committee contact email adress, along with a bug description and a clarification that I am not, actually, Native American nor Alaskan.

#624 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 11:46 PM:

ddb@619 -- I'm afraid not! "Gray" is clearly the cooler / bluer shade, and "grey" is warmer / yellower. This has always been obvious to me.

#625 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 11:53 PM:

Bruce H @617 - Diplomatic Immunity, I think. Ekaterin Is heading off to go shopping in quaddiespace and Miles tells here not to bring back any severed heads. The quaddies are unamused.

#626 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 11:59 PM:

Mikael, 623: Good heavens. I'm sure they'll be grateful you told them about it!

Andrew, 624: I'm with you, Athene's eyes notwithstanding.

#627 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 12:33 AM:

My defaults are dove-grey and battleship-gray.

#628 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 12:42 AM:

grey / gray: To me, gray is the calmer, nicer, clearer color; grey is depressingly hovering, muddier, usually darker.

#629 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 12:44 AM:

I once spent more than an hour trying to figure out why a job application wouldn't go through. Turned out that it was made for Internet Explorer *only*. A few others are noted in the spreadsheet of doom as 'argh this application' and such, but that one really stuck out.

#630 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 12:47 AM:

I have just thought of a lolcat of limited utility; in fact, the only people I can be sure will get it hang out here.

So: imagine a cat who is visibly unimpressed.

I NOT FULE

SO I NOT KNO

#631 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 01:57 AM:

When Lois McMaster Bujold was in Portland for a reading recently, she mentioned the debate over the correct reading order for the Vorkosigan series. She did not give her opinion, but said that she'd seen it so many times that she could now look at a webpage in a language that she can not read, and recognize that it's about the reading order.

I read them in story-order (leaving her first Quaddies book last), and found that very satisfying. YMMV.

#632 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 03:31 AM:

Since I am a rough, tough walking example of manly macho manliness, I never cry over the death of fictional characters.

I will admit to having a clutch in my chest, a bit of moistness in my eyes, and the thought "Oh, God, no. Not him too. That's too much. That's too goddamned much.", when Death re-introduced herself to Hob in the "The Wake" chapter of SANDMAN.

And then Hob didn't die, after all. (Gaiman, you bastard! You nearly made The Crock cry.)

- - - - -

Bruce Cohen's post reminds me to pen a brief update on my own recovery from shoulder surgery:

The surgeon let me stop using the sling last week, though I'm still not supposed to use the arm for much, if any, weight-bearing tasks for another month. Working on range-of-motion improvement, both with physical therapist and home-exercise; painful. In another month I get to start on getting the arm's strenght back. I figure I'll have made major improvement when I can not notice there's another hour or two left before I can take another double-dose of extra-strength Tylenol.

#633 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 03:46 AM:

Hyperlocal News: London paralyzed by snow. Local inhabitant, looking out over snowy garden (five inches or so) enjoys how quiet the world is, but hopes public transport will be working again by Friday.

Bruce H. @ 599: the second to fifth or sixth times I read "Memory" I skipped the first several chapters - V whfg sbhaq vg gbb cnvashy gb jngpu Zvyrf znxvat gubfr fghcvq qrpvfvbaf: V xrrc jnagvat gb lryy "ab! qba'g qb vg!". V ybir gur erfg bs gur obbx, ubjrire. Lrf, V unir fbzr bs gur fnzr ernpgvba gb Zveebe Qnapr ohg abg dhvgr nf ivivqyl.

Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson @ 623: I recently found an online comment form which kept demanding a valid US or Canadian ZIP code, after I'd indicated I was from the UK. Eventually I put one in - and it still said it wasn't valid. I remembered I had an e-mail address for someone from the organisation so I contacted him with both the original comment and information about the bug in the form (with apologies, and asking him to pass both on to the correct people).

#634 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 04:45 AM:

A tangent on Bujold - I saw Lucia de Lammermuir earlier this year in London (because one of the songs was in the fifth element and I've not really seen opera before*). I found myself wishing that the heroine would do something, like Cordelia did in Barrayar. Of course that would ruin the plot, but I realised then that tragic romance stuff isn't for me and my havn't expectations changed in the last 200 years (at least amongst part of the population).
(The boyfriend also managed the most polite dive out of a window head first whilst wearing a kilt that I've ever seen - hard to keep a kilt from going places and revealing things when you are going headfirst out a window, but he managed it)

*Playing the french horn in a production of hte magic flute doesn't quite count.

#635 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 05:05 AM:

Bruces: Really pleased to hear of progressing improvements; hope they continue.

#636 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 07:59 AM:

TexAnne @ 626... Athene's eyes

#637 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 08:28 AM:

Indeed. It was interesting to me that I enjoyed reading it, but I think a comparable scene in a movie or television show would have had me switching it off. I really dislike what I think of as "comedy of excruciation".

I had a very hard time reading ACC, for precisely that reason, and have never re-read it. The only reason I managed to get through the dinner party was because I kept expecting something to fix it.

Re gray vs grey: I just spell it "grey" all the time, Firefox's spellchecker notwithstanding.

#638 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 08:53 AM:

As a complete aside, for those interested in exchanging questions and answers on the matter of writing...

writers.stackexchange.com opened for public beta recently.

#639 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 09:15 AM:

dcb @ #633, did you see any snow-crazed stoats? (Note: video has no sound. Ads, if any, may have sound. Viewer may make loud sounds, especially on first viewing.)

Just to be an oddball, Shards of Honor is the hardest of the Vorkosigan series for me to read. Avoiding spoilers, I'll just say that I have A Thing for not being in control and for not being believed/respected. Oh yeah, and about parental loyalty.

#640 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 09:49 AM:

For me, "grey" has connotations of Elvishness, thanks to Tolkien preferring this spelling. It's cooler, bluer, more granite-like. "Gray" is more urban, slushy, American, cement-like. If you want some amusing musing on color names, check out Stupid Nail Polish Names and the chart under the August 10 entry in particular...

#641 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 10:07 AM:

Janet Brennan Croft @640: Interesting! To me, "grey" is soft, fuzzy -- i'd use it to describe cloth. "Gray" is the color of a wall or floor. But these are weak connotations -- I switch between spellings pretty much at will.

#642 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 10:29 AM:

Open Threadiness: "Random Hacks of Kindness" competition. I like it.

#643 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 12:11 PM:

AKICIML: I need Latin and Greek (Classical for both, preferably) for "brightest star," "bright star," "glorious star," things like that.

Reason: the relatives of Shannon Tavarez are putting together a foundation in her name, and want to use some phrase like that in the name of the foundation (I'm not clear on why it's not just going to be the Shannon Tavarez Foundation, but they like the star idea). I told Shannon's aunt that "stella splendens" means "splendid star," but I don't have enough Latin to translate the other phrases.

#644 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 12:20 PM:

Xopher: One could just use "stellissima" -- literally, "most starlike", a simple and single word, if one wanted a Latin approach.

#645 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 12:31 PM:

Cool idea, Tom! I'll pass that along.

It occurs to me that Shannon was partly of Jamaican extraction, and so Caribbean terms would also be suitable, though her aunt (whom I worked with at a number of different jobs in New York) would know most Jamaican terms.

#646 ::: Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 02:05 PM:

Xopher @ 643
While I think that Toms idea is gorgeous, you could also use things like

stella ardentissima (from ardens -entis, [hot, glowing, burning, fiery, eager]; )
stella clarissima (from clarus -a -um [bright , clear, distinct]; )
stella luculentissima (from luculentus -a -um [shining , bright, brilliant, splendid] )
stella luminosissima (from luminosus -a -um [bright].)
stella pellucidissima (from perlucidus (pellucidus) -a -um [shining , bright; transparent] )
stella splendidissima (from splendidus -a -um [shining , bright, brilliant; distinguished, outstanding; showy, specious] )

#647 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 02:07 PM:

A quick Google shows it's not in wide use -- there's a MySpace user with that user name, and an Italian association with a Facebook presence. Total of 48K hits on the term in Google. The first two pages include a horse and a porn star, as well as the previous mentioned usernames. Frankly, I'm surprised it's not been snapped up as a trademark -- it might have been, despite not showing up that way early on.

#648 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 02:10 PM:

Oh, and stellissima.com and stellissima.org are taken, but stellissima.net does not appear to be.

#649 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 02:11 PM:

Thanks, Mikael! Would 'stella luminosa' mean "bright star"?

Hmm, Tom, not sure how much of a problem that would be. They're talking to the lawyers about it, so no doubt they'll find out.

#650 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 02:32 PM:

Lila @639: did you see any snow-crazed stoats?

What is the appropriate viewer for that?* My IE just spins endlessly. (We just underwent a software "upgrade" in our office, and are still finding things that broke as a result.)

*Or is this one of those things you don't get to see if you live outside the UK?

#651 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 02:40 PM:

I saw it in the US, Jacque, using Firefox. It's pretty silly (and very short).

#652 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 03:08 PM:

Jacque, try this one.

#653 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 03:19 PM:

Best Beloved and I are sitting out the snow in a low-budget hotel in Sheffield, instead of enjoying our new home.

After a most horrendous journey from Bristol yesterday we abandoned our idea of spending the night in a pub on the edge of the moors, and headed for the lower ground of the city centre and the Ibis Hotel, which fortunately had a room for us. The view from the 6th floor is strangely beautiful, but I can't help thinking how much it is costing us.

Our furniture has gone into storage until the side roads off Ecclesall Road are fit to take a furniture van.

We are very grateful to the three girls who patrolled the Jordanthorpe end of the Dronfield bypass, cheerfully pushing cars back onto the gritted track. Random acts of kindness warm the heart.

#654 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 04:08 PM:

tykewriter @653:

Oh, dreadful! What terrible luck!

The best compensation I can offer is that money grows back before memories fade. One day this will be a wonderful, funny, slightly edgy story, like the time Martin had to be rescued by RAF Leuchars after dropping me off in London and taking the train back to St Andrews.

#655 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 04:27 PM:

abi, I'm just wondering how long it will be before one of the UK tabloids does an "I was rescued by a prince" story, now that we Brits have one qualified as an RAF SAR pilot.

#656 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 05:21 PM:

653: I can commiserate. When I moved into an apartment I managed to get my car trapped by a balky U-store gate and ended up spending my first night there at the closest motel I could walk to.

#657 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 05:26 PM:

Lila @ 639: no stoats (the video was fun). One fox - probably checking to see if I'd left the greenhouse door open for it (I hadn't, because the one that used to shelter in there all the time* was a road casualty in the spring, I think). Some sparrows, starlings and bluetits on the bird feeders, and one robin.

tykewriter @ 653: sympathies. At least you made it to a hotel... Hope you get to your new home soon.

We were lucky to catch a train home from a beer festival yesterday evening (they were not continuing to the stations further down the line), and my brother-in-law spent several hours crawling round the M25 before getting the car nearly home, but having to walk up the last hill.

I think it's time for a link back to Hypothermia: Cold Blows the Wind Today

* to the point that rainy one day my husband asked if it was still alive, since it had been curled up under the vine when he went out in the morning, and was curled up in the same position when he got home).

#658 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 05:26 PM:

Dave Bell@655: I'm going to go with -9 days.

#659 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 07:14 PM:

Republicans block child nutrition bill

"It's not about making our children healthy and active," said Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee. "We all want to see our children healthy and active. This is about spending and the role of government and the size of government — a debate about whether we're listening to our constituents or not."
In the case of Rep. King, his constituents are probably the Hot Pockets Marketing Council and Concerned American Patriots for Delicious Food.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has also taken a swipe at the first lady's campaign, bringing cookies to a speech at a Pennsylvania school last month and calling the campaign a "school cookie ban debate" and "nanny state run amok" on her Twitter feed.
Yes. Of course. Also, they hate our freedom.
The legislation would increase the amount of money schools are reimbursed by 6 cents a meal, a priority for schools that say they don't have the dollars to feed needy kids.
Anyone know a good website on how to take up drinking?
#660 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 08:13 PM:

abi @654. It will indeed be a date to put in our diary, and a story with which to amuse +/- bore people for years to come. The time we moved from Bristol to Sheffield in the worst snowstorm since records began/the last ice age/I dunno, whenever. At the moment, the more I think about accidents on the motorways the more frightened I become. Thinking not about what was in front, but what might have been coming up behind.

Hearing other people's tales of accidents on the motorways doesn't really help.

The wine here does, as does the beer in the very rough-looking pub next door. It's only a short snowy slide away.

I'm still stressed and want to swear a lot because oo look a funny ice clearing thingy coming along the tram tracks.

#661 ::: Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 10:14 PM:

Xopher @ 649
Yup.

Luminosus, -a, -um is bright as in brightly shining light (you'll recognize e.g. luminosity from this root); and stella is feminine. Hence just as you wrote, stella luminosa.

#662 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 11:11 PM:

Stefan Jones @659 - "Anyone know a good website on how to take up drinking?"

Well, www.camra.org.uk would be a good start :-)

Unfortunately, instead of drinking Real Ale tonight, or cheap beer with good Indian food which was what I'd been planning on, I'm staying home and drinking pedialyte, which has, like, stuff that plants crave, but I should be back to normal in a day or two.

#663 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 01:43 AM:

Idle curiosity bug: this appears to be the hotel tykewriter is stranded at.

Unprepossessing might describe it.

#664 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 02:24 AM:

Xopher@643: If you'd like the Greek, it'd be λαμπρός ἀστήρ, or λαμπρότατος if you want the superlative. A poetic synonym would be φᾰεινός or φαενότατος. (Lampros or lamprotatos or phaeinos or phaeinotatos aster.)

Another Latin possibility would be "candida" or "candidissima" -- the Romans seem to have had a remarkably large number of words meaning "radiant" or "splendid". "Glorious" would be "gloriosa". I looked up "glorious" in the online English-Greek dictionary I have bookmarked, and it put me back at λαμπρός.

#665 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 06:29 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 664: Not "candida", please: Candida albicans is a common yeast infection...

Bill Stewart @ 662: Sympathies for the (presumed gastrointestinal) upset which has caused the need to stay home drinking Pedialyte. Hope you're back to real ale (microbrewery beer, for those of you across the pond) soon.

London has had more snow overnight and it's still falling. Later I will wander to the local rail station and see whether there is any chance I'll be able to get into central London tomorrow - I have a memorial service to attend.

Also: Anyone wondering about buying strap-on ice cleats for your shoes? Do it! I just happened to buy a pair of Stabilicers (Sport) on Saturday*. I've now worn them a couple of times and they are great - I can walk on ice just like any solid surface (except for the little crunching noises). And I'm really glad I got the "Sport" versions - in the standard ones, all the spikes were towards the midline and I felt I was rocking over the sides, but these (a bit more expensive) I feel totally stable.

* They were on sale at the London Running Show

#666 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 10:02 AM:

dcb @665, I bought a pair of those last year after the big Oklahoma snowstorms got packed down to ice. I'm looking forward to not using them. Though, alas, I probably will.

#667 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 05:06 PM:

667 Eastern Parkway, the address of the synagogue founded by my great-grandfather in 1918.

There are no uninteresting numbers.

#668 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 07:05 PM:

Various threads: Is this just the coolest Fluorosphere ever, or what?

#669 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 07:32 PM:

669 . . . you don't want to know.

#670 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 09:57 PM:

Charlie has a fabulous picture of Edinburgh in snow. Unfortunately, everybody has to stay home.

I was going to correct the Sidelight about Assange and the CIA until I saw where the link went. Just in case you're wondering, the CIA has an office building (visitor entrance on the right) in a batch of trees in McLean, VA. I've only seen the outer driveway.

#671 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 04:55 AM:

@663: That's the place, Linkmeister. Describes the food too. As the landlord of the pub next door said, it's all ping.
But there's a shop next to the pub that sells hot pork sandwiches...

#672 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 09:24 AM:

i'm in New Jersey for a family funeral; the father of my sister-in-law passed away.

I'm leaving Saturday morning. It doesn't look like I'll have any time to see NYC-area friends. I just wanted to wave hello, and say that if you see a guy on the streets of Hoboken who looks a lot like me, there's a fair chance he actually is me.

#673 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 02:06 PM:

...which were very good, with everything on. Real food. Not ping. Next time I don't think we'll ask for apple sauce as part of the everything.

I took the bus to Banner Cross today and saw the flat. Snow up to my knees on the access road, and the Hill itself is used by local kids as a Cresta Run, so the snow is nicely compacted.

I met the upstairs neighbour and collected our mail. I put the Welcome To Your New Home cards on the mantelpiece to welcome us when we finally get there.

We are checking out of the hotel tomorrow to stay with a friend and her cat in Rotherham. Best Beloved can smoke there, to my annoyance, and Sylvia and I can sing and play music, to his.

#674 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 02:09 PM:

Hyperlocal news update: Woman to take excitable cat to veterinarian tomorrow to have skin condition checked into. Will high-priced spciality cat foods be in the offing*, or will the news be worse that that? Will the visit be accomplished without extensive lacerations to the human? Will the cat consent to be corralled in the first place?

*Since there are four other cats present at meal times, specialty foods for one tends to mean specialty foods for all.

#675 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 02:59 PM:

tykewriter @ #s 671 & 673 -- "ping?" Not a term I know as a food-descriptive. Please elucidate.

#676 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 03:07 PM:

I make my first batches of fudge this weekend. Condensed milk variety. Rocky Road variant.

The victims: Cow orkers who donated big $$$ to the company food drive. One lady wrote a check for $200!

Next week: Hazelnut-coffee and Mint.

#677 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 03:46 PM:

The Illinois state legislature has just passed a civil union bill. Governor Pat Quinn, a Catholic, has announced that he will sign it. Illinois becomes the 11th state in the Union to recognize either civil unions or marriages between members of the same sex.

The legislation provides spousal rights to same-sex partners and grants them legal rights in surrogate decision-making for medical treatment, survivorship, adoptions, and accident and health insurance. The Illinois Catholic Church hierarchy is very unhappy.

Tough s**t.

//Offers the figs to any cardinals, archbishops, and bishops from Illinois who happen to be passing by.//

#678 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 04:54 PM:

Do you figure they'll excommunicate the Governor if he signs the bill into law?

#679 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 05:03 PM:

Of interest to anyone who likes good discussion about gender issues in 19th-century literature: Two Girls, One Sap. Also, the first comment, and the author's response to it, are just priceless.

#681 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 07:07 PM:

Lee @ 679, yes, that comment was particularly tasty in view of the theme of "learned helplessness" included in the original post.

#682 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 07:16 PM:

Linkmeister @675: "ping" is the noise made by a microwave oven, indicative of the food having been frozen and defrosted. At least that is how I understood it.

#683 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 07:43 PM:

apropos of nothing, Teresa, this is for you. Long time readers here will know why upon seeing it...

http://noms.icanhascheezburger.com/2010/12/03/funny-food-photos-happy-hanukkah/

season's best!

#684 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 07:46 PM:

Paula, 683: I'm not sure I'd ever seen one of those in the, er, flesh before...it certainly isn't something I'll soon forget.

#685 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 08:36 PM:

TexAnne, I was stunned at first, too. After, the name of the photoblog is :"my Food Looks Funny."

#686 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 08:37 PM:

TexAnne, I was stunned at first, too. After all, the name of the photoblog is :"my Food Looks Funny."

#687 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 09:01 PM:

Tykewriter, ah. One of those terms perfectly obvious once its definition is revealed. Thanks.

#688 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 09:29 PM:

Scientific American article on why Schadenfreude pie is best shared - it's not just that you don't need all that sugar at once, but it's more fun with a group.

#689 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 09:41 PM:

My brain is cross-wiring that...remarkable picture with the Washington Monument thread. Eep!

#690 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 09:58 PM:

Oh, great -- now I'll never be able to blow out the Hannukah candles.

#691 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 10:45 PM:

Hiked again today, in the Humpback Rock area. Cooold! (By Virginia standards, of course, but it was our first hike this season below freezing.) I was struck by the dominant form of frost, which looked like white hair in strands or clumps, mostly vertical where it hadn't been knocked down. There were sections where the ice-hair was supporting a layer of pebbles and debris. My thought was that there's got to be mythology about this stuff....

#692 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 11:30 PM:

Because sometimes you just have to brag a bit: the IKEA necklace I put in the gallery today. The descriptive tag is even written in Swedish! Click to the next photo for a better look at the focal clasp.

#693 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 11:33 PM:

691
I've seen that kind of ice myself, and it does look odd. (Wiki says it's 'needle ice'.)

#694 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 12:05 AM:

I figured I'd pass this on which is being distributed in various Yahoo newsgroups and see what the folks here think of it.....
=======================================

Sent: Thursday, December 02, 2010 9:34
PM
Subject: [manicreaders] Red Friday! {have
a tissue handy}
 
Last week I was in Atlanta , Georgia attending
a conference. While I was in the airport, returning
home, I heard several people behind me beginning to
clap and cheer. I immediately turned around and
witnessed one of the greatest acts of patriotism I
have ever seen.

Moving through the terminal
was a group of soldiers in their camos. As they began
heading to their gate, everyone (well almost everyone)
was abruptly to their feet with their hands waving and
cheering.

When I saw the soldiers, probably
30-40 of them, being applauded and cheered for, it hit
me. I'm not alone. I'm not the only red-blooded
American who still loves this country and supports our
troops and their families.

Of course I
immediately stopped and began clapping for these young
unsung heroes who are putting their lives on the line
everyday for us so we can go to school, work and home
without fear or reprisal.


Just when I
thought I could not be more proud of my country or of
our service men and women, a young girl, not more than
6 or 7 years old, ran up to one of the male soldiers.
He kneeled down and said 'hi.'


The
little girl then asked him if he would give something
to her daddy for her.




The
young soldier, who didn't look any older than maybe 22
himself, said he would try and what did she want to
give to her Daddy. Then suddenly the little girl
grabbed the neck of this soldier, gave him the biggest
hug she could muster and then kissed him on the cheek.


The mother of the little girl, who said her
daughter's name was Courtney, told the young soldier
that her husband was a Marine and had been in Iraq for
11 months now. As the mom was explaining how much her
daughter Courtney missed her father, the young soldier
began to tear up.


When this temporarily
single mom was done explaining her situation, all of
the soldiers huddled together for a brief second. Then
one of the other servicemen pulled out a
military-looking walkie-talkie. They started playing
with the device and talking back and forth on it..


After
about 10-15 seconds of this, the young soldier walked
back over to Courtney, bent down and said this to her,
'I spoke to your daddy and he told me to give this to
you.' He then hugged this little girl that he had just
met and gave her a kiss on the cheek. He finished by
saying 'your daddy told me to tell you that he loves
you more than anything and he is coming home very
soon.'

The mom at this point was crying almost
uncontrollably and as the young soldier stood to his
feet, he saluted Courtney and her mom. I was standing
no more than 6 feet away from this entire event.



As the
soldiers began to leave, heading towards their gate,
people resumed their applause. As I stood there
applauding and looked around, there were very few dry
eyes, including my own. That young soldier in one last
act of selflessness, turned around and blew a kiss to
Courtney with a tear rolling down his cheek.


We need to remember everyday all of our
soldiers and their families and thank God for them and
their sacrifices. At the end of the day, it's good to
be an American.

RED FRIDAYS ----- Very soon,
you will see a great many people wearing Red every
Friday. The reason? Americans who support our troops
used to be called the 'silent majority'. We are no
longer silent, and are voicing our love for God,
country and home in record breaking numbers.



We are not organized, boisterous or
over-bearing. We get no liberal media coverage on TV,
to reflect our message or our opinions. Many American,
like you, me and all our friends, simply want to
recognize that the vast majority of Americans supports
our troops.

Our idea of showing solidarity and
support for our troops with dignity and respect starts
this Friday -and continues each and every Friday until
the troops all come home, sending a deafening message
that.. Every red-blooded American who supports our men
and women afar will wear something red.


By
word of mouth, press, TV -- let's make the United
States on every Friday a sea of red much like a
homecoming football game in the bleachers.

If
every one of us who loves this country will share this
with acquaintances, co-workers, friends, and family.
It will not be long before the USA is covered in RED
and it will let our troops know the once 'silent'
majority is on their side more than ever; certainly
more than the media lets on.

The first thing a
soldier says when asked 'What can we do to make things
better for you?' is...We need your support and your
prayers.

Let's get the word out and lead with
class and dignity, by example; and wear something red
every Friday.

IF YOU AGREE -- THEN SEND THIS
ON.

IF YOU COULDN'T CARE LESS THEN HIT THE
DELETE BUTTON --- IT IS YOUR CHOICE.. I don't know if
you've seen this, but I couldn't delete
it..


WE LIVE
IN THE LAND OF THE FREE, ONLY BECAUSE OF THE
BRAVE.


THEIR BLOOD RUNS
RED---- SO WEAR RED! --- MAY GOD HELP AMERICA TO
BECOME ONE NATION, UNDER
GOD.



 
 •Drea•



My Offical Website 
Personal
Blog
  Review Blog  Twitter  Facebook  Facebook Fan
Page
 
Wickedly Sexy Romance Yahoo Group


__._,_.___


Your

#695 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 12:36 AM:

Lizzy L @677 wrote about Illinois' civil unions bill.

It is not, by the way, restricted to same-gender partnerships. In fact, a largish constituency that lobbied the heck out of their reps to get it passed is heterosexual seniors.

Allow me an illustrative hypothetical example: Mabel Jones is a widow. Her husband, Harvey, was a fairly well-paid unionized industrial worker; he died twenty or thirty years ago. Mabel didn't work much, if at all, and therefore has little Social Security on her own. In her golden years, she largely lives on Harvey's pension, and his Social Security death benefit.

However, in the last five years or so, she's begun keeping company with Jamie Macrae, a silver-haired gentleman of a similar age who lives in the same retirement community she does. All else being equal, she would quite happily marry him, for whatever time they have left.

However, if she marries, she loses Harvey's pension and instantly has no income at all; they therefore cannot afford to marry. Because they are not a married couple, they cannot share a sleeping room in their retirement community, nor can Jamie be involved with any of her health decisions: he's not her next of kin, her estranged daughter in Hawaii is.

Illinois' civil unions are basically a state-level marriage, only called something else. Jamie and Mabel could get civilly unionized and solve all their problems at once, without actually getting federally married.

Once gender-blind marriage rolls out nationwide, Mabel and Jamie will be back in the same dilemma, but for this little space of time, there's a loophole they can exploit, and the Mabel-and-Jamie lobby is why the LGBT activists actually managed to PASS the civil unions bill this year; they couldn't've done it alone.

#696 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 03:34 AM:

Paula,
sounds like standard My Right Wing Dad material. Usually, this stuff is distributed via email, but you shouldn't be too surprised to see it in politically all-over-the-place Yahoo Groups.

#697 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 04:02 AM:

Paula @ 694:

All right-wing pass-this-to-all-your-friends spams sound like they were written by the same person.

Odds that this event happened? About zero.

#698 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 04:03 AM:

The Hanukkah candle would could use a little whipping cream poured over it to simulate melting wax, I think. I'm surprised the recipe doesn't suggest it.

#699 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 04:08 AM:

I would declare Fridays "Write To Your Representatives And Urge Them To Vote For Veterans' Benefits Day", if I wanted to make one day a week Support The Troops Day. But that would require us to pay for said benefits, which would endanger the tax cuts.

(Do any other Trekkies have a problem with Support The Troops with Red Shirt Day? Or is it just me?)

#700 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 04:26 AM:

By the way, wasn't "blood is red, so we should use red as a symbolic color" originally the idea behind the introduction of red flags as banners of socialist and communist movements, too?

#701 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 04:33 AM:

I believe that red is for blood (or courage), white is for purity, and blue is for fidelity.

(I am now living in my third country whose flag is red, white and blue. It does make it easy to keep track.)

#702 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 04:47 AM:

@700

I don't know if that's what started it, but that's certainly how the song puts it.

The people's flag is deepest red,
It shrouded oft our martyred dead,
And ere their limbs grew stiff and cold,
Their hearts' blood dyed its ev'ry fold.


#703 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 05:01 AM:

Dave Bell #655 - if they privatise the rescue service, I doubt the prince will fly for it.

#704 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 07:36 AM:

Helicopter rescue is very much mixed mode, at the moment. There's the RAF and some directly operated by the Coastguard. And then there are Air Ambulances with a mix of public and voluntary funding.

I wonder how many of the non-RAF pilots were trained by the RAF.

#705 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 09:10 AM:

abi @701:
I believe that red is for blood (or courage), white is for purity, and blue is for fidelity.

(I am now living in my third country whose flag is red, white and blue. It does make it easy to keep track.)

The mythographer/linguist Jaan Puhvel once suggested (in his book Comparitive Mythology) that the prevalence of red/white/blue or red/white/green for European (and some non-European) flags goes back to colors associated with the ancient Indo-European tripartite caste structure: red for warriors/nobles, white for priests, and green or blue for farmers/producers (as in the medieval subdivision of society into "those who fight", "those who pray", and "those who work").

(Wikipedia says the the symbolic meaning of the Iranian flag's colors are red for "valor and sacrifice", white for "honesty, purity, and peace", and green for "vitality, growth, and Islam".)

#706 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 09:17 AM:

Paula, that's a prime example of what Snopes calls "glurge" -- almost-certainly-untrue "inspirational" stories. Personally, I suspect it was concocted to rouse interest in the attached "Red Fridays" proposal, which I don't expect to see take off because most of the people who'd do it have the attention span of gnats. And why didn't you at least snip all the spammy links at the end?

Oh, and according to Snopes, the "Red Fridays" thing has been around since at least 2005, with exactly the result I surmised above.

#707 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 09:20 AM:

So... Canada's flag is about Courage & Purity but no Fidelity, while Québec's has Purity and Fidelity, but no Courage? ("If I only had a heart! A brain! Da Noive!")

#708 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 09:36 AM:

#705 ::: Peter Erwin

Regardless of what Jaan Puhvel suggests, I suggest that the colors of European flags have more to do with what dyes were readily available than they do with Indo-European castes.

#709 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 09:36 AM:

#705 ::: Peter Erwin

Regardless of what Jaan Puhvel suggests, I suggest that the colors of European flags have more to do with what dyes were readily available than they do with Indo-European castes.

#710 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 09:49 AM:

Me @#691, P J Evans #693:

Poking around a bit, I see they're more poetically called (inter alia) frost flowers.

#711 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 10:08 AM:

Briefly going back to Abi's introduction to Open Thread 150, there's an article on BoingBoing pointing to a thread on Reddit about hard-to-translate phrases from various languages. Somebody posted one in Afrikaans, and somebody commented that they could comprehend it directly, since they were Dutch. The reply was that it wasn't surprising, since Afrikaans is just LOLdutch.

#712 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 10:12 AM:

This heartwarming story teaches us that the press is liberal, and that they don't care about soldiers, but that all regular, decent citizens do because they aren't damned liberals. Also, little girls are cute and it's sad when they cry. Because of damn liberals.

Too much glurge. Need antidote. Maybe I can squeeze in a viewing of HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO later. There's a movie that cut through a lot of dreck, and did it without slighting the soldiers (Marines, in this case) or turning them into plaster saints.

#713 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 10:20 AM:

Okay, since all knowledge is contained on Making Light, maybe some of you can tell me if I'm being paranoid or not.

As the WikiLeaks sites and servers skip around to try and stay operating, they're coming under massive DDOS attacks. From the brief explanation on the news last night, the originators of the attacks -- who I somehow suspect have paychecks paid for by my tax money -- sneak malware onto thousands of private computers that then work to constantly clog or stop traffic to and from the Wikileaks sites.

My own security software does a daily scan for spyware. It usually finds 20-30 spyware cookies, picked up in the normal course of Internet browsing, and removes them.

That's 20-30 a day, on average. Yesterday, it found and removed over three hundred.

Holy shit.

I'm wondering if that sudden order-of-magnitude increase has to do with the DDOS attacks on WikiLeaks. Multiply that increase by millions of other average Internet users. The idea that so much effort and resources would go into trying to zombie-bot the computers of average Internet users, all just to attack one organization, sets me back on my heels.

Or am I being paranoid? For a more benign explanation, is it possible that I might have clicked onto some spyware-encrusted webpage that tried to install hundreds of cookies on my computer, all by itself?

Inquiring minds want to know. And hopefully some of the more tech-and-hack-and-security-savvy people here* can tell me if I have actual reason to be concerned, or if I'm imagining boogeymen in my closet.

*I'm not, as is probably obvious, one of those tech-savvy people. To me, computers are still in large part Magic Boxes, wherein little tiny angels whisk information back and forth. Spyware and malware? Those are fallen angels.

#714 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 10:36 AM:

Paula Helm Murray @ 683 ...
http://noms.icanhascheezburger.com/2010/12/03/funny-food-photos-happy-hanukkah/

That picture looks like it's only a small part of the complete recipe for Laurel Cosbie’s Hanukkah Candle Salad (large pdf, see p.53-or-so)

It's worth the download, so you can read about how Laurel likes to cook for her husband, Dick... and, of course, have the exact recipe for your future delectation.

#715 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 11:50 AM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 713:

Offhand, I'd say there's no connection. If, as you say, your security software is reporting "spyware cookies", then these are attempts to place (non-software) markers on your computer to enable a web site to keep track of which other web sites you've visited, which ads you've clicked on, etc. This is different from attempts to exploit security holes in your computer's operating system and turn it into a bot for spam, phishing, or DDOS purposes.

DDOS attacks require organized "botnets" of computers which have been compromised. Trying to create a botnet on the spur of the moment for a DDOS seems less likely and less efficient than using (or renting) a pre-existing botnet, of which there are far too many. I'd guess that the computers being used for these DDOS attackes were probably compromised months or even years ago.

#716 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 12:45 PM:

Thanks all of you who commented. The luminous community comes through again!

#717 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 12:55 PM:

James D. Macdonald @ 708:

Regardless of what Jaan Puhvel suggests, I suggest that the colors of European flags have more to do with what dyes were readily available than they do with Indo-European castes.

I'm doubtful that the set of dye-based colors was really that restricted in the past (e.g., this discussion of dyes available in pre-modern Russia). Puhvel's argument, I think, would be something like: why is it almost always three (rather than one or two or four or five) colors, and why is it almost always red + white + blue/green -- why not more use of yellow, purple, brown, or black?

I'm not by any means married to Puhvel's suggestion; it's a curious one that stuck in my mind when I read Comparative Mythology, but I have no idea whether anyone else has either carried it further or shown it to be clearly wrong. It wouldn't necessarily surprise me, though, if the apparent excess of red-white-blue/green is mostly due to a few very influential accidents.

(The Wikipedia page on the Russian flag mentions theories that the Russain tricolor -- which apparently forms the basis for the so-called pan-Slavic colors of red, white, and blue, and thus the flags of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia -- was inspired by the Dutch flag, so maybe it's really their fault....)

#718 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 01:12 PM:

Peter, 717: Purple and black are *really* hard to get with natural dyes.

#719 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 01:33 PM:

Lizzy L #677:

It occurs to me to wonder:
who has surrogate decision-making rights for medical treatment and survivorship rights for celibate people?

#720 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 01:35 PM:

I think you can trace flag colours pretty directly back to heraldic tinctures:

Yellow
White
Red
Blue
Purple
Green
Black

The flag of the Second Spanish Republic was a tricolour, red, yellow. purple, bearing a coat of arms. Since a function of heraldry was clear distinctions between arms, the colour choices are limited, and you can't put red and blue together. Look at the current Union Flag for an example. The US flag does put blue adjacent to red, but in a way that resembles quartering.

Now, whether the colours have a symbolic significance or not today, it's harder to tell if that symbolism is a driving force in the original use. I think you would expect to see some sign of that in early heraldry. But if white for priests was important, why is white one of the two metals?

#721 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 01:45 PM:

Dave, 720: Because white is really silver, as yellow is really gold.

#722 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 01:49 PM:

Flag colors:

Wasn't one of the earliest uses of flags to signal troops in battle, as in "follow the flag"?

Brightly-contrasting non-nature colors would stand out the best at the range common for fighting.

I haven't figured out how the all-red flags fit into this. "Our people go where the fighting is the worst, for glory"?!

#723 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 02:48 PM:

TexAnne @ 718:

But note that both purple and black are among the traditional heraldic colors that Dave Bell listed. I can certainly think of various medieval emblems that used black. Weren't the Benedictines famous for their black robes?

Moreover, if we're talking about ancient symbolic meanings for colors, then I don't think the availability of dyes is very relevant -- except in rare cases like Tyrian purple becoming associated with royalty.


Dave Bell @ 720:

That's an interesting argument, and I'd be willing to bet that it might explain the varieties of colors found in European flags, though not necessarily why so many are red + white + blue/green (and it may be worth remembering that we're talking about flags from a broader set of countries than those which followed western European heraldic norms.)

.. you can't put red and blue together.
? Are you saying this was a traditional (arbitrary) heraldic distinction? (There are certainly flags which put red and blue together: all the "pan-Slavic color" flags except Croatia's do this.)

#724 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 03:00 PM:

Peter Erwin @ 723:

Purple dye was available, it was just rare and expensive, hence the name "Royal Purple"; only the rich and powerful could afford it. IIRC the only purple dye available until the 17th or 18th century was taken from the murex sea snail, and you needed a lot of snails to dye a robe.

#725 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 03:01 PM:

Peter, 723: Paint is easier to come by than dye. If an emblem started out as a painted object, and then later became the flag, that would influence its colors. And Benedictine black was...really not at all fuliginous. It was really more of a dark dark brown. It is *really* hard to get a deep true black fabric.

Re Dave's 720: I think what he means is that you can't put red on top of or next to blue in classical heraldry. The rules are there to make recognition possible at a distance--you can recognize a McDonald's from a very long way away even if you can't read the word on the sign.

#726 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 03:46 PM:

Peter Erwin #705: You should note that the Spanish and Catalan flags are red and gold (the gold being the same tawny colour as that in the Irish flag, tenné rather than or). The Galician flag, on the other hand, based on the naval harbourmaster's flag of A Coruña, is simple blue and white.

The flag of the Second Spanish Republic was red, gold, and violet. Don Niceto Alcalá-Zamora was not, so far as I am aware, an alumnus of the distinguished institution on Washington Square.

#727 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 03:46 PM:

Ahh, the coastguard. My dad has a long list of complaints about them, starting with the mad amalgamations and cost cutting exercises which meant you are unlikely to end up speaking to someone who actually knows anything about sailing and how to find out where you are and what your location means. Time was you could say "Help I'm at X", and some one on duty would say "Oh, thats there", but now they demand a grid reference, which is a bit tricky if your electrics have gone out and your boat is sinking.

#728 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 03:54 PM:

AKICIML: I want to know what companies still make good mechanical pocket watches. Anyone have any particular favorites and/or know of a website that opines on such matters?

#729 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 04:13 PM:

TexAnne @ 725... Ah, Making Light, where in one person's comment we see the words 'fuliginous', 'heraldry' and... McDonald's?

#730 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 04:30 PM:

heresiarch @728 said: I want to know what companies still make good mechanical pocket watches. Anyone have any particular favorites and/or know of a website that opines on such matters?

I used to like Fossil's, but apparently they only have one model anymore, which is sucktastic. Swiss Army does some nice sturdy ones (some of them in single-piece machined stainless-steel cases, suitable for running over with a truck if necessary).

Doing a Froogle search for 'pocket watch' turns up more brands to investigate.

#731 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 04:53 PM:

It's been a while since I posted any verse or song here, so...

All-American Lie
(c) Paula Lieberman 2010

A long long time ago
In a galaxy far away or forty-five years ago
I watched it with my teenage angst back in the days of skirts not pants
Saw Scotty, Kirk, Spock, Bones, Uhura too
And Yeoman Rand, Nurse Chapel, Sulu, starting from a time not Zulu
No women in Apollo, for girls it rang part hollow
Young women fell in with Spock and dreamed about his Vulcan cock
With Kirk they paired him with a lock, the day that slash born.

So bye bye all American lie
Kirk and Spock in quite a lock flying up high in the sky,
And Sulu in the closet waits so long for a guy singin'
This can't be the day that I fly,
This can't be the day that I fly.

Did you write the book of love, and do you have faith of good above?
If the laws won't tell you so.
Now do you believe in man-man joy, can man-love save you from a toy and
Can you teach me how to watch real slow?

Well I know that Kirk's in love with Spock 'cause I saw them dancing' in the dock
They both took off their suits, even Starfleet's boots.
I was a lonely teenage nerdy girl, who read SF dreaming other worlds,
But I was in some other whirl, the day that slash born.

I was clueless of bye bye all American lie,
Kirk and Spock in quite a lock flying up high in the sky,
And Sulu in the closet waits so long for a guy singin'
This can't be the day that I fly,
This can't be the day that I fly.

Then for many years the reruns ran, and Trekkers made and kept their stand,
And that is how it used to be.
Then Viacom said restart now but blocked certain ideas and how,
Next Generation it bored me.
And while from it I looked away, the clock was ticking dare I say,
Data's skin was rubber, Next Gen lost some blubber
And while my friends they wrote Star Trek books, though some editors were schnooks
We shook our heads at all the looks, the day that slash was born.

We were singing bye bye all American lie
Kirk and Spock in quite a lock flying up high in the sky,
And Sulu in the closet waits so long for a guy singin'
This can't be the day that I fly,
This can't be the day that I fly

Oh, and there we were all in one place, these generations lost in space,
But had time left to start again.
So come on Trek be nimble, Trek be quick, Star Trek lit a new candlestick 'cause
Fire is a phoenix' biggest friend.
Oh, and Deep Space Nine went on the stage I watched it play and set a gauge,
Those Nielsens born in hell, they broke each Star Trek spell.
And as the show headed into the night, ended in the sacrificial rite I saw
Advertisers feign delight the day that slash was born.

We were singing bye bye all American lie
Kirk and Spock in quite a lock flying up high in the sky,
And Sulu in the closet waits so long for a guy singin'
This can't be the day that I fly,
This can't be the day that I fly

I knew a man who wrote a book, and I asked him for a happy look
But he just frowned and turned away.
I went down to the old bookstore, where I'd seen his novels years before,
But the man there said the books were out of print, mmm.
And on the tube soap operas played, the Trekkers cried though the authors stayed
But no man-love plots were spoken, the social mores so broken.
And those old tropes that I loved the most: space opera, fantasy, and ghosts,
Went off TV the damned left coast, the day that slash was born.

And they were singing
Bye bye all American lie
Kirk and Spock in quite a lock flying up high in the sky,
And Sulu in the closet waits so long for a guy singin'
This can't be the day that I fly,
This can't be the day that I fly.

#732 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 04:55 PM:

Ah, heraldry and flags; now is the time for me to confess.

Dutch Independence day (Bevrijdingsdag, probably better translated as Liberation Day) is May 5. I pointed out that this was a matter that the Netherlands has in common with Mexico. Indeed, I speculated, the Netherlands is Secretly Mexico.

A little bit later, on an idle day, a colleague and I created this abomination of heraldry.

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

#733 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 04:59 PM:

oops, word missed from line:
Young women fell in with Spock and dreamed about his Vulcan cock
should be
Young women fell in love with Spock and dreamed about his Vulcan cock

#734 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 05:37 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 726:

Peter Erwin #705: You should note that the Spanish and Catalan flags are red and gold (the gold being the same tawny colour as that in the Irish flag, tenné rather than or). The Galician flag, on the other hand, based on the naval harbourmaster's flag of A Coruña, is simple blue and white.

Having lived in Spain, and now in Germany, I can certainly testify to the existence of flags that use red and gold (and black, in the German case) ;-)

But isn't the third color of the Irish flag properly orange -- as opposed to the amarillo-gualda of the Spanish flag -- in an attempt to suggest unity between (Catholic) Irish nationalists (green) and Irish Protestants (orange)?[1]

And I have to admit that the Wikipedia page for "tenné" suggests a very brownish sort of orange that looks like nothing in either the Spanish or the Irish flags. I would guess that the Spanish flag's colors are ultimately based on those of the Crowns of Castile ("Gules, a three towered castle Or ..."), Aragon ("Or, four pallets of gules"), and Navarre (complicated, but basically "or" and "gules" with a tiny bit of "vert"). (Descriptions taken from this page.)


[1] Which, oddly, is another link with the Dutch flag, since the red of the latter is also derived from the House of Orange; the Wikipedia article on the Dutch flag claims that the early 17th Century orange dye had a tendency to darken to red, and so they switched to red as the official color.

#735 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 05:45 PM:

Ginger #526 & Xopher #527:

I was taught it as sympathetic fallacy.

#737 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 07:06 PM:

Movie Recco:

Disney's new CGI flick, Tangled, is all sorts of fun.

It's Repunzel, retold. Instead of a prince, she's "rescued" by a thief on the lam. She's literate, an artist, handy with a weaponized frying pan, and can use her hair as a weapon, so it isn't clear why she hasn't vacated the tower on her own . . . I confess to nodding off at a few points, due to fatigue not boredom. Great fun, with some great slapstick and derring do. The witch comes to a surprisingly Grimm end.

I gotta say, Disney's own CGI studio is approaching Pixar in quality, but with John Lesseter in the cockpit for this one maybe that's not surprising.

#738 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 08:27 PM:

My short review of TANGLED, reprinted from somewhere:

Best. Disney. Horse. Ever!

#739 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 08:27 PM:

Erik Nelson, #719, someone(s) authorized by the celibate person as power of attorney and executor (maybe will, living trust, etc., depending on circumstances). It's about $1000 with a good lawyer, when you already have an idea of how you want things to go. There's a fair number of websites that will tell you what to think about.

#740 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 10:33 PM:

re the fuliginous nanotube-material article Bruce Cohen linked to in #736, if the material absorbs 99.5% of photons, does that it mean it also absorbs the photons' energy?

In short, would the material get really hot under a strong light source? And could that mean the material might have potential for thermal/solar energy production?

(Basically, I'd like to coat a cast iron frying pan with it and see if I could actually fry an egg just with Arizona summer sunlight.)

#741 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 10:39 PM:

Tangled was fun, though I didn't see all of it-- I saw it with a school group and had to leave the theater a few times. What struck me, besides that Rapunzel is good at things, was that while the backgrounds and general look were incredible, the characters had become pretty stylized. I saw Snow White just the day before, and the contrast is amazing. I'm not sure what I think about it; I keep arguing down my initial (and, I suppose, enduring) negative reaction.

The movie passes the Bechdel test, too. The villain is good with feminist-essay caveats (I don't so much want to write them as have a long discussion about female sexuality and Disney villains). What threw me most, combining the two paragraphs, was that Mother Gothel is apparently Betty Boop.

#742 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 11:31 PM:

Betty Boop? I had to go to the credits to be sure she wasn't Cher.

#743 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 11:31 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 740:
would the material get really hot under a strong light source?
Yes

And could that mean the material might have potential for thermal/solar energy production?
Yes, though how practical it would be would depend on questions like how much heat the nanotubes and the glue can take.

I'd like to coat a cast iron frying pan with it and see if I could actually fry an egg just with Arizona summer sunlight.)
I wouldn't be surprised at all if you could fry an egg, but it might not be a good idea to eat it. There's some debate about the toxicity of bulk carbon nanotubes.

#744 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 12:19 AM:

Bruce, #736: I first learned the word "fuligin" from this song.

Speaking of filk, congratulations to Patrick! GAFilk has just announced that he's their Super Sekrit Guest for 2011. See you in a few weeks!

Odd open-thready occurrence: at my show today, a young woman walked past who could have been the living incarnation of Hafidha from Shadow Unit. It was a double-take moment, for sure! I got a picture, which will be up whenever I post another batch.

#745 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 09:58 AM:

HLN: Make the bad[0] sprain go away...

[0] It's only a grade 1, but it's been seriously and annoyingly affecting my mobility! Dammit! I want that replacement vat-grown body _now_ ...

#746 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 10:47 AM:

Re frying an egg in a nanotube-coated pan: not only is there the toxicity issue; with that much surface area I'm betting you'd have a hell of a time getting the egg out of the pan.

Now, a surface of clear borosilicate glass, that let light pass through to the nanotubes to heat them up...?

Might be more useful as a rooftop water-heating tank. At any rate, you sure don't want to have to dust or clean a surface made of tightly packed microscopically small bristles.

#747 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 11:51 AM:

HLN, social pages: Area woman goes on fourth date, stays out until nearly 5 am, sneaks home for a 2 hour nap before delivering son to church and returns, thence to bed. Cats, dogs remain puzzled by the odd arrivals and departures. Woman can't stop smiling. "What are the odds of meeting a woman from western Ukraine, the same region my mother's parents came from (Poland and what is now Ukraine)?" she asked rhetorically. When pressed for further details, she admitted that her date had a background in theoretical physics and works as a software engineer, likes science fiction, and successfully raised a daughter to adulthood. Delighted friends counsel further dates, as soon as can be scheduled.

#748 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 11:54 AM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 740:

Something which absorbs 99.5% of all photons is only absorbing about 5 to 10% more photons -- and thus 5 to 10% more energy -- than "ordinary" black surfaces do already. (Some quick Googling suggests that normal flat black paint absorbs 90-95% of light.)

So you're really not going to get things much hotter with this new substance. If a normal black frying pan doesn't already cook your eggs in the Arizona sun for free, coating it with carbon nanotubes isn't going to help.

#749 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 12:01 PM:

Dave Bell @ 720 and TexAnne @ 725:

I'd forgotten those rules of medieval heraldry (which I guess you can gloss as "white and yellow are light, everything else is dark(er), and you get better contrasts with light vs dark than with dark vs dark or light vs light, so...").

In that context, it's interesting to look at (European) flags and realize that most of them do seem to follow those rules. I'm guessing now that the exceptions tend to be either from regions that didn't really participate in the European heraldic tradition (e.g., Russia), or 19th Century nationalist/revolutionary movements that couldn't be bothered with fussy old rules from the Middle Ages (e.g., Portugal, Germany, Estonia, Lithuania, ...).

#750 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 12:03 PM:

747
quiet cheers, so as not to wake the critters

#751 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 01:34 PM:

Elliot Mason @ 730: "Doing a Froogle search for 'pocket watch' turns up more brands to investigate."

Yes, there are plenty of brands to investigate--that's my problem, really. Given that pocket watches aren't something one buys regularly, there's a lot of risk in buying one without knowing whether it's decent quality or not. Online reviews are nice, but recommendations from people I know are better. Thanks though! Data duly noted down.

#752 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 01:35 PM:

Ginger: good. Oh, very good. I am so glad for you.

#753 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 01:46 PM:

Ginger @ 747... Delighted friends counsel further dates

Yes, delighted friends do counsel further dates.

#754 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 01:49 PM:

Ginger, 747: Hurray! I too counsel further dates.

#755 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 01:54 PM:

heresiarch @751: I can definitely vouch for the Swiss Army ones' absolute durability. The only downside to the one-piece-case ones (with corundum cover) is that changing their batteries is NOT something a non-professional should attempt.

If you can find a self-winding one, you don't need to worry about that part. :->

#756 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 03:22 PM:

abi@701 et seqq

Iirc,

Red is the colour of the new republic, blue is the colour of the sea, white is the colour of my innocence

Bill Stewart @ 711

(and with appropriate apologies to abi, Bombie, Martin Wisse, Fragano and any other Batavophones in the commentariat,) I've suspected, since seeing on a cross-channel ferry twenty years ago warning against high winds the notice 'Voorsicht! Haarde Windkracht' that Dutch is itself lolGerman.
(I've had my FB page set to Dutch for the last year or so, since applying for a job in Belgium eighteen months ago or so - a condition of appointment was that one be able to speak Dutch - not Flemish, oddly and for reasons which I understand but which are tedious to explain; and I thought I could get a start on it by seeing the language used in familiar contexts. The only timjes when I consider changing back are when FB has a privacy-fail and I have to mess around with the privacy settings.)


#757 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 03:57 PM:

And by way of partial restitution to the Batavophones, and also to any Walloons, Flemish or Chti that might be around.

Happy St. Nicholas Day

(3 musical links: my wife suggests turning down the sound on the second one, which is mostly included so that you can see what the first lot are singing about; the last will explain why this story may seem familiar from a Brittish perspective.)

Note:No children were harmed in the making of this post. Not recommended for those on a low sodium diet. May contain nuts.

#758 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 04:19 PM:

praisegod barebones @756 - one of my great-aunts, who grew up speaking German in North Dakota, always maintained that "English is bastard Frisian".

Ginger -- yay!

Everyone -- I highly recommend this, a very nice, seasonal flash mob. (Apologies if it's already been cited.)

#759 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 04:48 PM:

Debbie @758

'Bread, butter, and good green cheese
Are both good English and good Fries'

(or so I've been told.)

(I've also been told recently that the reason English has so little accidence is that it's a creolised language. Does anyone know if that's either true or plausible?)

#760 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 05:12 PM:

759
It's certainly plausible. Being run over by the Norman dialect of French certainly had to have made some major changes to the English language.

#761 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 05:28 PM:

PJEvans @ 760:

That bit's certainly plausible. But is it true, for example, that creolised languages tend to have simpler accidence? Or is that just some kind of prejudice? (and did English lose things like the Anglo-Saxon dual at the right kind of time for this explanation to be plausible?)

(If it's true, it means that Debbie's great aunt is right. Which would be cool, given the context.)

#762 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 05:32 PM:

#747 Ginger

Your ML friends 'n neighbors say YAY also!

Especially about the smile ....

Love, c.

#763 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 05:50 PM:

HLN, shopping edition: large statuary seen above local shopping center. Besides decorative aspects, said statuary serves as useful automobile locator in large parking lot.

#764 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 06:07 PM:

Ginger: congratulations! Definitely, more dates are called for. Besides, Ukrainians are good people (says the guy with 4 Ukrainian grandparents).

#765 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 06:13 PM:

NPR did an almost 6 minute story on Jane Yolen this morning on Weekend Edition Sunday, including quite a bit of air time with her talking. Go here and scroll down about half way to the "Heard on Air" section for streaming audio.

#766 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 07:03 PM:

of interest to dr who fans:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXuhp-V44pc&feature=rec-LGOUT-exp_fresh+div-1r-3-HM

#767 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 07:15 PM:

praisegod barebones @ 759 and P J Evans @ 760:

The "English as Anglo-Saxon/French creole" theory is attractive (I remember the idea occurring to me sometime after learning about creoles), but it apparently doesn't really work -- not unless you loosen the definition of "creole" to include pretty much any moderate amount of language influence, in which case English isn't at all unusual. (The same is true of the "English as Anglo-Saxon/Norse creole" theory.)

From the sci.lang FAQ:

This hypothesis, as Sarah Grey Thomason and Terrence Kaufman have shown in LANGUAGE CONTACT, CREOLIZATION, AND GENETIC LINGUISTICS (1988), rests on an incomplete understanding of creolization and a shaky grasp on the history of English. There is a wide range of language contact situations, from casual contact to deep structural interference; English is by no means the most striking of these cases. It looks like a creole only if one ignores this range of phenomena and labels any case of moderate interference as creolization.

For many of the changes in question, the chronology does not work out. For instance, the reduction of unstressed vowels to /@/, largely responsible for the loss of Old English nominal declensions, had taken place *before* the Conquest, and affected all of England, including areas never settled by the Norse. And English did absorb an immense amount of French and Latin vocabulary, but most of this occurred well *after* the Conquest -- past 1450, two centuries after the nobility ceased to be French-speaking.

[In other words, the loss of inflection for English nouns was already underway before the Norman Conquest. And note that the loss of inflection for verbs was very gradual, with distinct 1st/2nd/3rd person inflections persisting into the Elizabethan era: "I take, thou takest, he taketh".]

Other points to note: 1) most of the simplifications and foreign borrowings seen in English occurred as well in other Germanic languages, notably Dutch, Low German, and the Scandinavian languages; 2) a particularly striking borrowing from Norse, the pronoun 'they', was probably adopted to avoid what otherwise would have been a merge of 'he/him' with 'they/them'; 3) the total number of French-speaking invaders was not more than 50,000, compared to an English-speaking population of over 1.5 million -- nowhere near the proportions that would threaten the normal inheritance of English.
#768 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 07:29 PM:

Ginger #747: Further dates are definitely indicated. As is more smiling.

#769 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 07:49 PM:

767
I IZ NOT A LINGWIST or something like that.
But all the information I could find, looking up creolized languages after #760, made it sound like English could very well be creolized. Or was, at some point, bearing in mind that the 50,000 Normans were running the country, and that the locals (not all of whom were speaking English, and certainly not all the same dialect) would have had some major adjustments to make.

(Also there's a tendency, I think, to assume that English is 'typical' rather than being an outlier in comparison to its relatives on the continent, simply because it's so common. It's changed a lot more than they have.)

#770 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 08:22 PM:

Smiling is still happening, almost involuntarily. I'm on vacation all next week, so possibilities abound. It's quite a reversal from 11 months ago, which now seems almost like another world. I don't need to pinch myself, it's very real and lovely now. It's almost enough to start me shedding poems again, for the first time in years.

#771 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 08:41 PM:

I have a question for someone who is more fluent in physics than I am. We bought two 2-liter bottles of soda a week ago. One was diet root beer, the other diet lemon-lime soda. Both were parked on the unheated porch long enough for slush to begin forming in them, then moved to the fridge. The lemon-lime soda was opened first and drunk more quickly. The ice in it never melted; in fact, it increased slightly. There is still ice in it today, when it is four-fifths empty, and even though nothing else in the fridge is cold enough to ice over. The diet root beer, OTOH, returned to a complete liquid within hours of being moved to the fridge. Why this difference?

#772 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 09:05 PM:

Today marke the 3rd anniversary of Abi becoming a moderator for ML.
Thanks for a great job, Abi!

#773 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 09:17 PM:

Lila @ 639: Thank you so much for sharing the video of the snow-crazed stoats. No only has this household watched it with glee several times, but now we work "snow-crazed stoat" in to a startlingly large proportion of our conversations, and laugh every time. This effect will presumably wear off with time, though "My word, Walter"* is still good for giggles everytime.

*The concluding "..sounds like a good-sized bird just hit the window" is optional. It's from a Far Side cartoon.

#774 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 10:06 PM:

janetl, you're welcome. It's been a favorite of mine since last year, and "snow-crazed stoat" is also a part of our family vocabulary.

#775 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 06:36 AM:

P J Evans @ 769:
I IZ NOT A LINGWIST or something like that.

Neither iz I ;-)

But since Thomason and Kaufman are, and are specialists in language contact and change to boot, I'm inclined to take what they have to say on the subject somewhat seriously. It's possible to read bits of their book via Google Books.

But all the information I could find, looking up creolized languages after #760, made it sound like English could very well be creolized. Or was, at some point, bearing in mind that the 50,000 Normans were running the country, and that the locals (not all of whom were speaking English, and certainly not all the same dialect) would have had some major adjustments to make.

Genuine creoles, I gather, tend to emerge in the space of a generation or so from pre-existing pidgins, or from a situation of multiple languages with no clear dominant one. And the contrasts with the languages that went before are pretty strong and abrupt. Moreover, as Thomason and Kaufman point out, most of the changes that some people have attributed to French influence were already underway before the Norman Conquest, or happened hundreds of years later, which argues against "creolization."

Is the situation of French-speaking Normans running England necessarily that different from, say, Franks running post-Roman Gaul, or Arabs and Berbers running most of Spain for three or four hundred years, or Turks running Bulgaria and Greece until the 19th Century? I don't think anyone seriously suggests that French, Spanish, Bulgarian, or Greek are "creolized" languages.

#776 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 07:03 AM:

Open threadiness: an interesting article on tragedy, comedy, and modern literature.

#777 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 07:24 AM:

praisegod barebones @759:

A while back, for a documentary on the English language, Eddie Izzard went to Friesland and successfully negotiated the purchase of a cow from the Freis-speaking farmer, speaking only Old English.

Here's the video.

Dutch always gets me, in that it takes me longer to parse it as not-English than it does for most languages; it hovers at the edge of intelligibility, as something that feels like I really should understand it.

#778 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 07:55 AM:

Heh... I've recently been sorting and pruning the language room at "my" bookstore. It was largely thanks to Abi's posts that I could recognize when the end of German section had Dutch books mixed in. I know what lorax means about "hovering on the edge of intelligibility", but I suspect it does that for German-speakers too. (German does that for English-speakers too.... AIUI, English is mostly lolGerman grammar and Greek/Roman derived vocabulary.)

#779 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 09:25 AM:

I'm doubtful that the set of dye-based colors was really that restricted in the past (e.g., this discussion of dyes available in pre-modern Russia).

There's a distinct difference between "available" and "common and cheap enough that we want to commit to dyeing flags in it". All sorts of colors were available, but they weren't common.

why not more use of yellow, purple, brown, or black?

Yellow tends not to be lightfast. Purple is seriously expensive. Brown is common--you can get that off sheep! Black is hard to get with natural dyes. (Benedictine robes weren't actually black, as a general rule, or if they were were woven from black wool.)

But note that both purple and black are among the traditional heraldic colors that Dave Bell listed.

Ink and paint are an altogether different proposition than dye. That gorgeous Virgin Mary blue? Painted with crushed lapis lazuli, which doesn't work to dye cloth.

#780 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 09:30 AM:

I saw the Eddie Izzard Fries-shopping trip, and I remain in awe of his brilliance as well as his humor. I'd write more about him, but I hear sudden noises and the kittens are out.

#781 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 09:30 AM:

Mike, 776: I agree wholeheartedly that the loss of Aristotle's Comedy skewed the development of Western literature. But when he says that the Bible "does not contain a single joke," he loses me. Has he ever actually read the thing?

#782 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 09:50 AM:

Yay Ginger!

#783 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 11:50 AM:

From the link Bill Stewart @688 posted:

"And in recent years schadenfreude has become a prime-time staple, with models, boyfriends, parents, overweight people and recovering addicts, among others, routinely humiliated on cable television."

Oh. So that's what I'm supposed to feel if I see one of those segments. In reality, I tend to feel a kind of sympathetic embarassment that I find deeply disturbing. I assume I'm not alone in this?

It does clarify something. I've never understood how anyone can watch these programs. It never occurred to me it could be a basic (and huge) difference in the kinds of emotions such things trigger in different people.

#784 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 11:58 AM:

Reason rapidly-approaching-ω that I avoid the <Canadian-city> Sun:
The new reason to be anti-immigrant: Unlike us, those FOBs are racist and sexist, and we don't want that back in our society.

#785 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 12:45 PM:

Jules (783): Very far from alone.

#786 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 02:06 PM:

Ginger @#747: Hurrah! Hurrah! I agree with the pundits; further dates are definitely called for.

#787 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 02:50 PM:

HLN, last day of class edition: Noon Friday, local woman's husband attempts to cross street bordering campus, runs straight into melee in (very large) crosswalk as scores of architecture students wave styrofoanm sabers at each other during walk lights.

There was a picture of this in the Saturday fishwrap, but for some unknown reason I can find no mention of the event online.

#788 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 03:08 PM:

HLN: Despite it being two weeks before the winter solstice, local woman experiences almost-total absence of seasonally-induced depression and despair; claims to have even felt passing sensations of "good cheer". Local woman reports profound gratitude and some surprise at being able to file this report instead of the kind of reports filed most previous years at this time.

#789 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 03:32 PM:

Serge @772:

I keep forgetting the precise date. Thank you for reminding me.

It's been more of a pleasure than even a really wordy person like me can express. And it's led to so many wonderful things in my life. I'm grateful not just to Patrick and Teresa for letting me play in their sandbox, but also to the entire community for, well, just being yourselves.

#790 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 04:39 PM:

Happy ML anniversary, abi!

Congratulations, Lexica!

As for further dates, well -- I can only agree wholeheartedly. After tonight's bell choir rehearsal, I may be able to meet her for coffee. We shall see.

#791 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 04:47 PM:

Our SF club's traditional Christmas meeting is coming up. Desserts will be served, all of them home-made, and all containing this year's chosen Secret Ingredient - ginger.

#792 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 05:48 PM:

Oh, Serge..you made me blush.

#793 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 06:07 PM:

Ginger @ 747: Squeeee! I'm so happy for you! Sounds wonderful!

#794 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 06:31 PM:

@#747: Congratulations to the other young lady are also in order, I think. As a physics major/software engineer, you can't expect me to take sides in this, can you?

#795 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 07:24 PM:

I may be trying to get an adjunct teaching job. This terrifies me far more than the usual run of jobsearching, as it's semipermanent and not the sort of thing one can stop when one realizes one is bad at it. Also, teaching: I have taken a course in it, I have Opinions, but my practical experience is mostly me scaring students. I am knowledgeable but intimidating, I am told.

Anyone have bits of advice to make this more doable than scary? 'This' being not teaching, but saying that yes, I am a teacher, I guess.

#796 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 07:31 PM:

Diatryma, 795: If you don't like it, you can stop in mid-May. And look at it this way--you're just getting the good stuff, i.e. teaching, as opposed to the unpleasant stuff like committee work and publish-or-perishing (emphasis on the perishing).

#797 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 08:07 PM:

Ginger @ 792... Good, good... :-)

#798 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 08:41 PM:

The idea of "shedding poems" is both encouraging [being happy and finding people who make you happy is an unalloyed good] - but kind of strange at the same time... as the idea of shedding is inextricably linked up, in my mind, with cats. At the moment, with my cat, who does a great deal with it on a white down comforter. But to go back to the thread which spawned that memorable image: Ginger, this sounds like a very good thing indeed.

Diatryma @ 795: Speaking as someone who just finished his first semester of TAing, being knowledgeable but intimidating is not a bad thing. I'd argue that being somewhat intimidating - at the very least to the point where your students know that you won't tolerate their apathy, or even better, where the intimidation factor pushes students to do better to not disappoint you is a very good thing in a teacher. My most memorable undergraduate professors were the extremely knowledgeable ones who believed in pushing students to excel (there's one particular Latinist I remember who I've tried to base my teaching style on). I would much rather have a professor who scares me a little than a timid one. Students can smell timidity, and it will do terrible things to a class (I had one such professor and class this semester, which resulted in some of the more pointed and critical feedback I've ever given in evaluations).

I've spent today being pretty much a mental zombie. It might be from the 9-12 meeting to sort out final grades for the class I was TAing for; it might be realizing that I'm pretty much done with the academic side of the semester... or it might just be my body getting its own back for last week. Now to unpack that a bit. The last few weeks have been on the intense side; I had an abstract deadline last Wednesday, exams to grade on Thursday, a lab presentation on Friday... and that had been preceded by a titanic amount of term paper grading (about 700pgs total) and many, many late nights at the lab trying to make an experiment work [late for values of 10am-2am].

Ok, maybe that previous bit was a bit disorganized and temporally backward, but it feels kind of fitting, given the last couple of weeks. I'm just glad its over and I can go back to just doing research for a while.

Right now though, I'm going to take a crack at a bit of analysis for a class, then make an early night of it and head back to my apartment and cat.

#799 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 08:53 PM:

In fact, it looks like I got the balance right as a TA: one of my students just thanked me by email out of the blue for being a nice, accessible and friendly TA. I guess I'm doing something right.

#800 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 11:07 PM:

This video begins as an interesting meditation on the advent of social gaming and then subtly, slowly transforms into a prediction of a horrifying, Huxleyan dystopia.

#801 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2010, 01:55 AM:

Well, now that I'm home from my late dinner with my new girlfriend, with a date for "tomorrow night" (now tonight), I can safely say things are looking good. Real Good.

Sandy B @794: Thanks for calling us young ladies! She's 50 and I'm 46, but we're certainly carrying on like teenagers, only smarter - and better. For lack of a better word, I think she's totally awesome.

I'm so glad I had to take vacation time this week. Not only will my house get cleaner by the end of this week, I'll have plenty of other things to do besides just clean.

Serge @ 797: I see what you did there!

#802 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2010, 02:00 AM:

Ginger @ 801... Thanks for calling us young ladies! She's 50 and I'm 46

I'm 55.
You are young.

#803 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2010, 04:35 AM:

Serge @ 802: It's all in the mind, really. You're a particularly youthful 55 yourself.

#804 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2010, 04:59 AM:

TexAnne, @781: it's possible his interpretation of the Bible is affected by his introduction to it. In much the same way as it's possible for an entire (schoolroom1) class of people to read Shakespeare and see no passion, no humour, and no ribaldry, you can also read the Bible entirely po-facedly.

1: this phrase could have gone badly wrong without the qualification!

#805 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2010, 07:51 AM:

Ginger @ 803... So says my wife too. She also calls me a sentimental fool. I think she means that in a good way.

#806 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2010, 09:41 AM:

Ginger, that's wonderful news! I'm kvelling.

#807 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2010, 12:32 PM:

Diatryma @795: "Knowledgeable but intimidating" is going to sound fantastic to a large portion of those who might interview you for adjuncting jobs. Don't be nervous -- your qualifications sound perfectly cromulent to me. Think of how many college courses are taught by first-year grad students on the strength of a one-week orientation, and hold your head high.

A great thing about adjuncting is that twice a year (if you're on the semester system) you get the chance to quit, no questions asked and no professional penalties. A rotten thing about adjuncting is that twice a year, you live in fear of getting the email that says, "Sorry, enrollment's a little low for next semester, but maybe we'll give you a call next fall."

#808 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2010, 01:14 PM:

Andrew Sullivan's face of the day from yesterday is making me think, Eyes Like Callisto would be an utterly fantastic name for a pulp sci-fi novel.

#809 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2010, 02:09 PM:

Diatryma@795: There's nothing like teaching for learning something!

I imagine you know the material quite well. You'll probably run into
corners and strange details you actually don't know off the top of
your head; don't worry about it. I've never seen students object to a
teacher who didn't immediately know the answer to a hard question (but
getting caught faking it is Not Good). Admitting you don't know does
two things -- makes the students who thought of the question feel a
bit smart, but also, gets across that mostly one doesn't need to know
every crazy detail; knowing where to look it up is enough for a lot of
those.

People learn differently. I try to explain a couple of ways, and to
have a book that includes explanations different from some of the ones
I use in class; all in hopes that each student will find some
explanation attached to the class that makes it clear to them. This
is actually an area where modern teaching theory might have something
to offer me (my college was, um, some time ago).

None of the classes I've taken or taught had issues with maintaining
discipline or control in the classroom; so I know nothing about that.

I have a very pragmatic approach to grading, which I got from my
father. I try to make tests that have a wide range of difficulty to
the questions. When I've marked them, I write down the scores in
order. Nearly always, they fall into clear groups, with significant
gaps between them. I label these as A, B, C, and "oh dear". This
gives me considerable lee-way for misjudging questions on the test,
for example. It has the class-relative virtues of grading on a curve,
but does not create the negative social dynamic of "raising the
curve".

I haven't had students or parents trying to contest a grade yet.

I had the additional problem that the things I was teaching (HTML and
Linux) I didn't learn in class. I learned them both mostly by
experience (in both cases I was doing them before books started to
appear). So I didn't have even remembered class structures,
presentation order, and so forth to fall back on.

(Since I mention having taught -- not very much. I've taught two
community college courses (both in subjects I'm very knowledgable in,
that they had no previous course in so I got to make the whole thing
up from scratch). Plus I grew up as the son of a math prof, and
acquired some ideas about teaching there as well as in school. Heck,
I'd forgotten, but in fact I had all but one course or some such
needed to get my secondary teaching certificate back when I graduated
from college, too. Not that I think that's particularly relevant, at
this level.)

#810 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2010, 03:08 PM:

I know that this isn't the least bit surprising, and I know that some people think talking too much about individual cases of outrageous things said or done by individual right-wingers draws attention away from bigger issues, but I just have to link to this.

#811 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2010, 04:02 PM:

Diatryma !795: I do a lot of teaching, sometimes at the last minute (continuing education training for our technicians, etc.), and have taught for years in varied environments.

The key part to teaching is enthusiasm. You already know that you need to be prepared to talk on the subject -- but if you are enthusiastic about your topic, you can convey this to your audience and keep them awake. One method of making it interesting is to make your class slightly interactive, by asking questions instead of just delivering information. Project your voice, move around a little -- more if you like to move it, move it -- and make eye contact with some folks. Smile at them, ask them questions, and show how much you like being there by using your nonverbal language.

I've kept a room full of hard-working techs (some of whom work more than one job, therefore are sleep-deprived) in a dark room, after lunch, with a boring topic (radiation comes to mind) mostly awake for an hour.

years before that, I spoke to my mentor and the other resident for two hours on an incredibly boring topic (mouse nomenclature) and at the end of it my boss had a stunned look on his face. He told me that I might have missed my calling. Veterinary medicine was a stronger call than teaching, but I have enjoyed every chance to teach in the years since.

If you really like teaching, you'll be good at it.

#812 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2010, 04:27 PM:

Ginger @ 811... if you are enthusiastic about your topic, you can convey this to your audience and keep them awake

My 10th grade's chemistry was this little old guy who spoke in a deadpan manner, but his enthusiasm came thru, especially when he lit a magnesium(?) strip in a bowl filled with iron oxyde. A bright flash later, the lab with filled with smoke, and there was a glowing lump of iron digging a hole into the table top.

#813 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2010, 05:37 PM:

I've kept a room full of hard-working techs (some of whom work more than one job, therefore are sleep-deprived) in a dark room, after lunch, with a boring topic (radiation comes to mind) mostly awake for an hour.

I'll be over here in the corner daydreaming about having Ginger come in and teach our in-house trainers how to do it right (and trying not to think about yesterday's class, during which I spent half an hour biting my tongue not to say "and this matters because...?" or "what genius decided to set it up that way?" or "but that makes no sense at all"). Nobody wake me up unless I start snoring, okay?

#814 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2010, 05:59 PM:

The Modesto Kid #808: Aaugh, the Joker got her!

#815 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2010, 08:50 PM:

812
Almost certainly magnesium.

(You got a really good introduction to the thermite reaction. For values of good which probably did not include the school's reaction.)

#816 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2010, 10:23 PM:

Did somebody say thermite?

#817 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2010, 10:32 PM:

When I hear the word 'thermite', I think of "The Thing from Another World", specifically the scene where they use thermite to free the flying saucer from the ice, but instead sending it up in smoke. Oops.

#818 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2010, 10:36 PM:

A really interesting insight from a friend elseNet:

Being cold leads to the same body postures that being scared and hurt does - hunching, tensing, pulling yourself in - and so the posture and muscle memory can trigger the same emotional responses, and thought patterns, and frame of mind.

Abuse survivors who find themselves plunging to the depths of depression during the winter might want to see whether they're reacting to being physically cold rather than to the short days. This is something which could easily be misdiagnosed as SAD.

#819 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2010, 11:04 PM:

"Radiation" sounds inherently interesting to me. Is there a Mad Science gene, do you suppose, or is this learned behavior?

#820 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2010, 11:54 PM:

Serge @ 802:

I'm 64. We're all young.

#821 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2010, 08:31 AM:

Lee @818, I think you may be on to something. Hmm -- my ex always kept the house so frigid year round I walked around like that whenever I was home. That could indeed have contributed to a sense of hopelessness and depression. I do keep my new place warmer and I feel a lot more cheerful most of the time -- well, for many reasons, but I wouldn't be surprised that feeling comfortable enough to uncurl in my own home is part of it.

#822 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2010, 08:57 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 820... I'm 64.

Great. Now I've got that song going on in my mind.

#823 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2010, 10:45 AM:

A working-class hero is something to be.

#824 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2010, 11:00 AM:

Congratulations and kudos to SpaceX for their successful launch and orbiting of the Dragon spacecraft.

http://www.spacex.com/dragon.php

#825 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2010, 12:27 PM:

Synanthropic. Can't remember who, or on which thread, but someone wanted a term for animals which live alongside humans, other than parasite, symbiont or commensal. Anyway, I cou;dn't remember it to comment at the time (which bugged me), but it just popped into my head: synanthropic. So, if the correct person is reading this, I hope this is helpful.

#826 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2010, 12:27 PM:

Synanthropic. Can't remember who, or on which thread, but someone wanted a term for animals which live alongside humans, other than parasite, symbiont or commensal. Anyway, I cou;dn't remember it to comment at the time (which bugged me), but it just popped into my head: synanthropic. So, if the correct person is reading this, I hope this is helpful.

#827 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2010, 01:05 PM:

Steve C @ 824... I first read that as the Dagon spacecraft.

"Houston, we are mi-go for liftoff!"

#828 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2010, 01:29 PM:

And apologies for the double post...

#829 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2010, 04:04 PM:

Lexica @ 813: My father is even better than I am. When I was in college, and had to meet up with him at his college on my way home for whichever vacation it was, I sat in on a class for the first time in years (after all, his field was just boring -- who likes Economics and Finance? Not his children..)

At the end of the hour, not only had I not fallen asleep, I could actually answer his questions. I wish I could be half as good, but I don't teach as often as he did in his career.

Sandy B @ 819: Radiation is one of those topics that can be deadly dull -- I had to watch a radiation safety set of videos when I was a resident, and even though I fast-forwarded through them (it was a chalk talk on tape -- I could read faster than he could say it), I still fell asleep after about 20 minutes. It took me a week to watch all four hours. Watch -- sleep -- wake up -- rewind -- watch -- sleep -- you get the drift.

In contrast, I was given the task of reviewing the basics of radiation (kinds, measurements, etc.) and that's not like handling the x-ray machine to review proper radiologic technique. I found short videos of Cherenkov radiation, photos of Hiroshima, Three Mile Island, and Chernobyl, and pictures of all the scientists who are immortalized as measurements (you know who they are!).

#830 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 02:42 AM:

Two quick questions: one about what was done to a book, and what was written by the author. Tom Whitmore: I'm enjoying that copy of "The Ballad Mongers that you put into the yard sale this summer, but (as you know) someone (either before the Berkeley Public Library discarded it or before you got it) went through and added all sorts of little checkmarks or comments before their favorite paragraphs. In ink. This is driving me nuts because what they think was worthy of marking doesn't match MY opinions at all. Is there anything that will lift most of the ink without damaging the paper?

Now, about the book's contents: Oscar Brand says that "Acres of Clams" is derived from "Rosin the Beau." (There's a 1963 article from the Seattle PI that credits Olympia attorney Francis Henry with the lyrics, whereas Brand doesn't list anyone as having written the words, but we'll leave that one lie for now.) My problem is that every account I've ever seen is that it was adapted from "Men of the West," and when my wife bought me a copy of the song from iTunes it's pretty clear that it's a direct adaptation. Is "Men of the West" "Rosin the Beau" with the serial numbers filed down, or is Brand talking through his hat?

#831 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 04:23 AM:

Casting info is emerging for The Hobbit, and much speculation and ranting ensues.

Sylvester McCoy is cast as Radagast the Brown, which has provoked thoughts of said wizard being accompanied by a young woman with a penchant for high explosives...

#832 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 04:44 AM:

Dave Bell @ 831... It's my understanding that Bilbo will be played by Martin Freeman, better known as Watson on Sherlock and as Arthur Dent in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

#833 ::: Idgecat ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 05:00 AM:

Bruce Durocher @ 830 -- history of that tune in Ireland is it originated as "Men of the West" then the tune was used for "Rosin the Beau".

In the US, "Rosin the Beau" was popular in the 1850's and that's the usual source sited for the tune of "Acres of Clams". Same tune, but the second song set to it is what was best known at the time and place the lyrics for "Acres of Clams" were written.

#834 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 05:04 AM:

Last night's episode of "MythBusters" was a reminder why President Obama, disappointing as he's been on too many fronts, is better than his predecessor. Not only is he a fan of the show, but so are his daughters, and he feels that its message about Science is important to the future of the country. And he thinks that blowing stuff up is cool - presumably as long as nobody gets hurt. That being said, the experiment revisited Archimedes's Death Ray, and got a few hundred high-school kids in a Science Experiment that luckily didn't result in Jamie Hyneman not getting cooked, but he pointed out that the story may have a grain of truth in that he, as the Roman Invader, found it very distracting to do the invasion thing with hundreds of shiny mirrors throwing the sun at him.

Science!

By the way, the show's secondary experiment involved testing whether HellBoy's Big Fist hitting the front of a speeding SUV could result in sending it flying up and above his head. Many a SUV was wrecked in the process.

#835 ::: Idgecat ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 05:05 AM:

aaarrrggghhh
typo -- should be cited not sited...

#836 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 05:26 AM:

Why is it "Rosin the Beau" and not "Rosin the Bow"? That seems odd.

#837 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 05:35 AM:

TexAnne @ 836... Was Rosin some lady's Beau?

#838 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 06:15 AM:

"Rosin the Beau" is a pune, or play on words.

#839 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 07:30 AM:

Nial #838: I would guess it's a fiddle/violin song?

#840 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 08:49 AM:

David Harmon @ 839...

"Oh, of course. which of these instruments do you play?"
"Bull fiddle."
"Fascinating. Do you use a bow or
do you just pluck it?"
"Most of the time I slap it."
"You must be quite a girl."
(Some Like It Hot)

JERRY
Wanna bet?

#841 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 08:52 AM:

Serge @834 So, in re Jamie Hyneman in that experiment ...

Could you say they blinded him with Science?

#842 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 08:55 AM:

Elliott Mason @ 841... One could definitely say that. Also, while those 500 kids weren't able to raise temperatures to the point where Jamie or the sail would combust, it did reach over 200', and the walrus-mustached one would have found that darn uncomfortable, if not for his fireproof suit.

#843 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 10:51 AM:

It's a Simon's Cat Christmas.

#844 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 11:03 AM:

Steve C @ 843... Rocky the Bad Cat has shown a great liking of shiny tinkly things. That's one reason why I thought it might be better to skip the glass ornaments in the Tree this year.

#845 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 11:24 AM:

Bruce Durocher @830: Unfortunately, I don't know anything that's at all efficient for that sort of removal of ink (and I haven't played with it much). What I'd try depends on what kind of ink it is, and how obnoxious; there's almost always some residue left behind. And a faint mark can be just as distracting as a dark one, IME. Ir the marks are small, few, and discreet, a line of whiteout down the page covering the marks might work well; removes the distraction from one point and spreads it over the page.

#846 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 01:14 PM:

Idgecat: thanks for the info. Having never heard "Rosin the Beau" I was confused, since "Men of the West" is absolutely the tune...

TexAnne: Why is it "Rosin the Beau" and not "Rosin the Bow"? That seems odd.

Okay, By God, you asked the question so you'll get Brand's answer, cut enough to constitute Fair use:

"This is the tale of 'Rosin the Beau' which is still sung in Ireland and in America as it was known to the first Irish immigrants:

I live for the good of my nation,
But my children are all bending low.
Still I hope that the next generation,
Is more like old Rosin the Beau.

Irish immigrants sang it in the New World until the melody was one of the best known in the land. It became a popular fiddle tune with the appropriate title 'Rosin the Beau.'"

Niall McAuley: "Rosin the Beau" is a pune, or play on words.

Not based on the lyrics on line it isn't. The singer identifies himself as "Rosin the Beau," so I assume that "Rosin the Bow" came along from fiddlers that had heard the tune but not the lyrics and didn't know what the reference was.

#847 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 01:21 PM:

Tom: thanks for the suggestion. Outside of using time travel and slapping the ballpoint out of the offender's hand the only thing I've ever heard of that would remove the ink is that oxygen stream thing that museums use to work on damaged/to be cleaned paintings--I was hoping you knew of something better. He did about 40% of his notations in pencil, which I can carefully remove, but he had a really heavy hand with the ballpoint which I'll have to suffer through, since a color-blind man shouldn't try to mix whiteout to eliminate additional lines of text added in with ballpoint later...

#848 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 01:57 PM:

Following Lee's comment at 818: I dress in layers in the house, as well as outside it, since I react very negatively to being cold. (I get sluggish, cranky, and stupid.) However, I have noticed that when I'm hungry, I feel colder. If the thermostat is sitting happily at 70 degrees, and I'm freezing, it means I need to eat.

#849 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 02:02 PM:

And a quick look on the internet shows that (and the page is down so you'll have to consult the Archive) someone translated "Acres of Clams" to Esperanto! (I assume it can be sung, but I'm not going to learn Esperanto just for that.) There are also a number of links to Francis Henry's sequel, which covers social malaise, environmental depredation, and regional climate change.

#850 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 04:13 PM:

Depredation is a useful word.

#851 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 05:04 PM:

They1 have just recreated the Antikythera Mechanism in Lego.

1: finally - a "They" with names.

#852 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 05:50 PM:

Ginger @747: I haz teh jelluseez....

I've spent a lot of the last year feeling, in the words of Michael Keaton's Beetlejuice, "Anxious." When I was in Boston for my friend's handfasting, the room I was in was right next to a new couple who spent much of the night, um, shall we say, "pair-bonding."

I did manage to keep my mouth shut at breakfast the next morning, but I did found myself thinking, "Okay, Universe, now that was just plain mean."

#853 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 07:53 PM:

AKICIML question:

If I have the delusion that I could tutor a teenager, in suburban NJ, any ideas where I could volunteer and find out?

#854 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 08:05 PM:

Sandy B @ #853, I just Googled "literacy project new jersey" and got many many hits. You might have to hunt to find one that's operational in your particular suburb, but it looks as though there are plenty to choose from.

#855 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 08:18 PM:

... I didn't specify that I was hoping for math. My bad. I get a lot of "hiring at implausible rates" stuff when I go to lmgtfy.com . I have suspicions.

#856 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 08:40 PM:

A WashPost columnist tries out the Cookulus app which helps you make cookies just the way you like. There's a link to the app. The Post has 27 new cookie recipes, too.

#857 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 09:02 PM:

Walking into my apartment building this evening, the female mormonaries were leaving with food. One of the dishes was two-toned green Jello!

#858 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 12:39 AM:

Jacque @ 852: I have to admit that we are currently in a stage that is known to induce diabetes in the unwary passersby. I've taken to warning my friends to carry insulin. Case in point: we are sending massive quantities of poetry to each other.

Yes, it's that bad. I have been extremely appreciative of my good luck in scheduling a week of vacation at exactly the right time (now).

#859 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 01:11 AM:

Coffee Hazelnut Fudge

Two layers of fudge, one sweet with nuts and spices, the other dark and coffee flavored. Makes TWO pans (13" x 9") of 1" thick fudge; enough to fill several gift-sized tins.

Lower layer:

Three (3) 12 oz. bags of milk chocolate chips (6 cups)
Two cans of condensed milk
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ginger
1 Tbs. of vanilla extract
16 oz. of whole hazelnuts

Upper layer:

Two (2) 12 oz. bags of dark chocolate chips (4 cups)
One can (12 oz.) of evaporated milk
5 cups of miniature marshmallows
4 cups of sugar
5 Tbs of butter, cut up
1 Tbs. of vanilla extract
¼ cup or so of coffee liquor (e.g., kahluha).
1 cup or so of freeze-dried instant coffee

Prep:

Preheat oven to 250 F

Line TWO 13” x 9” pans with aluminum foil. Have another pan and a sheet of waxed paper large enough to cover top of pan ready.

Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour at 250 F.

Lower Layer

This will make a ½” or so layer at the bottom of two pans.

Put condensed milk in a stick-proof pan. Stir in cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, a bit of salt. Add three bags of milk chocolate chips.

Heat the above slowly on low, stirring often.

When everything is smooth, stir in vanilla extract and the toasted hazelnuts. Stir and fold until the nuts are distributed.

Divide up between the two pans. Flatten out the fudge into an even layer with the waxed paper and the bottom of another pan. Poke holes in the top of the lower layer.

Upper Layer:

In a large, heavy pot, mix in butter, sugar, evaporated milk, instant coffee.

Heat on medium until BOILING. Stir constantly for about 4 ½ minutes.

Pour in vanilla extract and coffee liquor. The mixture will spit and boil. This is satisfying in an alchemical sort of way. Mix some more.

Pour in the two bags of dark chocolate chips. Stir until melted in evenly.

Pour in the five cups of marshmallows. Stir until melted in evenly; this takes a lot of work.

Remove from heat. Pour into the two pans. Spread evenly.

Let cool until thoroughly solid. Flop out of pans onto a cutting block. Remove foil. Let cool some more. Cut into small (1") pieces, because this is pretty heavy duty candy.

#860 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 01:30 AM:

I did some baking tonight, which proved to be somewhat more costly than I'd have really liked. I made a flourless chocolate cake... and the recipe ate a cuisinart. Little wisps of smoke coming out of the vents are usually a bad sign - so I disconnected it, transferred the recipe to my backup cuisinart (my mother's for years, until she got a new one and gave it to me) and got the cake in the oven. Put the dead one in the bathtub (empty) to cool off a bit, then wrote "broken" on it and fed it to the dumpster.

I knew I kept the old one for a reason...

#861 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 04:22 AM:

With two pans, you could make Fudge Type A in one pan and Fudge Type B in the other pan. That way, you could stack them to make two inch blocks, and maybe even spread something evil betwixt the two layers to better bind them together. All shall love the fudge and despair.

#862 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 07:45 AM:

Ginger @ 858... my good luck in scheduling a week of vacation at exactly the right time (now)

...a luck that is well deserved, if I may say so myself.

#863 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 10:05 AM:

Serge @ 862: You may indeed say so.

#864 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 10:12 AM:

Ginger @ 863... Have you embarassed your son in public yet, acting like a teenager in love? I hope so.

#865 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 10:24 AM:

Stefan @ 859, ooooo that looks good. And here my plan for tonight was to sit down and figure out the menu for my holiday party next weekend. (I always cook too much. This year will be no exception.)

Jacque @852, I know the feeling. I have some downstairs neighbors who love each other very much, very noisily, and very open-windowedly -- right by where I park my bicycle. Being mired in a dry spell myself, it can get, um, anxious-making.

#866 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 10:25 AM:

Serge @864: Not yet! I think we're too dangerous to be outside without chaperons..once we're no longer randomly inducing diabetic comas, then we'll embarrass him quite happily. It doesn't take much, after all.

#867 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 11:00 AM:

Teresa particles the WikiLeaks page about Anonymous apparently switching tactics, and she asks if it's not vigilantism when corporations do it.

Honestly, I have to wonder. Because, as Richard Mellon infamously explained, the machine guns are necessary— you can't run a coal company without them.

And we all know how central coal is to all our lives. You can't field an army without it.

The word vigilantism seems not to cover all the points.

#868 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 01:01 PM:

Hyperlocal on the Eastern Shore: furnace out for second time in three days, third time this winter. Last nights' barely 20 degrees took out the heating systems all over town. Despite calling before 8 AM we're way down on the list.

Tomorrow is the C'town Historic Houses Benefit Tour for purchasing winter coats for kids. Our house is part of it. Elderly ladies are the docents who sit in here all day (we've planning to go to Baltimore tomorrow). So the heat HAS to be back on.

Fortunately the separate system for heating upstairs is still working. So up here I am, waiting for the heating and oil people to show up. Still waiting, more accurately.

Love, C.

#869 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 01:17 PM:

Something screwy seems to be going on with FaceBook. Yeah, I'm shocked, shocked. This time, it's the box that would allow me to post a new entry. It isn't there anymore.

#870 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 01:29 PM:

Richard Mellon?

[Tappety-tap]

Oh, that bastard. Too much money to be hanged.

#871 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 02:26 PM:

Serge @869 -- there isn't a box any more, you have to click Status next to Share to get the box to show up. I wish they'd stop changing things all the damn time...

#872 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 02:39 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft @ 871... Thanks. One does wonder whose brilliant idea it was that the "status" box should not be the default anymore.

#873 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 02:43 PM:

Serge @ 869:

Assuming you've got the language set to english, there should be a bar at the top saying 'share' and containing icons for 'status', 'photo', 'video' and 'link'. Click 'status' and you should be able to update.

#874 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 02:47 PM:

Oops, left the commment in preview so long that someone else posted first.

#875 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 03:31 PM:

praisegod barebones... Thanks.

#876 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 03:36 PM:

A trivia question or two that I came up with, and I'd like to know if I have the right answers...

(1) Name 3 actors who appeared in Star Trek and in a Stanley Kubrick movie.

(2) What was Ellen Burstyn's first appearance in an F/SF movie/TV production?

Meanwhile, I do wonder why the heck Burstyn's heart-breaking movie "Resurrection" still hasn't been released on DVD.

#877 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 04:01 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @ #860, I did a little baking this morning. Fortunately the new bread machine exuded no smoke.

#878 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 04:44 PM:

Serge @#876:

Any Trek or just TOS? If it's any, Malcolm McDowell is the only one I can come up with without looking in IMDB, which would be cheating. As for the rest, my brain keeps running to Darth Vader being in A Clockwork Orange and Eldon Tyrell being in The Shining, and I can't get it back on the Trek track.

#879 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 04:46 PM:

Gary Lockwood was in the TOS episode (and second pilot) "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and in 2001.

#880 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 05:13 PM:

Mary Dell... Steve C... McDowell and Lockwood indeed are two of the three names I know of. The third actor is John Hoyt, who played the Doctor in "The Menagerie", and a Roman general in "Spartacus". Not sure if there are other actors or actresses I might be overlooking. By the way, Hoyt also was in "Flesh Gordon".

#881 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 08:04 PM:

Tonight TCM is showing a Mexican movie where Santa fights the Devil.
I don't think there's any wrestling involved.

#882 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 08:05 PM:

Later tonight, TCM is showing "The 5000 Fingers of Doctor T", in which a young boy dreams his mom wearing various sexy outfits.

#883 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 08:12 PM:

Serge @ 882:

And vintage pickle juice is drunk.

#884 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 08:52 PM:

Hyperlocal news...

Man's team leader compares him to Arjuna.
Man takes it as compliment, in spite of how the story ends.

#885 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 08:59 PM:

Bruce Cohen (883): And vintage pickle juice is drunk.

Does it wake up with a hangover?

#886 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 09:12 PM:

So come and dress me in the blossoms of a million pink trees!
Come on and dress me up in liverwurst! and camembert cheese!
Come on and dress me up in pretzels, dress me up in bock beer suds! Cause I'm gooooo-ing
--doe-me-dooooooooo-ing--
in my doe-me-doe duds!

(from "Dr.T")

#887 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 09:37 PM:

'Rosin the Beau' is a pun because rosin is what you do to a bow.

(Is there something I'm not seeing that makes my answer silly?)

#888 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 09:55 PM:

grumble Noro grumble knots grumble incomplete color sequence grumble grumble grumble

#889 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2010, 10:10 PM:

Dave Bell @870 writes: "Richard Mellon? Oh, that bastard. Too much money to be hanged."

Aye, that's the magic bit in the header, isn't it?

Murder : Assassination :: Vigilantism : ?????

#890 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 12:16 AM:

Re: pnh's sidelight "Tin soldiers and Nixon's coming". We've been here before, on both sides of the Atlantic1. 'Bout time we learned our lesson: how not to be here again. "There is some shit up with which we will not put."

1. CND, SANE, CORE, NAACP, SDS, and so on for another 50 years or so.

#891 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 01:12 AM:

#881, #882:

"5000 Fingers . . ." is one damn strange movie. The first half is kind of slow, but it gets really trippy and fun once Dr. T drags Bart and the plumber into the dungeon. The guard's school fight song is hilarious, and Dr. T's "Dress me!" song once inspired me to run from the room and dunk my head in cold water. Wierdness overload.

That Mexican Santa film? It was shown in theaters when I was a little kid; I was intrigued by the commercials but never got to go. I found it for $1 at Walgreen's a few years back. It was . . . uhhnhghhh. It begins with a tour of Santa's workshop, where children from all over the world sing and dance and . . . build toys. And then there's Santa's spy room which has a giant pair of lips and . . . nyhaaahaaaaAAAAAHHH! And yes, and actual devil (but apparently not the devil) works to corrupt kids.

"Very atomic!"

#892 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 01:27 AM:

"5000 Fingers" is one of the great weird dream movies (there are several out there). The Dr. Seuss set design is just fantastic!

#893 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 01:42 AM:

Stefan JOnes @ 891... It begins with a tour of Santa's workshop, where children from all over the world sing and dance and . . . build toys

I seem to remember that, when MST3K ripped thru the movie, they made cracks about child labor. As for the giant lips.. Yes, they were freaky.

#894 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 02:00 AM:

"5000 Fingers of Dr. T" is very strange (as you might expect for a live action movie scripted by Dr. Seuss.) The scene where Dr. T and the plumber hero are casting hexes on each other with weird finger motions and wild gestures is just bizarre. And the dungeon elevator song! "First floor dungeon, ordinary tortures: molten lead, chopping blocks and hot boiling oil. Second floor dungeon, jewelry department: neck chains, wrist chains, leg chains, thumbscrews, and nooses of the very finest rope." I like that movie a lot.

#895 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 02:37 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe @ 860: My condolences on your food processor, and I'm glad you had a backup. I shall trot your story out the next time someone eyes my two KitchenAid mixers in a puzzled (or critical) manner. I am curious what exactly killed the poor thing -- chopping the chocolate?

#896 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 02:44 AM:

The Elevator Operator in 5000 FINGERS OF DR. T is one of the scariest guys in cinema. If that's a hood he's supposed to be wearing, why are his eyes on the outside?!

#897 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 02:53 AM:

The Elevator Operator in 5000 FINGERS OF DR. T is one of the scariest guys in cinema. If that's a hood he's supposed to be wearing, why are his eyes on the outside?!

#898 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 07:58 AM:

Hyper(bolic) local news: area woman, inspired by the hyperbolic crochet coral reef, crochets hyperbolic scarf for middle daughter. Daughter professes to be pleased and asks to be instructed in crochet so that she can make one too. Encouraged, woman now plans double helix scarf in Georgia Tech colors for youngest daughter.

#899 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 08:19 AM:

Damn it, somebody cut down the Glastonbury Thorn.

#901 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 10:18 AM:

P J Evans @888 said: grumble Noro grumble knots grumble incomplete color sequence grumble grumble grumble

To me, Noro is one of the most disfunctional, manipulative yarns out there.

Start with: it's utterly gorgeous. Lust-inducing, in anyone prone to yarnlust. The colors! The long repeats! The drape of the finished product!

Then you get to the biasing, the knots, the bits of hay and junk stuck in the fibers. Not to mention, I find most of their mostly-wool blends to be rougher than GARDEN TWINE and impossible to knit with. I'm told Silk Garden is better, but I've never been able to afford to be in the same room with a ball of it ...

Sigh.

#902 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 10:59 AM:

Elliott, 901: I made a 2-row scarf with 2 balls of Silk Garden. (It's waaaay too short. OTOH, it exists, which it wouldn't have if I'd done the usual 4-ball version.) No knots, no hay, no blisters--it was soft coming out of the ball. No weird thick/thin moments, either, although ISTR some parts being overtwisted. If you can find it on sale, I recommend it. (Webs and Elann sometimes have discontinued colors at only-slightly-unreasonable prices.)

#903 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 11:01 AM:

901
This one (Taiyo) is mostly cotton and silk. No junk in it ... but from two skeins, getting one of one transition, two of another and FOUR of most of the rest is a bit much.

I'll start at the missing bit, then match the rest (going either direction) as I can. I hope the two skeins in the other color are more cooperative.

#904 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 11:44 AM:

TexAnne @ 902... I made a 2-row scarf with 2 balls of Silk Garden. (It's waaaay too short. OTOH, it exists

Tricot, ergo sum?

#905 ::: Sam Dodsworth ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 12:10 PM:

Re: "Tin soldiers and Nixon's coming"

Notice the cardboard and duct tape shield in the lower right of the picture? There were a few of those - they had hand grips on the back and (probably) packing foam inside.

I mention them because they were painted as books on the front. I saw them on the day but didn't remember the titles. Luckily, I found an image. "Just William" is my favorite:

http://twitpic.com/3ecq8d

#906 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 02:17 PM:

Serge @876: since no one seems to have responded to your second question, I'll give it a shot: Ms. Burstyn's first appearance in an F/SF work (film or tv) was, as far as I can find, in 1964's Goodbye Charlie under the name "Ellen McRae". Of course, this presupposes you categorize Goodbye Charlie as F/SF, which I do because, hey--Tony Curtis reincarnated as Debbie Reynolds!

If that's not what you had in mind, I look forward to the real answer. :)

#907 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 02:26 PM:

"The 5000 Fingers of Doctor T" is one of my favorite movies. We discovered it quite by accident in the mid-80s, when we used to rent a 16mm movie projector on weekends and take out films from the library. That would be one of the few movies I'd be interested in seeing on blueray, because there are some really strange things in the backgrounds that you can't see on a standard-definition tape or disc. For instance, the names of the books in the bookcases in Doctor T's library.

Every once in awhile I find myself singing "Bottom floor dungeon, evverryyybbbbodddddddy out!". I wish I were a basso, so I could sing that song as the Executioner does.

#908 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 02:31 PM:

The dungeon elevator is one of my two favorite scenes in Dr. T. The movie is promising in places, but for some reason it never quite gels. Two evil skating guys with one beard is good, though. FORBIDDEN ZONE reminds me of it in many ways.

Bruce, the elevator guys eyes aren't outside the hood. They're great big, but they're behind eye holes. And they're fake, but that's the magic of special effects — much more effective than the truly pathetic instrument faking in what should have been a great scene. (And it's a shame the movie's not better, because, y'know, Dr. Seuss and Hans Conried!)

#909 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 04:22 PM:

Open Threadiness:

The soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas is longer than the program itself. Even the uncut version, with modern commercials.

Also, the soundtrack has finally migrated to my iTunes library :)

#910 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 08:51 PM:

Stefan Jones @859, I made The Fudge. Have not attempted to de-pan and cut it yet, but I can attest that licking the spoon after creating each layer was a religious experience. I would recommend chopping the hazelnuts coarsely first, though perhaps they soften enough in their fudgy matrix to cut easily.

#911 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 10:33 PM:

Having heard Stanley Kramer talk about it several times, I can give a bit of insight about the strange structure of Dr. T. Kramer was the producer, and when he couldn't direct it because of other commitments looked for a director that he felt would direct it just as he would have, "and who put up with more meddling from me as a producer than I'd have taken from a producer if the situation had been reversed."

The problem came when the film was due to be released. Kramer told us that his contract with Columbia was that not a frame could be touched as long as any of his films made X amount a week. When Dr. T was screened for Harry Cohn, Cohen left the theater and loudly announced "That bastard has finally made a film I can't release!" Cohn then released the Kramer version without any advertising of any kind short of posters in theater lobbies: no radio, no TV, no print ads. A week later Cohn pulled the film because it hadn't made enough money to be protected and removed over half an hour from it.

Kramer never came across as a bitter guy, but the one film he WOULD NOT SHOW our classes was Dr. T. because he was so upset with what had been done to it. I know that he kept negotiating with Columbia to see if they could come up with an uncut print (or better yet the original negatives) to do a restored version (this was when they were trying to do a restoration of Mad World to the roadshow version, which Columbia had cut hell out of as well), but considering that Lawrence of Arabia was almost lost due to neglect by Columbia (and storage in that salt mine) you can imagine how much luck he had.

#912 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 11:20 PM:

TexAnne @902 spoke of Noro Silk Garden and its siren call, and places that have it for only slightly unreasonably-large amounts of money.

Alas, my current lack of yarn budget means I mostly afford acrylic at the moment, with the occasional on-uber-sale skein of Lorna's Laces sock yarn or similar, for ~$12/400g. And those are splurges.

#913 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 11:27 PM:

I have little time for reading lately, which is especially frustrating when I read M L open threads. I am only up to comment #500, and that far only because I cheated.

But I must comment on the "mincemeat" problem. For some of us store-bought "mincemeat" (like store-bought so many other things) just isn't really real. Real mincemeat contains meat, most often venison, as most often it is made by hunters using up the little scraps. However, I make a helluva fine mincemeat cheesecake, and I recently found, while defragging the big freezer, a packet of frozen stuff labeled "buffalo mincemeat, enough for one cheesecake". I don't actually hunt buffalo, except in the meat counter at the local store which has a "buffalo week" every year.

#914 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2010, 11:31 PM:

Elliott, 912: Ah. Well, then, if I may continue to inveigle you into the ways of iniquity...elann.com has lots and lots of good yarn cheap, as well as a frequent-buyer program that AFAIK doesn't expire.

#915 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2010, 12:24 AM:

Syd @ 906... My original response then would have been wrong as Burstyn/McRae's appearance in Time Tunnel's "Crack of Doom" (aka the Krakatoa story) was 2 years later. And I still want the DVD/blueray of "Resurrection".

#916 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2010, 12:35 AM:

mincemeat cheesecake???

#917 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2010, 01:23 AM:

Snow-crazed stoats: Anyone with ferrets will recognize this as the canonical "weasel war-dance." Often motivated by the presence of "weasel-eating air molecules."

#918 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2010, 02:37 AM:

Older #913: I have little time for reading lately, which is especially frustrating when I read M L open threads. I am only up to comment #500, and that far only because I cheated.

Often I start at the end of an Open Thread and read the posts in reverse order, and back-trace to quoted posts by number, to get the context of the quote, until I read posts I recognize as ones I've already read. There's skipping around involved and prioritizing by post author, so my second pass would start somewhere a few days back and then forward again, to get the posts I might have missed.

I could write an algorithm for this method; it's reasonably effective. If I've blundered and posted a reply that should have taken into account something said in a post I still missed, someone will most likely point it out, thereby improving the quality of the thread.

#919 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2010, 02:44 AM:

#910: I think toasting the hazelnuts makes them easier to slice. I had not trouble dicing the fudge into 1" squares.

I made a two batches -- four pans -- of mint fudge today. Tomorrow, the same amount of coffee fudge. Six tins will go into the holiday raffle at work (part of the toy drive); two to an aunt for Christmas, some to the apartment complex party.

It's nice having a project with a clearly defined end point and widely appreciated results. And that forces one to clean the kitchen before and after.

#920 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2010, 12:19 PM:

Follow-up on teaching: decided not to go for it. Pros are teaching experience to put on the resume and a higher-status kibblejob; cons are that I don't think it would pay as well as the current kibblejob (and I couldn't do both), the time factor, and that it would keep me here on a contract instead of working day to day or on three-week things. I'm willing to jinx myself into employment, but not at the expense of anyone else.

#922 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2010, 10:50 AM:

Re #899: The hopeful thing is, trees have been known to regrow even from trauma that severe. I don't know if hawthorns coppice well, but they might be able to husband the stump along till it starts throwing suckers and then pick one to be the new main trunk.

#923 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 01:04 PM:

Stefan Jones@859: I hope you warn people (like, by labeling the pans) when you've been putting vile brown brew in your chocolate!

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