Now it's cows that use names (sigh)
Language Log (Geoffrey K. Pullum) / 2014-12-20 13:40

According to a sub-headline in Full-Time Whistle, new scientific research has shown that "Cows and their calves communicate using individualised calls equivalent to human names."

How interesting. Cows have enough linguistic sophistication to employ the high-level device of personal naming? Let us delve into the details just a little, without moving away from the article itself.

Even the first paragraph backs off a little: "Cows have distinctive voices and communicate with each other using calls that are individualised in a similar way to human names, scientists have discovered."

Ah! Not so much a linguistic system, more a sort of distinctive vocal timbre; and not so much names as "calls that are individualized in a similar way to human names." Let's go on.

As the article continues, we learn that "cows have their own distinctive sounds and have two separate calls to their calves depending on how close they are. The team found that cows produce low frequency calls when their calves are nearby and higher frequency calls when they are separated from them."

"Moo" in low register for a nearby calf, and "MOO-OO-OOOH!" at a higher pitch when the calf is too far away for that to work.

Not looking much like a naming system at all now, is it? If you see a man tampering with the driver's door of your car, you might shout "Hey!"; and if he doesn't respond because you're too far away, you might shout "HEY!!" again at higher pitch. But "Hey" isn't the man's name!

Next comes a small additional amount of detail from the lead scientist, Dr Monica Padilla de la Torre. Her team "spent almost two years digitally recording the noises the animals made and analysing them with computer software," and she says: "The research shows for the first time that mother-offspring cattle 'calls' are individualised – each calf and cow have a characteristic and exclusive call of their own." So different cows and calves have different voices, and you can tell from the acoustic properties of the vocalizations which cow or calf it is.

Dr Padilla goes on: "Acoustic analysis also reveals that certain information is conveyed within the calf calls – age, but not gender," she added. So it is possible to tell the voice of an old cow from that of a young calf.

That's it. That's the end of the substantive information in the article, except that the scientists involved "believe their analysis will improve animal welfare by giving humans a greater understanding of the 'language' used by cows." But what language are we talking about here? Do they even have nouns? What happened to that "calls equivalent to human names" stuff?

It was based on nothing about the research at all. From personal names in human languages you cannot determine the age of the bearer; and humans do not have low-frequency names for nearby use and high-pitch names for use when further away. It's true that if you're further away you will shout more, at higher volume and pitch, to get someone to hear; but that has nothing to do with naming.

The stuff about cows using names is total, utter… umm… the word I really want is bullshit, though I can see a bit of a problem with the use of that term in the present context. I don't mean it's shit from a male bovine quadruped; I just mean it's (metaphorically) shit.

This is how it always is when journalists get hold of a story that even distantly touches on animal communication. Look at how Full-Time Whistle finished the story off. First they called up a farmer:

One local farmer, James Bourne said the research supported what many farm workers already knew. "A calf certainly knows its mother from other cows, and when a calf blarts the mother knows it's her calf," he said.

So cows can identify the calls of their calves. That's nothing to do with names, is it? "Hey" still isn't the name of the man tampering with your car, even if he recognizes your voice from the way you shout "Hey!".

And finally the article hooks up with one of the stupidest animal communication stories of 2006:

In 2006, a separate study revealed that cows also have regional accents. "I spend a lot of time with my ones and they definitely moo with a Somerset drawl," one Glastonbury farmer told the BBC.

You can read what Language Log had to say about that last piece of nonsense here and here and here. And with regard to similar nonsense (also from 2006) involving dolphins, you can read some gentle skepticism by Mark Liberman here, and some more robustly critical remarks of mine from when the same story resurfaced seven years later here.

The bottom line is that when it comes to language, journalists simply make stuff up. They are shockingly careless in all sorts of ways (in accuracy of quotations, for example, as Mark has pointed out many times), but when it comes to animal language it's far worse than that. They actually print what are obviously lies, even when the text of the same article makes it clear that they are lying.

Which is what we what?
Language Log (Mark Liberman) / 2014-12-20 13:40

Charles Belov sent in a link to an AP story that contains a puzzling quote from SONY's CEO Michael Lynton ("Sony responds: 'We had no choice'", AP 12/20/2014):

Since Wednesday when Sony cancelled the film’s Dec. 25 release, the studio has come under withering criticism by those who have said capitulating to hackers sets a dangerous precedent. Everyone from George Clooney to Newt Gingrich has bitterly reproached Sony for what they've called self-censorship that goes against American ideals of freedom of expression. Obama said the same Friday morning.  

‘‘I wish they had spoken to me first,’’ said Obama in a press conference. ‘‘We cannot have a society in which some dictatorship someplace can start imposing censorship.’’  

But in an interview with CNN on Friday, Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton disputed that, saying: ‘‘The President, the press and the public are mistaken about what happened.’’ He also said that he spoke to a senior adviser in the White House about the situation.  

‘‘We were taken by surprise by the theaters, which is what we wanted to do first. Now we’re trying to proceed and figure out what the next steps would be,’’ Lynton told CNN.

As Charles noted, the sentence in bold doesn't seem to make any sense.

This is a classic case of attributional abduction: someone is quoted in the press as saying something that seems incoherent, and we have to reason from the available evidence to some explanation. Did the person quoted actually say it? Did the journalist garble the quotation? Did the passage get messed up by an editor? Does the quotation really make sense, in some way that we aren't seeing?

In general, my instinct is to blame the journalist, and In particular, to guess that the quotation has probably been garbled in the note-taking process. Based on the piece of this interview available on CNN's website ("Michael Lynton, Chairman & CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment with CNN's Fareed Zakaria", 12/19/2014), the garbled quotation theory seems plausible:

Zakaria: Did you make a mistake
Lynton: No. I- I think actually the unfortunate part is in this instance the president the press, and the public are mistaken as to what actually happened.We do not own movie theaters. We cannot determine whether or not a movie will be played in movie theaters.So to sort of rehearse for a moment the sequence of events, we experienced the worst cyberattack in American history, and persevered for three and a half weeks under enormous stress and enormous difficulty, um and all with the effort of trying to keep our business up and running, and get this movie out into the public.When it came to the crucial moment, when a threat came out from what was called the G.O.P. at the time, threatening audiences who would go to the movie theaters, the movie theaters came to us, one by one, over the course of a very short period of time, we were completely surprised by it, and announced that they would not carry the movie.At that point in time, we had no alternative but to not proceed with the theatrical release on the twenty fifth of December. And that's all we did.
Zakaria: So you have not caved in ((to your)
Lynton: We have not caved, we have not given in, we have persevered and we have not backed down, we have- we have always had every desire to have the American public see this movie

It's possible that at some other point in the interview — which I believe will air in a fuller form on CNN tonight — Michael Lynton actually said ‘‘We were taken by surprise by the theaters, which is what we wanted to do first." And maybe that made sense in the context where he said it. But as presented in the AP article, …

 

 

Do You Wanna Build A Linkspam? (19 December 2014)
Geek Feminism Blog (spam-spam) / 2014-12-20 07:40


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Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Listening to Data: on Phantom Terrains
it's her factory (Robin James) / 2014-12-20 05:40

Frank Swain has a hearing aid that sonifies ambient WiFi signals. A Bluetooth-enabled digital hearing aid paired with a specially programmed iPhone (and its WiFi detector), the device, named Phantom Terrains, “translate[s] the characteristics of wireless networks into sound….Network identifiers,...

Ascension, continued
jwz (jwz) / 2014-12-20 05:40

Statler and Waldorf continue their in-depth analysis:

Messages
Edit
Wait. I think ep 3 was the finale!
WTF!
What??
I mean, on one hand, this is the old Catskills joke about "the food at this resort is terrible." "Yes, and such small portions!"
Syfy has a link that says "find out what the cast has to say about the third and final installment"
Wow... Maybe what they have to say is, "Yeah, we can&apost believe it either!"
So basically nothing was even remotely resolved.
I guess that was a six hour pilot?
Sure, but wasn&apost it fun just finding that out? ;)
TV has failed us.
The next time I&aposm with friends who are clearly going home together, I&aposm going to say "Escort them to their sleeping pod!"
Yes, I jumped back in... Episode 3, here we go!
Oh it&aposs really something. So keep me in the loop on your play by play.
Oh I intend to
First best thing: Hulu runs a pregnancy test commercial immediately after the Ostera party selection scene.
Yesss
Morphic resonance takes a minimum of 3 generations to develop. Make a note of that.
You are now waiting for the Orgone Energy namedrop which (spoiler) is not coming.
Ha!
So some people just go ahead and have kids... So that works with their finite supplies and what not.
Sure. They just can&apost run for office.
This guy is wearing a 3 piece suit. He&aposs so important he gets vest fabric.
Anybody crazy and restrained is always able to pull a full Sarah Connor and escape... Anybody.
And anybody crying in a hospital immediately gets 500ccs of happy juice.
Oh yeah, that&aposs like day one hospital stuff. That and orderlies are always really dumb dicks who make fun of the patients
That&aposs why people who want narcotics just go to a hospital and cry. Works every time.
Crazy people are all just crybabies anyway.
"Making a delivery to the lower 40&aposs" is now slang for "blowjob."
When we built this 100 year ship, we made sure parts of it were awesome and luxurious, and parts of it were awful and gross, and we segregated the population between the two, because that wouldn&apost lead to any problems in the long run.
It was the 60s, man. Don&apost you remember the mail room coal stokers on Mad Men?
Oh yeah totally!
And then there are Men In Black...
There are bowls of fresh fruit on the council&aposs meeting table.
That must be a hell of an orchard... on... Orchard Deck.
That&aposs, you know, vat algae apples.
Mmmm...
Burn... Vest guy banished to the lower decks... Waw waw...
He can trade his vest for cigarettes. From Tobacco Deck.
That vest could be made into baby clothes!
"The whole place is on lock-down" means "one armed guard will ineffectually attempt to stop you from escaping when you&aposre already at the parking lot."
Hey. Stop. Stop.
You guys. Stop.
Heyyyyy...
Omg... This hurting me.
Rapey lower deck guy "finding" the officer&aposs lounge is feeling more rapey than, say, terrified that they ship is exploding.
You know how Morlocks are.
Stupid Morlocks.
And then Alf.
I might be close to throwing my shoe.
Waaaait for it
Oh boy...
Did you get to the powdered air yet?
What??? No not yet
Apparently nobody has found the unconscious security guard laying by the parking lot.
We&aposre going full Snowden... Wow... That is some dialoguing.
All CIA agents have a bugout car.
Yes, they all do.
The highest ranking official is the leader the sex-stewardesses.
I just, I can&apost even.
The fake ship was designed to resist the impact of an asteroid... What?
A fake asteroid?
"Get The Hell Off My Bridge" cliche just employed by chief sex-stewardess.
Did anyone say "you just don&apost get it, do you?" I can&apost remember.
I feel strongly that that has been said.
There&aposs a supercut of that line that is pretty amazing.
Haha!
Oh snap! I never said where he worked!
Haaaaa... Lamest grab the gun and shoot you with it EVER.
Also: "Sorry Sweetie, but the Star Child must be born..." That one&aposs a keeper.
Best line in the whole series. And I think I mean that.
Almost over... !!!
Jeezus Hulu has massively packed this with commercials. I should have watched it on a stealy site.
The Star Child... I&aposm just... Wow...
HERE IT COMES... POWDERED AIR!!
So all we have to do is dump our entire supply of powdered air and everything is cool until we order more, right?
Right!
Also, the lack of breathable air seems to only affect people who don&apost need to be doing anything at the moment.
NPC Narcosis
Thank goodness we were able to dump the material in our oxygen scrubbers into a fan. That is clearly the best way to distribute that stuff through a structure bigger than the Empire State Building. Certainly better than using the system as it was designed to work.
Teh fuck... Star Child!!
👍
You&aposre wrong. They are heroes, and they&aposre going to space.
I&aposm just, I... Ow.
Eh!? Eh!?
I... I... No. Oh no... No.
And ROLL CREDITS!
👽👽👽⁉️
Good job, everybody! Put a bow on that and drop it off at ScyFy headquarters!
Wow... That was the greatest living example of "we&aposve actually got nothing here" I&aposve ever seen!
AND ----- SCENE.
Hahahaha!!!
Series finale. We did great work here everybody.
Oh boy, that was so colossally lame.
Practice your acceptance speeches.
Man, nothing so satisfying as a job well done.
"Best use of gratuitous butt shot on basic cable."
Yeah, that was a pretty good and pointless butt shot.
Contractual cheekage.
It would have been better if Alf had just shown up in person. That would have been _better_.
Awright, well, I feel as though I accomplished something today. I&aposm going to bed.
How did they - I mean - this happened.
Money was spent.
Hey everybody got a paycheck... And in the end, that&aposs what really matters...
I just don&apost get it, do I?
Get the hell off my bridge!
Okay, I haven&apost gone to bed yet...
You&aposre an ambitious, power hungry leader of the sex stewardesses and wife of the captain on a ship of with only 600 people on it. You were born there and have lived your entire life in that enclosed environment... And you not only _didn&apost_ already know that 3rd in command was _you_, you had to find that out in the middle of a crisis from a brand new junior officer quoting the regs to you.
Tee hee she&aposs just a girl.
Girls are even dumber than troglodytes!
Huh... So I guess they missed the point in the outside world when the term "upper decker" meant pooping in the toilet tank...
LLOL
Maybe they didn&apost miss it AT ALL.
OH EM GEE...
This series now makes much more sense.
That&aposs just the poop talking, baby. Let it work its magic.
Delivered
Send

Previously.

Ascension
jwz (jwz) / 2014-12-20 05:40

Statler and Waldorf, by whom I mean me and Dr. Kingfish, text while watching shitty, shitty TV:

Messages
Edit
Have you tried "Ascension"?
Yes I watched the first one. Thought it was decent until about 30 minutes after it ended when I realized how stupid it was.
Yeah, that&aposs what I did... It was neat to look at, but basically they just stole the entire premise from Twin Peaks, then spooged out the big "twist" (*koff*) in the very first episode.
I&aposm still deciding if I care enough to watch the next ones.
The whole time I was like - all of this with no ground support? And then the twist - all of this with 1960s tech? Nope.
Yeah.
Unless the program really started in the 80s and half the crew are actors - which I actually suspect.
That works.
No. That&aposs fucking stupid. It&aposs BSG again.
Yeah, I pretty much hated everything about BSG.
So they do have ground support - and they never sent a new song or a newspaper?
Right... How do they not have the ability to receive radio and TV signals...
How do they not have the ability to tell that OPTICAL TELESCOPES are looking at a MATTE PAINTING
Ha! That too!
You don&apost even have to get into Doppler on the radio!!
At the very least, give us a lame script- excuse for all this crap!
They are nightly drugging them into Lost levels of stupidity and incuriosity
Ha!
Also: so over the "you lower level trash" -- because that&aposs what it&aposs like in the space program (and everything.) They totally would have roles that were "just pig farmers."
I almost screamed at the tv when they Spocked the corpse. BIOMASS GOES IN THE GREEN BUCKET.
Haha!!! I thought the same!!
So much for the Soylent dip at the Launch Day party!
At the very least, desicate her and refill a couple buckets in the water reclamation tank!
You just gave me a TV headache.
What to you wanna bet Little River Tam is *actually psychic*? Or that there are angels or some shit?
I&aposm guessing Real Aliens are coming... And they&aposre almost here... Which is why they started the project was started 50 years ago... And annoying kid is being contacted by them, because: TV.
Also: lots of open space on that submarine. Up in the air. Where you can&apost use it.
Ha! Science!
Also I think they were trying to show red and blue shifted stars, but only 30 degrees apart.
And I think you need to be at like 99% of c to get that, which means Centauri in a year, not 100
Woo hoo!
Also, you know, impossible.
That too. Well, BSG was pretty big with the scientific eye-rolling.
Alright that&aposs it... I&aposm going in. I&aposm gonna watch episode 2 of Ascension.
Oh did that air already?
I think 3 did also, but it&aposs only up to 2 on the Hulus.
There&aposs a "what the fuck" in the first 2 min.
Also, how did they fake the g forces --of a spaceship bigger than the Empire State Building-- of the launch 50 years ago?
And what do the "engines" do? I mean, I get they could just be pointed in a direction in space, but somebody has to be running and maintaining something that looks like a power plant, right?
Yup
They probably had them drugged during launch
Oh hey, and I guess they drug everybody anytime they need to go in and upgrade all the surveillance equipment they use to keep tabs on them... Cuz those iPads aren&apost directly wired to those vacuum tube TVs.
Okay, we&aposre putting you in a giant spaceship for 100 years... Make sure you bring enough neckties and 2 piece suits, that never wear out... Oh, and your descendants need to be able to fit in your clothes, so plan for that.
Also, make sure you use your 1960&aposs medicines to ensure the next generation or two aren&apost overwhelmingly all male or something...
Dude is getting shaved with a cake of solid shaving soap. How many of those did they bring when they "left."
They made them from baby fat
Oh right.
60s infant mortality rate.
Spare biomass.
I want my baby back, baby back, baby back...
Also where are all the old people? 51 years is a long time, but it&aposs entirely within reason that there&aposd still be some original crew.
(I know, I know... Biomass.)
Logan&aposs Run!
Renew! Renew!
They retire to the Miami Ark.
So wait. Everyone over 51 was "born" on earth. The captain, the councilman?
Yeah I was trying to figure that out... I think they&aposre saying now that some families came along, with kids.
One of your guesses just came true, btw.
I&aposm 20 min into part 2
Yeah you&aposll see
Apparently the ship runs on coal
Right??
I hate this show.
Hahahaha!
Dr. Fritz Lieber? And the girl is named Valis?
Apparently it&aposs in Helfer&aposs contract that she has to show her ass twice an episode
Hey! Wake up!
When you get to the end of part 3 you are literally gonna throw your shoe at the tv.
And those iPads they invented on the ship - what do you figure their transistor fab looks like? And what part of China mined the rare earth metals for them? Or will we learn that a member of the crew is Dr. John Dee, Actual Alchemist?
They made them from poop.
Delivered
Send

Part 2...

Xinhua breaks ban on puns
Language Log (Victor Mair) / 2014-12-20 01:40

I was going to write "Xinhua brakes ban on puns".  Upon reconsideration, I thought that would only lead to confusion, but it might at least have given an idea of how bad their pun is.

First of all, just so everyone knows, Xinhua is Xinhua ("New China") News Agency, the official press agency of the People's Republic of China.

Carl Minzner tweeted:

Open violation of ban on wordplay! Name of new Chinese state website dedicated to Xi Jinping? 学习进行时

Let's take a closer look at the terrible pun the Party hath wrought.  Bear with me, since this requires quite a bit of unpacking.

xuéxí jìnxíng shí 学习进行时 ("time for / while carrying out study")

We've already mastered the basics of learning / study (xuéxí 学习) in the People's Republic of China through this post:

"Good good study; day day up"
(1/14/14)

Where did this disyllabic word, xuéxí 学习 / [trad.] 學習 ("learn; study"), come from?  In the Confucian Analects, right at the beginning of the first chapter, we find this sentence:

Zǐ yuē:  “Xué ér shí xí zhī, bù yì yuè hū? 子曰:“學而時習之,不亦說乎? ("The Master said, 'Is it not a delight to study and in a timely fashion to practice?")

Chairman Xi's surname is written with the second character of this disyllabic word xuéxí 学习, which was an open invitation to the Xinhua punsters to come up with this awful play on words.

The top part of the traditional form of the character, yǔ 羽, is no. 124 in the list of 214 Kangxi radicals.  It depicts two wings, and is used in characters having to do with feathers, plumes, and so forth.  Before xí acquired the meaning of "practice", it meant "flap the wings like a little bird learning to fly", hence "practice" –> "learn".  But there's no guarantee that Xi's surname, which is rare, has anything to do with this meaning, since it derives from the name of an ancient feudal state or a  place name, originally 少習, in Shaanxi Province, around 2,300 years ago.

Here's the offending Xinhua website.

This is a fancy, and probably very costly, website, quite unlike the run-of-the-mill websites one usually encounters on the Chinese internet.  It opens dramatically, with a grand portrait of a smiling Xi, next to the mortal pun,

xuéxí jìnxíng shí 学进行时 ("time for / while carrying out study"),

with the character written almost twice as large as the other characters and it is in a flourishing, cursive font, whereas the other four characters are in a standard, blockish font.  It is, moreover, in traditional form, whereas all four of the other characters are in simplified form.  If the entire title of the website were in traditional form, it would look like this:  學習進行時.  If it were all in simplified, it would appear thus:  学习进行时.  Instead, what we have is 学进行时, with the 習 in traditional form, ornately cursive font, and nearly twice as large as the other characters.  It would seem that the Xinhua admen were afraid that readers would not catch the chairman's surname in their would-be clever title.

Well, now, we got that.  With Xi's larger-than-life portrait next to his outsize surname embedded in the otherwise pedestrian string of characters, we are quite aware that they want to do something cute with the 習, but what is it? 

Just after the page break above, I translated xuéxí jìnxíng shí 学习进行时 as "time for / while carrying out study", but that's only the surface significance of the phrase.  They clearly want us to interpret the phrase as having something fundamental to do with Chairman Xi.  Following their paronomasial intentions, we might render the double entendre as "while carrying out the study of Xi Jinping['s thought / precepts]".  This earnest desire on the part of the Xinhua propagandists is crudely underscored by the fact that seven tabs across the top of the page are labeled xuéxí 学习 ("study / study Xi this" and "study / study Xi that").  And there are lots of other bells and whistles on the site that emphasize the importance of "study", er, "study Xi".

I'm not sure if the Xinhua punsters were aware of it when they came up with their deathless/ly formulation, xuéxí jìnxíng shí 学习进行时, that it has yet another dimension.  Namely, jìnxíng shí 进行时 is the designation for "progressive tense" in Chinese, hence, "while studying Xi ideology / precepts".  I'm particularly sesitive to this aspect of the title because I had just written two posts on the tenses in Japanese and Chinese:

"Past, present, and future"
(12/4/14)

"Mirai"
(11/19/14)

A few more notes before closing.

First, I had mentioned above that that the Study Xi website under discussion has a much classier appearance than the typical Chinese website which is garish, jammed, and headache-inducing.  After about 8-10 seconds of gazing at the chairman's august visage, a new page comes up smoothly from below.  The site becomes a bit more cluttered at that point, but the design is still far better than most pages one encounters on the Chinese internet.

Second, the Xinhua punsters are rather unoriginal, since already back at the beginning of 2013 there was a big flap over a supposed microblog fan club for Chairman Xi that used the same pun.  It was but a forerunner of the present Study Xi platform.

"Netizen Voices: Doubts Over Xi Fan Club Weiber"
(2/11/13)

Finally, someone will likely come to the defense of Xinhua and declare that they can pun all they want, because the regulations against punning apply only to radio, television, and advertising, whereas Xinhua, being a news agency, is exempt from such bans, but still, come on, especially if you're going to come up with such a humorless equivoque!

"Punning banned in China"
(11/29/14)

"It's not just puns that are being banned in China"
(12/7/14)

[Thanks to Anne Henochowicz]

red shouldered hawk
From decklin's contacts (creativelenna) / 2014-12-19 22:40

creativelenna posted a photo:

red shouldered hawk

December 19, 2014

little blue heron
From decklin's contacts (creativelenna) / 2014-12-19 22:40

creativelenna posted a photo:

little blue heron

with an in-camera art filter - Key Lime.
December 19, 2014

in-camera art filter - Key Lime.
From decklin's contacts (creativelenna) / 2014-12-19 22:40

creativelenna posted a photo:

in-camera art filter - Key Lime.

little blue heron
December 19, 2014

The front Gate
From decklin's contacts (creativelenna) / 2014-12-19 22:40

creativelenna posted a photo:

The front Gate

December 19, 2014

creek along the road
From decklin's contacts (creativelenna) / 2014-12-19 22:40

creativelenna posted a photo:

creek along the road

December 19, 2014

Class D amplifier for home subwoofers?
Philip Greenspun's Weblog (philg) / 2014-12-19 22:40

I am experimenting with in-wall speakers in a new (sort of small) house. There are a couple of in-wall passive subwoofers that I need to drive with a power amp (since home theater receivers don’t include anything other than line-level subwoofer outputs, as far as I know). I might watch a movie once a week and therefore I don’t want to spend too much money and don’t want the IT closet heated up too much if the amp is left on. I’m wondering if a Class D amplifier if the solution. Here are some ridiculously cheap examples:

What’s wrong with this idea, if anything? Has anyone tried using one of these amps to drive a 10″ in-wall subwoofer or similar? I’m assuming that the power output numbers are completely fraudulent but I figure that even if I divide by four it will be enough power.

Open Thread with Giraffe and Skyline
Feministe (tigtog) / 2014-12-19 22:40

A lone giraffe with Nairobi’s city skyline in the background features for this week’s Open Thread. Please natter/chatter/vent/rant on anything* you like over this weekend and throughout the week.

Giraffe - Skyline - Nairobi - Park

A giraffe at Nairobi National Park, with Nairobi’s skyline in background
(By Mkimemia from Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0)

So, what have you been up to? What would you rather be up to? What’s been awesome/awful?
Reading? Watching? Making? Meeting?
What has [insert awesome inspiration/fave fansquee/guilty pleasure/dastardly ne’er-do-well/threat to all civilised life on the planet du jour] been up to?


* Netiquette footnotes:
* There is no off-topic on the Weekly Open Thread, but consider whether your comment would be on-topic on any recent thread and thus better belongs there.
* If your comment touches on topics known to generally result in thread-jacking, you will be expected to take the discussion to #spillover instead of overshadowing the social/circuit-breaking aspects of this thread.


Similar Posts (automatically generated):

Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday
Feministe (Jill) / 2014-12-19 22:40

Promote yourself.


Netiquette reminders:

  • Want to recommend someone else’s writing instead? Try the latest signal-boosting thread.
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Some details are off, therefore the victim lied!
Feministe (Echo Zen) / 2014-12-19 22:40

[O]ur trust in her was misplaced.” Hey guys, that rape survivor we interviewed? She’s totally, like, untrustworthy and everyone should ignore her!

Huh? Why did a middle-aged man who lords over managerial editing at Rolling Stone dismiss his own magazine’s investigation into rape culture at University of Virginia? Did Will Dana discover UVA’s leaders are actually really nice and don’t systematically violate the civil rights of survivors? Did he find evidence refuting UVA’s decades-long reputation for sweeping sexual violence under the rug? Did he obtain a reasonable explanation from UVA’s president for why the school punishes cheaters more than rapists?

Nah, it was much more mundane. For folks not following this case closely – which is understandable, given how much ugliness is erupting simultaneously this month  – here’s literally* what happened…

  1. On November 19th, Rolling Stone published an article examining sexual violence at UVA. Most of it revolved around the alleged gang rape of a student pseudonymed “Jackie”, and the school’s apathy toward addressing rape generally. But the article also cited multiple survivors who reported virtually identical experiences with UVA’s indifference toward preventing rape on campus.
  1. Subsequently, The Washington Post and other media outlets interviewed Jackie or sought statements from the fraternity involved in the alleged attack. Shockingly, the frat denied its members raped Jackie or did anything that could reflect poorly on its proud name. (Surprising, huh?) Equally shockingly, Jackie’s friends told The Post that a whopping two aspects in the article didn’t match what they’d heard from Jackie – firstly the severity of the assault, and secondly the exact frat where one attacker lived.
  1. Caught between competing claims that Jackie’s gang rape wasn’t as awful as had been reported, and the frat’s denial that its members were trained rapists, the editor of Rolling Stone decided a follow-up investigation into those claims was too much trouble and issued a statement on December 5th, attacking Jackie for not giving both sides of the story. “[W]e have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced.

Wait, what? How the hell is that even relevant to the main criticism of your magazine’s article, namely that the writer refused to interview the men Jackie claims assaulted her? Given that the fraternity was obviously going to disagree on whether they really gang-raped Jackie, is that a credible reason to smear your source as a liar?

* Because that’s literally what happened. Rolling Stone reported on Jackie’s rape, and then heard a different story from the alleged rapists. Then the magazine decided, despite the fraternity’s weak attempts at proving nothing happened, versus numerous past complaints and an ongoing federal investigation into UVA’s mishandling of campus rape, that the fraternity’s version of events was enough to dismiss the victim as untrustworthy.

Jackie had asked the writer to not contact her alleged attackers prior to publication, for fear of reprisal. Given the sordid history of schools retaliating against survivors, this was a reasonable sentiment. In fact, given how conservatives are now exploiting the magazine’s dismissal of Jackie’s trustworthiness as an excuse to threaten and harass her, Jackie was indeed correct to fear for her safety.

And that’s the fault of Rolling Stone. Whilst it surreptitiously edited out part of its apology about how “our trust in her was misplaced”, blaming the victim for the magazine’s shortcomings was not only a re-victimisation of Jackie, but an obscenity against victims everywhere.

Nor are the folks at The Post who’ve continued investigating Jackie’s case – basically doing what Rolling Stone arguably should have done first – at fault for smearing Jackie. They never argued that her story was fabricated, merely that holes existed because the magazine didn’t cover both sides. Thanks to the magazine’s cowardly betrayal of a survivor, anti-women conservatives are now having a field day with painting the case as an outright hoax, dismissing violence against women as liberal paranoia.

Even Erik Wemple, writer for The Post and a leading voice for investigating holes in Jackie’s case, reacted with disgust to how Rolling Stone responded by attacking Jackie as a fraud. “[M]isogynistic… victim-blaming” was what he called it. Those on the side-lines had choicer words: “a brutal setback for women”, “a gift to rape apologists” that could set back survivor advocates by “30 years”.

Rolling Stone shouldn’t be ashamed for bad journalism. Even the best outlets end up with subpar stories sometimes. Instead, Rolling Stone should be ashamed for acting vilely toward a survivor. Common decency isn’t too much to ask.


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Open Thread with Twin Otter Pups
Feministe (tigtog) / 2014-12-19 22:40

These rare twin sea otter pups feature for this week’s Open Thread. Please natter/chatter/vent/rant on anything* you like over this weekend and throughout the week.

Mother sea otter with rare twin baby pups (9137187459)

So, what have you been up to? What would you rather be up to? What’s been awesome/awful?
Reading? Watching? Making? Meeting?
What has [insert awesome inspiration/fave fansquee/guilty pleasure/dastardly ne’er-do-well/threat to all civilised life on the planet du jour] been up to?


* Netiquette footnotes:
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Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday
Feministe (Jill) / 2014-12-19 22:40

Promote yourself.


Netiquette reminders:

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A journalist reflects on what she didn’t write 25 years ago in Montreal, and why
Feministe (tigtog) / 2014-12-19 22:40

Shelley Page writing for the Ottawa Citizen: How I sanitized the feminist outrage over the Montreal massacre.

It’s a fascinating piece about how the rage of women at what the massacre represented in the fight for equal opportunity and professional respect was sidelined and gatekept from being part of the national and international discussion of the massacre at the time.

When I review the stories I wrote, I almost never used the word feminist; I never profiled the achievements of one of the slain engineering students or the obstacles she’d toppled. I never interviewed a single woman who was angry, only those who were merely sad. Why? No one told me what not to write, but I just knew, in the way I knew not to seem strident in a workplace where I’d already learned how to laugh at sexist jokes and to wait until a certain boss had gone for the day before ripping down Penthouse centrefolds taped on the wall near his desk.

This particular paragraph rang especially true as an illustration of how microaggressions in the workplace (and generally) operate to perpetuate the status quo via everyday silencing tactics: the targets of the microaggressions are groomed into growing that much-lauded “thicker skin” so they can be held up as a team-player (or else so discouraged that they leave the team), groomed into schooling their expressions to be neutral or approving rather than angry or disgusted, and most especially groomed into self-censoring their first observations so that what they end up saying/writing is less likely to “rock the boat” of cultural complacency. Any target who doesn’t “toe the line” of complying with the expected pattern of “just our little jokes” at their expense ends up isolated and eventually scapegoated, discredited, and sidelined so that the status quo remains in place. This is how social norms are usually, almost subconsciously, reinforced every day in a multitude of small ways. This everyday gatekeeping ends up providing cover for the people whose worldviews are so extremely threatened by social change that they eventually resort to violent terrorism to protect their status quo.

Marc Lépine targeted women who were trespassing on what he saw as male territory because he believed that those women had, simply by existing as STEM students, failed to be deferential enough to the masculine ideal, and this enraged him so much that he decided that anyone he perceived to be a feminist at l’École Polytechnique deserved to die. He had a list of activist feminist targets but when he realised he couldn’t reach them he settled for shooting women who simply had the misfortune to be in range. One of the targeted feminists on Lépine’s list notes the silence about the political basis of Lépine’s crime at the time:

“He was our first terrorist and nobody was treating it that way,” says Pelletier. “Those (engineering) students dared to take the place of men. They represented our future and he was targeting our future — how we imagined ourselves to be.”

Lépine was labelled as simply a “mad killer”. Although the list of his (all-female) targets was released to the press within days, his suicide letter which clearly stated that his intent was to kill feminists was not published until a year later, and then only because it was leaked rather than officially released.

Pelletier calls the mass denial of the fact the crime was against feminists “the untold story of the whole thing.” She and Simard still shake their heads. Imagine, they say, if he’d separated blacks from whites, one ethnic group from another. He would still be considered mentally unbalanced, but it would have been seen as a hate crime, a racist crime.

It would have been so obvious. But women? Somehow they didn’t matter. Both women call it “deeply disturbing . . . depressing.”
[…]
Pelletier remembers an editorial in Quebec City’s Le Soleil that argued “the truth was that the crime had nothing to do with women.” She says late Quebec actor and intellectual Pierre Bourgault was isolated in his argument that “this was the first sexist crime in history.”

Anger smoulders in her voice.

Pelletier describes the message as: “Cool it, girls . . . No one wanted to hear this stuff and, for me, that was such an aha moment.”

Those who feel safe with their position within an oppressive culture never want to hear “this stuff” from the oppressed.

We have seen it over and over again, not just regarding womanhood but on all the intersecting axes of oppression (notably the too many feminists who don’t want to hear “this stuff” from those oppressed on other axes). We are seeing it right now in response to African-American outrage about police shootings of unarmed people of colour. It’s one thing to refuse to be silenced but we need to also make space for listening when it comes to naming and countering oppression in all its manifestations, including the microagressions that are too easy for non-targets to overlook, because they feed the culture of silence about larger injustices.


In Memoriam – 1989-12-06

commemorative plaque in polished stone, deeply engraved with in circle with 14 small silver disks distributed around the circle. Inside, and under the university's logo and the legend


Mtl dec6 plaque” by Bobanny – self-made (derivative of Image:6-dec-Plaque.jpg, tweaked in photoshop). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.


Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student
Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Barbara Daigneault (born 1967) mechanical engineering student.
Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student.
Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student.
Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department.
Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student.
Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student.
Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student.
Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student.
Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student.
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student.

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Open Thread with Darth Side Of The Moon
Feministe (tigtog) / 2014-12-19 22:40

This Dark Side mashup graphic features for this week’s Open Thread. Please natter/chatter/vent/rant on anything* you like over this weekend and throughout the week.

A beam of white light goes through a prism to break up into a rainbow spectrum of coloured rays. The prism is also the mouthpiece of Darth Vader's helmet. A circular badge reads "The Dark Side That's No Moon".

The Dark Side That’s No Moon (found on pinterest, original author uncredited)

There are a gazillion variations on this mashup meme. I like how this one use’s the mouthpiece of Vader’s visor to make the prism.

So, what have you been up to? What would you rather be up to? What’s been awesome/awful?
Reading? Watching? Making? Meeting?
What has [insert awesome inspiration/fave fansquee/guilty pleasure/dastardly ne’er-do-well/threat to all civilised life on the planet du jour] been up to?


* Netiquette footnotes:
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Expert witness: 9-year-old “protect[ed]” from the trauma of her abuse by her low IQ
Feministe (Caperton) / 2014-12-19 22:40

[Content note: sexual abuse, ableism]

In 2010, a 9-year-old, developmentally disabled girl at a school in Los Angeles was sexually assaulted on five different occasions by a fellow student during an after-school program. Her family sued the Los Angeles Unified School District for money to cover the long-term therapy needed from the trauma she suffered.

At the trial, the school district’s expert witness, celebrity psychologist Dr. Stan Katz, testified that her low IQ — estimated at between 64 and 70 — reduced the amount of emotional stress the girl suffered, acting as a “protective factor.”

At trial, Ring asked Katz what he meant when he had testified that the girl’s mental disability “acts as a protective factor.” According to the court transcript, Katz answered, “There’s a relationship between intelligence and depression. What happens is the more you think about things, you can ruminate, you can focus on things, you can look at the complexities of the matter and become more depressed.”

Following up, Ring asked, “So because she may be less intelligent than a general education student, she’s going to suffer less depression because of it?” Katz replied, “Very possible, yes.”

Katz didn’t deny that the girl had suffered, and he said she would require therapy to deal with the trauma.

The assaults against the girl occurred in 2010, when she was 9 years old. Katz testified that when he interviewed the girl in April 2012, whatever emotional problems she may have had at the time were a result of not having her father in her life and her mental disability, not the molestation.

A rightfully disgusted jury ultimately awarded the girl $1.4 million in damages, approximately $1.3875 million more than the LAUSD lawyer, W. Keith Wyatt, had suggested.

In a past trial representing the LAUSD, Wyatt argued that a 14-year-old student was mature enough to consent to sex with her 28-year-old teacher, saying, “She wants to be paid for doing something that she knew was wrong, that she acknowledged was wrong, that she knew was from the beginning. She doesn’t want therapy, she wants money. That’s what they are asking you for.” While the district has said that Wyatt will no longer represent them in lawsuits, they have still retained the firm Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt — and expert witness Katz — on another child abuse case to be tried in February.


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Open Eric Garner thread
Feministe (Caperton) / 2014-12-19 22:40

Please add links in comments.


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→ Accidental Tech Podcast: The Windows of Siracusa County
Marco.org / 2014-12-19 22:40

We wouldn’t use a Siracusa County title lightly.

∞ Permalink

cinimated
Waxy.org Links / 2014-12-19 21:40

animated remixes of scenes from live-action films [via

Said the Gramophone's Best Songs of 2014
Waxy.org Links / 2014-12-19 21:40

ten years of badass year-end mixes  

Theater of War: Quick Takes on Sony’s Surrender
BAGnewsNotes (Michael Shaw) / 2014-12-19 19:40

Curtains.

So much for the Entertainment Industrial Complex.

Kim Jong Un Looked at Things.

Chip off the old Bloc.

Hermit Magic Kingdom.

Perhaps the Pentagon can ship the next spare load of goodies to Culver City.

Somewhere, Borat is laughing his ass off.

The show must go on might go off.

What happened to: “these (Techni-)colors” don’t run?

(photo: Michael Thurston/AFP/Getty Images. caption: Workers remove a banner for “The Interview” from a billboard in Hollywood, California, on December 18, 2014, a day after Sony announced was cancelling the movie’s Christmas release due to a terrorist threat. Sony defended itself against a flood of criticism for canceling the movie which angered North Korea and triggered a massive cyber-attack, as the crisis took a wider diplomatic turn.)

Ascension, continued
jwz (jwz) / 2014-12-19 17:40

Statler and Waldorf continue their in-depth analysis:

Messages
Edit
Wait. I think ep 3 was the finale!
WTF!
What??
I mean, on one hand, this is the old Catskills joke about "the food at this resort is terrible." "Yes, and such small portions!"
Syfy has a link that says "find out what the cast has to say about the third and final installment"
Wow... Maybe what they have to say is, "Yeah, we can&apost believe it either!"
So basically nothing was even remotely resolved.
I guess that was a six hour pilot?
Sure, but wasn&apost it fun just finding that out? ;)
TV has failed us.
The next time I&aposm with friends who are clearly going home together, I&aposm going to say "Escort them to their sleeping pod!"
Yes, I jumped back in... Episode 3, here we go!
Oh it&aposs really something. So keep me in the loop on your play by play.
Oh I intend to
First best thing: Hulu runs a pregnancy test commercial immediately after the Ostera party selection scene.
Yesss
Morphic resonance takes a minimum of 3 generations to develop. Make a note of that.
You are now waiting for the Orgone Energy namedrop which (spoiler) is not coming.
Ha!
So some people just go ahead and have kids... So that works with their finite supplies and what not.
Sure. They just can&apost run for office.
This guy is wearing a 3 piece suit. He&aposs so important he gets vest fabric.
Anybody crazy and restrained is always able to pull a full Sarah Connor and escape... Anybody.
And anybody crying in a hospital immediately gets 500ccs of happy juice.
Oh yeah, that&aposs like day one hospital stuff. That and orderlies are always really dumb dicks who make fun of the patients
That&aposs why people who want narcotics just go to a hospital and cry. Works every time.
Crazy people are all just crybabies anyway.
"Making a delivery to the lower 40&aposs" is now slang for "blowjob."
When we built this 100 year ship, we made sure parts of it were awesome and luxurious, and parts of it were awful and gross, and we segregated the population between the two, because that wouldn&apost lead to any problems in the long run.
It was the 60s, man. Don&apost you remember the mail room coal stokers on Mad Men?
Oh yeah totally!
And then there are Men In Black...
There are bowls of fresh fruit on the council&aposs meeting table.
That must be a hell of an orchard... on... Orchard Deck.
That&aposs, you know, vat algae apples.
Mmmm...
Burn... Vest guy banished to the lower decks... Waw waw...
He can trade his vest for cigarettes. From Tobacco Deck.
That vest could be made into baby clothes!
"The whole place is on lock-down" means "one armed guard will ineffectually attempt to stop you from escaping when you&aposre already at the parking lot."
Hey. Stop. Stop.
You guys. Stop.
Heyyyyy...
Omg... This hurting me.
Rapey lower deck guy "finding" the officer&aposs lounge is feeling more rapey than, say, terrified that they ship is exploding.
You know how Morlocks are.
Stupid Morlocks.
And then Alf.
I might be close to throwing my shoe.
Waaaait for it
Oh boy...
Did you get to the powdered air yet?
What??? No not yet
Apparently nobody has found the unconscious security guard laying by the parking lot.
We&aposre going full Snowden... Wow... That is some dialoguing.
All CIA agents have a bugout car.
Yes, they all do.
The highest ranking official is the leader the sex-stewardesses.
I just, I can&apost even.
The fake ship was designed to resist the impact of an asteroid... What?
A fake asteroid?
"Get The Hell Off My Bridge" cliche just employed by chief sex-stewardess.
Did anyone say "you just don&apost get it, do you?" I can&apost remember.
I feel strongly that that has been said.
There&aposs a supercut of that line that is pretty amazing.
Haha!
Oh snap! I never said where he worked!
Haaaaa... Lamest grab the gun and shoot you with it EVER.
Also: "Sorry Sweetie, but the Star Child must be born..." That one&aposs a keeper.
Best line in the whole series. And I think I mean that.
Almost over... !!!
Jeezus Hulu has massively packed this with commercials. I should have watched it on a stealy site.
The Star Child... I&aposm just... Wow...
HERE IT COMES... POWDERED AIR!!
So all we have to do is dump our entire supply of powdered air and everything is cool until we order more, right?
Right!
Also, the lack of breathable air seems to only affect people who don&apost need to be doing anything at the moment.
NPC Narcosis
Thank goodness we were able to dump the material in our oxygen scrubbers into a fan. That is clearly the best way to distribute that stuff through a structure bigger than the Empire State Building. Certainly better than using the system as it was designed to work.
Teh fuck... Star Child!!
👍
You&aposre wrong. They are heroes, and they&aposre going to space.
I&aposm just, I... Ow.
Eh!? Eh!?
I... I... No. Oh no... No.
And ROLL CREDITS!
👽👽👽⁉️
Good job, everybody! Put a bow on that and drop it off at ScyFy headquarters!
Wow... That was the greatest living example of "we&aposve actually got nothing here" I&aposve ever seen!
AND ----- SCENE.
Hahahaha!!!
Series finale. We did great work here everybody.
Oh boy, that was so colossally lame.
Practice your acceptance speeches.
Man, nothing so satisfying as a job well done.
"Best use of gratuitous butt shot on basic cable."
Yeah, that was a pretty good and pointless butt shot.
Contractual cheekage.
It would have been better if Alf had just shown up in person. That would have been _better_.
Awright, well, I feel as though I accomplished something today. I&aposm going to bed.
How did they - I mean - this happened.
Money was spent.
Hey everybody got a paycheck... And in the end, that&aposs what really matters...
I just don&apost get it, do I?
Get the hell off my bridge!
Okay, I haven&apost gone to bed yet...
You&aposre an ambitious, power hungry leader of the sex stewardesses and wife of the captain on a ship of with only 600 people on it. You were born there and have lived your entire life in that enclosed environment... And you not only _didn&apost_ already know that 3rd in command was _you_, you had to find that out in the middle of a crisis from a brand new junior officer quoting the regs to you.
Tee hee she&aposs just a girl.
Girls are even dumber than troglodytes!
Huh... So I guess they missed the point in the outside world when the term "upper decker" meant pooping in the toilet tank...
LLOL
Maybe they didn&apost miss it AT ALL.
OH EM GEE...
This series now makes much more sense.
That&aposs just the poop talking, baby. Let it work its magic.
Delivered
Send

Previously.

Ascension
jwz (jwz) / 2014-12-19 17:40

Statler and Waldorf, by whom I mean me and Dr. Kingfish, text while watching shitty, shitty TV:

Messages
Edit
Have you tried "Ascension"?
Yes I watched the first one. Thought it was decent until about 30 minutes after it ended when I realized how stupid it was.
Yeah, that&aposs what I did... It was neat to look at, but basically they just stole the entire premise from Twin Peaks, then spooged out the big "twist" (*koff*) in the very first episode.
I&aposm still deciding if I care enough to watch the next ones.
The whole time I was like - all of this with no ground support? And then the twist - all of this with 1960s tech? Nope.
Yeah.
Unless the program really started in the 80s and half the crew are actors - which I actually suspect.
That works.
No. That&aposs fucking stupid. It&aposs BSG again.
Yeah, I pretty much hated everything about BSG.
So they do have ground support - and they never sent a new song or a newspaper?
Right... How do they not have the ability to receive radio and TV signals...
How do they not have the ability to tell that OPTICAL TELESCOPES are looking at a MATTE PAINTING
Ha! That too!
You don&apost even have to get into Doppler on the radio!!
At the very least, give us a lame script- excuse for all this crap!
They are nightly drugging them into Lost levels of stupidity and incuriosity
Ha!
Also: so over the "you lower level trash" -- because that&aposs what it&aposs like in the space program (and everything.) They totally would have roles that were "just pig farmers."
I almost screamed at the tv when they Spocked the corpse. BIOMASS GOES IN THE GREEN BUCKET.
Haha!!! I thought the same!!
So much for the Soylent dip at the Launch Day party!
At the very least, desicate her and refill a couple buckets in the water reclamation tank!
You just gave me a TV headache.
What to you wanna bet Little River Tam is *actually psychic*? Or that there are angels or some shit?
I&aposm guessing Real Aliens are coming... And they&aposre almost here... Which is why they started the project was started 50 years ago... And annoying kid is being contacted by them, because: TV.
Also: lots of open space on that submarine. Up in the air. Where you can&apost use it.
Ha! Science!
Also I think they were trying to show red and blue shifted stars, but only 30 degrees apart.
And I think you need to be at like 99% of c to get that, which means Centauri in a year, not 100
Woo hoo!
Also, you know, impossible.
That too. Well, BSG was pretty big with the scientific eye-rolling.
Alright that&aposs it... I&aposm going in. I&aposm gonna watch episode 2 of Ascension.
Oh did that air already?
I think 3 did also, but it&aposs only up to 2 on the Hulus.
There&aposs a "what the fuck" in the first 2 min.
Also, how did they fake the g forces --of a spaceship bigger than the Empire State Building-- of the launch 50 years ago?
And what do the "engines" do? I mean, I get they could just be pointed in a direction in space, but somebody has to be running and maintaining something that looks like a power plant, right?
Yup
They probably had them drugged during launch
Oh hey, and I guess they drug everybody anytime they need to go in and upgrade all the surveillance equipment they use to keep tabs on them... Cuz those iPads aren&apost directly wired to those vacuum tube TVs.
Okay, we&aposre putting you in a giant spaceship for 100 years... Make sure you bring enough neckties and 2 piece suits, that never wear out... Oh, and your descendants need to be able to fit in your clothes, so plan for that.
Also, make sure you use your 1960&aposs medicines to ensure the next generation or two aren&apost overwhelmingly all male or something...
Dude is getting shaved with a cake of solid shaving soap. How many of those did they bring when they "left."
They made them from baby fat
Oh right.
60s infant mortality rate.
Spare biomass.
I want my baby back, baby back, baby back...
Also where are all the old people? 51 years is a long time, but it&aposs entirely within reason that there&aposd still be some original crew.
(I know, I know... Biomass.)
Logan&aposs Run!
Renew! Renew!
They retire to the Miami Ark.
So wait. Everyone over 51 was "born" on earth. The captain, the councilman?
Yeah I was trying to figure that out... I think they&aposre saying now that some families came along, with kids.
One of your guesses just came true, btw.
I&aposm 20 min into part 2
Yeah you&aposll see
Apparently the ship runs on coal
Right??
I hate this show.
Hahahaha!
Dr. Fritz Lieber? And the girl is named Valis?
Apparently it&aposs in Helfer&aposs contract that she has to show her ass twice an episode
Hey! Wake up!
When you get to the end of part 3 you are literally gonna throw your shoe at the tv.
And those iPads they invented on the ship - what do you figure their transistor fab looks like? And what part of China mined the rare earth metals for them? Or will we learn that a member of the crew is Dr. John Dee, Actual Alchemist?
They made them from poop.
Delivered
Send

Part 2...

How cookies can be used for global surveillance
Freedom to Tinker (Steven Englehardt) / 2014-12-19 17:40

Today we present an updated version of our paper examining how the ubiquitous use of online tracking cookies can allow an adversary conducting network surveillance to target a user or surveil users en masse. In the initial version of the study, summarized below, we examined the technical feasibility of the attack. Now we’ve made the […]

Filtered for washing machines
Interconnected (Matt Webb) / 2014-12-19 13:40

Invalid post.

Connected products trip up the incumbents
Interconnected (Matt Webb) / 2014-12-19 13:40

Coffee morning three! Six of us this time: Josh, Gavin, Alex, Raph, and Daniel. Thanks for coming!

I kept some notes...

Something about commissioning a sit-com pilot about open data?

Sexy turducken. Don't ask.

Fridgeezoo fridge pets. Which are SO CUTE.

And a long, rambling conversation that had no conclusion but - to my mind - is the most interesting consequence of web-connected products and the new hardware startups.

Which is that manufacturers never spoke to consumers before. They spoke with distributors and retailers. But now products are connected to the internet, manufacturers suddenly have a relationship with the consumer. And they literally don't know what to do. Should marketing look after this? Or product development? Or customer service? Or should it be outsourced to an agency, like advertising?

For instance... the "Tips" application on the iPhone. Who looks after that? Who makes sure the content is good? Apple is an exceptional company, and they care about customer experience at every level. But could Bosch do this? Or Magimix?

If companies don't get this right, their products won't be any good. But to get it right, they need to restructure. I saw this challenge multiple times while we were consulting on new connected products.

But the incumbents will find it hard to adapt. Which leaves the door open for new hardware companies who behave more like companies that run websites: In touch with their community, selling direct, a product group that cares about the product in-use not only until the moment it leaves the factory.

Also.

Also we had crackers and festive hats. Proof.

Next coffee morning

I'm loving this different mix of people each time thing. I was fully expecting to sit on my own doing email, and ended up having a brilliant and funny bunch of conversations. A proper little street corner!

Next coffee morning: Thursday 15 January, 9.30am till whenever, the Book Club again.

Pop it in your calendar, it'd be lovely to see you.

Multiple
Language Log (Mark Liberman) / 2014-12-19 13:40

John F. Banzhaf III writes to complain about overuse of "multiple":

Over the past six months I have heard an ever-growing number of TV news anchors, reporters, and talking heads on television use the word "multiple" where "many" – a shorter and less pretentious word – would do as well, if not better.

I would suggest that your remind people not to use the word "multiple" when many is what is meant, or is at least as good.  Otherwise, the speaks sounds pretentious and perhaps pompous.  A quick guide as to when to use each word would also be helpful to many of your readers.

This is not something that I've noticed, though perhaps I don't listen closely enough to enough talking heads.  It does seem to be true that the use of multiple has increased fairly steadily over the past century and a half, from nearly nothing to a rate in the range of 60 to 80 per million words:

(I've used multiplication by 10,000 to turn the Google ngram viewer's uninterpretable percentages on the vertical axis into rates per million words…)

And a search in the COCA corpus confirms an increase continuing over the past 25 years or so:

It's also clear from the usage patterns across genres that multiple is a relatively fancy or formal word, almost five times as common in academic writing as in newspaper text:

MULTIPLE MANY

Logically, the secular trend towards increasing multiple usage could have one or more of several causes:

  1. Whatever multiple refers to in general (call it "multiplicity") is something that people are increasingly interested in talking and writing about;
  2. People are becoming more academic, formal or pretentious in their speech and writing;
  3. The academic or formal character of the word multiple is gradually being bleached away, so that people tend to use it in a wider range of contexts;
  4. The effective meaning of multiple in general usage is gradually shifting, so that it takes up more and more "mouth space" from alternatives like many, several, or numerous.
  5. Memetic drift (i.e. fashion) is increasing the frequency of multiple for no particular reason;
  6. Multi-word terms involving multiple have been invented and/or have increased in frequency.

Number 1 (increasing interest in multiplicity) seems unlikely, and number 2 (increasing formality) is clearly false. So we're left with number 3 (bleaching of register), number 4 (shifting connotation), and number 5 (memetic drift), which in cases like this can plausibly be seen as three different aspects of the same process; and number 6 (terminology), which is certainly true (e.g. multiple integral (1841), multiple sclerosis (1877), multiple personality (1886), multiple myeloma (1897), multiple regression (1908), multiple choice (1915), multiple exposure (1916) multiple intelligences (1983), etc.)

It seems to me that the core difference in meaning between multiple and many arises from the fact that multiple is in implicit opposition to single, while many is in opposition to few (which is still plural, and indeed more than two). So "a few gunshots" could still be described as "multiple gunshots", and "a few problems" could still be described as "multiple problems".

There are also several morpho-syntactic differences, including the fact that multiple is often used with a singular head noun, and many is used in constructions like "many a man". [Update: James points out in the comments that <i>multiple</i> is also starting to slip into the construction "multiple of X", by analogy to "many of X", "several of X", etc.]

Prof. Banzhaf suggests that multiple should involve repetition of events in a short time period:

To me, as a humble law professor who is no linguist, it seems that "multiple" implies – and may even mean – that something has occurred substantially more than once over a relatively short period of time: e.g., "multiple gun shots were heard,"  "multiple rescue attempts were made,"  In such situations, "multiple" seems better to use than "many."  

On the other hand, I would say that there have been many (not "multiple") revolutions in France, that many (not "multiple") explorers tried to find an alternative route to India, etc. – even though there has been repetition over time.  

Very clearly, where there is no reference to time, it seems that "many" is almost always correct. and "multiple" is always incorrect. For example, there are many coins in my pocket, many students in my law class, many books in my office library, etc.

I don't think that events and time periods are necessarily involved at all. Thus multiple regression involves predicting the value of a variable as a function of the values of two or more other variables, with no events separated in time for the multiple predictors. The theory of multiple intelligences divides the concept of intelligence into multiple abilities that are simultaneously present in a given individual. Multiple organ dysfunction syndrome involves simultaneous altered function in two or more organ systems.

But looking at hits for multiple in the current Google News index, I don't see any cases of the sort that annoy Prof. Banzhaf, where many would have been a better choice and multiple seems to be just a "pretentious" substitute. Perhaps some readers can suggest better ways to find such examples, and to determine whether their frequency is increasing.

(I do see lots of references to multiple-vehicle crashes, which might actually be evidence for a factor of type 1 in my list, namely a reason for people to be increasingly interested in talking and writing about multiplicity.)

Yule Loggins
Waxy.org Links / 2014-12-19 13:40

happy holidays from the Danger Zone [via

Farewell to the Colber(t) Repor(t). Alas.
Food Politics (Marion) / 2014-12-19 13:40

Food Politics will mourn the passing of the Colbert Report.

What, you might ask, did the Colbert Report have to do with Food Politics?

Plenty.

For one thing, I was lucky (well, nonplussed) to appear on the show in August 2009.

The topic?  Sugar trade policy.

Oh.  Of course.

Screenshot 2014-12-19 09.01.08

I explained what this was about in a blog post.

Better, Colbert did occasional pieces: Thought for Food.

Eater has collected them all in one place (thanks to Eleanor Talbot West for sending).

Or, if you want to watch them separately…

It was great while it lasted.  I will miss the brilliant satire.

Addition: A reader just sent this link to Colbert’s in-character testimony to Congress on agricultural labor issues (from the expressions on the faces of the people sitting behind him, they must have been taking him seriously).

Spoiler, Serial
The New Inquiry » Aaron Bady (Aaron Bady) / 2014-12-19 11:40

fin

Spoiler: at the beginning of the last episode of Serial, Sarah Koenig tells us that she’s going to have an ending. But she doesn’t. She also tells us that she’s going to give us her opinion, but she doesn’t really do that either. She says what she would do if she was on a jury — she would vote to acquit — but that’s not an opinion, that’s a refusal of certainty. In the end, she doesn’t uncover and show us the truth of what really happened, and she knows it, and says so. Which is to say, she is still basically where she was at the beginning of the series: Adnan could be innocent but maybe he isn’t. This is where we started. By the end, we have a lot more facts and information, as the story gets piled on top of itself, week after week, but all of it adds up to… a story about Sarah Koenig doing a journalism, which ends.

 

 

 

 

This is probably how Serial was going to have to end. Because it isn’t a mystery novel. A mystery novel begins with a disruption and ends with resolution: a corpse becomes a murderer, and justice is done as disorder becomes order. How on earth could Serial end that way? And we knew from the start that the ending wasn’t already written; we knew from the start that she was still researching it, still working towards a conclusion. She could have continued, almost indefinitely; I fact, there’s something interesting in the fact that she didn’t. She decided that this was enough. And so the thing ended.

 

 
Spoiler: I wrote the following few paragraphs before I listened to the last episode of Serial, and though I’ve listened to the whole series (I think), I haven’t worked very hard at it. I don’t really remember whether or not the cell phone tower thing is damning or not, and I’m not sure why the Nisha call is evidence of anything, or what.

 

Spoiler: this blog post goes nowhere in particular.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The American criminal justice system is a marvelously creative fiction. It is like a detective novel, because it reveals the killer at the end, letting everything else fall away. There are facts that turn out to be clues, elements of the truth, the building blocks for constructing a “Case.” Retroactively, they become important because of who turns out to be the killed. Everything else, retroactively, turns out to have been a distraction, a blind, just camouflage. That which convicts, matters. That which does not, does not. This is why you should never talk to police: nothing that can’t convict you will ever turn out to be true. Never talk to the police.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Police lie, constantly. Perhaps not everything the police say is a lie, but at a certain point, it stops mattering: an occasional truth cannot survive buried in lies. As former San Francisco Police commissioner Peter Keane wrote, a few years ago:

“Police officer perjury in court to justify illegal dope searches is commonplace. One of the dirty little not-so-secret secrets of the criminal justice system is undercover narcotics officers intentionally lying under oath. It is a perversion of the American justice system that strikes directly at the rule of law. Yet it is the routine way of doing business in courtrooms everywhere in America.”

As Michelle Alexander more recently observed, the system of mass incarceration rewards dishonesty. In this way, human beings become cops:

 Research shows that ordinary human beings lie a lot — multiple times a day — even when there’s no clear benefit to lying. Generally, humans lie about relatively minor things like “I lost your phone number; that’s why I didn’t call” or “No, really, you don’t look fat.” But humans can also be persuaded to lie about far more important matters, especially if the lie will enhance or protect their reputation or standing in a group. The natural tendency to lie makes quota systems and financial incentives that reward the police for the sheer numbers of people stopped, frisked or arrested especially dangerous. One lie can destroy a life, resulting in the loss of employment, a prison term and relegation to permanent second-class status.

We all lie. But when a person lies who happens to be endowed with a badge, a gun, a phallus, and/or a prison-industrial complex, human beings have a way of turning into one of two things: cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, black and white, masters and slaves, humans and animals. These binaries sometimes line up and sometimes they don’t. But they have in common a single unifying thread, the distinction between those who have the power to tell a lie and make it true, and those whose rights a cop is not bound to respect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You cannot shame a novel for being fiction: it knows that it is not true, and it doesn’t care. All it wants is your belief. The same is true of the police. They don’t care why you do anything; they only want obedience. They only want respect. They only want order, and to give order. Like a novel, the criminal justice system is realistic without bearing any necessary relationship to reality; it is truthy without needing to be true. If its stories might be true, and if they are obeyed, that’s enough. They have plausible assertability, warranting the belief of those who want to believe. And we suspend our disbelief when we read, because we must; if we don’t, it falls apart, and we want the center to hold. It is the only thing “we” can want: if we don’t suspend our disbelieve, who even are “we”? We would cease to exist.

 

 

 

Cynicism tells us not to expect truth. A properly cynical view of the police would say, look, the police lie constantly, the court system is a clusterfuck at best, and the prison-industrial complex is a predatory, cannibalistic, and corporatist system of neo-slavery. The police might occasionally intervene in positive ways, the courts might occasionally give something resembling justice, and some of the people in jail might genuinely be homicidal psychopaths whose freedom would be a ticking time-bomb. These things might be true, but as exceptions to a more general rule: any resemblance to real justice is more coincidental than not. Especially after Ferguson made it impossible to ignore, such cynicism is surely warranted: the burden of proof is and must be on anyone who wants to insist that the criminal justice system is anything of the kind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Especially after Ferguson, Sarah Koenig’s belief in the possibility of criminal justice can be particularly hard to stomach. She wants to find the truth. But what is truth? One of the hardest parts of the show to swallow is the fact that the truth really doesn’t matter any more. It doesn’t matter if Asia suddenly pops up and declares that she has an alibi for Adnan; that boat has sailed. It doesn’t matter if Sarah Koenig puts together a breathtakingly perfect summation of the closing argument that the defense attorney should have given. There is no such thing as substantive justice for Adnan anymore: there is only the procedural reality of prison. He has been convicted, in the present perfect tense. He is guilty, no matter what did or did not happen in the past. His guilt is now a fact. To un-fact it would require proving procedural failures, delegitimizing the system as such. His presumption of innocence is long gone.

 

 

 

 

For all the ways in which Serial is and isn’t what it should be, or what we want it to be, maybe it demonstrates the fictionality of criminal justice, by believing it to death. Sarah Koenig’s belief is very white, as lots of commentators have observed or complained; she has a kind of naivete about how the system works—a naive expectation that it does work—that rubs a lot of people the wrong way, especially as she observes that it doesn’t. She expects a good faith search for the truth on the part of the criminal justice system, and repeatedly finds nothing of the kind. And then she looks for it again. She suspends her disbelief, all the more when—at the end of the show—she puts things in the hands of the Innocence Project and the Reddit detectives. Let them sort it out. Let them continue. Let them keep going with it. She had a radio franchise to continue, a season two to plan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serial decided when it would end, so it could continue.

Why is it hard for Yahoo to make more money?
Philip Greenspun's Weblog (philg) / 2014-12-19 09:40

The New York Times recently devoted a lot of ink to “Why Marissa Mayer is mediocre and couldn’t turn Yahoo around.” (See Thinking, Fast and Slow for “regression to the mean” and other reasons why sought-after job candidates often don’t work out that well; also see “America’s Worst CEOs: Where are they now?”)

Yahoo! has a huge audience and a very capable team of engineers. Computers and Internet applications generally don’t do what consumers want. Why is it hard for them to build the stuff that people want? For example, Yahoo Travel doesn’t seem to add anything to other travel booking sites (in fact they say it is “powered by hipmunk”), which means that it is okay for business travel (user tells server where he or she needs to go) but terrible for leisure travel (server should tell user where is best to go given date-time constraints and activities desired; see my February 2014 posting).

Yahoo Finance is the same as Google Finance (maybe because Google copied all of their features!). Why doesn’t the server ask you about your investment goals and tell you how much to invest and where to invest it? (if not specific funds then at least asset classes)

Yahoo Mail is the same as all of the other web-based email services (see this paper by Jin Choi on an RDBMS-backed email system from the late 1990s). Since Yahoo has a staff of capable managers in India, why don’t they offer a service where they’ll actually answer the email for customers? A personal assistant who can put stuff on the Yahoo calendar, delete spam that makes it through the filter, come up with a daily to-do list, organize parties from the contacts list, etc. It is a lot easier for Yahoo to hire and supervise an employee in India than it would be for an American consumer.

As a portal company Yahoo is uniquely positioned to offer something like the online community aggregation system I wrote about back in 2009. Instead they sat idly while Facebook drained users and page views away from all of the standalone online communities. But I still think it would be worth a few programmers.

Is it really the case that the superheroes at Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Uber have used up all the oxygen? It feels to me as though there is a lot of low-hanging fruit for a company with Yahoo’s resources.

What would readers do if they could push a few new products (or features for old products) out the door at Yahoo? I’ll start with a trivial one: add the ability to publish a narrated slide show from Flickr.

Censored letter
Language Log (Victor Mair) / 2014-12-19 09:40

A current cause célèbre in China concerns a letter that was supposedly written by a little boy to the President of China, Xi Jinping:

"‘Not as skinny as Obama, like Putin is okay.’ China censors schoolboy’s suggestion that Xi lose weight" (12/18/14)

"A 9-year-old told China’s president to lose some weight—and censors shut him down" (12/18/14)

Here's the letter, first in Romanization, then in characters, and after that in translation:

PINYIN

Nín hǎo!

Wǒ shì Hénán shěng Zhèngzhōu shì de yī míng xiǎoxuéshēng. Jīntiān wǒ shì xiǎng gēn nín shuōshuō tàikōng de shì. Dàjiā dōu shuō tàikōng shì wèilái de tiǎozhàn chǎngsuǒ, wǒ yě zhème rènwéi. Yuèqiú díquè yǒu fēngfù de kuàngwùzhí, kě yuèqiú bìng méiyǒu dàqìcéng yǔ shuǐ, bìng bù shìhé rénlèi shēngcún. Cǐ tiāndì bùyí jiǔliú, Zhōngguó hángtiān gāi zhuǎn fāngxiàng le.

Wǒmen zàilái kàn Huǒxīng, tā jì yǒu dàqì yòu yǒu bīngchuān, shìgè bù yǎ yú dìqiú de hǎo dìfāng. Měiguó yǔ Èluósī yǐhòu bù zài yòng Éluósī, Měiguó gòngtóng dǎzào de guójì kōngjiānzhàn, quánmiàn cèhuà shàng Huǒxīng, lián Ouméng hé Yìndù dōu lái còu rènào, zán Zhōngguó yě kuài diǎn dòngshǒu ba!

Hǎole, wǒmen gāi tán diǎn qīngsōng de huàtí, Xí dàdà, nín kěyǐ jiǎnjiǎnféile, bùyòng xiàng Àobāmǎ nàme shòu, xiàng Pǔjīn yīyàng jiù kěyǐ!:)

Jìng zhù

shēntǐ jiànkāng

Niú Zīrú

ORIGINAL LETTER

敬爱的习近平爷爷:

您好!

我是河南省郑州市的一名小学生。今天我是想跟您说说太空的事。大家都说太空是未来的挑战场所,我也这么认为。月球的确有丰富的矿物质,可月球并没有大气层与水,并不适合人类生存。此天地不宜久留,中国航天该转方向了。

我们再来看火星,它既有大气又有冰川,是个不亚于地球的好地方。美国与俄罗斯以后不再用俄罗斯、美国共同打造的国际空间站,全面策划上火星,连欧盟和印度都来凑热闹,咱中国也快点动手吧!

好了,我们该谈点轻松的话题,习大大,您可以减减肥了,不用像奥巴马那么瘦,像普金一样就可以!:)

敬祝

身体健康

牛孜儒

TRANSLATION

Dear Grandpa Xi Jinping,

Greetings! I’m a pupil from Zhengzhou, Henan Province. Today I want to say a few things to you about space. Everyone believes the next big challenge is space. I think so too. The moon, for sure has rich minerals, but it doesn’t have air and water and is definitely not suitable for human life. This is not a good place for a long stay. It’s time for China’s aerospace program to change directions.

Let’s have a look at Mars. It has both air and glaciers, so it is not inferior to Earth. Eventually, the United States and Russia will no longer use the international space station and they will land on Mars. Even the European Union and India will join in the fun. Let’s hurry up!

Okay, we should include some lighter topics. Xi Dada, you could lose some weight. You don’t have to look as slim as Obama. It’s all right to look like Putin! :)

Best regards,

Wishing you good health

Niu Ziru

Dec. 12

After reading only two or three sentences, I became suspicious.  It just didn't sound like something a nine-year-old boy would write.  He dives right in to international space policy, about which he is unusually well informed.  His diction is too polished and formal — including some classicisms, his characters and sentences extraordinarily well constructed.  Furthermore, near the end he abruptly becomes very cheeky, presumptuously addressing the president in the first person plural inclusive, discourteously calling him Xí dàdà 习大大 ("Xi Bigbig" or "Big Daddy Xi" [apparently dàdà 习大大 means "father" in Shaanxi and Shanxi provinces]), and comparing Xi's body weight unfavorably to that of Obama and Putin.

This letter contrasts starkly with another child's diary entry concerning President Xi that circulated widely on the Chinese internet before it too was erased by the censors:

"A child's substitution of Pinyin (Romanization) for characters" (11/9/14)

Written by a little girl a few months shy of eight years, it presents a completely different picture.  She begins by saying that she wanted to invite Xi to McDonald's and describes his appearance and manner ("He's too shy!").  Furthermore, the little girl is unable to write many characters for words that she knows how to say, and substitutes Pinyin in their place.  This is much more what would be expected of a child who is still in elementary school.

To check my own reaction to the little boy's supposed letter, I asked several graduate students from China what their reaction to it was.  Rebecca Fu's analysis is typical:

This is a well-written letter, too well-written for a 9-year old boy — no grammatical mistakes, no wrongly written characters (either phonetic or orthographic), perfect transition words and sentences, accurate selections of adverbs and verbs, perfect collocations, well-organized structure, etc….

This manuscript is definitely not improvised. It cannot be the first draft. No omissions, no deletions, and no corrections, right?

Unrealistic for a 9-year old child!

Whether the letter was written by a nine-year-old boy or not, the question of its being censored by the authorities is another matter altogether, one that I shall not go into here on Language Log.

Incidentally, the bit where the little boy suggests that "Daddy Xi" lose a few pounds reminds me of a NYT reader comment on the music video, "'Xi Dada Loves Peng Mama':  "If he really loved her, he would go on a diet":

 

[Thanks to Anne Henochowicz, Fangyi Cheng, and Sanping Chen]

With the Cuba Breakthrough, the One Thing You’ll Be Seeing Plenty Of
BAGnewsNotes (Michael Shaw) / 2014-12-19 07:40

I can’t say where the reapproachment with Cuba is headed exactly but I can guarantee one thing.  Get ready for months of pictures of early model cars. The street scene above, circulated by Getty, was taken Wednesday. I think a lot of these red beauties with the white hard tops are used for taxis. Driving the politics, the caption informs us the man is reading a Communist paper.

With the breakthrough, a November 2012 slideshow from NatGeo (“Cuba’s New Now”) is also getting a lot of play. The sixteen photos by Paolo Pellegrin, including the second image above, are beautifully composed. If the location of this picnic is amusing in light of the headlines, you’ll also notice the caption’s coda:

Markers of a richly Cuban outing at Havana’s Parque Lenin: the clicking of dominoes, the head-to-toe white clothing of a Santería adherent, and a Russian sedan likely kept running with transplanted parts.

Pellegrin was clearly attuned to the island’s seductive vehicles as you seen them in photos 15, 10 and 5. To appreciate his playfulness, #9 is the  most fun as an exquisite model pokes out from behind a tree.

The last shot, however, most effectively uses car lust to punctuate the journalism. Also taken Wednesday, this was circulated by the AP. If the most noticeable thing about the billboard to Americans is the depiction of an aged but beneficent Fidel, far more significant are the detainees on the first panel, household names in Cuba that the U.S. set free.

(photo 1: Sven Creutzmann / Mambo Photo / Getty Images caption: A Cuban man reads the Granma, a Cuban Communist party paper, as he has his shoes shined, shortly after the announcement of normalized relations. photo 2: Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum. photo 3: Desmond Boylan/AP caption: A classic American car drives by a billboard showing Fidel Castro, right, and “The Cuban Five” in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. The Cuban Five were part of the “Wasp Network” sent by then-Cuban President Fidel Castro to spy in South Florida. The men, who are hailed as heroes in Cuba, were convicted in 2001 in Miami on charges including conspiracy and failure to register as foreign agents in the U.S. On Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, three of the five Cubans were released by the U.S. in exchange for U.S. citizen Alan Gross and an unnamed Cuban man who was imprisoned for nearly 20 years for spying for the United States. Two of the Cuban Five were previously released after finishing their sentences.)

Saravanaa Bhavan, Southall, London UB1
From decklin's contacts (Kake Pugh) / 2014-12-19 04:40

Kake Pugh posted a photo:

Saravanaa Bhavan, Southall, London UB1

Used to be the Glassy Junction pub.

Saravanaa Bhavan, Southall, London UB1
From decklin's contacts (Kake Pugh) / 2014-12-19 04:40

Kake Pugh posted a photo:

Saravanaa Bhavan, Southall, London UB1

Used to be the Glassy Junction pub.

That mystery language was…
Language Log (Mark Liberman) / 2014-12-19 01:40

Last night's "Mystery Language" post has gotten 43 interesting and insightful comments.

The answer, revealed by Doug Marmion, of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies:

The ‘mystery language' audio file was provided by Arnaud Delorme, a neuroscientist who works at the Institute for Neural Computation (INC) in San Diego. Arnaud has been working with a woman who (she claims) has recently began to speak the South American language Yanomami, entirely spontaneously and with no prior exposure to it (and never having left the USA). Arnaud Delorme made contact with Zeljko Jokic, an anthroplogist working here at AIATSIS who has carried out extensive work with the Yanomami and speaks the language. Zeljko didn’t recognise the language of the recording so he asked me to have a listen (I’m a linguist). Like many of the commentators, I thought it sounded vaguely Polynesian, but was probably a sort of glossolalia. Thanks for all the comments and analysis, it’s been very interesting and fun to watch so many sharp minds at work!

Permission to post the audio on Language Log as a "mystery language" was granted both by Dr. Delorme and by the speaker.

Today in Stormtrooper Couture
jwz (jwz) / 2014-12-19 01:40

(and I guess by "today" I mean "five years ago", but still.)

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

DNA Lounge update
jwz (jwz) / 2014-12-19 01:40

DNA Lounge update, wherein we found your phone.

The Awl on Shitpics
Waxy.org Links / 2014-12-18 21:40

the artifacts of any media format define its aesthetic like a cultural permalink  

Ascension
jwz (jwz) / 2014-12-18 21:40

Statler and Waldorf, by whom I mean me and Dr. Kingfish, text while watching shitty, shitty TV:

Messages
Edit
Have you tried "Ascension"?
Yes I watched the first one. Thought it was decent until about 30 minutes after it ended when I realized how stupid it was.
Yeah, that&aposs what I did... It was neat to look at, but basically they just stole the entire premise from Twin Peaks, then spooged out the big "twist" (*koff*) in the very first episode.
I&aposm still deciding if I care enough to watch the next ones.
The whole time I was like - all of this with no ground support? And then the twist - all of this with 1960s tech? Nope.
Yeah.
Unless the program really started in the 80s and half the crew are actors - which I actually suspect.
That works.
No. That&aposs fucking stupid. It&aposs BSG again.
Yeah, I pretty much hated everything about BSG.
So they do have ground support - and they never sent a new song or a newspaper?
Right... How do they not have the ability to receive radio and TV signals...
How do they not have the ability to tell that OPTICAL TELESCOPES are looking at a MATTE PAINTING
Ha! That too!
You don&apost even have to get into Doppler on the radio!!
At the very least, give us a lame script- excuse for all this crap!
They are nightly drugging them into Lost levels of stupidity and incuriosity
Ha!
Also: so over the "you lower level trash" -- because that&aposs what it&aposs like in the space program (and everything.) They totally would have roles that were "just pig farmers."
I almost screamed at the tv when they Spocked the corpse. BIOMASS GOES IN THE GREEN BUCKET.
Haha!!! I thought the same!!
So much for the Soylent dip at the Launch Day party!
At the very least, desicate her and refill a couple buckets in the water reclamation tank!
You just gave me a TV headache.
What to you wanna bet Little River Tam is *actually psychic*? Or that there are angels or some shit?
I&aposm guessing Real Aliens are coming... And they&aposre almost here... Which is why they started the project was started 50 years ago... And annoying kid is being contacted by them, because: TV.
Also: lots of open space on that submarine. Up in the air. Where you can&apost use it.
Ha! Science!
Also I think they were trying to show red and blue shifted stars, but only 30 degrees apart.
And I think you need to be at like 99% of c to get that, which means Centauri in a year, not 100
Woo hoo!
Also, you know, impossible.
That too. Well, BSG was pretty big with the scientific eye-rolling.
Alright that&aposs it... I&aposm going in. I&aposm gonna watch episode 2 of Ascension.
Oh did that air already?
I think 3 did also, but it&aposs only up to 2 on the Hulus.
There&aposs a "what the fuck" in the first 2 min.
Also, how did they fake the g forces --of a spaceship bigger than the Empire State Building-- of the launch 50 years ago?
And what do the "engines" do? I mean, I get they could just be pointed in a direction in space, but somebody has to be running and maintaining something that looks like a power plant, right?
Yup
They probably had them drugged during launch
Oh hey, and I guess they drug everybody anytime they need to go in and upgrade all the surveillance equipment they use to keep tabs on them... Cuz those iPads aren&apost directly wired to those vacuum tube TVs.
Okay, we&aposre putting you in a giant spaceship for 100 years... Make sure you bring enough neckties and 2 piece suits, that never wear out... Oh, and your descendants need to be able to fit in your clothes, so plan for that.
Also, make sure you use your 1960&aposs medicines to ensure the next generation or two aren&apost overwhelmingly all male or something...
Dude is getting shaved with a cake of solid shaving soap. How many of those did they bring when they "left."
They made them from baby fat
Oh right.
60s infant mortality rate.
Spare biomass.
I want my baby back, baby back, baby back...
Also where are all the old people? 51 years is a long time, but it&aposs entirely within reason that there&aposd still be some original crew.
(I know, I know... Biomass.)
Logan&aposs Run!
Renew! Renew!
They retire to the Miami Ark.
So wait. Everyone over 51 was "born" on earth. The captain, the councilman?
Yeah I was trying to figure that out... I think they&aposre saying now that some families came along, with kids.
One of your guesses just came true, btw.
I&aposm 20 min into part 2
Yeah you&aposll see
Apparently the ship runs on coal
Right??
I hate this show.
Hahahaha!
Dr. Fritz Lieber? And the girl is named Valis?
Apparently it&aposs in Helfer&aposs contract that she has to show her ass twice an episode
Hey! Wake up!
When you get to the end of part 3 you are literally gonna throw your shoe at the tv.
And those iPads they invented on the ship - what do you figure their transistor fab looks like? And what part of China mined the rare earth metals for them? Or will we learn that a member of the crew is Dr. John Dee, Actual Alchemist?
They made them from poop.
Delivered
Send

Time is ripe for Cubans to become Medicare vendors
Philip Greenspun's Weblog (philg) / 2014-12-18 20:40

Now that the U.S. is taking steps toward normalizing relations with our cash-poor, doctor-rich neighbor to the southeast, I am hoping that the time is ripe for Medicare to begin using Cuban medical services, as proposed in a February 2013 posting. (See my health care reform proposal for some reasons why every other country can provide health care at a lower cost than us.)

As a taxpayer I am looking forward to complete normalization of ties with Cuba. Keeping Cuba around as an official enemy is a sad reminder of how little return we get on our military and CIA dollars. If we can’t make the Castro brothers do what we tell them to, why should any other political leader listen to us?

[Separately, a friend has just returned from a trip to Costa Rica where he and his wife had complicated dental surgery at a fraction of the cost quoted in Boston. How was it? Here's how he responded to my emailed question...

I have had nothing but bad/horrendous dental care in the US (part of why I'm having to have so much work done), so the bar has not been set high. I have seen three different specialists from one practice- a cosmetic surgeon, a periodontist, and a general? dentist. They are all US-educated and teach at the university here. Their English is perfect, they are highly intelligent, articulate, and personable. Really, the best professional experience of any type I have ever had. Their office is in Escazu, which is the Weston of CR [Weston is a rich suburb of Boston]. Lots of rich CR clients, the practice is not really oriented towards foreigners, although they do that as well.

]

The chip scientists at Lays never sleep. #t
From decklin's contacts (joshc) / 2014-12-18 19:40

joshc posted a photo:

The chip scientists at Lays never sleep. #t

via Instagram ift.tt/1wIU4g7

Photos of the Year ‘14: Climate Change
BAGnewsNotes (Michael Shaw) / 2014-12-18 19:40

Why did this photo jump out at me from Mashable’s 2014 photos of the year list?  For its novelty.

Taken by Justin Sullivan for Getty, the caption reads:

A dead lawn is seen next to an artificial lawn on July 15, 2014 in San Francisco, California. As the California drought continues to worsen and voluntary conservation is falling well below the suggested 20 percent, the California Water Resources Control Board is considering a $500 per day fine for residents who waste water on landscaping, hosing down sidewalks and car washing.

With more going on here than I could possibly put my finger on, I welcome your reading. Justin encourages a mind-bending number of comparisons by capturing three thoroughly contrasting elements together. Like a sociologist as much as a reporter, he has captured the deathly drought — a vision of horror that, paired with the fringe of brick, extends in our minds to the whole of suburbia. (Notwithstanding the fact it was shot in the city.)

Like catching different conversation at a dinner party,  it prompts any number of paths and perspectives. A cynic, especially harping on California and the tech surge, might see artificiality, vanity and delusion. Someone else, on the other hand, someone optimistic, might see ingenuity and the application of science in a way that not only takes up the challenge of climate change, but attacks it with craft and artistry.

And then, we have the dog and the jacket, the legs and those tennis shoes (aligned with that progressive, plastic, practical or presumptuous lawn, as you will). Here, too, the interaction of the elements spin in who-knows-how-many directions. Certainly, the pink (catching up the field of green with it), drenches the scene in irony. Perhaps though, we’re so used to whimsy and style in our news and news imagery these days, it serves here (aided by the movement from left-to-right) as an effective seque to seriousness.

(photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Everybody gets a raise
Clover Food Lab (ayr) / 2014-12-18 14:40

IMG_4477

I just posted on our pay increases for entry level employees. Those have been in place for a couple of months. Starting 2015 we’re going to be putting in place a new compensation package for our restaurant managers and assistant managers as well. 2015 is going to be a good year to work at Clover. We’re going to be paying significantly more than we’ve ever been able to in the past. If you’re not interested in this stuff skip this post. If you work at Clover or are thinking about joining our team you’re going to want to pay close attention. This is what you will get paid to change the world in 2015.

MANAGER PAY

We’re breaking restaurants into tiers based on sales volumes. Base pay will be set by tier. Managers will then receive a quarterly bonus based on their year over year sales increase for that quarter. And on top of the quarterly bonus there will be an end of year bonus based on performance. The end of year bonus potential will grow the longer you’ve been at Clover. Here’s an outline of the structure:

BASE SALARY BASED ON SALES TIER
Tier 1 up to $500,000 sales $40,000/ yr
Tier 2 $500,001 to 1,000,000 sales $45,000/ yr
Tier 3 $1,000,001 to $1,500,000 sales $55,000/ yr
Tier 4 $1,500,001 to $2,500,000 sales $65,000/ yr
Tier 5 Above $2,500,000 sales $75,000/ yr

 

+ BONUS #1: QUARTERLY BASED ON QUARTERLY SALES PERFORMANCE
Ramping restaurant (first 3 years): equal to year over year sales increase
e.g., 18% year over year growth will result in 18% bonus for quarter

 

Ramped restaurant (older than 3 years): equal to 160% of year over year sales increase
e.g., 10% year over year growth will result in 16% bonus for quarter

Bonus is calculated as a percentage of the pay for the quarter in question.
For new restaurants without previous year sales, budget numbers will be used.

 

+ BONUS #2: END OF YEAR BONUS BASED ON PERFORMANCE
First year as a Clover manager Bonus potential 10%
Second year as Clover manager Bonus potential 15%
Third year as Clover manager Bonus potential 20%
Fourth year as Clover manager Bonus potential 25%
Fifth year as Clover manager Bonus potential 30%

 

SCENARIOS

So if you’re running a restaurant at Clover in 2015 that had 2014 total sales of $800,000, and you generate 2015 sales in the first quarter that are 18% higher than the previous year, you would be earning:

Tier 2 Base Salary of $45,000 + Quarterly bonus 18% of your base for that quarter (18% x 45,000/4 = $2,025). At the end of the year if you continue to perform at that level (18%) for the entire year, your total comp would be your base ($45,000) + your quarterly bonuses ($45,000 x 18% = $8,100) + your end of year bonus, which could be as high as 10% your first year as a manager at Clover ($45,000 x 10% = $4,500) up to 30% in your 5th year as a manager at Clover ($45,000 x 30% = $13,500).

Your total compensation for 2015 in this scenario would be $57,600 (if you were a first year manager at Clover) up to $66,600 (if you were a 5+ year manager at Clover). In 2014 the compensation for this same manager with the same performance would have been $47,250 – 51,750. This represents a 22% increase on the low end of the range, and a 29% increase on the high end of the range.

It takes some math to unpack, but compared to other compensation programs I’ve looked at this is something super transparent. And if you take the time to do the math you can see why I’m so excited. I’m going to get to pay some of my managers 20-30% more next year! That’s amazing.

The post Everybody gets a raise appeared first on Clover Food Lab.

Pictures of the Year ‘14: Climate Change
BAGnewsNotes (Michael Shaw) / 2014-12-18 13:40

Why did this photo jump out at me from Mashable’s 2014 photos of the year list?  For its novelty.

Taken by Justin Sullivan for Getty, the caption reads:

A dead lawn is seen next to an artificial lawn on July 15, 2014 in San Francisco, California. As the California drought continues to worsen and voluntary conservation is falling well below the suggested 20 percent, the California Water Resources Control Board is considering a $500 per day fine for residents who waste water on landscaping, hosing down sidewalks and car washing.

With more going on here than I could possibly put my finger on, I welcome your reading. Justin encourages a mind-bending number of comparisons by capturing three thoroughly contrasting elements together. Like a sociologist as much as a reporter, he has captured the deathly drought — a vision of horror that, paired with the fringe of brick, extends in our minds to the whole of suburbia. (Notwithstanding the fact it was shot in the city.)

Like catching different conversation at a dinner party,  it prompts any number of paths and perspectives. A cynic, especially harping on California and the tech surge, might see artificiality, vanity and delusion. Someone else, on the other hand, someone optimistic, might see ingenuity and the application of science in a way that not only takes up the challenge of climate change, but attacks it with craft and artistry.

And then, we have the dog and the jacket, the legs and those tennis shoes (aligned with that progressive, plastic, practical or presumptuous lawn, as you will). Here, too, the interaction of the elements spin in who-knows-how-many directions. Certainly, the pink (catching up the field of green with it), drenches the scene in irony. Perhaps though, we’re so used to whimsy and style in our news and news imagery these days, it serves here (aided by the movement from left-to-right) as an effective seque to seriousness.

(photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Maximizing Buzzword Compliance
Language Log (Mark Liberman) / 2014-12-18 13:40

From a "sponsor message" sent to me by the Chronicle of Higher Education "on behalf of Campus Management":

Institutions are facing a convergence of forces that, combined with an outdated technology infrastructure, have created the need for a new approach in education technology: the On Demand Model for Higher Education.

Discover the cornerstones of this innovative strategy, including how to enhance constituent engagement, provide more flexibility in academic delivery and financial aid, and leverage an agile infrastructure to grow and adapt in any market.

Hear from a panel of thought leaders as they discuss rising above technology challenges to empower dynamic models of engagement and delivery, and in turn positively impact growth, retention and financial security.

I'm chill about jargon, in general, but empty rhetoric does amuse me. With the addition of a few metasyntactic variables, this could be about almost anything at all:

Institutions are facing a convergence of forces that, combined with an outdated technology infrastructure, have created the need for a new approach in [FOO]: the [BAR].

Discover the cornerstones of this innovative strategy, including how to enhance constituent engagement, provide more flexibility in [BAZ], and leverage an agile infrastructure to grow and adapt in any market.

Hear from a panel of thought leaders as they discuss rising above technology challenges to empower dynamic models of engagement and delivery, and in turn positively impact growth, retention and financial security.

It's probably also time for an updated version of the Universal Marketing Graphic:

Nut rage
Language Log (Victor Mair) / 2014-12-18 13:40

The biggest news in South Korea these days is the macadamia nut tantrum that occurred on Korean Airlines last week.  Heather Cho, the eldest daughter of Korean Air Lines chairman Cho Yang-ho and herself a high-ranking executive at the airline (though since resigned), threw a monumental hissy fit when she was served macadamia nuts in a manner that she thought was not suitably elegant.  Amongst the usual media accounts of the incident, there was this statement from the UK Guardian:

Bloggers and the Korean press lambasted Cho for her arrogance, and took to social media to mock her for going “nuts”.

and reports of this tweet in Korean from an online shopping mall/auction site that makes a sort of punning reference to “that nut.”

Jeff Weinberg asks whether “nut” or “nuts” in Korean is used for “crazy person” or “crazy” as it’s used in English (and maybe primarily American English).

According to Bob Ramsey:

So far as I know, 'nuts' in the sense of 'crazy' is only an American English term. 'Nuts' is not used that way at all in Korean. What the Korea press does talk about that I found curious,though, is associating her with 'peanuts' (ttangkong) — I think I remember seeing her called the ‘peanuts lady’ in some headline–when we know from the Western press that the furor was over the serving of macadamia nuts. Not sure why Koreans were talking about peanuts instead, except that those nuts are more familiar to Koreans than macadamia nuts. But none of these words, as far as I know, is associated with going crazy or wild the way 'going nuts' is in America.

Haewon Cho concurs:

"Nuts" does not mean "insane" in Korean. Because of this incident, Korean Air (대한항공, Daehanhanggong , RR; Taehanhanggong, MR) is ridiculed as "땅콩 항공 (Ttangkong hanggong, RR; Ttangk'ong Hanggong, MR; Ttangkong means peanuts, hanggong means airlines). It's because peanuts are so small and not something expensive or important? I am not sure….

Ttangkong also refers to a short person. For example, Mihyun Kim, a professional golf player, is often called "Super Ttangkong" because of her height (5' 1").

Here is the image of "Ttangkong hanggong" that Korean internet users have created:

Interestingly, this incident has created a sudden increase in sales of macadamia nuts.

Max Temkin on the logistics of Cards Against Humanity's Black Friday Bullshit
Waxy.org Links / 2014-12-18 13:40

the scratch-and-sniff poop button is an especially nice touch  

The Healthy Nation Coalition doesn’t like the Dietary Guidelines. But what does it want?
Food Politics (Marion) / 2014-12-18 13:40

This is my week to be talking about the Dietary Guidelines, apparently.  Yesterday’s Politico Morning Agriculture, a news source on which I greatly depend, noted yet another attack on the Dietary Guidelines, this one from a group called  The Healthy Nation Coalition.

The Coalition wrote a letter to the secretaries of USDA and HHS, the agencies sponsoring the Guidelines, with many complaints about process and ineffectiveness.

I had never heard of this group, so I went to its website and laughed when I saw this graph—a terrific example of why epidemiologists insist that association does not necessarily say anything about causation.

Screenshot 2014-12-17 10.46.00

 

The implication here is that the Dietary Guidelines either cause obesity (something patently absurd) or have had no effect on its prevalence (something only to be expected given the other changes in society that predisposed to obesity beginning in the early 1980s).

If anything, the Dietary Guidelines are a result of those forces in society, not their cause.

I have my own issues with Dietary Guidelines (see Fo0d Politics), mainly about the use of advice that is euphemistic (“choose lean meats”) or incomprehensible (reduce SoFAS—solid fats and added sugars), and their focus on nutrients (fat, sugar, salt) rather than foods.

But I can’t understand what this Coalition is about or what it wants.

Its website says the Coalition formed because

A sense of community has arisen around questioning our current approach to food and nutrition. Healthy Nation Coalition has its beginnings in the ancestral health, Weston A. Price Foundation, and low-carbohydrate nutrition communities.

I understand what the Coalition does not want.  It

suggests that the 2010 Guidelines are not appropriate for population-wide diet recommendations, especially with regard to restrictions on dietary fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and salt.

indicates that the 2010 Guidelines may lead to increased risk of weight gain, diabetes, and chronic disease in many populations.

indicates that reducing intake of sugars and starches has health benefits.

indicates that adequate, complete protein is a critical part of the adult diet and that many adults benefit from intakes above current minimum recommendations.

Here’s what it says it wants

the Healthy Nation Coalition proposes that this process be removed from the USDA and HHS and given to one or more independent agencies, offices, or entities that can create dietary guidance that is without bias and responsive to the needs of the people of America.

Really?  Like what?

The “ask” in the letter is this:

It is the duty of USDA and DHHS leadership to end the use of controversial, unsuccessful and discriminatory dietary recommendations. USDA and DHHS leadership must refuse to accept any DGA that fail to establish federal nutrition policy based on the foundation of good health: adequate essential nutrition from wholesome, nourishing foods. It is time to create DGA that work for all Americans.

But what would they look like?

I don’t recognize any of the names of the individuals listed as part of the Coalition.

Can anyone explain to me what this group wants and is about?

Google Play Music for Classical Music Fans
Philip Greenspun's Weblog (philg) / 2014-12-18 07:40

Sonos replaced my dead eight-year-old player for a reasonable price (earlier post) and threw in a coupon for 60 days of unlimited Google Play Music. I decided to try out this competitor to Rhapsody, Spotify, Pandora, et al. I clicked on a classical “radio” station. Unlike any classical FM station, but like the other streaming services, this turns out to be classical tracks selected at random. So you might get the second part of a string quartet followed by the first part of a symphony composed 100 years earlier.

Is it illegal to stream complete classical albums or at least four tracks in a row so that listeners can hear a whole symphony? If not I can’t figure out why none of the streaming services offer this from their “radio” stations. (Paying Rhapsody customers can stream entire albums, so it definitely is not illegal if the user selects the music rather than the service/station.)

Optimizing polymorphic code in Java
Daniel Lemire's blog (Daniel Lemire) / 2014-12-18 01:40

Oracle’s Java is a fast language… sometimes just as fast as C++. In Java, we commonly use polymorphism through interfaces, inheritance or wrapper classes to make our software more flexible. Unfortunately, when polymorphism is involved with lots of function calls, Java’s performance can go bad. Part of the problem is that Java is shy about fully inlining code, even when it would be entirely safe to do so.

Consider the case where we want to abstract out integer arrays with an interface:

public interface Array {
    public int get(int i);
    public void set(int i, int x);
    public int size();
}

Why would you want to do that? Maybe because your data can be in a database, on a network, on disk or in some other data structure. You want to write your code once, and not have to worry about how the array is implemented.

It is not difficult to produce a class that is effectively equivalent to a standard Java array, except that it implements this interface:

public final class NaiveArray implements Array {
    protected int[] array;
    
    public NaiveArray(int cap) {
        array = new int[cap];
    }
    
    public int get(int i) {
        return array[i];
    }
    
    public void set(int i, int x) {
        array[i] = x;  
    }
    
    public int size() {
        return array.length;
    }
}

At least in theory, this NaiveArray class should not cause any performance problem. The class is final, all methods are short.

Unfortunately, on a simple benchmark, you should expect NaiveArray to be over 5 times slower than a standard array when used as an Array instance, as in this example:

public int compute() {
   for(int k = 0; k < array.size(); ++k) 
      array.set(k,k);
   int sum = 0;
   for(int k = 0; k < array.size(); ++k) 
      sum += array.get(k);
   return sum;
}

You can alleviate the problem somewhat by using NaiveArray as an instance of NaiveArray (avoiding polymorphism). Unfortunately, the result is still going to be more than 3 times slower, and you just lost the benefit of polymorphism.

So how do you force Java to inline function calls?

A viable workaround is to inline the functions by hand. You can to use the keyword instanceof to provide optimized implementations, falling back on a (slower) generic implementation otherwise. For example, if you use the following code, NaiveArray does become just as fast as a standard array:

public int compute() {
     if(array instanceof NaiveArray) {
        int[] back = ((NaiveArray) array).array;
        for(int k = 0; k < back.length; ++k) 
           back[k] = k;
        int sum = 0;
        for(int k = 0; k < back.length; ++k) 
           sum += back[k];
        return sum;
     }
     //...
}

Of course, I also introduce a maintenance problem as the same algorithm needs to be implemented more than once… but when performance matters, this is an acceptable alternative.

As usual, my benchmarking code is available online.

To summarize:

  • Java fails to fully inline frequent function calls even when it could and should. This can become a serious performance problem.
  • Declaring classes as final does not seem to alleviate the problem.
  • A viable workaround for expensive functions is to optimize the polymorphic code by hand, inlining the function calls yourself. Using the instanceof keyword, you can write code for specific classes and, thus, preserve the flexibility of polymorphism.

Mystery Language
Language Log (Mark Liberman) / 2014-12-18 01:40

Can anyone determine what language this woman is speaking?

If the flash player doesn't work for you, try the HTML5 audio version:

Nintype
jwz (jwz) / 2014-12-18 01:40

I bought this crazy-assed replacement on-screen keyboard for iOS, and it's interesting, but after having used it for a couple of days the primary effect I've discovered is that I'm just typing a lot less because it's so fucking hard to do. I guess I'm giving up now.

I never got the hang of swiping with both thumbs: it seems like there's a timeout where if you take too long between letters it decides you're done? Or something? And when typing a long word, the whole keyboard gets so covered with glowy Tron psychedelia that you can't even read the keycaps any more. There are popup menus for correction where you're expected to pull down then move left or right, and inevitably the thing you're trying to find is occluded directly under your hand, no matter which hand you use.

I remember finding on-screen keyboards initially incredibly frustrating, but I don't think it was this frustrating. At this point I think what I really want is just one that has much better text prediction. (the stock iOS 8 keyboard is enormously better than iOS 7 in this regard.)

NYT Mag on Yahoo under Marissa Mayer
Waxy.org Links / 2014-12-17 21:40

worth reading if only for the "Bobbie Had a Nickel" anecdote  

The Nib's The Year in Garbage 2014
Waxy.org Links / 2014-12-17 21:40

so many of these are related to our ever-increasing interconnectedness  

O Human Star
Waxy.org Links / 2014-12-17 21:40

this ongoing webcomic about robots and love is really, really good  

Funny story: I also magically poop charms.
jwz (jwz) / 2014-12-17 21:40

Lalaloopsy:

"I was very disappointed that the charms were not pooped magically, but clearly pooped using the rational laws of science. Still, a poop-charm is a poop-charm, as Woodrow Wilson used to say. Three stars."

"This toy has added a lot of fun to potty-training; my daughter has been searching for charms in all of her bowel movements, and I'm searching for more charms to hide!"

...and "Peanut Big Top" is my Juggalo name.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

Wikipedia: Repository of All Human Knowledge.
jwz (jwz) / 2014-12-17 21:40

After Dark (software): Difference between revisions
Revision as of 07:33, 17 December 2014

Golden Shard
m (The reason I am changing this is because it has false information I am trying to fix)

- ==Flying Toasters==

Of the screensaver modules included, the most famous is the iconic ''Flying Toasters'' which featured 1940s-style chrome [[toaster]]s sporting bird-like wings, flying across the screen with pieces of toast. A slider enabled users to adjust the toast's darkness and an updated ''Flying Toasters Pro'' module added a choice of music -- [[Richard Wagner]]'s [[Ride of the Valkyries]] or a flying toaster anthem with optional karaoke lyrics.<ref>{{cite web|url= http://www.mymac.com/showarticle.php?id=1363|archiveurl= http://web.archive.org/web/20100107035003/ http://www.mymac.com/showarticle.php?id=1363|archivedate=2010-01-07 |title=AfterDark Deluxe  -- Review |publisher=Mymac.com |date= |accessdate=2010-03-18}}</ref> Yet another version called ''Flying Toasters!'' added bagels and pastries, baby toasters, and more elaborate toaster animation. The Flying Toasters were one of the key reasons why After Dark became popular, and Berkeley began to produce other merchandising products such as T-shirts, with the Flying Toaster image and slogans such as "The 51st Flying Toaster Squadron: On a mission to save your screen!"

+
==Flying Toasters==

Originally developed by the military for use in reconnaissance, it rapidly became apparent to all that flying toasters were far more useful for delivering provisions to captured or trapped soldiers than they were as spies, due partly to a number of handicaps from which the toasters suffered which interfered with their abilities as spies. Notable among their drawbacks were a lack of eyes, ears, or other senses which would have allowed them to actually learn anything, as well as their innate lack of brain which would have prevented them from remembering anything had they actually learned it.

Previously, previously, previously.

Unedited Footage of a Bear
jwz (jwz) / 2014-12-17 21:40

juggaLOVE
jwz (jwz) / 2014-12-17 21:40

Jeb’s Presidential Facebook Call All About the Profile Pic
BAGnewsNotes (Michael Shaw) / 2014-12-17 19:40

The fuller shot:

Whatever the words, Team Bush III and it’s presidential exploratory announcement provided the first occasion to roll out Jeb’s  general election secret weapon, his family portrait. In the words of that FOB, Karl Rove, as I’ve so often cited, “politics is TV with the sound off.” (Architect Rove, of course, was also driven by the conviction that posing Dubya and Laura with Blacks and Hispanics in every public photo-op they could would help pave the way to that permanent Republican electoral majority.)

The nonverbal message with the profile pic (and the next few, as well, on Jeb’s Facebook page) is loud and clear for a party so diversity-deficient and immigration-impaired. With a more rainbow approach to America, aiming reassurance also at voters who have so much trouble breathing these days, the visual tonic is: we’re not your father’s or your grandfather’s GOP.  (Along those lines, the big news today about rapprochement with Cuba can’t hurt either.) Certainly, Jeb has his work cut out with conservative and ultra-conservative base. With the party having situated its boot on the throat of the Tea Party, however, we’ll see how much Jeb choses — in the early going at least — to showcase the multiculturalism.

In any case, it’s a far cry from this:

ISIS Hysteria Meets War on Christmas: On the Sydney Hostage Siege Screenshot
BAGnewsNotes (Michael Shaw) / 2014-12-17 19:40

For sixteen hours, this screen grab from Australian televion was the primary media and social media visual to depict the hostage standoff in Sydney. If you somehow missed the story, a deranged Iranian-born man with a history of violence and sexual assault held workers and citizen hostage downtown until police stormed the shop. The picture was mesmerizing for a number of reasons:

1. It wasn’t an ISIS flag, but who knew the difference? (Certainly not The Daily Telegraph with this completely inaccurate early edition.) As this Reddit thread elaborated, it was a “generic Muslim flag” with the text of the Shahada (proclaiming: “There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God.”) Call it western ignorance meets the power of terror branding. With the repeated brandishing of the black ISIS flag (with western media outlets, particularly Reuters giving it repeated play), this scene seemed to fit the bill.

2. Call it “ISIS abuse video meets dancing vision of sugar plums,” what we have here — as the alleged ISIS brand collides with the logo and, especially, the holiday greeting of the western confectioner — is a classic rendition of the perennial war on Christmas.

3. You don’t mess with our women. It’s a perverse coincidence of timing that, this week, there was also a buzz in the media about the existence of a completely perverse and sadistic ISIS manual for how to treat (and sexually abuse) captured western female slaves. Gender-wise, the image surely does have a voyeuristic and almost sado-sexual vibe to it. The view through the window featured two women putting their hands to the fabric. In what, in a completely different context, might appear rapturous, the attractive store employee, left, extends forward with her eyes closed, her palm pressed to the glass. More tortured, the slight and simple view of a chin wrinkled clues us that woman on the right is crying as she’s reaching.

Random or accidental as it may be, the piece parts go together in a way that blends the west’s basest instincts with its darkest fears.

(photo/screen grab: Seven Network)

Good article for inspiring young people to learn Mandarin
Philip Greenspun's Weblog (philg) / 2014-12-17 18:40

New Yorker magazine carries an article (full text available to all) about a young self-made billionaire whose success was partly due to having put in the effort to learn Mandarin while in high school.

Separately, the article covers the question of whether people will benefit from being able to get blood tests more easily and cheaply, e.g., without having to first visit a physician and without having a vein opened up. A doctor friend says “Never order a test unless you know what you’re going to do with the answer.” If he is correct then generally we will not be healthier if we get more numbers more frequently. the article also covers the question of the extent to which the FDA will regulate vertically integrated blood testing labs differently than labs who buy their machines from third-party vendors.

Regarding the second question, I queried a friend in the pharma industry. Here’s what she had to say…

A couple of things struck me, the first being the powerful friends/supporters that she has on her Board.  I really do believe that this has insulated her from some rather obvious scrutiny.  The second was the FDA representatives who appear to not have a clue regarding their own regulations.
Item: Definition
If a product is labeled, promoted or used in a manner that meets the following definition in section 201(h) of the Federal Food Drug & Cosmetic (FD&C) Act it will be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a medical device and is subject to premarketing and postmarketing regulatory controls.
A device is:
“an instrument, apparatus, implement, machine, contrivance, implant, in vitro reagent, or other similar or related article, including a component part, or accessory which is:
  • recognized in the official National Formulary, or the United States Pharmacopoeia, or any supplement to them,
  • intended for use in the diagnosis of disease or other conditions, or in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, in man or other animals, or
  • intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals, and which does not achieve its primary intended purposes through chemical action within or on the body of man or other animals and which is not dependent upon being metabolized for the achievement of any of its primary intended purposes.”
Item:  21 CFR 820.1
This part of the CFR details the Quality System Requirements for all Medical Devices.  In the scope section it states: “(a) Applicability. (1) Current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) requirements are set forth in this quality system regulation. The requirements in this part govern the methods used in, and the facilities and controls used for, the design, manufacture, packaging, labeling, storage, installation, and servicing of all finished devices intended for human use.”  (Theranos is utilizing these devices for the diagnoses of human ailments, so this should be applicable.)
This section of the Code of Federal Regulations discusses exemptions for diagnostic devices, and specifically states: “…must still submit a premarket notification to FDA before introducing or delivering for introduction into interstate commerce for commercial distribution the device…”  and goes on to list circumstances and applications which appear to fit the description of this application.
I think the crux of the argument here is the interstate commerce clause, however the argument could certainly be made, and I think effectively, that because this device is being utilized as a diagnostic tool in multiple states, Theranos has definitely crossed the line into interstate commerce.

Revisiting the 21st Century Draft Horse posting
Philip Greenspun's Weblog (philg) / 2014-12-17 18:40

In August 2010 I wrote a posting titled “unemployed = 21st century draft horse?” that questioned the extent to which American employers were likely to want to re-hire the lowest skilled workers in the U.S. Today’s New York Times has a related article: “The Vanishing Male Worker.” The article starts off with a guy that has been fired from two jobs that don’t require especially high levels of skill. It quotes an economist:

“They’re not working, because it’s not paying them enough to work,” said Alan B. Krueger, a leading labor economist and a professor at Princeton.

The (mostly American, presumably) readers take up this idea eagerly. There are hundreds of comments supporting raising the minimum wage and other non-market approaches to getting the least-attractive-to-employers Americans into well-paid jobs.

The employers’ perspective was not sought by the New York Times.

My own casual discussions with employers reveal a picture in which anyone with a reasonable level of attention to detail already has a job. A friend is an attorney in Denver, Colorado, where the cost of living is close to the national average. She is trying to hire an administrative assistant. This job requires no legal knowledge. The worker has simply to show up on time, be able to use Web sites such as Orbitz to book travel, be organized enough to keep a calendar, etc. How much will she have to pay to get someone qualified? “At least $70,000 per year,” was her answer, and in fact she hasn’t been able to find anyone good so far.

[In response to comments, I researched the Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers on what admin assistants get paid. It seems that roughly $50,000 per year is a national median, with a range of $32,000 to $75,000 per year going from the 10th to the 90th percentile. Thus the lawyer's expectation of  her (large) firm paying $70k/year for a high quality assistant is not unreasonable  Returning to the median $50,000 number, that's about 3X current minimum wage for a job that requires no specialized training or degrees (i.e., a diligent high school graduate could be effective in the role). In my opinion this supports the theory that any American who can be effective in a modern workplace is already highly sought-after by employers and therefore continued economic expansion won't result in a flood of job offers to the men featured in the New York Times article.]

So… was the 2010 posting prescient? Or will the seventh year of “recovery” somehow make American employers enthusiastic about those working-age Americans who’ve spent the past six years at home?

[Note that government regulation over the past six years has made low-skill workers less attractive to employers. Obamacare requires that more employees be provided with health insurance (a big fraction of the total cost of hiring a low-skill worker). Minimum wages are higher in some places and for some employers, e.g., those with government contracts. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (2009) opens up new fields of potential litigation.]

Lego Friends
Waxy.org Links / 2014-12-17 17:40

how to make Lego sets more appealing to girls [via

Buy Real Magical Mormon Underwear online
jwz (jwz) / 2014-12-17 17:40

What Is Mormon's Secret?

Mormon's Secret is the first and only site in the world selling real Mormon underwear (temple garments) to all adults, regardless of their religious affiliation. For the first time in history, online shoppers can purchase these magical temple garments without first joining the Mormon church and giving up 10% of their income in tithes. Our goal is to make "magical" underwear available to the masses for use as costume wear, fetish wear, and all your kinky, dress-up needs.

What Makes Your Underwear Real?

All of our garments follow the authentic Mormon patterns, heirloom stitching techniques, and traditional Masonic symbols hand-sewn on each garment. The underwear are available in both tops and bottoms, and come in both cotton and mesh fabrics for men, as well as a spanx-like cotton-spandex blend for women. Surprisingly, there is no such thing as kosher Mormon underwear. None of the religious groups that make and distribute temple garments go through a consecration or blessing process. The Mormon Church's secret for making magic underwear is part pattern and part recipe. So to sum it up, our Mormon underwear are as magical as you can get! Our garments even come packaged with a satirical yet accurate description of the actual Mormon underwear initiation ritual that includes nudity, biblical references, and magical expectations.

Why Would I Want To Wear Mormon Underwear If I'm Not Mormon?

  • Comfort
  • Humor
  • You believe in freedom of underwear
  • You have a fetish with Mormonism
  • You used to be a Mormon, still love the underwear, and you're no longer in contact with your supplier
  • You're a costume designer for a Mormon mockumentary
  • Your wife has a thing for Mormon boys, and you're trying to satisfy her needs
  • You want to dress like/feel/be Ann or Mitt Romney
  • You want the funniest political Halloween costume of 2012

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

Filtered for nematodes and Uniqlo
Interconnected (Matt Webb) / 2014-12-17 13:40

1.

The nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) is tiny and only has 302 neurons. These have been completely mapped and the OpenWorm project is working to build a complete simulation of the worm in software. A neuron map is called a connectome.

(In May, OpenWorm achieved a successful Kickstarter to run the worm's brain in a web browser.)

One of the OpenWorm founders has hooked up the software connectome to sensors and wheels in a Lego robot body: A Worm's Mind In A Lego Body.

It's a funny threshold to cross without much fanfare, the first brain upload.

Is this Artificial Intelligence? What's A. about this A.I.?

Related: The four-colour theorem which was the first to rely on Proof By Computer. Instead of being solved mathematically, every single of the vast number of cases was checked by a computer program. Does this count as a proof? Controversial at the time, more common now.

Related: Slime mold robot. Related: Cyborg cockroaches.

Caenorhabditis elegans. C. elegans.

Is the uploaded nematode a new species? If so, what do we call it?

2.

Books are back in the UK. E-book sales have peaked at 30%; Waterstones (major but recently troubled chain bookshop) is beginning to open new branches.

Old books undergo acid hydrolosis -- lignin, which binds the fibres, oxidises into acids which break down the cellulose. The organic compounds released smell of vanilla and almonds.

3.

I mentioned the Cereal Killer cafe the other day... here's another perspective:

Cereal Killer Cafe, the London Review of Breakfasts.

A wave of nausea suddenly hits me. I'm staring at my notes and the room feels like it's breathing. Then the rest just pours out. 'Is your cafe ironic? Do you really like ADHD kids food? Or just jokingly like it? Is there really anything to celebrate here beyond a profound efficiency in the delivery of deadly consumption habit forming food to minors? Or is that the point?'

Must read.

4.

I get a few specific items from particular brands. For the basics, I love Uniqlo. Great clothes.

...maybe a little bit because I'm in love with their slogans, which every employee must memorise, as related in this GQ article on Uniqlo.

Uniqlo is clothes that suit your values.

Uniqlo is how the future dresses.

CHANGE OR DIE

Fast Company on Uniqlo: We are not a fashion company, ... We are a technology company.

At the factory, a technician hands me a packet of small white pellets that look like albino peppercorns. These are the seeds of HeatTech.

Uniqlo is beauty in hyperpracticality.

Uniqlo is clothing in the absolute.

In Snacks for a Fat Planet (New Yorker, 2011), it turns out that PepsiCo have invented a new kind of salt. So we wondered, was there a different kind of salt crystal that would produce the same taste curve but with less salt?

Yes: 'We don’t know the molecular structure of the salt receptors, and we don't really understand the mechanism by which salt works,' Khan went on. Nevertheless, collaborating with crystal technologists in Munich, PepsiCo was able to develop '15 micron salt,' a new kind of salt that produces the same taste curve as the salt the company has been using - a pyramid-shaped crystal known as Alberger salt - but contains twenty-five to forty per cent less sodium. PepsiCo first used the new salt on its Walker brand of chips, which it sells in the U.K. By the end of 2012, 15 micron salt will be flavoring many of the Lay's plain chips made in the U.S.

Ice-nine.

A.I. elegans.

THEY INVENTED A NEW MOLECULE JUST FOR CRISPS.

Quick hit: #ThisTweetCalledMyBack
Geek Feminism Blog (Tim Chevalier) / 2014-12-17 13:40

Who gets to claim the title “activist”, and who quietly does the work that’s needed for activist movements to succeed while getting simultaneously derided and appropriated from?

A collective of, in their own words, “Black Women, AfroIndigenous and women of color” have issued a statement on how they’re being treated by white feminism, academia, the mainstream media, and the rest of the social-justice-industrial complex:

As an online collective of Black, AfroIndigenous, and NDN women, we have created an entire framework with which to understand gender violence and racial hierarchy in a global and U.S. context. In order to do this however, we have had to shake up a few existing narratives, just like K. Michelle and her infamous table rumble on Love & Hip Hop.

The response has been sometimes loving, but in most cases we’ve faced nothing but pushback in the form of trolls, stalking. We’ve, at separate turns, been stopped and detained crossing international borders and questioned about our work, been tailed and targeted by police, had our livelihoods threatened with calls to our job, been threatened with rape on Twitter itself, faced triggering PTSD, and trudged the physical burden of all of this abuse. This has all occurred while we see our work take wings and inform an entire movement. A movement that also refuses to make space for us while frequently joining in the naming of us as “Toxic Twitter.”

Read the statement from @tgirlinterruptd, @chiefelk, @bad_dominicana, @aurabogado, @so_treu, @blackamazon, @thetrudz, as well as #ThisTweetCalledMyBack on Twitter, for a critical perspective on the role of intersecting racism and sexism in how activist work is valued. If you’ve ever been dismissed as “just an Internet activist” or told to get off your computer and out in the streets, then you need to read this essay. If you’ve ever dismissed someone else as all talk, and no action, not like those real activists who are running big street protests, then you need to read this essay. And if both are true for you, then you need to read this essay.

Fake word history of the month
Language Log (Mark Liberman) / 2014-12-17 13:40

Jason Torchinsky, "A very common word was invented by Dodge", Jalopnik 12/15/2014:

Dodge is known for producing many things, most notably cars, minivans, and sometimes large, lingering clouds of tire smoke. Oh, and the K-Car. But one thing I didn't realize was that they're also in the word business, coining an extremely common word way back in the 1910s. [self-referential clickbait omitted] 

That wasn't so bad, right? Sorry to do that, but, you know, I have old cars to maintain. Okay, here's the word that didn't exist before some Dodge PR guy came up with it:  Dependability.

Um, no. The OED's entry for dependability, not updated since 1933, has

1901   F. T. Bullen Sack of Shakings 264   Next to the Trades in dependability..are the west winds of the regions north and south of the Tropics.

It's easy to antedate this with modern resources — thus from an advertisement in the Chicago Tribune for Sunday, 13 Nov. 1898 (two years before the Dodge Bros. founded their company in 1900, and 17 years before 1915, when Dodge began building complete cars rather than parts for other automakers):

Or from "The Manufacture of Crucible Cast Steel, by Mr. Henry Seebohm", The Journal of the Iron and Steel Institute, 1884:

Or R.H. Inglis Palgrave, "Notes on Banking in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, and Hamburg", Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Vol XXXVI, Year 1873:

It's true that the 1895 Century Dictionary has dependableness but not dependability, reflecting the fact that the frequency of dependability increased rapidly after 1900:

But invented by "some Dodge PR guy" in the 1910's? I don't think so.

Mr. Torchinsky didn't invent this legend — he got it from a nicely-done online car-dealership history ("Reed Brothers Dodge History 1915 – 2012"), which in turn got it from a circa-1930 Dodge advertisement:

The ad doesn't actually claim that Dodge invented the word dependability — it just uses temporal correlation to imply causation: "Dodge Brothers put a certain quality into a motor car. And suddenly, everywhere, people were talking about Dependability."

The most interesting thing about this ad, it seems to me, is that it puts forward a sensible version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, a decade before Benjamin Lee Whorf's "The Relation of Habitual Thought and Behavior to Language":

Give the world a new thing, and the world will immediately find a new word to describe it.

This is not the direction of influence that Whorf preferred, but it's closer to the way that Sapir put it  a few years before in "The Grammarian and his Language", The American Mercury, 1924:

The outstanding fact about any language is its formal completeness. This is as true of a primitive language, like Eskimo or Hottentot, as of the carefully recorded and standardized language of our great cultures. […] [W]e may say that a language is so constructed that no matter what any speaker of it may desire to communicate, no matter how original or bizarre his idea or his fancy, the language is prepared to do his work.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the relations among language, thought, and reality were apparently in the air — for Dodge PR guys as well as for linguists and philosophers.

[h/t Alex King]

$10 is the new minimum
Clover Food Lab (ayr) / 2014-12-17 10:40

MbQuuDXaS8dKlFapQHk7EvrKFVT7BEaJLeKh7hRCV9g

Nobody at Clover makes less than $10/ hour now.

We made this change a few months ago, quietly.

It’s really amazing we’ve been able to raise wages every year since we opened. I hope we can keep that up.

We’re able to do this because of the great work everybody has been doing, and because of our customers who seem to love us despite our failures and keep coming more and more often and bringing more and more friends.

Wage rates are a big topic of conversation right now. It’s a massive challenge, we’d love to pay our employees $20/ hour, but we know you don’t want to pay huge prices for your daily lunch. So we work hard on technology that can support efficiency, driving the most sales we can with every employee working, and investing in training and management to get the most out of the talent we’re lucky to have.

Lucia shared this article the other day that puts this all into perspective: 10 Best Paying Jobs in Fast Foods [Business Insider]. Check out In N Out at the top of the list. They’re still our heroes. Those guys are just amazing. Note that our lowest pay is $10. Our average for this coming year is projected to be something well north of $11/ hr for hourly employees.

We hope the increases help our employees and help us reach new employees. And we hope the higher pay will make each bite taste that much better to customers who know the food is coming from a company that wants to pay employees as much as possible.

The post $10 is the new minimum appeared first on Clover Food Lab.

Fake word history of the month
Language Log (Mark Liberman) / 2014-12-17 09:40

Jason Torchinsky, "A very common word was invented by Dodge", Jalopnik 12/15/2014:

Dodge is known for producing many things, most notably cars, minivans, and sometimes large, lingering clouds of tire smoke. Oh, and the K-Car. But one thing I didn't realize was that they're also in the word business, coining an extremely common word way back in the 1910s. [self-referential clickbait omitted] 

That wasn't so bad, right? Sorry to do that, but, you know, I have old cars to maintain. Okay, here's the word that didn't exist before some Dodge PR guy came up with it:  Dependability.

Um, no. The OED's entry for dependability, not updated since 1933, has

1901   F. T. Bullen Sack of Shakings 264   Next to the Trades in dependability..are the west winds of the regions north and south of the Tropics.

It's easy to antedate this with modern resources — thus from an advertisement in the Chicago Tribune for Sunday, 13 Nov. 1898 (two years before the Dodge Bros. founded their company in 1900, and 17 years before 1915, when Dodge began building complete cars rather than parts for other automakers):

Or from "The Manufacture of Crucible Cast Steel, by Mr. Henry Seebohm", The Journal of the Iron and Steel Institute, 1884:

Or R.H. Inglis Palgrave, "Notes on Banking in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, and Hamburg", Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Vol XXXVI, Year 1873:

It's true that the 1895 Century Dictionary has dependableness but not dependability, reflecting the fact that the frequency of dependability increased rapidly after 1900:

But invented by "some Dodge PR guy" in the 1910's? I don't think so.

Mr. Torchinsky didn't invent this legend — he got it from a nicely-done online car-dealership history ("Reed Brothers Dodge History 1915 – 2012"), which in turn got it from a circa-1930 Dodge advertisement:

The ad doesn't actually claim that Dodge invented the word dependability — it just uses temporal correlation to imply causation: "Dodge Brothers put a certain quality into a motor car. And suddenly, everywhere, people were talking about Dependability."

The most interesting thing about this ad, it seems to me, is that it puts forward a sensible version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, a decade before Benjamin Lee Whorf's "The Relation of Habitual Thought and Behavior to Language":

Give the world a new thing, and the world will immediately find a new word to describe it.

This is not the direction of influence that Whorf preferred, but it's closer to the way that Sapir put it  a few years before in "The Grammarian and his Language", The American Mercury, 1924:

The outstanding fact about any language is its formal completeness. This is as true of a primitive language, like Eskimo or Hottentot, as of the carefully recorded and standardized language of our great cultures. […] [W]e may say that a language is so constructed that no matter what any speaker of it may desire to communicate, no matter how original or bizarre his idea or his fancy, the language is prepared to do his work.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the relations among language, thought, reality were in the air — for Dodge PR guys as well as for linguists and philosophers.

[h/t Alex King]

Curses! Introducing a new blog, "Strong Language"
Language Log (Ben Zimmer) / 2014-12-17 09:40

There's a new linguablog that's definitely worth your time if you're not put off by vulgarities. And if you revel in vulgarities, well, you're in luck. It's called Strong Language, and it's the creation of James Harbeck and Stan Carey.

James and Stan have enlisted a great lineup of contributors (I'm happy to be one of them). As the "About" page explains, Strong Language "gives a place for professional language geeks to talk about things they can’t talk about in more polite contexts. It’s a sweary blog about swearing."

Stan compiled a Storify story detailing how the blog came to life from a Twitter conversation he had with James. Many of us hopped on board soon after that initial exchange. You can follow the blog's Twitter presence at @stronglang.

Here are the posts that have been published so far:

…and I know of several more fascinating posts that are in the pipeline. The blog promises to be dee-fucking-lightful.

Unwearied effort however beefsteak
Language Log (Victor Mair) / 2014-12-17 09:40

I spotted this colossal translation fail at the top of the Chinalawtranslate home page.

Colossal though it may be, the same mistranslation also appears here, amidst an amazing collection of names of dishes seen on actual menus in China. The same mistranslation is also found here and is in the second item here as well.

The correct translation should be zīrán niúpái 孜然牛排 ("cumin beefsteak"), where zīrán 孜然, which may also be written as zīrán qín 孜然芹 (qín 芹 means "celery"), is "cumin".

How in the world do we get from "cumin beefsteak" to "unwearied effort however beefsteak"?  It's a long story, so bear with me.

zī 孜 ("be as diligent as possible; make unwearied effort"), so that's where the "unwearied effort" comes from.  Note, however, that it normally only takes on this meaning when duplicated (zīzī 孜孜) and then usually in quadrisyllabic expressions, e.g.:

zīzī bùjuàn  ~~不倦 ("diligently tireless")

zīzī yǐqiú ~~以求 ("diligently seeking / striving")

This is a very old usage, going back over two thousand years, and continuously employed up to the present time.

There are about a dozen expressions that follow this same model 孜孜XX and mean roughly the same thing, while there are about another dozen expressions where the pattern is reversed (X)X 孜孜 and the 孜孜 in the latter order often functions as an intensifier .  I list those that are easily accessible here without Romanization or translation:

孜孜无怠 孜孜不怠 孜孜不辍 孜孜汲汲 孜孜以求 孜孜不懈 孜孜不已 孜孜无倦 孜孜不倦 孜煎 孜孜矻矻

汲汲孜孜 幸孜孜 念孜孜 喜孜孜 苦孜孜 乐孜孜 意孜孜 苦苦孜孜 美孜孜

So much for zī 孜 ("be as diligent as possible; make unwearied effort"), which yields the "unwearied effort" part of the whimsical name of this dish.

The "however" part comes from the rán 然 of zīrán 孜然.  But rán 然 can only mean "however" in certain syntactic contexts where it functions as a conjunction (or adverb), not after zī 孜.  Although rán 然 joins with other morphemes to form disyllabic conjunctions, it cannot do so with zī 孜.

suīrán 雖然 ("though; although; despite; nevertheless")

guǒrán 果然 ("really; indeed; as expected; sure enough")

jìrán 既然 ("since; as")

rán'ér 然而 ("however; but; yet")

zìrán 自然 ("nature; natural[ly]")

Next question, how do we get "cumin" from zī 孜 ("be as diligent as possible; make unwearied effort") + rán 然 ("however")?  Since there's no way those two morphemes can add up to "cumin", one suspects a borrowing.  It is somewhat reassuring that Wikipedia tells us that zīrán 孜然 ("cumin") comes from Uyghur zire زىرە , but right away we've got problems.

First of all, although it is superficially comforting that cumin is also known in English as "zeera" or "jeera" (see notes 1 and 2 here), at the same time it's disquieting.  Why?  English borrowed this word from Hindi, and Hindi got it from Persian, so it is also highly likely that Uyghur borrowed it from Persian, which is the source of an enormous number of loans in Uyghur.

According to Brian Spooner (personal communication),

Zira is the normal word for cumin in Persian, and cumin is used in probably the majority of Persian and north Indian dishes….  It gets into English through the British Indian use of Persian before 1835, like many other Persian words.

I suspect that Uyghur zire زىرە must come from Middle Persian zhīra / zīra [forgive my perhaps not perfect Romanization] (or perhaps some other Middle Iranian language such as Sogdian [though the Sogdian word for cumin, zyr’kk, doesn't look very promising as a source for the Uyghur word] or Khotanese).  There's also a cognate, jīra, in Sanskrit, but the Sanskrit word for cumin (more on that below) must have come from Iranian, where it is known already in the inscription of Cyrus at Persepolis (late 6th c. BC [?]).

The modern Turkish word for cumin is altogether different from the Persianate Uyghur word.  Today the most common word is kimyon, while there are also some local formations such as boyotu ("grass / weed growing along the banks of a water" (?), or çörek otu for "black cumin".  Zire is mentioned in Ottoman sources as a Persian borrowing, clearly indicating a final vowel; it is not in use today.

The most common Sinitic word for cumin, so far as I know, is xiǎo huíxiāng 小茴香 ("small fennel / anise"), but it gets only 606,000 ghits, whereas zīrán 孜然 receives receives more than twice as many ghits with 1,330,000.  This indicates that, although it is a borrowing, zīrán 孜然 is deeply embedded in Chinese cuisine, most likely via recipes that entered the repertoire through Persianate sources, including Uyghur and imperial Mongolian dishes.

How early did the Chinese know an Iranian word for cumin?  In his celebrated Sino-Iranica (Sino-Iranica. Chinese Contributions to the History of Civilization in Ancient Iran, Chicago 1919), pp. 383-384, Berthold Laufer mentions shíluó 蒔蘿 (“cummin; caraway”).  Although this word is now used for "dill" in modern Mandarin, it is undoubtedly a borrowing from the Middle Persian word for cumin, zhīra / zīra.  The first attestation of shíluó 蒔蘿 I am aware of dates to 1624 (Jǐngshì tōngyán 警世通言 [Stories to Caution the World]), though it may well have occurred before then.

Now, what troubles me is the nasal final of the separate Chinese borrowing, zīrán 孜然.  Perhaps it offers some clue to the precise language from which the Chinese borrowed the term, one that had either a nasal or nasalized final.  Or perhaps it got its additional -n due to some (rhyming?) analogy, and maybe only recently?  Or due to topolectal influence?  Or could it be that, since Mandarin does not have a *ra syllable, ran may have been the closest approximation in the topolect that borrowed zhīra / zīra (or one of its later realizations) as zīrán 孜然.  In any event,it is somewhat puzzling that zīrán 孜然, with Mandarin retroflex approximant /ɻ/ substituted for foreign /r/ was chosen to transcribe zhīra / zīra (or whatever its descendent form may have been at the time the borrowing occurred).  Why not zila?

The Indian forms that include a nasal such as jaraṇa, jīraṇa, and jīrṇa are found with lexicographers and unattested elsewhere.  It is unlikely that they would have had any impact on the question at hand inasmuch as they were (a) developed in India and (b) only locally used (if at all).

For what it's worth here's the second definition in Monier-Williams Sanskrit dictionary for jīra, from the root √jṛī:

=°raṇa, L; Panicum miliaceum, L. Jīraka, m. n. =°raṇa, Suṣr. i; iv, 5, 35; vi; VarBṛS. li, 15; (ikā), f. = jīrṇa-pattrika, L. Jīraṇa, m. = jir°, cumin-seed, L.

where L. = "lexicographers"; Panicum miliaceum = millet; Suṣr. = Suśruta-saṃhitā, an important medical text dated to the 6th century BC; VarBṛS = Varāhamihira’s Bṛhat-saṃhitā, a 6th century CE encyclopedia including info on agriculture; and jīrṇa-pattrika = "large cumin-seed leaf."

Reflections by Leopold Eisenlohr:

According to this entry, jīraṇa and jīrṇa have the same meaning as jīra, and both include the retroflex ṇ which could possibly transform into the dental final in Chinese. One of the meanings of the root √jṛī is "to crackle like fire," and I don't know if that has to do with the flavor since cumin isn't very fiery in comparison to other spices, but then again that was before the importation of a lot of the spicy things we associate with Indian food.

The other line of reasoning that could be followed, which I think is erroneous, is that the dental final comes from the Arabic ending ة a[t], which ends many feminine nouns. It's not always pronounced but often shows up in foreign loans, so that what might be said qudrah in Arabic (though spelled qudra(t)) becomes qudrat in loans. That could be a dental final source if we take the source into Chinese to be zīrat, but this is kind of a pointless argument since I don't think zīra(t) / زيرة  was ever a word in Arabic, but might only be a possible formation from the Indo-Persian zīra / zīreh.

Although we haven't solved all of the problems surrounding the origins of zīrán niúpái 孜然牛排 ("unwearied effort however beefsteak"), at least the main stumbling blocks have been elucidated.

[Thanks to Leopold Eisenlohr, Brian Spooner, Dieter Maue, Stefan Georg, Erika Gilson, and Alexander Vovin]

Furry Friends Meet Cheap Clicks. (Or, the Rabid Proliferation of Year End Photo Lists.)
BAGnewsNotes (Michael Shaw) / 2014-12-17 07:40

2014 lists animals  RHS

Year End Lists TIME

2014 lists animals BF

Animal Lists 4

2014 lists animals 2a

Year End List Atlantic

Is it us or is the avalanche of year-end photo lists — parsed into every more snackable categories — represent a whole new level of click whoring? (Okay, the Atlantic feature isn’t about creatures exactly, but a hat-tip anyway going large with a ‘14 spread over three installments. )

Video Conversation as Online Dating Profile?
Philip Greenspun's Weblog (philg) / 2014-12-17 05:40

Folks:

Nearly everyone in the U.S. has Internet access. Many online dating services are inexpensive or free. Many people are single and say that they would prefer to be partnered and/or married.

From the above facts I think it is reasonable to infer that online dating services are not very effective (see my 2011 posting on the subject).

What could work better? What about a way to learn how a person interacts with other people, e.g., in a conversation? A way to hear how they talk, laugh, respond? Why not a simple video recording of a conversation on general topics? Not “What are you looking for in a partner?” or “How many children do you want to have?” but “What did you do last weekend?” or “What do you think about some recent news stories?”

As I am a documentary filmmaker (translation: “I own a video camera”), it was easy to do a test last weekend. My friend Avni, a single 35-year-old Bostonian interested in marriage, was over for dinner. I recorded about 30 minutes of conversation and edited it down to a five-minute YouTube video.

What do folks think about the result? Does it give a better sense of Avni than a standard online dating profile listing favorite books and movies?

(And finally, if you’re looking for a warm and wonderful partner in the Boston area, send me an email and I will forward it to her!)

[Please forgive some of the technical shortcomings. It was dim light and I had an f/1.8 lens mounted and what looked like sharp focus on the back of the camera doesn't look sharp now. If you're a camera/video nerd, the equipment used was a Canon 5D III on a tripod, an 85/1.8 lens, and, most important, an Azden wireless microphone system (one lav mic mapped to the left channel and one to the right).]

Related: a dating profile that I created for a friend a few years ago; she married a medical doctor with a passion for online communities who was a reader of my site and now they have a very lively two-year-old daughter.

The trailer for our upcoming game, Space Age, is out. Go,...
Neven Mrgan's tumbl / 2014-12-17 02:40



The trailer for our upcoming game, Space Age, is out. Go, explore…

Fuck yeah.
From decklin's contacts (baratunde) / 2014-12-17 01:40

baratunde posted a photo:

Fuck yeah.

Embrace"Refugees"Refugees EP One of the next-big-thing Britpop...
Nervous Acid / 2014-12-17 01:40



Embrace
"Refugees"
Refugees EP

One of the next-big-thing Britpop bands of the ’90s, enough time has elapsed now for Embrace to have added more than one rise-and-fall-and-rise narrative to their CV. For their first new song in eight years, they’re on an uptick: It wouldn’t be Embrace, of course, if it weren’t suitable for a stadium. But while the signifiers for a go-let-it-out anthem are all there, an unfamiliar sense of restraint suggests the lights won’t go up when it’s over. Having well run the course of stadium-sized optimism, “Refugees” is a record that makes you feel like something is finally wrong. It’s my first favorite song of 2014.

Jeff 1000
jwz (jwz) / 2014-12-17 01:40



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