Language Liberalism Freethought Birds
Verbing Weirds Language only if you're expecting it to work in a simple way. This is a special case of the more general truth that Language Weirds.
Only when a republic's life is in danger should a man uphold his government when it is in the wrong. There is no other time.
The church says Earth is flat; but I have seen its shadow on the moon, and I have more confidence in a shadow than the church.
If we can't find Heaven, there are always bluejays.
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Cheap shot but I'm taking it
Discovery Channel has a show (why?) about two senators trying to survive for six days on a island. (Again: why?) There's a review of it in the Post today; it doesn't sound like must-see tv, that's for sure. The contestants in the reviewed episode (yes, this is a premiere (why???)) are Jeff Flake (R-Az) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM). At one point the reviewer says,
Whether or not the show is edited to portray him as a bit of a jerk, it’s Flake who starts in with uninspired, needling jokesC'mon. He's a Republican from Arizona; how much editing would it take?
Badabing. Here all week, try the veal, tip your waitress...
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Happy 100th, Dylan
Another 100th birthday.
Dylan Marlais Thomas was born in Swansea, Wales today in 1914. (Yes, the Dylan Thomas from "the man's so square, when you say "Dylan" he thinks you mean "Dylan Thomas" - whoever he was" ...) (Although by now that reference is probably almost as dated as the concept of the joke in the first place...)
At any rate, Dylan Thomas, who drank himself to death at the age of 39, gave us Under Milk Wood and A Child's Christmas in Wales and A refusal to mourn the death, by fire, of a child in London and probably my favorite of all, Fern Hill (Time held me green and dying / Though I sang in my chains like the sea.).
Here's his Poem In October
It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
And the mussel pooled and the heron
The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall
Myself to set foot
In the still sleeping town and set forth.
My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days.
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
Over the border
And the gates
Of the town closed as the town awoke.
A springful of larks in a rolling
Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling
Blackbirds and the sun of October
On the hill's shoulder,
Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly
Come in the morning where I wandered and listened
To the rain wringing
Wind blow cold
In the wood faraway under me.
Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
And over the sea wet church the size of a snail
With its horns through mist and the castle
Brown as owls
But all the gardens
Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall tales
Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.
There could I marvel
Away but the weather turned around.
It turned away from the blithe country
And down the other air and the blue altered sky
Streamed again a wonder of summer
Pears and red currants
And I saw in the turning so clearly a child's
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother
Through the parables
Of sun light
And the legends of the green chapels
And the twice told fields of infancy
That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.
These were the woods the river and sea
Where a boy
In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.
And the mystery
Still in the water and singing birds.
And there could I marvel my birthday
Away but the weather turned around. And the true
Joy of the long dead child sang burning
In the sun.
It was my thirtieth
Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon
Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.
O may my heart's truth
Still be sung
On this high hill in a year's turning.
Happy Birthday, Dr Salk!
It was a hot summer afternoon. My mother took us to the schoolyard at Woodland Elementary and she stood in a long line of other mothers (there may have been fathers there, I was too young to remember that now). She stood for hours in the hot Tennessee sun, and we - my brothers and sisters and all the other mothers' kids - ran and played in the school playground. I didn't really understand why we were there; I did know that my mother, all the mothers, were in the grip of some emotion I couldn't understand. They weren't afraid, though - just the opposite: happy, keyed up, talking and laughing and not caring about the heat or the length of the line or long wait. That's really what I remember: that line of women, waiting with relief and joy.
Eventually my mother got to the head of the line, and the five of us kids each got a sugar cube. It was that simple.
I never knew anyone who caught polio. I knew a few who had caught it before I was born, but it was a word to me, not a terror.
Jonas Salk was born today, in New York City,
And check out Google's Doodle.
Sunday, October 26, 2014
The Week in Entertainment
Live: I Love Lucy Live On Stage at the Hippodrome, which was a lot of fun - more fun than I thought it would be when I saw it was in the package. I knew all the ads, too, except the Dorothy Gray Cold Cream.... Which, wow. Check it out below.
DVD: The rest of Murdoch Mysteries season 7. My god what a way to end the season! Now I have to wait for 8 to see about Brackenreid!! A few more Scott & Bailey eps, from the second season. Good character development, especially on Bailey, who was quite ... unlikeable in season one. Philomena, which was, as advertised, a tour-de-force performance by Judi Dench.
TV: Modern Family - Claire and Phil all over the house-buyers ("you're in bed with the right people!") was hilarious. Lily wanting to learn "to read and do math" was wonderful. As was "I will take Lily back if you can tell me the object of this sentence: Lily's parents were wrong about Mrs. Plank." "I think... the object is to humiliate us?" "Correct." Doctor Who had a good episode; I loved Maeve's "Everything confuses me so I don't say anything about" attitude (don't want it, but loved it). Pink continues to be more understanding than Clara deserves; What I never did get was why the hell Clara was lying to Danny in the first place. It's not like he gave her any ultimatum - never said don't go with the Doctor, never said anything beyond "don't lie to me". But it rather looks like it'll all be moot anyway, judging by the previews.
Read:The first two of Jonathan Stroud's Lockwood & Co. books. Very good world-building (if short on the explanation) and nice action.The Confession of Helen Vardon, which was not the best Dr Thorndyke novel I've ever read, not by a long shot!, and was narrated by the eponymous woman who was flat-out annoying. The Nightingale Before Christmas, the most recent Meg Langslow, which was enjoyable. A Snicker of Magic, a very enjoyable YA.
Saturday, October 25, 2014
The worst yet?
OMG Bing this is maybe your worst yet.
Навстречу переводу стрелок на час назад
To transfer the shooter on an hour ago
Gazeta is reminding Russians of the approach of "winter time" - that is, when the hands of the clock are put back an hour. Not when the shooter is transferred an hour ago. Sheesh.
I don't even know how they got "to transfer the shooter" from "Навстречу переводу стрелок", I really don't. Навстречу is literally "to the meeting" and means "to approach, to go to meet, to meet halfway." And though перевод does mean transfer, or translation, or a lot of other things, it's not a verb, it's a noun. And стрелок is a shooter, but that's the nominative form and here what we have is the genitive plural of стрелка, which is "arrow" or "pointer" or in the plural "clock hands". Bing has completely ignored all the grammar in the phrase (to the meeting of the transfer of the hands). I mean, if it was "transfer the shooter" it would be перевод (or more likely переводить) стрелка, not переводу стрелок. And the grammar of на час назад, too. That's not "on an hour", which would be locative case; it's "by an hour" in the accusative, and the на makes it impossible for it to mean "an hour ago" - it has to be "an hour back(wards)".
This is just unbelievably bad.
Not that Google is any better: "Towards translation shooter hour ago". It knows навстречу, unlike Bing, but it picks a different wrong word for переводу and makes the same unforgivable grammar errors with "переводу стрелок", resulting in the same case and number error ("shooter" instead of "hands") as Bing's. "Hour ago" is bad English, and it ignores the на, too.
This isn't even hard Russian!
Friday, October 24, 2014
Well, that didn't take long
So, Bing got it right yesterday. But today they're back on form:
Yep. A simple little couple of sentences. «Не мы это начали»: Как Россия Владимира Путина будет менять международный порядок
And Bing says "Don't we began: the Russia of Vladimir Putin to change the international order".
To start, Bing misses the quotation marks. Then ... "Don't we began".
"Don't we began"?? Bing, that's not English. The не is modifying мы, anyway - "not we" - and you forgot the это. "We didn't start this."
Then you totally left out the как. That means "how". And the будет, which means "will" - the future tense. And that means the sentence isn't "the Russia of Putin to change" (which, again, isn't English) but rather "how the Russia of Vladmir Putin will change the international order."
So Bing left out three crucial words and misplaced the "not". Not a good sign.
Google isn't much better. ""Do not we have started," How Russia Vladimir Putin will change the international order"
They got the quotataion marks, and the "how" and the "will"... but "Do not we have started"? Seriously? And where's the "this"? It's not just "starting", it's "starting this". And missing that Putin's name is in the genitive case? How does a translation algorithm do that?
What? C'mon, guys
Okay, I'm going to object. "Chaplinesque" doesn't really apply to the comedy of the actual Charlie Chaplin.
Merriam Webster defines it as:
resembling or suggesting the largely pantomime comedy of the motion-picture comedian Charles Chaplin, especially its central comedy figure, a pathetic ineffectual good-hearted tramp with torn baggy pants, long-worn shoes, cane and bowler hat, an odd jerky walk, and pretensions to gentility"Resembling or suggesting". Not, you know, being.
Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, s.v. “Chaplinesque,” accessed October 24, 2014, http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com.
The Hot Zone: halfway decent horror novel, crap science
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Credit where due
Because I mock Bing when it fails, here's one it gets right:
Родители, которые ухаживают за детьми с инвалидностью, с ВИЧ-инфекцией, другими тяжёлыми заболеваниями, нуждаются в особой поддержке. Планируем продлить срок специальных выплат до достижения ребенком 18-летнего возраста вместо 15, как это происходит сейчас.Google does just fine, too:
Parents caring for children with disabilities, HIV, other severe diseases, need special support. We plan to extend the special pay until the child reaches the age of 18, instead of 15, as is currently the case.
Parents who care for children with disabilities, HIV and other serious diseases, need special support. We plan to extend the special payments until the child reaches the age of 18 instead of 15, as is happening now.
A commenter at Whatever says, in answer to Scalzi's post telling #Gamergate followers how to really boycott him:
I don’t assume that every non-theist I meet endorses everything Richard Dawkins says. I don’t assume every Muslim I meet supports ISIS. I don’t assume every American I meet endorses drone strikes. And I don’t assume that everyone using the “gamergate” hash tag endorses threats of violence.But there's a flaw here.
Not every atheist labels their speech with #IHeartDawkins (or whatever). Not every Muslim labels theirs #ISISRulz. Not every American labels theirs #Drones4Ever.
But every person "using the "gamergate" hash tag" chooses to label themselves that way.
So it's not at all unreasonable to assume - especially this deep into it - that they do in fact endorse the #Gamergate ethos.
If they don't, they're free to choose another hashtag.
Harsh? Not too.
I can't say I have much sympathy for people cancelling their flights to places like South Africa or India or London - or even domestically! - because of Ebola who are discovering that they can't get reimbursed. This fear-based reaction doesn't deserve to be catered to.
Your science-free bubble should be expensive.