May 3, 2016
Brain Map Of Responses To Words
A couple of scientists, using MRI, have mapped which parts of the brain respond to certain words. If you want the original article in Nature, here it is. But what you want to see is this easy to understand video.
And then what you want to see is this interactive 3D map of the brain. Click on a spot and it tells you the words that activate that area. Here are some sample results:
Ideas: they need to do this with other languages too, and with different dialects of English, to see the differences and similarities; where are the obscenities?; technical words and jargon - let's see how those get mapped.
November 6, 2015
Two Reasons For Decline Of Canadian Bees
- "One reason is that they are imported from locations with warmer climates."
- "Another reason is they are not used to Canadian cold weather."
Uh, aren't those kinda sorta the same reason? "Another is that when they froze solid they would not fly."
August 18, 2015
Geodesic Dome Glut (I.E. Two) For Sale In The High Desert
You've got your choice:
- A geodesic dome in Joshua Tree, 1,794 sq. ft., 2 acres, $329,000. "this unique home will make a perfect vacation house or full time residence."
- A bigger geodesic dome also in Joshua Tree, very close to the other one. 2,700 sq. ft, 5 acres, indoor pool(!), $639,000. "this may be one of the most unique properties in Joshua Tree."
Real estate agents are allowed to break the English language in order to facilitate sales.
June 30, 2015
U.S. Has The 2nd Largest Population Of Native Spanish Speakers In The World
52.6 million, they say, while Spain has only 46 million. Mexico takes the top spot with 121 million. The U.S. Census estimates that the U.S. will surpass Mexico by 2050, when they expect the number of native Spanish speakers in the U.S. to have become 138 million.
May 19, 2014
American Language Map
Maps showing the most frequently spoken languages in the U.S. after English and Spanish. In Washington, Oklahoma, Texas and Nebraska the third most spoken language is Vietnamese. In California and Nevada, Tagalog. In Arizona and New Mexico it's Navajo.
February 23, 2014
Amtrak Has A Plan
A plan to give free (or low cost) residencies to writers. The residencies will be on Amtrak trains, of course. They've made two test runs and are devising the rules & procedures now. It'll be like a revival of the Federal Writer's Project, sorta. I mean, they are going to be traveling around America, right, so some of them will probably be inspired to write something about America...although they might just as well be inspired to write about trains in India.
February 14, 2014
Actually, to be entirely fair, I suspect this was done by the company that dug that trench and put down the new pavement you see on the right; not by a contractor to the city. BTW, what are those people doing going around digging trenches? They're not undergrounding power lines. Somebody please tell me it's Verizon putting in fiber.
Thanks to Russ Martin for pointing me to this.
Ya know, the customers at Gypsyland might just enjoy this at is. Leave it as is and maybe they'll start bringing friends here to see it.
October 25, 2013
"You suck, sir."
Grade 11 Student: "Sir, if you didn't have cell phones when you were our age, how did you talk to friends on the phone, especially girls?"
Me: "We rarely talked too long on the phone back then because everyone's parents would answer the phone first. Plus, everyone had only one line to share with the whole family, so no one could hog the line."
Her: "That sounds horrible."
Me: "I just realized this is my generation's walked-barefoot-to-school-in-the-snow story."
July 1, 2013
Word o' the day
1. A view stubbornly held in spite of clear evidence that it's wrong.
2. A person who holds such a view.
May 15, 2013
Best Used Car Ad Ever
1991 SUBARU BRUMBY. FULL SERVICE HISTORY. 185,000km
Fabricated from rare minerals excavated from the core of Mount Olympus, artfully designed by Zeus and skillfully handcrafted in the Land of the Rising Sun by the deft hands of the infamous 7 Samurai. This Japanese rice-rocket is unquestionably the most heroic form of transport since the Apollo 11 lunar module.
Searching for a delightful automobile to ferry you to Angus and Robertson to buy Fifty Shades of Grey, or perhaps cart little Timmy to clarinet lessons? Do me a favour, smash your laptop on the ground, give yourself an uppercut and take a good, long look in the mirror. Frankly, I'm offended.
If, on the other hand, you're hunting for the most diabolical slab of precious metal to be synthesised during the Big Bang, please continue…
To date, the most monumental day of your existence was your wedding, or the birth of your children. That's about to change! In fact, you'd trade your spouse and all of your offspring just to test-drive this barbarian.
...and continues in that vein.
May 1, 2013
Some Effective Writing
The Iron Monkeys ("We make stuff out of steel, then light it on fire") have announced their 2013 art project for Burning Man: Guardian Of Dawn.
Imagine standing outside on a moonless night in one of the few remaining places on earth from which no lights or signs of civilization are visible. Blanketed in the blackest night, you could remember the fear of chaos and the uncertainty of the dawn. You could remember, too, the tension of the unknown and tap into the superstitious mind that originally created myths and gods, grasping to bring order to the vast world lying before you.
Built with her back to the dawn, the Guardian keeps watch silently during the day, her wings closed, passive in the clarity of the light. With the onset of the darkness she is called to her purpose - wings open, fire beckons, hope maintains through the darkness. Part cargo plane part dragonfly, the Guardian is a mesh of nature and machine, a creation of our human desire to place structure on the unexplainable. Like so many myths that came before her, she is a physical manifestation of the fear and uncertainty inherent in her people, and she offers them what they seek. In this case, she offers hope.
The writing staff at Iron Monkeys has found an effective way to rewrite the standard Burning Man art project proposal: "we're going to light it up at night!"
There is no place at Burning Man where you can experience being "Blanketed in the blackest night." I mean, the place is on fire all night long! Even out at the very edges, next to the trash fence, you know that our law enforcement buddies are using infrared to observe us.
Nonetheless, good writing deserves to be rewarded. Here's their Indiegogo page. They'd like $10,000 please. Explanatory video. The list of rewards for donors begins at about 3:02 and is the best part.
November 24, 2012
Press Release: Robbery
Agency: La Quinta Police
Station Area: Thermal
Incident Date: 11/23/2012 Time: 4:42 am
Incident Location: 78935 Hwy 111, La Quinta (Target Store)
Reporting Officer: Sergeant Robert Bishop Booking Photos & ID Correction: 11/24/2012
La Quinta Police Officers responded to the above listed address reference a robbery. Loss prevention agents, working the store's Black Friday event, attempted to apprehend 3 suspects involved in a theft of store merchandise. As loss prevention agents attempted to arrest the suspects outside the store, one of the suspects displayed a non-lethal weapon. Just prior to the suspects fleeing in a black Ford Explorer, one suspect also claimed to possess a firearm.
Officers searched the area and located the Ford at a gas station on the corner of Country Club Drive and Washington Street in Palm Desert. La Quinta Police, with assistance from Palm Desert Police and California Highway Patrol, conducted a high risk stop and apprehended 5 subjects inside the Ford. Two of the subjects were questioned and released. The other three occupants were identified as the suspects involved in the incident:
- Louis Ivan Fuentes, age 19 of Los Angeles, booked into the Riverside County Jail in Indio for robbery and burglary
- Juvenile, age 17 of Highland Park, booked into Juvenile Hall for burglary (Note: originally reported as Joseph Vega, age 18 of Los Angeles, but Vega was later determined to be a false identity and the male was found to be a juvenile.)
- Marvin Amezquita, age 22 of Los Angeles, booked into the Riverside County Jail in Indio for burglary
What's a "non-lethal weapon?" A soft tomato?
June 12, 2012
WBEZ (Chicago) is hosting a brief interview with William Leap, an anthropology professor at American University, on the subject of "Lavender Linguistics," gurlfriend. They didn't teach that when I was in college.
Next year will be the 20th anniversary Lavender Languages & Linguistics Conference in Washington, D.C.
April 16, 2012
I found this spelling error really interesting since I know nothing about Spanish misspellings in the U.S. Was "Cayle" an attempt to write it in Spanish with a hint to English speakers how to pronounce it? This photo was shot on Friday, April 6.
February 8, 2012
9th Circuit Has Some Good Writers
Prop 8 Trial Tracker picks out the Top 10 Quotes from the yesterday's decision on Prop 8. I'll give you just Number 10:
We need consider only the many ways in which we encounter the word "marriage" in our daily lives and understand it, consciously or not, to convey a sense of significant. We are regularly given forms to complete that ask us whether we are "single" or "married." Newspapers run announcements of births, deaths, and marriages. We are excited to see someone ask, "Will you marry me?", whether on bended knee in a restaurant or in text splashed across a stadium Jumbotron. Certainly it would not have the same effect to see "Will you enter into a registered domestic partnership with me?". Groucho Marx's one-liner, "Marriage is a wonderful institution … but who wants to live in an institution?" would lack its punch if the word "marriage" were replaced with the alternative phrase. So too with Shakespeare's "A young man married is a man that's marr'd," Lincoln's "Marriage is neither heaven nor hell, it is simply purgatory," and Sinatra's "A man doesn't know what happiness is until he's married. By then it's too late." We see tropes like "marrying for love" versus "marrying for money" played out again and again in our films and literature because of the recognized important and permanence of the marriage relationship. Had Marilyn Moneroe's film been called How to Register a Domestic Partnership with a Millionaire, it would not have conveyed the same meaning as did her famous movie, even though the underlying drama for same-sex couples is no different. The name "marriage" signifies the unique recognition that society gives to harmonious, loyal, enduring, and intimate relationships.
November 22, 2011
KESQ Reports Palm Springs TSA Screenings To Be Extradited
Airport Executive Director Tom Nolan recommended checking the Transportation Security Administration website -- www.tsa.gov -- about what can be packed and taken through security.
"It's the busiest time at airports nationwide," he said. "It would help extradite screening."
November 11, 2011
At The IHub
Last night was the Tri-Chamber Mixer (or something like that). The Chambers of Commerce of Desert Hot Springs, Palm Springs and Cathedral City all together at the IHub in Palm Springs.
The historical plaques on the building. 1959 is readable. 2011 is like a standard Powerpoint presentation where in the pursuit of preserving "white space" the text is rendered unreadable, unless you look at a larger version.
Mayor Parks was there along with Mayors DeRosa and Pougnet.
Let's put a stop to this nonsense before it gets widespread. First, it's spelled Blu-ray. There is no "e" in "Blu-ray." Second, it's a "Blu-ray player." Yes, it also plays DVDs and CDs and provides a warm shelf where your cat can rest. But it's not a Blu-ray DVD-CD-Player Cat-Warming-Tray. Just say "Blu-ray player."
November 2, 2011
Again I point out this touchstone of clear English writing: George Orwell's essay, Politics and the English Language. Re-read it. You may want to update some of the mid-twentieth century examples he gives to the balderdash that's being shoveled now, but the essence remains the same.
In our time it is broadly true that political writing is bad writing. Where it is not true, it will generally be found that the writer is some kind of rebel, expressing his private opinions and not a ‘party line’. Orthodoxy, of whatever colour, seems to demand a lifeless, imitative style. The political dialects to be found in pamphlets, leading articles, manifestos, White papers and the speeches of undersecretaries do, of course, vary from party to party, but they are all alike in that one almost never finds in them a fresh, vivid, homemade turn of speech. When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases — bestial, atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder — one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy: a feeling which suddenly becomes stronger at moments when the light catches the speaker's spectacles and turns them into blank discs which seem to have no eyes behind them. And this is not altogether fanciful. A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone some distance toward turning himself into a machine. The appropriate noises are coming out of his larynx, but his brain is not involved, as it would be if he were choosing his words for himself. If the speech he is making is one that he is accustomed to make over and over again, he may be almost unconscious of what he is saying, as one is when one utters the responses in church. And this reduced state of consciousness, if not indispensable, is at any rate favourable to political conformity.
October 19, 2011
Scientific English compared to General Public English
AGO Blogosphere highlights this list of terms that, when used by scientists, may be misunderstood by the general public. The table appeared in Physics Today.
Examples: "theory" may be understood by the public to mean "hunch, speculation" while what scientists actually mean is "scientific understanding." "Error" might be understood to mean "mistake, wrong, incorrect" when scientists actually mean "difference from exact true number."
(Via Bad Astrtonomy).
July 1, 2011
The History Of English In Ten Easy Parts
Ten YouTube snippets, each a little more than one minute long, scan the history of the English language. There should be eleven snippets, but they totally skip Middle English, the language as it existed after the Norman Conquest, but before the Tudors - you are familiar with it in The Canterbury Tales. So here are the ten fun parts of the history of English:
- One, the Romans leave England and the Angles and Saxons take their place.
- Two, the Norman Conquest which brought us justice, beef and pork.
- Three, Shakespeare, AKA "Early Modern English."
- The King James Bible, still considered the only true revealed word of God by some people.
- Science, especially Newton and acid, gravity, pendulum, penis and vagina.
- Six, empire: barbecue, canoe, yoga, bungalow, voodoo, zombie, and nugget.
- Seven, dictionaries. Samuel Johnson and Oxford.
- Eight, American English with raccoon, squash and moose from the Indians, plus more from the Dutch, Germans, and Italians, plus the words of capitalism, economic growth, and movies.
- Nine, the internet with download and IMHO, WTF?
- Ten, global English, meaning the English of China, Singapore, India, etc.