“Every day we slaughter our finest impulses. That is why we get a heartache when we read those lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as the tender shoots which we stifled because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers, our own criterion of truth and beauty. Every man, when he gets quiet, when he becomes desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. there is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, only to discover what is already there.”—Henry Miller, Sexus (via liquidnight)
“It`s better not to know so much about what things mean or how they might be interpreted or you`ll be too afraid to let things keep happening. Psychology destroys the mystery, this kind of magic quality. It can be reduced to certain neuroses or certain things, and since it is now named and defined, it`s lost its mystery and the potential for a vast, infinite experience.”—David Lynch (via stuckinhyperspace)
“Bidouillabilité nom féminin, traduction du terme anglais Hackability. Capacité – pour un objet technique ou un outil – à être détourné de sa vocation initiale en vue d’essayer de lui trouver de nouveaux usages. Se dit d’un système dont on peut observer le fonctionnement interne pour le comprendre, en vue de le modifier. Issu du terme anglais Hacker qui a donné hackability, qu’il ne faut pas prendre au sens de pirate informatique (abus de langage récent, surtout dans les médias). La bidouillabilité ne tient pas compte de la légalité de la démarche : quand on détourne l’usage d’un système technique de façon créative, c’est démontrer sa bidouillabilité, que la démarche soit légale ou pas. Voir aussi le Jargon file : The meaning of Hack, qui définit le hack comme étant “une démonstration de créativité intelligente”.”—“Bidouillabilité : une définition” par Tristan Nitot sur Standblog (October 1st, 2009)
Most linguistics departments have an introduction-to-language course in which students other than linguistics majors can be exposed to at least something of the mysteries of language and communication: signing apes and dancing bees; wild children and lateralization; logographic writing and the Rosetta Stone; pit and spit; Sir William Jones and Professor Henry Higgins; isoglosses and Grimm’s Law;
Jabberwocky and colourless green ideas; and of course, without fail, the Eskimos and their multiple words for snow.
Few among us, I’m sure, can say with certainty that we never told an awestruck sea of upturned sophomore faces about the multitude of snow descriptors used by these lexically profligate hyperborean nomads, about whom so little information is repeated so often to so many. Linguists have been just as active as schoolteachers or general knowledge columnists in spreading the entrancing story. What a pity the story is unredeemed piffle… .
Don’t be a coward like me. Stand up and tell the speaker this: C.W. Schultz-Lorentzen’s Dictionary of the West Greenlandic Eskimo Language (1927) gives just two possibly relevant roots: qanik, meaning ‘snow in the air’ or ‘snowflake’, and aput, meaning ‘snow on the ground’. Then add that you would be interested to know if the speaker can cite any more.
This will not make you the most popular person in the room. It will have an effect roughly comparable to pouring fifty gallons of thick oatmeal into a harpsichord during a baroque recital. But it will strike a blow for truth, responsibility, and standards of evidence in linguistics.
”—Geoffrey K. Pullum, “The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax” (1989), in PDF. (via ayjay)
But the secret to Google’s success was actually not PageRank, although it makes for a good foundation myth. The now-forgotten AltaVista, buried within Yahoo and due to be shut down, actually returned great results by employing the exact opposite of PageRank, and returned pages that were hubs and had links to related content.
Google’s secret was that it could scale infinitely on low-cost hardware and was able to keep up with the Internet’s exponential growth, while its competitors such as AltaVista were running on expensive, big machines running processors like the DEC Alpha. When the size of the Web doubled, Google could cheaply keep up on commodity PC hardware, and AltaVista was left behind. Cheap and expandable computing, not ranking Web pages, is what Google does best.
Quotations from politicians have been getting shorter for more than a century. According to a new article in the academic journal Journalism Studies by David M. Ryfe and Markus Kemmelmeier, both professors at the University of Nevada, newspaper quotations evolved in much the same way as TV sound bites. By 1916, they found, the average political quotation in a newspaper story had fallen to about half the length of the average quotation in 1892.
One way to interpret this, of course, is that we’ve been getting dumber since 1892 instead of since 1968. But Ryfe and Kemmelmeier also suggest that the truth is more complicated. The sound bite, they argue, stems less from a collapse in standards or seriousness than from the rise of a more sophisticated and independent style of journalism — which means the sound bite might not be such a bad thing. Letting politicians ramble doesn’t necessarily produce a better or more informative political discourse. Daniel Hallin, the professor behind the original study on TV sound bites, actually made the same point back in 1992, but Dukakis and his fellow critics passed right by it in their excitement over those ugly statistics. And that’s one of the ironies here: The best research on sound bites was itself turned into a sound bite.
“Dear sir or madam,”—“Across the Internet the use of ‘dear’ is going the way of sealing wax,” according to the Wall Street Journal. “Email has come to be viewed as informal even when used as formal communication, leaving some etiquette experts appalled at the ways professional strangers address one another.” (via utnereader)
Islomania is a craze for or a strong attraction to islands. The condition was first identified by British writer Lawrence Durrell in his book Reflections on a Marine Venus (1953). In a letter to a friend Durrell wrote: “Islomania is a rare affliction of spirit. There are people who find islands somehow irresistible. The mere knowledge that they are in a little world surrounded by sea fills them with an indescribable intoxication.” (via sleevia)