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Although I normally try to avoid the temptation to put quotes up on my walls, I couldn't resist with these (see below). They are a bit long, but worth reading, at least in my mind; and Guy Deutscher is such a beautiful writer that it makes me want to expound on the relationship between thought and language. Instead, however, I will let Deutscher do it for me:

A nation's language, so we are often told, reflects its culture, psyche, and modes of thought. Peoples in tropical climes are so laid-back it's no wonder they let most of their consonants fall by the wayside. And one need only compare the mellow sounds of Portuguese with the harshness of Spanish to understand the quintessential difference between these two neighboring cultures. The grammar of some languages is simply not logical enough to express complex ideas. German, on the other hand, is an ideal vehicle for formulating the most precise philosophical profundities, as it is a particularly orderly language, which is why the Germans have such orderly minds. (But can one not hear the goose step in its gauche, humorless sounds?) Some languages don't even have a future tense, so their speakers naturally have no grasp of the future. The Babylonians would have been hard-pressed to understand Crime and Punishment, because their language used one and the same word to describe both of these concepts. The craggy fjords are audible in the precipitous intonation of Norwegian, and you can hear the dark l's of Russian in Tchaikovsky's lugubrious tunes. French is not only a Romance language but the language of romance par excellence. English is an adaptable, even promiscuous language, and Italian—ah, Italian!
...
Most foreigners cannot hear the difference between rugged Norwegian and the endless plains of Swedish. The industrious Protestant Danes have dropped more consonants into their icy wind-swept soil than any indolent tropical tribe. And if Germans do have systematic minds, this is just as likely to be because their exceedingly erratic mother tongue has exhausted their brains' capacity to cope with any further irregularity. English speakers can hold lengthy conversations about forthcoming events wholly in the present tense (I'm flying to Vancouver next week …) without any detectable loosening in their grip on the concepts of futurity. No language—not even that of the most "primitive" tribes—is inherently unsuitable for expressing the most complex ideas. Any shortcomings in a language's ability to philosophize simply boil down to the lack of some specialized abstract vocabulary and perhaps a few syntactic constructions, but these can easily be borrowed, just as all European languages pinched their verbal philosophical tool kit from Latin, which in turn lifted it wholesale from Greek. If speakers of any tribal tongue were so minded, they could easily do the same today, and it would be eminently possible to deliberate in Zulu about the respective merits of empiricism and rationalism or to hold forth about existentialist phenomenology in West Greenlandic.

- Deutscher, from Through the Language Glass


Confirmation bias at its most extreme! At any rate, Deutscher isn't exactly saying anything new, but he does it so well that I just had to post it. I take tiny issue with his claim that "it would be eminently possible to deliberate in Zulu ...": I know next to nothing about Zulu, but I have no reason not to think that Zulu speakers are perfectly capable of discussing empiricism, rationalism, and existential phenomenology in Zulu as it is without the influence of Indo-European. Perhaps they don't have concepts that are direct translations of the English ones, but I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Zulu speakers didn't already discuss these issues.

And one last quote, just because it is funny:

In his De orator of 55 BC, [Cicero] embarked on a lengthy sermon about the lack of a Greek equivalent for the Latin word ineptus (meaning "impertinent" or "tackless"). [For Cicero], the absence of the word was proof that the fault was so wide-spread among the Greeks that they didn't even notice it.

-Deutscher


I have one more, but it requires IPA, which I am still trying to figure out how to do in Dreamwidth.

Edit: Deutscher is obviously taking the theory of linguistic relativity to an illogical extreme that has little to do with what Whorf, Sapir, or any of the others probably thought; but I, at least, find it funny, if in large part because it reminds me of how I think about languages: each has its own color, its own pattern, that is probably my subconscious turning our society's beliefs about the people who speak those languages into colors—or something like that. English, for the record, is a sort of crystallized light blue-green at the lexical level, but black and dark blue at the level of syntax, and reddish-orange in its morphology.

Fake out

Feb. 2nd, 2011 09:55 am
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This is officially the most miserable weather I have ever had in college. In high school, we were just inside all day; but now, I actually have to walk around in the FREEZING RAIN!!!!!!!!! The side walks ice over the moment the rain-like substance hits the ground, so I have to shuffle along to class praying I don't slip and kill myself (not that I really think I would die, but still). And it is really raining—my backpack got soaked through, but luckily my computer has thus far survived intact. But it is cold, wet, icy, dangerous, and just in general disgusting.

And, annoying, the Weather People told us that there would be 14 inches of snow; not that I trust them in the least, but at the very least they could have warned us about the FREEZING RAIN.

I swear I love New England weather, I do!

I don't actually consider Rhode Island to be "real" New England, but every once in a while it does a decent impersonation.

Lie to Me was decent on Monday; I don't really like when they start off with scenes that are supposed to be awful, and then flash back to how they got up to that scene, only to make the story significantly less exciting than it at first appeared. In this case, Gillian was all covered in blood, which was terrible; but nothing had actually happened to her, though at the beginning it appeared that she had had to fend off some sadistic attacker. The truth was kind of disgusting, but as I am not nearly as emotionally invested in the once-a-week side characters, I was all set for Gillian to pull of some fantastic heroics. But she didn't.

Alas.

Back to class!
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The course that meets before my Language Processing class was running late today, so we moved our class to an adjacent room that was larger and better suited to our class. Unfortunately, though, it had a pole in the middle of the room that made it a little difficult for some of us to see part of the board. That, however, wasn't all the classroom had: in the closet (no kidding, the closet!) there was a tombstone to Archie van Griffin and his wife, Lulu Lester. It wasn't dug into the ground or anything, so it was a little unclear why exactly it was there—i.e., were Archie van Griffin and his wife, Lulu Lester, actually buried beneath the floor of the closet of the classroom, or was their tombstone just being stored there for some unknowable reason?

At any rate, some of the students in the class were a little weirded out by it. I suppose I can understand, but by now, Archie and Lulu are surely bones; they've been in the ground since 1935, if I remember correctly. Bones don't freak me out that much.

On a mostly unrelated note, the professor for Evolution of Lacustrine Ecosystems was sick today, so she just gave us the assignment for next week and left. This means that I still have not had that class, which worries me a bit; I am a bit all over the place when it comes to picking classes (okay, maybe that's incorrect: I am extremely all over the place), mostly because I pick classes almost entirely by whether the professor is good. This might be why I am not exactly on track to graduate ... **cough cough** At any rate, I think I am going to start shopping another class in case I change my mind on this one.

I will do homework tonight! I will!
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I got my first compliment for a good play in Dominion today. :) I know, I know, that pretty much means I've been playing way too much Dominion lately, but still. I King's Courted some Bridges and Nobles, so I got -3$ per Bridge played, and then I could use my Nobles to get more actions and cards in order to get enough money to buy, in one turn, four Colonies (because each Colony only cost 4$ by the time I had finished King's Courting a King's Court and playing all the Bridges). In another turn, I bought a Colony, a Nobles, and four Golds in the same manner. It was, needless to say, and awesome spread, and a fantastic combination of cards; I only wish I had planned it to be so awesome, but instead I just happened to hit upon a good combination. At any rate, I will definitely look out for a spread like this again, because it really, really worked.

I also played the fastest game of my life—it took four minutes, no kidding. I usually expect about 15-20 minutes; so I was tad bit worried when I realized I had started a game with only about 15 minutes left before I was supposed to be somewhere, but I had forgotten that I have to actually walk there. Luckily, though, I got to write this instead. :) ... And I am now going to be late. :P
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I knew there was a reason I am concentrating in linguistics.

<3!!!!

Dude

Jan. 27th, 2011 12:48 pm
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For my Linguistic Anthropology class, we have to read Scott Kiesling's article on the word dude. I've read this article before, but I started reading it anyway. Early on in the article, Kiesling says that young men use dude to indicate "cool solidarity." On the first day of class, the Linguistic Anthropology professor said that she would randomly call on people to summarize the readings each day of class. Here is the conversation that went on in my brain:

prof: Okay, so can you summarize what the Kiesling article was about? // points to me

me: **thinking subconsciously** I want to show the kind of attitude that dude expresses.

me: **out loud** Well, he was talking about how "dude" indicates "cool solidarity." So that would be, like, if I were to say "Dude, it's fine, we'll just do something else later." // I was thinking about how ML hasn't been very enthusiastic about doing ANYTHING, so I have to keep reassuring her that we could hang out later.

I think I got the point of the article.

Except, you know, for the part where I'm not a young man. But that's beside the point.

Apparently, dude expresses itself so well that other words aren't really necessary.

Also, it has already snowed significant inchage three times in the four and a half days since I have been back. Most places the snow is up to about a foot and a half; and apparently the plows aren't capable of keeping up with the snow, so that getting to breakfast this morning took significantly longer than it ought to have.
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So, I've been unpacking various boxes from various places, and unfortunately discovered that I didn't pack what I thought I had packed, and that I had packed things I hadn't intended to. For example: I forgot a hairbrush, scissors, extra coat hangers, pillows, plates and bowls (well, I only wanted one of each). I brought two extra towels, a ton of shirts, extra ethernet cords, a lot of sponges but no dishwashing liquid, only one pen, only three pairs of pants, my fancy shoes (read: they look fancy but cost about $10) ... at least I pretty much have enough of everything I need, at least until I go home again in February; I had to shell out for a hairbrush, but I got the square kind, which I like a lot better than the brush I usually bring to school. And it came with extra hair ties—which I buy about once every month or two.

Unfortunately, however, in amidst all of this losing things and finding extras of things, I have managed to lose misplace my external harddrive. There was something else important that I've lost, but I can't remember at the moment what it was; at any rate, I will definitely be spending some time looking in the storage room downstairs to see whether I left it there. I thought it was in one of the two large crates I left, but evidently not.

On the plus side, I got my blender and my toaster oven working; I'm not entirely sure I'm allowed to have a toaster oven in my room, but it has an automatic shut-off, so I think it's allowed. And even if it isn't—I doubt they do inspections in the spring, so I'm not too worried.

Well, classes start tomorrow, so I ought to go plan my shopping schedule, rather than play more Dominion. You'd think I'd get bored with it, by now, having played as much as I have in the last few weeks, but no. I've gotten a little better, though I think it's in large part that I've become a lot more familiar with the online interface and with most of the cards—I now know what they all actually do, so even though I frequently make mistakes, at least I now have a better sense of when I am making those mistakes. Of course, constantly switching to another tab when it's my turn doesn't help very much ... as I don't always notice when, say, nearly all of my Treasure has been trashed by Pirate Ships and I CAN'T BUY ANYTHING!!!
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Back at school now, three days early—we don't start until Wednesday. I have one of the largest singles in the dorm; it's extra long, so it's almost as big as my room at home. The only downside is that the bureau is not built into the wall, which means it's much smaller than the bureaus in the other singles. On the up side, there is now plenty of space to pile all my stuff, which is now strewn about the floor. Theoretically, I was going to put it all away today; however, I had a meeting this morning, and then came back to my room and crashed for about three hours. Did I mention my room is extremely hot? I am going to have to figure out how to fix that, or else I won't get any homework done at all.

ResLife completely messed up our room assignments—by our, I mean mine and my brother's and about three other people in my program house. It's a little complicated. )

I have now spent an inordinate amount of time sifting through the Harry Potter wiki to find witches and wizards born between ~1965 and 1975, whose children could plausibly be going to Hogwarts while Teddy is there. Although having children at the age of 23 (which is about how old students born in 1975 would be if their children were Teddy's age) seems rather young for the Muggle world, it sort of makes sense in the wizarding world—if we assume that most British wizards go from Hogwarts to some sort of 2-5 year vocational school (i.e., to learn to be Healers, teachers, Aurors, magical law enforcers) then they would be 23 or younger when they graduated from their professional school. Most students wouldn't have children that soon out of vocational school, but especially for students who attend shorter programs, it doesn't seem too bizarre for a few parents to be that young. Then I remember that that is basically my age, and it seems a little stranger.

And ... I am not entirely sure I am going to finish my environmental science thesis. I just have absolutely no desire to work on it right now, and it's not like I don't have a whole other year to do a completely different thesis if I don't want to. I feel a little sheepish about this, but as I'm pretty sure I don't want to do environmental science as a career, I'd rather do a thesis on something a little more directly related to my potential career interests. Not that I know what those are, but the good news is that I have enough research experience in environmental science from SES last semester that I don't really feel like I need to do an ES/geo thesis in order to get into grad school in something like that. Not that you actually need a thesis to get into grad school, but it helps. At any rate, I'm not going to make a decision any time soon—I will wait until I've started working in the lab again, and until I've convinced my linguistics concentration advisor that I am serious about linguistics.
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Watched the pilot to Fairly Legal last night. Have to admit, I wasn't terribly thrilled with the previews; it seemed like they were trying too hard to say KATE IS NOT A LAWYER! NOT A LAWYER! as though that were something extraordinarily special. But I liked the pilot a lot more than I expected; I don't know if I'll keep watching, though I expect I'll at least watch another episode or two. The pilot often has a tenuous relationship to the rest of the series, so I try not to judge a TV show by its pilot.

I certainly liked it much better than Covert Affairs. So far, Kate seems to be, basically, like "one of the guys." I can't at the moment think of a better way to put it—it's not that she's exceptionally masculine, it's just that it doesn't matter. (So far, anyway—that may very well change.) In Covert Affairs, from the pilot onwards, it's always about how Annie Doesn't Look Like a Spy, how Annie Can Pass as a Hooker, how her cover IDs frequently involve her Power Over Men, how Auggie can tell that she's hot because of the way people talk about her. And, of course, she couldn't possibly have gotten promoted to the field before finishing training because she's good at what she does! No, it's because of the guy in her past who Annie can't forget. It's cute, in a way, but after a while it gets annoying. And it makes her supposed talents—particularly the "six languages" bit—seem faked and unnecessary; after all, it's useful that she can speak Farsi and Spanish and Russian and whatever else, but her Power Over Men and her One True Love That She Lost are the reason she is where she is. Basically, Covert Affairs seems like someone out there playing out a James Bond-for-women spy fantasy, but forgot to make the female lead independent and interesting. I know I'm oversimplifying, and probably not giving her language abilities enough credit (as I haven't watched any Covert Affairs in quite a while), but the show irked me.

I do not remember a single instance in the Fairly Legal pilot where Kate's looks are mentioned, which is a nice refresher from Annie Walker. She's just the mediator; she's not good at it because she's hot, she's good at it because she's passionate about finding actual justice, whether that's within the system or outside of it. I don't know if they're going to continue in that vein, but so far, it's encouraging. Kate might actually have abilities! Personality! Independence! Depth of character!

I also watched The Last Airbender (the movie) with [personal profile] damkianna on Monday/Wednesday. To be honest, there's nothing really to say; it was even worse than I expected, which is something that I can't even say about the first Twilight movie. There are so many things they messed up, I have no real desire to list them all; I'm sure someone else out there has already done a perfectly decent job of it. I'd really rather not think about it any more. Definitely not seeing the second movie, if they make one, unless [personal profile] damkianna wants to watch it to make fun of it.

I ordered How to Train Your Dragon (the movie, not the books) from Amazon, AND IT CAME YESTERDAY!!!!!! That means that I NOW HAVE HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON! I really liked the movie, it was adorable and beautiful AND IT HAD DRAGONS! Off to watch it shortly with [personal profile] damkianna ...
daemonelix: (Default)
**xkcd love**

Given the amount of time that my mother spends watching the news and then telling me what she saw (if I wasn't in the room), I am surprised that I haven't heard anything more about Lebanon. After all, the government collapsed. I suppose Tucson, Tunisia, and Sudan have taken over the news cycle, but still. Seems like a great oversight of Rachel Maddow's. On the other hand, she seems to be on a crusade to convince the country that gun politics in America actually can change, so at least she's on a good cause.

On Dominion news, I bought all the Provinces in a game I played this morning. This has never happened to me before; I think perhaps my opponent was doing what I normally do, i.e., forgetting that buying Provinces is a good thing until half (or more!) are gone. I definitely enjoy the deck-building part of the game more than the winning, but I still don't use trashing effectively enough. As far as I am concerned, the only card that is inherently bad is the Curse (and even that can have its uses), so that's the only one that I actively try to trash for the sake of trashing it; all the others, I can find uses for, even though some are more effective than others. I also played a game where I got 137 points; I lost (my opponent stacked up King's Courts and Monuments, to get tons of VPs every game), but it was a lot of fun.

And ... White Collar! Neal gets so attached, it's awesome. And Elizabeth was excellent when she finally picked up the phone on that guy, though I feel rather bad for the guy; who knows what he was talking to his wife about before the cell phone jammer went off? Elizabeth could have really messed things up, though I suppose the idea was that all-women-want-to-get-flowers-and-be-swept-off-their-feet, so that Elizabeth would help repair their relationship rather than muck it up some more.

NCIS was good, too—the whole episode was about homophobia and a gay high school student joining the military. They had only one line in there about "new military regulations" (or something to that effect), so that I wonder whether they refilmed that one segment of the episode to include a line acknowledging Don't Ask, Don't Tell's demise. I also wonder whether they moved that episode to the beginning of this run, or whether it was just a coincidence.

And finally: note to self, DO NOT LEAVE THE WAX PAPER ON TOP OF THE GRANOLA BARS WHILE THEY ARE HARDENING. The wax paper will soon become part of the granola bar.
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Unsurprisingly, given that it is January in New Hampshire, it is snowing outside. This means that I have bundled myself up in the kitchen, with a blanket, a computer, a space heater, and occasionally a cat; and I am theoretically working on my thesis. However, I feel absolutely no desire to work on my thesis right now, because—well, I am not actually graduating this year, like most other seniors are; and thus, I have plenty of time to work on it. I suppose it doesn't help that I have since decided I do NOT want to do environmental science research, which is what my thesis is on; thus, it is interesting, but not entirely urgent. I do want to do a thesis, but at the moment my thesis advisor's vague "have something for me by the end of winter break" seems very abstract.

I have also discovered fandom, by which I mean that I have been working on a fic. I know, I never thought those words would come out of my mouth (or fingers) either, but it's true. Unfortunately, I have started to work on Teddy Lupin, which means that, of course, I couldn't possibly plan anything less than his entire Hogwarts career. So I spent all morning going through all of Teddy's relatives and marking down their ages and the years that they enter Hogwarts. I also figured out how old various professors from canon are, so that I could figure out how long they might be expected to retain their professorships after the Battle of Hogwarts. Clearly, quite a few of the professors will have retired or will retire while Teddy is at Hogwarts; so, I started to figure out who would replace them ... and what years those professors would have graduated from Hogwarts and entered Hogwarts as professors ... It was much more entertaining than my thesis.

Luckily, though, I have thus far refrained from coming up with names for every single student in every single year while Teddy is at Hogwarts, but I can definitely see why someone (**coughcough**) might feel the urge to do so. I, after all, am now figuring out the logistics of the course schedules, the professors who teach those courses, what the professor's schedules are, and the like. Not quite as extreme, but in the same vein. And who knows—I might very well end up naming everyone in Hogwarts while Teddy's there!
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I had an interesting encounter with the Possession card today. As it turns out, if you Possess someone else, and then Possess yourself while Possessing your opponent, this does NOT result in you Possessing yourself and gaining an extra turn, as I had anticipated. It results in your opponent Possessing you instead, which is not exactly the same thing. Obviously, I learned this the hard way; luckily, though, it was fun anyway.

Last night, I played in one of the most amazing Dominion games I've ever seen. Not that that's saying much, as I haven't really played that much Dominion in comparison to a lot of the players on isotropic, but nonetheless. My opponent got 327 victory points, which is leagues higher than anything else I've ever seen. He stacked up King's Court and Goons; since Goons gets an extra victory point every time you buy something, it can get really crazy if you have a lot of Goons. By the end of the game, he was getting something like eight VPs per buy, and with all the extra buys that the Goons got him, he could have bought eight, nine, ten coppers per turn. I think he would have gotten even more VPs if he had bought extra coppers with the extra buys; he did pretty much use up all his buys, but I think there were a few turns where he could have squeaked in another ten VPs.

I also played a game last night where my opponent got 85 money (none through actual Treasure cards, but through various other means) in a single turn, and bought a ton of Colonies and Provinces in the last turn. That was amazing as well, though she didn't get 300 VPs; it gave me a great appreciation for Cities, which I had never played with before.

In yet more Dominion talk, someone who had never played Dominion before started a game with me this afternoon. Dominion is not exactly the kind of game you can explain over the internet; it's way too complicated. At any rate, I tried, but utterly failed; I think the s/he realized that Dominion wasn't that kind of a game, too, because s/he quit after a few turns. Plus, to be honest, isotropic is a great interface but even for someone who'd played the game before it's a bit confusing the first time. There are lots of buttons everywhere, and more experienced players go quite fast, so it can be difficult to keep up while you're still learning the interface, much less the rules of the game. I hope that s/he learns and enjoys Dominion, though, and perhaps comes back to play again!
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As my very first post, I figured I would start with a rant—since, well, that's what everyone likes to do most, but no one likes to read. And to be honest, that's exactly what I want.

I have a new obsession: Dominion.

My brother made the mistake of telling me about dominion.isotropic.org, which I totally recommend you check out avoid. IT WILL CONSUME YOUR SOUL, at least if you've ever played and enjoyed Dominion, the board game version. The online version is much better than the board game version, though to be honest I've never played the actual, physical board game as quickly as the online version. The rules are all the same, as far as I can tell, but you have access to all the cards in all sets and expansions, which is a big bonus if you only have Dominion, Seaside, and Intrigue (as I do). I also like how you can pick cards you want to include—I have a fondness for Smugglers, Pirate Ships, and Treasure Maps (notice a certain theme?), and may theoretically summon the courage to start a game with someone else that includes those cards.

I have also, after perusing dominionstrategy.wordpress.com, come to appreciate and unappreciate certain cards more or less than I did before I started playing online. Native Village is much more useful than I originally thought; I have used it to great effect to store away Smugglers until the next hand, or to rack up lots of Gold and Platinum in order to buy Colonies. Plus, Native Village only costs two Treasure, which means that you can Remodel a Copper or a Curse (!!!) into something useful. Along the lines of trashing bad cards, I have started to appreciate trashing a lot more—having a deck full of Coppers, Estates, and other early game cards gets very annoying later in the game.

At any rate, when I stop playing Dominion online, I'll let you know. MAYBE I WILL DO SOMETHING ELSE WITH MY LIFE!!!!! I kind of doubt it—I will probably just move on to Scrabble, or crocheting, or Turn the Tide, or Carcassonne, or maybe I will work on my first ever fanfic, or either of the four other stories I have going at the moment.

gl+hf

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