Saturday, July 16, 2016

Factoid Of The Day #1

Yet another recurring series! Now I'm going to start posting a Factoid Of The Day!

Today's factoid of the day:

The "factoid of the day" feature is the one thing I reliably post on this blog every single day.

Friday, July 15, 2016

My Cousin Is Getting Married

A little while back, I used the example of a hypothetical cousin's third marriage as something I could care less about.

Less than a week later, I checked my email last arvo and found a missive from my IRL cousin who, it seems, is in fact getting married.

Not for the third time. In fact, she's actually marrying the partner she's had since before I was born, who I grew up calling my "cousin" by not-quite-marriage. I'd make some snarky comment about her being the third member of my family to end up marrying a shiksa goddess, but apparently her partner actually converted (from a Catholic-in-name-only atheist to a Jew-in-name-only atheist) so it looks like I don't get to.

I've been invited to the wedding but I'm not sure I can make it. Either way, I could care less.

Friday, July 8, 2016

This Post Has Absolutely Nothing To Do With South African Economic Policy

It is, instead, a post about language vaguely inspired by this completely random post made years ago on a blog I don't read and never even heard of until I fcuked up an important document and indignantly googled for the proper way to make a sacrifice to the great Tpyos.

The linked post contains a quote from this post elsewhere, the gist of which is thusly:

Because really, what is language for? When you distill it right down to its essence, it’s all about the teleportation of ideas and imaginings, right? Think about how strange this process is: I see something in my mind, or I have a thought, and by emitting a strange series of sounds (or by drawing a string of symbols), I can implant into your brain what was previously in mine. Bizarro. And yet we do it every day and take it completely for granted.

If language is meant to communicate, why do we get in an uproar when it does its primary job, but with slight imperfections? In most cases, the intent of an error-filled sentence is clear. Heck, you can leave all the vowels out of this entire blog post and most people would still be able to read it. The Idea-Teleporter that we call “language” can be missing quite a few bolts and springs and still do its job.

And yet, many people expect perfection out of a tool that does not require it. It’s like wanting a car that not only delivers us to our destination, but emits no road noise, has plenty of cup holders, and will not break down. Ever. It can’t simply do what it was meant to do, it has to do it without error or a scratch. I can’t think of many things that are held to this standard, but the written word seems to be one of them.

The blogger in my original link made some vague comments in response, but didn't really say any of the things I thought of.

So I will write a response of my own. To a four-year-old post. On a blog I don't read. And then post it on a blog no one reads. It's called being internet famous.

Anyway, it's entirely true that language is a tool for communication. It evolves with use, and prescriptivists who obsess over rules they make up are completely failing to grasp the purpose of language in the first place. That said, just because language doesn't have top-down rules imposed by an authority doesn't mean it doesn't have rules.

It's true that language doesn't have to be perfect to be understood. You're udnersanding off these sentence bes'nt effected bye it's pore grammars, speling + tpyos. Hll, vn ths sntnc s t lst smwht cmprhnsbl nd t hs n vwls. However, while you may be able to understand those flawed sentences, it takes more work to do so. Essentially, the ideas teleporter carries a cost in the form of work— either the writer must do the work of making the passage comprehensible or the reader must do the work of (mentally) correcting its errors.

Most people aren't consciously aware of why they fly into a frothing rage over poor grammar and spelling. The usual comments about it reflecting poorly on the writer's education sounds like a rationalisation (and full of racist and classist assumptions at that). However, I think the reason why poor writing bugs so many of us is specifically because the writer is making us do the work to understand it— subconsciously, we are screaming: "You want to use the idea teleporter to teleport your ideas into my head AND REVERSE THE CHARGES??!" Even if it's not the product of laziness, we're viscerally annoyed— I know I get viscerally annoyed by it in much the same way I get annoyed by prescriptivists trying to impose silly rules. They're asking me to spend more cognitive power on language processing and they cannot offer a legitimate reason.

And this is now four posts in a row. That's something.

Vital stats:

Blog: Apparently
Date: Today
Current Mood: Prolific
Sleep Status: Yes
Word of the Day: Specific
Postage: 90p
Spoonage: 2000
Cat: Her name is Tabitha I think she's a witch
Tag: You're it
Gag: Rhyming stats
Fag?: I don't smoke
Job: I gotta stop you there. I'm pretty sure jorb is a four letters word.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

I Finally Got My Sploosh Machine Fixed

Because believe me, having your sploosh machine b0rked is a major inconvenience.

Tropes I Don't Like (Part 2)— Species Culture

It's not a recurring feature if it never recurs so now it's time for Tropes I Don't Like the second part.

Today's trope is Species Culture, which is Exactly What It Says On The Tin— the idea that a species has a culture.

This trope is widespread in sci-fi, fantasy, and especially anything that caters to the furry fandom— basically, anything that has multiple species involved will try to give each of them (except humans) a single culture. Elves are smugly superior lanky blokes who shoot arrows. Lombaxes are really good engineers. Wombats aren't cultural relativists, for extra irony points.

At its most basic, any work that refers to "[species name] religion" or "[species name] art" or law or music or what have you is committing the sin of species culture. However, more egregious examples abound, where a fairly cosmopolitan city inhabited by multiple species will have one culture for each species, and each culture is universal to that species— because obviously, a vahamere who was born in Westmoreland and thoroughly steeped in Westmori culture would have far more in common with a vahamere who was born and raised in The Fells than a mandraga who was born and raised in Westmoreland just one town over.

The worst examples of species culture are generally from works produced by or catered to the furry fandom. By its nature, the furry fandom generally focuses on characters who deliberately affect a small number of stereotyped animal behaviours while otherwise acting completely human, and whose authors are careful to avoid any humanlike characterisation that might overshadow the affected animal behaviours.

Meanwhile, in real life any species that's at least marginally intelligent will have some degree of culture learned from its upbringing that it will pass on to and exchange with those it meets— and the more intelligent and social the species, the more complex its cultures will be. This means that when it comes to this one aspect of behaviour, real animals are actually more humanlike than "anthro" ones so take that furries.

I Could Care Less

From now on, if I say "I could care less" about something, it means I care more than you think I do but less than you want me to.

So if I say I could care less about your collection of model trains, it means I do care, because you're my friend and I care about all the things you do, but I don't think it's nearly as important or amazing as you clearly want me to because seriously, they're just really expensive toys for grown-ups.

I could care less about my cousin's third wedding. She obviously thinks it's important enough to invite me to, and I wish nothing but the best for her and her third wife, but I just can't justify the expense of going.

I could care less about my boss's new baby. I genuinely do appreciate him being out of the office for the next six weeks, but it's just not that important.

I could care less if you try to "correct" my use of this phrase. Your smug "correction" will bother me briefly, but then I will link you to this post and be done with the matter. And if you're an arsehole who declares I'm wrong anyway? I couldn't care less.

Friday, July 1, 2016

On Odd Coincidence

The other day, I found myself suddenly pressed to explain the concept of public key cryptography in a google-free environment.

So I awkwardly tried to stammer through an explanation of the basic principle of creating mathematically linked public and private keys using an irreversible operation; namely, that it's computationally easy to multiply large numbers but computationally difficult to factor them. In the process, I came up with a large number off the top of my head - 74,257 - and used it to demonstrate the difficulty of finding a number's prime factors.

The minute I made it back to the internet, I double-checked a suspicion that had been bugging me for hours, only to have it confirmed— 74,257 is, in fact, prime.

So in the process of trying to explain the complexities of prime numbers, I inadvertently came up with a five-digit prime number on the first try unaided. Thanks to the miracle of confirmation bias, I will now believe that I have a supernatural knack for coming up with prime numbers on the spot and proceed to make a colossal fool of myself.

PS: I'm still not talking about Brexit. Maybe if I ignore it for long enough it will retroactively have never happened.