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Open access conference content

"PCST 2020 + 1 Conference content now available open access", 8/2/2021:

PCST are excited to announce that from today all the presentations recorded at PCST2020 + 1 are now available open access. […]

The conference themes were Time, Technology and Transformation

To access the video content please visit the conference platform.

We wish to thank the Kavli Foundation for making this possible.
The videos and content will be available until May 2022.

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Toad shit and wax paper

Amid the intensive coverage of the Champlain Towers condominium collapse, there have been some indications of more widespread problems.

But I haven't seen many references to John D. MacDonald's novel Condominium, which was originally published in 1977, a bit before the Champlain Towers condominium was built in 1981. And some of those few recent references focus on aspects of administrative rather than physical structure, e.g. Mathew Gordon Lasner, "Condo Buildings Are at Risk. So Is All Real Estate.", The Atlantic 7/2/2021:

When developers experimented with locking associations into management contracts at uncompetitive rates (as detailed in John D. MacDonald’s 1977 disaster novel, Condominium), kept down sales prices by retaining ownership of common areas and renting them back to associations (also at inflated rates), or made monthly charges unsustainably low by retaining control over associations until an overwhelming majority of units were sold, the state outlawed these practices. To allow for a more timely and cost-effective resolution of disputes among owners, and between owners and associations, it set up provisions for resolving disputes outside the courts.

But it's the novel's picture of shoddy construction practices that I remember, so I hereby urge you to buy and read the novel as background for the unfolding news coverage.

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The colors of the seas and the directions

Tim Leonard just came across this article from five years ago that hypothesizes a common origin for the names of the Red Sea, Black Sea, and (in Turkish) White Sea and Blue Sea:

"It Works for the Turks: A Colour for Each Direction"
Frank Jacobs, Big Think (3/6/16)

Peter Golden has often talked to me about how the directions were associated with certain colors among the Turks, and how these associations had powerful symbolic and intellectual functions and revealed much about the history of the Turks and their interactions with other peoples.  By looking at some of the ideas presented in this article, I'm hoping that we can elicit further details from Peter and colleagues who are familiar with color associations in other cultures.

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Bravus not brave

Article in The Guardian, "Crooked not courageous: Adani renames Australian group Bravus, mistaking it for 'brave'", by Naaman Zhou (11/5/20):

Mining company Adani has changed its name to a Latin word that means “crooked”, “deformed”, “mercenary or assassin”, after mistakenly thinking that it meant “brave”.

The controversial mining group, which is responsible for the Carmichael coalmine in central Queensland, announced on Thursday it would change the name of its Australian operation to “Bravus”, a word identified by chief executive David Boshoff as the medieval Latin word for “courageous”.

Boshoff told the Australian Financial Review it was a good fit because thbre company “took a lot of courage to get where we are and we will stand up for what we believe in”.

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A better COVID-19 graph

Aatish Bhatia plots COVID-19 data in (a population-growth version of) phase space, eliminating time as a dimension — which turns out to be a good idea, as it often is:

An explanation by Henry Reich:

There are some linguistic connections — viewed abstractly, this sort of analysis connects to pretty much everything — but I'll leave that for another time.

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"E-face, face deal, whatever that is"

Representative Devin Nunes (R-Calif) is described as a "farmer" on the ballots that voters in his district use. Back before the 2018 election, a group of his constituents petitioned to get this label changed, on the grounds that his family farm is a dairy they own in Iowa, in which he plays no operational role. The petition was rejected, but now Nunes is suing the petitioners, on the grounds that they conspired with "dark money" organizations to injure his campaign.

Rep. Nunes previously sued Twitter and various satirical Twitter authors including Devin Nunes' cow and Devin Nunes' Mom. The main result so far was to give @DevinCow more than 600,000 followers, and to generate a set of other Nunes-related parody authors on Twitter, such as @DevinNunesDog and @nunes_goat.

The people he's suing this time include Hope Nisley, a librarian at Fresno Pacific University, and Paul Buxman, a retired tree-fruit farmer.  We learn more about Mr. Buxman from an 8/2/2019  Fresno Bee story by Brianna Calix, "This is the farmer Devin Nunes’ campaign is suing. He’s praying for his congressman", including the fact that he's unlikely to see comparable gains in social-media impact:

Buxman only three months ago saw the internet. He doesn’t own a computer. He doesn’t have an email address.

“I’ve never seen a Twitter, or e-face, face deal – whatever that is,” he said. “I’m not a conspirator. I’ve never read anything Devin has written. Only since seeing the internet, I see why people are tired of it, with the bad comments. You’re better off without it.”

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Language revival in the news

BBC Future has a very nice article by Alex Rawlings about the work of Ghil'ad Zuckermann on language revival in Australia and the larger context of such efforts. One new thing I learned about Zuckermann from this article was that before he moved from Israel to Australia, he was a specialist on language revival in Israel. (That's what we generally think of as the revival of Hebrew, but he insists that the modern language is different enough from Biblical Hebrew, because of the influence of all the first languages of those who participated in its revival, to need a different name – he calls it Israeli.) Anyway, it's a nice article. Thanks to Victor Mair for sharing it around the Language Log water cooler.

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Facial boarding

At LAX, boarding a plane for Beijing:

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How science works

[h/t Wendy Grossman]


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Home party

Recently, Tong Wang's husband told her that he would not be home for dinner because he was going out with friends to this place:

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Word of the day from Robert Macfarlane:

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Another use for Mandarin Phonetic Symbols

A couple of weeks ago, we asked:  "The end of the line for Mandarin Phonetic Symbols?" (3/12/18)

The general response to that post was no, not by a long shot.

Now, in addition to all the other things one can do with bopomofo, one can use it to confound PRC trolls, as described in this article in Chinese.

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[. ] or [. ]?

You may have thought that idea of rhinoceroses peeving about semicolons (when they're not snorting and snuffing) was silly. But the comments on Mark's post Peeving and breeding have devolved to a level of even greater silliness: the pressing question of whether to type one space after a period or two.

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