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Kůlp Månifesto

Recently, a package from Canada arrived at the Penn Linguistics Department — though it was addressed to

Dept. Di Linggwistika
U. Di Pensilvania
Fiiladelfia, Pa
19,104, U.S.Å

It contained multiple copies, on variously-colored paper, of an odd 11-page document.

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Haunted funeral?

It took me three readings the other day to decipher the intended meaning of this headline in an advice column question: SHOULD I REVEAL HOW MY SISTER-IN-LAW HURT ME AT HER FUNERAL? Amy, in her Washington Post column Ask Amy (5/25/22), advised the question-poser to resist the urge to denounce the deceased when mourners were invited during the funeral to share reminiscences about the dear departed.

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Chief Executive to be

"John Lee: What do you call the prospective Hong Kong leader who has everything?", by Tim Hamlett, Hong Kong Free Press (5/7/22)

The current status of John Lee Ka-chiu has presented one of those linguistic problems which delight retired sub editors: how do you describe a man who is clearly going to win a predetermined election?

My regular free newspaper tried “chief executive hopeful”, realised that wasn’t really capturing the reality of the situation – “chief executive certainty” would have been more accurate – and retreated the next day to “sole chief executive candidate”

A local columnist offered “chief executive-in-waiting” which captures the “not yet but definitely soon” aspect of the situation, at the risk of making Lee sound like a minor palace official, as in “lady-in-waiting”.

Foreign publications were less inhibited about the manipulations behind the scenes: one offered “the central government’s selection”, but this will hardly do for Hong Kong purposes.

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Malapropism of the month

You've probably seen this, but just in case not:

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VDV recruiting video

A 15-year-old recruiting video for the Russian Airborne Forces (VDV), updated with amusing fake English subtitles:

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In honor of Valentine's day, here's a word that may be new to some of you: situationship, defined by Wiktionary as

(neologism, informal) A romantic or sexual relationship in which the parties involved do not clearly define their relationship as such, but for example consider it "complicated" or a friends with benefits-type situation.

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Better colormaps?

In the comments on "Painbows" (11/6/2021), bks advanced the opinion that "Grayscale is superior to color in almost all situations."

And ~flow noted that "There are in fact proposals to leave painbows behind and rather use bichromatic scales like Cividis", citing this github repository.

There were other suggestions as well, and of course there are many named colormaps, old and new, as well as the facility for generating innumerable others. (OK, technically numerable given quantized floating-point numbers mapped to quantized RGB values, but …)

So I thought I'd follow up with a modest sample of alternative ways of coloring the same type of 2-D density plots of rates of F0 change and amplitude change that I used in the Painbows post.

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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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