Serif or sans serif?

Most people care about their typefaces

Appearances matter, especially whether fonts have serifs or not.

"Font Wars Spread After State Department Replaces Times New Roman with Calibri

"'I'm banging my head against the wall;' camps divided in fallout from government efforts to make documents easier to read"

By Katie Deighton, WSJ (3/14/23)

One wonders whether it is a matter of functionality and efficiency or esthetics and taste.  Whatever motivates the confrontation, one thing is evident, and that is that people have deeply held opinions in favor of / against one side or the other.

What sounds like a typeface tempest-in-a-teapot has boiled over in the U.S. and U.K., where changes in document requirements have set off a war of words among cantankerous font factions.

The State Department announced in January that Calibri would replace Times New Roman on official documents to make them easier to read. U.K.’s Home Office, for similar reasons, x-ed out the 83-year-old Times New Roman, which has the wings and feet on letters known as serif style.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (24)

"Subscribe to Open"

As the S2O website explains,

“Subscribe to Open” (S2O) is a pragmatic approach for converting subscription journals to open access—free and immediate online availability of research—without reliance on either article processing charges (APCs) or altruism. […]

S2O allows publishers to convert journals from subscriptions to OA, one year at a time. Using S2O, a publisher offers a journal’s current subscribers continued access. If all current subscribers participate in the S2O offer (simply by not opting out) the publisher opens the content covered by that year’s subscription. If participation is not sufficient—for example, if some subscribers delay renewing in the expectation that they can gain access without participating—then that year’s content remains gated.

The offer is repeated every year, with the opening of each year’s content contingent on sufficient participation. In some cases, access to backfile content may be used to enhance the offer.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (1)

So many words for "donkey"

Almost as many as Eskimo words for "snow".  (hee-hee haw-haw) (see below for a sampling)

I've always been a great admirer of donkeys, and I love to hear them bray and make all sorts of other expressive sounds, some of which I am incapable of adequately expressing in words — especially when they are being obdurately stubborn and are unwilling to move, no matter what.  Anyway, their vocabulary extends way beyond the basic "hee-haw":

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (25)

This is the 4th time I've gotten Jack and his beanstalk

Bill Benzon shares the response he got from ChatGPT to the prompt, "Tell me a story."

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (30)

Tasty McDonald's customer

Comments (2)

Female voyeuristic literature on male homoerotic themes

When I first heard of this phenomenon about three years ago, I could scarcely believe my ears.  I was told in no uncertain terms that, by and large, Chinese women (especially in their 20s and 30s, but even in their teens) much more enjoy watching or reading about men making out than engaging in hetero- or homosexual love themselves.  I know of several Chinese women who write such literature and supplement their income with it.

The genre is explored in considerable depth by Helen Sullivan in this Guardian article (3/12/23):

China’s ‘rotten girls’ are escaping into erotic fiction about gay men

Danmei is by some measures the most popular genre of fiction for women in China, and its popularity hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Communist party

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (12)

Transcriptional Chinese animal imagery for English daily greetings

As those students who take my early morning classes know, I sometimes greet them with "gǒutóu māo níng 狗头猫咛" ("good morning"; lit. "dog's head cat's meow").  I learned that method of transcription from my father-in-law, who didn't know the alphabet but picked up a few words of English and wanted to write them down for future use.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (5)

Idle thoughts upon the Ides of March: the feathered man

It's a bad month in general:  dark, dreary, drizzly, dank, and damp.  Soon one's thoughts are flitting* about as though one had taken wings, like Eros or Cupid.

In Chinese mythology, there is a deity called Yǔrén 羽人 ("Feathered Man").  It has an ambiguous origin — first appears in Shānhǎi jīng 山海經 (Classic of the Mountains and Seas) and Chǔ cí 楚辭 (Songs of the South / Elegies of Chu), both circa mid to late 1st millennium BC.  Neither of these texts were in the Confucian mainstream, and in later times were relegated to an amorphous "Daoist" cultural current.

There are many early representations of Feathered Man".  If you want to get a good sense of what he looks like, here is a generous selection of images.

I note that "Eros" lacks a clear etymology.  Ditto for "Feathered Man".  I'm wondering if both of them could have emerged from that soup of Central Asian myth origins that Adrienne Mayor has previously often explored so fruitfully:  Amazons, fossils, poison weapons, tattoos, and so forth.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (20)

Running from China

The following image is from a guest post on the Tangle newsletter (3/3/23) that comes from a Chinese dissident who recently fled to the U.S.:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (6)

The reality of Happiness is Bitterness

Comments (9)

Questions and answers, part 2 (a veritable juggernaut)

In my experience, folks have different approaches / attitudes to questions (and answers):

1. some people love to ask questions

2. some people like to answer questions

3. some people don't like to ask questions

4. some people don't like to be asked questions

5. some people like to ask a question as a prelude to telling someone something

and so forth and so on, in any number of permutations and combinations.

"Mommy, guess what I saw at school today?"

"Daddy, guess what Joey told me yesterday?"

"Did you know that…?

"Do you know what that doohickey is for?"

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (36)

Hanmoji, part 2

"Hanmoji" is a portmanteau consisting of the first syllable of hanzi ("Chinese character") and the second part of emoji.

From Bob Bauer:

Have you heard of or seen the book entitled The Hanmoji Handbook: Your Guide to the Chinese Language through Emoji, MITeen Press, published August 30, 2022?

The day before yesterday (Thursday, 2 March 2023) I read a review of this book by Richard James Havis on page B9 in the South China Morning Post. Here is a quotation from the review: “Its authors An Xiao Mina, Jennifer 8 Lee and Jason Li – based in North America – show readers how Chinese characters form their meanings by relating them to the emjois we use every day.” (The number “8” does occur in Jennifer 8 Lee’s name just as written).

I have heard of emoji but know little about them and haven’t paid much attention to them. Does each emoji have a specific pronunciation associated with it like a Chinese character typically does? I’m thinking emojis differ from Chinese characters in this particular area (and probably other areas as well). For example, when I see “”, I don’t pronounce it, but I just think ‘smiley face’. However, when I see the Chinese character 木, I associate two pronunciations with it: Cantonese “muk6” and Putonghua “mù” and its English meaning “tree”.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (11)

Anti-collision particle physics

Comments (8)