Disorder of a Man of Letters — Xah's Belles-lettres
from the haughty emotions of English lexicon, stylistic concerns, decipherment of grammar and idioms, linguisticality, literature, and logicality.
etymology of slate
mid-14c., from Old French esclate, fem. of esclat “split piece, splinter” (Modern French éclat; see slat), so called because the rock splits easily into thin plates. As an adjective, 1510s. As a color, first recorded 1813. Sense of “a writing tablet” (made of slate), first recorded late 14c., led to that of “list of preliminary candidates prepared by party managers,” first recorded 1842, from notion of being easily altered or erased. Clean slate (1856) is an image from customer accounts chalked up in a tavern.
etymology of slab
late 13c., “large, flat mass,” of unknown origin, possibly related to Old French escopel, escalpe “thin fragment of wood,” which according to Klein is possibly a Gaulish word (compare Breton scolp, Welsh ysgolp “splinter, chip”). But OED rejects this on formal grounds. Meaning “rectangular block of pre-cast concrete used in building” is from 1927. Slab-sided is “having flat sides like slabs,” hence “tall and lank” (1817, American English).
be my first patreon
now i have a patreon account. be my first patreon. see first post at https://www.patreon.com/xahlee
Pinyin 拼音, Zhuyin 注音, IPA Comparison (updated)
Segmented Sleep and Sleep Hours/Schedule Experiment
i've experimented with sleep hours and schedule since 1991. And my current sleep hours remain ephemeral.
Sometimes i sleep twice a day, 4 hours each.
Usually, my sleep hours shifts by 1 hour per day. For example, if today i sleep at 1, next day i sleep at 2, and next day i sleep at 3.
been doing these since 1991. In the first decade or two, when i was young, the intention is to reduce total hours slept.
but as i'm older, now, it's basically chaotic life habit. I sleep, when i'm tired.
of course, you can't do this if you are not a free man.
here's 2 books i found.
〔 At Day's Close: Night in Times Past By A Roger Ekirch. At Buy at amazon 〕
“Remarkable…Ekirch has emptied night's pockets, and laid the contents out before us.” ―Arthur Krystal, The New Yorker
Bringing light to the shadows of history through a “rich weave of citation and archival evidence” (Publishers Weekly), scholar A. Roger Ekirch illuminates the aspects of life most often overlooked by other historians―those that unfold at night. In this “triumph of social history” (Mail on Sunday), Ekirch's “enthralling anthropology” (Harper's) exposes the nightlife that spawned a distinct culture and a refuge from daily life.
Fear of crime, of fire, and of the supernatural; the importance of moonlight; the increased incidence of sickness and death at night; evening gatherings to spin wool and stories; masqued balls; inns, taverns, and brothels; the strategies of thieves, assassins, and conspirators; the protective uses of incantations, meditations, and prayers; the nature of our predecessors' sleep and dreams―Ekirch reveals all these and more in his “monumental study” (The Nation) of sociocultural history, “maintaining throughout an infectious sense of wonder” (Booklist).
〔 Evening's Empire (New Studies in European History) By Craig Koslofsky. At Buy at amazon 〕
What does it mean to write a history of the night? Evening's Empire is a fascinating study of the myriad ways in which early modern people understood, experienced, and transformed the night. Using diaries, letters, and legal records together with representations of the night in early modern religion, literature and art, Craig Koslofsky opens up an entirely new perspective on early modern Europe. He shows how princes, courtiers, burghers and common people 'nocturnalized' political expression, the public sphere and the use of daily time. Fear of the night was now mingled with improved opportunities for labour and leisure: the modern night was beginning to assume its characteristic shape. Evening's Empire takes the evocative history of the night into early modern politics, culture and society, revealing its importance to key themes from witchcraft, piety, and gender to colonization, race, and the Enlightenment.
Wordy English Article List Index (new. linked from home page. 1176 articles)
word of the day: atavistic, predicated, cross-talk, banality
There may be an atavistic longing for quasi-divine kingship that surfaces in unsettled times. Especially after 9/11, with its diffuse sense of peril, we should beware of the seductive dream of the strong man or clan who will shield us from harm. Democracy is predicated on sometimes chaotic cross-talk, not on governance by fiat, the whims of a hereditary elite.
Political dynasties are mythic foster families whose princes rise and fall like flaming stars. Does it signify democracy’s nostalgia for royalty? The irony is that authentic royalty, re-glamorized by Diana in the 1980s, has waned back into banality in England and everywhere else.
〔 Our failed political dynasties, Pelosi's stylish appeal and George W. Bush as Queen Victoria. Plus: The hot air about global warming. By Camille Paglia. At http://www.salon.com/2007/04/11/global_warming_14/〕
Classic Paglia, u no unstand!
The Adventure of the German Student (added illustration)
The Arabian Nights (updated intro)
“whatso woman willeth, the same she fulfilleth, however man nilleth. ” from Story Of King Shahryar And His Brother
rereading arabian nights. truly a wonderful story. I spent a year annotating it in 2005. Story Of King Shahryar And His Brother
coöperation and preëxisting! the art of diaeresis.
The Masque of the Red Death (added many illustrations)
〔 Talking in Euphemisms Can Chip Away at Your Sense of Morality By Laura Niemi, Alek Chakroff, And Liane Young. At http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/04/indirect-speech-talking-in-euphemisms.html〕
word of the day: acquiescing. see Word of the Day
word of the day: • beguiling • patchwork • floundering
see Word of the Day
word of the day: • galvanized • pugnacious • relishes • muckraker • facile
see Word of the Day
Hegel and the Girls
Orthography, narrowly, means correct spelling according to established usage. Broadly, It includes capitalization, word breaks, emphasis, punctuation.
Alaeddin; Or, The Wonderful Lamp (new navigation bar)
“The Tragedy Of Titus Andronicus” (new navigation bar)
Alice in Wonderland, and Through the Looking-Glass (new navigation bar)
The Time Machine by H G Wells (also updated with nav bar. Added more pictures.)
Classic scifi. Make you understand 4 dimensions by analogy. Now new navbar.
神奇的二维国 中文版.(Flatland Chinese version). 神奇的二维国 (Flatland)
Gulliver's Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. New navigation bar.
西游记 (Journey To The West) (page redesigned)
the Story of Cupid and Psyche, by Lucius Apuleius (~123 to 180). Classic story.
“Paglia presents herself as a willing academic pariah”
books on writing you liked?
what are some of books on writing? any related to writing, style, grammar, words, linguistics, etc. Suggest away. must be you've read.
see SAT Words
etymology of manual: manus = hand. Handbook.
Arabian Nights, The Tale Of The Ensorceled Prince
holy cow, this chick explained movie “Arrival” so good. in Chinese, u no unstand.
this poor sob wanna watch Arrival, but don't have money, nor feel like pirate, and fear it's all tracked now.
so, the movie Arrival, is is based on a award-winning scifi fiction “Story of Your Life”, written by the award winning Chinese American Ted Chiang.
“Story of Your Life” is a science fiction short story by Ted Chiang. It was the winner of the 2000 Nebula Award for Best Novella as well as the 1999 Sturgeon award. The major themes explored by this tale are determinism, language, and the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis. The story was adapted into the 2016 film Arrival.
and the major theme is about determinism, language, and the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis. Wow, fascinating, right there.
Arrival, is about 12 giant kidneys descending upon earth.
it entails determinism, language, and Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, with Chinese characteristics
when i grow up, am gonna be a heptapod.
now, here's the spoilers. Here's the outline of the novelette:
The story is narrated by Dr. Louise Banks, writing in the past tense. After a race of aliens, known as heptapods (due to their 7-pointed radially symmetrical appearance), initiate first contact with humanity, the military hires Dr. Banks to discover their language and communicate with them. The story revolves around Dr. Banks and Gary Donnelly, a physicist also working for the military to gain knowledge of physics from the aliens.
The heptapods have two distinct forms of language. Heptapod A is their spoken language, which is described as having free word order and many levels of center-embedded clauses. Understanding Heptapod B, the written language of the aliens, is central to the plot. Unlike its spoken counterpart, Heptapod B has such complex structure that a single semantic symbol cannot be excluded without changing the entire meaning of a sentence.
When writing in Heptapod B, the writer knows how the sentence will end. The phenomenon of Heptapod B is explained by the aliens' understanding of mathematics and Fermat's principle of least time. Dr. Banks' understanding of the heptapods' writing system affects the way she perceives time and suggests a deterministic universe where free will is exercised by not affecting the outcome of events.
A frame for the story, written in the present tense, indicates that the story is being written at the time of the daughter's conception. The sections describing the daughter's life—from birth to death and beyond—are written as Dr. Banks' remembrances that she nonetheless describes using the future tense, because learning Heptapod B enables Dr. Banks to know her daughter's entire life even before she agrees to conceive her. As the story proceeds, we see Dr Banks and Dr Donnelly growing closer, until it is revealed that Dr Donnelly will be the father of her child.
[from Story of Your Life]
Arrival Buy at amazon
Chinese Text 瘟疫論 (On Plague Dieases), 1642. beginning of bacteria/virus study. https://zh.wikisource.org/zh/瘟疫論_(四庫全書本)
amazing that Chinese text thousand years back we can still understand some 60% sans training. this has significant impact on culture.
〔 Has the Internet Killed Curly Quotes? By Glenn Fleishman. At https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/12/quotation-mark-wars/511766/〕
on betterment of technical writing with a creative streak
today's wandering in humanity.
on betterment of technical writing with a creative streak.
unless you don't know kindergarten grammar, when anyone tell you about grammar, spit.
if you want to improve your technical writing exposition skill in written English, study logic and linguistics.
there's 2 parts to writing. 1, the content, 2 the presentation. The content part is much more important. You've got something to say, and solid about the subject matter. This is intrinsic, and you really have to have this before writing. But the topic of writing, is about the skill of presentation per se. Most writing guide is shallow on this, focus on tradition and convention, on grammar, on punctuation, on diction, on sentence length, etc. But the most important part, for technical writing, is the ability to understand the logic and linguistics aspects of what you put down. That means clarity and precision. For example, the oft used advice of “active voice”, rather do nothing to help precision and clarity of your exposition.
here's some random creative essays.
Haven't watched TV since 2000. Don't have one. Ditch it. Good for your understanding of the world.
tongue is amazing. it can find a tiny piece of bone and manipulate it out of your mouth. that's massive parallel computation.
chess, prodigy, art of learning
this guy Josh Waitzkin, chess national champion, then became international taichi champion. wrote a book The Art of Learning 2008 Buy The Art of Learning
It's interesting guy, but i don't necessary endorse the book. Lots of this sort of books are garbage, pretty much by definition.
So, books of this ilk, and ted talks and hacker news stuff, are the things idiotic programers chant abut all day, day and night.
There are only 2 good type of books. Fiction, and college text books.
Acclaimed movie Searching for Bobby Fischer. 1993. About young chess prodigy Joshua Waitzkin Buy Searching for Bobby Fischer Now it's 23 years.
Bobby Fisher didn't get a dime, nor asked for permission of his fame. Bobby died a bitter man in 2008.
Joshua Waitzkin didn't become word's best players of chess. But he went on to also become international champion of tai chi push hands competition.
most prodigies, did not become the greats in history.
here's list of greatest chess players and their rating. List of chess players by peak FIDE rating
note that, the best, is Magnus Carlsen, with rating of 2882.
but computer chess, has rating over 3200. Chess engine#Chess engine rating lists
today, any computer will beat any human, anytime, practically speaking.
note that chess player speaks of playing style. Actually, playing style is a phenomenon of sub-optimal move. Mathematically speaking, most of the time there is just 1 correct move.
english vs chinese, urge to improve
some languages, such as english, u have a urge to make it better, logical, reform. while Chinese, u never thought of replacing art with precision.
lost in euphemism
The United States Congress authorized the construction of Endeavour in 1987 to replace Challenger, which was lost in 1986.
“was lost in 1986” that's a euphemism, for blowing up, in this case.
the writings of amazon reviews
reading amazon reviews's fun, you see the wildest of writing styles, and you wonder, if everyone is so creative. Actually most are simply bad writing.
amazon reviews, are the writing of the grass roots. You witness the pen of teens, toilet toilers, house wives, and college youngsters.
The Time Machine, and the Dark Nature of Human Animals
“The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was expounding a recondite matter to us”
This is a story, where human animals are bred and eaten, by other human animals.
most illustrations of H G Well's Time Machine show a machanical contraption. This illustration, shows the story.
but uncomfortable pic like this is not marketable. But pic of time contraption, tickles peope.
Time Machine, tells a dark human nature. Similar story is Lord of the Flies. Lord of the Flies
and, then, what's real nature of human animals? we have Biological Anthropologist tell us. Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence
why capitalize author names?
quite annoying that some publications (online) capitalize author names, all parts. like, By XAH LEE. What's the frigging point? ( nytimes.com and wsj.com )
time to dig those style guides. Answer must be there somewhere. But no, no time for those idiotic guides of guilds.
〔►see The Writing Style of Xah Lee〕
Gulliver's Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World (added navigation panel)
Xah Wordy English (home page redesign)
new navigation panel.
new navigation panel.
new navigation panel.
new navigation panel on the side.
Madam, I am most apt to embrace your offer.
Sorcerer, daughter, illusion, The Tempest…
The Tempest Sorcerer, daughter, illusion, tempest… Does charm my way. 😈
This song by Laurie Anderson
features part of The Tempest called “Ariel's Song” - the place where we got the phrase “sea change”:
Full fathom five thy father lies; Of his bones are coral made; Those are pearls that were his eyes; Nothing of him that doth fade, But doth suffer a sea-change Into something rich and strange.
thanks to John Baez. https://plus.google.com/+XahLee/posts/TQXfP4N9HoQ
Shakespeare's Titus, now with navigation panel.
A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:
- 1. What am I trying to say?
- 2. What words will express it?
- 3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
- 4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?”
— George Orwell
etymology of “redoutable”
late 14c., from Old French redoutable (12c.), from redouter "to dread," from re-, intensive prefix, + douter "be afraid of" (see doubt (v.)).
British accent, “i'm not fat and gutty”
“i'm not fat and gutty”
gutty = 1. an urchin or delinquent 2. a low-class person.
but a friend told me it just means not having a potbelly in the context of the video.
The Arabian Nights (now with side navigation panel)
Alaeddin; Or, The Wonderful Lamp (now with side navigation panel)
Infinite Jest, Auto-Killed
there's a novel named Infinite Jest, 1996, by David Foster Wallace.
In 2005 it was included by Time magazine in its list of the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923.
The author, David Foster Wallace (1962 – 2008), killed himself, at age 46. Reason was depression.
linguistics, Chinese language, and scifi
who is Ted Chiang?
so, The New Yorker recently ran a article titled Bad Character, by Ted Chiang.
it is a lame repetition on how chinese should be alphabetized.
i was thinking, has The New Yorker gone so low to publish a article of blatant ignorance? Or, as a novelty to its US American readers?
then i thought, perhaps the author, just want to bring up an old topic for thought.
looking up, seems Ted Chiang is a well-known scifi writer. Who's he?
I read 〈War and Peace〉 in 20 minutes.
〔 Sorry, You Can't Speed Read By Jeffrey M Zacks And Rebecca Treiman. At http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/17/opinion/sunday/sorry-you-cant-speed-read.html〕
and, a decade ago: On Speed Reading