—- Illiad (author of the webcomic UserFriendly). The subtitle is “Not multiculturalism, but covert colonialism”, the idea being that (for example) a Chinatown in Vancouver where nobody speaks English is a colony, in the worst sense of the word. Perhaps not everyone is interested in learning a language for its own sake like I would be (the only reason I don’t learn more languages is lack of time), but when the language is entrenched, not making the effort to learn it is simply rude.
I have always been of the mind that when you visit a foreign country you’re the one that should make the effort to communicate with the locals. Speaking your birth tongue slower and louder doesn’t make yourself any more understandable, it just makes you look like a jackass. The onus to learn the local language is even heavier if you’re an immigrant. After all, you’re the one asking for the privilege of becoming a part of someone else’s community. That means you can bloody well learn the language; you don’t even have to succeed, you just have to show that you’re willing to try.
Archive for the ‘QOTD’ Category
Vagueness is standardly defined as the possession of borderline cases. For example, ‘tall’ is vague because a man who is 1.8 meters in height is neither clearly tall nor clearly non-tall. No amount of conceptual analysis or empirical investigation can settle whether a 1.8 meter man is tall. Borderline cases are inquiry resistant. Indeed, the inquiry resistance typically recurses. For in addition to the unclarity of the borderline case, there is normally unclarity as to where the unclarity begins. In other words ‘borderline case’ has borderline cases. This higher order vagueness shows that ‘vague’ is vague.
“The fact that there has not been a serious incident involving liquid explosives indicates, I would have thought, that the measures that we have put in place so far have been very effective.”
Ah, that’s how. On which basis the measures against asteroid strike, alien invasion and unexplained nationwide floods of deadly boiling custard have also been remarkably effective.
— From The Register. (Yes, it’s old, but I’ve been behind on Bruce Schneier’s blog.)
A non-textual one this time:
– From Wednesday’s Girl Genius strip.
From the outside, the type systems of languages like Haskell and ML tend to look like a sort of archaic ecstatic religious rite. The bleeding mendicants pause as they shuffle past, sing a verse in praise of the purifying pain of strong typing, then prod themselves with pointy sticks and progress along their lonely road.
Bryan O’Sullivan, commenting on his own quotation of Yaron Minsky. I’ve heard people complain about Haskell’s type system as being too strict, but once you figure out how to get things to type check, you can actually use it like a miniature theorem prover. Which is, essentially, what it is.
Oh yeah, and it’s my birthday today.
The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.
I’m here to shoot a pilot.
— Nobody, apparently. A director called Mike Figgis was supposed to have said it, but apparently the story was a hoax. But it still makes a funny example of what not to say to the security people at an airport.
What does that community mean to me, a person who has to walk by the ROTC [Reserve Officer Training Corps] offices every day on my way to my own office just down the hall — who was watched, noted and reported, all in a day’s work? Today, we gave in willingly and wholeheartedly to a culture of fear and blaming and profiling. It is deemed perfectly appropriate behavior to spy on one another and police one another and report on one another. Such behaviors exist most strongly in closed, undemocratic and fascist societies.
— Kazim Ali, an Indian-ethnic professor of poetry at a university in Pennsylvania, after being reported as a terrorist for leaving a ‘suspicious’ box next to the bin to be recycled (which turned out to contain manuscripts that he was recycling). It’s not his race that caused it, it’s the culture of paranoia that exists over there. America is quite plainly not a free country any more.
“Suppose I wanted to—have a party?” I said.
“Like, what kind of a party?”
“Suppose I wanted Noam Chomsky explained to me by two girls?”
“If you’d rather forget it…”
“You’d have to speak with Flossie,” she said. “It’d cost you.”
— From “The Whore of Mensa”, a short story by Woody Allen (quoted at Language Log).
— Paul Graham. Microsoft is dead, apparently. It certainly no longer taints my computer — I wiped Windows in favour of Ubuntu Feisty last week. The change affected my life so little that I never got round to blogging about it.