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Andy Bakun
Google Code is a ghetto. It's like Sourceforge, but without the ads.
do you think its worth saving? - Steve and 4 other people
Stephen Mack
Celebrity deaths: A statistical analysis -
A statistical refutation of . The image above can be viewed full-size at . My conclusion? Celebrity deaths come in one-point-sevens, not #threes. - Stephen Mack
Awesome - Chieze Okoye
Thanks, Chieze! I enjoyed crunching actual data. - Stephen Mack
No refutations? Have I really killed it this time? - Stephen Mack from iPhone
I'm on a plane! - Kevin Fox from iPhone
See my blog comment -- From some perspective, deaths *always* come in 3's, you just have to see what the distribution of durations between deaths D and D+2 are. :) I'd like to know: What's the median (or 90, 95%ile) time for which "all deaths come in 3's" is true. - Steve and 4 other people
BTW, would also be nice to compare vs. a random control sample of a similar distribution to actual celebrity death data. - Steve and 4 other people
Steve, I've seen your blog comment now, and you've proposed an interesting approach. When I get some time I'll post the CSV data and run the analysis you suggest. However, you can tell at a glance from just the visual representation that the duration between D, D+1, and D+2 will vary wildly. - Stephen Mack
Davis, how do you propose testing for the global population? What groupings of the deaths do you think exist? Geography? - Stephen Mack
Also, Davis, you're right about July 99. You've got me thinking of another simple analysis: Number of deaths per month, and what percentage of the time that number is evenly divisible by three. - Stephen Mack
Steve, for the control data, what do you suggest? National obituaries? Death records for all inhabitants of a particular county? - Stephen Mack
No, just a random distribution. You know how many deaths occurred over your interval, so just simulate it assuming each person has a 1/Nth chance of dying each day (where N is the number of days in the sample). - Steve and 4 other people
And yup, I know the distribution will be pretty wide, and that's what's interesting about it. :) You should be able to compare that with the random distribution to see if there's any difference. - Steve and 4 other people
Man, this conversation reminds me of the stuff I liked about my stats class... 8^D - Chieze Okoye
Steve, I took a look at the suggestion of days between D and D+x as you suggested in more detail in your blog comment. For every metric (average days, median, etc.) the data is better explained by groups of 2 than groups of 3. Performance for all groupings was pathetic, with an average of at least 8 days overall even for groups of 2. The standard deviation was at least 4.5 days, which backs up my previous prediction that it would vary wildly. - Stephen Mack
Davis, I took a look at number of deaths per month as well. The number of months where the total deaths was divisible by three was... wait for it ... 38.2%, close to expected value of 33.3%. Average number of deaths per month is actually 7.7. - Stephen Mack
A revised version of the spreadsheet with new tabs ("Avg Days of Span" and "Calendar" respectively) for the two new methods is now available, - Stephen Mack
I've also provided a data file called CORPUS.TXT with just the names and dates, in CSV format: - Stephen Mack
If I'm reading that right, the ~50%ile of the number of days between D and D+2 is 7. To me, that says "half the time, 3 (or more) celebrities have died in the same week" That seems like the kind of thing that would easily turn into an urban myth. If you go out to 14 days, you get to nearly 87%! - Steve and 4 other people
Steve, yes. But 50% success is awful. Another way of saying that is, "half the time, when a celebrity dies, only 1 or 2 celebrities will die that week." So the myth at BEST is 50% right, when you allow a FULL WEEK for the deaths to coincide. You'd do better if the myth is that "celebrity deaths come in 2s" -- about half the time, 2 celebrities die in a period just 2 days apart. - Stephen Mack
Put another way: Using your method, "celebrity deaths come in twos" is more accurate than "celebrity deaths come in threes." So the superstition is wrong. - Stephen Mack
For an urban myth, I think 50% success rate is pretty good. :) - Steve and 4 other people
It's not 50%. To get 50%, you have to include 3 OR MORE (so, sometimes 4, sometimes 5, sometimes 10) -- and that's with AN ENTIRE WEEK of allowance. Remember, other variations of the myth (celebrities die in 2s, celebrities die in 1.7s) do better . You've seen the spreadsheet. There's no method where "celebrities die in 3s" has any statistical validity whatsoever. This myth has been 100% debunked. - Stephen Mack
The idea of 70% dead celebrity is kind of gruesome ;) (He's only mostly dead....) - Victor Ganata
He got better. - Stephen Mack
Send this data to Mythbusters! - Ken Gidley
Unless the Mythbusters team gets to actually blow up the celebrities to test whether they clump together in threes or not, I don't think this myth is quite telegenic enough for them. - Stephen Mack
Slacy created a graph in a separate thread here: - Stephen Mack
50/50 after 4 votes. Please go and vote your conscience! - Stephen Mack
I think what's missing is a solid theory of celebritigenesis. Without that, it's hard to figure out what the null hypothesis would be. - Victor Ganata
Rue McClannihan makes three!:-P Actually Stephen, I've got some interesting analysis to dovetail with your own that I hope to write up in the next few days. - Kevin Fox
Victor, I think's approach is good. A celebrity is hard to define, but (like many other things) we know one when we see one. Having an objective panel that independently answers "have you heard of this person?" is about as good a criteria as I can think of. - Stephen Mack
Kevin, I thought it was supposed to be Art/Gary/Dennis and now Rue starting a new series? This superstition is so hard to nail down! But regardless, I look forward to your analysis. - Stephen Mack
Stephen, I guess that's just it--where exactly is the threshold for celebrity vs non-celebrity? Are you famous if 1 million people know you, but not if only 999,999 people know you? I guess my question is, what do we actually think we're measuring? ;) - Victor Ganata
Art isn't famous to me, so it'd be Gary, Dennis and Rue. - Kevin Fox
Victor, it's an excellent question. If you want to create your own personal list of living celebrities, we can then monitor that list as they pass away and test whether or not they die in threes (whatever THAT means), and then judge whether or not the superstition is true for YOU. - Stephen Mack
Kevin, funny, I'd never heard of Rue before today. (Never watched Golden Girls.) It proves Victor's point. The subjective nature of the superstition is what makes it hard to prove or falsify. - Stephen Mack
The subjective nature makes it much easier to prove, just harder to tell whether it's meaningful. If, in any string of 10 deaths, there are clumps of three that are meaningful for one person that person will claim it to be an instance of the 'death in 3s' phenomenon, and for them it will be right. They'll have heard of several other instances of 'death in 3s' from their friends over the... more... - Kevin Fox
Now that I think of it, the null hypothesis would be thus: if celebrities *don't* die in clumps of three, then there should be roughly equal spacing between their deaths (+/- some error), regardless of what time frame you choose. So all you have to do is pick a threshold duration, wait for celebrities to die, and see if there's a statistically significant difference between the actual death rate versus if they just died at regular intervals instead. - Victor Ganata
So say we pick a duration of a week. If the null hypothesis is correct, then they should each die roughly within 2 days and 8 hours of each other. If it's tighter than that (we'd have to do the math to see at what point it would be statistically significant) then the alternative hypothesis is true, and they *do* die in clumps. - Victor Ganata
Kevin, exactly right. My first debunking (from 2008) used the same argument: "This belief is an example of selective perception (; You tend to remember the times when there was a grouping of three seemingly-related deaths in a short period of time, which reinforces the belief, but tend to forget the times when there wasn’t a pattern. As... more... - Stephen Mack
Another psychological factor to consider is mental temporal boundaries. If the weekend is a memory reset, where things on the far end of a weekend feel more removed, then three deaths in a work week, or in a single weekend, could be perceived as a clump even if the boundary between the first and the one previous to it is less than the boundary between the first and the third, just because the one before the work week 'feels significantly longer ago' - Kevin Fox
Victor, the raw data is available. (See links above.) There are 1,422 deaths over 5,669 days. So you expect the average death to be about 4 days apart, which in fact is what the data shows. The null hypothesis you propose in fact has strong significance in the data. - Stephen Mack
So there you have it. Proof that celebrities don't die in clumps but actually die at regular intervals. :D - Victor Ganata
Thank you, sir! *shakes hands with Victor* - Stephen Mack
Still like this thread. - Micah from FFHound(roid)!
Thanks, Micah. (In reviewing the above: I miss Chieze, and I'm still mad at Davis F. for deleting his account.) - Stephen Mack
Bumping from April 8, 2013 to today. - Stephen Mack
Bumping posts always comes in threes. - Louis Gray
RT @buzzfeeduk: There’s a new cover for "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". Not many people like it.
RT @buzzfeeduk: There’s a new cover for "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". Not many people like it.
B. LB.
How did we (I) ever survive without dual monitors?
why did you just now get dual? dual are awesome! - Sir Shuping is just sir
Go triple and you'll never go back. - Todd Hoff
I've had them for a while, but I was thinking today about how much I like them. *drools on Todd* - B. LB. from Android
ah know, if you wanted three you can have one of my monitors. - Sir Shuping is just sir
I'm a big fan of dual monitors. But if you can't go dual, you can get a 39" 4k tv that works as a monitor for $330 on Amazon. The brand is Seiki. I still can't get over that. (Cue up the "I remember when 42" plasma TVs were $3,000...) I've played with a friend's and it is really mind blowing. Next time I need a TV or a monitor, that's what I'm going to get. - Brian Johns
I'm back on a single 30" now, and I think it's better than dual. :) 2560x1600 is a-maz-ing! - Steve and 4 other people
I ask myself that every day. - Jim: with more caffeine!
At this point, I'd probably just go with an ultrawide instead of a dual monitor setup. - NOT THE CRICKET
But if your only computer is a laptop... - Jim: with more caffeine!
I have a triple at work and a double at home. My wife uses a 32" 1080p TV. One big screen is tempting. (Plus the window snapping in Windows works pretty well.) - (Curtis) Alan Jackson
I should probably casting chrome to my TV at some point. - Jim: with more caffeine!
Mr. B is using a 39" TV and a 22" monitor at the moment. - B. LB. from Android
Steve and 4 other people
I wish. - Stephen Mack
Turns out it was the sound of boiling oatmeal that I thought was raindrops. - Steve and 4 other people
Mmm raining oatmeal. - Stephen Mack from iPhone
Steve and 4 other people
Coming back from Vegas makes the Bay Area seem strangely humid.
It's not you. It's me. - Louis Gray
Our offices are just as freezing cold as the typical Casino, which is a good thing. - Steve and 4 other people
Steve and 4 other people
Vegas smells weird
NYC smells like pee. - Big Joe Silence
Ah, the smell of cigarette smoke and despair. - Victor Ganata
To me it's basically the smell of industrial sanitizer and maybe an amalgam of body sprays. - Steve and 4 other people from Android
Kevin Fox
Poorly thought-out articles like this make me wish I still kept a blog. Some good points, some really stupid ones.
What happened to your blog? - Louis Gray
It was continually being hacked, I think, so he took it down or made it all static pages. - Steve and 4 other people
Kevin Fox
Confession for context: I've only watched the first two episodes of Silicon Valley, but am hooked on H&CF.
H&CF is 10x better than Silicon Valley. Less quotable, but I'll take a high-quality drama over some hit or miss jokes. Also, Beta's hit the comedy portion of tech, better, IMO. And they predicted Monkey Parking and a few other services. - NOT THE CRICKET
I've been really enjoying H&CF but I'm on E07 and Gordon's going a bit crazy and it's disturbing... - Steve and 4 other people
It was meant to be disturbing, I think. I really liked that episode. (Between the pressure and traumatic event in E06, it makes sense). E08 is even better. - NOT THE CRICKET
I am looking forward to watching H&CF. and I'm looking forward to seeing season 2 of Betas more than season 2 of SV. - Stephen Mack from iPhone
Stephen, sadly Betas was not picked up for a 2nd season by Amazon - Chris Topher
Chris Topher, Betas hasn't been canceled yet, it's just on hold and Amazon hasn't made their final decision, yet. - NOT THE CRICKET
I read that they made the decision back in March to not renew it. "And while Amazon was pleased enough with the results for political comedy “Alpha House” that it’s bringing it back for a second season, the Silicon Valley-set “Betas” is not being renewed. Maybe they changed their mind /shrug " and-renews-alpha-house-1201150016/ - Chris Topher
I thought all the articles were released at once in March. This one was a few weeks prior though, and Amazon had to clarify they hadn't made final decisions yet. The Variety article still looks like they're trying to figure it out. - NOT THE CRICKET
Ken Morley
Fun Fact: Rule 110 is Turing complete -
Fun Fact: Rule 110 is Turing complete
"In mathematics and computability theory, an elementary cellular automaton is a one-dimensional cellular automaton where there are two possible states (labeled 0 and 1) and the rule to determine the state of a cell in the next generation depends only on the current state of the cell and its two immediate neighbors. As such it is one of the simplest possible models of computation. Nevertheless, there is an elementary cellular automaton which is capable of universal computation." - Ken Morley from Bookmarklet
"The Rule 110 cellular automaton is an elementary cellular automaton with interesting behavior on the boundary between stability and chaos. In this respect it is similar to Game of Life. Rule 110 is known to be Turing complete. This implies that, in principle, any calculation or computer program can be simulated using this automaton." - Ken Morley
"Rule 110 exhibits what Wolfram calls "Class 4 behavior", which is neither completely stable nor completely chaotic. Localized structures appear and interact in various complicated-looking ways." - Ken Morley
Ah, I must be reading the same book Todd read last year. - Ken Morley
What about rule 34? - Steve and 4 other people
Always wear a rule 34 tie with a rule 36 shirt. - Ken Morley
But rule 30 is much more interesting :) - Ken Morley
Kevin Fox
There's a serious dearth of TVs sized between 32" and 39".
I believe the technical term is "miniature." - Kevin (aka ThreadKilla)
When I was a kid, we got a HUGE new TV with a REMOTE CONTROL. It was TWENTY ONE INCHES! - Steve and 4 other people
Stephen Mack
1000 Forms of Fear by Sia (new album released July 8): $3.99 on Amazon in MP3 format -
1000 Forms of Fear by Sia (new album released July 8): $3.99 on Amazon in MP3 format
It's $7.99 on iTunes and on Google Play. Funny that Apple sent me a promo e-mail saying it was on sale on iTunes, but I'm glad I checked Amazon first to save $4. - Stephen Mack from Bookmarklet
Anyone given this a listen yet? - Stephen Mack
Oh, I forgot to answer your question! I did like it. It was the first I've really listened to her. - holly #ravingfangirl from iPhone
My Spotify ended up on it yesterday, I think I clicked through on one song. Really good. I've always loved her voice. Titanium and Wild Ones are two songs I absolutely love. - NOT THE CRICKET
I like her past stuff thanks for the tip on this one. - Steve C Team Marina
Listing now on GPMAA (Google Play Music All Access) - Steve and 4 other people
This was good but not great IMHO. I found myself wishing that this was either "more R&B" or "more white girl pop" but it straddles that line. Reminded me a bit of Janelle Monae... - Steve and 4 other people
Andrew C (✔)
The Visor: Stealth Hoodie-Face Guard Hood with Clear Vision by Enthousis — Kickstarter -
The Visor: Stealth Hoodie-Face Guard Hood with Clear Vision by Enthousis — Kickstarter
"Perfect vision with your face covered: While completely zipped up, we have built in mesh panels to allow you to see out with complete clarity. This fabric also allows for easy breathing when zipped up. " - Andrew C (✔) from Bookmarklet
Uhh... ok... - rönin
Of course, there already are a lot of full-face zip-up hoodies ( ) but those tend to be more for looks than function -- I don't think they afford much peripheral vision. - Andrew C (✔)
For when you really, really want to get shot by law enforcement. - Steve and 4 other people
Brian Johns
My friends are finding the photos of the interior of this house amusing:
Can I have that den? - Steve and 4 other people
Plastic furniture covering, this was a big thing when I was growing up. This is a Mad Men time capsule. - Janet from FFHound!
The thing that really surprised me - I mean _one_ thing that really surprised me - was how "normal" the kitchen looks. That basement bar/poolhall thing is great though. I need more pictures of naked ladies in my basement. - Brian Johns
I like how Farrah Fawcett was written on the stair beside her picture. - NOT THE CRICKET
I want that house. Kitsch and all. - Hookuh Tinypants
Looks like it was decorated back in the 70's, by an old Italian lady from Bloomfield, NJ. - April Russo
holly #ravingfangirl
Can someone bring me some burnt ends? plsthxbye. #craving
Burnt ends of what? - Laura
I once stood behind someone ordering brisket who specifically asked for 'none of the black stuff at the end.' I volunteered for that portion after she'd ordered. - Jennifer Dittrich
Nibbly bits... :) - Lisa L. Seifert from iPhone
seriously, holly. when are you coming to nashville? - ~Courtney F
The best part - Eric from iPhone
Oh god prime rib end cut! Droool! - Steve and 4 other people
my nearest bbq place just added "burnt end poutine" to their menu and i have to say, I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M NOT THERE RIGHT NOW. - jambina
first item on the menu, baby. - jambina
so much want. - holly #ravingfangirl
Brisket burnt end. Take the brisket point off the flat when it's about 165, separate, reseason, cut into one inch cubes, continue smoking, then fry up in the fat cut off when you were trimming earlier, and then make a sauce from the rested brisket flat juices. - Eric from iPhone
Louis Gray
I had lunch with Steve Lacy today. AMA.
I forgot to have lunch. I was having too much fun with the pop riveter. - Slippy: Formless
How was lunch? - Stephen Mack from iPhone
How many steps in total was the circuit? - Steve and 4 other people
BTW lunch was fine the chicken was a bit tough. :) - Steve and 4 other people
Lunch was good. Pizza, chicken, vegetables. Even dessert! - Louis Gray
According to Moves, our route was 4,231 steps in total. - Louis Gray
Stephen Mack
I'm trying out "Breeze," the new step-tracking iPhone app from RunKeeper. It uses the built-in motion tracking hardware of the iPhone 5S. Gets decent results. However, the notifications are ridiculous and patronizing. If it can't talk to me like I'm an adult, I have no respect for it.
Show all
Fancy that. - Stephen Mack from iPhone
I would have to punch my phone if I saw that. I don't remember if it was Endomodo or Runkeeper who had the "encouragement coach" while you're running, but it was like pure sarcasm, "Oh. Another half mile. Good. For. You." - Anika
Ugh: I hate apps that do that. MailChimp is another one. I'd like to know where in the world that type of condescending tone is considered familiar. - Mark Trapp
Anika: They turned Clippy into a running coach??? - Stephen Mack from iPhone
Kevin Fox
Does anyone know of a child named using Unicode emoji yet?
I just had a talk with a County Birth Recorder (that's an official position) earlier this week and I didn't even think to ask about emoji! - Brian Johns
Welcome to the world, 👶! - Steve and 4 other people
Steve and 4 other people
FYI there's no such thing as "Comic Sans" on Android.
Does Android have more than one font yet? - Amit Patel
Of course Android has both Droid, *and* Roboto. - Steve and 4 other people
Kevin Fox
We've reached Peak Hipster.
$400??? - Betsy
My typewriter won't fit in there. - Brian Johns
"while maintaining the cavity versatile"--really? - Walt Crawford
Real Hipsters will wait for the teak version. #TeakHipster - Micah from FFHound(roid)!
Kevin Fox
In the last week I've seen two people with Apple badges off-campus wearing 80s-style wrist sweatbands. Coincidence, or camouflage?
Camo, almost certainly. - Steve and 4 other people
iWatch - Julian
iSweatband - Stephen Mack
iRetrowrist - Janet from FFHound!
Android Wear. - Louis Gray
I have the Gear Live and kind of like it. :) - Steve and 4 other people
Steve and 4 other people
RT @mtnviewcityhall: .@ScottMcGrew and @DerekShore on Mountain View preparations for Levi's Statdium game days @nbcbayarea
OMG! People might try to park near transit and use it to get to the game! Holy crap we've got to put a stop to that! - Brian Johns
VTA going to charge $25 for the ride from MTV to Levis. MTV going to charge $10 for parking. - Steve and 4 other people
Also, just open a parking lot at Moffett and let people get on VTA to Levis there? Jeebus people are stoopid - Steve and 4 other people
Steve and 4 other people
A version of Minecraft where every block is another world in Minecraft.
How do you know that your Minecraft experience isn't already just a single block in somebody else's Minecraft? - Brian Johns
This is a magnificent post. - Micah from FFHound(roid)!
It's minecraft blocks all the way down. - Laura Norvig
Thinking about trying to prototype something where every block is another 16x16 block. Yes, recursively. - Steve and 4 other people
Steve and 4 other people
Remember the vuvuzera?
I can't hear you, there's a buzzing in my ear. - Betsy
I remember when they tried to use it during the rugby world cup. Funny nobody did it. - Xabaras (G.O.)
Things that should NOT be pickled:
Cucumbers - Micah from FFHound(roid)!
high heel shoes. - Marie
Electronic devices. - John (bird whisperer)
Sharpies. - Jennifer Dittrich
Eggs, 'nads, or eyeballs - t-ra supports #LOLSpidra from Android
Cake - Stephen Mack from iPhone
Infants. - Akiva
Tires. - Akiva
Satellites. - Akiva
Wheat. - Akiva
Formica. - Akiva
Pickles. - Akiva
Puppies. - Akiva
Planets. - Akiva
Feces. - Akiva
Porcupines. - Akiva
And apparently the letter 'P'. GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK E'REYBODY. - Akiva
tumescent members - Big Joe Silence
Peanut butter - Janet from FFHound!
Big Joe Silence. - Akiva
My liver. - Marie
@Akiva: my brain was pickled for much of the 90s. - Big Joe Silence
Twinkies. - Joe
my liver - MoTO: Team Marina
Steve and 4 other people
RT @andrewgodwin: Minecraft is now the #3 selling game of all time. Beaten only by Wii Sports (a pack-in) and Tetris. Wow.
I guess in terms of units sold, rather than revenue? I'm pretty sure WoW has made the most money. - Stephen Mack from iPhone
Yeah, probably. - Steve and 4 other people
Holly's favorite Anna
"This capacity responds to fans’ skepticism at the Tamarian’s technological prowess. The Children of Tama would not be delayed by their inability to speak directly because they seem to have no need whatsoever for explicit, low-level discourse like instructions and requests." -- BULLLLLLLLLLLSHIT - Andrew C (✔)
And again, it never explains how the Tamarian children learn these stories and myths. Surely adults don't just chant "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra" until the kids suddenly get it. - Andrew C (✔)
And what do you say when you're figuring out what to have for lunch, esp if no shared cultural story has a hero who wanted, say, a burrito? "Darmok at the food court... but not what he had?" - Andrew C (✔)
There are few things in geek culture that make me more annoyed than this episode of TNG. Sorry. - Andrew C (✔)
yah, but it's fun to appropriate. - Big Joe Silence
The concepts are interesting, but the reality and execution get tricky. Symbolic spoken language might work if there was also a telepathic communication that could convey the details/complexity with the words as a short-hand. - Holly's favorite Anna
But if you could communicate details telepathically, why would you need spoken language at all? That'd be like how I've wished I could teleport so I wouldn't be late for the bus. - Andrew C (✔)
Even though it doesn't really work with Tamarian as portrayed in TNG, I still find the idea of the Universal Translator translating every morpheme in a brain dead fashion highly amusing. Like, imagine if the Tamarians spoke a highly-appropriative language like Modern English, and the UT just decided to literally translate all the Greek and Latin and Celtic and Anglo-Saxon and Norman French morphemes without any regard to cultural or historical context whatsoever. - Victor Ganata
Although, to be honest, the more I think about it, the more it doesn't really seem that far of a stretch where the majority of verbal communication involves quoting lines from movies and memes. This is already kind of how me and my brother communicate. :D Of course, it doesn't account for the lack of less context-dependent forms of communication, but it's still amusing. - Victor Ganata
I used to speak with friends in long strings of Simpsons quotes. I get communicating by reference and allegory, but I also got that _not everyone got those references_. The bootstrapping problem that the Tamarian captain has with Picard is exactly the same problem Tamarian children would have and illustrates exactly what's idiotic about the entire premise. - Andrew C (✔)
What if you were connected to the Internet before you were even verbal, and you're been bombarded 24/7 by memes for years and years? I guess we'll eventually find out! :D - Victor Ganata
I mean, sure, the execution of the idea wasn't that great, but I actually don't think the premise of a highly-context dependent language that isn't easily translatable by a machine is far-fetched. All it would take from a ST canon perspective is to say Kirk's description of the UT as a telepathy device is totally wrong. Then it would be easy to say the translation algorithm just screwed up royally. #DamnYouUniversalTranslator - Victor Ganata
Seriously, what's a starship captain gonna know about linguistics and how to program machine language translation algorithms, anyway? And if you really had a telepathy device, why would you only use it to translate languages and not invade people's minds when you're in dangerous situations? - Victor Ganata
"I actually don't think the premise of a highly-context dependent language that isn't easily translatable by a machine is far-fetched." -- except in a universe where the UT otherwise has never failed. - Andrew C (✔)
That said, there's a great moment in Y The Last Man, I think, where someone upbraids Yorick for using the "crossed the Rubicon" phrase without really knowing what it means... but since we're not as dumb as the Tamarians, when we use a phrase and listeners don't know what it means, we don't merely repeat it over and over hoping for enlightenment by repetition. - Andrew C (✔)
If you accept the premise that Kirk's explanation for how the UT works is crap (kind of like how I think Morpheus's explanation for why the machines enslaved the humans is crap), then there's no reason to assume that the UT is infallible. For all we know, there are billions of instances when it failed, but the writers just never touched the topic except for this episode. - Victor Ganata
"If you accept the premise that Kirk's explanation for how the UT works is crap" -- that way lies fanfiction! Beware! - Andrew C (✔)
That's actually the only time that they ever try to explain the UT, though (well, unless they do it in the episodes of Enterprise that I haven't watched yet.) And, again, there's good reason to doubt Kirk's grasp of the actual technology. - Victor Ganata
Still, would even Kirk have the stones to bullshit Zefram Cochrane? - Andrew C (✔)
Kirk probably believed that that's how it really works. Still doesn't mean it's how it actually works, though. - Victor Ganata
Especially after watching Enterprise, I'm more inclined to believe it's just a far more sophisticated version of the pre-Federation UT, to be honest. - Victor Ganata
But leaving aside whether a very-highly-context dependent language would actually work that way and ignoring whether the UT would actually fail in that manner, the episode and the article does tread the well-worn ground of semiotics. Words ultimately only represent reality indirectly—the connection between words and reality is quite tenuous at best. Words more directly represent words... more... - Victor Ganata
The part that kills it for me is that they clearly have normal non-metaphorical words, such as "fist" and "walls" and "sail" -- and they understand the difference between "open" and "closed." So it is simply untrue that they only speak in metaphor. They must speak a non-metaphorical version of their language as well. - Stephen Mack from iPhone
Andrew, when the geeks brought up the 'Darmok' episode. {shakes fist} - Andrew C (✔) from Android
I think it's possible that the individual words don't have much conscious meaning the same way we rarely think of the meanings of individual morphemes and only consciously think about words, though. - Victor Ganata
I enjoyed the episode because I didn't think this hard about it. - Amit Patel
Sort of related: I just remembered a book I read and enjoyed a few years ago, The Guild of Xenolinguists. It's a series of short stories by Sheila Finch. - Betsy
Thinking out loud: What if Tamarians have two levels of language. As children, they speak one level that is closer to ours, and that's how they learn the stories and "open" and "closed." As adults, they transition to the allegorical/metaphorical/whateverical language. Maybe the first language, let's call it FirstSpeak, is used by and to children, and also at home with family, but rarely... more... - Betsy
"I enjoyed the episode because I didn't think this hard about it." - it's not like I was striving to dislike this episode. The basic bootstrapping problem occurred to me while watching it for the first time. - Andrew C (✔) from Android
[Still thinking out loud]. With the addition of servant caste to my theory, maybe FirstSpeak doesn't apply to family anymore. Maybe FirstSpeak is only used by/to children and by/to the servant caste, further emphasizing the difference between servant caste and ruling caste. And I'm stopping now.] - Betsy
And doesn't Picard teach the Tamarian captain an Earth story? That would mean the foundations of the Tamarian "language" aren't transmitted via DNA nor telepathy. - Andrew C (✔) from Android
There's really no indication that the Tamarian captain understood Picard's summary of the Epic of Gilgamesh, though. - Victor Ganata
The more I think about it, the more it seems that having an entire cultural database pumped into your brain before you're even verbal isn't really that far-fetched. - Victor Ganata
Oh! I just remembered an Ursula K. Le Guin short story that totally does the bootstrapping thing, though. Only children speak. The adults only communicate non-verbally. - Victor Ganata
It's called "The Silence of the Asonu" - Victor Ganata
I'm now imagining a scenario where the highly abstract, very culturally context dependent dialect they speak is the formal dialect of their culture. Everyone first learns to speak some low-prestige dialect but if they want to get ahead in their society (like being able to pilot a starship) you have to only use the formal dialect. It could really just be an extreme form of code switching enforced by dialect discrimination - Victor Ganata
I don't think the bootstrapping thing is as bad as you expect. Imagine a child learning the word "Laughter" or "Laughing". You wait for an appropriate moment where the child is laughing, and then you introduce the word. Imagine instead that you introduce the phrase "Steve, when the comments were read" The child learns the same association. I can also see that the child might actually... more... - Steve and 4 other people
"you have to only use the formal dialect" - but it would be asinine to think that foreigners necessarily know and use your formal dialect. The Tamarian captain was clearly exasperated, but he didn't resort to the non-allegory language, and that's more likely because he didn't have one than because using it would be declassé. - Andrew C (✔)
Why would we assume that aliens would understand, say, AAVE or Cockney or pidgin, better than General American or RP? I mean, I can't really imagine that the first thing a starship captain would try if the aliens didn't get General American is start speaking to them in a dialect that doesn't have as much prestige. - Victor Ganata
Look, there is no "Simpsons-ese" where people *only* communicate in Simpsons references, and believe me, I've tried. - Andrew C (✔)
I guess I'm trying to look at it more abstractly, though. The execution wasn't that great, but I'm reimagining the premise as one where we have a language that the UT can only translate very literally and not idiomatically. If you ignore the specifics (like the Tamarians apparently do :D ) it doesn't seem like such a preposterous idea to me. - Victor Ganata
I mean, if you think too hard about language, it becomes apparent that all language—even individual words, individual morphemes—are really just analogies and abstractions of reality. I actually think that the writers got that part right, at least. - Victor Ganata
"in a dialect that doesn't have as much prestige" -- I would assume that if they didn't get General American at all that they might instead start from the building blocks of language, the way we generally teach language these days. We don't just say things louder and slower. The Tamarian captain's plan was literally to just repeat himself until it worked. There's no way they developed advanced technology if one of their starship captains was that dumb. - Andrew C (✔)
That's why they went with gestures, and that didn't go so well either. - Victor Ganata
I mean, what do you mean by "building blocks of language" though? You learn semiotics well before you're verbal. We don't teach kids what words mean by going through their etymologies. - Victor Ganata
Now that I think about it, how would you even teach someone what "failure" or "agreement" meant devoid of any experential context? - Victor Ganata
I love this episode! And this discussion! - Daniel W. Crompton
"I mean, what do you mean by "building blocks of language" though? " grammar and meaning, I guess. Like Stephen said earlier, they know individual words like "fist" and "open". The building blocks of their language are the stories they have to tell each other, and those stories themselves, at some level, cannot be endless allegories to something else. They don't say anything like "Jell and Kevarr at Dan" to mean "Darmok and Jelad at Tenagra" because, like, ... why? - Andrew C (✔)
But that's what language is! Endless allegories and analogies to something else! You only need to look at etymologies to know its true. - Victor Ganata
Meaning is elusive. - Victor Ganata
This is one of my favorite episodes. That is all. - Friar Will
You don't consciously learn syntax and grammar, though, at least not until you start formal education. Much of that ends up in place long before you're actually verbal. So it's not that difficult for me to imagine that, if the Tamarians also never thought to bring a linguist along, it would be nearly impossible to get to that very basic but also mostly instinctual level of instruction across a massive cultural divide that we can't even really imagine. - Victor Ganata
I still like the analogy where their individual words correspond to our individual morphemes. While they do carry some semantic meaning, they're hard to pin down without surrounding context. The word "walls" in "Shaka when the walls fell" probably has the same status as "-struct-" does in a word like "deconstruction." Knowing that "-struct-" is derived from Latin "to build" doesn't... more... - Victor Ganata
Like analyzing the morphemic elements in "deconstruction" (de- sense of undoing, -con- "together", -struct- "to build", -ion morpheme that nouns verbs) totally doesn't tell you what "deconstruction" means. - Victor Ganata
"You need to know the history of Western Civ leading up to Postmodernism to really appreciate what it means. " -- and by analogy, the Tamarians would... share their stories! not repeat "deconstruction" over and over, which is essentially what the Tamarian captain actually did. - Andrew C (✔)
Like I said, how to you explain "agreement" when you can't be sure that the other person has any idea of how your culture and society is supposed to work? I can't imagine how you would convey that with gestures alone. - Victor Ganata
The "allegories and analogies to something else" is where this concept totally fails in the episode, because the Tamarians apparently cannot grasp that there /is/ a "something else" at all; they make references without even the concept that anyone could not know those references. Which I maintain is pretty much as impossible as the language Douglas Hofstadter proposed (as a thought... more... - Andrew C (✔)
Just thinking about the ST prime universe, we kind of cheated with even getting a universal translator up and running. The very first sapient species we met were telepaths with similar biology (owing to the Ancients). Without the Vulcans and their existing knowledge base, and without the shared neurobiology with a lot of the sapient species in the Alpha Quadrant (the Klingons and the Cardassians were also descendants of the Ancients), I wonder how impossible trying to grok xenolinguistics would've been. - Victor Ganata
But what is that "something else" though? I suppose one could argue that nouns and verbs most closely correlate to experience in reality, but even then, they're ultimately idealized abstractions that rely mainly on shared experience and shared culture/society to have any useful meaning. - Victor Ganata
Yes, but there are some foundational words rooted in reality or pre-verbal experiences (eating, for example), which is how we bootstrap. The Tamarian language has an immense bootstrapping problem. - Andrew C (✔)
Conversely, if the allegories of Tamarian-ese map so well to words and phrases, then the UT shouldn't have failed. - Andrew C (✔)
But you can't really bootstrap an entire language on base concepts like that. Otherwise learning other terrestrial languages would be totally trivial. - Victor Ganata
Yeah, but we're having this discussion ignoring the alleged infallibility of the UT. I think we can all agree that if Kirk's explanation for how it works is right, then there's no way this episode makes any sense. - Victor Ganata
Even ignoring Kirk's explanation, though, the established function of the UT has been that it has basically always worked, or at least never failed to the extent that it did with the Tamarian language. - Andrew C (✔)
I have to wonder, though, how one could possibly go about explaining the history of Western Civilization leading up to Postmodernism if you don't share a common language or a common culture :D I don't see how you could start from basic concepts of eating and sleeping. At best, it would take a *really* *really* long time. - Victor Ganata
Absence of evidence of failure is not evidence of absence of failure ;) - Victor Ganata
Actually, while there weren't any episodes depicting total failure of the UT except for this one, there were apparently a couple of DS9 episodes where the UT wasn't perfect - Victor Ganata
The UT facilitated translation to the nanites!!! By any measure they're more foreign than the Tamarians. Edit: two fucking seasons before "Darmok"!!!!! - Andrew C (✔)
Steve and 4 other people
Plural of syntax? As in "Yeah, I wrote this great parser, and it understands all 3 ______ of Python"
"syntagma"? (referenced as one possible incorrect pluralization) - Steve and 4 other people
"syntaxes" - NOT THE CRICKET
I agree with Jimminy. - Stephen Mack from iPhone
And I know it's an example, but I want to nit. I'd probably call them in that specific case, "Python", "branches of Python syntax", assuming you're talking about <2.6, 2.7, and 3.x. Since it is primarily one syntax, with breaking but minimal revision. - NOT THE CRICKET
Or you could be talking about idiomatic styles, because their are several thanks to the flexibility of the language. - NOT THE CRICKET "syntaces" if you want a spoof plural - Glen Campbell
Syntaxes. [ What is the plural of syntax?] - Sean McBride
Rewrite to say "..all three types of Python syntax" ? - WoH: Professor MOTHRA
What's the plural of "tax"? So by extension... - Andrew C (✔)
Well, "syntax" comes from Greek "syntaxis" and the plural would be "syntaxeis", but if you're going from Latin "syntaxis" then it would be "syntaxes". - Victor Ganata
[Google; "syntaxes"] "syntaxes" in context, in real world usage -- nearly 2.5 million hits. - Sean McBride
grep -i syntaxes /usr/share/dict/words -- this means that "syntaxes" is not in the standard Linux dictionary, and thus, shows up as a misspelled word. - Steve and 4 other people
The earlier syntaxis was disrupted by synuber and left us with syntaxes. - Micah from FFHound(roid)!
The wages of syntax are deathtax. - Stephen Mack
It may be syntactics, or just syntax. Syntax is the group of syntactic elements, which is pluralized to syntactics (even though it can also be used in the singular). So syntax and syntactics are roughly equivalent in meaning and purpose, and could show in substitution a shared singular/plural form. Of course, syntactics is apparently not a word according to Chrome's dictionary. - NOT THE CRICKET
Syntactics refers to the domain of syntax in general. Syntaxes refers to multiple individual syntactic systems. - Sean McBride
Steve and 4 other people
How many people do you know that have actual Wikipedia pages about themselves?
(Although to be honest, I've probably only seen Kevin 2 or 3 times ever, so I wouldn't say I really "know him") - Steve and 4 other people
Thought of this because of -- we're going up to SF for her investiture in the 9th circuit court tonight. - Steve and 4 other people
I think I had one on the Polish version of Wikipedia at one point. It was related to my work with independent software for the Dreamcast. Not sure if it still exists, or what it said in the first place. - COMPLICATED MR. NOODLE
Steve, you can add since we both worked with him. (I think you were at TiVo at the same time as Arthur?). I guess it depends on what you mean by "know" -- like I've met Paul Buchheit in person 2-3 times now ( and had a conversation with him, but does that count as me "knowing" him? - Stephen Mack
I'd guess I know 5-6 people with their Wiki page. I'd have to look. One example is and another is - Stephen Mack
Another interesting question would be how many active FriendFeeders (that is, people posting native content at least twice this year) have a Wiki page? - Stephen Mack
I know at least 4 with pages and 3 others that are mentioned on pages. - Anne Bouey
I know 3 with pages. I probably know others, but they're more like acquaintances. - Betsy
*ominous Jimmy Wales eyes* - Micah from FFHound(roid)!
Mine was deleted because I wasn't notable enough. - Amit Patel
In the real world, I know exactly one person with a Wikipedia entry, though I won't tell. I am also the step-brother of someone with an imdb entry who is also the namesake of someone who has a wikipedia entry and works in the same industry in the same country as my step-brother. Does that count? - Slippy: Formless is my dad's cousin. I got to know him a bit when he came for my father's funeral. - Micah from FFHound(roid)!
Three of my first cousins have pages. - Starmama from FFHound(roid)!
My great-great-uncle has a page. (I never met him though) My former downstairs neighbor has a page (for very obvious reasons) I know plenty of people whose companies or research has a page or is mentioned on other pages. I used to be mentioned on a page, but I fought to have the page deleted. - April Russo
Steve and 4 other people
Number of devices you have to keep charged on a regular basis:
I'm up to probably 5 or 6 now. Laptop(s), phone, smartwatch, tablet, kids ipod, kids music player thing. - Steve and 4 other people
Hmm. One laptop, one phone, one Kindle (but only once or twice a month), a Fitbit (but only twice a month), two kids iPads. - Stephen Mack
Too many. Phones, hard drive, laptop, tablet, bike lights, in short, a crap ton. - Uli from Android
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