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Todd Hoff › Likes

The Ancient Egyptian invention that made everything else possible - -
The Ancient Egyptian invention that made everything else possible -
"The history of Egypt boggles the mind. By any standard the scale of achievement was enormous, but through it all, it seems clear that the economy remained rooted in agriculture. It was the everyday business of the ancient Egyptians to produce food. This they did using a system that was the envy of all. Sandra Postel, Director of the Global Water Policy Project, said that overall, Egypt’s system of basin irrigation proved inherently more stable from an ecological, political, social, and institutional perspective than that of any other irrigation-based society in human history, including the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia where a fallow year had to be interposed to rest the land between harvests on land that was also subject to salinization, something that did not happen along the Nile. “Fundamentally … the system sustained an advanced civilization through numerous political upheavals and other destabilizing events over some 5,000 years. No other place on Earth has been in continuous cultivation for so long.”" - Maitani from Bookmarklet
I'm currently working my way through a rather long lecture series on Egypt's rather long history. I'm all the way up to the 19th dynasty now and 1177 B.C. is on the horizon :) - Eivind
So you've already learned about the Battle of Kadesh? - Maitani
I am quite interested in Egypt's relations with Mittani and with the Hittites. - Maitani
Aye. I've had quite a bit to do with the Hittites lately. Mittani's been around, too. To get back to papyrus: When the Hittites switch from clay tablets to papyrus, we stop hearing from them. Thanks, Egypt :-P - Eivind from Android
:D, Eivind! Btw., the article mainly deals with the part papyrus boats and ropes play in the evolving Egyptian civilization prior to 3,000 BCE: "By far the most ingenious item that emerged from that period was rope, without which building boats and houses would have been more difficult, not to mention the erection of monuments for which Egypt is remembered in later times." It is fascinating to read. - Maitani
I read it, and I agree :) - Eivind
Rakesh Nair
Incredibly detailed pen and ink cityscape drawing spanning 12 feet in circumference - - #art #drawing
Siakja Muni
RT @JamesGleick: “the Tea Party wins not by killing its opponents but by turning them into drooling, staggering replicas of itself”
Kevin Fox
I wish journalists would stop saying 'open source' if they don't know what means. Exposing an API != 'open source'.
"journalists" - Louis Gray
Bruce Lewis
Nature Connects at Missouri Botanical Gardens -
Show all
The Climatron, a giant geodesic dome for displaying tropical plants, also became home to Lego sculptures of animals and plants. - Bruce Lewis
Tweet Feeds
New York Sues Barclays Over High-Frequency Trading -
Jenny H.
All my stuff finally arrived! :)))
The kids were elated to jump on the Playstation as soon as we set up all the electronics. :) - Jenny H. from Android
Oh, man, it is so awesome to finally get all of your stuff after a big move. I can imagine it is even better with the length of the trip and the wait :) - Jennifer Dittrich
I'm a bit worried about my World Cup access now :) - Eivind
Jenn, yep. Three months of worrying about the state of all my things! Granted, I've given up most of my things, but I am attached to those I kept. :) Eivind, shush. You'll get your damn football! :P - Jenny H. from Android
\(^_^)/ - Eivind
So happy your things rejoined you. Even though things are things, when they are special they cannot be replaced. - Janet
Yay for stuff! Yay for Playstation! Yay for football! - vicster: full-bodied
I was most worried about my photos, but they're safe now. :) Vicster. :D - Jenny H. from Android
so glad to hear your things are finally with you. it makes such a difference, especially after purging a bunch of things, to have the stuff you decided to keep. *hand squeezes* - t-ra: WeirdnessSandwich
Did it feel like Christmas and birthdays all rolled into a big pile of YAY? :-D - Corinne L
Thanks, Tamara! Corinne, it really does! :) - Jenny H. from Android
"You'll get your damn football!" that a euphemism? - JA Castillo
Tweet Feeds
No-Fly List Declared Unconstitutional By Federal Judge -
Nearly thirteen years after the 9/11 attacks and the no-fly list is considered a way of life. Or at least it was, until a federal judge’s recent ruling. After 13 people sued the government after they were barred from flying … - Tweet Feeds
Well, you don't even have to like children to smile at this!! :))
Well, you don't even have to like children to smile at this!! :))
وااااای طفلی:( - قاصدک
بیچاره بچه :( - mimsin
گوودووووووووو - پریســــــا
:) - ma∟ıĸ
Adorable!!! <3 - LadLa
یعنی با تمام وجودش جیغ میزنه ولی جالبه از جاش تکون نمیخوره :)) - پریســــــا
She just loved it!! :))) <3 - iFriend
Look at the joy in her face when it pops out at her! :) - Posmo
^__^ - Dr.RoHo
wow!! she's a brave girl! <3 :)) - GΞШ@LL
:)) - Kanga-na
LOL - T2eno9
LOL - T2eno9
مازوخیسم داره ، خودش دگمه رو میزنه و جیغ میزنه ، باز دوباره همینکارو می کنه - حســـــــنے♡
ای جانم چه ترسید - سمیراا
:)) <3 - ifti
:)) - روزبه
<3 :)) - NajVal
طفلي :( - نرگســـ
:) - S'body
ای خدا :))) - ا╬ کامیار ╬ا
:))) <3 - wicky
Seen on an afternoon walk through my hometown
:) - Jenny H. from Android
This Is Your Brain on Writing - -
"A novelist scrawling away in a notebook in seclusion may not seem to have much in common with an NBA player doing a reverse layup on a basketball court before a screaming crowd. But if you could peer inside their heads, you might see some striking similarities in how their brains were churning. That’s one of the implications of new research on the neuroscience of creative writing. For the first time, neuroscientists have used fMRI scanners to track the brain activity of both experienced and novice writers as they sat down — or, in this case, lay down — to turn out a piece of fiction. The researchers, led by Martin Lotze of the University of Greifswald in Germany, observed a broad network of regions in the brain working together as people produced their stories. But there were notable differences between the two groups of subjects. The inner workings of the professionally trained writers in the bunch, the scientists argue, showed some similarities to people who are skilled at other... more... - Jessie from Bookmarklet
"For creative writing, he faced a similar challenge. In previous studies, scientists had observed people doing only small tasks like thinking up a plot in their heads. Dr. Lotze wanted to scan people while they were actually writing. But he couldn’t give his subjects a keyboard to write with, because the magnetic field generated by the scanner would have hurled it across the room. So... more... - Jessie
"When the two groups started to write, another set of differences emerged. Deep inside the brains of expert writers, a region called the caudate nucleus became active. In the novices, the caudate nucleus was quiet. The caudate nucleus is a familiar part of the brain for scientists like Dr. Lotze who study expertise. It plays an essential role in the skill that comes with practice,... more... - Jessie
"During brainstorming, the novice writers activated their visual centers. By contrast, the brains of expert writers showed more activity in regions involved in speech. “I think both groups are using different strategies,” Dr. Lotze said. It’s possible that the novices are watching their stories like a film inside their heads, while the writers are narrating it with an inner voice."" -... more... - Jessie
Interesting about the visual versus the language approach. Looking at tales like Beowulf or Odyssey are they visual or conversational? - Todd Hoff
IIRC I would say they're more conversational, because they have a distinct phonetic cadence since they were intended to be spoken, but I'd have to look again at the original texts. - Jessie
Very interesting study - I was wondering what effect the "writing exercise" had on the language v visual. If they were creative writing students they faced a writing prompt challenge once a day at least so that could affect their "verbal" approach and I also know load of writers who picture their story arc like an unfolding TV drama...... - WarLord
Sarah G.
Greatest missed photo opportunity EVAR
Greatest missed photo opportunity EVAR
Is that Charles in the back? He should have jumped on it. - sglassme
Prince Phillip. - Sarah G.
It looks like she's giving it the side eye. Haha! - Zulema ❧ spicy cocoa tart
I told y'all Dr. Oz was full of it.
I told y'all Dr.  Oz was full of it.
I wish I could get my mother to see this. - MoTO: Tufted Coqeutte
Commerce trumps all. - MoTO: Tufted Coqeutte
Stephen Mack
The idea that yellow and blue make green still seems like crazy unexplainable magic to me.
I very much remember learning about the color wheel and how colors blend as such when I was in kindergarten. Seeing watercolors do precisely that was mind-blowing for a five-year-old. - Akiva
Meanwhile, the fact presented by COSMOS that leaves are green simply because of what color they DON'T absorb? Get out, science. GET OUT. - Akiva
The part that really breaks my mind is how we see yellow because of our red and green photoreceptors. - Victor Ganata from iPhone
Subtractive vs additive color physics is what blows the cork right off my brain. - Micah from FFHound(roid)!
Blue and red making purple? Oh sure, makes sense. Red and yellow produce orange? Fine fine. But green is crazy to me. - Stephen Mack from iPhone
Looking at the rainbow, green and orange made sense to me but purple did not. - Amit Patel
It's like a shady yellow. - Meg VMeg
CMYK vs RGB still confuses me. Like, you mix all the colors you get black vs you mix all the colors you get white. My mind confuses the two... - Zulema ❧ spicy cocoa tart from Android
Was about to post what Zulema just said. That's the one that's *really* crazy. - Spidra Webster
Was about to post what... wait, I already did. - Micah
Out of curiosity, what about the combination of blue and yellow creating green seems like magic? Zulema: what's even crazier, to me at least, is that 0% C 0% M 0% Y 100% K isn't the blackest CMYK gets. There's a blacker black, a rich black, that's 75% C 68% M 67% Y and 90% K. - Mark Trapp
You know what's really crazy? There are yellow stars, there are blue stars, there are red and white and orange stars, but there aren't any green stars. WTF?!?! - Victor Ganata
Hey, that makes sense to me. All those colors appear in flame according to heat. Green doesn't appear unless you toss in an element with the right emission spectrum. - Spidra Webster
BLELLOW! - Eivind
Mixing paints is technically CMYK but it "feels" like RGB. Computer screens and the world we see is RGB (light) but mixing paints and printing stuff is CMYK but it has to emulate RGB. I think I got that right... :-& - Zulema ❧ spicy cocoa tart from Android
CMYK is subtractive (adding pigments changes which wavelengths get absorbed or reflected) while RGB is additive (you're directly changing which wavelengths get transmitted). But, yeah, ultimately, we have RGB receptors in our retinae. - Victor Ganata
Mark T.: It seems like magic to me because it seems unpredictable and illogical and emergent, much like mixing bleach and ammonia produces a deadly gas. Yeah, this is all a bit "f'in' magnets, how do they work?" - Stephen Mack
Ahhh, I see. To me, it seems logical that green is created from yellow and blue: green, to me, just looks like a yellowish blue or a bluish yellow. But maybe that's a construct of education, forced upon me by the man, man. My head hurts now. - Mark Trapp
I'm even more confused now because I know you have to convert images to CMYK when you print them. I completely forgot to ask my photography teacher about that when we printing our "RGB" photos in class from Lightroom. The last job I had there it was always a big deal when printing designs from the printer to the ink used to the paper you were printing on and which colors will print more accurately. Like JEEZ, it's just a print of a design but OH NO, dumb girl, it's kind of a big deal. - Zulema ❧ spicy cocoa tart
And that, not only can you use the colours to find what elements teh stars are made of, but you can use the colours to determine how fast they are moving away from you via red shifting! #mindblown - Ken Morley
Fun fact: you can get the colors in CMY from RGB and you can get the colors in RGB from CMY... - Zulema ❧ spicy cocoa tart
Victor Ganata
Long overdue: Malibu elitists who impede public access now face fines - L.A. Times
Scott Beale
A Man Pushing a Brussels Sprout Up a Mountain With His Nose for Charity -
Mona Nomura
Holy shit. I'm going to Africa. WHAT.
Mark H
"To survive, Life in our Local Group needs to emigrate to the Virgo Super-Cluster. Although our Milky Way is heading towards Virgo at ~200 km/s, cosmic acceleration, from Dark Energy, is presently pushing us away from Virgo at ~1,000 km/s. Thus we need to launch towards Virgo faster than the Dark Energy pushing us away. Yet the reward is 10 trillion trillion years of Habitable planetary environments, which may well be worth intergalactic migration." - Mark H from Bookmarklet
"In theory a tight white-dwarf/planet pair can be flung out of the Galactic Core at ~0.05c, which would mean a 2 billion year journey across every 100 million light-years. A white-dwarf habitable zone is good for 8 billion years or so, enough to cross ~400 million light-years. It’d be a ‘starship’ in truth on the Grandest Scale. Perhaps other Intelligences have begun their preparations... more... - Mark H
The view during the trip would be amazing. - Joe
Looked up this Spivey author. While what he writes may be true, his academic credentials are less than stellar. - Joe
He is an Electronics Design Engineer at Bangor. No PhD from what I see, but I could be wrong about that. Dabbles in intergalactic space travel theory after work? - Joe
TheNextWeb Forum
Data roaming charges in Europe to fall by over 50% as Commission drives towards eliminating all fees -
Data roaming charges in Europe to fall by over 50% as Commission drives towards eliminating all fees
Jenny H.
I have read every novel, novella, and short story Stephen King has written up til 2000 and a handful since then. #SaturdayFF These are some of my favorites:
Shiningnovel (1).jpg
bachman books.jpg
I like all of those, too. For a while I had read everything and then I stopped for some reason. Mr. Mercedes is the first I've read (aside from some anthologized short stories) in quite some time. I don't know if I'll go back and read all that I've missed, but I might have to revisit some of those short story collections. - Katy S
I read Joyland recently and quite liked it. I've probably read 10-20% of his output but even that seems like a lot. - John Dupuis
I was a little obsessed between ages 11 and 17. - Katy S
Me too, Katy. Mostly, it was what I had available to read at my house. ;) Most of his early work, I read by the time I was 15. - Jenny H. from Android
Crazier than a shithouse rat. *giggles* - Jenny H. from Android
My mom checked them out for me at the library before I turned 12 (at that time, kids under 12 couldn't check out books in the adult department). Then I started blowing my allowance on his books. :) - Katy S
I just borrowed my mom's beat up paperbacks. :) - Jenny H. from Android
I was the only one who read horror in our family. Thankfully, my parents weren't into censoring what I read and were more than happy to provide access to it. - Katy S
That's good. My mom didn't seem to care what I was reading, as long as I was quiet while she was reading. :) - Jenny H. from Android
Their general philosophy regarding censoring kids' reading is that if you keep your kids from reading something, they'll seek it out and hide it and, when they have questions about it, they won't talk to you. - Katy S
That's pretty wise! - Jenny H. from Android
I've read 64 out 72 of King's books, according to this quiz thingy: - Starmama from FFHound(roid)!
I think the last King book I completed was Needful Things. I tried both Gerald's Game and Insomnia but didn't finish either. Haven't read him since. - Akiva
Starmama, that's a lot! Akiva, Gerald's Game was beyond awful. I liked Insomnia because my mom had the same form (early waking), so I found it interesting. He's written some crap, for sure, but I've enjoyed 70-75% of what I've read. - Jenny H. from Android
I liked the idea behind Insomnia but it seriously needed editing. I swear there were 100 pages of the main character just sitting on his porch or looking in his closet. It just droned on and on. - Akiva
Well I've had plenty of time...I first read Carrie in 1979, have been hooked on his writing ever since :-) - Starmama from FFHound(roid)!
34 for me (although there were a couple I couldn't remember one way or the other so I didn't count them). It looks like I pretty much stopped with the novels after Gerald's Game, too, but I kept reading his short story collections and nonfiction. - Katy S from iPhone
I should at least read On Writing. I've heard good things about it but I have just so little respect for him as a writer. He's a great storyteller but he's not even close to the level of writers I really adore like DFW, Pynchon, Calvino, Wolfe, Barthelme, Davidson, Ligotti, etc. He's like Zelazny: he just churns out book after book and they're almost all good but they're like cars coming off an assembly line. - Akiva
Akiva - I really think that his short stories and novellas are his best work. To me, anyway, his writing feels more focused when he's restrained by length. - Katy S
On Writing is quite good. I read Carrie as a HS freshman - don't think I read much of King's fiction after that except the occasional short story. - Corinne L
But, I don't read his work because I think it will be of the highest literary quality. :) Having said that, comparing his work to some Amish-Christian fiction I tried out recently (I was trying to read outside of my comfort zone), his writing looks like the work of a genius. I can't even begin to tell you how bad those books were. - Katy S
Katy, totally. The Long Walk is probably the best thing he's ever written outside of The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet. Rage, too, is another favorite of mine although that's quite controversial now. And I know I'm being a pompous smug wad but, as a writer, I'm just extra critical; it's tough for me to just let go and be a reader. - Akiva
I can be pretty critical, too. I've had to learn to tone that down a bit in public when doing readers' advisory - I can't push my preferences over what people actually want and be effective. I do like the Richard Bachman novellas. The Long Walk is thoroughly engaging. - Katy S
I agree that he excels at novellas and short stories. The Long Walk is one that has haunted me since childhood. So good. Rage was excellent, but definitely dark. - Jenny H. from Android
Andrew C (✔)
RT @dominicwilcox: My Summer Solstice Jaffa Cake Stone Henge. (I believe I created reality in the reflection)
RT @dominicwilcox: My Summer Solstice Jaffa Cake Stone Henge. (I believe I created reality in the reflection)
Soon to be commandeered by mini-druids. - Spidra Webster
Official Dessert of Spinal Tap. - Betsy
Amit Patel
First Ever Star Trek®/Doctor Who Comic Book Crossover Coming in May -
First Ever Star Trek®/Doctor Who Comic Book Crossover Coming in May
"Star Trek: The Next Generation® crew and the Doctor face off 
against the Borg and the Cybermen" - Amit Patel from Bookmarklet
WHAT - Amit Patel
Wait, that's 2012. - Betsy
Reviews are not entirely favorable on Amazon: - Neal Krummell
holly #ravingfangirl
nothing will make you swear faster/more than trying to sync an iphone with itunes. not even downloading library ebooks :P
Nothing will make you swear faster/more than trying to do *anything* with itunes ;) - Amit Patel
RT @lorigama: Latina women-owned businesses are up +206% from 1997 to 2014." - @womenable
RT @lorigama: Latina women-owned businesses are up +206% from 1997 to 2014." - @womenable
Sean McBride
Half of Germany Now Powered by Solar
Half of Germany Now Powered by Solar
I'm pretty sure distributed solar (residential and commercial) is going to be the way to go, long term. - Brian Johns
I'm not 100% sure about germany, but in italy - where we are in a similar situation - it's all because of heavy government subsidies. It has been a crazy growth of highly inneficient panels installed just to take the subsidies, it costed more than what it will ever produce. The (only?) positive point is that it changed the attitude of people towards this technology. It's something you want on your condo, maybe the second or third generation will be also efficient. - d☭snake
Misleading title - Germany _produces_ half of energy from solar, but what amount they buy from e.g. France (nuclear)? According to, Germany imports as much as 63% of it's energy. So even at current peak, solar accounts for roughly 20% of consumption, and averaged annualy will be closer to 10%. - anatoliy
Here's what seems to be the source: - anatoliy
"Continuing its unrelenting march toward a renewable-powered future, Germany now can produce more than half of its energy from solar. The official word of this milestone comes from the Fraunhofer ISE research institute, which showed that the country produced a record 24.24 GW of solar energy during the first week of June. Thanks to better weather in Germany compared to last year, the production of solar power has increased 34 percent in the first part of 2014." - Sean McBride
"Germany's expansion of solar energy hasn't come from enormous farms of solar panels, but rather citizens installing photovoltaics onto their own homes. More than 90 percent of solar panels installed in Germany are on homeowner’s roofs." - Sean McBride
"Wondering how the U.S. compares? We currently get 0.2 percent of our energy from solar. Italy is in second place behind the Germans." - Sean McBride
anatoly -- an important point, to say the least. - Sean McBride
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 (✔)
Look, there is no "Simpsons-ese" where people *only* communicate in Simpsons references, and believe me, I've tried. - 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
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 (✔)
Sean McBride
Smartphones Are Evolving Into More Perfect Spying Devices -
"Amazon announced this week that it’s launching its very own smartphone called Fire. It will have six cameras. Six. That’s to make it easier to do a 3D-scan of the world around you and buy the things you see. It out-innovates Apple’s incredible decision to put two cameras on a phone to make selfies more effortless. But if you decide to set your phone to Fire, now you’re carrying around a device that has six (!) cameras — five on the front and one on the back. The phone will also have a built in feature, Firefly, that listens (at your behest, I hope) to what’s going on around the phone to identify the music and TV that’s on — as popularized by Shazam and made infamous by Facebook. That’s at the same time as the world is freaking out about how much information is being collected about us and how it might be used. And so the fierce competition is waged between our desire to more easily connect, communicate and capture the world around us, and our desire not to have a little smartphone camera watching us at night from our bedside table." - Sean McBride from Bookmarklet
"Our phones are potentially powerful spies, empowered with microphones, cameras, location tracking, motion sensors, and soon, even heart monitors. And we’re completely addicted to them, carrying them everywhere with us, to sensitive work meetings, on dates, during bathroom visits, and into our bedrooms. They are almost always on us. And if they are turned against us, with a hacker’s... more... - Sean McBride
David Lounsbury
How Solar Will Destroy The Power Companies, In 5 Easy Steps -
How Solar Will Destroy The Power Companies, In 5 Easy Steps: Barclays recently downgraded the entire U.S. electric utilities sector to “underweight” on the threat posed by widespread adoption of solar-storage. via Pocket - David Lounsbury
Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth – more than ruin, more even than death. - B.R. We Fear Thought
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