What’s wrong with English? So many of the words for things in a baby’s environment start with B so when she says “buh,” — or, as our grandchild prefers, “bep” — you don’t know if she is talking about a banana, bunny, boat, bread, bath, bubble, ball, bum, burp, bird, belly, or bathysphere.
This is not how you design a language for easy learning. You don’t hear soldiers speaking into their walkie talkies about being at position “Buh buh buh buh.” No, they say something like, “Bravo Victor Mike November.” Those words were picked precisely because they are so hard to mistake for one another. Now that’s how you design a language! (It’s also possible that research at Harvard during WWII that led to the development of the NATO phonetic alphabet influenced the development of Information Theory what with that theory’s differentiating of signal from noise.)
This problem in English probably helps explain why we spend so much time teaching our children how to say animal sounds: animals have the common sense not to sound like one another. That may also be why some of the sounds we teach our children have little to do with the noises animals actually make: Dogs don’t actually say “Woof,” but that sound is hard to confused with the threadbare imitation we can manage of the sound a tiger makes.
Being a baby is tough. You’ve got little flabby fingers that can’t do anything you want except hold onto a measly Cheerio and even then they can’t tell the difference between your mouth and your nose. Plus you can’t get anywhere except by hitching a ride with an adult whose path is as senseless as a three-legged drunk’s. Then when you want nothing more than a bite of buttery brie, the stupid freaking adult brings you a big blue blanket and then gets annoyed when you kick it off.
The least we could do for our babies is give them some words that don’t sound like every other word they care about.
Here’s some info about the 2,200 TED Talks based largely on the tags that TED supplies on its Web site; the data are a few months old. Keep in mind that I am grossly incompetent at this, so I’ve included the SQL queries I used to derive this information so you can see how wrong I’ve gone and can laugh and laugh.
Number of unique tags
378 of ’em
SELECT count( DISTINCT(tag) ) FROM tags
Most popular tags
# of talks tagged
FROM tags GROUP BY tag ORDER BY count(tag) desc;
Tags used only once or twice
SELECT COUNT( tag ) , tag
GROUP BY tag
ORDER BY COUNT( tag ) ASC
Most viewed talks
Quite possibly wrong.
A new kind of job market
How to grow a tiny forest anywhere
I believe we evolved from aquatic apes
Is anatomy destiny?
Get your next eye exam on a smartphone
How Mr. Condom made Thailand a better place for li…
Anatomy of a New Yorker cartoon
How butterflies self-medicate
A powerful poem about what it feels like to be tra…
A Magna Carta for the web
Seas of plastic
How synchronized hammer strikes could generate nu…
The lost art of democratic debate
My wish: Protect our oceans
Be passionate. Be courageous. Be your best.
The sound the universe makes
Creative houses from reclaimed stuff
Our century’s greatest injustice
How to read the genome and build a human being
Watson, Jeopardy and me, the obsolete know-it-all
The birth of Wikipedia
Institutions vs. collaboration
Are we ready for neo-evolution?
How art, technology and design inform creative lea…
The shrimp with a kick!
How we cut youth violence in Boston by 79 percent
Design for people, not awards
Let’s bridge the digital divide!
A mouse. A laser beam. A manipulated memory.
Augmented reality, techno-magic
select times_seen,title from talks
order by times_seen desc;
Tags of the most popular talks
There’s a very good chance I got the sql wrong on this.
Total times viewed
TED Brain Trust
SELECT DISTINCT tags.tag , sum(talks.times_seen) FROM tags
INNER JOIN talks ON tags.talkid = talks.talkid
GROUP BY tags.tag
ORDER BY SUM( talks.times_seen ) DESC
Hillary Clinton: Thank you. Thank you all so much. It’s wonderful to be here. And before I speak, I want to let you know that this is a very special day. Before I talk, I’m going to bring out a guest you’re not expecting, who will make history. And how you greet him will help shape that history So, I ask you to greet this guest with open hearts and open minds, and embrace him for the courage and true patriotism he’s going to show you this morning. Ladies and gentlemen, please warmly welcome … Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Paul Ryan.
Paul Ryan enters to shocked applause. Shakes Clinton’s hand and goes to lectern
Paul Ryan: I bet you did not see that coming. Tell you the truth, neither did I.
(Prepare for the most first worldly of all problems.)
The New York Times Puns and Anagrams puzzles are a national embarrassment. Pardon my bluntness, but I’m a truth teller.
The clues in the British version provide a definition and a clever, hidden way of constructing the word. The NYT version sometimes does but sometimes just has the cleverness.
For example, in yesterday’s NYT Puns and Anagrams puzzle [SPOILERS AHEAD], the clue for 48 Down is “Fill time on stage again.” The answer is “revamp” because to fill time on stage is to vamp, and to do it again is to add “re” to it. But there’s no definition of “revamp” in the clue. In the British style, it might have been “Do over once again to fill time on stage.”
Another example: 57A “Fire starter” is “bon.” For the Brits it could have been something like “Good French fire starter.”
Adding the definition usually makes the clues harder, and thus more satisfying to solve. Sure, the definition is in them, which should make them easier, but that information becomes noise because with a good clue, you can’t tell which is the definition and which is the hint. When you can tell — e.g., when words in the clue seem oddly chosen, they may be there as an anagram — the clue gets easier, but that’s just fun getting even a little more meta.
And while I have your attention, let’s work to slow global climate change. Or, as the Brits might put it, “Climate activist may ogle sun god.” Answer: ogle + ra = Al Gore. See, wasn’t that fun? No. Ok, good point.
1. Granted, this is just an instant poll with a margin of error of 99 on a scale of 1 to Wishful Thinking , but I’ll take it:
A CNN quick poll found 71 percent of those who watched [Hillary’s] speech had an extremely favorable view of her. Last week, CNN’s poll found 57 percent of those who watched Trump’s speech had an extremely favorable view of him.
2. On Night #2, the Dems had 25M viewers while on the comparable night the Reps had 19M. I was surprised by this, given that Trump is an eye-magnet train wreck.
4. This may be a teensy bit subjective, but this was by far the best convention in my lifetime. It’s changed what it means to be a Democrat, and retrieved what it means to be American.
If all you knew of America was what you saw during these four days, you would think it is a place that not just celebrates but proudly draws upon its deep diversity. And you would be forgiven if you concluded that its surest moral compass is held by people — and especially women — of color.
5. It’s not just that we had four days of astounding talks. Taken together, those days were a work of art in their balance and contrasts, their crescendos and their moments of silence. Remarkable, and remarkably moving.
So, now we can all lean back and let this thing just happen by itself get to work!
The essays take a fruitful approach. In each of the chapters, someone in the field recounts how s/he first encountered a figure who became important to her/him and why that person mattered. That entails explaining the figure’s ideas and place in the history of media studies — although almost none of the figures would have characterized their work as being within that relatively newly-minted field.
I write about how Heidegger’s ideas about language pulled me out of an adolescent “identity crisis” [draft]. Lance Strate explains his struggle to understand McLuhan (I feel his pain!) and how the struggle paid off for him. Cynthia Lewis connects her interest in Mikhail Bakhtin to her precocious recognition that “the presence of other interpreters always already exists” in the words one hears and uses. Michael Robbgrieco explains how Foucault became a crucial thinker for him about media and education, even though Foucault doesn’t talk about the former and views the latter primarily as a system of oppression, which was far from Michael’s experience as a teacher. Henry Jenkins talks about how Raymond Williams’ work spoke to him as a son of a construction company owner in Georgia, and how that led Jenkins to John Fiske who had been tutored by Williams.
These are just a few of the seventeen essays.
The personal approach enables the authors to walks us through their intellectual grandparents’ ideas the way they first did — and the paths these authors took clearly worked for them. It simultaneously makes clear why those grandparents, with their often quite difficult ideas, mattered so personally to the authors. Overall it works splendidly. All credit to Renee.
Errata: For the imaginary record, I want to note that an error was introduced into my chapter on Heidegger. Somehow John William Miller’s ‘ “mid world” mutated into “mind world” and I did not catch it in the copy-edit phase. Also “a preacher of narcissism” became “a preacher or narcissist.” I should have caught these attempts to make my text better. Ack.
On Reddit, user Amaranthine cites a tweet from Soniasaraiya that points to a signal that one of Melania’s speechwriters may be a mole working against the Trump campaign: Was Melania rickrolled?
Rickrolling is a prank in which misleading text links to a video of Rick Astley singing his 1987 hit “Never Gonna Give You Up.” For example, if I wrote “Here’s an incredible secret video of Hillary whispering to Bill that she lied about Benghazi,” and you click on the link, you’ve been rickrolled.” The video has been viewed over 224 million times, but no one knows how many times on purpose. (Interestingly, Rick Astley seems to have plagiarized the song from this awkward amateur version.)
This not such a unique, unexpected turn of phrase that it could only have been plagiarized. On the other hand: 224,238,266 views! This is the opposite of obscure.
So, if you were the speechwriter who not only put plagiarized text into Melania Trump’s introduce-yourself-to-America speech, but you took that text from Michelle Obama’s introduce-yourself-to-America speech eight years earlier, you might well want to flag that Melania’s speech rickrolled us and her: Melania’s words, uttered sincerely, turn out to “link” to an annoyingly lightweight pop song.
Just for fun, here’s an autotuned version of Melania singing her lyrics, created by redditor cbuntz: