g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
Tal G in Jerusalem
Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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Sunday, July 23, 2006
22:00 - I am Jack's Tourette's Syndrome

(top)
Indelicate language ahead.

They're playing Fight Club on Spike TV right now, and they are having one hell of a schizophrenic time deciding on what words to bleep.

"Shit" — no.
"Fuck" — yes.
"Dildo" — no.
"Cock" — yes.

I would love to have been in on the meeting where they settled on this list.


21:18 - It's hot

(top)
9:00 in the evening, and it's 95° outside. And yet I've got my window flung wide open, because even with the air conditioner chugging away downstairs, it's still cooler outside than in my upstairs room. At least it's not humid.

I picked up a chip in my (brand-new car's) windshield on I-80 returning from Tahoe yesterday, and when we parked it for lunch the heat inside the car built up to the point where its pressure against the glass from the inside made the crack suddenly lengthen to about a foot. Bigger than a dollar bill? Yes... yes it is.

Yet coming up I-280 yesterday evening, I observed the car's thermometer register 113 at the 92 intersection, and then drop to 81 in the five miles from there to about halfway across the little ligature of I-380 that connects it to the airport. And then it rose to 89 between there and the El Torito three miles south on 101. Microclimates! Wheee!

Pulling into the Safeway parking lot this evening, I saw two or three of the aproned employees dashing across the lot, weaving between cars, zooming at full tilt from right to left across my field of vision. Their expressions were of a wide-eyed, open-mouthed excited involvement that I'm most familiar with in athletes mid-game, so at first I thought they must be horsing around in some kind of team-building exercise; but after a moment I realized that if people are running around on blacktop in this kind of heat, it's not for fun. Turns out someone had just brazenly stolen a cold six-pack out of someone's shopping cart who was coming out the front doors, and took off, evading his pursuers among the lines of parked cars, disappearing across the street.

This is some heat wave. And here I thought global warming was supposed to result in tiny fractional increases in temperature over the course of an entire statistical year...

Saturday, July 22, 2006
00:20 - ME2Pod 2006 Personal Edition
http://www.scrappleface.com/?p=2294

(top)
Scrappleface has the scoop on Microsoft's new iPod killer.

Which, presumably, will be marketed thus.

Via JMH.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006
17:49 - Repartée
http://www.deanesmay.com/posts/1153098556.shtml

(top)
Dean Esmay started an interesting discussion the other day on the kooky nature of English spelling. As I noted in the comments:

To the best of my knowledge, English is the only language that is so free and easy with using diphthongs as standard vowel sounds.

The way we pronounce the letter "A"—a "long A" sound, like in "same"—is what in every other language would be transcribed as "ei". Which makes perfect sense if you think of the five standard vowel sounds as used in just about every other language: "ah", "eh", "ee" oh", "oo".

The same goes for our "long I" sound—what every other language would write as "ai". And the name of the letter "U" ought to be spelled "iu" or "yu". It's likewise ridiculous that our name for "E" is "ee", which every other language would write as "i".

And then we do wonky things with consonants too—"j" is what ought properly to be transliterated "dzh". Why does that get a single letter? It's about as strange as Cyrillic, with a single letter for the "shch" sound in "fresh cheese" (or "Khrushchev").

About the only other language I know of that even aspires to English's funkiness in orthography is Dutch, with its graphemes like "ij" (which is pronounced like our "long I" sound). Small wonder that Dutch and English are cousins long sundered...

The really perverse thing is, once you get to know it really well, English's quirks are what make one love it so.

Now, later commenters weighed in with thoughts like these:

English has developed a habit of following other languages into dark alleys, mugging them, and then rifling their pockets for nouns, verbs, and adjectives.

And then lets them use "OK" in restitution.

Yes, well. Here's the thing about English: when English absorbs words from other languages, it bends its own rules to adhere to the spelling and pronunciation of the words in their source languages. We (or at least the Americans) pronounce "jalapeño" with a rough "h" at the beginning, and spell it with the "ñ" character. From French we took not only the majority of the verbatim dictionary in 1066, in more recent times we've adapted such words as ballet and fête and résumé and retained the French pronunciations and vowel diacritic marks, even when things like circumflexes and cedillas and grave accents don't officially exist in English. We'd rather agglomerate foreign pronunciations and spellings into our own rules than batter the words around until they work in our own orthography.

For contrast, consider what the Institute de la Langue Française (a body that doesn't have any analog in English, naturallement) did when confronted with the vulgar anglicisme "CD-ROM": they decreed that it be spelled cederóm.

And let's not even get into what Japanese does when absorbing English words, an act that has become a national pastime over the last fifty years. In order to approximate English pronunciations within native orthography, you get words like "lemon" turning into remon, "beefsteak" into bifuteku, and "productivity" into purodakuchibichi. And explain, if you can, this. Who's doing the mugging and mangling now?

If you ask me, English's treatment of foreign vocabulary is pretty darn "enlightened" and "international", not to say unnaturally tolerant and open-minded; and advocates of other languages ought to be reassured by it, not revolted.

I wonder if that has contributed to the role English plays, for all its quirks, as the modern lingua franca.


17:19 - Coming soon to a desktop near me
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1989018,00.asp

(top)
Sounds to me like the Core Duo 2-based Macs, when they arrive, will be as big a leap over the Intel Core ones as the Intel Core ones were over the G5.

65 watts? And performance that makes all the AMD chips keel over with the dry heaves? I'll sign up for a little of that. I doubt this means Core Duo 2s will be showing up in MacBook Pros anytime soon, but even underclocked they ought to mop the floor with the current generation. Intel Core, we hardly knew ye...

I have to wonder whether we ought not to expect to see Conroe-based Mac Pros within the next few weeks (or at the WWDC Leopard premiere)... though I'm sure I'm not the only person to whom this has occurred. I also wonder, though, whether this is what Steve really had in mind when plotting the Intel switch: Intel Core by itself was nice, but the switch only really made sense with another great leap forward in the offing, just a few months later.

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