Monday, August 22, 2016
Today is something that I almost never do. I am actually going to write about my life, like a real blog.
I woke up this morning at my regular hour, and did everything much the same as I have normally done so for the past few months. Made coffee, took a shower, got dressed, put my brace on, drank coffee, ate some food, browsed the internet a tad, thought about the day, and so on. The only thing noticeably different about the beginning of today was what constituted the thoughts I was having about the rest of the day. Today was the first day of classes at my new school: North Hennepin Community College, and of course, that was something that was on my mind. Today I was going to be away from home for almost the entire day at a place of learning, for the first time ever. Last springt I took a math course here to get ready for this fall that took place on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but that wasn't at all the same, because that was just one class, in one part of the college.
Today I got here at 8:45 AM, and got some books. Man, there were a lot of people in the book store this morning. Then I went and waited for close to an hour outside a classroom in a hallway. I went into a class for fifty minutes, then was released to go study. I read two chapters of a textbook and ate lunch, and now I'm writing a blog post, waiting for my MATH 1180, the much awaited, much anticipated MATH 1180 to start: College Algebra with Precalculus. Even though this is the one class I've been looking forward to most, it's also the one that I'm most uncertain about, which would seem to be a contradiction, since normally something you're unsure of gives you anxiety, but that is how it stands. It starts at two, and it's one forty-five, so I should pack up and get in line for the classroom.
Today has been a pretty low key day, and based on my schedule, most other days are likely to be similar to it. We'll just have to wait and see.
I will perhaps post more later, but for now I will try to pay attention to my MATH 1180 Instructor as best I can.
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Typically they're called conlangs, but I dislike the word conlang because it sounds like a word that only the geekiest people in the world would come up with to describe a niche, and due to that fact, I tend to think that the word "conlang" is really only used to describe fantasy languages. I tend to find fantasy languages interesting, but not worth the time people put into them. I don't like them because they are more of an art than a utility, but an art that doesn't entertain in the same way that paintings, musical works, and writing do.
There are several conlangs out there, probably the most notable being Tolkienian Elvish, which is by far the oldest, but perhaps not the best documented. John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was an interesting fellow. A deep thinker, and perhaps a man before his time, or maybe even, the man that began his time. Tolkien took the word fantasy to a whole new level, writing extensively about his one true masterpiece: The world called Middle Earth. Why is he ahead of his time? Well, before he wrote the Hobbit, and got the entire Middle Earth thing rolling, he began working on Quenya, the original Elvish dialect, when he was nineteen years old and still studying in college. Later, he wrote books that included Elvish in them, the first, of course being the hobbit, and later, he wrote the Lord of the Rings, and even an entire history of Middle Earth that was published posthumously.
Some say that he wrote about middle Earth to justify his hobby of constructing languages. That's probably true, since a language like that serves almost no purpose anywhere besides being an idle hobby like video games. I say that Elvish is a waste of time because it was designed to mimic natural evolved languages, like English, Welsh, and Finnish. Not vocabulary wise, but grammar wise. English is notorious for its poorly defined rules and exceptions, like the example of "know," and "knew." Based on that, we might think that stow would turn into stew, but we know that stew is something else. To make things more confusing, there is slay and slew, which has a different root and meaning entirely. No where else in the language do we have an exception like this. Normally in English we would end it with -ed, like knowed, or something. This is simply referred to as an exception, and nothing more. Linguists and philologists try to explain these, but there are a number of reasons why it could have happened. I'm not going to go into the details here.
I don't think he ever expected, or wanted Elvish to become a widely spoken language, because it had these exceptions and mimicry of natural languages. If you wanted to learn a language that had them, just learn German, or Italian. They all do, at weird little spots. They're called nuances, and while they do add zest and panache to a language, they also make learners of it grumble. I don't think anyone ever said, "English is so easy!" Not even native speakers. It makes sense to introduce these into a constructed language for only one reason: to mimic natural languages for the purpose of making your reader (or consumer) believe that this world could be real, and that is a valid reason. Then, it becomes a section of the art you painted in the story, and really, a very cool one as well.
But then we come to what I would dare to call real constructed languages. I am of course, talking about languages that were designed to be spoken by all people as either an auxiliary language (a language designed to be a lingua franca between many people groups that doesn't favor any particular language over another), or a hobby, but still possibly accepted as a viable option for being an auxiliary language.
By far the most popular of these constructed languages is Esperanto. I am learning Esperanto. This language was designed to be easy. Let me tell you, this language is easy. People say that Spanish is easy, but not really. Any time a language has a grammar that isn't really intuitive, but just because that's what it's like, and it differs from your native language, a language is not easy. Perhaps Spanish is easier than other languages, but it is still difficult because it is different. I've read that one person said that it was the most difficult language they ever learned, simply because it was the first. English is really a weird language compared to other European languages. One of the biggest differences when I tried to learn German was gender cases on nouns. These didn't really have any rules at all, and at times they were counterintuitive. Of course I can understand Der Mann, the masculine article Der used to state that there is a single man, and Die Frau, the feminine article used for a woman, and even Der Junge, for a boy, but then Das Mädchen, which uses gender neutral to talk about a girl. The gender articles for nouns has never made much sense to have. I'm glad English doesn't have them.
Why English doesn't have these is probably because England is far enough removed from the rest of Europe for it to develop independently, and (thankfully) get rid of gender specific articles. What English lost in that area it made up in the number of exceptions it employs, and the confusing number of prefixes, like in-, im-, dis-, de-, un-, all to say, reverse what this adjective or verb would normally be. Nuances. Being a native speaker, I am really, really glad that I don't have to learn all of these coming from another language.
But back to Esperanto. Esperanto is popular because it is super easy to learn, and not just for English speakers. The grammar of Esperanto is pretty straightforward. You put what you're talking about first, and what they do second, then what they do it to third, and put any descriptive words before the thing or action that they're describing. This is of course over simplifying it a bit, but if I were strip it down to the basic grammar, that's what it would be, generally. English is like that a lot. It's the weird exceptions elsewhere that people complain about.
This is everything a constructed language is supposed to be. Easy and effective. For speakers of western languages, Esperanto makes so much sense, because all the vocabulary is based off of the vocabularies of other European languages, including English. But the biggest point is easy to understand grammar, and Esperanto does that very well.
We come finally to my own project. Esperanto is great, but I really wanted to come up with my own language. It, like conlangs, really is for my story, but it fulfills a definite purpose, to be something that people can use to define their individuality in the international stage. More on that later. I am basing the vocabulary as much as possible on English, to make it as easy as possible for English speakers to learn. This is for two reasons. A) I speak English natively, and I want my language to be as easy to learn for me and my friends as possible. B) In the story, it's designed as a replacement for English, not because English needed to be replaced, but because of what I said before.
Quick note about language and politics:
There is nothing that will divide a people more than two things: Language and Religion. Language will even divide people within the same religion. Even if our views are completely different, being able to understand each others views is more important than ignoring them because of a language barrier. This was actually the very reason why Esperanto was constructed: to unify all people in Europe under one language. By the time Esperanto was beginning to be a thing, English was already that. Too bad.
Quick note on the politics behind fâl-qérn:
Fâl-qérn is the constructed language that is spoken in the NAR, the country where most of my stories are set. The newly formed government had several things to worry about. One was the fact that many people still considered themselves "Americans" and that was a problem, because there was ambiguity about their allegiance. The solution was to adopt a constructed language designed for the people of this new country. It was designed to be super easy to learn, the hardest part being the writing system they were trying to push, but after the first year, they had created a language that was similar to English, but easier to pronounce, and resembled Esperanto in grammar. They required that it be taught in public schools exclusively the moment the existing teachers showed fluency. This lead to some side effects, and it worked a little too well. Fâl-qérn is simply an easier language to master, because of its similarity to Esperanto, and its syllable set. (720 syllables to learn to pronounce correctly against 15,831 in English, with still room for dialectal differences.)
Fâl-qérn is a project that has real world application, but isn't really designed to be anything but a pastime for myself and the language in one of my stories. This sounds a lot like Elvish, but I make a distinction here because it really is a language that could replace English, like Esperanto could be a language that replaces English as the lingua franca in Europe and the US and Canada, and any other places that speak western languages.
There are dozens of constructed languages out there, but it is important to note that none of them are exactly the same. Each one has its own set of rules. Some of them are super easy, like Interlingua, and Esperanto, and hopefully eventually fâl-qérn. If you want to learn one, it's easy to find a way. I'm using Duolingo to learn Esperanto. I'm not exactly certain how to write a conclusion for this post, maybe just an opinion paragraph.
I think constructed languages are the epitome of human thought, just like advanced language is the epitome of being human. There couldn't be anything more pragmatically human than trying to construct for yourself a mode of what makes us human. I am not suggesting that you go out and learn a constructed language, but I love the adventure, and the satisfaction I feel when I read something that I just translated. Hours of work paying off in the form of making something that could be useful to someone, and make your story seem way more realistic.
Anyway, thank you for reading, and give me your thoughts.
I might start posting tutorials for fâl-qérn, and even try writing some posts exclusively in it. Until then, I will continue working on my language.
Monday, July 25, 2016
There is a term, OK, or Okay, that is really misunderstood. There are, apparently, some who believe that the term for casual agreement didn't come until the 1930s sometime. Some of these people live under the same roof as I do.
No. They're wrong.
The word, OK might be an abbreviation for the state of Oklahoma, but the word, Okay, cannot be anything but the exclamation.
Take a look at these pictures:
You can see that the dedicated word was used in 1814, and that the initialized version was used before the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Clearly, someone is very wrong, and GoogleBooks says that the people who say it didn't come about until the 1930s are wrong. If you look in the Oxford American English Dictionary, you can see as well that they say the origin was long before what others claim:
So next time you see the word "Okay," or "OK," don't think you're smart in pointing out that it wasn't coined until the early-mid twentieth century.
Until next time, my friends.
Friday, July 15, 2016
They are only a compiler, a neutral party, and sometimes I have to remind myself that. What is annoying is when I see critics who don't agree with me for the wrong reasons. How can I say that a critic would write a review for the wrong reasons? Well, oftentimes what I do to analyze a situation, or circumstance, or any phenomenon is I'll write a list.
Here's a list of things that critics do:
1) They write an opinion piece to help people not waste their money.
2) They analyze a film or story based on its plot and tell you if it's even a good story.
3) They try to help people look at a film through different eyes with a broader perspective.
4) They pick and choose any of the above things to make it harder or easier to write the kind of review that they want to give the film, based on their preconceptions.
I am serious about 4). If you look at several reviews written by the same critic you can quickly see what I mean, and this isn't fair. If they don't like the film, they'll outright say it, using number one. If they like the film, they might try to give real reasons that are based on facts, using number two. If they're neutral, they'll probably try to look at it from the perspective of someone who they know would like the genre.
This is not a universal trait in critics, but it is, all the same, annoying when I find it. The other thing that critics should take into account, but seldom do, is take into account what the filmmakers had to make the film with, and this is usually based on the budget. For instance, it's annoying when a low budget animated film gets a rotten review because the animation is bad, like in Hoodwinked. Hoodwinked is a full length animated feature that (Quite admirably) used just over 5% of the budget that big budget animated films get, which they were judging it against. That is simply an unfair comparison. Duh! The animation isn't going to be as good, because they can't hire the regular 200+ animators that a big budget film (Usually a $130-200 million budget) normally have to do the animation. With $8 million, (Hoodwinked's budget) the majority of it is going to go to the cast, over animation.
Actually, in the end, Hoodwinked's poor animation quality gave it a charm that big budget films don't have because of their clean and polished nature (My opinion). Regardless of how well the filmmakers did with such a small budget, it was criticized by many because of its animation.
Another case of something similar happening, but with a different skin is a critic faking the demographic. This also happens a lot in children's films. Critics tend to think it's okay, and professional to write a review based on their perception of what they think a child likes (or should like) oftentimes very erroneously. It is as if they don't like children's films, and because of that, they have to use a disproportionate mixture of 1 and 3, which don't mix very well. Usually these reviews don't affect the overall consensus, but that doesn't change that it does happen and they usually are saying things like, some of the content would be too hard for children to appreciate, or some of the emotions are too complicated for children to understand. I hope you see the silliness of this.
Really, a reviewer should combine all three and write a review like this: 10% of 1), 85% of 2), and 5% of 3). Some critics write a review outside of their genre like this: 20% of 1), 10% of 2), and 70% of 3).
Sometimes there are review websites that are making reviews for a particular demographic, like pluggedin.com, where christians write reviews to help other christians know what is safe for their kids (and themselves) to watch. I really don't have a problem with this, even though it looks like they use a disproportionate amount of 1). Actually I have to do this.
Another thing that critics do:
5) Base their review off of a system that is generally accepted by his target audience.
In this case, what is written in the Bible. The Bible is like the lingua franca for evangelical and fundamentalist christians. If one person has judged a film against it, then anyone else who agrees with it can accept it as a non opinionated review on the part of the reviewer. I don't know if there is a website that uses other religious standards to review a film, like the Quran, Bhagavad Gita, etc. But I do know where the reviewer is coming from if his review is objectively reviewing the film not based on his opinion, but a pre-stated set of standards. No, the Bible is not a manual on how to review a film, but it does explain what is honorable and what is not, so it can be used effectively in this way.
To sum it all up, if you are a film reviewer, there are a few things you need to make sure you're not doing, which is easier than a lot of things you should be doing.
1) Do not state judgements of the film concerning possible clichés, and other story constructors as if they are universal truths that all agree with. Not everyone agrees on what is a cliché and what is not, and in any case, not all clichés are considered bad by everyone. The same is true for any other thing that you think could have done better. As a writer, I see things that could have been better, but I make sure people know that it's my opinion, and in many cases, they disagree with me.
2) Do not say anything, or give yourself a reason to say anything along these lines: "If I was a ____, I would not have been ____." You're admitting that this isn't your area of expertise, and you are using artificial authority by transferring your possible clout from where you do have expertise. Just say that you didn't like the film. You don't need to say that you wouldn't have liked the film if you were someone else. Even worse, don't say "I liked the film, but if I was a ____, I wouldn't have ____."
3) Don't judge a film based of the message unless you have a higher authority. This happens a lot when religious films are criticized for being religious. If you are a christian reviewing the film, don't pretend that an anti christian message negates the quality of the film. This is difficult, I know, to accept, but important to stick to. If you are not a Christian, don't pretend that the christian message of the film negates the quality of the film. Sometimes you might be afraid that if the film you are reviewing has a clearly defined, clearly stated message, and it goes against what you believe, you aren't allowed to say anything good about it, or the good you do mention isn't relevant because of a big conjunction. Remember that film quality might come second, but don't blur the lines between message and quality. If you disagree with what a film is saying, make sure your reader knows that, but don't write off a film because it is of bad quality absolutely because it goes against your views.
P.S. This is my opinion of what critics should and should not be doing. If you have your own opinion, leave it in the comments, or post a link to your blog if you have a lengthy rebuttal.
I'll write another post some other time about how I judge the quality of a film aside from my own worldview. This post is already too long.
And as always, thanks for reading.
Thursday, June 23, 2016
I have never seen or heard of any instance in which the mind of someone was changed through a youtube video. YouTube can be used by propagandists to bolster the views of those who have already been won, but the noncommittal nature of the site says that if someone is saying something that they disagree with, all they need to do is move the cursor to the search bar and type something that is the opposite of what they were watching to receive validation and reinforcement, especially if the reasons given in the video were a little too convincing for safety. As Jordan Taylor points out, you shouldn't never question your beliefs. They are right no matter what. Of course, knowing the nature of Blimey Cow, virtually everything they say is sarcastic, which might have gotten me in trouble on Facebook once, but essentially, there is no reason to when on a site like youtube, because you can find anything you want hear.
This is not a problem. It is perfectly fine to look for reasons to believe what you believe. The problem arises when content creators think that they can change the mind of people that already have an opinion.
I think of people like Vi Hart, who used to post videos about math. They were always fascinating and never a disappointment, until several months ago when she decided that she no longer needed to post videos about math for her subscribers, and instead would post videos centering around slightly more controversial topics. I agreed with one of them, and really it was only because I didn't know enough about it before. I would hate to be compared with the person whose opinion is won by the first person to talk to me. This isn't true. I have changed my mind on a number of things after investigating the topic further. The machine I am typing this on is an obvious example. I used to hate Mac and Apple, but now, I still don't like Apple, but I can't help but admit that Apple knew what they were doing when they designed OS X and the current MacBook Pros. Yes, people can be swayed, but there is only so much swaying that can be done in a five to twelve minute video. It is far more likely that you will change their opinion through a book, if you can convince them to read it.
How do we change people's minds, then? You'd have to ask a social engineer. I have some thoughts, but not really anything serious.
I also hate to admit this, but the only way to use YouTube to actually influence someone is through something called the bait and switch. It is a marketing strategy that many are familiar with, where you show someone the big TV and make him think he's getting the big TV, but when he get's the item shipped to his house, it comes as the little TV, that he had seen, but not considered actually buying. In some circles it's considered fraud, but on YouTube, it's something else. It's a form of deception, but on YouTube, it's not quite that, because you see everything at face value. How do we use this without making them run away like in all of the other activist videos?
Once again, Blimey Cow is a prime example of this. What they say is said in an inventive and funny way, albeit, rather sarcastic, but their strong views about the world are always present, but disguised as humor.
This is deceptive, is it not? But it isn't because they are saying all of it. Soft disclosure might be a better term, but at the same time, that's not quite what it is.
I'll just call it the Blimey Cow Effect.
Anyway, if you are a content creator on YouTube, or even better, someone who wants to be a content creator on YouTube, remember that influence is earned. If you want to influence someone, you need to first get in the door, and only after that can you make the truth known to them.
Anyway, that's all for me right now. See you later.
Thursday, June 2, 2016
Toady I realized that I am typing faster than I ever have before, and I am really surprised at how fast this occurred. I think that it has to do with a set of factors.
A) I type a lot.
B) I switched to a layout that is easier to learn than what I started out on all those years ago.
C) I learned touch typing, which I will say, makes little difference on the typical QWERTY layout, but the ASK is specifically designed for touch typing.
I am an avid organist and enjoy using my fingers for complicated maneuvers and other such work.
But about C, I have heard people say that it was designed so that commonly typed letters fell under strong fingers. This is complete and utter balderdash. The Sholes QWERTY layout was designed more than ten years before touch typing was actually recognized as the "correct" way to type. The man who developed it likely had no foresight as to how people would type without looking at the keys, and really, when you think about it, that really doesn't make much sense. Don't you want to be able to look and confirm what letters you are typing? At first this might seem time consuming, but your brain always looks for patterns (even when they're not there) and there is nothing it likes more than consistency, and there are few things more consistent than the static locations of fifty-three keys that correspond to the letters that make up the essence of humanity. With this in mind, your brain will learn to utilize the keyboard fully, with only glancing at the keys.
With that being said, if you are learning QWERTY, in the long run, for functional typing, you do not need to learn how to touch type, but if you want to win speed tests, you will need to learn it. On the other hand, after touch typing was invented and accepted as the correct way to type, many people designed layouts specifically designed to make it easier to type, and the stipulation of these alternate layouts is that it assumes that you are going to learn touch typing on it like you did for QWERTY (right?) If you don't, the advantages quickly start to disappear, and it becomes another layout in which the keys are placed in completely arbitrary locations.
Anyway, I am typing very quickly now. I might even be able to beat my mom in a speed test, which would be very cool, since it would mean that I have achieved the speed that I previously possessed using the QWERTY layout.
I will leave you with the encouragement of learning an alternate layout, especially Dvorak, since it is probably the most widely accepted alternate layout out there, and it really does make sense. I find that it really is easier to type on it than qwerty, partially from learning to touch type, but also simply because my fingers really are not required to move as much as they used to.
In any case, thank you for reading this effervescent piece on the wonders of typing, and I hope you will join me in the American Simplified Keyboard revolution!
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
If you say he has a velocity of 45 meters per second, and just that, you are leaving something out. You need to have the direction of travel when using the word velocity.
This is especially annoying when it is only used to make the speaker sound smarter than he really is. Maybe he is smart, but just missed that fact. I don't know. But if you do not know the direction they are going, please do not use tho word velocity, use the correct term: speed.
Friday, April 8, 2016
This is a public service announcement.
If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation in which you are sad, there are several options that offer breakthrough relief.
Moderate relief: Say "beep bop" to yourself until you are no longer sad.
Stronger relief: say "sneep snop" while holding your nose closed. Repeat until no longer sad.
Strongest OTC relief: say "bubbles" to yourself as angrily as possible.
Hospital strength relief: say in a boyish or girlish nasally voice (without holding your nose) "Yum bubbles!"
For continual relief, whenever you see something delicious, repeat "Yum bubbles!" audibly, to make others around you laugh. This will in turn give you joy for making others happy.
This PSA has been made possible by the Edmond Manchester Foundation.
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Saturday, March 26, 2016
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Saturday, February 6, 2016
The word has it's origins in Welsh. The welsh word darth is a verb that means to evaporate.
Why am I sharing this with you? Because I wanted to know what the name really meant, since I knew it wasn't originally from Star Wars (my parents know a man in his fifties named Darth). But when I go to the various baby name websites, they say that Darth is the word coined by George Lucas for the Dark order of Sith. He may have thought he came up with it, but the word was in use long before Star Wars was even remotely conceived. You can find this out by using the Google Ngram Viewer. You can also search Google books and find that it was used as a last name as well.
So sorry Star Wars fans, Darth does not mean, Dark order of Sith, it means to evaporate.
so there is your fun fact for the day.