2010-03-06 09:05 pm
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A Link and a Comment on UI (not in that order)

One of the only redeeming fearures of Vista is the text box in the start menu that will either act as a search, or launch the program you type in. Much easier than menus for running programs you don't run all the time.

And I swear I've linked this before, but I'm not sure, so here it is again, Fanspeak, a webpage made from a Usenet post about a speech pathologist's impressions of geek culture, once removed. At least at cons. A bunch of it seems dead-on to me. And the part about talking with your hand under your chin struck me, and yeah, I can. That's weird, I guess? At least to some people? (Found via the comments of [livejournal.com profile] theferret's post "If Nerds Can Learn Linux, Why Can't They Learn Not To Interrupt People?"
2010-01-02 12:06 pm
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Hunting a Word

What's the word for something that is ridiculous, yet awesome, amd too busy being awesome to be worried about ridiculous? And it's not ironic, or it's so ironic it's gone through to the other side and is sincere, because sincerity when people are expecting irony is as ironic as you can get.

Like Meat Loaf's music, which is ridiculously epic, but completely sincere in being awesome. I suspect some other bands, like Dragonforce may count, it depends on how ironic you credit them as being, I guess.
2008-04-02 06:10 pm
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I need a word

I'm so proud of our President, in no more than five minutes, he gave me the need to find the proper word.

Actually, there were two things President Bush said that struck me. The first I know the words for, it was outright lies and bullshit. NPR had a soundbite of him trying to calm Russia's fears about the push for "missile defense" by saying it was aimed at "rogue regimes" in "areas such as the Middle East" who could "hold us all hostage".

In other words, we need missile defense to protect us from Iranian nuclear missiles (not North Korean ones any more, even though North Korea actually HAS nukes, and was what we were supposed to be making missile defense for before). Except of course Iran doesn't have nukes, nor do they have missiles that could reach the US, he's just bullshitting and lying and waving around the "IRAN SCARY NUKES NUKES SCARY!" flag. The reason he's pushing "missile defense" doesn't have anything to do with Iran, or North Korea, or even Russia, really, it's just one of those absurd things that the Republicans have been in love with since forever, even though it's not really likely to work like at all.

But back to the original thing. What do you call it when somebody says something that's true, but their actions show they obviously don't believe it or just don't give a damn if it's true or not? I suppose that could fall under the realm of bullshit as well, because that's when somebody says something without caring about its truth.

Maybe I should give the example. But, I can't find the quote online. So, from memory and notes, "I we let up the pressure, terrorists will establish camps across the country (Afghanistan) and threaten us all." There is some truth to this, though like every single thing George W. Bush says about terrorism, it's exaggerated and presented as if terrorists in caves are more of a threat than the Soviet Union with nukes was. The bit of truth is that if we do cut down on troops in Afghanistan, and divert our resources and attention, there's a good chance the Taliban will come back, or at worst, it'll turn to a completely chaotic state.

How do I know that's true? Because that's exactly what HAS happened since we diverted our resources and attention from Afghanistan to the fiasco in Iraq, years ago. Which we did at the bidding of the exact same man who was just now saying how important Afghanistan is.

So, what do you call it when somebody says something that's technically true, but show they don't actually care about it, and it's actually largely their fault, too? Is that just bullshit, or is there a better word?
2007-03-01 12:55 am
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Internet: The Global Language

I was looking at a Russian blog with all sorts of pictures on it. One of the posts contained a bunch of Russian, and then LOL, which looked completely out of place amidst the Cyrillic alphabet. Weird.
2007-01-30 11:45 am
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Just in Case the President Reads This

Since he apparently doesn't know, the name of the older and larger political party in the US is "The Democratic Party", not "The Democrat Party".
2007-01-29 12:22 am
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Fuck and Friend and Other Words of Power

In general, I try not to swear that often. It's not out of a sense that they're "bad" words, or anything like that. I've gotten looser about that as I've gotten older, and it depends who I'm around. When I'm around people who swear more often, I do too, for example. But the reason I try not to swear is because they're powerful words. Not in and of themselves, they're just sounds. But the reactions they can get from other people, and the emphasis they place on things. It's a lot more meaningful when somebody who rarely swears refers to somebody as a "fucking asshole" than when it's done by somebody who says fuck every third word. That's why stuff like "fuck the police" was a lot more revolutionary in the wake of the Leave It to Beaver 50s than now. But when you overuse a word that used to have power because of shock value, or because of its meaning, or whatever, it gets watered down. Eventually to the point of being almost meaningless. Just look at politics or marketing, and how many words both of those have pretty much destroyed.

I'm slow to make friends. This might just be because of being an introvert, or a poorly socialized nerd, all the regular reasons of people on the Internet. Sometimes it feels like whatever part of peoples' brains let them make connections to others easily is just broken or atrophied for me. But at least part of it is because to me, "Friend" is a pretty big word. Not like in those after school specials where the plucky heroes would tell the henchman "You're our friend! Yeah!" and he'd go, "Really?" and then let them out and betray the villain. But, a friend is more than just somebody you hang around with sometimes, or work with. At least for somebody worth calling a friend, I'd figure. So maybe it's not so much that I'm slow to make friends, but that I'm slow to call them actual friend. So my circle of friend friends is fairly limited. Some people I've known and gamed with for years, and they're still basically just gaming buddies, not friends, if that makes any sense. It takes time to get to know somebody and decide to trust them and all that sort of thing. The stuff it takes to make somebody a friend.

Most of the time, that goes double for relationships. There's only one time I can think of when I started totally just crushing on somebody from how they looked. That never managed to go anywhere, either, unfortunately. But most of the time, before I can figure out if I'm interested in somebody, I have to get to know them. Which takes time. Of course, by the time I feel like I know somebody well enough to be interested in them, that whole "friend zone" has kicked in, and the lady isn't interested, or has decided I'm obviously not interested. So that doesn't work out well either.

Maybe I'm putting too much weight onto words that are, really, just words. Because I'm a nerd, or because I spend a lot of time on the Internet, which is made up of words, porn, and pictures of cats. Or maybe because I fancy myself to be a writer, so I put too much emphasis on using words right, or just think they're more important than they are. But if words didn't have power, then why would I bother wanting to be a writer? And if they have power, well with power comes responsibility. Right, true believers?
2006-11-18 10:23 pm

A Sneaking Suspicion

It's an idea that's been growing for a while, but I think one of the first and biggest mistakes we made in the "war on terror" was to call it "the war on terror". And by us, I mean the Bush administration. See, the thing about war is, you can't have a war unless there's two sides of at least relatively similar strength. Which is clearly not the case here. But by making it the "war on terror", it a) conflated a bunch of terrorist groups into some kind of monolithic enemy "the terrorists" that doesn't actually exist, and b) it made "The terrorists" something the world's mightiest superpower considered close enough to its own strength to declare war on. Instead of treating these guys as a bunch of scumbags who blow up innocent people to try and bully their way around. And since there's not any kind of unified group of terrorists, no SPECTRE or anything, it's a war we can't "win" or show major victories in, which means that we set the metaphors up to favor "the terrorists".

We're fighting the ideas part of things on ground that sucks for us, and the Bush Administration CHOSE that ground. One more little incompetency from them.
2006-11-15 03:17 am
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A Random Note

MAN, I wish English had a gender-neutral personal pronoun that wasn't kludged together or some awkward invented thing that draws attention to itself. "Their" works in many situations, but not when you're trying to refer to a named individual of indeterminate gender. I could just use their name everywhere, but that draws attention to itself also, and practically screams "LOOK, THE AUTHOR'S AVOIDING SPECIFYING GENDER FOR THIS CHARACTER."

2006-09-25 10:01 pm
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Is There a Word?

There's some things that feel like they should have words, but English doesn't seem to have them. Like something that makes perfect sense on one level, but on another level is completely ridiculous. For example, a multinational giant corporation like Barnes and Noble stocking Adbusters the magazine. It makes perfect sense on the "sell more stuff" and "get more exposure" levels for each, but it's also utterly ridiculous. Though on another level, I guess it makes sense too, if you believe a bookstore actually stands behind ideals about free speech and stuff (which, working at said giant multinational corporation, I find kinda unlikely).

But still, there oughta be a word. I bet German has one. German has awesome words for everything. And no, I don't think irony is quite the word I'm looking for, though it's part of the concept.
2006-09-01 12:26 am
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What do you do Without an Idea?

These days, you can't really use the phrase "The Man" in a non-ironic sense. At least when you're talking about The Man, as opposed to telling somebody they're the man.

Which is kinda awkward, when it's all said and done, because The Man is still around, but how are you supposed to talk about it without a phrase to contain the concept?
2006-05-16 12:44 pm
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Man, I Think About Things Too Much

Okay, so language nerd hat on now. One of the interesting things about English, at least the way me and people I know use it, is plurals. See, in most other languages, everything has sex. Not the naked sweaty kind, just everything counts as "male" or "female", which matters for all sorts of grammar bits. English doesn't, and has the word "it", which also isn't very common. But English also has some problems with gender, like how you talk about somebody when you'd on't know if they're a guy or a girl. The most common way to do is is "they", like I just used, though I've seen people arguing for s/he, or hir, or other various made up things. Or just alternating between "him" and "her". But their seems to be the most common. And usage trumps grammarian rules.

But that's not the original point I was going for, I got sidetracked. Well, kind of. The plural I meant specifically was for groups of either mixed or unknown gender. With people I know, we almost always say "guys". Like "Hey, guys!" or "those guys" or whatever. Sometimes even to groups of just women. (Though i've personally been using "Ladies" lately for women, I dunno why.) Even though guys is technically male, it's becoming gender neutral. Things seem to mostly go from male to gender neutral, I can't think of anything off the top of my head that's started out as female and become gender neutral. Not just in language, but in clothing, names, and other things.

And to tie this back in to my side-ramble up at the top, some of the same kind of thing seems to be going on in other languages. Even, for example, Arabic. My teacher for last semester mentioned how there used to be separate plurals words for groups of men and women, but now the masculine form gets used for men and mixed groups, as more of a default. But because I'm a bad student, I don't remember what it was, or what the female one was. There even were male and female versions of "we", but again, the female one seems to have died out.

I imagine the reason behind all this is some kind of implicit superiority supposed, or just that women are more accepting of being called by male-related things than men are of female-related things, or something along those lines. But I just thought it was interesting to point out the same kind of thing happening in languages besides English.
2006-03-27 02:57 pm
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Irony and Language

Man. I can't even keep track any more. Is saying "The Internets" still ironically making fun of Bush saying it in the debates, or has it become so common it's transcended irony and reached the level of Internet slang, like lol and rofl and such?
2006-03-23 12:21 am
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The Art of Cursing

Y'know, there's damn few decent expletives in English that aren't based around sex, excrement, or religion.

So if you don't feel like using any of those, you have to get creative.
2006-03-21 12:57 am
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Where do words go?

When did "Oriental" become "Asian"? Oriental wasn't derogatory or anything, either. But it seems to have basically gone away.

Anybody know why?
2006-02-19 10:58 pm
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A question

Where did "OHNOES!" come from, anyway?
2006-01-14 12:57 pm

If this isn't comment whoring, nothing is.

This is probably one of the least important things I could be worrying about. But what the hell, that's what LJ's for.

There's not really a good term in English to refer to the female breast. There's words that describe it, but most aren't really suitable for general use. Breast is entirely too clinical. Boobies is only good for puns and ironic "I'm six!" things. Tits is only good for puns. Gazoongas is right out. There's the romance novel method of involved slanting metaphors. Is there ANY suitable word, preferably one that won't get you slapped by any females in the area?

And yes, there's the same problems referring to genitals of both genders, but I'm not writing porn here.
2006-01-09 11:54 pm
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Parental Warning: Explicit Language

So, let's talk about fuck. Not the act, just the word. One of the many and varied joys of working retail with music is dealing with parents who want to make sure their wee ones don't get exposed to any kind of naughtiness. My reactions vary from helpful to bemused, partially because I remember being a kid and the kind of language I heard every day, especially at school, and I barely ever fucking swear.

As a writer, even a wannabe, saying something like "They're just words" is a little bit hypocritical, or at the very least endangers all the self-justification that lets me pretend tapping things out on the keyboard is a valid use of my time. But I mean, dudes, they're just words. Hearing somebody say "fuck" isn't going to scar your kid for life any more than Janet Jackson's nipple is. Americans are so fucking uptight about sex. That's the only reason the word "fuck" has any power.

And that's the real reason not to overuse it. Or other "obscenities". The only reason they have any power is the power to shock, and they lose that if you overuse them. If every other fucking word of your fucking sentence is the word fuck, then it's going to fucking stop meaning anything, so fuck it. And I've known people who've used words like that, where other people would say "uh" or use punctuation, they said fuck. That gets you nothing. As a writer and a gamer, one of the things I know is you don't use up all your best stuff right off the bat. You've got to save the big things for when they'll be the most useful. And changes from routine can really get people's attention, so if you have a character who never swears, then crosses that line and yells "FUCK!", then it's a lot more emotional and draws more attention than if it's a "tough guy" who swears all the time to show how tough he is. Because in the first case, there's a boundary, and the effect comes from crossing it. Sort of like quantum states, only not at all similar.

And I guess that's a decent reason to keep kid's exposure limited, until they're old enough to understand the power of words and know when it's worth using things for effect. But that's not really based on the kid, it's based on other people, where you pretend the words are bad because other people think they're bad. I know for a fact back when I worked at the game store and we discouraged "foul language" we didn't do it to protect the kids, the kids hear worse at school. We did it to not have to deal with the parents or grandparents or strangers who'd be wandering the store and overhear something and get all offended on behalf of the kiddies. Who didn't care. Hmm. I wonder how much of "obscenity" isn't really people being offended, but upset because they figure other people will get offended. If I have kids, I don't think I'd try and "protect" them from language, just teach them how to use it and why it matters. I mean fuck, it's not like those four little words cause some kind of magical mental damage.
2005-12-04 10:27 pm
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Is there a good word in English for "People who continue to believe something despite copious proof of it being false"?

(And to get the snark out of the way, I'm not looking for Republicans, religious (there's a difference between lack of proof and disproof, and that's REALLY not a can of worms I feel like opening at the moment), idiots, or similar terms. Even though the event that sparked the question is the Republicans who continue to insist Bush is a "straight shooter", in the face of the constant stream of proven lies, falsehoods, and exaggerations from the White House. I'm looking for something a little less inflammatory.)
2005-11-21 11:42 am
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Repetition. Repetition.

When I was younger and in school, repetition annoyed me. I mean, I already learned this! Why do I have to do the same thing over and over? I already understand it. Go away, I wanna do something interesting. I GET this. I don't need to do it sixteen times.

And this was true. At least to an extent, and as long as it involved something interesting. I have a good memory. For things I find interesting. Which was much of the stuff in school, so I really didn't need to do things a dozen times to get them. Well, usually.

For things I don't find interesting though, not so much. Like people's names. Though that may not be interest, that may just be, I dunno. Something else. But when I noticed this the most in school was with languages. Like Spanish. I had bad teachers all the years I took Spanish, and never enjoyed it, and I'd rather be doing something other than memorizing vocabulary and so on, so I did the bare minimum to get by. And at this point, almost all of the Spanish I can remember comes from Sesame Street.

Now that I'm older, and given some of the stuff I've read, I understand the purpose of repetition now. You need repetition to etch things into your long-term memory, make the neurons grow to mark them. It's one thing to remember the general rule, the structure, that I'm good at. But the specifics can be another matter. In this case, with Arabic, which we've gotten past much of the basic structural grammar stuff, which is fairly easy for me, since it's practically math. Now we're into vocabulary and things, and I don't remember the words until I've used them regularly. So I'm making flash cards. Because for the past couple weeks, I've been not doing much on it at home, and as a result I've been struggling again. So I need the repetition. Need to drive it home and etch the words in my memory. Eventually, I suppose, they'll have meaning on their own, but for now the best I can do is connect them to their English equivalents. I have to think about what the words mean, and translate in my head to make any sense. And it's frustrating, because as I mentioned before, I look at Arabic words, there's just squiggles. There's no sense of meaning, like there is with English, before I even read it.

Maybe my brain's changed as I've gotten older, and doesn't absorb things quite so quickly. But on the other hand, I can recall the most pointless crap about many things that I find interesting. Like a mental database of what Magic cards do, but that's reinforced by seeing them regularly in play, repetition again. Whatever the case, it means I have to actually do some work, and not just sit here posting to LJ.

Technorati Tags: Language, Mindscribbles, Me
2005-11-15 11:40 am
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Language and Squiggles

One of the frustrating things about taking a foreign language, especially one that uses a different alphabet, like Arabic, is it's not reflexive. At least not yet.

I look at a page in English, I know there's MEANING there, even if I don't know what until I read it. The effort is as nothing. Look at a page in a foreign language? Even when I know there's meaning there, it doesn't spring out at me. It's just squiggles. And to extract meaning from them requires effort and confusion. And makes me feel like a kindergartener, which is quite frustrating.