Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Thoughts: White Working Class Voters and Regional Skewness

Sullivan pointed to a few articles the make the point that the White working class preference for Romney is highly skewed the South, which is the only reason why the national number looks bad for Obama.

That's a pretty strong difference. Playing the game, "one of these things is not like the other" should be pretty easy for someone to do: the South is heavily skewed against Obama.

Of course, the South is heavily skewed against the national Democratic party, something that has been increasingly the case ever since the Southern Democrats swapped allegiances and became Republicans In other words, from 1968 onward; arguably the only reasons why Democrats won in the South during 1976 and 1994 was because the candidates were former Southern governors (indeed, in 2008, Obama only won three Southern states: Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida, and Florida is, arguably, not really a Southern state).

However, let's back up a little bit here. Just how large is the South as a population area? Well, according to the 2010 US Census, here are the breakdowns of regions for non-Hispanic Whites (including working and non-working class):

Region      2010 Population
West           38.0 million
Midwest        52.1 million
Northeast      38.0 million
South          68.7 million

This does put the greatest number of whites in the South, and it's likely that the ratios for white collar and blue collar whites is similar throughout the regions (or at least I'll assume that they are).

These numbers mean little for the 2012 election, though, since the South was unlikely to vote for Obama anyway - considering that all but three states in the South voted for Obama in 2008. So, does it matter to Obama's re-election chances that over 60% of Southern White Working class men prefer Romney? It doesn't matter in terms of electoral politics, and that's the hard truth.

Since Obama electoral need for Southern whites is non-existent, based on historical social trends, it would be methodolocially incorrect to include them in your voting trend considerations. Indeed, if we don't include the South, then Obama and Romney suddenly are dead-split for the White vote: 40.75% to Romney and 41.33% to Obama, based on my own rough calculations (using the percentages from here, the regional White populations from here, and assuming that the proportion of working class whites is the same across regions).

In the end, since the Obama re-election team can count on most of the Southern votes going to Romney (save for maybe Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida again), I think that the effect of the massive skew from the South should be removed from the national figures, since it's also skewing the electoral narrative. If we remove the portion of the country that won't vote for another Democratic presidential nominee (at least for the next little while), then we should be comfortable in saying that the narrative that Obama's got electoral worries among White Working Class Americans is - in the context of electoral considerations - a skewed narrative.

Or, to put it in the words of David Weigel (whose analysis is more nicely worded - and nuanced - than mine):
This might be obvious, but I think it gets lost in our daily culture war dialogues. To win the election in a squeaker, Barack Obama needs to win around 39 percent of the white vote. But outside the South, if he's winning, he'll be basically tying Romney with whites or losing them by 2-5 points. He's the first Democrat to win national elections in the post-Dixiecrat era. For generations, the Democratic attitudes of the South made it easier for the party to hold Congress, even as ticket-splitters were voting Republican for president -- Nixon, Reagan, the Bushes. Now it's reversed. A Democrat can lose the deep South in a landslide, but win the presidency, as southern conservatives send a massive crop of Republicans back to the Capitol.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday Omphaloskepsis: The US economic recovery in context

Via The Dish:

All told, the recent U.S. financial crisis looks very similar to the historical crises as detailed by Reinhart and Rogoff – your “garden variety, severe financial crisis.” However the US labor market has performed better than 4 of the previous Big 5 crises and Japan’s economic and employment experience over the past twenty years is unique in its own right.
In other words, it's not happy times, but it's far better other world financial crises of the same scale. (And considering the financial shitstorm that's happening in the EU - which is having knock-on effects on the US and is something that the US can't directly control - it's actually awesome.)

Oh, and Japan is almost through its second "lost decade".

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday photo(s): Male nudity, the WW2 army, and advertising

Last week, Buzzfeed's copyranter posted a few rather "steamy" and - from today's viewpoint - "homoerotic" towel advertisements from the 1940s. The interesting thing about these towel ads (see more at Copyranter's page), is that the image was based on stories from soldiers themselves - which served as the inspiration for the rather uninspired copy (by today's standards). In the below ad, the story accompanying the drawing of sixteen men in various states of undress is:


Did you ever have to put a net across your bathtub - and share it with a crocodile? Sometimes, according to this med corps captain, you have to do that for a path - in the South Pacific Islands. Since "crocks" have finicky palates, with a partiality for legs, the kids put two nets across a stream an weight them down. Thereafter the "crocks" are on the outside, looking in!

You might not enjoy the bathing facilities of our boys in the service, but you'd heartily approve of their towels. For in many of their service packs are those same husky, durable Cannons you're so proud to use in your own home.... You know how welcome a bath and a good towel are after a trying day. You can imagine how welcome to our men after long stints of marching or combat!

They need them more than we do. That's why there are fewer towels for us. That's why, too, it's important that we take good care of those we have.

When did we get SOOO prudish?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: Regional Regional impacts due to Arctic melting: The future doesn't look anything like the past

Out of the University of Wisconsin - Madison, there is a brief on the potential future impacts of climate change on the region. (Well, the statements are about Wisconsin, but the impacted areas are definitely not going to stop at the Wisconsin state line.)
Vavrus, an expert on the arctic climate, says the dramatic melting trend is due to rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere warming the planet. He says natural variability may have accelerated the loss of ice in recent years, and he adds that the far north has physical characteristics that make it more sensitive to warming than other parts of the globe.

For one, he explains, snow and ice that normally cover the region reflect most incoming solar radiation back to space, but increased melting exposes land or ocean water that absorb more solar energy and accelerate any warming trend.

In addition, the lowest layer of the atmosphere in the Arctic is thin and prone to temperature inversions that hold warmer air near the ground, promoting even more melting as the region warms.

Vavrus says the Arctic is likely to continue to see pronounced downward trends in sea ice, snow cover, glacier extent, and permafrost. He says that will have major impacts on both natural ecosystems and human communities in the northernmost latitudes.

But the impacts of a warming Arctic could also be felt far beyond the region, including in the Midwest, according to research conducted by Vavrus and his colleague Jennifer Francis at Rutgers University published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters last spring.

"We believe that the winds aloft at the level of the jet stream will weaken and lead to slower-moving and 'wavier' atmospheric circulation patterns," he explains. "Such a change would favor more extreme weather events in middle latitudes, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, and—ironically—cold snaps."
What this means is that we can expect more weather patterns like what we saw this year: warmer winters, warmer springs, warmer summers, less rain on average, more rain in concentrated events, sudden cold snaps; you know: nothing like it used to be.

For Saginaw Forest, this will mean continued take-over by vines, continued lowering of the lake level, accelerated death of pine species, and rapid changes in the plant communities (as well as the insect, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds that live in the forest). Furthermore, if lake levels get any lower than they are now, the near-shore habitat will be completely out of the water, severely limiting the available area for the fish currently in the lake to spawn, thus potentially causing a decline in the total number of fish in the lake.

... good times.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wednesday Wonderings: What is a popular PIN?

With 10,000 options for a 4-digit pin number (0000 through 9999), and with many PINs being personal choices, the distribution pattern of combinations is not going to be anything like random. However, what IS the pattern for the most common PIN numbers? And what is the least common?

Well, the blog Data Genetics did some number crunching on PIN numbers based on "data condensed from released/exposed/discovered password tables and security breaches", and this is what was found to be the 20 most common PIN numbers:
     PIN   Freq
#1   1234  10.713%
#2   1111   6.016%
#3   0000   1.881%
#4   1212   1.197%
#5   7777   0.745%
#6   1004   0.616%
#7   2000   0.613%
#8   4444   0.526%
#9   2222   0.516%
#10  6969   0.512%
#11  9999   0.451%
#12  3333   0.419%
#13  5555   0.395%
#14  6666   0.391%
#15  1122   0.366%
#16  1313   0.304%
#17  8888   0.303%
#18  4321   0.293%
#19  2001   0.290%
#20  1010   0.285%
To put the popularity of "1234" another way:
The most popular PIN code of 1234 is more popular than the lowest 4,200 codes combined!
The very least common PIN number (i.e., the 10,000th most common) was 8068. However, the blog author adds this warning to the result:
Now that we’ve learned that, historically, 8068 is (was?) the least commonly used password 4-digit PIN, please don’t go out and change yours to this! Hackers can read too! They will also be promoting 8068 up their attempt trees in order to catch people who read this (or similar) articles.

Check out about the Nash Equilibrium
For everyone out there using a PIN that starts with "19--"; there's some worrying news for you, too:
Many of the high frequency PIN numbers can be interpreted as years, e.g. 1967, 1956, 1937 … It appears that many people use a year of birth (or possibly an anniversary) as their PIN. This will certainly help them remember their code, but it greatly increases its predictability.

Just look at the stats: Every single 19?? combination can be found in the top fifth of the dataset!
There is a lot more information (including lots of graphics) over at Data Genetics, and so I'd check it out... (especially his "Conclusions" section) and then take some advice and maybe change your PIN (especially if it's 1234, 1111, 0000, 1212, or any of the top 20). As with many things that intersect society and numbers, xkcd has made some comics, and (like with Data Genetics) I will end with them here:

Side note: I really find it humorous that "6969" is in the top 10 most common 4-digit PIN combinations (ahead of several PIN combinations of just the same number, like "9999" or "6666").

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuesday Video(s): Drunk History!

Yesterday's timeline of conservative US history reminded me of a series of YouTube videos called "Drunk History", in which actors portray a drunk person's version of some person or event in history:

Part 1: Alexander Hamilton

Part 2: Benjamin Franklin

Part 2.5: Ben Franklin's sexual predelictions

Part 3: Oney Judge (George & Martha Washington's slave)

Part 4: William Henry Harrison

Part 5: Fredrick Douglass

Part 6: Nikola Tesla

Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday Musing: Literal translation of bad facts

A few days ago, the New Yorker produced a time line of American history, based on statements of historical fact made by conservatives. Now, we know that all conservatives aren't historians (well, most aren't), and so they might be given a little bit of leeway on getting dates and actual people's names absolutely correct, and we know that the New Yorker is specifically choosing quotes that are wrong. However, the timeline that is produced is quixotic, funny, and properly sourced. Some examples:
1500s: The American Revolutionary War begins: “The reason we fought the revolution in the sixteenth century was to get away from that kind of onerous crown.”—Rick Perry

1619-1808: Africans set sail for America in search of freedom: “Other than Native Americans, who were here, all of us have the same story.”—Michele Bachmann

1776: The Founding Synod signs the Declaration of Independence: “…those fifty-six brave people, most of whom, by the way, were clergymen.”—Mike Huckabee

1812: The American War for Independence ends: “ ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’…that song—written during the battle in the War of 1812—commemorates the sacrifice that won our liberty.”—Mitt Romney

1908: The real Pledge of Allegiance is written: “I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag, and to the Savior, for whose Kingdom it stands, one Savior, crucified, risen, and coming again, with life and liberty for all who believe.”—Dan Quayle

1961: Barack Obama is born, in Africa: “And one thing that I do know is his having grown up in Kenya.”—Mike Huckabee

1961: The Soviet Union brainwashes its first Marxist terrorist spybot: “Soviet Russian Communists knew of Barack from a very early date… he was raised and groomed Communist to pave the way for their future.”—Janet Porter

1967: Indonesia brainwashes its first Islamic terrorist spybot: “Why didn’t anybody ever mention that that man right there was raised—spent the first decade of his life, raised by his Muslim father—as a Muslim and was educated in a Madrassa?”—Steve Doocy

1993: Barack Obama appears in the hip-hop video “Whoomp! There It Is!”: “Pay close attention to his ears poking out, the shape of his nose, and skin color.”—Tennessee Sons of Liberty

September 11, 2001: Nothing happened: “We had no domestic attacks under Bush.”—Rudy Giuliani

May, 2004: Abu Ghraib pranksters pull some funny ones: “This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation … I’m talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release?”—Rush Limbaugh

2010: Flying Jihad Terror Babies invade America: “It appeared they would have young women who became pregnant. They would get them into the United States to have a baby, they wouldn’t even have to pay anything for the baby, and then they would return back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists.”—Representative Louie Gohmert

2011: President George W. Bush kills Osama bin Laden: “Thanks to George Bush…. Because if Obama had his way we wouldn’t have gotten bin Laden, you know that.”—Sean Hannity

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saturday Omphaloskepsis: The Equinox

The equinox isn't really equal lengths of night and day:

Yeah, it's a quibble point in all of these cases, still: happy southward equinox for 2012! (I would say "Autumnal Equinox", but - of course - in the Southern Hemisphere, it's actually the "Vernal Equinox"...)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Photo: Pegged U.S. flag in Madrid

I saw this photo in today's VFYW series from the Dish.

It makes me wonder if this is a violation of the Flag Code. Let's see:
When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag's own right, that is, to the observer's left. When displayed in a window, the flag should be displayed in the same way, with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street.
Technically now "against a wall", but it's the best that I could find, and the flag is technically displayed properly. Interestingly, the Flag Code doesn't actually have a section on how to affix a flag, so clothes pins seem to be okay...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: What does Ryan's claim of body fat content imply?

Apparently, Ryan is now saying that he keeps his body fat content between 6-8%. Bill Gifford at Slate explains why this is either a continuation of the bizarre lies of Ryan about his physical abilities or a kind of scary indictment of Ryan's physical ability to actually do his job.

First Ryan (bizarrely) claims that he ran a marathon an hour-plus faster than his actual time. Then Ryan (bizarrely) claims that he didn't really remember his time, because it was a long time ago. Now Ryan (still bizarrely) claims that he maintains the body fat content lower than the body fat content of a professional cyclist.

If Ryan is lying about the small and inconsequential (to governing) things, what does this say about his character? As Gifford writes:
Ryan wouldn’t be the first guy to dissemble about his physical attributes. But with him it’s become a pattern: first the marathon, then the dubious mountain climbs, as well as some minor confusion about the exact level of his skiing prowess. (He told Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker that he was on Janesville Craig High School’s “ski team,” when in fact the school only maintains a ski club.) “Sounds a lot like when guys say they can also bench 300 pounds, run a 4.5 forty, etc.,” says Rooney.
But what if Ryan is actually telling the truth? What if his body fat content is maintained between 6 and 8%? Well, the sciences of physiology and psychology tell us the scary possibility of what this might mean:
At very low body-fat levels, strange things start happening. Starved for energy, the body starts consuming muscle instead of fat, in what’s known as a catabolic state. Low fat levels also affect immune function. In the 1940s, the legendary nutritionist Ancel Keys (father of the military’s K-rations) subjected a group of 36 men to a severely restricted diet, amounting to about half what they were used to eating. ... Keys took precise body-fat measurements of his subjects, and found that they bottomed out around 5 percent—1 percent below Ryan’s claim. Whether from lack of body fat, or plain lack of food, they basically went crazy.
Yeah... kinda scary, and if Ryan knew anything about physiology or sports science, he likely wouldn't have make the comment that he has a body fat content of 6-8%. (Hell, if he recognized the simple point that there are sports fanatics out there that make body fat content a major part of their life obsessions, just like there are a lot of runners out there that make knowing what a marathon time means!)

If it's a lie, then it's further indication that he is dishonest about things that have little impact on governing, but is about something for which he obviously prides himself in - his fit body (and don't get me wrong, he is physically fit). However, if he has a tendency of lying about things that he perceives as being his strengths, and he is known as being a serious and capable numbers guy in Washington, then is he actually lying about this personal accomplishment, too? If so, then suddenly his lies do have impacts on governing....

However, and perhaps more scarily, if he isn't lying, then we have to ask the next phycho-physiological question: how mentally stable is this man?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday Wonderings: Why is it called a "murmuration"?

On my way home last night, I saw a small murmuration of starlings. A what?

A murmuration:

(Okay, the one I saw was tiny compared to that one, but you get the picture.)

The first time I remember seeing a murmuration was in 1994 in Aberdeen, and I was sitting in the Pizza Hut on Union Bridge and it was approaching dusk and I looked out and saw a moving cloud of birds; not a mere "flock" of them, but a visual symphony of black points moving like a sinuous blanket across the sky and dipping down toward the buildings before sharply rising again to the deep red evening sky. As I sat mesmerized, I slowly finished the stuffed crust pizza that I ordered. And I wasn't the only one that stopped to watch the spectacle, either.

But why is it called a "murmuration" anyway? There is no sufficient etymology over at's definition. Off to my favorite English language site: World Wide Words.

And here's the explanation:
People often write in about the conventional terms for groups of animals and people, especially birds, such as parliament of rooks or murder of crows. Many of these, including ...murmuration of starlings..., are poetic inventions that one can trace back to the fifteenth century.

The first collection in English is The Book of St Albans of 1486... The part on hunting [with all the names of groups of animals] is inscribed with the name of Dame Juliana Barnes, who is traditionally supposed to have been prioress of the nunnery of Sopwell near St Albans...

Though some of Dame Juliana’s terms ... are wonderful to read and have a certain resonance, nobody seems to have used them in real life (and some are now mysterious, such as cete of badgers or dopping of sheldrake, because we no longer have the vocabulary to appreciate them).

Many that refer to natural history have some basis in animal behaviour. A ... murmuration of starlings is a muted way to describe the chattering of a group of those birds as they come into roost each evening...
And so there we go: it's a nod to a piece of writing from a 15th century book written by a prioress at St. Alban's to describe - in "a muted way" the chirruping that starlings make when the roost in the evening. (I would have called them a "Chittering of Starlings" but while that might - to me - sound more onomatopoetically correct, it is far less poetic than Dame Juliana Barnes.

Go over to World Wide Words to check out some more poetic (if rather obscure) words to describe groups of animals.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tuesday Video: Michigan Good-Time

The state of Michigan gathers together for a sing-along:

Via CBS:
Michigan shoots and scores! The fun music video entitled "The Pure Michigan Statewide Singalong", with parody lyrics to Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen's hit single "Good Time", was released by Michigan's tourism development agency to promote living, visiting and working in the state. And the video is almost not a surprise since the lip-dub by Traverse City was also out of of Michigan. So is Michigan the new sing-along state? Either way, color all of us here at The Feed impressed by this outstanding video! And to learn more about the cities involved in this project and their attractions, you can visit Michigan's official travel and tourism site by clicking here.
I particularly like the shot in the Detroit Institute of Arts, right in front of one of Diego Rivera's many murals:

And for some behind-the-scenes footage from the Ypsilanti shoot:

Tuesday Video: Counting the Years to 100

Dutch filmmaker Jeroen Wolf captured people ranging from 1 year young to 100 years old.

From Vimeo:
In October 2011 I started documenting people in the city of Amsterdam, approaching them in the street and asking them to say their age in front of the camera. My aim was to 'collect' a group of 100 people, from age 0 to 100. At first my collection grew fast but slowed down when it got down to the very young and very old. The young because of sensivity around filming or photographing children and the very old because they don't get out of the house much. I found my very old 'models' in care homes and it was a privilege to document these -often vulnerable- people for this project. I had particular problems finding a 99 year-old. (Apparently 100 year-olds enjoy notoriety, but a 99 year-old is a rare species...) And when I finally did find one, she refused to state her age. She simply denied being 99 years old! But finally, some 4 months after I recorded my first 'age', I was able to capture the 'missing link' and conclude this project. Enjoy.

(By the way: together these people have lived 5050 years...)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Comments management: Yup, I'm using Disqus now.

I've opted to try using Disqus as the comments section. Therefore, if you have a Disqus profile, you can automatically add comments, edit them, and review them from your Disqus dashboard. In addition, the comments are threaded - which means that (if for some reason) people can respond directly to a previous comment in the thread.

Unfortunately, this shift means that none of the comments made on the blog are now visible. They are still there, but the Disqus module overrides the Blogger comments section.

Monday Musings: Cooler morning conundrums

I live in a forest. Perhaps this isn't too much of a surprise for people, but it's a statement of fact. Usually, this means that the temperatures are a few degrees lower than what I'd encounter in town. (Thanks to the urban heat island effect - yes, Ann Arbor has it, even with its trees.)

Sometimes, though, you misjudge the difference between in-town temperatures and what you feel like when you walk outside in a morning.

... and so I now find myself in a long-sleeve shirt, jeans, and shoes (instead of shorts, t-shirt, and sandals)...

Finally cooled off, but it took a while.

On the plus side, though, my commute this morning only took 16 minutes, and I wasn't the only cyclist that I encountered, either. (There were 2 from Wagner, and an additional 2 in town as I cycled along Washington.)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Saturday Omphaloskepsis: Re-reading Asimov's Foundation trilogy

It's been many years since I cracked open a copy of Foundation, let alone read through all of the books. However, it's been proving to be a great deal of fun. The stories don't diminish, even as my knowledge of science make the deficiencies in science and technology that Asimov lived in show through. Still, the stories remain strong.

What's interesting is that I never consciously realized that the Foundation trilogy - vast science fiction epic though it is - has exactly zero androids in it. Therefore, there are no cases of the Three Laws of Robotics, either. This is - to me - strange, since Asimov is known for the Three Laws as well as the Foundation.

Poking around on Wikipedia, I learned that in the fictional chronology, between the period in which "Robots" series of books and short stories take place and the time of the Foundation series, there was a diminishment of the number of robots. Indeed, in Caves of Steel the number of robots were already in serious decline as humans moved to get rid of them, even as the Three Laws protected them from the robots.

Another thing that's interesting is how uncannily similar Asimov's "psychohistory" is to certain economic and quantitative social sciences. I don't know if these social sciences were developed to such an extent in Asimov's time, but whenever we think about "market projections" and the like, it's almost like an analogue of psychohistory. Furthermore, the kinds of projections that are made by Nate Silver (over at 538) is itself a kind of "psychohistory".

All kinda cool, especially since these thing were in their infancy back in 1942 (when the first short story of the Foundation series was published).

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Photo: Photographing Hestia the cat

Photographing cats can be a fun task. They can be highly inquisitive or abjectly bored; active or static; being photogenic or just mumming for the camera (or just being difficult to photograph).

Here are some of the photos of one particular cat, Hestia, that I took when I was in Chile last month.

Hestia en la puerta/Hestia in the doorway

Hestia en el techo/Hestia in the ceiling

La predadora
La predadora/The predator

La gata borrosa
La gata borrosa/The blurred cat

Una cosa curiosa
Una cosa curiosa/A curious thing

El retrato
El retrato/The Portrait

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: Net-age Neologisms

It's always fun to look at what sorts of neologisms are being considered for addition into the hallowed halls of dictionaries. (And interesting to see which words become relegated.)

Recently, the Oxford Dictionaries Online (not the OED) added a few net-age neologisms:


(I wonder if this means that I can use these words in Scrabble?)

Via PhysOrg, we find an interview with Heather Littlefield (head of the Linguistics Dept. at Northeastern University) about why we like Net-based words:
When a cul­ture inte­grates some­thing new—a new tech­nology, for example, or an art form or belief system—new vocab­u­lary enters the lan­guage, giving us the vocabulary we need to talk about it. There are many ways of han­dling this—some­times a language will borrow words from another lan­guage, but often we draw on the resources of our own language. Since the United States has been at the fore­front of devel­oping computer, Internet, cell phone and dig­ital technolo­gies, many of the words for those technolo­ies come from English.

Keeping in mind that these tech­nolo­gies have only been in wide­spread use for the last 20 or 30 years, the words that have entered the lan­guage are very new. But they are so per­va­sive and widely used that we don't even think of them as new any­more! Think about mouse, virus, cookie, thumb­nail and icon: these words are now used in a com­pletely different sense than had orig­i­nally been intended. Or think about all of the new compounds that we've cre­ated: upload, down­load, log-​​in, home­page, World Wide Web, website, flash­drive, smart­phone, and so on. Con­sider acronyms such as GPS, OMG, LOL, PC, DVD, CD, URL and USB; blends such as mal­ware (from mali­cious soft­ware) and blog (weblog); clip­pings such as app (short for application) and net (for Internet); and the use of trade­names and prod­ucts such as Google, Skype, iPod, and iPhone.
Of course, words that deal with technology can also quickly fall out of use (and fall out of official dictionary lists). Just remember what happened in August 2011 with "Cassette Tape" (via Time):
As the Oxford English Dictionary heralds in new words, they’ve ousted some dated terms — including the apparently beloved “cassette tape”.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wednesday Wonderings: Michigan's Fall 2012 Theme Semester

The Theme Semester at the University of Michigan will be "Translation". "Translation from what into what?" I wondered, and looking at the site it appears that the translation is not limited to language translation. In fact, it seems that language translation isn't a major component of the theme semester. Maybe such translation is too prosaic?

Still, on the topic of translation (via the medium of machines), here's a video from BigThink about "What's lost (and found) in machine translation":

(On the topic of translating words into machine speech, and having text being read to you via machines, here are my thoughts. In short: I'm not agin' it.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tuesday Video: Translating Names

In traveling around the world, I have encountered interesting conversations about what my name means and have also encountered various mnemonics that people use in order to remember my name. Why? Because my name isn't really a standard one (even in the languages from which it came).

However, there has been (in the US at least) a history of translating names into their English forms (think about the stories from Ellis Island), or (in previous generations, especially in Indian schools) just removing a person's name and imposing an English name.

This story (adapted from the Story Corps) recounts how one immigrant child's name just couldn't (fortunately) be adapted:

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Tuesday Video: Bird Goes Fishing

Give a bird a fish, and it'll follow you around like a bird after fish.

Teach a bird to fish, and you'll get awesomeness!