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He told uz of his life … I ♡ Usenet … „schwed.skånk…“ 22nd of April, 2006 POST·MERIDIEM 01:01

I find via Emma’s Livejournal that I need to listen to the Beatles’ Revolver  more, and to this end I bought an MP3ified copy from everyone’s favourite online music store that accepts Irish credit cards from German IP addresses (so, not the iTMS, heh.) Yay, globalisation. And on the album, of course, is “Yellow Submarine,” which has Every one of us has all we need,  as part of the lyrics, something I’m sure you’ve all heard thousands of times.

Now, however, hearing it for the first time in years, it occurs to me that the line is ungrammatical for me in its intended meaning. Grammatically, it means (again, to me) that each member of the group has the resources that would be necessary for the entire group.  So, imagining N as the amount of resources needed for the group, and M members of the group, M × N would be the amount of resources necessary for that line to be true.

Of course, it doesn’t mean that, because such a situation would be so weird that someone explaining it would have to go into more detail to get the message across. It means, assuming an all-male group, “Every one of us has all he needs.” Assuming a mixed group, hmm, it’s hard to put it. Let’s try:

* Every one of us has all they need. (Ungrammatical, would be grammatical for me in the presence of another group distinct from “us”. Singular “they” doesn’t work for me there, despite my having nothing against it in general.) 

Every one of us has all needed. (Grammatically fine, doesn’t fit the melody.) 

Every one of us has what one needs. (Grammatically okay, stylistically wildly inappropriate. Also the [s] on the end damages the rhyme a bit.) 

So. Looks like John & Paul made the best of a bad lot; it is slightly weird to me that I heard it so often and never noticed the ungrammaticality before, though.

Via Maciej’s bookmarks, a collection of excellent Usenet posting has meant that I’ve been doing very little but reading over the last few days. Cf. this on self-sealing fuel tanks in the Second World War, something I was aware existed, but I was always slightly unclear on how they worked:

“The engineers who developed the self sealing fuel tanks for the F6F Hellcat used as a benchmark, the .50 caliber machine gun. They'd develop a tank and set it out on the firing range and shoot a single round through it to see how it faired. Metal tanks blew apart. So bladder type tanks were used with a sandwich of raw rubber between layers of fabric. When the bullet passed through the layers, the gasoline leaked around the hole. The leaking gas reacted with the raw rubber causing it so swell and seal the hole. This couldn't help when the tank was hit by an explosive shell but worked for non explosive bullet hits.”

Word of the day; „der Schenkel, Schenkel“ is German for “thigh”; the related English “shank” means the leg between the knee and the ankle, something I didn’t know up to now. (I only knew it in terms of cuts of meat, and in “Shank’s mare,” a mythical beast the usage of which involved going somewhere on foot.)

Last comment from Aidan Kehoe on the 23rd of April at 9:00
Well, I imagine it’s a generational thing. How many pensioners did you talk to?

(I’m reminded of a half-German friend with family in the former DDR who doesn’t have any contact with them, apparently on the basis that the grandmother is unreservedly Nazi (though I could be misunderstanding something). Which, yeah, for me initially on learning it, WTF? I suppose the young punk neo-Nazis’ opinions had to come from somewhere. )

[Four older comments for this entry.]

Wohlgefällig … Миша Wolf … Shining me on 19th of April, 2006 ANTE·MERIDIEM 12:01

Ich bekam während des Wochenendes eine Email von einer Freundin, die ich nicht seit einem Jahr gesehen habe, und der Empfang dieser Mail hat es noch einmal erklärt, das ich meinen aktuellen Lebensstil verändern muss. Die ist wohlgefällig, charmant, und wir passen gut zusammen; ich rede mit ihr gerne, und sie mit mir, aber falls ich ledig bin, verbringe ich die zwei Wochen nach so einer Konversation ganz deprimiert, da sie kein Interesse für mich hat. Wenn ich mit einer Frau zusammen bin, kann ich mich mit ihr beschäftigen, und diese Depression vermeiden, und das ist gut so.

Diese Freundin hat mir eingeladen einen Besuch bei ihr zu machen, aber da ich jede Nacht zu Hause bleibe, mit vielen Büchern, und dem Internet, und deshalb wenig Gelegenheiten habe, neue (lokalen) Frauen zu treffen, werde ich ledig bleiben, und wird die Nachfolgen eines solchen Besuches nicht leicht zu tolerieren. (Also, es gab und gibt finanziellen und anderen Gründe dafür, dass ich mein Leben so führe; ich sage nur dass es mir nun klar ist, dass ich Gründe (ja, es gibt andere, finanzielle, zum Beispiel) habe dieses Verhältnis zu beenden.)

Markus „Mischa“ Wolf was the highly-effective head of the foreign intelligence part of the Stasi from the fifties to the mid eighties. Joel of Far Outliers mentions him in this post; but his wider story is fascinating, in the way that those of realistically evil people often are. Of Jewish background, left Germany with his Communist father and the rest of his family in 1934, took Soviet citizenship, went back to Germany in May 1945, gave up Soviet citizenship in the early fifties, pursued his foreign intelligence strategy with good judgement and success for decades. John le Carré’s “Karla” was based on him, apparently; I would love to read his autobiography, but would prefer not to help him in his comfortable retirement by buying it. Must join a library.

Phrase of the day; in North American English, “shining you on” means “conning you,” “pulling the wool over your eyes.” One Usenet post dates it to ~1971 and calls it Jazz slang, but since it’s not clear on the meaning—and it does mean what I write, look at the Google results—I’m not over-inclined to believe she’s right. It’s not in the OED, maybe I should send it in to them.

Last comment from Aidan Kehoe on the 22nd of April at 13:18
Indeed. I also love „doch“; English really needs a single word for “oh yes <positive restatement of a negatively posed question>”. „Doch“ is so much more succinct than “oh yes you did.” (Spanish could do with it too, but “Sí, hiciste” isn’t so bad, I suppose.)

[Six older comments for this entry.]

XEmacs sucks, evidently … PHP rocks, evidently … Ohne große Beziehung mit dem Leben 15th of April, 2006 POST·MERIDIEM 08:21

(Warning, uncomfortably nerdy post, even by my standards!)

Things that are annoying me lately:

  • Marcus Crestani’s incremental garbage collector patch for XEmacs is tying up my editor much more that its predecessor, which is in direct contradiction of the idea of the thing. Fuсk, I need either a) understand that and fix it or b) trust Marcus to do the latter, which, sharp intake of breath is not a given.
  • There’s an XEmacs beta bug that manifests itself on Linux with ncurses; effectively typing fast, or pasting in something to a TTY frame, results in the first character passing through and then everything else getting lost. I’ve switched to a beta XEmacs for my (TTY-bound) mail client, and since my typing is pretty good and pretty fast, this is driving me slowly mad. Double plus ungood; I can’t reproduce it locally, evidently because I’m not running Linux, so I’ll have to go and debug it on the server, if I get to it.

Things that are cheering me up lately:

  • I’ve moved this site to using the PEAR DB API, which means that I can switch to a grown-up database backend when and if I have the opportunity and energy to do so, as opposed to the previous state of affairs, where I was stuck with the most widely distributed alternative. In the process I came across bugs here and there, the fixing of which should speed the site up a little.
  • I’ve fixed a few minor bugs independent of that; notably, now the links to the homepage of whoever wrote a comment make sense (the href= attribute gets stripped, if no home page was supplied) and I provide a syndication feed for the comments, which is much more for my convenience than for the rest of you; but anyway, it’s at http://​www.​parhasard.​net/​atom-feed/​comment/​ .

A diverting Hamburg (German, legal) judgement via BeLUG, available at Heise Online here:

»Das Bereithalten von Internetforen stelle eine Form unternehmerischen Betriebs dar. Der Betreiber müsse sein Unternehmen so einrichten, dass er mit seinen sachlichen und personellen Ressourcen in der Lage sei, diesen Geschäftsbetrieb zu beherrschen.

„Wenn die Zahl der Foren und die Zahl der Einträge so groß ist, dass die Antragsgegnerin nicht über genügend Personal oder genügend technische Mittel verfügt, um diese Einträge vor ihrer Freischaltung einer Prüfung auf ihre Rechtmäßigkeit zu unterziehen, dann muss sie entweder ihre Mittel vergrößern oder den Umfang ihres Betriebs [ ...] beschränken“, so das Landgericht Hamburg.«

This apparently isn’t representative of the previous legal position on internet fora, and will probably be struck down on appeal, but it does raise a bit of a spectre before German Usenet operators; there are quite definitely things posted to news.individual.net every single day that are in contravention of German law, and if the choice is between “stop providing the service” and “hire people to look at everything posted and cancel illegal articles,” I’ll have to go and look for another NNTP provider.

Word of the day: гӯсфанд is Tajik for “sheep.”