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Earlier in MAY, 2006 → ← JUNE, 2006

Cassinus & Peter … My laptop smells like a cellar … „fristgerecht“ 31st of May, 2006 ANTE·MERIDIEM 09:20

Two College Sophs of Cambridge Growth,
Both special Wits, and Lovers both,
Conferring as they us'd to meet,
On Love and Books in Rapture sweet;
(Muse, find me Names to fix my Metre,
Cassinus this, and t'other Peter)
I like that turn of phrase; I must look into more of Jonathan Swift and his contemporaries, once I’ve run through that stack of unread books on my desk. I suspect ours is the last or next-to-last generation that can read that sort of thing from him in the same comfortable way his generation read Shakespeare; indeed, I only recognise “Sophs” because I went to TCD, which maintains much of the same specialised academic vocabulary as do Oxford and Cambridge—which specialised academic vocabulary was proportionally much better known among the English-language reading public three hundred years ago than it is today.

Yesterday ended badly; was typing something unrelated into this entry, knocked over my glass of wine, emptied half of it into my laptop’s keyboard. One night spent over a radiator and it’s doing not so bad as you might worry about—a couple of hours ago the l key worked one time in three when I used my thumb and pressed hard, so I went and changed my passwords to not use the letter. Now, it works, and interestingly the 27-character passphrase I use for my passwords file never had it, to my mild surprise.

Anyway. I’m off now to give notice at my current place of employment, and to let this machine dry out some more.

Word of the day: „fristgerecht“ is a German adjective meaning “within the specified time.” Happily, I’m still in my trial period here, so I only need two weeks before I can more on to better things.

Last comment from Aidan Kehoe on the 1st of June at 9:03
I read an ancient copy of the full thing at twelve or thirteen; I’m sure I missed lots of the subtleties, but one thing I did pick up was the habit of writing in fourteen- or twenty-line paragraphs, which annoyed my teacher of the time. Heheh.

¡TCD represent!, or however it is that you punctuate it :-) .

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Ascension day …Arbitraging risk … “… push the pram a lot.” 26th of May, 2006 POST·MERIDIEM 05:37

Gestern war es Christi Himmelfahrt, ein Fest wegen der körperlichen Rückkehr Jesus zu Himmel. Auf Englisch “Ascension Thursday” gennant, es schien mir ganz interessant dass so ein kleines Fest in protestantischem Berlin gefeiert wird; auch hier weißt man nicht so genau warum es noch immer ein Fest bleibt, vermutlich weil es auch Vatertag ist. Egal, es war Feiertag, ich bin zu Hause geblieben, gelesen, habe ein bisschen programmiert, ein gläschen Wein getrunken, bin früh eingeschlafen. Das Leben ist nicht schlecht, finde ich.

Jóska asked me a few days ago what exactly a hedge fund was; I said it was an investment fund where the risk of investing in one firm was offset by buying an option to sell other shares at some point in the future at a given price (which will make you money if the price of the shares goes down relative to that price), effectively betting on the market and against it at the same time. He didn’t quite believe me—of the various investments he was looking into, „Hedgefonds“ was the riskiest of the various vehicles he was looking into.

So I went and looked it up the other day on Wikipedia. And, as you would expect of field of human activity where the US has hefty representation, it’s dealt with in depth, together with the rest of finance and stocks. http://​en.​wikipedia.​org/​wiki/​Hedge_Fund , yay Wikipedia. My understanding of the term from its constituents was correct, but there’s been semantic development since it was coined, so now it doesn’t imply any technique in particular.

Word of the day: „selig“ is German for “blessed,” as in beatification; it can also mean “happy,” in general, and this was the meaning of sælig  in English a thousand years ago. In an example of the kind of careening semantic development that you come across when you look at how words in English and German are linked, it’s spelled ‘silly’ today and means something quite different.

Last comment from Aidan Kehoe on the 27th of May at 9:25
Bah, the OED doesn’t date the English word in that usage earlier than about 1670. Interestingly, the Grimms give an Anglo-Saxon version of the German word, bleáðe, which isn’t to be found in the OED. Maybe it survived in dialectal form and contributed to the popularity of ‘bloody’ in that usage later.

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John of Gaunt — born in Flanders shock! … Full canonical garb 23rd of May, 2006 ANTE·MERIDIEM 09:50

“It is scarcely too much to say that [England’s] relations with Flanders were the dominant influence in English foreign politics for the whole of the fifteenth and most of the sixteenth century.”

(from the introduction, Selections from the Correspondence and Memoranda of The Cely Family, Edited for The Royal Historical Society by Henry Elliot Malden, M.A, 1900,  available here.) As our by the grace of [xɞt] invested Imperial correspondent is wont to put it, after Adams: Belgium, man! Belgium!

Anglican clergyman of German Jewish background of the day: Joseph Wolff visited Bukhara (in modern Uzbekistan) to inquire after the fate there of two British officers send to the Emir as part of the Great Game.

Wolff himself narrowly escaped the death on account of, as he later described, of the Emir laughing uncontrollably at the appearance of Wolff in full canonical garb.

Word of the day: das Spital, Spitäler is one German word for ‘hospital’; касалхона is the Tajik.

Last comment from Emma on the 27th of May at 13:18
Bah. Of course it was [ʃ], it was in a silly consonant cluster.

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COMPASSIO, IONIS … „das Büro, Büros“ 20th of May, 2006 POST·MERIDIEM 02:46

„Alle aus dem Lateinischen hervorgegangenen Sprachen bilden das Wort Mitgefühl aus der Vorsilbe com– und dem Wort, das ursprünglisch »Leiden« bedeutete: passio. Andere Sprachen, so das Tschechische, das Polnische und das Schwedische, drücken diesen Begriff durch ein Substantiv aus, das aus der Vorsilbe Mit– und dem Wort »Gefühl« besteht (tschechisch sou-cit, polnisch współ-uczucie, schwedisch med-känsla).“
„In den aus dem Lateinischen hervorgegangenen Sprachen bedeutet das Wort compassio: wir können nicht herzlos den Leiden eines anderen zuschauen; oder: wir nehmen Anteil am Leid des Anderen. Aus einem anderen Wort mit ungefähr derselben Bedeutung (französisch pitié, englisch pity, italienisch pietà usw.) schwingt sogar unterschwellig so etwas wie Nachsicht dem Leidenden gegenüber mit: »Avoir de la pitié pour une femme« heißt, daß wir besser dran sind als diese Frau, uns zu ihr hinabneigen, uns herablassen.“
„Aus diesem Grund erweckt das Wort Mitleid Mißtrauen: es bezeichnet ein schlechtes Gefühl, das als zweitrangig empfunden wird und nicht viel mit Liebe zu tun hat. Jemanden aus Mitleid zu lieben heißt, ihn nicht wirklich zu lieben.“
(von Milan Kundera, „Die unerträgliche Leichtigkeit des Seins“, aus dem Tschechischen von Susanna Roth.)

Yeah, yeah, I should have read The Unberable Lightness of Being ten years ago when it wasn’t totally démodé. Anyway, the musing above strikes me as notable; pretty reasonable, pretty informed, linguistically oriented and in a widely-successful novel. It’s rare that all these things come together, and a sign that the apocalypse is perhaps distant after all.

Word of the day: бюро is Tajik for ‘office,’ from the French via the Russian.

about:livemark-failed … ‘Pulsed gravitational wave …’ … Or, „die Badewanne“ 17th of May, 2006 ANTE·MERIDIEM 09:49

Yay, a bug report that’s vaguely complicated. My sister tells me that when she loads this site in Firefox, and subscribes to the site using the orange icon below and to the right of her window, the relevant entry in her Bookmarks only ever says “Livemark field failed to load.”

I can reproduce this locally, so I Google™d for the URI associated with the failure message. The results are mostly in languages that aren’t English (or Swahili, or Latin, or the very limited number of other languages that one writes using ASCII), so I thought at first it might be a problem with supplying Firefox with non-ASCII characters in the UTF-8. That wasn’t it, I could go to http://​groups.​google.​com/​group/​sci.​lang.​japan , which yesterday had posts with subjects in Japanese on the front page, and the RSS subscription worked, while the Atom subscription gave the error message.

So it’s evidently a problem with Firefox parsing Atom 1.0. (Since they claimed Atom compliance when they released the software, and since Atom 1.0 wasn’t available back then, I’m reluctant to assert they’re incompatible with Atom in general.) To work around that, I’ve made an RSS feed of the actual content available, and I’ve verified that it works with Firefox; you’ll need to click on the orange icon like this: Feed icon in the lower corner of your screen, and select “Subscribe to ‘RSS (full content, for Firefox Live Bookmarks, no comments)’”. The comments aren’t available; I don’t imagine very many other people are interested in such a feed anyway.

In languages-I-don’t-speak news, I got a pointer Monday from my colleague Youssef on how /q/ is pronounced in practice in Arabic; it’s not the energetic way I was doing it, more a gentle tap that can be easily made in conversation without thirty seconds’ preparation. Which is nice. Franco-Moroccan that he is, he had never heard of Araq, the distilled Arabic alcohol that’s named after sweat (charming marketing, no?) and is mostly produced in the Levant.

Patent application of the day: this describes

1. A full body teleportation system consisting of: generating a pulsed gravitational wave which propagates through a magnetic vortex wormhole generator; and generating a wormhole with the magnetic vortex generator whereby the pulsed gravitational wave traverses through the wormhole and enters into hyperspace where the wave is enormously magnified due to the lower speed of light in that dimension.
I suspect somehow he’ll be asked to demonstrate a working implementation and will fail.

Word of the day: der Zuber, Zuber is a fairly rare German word for a tub; the DEW doesn’t link it to the latter, nor does the OED link the latter to it.

Last comment from Aidan Kehoe on the 17th of May at 17:31
You mean to say that the existing comment feed doesn’t work to that end? Or that it being Atom and not RSS is a problem?

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