Monday, June 21, 2010

Best of October 2006

Horton Hatches A Creed

Why the chicken crossed the road, according to JRR Tolkien.

One of my few comments about gun control.
“There are other factors which overwhelm the gun-law effects no matter what legislation is or isn’t passed. Sports analogy alert: it would be like examining park effects to determine why Barry Bonds hits more home runs than Roger Clemens. There may actually be something there to measure, but specialization, at-bats, and steroids dwarf all other considerations.”
How one's heritage is a rough predictor of violence.

Some Gitmo hypocrisy in The Hearings Officer and The Grapes

Senator Claire McAskill, an auditor, can’t do arithmetic

An example of a Douglas Adams world

Republicans work for you, Democrats fight for you. Sums it all up.

A plug for Life For Sudan. Including the single greatest comment ever on my site.

Only if you are interested in the neurological underpinnings of insight. Brodmann Areas 9/10 and 40 /41 and all that.

No Bark.…which was his 7th-grade science project. I no longer care. The one thing I do still carry around resentfully from that whole event is that his project finished fourth, mostly because the judges - including the school secretary - didn't understand his project. The girl who did a really nice vinegar and baking soda volcano finished ahead of him. It's one of my prime examples of how schools favor girls shamelessly. (Fun comments on this one)

Linguistics discussion Hey, Toro, Toro, including that immediate turn-off to my oldest son, the dreaded phrase "Indo-European."
The Proto-Indo-European (PIE) contructions *penkwe (five – think “pente,” or “quinque” in Latin and Greek), *pnkwstis (fist), and *penkweros (finger) sure look related, and few would doubt that there is an earlier root which gave rise to all of them. In the equally ancient language families which bordered PIE (Uralic and Altaic, the ancestor languages to Finnish, Hungarian, Turkish), the roots for fist or palm of hand are suspiciously similar: *peyngo and *p’aynga. Penkwe-peyngo-paynga. Looks awfully related to me.
and a followup.
But there aren't supposed to be any observable earlier reconstructions beyond the Indo-European, according to most linguists. The linguistic distance is supposed to be too great, and all such connections unreliable.

Except that it's pretty clear, isn't it? One more small point that Greenberg and Ruhlen are right.


jlbussey said...

Tolkien chicken link doesn't work. But I do like the Douglas Adams link!


Assistant Village Idiot said...

Fixed. Thanks

Julia Riber Pitt said...

Just wondering, but are you in NH because of the loose gun laws? That's one of the only things I like about living here, even though I've never owned a gun myself.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

JRP - No, I've lived here most of my life, except for four years in college and a few early years in MA. Never owned a gun. As I am quite clumsy, the family would have to be very hard pressed before my holding a firearm created a net gain in safety for us.

I was very happy to get out of NH and go someplace more cosmopolitan in 1971, believing us to be quite provincial and backward. I was quite happy to come back four years later, mostly for reasons of nostalgia. I had much more elevated and thoughtful-sounding reasons at the time, but those were largely rationalizations.

I stayed because we have excellent friends here, and my sons had good people in their lives growing up - which became especially important when we adopted two from Romania, and now that we have inherited a fifth son/nephew due to family abandonment. At 57, I count that as a greater treasure than most other things we describe as "wealth."