It makes me so happy. To be at the beginning again, knowing almost nothing. People were talking about the end of physics. Relativity and quantum looked as if they were going to clean out the whole problem between them. A theory of everything. But they only explained the very big and the very small. The universe, the elementary particles. The ordinary-sized stuff which is our Jives, the things people write poetry about—clouds—daffodils—waterfalls—and what happens in a cup of coffee when the cream goes in—these things are full of mystery, as mysterious to us as the heavens were to the Greeks. We’re better at predicting events at the edge of the galaxy or inside the nucleus of an atom than whether it’ll rain on auntie’s garden party three Sundays from now. Because the problem turns out to be different. We can’t even predict the next drip from a dripping tap when it gets irregular. Each drip sets up the conditions for the next, the smallest variation blows prediction apart, and the weather is unpredictable the same way, will always be unpredictable. When you push the numbers through the computer you can see it on the screen. The future is disorder. A door like this has cracked open five or six times since we got up on our hind legs. It’s the best possible time to be alive, when almost everything you thought you knew is wrong.—Tom Stoppard
—from Arcadia: A Play in Two Acts
galore /gə-LORE/. adjective. In large quantity; in abundance. From Irish go leor, from Gaelic gu leòr (to sufficiency).[Read more…]
- Yeet! It’s the first newsletter of the year, which means it’s time for Word(s) of the Year! First, WOTY winners and short lists: American Dialect Society (and nominees), Merriam-Webster’s, Dictionary.com, Collins, Oxford, Cambridge Dictionaries, Australian National Dictionary Centre, LinguiBishes and Geoff Nunberg. ※ Plus, WOTYs in German, Dutch and Japanese. ※ Finally, some grist for the mill on such lists: Language nerds worked really hard on that ‘Words of the Year’ list and Language Jones on the problematic nature of such lists.
- Let the Fountain Pens Flow! is a solid story about the ongoing renaissance of fountain pen use, including some of my favorite pen world personalities.
- The fascinating story of David Maurer, the dean of criminal language.
- The story of Wilson Bentley’s Crystal castles: the first snowflake photos — in pictures is a visually arresting story with a sadly ironic end. Via MR TH.INK which I encourage you to subscribe to. ※ While I’m at it, I discovered the captivating, and occasionally terrifying, profile The Whalers’ Odyssey in that wonderful newsletter too.
- The Mind is a Collection is a “born-digital museum of early-modern cognitive models.” ※ The Mind is a Metaphor is a “collection of eighteenth-century metaphors of mind.”
- RIP Bob Einstein. Many know him best as ► Super Dave and he appeared on all kinds of media since those days, where he inevitably stole the show. Others will remember him as Curb Your Enthusiasm regular Marty Funkhouser, where he provided one of my ► favorite (and most profane, definitely NSFW) tv comedy moments of all time.
- A look at children texting with (often solely) emoji and digital-age language learning. ※ See also: Teenage Girls Have Led Language Innovation for Centuries.
- “Copyrights, patents and trademarks are all important, but the term ‘intellectual property’ is nonsensical and pernicious.” I couldn’t agree more (convince me I’m wrong)!
- I’m “152: Emotions & senses” — Which Dewey Decimal Number Are You?
- Today in 1987, astronomers report witnessing the birth of a galaxy for the first time. The New York Times described the event as “detecting evidence that perhaps a billion suns ignited within a huge gas cloud 71 billion trillion miles from Earth.” Given the evocative name Radio Galaxy 3C 326, this area would later yield photos of one galaxy, 3C 326 North, “stealing” gases from its smaller neighbor, 3C 326 South. Incidentally, a “billion trillion” is also known as a sextillion (1 followed by 21 zeros) and, according to the Light Speed Calculator, light from that galaxy would take more than 170 million years to reach Earth. And in 2010, astronomers asserted that ‘Trillions Of Earths’ Could Be Orbiting 300 Sextillion Stars in our universe, three times as many as previously estimated.
The ► Four Generations meme is so simple and delightful…and joyous.
Janet Greene singing her 60s folk song “Poor Left Winger”.
I’m just a poor left-winger
Befuddled, bewildered, forlorn
Duped by a bearded singer
Peddling his Communist corn
In the Café Expresso…