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Lionel Mandrake

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: The Left Coast
Home country: USA
Current location: electrical wires
Member since: Sun Jul 1, 2007, 06:47 PM
Number of posts: 3,990

About Me

I study, play the piano, play chess and go, and enjoy the company of my wife, children, grandchildren, other relatives, and friends. I am a perennial student at a school where they let me attend classes and use the library for free (because I'm old). My serious reading includes math, science, history, and biography. I enjoy science fiction and mysteries, which my wife and I refer to as "mind rot". And now on to politics. I hated Nixon and Reagan. I think W is a war criminal and was easily the worst president in US history until Trump came along. Trump and Sessions should be tried for having separated small children from their parents, which was a crime against humanity. I will support any candidate who is a "dove". I support "plan B" without prescription for girls of all ages. I support free abortion on demand, without delay, and without the requirement to notify anyone, for all women and girls who want it. I think it's time to repeal the Bush/Trump tax cuts for corporations and the very rich.

Journal Archives

How do I get rid of this annoying feature on YouTube?

Right now I'm listening Murray Perahia playing Bach's English Suites on a YouTube channel. I'd like to see all the accompanying text, but most of it is covered up by crap that says "Up next" and "Autoplay". Is there a way I can get rid ot this Autoplay crap?
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Fri Dec 11, 2020, 03:06 PM (3 replies)

Mac Mail opens itself up,

even when there is no unread mail. This is annoying. Is there a way to fix this?
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Mon Nov 2, 2020, 06:04 AM (4 replies)

"Silent Witness" on Amazon Prime

This British procedural lasted for over twenty seasons. Actors and characters come and go, but the show is always about a team of forensic pathologists gleaning clues from dead bodies, many of which are murder victims. As in any soap opera, the principal characters are a family you grow familiar with. In one episode, I heard a song I liked:
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Fri Aug 28, 2020, 05:57 PM (9 replies)

"Freud" on Netflix

This German-language series (with English subtitles) has lots of goodies: sex, violence, nudity, more sex, more violence, ... . It's engrossing, but historically inaccurate in the extreme. Kids might want to program their entertainment centers so parents can't watch.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Wed Jul 15, 2020, 06:28 PM (7 replies)

history of science and astrology

I get pissed off every time I see the astrology column in my daily newspaper. However, my attitude toward astrology is tempered by an enthusiasm for its history.

Why would I care about the history of such nonsense? That's a fairly long story. Those with short attention spans may not wish to read further.

As a physicist, I am naturally interested in the history of my subject, which is all tangled up with the history of mathematics and astronomy. Of course I am interested in the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, including the work of Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton. All but the first and last scientists on this list were court astrologers.

The king of Denmark supported Tycho Brahe's career as an astronomer only because Tycho's meticulous observations of stars and planets would supposedly lead to better horoscopes.

Galileo and Kepler were also expected to cast horoscopes in the regions (not yet nations) of Italy and Germany, respectively. Around the turn of the 17th century, Kepler landed a job as Tycho's assistant at Prague, in the court of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II. Tycho gave Kepler his observations of the planet Mars to play with. When Tycho died (1601), Kepler became his successor as Imperial Court Mathematician. The Mars data were crucial for Kepler's subsequent discovery that planets move in elliptical orbits. And that discovery led to Newton's law of gravitation.

To summarize: if it weren't for astrology, Kepler and Newton would never have made their most important discoveries.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Tue Jul 7, 2020, 08:56 PM (10 replies)

Sad news of the death of the distinguished scientist Robert M. May.

Robert M. May fought for better teaching of evolution and climate change in classrooms. His opponents, of course, were Christian fundamentalists who demonized Charles Darwin. May's obituary on the NCSE website is well worth reading:
https://ncse.ngo/robert-m-may-physicist-turned-ecologist-dies-84
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Fri May 8, 2020, 02:42 PM (3 replies)

Is the 2019 Mac Pro just vaporware?

The local Apple Store doesn't have a single 2019-model Mac Pro on display. They're still pushing the coffee cans. I have to wonder whether the new model is real.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Wed Dec 18, 2019, 01:15 AM (4 replies)

the persistence of syntax

Syntax seems to change more slowly than semantics. For example, modals in English have had about the same syntax for hundreds of years, but what used to be their preterites now have present-tense meanings. The obsolete verb 'mote' meant "must" during (and before) the Early Modern period, and its formerly-preterite form 'must' is all that remains of it. The other modals come in pairs (may/might, can/could, etc.) such that the formerly-preterite forms are often called subjunctive nowadays.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Thu Aug 15, 2019, 05:08 PM (3 replies)

My 1950s miseducation in English.

Growing up in the 1950s, I learned from my various English teachers that shall and will are synonyms, and the proper usage was as follows:

non-emphatic: I or we shall; you will; he, she, it, or they will;
emphatic: I or we will; you shall; he, she, it, or they shall.

But this is bullshit. Nobody speaks or writes this way. In fact, now very few people ever say "shall". (I sometimes say "shall", but I'm a dinosaur.)

Of course my teachers never mentioned the fact that modals come in pairs like "shall, should" and "will, would", nor that syntactically each pair consists of a present and a past form, let alone the fact that syntactically English lacks a future tense. I'm pretty sure my teachers didn't know squat about English syntax.

I also learned that the parts of speech are noun, pronoun, adjective, adverb, verb, preposition, conjunction, and interjection. Notably missing from this list is particle. Particles were rigorously mislabeled adverbs, and no teacher ever mentioned phrasal verbs, which in fact are about half of the verbs you hear in everyday speech. Just consider the following phrasal verbs: take in, take out, take over, take on, take up, take down. Here the words in, out, over, on, up, and down are particles, not adverbs of prepositions.

I also learned to "diagram" sentences, but unlike the tree diagrams that linguists draw, the silly diagrams we drew explained nothing we didn't already know.

I learned that the indefinite article was "an" before a vowel and "a" before a consonant, but not that the definite article was usually pronounced /i/ before a vowel and /ə/ before a consonant, but always /i/ if the emphasis was on the word "the". Of course we didn't need instruction about the pronunciation of "the", because we were already doing it correctly.

In short, most of my English teachers deserved a grade of F- in grammar.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Sun Jul 28, 2019, 01:00 PM (13 replies)

WTF is wrong with YouTube?

I pay them to not show me ads, but I'm getting them anyway - not just at the beginning, but also in the middle of what I am trying to listen to. Has anyone else had this problem?
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Fri Jul 26, 2019, 07:51 PM (3 replies)
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