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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, 05:47 PM
Number of posts: 3,957

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

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, 12:15 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, 04:08 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, 12:00 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, 06:51 PM (3 replies)

Amazon Prime shits all over my TV set

I got a shitty email from Amazon saying:

"Amazon will no longer be supporting the Prime Video app on your VIZIO Smart TV with VIZIO Internet Apps (V.I.A.) as of September 26, 2019. We are continually upgrading our service and this occasionally means we can no longer support certain device models."

Upgrading???? WTF?
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Wed Jul 24, 2019, 09:18 PM (23 replies)

How does an orchestra tune for a piano concerto?

A piano sounds best when the octaves are stretched, so that high notes are perhaps 20 cents sharp, and low notes 20 cents flat, compared to tuning such that an octave is a doubling of frequency. So I'm wondering whether either the orchestra or the piano tuner makes some sort of compromise in its tuning during a performance of a piano concerto. If not, then the bassoon and piccolo, for example, would be noticeably out of tune with the piano.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Mon Jul 22, 2019, 12:25 PM (9 replies)

Herman Cain for the Fed?

Once again, Trump has picked the least qualified person for an important federal job. Trump's nominee for the Federal Reserve Board, Herman Cain, wants to back our money supply with gold. Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times explains why competent economists, both Liberal and Conservative, agree that going back to the gold standard would be a terrible mistake.

Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Sun Apr 7, 2019, 05:43 PM (0 replies)

Today is the Ides of March.

According to Shakespeare, CAIVS IVLIVS CAESAR ignored the soothsayer's warning to "Beware the Ides of March".

He was stabbed to death in the Senate on March 15, 44 BCE.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Fri Mar 15, 2019, 07:05 PM (19 replies)

Getting rid of hyperlinks

The following comments apply when using a desktop computer with macOS.

Sometimes I need to copy some text from a web site. If there are hyperlinks in the text, I usually want to get rid of them. After exhaustive research, I have found a way to do this efficiently.

I start by highlighting the word in question. Then, in most applications, I hit ⌘K, which brings up a window with a box I can check to "remove" the link.

There's an alternative when I'm using the "Pages" word processor: after highlighting the word, I can choose

Formatá> Remove Link.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Sun Mar 3, 2019, 05:14 PM (7 replies)

Some spectral colors are lighter than others.

Spectral colors are the colors of a rainbow. These colors are pure, not washed out, not pastel, not muddy. Yellow is often said to be the lightest. Certainly yellow ink or paint has little contrast with white. Nobody would prefer to read text printed in yellow on white paper. Blue seems darkest, with red and green in between. Why?

One explanation I have heard is that it's all about luminosity, the peak of which is about 555 nm for people with normal color vision. But the color with wavelength 555 nm is not yellow; it's the color called "bright green", which is greener than chartreuse. Furthermore the fact that blue is much darker than red does not show up in a graph of luminosity vs. wavelength. So the question has not been answered in a satisfactory way.

Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Sun Dec 23, 2018, 03:38 PM (4 replies)
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