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Comment Verbose APL (Score 1) 492

Agreed the verboseness argument is bogus, otherwise the whole debate would consist of COBOL people on one side, and APL people on the other. They are at opposite ends of the spectrum of verboseness, and both languages largely suck, but for different reasons.

Semi-serious question:

What happens if you use the --verbose command-line option with an APL program?

Granted, the option affects the output at runtime, while APL is the language the program is coded in -- I'm not that confused. But it got me to wondering. :)

Comment Slashdot incompetence (Score 2) 346

> See also #3.

Sorry, you wanted the numbers rendered on your ordered list? Wrong site.

Yeah, I can't imagine why they did that, either.

What is going on here with the lists? Who at Slashdot thought that non-list lists made any kind of sense? How do Slashcode devs not understand the effects of list-style-type: none;? Why does this persist?

Perhaps more salient, why are we, as ostensible tech geeks, not raising more of a fuss about a site that many think represents computer geek-ness, and yet that cannot implement sane (and relatively simple) CSS?

Comment No, you've got it all wrong (Score 1) 217

YMMV, but in my experience, you only need 2 verb tenses ... to be "yourself" in another language...

That would explain why Chinese is so difficult then -- not enough tenses. How can you be yourself in a language that only has one tense?!?

No, you've got it all wrong -- Chinese with its simplified verbs is much more relaxing to speak. How can you be yourself when speaking any language that is two-tense, or even more?


Comment Stupid blatzing slashcode (Score 1) 217

Note: "school" in Japanese should have been rendered as gakk, not just gakk. Even better, it should be rendered with a macron (overbar) on the "o" instead, to indicate a long "o". For those interested about what long vowels are in Japanese, see the Wikipedia article on the "mora" in linguistics.

Comment Japanese is a bit odder than that, grammar-wise (Score 1) 217

Japanese is Subject-(wa)-object-(predicate), with verb terminator. You have wo and ga following direct and indirect objects; vocalized punctuation from ka and ne; and context-implied elements ("Run!" instead of "You run!" because no shit I mean you).

Japanese particles have no strong correlation to anything much in English. They are grammatically important words, vaguely similar in function to English prepositions. Sometimes particles might be like conjunctions (to is kinda like "and"), sometimes they might be like punctuation (ka on the end is a verbal question mark), sometimes they have no good translation (wa marks topic, or contrastive subject).

FWIW, wa is more often considered a topic marker than a subject marker. Samples:

Watashi wa gakk ni ikimasu.

I [topic] school to go. > I go to school. -- basic topic is "I", which fits as subject in the English.

Watashi wa unagi desu.

I [topic] eel is/am/are. > I am an eel. -- basic topic is "I", which definitely doesn't fit as subject in the English here. A proper translation would be more like:

As for me, it'll be the eel. > I'll have the eel. -- such as when asked for one's order at a restaurant.

The particle ga is closer to a subject marker in function. For instance, Watashi ga unagi desu could only be interpreted to mean "I am an eel." Meanwhile, ni is vaguely like indirect object.

And, as you note, Japanese is incredibly more context-dependent than English. Oftentimes, anything that can be omitted from a sentence will be omitted, particularly anything that is clear from context, that has been previously established in the text or conversation or what-have-you. This makes Japanese into English interpretation a real bitch -- your example of "no shit I mean XXX" can get really tricky. If you miss the first part of what someone says, and you've lost the thread, you're absolutely hosed. English grammatically demands a lot more context-providing words, even when we think we're omitting detail. He's going to the store could be rendered in Japanese as just Ikimasu (go/goes/going/will go), if the context allows -- we don't even have the gender of the subject here in Japanese, making it much harder to try to guess.

More on topic to the greater thread, I've studied both Mandarin and Japanese, and I found Mandarin *much* easier to wrap my head around. Mandarin is a kind of language called an analytic language -- words are pretty broken down, even more than English, with no inflectional endings like "-ing" or "-s" or "-ed" etc. for tense, and no differences in a single word for singular or plural, that kind of thing. It's very streamlined in some ways. The Mandarin word mi can mean "buy", or "bought", or "will buy", without the need for different tenses -- tense is supplied by context, such as adding in the word for "today" or "tomorrow".

Japanese, meanwhile, is a very synthetic language -- words are glommed together with other elements to express different things like active/passive and adjectives, or even basics like tense or social context. One fun example is highly infected verb-based forms in Japanese, like saserareyasukattanda, which means "it's the case that he/she/it/they was/were easily made to do [something]".

Social context in Japanese is very important, kinda like Spanish vs. usted or French tu vs. vous, only on steroids and totally whacked out. Just looking at tense and social context in Japanese, the English terms "go" or "will go" can be variously expressed by the Japanese iku ("go" when talking to friends or familiars; present and future tense in Japanese are generally the same), ikimasu ("go" when talking in less-familiar social contexts), mairimasu ("go" when talking to someone else about oneself in a formal context), irasshaimasu ("go' when talking about someone else in a formal context). Then there are different permutations of each of these for negatives (ikanai, ikimasen, mairimasen, irasshaimasen), past affirmatives (itta, ikimashita, mairimashita, irasshaimashita), past negatives (ikanakatta, ikimasen deshita, mairimasen deshita, irasshaimasen deshita). And depending on grammatical construction, the formal forms might instead be mairu, irassharu; mairanai, irassharanai; maitta, irasshatta; mairanakatta, irassharanakatta. And that's not getting into the fact that mairu and related forms can instead mean "come", and irassharu can mean "come" or even just "be".

Just using this "go" example, Mandarin is much easier: that whole grammatical construct in Mandarin can collapse down to just [] ([not] go).

As far as I'm concerned, Mandarin is the easier language.

Comment Where are you in town? (Score 1) 533

I'm getting 65 Meg down and 12 Meg up on my commiecast connection in Seattle... we pay for 50/10...

...That said, they had to come out and work on the lines, as before we were lucky to get 12 Meg down and 5 Meg up...

Just tangentially, it sounds like people living in the parts of town where the previous mayor was talking about implementing municipal broadband all got upgraded infrastructure, probably as the ISP majors tried to argue that municipal broadband wasn't needed. In contrast, I'm in Northgate, still reasonably dense and still well within in the city limits, but our neighborhood was outside of the areas marked for municipal broadband rollout -- and I'm still stuck with 4 down / 1.5 up.


Comment 1) Your map isn't Europe. 2) Size doesn't matter. (Score 2) 533

Not all of us think that. Some of us think "Puny European Countries". Have you seen an overlay of Europe verses the USA?

Have you seen a map of Europe? All of it, I mean. I have. Your map sure doesn't look like it. Apparently Poland is no longer European? Or Hungary? Or Finland? Etc.

Here's a slightly better example. Just eyeballing, it looks like all of Europe together (including places like Greece and Romania and Finland, etc.) is probably bigger than the lower 48 states of the US.

And please, stop with that ridiculous "population density" canard. Finland has better broadband than the US. Iceland has better broadband than the US. Former Soviet Bloc countries Bulgaria and Romania have better broadband than the US. Heck, even Utah has better broadband than most of the rest of the US, and Utah isn't exactly known as a cheek-by-jowl, high-population center. I live in Seattle, within the city limits in a reasonably dense part of town, and I can only wish I had a 50mbps symmetric up-down connection for $70 a month. Instead, the best deal I could find was an entry-level business plan bundled with phone service at 4mbps down / 1.5mbps up, for roughly $125 a month. Laughably bad, painfully expensive, infuriatingly limited.

The key common thread in the success cases is that the major ISPs don't get to dictate broadband policy. Population density and size of the country pretty much has jack shit to do with the issue (unless you want to go into meta-arguments about the size and density of a polity and how that impacts public policy).


Comment The joys (and problems) of romaji (Score 4, Interesting) 143

Or, because its a Japanese module it is a word in their language. I don't know, something like "Hope".

Depending on how it's spelled in Japanese, it could be tons of different words.

Looking just at how it's spelled in romaji (the Roman alphabet), Kibo has no macron over the "o", which, strictly speaking, means a short "o" value. (Instead of syllabic stress as used in English, Japanese uses a concept called a "mora" by linguists, referring to the time length of a sound.)

(Also, because Slashcode is still not unicode-compliant, and is fundamentally US-centric, I'm using the ^ circumflex over vowels instead of the overbar macron, which Slashcode just eats and refuses to display.)

Kibo with a short "o" could mean:

  • one's youngest aunt
  • the size, scale, or scope of a thing
  • the Buddhist divinity Hârîtî, sometimes viewed as a goddess of childbirth and children
  • a family's death register

Meanwhile, kibô with a long "o" could mean:

  • hope
  • something planned and hoped for
  • a plan, planning
  • a deadly crisis, a critical moment
  • an unusual or wild plan
  • prayerful hope
  • the sixteenth night of a lunar month
  • starving poverty
  • a devilishly clever plan or plot
  • the fourteenth night of a lunar month
  • hopeful anticipation
  • deception, glamour
  • slander, blame, strong criticism
  • a plan to ensnare or entrap someone
  • a shortage or deficiency after running out of something

This range of meanings for the Japanese word kibo or kibô is almost silly, it's so broad. I hope this might begin to explain why written Japanese still uses kanji (Chinese characters) -- all of the above meanings that fall under one or two romaji spellings are each spelled differently when written in kanji.

Anyway, for the satellites, I'm pretty sure the intended meaning must clearly be youngest aunt. Or maybe it's a plan to ensnare or entrap someone? :-P


Comment Reference missed? (Score 1) 199

Our entire government seems to think the constitution can be superseded by any other law whatsoever, as if the constitution being the highest law of the land doesn't actually overrule anything that contradicts it. It's as if the constitution is completely meaningless. Sigh.

Stop throwing the constitution in our faces, it's just a goddamned piece of paper.

we will stop throwing it in your face when you fucking understand that it is the law of the land and NOTHING superceeds it, no matter how much you totalitarians want it to

I may be wrong here, but I believe that kelemvor4's comment was in reference to a purported quote of George W. Bush, wherein Bush was snappily replying to GOP leaders who suggested that what Bush proposed doing was unconstitutional. It seems that the quote might be apocryphal.


Comment H-S shift between Greek and Latin (Score 1) 465

Much as Budgenator said, the haline in thermohaline refers to salt.

There is a common pattern in some words with Greek and Latin roots, where the Greek will start with H while the Latin starts with S. So it is here with haline (Greek root) and saline (Latin root).

Other examples include Greek hyper and Latin super ("over, above" -- remember that the Y in Greek roots was often pronounced more like an ü, and not like the /ai/ sound of English eye or hyper), Greek hypo and Latin sub ("under, beneath"), Greek hept- and Latin sept- ("seven").


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