24 May 2012

Internet Link Sausages Flavored With Neepery

Mister Neil says stuff that recent graduates (and not-so-recent graduates) need to hear, even if they don't want to... I just waited to post this until perhaps the host wouldn't be getting slammed so much. If that looks like a blank box to the right, just click in the middle of it — Vimeo's "stills" and use of <iframe>s don't play nice with all browser and security settings.

  • Is English spelling merely a mess, an "insult to human intelligence," or a charming class-based means of determining who is a native speaker? Two books reviewed in the TLS recently struggle with the question and eventually answer "maybe." What I really look forward to is a study that integrates such mere foibles as "spelling" with both formal grammar and syntax, and does so without becoming bogged down in alternate meanings of "translation" and pontificating on the meaning of "esp." in a dictionary. I suppose it beats being a French politician whose very name tells Arab speakers in certain former French colonial territories that he's a dick — but not by much, since, as a French politician, that's almost certainly personality onomatopoeia anyway.
  • Might sufficiently advanced aliens be treated as gods? Leaving Cortes's experience in Central America aside — and not trying to pretend that the plethora of science fiction novels that struggles with the question is by any means definitive — I have to give this one a definite tentative hypothetical maybe. I suspect that the key is not how advanced the aliens are, but how self-confident the "less-advanced" civilization is. Consider how the Amish might have greeted Cortes...
  • Just like commercial publishing through media conglomerates, the "average" earnings through self-publishing are meaningless... without further defining what one means by "average." Even the geometric and arithmetic means are wildly different! My point is that Amanda Hocking is not a business model: She is a lottery winner. Comparison to the slightly more developed/mature market in cell phone apps reinforces this conclusion.

    The same goes for industry segments, industries, and perhaps entire national economies: One does not plan for future success based on winning the lottery at some future point. A large corporation might, but only might. A government cannot, because its least favorable survivable excursion (to borrow a concept from the Monte Carlo branch of game theory) does not allow for bankruptcy...

  • I propose being just a little bit more restrictive than the esteemed Dictator-and-President-for-Life of SFWA, John Scalzi, in explaining who plays Life in America at the lowest difficult setting. It's not all straight white males, it's straight Christo-Euro white males with no visible disabilities. Not everyone with pale skin is "Caucasian," or treated that way (remember the mid-nineteenth-century meme that Irish immigrants weren't "white"?); consider, for example, Armenians, Aryan-extract Persians, and Ashkenazim... and that's just some of the As. Similarly, a visible disability — a post-polio wheelchair, a veteran's missing hand, a Tourette's tic and outbursts — definitely moves one off the lowest difficulty setting.

    Yes, they're quibbles. I think they're important quibbles, but then I am an Intellectual... with family members, friends, clients, former subordinates and colleagues, etc. who don't play Life in America on the lowest difficulty level, and pretty uniformly at that.