Monday, 2017 February 20, 12:02 — language

the death of English, part MMXVII


Like much of the news that ekes its way out of the totalitarian state, the murder is equal parts scary, sad, and vaguely comical.

I don’t think I had seen this extension of eke before.

Once upon a time, eke meant ‘also’; a relic of that sense is the word nickname, from an eke-name. (The transfer of the n from the article to the root was, I guess, favored by the alliteration.)

The phrase eke out a living meant ‘to supplement a fixed stipend’, as in The village priest eked out his meager living (i.e., the pay he got as priest) by making and selling strawberry jam. I guess that sense went away when the noun living itself got a broader sense; if your ‘living’ is your whole income, however obtained, you don’t add to it.

So eke out (a living, or anything else) came to mean ‘obtain with difficulty’.

Information or water can be said to ‘find’ a way out of its container, but it seems a bit much to suggest that it does so with effort.

Wednesday, 2017 February 8, 20:20 — merch

Klein bagel, mark N

I’ve had other designs made in steel but not this one. (The sintering leaves the steel highly porous, so liquid bronze is brought in by capillary action to fill it; the result is about three parts steel to two parts bronze – if I understand right. Hence the color.) (Later: I was mistaken: the steel powder is not sintered but glued; the bronze presumably burns away the glue.)

While it was on its way to me, I thought of some improvements. ( . . more . . )

Saturday, 2017 January 7, 21:52 — economics, politics

what, more links?

Hm, the first two links here have been lying around for five years; guess I ought to shove them out.

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry on restructuring the banks

“Zomia”, a large region in Asia that was effectively stateless until recently

James Leroy Wilson on The Limits of Utilitarianism. The payoff is near the bottom.

Thursday, 2017 January 5, 22:36 — cinema, psychology

exporting transcendence

In the film and TV series Limitless, a drug makes the protagonist temporarily super-intelligent.

In the episodes I’ve seen, it’s not established whether any skills learned with the drug remain when it wears off. I imagine that you’d want to try to develop ways to improve your unenhanced intelligence; in other words, to teach your alter-ego to learn better.

Later: In the third episode he behaves so stupidly that I lost interest.

Thursday, 2017 January 5, 00:01 — blogdom

one way

Since I had this site changed to HTTPS by default, comments don’t work. I’ll, ah, look into it.

Sunday, 2017 January 1, 15:59 — spam

strange spurts

In a period of 41 seconds on December 21, this site got hits purportedly following links from 75 different pages on, 21 on, 21 on, 21 on, 20 on, 18 on *, 17 on, 16 on, 13 on, and 10 pages on 5 other sites.

And then in 33 seconds on December 26: 57 pages on, 21 on, 20 on, 14 on, 13 on, 11 on, 9 on, 8 on, 8 on, 7 on, and 63 pages on 38 other sites.

No site appears in both of these clusters. Some are obvious spammers; some are genuine blogs; fourteen are small Picasa galleries, with no outgoing links.

The requests came from 99 different addresses; again none are in both clusters.

Later: When I finished examining my referral log for December, I decided it’s no longer worthwhile, particularly since Google usually doesn’t tell me what the search string was.

Saturday, 2016 December 17, 13:40 — cinema, prose

Use of Symbols

In Marvel/Netflix Daredevil episode 11 “The Path of the Righteous”, [spoiler] drugs [spoiler] and takes her to a secret place. When she wakes up, he sits facing her and puts a large pistol on the table between them, “to get [her] undivided attention.” After he has made his demands and threats, his phone rings: a call that he cannot ignore. She takes advantage of his momentary distraction to grab the gun. He scoffs: “Do you think I’d put a loaded weapon within your reach?”

I thought of a scene in Randall Garrett’s “Lord Darcy” stories. Someone asks the forensic magician Sean O Lochlainn, “If you’re not going to cut anything, why are you sharpening that knife?” Master Sean replies, “The best symbol for a thing is the thing itself. This knife represents a sharp knife. I have another one that represents a dull knife.”

What, then, would be the symbolism of putting an empty gun on the table?

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