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Tuesday, 2017 May 23, 16:19 — cinema, language

questions of emphasis

In Sherlock episode “The Lying Detective”, the phrase serial killer is uttered many times, always stressing the first word – as if the second were a given, even when (for the speakers) any killings are hypothetical. That impaired my enjoyment of a generally well-written episode. (Well, much better-written than its neighbors.)

I’ve noticed the phenomenon before: when a phrase becomes a fixed lexeme, many people, perhaps most, are deaf to its components. For my ex, the phrase beef jerky was in such perfect union that she often said “turkey beef-jerky”. Not Always Right has occasional tales of restaurant workers and customers for whom the arbitrary name “bacon lettuce & tomato sandwich” does not imply the presence of bacon.

Friday, 2017 March 17, 21:31 — language, prose

a sort of conlang

I’m re-reading Strugatsky‘s Hard to Be a God. (I read it thirty-odd years ago and forgot nearly everything.) This is a newer translation, by Olena Bormashenko. At one point the protagonist eavesdrops on conspirators, who say:

“The chonted will shlake, and they’ll unbiggedly shump the margays with a hollow blackery. That’s twenty long heapers already. It’d be marky to knork the motleners. But the heapers are bedegging redderly. This is how we’ll heaten the rasten. That’s our struntle.”

“That’s tooky jelly.”

“This is our struntle. Denooting with us isn’t rastenly for your grawpers. It’s revided?”

Though I know only a few words of Russian, I would like to see the original of this passage!

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.

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?

Sunday, 2016 February 28, 15:57 — cartoons

cross-drafting

Gail Simone asks:

Question of the day: if you could have one piece of art drawn by any living comics artist, not to sell, what artist and what character?

I haven’t followed (paper) comics in a long time, but several possibilities come to mind; in rough order of seriousness:

  • Churchy & Owl (from Pogo) by Bill Watterson
  • Adam Warlock and Gamora by Walt Simonson
  • … with Thanos by Kate Beaton
  • Dr Strange by R Crumb
  • the Bat-family by Dorothy Gambrell
  • Cheech Wizard by Dave Sim
Monday, 2016 January 4, 12:55 — prose

Neptune’s Gulch

In Atlas Shrugged, John Galt invented a radical new engine and (according to folklore) emigrated to Atlantis to keep his invention out of the hands of parasites.

Charles Stross’s novel Neptune’s Brood is about uncovering the true history of the Atlantis colony, which gathered an unusual concentration of talent before suddenly going silent. Some say that Atlantis was working on a FTL drive, which happens to be a motif in a perennial scam. Was Atlantis never more than a Potemkin village, bait for investors? Or, on the other extreme, was it destroyed because the FTL project succeeded?

Once or twice before, I’ve asked Charlie whether he intended an allusion and he said ha, no, I didn’t notice that, so I won’t assume that the name “Atlantis” (which is unrelated to the Neptune of the title) is a poke at Rand. It’s funny either way.

Monday, 2016 January 4, 11:01 — cartoons, technology

I’ve seen such changes

How old do you need to be to understand this gag from 1978?

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