tortoise: (Default)
2009-04-22 01:39 am

on word usage

In my idiolect:
-cognoscente="one who, as the result of their elite powers of taste and specialized knowledge, serves as an arbiter of quality in some field"
-connoisseur="one who, as the result of their elite powers of taste and specialized knowledge, is able to deeply appreciate high-quality examples of some field"

Of course, this is kind of silly; etymologically speaking they're exactly the same word. Is it uniquely silly to me, or do other people see these connotations as well?

(Unrelatedly, I learned tonight that I apparently had a nemesis in high school. Who knew?)
tortoise: (Default)
2009-04-20 03:11 pm

a thought, inspired by the debit card that I just got mailed

What is the advantage of using a voice-recognition system for card-activation hotlines?

I can maybe understand using such a system when the desired input is a question or something, at least if it's smart enough. I could also understand it if anyone still used rotary phones. But it seems to me that, at this point, inputing digits of strings over a phone line is a solved problem, and all the voice-activation does is increase the risk of error and create a potential security risk.
tortoise: (Default)
2009-04-10 01:42 am

a few scattered thoughts on disc 1 of "An Age of Kings" (Richard II and half of Henry IV, part 1)

1. The Richard II bits really seemed to push the idea that York and Richard are very similar people, or at least spun the same number on the Wheel of Tragic Flaws.
2. I've had the game of "try to match characters from Shakespeare's histories to their equivalents in Buffy" in the back of my head for a while. I realized tonight that Richard II is Andrew.
3. Sean Connery plays Hotspur in exactly the way you'd expect him to. It's fun.
4. It framed "I do, I will" as an apology, which I thought was really neat.
tortoise: (Default)
2009-04-08 02:56 am

sadly, battle_of_wit is basically dead

I'd just like to say, dear old chum,
That I seem to have eaten your plum.
You were saving it, yes?
Forgive me, I guess.
So cold and delicious! Yum yum!
tortoise: (Default)
2009-04-03 12:19 pm

dear lazyweb,

I want to make the OS X spellchecker forget that "basically" is a word. The standard interface doesn't let you make it forget words that show up by default--only words that you added. Is the default dictionary kicking around as a text file somewhere (if it is, I'm pretty sure it's not named anything containing the strings "words" or "dict" [ETA: unless it is]), or do I just have to suck it?
tortoise: (Default)
2009-04-01 06:07 pm

attention everyone

This post is an April Fool's joke, and therefore is not true.
tortoise: (Default)
2009-03-30 11:05 pm

I am obviously a horrible person

...because I find this to be absolutely hilarious.

(In the comments to Scalzi's blog post, someone brings up the idea of an omnibus edition, reminding me of that time in college when we calculated the mass and volume of a mole of textbooks.)
tortoise: (Default)
2009-03-19 07:02 pm

meta overload!

There needs to be fanfiction based on this story.
tortoise: (Default)
2009-03-14 01:59 pm

(no subject)

Happy Pi Day, everyone!
tortoise: (Default)
2009-03-09 06:43 pm

stupid declension question for people who actually know inflected languages

What case would one be likely to use to translate "about"? In particular, if you were translating "talk about things", how would "things" be inflected? It sounds dativesque, but then how is it distinguished from "talk to things"?

(I'm actually trying to translate stuff into Quenya, but presumably answers from real languages will be useful...)
tortoise: (Default)
2009-03-06 05:58 pm

bad jokes and other undeleted nonsense

According to wikipedia: "The earliest description [of unicorns by a Greek natural historian] is from Ctesias who described them as wild asses, fleet of foot, having a horn a cubit and a half in length and colored white, red and black."

Yes, apparently the ancient Greeks were under the impression that unicorns were newspapers.

(Or maybe zebras in blenders.)
tortoise: (Default)
2009-02-25 07:24 am

(no subject)

This is pretty nifty. I'm wondering if my kitchen is particularly appetizer-centric, or if that's just the way their database is balanced. (I get 118 starters, 32 entrees, and 22 desserts.)

I almost think, though, that this is an instance where the internet search is beside the point. I mean, I would pay a reasonable amount of money for a CD that let me apply that algorithm to The Joy of Cooking or its equivalent. On the one hand, the websites they crawl have more recipes in their databases than The Joy of Cooking; on the other, quality control is useful, as is being able to uniformize the way you deal with ingredients. The site seems to do pretty well with that, but it's not perfect--I'm certainly not going to use my chicken breasts in a "hearts and gizzards" recipe, or an actual orange in a recipe that calls for orange soda.

It also fails pretty gracefully when you're only missing one thing, and the shopping list cloud is a useful tool even if you don't get any actual hits. On some level the thing to wonder about is how much of the additional stuff in a user-submitted database consists of genuinely distinct recipes, and how much of it is trivial variations on a theme (one of which might happen to match your ingredient list, but if you got your database from Joy it would tell you "you have everything you need except canola oil", and you could notice that you had olive oil instead).

[[ETA: Also, there are four ingredients which it doesn't let you type in, because it just assumes that you'll have them. Interestingly, I don't have one of them.]]
tortoise: (Default)
2009-02-18 03:09 pm

the secret revealed

Dick Cheney is actually Zeppo Marx!

(Also, Bill Clinton is Archie. And I think I knew Norm Coleman in high school.)
tortoise: (Default)
2009-02-16 03:23 pm

In which, if it were to summarize the prodigious revelations of which it speaks, the title would...

have to be as long as the chapter itself, contrary to usage.

Oh, Eco. Why are you so awesome?
tortoise: (Default)
2009-02-14 10:18 pm


Roughly one English letter in twenty-five is an L.

This makes trying to anagram a 120-letter text that only contains one L really annoying.

Maybe I should wait until Christmas?
tortoise: (Default)
2009-01-31 08:40 pm

Dear brain,

"All Along the Watchtower" is not "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Moreover, neither of them use the "Folia" bass line. Please remember this.

No love,
tortoise: (Default)
2009-01-31 12:17 am

the Planet Earth drinking game (a work in progress as I've only seen three episodes so far...)

-When a new group of charismatic megafauna is introduced.
--Twice if it's a bear emerging from hibernation with cubs.
-When something is referred to as "the most X in the world".
--Twice if the comparison is ridiculously specialized and/or impossible to measure ("the most social otters in the world")
-When, during a predator-prey chase, the predator is mentioned as being superior in one attribute while the prey is superior in another.
-For each shot of light refracting through mist or fog over a forest.
-For each time-lapse shot.
-When the appearance of a predator is marked by the Ominous Music of Ominousness.
-When you notice the music attempting to correspond to the part of the world being portrayed (pentatonic scales in China, salsa in the Amazon, etc.)
-Twice whenever David Attenborough pronounces "avalanche" with a nasalized French a.
tortoise: (Default)
2009-01-21 06:36 pm

a question for anyone who's read more than one Ringworld book

Does Niven ever address the factor-of-two difference in insolation that remains even after he arranges for it to be night half the time?