Saturday, January 19, 2013

Rational [chat]-Interest

Mom:  I don't like shopping at Wal-Mart, but the prices are so much cheaper.  How can I not shop there?

Me:  Well, you recognize that the prices are lower as a result of their exploiting human beings.  For example, they deny most of their employees health insurance, and so increase suffering.  So, you shop other places in order to decrease your contribution to human suffering.

Mom:  And we need to spread money around, because if Wal-Mart doesn't have any competition their prices will go up!

Me:  ...well, yes.  There's that, too.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Make that 13 wonderful words with no English equivalent

Found via Boing Boing this wonderful article about 14 wonderful words with no English equivalent.  Most of them are wonderful.  Most of them have no English equivalent (I have to assume, given that my Tagalog etc are terrible).  I feel tartle pretty often, so I'm glad to know the Scots know what I'm going through.

But I'm kind of held up on the Japanese contribution on #9: Koi no Yokan (恋の予感).  To quote the article, this is "The sense upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall in love."  Wonderful.  How wonderful that Japan has a word for that and English doesn't.

But I'm held up on this because, "yokan" itself is a word.  It means something like "premonition".  And "koi" is a word, too.  It's often used to mean "love".  Then there's the "no" that connects them, which is a fucking particle marking genitive case.  It is something you put between words to make it clear how those words are supposed to work together within the phrase you are probably in the process of making.

So this "word", quite literally, means "love's premonition", or a bit more gracefully "premonition of love".  The problem is that it's composed of three distinct morphemes hung together syntactically to mean some shit.  Does that a make a word, or does that make it a phrase?

Also, does English really not have a phrase that does the same job as koi no yokan?  We don't know about "love at first sight"?  Look, if you hyphenate it "love-at-first-sight" you can even pretend it's a word.


Mistaken Paul Krugman

After Jon Stewart made some jokes about the Platinum Coin, Paul Krugman took to his blog and said some shit in a post entitled 'Lazy Jon Stewart'. He accused Stewart of a "lack of professionalism", then Stewart replied, and the internet played another round of everyone's favorite game show: Is Jon Stewart a Journalist?

So, let's go ahead and settle this right now. Jon Stewart is not a journalist. He is a comedian. These are different professions.

Journalists report news, for the sake of informing the public.
Comedians talk about current events, for the sake of making jokes.

The problem is that persons playing this game routinely fail to grasp that fundamental distinction between journalists and comics. They want to blur the line, for reasons not articulated. Another problem is that persons sometimes do what Krugman did in his post: They play the sposta game:

"Yes, it’s a comedy show — but the jokes are supposed to be (and usually are) knowing jokes,"

1) "Supposed to be"
2) "usually are"

To 1: Who the fuck said that? One would think that the number of dick / taint jokes in any given episode would negate any notion that TDS is fundamentally predicated upon telling "knowing jokes", that they're "supposed to" do that.

To 2: I realize Krugman is an economist, so his wheelhouse is inductions, speculative probability, and outright contradiction, but despite his professional inclinations he seems intelligent enough to know that "X is usually the case" does not somehow entail X always being the case, or that X "ought to" or "SPOSTA" be the case.

Then there's this:

"And it makes no sense at all to talk about any of this without the context of extortion and confrontation."

It does if one's primary goal is to make jokes, you dunce.

I realize that many people get their news from The Daily Show. That's fine. But this does not require that the folks at The Daily Show pretend to be journalists; it does not posit an obligation onto them. If a wealth of children flock to an ice cream truck and demand booze, we don't consider the ice cream vendor to have failed in his task. He's selling ice cream, and the children are being stupid by expecting booze. Jon Stewart is a comic, a joke vendor.

If Krugman flocks to TDS and demands nuanced articulations of economic policy, he seems to be mistaken about what TDS is.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dr. Leo Spaceman: Series Wrap!

Thanks for the Memories, Dr. Spaceman.