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Lionel Mandrake

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: The Left Coast
Home country: USA
Current location: electrical wires
Member since: Sun Jul 1, 2007, 06:47 PM
Number of posts: 3,359

About Me

I study, play the piano, play chess and go, and enjoy the company of my wife, children, grandchildren, other relatives, and friends. I am a perennial student at a local university, where they let me take classes and use the library for free (because I'm old). My serious reading includes math, science, history, and biography. I enjoy science fiction and mysteries, which my wife and I refer to as "mind rot". And now on to politics. I hated Nixon and Reagan. I think W is a war criminal and was easily the worst president in US history. Thank Darwin he's gone. I will support any candidate who is a "dove". I support "plan B" without prescription for girls of all ages. I support free abortion on demand, without delay, and without the requirement to notify anyone, for all women and girls who want it. I think it's time to repeal the Bush tax cuts for corporations and the very rich. I think other damage done by conservative Supreme Court Justices rivals that done by the monster they put in the White House.

Journal Archives

After watching the TV series "The Killing" I asked what piano piece

Kyle was playing in Season 4. My friend Google answered ...

Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Fri Oct 3, 2014, 07:26 PM (4 replies)

The Blues is everywhere

What do we mean by the blues? Your answer will depend on the types of music you listen to.

If you go to blues clubs, you will expect to hear blue notes, which give the music a certain sweetness.

If you like 1960s rock, you may or may not hear the blues in this tune:

Bent notes, which are mandatory in delta blues and optional in rock, are rare in jazz. What a jazz aficionado calls the blues typically has the same chords, with some variations, as any other blues. Although most blues has mostly major chords, there is such a thing as a minor blues, e.g.:

Occasionally the 12 bar format is changed to 24 bars:

Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Tue Sep 30, 2014, 02:29 PM (18 replies)

What's the best way to backup the hard disk on a Mac Pro?

Should I buy external storage, install another disk, or use iCloud?

Or is there some other way?
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Sun Sep 14, 2014, 10:43 PM (6 replies)

The scientific explanation of tetrachromacy is somewhat involved.

The story goes on to say that

the gene for our red and green cone types lies on the X chromosome. Since women have two X chromosomes, they could potentially carry two different versions of the gene, each encoding for a cone that is sensitive to slightly different parts of the spectrum. In addition to the other two, unaffected cones, they would therefore have four in total – making them a “tetrachromat”. For these reasons, it’s thought to be a condition exclusive to women, though researchers can’t totally rule out the possibility that men may somehow inherit it too.

This is about right, except for the last sentence. (Having only one X chromosome, men could not possibly be tetrachromats.)

The article cited in the OP fails to mention that in each cell in a woman, only one of the X chromosomes is active. Each X chromosome normally has a gene controlling the pigment in red cones and another gene controlling the pigment in green cones. Both types of gene are quite variable in the human population. This makes for some variety in the spectra of red and green pigments. (Technically, they are called long- and medium-wavelength pigments.) A woman's retina is actually a mosaic - like the skin of a calico cat. In some patches, one of her X chromosomes is active. In other patches, the other X chromosome is active. In principle a woman could be a pentachromat, i.e, she could have five different types of cones: two red, two green, and one blue (short wavelength). (The gene controlling the pigment in blue cones does not lie on the X chromosome, so it is impossible for anyone to have more than one type of blue cone.) Pentachromacy probably exists, but it has not been observed. Its effects would be very subtle indeed.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Sat Sep 13, 2014, 08:18 PM (1 replies)

vestiges of gender and case in English

Old English = Old German was highly inflected; Modern German less so; Modern English still less so. But some vestiges remain. Gender is evident in pairs of words like actor/actress, prince/princess, governor/governess.

Most plural nouns are distinguishable from the singular, and some are irregular (man/men, ox/oxen, mouse/mice). The rule for most plurals in English is to add an /S/ sound and to write " s " after the singular form.

The /S/ sound in English (usually written with an apostrophe) or German (without an apostrophe) can also indicate possession; this is a vestige of the genitive case.

Personal pronouns in Contemporary English are still inflected: I, my, mine, me, we, our, ours, us, etc. But we have lost the second-person singular forms, which survived into Early Modern English, e.g., thou, thy, thine, thee. We recognize these archaic forms in Shakespeare and the King James Bible. And let's not forget the line: "Hast thou slain the jabberwock?"

What will the future bring? Will the planetary language become even less inflected than it is now?
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Sat Aug 30, 2014, 02:46 PM (8 replies)

Linguistics vs. English departments

Am I imagining things, or is there tension between these different types of scholars?

English departments prefer traditional grammar and emphasize "correct" (prescriptive) grammar, whereas linguists prefer transformational grammar, which is purely descriptive (i.e., if people say or write it, it's idiomatic, which is all that matters).

English departments emphasize literature which is part of the "canon" (Shakespeare, Chaucer, Byron, Keats, et al.), whereas linguistic departments view their subject as an empirical science, not an art.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Sat Aug 23, 2014, 01:07 PM (4 replies)

Can anyone explain the syntax of "I saw it happen"?

It's a very short sentence, but I don't understand it. I'm guessing that "it happen" is a clause, in which "happen" is the verb", but then I must ask: is "happen" an infinitive or is it inflected? What's going on here?
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Sat Aug 9, 2014, 01:23 PM (12 replies)

How should a teacher who has sex with a student be punished?

The conduct is certainly unprofessional, and the teacher always loses his or her job. If the student is underage, then it's "statutory rape", which is a felony and can result in a long prison sentence. But what if they love each other? Should all be forgiven?

Consider for example the case of Leah Gayle Shipman:

A disgraced ex-high school teacher quietly married the underage student she allegedly had an affair with in North Carolina. Perhaps the best wedding gift she received was from prosecutors who dropped their case against the newlywed. Leah Gayle Shipman, 42, faced several charges, including statutory rape and taking indecent liberties with a student , from her 2009 arrest, that led to her ouster from Brunswick County Academy, according to WECT. But the case dissolved, because she married Johnnie Ison in 2011, according to WBTV. Under North Carolina law, a husband doesn't have to testify against his wife, WGN said. Without Ison's sworn testimony, the prosecution doesn't have a case. Her affair with Ison allegedly began in 2009 when he was 15 years old. If she'd been found guilty, Shipman faced up to 15 years in prison.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/21/leah-shipman-ex-teacher-marries-student_n_2521118.html
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Tue Jul 29, 2014, 08:15 PM (47 replies)

"Particle Fever"

is now streaming by NetFlix. I started to watch it last night. It's an excellent popularization of the search for, and discovery of, the Higgs boson at CERN.

The movie includes polemics against the SSC by some idiots in the US Congress. If it hadn't been canceled, the SSC would probably have found the Higgs . Shame on us for electing so many idiots to Congress.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Tue Jul 22, 2014, 02:09 PM (2 replies)

Why are we spying on Germany?

Are we trying to get the Germans to hate us? Do we wish to see Germany aligned with Russia? WTF?
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Fri Jul 11, 2014, 05:04 PM (44 replies)
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