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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: 3,340

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

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 (4 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 (2 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)

Things Are Getting Better

That's the title track of this album. The tune was written by Cannonball Adderly.

Cannonball Adderley -- alto saxophone
Milt Jackson -- vibes
Wynton Kelly -- piano
Percy Heath -- bass
Art Blakey -- drums
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Tue Jul 8, 2014, 08:07 PM (2 replies)

R. I. P. Horace Silver

Horace Silver died yesterday. His Wikipedia article has already been updated to show this.


Here is a recording of his that I like a lot.

Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Thu Jun 19, 2014, 08:44 PM (4 replies)

Donald Knuth and a deplorable trend in the history of science

The creator of TeX and Metafont is passionate about the history of science in general, and the history computer science in particular. He praises historians of math, who continue to publish articles with technical content. He despises the "externalist" trends in histories of other sciences.

I agree with him. The problem as I see it is that most so-called historians of science don't know squat about science, and what's more, they don't want to learn squat about science. They are underachievers and proud of it, man. They are interested only in the view of science from the outside, and their pseudo-scholarly articles lack technical content. George Sarton (the founder of the discipline of history of science) must be turning over in his grave.

Here is Donald Knuth's lecture on this preposterous state of affairs:

Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Sat Jun 7, 2014, 12:45 PM (2 replies)
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