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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, 05:47 PM
Number of posts: 3,741

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

Universal Grammar, parameters, and all that.

I'm starting to read a book about what Noam Chomsky has been up to this century. One of the ideas is that language acquisition is simplified by the existence of parameters, each of which must be set to one of only two values. One such parameter is the choice of whether heads of phrases come first or last. For example, in English a preposition (the head of a prepositional phrase) comes before its object. Other languages exist in which the equivalents of prepositions come after their objects, so one speaks of postpositions. The claim is made that every language must have all heads first or all heads last, never a mixture of the two.

I'm wondering what a linguist of this persuasion would make of the English word "ago", which seems to be a postposition, as in "Four Score and seven years ago, our fathers ... ." Similarly, Latin like English has lots of prepositions, but it also has a few postpositions, such as "causa" and "gratia". (MGM's motto "Ars gratia artis" is bad Latin; it should read "Ars artis gratia".)
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Tue Dec 15, 2015, 06:32 PM (1 replies)

A year from today will be the semisesquicentennial of the event

that propelled the US into WW2.

Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Mon Dec 7, 2015, 02:21 PM (0 replies)

"Never Let Me Go" (2010)

This is a gem. Charlotte Rampling plays a truly evil character and IMO has an impact all out of proportion to her limited time on screen. The plot features an alternate reality which might be a world ruled by Ayn Rand and Donald Trump. Sort of like "1984" without the warfare. Warning: don't expect a happy ending.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Mon Oct 26, 2015, 11:24 PM (1 replies)

'hijastro' & 'filiaster'

Both words mean 'stepson', and the Spanish is derived from the Latin. But why '-aster'? What does a star have to do with the meaning of 'step-' in English?

I asked this question to a classics professor at Cal State Long Beach. He replied that 'filiaster' has nothing to do with the noun 'aster', that the -er is just a masculine marker, and that the -ast- must be a bound Latin morpheme meaning 'step-'.

I wonder if anyone here agrees or disagrees with my friend the classics professor.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Tue Oct 13, 2015, 01:00 PM (1 replies)

RIP William Provine

William B. Provine has died. He had been a professor of history and of biology at Cornell University. The website of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) includes the following statement about Provine:

In a memoir published in Isis in 1999, he explained that in his view, a student working on the history of biology "should be as familiar with the science as any doctoral student"; for his own part, he added, "I am very happy to move between history and science."

Read more: http://ncse.com/news/2015/09/william-b-provine-dies-0016624

Provine was no mere "externalist" historian of science. He wrote the kind of history that interests scientists as well as historians. Would that there were more like him.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Fri Sep 4, 2015, 04:08 PM (5 replies)

American neo-Nazis support Donald Trump (big surprise).

An article in today's LA Times mentions that "the Daily Stormer, a website that has called for anti-immigrant violence, endorsed Trump for president."
http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/la-na-immigration-politics-20150826-story.html

When I read that, I was reminded of the German tabloid Der Stürmer, which was first published in 1923 and which endorsed Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Der_Sturmer

And, sure enough, it turns out that the Daily Stormer is a neo-Nazi rag:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Daily_Stormer

I wonder if Trump welcomes this support.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Thu Aug 27, 2015, 07:33 PM (4 replies)

American neo-Nazis support Donald Trump (big surprise).

An article in today's LA Times mentions that "the Daily Stormer, a website that has called for anti-immigrant violence, endorsed Trump for president."
http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/la-na-immigration-politics-20150826-story.html

When I read that, I was reminded of the German tabloid Der Stürmer, which was first published in 1923 and which endorsed Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Der_Sturmer

And, sure enough, it turns out that the Daily Stormer is a neo-Nazi rag:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Daily_Stormer

I wonder if Trump welcomes this support.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Thu Aug 27, 2015, 10:56 AM (3 replies)

This is feel-good music!



Joe Pass was a musician's musician who played with some of the greats, e.g., Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, and Niels-Henning Ĝrsted Pedersen
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Mon Aug 17, 2015, 03:38 PM (6 replies)

Dumbing down the history of science.

The man who brought history of science to America, George Sarton, spent many years studying science before turning to its history. The best historians of science have always been people with deep knowledge of the science whose history they write about, such as Thomas Kuhn and Owen Gingerich.

Stanford computer scientist Donald Knuth once gave a lecture titled "Let's Not Dumb Down the History of Computer Science". What he meant by that was that computer scientists should follow the example set by mathematicians, who have taken charge of the history of their own subject, rather than leaving it in the hands of historians who not only lack significant knowledge of mathematics, but have no interest in acquiring such knowledge. The sort of histories of science written the scientifically illiterate are so bad that they have brought tears to Knuth's eyes.

Unfortunately, the history of science in general is now dominated by scientific know-nothings. Typically employed in history departments, not departments of history of science, they cater to and are judged by other academic historians with little knowledge of and little interest in the technical content of science. And what's worse, they celebrate their "externalist" views of science. Like Bart Simpson, these underachievers are "proud of it, man".
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Wed Aug 12, 2015, 07:17 PM (9 replies)

This message was self-deluded by its author.

Did you read that carefully?

Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Tue Aug 11, 2015, 03:47 PM (3 replies)
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