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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: 3,814

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

Does redundancy constitute bad grammar?

This is a question about style, or prescriptive grammar, not about linguistics.

TV Westerns used to have theme songs. One of them started as follows:

"Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp;
Brave, courageous, and bold ..."

Song lyrics are poetry. This example is bad poetry IMHO, because it's so redundant.

Here's a subtler example: when I hear someone say "warm temperature", it bothers me. I'd prefer to hear about "high temperature" or "warm weather". Since "warm" has the idea of temperature built into it, "warm temperature" strikes me as slightly redundant.

Redundancy is a vice in English, but it's a virtue in some other languages. "No sť nada" and "Je ne sais rien" are acceptable, but "I don't know nothing" isn't. As the Germans say: andere Leute, andere Sitten.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Sun Jul 30, 2017, 07:09 PM (37 replies)

Doctor Blake rules Oz.

The Doctor Blake Mysteries is an Aussie TV show which I enjoy very much. The first three seasons stream on Netflix. The 4th season won't be released in Region 1 (which includes the USA) until 2018, for reasons I can't fathom. Grrrr.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Thu Jul 20, 2017, 07:41 PM (2 replies)

Can you answer a physics question discussed by Hooke and Newton?

A ball is dropped from the top of a tower on the equator. Does it land right at the base of the tower, slightly to the east, or slightly to the west? Neglect air resistance, and assume the Earth is perfectly spherical and rotating at constant angular velocity.

Can you prove your answer?
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Fri May 26, 2017, 08:30 PM (7 replies)

Wiktionary IPA symbol R is messed up.

In the standard German pronunciation of words that begin with an r, like "reich", the first IPA symbol should be R, which indicates a uvular trill, but when I look up "reich" in Wiktionary, the R is upside down, which indicates a uvular fricative. This is true on three different web browsers. I wonder what's going on. I'm using a Macintosh computer.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Sat Feb 11, 2017, 04:31 PM (1 replies)

The real reason the GOP is gung-ho on repealing Obamacare

Today's LA Times had this column by Michael Hiltzik:

Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Wed Dec 28, 2016, 01:35 PM (3 replies)

Definition of "schadenfreude"

That's how we Democrats feel about current plight of the GOP.

In other words, HAHAHAHAHA!!!!
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Sun Oct 9, 2016, 06:38 PM (1 replies)

pronunciation of poly-

In words like polygon, polygonal, polyhedron, polygamy etc. ...
Is there any rule about which syllable is stressed?
Or is this part of the lexicon?
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Thu Aug 25, 2016, 07:08 PM (4 replies)

WTF - compass for ipad doesn't work.

I searched the Apple store for "compass" and found "free compass for ipad". I downloaded and installed it. It gives me a choice between "magnetic north" and "true north", but neither of these choices works properly. As I rotate the iPad, the arrow doesn't stay pointed even approximately north. Why?
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Thu Aug 18, 2016, 12:18 PM (6 replies)

"Trump University" ?

To me, a university is a place dedicated to the search for truth. A real university teaches "hard" sciences (like mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology), "soft" sciences (like psychology and sociology), and humanities (like history, philosophy, classics, and English). A real university does not necessarily provide students with a marketable skill, although that is often a side effect of education.

Trump had a lot of gall to call his scam a university. He should be ashamed of himself, but of course he isn't. He feels no more shame than any other psychopath.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Sun Jun 5, 2016, 06:02 PM (12 replies)

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, 07:32 PM (1 replies)
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