April 20th, 2019

(no subject)

I’ve been spicing up my evening by watching the disgustingly amusing Nikita Mikhalkov — an episode where he is flattering his audience with an idea that they received a good education while the present-day education is going to the dogs. It might be mildly interesting to analyze his smug, complacent rhetoric, his logical fallacies, or his meaningless phrases about the human nature, but what tickled my interest was a fragment of Dmitry Bykov’s talk that he showed:

«...сегодня единственный настоящий патриот — это тот, кто находится абсолютно в ортогональном противоречии с сегодняшним российским патриотизмом. Сегодня быть патриотом — значит быть русофобом» (at about 26:20).

«абсолютно в ортогональном противоречии» — is this a nonsensical phrase of the same category as «стремительный домкрат»? Is there a name for this sort of nonsense?

(no subject)

The historical present tense, a darling of many a writer, naturally gives rise to the historical future tense (if that’s the proper name for it). Here’s an example:

The author’s mastery of tenses is a bit dizzying. For example, why did she switch from will have resulted to would have been essential mid-sentence?

(no subject)

Searched for video recordings of college-level courses in English linguistics, but couldn’t find any. There are courses on natural language processing (because computer science), and, predictably, numerous courses on English as a foreign language; there are some introductory courses on linguistics in general; but nothing properly substantial on English linguistics per se — phonetics/phonology, dialects/sociolinguistics, history of English, grammar/morphology/syntax, etc. Compared to computer science, the video record of how English linguistics is taught is virtually non-existent.

A couple of interesting finds:

- Essentials of Linguistics, a recent — and decent — introductory book by a Canadian author, with many chapters containing short video lectures
- recordings of lectures of Dr. Ted Sherman, professor at Middle Tennessee State University, primarily about English literature

(no subject)

Cory Doctorow may be a decent journalist, but as a sci-fi writer he is very mediocre. The best part of his sci-fi story "When sysadmins ruled the world" is an excerpt from A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, a manifesto written in 1996.

Reading through that declaration, I was reminded of the attitude towards the Internet that I believe I too witnessed when I came online. It was idealistic, meritocratic, detached from the physical world, intoxicating and empowering. Very different from the turn to social justice that it later took.