Thursday, June 29

This is why Friendster and Orkut and all those other FoaF services don't work.

Because we have Real Social Networks already; we're homo sapiens sapiens and that particular ape is very good at tracking social relationships all by itself.

Monday, June 26

On the naming of Sports Teams

I know someone who simply cannot grasp the modern naming style of certain sports teams. Oilers, Hurricanes, Penguins, even Maple Leafs she can understand - on these teams such as these, each player is a single "senator," a "knickerbocker," or perhaps a "Red Sock." The team is therefore collectively called the Giants or the Jets or the Argonauts or what have you.

But these basketball team names really confuse her. The Miami Heat? Heat is singular! How can many players form a team called a "heat?" What is a "heat" anyway? Same thing with the Utah Jazz or the Orlando Magic. These teams should be called the Miami Heat Sources or the Orlando Magicians or the Utah... uh, Jazz Musicians.

These modern-sounding American-style names really confuse foreign ears too. When Major League Soccer was founded in the United States back in 1993, many of the teams had wacky names such as the Kansas City Wiz (later the Wizards) or the San Jose Clash (later the Earthquakes). According to the Wiki article, these name changes occured to lure more traditional-minded Hispanic soccer fans to the league. Witness the Dallas Burn (hunh?), which became FC Dallas in 2005. FC stands for Futb├│l Club, a naming convention popular among many Latin and European teams.

Letting the popular masses name a sports team may not always be a good idea. The Toronto Raptors started their first season in 1995, but well before that, the organization held a contest within the city to name the new NBA expansion team. Jurassic Park was the movie-du-jour at the time, so instead of receving a name that reflected Toronto's rich botanical or avian diversity (as its hockey and baseball teams respectively do), the basketball team was named after a species of dinosaur popularized in a Michael Crichton adaptation.

I guess it's all for the best. You can guess what the Toronto Raptors would be called if they had been founded this year: The "Toronto Snakes on a Plane." I can just picture the logo.

Sunday, June 25

Dayvan Cowboy

Is it fitting that one of the best instrumental minimalist electronic tracks of all time should have the best video?


Friday, June 16

Don't sound stupid.

Stop using comma splices.

Geez, Academy of Linguistic Awareness! Either of these would have worked:

Don't sound stupid; stop saying like.
Don't sound stupid. Stop saying like.

Now your cover is blown, and your chances of affecting a perfectly good cause are shot.

(via boingboing)


This is sadly similar to Stephen Notley's attempt to correct society's greivous apostrophe errors. (He of Bob the Angry Flower fame.) He publishes this insanely brilliant, popular, and world-altering strip:

Bob's Quick Guide to the Apostrophe, you Idiots

But then he blows his cover with this one.


He mistakenly thinks that the name of the competition, the "World's" is incorrectly pluralized, when in fact it is simply the World's Gymnastics Competetion or something like that. There are no multiple "worlds" participating.

To be fair, he fessed up to his error in the annotations of the printed book, and he more than made up for it with a series of other linguistic propaganda leaflets such as this one:

Bob's Quick Guide to French, you Idiots

P.P.S. The "Acadamy [sic] of Linguistic Awareness" is a satirical group. Notice the spelling errors in their poster, not to mention their name. Is the comma splice intentional? I don't know, but one thing is certain: people should stop saying "like" so often.

Tuesday, June 6

They Lied To Us

This was supposed to be the future apocalypse.

Where is my jetpack river of blood,
Where are my robotic companions locusts,
Where are my dinner in pill form boils,
Where is my nuclear-powered levitating house Earth rent asunder?

(thanks, The Bishop Of Turkey.)

Monday, June 5

The Cost

Schneier points out a Solzhenitsyn quote from Cancer Ward, and it got me thinking. (Thanks, James.)

As one of the comments says, there's a cost to everything nowadays. We're richer now, as a society, than anyone has ever been at any time. We have more than enough food, we have warmth and safety in the dead of winter, we have a say in our government, we have rich, soft clothes, we have entertainment, we have long lives, we know an incredible amount about how our world works, and those of us sufficiently 'net-savvy as to be reading this blog have access to the almost all of that knowledge. But there's a cost! We paid for our food with environmental degradation. We paid for our warmth with the creation of dams, and the exploitation of fossil fuels. We paid for our freedom of goverment with the requirement for eternal vigilance thereof. We paid for our soft clothes with the time and energy it takes to keep up with fashion. We paid for our entertainment with advertisments selling us things we don't need. We paid for our knowledge with immense amount of wasted effort pursuing ultimately worthless ideas, and lastly but certainly not leastly we paid for the internet with our privacy.

There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. Everything has a cost. Most times, we don't even know we're paying it, but we are.

Friday, June 2

Peter Gabriel

...writes good music. Or at least, he did on Us and So, the two albums of his I recently got in a fit of "hey, I remember liking that stuff in high school". It's like getting two more Dave Matthews albums for free! (OK not really, but they're similar enough that someone who doesn't listen to either at all might confuse them.)

I'd never really listened to his stuff all the way through before. I mean, sure, it's been on while I was over at people's houses, so it all seemed vaguely familiar (or is that just that all his songs sound the same?) but now, I'm actually listening to it. Amazing how long it takes to (re)discover some things.