Language

The confidence game starts with basic human psychology. From the artist’s perspective, it’s a question of identifying the victim (the put-up): who he is, what does he want, and how can I play on that desire to achieve what I want? It requires the creation of empathy and rapport (the play): an emotional foundation must […]

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On one of today’s walks I listened to an unusually good episode of the I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere podcast: The Confidence Game. I ordered Maria Konnikova’s book The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It… Every Time and will read David Maurer’s 1940 book The Big Con when I go back to visiting libraries. […]

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The concept of “net zero” has become a major mechanism for industries and politicians who are unwilling to move past the fossil fuel economy to pretend that somehow that will not be necessary, since some future technology or tree planting will cancel out the emissions. I’ve written before about how you would need a carbon […]

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Besides, the historian William Cronon argues that there is nothing “natural” about wilderness, that it is a deeply human construct, “the creation of very particular human cultures at very particular moments in human history.” Though I might be appalled by Marco Polo’s failure to swoon at mountains and deserts along the Silk Road, wilderness in […]

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The November 2nd Economist included an article with some interesting claims about lies, politics, and identifying deceit: But even in daily life, without the particular pressures of politics, people find it hard to spot liars. Tim Levine of the University of Alabama, Birmingham, has spent decades running tests that allow participants (apparently unobserved) to cheat. […]

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Gen-reh!

2019-10-01

in Language

I spent way too much time putting together this video of Alex Trebek saying the word "genre," so now you have to RT it. Sorry, I don't make the rules pic.twitter.com/VacI730SJv — Alex Jacob (@whoisalexjacob) September 13, 2019

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I don’t know who had the brainstorm to add Glados-like comments to https://clickclickclick.click/ but it adds brilliantly to the site’s impact and cultivated paranoia. Very cool intersubjective web-based art.

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Sometimes, just to heighten the confusion, the same word ends up with contradictory meanings. This kind of word is called a contronym. Sanction, for instance, can either signify permission to do something or a measure forbidding it to be done. Cleave can mean to cut in half or stick together. A sanguine person is either […]

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In English, in short, there are words for almost everything. Some of these words deserve to be better known. Take velleity, which describes a mild desire, a wish or urge too slight to lead to action. Doesn’t that seem a useful term? Or how about slubberdegullion, a seventeenth-century word signifying a worthless or slovenly fellow? […]

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Some of the most interesting theories about language development in recent years have been put forward by Derek Bickerton, an English-born professor at the University of Hawaii, who noticed that creole languages all over the world bear certain remarkable similarities. First, it is important to understand the difference between pidgins and creoles. Pidgins (the word […]

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