Wednesday, March 30, 2016

And The Trump Shall Resound.

This is about Donald Trump, and not the song from which the above phrase was drawn, nor about the Bible passage from which the phrase was adapted.

I am not at all a Trump supporter or fan.  I am just an alien and stranger here, which means that I can look at things from a more, um, unbiased perspective.  So Trump is a crude talker with no sense of propriety.  Certainly that would disqualify him as a presidential candidate on the planet where I come from, but we are here on Earth and it is not even permissible for me to name the planet from which I come nor are any of my cultural oddities tolerated here.  So I will not attempt to judge Trump according to my standards.

But what are the standards of Earth?  Bruce Willis?  Or maybe we would like to consider some typical uplifting rap lyrics.  There may have been a time when people kept their foul language under control, at least in public, but now crude language is pretty much the standard.  Today much of America wouldn't be able to communicate if they didn't have the F-word.  It is a noun, a verb, an adjective, an adverb, and even extends to a few linguistically yet-to-be identified categories.  There are, of course, some oddballs who today maintain a distinction between their public and private language.  This was considered respectable behavior when I was young, but today is deemed to be somewhere between two-faced and hypocritical.  I would argue that Trump is actually a centrist, since the use of bad language all the time is now the American norm, but Trump's language is more of a middle of the road type of foul language and much more limited in its rage than Black Lives Matters, Feminists, and especially university professors.  Certainly there is some sincere anger both in Trump's rhetoric and in his followers, but again, this is more middle of the road, and much more tame than other groups that are accepted by the American mainstream.

When this election is all done, I hope to gather up all my notes and send them back to my home planet for some more expert analysis.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Chinese Character Torture

No, this post isn't about Jackie Chan movies.  It is about how to learn 2,500 characters in both the traditional and simplified forms.  Ideally these are also understood in combinations that represent about 10,000 words, which is starter for what is needed to be fluent in Chinese.  Using Memrise.com, I think this might be possible, although I am not going to try learning to write them at the moment.  I gathered up a number of character sets and words sets that have about this many characters and words with a total of about 33,000 entries.  Thus, there is a lot of duplication, but there is also the need to learn meanings and pronunciations, which represent different entries.  The secret to learning is drill, drill, drill, ideally with a spaced repetition system.  The repetition will work out to something like 500,000 times that I will need to correctly identify a meaning or pronunciation or character from the English equivalent.  So far I have been consistent with about 10,000 such lookups per week, which means I might make my goal if I persist for a year.  The good news is that I already processed more than 5,000 entries of the 33,000, although much of this is from the base of characters (about 500-750) and words (perhaps 2,000) that I already know.

What the vocabulary study doesn't help with is using words in context.  Thus, my plan is to subscribe to ChinesePod after another 2 months and try to do some dialogs and reading in parallel with the character and vocabulary drill.  Lord willing, there will be some improvement after a year.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

On The Brandywine


This is near a battlefield, where General Washington's army was beaten by the Brits.  But they failed to finish the job.


A few flowers trying to sneak out, but it is supposed to snow next week.




Sunday, March 06, 2016

Guide to Exit Polling

Pollster: Sir, can you answer some questions for our exit poll?
Voter: Are you Sirring me young lady?
Pollster: Yes, can you tell us who you voted for.
Voter:  Um, voted?
Pollster:  Which name on the ballot did you put a mark next to?
Voter:  Trump. Yes, that's it, Trump.  He's de man.
Pollster:  Thank you.  Can you tell us if you are an evangelical?
Voter:  What in tarnation is an eve-ant-jelly-coil?  Does it go in a car?
Pollster: No, .... I mean yes, .... I mean an evangelical isn't something that goes in a car ... That is, an evangelical can go in a car, but it isn't a car part.
Voter: You don't sound too certain of yourself.  Can I find one down at the junkyard?
Pollster: Sir, what I am trying to ask is if you are someone who cares about Religious Values?
Voter: You mean the hardware store down on Main Street?  Is something happening to them?
Pollster: Sir, I see you are white, do you own a gun?
Voter: Yes, of course I own a gun.  It is over there in the truck.  Let me go get it so I can show it to you ...
Pollster: Thanks sir, that will be all.  I will just go ahead and mark you down as an evangelical since you are white, own a gun and drive a truck.
Voter (shouting): Sarah, can you get the new gun out of the truck?  This confused young lady wants to see if it has an eve-ant-jelly-coil in it, and I don't know what she is talking about.