Spreading the virus

There’s a phenomenon on social media I’ve been meaning to discuss on Helytimes, but I don’t know how to bring it up without being guilty of what I’m talking about.  Maybe it doesn’t matter.  It’s this: sharing something that’s bad.

This is incredibly common on Twitter.  It might be the main driving engine on Twitter.  “Dunking on” stuff might be the most common category. of this.  You see something you don’t like, or that’s bad, or wrong, and you make fun of it.  But in doing so, you are also of course spreading it further.  Here’s an example:

Here’s another one:

 

 

One more:

I don’t mean to pick on these people, these are all pretty innocent examples (and I’ve done the same or worse), but you see what I’m talking about.  It’s when you go, look at this shit!  It sucks!

And I’m like well maybe I wouldn’t have even seen the shit if you didn’t tell me about it.

Sometime around 2014 or so I heard someone point out that Twitter has outsized power because every journalist is on it.  Non-stop.  It almost just a chat room for journalists (and media people).  Journalists are drawn to spread the news, good and bad.  Spreading the news is their job and I hope their passion.  But what if what you’re spreading is bad, or unhelpful?

Probably the answer is just to get off Twitter, but I’m addicted to the news.  It’s very addicting!  I’m trying to work on not spreading anything bad, even if it’s funny or entertaining or exciting or, maybe most tempting of all, outrageous.


cause a scene

via

You’re the Speaker of the House, you’re eighty years old, two trillion dollars on the line, and the problem is someone might “cause a scene.”

The idea of “causing a scene worth thinking about!

 

 


Dene

Sapir’s special focus among American languages was in the Athabaskan languages, a family which especially fascinated him. In a private letter, he wrote: “Dene is probably the son-of-a-bitchiest language in America to actually know…most fascinating of all languages ever invented.”

source

I’ve been doing some work to learn:

This is a good journey, but challenging.

Sometimes it leads me to stuff like this:

which: ok, how much can we trust these linguists?  Are we sure we’re on solid ground here?

The big categorizing of native American languages was done by Albert Gallatin in the 1830s.

Could he have been wrong?  People were wrong a lot back then.

Well, after looking it with an amateur’s enthusiasm, I feel more trusting.

I feel confident Navajo/Dene is connected to languages of what’s now Alaska, British Columbia, and nearby turf.

Navajo / Dene speakers can be understood by speakers of other Athabaskan languages, and most of the words in Navajo seem to have Athabaskan origin.

Edward Sapir wrote a paper about internal evidence within the Navajo language for a northern origin to this people.

Sapir was wrong* about some things, but no one seems to doubt he was a pretty serious linguist.

How about Michael E. Krauss?

After completing a dissertation on Gaelic languages Krauss arrived in Alaska in 1960 to teach French at the University of Alaska.

Krauss’ largest contribution to language documentation is his work on Eyak, which began in 1961.  Eyak was then already the most endangered of the Alaskan languages, and Krauss’ work is all the more notable considering that it represents what today might be considered salvage linguistics. While some Eyak data had been previously available, they were overlooked by previous scholars, including Edward Sapir. However, Eyak proved to be a crucial missing link for historical linguistics, being equally closely related to neighboring Ahtna and to distant Navajo. With good Eyak data it became possible to establish the existence of the Athabaskan–Eyak–Tlingit language family, though phonological evidence for links to Haida remained elusive.

If anyone makes any progress on native American language classifications while under precautionary self-quarantine, let us know

* I’m just teasing poor Sapir here, I don’t think it’s fair to “blame” him exactly for the “Sapir-Whorf hypothesis,” which maybe isn’t even wrong, and as far as I can tell it was Whorf not Sapir who misunderstood Hopi


fast and decisive adjustments

This struck home, read it in a Sequoia Capital memo someone Twittered.

Also in the category of: clear writing from people in the world of VC/tech financing, an anecdote retold by Morgan Housel

The Battle of Stalingrad was the largest battle in history. With it came equally superlative stories of how people dealt with risk.

One came in late 1942, when a German tank unit sat in reserve on grasslands outside the city. When tanks were desperately needed on the front lines, something happened that surprised everyone: Almost none of the them worked.

Out of 104 tanks in the unit, fewer than 20 were operable. Engineers quickly found the issue, which, if I didn’t read this in a reputable history book, would defy belief. Historian William Craig writes: “During the weeks of inactivity behind the front lines, field mice had nested inside the vehicles and eaten away insulation covering the electrical systems.”

The Germans had the most sophisticated equipment in the world. Yet there they were, defeated by mice.

 


Primary tensions

It’s the night of the West Virginia primary, May 10, 1960.  Candidate John Kennedy, and Ben Bradlee, then Washington Bureau chief for Newsweek, cut the tension by going to see a porno:

(You can see the trailer here, it does seem like soft stuff by our standards)

Good luck out there voters, I hope your favorite candidate wins!


Joe Biden on Meet The Press

Instead of their opinions and guesses, I wish political commentators would offer simple facts, observations, like: Joe Biden doesn’t complete about 23*% of the sentences his starts.

A typical example of a Biden not completed sentence is like half a statistic or something followed by “I mean look” and a jump to a new thought.

Starting a new sentence whenever you’re lost is probably a great tactic if you find you get confused, lose the thread, or make frequent meanderings into language territory you can’t always get out of.

I’m aware Joe Biden has struggled with a stutter, and respect his struggle with it, you can see that in this Meet The Press appearance, that may partially explain this fact but doesn’t make it not a fact.

As for Mike Pence’s on Meet The Press, the less said the better.  Rare cheers for Chuck Todd for pinning him down on naming names of what specific Democrats are “politicizing” the crisis. Pence came up with “the New York Times” (referencing I believe Gail Collins’ column).

One thought I’ve had about politics is there’s a wide gap in how important people think politics is or should be.  I get a sense that, say, young Bernie voters tend to think “this is life or death!  Politics means people’s lives!” while among a Trump-type voter you often get a sense of “whatever, it’s a stupid puppet show.”

After the 2008 election, when I looked back on how much time I’d spent like refreshing blogs and stuff, I resolved not to get too sucked into like following the events and commentary, but it’s a great temptation.

*actually counted and tried to make a fair estimate, what is wrong with me.


The Man Who Skied Down Everest (1975)

Was scanning a list of Oscar winners for best documentary features the other day, and came across this one.  1975’s winner.  Free on Amazon Prime.  Or the whole thing is on YouTube.

A beautiful film in many ways, maybe a little slow-paced for today’s documentary viewer.  Wasn’t sure how I felt about the ethics of this expedition.  It seemed, at its heart, a little pointless compared to the dangers it courted? Not just to the expedition members, but to the 700 paid Sherpas and other porters. But maybe I’m just looking for an excuse to justify why I haven’t skied down Everest.  I’m no Yuchiro Miura, that’s for sure.

A surprising number of readers of Helytimes found their way here looking for lists of mountaineering movies.  A category where even the bad ones are good.