It is unlikely that Bacon’s cipher system was ever used for the transmission of military secrets, in the seventeenth century or in the twentieth. But for roughly a century from 1850, it set the world of literature on fire. A passion for puzzles, codes, and conspiracies fueled a widespread suspicion that Shakespeare was not the author of his plays, and professional and amateur scholars of all sorts spent extraordinary amounts of time, energy, and money combing Renaissance texts in search of signatures and other messages that would reveal the true identity of their author. Even after the recent publication of James Shapiro’s comprehensive history of the authorship controversy, Contested Will, it is difficult for us to appreciate the depth of conviction — among writers as diverse and as distinguished as Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Sigmund Freud, Henry James, Henry Miller, and even Helen Keller — that Shakespeare’s texts contained the secret solution to what was widely considered to be “the Greatest of Literary Problems.”...
Tag Archives | Language
Promoting Democracy verb installing a government friendly to our interests in another country. Freedom Fighters noun a proxy terrorist army that we support National Interest noun the interests of the ultra-rich, particularly those in the U.S.A. Stability noun (used referring to other countries) subordination to US power interests -> Usually achieved through war against the population. Example: "We should promote democracy by supporting the freedom fighters in Nicaragua because it is in America's national interest to promote stability in Central America." Translation: "We should send weapons to a proxy terrorist army that murders civilians to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nicaragua, for the benefit of U.S investors and to intimidate other countries into doing what we say."
BBC News reports:
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It crops up in our speech dozens of times every day, although it apparently means little. So how did the word “OK” conquer the world, asks Allan Metcalf.
“OK” is one of the most frequently used and recognised words in the world.
It is also one of the oddest expressions ever invented. But this oddity may in large measure account for its popularity.
It’s odd-looking. It’s a word that looks and sounds like an abbreviation, an acronym.
We generally spell it OK – the spelling okay is relatively recent, and still relatively rare – and we pronounce it not “ock” but by sounding the names of the letters O and K.
Visually, OK pairs the completely round O with the completely straight lines of K.
So both in speech and in writing OK stands out clearly, easily distinguished from other words, and yet it uses simple sounds that are familiar to a multitude of languages.
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While enthusiasts across the world pored over the Voynich manuscript, one of the most mysterious writings ever found — penned by an unknown author in a language no one understands — a research team at the UA solved one of its biggest mysteries: When was the book made?
University of Arizona researchers have cracked one of the puzzles surrounding what has been called “the world’s most mysterious manuscript” — the Voynich manuscript, a book filled with drawings and writings nobody has been able to make sense of to this day.
Using radiocarbon dating, a team led by Greg Hodgins in the UA’s department of physics has found the manuscript’s parchment pages date back to the early 15th century, making the book a century older than scholars had previously thought.
Just more evidence that non-human animal species have deeper intelligence than we give them credit for, and communicate in ways to which we are oblivious. Wired Science discusses a secret form of bird-language, which we should probably learn if we hope to foil the coming avian takeover:
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The discovery of messages in raptors’ nests has raised the possibility that many bird species encode signals into these structures, with seemingly decorative flourishes actually full of meaning.
Among black kites, scraps of white plastic are used to signal territorial dominance. To other kites, the scraps are a warning sign. To humans, they hint at an unappreciated world of animal communication.
“It’s probably very common that other bird species decorate their nests in ways compatible with what we found,” said Fabrizio Sergio, a biologist at the Doñana Biological Station in Spain. “And not only birds, but fish and mammals.”
A few species, such black wheateaters and bowerbirds, are already known to use nest design in courtship displays.
The phrase ‘the personal is political’ always bugged me, but I could never articulate why. There’s just something off about it, like conflating religious belief and science, or the mixture of church and state. I was recently reading the Christopher Hitchens autobiography and I came by this quote regarding the inception of the phrase:
“At the instant I first heard this deadly expression, I knew as one does from the utterance of any sinister bullshit that it was — cliché is arguably forgivable here — very bad news.”
He goes on to say that now you only needed to flout your attachment to whatever arbitrary delineation (as he brilliantly puts it, “a member of a sex, or gender, or epidermal subdivision, or even erotic “preference,”) to be considered a revolutionary. This is coming from a person who wears his arrest record proudly, having been done in for numerous protests and rallies and the kind of rabble rousing people my age and younger can’t even imagine.… Read the rest
Enjoy as I have the recent posts concerning God and the New Atheists (great band name btw), and there is nothing as comical to me as reading atheists argue for the futility of engaging in these arguments, I do think that the ground needs a little clarifying so that these discussions, that I believe have value in the platonic sense, can gain some traction given a few tools to help the language.
The dichotomy between theism and atheism is perhaps a step of generality too far, and leads one to engage in those kinds of circular arguments that both sides find frustrating. So I propose the following terms, in order to help us identify our beliefs, or non-beliefs, in a way that fosters informed discussion.
1. There are at least 2 types of atheists. One I will call the Micro-Atheist, that type of person who approaches the cosmos without the need to ascribe consciousness to things he/she has no evidence to support. The Micro-Atheist is the quietest type since he/she admits that his/her non-belief is simply grounded in not having any first hand experience of such evidence. The second type I will call the Macro-Atheist. This latter type approaches the cosmos with scientific rationality, and supposes that such scientific principles are universal, and given the inability of theists to prove their claims, these atheists propose that there is no divine consciousness directly influencing human affairs. And this is a reasonable assertion, however, it is still an assertion.… Read the rest
Personally I would have voted for “like,” as more people than I care to think of are incapable of voicing a thought without using that once useful but now despicable word. “Whatever” is also fairly heinous, though! From Reuters:
Whatever you think about using grating words, at the end of the day it’s actually better not to say whatever, if you know what I mean.
For the second consecutive year “whatever’ topped a Marist poll as the most annoying word or phrase in the English language.
Nearly 39 percent of 1,020 Americans questioned in the survey deemed it the most irritating word, followed by “like” with 28 percent and the phrase “you know what I mean’ at 15 percent…
[continues at Reuters]
‘Palinism and ‘Obama-mess’ are funny, but what has me worried is the prediction that we’ll all be talking about the Great Recession in 2011. The Global Language Monitor has released their top 10 words to be in vogue in 2011:
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- Twenty-Eleven – The English-speaking world has finally agreed on a common designation for the year: Twenty-eleven far outstrips ‘two thousand eleven’ in the spoken language. This is welcome relief from the decade-long confusion over how to pronounce 2001, 2001, 2003, etc.
- Obama-mess – David Letterman’s neologism for 2010 also works for 2011. This word is neutral. If Obama regain his magic, he escaped his Obama-mess; if his rating sinks further he continues to be engulfed by it.
- Great Recession – Even the best case scenario has the economy digging out of this hole for the foreseeable future.
- Palinism – Because the media needs an heir to Bushisms and Sarah Palin is the candidate of choice here.
Via The Japan Times:
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The government on Tuesday updated the list of kanji designated for everyday use for the first time in 29 years, deleting five and adding 196, including difficult-to-write characters that have become easier to use with computers.
The new total is 2,136
In the postwar period, the list was first compiled in 1946, when 1,850 kanji were approved for common use. It was revised in 1981 to 1,945 characters.
In line with the new list announced by the Cabinet Office, the Justice Ministry revised a ministerial order to reflect the changes in its list of kanji that can be used for people’s names
The education ministry revised its curriculum guidelines to ensure that junior high school students can read most of the new characters.
Government documents will be written in accordance with the new list.
The reform reflects that the widespread use of personal computers and mobile phones has generally made it easier for people to write kanji.