Anything worth talking about, is worth blogging about

Posts tagged ‘Writing’

A few scattered thoughts

I really wish I knew of a way to have comments numbered both by order posted and by nested thread. For example, if Alice posts a comment, it would be #1. Bret posts a response, and this is #1.1. Carol posts another response. Her comment is #1.2. Lastly, Alice responds to both, and those comments are #1.1.1 and #1.2.1. This makes it easier to refer to comments, while preventing them from incrementing if someone makes a nested comment further abode. This is kind of like software version numbers.


I just learnt that my local public library subscribes to a service that allows me to legally download three songs per week. To my annoyance, songs which I have been wanted to get a copy of for years aren’t available on it yet. But would me using this be a good idea? After all it costs the public library money, and since that is in part supported by public tax dollars, this service is not free in that sense.

Since I think people should pay (for the most part) when they use or get other people’s creative works, it seems to me that musical piracy is almost a sign of market failure. Rather than trying to get everyone to pay the same price, different prices should be offered to different people. This way, they can get sales from both those willing to pay a lot and those willing to pay a little. Books do this, with prices ranging from hardcover territory all the way down to free at a library or Project Gutenberg. Other industries involving art and creative works should do the same. I can almost guarantee that they will get good PR.


My knowledge of HTML is getting good use with all these horizontal rules!


I could swear that the amount of spam comments I am getting is skyrocketing. And yet, when I look at my stats, I’m only on pace to get about as many as the last few months. I am also quite a ways behind my spam “record” (if that’s the right word). Maybe I’m just more aware of this menace or something.


I have hardly any online accounts. I’m not on Twitter. I have never used eBay or Amazon. I’m not on Facebook, MySpace, or any other social networking site. I don’t have a Wikipedia account. I’ve never uploaded anything to YouTube, Flickr, or any such photo– or video–sharing website. For the most part my online accounts are WordPress, Blogspot, e–mail, and those online accounts which come with something outside of the internet. I only shop in brick–and–mortar stores and do all my banking offline. Maybe I’m just old–fashioned, but I like it that way. I intend to keep it that way for as long as possible.

CAPTCHA FAIL

While leaving a comment at another blog, which is written only in the English language, I was required to enter a CAPTCHA. This was part of the CAPTCHA I was required to enter:

Screenshot

What does this say?

FAIL.

The first word was “ipWein” (see update), but what is the second? Now, since I only speak English, I chose a new CAPTCHA (which was fine). But this got me wondering; what exactly is the second word? (Since this is a CAPTCHA, it’s possible that this is no word in particular and instead is just a string of abugida characters.) It’s obviously written in some Indian script. To me, it looks like it’s probably Telugu, but it might possibly be Malayalam. Distorted Sinhala or Burmese are much less likely possibilities. So, if any of my readers happen to know what the second word is, please let know. Thank you.

Update: This post originally displayed the whole CAPTCHA, but I cropped the image to remove any possibly trademarked parts of the screenshot. A picture of text alone has no interface/form, and therefore displays nothing trademarkable.

Worst punctuation complaint ever

I just found this ridiculous rant concerning punctuation. The guts of that post is that English punctuation is illogical because we don’t use Spanish–style inverted question marks to begin questions (and, mutatis mutandis, inverted exclamation points). By reading his rant you’ll notice that the writer seems not to know the difference between a tag question and a tag itself. The reason for his belief is that it is confusing to rely on context to determine when a question begins. The fact that he makes such a claim shows why he has no clue what he’s talking about.

Heres why.

What happens when you ask a question in the English language? In almost all cases, either you invert the subject and an auxiliary verb (if there’s no auxiliary, add one), or you do the preceding and also begin with one of the wh–words. The main difference between the two question forms is that the former is a yes–no (or polar) question, while the latter is a wh (or non–polar) question. The other form is a tag question. Tag questions are a semantically a subtype of yes–no questions. Let’s look at examples:

  • (Declarative): You went to the store.
  • (Polar) Did you go to the store?
  • (Wh) Where did you go?
  • (Tag) You went to the store, didn’t you?

What do wh– and yes–no questions have in common? The first word(s) (or implicitly, the word order) in either of them indicate that the following sentence is a question. In other words, the beginning of these sentences indicates that what follows is a question. Hence, there is no need for a beginning of sentence question–marking punctuation mark because the words and word order already do that. Tag questions are rare enough that they won’t need special punctuation rules. Indeed, in speech, tag questions have no “marker” at the beginning that tells us a question is coming, but this in no way hinders our ability to make ourselves understood. The same applies to writing.

This post has been edited for clarity.

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