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I seem to be learning Spanish. I got sucked into it via an iThing app called DuoLingo, which I found pretty addictive.

DuoLingo is also a web site and you can also learn other languages there. They currently only have languages that use the Roman alphabet.

I'm not sure if it is the best way for me to learn a language, because it does not teach about grammar at all; it just tests you on phrases and sentences in various ways. Which does work for me to some extent, but eventually I began to seek out other sources.

Anyway, I went through the whole mini-course on the iThing app and now I want to branch out. Have you learned or practiced or brushed up on Spanish using any particular web sites or apps that you recommend?

I'm willing to spend money. I don't actually want to interact with anybody, though, so I am not up for taking in-person classes or doing chats over the Internet or anything like that.
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The professor of my Virology MOOC, Vincent Racaniello, spent the first couple of lectures drilling us on how viruses are completely inanimate, are not even alive (depending on how you define "alive"), and definitely can't think or strategize. This week's lectures have been about how viruses get inside cells and how they avoid attaching to the wrong things or being eaten by stuff inside the cell before they are where they need to be. Each time he describes one of the methods he says "It's really a brilliant strategy." (And he's right. I don't believe in a creator deity, so I think it's a strategy not developed on purpose by any consciousness, but it's a strategy, and it's brilliant.)

The professor of my MOOC "A Brief History of Humankind" theorized that Stone Age humans mostly practiced animism, a spiritual system in which everything in the environment is considered to be alive and to have personality, goals, to be able to communicate, etc.

It certainly does seem that animistic metaphors and ways of thinking are built into the language I speak.
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Yesterday the OED added "MOOC" to its "Oxford Dictionaries Online" compository:
Defined as “a course of study made available over the Internet without charge to a very large number of people”.

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/mooc-makes-oxford-online-dictionary/2006838.article


A few days ago it added "twerk."
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This is about how the word "disablism" makes more sense to describe "oppression against people who are labeled as disabled and/or the idea that disabled people are not as good as to non-disabled people."

The main way it speaks to me is in the bit about the continuity of life as ability changes. I still go back and forth about whether to call myself disabled because I didn't have a sudden change in what I am capable of; I feel like the same person except in certain "metrics" (how far I can walk, how much of certain meds I need to take, etc.).

http://still.my.revolution.tao.ca/node/68
ableism implies that this oppression is somehow related to ability – which it is not. Disability is a social category and its label is imposed on certain groups of people because of their perceived characteristics as un(der)productive.
...
using ableism makes it really easy for people to equate ableism with discrimination based on ability.
...
Words like "paralysis" and "disabled" are often used in disablist ways to talk about full stops but this is far from the way disabled people live our lives. If someone becomes disabled, their life continues and their body, while different (and possibly even painful or frustrating) is what allows their life to continue.
...
We all have able bodies. If we don't have able bodies we are dead.
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I left this datapoint in [personal profile] selki's journal. (She said that the word "guy" isn't "some sort of modern gender-neutral salutation". Let me be clear that I completely respect this viewpoint.)
"Guys" or "you guys" has a completely gender-neutral connotation to me...but only when used as a second-person plural pronoun, the same way people use "y'all" or "youse". It feels wrong to me to address or label a woman or girl as a "guy" or to say "Those guys over there" when referring to a mixed group or a group of women/girls. But I'll comfortably say "OK, you guys..." even to a group of all women.

This isn't modern; I've been doing it my whole life and I'm over 50. I grew up in Michigan; I wonder if this is a regional usage.

In contrast, "dude," "men," "mankind," and "he/him" have a male-only connotation to me, although I can hear other people use "dude" in a gender-neutral manner. (I can't do that with the other words.)
Thoughts? Datapoints?

I also use "y'all," "youse" (but they don't feel like "my language"; they feel like I'm stealing them from other people's language), "peeps," and "folks." ("Peeps" feels modern to me, and "folks" feels old-fashioned.)
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Recycled linkspam, via my OH:

http://www.schneier.com/essay-155.html
(very long) Bruce Schneier talks about the difference between feeling secure and actual security, with digressions through innumeracy and irrational decision-making tendencies. I'm not sure I believe all of his theories, but I believe some of them.

http://www.ewherry.com/2012/06/the-recruiter-honeypot/
(From July) Elaine Wherry, a founder of Meebo (now owned by Google), analyzes the behavior of high-tech recruiters, including that they try to poach people from the very companies who hire them to find new talent.
(From October) Some developers put themselves up for auction instead of relying on recruiters: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jjcolao/2012/10/15/hounded-by-recruiters-coders-put-themselves-up-for-auction/

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/forensics-on-trial.html
Transcript of PBS show. The limitations of fingerprint, bite mark, and blood-spatter analysis (sorry Dexter); the potentials of virtual autopsies and 3D recreations of crime scenes.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/31/us/banished-words-list/
The banished words/phrases of 2012 include "yolo" (I've never heard it before), "bucket list" (I've heard that for years, why is it only banished now?), "superfood" (Yaaay!), and "spoiler alert" (hey! that's actually useful!)
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While I have translations on my mind, within is a table containing the original and three translations of the poem "Der Schwan" by Rainer Maria Rilke. it is very wide )
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via [personal profile] jae

Artist Pei-Ying Lin, Master of Art in Design Interactions, is doing a project called "Unspeakableness." Part of the project is this infographic that takes an emotion classification map designed by W. Gerrod Parrott and overlays "untranslatable emotions in languages other than English."

http://uniquelang.peiyinglin.net/visualization/Other_Languages_b.png

I looked at the overlay and found several words that were supposedly untranslateable but I know words in English that seem to mean the same thing. For example, there's a Chinese word that is supposed to mean "A rather relaxed emotion and attitude towards everything, accept all the facts instead of worrying about it." I think a word for that in English is "equanimity." (This is a word commonly used in Buddhist studies, and it is an emotion, although some people probably don't think of it that way.) "Equanimity" doesn't appear on Parrott's map.

Other words or phrases I think translate into English well enough:
"(Hebrew) Literally means 'I'm sick on you.' It describes the feeling of obsession with someone or something." Crush? (Not on Parrott's chart) Obsession? (Not on the chart.) Infatuation? (On the chart...although it's connected to "lust" and not to "longing," which I disagree with.
"(Chinese) The feeling somewhere between sympathy and empathy, to feel the suffering of loved ones." I would call this "compassion." But Parrott has "compassion" connected to "affection" with no connection at all to "sadness" or "sympathy."
"(Japanese) The bubbly feeling of the moment of falling in love." The poly community calls something like this "new relationship energy," although that means more the first several months of falling in love, not the first instant. I'm not sure why it's different from "infatuation."

What do you think?
firecat: hello kitty reading a book (reading hk)
Within is a table containing four translations of the poem "Pod jednq gwiazdkq" by Wisława Szymborska.

it is very wide )

This entry was originally posted at http://firecat.dreamwidth.org/791082.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.

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This is from a comment I made in [personal profile] xiphias's journal, where there is a discussion of the concepts "theist," "atheist," and "agnostic."

A quote I like on this subject:
For T. H. Huxley, who coined the term in 1869, agnosticism was as demanding as any moral, philosophical, or religious creed. Rather than a creed, though, he saw it as a *method* realized through "the rigorous application of a single principle." He expressed the principle positively as "Follow your reason as far as it will take you," and negatively as: "Do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable."....Huxley called it the "agnostic faith." -- Stephen Batchelor, Buddha Without Beliefs
I'm very much of two minds. Intellectually I'm scientifically oriented and don't believe in things I don't have evidence for. Emotionally, on a subconscious level, I often have a feeling that the universe is benign ("of a kindly disposition"), although I don't really imbue it with personality so I wouldn't call it belief in deity.

I've tried various ways of balancing these things. My current solution to this two-mindedness is a Buddhist practice with no belief in deity and with a goal of bringing me into better contact with whatever benignity does exist (in me and other beings).
firecat: man grimacing (grimace)
http://mashable.com/2012/09/17/supermanket/

Here's an article about a heterosexual dating site where men sign up as "products," declaring themselves to have certain characteristics (for example: Flavor: Intellectual; Packaging: Skater;
Bonus Pack: Vegetarian) and women sign up as "clients" to "browse" and "buy" the "products." The idea is pitched as giving women more control over dating. I have heard that on most het dating sites, women rarely contact men, so I guess this is also an attempt to overcome that tendency.

I think the buy/sell metaphor is really offensive.

But the first thing I thought when I heard about the site was "Whee, now there's another online store where I can put things in my cart and not buy them."

A lot of the comments on the article say "OMG, can you imagine what people would say if there were a Superwomanket?" I guess the people saying that have never typed "escorts" into a search engine.
firecat: anime head of person with cat ears looking sarcastic (sarcastic avatar)
@firecatstef: I don't want to listen to a "conquering jealousy" podcast. I want to listen to a "conquering the overuse of martial metaphors" podcast.
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Untangling Class
Tracks: Power, Privilege, and Oppression (Feminism and Other Social Change Movements)

Description:
What do we mean when we talk about class? Is it about how much money we have? How much education? How we grew up? Our position with respect to a global capitalist world system? There have been a lot of WisCon panels in the past focused on speculative fiction that "does class well"—but how can we know whether something's being done well if we don't even know what it is? This panel brings together WisCongoers with expertise and experience in talking about class to hammer out (if not actually decide upon) some definitions.

Panelists (and key to my notes):
JA—Moderator: Jess Adams
BC—BC Holmes
AL—Alexis Lothian
CW—Chris Wrdnrd

[Firecat's note: Going to this panel was like walking in on an ongoing discussion, because the panelists have been discussing class together for a while, and some of the audience appeared to have been in on the discussion as well.]

[My notes aren't a complete transcription and may represent my own language rather than the actual words of the panelists. There are parts I definitely didn't catch or came out garbled, still trying to get used to my tablet's onscreen keyboard. I welcome corrections. I did not identify audience commenters by name. If you said something I paraphrased here and want your name to be used, please comment or send me a private message.]
Read more... )
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via [livejournal.com profile] moominmuppet

http://eminism.org/blog/entry/291
"Reclaiming 'victim': Exploring alternatives to the heteronormative 'victim to survivor' discourse"

The article discusses the rigidity of societal narratives around people who have been subjected to violence. I quote from it below the cut-tag.
cut-tag )
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I am noodling about some conversation around a current event, but not directly addressing the event or the people who are involved in it.

http://tempest.fluidartist.com/moonfail-reasonableness/
(I agree with this post 100%.)

http://www.jimchines.com/2010/09/reason-anger/

There is some fascinating discussion in the comments of this post.
http://www.jimchines.com/2010/09/reason-anger/#comment-15949 D. Moonfire:
I try really hard not to only pay attention that are “reasonable”. I think it very important to read about unreasonable, insane, and otherwise brain-dead people from the simple point that I’m looking at them from my point of view. If I stuck with reasonable, then I’ll be just confirming the biases I already have (I believe the proper term is confirmatory bias or something like that). I won’t learn anything more and I’ll just put myself in a bigger hole that I’m already in....I think it critical to see the world from points of view that don’t agree with you, those unreasonable people out there.
Two things strike me here. One, I agree that if you only pay attention to people you consider to be acting reasonable, you'll end up with confirmation bias. Two, when you see "reasonable" opposed to "unreasonable, insane, and otherwise brain-dead," and you see "unreasonable" defined as "points of view that don’t agree with you," it's easy to see why conversations go astray. It's easy to end up with "Be reasonable" meaning "Agree with me" and "You're not being reasonable" meaning "You're not agreeing with me and therefore you're insane or brain-dead."
http://www.jimchines.com/2010/09/reason-anger/#comment-15990 Laura Resnick: It’s also worth noting that -emotion- is highly over-valued by many people, i.e. the notion that how strongly you feel about something has a direct corollary to how informed, valid, or inherently correct your opinions are.
I don't like the word "over-valued" there. What she's really talking about is public behavior, not emotion, and what she's really saying is "People who publicly express emotions are taken more seriously than people who don't." And personally, as a cold fish, I don't like that. But I don't know that this translates to publicly expressing emotions being "over-valued."
http://www.jimchines.com/2010/09/reason-anger/#comment-16307 Skennedy: Any motivations ascribed to thousands of individual comments and tens of thousands of opinions spread on peoples’ own blogs are straw men - easy to dismiss compared to the rainbow of actual diverse opinion.
YES YES FUCKING YES. But this reply is probably right:
http://www.jimchines.com/2010/09/reason-anger/#comment-16310 Resa: ...but humans are tribal creatures and tend to think in tribal terms...
I now have almost automatic reactions to phrases such as "those people": "which people do you mean, exactly? what makes you lump them together?") and I am glad of these reactions. But I probably retain more tribal-creature thinking than I am aware of.
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[personal profile] graymalkin sent me an article about introversion. I think the article is OK and I think that articles debunking myths about introversion are generally a good idea. But there are some ways that this article ends up reinforcing some myths about introversion, and it has some other problems.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201008/revenge-the-introvert

Here is my understanding of introversion: Being drained by spending time in social environments (as opposed to gaining energy thereby). Needing alone-time to recharge.

Here are things commonly associated with introversion that I think are not inherently part of introversion: Shyness. Social phobia. Social awkwardness. Invariably being quiet in groups. Being unable to think on your feet. Disliking to perform.

Following are some quotes from the article and my comments.Read more... )
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I learned a long time ago not to call carbonated drinks "pop." But otherwise spot-on.
(Scene: A deli in Connecticut.
Me: [orders sandwich] "...oh, and a pop."
Clerk: "What?"
Me: "Pop."
Clerk: "What?"
Me: "Diet Coke.")

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North
 

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Midland
 
The Northeast
 
Philadelphia
 
The South
 
The West
 
Boston
 
North Central
 
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz
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[livejournal.com profile] rmjwell writes:
My working definition of moral totalinarianism is that through co-option of a moral position a person can demonize or de-humanize another demographic [...]
If this intrigues you, go read more and comment.

I like the idea of objecting to de-humanizing behavior rather than to the label some people who engage in such behavior use. E.g., I prefer "Down with people who use Christianity as an excuse to restrict other people's rights" rather than "Down with Christians," and so on.

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