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Items: Shifting paradigms


Feeling a little better than yesterday, but still not up to going to work. Yesterday I didn't do nearly enough napping; hoping to rectify that today.

While I'm doing that, here are some assorted items for your edification and/or amusement. I started out with no particular theme; not enough brain. But a quasi-theme vaguely emerged as I started listing items: something about paradigms, ways of thinking about things, ways of seeing.

  • Juggling Lab provides sophisticated animations of juggling patterns you specify. It's written in Java, so it should work in most browsers on most platforms. For its notation system to make sense, you'll have to read the Siteswap FAQ and/or the page on Juggling Markup Language (JML). I was playing with this the other day because I finally started to try learning Mills Mess (a very complicated-looking juggling pattern) on Tuesday, and was having a hard time with it. It occurred to me that even after twenty years of (intermittent) juggling, I still don't have any good mental frameworks for it; I can't hold a complex pattern in my head, and I don't know how to think about them. I can't even necessarily watch a pattern and figure out what the juggler is doing. I thought having a notation system would help, but siteswap never did fit my head.
  • Unknown Language Identification: enter some text, and the page will try to identify what language it's written in. Presumably polyglots will confuse it. It's based on the Acquaintance Algorithm, which uses n-grams, which have nothing to do with engrams.
  • Online sf magazine Abyss & Apex needs donations.
  • The first issue of downloadable sf magazine Æon is now available from various fine ebook sites. Someone pointed to a page where you can download it for free, but it's not clear to me whether that page was supposed to be available to the general public or not, so I'm not relaying the link.
  • Headline from this past March: "State Department bans Courier New 12, except for treaties."
  • Bletchley Park announces possible solutions to the Shugborough code mystery. Was the 18th-century coded message intended as a paean to a beloved wife, an exhortation from the Priory of Sion secret society to defy Jesus, or something else entirely?
  • Remarkable trompe l'oeil pavement drawing of a giant Coke bottle.
  • Gerard Butler is the actor who played Terry Sheridan in the second Tomb Raider movies, the Phantom in the new Phantom of the Opera movie, and Beowulf in the upcoming Beowulf & Grendel, that last being the reason I'm mentioning this at all. The plot summary makes clear that we shouldn't expect too much faith to the source material. Best line: "Heads will roll in this provocative take on the first major work of English literature." Second-best line: "A story of blood and beer and sweat, BEOWULF & GRENDEL strips away the mask of the hero-myth, leaving a raw and tangled tale that rings true through the centuries."
  • Vardibidian has been doing, among other things, a what-if exercise for the parshah, the weekly portion of Torah reading. You can see all the entries so far by doing a search for "parshah". Kind of an alternate-history for the Torah. Only not. I'm not awake enough to explain it properly; if it sounds interesting, go take a look.

I'm sure there's more where that came from, but that's enough for one morning.


Because someone clearly had to do it, I went to the first few google results for "Klingon Poetry" and fed all of the verse that I found there into the language identifier -- a sample of 23 poems from two authors totalling about 3500 characters without spaces (688 words). A better sample would use more authors, I know...

The results:

AngloSaxon: .019358
English: .016523
Czech: .014933
Welsh: .014497

(The scores range from -1 to 1, and the page says that a clear identification should be a score of at least .25 that is at least twice the next-best score.)

Could it be that Klingons had prehistoric contact with Earthers of Gaelic, Slavic, and Germanic extraction?

Fascinating! Thanks, Dan P. I vaguely remember from reading Mark Okrand's Klingon Dictionary that much of the grammar was based fairly closely on a few Native American languages (which featured, among other odd features, no copula), but I think the vocabulary wasn't particularly based on any real language.

Adding in The Gospel According to Mark (Klingon Translation) from the Klingon Bible Translation Project brings the sample up to 9600 words, and the identification shuffles around a bit:

Czech: .019389
Polish: .017287
Welsh: .017070
SerboCroatian: .015954

I noticed that some English text had snuck into the poem sample -- when I removed that, the top four languages for the poems only were Czech, Welsh, SerboCroatian, and Apache.

Okay, enough silliness for now.

Hmm, interesting juggling applet. I learned Mill's Mess in college, and while I wasn't particularly good at it, I did have a clear understanding of it. However, the pattern displayed by the applet for "441 Mill's Mess" is not what I learned. The animation could be clearer -- it doesn't distinguish the top and bottom arms when crossing them -- but all three balls are following the same pattern. This is not true of the Mill's Mess I learned.

I wonder if Varbidian has read The Book of Jashar? :-)

I have now, and liked it, too.