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Hi, I watched the first three or four episodes yesterday of this really interesting documentary on the history of the English language from its very beginning. A lot of fascinating stuff, including being able to hear many of these old pronounciations/versions of English (at least, their assumed ones) and an exposition of multiple vocabulary changes over time.

The only downside is that there are too many vapid filler images/moments that bring nothing of value to the viewer, except make you lose time watching them. I did a lot of fast-forwarding.

From the BBC

Hi! I’ve been too busy to blog (about serious things), so this is just a little note. Among recent wonderful cultural discoveries was this film, available for free on youtube.

The writing is full of these little nuggets when you least expect them. I loved the characters, they are so well personified! I loved how interesting these most mundane, lackluster people were, aside from the funny excentric ones. And the suspense moments were quite good too. Great acting, casting – lovely. The only thing I didn’t like so much was the very ending, but given that all the rest was good, it didn’t matter so much.

From wiki:

London Belongs to Me (also known as Dulcimer Street) is a British film released in 1948, directed by Sidney Gilliat and starring Richard Attenborough and Alastair Sim. It was based on the novel London Belongs to Me by Norman Collins. The same story was made into a seven-part series by Thames Television in 1977.

I took a quick look on an article about the novel and got the impression I would find the book quite boring, aside from having no way to understand many important cultural references which enrich everything and everyone.

This is the guy I am curious about now:

The writer Sidney Gilliat.


Unless you have followed the Volokh Conspiracy blog for a few years now, you would not know just to what point Eugene Volokh is shoddy in the ways he has promoted his homosexuality agenda, along with many other unhealthy and harmful views about sexuality (including having been criticized for being a rape apologist more recently). Usually the other bloggers at his blog, when they blog about anything related to sexuality, are at the same harmful level.

So it was a surprise to see this article by Ilya Somin, whose posts, when I glance at them, seem to be either quite mediocre if they refer to politics or more  liberal sexuality trash.

But here he did a good job: “Assessing immigration policy as if immigrants were people too.” Great title. And several of the comments are excellent. And one could follow up with a variation of the same: “Assessing immigration policy as if immigrant children had rights,” that is, as if the “Declaration of the Rights of the Child” wasn’t considered just a bunch of meaningless words gathering dust somewhere.

And we should all ponder a powerful quote that is credited to Elie Wiesel, the writer, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor:

You who are so-called illegal aliens must know that no human being is ‘illegal’. That is a contradiction in terms. Human beings can be beautiful or more beautiful, they can be fat or skinny, they can be right or wrong, but illegal? How can a human being be illegal?

Says BCL: Coming from a Holocaust survivor who witnessed the worst in humanity, these words are extremely potent. This quote is the rallying cry for those of us who believe that the term “illegal alien,” or referring to human beings as “illegal,” is dangerously dehumanizing.

Among several good comments at VC, I also liked this one – which I had not seen before because it specifically addresses people who think of themselves as libertarians:

This is where the rubber meets the road for self described libertarians.

If your conception of freedom extends only to those who happen to fall out of their mother’s vagina on the same side of an invisible line as you then what claim do you really have to loving liberty?

Also, David Welker -3/3/2014 9:46 PM GMT+0100

Consequences matter. Even if you don’t have a duty to help prevent poverty and oppression, that does not mean that it is not an immoral choice not to prevent poverty and oppression when you can easily do so.

In any case, the person lives in poverty and oppression because FORCE was used against them. You are restricting not only the freedom of the immigrant, but also the freedom of your fellow citizens (like myself) who would like to do business with such immigrants.

And then, to top things off, we had this by David M. Nieporent – who is usually an asshat (3/3/2014 9:19 PM GMT+0100), but not this time:

Note to longtime WashingtonPost commenters new to the VC being exposed to an unfamiliar concept called “reading”…

“exposed to an unfamiliar concept called “reading”…”

LOL – nice one. It made me chuckle several times today.

Something in the water over at VC  making  some people actually write  worthwhile commentary.

I love to observe all the ingenious ways that my brain processes language, especially the unconscious ones. One thing I find fascinating is that my brain memorizes words by their sound as much as by their meaning. I often formulate sentences where I think of a word based on its sound, but it’s not the right word. I’m always getting these fuzzy results in terms of how a word sounds and then I need to research the right word by trying to think of similar sounding words. (See end note for disclaimer on writing in the first person here).

Just now something else happened. I just formulated the sentence “Having brideless power is all they care about.”

“That doesn’t sound right,” I thought. So I googled “brideless” and confirmed that it refers to not having a bride (a woman to marry). Then I googled my own brain and the word “unbridled” surfaced. Aha! “Unbridled,” that’s what I wanted.

So my brain first gave me a word with the root “bride” when actually I wanted “bridled.” The two roots are very similar in sound – but I didn’t want merely bridled, I wanted a word that negated bridled (restricted). What did my brain do? It gave me a word where a “less” has been applied to bride, that is, something without a bride (brideless), or un-brided.

For fun, I looked up the etymology of both words. Now it just so happens that bride, aside from the marriage connotation, also means a tie, although I wouldn’t have known that without seeing it in a sentence with proper contextual information. It’s like those meanings that aren’t actively known, they remain very, very buried. That was a coincidence all in itself.

But the fact that my brain processed the “bride” with the “less” when I was searching for “un-bridled” is the cool part. It didn’t just give me a word that was similar in sound to “unbridled” but it applied the (mathematical) operation of negation to bride and gave me “brideless.”

“With compliments from your brain language processor,” said my brain.

“Thank you, that was smart,” I replied.

Now don’t get me wrong. Even though I wrote the above in the first person, I’m not saying that only my brain does any of this (ha!), but just that I love watching it doing it. It’s fascinating. And it’s the only brain I can watch from the inside out. 😉


Update – my brain is on a roll today…

So, here I was trying to figure out how to program this two-hour walk followed by a lunch at a restaurant (both itinerary and final restaurant). I was thinking of all these options, starting around 10:30 am to finish at the restaurant around 12:30 or 1:00 pm.

Then I thought that I would much prefer to schedule the walk in the afternoon. But I also wanted lunch after the walk. Immediately, my brain produced this mental image of an daily planner page (each line is an hour) and a two-hour block filled in from about 1pm to 3pm for the walk. Now here comes the fun part: there was a curved arrow from the 3:00 pm time going down to the 12:00 pm line, as if we could walk back in time and then have lunch. See? Problem solved. Too cool.

I wasn’t even trying to visualize anything… I wasn’t even thinking about going back in time. The thought was not “mine.” My brain did that in a split second, all on its own.

My brain: “Here’s my solution. Just trying to help.”

“Thank you, that was very nice. Unfortunately I still don’t know how to go back in time, but it would have been a lovely way to arrange things.”

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