Friday, December 29, 2006

The Passive: Problem or Symptom?

Language Log: Two ways to look at the passive:
It is true that some writers seem to be overfond of the passive, and can use some encouragement to re-word. My impression, from working with students, is that the problem is rarely a simple fondness for passives, but usually involves a more complex set of difficulties in organizing discourses for an audience. The ineffective passives are just a symptom of a larger problem.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


fissiparous. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.:
ADJECTIVE: 1. Reproducing by biological fission. 2. Tending to break up into parts or break away from a main body; factious.
This term seems to be a pet word of Christopher Tyerman’s. My sense of its stylistic appropriateness, however, is a bit different.

I'm so jealous

AKMA’s Random Thoughts:
I know it’s inappropriate to boast, but . . . today I have an “I’m blogging this” t-shirt on.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas, unless ...

... you're British. Then, it's Happy Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Jingle Bells

James Lord Pierpont:
The colorful James Pierpont was the author of 'One Horse Open Sleigh' which was first published in 1857. In 1859, he reissued the song under a new name: 'Jingle Bells.' It was a 'sleighing song' which was a popular topic of the time and had nothing to do with Christmas, or for that matter, Thanksgiving.
Even more surprising is that the original chorus had a different melody.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Eggnog Ice Cream

Naturally, this time of year we have eggnog to drink. I was looking at the ingredient list on a container and it looked very much like the same ingredients for ice cream, except in liquid form. So I poured some into an ice cream maker, and, voilà, eggnog ice cream.

It now occurs to me that, with all the nutmeg in eggnog, it would make a good base for pumpkin ice cream. But this will require figuring the right amount of pumpkin to add (and whether to compensate with more sugar). Another possibility is adding chocolate syrup to eggnog to make chocolate ice cream.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Recipes : City Ham (Good Eats)

This past weekend we had my wife's side of the family over for an early Christmas celebration. I was in charge of the ham, and Alton Brown's city ham recipe from Good Eats turned out to be a huge hit. Recommended!

(Warning: clean up is a pain.)

UPDATE: I made it a second time and forgot to tent the ham during the first baking period. It makes a difference, so be sure to remember it.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Punk Rock Version of Hava Nagila? - Culture: Hava Nagila's Long Strange Trip:
The popularity of Hava Nagila only continued to grow in the 1960s and 1970s, as it came to be featured in Israeli films and American Jewish celebrations of all sorts. . . . In recent years, the number of new interpretations have multiplied exponentially to include avant-garde jazz, punk rock (to listen to Me First and the Gimme Gimmes' version, click here), and reggae recordings.
Apparently so.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Guide to Grading Exams

Concurring Opinions: A Guide to Grading Exams:
It's that time of year again. Students have taken their finals, and now it is time to grade them. It is something professors have been looking forward to all semester. Exactness in grading is a well-honed skill, taking considerable expertise and years of practice to master. The purpose of this post is to serve as a guide to young professors about how to perfect their grading skills and as a way for students to learn the mysterious science of how their grades are determined.
OK, so it's an old joke, but the pictures make it priceless.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Dead Indian Language Is Brought Back to Life -

A Dead Indian Language Is Brought Back to Life -
But now, in a story with starring roles for a university linguist, sloppy 17th-century scribes and a perfectionist Hollywood director making a movie about Jamestown, the language that scholars call Virginia Algonquian has come back from the dead.
The audience's desire for realism in movies is turning up in unexpected ways, including employment for linguists.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

kata ton biblon: In over my head?

kata ton biblon: In over my head?:
It is the first time that I've seen a New Testament scholar use the words 'dog doo' in their work.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What American accent do you have?

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
The South
North Central
The West
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz
Actually, I call carbonated drinks "soda."

What Kind of Reader Are You?

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Book Snob

You like to think you're one of the literati, but actually you're just a snob who can read. You read mostly for the social credit you can get out of it.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Dedicated Reader
Literate Good Citizen
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

via Idle musings of a bookseller

Monday, December 04, 2006

Wizz RSS News Reader

Bloglines is getting flaky sometimes; I need to check this out: Wizz RSS News Reader.

The Future of Journalism?

The Washington Post has an article about an experiment in journalism, A Newspaper Chain Sees Its Future, And It's Online and Hyper-Local:
Myron, 27, is a reporter for the Fort Myers News-Press and one of its fleet of mobile journalists, or "mojos." The mojos have high-tech tools -- ThinkPads, digital audio recorders, digital still and video cameras -- but no desk, no chair, no nameplate, no land line, no office. They spend their time on the road looking for stories, filing several a day for the newspaper's Web site, and often for the print edition, too. Their guiding principle: A constantly updated stream of intensely local, fresh Web content -- regardless of its traditional news value -- is key to building online and newspaper readership.
It seems to me that traditional journalism has an advantage over the web and the blogosphere in paying people to specialize in reporting. The media will survive when it figures that reporting new and worthwhile information, not opinion, is its actual competitive advantage over all the web-based amateurs.

Language Log: art, arts, arting, arted

Language Log: art, arts, arting, arted:
When I was a kid in Newfoundland, we said the Lord's Prayer every morning at school. (It was a secular public school, but derived from the Protestant half of a historically denominationally organized school system; old habits die hard.) I knew 'art' was a verb, in 'Our Father, who art in heaven', but I understood it as some verbal counterpart of the noun 'art', as in skill, work, magic, the opposite of the 'dark arts' -- you know, arcane, mysterious art. 'To art' in this sense would mean something like, 'to work (magic)'. So I thought we were intended to be addressing 'Our Father, who works (magic) in heaven...' It wasn't until much later that it occurred to me that this was in fact just an arcane, mysterious form of the verb 'to be'.
Sometimes, kids comprehend the darndest things.

A similar example is in mishearing that portion of the Pledge of Allegiance as "and to the Republic, where witches stand, ..."

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ethics of Book Buying

On buying used (or new?) books: Scott McKnight has his thoughts. This is depressing though:
Third, here’s the truth: very few writers (and I’m not one of them) can make a living by writing. Very very few can.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


RICARDO'S DIFFICULT IDEA. Paul Krugman explains the principle of comparative advantage or why it is not so easy to explain.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Photo for my profile

The Odds of Plagiarism

Google Book Search is a plagiarist's nightmare. - By Paul Collins - Slate Magazine:
But wait, you might ask, don't people accidentally repeat each other's sentences all the time? It seems to me that this should not be unusual. Yet try plugging that last sentence word by word into Google Book Search, and watch what happens.

It: Rejected—too many hits to count
It seems: 11,160,000 matches
It seems to: 3,050,000
It seems to me: 1,580,000
It seems to me that: 844,000
It seems to me that this: 29,700
It seems to me that this should: 237
It seems to me that this should not: 20
It seems to me that this should not be: 9
It seems to me that this should not be unusual: 0

It seems to me that this should not be unusual is itself ... unusual.
(via Classics-L)

Peter Junger, RIP

Cleveland Plain Dealer (Nov. 24, 2006):
Peter Junger, president and religious chairman of the Cleveland Buddhist Temple and professor emeritus at Case Western Reserve University's School of Law, died at his Cleveland home last week.

Junger, 73, was a computer law expert who sued the U.S. government in 1996, claiming his free-speech rights were denied because a federal law forbid him from teaching a computer encryption program to students from Canada or publishing it in a textbook.

. . .

Just before he died, Junger completed an article on the patentability of computer software, Leatherberry said. Colleagues hope to get it published for Junger posthumously.
Peter was also a denizen of Cyberia-l, where I learned of his passing.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Snopes: Does turkey make you especially sleepy?

Urban Legends Reference Pages: The Big Sleep:
Claim: Eating turkey makes people especially drowsy.

Status: False.

From Geek Press:
The most likely excuse for drowsiness? Oh, I don't know. It's a mystery. Could have something to do with the 6 pounds of protein and carbs sitting in your belly, and the fact that your body has to rush all available blood to the region to deal with the holiday wad. Add some wine to the mix, and it's a miracle you're not face down in the yams before the pie comes.
As for me, I'm almost face down on the keyboard.

OUPblog: A Traditional American Thanksgiving

OUPblog: A Traditional American Thanksgiving

Top 25 Contemporary Worship Songs

Christian Copyright Licensing International has a list of the Top 25 Songs by region.

In the US, the current top five are:
1 "Here I Am To Worship" Hughes, Tim
2 "How Great Is Our God" Tomlin, Chris \ Reeves, Jesse \ Cash, Ed
3 "Blessed Be Your Name" Redman, Beth \ Redman, Matt
4 "Open The Eyes Of My Heart" Baloche, Paul
5 "Come Now Is The Time To Worship" Doerksen, Brian

In the UK it is:
1 "Shout To The Lord" Zschech, Darlene
2 "Be Still" Evans, David J.
3 "In Christ Alone" Townend, Stuart \ Getty, Keith
4 "Come Now Is The Time To Worship" Doerksen, Brian
5 "Lord I Lift Your Name On High" Founds, Rick

1 "Here I Am To Worship" Hughes, Tim
2 "Shout To The Lord" Zschech, Darlene
3 "Lord I Lift Your Name On High" Founds, Rick
4 "How Deep The Father's Love For Us" Townend, Stuart
5 "In Christ Alone" Townend, Stuart \ Getty, Keith

They also track Canada, South Africa, and Sweden (!).

Thursday, November 16, 2006

2 + 2 = 22

headsup: the blog: Son of 'do the math':
Leading, of course, to today's lesson:

During World War II, he served in the Army in Okinawa, Japan, from April 1943 until 1945, said his sister, Willamina Laughner.

Neat trick for a lad from Pennsylvania. The rest of the Army didn't get to Okinawa until April 1945.

What this looks like (this is a hypothesis; I wasn't there) is the sort of error known as a 2+2=22. Reporter asks when decedent served. Sister says 'April 1943 to 1945.' Reporter asks where. Sister says 'Okinawa.' Reporter puts two and two together and gets 22.

Pair Use The Force For Jedi Religion - Yahoo! News UK

Pair Use The Force For Jedi Religion - Yahoo! News UK:
Two self-styled Jedi Knights are stepping up an intergalactic campaign for formal recognition. Umada and Yunyun, also known as John Wilkinson and Charlotte Law, want the UN to acknowledge 'The Force' is worthy of being called a religion. The couple claim to be part of the UK's fourth largest religious group, after 400,000 people recorded their faith as 'Jedi' in the 2001 Census.

Hat tip: PhDiva

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Translating temperatures in your head : Lingamish

Lingamish has a nice way for Translating temperatures in your head:
However, thanks to yours truly, you can now convert Celsius temperatures to Fahrenheit with this simple method:

1. Double the Celsius temperature.
2. Subtract 10%.
3. Add 32.

I'll try to remember that.

Sherbet or Sherbert?

Nancy Hall, Assimilatory /r/ insertion, at phonoloblog has the story.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Is a burrito a sandwich? Judge says no - Yahoo! News

This from Yahoo! News:
The Panera Bread Co. bakery-and-cafe chain says yes. But a judge said no, ruling against Panera in its bid to prevent a Mexican restaurant from moving into the same shopping mall.

Whenever you read about a judge defining words, you have to ask "for purposes of what?" And here's the answer:
Panera has a clause in its lease that prevents the White City Shopping Center in Shrewsbury from renting to another sandwich shop. Panera tried to invoke that clause to stop the opening of an Qdoba Mexican Grill.

There it is: for purposes of the exclusivity clause in Panera's lease agreement. These anti-competitive clause tend to get construed narrowly so it is little surprise that a burrito would be consider an exception to the sandwich clause.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Neuroscientific Look at Speaking in Tongues - New York Times

A Neuroscientific Look at Speaking in Tongues - New York Times:
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania took brain images of five women while they spoke in tongues and found that their frontal lobes — the thinking, willful part of the brain through which people control what they do — were relatively quiet, as were the language centers. The regions involved in maintaining self-consciousness were active. The women were not in blind trances, and it was unclear which region was driving the behavior.
Contrary to what may be a common perception, studies suggest that people who speak in tongues rarely suffer from mental problems. A recent study of nearly 1,000 evangelical Christians in England found that those who engaged in the practice were more emotionally stable than those who did not. Researchers have identified at least two forms of the practice, one ecstatic and frenzied, the other subdued and nearly silent.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Schenck Thoughts: How much does Acts shuffle events?

Schenck Thoughts: How much does Acts shuffle events? Mostly examines theological issues (e.g. inspiration).

A Mention of Jeffery's Book

Dyneslines, , has a mention of Peter Jeffery's books on Secret Mark: Imitatio Christi, or Getting naked for Jesus' sake!:
The whole matter has been reopened in a book that has just appeared: Peter Jeffery, The Secret Gospel of Mark Unveiled: Imagined Rituals of Sex, Death, and Madness in a Biblical Forgery (Yale University Press). This book discusses many interesting aspects of the cultural construction of homosexuality, both ancient and modern. Jeffery strongly inclines to the view that the text was a hoax perpetrated by Morton Smith. But he cannot prove this. The likelihood, then, is that, like certain disputed art objects, the text will continue to have its defenders. It also seems to have enjoyed some circulation in counterculture circles.

Since the book is just about to be published, I'm not sure how well he knows it, apart from press releases and publisher's blurbs. In any case, the analogy to disputed art objects is intriguing.

The JESUS Film

The JESUS Film dubbed into more languages than you can shake at stick at. I checked out the English, French, Italian, Greek, and Estonian versions, and listening along is a real test of one's listening competence. As far as I can tell, the accents of all but the English sounded authentic or at least what I expected.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Wallace v. IBM (Antitrust Implications of the GPL.

The antitrust implications of the GNU Public License are explored in a 7th circuit opinion by Judge Easterbrook, excerpted at The Patry Copyright Blog: Gnu Gnu.

Recycled Knowledge: Typographical variety

Recycled Knowledge: Typographical variety -- includes an enumeration of different quotations marks.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

In the Voting Booth, Bias Starts at the Top - New York Times

The New York Times has an interesting article toay, In the Voting Booth, Bias Starts at the Top:
Candidates listed first on the ballot get about two percentage points more votes on average than they would have if they had been listed later (flipping a 49 to 51 defeat into a 51 to 49 victory). In fact, in about half the races I have studied, the advantage of first place is even bigger — certainly big enough to win some elections these days.

I wonder to what extent the pundits and prognosticators have factoring in the ballot order into their predictions? If the races are as close as they say they are, then it could make a significant difference.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

YouTube - Noah takes a photo of himself every day for 6 years.

Pretty neat: YouTube - Noah takes a photo of himself every day for 6 years.

Believe it or not, I had not heard about this concept until today, and it has already spawned a must-see parody, Ben takes a photo of himself.

ALSO, this guy here has been doing it for longer, he's better at striking a consistent pose, and his facial/hair styles have more variety.

Recreation of a Medieval Market

See the slideshow.

Zotero - The Next-Generation Research Tool

Zotero - The Next-Generation Research Tool

Is this any good?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Volokh Conspiracy - How Embarrassing:

The Volokh Conspiracy - How Embarrassing: This is actually a claim from a patent application:
9. The method of providing user interface displays in an image forming apparatus which is really a bogus claim included amongst real claims, and which should be removed before filing; wherein the claim is included to determine if the inventor actually read the claims and the inventor should instruct the attorneys to remove the claim.

I think someone is going to get fired -- and it is not the inventor.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

OUPblog: Steel Drivin' Man: An Excerpt

OUPblog: Steel Drivin' Man: An Excerpt:
It's not everyday that the true history behind a folk icon is discovered. Scott Reynolds Nelson has done just that in Steel Drivin' Man: John Henry The Untold Story of an American Legend. By using census data, penitentiary reports and railroad company reports Nelson follows the trail of John Henry from jail to the legendary contest with a steam drill. Below we have excerpted the beginning of chapter one.

Mencken, H.L. 1921. The American Language

Mencken, H.L. 1921. The American Language:
"This classic was written to clarify the discrepancies between British and American English and to define the distinguishing characteristics of American English. Mencken’s groundbreaking study was undoubtedly the most scientific linguistic work on the American language to date and continues to serve as a definitive resource in the field."

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Why Good Programmers Are Lazy and Dumb

Why Good Programmers Are Lazy and Dumb: "I realized that, paradoxically enough, good programmers need to be both lazy and dumb."

Obviously, not too lazy and dumb...

Wired 14.11: Very Short Stories

Wired 14.11: Very Short Stories: "We'll be brief: Hemingway once wrote a story in just six words ('For sale: baby shoes, never worn.') and is said to have called it his best work. So we asked sci-fi, fantasy, and horror writers from the realms of books, TV, movies, and games to take a shot themselves."

Gown removed carelessly. Head, less so.
- Joss Whedon

Monday, October 23, 2006

rogueclassicism: This Day in Ancient History

rogueclassicism: This Day in Ancient History: "ante diem x kalendas novembres: 4004 B.C. -- according to Bishop Ussher, the universe was created "

Sunday, October 22, 2006

headsup: the blog: How not to screw up poll reporting

headsup: the blog: How not to screw up poll reporting: "4a) It ain't that complicated. 'The poll of 600 registered voters was conducted Oct. 18-20 by the Gallup Organization for the Daily Blatt. It has a margin of sampling error of 4 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level' will do. Don't tell me readers won't understand it; you run earned-run averages every day."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Monday, October 16, 2006

Enthusiast uses Google to reveal Roman ruins

news @ - Enthusiast uses Google to reveal Roman ruins - Google Earth programme leads to remains of ancient villa.: "Using satellite images from Google Maps and Google Earth, an Italian computer programmer has stumbled upon the remains of an ancient villa."

h/t: Mirabilis

:: :: People :: Roger writes from rehab (xhtml)

:: :: People :: Roger writes from rehab (xhtml): "For 40 years, I didn't miss a single deadline, but since July, I have missed every one. I also, to my intense disappointment, missed the Telluride and Toronto film festivals. Having just written my first review since June ('The Queen'), I think an update is in order."

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Namespacing your JavaScript

Namespacing your JavaScript: Uses self-invocation to set up a namespace. I prefer the var SCC = new function() { }; notation.

Vinland Map Enthusiast's Site

Vinland Map: By J. Huston McCulloch, who still seems to hold out hope that it is not a forgery.

Timothy Titus to Corinth

The visit of "Timothy" and "Titus" to Corinth: Richard Fellows has the maps.

Безѹмниѥ : Some historical Chinese resources

Безѹмниѥ : Some historical Chinese resources: "Jacques Guillaume’s Introduction to Chinese Historical Phonology is, for all its lecture-note brevity, a fine presentation of the basics of the field."

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Language Log: Hangul Day

Language Log: Hangul Day: "Hangul is considered a great achievement for several reasons. First and foremost, it is a perfect alphabet."

Friday, October 06, 2006

Lexicon of Greek Personal Names

Lexicon of Greek Personal Names

Classics-L: Prospects for a Greek grammar

[2006: October] Prospects for a Greek grammar: "Victorian idealists had an influential but very flat-footed reading of Plato. According to them, to put it quite briefly, Plato said truth equals being equals one, and he said this over and over in very simple ways. To argue against such a reading you naturally go to the text and argue against, say, Jowett's translation. But Liddell and Scott cause a problem because they took these idealists as authorities for the translation of Plato."

The writer of the message, Colin McLarty, goes on to discuss Smyth's grammar as well.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

PrawfsBlawg: Course materials copyright conundrum

PrawfsBlawg: Course materials copyright conundrum: "But the trickier question and the one that’s been on my mind since class is whether the prof who assembled the materials (or the law school as assignee of the copyright) would have an infringement claim against the student if she did copy it."

That would be the academic question. The practical question, however, is: can the student afford to pay the judgment?

PrawfsBlawg: When is Forthcoming Work "Forthcoming"?

PrawfsBlawg: When is Forthcoming Work "Forthcoming"?

gthomas : Message: New DeConick Commentary

gthomas : Message: New DeConick Commentary: "I received my copy of April DeConick's 'The Original Gospel of Thomas in Translation' in yesterday's mail. Obviously, I haven't had a chance to read it from cover to cover, but I am certainly impressed by what I have seen so

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Religion Clause: En Banc Review Sought In California Library Use Case

Religion Clause: En Banc Review Sought In California Library Use Case

If the full Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declines to rehear the appeal "en banc," then the next step is to ask the Supreme Court to take the case.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Red State Rabble: Subtle Distinctions

Red State Rabble: Subtle Distinctions:
Dawkins, it seems, is the sort of man who can see quite clearly how the multitude of species we see around us today descended from a common ancestor -- something that requires both sound judgement and the ability to make fine distinctions -- but he can't tell the difference between a holy roller and a Unitarian.

The difference is actually pretty simple: the holy roller wants to go to heaven and the Unitarian would rather go to a discussion about heaven.

Is That Legal?: Eric Muller's Hierarchy of Legal Scholarship

Is That Legal?: Eric Muller's Hierarchy of Legal Scholarship

Friday, September 22, 2006

Religion Clause: 9th Circuit OK's Exclusion Of Worship Services From Library Rooms

Religion Clause: 9th Circuit OK's Exclusion Of Worship Services From Library Rooms: "Yesterday in Faith Center Church Evangelistic Ministries v. Glover, (9th Cir., Sept. 20, 2006), a 3-judge panel in the 9th Circuit wrote 3 opinions, and by a vote of 2-1 decided that a Contra Costa County public library could make its meeting rooms available for 'meetings, programs, or activities of educational, cultural or community interest', while excluding their use for 'religious services'. "

The Volokh Conspiracy - Fred Goldman's Attempt to Seize O.J.'s Right of Publicity:

The Volokh Conspiracy - Fred Goldman's Attempt to Seize O.J.'s Right of Publicity:: "The theory is simple: O.J. owes Goldman, according to the Complaint, $38 million (the original $19 million wrongful death award plus interest). O.J. has a valuable asset -- his right of publicity, which is to say the right to distribute merchandising containing his name, likeness, signature, voice, and the like (e.g., autographs, T-shirts, coffee mugs, and the like), the right to license these items for merchandising, and the right to license these items for advertising. Goldman, the theory goes, may therefore seize the asset to help satisfy the judgment, just like he could seize real estate, tangible property, patents, copyrights, and the like." - Home - Jesus and the Eyewitnesses - Home - Jesus and the Eyewitnesses

Thursday, September 21, 2006

SCOTUSblog: Ruling: senator cannot be military judge, too

SCOTUSblog: Ruling: senator cannot be military judge, too: "The highest court in the military judiciary, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, on Wednesday barred a U.S. senator from sitting on a military appeals court that decides criminal cases. By a vote of 4-1, the Court found unconstitutional the dual role of Lindsey O. Graham as a senator (Republican from South Carolina) and as a reserve officer sitting on the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Religious Liberty Archive : Rothgerber Johnson & Lyons LLP, Colorado Springs, CO - State and federal laws pertaining to religious freedom in the Unite

Religious Liberty Archive : Rothgerber Johnson & Lyons LLP, Colorado Springs, CO - State and federal laws pertaining to religious freedom in the United States: "The Religious Liberty Archive is an extensive repository of valuable information and a useful resource for anyone seeking information about state and federal laws pertaining to religious freedom in the United States. "

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Son completes unfinished Tolkien

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Son completes unfinished Tolkien: "An unfinished book by JRR Tolkien has been edited into a completed work by his son for publication next year."

Hebrew and Aramaic Philology: My PhD dissertation

Hebrew and Aramaic Philology: My PhD dissertation

The Macintosh Biblioblog: Ottobib - Web-based bibliography formatter

The Macintosh Biblioblog: Ottobib - Web-based bibliography formatter: "Ottobib is a site that allows you to simply type in the ISBN number of a book that you need to reference, then choose the style that the bibliography must be written in, and it spits back your fully formatted bibliography. Simple as that."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Block Scoping in JavaScript

Contrary to C, JavaScript does not directly support block-level scoping, only at the objects and function levels. (Global scoping is really just scoping within the window object.) Thus, the second outer block alert will be 3, not 2:

function foo0() {
var bar = 2;
alert("outer block: "+bar);
if (true) {
var bar = 3;
alert("inner block: "+bar);
alert("outer block: "+bar);

Because JavaScript scoping is at the function and object levels, block scoping can be simulated with anonymous functions and anonymous objects.

Function-based Block Scoping

Anonymous functions can simulate block scoping by defining a closure and calling it:

function foo1a() {
var bar = 2;
alert("outer block: "+bar);
if (true) (function() {
var bar = 3;
alert("inner block: "+bar);
alert("outer block: "+bar);

The parentheses around the closure are necessary to avoid a syntax error when calling the closure immediately. Formal arguments are also considered to be at the function scope, and they can be used to bind the block scoped variables:

function foo1b() {
var bar = 2;
alert("outer block: "+bar);
if (true) (function(bar) {
alert("inner block: "+bar);
alert("outer block: "+bar);

Another implementation of block scoping with closures uses the new operator that automatically calls its function:

function foo1c() {
var bar = 2;
alert("outer block: "+bar);
if (true) new function() {
var bar = 3;
alert("inner block: "+bar);
alert("outer block: "+bar);

The syntax of the new operator is a bit tidier.

Object-Based Block Scoping

Just as an anonymous function can implement block scoping, so too can an anonymous object, using the with statement:

function foo2a() {
var bar = 2;
alert("outer block: "+bar);
if (true) with({ bar:3 }) {
alert("inner block: "+bar);
alert("outer block: "+bar);

Of all of these examples, the with statement has the tidiest syntax -- but only those members in the anonymous object are block scoped. Thus, variables of both function and block scope can be mixed within the same block:

function foo2b() {
var bar = 2;
var baz = 1;
alert("outer block: "+baz);
if (true) with({ bar:3 }) {
var baz = 4;
alert("inner block: "+baz);
alert("outer block: "+baz);

In this example, the second outer block alert for baz is 4, because baz still has function scope. It remains to be seen whether this ability to mix scoping is a bug (more confusing) or a feature (more flexible) for the with statement version.

Automatic pullquotes with JavaScript and CSS | 456 Berea Street

Automatic pullquotes with JavaScript and CSS | 456 Berea Street

Evangelical Textual Criticism: Coptic Digital Resources

Evangelical Textual Criticism: Coptic Digital Resources: "Listed below are the main internet resources for the Coptic language. If anybody else knows of good ones, please post them and I will update this list."

Davide's Notes: Why Paul wrote in Greek to the Romans

Davide's Notes: Why Paul wrote in Greek to the Romans

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Chris Culver: Latest Finno-Ugric kookery

Безѹмниѥ: Latest Finno-Ugric kookery:

The book has all the hallmarks of crackpot writing. There’s the dedication to a maverick in the field, in this case, Wiik himself. There’s the epigraph from some famous personage talking about courage, in this case Goethe’s Only if you dare to consider possible what is impossible, you will be capable of great discoveries. There’s of course a total disregard for scholarly tone, and seemingly no proofreading by a native speaker of the language used, note his placing of Spanish-style double question marks around rhetorical questions, which abound on every page.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 -- Pluto is Now Just a Number: 134340 -- Pluto is Now Just a Number: 134340

Six Degrees of Separation Bogus?

BBC NEWS | Programmes | More Or Less | Connecting with people in six steps:

Judith Kleinfeld, a professor psychology at Alaska Fairbanks University, went back to Milgram's original research notes and found something surprising.

It turned out, she told us, that 95% of the letters sent out had failed to reach the target.

Not only did they fail to get there in six steps, they failed to get there at all.

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Virgins? What virgins?

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Virgins? What virgins?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Patently-O: Professor Kimberly Moore Unanimously Confirmed

Patently-O: Patent Law Blog: Professor Kimberly Moore Unanimously Confirmed. Kim Moore was the head of the patent/IP track at my alma mater after I left.

PrawfsBlawg: Announcing: The "Research Canons" Project

PrawfsBlawg: Announcing: The "Research Canons" Project:

Legal academia assumes that entry-level candidates and new scholars have done the background research necessary for their area of expertise. But it is left to the individual to get this knowledge. Certainly, the J.D. provides a baseline, and mentors are helpful in providing further direction. But there is nothing akin to comps that sets forth a comprehensive listing for new folks to follow. Many of us have heard the question, in the AALS interview, in the job talk, or as a new scholar presenting a paper: 'Well, of course, you have read the work of Prof. X in this area, right?' Failure to respond appropriately to this question may raise eyebrows and cast doubt on the scholar's research.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

History Carnival #38

History Carnival #38 with its highlights on the "Scholarly Life":

“Education is when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get when you don’t.” — Pete Seeger

Ralph Luker shared a piece of his own research, a lovely example of how a simple footnote can be an education if you take it seriously and do it right.

Tim Burke offers a dilemma of historical writing from his own work in You Can’t Tell the Players Without a Scorecard (also here), and discusses the dynamics of the end of Apartheid. Finally, in a challenge answered by far too few (I’ll get to it after this carnival is up, really!), he asks about the cleavages and battlefields of our respective subfields.

Finally, Brian Ulrich waxes nostalgic for the “cutting edge” scholars of the past

The Gospel according to Lynyrd Skynyrd |

Free Bird!

The Lesser of Two Weevils: Genesis 6:13-15 The big not-a-boat

The Lesser of Two Weevils: Genesis 6:13-15 The big not-a-boat

Guardian Unlimited Books | News | Rival biographer admits hoax Betjeman love letter

Rival biographer admits hoax Betjeman love letter proven by an embedded acrostic.

(h/t: Mark Goodacre)

Encytemedia: The Real Reason Designers Don't Contribute To Open Source

Encytemedia: The Real Reason Designers Don't Contribute To Open Source

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Patry Copyright Blog: Funk Parlor Deep Six'd

The Patry Copyright Blog: Funk Parlor Deep Six'd -- The Ninth Circuit on the relationship between the lack of substantial similarity and evidence of access.

Escaping Strings for Dynamic REs

Here's a simple replace fragment to escape the special characters in a string for building patterns for a dynamic regular expression:

.replace(/([*^$?{}()[\]])/g, "\\$1")

Ancient Coins: Forgeries

Ancient Coins: Forgeries

Ancient Coins: eFakes

Ancient Coins: eFakes

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Language Log: Bogosity

Bogosity is apparently a CMU coinage. I was at CMU in the mid-1980s. The terms "bogosity" and "bogometer" were much in use, but "microLenat" was not current.

As for reference to a gradual student named Reid, I have to wonder whether that person was Brian Reid, the author of Scribe.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Javascript: innerHTML vs. DOM

There's some debate about whether Javascript code should be using the DOM or innerHTML. My take is that browsers are designed to parse HTML and we should not reinvent the wheel, because it will only be buggier and
slower. Thus, I feel that the presumption ought to be that innerHTML be used before the HTML is parsed, and DOM afterwards.

Patently-O: KSR v. Teleflex: Rethinking Obviousness

Patently-O: Patent Law Blog: KSR v. Teleflex: Rethinking Obviousness

The Secret Gospel of Mark ~ Yuri Kuchinsky

The Secret Gospel of Mark ~ Yuri Kuchinsky

Royal Road

μὴ εἶναι βασιλικὴν ἀτραπὸν ἐπὶ γεωμετρίαν (Proclus, {TLG 4036.011}: 68,14)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Crockford on Prototypal Inheritance

Douglas Crockford has put up this intriguing page on Prototypal Inheritance in JavaScript:

Five years ago I wrote Classical Inheritance in JavaScript. It showed that JavaScript is a class-free, prototypal language, and that it has sufficient expressive power to simulate a classical system. My programming style has evolved since then, as any good programmer's should. I have learned to fully embrace prototypalism, and have liberated myself from the confines of the classical model.

. . .

Fortunately, it is easy to create an operator that implements true prototypal inheritance. It is a standard feature in my toolkit, and I highly recommend it for yours.

function object(o) {
function F() {}
F.prototype = o;
return new F();

The object function untangles JavaScript's constructor pattern, achieving true prototypal inheritance. It takes an old object as a parameter and returns an empty new object that inherits from the old one. If we attempt to obtain a member from the new object, and it lacks that key, then the old object will supply the member. Objects inherit from objects. What could be more object oriented than that?

It makes sense that since JavaScript is a prototype-based OOP language, its prototyping support should be exploited directly, not used to simulate something we are more used to (here, class-based OOP).

ur-, "proto-"

The versatile German prefix ur- (also er- for verbs) derives from Germanic *uz- and is related to English out-. For more, see the AHD entry for PIE *ud-.

nehmen, to take

The productive German verb nehmen, "to take," has largely been supplanted in English by the verb take. Nevertheless, cognates of nehmen have survived into English.

The most direct cognate is the archaic verb nim (nimmed), which means "to steal." More common in modern English is the adjective numb, based on the former past participle plus an unetymological -b, with the general idea of "taken of one's senses." A related word is nimble.

Home - Midatlantic Region SBL

Mark Goodacre is the 2007 plenary speaker.

Idle musings of a bookseller: For all you linguists

Apparently, cows have regional accents.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Pluto is about to be demoted from Planet to "Pluton"

IAU Website: NEWS

PrawfsBlawg: To Have a Research Agenda, or Not to Have a Research Agenda: That is the Question

PrawfsBlawg: To Have a Research Agenda, or Not to Have a Research Agenda: That is the Question

PrawfsBlawg: Student Scholarship

PrawfsBlawg: Student Scholarship


Lately, I've been keeping current with my programming skill by learning JavaScript. Douglas Crockford aptly called JavaScript, The World's Most Misunderstood Programming Language. Here's how Crockford put it:

JavaScript's C-like syntax, including curly braces and the clunky for statement, makes it appear to be an ordinary procedural language. This is misleading because JavaScript has more in common with functional languages like Lisp or Scheme than with C or Java. It has arrays instead of lists and objects instead of property lists. Functions are first class. It has closures. You get lambdas without having to balance all those parens.

I got to fall in love with Lisp at CMU, and now with JavaScript I have a powerful, Lisp-like language that comes free on my browser. Also interesting is that JavaScript is a prototype-based object-oriented language.

Nevertheless, grokking this language takes experience, and one of the purposes of this blog is to document some of the lessons learned from the school of hard knocks.

Why a Subsidiary Blog?

My main blog is Hypotyposeis, so why am I starting another blog?

Well, I like to blog when I'm learning new things, but not everything I figure out quite fits the scope of the main blog, especially in the areas of law, high tech, and modern languages. Hence, this blog.