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Mumpsimus (n). One who foolishly clings to old and familiar things.

Man, I haven't been on here in a week! There's been lots of stuff worth posting.

So it looks like it's impossible to leave comments on a known site except by the dubiously functional means of me reposting links to twitter or the like via, and pulling responses back in? If that's the case maybe I should start posting everything I post here to twitter? I don't know. It might be time for me to rethink how I use this blog, and consider sliding back to wordpress or the like. It'd be difficult though cause Known is super easy and fun to use.

Blissymbolics / Semantography

3 min read

So Charles Bliss's original work Semantography is available on the Internet Archive. Its's a fascinating work; the bulk of it is a reproduction of a typewritten manuscript, corrected typoes and all. Charles and his wife Claire put it together and tried in vain to get it published, for many years.  She died before that happened.

Charles and Claire's story is kind of amazing. He was Jewish, she Christian; he was taken away to Dachau and Buchenwald, and she worked tirelessly trying to secure his release (this was in the earliest days when release from a concentration camp was even conceivable).  She succeeded somehow in getting him out and exiled to England, but the war began and she was unable to get to England to meet him (she was in Romania, and Nazi Germany lay between them).  They ended up travelling in opposite directions around the world and meeting in Shanghai, China, where they stayed through the war, eventually departing for Australia where they lived thenceforth.

She died in 1965 and his later work (the second edition of Semantography) is full of tributes to her.

Bliss believed that his system could change the world. He thought that ideographic writing, about which he'd learned in China, was the best kind of writing because it wasn't tied to just one language (that's how he understood it anyway -- that's kind of an idealized, inaccurate picture of Chinese writing).  He also had a deep distrust of ordinary language -- specifically of its misuse by ideologues and demagogues to manipulate people.  He (much like the followers of Alfred Korzybski, with whom I believe he was familiar) thought that a rigorous analysis of language would make the flaws of these kinds of mainpulation obvious.  He essentially thought that if you rewrote any vacuous or ideological or manipulative statement in Blissymbolics, its flaws would become immediately apparent and people would become immune to its power.

I've only just begun reading the book, and honestly, it's huge -- I'm not sure I'm going to get through it all.  I think that his understanding of language was naive, and his belief in the power of his system was... optimistic, to say the least. But I can't help liking him, even admiring him. I wish it *was* possible to change the world by the means he hoped to use to change it. And hats off to him for dedicating himself to it in the face of all odds.

"This is my jam... and biscuits"

1 min read

I want to work this into conversations and make it a thing, because it makes me chuckle.  Help me out.  When you say that something is your jam, point out that it is your biscuits as well.  Let's all make this happen.

A brief dip into Wordpress

2 min read

On the theory that it would be nice to have a widely used and standardized and well supported CMS, and feeling iffy about the small install base and such of this software, Known, I tried switching the Mumpsimus to Wordpress.  I'm back!  Less than a day later.  Couple things...

  • The RSS import is apparently broken.  Fails silently.  So I was unable to upload my existing posts here on known to the wordpress install.  It'd have to be a clean slate.
  • The interface is ugly and overcomplicated
  • The typography/design principle seems to be "gigantic headers everywhere" both in the composition screen and the default theme
  • Everything is a plugin, RSS import is a plugin, you even need a plugin to turn *off* gravatars.  This isn't a terrible thing in and of itself, but one of the reasons I was feeling iffy about Known and wp was looking good, is that known has a lot of dependencies (depends on a lot of libraries) and I was feeling like maybe it was kind of fragile.  Well, with wp you're not dependent on a lot of php libraries, you're dependent on a lot of plugins.

Maybe if I gave it a little more time I'd like it but right now I am not down with it for this particular purpose.  I like the attractive interface and simplicity of Known, right out of the box.  It's good stuff.

So I'm back.

If I decide to go back to wp this and all previous posts will disappear because freaking wordpress sucks too bad for me to import them from an RSS export.

La Bona Lingvo

2 min read

I read what may have been my first full-length book in Esperanto.  Well, it wasn't that long; it was Claude Piron's La Bona Lingvo. It is about Esperanto itself, specifically about Piron's experiences with the language and his beliefs about what is true to the language, or not, and what is good for the language, or not, and what the future of the language might be.

One thing is distinctive about Piron, and that is that he cares a lot about the non-European world.  He thinks of Esperanto as only accidentally European -- that it could work just as well if all of its European vocabulary were swapped out for non-European vocabulary, and that it works best when it is used on its own terms rather than as a quasi- or substitue Eurolang.

And he thinks that real Esperantists in fact do end up using it on its own terms; playing with its structures and possibilities; synthesizing it from within. He loves that "real" langauge that he has gotten to know over the years using it among Esperantists all over the world.  And he wants to paint a picture of it and state his admiration for and beliefs about it.


Mi ĵus legis ion, kio estis eble mia unua longa libro en Esperanto. Nu, ĝi ne estis tiom longa. Estis _La Bona Lingvo_ de Claude Piron. Temas pri Esperanto mem, ĉefe la spertoj de Piron pri la lingvo, kaj liaj kredoj pri kio estas fidela al la lingvo aŭ malfidela, kio estas bona por la lingvo, aŭ malbona, kaj kian estontecon povos havi la lingvo.

Pri Piron, io aparta estas, ke li tre zorgas pri la ne-eŭropa mondo. Li konsideras Esperanton nur pro la sorto Eŭropana, kaj supozas ke ĝi funkcius same bone se oni tute anstataŭigus la eŭropan vortŝtokon per neeŭropa; kaj ke ĝi funkcias plej bone kiam oni uzis ĝin kiel ĝi mem, ne kiel kvazaŭa aŭ anstataŭa europlingvo.

Kaj li kredas, ke realaj Esperantistoj ja uzas ĝin kiel ĝi mem; ludante per la strukturoj kaj eblecoj; kunigkreante ĝin elinterne. Li amas tiun "realan" lingvon, kion li ekkonis dum la jaroj, uzante ĝin kune kun esperantistoj tutmonde. Kaj li volas pentri bildon de ĝi kaj konigi lian admiron por ĝi kaj liajn kredajn pri ĝi.


Happy 2019!

Pain in the butt publishing here, reposting elsewhere.

1 min read

I've been posting here and using to post to twitter, but that ain't automatic, not that I can tell.  So I go to my page and paste stuff in and post it.  I duplicate post here and (accursed) Facebook.  I even post to (doomed) G+ sometimes, and to mastodon too.

Gotta be some better way to POSSE.  I'll figure it out.  Or I won't.

My Cassandra moment

1 min read

The only time I've been on a radio call-in show was in 2007 when some NPR show was talking about the acquisition of Doubleclick by Google.  I was acquainted with Doubleclick because they were notoriously privacy-invasive (notorious among Slashdot-reading nerds) and when I called in I started with something like "Doubleclick is fairly well known as a kind of sleazy operation --" and the NPR talking heads cut me off instantly and went on to talk about something else.  Since then the invasive tracking and profiling that Doubleclick pioneered has gone on to ruin everything about the web.





(I'll be shown to be even more right if we ever learn as much about what Google's up to as we have about what Facebook is up to....)


La Bona Lingvo / The Good Language

1 min read

Legante libron pri la esprimpovo de Esperanto kiel nature parolata, de Claude Piron, nome La Bona Lingvo.  Tre plezura legi! 

Reading a book about the expressive power of Esperanto as it is naturally spoken, by Clausde Piron, namely The Good Language.  A great pleasure to read

Watched the 1955 movie "We're No Angels" last night. Highly recommended Christmas movie! Loved Peter Ustinov as Jules; he's the best, though of course Humphrey Bogart was great. (No relation to the later film with De Niro and Penn)