Caveat: 베어도 움 돋이

I learned this aphorism from my book of Korean aphorisms.

베어도           움  돋이       um  dod.i
cut-INF-CONCES bud sprout-ADV
Though [it's] cut, [it sprouts] like a bud sprouting.

This has an interesting grammar as far as I can figure out – there’s no main verb, really. The main verb (at the end) is instead in an adverbial form (the -이 ending). So really it’s something like “Though you cut it, the bud a-sproutingly…”. That’s the most I can get out of my grammar book – though I concede I’m a bit rusty on navigating these things – this is my first Korean aphorism in a year and a half.

I think the best contemporary parallel aphorism in English is the infamous whack-a-mole meme. You can’t get rid of a problem by hacking off buds – you’ve got to tackle it by the roots.


Caveat: LINGVA LATINA vs 한국말

So I was surfing the internet to random linguistics things – as one does – when I ran across this youtube video of a guy giving a passionate speech in seemingly entirely spontaneous Latin. He’s not what you would call a first-langage native speaker of Latin, obviously (there’s no such beast), but he’s definitely what one would classify as a fully fluent second language speaker of it. His Latin is “accented” by his first language (Italian) – but anyway, most fluent Latin speakers speak what is called “church Latin” which is essentially what we might think of as “Latin with an Italian accent”.

I suppose this intrigued me because I studied Latin while in high school, and subsequently was in essence a student of Romance Philology at the University of Pennsylvania, in my graduate program in Spanish Literature and Linguistics. I was required to take Spanish philology, which included being able to negotiate texts in late Iberian Latin and Old Spanish, as well as familiarize myself with other languages that influenced the Spanish Language’s evolution: Arabic, Gothic, “Celtiberian”, Basque, etc. I also had to take a “reading exam” in French (quite hard for me – my high school French was originally poor and rusty too) and Portuguese (less hard – I’d studied Portuguese some).

The epiphany that struck me as I watched this man speechifying in Latin was that in fact, I understood him better than I would a similar speech in Korean. The combination of my fluency in Spanish, my familiarity with other Romance languages like French, Portuguese and Italian, and my original fairly strong Latin from high school served well enough to make a lot of sense out of what the man was saying. I couldn’t necessarily give a summary of his ideas, but I could at least gather topic to some extent, and catch lots of individual concepts. My Korean comprehension isn’t quite that good – even though I lived in Korea for more than a decade and several times dedicated myself to formal instruction in Korean (maybe a cumulative of 2 years worth of college-level Korean).

This is of course a bit depressing, given my publicly visible “revised bucket list“. I haven’t been doing much Korean study, these days.

Caveat: Friday Blogroll

Despite their supposedly being quite passé, I still read many, many blogs.

I really like those blogs where the authors periodically post “links” pages – they link out to various items of interest found all over the internet. The absolute master of this is Tyler Cowen, who does it every single day, without fail, on his Marginal Revolution blog: he will post 4-10 links to items of political, philosophical, economic or cultural interest. Another blogger who does this well is Scott Alexander, who posts a monthly links page on his Astral Codex Ten blog (successor to the Slatestarcodex blog) – his links are less frequent but more interesting, on average.

I have often felt somewhat jealous of this capacity to post links-of-interest this way, reliably – and I’ve thought, oh, I should do that, too. But I’ve not been sufficiently motivated to do so myself.

Mostly these “links” articles link to specific blog entries found out there on the internet, or news articles or academic papers and publications. The other day I had a kind of brainstorm, which was that rather than try to replicate this “links” summary style, I’d instead do a kind of periodic “blogroll”. “Blogroll” is a term of art in blogging that stands for that thing on side of a blog that lists other blogs of interest – this here blog of mine has one, but I’m really bad about updating my blogroll. In fact, I only do so once every few years, and over time, it ends up being just barely indicative of what I’m reading regularly.

So I thought, instead – what if my blogroll was a feature on the blog? That would force me to update it more regularly, and you’d see what I was reading. I always have 5-10 blogs open in my browser: so how about if I just publish that list, on a regular basis? That’d show what I was reading. I suppose over time it might get repetitive or boring – some blogs are almost always open (e.g. Marginal Revolution or Astral Codex Ten, mentioned above). Others are one-time shots. So, to prevent that, I think I’ll make a rule that I can only mention a given blog once. Then it would be a kind of master list of blogs I’ve checked out at least at some point in my career of online textual consumption.

So with that preamble, this is my first entry in my hoped-to-be-regular feature, my “Friday Blogroll”. We’ll see how that goes.

Blogs in my browser right now (in a few very broad categories):

“Rationalist” or “rationalist-adjacent” blogs
(by my own conception – not necessarily the classification the author would choose)

Tech or programming related blogs

Design or urbanism related blogs

Language or Linguistics related blogs


Caveat: Tree #1099

This tree has a treehouse too: Mike and Penny (neighbors-down-the-road) have a treehouse that is more modest but also more photogenic than mine.

picture[daily log: walking, 4km; dogwalking, 3.5km]

Caveat: Tree #1098

This tree was next to the Klawock grocery store parking lot, overseen by white, snowy mountains.

picture[daily log: walking, 3.5km; retailing, 6hr]

Caveat: Lisp in Life

What follows will make no sense to you if you are unfamiliar with Conway’s “Game of Life” or don’t know what Lisp is.

Conway’s Game of Life is a very simple “cellular automaton” that is known to be Turing Complete. See wikipedia.

Lisp is a high-level computer programming language, quite revolutionary in its time and one of the oldest computer programming languages still in wide use. See wikipedia some more.

Long ago, I was a “Lisp hacker” – I wrote programs in Lisp. Specifically, as an undergraduate linguistics major (and computer science minor) at the University of Minnesota in the 1980’s, I wrote complex programs that could parse a tiny subset of highly ambiguous English syntax, centered on the multivalent nature of the word “that“. That was my senior thesis, that I prepared for Professor M. Kac, my advisor: it was a 50 page paper with an appendix in the form of a compilable Lisp program that was at least another 50 pages, printed out. I have a recollection that at one point, my program while in development caused the mainframe (yes, I was working on, I think, some kind of VAX at the time) to crash or something, and Dr Kac got a call in the middle of the night from the computer department at U of MN asking what in the world I was working on. In fact it wasn’t an infinite loop, but rather, a very very very long loop, and so the system admin had flagged it as de facto infinite.

That’s a digression.

Yesterday I found an article about a guy who has implemented a simple Lisp interpreter using Conway’s Game of Life. This is weird. But very cool and amazing. Here is a video of a very simple lisp program running that multiplies two numbers.

Another digression: given that Conway’s Game of Life is Turing complete, and given that the universe seems to be Turing complete, what if the universe is a simulation running on some really giant Conway’s Game of Life?


Caveat: Tree #1096

This tree was still holding up my treehouse, despite the weather’s best efforts.

picture[daily log: walking, 4km; dogwalking, 3.5km]

Caveat: a storehouse of decrepitude

I began disassembling my defunct storage tent today – despite the chilly, drizzly weather. I was fed up and frustrated with efforts to better understand some issues with my map server, so I thought I’d better use my time on something more on the manual-labor end of the scale.



Caveat: Dogwalking #18 and a handy problem-solving algorithm

I took the dog on a walk this morning – first in a week, as the road has been so icy and slippery I haven’t felt inspired to attempt it. The dog was pleased to take a long walk, and was on best behavior. I suspect that’s just coincidence – I don’t think she really thinks things through at that level, being a fairly impulsive beast.

Here are some pictures of the dog – walking.

She pulled hard on her leash till I let her off it.

She found a deer-carcass skeleton – but she didn’t get carried away with it, as dogs sometimes do with disgusting dead things.

She stood still for a brief moment for the camera. Not usual.

Meanwhile, here is a handy way to solve hard problems, as attributed to the famous physicist, Richard Feynman.

The Feynman Algorithm. “The steps are as follows: Write down the problem. Think real hard. Write down the solution. Easy!”


Caveat: Tree #1092

This tree was across from some big rocks.
Art and I drove to town for “shopping Thursday”, despite the road being quite icy and horrible (more rain on top of still unmelted ice), up to the east side of the 6 mile hill. I drove very slowly and only slid around a little bit.
picture[daily log: walking, 2km; ice-driving (automotive bobsledding), 8km]

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