Crystal Nights by Greg Egan

“The Phites who’d invented the boost had had one big advantage as they’d tinkered with each other’s brains: it had not been a purely theoretical exercise for them. They hadn’t gazed at anatomical diagrams and then reasoned their way to a better design. They had experienced the effects of thousands of small experimental changes, and the results had shaped their intuition for the process. Very little of that intuition had been spoken aloud, let alone written down and formalised. And the process of decoding those insights from a purely structural view of their brains was every bit as difficult as decoding the language itself.”

—Greg Egan, “Crystal Nights.”

Struck me as an interesting example of how lived experience cannot be reduced to language and abstraction.

Words & Phrases, 2020

  • diktats, a harsh punishment unilaterally imposed
  • griot, West African storyteller
  • amanuensis, transcriptionist
  • Anholt cultu
  • violent entertainment of context collapse
  • fissiparous, an organism is one that produces new individuals by fission/splitting
  • wegan diet, a vegan diet modified to include only wild-harvested meats
  • axis of assholes
  • slow-rolled
  • TTP, techniques, tactics and procedures
  • Moonlight Maze, Russian cyberattack on DoD in 1990s
  • semiotarchy, tyranny of signs
  • kenopsia, eerie feeling when you are the only one in a building
  • reality resetters
  • Weltschmerz, world pain
  • sprooks, spies and crooks
  • keening, public lamentation for the dead
  • LARPing, live action role playing
  • hustlers masquerading as philosophers
  • an alien in a trench coat of normalcy
  • Cultural defense warrior
  • Uncle Sid, the Buddha
  • Groypers, Gen Z Christian fundamentalist white nationalists
  • Stultus est sicut stultus facit, stupid is as stupid does
  • wu de, martial virtue
  • bathos, an anticlimax created by an unintentional lapse in mood from the sublime to the trivial
  • the freaky rich and their courtiers
  • shipaggedon
  • new cangaço, bandit in Brazil
  • micromort, one-in-a-million chance of death
  • Bric-à-brac
  • the straw that stirred the drink
  • learn to man the fry cooker
  • Herrenvolk, “master race” 
  • the firehose of falsehood
  • bourse, stock exchange
  • hyperfuturist
  • beinhaus, bone house, bird house of a human skull
  • nocebo, something making you ill because you expectmit to
  • oikeiôsis, something belonging to oneself
  • phantom urban topology
  • antimetabole vs. chiasmus
  • Coup Clutz Clan
  • tsujigiri, crossroads killing
  • fakokta, fucked up in Yiddish
  • criminally ignorant
  • surplus to requirements
  • symbrachydactyly, limb difference
  • reshook, past tense of reshake
  • Jantelagen, energy to ignore the fame of a famous person
  • recreational fear
  • solfeggio frequencies
  • Münchhausen Trilemma, more proof: circular, regressive, or dogmatic
  • boojahideen or booj
  • tribalism trap
  • poisonous creature comforts
  • the intimacy of scrutiny
  • gemba, closest to the decision makes the decision, Toyota
  • mouneh, Lebanese pickle
  • deficit of wonder
  • 臭いものに蓋 (kusai-mono-ni-futa). Its literal meaning is “to cover what stinks”. Its figurative meaning is to look the other way or hush up a problem
  • semantic satiation, using a word to the point it loses its meaning
  • 尻拭い (shiri-nugui). The literal meaning is “ass-wiping”, but the figurative meaning is to clean up somebody’s else mess
  • 自業自得 (jigou-jitoku): Reap what you sow
  • post-truth freak flags
  • dazibaos, a wall mounted newspaper, a form of protest
  • quacksalvery
  • the dark abyss of stochasticity
  • Kaupapa, (Māori, or te reo), kaupapa means principles and ideas which act as a base or foundation for action. A kaupapa is a set of values, principles and plans which people have agreed on as a foundation for their actions
  • xenoarchaeologist, someone who studies alien civilizations
  • homoiconic, same structures for data and code
  • Technologiefolgekostenabschätzung, literally technology follow-up cost assessment
  • misophonics, extreme aversion to certain noises
  • Callipygian, having shapely or beautiful buttocks
  • yauh peng, yauh leng, both inexpensive and beautiful
  • isegoria, it’s all just opinions, all speech is equal
  • parrhesia, candid speech that may require an apology
  • 報復性熬夜, revenge bedtime procrastination or not going to bed to reclaim free time
  • nerdquarium
  • dalits, broken people
  • acedia, no longer caring about caring
  • adult pacifer
  • weenie wagger
  • crèche question
  • kulturkampf
  • kalos kai agathos
  • sluggish, sclerotic and stupid
  • topoi, commonplace book of classical rhetoric
  • productive uncertainty
  • rusted chrome of yestermorrow
  • rock of righteousness
  • Shitness protection program
  • apophatic, God is known be what She is not
  • ceteris paribus, other things being equal
  • eco-Taliban
  • jouhatsu, people who disappear and continue to conceal their whereabouts for years, means evaporation
  • emblematic high priests of critical uncertainty
  • Die Entzauberung der Welt, “the unmagicking of the world.”
  • revanchism, the political manifestation of the will to reverse territorial losses incurred by a country, often following a war or social movement
  • reply guys
  • mwenkanonkan, indigenous feminism of Uganda that predates Western feminism
  • akrasia, weakness of will
  • cobots, collaborative robots
  • Globaloney
  • woketopians
  • necrophoric, an animal that carries the dead of its own kind
  • chinthe, a mythological lion-like creature that frequently guards Buddhist temples
  • a series of linked interiors
  • fictive kin
  • irony poisoning
  • shoaling, rising water tables
  • adjustor of destinies
  • intermittently connected suburbs of the self
  • laminar agent
  • vampiric complexion
  • Cronenberg character
  • humeur noire
  • prettier and tittier
  • chronic malcontent
  • exponentialize the terrible
  • derecho, a line of severe thunderstorms that produce high winds, from Spanish “straight”
  • double dissidents
  • coprolites, fossilized crap
  • hibakusha, nuclear bomb survivors
  • coronagrifting
  • wakaresaseya, relationship ender, Japan
  • naught but a lunatic line
  • cri de coeur
  • pathocracies
  • annus terribilis
  • petri d
  • corporate claptrap
  • apophenia, connecting unrelated phenomenon
  • legend tripping
  • Aloha Wanderwell
  • clown fiend
  • slow your tarred heart
  • untact, “un” and “contact”
  • nuguna, meaning “anyone”
  • honjok, individualist loners, literally alone tribe
  • deathfluencers
  • sanitary Spartacans
  • three ring shit show of your life
  • cyberverse
  • motte-and-bailey fallacy
  • pareidolia
  • pigeonhole principle
  • Books are willing accomplices in the crime of thinking.
  • Please scream inside your heart.
  • man mafia, patriarchy
  • yahrzeit, anniversary of someone’s death
  • contain the contagion
  • McJunkins
  • barycenter, gravitational center
  • stereoscopic vision
  • jungle plums, false mastic
  • cargo cult public health
  • mlecchita vikalpa, cryptography
  • gamblesphere
  • persecuting society, caused by scarcity
  • choremania
  • þetta reddast, everything will work out
  • rype, wild bird
  • blatherskite
  • quiescent mode
  • orthopedic fracture machines, trampolines
  • hamsterkauf, hoarding
  • uitwaaien, outblowing, spending time in the wind
  • Zuihitsu, at will and pen
  • memory artist
  • sapere aude, dare to know
  • kakorrhaphiophobia, fear of failure
  • ungeklärt, undefined
  • mortichnia, or “death march”, the footprints of a dying animal
  • digging graves with artistic precision
  • aleatory, determined by chance
  • minstrel show of hate
  • morituri te salutant, those that are about to die salute you
  • clear the froth
  • coterminous, bordering
  • invidious, tending to rouse ill-will
  • stichomythia, alternating character in poem
  • hysteresis, negative effects into the future in economics
  • ave atque vale, hail and goodbye
  • bohemian downsides
  • unchecked dread
  • Kodak fiend, taking pictures of unsuspecting people
  • paracrine effect
  • combed hair before battle
  • pitiless crowbar of events
  • gulag government
  • fluxion
  • socnets
  • nosocomial, hospital-acquired
  • saeculum, expected lifetime or replacement cycle for a generation
  • vitaparcours
  • publicity requirement
  • praying atheist
  • mutualism
  • bezoars
  • dipterocarp
  • folivores, leaf eaters
  • wild monkey rumpus
  • standing reserve, Heidegger
  • Gestell, framework
  • hand-washing for the infodemic
  • sologamy, single women who essentially marry themselves
  • bizarre digital fever dream
  • covidiots
  • dodecahedron
  • simulacra, the copy without an original
  • chingar, to fuck
  • puppet people
  • our messianic libido.
  • ipsissima vox,the very voice
  • Virilio’s Information Bomb
  • is not even wrong, so bad it really can’t even be discussed coherently
  • romanticizing pathology
  • iconics of the hegemon
  • the massive ocean inside of me makes the fish swim
  • petrichor, the smell after it rains
  • past light cone, a clean figure in spacetime that encloses all the places and times where something happened whose consequences we might see
  • sucking on lozenges
  • Aphantasia is a condition where one does not possess a functioning mind’s eye and cannot voluntarily visualize imagery
  • thinkmeat
  • taste adjacent
  • gnawing on the remnants of dreams
  • imaginary vortex
  • consumer metaphysics
  • thin newness
  • gomi, Japanese for garbage
  • new tech angel hair
  • waterflesh
  • bum guns
  • a matter of personal microculture
  • coronapocalypse
  • suppuration
  • the pitiless crowbar of events
  • skeuomorph, derivative that keeps non-functional design cues from original
  • la puta vida, this bitch of a life
  • baboso, drooling idiot
  • Drano enema
  • a supernova of stupidity
  • overcooked and underdone
  • zaftig, plump
  • aspeta, wait
  • mise-en-place
  • a man of esoteric skills and appetites
  • a clean, three ingredient high
  • cryptids, an animal that has been claimed to exist but is not proven to exist
  • tant pis, so much worse
  • liminal space, the time between what was and what will be.
  • necrocapitalism
  • pseudo‑event
  • lagniappe
  • virtual trophy
  • sick room architectures
  • garbage guru
  • Dowager Duchess
  • ever-softening society
  • the interfering aunt
  • parlor general
  • tongue rot
  • trash trove
  • link cowboys
  • TEOTWAWKI, or The End of the World as We Know It
  • exogenous shock 
  • laggardiste
  • panem et circenses
  • slaves of praise
  • akrasia, a lack of self-control or the state of acting against one’s better judgment
  • ikigai, “reason for being,” or it’s the intersection of what you love, what you’re good at, what you can get paid for, and what the world needs
  • neltiliztli, rootedness
  • huehuetlatolli, elder’s discourse
  • YORP effect
  • black chemistries awaiting catalysis
  • unwitting recipients of dead news from above
  • 40 million fascists and a mule
  • Io me ne frego, I don’t care
  • mass-infantilism
  • barroom windbags
  • città di merda, city of shit
  • ragazzo delle borgate, guy from the suburbs
  • romafaschifo, Rome sucks
  • maglia nera, black Jersey or last place
  • ghost lineage
  • Something in the milk ain’t clean…
  • paranoia into policy
  • cupiditas oculorum, lust of the eyes
  • fecal dust
  • psychoentirety rejection
  • cumulative causation
  • censorship through noise
  • gongoozler
  • Lithopanspermia, the transfer of organisms in rocks from one planet to another either through interplanetary or interstellar space
  • memory-wired
  • propaganda DJ
  • a loser’s catalog
  • interoceptive
  • ora et labora, prayer and work
  • Un travail de bénédictin—literally, a Benedictine labor—is a French expression for the sort of project someone can only accomplish over a long time through patient, modest, steady effort.
  • extispicy, entrail reading
  • proletarii – that is, people whose duty to the state was to ‘bear children’ as they did not have enough property to be classified as assidui, ‘the settled’ or ‘the landowning’
  • Kinkshaming
  • Purity Police, grudgewankers
  • hemicrania, a pain affecting half the head
  • Great Weirding,
  • Permaweird
  • Atira asteroids, within Earth’s orbit
  • papier-mâché Mephistopheles
  • Holdout creditor problem
  • Everything becomes vintage
  • Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose
  • a trash fire that will inherit the earth
  • Beruria, clarity, woman in Talmud
  • the rocks of psychosis
  • technical debt
  • Coase theorem
  • residual benefactor, the person who gets what’s left after bankruptcy
  • anxiegenic paradoxes, anxiety creating
  • designed by clowns
  • peeling for the pentimento
  • confederacy of catastrophe
  • bumper cars of mismatched words
  • coloratura, florid ornamental singing passages
  • living in the doom
  • the narcissism of small differences
  • wild is the way
  • warring information tribes
  • haruspex, ancient Roman official who reads the entrails of animals for omens
  • nalgas, buttocks
  • Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres, “Tell me who you hang out with and I’ll tell you who you are.”
  • smooth-skinned erection machine
  • intellectual panoply
  • gender-criticals
  • Heslington brain
  • Agnotology (formerly agnatology) is the study of culturally induced ignorance or doubt
  • homophily
  • mystics of the stream

Dirty, Naughty, Obscene, and Otherwise Bad Words

““With millions of images in our library and billions of user-submitted keywords, we work hard at Shutterstock to make sure that bad words don’t show up in places they shouldn’t.” The company’s dataset of Dirty, Naughty, Obscene, and Otherwise Bad Words contains the block-lists for their autocompletion and recommendation features, covering 2,600+ words and phrases in 28 languages.

https://github.com/LDNOOBW/List-of-Dirty-Naughty-Obscene-and-Otherwise-Bad-Words

StoryWrangling.org

“StoryWrangler instrument reflects our first step towards wrestling the day’s events into coherence. It is an approximate daily leaderboard for language popularity around the globe…

…Half of a billion messages are posted to Twitter every day! Written on post-it notes, they would wrap around the Earth’s equator in a neon hug full of politics, pop music, and sports.

At the Computational Story Lab, since 2008 we have collected a random 10% of all public messages using Twitter’s Decahose API. Overall, our collection comprises roughly 150 billion messages requiring 100TB of storage.

https://storywrangling.org/

How to Write Great Microcopy

  • Be clear, concise, and useful
  • Use consistent wording
  • Create a microcopy framework
  • Be conversational
  • Use humors and idioms carefully
  • Highlight your brand’s character
  • Be wary of word translations
  • (Almost) always use active voice
  • Use the passive voice (sometimes)
  • Provide context
  • Assume your user is smart
  • Keep it scannable
  • Write short paragraphs an sentences
  • Don’t overuse contractions
  • When to use sentence case
  • When to use title case
  • Capitalize proper names & terms
  • When to use “Your”
  • When to use “My”
  • Keep ’em calm
  • Refer to the user
  • Identify interactive elements
  • Start with verbs
  • Prompt action
  • Motivate action
  • Set expectations
  • Instruct action
  • Show progress during action
  • Give feedback after actions
  • Use constructive feedback model
  • Avoid destructive feedback
  • Create positive moments
  • Pair visuals with words
  • Be consistent with imagery
  • Use familiar words and phrases
  • Spell out numbers up to nine
  • Reassure users with social proof
  • Pick the right moments
  • Test and improve
  • Think: “How can I improve your life?”

h/t The Product Person.

I have no doubt this is good advice for “microcopy”, which seems to be the text involved with software interactions. But, I think there is an interesting contrast to advice offered in posts like “English Split Composition“. Is “microcopy” good writing outside of writing human/computer interactions in software? Is it “good” writing, in other contexts? When you think of someone like Ernest Hemingway, initially disciplined by the telegraph, that turned into his style, can taking that further into “microcopy” lead to good communication or even good art?

English Split Composition

“English is a language built mostly out of two others. Much of it was created out of the language of invaders who came to Britain around 450 ad from Anglia and Saxony (in what we’d now call northern Germany). About 600 years later the French invaded and brought their language with them, too; it was derived from Latin. The new French competed with Old English, and the outcome was a language—modern English—built out of both.

Often words with similar meanings from the two languages were both turned into English words, such as make (Saxon) and create (from French), or need (Saxon) and require (from French). So in English you can say almost anything with two kinds of words: short, simple ones with Saxon origins, or fancier ones that come from Latin.”

-Ward Farnsworth, “What Did Lincoln Know About Language That We Don’t?” Reason.com. June 22, 2020.

Words We Don’t Have

“Language and culture are inextricably linked. The words that exist (or that we make) form our language, and hence, are definitive of our culture. This place explores words that are unique to dialects or non-English languages, with an aim to examine what these words might illuminate about their cultures (and ours).”

WordsWeDontHave.com

Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) on StarDict on Ubuntu/Debian

So, after reading “You’re probably using the wrong dictionary,” I thought I would give installing Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) on a Debian-flavor of Linux a try and write it up the process and some observations of its use.

Installation on a Debian-flavor of Linux is straight-forward:

$ sudo apt-get install stardict
$ cd Downloads
$ wget https://s3.amazonaws.com/jsomers/dictionary.zip
$ unzip dictionary.zip
$ cd dictionary
$ tar -xvjf stardict-dictd-web1913-2.4.2.tar.bz2
$ cd stardict-dictd-web1913-2.4.2/
$ sudo mv *.* /usr/share/stardict/dic/
$ stardict

This launches the main application. There is also a mini-window that can be moved to where you like and then you can use it with other applications by highlighting text. Here’s a screenshot of this article:

When you highlight a word, it will automatically be searched for and displayed in the mini-window.

Entries include pronunciation, etymological origin, related words, definition and an example of usage, often from literature. I can imagine this being a very useful tool. It might be worth checking if my writing from this date changes in an appreciable way and whether it is an improvement or not.

Better Thought Technology 

“Technological innovation, in the conventional sense, won’t help us slow the publishing process back down. Slowing down requires better thought technology. It requires a willingness to draft for the sake of drafting. It requires throwing away most of what we think because most of our thoughts don’t deserve to be read by others. Most of our thoughts are distractions—emotional sleights of the mind that trick us into thinking we care about something that we really don’t—or that we understand something that we really don’t.”

—Eddie Smith, “From boiling lead and black art: An essay on the history of mathematical typography.” Practically Efficient. October 13, 2017.

Pretty good overview of the history of mathematical typography.