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Links With Your Coffee - Monday

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Stephen Colbert tweets:

Patriotism means doing exactly what the guy in charge says to do. Communism means thinking for yourself!

  • BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Doctor Who theme wins sci-fi vote
    The distinctive music to Doctor Who has been named the best television sci-fi theme tune in an online vote.

    It finished ahead of Red Dwarf, The X Files and Buffy The Vampire Slayer, according to website Total Sci-Fi.

    The music, which has remained with the programme throughout its history in various forms, was composed and arranged back in 1963.


  • How Does the Brain Form Sentences?: Scientific American
    Forming a grammatically correct sentence may seem to require advanced cognitive skills, but it turns out that our creative language capacity might rely on a less sophisticated system than is commonly thought. A recent study suggests that our ability to construct sentences may arise from procedural memory—the same simple memory system that lets our dogs learn to sit on command.

  • Major scandal erupts involving Rep. Jane Harman, Alberto Gonzales and AIPAC - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com
    Rep. Jane Harman , the California Democrat with a longtime involvement in intelligence issues, was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington.

    Harman was recorded saying she would “waddle into” the AIPAC case “if you think it’ll make a difference,” according to two former senior national security officials familiar with the NSA transcript.

    In exchange for Harman’s help, the sources said, the suspected Israeli agent pledged to help lobby Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., then-House minority leader, to appoint Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections, which the Democrats were heavily favored to win.
    Seemingly wary of what she had just agreed to, according to an official who read the NSA transcript, Harman hung up after saying, “This conversation doesn’t exist.”


  • xkcd - A Webcomic - Can't Sleep

  • British thriller writers mount challenge to US 'production line' | Books | guardian.co.uk
    British thriller authors have joined forces to challenge what they are calling "the reign of the production-line American thriller writers" such as James Patterson, John Grisham and Dan Brown.

  • The Beauty That Matters Is Always On The Inside (from The Herald )

  • BBC NEWS | UK | England | Berkshire | Programme teaches pupils to think

  • Crowd Forms Against an Algorithm - NYTimes.com
    It wasn’t the first time that a technological failure or an addled algorithm has spurred accusations of political or social bias. Nor is it likely to be the last. Cataloging by its very nature is an act involving human judgment, and as such has been a source of controversy at least since the Dewey Decimal System of the 19th century. Today, the Internet is built on complex algorithms that categorize things and that are inevitably imperfect.


 

Comments

Re: Jane Harman scandal

This shit goes on and on. The US sure has a corruption problem. (As do most countries on the planet, I suppose, but that's no excuse).

Maybe if the government feared the people instead of the other way round, politicians wouldn't have time for this crap.

I frankly don't understand how any thinking person could believe that transparently bogus story about Rep. Harman. Unnamed sources my my ass. This is disgusting.

I've been an editor and wordsmith for more than 20 years, and that Sci-Am study doesn't surprise me in the least. I have always told people that good language is far more sensation than cognition. I was once tutoring a group of junior high school kids -- they had brought me the grammar text from which they were supposed to be working. I took a look through it and then threw it across the room. Once the laughter had died down, I explained to them that any teaching in grammar that takes you out of your body, that tries to disconnect you from your natural sense of language, is useless. The rules are better sensed than memorized; better experienced than learned.

So I then picked up a copy of a Harry Potter book that was lying around and selected a sentence, which turned out to be the opening of Half-Blood Prince. We started working on it, and by the end of the exercise they had a very good grasp of what direct objects, complex predicates, and indirect objects are, by understanding what they do in real, living language. If only people knew how direct and simple grammar is, they wouldn't be so afraid of it.

What do you think about the Amazon algorithm problem? I do find it suspect.

Wasn't that tweet by puppet Colbert?

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