August 16, 2017


Before you start deciding what sparks joy in your life, you must first get a true sense of the problems you face. For example, when organizing clothes, I ask that you take out all the clothes you own and gather them in one spot, so that you can visually comprehend how much you have.

What we don't often realize is that the furniture and closets in which we store our clothing have a remarkable way of concealing truths we would rather not see (a pilled sweater, for instance, that does not bring any joy). It's perfectly fine to take advantage of this masking effect on a small scale, but when the amount of things that you don't need continuously increases -- along with the time and space that you devote to accumulating those things -- you will find that it becomes harder to lie to yourself.

We also work in much the same way. We often hide our problems inside the closet of our hearts as if they never existed. Whenever my mind clouds over and I feel overwhelmed, I immediately take out a sketchbook. I write down all the emotions that I feel and the possible reasons behind them across a blank white page.

Continue reading "Tokimeku" »

August 12, 2017


Tensegrity, tensional integrity or floating compression, is a structural principle based on the use of isolated components in compression inside a net of continuous tension, in such a way that the compressed members (usually bars or struts) do not touch each other and the prestressed tensioned members (usually cables or tendons) delineate the system spatially.

Tensegrity structures are structures based on the combination of a few simple design patterns:


  • Loading members only in pure compression or pure tension, meaning the structure will only fail if the cables yield or the rods buckle
  • Preload or tensional prestress, which allows cables to be rigid in tension

  • Mechanical stability, which allows the members to remain in tension/compression as stress on the structure increases.

Because of these patterns, no structural member experiences a bending moment. This can produce exceptionally rigid structures for their mass and for the cross section of the components.

Continue reading "Tensegrity" »

June 17, 2016

The Donald is tumescent

Washington Post writer style guide to writing about President/Daddy Donald Trump.

Remember the transitive property of Trump: Whenever Donald Trump loves something, it loves him back. Donald Trump loves women. Therefore, women love Donald Trump. Donald Trump loves Hispanics. Therefore, Hispanics love Donald Trump. Any polls that obscure these truths should be disregarded.

March 7, 2016


1. In a broad sense, it denotes the act of referring. Any time a given expression (e.g. a proform) refers to another contextual entity, anaphora is present.

2. In a second, narrower sense, the term anaphora denotes the act of referring backwards in a dialog or text, such as referring to the left when an anaphor points to its left toward its antecedent in languages that are written from left to right.

The music stopped, and that upset everyone.

3. In writing or speech, the deliberate repetition of the first part of the sentence in order to achieve an artistic effect is known as Anaphora.

November 24, 2015


Whereas Ms. Smith's haunting 2010 memoir, "Just Kids," centered on her early years in New York in the late 1960s and '70s and her friendship with Mr. Mapplethorpe, this volume is more peripatetic, chronicling her peregrinations around the world and into the recesses of her imagination, though always returning to her home base in Manhattan. Its unities are not of time and place, but the landscape of Ms. Smith's own mind -- her dreams, her memories, her preoccupation with certain artists (Jean Genet, William S. Burroughs, Sylvia Plath), books ("The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle," "After Nature," "2666") and television shows ("The Killing," "Law & Order," "CSI: Miami").

More in words.

Continue reading "Peregrinations" »

November 20, 2015


As Jonathan Martin and Matt Flegenheimer recently wrote in The Times, Poppy and Bush retainers like John Sununu are bewildered by a conservative electorate that rejects Republican primogeniture, prefers snark to substance and embraces an extremely weird brain surgeon and an extravagantly wild reality show star.

More in words.

October 1, 2015

Abjection: Does abjection signify freedom for white people?

Does abjection signify freedom for white people?

Continue reading "Abjection: Does abjection signify freedom for white people? " »

February 7, 2015


Irony: "hyphenated" and "non-hyphenated".

July 9, 2014


"It's adaptive, data-driven, and they are the most propitious capital allocators in political activism."

-- Anthony Scaramucci, a New York hedge fund investor and Republican fund-raiser, who attended the Kochs' annual donor conference near Palm Springs, California

January 9, 2014


The most common treatment for OSA is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which reverses upper airway occlusion and improves sleep quality, subsequently reducing daytime sleepiness.

December 18, 2013

Coruscating contempt for extremely anodyne people

Coruscating contempt for extremely anodyne people

-- Thank you David Brooks for using coruscating in a sentence.

February 4, 2013

Dennis the Dentist

Dan Slater writes for
[ __ ] Washington Post
[ __ ] The Beast
[ x ] Slate
[ __ ] The Awl

The Dennis the Dentist theory; previously, Baskauskas the basketballer.


September 27, 2012


"Almost" mollifies certainty. In butcher's language, it tenderizes certainty. It is anti-certainty, anti-conviction and, by definition therefore, anti-omniscience. Authors use "almost" to avoid stating an outright fact, as though there were something inauthentic, dishonest, unfinished, undecided or even unwholesome -- some might say repulsive, tacky, snub-nosed, too direct -- in qualifying anything as definitely a this or a that.

André Aciman, author, most recently, of "Alibis: Essays on Elsewhere." He teaches at the CUNY Graduate Center and is the director of the Writers' Institute.

July 14, 2012


The irony is that they are victims of enduring prejudices that persist, in part, because gay celebrities enjoy the protection of a cozy omertà among the social and media circles like the one that shielded Mr. Cooper -- whose homosexuality was an open secret for years in New York -- until his welcome revelation, which took the form of an e-mail sent to the gay journalist Andrew Sullivan on Monday.

June 7, 2012

The skeuomorphism of Sir Ives

Simplicity in the hardware has not always been matched in the software, which since the rise of iOS - the operating system for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch - has been marked by something known as skeuomorphism, a tendency for new designs to retain ornamental features of the old design. Thus the calendar in Apple's Macs and on iOS has fake leather texture and even fake stitching.

When I mention the fake stitching, Ive offers a wince but it's a gesture of sympathy rather than a suggestion that he dislikes such things. At least, that's how I read it. He refuses to be drawn on the matter, offering a diplomatic reply: "My focus is very much working with the other teams on the product ideas and then developing the hardware and so that's our focus and that's our responsibility. In terms of those elements you're talking about, I'm not really connected to that."

April 29, 2012


For a long time and for a lot of us, "college" was more or less a synonym for success. We had only to go. We had only to graduate. And if we did, according to parents and high-school guidance counselors and everything we heard and everything we read, we could pretty much count on a career, just about depend on a decent income and more or less expect security. A diploma wasn't a piece of paper. It was an amulet.

Continue reading "Amulet" »

April 28, 2012


Rental "relatives" are available for sparsely attended wedding parties; so-called "babyloids" -- furry dolls that mimic infant sounds -- are being developed for lonely seniors; and Japanese researchers are at the forefront of efforts to build robots that resemble human babies. The younger generation includes millions of so-called "parasite singles" who still live with (and off) their parents, and perhaps hundreds of thousands of the "hikikomori"--"young adults," Eberstadt writes, "who shut themselves off almost entirely by retreating into a friendless life of video games, the Internet and manga (comics) in their parents' home."

Incredible Shrinking Country
There are "babyloids" and relatives-for-rent in an increasingly childless Japan.

Word of the day:

January 17, 2012


Words: From a sufferer's perspective, anxiety is not epochal. It is always and absolutely personal.

January 6, 2012

Wordnik super dictionary 2

Wordnik, which has raised $12.8 million in venture financing, plans to use its vast database of words and word associations at the site and in many business partnerships to be announced this year, said Joe Hyrkin, the president and C.E.O.

The products will be similar to recommendation engines, but more powerful, he said. If you like a particular book, for example, Wordnik can recommend a similar one based on its understanding of words used to describe the book, he said.

"We're not just using tags and descriptors," he said. "Our system understands and identifies matches at a concept level."

The company is already providing many other word-based services, including one used on the Web site of The Times to define words in articles. Wordnik is also providing a financial glossary for

Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist at the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley, who talks about language on "Fresh Air," the NPR program, appreciates Wordnik's breadth. "There's a lot of useful information here," he said. (He has also written commentaries on language for The Times.)

But he thinks that hands-on lexicographers could fine-tune the entries.

"The idea that you can pull lexicographers out of the loop and have an algorithm to mediate between me and the English language is goofy," he said. "Without hand citations done by trained people, you get a mess."

To illustrate his point, he noted flaws in a number of Wordnik's definitions. The first definition of "davenport," for instance, in three of the fives sources used by Wordnik is a kind of small writing desk. "It hasn't meant that since Grandma was a girl," he said.

People use a dictionary to find out what is correct, and what is incorrect, he said. "If I were a journalist looking to see if a word was being used correctly," he said, "I wouldn't put my eggs in the Wordnik basket."

Continue reading "Wordnik super dictionary 2" »

November 14, 2011


It was largely for his children's sake that he was pursuing an education on the other side of the earth -- for their future and, in some inchoate hope-filled way, for his country's future too. What he often said was that he wanted to be a bridge between the Islamic world and the West. None of the summer students in New Haven knew much about his personal circumstances; of his history they knew nothing at all. He had discussed it with the Yale admissions office, and with an administrator in the provost's office who during a dinner with him seemed concerned that he might be a spy. [1]

Occupy Wall Street is animated by a central, galvanizing idea -- that the distribution of wealth is unfair. That struck a very live nerve, grabbing something that was in the air and turning it into simple math: 1 percent should not live at the expense of the other 99 percent. Still, Occupy Wall Street left many all revved up with no place to go. In addition to the 5 W's -- who, what, when, where and why -- the media are obsessed with a sixth: what's next? Occupy Wall Street, for all its appeal as a story, is very hard to roll forward.

But if Occupy Wall Street seems inchoate and short on answers, it has plenty of company. The president has primed the pump over and over with borrowed federal largess and still jobs refuse to flow. The myriad Republican debates have become a kind of random gaffe generator with little in the way of serious public proposals. And by the way, there's another term for a gathering of politically committed people who make a lot of speeches and argue endlessly over process without producing much in the way of solutions: Congress.

Continue reading "inchoate" »

May 1, 2011

Whited sepulchers

The influence of the King James Bible is so great that the list of idioms from it that have slipped into everyday speech, taking such deep root that we use them all the time without any awareness of their biblical origin, is practically endless: sour grapes; fatted calf; salt of the earth; drop in a bucket; skin of one's teeth; apple of one's eye; girded loins; feet of clay; whited sepulchers; filthy lucre; pearls before swine; fly in the ointment; fight the good fight; eat, drink and be merry.

Continue reading "Whited sepulchers" »

April 10, 2011

Nurdle of toothpaste

Nurdle is "a small amount of toothpaste akin to what consumers would use brushing their teeth."

Continue reading "Nurdle of toothpaste" »

February 4, 2011


"Zao is part of a coterie of Chinese artists that came of aesthetic age in the 1950s, an intriguing period of time that saw a wide range of Chinese artists practicing in the most diverse circumstance imaginable," said Joan Kee, a University of Michigan art historian who is a specialist on postwar and contemporary Asian painting. "On the one hand there was Zao, living in Paris and represented by important New York galleries like Samuel Kootz," she said. "Then you had artists like Lin Fengmian, working under the Communist regime on the eve of the anti-rightist campaign."

Irving H. Picard is pursuing hundreds of lawsuits to retrieve fictitious "profits" from the lucky coterie of Madoff investors who cashed out before his arrest. Now Picard has raised the stakes with two suits that reach deep into American institutions -- the New York Mets, whose principal owners, the Wilpon family, seemed to constitute a Madoff financial farm team, and JPMorgan Chase, the main Madoff banker.

-- Frank Rich

Continue reading "Coterie " »

December 10, 2010


Cliches: example, Tis the season.
Copydesk reads words and language.

March 27, 2010

renrou sousuo yinqing (Human-flesh search engines)

Human-flesh search engines -- renrou sousuo yinqing -- have become a Chinese phenomenon: they are a form of online vigilante justice in which Internet users hunt down and punish people who have attracted their wrath.

The popular meaning is now not just a search by humans but also a search for humans, initially performed online but intended to cause real-world consequences. Searches have been directed against all kinds of people, including cheating spouses, corrupt government officials, amateur pornography makers, Chinese citizens who are perceived as unpatriotic, journalists who urge a moderate stance on Tibet and rich people who try to game the Chinese system. Human-flesh searches highlight what people are willing to fight for: the political issues, polarizing events and contested moral standards that are the fault lines of contemporary China.

Posted to Asia, search, words.

Continue reading "renrou sousuo yinqing (Human-flesh search engines)" »

August 26, 2009

verdes Vadera, green shoots, he scores

The popularity of the term "green shoots" shows the kind of social epidemic underlying our changing thinking. The phrase was propelled in Britain by Shriti Vadera, the business minister, in January, and mutated into a more contagious form after Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, used it on "60 Minutes" on March 15.

The news media didn't need to change the term for different cultures around the world. With nothing more than a quick translation -- brotes verdes, pousses vertes, grüne Sprösslinge, etc. -- it is now recognized as a symbol of a revival coming soon.

All of this suggests that a social epidemic is supporting renewed confidence. This confidence can keep growing by contagion, as a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, and we may see the markets and the economy recover further.

Continue reading "verdes Vadera, green shoots, he scores" »

August 13, 2009


But there are limits. Without an endless budget, the N.H.S. does have to ration care, by deciding, for instance, whether drugs that might add a few months to the life of a terminal cancer patient are worth the money. Its hospitals are not always clean. It is bureaucratic. Its doctors and nurses are overworked. Patients sometimes are treated as if they were supplicants (petitioners) rather than consumers. Women in labor are advised to bring their own infant's diapers and their own cleaning products to the hospital. Sick people routinely have to wait for tests or for treatment.

Continue reading "supplicants " »

July 5, 2009

Wordnik superdictionary

Wordnik promises to be a super dictionary, with web search driven updates of how words are used (But what does it mean to say the tool is used once per month ?) .

Better filtering tha UrbanDictionary, better page layout than most web dictionaries.

Update 2009 July 19: now with more context


April 16, 2009

Dennis the dentist, 3

The most astonishing change concerns the ending of boys' names. In 1880, most boys' names ended in the letters E, N, D and S. In 1956, the chart of final letters looked pretty much the same, with more names ending in Y. Today's chart looks nothing like the charts of the past century. In 2006, a huge (and I mean huge) percentage of boys' names ended in the letter N. Or as Wattenberg put it, "Ladies and gentlemen, that is a baby-naming revolution."

Wattenberg observes a new formality sweeping nursery schools. Thirty years ago there would have been a lot of Nicks, Toms and Bills on the playground. Now they are Nicholas, Thomas and William. In 1898, the name Dewey had its moment (you should be able to figure out why). Today, antique-sounding names are in vogue: Hannah, Abigail, Madeline, Caleb and Oliver.

In the late 19th century, parents sometimes named their kids after prestigious jobs, like King, Lawyer, Author and Admiral. Now, children are more likely to bear the names of obsolete proletarian professions, Cooper, Carter, Tyler and Mason.

Wattenberg uses her blog to raise vital questions, such as should you give your child an unusual name that is Googleable, or a conventional one that is harder to track? But what's most striking is the sheer variability of the trends she describes.

Naming fashion doesn't just move a little. It swings back and forth. People who haven't spent a nanosecond thinking about the letter K get swept up in a social contagion and suddenly they've got a Keisha and a Kody. They may think they're making an individual statement, but in fact their choices are shaped by the networks around them.

Furthermore, if you just looked at names, you would conclude that American culture once had a definable core -- signified by all those Anglo names like Mary, Robert, John and William. But over the past few decades, that Anglo core is harder to find. In the world of niche naming, there is no clearly identifiable mainstream.

Continue reading "Dennis the dentist, 3" »

April 6, 2009

Dennis the dentist rules

Still, the couple, like many others, is vulnerable to falling behind again as home prices decline further. But Robert M. Lawless, a law professor at the University of Illinois who favors cram-downs, said success should not be viewed simply "in terms of dollars and cents."

-- Lawless law professor on cramdowns.

Explanation of the Dennis the dentist rule.

November 9, 2008

Header teasers: unuseful

The lack of specific content in the cached header teasers of major dictionary sites is very annoying.
Better would be to show some information about the word and dictionary sites would compete on quality of definitions.


September 14, 2006

Urban Dictionary

urbandictionary is looking good.

Collaborative nature compels user contributions
and feedback, thumbsupping or thumbsdowning
competing definitions on clarity, detail, and
plausibility (for the zero information set) or
accuracy (for those in the know.

The freshness of the content poses a challenge
o the traditional dictionary.

Its information architecture lists adjacent and
related words, and offers endless serendipity.

Example: garaigo.

Continue reading "Urban Dictionary" »

September 7, 2006

Dictionary with completion by ObjectGraph

Dictionary with completion as you type, by ObjectGraph.
-- updates.

July 30, 2006

wordspy jargon

Word Spy explicates jargon, lingo, vocabulary lexpionage.
Example: Drink the Kool Aid.

March 24, 2006


Mr. Krensavage has published his share of sells over the years.
Right now he has underperform ratings on 3 of the 16
companies he follows: Bentley, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries
and Eli Lilly. Over the years he has had sells on Merck and
Johnson & Johnson. "The companies pretty much have
behaved well," he said, adding that the more a company
complains about his assessment, the more perspicacious
he believes it is.

Continue reading "perspicacious" »

January 7, 2006


In the end, appearance may be all that matters. Take the Prius.
The hybrid uses less fuel than a gasoline-powered car. But the
Prius comes at a higher price that is rarely offset by the savings
in fuel. The Prius is a feel-good car that runs on sanctimony as
much as on its battery power. Much of its value is that everyone
can see you driving that little Earth saver.

Continue reading "Sanctimony" »

August 7, 2005


The news media have also become more sensational, more prone to
scandal and possibly less accurate. But note the tension between sensationalism and polarization: the trial of Michael Jackson
got tremendous coverage, displacing a lot of political coverage,
but it had no political valence.

Continue reading "valence" »

August 5, 2005


"If you are an old fan and it doesn't fit what you need, don't buy the
disc." she said with firmness, but no rancor.

Continue reading "rancor" »

August 1, 2005


Most pro-life voters aren't looking for 'evolving' views among
candidates. They're hungry for principled positions based on immovable
morals - something that doesn't come from a veto and an op-ed.

-- Carrie Gordon Earll, senior policy analyst for bioethics
for Focus on the Family.

Supporters say Mr. Romney is simply being adroit.

Continue reading "adroit" »

July 2, 2005

V&V: Verification, Validation

Verification: testing against specifications.
Validation: testing against operating goals.

Continue reading "V&V: Verification, Validation" »

May 5, 2005

Man Date

Dinner with a friend has not always been so fraught. Before women
were considered men's equals, some gender historians say, men routinely
confided in and sought advice from one another in ways they did not
do with women, even their wives. Then, these scholars say, two
things changed during the last century: an increased public awareness
of homosexuality created a stigma around male intimacy, and at the
same time women began encroaching on traditionally male spheres,
causing men to become more defensive about notions of masculinity.

-- 8.

And so, man date joins the lexicon.

Continue reading "Man Date" »

January 18, 2005


That he and Mr. Begala would be allowed to lob softballs at a man who
may have been a cog in illegal government wrongdoing, on a show produced
by television's self-proclaimed "most trusted" news network, is bad
enough. That almost no one would notice, let alone protest, is a
snapshot of our cultural moment, in which hidden agendas in the
presentation of "news" metastasize daily into a Kafkaesque hall of
mirrors that could drive even the most earnest American into abject
cynicism. But the ugly bigger picture reaches well beyond "Crossfire"
and CNN.

Continue reading "metastasize" »