Saturday, October 30, 2010

Heterological / Autological - Grelling–Nelson paradox

Suppose one interprets the adjectives "autological" and "heterological" as follows:

1. An adjective is autological (sometimes homological) if and only if it describes itself. For example "short" is autological, since the word "short" is short. "English," "unhyphenated" and "pentasyllabic" are also autological.
2. An adjective is heterological if it does not describe itself. Hence "long" is a heterological word, as are "abbreviated" and "monosyllabic."

All adjectives, it would seem, must be either autological or heterological, for each adjective either describes itself, or it doesn't. The Grelling–Nelson paradox arises when we consider the adjective "heterological". To test if the word "'beautiful" is autological one can ask: Is "beautiful" a beautiful word? If the answer is 'yes', "beautiful" is autological. If the answer is 'no', "beautiful" is heterological.

By comparison, one can ask: Is "heterological" a heterological word? If the answer is 'yes', "heterological" is autological (leading to a contradiction). If the answer is 'no', "heterological" is heterological (again leading to a contradiction, because if it describes itself, it is autological).

some autological words

(Ask the question: Is foo a foo word?)

Reasonably clearly autological words
English (also Saxon, Afrikaans etc.)
understandable (also understood)
(also comprehensible, intelligible)
readable (also read, processed)
used (also useful)
invented (also coined)
definable (also defined)
ordered (also structured)
synthetic (also man-made)
known (also well-known)
grandiloquent (also grandiose)
(also bombastic, logorrheic)
post-Renaissance (also postdiluvian etc.)
esdrújula (Spanish)
meaningful (although Jacques Barzun would disagree)
attributive (attributes to nouns the property of being attributive)
referential (when used as an adjective, refers to a noun)
adjective (meaning 'dependent', not standing by itself)
avoidable (it is possible to av... er, I mean refrain from using it)
rhyming (rhymes with 'timing' for example)
literary (also published)
esoteric (also recondite)
abstract (also intangible)
sibilant (also hissing?) (vague section of onomatopoeic words starts here)
nasal (also orinasal)
numberless (vague section of negative words starts here)
asexual (unlike French words, English words are asexual)
nonpalindromic (also asymmetric, chiral)
heterogeneous (although with all those e's it could be more so)
slang (also slangy) (OED has this as from cant (jargon of a class) origin)
redundant (is this redundant because superfluous means the same thing?)
superfluous (is this superfluous becase redundant means the same thing?)
supererogatory (another word meaning about the same as redundant/superfluous)
anagramatic (again art mat)
wee (Scottish sense)
li'l (surprisingly, is in the OED)
aforementioned (?) (this has been mentioned before)
time-consuming (?) (it takes time to say, time to decide if its an autological word etc.)
single (?) ('single' is a single word)
literal (?)
chatty (?)
dreamy (?)
wishy-washy (?)
iffy (?)
fanciful (?)
quirky (?)
unemotional (?)
plain, bland (?)
boring, stodgy (?)

igpay atinlay

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Streets of Balaclava - St Kilda Melbourne

Crimea Street (Crimean War October 1853 – February 1856)

Battle of Balaclava (Balaclava Road) (Charge of the Light Brigade 25 October 1854)

Battle of Inkerman (Inkerman Road)

Siege of Sevastopol (Sebastopol Street)

Battle of the Alma River (Alma Road)

Battle of Malakoff (Malakoff Street)

Lord Raglan (Raglan Street)

Lord Cardigan (Cardigan Street)

Lord Lucan (Lucan Street)

Florence Nightingale (Nightingale Street)

François Certain Canrobert (Canrobert Street)

The Greens

James where John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher

James where John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher.

James, where John had had "had", had had "had had"; "had had" had had a better effect on the teacher.

A sign for "Fish and chips".

"The gaps between Fish and and and and and chips are unequal."

"The gaps between 'Fish' and 'and' and 'and' and 'chips' are unequal."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fair Go

(Donald Campbell's Caledonian Hotel, Boobyalla (Ringarooma Port))

Unions have taken advantage of the tight labour market, recently negotiating pay deals that deliver average welders as much as $2000 a day, causing employers to reassess the viability of future projects.

Several resources company executives told The Australian that unions had them "over a barrel" on pay negotiations because industrial relations laws had no provision for arbitration of disputes on offshore rig construction projects, which were classified as greenfield worksites.

It was impossible to fight the claims, the executives said, because this would expose them to massive holding costs and delays with no prospect of resolution.

Read more:

"I make no apology," AWU national secretary Paul Howes said yesterday. "We are a union, and our job is to secure good wages and conditions for our members. If we know we can get it, we will get it."

Give Jelena a fair go, says driving force
EXCLUSIVE | By Danny Weidler
April 27 2003
The Sydney Morning Herald

Jelena Dokic is misunderstood and deserves another chance from the Australian public says her boyfriend, racing driver Enrique Bernoldi.

Bernoldi says Dokic should not be judged on her behaviour and comments as a young girl.

Last week The Sun-Herald revealed Dokic had been in touch with Tennis Australia with a view to representing Australia at the next Olympics.

Dokic has been in contact with the head of Tennis Australia, but she has not spoken to the Yugoslavian Tennis Federation for six months and her father Damir has fallen out with the country's leading official.

Bernoldi, the man who has given Dokic the confidence to make her own decisions, spoke to The Sun-Herald prior to a race in Belgium, saying that she is a "lovely person".

Dokic's comeback plans all in the name of the father

Damir Dokic has fallen out with Yugoslavia's leading tennis official and his daughter Jelena has not talked to the Federation for six months.

The Sun-Herald revealed last week that Jelena has been in discussions with Tennis Australia over the past few months about representing Australia at the next Olympics.

Tennis Australia confirmed that talks had taken place and said they are more than happy to have Dokic back playing for this country.

According to a senior official, Mike Daws, she would be welcome back "with open arms".

Now, The Sun-Herald has learnt that the relationship between Dokic and her adopted country is strained. And the relationship between her father and the tennis body is even worse.

****************You resent people who succeed over others- everyone should do the same thing, so we all get a "fair go". This is what's known as the "tall poppy syndrome", a kind of American Dream in reverse.

Fundamentally, Chapman’s simple idea accords with the Australian ideal of a fair go: helping people in their time of need, but also expecting them to give a little back when times are good. For a government with more ideas than dollars, expanding income contingent loans might be just the solution


(a) This policy aims to ensure we are able to provide quality mobile services to all of our customers, and no customers are disadvantaged by the behaviour of others.

“Fairness” is another central value that emerges at this time. The term fair go appears in 1904. ‘A “fair bonus” is a real trier, a fair go, or a bit of a don’(1). Before this the standard term was fair show: ‘We have given you a fair show, and we find that you don’t care about working’ (1884)(2); ‘Give the working man a fair show’ (1897)(3).

The principle of ‘giving the working man a fair show’ was central to the Harvester Judgement of the Commonwealth Couth of Conciliation and Arbitration in 1907. The Commonwealth Parliament proposed to exempt manufacturers from excise duty if the wages they paid their workers were ‘fair and reasonable’. In its judgement the court held: ‘As wages are the means of obtaining commodities, surely the State, in stipulating for fair and reasonable remuneration for the employees, means that the wages shall be sufficient to provide these things, and clothing, and a condition of frugal comfort estimated by current human standard’.(4) This judgement was important in establishing the principle of the basic wage (an Australian term but not widely recognised as such) in wage fixation tribunals for much of the twentieth century.

In 1961 Australia was described as the land of the fair go: ‘This is the land of the “fair go”. We have to make that saying real for everyone inside our border.’(5) The term fair dinkum (1890) also has the notion of the fair go or ‘fair play’ at the heart of its meaning. (6)

Myths are not about empirical truths. Even though Ward (Russell Ward, The Australian Legend, 1958) wrote this summary over fifty years ago, the central points that he sets out would certainly continue to resonate with many Australians. Central to the myth is the notion of egalitarianism, enhanced by certain key items of the Australian vocabulary such as fair go, fair dinkum, and mateship.(7)

(1) Bulletin (Sydney), 14 April 1904, p.29.
(2) Australian Tit-Bits (Melbourne), 25 December 1884, p.18.
(3) Tocsin (Melbourne), 25 November 1897, p.9.
(4) ‘Ex parte H v McKay’, Commonwealth Arbitration Reports, 1(1907-8), pp.3-17.
(5) Sydney Morning Herald, 27 January 1961, p.13
(6) Moore, B. (2008), Speaking our Language: The story of Australian English, Oxford, South Melbourne, pp.105-106.
(7) Moore, B. (2008), Speaking our Language: The story of Australian English, Oxford, South Melbourne, p.133.


In Greek mythology, Nemesis (Greek, Νέμεσις), also called Rhamnousia/Rhamnusia ("the goddess of Rhamnous") at her sanctuary at Rhamnous, north of Marathon, was the spirit of divine retribution against those who succumb to hubris (arrogance before the gods). The Greeks personified vengeful fate as a remorseless goddess. The name Nemesis is related to the Greek word νέμειν [némein], meaning "to give what is due". The Romans equated the Greek Nemesis with Invidia.

"Nemesis" is now often used as a term to describe one's worst enemy, normally someone or something that is the exact opposite of oneself but is also somehow similar. For example, Professor Moriarty is frequently described as the nemesis of Sherlock Holmes.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Stereotype - etymology

The term stereotype (στερεότυπος) derives from the Greek words στερεός (stereos), "firm, solid" and τύπος (typos), "impression", hence "solid impression".

Movable type meant that instead of carving the block, the negative image as it were, could be thrown together from a pile of little pieces. Much faster. But still time consuming and with only a single printers plate to use. Doing enough printing with this meant wear and tear on the type and one would have to start again. Firmin Didot was a member of a large and important family in the world of European printing and it was his idea that instead of making up a plate or block out of movable type and then going straight to press, one could first slather the block with plaster or papier-mâché and pull off a negative of the negative. This was called a matrix. The matrix could then be plopped into molten lead and multiple copies of the printing plate made, not only reducing the concern about wear and tear, but also allowing parallel print runs on several presses.

The resulting plate was of course a solid chunk covered with the type. In Greek the word for solid is stereo, hence stereotype. When we think that for instance all politicians are the same, we say that opinion is a stereotype, and the meaning comes from the printing industry where all printings should have been the same off of the multiple plates made in this way.

Cliche - Etymology

'cliche' - in the days of movable type it meant a set of letters/words that were used together so frequently that the printer didn't bother dismantling them.

The resulting plate was of course a solid chunk covered with the type, called a stereotype.

'cliche' was the sound made when the set was inserted into the print block and used by the French to describe such a block.

The terms cliche and stereotype became interchangeable in the printing industry.

stereotype block; stereotyped phrase, literary tag.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

刻舟求剑 Kè Zhōu Qiú Jiàn

In Chinese, there are many expressions to describe people who have got themselves into a rut, and who insist on strictly adhering to a precedent, even when it has been rendered obsolete by a change in circumstances.

One of the most vivid of these idioms is Kè Zhou Qiú Jiàn, literally meaning “to mark the boat to try to find the lost sword,” with “Zhou” being an old word for boat and “Jian” translating as “sword.”

The story behind this idiom, “Ke Zhou Qiu Jian,” is popular even among children who have just started their schooling, so we hope it’s popular with you too.

SHANSHAN: A man from the ancient State of Chu was carrying a sword while crossing a river on a ferryboat. When the ferry got to the middle of the river, the man was so intoxicated by the scenery that he forgot to take care of his much treasured sword, and with a slip of the hand, it dropped into the river. (the splash of water) He quickly took out a knife from his pocket and cut a mark on the gunwale of the boat.

“This is where my sword slipped overboard,” he murmured to himself, before stepping aside, much relieved.
The ferry sailed on and soon arrived at the dock on the opposite bank. As soon as the boat has anchored, the man jumped into the river at the point where he had made his mark.

“What is he doing?” His strange behavior puzzled his fellow passengers.

The man soon emerged from the water, commenting, “Strange. The sword dropped at the exact point where I marked the boat, so how come can’t I find it?”

Of course he failed to find his sword — The boat had moved far away from the point where he had originally dropped his sword.

From that fable comes the idiom Kè Zhou Qiú Jiàn.

The term is used to mock those who are sticklers for adhering to old models.

Things are constantly moving on, just like the boat in the story. Anyone who rigidly sticks to the old way of doing things may end up behaving as foolishly as the man who Kè Zhou Qiú Jiàn.

It also reminds me of a fashionable phrase that has quite the opposite meaning to "Ke Zhou Qiu Jian". The phrase is "Keep up with the times", a phrase which anybody living in fast-changing Beijing would do well to heed.

Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle's Nest)

The Kehlsteinhaus (in English-speaking countries also known as the Eagle's Nest) is a chalet-style building which when built was an extension of the Obersalzberg complex erected by the Nazis in the mountains above Berchtesgaden. The Kehlsteinhaus was intended as a 50th birthday present for Adolf Hitler (from Martin Bormann). Nicknamed Eagle's Nest by a French diplomat, it was meant to be a retreat for Hitler and place for him to entertain visiting dignitaries.

Kehlstein is a mountain in the German Alps near Berchtesgaden. It is the famous location of Hitler's Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle's Nest).

琵琶 pípá

The pipa (Chinese: 琵琶; pinyin: pípá) is a four-stringed Chinese musical instrument, belonging to the plucked category of instruments (弹拨乐器/彈撥樂器). Sometimes called the Chinese lute, the instrument has a pear-shaped wooden body with a varying number of frets ranging from 12–26. Another Chinese 4 string plucked lute is the liuqin, which looks like a smaller version of the pipa.
The pipa appeared in the Qin Dynasty (221 - 206 BCE) and was developed during the Han Dynasty. It is one of the most popular Chinese instruments and has been played for nearly two thousand years in China. Several related instruments in East and Southeast Asia are derived from the pipa; these include the Japanese biwa, the Vietnamese đàn tỳ bà, and the Korean bipa. The Korean instrument is the only one of the three that is no longer used.

Liu Fang (simplified Chinese: 刘芳; traditional Chinese: 劉芳) (born 1974) is one of the most prominent pipa players in the world. Born in Kunming in the Chinese province of Yunnan, she began playing the pipa at the age of 6. Her first solo public performance was at the age of 9. In 1986, at age 11, she played for Queen Elizabeth II. Her studies at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music broadened her musical range and allowed her to study the guzheng. At the age of 22, Liu Fang immigrated to Canada and is now a Canadian citizen, currently residing in Montreal. The decision to move to Quebec allowed her virtuosic playing to reach a wider international audience.

对牛弹琴 Duì Niú Tán Qín - To Play the Lute to an Ox

对牛弹琴 Duì Niú Tán Qín - To Play the Lute to an Ox

In ancient times, there lived a musician named Gong Mingyi. He was very good at playing the Zheng, a plucked string instrument. But he also behaved foolishly sometimes.

One day, he saw a cow grazing in the field near his house. He was inspired by the scene and ran outside to play a tune for the cow. "He must be interested in my music!" Gong Mingyi played beautifully and even he himself was intoxicated by the music.

Yet the cow paid no heed to these elegant sounds. (mouth sound) It simply focused its attention on eating the pleasant grass. "What's wrong with you, cow!" he yelled. Gong Mingyi was surprised to see this. He couldn't understand why the cow was so indifferent to his performance.

Was his performance boring? Not at all! The cow neither understood nor appreciated his elegant music!

From that story comes the idiom Duì Niú Tán Qín 对牛弹琴. Niu means Cow or bull, whereas Tan Qin, means to play a musical instrument.

(perhaps similar to: casting pearls before swine)

狐假虎威 - Hu2 jia3 hu3 wei1 - The fox borrows the tiger's terror

(Tiger's Fierceness Stolen by a Fox)

Once there was a Tiger (Hu) who caught a Fox (Hu). Just when the Tiger wanted to eat the Fox, the Fox started to laugh and said, 'How dare you? I am the king of the jungle!' The Tiger was baffled and replied, 'Who has heard of a Fox being the king of the jungle?' The Fox replied, 'If you don't believe me, follow me into the jungle. I will show you how all animals are afraid of me.' As the Tiger followed the Fox into the jungle, he was surprised to find that all the animals started to run for their lives. Actually, the animals ran from the Tiger instead of the Fox, but the Tiger did not know that. The Tiger apologized to the Fox and let him go free.

Applications: This phrase is often used to describe people who oppress others, using the authority of their superiors.

Relying on another’s power to bully or frighten others.

Rule of 72 - Compounded Interest

Y = Years to double your money
I = Interest rate
Y = 72 / I

Rule of 72 means how long it takes to double your money with any given interest rate with the formula being:

Years to double your money = 72 divided by Interest rate (Y = 72 / I)

Dividing 72 by the Interest rate will tell you how many years it takes to double your money.

e.g. If Interest rate = 10% then  Y = 72 / 10 = 7.2 so it takes 7.2 years to double your money with a 10% interest rate (interest compounded annually - interest rate must be less than 20% or error is too great)

Have you always wanted to be able to do compound interest problems in your head? Probably not, unless you're a sociopath, but it's a very useful skill to have because it gives you a lightning fast benchmark to determine how good (or not so good) a potential investment is likely to be.

The rule says that to find the number of years required to double your money at a given interest rate, you just divide the interest rate into 72. For example, if you want to know how long it will take to double your money at eight percent interest, divide 8 into 72 and get 9 years (We're assuming the interest is annually compounded, by the way.)

As you can see, the "rule" is remarkably accurate, as long as the interest rate is less than about twenty percent; at higher rates the error starts to become significant.

You can also run it backwards: if you want to double your money in six years, just divide 6 into 72 to find that it will require an interest rate of about 12 percent.

There's an urban legend that Albert Einstein once said compounding [interest] is the most powerful force in the universe.

Whether or not he really said it, that line has become my financial motto. I strongly suggest you adopt it.

But did the eminent physicist really ever say such a thing? The claim that he did appears dubious for a couple of significant reasons:

The attribution of this sentiment about compound interest to Einstein doesn't seem to have existed during the scientist's lifetime, first appearing in print only several decades after his death, and always repeated as something he supposedly said in some indefinite time and place. (Albert Einstein died in 1955, but the earliest mention we could find of this item was in a 1983 New York Times blurb.)

Just what Einstein reportedly said about compound interest varies quite a bit from source to source: That it was "the greatest invention in human history" (or "the greatest invention of mankind," or "the greatest invention of all," or "the most significant invention of the nineteenth century"), that it is "the most powerful force in the universe," or that it is "more complicated than the theory of relativity." (That last variation echoes another sentiment popularly attributed to Einstein which also began to appear only well after his death, to the effect that "preparing a tax return is more complicated than relativity theory" or "the hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.")

We suspect that this perspective on the power of compound interest is a fairly modern invention, one which has been retroactively placed into the mouth of a prominent dead person to give it more punch.

(substitute 115 for 72 to determine how long before amount triples)

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Crocodile Paradox

The crocodile took the man's son and said to the father that if he guessed correctly whether the crocodile would keep or give back his son then the crocodile would give back his son. The father guessed that the crocodile would keep his son. What should the crocodile do?