Category Archives: Language and Usage

The Prompt For Today Is “Conversant”: I’m Biting…

Conversant much lately?  I certainly have not been so when it comes to most areas where I have tried to be conversant in the past.  I’m struggling with many factors in my life, and find it difficult if not approaching impossible to remain civil in conversations about current affairs (I am NOT a fan of the current administration of the USA, or most modern politics for that matter), and many of the dialogues I enjoyed in the past are beyond my grasp for one reason or another.  Yes, yes, I am still CAPABLE of remaining conversant about most if not all of the areas I once was (at least in American English — Ich spreche nur kleine Deutsch, and even less of any other language even though my reading comprehension was surprisingly high for French when I tested it some years back … for which I still bless a succession of language teachers who taught not just by rote when it came to vocabulary, but actively encouraged me to learn the roots of words and phrases as well).

To be conversant, one needs not only a common language, but also subjects about which you and at least one other person need to be knowledgeable enough to exchange thoughts and information in a civil manner.  The conversant individual becomes so not by shouting but by speaking or writing in moderate tones FIRST.  Shouting may follow, for one reason or another, although typically at a point where the conversation has exceeded the limits of civility that emotion can be restrained by.  Madmen and madwomen are seldom if ever conversant in the subjects that drove them to madness in the first place, at least not until they have passed through their insanity and come out the other side leaner, refined by the fires of the spirit, fed by the fuel of knowledge and smelted into the crucible of their own brain.

Being conversant in a subject is not a thing that remains static if one is active and continues the necessary level of interest to be rationally so.  Sure, I can still carry on deep conversations upon the subject of bounded infinities, but I’m not so certain as to how conversant I remain on the subject with as little reading or research as I have done in that field in the most recent twenty years.  Heck, I wasn’t even able to finish my most recent attempt to read Hawking’s popularized work on the subject.  (That may have had more to do with my declining eyesight than I was aware of at the time, yet still…)  For the record, at least two of my most ardent conversational foils on the topic are now deceased:  their personal infinities being freed from mortal bounds, they could perhaps bring new insight into some of the intricacies, new understanding to the nuances of how an infinity can remain so while suffering to exist within the limitations of boundaries.

Conversant now with time in other ways, I’ll close this ramble for the moment with an eternal consideration.  Anyone ready for a conversation?

Daily Prompt: Conversant

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Something’s Going On ‘Round Here

I’ve been quiet on-line recently.  Scrambling to survive can rake up a lot of energy, denying it for creative purposes other than furthering survival.

To quote a favorite line from a broadcast personality:  Can we say “Whee” now?  (Bless you, Benny Hill, wherever you are…)

Really.  We have a roof for now.  We have food for a week or more, even if not of a type or with a variety to please both of us.  BUT the challenges are piling up taller, deeper, and darker.  Does make it difficult to write cheerfully positive viewpoints, although some of the darker futures I have envisioned over the years are already getting far too much reinforcement from the political front these days.  (The work on “Tales of the Apocalypse Decade” had to be suspended when I saw where some of the storylines were headed in the face of the ill wind out of Washington D.C. …)

I’ve not updated this blog in far too long.  Distractions and realities of navigating end-of-life care for family members took their own toll.  Added to that was the challenge of assisting my partner’s family as they prepared the house (we’d lived in it with her family as they declined) for disposition.  No small task:  they’d been there for more than thirty years, and there were family records and “stuff” going back at least fifty beyond that even ignoring some of the genealogical records and family history.

We were exhausted by the process, which was made worse by conflicting points of view about the needs of preserving financial records for the estate.  It saddened me considerably to have more than one adult who should have known better advocate for the wholesale destruction of records that legally the estate is bound to preserve by law and / or IRS rules.  My brain suffered whiplash in the process, I tell you true!  (As later matters have developed, even some of what we did manage to preserve has been lost, but we could not have known that at the time.)

Then there’s the small matter of lacking income since.  Declining health has not helped with the writing or the employment search either.  Only so much energy remains after days of dealing with Texas heat, mountains of sometimes crumbling paper, and emotional disruptions.  Health demands a toll, and takes payments from you even when you have nothing in reserve to make those payments.  (Human biochemistry has a VERY efficient collection agent in these matters, a mechanism that is relentless and not easily bribed or mollified.)

So.  What’s next?  We don’t know yet.  Even once we find out, there could be interesting twists and turns before, during, and after the revelations are made.  No doubt interesting to those directly affected, maybe not so much to others.

And THAT, my putative readers, is Life with a capital L.

The Broken Hero

Heroes is as heroes does … and sometimes as they does not!

According To Hoyt

Years ago, in a science fiction short story, I came across this expression that just fit my feelings. “Born owing money.”

I think from the way it was employed in the story that it was supposed to mean “from a poor family” but that’s not how I felt it. For me, from as far back as I can remember, I had this feeling I must justify my existence.

As the half (one half the family) unwanted child who then proceeded to near-bankrupt her family because she had every-possible-illness and some that technically, logically, should be impossible, this is perhaps understandable.

I was if not born broken, born to be broken. From the moment I remember I’ve been running so hard because I know what’s behind me: me. I know all my tendency to sloth and to malingering. I know the crazy depressive spins. And I know the malice and spitefulness…

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Story-Time, and the Tradition of the Insta-Filk

I am, among other things, a filker.  (Think folk-singer with the parody bit stuck on “on”, or look it up — with the quick alternative definition being an album title associated with Leslie Fish, Folk Songs For Folk Who Haven’t Been Born Yet.)  Sometimes, an existing song begs for new words.  SCREAMS for them, at least inside my head. Within the filk community there’s a name for these first fruits of the filk process, composed on the spur of the moment:  insta-filk. Now, “pure” instafilk typically happens in the first (very) short while after the inspiration is received or experienced.  What follows below is an example of another type, in that I had heard the original song years ago, and the original parody http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbT5FFgmvuo&list=PL5DFA46EF9A9CC56B&feature=share&index=20 more than once recently.  The Muses kick us in our butts when and how THEY choose to, however…  Note, also, that instafilk may not be a  100% match to the tune or scansion of the original.  Sorry, by part and parcel of the form consider most instafilk as “Work In Progress”.   nearlyInstaFilk: Story-time TTTO (very roughly) “The Ballad of Canton” cf. _Firefly_, wherein Jayne discovers himself proclaimed a Hero… see also “The Man They Call Joss”, as performed by The Bedlam Bards NewWords: Kihe Blackeagle

Bucks! Fools see only those bucks!

The fandoms of skiffy and high fantasy Number now quite some millions, but fools only see Division and doubting and pocketbooks deep While deriding the fanboys upon where they sleep.

We are here for the story, heros and villains too We will stay for good stories, so now OUT with “grey goo” Remember you hosers with those purse-strings pulled tight What one opening new “Star Wars” pulls in in one night.

Now is it still worthwhile ’cause of label’s bright shine? Only with story will they hold onto my dime. Say what you will, sirs, yet harken to me: Put back stories in movies or watch our feet flee.

Bad Language

Sarah Hoyt was born and raised in Portugal, and now lives in the USA — and makes a living from writing *in English*. Her thoughts upon the nature and history of language as it has evolved among humans (specifically Homo sapiens sapiens) AND why the “universal translator” is a Bad Idea are well worth consideration by ANYONE who must deal with differences in the way we communicate with one another.

And that means Every. Single. One. of us who use the Internet, or make a meaningful living from the exchange of goods, services — and words.

According To Hoyt

Come closer. Yes, you. Come here. Listen to me. Do you hear what I’m saying? Do you understand it?

I bet you don’t, or not quite as I mean it.

Look, a recent alleged science fiction read had nanocites that adapted people to speak a universal language.

Why is it that languages get no respect when it comes to world building and future projection? Oh, it’s not a science in the sense it’s not predictive. (No, I don’t even care if some colleges consider them almost a science – mine did) but it’s a science in the sense of analysis collection and observation.

Is it because we don’t have math? (We do, you know? It’s just weird and done with different symbols.) Or is it because to paraphrase Pride and Prejudice “Any savage can talk?”

I do understand the unique difficulties of writing future language or past language for that…

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My Name Is Inigo Montoya!

Straight re-blog. Warts and all, I *like* Heinlein.

“Specialization is for insects.”

According To Hoyt

*So, yes, this is a SORTA blast from the past post — but it’s one that wasn’t published here, but at The Lensman’s Children as a guest post in October 2010.  I apologize for doing a repeat post of sorts, but Through Fire has FINALLY started coming together and I’m up to my eyeballs in it.  And then again, I started feeling I needed to do a post on what Heinlein meant to me, because some people are talking a lot of insanity about the poor man, who is not alive to defend himself.  But there’s really nothing I want to say about Heinlein which I didn’t say in this essay.  And so here it is.  A reprint and not a reprint, and some of you might have missed it, so…

UPDATE: since this was written in those days of halcyon sanity four years ago, I feel compelled to clarify…

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