Tag: Language

Ten-dollars worth of nihilism

Ten-dollars worth of nihilism

As I battle the unholy combination of impulsively long writing and too much content in the form of video game mechanics and aesthetics for my first Gaming in American Culture paper, it’s about time for a break.

Because my 4-6 page restriction has long since been surpassed by a 10-page first draft, and I’m electing to take advantage of the Sunday deadline’s opportunity for procrastination.

Instead, why not write a blog post?

In lieu of something substantial (as I have spent my afternoon writing about video games and listening to Ender’s Game), I figure why not take advantage of the Cognitive Psychology student presentation I watched during class this morning?

As I’ve briefly discussed in the past, our main grade outside of exams in Cog Psych are coming from presentations we have to give on a professional study which will become the subject of our research papers.

The presentation given today was about the spacing effect: In which we memorize better by spacing out information rehearsal over long periods of time than with condensed study.

To show us how this worked, the group’s activity involved learning obscure vocabulary terms intersperced by periods of rest and cat videos.

If you know me at all by now, you know that I can’t let a particularly interesting vocabulary word slip by without making a “ten-dollar word of the day” post.

Thus, I present to you:


Nihilarian

Noun

  1. A person who deals with things lacking importance.

via the Collins Dictionary


As a long-time user of nihilism, both in my vocabulary and philosophical musings (particularly fun with YouTube dives into popular culture), I was quite interested to learn a new word with a similar root.

It’s a simple but poignant term. Nihil-, the Latin word for nothingness, mixed with the suffix of different jobs — reminiscent of words like librarian, technician, etc.

While the word was used to help us learn a facet of psychology, my introduction to nihilarian engaged an entirely different part of my brain.

Now I’m going to look for any excuse to use the phrase to describe a character in my novel. Because the Honors Project is such a hodgepodge of influences from my daily experiences that I may as well.

Perhaps it could apply to one of my new mantis people.

See, I very recently had the drive to include a race of praying mantis-like characters. The idea came serendipitously in a dream I had last night — which I suppose is the kind of intuition I’m listening to now.

Next thing you know I’ll be a full-blown spiritualist.

They may be Thri-kreen, a la my similar inclusion of Aarakocra bird people from Dungeons and Dragons lore (because literally everything exists in D&D apparently, and my friend Sam is great at pointing out the obscure bits).

Or they may be something more humanoid of my own creation, considering how uncomfortable I am with full-on bug people after seeing the D&D depiction.

Thri-kreen2
Image courtest of the Forgotten Realms Wiki.

Either way, mantis folk are coming. And one of them will likely deal with things lacking importance.


Image courtesy of Woolchan via Wikimedia Commons

Schrödinger’s @

Schrödinger’s @

This little premise is probably something that could be served better as a brief question on Twitter, but I figured I would pose a more elaborate version on the off-chance I get interesting responses beyond the shelf life of a tweet.

It’s undeniable that the language of social media has injected itself into our common vernacular, to the point that I can say something like “the shelf life of a tweet” without turning any heads — Just imaging saying that to someone from the 1800s!

However, I’m not particularly concerned about social media terms in real life, general use.

My inquiry is aimed toward how people use an at sign (@) or hashtags (#) ((or the pound sign, though that’s not how I’ll be using it)) in the world of Twitter reading.

That probably sounds like dumb technobabble, so let me explain further.

Obviously the at sign and hashtags serve functional purposes in the world of Twitter. The prior acts as a mention to draw attention to individuals, while the latter compiles specific topics for analytics on what might be popular.

They are essential elements one must know when using the service to get the most out of it.

With brief research I found this hilariously academic and sterile handbook “tips” page for utilizing these two elements of Twitter. It reminded me that some people are not hooked into this stupid website yet and might not understand its digital language.

Outside of their mechanical functionality, both symbols have audible names so they can be discussed in the abstract. Even if I sometimes just mime mid-air finger drawings that vaguely resembles the “@” symbol during real life interactions.

Other symbols in our language have similar mechanical functionality while also being named for discussion.

The last sentenced ended with a period, which either sits silently due to our shared understanding of what it represents (an end point) or can be audibly referred to for emphasis.

Period. End of story.

Yet the period has existed for hundreds of years, affording it a place in the general lexicon that is taught in every high school English class. We all, I assume, have the same understanding of the period’s uses in the manner I have described.

I’m just not sure whether or not the same thing exists for modern pseudo-punctuation.

It does seem common enough for people to say the word “hashtag” before mentioning the word that follows.

But is it the same for the at sign?

There is a concept called the “Inner Reading Voice” that I guarantee you’re all familiar with. While you read this blog post to yourself, you’re likely reading it — as if out loud — in your own head.

For those of you who frequent Twitter as often as I do, I have to ask: How does your Inner Reading Voice handle an at sign in mentions?

I’ve always found that I struggle with two different approaches, and I’d like to know whether I’m crazy.

Do you…

  • Completely ignore the symbol’s existence and continue the sentence as normal?

Or-

  • Actually read the at sign out loud as if it is an extra word in the sentence?

This distinction seems small, but I would wager it makes a big difference grammatically.

For instance, this is the Tweet I wrote to promote my recent Umbrella Academy review.

Did you read this:

  • “… I just couldn’t get Netflix’s Umbrella Academy out of my head.”

Or-

  • “… I just couldn’t get at Netflix’s Umbrella Academy out of my head.”

For this sentence I wager it would not make sense to include the ‘at’ verbally.

However, let’s say I wrote half a dozen tweets asking Netflix to start streaming Umbrella Academy season 2 already. I get tired of throwing all my complaints at the service and express it in a further tweet.

How would you write that?

  • “I’m tired of throwing all these tweets at @netflix, why won’t they answer?!”

Or-

  • “I’m tired of throwing all these tweets @netflix, why won’t they answer?!”

Either could potentially work. Either you read the “@” as an extra word or ignore the “@” as a purely mechanical necessity when mentioning Netflix.

As someone who tries to sounding grammatically correct in my open publications, I suppose the usage I would consider correct depends on context.

If there would be an ‘at’ naturally before the at sign, I might be inclined to leave it out at risk of sounding repetitive.

However, if no at would naturally preceed the symbol, I would just ignore that at sign.

Thus my question remains: How do you handle the @ when you’re reading through Twitter? Are you like me, depending on context? Or do you adamantly always/never read the symbol out loud?

Science demands your compliance in this unofficial study.


Featured Image courtesy of Post of Moldova via Wikimedia Commons

A ten-dollar word worth its weight in gold

A ten-dollar word worth its weight in gold

Once in a while I like to take a break from delving into a video game or bothering you all about my life and talk about another one of my favorite things: The written word.

Unfortunately, this isn’t really an update on my Senior Honors Project. I have been working on that a bit recently, but not in any capacity to show something off.

Instead I wanted to bring back something that I haven’t really done since last summer. A ten-dollar word of the day.

Sometimes I just find a word that stands out for one reason or another, and it makes for some good filler content on a day when not a lot else has gone on.

However, today’s word isn’t quite as (from my point of view) underutilized as something like “proselytize.” In fact, you just might recognize it from my own recent lexicon.


Bonanza

Definition 1:

  1. Something that is very valuable, profitable or rewarding.
  2. A very large amount.
  3. Extravaganza.

Definition 2:

  1. An exceptionally large and rich mineral deposit (as of an ore, precious metal or petroleum while mining).

via the Merriam-Webster dictionary


Yeah that’s right, I’m pulling out that word from my post headline yesterday. Looking it up to see if it was the word I actually wanted to use was what inspired me to talk about it more, actually.

I re-ordered the list of definitions from Merriam-Webster here on my blog to put what I would consider the more common usage on top.

After all,  I personally happen to know the word “bonanza” in reference to something like an extravaganza, or simply something valuable.

But it threw me for a loop to see that the term apparently has roots in the mining industry!

Looking for some more information on that origin led me down an interesting little rabbit hole. I discovered a website called mining.com for example, which apparently covers news regarding different precious metals and their market prices. They also apparently do things like advertise mining-related novels, which is where I found the “bonanza” connection.

Another blog I found off-shooting the Collins Dictionary stipulates that the word came to be popularly used with mining successes as a result of its Spanish origin, where the term meant “calm sea” in reference to an expression of good news for sailors and fisherman.

The general “good fortune” expression wound up being used in the mining industry as well.

This all actually makes some sense considering the more modern usage of the word as being an extravagant event or a rewarding situation. It just comes off of a root that threw me off-kilter — enough to spent at least a little bit of time digging deeper.

Isn’t that the beauty of a language like English, with so many intermingling influences?

While looking for the definition of the term bonanza, I also happened to come across a totally different and interesting off-shoot of the term. One that might be a bit more recognizable for a crowd older than I am.

There was a television show that ran on NBC for nearly 15 years called “Bonanza” based on a group of cowboys tending to their ranch and the surrounding community during and after the Civil War.

This show apparently had 430 episodes, so I’m pretty surprised I’ve never heard of it! Especially considering how much of an old Hollywood fan my dad is.

The western was also popular enough to have a few continuation movies into the 80’s and 90’s according to the IMDb page on its producer, David Dortort.

So there you go! Bonanza. Parties, gold mining and cowboys. Romeo would probably be proud of just how much is in this name in particular.

You know, once he got over the fact that televisions are a thing that exist. Or electricity in general for that matter.


Featured image courtesy of Marshman via Wikimedia Commons

The Benefits to being a Hoarder

The Benefits to being a Hoarder

They called me crazy.

“Why would you keep all of your old binders,” they said.

“You should just throw out/burn all that old stuff,” they said.

“When are you ever going to use your high school notes ever again,” they said.

Well who’s laughing now viewing audience who I’m imagining chastises me for my corner full of old binders on a daily basis. For one of the first times, I had to break out my old AP Psychology binder from about four years ago now (Yikes, I’m getting old) to help fill in a detail for a research paper I’m writing in my Sensation and Perception class.

For context, I’m writing my paper about the way language affects our perceptions of the world around us.

Part of the reason I was interested in grabbing this topic was because it stood out so much to me back in my AP Psych days. My friend Nina, who’s aiming to become a professional interpreter (and is well on her way from what I understand, given that she’s doing a gig translating for the CEO of Sony), made the idea way more tangible at the time by explaining her experiences struggling to translate certain words or emotions between English and Japanese.

Now that I’m writing a paper about that exact topic, I knew I needed to use the general idea we were learning about at the time. Unfortunately… I couldn’t remember the exact term.

My current textbook didn’t exactly provide any useful clues in that department, either.

So it was off to the pile of old binders. Eventually I managed to find the one I needed, and with a cursory search found this:

img_1196


Linguistic Determinism 

A range of views in which our thinking (or worldview) is seen as being determined or shaped by language.


That term, coined by Benjamin Lee Whorf, is the crux of my current paper.

And I would not have remembered it if not for this four-year-old binder sitting around idly in the corner of my room. Now I feel completely vindicated for hoarding all of these bulky old documents for as long as I have.

Perhaps I’ll have to go through the pile, clean up the binders and re-organize them one of these days, however. Because these things are dusty as hell and covered in silverfish.

Guess that’s the price I have to pay for just haphazardly throwing them back there after each year/semester when the promise of vacation proves too much for my better judgement to bear.

But anyway, extra special shout outs today to my AP Psych professor, Mrs. Mata, and to my friend Nina for creating such a strong, lasting impression on me that I have the perfect foundation for my big research paper this semester.

Plus that AP Psych class was what drove me to minor in Psychology in the first place so… You know. Just some icing on the cake there.

Temporal Contiguity

I’m trying something totally radical today. Instead of writing this post after my trip to the gym, I’m writing it while currently at the gym!

Using the treadmill, to be specific.

About 10 minutes into my run and I’m already beginning to suspect this whole split mindset is a mistake. But overall I’m very interested in killing two birds with one stone, because once I get home from the gym I’ll have to study for this quiz I’m dreading.

Somehow we’re only a week into the semester and have already covered two whole chapters in this class. No idea how the quiz is going to go because it’s uncharted territory and this is the class where I don’t feel totally confident in my notes, so…

Yeah.

Should be fun.

That’s another story, though.

This blog post isn’t necessarily meant to be about me writing it at the gym. That would probably be weird.

Instead I figured I would try to write something positive about school considering yesterday’s post was so negative.

During my Learning and Memory class this morning I learned about something really cool which put words to a thing I’ve always thought about:


Temporal Contiguity

Occurs when two stimuli are experienced close together in time and, as a result an association may be formed.


I think this just about explains itself honestly.

I’ve talked about this same subject probably countless times before, particularly concerning my nostalgia for certain games being intrinsically linked to different locations.

Playing Pokémon Sapphire and the first run of Shovel Knight on 3DS while in Florida with my grandparents.

Playing through Pokémon Firered while in New York many, many years ago for my cousin’s Bat Mitzvah.

Playing Fire Emblem Fates (Birthright specifically) while in New York for a journalism conference.

Playing Pokémon White 2 in a Target near the Del Amo Mall by my house.

I could go on and on with this list frankly, and at least 80 percent of the examples are clearly Pokémon inspired — in case you ever needed a good reason why the series is my favorite of all time.

But I think you get the point.

Before you think I’m a total loser though, just know it isn’t all video game examples running through my head. Even if those are the most prevalent.

For instance, I remember finishing Wilson Rawls’ “Where the Red Fern Grows” while riding our family exercise bike when it was still in my parent’s room.

Followed soon after by bawling uncontrollably all over our family exercise bike when I finished the book.

Screw you Rawls. I’m still not over that.

This writing on the treadmill thing actually kind of sucks so I think I’m going to cut things off here. Try not to kill myself on exercise machines and give myself some closure to focus wholeheartedly on stressing myself out over a quiz later.

Just figured it would be worth sharing this cool new term I learned today that gave me the words to describe a phenomenon I’ve noticed quite often.

Have you found any sort of terms or words like that recently?

Or, if not, what sort of temporal contiguities have you experienced that really stuck with you?

Let me know down in the comments!

Jason’s Ten-Dollar Word of the Day

I spent a lot of the day today doing work, copy editing for a number of different people mostly. While I could go on about why that made me late for getting this post out into the world, that would be boring.

Plus anyone reading this after tonight probably wouldn’t care in the first place. So I’m just going to not do that.

Instead I’m going to pull out an interesting tidbit from one of my jobs today and expand on it.

See, while doing a copy edit for a story coming out of Boom sometime soon regarding the current discussions about separating immigrant children from their parents at the border (a topic I don’t plan to delve too deeply into here, don’t worry) I found there were a few words I had to look up to see if they were being used correctly.

One such word stood out in particular because it gave me a more proper term to use for something which otherwise I’ve always treated in a casual manner.


Proselytize

Intransitive Verb form

  1. To induce someone to convert to one’s faith.
  2. To recruit someone to join one’s party, institution, or cause.

Transitive Verb form

  1. To recruit or convert especially to a new faith, institution or cause.

via the Merriam-Webster dictionary


Basically, when the Jehovah’s Witnesses come to your house to talk with you about their faith, they are proselytizing.

The term extends further than just religious door-to-door salesmanship, however. It’s also a politician’s term, a social movement’s term, an industrialist’s term, so on and so forth.

Funny enough, the word actually reminded me of a story I wrote back in 2013 for the High Tide. Julian Stern, a kid who I’d known through being a school acquaintance for some time by then, was running for City Council while just 18 years old.

Very specifically I recall him spending some time in my house to do the interview because he happened to be going door-to-door campaigning in my neighborhood at the time. It was an interesting interview to be sure, and I actually wound up reflecting that in the lede to my article.

You can read the article here, by the way. Bottom right-hand corner of page three.

Looking back on it now I probably would have been laughed out of my high school newsroom for trying to use a term like “proselytize” in my story, but it would’ve fit quite well as a more specific, mature term.

Of course the average reader more easily understood that he was “selling himself rather than magazines,” and that’s why it was the better choice to go with, but still. I would like to see myself use proselytize in a sentence sometime soon.

Also, don’t read too much into my saying ‘selling himself.’ I know you internet, you’ll make anything dirty, but this is not the time.

Stop it.

Well that’s my ten-dollar word of the day. I actually enjoy seeing things like ‘words of the day’ on every online dictionary and goofy calendar ever made, so I might just try to do this again next time I find a new word that’s interesting. If you’d like to see more of it, or if you learned an interesting new word today yourself, let me know down in the comments!

March 14, 2017 Article Published

Happy pi day everybody!  As somebody who had one of the punniest math teachers ever for Precalculus/Trigonometry in high school (thank you for the silly turtle drawing that will never let me forget what a sinusoidal line is, Mr. Baumgartner), I feel like this is the kind of fake holiday I can get behind.

However, that’s not why we’ve gathered here today.  No, we’ve gathered here because I’m ready to self-promote myself once again, this time for an article covering an event I attended yesterday.

To be completely honest, if there’s any article I’ve written that deserves a little bit of praise, it would be this one.  I don’t usually like to toot my own horn or anything, but covering this as a whole was one of the hardest journalism experiences I’ve had in the six years I’ve worked as a student journalist.  Not only was the subject matter fairly heavy, being a lecture about human trafficking, but also…

The entire lecture was given in Spanish.

Yeah, as someone who lives in Southern California you’d think I would be at least semi-knowledgable in the romance language nearest and dearest to us… But no, I’m the kid that decided to take three years of Chinese in high school instead.

I don’t regret that decision by any means, even if I still wouldn’t call myself fluent in the language, but it did make things substantially more difficult for me in this particular instance.

Now, just how did I get myself into a situation where I was covering an event in a language I don’t know?  It’s a long story, but to put it simply a poster for the event landed in my lap at just the right moment when we needed extra content for a floundering page, and none of the promotional materials suggested it was going to be given in an entirely Spanish-speaking course.

Luckily I have some amazing friends in the newsroom that were able to help me out.  In particular, our copy editor Aaron was able to swoop in and not only understand what was going on, but also help me break through a sudden bout of paralysis I had when doing interviews for the story after the lecture ended.

Seriously, without him I would’ve been screwed, and I couldn’t be happier that he was around to help and not over in New York at a conference getting buried in snow.

Plus he helped me pull the story together pretty late, and it looks way better with his contributions than it would have otherwise.

If you want to check out the article in its entirety, you can see it here.  You can also check out my full archive of work for the Daily Titan over on the right!