My Thoughts Exactly

A real-live (OK, real-mechanical) Turing Machine, and a real-live Hoosier locution.

For any of y’all sufficiently ungeekoid so as to not understand why this machine is only the coolest thing in the history of fuckall, first, Welcome to Wetmachine, and how the frack did you end up here? And second, please see this very helpful wikipedia article, which will get you up to speed.

As a special, special, bonus, right about the 4-minute mark into this video the narrator/machine-maker uses a locution (is there a name for it? pls ans) in which the words “to be” are omitted from the object-verb of the verb “to need”, and the naked past participle is used instead, viz, Each loop of the Turing program reads the current cell and uses the transition rules to determine if that cell needs changed. N.B. “needs changed”, not “needs *to be* changed”. About this idiomatic usage, Wiktionary says:

Rarely, with a past participle, as in “Something needs done”, which is synonymous with “Something needs to be done.” Note that many speakers do not find this construction to be acceptable.

Please note that *this* speaker, me, finds this construction perfectly acceptable. My Dear Wife, a native of Evansville, Indiana, uses it, and finds herself unable to change that habit after 30 years of effort to speak more “correctly” since I first pointed it out to her. I just think it’s charming when she speaks Southern-Indiana-style and will be heartbroken if she ever drops this usage.

But I doubt she will. After all, according to this source referenced by Wikipedia,

“ (If you’re a need/want+Ved speaker — ”The garden needs watered“ — you can go for decades without realizing that lots of other people don’t use this construction, ever.)”.

But I’ll bet Alan Turing would have noticed. That guy didn’t miss much. (I nearly said “That guy didn’t miss a trick”, but that would have opened a whole nother can ‘o worms.)

Posted in My Thoughts Exactly | Also tagged , , | 3 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Republican Bill To Reform FCC Not A Bad Place To Start Discussions.

There’s an old saying that goes “when it rains, can’t fix the roof; when it don’t rain, the roof don’t need fixin.’” That rather sums up most efforts at government reform. When you’re out of power, you can’t really do anything about it. When you’re in power, it turns out things don’t really need fixing. So no shocker that Joe Barton (R-TX), ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, joined by Mr. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), ranking member of the Telecom Subcommittee, have decided to introduce an FCC reform bill now that (a) Democrats control Congress, and (b) Democrats control the FCC. You can find the press release here and the full bill text here.

If political expediency were a mortal sin, however, nothing would ever get done. So it is not enough to simply note that politicians of either party are more apt to want reform when they are on the outside. It is important to examine the bill in its own right. Given that a lot of folks in both parties and in the public interest community would like to see some longstanding issues corrected, and I have opined on the matter myself from time to time, it’s important to consider whether the Barton-Stearns bill makes a good start and a basis for going forward. Remember, we want functional government. If out of power Rs are now in the mood to address real issues and get substantive stuff done, the thing to do is make it easy for them to work together with Ds. Perhaps it will become a habit. OTOH, as Ds have learned over the last several month, agreement for the sake of agreement is not worth doing.

My personal feeling after a quick read is that this bill is not a bad place to start on some long-standing procedural gripes, but that there are a couple of things that worry me.

Details below . . . .

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Posted in Life In The Sausage Factory, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Responding to Kevin Martin and Other Reflections On Yesterday's FCC Broadcast Ownership Vote

(As you may have seen from John’s post, we lost several days worth of material yesterday and couldn’t get this posted promptly. So forgive me for posting what is literally yesterday’s news. And hopefully I will be able to get back or reconstruct the other posts.)

So the day has come. Martin has crossed the ownership Rubicon, and we now move on to the campaign to force Congress to over-rule the FCC vote while simultaneously fighting in the courts. (And if you want to see us stay in the fight and have a chance of winning, I highly recommend making a tax deductible contribution to my employer (and lead counsel for the case) Media Access Project).

First, a hearty congratulations to the Commissioners, and Kevin Martin in particular, for starting only an hour late from the announced time! This is quite the improvement from the last meeting. Who says FCC reform doesn’t work? Second, if it is going to take 2 hours for everyone to read their statements, please let us know so we can use the bathroom first. Third, if the FCC is going to make a habit of this, I recommend putting in a concession stand so we can buy snacks during the intermission.

That out of the way, a few more serious reflections below….

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General Exception

And now, a word from our polar opposite…

Ray Kurzweil has has a piece in Forbes on his vision of the combination of artificial intelligence and nanotechnology. According to him, we’ll have AI nanobots crawling bloodstream, repairing us, and augmenting our senses. In 20 years.

Umm… yeah.

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Posted in General Exception, I Fear These Things | Also tagged | 2 Comments (Comments closed)
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