Archive for August, 2011

Transitivity fail

August 31, 2011

More entertainment with syllogisms. This one came up in Facebook discussion about my “twin primes” posting, in which I referred to

the first of two twin prime birthdays: 71 and 73. Previous pair, 59 and 61. Next one, 101 and 103, which I’m not likely to see.

Frank McQuarry then played with this, saying:

You’ll never be a Mersenne prime again either. Unless you manage to make it to 127.

To which I replied:

I haven’t been a Mersenne prime for 40 years!

(31 is the Mersenne prime before 127.)

What Frank introduced here was the playful use of Mersenne prime as denoting a property of human beings. Leading to the possibility of reasoning like the following:

Kim is 31.

31 is a Mersenne prime.

∴ Kim is a Mersenne prime.


Disjunctive syllogism

August 31, 2011

Today’s Zippy:

“It’s outta here … or my name isn’t Saxby Chambliss.” A disjunction, with the logical form P ∨ Q. (P in this case is something like “I’ll hit it out of the park”, expressed colloquially as “It’s outta here”.)


Awake, my soul

August 30, 2011

A link between my posting on the Sacred Harp song Hallelujah and my posting on soul for sole: the song Loving-Kindness (275t), which begins “Awake, my soul”:

(Copying the song from The Sacred Harp was difficult. The key is A minor, and the obscured word is Tho’, twice.)

The words were used as the title of a documentary about Sacred Harp singing, Awake, My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp (trailer for it on YouTube, here; website here).



August 30, 2011

A follow-up to a recent posting with the Sacred Harp song Hallelujah (#146) in it: four recordings of the hymn, by various traditional groups (mostly Southern).

Click here for a recording from the 1959 United Convention.

Click here for a sweet version from the “Amazing Grace” album.

Click here for a version from the album “The Original Sacred Harp”. [Link removed for copyright reasons. See below.]

Click here for a recording from the 1995 Garden State Convention — sweet and fast.

The singers first go through the song “singing the shapes” — that is, singing the names of the shapes in a conventional scheme for representing the notes of the scale (triangle FA, circle SO(L), square LA, diamond MI, with the major scale going, from bottom to top, FA SO LA FA SO LA MI FA). Then they sing the words.

The melody is in the tenor line, but in these recordings a counter-melody in the treble (top) line tends to dominate, and the alto (internal harmony) line also stands out.

I have two recordings of Hallelujah by professional singing groups (the Boston Camerata, directed by Joel Cohen, and the Tudor Choir, directed by Doug Fullington) — both very interesting musically

[Addendum: A friend tells me that the “Original Sacred Harp” album was copyrighted in 2007, so that providing a link to it here would subject me to legal action (for digital piracy — that is, theft) by the RIAA, which has been a legal demon on these matters. This is what says about the album:

The Original Sacred Harp Publishing Company gathered the finest exponents of this wonderful art form in the 60’s. Bibletone acquired the rights to these songs in 1990.

As the movie “Brother, Where Art Thou” shined a light on bluegrass music, the movie “Cold Mountain” put a new emphasis on the original Sacred Harp. These 28 songs were recorded in the 60’s in Birmingham, AL., and are now available on CD from Bibletone, the oldest label name in religious music.

So if you want to hear this version, you’ll have to buy it. My regrets.]

[Further addendum, a trade for the last: a YouTube video of the song, from an Illinois State Convention. With verses borrowed from New Britain (“Amazing Grace”).]

Soul survive

August 30, 2011

On the eggcorn beat. It started with:

Patrick Bubley is the soul-surviving son of Maeve Bubley. His brothers (Vaughn, Cedric, Quincy and Luther) were all killed (link)

(which came up while I was searching for something completely different). Soul for sole.


Twin primes

August 30, 2011

Looming in a week, my 71st birthday. A prime birthday. In fact, the first of two twin prime birthdays: 71 and 73. Previous pair, 59 and 61. Next one, 101 and 103, which I’m not likely to see.

(In between the twins is 72, which is 2^3 x 3^2, nicely symmetrical.)



August 29, 2011

From Victor Steinbok yesterday:

I found two trademarked portmanteaus in the June 1976 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. One is Porta-Pack for small packages of pre-moistened wipes (as we call them now) from Wet Ones. The other is Fleafestation, which a Sergeant Sentry IV (Flea) Collar is supposed to prevent.

Two different sorts of portmanteaus, but both interesting.


confirmed bachelor

August 28, 2011

From Aaron Hicklin’s Editor’s Letter “The Marrying Kind” in the September issue of Out magazine (p. 32):

Until very recently, British newspapers had a sly euphemism for known homosexuals who had resisted the kinds of sham marriages that were once par for the course. In the words of obituary writers, whose job it was to find substitute words for “gay,” they were “confirmed bachelors” — an infinitely lonely construction. Reading those obituaries, you would never get the impression these men (there was no equivalent phrase for women) had ever loved, or been loved in return. These were not confirmed bachelors in the American sense (commitment-phobic straight men on the merry-go-round of short-term relationships). They were men who were never getting married because they couldn’t.

The piece is about same-sex marriage, of course, but my interest here is in the expression confirmed bachelor.



August 28, 2011

From the Evolving English II blog (by “WordzGuy”) on July 13, on “PepsiCo and the future of snack terms”:

The May 16, 2011 edition of The New Yorker has a fascinating article (“Snacks for a Fat Planet,” paywall [by John Seabrook]) about the PepsiCo’s efforts to try to divine their future markets. It’s also fascinating for an unusual number of neological-type terms and for the not-entirely-clear formula they’re using to determine whether to put presumably unfamiliar terms inside quotation marks.

The two terms that struck me first were drinkified (for foods) and snackified (for drinks). Here’s a cite that sums it up:

Let’s say you give a kid a carrot,” Nooyi [CEO] explained. “And he says, ‘I don’t want to eat a carrot.’ But you say, ‘I tell you what, I’ll give it to you in a wonderful drinkable form that’s still as close to the carrot as possible.’ All of a sudden, what have I done? I’ve drinkified the snack! Or I take a fruit juice and give it to you in a wonderful squeezable form, which is Tropolis. What have I done now? I’ve snackified the drink.

There are ~9000 hits on Google for drinkified; many of them reference this same thing (either the article or similar stories about PepsiCo).

A whole lotta ification going on.


Uncle Tomming

August 27, 2011

Via Jeff Shaumeyer on Facebook, this appalling church sign in Harlem:

Jeff thought it was the first time he’d noticed Uncle Tom used as a verb. Turns out that the slurs Uncle Tom and plain Tom got verbed at least 50 years ago.