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  • Reply to: Sound Doll/Bran Doll   1 year 6 weeks ago

    They could just as easily have been influenced by that Mott song. :-D Thanks for bringing it up. The piano intro is probably not a coincidence. 

    I forgot the obvious one in the same thread, the United Kingdom's winning entry to Eurovision (22 days before I was born!): Sandie Shaw's "Puppet on a string", lyrics by a Bill Martin, who (surprise) wrote the English lyrics for forlorn sixties waif Twinkle in 1965 to the 'Poupee de son' tune. I spent a grand total of one minute discovering that! Mirthful interview with him here (are they holding up 'Cue Girls Screaming' signs off camera in the Cliff Richard clip?).

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  • Reply to: Sound Doll/Bran Doll   1 year 6 weeks ago

    I'll see your ABBA and raise you Mott the Hoople's "Marionette (Live)". I suppose it's a natural motif for musicians, even the ones who write their own songs. A long tour doing the same show every night probably starts to feel that way for everyone.

    And that's a sweet tribute to France Gall. I recognized the name and had read a little bit about her, about Serge Gainsbourg writing songs filled with innuendos that she didn't understand at the time, but I hadn't heard the songs. Evidently, from the comments, she had lots of fans all around the world.

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  • Reply to: 53-Year-Old Speed Skater Attempts to Make US Olympic Team   1 year 6 weeks ago

    Oh well that's very generous of you :-). 

    I'm not sure if this is what you mean in what Joey Cheek recommended, but while I was out skating this weekend in very cold weather for Georgia (35 - 38 actual degrees F., 27 - 29 windchill if I plugged it in right), I found it very tough going on the uphills on the way back. As a diversion I imagined what it might be like to compete in cross country skiing, because no matter how difficult skating seemed at that moment, it had to be easier than that! I started trying to imitate that motion the best I could, minus the poles. This caused me to stomp harder on the pavement and push all the way through the stride. I shocked myself by picking up a lot of speed at that point (and also wore myself out).  So yes - definitely a good thing to try to remember the rest of the time.

    I also thought more about this sideways on ice, backwards indoor issue, and concluded to myself that there's so much focus on turns with indoor I'm sure there's really no point worrying about a regular push. 

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  • Reply to: Crowd-Sourced Color Names by XKCD   1 year 6 weeks ago

    Interesting points there, eebee. The book you reference is fascinating to me too despite knowing basically zero German.

    It can be aggravating when references don't back up their word derivations. There's often more then one plausible way it could have happened, and it really would be nice to have a link to the justification and some examples that support such a claim.

    I can see how it might be because a word entered a language at a certain time when another language is known to have had a strong influence. (E.g., the ~400 years when England was under the rule of French kings.) Or maybe some shade of meaning is carried over from one source that isn't present in another. Could historisch lead to terms like "historical society" in English, but not convey the sense of someone saying that, for example, a book is "history-ish" rather than history? Maybe it had to pass through French for that, I dunno.

    Fwiw, I can think of place names like Derry, Kerry, Tipperary, Kilkenny, and Killarney in Ireland, with a similar-sounding ending meaning "pertaining to" some person or people in their Gaelic/Irish language names. So I guess they could also be the ones behind this tendency.

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  • Reply to: 53-Year-Old Speed Skater Attempts to Make US Olympic Team   1 year 6 weeks ago

    ... but I don't have your eye for skating form. That's an interesting observation and I'll have to try to watch more closely. Joey Cheek is big on skaters keeping their hips level and steady and getting pressure all the way through every push, which seems like another good thing to work on during casual skating.

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  • Reply to: Crowd-Sourced Color Names by XKCD   1 year 6 weeks ago

    I wonder if -ish entered our language through French invasions or Germanic ones? In the past I have wondered why it's witzig (funny ha ha) but komisch (funny peculiar), and eifersuchtig but neidisch (both jealous). I had assumed that words like English and Englisch evolved in parallel directly from Germanic roots, but I guess it's always possible we came to use it via the French or Latin. Here's a brief mention in a book I'd like to know all the contents of without reading. 

    As with most language or pronunciation oddities, they usually irk me until I find out how they evolved. "Tuscany" bugs the crap out of me. What's so hard about saying "Toscana"? I haven't looked it up but suspect Victorian Britain might be to blame on that one, along with many other insults. 

    Regarding manly men, I've seen an elderly gent walking along Peachtree Street wearing brightly colored suits. I loved the yellow one and told him so. He said "Wah thankyeh".  Sometimes he wears other boldly colored suits. I'm hoping it catches on. 

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  • Reply to: Inline Skating is a Good Workout   1 year 6 weeks ago

    Yes! Yes it is! Or you can simply make up your own ridiculous event, such as taking another shot at Smyrna to Anniston on the Silver Comet Trail. 

    The Winter Olympics are always a good reminder to me of the joys of skating (not winning, since I never really ever won anything, but how it feels when muscles, circulation and brain cells work again).

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  • Reply to: 53-Year-Old Speed Skater Attempts to Make US Olympic Team   1 year 6 weeks ago

    That's an inspiring video and story! Good for him. 

    It has always looked to me as if long track ice skaters pushed more backwards (or at least 45 degrees from the straight line of Eddy Workshop famed "Air D"), than inline skaters. Perhaps pushing backwards is more of an indoor inline thing due to all the turns? Maybe outdoor inliners have more stretches of straight road  on which to try to perfect the sideways push and heel-wheel-last technique.  Maybe there are fewer outdoor inliners so a larger percentage of them took the Eddy workshop at some point? 

    That big grassy bank in the video looks like heaven to me right now. 

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  • Reply to: Crowd-Sourced Color Names by XKCD   1 year 11 weeks ago

    That's a good explanation of Pantone colors and the problem of color matching. I should add that the xkcd survey was based on viewing and identifying HTML "hex triplets", which aren't part of any calibrated color system, something that the survey's author acknowledges. Color renditions can vary "due to different computer screen" as stated in many eBay auctions for inexpensive unbranded clothing, and his analysis did at least include looking for significant differences between LCD and (increasingly rare) CRT screen users.

    I remember your concerns about certain jersey buyers and "I can't wear <color>." It makes me wistful for the multihued 80s and early 90s. These days, it seems, all cars are some shade of grey, girly girls only wear pink, and manly men only wear camo.

    Btw, here's an interesting new take on color naming that I spotted some time after posting this article:

    The World Has Millions of Colors. Why Do We Only Name a Few?

    Their fundamental idea is that, in languages and cultures with few color names, there are more names for "the warm colors – reds, oranges and yellows" because the things that are most interesting, "people, animals, berries, fruits and so on," are likely to be those colors. The observation of more color names coming into languages as technology advances is explained by "improved ways of purifying pigments and making new ones" making it possible to "make objects that differ based only on color."

    Dictionaries say that the -ish suffix entered our language from French and can either create an adjective from a noun implying "belonging to," as in English, British, and Spanish; or it can create an adjective from another adjective with an implied sense of "somewhat" or "rather." Meanwhile, the -y suffix comes from the Germanic -ig, and carries a meaning of "full of." The first word that comes to mind is zaftig, which is Yiddish, from the German saftig, "juicy." (Saft is cognate to the English sap.)

    I've wondered to myself at times about the (not universal) English practice of assigning names ending with -y to places, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Tuscany, Normandy, Brittany, Saxony, and the like; or the colloquial Araby, or the rustic character in old movies who says "Virginny" and "Alabammy." Indeed, Germany is full of Germans and Saxony is full of Saxons. Normandy is full of Normans and Brittany is full of Bretons, which are close enough I guess, but Italy isn't really full of Itals and Hungary is actually full of Magyars. I'll leave Virginny for someone else to ponder.

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  • Reply to: Speedskating Season is Starting and During an Olympic Year it Matters   1 year 12 weeks ago

    So far, the NBC Olympic Channel has aired three two-hour-long packages each for the Heerenveen (NED) and Stavanger (NOR) World Cup meets. I'm catching up via DVR and still have the final day of Heerenveen to watch. Local guy Joey Cheek is the analyst/commentator and doing a good job of it; familiarity with the athletes, and good insights into skating technique and how they approach each event.

    Big stories so far are the Japanese women winning a whole lot and the Norwegian men being not quite that dominant but at least challenging the Dutch skaters after being largely out of the picture for a decade. A point that Joey Cheek has made a few times is that top skaters don't make a goal of winning in November in a season that leads up to the Olympic Games, so many of the favorites might still be under-ripe at this point.

    Also of interest is Brittany Bowe's return from post-concussion syndrome after colliding with a teammate while training last year, which cost her most of the season. She doesn't appear to be at the peak of conditioning at this point but she's back on blades and top-ten fit at least and could be a factor by February.

    Another point to keep in mind is that the results of these meets determine how many skaters each nation sends to the Olympic Games, but each nation has it's own method of deciding who those skaters will be. In the case of the US, that will be a Trials meet at the start of January. Going on World Cup results so far, the US contingent isn't figuring to be very large, but that makes for an exciting and competitive Trials meet, to look on the bright side.

    Calgary's up next, starting tomorrow.

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