Monday, September 11, 2017

A couple of #quail on a fence @ #DesertBotanicalGardens

via Instagram

In the dead 108deg heat @ #DesertBotanicalGardens

via Instagram

Cactuses of cacti.

via Instagram

A minute after entering #DesertBotanicalGardens, I learn there's suggest a thing as #OctopusCactus.

via Instagram

Beating the 104deg #Phoenix heat at the Hall of Flame. #firetrucks

via Instagram

Awesome pitas

via Instagram

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Colorado #SolidWorks User Group meeting in full effect...Richard Doyle covers tips/tricks

via Instagram

Words to annoy pedants with inconcise English

Ironic conflicting road signs
There are many ways English doesn't follow precise scientific style definitions.  Some English-speakers are annoyed by some of the inconsistencies and disorder of English words.  There are even some who take their annoyance out on others who don't see such a problem.  In this, there seems to be a movement of sorts that tries to bring some sort of hierarchical order to English words.  When people defy this attempt at order, they sometimes find themselves being attacked for their word choices.

I've talked about the phrase begs the question in a previous article.  Use of this phrase will trigger attacks by pedants.  There are specific words that elicit similar literary venom.  At the top of the list is ironical.

Ironical irony

There are many people that sincerely believe ironical is not a word, and that only ironic should be used in cases where irony is an adjective.  They will actually make fun of people that use the word ironical correctly.  I've used the term myself in an ironic sense, only to trigger people who don't understand the irony of being opposed to the use of the word ironical, and the double-irony that ironical is actually a real word, and the triple-irony that I used the word to make fun of something else (namely, being pedantic).

There was an episode on Seinfeld, where the character Seinfeld confidently declares there is no such word ironical.  I don't know if this started the hatred of the word, but it certainly popularized that hatred.

Another ironic fact about ironical is that it actually has a more concise definition than ironic.  Ironic has three distinct definitions, where ironical has two related definitions.

The word irony itself is also the subject to derision.  The definition of irony includes something being incongruous.  Yet, using irony in this manner can trigger pendants into criticising you.

Number game

Another example of people trying to bring order to disorder of the English language lies in the alternative terms for numbers.  Namely, couple, few, dozen, etc.  But, that's not good enough for some.  In some schools, kids are taught that there is a concise progression to these terms, where couple = 2, several = 3 and few = 4.

If you look up several in the dictionary, you'll if a variety of definitions that can vary between dictionaries.  Some dictionaries say that several means "more than 2 or 3", while others say it means "more than a few".  However, in all cases, several represents an "indefinitely small number".

If you look up few in the dictionary, you'll find that few doesn't actually represent any particular number at all in most definitions.  It doesn't mean "3 or 4" or just "4".  It simply means an "indefinitely small number", similar to several.

I've even heard some claim that the word some has a defined number of 2 or more, when in fact, some can refer to any number, large or small, including 1 or 1,000,000.


Another word I've seen trigger people is orientate.  Orientate and orient both mean the same thing as verbs in most cases.  But, orient is also a noun.  Some people prefer to say orientate to identify the word as a verb since orientate has no noun meaning.  In other words, it's actually more concise to use the word orientate when talking about taking an action that will change the orientation of a thing.

Inflamed much?

Is it wrong to use the word inflammable when flammable means exactly the same thing?  Well, they both have the same definition, but for different reasons.  Root word for flammable is flame.  Flame is a noun.  However, inflame is the root word of inflammable.  Inflame is a verb.  And, inflammation is a noun with a completely different meaning than flame.  The word flammation is obsolete.  It meant to cause something to be set on fire.  What's the other word for that?  Oh, that's right, inflame.  So, technically, flammable should be the word we stop using if we were to choose between it and inflammable.  I wonder who would be inflamed by that?

What are some other words that bug someone you know?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Yes, you do weigh less at the Equator, and here's roughly how much

Earths Gravity
You can change your weight in many ways.  But, there is one way that doesn't require doing anything more than just travelling North or South.  Most dramatically, your weight is different at the Equator than it is at the North Pole.  This is due to the centrifugal force of the Earth's daily rotation.

The Earth spins one full rotation in a period just under 24 hours (kinda).  At a spot that is one inch from the North (or South) Pole, the speed of the ground as it rotates around the axis is literally just over 1/4in per hour.   By comparison, a common snail can slither 1837in per hour.  However, at the Equator, the speed of the ground as it rotates around the axis is a whopping 1,036 MPH!  This is faster than the Speed of Sound (761.2 MPH).  Thankfully, the laws of nature do a great job of making sure we do not notice such things as we walk about in your daily lives.

Even still, that is fast enough to notice the effect of the centrifugal force of Earth's spin on your weight.  Basically, you weigh less at the Equator than you do at the North Pole.  Your mass doesn't change, of course.  It's just that the pull of Earth's gravity is slightly mitigated by it's rotation about its axis.

That said, there are many factors that affect the local gravity.  The problem is that gravity itself is generally measured in terms that are meaningless to everyday life.  So, when an online local gravity calculator tells you that your local gravity in meters per seconds squared, that isn't all that helpful in finding out how much more or less you'll weight somewhere else.

I've created a simplified calculator as a spreadsheet .  It will tell you how much you'll weigh at any latitude based on your current weight at your current latitude.  The calculations on the spreadsheet are rough.  They do not take into account many factors that might affect your weight, nor are they precise enough for serious scientific studies.  However, they are close enough to satisfy whatever curiosity you might have.  As such, use the spreadsheet for entertainment purposes only, and have fun seeing how much less you'll weight at particular latitudes!

Monday, July 10, 2017

We didn't evolve from apes?

I'm not going to touch on arguments pro and con regarding evolution or creationism in this article. This is simply a criticism of a particular ploy used when some engage in those arguments.  It's common to hear a proponent for evolution to say the following when in a discussion with a creationist:
Humans didn't evolve from apes.  We evolved from a common ancestor with apes.
But this statement is disingenuous. The truth is that we did evolve from an early ape species which diversified over time into five great apes species and sixteen ape species, namely Bonobos, Chimpanzees, Gorillas, Orangutans, Humans and various Gibbons.  Sure, it's true we didn't evolve from Chimpanzees, but we did evolve from an ape species from which all other modern ape species also evolved.

Ape skeletons

I guess the claim of not evolving from apes came out of the desire to side step or disrupt creationists' arguments driven by their misconceptions about evolution.  If a creationist says "evolution says we evolved from apes", then it's an easy comeback to say "no it doesn't, actually."  But, in truth, yes, evolution does indeed say we evolved from an ape species, and this is backed up by modern discoveries.  There's no need dance around this by splitting hairs on what is meant by the word "ape".
  • Is a wolf a canine?  Yes.  Is a fox a canine? Yes.  Did wolves and foxes evolve from a common canine species? Yes.  Then wolves and foxes evolved from canines.
This example is just to drive the point home.  Canines and apes (all mammals, reptiles and amphibians, actually) all evolved from common tetrapod ancestor species that first lived on land about 400 million years ago. Yes, we are all tetrapods that evolved from a common tetrapod ancestor species.  In the larger scope, we evolved from tetrapods!  Just as more immediately, we evolved from apes.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Updated States Travelled List

I've travelled to a few more places in North America recently.  Here's my updated map of US: