The word impeach enters English in the 1380s as the Middle English empechen, which meant “to impede,” “hinder,” or “prevent.” It was borrowed from the Old French empechier, in turn from the Late Latin impedicāre, “to fetter,” “entangle,” or “catch.” The root of impedicāre is pedica, “shackles,” formed from pēs, “foot,” yielding words from pawn to pedestrian to impede. As the metaphor goes, to shackle one’s feet is to stop them from walking, hence impeach’s historical sense of “hinder.”
I can’t like this. I can’t love it or laugh at it, because it is probably the end of the UK. I don’t want to cry, because they’ve made the bed they now have to lie in. Ambivalence. There is no emoji for ambivalence. What I really want to know is, why don’t the Liberal-Democrats invade Labor and take it over from inside? The real problem in the UK is plurality voting and more than two choices on the ticket. It is a math problem.
But the pessimistic take on Brexit is that once Britain leaves the European Union, it becomes less of an attractive proposition for foreign companies to base their factories and their businesses. And so in order to keep foreign investors coming into Britain and in order to attract new ones, the government is going to have to slash regulations, make it even easier to hire and fire people, and in the process, make it easier to set up a warehouse like Sports Direct. And so there is a scenario in which post-Brexit Britain looks a lot more like Shirebrook in 2019 rather than less like it.
Every now and then I hit on an episode of Decoder Ring that hits me back. This episode was one of those.
Nick Spark fell down a rabbit hole tracking down the origins of Murphy’s law, the ubiquitous phrase that says, “If it can go wrong, it will go wrong.” On this episode of Decoder Ring, we follow spark on his journey while taking a few detours of our own to find out how Murphy’s law was (maybe) born out of the rocket sled experiments of the dawning jet age. We talk to Spark, hear some of the recordings he collected during his own research, and speak to researchers who are skeptical of Nick’s hypothesis, all to try to find out how an obscure engineering aphorism spread to become a world-conquering philosophical observation. Some of the voices in this episode include Nick Spark, Craig Ryan (author of Sonic Wind, a biography of John Paul Stapp), George Nichols, David Hill Sr., Fred Shapiro, and Stephen Goranson.
I just happen to still have the poster that hung in my bedroom for most of my teenage years. here’s a picture of it.
Yes, this actually hung on my wall right next to the poster of Christy Brinkley. I was a weird child, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before. Murphy was an optimist, as the poster itself notes. Having said that, it would be in keeping with Murphy’s law that trying to prove the origin of the law would inevitably end up down a blind alley somewhere. Having not planned to avoid this failure in advance, the failure occurs. Murphy remains a mystery.
Stephen Follows ran the numbers through his three distinct perspectives for considering movies; Creative, Commercial, Cultural. He selected specific datasets for all three perspectives in order to determine if Die Hard is a Christmas movie or not. I, as a lowly movie watcher, defer to his expertise on this subject. Here is a link to his article.
For those of you who cannot be bothered to read a few pages of text with some interesting graphs mixed into them in order to liven up the number crunching, I’ll give you a tl;dr quote from the conclusion.
[I]t’s certainly fair to say that Die Hard is regarded as a Christmas movie in popular culture. Like it or not, the association between Die Hard and Christmas is fast increasing and in years to come its Christmassyness will be beyond question.
Hat/tip to The Wife for the link to this article. When I mentioned I was doing a series of pieces on our Lord John McClane, she insisted I had to read Stephen’s article and include it in the series. I will be relying on his three perspectives consciously in the future when I review films, as I have been known to do. I was already taking the three of them into account when I wrote reviews or mused on the impact of various films, but I had never given the perspectives names before.
Hat/Tip to Merbrat for all but the first image. I used to refer to her as a stoic (specifically an email stoic) when I mentioned her on the blog because I thought it was a funny joke to label someone as effusive and outgoing as she is with a philosophy marked by asceticism and reserve. I’m not sure why I thought it was a funny joke back then, but I did. What can I say? I have a weird sense of humor. The first image was added later after I stumbled across the nakatomistrong hashtag and followed it to his wall.
How to describe what happened yesterday? I couldn’t describe it while it was happening to me, so I have little hope of describing what happened now that it is over and I feel normal. At least, as much as any chronic illness sufferer can be said to feel anything approximating normal on any average day. To the extent that normal equates to average, then today is a normal day.
It wasn’t pain. It wasn’t numbness. I just didn’t feel right. I wasn’t hungry, even though I should have been. I wasn’t tired, even though I should have been. I just felt… off. I couldn’t even put my finger on exactly what was off.
The Wife needed me to help her with errands that needed doing, so I shelved my weird non-feeling that I couldn’t describe and went out and sat at the Social Security office to file paperwork while she went out and did the other things on the todo list for yesterday. Then we came straight back to the house were I forced several glasses of water down my throat and then went back to bed and slept for another six hours.
When I woke up it became clear that the Irritable Bowel Syndrome might have been the cause of the entire day’s problems. I’ll spare you, dear reader, on the gory details that lead me to this conclusion. Needless to say, I felt much better after visiting the toilet when I woke up. I’ll need to remember to force fluids the next time I feel off in some weird way that I can’t explain. I do have a bad tendency to eat when I’m thirsty rather than pick up something to drink, a habit that can make constipation worse rather than better.
I avoid using the L-word in my scientific writing. We talk about exceptional gregariousness. We talk about hypersociability. When we’re doing science, we have to find terms that can be operationalized, or things that can be measured. We can measure whether a dog chooses to go for a bowl of food or its owner when it’s separated from both food and its owner for many hours. We can measure how hormonal levels go up in both dogs and their owners when they look into each other’s eyes.