Friday assorted links


The article about Canadian English is cute. My own experience is that English speakers from the Pacific coast to Ontario sound about the same, but that Quebec Anglophones have a distinct word usage pattern and accent, and those in Atlantic Canada sound very different (especially Newfoundland, in parts of which we venture into "unintelligible dialect" territory)

The only Canadians I've had significant interactions with are in rural Western Ontario, and they just sound like they're from Minnesota, only moreso.

Yes, the Quebec Anglophones (and some in Ottawa) have a distinct accent. Yes, Newfies sound very different. There are many other differences though. The "Bob and Doug McKenzie" accent with lots of eh's and the funny sounding "ou" sound is much more pronounced in Ontario, especially southern Ontario. People in BC (Vancouver, Victoria, etc.) don't really sound much different than west coast Americans.

Here's a short list of my favorite words/sayings/pronunciations that I've noticed from my years of marriage to a Canadian:

Pencil Crayons (colored pencils)
Duotang (the name for a paper folder that has the three brass things you fold to attach 3-holed paper)
Wash Room (restroom, bathroom)
Line Up (line, e.g. "There's a long line up at the ticket counter.")

Pronouncing words with a long O (as in boat) where Americans would use a short O (as in hot): Sorry (sore-ee), Process (proh-sess), Tomorrow (too more oh), etc.
Some pronounce decal (as in a sticker) as "deckle"

As for the article itself, "The truth of it is, though, that most Canadians will tell you they don’t say “eh” much, and it is more associated with less-educated speech." Yes, they may say that, but it's not true. They really do say "eh" quite a lot, even the doctors, lawyers, etc. Especially in Ontario. My mother-in-law swears she never says "eh", but quite literally, every third sentence ends in "eh".

This video (w/ some NSFW words), is poking fun at the "country" accent that many of my wife's Canadian relatives have. She finds the video hilarious.

The "hoser talk" you're referring to is indeed a strong feature of southern Ontario but I know people from all over the country who use "eh" just as much. And the Quebec Anglophone accent you heard in Ottawa was likely the real deal (many Ottawa residents are transplanted anglophone Montrealers who came in the late 1970s).

Some other usage and pronunciation things that really struck me (as a Canadian who lived in the USA for a number of years):
- "trash" as a noun used in serious speech or writing (almost never used in this context in Canada)
- the use of "bathroom / restroom / washroom" you mentioned ("restroom" is not really used in conversation much here)
- the whole "write a test / take a test" bit
- the use of "Coke" to refer to soft drinks in general (though I realize this is a regional thing);
- and finally, the use of "America" as a noun to refer to the USA (Canadians almost never use "America" as a noun unless writing or speaking directly to an American audience)

Some other pronunciation things that come to mind (some of them no doubt regional) as part of American speech:

- the shortened vowels already mentioned (as in the Buffalo PBS affiliate exhorting viewers to "send us your dallers!", Rochester sounds like "Rachester")
- clipping consonants out of clusters (international sounds like "inner national")
- dropping syllables at the ends of words ("drawer" sounds like "draw")

All of this leaving aside some of the stronger regional US accents (New England, Southern, etc.)

Maybe I have an ear for it, but BC and the Prairies sound quite distinct to me. When Americans speak of a Canadian accent, they almost universally mean a Greater Toronto accent. Quebec and Acadia sound less different to me than most Quebecois would prefer.

The anglophone Maritimes are quite different. Newfoundland is a completely different world, though maybe not as much so as it used to be.

Does anyone else pronounce "stock" and "stalk" differently? I'm a Canadian myself, but not all Canadians do so.

I'm originally from canada, and I can detect a distinct difference. Stock is more St-aw-k, and Stalk is more like St-ahl-k, though the "l" is very soft.

Hmm, as an English speaker from right outside the Americas, I would say the main difference is that "stock" has a short "o". But maybe the USA and Canada, it doesn't.

Hazel is right too, that you should at least think about the "l" in "stalk" even if you don't bother pronouncing it. The end result is something like a long "o". A lot of silent letters are like that.

I'm not sure about Canada, but General American English (basically, what TV anchors sounds like, and most people who live in large cities between the Rockies and the Mississippi) is full of mergers like that were formally phonetically distinct words are pronounced the same: pin-pen; Mary-merry-marry; cot-caught. Stock and stalk may have a very slight difference in pronunciation in that accent.

Pin and Pen are pronounced differently to me.
As different as pig and peg.

Well you'll never anchor the national news.

Being a news anchor requires bad pronunciation?

Yeah no national news anchor would pronounce pin and pen the same, you're wrong about that one

Newfie speak sounds like some bastardized version of old timey Irish.

weird that socially skilled car dealers are dying off

I think that the model is that people who are socially skilled and adding value will prosper.

Due to the proliferation of data on the internet, and the improved quality of cars, the main value add of car dealers has been squashed. The now are, at best, a minimal value add or in many cases a value reduction.

That they still exist at all is a testament to the power of regulatory capture, and a testament to the power of dispersed costs and concentrated benefits.

Well, it just depends on where you live.

In conservative small government California, New Jersey, DC, Washington State allow Internet sales, but

Leftist, big government Texas, Arizona, Iowa don't...


And Conservative states like Mississippi, Alaska and Idaho allow Internet sales, but

Liberal states like Vermont, Delaware and Wisconsin don't.

It's almost like someone cherry-picked their data.

California still isn't 100% internet ready:

This isn't a left/right issue, well more precisely this isn't a GOP/democrat issue. This is a regulatory capture issue. Although you are correct that the left's love affair of Tesla is allowing them to push past the capture in some states.

It is a statist/libertarian issue in that statists want all transactions to be licensed and watched through the lens of the glorious bureaucracy while libertarians think that there is little/no/negative value in regulating this transaction in this manner.

Yet you still can't pump your own gas in New Jersey.

@#4 -bitcoin - "The sock puppets, censorship and social engineering fuckery have gotten way out of hand, and the community is starting to stray from the cohesion which it has maintained for so many years" - sounds like MR! lol.

Character account calls out sock puppets, world implodes

Did Banksy get famous because everything he does is obvious and tedious?


Succinct and correct. He combines the artistic skills of a bottom tier advertising agency with the bien peasant views of the average Guardian reader.

If obvious & tedious were enough to make you famous, you all would have your names in lights.

#3 - Who thinks up this stuff? We're going to hike the minimum wage, but only for hotels, and only if they're in LA, and only if they have more than 300 rooms? I suppose they're all shocked SHOCKED to find those targeted businesses taking drastic measures to keep their margins in line with smaller hotels, or hotels just outside the city.

Liberals? Liberals who's core beliefs are that (1) incentives are hooey and (2) making profit is evil ... well that covers all liberals.

"making profit is evil …"

Except for their own profit. Gates, Buffett etc.

Yeah, making a profit is evil. Obviously the definition of a liberal. Also, incentives are a figment of your imagination. You just won the argument.

I bet you're good at Jeopardy. You should challenge Tweety Bird to a match of it!

I don't understand this Banksy thing. This seems like a project that would have required him (or them?) to not just make paintings and sculptures but also to hire contractors, pay people, fill out a bunch of forms and file for permits or whatever. Was this done via shell companies? Who was serving as a public intermediary on their behalf?

You think an artist could build such a project? Banksy is the secret identity of Donald Trump.

I don't understand how anybody older than about 12 found this original or funny. It's actually pretty impressive that he was able to get financing, contractors, permits, etc. for something so banal. Maybe that's the real art...

I think the Bitcoin article makes more sense if you're aware of the mini civil war happening within the Bitcoin community at the moment.

As most know, transactions are processed in "blocks." The history of these, essentially a ledger of who owns how many Bitcoins, is called the block chain. The integrity of this ledger is handled by having a decentralized network of computers doing resource-heavy computationally intensive math problems. The consensus answer to these problems (and therefore the record of all transactions) requires that the majority of these computers come up with the same results, essentially meaning that unless you controlled at least 51% of the computers doing the transaction processing, you couldn't falsify transactions.

The problem is, each block is currently coded to handle only up to 10,000 transactions. Due to the complexity of problem (and size of the block chain), it takes time to process one block. This creates a pretty low upper limit on how many transactions Bitcoin can handle at any given time, at least by the standards of Visa or Mastercard, who handle millions of transactions a day. This essentially makes it impossible for Bitcoin to enter the realm of a mainstream transactional system on a large scale.

There are two camps when it comes to how to deal with it. One is supply and demand based: up the transaction fee when there is a large backup of transactions. This would draw in more people to help process the block chain (and maybe lower the number of people who want to conduct a transaction at that moment). The other is to change the code of Bitcoin to increase the number of transactions per block to something (much) higher than 10,000.

Back to that article. Essentially, he's accusing some group of purposely spamming the system with transactions to create a long backlog of transactions that still need to be processed as a way to push the community towards upping the 10,000 limit.

The fundamental problem is that the system is decentralized so no one can force one solution or another. But, the other problem is that you need a majority of the network to be in agreement, so if different groups start doing different things, either you end up with parallel bitcoin systems that don't agree with each other, or one group cuts another group out entirely from the transactional process (which also cuts them out of being paid to process things).


Bitcoin has a built in limit to how useful it can be as a mainstream transactional system. There are competing ideas how to overcome that limit, but as a decentralized system with no leader, there is no institution in place to implement one solution or another. Instead, you need mass agreement and simultaneous implementation among many strangers. That's proving hard to do.

In essence, a currency designed to circumvent human control via an algorithm is now proving itself to be in need of...human control. Or in other words, you can't avoid governance.

I just had an awesome idea for a science fiction novel.

What if "Satoshi Nakamoto" is an evil AI, and the whole concept of the blockchain was invented to see if it could devise a way to harvest the processing power of billions of computers. Currently they are just doing meaningless (or seemingly meaningless) math problems. But what if the math problems they were doing weren't meaningless? What if they were trying to solve some sort of physics problem necessary to create wormholes or something?

What if Satoshi Nakamoto is Roko's Basilisk?

Really interesting.

Quick! Everyone buy Bitcoin before you are punished by the evil AI!

@Hazel: very cool idea

1# Tyler, you never did pick a CD for that NYC billboard!

Regarding the LA hotel minimum wage: There are 42 hotels affected by this ruling. No unionized hotel is affected. Surely this provides the perfect field experiment to examine what is really going on. Until such data is examined, scientists should hold their fire.

#3 Why does the author assume hotels can not be "less-labor-intensive"?

If you have 30 workers cleaning 10 rooms each, 28 workers only have to clean 1 more room each [a few none].. 2 layoffs.

Obviously they can. But it's harder than other industries. If you layoff 2 people the others have to work more hours (losing you money) or become more efficient.

Staffing hotels with people is so 20th century. Robot dinosaur concierges are 21st century (e.g., Henn'na Hotel in Japan).

Just saying that your existing workers should increase their productivity by 5% or whatever is kinda pointless. If it was trivial to increase the average housekeeper's output by 5%, they'd have done it before the minimum wage increase.

Basically, to reduce labor for hotels you either need to invest capital (into labor saving devices), or lower service standards in various ways. Neither of these are all that easy for large hotels. A housekeeper's job is not easily automated - not even subtasks of it much. Some areas can probably stand a bit more automation/scale (laundry, some aspects of kitchens, possibly some front desk functions). And in some areas, hotels will reduce service at the margins.

A fast food restaurant is probably more able, over medium to long periods, to respond to sharp wage increases with additional capital and certain aspects of system redesign:
1) Touch screen kiosks (less need for cashiers)
2) Automation of some aspects of cooking
3) Tweak menu to eliminate or raise pricing of the most labor intensive items

#5: Lists of lists of fictions works are apparently a genuine and worthy accomplishment. Real literary figures actually review lists of lists of fiction works. Doesn't this fall under the rubric "There Is No Great Recession" ?

9. Certainly could be visually interesting.

"The classic 14th-century tale The Divine Comedy follows Dante as he descends through the nine circles of hell to rescue the woman he loves."

Wait, what?

Dante played by Channing Tatum

Absolutely bizarre. I don't understand Hollywood's fascination with taking established stories and destroying them. Why can't you just make a story about a dude going to hell to rescue a woman? Why do you have to besmirch Dante in the process?

Are adaptations of classic works of literature (from whatever era) better or worse quantitatively than any other source(s) for films?

Films are much more dependent on the director/script/performances/photography than the source of the narrative/structure.

It wouldn't be that hard to make a fantastic story about Orpheus if that's what they really want to do. Just leave Dante out of it. Unless Virgil is played by Ian McKellen, in which case, take my money.

A "do not enter" sign around Dante's works seems odd, if everything else is up for grabs

I think you missed my point. An adaptation of Inferno is fine. It would just be cool if was based on the Inferno instead of on the myth of Orpheus.

Next up: Moby Dick: it's about a guy in a submarine and features a giant squid; Gulliver's Travels: it's an exiting romp around the world in 80 days; Iliad: a lone Trojan soldier sets out to Italy and founds the great city of Rome. I'm chalk full of ideas.

I think you mean the Aeneid.

I see. You wish a literal adaptation. That is more of a tv mini-series. IMO, few works of literature are short or simple enough to be faithfully represented on film and not be boring or formulaic (a novella like "No Country for Old Men" is an example of a well done and remarkably faithful adaptation). That's why Hollywood likes teen and/or fantasy lit - just film the book, not much further artistic thought is required.

But most good directors and/or screenwriters will want something more than that, especially when confronted with a true work of art. A film which uses the bare bones of the "Inferno" story and expands or updates its themes could be very interesting. One update might be an expansion of the Beatrice character, and all that she represents (both as a love interest for Dante, and as some sort of ideal). There are many ways to go that might be interesting, or not.

I actually agree with you on all those points. No Country is a fine example on one end, and the Coens' very loose take on the Odyssey was fun too. I don't need a literal interpretation, but I prefer that the fundamental spirit be preserved. Having Beatrice be heriocally rescued by Dante rather than him being guided to her in heaven is just too egregiously wrongheaded for my taste.

It's called "What Dreams May Come" with Robin Williams.

That's it, I'm done with the First Amendment.

Assuming that's sarcasm, there's a small difference between calling the change stupid and denying them the right to change it. But I get it: a tentpole franchise based on a multi-volume mid-life crisis is probably a harder sell than saving poor Beatrice from the jaws of Satan and legions of undead Florentine political enemies.

As far as classics go, I think somebody should be working on adapting Xenophon's Anabasis or Education of Cyrus. Both have amazingly epic potential.

I was going to sarcastically say that it sounds like they're adapting "Dante's Inferno," the videogame where a buff Dante tears through Hell with a sword and an attitude (you gotta love the level where he rides Cerebus around killing demons!) instead of adapting the Inferno book of the Divine Comedy by Dante.

But now I'm not sure it really qualifies as sarcasm.

In this one, does Dante ride a Harley?

That would be cool.

They should just get Nick Cage and call it Ghost Rider 3.

#4. Google needs to turn the table and demand that the EU forget about Google.

Also where do I apply to have the EU forget about me?

Yeah, Google could quit the EU at the stroke of a keyboard. Why don't they, I wonder?

$5B in revenue from the UK alone in 2014. Hard to get a handle on how much the rest of the EU is (the breakout is US $21B, UK $5B, ROW $20B), but I would suspect it's at least another $10B. Giving up about a third of your revenue is tough.

Note on the minimum wage article. The minimum wage was raised in the city of Los Angeles.

But the BLS data is for the Los Angeles MSA, a very different animal that is much, much bigger than the city of Los Angeles.

Mark Perry recently published a very poor and misleading analysis of the minimum wage in Seattle that made the same mistake.

The author specifically addresses that

Canadians sound like Americans except better.

Torenberg is a good interviewer! He's kind of awkward and there were a lot of non sequiturs, but the conversation was consistently interesting.

#7 No comments on the Chinese reserves? They could be out of liquid reserves by the end of the year or shortly thereafter if there is a crisis. At least one economist already predicts reserves will fall by the entirety of Chu's estimate by year end.

@4 should be "the right to the right to be forgotten to be forgotten"

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