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Jay Lake
Date: 2008-12-09 05:37
Subject: [links] Link salad is a mind forever foraging
Security: Public
Tags:culture, funny, language, links, personal, politics
jeffsoesbe is funny in one of my comment threads

Likewise, the comment thread on my political post of yesterday is quite fascinating and thoughtful.

What Do the iPhone and Jonathan Franzen Have in Common?

Language Log on translating games — I think I understood less than half this post, but what I did grok was pretty cool. This will bear careful re-reading.

Centauri Dreams on a new textbook concerning extrasolar planets

The Edge of the American West on naval tacticis in the Pacific Theatre of WWII — Some interesting stuff there if you write political or military sf/f.

?otD: Why is a duck?

Body movement: 40 minute stationary bike ride
This morning's weigh-in: 219.4
Currently reading: The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville

Originally published at jlake.com.

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User: martyn44
Date: 2008-12-09 13:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Because it isn't a goose.
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russ: carcassonne
User: goulo
Date: 2008-12-09 14:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The "translating games" thing seems odd.

On the one hand, it seems like asking "can you translate vegetables?" What does it even mean to translate a potato into a beet, or chess into poker? It sounds like a nonsensical claim pretending to be clever, like "You can compare the temperatures of two glasses of water, but you can't compare the temperatures of two people's middle names." Yeah, so what - what does that even mean?

On the other hand, I would say that some games are "close" to each other and fairly easily translatable, if I grok what the original poster's point is. E.g. western Chess and Chinese Chess. Or various variants of poker. Or the hundreds of sowing games (Mancala etc). Some games are even exactly intertranslatable, because they are the same game simply renamed or rethemed. Etc.

Just as it's probably easier to translate, e.g., between Italian and Spanish than between Italian and Sanskrit. There are different semantic/grammatical/lexical/cultural distances between language pairs just as their are between game pairs.

From a mathematical point of view, it seems you could "explain" bridge in terms of chess or whatever, with sufficient twiddling of parameters. ("Imagine, Mr. Chess Player, that you don't have a board, and the pieces are dealt to you randomly at the start, and that you will take turns playing one of your pieces, and ...") And indeed, among experienced gamers, new games are often explained by reference to other known games. ("This is a worker placement game, like Caylus, but...")
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Kevin Roche
User: kproche
Date: 2008-12-09 16:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
AotD: Therefore, zed is a hummingbird!
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jeffsoesbe: yeff yahoo avatar
User: jeffsoesbe
Date: 2008-12-09 20:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:yeff yahoo avatar
So, a question: Oprah calls, says "Mister Lake, we're like to have you on the show to talk about Green."

I assume you'd go? What else would you and Oprah talk about?

- yeff

(this post, less funny)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-12-09 20:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What else would you and Oprah talk about?

Green! Well, that and the structure of race relations in America or some such.
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User: orbadviser
Date: 2008-12-10 10:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Why is a duck?

I actually know the answer to this based on sage wisdom from my three-year old when he explained it to me 15 years ago. It was raining outside (it hardly ever rains inside, you see), and he was standing on the couch to see out the window.

"Hey, Dusty," I said. "What's happening outside?"

"It's raining," he told me.

I decided to get clever: "Why is it raining?" I asked.

He shrugged and never even turned away from the window. "Because it's raining."

Why is it raining - because it is raining. The answer is contained within the question, and the question presupposes the answer. I realized in that moment that God was speaking to me through my son, bestowing upon me unarguable and ageless wisdom that would allow me to clearly see the destiny that lay before me.

And so, why is a duck?

The answer is, clearly...

Because a duck.
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