What is so controversial about Ivanka Trump joining Donald Trump for the meeting with Shinzo Abe? Is it really that bad to bring your daughter when talking to foreign diplomats and people of power?

Is it really that bad to bring your daughter when talking to foreign diplomats and people of power?

Why stop there? Why not bring the in-laws? And your cousin Vinny, who just loves sushi?

Is it really that good to bring your daughter along? What are her qualifications for being there? What is the reason for bringing her instead of a seasoned diplomat? And what perceptions does it raise about your judgement, be she qualified or no? Claire Underwood was not intended as a blueprint for US governance.

The Donald may or may not work out why established politics has put in the ringfences it has. The Donald’s supporters ditto.

But yes, there is a very good reason why nepotism is considered a bad thing. Over and above the lack of security clearance. And there’s a very good reason why conflicts of interest are meant to be both avoided, and to be seen to be avoided. Presidents get a salary precisely to avoid that perception.

It’s this little thing called corruption. You know. The kind of thing that has been happening a little less blatantly in DC all these years. The kind of thing Trump was voted in to drain the swamp of, ostensibly.

Actually, US politics stopped being fun for me for a decade now, so I’m surprised I’m even wading in here. But though I am a staunch republican [Australian definition], I really must defend the dignity of the monarchy against my confrere Michael Masiello (who has wisely turned off comments on Trump answers).

That is not what constitutional monarchs do. That’s not even what absolute monarchs do, really.

That’s what banana republics do.

What are your most controversial criteria when looking for a romantic partner?

Well, this one has worked out well for me. More or less. 🙂


The coupling of Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing is the coupling that’s brought me to tears. To me, that’s the marriage of true minds.

What are the main differences between natural languages and Lojban?

  • Explicit predicate structure of arguments. Which throws natural language notions of case out the window (although prepositions are included as well): it really is a matter of argument #1, argument #2, rather than accusative, dative, etc.
  • Very explicit, computer-parsable syntax, with spoken brackets for syntactic structures.
  • Logical, rather than natural language, notions of negation. (Again, more natural representations are included alongside it.)
  • Berserk allomorphy in compounding, and no distinction between derivational morphology and compounding.
  • Differentiations in determiners that are also very logicish and independent of definiteness.
  • No substantial noun/verb distinction (the terms are avoided in Lojban); a noun is just a verb with a determiner, and thus can have tense or mood the same as a verb.
  • Locative as well as temporal tense and aspect, and explicit Vendlerian categories of aktionsart.

Is saying that a whole race and gender should go fuck themselves racist and sexist?


I’m going to regret this. I’m so, so going to regret this.

I’ve recently muted Erica. Realising, after a year, that I have not found one of her posts enlightening or informative.

That’s my choice. Just as it’s her choice to snap back at commenters for telling her how to think, or for trying to impose their male-white-cis-het sense of decorum on her. She has her groove, I have mine.

Now. Tessa Norris nails it in the first para. The useful definition of racism and sexism is not prejudice, it is prejudice plus hegemony. So by a socially useful definition, it is not racist or sexist.

It is of course prejudiced. And proudly so.

But, for those who exercise reactive prejudice as a self-identified minority? Even if they’re just “venting”?

(The deplorables are deplorable because they, too, are “venting”.)

All I can say is: It’s worse than a crime; it’s a mistake.

Is “Ebonics” a sprachbund?

Vote #1 Shuochen Huang (黄硕琛): Shuochen Huang (黄硕琛)’s answer to Is “Ebonics” a sprachbund?

Thank you for the details, OP, which I will reproduce.

Wikipedia defines Ebonics as ” the language of all people descended from enslaved Black Africans, particularly in West Africa, the Caribbean, and North America”. That includes AAVE, Bozal and any number of creoles, be they derived from Indo-European languages or not. Since the peculiarities of African-American English have had (more dull, admittedly) names before, this understanding of the word seems to make more sense than the one I encounter, “BAE if you want to raise a stink about it”.

The definition is news to be, I assumed Ebonics was only AAVE (African-American Vernacular English), and was not extended to creoles. That’s certainly how the term originated.

Even under that definition, that would not make Ebonics a Sprachbund, just a cover term for a number of genetically (?) related lects. For there to be a Sprachbund, there would have to be ongoing contact and structural coalescence between them. The opposite is the case, as Shuochen points out.

Why is English one of the official languages of India?

Writing this so that lots of other people can correct me. And because I keep passing on Mehrdad’s A2As. 🙂

English is neither the official language of UK, US or Australia.

Indeed. The notion of an official language seems to have been ignored in the Anglosphere, simply because they took it as given that the language of the King was the language of government and the public sphere. They did not have any white minorities to take seriously as rivals, and they ignored any non-white minorities.

The exception of course is Canada—hence Official bilingualism in Canada. German was huge in the US back in the day, though the claims that it narrowly missed out on the vote to become an official language are exaggerations: German Almost Became Official Language.

So much for the white Dominions. What about India?

During the Indian Raj, of course, English was an official language, being the colonialists’ language. So why was it kept after 1950?

Languages with official status in India – Wikipedia

During the British Raj, English was used for purposes at the federal level. The Indian constitution adopted in 1950 envisaged that Hindi would be gradually phased in to replace English over a fifteen-year period, but gave Parliament the power to, by law, provide for the continued use of English even thereafter. Plans to make Hindi the sole official language of the Republic met with resistance in some parts of the country. Hindi continues to be used today, in combination with other (at the central level and in some states) State official languages at the state level.

So, it was envisaged that English would be phased out gradually. It hasn’t been, partly because Hindi is not the only indigenous language, and there is resistance from the states. And partly, I assume, because the Indian intelligentsia and middle class are pretty happy about being part of the Anglosphere—as a means to an end.

Let’s get some actual Indians answering this, shall we?

Why do we use number 5, in some Greek words: “You left me in 5 streets or in 5 winds”, “You are 5 (times?) orphan”, “5 t. beautiful”?

Vote #1 David Caune. Excellent and wide-ranging answer. David Caune’s answer to Why do we use number 5, in some Greek words: “You left me in 5 streets or in 5 winds”, “You are 5 (times?) orphan”, “5 t. beautiful”?

I’ll add some Greek-specific details.

Modern Greek uses a few numbers to mean “lots”; they include:

Why those numbers? Why not others? That’s a tough one, and clearly different cultures have different predilections (9 is big in English, but not Greek). But I suspect 5 and 7 being primes has something to do with it. (And 14 eyes are what 7 people have.)

Vote #1 David Caune.

Who is your favorite 20th century composer and why?

First, thanks to Victoria Weaver for her assembled works of Glass, which I will be working through.

Now, if I were a horrible human being, I would answer this question with something like this:

MAHLER!!! Because he’s technically 20th century!!! In your FACE, Victoria! WAKEY-WAKEY!!!

Ahem. But I am not a horrible human being. And really, after one post by Victoria saying that Mahler was an ideal soporific, isn’t it about time I got over it?

Well, no, it isn’t, because it amuses me. But, to the question at hand.

It’s hard; I don’t do preferences. My shortlist includes Mahler and Shostakovich first up (nyah nyah), Stravinsky, Reich, and a feeling that I have not heard enough Britten or Berg.

I’ll go with John Adams though. And 20th century John Adams; none of his more recent, post–post-minimalist stuff has grabbed me.

Early Adams: Very light minimalism, but with the best of minimalism’s drive and energy. Middle Adams: post-minimalist, elegaic and subtle.

A selection:

Harmonielehre: Adams doing Mahler.

Grand Pianola Music, movt 2: Where he really is taking the piss.

Nixon in China: where I first fell in love

Short Ride in a Fast Machine: started as anxiety about being driven in his ex-wife’s sports car. Has somehow ended up as the music of the spheres.

Chamber Symphony 3: Road Runner: Post-minimalist, frantic, and lots of Carl Stalling.

Volin Concerto: beautiful, enigmatic


Where can I access full texts read in polytonic attic Greek?

OP has clarified that he was after Audio Books in Attic. (But if they’re Audio Books, OP, polytonic is irrelevant: that’s an orthography thing,)

podium-arts.com . By our very own Ioannis Stratakis. Best reconstructed Greek recordings bar none.