Would you listen to a 5-hour symphony?

I sat through the 1992 revival of Einstein on the Beach, which goes for five hours, and which is much more static (as hardcore minimalist music) than a symphony would be. I had no problem sitting through the entire thing—even though the opera creators imagined you could walk in and out as you pleased. And I was proud to give them a standing ovation at the end of it.

(The audience was much more restless in the 1992 revival than the 1984 revival, apparently. There was booing in the bed scene. The people booing did not stick around for the standing ovation.)

The six hour TV version of The Mahabharata (1989 film)? Not a problem.

I’ve enjoyed Mahler’s Third, which is an hour and three quarters; I’ve been puzzled by where the hell Brian’s Gothic was going, and its length at an hour and three quarters was not the reason why.

As long as the symphony is any good, I’m up for it. Just gimme a La-Z-Boy and a coffee, and I’m good to go.

Why isn’t Susan James active on Quora anymore?

If you go through her log, you will notice that Susan’s activity is intermittent. She posts for a few days, then is absent for months. In fact, her latest period of posting was her most protracted, and the first in which she posted on more than one topic.

Her being absent, in any case, has plenty of precedent.

Why is there a disgusting new font on Quora?

You mean, the font announced with a literal gong within Quora?

Instagram post by Quora • Feb 11, 2017 at 2:28am UTC

quora: Ringing the gong! One of our oldest traditions for product launches–this time we’re celebrating our new custom typeface [math]unicode{x1F514}unicode{x1F514}unicode{x1F514} [/math]#quora

[Why yes, Quora does use emojis on Instagram—not em-dashes, though.]

Of course this has been covered off with great erudition by Martin Silvertant: Martin Silvertant’s answer to Why is there a disgusting new font on Quora?

In conclusion, Quora has not introduced a disgusting new typeface. Rather, they are using the typeface they chose incorrectly. Quora has done amazingly by using Tiempos Text for body text, but they need some guidance in establishing a harmonious, coherent typographic system for the website.

Quora Design Team. “Guidance in establishing a harmonious, coherent typographic system for the website Sold Separately.”

What is the origin of the scientific name of the apple tree “malus”?

This has been answered already, I’ll just answer it more anecdotally.

Indo-European has two words for apple, that show up in different daughter branches:

  • *h₂ébōl shows up in Germanic (… apple), Celtic, Balto-Slavic, and probably Hittite šam(a)lu- ‘apple tree’
  • *méh₂lom shows up in Greek (Doric mālon, Attic mēlon), Latin (mālum), Albanian (mollë), and Hittite maḫla ‘apple’

This has been a puzzle for Indo-Europeanists.

  • Some Indo-Europeanists have assumed the genuine Indo-European word was *h₂ébōl, and *méh₂lom was a pre-Greek loanword.
  • Some Indo-Europeanists have assumed that Indo-European had split up into northern and southern dialects, and dialects are allowed to have different words for the same thing—without one word being necessarily more Indo-European than the other.
  • This was news to me: Proto-Indo-European phonology – Wikipedia says that some Indo-Europeanists have tried to unify the two forms as *h₂eml-:
    • *h₂eml- > *h₂ebl- > *h₂ébōl
    • *h₂eml- > *meh₂l- > *méh₂lom
  • EDIT: And add the speculation by Guus Kroonen in On the origin of Greek μῆλον, Latin mālum, Albanian mollë and Hittite šam(a)lu- ‘apple’ that *méh₂lom, which he reconstructs as *smh₂l, is related to proto-Kartvelian (as in Georgian) *msxal- ‘pear’.

So much for apple. What’s the story with mălus ‘evil’?

As others have pointed out, the vowel in malus is short; so whatever it’s derived from, it’s not going to be derived from *méh₂lom (where the laryngeal h₂ serves to lengthen the preceding vowel).

malus – Wiktionary

From Proto-Italic, related to Oscan mallom and mallud (“bad”). Originally associated with Ancient Greek μέλας (mélas, “black, dark”), but support for this is waning. Perhaps from the same Proto-Indo-European root as Avestan [math]unicode{x10B28}unicode{x10B00}unicode{x10B0C}unicode{x10B2D}unicode{x10B0C}unicode{x10B0C}unicode{x10B00}[/math] (mairiia, “treacherous”).

Which means… we don’t know. All we do know is, it is indeed a coincidence. Although yes, it’s a coincidence mediaeval theologians have had a field day with. In fact, it’s likely the reason why Westerners assume the forbidden fruit was an apple: Forbidden fruit. De ligno autem scientiae boni et mali “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil/apples”. Jewish tradition instead pointed to the fig, the grape, or wheat.

What is said at Greek funerals?

Constantinos Kalampokis’ answer to What is said at Greek funerals? covers everything that happens at a funeral; but I’m assuming the question is particularly after what the condolence formula is.

Both Greek and Turkish are notorious in linguistics for having a formulaic expression for just about every occasion; it’s part of good social behaviour that you’re expected to come up with the right formula for the right occasion. Hence the proverbial expression for someone tactless: Πάρ’ τονα στο γάμο σου να σου πει «και του χρόνου», “Take this guy to your wedding, and he’ll wish you ‘Many Happy Returns!’”

In funerals, the formulaic expression is ζωή σε λόγου σας “life to you” (where λόγου σας “your word” is an old circumlocution for “you”, cf. “your lordship”). https://www.translatum.gr/forum/… offers the alternatives ζωή σε σας “life to you”, and να ζήσετε/ζείτε να τον/τη θυμάστε “may you live/keep living, so that you can keep remembering him/her” (i.e. may his/her memory survive in you).

Τα συλλυπητήριά μου “my condolences” is a more formal, stiff expression; I doubt you’d use it with friends. Κουράγιο “(have) courage!” is also heard, to acknowledge the hardship of family members.

I have a lot of time for the expression Να είναι ελαφρύ το χώμα που θα τον σκεπάσει “may the soil that covers him be light”. But that’s not used at funerals, it’s a valediction typically used for famous people.

Is Quora, like high school, a popularity contest?

I see an answer here from 2010. Plus ça change, plus ça reste la même chose.

Yes. In fact, recent UX changes—suppressing upvote counts in the feed, suppressing visibility of Most Viewed Writer—are (presumably) an attempt to mitigate this.

Yes, people upvote answers by very popular Quora users, regardless of whether they are any good or not. Yes, people upvote answers that show up from popular users in their feed, without scrutinising whether someone else came up with a better answer. Yes, there is a widespread perception of cliquishness and high school behaviour among Quora writers—and if you google, you’ll see that perception was in place among writers about Quora in tech journals, as far back as 2010 and 2011, even before the Quill.

*shrug* Like I say. Quora, seven years on, is making a stab at mitigating that.

In your opinion, do most people who think they are too smart to get arrested end up getting away with their crimes?

I will instead volunteer Lt. Columbo’s opinion. From the pilot episode.

You’re probably right. He sounds just too clever for us. What I mean is, you know, cops, we’re not the brightest guys in the world. Of course, we got one thing going for us: we’re professionals. I mean, you take our friend here, the murderer. He’s very smart, but he’s an amateur. I mean, he’s got just one time to learn. Just one. And with us, well, with us, it’s – it’s a business. You see, we do this a hundred times a year. I’ll tell ya, Doc. That’s a lot of practice. Prescription: Murder (TV Movie 1968)

(They hadn’t quite worked out the lack of grooming in the pilot episode.)

How can Quora deal with false reports?

By having human beings review reports before acting on them.

Human beings that are prepared to evaluate the context of a report.

Not going to happen of course.

Absent dealing with any false reports at the first tier of moderation, we are left with using Appeal, escalating to a second tier of moderation. (There clearly is one, since sanctions do get rescinded.)

See: [My italics]

Tatiana Estévez’s answer to If one sees a clear BNBR contravention by one Quora user on another (but is not personally involved) should one report it?

Expecting complete strangers to understand when telling someone to ‘f-off’ is an insult or friendly banter doesn’t make sense on a site as big as this. Expecting moderators to read a long thread and try to judge the tone is not reasonable, judging sarcasm online is notoriously difficult without context.

Marc Bodnick’s answer to Will Quora Moderation explain why a particular user was banned?

  • Our moderation process emphasizes rule-based decisions that are fair and consistent. Every moderation decision on the site must be based on an existing policy. All we care about are policies; we don’t make decisions based on the substantive nature of the content that a user has published.

And for claims of false reporting, see: