On strike in support of Jay Liu

Jimmy Liu has been banned: Why was Jimmy Liu (who changed his name to Jay Liu) banned? Is this because of name change? What do you think about it?

Among the responses to Do you think that Quora should have a method to protest a ban? is Kang-Lin Cheng’s:

If you want to “protest” the ban, the best thing any of us can do is to leave this site forever. A lot of people who had respect for Quora, if they live up to their word about how angry they are at Jimmy Liu’s ban, should do so if that’s what they believe.

I’m not leaving Quora quite yet. But following the precedent established in #RunOverPedestriansGate (Srikar Vallabhaneni’s answer to What are some of the most controversial answers ever written on Quora?), I am taking a two-week break from posting.

As so many did at the time: The Emperor Has No Clothes by Rass Bariaw on Rage against Quora.

It’s Quora’s rules, it’s Quora’s site. We have no stake in the company, and we have no real influence over its decision-making. (Posting to Rage against Quora is of dubious value, but I have submitted at least a post there.)

The only value we contribute to Quora the company (as opposed to Quora the Tribe, h/t I’m taking a voluntary break from Quora while I reassess my future here by Scott Welch) is our participation in Quora. Which we can chose to withhold.

Even if it’s meaningless to, even if it’s just a symbolic gesture. Per Lyonel Perabo’s answer:

He was banned because Quora is a private venture and in exchange for using it for free, we have to agree on and realize that we don’t have a say about the way the network works. […] We’re just non-paying users. Some of us have the ability to possibly bring some money to the company because of our content being featured on the platform, but that doesn’t mean that we get to have a piece of the pie. It’s a social network in a capitalistic system, that’s the way it works.

Going on a two week strike is a symbolic gesture I can live with. I don’t know that it will make a difference. It likely won’t. But I need to be able to look myself in the mirror. One of my tribe has been picked off, with no stated rationale, and a guessed-at rationale that I think is trumped.

I cannot not stand by and say it’s fine.

Do you think that Quora should have a method to protest a ban?

Quora does have a method to protest editorial action. Though its efficacy is open to question:

On strike in support of Jay Liu by Nick Nicholas on Opɯdʒɯlɯklɑr In Exile

What is the Song by Stelios Kazantzidis “Throw me in the fire so I can burn”? It might be part of the lyrics but my dad insists it’s a song. Thanks.

Not a song I know, but Googling gets me:

Πάρε φωτιά και κάψε με: Take Fire and Burn me, 1953. Lyrics: Kostas Manesis; Music: Yannis Papaioannou. Performer: Stelios Kazantzidis. stixoi.info: Πάρε φωτιά και κάψε με

Take fire and burn me, take your sweet revenge.
The way you’ve left me, best that I be ash.

I don’t want my life,
my soul loathes you.

Take knife and kill me, cut me into pieces,
so I need see no more your cunning eyes.

Make with your hands a noose, and squeeze my throat,
choke me so I’ll be free of my deep sorrow.

It’s a great song, thanks for introducing me to it. The lyrics are melodramatic, sure, but it’s got that classic, 50s perfection of laika, and is agreeably βαρύ. (“Ηeavy” literally; stern?)

What do you suck at?

Ah, a soon-to-be 100+ answers question that Quora would block as a poll question, but should not because it is community building.


When I was in high school, I went to the Victoria-wide tryouts for the student version of the Sale of the Century game show. I do believe I can find some pictorial material relating to this…

… Ah yes. The first flush of youth.

The first stage of the tryouts was a written test.

I got the top score in the room.

The second stage involved hitting a buzzer if you knew the answer to a question.

I was out first round.

Remembering events.

I’m great at remembering facts. Outstanding. Positively freaky. The human encyclopaedia.

Things that happened? I think the most frequent phrase I use to my wife is “I don’t remember.”

Which is a downer when she’s trying to reminisce with me about anything.

—Remember when we went to that lovely restaurant in the hills?

—I don’t remember.

—And when we were listening to Kenny G in the car park?

—I don’t remember.

—So what are we doing for our anniversary?

—I don’t remember.

—What do you remember?

—I don’t remember.

Visual Arts.

I know, it’s hard to believe given the quality of my pictorial contributions to Quora.

But astonishingly, I don’t get the visual arts. Poetry and music are where I’ve always been paying attention.

Why do some languages assign a gender to each noun (e.g., table is feminine in French)?

Originally Answered:

Why do Greek, Latin, French, German, Russian etc. have masculine and feminine gender for inanimate objects?

The history of Indo-European gender, like the history of any language feature, is messy. The mainstream theory is that the feminine, in fact, was originally not animate at all, but came from the abstract and collective suffix *-h₂. You may be more familiar with the Greek form of that suffix: -(i)a.

Why does gender not align nicely with animacy, let alone sex? Because of analogy, and cognitive patterning: making up classes of things, and then lumping everything in the world into one of them, by family resemblance. The mechanism for this lumping is Conceptual metaphor.

We see this more obviously in non-Indo-European languages, which have a lot more “genders”. (In fact, by the time you get to a dozen of them, there’s no point calling them genders, and we call them noun classes instead.)

The pioneering work on the kinds of cognitive categories underlying noun classes is George Lakoff’s. His acknowledged classic takes its title from the membership of one of the noun classes of Dyirbal language, an Australian Aboriginal language.

The noun classes of Dyirbal are:

  • I – most animate objects, men
  • II – women, water, fire, violence, and exceptional animals
  • III – edible fruit and vegetables
  • IV – miscellaneous (includes things not classifiable in the first three)

Lakoff’s classic was thus titled: Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things.

Mind blown, Dimitra (who A2A’d)?

Greeks’ minds will be blown be the fact that πῦρ, γυνή, καὶ θάλασσα, “fire, woman, and the sea”, have been lumped together in an Ancient Greek maxim. (It has been attributed to Aesop: Πῦρ γυνὴ καὶ θάλασσα, δυνατὰ τρία, “Fire woman and the sea, these are the three strong things.” And Menander: Θάλασσα καὶ πῦρ καὶ γυνὴ τρίτον κακόν “Sea and fire, and woman is the third evil.”)

My mind is blown (though it shouldn’t be) by the fact that Lakoff had no idea about the Greek maxim when he wrote the book.

What languages use portmanteau acronyms other than Bahasa Indonesia?

If you take the definition of acronym as using the first one or more letters of the word, Russian does them a lot, and has done since Soviet times: Gazprom = Gazovaya promyshlennost, gas industry. German does them as well: Kripo = Kriminal-polizei. These syllabic acronyms (or syllabic abbreviations) were particular favourites of totalitarian regimes. From the Wikipedia article, I see Hebrew does them as well.

If you use non-initial syllables of a word, it becomes a Portmanteau. Portmanteaux don’t get used as abbreviations in English, but the Wikipedia article lists Indonesian for portmanteau acronyms. None of the other languages listed use portmanteaux in the same way.

Why would a Church Parish record of baptisms from Wexford, Ireland in the 1690’s use umlauts over the letter “y” in names like “Murphy” and “Meyler”?

I’m not familiar with that convention, but I’m not surprised. If cursive is a bunch of squiggles, then dots help you tell the difference between, say, <in> and <m>. Same applies for ÿ: helps differentiate, for example, a final Latin <ii> (which could have been spelled <ij>) from a y.

At a guess.

Upsilon in Mediaeval Greek had a diaeresis for the same reason.

EDIT: This post Google Groups corroborates the use of <ÿ> to differentiate it from <g> in German handwriting.

What comes to your mind when someone mentions Turkey (the country)?

I am Greek.

(And Australian, but a lot more of my reactions are going to be informed by being Greek than being Australian, for obvious reasons. In fact, Gallipoli to me is more about the manuscript of Gallipoli dialect I saw in Athens, than the ANZACs. But to me, Australian history started in 1942 anyway.)

100% honesty, you say?

My first reaction on hearing Turkey:

The neighbour.

It’s how the Greek press refers to Turkey, and how the Turkish press refers to Greece. Not “the primordial enemy”, which it was up until 1990. Not “our good buddy”, because there is still too much history there. But the neighbour. Someone we know very very well. Someone we’ve had a lot of bad blood with. Someone we find unexpected common reference points with. Someone who gets under our skin so much, because they’re so much like us. And someone that we have many more songs in common with, than we do with those we claim as kin.

Other reactions:

“Turkish food is like Greek good, only good.” Best goddamn meat in my life, from a suburban kebab shop in Kadıköy.

Kemalism: Secular mainstream.

Erdoğan vs Taksim Square.

Towns we used to call our own.

Land of the moustache. Where nuances of moustache revealed political affiliation.

Booming economy, feeling pretty smug now about not joining the EU.

Deep pockets of history.

Place I need to explore more of than just Sultanahmet.

What are some facile equivalences between European countries and Asian countries?

Here’s one that isn’t mine (it’s my friend Suresh’s), but it triggered the question.

Japan is the Britain of Asia.


Based on a novel written by someone Japanese. Coincidence? I THINK NOT!

  • Rigid class system.
  • Sexual hangups, leading to strange artforms in reaction. In Japan, Bukkake and Hentai. In the UK, Carry On films and Benny Hill.

In a TV show where people get eaten alive by zombies or worse why is saying “fuck” a big deal?

American Network TV-specific, Anon. “Fuck” gets used in quite innocuous contexts in Australia. Such as Gogglebox Australia, a show showing couch potatoes yelling at Reality TV shows. (And only the Real Housewives of Melbourne say “fuck” unbleeped.) And in the States, there’s lots of profanity on HBO shows.

Walking Dead is cable too, but I don’t know enough about AMC to know why they didn’t follow Game of Thrones in profanity.

Different cultures have different taboos, different attitudes to taboo-breaking, and different consensuses around taboos. With regards to sexual profanity, there is a prudish mainstream in the US, and a libertine undercurrent. Blasphemy is (somewhat surprisingly) not a thing in the US any more, although the swearing in Deadwood is an attempt to emulate erstwhile taboo-breaking. America has evolved a whole new suite of taboos around racism (“N-word”). And so on.

It’s well known though, and a recurrent source of commentary, that the US mass media has more taboos about sex than about violence.