Why is there no Unicode Italic H?

Because it was already created elsewhere, as U+210E PLANCK CONSTANT ℎ. Unicode will not differentiate between the symbol for the Planck Constant, and a mathematical italicised lowercase h (which is what the Planck Constant is).

Every character has a story #20: U+210e (PLANCK CONSTANT)

Why do we have to say hello or goodbye? Is not it a huge waste of time and effort?

I’m generalising this to: what is the purpose of the phatic function of language—of which hello and goodbye are canonical examples.

Phatic expression

In linguistics, a phatic expression /ˈfætᵻk/ is communication which serves a social function such as small talk and social pleasantries that don’t seek or offer any information of value. For example, greetings such as “hello” and “how are you?” are phatic expressions.

The utterance of a phatic expression is a kind of speech act. According to Malinowski, even such apparently “purposeless” communication as polite small talk, like “how are you?” or “have a nice day,” even though its content may be trivial or irrelevant to the situation, performs the important function of establishing, maintaining, and managing bonds of sociality between participants.

Oh, and btw:

Besides speech, in the digital world, phatic expression can also cover digital interactions. For example, liking someone’s social media post can communicate social approval and as a consequence build rapport.

You say hello, for the same underlying reason you Like (or Upvote).

We use phatic expressions, because we don’t speak just to convey information. We speak to be sociable. In fact, without being sociable to others, we may not get to the point to conveying information to them at all.

What will happen to Quorans if Quora shuts down and/or just stops in the future? Is it made to last forever? If not, what will happen to our answers? Is there anything that Quora can do to prevent this and save all of our work?

Ah, OP.

The core lesson of life, which I rebelled against at 20 and acquiesced to at 40, is that all that we do, and all that we are, and all that we love shall one day be dust.

The core lesson of Silicon Valley is that, without a clear plan to profitability or even not-for-profit sustainability, all the online services that you do and are and love shall be dust, a hell of a lot sooner than you think.

My profile says I love Quorans, and I hate Quora Inc. My main reason for the latter is the ongoing bumbling of UI and knowledge management and moderation.

The subsidiary reason is what my One True Quora Master Scott Welch and I mutter darkly to each other, in our monthly meetings of the Insurgency. With no discernible leadership or roadmap, I’d be rather pleasantly surprised if Quora is around in five years’ time.

Quora is not made to last forever. It is not a government agency, it is a private company. And as private companies go, it is not made to last 100 years.

Is there anything Quora can do to prevent this fate? Yes, have a completely different structure and a real business plan. And the time to do that, from my uninformed external perspective, was several years ago, when they last went cap in hand to the venture capitalists who are paying for our daily salon.

You can thank me for my cold shower of Silicon Valley Venture Economics 101 later.

What shall we do in the fact of this prospect, OP?

  • Bookmark Brian Bi’s answer to When, and how, will I be able to download all of the Quora content I have produced, like the Facebook and Twitter feed export options? If you can’t run Python on your computer, get in touch with someone who can. Archive your answers, and archive them periodically (and incrementally, lest the ScrapingBot be roused into rampage). You will lose the comments, but then again, Quora’s notion of copyright is that you have no right to archive others’ comments anyway.
  • If there are people whose company you cherish, get their contact details now, through more sustainable avenues. Facebook is one. Email is another. And find ways to stay in touch with them.
    • I’m anticipating Quora In Exile groups on Facebook. I’m anticipating lots of small Quora In Exile groups; not all 80 million of us (or whatever the inflated user count is) actually want to hang out in the one place.
  • If you have been writing, find other venues to write. Blogs still exist, even if they aren’t as cool and now as they used to be. (I’ll most likely be reviving Ἡλληνιστεύκοντος and opɯdʒɯlɯklɑr, my two defunct blogs.) Other Q&A sites exist, though they don’t have the balance of seriousness and sociability that Quora has; your choices are Reddit and StackExchange.
    • As Jordan Yates drolly put it, Grindr is a more plausible alternative to Quora than Yahoo Answers is.
  • If you have been learning, find other venues to learn. They won’t be as wide-ranging and sociable, so you will truly need to hone in on core topics you’re interested in. If Wikipedia’s around (and that’s likelier), reacquaint yourself with it. Even if you can’t stand to write on the very snippy StackExchange, you can probably get a lot out of reading it.
  • We’ll all get our lives back. Let’s just make sure we don’t lose our thirst for knowledge in the process.

What is your favorite charity, and why?

A2A McKayla.

McKayla, I squirm under this question. You and Jeremy are the two people that, when you started following me, I thought “… I should be a better person”.

I’m not a better person in the past three months. But I did think I should be, for a moment.

I’ve given a monthly tithe to two charities, because they both accosted me at the train station, because I’d finally started earning an actual salary, and because I knew the causes and knew them to be just. And because secular, apathetic, and big-government though I am, I reflected that, now that I had money, a tithe was a reasonable thing for me to give back.

One charity got overly aggressive with cold calling me to increase my tithe, so they’re out. Come to think of, I now remember there was an added reason why that charity got my initial tithe: the accosters were two young blonde Swedish twins, completing each others’ sentences.

No I am not making this up.

No I am not above that kind of thing. Neither, it would seem, was the charity.

Shame, because it is a charity close to my libertarian heart. Amnesty International.

The other charity has had me hooked for well over a decade. Doctors Without Borders. To heal the sick and the wounded where humanity is at its lowest ebb. That is a truly noble thing. That is Tikkun olam.

(What’s that? “Repairing the world” is only the liberal Jewish interpretation of the phrase, and the Orthodox interpretation is “eliminating idolatry”? That’s… *shrug*.)

What is the main purpose of Christianity?

… Not one aggressively secular, historically informed answer to the question? Really? OP is clearly looking for one:

Some religions made it a main cause to conquer countries i.e. Islam, others’ was to unite religions i.e. Sikhism.

I’m not contradicting the other answers, but there is a place for this answer too. If any of you as Christians do not wish to be scandalised by a secular perspective, well, please stop reading now.

The purpose behind the Historical Jesus’ preaching, so far as secular scholars can discern (and Historical Jesus research is notoriously slippery) was either apocalyptical (the majority view), or a commensal egalitarianism (Crossan’s view). Either to prepare Jews for the end days and the return of the Messiah; or to subvert the power structures of Jewish life with a community of embryonic socialism.

I like the latter narrative, but it seems to have fallen back out of fashion now.

The purpose of Jewish Christianity was to keep the Historical Jesus’ vision going, within the framework of Judaism.

The purpose of Pauline Christianity, and all the other shards of practice that emerged away from Jerusalem over the next century, seems to have been more radical still (leading to its rupture with Judaism), but also much less coherent. Whatever their theologies (and there were many), a common social imperative was offering support and succour to the Roman underclass.

The purpose of Imperial Christianity was to harness the emerging religion to the cause of unifying the empire. As civic institutions decayed, the emperors noticed that the hierarchy developed around the Christian church could fill in many of the functions that the civil service and noble benefactors no longer could—including, but certainly no longer restricted to, offering support and succour to the Roman underclass.

Is it possible to invent a word which would describe rule by the loudest?

Not δυνατότερο. One, because that’s Modern Greek, not Ancient; Two, because Modern Greek doesn’t have a distinct word for “loud”, it just uses the word for “strong”, dynatos. (In fact the OP’s form is “stronger, louder”.)

Actually looking at Woodhouse’s English-Ancient Greek Dictionary, Ancient Greek isn’t much better. The words given for “loud” are literally: big, sharp, clear-sounding, upright, bitter, piercing, over-toned, shining, noisy, roaring (of waves), sonorous. They’re mostly ambiguous, which disqualifies them for me.

Gegōnocracy, “rule of the sonorous” is the least ambiguous as a word, but it would end up ambiguous in English with gegonocracy “rule of facts (what has happened)”; in fact, I wasn’t familiar with the adjective gegōnos.

If I had to pick one, I’d go with rhothiocracy, “rule of those roaring like waves”. I don’t love it, it’s not actually that commonly used of people. But Aristophanes did use it to refer to popular acclamation (albeit in a mariner context): “raise loud waves of applause in his favour this day” (Knights 546)

My preference would be to go with shouting as the root notion here, certainly out-shouting your opposition: “Rule of Shouting”. Boo-cracy (< bo-ē) is ambiguous with the Rule of Oxen (< bo-os), though that may be a feature and not a bug. (EDIT, h/t John Gragson: maybe instead Boēto-cracy “Rule of the Shouty”.)

Craugo-cracy (< krazō, kraugazō) works best for me, and a kraugē is typically an angry, not a joyful shout.

In what ways are you racist?

Sicut alicubi dixit medicus bonus Habibus Magnus: Confiteor.

[As the good doctor Habib the Great has put it elsewhere: “I Confess”]

[Hey, it’s not my fault Habib chose to quote the Catholic Mass in Latin.]

You know, Habib le toubib, I’ve been expecting a question like this for maybe a month or two. Since I started interacting non-trivially with both yourself and your brother from another mother, Jeremy Markeith Thompson.

[Is that an instance of racism? I suspect that would be overusing the term, but you tell me.]

It’s been an interesting thread to see, with people lining up to admit that they are all too human—and on occasion, that they are overcompensating and rejecting their ingroup instead of their outgroup.

Riaan Engelbrecht, to my exasperation, has actually summarised quite well what I was about to say here, in his comment to the alicubi answer:

You nailed it, Habib. My emotions are rarely politically correct (warning for the Andrew Weill lightening bolt to strike…).

However, you can train your mind to teach your mouth to shut up long enough to be nice, be reasonable. Sometimes, during this short respite, I have been able to stop and think. Putting myself in the other person’s shoes emotionally has taught me that there is another side to the story.

I have initial emotional reactions that count as prejudice. I am aware of them, and I keep my goddamn mouth shut when I do become aware of them, because not being judgemental is a core part of who I seek to be.

The emotional reactions are, for the most part, fear of the unfamiliar. They are real, and they dissipate soon enough—as I become more familiar.

When I first arrived back in Australia (age 12), I stared at the 7–11 store owner next door, who was Korean. First time I’d seen an Asian; Tasmania was quite whitebread, and so was Crete. If you stare at Asians in Australia though, you’re not going to get anything else done in your day: they have similar numbers to Blacks in the US. Similarly, I used to stare at Somalis when they first started becoming part of the Australian fabric a decade ago. I don’t stare as much now, because they are becoming more familiar.

There’ll be a little bit of media feeding into my fears. I know I was somewhat anxious when accosted by a black panhandler in Memphis, or walked past groups of drunk Aboriginal young men in Darwin. But I don’t know that I’d be much more comfortable with drunk white young men, or white panhandlers.

(And I did end up making an attempt at banter with the panhandler, at least—earning me a “Where y’all from? Australia? Love that place! Crocodile Hunter! Dollar, please.”)

The primordial Other I was brought up to define myself against, that I catch myself fearing the most, is Turks for Greece, and Aboriginals for Australia. I’ve felt awkward when introduced to Aboriginals in Australia; I’ve kept my mouth shut, and soon enough ended up in friendly discussion with them. By contrast, I was positively giddy on my playdate with a Turkish guy a couple of weeks ago (and Quora truly helped me with that in advance)—which is progress against what I would have felt like 30 years ago. But yeah, there’s been a little bit of work needed for me to get over any blockers.

The only other thing I can think of is that I suspect I don’t find non-Caucasians physically attractive in the same proportions that I do Caucasians. That’s explicable as a familiarity thing: I don’t particularly go for blondes either—though for some reason, redheads fascinate me. But the list of non-Caucasians I do find physically attractive, I hasten to add, is certainly non-zero.

Jeremy, you can ask me specifics later… 🙂

In languages with formal/informal pronouns, do people explicitly tell you to switch pronouns?

Modern Greek speakers tend to squirm when addressed in the politeness plural, unless they are deliberately being high and mighty. The politeness plural connotes negative, not positive politeness to them, and emphasises social distance. Greeks don’t like social distance, they like being friendly and in your face. The exception these days would be officialdom and other explicit hierarchies, and even there, I’m stretched to think how much of that survives. I suspect it survives more in the Church.

As a diasporan, I approach new acquaintances in Greece online, using the politeness plural a fair bit. They will put up with it in the first exchange, and no longer. The explicit signal to cut it out, if you persist, is στον ενικό, είπαμε. “I told you: singular!”

Can you post the Villines Tiers activity metric of the Quora users you follow?

{“Tier 1, Lurkers”:0,

“Tier 2, Occasional Users”:44,

“Tier 3, Regular Users”:27,

“Tier 4, Serious Users”:157,

“Tier 5, Popular Users”:45,

“Tier 6, Superstars”:4}

So: I mostly follow “serious users” (like myself: 20–1000 followers). I follow a few “popular users” (1k–10k followers). And I follow very few “superstars”:

Jordan and Sam will be relieved to know they have only just hit the Superstar threshold; and Judith is sadly inactive.