Friday, March 25, 2011

Prosaic first post

A favorite quote of mine is "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes."  Attributed to Mark Twain, though I see Wikiquote says "Twain scholars agree that it sounds like something he would say, but they have been unable to find the actual quote in his writing."  Quote attributions are like that: them as has, gets.

The thing is, it doesn't just work for history.  It [works] for pretty much everything — if you're familiar enough with it to recognize the rhyming scheme.  For example, I've enough smattering of past and present physics to recognize when science fiction has an especially good, or bad, sense of its rhyming scheme.  Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep has the most elegantly rhymed fictional physics I've ever encountered; and I've read SFF authors with no ear for physics at all, though I'll not name names.  On the non-fiction side of the same effect, I've long sensed that Albert Einstein's dissatisfaction with quantum mechanics was, at its most primordial, dislike of its rhyme (not to in any way disparage his more specific metaphysical writings on the subject).

So I gradually accumulate evidence, fodder for my intuition, and over years and even decades my intuition slowly learns to recognize rhymes, and starts answering me back with insights — into the rhyming structure of the various subjects of study, hence the blog title.  And the insights more or less gather dust, in my files or even just in my head.  I'm starting a blog to put those insights out in the open where, with luck, maybe one way or another some will be useful to someone besides me.  (If folks find them laughable, well, laughter is good exercise, so that's useful too.)

What have I been studying, that I can blog about?  Well, there's linguistics; both programming languages (within which is my academic expertise), natural and constructed languages, and connections between all three.  Mathematical physics.  A dash of magic.  Memetics, with both religion and science as subs under it.  Politics and economics.  And whatever else I'm forgetting (or haven't thought of yet).

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