7 Quick Takes (4/13/12)

7 Quick Takes (4/13/12) April 13, 2012

— 1 —

I realize I started experimenting with cooking and giving up gnosticism just in time (or possibly too late!).  You see, I went out with friends to see Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado and when Katisha opened a song with:

Alone, and yet alive! Oh, sepulchre!
My soul is still my body’s prisoner!

My friends leaned across the seats to nudge me and say, “Look, she’s a dualist, like you!”

Oh dear.


— 2 —

Our discussion of determinism a few weeks ago petered out unsatisfyingly, but that’s ok, because this Dinosaur Comic is really the last word on the question:

— 3 —

Via Patheos blogger The Crescat in the Catholic Portal comes the answer to a question I’ve had ever since the big overhaul of the English-language Roman Missal: there does appear to be an ASL version of the Mass in development!

Watching the interpreter in my local parish, I noticed he was usually signing with the syntax of spoken English, so I assumed there wasn’t a full translation.


— 4 —

The video below should give you a pretty decent idea about the difference between the syntax of real ASL and what’s sometimes called Simple Signed English (SEE) or English on the hands.  Ally is signing a translation of the song in the full screen and translating word-by-word in the inset screen.


— 5 —

Sign language is a full language that encodes meaning spatially, instead of aurally.  Because I’m such a math nerd, I really geek out about cool uses of spatial reasoning.  Needless to say, I was delighted to see the NYT‘s visualization of orchestral conductors.


— 6 —

I may have mentioned how much I’ve enjoyed the “Building a Search Engine” programming class I’ve been taking from Udacity.  Registration is open now for their next cycle of classes (the most basic of which requires no previous programming experience).  I really recommend them and I’m glad to answer any specific questions in the comments.


— 7 —

That wraps up the quick takes for this week. I’ve got an action packed weekend ahead of me. I’m heading over to Catholic University of America to see a symposium on “Creation and Modern Science” which will include Edward Feser (whose book The Last Superstition, I’ve blogged about previously). And later that day: roller derby.


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • That dinosaur comic was awesome!

  • Are you really this smart? Every time I read your blog I can’t get over the vocab. Obviously, the church needs you. You were given these brains for a reason.

  • Charles

    Question about the programming class. I am already a computer programmer with many years experience, etc, etc… My question is do you think that the CS101 class would be ok for an intelligent 4th grader? My son has shown interrest in computer programming and I’ve been researching options to introduce it to him… obviously he would have a professional to help with anything that isnt covered in the class.

    • leahlibresco

      I think so. Take it slow and don’t feel pressured to keep up with deadlines, but I think it might be a great way to understand how we talk to computers. There’s no advanced math in the class.

      • Charles

        I’ll let you know how it turns out!

  • Alex Knapp

    Wait…. you’re a dualist?

  • Maiki

    I think the most interesting difference I saw in the girl signing the two versions of the song was that she was a lot more free with her facial expressions in ASL, since there is no connection to spoken words. In SEE, it seems like she was mouthing the words (maybe to keep track of where she was in the sentence), which made her facial expressions harder to read.

    • leahlibresco

      Yup! Also, in ASL, facial expressions inflect some signs (just like modulating your voice does) and may even be intrinsically part of the sign. When sign was being formalized, hearing people tried to get the Deaf to stop using their faces, because they thought it looked too exaggerated, which is roughly the equivalent of telling people they’re too emotional whenever they depart from a strict monotone.

  • DomLawton

    Hold up, you’re opposed to football on injury-based grounds, but you’re down with roller derby?

    • deiseach

      Even more surprising, roller derby is still going? I had thought it was a phenomenon of the 70s, like disco, and had faded with the other fads of the time.

      So apparently not, then, unless this is a re-invention of the – is it a sport?

    • leahlibresco

      Concussions and brain damage =/= twisted ankles and jammed fingers

      More expansively: these are some serious injuries in roller derby, but they tend to be to the limbs, not the head. And the game is not built around repeated blows to the head, nor has there been an epidemic of traumatic brain injury or a cover-up of said epidemic. I’m all right with a certain level of physical risk, but not sports that have heavy prevalence of dementia baked in.

      • keddaw

        Best way to reduce brain injuries in football (long term) in to remove all padding.

        Counter-intuitive, but most of the best ideas to seemingly intractable problems tend to be – likewise, remove gloves from boxing.

      • DomLawton

        That’s a fair distinction, I suppose. Though as a musician, I’d probably be more worried about running a relatively high risk of finger, wrist, or arm injury than a lower risk of head injury. (I need those hands!)

  • Joe

    Is rollar derby an actual sport or is it like pro-wrestling? Either way Leah you should challenge Feser and the Dominicans to a few rounds around the ring.

  • Joe

    What happened?? I like the old formate better!!!

    • leahlibresco

      Sitewide change this weekend. There are advantages and disadvantages, but I’m quite glad we’ve finally OT some integration across the atheism portal. We were awfully diconnected before and I’m hoping for more crosstalk.

      • I miss the comments on the About page and the three-tier blogroll. LAME.