Links for October 13, 2015

Human Chess

“Let The Syrians Settle Detroit,” an op-ed for The New York Times suggested last month. The underlying logic is sound: the city’s population has plummeted, there is already a strong Muslim community in Michigan, and refugees very often exhibit strong entrepreneurial tendencies. On the other hand, if Detroit’s only problem was population, then other people would already be moving back to fill that city’s wide-open economic niches.... Worse, though, Detroit was not carefully moth-balled and set aside with packing tape for future generations simply to move in and reclaim it. It’s not a turn-key urban fantasy lying in wait for someone to come back, flip a switch, and turn the lights—and the police, and the fire departments, and the healthcare—back on.... Randomly settling 50,000 Syrian refugees there straight from a war zone would mean depositing people in a condition of notoriously rapid urban decline, without any real cultural or economic context in which to orient themselves.


A Linguist Explains the Grammar of Shipping

The next principle that the brilliant Cara DiGirolamo has identified for us is Orthographic Transparency, because English spelling is wtf.... For example, Harry/Ginny both have the same number of consonants at the beginning, so Onset Conservation can’t tell us whether to pick Hinny or Garry. But Hinny wins because we’d automatically pronounce Garry with a hard g despite the fact that Ginny has a soft g. With a different Harry, Harry Styles/Louis Tomlinson, we face a choice between Larry and Houis for the same reason, but this time it’s Houis that’s weird to pronounce, so Larry wins. (Larry Stylinson is a rare example of a double-barrelled ship name, where both first and last names combine well with each other so fans opt to use them both together.)


Font Fractalism – Letters in letters in letters in letters.