My wife has just returned from Peru, and brought back a list of Peruvian names from the newspapers. Odd spellings for foreign names are muy de onda (very hip).






Airon (Aaron?)





Jeylo (J. Lo)

Jhunior Brayan


Itan (Ethan?)

Johan Jonathán










Here’s a good example of why the world needs my (upcoming) India Construction Kit. At left is a picture from a new expansion for The Sims 4.


What the fuck is that girl wearing?

It looks like it’s supposed to be a sari, but it looks crazy. Compare to the actual sari to the right.

  • You don’t tie a sari with a big bow. In fact the cloth is about a yard wide; there’s no part of it that could be made into such a thin bow.
  • The part of the sari that comes down over the chest doesn’t go into a knot; it’s draped gracefully around the body.
  • The part that goes over the shoulder (the pallu) hangs down behind the back— you should be able to see it behind her.
  • It looks like the girl is wearing a (one-sleeved??) qipao. You wear a sari over a bodice and pettiskirt. It doesn’t have to be as revealing as the woman at right, but you’re supposed to see some midriff.
  • You can certainly have a monochrome sari, but patterns are much more popular. It’s a weird choice to have a pattern only on the undergarment.
  • The most common style is to wrap the sari over the left shoulder.

It’s so bad that one may wonder if it’s supposed to be something else, like a dupatta (scarf) and skirt.  A shalwar kameez can look like the yellow dress and you can wear a dupatta over it, but…

  • It’s not normally that tight.
  • You don’t wear a skirt over it, you wear trousers under it. (Technically, as part of it: that’s the shalwar.)
  • That knot and bow: No.
  • Anyway, the dupatta would normally be draped over both shoulders.

(If you’re wondering by now if the dress is even supposed to be Indian, note that she’s got a bindi.)

It’s possible that the outfit is imitating something I don’t know about. But it seems more likely that somebody attempted a sari without really knowing how one works. Admittedly, it’s hard to figure out even from pictures, which is why I provide diagrams in the book.


I saw this on Twitter, and decided that this was an important phrase to learn in Chinese:



wǎng-shàng xūnǐ jiāoxīn bù yí

web-above virtual entrust not should

You should not make virtual commitments online.


While we’re at it, my Overwatch pals have been quoting D.Va’s comments in Korean, so let’s look at those in more detail.


a̠nɲjʌ̹ŋ ɦa̠sʰe̞jo

Annyeong haseyo!

peace you.have

Do you have peace? = How are you?

That first word is a borrowing from Chinese 安寧— Mandarin ānníng ‘peace, tranquility’. You will undoubtedly recognize the first character from 西安 Xī’ān, the ancient capital of China; also Heian, the ancient name for Kyoto. is very informal and also from the future, so she just says Annyeong!



Kamsa hamnida!

thanks have.assertive

I am thankful! = Thank you!

Again, the first word is a borrowing: 感謝 gǎnxiè ‘gratitude’; the common way to say “Thank you” in Mandarin— which you can hear Mei say in Overwatch— is 謝謝 xièxiè.

And again, D.Va informally says just Kamsa!

Mei’s “Hello” is 你好 Nǐhǎo, literally “you good?”


One thing I learned at the gym: ponytails don’t work as video game animators think they do.

Press F at just the right moment to avoid gruesome death

Press F at the right moment to avoid gruesome death

In video games, ponytails like Lara’s mostly bounce up and down. Playing games before, it looked all right to me. (You can get an idea of how Lara’s hair behaves from this video. It may not be immediately obvious, as her hair is also affected by the wind, and movements of her head.)

Actual ponytails move left to right. The range of motion is surprisingly high– if the ponytail isn’t too big, it’ll go through more than 180 degrees while its owner runs. (You can see this in this video.) A thicker or longer ponytail won’t move as much, but the motion is still left/right. Not surprisingly, it follows the motions of the arms. (If the woman is walking, there’s much less movement, but what there is remains left/right.)

Not a big deal, but a fun physics fact.

The oldsters never like the new music. This is a quotation from 乐记 Yuèjì (Record of Music), from the Warring States period, at least 2300 years ago.

The marquis Wén ask the sage Zǐxià why the old music puts him to sleep, while the new music does not.

Zǐxià duì yuē: “Jīn fū gǔ yuè, jìn lǚ tuì lǚ, hé zhèng yǐ guǎng.
Zǐxià back say / now EXCL ancient music / advance troop retreat troop / harmonious correct with wide
Zǐxià replied, “Now, in the ancient music, movements were in sync; there was harmony, correctness, and amplitude.

Xián páo shēng huáng, huì shǒu fǔ gǔ, shǐ zòu yǐ wén, fù luàn yǐ wǔ, zhì luàn yǐ xiāng, xùn jí yǐ yǎ.
string gourd pipe reed / can observe tap drum / begin play with culture / again disorder with martial / rule disorder with picture / examine quick with elegance
The strings, percussion, and pipes all follow the beat of the drum; they all begin in harmony, play their parts with martial vigor, master disorder with togetherness, play rapidly with elegance.

Jūnzǐ yú shì yǔ, yú shì dào gǔ, xiū shēn jí jiā, píng jūn tiānxià.
gentleman at this say / at this way ancient / repair body and family / level all heaven-under
In this the gentleman speaks and follows the ancient ways; mends body and family; the whole nation is pacified.

Cǐ gǔ yuè zhī fā yě.
this ancient music SUB pattern PT
This is how ancient music was.

Jīn fū xīn yuè, jìn fǔ tuì fǔ, jiān shēng yǐ làn, nì ér bùzhǐ;
now EXCL new music / enter face.down retreat face.down / evil sound with excess / drown and not stop
Now in the new music, movements are dispirited; the sound is evil and excessive; it is like perpetually drowning.

Jí yōu zhūrú, róu zá zǐ nǚ, bù zhī fù zǐ.
with artist dwarf scholar / blend mix son woman / not know father son
There are dwarf artists, men and women mixed together, of unknown family.

Yuè zhōng bù kě yǐ yǔ, bù kě yǐ dào gǔ.
music end not can with speak / not can with way ancient
Such music is not to be spoken of, and does not follow the ancient ways.

Cǐ xīn yuè zhī fā yě.
this new music SUB pattern PT
This is how today’s music is.

Jīn jūn zhī suǒ wèn zhě yuè yě, suǒ hào zhě yīn yě!
now noble SUB PASS ask NOM music PT / PASS good NOM sound PT
Now, what you ask about is music, but what you like is just sound.

Fū yuè zhě, yǔ yīn xiāng jìn ér bù tóng
EXCL music NOM / and sound each.other near and not alike
Music and sound are similar, but they are not the same!

The sage goes on to offer this useful advice: “The airs of Zheng go to a wild excess, and debauch the mind; those of Song tell of slothful indulgence and women, and drown the mind; those of Wei are vehement and rapid, and perplex the mind; and those of Qi are violent and depraved, and make the mind arrogant. The airs of those four states all stimulate libidinous desire, and are injurious to virtue;–they should therefore not be used at sacrifices.”

In UI design, a user model is how the user thinks something operates. This is my user model for the shower in my apartment.


  • I turn the faucets to a desired temperature.
  • The settings are transferred by mechanical means to the basement.
  • Sensors there determine the position of the controls. These are converted into verbal instructions and communicated by telephone to an old man, who actually adjusts the amount of cold and warm water.
  • The old man is deaf, grumpy, and frequently away or drunk, we don’t know.
  • He’s of mixed Italian and Serbo-Croat descent, and sometimes he hears “cold” as caldo (Italian ‘hot’), or “hot” as Serbo-Croat hladan ‘cold’.
  • Sometimes salesmen call; he takes whatever they say as more commands and changes the water setting. Or maybe it’s just sheer cussedness.
  • There is a range of settings that produces a warm, comfortable shower. These settings are marked “DO NOT USE, FIRING OFFENSE” and he strictly avoids them. However, he can sometimes be coaxed into this range by confusing him with frequent, contradictory orders.

This user model explains and predicts the shower behavior quite reliably.

It’s been twenty years since I wrote the American culture test, so it’s time for an update.

(Mostly it’s new pop culture references, but attitudes about race and sexuality have changed significantly, and there’s more to say about the Internet.)

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