I have been using “cf.” wrongly for my entire life

Number theory was famously described as absolutely, gloriously useless by G H Hardy, but is now vital for encryption and therefore the digital economy (and all else “e”) While looking this up, I came across this discussion on the site Math Overflow. And in that discussion, I came across this comment:

Pet peeve: “cf” stands for “conferre”, which means “to compare”; you are using it as reference or a “see for example”. Though an extremely common usage, it is incorrect. “cf” should be used for “compare with”, and you don’t want to compare the writings of Hardy with the statement that Number Theory was considered useless; rather, you want to use Hardy’s writings as a reference to the assertion that Number Theory was considered useless…

As well as Arturo Magidin, the authority of Wikipedia backs this up:

The abbreviation cf. (short for the Latin: confer/conferatur, both meaning “compare”)[1] is used in writing to refer the reader to other material to make a comparison with the topic being discussed. It is used to form a contrast, for example: “Abbott (2010) found supportive results in her memory experiment, unlike those of previous work (cf. Zeller & Williams, 2007).”[2] It is recommended that “cf.” be used only to suggest a comparison, and the word “see” be used to point to a source of information.[3][4]

I am ashamed to say that for my whole life (well, the portion of my life I have used Cf., which I would say is twenty-something years) I has been offedning Arturo Magidin and indeed proper usage by using it to mean “See”.

You learn something new every day.

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“no longer did immediate this-worldly success have to be decisive”

From “God’s Gamble: The Gravitational Power of Crucified Love” by Gil Bailie:

The Resurrection delivers men from the fear of death,” writes John Meyendorff, “and, therefore, also from the necessity of struggling for existence.” Such a struggle for existence is spiritually deadening precisely inasmuch as it inevitably becomes a struggle against others for preeminence, material advantage, power, or survival. To the extent that it has been sacramentally instantiated in the life of the believer, the Resurrection of Christ provides the wherewithal required to live responsibly and nobly. Thus it is that the Resurrection has opened up history in a way never before known.

As Raymund Schwager observed: Through the resurrection of Christ . . . it became possible . . . to see conflicts, persecutions, and defeats in a different way. No longer did immediate this-worldly success have to be decisive. History as the history of victors was, at least in principle, overcome. . . . Truth and immediate this-worldly success were separated.

Though the responsibility for proclaiming the truth and struggling for its triumph in this world is in no way diminished, the Resurrection relieves those on whom the Easter Sun has shone of the desperate project of trying to achieve in history what can be fulfilled only eschatologically—a fool’s errand that has turned the late-modern period into a crematoria like no other in history.

Why hasn’t an earthquake toppled the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

I’m sure you’ve asked yourself the same question… well, here is the answer….

Basically, it’s all down to the soil:

After studying available seismological, geotechnical and structural information, the research team concluded that the survival of the Tower can be attributed to a phenomenon known as dynamic soil-structure interaction (DSSI).

The considerable height and stiffness of the Tower combined with the softness of the foundation soil, causes the vibrational characteristics of the structure to be modified substantially, in such a way that the Tower does not resonate with earthquake ground motion. This has been the key to its survival. The unique combination of these characteristics gives the Tower of Pisa the world record in DSSI effects.

“Ironically, the very same soil that caused the leaning instability and brought the Tower to the verge of collapse, can be credited for helping it survive these seismic events,” Professor Mylonakis noted.

Cahir’s memorial to Crimean Bob, “a veteran troophorse”

This plaque is on display in the main square of Cahir, Co Tipperary:

This article outlines the story of Crimean Bob and other Irish animals of the Crimean War. A little disappointingly , the Cahir plaque is a replica and the original is in the museum of the Royal Hussars.

On RTE Radio, Mooney Goes Wild did a segment on Crimean Bob a few years back

 

Robert Louis Stevenson bequeaths his birthday to Annie Ide

I had read somewhere that Robert Louis Stevenson had bequeathed his birthday (13th November) to a girl who was born on Christmas Day. Lately I came across Katherine Miller’s poem “Stevenson’s Birthday”, reproduced below. Oddly, this poem seemed (to me) to imply the girl’s birthday was on February 29th rather than Christmas.

 

I had wondered if this was an urban myth, but it is anything but.  Here is the formal (-ish, OK, very -ish) legal document  wherein Stevenson passed his birthday onto Annie Ide, daughter of a U.S. Senator 

I, Robert Louis Stevenson, Advocate of the Scots Bar, author of The Master of Ballantrae and Moral Emblems, stuck civil engineer, sole owner and patentee of the Palace and Plantation known as Vailima in the island of Upolu, Samoa, a British Subject, being in sound mind and pretty well I thank you in body:

In consideration that Miss A. H. Ide, daughter of H. C. Ide, in the town of St Johnsbury, in the County of Caledonia, in the State of Vermont, United States of America, was born, out of all reason, upon Christmas Day, and is therefore, out of all justice, denied the consolation and profit of a Proper Birthday;

And considering that I, the said Robert Louis Stevenson, have attained an age when O, we never mention it, and that I have now no further use for a birthday of any description;

And in consideration that I have met H. C. Ide, the father of the said A. H. Ide, and found him about as white a Land Commissioner as I require;

Have transferred, and do hereby transfer to the said A. H. Ide, All and Whole of my rights and privileges in the 13th day of November, formerly my birthday, now, hereby, and henceforth, the birthday of the said A. H. Ide, to have, hold, exercise and enjoy the same in the customary manner, by the sporting of fine raiment, eating of rich meats and receipt of gifts, compliments and copies of verse, according to the manner of our ancestors;

And I direct the said A. H. Ide to add to her said name of A. H. Ide the name Louisa – at least in private; and I charge her to use my said birthday with moderation and humanity, et tamquam bona filia familiae, the said birthday not being so young as it once was and having carried me in a very satisfactory manner since I can remember;

And in case the said A. H. Ide shall neglect or contravene either of the above conditions, I hereby revoke the donation and transfer my rights in the said birthday to the President of the United States of America for the time being.

In witness whereof I have hereto set my hand and seal this 19th day of June in the year of grace eighteen hundred and ninety-one.

[Seal]

Robert Louis Stevenson
I.P.D.

Witness: Lloyd Osbourne

Witness: Harold Watts

I can’t find much about Katherine Miller online (possibly confounded by other Katherine Millers) but this poem is from only a few years after this occured:

 

STEVENSON’S BIRTHDAY

 

“How I should like a birthday!” said the child,

“I have so few, and they so far apart.”

She spoke to Stevenson—the Master smiled—

“Mine is to-day; I would with all my heart

That it were yours; too many years have I!

Too swift they come, and all too swiftly fly”

So by a formal deed he there conveyed

All right and title in his natal day,

To have and hold, to sell or give away,—

Then signed, and gave it to the little maid. J

oyful, yet fearing to believe too much,

She took the deed, but scarcely dared unfold.

Ah, liberal Genius! at whose potent touch

All common things shine with transmuted gold!

A day of Stevenson’s will prove to be

Not part of Time, but Immortality.

“Thinking about the immortality of the crab”

Via the Wikipedia page devoted to Miguel de Unamono, I came across this  wonderfully evocative Spanish idiom: 

 

Thinking about the immortality of the crab (SpanishPensar en la inmortalidad del cangrejo) is a Spanish idiom about daydreaming. The phrase is usually a humorous way of saying that one was not sitting idly, but engaged constructively in contemplation or letting one’s mind wander

The wikipedia page also features two poems entitled Immortalidad del cangrejo, one by Unamuno:

El más profundo problema:
el de la inmortalidad
del cangrejo, que tiene alma,
Una almita de verdad …

Que si el cangrejo se muere
todo en su totalidad
con él nos morimos todos
por toda la eternidad

 

translated (on the same wikipedia page) as:

 

The deepest problem:
of the immortality of the crab,
is that a soul it has,
a little soul in fact …

That if the crab dies
entirely in its totality
with it we all die
for all of eternity

 

The other is by the Mexican poet José Emilio Pacheco:

Y de inmortalidades sólo creo
en la tuya, cangrejo amigo.
Te aplastan,
te echan en agua hirviendo,
inundan tu casa.
Pero la represión y la tortura
de nada sirven, de nada.

No tú, cangrejo ínfimo,
caparazón mortal de tu individuo, ser transitorio,
carne fugaz que en nuestros dientes se quiebra;
no tú sino tu especie eterna: los otros:
el cangrejo inmortal
toma la playa.

 

 

Translation:

Of all the immortalities, I believe in
only yours, friend crab.
People break into your body,
plop you into boiling water,
flush you out of house and home.
But torture and affliction
Make no apparent end of you. No…

Not you, poor despicable crab –
brief tenant in this mortal carapace
of your individuality; fleeting creature
of flesh that quails between our teeth;
Not you but others of your eternal species:
infinite crab:
take over the beach.

 

Textspeak in the 18th Century – the case of Pot-8-Os

Once, Prince’s use of “U” for “you” and “2” for “to” (or “too” or “two”) was seen as an example of his supposed eccentricity. Now, of course, it is all too commonplace.

What Prince was up to could be called “sensational spelling” though now it is not so sensational (and that sounds a little naff) with the rise of text speak. Naturally, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-9481.00127/abstract.

One amusing 18th century example of this is Pot-8-Os. Here he is:

Potoooooooo

And here is his Wikipedia bio, which reveals him to have been an equine member of the 27 club. Here is one origin story for his name:

The origin of his name has several different versions. According to one, Abingdon intended to call the young colt “Potato” and instructed the stable boy to write the name on a feed bin. The stable boy facetiously spelled the name as “Potoooooooo” (Pot followed by 8 “o”s), which so amused Abingdon that he adopted the spelling

http://www.horsenation.com/2014/11/18/potoooooooo-the-unbelievably-legitimate-story-of-a-racehorse/