The Vatican daily L'Osservatore Romano threw its weight behind the initiative last week, with Manlio Simonetti, a professor of Christian history, telling the paper that Latin was well-suited to Twitter. "Latin adapts very well to the brevity demanded by new social networks, even better than English," he said.Bad generalization from a good fact. Latin, as a synthetic language, packs more grammar into each word than English does. But this makes an 'average' sentence longer in terms of syllables or characters. Because most noun inflections are repeated on article, adjective and noun, and verb inflections are often multisyllabic, you generally end up with more characters for the same meaning in Latin. English is mainly an isolating language, which means our grammatical functions are chiefly performed by separate words, and each word does its job exactly once. Oriental languages get the most mileage from Twitter because they're allowed to cheat. Each character in Japanese or Chinese represents a syllable. Twitter still allows 140 characters, even though the characters carry far more weight than Roman letters. (Strictly speaking, Unicode is the cheater. Unicode uses 32 bits for each visible character no matter how much meaning it carries.) Arabic and Hebrew have a more 'honest' advantage because they don't write vowels. Even if we were still using 8-bit ASCII, Arabic and Hebrew could pack about twice as much meaning into a tweet.
Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.