Tuesday 3 April 2012

Is Snow Water?

Contrary to popular belief, most linguists today consider it a myth that the Eskimo language has an unusually large number of words (some say 50 and some others say 100!) for snow. 

It goes to show the danger of accepting everything you read in the popular press or media without first “filtering” via the grey matter between our ears.

By the way, there’s no one Eskimo language too ;)

We don’t have to look far. In the English language, we have: 

"blizzard", "flurry", "pack", "slush," "drift", "sleet," and "powder" 

Each refer to different types of snow, but all are recognized as varieties of "snow" in a general sense.

Now imagine having a debate on whether “sleet” is snow or water?

First there is the British Commonwealth definition of sleet and the US definition of sleet.

After getting through this hurdle, the debate will continue on whether sleet is more rain (water) or snow…

Some of you may chime in now to say: “Isn’t snow also water?”


What is water?

Most will recognise water in the form of ice, river, lake, ocean, and glacier, etc.

Less obvious would be cloud. Can it be considered as water? How about mist?

Taking it a bit further, how about cucumber and water-melon?

Ah! I bet you know what’s coming next!

How about man? Are we water too? 70% share of body mass does not count?

What’s my point? 

No, I am not mind fxxxing you. I tease you not!
Just substitute money with water and pause and reflect for a while. 

Wage slaves, to borrow this terminology from my fellow blogger AK71, only recognize money in the most obvious forms.

But to an investor, trader, and/or speculator, the ability to recognize the less obvious forms of money is an edge in finding hidden gems where others have missed.

Just this evening, I saw on the TV news that one American has bought a sketch, by pop-art master Andy Warhol when he was 10 years old, for the princely sum of US$5 dollars at a garage sale?

The sketch is now valued at a cool 2 million dollars. How’s that for recognising “water”?

Similar tales have also happened in Singapore where some “lucky” karang-guni man (rag an bone) have bought antiques from clueless owners who sold them as junk...

How can these “junk” be an “asset”? They just sit there and produce no cash flow. 

You mean Warren Buffett can be wrong?


  1. ofcos, everything are relative. relative becos of changes.

    so are people working consider as traders? ofcos they are. they trade their time (freedom) in return of incomes, thats a good trade, sure win one.

    they are what i call one direction trader, work well in corperation but fall badly in the market place.

    1. Coconut,

      Good one! Most people are traders since they "trade" their time for money.

      Entrepreneurs and hard-core market traders surrender the certainty of regular cash flows for the freedom to pursue their heart - despite the greater uncertainty of future cash flows.

      Like boxing contenders, all these risk takers are asking for is - just one shot at the title. Just one shot...

    2. ya, thats why i don't really like investing in high yield stocks (although i'm doing it haha), they are much like working for a rather fix income.

      what? working? yes, you need time to relised your income, and its rather fix. at the mean time, you sit there and wait doing nothing (working), can't really do anything cos income not arrived yet.

      ofcos i'm referring to investing not trading.

    3. Coconut,

      I think we are both hunters. You hunt elephants, I hunt chicken. Eh? Another Freudian slip again...

      While waiting for the big game to arrive, I am like you doing some farming... I've planted banana, papaya, and mango trees!

      Since we are waiting anyway, might as well get some fruits while we wait!

      Got shade some more.

      I omnivore remember?

    4. whats the big one you referring to? sounds like you are waiting for investment opportunity right?

      for trading, as long as there are changes in prices, there are trade opportunity.

    5. Coconut,

      The are lots of opportunities in swing trading - both on the long and short side. I'm vested on both sides.

      As for the big one, every 4 to 5 years I've tracked that a brown bear will emerge from it's hibernation ;)

      Traders like to post charts on their entry an exit positions; while investors like to reveal their holdings.

      I prefer to write about fluffy philosophical stuffs!

  2. Hi smol,

    it's only recently that knew that the many Eskimo language for ice is a myth. They have multiple dialects and the 50 or 100 words for Ice refers to the different dialects.

    Which is why I liked this post :) there are indeed different forms of money, not all in the "standard" form that we use daily.

    1. LP,

      Glad you liked my analogy.

      I must thank this quirkyhill blogger for inspiring my interest in linguistics.

      I've never learned English grammar - my England grammar is learned by ear. If it sounds odd, I will know I may have used the wrong grammar.

      Making full use of my spare time to read more about history and natural sciences. Now why didn't I do it when I was in school?


    2. haha i see my name mentioned.

      anyway le papillion is not quite accurate. yes, each of the inuit languages have words for ice. however these languages add suffixes to root words to create new 'compound words'. and of course this can be done to root words for ice, resulting in dozens of compound words which are really derivatives of the same few root words for ice. and that was how the myth came about. :)

      check out these links:

    3. Aloha! quirkyhill the sweet tooth,

      I am so glad I've asked you what are suffixes and prefixes ;)

      Blogging is so much fun! I am discovering many people with varied tastes and interests.

      I am learning so much, inadvertently, while having fun!

  3. so smol, from a working class to a speculator, what you need to change?

    from a direction trader to a direction-less trader. from a absolute (numbers) trader to a relative (changes) trader.

    your post say one thing but you believe in another.

    1. OK I am lost now Coconut...

      How do you make money in directionless trade?

      Spreading? I remember my first pairs trading was all wrong...

      What the fish is relative (changes) trader? I've never heard of it...

      Don't tell me the answer!

      Let me do my research and reflection myself.

      I stuck then I come back to you.

      I prefer to figure things out myself. The effect is longer lasting than someone spoon-feeding me ;)

      Good good. Zen reflection time!

    2. directional trader means the mind set in one direction. direction-less (my term haha) means both direction inter-changable or flexible.

      to decide when to change direction depends on the (degree of or relative) changes in the market place (price). it works in directional trades as well as spread or arbitrate trading.

      if you fix a target profit or lost amount (like the investment example), that will be absolute.

      ofcos i'm talking about trading and not investing.

    3. Coconut,

      Got it!

      Forgot you have a mind of your own.

      Ha ha!

  4. Hi SMOL

    After reading "Your Money or Your Life", the concept that money = life energy has stayed with me.

    When we trade our time, effort and life energy for money, it really is our lives. It hit me after I read that book and has stayed with me.

    Be well and prosper. :-)

    1. Panzer,

      Indeed. Money is sometimes vilified, and I agree it's not everything.

      But money can also liberate and do a lot of good!

      At the end of the day, it's back to what's within us. How we see the world and ourselves.

      Some call it EQ, some call it genetics, some call it karma, some call it...

  5. Almost 2 decades ago, when my almost always melancholic philosophy professor told me that water is not "wet" because "wet" is not one of the properties of water ("wet" is merely what water feels to us - to be precise, "wet" is what we become after water is poured over us...), I decided to use my brain as little as possible from then on. ;-)

    1. Jules,

      A poor soul your professor... A pedant masquerading as a free spirit. No wonder he is melancholic!

      I take it you too have water poured over you ;)

      Ah... Refreshing!

      Just make sure we are not wearing white. We may raise the temperature in the room ;)

  6. "Just make sure we are not wearing white. We may raise the temperature in the room"
    For a very brief moment I wondered what politics has to do with it. And then I got it.
    Naughty boy! :-)

  7. For the Cantonese's slang, water means money.Does the Cantonese slang means just like water, money can be in many different forms, to different people/cultures?

    1. Thanks Temperament!

      Waited one whole day finally someone saw the link between my word play ;)

      Shui wei cai!


  8. No money. No talk.

    When you can come here and talk it means that you have money or else you are busy looking for money and not talk. :-)

    1. CW8888,

      My small humble tavern is bring your own drinks kind

      Got money, no money never mind

      We all can sit down and shoot the breeze together

      Sing a few songs, have a few lagers

      Experienced ones talk about days gone by

      Young ones talk about adventures yet to try

      After all the merry-making full of laughter

      We go home separately mumbling tomorrow will be better!

    2. yeow shui, yoew shui,
      mou shui, mou shui
      yeow shui, quo shui,
      quo shui, yeow shui.
      Who said the above?

    3. Crude Translation:
      Got water, got water,
      No water, no water,
      Got water, give water,
      Give water, got water.

      Clue: i think above is a dialogue in an old Cantonese film.

    4. Temperament,

      I give up! I've asked mom and she don't know either.

      If I have to guess - Feng Bo Bo?

      I learned my Cantonese by watching her B/W movies in the 70s ;)

    5. Ha! Ha!
      This dialogue is punting on the word water and money in Cantonese dialect. So it should be spoken by firemen to the residents of whose houses were on fire.

    6. Ah!

      Asking money for water!

      I think Adam Cheng and Lydia Sum acted in one movie in their early days where a scene like that happened ;)

  9. Speaking of water and ice crystals, here's a little geeky tangent topic: Did you notice that all white things are made of tiny transparent things? Example:

    Snow = tiny transparent ice crystals

    Clouds = tiny transparent water vapor

    Salt = tiny transparent Sodium Chloride crystals

    White Paper = tiny transparent processed wood fibers

    Polar Bear Hair = thin transparent fibers (really, there is a scientific journal optical physics paper studying the use of polar bear hair as optical fibers for UV to visible light)

    White Paint = tiny transparent particles embedded in a transparent liquid medium

    So it follows that if you have white hair, it is actually transparent hair (and it is! Try plucking one out and looking at it through a microscope or magnifying glass)

    1. 1) Ronian,

      That's interesting!

      If it's transparent, the reason we see it as white is due to refraction and/or dispersing of light as it passes through the hair?


      2) CW8888,

      Hmm... Making fun of me. Never mind! The botak look is "in" now :)

  10. Hi Jared,

    Yes that's approximately right - Transparents things look white because of the refraction and reflection going on in them, but they must be small relative to the eyes and there must be many of them. White hair strands look whiter when there's a whole bunch of them together. As a side note: Toilet paper is definitely white, but they look grey when wet with water. The reason is because when paper is wet, the voids between transparent fiber strands are now filled with liquid which now makes the entire collection of fibers mold together as if they're a complete solid medium. Whenever this happens, when we look at the fibers, they no longer look like fibers. They looks like a continuous medium like glass, and then it becomes more transparent, which makes the wet paper look grey (e.g., dark rainy clouds look grey compared to white puffy clouds because of the same reason). Believe it or not, there's a complicated way to express all this in mathematics and I've never learned how to do it even though I've read about it a million times in the journals and textbooks. But ok, enough of my nerdiness for the day!

    PS: Botak is cool. I'll get there someday with my hair loss problem. Then we can have kopi and celebrate botakness.

    1. Ronian,

      Thank goodness you didn't explain it via mathematics!!!

      Now I know why white toilet paper turns to grey when wet!

      I was very intrigued by your post on why is the sky blue when first visiting your blog.

      Discovered the learning from my photography days on why the sky is blue and why clouds can be light and dark were very superficial.

      But thanks to this superficial knowledge, I can relate to what you write. I paint with light using optics ;)

    2. Lemme know if you need any other things explained about light in nature :-) It will give me more ideas about what science cartoons to draw!


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