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The Growlery

In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni

Being forthright

Who is this creature known as forthright? What is the nature and character of this mortal man masquerading behind this adjective-cum-cognomen? Are we alone in the universe? For the answers to at least two of the preceding questions, read on!

If you are looking for any of the following:

1) Dry, context-free recitations of daily events
2) Poorly coded HTML quizzes posted haphazardly
3) Someone whose woes and bitterness rival those of Job, and therefore make you feel good about your own sorry life
4) Frequent use of the words 'teh', 'bling', and/or 'kawaii'

... then you've come to the wrong place, buster. If, on the other hand, you enjoy:

a) hemi-demi-semi-intelligent conversation and commentary on social, linguistic, and political issues
b) the pretentious ramblings of an occasionally clever raconteur
c) an insider's sometimes-bitter, sometimes-surreal perspective on contemporary academia
d) lists that are exactly four items long, no more, no less

then you may be in for a treat!

I am Stephen Chrisomalis, anthropologist, linguist, historian, and all-around numbers guy. I finished my Ph.D. in anthropology at McGill University in 2003, and, after teaching for a few years in Toronto and Montreal, have landed at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, teaching anthropology and linguistics. My book, Numerical Notation: A Comparative History (Cambridge, 2010) is a cross-cultural comparison of all past and present systems for writing numbers graphically, such as Roman numerals, Hindu-Arabic numerals, and the like (around 100 different systems on five continents over 5000 years, at last count). This enormous scope explains the excessive page length, and potentially explains my present lack of sanity. I've had a couple of major journal articles published based on parts of my thesis; the BBC did a nice piece on one of my papers a while back. If you want to learn more about my academic life, you might read my curriculum vitae.

I am Canadian, currently living in Windsor, Ontario (although I work in Detroit, Michigan). I happen to think that despite its problems, my country is a damn fine place to live. I have a strong interest in Canadian politics and society, and post often on news pieces and social issues that catch my attention. Politically, I'm rather left of centre (though not militantly or orthodoxly so), but I am a very strong advocate for freedom of expression and tolerance for diverse opinions, so feel free to speak your mind. I do ask that you be respectful of others as a matter of common courtesy and to keep discussions on-topic.

I am married to a very fine specimen of the female of the sub-species Homo sapiens sapiens, curtana, a condition which was thrust upon me very willingly in 2000. My wife posts rather more frequently than I do, and on many of the same subjects, often more cleverly. If you are at all interested in my musings, I can with no qualms send you in her direction, and she will be as happy to entertain you as I will. Together, we are the progenitors of Arthur, a largely benign but sometimes cranky Level 5 Human, and whom we are busily indoctrinating into our cult of bookish geekery.

I am the proud creator, steward, and insidiously wicked mind behind The Phrontistery, a web site devoted to the study of obscure English words, vocabulary enhancement, word lists on various topics and other linguistic oddities. A brief look around the site will demonstrate (as if such were necessary) the extent of my obsessive mania for English words and vocabulary. I post fairly often on linguistic issues, wordplay, and related subjects, or post mocking commentary on people who email me regarding the Phrontistery, but I'm not a "grammar nazi" or a vile prescriptivist. As long as you are able to string a few words together coherently, you're welcome in my blogspace.

I am a gamer. For more than a score of years, and more campaigns than I care to recount, I have been an active participant in role-playing games, especially but not limited to Dungeons and Dragons. With the recent move to Windsor, my gaming has been curtailed for at least the next year or so, but I expect it will pick up at some point. I post occasionally on gaming-related topics, and am currently writing a serialized set of notes on gaming theory.

I believe that the acquisition and spread of knowledge is the highest form of human endeavour. I believe that there is no contradiction between the pursuit of excellence and the pursuit of equity. I believe that humans are a ridiculous and sometimes pathetic species, but nevertheless capable of true progress given the proper catalyst. I believe that reason is a great tool, but like any tool, capable of misuse. I believe in an ethical science and morality without orthodoxy.

And now, I believe that this introduction is finished.

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