[TRIGGER WARNING: Harsh Quantitative Evaluation of a Facile Generalization]
Archive for Humor
This quiz is unfairly difficult: "Linguistics or band name?", lingBuzzFeed 4/20/2015.
Any quiz of the form "X or band name?" is going to be hard, because there are at least tens of thousands of band names, so that even if you know that "Semantic Saturation" is a term from psycholinguistics, how would you be sure that it was also a "three-member American progressive Rock Metal band"? And how would you know that nobody had ever started a band called "Harmonic Serialism"? (The quiz says not, but I wonder…)
According to the footer at lingBuzzFeed, "This blog is not related to, or endorsed by, either lingBuzz or BuzzFeed, though is strongly intellectually indebted to both".
John McIntyre's "Grammarnoir 7: 'The Corpus Had a Familiar Face'" is available at The Baltimore Sun.
At the start of the story, a thug with "fists the size of Westphalian hams and the cold, dead eyes of a community press content coach" strong-arms John's narrator into a big room "with a glass wall overlooking a formal garden. Around a large table sat half a dozen people: Jeans. T-shirts, mostly black. Bottles of imported water. Three-day stubble on every face. No women."
— Mo Costandi (@mocost) April 1, 2015
Axel Schuessler's daughter is visiting Japan and saw in a store the shirt below:
We strongly reccomend [sic] that you do not purchase this software if you are not seeking a degree or a full time faculty member at a school, college or university.
An interesting paper was recently brought to my attention: Flavia Montaggio, Patricia Montaggio, & Imp Kerr, "DNA-based prediction of Nitzsche's voice", Investigative Genetics, Spring 2015. The abstract is pretty good:
This paper presents a protocol for the accurate prediction of an individual’s voice based on genotype data, specifically from single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). We collected trace amounts of cellular material (Touch DNA) from books that belonged to the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900). DNA was extracted and amplified using DOP-PCR technique. Five different genomic DNAs were generated. Nietzsche’s genotype was singled out after comparison to genotype data from one living relative of the Nietzsche family. Nietzsche’s genotype data was analyzed using a DNA-based phenotyping assay, termed VoiceRator, that incorporates the 24 most informative voice SNPs based on their association with genes related to the phenotypic expression of the vocal tract and larynx structure and function. An SNP-based voice profile of Nietzsche was inferred. The profile data was converted into bio-measures that were used to 3D-print a vocal tract and larynx through which phonation was organically generated. A composite of seven Text-to-Speech simulations was made using a sound morphing software. The result is presented in audio format and illustrates the first attempt at simulating the voice of a deceased person.
Toni Tan sent in the following photograph:
Claire Bowern, whom I know best for her work on historical linguistics and Australian languages, turned up recently as the author of an Op-Ed at Talking Points Memo, "The Supreme Court Says Men Lactate, Too. So When Can They Start Breastfeeding?", 2/9/2015:
The Supreme Court has now established that it isn't sex discrimination to fire a woman because of breastfeeding, in part because men can lactate, too. Critics have met the ruling with disbelief, indignation and dismay.
I disagree. I think it's great news. Finally, we have federal legal recognition that men can take part in this fundamental part of newborn care. At times the present Supreme Court has seemed retrograde and unconcerned with reproductive rights (Hobby Lobby, anyone?), but in this case the Justices have forged ahead, outpacing even biology and culture. I haven't seen too many men in lactation classes (maybe they're such naturals, they don't need the classes) or publicly chestfeeding their kids, and the Daily Mail ran a story about the now sadly defunct "Project Breastfeeding"'s campaign to get more dads involved. Their slogan was "If I could, I would"— and now you can!
The URL for Chris Christie's new political action committee has occasioned a certain amount of innocent merriment, because LeadershipMattersForAmerica.org naturally suggests the acronym LMFAO, normally interpreted as "laughing my fucking ass off":
Sue Dunum, "Canadians Using 'Harper' as a Swear Word — 'Go Harper Yourself'", The Lapine 7/1/2014:
MONTREAL — The CBC is reporting today on a growing social media trend for Canadians to use Prime Minister Harper’s name as a cuss word.
“Harper is being used as the new F Bomb,” CBC analyst Claude Perrault told news anchor Peter Mansbridge this morning.
“‘Harper off’ is a big one we’re seeing used alot on Facebook and Twitter. Often in all caps when someone’s really angry…as in ‘HARPER OFF!’”
“Calling someone a ‘Harpering Harper’ to mean either ‘f****** b****’ or ‘f****** c***sucker’ is also trending big for new slang.”
From the last year's Foundational Questions Institute conference, a String Theory supporter (Raphael Bousso) is asked to argue against String Theory on behalf of Loop Quantum Gravity, while one of the founders of Loop Quantum Gravity theory (Carlo Rovelli) takes the String Theory side, in opposition to his own point of view:
This works out well, making me wonder about analogous opposite-day debates in linguistics and allied areas.