Archive for Humor

The unreasonable hilarity of recurrent neural networks

If you haven’t done so already, read Andrej Karpathy, “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Recurrent Neural Networks“. And then Janelle Shane, “New paint colors invented by neural network“.

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BARF (Belt and Road Forum) 2.0

[This is a guest post by the inimitable satirist, S. Tsow]

[1.0 is this: “BARF (Belt and Road Forum)” (5/19/17)]

Xi Jinping (“Mr. Eleven” [XI]) calls his New Silk Road initiative “One Belt, One Road”  (Yidai-Yilu).  A map I have shows a land route in the north, going westward, bifurcating at Urumchi, and ending at Rotterdam and Istanbul.  OK, that’s the “belt”.  The “road” shows a sea route in the south that wanders all over the place and ends in the west at Venice.

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C.S. Peirce: “My Life: written for the Class-Book”

In May of 1859, Charles Sanders Peirce was 19 years old, and graduating from Harvard College. Graduates were invited to describe their life for the “Class-Book” — and what Peirce wrote in response stands as the first entry in Volume 1 of the Writings of Charles S. Peirce: A Chronological Edition:

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Similes for quality of computer code

I must admit to having enjoyed the series of savage similes about quality of computer program code presented in three xkcd comic strips. They show a female character, known to aficionados as Ponytail, reluctantly agreeing to take a critical look at some code that the male character Cueball has written. Almost at first sight, she begins to describe it using utterly brutal similes. In the first strip (at http://xkcd.com/1513) she announces that reading it is “like being in a house built by a child using nothing but a hatchet and a picture of a house.” But Ponytail is not done: there is more bile and contempt where that came from.

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Secret bilingual language

My wife and I used to have a private language that was full of bilingual, cryptic references such as the following:

Yáo Shùn Yǔ 尧舜禹 (the names of three ancient, wise, Chinese rulers) || sānmíngzhì 三明治 (“three wise rulers”), the Chinese transcription of English “sandwich”.

Thus, if we wished to ask each other, “Do you want to eat a sandwich?”, we might say “Nǐ yào bùyào chī yī ge Yáo Shùn Yǔ? 你要不要吃一个尧舜禹?”.  That sort of word play was usually just for fun or to avoid a word that was transcribed into Mandarin from some other language.

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What a tangled web they weave

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Thoroughly earthy

Because I like the Chinese term tǔ 土 (“earth; soil; dirt; ground; earthy; rustic; colloquial”) so much, I was going to add the substance of the remarks below as a comment to the “Fun bun pun” (4/9/17) post, in which we devoted a lot of attention to one of my favorite expressions, “tǔbāozi 土包子” (“earthy steamed stuffed bun”, i.e., “country bumpkin, hick, rube, clodhopper, backwoodsman, boor, dolt, yokel”).  But the ramifications grew to such large proportions that they merited their own post.

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The Language Log Experience

Recently this video, or a link to it, has been showing up on just about every web page I visit:

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For want of a flack

A competent PR counsel would have advised against this wardrobe choice:

The twitterverse immediately pounced, with captions like these:

Reinforcements from the 101st Fighting Ivies Have Arrived.
From the shores of Burberry, the 82nd heir-born has arrived.
Kush Body Armor by J.Crew. “When you don’t know where you are or what you are doing.”

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Siri and flatulence

An acquaintance of mine has a new iPhone, which he carries in a pocket that is (relevantly) below waist level. He has discovered something that dramatically illustrates the difference between (i) responding to speech and (ii) responding to speech as humans do, on the basis of knowing that it is speech.

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Patton Oswalt on Trump, Obama, David Lee Roth, and Rutgers linguistics

At the Writers Guild of America Awards on Sunday night, host Patton Oswalt predictably made some Trump jokes in his opening monologue. What wasn’t so predictable was an extended analogy involving ’80s hard rocker David Lee Roth and the linguistics department at Rutgers University. The key line: “Donald Trump taking Obama’s job would be like if the head of linguistics at Rutgers made fun of David Lee Roth, and David Lee Roth was like, ‘I’m gonna take his job.'” A shout-out to Bruce Tesar, chair of the Rutgers linguistics department?

Oswalt’s bit starts around 5 minutes into the monologue, after some banter with James Woods, who was in the audience.

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Last night in Sweden

One of the most widely noted aspects of Donald Trump’s campaign rally yesterday in Florida was his reference to a terrorist incident the night before in Sweden:

You look at what’s happening in Germany,
you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden —
Sweden!
Who would believe this? Sweden!
They took in large numbers, they’re having problems like they never thought possible.
You look at what’s happening in Brussels,
you look at what’s happening all over the world, take a look at Nice,
take a look at Paris.

Since no plausibly relevant incident actually occurred the previous evening in Sweden, some people have suggested that the president’s remark might refer to a documentary mentioned the night before on Fox. (See also here.) But most of the reaction took the form of jokes, many of them available on Twitter as #LastNightInSweden.

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Gambling Disturb Terrible

A friend of Anne Henochowicz spotted this T-shirt in an Akihabara, Tokyo shop:

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