Cuccinelli, Lazarus, and Morse

In a recent interview ("Immigration Chief: 'Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor Who Can Stand On Their Own 2 Feet'", NPR 8/13/2019), the director of the Citizenship and Immigration Service suggested an update to the poem on the Statue of Liberty:

Q: Would you also agree that Emma Lazarus's words, etched on the Statue of Liberty, "Give me your tired, your poor", are also part of the American ethos?
A: Uh they certainly are — "Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet, and who will not become a public charge."

In a later interview the same day, Ken Cuccinelli suggested that when Lazarus wrote about "your tired, your poor, […] the wretched refuse of your teeming shore", she didn't mean that those people were actually indigent:

Well of course that poem was referring back to people coming from Europe, where they had class-based societies, where people were considered wretched if they weren't in the right class.

But the history is more complicated.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (12)


Where the magic happens

From today's SMBC, an idea about AI that's obvious in retrospect but seems to be new:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (18)


Readers in these times

It's common these days to lament the decline of civility caused by various forms of internet discourse. But for an eloquently uncivil condemnation of incivility, it's hard to beat the introduction ("To the Reader") of the 1598 edition of John Florio's Italian dictionary A Worlde of Wordes:

I knowe not how I may again adventure an Epistle to the Reader, so are the times or, readers in these times, most part sicke of the sullens, and peevish in their sicknes, and conceited in their peevishnes. So should I fear the fire who have felt the flame so lately, and flìe from the sea, that have yet a vow to pay for escaping my last ship wracke. […] But before I recount unto thee (gentle reader) the purpose of my new voyage: give me leave a little to please my selfe, and refresh thee with the discourse of my olde danger. Which because in some respect it is a common danger, the discoverie thereof may happily profit other men, as much as it please my selfe. And here might I begin with those notable Pirates on this our paper-sea, those sea-dogs, or lande-Critickes, monsters of men, if not beastes rather than men; whose teeth are Canibals, their toongs adder-forkes, their lips aspes-poyson, their eies basiliskes, their breath the breath of a grave, their wordes the swordes of Turkes, that strive which shall dive deepest into a Christian lying bound before them. But for these barking and biting dogs, they are as well knowne as Scylla and Charybdis.

There is another sort of leering curs, that rather snarle then bite, whereof I coulde instance in one, who lighting upon a good sonnet of a gentlemans, a friend of mine, that loved better to be a poet, than to be counted so, called the auctor a rymer, notwithstanding he had more skill in good Poetrie, then my slie gentleman seemed to have in good manners or humanitie. But my quarrell is to a tooth-lesse dog that hateth where he cannot hurt, and would faine bite, when he hath no teeth.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (8)


Cryptic, allusive messages from Hong Kong's wealthiest tycoon

People have been wondering when Hong Kong's magnates would speak out on the prolonged protests in their city.  Finally one has.  That's Li Ka-shing, the richest of them all:  "HK Billionaire Li Ka-Shing Breaks Silence Over Protests" (8/15/19 newscast on YouTube).  He took out full page advertisements (both seem to be on the front page) in two of Hong Kong's most influential financial newspapers:  Hong Kong Economic Times and Hong Kong Economic Journal.  Here's the first:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (3)


Murgers and biangbiang in London

Restaurant sign in Mayfair:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (1)


Breath Ass Method

Comments (10)


Women's Romanization for Hong Kong

The Hong Kong extradition bill protests, with hundreds of thousands of people, sometimes even a million or two million people (out of a total population of 7.392 million) on the streets, have been going on for more than 11 weeks, with no end in sight, even though the PRC keeps threatening to invade.  One of the main problems the protesters face is how to deal with infiltrators from the north who pretend to be protesters, but promote violence and beat up the Hong Kong people.  Here's one way the Hongkongers are using to expose the intruders:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (17)


The Voder — and "emotion"

There was an interesting story yesterday on NPR's All Things Considered, "How We Hear Our Own Voice Shapes How We See Ourselves And How Others See Us". Shankar Vedantam starts with the case of a woman whose voice was altered because her larynx was accidentally damaged during an operation, leading to a change in her personality. And then it segues into an 80-year-old crowd pleaser, the Voder:

All the way back in 1939, Homer Dudley unveiled an organ-like machine he called the "Voder". It worked using special keys and a foot pedal, and it fascinated people at the World's Fair in New York.

Helen, will you have the Voder say 'She saw me'.

She … saw … me

"That sounded awfully flat. How about a little expression? Say the sentence in answer to these questions.

Q: Who saw you?
A: SHE saw me.
Q: Whom did she see?
A: She saw ME.
Q: Well did she see you or hear you?
A: She SAW me.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (3)


"Douchey uses of AI"

The book for this year's Penn Reading Project is Cathy O'Neil's Weapons of Math Destruction. From the PRP's description:

We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives—where we go to school, whether we get a car loan, how much we pay for health insurance—are being made not by humans but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated.

But as Cathy O'Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true.

I've been seeing lots of resonances of this concern elsewhere in popular culture, for example this recent SMBC, which focuses on the deflection of responsibility:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (17)


Reductio ad THE absurdum

Cindy Boren, "The Ohio State University wants to trademark its favorite word: 'The'", WaPo 8/14/2019:

Ohio State is serious about calling itself "The" Ohio State University. The grammatical article is right there on many of the school's seal, logos and signs. Now the university has gotten so serious about that three-letter word that it has sought to trademark it. […]

"Like other institutions, Ohio State works to vigorously protect the university's brand and trademarks," Chris Davey, a spokesman for the university, said in a statement to the Columbus Dispatch. "These assets hold significant value, which benefits our students and faculty and the broader community by supporting our core academic mission of teaching and research."

Comments (30)


Sign-off alignments

ICYMI:

Comments (9)


Diglossia in action

Neil Kubler spotted this restaurant sign last week in Xi'an in northwest China:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (3)


Between pee and bad

Two delightful Chinglish specimens submitted by Karen Yang:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (4)