The power and the lactulose

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The so-called Free Speech Rally that's about to start in Boston will probably be better attended, both by supporters and opponents, than the one that was organized by same group back in May. But some of the featured speakers at the May rally, including "Augustus Invictus", have decided not to attend today's rerun. So I listened to the YouTube copy of the May rally speech by Austin Gillespie (Augustus's real or at least original name). And since this is Language Log and not Political Rhetoric Log (though surely political rhetoric is part of language), I'm going to focus on YouTube's efforts to provide "automatic captions".

Overall, automatic captioning does both amazingly well and hilariously badly. The audio quality is poor, with a lot of background noise and also distortion caused by an overloaded low-quality sound system, so it's a tribute to advances in ASR technology that the automatic captioning gets quite a few words right. But still, it starts out by allowing the speaker to self-identify as "my name is Olga sticks invictus on for sweater" rather than "my name is Augustus Invictus I'm from Florida":

0:04 my name is Olga sticks
0:12 invictus on for sweater

A little later, Gillespie blames his commitment to armed revolution, curiously, on the fact that the police saved him from an attack by "kids in black" (line divisions from the automatic captioning):

Automatic Captions My Transcription
but it is a year ago these kids in black
upon the hill they surrounded the border
who are doing a meet indeed and they
build my supporters with a two-by-four
bash in their colleges and then they try
to take me out when I floated the power
and the lactulose where the cops showed
up before they could get from me but
from that point
in business is usually more
but then about a year ago these kids in black
up on the hill they surrounded a bar
where we were doing a meet-and-greet and they
beat up my supporters with a two-by-four
bashed in their car windows uh and then they tried
to take me out when they flooded the bar
and miraculously the cops showed
up before they could get to me ((but))
from that point
we didn't do business as usual any more.

So, like I said, amazingly good and hilariously bad.

In particular, I wonder what the system's language model was thinking of. "Olga sticks"? "The power and the lactulose?" Maybe there's some connection with those "local milk people".

There's more fun where that came from, for example:

Automatic Captions My Transcription
every generation
matru Gooding must be refreshed with the
Board of patriot and timing
With every generation
the tree of liberty must be refreshed with the
blood of patriots and tyrants.



  1. Ben Hemmens said,

    August 19, 2017 @ 11:21 am

    Lactulose is actually an isomer of lactose that is formed by heat treatment, so not very present in milk in significant amounts unless you boil it for a while. It's interesting stuff because as far as your digestion goes it's a form of ‘soluble fibre’ – not absorbed in your small intestine but yummy for the bacteria in your colon, and it’s sold as a laxative. In most countries it’s available OTC. So there ya go. No random thing you can name but some damn expert pops up and explains it to you online ;-)

  2. maidhc said,

    August 20, 2017 @ 2:26 am

    His full name is Augustus Sol Invictus. Sol Invictus is the festival of the unconquered sun celebrated by the ancient Romans on Dec. 25. That is the first day after the winter solstice when the motion of the sun on the horizon is visible to the naked eye.

    While I can't speak for him, I suspect he wanted his surname to be Sol Invictus.

    Or if you wanted to annoy him, you could call him Gus Christmas.

    [(myl) Indeed. But given all that, I wonder why he introduced himself as plain "Augustus Invictus", without the Sol.

    "Gus Christmas" is good, but he'll always be "Olga Sticks" to me…]

  3. Eleanor said,

    August 21, 2017 @ 4:05 am

    "if you wanted to annoy him, you could call him Gus Christmas."

    'Gus Holidays'.

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