Messages like this may pop up in your Facebook messenger feed, or on any other social media channel. People who are lonely might actually respond, in which case they will be groomed for personal information or asked for money once a “relationship” is established.
Hallmarks of this particular scam are bad grammar and formatting, flattery, and requests for assistance.
These are not people looking for love, they are scammers and criminals. They want your money or your personal information. Shun them. Delete their messages. Never answer.
HELLO DEAR. My name is Miss Marvis Gaasu. I am glad to meet you here; Please, write me in this email id.(email@example.com). It very important.i wait your reply fast,Or you send me your email address,i will send you my photos and details your email address. Thanks.
If you respond, those photos they send you will most likely be stock pictures lifted from the internet.
Hello dear friend i am Kate Brown by name,i am interested to be your true friend.please I will like you to reply me with my email (firstname.lastname@example.org ) so that i can send you my own information for us to know each other very well. Thanks bye. email@example.com ❤ ❤
Interesting that all these scammers are using yahoo addresses. That’s another red flag.
Hello new friend, greeting to you. How was your days and health? Hope all is well with you. My name is Miss Favour Mercy, I am a female. I am interested in you after going through your profile on facebook, and i decided to contact you. I would like to get acquaint with you, As well to know you better. Please write me back through this email address: (obfuscated@yahoo .com) so that i can send you my picture and let you know more about me. Write me on my email address, because i do not use facebook very often, If you contact me on facebook, you may not probably get any reply from me. I am eager to hear from you soonest! Thanks for your answer: Yours new friend Miss Favour Mercy.
If you contact the scammer on Facebook, it’s very likely that their profile has already been deleted as being fraudulent.
Protect your vulnerable loved ones from this sort of thermonuclear douchebaggery.
We could learn from other nations… if we were willing to listen. It seems that’s what a “hearing” is supposed to be about.
The following text is from a Twitter thread written by Michael Grunwald (@MichaelGrunwald), and I thought it was important enough to share here in a more readable format. I originally saw it posted on Imgur and then a friend of mine on Facebook shared the same link with me. If something shows up a few times in succession in my life, I take it as a sign that it’s worth looking at, and this one definitely is.
I went to an obscure hearing today in the Danish Parliament. It blew my mind, not because of the substance, but because the US Congress has totally warped my view of hearings. And I’m just dorky enough to do a thread about it.
First of all, there was a dais in the hearing room, just like any congressional hearing, except the politicians weren’t on the dais. The six experts who were testifying were on the dais. Can you imagine? As if the hearing was about them and not the politicians?
The politicians were sitting in the front row of the audience. They all stayed in their seats for the entire hearing. And do you know what they did? They listened! I was in the second row and I didn’t see any of them look at a phone or talk to an aide at any time.
Actually, there was one politician on stage, the committee chair. She welcomed everyone, told the witnesses they would each have 10 minutes, then didn’t say anything until one witness asked for an extra minute. She said no. I swooned. ❤
Oh, did I mention this obscure hearing was simultaneously translated into English? They gave me cool high-tech headphones. I think everyone else in the audience spoke Danish but they take this stuff seriously.
Anyway, when the witnesses were done the politicians got their turn to speak. And none of them made speeches! They asked questions! Not leading questions designed to make a point. Thoughtful questions designed to get information!
This part really got me: The pols had to ask all their questions first, which took maybe 5 minutes, and then all the witnesses got to answer all of them, which took 20 minutes. The experts did the talking and the pols did the hearing. Is that how these things got their name?
I couldn’t tell which pols were in which party or what biases any of them had about the topic being discussed. It really seemed like they were there to learn. And by the end it was clear they had.
This thread is really about process, not substance, but I will say the topic was related to climate change, and everyone there took it seriously. One legislator told me only 4 or 5 of her 178 colleagues are deniers.
Anyway, the weirdest thing about this mostly banal experience was how weird it seemed. The lack of speechifying, grandstanding, partisanship or fake umbrage. How seriously they all took their responsibilities. The absence of bullshit.
In conclusion, we suck. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded how much we suck, and how it’s possible to suck less.
A Twitter thread by @MikeGrundwald.
I agree with every single word of this mini-essay, but I would like to add a bit of my own additional perspective on Mr. Grunwald’s conclusion.
As a nation, we don’t suck. Despite the fact that over the last 50 years or so we have lost our way in some areas and owe it to ourselves and to our global neighbors to improve¹, there are a lot of things that America has gotten right since its inception.
Our Constitution is unmatched in the history of the world. In 1835, French diplomat Alexis de Tocqueville toured America with a view to seeing if our democracy was worth of emulation by the French. In his book Democracy in America, he declared that our Constitution was “the most perfect federal constitution that ever existed,” but also warned that it would be “profitless in other hands.” In other words, the guarantees and protections and checks and balances written into our Constitution only work if the people desire democracy; any piece of parchment can be trodden down by the feet of a lawless mob.
We are still a welcoming nation. The growing xenophobic right-wing movement in our country still accounts for a minority of our population, and most people understand that America has always been a nation of immigrants. It is the exquisite blending and adapting of countless cultures that makes the United States a vibrant, thriving place.
The citizens of our country are, in the grand scheme of things, a very giving people. In many parts of the country – even those who tend to be politically conservative – people will reach out to neighbors and even strangers and literally give them the shirt off their backs. As the song Proud Mary by Creedence Clearwater Revival says, “If you come down to the river, Bet you gonna find some people who live; You don’t have to worry cause you have no money, People on the river are happy to give.”
Bagels. Blueberries. Hot dogs. Pizza. Jazz. Lobster rolls. NASA. Our National parks. Rolling plains and prairies, purple mountain majesties, redwood forests, beaches, fireflies, public libraries, road trips (at least, when there’s not a pandemic going on), Jewish deli sandwiches, Hollywood, Broadway, musea, and countless other things that make me grateful to be a citizen of this nation.
The Old Wolf has spoken.
¹ The things that need work in our country (areas in which we do suck) are also many, but they are subjects for other discussions. In the meantime, this is something good to remember as we contemplate ways to make our country better:
For the first time in over five years, I awoke this morning without a crushing sense of dread to read the news and find out what indignities our former administration had inflicted upon our country and upon the world. It was a literal sense of physical relief, and I still revel in it as I write this.
Over the last half-decade, political cartoonists have had a literal heyday. Never in my life has there been a president or an administration that was more thoroughly or more deservedly pilloried. If anyone wanted to anthologize all the cartoons that were done about the Orange Screechweasel and his abortive presidency, I suspect it would look like this (Volume 1): ¹
I collected a few of these over the years, more as a pressure valve than anything else and to reassure myself that it was not just me that felt these things, but I think the one that impacted me the most was this one that appeared on the morning after the 2016 election:
The eyes said it all. And although Mr. Rowe caught a lot of flak from American Trump Cultists among others, here on the morning of January 21, 2021, when the White House is occupied by President Joseph Biden, Jr., and Vice-President Kamala Harris, and a fresh, clean breeze of hope is blowing over our nation for the first time in far too long, it becomes clear that – as the saying goes – we had no idea. Mr. Rowe’s cartoon was spot-on, but dramatically understated. The horror would be far worse than anything any of us could have imagined.
There are a handful of online comics that I follow, less than a dozen and far fewer than in days past (I was always a fan of the daily funnies from my earliest days of reading The Herald Tribune in New York City), and one of the is “The New Adventures of Queen Victoria” by Pab Sungenis. The writer’s political satire has always been a favorite of mine, but the last two days of his strip pretty much say it all:
We survived. Sadly, some 400,000 of us did not – and counting – and while not all of those deaths from the Novel Coronavirus could have been avoided, a significant percentage could have been had there been functioning adults in the White House.
Well, now there are. And while no administration of either party is perfect, I feel more hope for the future now than even I did with the election of Barack Obama, whose campaign slogan was Hope and Change. He began the trend, and with this unwanted and hideous interlude behind us, I look forward to the reparation of as much damage as possible and forward motion to a nation that works for all of us, with no one left out, and a nation that can re-assume its position at the global table as a functioning, adult equal.
The inauguration yesterday morning was breathtaking in its honesty, in its beauty, and in its hopefulness. I literally wept tears of joy and release as I listened to the speeches, the poetry, and the music. It was exhilarating and cathartic.
May the 46th Administration of our great but suffering nation bring healing and progress. May we undertake effective new steps to protect our populace from the depredations of the current pandemics, one of a new and relatively unknown virus, and a second of ignorance and brainwashing by 50 years of spite and disinformation.
Our nation awakens to a fresh, new morning of hope. May we see that hope fulfilled more abundantly than our previous fears were.
The Old Wolf has spoken.
¹ Not to mention all the wonderful video parodies by people such as Randy Rainbow, late-night segments by John Oliver and Stephen Colbert and so many like them, and serious critical essays by the likes of John Pavlovitz, Heather Cox Richardson, Dan Rather, Jim Wright, and countless others. Just had to add this because they shouldn’t be forgotten.
My last post (The Cat Scan) was just an entry in my personal journal that I put there for my own future reference. I password-protected it because “too much information” that would not be interesting for anyone but me.
I just saw something come across my newsfeed about the “Great Barrington Declaration,” a document which essentially recommends against any Covid-19 protections, like social distancing and wearing masks, and promotes the development of herd immunity by exposing less-vulnerable people through living normal lives.
But consider this, from Wikipedia (emphasis mine.)
The World Health Organization and numerous academic and public-health bodies have stated that the proposed strategy is dangerous, unethical, and lacks a sound scientific basis.
They say that it would be impossible to shield all those who are medically vulnerable, leading to a large number of avoidable deaths among both older people and younger people with underlying health conditions, and they warn that the long-term effects of COVID-19 are still not fully understood. Moreover, they say that the herd immunity component of the proposed strategy is undermined by the limited duration of post-infection immunity. The more likely outcome, they say, would be recurrent epidemics, as was the case with numerous infectious diseases before the advent of vaccination. The American Public Health Association and 13 other public-health groups in the United States warned in a joint open letter that the Great Barrington Declaration “is not a strategy, it is a political statement. It ignores sound public health expertise. It preys on a frustrated populace. Instead of selling false hope that will predictably backfire, we must focus on how to manage this pandemic in a safe, responsible, and equitable way.”
The Great Barrington Declaration was authored by Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford, Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University, and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University.
The costs were paid for by the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian think tank that is part of a Koch-funded network of organizations associated with climate change denial.
These social inconveniences – and that’s what they are, not oppressive, draconian measures – are admittedly not fun. It is a pain not to see people’s smiling faces. It is difficult to not go places we want to go, see people we want to see, travel to other cities or countries, gather in restaurants and bars for fun and celebrations, enjoy blockbuster movies in theaters, see Broadway plays, be at the side of loved ones who are going through difficult times, attend weddings and Bat Mitzvahs and funerals and Christmas parties and all the things we used to take for granted. Yes, it’s a massive pain in the tuchus.
But it’s the only way we will continue to fight the spread of this very evil, very nasty virus that kills across all spectra and leaves countless others with reduced quality of life forever, until the healthcare researchers can understand this virus and develop effective treatments and viable vaccines.
If you have never worn a mask in public because you think the government is oppressing you, or that the liberal left is promulgating a hoax, and you’re exercising your rights as a free American, or something else equally inane, you’re not a patriot. You’re an asshole. You may be maiming or killing people. And you need to go home and re-examine your life.
This restaurant in Las Vegas has the right idea:
The supposed “FTBA Mask Exemption Cards” are bogus and carry no legal or social weight of authority. If someone gives you one of them, give them back one of these:
For the love of all that’s holy; for the sake of decency and caring about your own health and that of your fellow humans around you, wear a mask and practice social distancing until this pandemic is under control and treatments and vaccines are available.
The New York City I grew up in is gone. It has been replaced by a new city, different in many ways and with ongoing challenges, but not without an endless variety of vibrant neighborhoods and ethnic influences.
But I have to say that I deeply miss what “Little Italy” once was. It was the home of my ancestors, two wanderers from Italy who came alone from Calabria and Tuscany, met in the Big Apple, and raised a respectable family on the basis of hard work, faith, and thrift. And the Italian enclave of New York was a perfect place for them to live the American Dream.
The neighborhood as I knew it was busy and vibrant, full of local bakeries, pizzerias, streetside stalls, cigar stores, candy stores, stationery stores, butcher shops, and anything and everything a thriving community transplanted from the “old country” would need or want. But even then, the slow downward slide toward gentrification had begun.
Anyone who has seen “The Godfather, Part II” is familiar with the street festival during which Vito Corleone assassinates Don Fanucci. This is a portrayal based on the Festa di San Gennaro (The Feast of St. Januarius) which was brought to New York by immigrants from Naples in 1926 as a continuation of the celebration of their patron Saint. Originally a one-day celebration, the Festa continues to this day as an 11-day extravaganza (except in 2020, when it was cancelled due to the Covid outbreak); activities include Italian street food, sausages, zeppole (fried dessert balls otherwise known as “Italian doughnuts”), games of chance (often dishonest¹), music, cannoli-eating contests, vendors, parades, and the grand procession honoring the patron saint – the tradition of attaching money to the statue continues, with the funds designated to be used for the poor. In the past it has been a major tourist attraction, and hopefully it will be once again when the pandemic madness has passed.
But known to fewer people is the fact that there was a second Festa which took place along Sullivan Street in Greenwich Village during the ’60s: The Feast of St. Anthony of Padua. St. Anthony’s was established in 1859 as the first parish in the United States formed specifically to serve the Italian immigrant community. (Wikipedia)
I know of this because the celebration happened right under my window when I was living right on the corner of Prince and Sullivan, at 186 Prince Street.
Saint Anthony’s feast was not as big and grandiose as the one for San Gennaro, but it was more intimate and more homey. The noise and the ruckus and the celebration would last far into the night, and the sounds and the smells of Italian food was tantalizing.
Even kids got into the act. It was not uncommon to see a number of boys sitting along the street inviting others to play the “shot glass” game, in which pennies were dropped into a slot at the top of a large jar of water, with the aim of getting them into a shot glass at the bottom. Winners collected 10¢; those who had the knack of holding the coin by its edge and giving it a spin straight down could usually clean out their competition in short order, while others simply watched their coins gently float down to land outside the sweet spot.
Sadly the festival for St. Anthony has largely died out; efforts have been made to revive it, but due to the changing demographics of the Village and the reduction of Little Italy to a shadow of its former self, interest has waned and there has not been enough social momentum to bring it back to its former glory.
From what I am told, Italian festivals continue to be a big deal in other cities such as Boston, but these were the ones that I knew, and I miss them
The Old Wolf has spoken.
¹ I say this from personal experience. One game involved a long track in front of the stand, in which a shiny metal car was pushed; it would bounce back and forth between springs at each end (kind of a flat variation of the “wheel of chance”) and a pointer on the car would land in a given zone when it stopped. The very small center zone was highlighted for a major prize; others were smaller prizes or nothing. I gave it a shot (probably 25¢ a play) and watched the car land dead center in the grand prize. That was before the ride operator gave it a shove with her hand, which I saw very clearly. I walked away with a set of colored glasses which I gave to my mother, but I should have won something much better – can’t remember what it would have been. I was only 12 at the time and complaining would have done no good.
This post is taken from a series of tweets by Dr. Sarah Taber (@SarahTaber_bww). I’ve collected the tweets, edited them for clarity and brevity (sometime abbreviations help you meet Twitter’s length limit), and bowdlerized them just a bit for a family-friendly audience. If you don’t mind a bit of language, you can, of course, view the original thread here.
Most “ugly” produce gets turned into soups, sauces, salsa, jam, ice cream, etc. You think that stuff gets made from the pretty fruit and veggies?! Jeebus, think about it for a minute.
The amount of produce wasted because of labor problems (can’t get a crew to harvest) and bad weather (melons that rot in the field because it’s too hot and wet, etc) WAY outstrips produce thrown out because it’s “ugly.”
Because again… we eat a LOT ugly produce. You just wouldn’t know it because it’s salsa.
As someone who works in produce, this whole “ugly fruit” movement is actually kind of enraging because it’s completely disconnected from what really happens in the supply chain. It’s a big honkin’ wad of fraud that self-promoting foodies get away with because nobody knows better.
After it leaves the farm, most produce goes to a packinghouse. This is where they cool, wash, sort, and package it. In other words, it’s where the ugly fruit people think all this “waste” is happening.
he only time packinghouses throw out fruit is when IT’S ACTUALLY INEDIBLE. Like it’s either rotten or (in the case of one watermelon field that one time) it had rained so hard that the melons filled up with water and were completely tasteless. Also about to explode.
Produce gets graded by size, prettiness, and (sometimes) flavor/eating quality.
Know what happens to most of the produce that’s edible, has enough shape to survive in transit, but looks funny?
IT GOES TO THE GROCERY STORES THAT POOR PEOPLE SHOP AT.
In the broke times of my life I did not shop at farmers’ markets, because they’re at bizarre times when working class people are usually working or sleeping (late service sector nights = no 7 AM Saturday farmer’s market for you). Farmer’s Markets are built around the “9 to 5” white-collar schedule.
Most of your real poor people, when buying produce, get it from shops white collar people don’t go to.
Those shops stock ugly produce.
[The shops] that white collar people don’t go to. Then conclude, looking at their nice stores stocked with pretty No. 1 produce, that nobody’s eating the ugly stuff.
So there’s one beef. The “eat ugly fruit!” movement is as classist as it comes. You’ve got to have a debilitating level of ignorance to assume that if Whole Paycheck Market doesn’t stock ugly fruit, it must be getting “wasted.”
Back to the packinghouse. When produce is EXTREMELY UGLY, it goes into cull bins.
My fave cull bins to date:
Sweet potatoes. Did you know that they make a *lot* of giant, freaky-shaped spuds? Like a rat king of sweet potatoes, somewhere between football and basketball sized. What happens to these ugly, unloved sweet potatoes? OH WAIT THEY GET LOVED, THAT’S WHERE EVER-LOVIN’ SWEET POTATO FRIES COME FROM!
Apples. We love to say we don’t mind “spots on our apples,” but actual sales data tells us we really, really do. And honestly, we should. Even “cosmetic” lesions can make micro-breaks in the apple’s skin, allowing fungus to enter. One rotten apple, barrel, etc. Fugly apples ARE WHERE APPLE JUICE AND APPLE SAUCE AND APPLE CIDER AND APPLE BUTTER AND APPLE JELLY AND APPLE PIE COME FROM! “Wasted” my eye.
“But some apple variety are better for fresh eating, not processing!” D’ya think Hy-Vee brand apple juice from concentrate really cares at all that today’s shipment of cheap juicing-grade apples are not The Optimal For Juicing?
NO THEY’RE GONNA JUICE THAT STUFF!
Did you know: Honeycrisp apples are extra prone to a mostly-cosmetic skin defect called bitter pit?
Ergo, most Honeycrisp apples become apple juice. That’s why whole, fresh, pretty Honeycrisp apples cost so fricken’ much.
Because most of them become cheap bulk juicers.
Yes, every once in a while you’ll run into a variety of produce that only really works for fresh and doesn’t lend well to processing. This mostly happens with leafy greens (we don’t make … lettuce sauce), which is such a minuscule amount of the produce tonnage grown per year.
When produce is too far gone to sell and there’s no processing market (say, melons), it often gets fed to livestock.
That’s… actually a lot of the point of livestock, historically. They eat stuff we can’t and turn it into meat, milk, and eggs that we can.
Feeding crop and food waste to livestock also means we’re not having to use as much livestock-only cropland. Just assume that most years a certain percentage of human food crops will get messed up and become livestock feed, and that’s less pasture/grain land needed for livestock.
That Listeria outbreak in cantaloupe back in 2011? As best we can tell it happened because they fed ugly melons to cattle.
Which, in itself, is fine.
The problem is they kept driving the truck back into the cantaloupe shed AFTER getting its tires caked in cow poop during deliveries.
This whole “ugly fruit! uwu”¹ thing is bewildering because in order to believe that retail consumers can change the world by buying ugly fruit, you have to believe that the entire supply chain is made of numpties² who make a regular habit of leaving money on the table.
The food system is a hot mess but using ugly produce is one thing it’s actually really good at. Using every single part of what’s grown, if there’s any possible way to sell it.³
The one big source of food waste that I do worry about is crops that are perfectly good, and rot in the field because the farm can’t get anybody to harvest them. (Orrrrr they don’t want to pay enough for people to come harvest them.)
These labor shortages come down to 2 things:
Bad immigration policy
Farm business models that can’t survive a competitive labor market
(which kinda tends to feed back into that first one)
We SHOULD be worried about THAT. And “buy ugly fruit!” does virtually nothing to address it.
But those aren’t fun problems to fix, because they’re not the kinds of problems that the everyman consumer can fix by just making a simple yes/no choice in the supermarket.
They’re like … systemic or something.
Anyway, that’s my semiweekly grinching about shallow attempts to reform the food system that completely miss the point and at this point the ugly fruit thing is such an accepted belief that. like. you can’t even blame people for believing it, it’s absolutely everywhere.
I originally saw this posted on Facebook. What follows are some comments from a friend of mine who spent his entire career as an agricultural consultant and extension agent for a large midwestern university. I thought these contributed to the discussion.
Story 1: In college, I spent a couple of years in Cooperative Education working as a USDA fruit and vegetable inspector. My job was to examine a shipment of produce, pass or fail it on both cosmetic issues as well as actual decay. After the receiving company got his money back from the shipper (thanks to my report), he’d then sell the produce for top dollar. And I watched how the ugly produce would be separated and sold to organic food coops (because “that’s what organic produce looks like”…mind you, this was back in 1980, when organics were not regulated). I remember one case where we went to a pickle factory outside of Boston. The load of cucumbers came in with over 50% rotted. Have you ever seen a rotted cucumber? It’s basically a green water balloon…touch it and it explodes. After we finished the inspection, we sat in the receiver’s office while he negotiated with the shipper. After he got almost all of his money back, he hits the intercom and says “OK, run them!”. About 10 tons of rotted, slimy, water-balloon cucumbers were dumped into the pickle juice. It was nearly 10 years before I could eat pickles again.
Story 2: Early in my career with Extension, I had a farmer in southern Indiana who wanted to start an organic apple orchard. He was extremely well-educated, knew a heck of a lot more about apples and apple pests than I did. He fought this for 7 years before giving up. Because in the humid Ohio River Valley, you MUST use fungicides to prevent fungus diseases, or every fruit will develop unsellable spots. His entire crop, year after year, was only good for cider. And you cannot make a living growing cider grade apples. You MUST have a high percentage of US Number 1 apples that the fresh-eating public buys. And despite what all of my organic-gardener friends tell me…if you put out two bins of apples: 1 bin with perfect-looking fruits that are labelled “sprayed every week all season long” and 1 bin with spotted apples labelled “organic,” the sprayed bin will always be bought out quickly. Always.
Story 3: When younger, I took my kids to my local strawberry farmer for U-Pick berry picking. And I watched as the general public would only pick the biggest and most perfect berries. They would leave unpicked the smaller berries (which actually are sweeter than the big ones); they would leave the misshapen ones. And that’s if they were being generous…because the farmer could always pay his workers to go back over the field and pick the skipped-over fruit. But no…the public would pick the less-than-perfect fruit, and toss it or smash it because it wasn’t good enough for them. And that is waste.
¹ “UwU” is an alphabetic emoji representing a cute or smug face. You might see it as this:
² British for “morons.”
³ Just recently I saw this ad show up on my Facebook wall:
I was first introduced to the world of automated translation in 1977 via Brigham Young University’s TSI (Translation Sciences Institute) which later spawned ALPS (Automated Language Translation Systems); I worked at both enterprises as a linguistic programmer.
It’s a huge field now, much more than it was in the ’60s and ’70s when the technologies and theories were merely a-borning; much has been written about automated translation since the ’60s and even earlier. The history is out there on the Net if you want to do your own research ¹ (and that doesn’t mean watching two hours of YouTube videos that tell you what you want to hear). There’s also some funny stuff out there. ²
A post from one of my Facebook friends and translation colleagues was the source for some Japanese text; this is just a raw comparison, and you can draw your own conclusions or dig deeper if you want. Or don’t. But it’s something that fascinates me, and I could study it for a lifetime. Wait, I did. Whatevs.
Google Translate began by using statistical machine translation (SMT), which uses the analysis of huge bilingual text corpora to generate translation based on statistical models. They later moved to a combination of SMT and neural machine translation (NMT) which uses an artificial neural network to predict the likelihood of a sequence of words.
DeepL is a relative newcomer to the automated translation scene, but has received high praise from translators and governments alike. It uses neural machine translation, but its power comes from the massive Linguee database. While it currently works with only 11 languages as compared to Google Translate’s 109, the results appear to be consistently better and more natural.
Below you will find two examples of highly colloquial Japanese and the output from the three different translation engines.
えーーー？だれ？もっていっちゃったのは！たぶん、カメラに写っているよね。返してー (Eeee? Dare? Motte itchatta no wa! Tabun, kamera ni utsutte iru yo ne. Kaeshitee)
What? Who is this? I took it! Maybe it’s on the camera. Give it back
Eh? Who? What I brought! Maybe it’s in the camera. Return
Ehhh? Who is it? I’m the one who took it! Maybe you can see it in the camera. I want it back.
そんなことをする人には絶対にばちが当たるヨ〜 (Son’na koto o suru hito ni wa zettai ni ba chi ga ataru yo 〜)
People who do such a thing will never win ~
People who do such a thing will definitely be hit
People who do such things are going to pay dearly for it.
Neural network translation is interesting in that repeated submission of a single phrase can often result in different outputs:
返してー 返して. 返してー
when given to DeepL results in:
I want it back. Give it to me. Give it back to me.
Whereas the original phrase reduplicated (返してー返して.) produces:
Give it back! Give it back! Give it back!
The technology has made multiple quantum leaps since the earliest forays into automated translation. My Pixel 3XL phone is many times more powerful than the IBM 370/138 that BYU was using to develop their one-to-many interactive translation system based on Junction Grammar, both in storage capacity and processing speed. To be very honest, I don’t know what kind of hardware these systems are running on, whether distributed or mainframe or supercomputers that are capable of processing whigabytes of data at processing speeds that almost don’t have enough greek prefixes to describe. I just know they’re big, and fast, and they’re only getting bigger and faster all the time.
That said, translation, particularly literary translation, is just as much of an art form as it is a mechanical process, one that has cognitive components that no computer will ever be able to duplicate. No machine would ever be capable of translating Les Misérables into English, or Harry Potter into Hebrew, for example, and preserve the wonder of language; I challenge any machine, now matter how sophisticated or fast, to translate things like this:
“I stepped off the train at 8 P.M. Having searched the thesaurus in vain for adjectives, I must, as a substitution, hie me to comparison in the form of a recipe. Take a London fog 30 parts; malaria 10 parts; gas leaks 20 parts; dewdrops gathered in a brick yard at sunrise, 25 parts; odor of honeysuckle 15 parts. Mix. The mixture will give you an approximate conception of a Nashville drizzle. It is not so fragrant as a moth-ball nor as thick as pea-soup; but ’tis enough – ’twill serve. I went to a hotel in a tumbril. It required strong self-suppression for me to keep from climbing to the top of it and giving an imitation of Sidney Carton. The vehicle was drawn by beasts of a bygone era and driven by something dark and emancipated.” -O. Henry – “A Municipal Report”
The need for human translators is in no danger, and never will be – but that’s not to say that technological advances have not brought both advantages and disadvantages to human translators. Back in the day, it was pencil and paper, and hard-copy dictionaries, and rolodexes. Now it’s translation memories and electronic dictionaries and segmentation systems that allow for rapid recall of already-translated words and phrases and best-guessing (fuzzy matching) for things that are close. This speeds up the work and increases consistency, but as a result translation agencies have taken to telling translators that they’ll pay, for example, 9¢ per word for new material, but only 4¢ for fuzzy matches, and almost nothing for 100% matches. This means that translators have to turn out much more material to generate the same amount of income – but what agencies don’t care about is that every word needs to be processed and reviewed through the skillset of the translator as though it were brand-new. What’s more, the proliferation of free online translation services means that any schlub in India or China can claim to be a translator and charge 2¢ per word, and the agencies love that – but in exchange they’re getting lousy output and dragging down the rates of pay for the entire industry – which is exactly why I got out of the business of freelance translation. It’s a crime, and I won’t put up with it.
The Old Wolf has spoken, Der Alte Wolf hat gesprochen. Le vieux loup a parlé. Il vecchio lupo ha parlato.
¹ If you want to dig into the history of machine translation, you can start here, following the references at the end of the article for more. Warning: It’s a very, very deep rabbit hole.
Yesterday Bernie Sanders ended his campaign. After 7 years of supporting his runs for President, it was a difficult moment. I will take exactly 24 hours to grieve for the lost dream of an administration that would put the American citizen first, instead of wealthy corporations and oligarchs… and then I will go back to working for that dream, much as Bernie has done for the last 4 decades in the face of continual opposition and derision.
It will happen. Just not on this day.
Political winds shift regularly, and the political pendulum swings over time. What makes the “Bernie Revolution” so critical in our day is that the pendulum of ideology has swung so far to the right over the last 40 years that putting a moderate or centrist Democrat in the White House will only be good enough to slow the progress of our society toward an evangelical fascist nation, the beginnings of which have been painfully evident in the most gangrenous *administration I have experienced in my almost 70 years of life.
America doesn’t need a moderate right now, it needs a more radical approach to governmental transformation, and Bernie would have been just the ticket.
There’s an old aphorism floating around out there that basically says “If you aim for the trees you’ll hit the ground, but if you aim for the stars you’re more likely to hit the trees.”
Anyone who’s ever practiced archery or marksmanship knows this. If you want to shoot higher, you need to aim much higher than your target, and any candidate who tries to get elected by promising to preserve the status quo is guaranteed to hit the ground and not the target, only dooming America to a continued march toward corporate-funded despotism.
Bernie had thoughts about just about everything. For reference, a basic list of his positions, consistent over decades is found below.
Capital Punishment / Death Penalty: Abolish it Cash Bail Reform: End it Cocaine Sentencing Disparities: Scrap the disparity Mandatory Minimum Sentences Reform: Eliminate them Private Prisons: Eliminate them Election Security: Mandate paper ballots Affordable Housing: Construction funding, rent control and taxes to curb speculation Big Banks: Bring back Glass-Steagall Income Inequality: Raise taxes on the wealthy, create new social programs Minimum Wage: Raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour Paid Leave: Support several months of broad paid leave Reparations: Study reparations Charter Schools: Restrict charter school growth Cost of College: College should be free Student Debt: Cancel all student debt Teacher Pay: Boost teacher pay Campaign Finance: Unlimited spending should not be allowed in politics Electoral College: The Electoral College should be eliminated Felon Voting: Felons should be allowed to vote while incarcerated Nuclear Power: Support closing down existing nuclear power reactors Oil and gas drilling: Ban fracking everywhere Reducing carbon emissions: Impose government regulations Farm Economy: Break up agribusiness Farming and Climate Change: Pay farmers to adopt climate-friendly practices Nutrition: Universal free meals in schools Rights for Farm Owners and Workers: Expand farm worker protections, but no specific plans for USDA civil rights Assault Weapons: Support a voluntary buyback program Background Checks: In favor of universal background checks Bernie Sanders’ views on: Abortion ACA / Coverage Expansion: All in on Medicare for All Drug Costs: Importation and patent breaking Medicare For All: Medicare for All or bust DACA: Citizenship for Dreamers Illegal Entry: Repeal the statute The Wall: Don’t support additional wall funding Transportation: Boost infrastructure spending, but no stated funding mechanism Legalizing Marijuana: Legalize it Marijuana Convictions: Scrapping past pot convictions Defense Spending: Slash the defense budget Overseas Deployments: Bring the troops home Capital Gains Taxes: Increase the capital gains tax rate Corporate Income Taxes: Eliminate tax breaks for “offshoring.” Wealth Taxes: Create special taxes on wealth Rural Broadband: Create a public option for broadband Social Media: We should consider holding companies legally liable for user posts Tech Competition & Antitrust: Break them up China: Support the goal, change the approach NAFTA / USMCA: Against the USMCA Tariffs: Use tariffs to crack down on certain countries TPP 2.0: Oppose joining CPTPP or opposed TPP
I don’t think even the most radical of Bernie’s supporters convinced themselves that every one of these platform planks could be enacted into law. But every one is something that would make life better for all citizens, not just Democrats.
If we could get the three I have highlighted in red enshrined in American law – A decent minimum wage, universal single-payer healthcare, and repealing Citizens United – it would go a long way toward creating a better life for every American.
There’s no question that I’m sad. I know that there are people out there who will be exulting in the copious “liberal tears” that are being shed at the moment, and I’m sad for them as well – because they’re essentially cutting off their nose to spite their face.
Bernie will continue serving the American people without compromising his principles as a senior Senator as he has always done, and until he can serve no more. There will come a day when he will go the way of all the earth, and it is my fervent hope that there will be those who come after – young people like AOC, or others who have not yet arisen – who will mature in government service and pick up Bernie’s torch. In the meantime I will do what I can to support progressive candidates who will work to build a world that works, in the words of R. Buckminster Fuller,
“for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.”
As I commented to a Facebook acquaintance, I am approaching the twilight of my life, and in these uncertain days one never knows how much time is left. When my own time comes, I need to be able to go down to my grave knowing that I did all that I could to leave the world a better place for my children and grandchildren; I need to be able to look them in the eye and say that I voted for freedom, for prosperity, for equality, and for human dignity. For me – and your mileage may vary – to support the current occupant of the White House for another 4 years would be voting to keep my posterity in a state of servitude to the wealthy, to say to them in effect “You must remain poor. You do not deserve a living wage. You do not deserve affordable healthcare. In order to get an education, you must undertake a lifetime of debt. You girls do not deserve the right to choose your destinies, you must submit to abuse at the hands of any man who feels like you are nothing more than property, and if you happen to become pregnant, too bad for you. You have no choice.” This I cannot do.
This was an odd one. It happened at a Naval Air Station, where people essentially carry weapons for a living. So that muddies the water a bit. And, it turns out that the perp was a Saudi national, and an aviation student to boot, which raises a *whole* lot of questions in my mind, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Before anything else, my heart is broken for those impacted; the victims, their families, and their loved ones. People die every day from all sorts of reasons – illness, unavoidable accidents, natural causes, even violence – but death by terrorism is especially hard on those left behind. And I make no apologies for calling it that. I am deeply sorry for your loss.
But now comes the summum bonum of this post: According to CBS News, ” The number of mass shootings across the U.S. thus far in 2019 has outpaced the number of days this year, according to a gun violence research group. Before this year has even ended, 2019 has already had more mass shootings than any year since the research group started keeping track.”
This doesn’t even take into account the little ones. Individual shootings by unbalanced or patently evil people. As of today, the total is 36,518. Now, in terms of national statistics, that’s only roughly 3/4 the number of deaths by suicide from any cause, according to the CDC, and almost the same number as automobile fatalities in 2018. So some might argue that in terms of overall numbers, it’s not a big deal.
But it is. It’s a big deal. It’s too many, and too horrible, and too traumatizing, and gun violence takes adults, and children, and breaks hearts and shatters families and reduces our safety (the NRA would argue the opposite) and the quality of our life.
So here’s the question, directed at those of my friends and associates who fall on the “cold, dead hands” side of the equation:
What are you going to do to stop this carnage. What are you doing right now to make sure that guns don’t get into the wrong hands, the hands of people who will use them to destroy the innocent?
I exhort you: don’t get me wrong. I support the 2nd Amendment as long as it remains part of the Constitution.
These are patches and such that I earned as a youth. I remain proud of them to this day. I learned gun safety and responsibility and enjoyed target shooting immensely. (Thanks, Hutch.) We own a 30-30. I’m not a “gun grabber,” as the NRA loves to pigeonhole people who advocate for gun control. But the situation today has far exceeded what I consider madness.
The courts have repeatedly ruled that you have the right to assemble an arsenal that would be the envy of a small nation. I think that if the Founders, in their wisdom, could see what that those 27 words had wrought in our day and age, they would weep in outrage and promptly need to go home and change their pants. But that’s my interpretation, and the wisdom of the 2nd is not what I’m discussing. It’s a fact, and we need to deal with things as they are.
I think our nation would be far safer if there were no guns in private hands, but if the right to bear arms is never going away, it needs to be tempered with a responsibility to bear arms safely, and I support treating guns in the same way we treat cars, none of which contravenes the wording of the 2nd Amendment:
Gun owners should be trained, licensed, and insured for each type of weapon owned.
All weapons should be annually registered, inspected, and taxed.
So what are your solutions? How will you preserve your rights and still stop the daily carnage? Change my mind.
¹ Note: I’m inviting comments for this post, despite the fact that it’s a divisive and often inflammatory issue. I have attempted to be as impartial and even-handed as possible in laying out my feelings. Comments that are ad-hominem attacks (i.e. “You gun-grabbing pussy!”) or not based on reason (“I disagree!”) will simply be deleted without ever being seen. I want to know how you would fix things, and preserving the status quo is not an option. So choose your words wisely.