Category Archives: Mermaids

“The King of France is Bald” is Tricky

The king of France is bald. What does this mean? Is it this? ∃x [KingOfFrance(x) ∧ ∀y [KingOfFrance(y) → x=y] ∧ Bald(x) Or maybe this? How about this? All of these depictions are useful. The translation of natural language into predicate calculus—pioneered … Continue reading

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English Has Over 1.5 Billion Meanings for the Word Snow

I was once at an Elvis Costello concert where he told the audience that the first song he ever wrote was in the key of E minor. It was called “‘Winter’”, he added, his ominous tone of voice getting a … Continue reading

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English Has No Word For

The kind of detritus—rubber bands, thumbtacks, orphaned fasteners, possibly dead batteries—that collects in drawers. A rock or brick left next to a locked door of a common area (the rear entrance of an apartment building, say, or a laundry room) … Continue reading

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Whorf and Whoop

As a member of Generation X, I can’t stand Millennials. Their sense of entitlement, their social-media driven narcissism, their inability to put their smart phones down for one moment and have a conversation like normal human beings. But mostly what … Continue reading

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I Dream of Digits

Boltz the robot can read digits. If you hold up a handwritten digit in front of him, Boltz will say it aloud. “Two. Five. Two. Seven. Zero.” He is as good at this as a person is. The only digits … Continue reading

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Proposed New Vocabulary: Omnispiel

A recorded phrase that you hear frequently in your daily life. It can’t arrive through media channels, but rather must be part of your immediate physical environment. Most typically a recording attached to some piece of equipment. “Hello and welcome to … Continue reading

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The Meaning of Life

Right-clicking on a highlighted word in my web browser brings up a menu that gives me the option of either looking up that word or searching for it on Google. The first option returns a dictionary and thesaurus definition. The … Continue reading

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