Category Archives: Mermaids

It’s Frank’s World, the Rest of Us Just Live in It

Ferdinand de Saussure: Meaning is difference. Claude Shannon: Difference can be quantified. Alan Turing: Quantification can be automated. Go! Advertisements

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At the Institute for Primate Communication

“NEW SIGN. WE MAKE. YOU SEE.” At first I thought I might have been misinterpreting BoBo, but he kept repeating the signs until it was clear what he meant. “YES YOU SEE” Dian added. “WE MAKE SIGN. YOU HAPPY.” Noam … Continue reading

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“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

Posted in Mermaids, Those that have just broken the flower vase | 2 Comments