Phon-kemon, gotta catch ‘em all!
Google Translate adds gendered stereotypes when translating from Turkish, which doesn’t mark gender in these sentences: “o” means both “she” and “he”. For example, “o mutlu” could translate just as correctly to “she is happy” and “o mutsuz” to “he is unhappy” but Google Translate favours the version that perpetuates a whole bunch of stereotypes – stereotypes that were, no doubt, present in the training data. (source, additional commentary, article with more information about how AI learns sexism and racism).
oh man, now I want to illustrate ALL of these!!
It’s hard to come up with ideas for Halloween costumes, especially when it seems like all the good ones are taken. And don’t you hate showing up at a party only to discover that there’s *another* pajama cardinalfish?
I train neural networks, a type of machine learning algorithm, to write humor by giving them datasets that they have to teach themselves to mimic. They can sometimes do a surprisingly good job, coming up with a metal band called Chaosrug, a craft beer called Yamquak and another called The Fine Stranger (which now exists!), and a My Little Pony called Blue Cuss.
So, I wanted to find out if a neural network could help invent Halloween costumes. I couldn’t find a big enough dataset, so I crowdsourced it by asking readers to list awesome Halloween costumes. I got over 4,500 submissions.
The most popular submitted costumes are the classics (42 witches, 32 ghosts, 30 pirates, 22 Batmans, 21 cats (30 incl sexy cats), 19 vampires, and 17 each of pumpkins and sexy nurses). There are about 300 costumes with “sexy” in their names; some of the most eyebrow-raising include sexy anglerfish, sexy Dumbledore, sexy golden pheasant, sexy eyeball, sexy Mothra, Sexy poop emoji, Sexy Darth Vader, Sexy Ben Franklin, Sexy TARDIS, Sexy Cookie Monster, and Sexy DVORAK keyboard. In the “technical challenge” department, we have costumes like Invisible Pink Unicorn, Whale-frog, Glow Cloud, Lake Michigan, Toaster Oven, and Garnet.
All this is to say that humans are very creative, and this task was going to be tricky for a neural network. The sensible approach would be to try to use a neural network that actually knows what the words mean - there are such things, trained by reading, for example, all of Google News and figuring out which words are used in similar ways. There’s a fun demo of this here. It doesn’t have an entry for “Sexy_Gandalf” but for “sexy” it suggests “saucy” and “sassy”, and for “Gandalf” it suggests “Frodo”, “Gollum”, and “Voldemort”, so you could use this approach to go from “Sexy Gandalf” to “Sassy Voldemort”.
I wanted something a bit weirder. So, I used a neural network that learns words from scratch, letter by letter, with no knowledge of their meaning, an open-source char-rnn neural network written in Torch. I simply dumped the 4500 Halloween costumes on it, and told the neural network to figure it out.
Early in the training process, I decided to check in to see how it was doing.
Sexy sexy Dombie Sexy Cat
Sexy A stare Rowan
Sexy RoR A the Rog
Sexy Purbie Lampire
Sexy Por Man
Pombie Con A A Cat
The Ran Spean Sexy Sexy Pon Sexy Dander
The Gull Wot
In retrospect, I should have expected this. With a dataset this varied, the words the neural network learns first are the most common ones.
I checked in a little later, and things had improved somewhat. (Omitted: numerous repetitions of “sexy nurse”). Still the only thing that makes sense is the word Sexy.
Sexy The Carding Ging
Farbat of the Cower
Sexy The Hirler
A cardian of the Pirate
Sexy the Girl Pirate
By the time I checked on the neural network again, it was not only better, but astoundingly good. I hadn’t expected this. But the neural network had found its niche: costume mashups. These are actually comprehensible, if a bit hard to explain:
A masked box
The shark knight
Gandalf the Good Witch
Vampire big bird
Other costumes were still a bit more random.
Aldonald the Goddess of the Chicken
Celery Blue Frankenstein
Dragon of Liberty
A shark princess
Statue of Witch
Giant Two butter
The Twin Spider Mermaid
The Game of Nightmare Lightbare
The Rocky Monster
Statue of pizza
The Spiding hood
A card Convention
The Little Pond
Spice of pokeman
Bill of Liberty
Count Drunk Doll of Princess
Statue of the Spice of the underworker
It still was fond of using made-up words, though. You’d be the only one at the party dressed as whatever these are.
A masked scorby-babbersy
Magic an of the foand tood-computer
A cat loory Duck
Minional marty clown
Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon
A neaving hold
Sexy Avical Ster of a balana Aly
Huntle starber pirate
And it ended up producing a few like this.
Sexy scare costume
General Scare construct
The reason? Apparently someone decided to help out by entering an entire costume store’s inventory. (”What are you supposed to be?” “Oh, I’m Mens Deluxe IT Costume - Size Standard.”)
There were also some like this:
Rink Rater Ginsburg
A winged boxer Ginsburg
Bed ridingh in a box Buther Ginsburg
Zombie Fire Cith Bader Ginsburg
Because someone had entered about 50 variations on Ruth Bader Ginsberg puns (Ruth Tater Ginsberg, Sleuth Bader Ginsber, Rock Paper Ginsberg).
It invented some awesome new superheroes/supervillains.
Glow Wonder Woman
Super of a bog
Skull Skywolk lady
Skynation the Goddess
Fred of Lizard
And oh, the sexy costumes. Hundreds of sexy costumes, yet it never quite got the hang of it.
Sexy the Pumpkin
Sexy the Pirate
Sexy Pumpkin Pirate
Sexy Gumb Man
Sexy The Gate
Sexy Ducty monster
Sexy the Bumble
Sexy the Super bass
Pretty zombie Space Suit
Sexy the Spock
You bet there are bonus names - and oh please go read them because they are so good and it was so hard to decide which ones to fit into the main article. Includes the poop jokes. You’re welcome.
I’ve posted the entire dataset as open-source on GitHub.
And you can contribute more costumes, for a possible future neural net upgrade (no email address necessary).
Next time I go to a Halloween party, I’m going to write a couple dozen of these on index cards, fasten them to string, and drape it around myself. It’ll be a Halloween Costume Neural Network Halloween Costume.
shared for the image...
man, I want a stamp that says "THIS DOCUMENT DOES NOT EXIST" like that. Also, that's a pretty darn sweet seal on that envelope...
Attention all intrepid postal aficionados! There are three brand new projects available to test your mailing mettle. That means there are now nine badges you can earn. The previous tasks are joined by
- Secrets Can you keep a secret? We hope so.
- School Days Revisit the classroom with mail art.
- Prohibited Push the limits of what can be mailed.
Push the boundaries of your correspondence by enrolling in the Initiative Response. This program is a call and response, based on themes and culminating in the endowment of an emblem upon completion of the tasks. Each initiative has three tasks you need to complete in order to be awarded that initiative's emblem. There is no time-limit or obligation to complete these tasks. Only those who submit completed initiatives will be awarded emblems.
Additionally, you can now choose to download the tasks. No stopping, no waiting for this creativity train. Of course, we have left the option of receiving your missions via the mail, but you can save a few pennies and us a stamp or two if you got the digital route. All mailed Initiatives are $12 while their downloadable options are $10. Looking forward to see what you come up with!
Hahaha, oh man this is beautiful!
A quick explanation:
- Pokémon only say their species name
- This Meowth appears to be able to converse with the trainer
- Meowth* says that it is in fact only saying its name, thus behaving as all other Pokémon
*thus it is not actually a ‘Meowth’ but a species of a name that consists of every utterance it ever said or will say
- If its linguistic behavior is indistinguishable from a human’s linguistic behavior, who is to say that humans aren’t also only saying their species name over the course of their lifetime?
One of the reasons this is brilliant is because “infinite utterances with finite resources” is a key tenet of human language. We (humans) can respond to unexpected situations with novel, unexpected, and unique utterances. In other words, how could every single utterance be pre-programmed into us, when (at our birth), there are words that don’t yet exist that we will use in our lifetime? Concepts we can’t imagine now? Things that don’t exist yet?
(remember this? who could have predicted this headline when you were born?)
For instance, Pokémon: Pokémon was released in 1996. If you were born before then, there would have to be a remarkable coincidence in genetics and biology for your pre-programmed linguistic behavior to include that word (as so many other people also, coincidentally, had that word programmed into them).
This isn’t logical.
Unless, the universe itself is pre-programmed. Freaking out yet?
Don’t worry, quantum physics suggests that this can’t be the case (or at least is highly implausible). The universe is too unpredictable to be pre-programmed. So what does that leave us with?
If something can produce linguistic behavior (i.e., utterances) that are indistinguishably similar to humans’ linguistic behaviors, this means that it can (seemingly) respond appropriately to otherwise unexpected circumstances. After all, the endangered ferrets can be discussed, as can Pokémon, as can whatever else is going on in the news. If the universe is too unpredictable to be preprogrammed, then utterances can’t be preprogrammed in our genetic code or in our brains. Unless we’re all just very lucky all the time…?
Anyway, this is a great demonstration of how a thought experiment can help you test hypotheses about language. It’s not 100% conclusive, but it’s a good way to start thinking about how one might test a hypothesis, or what one would need to find in order to support or disprove a hypothesis.
This is the most amazing and elaborate addition to the novel sentences files yet.
This is so true.
I'm at level 5, working my way towards level 6...
I found a new book binding blog! Inactive for over a year but .... fingers crossed! maybe they'll come back!
Last of the headbanding posts, I promise!
I saved the best one for now.. This book is 1984 by George Orwell. And it has amazing pictures in it, some of which I have posted already when I blogged about the endpapers. All of the pictures are in hues of brown/grey/black.. But they also have an occasional green or red accents. So to make them stand out, I decided on red and green headbands.
Yes, this does make it a bit christmassy. But I added a small twist for my top graphite edge.. (also, if you look closely, there is another small bloodstain in the bottom of this book, not sure how I keep on puncturing my fingers while sewing)
See! The colours aren’t that christmassy anymore. And it has this very cool disruption by the invasion of the grey/brown/black colours (just like in the pictures!). You can already guess that I’m quite proud of this. Sorry for that.
I wanted C to be for cats, but thought it ought to be for calligraphy.
Fortunately my brain rejects anything serious, and so I bring you – Calligraphic Cats!
I adapted the shapes from the two catlike beasts from the luttrell psalter and I think they work well.
Cats are in laid and couched work. I’m doing most of the lettering in split stitch.
I’m not entirely sure “calligraphic” is an actual word, but I don’t care/.
sounds like the next round of accessories "someone" might need to get...
I've known for some time that using flash was the answer, but figuring out HOW was another story. John and I've chatted with lots of pros over the years, but most have heavy equipment or tripods and umbrellas to lug around. We were especially awed by one guy who set up two big flash strips in the shape of an L, because his photos had a completely blacked-out background, without the use of a backdrop. He wasn't mobile, though; he had to set up the lights and then get cosplayers to come to him, which is definitely not my style. (I like the hunt, chasing 'em down.)
I follow a few convention photographers online (you can't beat David Ngo for sheer quantity, btw, if you're looking), and one of the greats, Tristan Dudine, also has blacked-out backgrounds, like this:
I first thought he did these in a studio, so when a mutual friend told me nope, Tristan shoots AT the convention, it kind of blew my mind. Newly inspired, John and I began searching online for answers. We discovered there's a whole subset of photographers who do this, called "strobists." Again, though, most seem to use fairly cumbersome equipment, while we were determined to be completely mobile: no tripods, no umbrellas, no bulky or heavy gear.
Two days and dozens of photography boards, reviews, and tutorials later, John ordered these flashes from Amazon along with these diffusers. Next he moved to the garage to build some custom handles, and within three days we were taking practice shots of our Jawa. (Not the most cooperative model, but hey, she works for free.)
As luck would have it, MetroCon was happening that weekend in Tampa, so we packed up the crew, got a grip, came quick, grabbed the proton packs on our backs, and we split. (Bobby Brown is my jam. WHAT.)
John and I spent a deliriously wonderful day at MetroCon. We were running on about 3 hours sleep, but DANG was Metro a great con! I had no idea! There were Disney and Hamilton sing-alongs in the lobby, every other vendor had adorable plushies and chibi cuteness, and man oh man, sooo many great costumes! I could go on for pages about how MetroCon has single-handedly turned me on to anime conventions, but you're here for photography stuff, I know, so let's get back to that.
First, let me show you some of the successful shots we took that day, all on the vendor floor in the middle of the crowd:
(I'm trying to play it cool, but this is like magic to me, you guys. I'M A LITTLE EXCITED.)
I like that we were able to light most - if not all - of the body sometimes. Most strobist photos are from the waist up, and with good reason, which I'll get to in a sec.
» Read More
Every month that Patreon funding remains over the $400 mark I sift through my back catalog and bring up a selection of maps that my patrons then vote on as to which will be released under the free commercial-use license. This month we start by releasing the Kraken on a recent favourite – The Lost Ossuary!
The Lost Ossuary is a small dimensional rift beneath the Lobachevsky Church. Cut out of the stone beneath the church as a set of crypts and ossuaries, the Lost Ossuary displays bizarre geometries to those who would try to map it out. Routings through the Ossuary make little sense, with paths connecting with far less than 360 degrees of angle between them, and some secret passages connecting areas that should be hundreds of feet apart.
To confuse matters more, the ossuary has two types of construction – rough hewn crypts and the carefully built ossuaries and tombs. Both areas are completely contiguous, and yet seem to cut each other up at times. In all, the structure is a nightmare for any who would try to map it out.
This is of course because the planar topology of the Ossuary is a cube – however this is never apparent to those within it – the faces do not involve any changes in angles – the floors remain consistent and flat instead of switching by 90 degrees as one walks over the “angle” in the cube.
Exploring the cube will probably result in some weird maps… here’s a very simple map of just part of the crypts themselves that ends in the same room in two different locations, reached through two different doors.
In time, any attempt to map the Ossuary from the inside will result in a map that crosses over itself and comes back from point A to point A with those two locations at wildly different parts of the map.
The Lost Ossuary works not only for classic fantasy gaming, but would be a perfect spot for a bit of adventure in a Call of Cthulhu campaign (non-Euclidean geometry), or for other games that deal in strange places and possible hyper-tech (Numenera, The Strange, or something happening just inside a rift in Rifts).
Once the adventure is over, however, it might be fun to show the party exactly what was causing all the chaos.
Here I’ve taken the map and made it into an actual cube to show how the halls and chambers connect.
I printed it on some fairly heavy paper stock (it would be significantly easier to assemble using cardstock, mind you) and trimmed it so that there were tabs that I could use to assemble it. A bit of glue or tape and it goes from 2 dimensional to 3.
And for those who prefer their maps without a grid – here is the Lost Ossuary again:
This map is made available to you under a free license for personal or commercial use under the “RELEASE THE KRAKEN” initiative thanks to the awesome supporters of my Patreon Campaign. Over 400 awesome patrons have come together to fund the site and these maps, making them free for your use.
Because of the incredible generosity of my patrons, I’m able to make this map free for commercial use also. Each month while funding is over the $400 mark, we choose a map from the blog’s extensive back catalog to retroactively release under this free commercial license. You can use, reuse, remix and/or modify the maps that are being published under the commercial license on a royalty-free basis as long as they include attribution (“Cartography by Dyson Logos” or “Maps by Dyson Logos”). For those that want/need a Creative Commons license, it would look something like this:
Cartography by Dyson Logos is licensed
under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Charles Frederick Worth | Evening Gown | c.1898
A superb example of dressmaking from the House of Worth, this dress exhibits the aesthetic of the last years of the nineteenth century. The fashionable reverse S-curve silhouette of the dress and the dramatic scroll pattern of the textile reflect the influence of the Art Nouveau movement. The striking graphic juxtaposition of the black velvet on an ivory satin ground creates the illusion of ironwork, with curving tendrils emphasizing the fashionable shape of the garment. In order to achieve this effect, the textile was woven à la disposition, with the intent that each piece would become a specific part of the dress. With this technique, the design of the fabric is intrinsic to the design of the dress.
#whattheywore #historicalfashion #fashion #fashiondesign #fashionhistory #historyoffashion #vintagefashion #art #vintage #historicfashion #defunctfashion #historicalfashion #costume #costumedesign #couture #costumehistory #histoireducostume #historiadamoda #weddinggown #weddingdress
#wedding #legomuttonsleeve #victorian #victorianfashion #houseofworth #charlesfrederickworth
Autonomous Trap 001
“What you’re looking at is a salt circle, a traditional form of protection—from within or without—in magical practice. In this case it’s being used to arrest an autonomous vehicle—a self-driving car, which relies on machine vision and processing to guide it. By quickly deploying the expected form of road markings—in this case, a No Entry glyph—we can confuse the car’s vision system into believing it’s surrounded by no entry points, and entrap it.”
using salt circle motor runes to trap driving AI is the most cyberpunk thing I’ve ever seen
It’s easy to find words that distinguish between other voiced/voiceless pairs in English - bus and buzz, fine and vine - but the two sounds represented by the “th” sequence in English are rarer and harder to learn, especially since English uses the same spelling for both of them.
A lot of people give up and just use near-minimal pairs like “think” and “this”, or “theta” and “they”, but there are actually a few true minimal pairs that you can use:
thigh - thy
ether - either
thistle - this’ll
It’s worth noting that function words in English, like pronouns, prepositions, and determiners, tend to have ð, while content words, especially nouns, tend to have θ.
Theta θ and eth ð are also found in the following noun/verb minimal pairs, at least for many dialects:
wreath - wreathe(I put a wreath on the door / I wreathe the door)
teeth - teethe(my teeth / the baby is teething)
loath - loathe(I’m loath to do it / I loathe doing it)
sheath - sheathe(in a sheath / to sheathe one’s sword)
sooth - soothe(for sooth! / to soothe someone)
Here the vowels differ, but the theta θ to eth ð, noun to verb relationship is preserved:
cloth - clothe(wear cloth / clothe oneself)
bath - bathe(take a bath / bathe the baby)
breath - breathe(take a breath / breathe deeply)
Make sure to try them at full volume, not whispering, because whispering involves turning off your vocal cords (which is why you can whisper when they’re inflamed with laryngitis).
These sounds are called dental fricatives or interdental fricatives, because the sound is produced by a thin stream of air friction where the tongue is at (dental) or between (interdental) the teeth. In the International Phonetic Alphabet, the voiceless interdental fricative, theta, is written θ, and the voiced interdental fricative, eth, is written ð.
As a bonus, here’s a minimal pair for ʒ and ð, thanks to recent developments in clothing technology: pleasure and pleather.
marzipanandminutiae: feels-for-the-fictional: satanpositive: Roses are red, that much is true, but...
Roses are red, that much is true, but violets are purple, not fucking blue.
I have been waiting for this post all my life.
They are indeed purple,
But one thing you’ve missed:
The concept of “purple”
Didn’t always exist.
Some cultures lack names
For a color, you see.
Hence good old Homer
And his “wine-dark sea.”
A usage so quaint,
A phrasing so old,
For verses of romance
Is sheer fucking gold.
So roses are red.
Violets once were called blue.
I’m hugely pedantic
But what else is new?
It’s for the same reason
(To continue this thread)
Why people with orange hair
Are known as redheads
It’s rare that a language
Would suffer the lack
Of basic distinctions
Like red, white, and black
But studies have shown
That the colours are linked
Later words that develop
Are orange, purple, pink
It may seem obscure
This colour typology
But you do the same
When you’re sorting the laundry
OoOOoOoo!! Tad Williams!
Steven R. Boyett and Ken Mitchroney, FATA MORGANA (Blackstone Publishing, Hardcover, $26.99) on Saturday, June 10th at 3:00pm
Writers With Drinks with authors Denise Benavides, Robyn Bennis, Christina DiEdoardo, Glen David Gold, and Mark Oshiro at the Make Out Room on Saturday, June 10th at 7:30pm
Richard Kadrey, THE KILL SOCIETY (Harper Voyager, Hardcover, $25.99) and Ellen Klages, WICKED WONDERS (Tachyon Publications, Trade Paperback, $15.95) on Sunday, June 11th at 3:00pm
Dan Wells, NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE (Tor Books, Hardcover, $27.99; Trade Paperback, $14.99) on Sunday, June 11th at 5:00pm
SF in SF with authors Steve Boyett & Ken Mitchroney at The American Bookbinders Museum on Sunday, June 11th at 6:30pm
Michael Johnston, SOLERI (Tor Books, Hardcover, $27.99) on Tuesday, June 13th at 5:00pm
Daryl Gregory, SPOONBENDERS (Knopf, Hardcover, $26.95) on Wednesday, June 28th at 6:00pm
Tad Williams, THE WITCHWOOD CROWN (DAW, Hardcover, $30.00) on Saturday, July 1st at 3:00pm
S.B. Divya, RUNTIME (Tor.com Trade Paperback, $11.99) on Thursday, July 6th at 7:00pm
Dana Fredsti, SPAWN OF LILITH (Titan, Trade Paperback, $14.95) on Saturday, July 8th at 3:00pm
Sarah Kuhn, HEROINE WORSHIP (DAW, Trade Paperback, $15.00) on Sunday, July 9th at 3:00pm
SF in SF with authors Curtis Chen & Megan O'Keefe at The American Bookbinders Museum on Sunday, July 9th at 6:30pm
G.L. Carriger, THE SUMAGE SOLUTION on Saturday, July 15th at 3:00pm
Casey Karp, THE RAGTIME TRAVELER on Sunday, July 16th at 3:00 pm
David D. Levine, ARABELLA AND THE BATTLE OF VENUS on Saturday, July 22nd at 3:00pm
Steven R. Boyett and Ken Mitchroney, FATA MORGANA (Blackstone Publishing, Hardcover, $26.99) on Saturday, June 10th at 3:00pm - Please join us to meet authors Steven R, Boyett and Ken Mitchroney, who will be showing off their amazing new novel FATA MORGANA! From the publisher: "At the height of the air war in Europe, Captain Joe Farley and the baseball-loving, wisecracking crew of the B-17 Flying Fortress Fata Morgana are in the middle of a harrowing bombing mission over East Germany when everything goes sideways. The bombs are still falling and flak is still exploding all around the 20-ton bomber as it is knocked like a bathtub duck into another world. Suddenly stranded with the final outcasts of a desolated world, Captain Farley navigates a maze of treachery and wonder -- and finds a love seemingly decreed by fate -- as his bomber becomes a pawn in a centuries-old conflict between remnants of advanced but decaying civilizations. Caught among these bitter enemies, a vast power that has brought them here for its own purposes, and a terrifying living weapon bent on their destruction, the crew must use every bit of their formidable inventiveness and courage to survive."
Writers With Drinks with authors Denise Benavides, Robyn Bennis, Christina DiEdoardo, Glen David Gold, and Mark Oshiro at the Make Out Room (3225 22nd Street) on Saturday, June 10th at 7:30pm - Writers With Drinks is the most awesome spoken-word variety show in the world, hosted by Charlie Jane Anders, and we're always happy to participate! The amazing lineup this month includes authors Denise Benavides, Robyn Bennis (The Guns Above), Christina DiEdoardo (Lanza's Mob: The Mafia and San Francisco), Glen David Gold (Carter Beats the Devil, Sunnyside), and Mark Oshiro (Mark Reads Harry Potter). Cost: $5 to $20, no-one turned away for lack of funds. All proceeds benefit local non-profits. Doors open at 6:30 and Borderlands will be on hand to sell books.
Richard Kadrey, THE KILL SOCIETY (Harper Voyager, Hardcover, $25.99) and Ellen Klages, WICKED WONDERS (Tachyon Publications, Trade Paperback, $15.95) on Sunday, June 11th at 3:00pm - We're delighted to welcome these authors who have almost nothing in common except the fact that they're both awesome! Richard Kadrey will be showing off his latest gritty noir Sandman Slim, THE KILL SOCIETY, and Ellen will be debuting a kick-ass new collection of short stories from her wild and versatile imagination, WICKED WONDERS. We hope you'll join us for an odd-couple event that promises to be huge fun!
Dan Wells, NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE (Tor Books, Hardcover, $27.99; Trade Paperback, $14.99) on Sunday, June 11th at 5:00pm - Dan Wells returns to Borderlands to mark the release of the sixth book in the John Cleaver series. As the publisher states: "'Hi. My name is John Cleaver, and I hunt monsters. I used to do it alone, and then for a while I did it with a team of government specialists, and then the monsters found us and killed almost everyone, and now I hunt them alone again. This is my story.' In this thrilling installment in the John Wayne Cleaver series, Dan Wells brings his beloved antihero into a final confrontation with the Withered. NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE is a conclusion that is both completely compelling and completely unexpected." We'll also be screening the movie of "I Am Not a Serial Killer"! Join us for what is sure to be an incredibly entertaining event.
SF in SF with authors Steve Boyett & Ken Mitchroney at The American Bookbinders Museum on Sunday, June 11th at 6:30pm - (Suggested donation $10, no one turned away for lack of funds.) Doors and bar at 5:30 pm, event begins at 6:30 pm. We're so happy to participate in the Science Fiction in San Francisco reading series! The authors will read a selection from their work, followed by Q&A from the audience moderated by author Terry Bisson. The authors will schmooze & sign books after. Books available for sale courtesy of Borderlands Books. Seating is limited, so first come, first seated. Bar proceeds benefit the American Bookbinders Museum. Phone (night of event) 415-572-1015. Questions? Email email@example.com.
Michael Johnston, SOLERI (Tor Books, Hardcover, $27.99) on Tuesday, June 13th at 5:00pm - We're happy to welcome Michael Johnston for an informal signing in the bookstore! SOLERI is Michael's debut, and this is the fascinating description from the publisher: "Vast in scope and intricate in conception, SOLERI is the story of a rebellious king, his ambitious daughters, his lost son, and their secrets and struggles for dynastic supremacy. Rooted in the history of ancient Egypt, the novel is the result of a decade of research and is inspired by the Johnson’s passion for and study of art history, his previous career in architecture, and the story of King Lear. And at its heart, it's the story of a family, albeit a massively dysfunctional one told on a grand canvas." Join us to meet this up-and-coming author!
Daryl Gregory, SPOONBENDERS (Knopf, Hardcover, $26.95) on Wednesday, June 28th at 6:00pm - We're always happy to welcome the versatile and talented Daryl Gregory to Borderlands! His new novel is SPOONBENDERS, a loving and weird generation-spanning chronicle of the Telemachus family, "known for performing inexplicable feats on talk shows and late-night television. Teddy, a master conman, heads up a clan who possess gifts he only fakes: there's Maureen, who can astral project; Irene, the human lie detector; Frankie, gifted with telekinesis; and Buddy, the clairvoyant. But when, one night, the magic fails to materialize, the family withdraws to Chicago where they live in shame for years. Until: As they find themselves facing a troika of threats (CIA, mafia, unrelenting skeptic), Matty, grandson of the family patriarch, discovers a bit of the old Telemachus magic in himself. Now, they must put past obstacles behind them and unite like never before. But will it be enough to bring The Amazing Telemachus Family back to its amazing life?" We hope you'll join us to meet Daryl and explore this incredible new novel!
Tad Williams, THE WITCHWOOD CROWN (DAW, Hardcover, $30.00) on Saturday, July 1st at 3:00pm - We're very pleased to welcome Tad Williams to Borderlands, as he returns to the beloved world of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn! From the publisher: "More than thirty years have passed since the events of the earlier novels, and the world has reached a critical turning point once again. The realm is threatened by divisive forces, even as old allies are lost, and others are lured down darker paths. Perhaps most terrifying of all, the Norns -- the long-vanquished elvish foe -- are stirring once again, preparing to reclaim the mortal-ruled lands that once were theirs. . . . " Don't miss this opportunity to meet a genre superstar and check out this (re)start to an amazing series!
S.B. Divya, RUNTIME (Tor.com Trade Paperback, $11.99) on Thursday, July 6th at 7:00pm - We're delighted to welcome 2016 Nebula Award finalist S.B. Divya for an informal signing at Borderlands! Her novella is called RUNTIME, and here's the summary from the publisher: "The Minerva Sierra Challenge is a grueling spectacle, the cyborg's Tour de France. Rich thrill-seekers with corporate sponsorships, extensive support teams, and top-of-the-line exoskeletal and internal augmentations pit themselves against the elements in a day-long race across the Sierra Nevada. Marmeg Guinto doesn't have funding, and she doesn't have support. She cobbled her gear together from parts she found in rich people's garbage and spent the money her mother wanted her to use for nursing school to enter the race. But the Minerva Challenge is the only chance she has at a better life for herself and her younger brothers, and she's ready to risk it all." We hope you'll join us to meet this up and coming author!
Dana Fredsti, SPAWN OF LILITH (Titan, Trade Paperback, $14.95) on Saturday, July 8th at 3:00pm - We're happy to welcome local author and Borderlands sponsor Dana Fredsti, who will be showing off SPAWN OF LILITH! In this new novel, according to Dana's site, ". . . successful actress and stuntwoman Lee Striga finds herself with an unwanted second job: demon hunter, paying off an ancient family debt in order to free her ancestor, Lilith, Mother of Demons, imprisoned centuries ago by a vengeful god". Dana's books are always great fun, and you're missing out if you miss this one!
Sarah Kuhn, HEROINE WORSHIP (DAW, Trade Paperback, $15.00) on Sunday, July 9th at 3:00pm - We're thrilled to welcome Sarah Kuhn back to Borderlands! We loved HEROINE COMPLEX, and now Sarah is back with a kick-ass followup, HEROINE WORSHIP: "Once upon a time, Aveda Jupiter (aka Annie Chang) was demon-infested San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine, a beacon of hope and strength and really awesome outfits. But all that changed the day she agreed to share the spotlight with her best friend and former assistant Evie Tanaka -- who's now a badass, fire-wielding superheroine in her own right. They were supposed to be a dynamic duo, but more and more, Aveda finds herself shoved into the sidekick role. Where, it must be said, she is not at all comfortable. It doesn’t help that Aveda’s finally being forced to deal with fallout from her diva behavior -- and the fact that she’s been a less than stellar friend to Evie. Or that Scott Cameron -- the man Aveda’s loved for nearly a decade -- is suddenly giving her the cold shoulder after what seemed to be some promising steps toward friendship. Or that the city has been demon-free for three months in the wake of Evie and Aveda’s apocalypse-preventing battle against the evil forces of the Otherworld, leaving Aveda without the one thing she craves most in life: a mission." We hope you'll join us to follow the saga of these super-heroines!
SF in SF with authors Curtis Chen & Megan O'Keefe at The American Bookbinders Museum on Sunday, July 9th at 6:30pm - ((Suggested donation $10, no one turned away for lack of funds.) Doors and bar at 5:30 pm, event begins at 6:30 pm. We're so happy to participate in the Science Fiction in San Francisco reading series! The authors will read a selection from their work, followed by Q&A from the audience moderated by author Terry Bisson. The authors will schmooze & sign books after. Books available for sale courtesy of Borderlands Books. Seating is limited, so first come, first seated. Bar proceeds benefit the American Bookbinders Museum. Phone (night of event) 415-572-1015. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
G.L. Carriger, THE SUMAGE SOLUTION on Saturday, July 15th at 3:00pm - We're happy to welcome Gail Carriger back to Borderlands, for the start of a sweetly smutty new series! From the press release: "NYT bestseller Gail Carriger, writing as G. L. Carriger, presents an offbeat gay romance in which a sexy werewolf with a white knight complex meets a bad boy mage with an attitude problem. Sparks (and other things) fly. Max fails everything -- magic, relationships, life. So he works for DURPS (the DMV for supernatural creatures) as a sumage, cleaning up other mages' messes. The job sucks and he's in no mood to cope with redneck biker werewolves. Unfortunately, there's something oddly appealing about the huge, muscled Beta visiting his office for processing. Bryan AKA Biff (yeah, he knows) is gay but he’s not out. There's a good chance Max might be reason enough to leave the closet, if he can only get the man to go on a date. Everyone knows werewolves hate mages, but Bryan is determined to prove everyone wrong, even the mage in question."
Casey Karp, THE RAGTIME TRAVELER on Sunday, July 16th at 3:00 pm - We're happy to host local author Casey Karp to Borderlands! Casey has brilliantly completed THE RAGTIME TRAVELLER, the fourth book in Larry Karp's Ragtime Mystery series. In this thrilling installment, time travel helps solve the murder! From the publisher: "It takes one moment in 2016 for ragtime music expert Alan Chandler to go from sitting in his hotel room in Sedalia, Missouri, to standing beside the King of Ragtime-Scott Joplin-at his upright piano in 1899. Chandler suddenly finds himself more than one hundred years earlier inside the famous Maple Leaf Club with its gas chandeliers, massive walnut bar, gaming tables, and pals surrounding the noted pianist and composer. 'What in the hell is going on? Am I dreaming?' Clearly something unexpected is going on for Chandler in the fourth and final Ragtime Mystery by father and son Larry Karp and Casey Karp. A longtime friend Mickey Potash phones Chandler, top ragtime performer and national expert on Joplin, to say that a duffel filled with Joplin's handwritten music has surfaced. Chandler and his grandson, Tom, race from Seattle to Sedalia to evaluate what may be the most important find in popular American music. Potash shows them initial pages which look authentic, but before they can get the duffel hidden in a padlocked closet, he is tortured and murdered. The duffel is stolen. Disappointment encourages a resurgence of symptoms in Chandler’s Stage 4 cancer. He's determined to validate the music before time runs out. Tom, and later his wife, Miriam, help him. Another murder complicates their investigation. The trail to the duffel is crowded: Jackson and Saramae, two young people with journalism in their blood, want to solve the crime, as do homicide detectives and antique shopkeepers. Not surprisingly, the roots of the lost music lie in past emotional conflict, now tangled in genealogical warfare." You can read an excerpt from the novel here: https://poisonedpenpress.com/books/ragtime-traveler-ragtime-mystery-4/. Casey Karp will be discussing ragtime music and the new novel!
David D. Levine, ARABELLA AND THE BATTLE OF VENUS on Saturday, July 22nd at 3:00pm - We're happy to welcome David Levine to Borderlands, where he'll be showing off a brand-new adventure in the ongoing story of the swashbuckling Arabella Ashby! From the publisher's website: "Arabella's wedding plans to marry Captain Singh of the Honorable Mars Trading Company are interrupted when her fiance' is captured by the French and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp on swampy Venus. Now, Arabella must find passage to an enemy-controlled planet in the middle of a war, bribe or fight her way past vicious guards, and rescue her Captain. To do this she must enlist the help of the dashing privateer, Daniel Fox of the Touchstone and build her own clockwork navigational automaton in order to get to Venus before the dread French general, Joseph Fouche', the Executioner of Lyon. Once on Venus, Arabella, Singh, and Fox soon discover that Napoleon has designed a secret weapon, one that could subjugate the entire galaxy if they can't discover a way to stop Fouche', and the entire French army, from completing their emperor's mandate." You can read Chapter 1 here: http://www.tor.com/2017/06/19/excerpts-david-levine-arabella-and-the-battle-of-venus/
"We normally decide how to pronounce an unfamiliar word by drawing analogies with English words we..."
We normally decide how to pronounce an unfamiliar word by drawing analogies with English words we already know. For example, we knew how to pronounce “-ly” from words like “slowly,” so it isn’t too hard to figure out how to pronounce “bigly.”
But sometimes this approach runs into problems. In this case, there just aren’t any common English words ending in -efe. A wild-card search on the very comprehensive dictionary aggregator OneLook yielded the following list of words: jefe, fefe, efe, hefe, okeefe, hogrefe, keefe, reprefe, tefe and kefe. Pretty obscurefe.
So we have to search further afield. Maybe we go for the Spanish word “jefe,” meaning “boss.” Maybe we look to a different vowel, as in “fife” or “cafe.” Maybe we look to other spellings of the /f/ sound at the end of a word, like “ff” as in “fluff,” “gaffe” and “coiffe.”
The problem is that none of these is a close analogue, making it unsurprising that several Twitter polls have found that people are strongly split. But it looks like the lack of -fefe endings won’t remain true for long. People have started smashing covfefe together with other words to refer to the covfefe meme. There now exists the “threadfefe” (a thread about covfefe), an “exorfefe” (an exorcist of the word covfefe), a “presifefe” (president) and the slogan “If u think you’re above covfefe you’re part of the probfefe.””
- I wrote about the linguistics of why it’s hard to say covfefe for the Washington Post.
I want to design a website exclusively in these colors....
So if you’ve ever picked out paint, you know that every infinitesimally different shade of blue, beige, and gray has its own descriptive, attractive name. Tuscan sunrise, blushing pear, Tradewind, etc… There are in fact people who invent these names for a living. But given that the human eye can see millions of distinct colors, sooner or later we’re going to run out of good names. Can AI help?
For this experiment, I gave the neural network a list of about 7,700 Sherwin-Williams paint colors along with their RGB values. (RGB = red, green, and blue color values) Could the neural network learn to invent new paint colors and give them attractive names?
One way I have of checking on the neural network’s progress during training is to ask it to produce some output using the lowest-creativity setting. Then the neural network plays it safe, and we can get an idea of what it has learned for sure.
By the first checkpoint, the neural network has learned to produce valid RGB values - these are colors, all right, and you could technically paint your walls with them. It’s a little farther behind the curve on the names, although it does seem to be attempting a combination of the colors brown, blue, and gray.
By the second checkpoint, the neural network can properly spell green and gray. It doesn’t seem to actually know what color they are, however.
Let’s check in with what the more-creative setting is producing.
Later in the training process, the neural network is about as well-trained as it’s going to be (perhaps with different parameters, it could have done a bit better - a lot of neural network training involves choosing the right training parameters). By this point, it’s able to figure out some of the basic colors, like white, red, and grey:
Although not reliably.
In fact, looking at the neural network’s output as a whole, it is evident that:
- The neural network really likes brown, beige, and grey.
- The neural network has really really bad ideas for paint names.
The neural network figuring out white and red is tantalizingly close to how the first colour distinction that human languages tend to develop is between light and dark and red, although grey is one of the latest colour distinctions to show up. I wonder if you could tweak the parameters such that the neural network would learn to split colours in the same order that human languages do (or in a radically different trajectory).
!! that is such a flattering dress for C. Amazing!
oh god, so good because I've just started to notice the sandwich thing on my radar lately
Sometimes people ask the best questions on Reddit:
What does Yoda’s syntax look like in non-English versions of Star Wars? For those who aren’t familiar with Star Wars (all two of you), Yoda is an alien who, when speaking English, uses what seems to be an OSV syntax instead of the traditional SVO syntax.
So how do foreign translations of the script handle this? I am particularly interested in what it looks like in non-SVO languages. Are there any translations where Yoda’s incorrect syntax is emulated by using an English-like syntax? Or are other languages’ syntax so free that mistakes in the use of case or verb conjugations must instead be used to emulate Yoda’s “alien” speech?
And some answers so far:
Czech: Free word order. Yoda speaks consistently in SOV. Interestingly enough, putting an object before a verb does sound unusual to most speakers of Czech.
Estonian: Free word order language. Yoda retains the English OSV order. This is grammatical in Estonian, but does make it seem as though Yoda is constantly stressing the object phrase as the main point of his statements. This gives his speech an unusual quality.
French: An SVO language. Yoda speaks in OSV.
German: A SVO or SOV language. Yoda brings the Object to the front (OSV), like in English.
Hungarian: A free word order language. There is nothing unusual about Yoda’s speech.
Italian: An SVO language. Yoda speaks in OSV. Note: OSV is also the syntax used in the Italian of the less-proficient speakers of Italian from the region of Sardinia.
Japanese: An SOV language. Yoda seems to use a more or less correct syntax, with a more archaic vocabulary.
Korean: An SOV language. Nothing is unusual about Yoda’s grammar.
Norwegian: An SVO language. Yoda speaks in OSV.
Romanian: An SVO language. Yoda speaks in OSV. He also places adjectives before the noun instead of after the noun, and uses an archaic form of the future tense.
Spanish: An SVO language. Yoda speaks in OSV.
Turkish: An SOV language. Yoda speaks in OSV. Note: This order is also used in classical Ottoman poetry, so the syntax may have been chosen in order to emphasize Yoda’s wisdom or age.
"Gretchen: It’s unlikely that you’d get a language that only has three colour terms and those terms..."
Gretchen: It’s unlikely that you’d get a language that only has three colour terms and those terms are turquoise, orange, and pink.
Lauren: Yeah, because that’s not covering a lot. I mean, it might be covering a lot of the colour space in your wardrobe but not for all speakers.
Gretchen: Admittedly there is a lot of turquoise in my wardrobe.
Lauren: So it’s not surprising that late stage colours like pink and orange have really clear and recent etymologies in English compared to something like red or green or white. I remember when I learned this stuff in undergrad a friend of mine in the class just would not believe that you could cover brown, purple, and grey in one colour. She was just like “how could you have one word that covers all of those three??” And then one day she came to class and she was so excited and was like, “look, look at the scarf that I bought!” And it was true, you couldn’t tell, in certain contexts it looked brown and some contexts it looked purple and in some contexts it looked grey and that was her, like, theoretical proof those colours were close enough that it made sense to put them in one word.
Gretchen: Well the scarf actually brings us into an interesting point about why languages developed colour terms, which is that there’s often some relationship between produced goods whether that’s dyed fabrics or gemstones or other types of processed goods that people make into specific colours. Because if you’re thinking about the sky for example, you know, we say all the time the sky is blue, but it’s really not necessary to specify that the sky is blue. You can say the sky is dark or light, the sky is cloudy or clear, and if it’s clear and its light of course it’s blue! What other colour is it going to be? Or you can say something like the tree is living or the tree is dying, you don’t necessarily need to specify the tree is is green or that it’s red. In nature a lot of things only really come in one specific colour. Whereas once you start making cars you don’t say this car is ripe or it’s not ripe, or this car is cloudy or it’s clear, or this dress that you’re going to make is ripe or unripe or that this basket that you’re weaving is dyed a particular colour. Once you start dying stuff in colours it becomes more useful to talk about a finer variations or if you send someone to buy for you a particular thing in particular colour may want to specify exactly what that colours going be once you start colouring stuff artificially.
Lauren: So certain technological innovations can give rise to the necessity for finer distinctions and colour terms.
Gretchen: And some colour terms are etymologically linked to specific things that created those colours. Purple, for example, is linked to the name of the particular mollusc that was used to make purple dye back around ancient Greece.
Gretchen: I came across a women in Eastern Europe where specifically the older women had more colour terms related to traditional dyeing methodology for textiles, whereas the younger women had become disconnected from traditional dyeing terminology for textiles and could no longer identify words like madder and russet and stuff like this that are used in traditional terms – they tended to use more industrialised colour terms. This seems to be one of those “if you use it you get more words for it” areas, like with any specialised domain.
Lauren: Yeah, there’s a professional vocabulary distinction to be made there as well. I do remember reading something, and again we’re into uncited anec-data here, but I do remember reading something that said professionals can discriminate with more technical words, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they see more colours than people who don’t have these professional words. So you might give people two similar colour chips. And someone who does fabric work will say “that’s magenta and that’s russet,” whereas someone who doesn’t have to discriminate will be like, “Well, this one’s rustier and this one’s richer red.” They can still see the difference. It’s not like not having the word prevents you. Or, people who I’m friends with in Nepal who predominantly speak a language that doesn’t have a blue-green distinction, they still see the distinction, they still prefer fabric in one colour over another one.
Gretchen: Yeah, if you’re painting your bedroom yellow, you’re not going to be like, “I dunno, all yellows look the same to me” – you probably care whether it’s like a lemon yellow or a butter yellow or a golden yellow.”
- Excerpt from Episode 5 of Lingthusiasm: Colour words around the world and inside your brain. Listen to the full episode, read the transcript, or check out the show notes for links to further reading.