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24 Mar 16:42

Poem: I lik the form


That link to bredlik is pretty great also


My naym is pome / and lo my form is fix’d
Tho peepel say / that structure is a jail
I am my best / when formats are not mix’d
Wen poits play / subversions often fail

Stik out their toung / to rebel with no cause
At ruls and norms / In ignorance they call:
My words are free / Defying lit'rate laws
To lik the forms / brings ruin on us all

A sonnet I / the noblest lit'rate verse
And ruls me bind / to paths that Shakespeare paved
Iambic fot / allusions well dispersed
On my behind / I stately sit and wave

You think me tame /
  Fenced-in and penned / bespelled
I bide my time /
  I twist the end / like hell

* “lik” should be read as “lick”, not “like”. In general, the initial section on each line should be read sort of phonetically.

Written for World Poetry Day, March 21, 2018. When I had this idea earlier today, I thought it was the worst, most faux hip pretentious idea for a shallow demonstration of empty wordsmithing skill in poetry ever. So I had to try to write it. I mean, how often do you get to fuse the iambic dimeter of bredlik - one of the newest and most exciting verse forms - with the stately iambic pentameter of the classic sonnet?


05 Mar 05:43

Deflecting “How are you?” via Grice’s maxims


A friend who’s going through rough times lamented to me that, when acquaintances ask her how she’s been, she doesn’t feel like it’s honest to say “fine”, and the acquaintances don’t actually want to hear the full story. I told her what I do in analogous situations: say any (at least mildly interesting) fact about something you experienced in the last few days. For example, “My cat got stuck in a cereal box today” or “I found a new brunch spot last weekend”.

This works because of the unspoken principles of conversation called Grice’s maxims, particularly the maxim of relevance: whatever you say in response to a question will be interpreted as an answer to that question, at least in spirit. And random facts can be interpreted as “here’s something that’s on my mind”, which people will take as a valid answer to “how are you”.

Push this too far and it breaks down; responding with “I cut my toenails this morning” will be read as a non sequitur and possibly rude. But anything that could plausibly be a story you would tell a friend will work for this. Plus, any followup questions will be on a non-painful topic!

I do a similar thing when replying to the eternal linguist question, “how many languages do you know?” 

I used to let that lead me into a list of languages with my precise level of fluency, which would make the other person say “wow” but not have much else to reply with, or a mini-lecture of how not all linguists speak a whole bunch of languages, which got tedious to keep delivering and other people didn’t particularly enjoy it either.  

These days, I mention just two or three languages, but I switch up which ones I mention depending on what I think the other person would be interested in talking about and what I’m in the mood for (French often leads into a discussion of Canadian politics, some people just give off a certain vibe that they’d be really excited about Latin, and so on.) When I’ve gauged it really well, I can get away with just mentioning a single language. Sample dialogues: 

“How many languages do you speak?” 
“Well, it’s really interesting living in Montreal because of course there’s so much French…”
*conversation now becomes about French in Montreal*

“How many languages do you speak?”
“French of course, and it was really interesting studying Latin in high school because…”
*conversation now becomes about Latin and/or language study methodologies*  

The Gricean part is that, like with “how are you?”, people never seem to notice or mind that they’re not getting a number in reply. “How many languages?” is a conversational gambit of “you seem like a person who’d be open to having small talk about languages” or “tell me more about your linguistic experiences” (the same way that “how many pets/children do you have?” is a common small talk question). I recently had a conversation on twitter about doing this for “how many instruments do you play?” when the number gets too big and difficult to quantify, and it seems like it would work there too, although I personally won’t be in the circumstances to test it.

11 Feb 18:21

"Certainly, then, words like mama and dada wouldn’t necessarily stay the same, or even close to the..."

Certainly, then, words like mama and dada wouldn’t necessarily stay the same, or even close to the same, in languages around the world and over tens of thousands of years. So what happened?

The answer lies with babies and how they start to talk. The pioneering linguist Roman Jakobson figured it out. If you’re a baby making a random sound, the easiest vowel is ah because you can make it without doing anything with your tongue or lips. Then, if you are going to vary things at all, the first impulse is to break up the stream of ahhh by closing your lips for a spell, especially since you’ve been doing that to nurse. Hence, mmmm, such that you get a string of mahs as you keep the sound going while breaking it up at intervals. […] Nichols has proposed that the reason a language like Yukaghir’s pronouns for I and you look so much like the mama/tata alternation—as well as why French has moi and toi and English once had me and thou—is because even as these languages have changed over time, the sounds of the words for I and you have been influenced by the way mama and tata differ. The m sound is used for what is closest—mama for Mommy and “me” for the self. The t sound—often learned just after m—is for what’s just one step removed from the closest: Daddy hovering just over there, which we can understand would feel like “you” rather than “(Mommy and) me.

- Why ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ Sound So Similar in So Many Languages” from The Atlantic
(via principleofplenitude)
07 Feb 16:37

No. 2

by Donovan Beeson

Confession time: I really don't like Valentine's Day. (I loathe its more recent compatriots even more. Looking at you, Sweetest Day.) I am not a romantic individual and dislike the idea of obligatory calendric gift-giving. That said, I sent some Valentine gifts this year, but ONLY because I found the best, most perfect gift. 

"Inspired by the humble pencil, artists Rory Sparks and Catherine Haley Epstein have created an homage in scent. The scent was created with a nose on a box of Blackwing pencils, and the ideas of freedom, focus and unlimited possibilities in the head. Throughout history and to this day millions of incredible design projects start with the pencil. It’s with this guiding principal we present “No. 2” the first fine fragrance, hand-crafted and meticulously packaged in honor of the pencil."

Seriously. It's perfume AND it's art. It smells like a freshly-sharpened pencil. I'm delighted and thought you might be too. Donovan

28 Jan 03:15

February Will Soon Be Here

by Donovan Beeson

Letter writing
February is almost here, folks. February is a BUSY month in our letter-loving world. There's that funny old Valentines thing some people like, but we've also got International Correspondence Writing Month (AKA InCoWriMo) and Month of Letters(AKA LetterMo)! Both websites operate on the same basic principle- send one letter every day* in the month of February. (*Or every weekday. It's the shortest month; you can do it!) Respond to all the letters you receive. Talk amongst yourselves about the sending of mail through their forums and gain a bunch of internet kudos. It's a great month to be a letter writer! Who's playing along? How are you preparing? Got any fun tips or downloads to share? Let's share in the comments! Donovan

22 Jan 16:27

stanzicapparatireplayers: anemotionallyunstablecreature: a6: u kno when u keysmash but the jumble...


This is great! Ha! I'd never heard of "crytyping" before but I've definitely done it. Also, +1 for the Dvorak joke at the end :D




u kno when u keysmash but the jumble of letters dont convery the right Feeling so u gotta backspace and re-keysmash to turn ur HKELSXPXA to a JKFSDKAS

Vaguely wondering how future anthropologists will explain this…

*raises hand* Hi. So - the use of a keysmash is emotive. You use it to indicate that you’re so overwhelmed with emotion that you can’t even type, you’re just flailing at the keyboard.

So why is there a difference between a “hkelsxpxa” and a “jkfsdkas” or an “asdfs”?

Because language evolves! It’s actually really exciting to think about, but there’s a reason why slang is continually changing and why Old People are usually characterized by not knowing the slang variants that are being used by The Youth - it’s because the way we use words changes over time, especially in response to technological or environmental changes.

And text-based communication - texting someone on your phone, or chatting with friends on Skype or Discord - is actually really new, this is something which started in my lifetime. And grammatical rules have been evolving and settling into place around that form of communication.

For instance, linguistic researchers have noticed that anyone who’s grown up with texting being a normal thing will usually not end their texts or IMs with a period unless they’re angry or annoyed. This is because it’s a lot harder to do a run-on sentence in those mediums; you can just hit ‘enter’ and go to a new line. A period, then, becomes an indicator of emphasis, instead of an indicator of “there is nothing missing from this sentence” - and it’s an indicator of negative emphasis (rather than the positive emphasis that an exclaimation mark can give).

So, the keysmash has its own grammatical rule. And it’s one that makes sense, considering that it’s entirely possible for a keysmash to be caused accidentally - by something falling onto the keyboard, or a cat walking across it. The rule, then, is that a deliberate keysmash and an accidental one need to be distinguishable.

So a deliberate keysmash will nearly always use keys only in the home row, and usually in a particular order that isn’t likely to have happened purely accidentally.

So, future anthropologists will likely explain it as a marker of language evolving to work with a text-based medium where expressions and body language are difficult-to-impossible to convey. Much like emojis, crytyping, and whether or not you put punctuation at the end of a sentence (and in what context you do so), keysmashing is used to convey how you feel - in a way that body language and facial expressions would usually be expected to fill in the gap.

I did a survey once of people who use keysmash and over half of people reported that they’d adjust a few letters or delete and re-smash when it didn’t look “right” (except for the poor Dvorak users, who had kind of given up on keysmash entirely because their vowely home row made theirs emotionally illegible to other people).

22 Jan 16:20

The End of the Rainbow

The retina is the exposed surface of the brain, so if you think about a pot of gold while looking at a rainbow, then there's one at BOTH ends.
17 Jan 02:38

Why Do Cartoon Villains Speak in Foreign Accents?

Why Do Cartoon Villains Speak in Foreign Accents?:

An interesting article in The Atlantic about cartoon villain accents. Excerpt:  

In many of the cases studied, villains were given foreign accents. A modern-day example is Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz, the bad guy in Phineas and Ferb who speaks in a German(ish) accent and hails from the fictional European country Drusselstein. Meanwhile, the study found that most of the heroic characters in their research sample were American-sounding; only two heroes had foreign accents. Since television is a prominent source of cultural messaging for children, this correlation of foreign accents with “bad” characters could have concerning implications for the way kids are being taught to engage with diversity in the United States.    

The most wicked foreign accent of all was British English, according to the study. From Scar to Aladdin’s Jafar, the study found that British is the foreign accent most commonly used for villains. German and Slavic accents are also common for villain voices. Henchmen or assistants to villains often spoke in dialects associated with low socioeconomic status, including working-class Eastern European dialects or regional American dialects such as “Italian-American gangster” (like when Claude in Captain Planet says ‘tuh-raining’ instead of ‘training.’) None of the villains in the sample studied seemed to speak Standard American English; when they did speak with an American accent, it was always in regional dialects associated with low socioeconomic status.

Some shows also gave foreign accents to comic characters, though British English was almost never used in this way. “Speakers of British English are portrayed dichotomously as either the epitome of refinement and elegance or as the embodiment of effete evil,” the study concludes. “What general sociolinguistic theory would suggest,” Gidney added, “is that American adults tend to evaluate British dialect … as sounding smarter.” Funny characters, on the other hand, often speak in German or Slavic accents (Dobrow offered as an example the associates of the evil Dr. Claw in Inspector Gadget), as well as in regional American dialects associated with the white working class.

Animated shows aren’t too careful in depicting how dialects actually work; they often use sloppy approximations of an accent as opposed to accurate renderings. The two generalized indicators of a Slavic accent, according to the study, are pronouncing words like “darling” as “dah-link,” and “we” as “vee.” Often, accents have a combination of features associated with a patchwork of nationalities. But what’s true in all of these cases is that the accent is portrayed as foreign in a way that’s clear to the viewer. To Gidney, the common denominator in all of these vague foreign accents is “the binary distinction of ‘like us’” versus “not like us.” “Villainy is marked just by sounding different,” he added.  

Read the whole thing.

17 Jan 02:32

My Stepfather’s Brief Artistic Inspiration

by Marc Taro Holmes

A few years back, (2016 ) my stepfather, who has advanced semantic dementia (similar to Alzheimer’s disease), had a six month-ish burst of creativity in which he made a series of paintings in acrylic.

He started quite abruptly and stopped cold-turkey when he couldn’t make the color choices any longer.

He had not, to anyone’s knowledge, ever made a drawing or painting in his life before these.

I’ve read that sudden outbursts of creativity are common in people with degenerative brain disease. I suppose, as they get worse and worse at communicating verbally, they’re looking for some other way to express themselves.

At the same time they’re losing inhibitions and self regulation, and suddenly they find themselves able to access a state of un-fettered creativity.

Even though these works are entirely abstract – just color and brush marks – I still imagine a surreal landscape or emotional ‘space’ created by the color.

But there’s no way to know his true artistic intent – or even if there IS a thought process behind the work.

There’s a jibe to be made between art schools: maybe this is no different from any abstract artist. Can we ever know that non-objective painting isn’t just completely random color choices?

At this point he couldn’t sign his name or print letters, or even reliably operate our coffee machine. I watched him spend 20 minutes considering (unsuccessfully) how to assemble a screw, washer and nut. So I was surprised to see this amount of dexterity with a paint brush.

He did some of the work, drawing with the paint tubes directly. Skipping the step of mixing color, using them sort of like a crayon. Squeezing paint onto the canvas.

I had an instructor back in art school who did the same thing, though his works were monumental in size and many inches thick. Very expensive paintings.

It’s worth noting, my stepfather has been red/green colorblind his whole life. So he sees these works more duo-chromatically than we do. Here’s a chart I found of what that looks like.

That might make the red painting above look like this. (Color adjusted in photoshop). But, as there’s no way to know that for sure, I won’t make this adjustment with all the work.

As well, he’s unable to tell us for sure in which orientation the art should hang. He can make a choice when you have a finished frame to show him, but it’s not clear he wouldn’t change his mind if you asked twice.

We actually didn’t take the time to watch him at work. Which, I now regret. Ironic that I’ve been teaching art for a few years, but we never talked about his things. Of course I thought about trying to help him a bit. But it’s complicated. I didn’t want to do anything to jinx his process. He was producing things at a brisk pace. People get antsy if you hover when they’re painting. So why get in the way?

Anyway, I’ve chosen the orientation for these. and that might impose a context onto them. I tend to think, this one looks like a mountain for instance, so I put it this way up.

If you ask, is it a mountain, or is it a lake, he’ll just agree with whatever you suggest.

I’ve always been somewhat stymied by pure abstraction. Not knowing how to think about it. My own work is fairly literal. I look at the world, and create a personal record. Sure I might exaggerate for effect. But essentially I paint what I see.

With frontotemporal injury, there are people that see vivid hallucinations. Others can look at a clock and all the numbers are jumbled. Some don’t see faces on people’s heads. It’s fascinating to think that these marks might represent something he’s seeing, which we will never understand.

When I look at this pale green surface, my realist’s brain wants to see a forest or jungle. It’s attractive because of the color harmonies. It seems like a ‘good mood’ kind of painting.

His moods will change rapidly over a day. But even prior to losing his self regulation, he wasn’t the kind of person to be in a good mood for long.

This dark forest is a little more of a reflection of his personalty.

I am, in a way, jealous of his freedom to use color and marks without any concern about capturing reality.

It seems like a person with dementia has an advantage over a fully functioning painter who might dabble in non-objective painting, but be unable to set themselves free of describing things.

Unfortunately, his condition is irreversibly progressive.

This burst of visual art was short lived. We didn’t keep exact track of the dates, but I’m recalling, it lasted about six months. Eventually the work began to lose the complexity of mark making and the clarity of color.

These pieces are roughly in chronological order, though there was various amounts of time, and other works, in between.

Just stop and look at this one for a moment.

It might well be a completely random creation with no meaning. Made by a loopy old dude who’s just farting around.

But if you stop and think; this is the artwork of a person who is trapped in his disintegrating mind, aware at times – or possibly at every moment – that he’s lost his intelligence, personality, now his physical independence, and fairly soon his self-awareness will be gone. It’s tempting to say that this guy who can’t speak, or even dress himself, is trying to communicate his state of distress.

He made at least fifty (I haven’t counted exactly) of these paintings on 9×12″ canvas paper and some more on 5×7″ and 8×10″ stretched canvasses.

I think the volume of work is indicative of their importance to him. There was nothing else in this time he would devote more than ten minutes to. He doesn’t listen to music, or watch TV. He won’t sit to be read too for any length of time. Somehow, these were  rewarding for him.

He would very much enjoy seeing his paintings framed, or put into portfolio books. And he’s still quite proud of having made these when he sees them today. They’re one of the few things, other than family photos, which he will always comment on.

“I did that. That’s mine”.

Then, one day, there was a sudden decline, and this was as far as he could get.

There’s a few of these essentially unfinished works, done in one color with only part of the surface considered.

Soon after the these pieces, he refused to make any more work, saying he couldn’t do it anymore.

We tried to keep things going by offering him India ink, hoping it would be easier with a single color.

He made about five of these black and white drawings, and would not make any more.


19 Dec 05:01

feynites: runawaymarbles: averagefairy: old people really need to learn how to text accurately to...




old people really need to learn how to text accurately to the mood they’re trying to represent like my boss texted me wondering when my semester is over so she can start scheduling me more hours and i was like my finals are done the 15th! And she texts back “Yay for you….” how the fuck am i supposed to interpret that besides passive aggressive

Someone needs to do a linguistic study on people over 50 and how they use the ellipsis. It’s FASCINATING. I never know the mood they’re trying to convey.

I actually thought for a long time that texting just made my mother cranky. But then I watched my sister send her a funny text, and my mother was laughing her ass off. But her actual texted response?

“Ha… right.”

Like, she had actual goddamn tears in her eyes, and that was what she considered an appropriate reply to the joke.I just marvelled for a minute like ‘what the actual hell?’ and eventually asked my mom a few questions. I didn’t want to make her feel defensive or self-conscious or anything, it just kind of blew my mind, and I wanted to know what she was thinking.

Turns out that she’s using the ellipsis the same way I would use a dash, and also to create ‘more space between words’ because it ‘just looks better to her’. Also, that I tend to perceive an ellipsis as an innate ‘downswing’, sort of like the opposite of the upswing you get when you ask a question, but she doesn’t. And that she never uses exclamation marks, because all her teachers basically drilled it into her that exclamation marks were horrible things that made you sound stupid and/or aggressive.

So whereas I might sent a response that looked something like:

“Yay! That sounds great - where are we meeting?”

My mother, whilst meaning the exact same thing, would go:

‘Yay. That sounds great… where are we meeting?”

And when I look at both of those texts, mine reads like ‘happy/approval’ to my eye, whereas my mother’s looks flat. Positive phrasing delivered in a completely flat tone of voice is almost always sarcastic when spoken aloud, so written down, it looks sarcastic or passive-aggressive.

On the reverse, my mother thinks my texts look, in her words, ‘ditzy’ and ‘loud’. She actually expressed confusion, because she knows I write and she thinks that I write well when I’m constructing prose, and she, apparently, could never understand why I ‘wrote like an airhead who never learned proper English’ in all my texts. It led to an interesting discussion on conversational text. Texting and text-based chatting are, relatively, still pretty new, and my mother’s generation by and large didn’t grow up writing things down in real-time conversations. The closest equivalent would be passing notes in class, and that almost never went on for as long as a text conversation might. But letters had been largely supplanted by telephones at that point, so ‘conversational writing’ was not a thing she had to master. 

So whereas people around my age or younger tend to text like we’re scripting our own dialogue and need to convey the right intonations, my mom writes her texts like she’s expecting her Eighth grade English teacher to come and mark them in red pen. She has learned that proper punctuation and mistakes are more acceptable, but when she considers putting effort into how she’s writing, it’s always the lines of making it more formal or technically correct, and not along the lines of ‘how would this sound if you said it out loud?’

Reblogging for reference because I’m working on this exact question for the book right now. 

14 Dec 16:49

We Made A Life-Sized Thestral For Christmas, Because Of Course We Did

by Jen

man, I wish I had the space to build random things like this...

So possibly our biggest surprise at the Potter Party last weekend was Tiny Tim, the life-sized thestral in the back yard. Yes, thestral. You know, the undead skeleton horses that can only be seen after you witness someone dying? I mean, HOW FESTIVE DOES THAT SOUND.

via Pottermore

It's all Home Depot's fault, of course, since they were selling life-sized horse skeletons for Halloween. We weren't about to drop $200 for it, though, so we waited 'til November 1st, called every Home Depot in the greater Orlando area, and on try #17 finally found one for half off. Still pricey at a hundred bucks, of course, but John was positively GIDDY at the thought of making our own thestral.

So we did.

And since this WAS for a Christmas party, we added a wreath around his neck to make him more cheery:


After dark is when Tiny Tim gets his wow factor, though:
» Read More
11 Dec 04:59

hoseph-christiansen: theawesomeadventurer: ultrafacts: Source:...




Source: [x]

Follow Ultrafacts for more facts!

okay but this is a power move above any other

It gets even better, because he was doing all of this on a pitch black night. This dude swam towards a lure, slapped at it with his glove, and when it got caught; he let himself float and tugged on the line so the fisherman thought he had hooked a 100+ pound salmon. Once he was finally up to the shore, he turned a flashlight on in the guy’s face and walked out of the water, saying “good morning, gentlemen. State fish and game warden, you’re under arrest.“

At this point, the guy who had reeled him in had literally fallen over in shock, and the other people with him were scared shitless. The warden whipped some citations out of a plastic bag in his wetsuit, made the trespassers sign them, asked if they had any questions, and then gathered all of their fishing gear. And he just. Walked back into the river. And quietly swam away, without another word.

This man is a legend.

08 Dec 15:53

Phon-kemon, gotta catch ‘em all! (By Edwin Ko on twitter.)

Phon-kemon, gotta catch ‘em all! 

(By Edwin Ko on twitter.)

01 Dec 06:23

Google Translate adds gendered stereotypes when translating from...

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). 

29 Oct 16:43

A neural network designs Halloween costumes


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 Cot
Sexy Purbie Lampire
Poth Rat
Sexy Por Man
The Wombue
Pombie Con A A Cat
The Ran Spean Sexy Sexy Pon Sexy Dander
Sexy Cat
The Gull Wot
Sexy Pot

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 costume
Sexy Menus
Sexy Sure
Frankenstein’s Denter
A cardian of the Pirate
Ging butter
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:

Punk Tree
Disco Monster
Spartan Gandalf
Starfleet Shark
A masked box
Martian Devil
Panda Clam
Potato man
Shark Cow
Space Batman
The shark knight
Snape Scarecrow
Gandalf the Good Witch
Professor Panda
Strawberry shark
Vampire big bird
Samurai Angel
lady Garbage
Pirate firefighter
Fairy Batman

Other costumes were still a bit more random.

Aldonald the Goddess of the Chicken
Celery Blue Frankenstein
Dancing Bellyfish
Dragon of Liberty
A shark princess
Statue of Witch
Cupcake pants
Bird Scientist
Giant Two butter
The Twin Spider Mermaid
The Game of Nightmare Lightbare
Share Bat
The Rocky Monster
Mario lander
Spork Sand
Statue of pizza
The Spiding hood
A card Convention
Sailor Potter
Shower Witch
The Little Pond
Spice of pokeman
Bill of Liberty
A spock
Count Drunk Doll of Princess
Petty fairy
Pumpkin picard
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 barban
The Gumbkin
Scorbs Monster
A cat loory Duck
The Barboon
Flatue doctor
Sparrow Plapper
The Spongebog
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.

Sports costume
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
Skeleton 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
The Bunnizer
Light man
Bearley Quinn
Glad woman
robot Werewolf
super Pun
Super of a bog
Space Pants
buster pirate
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 Scare
Sexy the Pumpkin
Saxy Pumpkins
Sexy the Pirate
Sexy Pumpkin Pirate
Sexy Gumb Man
Sexy barber
Sexy Gargles
Sexy humblebee
Sexy The Gate
Sexy Lamp
Sexy Ducty monster
Sexy conchpaper
Sexy the Bumble
Sexy the Super bass
Pretty zombie Space Suit
sexy Drangers
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. 

26 Oct 14:47

jumpingjacktrash: winterinthetardis: SO APPARENTLY MY ENTIRE...




i’m sorry to laugh at you but this is adorable and hilarious

Is there a Heritage Speaker Problems blog yet because this sounds like peak heritage speaker problems (text version).

12 Oct 15:45

New (& Digital!) Initiative Response

by Donovan Beeson

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

  1. Secrets Can you keep a secret? We hope so. 
  2. School Days Revisit the classroom with mail art.
  3. 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! Donovan

12 Oct 15:44


It's like I've always said--people just need more common sense. But not the kind of common sense that lets them figure out that they're being condescended to by someone who thinks they're stupid, because then I'll be in trouble.
04 Oct 16:11

wuglife: Hahaha, oh man this is beautiful! A quick...


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. 

30 Aug 01:58


30 Aug 01:58

Color Models


This is so true.
I'm at level 5, working my way towards level 6...

What if what *I* see as blue, *you* see as a slightly different blue because you're using Chrome instead of Firefox and despite a decade of messing with profiles we STILL can't get this right somehow.
18 Aug 14:49

Headbands: 1984

by Femke

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.

17 Aug 14:59


by opusanglicanum

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/.

11 Aug 23:39

Taking My Cosplay Photos To The Dark Side

by Jen

sounds like the next round of accessories "someone" might need to get...

I've been photographing conventions for about seven years now, and while I still love everything about it, I've been itching to bump up my game. Every con I get home, download my pics, and grouse about how terrible they are. Blurry faces, bad lighting, photobombing Deadpools - there's always SOMETHING, and it takes a lot of work in Lightroom to salvage most of my shots.

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:

Gorgeous, right?

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:

[Rage Cosplay]

(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
30 Jul 19:04

Release the Kraken on the Lost Ossuary

by Dyson Logos



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

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:

The Lost Ossuary (no grid)

The Lost Ossuary (no grid)


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:

Creative Commons LicenseCartography by Dyson Logos is licensed
under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

30 Jul 19:02

Charles Frederick Worth | Evening Gown | c.1898 A superb example...

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

12 Jul 14:57


Emochi ice cream!!! 😍😬😭😘😛 😮😎😆😂🤓 note to self: take glamour shots of the nerd BEFORE it gets punched in the face 😭 #emochi #mochi #mochiicecream #icecream #emoji #emojiparty #onlyhashtaggingallthethingsbecausethistookforever
08 Jul 08:03

plutoniarch: adz: Autonomous Trap 001 “What you’re looking at...



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.”

-James Bridle

using salt circle motor runes to trap driving AI is the most cyberpunk thing I’ve ever seen

04 Jul 17:07

How to tell apart theta θ and eth ð

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. 

20 Jun 04:14

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