The weirdest languages

language, NLP, weirdness, linguistics

For each value that a language has, we calculate the relative frequency of that value for all the other languages that are coded for it. So if we had included subject-object-verb order then English would’ve gotten a value of 0.355 (we actually normalized these values according to the overal entropy for each feature, so it wasn’t exactly 0.355, but you get the idea). The Weirdness Index is then an average across the 21 unique structural features. But because different features have different numbers of values and we want to reduce skewing, we actually take the harmonic mean (and because we want bigger numbers = more weird, we actually subtract the mean from one). In this blog post, I’ll only report languages that have a value filled in for at least two-thirds of features (239 languages).

http://idibon.com/the-weirdest-languages/

Südthüringer-Wald-Institut

research, collapse, east germany, cryptic refugia

Südthüringer-Wald-Institut is an independent, distributed research organization founded in a cave 200m deep below the Southern Thuringian Forest in the former East Germany. Physically positioned as a default site of refuge from the possibly inevitable collapse of the pervasive technological and social infrastructures that scaffold contemporary existence, the conceptual agenda of the Institute is framed by the present luxury of a world where discourse around mitigating unpleasant contingencies is still unhindered by the profound stress of needing to survive them.

http://www.suedthueringerwaldinstitut.de/

Creative People Say No

creativity, time, focus

Time is the raw material of creation. Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work: the work of becoming expert through study and practice, the work of finding solutions to problems and problems with those solutions, the work of trial and error, the work of thinking and perfecting, the work of creating. Creating consumes. It is all day, every day. It knows neither weekends nor vacations. It is not when we feel like it. It is habit, compulsion, obsession, vocation. The common thread that links creators is how they spend their time. No matter what you read, no matter what they claim, nearly all creators spend nearly all their time on the work of creation. There are few overnight successes and many up-all-night successes.

https://medium.com/design-thinking–1/bad7c34842a2

I’ve Seen Gardens, Compared with Which this Would be a Wilderness

Mute, review, Stanislaw Lem, Summa Technologiae, Martin Howse, books

Stanislaw Lem’s 1964 opus, Summa Technolgiae, has only just been translated into English. Over half a century later, Lem’s work stands as an astonishing feat of future-casting and a profound meditation on how technology, reason and language protect and enclose humanity from empty cosmic indifference.

http://www.metamute.org/editorial/articles/ive-seen-gardens-compared-which-would-be-wilderness

In the same way, if the evolutionary function of fiction is—at least in part—to simulate the big dilemmas of life, people who…

“In the same way, if the evolutionary function of fiction is—at least in part—to simulate the big dilemmas of life, people who consume a lot of fiction should be more capable social operators than people who don’t. The only way to find out is to do the science, and the psychologists Keith Oatley, Raymond Mar, and their colleagues have made a start. In one study, they found that heavy fiction readers had better social skills—as measured by tests of social and empathic ability—than those who mainly read nonfiction. This was not, they discovered, because people who already had good social abilities naturally gravitated to fiction.”

Gottschall, Jonathan. The Storytelling Animal, How Stories Make Us Human. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. (viacarvalhais)

beef noodles RAF spook sign drone tower weathered pre- soul-delay urban. modem alcohol futurity concrete sensory paranoid…

“beef noodles RAF spook sign drone tower weathered pre- soul-delay urban. modem alcohol futurity concrete sensory paranoid bicycle dome alcohol military-grade. bridge saturation point RAF disposable 8-bit neural smart- shanty town spook gang. otaku -ware concrete car hacker bicycle engine youtube dolphin girl.”

Forget Lorem Ipsum. UseLorem Gibson. (viathisistheverge)

Oct. 15, 1925: From the Mid-Week Pictorial, “High Art of the Zoo: The giraffe of the mechanical menagerie will stoop to nothing,…

new york times, photography, photograph, 1920s

Oct. 15, 1925: From the Mid-Week Pictorial, “High Art of the Zoo: The giraffe of the mechanical menagerie will stoop to nothing, so the artist must climb skyward to present him with spot No. 203.” Photo: The New York Times (via http://livelymorgue.tumblr.com/post/52788994874/oct-15-1925-from-the-mid-week-pictorial-high)

Keywords and Co-Occurrence Patterns in the Voynich Manuscript: An Information-Theoretic Analysis

Voynich manuscript, language, information theory, semantics, patern

The Voynich manuscript has remained so far as a mystery for linguists and cryptologists. While the text written on medieval parchment -using an unknown script system- shows basic statistical patterns that bear resemblance to those from real languages, there are features that suggested to some researches that the manuscript was a forgery intended as a hoax. Here we analyse the long-range structure of the manuscript using methods from information theory. We show that the Voynich manuscript presents a complex organization in the distribution of words that is compatible with those found in real language sequences. We are also able to extract some of the most significant semantic word-networks in the text. These results together with some previously known statistical features of the Voynich manuscript, give support to the presence of a genuine message inside the book.

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0066344

Dark Mountain is both a refuge and an adventure. It’s an escape from false hope and teeth-gritting optimism, as well as a quest…

“Dark Mountain is both a refuge and an adventure. It’s an escape from false hope and teeth-gritting optimism, as well as a quest to investigate and redefine humanity’s place in the world. The escape isn’t from, but to, reality. The quest can be painful and exhausting, but rather than bringing me despair it brings a form of optimism deeper, and more truthful, than what I felt before. The extraordinary diversity of voices the books and wider movement attracts shows I’m not alone in feeling this.”

Nick Hunt (author and editor) on why the Dark Mountain books matter to him

Read more on our subscriptions page

(viadarkmountainproject)

Compact does “English”: hello, i am a program. set “a” to 0. set “b” to 0. please give me a value to put in “a”. please give me…

“Compact does“English”: hello, i am a program. set“a” to 0. set“b” to 0. please give me a value to put in“a”. please give me a value to put in“b”. if“a” is less than or equal to 0 then do as follows. i have to say:“Os valores devem ser positivos”. that’s all, if things go as planned. otherwise, do as follows. if“b” is less than or equal to 0 then do as follows. i have to say:“Os valores devem ser positivos”. that’s all, if things go as planned. otherwise, do as follows. set“d” to 1. if“a” is greater than“b” then do as follows. set“m” to“b”. that’s all, if things go as planned. otherwise, do as follows. set“m” to“a”. and that’s it. set“i” to 2. while“i” is less than or equal to“m” do as follows. if the rest of the division of“a” by“i” is equal to 0 then do as follows. if the rest of the division of“b” by“i” is equal to 0 then do as follows. set“d” to“i”. and that’s it. and that’s it. set“i” to“i” plus 1. alas, the cycle we started by testing whether“i” is less than or equal to“m” ends. this is“d”. and that’s it. and that’s it. we have reached the end of our journey. i hope you enjoyed it as much as i did.”

David Martins de Matos

Government Secrets and the Need for Whistle-blowers

NSA, Schneier, Snowden, government, surveillance, transparency, accountability, law

Knowing how the government spies on us is important. Not only because so much of it is illegal – or, to be as charitable as possible, based on novel interpretations of the law – but because we have a right to know. Democracy requires an informed citizenry in order to function properly, and transparency and accountability are essential parts of that. That means knowing what our government is doing to us, in our name. That means knowing that the government is operating within the constraints of the law. Otherwise, we’re living in a police state.

https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2013/06/government_secr.html

Killer robots and human rights

UN, LAR, HRI, drone warfare, warfare, automation

“The possible introduction of LARs (lethal autonomous robots) raises far-reaching concerns about the protection of life during war and peace,” Mr Heyns said. “If this is done, machines and not humans, will take the decision on who is alive or dies.” Mr Heyns presented a report on his research and called for a worldwide moratorium on the production and deployment of such machines, while nations figured out the knotty legal and ethical issues.

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/stop-killer-robots-now-un-asks–20130531–2nfe2.html

(…) story is for a human as water is for a fish—all-encompassing and not quite palpable. While your body is always fixed at a…

“(…) story is for a human as water is for a fish—all-encompassing and not quite palpable. While your body is always fixed at a particular point in space-time, your mind is always free to ramble in lands of make-believe. And it does.”

Gottschall, Jonathan. The Storytelling Animal, How Stories Make Us Human. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. (viacarvalhais)

Ghost ships

ghost ship, wikipedia

A ghost ship, also known as a phantom ship, is a ship with no living crew aboard; it may be a ghostly vessel in folklore or fiction, such as the Flying Dutchman, or a real derelict found adrift with its crew missing or dead, like the Mary Celeste. The term is sometimes used for ships that have been decommissioned but not yet scrapped, such as the Clemenceau (R 98).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ghost_ships

The best documentary work is as complex as its subject matter, does not attempt to fully resolve itself, and forces the viewer…

“The best documentary work is as complex as its subject matter, does not attempt to fully resolve itself, and forces the viewer to interpret the work and engage with the subject matter independently. Filmmakers Dziga Vertov and Werner Herzog come to mind. Why no still photographers? Because the best still photographers have fled from any association with ‘documentary’ as the field has become increasingly parochial, stiff and old-fashioned. Still photographers are the most conservative and least ambitious of visual artists because they are tethered to the photojournalistic tradition and to the general public’s misunderstanding of the medium as a tool of faithful communication. For documentary to be born again, those practicing it and those looking at it must accept that truth cannot be found or created within its bounds, only art.”

Gregory Halpern in what I consider a must-read piece onAmerican Suburb X  (viabryanschutmaat)

It is generally argued that our experience of free will presents a compelling mystery. On the one hand, we can’t make sense of…

“It is generally argued that our experience of free will presents a compelling mystery. On the one hand, we can’t make sense of it in scientific terms; on the other, wefeel that we are the authors of our own thoughts and actions. However, I think that this mystery is itself a symptom of our confusion. It is not that free will is simply an illusion — our experience is not merely delivering a distorted view of reality. Rather, we are mistaken about our experience. Not only as we not as free as we think we are — we do not feel as free as we think we do.”

Harris, Sam.Free Will. New York: Free Press, 2012. (viacarvalhais)