Prompt for 2014-07-22

Jul. 22nd, 2014 08:14 pm
sashataakheru: (Default)
[personal profile] sashataakheru posting in [community profile] dailyprompt
Today's prompt is 'a bug in the system'.

A somewhat productive week

NSFW Jul. 22nd, 2014 11:12 am
nelc: Toy Story alien photographer (photo)
[personal profile] nelc
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Smoky Hatchies

Jul. 22nd, 2014 07:47 am
chomiji: Screen shot of my Flight Rising matriarch, Yarok (Flight Rising)
[personal profile] chomiji posting in [community profile] flight_rising

Wildclaws in smoky shades of obsidian and mulberry, grey and mauve … .

Cut for four hatchlings )

Signalboost: MacHeist bundle

Jul. 22nd, 2014 12:52 pm
green_knight: (WTF?)
[personal profile] green_knight
I've had really good luck with the MacHeist bundles in the past.

- they offer a bunch of software at a sensible price (usually ~ $20), and very often highlighting new apps.

This model - the bundle (sometimes 'pay as much as you like' with minimum pricing etc) seems to have taken over from the cover CD which took over from the 'everybody copies the app from a friend' model for creating discoverability. It's a chance for users to get their hands on some really nice software cheaply; and a chance for developers to create a user base who hopefully will be upgrading in the future *and* telling all their friends about it.

I haven't had a chance to play with most of these yet - I haven't even had a chance to download them yet (but macHeist, unlike MacLife, are *good* about this: you can redownload for years), but I had to play with Intaglio, which is a vector-drawing App.

Spoiler: It's almost perfect, but it crashes every time I save, which makes it less than useless: less, because it taunts you with being the app you've (well, I've) been looking for for four years, AND THEN IT CRASHES LEAVING BEHIND ONLY THE DUST OF YOUR DREAMS.

Longings )

So yes. I'm having an attack of WTF WHY IS THIS SHIPPING, and I'm hoping that the developers will respond soon with a bug fix.


Jul. 22nd, 2014 11:16 am
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Victor Mair

Jonathan Dushoff sent in this photograph of a sign in the Lukang (Lùgǎng 鹿港) public library in Taiwan (apologies for the reflection off the surface):

Jonathan says, "It's obvious how a computer would make that translation; not clear why a human (at the library!) didn't spot it."

The translation software (or somebody) made this mistranslation ("Invites the slipper") because of problems with polysemy, parsing, and homophony.  As a matter of fact, depending upon their frame of mind and level of familiarity with Chinese language and characters, even a human being may have to pause for a moment to correctly interpret the intended message.

The Chinese consists of three characters, each with bopomofo phonetic annotation along the right side):

qǐng 請 ("please; invite; request")
tuō 脫 ("take off; remove; shed; doff; escape; get away; come off")
xié 鞋 ("shoe")

Google Translate, Baidu Fanyi, and Bing Translator all render it perfectly as "Please take off your shoes."  Even iCIBA has "shoes off; please take off your shoes; take off your shoes; please take your shoes".

One begins to wonder how this mistake ("Invites the slipper") actually occurred.  Where did the "slipper" in the sign come from, if not from translation software (which doesn't seem to be the culprit in this case)?

The Mandarin word for "slipper" is tuōxié 拖鞋, which consists of two morphosyllables:

tuō 拖 ("drag; haul; tow; pull; draw; delay")
xié 鞋 ("shoe")

Thus, it would appear that the homophonous term tuōxié 拖 鞋 ("slipper") interfered with the processing of tuō xié 脫鞋 ("take off / remove shoes") and replaced it in the English translation.

I asked about two dozen native speakers of Mandarin if they thought that they pronounced tuōxié 拖鞋 ("slipper") and tuō xié 脫鞋 ("take off / remove shoes") exactly the same.  The results of my survey are rather astonishing.

Nearly all individuals who are highly literate in characters (humanists) and professional language teachers maintained that they pronounced tuōxié 拖鞋 ("slipper") and tuō xié 脫鞋 ("take off / remove shoes") in an identical fashion.  But there were two categories of native speakers who perceived a difference in their own pronunciation of the two expressions:  those who are highly qualified linguists and those who are not very literate in characters.  How can we make sense of this phenomenon?

I think that, when native speakers claim they are pronouncing these two expressions in exactly the same way, they are being unduly influenced by the characters, that they are indulging in what we may refer to as "reading pronunciation".  It's somewhat comparable to someone pronouncing "Wednesday" and "February" the way they are spelled instead of the way they are spoken in real life.

As for myself (although I am not a native speaker, I possess near native fluency in MSM), I have never felt that tuōxié 拖 鞋 ("slipper") and tuō xié 脫鞋 ("take off / remove shoes") were pronounced identically in actual speech.  Simply for innate, cognitive reasons, I'm certain that I make a slight pause between 脫 and 鞋 of 脫鞋 ("remove shoes"; VO), whereas there is no pause between the two syllables of the disyllabic noun 拖鞋 ("slipper") in actual speech.  For example, in these two sentences:

chuān tuōxié 穿拖鞋 ("wear slippers")
qǐng tuō xié 請脫鞋 ("please take off [your] shoes")

I will definitely insert a slight pause between the 脫 and 鞋 of 脫鞋 ("remove shoes"), but not between the two syllables of the noun 拖鞋 ("slippers").

When I asked my semi-literate or illiterate (in characters) friends who are native speakers of Mandarin why they thought tuōxié 拖鞋 and tuō xié 脫鞋 were not identical in pronunciation, most of them could not articulate any particular reason, but when I pressed them further, several of them said that it was due to the fact that tuō xié is a verb-object construction, whereas tuōxié is a noun.  Incidentally, I elicited their responses simply by wearing a pair of slippers and by taking off one of my shoes, and asking them to say what I was doing in each case, then asking them to tell me if they thought the word for "slipper" and the words for "take off" sounded exactly alike.

Now, when it comes to the linguists, we get much more sophisticated explanations, such as this one from Jiahong Yuan:

Attached is a recording I made. It contains two sentences:  shāngdiàn lǐ mài tuōxié 商店里卖拖鞋 ("in stores that are selling slippers"), and jìnmén yào tuō xié 进门要脱鞋 ("when you go inside you have to take off your shoes"). The words "tuoxie" are marked in the textgrid file. 拖鞋 and 脫鞋 are probably slightly different in my pronunciation, but the intuition is vague.

San Duanmu's proposal is that in Mandarin Chinese disyllabic words have a stress on the first syllable; compounds have a stress on the non-head word. So in 拖鞋 (a disyllabic word) the first syllable should be stronger, and in 脫鞋 (VO compound) the second syllable should be stronger (The phonology of Standard Chinese: pp.136). And the relationship between 鞋 and 拖鞋 is related to what San calls "elastic word length": see his papers 现代汉语词长弹性的量化研究 [A quantitative study of elastic word length in Modern Chinese] and "How many Chinese words have elastic length?".

Catherine, Yanyan and I did a study on the stress patterns of polysyllabic words in Mandarin, and we found that the first syllable of a disyllabic word is stronger: Catherine Lai, Yanyan Sui & Jiahong Yuan, "A Corpus Study of the Prosody of Polysyllabic Words in Mandarin Chinese", Speech Prosody 2010.

BTW, the drawing on the sign seems to suggest that patrons are encouraged to go barefoot in the library, which would be frowned upon in most American libraries.  On the other hand, I don't know how one might visually indicate that patrons are requested to enter the library in stocking feet.

[Thanks to Zhao Lu, Maiheng Dietrich, Grace Wu, Melvin Lee, Liwei Jiao, Rebecca Fu, Wei Shao, Ziwei He, Jiajia Wang, Andy Lee, and several informants who wish to remain anonymous]

vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine

This is the second of the "deep" books, in publication order. It's the first in internal chronology.

There's this interstellar trading empire (well, trading something, they don't rule, as such, but influence continued stability), called the Qeng Ho. They pick up this dude called Pham Something (well, I can't recall the surname) on a planet, because he's expressed an interest in something caleld the On-Off star. The On-Off star is a periodic star with an unusually long cycle. It is dark for quite a few years, then springs into brilliance for another few years. And nothing really explains why it does this.

There's also this completely parallel narrative, happening down on the surface of one of the planets orbiting the On-Off star, where Sherkaner Underhill is a vaguely-arachnoid super-genius.

Then shit happens. It's all very amusing, depressing and possibly triggering. Mostly, to my mind, interesting. Sometimes in a "oh, no, don't run the motorcade full speed into the pile-up!" way.

[ yes, I am catching up with somewhere in the region of two weeks of not taking due care of my bookmeming ]


Jul. 22nd, 2014 11:58 am
falena: (dear god kill them all please)
[personal profile] falena
As I explained in my previous post, if the SLB doesn't turn up by Thursday morning, I'll have to go in at the hospital to be monitored, i.e. the colloquial expression to mean that I have to have a carditocography (CTG) done.

This has all been explained by my ob/gyn during my last check-up with him, a few weeks ago.

You need a bit of background information to understand this, so basically, if you don't care how the national health service works in Italy, just skip this )

Since the D-Day is fast approaching, I knew that now was the time to get my GP to write the request for the 5 rounds of CTG. My ob/gyn has explained that the SSN pays for the CTG only during the 41st week of pregnancy. He also said that it's common practice to simply ask your GP to put in the 41st week timestamp on the request, even if in truth you get these tests done the 40th week instead. This is because it's generally recognised that the SSN does its best to pay for as little as possible during a normal pregnancy, due to the never-ending stream of cuts the Italian state has been applying to public expenditure in the last 30 years. If anyone is interested, as far as I know, for a normal pregnancy, the SSN pays for three ultrasounds, one per trimester, a few of the blood tests you have to get done routinely (but not all - HIV, RH factor, Rubella, CMV etc...but I don't remember precisely which are covered and which aren't), and of course your whole hospital stay when you give birth and any treatment/follow-up connected to that.

Unfortunately my lovely GP is on holiday at the moment. So I went to see the doctor who is filling in for her. This meant waiting for my turn for almost two hours, because of course the substitute GP has temporarily a double load of patients, his and the ones of the colleague he is covering for. But that's not a problem, I had my Kindle and since it was not an urgent thing, I really could wait.

When it was my turn at last I introduced myself and explained what I needed. I also showed him my ob/gyn's note which read (translating as faithfully as I can): Patient: [personal profile] falena. Request: 5 CTGs. Pregnancy date: 41st week. Pretty clear, wouldn't you think?

I explained the whole 'you need to put in '41st week' as a timestamp otherwise I'll have to pay for the exams' thing anyway. And here the problems started. The doctor told me he couldn't possibly do that, because the computer tells him automatically what week I am in (true) and that he couldn't change it.
Now, I had my doubts this was the case, because I've had to ask my GP to write requests for certain exams well ahead of the moment I was going to hand in the actual request, and she'd been able to input the 'future' time-stamp with no problem.

However, I felt like I was in no position to question the doctor. I mean, this is his job and surely I was not the first pregnant patient he's had? Yes, my corner of Italy has one of the lowest birthrates in the world, but still...

Perhaps it's my fault for not being able to stand my ground, but I decided to let it go. I'd pay for the damn exams and that was going to be it.

So, the doctor pulled up the drop-down menu on his screen to choose the procedure/treatment he was writing the request for, scrolling down to the letter 'M' for 'Monitoring' and I saw him hesitate. He cheerfully admitted: "Mmm, I wonder which one it is..."

"Well, the proper name is cardiotocography, or at least, that's what Wikipedia told me," I said with a smile, trying to be helpful.

The doctor made up his mind, clicked on one of the options and printed off my request. I thanked him, shook his hand and went out.

As I was climbing up the hill to go back home I read the request more carefully. And that's where I discovered that he'd put in 'ECG monitoring' and only 1 test as opposed to the 5 I need. Now, I have no medical degree but I'm pretty sure they're not going to give me an ECG on Thursday. And even if it was the right test, I'd still need a request for 5, otherwise it means I need to go to the surgery and wait to get another request (or 4). Ridiculous right?

So as soon as I got home I called my ob/gyn to double-check. He was pretty livid that the GP told me he couldn't put in a different timestamp on the request, he says it is routinely done precisely because certain exams need to be booked well in advance. He also confirmed my impression that the substitute GP is a moron, because an ECG =/ CTG.

I tried ringing the substitute GP's office. Several times. He didn't pick up. Which means that tomorrow I have to go queue in his surgery. Again. And get him to a) write a request for the correct test and the correct # of test at the very least b) possibly persuade him to try and change the time-stamp for the pregnancy week. Knowing my chronic inability to deal with conflict and speak up for myself, this sis going to be so not fun.


Yes, it's not a huge problem (I can still fix it) and it's a good thing I didn't leave this til the last minute (the substitute GP doesn't have surgery hours on Tuesday afternoon)...but still. Running into a doctor who is a moron is one of the least pleasant experiences ever. I mean, you'll always meet morons in life, that's the way it is, but when the moron in question is a doctor, it is worrying. *sigh*
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine

Sixth and as far as I know final Codex Alera book.

It is pretty interesting re-reading a six-book series pretty much in "binge" mode (travel, unadvised non-use of sunscreen leading to spending a day pretty much reading, plowing through #2 to #5, with #6 being completed over the next couple of days in drips and drabs). It is something I have occasionally done, but nothing so recent as this, I think.

Back from surgery

Jul. 22nd, 2014 07:20 am
crafty_packrat: Heart design on whorl of a polymer clay spindle (Default)
[personal profile] crafty_packrat
I had my surgery yesterday (thanks, [ profile] fabrisse for sitting with me beforehand), and stayed the night at [personal profile] meri_oddities because even with outpatient surgery, one really shouldn't be alone the first 24 hrs afterwards.

Medical details, possibly tmi )By about 2 am I could lay flat, and this morning I managed to take a shower and dress myself. I'm going to be very cautious about lifting anything with my right arm for the next few days, but hopefully it won't be a problem by the end of the week.

And maybe I'll actually be hungry soon, since I've eaten two pudding cups and two cups of yogurt, but the attempt at soup and soft bread I had to give up on after only a few spoonfuls. Ginger ale seems to help, or at least has calories -- I can get a 32 oz glass of water down, but it takes a couple of hours... and a straw, since my neck is still stiff.

Anyway, I seem to be on the mend, and hope to be up to light socializing soon.

Interesting Links for 22-07-2014

Jul. 22nd, 2014 12:00 pm
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine

Fifth Codex Alera book. See previous entries, as those comments would only be repeated and that would bore everyone to tears.
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine

Fourth Codex Alera volume. Things that happened in the past come back and pay off (or, pay forward). Things happen taht set future things up. Some element of justice is reaped (see "come back and pay off"). Some things that have been hinted at pretty strongly become explicit, to everyone intimately concerned.

I do, on the whole, like Codex Alera and enjoy its fictional universe.


cynthia1960: me from Wiscon Chronicles v. 3 (Default)

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