My recent use of scare quotes ("patriot") reminded me of some work I did a while back on automatic recognition of insulting messages. I believe I was the first person to write (or at least publish about) flame recognition software. For a humorous account, see "Of Flames, Fan Mail, and Software That Can Tell the Difference" (published in The Chronicle of Higher Education). I'm proud to say the work was also mentioned in Maledicta: The International Journal of Verbal Aggression.
For the boring technical details, see:
"Smokey: Automatic Recognition of Hostile Messages", Innovative Applications of Artificial Intelligence (IAAI) '97.
Tom Cruise's denials of being gay have inspired some very witty commentary. Back in 2001, Cruise sued people and publications that claimed he was gay and flaunted his affair with Penelope Cruz. Writer Jeff Stryker responded in the San Francisco Chronicle by pointing out that "Tom Cruise and his girlfriend Penelope Cruz are flamboyant homophones". As far as I know, Cruise hasn't sued Stryker for this claim.
More recently, a panelist on Wait Wait -- Don't Tell Me! remarked that, every few years, Tom Cruise remakes himself, showing up with a new beard or sometimes facial hair. (Don't get it? See the Urban Dictionary.)
(I'm a strong supporter of sexual minorities and normally wouldn't mock people by suggesting they're gay, but I think a public figure who flaunts his love life and repeatedly comments on his sexuality is fair game. I also feel free to target possible hypocrisy. I once alarmed my young niece by announcing that hypocrites weren't welcome in our house. She's a Harry Potter fan and thought I said "hippogriffs".)
I recently bought a container of Dannon yogurt whose label cheerfully proclaimed: "Room in every cup for your favorite mix-in". Apparently, they now put 6 instead of 8 ounces of yogurt in the same-sized container for the same price. It never ceases to amaze and amuse me how marketers tout shortcomings as features.
I guess I shouldn't complain, since my own industry launched the phrase, "That's not a bug -- it's a feature" [definition 6]. Consider the iPod Shuffle advertising, which presents the lack of an LCD screen as a feature (supporting randomness). (If you'd like to reduce randomness and are a computer scientist, try the Martin Shuffle.)
Years ago, when shopping for a diamond with the man who is now my husband, I was amused to learn than a flaw in a diamond is called a feature. I hoped to see a diamond with a gnat on it, which would let me exclaim, "That's not a feature -- that's a bug".
I work and do research in social networks and thought I'd seen everything. Still, I wasn't sure whether I was reading satire or reality in the August Wired article about "aSmallWorld, the ultraexclusive social networking Web site favored by supermodels, celebutantes, and Eurotrash". The article describes the plight of user Talal Bin Laden who accidentally broke a rule and was shunted to the "nonexclusive sister site" aBigWorld, which he compares to being "evicted to hell".
(My previous favorite beyond-satire from social networks (that I'm allowed to talk about) was the orkut song [mp3], which will probably only be funny to you if you used orkut in its early months; otherwise, you can read useful background information at Wikipedia.)
Texan Larry Chad Northern has been arrested for allegedly driving his pickup truck over hundreds of grave markers at Camp Casey bearing the names of soldiers who died in the Iraq War. Northern is an Army veteran who was reportedly awarded a Purple Heart for his service in Vietnam, a Republican supporter, and president of a local gun club.
While I probably should be gleeful over a Republican getting such bad PR for his side, I am saddened.
- Photo by TexasLady and edited by patrioticliberal
- Army veteran arrested in destruction of soldier memorial (wacotrib.com)
- OfficialWire: Waco Man Arrested After Desecrating Memorial
- L. Jean Camp brought this story to my attention
[Note from Ellen: Phil is my father, and Sylvia is my mother. I'm proud of them.]
Last week, Sylvia came up with the idea that we should drive to Crawford, Texas where Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, is seeking to meet with the President. I thought that it was a great suggestion and we drove there yesterday (Saturday).
As most of you must know, Ms. Sheehan has been camping outside of the President's ranch, he has refused to meet with her, she plans to stay for the rest of the month, she is gathering more and more supporters and this issue is receiving national news coverage.
Crawford is about 100 miles from Austin and it took us about two hours to drive there. Crawford has a population of about 700 and it is literally a one stoplight town. The town was probably heavily conservative even before the President came there and it certainly is now. At the corner with the stop light there is a large store selling GWB memorabalia.
Since most of the people were at the rally, we took a shuttle there and participated in the rally which had about 300 people. Several people made brief speeches, mainly people who had lost loved ones and felt that we have been lied to. There were a couple of performers. The second, Eliza Gilkyson sang an anti-war song which brought tears to my eyes. The song is called "Man of God", a sarcastic reference to President Bush.
I am most focused on the hypocrisy of the President on this, not to mention on so many other subjects. He is hunkered down on his ranch and will not meet with her. On Friday, he and his entourage drove past Camp Casey in a motorcade with tinted windows to a fundraiser at a neighboring ranch where they reportedly raised more than $2 million for Republican candidates. He has time to do this, but not to meet with a grieving mother who is seeking to ask him why we are at war.
On the July 25 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly said:
"The ACLU is also demanding that more pictures of the abuse at Abu Ghraib be released. The Defense Department is fighting that. Everybody knows those pictures incite violence against Americans. So why should more of them be fed to the press? We already know what happened at Abu Ghraib, and people are going to prison because of it. Clearly, more pictures of Abu Ghraib help the terrorists, as do Geneva Convention protections and civilian lawyers. So there is no question the ACLU and the judges who side with them are terror allies."
You can see the footage (which I first saw on The Daily Show) at http://mediamatters.org/items/200507260002.
- Bill Clinton's claiming that whether he lied about his affair with Monica Lewinsky "depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is".
- Arnold Schwarzenegger's becoming governor of California and calling his Democratic opponents "Girlie Men".
- The 2000 presidential race.
- Lawrence Summers' 1991 memo, as chief economist at the World Bank, arguing that "the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable".
I know I've forgotten some and look forward to comments.