Put words between buns!

Courtesy of Ian Bogost (previously): a meme generator that puts words between buns!

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Chicago's 'Aloha Poke Co' wants Hawaiians to stop using the words 'aloha' and 'poke'

"Aloha Poke [Co.] would prefer to settle this matter amicably and without court intervention," reads a letter from Olson and Cepuritis Ltd, lawyers representing Chicago's Aloha Poke Company, addressed to the owner of Honolulu's "Aloha Poke Shop." Read the rest

Ghanaian parliament erupts into giggles as MPs learn about towns called "Vagina is Wise," "Penis is a Fool" and "Testicles are Sad"

Members of the Ghanaian lost their composure in fits of giggles and guffaws when MP John Frimpong Osei listed out the names of towns in his district that were awaiting electrification. Read the rest

Voice assistants suck, but they suck worse if you have an "accent"

Research into the shittiness of voice assistants zeroed in on a problem that many people were all-too-aware of: the inability of these devices to recognize "accented" speech ("accented" in quotes because there is no one formally correct English, and the most widely spoken English variants, such as Indian English, fall into this "accented" category). Read the rest

Rockstar: a programming language whose code takes the form of power ballads

Dylan Beattie created the (functional, but a) joke programming language "Rockstar" so that recruiters would be forced to end the odious practice of referring to people as "rockstar programmers." Read the rest

Google Translate's deep dream: some translation requests yield weird religious prophesies

Feed 19 repetitions of the word "dog" to Google Translate and ask it for a Maori conversion and you get this: "Doomsday Clock is three minutes at twelve. We are experiencing characters and a dramatic developments in the world, which indicate that we are increasingly approaching the end times and Jesus' return." Read the rest

Smoke some shoes? The DEA's list of slang terms for cannabis

The US Drug Enforcement Agency has released its latest edition of "Slang Terms and Code Words: A Reference for Law Enforcement Personnel." Predictably, some of the terms are rather questionable. From Reason:

A few of the terms, like "terpenes" and "MMJ" (short for medical marijuana), are not actually slang terms. Other names on the list, like "shoe," appear to be completely made up. Worse, "Devil's Lettuce" is italicized in the report, revealing that the relatively old term was only added in this year.

Meanwhile, "blunts," "good," and "gas" were apparently not important enough to make the cut.

This whole thing reminds me of the great "grunge speak" prank pulled on the New York Times in 1992 by Megan Jasper, then Sub Pop's receptionist and now the label's CEO. Anyway, here is the DEA's complete list of current slang words for marijuana:

420; A-Bomb (marijuana mixed with heroin); Acapulco Gold; Acapulco Red; Ace; African Black; African Bush; Airplane; Alfalfa; Alfombra; Alice B Toklas; All-Star; Almohada; Angola; Animal Cookies (hydroponic); Arizona; Ashes; Aunt Mary; AZ; Baby; Bale; Bambalachacha; Barbara Jean; Bareta; Bash; Bazooka (marijuana mixed with cocaine paste); BC Budd; Bernie; Bhang; Big Pillows; Biggy; Bionic (marijuana mixed with PCP); Black Bart; Black Gold; Black Maria; Blondie; Blue Cheese; Blue Crush; Blue Dream; Blue Jeans; Blue Sage; Blueberry; Bobo Bush; Boo; Boom; Branches; Broccoli; Bud; Budda; Burritos Verdes; Bush; Cabbage; Café; Cajita; Cali; Camara; Canadian Black; Catnip; Cheeba; Chernobyl; Cheese; Chicago Black; Chicago Green; Chippie; Chistosa; Christmas Tree; Chronic; Churro; Cigars; Citrol; Cola; Colorado Cocktail; Cookie (hydroponic); Cotorritos; Crazy Weed; Creeper Bud; Crippy; Crying Weed; Culican; Dank; Devils’s Lettuce; Dew; Diesel; Dimba; Dinkie Dow; Diosa Verde; Dirt Grass; Ditch Weed; Dizz; Djamba; Dody; Dojo; Domestic; Donna Juana; Doobie; Downtown Brown; Drag Weed; Dro (hydroponic); Droski (hydroponic); Dry High; Elefante Pata; Endo; Escoba; Fattie; Fine Stuff; Fire; Flower; Flower Tops; Fluffy; Fuzzy Lady; Gallina; Gallito; Garden; Garifa; Gauge; Gangster; Ganja; Gash; Gato; Ghana; Gigi (hydroponic); Giggle Smoke; Giggle Weed; Girl Scout Cookies (hydroponic); Gloria; Gold; Gold Leaf; Gold Star; Gong; Good Giggles; Gorilla; Gorilla Glue; Grand Daddy Purp; Grass; Grasshopper; Green; Green Crack; Green-Eyed Girl; Green Eyes; Green Goblin; Green Goddess; Green Mercedes Benz; Green Paint; Green Skunk; Greenhouse; Grenuda; Greta; Guardada; Gummy Bears; Gunga; Hairy Ones; Hash; Hawaiian; Hay; Hemp; Herb; Hierba; Holy Grail; Homegrown; Hooch; Hoja; Humo; Hydro; Indian Boy; Indian Hay; Jamaican Gold; Jamaican Red; Jane; Jive; Jolly Green; Jon-Jem; Joy Smoke; Juan Valdez; Juanita; Jungle Juice; Kaff; Kali; Kaya; KB; Kentucky Blue; KGB; Khalifa; Kiff; Killa; Kilter; King Louie; Kona Gold; Kumba; Kush; Laughing Grass; Laughing Weed; Leaf; Lechuga; Lemon-Lime; Leña; Liamba; Lime Pillows; Little Green Friends; Little Smoke; Llesca; Loaf; Lobo; Loco Weed; Loud; Love Nuggets; Love Weed; Lucas; M.J.; Machinery; Macoña; Mafafa; Magic Smoke; Manhattan Silver; Manteca; Maracachafa; Maria; Marimba; Mariquita; Mary Ann; Mary Jane; Mary Jones; Mary Warner; Mary Weaver; Matchbox; Matraca; Maui Wowie; Meg; Method; Mersh; Mexican Brown; Mexicali Haze; Mexican Green; Mexican Red; MMJ; Mochie (hydroponic); Moña; Monte; Moocah; Mootie; Mora; Morisqueta; Mostaza; Mota; Mother; Mowing the Lawn; Muggie; My Brother; Narizona; Northern Lights; Nug; O-Boy; OG; O.J.; Owl; Paja; Palm; Paloma; Palomita; Panama Cut; Panama Gold; Panama Red; Pakalolo; Parsley; Pasto; Pasture; Peliroja; Pelosa; Phoenix; Pine; Pink Panther; Pintura; Plant; Platinum Cookies (hydroponic); Platinum Jack; Pocket Rocket; Popcorn; Porro; Pot; Pretendo; Prop 215; Puff; Purple Haze; Purple OG; Queen Ann’s Lace; Red Hair; Ragweed; Railroad Weed; Rainy Day Woman; Rasta Weed; Red Cross; Red Dirt; Reefer; Reggie; Repollo; Righteous Bush; Root; Rope; Rosa Maria; Salt and Pepper; Santa Marta; Sasafras; Sativa; Shoes; Sinsemilla; Shmagma; Shora; Shrimp; Shwag; Skunk; Skywalker (hydroponic); Smoke; Smoochy Woochy Poochy; Smoke Canada; Sour OG; Spliff; Stems; Sticky; Stink Weed; Sugar Weed; Sweet Lucy; Tahoe (hydroponic); Tangy OG; Terp; Terpenes; Tex-Mex; Texas Tea; Tigitty; Tila; Tims; Top Shelf; Tosca; Train Wreck; Trees; Trinity OG; Tweeds; Valle; Wake and Bake; Weed; Weed Tea; Wet (marijuana dipped in PCP); Wheat; White-Haired Lady; Wooz; Yellow Submarine; Yen Pop; Yerba; Yesca; Young Girls; Zacate; Zacatecas; Zambi; Zip; Zoom (marijuana mixed with PCP)

"Slang Terms and Code Words: A Reference for Law Enforcement Personnel" (DEA, PDF) Read the rest

Browser extension to fix the NYT's squeamishness about calling Trump a liar

The New York Times doesn't like to call Donald Trump (who is a compulsive liar) a liar; they deploy the squeamish euphemism "falsely claimed" in place of "lied" -- with Gabriel Gironda's NYT Speak Chrome extension (source code here), you can remedy this situation. (Thanks, Gabriel Gironda!) Read the rest

Cockygate defeated: judge finds "Cocky" trademark for romance titles unenforceable

You'll recall that self-published romance author Faleena Hopkins undertook the sociopathic step of registering a trademark on the word "Cocky" in the titles of romance novels and then had her rivals' works removed from Amazon, threatening to sue any writer who used the common word in a title in the future. Read the rest

Dank Learning: teaching a machine learning algorithm to generate memes

A physics student and an engineering student from Stanford fed 400,000 memes to a Long Short-Term Memory Recurrent Neural Network and asked it to generate more memes of its own. Read the rest

Bayer and Monsanto merge into a new company called "Bayer" because Nazis have a better reputation than Big Ag

The $63 billion takeover of Monsanto by Bayer prompted a thorny branding question: what to call the new company? The company's management has announced its decision: the new company will be called "Bayer," despite the name's longtime association with Nazi slave labor camps, fatal human subjects experiments conducted on prisoners supplied by the Nazis, and complicity in the production of Zyklon B, the lethal poison used in concentration camp gas-chambers. Read the rest

A glossary of Franken-words

It's the bicentennial of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, a tale that casts a long shadow in many domains, including the linguistic. Read the rest

All Rights Reserved: a YA dystopia where every word is copyrighted

In Gregory Scott Katsoulis's All Rights Reserved, we get all the traditional trappings of a first-rate YA dystopia: grotesque wealth disparity leading to a modern caste system, draconian surveillance to effect social control in an inherently unstable state, ad-driven ubiquitous entertainment as the only distraction from environmental collapse -- but with an important difference.

Jargon watch: smishing and vishing

Smishing: phishing with SMSes. Vishing: phishing with voice-response systems. A pair of Romanian hackers have been extradited to the U.S. after allegedly bilking unwitting victims out of more than $18 million in an elaborate voice- and SMS-phishing (i.e., vishing/smishing) scheme. [Tara Seals/Threatpost] (via Beyond the Beyond) Read the rest

An ice-cream maker tries to figure out what AI ice-cream flavors derived from metal band-names would taste like

Janelle Shane (previously) is a delightful AI researcher who likes to use machine learning systems to produce absurd, inhuman outputs, such as a list of AI-created notional ice-cream flavors generated by merging a list of real ice-cream flavors with a list of metal band names and pressing "go." Read the rest

How Amazonian drum communication sounds (and acts) like human speech

In the forests of the Amazon, West Africa, and Asia, villagers often beat on large drums to send messages miles away. While you may think that the patterns are similar to Morse Code, they're actually simplified versions of the villagers' spoken languages, "without consonants or vowels but with enough connection to the original language that speakers can reliably interpret what they mean." In newly published research, University of Cologne linguist Frank Seifart and his colleagues reveal how it's done. From Science:

All but one of the 20 or so drummed speech systems come from tonal languages, including Yoruba in Nigeria, Banda-Linda in the Central African Republic, and Chin in Myanmar. Spoken Bora has two tones, which are recreated using two different drums made from hollowed logs, called manguaré. The thinner “male” has a higher tone, and the thicker “female” has a lower one.

But tone alone isn’t enough to distinguish all the words a drummer might want to say. So Seifart and his colleagues looked at what he calls a “neglected” quality in linguistics—-rhythm...

The intervals between beats changed in length depending on the sounds that followed each vowel. If a sound segment consisted of just one vowel, the time after the beat was quite short. But if that vowel was followed by a consonant, the time after the beat went up an average of 80 milliseconds. Two vowels followed by a consonant added another 40 milliseconds. And a vowel followed by two consonants added a final 30 milliseconds.

These short durations are enough to distinguish the drummed messages for “go fishing” and “bring firewood,” which are identical in tone, but not in their ordering of consonants and vowels.

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The story of Don the talking dog

In 1912, Don the dog took American vaudeville by storm. A European immigrant, Don spoke German, or at least 8 words of it. He reportedly said things like kuchen (“cake”), hunger (same word in English and German), and his own name. A celebrity and media darling, Don went from the stage to starring in newspaper ads for Maltoid Milk-Bone dog treats. Over at Smithsonian, Greg Daugherty tells the whole story of this curious canine:

Off stage, Don’s purported ability to talk was taken seriously even in academic circles. Lending some credence to the notion that a dog might actually converse, the inventor Alexander Graham Bell had once claimed that as a young man he taught his Skye terrier to say “How are you grandmamma?”

On a 1913 visit to San Francisco, Don and his handlers called on J. C. Merriam, a respected paleontologist at the University of California at Berkeley, who, if contemporary newspaper accounts are to be believed, was “astonished” and “declared his belief that the dog can reason and think for himself.”

Earlier, the respected journal Science had another explanation, based on statements by a University of Berlin professor who had also examined Don. His conclusion, the journal reported in May 1912, was that “the speech of Don is… to be regarded properly as the production of sounds which produce illusions in the hearer.”

How the hell does he know though? Did he ask Don? Read the rest

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