04.30.18

At Last! Backlash Begins Against Overuse Of Exclamation Points

"More likely than not, most people - women in particular - do it to make sure their message reads as friendly and not too ... insert-negative-quality-here: corrective, cold, aggressive. Perhaps the irony is that the punctuation itself is too much. And if conversations taking place recently on social media are any indication, there may be a revolt brewing that could pry those exclamation points from our prose, particularly in work-related communications, in favor of more nuanced language on the internet."

A Debate About Whether Truth Exists

Can we have knowledge of the past? Does science progress toward a more truthful apperception of the physical world? Or is it all a matter of opinion, a sociological phenomenon that reflects consensus, not truth? Unfettered emission of greenhouse gases promotes global warming. Species evolve through natural selection. Can we meaningfully assess the truth of these assertions?

What Makes A Great Translation? 10 Translators Weigh In

It’s easy to say what a bad translation is. The ones that are accidentally jagged like the person wielding the scissors was drunk. The ones where someone has misunderstood the original, or perhaps misinterpreted it. The ones where all individuality has been smoothed out. But how do we identify a successful translation? When have we done our job well? What is it we want to achieve, beyond mere fluidity?

The Original Laugh-Track Machine, And The Man Who Became Its Virtuoso

It was know as the Laff Box, and it was mocked up - jerry-rigged, almost - by mechancial engineer Charlie Douglass. You've heard it on everything from The Munsters and Gilligan's Island to Cheers and MAS*H, and "[it] could chuckle. It could guffaw. It could laugh with sighed relief. It even had a reel, controlled by the foot pedal, that was only titters, one person lightly laughing at a time. At its most sophisticated, the box had 320 laughs" - and Douglass deployed them with surprising cleverness and subtlety.

Would You Ever Want To Be Able To Tap Into Someone Else’s Memories?

At some point in the future, could an A.I. company manufacture something akin to a neural bridge, allowing ordinary people to occasionally share their experiences? Maybe. Elon Musk recently announced the founding of Neuralink, a company that aims to put A.I. inside the head, merging humans and machines. Neural lace, the artificial hippocampus, brain chips to treat mood and memory disorders—these are just some of the mind-altering A.I. technologies already under development. While it may not be around the corner, a device akin to a temporary neural bridge—something that users can occasionally insert when they wish to share experiences—isn’t that far-fetched.

Enough With The Standing Ovations!

Call me old-fashioned, but I believe a standing ovation should be a precious thing saved only for that rare occasion where something is so extraordinary and superlative that you can’t help but want to salute it in a special way. I’m obviously in the minority.

Poland Has A New Chopin Competition – Using Strictly 19th-Century Pianos

"As Poland celebrates the centenary of its independence this year, the Fryderyk Chopin Institute in collaboration with Polish Television and Polish Radio has organised [the International Chopin Competition on Period Instruments] not only to celebrate the country's most beloved composer but to recapture Chopin's sound world by using Érards, Broadwoods and Pleyels - period pianos with which Chopin was intimately familiar." Reporter Andrew Larkin meets the competition's founder, Stanisław Leszczyński.