The Null Device

2010/9/30

The Rolling Stone has an article by gonzo journalist Matt Taibbi looking at America's right-wing populist Tea Party movement, which started off as a vaguely Libertarian movement but has since become an incoherent tangle of old white people scared of people not like them, and is well along the path of being assimilated into a tool of America's corporate elites to dismantle the remaining regulations that stand between them and feudal dominance. Anyway, a few of the many choice passages from the article:

A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can't imagine it.
Those of us who might have expected Paul's purist followers to abandon him in droves have been disappointed; Paul is now the clear favorite to win in November. Ha, ha, you thought we actually gave a shit about spending, joke's on you. That's because the Tea Party doesn't really care about issues — it's about something deep down and psychological, something that can't be answered by political compromise or fundamental changes in policy. At root, the Tea Party is nothing more than a them-versus-us thing. They know who they are, and they know who we are ("radical leftists" is the term they prefer), and they're coming for us on Election Day, no matter what we do — and, it would seem, no matter what their own leaders like Rand Paul do.
The individuals in the Tea Party may come from very different walks of life, but most of them have a few things in common. After nearly a year of talking with Tea Party members from Nevada to New Jersey, I can count on one hand the key elements I expect to hear in nearly every interview. One: Every single one of them was that exceptional Republican who did protest the spending in the Bush years, and not one of them is the hypocrite who only took to the streets when a black Democratic president launched an emergency stimulus program. ("Not me — I was protesting!" is a common exclamation.) Two: Each and every one of them is the only person in America who has ever read the Constitution or watched Schoolhouse Rock. (Here they have guidance from Armey, who explains that the problem with "people who do not cherish America the way we do" is that "they did not read the Federalist Papers.") Three: They are all furious at the implication that race is a factor in their political views — despite the fact that they blame the financial crisis on poor black homeowners, spend months on end engrossed by reports about how the New Black Panthers want to kill "cracker babies," support politicians who think the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an overreach of government power, tried to enact South African-style immigration laws in Arizona and obsess over Charlie Rangel, ACORN and Barack Obama's birth certificate. Four: In fact, some of their best friends are black! (Reporters in Kentucky invented a game called "White Male Liberty Patriot Bingo," checking off a box every time a Tea Partier mentions a black friend.) And five: Everyone who disagrees with them is a radical leftist who hates America.

(via MeFi) hypocrisy politics rightwingers usa 0

The latest language added to Google's translation tools: Latin. Or, as the official announcement puts it:

Hoc instrumentum convertendi Latinam rare usurum ut convertat nuntios electronicos vel epigrammata effigierum YouTubis intellegamus. Multi autem vetusti libri de philosophia, de physicis et de mathematica lingua Latina scripti sunt. Libri enim vero multi milia in Libris Googlis sunt qui praeclaros locos Latinos habent.
Convertere instrumentis computatoriis ex Latina difficile est et intellegamus grammatica nostra non sine culpa esse. Autem Latina singularis est quia plurimi libri lingua Latina iampridem scripti erant et pauci novi posthac erunt. Multi in alias linguas conversi sunt et his conversis utamur ut nostra instrumenta convertendi edoceamus. Cum hoc instrumentum facile convertat libros similes his ex quibus edidicit, nostra virtus convertendi libros celebratos (ut Commentarios de Bello Gallico Caesaris) iam bona est.
In other words, while Latin is a dead language, and few if any people are going to send emails (or nuntios electronicos, as the Romans would have called them), the translator is useful because of the vast number of books wholly or partly in Latin. And, while there is little new Latin text to train the engine on, there is a huge repository of existing Latin texts and translations, of varying antiquity, many of which Google have digitised. Which works quite adequately for translating the sorts of things likely to have been written in Latin.

Sadly, the same can't be said for Google's English-to-Latin translation; at the moment, for a lot of inputs, it seems to do little more than change the order of the words around, getting stumped on words like, say, "translate" and "Latin".

google language latin tech 3