Sunday, August 24, 2014

Paleos, lorem ipsum and a break from a reptile diet ...

A relentless paleo diet of reptiles from the lizard Oz can play havoc with the digestive system.

Which is why the pond recommends Elizabeth Kolbert's piece for The New Yorker, Stone Soup How the Paleolithic life style got trendy, happily outside the paywall right at the moment - quick, digest it while you can.

Kolbert sets exactly the right tone for a meditative Sunday:

Though the paleos, the anti-glutenists, and the lard-ons are not exactly anti-vaccination or Area 51 types, they are, by necessity, conspiracy theorists. There must be some reason that the U.S. government has kept the dark truth about spelt and tofu hidden from us. Durant blames “the vegetarian lobby.” Teicholz suspects “olive oil money.” 
For almost as long as people have been eating, they’ve been imposing rules about what can and can’t be consumed. In tribes or clans with totem animals, the totem is off limits. The Jews have the laws of kashruth, which, in addition to disallowing pork and shellfish, also forbid the consumption of reptiles, amphibians, and most kinds of insects (though there are some species of kosher locusts). Islamic dietary law divides foods into halal and haram; to the latter category belong pork, dog, cat, and monkey. Hindus do not eat beef, and many eat no meat at all. The Moru of South Sudan allow only children and old people to eat chicken and eggs, and some groups of Cushitic people in northeastern Africa avoid fish. (“Speak not to me with a mouth that eats fish” is a taunt recorded in Somalia by the nineteenth-century British explorer Richard Francis Burton.) The Yazidis, a group of ethnic Kurds who live mainly in Iraq, will not eat lettuce, and Jains eat no onions or root vegetables.

Weird shit, how strange are the various demands of the various Shes who created the universe, and Kobert goes on to contemplate the faecal implications of the paleo diet for the modern world, but who can argue with the notion that reptiles should be off limits? Though more for the benefit of mind than the benefit of stomach ...

And then a kind reader forwarded to the pond a now relatively old posting that's been doing the Facebook rounds in relation to Lorem Ipsum, and the wonders of Google translation, which you can discover here, Lorem Ipsum: Of Good and Evil, Google and China.

Now the pond has always loved Latin, ever since reading in the original tongue about Caesar sending Servius Galba with the twelfth legion into the territory of the Nantuates (he's still doing it in translation in the Gallic wars here).

But it turns out there's another international conspiracy at work. It's not just the paleos and the religious fruitcakes and fundies, it's Latin lovers who are sending messages which get through the pond's aluminium hat.

Conspiracies are everywhere, as Krebs explained after contemplating the weird results Google would reliably produce when translating Latin phrases into English:

Here’s the rub: “For some languages, however, we have fewer translated documents available, and therefore fewer patterns that our software has detected. This is why our translation quality will vary by language and language pair.” 
Still, this doesn’t quite explain why Google Translate would include so many references specific to China, the Internet, telecommunications, companies, departments and other odd couplings in translating Latin to English. 
In any case, we may never know the real explanation. Just before midnight, Aug. 16, Google Translate abruptly stopped translating the word “lorem” into anything but “lorem” from Latin to English. 

Bummer, spoil sports dude. But hey:

Google Translate still produces amusing and peculiar results when translating Latin to English in general. 
A spokesman for Google said the change was made to fix a bug with the Translate algorithm (aligning ‘lorem ipsum’ Latin boilerplate with unrelated English text) rather than a security vulnerability. Kraeh3n said she’s convinced that the lorem ipsum phenomenon is not an accident or chance occurrence. “Translate [is] designed to be able to evolve and to learn from crowd-sourced input to reflect adaptations in language use over time,” Kraeh3n said. 
“Someone out there learned to game that ability and use an obscure piece of text no one in their right mind would ever type in to create totally random alternate meanings that could, potentially, be used to transmit messages covertly.”

Now the pond thought that Krebs was indulging in a bit of leg-pulling, but straight away had instant success with the Krebs test:

Now who can argue with that impeccable translation? And how did Google conjure up Minneapolis from that bit of Latin?

Never mind, Minneapolis is indeed a pain, and henceforth the pond intends to consult Google translation as if reading the I Ching, the tea leaves, the runes, or the chicken entrails ...

It's already proven immensely handy, when the pond came across an obscure phrase:

And what about this?

And then knock the pond down with a feather, but the very same reader sent along this cruel photo which has apparently been doing the Facebook rounds:

Yes, yes, it reduces the pond to the level of Abbott in opposition, and the Murdoch tabloids of the moment, but if it was good enough for Julia Gillard, this sort of juvenile mockery and personal jibe, then it's good enough for ...

Now back to Google:

Cum in Italiam proficisceretur Caesar, Ser. Galbam cum legione XII. et parte equitatus in Nantuates, Veragros Sedunosque misit, qui a finibus Allobrogum et lacu Lemanno et flumine Rhodano ad summas Alpes pertinent. 2 Causa mittendi fuit quod iter per Alpes, quo magno cum periculo magnisque cum portoriis mercatores ire consuerant, patefieri volebat. 3 Huic permisit, si opus esse arbitraretur, uti in his locis legionem hiemandi causa conlocaret. 4 Galba secundis aliquot proeliis factis castellisque compluribus eorum expugnatis, missis ad eum undique legatis obsidibusque datis et pace facta, constituit cohortes duas in Nantuatibus conlocare et ipse cum reliquis eius legionis cohortibus in vico Veragrorum, qui appellatur Octodurus hiemare; 5 qui vicus positus in valle non magna adiecta planitie altissimis montibus undique continetur. 6 Cum hic in duas partes flumine divideretur, alteram partem eius vici Gallis [ad hiemandum] concessit, alteram vacuam ab his relictam cohortibus attribuit. Eum locum vallo fossaque munivit. (original and translation here)

Ramparts and ditches!  That's what's needed. How could the coalition have forgotten the ramparts and the ditches for the cohorts in the winter?

They say small things amuse small minds, or at least they did in the small town of Tamworth, but hey, it stopped the pond from thinking about the even smaller minds of the feral lizards for at least this meditative Sunday ... and now time for some fish for lunch?


  1. On your advice, DP, I ran "These reforms will dramatically change university for the better, they will provide more opportunities for students, they will give our universities the chance to gain the revenue they need to become ... some of the best universities in the world" through Translate. It came out with 'equum stercore'. QED.

  2. Burn's famous Address to a Haggis was translated into German, and then back again and read "Great Fuhrer of the sausage people!"

  3. DP, your knowledge of rural squalor and its associated odours will recognise Foreign investment in agriculture breathes life into rural communities. When a florid investment banker with BMI of 35+ says "These people are going to breathe new life into our rural communities" is one justified in wrinkling one's nose at deployment of "these people"? Maybe it's me, but my vision of the "new life" included a drastic lowering of the Basic Wage and total freedom given to foreign investment to hire "off the plan" in rural climes of SE Asia. Perhaps "these people" would work for fried chicken?

    1. By coincidence DD the pond was listening this morning to Off Track's story of the Bjelke Petersen government's attempts to get the mining of the Great Barrier Reef going.

      By golly we'll still manage to fuck over the deep north yet, don't you worry about that ...


Comments older than two days are moderated and there will be a delay in publishing them.