May 21, 2003
Not Master Inside My Own Skull

I'm shaving. I see, out of the corner of my eye, the dog trot into the bathroom. 55 pounds of very white Labrador Retriever ("How do you keep your dog so white?" someone once asked my wife. She said that she felt she had fallen into a laundry commercial, and wanted to reply, "Why, with CLOROX(tm) bleach with brighteners?" Actually, we just let the mud dry and it falls off when she rolls on the carpets). It's truly out of the corner of my eye, so I don't see much detail, but I see the moving of the legs, the wagging of the tail, the floppy ears. But there's no noise. "Why is the dog so silent?" I wonder. I turn right--and it's not a dog at all. It's just a piece of shaving cream on my right sideburn. But I saw her. I know I saw here. I know I saw her as much as I see this computer screen right now, or as much as MacBeth saw his dagger of the mind before him.. Last week we went up to watch the lunar eclipse. During totality we saw the dim mottled reddish disk of the eclipsed moon .(But...

Posted by DeLong at 10:12 AM

June 20, 2002
Is Bablefish Ready for Prime Time Yet? No.

Is machine translation ready for prime time yet? | Translated version of http://www.emmanuelle.net (BETA) | Los Angeles, world capital of the dangerous distorsions in the car: on the freeways, essential expressways to move in this mégapole of more than 100 km North-South, it is not rare to see women to apply will mascara in the rear view mirror and of the men to consult their Palm Pilot with the wheel between the knees. The L.A. Times questions officers of California Highway Patrol (as the heroes of the series TV Chips) who tell rather incredible things: they saw a motorist to follow a match of foot (yes, astonishing soccer..., not?) by holding small tele of a hand, adjusting the antenna of the other. Another officer saw a woman threading a pair of sticking to 90 km/h! Unfortunately, the article is hidden in the site of Times and I cannot announce you the bond... but this police officer with the retirement with photographs amusing on its site of a motorist eating fast Chinese food with rods while slipping by to 112 km/h! Is Babelfish ready for prime time yet? It seems that the answer is still "No," and is likely to remain...

Posted by DeLong at 06:08 PM

April 11, 2002
Slicing Time More Finely

How is it possible that I have this illusion of living in the present, rather than a fraction of a second in the past, in my normal daily life? Given that I have this illusion, how come I could override it back when I was playing 'It's Academic'?...

Posted by DeLong at 03:57 PM

February 05, 2002
On the intelligence of dogs...

Mother dogs provide a good illustration of the onset, rate, and offset of innate motor patterns with their puppy-retrieving behavior. The mother dog is in her nest. She hears a puppy giving a distress call. She gets out of the nest, goes to the site of the sound, picks up the puppy, then carries it to the nest and places it with the other puppies. (Isn't she smart!) Puppy-retrieval motor pattern onsets after the last puppy in the litter is born. It offsets thirteen days later. After that time, a pup can give the call, but the mother does not respond by retrieving it. The puppy's retrieval call is a fascinating motor pattern. Each call is identical in pitch, amplitude, and duration. It is a species-specific call just like a birdsong. It is only given by puppies, and only when theyare lost. It is given continually until the pup is rescued. The onset of this innate motor pattern is at birth. The offset is roughly four weeks later, at the end of the suckling period. My Italian Maremmano-Abruzzese, Lina, got caught short one day because of her attention to sheep, and whelped her first puppy in the field. She left...

Posted by DeLong at 04:39 PM