Transcendental Bloviation

Politics, Space, Japan

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Rat-enabled language identification

Well, sort of.

I don't think those horrible phone voice-response systems will be employing rodent wetware any time soon. It seems that rats can be trained to tell the difference between someone speaking Dutch and someone speaking Japanese - provided it's the same person.

Someone once said that Dutch isn't a language, it's a throat disease. From years of failing to master Japanese, I can tell you that Japanese isn't a language either - it's a kind of facial paralysis. So they are really just two readily distinguishable diseases. That's a possible application area, come to think of it. But do you think the FDA would approve the use of rats in a diagnostic technique, especially given that rats have been such a major disease vector through out history? Somehow, I don't think so.

Rats telling the difference between Spanish and Italian, regardless of who is speaking, now that would impress me. None of the rats around our neighborhood are anywher near that bright. Why, you know what one of them said to me the other day? Aw fergeddit.

[Yes, I did steal that joke from Woody Allen. From his early standup comic years. Does that date me? Hey, at least I can get a date! HAR!]

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Earth to JAXA: did you go off your meds?

As a sometime Japanese-English translator, I'm no stranger to meanings getting lost in translation. Sometimes they get lost in space, too, I guess. Or so I gather from this report, with its deceptively cheery headline, "HAYABUSA's ion engines achieve 20,000 hours of Space Operation".
... The telemetry bit rate is also gradually falling, so that the operation team feels helpless.

HAYABUSA spacecraft, which is executing the maneuver operation diligently and automatically in the lonely deep space, is sturdy and dependable rather than us.

Doesn't sound like the champage corks are a poppin'. C'mon, guys, it's the new year! Genki o dashite!