Archive for the ‘Author: Michael Roberts’ category

The rather difficult font game

April 27, 2008

For you font mavens out there, the rather difficult font game. It can’t be that difficult, because even I scored 6 and I know almost nothing about specific fonts that aren’t embarrassingly widespread.


Alphabet “K” deemed dangerous

April 27, 2008

This just in: “The impact for using the wrong shape “K” does not only symbolise tragedy for humans but also God. Take part in coming up with the new “K” alphabet that is non-suicidal shape!” This has been a Public Service Announcement.


April 24, 2008

This week, the Spirit moved me to dig through the boxes of books still unpacked from our move down here from Bloomington, and so I’ve been reading Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies again — since I’ve just started, I’ve been thinking about Seek-Whence and its domain.

Naturally, my mind turned to the representation of the concepts involved. My last burst of creative energy with Copycopycat’s Slipnet and definitional language got bogged down when I started thinking more seriously about the conceptual structure of the Copycat domain, because the conceptual structure is, of course, the Hard Part. And while reading about Seek-Whence I realized that part of the reason it’s the Hard Part is that it’s not done yet — that is to say, when putting together Copycopycat, I’m trying to do two things at once. First, I’m trying to build a FARGitecture based on my notion of conceptual structure. But secondly, I’m trying to do so in a perceptual context.

Well, perception is hard. Maybe, I realized, it would be easier if I already had some of the mechanics of the whole conceptual structure thing done.

So. In writing about Seek-Whence, Doug (as is his wont) demonstrates a whole list of sequences which are part of the domain. And he mentions in passing (as is his wont) that representing the template for a sequence is kind of tricky.

Well, yeah. It’s tricky because it’s fundamental to cognition, this breaking down of the world into semantic units we can manipulate. Along the way, we use powerful perceptual and analogy-making tools, and those are cognition per se, but without that basic set of mechanisms, it’s all too big a chunk to bite off. Or so I posit.

This morning, though, I had an interesting notion: what if, instead of trying to do everything at once in the creation of a new conceptually-based FARGitectural variant, I were simply to try to come up with some semantic units which could be used to model — to think about — sequences in the Seek-Whence domain? Not to worry about how they get there (yet), just … build them by hand and try to do something with them.

But if that’s the task, the “do something with them” just leaps out, doesn’t it? Well, two somethings: the “easy” one — which is to take a semantic sequence structure and generate terms in the sequence using whatever arithmetic tools seem appropriate — and the “good” one. Which is to do variants on a theme.

The name of this project is equally obvious: Plot-Whither.

Now if I can only get the Muse interested …

Relativity in words of four letters or less

March 28, 2008

Now, see, this is FARG-tastic.

Language Log: X is the Y of Z

March 26, 2008

Language Log looks at the old X-is-the-Y-of-Z meme, with a great deal of focus on Switzerland. Harry, what is the Switzerland of Athens? You could be the first person in the world to answer that burning question!

Also today: The fractal theory of Canada. The Canada of the electron is the neutrino.

Syntactic analogy example

March 25, 2008

So Charlie Stross’s blog today had a very strange syntactic construction. Charlie was the guest of honor at an SF convention. Next year, he’s looking forward to attending, while not being a guest of honor.

Well, next year the eastercon is going to be held in Bradford, a city with which I am not unacquainted, and I’m really looking forward to not going to be one of the guests of honour!

Of course, it’s easy to see what he means — but something about “looking forward to not going to be” doesn’t ring true. (Partly this is because English has no future tense, despite all intuition to the contrary.) Clearly, another “ing” is needed. I submit that the obvious solution here is — and in a sense, this even sounds felicitous if you don’t think too hard:

I’m really looking forward to not goinging to be one of the guests of honour!

Works for me, anyway.

All the world in a song

February 28, 2008

From the excellent Strange Maps blog today: a musical score representing a map of the world.