A whole mess of news

I’ve been neglecting the news, basically due to stress, so I’ve had a lot of RSS feeds to plow through. I’m totally not done; I’ve just gone through News Aggregates, Odd/Weird, and Local News. Here are some highlights.

Via Slashdot, New Scientist: Software learns to translate by reading up:

Translation software that develops an understanding of languages by scanning through thousands of previously translated documents has been released by US researchers.

Most existing translation software uses hand-coded rules for transposing words and phrases. But the new software, developed by Kevin Knight and Daniel Marcu at the Information Sciences Institute, part of the University of Southern California, US, takes a statistical approach, building probabilistic rules about words, phrases and syntactic structures.

The pair founded a company called Language Weaver in Los Angeles, US, to sell the software as an automated translation tool. They already offer technology that can translate to or from English with four languages – Arabic, Chinese, French and Spanish.

The key to their “statistical machine translation software” are the translation dictionaries, patterns and rules – translation parameters – that the program develops. It does this by creating many different possible translation parameters based on previously translated documents and then ranking them probabilistically.

It sounds…Google-esque. And pretty common-sensical, too. I wonder if using texts translated 10 or 20 or 50 years ago would affect the results of modern texts, or if languages don’t significantly change in those time periods…there are oodles of studies that could be done using this software. (I haven’t read Language Log in ages…maybe they’ve already talked about this…)

Via Slashdot, Earth Reactor Forums: LOKI TORRENT LAWSUIT :: THE FACTS

Ed Webber knowingly manipulated the p2p community into donating a large amount of funds while during the same exact time, without the knowledge or agreement of the p2p community, closed a deal that potentially puts each and everyone of his supporting bit torrent community and website visiting members at risk.

I’m not really sure what I think about this, but whenever it seems like people are defending their right to own copies of television shows and movies without paying for them or having to watch commercials, I get skeptical. I mean, I don’t think it’s ethically bad to download something that isn’t available for purchase, but if there are DVDs available, you don’t need to download rips from the DVDs. You need to buy the DVDs. (And don’t give me the whole “I’m just downloading it for a preview, and if I like it, I’ll buy it” argument. How many times have you actually bought something after downloading it? [Unfortunately, it would be self-incriminating to answer that question…])

Via BoingBoing,a freaky helipad tennis court that I could so not play on, for fear of running after the ball and careening off the side.

Via BoingBoing, a crazy-cool ergonomic desk solution. Also via BoingBoing, an ergonomic pen.

Well, according to Reuters (via Yahoo! News – Oddly Enough), I’m not the only one bad at geography. (They should all play these web games!)

And finally, young Japanese women see no need to get married. Well, obviously, they all want to follow their careers, and enjoy their lives, and keep themselves available to be my mistresses. Um, I mean, good for them! Obviously, they realize that Japanese men are fucked up, and want no part of that. Er, that is…uh, too bad about the possible future population decline, right?