Friday, April 06, 2007

 
IBM has announced that it will supply major amounts of Arabic-English translation software to the U.S. armed forces. The gift is to fill the yawning gap left in this vitally needed service caused by the dismissal of hundreds of human translators solely on the grounds of their being gay or lesbian. The government itself has recognized that the current lack of Arabic translators has caused a critical situation in American-Iraqi communications that is highly counterproductive to Bozo's current reincarnation of "stay the course".

Yet in the face of all reason, Bozo himself has endorsed the dismissals under Don't Ask, Don't Tell in a recent White House Rose Garden press conference. Asked if he agreed with General Pace's controversial comments that gay and lesbian soldiers, sailors and marines are "immoral", Bozo said he would make no moral judgments; asked if he still supported DA,DT he said yes indeed, because it's a good policy.

In a perverse way (unless it were to further endanger any American serving in Iraq or Afghanistan) I kind of hope IBM supplies the kind of translation quality that you get when you feed text into any of the on-line translation systems.

Wednesday afternoon I went up to Fritz's for dinner with him and a good friend of ours who was staying over to be near Manchester Airport for an early morning flight. An early April snow storm was roaring in with extremely heavy, wet snow as we got to bed. About 2:40AM on Thursday something woke us in one bedroom and our friend in the other. A minute or so later there was a violent flash like a military trace rocket that lit up our rooms through the shades. In bright electric green with brilliant white sparks, it lasted for about three seconds, and repeated almost immediately. The electricity went out. We still had phone service when I called 911 to report some sort of event with the transformer on the pole in front of Fritz's property.

The 911 lady said it was happening all over town, that electric lines were coming down and that all emergency services were aware. We went back to bed but were too wired to go back to sleep. At some point the power came back on. About an hour later the flash repeated, far brighter this time and lasting longer at about ten seconds. Power went out again and we finally drifted to sleep.

When I got to MIT our technical director, who knows much more about electricity than I do, said that from my description we had experienced plasma arcs (seen here recreated in a lab). These are bursts of intense electricity arcing from one terminal to another--in this case from the transformer to the ground.

By the time I called Fritz to tell him, at the height of the power outages, 55,000 New Hampshire homes were without electricity in the area. By 6pm, that was down to 32,000 but his hadn't been restored as of 9pm. I called him several times during the evening to cheer him up and wish I could be there with him. But tomorrow I have a 16 hour day ahead of me as I supervise and work on the put-in, set up, rehearsal, performance, strike and load-out of The Paul Taylor Dance Company's touring arm.

We were told by the faculty member who had invited the company to MIT that we should only set up about 100 chairs for the audience as he expected only the considerable dance community at MIT to attend. Then for some reason he gave the green light to an ad that ran in the Boston Globe and Boston Herald. The phone was ringing off the hook all afternoon. MIT's safety regulations for the hall don't allow an audience over 200 and we're beginning to be concerned that we may be turning a lot of people—not very happy people—away.

Comments:
I wonder if some mischievious IBM tech will create a translator like Monty Python 'Do you wannnnt to come to my place bouncy bouncy?"
 
I don't know how many more blogs from people living in the Northeast I can respond to about this weather thing. Seems to have pervaded everyone's postings for months and months now.....and it's APRIL!! I have a feeling that the Easter sunrise services are going to be cold with snow piling up on the heads of the believers.
 
"In a perverse way (unless it were to further endanger any American serving in Iraq or Afghanistan) I kind of hope IBM supplies the kind of translation quality that you get when you feed text into any of the on-line translation systems."

TYPED INTO TRANSLATOR: "What do feel the United States can do to alleviate the violence from suicide bombers?"

TRANSLATED TEXT: "I would like to have fun with your donkey, if he is willing to wear red without suicidal alleviation."
 
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