The Sunlight Foundation, an organization dedicated to transparency in government, has analyzed 17 years of Congressional speech (per the Congressional Record) and found that the Flesch-Kincaid grade level of speech on the floor of the House and Senate has dropped by nearly a full year in the last decade. [more inside]
"Don't ever forget that you're a citizen of this world, and there are things you can do to lift the human spirit, things that are easy, things that are free, things that you can do every day. Civility, respect, kindness, character. You're too good for schadenfreude, you're too good for gossip and snark, you're too good for intolerance—and since you're walking into the middle of a presidential election, it's worth mentioning that you're too good to think people who disagree with you are your enemy.... Don't ever forget that a small group of thoughtful people can change the world. It's the only thing that ever has."On May 13th, Aaron Sorkin gave the commencement address to the graduating class at Syracuse University, a speech that has been mildly criticized for recycling some lines from his shows West Wing and Sports Night. Video. (Via.)
Novelist Neil Gaiman tells the graduating 2012 class of the University Of The Arts everything he wishes he knew starting out and all the best advice he failed to follow. (Vimeo 19:55)
Is liking a post on Facebook protected by the First Amendment? A US District Court says no. [more inside]
Dana Nieder explains how an ACC patent fight may substantially delay her daughter learning to speak. [more inside]
... it was notable for the nation’s top law enforcement official to declare that it is constitutional for the government to kill citizens without any judicial review under certain circumstances. ... “Some have argued that the president is required to get permission from a federal court before taking action against a United States citizen who is a senior operational leader of Al Qaeda or associated forces,” Mr. Holder said. “This is simply not accurate. ‘Due process’ and ‘judicial process’ are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.” [more inside]
Anatomy of a Stump Speech. The NY Times has been killing it of late with interactive features. This one is particularly good -- an annotated breakdown of the text and video of Republican stump speeches by four candidates. "Revisionist history alert: Mr. Gingrich is recasting his tempestuous tenure as House speaker..."
Scott Walker, Michele Bachmann, Robin Vos, Karl Rove, Joe Moore, Ron Paul, Scott Serota, Newt Gingrich, Rahm Emanuel, Eric Cantor, and, today, Barack Obama
Leonard Cohen's speech from his acceptance of the Prince Of Asturias Award for Letters, whereby he details a moving yet previously untold story about where he received his inspiration. [transcript]
Speak like Yoda, did you? May have we. [HuffPo] "New research published in the the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that the "proto-human languages" of 50,000 years ago resembled the speaking patterns of a certain wise, green Star Wars character."
"STANDING THERE on the dais, consider the world as a series of concentric rings of loyalty. The people in the nearest ring, those in the front row, are owed the most. You should speak first to them. And then, in the next measure, to the room itself, which is the next ring, and only then to the physical world outside, the neighborhood, the town, the place, and then, just maybe, to the machinations of life-muffling institutions." from How to Give a Eulogy. [more inside]
William Lawrence Cassidy has been indicted for a series of threatening tweets directed towards Alyce Zeoli, aka Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo, the leader of a Buddhist organization known as Kunzang Palyul Choling (KPC) to which Cassidy had belonged. There is however a small problem that federal prosecutors are employing a vague anti-stalking law that makes 'intentional infliction of emotional distress' through the use of 'any interactive computer service' a felony, rather than focussing more narrowly upon the outright threats. [more inside]
The Internet Is My Religion. Jim Gilliam gives a moving ten-minute speech at the Personal Democracy Forum on surviving cancer, faith, activism, interconnectedness and the internet. [more inside]
It is a strange, dubious and totally unaccepted moral purpose which holds the whole of the world to ransom.On 1 March 1985, New Zealand Prime Minister Rt Hon David Lange (Previously) addressed the Oxford Union in support of the proposition that "Nuclear Weapons are Morally Indefensible". That speech is online at publicaddress.net (audio, transcript, highlights) and still resonates today. [more inside]
On May 7th, Robert Krulwich (of WNYC's RadioLab and accompanying NPR blog Krulwich Wonders) gave the commencement speech to Berkeley Journalism School’s Class of 2011 on the future of journalism. (Via) [more inside]
"For me, to remember friendship is to recall those conversations that it seemed a sin to break off: the ones that made the sacrifice of the following day a trivial one." -Christopher Hitchens tries to come to terms with the loss of his voice. [more inside]
Mahalo! What A Week: US President Barack Obama at the recent White House Correspondence Dinner (SLYTP - 19 Min)
I asked what he had in mind, and he explained that he was taking a friend and embarking on a round-the-world trip, from the jungles of Africa to the streets of New York by way of India and Australasia, and planning to record any musicians he could find on the way into his Apple Powerbook, using it as a fully fledged multitrack recording studio. His intention thereby, he claimed, was to create a CD, DVD, and documentary film, all three of which would provide a snapshot of mankind at the turn of the new Millennium, and form a vast multimedia project designed to, as he put it, "celebrate the unity and the diversity of humanity". [more inside]
During a speech at George Washington University by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in which she condemned governments that arrest protesters and don’t allow free speech, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern was arrested and beaten by security for standing silently with his back turned during her remarks.
"Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak unleashed an unprecedented and systematic attack on international media today as his supporters assaulted reporters in the streets while security forces began obstructing and detaining journalists covering the unrest that threatens to topple his government." [more inside]
High school student "comes out" to entire school on MLK Day. Extraordinary.
The Speakularity is coming. So says (MeFi's own) Matt Thompson of NPR, posting at NiemanLab as part of its series, Predictions for Journalism 2011. Constant social feedback plus machine learning could improve automatic speech transcription to the point where it’s finally ready for prime time. And when it does, the default expectation for recorded speech will be that it’s searchable and readable, nearly in the instant. I know this sounds totally retrograde, but I think it’s something like the future.
The next day, Sunday, I spent almost nine hours immersed in Robert Lepage’s marathon play, Lipsynch, at the Bluma Appel Theatre, which was part of Luminato. You tell people you’ve just spent nine hours watching a play conducted in four languages (with projected sur-titles) and they think you’ve undergone an endurance test, made a heroic sacrifice for art. On the contrary. There was no suffering(5 minutes of [enthusiastic] standing and clapping). The time flew by. It was like taking your brain on a luxurious cruise. Or spending the day in an art spa, basking in mind massages and sensory wraps. Maybe it was high art but the ascent was effortless: because Lepage did all the work for you, it was experienced as pure entertainment. [more inside]
"Without the participation of Microsoft, these criminal cases against human rights defenders and journalists would simply not be able to occur"
Russia Uses Microsoft to Suppress Dissent - Adding to its long-running series on corruption and abuse in post-Communist Russia, the New York Times has reported on Russian authorities using the pretext of software piracy to seize computers from journalists and political dissidents critical of current policies. In a surprising twist, lawyers representing Microsoft have been found working with Russian police, despite reporters and NGOs providing evidence of legitimate software purchases. An official response to the NYT piece suggests impostors claim to represent Microsoft in Russia, and notes the company's offer of free software licenses to these and similar groups.
Valedictorian speaks out against schooling in graduation speech. Last month, Erica Goldson graduated as valedictorian of Coxsackie-Athens High School. Instead of using her graduation speech to celebrate the triumph of her victory, the school, and the teachers that made it happen, she channeled her inner Ivan Illich and de-constructed the logic of a valedictorian and the whole educational system.
"This nation was founded on the principle that the government must never choose between religions, or favor one over another."
"On September 11, 2001, thousands of first responders heroically rushed to the scene and saved tens of thousands of lives. More than 400 of those first responders did not make it out alive. In rushing into those burning buildings, not one of them asked 'What God do you pray to?' 'What beliefs do you hold?'"New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has recently defended the planned Cordoba Initiative Islamic Community Center and Mosque to be built near Ground Zero against critics. Yesterday, after the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to allow the demolition of a building that would be replaced by the center, Mr. Bloomberg gave a speech on Governor's Island (the location seems to have been deliberately chosen) in which he eloquently defended religious freedom. (YT: Video) (Previously on MeFi)
Ann Curry dispenses graduation advice to the wrong student body. Close but no cigar.
Oh, punt appalled bait oars, Hal. Why Computer Speech Recognition hasn't gotten any better since 2001. Or bed her sin stew thou send Juan.
Speech impediments mostly afflict boys. Often with pushy fathers. Social media is giving them a voice.
Oy coom too berry Sayzurr, nut too preyze im. That's a reconstruction of how Brutus's famous speech from "Julius Caesar" may have sounded to Shakespeare's original audience. (Scroll down in the linked page for the rest of the speech -- or look inside this post.) If you'd like to learn more about Original Pronunciation (OP), check out www.pronouncingshakespeare.com, where you'll find several recordings by David Crystal, the scholar who probably knows most about the subject. You can also listen to this example or this NPR broadcast, first linked to in this 2005 post, here. Ben Crystal, David's son, tries some OP here. [more inside]
heretical.com and its discontents. The US and the UK have incompatible perspectives concerning the ownership and distribution of web pages and comic books. The "Heretical Two" are a case in point. [more inside]
Next Tuesday, Sept. 8, speaking at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va. President Obama will address the youth of America during a live television broadcast urging them to stay in school. Some school districts, bowing to parent pressure, have decided not to show the speech during school. [more inside]
Obama speaks in Cairo: "I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world." Text is here. He quoted the Koran and highlighted a subject he avoided during his campaign - his own family's ties to Islam, his youth in Muslim Indonesia and even Chicago's Nation of Islam. An early roundup of US right wing reaction, and US left wing reaction, and the Middle East.
At GDC this year, Heather Chaplin to game developers: "You're a bunch of f***ing adolescents." Chaplin, co-author of the book Smartbomb, spoke at the Game Developers Conference during a panel called the Rant Session. [more inside]
"Infandous street corner Cromwell" George Galloway MP banned from entering Canada. Justified on 'National Security' grounds, specifically Section 34(1) of the Immigration Act. George Galloway reacts to Canadian Immigraton Spokesman Alykhan Velshi on Channel 4. Velshi suggests this is 'not a freedom of speech issue' but in this day and age of technology is the notion of banning individuals crossing geographical borders due to opinions held absurd. It would seem the Canadian Government think not. Intellectual Protectionism rears its head and the marmite of international politics basks in the publicity. Domestic navel gazing ensues.
Western musical intervals are derived from speech tendencies, according to Duke scientists. Specifically, "most of the 12 chromatic scale intervals correspond to peaks of relative power in the normalized spectrum of human vocalizations." A somewhat more layperson-friendly summary of the study is here. [more inside]
C-SPAN claims ownership of ALL domain names containing its service mark “C-SPAN” or any variation of it. What kind of pull does C-Span have that Walmart doesn't?
In 1989 Rob Pike, Penn & Teller, and Dennis Ritchie (one of the creators of UNIX), prank Arno Penzias, with a funky speech recognition demo.
A sampling from John Moschitta Jr.'s oeuvre: Minute Rice • Northern Exposure Series Recap • The Theory of Evolution in One Minute • As "Blurr" on Transformers • As Supersonic Seymour on Garfield and Friends • On Sesame Street: 1 2 • As the Micro Machines guy: 1 2 • And the role that catapulted him to fame
Obama Annotated. Marc Ambinder's play-by-play of the inauguration speech, courtesy of the Atlantic.
"The government of the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian Religion." ~ George Washington / "I do not find in Christianity one redeeming feature." ~ Thomas Jefferson / "The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my religion." ~ Abraham Lincoln / "A just government has no need for the clergy or the church." ~ James Madison / "I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end... where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice." ~ John F. Kennedy / "We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers." ~ Barack Obama
The president of a Savings & Loan sent the following email to his family: If you have one hour of your time to invest in learning more about the current economic crisis, I highly recommend you click on one of the two below links and view [Paul Krugman's Friday address to the National Press Club]. His remarks take about 1/2 hour followed by 25 minutes of Q&As. I believe you will find watching it worth your time. P.S. If you decide to view Krugman's speech, I recommend you view it "full screen" for the best effect of viewing his body language. Link 1, Link 2 [more inside]
The Waseda Talker has been turning heads (har har) lately. It's a mechanical simulation of the human vocal tract, from the motion of its synthetic lips down to the hypnotic undulation of its rubbery vocal folds (compare the genuine article here). Think this is new? Well, these days we do most of this stuff electronically — but talking simulacra have a long and weird history, starting back when electronic synthesizers were just a pipe dream. Here's a talking pair of bellows from 1791, and a head you can play like a trumpet as recently as 1937. The granddaddy of 'em all are the Kratzenstein resonators (not Frankenstein, Kratzenstein!) from 1779. Make your own with pipe insulation and a duck call.
An Introduction to Sine-Wave Speech Play the first sound and you'll probably hear nothing but squeaks and bleeps. Play the second one and then go back to the first. Cool!