Posts filed under “Books & Literature”


Dear Dr. Boli: Under certain circumstances a key combination on my computer will produce an emoji, which is a graphic substitute for thought that has become very popular among the lower classes lately. Since it is possible to hit one of these key combinations by accident, my question is this: is there some adjustment I can make in the preferences that will prevent my computer from ever producing another emoji again as long as I live? —Sincerely, 😠.

Dear Sir or Madam: An amendment to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it illegal to tamper with the emoji system in any software, even if the software is otherwise open-source. A reporting requirement is included in the amendment, which probably explains the pounding at your door right now.


To spoil the surprise for you, the answer appears to be no. Not yet.

Zoho Writer is actually a very good online word processor, which Dr. Boli mentions because has no wish for Zoho, by all accounts an honest and upstanding Indian company, to suffer on account of anything he is about to say.

But when you are advertising your advanced artificial-intelligence capabilities, you ought to have someone outside the coding pit check to make sure that your AI assistant is not in fact as dumb as a box of rocks.

Writer comes with Zia—an AI assistant trained to help you improve your writing. It understands the context of your sentences and comes up with grammar, readability, and style suggestions to further polish your piece.

Sounds swell! Now look at the screenshot. (You can click on it to enlarge it.) This is not text Dr. Boli made up to put Zia through her paces. This is the screenshot Zoho published as a demonstration of Zia’s advanced artificial intelligence.


In this text, Zia has made two suggestions (three if we count underlining the “of”’ after “due”). Of those, one is completely wrong. Adverbs of frequency do in fact usually come before a simple verb, though you can probably think of a dozen exceptions before you finish reading this sentence. (“Do you come here often?”) However, the usual placement in a compound verb is between the auxiliary and the main verb. The original text is correct: “She has always been” is much more natural than “She always has been,” though the latter may be used to emphasize the “has.”

Now read that original text, and you will find a few questionable things that Zia has not flagged. Among them: the incomprehensible phrase “tour of visiting us,” the Donald-Trump-style capitalization of “Airport,” the missing “up” in the expression “to pick her,” the extra space between “was” and “from” at the beginning of the second paragraph, the un-English relative clause (“who could speak” where “and could speak” would be the English norm), “spain” and “spanish” without capitals, the un-English article in “had a lunch,” the missing article in “having amazing day,” the missing apostrophe in “Its,” and of course the non-native expressions throughout, which (to be fair) might be natural to a speaker of Indian English. Dr. Boli may have missed a few, but this is a very good list for nine lines of text. In nine lines with at least twelve obvious errors, Zia has flagged two and has flagged one correct expression as wrong.

Once again, Dr. Boli has decided to wait a little longer before he has a fit of panic about the coming artificial-intelligence apocalypse.


Here is a puzzle to occupy a few spare minutes. These quotations are from a very long commercially motivated comment, which Dr. Boli declines to publish as a comment. But he will print these quotations as a little intellectual exercise for his readers.

Clearly, this text was produced by what the Internet calls “article spinning,” which is the business of allowing an algorithm to substitute synonyms for various words in the hopes of producing a “new” article from old text, thus fooling search engines into thinking it counts as original content.

Your challenge, dear readers, is to look at this text and reverse the process: that is, find the synonyms that will make this text make sense again. For example, “advantage” = “better,” and “pro” = “for,” so “My advantage half and I have been married pro 15 years” now makes sense. (You can see that the distinction of parts of speech is not always observed in the spinning algorithm.)

Wikipedia’s article on article spinning tells us, “Once considered spamdexing, a black hat SEO practice years ago, the practice is now admitted as a fair way to lower the similarity ratio, resulting large catalogs of more or less similar items.” Do you suppose that the Wikipedia article was written by someone with an interest in the spamming business?

There are a modulation of factors that abet to a in clover unity compatibility, empathy, a stubborn renunciation to consecrate up so you can undiplomatic your mother-in-law wrong. My advantage half and I have been married pro 15 years and I can asseverate that all of these things thing, but an peculiarity of the hint reasons we’re appease together is because of the BOB Duallie Stroller.

Take into inseparable’s dominion me explain.

We cause twins. They’re 11 to the fullest extent a finally of essence and wonderful children when they’re not being unequivocally irrational tweens, but the fugitive while between birth and, assert, the advance 11 was correct insanity. Exceptionally those initially craggy years when the kids depended on us in the fullest fitted everything. Having two babies at long ago is stupid. At least one of them is as a matrix visit crying. And they not in any speed drowse at the done time. Ever. So, as a well-spring, you dish not at home of the closet a a deposit of devise crying and not sleeping, too. And arguing. There’s so much to converse about here when you’re sleep-deprived. Every so often you introduce honourable to live on maintain on the refer to notes management from Mommy and Me music class.

You backwards the Duallie a stroller, I prerequisite about it a union counselor that you purely shield to surrender to $700 once.

My confine stayed at effectively with the babies owing the zenith infrequent years of their ascendancy, while I went to a cushy assert administer to, so I can solely cogitate on of the sensitive torture she went all the way in the course on a diurnal fundamental between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. But there was a lunch break. Every time, I’d clock on section at hours and depreciate the kids accurate towards an hour-long go crazed in the BOB Duallie, a uncouth, side-by-side two-ply stroller that was a piece in vengeance representing our relationship. You rouse the Duallie a stroller, I docket it a federation counselor that you right-minded profitable to repetition $700 once. That lunch weaken gave me the crevice seeking some guilt-free working-out while affording my provoke a mid-day exude up from having to emissary to to two pigmy dictators.

The kids were well-deserved a infrequent months antiquated when we prime started the ritual. I had to things blankets in every governing them to expand kit up in the scale of the seats, like when you’re in mesial juncture create and you’re Sanctum sanctorum Ec. don gives you an egg to protect looking in class of a week. The kids were on the everything pernickety at administrator, but a mile into the exert oneself with because they’d individual effectively down and lift the ride. I’d talk to them in a lenitive ascertainment while I was sustained, pointing disguise dogs and flowers and detailing beyond contempt rumors hither our neighbors. And the kids loved their stroller time. It gave them a inadvertently b perhaps to interact with the formidable whopping people in a more retired temperament than sitting in a automobile undertake in affords. We employed the stroller to bludgeon parks from inseparable finish to the other metropolitan area, getting up closed and overfamiliar with dogs, captivating leaves in the fight back up, and getting snowed on in the winter. The Duallie facilitated libidinous blood bonding grow older since us and helped affirm the boring decamp as an plain lore in our lives.


Teddy the Tardy Tardigrade, by Teenie Sparkle. Oh no! Teddy the tardigrade is late for school! And he forgot his homework! And there’s a big jelly stain on his school uniform! And an asteroid impact has caused a new ice age and disrupted the atmosphere and raised radiation levels to 500 times normal! Watch Teddy learn the valuable lesson that sometimes saying “I’m sorry” is all it takes to fix everything.



Sometimes, when one is looking for something in the Internet Archive, one finds books with cover designs that one can only describe as questionable, such as the one for this edition of Froissart’s Chronicles.