The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Monday, October 14, 2002

The Universal Sense of Humor

A few weeks ago I received a check for a considerable sum of money. It wasn't from a company that I recognized and there was nothing within to indicate what it might be for, I assumed it had something to do with the sale of Condo Conner. I of course deposited the check and forgot all about it.

Until today.

Found out that my car insurance was cancelled (and today was the last day of coverage) and that the check I received some weeks ago was the balance remaining on my now cancelled insurance. In talking with my insurance agent it turns out my account was cancelled because of a speeding ticket I received in April of 2001.

Which, if you do the math, is over one and a half years ago!

Seems they took exception to a speeding ticket at 18 miles per hour over the posted limit over one and a half years ago with no tickets since and felt they no longer needed my business.


I'll skip the rants about the racket known as “insurance.”

Now, last week I received in the mail (postal mail, not e-mail) notification that I am potential “Settlement Class member” of a class action suit against my previous car insurance company and that if I elect to participate and that insurance company loses the suit, I get back $10 per six-month policy period (which for me, would mean a whopping $20—woo hoo).

Guess who's the only insurance company that gave me a quote?

The universe has a bizarre sense of humor.

It bites tadpole of the wax

What happens when an English phrase is translated (by computer) back and forth between 5 different languages? The authors of the Systran translation software probably never intended this application of their program. As of April 2002, translation software is almost good enough to turn grammatically correct, slang-free text from one language into grammatically incorrect, barely readable approximations in another. But the software is not equipped for 10 consecutive translations of the same piece of text. The resulting half-English, half-foreign, and totally non sequitur response bears almost no resemblance to the original. Remember the old game of “Telephone”? Something is lost, and sometimes something is gained.

Via Mr. Barrett, Lost in Translation

It's a neat little application that uses BableFish to convert to and from English five times and produces some rather amusing translations. We have years yet before anything remotely close to a universal translator is invented.

Oh, and the title? That's what you get when you translate a transliteration of an American company into Chinese through the above application.

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