SpecGram Vol CLXXIV, No 1 Contents Letters to the Editor

Don’t Settle for Second-Best

A Letter from Associate Editor Mikael Thompson

A couple of months ago certain of our editorial coterie were sitting in the musty, mildewed Old World splendor of the club room of our journal offices, comparing notes over snifters of nitrate and brandy of our recent respective travels across this splendid New World of ours. To our puzzlement we discovered that much the same public lecture series had been presented in small towns in Washington, Texas, Utah, Connecticut, Nevis, Tlaxcala, and, alas, Nunavut (than where none smaller may be found). We pooled our collective memories of the announcements we had seen on billboards and in newspapers and reconstructed a fiendishly devilish program of lectures on such arcane matters as the linguistic consequences of Edward Longshank’s castle-building in Wales, prehistoric connections between Japan and Tierra del Fuego, cicadas as our burgeoning hive-mind overlords as suggested by acoustical measurements, the classical and medieval roots of Herbie Hancock’s collective oeuvre, reactionless drives and the swiftness of cats, Jamaican Creole as the human proto-language, and a sociolinguistic study of World Navajos.

Lucja Iwanska and Stuart C. Shapiro (eds.), 2000, Natural Language Processing and Knowledge Representation: Language for Knowledge and Knowledge for Language, MIT Press.

Chiasmus of the Month
September 2015

A protracted series of quick1 searches on the Internet by our less favored interns yielded no public announcements available to the world at large of any of these lectures, which only puzzled and alarmed us further. Our least favored interns were then dispatched (after the usual precautions involving family members and undisclosed locations to ensure a swift completion of the appointed task) to the respective venues for careful investigative work, by which it transpired that in no case had the audience exceeded twelve. A pair of surreptitious cellphone recordings2 showed paltry performances ranging from ramshackle to robotic and threadbare content that was utterly bereft of sense or entertainment value. Our very own Butch McBastard then took his toolbox and two weeks off and returned with certain financial details. In all cases the speakers had been paid sums upwards of $27,000 a pop, of which 10% was deposited in an account under the speaker’s name and the balance in another of several accounts, though obtaining further knowledge of the latter was felt to be inadvisable.

This was most worrisome. Our legal advisors, Socum Hart & Offen, informed us that while we might be able to put together a strong case that these lectures were nonsense, there is as yet no prior restraint on same.3 Pursuant to further inquiry, they noted that neither is there a legally actionable case for brand dilution. Before hanging up, they confirmed that proactive measures are often helpful in establishing brand protection under intellectual property law. Upon a reminder that 人情鍊達即文章, our very own Butch McBastard made a few calls to distant relatives, and follow-up indicates that the former lecturers are now seeking different employment on other land masses.

Now, while the public has been spared third- to nth-rate supply, nonetheless demand remains high, and clearly it is demand of a peculiarly munificent sort. To any interested parties, we note that this is a demand we are extremely well situated to meet, and to our regular readers, we hope you enjoy our latest offerings.

1 That is, as quick as use of government-surplus TRS-80s allows. Don’t scoffover-reliance on large memory encourages sloppy programming habits.

2 As the possession of such expensive (i.e., non-gratis) toys was prima facie evidence of theft from party or parties unknown, the interns concerned were severely and ingeniously punished.

3 Smart-aleck comments about the possession and careless use of certain small-scale explosive devices were studiously ignored.

Letters to the Editor
SpecGram Vol CLXXIV, No 1 Contents