Monday, November 1, 2021

Facebook Language Woes of Its Own Making

Lost in Transliteration: Facebook has many problems, not the least of which is with its translation app. 

An Israeli friend posted a recruitment message in Hebrew for a technology company. Listed were several open positions. All well and good until the final job classification—the Hebrew transliteration of “fashionista.” 


The problem? Facebook translated it as “fascist.” 

Just past midnight Sunday I notified Facebook of the egregious app faux pas, but as of 5 pm Monday no correction had been made. Of course, I’ve also notified my friend.

Lost in Translation: Facebook no longer wants to be known as simply a social media company. So, founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg has changed the corporate name to Meta, signifying a transition to a metaverse, what he says is where the physical and digital worlds come together (please do not expect me to explain it in any deeper way).

Zuckerberg’s Meta has fostered its fair share of ridicule and skepticism, perhaps the most cutting from Israelis, including my friend Karin, who noted, “I think Mark Zuckerberg must have skipped that one Hebrew class when they explained what “Meta” means….Well, for my non Israeli/Jewish friends, “Meta” in Hebrew means - SHE IS DEAD…so good luck with that, Mark    


Original Intent: Many of our Founding Fathers surely led contradictory lives. Chief among them—Thomas Jefferson, whose statue will be removed from the New York City Council chambers because he was a slaveholder of more than 600 humans, who even upon his death failed to free most of them. 

This despite his credited authorship of one of the most famous passages in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent & inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness.” 

Of course, that statement was the result of community editing with other delegates to the Second Continental Congress. 

In Jefferson’s first draft, a handwritten copy of which Gilda and I saw last week in an extraordinary Polonsky Exhibition of “treasures” collected by the New York Public Library (including a first edition Gutenberg Bible and a majestic King James Bible, an original copy of the Bill of Rights and original Winnie-the-Pooh and Friends dolls), the Declaration’s principal author had the following description of the slave trade expunged from the final, adopted transcript: a “cruel war against human nature itself” and “an assemblage of horrors.” 

The Library’s accompanying commentary properly reflects, “Jefferson’s omitted passage allows us a solemn opportunity: to imagine how history might have been different if, from the beginning, the United States had taken a stand against the evils of enslavement.”

Frankensteinian Attack: It being the season of Halloween, it was no surprise that a horde of horror movies, including “Frankenstein,” “Dracula,” and “Phantom of the Opera,” found their way onto home television screens (can’t say “small screens” as in the past, as many, including yours truly, enjoy viewing films on 50-inch plus monitors). 

“Young Frankenstein,” the comedic sendup written by Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder, and directed by the former, was shown Saturday night on TCM (Turner Classic Movies). A few days before watching part of the film, I viewed a 2019 documentary TCM aired on Carl Laemmle, the German-Jewish immigrant who founded Universal Studios in the early 20th century and who rescued many Jews from Nazi Germany during the late 1930s. Among its many notable films Universal concentrated on horror flicks—“Frankenstein”, “Dracula,” “The Mummy,” “The Invisible Man” and their many offshoots, to cite a few titles. 

Deep into the documentary, there was a clip from 1974 of Brooks promoting his then new film on “The Tonight Show.” Brooks used the occasion to once again comically malign my given name. “There was a director many years ago by the name of James Whale who made all those wonderful ‘Frankenstein’ movies,” said Brooks. “He made ‘Frankenstein,’ ‘The Bride of Frankenstein,’ ‘The Son of Frankenstein,’ ‘The House of Frankenstein,’ ‘Frankenstein’s Friend, Murray.’”

Brooks never seems to miss an opportunity to verbally assault my given name ( 


More Westerns: I was admonished for not including some classic Westerns in my list of favorite oaters. Chief among them, “High Noon,” “The Magnificent Seven,” “3:10 to Yuma” (Van Heflin-Glenn Ford version), “The Shootist,” and the recently released “News of the World.”

Guilty on all counts, though to be honest, while I often rewatch “High Noon” I do not think it is among Gary Cooper’s best. As I wrote to a friend in my defense, “Gary Cooper was anti-violence in several movies—“Friendly Persuasion” and “The Hanging Tree,” to name two—so it was not a reach for him in “High Noon.” I like the movie but not as much as his others like “The Westerner” or “Along Came Jones” where he mixed in some humor in his portrayals.”