Like a Strobing Light


… please confuse my every decision:

  • Can a pun-spouting raccoon really be the next big meme? I doubt it, but since this is Pun Salad…

  • A few days ago, I referred to an amusing rant from incoherent leftist David Glenn Cox. One of his targets was AOL's purchase of the Huffington Post. Sample:
    Look at AOL's purchase of the Huffington Post, was it to expand AOL's balance sheet? Or was it because AOL thought that they could do a better job of running the place? It was about Capitalism and Capitalism's sole purpose is to make money. Why didn't AOL with their deep pockets and expertise build their own web site? Capitalism buys to either make their own or to eliminate from competition its rivals. AOL will maximize the advertising while minimizing the product until it is just another organ of the loyal opposition, the phony left, the phony center, the phony phony.
    AOL no doubt wishes that it were the ruthlessly competent "Capitalist" money-making enterprise imagined by David Glenn Cox. But as a Slashdot headline asserted last month:
    60% of AOL's Profits Come From Misinformed Customers
    I can't resist adding: "… making it a natural partner with the Huffington Post."

  • I first heard about the Turing Test back in high school, when I happened to read Mortimer J. Adler's The Difference of Man and the Difference It Makes. (It was mostly about what separates us from very smart animals, but it discussed computers as well.) Turing suggested that if a computer could carry on a natural-language discussion with a human, and the human couldn't tell whether he was talking to another human or a machine, then the machine could be said to be "thinking."

    That's been disputed. Nevertheless, nowadays the Turing Test is an annual event. One of the participants from last year's contest, Brian Christian, relates his story in the Atlantic.

    In two hours, I will sit down at a computer and have a series of five-minute instant-message chats with several strangers. At the other end of these chats will be a psychologist, a linguist, a computer scientist, and the host of a popular British technology show. Together they form a judging panel, evaluating my ability to do one of the strangest things I've ever been asked to do.

    I must convince them that I'm human.

    Fortunately, I am human; unfortunately, it's not clear how much that will help.

    It's very funny. Also you can learn stuff.

Last Modified 2012-09-27 11:41 AM EST

After the Thin Man

stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

This 1936 movie is a sequel (obviously enough) to 1934's The Thin Man. It's safe to say if you liked the first one, this one's a safe bet too.

The Thin Man closed with our heroes, Nick and Nora, on a train heading off to California. This one opens with them arriving in San Francisco. They find their home has been taken over by a welcoming surprise party. Amusingly, none of the drunken revelers recognize them. Nick just wants to relax, but Nora's rich family summons them up to (my guess) their Nob Hill mansion for a stuffy dinner party, filled with dowagers and geezers.

But of course, there's mystery to be had there. Nora's cousin Selma is married to no-goodnik Robert, and Robert's gone missing. Waiting in the wings is straight-arrow George (Jimmy Stewart!), who still has feelings for Selma. The idea is to buy off Robert into a quickie divorce so that George and Selma can get hitched.

Selma asks Nick to track down Robert, and of course Nora tags along. Robert's found easily enough in a spectacularly disreputable night club, but (as it turns out) nearly everyone despises him and has some sort of motive to wish him dead. That's like wearing a red shirt in a Star Trek episode. So pretty soon, it turns into a whodunit.

There are a lot of laughs along the way. (Poor Asta finds that Mrs. Asta has been less than faithful in his absence, and that's milked for all it's worth.)

Last Modified 2012-09-27 11:41 AM EST