The story behind red alert

by Eszter Hargittai on July 25, 2004

This short film by zefrank seemed to make it to some corners of the blogosphere in March, but I don’t think it got the type of exposure it deserves. Go behind-the-scenes to learn about the making of the yellow-orange-red alert system (Tinky Winky reference and all!:). Warning, only visit the rest of the site if you have plenty of time to spare!

A splendid novel

by Chris Bertram on July 25, 2004

I finished Andrew Crumey’s “Mr Mee”: last night, and, to adopt the “Chris Brooke evaluative vocabulary”: , it is truly splendid and I’m going to read his other books as soon as I can. Crumey weaves together three interlocking stories: the unworldly octogenarian Mr Mee, and his discovery of the internet, porn and sex; the reflections of a terminally ill professor of French literature on his life, work on Rousseau, Proust, and (most pressingly) his plan to seduce his favourite student; and the adventures of Ferrand and Minard, two characters from Rousseau’s _Confessions_. I’ll avoid posting spoilers, but along with the “Monty Hall problem”: , we’re also treated to versions of Searle’s Chinese Room and Ned Block’s entire population of China, and one of the protagonists, seduced by an 18th century anticipation of the functionalist theory of mind, tries to construct a computer from string and paper. Anyone who has ever taught or been taught elementary logic will laugh aloud.

Weekend trivia

by Eszter Hargittai on July 25, 2004

I was playing Scattegories with some friends last night and ran into an interesting scenario. The game is about coming up with names of things/people/places/etc that begin with a particular letter. The goal is to get as many points as possible and you get a point if yours is a unique answer for the particular category. Apparently, one of the rules is that you cannot use the same response for more than one category. Initially this did not seem like a big deal. After all, what are the chances that a capital and a menu item or an insect name and a crime would be the same? But it turns out, it happens more often than one might think. I suspect this may be because you are so focused on the letter and the words you have already come up with that if one of them fits another category, you’ll make the connection relatively quickly. You have three minutes to find a dozen matches, that’s a lot of cognitive switching in a short span of time. I ended up with the same response to the following two categories: President and Product Name (which we interpreted as brand name). What was my answer? There are probably several matches depending on the letter, mine happened using the letter H. I got the product name first and then realized there had been a U.S. president by the same name. Knowing the outcome, it would make sense to figure out the match here the other way around, of course.;) Remember, no Web searches available during the game and you have about fifteen seconds to come up with a response. (Of course, from the point-of-view of the game this is a silly exercise since the goal is to avoid such overlaps, but we’re not playing that game.:)