Charlie Brooker on Macs

by Chris Bertram on February 4, 2007

There’s “a wonderful rant against Macs”:,,2006031,00.html and their owners (me, Kieran, half the rest of CT) from Charlie Brooker in the Guardian today. Daniel will be pleased. Brooker concentrates on Apple’s odd decision to use David Mitchell and Robert Webb in their ad campaign (and helpfully, the ads appear on the same page, at least to UK readers and maybe to the rest of you).

bq. The ads are adapted from a near-identical American campaign – the only difference is the use of Mitchell and Webb. They are a logical choice in one sense (everyone likes them), but a curious choice in another, since they are best known for the television series Peep Show – probably the best sitcom of the past five years – in which Mitchell plays a repressed, neurotic underdog, and Webb plays a selfish, self-regarding poseur. So when you see the ads, you think, “PCs are a bit rubbish yet ultimately lovable, whereas Macs are just smug, preening tossers.” In other words, it is a devastatingly accurate campaign.

Wikipedia Follies

by Kieran Healy on February 4, 2007

Via “Teresa Nielsen Hayden”: come “Lore Sjöberg’s views on Wikipedia.”:,70670-0.html He says in part:

Wikipedia is a new paradigm in human discourse. It’s a place where anyone with a browser can go, pick a subject that interests them, and without even logging in, start an argument. … The Wikipedia philosophy can be summed up thusly: “Experts are scum.” For some reason people who spend 40 years learning everything they can about, say, the Peloponnesian War — and indeed, advancing the body of human knowledge — get all pissy when their contributions are edited away by Randy in Boise who heard somewhere that sword-wielding skeletons were involved. And they get downright irate when asked politely to engage in discourse with Randy until the sword-skeleton theory can be incorporated into the article without passing judgment.

This reminds me of my friend “Dave Chalmers”: and his abortive efforts to suggest some clean up of the Wikipedia entry on “consciousness”:, especially the bits relating to his own well-known book _The Conscious Mind_. He registered a username and — politely — made a suggestion. “The results”: were not encouraging:

As can be seen above, most of your criticisms are not supported. Please demonstrate your familiarity with the field by supporting your critique with reasoned arguments rather than pejorative comments. *loxley* 08:50, 3 October 2005 (UTC)

Marshall McLuhan here. *Philos* is right about each of the points above. The philosophy section would be much improved if it reverted to the “philosopher’s” edit of a few days ago. *DavidChalmers* 23:51, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

How is he right about the points above? The points are clearly detailed and you could easily explain your criticism. Please could you also explain how cutting the historical, empirical descriptions of conscious experience and supervenience would improve the article. Why do you have the ID “DavidChalmers” yet use the name Marshall McLuhan? The only famous philosopher called Marshall McLuhan died in 1980. Are you taking the piss or are you philos with a duplicate ID? *loxley* 11:13, 5 October 2005 (UTC)

The user with ID DavidChalmers who claims to be the deceased and famous Canadian philosopher Marshal McLuhan should note that using the name of a living, prominent person as a USERID is against Wikipedia guidelines. *loxley* 11:19, 5 October 2005 (UTC)

My userID is my own name (I presume that’s allowed). “Marshall McLuhan” was an _Annie Hall_ reference. Sorry if that wasn’t clear. I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to get into a long argument involving an entry where I am discussed. But since you’ve invoked my name twice (here and on the history page) in support of your claims, I thought I should register my judgment here. I appreciate all that you and others have done to build up this entry. But your discussion in the article and above shows fairly basic misunderstandings of supervenience (the Derrida quote has no bearing on supervenience), direct realism (it’s not true that direct realists see the explanatory gap in terms of access consciousness), functionalism (it’s not true that “experience of” is a functionalist or eliminativist locution), and so on. I’m sorry! And I’ll bow out now. *DavidChalmers* 23:36, 5 October 2005 (UTC)

Dear Prof. Chalmers, Thank you for your comments. I respect your willingness to bow out of decisions where conflicts of interest emerge, but I would like to stress that your informed opinion and guidance is most valuable here. This page has great potential to teach many curious readers about our current understanding of consciousness in an accurate and approachable way. I believe that all here would agree that this subject is a difficult one to get right and teach well, and thus your contributions here are most certainly a welcome public service. Many thanks for your past (and hopefully future) contributions. Cheers, *sallison* 01:47, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

Sallison: yuk. Chalmers, if that is your name, your criticisms are not in the spirit of Wikipedia. Don’t wave your hand with a pompous air of authority, get them dirty by actually contributing. I have given details of the assertions in the philosophy section that you can rebut in the section below. *loxley* 10:56, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

I’m not sure how things stand these days with that entry. Hopefully it improved.

Superbowl dance

by Eszter Hargittai on February 4, 2007

Not interested in football, but still want to get into the Superbowl spirit? Check out Jeremy’s “The Boy Detective” dance choreographed for the occasion. Try at your own risk.

Requisite addendum from a Chicagolander: Go Bears!

Welsh Cakes

by Harry on February 4, 2007

There are some dishes which you just can’t imagine that anyone in their right mind would dislike. Others, however much you love them, you assume to be idiosyncratic tastes. Such was always the case with Welsh Cakes, which I love, but long presumed that was because I associate them with long childhood walks in West Wales and visits to my maternal grandparents. Prompted by a colleague, I felt forced to bring an “ethnic” food to the final session of a class we taught (after, I should add, evaluations), and rushed off some welsh cakes because they are low effort and I had the ingredients to hand. I found that everyone raved about them and, in fact, that has turned out to be a universal reaction. So, add this to your CT recipe book:

[click to continue…]

Anatol Rapoport is dead

by John Q on February 4, 2007

Anatol Rapoport has died at the age of 95. Among many contributions, perhaps his most widely-known was the Tit-for-Tat rule for repeated games of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, embodied in a four-line program Rapaport successfully entered in a contest run by Robert Axelrod. Rapoport’s program co-operates inititially, and thereafter matches the other player’s last action, defecting in response to a defection, and returning to co-operation if the other player does so. There’s more here from Tom Slee.