I’ve been reading about this for months now. For some reason, I subscribed to Forbes in late 2010 and their story about artificial mind power on syndicated television game shows is the only thing from the publication I’ve read to date. Turns out I’m not really a Forbes kind of guy. Surprise, right?
Anyhow, all of this talk of digital daily doubles got me thinking: Who (or what, as it were) should I root for? Humans? Robots? It’s an epic clash of man and machine.
On the one hand, to root against Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter would be traitorous to my own kind. On the other, if Watson can eke out a victory against the best of the best, it will prove the technological prowess of our species. But is it acceptable to cheer progress, even if it is at the expense of real men?
After thinking about where my priorities are, however, I came to a conclusion: I can’t stand human Jeopardy! contestants. From their obnoxious little mannerisms to their uninteresting and tedious personal stories after the first commercial break, there are few players I can actually tolerate. And when Ken Jennings was on for 74 days in a row? It was like watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island: you know how it’s going to end, but it’s 7:30, I just ate, and the remote’s all the way over there. A recipe for disaster.
The computer doesn’t have any of those characteristics. No personal quirks, no faux humility, no propensity to be an annoying sack of bones. It’s for this reason – not because of the wonderment of a technological tomorrow – that I hereby endorse Watson in this contest.comment (0)
So, having not updated WordPress for fear of mucking up the works behind-the-scenes of this website, the works got mucked supremely this weekend. On Friday, I first noticed the blank page of death. Something must have been wrong with the database.
After a few hours of exporting, importing, and general nerdery, the site is back up and looking better than ever. However, before I could walk away I had to go through and reassign hyperlinks in over seven years of posts. As I was doing this, I realized something.
If you publicly blog over a period of years, you essentially assign homework to any legitimate prospective spouse. I don’t feel I would be completely comfortable spending my life with another person if she hadn’t read my every inconsequential rambling. Long-term blogging acts as full disclosure and a way for others to see how you’ve developed over time, both academically and in terms of the opinions you hold. It’s required reading.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Happy Valentine’s Day, kids.comment (0)
I have intentionally neglected to write about this until now, for fear that I would peter out two weeks in and have my words come back to haunt my dreams. Now that a month has passed, however, I reckon it’s time to codify this so I can hold myself accountable going forward.
On December 31, 2010, I was browsing my seven years(!) worth of blog entries. One in particular called out to me. Holy crap, I used to weigh 140 pounds? I was little more than a biological paperweight. A bit too skinny, if you ask me. So, I embarked upon a devil-may-care diet consisting mostly of pure grease and self loathing.
Well, six years and 70(!) pounds later, I began to rethink my decision to kneel at the altar of hedonism. After all, I figured, it probably wasn’t helping my prospects of having full intercourse with a woman in this lifetime. Luckily for me, I came to this revelation during resolution season. In the month since I decided not to fill my arteries with pure mayonnaise and doughnut glaze, I’ve lost 10 pounds (I think – I am too cheap to buy a scale, so I weigh myself weekly at the grocery store). I may have passed back onto the right side of 200, which would be a first since about two years ago.
Not that anyone reads this much anymore (I don’t fault you; I rarely update and when I do, it’s senseless drivel that the Internet would probably do better without), but I just wanted to put this out there. That way, if (when) I revert to my old habits, I can look back to this public admission of intent and perhaps regain some perspective on the whole weight issue.
The bikini calendar photo shoot is next week. Wish me luck.comment (0)
I realize it’s sacrilegious to criticize American icons like this, but since no one reads what I write anyway, let’s get down to business.
A Charlie Brown Christmas, while charming, is really terrible.
I understand that part of the allure of gathering the tots around the tube every yuletide is to reflect back upon memories of simpler times while appreciating the historical significance of the cartoon, but c’mon: the production value of the thing is just awful.
Whenever I catch a Charles Shultz biography or similar documentary, they are quick to point out that, in a radical move uncommon to the industry, Charlie Brown cartoons used actual kids rather than grown-up voice actors for the audio track. Neat idea, I guess, but did they have to use the least convincing children on the planet for the job? The lack of trained child voice actors in the heyday of animation results in Shultzian quirks that, thanks to broadcast television’s annual promotion, remain with us to this day: long, awkward pauses; weird voice inflections; and a final speech by Linus that’s delivered so quickly it seems like he has to pee or something.
Also (and this is an aside not solely related to the original Christmas show), using child voiceovers necessitates whole new casts for future iterations of Charlie Brown cartoons. After they air A Charlie Brown Christmas, they air I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown! with an entirely different cast. I realize that the latter was made decades after the former and that it would be nearly impossible to use the same cast for both, regardless of age, but something tells me it would be easier to emulate the original voices had they been well composed by professional voice actors. Just my two cents.
However silly these kids sound, though, I still watch A Charlie Brown Christmas every year (in all its terrible glory). I don’t know, maybe it’s that I’m a sucker for convention and to watch Peanuts cartoons on major American holidays is the most conventional way a middle class white kid can spend his youth. Maybe my relatively newfound discovery of jazz music has drawn me once again to the cartoon’s soundtrack. Or maybe I just like to watch for the purpose of participating in the greatest of all American pastimes, rampant and unfounded criticism.
Look out for my Christmas post next year, in which I attempt to discern the origins of this new-fangled “Rerun” character. That kid sucks.comment (0)
I like public broadcasting. I remember when I was young, it seems like every major event occurred with the faint dinging of Mister Rogers’ trolley in the background. I remember when B.J. totally ruined Barney’s show by joining the cast. And I remember the pre- and post- Shari Lewis years.
As I grew up, I moved on to National Public Radio. First, it was Morning Edition in the mornings to keep me awake when I had to rise at 5:00 a.m. for high school, then it was whatever was playing on the station in Gainesville (Science Friday was and is a personal favorite). Now, I listen whenever I think about it since they did away with classical music and switched to jazz in the evenings on WUSF.
Either way, though, I don’t listen as much as I should. It’s not because of a lack of relevant and interesting programming; it’s because they ask for money all the damn time and I’m sick of it.
When one of the weekly pledge drives crops up on my radio, it’s an instant turn off. Whenever one of these events in monotony arrives, it’s all I can do not to imagine Ira Glass in his big, dumb hipster glasses with a tin cup begging for change outside of a 7-11.
I love public radio, but I think there should be a way to give those who actually donate a way to listen to all of their fine programming without degrading yourself and selling tote bags and DVDs for hundreds of dollars. It’s unbecoming.comment (0)
In the years since my temperamental adolescence, I’ve developed the unique ability to not get emotional over anything. Well, almost anything. For some reason, the majority of my adult life has been spent nurturing deep-seated and irrational emotional devotion to baseball. Does this mean I’m broken? Or does it mean that I’m functioning really, really properly?
Tonight, the (Devil) Rays lost their playoff series to the Texas Rangers. I can sit here and blame the absurdly terrible umpiring, the fact that our hitting coach is incapable, or the fact that we started Kelly Shoppach at catcher for this, the most important game of the year. And I did all of these things until five minutes ago. Five minutes ago, I shaved my playoff beard.
It wasn’t as gnarly as the 2008 incarnation, but it was there. I woke up with it, thought about how much it itched all day, and I went to sleep with it only to repeat the cycle again and again. When I scratched it, I thought about how much I love my team – twelve times every minute. I can’t be sure, but when we’d make an error or strike out looking or get hosed on an iffy call, I think I felt my follicles trying extra hard to push the strands out. I was so attached.
I shaved, and now I feel nothing but sadness.
The same thing happened in 2008: Eric Hinske struck out; Brad Lidge dropped to his knees; and I, feeling a whirlwind of emotions that ran the gamut from despair to pride to disbelief, walked to the bathroom and eliminated the facial project I had worked on for nearly a month. But after the whirlwind had died down, there was only one feeling left to feel. It’s the same one I feel now.
I realize that this is neither encouraged nor healthy, but I think that’s what’s so special about baseball. Five years ago, I was just a kid in high school who fooled himself into rooting for a ragtag bunch of losers. Today, I’m a kid in graduate school who fooled himself into rooting for a scrappy bunch of (almost) winners. And next year, I will fool myself into rooting for the boys – my boys – because that’s what needs to be done.
Maybe it’s not only sadness I feel. Maybe the time I spent shaving alone in the silence of my own locker room let me gain a bit of perspective. No, it’s not only sadness: it’s got a twist of hope with a dash of excitement and a whole lot of pride. Yeah, that’s it.
Go Rays.comments (2)
I need to acquaint myself with Final Cut Pro for school, so today I set up a virtual machine running OSX on my system so I can run the OS-specific software.
I feel like I’m playing with one of those toys from the pediatrician’s office with the multicolor beads on a wire ground into a block of wood.comment (0)
A couple of days ago, I went to the journalism department’s orientation to be inundated with dates and deadlines that, at present, seem like they are going to roll around sometime during the next millennium. After that, I joined some of my new comrades at the campus tavern (which, incidentally, is called The Tavern).
As we sat outside beneath the roar of planes from the airfield next door, everyone decided that it would be prudent to drink beer. If you have known me for any amount of time, you know of my rocky relationship with this most insidious beverage. It’s gross. It’s beyond gross. I smell it – nay, I look at it the wrong way – and I am mere steps away from an esophageal eruption on par with most active volcanoes.
However, as I sat at a picnic table with a bunch of other people around my age I realized that my life cannot proceed like this. As disgusting as beer is, it is becoming clear that the path to normal twenty-something relations invariably travels through a brewery.
So like I had done many times before, I told myself, “Self, it’s time to man up. You’ve got to learn to drink beer again. Your future depends on it!”
I stopped by Publix on the way home and bought a six pack of Killian’s Irish Red. I now realize that this was probably a poor choice for a new beginner. Regardless, I proceeded home, whipped up some dinner, and cracked open a longneck.
I took two sips.
Now there are now five beer bottles sitting in the fridge, wondering where their brother has gone and waiting for my father to get home so they can join him. I only hope my special condition isn’t too detrimental in my social life during the next two years.comment (1)
Given my new status as a wannabe newsman, I suppose I should give my opinion about something not related to baseball or bacon for once.
Remember when CNN Headline News was, you know, actually a news show? Now, HLN has devolved into a hodgepodge of superficial news and uneducated opinions. Any given half hour of programming consists of about 20 percent news and 80 percent Twitter whoring. Look, I understand that it’s chic to employ social networking on the tube nowadays, but when your show is focused more on what Ethel May in Alabama thinks about building some mosque in New York rather than actually building the mosque in New York, I think your priorities are a bit backward.comment (0)