Category: funny

App game idea

Flip it

This game board is an array of tiles. The tiles have letters. The game play involves flipping a pair of letters, as if the two tiles can move through the screen on the axis that connects them. In any case, they move switches them. The goal is to rearrange the tiles to spell words.

cat --flip c:a--> act
dog ------------> dog

cat --flip c:d--> dat
dog ------------> cog

The game can be played different sized boards, and with boards with cutouts.
Variation 1: Have the tiles have both color and a letter, to distinguish common letters.
Variation 2: Have the tiles be two sided, so that flipping them exposes the other sides.

What is interesting about this is that it is a class of games easy to implement in the computer but which is hard or impossible to implement as a physical game. There is a whole class of variations on pen and pencil or board games that haven’t been tried because of this!

The creepy imagery of Beck’s book

Shakepeare’s Sister posted on the very cover of The Overton Window, a thriller by Glenn Beck. I haven’t read it, but the plot is described as weak Randianism dumped in a Mixmaster with a thrillerish suppression of conservatives by the establishment and counterrevolution story.

Cover of The Overton Window

He points out the the Statue of Liberty has been turned into a man. But it gets odder than that!

Statue of Liberty

The other really strange thing is the viewpoint. It’s the back of the statue. And it’s been turned to face Manhattan. Why? I did a search of pictures of the Statue of Liberty and none of the first hundred were a back view. All showed the face, either full on or from the side to include Manhattan. I don’t know what to make of it, but it creeps me out!

Mortgage Bankers Association makes terrible investment

Copied directly from the Calculated Risk blog, but too good to pass up!

The Mortgage Bankers Association … fell victim to the collapse of the market and sold its $90 million headquarters in downtown Washington on Friday for $41 million.

The Mortgage Bankers Association moved into the building in 2008 just as the real estate market was crashing …

Definition of irony…

‘Noetic sciences’

I was listening to the NPR food show, The Splendid Table, and they ended the show with by having Dean Radin from the Institute for Noetic Sciences on to talk about how ‘thinking at’ chocolate makes it better. No, I’m not joking, and it wasn’t April Fools’ day. Ordinary fools day, I guess.

Looking at the Institute for Noetic Sciences (IONS) web site, it looks like this is the place where the California nuts collect. They are still doing psi studies, lots of ‘intentional’ studies which test various ways thinking at something changes it, from prayer and healing to remote viewing to psychokinesis. Not too surprisingly, Deepak Chopra is ‘associated faculty’.

The chocolate study guy, Dean Radin, is an interesting nut. He was a real engineer, then got a Ph.D in psychology from U of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, then went off the deep end. It’s odd, he uses methods that look quite respectable–the chocolate study was double-blinded–to come to nutty conclusions, and publishes them in nutty niche journals. IONS has its own journal, “Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing”, and disturbingly the NIH’s Pubmed article indexing service includes its articles (see This is by far the craziest journal I’ve ever seen in Pubmed.

Swatch Internet Time

Sometimes I run across a thing so odd that it makes me wonder if I slipped into an alternate world. Today’s example:

Swatch beats watch

Swatch Internet Time was a decimal time concept introduced in 1998 and marketed by the Swatch corporation as an alternative, decimal measure of time. One of the goals was to simplify the way people in different time zones communicate about time, mostly by eliminating time zones altogether.

Swatch Internet Time was announced on October 23, 1998, in a ceremony at the Junior Summit ’98 attended by Nicolas G. Hayek, President and CEO of the Swatch Group, G.N. Hayek, President of Swatch Ltd., and Nicholas Negroponte, founder and then-director of the MIT Media Lab. During the Summit, Swatch Internet Time became the official time system for Nation1, an online country created and run by children.

Dawkins ‘Weasel’ program as a Perl one-liner

Explained at Panda’s Thumb:

Over at uncommon descent William Dembski is musing over Richard Dawkins Weasel program. Why you may ask? Way back in prehistory (the 1980’s) Dawkins wrote a little BASIC program (in Apple BASIC of all things) to demonstrate the difference between random mutation and random mutation with selection, which many people were having trouble grasping. Now, this wasn’t a simulation of natural selection, and Dawkins was very careful to point this out.

But as a demonstration of selection versus simple random mutation, with the string “methinks it is a weasel” being selected in a matter of minutes, when simple random mutation would take longer than the age of the Universe, it was pretty stunning. As a result, creationists have been having conniption fits over this little program for decades. Such is its power, the Issac Newton of Information Theory, William Dembski, spent a not inconsiderable portion of his time attacking this toy program. In particular, he claimed that after every successful mutation, the successful mutation was locked into place, and couldn’t be reversed. But he was wrong, and it seems he just can’t admit it.

The Weasel program starts with a random string. Then each generation ‘offspring’ strings are generated, each with one letter randomly changed. From among the offspring, the string closest to the target string is chosen each generation. Rather quickly this process of mutation and selection will change any string into the target string. I start with “Creationism is nonsense” and my target is “methinks it is a weasle”, the target Dawkins uses.

Since the creationists are having trouble making such a program, I wondered *just how short* a program could be written to do this. Here’s a first attempt as a eight line Perl one-liner. It can be cut & pasted into a Unix terminal:

perl -e '$|=1;$s="Creationism is nonsense";$e="methinks it is a weasle";$try=11;$let=length($s);@e=split(//,$e);while($s ne $e){$i=-1;while($i++< $try){$new_s[$i]=$s;$chr=int(rand(27))||-64;substr($new_s[$i],int(rand($let)),1,chr(96+$chr));@spl=split(//,$new_s[$i]);$j=0;$new_sc[$i]=0;while($j<@e){$new_sc[$i]++if$e[$j]eq$spl[$j++]}}@sc=sort{$new_sc[$b]<=>$new_sc[$a]}(0..$#new_sc);@new=(shift@sc);while(@sc&&$new_sc[$sc[0]]==$new_sc[$new[0]]){push@new,shift@sc}$s=$new_s[$new[int(rand(@new))]];printf("Generation %5d, %-2dmismatches:  $sr",++$n,$let-$new_sc[$new[0]]);}print"n";'

(When I cut & paste the one liner on my Mac it changes the final single quote to an end quote and the last two pairs of double quotes to funny double quotes, so keep an eye out and change them back if you need to).

And the normal length 35 line program with comments:


$s="Creationism is nonsense";
$e="methinks it is a weasle";
$try=11; #New offspring per generation.


while($s ne $e) {
  #Make $try new strings.
  while($i++< $try){

    #Mutate one char of the new string.
    $chr = int(rand(27)) || -64;

    #Count the characters in the new string that match the target string.
    while($j<@e){$new_sc[$i]++ if $e[$j] eq $spl[$j++]}

  #Find high scoring offspring strings.
  @sc = sort {$new_sc[$b]<=>$new_sc[$a]}(0..$#new_sc);

  @new=(shift @sc);
  while(@sc && $new_sc[$sc[0]] == $new_sc[$new[0]]){push @new,shift @sc}

  #Set new string to a random offspring strings from among the high scoring offspring.
  $s = $new_s[$new[int(rand(@new))]];

  printf("Generation %5d, %-2dmismatches:  $sr",++$n,$let-$new_sc[$new[0]]);

The battle between good and evil (to publish)

Pharyngula has a post tearing apart a creationist who in passing refers to Satan as ‘Satan et al.’

So I wondered, *has* Satan published in the biological journals?

A PubMed search of biological publications finds no papers published by Satan but twenty-three with God as an author. You may draw your own conclusions from this…