magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
On the topic of not-rocks, when I was growing up, I had a cassette tape that had a bunch of folk tales on it. One of them (if I remember correctly, which I very well may not) had to do with a king who was sick, and sent his three sons out looking for a magical cure. Two of the sons get bored of the quest and quit; the third actually found the cure and was bringing it back when his brothers found him, killed him, buried him, and took the cure home to claim the reward. But reeds grew where the good son had been buried, and someone cut the reeds and made a pan flute, and when the pan flute was played, it sang about the brother's death in his voice.

I mostly remember it because the song was creepy and got stuck in my head a lot.  I have never been able to successfully Google the story or its audio.  I really wish I could find it again, though, because nostalgia.
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
Because definitely what I need is more webapp ideas that I don't have time to develop.

Anyway, following on from a Twitter conversation, I'm wondering how it would work to make a writing program which could track the genders of a number of characters and then arbitrarily shuffle them. What I'm picturing is, simplified, something like this:

• At the top of the document are a number of fields which ask for a character name (or a list of character references, such as name and nickname and other variations) and pairs the name with a gender (and its associated set of pronouns).

• Each character you add is arbitrarily assigned a color (or icon or other distinguishing visual marker).

• As you type, a parser will keep track of which name (or referent) has been typed last for each of the original genders. When you type a pronoun, it will look at the last character reference matching that pronoun's set, and highlight the pronoun (or assign it the correct icon) to associate it with the specific character. It'll also have some kind of (mouseover?) menu to allow users to correct its assumption about which character it refers to.

• When you finish writing, each pronoun will be associated with a character. So you can hit a shuffle button, and then the characters' genders will be shuffled, and each pronoun can be brought back into compliance with the character's gender.

Needless to say, this would fail in a lot of situations. Take, for example:

• Dialogue. "He's not coming today," he said. (I mean, I guess I could set up a sub-parser which kept track of the last character reference inside a set of quotes?)

• Ambiguiety. We'll just call this the Randall Munroe exploit. I guess people would just have to make close, personal friends with the drop-down menus?

• Gay porn. I am reliably informed by people who have tried to write gay porn that pronouns are a nightmare anyway. And humans are better at parsing language than computers are.

• Unexpected cases. Language is complicated, yo!

I feel like there should be a way to handle this, and that it probably involves algorithms. I'm a bit worried that trying to write a general-purpose pronoun shuffler would actually require re-inventing Google Translate. Any computational linguists out there who want to point out things I'm missing?
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)

Way to prey on my powerful and mostly baseless* dread horror of radiation, Veritasium.

*Not to say that radiation isn't norrifying, but I'm unlikely to be in a situation in my life where it's actually a present danger to me.

Though now I want to write a story (very) loosely inspired by the firefighters at Chernobyl. ;_;
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
I need to keel over and go to sleep soon, so I'll answer a couple of short questions.

[personal profile] thebaconfat: What is the weirdest file currently on your computer (that you didn't create yourself)?

...I am not sure I can answer this! I don't keep track of that many files I haven't created, as I assume that most of them are things like application config files and stuff. If stuff I've downloaded doesn't count as stuff I've created, I... still am not sure. But I do have a version of "Down Under" sung by a bunch of potentially-drunk Russians.

[personal profile] squeemu: What is the weirdest file currently on your computer that you did create?

I once discovered a file named temp.rtf in one of my fiction draft folders which consisted of 2391 words of Lorem Ipsum, closed with the line "And as it turned out, THEY WERE ALL BEES!!"

This post has been brought to you as a service of the December Posting Meme.


magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)

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