In Crosswords, It’s Man Over Machine, for Now

In Crosswords, It’s Man Over Machine, for Now - New York Times

Photo: Chris Pietsch for The New York Times

“In the weekend tournament, Dr. Fill finished 141st, or would have (only human solvers got official rankings). ‘It was within the range, but I wish it had done better,’ Dr. Ginsberg said on Sunday. ‘I’ll be back next year.’

Dr. Fill typically thrives on conventional crosswords, even ones with arcane clues and answers. Indeed, the seventh puzzle, a difficult one, it got perfectly.

But the computer program is literal minded, and tends to struggle on puzzles with humor, and puzzles with unusual themes or letter arrangements.” (Steve Lohr,

Shorting Tinseltown

Shorting Tinseltown - New York MagazineHow the failure of the Hollywood Stock Exchange exposed the movie industry’s worst fear: financial transparency.

“Any new business where the criminal possibilities occur to you before the legitimate ones is probably doomed; it doesn’t take much of a mental leap to envision an army of Wilshire Boulevard Bialystocks and Blooms overseeing scams in which one could intentionally produce a bad movie with bankable stars and noisy marketing, short it, and make a mint when it underperforms. (Although then we’d have an explanation for Knight and Day.)” (Mark Harris, New York Magazine)

Check out the Hollywood Stock Exchange yourself (just for fun, of course).

Government Reverses Itself on Online Gambling

Government Reverses Itself on Online Gambling - On The Media

Photo: LLudo/flickr

“It’s not the most regressive tax. State lottery is almost exactly as regressive as a sales tax, which means it does hit poor people more than wealthy, but it’s actually not the very poor. It’s the working poor who would be most hit by a state lottery. And the Internet attracts people with slightly higher incomes, so Internet sales will be less regressive, if you view it as a tax, than paper lottery ticket sales.” (I. Nelson Rose on OnTheMedia)

Kasparov versus the World


“In 1999, world chess champion Garry Kasparov, widely acknowledged as the greatest player in the history of the game, agreed to participate in a chess match sponsored by Microsoft, playing against “the World”. One move was to be made each 24 hours, with the World’s move being decided by a vote; anyone at all was allowed to vote on the World Team’s next move.

The game was staggering. After 62 moves of innovative chess, in which the balance of the game changed several times, the World Team finally resigned. Kasparov revealed that during the game he often couldn’t tell who was winning and who was losing, and that it wasn’t until after the 51st move that the balance swung decisively in his favour. After the game, Kasparov wrote an entire book about it. He claimed to have expended more energy on this one game than on any other in his career, including world championship games.” (Michael Nielsen)

Also check out Clay Shirky’s brief account of the game.