Monday, March 2, 2015

Robocop (the reboot)



I saw advertisements for the Robocop “reboot” before it was released and rolled my eyes, thinking what I think whenever the amorphous “they” decides to fill the minds of the younger generation with a slick, grim, shaky-cam butchering of some classic of my childhood. I rolled my eyes, and paid it no mind.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Update 21 and the Monty Hall Problem

Some Thoughts

Have you ever heard of what they call the Monty Hall Problem? It's sort of a riddle. It's relationship to pop-culture may be a little indirect, but I had quite a lengthy and intense conversation about it recently, so I thought I'd talk about it.

The problem goes like this: You are on a game show (hosted by Monty Hall, that's why the problem's called that) and you've been presented with three doors. Behind one door is a brand new car, behind the other two doors are goats. After you select a door, Monty opens another of the doors and reveals a goat. He then asks you if you want to change your choice to the other door, or stick with the one you picked in the first place.

Now, here's the question: assuming you want the car, does it help your chances to switch doors?

You might think not, as Monty opening a door doesn't change whether you picked the door with the car behind it or not. However, they (whoever they are) say that you're more likely to get the car if you switch. How can this be?

Well, over the course of my intense conversation I was able to come up with an explanation I'm pretty happy with. First of all, realize that Monty never opens the door you picked, and he never opens the door with the car behind it. Now, suppose you had a spy back stage who, before he got caught by the security guards, was able to see a goat behind one of the doors and get that information to you. In this case, how do you make sure you get the car?

The answer is that you pick the door you know has a goat behind it, then switch doors when Monty offers. This is because Monty will always open a door and reveal a goat, but he won't open your door, so the only door left after he's revealed a goat must have the car behind it.

Now, back to the original situation. You don't have a spy, but you do know that 2 out of 3 doors have goats behind them. This means that two of the three choices you could make will result in the same situation as when you had the spy, whereas only one choice won't. So, as they say, you're more likely to get the car by picking any door, and then switching.

One of the main, and more deeply important, points of the intense conversation was whether probability is real or a fiction. Because, you know, if you picked the car first, then the likelihood that switching doors would get you the car is zero, and you're only going to do it once. Chance has been given a lot of credit in the past two hundred years or so, and it's probably time to reevaluate that.

Progress Report

I am moving now at a break-neck pace, at least it feels that way when I leave an argument in its barest form and move on to write the next argument. I am doing this in an attempt to finish a first draft of part 1, after which I intend to distribute it to some friends and see what they think.

Part 1 has 3 sections, and I've just finished the first draft of section 2 and begun the first draft of section 3. I also read section 2 aloud to a few people, and it was amazing how much sense it seemed to make when I was reading it to someone besides myself. My audience tended to agree. Looks like I might actually end up with a book here.

© 2015 John Hiner III





Monday, February 16, 2015

Update 20 and a Thought on News

Some Thoughts

So, I've recently begun writing for an online publication called Pixel Dynamo. What I've been writing is news, so I thought I should say a little something about "news" itself because, at least what I'm writing, is certainly a pop-cultural phenomenon.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Update 19 and Thoughts on Assassin's Creed

Some Thoughts

Recently, a friend who does not follow my blog essentially said to me: “Didn't you change your blog? Didn't you stop writing stuff and start saying you were writing something people would read later?”

While this is not entirely true, his point is taken. So, today begins a more concerted effort to say at least something interesting and thought provoking about pop-cultural subjects every week. I warn you though, it will be largely extempore, as I really am working on the book (don't look at me like that!) and I've got other things in the works. So, it's gonna be off the top of my head more often than not.
See that tiny haystack in the bottom middle of the frame?
Yep, he's gonna make this jump just fine.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog

Last month I talked a bit about kids' involvement in the big cocktail party of pop-culture. So, for this month, I decided I would review one of the chats around the hors d'oeuvre table I was involved in as a kid, namely, The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Thanks to YouTube, I was able to find the first two episodes of this beloved childhood memory and watch them again, this time not as a child playing Sonic 2 on the family television on Saturday afternoon, but as an adult who was glad to get a copy of Sonic Spinball for Christmas.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Update 18

So, I'm intently typing away, and suddenly I come to the point where I'm supposed to explain my theory of life, the universe, and everything. Well, it isn't my theory, it has grander origins than that. But, it is the theory that my little book presumes when discussing pop-culture and its purpose and whether some particular piece of it is any good.
This is Pascal, by the way. I've included him for visual
interest.

I came to this point and the first thing I thought to do was to begin arguing for the theory; laying out evidence and so on that show the theory to be true. Then I stopped, because I realized I had to choose which arguments to use, and which to leave unspoken. (This theory, being true, has a number of arguments in its favor). This stalled me a bit. Then I got to thinking a little more, and wondered whether I should argue for it at all.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Update 17

Progress Report

Well, to spite getting a stomach flu, I did get some work done on the book this past week. Because I'm laying out specific blocks on time for uninterrupted work, I've begun to move more quickly. I'm not getting more writing finished, but I'm getting more started, by which I mean that I get a first, rough draft of something out on paper (up on the screen?) and move on to the next rather than lingering on it and agonizing over it. I might have to make more passes (I doubt it) but even if that's true, I have more to make passes on, yes?