Stardate 20010424.1930 (On Screen): Will there ever be an "ultimate thrill ride"? Not any time soon. No matter what someone comes up with, they (or someone else) will come up with an improvement. While there are physical limits on what can be built (as a function of things like the strength of steel) those limits are sufficiently broad now that the real limit is money and imagination. So you turn a company like Six Flags loose, and they'll keep knocking your mind for a loop. (And you'll never get me on one of these beasts! The Captain is chicken-shit.)
One of the most famous rides among thrill-ride aficionados now is Superman: the Escape. It involves a truly mammoth tower and provides 6.5 seconds of freefall. So how do you top that? Easy: make it an inverted coaster and toss in a twist on the tower. (And include a barf bag with each ticket.) How do they top this? I bet the next idea will be to put an inside loop on the track just before the tower. (To make it really scary, make the inside loop be surrounded by a pipe, so that the train is in darkness while doing the loop.)
Stardate 20010424.1100 (On Screen): In the UK there is a group called the "Advertising Standards Authority" which apparently has the ability to suppress ads when people find them to be too offensive for one reason or another. Last year they suppressed several. You can see reproductions of the ones that they suppressed which got the most complaints in their annual report. Which apparently means that "suppress" has a different meaning in English than it does in American.
Stardate 20010424.0520 (On Screen): So the people of Montenegro, the last remaining republic of the old Yugoslavia to still be under the boot of Serbia, are expressing themselves in free and fair elections and what they seem to be saying is that they want to be independent, just like Croatia and Slovenia are. And the US is standing up and cheering for self determination and freedom, right? Nope.
The US has always given lip service to the idea of self determination, but somehow it only seems to really matter when it's the US itself. Anyone else comes in and tells us what we should vote for, and they get told to get stuffed. But when other nations exercise their own democratic rights and choose something which might be slightly inimical to the best interests of the US, we "apply pressure" to the government to ignore the voices of their people. How about for a change we actually follow our own principles here and act consistently for once? Montenegro: do what your people want you to do, and ignore all those silly other countries whose opinions don't matter.
Stardate 20010423.1600 (On Screen): Without Deep Blue, it's hard to take this tournament seriously in any case. But there are a couple of strange aspects of this which make no sense to me. First is the provision that the designers of Shredder objected to: why in heck should Kramnik be given the source to whatever computer program he takes on? It makes perfect sense that he should be given listings of all the public matches it's had in the past, so that he can try to analyze its strategies, strengths and weaknesses -- just as he would do with a human opponent. But the code itself? That's not fair. He certainly doesn't get the ability to look inside the head of any human he faces; why should he be able to analyze the logic of a computer program? We don't want him to work as a computer hacker; we want to watch him play chess. Of course, depending on the rules, they could run the source through a processing program which stripped out all the comments and replaced all the labels and variable names with arbitrary nonsense strings. If he wants to wade through 100,000 lines of uncommented code, let him! Or they could compile it, disassemble it, and hand him the uncommented assembly language listing. Somehow I don't think they'd get away with that, though.
The other rule seems to be one he insisted on, but the article doesn't make something clear about it and it might be a huge problem for him. One of the things he requires is that a game which takes more than 6 hours be recessed at 6 hours, to be resumed the next day. For a human this makes perfect sense; chess is intensely fatiguing and after that long a period a human will start making mistakes. But during the 18 hours that he's away resting, will the computer be permitted to continue to work? That isn't made clear here, and if it is, then he's going to be dead meat in any match where this happens because by the time he returns in the morning the computer will have figured out the entire end game. Of course, he'll do some of the same kind of thing. Back in his hotel room he'll be thinking about it, and possibly consulting with advisors and even with computers. But he won't do it as well as his computer opponent will.
I don't see how to make that fair. If the computer has to be turned off for 18 hours, but he's permitted to think about the game (and how can that be prevented?) then this is an advantage to him. If the computer is permitted to continue to run, he's at a severe disadvantage. Maybe permit the computer to run one hour and 17 minutes before being shut off?
I'm reminded of a Star Trek episode where Data took on a grandmaster at some sort of obscure real-time strategy game, and in the second match between them he played for stalemate to wear his opponent down. The idea was that if he could keep it up for 30 seconds, he could keep it up for a hundred years -- and no flesh and blood opponent was capable of doing so. After about a minute, the grandmaster flung his controls down, cursed at Data and stalked away in a huff, forfeiting the game. This is in fact a serious problem from now on for any game played for serious stakes between a