Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, August 17, 2021

The whole John Edwards/Rielle Hunter scandal rolls on, including the late revelation that Hunter’s roots are murkier than originally thought.

Which is something of a disappointment, actually. Because her established backstory to this point was more than satisfying, as it melded ’80s nouveau literature with modern political machinations.

After writing Bright Lights, Big City, ’80s lit sensation Jay McInerney wrote a far less well-known book titled Story Of My Life. What I remember about the book (and why I remember it) was that it was done first person from the perspective of a slutty, drugged-out party girl named Alison Poole. I was writing a lot of fiction at the time, and always found it difficult to write female characters. So, to me, McInerney convincingly doing so for an entire book was a neat trick

It must have also impressed fellow ’80s lit sensation Brett Easton Ellis, because he wrote McInerney’s Alison Poole right into the cultural earthquake that was American Psycho. Being American Psycho, Poole’s scene was short and includes brutal sodomy-and the Kentucky Derby, if memory serves.

While McInerney and Ellis were friends, it always bothered me that Ellis had his fictional creation do what he did to McInerney’s fictional creation. It seemed the height of disrespect, especially since fictional characters are often based on real people. And McInerney admits that Alison Poole was directly based on his girlfriend at the time: Rielle Hunter. The same one who is now, 20 odd years later, tangled up with John Edwards.

If the rumors are true, Hunter doesn’t give Edwards the presidential gravitas a Marilyn Monroe would, but anytime you share a woman with the great Patrick Bateman, it’s got to be worth something.

So, if Alison Poole is really Rielle Hunter, then ipso facto, that would make John Edwards… Patrick Bateman? Just as well that Edwards’ Presidential bid went nowhere this year — think about carrying out a serial-killing career while fulfilling your duties as Commander in Chief.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 08/17/2008 09:39:53 PM
Category: Celebrity, Politics, Publishing
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The Completely Automated Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart method of comment-spam prevention is, at best, a tolerable annoyance. It’s better than requiring registration just to leave a quickie note; on the other hand, lots of people can’t bear even so minor a speed-bump in the feedback process.

But if you’re going to muck up your website thusly, you might as well reap some greater benefit from it. reCAPTCHA, a second-wave filter guard, multitasks the retyping task by tossing in some digital decryption work that stumps computers.

The key to this new method is that it presents not one, but two words:

One of these is the real security word: Type this one correctly and you’re in. The other image is something that has mystified the digitizing software.

If people recognize that word, they type it in. This image will actually be shown to several people. If they all agree on what the word is, it will be considered accurately transcribed. And [CAPTCHA inventor Luis] von Ahn says it will be incorporated into the digitized copy of the book or the newspaper that it came from.

“And the number of words that we’ve been able to digitize like this is insanely large, it’s like over a billion. It’s like 1.3 billion by now,” von Ahn says.

In the journal Science, he and his colleagues report that over the last year Web users have transcribed enough text to fill up more than 17,600 books, with better than 99 percent accuracy.

So we have spambots to indirectly thank for digitized archives of the New York Times and public-domain books. There’s a certain karmic balance coming out of that.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 08/17/2008 09:02:55 PM
Category: Internet, Publishing, Tech
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