The Null Device


The next version of SimCity will include global warming, brought in in collaboration with oil company BP. Players will be able to choose how to power their cities; if they choose cheap, dirty, carbon-intensive forms of energy, their carbon ratings will rise, and eventually bring about natural disasters. However, players can avoid that by using various BP Alternative Energy-branded low-carbon power options. Nice bit of greenwash there.

Rumour has it that the subsequent version of SimCity will tackle the obesity crisis, by causing your city's obesity levels to rise and health costs to spiral unless you build McDonalds Healthy Eating™ restaurants.

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Some hackers are creating a system for detecting stupidity in text using Bayesian techniques:

In the beginning, the internet was a place where one could communicate intelligently with similarly erudite people. Then, Eternal September hit and we were lost in the noise. The advent of user-driven web content has compounded the matter yet further, straining our tolerance to the breaking point.
It's time to fight back.
When completed, StupidFilter will be available in a variety of forms, including web browser and content management system plug-ins. So far, the project just has a corpus of text samples, rated by "stupidity", and mostly taken from YouTube comments, from which you can see random selections here.

Of course, such a system is going to work only if you define "stupidity" in purely stylistic terms (such as using words like 'lol' and 'omfg!!1!!eleventyone'), ignoring semantics altogether. In which case it becomes a way of keeping the rabble who don't punctuate properly out of your blog comments. Perhaps then someone will develop an extra-prescriptivistic filter which blocks comments containing split infinitives or inappropriate semicolons, for those wishing to move up to a higher class of gated community.

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