nine things tagged “wikipedia”

The Kobayashi Maru Test

[…] the simulation takes place on a replica of a starship bridge, with the test-taker as captain and other Starfleet members, officers or other cadets, in other key positions. […] the cadet receives a distress signal stating that the civilian freighter Kobayashi Maru has struck a gravitic mine in the Klingon Neutral Zone and is rapidly losing power, hull integrity and life support. Sensor readings are indeterminate and there is no way to verify the distress signal. There are no other vessels nearby. The cadet must quickly make a decision:

  • Attempt to rescue the Kobayashi Maru’s crew and passengers, which involves violating the Neutral Zone and thereby provoking the Klingons into hostile action or possibly an all-out war; or
  • Abandon the Kobayashi Maru, preventing war with the Klingons but leaving the crew and passengers of the freighter to probable death.

[…] The objective of the test is not for the cadet to outfight or outplan the opponent but rather to force the cadet into a no-win situation and simply observe how they react.


I wondered how this related to the Trolley Problem and came by this great post by Tom Ingram.

Stop Words

In computing, stop words are words which are filtered out before or after processing of natural language data (text). Though “stop words” usually refers to the most common words in a language, there is no single universal list of stop words used by all natural language processing tools, and indeed not all tools even use such a list. Some tools specifically avoid removing these stop words to support phrase search.

Any group of words can be chosen as the stop words for a given purpose. For some search engines, these are some of the most common, short function words, such as the, is, at, which, and on. In this case, stop words can cause problems when searching for phrases that include them, particularly in names such as “The Who”, “The The”, or “Take That”. Other search engines remove some of the most common words—including lexical words, such as “want”—from a query in order to improve performance.


I was hitting Algolia’s search limits had to remove words I didn’t care about searching like “and”, “only”, “there”, or “I’ve” in an attempt to shrink the size of the posts on this site in the search index. There are quite a few lists on the internet and I ended up using a few of them for significant (> 65% average) size reductions in the search corpora.

The Scunthorpe Problem

The Scunthorpe problem (or the Clbuttic Mistake) is the unintentional blocking of websites, e-mails, forum posts or search results by a spam filter or search engine because their text contains a string of letters that appear to have an obscene or otherwise unacceptable meaning.


Examples would be: shitake mushrooms, Herman I. Libshitz, magna cum laude, Arun Dikshit.

Reaganomics: The Rest of You Shall Eat Shit

The economist John Kenneth Galbraith noted that “trickle-down economics” had been tried before in the United States in the 1890s under the name “horse-and-sparrow theory”, writing:

Mr. David Stockman has said that supply-side economics was merely a cover for the trickle-down approach to economic policy—what an older and less elegant generation called the horse-and-sparrow theory: ‘If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.’

Galbraith claimed that the horse-and-sparrow theory was partly to blame for the Panic of 1896. While running against Ronald Reagan for the Presidential nomination in 1980, George H. W. Bush had derided the trickle-down approach as “voodoo economics”. In the 1992 presidential election, independent candidate Ross Perot also referred to trickle-down economics “political voodoo”. In the same election during a presidential town hall debate, Bill Clinton said:

What I want you to understand is the national debt is not the only cause of [declining economic conditions in America]. It is because America has not invested in its people. It is because we have not grown. It is because we’ve had 12 years of trickle-down economics. We’ve gone from first to twelfth in the world in wages. We’ve had four years where we’ve produced no private-sector jobs. Most people are working harder for less money than they were making 10 years ago.


It never made sense and simply doesn’t work.