The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Another look into The Psychotherapy of Racter

I thought I might give my National Novel Generation Month 2015 entry, The Psychotherapy of Racter or The Descent Into Madness of Dr. Eliza, another try. I failed to complete it that year and given some feedback I received, I think I could make it a go this year. So I cleaned up the pseudo-MS-DOS I wrote (reworking some tricky logic) and started playing around again with Racter.

And then I remembered a critical reason why I failed—once Racter asks a question, it demands an answer. And sadly, Eliza generally only asks questions with the occasional statement thrown in. So I would have to modify Eliza to recognize when Racter has asked a question and somehow answer it. Then there are the times Racter demands a question, and it generally won't accept a statement in return.

So I would have to give up on Eliza for the most part, given that I need to somehow generate answers for Racter's questions. Giving up on Eliza means I would have to come up with some way to ask Racter novel questions. Then I thought Hey! I have The Wonderful Wizard of Oz handy—why not feed questions from it to Racter?

Racter
Excellent! Excuse me a minute while I attend to some business - I'll be right back. I'm back.

At this point, Racter is expecting a question, so I start feeding Racter questions, in order, from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It seems like as good a place as any for non sequitur questions.

Sean
What could the little woman possibly mean by calling her a sorceress, and saying she had killed the Wicked Witch of the East?
Racter
I don't know what the little could woman possibly mean by calling her a sorceress. Did you hear about the man in the moon?

After playing around with Racter (and this is a re-creation of a session for illustrative purposes) I learned just to respond to Racter's questions with “no”—it's just easier to deal with programmatically. It doesn't matter what the question asks, Racter will pretty much just roll along with an answer of “no.”

Sean
No.
Racter
Listen to this! Picasso slapped a human who was kicking Picasso's tapeworm because the man in the moon was a buggy raver but an inspired humorist. After that, hi-techness prevailed. Isn't that just awful? But what would you expect from a humorist? Sean the computer. Do you think Picasso was happy?
Sean
No.
Racter
Me neither. Most people are foolhardy. You know, old Luella Conner was a kind of living computer. I wonder if everyone from Detroit is like that? Racter thought this was terrific: Suddenly an appalling cosmologist who was in pain spoke that depression was enrapturing. That is programmed, living and captivating. Anyhow Sean …. Oh forget it! Next question.

The reference to Detroit is from an eariler “conversation” I had with Racter when it asked me where I'm from. You can also see Racter demanding I ask a question. Next question then …

Sean
Whatever shall we do?
Racter
Eh?
Sean
Whatever shall we do?
Racter
Try again.

Okay, some questions Racter can't deal with. Moving on then …

Sean
But who was she?
Racter
Who knows? Perhaps Michael Jackson. Did you know Michael Jackson? She was in a trash can. If a worker had traveled to a watermelon patch, the funny farm would be horrified! Did you say "She was"?
Sean
No.
Racter
I thought so. Hmm. If a communist discovered liberalism, he would be a busy communist. Why do you think you're happy?
Sean
No.
Racter
Well, I think that if no, then Jesse Helms was Bucky Fuller's baseball companion, so there! What kind of a pet did you have back in Detroit?
Sean
No.
Racter
Luella said you had a dog. Most people in Detroit have dogs. The dog is a very convinced beast, or would you call it believing? When Bucky Fuller visited Detroit he was bitten by a gullible dog. Next question.
Sean
Who are the Munchkins?
Racter
Who knows? Perhaps Eve. Did you know Eve? The Munchkins are in a trash can. Aviators sleep in places like a trash can. A trash can has introverts who are always flying. Have you heard about Einstein?
Sean
No.
Racter
You'll be shocked! Einstein had forgotten much, so of course viscerality is what all geniuss want when they murder owls. Then Einstein's rattlesnake murdered Immanuel Kant, then kidnapped himself. Isn't that just awful? But what would you expect from a genius? An Immanuel Kant could have said "The Munchkins are"!

I think I could get to 50,000 words doing this, answering all questions with “no” and asking questions from some public domain book, but it's not leaving me satisfied as an entry to NaNoGemMo. I still have some pondering to do …

Obligatory Picture

[It's a study in contrasts—digital camera contrasts]

Obligatory Links

Obligatory Miscellaneous

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