"So I got this postcard from my friend and
it said Let's go to Paris and be writers so
we won't have to work."
What does a fellow or girl do who's
lazy and self-indulgent and doesn't like to work for a living? The chief
trouble with working is Bosses and Alarm Clocks. I don't like getting up
early and suddenly in the morning, and I really dislike Bosses.
By the way, did you know that the
moment of the week when people have the most heart attacks is Monday morning?
My medical advice to everyone is:
Stop Working for Bosses Immediately.
"Jack's always talkin' about the Workin' Man. The Workin'
wants this. The
Workin' Man wants that. You wanna know what
Man wants? I'll tell
ya what the Workin' Man wants.
to stop workin'."
-- Eugene O'Neill (Jack Nicholson), "Reds"
Get-Rich-Quick Schemes are extremely
important long before they ever make you rich. Daydreaming
about the moment you dig up a buried pirate treasure and what you'll do
with all the Loot is certainly one of life's great pleasures.
Of course you can't be silly or
irresponsible about your get-rich-quick fantasy. It has to be a realistic
fantasy; you can't just generically slobber and drool and mutter
"Pieces of eight, pieces of eight" all day for years on end. You'll never
get anywhere that way.
Here are two realistic get-rich-quick
schemes, most of which you can pursue in the privacy of your home computer.
£ $ ¥ ¢
£ $ ¥ ¢
The Ing Prize
The ancient game Go
comes from China and Japan. The rules
are very simple, but playing well requires decades of fierce competitive
play and intensive study. Most Westerners who play Go are chessplayers
who were looking for a new challenge; most players familiar with both games
believe Go is more difficult than chess.
Go game in progress. Black made the first
move; thereafter Black and White alternately
place a stone on one of the 19 x 19 intersections
(or a player may pass). Go games typically generate aesthetically
beautiful patterns of stones; some players say the beauty of
the pattern is more important than winning. Players also take pleasure
in the click sound a stone makes when it's
placed on the board.
(Image believed pilfered from Samarkand
In the past twenty years, computers
have become superb chessplayers; many $100 boxes play at the Master level
and beyond. The special-purpose chess machine Deep Blue, the souped-up
child of a grad-school project, Deep Thought, recently defeated
the world's best human player, Gary Kasparov. (He was a sore loser,
but Deep Blue was a very gracious and sportsthinglike winner.)
During that same period, an enormous
amount of work by a lot of very smart people has gone into trying to make
computers play Go well.
The latest news -- see the results
of the latest Fost Cup tournament below -- is that they're making
progress, but still way behind the strength of human Go masters. (Currently
there's a big debate on the Newsgroup between "Go programs are making great
progress! Victory's just around the corner!" vs. "Hogwash. Go programs
are still dopes compared to humans.")
Why this is nobody is quite sure.
A lot of the lessons chess programmers learned ought to be
applicable to computer Go -- but obviously they aren't.
And Go seems like
such a simple game, much simpler than chess. There's only
one kind of piece, the stone; and given any intersection (x,y),
either there's a black stone there, or a white stone, or nothing at all.
There are no dice or elements of chance. There are no hidden things; you
always see exactly what your opponent sees, which is all there is to see.
A computer ought to eat this kind of situation up with a spoon.
One constraint on your brilliant computer-Go program is
... your box not only has to figure out The Right Move, but
has to do it within time limits that also apply to its human foe. As it
is, one nickname for Go is rotten axe handle
, from a legend
about a woodsman who paused to watch a fascinating Go game, and when it
was over, his brand new axe handle had rotted away. As a spectator sport,
we are talking Paint Drying here.
For many years now,
a Taiwanese businessman named Mr. Ing Chang-Ki has offered
ONE MILLION DOLLAR$
to the computer Go program which
can defeat his designated Human Go Master.
27 August 1997 at age 84.
his Prize is still waiting to be won!
Swarzman, of the San Francisco Goe Club (he keeps spelling it that way,
which is fine) reports that the
World Computer Go Congress
held in San Francisco on 21-23 November, and here's what happened after
the programs had competed:
3 Go Intellect Ken Chen
4 Silver Igo Naritatsu
(Silver Star Japan)
5 Many Faces of Go David Fotland
Alfred & Walter Knoephle Germany
Park Yong Goo
8 Star of Poland Janusz Kraszek
Super Ego Bruce Wilcox
"... Handtalk was matched against three human players. Handtalk was allowed
to place 11 stones as a handicap. [A huge
handicap! Nine stones is the most you get in a human-human game.]
Handtalk defeated Lin Ting-Chao, a 13-year-old Taiwanese 2 Dan by three
points and Jonathan Wang, an American 6 Dan by 21 points. Hwang Yi-Tsuu,
an 11-year-old Taiwanese 4 Dan soundly defeated Handtalk."
that Handtalk was also the winner of the Fost Cup competition in August!
up: An 11-year-old boy prevented the smartest Go program in the world from
winning a million bucks. Apparently your Go Monster Revenge Robot has to
trash THREE human opponents in a row to establish that victory isn't a
So. There you are. Simple as that.
If you don't know how to program
a computer ...
Well. I really don't know what to
say. You have my sympathies.
Imagine spending $1000 or $2000
on a box and only being able to use one percent of its power and potential!
ought to be ashamed of yourself ... especially since you can learn to program
in QBasic (which they threw in with your DOS/Windows machine for
FREE!) with just one night's study!
But if you do know
how to program, Get to Work on a Go Program Now!!!
To sample the flavor of the Web
community that's trying to write stronger, faster, smarter Go programs
and win the million bucks, you might want to subscribe to
Computer Go Newsgroup
(and I guess type SUBSCRIBE in the
subject and body; that ought to do it. They've recently moved from Australia
to France.) If you expect to find a lot of people perpetually drooling
over what they plan to do with Mr. Ing's Million Bucks, you'll be disappointed;
these people are focused big-time! Most of the time I haven't
the foggiest notion what they're talking about. (The Greeks, who naturally
don't say "It's all Greek to me!" say instead: "It's all
Chinese to me!")
But you can sort of intuit through
the GeekSpeak that a frighteningly high percentage of these Computer Go
correspondents are real smart! Reading their correspondence
as they toss ethereal ideas back and forth just sorta makes a feller proud
to belong to the same species. (At least I think I belong
to the same species.)
Now you're going to need a Go board
and a set of stones. You can get 'em cheap. Or expensive. Top-of-the-line
Go boards are carved from a single tree grown specially for the purpose,
and can cost $50,000. But you can get a more modest board and stones for
As for books, if you start getting
good at Go, eventually there's a problem for English-speakers: About 95
percent of Go literature is written in Asian languages. A math professor
friend of mine solved this by living with a Japanese Go master for a year;
he now also teaches Japanese. But there are plenty of English Go books
to get you beyond beginner.
Go Master's Tale
The Japanese Go Master
lived with his wife and maybe a kid or two in your basic Japanese apartment/flat,
which is like your basic USA linen closet -- essentially one room for eating,
sleeping, dancing, playing Go, etc. (Married Japanese men are strongly
encouraged to leave home after dinner so they won't be underfoot during
the dining-dormitory transition, so the entire husband population goes
to Pachinko pinball parlors for two or three evening hours.)
One evening my pal
and the Master are chatting, and the Master says, "My wife would really
love a small house in the suburbs. But they are so expensive, I cannot
afford it." Then he looks at his Go board, which is worth about $50,000.
"Now and then I think about maybe selling this board ... naaaaah!"
"Well," my pal explained
to me, "marriage is a little different in Japan."
Here are some Computer Go buzzwords
you should become familiar with:
trees (not the wooden
ones, the Platonic Objects)
life and death, joseki
Game of Life
Incidentally, there's a theory about
computer chess that the best programmers tend to be fairly lousy
players -- the idea being that after years of humiliating evidence
(often provided by 13-year-old boys with thick glasses and pimples) that
you're always going to be a hopeless potzer, something snaps,
and you seek Revenge
by constructing a Frankenstein Monster Chess Robot that will crush and
annihilate all those who made you feel like such a schmuck all those years.
I suspect the same is true for computer Go.
I also suspect spending years to
become a very fine Go player might even be counterproductive to try for
the Ing Prize. Becoming a human Go master is an intellectual task
that requires no knowledge of computers. Writing an ass-kicking computer
Go program is an entirely different task, and it's quite possible the less
you know about the advanced strategic aspects of Go, the better, because
the idea is to make the computer do all the fancy thinking.
... the annual slugfest between the world's best computer Go programs,
was held in Nagoya
Japan on 27-28 August 1997
Go isn't an isolated phenomenon; the tournament was part of an important
world conference on artificial intelligence
Many of the top programs and their creators are old friends to Computer
Go Newsgroup subscribers. They may not be posting every one of their trade
secrets and magic tricks, but many of them are very generous with their
highly interesting and obviously successful ideas. Besides the Ing Prize,
there's a Great Deal of Money
made (mostly in Asia) by writing a strong Go program that can be sold in
a handheld machine or as a home computer program -- just like home chess
programs and machines.
DID I SAY THERE'S MONEY
TO BE MADE SELLING YOUR GO PROGRAM? CHECK OUT THIS E-MAIL:
So far income from
sales in Japan has been much higher
than the [tournament]
prizes. I have one 2nd, and a
couple of 3rd's
in the world.
But software is
a great get-rich scheme. I sent a
my source code on a floppy, they did
all the work of
making a Japanese version and selling
it, and they send
me royalty checks.
It's like money
right right, money for nothing, this is a real
underachiever talking, a real hammock & Budweiser sorta
I use the money to buy bigger, faster, computers
(I have 5 now),
and to pay for travel, but not to
anyplace very interesting
-- David Fotland
author of "Many Faces of Go"
The new world champ
, Chen ZhiXing
away from Nagoya with about U$16,500
which is not chopped liver
. After beating all its international
silicon foes, Handtalk then played an exhibition game against a Human
with a 2-kyu
(very strong handicap -- lower the number,
stronger the player), and squeaked out a one-point win. (The girl had little
or no experience playing Go via keyboard, mouse and screen; but then the
computer had little or no experience playing little girls.) The judges
were impressed with the strength of Handtalk's game and certified Handtalk
-- also not chopped liver, and money in the bank for Handtalk's
commercial future. Next year's Fost Cup will be held in Tokyo
the end of August.
1 Handtalk Chen ZhiXing
2 Go Intellect Ken Chen
3 Go 4++
Michael Reiss England
4 Star of Poland Janusz Kraszek
5 Silver Igo Naritatsu Yamamoto
Tristan Cazenave France
Masahiro Tanaka Japan
Hiroshi Yamashita Japan
Shi-Jim Yan Taiwan
10 Fun Go
Park Yong-Goo Korea
Kuo-Yuan Kao USA
Fotland's Many Faces finished 11th!
just don't know how that changes the other standings.)
12 Many Faces of Go David Fotland
Well? What are you waiting for?
£ $ ¥ ¢
£ $ ¥ ¢
As I walk along the Bois de Boulogne
With an independent air
You can see the ladies stare --
"He must be a millionaire!"
You can see them sigh and wink an eye
And to wish that they could die
For The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carrrrrrrlo!
Merci to Didier K., an actual French guy, for correcting
my spelling of Bois de Boulogne.
£ $ ¥ ¢
£ $ ¥ ¢
Okay okay in 1817 a guy from Virginia
named Thomas J. Beale put together an expedition of about twenty
fellow adventurers and went to explore the American wilderness west of
the Mississippi. Somewhere in what's now New Mexico they stumbled upon
a cave with enormously rich veins of silver and gold. They took it back
to St. Louis in wagons, exchanged some of it for more portable precious
jewels, then took the treasure to Bedford County, Virginia,
and buried it in iron pots in a vault within four miles of Buford's
Tavern (whose foundations still exist).
went back West the next year and did it all over again.
Beale wrote three documents in code:
preci$e location of the trea$ure.
2. A detailed
description of the treasure.
3. A list
of all the expedition members (shareholders in the treasure).
Here's the start of Document 1, just to give you a taste:
Beale used to stay in a hotel in
Lynchburg, Virginia, and became friends with the innkeeper. When he went
off on another expedition into the wilderness in 1822, he left the three
coded documents with the innkeeper. He never returned.
Toward the end of the Civil War,
the innkeeper passed the coded documents to a friend, James Beverly
Ward, who spent decades, and finally got lucky and inspired and figured
out that the key to Document 2 was The Declaration
of Independence. Using
the Declaration, he decoded Document 2.
If Beale was telling the truth,
the buried treasure is worth around
No one has ever decoded Documents
1 and 3 !!! (Not
that anyone really cares about 3.)
But the Coded Text -- long lists
of numbers -- has been carefully copied and circulated for years. You can
get it all at
as well as a lot of other information
about the Beale Ciphers and the Treasure!
Well. Here we are again.
Those of you who don't believe this
outlandish story; or who can't program a computer; or are sure they can
never crack the Beale Ciphers; or who think it's too much of an effort
... well, just Go Away.
Hit the road, Jack,
and don'tcha come back
no more no more no more no more . . .
Now a word about Secret Codes
In The Gold Bug, Edgar
Alan Poe wrote that any Code one mind could devise, another astute,
determined mind could eventually break. Poe was a brilliant pioneer in
Cryptography, and computed the tables of most frequently used alphabet
letters in English writing. Such tables (different for different languages)
remain invaluable in Cryptography to this day.
Poe was Absolutely Right for all
the most important secret codes in the world -- things like the Japanese
Purple and German Enigma codes of World War II -- well into
very recent times. The earliest electronic digital computers were invented
in secret to crack these codes, and were so successful that it seemed obvious
that powerful Supercomputers would always stay one step ahead of any new
secret code. (For more about the fascinating world of Secret Codes, read
Kahn's The Codebreakers. It's a book. There's nothing to
click on. Go to the bookstore or the library, okay?)
ADDENDA: A more recent book, The Codebreakers, by Simon Singh very vigorously suggests the TRUE value of the Beale Ciphers. Singh says every modern cryptologist, including the British Enigma codebreakers at Bletchley Park, began his/her code education by trying to break the Beale Ciphers. So even if there is no fabulous treasure waiting in Virginia, when the world desperately needs to break a secret code, the legacy of the Beale Ciphers provides the human brainpower. (The Beale Ciphers are mentioned in the recent movie about Turing and Enigma, "The Imitation Game.")
Then in 1978, Things Changed. Using
large Prime Numbers, S. Pohlig and M. Hellman invented a type
of code called "trap-door" or "one-way encryption," the basis for Public
Key Cryptography, which computer communications use today. The best theories
are (almost) absolutely certain that the world's most powerful supercomputers
will take centuries to break these Large-Prime-Number codes!
But ... Beale made
his codes in the early 19th century, and if the methods he used for Document
2 are those he used for Document 1, these are fairly primitive, crude codes.
The reason they haven't been broken is that you need to figure out what
book or document Beale used as the Key -- the way he used the Declaration
of Independence for Document 2.
In modern crypto jargon, such codes are called a "one-time pad." Without knowing the key (book, usually) used to code the message, it's just about impossible to break the code.
It probably has to be:
a standardized document -- that is,
something which has almost exactly the same wording and spelling no matter
what the edition
Oh. I forgot. You'll need to buy a
shovel and rent a big truck.
a widely-circulated, widely owned document
in the early 19th century, like the King James Bible.
By the way
Just what, exactly, will you do
with your $1,000,000
or your $22,000,000
me your plans for these Huge Sums of Filthy Lucre. Please don't
tell me you're going to invest it all in safe low-yield money-market or
mutual funds for your old age. I don't want to hear that. I'll list your
more imaginative fantasies, and your name (or not, your call) here.
Fotland, who actually has MADE
writing Go programs, describes
spending spree above.
you people thought this
was a joke, right? i
will try to get a .wav of Fotland laughing.
Mine involve unimaginably fast English
motorcycles (there's a New Triumph!!! I've seen and touched it!),
lobsters, and n beautiful, intelligent, friendly, fun-loving young
women (where n > 1 ) who like to wear stuff from Frederick's
Anticipation, Slobbering & Drooling
The Magic Touch-the-Money Moment
The Spending Spree