Announcing @supervocalic: a vowel-loving Twitter bot
For a long time I’ve been obsessed with a select subset of the English corpus that I used to call “panvowelics”. These are words where each of A, E, I, O & U appear just once. “Panvowelic” is my own neologism, and one I wasn’t thrilled with, since it wasn’t self-describing. I even wrote an original puzzle on the first version of this blog all about panvowelics. (Post archived here. Missing picture posted here.)
It’s one of those things you can’t stop seeing once you start. I’ve been bothering my wife about my panvowelic discoveries for as long as we’ve been together, because I had no one else to bother. Imagine my (and her) delight when I stumbled upon the Facebook group dedicated to this very obsession. And they even had a much better name for it: Supervocalic.
I’ve been posting to the group for a while; then this weekend I had the inspiration, as all
good crazy minds tend to have, to build a Twitter bot for it. It would have a simple job: read the stream of tweets, and favorite any post that qualified as supervocalic. I build it Saturday night and turned it on on Sunday. It’s been pumping out hits every since. I offer you @supervocalic.
Shit just got real— kristy castellanos (@klynn_caste) May 5, 2014
I must be a ghost.— ｂｅｌｉｅｂｅｒ☮☯ (@I_BeThtPrettyMF) May 7, 2014
@YourWildestDrea OMG!! A SPIDER! -jumps -— Hawwie (@hazza_Styles99) May 7, 2014
And so on.
I realize how stupid this all is. But it’s fun. Eric Chalkin, the coiner of “supervocalic,” explains it: “The fun here is the little dopamine rush our pattern matching brain gets from seeing the pattern.” I agree. It’s quirky and nonsensical yet brings me great delight. Hopefully you too.
A few technical notes, for those interested:
- It doesn’t look at Y’s at all, a rule that I’m reconsidering. I think a match should have one Y or none.
- It favorites all matches. Then I go in a few times a day and retweet any that I like. I try to keep it to just a few RTs per day.
- The account got suspended soon after launch due to what I surmise was overaggressive favoriting. So I put a throttle on it, and now it only favorites at most every four minutes.
- I have a list called BORING_PHRASES that I screen against, so I don’t see any more goddamn “I hate you” or “I’m bored and hungry” or “Will you marry me?” tweets. The list grows every day as I’m introduced to more common supervocalics. I’m considering logging all matches and not allowing repeats.
- I’m very thankful to Luke Seemann who showed me the code for his @whatschicago bot, and to Colin Rofls for exposing his brilliant Anagramatron codebase (the code and the bot itself are both brilliant). I leaned heavily on both to get this working.
So that’s the full lid. Oh, final query. Any suggestions?
Puzzled Pint is Tuesday
Puzzled Pint is like pub trivia, but with dumb puzzles instead of dumb questions. You and your teammates get a bunch of puzzles, you provide yourself with beer, and then you spend the evening drinking and solving. Puzzles are usually 20-30 minutes of work apiece. Hints are free and come as often as you want them.
Last month we did it at the Leadway Bar, and it was a lot of fun. DNAinfo wrote about us. This month’s event is Tuesday, but the location hasn’t been revealed yet. That’ll happen Monday on puzzledpint.com.
The theme is, inconceivably, The Princess Bride. Fortunately none of us are Sicilian, nor is death on the line.
Admission is free. No need to RSVP, but it might be handy, so you get reminded it’s coming up. RSVP Facebook.
Puzzle #104: Roadside Advertisement Scorching 100
I made this puzzle for this month’s Puzzled Pint. The theme was Mix Tape. A minor hint: Because Puzzled Pint hapens in London as well as in four cities in America, I had to make a slightly different version for the solvers there.
Kickstarter now has a Puzzles category. There are three active projects listed there, along with 29 others from the past five years that qualify. I love seeing puzzles take over more territory in the cultural zeitgeist. Also the page features one of the greatest filter bars (see above) ever seen on the Internet.
Puzzled Pint at [REDACTED] tonight
I’m organizing the April Puzzled Pint in Chicago. It’s 6pm tonight at a bar on the north side of the city. The precise location is hidden behind this puzzle.
Puzzled Pint is like pub trivia, but with puzzles instead of trivia. We’ll provide you with 4 or 5 puzzles, you provide yourself with beer, and then you spend the night solving them. They’re usually 20-30 minutes of work apiece. No pressure, you solve at your own pace, and we give you hints as you need them. This month we’ve got 5 puzzles, including one of mine.
Costs nothing except what you buy in beer and food. RSVP on Facebook.
Just backed this gorgeous Kickstarter by Portland’s Rachel Happen. She’s out to make hand-made, wood-cut puzzles that tell a story. In her words: “I want to make experiences worth having. I’m not making monster puzzles that will wring you dry. And I’m not just making pretty objects. I start with something that captures my attention: a fact, a story, an image. Something beautiful from history or the world around us. Then I build a maze around it. The puzzle is a means to an end, and that end is discovery.” She calls it Baffledazzle.
DASH 6 is scheduled for April 26th.
DASH (Different Area, Same Hunt) is a fun, interactive event where teams of players race to find and solve creative puzzles hidden in different locations in cities all over the world. From fictitious graveyards to s’mores designed in Morse code to music clips containing a hidden message, anything is possible to encounter when playing in the DASH puzzle hunt.
Fourteen cities are participating. If you live in one of these, get a team together and sign up. It’s always a blast.
- Albuquerque, NM
- Austin, TX
- Boston, MA
- Chicago, IL
- Cupertino, CA
- Davis, CA
- London, England
- New York, NY
- Pasadena, CA
- Phoenix, AZ
- Portland, OR
- San Francisco, CA
- Seattle, WA
- Washington, D.C.
Google has your Bacon number
Today I learned that Google engineers have solved enough of the world’s search problems to spend time calculating all the world’s actors’ Bacon numbers. That is, how many degrees away they are from Kevin Bacon. You can access this stat for any person by searching for “bacon number [NAME]”. So for instance, Orson Welles (not surprisingly) has a Bacon number of 2. Queen Victoria, being not actually an actor, and old, is a 3.
Here’s the puzzle. How high of a number can you find? With some careful Wikipedia/IMDB searching, I was able to find a 5. The key is to go for obscure, not famous. I’d be really surprised if a 6 even exists.