Monday, July 26, 2010

Our Official Mascot's Name

It has been a week and I'm sure you have all been at the edge of your seats about the naming of our platypus mascot. What? You aren't aware of the platypus being Purgatory's animal totem extrordinaire? You should read the original piece - click here.

There were some really good suggestions made: Pluto, Plato, Darwin, and Ryncho el ornitorrinco, to name a few. All were good suggestions, but there can be only one. How would I make a decision? By what criteria?

First, I thought the name should reflect what L.I.P. (Laughing In Purgatory) and our soon to be online Purgatory University (P.U.) is all about.  That would require thought, deep thought so I decided to go out drinking last night. That did not help one bit, however, I have a new appreciation of Harpoon Belgian Ale.


But I digress.

The blog is about the funny, a certain kind of funny. Oh sure, I dabble in all kinds and varieties of funny but my stock and trade is poking at the tension between the tragic and the comedic. An example of this kind of humor is this joke from the Simpsons. It was the future and Krusty the Clown shot this off.
What's the difference between Pakistan and Afghanistan? Afghanistan didn't get nuked into a pancake by India! (No one laughs) What, too soon?
Hopefully I'm funnier than Krusty.

Upon taking a look at my previous posts I've noticed something else. There's a lot of Atheism stuff here. Really. I'm not making it up. This blog has: poorly drawn blasphemousy stick figures, deranged rants against a variety of deities, and a general distrust of the authoritarian institutions of Sky Fairyism.

Hmmmm... so the platypus' name should reflect that.

Darwin was the easy choice. As a crafter of the funny I try not to go with the easy. As a script writer going with the obvious is called on the nose writing and that is professional death. Easy is sloppy. Everyone knows who Darwin is (I pray they do). Pluto, the Roman god of the underworld was cool. Plato?
It just didn't resonate with me.


Turing resonates with me big time.

I did a post a while back commemorating Alan Turing's birthday (click here).  He was mathematically brilliant in a way that makes mathematically brilliant people jealous. During World War 2 Alan Turing designed a complex electro-mechanical  machine named the bombe to break the German secret military code. Every day German u-boats (submarines) sent their positions back to home base in Germany. When the naval version of the code was understood the British knew where every enemy submarine lurked.

Alan Turing was instrumental in the early development of the computer. Can computers think? was a question that Turing explored. He came up with what is known as the Turing test. The Turing test was simple.
...a human judge engages in a natural language conversation with one human and one machine, each of which tries to appear human. All participants are placed in isolated locations. If the judge cannot reliably tell the machine from the human, the machine is said to have passed the test.
So you're saying to yourself, "OK, Turing was brilliant and not a lot of people know about him but does he really deserve to have our hallowed mascot named after him?"


Alan Turing was an Atheist as well as gay. After the war his homosexuality brought him into conflict with the British authorities. He reported a break in at his home and then admitted to the police that he was engaging in homosexual acts. Alan was fairly naive considering the fact that homosexuality was illegal in the UK at the time. He was charged with homosexuality and convicted. Alan was given the choice of prison or chemical castration and the chose the latter. Deeply depressed he took his own life.

I think Turing is a fitting name because...

this is Purgatory.


  1. Poor guy. Now, every time I see Turing I will be depressed.

  2. I see it as a reminder of what happens when Church/State gets mingled together. Supposedly the apple logo from Apple refers to the poison fruit Turing ate to commit suicide.

  3. Nice going, Andy....I will never be able to look at my IPod the same way again...

  4. Comprehensive Phrone Delegate (VMQI)July 29, 2010 at 8:57 AM

    Turing is a respectable fellow. Penrose's insights into non-algorithmic aspects of human thinking are worth taking into consideration however when considering the question of whether or not a computer can think, and the less ambiguous associated question; can computer become conscious? Further, one can imagine a computer with sufficiently sophisticated programming to enable it to fool some users into believing it is a conscious person. Before one could conclude that the computer with such software is conscious, one must rule out other possible explanations: could the deception have been accomplished due to the comprehensive details provided by the many ingenious conscious programmers? One detects a mind is involved, but the conscious work may have taken place during the programming rather than at the time of testing.
    Turing the mascot is, however, fantastic. If a computer based entity can indeed become conscious, may the first in history to do so be Turing the Laughing in Purgatory Mascot!


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