The reCAPTCHA Rorschach Test

Even if you’re not familiar with the contrived acronym CAPTCHA, you’ve probably encountered the concept from time to time online. It’s a reasonably reliable way for websites that allow user comments to distinguish a human from a spambot, and thus it’s one form of Turing test. So far so good. In fact I use one such CAPTCHA service, reCAPTCHA, for comments on this site.

I like reCAPTCHA because, aside from the fact that it works (most of the time, though you may guess that one of its failings has prompted this posting, and you may be correct), it is part of a Carnegie Mellon University project to digitize books. (You see, humans completing the CAPTCHAs help to decipher words that the OCR software chokes on.)

Tonight I was going over various pages of my site, attempting to apply yet another layer of polish to everything, and I discovered the most bizarre abomination of a CAPTCHA I have ever seen. I grabbed a screenshot, and here it is. Good luck with that.

reCAPTCHA Rorschach

41-year-old Dara “41” Torres is 41 years old!!!!! (41)

Dara Torres is 41!!!!!!!With Wimbledon underway and the Olympic Trials picking up speed, SLP and I have been watching a lot of sports on NBC this week. And the most breathless, repetitive story throughout has been the “marvel” of 41-year-old swimmer Dara Torres. 41. It is impossible for an NBC sportscaster to mention Dara Torres (41) without stating that she is 41. 41.

It is impressive that she’s competing in the Olympics at the age of 41, and in fact is swimming at her peak, setting personal best and in some cases record times. But it would be nice if they could just once mention her name and her success without, at least 3 times per sentence, also emphasizing her age. Yes, she’s 41! 41!!! OMG she’s 41!!!!!!11!!41!!!!111one!!!forty-one!

We get it. She’s also a great swimmer, regardless of her age. Enough already!