| < retrospect: 24 jul >

(1) 2013.07.24

  ...of the moment  
"Sure it mattered. When you get to my age you discover that everything mattered. Life isn't a series of good and bad choices. It's harder to steer it one way or the other than most people think. You just get pulled along. You look back and you wonder 'could I have changed the course of my life?' Maybe you could've ... but it would probably have taken a tremendous force of will."
--Old Man in Seth's "It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken", a graphic novel (recycling this quote from 5 years ago -- the "everything mattered" line has stuck with me, but I had forgotten the source)
"Every 2 minutes today we snap as many photos as the whole of humanity took in the 1800s. In fact, ten percent of all the photos we have were taken in the past 12 months."
--This entry in the 1000memories blog. I'm not 100% sure I buy the 10% line, but maybe!
"If I had a dollar for every time someone called me an entitled white guy the problem would be even worse"
Great quote from this goodmenproject article:
The core issue is this: many, many men in our society feel they have to be needed, because they can’t imagine they could ever be wanted.
I wish the article pushed a little farther, though, to think about the background of this: the old trope of men as proactive subject, women as passive object. The old (and still around, alas) "male as default", especially for active roles. As society slowly gets better at accepting women as subject, men will be better served if they can accept a corresponding role as possible "objet du desir", someone you'd LIKE to have around than NEED to have around.

This is from a page of work done on fake UIs for the Avengers movie:
The whole site is pretty awesome, actually. Such a cool concept, making awesome but not 100% implausible UIs...

  ...of the moment  

(1) ...must come (kerdunk!) down

  ...of the moment - Republicans brought the hand grenade of default to the knife fight of politics. Likely victim: the economy, you, me.
Silver Ball Museum @ Asbury Park boardwalk- such vast amounts of pinball. The late "Revenge from Mars" was astounding, visuals and playwise.

(1) canoe-dling
Apologies (mostly to my folks) if my blog has been a bit coarse the past couple of days, I'll try to get back on track.

Friday my company had an outing, canoeing on the Charles (Newton area) followed by some tasty meat from Red Bones. Most of these are from my photoset of the day...

Ok, so these two aren't -- this is Spy Pond from last weekend--

I was surprised at how well this other shot of the moon came out. (while still always bummed that the cratering on the moon doesn't really look like anything else.)

Although in my heart of hearts I prefer the July 4th Kayaking on the lower part of the Charles, I was kind of stunned at how scenic it is upstream...

Though as always, I'm just as fascinated by human engineering, like the underside of this bridge, closeup...

And a bit further back on the way back in...

And I'm not above admiring the odd bit of graffiti, if competently done, and/or oddly placed, and/or with an odd word or phrase in it.

Finally, a bug in the window of the men's room--

  ...of the moment  
"I take you to the beach sometime and i'll bring the blanket and the chicken. Is this not the makins for love?"
--"Random black guy" to Tristan's mom
"Pretty please?"
"The physical appearance of the please makes no difference."
--Despicable Me (Funny how "Minions" fee like redone Rabbids...)
Is Time Itself Slowing Down? (or "disappearing from the universe" as the article is headlined.) You know, I have to say that makes more sense to me than "Dark Energy". Also: would creatures in that universe really notice it? Or just move slower and slower, asymptotically closer to stopping forver? (via Bill)
Can't figure out if flikr's UI lets me do what I want, namely, quickly go through large versions of photos in set and discard ones I dislike.
The gratifying *SNAP* of unfurling a new garbage bag more than makes up for any drudgery of taking out the kitchen trash.
Been thinking about how the iPad might represent a new breed of "Casual Computers". I was thinking about my computers before the web; for me they were game players and word processors and that was it; nerdy and/or boring. Would I even bother owning, say, laptops if not for the web? With the iPad, the PC might return to a workhorse type role; it's good for more serious browsing, and critical for getting things done, but not so much fun beyond that.
"It was grandmotherly, as though grandma... might have done it with... her axe."
--Patrick O'Connell on Top Chef

(10) the bookshelf that flushes
Bathroom reading! Some people find it disgusting. For others it's a small pleasure of life, a refuge from the tumult of day to day existence.

Recently I decided to press the reset button on the material I had at hand in there... My bathroom library was as follows:
  • Loadstar (old C=64 magazine-on-disk) catalog
  • Holy Cow
  • The Book of Sequels
  • Cooking for Dummies
  • Penny Arcade 2: Epic Legends of the Magic Sword Kings
  • Edge Presents The 100 Best Video Games
  • WWII From Here to Eternity (WW2 as drawn and painted by soldiers)
  • The Photographer's Manual
  • Tufts University ("College History Series")
  • My New Filing Technique is Unstoppable
  • Discussion and Interaction in the Academic Community (Aunt's)
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Player's Guide
  • Clerks: The Lost Scene (Comic)
  • Clerks: Holiday Special (Comic)
  • The Illustrated History of WWII
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 7: Maximum Performance
  • My I Kiss You on the Lips, Miss Sandra?
  • 5 copies of Wired
  • 8 copies of Game Informer
  • Hardcore Gamer Magazine
  • Fashion Rocks (think this was bundled with a Wired)
It wasn't quite as much as it might look like here, two neat stacks standing on edge. The preponderence of WW2 and video game stuff is due in part to the proximity of their normal bookshelf to the bathroom. (Also it's stuff that's interesting in small doses.)

Any volunteers to describe their bathroom library in the comments? Or is it still all just old Calvin and Hobbes and Bloom Counties?

(As for the "ick" and "well I'm never borrowing a book from HIM" factors... I dunno. I suspect if you start going down the road of uptightness beyond washing your hands after using the bathroom, it's a slippery slope to starting to freak out how many insect bits per gallon are allowed in foods, or about the eyebrow mites we all carry, or the intestinal bacteria that help us all out, and 1,000 other ways where things we think of as relatively pristine are really quite icky.)

Random anecdote: my dad grew up rural enough to remember some places where the Sears Roebuck catalog served as a combination of toilet paper and reading material (maybe for an outhouse at the cousins' farm?) There was a specified order to which sections of the catalog got torn out first; I think it started with shoes.

  ...of the moment  
Trees and grass are looking so green. Is that because all the rainwater "lets" them be, or they desperately reaching to use any sun they can?
After a spring and half a summer of sandals, socks and shoes (for a business meeting) feels like swaddling clothes. - The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon

(6) everything mattered
So, following up yesterday's rant about the Chinese Room...

Reading further into the book, I see what Hawkins is up to. Around 100 pages in he writes
If Searle's Chinese Room contained a similar memory system that could make predictions about what Chinese characters would appear next and what would happen next in the story, we could say with confidence that the room understood Chinese and understood the story. We now see where Alan Turing went wrong. Prediction, not behavior, is the proof of intelligence.
So now we see where Hawkins went wrong... Turing specified a judge looking to determine if the conversation partner is a human or a computer, and is permitted to ask questions that could not be answered without having a normal human's ability to predict the flow of a conversation, to fill in the gaps. Thus Hawkins use of the Chinese Room is a giant strawman, where he might be using the room as a stand in for "computers as they are generally used now" (with a CPU, long and short term memory, following programs step by step, etc) and a weak form of the Turing test (fooling a Chinese speaker who probably wasn't having that deep of a conversation to begin with) and saying that this test can be passed by a machine that isn't really thinking, which is view so weak it's tough to argue against.

For Hawkins, and I think he makes a strong case for this, prediction - a non-stop giant flow of expectation and comparison with reality - is the tool and hallmark and perhaps even necessary component of intelligence. He is probably taking for granted Searle's idea of "Strong AI" vs "Weak AI"; some proponents of the former would argue that even a simple thermostat has a (extremely) rough form of consciousness, that it in effect "wants" the room to be a certain temperature and "acts" according to that desire. Hawkins sees a bigger, unbridgeable gap between that kind of simple mechanism and generalized intelligence, rather than a continuum, and feels that he has isolated the crucial difference.

I like when I read a book about how the brain and consciousness might function, and suddenly I feel more self-aware of my own internal thought process.

Quote of the Moment
"Sure it mattered. When you get to my age you discover that everything mattered. Life isn't a series of good and bad choices. It's harder to steer it one way or the other than most people think. You just get pulled along. You look back and you wonder 'could I have changed the course of my life?' Maybe you could've ... but it would probably have taken a tremendous force of will."
--Old Man in Seth's "It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken", a graphic novel I just read. The man was a friend of "Kalo", a New Yorker cartoonist the main semi-autobiographical main character is trying to find information about. (It turns out Kalo is made up by Seth (pen name of Gregory Gallant), though he throws in some convincing mockups of Kalo cartoons at the end that really make the quest feel real.)

  ...of the moment  
I think I should let myself be hungry more -- "full" as default is probably not good. Conversely... diet coke and creme de menthe altoids?

(10) two-fisted politics
You know, for primitive culture without many reflective surfaces, you'd think seeing your reflection in still water would be pretty deep magic, a basis for mythology... I mean, I guess a lot of animals get over it and don't seem to freak out about the "other", but still. Despite stuff like Narcissus and "Through the Looking Glass", I'm surprised reflections don't get nearly as much mythological play as, say, light vs. dark.

News of the Moment
One Laptop Per Child is underway, and already kids browsing porn is an issue. Actually, the morning before I read that story I heard about the progress of OLPC, and how they agonized about the $2.50 extra adding a camera to it would cost... for a second I wondered if "teen webcam girl" culture might spread through these potentially at-risk populations in the most vile ways imaginable. Mercifully, I don't think the economic infrastructure is there for that, but still.

Funny of the Moment
Cute Slate piece on what they should have asked at last nights Youtube debates:
Gentlemen, here's the scenario: As you are flying home from Moscow--having told the world you will never deal with terrorists--hijackers, posing as reporters, seize Air Force One. They vow to kill a hostage every half-hour, including your wife and daughter, until you release a murderous Russian general. I'll start with Senator Obama. Do you negotiate with the hijackers in the hope of saving lives, or do you flee into the bowels of the craft, then pick them off, one by one, with makeshift shanks and your bare hands?
Ah, sweet politics. May the most physically attractive candidate win, again, and may that be Senator Obama.

Game of the Moment
I posted some sandbox particle-based games earlier, but now they have little fighters who kick each other. Fun!

(3) twenty pounds later
So, I've lost 20 pounds! That's a cool milestone. Half of the first ten is that easy to lose water-y weight stuff, but the second ten is pretty much all the result of your new patterns.

I have a kooky theory, that the best time for me to exercise is right before bed, that maybe cranking up your meatabolism before being so inactive is useful. The computerpoint is, maybe it's just that I'm more dehydrated or whatever when I go to weigh myself the next morning. A corowker mentions the idea that right before you eat is a great time for exercise as well.

I found the video for groove is in the heart online, and like exercising to that, even if I have to kind of doubletime it if I want to keep in rhythm. It's just as weird and campy a video as I would have hoped for. And Lady Miss Kier...mmmmmmmm...

Analysis of the Moment
Slate's Middle East Buddy List... a grid showing who are friends, who are enemies, and why.

(6) hunt hunt gather gather

(2) thanks lan3
Sometimes, I don't have to go out looking for interesting and/or funny stuff...sometimes it comes right to my AIM message window. All I have to do is change a few bits of text into links:

AIM of the Moment
LAN3: Heh. This is what I call balanced media:
"Sept. 11 Panel Says Government Failures Not to Blame for Attacks"--headline, Associated Press, July 22
"9/11 Inquiry Damns US Government"--headline, Reuters, July 22
"Leaders Not Blamed in 9/11 Report"--headline, Associated Press, July 22
"9/11 Panel Point to Bush and Clinton Failings"--headline, Reuters, July 22
LAN3:(from OpinionJournal: no jump link; it's halfway down under "Did Reuters see a different report?")
LAN3: Also, I don't know if you wanted to link to it, but "Uncle Patrick" Hughes has posted another list of advice for the kiddies. As he disclaims from the start, it's not as funny as the first list, but it's pretty funny.

(5) like sand through the hourglass
Ramble of the Moments
Not enough hours in the damn day.
Not enough days in the damn month.
Not enough months in the damn year.
Not enough years in the damn lifetime.

But, oddly enough, too many days in the damn week.

Why isn't it Friday yet?

IMDb of the Moment
Nice! From Justin to Kelly has surpassed Manos, the Hands of Fate as the worst of the Bottom 100 Films at IMDb.

Music of the Moment
Mashups are remixes where the artist takes 2 or more known songs and slams them together. "Dsico that No-Talent Hack" has a download page full of some pretty good ones. My very favorite was Groove's a Bitch featuring Deee-Lite's "Groove is in the Heart" against Missy Eliott's "She's a Bitch" and Basement Jaxx's "Just 1 Kiss". (I found it looking for information on Deee-Lite's Lady Miss Kier lawsuit against the game Space Channel 5...she claims they stole her image, I'd say it was a completely dumb case except previously they tried to license it from her and then went ahead on their own.)

Feedback Feedback of the Moment
After yesterday's 'French Fries' quote, Atari programmer Nick Bensema came up with "Fruit flies like a banana, French fries like a hamburger" on the comments page, which I hadn't heard before, but I like it a lot. After that, LAN3 requested "More jokes in the punchline-as-setup vein, please" but try as I might, I can't quite wrap my head around what that's supposed to be asking for. I must be dumb.

business trip filler day 1
I'm on a business trip today and tomorrow. It's a plane ride up to Maine, my first plane ride since WTC, and it occurs to me that the old gag "take this plane to Cuba!" (or its variants, like "take this bus...") might never be funny again. Not that it was any great shakes to begin with; in fact, I think by the time I learned it Cuba was no longer really the number one highjacking destination.

Oy, the good old days, when a highjacking just meant a small social disruption, with only a few people being killed at worst.

Death and her Substitute
At a junior college in South central Kansas there is an introductory course taught by Death. The course, Basics in Animal Husbandry, is transferable to most major Universities, except for a few small liberal arts colleges who are skeptical of Death's academic qualifications. At least once, but usually two or three times, during every semester, Death would be absent from class. In her place was always the same man, who simply announced himself as Death's Substitute. He spoke with a strong southern accent, was very overweight, and told stories about his wacky shopping mishaps at discount stores to highlight his lessons. The next day Death would be back in class, excusing her absence because of some cold or flu. Then the class would laugh, to which Death would respond with a slight smile, because we had all seen the mornings news about some plane crash or earthquake, and knew what she'd really been up to.
--R.C.G. on the Blender Board, 1998-10-11, though I'm not sure that it's original to that.

(2) going through the motions
Feeling pretty uninspired. Maybe it's the heat. (Heard about three people at Davis Square last night complain how hot it was... but it didn't seem that bad to me, the evening breeze kicking in. Then I realized I was in Mexico for a very very hot week.)

Online Toy of the Moment
What Historical Military Leader Are You Most Like? I'm a Robert E. Lee, which I think is the most modern seeming choice: don't be a glory hound, trust your troops to make the right decision, negotiate well. (I plotted out the binary tree of 4 A/B decisions that lead to the 16 possible outcomes. I'm geeky like that.)

Cartoon of the Moment
A Brilliant Tom Tomorrow Cartoon.
Salon rocks so much.

Quote of the Moment
Dear L. L. Bean, please rename the color choice for mens' boxers to something other than 'cream.' Many thanks.
--anonymous, from Faisal's quote file

KHftCEA 1997-07.2 July KHftCEA 2000-07.2 July

KHftCEA 2000-07.2 July

Last night my brain was so tired... between reading Cryptonomicon, working all weekend on ZipTran and getting through the Stile Project my head was way over stimulated.
KHftCEA 1997-07.2 July

"The only intuitive user interface is a nipple"
gizmos. I love 'em.

< retrospect: 24 jul >