Dipped back into TVTropes for a bit - (found a "Headscratchers" section as a link to why a Sonic the Hedgehog game has "COPE" in big letters in the background) - anyway, there seems to be a new bit of jargon since I last browsed there - "Watsonian" (i.e. in-universe) vs "Doylist" (i.e. about the artists making the universe) explanations for stuff details that don't seem to make common sense.
"We need more songs, man. Fucking songs, not hooks."
--Quincy Jones, from that GQ Article. The thing is... I know he knows 10,000x more about music than I do... but I still love hooks.
--from Simpsons Scenes That Are Just Like Movies
Frinkiac is a great Simpsons' quote finder and meme maker:
That's one of my favorite quotes, just a reminder at how out of perspective problems are when they show up right in front of us.
A kiss is just a kiss, but a sigh is a reflex that happens a several times an hour and helps preserve lung function.
My sousaphone roots, Euclid High School Panther Marching Band!
The 1991 Homecoming Game, by the looks of it.
"What do you mean?"
"You know, like elves and stuff. People just made that up."
"Oh, I don't know. I mean, what makes you think that elves are any more magical than something like... like a whale? You know what I mean? What if I told you a story about how underneath the ocean, there was this giant sea mammal that used sonar and sang songs and it was so big that its heart was the size of a car and you could crawl through the arteries? I mean, you'd think that was pretty magical, right?"
"Yeah. But, like... right this second, there's, like, no elves in the world, right?"
"... ...No. Technically, no elves."
--The Movie "Boyhood"
I'm thinking it's time for a real bed. (One side effect of my big breakups seems to be that for a while I use some weird ass bed - an air mattress in 2003, and then this daybed for a few years now. In twin bed mode it's too small, pulled out it's too big for the space. One mattress is firm, the other is memory foam.)
Thinking about one of those Caster or Leesa mattresses. I went mattress shopping with Amber in 2012 or so, and really don't want to go through that crap again. I sort of really hate the pressure to know what kind of mattress I want.
Anyway, the daybed is probably up for grabs. It's gonna need some deconstruction to get out of there, but it's a pretty awesome conception for a daybed - slightly rustic looking, but with pillows would make a fine couch, and side by side it's a very decent sleeper, with room for mattresses etc under.
I finally wrote my pseudo-magnum-opus on automated testing, and the skepticism I often have about it. I'd really appreciate any feedback by software folks, because I really need to grow in this area, or get skilled in getting others to agree with me. The link includes this great long passage by Joel Spolsky that I want to include here:
In fact what you'll see is that the hard-core geeks tend to give up on all kinds of useful measures of quality, and basically they get left with the only one they can prove mechanically, which is, does the program behave according to specification. And so we get a very narrow, geeky definition of quality: how closely does the program correspond to the spec. Does it produce the defined outputs given the defined inputs.
The problem, here, is very fundamental. In order to mechanically prove that a program corresponds to some spec, the spec itself needs to be extremely detailed. In fact the spec has to define everything about the program, otherwise, nothing can be proven automatically and mechanically. Now, if the spec does define everything about how the program is going to behave, then, lo and behold, it contains all the information necessary to generate the program! And now certain geeks go off to a very dark place where they start thinking about automatically compiling specs into programs, and they start to think that they've just invented a way to program computers without programming.
Now, this is the software engineering equivalent of a perpetual motion machine. It's one of those things that crackpots keep trying to do, no matter how much you tell them it could never work. If the spec defines precisely what a program will do, with enough detail that it can be used to generate the program itself, this just begs the question: how do you write the spec? Such a complete spec is just as hard to write as the underlying computer program, because just as many details have to be answered by spec writer as the programmer. To use terminology from information theory: the spec needs just as many bits of Shannon entropy as the computer program itself would have. Each bit of entropy is a decision taken by the spec-writer or the programmer.
So, the bottom line is that if there really were a mechanical way to prove things about the correctness of a program, all you'd be able to prove is whether that program is identical to some other program that must contain the same amount of entropy as the first program, otherwise some of the behaviors are going to be undefined, and thus unproven. So now the spec writing is just as hard as writing a program, and all you've done is moved one problem from over here to over there, and accomplished nothing whatsoever.
This seems like a kind of brutal example, but nonetheless, this search for the holy grail of program quality is leading a lot of people to a lot of dead ends.
There is an amusing (and by amusing I mean annoying) bug with iTunes smart playlists... if a song is only on a device because it had a certain rating and so appeared in specific smart playlists, it's difficult if then loses that rating... its ghost still shows up and automagically streams from the cloud, but anything that could carry the metadata is lost, so the thing stays on the list. (2 comments)
"The Milk Of Human Kindness. The Grape-Nuts Of Human Cruelty. The Banana Of Human Sexuality."
"Life is an illusion, but when someone kicks you hard in the nuts, man!, is that one powerful illusion."
Glad to see Bad Gods is still around:
(Making the rounds...)
http://midis.atari2600land.com/ - tried to dig up this Atari 2600 MIDI music site with a remix/cover of JoustPong/FlapPing title music. (6 comments)
"Breastfeeding in public is frowned upon, but I'm allowed to eat BBQ ribs in a family restaurant? It's a twisted world."
--http://twitter.com/loresjoberg (8 comments)
--A very primitive braille2text translator. Unfortunately, it only does the most basic type of Braille, letter to letter translation (Grade One) As it turns out to do Braille properly, you need to translate hundreds of abbreviations and alternate characters. I was surprised I couldn't google someone doing this already... it's tricky, but you could probably get a good 90/10 solution in a day or two.
If there's any kind of interest I might try to enhance this so it can do a reasonable facisimile of Grade Two, but really I was kind of more interested in the UI of it.
Amazing football last night! Meanwhile, in NE, Belichick decides he can run EVERY damn aspect of the team. Has he done anything on his own?
http://harveyjames.livejournal.com/152287.html - Harveyjames' english lessons are the most amazing thing ever.
Remember "Pillow Book" where the she yells at him for having sloppy boring handwriting? Weirdly that makes me regret my bad penmanship.
Sigh. I suspected Microsoft was shoving yet another Update at my poor XP tablet when Firefox took minutes to load, and lo and behold... (1 comment)
--Saturday I joined in with EBB and her set of watercolors (much more manageable than fingerpaints, points out EBB's mama.) It's tough to put aside my doodle-centric style, or at least try to meld it with the idea of putting color on paper.
"A poem is no place for an idea." --Edgar Watson Howe. (This might be why I like prose more than poetry.) (1 comment)
Just Read: "The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loaca", Umberto Eco. Italian Book Antiquarian loses a tremendous chunk of his personal history after a coma, and looks over a lot of neat boyhood popculture stuff from pre-WW2 Italy (the novel has tons of interesting illustrations.) The book is great when it's about a guy coping with humor and intelligence with having forgotten so much about life that we take for granted, but eventually gets a bit bogged down. It was translated from the Italian by Geoffery Bock, including a lot of lyrics, in rhyme. Impressive, but almost makes me suspicious...
Display Advertising of the Moment
--This great 80s relic is inside of a camera story right by my bus stop. I love the morbid undertone with "Because time goes by"... so get takin' pictures 'cause pretty soon you'll be FRICKIN' OLD! But mostly, I love how the slogan is highlighted by this:
Just once I'd like to hear someone in a movie or TV show go "Aw nuts! She didn't give me her real number, this is one of those fake '555' numbers!"
(Or is '555' the "reality" of these shows, so the line would be "this can't be real, it doesn't even start with 555"...)
In Hartford there seems to be a cab company whose number is 666-6666. Of course, that's a bit of a relic, the area code is becoming more and more necessary, and sense of shared area code less important, in an age of cellphones.
Quote of the Moment
"In the case of the first man to use an anecdote there is originality; in the case of the second, there is plagiarism; with the third, it is lack of originality; and with the fourth it is drawing from a common stock."
"Yes, and in the case of the fifth, it is research."
--Professor Brander Matthews and Nicholas Murray Butler, in the anecdote that caps "Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes", which has been my smallroom reading for months. I considered it deep synchronicity that, out of all alphabetical order, my old middle school injoke Nicholas Murray Butler made an appearance.
Music of the Moment
--Beatbox Flute from a collection of Super Mario solos. I used to do something oddly similar on the tuba. I should post that some day... no video, alas, or rather, mercifully. (This guy is rather more clever than I was at mixing the melody around the beats.)
On that page, it's interesting to hear what melody they go into after that. I personally prefer the stage 2 "underground theme". (See this MIDI page, top right corner.)
So everything is going pretty well for me in DC. Tonight I have dinner with my Aunt Ruth, her son Scott, and his wife Sandy... I haven't talked politics with them in a while, though I think they're pretty hardcore Red-Staters. Still, it's family and it's been too long since we've been together (pretty much not since my grandmother passed away 5 years ago.) Besides everything else, I think I really appreciate them as a kind of tangental link to my dad.
Quote of the Moment
"The brighter you are, the more you have to learn."
Image of the Moment
|--from The Cellar, One of the World's Hairiest Men|
Philisophical Quotes of the Moment
"In physics, we can give a cold scientific definition of reality which is free from all sentimental mystification. But this is not quite fair play, because the word 'reality' is generally used with the intention of invoking sentiment. It is a grand word for a peroration. 'The right honourable speaker went on to declare that the concord and amity for which he had unceasingly striven had now become a reality (loud cheers).' The conception which is so troublesome to apprehend is not 'reality' but 'reality (loud cheers).'"
"What is the ultimate truth about ourselves? Various answers suggest themselves. We are a bit of stellar matter gone wrong. We are physical machinary--puppets that strut and laugh and die as the hand of time pulls the strings beneath. But there is one elementary inescapable answer. We are that which asks the question."
--Sir Arthur Eddington, "Beyond the Veil of Physics". I'm reading this book "Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of the World's Greatest Physicists" for my UU-church "Science and Spirituality" group, but despite some good stuff from greats like Einstein and Heisenberg, this is the first guy who really grabs me...most of the others get way too hung up on the old bugaboo of free will vs a semi-deterministic universe or physics and epistemology, the limits of what we can know.
Game of the Moment
An exercise in misanthropy, can you make it through all four rounds of Throw Rocks At Boys?
Interactive Quiz of the Moment
Can you spot the fake smiles? Go take the quiz, and then come back here and highlight (or hit Ctrl-A) to read the next bit:
I was like 2 for 10 'til I thought to start looking at the eyes, then I was 9 for 10. Still, I wonder if it might be better in everyday life to take smiles at face value (so to speak).
Article of the Moment
Great piece in Slate, Paradise Lite, on the Populist vision of Heaven. It's funny, lately I had been thinking about how non-biblical many of the things mainstream Christians, including myself back in the day, believe are.
The author missed two other representations of the "Heaven as Disneyland" view: it was beautifully parodied in Monty Python's "Meaning of Life" in the song and dance finale "Christmas in Heaven". More thoughtfully, Julian Barnes' A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters' final chapter shows how we aren't equipped to handle a heaven that's pretty much like life on Earth, but nicer, and forever...eventually, after you've devoured all history's literature, created your own, perfected your golf game so you get a hole-in-one each time, met all the historical figures you've ever wanted to...you're ready to end it. We are finite creatures, and while I wish I had more choice about by "3 score and ten years" lifespan, I found that idea as expressed in that book comforting.
Literary Passage of the Moment
After the sixth day I woke up and it was bright. I knew I was back. I was no longer inside a loose sack but was now inhabiting a body like my own, from before; I was the same. I stood and was in a wide field of buttercups. I could smell their smell and walked through them, my eyes at the level of the yellow, a wide blur of a line of yellow. I was heavy-headed from the gorgeousness of the yellow all blurry. I loved breathing this way again, and seeing everything.
I should say that it's very much the same here as there. There are more hills, and more waterfalls, and things are cleaner. I like it. Each day I walk for a long time, and I don't have to walk back. I can walk and walk, and when I am tired I can sleep. When I wake up, I can keep walking and I never miss where I started and have no home.
I haven't seen anyone yet. I don't miss the cement like sandpaper on my feet, or the buildings with the sleeping men reaching. I sometimes miss the other dogs and the running.
The one big surprise is that as it turns out, God is the sun. It makes sense, if you think about it. Why we didn't see it sooner I cannot say. Every day the sun was right there burning, ours and other planets hovering around it, always apologizing, and we didn't think it was God. Why would there be a god and also a sun? Of course God is the sun. Simple, good.
Everyone in the life before was cranky, I think, because they just wanted to know.
--Dave Eggers, from "After I Was Thrown in the River and Before I Drowned". I'd been meaning to write this vision of a dog's afterlife down for the longest time, and given today's themes it seems as good a time as any, better than most. (2 comments)
Passage of the Moment
As the German biologist Bernd-Olaf Küppers puts it"...in the framework of algorithmic information theory, there is a strict mathematical proof for the assertion that we can never know whether we are in possession of the minimum formula by means of which all the phenomena of the real world can be predicted. The completeness of a scientific theory can in principle never be proved."
We can take pleasure in such concise, elegant expressions as Maxwell's formulae for electromagnetism. But we can never know whether we could express them even more concisely. Not until the day we do so.
Life will forever be open to us. We will never know that it cannot be expressed more beautifully.
The beauty in the world is growing.
--Tor Nørretranders, "The User Illusion." He seems to be taking his time getting to his central points about the illusionary nature of consciousness, starting with Maxwell's Demon and moving into Complexity Theory.
Complexity Theory is great, and it's been too long since I've thought about it. See, total randomness is boring as is total order. Order is boring because it's too easy to describe, like molecules in a crystal. Since you can't describe truly random data in a more compact way, it contains a maximum amount of "information", but that still doesn't interest us. Complexity gets to the idea that what's interesting is how much work was done to get to the final result, and it's where all the interesting stuff in the world happens. It ties into evolution--an organism's genome is valuable because of all the stuff its ancestoral tree has experienced and how the DNA has been weeded out. (On the basis of DNA length, a Lilly would seem to be more complex than a human...)
To me, it also ties into the hacker's idea of "elegance", especially when he describes the work that complexity describes is spent in throwing the extra junk out...
Yeesh it feels good to be reading! I barely cracked a book in January.
In case anyone was wondering, today's title is a Beastie Boys' lyric. (1 comment)
Not the laff-riot that we had yesterday for this update...
Personal Rumors of the Moment
So I think my job might be in trouble. Despite the fact that my company made 97% of its projections last year (despite the WTC tragedy), and that the Boston office has a huge amount of knowledge about our legacy systems, rumor has it that the home office in the midwest has been looking for a justification to shut this (admittedly somewhat expensive) location down and may have sought out-placing "consultants" who will give them just that, leading to either a relocation to India (clearly suicidal, I think) or back to the midwest (just mostly suicidal).
Anyway, yesterday they opened up the large unfinished area where they keep a ton of old crap (ancient 17" monitors, some well-past-their-prime office chairs, giant old computer racks, etc) and let the employees take what they wanted. Remember in Empire Strikes Back, and the Millenium Falcon is stuck on the back of the star destroyer, and they manage to escape because they know dumping garbage is standard imperial procedure before going into hyperspace? That's what it reminded me of. (Another possible spin is that they've meaning to get that space renovated and subletted for a long while, and it could theoretically be only that. Still, I have my doubts.)
Geek Quote of the Moment
"If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is."
--John von Neumann, via this page, which also has a quote I've enjoyed for a long time: "Anyone who considers arithmetical methods of producing random numbers is, of course, in a state of sin."
Link of the Moment
Slate.com had an informative Flash piece, The Enron Blame Game. Very well done, though I wish there was a way to see a bunch of blame arrows at once.(1 comment)
Went to Harvard Square last night to buy some Astro City compilations (great comic book about the mundane side of a world with superheroes) and after I stopped in at Tealuxe, a café offering nothing but, well, Tea. Huge rows of various teas are lined up in bins behind the counter. Last June, Habib taught me how to make
Morocan Mint TeaI think the mint in question is Spearmint. Anyway, Bin 197 at Tealuxe is Moroccan Mint, and I think it's a fair approximation. It might be the sugar that does the trick.
In a smallish glass, put the leaves from about four stems of mint and pat them down ("garden fresh mint" said the package- it should smell fresh and the leaves should be rough.) Pour boiling water over the leaves. Stir in two teaspoons of sugar. Keep stirring to ensure the leaves don't scold. Let simmer to taste. Drink and enjoy.
Tealuxe smells great, much better than any coffeehouse. I'm not sure why, but it reminded me of the smell of this one old romantic interest's dormroom. Might've been my imagination.
Links of the Moment
Scary funny made-up consumer goods: Unnovations
(via the Cruel Site of the Day)
Just finished the short story collection "The Ex-Files". The last story involved a farm couple, miracle transformations, three wishes at death, life hereafter. I knew without looking that this was written by a woman. Maybe it was because it was mostly the wife's point of view, but somehow it struck me as something that wasn't a man's view of the cosmic.
Dear Mr. Blue,
My girlfriend and I have been friends for five years and living together for over six months now and talking about marriage. I'm crazy about her -- she means the world to me -- and I have no serious misgivings. In fact, it's that lack of misgivings that worries me: How do I know if I'm thinking about all the implications?
Concerned About My Calm
What's to think about? You'll both get (1) older and probably (2) heavier and (3) duller and your love will be tried by (4) ugly little things you say and (5) sheer ennui and children who will cost you (6) sleep and keep you in a state of (7) paranoia and (8) self-doubt for years and (9) meanwhile there's the ebb and flow and gradual diminution of the sexual urge and (10) the fact that you look at your spouse sometimes and feel you married a complete stranger. But heck, a lot of that stuff happens to single people too. And if you marry a true friend, then it's vastly easier. And if you're crazy about her and she means the world to you, then how could you not?
Romance is an act of imagination, and the human imagination is infinitely capable of great leaps, including forgiveness and renewal.