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Thursday, April 6, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Another Thursday already! Does keeping a log, a journal, a diary, make the time go by faster, or does it just drive home how fast it was already going?

It turns out that I myself have some edible flowers in my family history. Dad writes:

My grandmother on my father's side (your great grandmother) taught my mother how to make Jam from "American Beauty" roses. It tasted pretty good but was expensive to produce. Dad had the brilliant idea to set up a business producing it. Mom made a big trial batch and they bought some fancy jars to bottle it in. Then dad tried to get people to invest in the business. As with most of his schemes, it never went anywhere.

That's a story I'd never heard before. Having an adventurous grandfather in the family tree is a nice contrast to my own pleasantly placid life.

From Indirection to Glish to Subvertise.org, an "archive of 100s of subverts, political art, cartoons and articles". Some good stuff, some a tad strident. See also, of course, Advertising Non-consumption.

What are people looking for? Well, some of the people who visited this page lately have been looking for:

David Chess

which makes sense (well, it makes sense that they'd get here; I'm not sure why they were looking for me!), for:

"David Kerivan" Chess

even though my middle name isn't "Kerivan"; these people are actually looking for a lovely Chess set designed by an architect named David Kerivan. (I remember once when searching the Web for references to myself back in the early days I found a page about a "King David Chess Tournament", which misparses very nicely.)

People also get here looking for "cynthia stewart" (which also makes sense), for the names of their own weblogs (generally via the weblog search engines on weblogs.com or LinkWatcher), for "Wiki", for "open directory" (have I ever said that?), for "RSS" (hey, if an RSS summary of this site would be useful to you, let me know!), for "Grand Poobah In The Sky" (Mmmm!), and for 'Television "popular" highschool girls' (quotes as shown).

And of course the usual collection of sex searches, including (of the ones that aren't too depressing to list) "free incent sex stories" (I pledge that I will never charge for an incent sex story on this site!), "Brazil triplets nude", "foop gay" (naturally), and (one of my favorites) "Kasha sex movie".

One can have infinite fun with these, of course.

What was the name of that sex movie about buckwheat groats?
Wait a minute, I'll look it up on Google!

I'm not sure how that "Brazil triplets nude" search ended up here, either. Have I ever said "Brazil triplets nude"? Of course, if I keep referring to "Brazil triplets nude", then the next person who searches on "Brazil triplets nude" is sure to get here again. So I suppose I should just shut up about "Brazil triplets nude", eh? (I know, I know, it's an old joke by now.)

From the mysterious "HTML o' the day" list: make your own marshmallows! Not a recipe I'd like to be the one cleaning up after.

And finally, another Bryce image. While I'm kinda proud of "Air Raid Warden", I'm somehow less proud of this one. It is, perhaps, an illustration of how easy Bryce makes it to produce something that's not quite good enough. The columns need more detail, the scene needs more of a hook, the viewpoint isn't quite right; but still, here it is! Something I couldn't have done (as easily?) with paper and paint. Maybe eventually I'll spend a few more hours making it perfect...

Does working on digital images (or paintings, or photographs, or a weblog) help with, or detract from, writing in general? Thinking in general? Spiritual progress in general?

Wednesday, April 5, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

A mixed bag today ("oh, no," you think, "it's those randomly boldfaced phrases again!").

Normally, I hate blind links, but I can't think of anything to say about this: The Metamorphoses of Epidemia. The Peterme guy has typed in this cool essay (translated from the French) about, um, things that spread. Sort of.

Pretty much a perfect log/journal page: April 3rd Naked Eye. Now that's content!

I got to Naked Eye from ftrain, which is as good as usual. This letter is marvelous, and not just for the Salon-bashing.

Working on Design-O-Matic (which I intent to make even better real soon now), I found various amusing and not-so-amusing bugs in Navigator's handling of cascading style sheets. Let's hope that the next Navigator does this better (and it no longer stops responding at the "contacting host" stage; that's also real annoying).

Still, I find IE to be even more annoying; possibly just because I'm used to Navigator, but I have no intention of switching! Isn't that interesting?   *8)

Seen on NTK (which is nearly incomprehensible, as usual), the Fortean Times Unconvention:

Nudity, witchcraft and gay Nazi cryptozoologists!

From the cited-everywhere website of ispfunds.com, an admirably frank Risks of Investing page:

Just so you know. Don't come crying to us if we lose all your money, and you wind up a Dumpster Dude or a Basket Lady rooting for aluminum cans in your old age. Please e-mail us if we haven't scared you enough, and we'll try something else.

From apathy, a truly scary picture. No, it's not changing!

I don't change channels, so they must change me  -- Billy Joel

"Offensive to Fundamentalists" Joke of the Day.

An interesting site: cures not wars. Against the War on Drugs, but (more subtly) for the idea that drug addiction (and perhaps drug use in general) is a disease that can be cured, and that in particular can be cured with a drug called Ibogaine. Evidence of some bias can be seen in the pointer on the homepage that says "New Scientist releases incontrivertible information on Marijuana's Dangers", and points to a special issue of New Scientist that presents all sorts of different findings and thoughts about the weed, and concludes that the jury is still out, but that it's probably not nearly as dangerous as people are generally told.

www. .com

On the speakers: the MP3.com Classical Vocals Channel. Gloria in Excelsis!

Tuesday, April 4, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Interesting piece in the April/May 2000 Civilization Magazine (which isn't on the Website yet as of this writing) on "garage biotech". Unlike nuclear power, say, biotech / genetic engineering benefits greatly from economies of scale, and looks to have pretty small cost-of-entry once it gets going. This means that both people who want to forbid/supress it, and people who want to make money by being the Only Ones Who Can Do It, are not in long-term good shape, because I'll be able to do it (cheaply and stealthily) in my garage. This leads to some Strange Bedfellowosities:

In these circumstances, the best hope for the biotech corporations may actually lie in the efforts of their activist-opponents to have huge upfront testing costs imposed on them... for such a regulatory burden would import into this sector precisely the kind of cost barrier to entry that is presently missing. This common cause between big capital and the activists is well known inside the industry, but not much talked about.

Just how low are the costs of entry? The Civ article cites edvotek, which sells lotsa cool stuff. A quick Web search also turns up kits from Bio-Rad and the DNA Learning Center; a tidbit from the latter:

Students ligate (join) DNA fragments containing two types of antibiotic-resistant genes and insert the recombined DNA into E. coli cells using rapid colony transformation. Cells containing recombined DNA molecules are detected by their dual antibiotic resistance.

Kewl! The Civ article also cites the oddly-named Missyplicity project, in which someone has given a Real University lots of money to try to clone a (particular!) dog.

I have the best readers! You even have things to say about edible flowers

The friend who taught me that roses were edible turned out to be a total creep, but roses really do taste pretty good. Kind of sour. The creepy friend told me they have lots of vitamin C. Violet-flavored candy, however, reminds me of nothing so much as cheap scented toilet paper.

Daffodils taste like really old tea leaves.

Playing with Bryce: the little daughter and I both did our first Bryce images without the annoying demo-version watermarks. This could be very addictive! Click on the thumbnail over there to see the full 60K version of mine; I call it "Air-Raid Warden". Yes, it's silly.

Metacreations, the makers of Bryce, are by the way going through a certain amount of churn, apparently in an attempt to become a Hot Internet Company and get filthy rich off of stock options. This has some users all upset. I'm not very upset, myself, but on the other hand I don't have much of my life invested in Bryce files. Yet!

Just as I'm not upset about Metacreations, I also can't get very upset about Amazon (unlike some people). I mean, they're just getting and enforcing some patents; this industry is about intellectual property. Sure it would have been nice and admirable if they'd been willing to bet the company on a sort of "open ideas" model of web commerce, but they're hardly morally obligated to. Do all the people who are boycotting Amazon in favor of B&N or Powell's have any evidence that those companies wouldn't have done exactly the same thing in Amazon's place? I speculate not. These are businesses after all; it hardly seems fair to require them to forge new moral ground. (See "supererogatory".)

Speaking vaguely of Bryce again, here's a free program to generate photo-quality rendered landscapes (apparently even better than Bryce at landscapes, but incapable of anything else), and our cute domain name of the day.

Everything else can wait until tomorrow, I think. Ah, except this:

Darth Pikachu!

(from Anton Sherwood); of course see also Darth-Darth Binks.

Monday, April 3, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Via Mouth Organ, The Smoking Gun's copy of the tips for sex workers brochure that apparently caused a huge froo-fraw when it was found that a group distributing it in Philadelphia was funded partly with public funds.

From TBTF: ever wonder what actually goes on at the big mysterious meetings of the big mysterious quasi-official agencies what in some big mysterious sense run the Net or something? Here's an online transcript of the recent ICANN public meetings in Cairo, Egypt, including RealVideo of the actual sessions! And it looks really boring!   *8)

Flowers in the Kitchen: and not just on the windowsill. The latest Eater's Digest from the Sodexho Marriott cafeteria here advises readers that "Flower flavors range from spicy to, well, flowery, and even their scents can contribute to a dish", but also notes that "free-range grazing from your garden, even if it's organic, is not a good idea" because some flowers are poisonous and/or just Not a Good Idea to Eat.

I have to admit that flowers are not among the Odd Stuff that I feel most tempted to eat. If I and everyone I know haven't been eating something for years with no obvious ill effects, I say, why start eating it now? Still, it is kinda fun to think about other people doing it, and this page, as well as a zillion others, are willing to give all sorts of advice about it. I love the Web.

M tells me that my copy of Bryce has come! Brace yourselves for various silly pictures, in future issues of "How's the weather on your side of the labyrinth?". (What?)

Sunday, April 2, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

"Then you care that I love you." I was only half joking.

"Every woman cares if she's loved, and the more men who love her, the better! But I don't choose to love you in return, if that's what you mean. It would be so easy today, going around the city with you like this. But then if you're killed this evening, I'll feel badly for a fortnight."

"So will I," I said.

Gene Wolfe,
The Shadow of the Torturer

At the little boy's swimming lesson yesterday (he doesn't like the lessons all that much, but he likes running around in the locker room and the showers for ages afterward), all the faucets were producing hot water, even the "C" ones. I found the building and grounds guy, who's always pottering around the school cleaning and adjusting things and looking dubious, and asked him about it.

"Ah," he said, "it does that often; just run all the showers for a long time, and it'll stop."

"Pretty strange," I said, hoping for an explanation of how all that hot water gets into the cold pipes.

"Yeah, it's pretty strange to me, too, and I work here!"

I was disappointed at his cluelessness; then I thought about network and sysadmins. All but the most gurusome will say the same thing: "Yeah, the network just gets slow sometimes; rebooting the file-server usually fixes it", "Yeah, some days the printer stops printing PostScript; purging the queue usually fixes it".

I'm sure there's some interesting theory waiting to be done here, about the tradeoffs between taking the time to figure out what's actually wrong with a system, and just doing whatever random thing seemed to fix it last time...

Mike Stannett sends some references relevant to my rant about hypercomputation and (non-)Turing machines back in January:

[MYH71] Myhill J. (1971) A recursive function, defined on a compact interval and having a continuous derivative that is not recursive. Michigan Math. J. 18, 97-8.

[POR81] Pour-El, M.B., and I. Richards (1981) The wave equation with computable initial data such that its unique solution is not computable. Advances in mathematics 39, 215-39.

[POU71] Pour-El, M.B. (1971) Abstract computability versus analog-computability (a survey). Cambridge Summer School in Mathematical Logic, Springer Lecture Notes in Mathematics 337, 345-60.

[POU74] Pour-El, M.B. (1974) Abstract computability and its relation to the general purpose analog computer (some connections between logic, differential equations and analog computers). Trans. AMS 199, 1-28.

[STA90] Stannett, Mike (1990) X-Machines and the Halting Problem: Building a super-Turing Machine. Formal Aspects of Computing 2, 331-41.

[STA91] Stannett, Mike (1991) An introduction to Post-Newtonian and non-Turing computation. Technical Report CS-91-02, Dept of Computer Science, Sheffield University, UK.

He also says various interesting things that I haven't yet had a chance to absorb and reply to; you can probably expect more on this topic before too long.

One more favorite fear:

Going to school without my pants on. No, really. I don't even know what happened to them. It's just that, all of a sudden, getting off the bus, they weren't there. At first, I thought I might be able to get away unnoticed by acting nonchalant. Maybe people would be busy, or involved in existential debate. Maybe no one noticed me anyway, so this unfortunate lack of pants might not be a problem. It was all going pretty well, in fact. I had gotten all the way through third period, including a surprise English quiz, and was on my way to lunch when Trevor Muckheim came up behind me, intent on giving me a wedgie, only to fall - smack - on the concrete when his hands found nothing to grab onto. In retrospect, I really believe I could have gotten away with it, all day long, had it not been for Trevor's clumsiness. But there he was, as I turned around, sprawled out, face down next to the vending machines that sold M&Ms and Snickers bars, and there was Marybelle Kleinbotham, her hands over her mouth, bouncing up and down just slightly as if she might faint or explode. I held my breath for the few seconds that it took to all fall apart, as Marybelle let out a single, continuous, high-pitched note that would have been a scream had she been even just a little bit this side of utter panic. And, in those slow seconds, one, then three, then a dozen, then hundreds of kids turned towards Marybelle, then towards Trevor's motionless form. Then Brian McLiffy, that little runt, noticed me. The years that followed were difficult, of course, not just for me, but for my family as well. It was not enough that I was expelled from school, not enough that I could not even protest my innocence due to fears by the local police department of the angry crowds that formed, daily, on the steps of the school. No, someone, or maybe a group of them, wanted more, and every morning, until we finally moved to Alabama, we found three to seven pairs of pants in the oak trees in our front yard. Sometimes they were old blue jeans, and we could leave them up there for a few hours after the paper was delivered. More often, though, they were brightly colored - yellows and oranges - or, more scandalously, latex or patent leather, and I had to scramble up to the highest branches at dawn to fish them down. To this day, I cannot come within sight of a high school without becoming ill, and I sleep, every night, fully clothed.

I was thinking of inserting some paragraph breaks, but somehow the breathlessness seems fitting.

Saturday, April 1, 2000  permanent URL for this entry


Friday, March 31, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

From Brendan's American Pie Archive via Bifurcated Rivets, a wonderfully funny and well-done RealAudio parody of American pie (the song, not the movie).

Not content to fiddle away lots of time with the design-o-matic, I'm also thinking about doing an RSS headline file for the Log. If anyone would actually use such a thing, let me know in the Convenient Input Box, or even send me mail.

From Phil Agre, more pointers ("privacy wars", "intellectual property wars", "technology and markets", "everything else").

Wanna buy some slightly used satellites? SaveIridium.com: "Like AT&T only open source..."

If you somehow haven't seen this yet, it's very funny: Interview with the search engine.

A slashdot for Pervasive Computing: ebiquity.org.

So how big are the worlds? A number of very good reader answers on this one. First:

I don't know how to measure the former.

Very frank and straightforward. Do we in fact know how to measure the latter?

My inner world is vastly larger than the world outside; it's a cold place out there. I like it in here.

which matches my own view pretty closely, at least some days.

My inner world is about the same size as the world outside; they are in fact the exact same thing.

Not an uncommon sentiment as we'll see.

My inner world is about the same size as the world outside; the outside world is undoubtedly much larger than I think it is, and so I'd guess it's actually about the same size as my inner world. And the two are either exactly alike or completely different, but I don't know which.

leaving the question somewhat open; similarly:

My inner world is about the same size as the world outside; it looks almost the same but not quite...

and finally:

My inner world is about the same size as the world outside; breadboxes.

which sums things up admirably. What do I think? Something like

My inner world is vastly larger than the world outside; since it pretty much contains the world outside, as well as what seem like endless stacks of more or less dark and interesting-smelling corridors that I'd love to spend a few decades just wandering through.

but that's because I have an enormous ego.

Nomic! I'm not applying a proposal which would involve sending certain entities to hell, because I think some entities might not like that much. I am applying:

proposal = Rules shall be listed, and applied, in ascending numerical order.
name = Gerph
integer = 24681

which seems very rational; Gerph moves ahead of Hillary Clinton! I'm also applying:

proposal = Amend Rule 15 such that the rounding always goes down. ie: "All scores shall be rounded down to the nearest integer."
name = D Fitch
integer = 30

which (in order, per Rule 24681) gives "D Fitch" five points (Rule 4), havles the score of "Bovine" (the second Rule 5), gives "Hillary Clinton" ten points (Rule 6), elevating her to "Grand Poo-Poo" (rule 10), and then finally alters rule 15, which causes some scores to round down. Whew! Then, forging foolishly ahead, I'm applying:

proposal = Entities providing proposed moves only when the Scribe reminds them that the Nomic will be updated 'tomorrow' are to be deemed forgetful.
name = Gerph
integer = 789575

which creates a (perhaps unenforceable) Rule 789575, and gives "Gerph" five points, elevating him to "Grand Pee-Pee", per Rule 10 (I'm so embarassed!).

Finally, I'm applying:

proposal = Any entity making deals with the devil to further their position in the Nomic shall have their soul claimed by me.
name = The Devil
integer = 123505

which is interestingly complex (as well as unenforcable), since it's not at all clear what "me" means when it occurs in the Rules. The sender may have intended to be claiming he or she was the Devil (as in Rule 666), but it's been clear from the start that the Name in a Valid Move is not necessarily the name of the entity submitting it, so I think that interpretation is not available to us. Presumably the souls of these unfortunates shall be claimed by the Rules themselves, or perhaps the Web page they appear on? Deep metaphysical implications there!

Status is here as usual; and remember to brush and floss morning and night! (Rule 333)


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