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Thursday, April 27, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

They climb up into my turret
  O'er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
  They seem to be everywhere.
-- The Children's Hour

This has been a week for kids: the guy I'm mentoring in the local high school's Authentic Science Research program stopped by on Monday, I helped out at Dinosaur Day at the little boy's kindergarten yesterday morning, and today I'll be shepherding some 9-14 year olds around the lab for Take Our { Daughters | Children } to Work Day.

(The little daughter decided not to come; she would have had to miss a day of school, and going to presentations sounded boring. She'd rather come on a random day when school's out, and just hang around ad hoc.)

When I myself was a kid,one of my favorite books for dreaming over was "Cosmic View, the Universe in 40 Jumps". I don't really remember it as cool because of all the science and the perspective on the bigness of the universe it gave; I just remember the pictures, the way it smelled, the feel of the pages. Funny how memory does that! I wonder if that book is in my house now; I don't remember if I ever brought it home, or if it got given away, or went south with Dad.

Anyway, here is an onlinification of that very same book, with all the same pictures just as I remember them (I don't remember the dust jacket, though; I think the one for my copy had been lost years before). The little girl, the mosquito, the blue whale... All still there!

I found that by a quick title search after looking at a much more modern take on the same idea: Powers of Ten, which Medley linked, citing Illuminatrix.

I think when you make a film and it can get you off, that's real success.

-- from today's Parents Strongly Cautioned
(adult-content warning)

(I assume the "interview" that that's taken from is fictional; at least I can't find a "Sharon Mortlake" on the Web!)

Reading John Cage's Silence. So far my impression is that he's basically full of it; he's listened to enough Zen and Alan Watts to be dangerous, but he hasn't really got the humor part, the "Zen is your ordinary mind" part. When someone asks him "if it's all about just listening to the sounds that are already around you, why do I need John Cage," he just dodges the question. But maybe it will get better. Or maybe I should (somehow?) experience one of his works, rather than reading his book!

I cited a couple of links from RRE the other day, but I didn't cite the RRE pointers issue itself. Now I have.

Navel-gazing: a reader on a host somewhere in Russia recently filled out my survey form from back in March. Thanks! Small world. Also, Doug Sheppard (of Waiting for Bob) gave the log a very flattering link on CMP's Webtools site, on this page of a good piece on basic PHP scripting; thanks, Doug! Nice to be thought of as an exemplar for the category of weblogs.   *8)

Wednesday, April 26, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

At the Club, in addition to the soft-porn on the TV screens (musical soft-porn on VH1, muscular soft-porn on the Scantily-Clad People Sweating Channel), they now have a little local LAN of FitLinxx screens in case you want a computer to advise you about your workout, and half a dozen aerobic bicycles with NetPulse Web consoles.

My first thought was "urrgghh, the computers are taking over!". My second thought was annoyance that the big touchscreen consoles no longer have a place to hang a magazine rack, so I wasn't going to be able to read my Wired in the usual way. But my third thought was "hey, this is the Web! I like parts of the Web!".

So instead of reading Wired while cycling, I read Rob Rosenberger (amusing rants) and I read Flux Redux (humanity and wisdom). It was great! Maybe the traditional media really are doomed...

Bill Gates' homepage, on the other hand, is really boring. The last update on the "news" page is October 1999. I guess not much is happening in his life! (Wouldn't a real Weblog from Bill Gates, without censorship from the spindoctors, be fun?)

Silly Windows98 Tricks: I linked last week to a registry modification that would add to the Win98 folder options a checkbox to control how the start / programs menus behave. It turns out this technique generalized to any two-state registry key you might want to control; here is a .reg file that adds an "increase serenity" checkbox to the Win98 folder-options menu (image). I like to keep it checked!   *8)   The key that this control manipulates is a do-nothing one that I just made up; but you can make the obvious changes to create a control that alters whatever two-state key you want.

My punishment is apparently going to be mild! What a relief! For my sins, readers suggested:

Cut off the static. Trim the limbs. BEWARE, for the final slice may take off your head!

You should be made to kiss an unwashed giraffe on the lips thrice per day until you've forgotten why your being punished and have perhaps gained a small affection for the giraffe.

ahhh, don't be so hard on yrself, it was only an apostrophe, you were largely understood anyway

Steel cage match with Bob the Angry Flower.

By being forced to spend more time with your family and away from the Computer - go on... you know you enjoyed the weekend :-)

Well, maybe that's not entirely mild, all told...

Tuesday, April 25, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

One of the fun things about keeping a log entirely by hand is that once in awhile it'll say something like "Saturday, April 24, 2000" for a whole day before you notice it. I like that.

Because for every Lenin there's a Stalin,
For every letter to the editor, there's a knock at the door,
For every hint of rebellion, an enforced famine,
For every agricultural minister, dead agriculturalists who disagreed.

Because the people need to run from themselves....

Nike May Day Running Shoes

-- from ftrain

The guy's just f'ing brilliant. Knows who Tess Gallagher is, too, at the drop of a hat. (Just watch, it'll turn out that that's a real Nike ad; I don't get out much.)

Michael Norrish points out that the current CEOLN Nomic rules are somewhat ambiguous about the Official Mapping and the Official Tableau and stuff. The name "Tableau" and the "2-dimensional" in Rule 17 suggest that the mapping should really be from ordered pairs into [0,1]; but Rule 13 doesn't say anything like that. Anyone care to submit a move to clarify the situation?

What does that have to do with anything?

What does what have to do with anything?

Thinking about signs of a healthy society from the other day, there are a bunch I could have listed that I didn't, from personal taste. Someone other than me might consider them, though. Are there a clear order and well-defined roles among the people? Are the people appropriately quiet and humble before the universe? Are there symbols of God, or the Gods, in evidence, and do the people treat them with the proper respect? Are the people's minds on serious matters?

I've been exchanging long emails with the Famous Brett Watson on the subject of science and religion, the nature of truth, and the status of rationality. Interesting stuff; maybe I'll put up excerpts someday. When we've come to a consensus.   *8)

Checking the mail, we find from Anton Sherwood:

I dreamt once that someone asked me the origin of the word <ghetto>, and I answered that it's from <borghetto>, diminutive of <borgo>, a walled city. Woke up and checked the nearest dictionary: "Origin unknown."

For the Problems of Consciousness library, David Haan recommends:

Ito, Miyashita & Rolls (eds), "Cognition, Computation and Consciousness", Oxford, '97

A useful survey of cognitive approaches to the problems of consciousness, introduced by a summary of the philosophical background, and cognizant of contributory external issues such as language. Not so technical as to discourage the layperson, this collection of essays provides a unique peek of what's currently going on inside the heads of cognitive scientists.

It can be found at Amazon of course, and as David points out at Oxford University Press, and (remaindered, much more cheaply) at Edward R. Hamilton. Another one for the list!

Someone (else?) writes:

When we went on road trips when I was a kid, as we started to get farther from home, I would get annoyed at the way the roads in those places were built over all those hills! I found it so inefficient - you spent more time going up and down than straight ahead.

and two different readers suggest that I should have a search engine available on the site. I've often thought that myself; do I have the energy to actually do it (to do actually it)? Geegaw suggests Atomz. Someone (else?) suggests:

Look around here: http://kenperlin.com/

Another one of those silly "firstnamelastname.com" hostnames; sheesh! (But the last link gives some interesting insights into clever ways of doing image textures, some of which are used in Bryce.) On the issue of proper grammar when talking to oneself, we have:

I don't talk to myself, but the voices address me as "you" or sometimes "you idiot" or, more rarely, "Czar Nicholas."

We makes the most sense - as the most healthy amongst us have a multitude of personalities --bovine

When I talk to myself I tend to use the singular, but I tend to talk in the plural (send us a copy; we'll have to do something about that, etc) Generally...

The rest of y'all don't talk to yourself, eh? And even more miscellaneous:

"How do you find out about things": userland, or (I'm experimenting with) xmltree...

I think I'm tireder you think I am.

"Pineapple slices in its own juice." Do I parse it differently than you did. I imagine a caption under a picture of a pineapple engaged in painful self-mutilation. But maybe that's just me?

I thought about following your link to the Apathy site, but I didn't care that much.

It's not surprising the Republicans should get a .gov domain. After all, for all intents and purposes the Republican-Democrat oligarchy *is* the government. Look for Democrats to grab their .gov domain, and then for the two parties to forbid any third parties from having .gov domains.

why does brodcast hack into my line i'm not a politician or scientist or even a great speller

Even the bad spellers are being hacked, it seems. Perhaps tomorrow we'll discuss my punishment.

Monday, April 24, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Easter was very nice; big family dinner with ham and sweet potatoes and asparagus and those very nice crescent rolls that come as refrigerator dough (I've never been able to get the dough to do that flaky layery thing myself; probably need specialty flour and more work than I'm interested in putting in?). M got me a copy of Mario Carts to go with the Nintendo console, so I went to sleep last night with racetracks flowing behind my eyes again!

Various links from RRE:

The latter strikes somewhat close to home with me; I've been seeing some disturbing signs of "teaching to the test" in my own kids' school. High academic standards are great in principle, but in practice they can all too easily lead to "it doesn't matter what the kids actually need, we have to train them to get a good mark on this particular test or we'll lose our jobs!".

Should the Republican Party have a .gov address?

Bovine Inversus is back! In some sense or another.   *8)

Gnu's Not Unix, but is Linux GNU?

CEOLNN fans note: I've added a classier image version of the Official Tableau to the Nomic page.

This article on how big news organizations cover small ones mentions, among other things, something that's always bothered me: how network reporters (and NPR radio reporters are by no means immune) tend to stick glib and cynical little taglines on the ends of their stories, apparently intended to sound clever or knowing with little or no regard to whether or not they do justice to the subject. How do we fix that?

Where'd that camel come from? Animal Magnetism -- Making O'Reilly Animals (from psybernet).

Webzine that might be worth watching: cybering.

A funny rant from Rain Forest Puppy about the hype and confusion attendant on the recent announcements and/or denials of a bug (or security hole or backdoor or whatever it was) in Microsoft's FrontPage server.

What a lot of links! Tomorrow maybe I'll try to find five minutes in which to think...   *8)

Friday, April 21, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Wherever we are, what we hear is mostly noise. When we ignore it, it disturbs us. When we listen to it, we find it fascinating. The sound of a truck at fifty miles per hour. Static between the stations. Rain. We want to capture and control these sounds, to use them not as sound effects but as musical instruments.
--John Cage, Silence

I have this vague conceptual memory, from when I was little, of thinking it was really really strange that two places that were in different countries could be near each other. I thought of different countries as being far apart in all their parts; one country is a bunch of places that are over here, and another country is a bunch of places way over there. No way part of one country could be right next to part of another. When I finally figured out about borders, it was a minor freak-out.

Another one was when I realized that people drive slower in cities than on highways and in the country. Not having been in cities much, I'd somehow got the idea that in cities people drive real fast.

My Daddy he made whiskey,
Gran-daddy did, too.
We ain't paid no whiskey tax
Since seventeen ninety-two.

You just lay there by the juniper
When the moon is bright
Watch them jugs a fillin'
By the pale moonlight.


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