log (2000/05/05 to 2000/05/11)

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What kind of nose?
Thursday, May 11, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

I read The Old Man and the Sea. It's a fine book; you should read it if you haven't lately. It'd been entirely too long since I read any Hemingway.

Then I read The Borrowers Afloat; we (I) bought a copy at the Cub Scout rummage sale, and the little daughter wasn't immediately interested (looked too young to her?), and having vague but fond memories of some Borrowers book, I went in. It was fun; a good book. All grownups should read (good) children's books now and then.

Then I sat around with my eyes glazed over for some time, reading a couple of fifteen-year-old Bloom County books. That was kinda fun, if not perhaps the best possible use of the time.

From cryptome: Ireland joins Echelon.

In June, Ireland will become part of a secret alliance, joining Canada, Australia and New Zealand to help America's NSA (National Security Agency) and Britain's GCHQ (Government Communications HQ) communications spy systems to snatch computer secrets from all over the world.

Another family of potentially-nasty Web attacks

Given the way the web and authentication-based sites work, a suitably unpleasant attacker could, through the use of HTTP redirects and (perhaps) malevolent Javascript code, cause actions to be taken on your behalf simply by getting you to look at the wrong web page. The implications of this problem are stunning. Expect to hear more about it in the near future.

From Jorn: Why I'm no longer an OO fanatic

However, I began to sense that some of the problems encountered are inherent in the object oriented paradigm, and are not merely a result of applying it improperly. I soon began to meet other programmers who felt the same way - who had gone heavily into object orientation, and then felt something lacking.

The Ask Jeeves search voyeur

Where can I find the fun Web site Incinerate the Olsen twins?

Technology is wonderful! I'm sitting here in the big conference room, listening to a talk with one of my ears, and doing this with the other. The laptop is getting power and LAN from plugs right next to me in the seat. And wireless LAN is arriving in the building, too, so next time I may need one less wire. I have no deep thoughts about this today; I'm in too gee-whiz a mood!   *8)

Wednesday, May 10, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

I have the best readers! I asked about the Borges map story yesterday, and y'all have answered with one link to another page citing Baudrillard citing the story, and (from jessamyn) a page actually quoting the text and citing On Exactitude in Science. A web search for that quickly turns up more online copies of the brief piece, and this item about it from a rare-book discussion group in 1995. What more could one ask for? The item is apparently in the Collected Fictions, which I should have at home in the library.

In the western Deserts, tattered Fragments of the Map are still to be found, Sheltering an occasional Beast or beggar; in the whole Nation, no other relic is left of the Discipline of Geography.

Encountered while browsing around for the above: interesting (longish) piece by John Barth, about Borges and Calvino.

I like the idea of memes, of ideas as replicators competing for logical space in our minds, evolving over time via imperfect replication and natural selection. But the idea can be taken too far. From Alamut, I got to Susan Blackmore who says (in this paper among others) that we really have no "selves" at all; we're just collections of memes! But this seems silly; like saying "we have no bodies at all, we're just collections of genes!"

We do have bodies that aren't just made up of genes, and we do I think have selves that aren't just made up of memes. Our bodies are strongly influenced by our genes, and in some sense spring from them, and I will grant that our selves are strongly influenced by the memes that we've internalized, and in some sense spring from them. But this doesn't sound nearly as controversial anymore, does it? "Our selves are strongly influenced by our beliefs." Much more plausible.

From LarkFarm, a fun little toy/artwork: Word Perhect.

Also from LarkFarm, more domain-name copyright furor: http://verizon should spend more time fixing its network and less money on lawyers.com/ (some browsers don't like URLs that long, in which case try this one).

And finally from Anton Sherwood, a fun Urban Legend that I hadn't heard before: German was almost the official language of the United States. Tell all your friends!   *8)

Tuesday, May 9, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

I tell ya', being photographed is like going to the dentist, except without the interesting pain and drugs. "OK, hold still" [five or ten minutes of apparently pointless fiddling with devices] "Move your chin down a bit" [more fiddling] "Look toward me"

I probably won't even be able to read the article that the picture's for, since the magazine isn't in any of the one languages that I'm fluent in.

Shucks! Sunday was National Masturbation day, and I missed it. Ah well, there's still the rest of the month.

Steve asked me about a story in which cartographers produce a full-scale map of a country (which is, of course, as large as and covers the country it represents). I'm pretty sure it's Borges, and Baudrillard is quoted all over the Web saying the idea is from a Borges story called "Map and Territory", but I've been unable to find a Borges story by that name either on the Web or in my various volumes of Borges at home. I seem to recall having seen the notion in Borges (it's very Borgesian); is the story usually translated with some other title? Do you know?

Speaking of which, this page (worth a look in itself, although I'm still not sure what's going on there) has this very apposite and memorable passage from Lewis Carroll:

"And then came the grandest idea of all! We actually made a map of the country, on the scale of a mile to the mile!"

"Have you used it much?" I inquired.

"It has never been spread out, yet," said Mien Herr: "the farmers objected: they said it would cover the whole country, and shut out the sunlight! So we use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well."

I noticed the other day that Ftrain passed just to the West of here on the way somewhere North. Hello, Ftrain!

Fame: I got a call the other day from John McConnell, the inventor of Earth Day. We chatted briefly about the Internet and the need for people to organize and do Good Things (he did most of the talking). I said I'd mention his Earthsite site in my Weblog. I didn't ask him how on Earth he'd heard of me!   *8)

Monday, May 8, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

All reader mail today.

Some people say it is time for fruitcake, cider, and other DIY tranquilizers.

I say that myself, now and then. I could use some fruitcake, in fact.

Okay, so Barthelme; I've read his short stuff. Can you recommend a novel? Did he even write novels? I know nothing.

I only know his short stories (although I just added his Snow White to my Amazon wishlist). I recommend all his short stories (perhaps not all at once). "Forty Stories", "Sixty Stories", "Overnight to Many Distant Cities" (out of print). Italo Calvino is good, too. He did write some novels, but I haven't read them.

How come all these "ILoveYou" messages are all different sizes?

Well, that's a good question. They should all be about the same size; that is, all the VBS files containing a given variant of the worm should be the same size. It doesn't change itself as it spreads.

Heh heh heh. That virus could have been soooo much worse, looking at the source... we have been spared.

It could certainly have been worse, but even silly as it was, it was pretty bad. This verges on shop-talk, though!   *8)

at least they spelled your name right

They usually do; I'm blessed with a simple name. In papermail, though, I get considerable for "Cheff", and the occasional "Chest". And, of course, various past residents of the house, their children, their relatives...

It's a really nice flashlight. But what I especially like about the picture, or what attracts me, or what makes me nervous, is the pull to the lower right corner. My eyes just drift that way. More than drift, like something's tugging them. And now I'm wondering if the real flash light isn't over there, down there, and the thing in the middle is just a decoy, something to attract our attention while the real flashlight does its work, whatever that is.

That refers to this flashlight. My eye does the same thing. (Time to restart the Visual Design thread from the other month.)

Ideas for those cute little mottoes on your home page: "what makes you think?" "what would it be like to be you?" "change your socks" "you are your cell phone" "you are what you geek" "but how do you know?" "call to your own arms"

Thanks very! I've adopted one or two. Keep those cards and letters coming, and don't forget to send in your nose-kind; we'll summarize replies at the end of the week.

(Yeah, so I'm kinda sweaty and tired and lazy today; these things happen!)

Sunday, May 7, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

The little daughter, to her Dad: "You're a responsible adult?" [laughter]

Some weblogs, some journals, are like masks: the writer stands behind the mask and puts on a show for the entertainment or amusement, or even education, of the universe. Some are more like windows, where you can look in and watch the writer laughing, crying, having lunch, taking a shower. (The distinction is entirely subjective, of course.) It's easier to write to the writers of the latter kind; with the former kind there's always the worry that your letter will accidentally slip down behind the mask, to the embarassment of all concerned. Like an overardent movie-fan confusing the actor with the role.

This morning, listening to the little daughter sleeping, and once in awhile saying "Good Morning" to her so she'll eventually wake up and we can go get bagels and lox (lachs), I think this log is like the path that leads from the little villa on the hill (back among the trees) down across the lawn and the scrub and over the dune and down to the beach, where the sea lies quietly rippled by a shallow breeze, and where someone has left a blanket (weighted down by two pairs of shoes) and a newspaper (rippling in the wind and in danger of tumbling off down the sand if left to itself) and gone off who knows where (the sand being too firm there to take a track), and the gulls have begun to come down and sniff (do birds sniff?) to see if there's anything in it for them.

I'll locate the log at a spot closer to the villa than the beach, since I'm making them both up as I go along anyway. A spot, maybe, where there's an iron bench, where someone once sat writing chapter of their book, where a surveyor once rested with his sextant mapping the coast, where now I'm sitting (although I'm really sitting on the couch in the back bedroom) and writing this, with the breeze smelling now a bit of salt, now a bit of something frying in the kitchen up the hill.

Lovely day.

Friday, May 5, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

I gave my love a cherry without a stone,
I gave my love a chicken without a bone,
I gave my love a baby with no cryin',
I told my love a story that had no end.

So let's see. I talked to eighteen reporters yesterday; if the average call was fifteen or twenty minutes, that means I was on the phone with the press for five or six hours! No wonder I was hoarse.

Somehow amid all the phone calls I managed to pen these words of wisdom on the virus. Not my most melifluous prose, but I think at least accurate.

At the gym on Friday I was talking to this friendly guy that I sometimes talk to, about what we read and when and stuff, and since I'd been reading Catherine on the aerobic bike again I mentioned how much I liked some of the personal Web sites, and when he didn't seem to know what that meant I suggested he try LinkWatcher.

I saw him at the Gym again today, and he was very appreciative. "I went to that site you sugested," he said, "and it was wonderful. It just blew me away!". So we have another convert.   *8)

A reader writes:

Do you dream ? Do you remember your dreams ? Or are they just like faded memories that have no place in your 'life' ?

I'd have to say "yes" to pretty much all of the above. I dream very frequently, I sometimes remember them, and they have that odd "wanting to be forgotten" quality that fades (most of) them out of my mind and my memory very quickly. Night before last (just as the LoveLetter thing was beginning its sweep of the world, roughly) I dreamed that I had accidentally run some new virus on my working computer, and was desparately trying to figure out what it might have done, and how to clean it up. Fortunately, the actual worm was comparatively simple.

How can there be a cherry without a stone?
How can there be a chicken without a bone?
How can there be a baby with no cryin'?
How can there be a story that has no end?

Nomic: I'm not applying a suggestion to clarify Rule 123505, 'cause I sort of like it better the way it is for now, and I'm not applying a rule that does (or doesn't) attempt to control how the Scribe dresses, because well hey.

I am applying:

proposal = Entities giving changes to the official tableau will score 5 points, in addition to any points scored by other rules. (currently this makes applying a mapping change rule score 10 points)
name = Gerph
integer = 775

assuming that the parenthetical note isn't part of the new Rule. This gives Gerph 27 points, which is interesting in view of Rule 12! I'm also applying:

proposal = Rule 91: Names shall be ascribed colours. The name of the colour must have the same number of letters as the name of the Name.
name = wetlog
integer = 23

although I'm not sure that it has any practical effect at the moment, since it doesn't say who (if anyone) is obliged to do this ascription. Also, the rule that it creates is, despite the number in the Proposal, Rule 23 (per Rule 14, which of course one is free to aim Moves at). Note also that it's a good thing "wetlog" has a 'g' in it (Rule 86). I'm also applying:

proposal = Rule 24680 : Rules shall be listed, and applied, in descending numerical order.
name = wetlog
integer = 35

In my judgement, this creates a new Rule 35, which contradicts Rule 24681, and by Rule 12345 they mutually annihilate. So now the ording of Rules is once again unspecified. Also, by the second Rule 5, Bovine's score is halved (to 17.5) and then by Rule 15 rounded down (to 17). More of those dangerous 7's! And the Grandness changes; we'll sort that out at the end. Next I'm applying:

proposal = The official mapping shall be changed by mapping elements (2,3) and (3,2) to the value 1.
name = Pine Cone
integer = 15

as a Rule 16 Mapping Change Suggestion, despite dimensionality uncertainties. The choice of integer here halves the scores of Hillary Clinton and The Devil, and a Rule 6 event gives 10 points to "wetlog". Gerph is now Champion, briefly. Next I'm applying:

proposal = Mapping Change Suggestion: 3 (in the Official Domain) shall be mapped to 1 (in the Official Range) Also, 7 shall still be mapped to 0, dammit!
name = The Grand Pa-Pa
integer = 59

as a Mapping Change Suggestion; for tableau purposes, I'll use the top row for the one-dimensional case, until this little ambiguity is cleared up. I'm also accepting:

proposal = The first member of the first row of the Official Tableau, having the coordinates of (0,0), shall at all times contain the value of one. g.
name = bovine
integer = 317

which seems to be a new rule (317) rather than an MPS, although it does cause a change to the Mapping. I'm also applying:

proposal = If an official move is applied in which is stated that the name of the current Nomic be changed, the scribe shall make haste in changing the name of the Nomic to that specified in the aforementioned official move.
name = bovine
integer = 473

which I will probably interpret as meaning that I have to change things like the relevant titles of HTML pages and stuff, and finally:

proposal = Those tasks delegated by the official scribe to whosoever shall be appointed to see to the execution of said tasks shall be properly documented and organized under an official code specified, or not, by the scribe, or by an assigned committee of associates as appointed either by the scribe himself or by the subjects of the current Nomic.
name = bovine
integer = 771

even though, or perhaps because, I can't quite tell what it means. We now seem to have two Rule 771's. So Bovine is again Champion and Grand Poobah; other status is as usual here. Rule 12 looms large! I feel a disturbance in the Force.

In any case, rember to brush and floss every morning and night, and watch out for them VBS attachments, whether or not they claim to be love letters...

A cherry when it's bloomin', it has no stone,
A chicken when it's pippin', it has no bone.
A baby when e's sleepin', has no cryin',
And when I say 'I love you', that has no end.


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