log (2000/07/14 to 2000/07/20)

older log
newer log


site news

What do you know?
Thursday, July 20, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Another list of links from Phil Agre; juicy and worthwhile as usual.

I've finally added a search function to the site, here! It's done via atomz.com, which makes it trivially easy. The free service can't be set up to automatically reindex every day, so I will no doubt forget to go push the button sometimes. Try it out!

(Note that I've turned off Atomz's default "soundalike" search, which finds "tiny" when you search for "tuna", and stuff like that.)

Now I just have to decide exactly where to stick it in the site design.

When I linked in passing to that Weblogs are Bad rant yesterday, I didn't mean to signify agreement; I was just being cute. In fact that article has most of the features I decried all those months ago in my own rant against of couple of similar "everything I don't like sucks" pieces.

It's disturbing and/or thought-provoking how easily people slide from the benign and useful "I like Web sites that do X, Y and Z", into the silly and IMHO harmful "Any web site that doesn't do X, Y and Z is a waste of cyberspace, and just clutters up the search engines."

But enough WNG! Time for some Nomic moves. I'm not applying some moves that would create rules requiring that all moves contain a certain word or end in certain symbols; this early in the game I'd like to keep it reasonably easy to construct a valid move. I'm not applying this:

I suggest the following change(s) to the Rules: The Domain should be represented in the form D(x,y) where x and y correspond to the pair of integers described in Rule 1. A mapping from Domain to Range may be specified with D(x,y) = v, where v is the value in the Range to map that member of the Domain to.

because I don't want to require that Mapping Modification Suggestions be in that format; on the other hand, I think that format is implicitly allowed already by Rule 5, in that it clearly picks out a member of the Domain and a member of the Range. I'm also not applying a Rule Change Suggestion that would allow Mapping Modification Suggestions to change many elements of the mapping at once, via a set of formulaic symbols; I want to see what happens with the one-at-a-time rule for a bit first. I'm also not applying any of the suggestions that would have introduced points into the Game; we did that last time, and I'd like to explore pointlessness for a bit.

So am I being too autocratic here? What am I applying? I'm applying:

I suggest the following change(s) to the Rules: Change Rule 10 to read as follows: Rule 10 Whenever a new Rule is created, it shall be assigned the smallest positive integer that is not currently assigned to any Rule, unless it is created as the result of a Rule Change Suggestion that explicitly specifies a different number, in which case it shall be assigned the number specified in the Suggestion.

which saves the day by adding a key "positive" to Rule 10 (whew!). I'm next applying:

I suggest the following change(s) to the Rules: We must all inhale deeply through the nose and exhale through the mouth. We shall breath within certain rhythmic cycles and shall not be afraid to cover our bodies in rare and exotic spices.

and treating it as creating a single new rule whose utility in the game requires, I think, no comment from me. I'm applying these two, which also create new Rules:

I suggest the following change(s) to the Rules: The scribe must not wear a special ceremonial hat whilst whether or not to apply a valid move.

I suggest the following change(s) to the Rules: The name of this nomic shall be "The Curvature of the Earth is Overwhelmed by Local Noise Nomic"

and this, which sets up some interesting tension:

I suggest the following change(s) to the Rules: This change consists of two steps:
Step 1: The text of the existing Rule 5 shall be copied as a new rule.
Step 2: Rule 5 shall be replaced by the following text: "There is no Rule Five".

and finally I'm applying this:

I suggest the following modification to the Mapping:
D(7,7) = 1

C'mon, doesn't anyone else want to draw?   *8)   Current status is as usual here, archive here. It's fun to have a Game going again; keep those cards and letters coming! And don't forget to brush and floss every morning and night!

Wednesday, July 19, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Alamut is thinking about Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory. I used to think about stuff like that, an age and an age ago. It was fun!

I've been thinking about free will (again) lately, as a spinoff of an ongoing email discussion with some nutter. If I had the time today, I would write up a rough-draft page on Free Will for poc.

But with a big wing-ding at the Lab this morning, and the rest of the day hopefully taken up with it being M's birthday (Happy Birthday, M!), I probably won't have time to do anything organized at all. (This is why Weblogs are Bad.)

Disorganizedly, though, I'd like to draw a connection between the "how contingent are things?" question that I asked the other week and the "how strange do things get?" question that I asked more recently. The underlying question, I think, is "how much of the space of possible whatevers do we actually experience?". Or "actually imagine". Or something like that.

Does our experience of the universe, both actual and imagined, cover a big chunk of What Could Have Been, or is it only a tiny little corner of the possible space? I'm not sure that the question is even well-defined, but at least for me this busy morning it's sort of evocative...

Tuesday, July 18, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Lotsa cross-fertilization (i.e. theft) today!

On Medley, we are reminded that Whim & Vinegar is also Unitarian. And of course so is Tim Berners-Lee. If Libertarianism was the Official Doctrine of the Net-Savvy in the Late Twentieth, maybe Unitarianism will take over in the early Twenty-First. Wouldn't that be a hoot?   *8)

http://wwww.[word][word].com/: well, GlassDog, of course. And on GlassDog we find a pointer to DisturbingAuctions.com (on the other hand, it looks like ComfortingAuctions.com is available!). Similarly, on LarkFarm we find a pointer to DarkPassage.com (and a related site that doesn't fit the schema: the zine about going places you're not supposed to go).

The Struggle for (Stark Naked) Love Continues (very odd, very very odd, creative use of Flash, also from glassdog).

Okay, I'm going to wimp out again and put off the Nomic moves another day, but we do have a juicy bunch of Reader Letters for you! Some of these are in response to the "Arid staple" prompt, some to the "What do you know?" prompt, and some completely impromptu. So to speak.

Gosh. Just imagine the size of the potential readership for HeterosexualNews.com. That's a lot of eyeballs.


In the real world, the distance between "Familly Friend" and "Heart's Desire" is, I think, partially maintained by social decorum. Sims have no feelings of restraint in flirting with, hugging or kissing close family friends, despite the fact that this often leads to marital problems as love triangles develop. In the real world, these barriers tend often to be topped with razor wire. Though, given that the majority of marriages end in divorce, perhaps there's not so much difference after all.

Distal pear. Slap it, dear. Laid repast. Split a dare. Parted sail. Dale, rapist. Lad, a priest. Plaid stare. Slide apart. Lapis trade. Lard pastie. Astride lap. I trade Alps. Slit parade. Least a drip. Parties, lad. Spade trail. Paris dealt. Dilate spar. Last diaper. R.I.P; late; sad. Ladies' part. Tripe salad.

Um. Rye?

free association: Anne Rice overuses the word "preternatural" in her Vampire series of books. At least the ones I've read, which were the first four. But even if she hadn't used the word at all in the ones I haven't read (I think there's five or six in the series now), the word would still be overused in the series as a whole. It's really just a minor quibble; I still liked the books overall. Still, it grated on my nerves when she spoke of the vampires' "preternatural" abilities on what seemed like every other page.

The absolute maximum number of times a fiction author should use "preternatural" (and I'm talking about a whole career here, not a single novel) is one. And even that requires a special waiver. I tried to read an Anne Rice vampire book once. I thought it was awful. M's liked some of them, though; some I haven't tried to read. I tried to read one of her "erotic" novels once; I thought it was awful, too. Maybe I just tried the wrong ones.

A wonderful rant from a Sims web site in response to a question about why X isn't done in a truly realistic way in The Sims: "True Shmru. I can't put stuff on my dresser in the sims but I can in real life. I can't put stuff on top of the fridge in the sims, but I can in real life. I can't put an end table on both sides of my bed and still get in it in the sims, but I can in real life. I can't put 8 people around a card table in the sims, even though 8 chairs fit. My sims don't speak english. They aren't in real time. They put garbage on the floor, when from the looks of this place, it rightly belongs on the computer desk. I can't hang pictures or put counters next to diagonal walls. Why do the lights come on by themself when the sun goes down? How come strangers hang out on my lawn? Why can't I take a shower in the bath tub? Or drink a glass of water? How come couples fall right asleep when they get in bed? How come I can't sit on the bed, or eat on the couch?" Now what puzzles me is that none of this is unusual. The world really does work that way. What is this guy ranting about, anyhow?

good godalmighty, you can't even GIVE stuff away this far north

Ever wondered if we're becoming way too dependent on all this digital stuff? Well, wonder no further than the functionprocess KillTheCat()

So we were sitting in a talk today - big auditorium, huge white screen, earnest guy trying to talk about his work - and a sweaty faced technician desperately trying to make the computer projector work. The speaker started, stammering, gesturing at the large screen that showed intermittant flashes that might have been his talk. The technician scurried between the front of the room, where the speaker's PC was, and the back of the room, where the projector was. He jiggled the connectors. He frowned at the screen. Ultimately, he turned the projector power off, waited a few seconds, and turned it on again. The audience chuckled appreciatively as the speaker's talk finally appeared on the screen. The speaker (and the technician) looked relieved. But I, sitting in the back, wondered what all of this meant for the future of the world. "Please pardon our delay while we reboot the global economy."

I'll only go to the mud volcano if it's a hugger-mugger mud volcano.

What's all this carping about fish in trees? Dunt he know that the vanilla ice cream would all melt in that case? And then who would eat it? Huh? The fish?? I think not, my friend, I think not!

"And if fish lived in trees, what flavor would vanilla ice-cream be?" The correct answer is "aniseed". I have an ingenious proof of this proposition, but this text box is too small to contain it. --TFBW


<fawltytowers:manuel> I know nothing! </fawltytowers:manuel>

It's not just for Dilbert any more. Heard in a high-level executive meeting today: "The value we add is that we can add more value."

Sadly, the patient had actually requested to have her Gaul bladder removed and was mortified to find that she had just as much French lineage after the operation as before. Okay, so there are a few glitches to work out, but that won't stop them from giving the robot safer tasks, such as, say, drain removal.

Which just about sums it all up, doesn't it?

Monday, July 17, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Jellicle cats have cheerful faces,
Jellicle cats have bright black eyes;
They like to practice their airs and graces
And wait for the Jellicle Moon to rise.

We went into The City and saw Cats at the Wintergarden Theater on Broadway on Saturday. (I was considering making all of the nouns in that sentence into links, but heck you-all can use Google just as well as I can.) It was great! Very entertaining, beautifully done, all-around magical even though the cast must have a certain amount of "been there done that can't we get it over with already" feeling about them, somewhere deep down. Mustn't they?

The theater seemed amazingly small as we came in, but once the houselights went down and the stage lights came up and the Cats appeared, the old Magic of the Stage took over, and it was a big and brilliant place. When Grizabella started singing "Memory", I thought to myself "ah, they're incorporating popular music into the show!", followed embarassingly long after by the cognitive doubletake "wait, no, that song is popular because of this show, which has been singing it for the last eighteen freaking years." Oh, yeah.

They were selling Old Possum's Book of Pratical Cats at the souvenir store next to the theater, but we didn't buy a copy because "oh, we have that at home." We couldn't actually find it at home, though, so on the way to the grocery on Sunday I picked up a copy at Barnes and Noble (see, brick-and-mortar isn't dead yet!). It is, just as I remembered, a very light and silly book of verses (which, if I hadn't known, I would have more readily ascribed to like Ogden Nash than to that Waste Land guy), with essentially no connection between them except that they're all about cats. Whoever thought of weaving them together into something like a plot, setting them to music, and designing a world full of athletically-dancing cats around them, must have been in an Interestingly Altered State at the time. Them creative hormones, presumably.

Anybody want to give me the venture capital to do a musical based on "Miss Sally had a Steamboat"?   *8)  

When you notice a cat in profound mediation,
  The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in rapt contemplation
  Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name

Ian's weblog is finally live, with all sortsa nice features and Perl hacks. Stop by and say hello!

One of my great great grandfathers (Mom's dad's dad's dad) was Henry M. Leland, an interesting fellow who among other things co-invented the electric starter and founded the Cadillac and Lincoln motor car companies. (He was better at the technical stuff than the business stuff, and them sharpies the Fords ended up with all the dough, so I am not myself the heir to a Vast Leland Fortune.) My step-gramma Ottilie wrote a book about Henry M., called "Master of Precision"; I'm impressed to see that it's still in print.

Great great gramps: Henry M. Leland

Here's a brief Detroit news writeup of Henry M. Leland, including a bunch of old pictures. The guy in the back seat in this one is my own late beloved Grampa Bill, looking not really all that different from when we'd go down and visit them in Reston, Virginia when I was tiny. Ah, but being tiny was fun!

Dad recently sent me this link, to a page describing a toy monorail made by one of the Leland companies a long time ago. That's a connection I didn't know about! That's what set off all this Leland-surfing.

Cited on Geegaw, The Metascene Special Cinnamon Roll-Mind Control Fall Spectacular! This explains so much...

Redux: Parents Strongly Cautioned is back, a few weeks early (usual Adult Content Warning). And ftrain has a bunch of interesting links vaguely in the style of RobotWisdom, giving me some hope that Paul will start giving us the labor of his soul for free again sometime soon.

A woman had her gall bladder removed by a robot Wednesday, one day after the da Vinci Surgical System was approved by federal regulators. This strikes me as Very Cool (although it wasn't really "by a robot" except in the sense that it's usually "by a scalpel"). Cutting big gaping holes in people just so you can make small adjustments to stuff deeper in is so Twentieth Century, after all.

Still to come: reader mailbag, including bunches of Nomic moves. Speaking of Nomic, lots of Nomic information can be found at nomic.net, which I found via His toy, his dream, his rest, which I found via the ever-faithful Geegaw again.

So this is this, and that is that:
And there's how you AD-DRESS A CAT!

Friday, July 14, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Game two of The Curvature of the Earth is Overwhelmed by Local Noise Nomic is now officially open. Go over to the page, read the rules, and send in your moves!

The Award for Most Important-Sounding Organization goes to: the International Earth Rotation Service. And you thought love made the world go around...

"These lab results are very odd. You say you've had no symptoms?"

"None at all, doctor!"

"Maybe it will help if we just go through your daily routine. Describe for me a typical morning; don't leave anything out, however trivial."

"I'm just like anyone else! I wake up, get out of bed, put on my slippers, go into the bathroom, use the toilet, throw up, brush my teeth --"

"Wait! You throw up every morning?"

"Sure, doc! Doesn't everybody?"

At the Club this morning, one of the tubes was showing a long ad for, or perhaps an actual episode of, MTV's "The Real World", the progenitor of the current crop of "film a bunch of real people doing things" shows that are cluttering up the cultural landscape. It occurred to me that some of what these shows provide is a kind of validation; I see these people doing things, I know that millions of other people are seeing them, the network is showing them, so whatever they're doing must be more or less within the norms, and it's pretty similar to what I do, so I must be OK.

Of course, they also provide sexually provocative scenes in hot-tubs, and similar easier-to-explain attractions.   *8)   Although I'm willing to wonder if perhaps there's some aspect of validation even within the titillation...

Now when I say "I" above I don't actually mean me, of course! I don't watch those seamy (turns up nose) shows like "The Real World" or "Survivor" or whatever. Fleh! But I do read weblogs, for probably some of the same reasons, with a different slant that may stem partly from my own validational needs. I don't care if I brush my teeth funny, but if there are ways of thinking, belief systems, that lots of other people use and hold but I don't, I want to make sure I've at least thought about it and satisfied myself that I'm not missing anything.

So just how guilty is Netscape? Smart Download reports to Netscape what you've been downloading, and Navigator's Search function reports to Netscape what you've been seaching on. Nosy beggars, aren't they?

Speaking of nosy, 'Carnivore' eats your privacy, or at least lets the spooks comb through all your ISP's traffic if one of its other customers might be a drug dealer.

"It's the electronic equivalent of listening to everybody's phone calls to see if it's the phone call you should be monitoring. You develop a tremendous amount of information."

Unusually cogent and informed piece on copyright, the death of.

Another issue that tends to split the the rich Republicans from the loony ones (as usual, if the Times bugs you to log in, you can use "cypherpunks" as both username and password, and it should work).

Jobs in e-commerce! (from t byfield)

http://wwww.[word][word].com/: RubberBandit.com. "The World's Largest and First Piloted Rubber Band Powered Aircraft" (from Joseph S. Barrera III)


earlier entries