log (2000/09/22 to 2000/09/28)

older log
newer log


site news

What was that again?
Tuesday, September 26, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

(Thanks to the kind reader who pointed out an ugly typo in an early version of yesterday's log. Anything you want to get off your chest, just type it into the old input box...)

Stuff in the mail: yesterday I was greeted upon my arrival home from the Fields of Industry by two (count 'em, two) promising packages.

One contained the official davidchess.com mugs that I finally got around to ordering. (They're very nice; CafePress does a great job with this stuff.) I think it'd be fun to have a page of Weblogger Merchandise; does such a thing already exist? It wouldn't, of course, be intended to get anyone to actually buy the stuff, oh no; it would be all postmodern and ironic and like that, as required by the Codes.

The other, more interesting and travel-worn, package came all the way from Australia; it was the Bill Beatty book that I found on the Web the other day. It arrived in good shape and entirely as advertised. I hope to get a chance to actually read it Real Soon Now; it's currently sitting on the back room table with the davidchess.com mugs on top of it, and piles of mail and magazines and books and stuff looming over it threatening to topple.

The Beatty book came wrapped in a section of the Sydney Morning Herald; it was a nice bonus. I would have been willing to pay extra for that. "Merchandise will be shipped wrapped in pages from a random publication of our choice from outside North America, for only an additional $2.25!"

From Kottke, we have "weird but true", a collection of odd facts (or putative facts). The noteworthy thing is that the page (besides being in all-lowercase) includes for each odd item a link to someone else also claiming that its true. For instance this:

one day in 1970 when an air force pilot flying an f106a jet fighter over montana went into an "uncontrollable flat spin", the aircraft took over and 1. ejected the pilot, 2. recovered from the spin, and 3. landed safely all by itself. the craft is on permanent display at the united states air force museum in dayton ohio

includes a link to an Air Force Museum page that tells roughly the same story.

How Busy We Are! As I mentioned yesterday. All these holidays and equinoxes and anniversaries and things coming in the mail and stuff. Think about a place without all this messy intelligence, with just the rocks and the waves, the sand and the mud and the trees, and nothing aware or caring that a Certain Thing happened when this planet was in roughly the same point on its orbit ten orbits back, or that during this revolution of the planet the light part and the dark part are almost exactly the same length. Just the shadows doing things, the waves doing things, the worms doing things, and forgetting in an instant having done them. Relaxing, isn't it?

can't have too many pictures of Lauren Bacall, I say!

From the Bradlands, the world's favorite word:

at 2 a.m. Chicago time, the London Festival of Literature announced the results of its international poll to determine the public's favorite word.

From Alamut, Psychology of Intelligence Analysis, from "History Staff / Center for the Study of Intelligence / Central Intelligence Agency / 1999". A somewhat specialized notion of "intelligence", of course. Still, interesting stuff. The Theory of Spookery.

The articles are based on reviewing cognitive psychology literature concerning how people process information to make judgments on incomplete and ambiguous information. I selected the experiments and findings that seem most relevant to intelligence analysis and most in need of communication to intelligence analysts. I then translated the technical reports into language that intelligence analysts can understand and interpreted the relevance of these findings to the problems intelligence analysts face.

Your (or, at any rate, my) Tax Dollars at Work! (Alamut's pullquotes are much better than mine...)

Monday, September 25, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Weekday readers, be aware that entries for Sunday and Saturday follow, including a round of Nomic moves. As well as the national holiday alluded to on Friday, we've of course also had an Autumnal Equinox and the aforementioned Pagan Pride Day recently. How busy we are!

Yes, there's now a Palm virus, but no you'll almost certainly never get it. (If someone says "hey, all the programs on my Palm suddenly just turn the screen grey and exit; can I send one of them from my Palm to yours, and see if it does the same thing there?", you might want to decline.)

Steve found one of my favorite SF stories on the Web: Terry Bisson's "They're made out of meat". Memorable stuff:

"You know how when you slap or flap meat, it makes a noise? They talk by flapping their meat at each other. They can even sing by squirting air through their meat."

From GrokSoup: Take a look at Statistical Assessment Service research at work; all about how not to be fooled by statistics. I recommend Most Strangers are Not Evil and this about violence in kids' shows.

And speaking of lunch-money:


This Site shall not be liable to you wherever and to the extent to which the fulfillments of its obligations is prevented, frustrated, impeded and/or delayed as a direct or indirect consequence of any force majeure event. For the purposes of these Terms a "Force Majeure Event" shall mean any acts of God, hurricane, tornado and other extreme weather conditions, labour-strike, lockout or other industrial disturbance, wars, riot, sabotage, act of public enemy, terrorist act or gang violence, blockade, epidemic, earthquake or other earth movements, flood or other natural disaster, bomb blast or other explosion, fire, accident or repair or machinery or governmental action, power cuts, inability to obtain energy or suitable components, material or equipment or transportation, failure or non-operation of any telecommunications, telegraph and computer networks used by this Site (including without limitation the Internet and the World Wide Web) and the actions of or neglect of any third party used by this Site to discharge its obligations under these terms and conditions including (without limitation) any domestic and international telecommunications and telegraph networks used in connection with the provision of the service, the unauthorized access of the System by any third parties and any other cause or circumstance whatsoever and howsoever arising (whether or not of a class or kind before mentioned) beyond its reasonable control.

(original here; thanks to NTK).

A reader (frog) writes:

The Bicycle Pedaling Frog notes that, to the geometer-gymnast, the uneven bars are also parallel bars.

which is a jolly good point. And Mike points to another good APA page; somewhat more laid back than that National Amateur Press Association link the other day (and they're recruiting!).

Would it be terrible namedropping if I mentioned I had lunch with Ron Rivest today? A very smart guy! (Yeah, it probably would...)

We talked about, among other things, how regardless of how clever your underlying security algorithms are, if you get the user interface wrong you might as well not have bothered. I've talked about that here before; perhaps, despite being sort of Shop Talk, this will become another theme.

Sunday, September 24, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

THE INFECTION CONTINUES TO SPREAD: Now Dad's got a weblog! Where will it end?

Picture a future where anyone who is anyone has a weblog, and it's the default means of keeping up with people. A couple of short-story seeds: a story of frustrated romance, told via weblog entries in which the blogger posts snippets from email that the hopeful lover keeps sending (rather than sensibly just posting in eir own log for the object of affection to read); a tech culture story, in which the protag starts the day by reading the weblogs of cow orkers, boss, customers, competitors, and so on, and begins composing the day's entry in eir own.

Picked up three semipro 'zines at Barnes and Noble yesterday. I'm just finishing the Summer 2000 issue of Hobby Broadcasting, a zine about low-power one-to-many radio (as opposed to Amateur Radio, which is (usually?) one-to-one). Considerable coverage, of course, of the current FCC churn about whether and how to allow low-power community FM stations to exist. The National Association of Broadcasters is of course against it, in the fashion of all government-enforced monopolies, and NPR (at least its management) seems firmly on the wrong side of the issue as well. Which is too bad.

The people who do Hobby Broadcasting are also selling a CD (available on the Web site):

Pirate Radio in the 1980s: A collection of audio clips from 64 different short-wave pirate radio stations from North America, 1980-1989. Just over 60 minutes in length. Only $10 plus shipping.

Sounds like a deal! Just the thing for the drive to work, if only my car could play CD's. Maybe the little daughter'd let me borrow her CD Walkman.   *8)

I also picked up copies of "Weird Tales" (a DNA Publication), and "Adventures of Sword and Sorcery" (which doesn't seem to have a URL, just a P.O. box and a yahoo.com email address, silly people), but haven't done more than glance through and have my heart warmed by the raw and unpolished art. I'm in one of those "wish I'd been in an APA in my youth" days. I'm too lazy to do it now, of course!

Sitting on the little daughter's couch here, chanting "Good morning, good morning, good morning" once in awhile in hopes of waking her up so that we can go out and get bagels and lox and be back in time for the Sacred Cartoons on the teevee. Happy Sunday!

Saturday, September 23, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

What national holiday, you ask? Well, Bilbo's and Frodo's birthdays (I seem to recall). Also my birthday.   *8)   Now I'm even older than I was last year. M came down at noon and we went out to the local Indian place for the lunch buffet. Yum!

Brycian islands

Remember Bryce (from back in April)? After that brief flurry of activity, I haven't done much with it. I think I'm just not terribly visual. Or maybe just not very confident of my visual abilities? Anyway, all I've been doing with Bryce in the last few months is the occasional casual desktop background. On the other hand, casual desktop backgrounds can be fun! So I've put this one into the 3D Gallery on the PICTURES page. (The version in the main gallery is a small one; the big 1024 by 768 version is in a back room.)

While I was at it, I changed the design of all the 3D Gallery pages (putting the navigation links at the top instead of the bottom, adding a "previous" link), and then decided that I liked the original better and put them all back. I foolishly hadn't kept local backups of the pages, and rather than going up to the Web for the previous versions I just undid all the changes by hand. There's something very soothing about mindless mechanical work sometimes.

Nomic! Since I've been neglecting the Nomic moves for so long, I thought I'd do penance by applying all the submitted moves that it seemed at all feasible to apply. So here we go! I'm applying:

I suggest the following modification(s) to the Mapping: invert (0,0)

No problem. Then:

Whenever a new rule is created and that rule's number is a multiple of 5, the Official Mapping shall be transformed by applying one iteration of John Conway's game of life.

which creates a new Rule 18, which is our first Friday Rule, and therefore perfect. Then:

I suggest the following change(s) to the Rules: The scribe may, at his option, first negate any rule change suggestion before applying it.

which creates a new Rule 19, and by authorizing the negation required by Rule 16, makes it possible to apply these things which were submitted (according to my records) on a Monday:

I suggest the following change(s) to the Rules: That any Rule Change be considered invalid if it contains a grammatical error. And that if the Scribe adds grammatical errors to Rule Changes, he must wear a special ceremonial hat while covering his body in rare exotic spices, but not if he's flossing or it's a Friday. He shall also inhale through the mouth and exhale shallowly through the nose 3 times for every error thus introduced.

I suggest the following change(s) to the Rules: that the word "deciding" be inserted in Rule 12 between "whilst" and "whether", thus making it a correct English sentence. (I know I'm nitpicky)

After negation, we have a new Rule (20) reading:

Any Rule Change shall not be considered invalid if it contains a grammatical error. And if the Scribe adds grammatical errors to Rule Changes, he must not wear a special ceremonial hat while covering his body in rare exotic spices, but not if he's not flossing or it's not a Friday. He shall not also inhale through the mouth and exhale shallowly through the nose 3 times for every error not thus introduced.

And Rule 12 is not corrected by adding the word "deciding" to it. Oh, well!   *8)   The creation of Rule 20 causes the perfect Rule 18 to fire, and the smiley face is gone from the Tableau. Then:

I suggest the following change(s) to the Rules: Friday Rule: That odd numbers be considered Evil and even numbers be considered Pure and Good. That all new rules only get Good Even numbers, and that the existing rules get numbers that equal their current number * 2, thus also giving them Good, Even numbers. That on days of the month that have odd numbers and thus are Evil, every one shall repent and breathe in deeply an even number of times before submitting a rule to this nomic.

Wild! This is indeed a Friday Rule, and it's a good thing since otherwise it couldn't change the number of Rule 18 (now 36). So now all the Rules are renumbered (we'll be using the honor system on the bit about repenting and breathing).

Now we have a conflict! I'd like to apply a couple more moves that create new rules, but what would their numbers be? Rule 20 says the next Rule should be Rule 1, but Rule 42 (42!) says the number must be even. I think it is therefore temporarily impossible for me to apply any suggestions that create new Rules without explicitly giving (even!) numbers for them. Once that's fixed, I'll reconsider the two such suggestions that are still lying around unapplied.

Whew! That was fun. I hope I did it all right! Corrections, or Rules to the effect that whatever the Scribe does in good faith is automatically correct, are welcome.

I'm sitting here in the living room watching the little boy playing Super Mario on the Nintendo 64 thing. I used to really object to the idea of having a computer in the house that can only run software bought on proprietary ROM cartridges (what, no C compiler?). But I've become sort of fond of it. I'm working on "The Legend of Zelda: the Ocarina of Time" myself, which is pretty well-made, and has an amusing name to boot (I'm waiting for the sequel: "The Legend of Gus: the Kazoo of Justice").

I do like weekends!

Friday, September 22, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Rushing madly about today due to the national holiday.

Steve's got a weblog,
Steve's got a weblog,
nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah!

(See if you can find it.)

Fight Amnesia! Keep the Deja Archive Alive! Or something like that.

(PetitionOnline in general seems like a fun idea. Lower Planck's Constant! Down with the coefficient of friction! Abolish spelling!)

Now the good part! Reality is better than:

nothing.... Doesn't everyone say that?

ice cream

maple slippers



a capering goat from Detroit

anything else I've tried.

the enemy of the best

...my AUnty Grizellda


oblivion. Proof: reality enables me to make this claim, whereas oblivion would not. So why am I unconvinced? "Life *is* pain, mistress! Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something." [The Princess Bride]

crack cocaine

a sharp stick in the eye!


powerpoint (as well!)

anything I could ever type into this eeeeeeensy-weeeeensy iddlwe box.

A type of pseudo reality in which you find yourself consumed by insects whilst lying on sharp thorns dipped in salt and lemon juice whilst listening to "Feel My Heat" from Boogie Nights played on an endless loop -bovine

Have I mentioned I have the best readers?


earlier entries