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Silent voices:
Thursday, October 26, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Today I don't really have the time or the inclination to do anything that involves any real work of any kind, so I think I will just ramble at random. The really wonderful thing (well, a really wonderful thing, and perhaps also a really terrible thing) about this medium (for whatever value you'd like to place on "this medium" in this context) is that you (I) can just do exactly that.

Why do you do what you do? I don't really know why I do what I do. Or rather that question can be taken, can be answered (can be asked) in a (bewilderingly large) number of ways, and for some of those ways (quite likely the most interesting ones (I do appreciate parentheses)) I don't know the answer. In the small the answer is (usually? sometimes? not really?) pretty easy, in that if you ask me why I do (why I did) any particular small thing (take off my shoes, bring up a command window, put the box into the back seat) I could probably tell you (I always go barefoot in the office, I wanted to write in my log, I wanted to make sure I wouldn't forget to take it home), or at least tell you something, and that something would be in some sense an explanation for the thing (you remember: the thing). But in the large, on the other hand! Well, we've already been into that, in some of its senses.

What do you do with disagreeable people? Not simply people who are in a bad mood today, or even in a bad mood much of the time, but people on the other hand who consider it a positive virtue to be disagreeable, who think that tact and politeness are shams that coddle the undeserving, that anyone who disagrees with them really must be stupid, and so on? Avoiding such people is probably good (although I'd rather convert them (but if they were all converted, would we have lost something valuable in the world? (we should have such problems!))). Sometimes you have to work with them, though. Fortunately it's sometimes at a long distance, heh heh heh.

So I still don't have a digital camera! I keep running into situations where it'd be cool to have one (and having one at VB2000 was fun); on the other hand I also keep running into reasons not to have one. Catherine continues to do wonderful things with hers. But would I be able to do wonderful things with mine? Would I have time to do wonderful things with mine?

I like Perl! Just now before I started typing randomly here I was coding up some stub Perl modules for a project that I really oughtn't to be working on (I ought to be doing my annual "what I did this year" writeup, and moving a lot of data from one place to another, and finishing up the slides for a talk I'm giving next month but have to send in a draft of by Monday, and reading lots of someone else's Perl code, and reading recent ToDo lists to see if I've forgotten anything else), and it was just neat. Object-oriented Perl is very cool; I understand it better than any other object-oriented language-thing I've learned (I can write Java, but I don't really enjoy it; I can write C++, but only under duress).

So that was my nerdy paragraph! Gosh, I feel like a neophyte typing up his first Web page.

Welcome to my Web page! I hope you like it! Come back soon!


Click here to make this your home page! But wait, this is my home page. Am I asking you to move in? Very Sims-like.

Well, there, I've talked for awhile! Hope it wasn't too dull. Now you can talk some. Or just put up your feet and look at the fire. I do like the Fall. Maybe there'll be time this weekend for the first pumpkin and pecan pies of Autumn. And lots of hot chocolate. (There's a Shonen Knife song called "Hot Chocolate".)

Maybe later: silent voices, Angel angles, Nomic...

Wednesday, October 25, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

A reader writes:

I must rise to the defense of "avocado" and "Pez Dispenser" as not only valid, but indeed superior entries in your recent contest for interesting word pairs. What you asked for was two words that satisfy the following: "they're both pretty common, they're the same part of speech, and yet they're pretty far distant in most metrics on conceptual space. Contest: give me other word-pairs with some of these nice properties, that silly phrases can be generated from." I submit that "avocado" and "Pez Dispenser" are an exemplary pair, almost as good as "hottentot" and "Winnebago". Hmph!

So there you are! Now there weren't many links yesterday, so today we'll do some links. Keep the angel angles coming in, though, and we'll do more of those later. Also silent voices.

Gillian Anderson on LAN switching:

I'll never forget the day that I was hired to play Agent Scully on the X-Files, the first thing I did was go out and buy a brand new Catalyst 2924 XL. What a wonderful, wonderful switch...

The generally unbiased (although generally in a liberal sort of way) TomPaine.com asks WHO'S LYING? Gore or the Media?. Hint: not Gore.

Also from a recent Pointers posting on Red Rock Eaters: How Much Information?:

the world's total yearly production of print, film, optical, and magnetic content would require roughly 1.5 billion gigabytes of storage. This is the equivalent of 250 megabytes per person for each man, woman, and child on earth.

Does that count backups?

I notice I used the pronoun "e" yesterday. That's an Agora Nomic convention that I sometimes slip into (not sure where Agora got it). "e" replaces "he or she", "eir" replaces "his or her", and "em" replaces "him or her". Short and sayable, gender-neutral, and doesn't annoy those people who are annoyed by the singular use of they / their / them. Of course it puzzles people, but puzzlement is good!   *8)

The Onion gets it dead on again:

"And William Shatner's lead performance in 1977's colossally bad Kingdom Of the Spiders isn't going to pay the bills or register Caitlin for immunization shots, is it?"

From somewhere or other, this project to provide FAX services to the world over the Net. Cool! Note the "int" top-level domain. I must have switched universes, as I don't remember that TLD existing before last week. See INT Top Level Domain Name Registration Services Policy Statement Version 0.9

Tank Girl!

Gorjuss notes this list of domain names owned by AOL, and wonders what they plan to use "aol-instantkiss.com" for. I kinda wonder about ErnieTheElf, too...

On the speakers (well, the car speakers actually): The Soundtrack from Tank Girl. Some of it's pretty bad, but at least it's all loud!

Tuesday, October 24, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Brief today, just a few Angel Angles:

avocado / Pez Dispenser

Hm, I'm not sure the respondant here entirely understands the nature of the game. Or perhaps e understands it all too well. Onward!

cat / hat

Nice and simple; let's see what we can do with it. "Hat o' Nine Tails", good. "My Cat it has Three Corners", OK. "The Mad Catter", "The Hat in the Cat". Very nice, very nice.

liver / river

Hm, not a whole lot springs to mind. "The Hudson Liver"? "liverrun past Eve and Adams"? Ah! "River Sausage". I like that!

I'll bring the wine out onto the deck, you tell the cook to send out a plate of River Sausage.

No time for more today. Send yours in now!

Monday, October 23, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

I'm so pleased! I spent parts of the weekend hacking Perl and reconstructing some of the computer-composed music that I saved a decade or so ago but haven't been able to listen to in years because it was all saved in strange formats, or in MIDI files designed for a synthesizer that I no longer have operational. Thanks to the little daughter for urging me to get the songs back, and to Sean M. Burke for writing MIDI-Perl and putting it onto CPAN, thus saving me the hours it would have taken to do it myself. Given MIDI-Perl, all I had to write was a conversion routine from the old "MUS" format to MIDI events, and a simple filter to tranforms MIDI files intended for my old IBM Music Feature into the General MIDI space. No problem!

So here is some music. I suggest turning on a bit of reverb if your music stack contains a real or virtual effects box. You may have to crank the volume up a bit to hear it properly, and of course depending on just how your computer's sound card and multimedia stack handle General MIDI you may hear something very different from what I hear. But what the heck! (Maybe someday I'll figure out how to do MP3s.)

In no particular order: "Trimblin' Trop", an upbeat tune with a silly title, composed by LEDA; "Bedside Harper", a music box roll composed by MELIPHON; "Yonder Comes the Man", a classical piano piece composed by CAPHONY; "Chloe" (aka "Piano 184"), another classical piano piece composed I think by a version of CAPHONY before I started recording the program name in the file; "On the Lakes of Bramura", also I think by that same version of CAPHONY; and finally "The Grorh Enters", a triumphal march composed by MECHANT.

Ah, these songs pluck at the old heartstrings! Like my old poems, these odd little pieces seem to have wormed their way into my self-definition (although I was pretty much already a grownup when they were composed). Funny how that happens.

Algorithmic composition is fun; I hope I get the time to work on it again. These pieces were all originally composed around 1988. Gad, that's twelve years ago! My only recent activity in the area is by comparison very primitive: it doesn't know about chord progressions, or cadances, or rounds, or sections, or anything like that. The old ones were getting quite sophisticated. But I doubt I can bring myself to just port the Pascal code...

The dent on my thumbnail is nearly gone; maybe just a millimeter away from being snipped off. So now we know the approximate growth rate of my thumbnail! Wow! Isn't science wonderful?

Salon has an article about the "Screenshots" art that I mentioned the other day, including some comments from the artist.

From Beth Roberts, "A little bit of what you fancy", a nice diatribe against the health-fascists:

I am still here, and I have a feeling that part of the reason could be that I have managed to maintain a deep disrespect for all the health police, the faddist gurus and diet fascists who plague our bookstalls, radio stations and newsagents.

See also Backlash against the Anxiety Makers.

A couple of new RFCs are out on the subject of cookies; RFC2965 is a new version of the Cookie spec itself, and RFC2964 is some guidelines for their use:

HTTP State Management MUST NOT be used to leak information about the user or the user's browsing habits to other parties besides the user or service, without the user's explicit consent. Such usage is prohibited even if the user's name or other externally-assigned identifier are not exposed to other parties, because the state management mechanism itself provides an identifier which can be used to compile information about the user.

Now if we can only get people to conform to the RFC...

Concept pairs: riffing off of "Angel of Repose" from the other day, it occurs to me that all sorts of little tags can be gotten from angle/angel. Obtuse Angel. Acute Angel (ouch!). Angel Brackets. Even "Triangel" (which seems to be a pretty common word in some Nordic language(s)). And then "Avenging Angle", "Guardian Angle", and so on.

"Angel"/"angle" pair well, I think, because they're both pretty common, they're the same part of speech, and yet they're pretty far distant in most metrics on conceptual space. Contest: give me other word-pairs with some of these nice properties, that silly phrases can be generated from. The prize is, as usual, flattering mention in this here log ("second prize is two weeks").

"" / ""

Friday, October 20, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Can't live without:

spicy food

davidchess.com! OK, I'm exaggerating -- I could live without it. But my day would be less pleasant.

Ah, we live for stuff like that!

The Pink Panther (in brown)


audrey hepburn! Wahoo!!!! OK, now we need one of the Pink Panther, so we can put them side-by-side

(This is clearly a constant reader speaking.)


(Although that one may have been typed into a "What are you doing?" box.)

iced tea


secrets... and the sweetness of giving them up.

kraft(r) macaroni and cheese dinner


A nice collection. Another reader writes (in the same box but I think on a different subject):

Funny you should mention that "message from the subconscious" -- apparently I missed the message from my subconscious this morning, the one that tells me I'm supposed to shave every day (or at least every day that I go into work). How embarrassing!

I have to admit that I don't really understand shaving, at least not ordinary shaving. I mean I could understand artistic shaving, shaving your initials into your armpits, or creative abstract swirls on your cheeks, but just shaving off all the hair on the lower part of the face every morning, knowing full well it'll grow back tomorrow? Feh! I think I'd look funny if I shaved, and (as I vaguely recall from my early youth) it hurts.

Routine Shaving: Just Say No!

(Note that "whyshave.com" and "whyshave.org" are both available. Act now, while supplies last!)

Nader & the Greens, imho, are not that interested in twiddling with people's lives. I think they just figure that since the country seems to want some twiddling (welfare, food stamps, social security), we might as well try to do it in a sane and competent way... as opposed to the way it's been handled up until now.

Well, I dunno. I probably haven't studied them as hard as I ought to have. But the platform of the Greens that I think are the ones Nader officially belongs to goes far beyond just reforming welfare and food stamps. For instance:

Communities must be designed or redesigned so that they are built with energy efficiency in mind, on a human scale, with integrated land uses.

I don't really want the government designing or redesigning my community, on a human scale or on any other scale. Of course the Big Two parties are guilty of this kind of talk also, and I don't like it when they do it, either. But it's awfully pervasive in the Green platform.

But anyway! I would (irrational as it probably sounds) be almost as happy if Nader got unexpectedly many votes as if Browne did. Anything to shake the Big Two up a bit...

A link! From TBTF, Alive... after 250 million years

The microbes are ten times older than any previously discovered living organism and may reopen the debate about the origins of life on Earth.

Since, as TBTF and the BBC both note, if something can survive for 250 million years, it can conceivably get from star to star without any of them fancy Warp Drives...


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