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Wednesday, March 31, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

Sheesh, midnight already. So how should I date this entry? Aah, I'll date it by what day it was last time I woke up. That'd be Wednesday.

We don't usually do classified ads here, but this one is special. A reader (well, a Googler I imagine) writes:

Codex Seraphinianus
It's the 1983 first american edition in hard back. Has a minor tear on the back of the dust cover. I've only looked at the book a few times and that was years ago so it is in really good condition. The pages are like new. Maybe $300. If interested, contact Sasso, +1 (310) 562-5722, or "Sasso@arttogo.com". Credit cards accepted.

Note that I have no previous knowledge or experience of this person; I'm just passing along the bits in case anyone's interested. I glanced on eBay, and there's one available there also, with a current bid of around $200, a Buy It Now of $375, and a week to go on the auction. So that's the ballpark...

Unknown truths!

So I was cleaning out some (ehem) rather old email, and in a note from Steve from January of 2000 was a link to this essay:

I obviously don't have all the answers, or even all the questions concerning the "artilect debate" or the "dominant species" debate, etc. I hope this chapter has made you think about the issues of genuine artilectual success. The potential of the computer to generate intelligence is massively superior to that generated by our own puny nervous systems. Therefore its only a question of time before the artilect debate gets going. Hopefully the ideas in this essay have given you some food for thought. Hopefully it will serve as a catalyst in a much larger debate. Finally, I see war. I am quite pessimistic about the long term outcome of the artilect issue. Both the terra and cosmist positions are powerful and will be defended with passion. Unfortunately its a zero sum game. I hope I'm wrong about all this, but my gut tells me "No, there will be real conflict. The artilect issue has all the prerequisites to fuel a global ideological war, even an interstellar; war.

We are famous: we wandered from a MeFi thread to a weblog we don't recall seeing before, and there in the comments someone had written "Yeah, I spotted thecycles on davidchess.com".

Good old davidchess.com.

Pictures of Paul Ford's cat!

Okay, this was on the news this morning. Very, very odd:

The restaurant industry is struggling to handle a bizarre hoax in which outlet managers across the country have been duped into strip-searching employees or customers.

Duped by someone on the phone claiming to be a police officer. Another example of the bizarre things that people can be talked into doing by apparent authority figures. Quite scary (and not of course hysterically funny or anything like that).

One key finding was that misinformation about the state of world opinion was the single strongest predictor of support for the war.

So various civil liberties groups are all upset:

On March 4, 2004, the FEC voted 5-1 to consider new rules that would have the effect of redefining many nonprofit groups as political committees, thereby forcing these groups to meet vastly more stringent financial and reporting requirements or to forego many of the advocacy and civic engagement activities at the core of their missions.

Did I not post warnings? In fact I'm going to quote myself:

I can't help but think that campaign finance reform, as currently being considered in the U.S., is a Really Bad Idea. People are proposing to tighten the laws governing political contributions. That is, to give those currently in power increased control over the funding sources available to their potential rivals. Everyone who suspects that, whatever the stated intent, the actual result of such a law would be to further enforce the power of the entrenched establishment, raise your hands. OK, those with their hands up can proceed to the next paragraph; the rest of you, I've got some wonderful news about how you can use the Internet to make up to $52,800 per week without even leaving your home!!

If only they'd listened to me.

God has been playing a chess game with vindictive and ignorant demons using them as tools in our education program.

Microsoft Social Computing Group.

And, from Daze, some very cool Barbie variants; with their own boxes, even!

And I've finished Revelation Space and Paul Auster's New York Trilogy, but I'm too sleepy to write them up right now.

Good Night!

Monday, March 29, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

So before Willy Shakespear(e) wrote "an ill-favored thing... but mine own", and the popular memory morphed it into "a poor thing, but mine own", was it the case that:

  • This, or something very like this, was already a cliché, and Shak just adopted or adapted it?
  • Some other phrase, now fallen from grace, was used to express the general thought that one's own Things have, apart from their inherent qualities, a certain favor in simply being One's Own?
  • People knew about this phenomenon, this certain favor, and talked about it, but had no simple pithy phrase to bring it to mind?
  • People did feel an especial fondness for their own Things, but did not in general realize the fact, did not speak of it, did not have it as category of truth in their mental provisions?
  • People did not in fact feel this, did not feel a special favor toward their Own things, apart from the inherent qualities of those things?

Ya hafta wonder.

Three from recent Metafilters:

New elements!

"Element 115 lives for 1/100,000th of a second before breaking down into element 113, which in turn decays after a little over a second. In the world of heavy elements those seemingly brief lifetimes are an eternity. This discovery confirms a long-held theory in nuclear physics that there is a region of enhanced stability at the margin of the periodic table.

An exception to the fourth amendment that you might or might not want to worry about.

And the POVRay Short Code Contest - Round 3: All images shown here were created with a scene file of no more than 256 characters! Pretty neat. I should play with that 3D stuff again someday.

Judith has updated! This is good.

That philosophy guy points out that Noam Chomsky has a weblog! And wow, can he be hard to understand!

We like Fact Check dot Org. Not as brilliant, perhaps, but we can parse their sentences.

Getting Our Priorities Straight Dept:

Administration sources tell TIME that employees at the Department of Homeland Security have been asked to keep their eyes open for opportunities to pose the President in settings that might highlight the Administrationís efforts to make the nation safer. The goal, they are being told, is to provide Bush with one homeland-security photo-op a month.

All-purpose quote o' the day:

This bill is fundamentally wrong. Honestly, it's so wrong it's insane. You know, I've seen politicians do some stupid things, but I'm still always amazed when someone's hatred and closed-mindedness can so void any semblance of intelligence and leave them as nothing more than a hollering buffoon.

It's all in what you mean by "undead":

The last shot of The Passion of the Christ is of Jesus getting up from the dead and walking out of his grave. This is the perfect movie to see right before DAWNING OF THE DEAD because it's like Jesus was the original zombie (O.Z. -- only super good-looking and not smelly), so when DAWNING opens it's like it's a sequel.

A nice summary of the evidence about those suspiciously human-sounding "Nanniebots" you may have noticed the press drooling over lately.

Flash movie about the U.S.'s relationship to Saddam over the years.

Spam Bayes-blocking text of the day:

She read me and then put me on the stump as she packed up her picnic. But she forgot me. I sat there for days. He came with his father and some friends. They worked hard, and built a tree house in me! I was then shipped off to a store. After about a week, a man bought me. Want out?, here

Two odd links in the referrer log remind us that you can do anything you want with hostnames and all. Although it's not the method I'd choose.

I stumbled across this text somewhere:

The 2005 Sunrise initiative will require retailers to scan products with barcodes of up to 14 digits, which will accommodate all product ID data formats, including the 12-digit UPC, 14-digit Reduced Space Symbology (RSS), EAN-13 and EAN-8. The umbrella term for the entire family of data structures is Global Trade Item Number (GTIN).

And while I haven't been able to find exactly it again, I did find a couple of interesting pages about how the International Barcode Conspiracy (at least the exoteric face of it) works these days. Interesting stuff.

Spam subject line o' the day:

Subject: hi there! graphicu politicsu pinkfloyg

"Graphicu politicsu pinkfloyg" might be, say, a Japanese tribute band?

New York Times editoral page, corrections (not).


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