log (2004/04/02 to 2004/04/08)

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It had to be:
Thursday, April 8, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

Earglasses! Mr. Happy Crack! Linux for the iPod! Linux for dead badgers!!

The Web is a very silly place.

Title o' the Day: Dame Commander of the Bath. (Sounds pleasantly kinky, really.)

"How can nearly two hundred people want to see naked animals? They're ALWAYS naked!"

A reader writes:

Today's favorite spam sourcename: "Connector D. Whatsoever".

That is a good one. My favorite among those recently in my inbox was "Perplexity I. Fussbudget". Preplexity gave eir email address as "unplanned" at "sideshow-bob.com", which is pretty good also.

"I've seen things like this before. Demons occupy a house and appear in electrical goods."
-- Gabriele Amorth, Exorcist

(Link thanks to Chris Leithiser.)

So one of the stations that Air America Radio has acquired is our own WLIB. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Given the choice between their current programming (which is funky reggae and like live telephone calls from Jamaica and Trinidad, at least in the times when I listen to them) and annoying (if liberal) white guys telling in-jokes about annoying (if conservative) white guys, I know which I'd choose. But maybe they'll keep the WLIBesque content, and just add the "sniping at Bill O'Reilly" stuff on top of it.

The instruments and methods of blogging have greatly varied throughout the centuries. Initially, beaks, boards, bats and other implements were used.

And here comes the bottom of the barrel...

During planning sessions for The Lion King, Simba started out as a white lion until one of the animators spoke up: "Not even OUR lawyers are THAT good!"

That's not actually the bottom of the barrel; there's still a very thick layer of dregs, with quite likely some embedded gems, below it in the "things to log" file. But that's as far down as I generally go these days. Have to spelunk further in sometime.

So I've been playing Alpha Centauri again (I know, I know), and generally being useless. I have some half-formed thoughts, about cognitive styles and the differences between generalizers and categorizers (driven by some recent frustrating but educational interactions at work), but they don't gel enough to write down at the moment.

On choosing the liar that's less of an utter scum-sucker, a reader writes:

<sarcasm>Your description of the electoral choice for a leader really makes me believe that democracy must be working in your country</sarcasm>

Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. I don't know if it's peculiar to my country (although I admit we have a rather advanced case of demosclerosis and the accompanying syndrome); do politicians in your country always state their real beliefs on the issues, rather than what they think their voters want to hear?

A(nother) reader writes:

Chobits is for kids? Yow...

Well, that depends on the kid! *8) The little daughter is very mature (and not really so little anymore, being like taller than her mother and stuff). There's not much violence in it, and while there's quite a bit of sex-related stuff, it's sex-related in that sort of lighthearted and innocent way that some manga does so well (Clamp is very good at it).

(Cadence, resolving to the tonic.)

Tuesday, April 6, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

So the old iBook has the dreaded motherboard video disease; Apple is going to express us a box to send it back in to get fixed. Nice that it waited until after all the fuss was over and Apple'd figured out what to do about it.

(Here are some interesting details of the ailment. I got a chance to try the keyboard squeezing trick myself this evening, while trying to do the few last things that Apple wanted done to the machine before we send it back. It worked for long enough, fortunately.)

On the other hand, the JBL Creature speakers came real fast, and omg these are nice speakers. I mean, maybe it's just that I've never listened to a system with a real subwoofer in it before, but boy howdy!

What else? I don't have much time to sit around writing in my log this evening, because (I want to get a reasonable amount of sleep and) the little daughter forced me to read all eight volumes of Chobits. That's "forced" in the nicest possible way, of course. *8)

They were very good, as it turns out. Not just your typical "robots find out they can love" story; much more nuanced and complex than that.

Mysterious Unexplained Phenomenon o' the Day: Time Slips.

Turns out April First was National F-word Day, and we missed it! Of course, we invented Fuck Day a long time ago, in a somewhat different context.

But do we ask for royalties? No! We are selfless.

A reader suggests that we remember to avoid "paying $300 for a codex when they're $150 new when special-ordered at Borders". But I don't quite understand that; is it back in print? Certainly there aren't any "new" copies of the 1983 American edition to be had, without resorting to the old Time Machine.

Let's see. Rebecca Blood points to a nice piece on actual issue differences between "Kerry" and "Bush". I'm torn, as usual, between thinking that it's these issue differences that the media and the voters should really be concentrating on, and thinking that it's realy much more sensible to concentrate on "character", since both candidates are more or less lying about their positions on the issues anyway, and the best we can do is choose the liar that's less of an utter scum-sucker.

And I still have to write up "Revelation Space" and Auster's New York Trilogy before I forget about them, and post lots of juicy reader input. But first I have to sleep and stuff.

Sunday, April 4, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

So one obvious question is "what kinds of things are there in the universe?". And related to that, "what kinds of things do there tend to be in the universe?", and/or "what kinds of things do there tend to be in universes like this one?"

Those questions are actually pretty ill-defined. There are various ways to approach the problem (using one's fleet of starships, or the out-of-band access that one has by virtue of being one level up from the universe in question and able to poke at it from the outside, so to speak). These various ways correspond to various more detailed wordings of the question(s).

We could sort of list all the things in the universe, and see what most of them are. That assumes we have some notion of "thing", but we can fake that. Most likely (in mature universes, anyway, which is an interesting subset) most of the things will be things that are small and cheap, and designed to do little but produce more copies of themselves. (Insects, so to speak.)

We could take a random atom, and see what sort of thing it's part of. Since atoms all mass about the same (you know), this is roughly "success is measured by the total mass of descendants"; a common metric. This might be insects, too, or it might be larger things that specialize in being massive. An interesting question.

Looking beyond the raw constituents of things, one could take some random points in space, and see who (see what) is in control of those points; stick a random ball-bearing or derelict starship there and see what mostly reacts. This notion of "control" is probably even stickier than the notion of "thing", but we can fake it also (if you like we can hire a bunch of philosophers to write a white paper or something). There will be hard cases (I found out over the last week that a certain amount of space that I thought I was in control of actually belonged to a colony of carpenter ants, for instance), but nothing insuperable.

Insects are less likely to come out ahead in this last version of the metric (carpenter ants notwithstanding). This is where we're more likely to find interstellar empires and things that use language and so on; things that are good at (reproducing and) controlling large areas of the universe beyond their own bodies. Here we probably have, rather than total mass, "success is measured by the total sway of descendants".

Which sounds more human. Not necessarily more admirable, but more human.

For whatever that's worth.

We saw "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". It was good, although I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't read the "Best Film of the Decade!" stuff about it; I think I went in with my expectations a bit too high. But it was good; I'm just too sleepy to do a proper writeup.

I was sure that at one point someone says "Carrey" (the last name of the actor) where they should have said "Barrish" (the last name of the character), but no one I saw it with remembered it afterwards. Fortunately for my confidence in my own sanity, Metafilter noticed it also.

Very odd.

But anyway I seem to have left the power cord for this laptop somewhere else, and the power is getting low. So that's it for this entry...


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