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It's time for:

Malt Ovaltine
Wednesday, October 27, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

So I have this replicator going wild in my head and throat, and it's extending its phenotype all over me in an attempt to jump across to other people.

I remember how boggling it was when I first realized (probably due to Dawkins, although I'm not sure) that the runny nose and sneezing and coughing isn't a matter of the body's defenses bravely combatting the replicator, but is rather the replicator manipulating the body like a puppet, tickling the hapless body's gears and switches and handles in ways that tend to launch copies of the replicator off into the air, or smear it on door handles.

Such a hapless body.

More Synthetic Zero Loft Events, for you artsy City types.

And really, given this replicator and this cough and this muzzy feeling, that's probably all I'm going to write. I could like post the word "snail" many many times (even more than this: snail snail snail snail snail snail snail snail snail snail snail snail snail), but I won't.

Monday, October 25, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

In anticipation of NaNoWriMo, we present the results of "Type, don't think":

You're the man now Dawg!

Marvin Redpost: is he a Girl?

Yes Kazu, the dinner just after dawn.

The key to a woman's heart is an unexpected gift at an unexpected time.

Women will sleep with you if you write a bad book!

oh smurf it! the finding forrester line is "don't think, type" I feel like an idiot.

You have a name like Chess



Less Thinking; More Clicking!

The quick red fox jumped over the lazy wait was it a red fox or a silver fox? Think, dammit! No, wait.

today my spam says: "it wont hurt_ childbirth concussion petersburg" - somehow i doubt it

But just for the hell of it, you should watch Finding Forrester with the French voice overs -- Anna Paquin becomes so much more enticing.

superior fast action tables calculate the cards of stinging brothers burdened with a fistful of dollars loading that mountainous range of orange bucketfuls as slowly shading tinvillages dot the compendium. Alas this meager sprinkling wet with cool ethanol evaporated from the priest staff slowly arching my cousinís final swim. Reading a pattern language without bifocals seems an anti-utopian anti-prosaic Prozac depressant. Ah what light shimmers twain tinsel that magical Sebring almost lost when I shot the albatross. I shoulda thunk!

Yes, indeed, Kazu.

From here (reached by torturous routes), For President: None of the Above, in which the Detroit News endorses no one. This is worse news from one dude than the other:

This decision to remain silent will disappoint readers who expect The Detroit News to stand with the Republican presidential candidate come hell or high water.
We will never feel obliged to defend a president whose blunders and misjudgments have hurt the nation.

It'd be interesting to see a collection of these from other elections, and other sides of the fence. Are there staunch Democratic papers disowning Kerry? (Well, heh heh.) Were there Detroit Newses disavowing Reagan back in (um) '84? Be interesting to know.

And similarly (well), from Bill, the very memorable Cetacean Community v. George W. Bush:

As commentators have observed, nothing in the text of Article III explicitly limits the ability to bring a claim in federal court to humans.

Lesee. At work the other day I went to the Candy Machine, and at the Candy Machine there was this guy (this colleague) who wanted to buy some Candy, and he put a quarter into the machine, but it came tumbling out again. He tried it again, and it happened again. I offered to sell him a quarter for a quarter, and he took me up on it, and the quarter that I sold him worked. I looked at the quarter that I'd bought from him, and sure enough it was a 1964. I'm ashamed to say I considered not mentioning it, but proud that it was only for a second.

"Hey, I think this is silver," I said, "that's probably why it didn't take it. Nineteen sixty-four."

"Nah, they stopped making them out of silver before that," he said, and thanked me again and went off.

So he had his chance! And now I'm the proud owner of a 1964 D United States Quarter, made of silver and probably worth at least fifty cents, and perhaps even a buck. Although it's pretty worn.

The MT comment-trap that I mentioned the other day has caught its first three specimens: a single big mixed medicine-scam and gambling-scam posting last week ("Please check the sites dedicated to..."), seven different short postings in the space of a couple of minutes all pointing to the same (but different from the first posting) gambling site (and, interestingly, all originating from different IP addresses in different countries) the other day, and then today another single big posting pointing at multiple medicine scam sites.

So now I feel Luvved. *8)

Sunday, October 24, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

I woke up this morning and looked at the clock, and it was only seven. So I lay luxuriously back down and dozed for a couple of hours. Somewhere in there, between seven and nine on a cool autumn morning, lying slightly tangled in the sheets and variably awake, I heard a sound somewhere, and for a second I was back in the house I grew up in, lying in bed and listening to my parents moving around out in the livingroom and the kitchen, and Dad (probably Dad) whistling.

It was infinitely comforting.

I hope M and I are giving our kids that same kind of base to build on; that when they flash on their childhood home some sleepy morning thirty years from now, it'll be an infinitely comforting and altogether positive flash.

Thanks, Mom and Dad.

Friday, October 22, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

People are always inventing improved data compression methods that can losslessly compress any bit-string at all. And the great thing about this is that you can then take the already-compressed data and compress it even more, resulting in really amazing compression ratios.

The downside of course is that it's actually impossible. I was randomly browsing around the other day, and reread the bit of the comp dot compression FAQ on "compression of random data". Then on a whim I went over to comp dot compression itself, and sure enough the most active recent thread is about this guy who has an algorithm that can map any arbitrary 1,048,576 bit string into a 1,048,474 bit string, reversibly. Sure it only gets you 102 bits per pass, but since you can do it over and over again...

Sometime back in my professional youth a guy came up with a similar algorithm. It took an arbitrary file (an arbitrary bit-string) as input, and produced a unique six-byte value (a length 48 bit-string) as output. The great thing about it was that it produced a different six-byte value for every possible input file. The guy didn't describe it as a compression method (either he didn't think of it, or he didn't have a way to do the reverse mapping), but he thought it'd make a great MDC, since there'd never be any collisions.

The inventor of this marvelous algorithm managed to insert it into the company in such a way that someone had to give a formal response to it. Because (I think) he mentioned something about security or viruses or something in it, it eventually came to me (via Steve, I think). I wrote back that this was very nice but impossible, because you can't put ten pigeons into nine pigeon-holes without doubling up and so on. He (as I recall) wrote indignantly back about how I was just one of those hide-bound stiflers of innovation, and that he knew it could work because he's run his algorithm on all three-byte-long files and it'd produced a different six-byte value for each one. He didn't have the computer power to test it exhaustively on longer files, but by induction...

Memory becomes very vague here, but I think Steve or somebody had to write another reply, trying in even simpler language to show him the error of his ways.

As well as being incorrigible, our inventor had another quality common to this (um) cognitive style: he used jargon in his own idiosyncratic ways. He called each of the three pairs of bytes in his six-byte output string a "weight", for instance, although they didn't function as weights in any normal sense of the word.

I wonder if some day years after, he saw his daughter trying to put thirteen eggs into an egg carton, and said "Now Hepzibah, you can't do that, because you have more eggs than there are spaces in the... whoa! Is that what they were talking about?"

So maybe the reason there're so few hits on "smargard" on the web is that it was a typo! A reader writes:

"smargard" isn't in the online OED (one of the benefits of having a child in expensive university); but nearby we find smaragd for a stone of bright green - emerald like. or smarald for emerald.

It's missing from the up-in-the-attic OED also, but similarly nearby we have "smaragdine", meaning "emerald green". So there we are.

Funny: Lie Girls dot com.

"Major combat operations have ended, baby!"

"Mmmm, your coalition is so BIG!"

From Steve Jackson, filed under "Man, why didn't we think of this?", Today In Alternate History:

in 1967, the event that came to be known as the October Massacre took place near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Soviet. Amish, Quaker and Mennonite peace activists had gathered to hold a small rally of about 10,000 people when Pennsylvania Peopleís Guard troops ordered them to disperse. Lt. William Calley of the P.P.G. apparently didnít think they were dispersing quickly enough, and ordered his troops to open fire. Over 2,000 were killed in the mayhem; Calley was court-martialed and executed for his actions that day.

From librarian dot net, a page with all sortsa pointers about weblogs and libraries and stuff; good resources and/or reading.

Subject: immortal dredge bead
Subject: deft hooligan dynamo

From somewhere similar, Open Worldcat, a good idea whose owners seem bizarrely reluctant to reveal its interface. Perhaps because it's currently sort of hokey; but something to remember.

From abuddhas to this rather highfalutin essay:

The indexical Dawkins created (meme=gene) has exceeded its carrying capacity and thus lost its efficacy. Worse, that indexical is evoking images and affordances which stand in the way of the memetics field making true progress. It is time to recognize that ontic status has been misplaced. Memes needs a new meme: meme as catalytic indexical.

and thence to the somewhat more straightforward essay that it's commenting on:

Memetics has reached a crunch point. If, in the near future, it does not demonstrate that it can be more than merely a conceptual framework, it will be selected out. While it is true that many successful paradigms started out as such a framework and later moved on to become pivotal theories, it also true that many more have simply faded away. A framework for thinking about phenomena can be useful if it delivers new insights but, ultimately, if there are no usable results academics will look elsewhere.

And for "academics" read "people with a clue", I think.

Veering suddenly into politics, electoral vote dot com (which has been really seesawing lately) points out that The Candidates are Ninth cousins twice removed. (And while we're here see the electoral vote movie; pretty foreboding.)

And finally, I'll just mention Malt flavored Ovaltine. Something I read somewhere mentioned malted milk, and I thought to myself "I'd like some malted milk", so I put "malted milk" on the grocery list, but M (who did the groceries that week) said the grocery didn't have malted milk. The next week I did the groceries, and in fact they didn't have malted milk, but in the hot chocolate and stuff section they had Malt Ovaltine.

It's not bad.


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