Category: rant

Math

posted by ben on 10.11.01 at 14:14, null, null, math, math, rant, politics, rant, rave, Leave a comment Permalink

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/22/AR2010102205451.html

So, so wrong. We need more math education. Yes, set theory may not be terribly useful (unless you interact with tuples on a daily basis), but calculus is a prerequisite for understanding the world around us. If we want to understand how many of the automated systems around us work, linear algebra and more is neccessary. The math education that comes with a typical college degree is totally insufficient to understanding the world.

That means only a select few can understand how things work, which in turn means that an even smaller select group can improve on the working of things. This is a problem. Wider math education means the ability of society to build more complex machines. That means great productivity and that means greater wealth.

Some education has value. Some does not. Math has value.

Realization #5

posted by ben on 06.12.16 at 02:18, null, rant, technology, rant, rave, Leave a comment Permalink

Advertising on the internet is a ponzi scheme, but one that is strangely well regarded. Virtually no one actually produces anything with value. Instead, the money driving the internet is mostly in the form of advertisements for other web sites that run entirely off of ad revenue... and so on ad infinitum... How?

For example, it took me two clicks from Gothamist to get to a real product, clicking on the ads..
http://gothamist.com/
-> http://www.sheckys.com/newyear/2007/default.asp
-> http://www.korbel.com/modules/content/?sid=29

... and this is just funny. On slashdot, the second adword ad is for porn addiction. Come on, Slashdot?

I hate everyone.

posted by ben on 06.07.21 at 00:23, null, rant, rant, rave, seattle, 4 comments Permalink

The people at .83 are a lot more fun than Critical Mass. I was having a fairly good time. I talked to Jace, the guy the cops beat up about a month ago. It was interesting, but I don't buy his story. There has to have been something else going on that Jace and The Stranger neglected to mention...

...sort of like the Stranger article that mysteriously fails to mention the reason the "artists" were getting evicted: that they'd done a little artwork on the public hallways of the building, consisting of random splatters of paint. So, I'm skeptical.

But, that's ok. Fringe cycle people are entitled to their side of the story. I'm famously partial to my point of view, so I suppose other people can be too.

All that was fine until Jayce wiped out in the dark. He took out some other poor bastard as well. When Jace got up, his first concern was that he'd dropped one of those red led lights... not the guy he'd just taken down.

Then someone noticed a dog, and it became painfully obvious to half the party that Jace had hit the dog.

"Does it have tags?"
"Someone see if it has tags."
"Maybe it has tags."

This is the point where I reflexively say "Christ," shove 15 people out of the way and go check if the dog has tags, which it probably does because I can hear them from 10 feet away. So, I pull out my cell phone and call the owner while everyone else rides away.

If you hit a dog on a bike, you're going to hell.
If you hit a dog on a bike and then ride off, you're going to some special region of hell where you will be eternally tortured next to mother rapers, father stabbers and father rapers.

Also, if you own a dog and go through the effort to buy tags for it, it would be prudent to put you address on so I can determine if your dog is somewhere near where it ought to be. Furthermore, if you lose your dog, it might be a good idea to answer your fucking phone when I call.

And, that concludes tonight's rant.

Comment from: graham [Member] · http://nonplatonic.com/graham.php
Where in seattle is it ever dark enough to be able to miss seeing a dog directly in front of you?

As much as I distrust police, I'm beginning to see why the cops went out of their way to beat him up; he sounds exceptionally stupid.
Permalink 07/21/06 @ 09:01
Comment from: collin [Member] · http://nonplatonic.com/collin.php
I kinda want to hit him right now. Was he high/plastered, or is his impairment more of the long term kind?
Permalink 07/21/06 @ 21:59
Comment from: collin [Member] · http://nonplatonic.com/collin.php
Oh, and that reminds me of the time I almost hit a dog with my car in Boulder. No number on the tags. Call the vet on the tags, closed. Decide, I'll just take the dog home and get her back to her owner tomorrow. Have to deal with the pissy alcoholic that came to pick up his dog [who "was walking his friend home", and no I didn't switch the subject and the object] cause he had to take the bus to south Boulder.

Jackass.
Permalink 07/21/06 @ 22:03
Comment from: ben [Member] · http://ben.nonplatonic.com
More of the long term kind. I liked him before that though. He's a courier. Maybe they're just assholes.

I don't even like dogs and I'm better.
Permalink 07/21/06 @ 23:35

Stupid ass interwebs

posted by ben on 06.04.24 at 03:59, null, rant, rant, rave, Leave a comment Permalink

The spambots are inexorably turning nonplatonic into a bonified link farm and the blogging world is tedious as all hell. It doesn't seem that I'll be going to Italy anytime soon, regardless of the number of dueling pistols I purchase... and things generally look grim. If only I could create beautiful things... then I wouldn't be in the company of those who talk about making art while failing to do so... and then everything would be ok... not that I believe that for a moment... clearly that's not all that's going on... at least that's what I continue to repeat to myself... building to a new mantra... a new religion... a new... oh... I give up... So?

So what? What are you going to do? Any suggestions? How's your life going? Why are you so happy with it? Because you don't think about it? Or, are you somehow genuinely better off? Well, fine... fuck you then...

And this is supposed to turn me on how?

Fucking and reading? Yeah, I could do that.... for a while at least.

posted by ben on 06.02.05 at 11:17, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

I hate programming. It consists entirely of playing those miserable little games we were forced to play in school... solving inane word puzzles, difficult only because they are expressed in a bewildering way. Find the missing semicolon... the read(); statement left over from the last time I wrote this section of the XML parser, or where it says a%b when it ought to be b%a.

I also like how my source gets smaller the more I edit it. I guess that happens with writing too, so I shouldn't be that alarmed.

lalalalalala la

posted by ben on 06.01.16 at 03:29, puppies, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

I'm not sure I'm a person that I'd like. I appear to be largely humorless (which is probably the worst insult imaginable), as well as derivative (both myself and the things I lay my hands on), not to mention predicable (which is in many ways similar to being humorless).

On the bright side, I'm pretty much devoid of guile (though that may be due to inability rather than desire). As a result, I tend to react to the things around me in whatever obvious way first comes to mind, rather than applying any thought to the matter. Of course, when things are presented as problems, then I usually bother to think before I speak rather than sharing my visceral reaction with the world. This applies to a frightening number of things recently.

Steven Pinker is an ass.

posted by ben on 06.01.15 at 20:20, rant, rave, Leave a comment Permalink

I've had this argument for a long time that there may be differences between the way men and women think, but that those differences are so insignificant that they don't account for the lack of women in the sciences and we certainly shouldn't model our society (or education) on them regardless of their statistical significance. So, reading this made me happy.

There is a god.

posted by ben on 06.01.12 at 23:43, coffee, coffee, rant, food, seattle, 6 comments Permalink

The other night I walked up to Capitol Hill wearing my fluffy locally manufactured jacket in the never ending rain, intending to go to Victrola, sort of hoping to find Nate and duel, but not really, and mostly to go to the nice little Boulderesque grocery next to Victrola... and I found something more satisfying than brutally killing an old friend of mine: enchilada sauce.

Comment from: Toy Vano [Visitor]
I enjoy wasting valuable time reading your blog.
-Toy
Permalink 01/13/06 @ 15:26
Comment from: ben [Member] · http://ben.nonplatonic.com
That's very kind of you, whoever you are.
Permalink 01/14/06 @ 02:47
Comment from: collin [Member] · http://nonplatonic.com/collin.php
Oooo, I had no idea they made that. I am very hungry. I just found out they have an online store, but it's a little pricey. Fine, I can't add.
Permalink 01/14/06 @ 12:40
Comment from: ben [Member] · http://ben.nonplatonic.com
$56.95/12 = $4.75 a bottle with shipping.

I think that's about right for a bottle of the best salsa ever.
Permalink 01/14/06 @ 15:57
Comment from: nate [Member] · http://www.carrotrope.com
Yum!
Permalink 01/17/06 @ 15:07
Comment from: ben [Member] · http://ben.nonplatonic.com
I just ordered two dozen bottles of goodness...
Permalink 01/18/06 @ 00:16

posted by ben on 06.01.12 at 12:17, rant, on writing, seattle, Leave a comment Permalink

Outside my local coffee shop, they’re cutting a hole in the sidewalk with one of those saws for cement. As this is a civil engineering project requiring an enormous degree of oversight, there are five people in neon suits involved.

So, an insane homeless person wanders by… well several actually… but one was twitching his hands in the way the insane homeless people here do and for some reason this particular man elicited the sympathy of one of the workers… no doubt a kind man.

And he took him inside, sat him down, and asked the barista to help him. Not too surprisingly, she didn’t want any of it. What’s she going to do? Nurse him back to health? Find him a home? She called him an ambulance. So, an ambulance is going to pick up the homeless man and… what? What’s the point? …one act of hypocritical concern and then what? The EMTs will show up and? Take him to the hospital where they will nurse him back to health? Sure, I believe that.

So I left, not wanting to see this dreadful farce play out. I am hypocritical in the good sense: I have ideals I cannot possibly live up to. I admit that and sometimes I try. When I perform a kind act, it is because it is right, not out of selfish motivation or fear of how others will perceive me. Today I saw the other kind of hypocrisy: seemingly kind acts performed solely to mollify public opinion. I hate it. The vanity of it… the lack of feeling or humanity.

Walking home, with this tirade forming, it turned on me. They always do. Books. I read books. Great piles of books. When I hear one of those well intentioned rants against pornography (as opposed to the eww, it’s profane variety), it usually has something about how the pornographer's subject is dehumanized. So, pornography takes the human and makes it less human. Novels take personal experience and attempt to construct something human from a pile of vague recollections. They both arrive at the same place, a construction that is almost real, but is missing something crucial.

posted by ben on 06.01.10 at 05:18, null, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

"Though it looks like one of my firends has lost his mind, so just ignore what's actually on the page."

-Collin

It's cold out there.

posted by ben on 06.01.10 at 03:23, rant, pictures, seattle, Leave a comment Permalink

I've been watching a homeless man die. It's been going on for a few weeks. He's new here, sitting in the rain. I'm not sure anyone lasts too long. I give him money, but it's not enough for anything. He just struggled by the Pho restaurant in the never ending rain, looking a little more hobbled than yesterday. I guess it's possible he'll make it through winter and live another year.

This loft is for sale for $825,000 in the alley where he often sleeps. The front door often opens to a view of him completely covered with a perennially damp blanket.

If we actually cared, poverty wouldn't be a problem.

posted by ben on 06.01.09 at 20:23, null, null, puppies, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

I remember the day I bought this pair of pants at the army surplus store. I had dinner in Denver with my dad and someone who knew my grandparents. Then we were going to watch a movie. At the last moment you changed your mind and I spent the night drinking coffee alone. I’m not complaining… it’s just odd to remember it now.

On the holiday spirit... cranberry or white?

posted by ben on 05.12.31 at 21:36, kittens, puppies, rant, rave, Leave a comment Permalink

As the year draws to a close, I have a perverse desire to write a casualty list… relationships that have died...

I feel no remorse naming the two most mortally wounded: my friendships with Nate and Morgan. This is not to say that I feel no remorse, but it’s the ones still clinging to life that concern me. If I type the words, acknowledge their grave condition, will it be enough to push them over the edge?

Even with people dropping off at an ever accelerating rate, I still have their blogs. Nearly everyone I know is narcissistic enough that if they don’t have a blog, they still have an online specter that makes good stalking material.

When does it stop? After college, all your friends drop away until left completely alone, you go out and marry the first person you can find… buy a suburban house and fight about Swiffers… I’d rather it ends now.

Lonely, reading morbid Turkish fiction, in a coffee shop: “What do you normally do for New Years?” I have a party. My friends come over and we all make food. I sit with people I barely know and watch them smoke. It’s usually cold, but I’m usually drunk so it doesn’t matter. I sit outside, away from everyone else, because I don’t want to be alone. I wear a stained linen shirt that doesn’t quite button and slouch on the floor, wind up with my pants around my ankles or my friends sleeping all around me, ecstatic about the simplicity of good food. I like the later one better.

mmm

posted by ben on 05.07.07 at 15:50, rant, rant, rave, Leave a comment Permalink

Somewhere in Big Sur, or maybe north of Marin, there’s a mission enjoying a brief respite from its journey to dust. It might even be in Mexico. Really, I’m only sure it’s on the Pacific Coast.

Down a quarter mile path, the ocean beats at the shore. At low tide, the bohemians come out. They poke around the tide pools barefoot, skipping over barnacles, their feet bleeding slightly on the sand. When the water moves in, they leave.

The mission is littered with books and manuscripts on yellow legal pads and composition notebooks. At least a hundred blue bic pens litter the main rooms. The collected work of Brautigan is underneath a pile of IEEE transactions. Jacques Pepin is balanced on top of Elliot, Woolf and some topo maps of Yosemite. Someone lost an obsessively sharpened Henkel in the mess. The 15 foot long blackboard says “beware of the knife,” scrawled over some exercise in homological algebras. In the corner is a haiku written in Thai about fire hydrants.

I walk down the hall. The distinct smell of burning silicon is coming from a closet. Opening the door gives a blast of warm air, followed by a barrage of blinking lights and twisted cat-5 held together with zip ties and gaffer’s tape. Toward the bottom, the power light on a box is blinking on and off. I throw the scavenged AT switch and leave it to cool.

I pass three bedrooms. Each has a king sized futon and a lamp fashioned from a piece of rusted something. Each has a pile of books, printouts and pamphlets characteristic of a certain unique liberalism. One has two naked bodies, backs visible, with an arm thrown across a torso. The sun is making its way toward his nose. When it gets there, he’ll make dinner… which is good, because the bohemians are back with buckets of oysters. The kitchen is alive with wine bottles, beer bottles, and a hand juicer making wheatgrass.

I peer in the kitchen at the arguing hordes, then out again, barefoot in drawstring linen pants. I lean against the wall, sitting in a futon, pick up a random book and drift off. When I wake up, she’s next to me reading. I lean over and give her an expectant look. She wraps one arm around me and begins reading out loud…

Teh Future

posted by ben on 05.07.05 at 17:09, null, rant, technology, 4 comments Permalink

Maybe this is obvious...

In the future my hard drive will have a bunch of torrents. It will have the media I am currently looking at and some rare favorites. It will all be shared and when I'm done, I'll delete it knowing that I can find it again when I need it. As connections get faster, I won't need 30gig of music to entertain myself. Maybe a 2 or 3 gig buffer in a state of constant flux...

Comment from: graham [Member] · http://nonplatonic.com/graham.php
In teh future, all of my music will fit on one 8-layer, 200 gb bluray disc.
Either that or gmail will have unlimited storage space and connections will actually be fast enough to stream anything you want.
Permalink 07/06/05 @ 00:48
Comment from: ben [Member] · http://ben.nonplatonic.com
That way you only get 200gb of music. And if you store it on google, they end up keeping multiple copies for different users, and that's kind of stupid... and then there's the whole trusting google not to be evil issue. If they ever do anything useful with media sharing, they're going to go the way of Napster.

Instead, you could store a few hundred gigs of torrents, touching them whenever you want their contents.

I suspect data requirements will continue to outpace optical media. The instant I have a 200gb disk, I'll want to store terabytes of video, or maybe interactive 3dness or something still larger.

Give me more.
Permalink 07/06/05 @ 12:13
Comment from: graham [Member] · http://nonplatonic.com/graham.php
When gmail first came out I heard of people sharing media though it. I don't know how it worked... maybe they attached the stuff to messages sent to themselves, then forwarded the message to anyone that requested it.
1gb isn't much by itself (now up to 2.3), but considering that only one copy would have to be uploaded, it's not bad.
I just tried it, and the downloads are speedy.
Permalink 07/07/05 @ 15:09
Comment from: ben [Member] · http://ben.nonplatonic.com
There're a few problems with that. Your one copy isn't accessible in a nice way. Worse, if something horrible happens to that one copy, it's gone, or being served by other people. The nice thing about the torrents is that they provide a single interface to a robustly stored file... what is essentially a very robust filesystem.

I think with static content, it'd be better to distribute it as widely as possible. On the other hand, things like this blog should be served centrally because they're always changing.
Permalink 07/07/05 @ 15:15

unholy amounts of garlic

posted by ben on 05.07.03 at 23:48, puppies, rant, boston, Leave a comment Permalink

The idiot monkey children have been quiet lately. Turns out they were planning their latest endeavor, flooding the laundry room to form a bubbly swamp. Wading toward my damp (and bubbly) laundry, I could hear them shrieking with delight, punctuated by the soft thuds as they threw their feces at each other…

It’s quieter here on weekends. The idiot monkey children go get peshed. If they manage to find their way home, and their keys, and the door, they’re too wasted to make much noise… other than soothing gurgle sounds as they drown in their own vomit… until they tip over and it spills onto the floor, burning a hole to the apartment below… good thing I’m on the top floor.

In the morning it’s quiet until at least noon. Occasionally there’re shrieks of surprise earlier, but only in extreme cases… late night drunken amputation… that sort of thing.

You can choose to be assimilated.

posted by ben on 05.07.03 at 21:29, hci, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

There's a discussion (if it can be called that) going on over at slashdot about some comment Gates made. Apparently he doesn't want to be a cyborg. The slashdot crowd is reading this as fear buggy windows software will crash people. No one is thinking about the much simpler explanation: maybe Gates likes his humanity just the way it is. Things are going pretty well for him, so he probably doesn't feel the need to plug in and drop out. Hell... maybe augmented reality won't make supermen, just more mockeries of human nature crouching in neon lit boxes.

I must fight the urge to look at the comments. I foolishly tried to comment, but my slashdot account (from maybe 5 years ago) seems to be gone. It's sad too, I bet I had a respectable ID.

faulknerian

posted by ben on 05.07.02 at 00:57, puppies, rant, rant, rave, Leave a comment Permalink

The man-children are setting off fireworks in the street again... screaming when they start their clothing on fire... Just so you know...

Science!

posted by ben on 05.06.30 at 22:22, rant, rave, television, Leave a comment Permalink

I've been watching a Nova series called "Origins" and a BBC series called "Hyperspace." They both deal with the Drake equation and that sort of stuff. Oddly, the BBC version is heavier on the bullshit... so much for their reputation. I hate how dumbed down the shows are. I'm pretty sure I learned nothing from having watched several hours of this stuff... sure it refreshed my memory a bit, but I absorbed all this stuff early in life by simply being a geek.

So, I'm wondering:

Is there anything post Urey Miller, or is that line of research dead?

Does the singularity the universe arises from have to be heterogeneous to account for a heterogeneous universe? Suppose it wasn't... Then there was a vast landscape of evenly dispersed particles. One particle does the quantum thing and moves strangely and suddenly it's closer to some other particle than any of the others. Then clumping happens... It doesn't seem like a homogeneous universe is a stable state. Of course, this is all based on my limited knowledge of quantum and chaos... so who knows...

What is called life...

posted by ben on 05.06.28 at 12:55, null, puppies, rant, technology, rant, rave, Leave a comment Permalink

Life is an entropy reducing machine.

-Erwin Shrodinger

Ergo the air conditioner is alive. It's a good thing too, I'm not sure anything else is here.