Archives for: 2005


RMS is in my cell phone book.

posted by graham on 05.11.09 at 11:25, Missleaneus, technology, 1 comment Permalink

No kidding.

comment by graham on 05.11.11 at 16:39
What, no snide remarks? I know how we all love RMS here...

Wireless Networks at the King County Regional Justice Center:

posted by graham on 05.11.09 at 11:14, Missleaneus, politics, technology, seattle, Leave a comment Permalink


Forest Classics

posted by graham on 05.11.07 at 15:15, technology, Toys, Leave a comment Permalink

This is about the coolest site I've ever seen. They sell model engines of all sorts, as well as devices you can run off of the engines. See that steam-powered LeMans racer model above? You can buy one that has been adapted for radio control. How sweet is that? I can almost see myself paying the $300 price tag. Oh, and that Stirling engine is pretty cool too.


Damn it.

posted by collin on 05.10.29 at 16:28, nonsense, art, visual, random, art, Leave a comment Permalink

Artists get to have all the fun.



posted by collin on 05.10.28 at 23:04, math, math, Leave a comment Permalink

They're good. They're what kept me wanting to do math. I had a little one the other day when I was looking at this page on the formal logic of mathematics. It has some interesting things, like a proof 132 theorems long that shows 2+2=4.

When ever you think about these things, Godel allways pops into your head. I always believed [not to open an epistomological can of worms, but I think that's the best word] Godel's Incompleteness proof, but I kind of wanted a constructive example: ie an actual unprovable statement.

I realized why you can't do this, or at least the conditions that would allow you to do this which generate contradictions. Given a set of axioms, one can generate a set of theorems. I think to show that a statement is unprovable the set of theorems that can be generated by the set of axioms needs to be finite. This is at least sufficient, though I can't say if it's necessary. If the set of theorems is finite then obviously it's possible to show that a statement and it's negation are not proveable, which I guess simply means showing the statement is not a theorem. So for any interesting set of axioms, say one complex enough to give you arithmetic, the set of theorms is obviously infinite, and hence there is no constructive way to show a theorem is unproveable.

Ok, my head hurts. I'm going to sleep.

Dancing with a giant robot phallus.

posted by collin on 05.10.28 at 16:00, nonsense, science, random, 1 comment Permalink

No, it's not anime. It's NASA and our tax dollars at work. That's not to say that I don't think it's good tech, but the prsentation is a little odd.
16Mb mpeg
Found it here.

comment by graham on 05.10.28 at 19:18
That's pretty much the worst video ever made.


Stephen Wolfram is an ass.

posted by collin on 05.10.27 at 23:59, math, math, rant, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

Next in my burgeoning series of posts wherein I call famous people asses: Stephen Wolfram.

I came across this link to a review of Wolfram's A New Kind of Science on Crooked Timber. It's by a professor at Carnegie Mellon named Cosma Shalizi, and while not as blistering as one I remember in AMS Notices a while back it's still a good read. The note at the begining kind of grabs your attention.

Attention conservation notice: Once, I was one of the authors of a paper on cellular automata. Lawyers for Wolfram Research Inc. threatened to sue me, my co-authors and our employer, because one of our citations referred to a certain mathematical proof, and they claimed the existence of this proof was a trade secret of Wolfram Research. I am sorry to say that our employer knuckled under, and so did we, and we replaced that version of the paper with another, without the offending citation. I think my judgments on Wolfram and his works are accurate, but they're not disinterested.

He later explains, in more detail, what this was about.

He didn't invent cyclic tag systems, and he didn't come up with the incredibly intricate construction needed to implement them in Rule 110. This was done rather by one Matthew Cook, while working in Wolfram's employ under a contract with some truly remarkable provisions about intellectual property. In short, Wolfram got to control not only when and how the result was made public, but to claim it for himself. In fact, his position was that the existence of the result was a trade secret. Cook, after a messy falling-out with Wolfram, made the result, and the proof, public at a 1998 conference on CAs. (I attended, and was lucky enough to read the paper where Cook goes through the construction, supplying the details missing from A New Kind of Science.) Wolfram, for his part, responded by suing or threatening to sue Cook (now a penniless graduate student in neuroscience), the conference organizers, the publishers of the proceedings, etc. (The threat of legal action from Wolfram that I mentioned at the beginning of this review arose because we cited Cook at the person responsible for this result.)

A little clarification: the "cyclic tag system" refers to the method of proving rule 110 is Turing complete. And let's emphasize the last sentence again in case you missed it "The threat of legal action from Wolfram that I mentioned at the beginning of this review arose because we cited Cook at the person responsible for this result." I believe the phrase is, "that's a lot of damn gall." I had heard about Wolfram suing Cook, but to threaten to sue someone for citing his paper? Re-fucking-diculous.

If this hasn't made you want to read the review maybe these things will. Shalizi put into crystal clarity two things I knew but hadn't connected, or if I had I forgot that I had. And in doing so he brings up Wolfram's willful neglect of cannonical complexity theory. The two pieces I hadn't fit together; all of Wolfram's elementary CA rules can be defined as an 8 digit binary number, and Kolmogorov complexity. Unless I'm horribly confused, which I don't think I am, all 256 rules have the basically the "same" Kolmogorov complexity. [I know rule 0 and things like that have less, but the point is still valid.] And the other thing that makes the review worth reading are the links to incredibly interesting papers. For example:

Unpredictability and Undecidability in Dynamical Systems
Physical Review Letters 64 (1990) 2354-2357
We show that motion with as few as three degrees of freedom (for instance, a particle moving in a three-dimensional potential) can be equivalent to a Turing machine, and so be capable of universal computation. Such systems possess a type of unpredictability qualitatively stronger than that which has been previously discussed in the study of low-dimensional chaos: even if the initial conditions are known exactly, virtually any question about their long-term dynamics are undecidable.

Ray Kurzweil is an ass. Bill Joy too.

posted by collin on 05.10.27 at 20:21, news, news, rant, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

This NYTimes editorial [or here] has been sitting on my desktop for a bit over a week now. First the good part...

After a decade of painstaking research, federal and university scientists have reconstructed the 1918 influenza virus that killed 50 million people worldwide. Like the flu viruses now raising alarm bells in Asia, the 1918 virus was a bird flu that jumped directly to humans, the scientists reported. To shed light on how the virus evolved, the United States Department of Health and Human Services published the full genome of the 1918 influenza virus on the Internet in the GenBank database.

And now the bad part...

This is extremely foolish. The genome is essentially the design of a weapon of mass destruction. No responsible scientist would advocate publishing precise designs for an atomic bomb, and in two ways revealing the sequence for the flu virus is even more dangerous.

I am fucking sick and tired of We're all going to die! We're all going to die! We're all going to die! [TM, me]. And yet, I can't come up with a cogent argument against their position that I'm happy with. Well there is one thing.

The genome was found by a researcher in the US [unless I'm mistaken] and as some one who performed their research under government grants, they published the genome with the approval of the US Dept. of Health and Human Services. While it would have been possible for the US government to prevent this, doing so would not have prevented anyone else from making the same discovery and publishing the information.

They go on to make feel-good points about international cooperation and things, but the whole premise of the article leaves me uneasy. Isn't it counterproductive to try to advance human understanding, only to restrict access to that knowledge? Somebody help me out here. There has to be a good argument against them. And not a simple slippery slope, because that's not strong enough. Though there is one sentence that I can easilly ridicule.

We realize that calling for this genome to be "un-published" is a bit like trying to gather the horses back into the barn.

No, it's not like that at all. I commend you for trying to step down to the level of us peons and using a phrase that appears to be in the vernacular, but last time I checked it isn't impossible to move horses from outside a barn to inside a barn. This is more like trying to shoot every horse west of the Mississippi. It can't be done. Ok, rant over.


posted by ben on 05.10.24 at 20:50, null, hci, 2 comments Permalink

Graham had an idea I liked. Write a program to save playlists. Load them into iTunes, Winamp, etc. and they play the songs you have on the list. If you happen to be missing a song, it just gets skipped.

I know you could create a lot of different moods by picking from my music collection, but I never get anything coherent since it's always on shuffle. And don't start about how I should listen to every album the whole way through...

comment by collin on 05.10.27 at 20:30
How is this different than, say, the playlists in iTunes now? Do you want something that just creates a playlist from all songs out there, and then iTunes or whatever just plays the ones you have?
comment by graham on 05.10.28 at 19:45
I don't know what iTunes does, because i scoff in the general direction of everything with an "i" in front of its name. Also, iTunes sucks and I hate it.

I'm not suggesting attaching an ID number to every song, though that might actually be fine considering all the crap stored in ID3 tags now, but rather just searching for the song on the computer that most closely matches the song in the playlist. The reasoning for this is there are still no common file naming, tagging, or directory organizing conventions, and thanks to gnutella or whatever everybody used to get their music, we often know next to nothing about the song we have.

And while I'm on this, I'm also a big fan of things (I don't know what they're called but I'm sure there's some name for them) like Amazon's "Customers who bought this title also bought:" lists. If you could train a computer with playlists you make yourself to generate new playlists when given a few tracks to start with, that could be the coolest thing ever.


The Banach-Tarski Paradox

posted by collin on 05.10.23 at 21:25, math, math, Leave a comment Permalink

Instead of finishing up my algebra problem set [though in my defense we were talking about Zorn's Lemma last week] I was looking around for information on the Axiom of Choice [never a good idea], when some page mentioned that the Axiom of Choice implies the Banach-Tarski Paradox. To quote:

First stated in 1924, the Banach-Tarski paradox states that it is possible to dissect a ball into six pieces which can be reassembled by rigid motions to form two balls of the same size as the original.

Like all good paradoxes [Unlike, say, Zeno's which is bad. Note that I didn't say true paradox because the "paradoxness" comes from empirical evidence and logical construction contradicting.] this should make your head hurt a little bit. Saddly, the original paper "Sur la d'composition des ensembles de points en parties respectivement congruentes", Fundamenta Mathematicae, 6, (1924), 244-277, is like it sounds in french, which I don't read. [Though apparently you can get a pdf of it here.] I found what appears to be a good paper which steps throught the proof [and since the internet is effemeral, I'll mirror it here] fairly didactically. I haven't read it through, but maybe this week. Every one should give it a read...


Transparent Aluminum

posted by collin on 05.10.21 at 16:59, nonsense, random, technology, tech, Leave a comment Permalink

Nonplatonic the boingboing aggregator...

The Air Force Research Laboratory's materials and manufacturing directorate is testing aluminum oxynitride -- ALONtm -- as a replacement for the traditional multi-layered glass transparencies now used in existing ground and air armored vehicles.

ALONtm is virtually scratch resistant, offers substantial impact resistance, and provides better durability and protection against armor piercing threats, at roughly half the weight and half the thickness of traditional glass transparent armor, said the lieutenant.

Not being a materials scientist I can't guess how strong it is to static forces as compared to a sudden impact.



posted by scott on 05.10.18 at 21:16, null, 1 comment Permalink

Taking the business class I'm in this semester is one of the best things
I've done in a long time. I'd been interested in business before, had done
a fair amount of reading about it (buying the Economist in airports, reading the Harvard Business Review once in a while if they had it on a plane), but I feel like things are really coming together for me in the way I see business and its role in the world.

If anyone gets a chance to take an MBA class (Marco?), I highly recommend it...

comment by ben on 05.10.23 at 02:07
I have some issues with that. The MBAs I've met are full of buzzwords and leave me wanting kill. The business people I've met, many very recently, who I respect the most, have degrees in random fields unrelated to business. It seems like an intelligent person can pick up the business speak easily, and further that the only point of a business degree is the connections you make. If you can make those elsewhere, then you could spare yourself years of pointless suffering.

Spend your time learning something real... something with facts, applications... something that can be used to make things or come up with novel ideas... It's better than spending your life selling others' ideas... ideas which MBAs usually don't even understand.

If you must embrace business at least do so as an economist. All of us have enough of a math background to comprehend math that mystifies most economics majors (even the graduate students)... do that and at least make a real contribution. Stand on the shoulders of others, but do something of your own as well.

And if you want a lesson on how business works, I think I can explain it easily: nepotism and incompetence. Rarely do things work as they should.


Google Markets.

posted by collin on 05.10.07 at 15:14, technology, tech, 1 comment Permalink

Fingers are amazing...

Any body have anything more substantial to add to this google blog post? [Marco, I'm looking at you.] Reading about prediction markets in general has kinda piqued my interest.

The google post mentions the Iowa Electronic Markets run by the University of Iowa, which is a real money futures market. Can I start one? Will the SEC try to arrerst me? Will there be a bloody shootout? What futures would anyone want to trade if there'e no real money involved?

Seriously some one comment on something...

That damn zeitgeist...

posted by collin on 05.10.07 at 14:25, nonsense, visual, rant, random, 1 comment Permalink

This hasn't happened to me for a while, seeing some one take an idea I had a long time ago and actually finishing the project. It's nothing that amazing, and I can't say whether or not no one else has done it before...

The 'Dodgem Interactive Lighting System' is a patented design that allows lighting to be physically manipulated and repositioned by hand within a totally transparent screen.

Well, if it's patented I guess that means there's no prior art. I wonder if I can find my sketches...

[Note: Damn blog software can't parse the link where I saw this. It was at we-make-money-not-art...]

comment by graham on 05.10.28 at 20:01
Someone please explain to me what this thing actually does. The snippet makes absolutely no sense to me.
Do those puck things shine at stuff ouside the screen?
Is there something conductive on the inside of the screen that lets the pucks receive energy?
Do they move around with magnets or something?

Those six blue LEDs look much less blinding than, for instance, some headlamps I've seen.

Someone say something, lest I think this thing is really stupid.

Virtual Epidemiology.

posted by collin on 05.10.07 at 13:44, science, news, news, Leave a comment Permalink

I thought that the "virus" in World of Warcraft that got mentioned on slashdot twice had the potential to be an extremely valuable source of extensive and easilly parsable epidemiological data. The breif [5 min] piece on NPR mentions that bio-math researcher Nina Fefferman was interrested in looking at the data, but I could find no mention of the project on her page.

One interesting thing that differentiates the virtual data from real world data is that the lattice approximation of the "world" has all the edges from a complete graph glued onto it, since people can teleport which apparently the did and often to densely populated areas. Maybe I'm thinking about this in the wrong way and you can treat teleportation as equivalent to a plane flight, and since people seemed to teleport to cities you can ignore the topological differences between the virtual and a real transportation network.

Information wants to be free, god damn it.

posted by collin on 05.10.07 at 13:00, nonsense, science, random, technology, tech, Leave a comment Permalink

It sounds so funny, yet I can't read it...

Turtles and defense

ACM SIGART Bulletin archive
Issue 82 (October 1982) table of contents
Pages: 23 - 25


At Terrapin, we feel that our two main products, the Terrapin Turtle®, and the Terrapin Logo Language1 for the Apple II, bring together the fields of robotics and AI to provide hours of entertainment for the whole family. We are sure that an enlightened application of our products can uniquely impact the electronic battlefield of the future.

[Edit: Found it. And the ACM doesn't own the copyright, so screw them.]


Life imitates pulp

posted by collin on 05.10.06 at 11:28, nonsense, news, news, random, Leave a comment Permalink

[sarcasm] Of course the Illuminati control the world. How could anyone think differently? [/sarcasm] Some of what is coming up in the trial for the murder of Roberto Calvi sounds like it's straight out of some pulp crime novel. To wit: [from The Independent and the BBC respectively]

The businessman was a banker called Roberto Calvi. His body was discovered at 7.30am on 18 June 1982. Ex-banker would be more accurate, because the day before he died Calvi had been relieved of his duties at Banco Ambrosiano, of which he had been chairman, and his secretary had jumped to her death. The bank was about to collapse with £800m in debts.

He was a devout Catholic, and gained a special place of trust with the Institute for the Works of Religion, the Vatican's bank. But he was also the banker to the Sicilian Mafia. He was also, it is charged, intimately involved in P2, the secret Masonic lodge, "Propaganda Due" (2), which brought together most of Italy's high-flyers in politics, business, the civil service and intelligence (Silvio Berlusconi was a member for a time), to the mutual interest of all.

Five people have gone on trial in Rome charged in connection with the alleged murder of Italian banker Roberto Calvi in London in 1982.

One of them, Pippo Calo, a man known as "the Mafia's cashier", is already serving a life term in jail for unrelated Mafia crimes.

Calvi, dubbed "God's banker" because of his ties to the Vatican, was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge.


My Crazy Uncle, Part 1

posted by graham on 05.10.05 at 14:47, Rants, politics, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

My uncle (on the crazy side of the family, obviously) just sent this link out to the family.

Usually he just sends us crap warning us to sell everything and buy gold because the apocalypse is coming and we'll have to defend ourselves from zombified hippies with our gold-tipped spears. This is just batshit crazy though. Here's an excerpt:

"The purpose of female empowerment is to dissolve the family and to increase our dependence on the media and government, which are both owned and controlled by agents of Illuminist bankers."


Is the EU really that great?

posted by collin on 05.10.03 at 21:14, nonsense, news, news, rant, random, politics, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

Since I listen to NPR almost constantly when I'm in my apartment, and they run News From The BBC at night instead of something interesting, I've been learning more than I ever wanted about EU politics.

[Flame Disclaimer: I may have been pushed to asking these questions by what I'm listening to being good old fashioned sensationalist and biased journalism. That's not a dig at the BBC, all journalism is biased and at least a little sensationalist. Especially anything on the radio at 4 am (London time). And after hurricane Katrina they kept pronouncing it hur-i-can which just annoyed me.]

There seems to be more than a little resistance to the idea of Turkey joining the EU. Two choice sound bites [yeah, yeah, out of context, and these are not direct quotes] the first from a reporter the second from a person on the street in Germany [didn't catch where]...

If you look at Turkey it's too culturally different compared to western Europe [too join the EU].

Yes... And Cyprus is really culturally similar to the UK.

I'm against it. Look at what happened when they let Poland in. The situation is much worse.

Well, that just made me laugh [at Germany not Poland obviously]. To be fair I believe that the second comment was in relation to the impact which occurs when a country a weak economy joins the EU, ie jobs flow the where wages are lower.

Ok, I'll just come out and say it. While there are economic factors to consider there still seems to be an undercurrent of racism in what people are saying.

Not Google OS

posted by collin on 05.10.03 at 18:15, technology, tech, Leave a comment Permalink

EyeOS got mentioned in this thread on /. today. I have to admit that it looks pretty cool, quite polished. And for the paranoid, it's not controled by Google. If I had a server running I'd probably install it and give it a whirl. Basic functionality: calendar, contacts, text edit, file manager, browser. I'm not too sure how secure it is, e.g. does browsing within the eyeOS browser leave traces on the machine you're on?

And some one liked it enough to write a poem... [Can't link or attribute the poem since it was in a publicly editable text file on the eyeOS test site, so back off fuckers]

A Poem about Web-based Applications

How fine it is to go here and yon
and figure out a place to log on
and hello! I got my stuff! 'Tis here!
And nevermore will it be gone.

And now I borrow a windows box
and now a macintosh is in my socks
and it matters not I too use linux
My god, this interoperability rocks!


LeVel Components

posted by collin on 05.10.02 at 21:12, technology, sport, Leave a comment Permalink

An actual splined, no lock ring, fixed hub.

Though it looks a tad heavy, it makes a lot more sense than the splined Miche cogs with adapters. Combine the LeVel and the Chub and you'd have the world's most bitch'n fixey hub. [Except for nonstandard parts...]

posted by ben on 05.10.02 at 01:32, kittens, books, books, Leave a comment Permalink

I could be like Spalding Gray, but I'd rather reach the Fountains of Paradise.

posted by ben on 05.10.02 at 00:35, null, null, Leave a comment Permalink

God help us if my fucking life had some miserable fucking ounce of joy in it... something little say... like being in love. God fucking help us. Make sure that doesn't fucking happen. Stamp it out before it grows... before it can support its own weight... fucking kill it or something good might happen. Thanks for that. It looked like I was going to be happy for a moment.


Somebody's saving me a seat at the Algonquin.

posted by ben on 05.10.01 at 23:47, books, books, Leave a comment Permalink

I guess I posted this already... but I am...
A Telephone Call
For historical purposes...

maybe it's nothing

posted by ben on 05.10.01 at 17:17, puppies, random, Leave a comment Permalink

I wish our society hadn't abolished the duel. Then I could take you out and shoot you under the auspices of defending honor and so forth. It doesn't really matter if it would fix anything... I realize it wouldn't... I don't know... maybe people would be afraid of me in the future. I could duel over all sorts of things. Install a faulty dishwasher in my apartment? You sir have insulted my honor and must pay... bam... No more negligent landlord. Bad restaurant service? Annoying racist remarks about the Irish? Insults about my wardrobe, education, work habits, website, or newfound love of cutting my own hair? All must be answered on the field of honor... I could buy pistols to match my linen shirts until I master the gentleman's art of fencing. I'm thinking a light wood would go well... maple?

darling of new york

posted by ben on 05.10.01 at 02:35, books, art, books, Leave a comment Permalink

"I know I might suffer a lot in later life. So in the meantime I try to avoid art having to do with suffering. Or the human condition."

Benjamin Kunkel, Indecision, pg. 162

can't sleep... drank too much coffee...

posted by ben on 05.10.01 at 02:20, null, food, Leave a comment Permalink

Cowgirl Creamery, Point Reyes
Three Girls Bakery, Seattle


posted by ben on 05.10.01 at 01:15, null, math, Leave a comment Permalink

I'm going to go put my copy of The Elegant Universe in a paper shredder. What the fuck? This is at best a horrid misrepresentation of the inevitable march toward heat death. Do I have to respect him for anything? I think of Adam badmouthing Kaku... which isn't allowed because Michu Kaku is a badass... but Brian Greene? Does he suck? Am I allowed to make fun of him? ... oh crap. He has a PhD from Oxford in string theory. I guess I don't get to make fun of him. Still... that seems to be reading many New Yorkers astray...

"When you drive your car, E = mc² is at work. As the engine burns gasoline to produce energy in the form of motion, it does so by converting some of the gasoline's mass into energy, in accord with Einstein's formula. When you use your MP3 player, E = mc² is at work. As the player drains the battery to produce energy in the form of sound waves, it does so by converting some of the battery's mass into energy, as dictated by Einstein's formula. As you read this text, E = mc² is at work. The processes in the eye and brain, underlying perception and thought, rely on chemical reactions that interchange mass and energy, once again in accord with Einstein's formula."

-Brian Greene, "That Famous Equation and You"
by way of Crooked Timber

posted by ben on 05.10.01 at 01:01, null, puppies, rant, rave, Leave a comment Permalink

stupid blog... no longer obscure enough... no longer a place for passive aggressive anonymous complaint... stupid blog. Ahh... crap... ahh... bah.


Who links to you?

posted by collin on 05.09.30 at 07:45, nonsense, random, technology, 2 comments Permalink

Yahoo Site Explorer [Beta], and it's just what it sounds like. And apparently the only people that link to here are Devin, Alex, Nate, and lots of stupid search aggregators. Though I know it's more than that, so most likely the crawler hasn't gotten enough data yet. Still pretty cool. And you can even save the search as a good old tab seperated text file. It fills me with dreams of writing a crappy internet topology paper...

comment by marco on 05.09.30 at 12:44
My first thought was that this sounds like the Google feature "". This Yahoo Site Explorer seems to do a bit more, though.

But when I tried Google's "" just now, I found something interesting on page 6 of the results:

It's some sort of ISP for schools (in whatever country .na is for), and this is a record of surfing activity. I find it a bit surprising (though maybe I shouldn't) how much porn there is on this list...I guess I assumed kids would be less likely to look at porn at school. I must be too innocent/naive.

Anyway, nonplatonic scores ahead of in volume on the list, which is good (but right below and waaaaaaaaaay below
comment by collin on 05.09.30 at 13:54
The .na domain is Namibia. And the list is ranked by bytes, not hits. Though we apparently got 6 hits from Namibia. The internets are a strange, strange world...


posted by ben on 05.09.28 at 23:44, null, seattle, Leave a comment Permalink

I have now had two people use: "That's city living" to rationalize my lack of a bathroom door, floor, heat, gas range and so forth... Of course, now I have a bathroom door. My favorite though was the landlord: "Explain how it is to young Ben... living in the city." Oh... I'm sorry... I guess living in the styx of downtown Boulder got me used to frivolous things like toilets... things that people in the brave new city have moved beyond with their mystic city powers of sophistication and peeing on the sidewalk.


Model PS-6-26

posted by ben on 05.09.26 at 15:18, null, food, Leave a comment Permalink

(a) Yes, that piece of crap electric range we cooked mussels on is my range.
(b) No, it is not gas.
(c) Yes, I am getting a gas one (as soon as my landlord gets around to putting gas in).

moules marinieres

posted by ben on 05.09.26 at 00:33, null, food, Leave a comment Permalink


I'm building a boat.

posted by collin on 05.09.25 at 20:12, nonsense, art, null, sport, Leave a comment Permalink

I've been meaning to get around to posting some pics of the canoe I'm building. It's a really interesting design by Platt Monfort that uses a frame made from very thin strips of wood, kevlar string as tension bearing members, and then it's all covered in a heat shrink dacron. The model I'm building is called the Sweet Pea Mark 2 [name's a little silly] and is supposed to weigh about 10 lbs when finished. Two things I've been wondering about: I've been thinking of staining the frame a darker color to increase the contrast between the frame and the translucent dacron, and I haven't thought of a name for the boat. Since it's the first boat I've built I figure it should have a name. Thoughts?

I found some art...

posted by collin on 05.09.25 at 16:21, nonsense, art, visual, random, art, Leave a comment Permalink

Seriously, two four by six foot paintings on canvas in the dumpster. I even like them.


I am haunted...

posted by collin on 05.09.23 at 14:55, rant, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

Norman Maclean was haunted by waters [read the book if you haven't], where as I am haunted by something much less poetic: slot-headed undercut coarse thread machine screws. Rolls off the palette doesn't it?

I spent a good part of today looking for a throttle return spring for my Rover. It's not really that complicated. It's just a light gauge torsion coil spring. However four auto parts stores and a harware store had nothing even close. On my travels I looked down at the sidewalk and see this mocking me...

A slot-headed undercut coarse thread machine screw! I once spent about two weeks looking and calling vainly trying to find some of these for my '65 IIA SWB Rover before I orderd some from Rovers North, though they were coarse wentworth thread not coarse SAE or metric thread. I just ended up ordering the spring from Rovers North and though it isn't in stock and should take a while to get here only cost me $1.37... ALL HAIL THE INTERNETS!


14'8", 102 Tons.

posted by graham on 05.09.22 at 22:36, Raves, seattle, 1 comment Permalink

I found one of these stickers in the Bauhaus a few days ago. So awesome.

comment by collin on 05.09.23 at 08:02
We got linked to from boingboing...


You know...

posted by collin on 05.09.21 at 10:02, rant, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

You know what sucks about nicotine gum? You can't inhale it.


posted by ben on 05.09.20 at 21:38, null, seattle, 1 comment Permalink

I realize that being homeless in Pioneer Square probably marks you as insane, but if you say to me "food, money, anything" and I hand you a fucking loaf of bread, I sort of expect you to take it. None of this "I don't eat that." It's not like I gave you kimchi or a tube of wasabi... I gave you a loaf of bread. A fucking loaf of bread. Take the fucking loaf of bread. What the fuck? Why not? It's bread. Eat the fucking bread and don't fucking starve to death. Fuck.

comment by collin on 05.09.20 at 21:55
I yield to your superior ranting skills...

God damn it...

posted by collin on 05.09.20 at 20:19, rant, rant, 2 comments Permalink

Ok, let's say you have some class foo (in C++)

class foo() {
blah blah blah

Why is that semicolon there? Replace "class foo()" with "foo::randomfunction(int)" or "while(I give Stroustrup the finger)" and that semicolon shouldn't be there. It's not to help out the parser. Is it just style, or am I missing something subtle?

comment by ben on 05.09.20 at 22:23
I was going to say something about your post, but I was too angry and covered in Lake Washington water.

I think it's just a style thing. Though I vaguely remember hearing something about compilers requiring it back in the bad old days.


my new place

posted by ben on 05.09.18 at 13:49, null, seattle, 5 comments Permalink

comment by ben on 05.09.19 at 19:20
I tried... my friends made fun of me...
comment by ben on 05.09.26 at 12:39
It's a loft in pioneer square. It seems to be the place to find lofts in Seattle. It's a rental. I know my landlord has a few more of these in the area... try craigslist.

Can I stick a 17 foot long sea kayak in this window?

posted by ben on 05.09.18 at 13:45, null, seattle, 1 comment Permalink

comment by graham on 05.09.19 at 16:51
Heh heh heh....



posted by collin on 05.09.17 at 21:10, nonsense, random, Leave a comment Permalink

A French term for a standing wave phenomenon associated with the reflection of an ocean wave train from a vertical surface, such as a breakwater or pier. A standing wave is a periodic vertical motion of the sea surface that does not propagate horizontally. It can be thought of as being created by the superposition of two identical waves propagating in opposite directions.

[stolen from here]

I have internets.

posted by collin on 05.09.17 at 14:26, nonsense, random, Leave a comment Permalink

The internets-man came yesterday in his internets-truck and it was playing the "Teddybears Picnic" song and he gave me a whole big box full of internets and rainbows and unicorns.


party in the big city

posted by ben on 05.09.15 at 02:17, null, seattle, Leave a comment Permalink

blah blah I went to Thailand. Oh, I was in Thailand too. Did you go to the islands? Yes, I did too. They're beautiful, aren't they... Now stare blankly at one another for several minutes and repeat until I can take it no longer and run down the stairs.

Yes, living in the city is living in the city.

Meanwhile, the artists are starving one floor down. They weren't invited... but the cocaine addicts... they're amusing, interesting, fascinating folk...



posted by ben on 05.09.14 at 03:26, null, seattle, 1 comment Permalink

Is it conceited when Kahimi says it's nice to be a beautiful girl, or is that simply one of those things I'll have to grow to accept? I have the interwebs on my computer, running water and even hot water... and another one of my walls is almost white. I met a painter, an ex .com millionare (real networks) and probably someone else. That guy at Bauhaus makes the best cappuccino the world has ever seen... the foam comes an inch and a half out of the cup.


Razzle Dazzle!

posted by collin on 05.09.12 at 22:20, nonsense, art, visual, random, Leave a comment Permalink



posted by collin on 05.09.08 at 22:33, rant, politics, 2 comments Permalink

I am one degree of separation away from the director of FEMA [probably].

Check it...

Mike Brown [big asshole]
Igor Gamow [owner of a white arabian stallion]
comment by graham on 05.09.09 at 14:49
I just heard on NPR that Mike Brown isn't actually a big asshole, he just put it on his resume to get the FEMA job.
comment by collin on 05.09.10 at 11:49
Ok a few things...

He said he was in charge of emergency management in Edmond, Oklahoma, when it looks like he wasn't. From Time

I could care less if he massaged his resume to look better. The thing that bothers me is the politicizing of important positions in government and giving them to cronies instead of people that have decades of experience. [Devin has stories about his uncle(?) at the EPA] Because who's more qualified to run FEMA than the college roommate of Bush's campaign manager? [Boston Herald]

A better hipster PDA

posted by collin on 05.09.08 at 22:18, nonsense, random, Leave a comment Permalink



More adventures in carbon

posted by graham on 05.09.06 at 22:30, Missleaneus, technology, Leave a comment Permalink

Check it yo!


Salty Whitewater, or Kayaking Boston

posted by collin on 05.09.05 at 18:28, boston, kayak, Leave a comment Permalink

So this is what I saw flying out of Logan to Ohare last week.

[Well not exactly that since I didn't take the picture, arguments about perception and simulacra and all...] It's Paradise Bay in Boston Harbor, and you may be able to tell from the picture it's closed off by a breakwater except for two places which are kicking up a bit of whitewater. [Here's a google maps shot in color and all.] So my thought was, "Well, if I can see it from the plane it might be worth boating."

I went down there today and even though I was delayed and got there an hour before low tide [as opposed to halfway between high and low tides which would have the maximum flow] the southern opening was running at about 800 cfs and the northen at maybe 250 cfs. Unfortunately the bottom at the southern opening is completely man made. It's basically a weir, and as we all know [or should know] weirs equal death. It might be less deadly at a slightly higher tide since the drop wouldn't be as far, but I'm not too hopeful. The northern opening was runnable even when I was there, though it was really boney.

Some back of the envelope calculations give us this...
The radius of the "bay" [it's not really a bay is it] is about 1000 feet. The difference between high and low tide [we all know this varies depending on what phase the moon is in] is about 10 feet. Which mean that about 31 million cubic feet of water flow in or out each low to high [or vice versa] tide cycle [which lasts 6 hours]. Assuming the the flow is constant, or asking what the average flow is we get about 1450 cfs split between the two openings. And since we know that this isn't going to be anywhere close to linear the max flow is most likely going to be much higher.

Hopefully enough to kick up a good surf spot.


Your knife block sucks

posted by graham on 05.09.02 at 04:46, Raves, null, random, art, Leave a comment Permalink

...and so does your blender.

posted by graham on 05.09.02 at 04:13, Raves, technology, Leave a comment Permalink

Who cares if it works well or not. I must have it!


Irrational Actors

posted by anwar on 05.09.01 at 11:05, Economics, rant, 3 comments Permalink
''I heard it was going to go up to $4 a gallon tomorrow and there were going to be shortages, so when I got home from work I kissed my wife goodbye and said I was going out to find gas,'' he said.

And the Environmental Protection Agency said it would temporarily allow gasoline retailers nationwide to sell fuel that does not meet stringent summer air-quality standards.

At least we'll have fewer New Yorkers driving up around here...

Matt McKenzie, spokesman for from AAA-Northern New England, predicted gas prices would hit $3.70 to $3.80 by month's end in that region of the country, causing frugal motorists to begin carpooling, curbing errands and maybe even scaling back fall leaf-viewing trips.

comment by graham on 05.09.02 at 05:10
Oh the humanity! God forbid New Yorkers should have to forgo their leaf-viewing trips!

Note the A.N.W.R. staying very still, hoping that Bush doesn't remember it's still up there.
comment by marco on 05.09.16 at 12:44

Robert and Claire Smith of Rockford, Ill., had planned to take their four children to an amusement park, but the high price of gas kept them from making the drive of over one hour. Instead, they visited both sets of grandparents nearby.

So let's see..."over an hour" probably wouldn't be used for anything over about 75 miles (and that's assuming highway speeds most of the way, which may not be true). We'll assume the grandparents all live very close. With four kids they definitely have an SUV or minivan, so let's say 15 MPG. That works out to 10 gallons for the round trip. The article states that gas prices went up about 75 cents per gallon because of the hurricaine. So they decided to cancel a trip their kids were really excited about because it was going to cost them an additional $7.50. I don't know what amusement park tickets cost these days, but probably at least $80 for a family of 6 and more likely over $100. They probably would have bought food there too, and the gas in the first place was going to cost around $30. So yeah, that extra $7.50 is looking pretty scary.


The Bed

posted by ben on 05.08.30 at 19:46, null, null, 1 comment Permalink
We used to walk down the mall and look longingly into bobo... staring at The Bed. The Bed is the edo bed by haiku designs.
comment by graham on 05.09.02 at 04:09
I'm pretty sure that is the same bed they have in Area 51.


Internets 1, Local Bike Shops 0

posted by graham on 05.08.28 at 20:31, Rants, random, technology, Leave a comment Permalink

Ben and I have searched for Magura brake pads for use with ceramic bicycle rims for years now. We always knew they existed, but people in bike shops claimed that they were either impossible to order (on permanent backorder) or that there was in fact no such thing.
Moreover, when I tried to find a brake line for my Magura Louise disc brake, I found that while nobody had any in stock, they wouldn't even consider ordering one for me.
Enter the internet!

Magura now has an online store where you can purchase supplies and replacement parts for any of their brakes. I was able to purchase the correct line and pads in under 5 minutes, for less than what a shop would have charged (even counting shipping), and I will receive them sooner as well.


Martin Amis and friends visit Robert Graves

posted by graham on 05.08.25 at 16:50, Missleaneus, books, Leave a comment Permalink

- Oh don't worry, I said. Just go on as if he's a god.

Graves seemed baffled but on the whole rather pleased to see us. He was perhaps fractionally diminished from the striding colossus of a few years earlier, but still very straight and head-in-air, the ancient coin of his face quite undulled. I introduced my friends and said,
- I'm sorry about this, Robert, but you must get some very weird people coming to see you these days. Now you're so famous.
- Oh, I do, I do. Some extraordinary people come to see me now. Extraordinary people.
The five of us looked out on the rocky acres - spurs and tors, terraces, arthritic olive trees. Then Rob said to Robert,
- Make that mountain open up.
- What?
- Turn it into a volcano.
- What?
- Go on. You can do it. Make that cloud go away.
- Oh, you're -
- Summon a tidal wave.
- You little -
- Make the moon come out.
- Ooh, you -
- Make the -
And Robert got hold of Rob and roughly tickled him.

- Martin Amis, Experience


posted by ben on 05.08.18 at 12:39, null, technology, Leave a comment Permalink

If there are inner classes, why aren't there inner methods?


Liberty For All

posted by collin on 05.08.15 at 19:20, nonsense, random, 1 comment Permalink

Right wing super heroes! Like a biomechanically enhanced G. Gordon Liddy? This thing is so over the top my mind went from, "This is legit," to "This is satire," and all the way back to "This is legit?" I have no idea if it's satire or not. I don't think I have the skilz to deconstruct the whole synopsis of the comic book, so here are a few fragments. [I have refrained from inserting 'WTF' after each sentence.]

America’s future has become an Orwellian nightmare of ultra-liberalism. Beginning with the Gore Presidency, the government has become increasingly dominated by liberal extremists.

In 2004, Muslim terrorists stopped viewing the weakened American government as a threat; instead they set their sights on their true enemies, vocal American conservatives. On one dark day, in 2006, many conservative voices went forever silent at the hands of terrorist assassins. Those which survived joined forces and formed a powerful covert conservative organization called “The Freedom of Information League”, aka F.O.I.L.

The New York City faction of F.O.I.L. is lead by Sean Hannity, G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North, each uniquely endowed with special abilities devised by a bio mechanical engineer affectionately nicknamed “Oscar”. F.O.I.L. is soon to be joined by a young man named Reagan McGee.

Reagan was born on September 11th, 2001. He is the son of a NYC firefighter whose life was spared by attending his son’s birth. Reagan has grown to manhood in an ultra-liberal educational system: being told, not asked, what to think. With personal determination, which alienates him from his contemporaries, he has chosen the path less traveled…the path to the Right.

Two decades of negotiation with the U.N., and America’s administration of 2021 (President Chelsea Clinton and Vice President Michael Moore), has culminated in a truce with fundamentalist Islamic terrorists, or so America is told. The honorable ambassador from Afghanistan has come to NYC to address the U.N., his name is Usama Bin Laden.

comment by collin on 05.08.15 at 20:02
Apparently there's at least some connection between the comic company and a good old fashioned medication spammer, unless the whois info is bogus. No links to Karl Rove or Republican slush funds have been found yet.


Yay! I'm... wonderful?

posted by graham on 05.08.10 at 13:38, Raves, null, coffee, Leave a comment Permalink


What makes it into the news?

posted by collin on 05.08.09 at 23:46, nonsense, news, rant, politics, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

A US consulate which has been closed for the past ten days due to violence in the city is scheduled to be reopened. Now, I realize that this isn't uncommon, and I know a consulate isn't an embassy. The US embassy in Uzbekistan closed down a few weeks ago [no idea if it reopened], the one in Nepal was closed this past year, and we're apparently closing the embassy in Saudi Arabia for a few days. So why would I be concerned or angry about not hearing we closed some consulate somewhere?

Because it's 2 miles from our border.

From here.

U.S. officials said when announcing the closing of the consulate on July 29 that consular officials were close enough to become alarmed during a shootout the night before in a residential neighborhood that involved automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades.

Over the weekend, the Mexican government began a second phase of a show of force called Operation Secure Mexico, which is aimed at curtailing drug violence.

The government sent as many as 600 more paramilitary police to the city, increased patrols and added checkpoints.

Rocket. Propelled. Grenades.

But you say, "It's not in our country. Our citizens aren't dying." [I can't believe I just wrote that] Well, they are. They just have dark skin.

William Sleamaker's wife, Maria, is looking after Yvette's two daughters. She promised them she would hunt around the world for their mother.

She says she heard the eldest child praying before bedtime.

In her prayers, she said: "God, please bring Mummy back to us just one more time so that we can see her. Even if it's in a coffin."

It's too late for any more indignation, and I don't know what else to say. [And yes I know the quote is a little over the top. Sue me.]

[Edit: Read the above you might get the idea that the Mexican military was using RPGs, it's the cartels. It's like a fucking movie]

Word of the day.

posted by collin on 05.08.09 at 19:46, nonsense, random, Leave a comment Permalink

It's not just a brand of [severely overpriced] skis.


1. Flying or capable of flying.
2. Moving quickly or nimbly; agile.
3. Heraldry. Depicted with the wings extended as in flying.

[Latin volns, volant- present participle of volre, to fly. Sense 3, from French from Old French, present participle of voler, to fly, from Latin volre.]

DIY Espresso Machine Temperature Controller

posted by graham on 05.08.09 at 15:18, coffee, Ideas, Leave a comment Permalink

For all you Vivace wannabes out there, here are two pages talking about installing a PID (whatever that stands for) in home epsresso machines (both happen to be Rancilio Silvias).
Pepe's Silvia - Super slick
Hot Rod Silvia - That big two-color control panel looks sweet!

Have I seen this before?

posted by collin on 05.08.09 at 13:03, math, math, technology, 1 comment Permalink

Oh, the blog milieu! At the very least we were talking about this before.

Currently, computers or robots apply statistical rules to a database of known images to identify new ones. Although relatively effective, this requires thousands of images and hours of training by humans. Peekaboom aims to ease the burden by harnessing the brain power of willing web users.

"The collected data can be applied towards constructing computer vision algorithms, which require massive amounts of training and testing data not currently available," von Ahn told New Scientist. "The target database will contain millions of images, all fully annotated with information about what objects are in the image, where each object is located, and how much of the image is necessary to recognise it."

[via boingboing]

comment by collin on 05.08.09 at 17:33
I should have put a link to the training/game page...



posted by collin on 05.08.08 at 22:40, art, music, music, Leave a comment Permalink

I read an article in the Times a couple months ago [no link because you have to pay for it now, booooo] about a Congolese band Konono No. 1 that came out with a CD [their first?]. Three members of the band plays percusion and three play electric thumb pianos with homemade pickup built from alternator magnets. I was reminded of them by this post on Make today. The BBC show The World has a clip of their music and an interview with the French guy who produced their album. Good stuff. After all who doesn't like afro-punk.

Paul Anka sings Nirvana...

posted by collin on 05.08.08 at 18:41, nonsense, music, random, Leave a comment Permalink

...and Sound Garden and Van Halen and REM? Check out the tracks:

1. It's My Life 8. Jump
2. True 9. Smells Like Teen Spirit
3. Eye of the Tiger 10. Hello
4. Everybody Hurts 11. Eyes Without a Face
5. Wonderwall 12. Lovecats
6. Blackhole Sun 13. Way You Make Me Feel
7. It's a Sin 14. Tears in Heaven

Just strange.


Open Letter to Kansas School Board

posted by collin on 05.08.04 at 12:57, nonsense, science, random, politics, Leave a comment Permalink

A little old but still funny. Snip...

In conclusion, thank you for taking the time to hear our views and beliefs. I hope I was able to convey the importance of teaching this theory to your students. We will of course be able to train the teachers in this alternate theory. I am eagerly awaiting your response, and hope dearly that no legal action will need to be taken. I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the world; One third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence.

I want to punch him in the face...

posted by collin on 05.08.04 at 11:01, visual, rant, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

...and choke him with his stupid bowtie.

So some conceptual artist wants to take a photograph of a room with an exposure of 100 years. [Contrast that to this which was 34 months and actually has content] When did art stop being about creating something and become this masturbatory I-am-so-fucking-clever nonsense? And then I saw this at the end of the interview...

All my conceptual art tends to be pretty long-term. Last year, I attempted to genetically engineer God in a petri dish, with some preliminary success. (I got a lot of help from the genetics laboratory at UC Berkeley, as well as researchers at UC San Francisco and the Smithsonian Institution.) That project is ongoing, through an organization I founded, called the International Association for Divine Taxonomy.

Which involved him playing loops of religious music [gregorian chants, imam calling, etc.] to fruit flys. If your ire isn't significantly raised here's a SFWeekly article about him and breeding God. I could only read the first page.



Hanging stove of espresso goodness.

posted by collin on 05.08.03 at 13:13, nonsense, art, coffee, random, climb, 2 comments Permalink

Just a $1 steel mixing bowl from the thrift store, some brass crimped link chain, and a split ring [ie for keys]. Drill two holes in the bottom; one large and in the center for the stove and one smaller offcenter one for the piezo lighter [once you have the main hole drilled you can put the stove in upsidedown to use it as a guide for the small hole]. Clean up large hole witha conical grinding bit. Drill three equally spaced holes around the rim, throw the chain on and you're good to go.

I'm pleasantly suprised with the camping mini espresso maker, though the first test was a little weak. Maybe a finer grind...

comment by graham on 05.08.03 at 18:19
I've used those espresso makers, and they're awesome, but what is the point of having it hang? And what is the bowl for?
comment by collin on 05.08.03 at 20:57
Well, the bowl spreads out the chain and acts as a wind screen for more efficency. And it hangs so you can use the stove on a rock face, in a tree, on a rocking boat, etc. etc.

How to widen ski boots.

posted by collin on 05.08.03 at 11:57, nonsense, random, ski, Leave a comment Permalink

I don't recomend this to any one who minds possibly destroying their boots. I needed to significantly strech both sides of both boots. If you need just a small adjustment to boot fit talk to a shop.

Purchase a wooden shoe strecher several sizes larger than your shoe size (I wear an 8 and got one for ~size 12 shoes). Then cut hand screw in half so it actually fits in the shell of your boots.

Put the strecher into one of the boots, use pliers to turn the now cut hand screw, while heating the parts you want to strech with a large hair dryer (mine is 1250 Watts). When done throw the shell in cold water to stiffen up the plastic again. I did this to my left boot to test the process and it did strech it. Now to see if it streched it enough...

Bleu Bistro (Supperclub?)

posted by graham on 05.08.03 at 00:22, seattle, Leave a comment Permalink

To be filed under "Restaurants that suck."


from my forthcoming work of genius

posted by ben on 05.07.30 at 18:50, null, on writing, Leave a comment Permalink

“Self deprecation is one of your least attractive traits.”
“But it’s the only thing that makes me funny.”
“You aren’t funny.”
“I know.”

Bootstrapping Training Data

posted by ben on 05.07.30 at 17:06, null, math, math, Leave a comment Permalink

Have any of you seen anything like this?

I'm thinking it'd be cool to take a supervised set (indicators and labels) and an unsupervised set (indicators) and try to generate a larger supervised set by clustering. It seems really easy, but I can't find any papers. Clearly there are overfitting issues, so maybe the value added isn't that great... but if you could use independent algorithms maybe you could get a boosting effect and drive the misclassified bootstrapped examples to zero... yes? maybe?


Get Rich Slow Schemes

posted by ben on 05.07.29 at 17:42, null, null, math, 1 comment Permalink
Phone Browser Portal

It could run on server end or could function as a portal to garner traffic. It would store cookies for different devices. For simple phone browsers, it'd be easiest to strip out all the tags and pictures. For real browsers, it would be good to resize the page to the browser windows. If the browser supports horizontal scrolling, it might be best to keep the page at 800 or 1024. Surely this already exists... right?

Time Series Stock Analysis

Pick a stock with a steady mean but high variance over a small period. First, do the math to see if given trade times and overhead, it's even possible to make this work. If so, throw all the weka stuff at random walks, biased random walks, data, new data and finally the real world. I need a book on time series. SVM regression is for sisses.

Network Flow

latency is a function of bandwidth, latency-1 and load. There is a vicious cycle in that as load increases with a constant bandwidth, latency goes to infinity... assuming multiple entry points. Of course, I'm picturing this on a highway, not a LAN, so the wired metaphor may mean nothing.

As traffic increases, the speed at which it travles must increase to hold the time to arrival constant... or something close to that. I need a book on network flow.

comment by ben on 05.07.30 at 19:06
What I was trying to say:

As traffic increases, the throughput must increase to hold travel time constant. But, the system resolves the stress by stopping moving, not correcting.

Usually systems react to stress in a way that reduces said stress. A rubber band distributes load in this way. With the traffic, however, the opposite happens. The systems reacts to the stress in a way that increases the stress.



posted by collin on 05.07.28 at 12:53, nonsense, random, Leave a comment Permalink

Do I need an EEG? Right now it's only $50 (and yes I saw it on boingboing).



posted by collin on 05.07.24 at 21:21, nonsense, random, 1 comment Permalink


You are in a bookshop or a record shop. You find something that interests you. You can't decide whether to buy it now or online later. What you need is a price check and a quick review, perhaps some ideas of something similar that others might recommend. Amabuddy can help! Grab a book off your shelf and try it!

To use amabuddy first locate the ISBN number on the back of the book or inside the book on first few pages.

With CDs the number is on the back above the barcode. Next, dial the above number, and follow instructions. To enter 'X' in an ISBN number use the # key.

You can return to this site at any time, and enter your phone number and get bookmarks of what you looked at whilst in the shop. Add Amabuddy to your phonebook, and never pay too much for books or music again!

The only part that bothers me is the last part, since there's no password involved. But besides that it's a very cool and free service.



posted by collin on 05.07.12 at 17:15, nonsense, random, 1 comment Permalink
comment by graham on 05.07.19 at 01:34
Now this would be a worthy cafepress design.


Crazy Japanese Tourists...

posted by collin on 05.07.11 at 16:12, nonsense, random, Leave a comment Permalink

Just overhead on NPR...

posted by collin on 05.07.11 at 15:53, nonsense, news, news, rant, random, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

"To quote Bob Dylan, 'You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.' And Bill Moyer's show is liberal advocacy journalism."

That was Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, Republican head of the CPB (I think I got the quote right, but it might not be). Seriously my head exploded. Socially conservative Republicans are quoting Dylan, it's a sign of the apocolypse.

From an AP article.

Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, a Republican, has come under fire in recent months for complaining about "Now with Bill Moyers" - saying the television show's "left-wing bias" was unhealthy and jeopardized support for public broadcasting. Moyers has since left the show.

Tomlinson's hiring of GOP lobbyists and a consultant to track the political leaning of guests on Moyers' show also has raised the ire of Democratic lawmakers and public-interest groups, and it is the subject of an investigation by the corporation's inspector general.

Free as in Gawker

posted by ben on 05.07.11 at 12:13, null, technology, boston, Leave a comment Permalink

I was just incredibly rude to Stallman. He was sitting outside 1369 where he was jealously protecting a swarm of unoccupied chairs. He was wearing glasses, so I thought he was merely a Stallman lookalike, someone with the character of Gimli, not the warrior prince himself.
“Can I have that chair?”
“No, I’m saving it for them.” He points at two women who appear totally uninterested in RMS.
“Of course you are.” And I stalked off to sit on a bus bench next to the lunatics.

Later a chair freed up, but it was near him. I sat anyway and endured the chatter sarcastically.
“You copy recipes to index cards and then use them. Sometimes you change the recipes and sometimes you even write those changes down. If you have a good one, you might pass it to a friend. They can change it and pass it on again. This is how software should be…”

This elicits blank stares from his followers. They seem to be law students and journalism majors. I think I’m the only one in listening range who knows what he’s getting at.

“The four freedoms… real free software obeys the four freedoms… blah blah blah.” It’s about this time the sinking feeling sets in. I’m thinking thoughts like: “Maybe he’s a professional Stallman impersonator. Professional Stallman impersonator? Elvis maybe, but who going to go to Vegas to see Stallman live… shit… I was rude to Stallman… shit.

And later, with Collin, we’ve got three freedoms:
1: Free as in beer.
2: Free as in speech.
3: Free as in bikes.

RMS pauses a bit to let his wisdom seep in. Then he starts again…
“There’re a lot of free software licenses out there.”
“There’re called copyleft, right?” says a foolish law student.
“The only truly free one is the one I wrote, called the GPL.”

With this my heart sinks. Shit. It is Stallman. He takes off his glasses and I go shit again. He is fucking Stallman. Then the bastard pivots his head like that girl in that horror movie and smirks blindly at me. Crap. I was rude to Stallman.

RMS empties a shopping bag of pulp sci fi onto the table and I go off to get some mango juice…


Spinach, Goat Cheese and Shallot Quiche

posted by ben on 05.07.10 at 01:38, null, food, Leave a comment Permalink

Collin made the quiche, I did the crust.

There are 2. Each one has:
~1/3 a stick of butter
~1 cup of heavy cream
1.5 eggs
~1/4 stick of chevre


Artichoke with Spinach Souffle

posted by ben on 05.07.08 at 18:59, null, food, Leave a comment Permalink

It rose. It just wanted to be in an artichoke.


posted by graham on 05.07.08 at 14:17, null, Ideas, 4 comments Permalink

Does anyone have any portable CD players they don't want anymore? I need at least one for an idea I've been contemplating. Actually there are two things I want to try. The only requirement is that they work. Oh, and it would help if you don't want money for them.

comment by ben on 05.07.08 at 18:32
Could you use computer cd drives instead? What is this for?
comment by graham on 05.07.09 at 12:50
They need the clip on spindle thing, not a tray. And normal 1/8" audio and power jacks would make things easier. I want to make a cd player smaller. Here's a crappy picture I whipped up:

The large red circle is the spindle, the small cirle is the laser, and the green line is whatever it slides on. I didn't put the motor or batteries in. Damn I need AutoCAD on my laptop...
comment by ben on 05.07.09 at 13:24
I've wondered about doing that before. It seems like that'd be really cool for laptops where you rarely use the cd player, so the inconvenience of a deadly piece of spinning plastic wouldn't be terrible.

Oohhh.. They should put those on iShuffles. Stick a cd on your spindle thing and rip it in a few seconds... That'd be so cool.

What's the second thing?

comment by graham on 05.07.09 at 14:28
Homebrew B&O-style wallmount cd changer. Only it would be ghetto-rigged so you plug the audio jack into the player holding the cd you want to listen to.


I want to go to Chez Panisse

posted by ben on 05.07.07 at 22:27, null, food, Leave a comment Permalink

And not one of them could cook a fucking vegetable.

Fergus Henderson, the grand master of blood and guts cookery, shows more respect for the simple side of sauteed baby spinach on some of his plates than any of these deluded vegans showed me in ten elaborate courses. Green salads were dressed hours before being served, ensuring that they had wilted into nutrition-free sludge. The knife work - even from the cooking teachers present - was clumsy and inept, resembling the lesser efforts of younger members of the Barney Rubble clan. The vegetables - every time - were uniformly overcooked, underseasoned, nearly colorless, and abused, any flavor, texture, and lingering vitamin content leeched out. Painstaking re-creations of 'cheese', 'yogurt' and 'cream' made from various unearthly soy products tasted, invariably, like caulking compound, and my hosts, though good-humored and friendly to the hostile stranger in their midst, seemed terrified, even angry, about something nebulous in their pasts. Every time I asked on of them how and when exactly they had decided to forgo all animal products, the answer always seemed to involve a personal tragey or disappointment unrelated to food.

-Anthony Bourdain, A Cook's Tour, pg. 239

Taco Pie with Inferior Quality Shrimp Paste

posted by ben on 05.07.07 at 22:00, null, food, pizza, Leave a comment Permalink

Blanch the tomatoes. So much less wasteful...


posted by ben on 05.07.07 at 21:58, art, books, art, books, Leave a comment Permalink

I am thinking of moving my commune to Siberia. We will invite Wallace and his new girlfriend, Delia. She is from Alaska and probably knows everything about wild cold and wilderness situations. Wallace and Delia could figure out how to make iced coffee igloos for us to live in. We'll call them "coffeegloos." Everbody might have a hard time sleeping because the coffeegloos' walls give of a ceffeine-laced aura, so we could tell ghost stories. We'd listen to the wind whir and the coyotes howl and wear those cool fur hats with the flaps on the ears. Probably Wallace and Shrimp will have to learn to ice fish even though they're vegetarians. Survival is key. They will sit at the hole in the ice for hours and hours, not talking but most likely communicating telepathically. Delia and I will dance around the coffeegloos while they are gone and listen to our voices echo at the crests of the plains. I'm fairly sure no one else I know will want to visit my commune in Siberia, but that will give us a chance to get to know the natives better. They will teach us how to make borscht and tell us about the olden days, when Siberia housed Stalin's prison camps. We won't be scared.

-Rachel Cohn, Gingerbread, pg. 36

Is honey vegan?

posted by ben on 05.07.07 at 21:40, null, food, Leave a comment Permalink

Vegans are funny:

Honey was prohibited for use by vegans according to the 1944 manifesto of the British Vegan Society (veganism's founding organization), a position consistent with the requirement for full (vegan) membership in the American Vegan Society since its inception in 1960.

-Jo Stepaniak, Grassroots Veganism

the razor's edge

posted by ben on 05.07.07 at 21:10, null, food, pizza, Leave a comment Permalink

Turns out the tip of the knife is good for scoring the bottoms of tomatoes before you blanch them. I just added inferior quality shrimp paste to my marinara...


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…

Bram had one good idea, then much stupidity.

posted by ben on 05.07.07 at 12:52, null, technology, 2 comments Permalink

I’m staring at 3 dead torrents. The liveliest of the three is toast at 2.8%. I think part of the problem is that seeding a video torrent is expensive, at least on a laptop. These are all in the 5-10gig range, so I delete them as I watch.

There has to be a better way to do this.

Azereus allows some granularity in how the downloads go. The stupid thing is that when you open a torrent, it claims disk space for the full size of all the files. So now I have a bunch of 350mb files sitting on my drive with maybe 2mb (apparently a torrent block size) of data in each. Some have nothing. And I’m thinking this is really stupid… but easy to fix. In fact, the crap crippled default torrent client allocates disk space as it needs it.

So, that would help… but still not fix the toasted torrents issue.

Here’s my stupid, ill-conceived idea: many different torrent files passed around for the same torrent. The really naïve way to do this would be a header with the torrent information and then a block or two of actual data. But, then you’d need a few thousand people on your network to put together a file.

What if you hash the file a bunch of different ways? Could you compress the mess in such a way that it could be put together from a bunch of different pieces?

First hash it like this:
f(file, 0) = t_0
f(file, 1) = t_1
f(file, 2) = t_2

But, construct the hash in such a way that you only need two pieces. Something like avalanche.
g(t_0, t_1) = file
g(t_1, t_2) = file
g(t_0, t_2) = file

Of course, it'd be even cooler if the torrent took advantage of audio/video compression. As you collect more pieces, you get a better version:
g(t_0) = low resolution file
g(t_0, t_1) = file

It’s like an error correcting code, but cool. You still need a whole bunch of peers, but if a single piece dies, you’re no longer screwed. Seeders could select how much space they wanted to devote to seeding. The more space, the quicker they could reconstruct the whole if they want it.

This solves two problems. First, the issue of small parts of a file going out of print is no longer crippling. Second, I don’t have to devote 8gig to storage space.

comment by graham on 05.07.07 at 14:47
This sounds basically the same as the system of parity files newsgroup distrobutions used to (and maybe still do?) use.

I don't think this would be a good enough solution to the problem of people not seeding long enough. I imagine people would just download enough of the pieces to create a complete file, and hop off the torrent then.
comment by ben on 05.07.07 at 14:57
It's kind of like a RAID style parity check. One difference is you want to generate new blocks on the fly (probably with some information theoretic motivation)... something like avalanche's linear combinations... The other difference is that you want to be able to get different quality versions of the file depending on how much information you have.

It would help with the bad seeder problem somewhat, because individual pieces of data wouldn't be scarce. Right now they try to combat that by transferring the rarest piece, but you could do better by synthesizing a rarer piece to get the most bang for your bit.

If people download more than they upload, P2P can't work. The idea with this would be to minimize what someone needs to upload.



posted by ben on 05.07.06 at 23:42, null, food, Leave a comment Permalink

You smell like a spinach souffle. You even taste like one. Why won't you rise like one too?

Using baking soda would be cheating, right?

spit on a stranger

posted by ben on 05.07.06 at 15:48, null, null, Leave a comment Permalink

If you find yourself on the fourth floor of an apartment building with your head sticking out a window and a mouth full of water, I suggest you spit. You will be rewarded for your efforts with a collection of rapidly receding droplets moving away at expedientially increasing velocity.

Chocolate Hazelnut Meringue Souffle

posted by ben on 05.07.06 at 13:19, null, food, Leave a comment Permalink

Like a cupcake, only it tastes good...

Goat Cheese Gnocchi, Artichoke

posted by ben on 05.07.06 at 13:13, null, food, Leave a comment Permalink

Whole Wheat Pizza, Shallots, Wine...

posted by ben on 05.07.06 at 13:12, null, food, pizza, 2 comments Permalink

comment by graham on 05.07.06 at 17:11
It looks like a taco pie, back before they were outlawed.
comment by ben on 05.07.06 at 17:24
I think I'm happy I don't know what that is. Because the idiot monkey children had flooded the basement, I was late getting this out of the oven and it burned... It still tasted good though...

Whole Wheat Tortillas, Salsa, Potato, Avacado...

posted by ben on 05.07.06 at 13:11, null, food, Leave a comment Permalink

Chocolate Hazelnut Meringue Tart Thing

posted by ben on 05.07.06 at 13:10, null, food, Leave a comment Permalink


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 by graham on 05.07.06 at 00:48
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.
comment by ben on 05.07.06 at 12:13
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.
comment by graham on 05.07.07 at 15:09
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.
comment by ben on 05.07.07 at 15:15
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.

pad thai

posted by ben on 05.07.05 at 15:31, null, food, Leave a comment Permalink

I came so close to getting the rice stick noodles for pad thai right... and then I burned them. The trick: don't soak them in hot water for 8-12 minutes like the directions say. Soak them in warmish water for maybe 5 minutes, then put them in a pan with a whole bunch of chili oil so they don't stick together. Then don't burn them.


posted by ben on 05.07.05 at 14:44, null, on writing, boston, Leave a comment Permalink

"I see you all the time. I saw you twice last week at Harell's."
"That's because I live..."

And she was off, before I could finish speaking. I only had time to look up from my beloved Amis, stare in awe at her all white clothing, thinking this is someone I could get along with, before she was gone. I'll sit hopefully at Harell's until the end of time.

Why did she run off? Were my eyes sizing her up too harshly? Did I not speak with the hipster groan I've been working on? Were my teeth too stained with coffee or did my beard-thing look too scary up close?

Later the regret started to sink in. A week of Allston coffee shop culture and all I have is this pile of unfinished novels, unstarted novels and oblique Amis references.

The only person I've formed a lasting bond with is some obese, insane, and possibly homeless woman who spent an hour folding and unfolding a girl scout uniform, before leveling her ass at me. She farted at me, then went back to setting the brown uniform out and refolding it.


7 billion crabs brand fish sauce

posted by ben on 05.07.04 at 18:19, food, boston, 1 comment Permalink

Maybe I should have realized when I couldn’t find any curry other than a bottle labeled “Curry Powder, product of China” and another label “Madras Curry, product of China” in the entire fucking supermarket. But no, I kept looking. Gave up on the curry, bought a bottle of inferior quality pad thai sauce… also a product of China… some inferior shrimp paste, chili oil and even some fish sauce that doesn’t seem right. I was given the choice between two and three crabs brands. I chose three because increased multiplicity in crabs is desirable.

Several tablespoons of pad thai sauce later I have something that tastes vaguely of tamarind. For once I can taste the tamarind, probably because the sauce has nothing else in it. Adding shrimp paste does nothing. I try a bit of shrimp paste alone. It tastes like corn oil. A sniff of my inferior brand chili oil gives the same result.

Not being able to say for sure, I suspect the Super 88 is a Chinese supermarket masquerading as an Asian supermarket… There doesn’t seem to be a sashimi section. The extreme lack of curry options, or the usual varied selection of pad thai sauces… only one kind of frozen shumai… The only mochi are filled with jelly… picture me looking sadly, rather like something lost and cuddly, at a mere shelf of mochi covered products.

I got pocky. I’m going to eat an entire package, well packet, alone. I’ll perch on the roof while the idiot monkey children set the world on fire.

McSweeney's on the 1812 Overture

posted by ben on 05.07.04 at 00:21, music, music, Leave a comment Permalink

And you are left, spent, sweating, lying on the floor of your apartment with a pain in your shoulder from conducting just a little too vigorously during the last cannon part. But it was worth it. And now, of course, there are no fireworks, but you can still feel the breeze from that hillside and imagine that your parents are just yards away, packing up their instruments and jingling the car keys to say, let's go home.

-Whitney Pastorek, "Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture"


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.

on the fundamental properties of pizza

posted by ben on 05.07.03 at 23:31, null, null, food, pizza, Leave a comment Permalink

Let the yeast rise... still they rise... kill the little bastards before they eat everything tasty in the dough.

Roast the garlic. Then you can get away with putting nearly as much garlic in as tomato...

Even a really crappy bottle of cabernet goes a long way toward saving an ineptly created sauce... and you get 2 bottles for $12... A little for the sauce...

Fresh mozzarella, shallots. Well, maybe shallots don't belong on pizza, but I've been converted.

David Bowie in Portuguese and singing along to songs about a middle aged gay man's love life and clowns... verb. clause. stuff.

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.

like butter

posted by ben on 05.07.03 at 17:39, null, food, Leave a comment Permalink

I'm nearing a universal theory of food. Brownies are not all that unlike pudding, or pizza for that matter. Add eggs, remove flour, replace yeast with baking soda... slight modifications to the fundamental recipe of all cooking... give all food. First, a unifying theory of things that go in the oven. Second: Unifying theory of the oven, refrigerator, and freezer. Finally: A grand unified theory of food, unifying the fundamental forces of heated and cooled food, range food, fresh food, and fermented food.

Also, brownies are odd when the have several times a suggestible amount of baking powder in them... but they come out fine after baking. I made meringue.

Where North Beach is North End

posted by ben on 05.07.03 at 17:37, null, food, boston, 2 comments Permalink

There are cafes here, but they're the sit with friends (who are in Boulder or don't answer their phones) and talk variety, as opposed to the sit alone and meet people variety, as opposed to the sit alone at your laptop variety. There's cannoli, pizza, gelato, espresso, and probably some decent pasta too.

How has no one mentioned this before? You all suck. Oohh Oooh, let's all eat at some food court in the Prudential Center... yay! Also, there's nothing in the financial district... except for the Quincy Market... minor consideration that it is.

comment by anwar on 05.07.05 at 11:39
Yeah, The Financial District sucks ass - nothing to do. Quincy Market, my god, you're scraping the bottom of the barrel if you end up there..ugh.
comment by ben on 05.07.05 at 11:48
They had $1 pineapples.



posted by ben on 05.07.02 at 01:11, null, food, Leave a comment Permalink

I remember something in Bicycling or maybe Mountain Bike Action rating bike mechanics on the quantity of bike parts destroyed beyond repair by attempted repairs. I think the worst I've ever done is destroy a piece of housing or explode a tube if you exclude things we pulled from the garbage and then cut apart... maybe I'm forgetting something... I think you can do a similar thing with food... only thing is flour, eggs and sugar are all cheap and I have yet to destroy a $30 steak, though give me time and I'll do in a nice piece of salmon...

the young plastic woman

posted by ben on 05.07.02 at 00:59, books, books, Leave a comment Permalink

Why is it harder to leave a loveless marriage than a loving one? Because a loveless marriage is born of desperation, while a loving one is born of choice...

-Erica Jong, How to Save Your Own Life, pg. 5


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...

not great, but good

posted by ben on 05.07.02 at 00:54, books, books, Leave a comment Permalink
I Sleep With

I sleep with double pillows since you're gone.
Is one of them for you--or is it you?
My bed is heaped with books of poetry.
I fall asleep on yellow legal pads.

Oh the orgies in stationery stores!
The love of printer's ink & thick new pads!
A poet has to fall in love to write.
Her bed is heaped with papers, or with men.

I keep your pillow pressed down with my books.
They leave an indentation like your head.
If I can't have you here, I'll take cold type--
& words: the warmest things there are--
but you.

      -Erica Jong, How to Save Your Own Life, pg. 294



posted by nate on 05.07.01 at 23:31, technology, Leave a comment Permalink

I welcome myself and link to myself, shamefully.

"But, shouldn't music be enjoyable?"

Also, to satisfy our growing readership's thirst for the useless but O!-so portable:

Pass over it in silence on the go.

the way of commercial mixing

posted by ben on 05.07.01 at 23:21, null, food, 4 comments Permalink
comment by graham on 05.07.01 at 23:37
The one on the left. The flip up motor version is all-around easier to use than the fixed motor, up/down bowl style, in my experience. However there may be some benefit to having a moving bowl that I am unaware of.
comment by ben on 05.07.02 at 00:10
...but the handheld ones can mix 200 quarts...
comment by graham on 05.07.02 at 00:22
That's 50 gallons if my memory serves me. I'll remember that next time I need to mix up my barrel of mocha from Paris on the Platte. (oh shit, how many shots are in that?!)
comment by ben on 05.07.02 at 00:32
(2 pints = 1 quart) => (400 pints = 200 quarts)

2 shots to a pint means 800 shots.

10 grams of caffeine is supposed to be lethal. According to the owner of Vivace, there are 280mg in a shot. So, the barrel of coffee has 224g. Assuming you could somehow down the barrel of mocha, it would kill you 22 times over.

Yay for arithmetic!


posted by ben on 05.07.01 at 23:16, null, food, Leave a comment Permalink

It's very hard to make meringue by hand. I may forgo the luddite route and get an electric mixer... of course, then I'd want a cool one, so maybe not.

I made chocolate hazelnut pudding. Adding thickening agents is a bad idea... best to let it do its own thing.

I now understand why you poach meringue. If you put meringue on top of your pudding and then put that in the oven, the pudding turns to soup. This can be problematic.

I'm almost done with London Fields. Unrelatedly, I think my hands are going to be sticky until the end of time. Why, oh why won't someone hurry up and give me a job?

All things are impermanent

posted by anwar on 05.07.01 at 11:09, Economics, null, Leave a comment Permalink

Perhaps one day even the butterflies will make it to the top of Samanala Kanda.

BTW. He'll get to appoint 2.

Koch Messer

posted by ben on 05.07.01 at 00:21, null, food, Leave a comment Permalink

I've been obsessing over Kitchen Confidential lately.

There's no steel here to make the crap knives deadly sharp. Instead, I've been rubbing them together like the butcher in Delicatessen. I've been rewarded for my diligence. While drying the undersized chef's knife, it cut a hole in a dishtowel. The edge isn't smooth, but it's sharp.

What does it mean?

posted by ben on 05.07.01 at 00:02, music, music, Leave a comment Permalink
Looking for Astronauts

We're out looking for astronauts, looking for astronauts
We're out looking for astronauts, looking for astronauts
It's a little too late, too late, too late for this
Isn't it a little too late for this
Little too late, too late for this
Isn't it a little too late for this
-The National

"The Fire Show" and then "The Arcade Fire..." stupid indie hipster people can't come up with novel band names...


read more books

posted by ben on 05.06.30 at 23:05, art, art, Leave a comment Permalink

I think even I'd be better at fetish photography than whoever is responsible for this dehumanizing anti-erotic catastrophe.

stolen from boingboing

Has anyone else noticed how Xeni does all the sex posts? I wonder how all the boingboing people are related. I remember reading it back when it was Mark and Cory, thinking how much it sucked, and then not looking at it again for a few years... until about the time of Down and Out. I think the golden age of boingboing may have passed 6 months ago or so. We're going to be big (or small). The important thing is we're going.


posted by ben on 05.06.30 at 22:26, null, food, 2 comments Permalink

I've been making pizza. The crust is good with whole wheat and honey and ends up looking like I suspect a pizza crust should.

The sauce consists of tomatoes, olive oil, shallots, roasted garlic, oregano, and tonight I threw in some chili peppers. It still tastes really, really bland. I'm thinking maybe the tomatoes aren't ripe enough and I need some cabernet. Am I missing something? I want to make pizza like that place in Cambridge does. Their sauce is spicy and tastes strongly of tomato in a way mine does not. I suspect they use paste.

There will be pictures once my camera cable shows up. That and I may have to go buy a whisk... poached meringue.

comment by graham on 05.07.02 at 00:28
Red wine + assloads of garlic
comment by ben on 05.07.02 at 01:08
Wine then... I don't think the sauce can sustain any more garlic.


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...

Jury Service

posted by ben on 05.06.30 at 12:50, books, books, Leave a comment Permalink

Welcome to the fractured future, at the dusk of the twenty-first century.

Earth has a population of roughly a billion hominids. For the most part, they are happy with their lot, living in a preserve at the bottom of a gravity well. Those who are unhappy have emigrated, joining one or another of the swarming densethinker clades that fog the inner solar system with a dust of molecular machinery so thick that it obscures the sun. Except for the solitary lighthouse beam that perpetually tracks the Earth in its orbit, the system from outside resembles a spherical fogbank radiating in the infrared spectrum; a matrioshka brain, nested Dyson orbitals built from the dismantled bones of moons and planets.

The splintery metaconsciousness of the solar-system has largely sworn off its pre-post-human cousins dirtside, but its minds sometimes wander nostalgiawise. When that happens, it casually spams Earth's RF spectrum with plans for cataclysmically disruptive technologies that emulsify whole industries, cultures, and spiritual systems.

A sane species would ignore these get-evolved-quick schemes, but there's always someone who'll take a bite from the forbidden Cox Pippin. There's always someone whom evolution has failed to breed the let's-lick-the-frozen-fencepost instinct out of. There's always a fucking geek who'll do it because it's a historical goddamned technical fucking imperative.

Whether the enlightened, occulting smartcloud sends out its missives as pranks, poison or care-packages is up for debate. Asking it to explain its motives is roughly as pointful as negotiating with an ant colony to get it to abandon your kitchen. Whatever the motive, humanity would be much better off if the Cloud would evolve into something so smart as to be uninterested in communicating with meatpeople.

But until that happy day, there's the tech jury service: defending the earth from the scum of the post-singularity patent office.

-Charles Stross and Cory Doctorow, Jury Service

Also, here

Google vs Nasa

posted by graham on 05.06.30 at 01:10, Ideas, technology, 11 comments Permalink

So google released Google Earth on tuesday... Has anyone tried it out yet? I haven't had the chance yet, but I'm kind of curious because it looks exactly the same as NASA's WorldWind.

comment by ben on 05.06.30 at 15:35

I installed both because I have nothing better to do. Getting google to work was a pain in the ass and it's only a week trial. The google version grabs stuff from online... it doesn't seem like the nasa one does. So, google has the potential to grow and the text search is pretty cool. I could actually imagine this data replacing google maps with the maps data over this data.

I don't see the point of charging for this. A search engine built around physical location would be cool instead. Google seems to be forgetting its roots with the ever more cluttered interfaces. First that google personalized thing, now this. I guess gmail was never simple.

The topological data in google is cool. NASA may have it, but it's hard to tell because the heights aren't orders of magnitude greater than in reality.


Classic SOM Design

posted by anwar on 05.06.29 at 07:31, Engineering, null, 1 comment Permalink

Now this is an excellent design. Clean lines, tall, elegant. (Contrast with the previous Superman II Ice-fortress design).


comment by graham on 05.06.29 at 22:35
It sounds like they spent about 30 seconds coming up with a name for the building.


Random Phone Cam Stuff

posted by graham on 05.06.28 at 15:30, Photos, random, Leave a comment Permalink

In case of thermonuclear war:

posted by graham on 05.06.28 at 15:21, Photos, null, Leave a comment Permalink

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.


The secret word is "Asinine"

posted by anwar on 05.06.27 at 15:46, Economics, null, 47 comments Permalink

Apparently this group pickets the funerals of soldiers (chosen at random?) in protest of the tolerance of homosexuality (that is tolerance by American culture, not the particular dead soldier).

MGM vs. Grokster

posted by marco on 05.06.27 at 11:06, computers, in the news, technology, Leave a comment Permalink

The U.S. Supreme Court decided the MGM vs. Grokster case today in favor of MGM. So what does this mean?

My first thought was that this is A Very Bad Thing. This case has been in the works for quite some time now, and I've always sided with the geeks against the content cartel. But it's interesting to take a look at the actual court opinion. I read most of it, and I was both surprised by some of the facts I learned and hit by how reasonable the opinion is. (I haven't yet read the concurring opinions of Ginsburg or Breyer.)

The main argument in favor of Grokster that has stuck in my mind the last few months is that the 1984 Sony Betamax case should apply here because the tool (software in this case, hardware in the Betamax case) has "substantial non-infringing uses" and the company that merely makes the tool can't be held liable for the uses it is put to by the various and sundry characters who use it.

The problem is that the Betamax case isn't really relevant here. There are some nit-picking legal reasons why not that are described in the opinion, but the one that stands out for me is the following: it's clear that Grokster and StreamCast (which distributes Morpheus) are NOT merely the makers of an impartial tool that could be used for evil, but rather they actively promoted, encouraged, and sought the illegal distribution of copyrighted works using their software. They actively courted former Napster users, promising them both implicitly and rather explicitly that the copyrighted works they found on Napster would abound on Grokster/Morpheus. They responded to emails from users asking how to acquire and play copyrighted material, helping those users in quite direct ways. And they also had plenty of internal communication that shows they saw distribution of copyrighted materials as the core use of their software. StreamCast's CTO even said at one point "[t]he goal is to get in trouble with the law and get sued. It's the best way to get in the new[s]."

If you're wondering about this case and its result, I encourage you to read the opinion. It was enlightening for me--I realized this wasn't just a case about openness and technology vs. stifling innovation. If you think that mass distribution of copyrighted songs/movies isn't or shouldn't be illegal, that's one thing, but short of that it seems to me that the Supreme Court hit the nail on the head when it said that Grokster and Streamcast are in the wrong.

What we need now is for a truly impartial filesharing system to become popular and have more substantial actual non-infringing use...


What Underemployed Engineers do for fun...

posted by anwar on 05.06.22 at 07:27, Engineering, null, 15 comments Permalink

(Shamelessly stolen from boingboing)

Sunnyvale traffic signal prankster on the loose

Police in Sunnyvale are keeping an eye out for a highly skilled and frustratingly elusive prankster who has been tampering with the city's traffic lights...

Don't Buy a Vanagon

posted by graham on 05.06.22 at 00:32, Photos, art, 61 comments Permalink

Last Sunday night in one of the two worst places in Seattle for it to happen, the middle of the Seattle-side I-90 tunnel, my friend Rob's VW Vanagon burst into flame. Several minutes after Austin (who was borrowing the Van to move his snake tank) pulled to the shoulder, exited, and placed a safe distance between himself and the crapwagaon, it exploded.

Luckily I had the forsight to insist on taking another, safer, vehicle, and so the two pythons, the boa and I were spared certain incineration. Or at least a fair amount of smoke inhalation.

Here are some pictures Austin snapped with his camera phone during and after the blaze. Note in the last pictures how the tiles were blown off the wall of the tunnel.

Too lazy to make thumbnails:


so right

posted by ben on 05.06.21 at 02:05, null, null, food, Leave a comment Permalink

Gentleman, Julia Child's 1945 Garland and self:


cheek cruelty

posted by ben on 05.06.21 at 01:29, null, puppies, rant, rant, rave, 1 comment Permalink

Yawn. Yawn. I need pictures. I don't have to be nice to people here, but I don't feel like being mean. Ignoring people is boring. The poverty of lazy Boulderites is amusing. The poverty of inept ones is bothersome. Bourdain is my new hero. He hates vegetarians and me, yet likes fine cutlery. It's Down and Out, but newer.

I like spelling poast as poast, kind of like roast.

Which is better: elephants, lions, diamonds?


I'm all about lions right now.


Who doesn't need more RMS in their life?

posted by scott on 05.06.18 at 17:11, Catch-all, null, Leave a comment Permalink

Check this out.


machine learning

posted by ben on 05.06.17 at 01:32, math, math, 1 comment Permalink

Some models may have a higher potential complexity, but that additional potential is irrelevant if it is dificult to chose model parameters.

comment by Other Graham on 05.06.17 at 10:04
I think I've got it: the same law holds for pop stars. Gwen Stefani may have a higher potential complexity than Christina Aguilera, but that's irrelevent when she can't decide whether she's a Harajuku girl or not.


Industry Standards

posted by anwar on 05.06.16 at 12:28, Engineering, null, 1 comment Permalink

I went to see the office pranks page and noticed sadly that all office cube farms are identical, everywhere.

same as it always was

posted by ben on 05.06.16 at 01:12, null, pictures, Leave a comment Permalink



posted by ben on 05.06.15 at 12:10, null, on writing, Leave a comment Permalink

I've just been called "Hey Coz" by someone I am fairly certain I am in no way related to.

I think I can almost describe static characters... but I run into trouble if they change. The fundamental stuff of plot should be character development, but every time a character develops I find myself thinking that I ought to start over with the new character instead.

A mini-rant on sizes

posted by marco on 05.06.15 at 10:14, coffee, random, 1 comment Permalink

I was catching up on some nonplatonic reading when I read this post by Graham (and its comments) about Starbucks coffee sizes. They bug me. Graham likes them. Therefore, I rant.

Since I don't often go to Starbucks, whenever I do actually go (or when I encounter their nomenclature at another coffee shop, which is unfortunately happening more and more), I have to study the menu for a minute to remind myself whether "tall" is bigger or smaller than "grande" and so on. Once I see the order of the sizes on the menu that lets me translate into small, medium, and large, I can order my drink. But whenever I say "tall" or "grande," it feels like I'm capitulating to a trend that's both smugly corporate and painfully trendy.

And contrary to what Graham and Ben say, it *does* matter what size a "venti" is--since venti is Italian for 20, as a 20 oz size it actually makes the most sense of all the names!

Enough for now...maybe I'll read nonplatonic again in another two weeks and see if anyone (Graham?) has protested.

comment by ben on 05.06.15 at 12:14
that venti bit is both amazing and obvious. I really don't like ordering by volume, it feels very clinical... "I would like a 16oz latte in a 20oz glass."


Ben's Political Theory

posted by ben on 05.06.14 at 14:11, null, rant, politics, rant, rave, Leave a comment Permalink

Maybe there are too many people in the US to be administered to by a single federal government that was designed for a population a fraction of the current size. My current theory: break the country into three or four regions, each with three branch governements on top of the current state government and then put the current federal government over it all. There doesn't seem to be any government between state and federal. Maybe call sessions of senate for several states that are held together.

Is this a really stupid idea? Does something to solve this problem already exist?

Fixing the Fucked Up World

posted by ben on 05.06.14 at 02:50, rant, politics, rant, rave, Leave a comment Permalink

I still like how Collin put the question: "How do I lead a meaningful life?" Everyone seems to be struggling with it in one way or another. I'm wondering how I affect political change. Adam (who needs permalinks) thinks we can affect global warming phenomenon by writing. These people seem to think we can organize civil disobedience online. I still think there's something to be said for actually voting rather than incessantly whining. In fact, that's about the only useful thing I can think of.

I guess you can give money to charity... but which charity? Suppose I go out and give money to Greenpeace. Then they use my money to pay college students to ask for more money in some ever building environmentalist pyramid scheme... I guess they spend some of the profits on Zodiacs and dead tree mailings as well. Or you buy food for starving Africans who then become dependent on you buying them food. Maybe give $20 to some guy on the street, but his life's so miserable he just buys three bottles of vodka. Is there actually anything to be done?

It seems like all the solutions are on a governmental scale. Better education, housing and care for the homeless... I can't imagine how individual action can fix environmental problems. Suppose I use less water because I'm a good person, etc... Others will simply use more because I’ve lowered the marginal cost so much. The only solution I can imagine to water issues is to have the governments add taxes to reflect the actual costs.

I guess I can imagine taking personal liberty issues into our own hands and making a difference... practicing freedom of speech to make sure it doesn't become stale. Talking, always talking... telling people when they are wrong... democracy needs public debate from coffee shops to the senate.

I'd like to believe the internet could be part of it, but trolling a message board seems more antisocial than social.

Let's all reinforce negative stereotypes...

posted by ben on 05.06.14 at 01:44, television, television, 2 comments Permalink

"I don't think he'd be meeting with you just to break up with you. If guys want to end things they just vanish."

-Alias, Reckoning

Also, why did I find this picture at afterellen? Is she going to be gay in a later episode?

comment by ben on 05.06.14 at 03:12
It's such crap, but I can't stop watching it... why is no one here?


pacifists are no fun

posted by ben on 05.06.13 at 22:31, null, rant, 1 comment Permalink

Is there any difference between fundamentalists and idealists? In either case, they don't tend to be much fun. The pacifists I've met are rarely the loving and good people you'd hope for. They tend to be more along the lines of arrogant assholes with no friends (I'm an exception). I've have image of Jesus all pissed off and flipping over tables. Somehow that doesn't seem like a good thing.

comment by marco on 05.06.15 at 09:31
"Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves." -- Matthew 21:12

I'd rather be watching Star Trek.

posted by ben on 05.06.13 at 19:20, null, rant, television, television, 4 comments Permalink

Why do we make television shows about violating civil rights? Tapping lines, killing US citizens for the hell of it, detaining people without trial... There's so much television glamorizing evil things the government shouldn't do and precious little glamorizing the good. The closest thing I can think of is West Wing, but even that is all about politics, saying things carefully and eventually lying.

Were we always like this? Maybe 200 years ago it was better... People actually cared about liberty and freedom rather than guns and death. Though I'm not sure I believe that. There were at least patriots; people concerned with good, not glamour... and those are the ones that history remembers.

Some of the most despicable are the sociopaths like Rich... sitting at the Trident, talking about rocket launchers and killing people and how he's going to fight... Not how he's going to protect the country, people, ideals... no, how he's going to fight. We don't treat him as an insane killer, but an oddity. Isn't it funny how Rich doesn't fit in with the other Boulderites... how his views could be so odd...

I don't like 24 either.

I don't see how we can have a functional democracy and this cultural obsession with vigilantism.

comment by devin on 05.06.13 at 19:50
It sounds like you hadn't finished watching the pilot when you wrote this?? You don't seem to have a grasp of the premise of the show. I'd recommend watching a couple of episodes to get a feel for it.
comment by ben on 05.06.13 at 19:57
I hadn't finished it when I started fuming, but had by the time I started writing... I'm partway into 2 now. I'm not convinced it makes a difference... So now she's legit and still kills people... but now it's good... It's good to have no internalized moral system and makes watching television easier.

She was really bad in Elektra.
comment by graham on 05.06.13 at 23:40
I don't mean to defend Jennifer Garner, but Elektra was a spin-off of a shitty movie based on a comic book. It was doomed before it was even written. The only reason anyone paid to see it was because she is hott (double t intended).
comment by ben on 05.06.14 at 00:00
I saw it because I usually like the mindlessness that is a comic book movie... and because it was free... and I was half asleep... and I'd been reading for quite a while... and I'd been on a plane for several hours. There may be more excuses I've forgotten about.


posted by ben on 05.06.11 at 23:03, rant, rant, rave, Leave a comment Permalink

"Do you want to come watch a cheesy pulp movie with me and my cute friend who is probably 16?"

"No, I'd rather go home and sit at my computer alone... or maybe walk around in the rain alone... or curl up in bed alone."

"Ok, see you later."

Why do I do these things? Why do they happen?

Data Mining in Strangely Biased Data

posted by ben on 05.06.11 at 02:03, null, hci, 1 comment Permalink

The chart shows lift greater than one for the commonly used screen resolutions such as 1280x1024, 1024x768, and 800x600 implying that visits with these resolutions tended to search more than the average visit. The resolution 640x480 has lift less than one. The reason for this is interesting. We found that when the screen resolution was set to 640x480, the search button disappeared past the right edge of the browser screen. In order to access the search button, one would have to scroll to the right, which explains why so few visits with that resolution performed a search.

-R. Kohavi, etal. Lessons and Challenges from Mining Retail E-Commerce Data, pg. 17

Current bot filtering is mostly based on a combination of a continuously tuned set of heuristics and manual labeling. It is worth mentioning that page tagging methods of clickstream collection (Madsen, 2002), which execute blocks of javascript at the client’s browser and log the statistics returned by the javascript at a server, avoid bots because they require the execution of javascript, which bots rarely execute. However, people who do not have javascript turned on in their browsers or who click on a link before the javascript code can download and execute will not have their visits correctly logged by page tagging systems. These visits can amount to about 5% of all human visits, thereby resulting in inaccurate clickstream statistics.

-R. Kohavi, etal. Lessons and Challenges from Mining Retail E-Commerce Data, pg. 14

Begin Analytic Rant:

The 640 thing is just funny. I wonder how much business would be hurt by dropping anyone at 640... I imagine they not only make up an increasingly pathetic portion of browsers, but a more pathetic portion of buyers... anyone who can't afford a post 1990 monitor is probably in an ugly financial situation anyway...

The bot thing strikes me as a little more insidious. Surely google should be indexing everything... and you don't want to try to break google, only help it. This is an enlightened self interest thing. All hail the ever increasing google rank...

Beyond that, is it really that bad to have other sites index your content and link directly to it? I guess it depends on your business model... but if you sell things, do you really care how a customer got to a page if they're planning on buying? Worst case someone comes up with a better interface to your crappy site (I'm visualizing pricewatch indexing newegg)... There are probably certain customers who come to newegg that wouldn't have otherwise due to pricewatch. But, by providing a better interface, pricewatch diminishes brand loyalty to newegg.

To make it clearer... The ideal scenario for newegg would be two fold: Customers would browse their site alone because the prices and interface are good (hah). Second, new customers would come to newegg and stay because the interface is superior to that of pricewatch (hah again).

Misdirecting/Denying indexing and price listing bots only creates market friction. I can't imagine how this friction is beneficial, but there are scenarios where it hurts. The most obvious is when it prevents outside parties from fixing a stupid UI for free.

Also, Pedro Domingos is cool.


I tried it.

posted by graham on 05.06.10 at 16:43, coffee, Ideas, 7 comments Permalink

comment by ben on 05.06.10 at 17:04
and? Not a good thing? Bitterness beyond bitterness?
comment by graham on 05.06.10 at 17:08
It was crazy strong and tasted like cough syrup. I'll have to try it again to determine how much of a buzz it gives you.
comment by collin on 05.06.10 at 22:58
Mate wasn't supposed to be the only ingredient.
comment by graham on 05.06.11 at 16:35
The other ingredient isn't especially soluble in water. Perhaps the steam would be strong enough. I'll have to find a guinea pig though.
comment by ben on 05.06.11 at 18:02
And there was to be coffee too, right?
comment by graham on 05.06.11 at 18:44
I'm not sure... maybe.
Anything other ideas for ingredients while we're at it?
comment by ben on 05.06.14 at 03:19
hazelnuts, nutmeg, vanilla and cinnamon

Popomo is...

posted by collin on 05.06.10 at 15:20, nonsense, random, 2 comments Permalink

a) Me.
b) Programable matter bannanas.
c) A comic that started in 1940 talking about blogging [instead of reporting].

d) All of the above.

comment by graham on 05.06.10 at 17:12
e) A Character in Dragonball Z
comment by ben on 05.06.14 at 03:21
f) pomo
g) mo

Oh, the bullshit.

posted by collin on 05.06.10 at 15:13, nonsense, science, news, news, technology, Leave a comment Permalink


TINY robots that can turn into any shape - from a replica human to a banana to a mobile phone - are being developed by scientists in the United States.

The new science of claytronics, which will use nanotechnology to create tiny robots called catoms, should enable three-dimensional copies of people to be "faxed" around the world for virtual meetings.

A doctor could also consult with a patient over the phone, even taking their pulse by holding the wrist of the claytronic replica, reports New Scientist.

And the nano "clay" could be carried around, shape-shifting into virtually anything when required. Your claytronic mobile phone could turn into a hammer for a spot of DIY and then a pair of shoes to go jogging. The creator, Dr Todd Mowry, director of Intel's research labs in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said: "You could have a little lump of this stuff you carry around and it could be a million different things. It's like the world's ultimate Swiss army knife." His partner, Dr Seth Goldstein, of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, said: "It's absolutely going to work."

Huh? My cellphone can also be a bannana, a hammer, or a shoe? I don't feel like I can blame the guy at Intel or the guy at Carnegie Mellon, but I can blame the reporter for being a "I'm going to write about stuff that doesn't exist - I'm uber smart" dipshit. While progamable matter is the bee's knees, it's a long long way off. And the whole idea begs two questions: What if I turned my cellphone into a bannana and ate it? Won't this help terrorists?


Here's the CM page, though "claytronics" is a pretty cool name. Thought these things are still pretty big [44mm]

China closes 1,129 porn web sites

posted by ben on 05.06.10 at 14:21, null, rant, 1 comment Permalink

The related departments have closed 1,278 illegal web sites and 114 sites promoting gambling, superstitious activities and cult propaganda according to the information provided by the informers.

-People's Daily Online

Yesterday I vainly argued that freedom of speech is both a profoundly good and novel thing... "Oh, but it's not a new idea..." she said. And she was wrong... and even we don't get it yet. But at least I don't live in China. This is where patriotism is a good thing.

20 movies, 16000 hits over the lifetime of the site means prison time in China...

The case was judged according to the No 363 Article of the Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China, in which spreading and profiting from pornographic material is deemed a criminal activity.

-China Daily

The judgment by the Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court sentenced the young men to prison for a period between one and a half to two and a half years.

-China Daily

Does anyone know what the deal with Falun Gong is? Why does China hate them so much? This says some Falun Gong guy killed 17 people, but the link's dead and I can't find it anywhere else. In fact, most of the links on these two news sites seem to lead nowhere... with titles about US abuses of freedom and so forth... very strange... oh... they're in Chinese... and Firefox is a piece of crap when it comes to foriegn langauges apparently... I still can't figure out if Falun Gong is a band of murderous serial killers... though the paper seems to report suicides as murders.

comment by anwar on 05.06.11 at 10:11
I think the Chinese govt is scared shitless by the Falun Gong...mostly because of their organizing power. If you could get a *million* people to show up at some protest on short notice, the govt would be scared of you too.


Apple+Intel = 924 Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

posted by collin on 05.06.09 at 23:37, nonsense, random, technology, Leave a comment Permalink

Apple+Intel:Mac 924 Vs Microsoft Gremlin & Linux Mini-van
Submitted by NZheretic on Tue, 06/07/2005 - 19:07.

Apple on Intel is like the original Porsche 924. Either it's a very bad marketing decision or a precursor to a play for a much larger chunk of the mainstream market...

More... I think I agree with everything he says about the 924, but the comparison...

Moss Graffiti

posted by collin on 05.06.09 at 23:00, art, visual, random, Leave a comment Permalink


the gay asian man with the CMOS book

posted by ben on 05.06.09 at 22:13, null, null, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

Holy crap… Duff has a girlfriend… or at least some girl will let him touch her shoulder… close enough.

She isn’t even hideous, though her personality must be suspect… she smiles at Duff’s jokes. Oh God, now they’re kissing… almost as bad as the German woman… make it stop.

Jim tried to sit at some woman’s table… she had a blind date… I think. For a moment her face froze with horror, until she realized Jim wasn’t her date. He scurried off awkwardly. Now he’s sitting alone and frowning at his table.

Now she's sitting with a beautiful middle aged man. They lean together and laugh. He pours tea… she reaches out for a cup and brushes his hand… they smile.

Jim bites his fingernails. Finger in nose, licks his finger tip… I’m getting out of here.

Which One?

posted by graham on 05.06.09 at 18:12, Missleaneus, null, 1 comment Permalink

Two good shows are happening tomorrow. I can't decide which one would be better.
DJ Krush or Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra?

And how do you make a poll in b2?

comment by ben on 05.06.09 at 19:19
I bet Antibalas with be crazier... and they have a name not unlike Sun Ra...

posted by ben on 05.06.09 at 14:22, coffee, coffee, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

I just got an iced florentine at the Trident... with no coffee. That is to say, I got chocoloate milk with several ice cubes floating in it. Complained... was told it contained coffee. Asked for coffee... Still don't have enough coffee... Yes.


Two completely unrelated questions

posted by collin on 05.06.08 at 17:37, nonsense, random, 3 comments Permalink

Let's say I have a shitty piece of furniture, like a desk or a table, made of wood or fiber board. If I were to put steel plate on all its surfaces and weld the seams would it catch fire in a manageable or an unmanageable way? [Since I think it's going to catch on fire at least somewhat] Would plastic laminate on the fiber board make a big difference? Which would be better, MAPP/Ox or wire feed arc?

Why do Europeans pluralize math? [i.e. "Older students learn higher level maths."] This seems to bother me for aesthetic reasons. "Physics" is already pluralized I guess, but you never [or at least rarely, though I can't think of a time I have] hear "biologies" or "literatures". I'd like to hear from the science and language folks that read this.

comment by ben on 05.06.08 at 19:52
The only reason you want to weld steel over that table is to ensure that it catches on fire. If you are honestly interested in making a welded steel table, you know perfectly well that you could do it without the burning wood core. As for the table, you can always use your home made plasma cutter to set it on fire in your neighbor's lawn (the ones with the 6am drum circle and burning couch).

My theory: mathematics -> math(ematic)s -> maths
comment by graham on 05.06.09 at 13:21
Wire feed would be easier once you get the speed set right.

If you spot weld the sheets in a few places then pull the table out, you could avoid most of the fire. If you weld the whole thing with the table inside, there will be lots of fire by the time you're done. If there is plastic laminate involved, you'll have cancer by the time you're done.
comment by graham on 05.06.09 at 13:32
So says maths is "Chiefly British" for mathematics. This leads me to wonder, do most europeans learn English from British speakers?

Wrong embedding Google!

posted by collin on 05.06.08 at 16:25, math, nonsense, math, random, 1 comment Permalink

Somebody mentioned this in a /. discussion. [I know, I should stop reading those] Apparently Google maps has a fixed latitude/longitude ratio, of ~0.772 correct for 39.5 deg N or S [1 if 0 deg]. So this projection causes angles to be changed if you're very far away from 39.5 deg [I don't know exactly what the projection is so I can't say whether or not it's distance preserving]. E.g. Anchorage, AK, Mapquest and Yahoo don't have this problem.

comment by collin on 05.06.08 at 17:21
Maybe it's a projection to a cylinder of radius whatever the radius of the earth is at 39.5 deg lat... Then it wouldn't be distance preserving. However the lack of straight roads near the poles prevents me from testing my hyopthesis.

I'm pretty sure I wasn't that stupid.

posted by collin on 05.06.08 at 01:26, rant, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

But I could be wrong.
So it's 3am and I can't sleep, so I decide to take a walk around the block. I get down stairs and the door is ajar. Not unusual, people prop it open a lot. As I walk through the door I notice that there isn't anything holding the door open. It appears that some one [drunken idiot most likely] kicked the door in, since the door jam is broken in several places. I close the door and it looks like it locks, though I didn't kick it to see if it would open [it is 3am]. This is kind of getting ridiculous, between destroying the banister on the stairs, dropping half finished joints on the carpet in the hallway, outrageous screaming/domestic abuse, and now the door.


business card

posted by ben on 05.06.07 at 13:34, null, null, 4 comments Permalink
I was just asked for my business card. I'm thinking the potential benefits merit the minor investment necessary. I was thinking I could steal collin's idea and one side would say ben lackey polymath and the other would give my number and email or I could try to be original:
In the future letters will all be lower case.
comment by graham on 05.06.07 at 14:25
Yeah, the green thing looks real technicated.
comment by ben on 05.06.07 at 15:46

Is this better? Should the text get smaller? Is the font stupid?

It is all technicated. It's 3D VRML life. Which, as long as I don't mention the VRML part, is probably a good way to start a conversation with everyone from mathematicians to pathetic novelisitic failures.

I don't need no stinkin' gubmint.

posted by anwar on 05.06.07 at 06:12, Economics, null, 1 comment Permalink

...because I pulled myself up by my bootstraps (all by myself).


comment by collin on 05.06.08 at 00:31
My favorite part...
I will be pro-death penalty and anti-abortion, pro-child but anti-child care, for education but against funding of public schools.

As an aside, I read this Mallard Fillmore comic in today's [?] Boston Globe. I don't really read it that often [not carried in Denver/Chicago papers?] but it seems kinda asinine to say the least. Although looking at the quote and comparing it to the comic, objectively they aren't that different [besides the objective fact that Republicans are evil]. Maybe I just expect my editorial cartoons to be, well, on the editorial page.


The Future

posted by ben on 05.06.06 at 15:18, hci, rant, 1 comment Permalink

Code gets ever more abstract. blog nonplatonic=new blog(authors, archives); Distinctions between individual programming languages, daemons, boxes... all of it continues to blur.

Humans don't see things like ls anymore. Metadata disappears under layers of abstraction. Metadata ceases to be divided into categories understandable to humans. Clustering, fuzzy clustering and finally something with an actual statistical motivation takes over.

Computers learn to classify anything. Images and video become the stuff of the internet all indexed by machine. Words go the way of books while VR makes a comeback... implemented in some portable format... not unlike VRML Pretty portable GUIs for everything...

The machine becomes increasingly transparent... until we go online and see other people, not websites. Something analogous to the transistion from telegrams to cellphones.

The human race becomes extinct because we can no longer relate to one another in person, but spend all our time surrounded by LCDs and laser retina display things. That, or nitrogen content in the soil goes to zero and we all starve... Ninja space monkeys inherit the earth.

comment by collin on 05.06.06 at 18:21
In the future all computers will use Intel processors.


part seven of a quail.

posted by ben on 05.06.05 at 20:13, null, on writing, Leave a comment Permalink

I open a novel. Read a page with conscious effort. Then another. And another... the characters begin to take shape... but slowly. 10 pages, maybe 15 I am slowly incorporated into the novel.

But this isn't how it has to be... even how it always is. Bad novels, of course, never feel natural. There's always some rough movement about them. Some I pick up and the first sentence is a joke... or a holocaust... or a kiss.

The goal of writing is to trick the reader into forgetting about page numbers.

Insinkerator Pulper - one hell of a garbage disposal

posted by ben on 05.06.05 at 02:08, null, food, Leave a comment Permalink

Kitchen Supply is so cool.

posted by ben on 05.06.05 at 01:42, null, food, Leave a comment Permalink

That dishwasher can run 24 times in an hour. Why do people buy normal dishwashers?


part four of a series of two

posted by ben on 05.06.04 at 11:46, null, on writing, Leave a comment Permalink

I'm not certain Richard Brautigan is actually a novelist. It's entirely possible he isn't supposed to be. Maybe it's this prose poetry I've been hearing so much about. Yet, it seems he's being lazy... substituting gimmicks for skill, underlining things and adding white space... which isn't to say it isn't fun. No, it is.

But my novel will have grammatically correct sentences. When that fails there will be ellipsis... and I will get over that self referential humor that even I don't think is clever.

Also, I often don't believe what I say... which is to say I want to hear how it sounds. And I've been using say as write for a while now and I like it that way. And I say "gonna." I also say "fer" if I get excited... and the pitch of my voice goes up.

I bought a novel that may be about cog sci. I tried to stop.

...but some do it better than others

posted by anwar on 05.06.04 at 09:16, Economics, null, Leave a comment Permalink

After $1.3 billion in subsidies, about 160,000 homes have solar power systems. Solar power remains two to three times as expensive as the electricity supplied to households. But homeowners say that with time, the "free" electricity pays for the high installation costs. And the government is willing to devote taxes to the effort, preferring to spur rural employment through solar power installations to help reduce payments for foreign oil, coal and gas.

posted by ben on 05.06.04 at 00:34, null, null, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

"As a teenager he discovered that poetry made an outrageous career choice for someone of his social class and instead decided to be a writer."

-What Ianthe Brautigan should have written about Richard Brautigan on pg. vii of You Can't Catch Death.


posted by ben on 05.06.03 at 23:55, null, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

Writing is no longer about clarity. There is no communication. There are rarely sentences. I've declared war on metaphor and lists. It's literal. George and I are on a first name basis. Sometimes he calls me Jimmy B.

Eight died in a bombing earlier today, but we sent a simile to Guantanamo. This is a joke. This is not a joke.

I bought a black marker at Lolita's and ordered some more poetry. Tomorrow I excise the demons of metaphor from an entire book. I'm starting with Neruda. There will be priests and brimstone, coffee and cookies after.

The wrong verb made it art, but now that I've said it maybe it isn't.

how metaphor ought to be, the way she leans

posted by ben on 05.06.03 at 23:21, art, books, art, books, Leave a comment Permalink

The sun was like a huge fifty-cent piece that someone had poured kerosene on and then had lit with a match and said, "Here, hold this while I go get a newspaper," and put the coin in my hand, but never came back.

-Richard Brautigan, Trout Fishing in America, pg. 6

He already underlined the words so I wouldn't have to.
This could have been a metaphor. Also:

A process is hung in the closet, pressed and ready.

-Alexandra Kleeman, Some Things Reluctant and Soft, pg. 20

There was something else. I didn't underline and it disappeared.

Almost Analysis

posted by ben on 05.06.03 at 23:09, art, books, art, Leave a comment Permalink

"The most winderful thing," he said, "that happened in the twentieth century is my woman, Donna Reichard. Period."

-David Schickler, Kissing in Manhattan, pg. 215

"This woman was beautiful, Otis. I mean, everything else about her except the dress was very adult, her coat and her shoes, and there were wrinkles on her face, and she looked so sad. She had these dark, burntout-looking eyes, but she wasn't a whore or a junkie. I'm sure of it. The thing is, I don't think I would've noticed how beautiful she was if she hadn't been wearing that silly dress. In fact" -James rocked back and forth- "in fact, Otis, I don't even know if she would've been so beautiful and sad if she hadn't been wearing that dress. You know?"

-David Schickler, Kissing in Manhattan, pg. 190

"Maybe you should get in the tub," suggested Rachel.
Jacob panicked. He'd heard about women who made love in bathtubs.

-David Schickler, Kissing in Manhattan, pg. 31

All over the island, doormen were always packing women into taxis and grinning like conspirators. Where were these women going?

-David Schickler, Kissing in Manhattan, pg. 6

Charles was sweet, but he had chronic dandruff and a tendency to handcuff Donna to major kitchen appliances during sexual intercourse.

-David Schickler, Kissing in Manhattan, pg. 5

It's somehow important to know how authors look... then you know if it's all fiction... and something else: if you want to sleep with them. Apparently Mishima is not sexy. Woolf is a corpse.

That bit from pg. 215 is good and I know why. The man speaking is imperfect, sexist, unpleasant... but he's in love... so it doesn't matter. I like it.

The bit about the bath is good because it might mean two things... only one of them amusing.

This might all be obvious. The way Schickler writes seems almost right... but not quite. It's overdone. It has that perfect stench. Too much care was put in and it's not quite writing anymore... but that's not true.

He wrote that story in The New Yorker... "The Smoker," the one where the high school English student marries her teacher... so it has to be overdone... like Updike and Franzen. But, it's still almost real.

Governments shape behavior

posted by anwar on 05.06.03 at 08:36, Economics, null, Leave a comment Permalink

This is exactly the kind of forward thinking civic policy we need in today's world! Oil is plentiful, energy is cheap, and no link has been found to prove human activity influences large scale climate change. w00t!

Shanghai, home to about 9m ordinary bikes, aroused a flurry of media criticism last year by banning them from main roads in the centre. But they are less and less used these days.

Since the late 1990s, however, housing has been largely privatised. Many state-owned factories have closed down or been shifted to suburban areas to reduce pollution in the cities and make way for new development. The economic boom has been spurred by a building frenzy, which itself has been fuelled by reckless bank lending and by the government's readiness to allow developers to bulldoze the inner cities. Close-knit communities have been scattered, often to the suburbs, to places ill-served by public transport and far from places of work.


Origami Bowl

posted by collin on 05.06.02 at 22:50, nonsense, random, technology, 1 comment Permalink

Available at REI. (and lighter than Ti)

comment by graham on 05.06.03 at 23:18
Ooooh... "fold-flat technology," sounds pretty high tech!

My new toy

posted by collin on 05.06.02 at 22:19, nonsense, random, Leave a comment Permalink

Behold the Space Cadet!

My tinfoil hat has a propeller

posted by collin on 05.06.02 at 22:12, nonsense, news, news, random, Leave a comment Permalink

The Motion Picture Association of America said Tuesday that it will fund the installation of 10 new surveillance cameras in downtown Los Angeles--ostensibly to help catch ne'er-do-wells who are selling counterfeit DVDs on the streets

Huh? Though apparently the LAPD will be watching them. And who the hell is the guy that posted this? Well, he has a blog AND works for CNET so he must be truthful.


In today's Wall Street Journal

posted by collin on 05.06.02 at 22:03, news, news, Leave a comment Permalink

They rope in their online content, but the article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as well. Though the title in the WSJ was better: Wireless Carriers' Veto Over How Phones Work Hampers Innovation, and a mouthful. Here are the best parts.

By Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal
One reason the American high-tech industry has been able to create so many innovative products is that it was able to maintain a close, direct relationship with the individuals and companies that used its products. High-tech companies could quickly determine whether their software, hardware and online services were meeting user needs, and they could revise and improve these products rapidly and continuously.

But in recent years, as the high-tech industry has begun to offer wireless-phone products, this connection between technology producers and users has been blocked by huge, powerful middlemen. In the U.S., the wireless phone carriers have used their ownership of networks to sharply restrict what technologies can actually reach users.

I call these cellphone companies the new Soviet ministries, because they are reminiscent of the Communist bureaucracies in Russia that stood athwart the free market for decades. Like the real Soviet ministries, these technology middlemen too often believe they can decide better than the market what goods consumers need.

Need? I'd say "willing to pay for" or "will purchase," but then again I don't write for the Wall Street Journal.

I once saw a sign at the offices of a big cellphone carrier that said, "It isn't a phone until 'Harry' says it's a phone." But why should it be up to Harry (a real carrier employee whose name I have changed)? Why shouldn't the market decide whether a device is a good phone?

At last month's D: All Things Digital technology conference, which I co-produce for The Wall Street Journal, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said he was wary of producing an Apple cellphone because, instead of selling it directly to the public, he would have to offer it through what he called the "four orifices" -- the four big U.S. cellphone carriers.

Cellphone carriers say one reason they keep tight control over what phones run on their networks is to protect the networks from harm and assure service quality for their subscribers.

But we've heard that before, and it wasn't true then. Until the 1970s, when the government forced open the market, the old AT&T phone monopoly refused to let consumers buy phones and plug them into their home phone lines. You could only rent phones, and they had to be models made by an AT&T subsidiary. AT&T said the restriction protected the quality of the wired phone network. But, lo and behold, when the ban was lifted the phone network was just fine, even though consumers were plugging in millions of less expensive, more innovative phones.

Just as consumers benefited from that change, I believe they would benefit if the new Soviet ministries loosened their grip.

Though I just realized that the entire article is only marginally longer. Eh, I don't really care.

If Burns Ran an airline...(with Federal Money)

posted by anwar on 05.06.02 at 07:33, Economics, politics, Leave a comment Permalink

US Airways Managers

Well, that's odd ... I've just robbed a man of his livelihood, and yet I feel strangely empty. Tell you what, Smithers - have him beaten to a pulp.

When the airline needed about $1 billion annually in labor cuts, the AFA filing said, the airline had argued that "in light of management's sacrifices, it would be 'inequitable' for labor not to take commensurate reductions."

The objections they have raised in bankruptcy court surround the company's request for up to $55 million to hand out in bonuses and severance pay to executives, managers and salaried workers.

The money essentially would wipe out the $56 million in concessions given by management and salaried employees, according to an objection filed in bankruptcy court Wednesday by the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents mainline and regional workers in the airline.

Smithers, for attempting to kill me, I'm giving you a five percent pay cut!

The AFA filing pointed to the different treatment in union workers, who were saddled with court-imposed 21 percent pay cuts for four months, while management saw only a 5 percent pay cut, "on the heels of a nearly commensurate prebankruptcy pay increase."

Underestimations is a transogram.

posted by ben on 05.06.02 at 04:12, random, rant, 1 comment Permalink

Picture me bashing my head on my desk... because that is what I am doing. I type a few words and then pound my head on the dark wood for a bit. About midnight I realized that I botched the programming problem that should have been easy. Then I spent the next few hours in a zombie like state trying to rectify the problem and not fall asleep. No.

comment by ben on 05.06.02 at 15:50


Stupid Tabs

posted by collin on 05.06.01 at 23:09, nonsense, news, news, random, Leave a comment Permalink

Worst headline ever. Better (worse) in the print version, with a picture of a 91 year old man.


posted by ben on 05.06.01 at 20:09, random, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

My server is behaving badly. I want it to magically work, magically patch and magically power on when the power fails (which won't be an issue because future Ben will have a UPS). Sendmail is evil.

Future Ben has 2. Also, future Ben has fiber.

Gah... the cheap one is $3000. Future Ben actually has a cluster of celerons, DSL fashioned from bailing wire and a UPS made out of discarded car batteries. Weep for future Ben.

Bug me no more

While getting a user/pass from bugmenot, i noticed their "NY Times recommends bugmenot" link.

I especially like the bit about stuffing return envelopes with pieces of sheetmetal.

Also, while I'm strongly in favor of the short/tall/grande system, the Lincoln Park shirt sounds pretty amusing.

comment by ben on 05.06.01 at 20:19
And Venti? What is there to be said in favor of the Starbucks system?
comment by graham on 05.06.02 at 00:30
Short = 8 oz
Tall = 12 oz
Grande = 16 oz
Venti = doesn't matter because only starbucks uses it

The beauty of all this is that I can go anywhere in Seattle or to most any Starbucks on the planet and order a tall latte knowing what size latte I am receiving. Whenever I go somewhere with "small" or "large" lattes, how much am I getting? I have no idea! Medium? Fahgettaboutit!
Short, tall and grande quantify the size without making ordering the drink sound like a math problem.
It's like with gasoline... you don't ask for gas by the octane rating, you say regular, plus, or supreme/premium.

Don't make me start on the "Pitcher of Mocha."
comment by ben on 05.06.02 at 04:09
Explain to me why this doesn't make more sense... Oh God I suck.

Small = 8 oz
Medium = 12 oz
Large = 16 oz
XL = 20 oz
XXL = 24 oz


Crazy-ass Bicycles!

posted by collin on 05.05.31 at 15:12, nonsense, art, visual, random, art, technology, 1 comment Permalink

Mixed in with a lot of recumbents are pics of some truely great bikes. They rival the venerable steeds of Chunk 666 and the BLF. Jah is mighty.


comment by graham on 05.06.01 at 14:24
That canoe is awesome. The shadows on all the bikes are not.

Deep Throat

posted by collin on 05.05.31 at 15:04, news, news, 3 comments Permalink

Has Deep Throat been revealed? Or so Vanity Fair seems to be reporting, according to Reuters/AP. The most interesting part of the linked article...

"My grandfather is pleased that he is being honored for his role as Deep Throat with his friend Bob Woodward," Jones said.

Felt's daughter spoke to Woodward, who visited Felt in 1999, by phone more than a half-dozen times to discuss a potential joint announcement, Vanity Fair said.

But Woodward would often begin those conversations with a caveat, the magazine said, saying: "Just because I'm talking to you, I'm not admitting that he is who you think he is."

The magazine said Felt's daughter directly asked Woodward to reveal if her dad was Deep Throat.

"He wouldn't do that," his daughter Joan is quoted as saying. "I said 'If he's not, you can at least tell me that. We could put this to rest.' And he said 'I can't do that."'

The magazine said Woodward was concerned that Felt's family was pushing Felt, whose health and mental sharpness were declining with age, toward exposure against his will.

So neither Woodward, Bernstein, nor former Washington Post Editor Ben Bradlee, the only three people who actually know Deep Throats identity have commented on this? (Is Bradlee alive?) I'm suspicious.

comment by marco on 05.05.31 at 16:52
Woodward & Bernstein Confirm: Felt Was 'DeepThroat'
comment by graham on 05.06.02 at 00:36


Providence CS Church

posted by ben on 05.05.30 at 19:32, null, pictures, Leave a comment Permalink


posted by ben on 05.05.28 at 00:49, random, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

My dear little cousin is screwed in math. The reasons are both numerous and not her fault. Apparently she has trouble with arithmetic even though she is taking a remedial version of algebra 2. It seems clear to me that she must study arithmetic, then multiplication and long division... and only then she can start thinking about learning algebra.

The way I learned arithmetic was repetition. I'm not sure there's any other way either. I'm thinking she ought to sit down with a hundred arithmetic problems a day until she knows it. I may start lobbying for this too.

My other cousin now calls things he doesn't like "niggers," "negros" or "jews" as he sees fit. Supposedly this is somehow my uncle Dave's fault, though I'm not certain I believe that. I tried to explain my horror at all this today, but I'm not sure anything got across. This is not my beautiful house.


I don't remember where I found this.

posted by collin on 05.05.26 at 14:01, nonsense, random, 1 comment Permalink
comment by scott on 05.05.30 at 20:18
Wow. That is fucked up.

Wonderful things...

posted by collin on 05.05.26 at 00:29, nonsense, random, 2 comments Permalink

McMaster-Carr! They have everything! Do you need titanium mesh ($400 24"x36"), or a cubic foot of lingum vitea aka iron wood the hardest wood in the world ($1300), or 4 flute diamond finished end mills (a cheap $40), or a 3000lb pull electromagnet? Do I need these things? Yes, yes I do.

comment by graham on 05.05.26 at 21:27
This is flippin' brilliant. Can anyone buy from this place though?
comment by collin on 05.05.26 at 23:08
Yes I believe so.
I can get a 1 by 2 foot sheet of carbon fiber (already epoxyfied) but I can only get tubes in 1 foot lengths? That sucks. I would have added links for every one's enjoyment but they use icky frames or something...


Recycling the Interwebs

posted by ben on 05.05.22 at 11:29, null, rant, 2 comments Permalink

Stolen from boingboing, this is a problematic bit of journalism about a creationist museum. I read it as desperately attempting to be unbiased. In avoiding a bias against creationism, the article fails to say anything useful. The article should convey the notion that a fringe Christian nut job is building a museum in an attempt to propagate blatant falsehoods. Instead, it gives the impression that a man with a reasonable minority opinion is slowly winning a fight against oppressive public opinion. This is why the mainstream outlets are good.

-Ministry uses dinosaurs to dispute evolution, The Cincinnati Enquirer

Also: Eve had no shame, so she would not feel the need to arrange her hair to censor her own nipples. And I suspect Adam's hand would make a tasty snack for that little dinosaur he's holding it out to.

comment by ben on 05.05.22 at 14:46
I was thinking the sculpture was a pre-fall Eve. I assume she would frolic naked in the fields with her hair blowing where it may. Likewise, I assume post-fall Eve would have the ingenuity to devise a fig leaf bikini rather than hoping her hair would make her posterity appropriate viewing material for five year old creationist children who will assuredly have some rude awakening to sex later in life. Also: there should be more trains, though perhaps with dimmer headlights.

posted by ben on 05.05.22 at 01:16, null, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

Can we be twins? We'll dress alike, but not and dance madly in the moonlight flaunting our pale skin. We will wear tight black clothing and cut our own hair. Instead of laundry detergent, our cupboard will contain only black dye. At dawn we'll recite poetry we used to know. When the sun is up we will sleep and become freckled. When night returns we'll go out for chocolate chip pancakes and mangos. People will talk suspiciously. On different days we'll be siblings, lovers or ghosts and when the sun comes up it won't be over.


No it can't.

posted by collin on 05.05.21 at 23:56, visual, rant, art, Leave a comment Permalink

Even when you're puking or getting swastikas drawn on your passed out face you're thinking, 'I'm making history.'

Oh, because it's art. Because they made a record. Because they were aware of what they were doing. Because it's fucking art, it's not juvenile crime. Because it's capital-A Art, he get's a show at the Whitney. Let us all celebrate the self destruction of the True Artist.

From here.

Can Architecture save us?

posted by collin on 05.05.21 at 23:44, art, visual, art, Leave a comment Permalink

In this world, information flows freely and man and machine live in blissful harmony.

From here. Does this really happen? Can art save us? I once thought this was true, now I am not as sure.

Ben's Poesy

posted by ben on 05.05.21 at 19:35, null, puppies, rant, Leave a comment Permalink
you can dance
you can dance
everybody take off your pants
there are ants
there are ants
eating pink elephants

smoking is cool

posted by ben on 05.05.21 at 17:59, null, pictures, Leave a comment Permalink

Diskovery Books, Allston

posted by ben on 05.05.21 at 17:58, null, pictures, Leave a comment Permalink

For all your graph theory needs.

posted by collin on 05.05.21 at 15:28, math, math, 1 comment Permalink

I was reading some posts over at crooked timber about how physicists are dumb, not that I agree, and some one mentioned this ebook which is actually a legitimate copy of a fairly new Springer-Verlag book.

comment by collin on 05.05.21 at 18:10
So one of the "physicists are dumb" links above is a year old CT joke post, and all the sociologists got pissy when somebody got an article in Physica A about the same thing. An explanation of the whole thing can be found here if anyone wants to read about academic squabbling.

Sons of Bitches and Idiots.

posted by collin on 05.05.21 at 14:01, rant, random, Leave a comment Permalink

[Note: all quotes are approximate as most things said by persons who are not me were mostly unintelligible]

It was about 2:45am this morning, I was still awake as was Ben, when I heard an unusual amount of banging and screaming coming from the hallway. Now a little bit every once in a while is normal, but when I hear things like "You fucking whore!" and "You fucking strangled me!" I become concerned.

I step outside my apartment and realize that it's a Guy and a Girl standing outside the apartment below me doing the banging and screaming. I'm not sure what I should do so I just kinda stand there. After "I'll get you your money bitch!" Guy walks downstairs. It should be noted that Girl has been out-and-out balling this entire time. Shortly afterwards I see Roomate [of Guy] and Girl walking downstairs. I ask if everything is Ok and he mumbles "yeah." I figure he's not screaming he can handle this. More screaming outside my building.

A short while later Girl knocks on my door, still sobbing, and asks "Did you see what he did to me?" Being honest I say "No I didn't see anything, but I did hear things. If you want to call the cops I'll talk to them." I ask if she has a friend she can call. She then asks me to walk downstairs with her. I follow until she's listening at Guy's door and says "Just make sure he doesn't come after me." At this point my fear/common sense kicks in and I look up at Ben standing in my doorway and tell him to call the cops.

I take her up to my apartment and sit her down is the kitchen and she talks to Ben while I go wait for the cops downstairs. Now everything she said to Ben (some of which she also said to me before I went to wait for the cops) are textbook examples of an abusive relationship: "You must think I'm so stupid. All my friends say I should leave him. But it's hard, I've been with him for seven years. He only gets this way when he's drunk."

The cops show up and I tell them what I saw and heard. One cop talks to her while another talks to the Guy. The Roomate walks into my apartment and I have to say I didn't like him being there. All three of them say it was just verbal (which I doubt) and she "doesn't want to get him in trouble." So they do nothing, just put her in a cab and send her home.

I'm a little rattled and it's 4:30am but I try to sleep. I hear screaming outside and assume it's just normal college idiots. At about 5:00am I look out my window and see the idiots across the street decided to burn two armchairs in their lawn and are now hitting the charred remnants with buckets, which might mean they actually did something halfway intelligent and doused them with water. I see a fire truck pull around the corner and the idiots all run inside and turn off the lights and hide. The firemen spray more water on the chairs and knock on the door but nothing happens. It must have been a roving band of furniture arsonists. Fifteen minutes later they're back on the porch and improvising a bucket drum circle. I don't really feel like calling the cops twice in one night. I fall asleep at about 6:30am.

In regards to the arsonists, I seek no advice. However about everything else, I'm not sure I did the right thing. Though I doubt there's anything I could have said to the Girl to change her behavior. And I'm not crazy about living above an abusive alcoholic that had to talk to the cops because of me. Now there is one thing I could do to make the Guy's life difficult, which I think he deserves. When I was at the owners meeting for my building the head of the management company said that the colleges around here take the behavior of their idiot students very seriously, and they exercise the same level of oversight as if they were living in a dorm. For example he said that if someone throws a party and property is damaged, and the students refuse to take responsibility their school will sanction them in some way. I think a loud party where somebody breaks something pales in comparison to what happened. Though I don't want to get more involved more than I already have, I don't like the idea of this asshole living below me.

posted by ben on 05.05.21 at 12:11, null, null, pictures, Leave a comment Permalink


So cool.

posted by collin on 05.05.20 at 16:37, nonsense, random, Leave a comment Permalink

Online Lemmings! Via memepool.

Now don't forget.

posted by collin on 05.05.20 at 15:39, news, news, politics, Leave a comment Permalink

Amendment V - Trial and Punishment, Compensation for Takings. Ratified 12/15/1791.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

This is where we get "innocent until proven guilty."

Idea! Let's shoot ourselves in the foot!

posted by collin on 05.05.20 at 15:38, science, news, news, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

Saddly we all read the same aggregators, and I am unable to produce content of my own, but let the rehashing begin. From SFWeekly and via /..

According to changes recommended by the Department of Commerce, universities could soon be forced to apply for individual licenses from the federal government before they can "export" knowledge to specific students about the operation, installation, maintenance, or repair of certain equipment. But thousands of academic subjects fit into the dual-use category, including computer science; mathematics; civil, mechanical, and nuclear engineering; and biological and chemical studies.

Wow, that sounds incredibly stupid. So who's on the list? China, Cuba, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Sudan, and Syria. Hmm, no Saudi Arabia, because they have no "terrorists" just like Spain, Ireland, the -stan's of central Asia and the US. And then there's the issue of increasing the load on the part of the Dept. of Commerce that handles this kind of thing by a projected 2-3 orders of magnitude (that's 100 to 1000 times kiddies). And don't forget the requirement when filling out a form to clear a student to use a piece of equipment to place a monetary value on the knowledge gained. I wonder what the monetary value of the math I've learned is? Basically, ignoring the idiocy and subtle racism, this quote from Rachel Claus, an attorney in the office of the general counsel at Stanford, sums up my thoughts fairly well.

When the Third Reich was emerging, they said that only Germans of pure Aryan descent could attend German universities. Significant numbers of German scholars departed. That was detrimental for Germany, but was glorious for the U.S.
We got Einstein.

Fact: The US is basically post-industrial. Therefore our economic growth is going to come from basic research and the application of that research to new technologies. So of course it makes the most sense to catagorically limit what smart people can study here based on where they're born.


The Link Post

posted by ben on 05.05.19 at 13:18, null, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

I don't believe in RSS feeds since all art needs context. These are the contents of my Firefox bookmarks toolbar blog folder... the coolest thing about Firefox. Now if the CSS only rendered correctly...

People I know:


Cultural Literacy:



We're all going to die.

posted by ben on 05.05.18 at 02:30, rant, politics, Leave a comment Permalink

I'm thinking I should buy stock in Phillips Conoco, BP, Xcel, and some other companies I can't think of. The 20 year outlook seems good.

and damned lies... we need pebble bed reactors.

posted by ben on 05.05.18 at 02:24, rant, politics, Leave a comment Permalink
-The DOE

BP energy usage java thing

posted by ben on 05.05.18 at 02:14, null, politics, Leave a comment Permalink

Apocalyptic Nightmares

posted by ben on 05.05.18 at 01:40, puppies, rant, politics, Leave a comment Permalink
-UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, World Population to 2300, 2004, pg. 19

So it peaks at 9.22 billion in 2075 for the medium model. Are we all dead by then, so horribly over carrying capacity as to have no hope? Are we there now? Are we all going to die, leaving an earth inhabitated by sentient spaniels... another blip in the fossil record.

World population is 5.5, 9.1 or 14.1 billion respectively by 2100 (page 132). Intuitively that low figure seems like a good thing... something to aim for.


FBQ: Frame Builders Questionnaire

posted by graham on 05.05.16 at 16:47, Raves, art, Leave a comment Permalink

You bicycle people must check this out.


My spam is better than your spam

posted by graham on 05.05.15 at 11:58, Raves, random, Leave a comment Permalink

This is the message text from some spam (with the subject "how to cover your girl in szperm") I received a week ago. If I hadn't been checking my email on my crappy phone browser I never would have seen this hidden text. Needless to say, I almost crapped myself when I saw it quote Vonnegut.

"Wisdom is knowing what to do with what you know.",

"I have been a soreheaded occupant of a file drawer labeled Science Fiction and I would like out, particularly since so many serious critics regularly mistake the drawer for a urinal. -- Kurt Vonnegut Jr, Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons, Science Fiction, 1974"

"When I moved to the country I asked my neighbor if he had lived here all his life. His response was \"not yet.\"",

"I want to be old and annoy people pretending I'm deaf. -- Blackadder III",

"Murphy's 11th Law: It is impossible to make anything foolproof, because fools are so ingenious.",


She's a femme fatale.

posted by ben on 05.05.14 at 13:01, art, books, art, Leave a comment Permalink

Love knows no virtue, no merit; it loves and forgives and tolerates everything it must. We are not guided by reason, nor do the assets or blemishes that we discover tempt us to devotion or intimidate us. It is a sweet, mournful, mysterious power that drives us, and we stop thinking, feeling, wishing, we let ourselves drift along and never ask why we are drifting.

-Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Venus in Furs pg 53

I can go insane alone in Collin's apartment too.

posted by ben on 05.05.14 at 00:55, art, books, art, Leave a comment Permalink

She sat down and relished my fear -- for I dreaded her even more now, in broad daylight -- a charming scorn twitched around her upper lip.

"You view love and especially women," she began, "as something hostile, somthing against which you defend yourself, although in vain, something whose power over you, however, you feel as a sweet torment, a prickling cruelty: this is truly a modern attitude."

"You do not share it."

"I do not share it." She spoke quickly and decisively, shaking her head so vigorously that her curls flew up like red flames.
"I regard the cheerful sensuality of the Hellenes -- a joy without pain -- as an ideal that I strive for in my own life."

-Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Venus in Furs pg. 17-18

posted by ben on 05.05.14 at 00:49, null, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

In what way is storge not a subset of philos? I'm holding the fundies responsible for this one until I receive further notice.

If you search for NIPS, you find nipple clips.

posted by ben on 05.05.14 at 00:44, math, math, Leave a comment Permalink

My proto NIPSian paper: here (600k)


0/7 is bad.

posted by ben on 05.05.13 at 16:23, null, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

Todos Santos

posted by ben on 05.05.13 at 15:44, art, books, art, Leave a comment Permalink
That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
--Those dying generations--at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unaging intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.
-Yeats, "Sailing to Byzantium"

I think I fell asleep.

posted by ben on 05.05.13 at 15:39, null, null, Leave a comment Permalink

least attractive you say?

posted by ben on 05.05.13 at 13:00, null, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

Give up now. Stop drawing, even trying… it’s not worth the effort. Things will get worse. You’ll be ugly before you know it, lauding the exploits of others and weeping for yourself.

If you have sense, maybe you aren’t that self centered.

Give up.


Things that go bump in the night

posted by marco on 05.05.12 at 09:56, computers, technology, 2 comments Permalink

My computer rebooted last night. Twice. Once at 11:24pm and again at 2:00am, though now its clock is an hour behind, so who knows when it really was.

I can't figure out what happened--I don't think the power went out, since my alarm clock wasn't reset. Did my computer get hacked into? Maybe, though the only port open is 22 and I haven't heard of any recent ssh vulnerabilities (and although I do regularly get batches of ssh login attempts for common usernames and/or root from far-flung IP addresses, I seriously doubt that's it).

My system logs aren't particularly helpful--nothing shows up right before the reboots.


comment by marco on 05.05.12 at 15:55
Oh shit--now the hacker broke into a computer at Lauren's place and is posting from it...

Granola, Yogurt and Raspberries

posted by ben on 05.05.12 at 06:17, null, food, 1 comment Permalink
comment by graham on 05.05.12 at 06:51
I'm hungry...

Ah, so much professionalism!

posted by anwar on 05.05.12 at 06:13, Engineering, null, 47 comments Permalink

The following is excerpted from the end of long thread about a proposed bugfix/feature...

I agree with "Joe". "Mike" will agree too, once I explain to him the alternative. Consider his mail a random grenade lob without first checking to see what's in the foxhole. :-)

More radio - M.I.A.

posted by graham on 05.05.12 at 05:39, Missleaneus, music, 59 comments Permalink

Another KEXP live radio performance/interview. This time it's M.I.A. and her crew. I managed to not screw up getting the stream this time.

26.3mb, 28 minutes 44 seconds. Get it here.


Two buzz-words in one!

posted by devin on 05.05.11 at 08:32, Technical, coffee, 6 comments Permalink

Lambda the Ultimate has a post about a DSL for cellular automata. The language is be old (1997ish) and probably useless, but it is a nifty idea.

The game of life in Cellang:

sum := [0, 1] + [1, 1] + [1, 0] + [-1, 1] + [-1, 0] + [-1, -1] + [0, -1] + [1, -1]
cell := 1 when (sum = 2 & cell = 1) | sum = 3
     := 0 otherwise


Why would you do this?

posted by collin on 05.05.10 at 12:41, math, math, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

Screw you.

An analytic function g(z) in Omega is said to be univalent if g(z)=g(z') iff z=z', in other words, if the mapping by g is ont-to-one (the German word schlicht, which lacks an adequate translation, is also in common use).

The word schlicht is in common use? Fuck you. And it doesn't have and adequate translation? How about one-to-one or injective? And why do you use FOUR words that mean the same thing?


We are so fucked.

posted by collin on 05.05.09 at 19:27, news, news, rant, 5 comments Permalink

So there's been a lot floating around the interweb the last few days about the RealID provisions in a soon to be passed spending bill. But the scariest things come from this part of the constitution:

Article 3, Section 2

In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

Let's repeat the important part: with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make. From ars.

That last sentence is the kicker, because it looks for all the world like language that would enable Congress to wave a magic A3S2 wand over any piece of legislation no matter how outrageous and have it be completely exempt from review by the courts. The implications for the system of checks and balances if Congress actually invokes this provision are about as profound as it gets, which is why no Congress in American history has ever opted to open that particular can of worms... until now.

While I think that a national ID is bad, and useless in terms of security, setting the precident for a complete disregard of checks and balances is utterly disturbing. But then again I'm not a scholar of Constitutional law...

comment by collin on 05.05.09 at 20:10
Tired and sweaty...

Some one tell me is A3S2 does what I said above, OR gives the Supreme court first jurisdiction (as opposed to appellate)?
comment by devin on 05.05.09 at 20:31
I think it is widely recognized that the Constitution did give Congress the ability to prevent the Supreme Court from ruling on the constitutionality of legislation. It was only in 1803, in Marbury v. Madison, that the Supreme Court effectively granted itself judicial review. The decision was a remarkable bit of politics -- it granted the President (Jefferson) what he wanted, so he wouldn't make a fuss, but also asserted the right of judicial review.

Marbury v. Madison is also a deadly blow to the so-called "strict constructionists" (or "constitution-in-exile" folks) who believe that we should follow blindly only what is in the actual text of the Constitution (i.e., there is no right to privacy, because the Constitution does not grant one). Hardly anyone would argue that judicial review is a bad thing (except Congress) -- we are all indoctrinated at an early age about the separation of powers (it is what makes our government good and all others evil).

Ultimately, I think anything that appears to alter the Checks and Balances(tm) is probably doomed to fail. After all, who do you think people trust more (rightly or wrongly): Congress, or the Supreme Court.
comment by collin on 05.05.09 at 21:23
Wait? It's Pat Robertson's fault? Though it seems like the author might be a wee bit biased.

and from here
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, sir, you have described this in pretty -- this whole battle in pretty apocalyptic terms. You've said that liberals are engaged in an all-out assault on Christianity, that Democrats will appoint judges who don't share our Christian values and will dismantle Christian culture. And that the out-of-control judiciary -- and this was in your last book, Courting Disaster -- is the most serious threat America has faced in nearly 400 years of history, more serious than Al Qaeda, more serious than Nazi Germany and Japan, more serious than the Civil War?

ROBERTSON: George, I really believe that. I think they are destroying the fabric that holds our nation together. There is an assault on marriage. There's an assault on human sexuality, as [U.S. Supreme Court] Judge [Antonin] Scalia said, they've taken sides in the culture war. And on top of that, if we have a democracy, the democratic processes should be that we can elect representatives who will share our point of view and vote those things into law.

I knew I didn't like that man.
comment by scott on 05.05.10 at 00:09
No doubt about it, Pat Robertson is a first-class asshole. Probably the worst thing I've seen him do is draw up the political borders he advocates for Israel by following a passage in the Bible. ("And God granted to the Israelites blah blah blah".) I mean, GMAFB--that's a sharia mentality if ever there was one. And he added insult to injury by introducing this segment with "Israel is a fascinating place, and I've been there so many times. But they're fighting over there...", the latter sentence said as though he were explaining the situation to a three-year-old. Thanks to dear Uncle Pat for clearing that one up. And of course it was on his show that Jerry Falwell made his infamous comments blaming the ACLU and other liberal interests for angering God enough that he allowed 9/11 to happen.

I hadn't heard about this A3S2 thing, but I'm inclined to agree with Devin that it's political suicide. (And I'll note that FDR's court packing didn't go over well.)

OTOH, there's some animosity out there about the courts. But I don't think it's enough for Congress to exempt any laws from judicial review. The Constitution aside, people really believe that judicial review is just the way things work, and for Congress to cast that aside in an obvious power grab for itself would not fly.

P.S. If anyone can explain Marbury v. Madison to me I'd be interested.
comment by collin on 05.05.10 at 09:48
Good old Wikipedia has a pretty good entry on Marbury V. Madison, which for some reason I keep forgetting about. I am a bad citizen scholar.

what is called life

posted by ben on 05.05.09 at 15:38, null, rant, 2 comments Permalink

I’ve been having too many profound realizations lately. For this reason, I suspect they aren’t profound. That, and everyone around me is busy being profound too.

I can now see the artless folly in “this is how it is.”

I’m a postmodernist now, though I still don’t know what it means. I can accept that there is no overarching moral truth, but I still claim there are evolutionary imperatives. For instance, it’s bad for a social primate to go around killing its fellow monkey… interferes with the proper functioning of society and such. So, there are morals that apply to humanity as a species.

Continuing this argument, there are moral truths that apply to life. Here I invoke my beloved Schrodinger: “life is an entropy reducing machine.” So, it is contrary to the fundamental nature of life to increase (local) entropy. Acting in concert with this nature is in some sense moral.

comment by scott on 05.05.09 at 23:59
I've thought for a while that it'd be useful to draw a distinction between "right vs. wrong" and "good vs. bad", in which "right" and "wrong" would refer to the morality of an action, taking into account all of its consequences, while "good" and "bad" would refer to some particular consequence of an action.

With this distinction drawn, it seems to me pretty safe to say that consciousness gives us a basis for describing things as good and bad, in that pleasure is good and suffering bad.

Don't know exactly how this relates, just strikes me as a reasonable thing to say about morality.

As for the idea that killing (e.g.) is immoral because it messes up the functioning of society, I agre--but from a moral philosophy point of view you would need some argument as to why society's functioning "properly" is morally right before you can say that actions which derail that proper functioning are morally wrong.
comment by ben on 05.05.10 at 00:27
Things that derail the proper functioning of society can be shown immoral by another invocation of Schrodinger. Causing society to malfunction causes problems with our habitat and our reproduction.

I wonder if I would enjoy the world that operates on this morality. It's sort of a useless system if I wouldn't. Maybe it needs suplemental irrational morality...


Math is nonsense.

posted by collin on 05.05.08 at 19:27, math, nonsense, math, random, Leave a comment Permalink







You should all buy this showerhead.

posted by ben on 05.05.08 at 18:04, null, puppies, 1 comment Permalink
comment by anwar on 05.05.08 at 22:01
You're absolutely right Ben, this one does kick ass.

I have v0.9 of this showerhead (4 jets instead of 6) in my bathroom.

Everything will be ok if I can find these three tools...

posted by collin on 05.05.08 at 16:13, nonsense, random, Leave a comment Permalink

Get perpendicular!

posted by collin on 05.05.08 at 14:36, nonsense, news, random, Leave a comment Permalink

Does the superparamagnetic effect have you confused? Do lie awake at night wondering how they'll increase harddrive densities? Can you only learn concepts from singing cartoon characters? Check it.

"A Declaration of Independence from the need for Fascism"

posted by graham on 05.05.08 at 00:00, Missleaneus, politics, 1 comment Permalink

This is an excerpt from a two-page paid advertisement in the current Seattle Weekly. Incidentally, it was written by the founder of the bakery that makes the baked goods for my local coffee shop.

As one who claims to be the current incarnation of the person who previously incarnated as Abel, Isaac, Jesus, King Arthur, Thomas Jefferson and Mohandas Gandhi, among others, I believe that it is my role to declare the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth in the Nation of New Israel and to ask for the support of the leadership of the USA in bringing about this Nation.

The foundation of this Nation (to use the language of Jefferson) will be laid upon such principles and its power organized in such forms as follow:

All persons will be joined in a single union of marriage with their Leader, consummated en masse on a regular basis in the Temple. No nuclear families in this Kingdom, only one great big happy, fully alive, orgiastic, taboo-and-phobia-free family that parties together every night. All men and women will see themselves as brothers and sisters, equal as the children and lovers of their one mother and father. No patriarchy, no taboos, no division into nuclear families, no homophobia, no aversions, no shame, no hiding, no secrets, no sexual repression.

-Arthur Jefferson Fairhall

comment by collin on 05.05.08 at 14:07
I assume that this man is insane, as opposed to joking. To wit
I believe that there will be a moment in time that will occur in 2005 when I will be recognized by important persons and institutions, including the Roman Catholic Church, as the person I've been claiming to be.
Are you Jesus? Oh, you allready said that.


I wish I were profit...

posted by collin on 05.05.07 at 22:10, nonsense, news, news, rant, random, politics, Leave a comment Permalink

I can't decide if I think this is abuse of language, or wonderful...

Already, four of the six drug makers have collectively announced plans to return $56 billion in profits to the United States. Two others say they are still considering but could repatriate an additional $18 billion.

From the Times here. This says it's a proper definition, whereas Webster doesn't. Anyone that can see the OED care to end this argument? (that I'm having with myself)

completely fucked

posted by ben on 05.05.07 at 16:17, null, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

1 letter of rejection to go... They tell me to pray. Am I supposed to pray that God will intervene and favor me over some other person who may well be more deserving of a position at Davis? If God is just, there is no reason for God to favor me. And I quote: "God has nothing to do with it."


tiger mountain

posted by ben on 05.05.06 at 20:11, null, null, 1 comment Permalink

comment by graham on 05.05.12 at 05:17
I ate the last one,
Savoring beany goodness.
Too bad you left it!

What is happening?

posted by collin on 05.05.06 at 12:00, math, nonsense, math, random, Leave a comment Permalink

When iterating a polynomial over the complex plane, e.g. f(z)=z-z^3/3+c , there exist parameters c such that the orbit of one critical point p is bounded and another q is not. In this case p is in the filled Julia set (by definition) for c and q appears to be on the boundary. Suprisingly the filled Julia set for c is not simply connected nor completely disconected, in the case of f(z) and c=-2+0.1*i the filled Julia set appear to have two components. This seems to happen at least some of the time.

Holy Crap!

posted by devin on 05.05.06 at 10:08, Absurdities, coffee, Leave a comment Permalink

It's getting harder and harder to be a fundamentalist in the 21st century.

saw old boy

posted by ben on 05.05.06 at 01:36, coffee, coffee, Leave a comment Permalink



posted by collin on 05.05.05 at 21:42, nonsense, random, Leave a comment Permalink

I just realized that the last Intel processor I bought was 7 years and 10 processors ago, and that was a 266MHz PII.


posted by ben on 05.05.05 at 14:20, coffee, coffee, Leave a comment Permalink

No, the GUI is in your mind.

posted by collin on 05.05.05 at 14:20, science, random, Leave a comment Permalink

There's an article at Arstechnica about the development of the GUI [graphical user interface, for anyone reading this that doesn't know]. Here are a few paragraphs.

Like many developments in the history of computing, some of the ideas for a GUI computer were thought of long before the technology was even available to build such a machine. One of the first people to express these ideas was Vannevar Bush. In the early 1930s he first wrote of a device he called the "Memex," which he envisioned as looking like a desk with two touch screen graphical displays, a keyboard, and a scanner attached to it. It would allow the user to access all human knowledge using connections very similar to how hyperlinks work. At this point, the digital computer had not been invented, so there was no way for such a device to actually work, and Bush's ideas were not widely read or discussed at that time.

However, starting in about 1937 several groups around the world started constructing digital computers. World War II provided much of the motivation and funding to produce programmable calculating machines, for everything from calculating artillery firing tables to cracking the enemy's secret codes. The perfection and commercial production of vacuum tubes provided the fast switching mechanisms these computers needed to be useful. In 1945, Bush revisited his older ideas in an article entitled "As We May Think," which was published in the Atlantic Monthly, and it was this essay that inspired a young Douglas Englebart to try and actually build such a machine.

Douglas Englebart completed his degree in electrical engineering in 1948 and settled down in a nice job at the NACA Institute (the forerunner of NASA). However, one day while driving to work he had an epiphany: he realized that his real calling as an engineer was not to work on small projects that might only benefit a few people. Instead, he wanted to work on something that would benefit all of humanity. He recalled Bush's essay and started thinking about ways in which a machine could be built that would augment human intellect. During the war he had worked as a radar operator, so he was able to envision a display system built around cathode ray tubes where the user could build models of information graphically and jump around dynamically to whatever interested them.

Finding someone to fund his wild ideas proved to be a long and difficult task.

This set is messed up.

posted by collin on 05.05.05 at 11:49, null, math, null, math, Leave a comment Permalink


The most interesting IEEE paper EVER!

posted by collin on 05.05.04 at 23:06, null, math, null, math, random, 1 comment Permalink

Seriously. I haven't read it since I just found it. One of the authors is still at Berkeley...

Ok here it is.

comment by marco on 05.05.05 at 14:09
Yeah, I heard that there was some trouble after this was published because someone in one of the funding agencies (NSF or DARPA or somewhere) got upset that their money was going towards "Finding Naked People." I think the authors later wished they had chosen another name. But it's cool that they didn't.

And even so, some of the pictures in the paper are actually surprisingly explicit...

I am Poseidon.

posted by collin on 05.05.04 at 16:58, null, nonsense, null, random, Leave a comment Permalink

I can buy fish online?

my friends should write novels (you in particular)

posted by ben on 05.05.04 at 16:33, math, rant, 2 comments Permalink

I've decided to turn my thesis into a conference paper. Working on it is one of the most bittersweet things I have ever done. Why bother if I have no academic future...

comment by collin on 05.05.04 at 16:47
Me in particular?
comment by ben on 05.05.04 at 17:47
It should be about love and math and end in tragedy.

In Bollywood there is only inneundo.

posted by ben on 05.05.04 at 15:07, art, movies, Leave a comment Permalink
-Bride and Prejudice

reading as antisocial

posted by ben on 05.05.04 at 15:05, null, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

They told us we need characters to identify with. If not, we might identify with the wrong people and not enjoy reading. Then we would never be cultured and that would make baby Jesus cry. They never guessed I would identify with characters I have nothing in common with.

Be ready for a nuclear blast

posted by marco on 05.05.04 at 11:53, null, random, random, Leave a comment Permalink


Orson Scott Card is a jackass.

posted by collin on 05.05.03 at 20:13, nonsense, null, rant, random, 1 comment Permalink

I tried to read this but didn't get very far. But here are some choice pieces:

The Massachusetts Supreme Court has not yet declared that "day" shall now be construed to include that which was formerly known as "night," but it might as well.

By declaring that homosexual couples are denied their constitutional rights by being forbidden to "marry," it is treading on the same ground.

Do you want to know whose constitutional rights are being violated? Everybody's. Because no constitution in the United States has ever granted the courts the right to make vast, sweeping changes in the law to reform society.

As for the last sentence, WTF? Does this ring a bell?


347 U.S. 483
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
No. 1. Argued: Argued December 9, 1952Reargued December 8, 1953 --- Decided: Decided May 17, 1954

Segregation of white and Negro children in the public schools of a State solely on the basis of race, pursuant to state laws permitting or requiring such segregation, denies to Negro children the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment -- even though the physical facilities and other "tangible" factors of white and Negro schools may be equal. Pp. 486-496.(a) The history of the Fourteenth Amendment is inconclusive as to its intended effect on public education. Pp. 489-490.(b) The question presented in these cases must be determined not on the basis of conditions existing when the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, but in the light of the full development of public education and its present place in American life throughout the Nation. Pp. 492-493.(c) Where a State has undertaken to provide an opportunity for an education in its public schools, such an opportunity is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms. P. 493.(d) Segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race deprives children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities, even though the physical facilities and other "tangible" factors may be equal. Pp. 493-494.(e) The "separate but equal" doctrine adopted in Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, has no place in the field of public education. P. 495.(f) The cases are restored to the docket for further argument on specified questions relating to the forms of the decrees. Pp. 495-496.

comment by ben on 05.05.04 at 15:13
Lesbian Jew interviews Orson Scott Card on Salon...

Of course...

posted by collin on 05.05.03 at 19:55, nonsense, random, Leave a comment Permalink

Of course I would like to purchase 50 pounds of knives. (via boing*2)

Why does my phonebook mock me?

posted by collin on 05.05.03 at 19:44, math, nonsense, null, math, random, Leave a comment Permalink


posted by ben on 05.05.03 at 16:33, art, music, Leave a comment Permalink
So be ready, if you're wack it may be vital
It be across the map because good music travels
The music that I heard started at the sugar shack
on some killer MC raps it was never lookin back
I figured that, he's a writer, and not a back biter
Original sound profound a hyper soul cypher
Cypher to soul, takin lyrics out of control
So searchin was emboldened of reason but we don't fold
Or must I explain, because it's gettin kinda old
I'm gonna stop, and let Illogic gain control
-Illogic, "Blacksmif"


posted by collin on 05.05.03 at 13:43, art, null, 5 comments Permalink

Movies that were written by playwrights have better dialog.


You think love is simple? You think the heart is like a diagram?

Ever seen the human heart? It looks like a fist wrapped in blood.


Lemme speak to the Chinaman... You tell him the only man ever heard him call on Jesus.

comment by ben on 05.05.04 at 15:29
I'm having trouble parsing this. Does it mean these things:
(i) Let me speak to the chairman
(ii) I am the only man ever.
(iii) I heard him call on Jesus.
(iv) Tell him (ii) and (iii).
comment by collin on 05.05.04 at 22:31
No, none of those. In the scene you see Val Kilmer talking on a payphone, and you can't hear the other person. So one would assume the other person said something like "Who's calling?" in between the two sentences. And it's "china-man", a la Maxine Hong Kingston. As for the "ever" I guess it's a "contraction of "who ever." The Chinaman actually turns out to be an Arab (guessing based on look/accent and Kilmer then goes to Dubai) who happens to sell chinese art, and illegal weapons.
comment by ben on 05.05.05 at 15:47
Let me speak to the chinaman. You tell him the only man who ever heard him call on Jesus is calling.
comment by collin on 05.05.05 at 17:43
Yes, but that doesn't really have the same ring to it. And "Chinaman" is capitalized since it's a name.

miller music

posted by ben on 05.05.03 at 03:15, null, kittens, music, Leave a comment Permalink
Milkshake, milkshake,
I love to feel you sweat,
You don't have to go to the pool
if you want me to make you wet.

-Louis XIV, Pledge of Allegiance


Uh, good? No, wait, bad?

posted by collin on 05.05.02 at 23:19, nonsense, news, news, random, Leave a comment Permalink

Posted 3/29/2004 6:34 PM
Teen girl charged with posting nude photos on Internet

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A 15-year-old girl has been arrested for taking nude photographs of her self and posting them on the Internet, police said.

The girl, whose identity was withheld, was accused of sending out photographs of herself in various states of undress and performing a variety of sexual acts. She sent them to people she met in chat rooms on the Internet, police said.

Police seized her computer and found dozens of photographs stored on the hard drive. Authorities did not say how police learned about the girl.

She has been charged with sexual abuse of children, possession of child pornography and dissemination of child pornography.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Via USAToday, and that appears to be all there is on the internets about that.


posted by ben on 05.05.02 at 19:12, null, puppies, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

Freedom of speech means nothing... it is, in fact, an inalienable right. The problem is not the ability to speak freely, but the retaliation that comes afterward. There doesn't seem to be any clear answer to what amount of retaliation should be allowed. I am inclined to say any retaliation for any speech should be a crime, but I don't know what that means. If somebody says something stupid and they are told as much, has freedom been curtailed? If they are ostracized? Never hired? Fired? Jailed? Killed? Clearly the line comes early in this progression, but where?

Then I go on... there are things that should be protected speech, but are not. Copyright should fade away. An MP3 is just a bunch of numbers... Writing those numbers to someone else shouldn't be a crime. The problem with child pornography is not the pornography itself, but how it is produced. Soon there will be computer generated child pornography. Should looking at that be a crime? The reason child pornography is bad is because people suffer in its production, not because naked pictures of children are inherently evil. And hate speech is obviously speech... I don't understand how it can be banned.

Laws should only punish wrong actions. Any transfer of information should be protected speech. Further, both the speaker and the listener must be protected.

Is the listener protected in the constitution? I guess there's the right to free association, but I want something more direct...

MySQL error!

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