Archives for: June 2005

read more books

posted by ben on 05.06.30 at 23:05, art, art, 1 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.

Comment from: Malady [Visitor] Email ·
haha thats me. And yep the lighting sucked and stuff but it was a joke that went a little out of control on the web and now I'm all over the place because my friend posted me on boingboing. but yes thought I would say hello:)

Permalink 01/28/06 @ 18:47


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 from: graham [Member] Email ·
Red wine + assloads of garlic
Permalink 07/02/05 @ 00:28
Comment from: ben [Member] Email ·
Wine then... I don't think the sauce can sustain any more garlic.
Permalink 07/02/05 @ 01:08


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 from: ben [Member] Email ·

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.

Permalink 06/30/05 @ 15:35
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Permalink 09/20/05 @ 09:07

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 from: graham [Member] Email ·
It sounds like they spent about 30 seconds coming up with a name for the building.
Permalink 06/29/05 @ 22:35

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, Leave a comment 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, Leave a comment 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, Leave a comment 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.

Comment from: Tim [Visitor] Email
No i do not know you, but you have the same name as my bro,
Ben Cheek
so i just thought i would say hi!
Hey yeah! i am the first to leave a comment!

Permalink 11/03/05 @ 14:14

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 from: Other Graham [Member] Email ·
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.
Permalink 06/17/05 @ 10:04
posted by anwar on 05.06.16 at 12:28, Engineering, null, Leave a 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 from: ben [Member] Email ·
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."
Permalink 06/15/05 @ 12:14

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 from: ben [Member] Email ·
It's such crap, but I can't stop watching it... why is no one here?
Permalink 06/14/05 @ 03:12
Comment from: Andrew Johnson [Visitor] Email ·
Don't say the fuck word.

The Darn News
Permalink 06/14/05 @ 11:02

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 from: marco [Member] Email ·
"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
Permalink 06/15/05 @ 09:31

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 from: devin [Member] Email ·
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.
Permalink 06/13/05 @ 19:50
Comment from: ben [Member] Email ·
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.
Permalink 06/13/05 @ 19:57
Comment from: graham [Member] Email ·
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).
Permalink 06/13/05 @ 23:40
Comment from: ben [Member] Email ·
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.
Permalink 06/14/05 @ 00:00

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.

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.

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.

Comment from: Other Graham [Visitor] Email ·
something interesting along these lines:
Permalink 06/11/05 @ 09:20

I tried it.

posted by graham on 05.06.10 at 16:43, coffee, Ideas, 9 comments Permalink

Comment from: ben [Member] Email ·
and? Not a good thing? Bitterness beyond bitterness?
Permalink 06/10/05 @ 17:04
Comment from: graham [Member] Email ·
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.
Permalink 06/10/05 @ 17:08
Comment from: collin [Member] Email ·
Mate wasn't supposed to be the only ingredient.
Permalink 06/10/05 @ 22:58
Comment from: graham [Member] Email ·
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.
Permalink 06/11/05 @ 16:35
Comment from: ben [Member] Email ·
And there was to be coffee too, right?
Permalink 06/11/05 @ 18:02
Comment from: graham [Member] Email ·
I'm not sure... maybe.
Anything other ideas for ingredients while we're at it?
Permalink 06/11/05 @ 18:44
Comment from: ben [Member] Email ·
hazelnuts, nutmeg, vanilla and cinnamon
Permalink 06/14/05 @ 03:19
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Permalink 11/29/05 @ 12:32
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Permalink 11/30/05 @ 12:34

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 from: graham [Member] Email ·
e) A Character in Dragonball Z
Permalink 06/10/05 @ 17:12
Comment from: ben [Member] Email ·
f) pomo
g) mo
Permalink 06/14/05 @ 03:21

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 from: anwar [Member] Email ·
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.
Permalink 06/11/05 @ 10:11

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 from: ben [Member] Email ·
I bet Antibalas with be crazier... and they have a name not unlike Sun Ra...
Permalink 06/09/05 @ 19:19

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 from: ben [Member] Email ·
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
Permalink 06/08/05 @ 19:52
Comment from: graham [Member] Email ·
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.
Permalink 06/09/05 @ 13:21
Comment from: graham [Member] Email ·
So says maths is "Chiefly British" for mathematics. This leads me to wonder, do most europeans learn English from British speakers?
Permalink 06/09/05 @ 13:32

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 from: collin [Member] Email ·
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.
Permalink 06/08/05 @ 17:21

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 from: other graham [Visitor] Email ·
I think the paper weight, finish, and printing for business cards is as important as the design. So if you want to use this green and black design, you should probably get the thing printed in two colors (not 4-color process), and put together a duotone file. My other thought would be to shrink the type. It's big. Make sure the card feels substantial, too, and consider whether you want gloss, matte, or uncoated finishes. I would avoid that bumpy ink, but that's a personal preference. All this, advice from someone who had to buy business cards to be taken seriously in Japan
Permalink 06/07/05 @ 13:52
Comment from: other graham [Visitor] Email ·
Also, i'm assuming you're guessing that people who see the card will know what the hell that green thing is. I don't. But it looks theoretical.
Permalink 06/07/05 @ 13:53
Comment from: graham [Member] Email ·
Yeah, the green thing looks real technicated.
Permalink 06/07/05 @ 14:25
Comment from: ben [Member] Email ·

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.

Permalink 06/07/05 @ 15:46
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 from: collin [Member] Email ·
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.
Permalink 06/08/05 @ 00:31

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 from: collin [Member] Email ·
In the future all computers will use Intel processors.
Permalink 06/06/05 @ 18:21

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, 2 comments Permalink

Available at REI. (and lighter than Ti)

Comment from: graham [Member] Email ·
Ooooh... "fold-flat technology," sounds pretty high tech!
Permalink 06/03/05 @ 23:18
Comment from: Collin as well [Visitor] Email ·
How do you make that?

I have a graphic design project, and that bowl would be perfect for it.

Permalink 11/14/05 @ 22:24

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.

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 from: ben [Member] Email ·
Permalink 06/02/05 @ 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 from: ben [Member] Email ·
And Venti? What is there to be said in favor of the Starbucks system?
Permalink 06/01/05 @ 20:19
Comment from: graham [Member] Email ·
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."
Permalink 06/02/05 @ 00:30
Comment from: ben [Member] Email ·
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
Permalink 06/02/05 @ 04:09
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