Archives for: October 2005

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 from: graham [Member] Email ·
That's pretty much the worst video ever made.
Permalink 10/28/05 @ 19:18

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 from: collin [Member] Email ·
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?
Permalink 10/27/05 @ 20:30
Comment from: graham [Member] Email ·
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.
Permalink 10/28/05 @ 19:45

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 from: ben [Member] Email ·
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.
Permalink 10/23/05 @ 02:07

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...

Comment from: Stephanie [Visitor] Email
Ok ok. I'm commenting on SOMETHING. But not your post. I just read that JWB (John Wayne Bobbit) has made a few porns!! EWW!!

Talk about making lemonade out of one's penis, er, I mean, lemons...

I hope you're doing well! Say "Hi" to Lulu for me.
Permalink 10/08/05 @ 16:18

That damn zeitgeist...

posted by collin on 05.10.07 at 14:25, nonsense, visual, rant, random, 2 comments 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 from: graham [Member] Email ·
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.
Permalink 10/28/05 @ 20:01
Comment from: collin [Member] Email ·
To answer your questions...
They glow. Yes, I guess. Yes. Yes, or with fingers of a lemur. And yes it is stupid.
Permalink 11/14/05 @ 17:03

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.

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