Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Filibuster Sword and Human Seeds

Yesterday's walk to work was through some rain, and there were leaves floating in puddles that had interesting patterns revealed as they absorbed the water. Today's walk had those same leaves reduced to lace - veins remained while the flesh of the leaf had largely disintegrated. It reminded me a bit of Fractint... I'll put up some pictures soon - I selected two of the prettier specimens (my office has a fair number of interesting leaves, rocks, and similar I've spotted over the years).

Looking at the leaves, it reminded me of how durable zombies are as a staple bit of horror. Skeletons are probably the best analogue to these leaves, in that the barest remnants of structure are intact, but human skeletons are a little too alien to our daily lives to be at the "sweet spot" for horror. Additionally, they're a bit implausible - the human body won't even hold together as mere bones, and so the problem-solver inside each of us, applied to zombies, suggests we just grab one of the bones and pull it out of the skeleton. Zombies don't require such a suspension of disbelief. Additionally, I suspect that zombies tie into a particular biological horror in our species - the urge to shun/destroy/fear the sufficiently deformed/degenerate (as a stronger/more specific form of ingroup/outgroup mentality, possibly part of a mechanism best understood through Ev.Psych). Zombies are at that particular sweet spot in that they are essentially human in capacity, but permanently dehumanised/animalised. Perhaps horror can be understood as caressing of our collective neuroses.

On the topic of Neuroses, I managed to break the hard drive in my Neuros again. I sometimes think I should work for Consumer Reports...

I think it would be interesting to play with pattern learning/application tools to make a piece of software that would attempt to learn the patterns beneath people's attempts to generate random numbers off the top of their head. Ideally, people would generate a set of 15 or so numbers, and the software would go down the sequence, making best guesses on what's next - the chunking would presumably regularise the sequence a bit (as people would probably draw from more difficult inputs to match if they were confronted, move-by-move, with the rights/wrongs). I might play with this when I'm done with the argument passing framework I'm writing in Perl that I mentioned a few days ago.

Amusement: redesigning/modernising pirates

  • The eyepatch could have a single-eye high-resolution LCD display for immersive second environments
  • The pegleg would contain most of the computer - data storage, motherboard, etc.
  • The parrot could contain both a webcam and a projector, for pirate presentation/scanning needs

For the curious, things I am passionate about or interested in vaguely in the sphere of computer science:

  • Computer architectures/compilers/OS's for clustering, particularly NUMA, fault-tolerant distributed algorithms, etc
  • Programming languages that go interesting places in being crazily dynamic (e.g. objects that change classes at runtime), odd (e.g. object-process binding), or antiformalist (general philosophy: if the language purists wince, somebody's doing something right (even more general philosophy: if purists/formalists of any kind wince, somebody's doing something right, but there are exceptions))
  • Software that touches users and lets them organise information more richly/intuitively (wikis, blogs, discussion boards, and things between)
  • Different ways CLIs might work
  • Filesystems, VFS-type layers

Playing with Devanagari script.... I don't have the hang of it yet, but the letters can be very pretty. I've been thinking about picking up a bit of either Hindi or Parsi. Decent textbook suggestions for either would be welcome.


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