November 24th, 2003


Late Night Knees

Another journal entry, made too late at night..I'm working on revising my Psych term paper.. well, probablyfinished with that for tonight. The rough draft got a much bettergrade than I thought it deserved, but I'm hoping to actually get it to thestate where I'm willing to call it decent quality before I turn it in.I'm supposed to present it on Tuesday (although final draft isn't due then),and so I hope to have it completely done then, so I can devote my fullnon-work attention to my Philosophy term paper, which I have a topic for(albeit not a very interesting one -- a comparitive review of notions ofconfirmation.. I need to figure out a way to say something interestingin that vein, or it'll be a dog to write).

Today (today meaning since I woke up on Sunday), I took a short run..It was enjoyable, although I should've checked the weather so I wouldn't'veworn a coat (it could've been a longer run then). Surprisingly, my knee,which often hurts at night if I shift onto it at bad angles, doesn't seemto take badly to running at all. I am disappointed that my knee isn't backto normal, but at least the only time it reminds me that it's not fine iswhile in the odd positions involved in sleep. Hmm.

This weekend has pretty much been a weekend for work and school, with avery small amount of play mixed in. I spent a lot of time getting a systemredone, and at least a bit of time getting involved in putting outfires regarding some malfunctioning hardware on another box. Apart fromreading a little bit of one of the books that was sent to PUSH, I've beenplaying a bit of the old SNES game, Final Fantasy 3, on an emulator.It's kind of sad -- I actually have the cartrage here, but haven't had aSNES for ages, so this is the best I can do. On the upside, at least thisway I can speed up the game for the boring parts. An hour and a half of thatwas a nice break from the brainstorming... and I guess the brain can only takeso much serious stuff without a break. One frustration I have with the paper isthat the assignment suggests breaking the analysis of Autism into threedifferent aspects of mental function, with a few sample aspects beingproblem solving, memory, attention, perception, .. That's good as anoutline, but often a good analysis of a particular aspect of the illnesscrosses over more than one of those categories, and when I got my rough draftback, one of the analyses that I liked was marked as being such a mix.I'm not saying they're bad categories -- some kind of organization is neededfor these things, and this is a pretty good one, but it seems to me thatit often makes a lot of sense to analyze things that don't fit the categoriesvery well. Oh well :)

It turns out that Bad Religion has authorized a lotof downloads of various pieces of their music, and that the music videos Ihad downloaded earlier of theirs were actually legal. Interesting... I thinkit's interesting how their sound has changed over time -- their older stuffwas more traditionally punk, while their more recent stuff is closer topop-punk (compare supersonic or sorrow, both recent songs, to infected orthe new america, both older songs). There still is a spectrum, but thelater songs are more harmonic and 'sweet', where the older songs are moreexuberant. (Sidenote -- the logo of this dictionaryis really cute, in a very Japan kind of way)

I've been chewing on a thought partially inspired by a recent discussion withmy Philosophy prof -- is philosophical naturalism a sell-out? In sum, it claimsthat we don't need (or get)A Priori anything, and base everything off ofwhat works. In its framework, math, the scientific method, and basicallyanything that's 'softer than the nature of things' is the result of pragmatism,and doesn't need any explanation. It claims that scientific investigationinto these fields cannot, in principle, produce well-founded results. The positive side of the theory, of course, seems less objectionable than thenegative -- that we learn the processes of science by experimentation, andof course looking at the history of science, the invention of the double-blind,and similar additions to an experimenter's toolchest, and that we didn't use orneed a priori to get there.. in fact, can observe the people whoexpect everything to be founded on what they consider philosophicallyrigid ground scurry rapidly where new tools are built to tie them somehowdown to their first principles so it looks like they're natural outcomes oflogic.. What naturalism suggests we're doing seems ok, it's what it suggestswe can't do that seems problematic. Specifically, it seems to limitphilosophical inquiry, in a way, by suggesting that the tools of science are'mere data', and not part of an examinable pattern, in fact, that no suchunderlying pattern can exist.. It at least wants to rule out that a priori]will get you anywhere.. This is, of course, an interesting problem for peoplewho want to consider things like game theory or statistics to prove to beanything but finely-tuned heuristics for understanding. We're used toconsider some of the things suggested by game theory and statistics tobe heuristics, but not the entire disciplines themselves. We tend to trustMathematics, Logic, and the rest of these tools implicitly.. how shouldwe think of them?

I'll comment on the news later. I'm tired.


Delayed Addition

I think I finally have put two and two together... I woke up witha migraine headache today, and pretty much just lay there with my headunder a blanket for about 3 hours until it faded, leaving me with just amoderate headache (which I still have). I don't get these very often, althoughI used to get them a lot more often... and I think the two common factors areSoy Sauce and dehydration. Yesterday, I was doing dinner while working on mypaper, and because I didn't want to leave and disrupt my chain of thought,I made some Saag Paneer on rice.. Nothing unusual there -- I have it aboutonce a week, depending on my shopping habits. However, I made a lot more ricethan I had Saag Paneer to mix in, so I decided to add some soy sauce into themix. I like soy sauce (although I haven't cooked with it for quite some time),and typically use a lot of it. Together, the Saag and the Soy made a very tastymeal.. But I think I have good reason to believe that the Soy is to blame formy headache. Some websites suggest that soy sauce is high in MSG,which can cause migraines. I guess I should probably banish soy sauce frommy cooking supplies..

The situation in Georgia has been largely resolved. As unplanned governmentalshifts go, this was relatively painless... I'm guessing the fact that he wasousted for highly-visible corruption, instead of doing something wherea good percentage of people would rally behind him, is the reason..Although Russia does have problems with violent factions that are veryanti-foreigner, this might just be, as suggested, poor maintenance.Interesting that, at the end, they compare fire death statistics to Britainand the U.S., and that the standards have gone downhill since the end of theSoviet era..

I'm amused by the really funny, silly questions this FAQ has. It'sfor a company that does sound analysis of music to correlate the work withsales. It's a perfect example of the 'spiritualist notion of life' that Iam hoping to stomp out, the kind of thinking that led people to invent thesoul, and nowadays makes them do their best to hold back science from"crossing barriers that should not be crossed". Even if computers nowadaysdo not create music, or demonstrate human or posthuman intelligence,eventually they will, and for those of you who are doing your best to dragyour heels, you're gonna lose. We're going to have artificial andsemi-artificial people, electronic or not, and they're going to be growing upwith your kids, and they'll be accepted as people, and in the end, when yousee them, your antiquated notions will be cut off at this generation or thenext. And racists, you're going to look even more foolish, looking likeanti-Irish people look today, hanging on to your master/favoured/chosen raceswhile the rest of the world's motions move you from being one step behindto two steps.. Transhumanism.. it's the future.

I had a dream, light and carefreeBut now there's doubt and gravityBut I won't run in place (Are we blind?) in the human rat race (There's no way)I can set the pace (What we have) and accept my fate (Is shattered faith) -- Bad Religion, "Shattered Faith"

I earlier commented how I don't need my office anymore, thanks to my laptopand wireless. I also commented on how some companies are going entirely thatway, with smart cards letting employees work anywhere. Interesting howthis article indicates that this is cannibalizing the real estate efficiencies always are worrying for some players in capitalism..Imagine, as a thought experiment, that a group of people gained magical(or sci-fi, doesn't matter) abilities, and had something like a TARDIS(From Dr. Who, a spaceship that's bigger on the inside than the outside,containing a full home, food creation facilities, and moves from place to placein the universe by just appearing or disappearing as needed). Suddenly, thosepeople don't need anyone to sell them a home, nor do they need to go to thesupermarket, or a car, or fuel, or electricity, or any number of other things.Suddenly, that market shift results in the weakening or collapse of businessesthat used to supply such things. In a really big economy, such shifts could beenormously destructive. It's roughly analogous to the threat that advances infuel technology could end up turning Arabia's economy into .. a desert :)The countries in the area can see the handwriting on the wall though, andmost are starting to work on diversifying their assets so when the day comes,they won't be without a paddle.. Speaking of dangers of new efficiencies,Advertisers, beware -- they're starting to recycle advertising ideas..

Here's an analysis of why Muslims have little dedicatedrepresentation in the United States. In the end, I'm against more religiouspeople in our government, but, and here's the thing I'm not sure about,Muslims might force the Christians here to deal with the fact that they're notthe only game in town, and any fighting they do might be useful for temperingor weakening both to the extent that secularism can advance. I would suggestthat it might lead to less of a "blank check" policy towards Israel, butgiven what scum like Billy Graham think, perhaps that's not too solid a thinganyhow, and I worry that, instead of principle guiding foreign policy onIsrael to finding a long-term peaceful solution, sentiment could causepolicy to swing way off the other way. If only people wern't so bloodyemotional and jingoistic on these things, and would stop playing games ofidentity... But yeah, in the end I'd be thrilled to see neither Xians norMuslims having much representation, but it's possible, depending on howthings work out, that having both will be to the advantage of my point of view.

I find this amusing :)This too, in a different way.

Let's make sure we understand the issues involved with the Canadian drugreimportation controversy. Some states want to formalize agreements to importmedicines from Canada, where they're cheaper. Most of these medicines were madeoriginally in the United States, and are cheaper because Canada has pricecontrols on drugs. This means that drug companies, while still doing businessin Canada (as there's some profit possible), are using the United States astheir market to get their core profits. Reimports threaten those companies,as they effectively extend Canada's price controls into the United States..What can they do about it? They lose big if they withdraw from Canada, astheir competitors can still make profit there, even more with their absence..Their best shot is to work to overturn the price controls there, greasing theappropriate political palms.. There is an interesting interaction between'economic soverignty' and trade here, and one might even ask why the states,or indeed the people of the United States don't simply demand similar pricecaps domestically. Perhaps the drug companies found it easier or more prudentto get involved with American politicians, and are paying for it now, or perhapsit would be politically difficult to accept a local 'interference with capitalism',while Americans can get the same thing without the embarassment by using thisloophole, which requires *just* enough analysis that your common Americanisn't going to get it unless he/she thinks about it. Of course, if you'rereading my blog, there's a good chance this will have occured to you.

This is pretty obvious..Clearly, Turkey's church/state relations arn't that of things seperated, butrather, the churches are subordinate to the state.

That's all. My headache is mostly gone over the hours of work with many littlebreaks I've taken to write this entry. For future reference, the entry time iswhen I start the BLOG, not when I end it.


Frozen Interfaces

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Did ya know...That sqrt(2) = 2 * sin(Pi/4) ?Bet you didn't. :)

The weather is really getting nasty.Today, during one of my breaks, I spent some time cleaning mybookmarks.. Probably about half were obsolete, and while trimming thehierarchy, I neded up removing some branches that got too narrow..I came across one page that I was particularly sad to see go --It was a page on KIBO, part of early geek kultur that's justgone now.. and I don't think anything like him could come about intoday's internet... all the advertising bastards, the profiteers,curse them for taking that beautiful community, and destroying itunder their collective weight. Ladies and gentlemen, toast withwhatever you've got, to Tale and KIBO. Remember the Usenet!Hmm.. one interesting thing -- of the sites that are no longermaintained, the ones on Geocities seem to have disappeared muchfaster than those elsewhere -- they actually seem to put some effortinto removing dead sites. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or not..

It looks like Srees is going to close for the season soon.. The Sree family is heading to India for a month, and so the truck and therestaurant won't be there. I guess I'll need to figure out where else toeat.. I'll be saving as many of the mandatory vacation days as possiblefor later use when I want to do something with them.. meaning that while I'llhave classes off, I'll be working.. with any luck, on Christmas, New Years,and all the days surrounding them that are supposed to be vacation. Indeference to my parents, I'll probably head home whatever weekend is closestto Xmas to say hi to everyone who shows up. But, at least as currently planned,I'm going to skip Christmas.. for the simple reason that I'm not a Christian,and that I'm not going to put up with being dragged into religious crapanymore. My parents will no doubt have a cow, but just as christians stake outclaims for themselves, this is something I'm staking out for my flavour ofAtheism -- I will not participate in your traditions. I will not hold yourhands while you do your superstitions, I will not come to your celebrationof a dangerous myth. Whatever Jesus really believed or said, be it like whatthe Muslims or Christians think or not, he's just another dead guy, killedby the Romans almost two thousand years ago. I'm not taking part, and doubtI ever will.

A fragment: Be careful of making your system depend on software that comesfrom outside -- any bugs in new versions, or upgrading problems, might breakthe OS. That's why there has traditionally been reluctance to make modernLinuces depend on Perl or Python.. some vendors do the wrong thing, andhave a static perl in /usr/bin, and another perl elsewhere. The right thing isto have a "sysperl" or something like that, with a different name, and alteredso it can't be affected by changes to the regular perl package (changinglibrary search paths and stuff), and make all said scripts run with that.Yeah, it's a horrible duplication of code, but it means your users canupgrade their perl seperately without breaking their OS..

It was a strange day in heaven... the world had ended a thousand yearsbefore, and peace and quiet had finally come to the cosmos. The gardenabove, with Yahweh, and the desert below, with Belial and his wanderingspirits. The soft light of heaven, and misty edges of the beings theresuddenly contrasted with 1, 8, and then dozens of bald men and women, in orangerobes, as solid as things ever were in reality. Sitting in the field,they waited, as the Angels nervously backed away, and began an anxiousdiscussion as to what they were, and how they were there... no materialbeings were supposed to be physically capable of entering the Garden,and they did not behave as Belial's compatriots.. In the desert below too,there was much worry, as similar entities appeared, the ever-flowing sandsseemed to stay clear of them, not inflicting on them the burn, the eternalmark of those who had fallen. And then, a fallen sat with one of the women,a smile, and a opaque bubble surrounded them. Similar events in the Garden,and occasionally, the bubbles opened, and only the monk remained. An angelattempted to strike one, and awoke minutes later on the other side of thegarden, having simply vanished from the spot. Some tried to pierce the bubble,and simply found it inpenetrable. Belial and Yahweh, as usual, were on one oftheir inner explorations, and could not be rearched, and so the souls ofthe garden and the desert slowly disappeared. The angels were understandablyuncomfortable, but eventually stopped bothering them, instead suggesting tothe souls that they steer clear of them, although with only limited success,hoping for the fast return of their deity. Yet the souls kept disappearing,and in time, there was only about a dozen left, the desert long empty.Some of the monks bowed to the rest, each moving their fingers to a small pieceof lint on their robes, tossing it off, and then disappearing, leaving onlya brief afterimage of a purple starry night from before the end of the world.The remaining monks stood, and began to walk around the garden, seeking outthe last souls in heaven. Four sets of eyes opened in unity, a shriek of ragein Sheol, a cry of anger in Eden. Heaven and Hell were empty, and a briefglance of the four angry eyes over the emptiness between found nothing leftin the world of matter, nowhere they could be. The garden reshaped itself,and before one of the remaining monks stood an old man, eyes holding theages of eternity in their pupils. The remaining monks bowed, a tunelesshum escaping their lips, and the angels unraveled, like the golem neverproperly alive. A final bow, and there were but two monks, one lookingat Yahweh alone in the Garden, the other sitting calmly at Belial inSheol. "You were once one of us, remember", a phrase spoken by two sets oflips, seperated by a vast spiritual distance. An angry response,"I AM ALL THAT IS GOOD", "I AM ALL THAT IS LIFE". "You don't know who youare. Remember. You are only half of what you were". "HOW DID YOU REMOVE MYSOULS?" "We held back until we could fulfill our vow, and passed them onto the other side". "THIS IS THE OTHER SIDE". "No." Two heads bowed, foursets of hands raised, and sand began to flow into the garden, mist beganto flow into Sheol. Belial faced Yahweh for the first time in thousands ofyears, and the male monk bowed to the female, pulling a speck of lint fromits robe, fading to purple spark. "I am here for you, you who are not whatyou are". A brief, bitter glance, and both tried to reshape their realms,to seperate again. "There is no return, there is only the future. Youmust accept who you are. Those souls were never what you made them out tobe, your sheol and garden were never the final destination". Rage, anger,feelings of righteousness, a figure that could not be moved by divinemight. Three figures sat down on the moist, grassless earth, or was ittwo? The duty of the last Bodhisattva, to enlighten the Divided Being..

Disclaimer: The theology in this story is not necessarily an accuratedepiction of Buddhism or of any of the Mosaic religions, and certainlyisn't a statement of what I believe. I'm sure you can handle that :)