Foldplay: fun for your photos
New Housing Possibilities!
The Inflatable Space Commune Orbiting Mars in 2027
. . .
My blog has been much neglected over the past month, but I've just put up two new entries:
read my blog!
and some pictures of the swamps in Louisiana:
barataria preserve of jean lafitte national historical park
anybody but bush in 2004
say it with me...
ah-nee-bah-dee but bush
collecting pledges of time to counteract bush's enormous war chest
of cash. 6407940 hours have been pledged so far, 36 by me (I
pledged one hour
a week until the election).
Take Back the White House!
President Bush has already raised hundreds of millions for his bid.
Our great hope is in our collective power to get out the
work via the Internet, the telephone, and face-to-face conversations
with voters. And we'll take back our democracy, city by city, block
by block, and voter by voter. Are you in? Sign the
short on time? how about donating some money?
john kerry for president
moveon's political action committee
geov parrish at working for
change lays it out so clearly that I've excerpted most of his
column here. bush & co. used a relentless campaign of innuendo,
slander, deception, and outright lies to fabricate support for their
invasion of iraq, we would be foolish to expect different from them
in the battle for the presidency: we're in for a long ugly fight.
This year's presidential race is going to be the most important the
United States, and the world, has seen in decades. At least. And it
is going to be very, very nasty. Liberals had better stop being
nice, stop being complacent or cynical or despairing or disengaged,
and take your gloves off. Now.
Like it or not, the president who came in promising to unite us has
created, in only three short years, the most polarized and the most
bitterly politically divided country since Reconstruction. His team
has created more anti-American hatred around the globe than has ever
previously existed in history. Those same political strategists have
shown that they will stop at virtually nothing to gain and exercise
power, and will do so almost exclusively to enrich their
hyperwealthy friends and feed their warped ideological crusades --
crusades that, if presented honestly, would be rejected by the vast
majority of their countrypersons and the rest of the world.
This is a war. It's being fought like one, whether or not we
participate, and we are all targets. We'd better start acting like
our asses are on the firing line. They are.
I don't hate George W. Bush; I do hate what he has done and is still
doing to our country and to my planet, and I do intend to do
everything in my power to ensure he and his cabal don't have another
four years to abuse their public trust. But now comes the hard part.
The excitement and headlines of the Democratic primaries are over.
It will be a long, hard slog to November, interrupted only by two
party conventions/infomercials and the power of the White House to
control the headlines of a news media whose critical thinking
muscles are atrophied beyond recognition.
We can already see how this will go. If you have any doubt how the
White House will attack John Kerry, look at its last great sales
job: the invasion of Iraq. For months, we were besieged with
exaggerations, accusations, planted stories, and outright lies. No
fib or rationalization was too ridiculous; as soon as one was
disproven or shot down, three more were trotted out. Eventually,
some stuck, for a while. But more to the point, the White House wore
down public skepticism just enough, and just long enough, that their
raw power could do the rest. If it all turned out to be a fraud, who
cares? This is what ruthlessness looks like.
John Kerry has decades' worth of votes and public statements from
which this sort of malicious playbook can be stocked, and the
attacks have already begun. The question is one of perspective: by
virtue of sheer scale and audacity, George Bush's crimes against the
public trust dwarf any policy reversal John Kerry, or most any other
politician, has ever contemplated. But if Kerry and his supporters
wring their hands and spend the next eight months answering every
charge and talking nobly of future public policy, they'll deserve to
lose. The issue this year is nothing other than George Bush's attack
on 300 million of us, his betrayal of what is best in and about
America: front, back, and center.
Defense doesn't win wars. And that's what this is: war, one we
didn't start, for nothing less than the future of the country, the
world, even. The six billion of us without any trust funds to
finance our tickets to Mars are pretty well stuck with this one
planet. We'd better start acting, all of us, like no one government,
let alone one politician who says he talks regularly with God, has
the right to recklessly endanger it and the lives of so many of the
people on it. Get angry about it. You should be.
I've been working on a project (nicknamed "beat geek" in my head) that uses the digital equivalents of dada/beat cut-up techniques and other forms of randomness in or artificial generation of language.
For example, I have a program called autopoem (written by Bill Sethares) loosely based on an idea from Shannon's original paper on information theory.
Suppose you took all the words in the English language and calculated how often the character "s" is followed by the character "t", the character "e", and so on. You'd end with a table of transition probabilities that showed how often each letter is followed by any other letter (or punctuation mark or space) and starting with a single seed letter you could generate "english-like" words randomly. The output using the probability that a single letter is followed by another letter doesn't actually resemble English much, nor does the output using probabilities based on two letter combinations (how often is "th" followed by "e", by "a", and so on) but by the time you get to 3 letter combinations, (how often is "the" followed by "a" or by "s") the output starts to look a lot like "twas brillig and the slithy toves", like ye olde englishe with very creative spelling.
The scheme I described above is difficult to implement in practice, because the table of probabilities gets big fast as the number of letters used to determine the next letter gets longer. Autopoem uses a particular text as a source and instead of generating a table of probabilities it scans the text looking for the next of the letter sequence, say "the", and then selects whatever letter or punctuation mark comes next, say "a", then it continues scanning until it finds the next occurrence of "hea", and selects the following letter, and so on. the longer the sequence of letters, the more likely it is that whole words or phrases from the original text will appear in the output. An alternative version, requiring a reasonably long text, applies the same principle on the word level, how often is the word "red" followed by the word "hat" or "dog" or so on.
Here's some autopoem output:
Your strip of entirely
tired witches scarecrow me at night
That reached the next
He witches at and glow in a cruel head
Done behind the mark
Nothing but the Land of blue
And the green wizard answer with sharp teeth
(anyone care to guess the source text?)
Other ideas/algorithms/programs that fall into the same genre are dilbert's corporate values generator (now defunct?), eliza (especially when she interacts with zippy), madlibs (I don't know of a computer application), scott reynen's poetry and prose generators, rob malda's poetry generator (currently offline) & googlism.
Any suggestions or links to related ideas or programs would be greatly appreciated --- anything having to do with language generated digitally would be of interest.
Enter The Meatrix
Take the red pill and let Moopheus open your eyes to the reality of factory farming.
The main page of blog-O-rama is as always but I've added a b & w version
for people who don't think that purple-on-purple is the coolest color scheme ever.
Recent entries include:
the erector shrine
recounts my attempt to overcome childhood trauma by building my own space station. with photo-documentation.
marie osmond saves the day
describes how my blog entry went pfft! and how marie osmond got it back for me.
I had an actual weekend. really.
smart people are stupid
my comments on the 'preferred upgrade' poll I submitted to /.
From the archives:
what do ladybugs eat?
Thanks for checking it out.
20% more whuffie
20% better looking
20% larger hard drive
20% more karma
except that my version had the last option as:
20% more like CowboyNeal.
Looks like it's generated some good discussion already, no shortage of folks hanging out at slashdot on Friday night.
But for some reason, the poll was listed as "rejected" on my "submit stories" page. Oh well, next time I'll remember to slap a creative commons tag on my submissions.
Other new items over at blog-O-rama, descriptions and pictures of numerous hikes in the Santa Cruz area, news of the world, and some secret information about the French revealed.
So what's new?
telecommunication breakdown describes the text book that bill spent the last two summers working on, it should appear this fall.
a visit with my mother describes, um, a visit with my mother and includes links to some pictures of a steam train ride through a redwood forest.
normal blog entry is an accounting of one week of my life, coffeeshops and my laptop feature prominently.
margaret mead on iraq consists of political ranting, mainly other people's.
awesome describes my recent scuba diving adventure at point lobos.
all the blah-blah-blah that's fit for cyberprint!
the problem with travelling....
Not too much excitement over at my blog, but I've posted Part I of my comments on A Reader's Manifesto (link to essay version) at blog-O-rama.
They say that if you play a Windows Install CD backwards you hear satanic messages. That's nothing. Put it in forwards and it installs Windows.
My long neglected blog has finally been updated --- today's topics are "weight loss the slow boring way" and "Q-Turn," a game from Looney Labs.
Haven't had anything to contribute to /. discussions lately. I was suprised at the lack of responses to Dan Gillmore's book proposal yesterday, but seeing as I didn't have anything to add myself I can't fault really other people for their lack of insight. I think 43 comments is the least I've ever seen on a story on the front page (and a good proportion of those were off-topic abusive rants about the war).
plug & play broadband at my friend Liz's apartment in Bologna, Italy, and I guessed her smtp server on the first try. It's nice to kick back a bit after 4 days of hardcore tourism, plus a wedding, in Paris. I took the TGV from Paris -> Bologna, advanced technology compared to amtrak's old beasts of burden, but they still didn't have electrical outlest on the train. I read Mrs. Dalloway instead of spending quality time with my laptop, not a good exchange really. .
happy pi day
Today is Pi Day.
Find where your birthday, or any other sequence of
numbers, appears in the first 100 million
digits of Pi. Eat some pie and sing some really awful Pi day songs at
1;59 PM. Or make a Pi
It's also Albert Einstein's birthday. Between Einsein and Pi, March 14 has a lot of geek credibility already. Maybe we can have it declared "Geek's Day", I mean
"IT Personnel Appreciation Day." Instead of the flowers and candy that show up on Secretary's Day and
Day people could show their geek appreciation with boxes of chocolate covered donuts and cases of Mountain Dew.
resilience of life support systems
. . .
I love deadlines ---
I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
I'm working on a paper that uses a hybrid (discrete and continuous) model of a generic water revitalization system to develop and test new measures of system resilience to component level faults. One key idea is that resilience is a dynamic property of the system that cannot be understood in terms of the fault probalities or MTBF (mean time before failure) of individual system components. I've been working on these ideas on and off for a couple of years, starting with a small award from the Director's Discretionary Fund when I was working as a contractor at the NASA Ames Research Center.
One novel method of measuring resilience that we developed estimated the transition probabilities of a Markov chain on the two states "nominal -- demand for clean water met" and "performance failure -- demand for clean water not met" and used the ratio of those parameters as a measure of resilience. Paper available.
The current paper will take a broader view of competing ways to measuring resilience. It's titled: "Alternative Metrics for Evaluating the
Resilience of Advanced Life Support Systems"
Ann Maria Bell,
Orbital Sciences Corporation;
Research Institute for Advanced Computer Science;
Julie A. Levri,
NASA Ames Research Center. Abstract:
Ensuring the safety of the crew is a key performance requirement of a life support system. However, a number of conceptual and practical difficulties arise when devising metrics to concretely measure the ability of a life support system to maintain critical functions in the presence of anticipated and unanticipated faults. Resilience is a dynamic property of a life support system that depends on the complex interactions between faults, controls and system hardware. We review some of the approaches to understanding the robustness or resilience of complex systems being developed in diverse fields such as ecology, software engineering and cell biology and discuss their applicability to regenerative life support systems. We also consider how approaches to measuring resilience vary depending on system design choices such as the definition and choice of the nominal operating regime. Finally, we explore data collection and implementation issues such as the key differences between the instantaneous or conditional and average or overall measures of resilience. Extensive simulation of a hybrid computational model of a water revitalization subsystem (WRS) with probabilistic, component-level faults provides data about off-nominal behavior of the system. The data are used to consider alternative measures of resilience as predictors of the system?s ability to recover from component-level faults.
So far so good, now all I need is a paper to go with the abstract.
The deadline for submitting the first draft of the paper was March 7.
. . .
Today the Lysistrata Project is coordinating over 1000 readings of Aristophanes anti-war play Lysistrata in 59 countries. I'm planning on attending a reading here in Madison, WI.
Yesterday's blog-O-rama has an update on what's going on at Rivendell, the housing cooperative that I live in.
class action settlement deadline on monday
The deadline to file a claim online is Monday March 3, it doesn't take long but you have to provide your date of birth and the last four digits of your social security number. The website to file a claim is:
This appeared on slashdot back in January, but the discussion was pretty feeble.
"Depressing as it is to acknowledge, it now seems clear we are witnessing
the tantrum of a woefully untutored and inexperienced president whose
willfulness rises in direct proportion to his inability to comprehend a world
too complex for his grasp."
State of The Universe
Meanwhile ... the issue facing the United States, and indeed the world is, will George Bush give in to his Big Iraq Attack and order up a war? Latest reports say that a war to force a regime change in Iraq will cost $200 billion. It is puzzling to me why some of those fiscal fitness fanatics in the Republican Party haven't tried to find a cheaper way to do it. Maybe if they offered the Iraqis half -- $100 billion -- they could do it themselves.
Then we'd still have $100 billion left to spend on regime change in this country.
Because -- and I have to be blunt here -- the folks we have in charge are fossils fueled by fossil fuels. And in the reptilian brain, problems aren't solved, they're attacked.
read the full address, it's quite funny.