10/29/2003

10-30-03 - 2

10-30-03

I'd like to make an electronica album where every song sounds smooth either as a loop, or going into the next song. What that requires basically is that the boundary of every song is basically the same, some simple beat. the goal would be to do this without it feeling repetetive or forced. Then, you could put the album on shuffle and just listen to it forever and it would always sound totally smooth and be a different experience each time. Of course even better would be to have the album sort of generated and mixed and beat-matched on the fly on your PC.

10-30-03 - 1

10-30-03

Here's a new internet project - The Political Connection Machine, kind of like GNOD or something. Have a bot that scans the net and all kinds of public records and look for things like - people owning lots of stock in companies, meetings with CEO's, people who worked closely together in the past, companies who donated to various campaigns or lobbying groups, etc. then draw the connections and graph the beautiful spider web that comes out. The purpose is not for information, it's for art. The web of lines of different thicknesses would be beautiful.

10/27/2003

10-28-03 - 1

10-28-03

I was away for the weekend and made a beautiful connection with my family; it's helped me enormously to have had that experience, and if any of you are visiting my page, I thank you. It's wonderful to be around people who love you and you can really talk to about important things, not just everyday tedium. It's kind of hard to be back to work, but also exciting to come back to my home as a different person.

10/23/2003

10-23-03 - 2

10-23-03

I despise the Yankees. They just buy anyone they want; the team is full of veterans with the best post-season stats of anyone in sports; they have no character, no pluck, no team spirit, they don't play *fun*. Compare them to the Angels last year, or the Athletics, or the Twins or the Marlins - little teams on tiny budgets that bring up talent, play team ball, and find ways to win. Hurray for the underdog! ; addendum - Marlins win! Hurrah!

10-23-03 - 1

10-23-03

Most of us live our lives like a greedy search - that is, we make improvements every day when we can, but we try to only move towards short-term better lives. This is all well and good, but "life quality" is not a linear function, so there are severe local maxima where you get stuck; that is, you get to a spot in your life where it's pretty good, but not great, but then you can't make any changes, because any change would make your life worse; you don't want to give up a lot in order to make a big improvement. This happens in everything (jobs, friends, lovers, houses) - you get something pretty good, and you don't want to give it up because to be without for a while as you search for something better is just too unbearable. If you want to reach real maxima, you have to do the same things you do in computer science to improve the greedy search - 1) Simulated Annealing type searches - basically this means randomly trying some completely different things from time to time; as you try them, you pick the one that looks most promising; over time, you reduce the randomness; so, initially you're trying things that are just totally different, then over time your search should converge and you try things that are pretty close to the maximum you've found. 2) Genetic algorithms - you can treat all the other people in the world as other genotypes that are exploring this search space; then, the driver algorithm can examine the people with the highest quality of life; you then try to "cross" some of their properties and try again; often that cross has also already been tried for you, so you don't have to try them all yourself; basically this turns into following the example of people you think have succeeded in searching the space, and perhaps combining a few.

10/19/2003

10-19-03 - 3

10-19-03

The invasion of Iraq was completely ridiculous and unjustifiable. I've written about this a lot, so if you want more details, see below. This all feels a lot like the Kafka book, "The Trial". People all around me are debating whether the sky is purple or yellow. What!? How can you even debate such a thing!? It's absurd! Of course we weren't intervening for humanitarian reasons - we did nothing when Saddam was actually killing his people, we're doing nothing in Africa as Mugabe and others continue to kill. Of course we're not trying to stop terrorism - if we were we'd make a serious effort to make peace in Palestine (instead of quite intentionally dis-engaging the peace process). Of course Saddam was not a threat - we had no evidence that he even had weapons, much less that he was plotting to use them against America (and had a chance of doing so). It's just propesterous that the Bush administration is even taken seriously, they're such insulting lies, they treat the American public like the easily manipulated morons that they are. Of course, the Bush administration does this on countless issues; they're "helping the environment" by crippling the EPA, etc.. I imagine it almost like a dare; Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Card, etc. get together and have a laugh and say "what ridiculous farce are we going to pass off as incontrovertable fact this week?".

10-19-03 - 2

10-19-03

Politicians who do economic analysis are such dumb shits. They say Indian Casinos are good for an area, because those Casinos spend millions on roads, hire local workers, buy local services, etc. Hmm.. if a Casino spends $1 million locally, it probably took in $10 million in profit. That money is coming almost entirely from lower/middle class people who live locally. What if the casino wasn't there? The people would spend their money locally. So, with no Casino, you get $10 million of local spending. So, essentially by having a Casino, you're losing $9 million. Where's that money going? To the executives of the management company running the casino, to the bankers and investors that bank-roled it, etc.

Money should be looked at like a fluid. It flows, it doesn't come out of no where, and it doesn't just disappear. It comes from people and goes to people. What you want is money to flow from outside systems to local systems. Just generating a lot of activity and exchange of money is not inherently good. If I go to my neighbor and we trade money over and over, we're not improving the economy or anyone's lives at all. When you do something like bring a Casino to town, all you're doing is creating a spigot, an outlet for the money fluid to flow to these mega-rich who operate the Casino. It's important to note here that I'm talking about Indian Casinos which draw primarily from local people, not Resort Casinos like Las Vegas which are tourist attractions and cause money to flow into the state.

Money flow and systems acts as a sort of "screw your neighbor". When you open an Indian Casino, you do create a little local flow from the neighboring community into the immediate area around the Casino. If you look at the system within a 100 mile radius, there's a net loss, as I detailed above, but the small area around the Casino gets a net bonus. Because much of politics is very selfish and small-time, we get these "net loss / local win" propositions all the time.

10-19-03 - 1

10-19-03

I've got a new LCD monitor for home; it's a Planar PX191. I've got two 22" CRT's at work, and the result is that I'm pissed off at both monitors. After looking at an LCD, the CRT's look incredibly blurry, so much so that my eyes feel strange when I look at them (CRT's are the reason I have to wear glasses). On the other hand, the LCD refresh rate is annoying (40 fps) after being used to CRTs, especially with scrolling text (like just doing "dir" in a big directory). LCDs are worthless for games. I was told that CRT's still have better brightness and contrast, but the LCD seems to have *way* more of both than any CRT I've ever had. The damn thing is sharp and bright. mush.

I'm running my LCD vertical now, rotated 90 degrees, at 1024x1280. It's quite excellent; it's wide enough to fit any reasonable line of text, and it gives me a lot more lines on the page. I'm using it for coding, and it's perfect, I get to see lots of lines, it's plenty wide, all good. I'm surprised I've never seen it before, and it makes me realize how silly the 4:3 aspect ratio is. We've just stuck to it for no particular reason all these years. I'd love to have two vertical LCD's side by side. That would be the bomb.

One funny thing about LCD's is how it brings out all the quirks in Windows and the GUI. Any drawing that's not anti-aliased stands out like a sore thumb. Any refresh that's not double-buffered flashes like mad. There's also tons of funny stipple in windows, lots of shading that's alternative on/off pixels. On a CRT, that just looks like half-toning, but on an LCD, it has texture, you actually see the on/off pixels.

10/17/2003

10-17-03 - 1

10-17-03

This is some of the best beer in the world - Affligem

10/16/2003

10-16-03 - 3

10-16-03

It's crazy to me how far ahead the Amiga was back in the day. I long for its sweet fast GUI - instant full-window drags, never a slow refresh, on a 7 MHz CPU for gods sakes! On my 3 GHZ CPU in a damn win-tel box I can see my screen flicker and my icons refresh one by one and windows struggles to draw them. Apps started up blazing fast on my poor Amy, which had 512K of RAM, and a CPU almost 1000 times slower!! The Amy's GUI (BOOPSI) architecture was sweet and fast and extensible; the task-swapping and multi-threading was awesome, unmatched in any OS; the task-swap was literally like 10 clocks, totally pre-emptive. Well written apps would never ever have a GUI stall. The extensive device layer was just awesome; you could map virtual named drives to any location or function, such as COM: , LPT:, HTTP: , XPK: (a compressor), RAM: (a ram disk), etc. Funny people even made SCREEN: devices so you could copy files to the screen, etc. The Amy Screen system was rocking; it let you run multiple apps *in different video modes* simultaneously - and let you instantly switch between them, and even see multiple of them at much!! This was faccilitated by the Copper GPU which was able to switch video modes during a horizontal sync, so you could have totally separate screens across horizontal break lines. I miss programming for the sweet little Amy; I knew her elegant OS and loved it; I wanted to memorize the RKRM (ROM Kernel Reference Manual) and be a master of the many co-pro's. It's too bad I was so young then, I would have loved to work on games on the Amy, it would have been a fun time of simplicity, low-to-the-bone, groovy goodness.

Which reminds me of a huge software engineering rant - for fucks sake, all you bad bad programmers : your GUI should be on a thread, and it should be very high priority; it should just process clicks and run the basic GUI functions; your GUI should *always* be blazing fast and responsive, even if you're doing some major computation or IO or whatever in the background.

10-16-03 - 2

10-16-03

I think my kitties have poision oak on their fur, I'm scared to pet them. They're going crazy cuz they want love so bad, but I don't want to touch them. I need to bathe them, but man is that a tough ordeal. Bathing cats is something you need a partner to do, and it thoroughly tests your rapore with each other - you must be in sync, work well as a team, give & take orders, be strong, sacrifice yourself for the good of the two, etc.

10-16-03 - 1

10-16-03

My letter to the NYT from a few weeks ago:

The October 4 editorial "Sound-Biting the Deficit" suggests that Tom DeLay and the Republican Congress are engaging in disingenuous politicking by simultaneously pushing for tax cuts and a balanced budget amendment. The reality may be far more sinister : if a balanced budget amendment were passed and the Bush tax cuts were made permanent (as the president is advocating), Congress would be constitutionally required to severely cut government programs. This would provide the excuse to dismantle Welfare, Medicare, and Social Security which "starve the beast" Republicans dream of. Unfortunately, "balanced budget" and "low taxes" are both phrases which the average American voter seems unable to resist.

10/05/2003

10-5-03 - 1

10-5-03

In order to be a famous sports player, you can't be too workman-like. If you just dominate and give your team big leads and win games, you will be celebrated, but you won't be a thing of legend. The real legends are inconsistent, emotional, fickle, they don't put in their best effort until the last minute and then they save the day. These guys lead their teams to great comebacks, and that's what people remember. Nobody tells stories of the game when you were in the lead the whole time - they want stories of amazing last-minute comebacks. They way you do that is by first screwing up. This is why John Elway and Brett Favre are celebrated quarterbacks - they both kind of suck, they throw lots of picks early in the game and usually start badly, but they have a well of reserves of great play that they can turn on at the last minute and run the "two minute drill" beautifully.

The same is true of employees. If you just go to work every day and do a good job, management doesn't notice you. If, on the other hand, you thoroughly screw things up and then put in an amazing effort to save things, you're a big hero. This isn't so much a fault of management as it is the fact that people who do unusual things get noticed more than poor shlubs who just do their best and don't stand out.

10/02/2003

10-2-03 - 1

10-2-03

Parenting is tricky. Not all the silly logistic crap that comedians talk about, but the way you are psychologically sculpting another human being. So many of your little actions can have profound affects on your child's whole life. You come home from work, you're tired, you just want some peace, your daughter tries to show you a drawing she made, and you yell at her and tell her to get out of the room. Uh oh, she's shy and insecure for life.

One tough issue is what to do with kids who don't want to do anything. Most kids are too "cool" for lots of activities. The question then is whether to let them do nothing or to force them to go to soccer practice, piano lessons, whatever. Often if you force them it will make them hate that activity just because they were being made to do it.

Another tough issue is how to react to your child's success. Obviously you want to encourage success, applaud them when they get good grades, etc. but it's very easy for this to be interpretted by the child as "you're only loved when you do well". This leads to obsessive perfectionism. Much of parenting seems like a tricky tight-rope walk : make your child feel like they're the center of the world - but not too much!! Of course, it's not that hard if you just truly love and respect your child and treat them as another human being, and if you treat all people well, but such parents do not exist.

People who molest children or look at child pornography, I just can't understand at all. They must have some missing circuit that disconnects how their actions affect others. I mean, think of how they're fucking up that child - how could they do that to another human being? I suppose the same is true for rapists - there's just some depraved indifference to how your actions are ruining someone else, or perhaps even an intentional desire to fuck up someone else's life. The scary thing is that if you add up the child molestors and child pornographers and rapists (including "date rape"), you have *at least* 10% of the male population. This is not some crazy fringe, they're your neighbors and coworkers.

old rants