8/30/2004

8-30-04 - 1

8-30-04

Ok, I confess, I don't like Wilco. I know I'm supposed to like them, but their music is so incoherent, their albums have no flow, it's very lurching and random. I also hate all music that musicians love. They love intricate technical well-crafted arcane crap. Give me amateur, simple, unsophisticated, technically poor music, if it's creative and has feeling and reality. The Decemberists have some really great tunes, but the lead singer has that funny Brittish "W" accent, where everything is a "W", the funniest is when he says "willows" and it sounds like "wiwows". It's just really hard to listen to them and take it all seriously when the guy is saying "when-ewer I wondaw whehw youw ahw". Other good stuff - Elefant, The Kills. Mediocre stuff - Songs:Ohia, Fridge, more.

Is it just a coincidence that Kyoto and Tokyo are anagrams?

So, I got this parking ticket a little while ago. It's like the most ridonculous parking ticket in history. The ticket is for crossing lane markers. Now, I could see if I was the jackass in his Boxster who intentionally parked in the middle of two spots to avoid dings, or the jackass in his giant ass Ford F150 who parked in a compact space and wound up taking like five spots. Neither of those happened - rather, I was slightly offset in the space so that my car was just crossing into an adjacent space. Making it even more ridonculous - I parked there after the neighboring cars had already parked and were shifted over. Making it yet more ridonculous - this was all at one end of a row of parking spaces, where people routinely park shifted over to give everyone more space. So, anyhoo, I submitted a protest of the ticket, where I described these conditions. I just recently got the reply, which was - "citation upheld; if cars have previously parked out of their spaces, you must find a different parking spot" - which just adds yet another piece of ridonculosity to the whole thing. So, of course I'm not going to pay this damn ticket, so now I have to go to court. I'm trying my best to get prepared so that I don't show up in court going "fuck the fucking ridiculous fucking screw you all fucking hell".

I've discovered that barbecued trout is fantastic (purists would point out that it's actually "grilled" trout). Very simple - just stuff it with rosemary everywhere you can fit it, and of course coat in salt, pepper and olive oil (that almost goes without saying, everything I do is with SPOO (Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil), I bathe and moisturize with Salt Pepper and Olive Oil).

I did Old Creek again yesterday. I had to stop again, but just once, briefly. I was standing almost the whole way, I hit the whole thing very fast, just one hour round trip. Next time no stopping.

8/28/2004

8-28-04 - 1

8-28-04

There's been much talk about the USA Olympic basketball team here, how they're not the best NBA players, how they're not used to playing the zone, etc. Something that hasn't been mentioned much is this - the NBA style of play is sloppy, undisciplined, boring, ugly basketball. The Olympic style of play (as demonstrated by other countries), is crisp, with lots of good passing, team work, hard defense, active coaches, interesting, competetive.

How much is a year of your life worth? If someone came to you and said that you had to be locked in a little box for 60 hours a week during the best years of your life, how much money would you demand in exchange? A million dollars? Ten million? Most of us take that deal for $50k or less. You never get that year of your life back.

8/23/2004

8-23-04 - 4

8-23-04

I rode Old Creek road on Sunday. It's about 3000 feet of climbing, mostly around 6%, with a small part at 10% (very hard, a good link is here ). It's the hardest ride I've done in my life; I did have to stop briefly a few times, I considered turning back, I didn't think I would make it, but in the end it wasn't that hard. I think if I did it again I could do it without stopping, knowing the top was near. The scenery is beautiful, fields and groves and trees, bee keeper's hives and tumbledown red barns. I love that hard push on the road - just you and the bike, you can beat your personal best, no one else can fuck that up, it's beautiful pure hard work.

My freaking CD's are better sorted than my MP3's. That's so fucking stupid it hurts me. My MP3's should be indexed by my quality rating, my mood classification, by genre, by similarity and relation to other artists, etc. I should browse my MP3's with something like GNOD , but better cuz it would have all this other metadata.

I want to watch the olympics, I really do - NBC , I want to watch your advertising! but the presentation is just so horrible I can't stand to watch it. For one thing, it's never on when I flip to it - it should be on CNBC like 24 hours a day - what do you have that's better? John McEnroe stumbling over topics he knows nothing about? For another, you only show me the damn Americans, who often suck. Show me the best damn athletes! I want to see beautiful human achievement, not some stupid Americans. For another, give me announcers who have charisma AND know something about their sport, not this horrible mix of two guys - one who knows nothing and and ex-athlete who is a terrible speaker.

The best sites for music on the net - matador , insound , epitonic , kexp , other?

I'm extremely attracted to mothers and pregnant women.

Poor Stephen Malkmus. His life has no further purpose. He should just retire and wait for 20 years from now when he can get together with his old, fat, washed up mates and do a sad Pavement reunion tour for all the aged hipsters-cum-yuppies.

Distributing a free promo MP3 and not filling out the artist/title metadata is just about the stupidest thing you could ever do. Nice one. I hate songs that do a big switch between hard and mellow. Pick a fucking mood and stick to it. I'm listening to your music in the background and I want it to fit a certain mood, so when you try to do some artsy-fartsy shit and mix in a big rock break-out in the middle of your ballad it just doesn't work.

Yo La Tengo is touring for John Kerry . How in the world could you possible vote against Yo La Tengo? Oh yeah, I forgot, you're a total moron, you like Lincoln Park ("Linkin Park"), and professional wrestling, and such. God help us.

8-23-04 - 3

8-23-04

Is there a single major corporation that isn't severely corrupt, dishonest, disingenuous, almost-illegal, cheating, manipulative, etc. ? I challenge you to name a single one - send me one, and I shall point out their evil.

Movie review - "The Fog of War". First of all, it's very interesting, everyone should watch it. It's an interview with Robert McNamara. He's a very interesting sort of mildly pathological personality; he's an excellent case study of someone who's basically reasonable, very analytical, tries to be rational, and winds up doing horrible things. As a movie, it's only mediocre; it doesn't put in context the reality of what McNamara did or the views of him by others, it also has this sort of pretentious method of conveying import with long musical interludes. Yes, I get it, that was very heavy, move on already. Directed by Erol Morris - a very over-rated documentary director.

Movie review - "American Splendor". Crap, so disappointing, could have been so good. Tries to be creative by mixing the real people and the actors, but it doesn't work and just goes nowhere. The basic material is very interesting, the characters are fascinating, the acting is good, it should have been a good movie, but it is just too concerned with form and should have just been a more traditional narrative movie. The directors seem like newbies, hopefully they'll get better.

My favorite directors are getting ruined by hollywood, as so often happens - Caro & Jeunet - down the tubes - Guillermo del Toro (not to be confused with Benicio, the poof).

8-23-04 - 2

8-23-04

It's unbelievable to listen to hunters talk. There are all these hunting shows on OLN and the guys talk along; when they see a nice dear - "Wow, look at that buck ... three ... four ... six points, wow, he's beautiful" [bang] "Nice shot, he's down". So strange to love a beautiful animal and kill it.

Why does Rose McGowan have blonde hair now? What the hell is wrong with the world? Who allowed this to happen?

I need my Network of Trust. I know there are good DJ's out there making great song selections - why can't my mp3 player tap into their mixes? I know there are people with good taste in movies making movie lists - why can't I get that? The whole idea of "critics" is obsolete. What we have instead of networks and taste-clusters. People with similar opinions on topics are grouped and share information.

8-23-04 - 1

8-23-04

I think it's interesting that I could write any kind of crazy crap in a novel, but if I write something here, it would shock and disturb people. There's a way that a blog is treated as more personal than a novel. Lots of writers write totally psychopathic things, like Clive Barker, Irvine Welsh, Chuck Palahniuk, etc. but they are not accused of being psychopaths themselves - well, of course, they are - they're having those thoughts in their head in order to write them. The fact that they don't act on those things just means they're in control of their insanity. Common society has this foolish taboo against ever admitting you have thoughts like that. Of course I have thoughts like that - I just don't act on them.


8-21-04

The fact that I have to wire my electronics together is ridiculous. It should all be WiFi and just work. When I buy a new DVD player, I should be able just plug it in to power (though Tesla would say the power should be wireless too), put in my DVD, and wham - it plays on my TV. That would be *easy*.

I can't stand the noise of TV's ; I need a web site that has decibel readings for the ambient noise of TV's so I can buy the one that's the quietest.

Our office Republican (Drew) used to appeal to me about the Bush administration - "these people are not evil, they love America and they're doing what they think is right for the country". Well, first of all, I don't believe that one bit, I think there are quite a few people in the administration who are really just evil (evil = selfish, egomaniacal, dangerous, destructive, greedy, corrupt, etc.). On the other hand, I do believe there probably are a lot of people in the administration who actually believe they are doing what's best for the country (G.W. may be one of these, in a sort of naive manipulated sort of way). The problem with this is that there's a sort of diabolical narrowness of vision that comes into play. When you believe that America is really great, and whatever America wants for the world is what's best for the world, and you administration is great, and having your administration in power is what's best for America - now you are a truly dangerous man. I believe that much of our administration is in this camp; it's sort of a righteous narrowness of vision, very similar to a religious jihad martyr - you believe your cause is so right, that any sort of immoral act you may do to advance your cause is justified - breaking the law, lying, bribing, manipulating, war, imprisonment, torture, murder, etc. I suspect people like Hitler and Stalin really did believe they were doing what was best. I think the clear conclusion is that "good intentions" is not a valid defense for anything, and patriotism is a very questionable attribute.


8-20-04

Here's your fun physics-based gameplay for you : The Evil Genius Game. You're an evil genius, and you're trying to destroy the world, by doing all the crazy crap that all us evil geniuses dream up. It's played out in a big physical simulation of the earth, with a solar system and gravity and fluid dynamics for the oceans, etc. You can set off a nuke in a volcano and try to black out the sky and kill off plants, you can try to melt the polar caps, you can drop a giant mass in the ocean to try to make tsunamis, you can put thrusters on the moon try to push into the earth, you can freeze the earth's core to ruin the magnetic fields and kill us all with cosmic rays, etc. etc.


8-20-04

The Google banner images are pissing me off. They are not cute or clever, they cheapen us all. They're sort of like hallmark teddy bears. They scream out for you to say "oh, how cute", and by doing so they make reasonable men sick.

NetFlix is okay, but the selection is rather poor, very mainstream. That may just be because a lot of things don't exist on DVD, dunno. The great thing about NetFlix is that you can select your movies at any time. In general, removal of temporal constraints is a great thing. If I have to do A some time this week, ok, that's cool. If I have to do A at exactly 5:00 PM on Tuesday, that's much much harder, not just because I have to remember to do it, but I have to make sure that leading up to that moment I'm in good condition to do A, whatever it is. If an artist could never paint when they wanted to, and was only allowed to paint when you told them "go", their work would be shit. You need to be able to do a task when your mind/body/life are in the right state to do that thing. In general the modern work-place goes totally against this principle, which crushes the productivity of creative/compulsive/inspired performers.

8/18/2004

8-18-04 - 1

8-18-04

I despise fucking DVD's. For one thing, the video quality is shite. MPEG2 my ass. For another, the damn menus are just so rotten. For another, there's no on-the-hardware memory of where I stopped watching, so if I pop it out and then put it back in, I lose my place. Finally, and worst of all, it's a rotten ass digitial medium, which is inherently crappy. If you have a bad scratch on your VHS tape, it just screws up the picture - the loss is analog and doesn't fundamentally ruin playback. On a DVD, a bad scratch makes it crap out and skip or stop playing altogether (just like a CD does). Digital blows, analog rules. Analog is like a smooth lossy encoding system, damage just degrades the signal proportionally to the amount of damage. (note that clever digital encoding can actually work this way too, but no one has ever put that into actual use. There are variants of JPEG2000 that downgrade smoothly with the amount of damage done to the bits. This is in contrast to error-correcting codes which have a certain tolerance for error, and once that tolerance is exceeded, they fail completely).

I cashed out of Party Poker. I think I'm done with it. I make good money there, but it's just not fun. Well, okay, some times it's fun, when you're winning big, but these days the losses hurt so much more than the wins. Furthermore, I can't really enjoy the big wins either. When I hit a draw on a guy and make a big pot, I just feel guilty, not delighted like I once did.

My job had turned me off of everything I once loved - games, programming, computers - I can hardly stand them any more. I want nothing to do with them in my free time. Perhaps I should do the thing I hate most for a living, since I'm going to hate my job anyway, at least that way I won't ruin something I love. I've always believed that good programming is an art form - it's a craft, artisan, maestria. It's creative, it's not left-brain.

8/10/2004

8-10-04 - 1

8-10-04

Realism is killing video games. The constraint of realism makes games very difficult to make, it makes the simplest things take weeks and weeks to do, which stifles creativity and the organic creation process. It also forbids you from using gameplay elements that make the game better if they can't be explained in the real world. Sure, realism is nice and immersive, but it's a horrible thing for game development, and overall it makes the play much worse. The crux of gameplay is in abstract forms, where you are free to use the systems that are most amenable to the play, not the simulation world.


7-24-04

It's interesting to me how the human mind thinks about things differently than computers. If you look at how a compute plays Chess or Poker, and then compare that to how a human compares Chess or Poker, it's very interesting. In both games, humans and computers are pretty close to even at the moment, though with a little more work and time to program, computers will dominate both games. In both cases, computers work by running massive simulations of all possible future moves, with various clever things to make the evaluation more efficient. The interesting thing is that humans don't do that at all when they play.

The human mind, as a computing device, is very good at a particular form of problem solution, which is sort of fuzzy matching and interpolation/extrapolation. Humans can look at a Chess board layout, and recognize that it is "tactically similar" to something they've seen before, even though the details may be totally different. Computers are very bad at making this sort of reasonable judgment of similarity. Humans can also recall the right move in a similar situation and extrapolate that to make a very good guess at the right move in a new situation. This kind of thinking seems to be something we're extremely good at - when we see a new situation, we can recall other situations that are similar in key ways, and we can interpolate/extrapolate to make good decisions.


7-15-04

I cannot stand fucking DVD's. I put the disc in, now play the fucking thing immediately, don't show me any damn intro screens or fancy graphics or fucking menus. This is a general problem with bad product design, primarily in America. A product has a primary function, it should do that and do it well, it should not do a lot of other shite that doesn't enhance the primary function. If I wanted all the fun of browsing annoying menus, I'll go browse my damn Tivo or something.


7-14-04

I just saw a fruity stat in the NYT. Americans believe roughly 25% of the news they read in major newspapers. That's totally fruity. Do they really believe 75% of it are lies or wrong? Republicans are around 20%, Dems around 30% , so the Reps are more black-helicopter, generally not believing anything they disagree with.


7-14-04

I am not anti-free-market. I believe that markets are basically *useful* things, they encourage innovation and development, but markets are not inherently *good*. Markets are inherently competetive and greedy things; each entity looks out only for its own best interests. In a pure free market capitalist society, the very rich would be in control and would have the majority of the power and wealth. The only thing preventing that is the organization and mass movement of the people that the rich try to control. In order to prevent this, the people form a government. The purpose of the government is to protect the interests of every man as well as possible - not just the majority, and not just the rich or powerful, but every man. Government should moderate the greed of the markets, and also help and provide for every man. To be clear, government should help and encourage businesses in as much as they help the people by providing structures for work; business is not inherently good, and should never ever be favored over the interests of people - government is for people, not for money or other artificial power organizations. This is the contract and promise government makes to the people who agree to be a part of it. A government should not be a power structure that controls the people; it is a collective agreement by the people to abide by certain rules which they believe are for the benefit of them all.

The government is in breach of its contract when -

it takes public land and allows businesses to permanently devastate that land for the profit of the few, such as with strip-mining or mountain-top removal, or cutting old growth forests.

it allows businesses to pollute, especially with pollution that is impossible to clean up, such as nuclear waste or large oil spills, or the many poisons released into the environment. This permanently damages our earth which we all share, which is the property of all people.

it takes money from all the people in taxes and gives it to the few in the form of subsidies and protections and tarriffs that raise the price of goods the people need.

it wages unnecessary wars that put our peoples' lives at risk and creates hate for us around the world.

it taxes the poor excessively, beyond their means of what they can be expected to pay, making it impossible for them to rise from poverty. These taxes can be in many insiduous forms - local taxes, sales tax, lotteries, credit scams, unnecessary loans, etc.

businesses are allowed to lie or manipulate markets for the profit of the few. The markets must be open, accurate, provide full disclosure to all.

it does not allow reasonable immigration and travel.

it spreads lies and half-truths to manipulate the will of the people.

etc..

old rants