Wednesday, September 23, 2009

error; this thing is on?

tes ... testk....

testing, testing??...


To fulfill contractual obligations, I am here to inform you that this blog is back in business.

Electrons? Where this blog is headed we won't need electrons.

Actually, you'll be needing electrons. Don't worry.

Friday, January 05, 2007

I draw, therefore I MAPMap

My Christman present from ~K finally arrived this week, and I picked it up today! It was a large triangular tube. She got me a giant Toblerone! I've always wanted one the size of my arm. Thanks, ~K!
Actually, it's not heavy enough to be a toblerone. I thought: poster? of what? and then I read the side of the box. MAP. oh, well, a map of what? a map that would have 17 dollars of customs on it??? I further read: Springfield Cartographic. hmmm, well, I won't look them up, that would wreck all the fun I'm going to have trying to guess what it is.
I'm pretty sure it's not my ultimate map fantasy, as I'm not sure that it exists, and I believe that ~K doesn't know what one is and/or that I want one. It's a Dymaxion map (a Fuller projection), with all satellite photography. I suppose I could look it up to see if it does exist (it didn't when I last checked), but I have very little concentration/persistence today. I have several other map fantasies, but I'm also not going to let you know what they are. If ~K got any of those, I'd wig out, because it would be like magic! From out of my brain, straight onto the wall, an eidolon made flesh! But I don't think these things exist either, but for a wider variety of reasons.

So, it's not going to bother me if they aren't in there. After all, an existant map is far superior to an imaginary one. This leads, naturally, into the Ontological proof of the World, and it goes something like this. We can conceive of a map such that no greater map can be conceived. This map, call it the Magicalist of All Possible Maps (the MAPMap) is everything great about a map that we could possibly want. Were we to imagine a desirable feature that our MAPMap lacks, than the map comprised of all the features of MAPMap plus the new desirable one would become the new MAPMap.
Now, it is a trivial thing to realize that this map must exist, as an existant map is obviously better than a non-existant one*. Therefore the MAPMap must have the property of existance, and therefore it exists. But the MAPMap will have other features as well. One of these will be perfect accuracy in correspondence of detail. We could, were we to peer close enough at the MAPMap, see everything that actually exists on the ground. Another would be adaptability, the MAPMap would accurately reflect all changes in the real world, in real time. You can see where this is going: the MAPMap is indistinguishable from the real world. Now, since we know the MAPMap must exist, the World must exist! This follows even if the World is NOT the best of all possible worlds, something which philosophers have agonized over for centuries.

*There are a branch of philosophers who suppose that imaginary maps are the best, for they allow one to conceive of possiblities undreamt of by reality. They live in some freakish moonbat world where nothing is really known for certain, and everything swirls in a whirlwind of competing interpretive narratives. I mean, come on! how can these guys even know what they are saying? it makes no sense! of course there is a MAPMap! sweet MAPMap.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Some Snookery Goodness

The last two Mondays, the Doctor and I have been playing snooker. Neither of us have played in years, and there is one fact that overwhelms all others: the table is freakishly ginormous. At 6' x 12', it absolutely dwarfs the standard bar pool table (4' x 8'). Also, the balls are smaller, and the pockets far less forgiving. Anyone who has played pool is generally aware of these facts, as well as many who've only seen pool/snooker played. Expected awareness can't actually prepare for the experience, though. Needing to use a 10' long reach is quite humbling.
Did I mention that the table is fucking huge? I did? because, you know, it's huge.

Anyway, the point of this entry is to talk about the Rules*. There are tonnes of them. Here are the official rules, if you care to look. Most of them have to do with all the simple stuff, like table layout and taking turns and point values. These were things that the Dr and I knew. First a red, then a colour, then a red, etc, and repeat until your luck runs out. But there were lots of niggling situations we'd get into where we were unsure whether a foul had been committed, or what should happen next. Now I know, I think, and soon you will too.

1. Fouls are added to your opponents score. For some reason both the Dr and I were of the belief that foul points should be subtracted from the offenders total. Perhaps the rules used to be this way, but were recently changed? Maybe it's so that the scores are higher and make for slightly more interesting tv. Or maybe this is a local custom. Whichever way, this makes no difference as to who wins a game. However, it can be psychologically distressing to foul twice in a row and lose nearly a third of your points, the lowest foul being 4 pts.

2. There is no obligation to hit a rail or sink the object ball. There was only minor dispute over this, as I thought that at least two balls had to hit rails on the break, and that a failure to either sink a ball or hit a rail constituted a foul. We played, though, as though the opposite was the case, the Dr because he thought he was right, myself because I wasn't sure and didn't think I was good enough to always comply with those rules. I'm fairly sure I confused myself with my experience playing 9 ball.

3. Ball-in-hand is from the D. I have no idea why neither of us remembered this. Whenever the cue ball is pocketed, or flees the table, the opponent has bih. Our experience playing 8 and 9 ball left us believing that this ball can be placed anywhere. Both of us thought this was wrong, but couldn't remember what was correct. This led to some drastic penalties for the scratch: I would lose 4 for the foul, then the Dr would have a relatively easy time making an additional 8 on a red-black run. 12 pts is quite a bit when our games end at about 40vs30. Yeah, we still mostly suck. If you don't know what the D is, here's a picture of the table layout.

4. Spotting balls. After a coloured ball is either potted or launched from the table, it must be placed on its home spot (note that red balls thusly launched are not spotted). No spotted ball is to touch any of the other balls on the table (this is the part we didn't know). If this prevents a ball from being spotted on its home spot, then it gets spotted on the highest point spot available. If there are no available clear spots, then it is spotted as near to its home point as possible on a straight line from that point to the top of the table. In the case of pink or black, this may not be possible, in which case go the other way. Ancillary to this, the pink does not touch the reds at the beginning of the game. This is a rule that we continuously broke. I don't know if I ever knew it or not.

5. You may ask your opponent to shoot again if they foul! This gets an exclamation point, because I don't think I've ever seen it before. The impact is huge: if you hate the position you're in after your adversary fouls, you can dastardly make them shoot again. I wonder how often this will actually be used...

6. An intentional miss. This rule is a bit more complicated. If you think that your opponent made no clear attempt to try to hit an object ball, and they fouled, not only do you get to make them shoot again if you don't like the new position, but you can make them shoot from either the new spot or the old one. Devilish. This rule will never be used by either the Dr or I, as we both have the trying-to-hit meme far too entrenched. NB: this rules out all declared "safety" shots, the only instance where either of us would think of deliberately missing. Well, I think that this is true for the Dr, based on his actions; who knows what really goes on in that wooly head of his.

7. When snookered after a foul, you can nominate any ball to be the necessary object ball. Yet one more rule about bad positions after a foul. Let's say that after the Dr fouls, I find myself snookered behind a pink and a blue, and can't see any of the three reds left on the table. This seems particularly unfair, especially since jump shots constitute fouls. The remedy is that I can shoot at any ball I can see, whether it be one of the balls that snookers me or not, and declare it a "free ball". I then need to either hit it (or one of the red balls) in order to not scratch. If I sink it, it counts as 1 pt and is then spotted. I then can shoot a colour as per normal. If I was in the final stages of the game (when there are no reds on the table) and needed to hit the green but was unable to see it, then the free ball is a surrogate green, and if potted counts 3 pts. It is then respotted, and I must then shoot at the actual green. And some final weirdness, but I may have this part wrong: if you snooker your opponent after declaring a free ball, this constitutes a foul. No nastiness allowed, this is a gentleman's game.

8. Cueball - object ball contact. It constitutes a scratch to shoot the cue ball towards the object ball if they are in contact, as this will require you to "push" the cue, or touch it more than once in the stroke. However, shooting away from the object ball can be damned hard, and there may be no other object ball in plain view. It seems weird to be snookered by the very ball you need to hit, and it must've also seemed weird to the people who make the rules. You do not have to hit anything when you shoot away, and it isn't a foul. This may influence one shot during a two hour period, which for us comprises about 6 games. Again, yes, we suck.

9. No points are awarded for potted balls if a foul was also committed. This was something that the Dr thought should be a rule, and I did not. We went with counting legally potted shots if there was also a scratch. The new rule will make for some slightly more careful playing on my part. I don't think it influenced any of the outcomes, at least not nearly as much as infractions of rule 3.

10. Only the black remains. There are some weird rules about the very end of the game. If only the black is left, the game ends when either the black is potted, or when a foul is committed. This means that if there is more than a seven point difference, there is no way for M Second Place to win. If there is a tie at the end, the black is spotted on its point, and someone (decided by however you choose to determine to decide...) then must shoot from the D, and play continues until the black is potted or a scratch occurs. I guess they aren't that weird. I find only allowing for one scratch to be a bit strange, but it is unsporting to presume that your opponent will mess up more than once.

* Yes, my return to Blogworld is accompanied by minions of boring bean counters. Not humorous anecdotes of crazy mishaps, not Snooker Gone Wild, not even a snarky parody of these rules (which I so want to do, but probably won't). Deal. Besides that, I got to write about spotted balls just enough as it was.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Kurzweil and big numbers

I picked up Kurzweil's new book (I might review it later), The Singularity is Near. In an interesting section on the limits of computation and storage called "How Smart is a Rock", he calculates a minimum information density for a 1 kg rock to be 10^27 bits, and that it can perform at least 10^42 changes in state per second, considering EM interactions alone. This works out to roughly 10^24 bytes/cc, 10^39 cps/cc.
This seemed large until I found that 3 years ago I had "designed" a future bio-chip that was only 6 magnitudes off, and I had handicapped myself by both shielding for electron tunneling effects and only considering one mode of info storage. Eliminating both of these would put me up in that region.
Daviditron has me thinking hard about the computational power of raw nature, especially as it regards the formation of life out of non-life. Like myself, he's latched onto surface areas, although the direction he's going in seems very surreal. Not like all these large numbers seem very real either.
If we take as an approximation to 2D space a thin slice 1 micrometer thick, the info density of 1cm2 is 10^8 terabytes, executing 10^35 cps, and it's all energy-maximizing parallel processing. While this isn't human information, like sight or sound or tactile info, but rather the substrate for it, and not a human scale, it is a rough (and most likely low) approximation to Nature's evolution-wise scale.
So, for every cc of raw pre-life organic goop, we have at least 10^42 cps, operating on itself, finding ways to maximize energy use. For every cm2 of surface area on bubble membranes, on sea floor bottoms, and on crystalizing surfaces, we have 10^35 cps. For the number challenged, that calculation power is to the computer on your desk as the computer on you desk is to Paris Hilton doing long division. Roughly.

This probably doesn't help you very much, but I'm a bit closer to understanding how life could arise from non-life.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Alright, already!!

Well, I guess I'm back.
Not with much.
Just a note to whomever: this is not an inactive account, just a very lazy one.
Perhaps in hibernation.
Please stop thinking you can have it.

{Procol Harum - Shine on Brightly}

Let's see. Read House of Leaves*, if you want to have trouble sleeping, and like confronting nothingness. A novel with few peers.
I'm half-way through the last book - The Amber Spyglass - of Pullman's His Dark Materials.
There's alot inside, swirling around, about Gnosticism and numbers and morals and Design and craft and writing and most of all moving. This last line, I guess, is about both me and the book. Maybe that's why it's resonating so strongly with me.

Well, maybe I do have something personal.
I spent most of today at work writing a How-To manual for one of the new procedures at work. I get to do this as apparently I know it better than anyone else in the entire company. Yippee me. 7 pages of dense material, all along the lines of "if this, then do that, unless this something else, then do either of these two things, watching out for the following, ...", pointed paragraph after paragraph. Anyway, I'm a so bored that I almost watched an early epidose of Andromeda when I came home: ooh, pretty colours, cheesy acting, hmmm Cheese...
Which I got up to eat, tearing myself away from modern day Shakespeare, then came to the warmer realms of web, only to find that Blogger wants me to change my password because I requested it. Which I so, so didn't.
But thankfully somebody did, and now, well, I'm back. :S

*There'd be a link here to some online thingie about the book, but I'm not quite ready to read other people's ideas about what's going on. I don't want any hints to this riddle, I want to make my own paths in the Garden, I want to leave my own marks on the wall of the Labyrinth.

{Jimi Hendrix Experience - I don't live today}

Friday, September 17, 2004

The unbearable dampness of shoes.

I've been crabby lately.

And I'm not very good at it. It's like I've had no practice or something.

If I was more astrologically inclined, I'd say that it was because my rising sign was Cancer. And you know, cancer cells are made of little clams. Well, they're shaped like clams? They hook and pinch like them? Really, why the frell is this sign called Cancer? I should google it, but boy, then I'd be that bit more astrologically inclined.

Maybe I Was Just Cold...
The other day I was walking to work in the fog. A chilly fog, but it put me in a pleasant mood. I like being slightly cold: if I could pick any temperature for my outdoor environment, it would be 15 celsius, and indoors about 18; I generate alot of heat, which makes me a wise choice to snuggle up to (in winter I say that I am half-malamute). Normally I do not notice anything on my half hour walk to work. I've walked it hundreds of times, over the last decade, I know every leaf, I know where all the different birds are, ya da ya do; in addition, i'm walking at 8 in the morning, and I am not a morning person. I'm just no good at waking up.
Well, it was about 3 degrees out, and I was wearing shorts, a t-shirt, shoes but no socks, and a fleece vest. This definitely woke me up (I really hate that "ennervated" means the opposite of what it sounds like it should mean. I ascertain that my co-worker just learned the word, as he uses it about twice a week), and I actually paid attention to things. Do you remember the fog? Well, it evoked all these memories of childhood fog, or rather, the mood of being in fog when I was young. I love this sort of thing, when childhood states of mind are grafted on to current experiences.* I felt small and isolated, like I was alone on a soundstage. Plus everything seemed strange, unknown, like something does when you have had no experience with it. I didn't feel like I was outdoors, but rather in some impossibly huge indoor space. There was a black cat sitting (no, do not say "on the shadow of a gatepost", because it was...) on a doorstep, and he spooked me a little. Weird, because I love cats, and one of my favourite ones is black with orange eyes and I call her Ghost.
I shivered. looked to my right, and saw a big fluffy grey tabby looking at me from behind a picture window, and she wanted outside (I am randomly assigning these cats sexes, but for some bizarro land reason I feel like I am 100% correct). I laughed a bit, out loud, which I hope the fog swallowed up, or maybe it carried all spooky through the vapour, becoming distorted with the weird echoes of water, and frightened a small child blocks away. I laughed, for I thought that the cat, if outside, would probably just be sitting on her step, not six feet away, sitting beside those shoes, looking just as bored as the black cat did, and not be all imaginatively longing as she was.
This thought ended my childhood mood grafting experience, but as that mood left it said "shoes", which echoed in my head for a few blocks.
shoes, shoes, shoes, shoes, shoes,...

*My favourite? One day, in the morning while walking (hmmm), I saw colours as I did when I was ten. Everthing was more vibrant, more there, but lacked nuance, epsecially of shade, but also of detail: it was like being in primary colour land. Plus, I also felt like I was ten. Boy did I have energy. Everything was just so immediate and vital. After about 15 minutes this slowly faded.

Remember My Crabbiness?
The echo of the childhood mood lasted until about noon, at which point I became the crabby person that I have been lately. Irritable, not nearly as jokey as I like to be. I take things too seriously, realize too late the opportunities for playful banter, become massively enraged when some asshat broke the photocopier (trying to "fix" it, when all it needed was new toner. fuckhead. grrr. wasted half an hour of my time undoing what he did, getting toner all over everything. guess this still means i'm a bit peaved). I definitely needed that martini at lunch, and Amanda was a perk me up. Work brought me down again.
I feel dull these last few days. Like i'm wrapped in plastic. My affect wires intermittently short, giving me slo-mo emotional white noise. It may be due to my recent discovery that I am flat broke. Impecunious. In the infra-red. I discovered that Visa let me go way over my limit, meaning that I couldn't afford at all that trip to V that i took last month. I have to live like an ascetic for the next few months, or at least learn how to be social while broke. Relearn, as I used to always be broke but very social. What this really means is that I have effectively stopped drinking. One or two pints once or twice a week does not my meds comprise. I often joked that alcohol was my meds, that I was born three jokes shy of dealing with the world, but now it feels true.
Not that I think that i am boring if I don't drink. good god no. but I am definitely feeling some sort of withdrawal. I'm sure my liver is thanking me, but my brain is wondering what it did so horribly wrong as to deserve this punishment.

I really hope the rumor is true that Schmutzie is coming into town tonight. It seems I need excuses (I think others call these "reasons") to go drinking lately, and she is one of the best.

-starcat carefully avoids going all "Office-Space" while the owner is in town.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Encryption key dazed and confused

This will be making the rounds of the web, and quickly: your u-lock is now worthless. It can be opened with a bic pen(.mov). From the lovely folks at Metafilter.
My roommate and I just spent about twenty minutes or so trying to jam the only bic pen we had in the house over the centre pin, and he finally got it on (heat the end, slide it on, let it cool, voila). A few seconds later with some jiggling and a twist, unlocked! Since bic pen tubes are not standardized to any finessable degree*, yours may easily slip on. Ten seconds for the lucky. Lucky for me I don't ride a bike. Or a pop machine. Or anything else with a cylindrical lock.

*why didn't I write "since they make the tubes in different sizes", or how about "Since the standard tube is actually not very standard in size"? stafd. wtf?

Oh yeah, it must be due to reading Penrose's new, 1000 page book on why the Universe likes math. ouch. If you like, no, scratch that, all the "fun" sentences require a really special mathy font that I don't want to learn right now. I do have some major problems with this book, though. In the past I have come to expect fine writing (if you do click on the link, please note that although P calls himself a realist, he is also a neo-Platonist, believing that Math really exists independent from us thinking about it) from Penrose on matters of math, consciousness, and physics, but this is, well, muddled.
Penrose wants to write about "the complete guide to the Laws of the Universe", and to do so you need to know Math. 16 chapters of Math. 380 pages. I've taken 3rd year University Math, and I am getting bogged down in the middle of it. Oh, hmmm: the part he "wants" (as he clearly did write the book) is for the book to be readable by practically everyone. He describes in the intro 4 layers of reading. For the novice math person, including those who are scared of the math: no need to understand the formulas, you should be able to gloss and get the ideas. This is laughably not demonstrated; the concepts clearly require an understanding that can only be gained by following the math, as well as understanding math-speak. This is where the muddling enters the picture: his attempt to, and failure at, writing the book at this "low" level destroys the normal clarity of his writing. Or, maybe he just needed a courageous editor, as there is way too much, umm, dis-clarity.
The second group include people like me, people who know a bit of higher math, and can actually learn from the book (this is hard, I have to treat it like a text, and it's exhausting, but I did remember, aw screw it, I need the font. err, "e to the pi i, plus one, equals zero" wacked out stuff). There are math problems at the bottom of most pages, rated easy, middling, and hard: I can do most of the easy ones, some of the hard ones; the third group of people should be able to learn and work through most of the hard ones (the answers are online. Hey, cool! there are corrections! good, as I've found a few mathy mistakes). The fourth group know most of the math, and this book is written to show them how Penrose thinks the Universe works. 600 pages of it. and this is the part that everyone should be able to follow, at some degree of ability, and attain deep understanding of modern physics.

The weird thing is that I disagree with his world view, and I know I do for simple (well, maybe not-so) reasons that come prior to the mathy part. Yet I am reading the mathy part, to truly know my opposition. Also, I like reading ideas contrary to mine own. I have a deep desire to be right, not in the sense that I have to make others believe what I believe, but I need what I believe to agree with big-T Truth, that-which-actually-is. I read deeply in all sorts of philomosophical things, I'm highly rational, I strive to not lie to myself, I'm growing my emotions (that hurts, but it comes close to what I think I mean). Yet I am all too aware that, like everyone, I stop my inquiry into Truth when I am content with what I have found. The final arbiter in my delve for rational knowledge is my mammalian emotional core. And if I stop when I am content, maybe I also have abandoned mainstream ideas just as non-rationally. Maybe I have given up on the Big Bang too early, maybe the concept of God does make sense, maybe there is some ethical ground to stand on for meat-eaters, and a host of other things.
This bothers me, but what can I do? I'm only human. I can't always doubt. I have built in comfort parameters that require stability and coherence but not much more (outside of beer and cheese). So occasionally I mix it all up by reading wacky stuff, mainstream stuff I disagree with, problems in the fields I do study, etc. I no longer try to fit all my knowledge into one tidy package, not because I am extremely messy (which I am), not because I don't trust metanarratives (I think they're sexy!), not because I am avoiding God by refusing to look at inconsistency (has anyone ever pulled this on you?), but because I am lazy. LAZY (such a shock to my regular readers!). oh, and fallible, and also: remember all those philosophers I've pretended to have read? they couldn't do it either.

Apparently I'm also too lazy to wrap up my thoughts. Not that they were very wrap-uppable anyways. Wrapping up is soo five minutes ago.

Friday, September 10, 2004

slow bus to nowhere

Today driving home from work I almost got stuck behind a bus. Fucking buses.
Why can't there be a light on the back of the bus that lights up whenever someone pulls the cord inside? Simple, driver-friendly stuff that will never happen. Like fuel-efficiency. (yes, I realize that this is about a train, albeit with a cool name, and I really wanted the story on the buses in Denmark that use the same principle. But if I've been too lazy to post for weeks, I am certainly too lazy to be all properly linky right off the bat. This is my search, if you are so inclined.)