What is that?
It's a duck pond.
Why aren't there any ducks?
I don't know. There's never any ducks.
Then how do you know it's a duck pond?

Thursday, January 29

Blog

Who What?

Who is Wonkette, who are Media Whores Online, who is this Rittenhouse dude, and why should I care that they are engaged in an unseemly public squabble?

Piss off the lot of you.

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Wednesday, January 28

Blog

Letters From Trixie

The letters from my granddaughter Trixie can now be found in the archives for January 2104 over on the left.

At least until she sends me another letter and my template catches fire...

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Monday, January 26

Blog

Quality Time

I didn't post anything today because I was spending quality time with the grandkids.

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Friday, January 23

Blog

Make The Time, George

Mitch H. of Blogfonte links to an interview with George Soros. Mitch finds the money quote:
Unfortunately, I don't have time to read; I only have time to write.
Says it all, really.

If you don't have the time or the patience to read the whole interview, do at least look at Mitch's analysis.

I don't have time to read; I only have time to write.

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Thursday, January 22

Blog

Pst Fnd in a Blg

Glenn Reynolds has a new Tech Central Station column up, this time about memory - both computer and human. It's worth reading, though I do have a couple of nits to pick.

First, he suggests that 10TB of storage would be enough to hold a lifetime's worth of experiences, given an estimated data stream of 100MB per second. A quick calculation (86,400 seconds in a day, 365.25 days per year, say 75 years life expectancy) yields a number around 2400 times larger than that. The original article is just a short piece in Wired (scroll down to Digital Recording for the Analog Soul) so I'm not sure exactly what was meant to go into that 10TB - possibly just selected or compressed data.

When Glenn says

Every time I buy a new computer, I just copy my old files over. I should go through and delete the unnecessary ones, but I don't. The reason is that it's too much time and trouble, and the new hard drive -- being, inevitably, much larger than the old hard drive -- has plenty of room. The result now is that I have over 100,000 files.
I just have to laugh. Not at him, mind you, but at myself. My latest Linux box has a 720GB RAID 5 array containing 1.7 million files... There are actually more than that, but some of them are still compressed into archives following the Great Transition a few weeks back. My Windows box holds another 350,000 or so, a point which was brought to me with great force when my filesystem got corrupted. Just scanning the file allocation table took hours. It took several days to recover all the files.

There's one flaw in the article, though, that I can't easily excuse. Glenn talks about indexing and library science, even quoting Robert Heinlein on the subject:

Figuring out how to index and find all of this stuff simply underscores the wisdom of Robert Heinlein's statement: "library science is the foundation of all sciences, just as math is the key -- and we will survive or founder, depending on how well the librarians do their jobs."
But he utterly fails to mention the seminal work of literature on the subject, Hal Draper's Ms Fnd in a Lbry. It's been out of print for decades, though you may be able to find a second-hand copy of Laughing Space, a collection of science fiction humour edited by Isaac Asimov and Janet Jeppson.

Ms Fnd in a Lbry is about the collapse of civilisation when the master index to the Great Library becomes corrupted, a quite remarkable insight given that the story was written in 1961. The other key insight in the story is that the indexes, bibliographies and glossaries (not to mention the index to indexes, the bibliography of glossaries, and so on) so far outweigh the actual data that the data itself ends up getting lost.

A hint as to the source of this insight came from (of all places) a Marxist mailing list from 1997: Hal Draper became a part-time microfilm acquisitions librarian at the University of California at Berkeley. I can see how that job might have sent his thoughts heading in a particular direction.

If you can find Ms Fnd in a Lbry somewhere - it doesn't seem to have been posted to the web, which is something of a surprise since everything else has - then do read it, because not only is it both insightful and foresightful as I have said, it is also very funny. (As a geek I particularly enjoyed the discussion of how to store multiple bits of data on a single subatomic particle, and how nudged quanta won out over notched quanta. But that's just me.)

Note: The first version of this post used GB when it should have said TB. Twice. I'm sure that's a sign of... Something.

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Blog

Taking It Back

Look out everyone! It's a meme:
And you know something? You know something? Not only are we going to Sto Helit, we're going to Sto Lat and Genua and the Pseudopolis and Lancre and Slice! We're going to Omnia and Ephebe and Djelibeybi! And we're going to Al Khali and Bes Pelargic and HungHung and EcksEcksEcksEcks! And then we're going to Ankh Morpork. To take back Unseen University! YEEEAAARGH!!
And then there's:
And you know something? You know something? We're going to the ampulla of Vater! And the esophagus! And the duodenum! And the gastric fundus! And the small intestine! And THEN, especially then, we'll go to the anal canal... and take back the integrity of your intestinal tract! BLURRRGH!
Ntot xto mtenxtion:
And you know something? You know something? Not only are we going to Tenochtitlan, we're going to Tlatelolco and Atotonilco and Coatepec and Tehuantepec and Oaxaca! We're going to Tzintzuntzan and Xochimilco and Iztaccihuatl! And we're going to Huehuetla and Zacualco and Acaxochitlan and Cihuatlan! And then we're going to Popocatepetl. To take back The Temple of The Moon God! YEEEAAARGH!!
And finally, for those with smaller horizons:
And you know something? You know something? Not only are we going to Pennsylvania Avenue, we're going to Oriental Avenue and St. Charles Place and St. James Place and Community Chest and Chance! We're going to Kentucky Avenue and Ventnor Avenue and Marvin Gardens! And we're going to Water Works and Pacific Avenue and B & O Railroad and both shitty purple ones! And then we're going to Broadway and Park Place. To go past Go and Collect $200! YEEEAAARGH!!

(Thanks to the commenters at Tim Blair's place.)

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Tuesday, January 13

Blog

EKAPANCASHAM ASHTASHATAM

No, it's not the name of a scroll in the latest version of Nethack.* Ooh, 3.43, when did that come out? Must download...

Oh, yes. It means:

(eka 'one' + pancasham 'fiftieth') + (ashta 'eight' x shatam 'hundred') = '851'

(literally 'eight hundred of a fifty-first sort', following the translation formula in Whitney 1924: 180)

Not many blogs would use it as the title of a post. Not many blogs would have a post titled:
WHITE OVERLORD OF THE CONDIMENTS
either. Maybe "Damn You" Scrappleface.

Fewer blogs still would tell you:

Voiceless nasals were once more widespread in Asia: they used to exist in Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai (e.g., Mandarin hei, Cantonese haak 'black' < Old Chinese *hm@k) but in some cases have left traces on the tones:

Thai maa [with rising tone] 'dog' < earlier Thai *hmaa (and still spelled h-m-aa in the Thai alphabet) - maa 'come' from earlier *maa with a regular *m has a mid tone (and is spelled m-aa without an h). The rising tone of maa 'dog' is a trace of the older *hm.

Rare in the blogging world is the informed discussion of the Law of Consonental Drift (also known as Grimm's Law, after the Brothers who discovered it**).

There are the requisite traumatic computer problems:

Here's how Coma earned its name. If left unattended for long periods, it will black out (good) ... and not wake up (bad). It enters a mode not in my manual - neither standby nor hibernation but a strange state in which the power mode light is on (it should either be blinking in standby or off in hibernation mode) yet the keyboard, touchpad, and even the power button (unless pressed down for several seconds) are unresponsive. The only ways to awaken Coma are to keep the power button pressed or lift it up and use a paper clip to press the reset button conveniently located at the BOTTOM of the machine! Brilliant design choice there.

As if this coma state weren't annoying enough, this laptop also has the worst power cord I've ever encountered on any product. Move Coma slightly, and the cord may fall off! Even the slightest nudge of the cord is sufficient to cut off power. And if I remember correctly - I'll have to test this again - the computer even shuts off if the cord is nudged/falls out and the battery is fully charged and installed! Never had that happen to me before. I was initially tempted to name Coma after the anole (often mistakenly called a 'chameleon'), a kind of lizard that used to live by the bushes beside my front steps. Coma's cord is like the anole's tail:

Like the tails of many lizards, that of the green anole is easily broken. The tail bears fracture planes in the bones-- weakened areas at which the tail can easily break if grasped. There’s good reason for this.* In the wild the broken tail tip wriggles animatedly for several seconds-- drawing the attention of a predator and allowing the anole to escape. The anole will regrow (regenerate) its tail, but it is never quite similar in appearance to the original.

*Why can one say/write "There's/There is good reason" without an article before the noun phrase "good reason" but not, say, "bad reason"? One can only say/write "There's/There is a bad reason" (Google has zero hits for that sentence). "Good reason" seems to be a fixed phrase.

There's History and Stuff
There was an Indo-Greek ruler named Plato who ruled about 2,100 years ago. Here's a list of other Indo-Greek rulers. Read all about the Indo-Greeks and later cultural mixes at Prabhu's coin site (which isn't just for numismatic freaks). The Indo-Scythian coin at the bottom of this page has an image of Zeus with the word "maharaja" 'great king'. What a combo! And check out Buddha - whose name is written as "buddo" (cf. Pali Buddho) in Greek letters on this Kushana diinaara coin. (The word diinaara is from Greek denarion.) Looking at all this reminded me of a question posed by some role-playing game (GURPS?) author: What if Indo-Greek culture had survived? What would a Hellindic world be like?
There's speculation:
I've never seen anyone use bloggin' in such a way before. Here, it seems to be an intransitive (objectless) verb meaning 'being written on a blog' rather than a transitive verb meaning 'write on a blog'. It's fascinating to watch the semantic extension of a term that didn't even exist not too long ago.
And there's the unending battle with the idiotarians:
Chomskyanism never goes that far. Although they are far more interested in fantasy (er, their deep structures) than reality, they never claim that surface structures do not exist in themselves. Their position is similar to, but not identical with, dualism:
[M]ind and matter exist independently of each other and have nothing at all in common (and that the mind is fundamentally inexplicable by scientific method, since it cannot be directly measured or even detected) ... But somehow interact.
Remember, Chomsky was first a linguist.

There's only one place on the web where all this is gathered into... Uh, one place. And that place is Amaravati: Abode of Amritas. Your host, Marc Miyake. If you're looking to stretch your blogroll a little, you'd be hard pressed to find a better direction to stretch it in than this.

Oh, and that last quote? He was quoting me!

* Foobie bletch! Andova begarin! Venzar borgavve!
** They also wrote some kids' books.

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Monday, January 05

Blog

Sgt. Bullfrog

Sergeant Stryker runs a warblog;
It's a long-time fav'rite of mine.
I never disagree with a word he says,
And I help him keep the lefties in line.

Singing
All our boys and girls,
'Gainst the tyrants of the world,
Depth charge the fishies in the deep blue sea,
Sushi for you and me.

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