recently noted quotes

the god of design is the diminishing god of the diminishing gaps. -- alan dershowitz [blasphemy: how the religious right is hijacking our declaration of independence]

spock: doctor, you are an essentialist.
mccoy: you bet your pointy ears i am, mr spock! -- star trek [arena]

green lantern: some things can't be taught. some things can only get through experience.
hawk girl: like?
green lantern: clarity.

he lives in france, the place where all good americans go when they die. -- bugs bunny [on pepé le pew]

an active prefrontal cortex is a happy prefrontal cortex. -- brain age

liberty is not divisible; a society's members do not have it if they have only some of it in some spheres. -- a. c. grayling [freedom of speech]

when we have sufficiently drunk in the beauty of the vista that spreads before us on these heights, and start thinking about returning home and actually building such a parser, it will come to us that there is a small but annoying problem left. -- grune and jacobs [parsing techniques: a practical guide]

so may i take this opportunity to beg pamuk, anyone who writes about pamuk, and indeed, anyone who writes about Istanbul, to retire forever the phrase "caught between east and west"? -- claire berlinski [from her rather amusing dismantling of pamuk in her globe and mail review of other colors, the tedium existence - istanbul and elsewhere]

[yes, i have other colors and i agree with berlinski's review. in fact, she is being rather polite. i too have lived in pamuk's istanbul...]


daily rotfl

found this lovely bit in the national post [canadian printed simulation of fox news] christmas eve editorial "room for god" [i glance at this rag on occasion to get a dose of adrenalin, or laughter, or both.]:
a society that has no place for the supernatural, the metaphysical and, yes, the religious, is closing itself off from the most profound questions. there has to be room for the things of god.

[insert laughter soundtrack]

sigh. the editorial author must have just finished reading roger scruton's latest "political philosophy" dump.

[it is really just a coincidence that i decided to make note of assorted daily inanities after reading scruton's uproarious [late onset] paradox on how "the falsities of religious faith" are supposed to "enable us to perceive truths that matter".]

doctorow's alice

cory doctorow just posted a two and a half hour long reading of alice in wonderland. what a wonderful present for the end of 2007!


earth to flew, earth to flew...

i finally had a chance to long-skim a copy of that new book attributed to antony flew. i was particularly interested in seeing how and what, a philosopher, going from a methodist minister father to uncompromising atheism, and apparently coming back, would discover. intelligent poly-theism? tao? allah? some other philosophically sound riff on cosmic consciousness [eg. see smullyan]? no. one finds, with considerable sadness and not much surprise, that flew can only discover a christian god, and goes on to discuss, with all the seriousness of a mediocre philosophy undergrad, the resurrection fantasy. i have to say that this book, if indeed was written by one, is an embarrassment for a professional philosopher [regardless of his/her religious affiliation], and especially so for someone with flew's credentials. [if he is mentally fit, and not contractually obliged, he should give his advance back, donate the royalties [no doubt would be pouring in from evangelicals in the US as a part of their wish-fulfillment fantasy reading] to a non-religious charity, and disown this worthless piece of pulp attributed to him.]

update 21/12/07: when i wrote this blog entry, i had just returned from the bookstore, and had not seen richard carrier's ongoing update on flew's overall philosophical [in]coherence and the mysterious authorship of this sorry volume. my earlier, naively optimistic note.


404 haiku

encountered while visiting a link at vivtek.com


You step in the stream
the water has moved on
page not found


how to write a computer book review

i just came across Tv's 2005 review of twisted network programming essentials by abe fettig. this is a textbook example of how to write a carefully detailed and rigorous technical book review.
And, in case you didn't read the review above and don't know me, let me restate this: I am not going to write a glowing fluffy review, give a link to amazon and increase sales -- even if I was bribed with a shiny book, which I do appreciate -- but to really dig into this book, see how good it is. Blame it on me being an average pessimistic Finn, or something. Take it this way: everything I don't complain about is just perfect.

[he actually keeps notes while reading the book. how cool is that?] such a lovely contrast to most hand-wavy [glowing fluffy] technical book reviews found in login;, slashdot and elsewhere...


recently noted quotes

open source zealots don't mix well with real life. -- sam leffler [sane 2006]

i think that to achieve true adulthood is to understand the simplicity of things . -- peggy noonan [on speaking well]

In the next version we plan on integrating back scratching and toast making. -- omni group [OWF description in omni group developer resources]

in the future we will all have shaved cats. -- charlie stross [japan: some impressions

if the stakes aren't high, then neither is the audience. -- joss whedon [geek blog interview]

you have to gird your loins. my loins are notably ungirded. -- joss whedon [geek blog interview]

We have a technical term for any business plan that relies on making life difficult for customers and easy for non-customers: we call it "circling the drain". --charlie stross [why i don't like amazon's kindle]

love is never having to read miranda rights. -- ncis

nobody else with the possible exception of Michael Moore has cajones this big. -- acidrain71 [review of penn jillette's sock]

garbage golem are the creation of the truly desperate. -- gurps magic items 3

And so here I am, writing a Python SOAP server and getting all Arlo Guthrie on your keister. -- vivtek [python soap server]

charlie on kindle

charlie stross has an excellent assessment/critique of kindle: why i don't like amazon's kindle

Do I think Kindle is destined to succeed? Well ... this reader's a turkey, but the Kindle service might succeed, if they can iron the bugs out. But they're going to have to make a whole lot of changes, and some of those aren't up to Amazon — the publishers need to change their minds about DRM, and (perhaps more controversially) to accept that it's necessary to renegotiate their rights splits to permit a true worldwide English language ebook market to evolve.

[i categorically refuse to buy anything that comes with kindle-style DRM, so i watch the discussion over this bit of cybercrud with great amusement.]

related reading: mark pilgrim's the future of reading (a play in six acts)


mother's gumbo, jambalaya ...

in a related note to my rather disappointing nawlins experience: i am very pleased to find that one of my favorite restaurants in new orleans, mother's restaurant is still around and appears to be doing well. this is where i had the best jambalaya of my life. they were kind enough to send me a typed up copy of their recipe some years later, and now it is online for everyone to enjoy, along with their gumbo, beans and bread pudding recipes.


pleasures and disappointments

enchanted: amy adams is enchanting to say the least, and i think [seriously] deserves of an oscar nomination. movie has its moments, especially when it punches its imaginary disney nose for fun. recommended.

nawlins restaurant: quite expensive for what it delivers to its tight, uncomfortable tables. [when we first sat down, we asked the next table for their recommendations - they were there for the first time, and were not impressed with their fishy blackened catfish.] crab cakes are just two, tiny, very tasty, but slightly over-fried. catfish gumbo is generally competent, but has too much cayenne. [i have been to NO many times, and have had enough many authentic gumbos to know. it is an art form] blackened chicken livers are excellent. blackened tilapia seems well blackened, but swimming in butter [and really overpriced]. it is served over an absolutely horrible would-be jambalaya, with cold sausages, other odd unrecognizable bits, and rice that turned glutenous. 12-oz new york striploin is very well done, blackened, perfectly medium-rare as ordered, but it is served over a potato-garlic puree my 9-year old son can easily improve upon [and any new orleans restaurant would be embarrassed to serve]. music was just good enough to make up for some of what is missing in the meal. we skipped the basic coffee; a place calling itself nawlins should at least be able to serve some cafe du monde coffee. [$5.50/can straight from the source - if i knew they did not have any, i would have brought some of my own for them to brew.] $115 for two, taxes and beers included.

note to self: had better meals at southern accent restaurant

[my wife, who had the blackened tilapia and tasted everything mentioned in this review, thinks i am being generous to nawlins]

[update: a week later, i found a 14-oz new york striploin at a nearby pickle barrel which costs $10 less, just as well prepared, and comes with better garnish.]


legal restrictions in whose country?

yet another notch in the decline of ebay. this time, not gross fees, just gross idiocy with handwaving:
Dear User:

Unfortunately, access to this particular category or item has been blocked
due to legal restrictions in your home country. Based on our discussions with
concerned government agencies and eBay.ca community members, we have taken
these steps to reduce the chance of inappropriate items being displayed.
Regrettably, in some cases this policy may prevent users from accessing items
that do not violate the law. At this time, we are working on less restrictive
alternatives. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this may
cause you, and we hope you may find other items of interest on eBay.

Thank You.

what is my home country? trouble spelling canada? what exact legal restriction is this item violating in canada?

in case any canadian is wondering, the item in question is a miniature samurai sword letter opener. i can get a beautiful, razor sharp, folded steel katana in a blink, but i cannot get a miniature at ebay.

mind reels, boggles, throws up, and huddles in a corner, whimpering.


scalzi's report

sf author john scalzi has written a wonderful report on the creation museum.
Imagine, if you will, a load of horseshit. And we’re not talking just your average load of horseshit; no, we’re talking colossal load of horsehit. An epic load of horseshit. The kind of load of horseshit that has accreted over decades and has developed its own sort of ecosystem, from the flyblown chunks at the perimeter, down into the heated and decomposing center, generating explosive levels of methane as bacteria feast merrily on vintage, liquified crap. This is a Herculean load of horseshit, friends, the likes of which has not been seen since the days of Augeas.

it should be required reading on highschools, minus the bad language, of course...


scruton's matter

i have read just enough of roger scruton to know he is the kind of philosopher that gives the whole enterprise a bad name while providing some tv dinner grade food for intellectually starved conservative thought. here is an especially inedible example from a political philosophy that makes even the most gnomic utterance of ka'a orto'o [tough guide to fantasy land] look positively brilliant [in fact one can seriously argue that diana wynne jones is a more thoughtful philosopher than scruton even when she is writing fantasy for young readers]:
the paradox, then, is this: the falsehood of religious faith enable us to perceive the truths that matter. the truths of science, endowed with an absolute authority, hide the truths that matter, and make the human reality imperceivable.

ahahahahaha. this is funny!

[i wish he would enumerate some of the specific religious falsehoods out of the hundreds he no doubt has in mind so we can get a better insight into those mysterious "truths that matter". alas, such detailed explication would expose this sort of drivel for exactly what it is...]


recently noted quotes

a trick is a clever idea that can be used once, while a technique is a trick that can be used at least twice. -- don knuth [pre-fascicle 1a: bitwise tricks and techniques]

i demand a lawyer! i cannot be grounded for refusing to eat my dinner! -- eren yigit [my very own version of calvin]

A useful reductio, as we all learned in our first logic course, has just one bad premise that eventually sticks out like a sore thumb, but in this case we have an embarrassment of riches: four premises, all of them false. I will leave as an exercise for the reader the task of seeing if any presentable variation of Fodor's argument can be constructed in which some or all of these are replaced by truths. -- daniel dennett [fun and games in fantasyland]

religion: 1. boundless conceit concealed as utmost modesty. 2. justification for regulating one's own behavior and coercing others to regulate theirs. 3. an inexhaustible mine of meaning for the mentally lazy. -- thomas szasz [the untamed tongue: a dissenting dictionary]

I think George Bush has proved definitively that to be president, you don’t need to care about science, literature or peace. -- stephen colbert [i am an op-ed columnist (so can you)]

WAITER: And what might you be having this evening?

MCGRATH: Yes. Well, it’s important to distinguish between the various choices that a dinner menu offers. On the one hand, yes, there is a Chicken Cordon Bleu, and throughout the years it has been very satisfying to those who would choose to partake of it, as it is their right and wont to do so. I myself have been partial to such dishes, and I believe you would be too, were you to be one who enjoys partaking of such dishes as one is partial to. -- sexy secularist's alister mcgrath impression [watch alister mcgrath take a very long time to say very little - rotfl]

boxer: what was he doing in canada?
thomas: one place to go when you are having trouble with the law... plus the beer! -- women's murder club

angela: or just remind him of who i am, and ask him politely.
jack: what are you, a canadian? -- bones

imagine there is no heaven, my dear six billionth, and at once the sky's the limit. -- salman rushdie [portable atheist]



jonathan has responded to netapps idiocy, and what a sweet response that is:
So later this week, we're going to use our defensive portfolio to respond to Network Appliance, filing a comprehensive reciprocal suit. As a part of this suit, we are requesting a permanent injunction to remove all of their filer products from the marketplace, and are examining the original NFS license - on which Network Appliance was started. By opting to litigate vs. innovate, they are disrupting their customers and employees across the world.


from the nose of the buddha

daniel dennett's appreciation of hofstadter's i'm a strange loop and minsky's the emotion machine

dawkins's speech in honor of dan dennett

ian musgrave's open letter to dr michael behe

andy lewis's criticism of the society of homeopaths, now forced down with legal threats, and replicated as a result: the gentle art of homeopathic killing


dis-continued education

university of st michael's college in the university of toronto offers this amazingly magical course, delivered by an instructor with an intellect as sharp as meringue...

RSS7-F By Design or By Chance? An Introduction to the Intelligent Design Controversy

The intelligent design controversy is best understood as a conflict between materialist and non-materialist views of the origin and nature of the universe. Reputable scientists can be found on both sides. Because the two sides proceed from different assumptions, they do not agree, as Thomas Kuhn would say, on what would constitute a falsification of their premises. The controversy continues to grow because, while the materialism is prevalent in academia and the media, it is widely discredited in the population at large, including the professional classes.

INSTRUCTOR: Denyse O’Leary is a Toronto-based journalist, author, and blogger, who is the author of Faith@Science, By Design or By Chance? and co-author of The Spiritual Brain with Neuroscientist Mario Beauregard.


fodor's evolution from curmudgeon to crank

jason rosenhouse deals with jerry fodor's latest missive on evolution, why pigs don't have wings. [dennett's fun and games in fantasyland is a helpful introduction to fodor's current state of mind]


recently noted quotes

the raven snored gently on top of his skull, counting dead sheep. -- terry pratchett [soul music]

what answer will make socrates shut up? -- gregory house

traveling via plane is feeling more and more like the yearly exam with the doctor: remove everything, turn your head and cough. -- thom hogan [bythom]

note to our institutional review board: no undergraduates had their DNA sequenced in the writing of this essay. -- cozma shalizi [yet more on the heritability and malleability of IQ]

yakka foob mog. grub pubbawup zink wattoom gazork. chumble spuzz. -- calvin [explaining newton's first law of motion in his own words.]

hmm, my burp tastes like ice cream! -- eren yigit [my very own version of calvin]

don't buy this book. stick your brain in a blender first. -- p z myers [review of the spiritual brain]
[i have skimmed this peculiar collection of pseudo-random ink spots on tortured wood pulp, and i agree that it is mind-numbingly awful. it was, as if guided by some divine force, stacked next to another steaming pile of awfulness, coulter's if democrats had brains, they would be republicans... sigh]

atheism has no problems, to my mind, in being more interesting than religion and absolutely no problems at all in being truer or more dignified. But it's quite hard for it to deliver an equivalent to the consoling satisfaction many people find in a church service or friday prayers, in part because the withdrawal of false consolation is at its core. -- thomas sutcliffe [dawkins - what can't he be blamed for?]

ahh, this is microsoft, hiding the useful bits under an advanced tab! -- anonymous

so my final piece of advice to dembski is that he quits pestering the biologists. -- olle häggström, professor of mathematical statistics [uniform distribution is a model assumption, essentially a thorough dismantling of dembski's latests quasi-mathematical attempts to sustain "intelligent design" comedy]

love of new ideas is a myth; we prefer ideas only after others have tested them. -- scott berkun [the myths of innovation]

belief itself is the food of the gods. -- terry pratchett [small gods]


moronic babble of the year

author should be obvious. she often talks about her malodorous fantasies, and gives dumb blondes a bad name.
If we took away women's right to vote, we'd never have to worry about another Democrat president. It's kind of a pipe dream, it's a personal fantasy of mine, but I don't think it's going to happen. And it is a good way of making the point that women are voting so stupidly, at least single women.

story link: truthdig


sony ripples and friday's random albums

some lawyer at sony claims copying the music i own is stealing. well, certainly laws in this country [canada - for now, until conservative pawns get around to hugging the music industry - see michael geist's blog for the details] strongly disagree. i am happy to report that i have not purchased a single music track online, itunes or otherwise to this day. i only buy CDs, and I rip them the moment i get them. i think i have ripped [and re-ripped, because i was unhappy with some initial rip parameters] over a thousand CDs so far, and that is only about half my library.

here is friday's random selection of [ripped] albums from my library:


quick notes for september

redrawing the european map, or freudian slip of the union: lovely new euro coin, but carefully redrawn. turkey's real place in many european minds have been clear to observers for a long time, but never so pungent, and so idiotic. it is an urgent reminder to turks where the future lies, and what to do with the current government's deception about a future membership.

noir: author charlie huston has a cool site pulpnoir that includes chapters from his novels and other essays.
NEW YORK — I write pulp. I write noir. Open one of my books and you'll see I'm not lying. I write about people killing each other and suffering or not suffering the consequences. I write about the halt and the lame and the addicted. So it should come as no surprise that this site is for fucking grownups.

dezenhall and the art of fud: jim giles's new scientist article
on academic publishers and the PR skirmish over open access. [i label this a skirmish simply because academic publishers cannot win, only delay.]

important lens review: bjorn rorslett's review of the amazing nikon afs 24-70.

adjusting prices in real time: amazon.ca appears to screen-scrape chapters.ca as a competitive tactic. as soon as a book becomes unavailable to order from chapters, the matching amazon discount disappears. [i have caught this happen several times already, literally within hours...] amazon uses its US parent to source many books that chapters thinks it cannot source. i have no idea why chapters does not use a US partner to match amazon.ca in catalog depth...

on quotes: i have been noting my favorite quotes for quite sometime. i prefer original quotes previously uncollected in books or other blogs. if you notice a quote that was previously posted elsewhere, please let me know. [it is rather difficult to find previously unnoticed bits of wisdom from, say, terry pratchett, but i try. people often catch his obvious gems but overlook more subtle pieces.]

arithmetic, logitech style:
    Communicating with your Harmony remote
264% Complete


random good books from my library

[sorry no links. it was painful enough to put the whole table together with blogger editor image uploads...]


politics and evolution

gallup finds that majority of republicans do not belive in the theory of evolution. [i wonder which one begat the other...]

[graph produced with peter mcmaster's barcode script [link lost] for omnigraffle]


kurtz editorial: Are ‘Evangelical Atheists’ Too Outspoken?

paul kurtz editorial on the ever idiotic charge that the atheists and secularists are too outspoken:
Why should religion be held immune from criticism, and why should the admission that one is a disbeliever be considered so disturbing? The Bush administration has supported faith-based charities—though their efficacy has not been adequately tested; it has prohibited federal funding for stem cell research; it has denied global warming; and it has imposed abstinence programs instead of promoting condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS. Much of this mischief is religiously inspired. How can we remain mute while Islam and the West are poised for a possible protracted world conflagration in the name of God?

[the charge of being outspoken is especially ludicrous for those of us who had the misfortune to live through the myths, fictions and delusions of not one but two major religions. double the dose of nonsense, loud and ever present, with one including death penalty for disbelief.]


recently noted quotes

how do you spell "mediocre"? -- a guest [top chef]

i've come to realize that understanding pointers in C is not a skill, it is an aptitude. -- joel spolsky [the guerrilla guide to interviewing]

when the Singularity comes, the first AI to transcend will be a Panasonic toilet seat. No, really ... -- charles stross [conclusion #1 from the Japan trip]

SF is a literature of energy and wary ambition. It will rise wherever people are facing the future with courage. And it fades wherever people lose their nerve and turn away from tomorrow... as has been happening in the USA, ever since this #$@*! century began. -- david brin

I'm not impressed with moments of silence or candlelight vigils or noble rhetoric about this event. If you want to do something to remember that tragedy, the best thing to do is to simply stop living your life in fear. -- p. z. myers [in honor of 9/11]

X-Message-Flag: Microsoft: the company who gave us the botnet zombies. -- anon

To regret that we cannot be done with superstition is no more than to regret that we have a common ancestry with apes and plants and fish. -- christopher hitchens [review of lilla's stillborn god]

being a philosopher means never having to say "oops, i was mistaken". -- oz

too much idealism, and the work never ships -- not enough, and little change is brought to the world. -- scott berkun [the myths of innovation]


grayling on irrationality-based schooling

anthony grayling's commentary on the recent attempt to introduce faith-based schools in england comes just in time for those of us about to vote in ontario. this very topic has [one would hope] destroyed the chances of conservatives winning the provincial election.


griffin and censorship

censored for emmy award comments :
lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus.

kathy griffin should try subtlety next time. of course jesus had nothing to do with her win; it was probably some other deity more interested in award ceremonies. she should have thanked allah, or tao, or vishnu instead, and (a) jolt everybody (b) have her words broadcast fully [censorship does not apply to (pro) religious drivel] and (c) possibly have more fans amongst the related faith groups.

for exactly these sorts of mind-boggling situations, salman rushdie [who knows a thing or two about mortal forms of censorship] once wrote:
there is a fault in reality. do not adjust your minds.

related link: atheist group protests emmy awards censorship


quote of the day

joel says:
I've been using Vista on my home laptop since it shipped, and can say with some conviction that nobody should be using it as their primary operating system -- it simply has no redeeming merits to overcome the compatibility headaches it causes. Whenever anyone asks, my advice is to stay with Windows XP (and to purchase new systems with XP preinstalled).


logic and me

a neat little three-minute self-assessment test says:
You Are Incredibly Logical

Move over Spock - you're the new master of logic
You think rationally, clearly, and quickly.
A seasoned problem solver, your mind is like a computer!

norvig on mind over mind

norvig examines the healing power of prayer and related self deception in this superb essay: evaluating extraordinary claims: mind over matter? or mind over mind?. see also, his warning signs in experimental design and interpretation

[i hope norvig publishes a collection of essays someday. this is the kind of stuff that needs to be on every computer scientist's shelf]


recently noted quotes

win first. then cut. -- ohmi sensei

There will be a SlaughterFest of Horror, an Orgy of Bloodletting, Partial Nudity, Flammable Liquids, Unspeakable Misuse of Power Tools and Small Woodland Creatures, and the Plaintive Wailing of the Doomed. It will make Altamont look like Lilith Fair. -- anthony bourdain [about the next episode of top chef, where he is a guest judge, in bourdain's blog]

first you have to be a cook. than you can become a food critic. -- eren yigit [age nine, in response to whether he would become a food critic when he grew up.]

sure enough, once you've got enough food, people will invent etiquette. -- nanny ogg [nanny ogg's cookbook]

If you are a religious apologist invited to debate with Christopher Hitchens, decline. -- richard dawkins [review of god is not great]

sagacious saint of sacrosanct sayings, sardonic sultan of sarcasm and of scrappy satirical sounds swung slowly or savagely scandalizing shallow society softies with soaring scarlet scherzos, so scholarly, so scintillating. -- wynton marsalis [on sydney betchet, jazz a.b.z]

Bwahahahahaha! He's a Dänikenite! This could be fun. -- p. z. myers [pharyngula]

You can't make people believe in the impossible. All you can do is make people feel very guilty that they can't make themselves believe it. -- christopher hitchens [hitchens and donehue on hardball]

I say it as calmly as I can—the Church should have had the elementary decency to let the earth lie lightly on this troubled and miserable lady, and not to invoke her long anguish to recruit the credulous to a blind faith in which she herself had long ceased to believe. -- christopher hitchens [teresa, bright and dark]

People's noses are a difficult subject for research; we don't get to define human crosses, people tend to be a little snippy about telling them who to breed with and taking their genes apart, and humans are awfully slow to breed. -- p. z. myers [phayrngula]


doctorow on cbc

one of my favorite authors is now a regular in CBC's search engine.
I've started a new gig as an essayist/columnist for Search Engine, a new show on CBC Radio. They've got me reading adaptations of my Guardian columns, starting with my piece on Digital Lysenkoism. They've done a great job with the editing -- it's nice having other people around to help me sound smart!
mp3 file
Search Engine podcast feed
guardian column on digital lysenkoism

[hmm, i doubt cory needs any help to sound smart. in fact he is one of those rare individuals that make everyone around him feel smart. note on the image: copyright ozan s. yigit. it is licensed under the creative commons "attribution shareAlike 2.0 canada" licence. link to wikimedia]


recenty noted links

dawkins reviews hitchens's wonderful god is not great [this one is in my list of best books of 2007]

a system for interactive fiction: inform 7. [last time i looked, this field was littered with the leftovers of clumsy and unimaginative systems that could barely visit dave's cave. i have no idea how far this one has gotten.] zoom is a player for z-code.

i am a big fan of stephan martiniere's art.

collection of articles about plan9, inferno, v9fs et al. grave robbers from outer space [especially see introduction to using 9p under linux and creating dirtab-based synthetic filesystems]

secular student alliance's book list found in secular seasons: freethought booklist [it needs to be updated]

geek counterpoint, an antidote to "soundbite science" does an incovenient truth teardown [movie survives]


mozart and cicadas [haikus]

mozart #29 in A -
even cicadas
know the piece.
summer nightfall -
mozart clarinet
cicada chorus

[oz/07 - a memorable summer evening gift: i am listening mozart symphony no. 29 in A major, followed by the clarinet concerto, with a full accompaniment of cicadas. somehow the cicada rhythms matched mozart's tempi.]

recently noted links

james boyle's excellent article on open access to scientific publications: the irony of a web without science

so you want to make things look like miniatures: tilt/shift photography links

a remarkable newsweek article on global warming denialists. [on this side of the border, the post has been the unsurprising mouthpiece for denialists.] [ipcc report for those who prefer to read first, argue later.]

adam leventhal's what if machine: dtrace port looks into dtrace license issues for possible/hypothetical port to linux. [i think that the amount of hand wringing, bad mouthing and churn around dtrace in linux circles now amounts to dtrace denial, or dtrace envy. it is deeply embarrassing.]

john allen paulos on religion and math: math: gift from god or work of man?
I wonder if the school teaches that non-Euclidean geometry is the work of the devil or at least of non-Christians.


cheese sandwich or frameworks

a selection from leonard de quirm's recipe for a cheese sandwich, found in nanny ogg's cookbook. it is eerily reminiscent of some software development projects using frameworks.
design breadknife. design machine for making breadknives. design an improved wheel bearing, using small balls of, e.g., steel. design shot tower for making steel balls of any size. devise a small hand-cranked machine by which bread of any size and thickness can be smoothly buttered to any depth.
consider designs of milk churns, and improve them. hear that temperature regulation in dairies is vitally important for the manufacture of good cheese; design a device for regulating temperature by means of expanding metal strips, coupled to pulleys.
send out for pizza.

related reading: benji smith's uproarious 2005 why i hate frameworks.


prismatic bullshit

publishers of prestigious and very expensive science and medicine journals are annoyed at the possibility that publicly funded research results may be open, affordable and accessible by the public that funded it, so they attack it with fear, uncertainty, and doubt on their miserable prism coalition website [and alas, put their publishing credentials to shame]

Various initiatives and proposals have been put forth by special interest groups and some legislators that would force private sector publishers to surrender to the federal government all peer-reviewed articles that report on research supported by federal research grants.

Such undue government intervention in scholarly publishing poses inherent risks and problems, including:

  • Threats to the economic viability of journals and the independent system of peer review
  • The potential for introducing selective bias into the scientific record
  • Government data repositories being subject to budget uncertainties
  • Unwarranted increases in government spending to compete with private sector publishing
  • Expropriation of publishers' investments in copyrighted articles
  • Undermining the reasonable protections of copyright holders
let's follow the droppings, shall we, in the manner of amazon. here are the negatively charged words and phrases intended to distort, misinform, and mislead: special interest groups, force, surrender, undue government intervention, inherent risks, threats to economic viability [whoo, this is a big one], threats to peer review, selective bias, budget uncertainties, unwarranted budget increase, competition with private sector, expropriation of investments, undermining copyright protection.

this sort of FUD is just stupid and embarrassing. none of their prestigious journals would publish it...

[why do i care? because more than a decade ago, i had the unfortunate task of helping university librarians and computer science faculty decide what journals to drop because the university library could no longer afford them. this was not because of a library budget cut, but because of the obscene increases in the library subscription costs for such journals. as far as i am concerned, their comeuppance is about a decade too late...]

here is a very good summary of reactions and responses from the science bloggers: This PRISM does not turn white light into the beautiful colors of the rainbow


recently noted quotes

you have a quality that just draws us in as an audience. absolutely incredible! -- nigel lythgoe [prophetically commenting on sabra johnson's audition]

it's a simple rule. If your possible choices are: 1) a shatteringly momentous event occurred in science, and 2) the journalist doesn't have a clue about what is happening, it is always wise to hold the latter as your working assumption. -- grant canyon [comments for clearly, bloggers need to take over science journalism]

I feel that I have just started to do some decent Iaido practice after more than 50 years of learning. -- iwata norikazu sensei

the way you think affects what you think about and what kinds of thoughts you get. -- jack foster [how to get ideas]

the big ideas are a small part of the process of true innovation. -- scott berkun [the myths of innovation]

You know things are bad when questions about a technical matter like security are answered by a public-relations firm. -- ed felten [e-voting ballots not secret; vendors don’t see problem]

moral of this story is left as an exercise for the reader. -- charles stross [why DRM sucks: redux]

To speak of the compatibility of science and Islam in 2007 is rather like speaking of the compatibility of science and Christianity in the year 1633, just as Galileo was being forced, under threat of death, to recant his understanding of the Earth's motion. -- sam harris [correspondence]

[i sometimes note quotes that i find amusing, even if not wise, such as the one by sam harris. problems of science and islam are well covered in a superb book by taner edis, an illusion of harmony, to which sam can only add sound bites.]

nikon d3!

finally, my dream full-frame nikon is here.
thom's comments and thom's q&a

update: thom's navigation through chaff [... and bs. required reading]

[i was very tempted to switch when canon 5d came out, but now i am glad i stayed with nikon and those exceptional nikkors, eg. 85mm f/1.4, 105mm f/2 DC and so on...]


books on my future shelves

tom flynn, the new encyclopedia of unbelief [i know, i know, amazon thinks it is not available. amazon is out of date; prometheus books announced its availability in the latest issue of free inquiry]

john w. loftus, why i rejected christianity: a former apologiest explains

bruce sterling ascendancies: best of bruce sterling [a review of this book appears in this month's locus]

mignola and golden, Baltimore,: Or, the Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire [mignola is amongst my top 10 comic illustrators. that list also includes bachalo, cho, giraud (moebius), alan davis, skottie young et al.]

clay shirky, here comes everybody: how digital networks are transforming the ways we connect and cooperate [anyone who has read clay's insightful writings would be ordering this sight unseen...]

allen steele, galaxy blues

cass sunstein, worst-case scenarios


clearing mind [haiku]

moku-so -
clearing mind
ankles in pain.

[moku-so is the brief meditation before starting a training session in some martial arts]


recently noted quotes

three stooges were more grounded in reality. -- richard roeper [review of rush hour 3]

I'll have you know, though, that I took the test [asperger test] and scored a 24, an "average math contest winner." You need a 32 to suggest Asperger's, and a 15 is the average. So there. I don't have Asperger's, I'm just cruel and insensitive. -- p. z. myers [i'm mostly normal]

i'm an entropy buff. -- george carlin [napalm & silly putty]

i would pay a premium to stick with [windows] xp. -- ron winacott

you ought not to be regarded as the light of the world when even your most eloquent defenders can say only that your record is not quite as bad as that of the greatest monsters or most pernicious ideologies of history. -- keith parsons [atheism: twilight or dawn?]

what really distinguishes dance from other shows -- including idol -- is contestant quality. fortunately for us, dance is a criminally underappreciated art -- being a good dancer is just harder than being an idol-style pop singer. -- alynda wheat [happy feet, EW jul 20]

instead of wanting to innovate, a process demanding hard work and many ideas, most want to have innovated. -- scott berkun [the myths of innovation]

the secret tragedy of innovators is that their desire to improve the world is rarely matched by support from the people they hope to help. -- scott berkun [the myths of innovation]

when one accepts that the natural world is the only world, one can see that it is actually better than any that can be made up.
but when you are done, you are done - read your lucretius. - jennifer m. hecht [a conversation, free inquiry]


books on my future shelves

charles stross, halting state and merchants' war [book four of the merchant princes]

john allen paulos, irreligion: a mathematician explains why the arguments for god just don't add up [i have been reading paulos since innumeracy, one of my all time favorite books. i am happy to see his entry in the ongoing discussion of imaginary deities, and their mathematical [im]possibilities.]

arnie and cathy fenner, the comic art of frank frazetta

karen paik et al. to infinity and beyond!: the story of pixar animation studios

dick grune and ceriel jacobs, parsing techniques (2/ed).

connie willis, the winds of marble arch and other stories [i had the privilege to meet her in ad astra a few years ago. she is extremely smart, and very charming. i have become a big fan.]

terry pratchett, the wit and wisdom of discworld [wonderful, but only 178 pages!?] and making money

karl schroeder, queen of candesce: book two of virga

alberto manguel, homer's the iliad and the odyssey: a biography


slightly aged notes...

down the drain: i had noted scalpel magazine a couple months ago. alas, it died horribly. here is a large part of the story [i tracked the site with some interest and can confirm the publicly visible parts of the story] it was/is a worthy goal: criticism of genre fiction without [as bill stott once put it] the gobbledygook of bad social science, slobbering professionalism and good old b.s. double sigh.

art in motion: two of my favorite pieces from so you think you can dance were dominic and sabra's hip-hop routine [shane sparks] to ne-yo's make it work, and lauren and danny's contemporary routine [mia michaels] to celine dion's then you look at me. both thoughtfully choerographed, and both very affecting. [i think sabra johnson is a remarkably talented and charming dancer, and i hope will go far]

i laughed, i coughed: pete lacey's spot-on skewering of the soap/wsdl madness [from last year] is here.

legalize it: according to 2007 world drug report, 16.8 percent of canadians between the ages of 15 and 64 have used cannabis. this, in a country which had the historic opportunity in 2003 to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, but missed it. [it is unlikely that the current [wannabe-republican] conservative minority government will open the issue before the elections; to reverse-echo the post, another profound reason not to give the conservatives a majority.]

hmmm: a few weeks ago, i posted a particularly funny bit from an a.c. grayling essay on a rather bizarre tag used by some christians [eg. oxford apologist alister mcgrath] to try to discredit strong and vocal atheists. it turns out that the essay can an atheist be a fundamentalist? is available online. [related reading: james morrow's hilarious towing jehovah, where the humor of "a divine foot or buttock" gets its full perspective...]


flew over...

i keep an eye on up-and-coming titles on atheism; i pre-ordered hitchens (ed) portable atheist. i also noted a new one by anthony flew, once a "leading atheist", now a believer in some form of god apparently not bumper-stickered by existing religions: there is a god: how the world's most notorious atheist changed his mind.

Flew earned his fame by arguing that one should presuppose atheism until evidence of a God surfaces. He now believes that such evidence exists, and There Is a God chronicles his journey from staunch atheism to believer.

[i have no doubt philosophy students can hardly wait for, say, a variant of principle of sufficient reason, therefore god. let's hope it is less turgid than some of his earlier writings and provides sufficient novelty.]

related readings for the philosophically inclined:

[update: fixed the missing parsons book link]


recently noted quotes

Indeed, boredom could be considered one of the driving forces of ingenious invention, not only in science fiction, but in our rambunctious civilization as a whole. -- david brin [singularities and nightmares: extremes of optimism and pessimism about the human future]

i would say that gumbo is more indicative of american cousine than apple pie is, probably. -- alton brown

Here's what you can still do: just sit there and don't make any sudden moves. Pretend you are using Microsoft software instead of GPL'd software. Don't think. Don't modify. Don't share. Don't explore. Don't improve. Don't innovate. Don't distribute. Don't sublicense. Don't do "unauthorized" things. Don't do nuttin' or you might get sued. -- feldegast [on disgraceful microsoft/lispire patent deal]

politics is when you sell your daughter to bandits and your daughter and yourself are then both set free. -- ka'a Orto'o, gnomic utterances, xxxi ii [the tough guide to fantasyland]

please restart any running iceweasels, or you will experience problems. -- debian apt notice

from newfies to yorkies, from weimaraners to water spaniels, from dalmatians to dachshunds, as i incredulously close this book i seem to hear mocking barks and deep, baying howls of derision from 500 breeds of dogs - every one descended from a timber wolf within a time frame so short as to seem, by geological standards, instantaneous. -- richard dawkins [inferior design]

to differ from the "different," make no claims. to photograph is enough. -- david vestal [being different]

DRM is Lysenkoism for the digital age. It's an ideologically correct lie that's been concocted to bilk the entertainment industry out of a fortune. -- cory doctorow [copy killers]

there is something in the way i think that women can relate to. that comes from growing up in a house full of women. it was me, my sister, my mother, my grandmother, and about five of my aunts all in the same house. so any drama that a woman can go through, one of the women in my house went through it, and i was right there to soak it up. i just might have a little more insight than the average guy. -- ne yo [music interview, globe and mail]

the thing is, when it comes to things like flavor, you can't sort of chop it up and be all nice about it; you have to bash it up, you have to make a bit of a noise... -- jamie oliver [jamie at home]



  • firefox can no longer properly display the OK button for an image download in blogger's editor. i suppose this is not noticed by anyone except people like me who often use the native inteface to create entries. the image for the beautiful code entry was initially linked from picasa, because it could not be blogger uploaded.
  • omniweb cannot even run the blogger editor properly. edit html and compose tabs are missing, so are the font controls, link and quote in the editor bar. check spelling and add image are present, but the latter does not work.
  • safari has the same rendering problem as omniweb [no surprise, as they share rendering engine] but at least the add image button actually work. [this is how the dicey image got on this page]


beautiful book

yes! my copy of beautiful code: leading programmers explain how they think just arrived. it includes essays by brian kernighan, karl fogel (subversion), jon bentley, tim bray, elliotte rusty harold, michael feathers, alberto savoia (testivus), charles petzold, douglas crockford, henry s warren jr (hacker's delight), ashish gulhati, lincoln stein, jim kent (parasol), jack dongarra (netlib) and piotr luszczek, adam kolawa, greg kroah-hartman, diomidis spinellis (code reading, code quality), andrew kuchling, travis e oliphant, ronald mak (martian principles), rogerio atem de carvalho (erp5) and rafael monnerat, bryan cantrill (dtrace), jeff dean and sanjay ghemawat (mapreduce), simon peyton jones (haskell), r. kent dybvig (chez scheme), william r. otte and douglas c. schmidt, andrew patzer, andreas zeller, yukihiro matsumoto (ruby), arun mehta, t.v. raman (emacspeak), laura wingerd and christopher seiwald (perforce), brian hayes.

i am impressed with some of the essays even after the preliminary scan. i know i would want another volume, with essays from, say, jeff bonwick, henry spencer, sam leffler, richard stallman, marshall mckusick, william clinger, guy steele, radia perlman...

see also: bryan's blog entry about the book.

[sigh, i did not know about the book until i saw it on geoff arnold's now reading sidebar. thanks geoff!]


serendipitous naughts

welcome news: ann coulter's recent pulp contribution to right-wing fantasy and malediction literature is now out in softcover with an afterword. the copy i accidentally bumped fell open [no doubt a sign from assorted fictional deities who wish to brighten my day] to page 269 where i read this 5-star howler:
the path between darwinism and nazism may not be ineluctable, but it is more ineluctable than the evolutionary path from monkey to man.

[ineluctable: lawyer-speak for inescapable]



none of the rocks were set up by a photographer. all natural occurances found in bokbalbaii, south africa. all images copyright ozan s. yigit.
see ancnd
prints available.

tosses back blonde hair...

roger ebert's uproarious spoof of ann coulter: chris curveball and blonde bomb
Well, then, let’s face it. You’re a porker yourself. And then the liberals sue doctors to keep them from delivering babies! At least that’s an improvement. Liberals used to eat babies. Maybe that’s why they got so fat.


recently noted quotes

the inhabitants of this great wilderness may live and die without ever having contact with humanity. long may it be that way. -- david attenborough [planet earth]

You know what I love about the GPL? Regular lawyers can't understand it. -- groklaw

attention conservation notice: i know nothing about music and have no taste. -- cosma shazili [random notes from the tail end of the montreal jazz festival]

Q: You have run into criticism from certain religious groups who regard you as subversive, with the Catholic Herald describing your work as 'worthy of the bonfire.' Do such emotional responses concern or upset you or does it please you to generate strong reactions?

A: I'm delighted to have brought such excitement into what must be very dull lives. -- philip pullman [about the writing]

precious! precious! oh my precious we loves you. we loves you! -- brent on his new iphone [pvp]

whether or not the jesus phone achieves worldly success, it will succeed in its own way by convincing people that the world can be different. -- ed felten [behind the iphone frenzy]

no man treats a motor car as foolishly as he treats another human being. -- bertrand russell [has religion made useful contributions to civilization?]

release early, release often, repent! -- me

do not eat or open desiccant
do not consume if having certain allergy -- san feng yuan peanut package warning

the frenchwoman has become americanized; she speaks seriously about serious matters, she takes life seriously, she rides on the rigid saddle of modern manners, dresses poorly, tastelessly, and wears corsets of galvanized tin which can resist most powerful pressures. -- jules verne [paris in the twentieth century]

turn off everything. patrol your house to pull the plugs on the tv, the radio, the fax, the e-mail-transmitting computer and its ingrown internet. go sit on your porch with a glass of vodka lemonade, a pad and pencil, and truly think. -- ray bradbury [bradbury speaks]


from the nose of the buddha

john scalzi's utterly useless writing advice is actually pretty good advice.

ursula leguin on serious literature and on a sad critic named ruth franklin.

new scientist environment: climate change: a guide for the perplexed. [a pointer i need to send to at least one canadian right-wing rag in denial.]

council of europe's report on dangers of creationism in education, june 2007.

song of hakawatha

duncan sinclair kindly preserved f.x. reid's very funny spoof of hiawatha, song of hakawatha:
Type the login and the password -
Found the system even slower
Even slower than the first time
(Just as though some evil spirit
Had reprogrammed all of UNIX
In the language LISP or OCCAM -
Which among the cognosenti
Are not fames for running quickly
Rather for their ponderous slowness
Like a third year CS student
Trying to make out a theorem
Such as that of Church and Rosser).


name dropping: peter's flame

this year's usenix flame award was given to my friend peter honeyman.
Peter's often highly unconventional stewardship of the countless students, researchers, and advisees he has touched is the stuff of graduate student legend. His penetratingly insightful (and potentially hazardous) questions and comments, combined with a paradoxically unflinching loyalty, consistently have led those under his tutelage to the pinnacle of achievement in security, systems, and networking.

congratulations peter!

council of ex-muslims in britain

council of ex-muslims in britain launched. here is the manifesto of the council, and a specific paragraph i must quote...
Those of us who have come forward with our names and photographs represent countless others who are unable or unwilling to do so because of the threats faced by those considered 'apostates' - punishable by death in countries under Islamic law.


mercurial next version

happy to see mercurial 0.9.4 is now available
  • support for symlinks
  • improved tag handling
  • improved merge handling of file and directory renames
  • improved named branch usability
  • numerous improvements to commands
  • generic pre- and post-command hooks
  • improved Windows support
  • basic BeOS and OpenVMS support
  • numerous bug fixes
[now nearly a year into using mercurial. all my previously cvs/bk/svn/etc kept repositories have been converted.]

related reading: mercurial book in progress


recently noted quotes

lisp: no description provided -- freebsd package install

if there is one lesson that i have learned well along the way, it is simply this: the place to live is in the here and now. -- freeman patterson

obscurantism in an academic subject expands to fill the vacuum of its intrinsic simplicity. -- Dawkins’s Law of the Conservation of Difficulty

If I see another compact camera where the down-key on a Direction pad brings up a Focus menu so that you can get to the Close-up focus mode, I think I’ll puke. -- thom hogan [thom's compact challenge]

i like dull. it lasts. -- glod glodsson [soul music]

why program by hand in five days what you can spend five years of your life automating? -- terence parr's motto

we have met our alien overlords, and they are us. -- cosma shalizi

it had a tossed-in-the-air-fruitcake quality ... -- owen gleiberman [on dead man's chest]

best rodent ever...

it is hard to write anything about ratatouille without turning into an gushing, adjective-filled cliche machine. it is one of the finest pieces in the history of animated story telling [that i have ever seen] would just about do it. it is truly a historic moment for disney and pixar: a new rodent is in the house.

at the end of the movie, adults and kids were standing up and clapping...


pencil marks

inimitable cosma shalizi, in different voices and those voices again
Q: So the analogy suggests that IQ scores are...?
A: A proxy for the skills and habits encouraged by a bureaucratic society; skills and habits which can be at once highly heritable (because of strong transmission through family and neighbors) and highly learned (within the scope of what it is biologically possible for humans to learn and internalize). Innate ability needn't enter into it at all. The implications for democracy would be nearly nil.

rolling stone, record industry's decline (part 1)
While there are factors outside of the labels' control -- from the rise of the Internet to the popularity of video games and DVDs -- many in the industry see the last seven years as a series of botched opportunities. And among the biggest, they say, was the labels' failure to address online piracy at the beginning by making peace with the first file-sharing service, Napster.

mark danner, a study in the rhetoric of george w. bush
What we can say is that if torture today remains a “scandal,” a “crisis,” it is a crisis in that same peculiar way that crime or AIDS or global warming are crises: that is, they are all things we have learned to live with.


notes found in a recycling bin

recycled the text of the very, very strange larry wall talk titled perl, the first postmodern computer language, but not before reading the crunchy bits one last time. this quote seemed to jump at me:
recall that the essence of modernism is to take one cool idea and drive it into the ground.

reflecting on this in light of the once and future perl, it dawns on me that the essence of post/perl-modernism is to take many ideas, cool or not, and drive all of them into the ground, until a colorless puddle is formed.

recycled assorted past versions of suse documentation and media. once a favored now fading distro: so unwelcomed, so embarrassing. [my one machine that ran suse [briefly] is now running debian etch, and will soon run freebsd.]

o'reilly's cvs book. (poof!) i have no idea what this was doing on my bookshelf. it looks like i actually paid for it, which is sad.

recycled a b/w printout of a paul haeberli page on paper folding. this is from a very interesting [but now decade-old] graphics notebook called graphica obscura that used to be at sgi.com somewhere. it disappeared briefly and now re-appeared in its own site.

hmm, there goes some java program listings from my previous job. ah, here is the code i wrote to do [relatively trivial] application configuration using xml. [yep, some think this is a really good idea. i hated, hated, hated it.] i guess this needs to be shredded to tiny little pieces. this incidentally reminds me of a good essay by terence parr, titled humans should not have to grok XML.