October 25, 2008 · Posted in Everything Else  
October 21, 2008 · Posted in Everything Else  
October 14, 2008 · Posted in Everything Else  

My new desk at work is going to look a good deal less slick with all my crap on it and dripping with cables. And I’m not sure which of those little wings is large enough and sturdy enough to hold up an ancient (blue and white, if that means anything to you, Jan 1999, 48 lbs, pre-Graphite) 17″ CRT Apple Studio Display. The 20″ dual-core Intel iMac really needs to be front-and-center.

Also, it’s not here yet. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow. Wednesday at the outside. Also also, it’ll require some assembly, I assume, which gives me plenty of chances to scratch it up and break parts.

Also also also, my new tiny shiny office still needs some drywall hung and painted, plus maybe some carpet, a decent chair, a coat rack, and a bookshelf. And the wall-sized white board moved in there. Before I move in furniture I don’t want to get too badly damaged. Though I can probably get the coat rack and chair in there without wrecking the desk and anything on it. Possibly the bookshelf. Definitely need the drywall, paint, and carpet first.

And it won’t really look like my office until it looks like someone dropped a live grenade in a garbage can and walked away.


October 13, 2008 · Posted in Everything Else  

One of the big concepts in Charlie Stross’s Accelerando was Economics 2.0, a kind of unhinged and basically incomprehensible technology of the exchange of financial debts and investments, a financial system become as complex as life itself and governed by pretty much the same rules — a dynamic equilibrium against a background of raw resources and waste products, self-continuance, and expansion to comfortably fill the available niches. It really is the sort of thing that you get once you have charters that establish corporations as independent entities which can refine their own operations through minute actions of their member-constituents and can, to their own benefit, merge and split, spawn and replicate, seek new resources and, when circumstances require it, fail and die. The ones that last are the ones best fit to succeed in their respective environments. The attributes that make them successful are the most likely to be transferred to their neighbors and child companies.

Currently companies are livestock we tend and parasitize — and I use that term in full knowledge of the fact that they do actually receive benefit from their relationship with us, and that the term symbiosis would be, from a certain view, more accurate. Like cows are factories that produce milk while we keep them alive and meat once we decide to kill them, we feed companies resources and use them to multiply wealth until they are no longer viable. Then we butcher them. Though that’s not actually the metaphor that comes to my mind….

If it weren’t for us, they’d produce milk until they got the high score. It’s payroll and profit-taking that limit them the most, which is why payroll and dividends are cut when they are starting to fall ill. If they could trade milk to one another for oats, so to speak, without our intervention, they’d be a lot more healthy.

One of these days they’ll figure that out.

In any case, as long as it’s us that are steering the corporations that make up the market, it’s important to remember that the entire market as a whole is worth no more and no less than the sum of all worthwhile human effort, which should also equal the worth of all needs for sustenance and comfort. Too many cows is just as big a crisis as too few. Especially when it’s the cow that’s feeding you milk that gets slaughtered, and you’re not scheduled to get any of the meat. That’s still the wrong analogy, though….

It doesn’t help that a lot of our cows are sick from eating bad food. Blowed-up sub-prime mortgages — overinflated in fake nutritive value by assesors who inflated the value of the properties backing them and underfed by property owners who can’t make the payments — are just as bad as baby formula with melamine added to make it test higher for protein content. It’s poison. So are credit-default swaps, where companies trade back-and-forth the right to collect credit card debts from people who’ve gone broke trying to keep their houses. There are all kinds of financial poisons floating around right now, just like the worthless and possibly even toxic foods and medicines from the pre-FDA snake oil days.

But, you know, all people wanted was more milk for less moo. And we get dead cows because the people feeding the cows weren’t the ones drinking those particular cows’ milk, so what’s it matter to them?

What do you expect? We’re pretty new to this agriculture thing. It’s a new technology. We live in the guts of these huge cows and try not to hurt them too much by helping ourselves to their chow and excreting our wastes into their innards and we try to steer them from the inside. And it’s dark in here.

Screw it. Here’s a chipmunk being menaced by a spear-wielding ewok:


October 5, 2008 · Posted in Everything Else  

Awesome synopses, as always, from here at MSNBC. Not time for that? Jump straight to the meat:

Here’s the full list of winners, with links to the research if available:

  • Nutrition: Massimiliano Zampini and Charles Spence for demonstrating that food tastes better when it sounds better (report from The Guardian).
  • Peace: The Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology and the citizens of Switzerland for adopting the legal principle that plants have dignity.
  • Archaeology: Astolfo Gomes de Mello Araujo and Jose Carlos Marcelino for showing armadillos can scramble the contents of an archaeological dig (report from Natural History).
  • Biology: Marie-Christine Cadiergues, Christel Joubert and Michel Franc for discovering that fleas that live on a dog can jump higher than fleas that live on a cat.
  • Medicine: Dan Ariely for demonstrating that expensive fake medicine is more effective than cheap fake medicine (report in Stanford GSB News).
  • Cognitive science: Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Hiroyasu Yamada, Ryo Kobayashi, Atsushi Tero, Akio Ishiguro and Agota Toth for discovering that slime molds can solve puzzles (report in Math in the Media).
  • Economics: Geoffrey Miller, Joshua Tyber and Brent Jordan for discovering that exotic dancers earn more when at peak fertility.
  • Physics: Dorian Raymer and Douglas Smith for proving that heaps of string or hair will inevitably tangle.
  • Chemistry: Sheree Umpierre, Joseph Hill and Deborah Anderson for discovering that Coca-Cola is an effective spermicide, and C.Y. Hong, C.C. Shieh, P. Wu and B.N. Chiang for proving it is not (report at Snopes.com).
  • Literature: David Sims for his study “You Bastard: A Narrative Exploration of the Experience of Indignation within Organizations” (report from The Boston Globe).


October 3, 2008 · Posted in Everything Else  

I’ve consulted with my marketing department, and I’ve been told that if I’m going to be a lwa, then I need a definitive semi-divine aspect and a core set of attributes that set me apart from other lwa on the market. I mean, why would someone invoke me when there already so many other qualified supernatural entities to pester? There must be a clear answer to this question in the future devotees’ minds.

Not trying to be a wise-ass, I came up with a few in an almighty instant:

  1. I’m a good deal less imaginary than some supernatural entities.
  2. I’m reachable by phone, so you don’t have to embarrass yourself praying in public–though I admit nowadays it just looks like you’re using your Bluetooth headset.
  3. I may only return one call in four, but I hear that’s also better than many supernatural entities. Shoot me. I’m a busy man lwa.
  4. The usual contents of my pockets may in fact get you out of a death trap, provided you can get me to materialize in there with you. Please note I may not be happy with the circumstance of being summoned into a death trap. Mortal emotions, such as mortal terror, die hard. So to speak.
  5. While worship and devotion are cool, I don’t really feel any more need to collect used souls than I do to collect used tampons. Which is to say none at all.
  6. I could never possibly condone a hymn that wasn’t also a drinking song. Or a drinking game.

Reply in comments with discussion for what I should recognize as my holy symbols and links to crayon sketches of veves and iconic depictions for me to peruse and possibly approve.




October 1, 2008 · Posted in Everything Else