Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Guido speaks on his Noogle project

and still has a cold.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

wierd Canada bug at

OK, so KFC has this wierd performance art^H^H^H ad going, and it got some attention on Slashdot. I personally am not a fan of KFC, and regard it as contesting Long John Silver's for the most dubious fast food chain in America. On the other hand, I got a glimpse of the real Colonel Sanders in Colonel Sanders regalia at O'Hare once, and he seemed an interesting sort, so I have a soft spot for the logo.

Our story begins as I follow the link from the splash page of to the "store locator" and notice that while the state pulldown includes Canadian provinces, there is a prominent accompanying warning: "(Note - Canadian address searches will reflect closest U.S. location.) "

Aargh. Way to irritate your Canadian audience guys!

Exhibit A: nearest KFC to Cote St Luc, Island of Montreal, Quebec

Of course, I immediately entered my childhood address.

See exhibit A for the Mapquest instructions it returned. At first it looked OK, an east-west border running across the frame, but wait, surely Lake Champlain would appear on that scale? No, wait, that border is the border between Kansas and Nebraska. And it says I am forty odd miles from the nearest KFC, which, it turns out, is in North-Central Kansas. Well, if that is the closest KFC to Montreal, you guys shouldn't be spending all that money on logos visible from space, huh?

Exhibit B: driving directions to KFC from Cote St Luc, Quebec

So, I asked for driving directions. It turns out that my childhood home is not on the island of Montreal as I somehow recollected. Shades of Total Recall! I am not Canadian at all! I am from the intersection of Road 26 and Road D near Stockton KS. See exhibit B.

Exhibits C and D compare my recollected home and my true origins as revealed to me by Kentucky Fried Chicken's all-seeing de-Canadianizer.

Exhibit C: Cote St Luc as I remembered it

Exhibit D: Cote St Luc as KFC reveals its true nature

It's a wierd, incomprehensible bug. Seriously, though, it's not just a hard-to-explain error, it's as wierd as the fact that people eat that , err, stuff, anyway. Don't you think KFC could afford the programming talent to, uh, remove the provinces from the state pulldown in the HTML form?

Exhibit E: An error a 9th grader wouldn't make on a Fortune 500 website


Monday, October 09, 2006

David Mamet on Winning through Lying

"Law, politics and commerce are based on lies. That is, the premises giving rise to opposition are real, but the debate occurs not between these premises but between their proxy, substitute positions. The two parties to a legal dispute (as the opponents in an election) each select an essentially absurd position. "I did not kill my wife and Ron Goldman," "A rising tide raises all boats," "Tobacco does not cause cancer." Should one be able to support this position, such that it prevails over the nonsense of his opponent, he is awarded the decision. ...

"In these fibbing competitions, the party actually wronged, the party with an actual practicable program, or possessing an actually beneficial product, is at a severe disadvantage; he is stuck with a position he cannot abandon, and, thus, cannot engage his talents for elaboration, distraction, drama and subterfuge."

David Mamet in "Bambi vs Godzilla: Why art loses in Hollywood", Harper's, June 2005.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Happiness Runs

Happiness runs in a circular motion

That is like a little boat upon the sea

This melody is employed on television these days in the service of the proposition that fruit flavored Cheerios are better than Froot Loops. I find this more than a little disconcerting.

It appears that Donovan is still alive.

I don't know whether that's encouraging or discouraging.

I realize this isn't great art that's being desecrated here, but come on. Is this what we've sunk to?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

You only live once

so there's no learning.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

the level playing field revisited


Professor Tobis I will not be in class tomorrow, Wed the 21st because I just started my job at target. They scheduled me to work for toworrow afternoon to take their cashier's class. Because I am new I can not call off but I informed my supervisor today that I can not be scheduled for Mon or Wed next week because I have class, so they have to change my schedule. Apparently certain supervisors give the classes certain days and so I can not ask them to schedule a private session for myself. I realize tomorrow is the quiz and was hoping to be able to reschedule. Although missing class is for a personal reason I need the job to finish paying my bill to Loyola for this class. I am sorry for this inconveinence. Please let me know if I can reschedule my quiz time. I can come in early next Monday. I appreciate your patience with my schedule as I realize other students and yourself are also working hard to attend class. Again I am sorry but I have no choice, I need this job to pay for school.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

"un peu"

is this meant as encouragement or dicouragement?

verso: "tous mes respects -- J. N."

Addressed to a Mmle. M. Maitre, with austrian postage, Dec 12 1904.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Another observation from the youthful me ca 1978

All wars are civil wars.

The Future as seen from 1978

Digging through my memorabilia, I found this essay by me, from about 1978. It wasn't entirely serious, but it seems to be working out alarmingly well anyway...


The future? I'm glad you asked.

It goes something like this; the enormous creativity of Western youth that was spawned by rebellion against the Establishment will continue to decline as society continues to adopt their philosophies, leaving them less and less to rebel against. The majority of our generation will continue to rant and rave about strip mining, pollution, and Madison Avenue propaganda, and will continue to use air conditioners, drive fast cars, and watch TV.

Only a very few will abandon technology and move to primitive farming co-ops, there to confidently await the demise of technological civilization, for which only they will be prepared.

Many will think it's happening when they can't afford cars anymore. Since an empty garage is a sad sight, I suggest (provided you have a good air conditioner) you purchase an IBM 370 computer, which will probably be available at bargain-basement prices, some local gradeschool having scrimped for years on library books so it could replace the thing with a 470.

Pretty soon, like 99% of the human population, you'll be spending all your time playing games with your giant computer and your giant TV screen. The remaining 1% of the population will be on the farm, patiently expecting the demise of technological civilization, for which only they will be prepared.

They will be disappointed to discover that the demise is not forthcoming. Limiting equations to world economic and population growth are based on the limited resources of the planet. However, the resources of the galaxies are not limited. Energy and materials imported from space will prevent the world from turning into a vast Calcutta. Instead, we will be subjected to the lesser evil of a vast, world-spanning New Jersey.

Meanwhile, genetic engineering will be creating more efficient forms of humanity. The beings thus created will be hard-working, effective, very healthy, and insusceptible to stress. They will consider themselves superior to is although they will have no intuition and little imagination.

Eventually theu will decide that homo sapiens are an impediment to the progress of life, and will eliminate us. While various superhuman species will spread out into the stars, genetic engineering will reach its ultimate peak here on earth, which will eventually be inhabited ny a single giant brain (with direct memory access capabilities) and a lot of robot tended farms growing a single crop remotely descended from the turnip.

What remains of humanity will be lovingly raised on a game preserve on one of the moons of Jupiter, built by superior beings as an exact replica of the ancient Fontainebleu Hotel in Miami Beach.

Friday, April 07, 2006

in short words


When The Saints Go Marching In - Louis Armstrong version

We are traveling in the footsteps
Of those who've gone before
But we'll all be reunited (but if we stand reunited)
On a new and sunlit shore (then a new world is in store)

Oh when the saints go marching in
When the saints go marching in
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

And when the sun refuse (begins) to shine
And when the sun refuse (begins) to shine
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

When the moon turns red with blood
When the moon turns red with blood
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

On that hallelujah day
On that hallelujah day
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

Oh when the trumpet sounds the call
Oh when the trumpet sounds the call
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

Some say this world of trouble
Is the only one we need
But I'm waiting for that morning
When the new world is revealed

When the revelation (revolution) comes
When the revelation (revolution) comes
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

When the rich go out and work
When the rich go out and work
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

When the air is pure and clean
When the air is pure and clean
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

When we all have food to eat
When we all have food to eat
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

When our leaders learn to cry
When our leaders learn to cry
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

found on dkos

I have a wonderful machine... (8+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
mtobis, sj, RFK Lives, roses, Mike Erwin, Alexander G Rubio, metacin, qrswave
It does nothing, but it looks good doing it. Cool, huh?

What the NYT article is saying in effect is that the purpose of an economy is to grow on paper, regardless of whether it actually produces anything of value for actual humans.

That would be a Terri Schiavo Economy: It's braindead but it's still breathing, so it must be alive, right?

First of all, start with the fact that infinite growth is simply not possible on a finite planet: an infinity cannot be a subset of an integer, period. There is no way around this one, and we are finding out now (peak oil, climate change, potable water shortages) what happens when we run into the limits of finitude.

Second, the idea that production for human use is "merely political" and somehow irrelevant to the economics, is absurd. An economy is a tool, and a tool is only as good as what you build with it. A market is a mechanism for distributing goods among humans, not an isolated system like a piece of clockwork under a bell jar.

Any fool can design a theoretical system that performs well as long as it is never called upon to do anything useful.

Here's the question you can keep on asking, which reveals the absurdity (not to mention the moral bankruptcy) of the arguement put forward in the NYT article: What is an economy for? What is the purpose of having an economy in the first place? That is, why have an economy, rather than having something else, perhaps a poodle or a bad cold? Why do we even want to have an economy, instead of having a day off or having good sex? The obvious answer is, to produce and distribute goods and services to humans, not to go ticking away like meaningless clockwork under its bell jar for the amusement of its makers. And once you go there, the whole premise of the NYT article falls flat on its face.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Entitled to your own opinion, but...

[Posted to Slashdot today]

While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, nobody is entitled to their own facts. (I need an atribution for that; it isn't original.)

Muddling the population's grasp of the facts is not hard, as there is too much going on for us all to be an expert on everything. It nevertheless is cheating. There is much organized cheating going on, intended to confuse the population. The effects of this cheating are visible in any online conversation where science impinges on policy, and slashdot is hardly immune.

Whether or not human activity is substantially changing climate, for instance, is not a speculative matter. Its truth or falsehood is established science. Nevertheless there is organized activity to convince you of the plausibility of impossible propositions.

Splitting the difference is not as reasonable as it might appear, as the side which is lying is totally unconstrained by facts.

Any debate on whether humanity is substantially changing climate constitutes a failure of the society to use the information it has, of the scientific community to convey it, and of the special interests to restrain vicious antisocial activity on the part of some of its key members.

I do not specify which side is lying on this matter. It won't be hard for you to track down my opinion, but that's beside the point I'm making here. The point is that we are debating facts and not values or policies, which means that democracy is not functioning effectively.

This is occurring in the context of a number of similar failures to come to grips with reality in the absurd noise that passes for public discourse in America, and the irresponsible power games that pass for politics. Climate change probably isn't the most harmful case, yet, though it's competitive...