December 21st, 2010
However, I have a gut feeling that the reason we're so communicative is that we are, at a very fundamental level, a communication phenomenon: that is, our actual sense of conscious identity emerges from the internal use of our language faculty to bind together our stream of cognition and create an internal narrative. Internally, language allows us to codify our memories and provides us with a toolkit for symbolic manipulation — it's a very important component of the "theory of mind" which allows us to anticipate the behaviour and internal thoughts of others. And it also extends our awareness beyond the reach of our own sensory organs by allowing us to use others as proxies.
Language is a multi-function tool: it's not just a dessert topping, it's a floor wax too.
— Charlie Stross
March 9th, 2010
|01:58 am - A weekend, longish.|
This weekend it rained a lot so I stayed inside.
A friend sent me an Alien Autopsy kit.
I shot a dragon in my kitchen.
Current Mood: surrealist
November 21st, 2009
|07:46 pm - Textiles of Arachnophobia|
Now at the American Museum of Natural History a tapestry that took 4 years and a million spiders to produce.
"The spiders are harnessed ... held down in a delicate way," Godley says, "so you need people to do this who are very tactile so the spiders are not harmed. So there's a chain of about 80 people who go out every morning at four o'clock, collect spiders, we get them in by 10 o'clock. They're in boxes, they're numbered, and then as they get silked, about 20 minutes later, they get released back into nature."
NPR Story via kottke
Current Mood: curious
March 25th, 2009
|03:46 pm - Mostly for skatey ...|
but also for all of the amazing women I know doing awesome work in cogsci or neuro or creating memory for other people ...
“You know what I think?” she says. “That people’s memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive. Whether those memories have any actual importance or not, it doesn’t matter as far as the maintenance of life is concerned. They’re all just fuel. Advertising fillers in the newspaper, philosophy books, dirty pictures in a magazine, a bundle of ten-thousand-yen bills: when you feed ’em to the fire, they’re all just paper. The fire isn't thinking, ‘Oh, this is Kant,’ or ‘Oh, this is the Yomiyuri evening edition,’ or ‘Nice tits,’ while it burns. To the fire, they’re nothing but scraps of paper. It’s the exact same thing. Important memories, not-so-important memories, totally useless memories: there's no distinction--they’re all just fuel.”
(After Dark, Haruki Murakami)
March 3rd, 2009
February 16th, 2009
The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whosoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed.
-- Albert Einstein
Current Mood: loved
February 3rd, 2009
|09:00 am - ...isms|
Airlines redefine disruptive behaviour as terrorism.
In todays Los Angeles Times, there's an article about the abuse of the Patriot Act. There have been 200 odd convictions, often just for behaviour involving raised voices and swearing. Flight personnel have very broad discretion and no clear standard on what is considered "attempt or conspiracy to interfere with a flight crew".
This is a felony offence under the act. Hands up who is surprised that this is being misused?
More importantly, apparently a couple involved in a hot'n'sweaty holiday pash are also a threat to public safety.
In one case, a couple was arrested after an argument with a flight attendant, who claimed the couple was engaged in "overt sexual activity"—an FBI affidavit said the two were "embracing, kissing and acting in a manner that made other passengers uncomfortable."
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give to you ...
Barry White voice
I wonder if their dark sordid network of intimacy and affection includes Unitarian Jihad
In other acts of evil: transcendancing broke me *completely* last night.
In the middle of a conversation about the Random Metaphor Generator(tm), random silliness and
mynxii: I was going to say something about Postmodernism, but I've forgotten what the context was
me: *brain seizes*
me: *collapses into fits of giggles*
me: You know how it is when you laugh so hard that soft drink shoots out your nose?
me: Specifically, the sensation of bubbles in your nasal passages? I'm having that right now, only without drinking anything
mynxii: *raucous laughter*
me: Congratulations, you've invented the Postmodernist nose splurt
e_dan, you have my deepest sympathy and compassion
January 28th, 2009
|11:23 am - Today in WTF news ...|
David Attenborough gets hate mail from fundies?
Sir David Attenborough has revealed that he receives hate mail from viewers for failing to credit God in his documentaries. In an interview with this week's Radio Times about his latest documentary, on Charles Darwin and natural selection, the broadcaster said: "They tell me to burn in hell and good riddance."
Being as British as he is, rather than just directing it to the bitbucket, he responds with style ...
Telling the magazine that he was asked why he did not give "credit" to God, Attenborough added: "They always mean beautiful things like hummingbirds. I always reply by saying that I think of a little child in east Africa with a worm burrowing through his eyeball. The worm cannot live in any other way, except by burrowing through eyeballs. I find that hard to reconcile with the notion of a divine and benevolent creator."
One wonders, if like spam; this is merely the price we pay for the multitude of awesomeness that is the Internet. Still, David Attenborough? Hate Mail? What is wrong with these people?
Current Mood: annoyed
January 6th, 2009
|03:34 pm - Fuel miles and eco-protectionism|
People who automatically equate purchasing domestically produced with environmentally friendly make me angry. Partially because it commingles something I love about progressive politics (Environmentalism) with something I detest (Protectionism, tariffs, anti-trade).
Not only because it has no basis in fact, but because doing so is choosing to do harm to the developing world. For large parts of the developing world, the only thing they have to trade (that you can directly purchase) is surplus agricultural output. Without trade, they are effectively stuck in a poverty trap. Buy your dried lentils from Africa, end World Hunger ;-)
So lets do some science!
Obviously my numbers are very rough, better sources are welcome. I've compared fuel costs/quantities, because I had even less luck searching for the relative carbon cost of burning a litre of diesel vs avgas vs bunker 380 (container ship fuel).
International fuel miles is only an issue for air freight. Container ships and bulk transportation are an order of magnitude more efficient than internal road freight networks.
Rough back of drink coaster calculation:
Fuel cost to transport a shipping container from SE Asia ~ $200
Mass of shipping container payload = 20 tons
Weight of a 'standard' a4 copy paper box = 5kg
That works out to 4000 boxes of copy paper in a container, or 5c worth of fuel used to transport it internationally. I don't know of anybody who can get a box of copy paper from OfficeWorks to their workplace for less than 5c worth of fuel.
Note also that $200 of fuel is moving you 4,000km by sea, and likely only 500km on land for an entire container load. the more you fragment it, the more horrible the effiency.
Obviously air freight (out of season produce being the major offender) is completely horrific. A 747 configured for freight operations can carry 5.5 containers worth and will consume 150,000 litres of AvGas to do the same trip as our container ship, or 27,000 per container. Ouch.
So, rice grown domestically (say in Leighton, aka SunRice) not only consumes extremely precious water resources, but also requires as much fuel to transport as rice grown in South East Asia. Additionally, by choosing domestically grown rice (and going on about food miles in the process) you perpetuate the imbalance in the developing world, by denying them an opportunity to trade their way out of poverty.
 http://heartsofthegods.blogspot.com/2006/07/follow-up-container-ship-fuel.html [rounded up]
 Guesstimate from walking to the copyroom :)
 Assuming $1 per litre for diesel, and 3km per litre (~ 7mpg); all very optimistic
 If you disagree with trade being the antidote to poverty, please explain where the money to build the infrastructure and wealth in the developing world will come from. Theories that don't involve money tree fairies preferred.
Current Mood: ranty
November 27th, 2008
|03:35 pm - It's good to have career options ...|
So, after getting back from three weeks in China, it turns out my housesitter couldn't find the keys that I'd loaned them while I was away. No problem, just grab the spare keys and use them until the other set turns up, right?
Until, in my still jetlagged state, I lock myself out of the apartment at 8pm. Ouch.
So I wander off and get some dinner and come back. I look up at the (fortunately open) slit bathroom window. It's only 20 feet off the ground, above a solid concrete carpark? I tell myself that that's insane. It's either that or call a locksmith or sleep on the lawn.
It's nice to know, if High Performance Computing doesn't pan out, that I could cut it as an entry level cat burglar. I hear the uniform is pretty snappy too.
Current Mood: surprised
September 29th, 2008
September 26th, 2008
|10:25 am - The McCain/Palin Clown Car Circus|
So, why would John McCain, an experienced political hack, suspend his campaign?
He knows just how bad it will look: oops, crisis. Nope, can't multitask here.
The whole rushing to Congress to assist in the Bailout legislation smelt like a political stunt.
The absolute pasting he got from Letterman -- who he bailed on in order to 'Rush to Washington' was only to be expected (so worth watching, even if you can't stand Letterman).
So Why. What was he thinking?
Spin Control. What can I possibly do that is going to take over the airwaves?
Because Sarah Palin had, that morning, given the most disastrous interview imaginable.
Couric grills Palin on the economic clusterfuck, and that John McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis, used to be a lobbyist for Freddy Mac and Fannie Mae; two quasi-government mortage lenders that were bailed out earlier this year and were (wrongly) blaimed by Bush as precipitating the crisis.
PALIN: My understanding is, Rick Davis ... recused himself from the dealings in that firm ... I don't know how long ago ... a year, two ago ... and that he's not benefitting from that ... y'know I would hope that that's the case.
But the Money Quote:
COURIC: But he's been in Congress for 26 years. He's been chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee. And he has almost always sided with less regulation, not more.
PALIN: He's also known as the maverick, though. Taking shots from his own party, and certainly taking shots from the other party. Trying to get people to understand what he's been talking about — the need to reform government.
COURIC: I'm just going to ask you one more time, not to belabor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation?
PALIN: I'll try to find you some, and I'll bring them to you.
No wonder they've been doing everything to keep her away from the media, if that's what she's like.
Hat tip: The Anonymous Liberal via Brad DeLong
May 4th, 2008
|09:54 am - [LJ2ME (http://www.xfyre.com/sw/lj2me.html)] Neil Gaiman, paraphrased.|
Sturgeon's Law says that 90% of everything is crap ... but you can grow some pretty amazing things in crap.
Current Mood: sunday morning, no coffee
April 7th, 2008
|09:58 am - [LJ2ME (http://www.xfyre.com/sw/lj2me.html)]|
Waiting for the train in the morning sun
Ravens frolick on the platform
Sparrows hide in the rafters
April 4th, 2008
|11:02 am - Security is hard, lets go shopping.|
The papers in Melbourne this week are a buzzing with the departure of Victoria's highest paid public servant.
But Vivian Miners, who was paid over $500K p.a. to manage the Transport Ticketing Authority, and oversaw the extremely controversial $1 billion myki smart card ticketing replacement tender (now three years late) may have come unstuck for other reasons.
Why is the introduction of this system still years away when contact readers are being rolled out to train stations already? Because the system as designed has already been cracked wide open.
The myki system is being implemented by a consortium named Kamco. The partner responsible for the contactless smartcards, or RFID tokens is Giesecke & Devrient Australasia. The vendor that supplies these cards is Phillips/NXP and the cards are called MIFARE. And MIFARE has been cracked wide open.
How open is open? How about "Dutch $2B Transit card hacked before it's deployed" or "London Tube Smartcard Cracked"? We've seen this story before. System is selected based on proprietary vendor cryptography (CRYPTO1) because it's less expensive than standards based crypto (Philips/NXP MIFARE has both Triple DES and AES based products but at 3 times the cost). Proprietary crypto is shown have more holes than swiss cheese.
So if it's a choice between deploying a system that is trivial to defraud because you chose the cheaper but less secure option, and falling on your sword, it's not that hard a choice.
The market for security is still the poster child for the "Market for Lemons"
Current Mood: sore
March 19th, 2008
|02:33 pm - My god ... it's full of stars|
Farewell Arthur C. Clarke, 1917-2008
Current Mood: geosynchronous
February 26th, 2008
|12:54 am - So You Think You Can Dance - real life surrealist version|
So there's me, waiting at the tram stop on the corner of Bourke and Swanston, belly full of dumplings and a head full of music, both from Sydney Rd festival and a Laneway festival gig at Section 8.
I'm wondering just how long I have until the 86 turns up when I notice something happening in the arcade on the other side of Bourke St.
Conscious of today being a 20 year anniversary for a Certain Person (tm) as well as the fashion for all things '80s, but breakdancing?
I'd just been out photographing, so I wander over and ask if they mind me shooting their moves -
Justin and his merry crew of troubadours were willing performers for the camera.
It didn't sink in until about 20 minutes later ... when a particularly familiar track came on.
"What's the CD you're dancing to?"
"Whatever ... umm, Studio Ghibli soundtracks. You know, movie about a witch?"
As it turns out, it was the previous track that I'd noticed, not Kiki's Delivery Service.
So there you have it. Late night breakdance to the theme from My Neighbour Totoro.
Have I mentioned how much I love this city?
Oh, newfound respect for anybody shooting dancers or night-time sports. Fast movement + sfa available light is a whole new set of hard to master. Might be time to find a skate park to haunt.
Current Mood: creative
Current Music: 塚森の大樹 (The Huge Tree in the Tsukamori Forest) - My Neighbour Totoro
February 4th, 2008
February 1st, 2008
January 29th, 2008
|02:26 pm - seen at linux conf.|
conference full of linuxgeeks +
public bsod =