Sunday, December 24, 2006 Build Your Own Laser, Phaser, Ion Ray Gun and Other Working Space Age Projects: Books: Robert E. Iannini,Robert Iannini

I almost killed myself when I was a teen with this book. My finding it at the local library is the source of my undying admiration for Andrew Carnegie, who used his vast wealth to setup 2,500 libraries, and arguably is responsible for the existence of the modern library in america in it's present form.

Many of the things we take for granted in libraries, like the shelves of books being open to walk down and select by yourself (rather than asking a librarian to find something for you) and the ease of registering (rather than membership being restricted to some specific persons(students, guild members)), originated with the Carnegie plan libraries, and through sheer mass and expectation, many other library patrons and systems that may have been disinclined otherwise, followed suit and opened their stacks and their membership.

Carnegie opened libraries in every state except for Alaska, Delaware, and Rhode Island.

He also aspired to literary ambitions, both during and after his business careers. The only book he wrote that achieved any lasting fame was his "The Gospel of Wealth", in which he wrote about the great responsibility that being rich gave, as he was philosophically opposed to either 'lazy spending' giving millions in blanket or inefficient structures or for luxury goods. He wrote about the dangers of inherited wealth, and the possibility of a new generation of autocrats who ruled through great wealth that they did not earn.

A very interesting set of ideas, I thought.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

xkcd - A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language - By Randall Munroe

I have always loved Jeremy Irons. His voice is fantastic. In fact, for a while I fooled myself into thinking I wanted to see Eragon, just because the first trailer I saw was narrated by him. But really it looks like a terrible movie.

as Jeph Jacques said: "Wasn't Jeremy Irons also in the Dungeons & Dragons movie? What's the deal, Jeremy Irons?
He won his Oscar, now he's just fuckin' around. It's like winning the World Series and then joining the Cubs!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Witch House Salem, Massachusetts

One of my famous ancestors, Judge Johnathan Corwin, owned this house for forty years. It's the only standing structure that was involved in the infamous Salem Witch Trials, which sent 19 to the gallows.

It's kind of too bad it's called "The Witch House", It was Judge Corwin's private home, not a haunted mansion or something. I suppose he didn't do enough else to be famous on his own.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Maya calendar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

I have occasionally facetiously suggested Dec 21, 2012 as the date of the singularity, for artistic and mythological reasons. Here's an interesting snippet from Wikipedia, explaining that the Long Count calendar actually is much much longer than previously suspected, via evidence from Palenque (an important mayan archeological site).

"The end of the 13th b'ak'tun is conjectured to have been of great significance to the Maya, but does not necessarily mark the end of the world according to their beliefs, but a new beginning or time of re-birth. According to the Popol Vuh, a book compiling details of creation accounts known to the Quiche' Maya of the colonial-era highlands, we are living in the fifth world. The Popol Vuh describes the first four creations that the gods failed in making and the creation of the successful fifth world where men were placed. The Maya believed that the fifth world would end in catastrophe and the sixth and final world would be created that would signal the end of mankind.

The last creation ended on a long count of Another will occur on December 21, 2012, and it has been discussed in many New Age articles and books that this will be the end of this creation, the next pole shift or something else entirely. However, the Maya abbreviated their long counts to just the last five vigesimal places. There were an infinite number of larger units that were usually not shown. When the larger units were shown (notably on a monument from Coba), the end of the last creation is expressed as, where the units are obviously supposed to be 13s twenty places larger than that b'ak'tun. In this age we are only approaching, and the larger places would all need to similarly roll over to 13 again to match the date of the new creation.[6]

This is confirmed by a date from Palenque, which projects forward in time to, which will occur on October 13, 4772 (a Friday). The Classic Period Maya likely did not believe that the end of this age would occur in 2012. According to the Maya, there will be a baktun ending in 2012, a significant event being the end of a 13th 400 year period, but not the end of the world."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Micro Persuasion: Our Sixty Minutes with Bill Gates:

"Q) What would you be looking at today if you were an independent entrepreneur?
A) Something dramatic like artificial intelligence. Biology. Energy."

Yeah, me too.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Some more artistic brilliance. Here someone has taken computer-built, sample driven composition one step further, by videoing himself recording all the sample notes for the intruments, and stitching the video together as the software synthesizer plays his composition, (I assume, it also might have been done by hand, horrifying as that prospect is). It's rather hypnotic, watching it.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

girls on sofas - a photoset on Flickr

I think this is amazing. Visually stunning, varied, light-hearted. Really, a fantastic set of pictures.

'ware, female nudity. NSFW

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Originally uploaded by outlawpoet.
I always thought brainy supervillains should have been more exact in their dialogue.

someone who can build monstrous machines on their own would not use inexact metaphors.

Friday, December 01, 2006 - Self Publishing - Free

Okay, so my dedication to lay aside my novel did not last very long., the Print-On-Demand publishers so many are fond of, are offering a free single copy of any NaNoWriMo novel!!!!

the offer is good until January 16, 2006, which just might be enough time to whip this puppy into shape so I can hold it in my hands.
George Thorogood

Today is George Thorogood day, in honor of the self-indulgent, lazy, destructive, dark things we all have in our souls. (yes, I just made up a holiday).

Today, listen to George and his Destroyers, and think about going to a bar and slowly imploding, listen to his wonderful smoke and alcohol voice, maybe indulge in some mild sin.

Then tomorrow remember that you've got other things to do and return to a brighter universe.

The greeks loved tragedy and death in theatre, because they believed that indulging in such things one step removed from themselves cleansed their souls of some need for it. They left the tragedy in the theatre, and got on with their lives.

It may not work that way, but at least if we make this mistake we're in glorious ancient company.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Comics Curmudgeon: "He knows if you’ve been bad or good, ladies, and right now it looks like you’re pretty bad
November 30th, 2006

You know, suddenly this is the first Funky Winkerbean sequence I’ve unironically enjoyed since I rejoined the new gloomed up version of the strip. I love the musical notes floating in the air — is it stripper music? Is it Christmas music? Is it somehow, wonderfully, both? I love the way that Santa’s thick black belt, such an iconic part of his thoroughly asexual garb, has suddenly been transformed with a vague aura of S&M. But mostly, I love the way that everyone is leering at sexy Santa with naked lust — except for the mother-to-be, who looks on in unalloyed horror, as if only she can see how very, very wrong this is, and she’s thinking, “My God, has everyone else gone insane?”"

Some commentary from my favorite curmudgeon.

Whoa. Just Whoa. I don't read newspapers, not even their comics, but this is too awesome.

Monday, November 27, 2006

National Novel Writing Month - National Novel Writing Month

On my vacation I spent some of my downtime (mostly my airline flights and some time in the middle of the night and such) on my PDA, stitching together the various source documents I've put together over the past month. Rather to my suprise the end result is a lot above the finish line. My wordcount right now is 72364,
well above the 50k required.

My novel is 13 chapters right now, with three appendixes and almost ten pages of endnotes. It's the longest work I have of my writing (the previous record being a nonfiction work that was lost, and then last year's NaNoWriMo, a novel called Prisoner N at about 51k).

On the unfortunate side, the story has a lot of problems, and is probably at least a few months of work from being really readable.

Also, Google Docs turned out to be inadequate to the task. I ran into multiple problems, including formatting, footnote/endnote functionality, multi file problems, and some accessibility problems. I have made numerous suggestions to the Google Docs team, and may be haunting the newsgroup for a while, as it was almost a very useful tool.

I think it was a good exercise to participate, and I'm going to continue working on this novel (unlike Prisoner N, which I never wanted to see again), and it's given me some ideas on my work process as well.

As a side-effect, I've gotten better with the Frogpad, as using the PDA pen-entry was too painful, and it synched up with my wireless keyboard (barely).

The Frogpad is vastly superior to pen entry, and comfortable on the road, but it's still slower and more unreliable than qwerty or dvorak wired keyboards(perhaps I'll get a USB version this christmas).

On the home front, I'm back in the thick of things at work, where we had some interesting visitors, and will be making a hiring decision soon. Heady stuff!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The interview: Robert Pirsig | Review | The Observer

Pirsig is one of my favorite authors, and an important philosopher.

It's a sad interview, for several reasons. It's unlikely Pirsig will write another book, if he's not even going to grant another interview.

Looks like I fell off the horse, I haven't posted in weeks. I'm still in the running for NaNoWriMo, but my notes are scattered across PDA and Computer and paper, so I need to gather those and resubmit. Once it's back together, the final copy will be that link I gave earlier.

I'm going out of town for thanksgiving today, still interviewing and getting applications(craigslist is definitely my first stop for the next opening), and maybe even expanding our office space a lot. Exciting times, my friends.

I'll be back on Sunday. Be smart and safe. Black Friday is coming.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

craigslist: los angeles classifieds for jobs, apartments, personals, for sale, services, community, and events

Wow. I listed one of our positions at the company here, and was immediately flooded with applicants, many of which look good on first inspection.

Looks like a much better response than when we listed with, for those of you who do any hiring in the cities craigslist covers.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Blog | Nora Ephron: My Weekend in Vegas | The Huffington Post

I must admit, I have no idea who Nora Ephron is, but she's my new favorite journalist, just for this piece, which is perfect.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

outlawpoet's Friends

livejournal was down for most of the day on saturday, which was annoying. I like to see what people are doing on the weekend, and their livejournals are often a convenient way to do so.

A good day at work, without the new guy here, I managed to get a new test mostly finished and into the system. Also, I managed to stir up a hornets nest of issues that will probably resolve into either irrelevancy or interesting new tasks by tomorrow.

I managed a respectable 2057 words today, although I started very late and am still behind. I finished the first chapter, and am finally getting into the plot.

The world is so weird that I'm afraid I'm still infodumping a lot(a term limyaell uses) but I try to do it from my character's perspective.

Also, my character, entirely against expectations, ran out and awkwardly started to seduce a confederate, Bond-style. I really did not have any such thing in the outline, but it really made too much sense to avoid. I'm trying to avoid descending into erotic fantasy, but the way things are going, I'm going to have to work out just what kind of mating rituals these magical freaks have.

Friday, November 03, 2006

AMAZINGPW on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Holy crap, that is an awesome pumpkin.

I suppose I'm doing okay on the novel, I got more time on it today, and made back some of the deficit, but I'm still not doing it, in terms of rate. Also, the way I'm going, more than half of my wordcount is going to be footnotes, which is not cool. Maybe I need to exclude those from this document and the wordcounts somehow.

A good day otherwise, the new guy is doing pretty well. The new office setup is getting comfortable.
YouTube - jugband

A slice of childhood for those of you within +-10 years of me.
Flickr: Photos from outlawpoet

Moved my desk into new digs, and added a monitor (inspired by Troy again), pictures on my flickr link above.

I oriented a new employee today, and so I didn't get done with work and clear until late. I've only had time for some editing and outlining on the novel, that leaves me about a thousand words behind plus tomorrow's quota, not good. I've got plenty of material, but I need some time to work it all out onto the page. We'll see how quick I can do the first two chapters now that they're largely solid.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Cambridge Consultants - Four cent inhaler offers real alternative for pandemic vaccination

This is extremely promising, and probably for more 'mainstream' medicine, rather than pandemic vaccination, which promises to be an irregular and politicized affair.

Cheap, safe, and requires little doctor supervision for use. Excellent.

This is my novel's URL, at least for the time being. Having enjoyed using writely in the past, I've decide to use it for NaNoWriMo.

In terms of scheduling, I've simply replaced my leisure time(video games, books, movies, amusing internet videos) with writing. In this way, I won't cut into my work(since I'm one of the few people in the world who actually enjoys and am interested in my job to the point where I'd be disappointed if I was getting less done in it).

In non novel news, I've installed Shadow Plan, at Troy's urging. We'll see if it's organization helps me at all in my work.

I also replaced my venerable Moleskine with a new one, slightly larger, sketchbook style. I quickly modded it with duct tape to hold a pen/pencil on the outside, and have started carrying it in my cargo pocket.

ok. To bed with me. Save, wordcount, sleep.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

National Novel Writing Month - Outlawpoet's Profile

My profile above now contains my novel, and the first preface, which I've just written. I've put a widget on my blogspot main page to show current wordcount, but livejournal seems to want me to pay to do any such thing, so I guess I'll just put the widget in my daily posts. Good luck to other participants.

National Novel Writing Month - My Novel

Fortuitously, I am waiting for crystal to get home for the nightly phone call, and it's after 12, so it's November.

My novel this year is a high fantasy world introduction called "Dosage". It's introducing a fantasy world I've designed in part over the past few years(or at least one part of it).

The title refers to the profession of the primary character we follow, who is that world's equivalent of a pharmacologist(to be polite) or a poisoner.

I have two prefaces, 24 chapters and one appendix to write. My goal is to get at least a first draft of all of it by the end of the month, which will probably take me far above the 50k word finishline, but we'll see how I do. I'm spending my time until crystal gets home getting my word counter up, and my first preface written.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

BarCamp / BarcampLA-2

This looks really interesting. Thanks for Paul Grasshoff bringing this to my attention.

It's a conference where everyone gives a demo. All participants, no spectators. I am heavily in favor of events that require or stimulate total involvement, as it filters the drag that many bystanders can cause. I hate feeling like the only person in the room who wants to do something.

Monday, October 30, 2006

After Life:

Some very interesting worldbuilding in this short sci fi story. Very seamless, if a little mystic. A+.

For non-transhumanists in my audience, this story assumes some scifi concepts, the central conceit is uploading.

Uploading is a sometimes murky concept, but the central thesis is that neuronal activity is computational in nature, we're built of neuronal activity (ie, we are our brains, mostly), so it ought to be possible to do all that computational work on something other than neurons(since all computers are equivalent. see The Church-Turing Thesis).

Once you have the instruction set for a human, and a computer capable of running it (we don't yet, brains are very very expensive), then you can have the virtual equivalent of a person. They will react and behave exactly like a real person (assuming you also simulate them a place to live, or hook them up to a robot body).

So in this story, we explore a future history of the effect of a successful human upload. I enjoyed it a great deal, and I'll probably post some spoiler discussion in a few days.

This is a high bar, I'm glad I'm writing fantasy for my NaNoWriMo and not Egan-esque scifi, because I don't know how I'd avoid pilfering from this, reading it one day before November.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

MAKE: Blog: Periodic table gets a makeover

There is another use of the Spiral Periodic Table presentation, which I mentioned earlier.

I am very supportive of this new format, which makes clearer many of the interrelationships in the periodic table which previously had to be kind of 'written on the side', such as chemical families, and the ugly 'bottom bar' insertion(which was just confusing).

I did like the previous 'spiral periodic table on a galaxy' graphic, but this one is probably more useful and stable. Interesting websites linked at the bottom of the article.

A step forward in science education. Now if we could just stop them from teaching bogus aerodynamic theory and the Bohr model of the atom.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

National Novel Writing Month

I did this last year, and was amused and interested by it. I think I will be participating again this time, with the aim of actually publishing or showing my completed story.

Writing 50000 words in a month is not hard in theory (I have averaged as high as five or six thousand words a night) but the persistence and camraderie involved are very foreign, if helpful to me.

Is anyone else considering this? Have you begun to plot?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Jeff Cooper, 86, Developed Gun Techniques - October 2, 2006 - The New York Sun

Just caught this. Jeff Cooper was one of my personal heroes. He changed a lot about the role and practice of firearms (especially pistolcraft). He wrote a lot about the Second Amendment, and responsibility.

He stressed competence, and encouraged police officers and other armed personell to train and be as effective as possible to save lives.

He's probably also indirectly responsible for a lot in popular culture, the way action movies portray and use guns, the modern resurgence of training and skills being put above natural talent, and other strange and admirable things.

Like John Browning, Col. Cooper will probably have a long and distinguished influence on firearms and military culture after his death.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Only another 5,500 calories to go ...

Interesting article attempting to duplicate the 'turning your diet for the worse' anecdotal tale from "Super Size Me" which confirms my suspicion that Spurlock's reported experience was overinflated, special, or plain fabricated.

A Swedish study group find that converting from fair fitness and normal diets to extreme overeating and poor diet has a smaller effect, and is harder to keep up than you might suspect.

More evidence of differential response to diet and exercise.

Monday, October 09, 2006 Vampire Domestication

I have to hand it to Eliezer, he really can find the oddest things on the internet. Above links to perhaps the most grounded and interesting attempt to rekindle a fantasy monster of the highest order. Click it when you have fifteen minutes and some headphones/speakers.

In other news, I'm back on the scene here in LA. I had a nice time in Salt Lake City, saw my family and girlfriend, and other good things.

My reading backlog is getting extreme and I'll be powering through some of it to get back to a more stable situation.

And the random thought for today is: Gyroscopes. Seriously, how weird are they? Everybody has seen how they do crazy things, but they rarely introspect on how deeply odd the behavior of dynamic objects are compared to the intuitive stable at-rest things we are used to. Simple gyroscopes are easy once you play and see them a bit, but the larger issue (called spinning tops in some papers I have read) of rotating volumes is fiendish in the vectorization of forces.
solid objects with concealed rotating masses inside (called gyrostats) are worse yet, imagine pushing on a box and not knowing whether it would stay stationary, rotate, or simply slide.

I've tried to find good introductory material on the subject, but the best I've found is a very old book called Gyrodynamics by Arnold. In theory, rotating objects obey all the intuitive inertial behavior you would expect, but in practice predicting the behavior of one can be very counter-intuitive. Anybody work with them, or know a book?

Friday, October 06, 2006

In Salt Lake City.

Somehow, every time I leave, I don't have enough time, or things fall apart, or I miss stuff.

I didn't get everything wrapped up before left. I spent most of my useful time at work this morning making sure Josh had enough info for the weekend, and didn't wrap up my stuff. Bad.

And I had such a good day yesterday, solving other people's problems lickety split. Ah well.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

And the ball rolls down.

Originally uploaded by outlawpoet.
So, yesterday I finished this great new test, called "Helper" which simulates this branching cyclic conversation structure. I've been adding and changing and otherwise working on this thing for weeks now, and I've finally got it reliably scoring in automated testing.

So then I turn my attention to this new section of behavior handed in from one of my coworkers, John, which I work on, and realize that it completely breaks the old helper behavior. like completely, can't even have the two in the same room together.

I guess my next task is to get the two to play nice, at which point something else will occur.....
MetaViewSoft - PalmPDF

Finally! a program that lets me view giant PDFs on my palm TX. I had been languishing, because I have all these gorgeous high color scans of books(obtain through entirely legitimate means) and the most interesting ones (ie, >100MG) would crash it. I'd been making do with just reading text only files, or downconverting the pdf's with MobiPocket, but this is much better.

I think I'll load up my 1gig SD card and do some real reading this weekend.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Bank of America | Home | Personal

Last night I left my bank card at the ATM. I probably failed to indicate that I was done, so the card did not eject, and I had time to walk away before it started beeping.

I went to the bank branch today, and it was waiting for me inside. Either their ATM machines eat cards that stay in them for a while and they are held inside, or someone else grabbed it and turned it in. They wouldn't say which.

I was pretty helpless there without a bank card. Interesting that I've adapted so well to using no cash. Crystal is always telling me I should carry money rather than using the card all the time. But it's too convenient. I took out a little money, but I'll probably forget again and lapse back into pure card use. I can't wait until I can get RFID fetish and just wave at things and lose money.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

justin corwin

coming after several years without, I again have a cellphone number. for those who need to contact me, it's 213.550.9925 anyone who doesn't need to, or I don't know can prepare for verbal abuse.

I try to live a life of transparency, and in general, have incurred few expenses for doing so. A little harrasssment, a few stalkers at jobs, and a few people banned from email/IMing or otherwise contacting me.

I find that the benefits exceed the negatives thus far.

If I ever become really famous, no doubt that overhead will rise to unbearable levels and I'll be forced into an unlisted(or at least abstracted) existence.
For any interested, my polyphasic switchover failed last night. I missed my 9pm nap by an hour and a half, so I crashed, and I got a veto from crystal, who apparently wants me to stay in bed throughout a night with her. With a visit to Salt Lake this weekend, that puts the kibosh on any disruption in normal sleep habits for a while.

While a day and a half isn't a good indicator, I wasn't unduly tired while on the schedule, and am optimistic, if I get a chance to start up again.

For anyone who follows such things, back in 2002-2003 and now I used a five hour period with a 40 minute nap, it compromises slightly more downtime with rarer disruption.
Test Test. Now posting to Livejournal automatically whenever I update my 'serious' blog at "Outlawpoet Daily"

Which is anything but.
AGI - What are the Risks? (panel debate) - Google Video

moderately interesting video.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Netvibes is an adaptive homepage site, which I use to organize my news and email and other notifications.

I've just gone through and removed the 'frivolous' feeds from my home page, leaving the AI feeds and business notifications.

I've found that people, even smart people like myself are very lazy. We tend to do what we're already doing. We investigate what we're already interested in. We allow ourselves to slump, within the limits we've set for ourselves, or have been set for us.

This is not to say that higher standards are all that's needed to get more from yourself. There is an apocryphal tale about a farmer teaching his horse to do without food, he slowly reduces the intake of the horse, and it adapts as best it can, until he decides it's ready to go all the way and it promply dies.

There are limits, but part of growing up, and becoming the person you want to be is finding those limits. Even if they're just limits to comfort, that's important to know. You can't be unhappy all the time for very long before other parts of your life starts to suffer.

So, today I'm just going to start doing some things that I have considered doing before, but for various reasons have never gotten over the inertia of what I was currently doing.

For a while there in SLC I had a polyphasic sleep pattern. Lately my sleep habits have been sloppy and creeping over the 9 hours a day I like them to be. I'm going back to polyphasic sleep, and less time in bed. I started Sunday(technically yesterday).

I haven't been consistent with this blog. At the best of times I found it helpful to be honest and regular with it. It helped me to organize my thoughts and grounded me in the invisible audience.

I've tried to keep my time at work to 8 hours a day, every day. This works out to 240 hours a month, since I work a little more than that most weekdays, I use that average excess to calculate my time off. Lately, that hasn't been working out well for me, with weekends being the time when I recover from disrupted/irregular sleep, and weekdays having a little too much frustrated or unproductive time at work. Part of this is because I'm working on some rather difficult subjects largely on my own, but some is also due to bad habits at work I've found myself in that keep me from being as effective as I would like to be. I'm trying some new things there, and I hope I can get more done with less stress.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Golf club Royal Bromont - Google Video

This is the most brilliantly put together thing I've ever seen by a DIY enthusiast. I would buy one immediately. I know people are going to be rushing to duplicate this, so I'll keep an eye on the scene and note when something accessible get's planned out.

For the time being it looks like he constructed all the technology himself.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Mprize-PayPal Founder pledges $3.5 Million to antiaging research

Peter Thiel is quickly making a name for himself as one of the largest contributors towards transhumanist efforts.

Last year he gave the Singularity Institute an enormous boost both in money and visibility, and here he both increases the MPrize war chest, and incentivises much further donation.

Looking over his history, since paypal, he has also invested well on the commercial side, being an angel in such explosive efforts as Facebook and co-producing one of my favorite movies of last year Thank You for Smoking

Sunday, September 17, 2006 To Reign in Hell: Books: Steven Brust

"Snow, tenderly caught by eddying breezes, swirled and spun in to and out of bright, lustrous shapes that gleamed against the emerald-blazoned black drape of sky and sparkled there for a moment, hanging, before settling gently to the soft, green-tufted plain with all the sickly sweetness of an over-written sentence."

Wow. That's one heck of a first sentence. Just now investigating Brust, I started here, as it was endorsed with a foreword by Roger Zelazny.

I went to visit the Blancos today, and bade 'happy birthday' to several people. It was a nice few hours, although I came back quickly and am back working again.

I'm happy to say that things at work are very interesting and productive, and more discussion on the subject of AI is happening on the various internet fora I'm connected to.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Royal Society Publishing

The Royal Society Journals Digital Archive is now online. A lot of scientific papers and celebrity scientists info available there. Read papers by Bohr, Joule, Kelvin, Liebnitz, Turing, Volta, Wren, Darwin, and on and on.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Gresgarth Hall

Possible ancestors in the Curwen/Culwen family from Lancastershire. Another family of Corwins in the US are claiming the motto, descended from them, of "Si Je Nestoy" (if not for me, or if I was not there) after an incident where Sir Gilbert II of Culwen allegedly saved Edward I from capture or death.

I like it, as family mottoes go. I am still torn by Fowl's gold is power, and Groening's knowledge brings fear, as well as the anonymous quip beware the wrath of a patient man.

I rather like the idea of a testosteroney sort of family creed, but I guess I'll have to see. Crystal's vote is for this is a learning opportunity, which has menacing overtones if you think about it too long

Friday, September 08, 2006

News: Iain Banks 'civilised' by Sid -

Wow. Here is a story about Iain M. Banks admitting that his latest book is late because he became addicted to a computer game, the latest Civilization from Sid Meier.

I'm surprised more hasn't been made of this, as more and more computer games become 'open-ended' and increasingly time-consuming. We intelligent folk are particularly vulnerable to becoming enamored of controllable and engrossing worlds within worlds.

(I also wonder how good of a player Iain is, and if anyone I know played against him online. hmm)

Monday, September 04, 2006

YouTube - Crocodile Hunter cries

Reliable reports are that Steve Irwin is dead. I've been watching The
Crocodile Hunter since I was young, and he's become an irrevocable part of our culture, with his wild enthusiasm and trekking to show us dangerous wildlife.

Steve has done a an enormous amount to show people the natural wonders of the world, and has raised huge amounts of money for zoos and conservation efforts.

Steve died as I thought he might, dealing with dangerous animals, in this case, a poisonous ray, which stung him in the chest. He was dead when he arrived at the hospital. He was filming a documentary called "World's Deadliest" in the Batt Reef off Port Douglas, Queensland.,23599,20349888-2,00.html

Sunday, September 03, 2006

YouTube - Long Time Gone ~ Dixie Chicks

A song about a girl who has grown up, and found that outgrowing her childhood town has cost her a past, and lost relationships.

I was talking with my father about his feelings, now that our family has broken up, that I've grown, and Jessica is away. Andrea is off in South America, and Aaron is in treatment. I know he misses when we were all together and small, however stressful it was at the time.

So far, I've always been glad of the direction my life has gone in, and I don't yet feel that anything is less full of promise than it once was. There are a lot of things I miss, but I wouldn't trade what I have now for access to them. Yet. I worry that I won't have time to spend all the time with the people I care about while they're still here. Or before things change too much. A lot of the places I went to as a kid aren't there anymore. The things I used to do with my dad might not be possible.

I know the porch I watched (and helped as much as a child could) him build around our home in Orinda is gone. Which is too bad. I loved that thing, and would have liked to see it as an adult.

There are also a lot of people I may never be able to find again. Friends and neighbors and passing acquaintances. It's a stiff price, growing up.

Daddy sits on a’ front porch swinging
Looking out on a vacant field
Used to be filled with burley t'bacca
Now he knows it never will
My Brothers found work in Indiana
M' Sisters a nurse at the old folks home
Mama still cooking too much for supper
And me I’ve been a long time gone

Been a long time gone
No, I ain't hoed a row since I don't know when
Long time gone
And it ain't coming back again

Deliah plays that ol' church pian'a
Sitting out on her daddy’s farm
She always thought that we'd be together
Lord I never meant to do her harm
Said she could hear me singin' in the choir
Me, I heard another song
I caught wind and hit the road runnin'
And Lord, I've been a long time gone

Been a long time gone
Lord, I ain't had a prayer since I don't know when
Long time gone
And it ain't comin' back again


Now me, I went to Nashville,
Tryin' to beat the big deal
Playin' down on Broadway
Gettin' there the hard way
Living from a tip jar
Sleeping in my car
Hocking my guitar
Yeah I’m gonna be a star

Now, me and Deliah singing every Sunday
Watching the children and the garden grow
We listen to the radio to hear what's cookin’
But the music ain't got no soul
Now they sound tired but they don't sound Haggard
They've got money but they don't have Cash
They got Junior but they don't have Hank
I think, I think, I think

The rest is a long time gone
No, I ain't hit the roof since I don’t know when
Long time gone
And it ain't coming back
I said a long time gone
No, I ain't honked the horn since I don’t know when
Long time gone
And it ain't coming back again

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I'm back from Michigan. At a week and a day off the job, this is the longest I've been away in two and a half years.(it reinforces my preference for short, staggered time off)

My grandmother, Helen Finton Corwin(or perhaps Corwin Finton) is dying of cancer. At this point, there is little that can be done. Her prognosis is anything from weeks to months, as metastatic cancer advances erratically.

She's still in full possession of her faculties, and currently without pain. She's staying with her daughter, my Aunt K. She seems upbeat, and I was glad to spend time with her.

Things of this nature always make me angry. I expect that the forms of cancer will have effective therapies developed within my lifetime, and that the host of other problems that make her life so short as well. But it will not come in time for her. And knowing this, I can think of nothing to do but to preserve what memories and time I have with her as well as I can. It's a weak salve to someones death, to promise to remember them. I've never seen my grandmother cry before. She has always been an upright and certain person. The most solid figure in my family.

I know that she is scared and unhappy and I see her seeing things with the unspoken subtext "this is the last time you will see this", and what a terrible thing that is.

You would think that such a reality would sweep away pride and social norms, and that I could say all the things I wanted to her. But in that situation, you cling to it instead, and so I stayed largely silent, not wanting to upset the fragile upbeat thing that was my few days, likely the last days I will spend with her. I didn't want to embarass her. I didn't want to upset her. I didn't want to embarass myself.

This is a bad world.

I've known this for a long time, just as I've always accepted that our progress upon it is slow and certain and altogether to be aided and believed in. But it is still too slow. Too slow again for one more.

For me, the rate of change in the world has always been clocked by the problems the people I care about have. The power of medicine is the sicknesses my friends and family survive. The failure of the same is shown conversely. It's easier, when you're a teen, and the only people who have died are those you did not have time to know. That's when I decided that the world was fundamentally getting to be a better place over the centuries.

It still is, but it's slower than it should be. Perhaps it always was and I should have known, but the markers for me started later. I feel guilty about many things, but mostly it's my helplessness and complicity, however small, in the pain of those I care about. I don't know what would have been enough, but what I have done and tried was not it.

I'll miss her.

"In the mirrors of many judgments my hands are the color of blood. I am a part of the evil that exists in the world and in Shadow. I sometime fancy myself an evil which exists to oppose other evils. I destroy Melkins when I find them, and on that Great Day of which prophets speak but in which they do not truly believe, on that day when the world is completely cleansed of evil, then I, too, will go down into darkness, swallowing curses. Perhaps even sooner than that, I now judge. But whatever... Until that time, I shall not wash my hands nor let them hang useless."

--Corwin, "The Guns of Avalon" by Roger Zelazny

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Sztywny Blog - Stiff asks, great programmers answer

Interesting answers from master programmers.

I guess I didn't have as much freetime as I thought last week.

Incidentally, I'm 25 now. An auspicious milestone, but I suppose I'll make more effort for my 30th birthday.

I'll return to the stalled feature on my stalled projects later. Sorry.

Friday, July 21, 2006


This program actually started it's life for me in an IRC channel. Back in the days of yore, the Extropians mailing list had a few IRC chats to try and stimulate interaction. In it, Eliezer expressed his frustration that there was no tool to help him with his personal documentation for his projects. He described a light, outlining text editor that could handle the complicated relationships that exist in a large, interdependent project. Now, there are a number display technologies for this sort of thing, given a pre-existing ontology, or semantic network, or similar, but nothing to actually aid in the production of a document like this.

I was struck by how many of my own ideas had the same network structure, and the seemingly shocking absence of any tool of this kind.

I decided to write the program. At the time I only had a small amount of experience programming, but I was confident I could learn what I needed to in the process. Eliezer wrote up a spec(which is still on that sourceforge site) and I started learning about Mozilla XUL applications.(the chosen platform).

I probably worked about a month of honest days on the program. It was much harder going than I had expected, and I tended to take what excuses I could to avoid the issues for days at a time. At the time I didn't really understand source-control, which is why the sourceforge project is empty. After a few months of painful days in between my regular jobs and other activities, I'd basically managed to design the file format, a basic browser, and some of the UI elements, and was having problems with the javascript (which is how Mozilla handled program logic at the time).

It was at this point that the (only!) copy I had was lost to me, along with my notes and attendant files(in fact, I lost everything at that point, diaries and journals, and datafiles, and god knows how much else). This effectively killed any desire I had to work on the project, as I was now consumed trying to reconstruct my personal files. (I probably lost between 2 and 5 megabytes of plain text files I'd written, and innumerable stubs and outlines of other ideas. I felt as if half my brain had fallen out). So I made my apologies to Eliezer and left the idea to rot. It only took about a year for it to come back.

My friend Tavish came to me with a proposition to join his nascent business effort. They wanted to build a publishing program that would transparent substitution and templating far beyond what was available. Originally the idea started as a way to rapidly put together documentation, but in brainstorming sessions it grew far beyond that, until it was a wonder tool, allowing for multiple representations of the same document, for automatic outlining, for multiple levels of description. I saw it as a chance for redemption, and built a relatively solid xml format based on our ideas, (and allowing for some of my old ones). I don't really know what I expected, but the company slowly died a death of lack of motivation and work being done. We never officially ended the effort, because we really didn't need to.

After this point, I left DocDesignr in my head. I wrote drabbles of use-cases to myself sometimes, or imagined using the tool to explore an engineering design I was struggling with, but I didn't do any more concrete work on it.

Today, DocDesignr is still very clear to me. Any design project of nontrivial size could use it. The essential insight is that designs consist of object-like chunks of functionality and description, that we link together in our minds, via distinct mechanisms. All the portions of an internal combustion engine relate to each other in a particular way with regards to mechanical stress, and in a very different way in regards to heat dissipation, although you would use the same words to describe an individual part in each case(mostly). If you were then describing a time-slice of engine operation, you would want to actually connect each item in your narrative to the previous relationships, because they may be significant.

As far as I know, no real alternative yet exists. There are some academic semantic relationship engines (which are designed mostly for tokens and suggestive sentences), and there are what are called mind mapping, or network browsers. Neither really fit the bill for me, and so occasionally I consider restarting work on it, being reminded whenever I see a particularly clever XML format, or WYSIWYG uml modeler, or see that there are new python bindings for GTK. Or as happened last week, a coworker spends a while messing about with Protege(an ontology editor).

Sooner or later, I'll become annoyed enough to write it, (or as the cost to write it continues to go down, it'll become too easy to avoid). I'm still waiting for someone else to do it, because I'm not very good at actually spending the time to iron out a program enough for general use(I'd end up just getting used to my own version and avoiding hacking it anymore).

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Ask A Ninja: Special Delivery 7 "Pirates of the Caribbean" | Ask A Ninja

I saw Pirates of the Caribbean last weekend, and oddly, I find myself agreeing on some points with our eponymous ninja about it.

Entertainment aside, I spent part of the weekend catching up with some reading and notes.

One of the most interesting things is the list of non-work related programming tasks that have piled up. Over the years since I learned how to program, I've been collecting things that I think I could use, or that I need done by my computer. Some of these are relatively insignificant and are satisfied by some preliminary investigation, either writing a short script and casting it aside, or finding a pre-existing program that does close enough to the same thing.

Others remain, unfulfilled, and eventually coalesce into well defined entities in my mind.

I don't know whether anyone else does this(though I suspect many do), but I have defined in very specific ways, things that are thus far entirely imaginary. For example, I have strong and detailed mental designs of the functionality my home automation will have, or my wearable computer, my boat(ALFRED, Grayswandir, and Home One, respectively). These designs for imaginary things either eventually dissipate, or they continue to accrue detail and substance until I'm forced to actualize them(most of my writing started out like this, for example).

Sometimes the designs just have a suggestive name, sometimes they are almost complete specifications.

In the interests of possible feedback, and perhaps just catharsis, I'm planning on writing out, as best I can, the top five program designs I have unfinished in my head this week.

Tomorrow is one of the earliest and most irksome to me that it's unfinished. It actually started out as someone else's requirement which I took as my own, and since then it's grown and become something I want to have for myself as well.

I actually attempted twice to write this application, the sourceforge site for the first attempt still exists, empty and abortive, here.

The second attempt was an opportunistic hijack, some friends of mine started a company to do an xml authoring tool, and I gradually added to their plans to approximate my previous design. The short-lived company of course failed, via the usual mechanisms.

In my head, I still call it by it's Unix title from sourceforge, DocDesignr. Tomorrow I'll try to explain what I wanted it to do, and how I think it would be useful. I may not be the only one, as far as I know, Eliezer hasn't found a replacement tool, and presumably still has the need.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Peoples Archive | homepage

fantastic, fantastic, fantastic

There are an amazing number of biographies of truly fascinating people here. both transcripts and video content, most of which is free.

I'm considering getting a subscription so I can burn dvds of this to watch at home at night.

history! brilliant people! charming and eloquent scientists! what could be better?
The Mprize-SENS Withstands Three Challenges : $20,000 Remains Unclaimed

Interestingly, I got a personal email from Kevin Perrott at suggesting I check this out, and possibly blog about it.

It is a very interesting article, and reading through the critiques and counter-responses is well worth your time if you are interested in SENS(and capable of googling through occasionally dense references).

But I'm interested in why *I* was sent a letter. Are people beginning to track blog authors who write on particular subjects? Was this a personal notation of the fact I wrote about SENS previously? An automated system?

What kinds of tools and data would help someone be as targeted and effective as possible at PR and the like?

It's an interesting question. I'll post some ideas a little later this week.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Turing's Cathedral

an interesting article. I personally don't believe that Google is hiding any significant advances in AI technology. Their strength is simple technologies, engineered to work on enormous scales. Peter Norvig, AI academic, is Director of Search Quality, and has publicly stated that he personally does not believe significant progress in strong AI is at hand.

The massive success google has had with relatively simple information processing is sometimes difficult to accept. And many people suspect that their technology is hiding something. I believe these people are simply underestimating how much an advantage well engineered implementation presents, even of simple ideas.

Monday, June 26, 2006

A Terrifying Message from Al Gore

Al Gore is apparently a friend of Matt Groening. I always suspected, given his status as a Vice Presidential Action Ranger on Futurama.

The science in his movie is contentious, but it's undoubtedly a big political issue at the moment. I'm planning on watching it, if only to know what's going into popular culture.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

online dictionary/thesaurus. This is an interface to the popular WordNet, and has more advanced features than WordNet 2.1.

WordNetASPNet Online WordNet Dictionary Browser

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

a new hobby?

Microsoft does the Robot

I have played many simulated robotics games, but it looks like Microsoft has actually released a physics simulator as part of a development package for real robots.

If we were still doing animal-level experiments at work, I'd be tempted to try to use this as a new virtual world simulator, as we're already working in C# on VS.NET

very interesting.

Blogged with Flock

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Determined to outsmart the cancer, they turned to genetic testing.

Newsvine - 11 Cousins Give Up Stomachs After Tests

Excellent. It looks like predictive genetic screening is becoming more common (and perhaps most importantly) accepted by insurance as enough cause for preventative measures. These wise men had their stomachs removed, and it was paid for all or in part by insurance! that is sweet.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


evidence for an extraordinary claim must be proportioned to its strangeness

Pierre-Simon Laplace - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In my work, I am often struck by a vast sense of history. Many of the problems I struggle with have a rich and storied history, whereby I succeed merely by having lived after many great scientists.

Today we had a business lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, in partial celebration for Philip Van Eeden and John Burges joining the project.

Aside from work, my life is quite full, with crystal and the new apartment, and all the interesting happenings lately. I plan on taking a break after things slow down some years from now to properly appreciate all the interesting literature being produced, but for the time being, I've had to restrict my reading to things of more immediate interest, academic or professional use, and light and mindless recreation in those few spare and idle moments I have.

Blogged with Flock

Friday, June 16, 2006

Human Experimentation

Savant-like numerosity skills revealed in normal people by magnetic pulses

Perception abstract

Well, perhaps IA isn't that far away after all.

Blogged with Flock

Tiger! Tiger!

Gully Foyle is my name
And Terra is my nation
Deep space is my dwelling place
The stars my destination

The Stars My Destination - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This was my favorite book as a teen, and I still think it's a classic of the genre.

Gully Foyle is the classic driven man, who is transformed by the needs of his goal, vengeance. For being passed by a ship, when he was marooned in deep space. He goes from a third-class midshipman to become a dangerous commando, a dandy of high society, and an inmate in the fictional future Super-Max Prison equivalent.

I'd recommend it to anyone looking for classic sci-fi with psychological elements. It predated cyberpunk(my favorite genre) by almost forty years, yet anticipates many of the elements.

This book also shaped my view of capitalism and corporations as fundamentally much stronger forces than governments and councils, an opinion I still hold. It also introduces the concept of a corporation serving the vision of a single person, which I aspire to. The best intro in all of literature is still that of the CEO/Owner of the eponymous Presteign Corporation. "I am Presteign, of Presteign."

Blogged with Flock

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Doom predicted in our time.

An interesting, if misanthropic and misguided, flash presentation.

Wierdly enough, it was put together by a legal advocate of the adult entertainment industry, to argue that there are more pressing concerns that prosecuting his clients.

Blogged with Flock

Saturday, June 10, 2006

space and games

Strangely, few people I know on the transhumanist lists have very large web presences. The most we tend to get up to are a few essays, a blog perhaps, and our affiliated organizations.

Here is a new (relatively) blog to add to that roll, by Peter de Blanc, whose writing on his blog are frankly quite superior some of the discussions he's been involved in on the SL4 list, which is only to be expected, I suppose.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Public Library of Science: Home

An interesting effort towards open science, where authors pay and access is free. They run six journals, all of whom have increasingly high profiles. PLoS Computational Biology in particular is now one of the most cited in the field.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Well, I finally found an apartment, and we have an agreement with the landlord. We're going to pickup furniture and move stuff on saturday. Crystal gets in here on Monday(if all goes according to plan), so it's just in time.

I'm very interested in how this will work out. For the time being, I'm not going to set up a computer (my work computer will stay here at the office) at the new apartment. This will be the first time in a long time I haven't had a computer on all the time where I live.

I may end up setting up my old computer(which I brought with me two years ago when I originally moved to california), for surfing, email, writing, personal coding and such. But on the other hand, I'm on the computer all day for work... I haven't decided. We'll try without, for a while.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Official Google Blog: Avoiding RSI

I personally have only had minor problems with RSI, but it has come to dominate the lives of many people I know in the computer classes. Here is a decent postcard overview, with some links to helpful resources.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Today is a Kifune discussion group, for those in LA, Kifune is a nice Japanese restaurant that we meet infrequently at with friends and acquaintances to talk about wild things.

I finished Rainbows End yesterday, and it was very good, excepting Vinge's characteristic avoidance of AI. Vinge is very clear in his understanding of the power of AI, but he always refuses to attempt to directly depict it. It's central to his stories, but it always occurs off-camera. Here, we're extremely near future, where things are getting quite exciting, but entirely through 'normal' ultratechnology like automated manufacturing, pervasive computing, social networking, bio sciences.

It's definitely worth the read, and it will probably inspire quite a few real life inventions, unless I miss my guess. Much of what he depicts is intriguingly possible.

I bought it from Amazon, you can get it from any major retailer. It's not online yet, that I can tell, but it will be soon. I don't know what Vinge's personal opinions are on personal property, but I'll probably want a digital copy to go along with my hardcover, so I'll let you know.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Office of Senator John Cornyn :: Cornyn Bill Would Improve Taxpayer Access To Federally Funded Research

This could be very big. It requires goverment sponsored research that meets certain qualifications to publish their findings in a publicly available digital medium.

Open Science is a hobby of mine, the various indie attempts at math literature, searchable chemical indices, are all very important, but in sheer volume, this could dwarf them all.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

In the Fight Against Spam E-Mail, Goliath Wins Again

Interesting. I would call this an endorsement of success for the tactic.

For those who are not following the various anti-spam attempts, Blue Security was an interesting idea. They subscribed people to a spamwatching service, and when someone reported spam, they sent unsubscribe requests (as CAN-SPAM requires you to allow) to the best known source of spam, from all their subscribers, at the same time.

The crippling burst of traffic, while legal, managed to discourage several spammers. Of course, the counter-attack was not long in coming, along with cyber-threats of victimizing their customers with targeted attacks and virii.

Blue Security seems to have caved, with a quit message going up on their website tomorrow, reports the Washington Post in above link.

I personally expected this outcome, and am somewhat surprised they did not discuss it with their customers, and/or take measures against DDOS attacks.

The scale of the counter-attack was pretty surprising, taking down Tucows as well(which is no slouch of a webservice), but that reinforces my opinion that the method would work, if someone had the ability to go the distance. The next attempt(and there probably will be one) should involve either obfuscating the central server via Tor routing or similar, or a truly decentralized p2p network (which would have the problem of not having experts to validate the targets for mass unsubscribes).

The last possibility is for black hats to setup persistent bot nets that do the unsubcribing by proxy, but that amounts to just opening up gunslinging between the "good" bad guys, and the "bad" bad guys. Collateral damage could be worse than the original spam traffic.

A possible solution would be getting someone really really big involved, like Akamai, or Google, but that probably costs more than any single anti-spam effort could raise.

Monday, May 15, 2006


For the past two days I've been pretty uninvolved with the rest of the world. Some disorder or other has had me sleeping.

Now I'm back at the desk, perhaps not 100%.

I just wanted to comment on two things. This weekend, my boss, Peter went to the Singularity Summit, and was pleased at the time-investment, despite the spotty speaker selection. It was supposed to be a gathering and presentation of cutting edge stuff on Vinge's technological singularity, but Kurzweil's recent book understandably took a lot of the credit.

I'll post when audio/video/transcripts come to my attention, as some of the presentations were apparently pretty good(via Peter-report), if not entirely applicable to the topic. (looking forward to good presentations from specifically: Cory Doctorow(irrelevant, perhaps interesting), Bill McKibbin(charismatic neo-luddism), Eliezer (good general basic presentation), Max More(naive psychological treatment of AI problems), Hofstadler (another apparent Hugo de Garis, believes AI is a long way off for personal reasons, somewhat dissapointing))

More important that the specific presentations, none of which represented new information, is the new focus that singularity topics find themselves in. By all reports, the Summit was extremely professional, slick, and well attended. I hope more attention follows to the more specific issues and efforts.

I'm somewhat surprised that the tone of the conference was so speculative and blue-sky, considering all the current development and interesting stuff. I suppose concrete subjects require too much grounding and are subject to embarassing retractions. I would have expected at the least for Eliezer to counterpoint the predictions some gave (100+ years, in at least one case), but perhaps he's clamming up for respectability reasons.

In other news, the long awaited (for me at least) new Vinge novel "Rainbow's End" is available now. Near-future sci-fi set in a high school with the protagonist a recovering alzheimer's patient re-entering society. YES.

Also, China's giant deal with finally producing their own microprocessors that operate on par with Intel, TI, et al? Not so much. Apparently the progress was falsified, and some of the work that was done may have been stolen. That's bad. China is getting a very bad reputation for not playing nicely with Western companies intellectual property, which is a big deal, if they want to join the same game.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Catalog Of Correctable Omnipresent Human Flaws

I saw this some time ago, and thought it amusing.

This fellow lists all the biological problems that human anatomy presents, and what he would do about them, given genetic control.

Many of the suggestions are moderately sensible, although some are very medically naive. The spirit of the thing is certainly very positive, and I would like to see some percentage of the proposed changes at least modeled in detail.

He then goes on to suggest implementing them as retroviral in vitro modifications of human zygotes, which I think is a silly, and also terrible idea. Testing wild new biological structures on unborn children is a nonstarter for many reasons. The first is that you could doom them to a life of horrid misery, or quick death. But the second, and more difficult to dispel through care and testing, is that it's simply too indirect a proposition.

Aside from the fact that getting an unborn child's permission is tricky at best, even if you subscribe to medieval notions of children belonging to their parents, it's simply not as direct a motivation for research and development. Here you're offering potential benefits to the children of rich people, initially at least.

An alternate, and possibly more difficult attempt, would be surgical implementation on adults. Here you can sell directly to the rich people and those ill (but covered by insurance, or sponsored). That's a much more motivating, and much clearer proposition. The adult can consent, understand the risks, and perhaps more importantly, directly evaluate the benefits.

Eventually, of course, medical technologies will be possible to attempt on anyone, and both the adult and prenatal varieties will become social/legal issues. But this is another case where you should not live out your dreams through your children, but rather try to accomplish them yourself.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Minnesota Power Falcon Cam

Peregrine falcons are my favorite birds. They always have been, since I learned that they are the fastest ( which to my young mind, meant best ).

Here is a webcam on a nest that a falcon named Bandit has been using since '92. He has raised 37 chicks there, with two mates.

This is all part of a private effort by Minnesota Power to provide safe nesting for falcons and other endangered birds.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Extropy Institute is closing its doors and opening a window for a proactive future.


The Extropy Institute is closing. Many people may not know who they are, but they played an important part in my life, six years ago or so, when I first encountered them, my plans were very uncertain. I can honestly say that it was a major fork in the road of my planning, and that my view of the world has never really been the same since.

Transhumanism started out as a philosophy/attitude, and quickly turned into a culture. People had been taking that and adding to it for years when I encountered it, and I found it a rich vein of imagination, ideas, and scientific futurism.

I am a very different person because of it. And I think I will always identify strongly with the ideas it once espoused. the extropy institute is now gone, but I think that there are more extropians than ever.

Friday, April 28, 2006

"Those who cannot cope with mathematics are at best, tolerable sub-humans who have learned to bathe, wear shoes and not make messes in the house."


So I'm visiting Salt Lake City next weekend, which will probably be the last time I'll be in town for a while, since Crystal will be here after that for some months. I'm going to try to see people, but my schedule always seems to be mussed.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

J. Steven York's Multiplex of the Mind: Writers and other delusional people

A good article about writers and writing.

A little background is required for those of your who never wanted to be writers. What he's specifically railing against here are agents who promise to get you published, if you pay them a fee, and publishers who do that same thing. Many justify it, saying that the financial risk needs to be offset, and you will in any case, quickly recoup the fees in royalty.

As he points out, this sort of thing continues to be popular because those fees are NOT recouped in royalty, and in fact end up just being fat to a publisher or agent who does little or nothing on your behalf. It amounts to very expensive vanity publishing.

Once I thought I would primarily be a writer, and still have some plans to write, although other things have interceded. What I will end up writing may not be a book, but it will be something.

Monday, April 03, 2006

gizmag Article: Borders to Sell Digital Reading Device

I hope this works out. I've been waiting for digital books for a while now. I grab digital copies online when I can, and used to read on my PDA, but the momentum and selection just hasn't been there. If this is cheap, and has a large library, I really think the time may have come.

It's not flying cars, but I've been really waiting for this.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

New Scientist Technology - Device warns you if you're boring or irritating

Conlan Press - Peter S. Beagle Fund - You Can Help!

This is very sad. One of my favorite screen-writers and authors, Peter Beagle, who wrote both the animated Lord of the Rings screenplay, and the book and screenplay of the Last Unicorn is not being paid what his contract with Granada Media and Zaentz Films states he should be. He is, in fact, in dire financial straights, while the Last Unicorn continues to be a fanatastically successful film on DVD and free TV, and Zaentz has a very lucrative deal based on his selling the Movie rights to Lord of the Rings to Peter Jackson.

Contractually, at least in the Granada case, he would have a very solid claim to that money (in his contract he is owed 5% of all profits in film and merchandising), Granada's position is that the film has never made money and he is thus owed no profits. His business manager seems to think that ridiculous and I'm inclined to agree, but I don't know the facts of the case.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Recent problems with BATF and Homeland Security for rocketry enthusiasts and garage scientists have inspired a Senator, Mike Enzi from Wyoming, to come out in support of amateurs, saying:

"It's a sad state of affairs when we see a government agency and senators go to such lengths to squash efforts to preserve a constructive, educational and important hobby enjoyed by millions of Americans. This kind of opposition to my legislation serves to discourage innovation and darken spirits. It doesn't make Americans that much safer, but it does make us more fearful and less free."

His proposed legislation to,
"amend title 18, United States Code, to exempt certain rocket propellants from prohibitions under that title on explosive materials."

He's also supporting a concurrent legal case, against NAR and Tripoli Rocketry Association, where the BATF is attempting to prevent the ownership and sale of certain precursers to amateur fireworks and rockets. The District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals recently sent back a judgement that was particularly pointed, refusing to defer to the BATF's technical expertise on the grounds that an agency action must be supported by "reasoned decisionmaking", and furthermore that the purported BATF expertise could not be deferred to, because there was no such expertise discernible.

Pretty harsh words here in the judgement written by Senior Circuit Judge Edwards.

Hopefully this will reduce the recent spate of injunctions against hobby materials providers.

Friday, March 24, 2006

60% of Windows Vista Code to be rewritten

This is the sort of thing that worries me about becoming a larger company. Although I'm looking forward to having more people and resources, the prospect of larger and larger problems and resource issues gives me the willies.

Here microsoft is hoping that the programmers that did work on the Xbox will improve the team on windows, because the Xbox did so well as a product.

I don't know that it's very good reasoning, but I can understand their sense of time-pressure. Windows Vista is years late already, and they can't afford more delays, unless they want to try to resell XP for another two years.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Rob and Elliot: A webcomic updated Mondays and Fridays

More people should bribe with kittens.

Crystal is still here, we're having a good time, in the midst of a lot of hiring activity and my own work.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Crystal gets here today.

Interesting how things always seem to pile up on me. I'm on the cusp of one of my personal research projects bearing very interesting fruit, a bunch of applicants for the latest openings in a2i2, and other exciting prospects.

For now, I'll leave you, my neglected journal readers, with my new homepage netvibes which you can use to organize any manner of important things to you, in a single, interactive page. Much better than my previous attempt a personal wiki.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

US Government attempts to ban chemistry

CPSC has asked for an injunction preventing chemical suppliers like United Nuclear from selling, giving away, or otherwise distributing a long list of basic chemicals and materials to people without an ATF explosives license.

To enforce this injunction of course, they also want chemicals supplies to keep detailed records on their customers to provide the CPSC.

This will destroy a lot of things. Most model hobbies will be severely affected, amateur rocketry will be destroyed(the ATF license costs a thousand dollars and many will be turned down). fireworks made by private individuals, even some small manufacturers will be trouble.

This will also severely affect the new and shaky Maker culture springing up on the internet. Amateur robotics, already a difficult field to get started in, will get even harder.

I donated 25 dollars because it's what I had on me. I'll be following this story, I'll tell you what else happens.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Saturday, February 25, 2006

PartiallyClips - A Webcomic for Grownups

I love this webcomic.
Girl: "You keep staring at it." (a fire)

Science Guy: "So do you. Fascination for Fire is a relic of human evolution."
"See, we were animals once, afraid of flames, after it was invented, only a handful of freaks who loved fire survived to produce humanity"

Girl: "Yeah maybe, but what about moths? Moths that have a 'fascination for fire' all die."

Science Guy: "Yes, but after they breed. No evolutionary pressure there."

Girl: "Ha! Answers for everything. Why do you waste so much time thinking about this stuff?"

Science Guy: "Because when the next big discovery is made, only a handful of freaks who loved science class will survive"
PartiallyClips - A Webcomic for Grownups

I love this webcomic.
Girl: "You keep staring at it."

Science Guy: "So do you. Fascination for Fire is a relic of human evolution."
"See, we were animals once, afraid of flames, after it was invented, only a handful of freaks who loved fire survived to produce humanity"

Girl: "Yeah maybe, but what about moths? Moths that have a 'fascination for fire' all die."

Science Guy: "Yes, but after they breed. No evolutionary pressure there."

Girl: "Ha! Answers for everything. Why do you waste so much time thinking about this stuff?"

Science Guy: "Because when the next big discovery is made, only a handful of freaks who loved science class will survive"
TheGreyman music.

Troy is a friend of mine that I don't see that often, but it's always fun when I do.

He's performing live at another friend's workplace, the nova express.

I have to admit I didn't know that Troy performed vocal music, although in my defense, his website says he hasn't performed solo in several years.

I love finding out about unknown activities and interests of friends, particularly when they are ambitious and competent at it.

I'll be going. It's a nifty thing.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Atheist Ethicist

I'm impressed with this person.

He has spent a good amount of time thinking about these things, and while he approaches many issues from a different perspective than I, his thoughts are reasoned, and comprehensive.

I've just spent some time in Salt Lake, visiting family and crystal. I didn't mention it to any friends, because I knew I wouldn't have time to see anyone.

I decided, as anyone who cared may have noticed, not to continue my twii blog, because upon researching the second post, I found that I didn't have a public perspective to present. I have many opinions and facts about artificial intelligence that I can't speak about in a public way, because they depend on details I can't share, or upon perspectives and theories I have yet to complete or explain.

The TWII blog then, could have become posts in my own private lexicon, and constantly gesturing offstage. I still think there is a place for commentary and concentration of the news and facts of the AI scene, but I don't know how to retool. I've considered contributing to other community sites, or slashdot style aggregators, but either is problematic.

I'll figure it out.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I got a request from Mitch Howe to mention how the Frogpad is going.

Well, I'll tell you. I'm entirely satisfied with the frogpad product. I'm actually pretty speedy on the lil thing now, and I don't need to look at it, except when I'm programming(which uses many special symbols I need to often check even on the qwerty).

The only reason I don't use it all the time is because the bluetooth software is a bit buggy, and it has a tendency to lose it's pairing with my computer when I turn it off and on too many times.

This means that I have to going through the pairing ritual, which means hitting the reset switch with a paperclip, and typing in the code that appears on the screen. This is fantastically annoying, and has me wondering why I asked for the bluetooth version in the first place. I had visions of carrying it from computer to computer, using for mobile devices, etc etc, but the truth of the matter is that I'm on the same computer, day in and day out, and having a battery-operated wireless keyboard is just less important than reliability and no hassles.

When I get going though, it's really fantastic, one of my pet peeves is the fact that many of the programs I use require me to both type and mouse, which I can do now without a pause in between.

I also am happy having chosen the left-hand version, as my left hand is getting a mite stronger and more dextrous with all the concentration and workout.

All in all, I'm surprised, although I regret not getting the wired USB version. If the pairing problems keep up, I may have to think about replacing it, or seeing if I can't modify the thing to operate continously plugged in, so I can just never turn it off.

((A word of note though, I'm kind of an odd duck, and this keyboard did require quite a bit of getting used to. It was literally three weeks before I wasn't pulling my hair out, trying to keep from using the qwerty keyboard every time I was on it, just because of the terrible speed. (I got used to typing as fast as I do) It's not as bad now, but I still use the qwerty keyboard for gaming, and when I need programming done fast, or in great volume. My mispellings have also gone up. It's strange, but it seems that nearly 15% of my spelling ability was based on what 'felt' right. So I need to think more to get wrong words corrected.))

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Wired News: NASCAR in the Clouds

I am so in favor of this, you have no idea.

I'm glad this sport is already moving forward. I just hope there are RRL events near enough for me to attend.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Well, dad seems to be okay. One artery with minor occlusion, but sufficient blood flow. He's on statin medication, and some checkup in a time period(6 months, a year?)

new This Week In Intelligence, I hope to do this once a week, on friday night. If that works out, we can see what else might happen.

I've got my few remaining mailing lists on daily digest, and they're still too boring and time-wasting. I hope it's just a phase. All the boring people live in winter climates, perhaps.

On the upside, S. Korea is building offensive robots.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Coronary catheterization

I have never been very good at suffering uncertainty and fear. In fact, you might say that a major motivation in my early years to learn so much was to try to reduce the size of the mysteries and shadows that I felt confronted with.

Having precise names for things, facts about them, understanding what gives rise to their existence, it makes me feel better. Quite aside from the options and real control it does give you, it makes me feel better almost immediately, in proportion to how well I think I understand.

So tonight I google and read studies and think about what my father (David Corwin) will be doing tomorrow morning in Utah.

Almost ten years ago I realized that my father was the highest risk person in my immediate family, in terms of medical emergencies. His father died of heart disease.

It's things like this that make you appreciate the rate of medical progress. Both the positive and the negative. A few things have changed very rapidly in coronary medicine, others are virtually unchanged from the sixties.

A few more years may bring great medical progress, or it may bring hardly nothing. Or it may be irrelevant and too late.

For now, he's going to learn more tomorrow. And so will I. Which I approve of, less mysteries. And then we'll see what applies.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

A new project. I'm going to post once a week on news, views, and my commentary thereof, relating to Intelligence.

I define the scope of This Week in Intelligence to be either scientific or engineering subjects relating to both intelligence itself, and intelligent systems. So it should be of interest to people who want to know both how humans think, and how thinking itself works.

Almost everything we do, feel, or avoid is primarily affected by the character of our intelligence, which everyone shares. We notice the social differences, and they're important to us, because they are how we tell each other apart. But there is a vast shared pool of attributes which we rarely investigate, which I think will be very interesting if it can be explored well.

I have several ambitions for This Week in Intelligence, but we'll just see how it goes.
A good day here at a2i2. Peter has gone to London, and has left us with the assignment of working on theory, just theory.

Now, I've been involved for quite a long time now, in the planning and working out of cognitive elements. But it is very rare that I get to do pure research, and it is an animal pleasure which I savor when the opportunity to do it comes along.

You see, it so rarely actually pays to do open-ended research, because the results are uncertain, and there is so often concrete, known and defined things that we know we need to do. Progress on those fronts informs theory, and makes it in turn more concrete. We progress this way, surely, but perhaps more incrementally.

But under it all is theoretical understanding, which is why occasional forays into scientific investigation are needed to fuel the engineering we usually do. A little understanding makes everything easier to do, and so these investigations can sometimes pay off very well.

Quite aside from the fact that I enjoy having as a job the explicit instructions "think about this", I think/and hope that it will lead to good things for the company as well.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

BBC NEWS | World | Asia-Pacific | Man's static jacket sparks alert

Just noticed this. That's some serious static.

Here at a2i2, we've been very busy. We had someone here to try working with us, unfortunately it didn't work out.

Crystal went home on sunday, which is sad. We're plotting to get her out here for a longer period of time when she's out of school. As much as I like these mini-vacations of visiting back and forth, I'd much rather be around her on a more regular (if less intense) basis. It would be less disruptive, and more fun, I think. A sense of normalcy is worth a lot, sometimes.

I'm considering gathering up news and resources on intelligence in a weekly blog or something, which may be of interest to my friends who fancy themselves plugged into the stuff that makes us behave and feel the way we do, and how our potential children will think as well.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Wil McCarthy's Hacking Matter is free online now:

Monday, January 02, 2006


This guy takes requests and makes songs based on them.

Creative, and not bad music.

He also takes commissions for longer, more serious, songs.

He's responsible for at least two songs that I've heard elsewhere on the internet unattributed, so you know they're catchy when someone steals them.

"Mike Celestino, what have you done with Star Wars" is probably my favorite, a request about a geek's lament that the new star wars movies are no good.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

AGIRI Forums -> AGI Workshop - DC, May 20-21, 2006

Anybody going to this?

It was just brought to my attention.