Saturday, May 26, 2007

RE: Vinge

Rainbows End
Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge

Read Vinge, read Vinge: If you want to know what the future of technology is going to look like, open up Rainbows End and yes, the apostrophe is intentionally truant.

Robert Gu and his grand daughter, Miri are having some issues. After nearly dying from complications associated with Alzheimer's, Robert is back and ready to resume his stunningly successful career as a poet and professor . . . well, almost ready. You see, Robert is in a new world full of virtual realities, and he has has lost his edge, his killer instinct, and --most importantly-- his natural ability to compose poetry. Frightened and in shock, Robert strikes out and emotionally eviscerates Miri, living up to his cruel and heartless reputation.

Forced onto the road to redemption, Robert is confronted by Mysterious Stranger who pops in with the offer of a lifetime: take non-violent action against a book shredding information company and get your poetry back. What could go wrong . . . other than global mind control, a catatonic Daughter- in- Law, an attack on American soil by his marine son, the destruction of the UCSD library, charges of treason, and failing his class presentation with his lab partner, Juan? Plenty, including Miri's death, if he doesn't do something to stop it, and quickly.

My one objection: the time-line: Vinge places the story only 18 years in the future, but many of the breakthroughs seem much farther away than that (especially the medical breakthroughs), while others (wearable hardware) might very well develop beyond the stage in which he pictures them by 2025.

(I wrote this post for the title --yes, I know that "RE:" is pronounced ray, but it looks like it should sound like "revenge," and that's funny enough for me)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Dear . . ., I Got it Wrong

Dear BOD,

To avoid equivocation, I'll make this short. I got it wrong. I'm sorry. I'll try harder to do my, homework before I fly off the handle in the future. I'm sorry for the picture I painted. I painted way too broadly in those colors: you deserve for me to paint such things individual events, not typical (of person or group) or related to the general population of the group.


P.S. Thanks, Kev



Okay, so here's the plan: if anyone tells you that they missed a LOST episode, you say, "Oh, you didn't miss much. That was the one where Jack got hit on the head and they did a Gilligan's Island thing for the rest of the episode. I really think that they should have found someone other than Locke to hit Jack on the head with his hat, but Matthew Fox did a great job of faking Gilligan's voice, I was really surprised. But not as surprised as when the Globe Trotters showed up and challenged them to a game in the Stadium hatch."


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Beyond The Cotton


An Interesting Quiz

The fun part was the picture section:

Your Score: Very Well-Rounded

You have:

The graph on the right represents your place in Intuition 2-Space. As you can see, you scored above average on emotional intuition and above average on scientific intuition. (Weirdly, your emotional and scientific intuitions are equally strong.)

Your Emotional Intuition score is a measure of how well you understand people, especially their unspoken needs and sympathies. A high score score usually indicates social grace and persuasiveness. A low score usually means you're good at Quake.

Your Scientific Intuition score tells you how in tune you are with the world around you; how well you understand your physical and intellectual environment. People with high scores here are apt to succeed in business and, of course, the sciences.

Try my other test!
The 3 Variable Funny Test
It rules.

Link: The 2-Variable Intuition Test written by jason_bateman on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A LOST Question

(This is really mostly Gina's question, but I'm with her) Why did chuck bite it? I know, I know, because he wanted out to do other things and the producers were okay with that; really though, in the story, why? It made no sense, he could run out of the room and swim for it with Desi. Please, someone, tell me, 'cause if Charlie died because he's too dumb to run for it, I'm disappointed in the writers. The only excuse I can find is a writers' purpose, but has no motivation for hobbity-joe: they want to use that hatch in later episodes. Has anyone figured it out yet?

BTW - the clip show totally set us up for a flash forward with the directors' commentary: «this story has a past, present and future, and by the time we're done, all of those areas will be filled in.»

Shark Messiah?

That's right, a shark gave birth without the aid of male genetic material (parthenogenesis). I suppose that there are a few things that we can take from this beyond shock:

1. According to the article, mammals are now the only vertebrates who have not conceived via parthenogenesis in controlled situations (confirmed by the virgin birth of Komodo dragons earlier this year. For those of you to whom such things matter, this adds a whole new level of plausibility to the virgin birth narrative: though it has not been confirmed that humans can reproduce this way, the evidence of several other, related species doing so tends to support the possibility. Note: this is an outsider argument for possibility, from the inside, it just explains the possible workings of a miracle which still needed divine guidance. It is for explanations to people who believe that all we believe was a hoax: the next time someone says that the virgin birth is impossible, you say, "it isn't impossible for sharks and Komodo Dragons," --make sure you say "Komodo," otherwise, they'll just think you're crazy, you might also want the articles to be on-hand.

2. This answers the area of my greatest lack of understanding of the evolutionary theories that I learned about years ago. There were two (basic) ways in which scientists said that vertebrates appeared on the scene: 1. many of them appeared at once in various places, in independent cycles of development or 2. one developed and then reproduced. I always thought that the first (though it fits what we know about the unexplained leaps in development that are obvious in archaeological finds) was rather implausible, and that the chances that would bring a male and female into being independently and that they would find each other and reproduce were astronomical (bars being far in the future). The second was that only one member of a species would develop and that species would die out with that single member.

So, I suppose that it is plausible, even for those strict creationists out there, to believe that God did something that made this rare form of reproduction commonplace in the beginning stages of species development so that the earth could produce more than the small animal population originally present (check Gen 6-9, ain't every species gonna' fit in that!). After all, Gen 1 indicates that God created animals, it doesn't tell us the details. This was actually just about what Darwin (a Christian) had in mind in his earliest works: he proposed a few original creatures that developed into the vast number that we have now. And, for you less strict creationists, it helps to explain one of the tools God used to produce animals in the first place. There is still a miracle here.

If you're a more through-going evolutionist, an unknown cause for the proliferation of these incidents at each major period of development, accompanied by a (thus far not in evidence) similar proliferation of inter-species evolution, would give evidence of one possible road to species development.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I think blogging will work better than spamming, and I refuse to send these things via email so here:

Stop Price Gouging

Here's a brief letter you can send to your email circle. Please send it along right away, but please only contact people who know you personally. Spam hurts our campaign.

Click here to open a new e-mail and invite your friends, family and colleagues to get involved:
Invite friends and colleagues.

    Or, you can cut and paste the text below into an email message:
    Subject: Help stop summer gas price gouging


    Can you face another summer where a day trip to the lake or the beach costs you an arm and a leg? It's shaping up to be just that if we don't ask Congress to stand up to Big Oil now.

    But there is a bill in the House this week that could make gas price gouging a federal crime, so we don't pay more while the oil companies rake in record profits. I signed a petition to urge my representative to pass this bill this week -- can you join me at the link below?


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Goodwin's Law

No this is not a LOST post.

Godwin's Law (proposed by Mike Godwin) states that as online discussion goes on, the chances of a comparison being drawn to Hitler and the Nazis approaches statistical certainty. In other words, if your blog gets enough comments, eventually one of them will draw such a comparison.

Godwin believes that such over use of Hitler/ Nazi comparison weakens the impact of such statements when they are truly appropriate. If Godwin is right, we really ought to figure out which arguments we really don't want to be powerful, or which characters we really wish had less impact, and then comment using ridiculous comparisons all the time.

My preliminary suggestions:
Pat Robertson - "You're just a bigot like Pat Robertson"
Joel Olstein - "Joel Olstein totally understands poverty."
Using rational (sounding) arguments to support non-parallel lines of thought - "an egg hatches and a Chick is born, so astrology works."
Rick Warren - "Rick Warren built such a big church, don't you wanna' be like that?"
Paris Hilton - "Paris Hilton may be a _____ but at least she is honest about it."
Ozzy - "All they need to do is look at Ozzy: he still rocks and he's been high for decades."
Quotations (real or fake) used to by-pass logical inquiry - "Albert Einstein said 'Imagination is more important than knowledge,' so why should I have to spend all my time reading?"

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Lost in 1985

When something real happens, when something really real happens, you leave part of yourself with that event. For better or worse, part of who you are stays forever attached to those moments in time. That is why our emotional development sometimes stops as a result of severe trauma, that is why victims of abuse become trapped in that moment, compelled to relive the past.

When something real happens, when something really real happens, it never seems real; it lives in a acrid fog, chewing little holes in your soul. At the time, it seems ironic and perverse that the very things that have the greatest impact on our lives are never quite in focus. I don't know, maybe they are in focus, it is just that we are not, or maybe it is the nature of life that important things are in the gap created by a paradox.


The day that Kermit died, I lost it. It just doesn't seem right to lose all composure because a kitten dies, when a kitten that you are pretty sure cannot survive dies, but, at 24 years old, I sobbed my eyes out for hours. He was the greatest little animal I've ever had as a pet, and he only lived a few months. I wish I had a picture of how small he was, and I wish I had tape of him following us around the house. He was so cute, he just loved to be around his people, and there he was one afternoon when I got home from my summer session at Cascade in 2000; dead in the litter box of his little cage. I reached in, hoping that he was just asleep, but he wasn't. He was gone.


Dad didn't stop talking. It was early in the morning and he kept talking. Usually a phone call lasts only a few minutes when it comes in the morning, but this one kept going; Dad's voice kept talking in that calm voice that he has, the voice he uses when someone is hurt, the voice he uses to solve my problems, the voice he uses when he can't solve the problems.

". . . called the police yet? Okay, you need to do that first and then call me back, okay?"

Okay, so there's been a crime of some type, probably just something stolen. Why would they call Dad about that? Dad and mom mumbled to each other, mom's voice was quietly frantic. The phone rang again and Dad picked it up on the first ring.

I couldn't go back to sleep, so I went downstairs, where Dad was on our family phone. For some reason, I didn't want to make noise, so I shoved my feet against the walls on either side of the stairs and walked on the diagonal boards there, the way I did when I wanted to listen to the television after bedtime so that my parents wouldn't hear the stairs squeak and send me back to bed.

Mom was on the couch and I sat on the piano bench. Time stopped as I listened. I still had no idea to what, but I listened, and time stopped; bored and scared and curious and wondering why I couldn't get an answer. I'm still waiting.

I know what happened, but I know what happened on that day like I know what happened in a dream: the knowledge is there, but I have no memory of finding out. Did dad tell us when he got off the phone? Did mom tell me when she realized that I was becoming very disturbed, and feeling neglected? The only thing I'm sure of is that I didn't figure it out on my own.


You know how family is: you have relatives, who live far away and for whom you care, but in reality, they are little more than acquaintances who have an almost legitimate demand on your attention; then you have family: people who go out of their way to spend time with you and love you in clearly demonstrable ways, even when you don't deserve it. Well, I have so many relatives that I would go hoarse before I could name all of them, but I have a fairly small family. Among those in this smaller group of family, I had two aunts and three uncles, one cousin, and my grandparents (both my mom's parents and my dad's mom). No matter what their failings, and they have them, they always went out of their way to be family: they moved to the same city, or they invited us over whenever they could, or they came over to help when we needed it, or they took care of us kids for awhile.

My cousin Todd was our hero. He could eat a full meal (enough for three) and then be hungry in two hours. He used to go woodcutting with us when we lived in a house that only had wood heat. He had the best rants ever. In fact, when I really want to express my anger in a humorous way, I channel Todd, "O come on! Can't believe . . . just, aaaakhkh!" Print can't really do it justice, either in its tone or in the humor we found in it, but he was our hero, and he was on the phone to Dad.


"Here, I'll give you my knuckle-ball," uncle Ed said as he pitched the wiffle-ball for us. It was one of the best days of the summer, and Uncle Ed kept pitching to us after all the other adults had gone to do adult things. It meant a lot to us that he kept pitching, but it means a lot more now. Uncle Ed had to be hurting, he was partially paralyzed on his left side and couldn't walk without dragging his leg, but he kept pitching, and we all had a great time.


The neighbor boy ran up to the house through the little pathway between fences while Dad talked to Todd again. He was carrying something in his shirt . . . kittens, he put them on the ground, they were wet. I don't remember how many there were, but they had been ours until we gave them to the neighbors, after their momma said that they could have them. I don't remember how many there were, but one was dead and another wasn't doing well. He said that he'd tried CPR, or maybe he did CPR while we were watching -- it's fuzzy-- that saved the second one, but the first one never woke up.

We took them to Mom; to this day I can't think of anyone who is better of taking care of sick kittens. She was raised around animals and I guess that prepared her for kitten emergencies. She wrapped the dead baby in a towel for Dad to bury when he got home. My dad is my hero.

She had us wrap the wet kittens in towels too, but only until they were dry, then she took the little one who had to be revived and kept it near her neck so that her body heat would comfort him. I think we fed him from an eye-dropper for a week. I don't remember that he died, but I suspect that is just my memory trying to protect me from it; we all put a lot into trying to save them. I think we needed them to be okay.


I think that was the last time I remember seeing Uncle Dan when he wasn't angry. He took us to Dairy Queen for Blizzards, a new menu item at the time, and one which I will never like. I talked to him a few years ago and found out that he liked Uncle Ed and that his death hit him hard, I didn't even remember that the two men, from different sides of the family, had even known each other.


I hate someone, I don't know who, but I hate them. Dad went and helped to clean up. He went to help Aunt Net and Aunt Sue clean Uncle Ed's grey-matter from the walls of his bedroom. To this day, I don't know who it was who decided to abdicate their job and force a widow to do that. I guess that she wouldn't have needed to, if his insurance hadn't expired a day or two earlier, but as it was, she could not afford to hire anyone for the job, or to pay the deposit.


We were in the back seat of Uncle Ed's car. Aunt Sue was driving, we were looking for animals on our side of the road (part of the game Uncle Ed had made up to entertain us while we traveled to Multnomah Falls Lodge for lunch). He had assigned point-values to animals and you got to add up the points of any animals that were on your side, as long as you declared that you had seen them. Most animals had a 5-25 point-value, I think, but horses were 200. Uncle Ed didn't even try, and we were a little bit frustrated. Then we passed a horse farm on his side, he had made up the game and assigned horses such a high value because he knew about the farm; what he did not know was that the farm had either shut down or had moved the horses to greener pastures. It was great.

When we got to the lodge, at which my aunt and uncle had intended to buy us fantastic gourmet lunches . . . we ordered hamburgers: we went from the far side of Beaverton to Multnomah falls for hamburgers . . . and we loved it.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

So Relieved it Wasn't Luke

You scored as Yoda. One of the last jedi masters. You are very wise and think much on every decision that you make. You believe that tradition and values are important to follow. Now if only your swamp hut had a de-odorizer.



Han Solo


Obi-Wan Kenobi


Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader


Leia Organa


Darth Maul


Luke Skywalker


Padme Amidala


Boba Fett




Which Star Wars character would you be? (pics)
created with

Friday, May 11, 2007

I Hope that this is Just a Joke

Please tell me that this is a joke. Tell me that it's like the Daily Show and that the people interviewed were either trying to sound stupid or the questions were switched for fakes 90% of the time. Okay, so I had no idea what "the coalition of the willing" was, or who all was included in the Axis of Evil, though I know what was intended by the term, I just discared it as an attempt to steriotype people.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A LOST Theory

If you are planning to watch LOST but haven't yet, don't highlight the following text (WARNING SPOILER stop reading if you are using an RSS reader). Thank you Arwen for the idea.

When John was walking up to see Jacob, he crossed a line of stuff that looked like rocksalt mixed with ash. I don't know exactly what it was, but I do know that some ancient magical practioners used circles of salt to seal a spirit in the land of the living. Most often this is accomplished by drawing a circle and enclosing a pentagram within it, using the salt (which, in some ancient cultures, represents elemental Earth), and whatever other ingredients are called for by the spell (I'd guess that the ashes of the dead [slaves?] would be best, since "the greater the cost, the greater the power" seems to be a common belief connected with magic).

So, maybe most of the Island is a giant pentagram (see: blast door diagram, which shows an almost complete pentagram) enclosed by a circle made out of some magical mixture (hidden on most of the island), and what John stepped over was one of the lines of the pentagram. The "monster" might be the spirit that the "natives"/ "others"/ "hostiles trapped and are using for something (on the nature of which I speculate below). Also, if you die within the pentagram, your spirit too may be trapped (which is why Richard asked Ben if his mother died on the island, with a worried look).

Also, I think that the current others, sans Ben (those called the "hostiles" by the Dharma Project) might be the crew or descendants of the crew of the blackrock (I say crew because Richard didn't age in between conversations with Ben as a child and now); BTW - the Hanso foundation has a "life extention project," and Magnus Hanso was the captain of the Black Rock, a slave trader that is on the island. Maybe the hostiles are the Black Rock's crew and they killed M. Hanso, and that is why the Hanso foundation was out to get them.

I'm pretty sure from the diagram that The monster is called "Cerberus," ironically pronounced "Care- Bear- oos." And, I think that the monster/ trapped spirit is tasked, as others have said, with sorting out the subjects for the Dharma project. Here's my theory: the monster is used to kill off "bad" people (though I'm not sure yet just what constitutes "bad") because the Dharma project's aim is to make people immortal and bad people must not be allowed to receive immortality. That is also why killing bad people is good by others' standards (cf. Locke's and Ben's dads).

Oh, and I think John will be fine because of his marvelous healing powers.

That is all.


A Link in the Chain

Right now, one of my favorite series is the one written by Scalzi and beginning with Old Man's War. It is Sci-Fi, so most of you will probably not go out and buy it, but Scalzi is an excellent author, and his work is among the most gripping I've yet read. I find myself criticizing other books for wasting my time on a boring intro since I've started reading him.

Anyway, Scalzi recently wrote an interview with Pluto that is short and humorous, and I thought that, at the very least, Trey would enjoy it.

Parental Caution: Scalzi is rather vulgar at times: in his books, he's writing about war and, in an attempt to avoid romanticising it (I assume), he tries for realism in the language used by soldiers and in certain of their sexual behaviors (though I don't remember anything more graphic than an episode of desperate housewives) not to mention graphic violence: as usual, you should read it (and take notes on anything to which you object to your children reading, so you can quantify it) before you hand it to your kids. I suggest reading books with them and discussing how they can make better choices than the characters portrayed.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Okay, So, I Know That It Doesn't Count, But . . .

Uncle Ty likes to play with Bennett and, when he gets all happy and smiley, Uncle Ty says, "I like you."

We were in Target today and Bennett said it back. That's right, three monthes old and he answered as clearly as can be, "I like you." It was very loud and clear and Gina almost dropped her gourd. It was SO cute, and I'm rather pleased that he decided to say it to me. Yes, I know that it doesn't count, since there is essentially no chance that he knows what he is saying, but he did sort-of say his first word (and sentence) to me today.


Monday, May 07, 2007


So, I just googled my name again today: I now share my name with a minor character in a role-playing universe, you know, like D&D. It figures, I'm totally nerdy enough to be in a D&D type of game, and uninteresting enough to be a minor character. It looks like I'm not human (but remain unaware of it), have no ambition, attract crazy women, and work part-time in a supermarket. They did get a few things wrong: I do too have ambition, and I don't work in a supermarket . . . yet . . . and I was born long before the year 8200.


Humorous Homilies

Okay, so in the last several months, I've heard some good sermons from the most unlikely people. I was so busy working on preparing for visitors a few nights ago that I didn't remember that the TV was on until I heard a Carlos Mencia sketch where a preacher was talking about all of the reprehensible things that he had done and then he'd say, "and JE-sus . . ." and everybody seemed to forget about the horrible things he was doing and cheer when he said "JE-sus." It soon became obvious that he was doing terrible things and then using Jesus as a way to manipulate people into letting him get by with it. Then Jesus came in and tackled him. Go Jesus!

I don't regularly watch Mr. Mencia, and I'm not suggesting that you do (he tries to be as offensive as possible) but I think he was right: I'm sick and tired of people thinking that Jesus is just a way to manipulate other people, and I want it to stop. Can't somebody run out and tackle Pat Robertson, and that moron evangelical leader with the drug-dealing prostitute, and anyone else who uses the language of faith to get out of taking responsibility for his or her actions?

Before that I heard Christopher Titus' End of the World Tour. The critique of American Christianity (Catholicism) was very good, but I can't find a clip, but I did find the section on racism, responsibility, and apologising. Note the interplay between comedy and horror when you see it for yourself:

Finally, Craig Ferguson gives an autobiographical monologue on his own experiences as an alcoholic, which someone (I don't remember who) posted a few months ago:


Thursday, May 03, 2007

Copyright Madness

A story from Ed Felten (I found it through Making Light), says that certain online entities want to copyright numbers: dibbs on 0-9, and all combinations thereof.

I'm sick of copyright laws going wild. We give preferential treatment to companies by allowing them to renew copyrights much longer than actual people can, and we've allowed the laws to extend copyright benefits until long after the creator has died (in most cases, until long after his children have died) and cannot benefit from the proceeds. This is ludicrous, once the author is dead and his children have reached adulthood (not including children made from his frozen . . . assets, after he is dead, since they would likely be made for the very purpose of extending copyright by money- grubbing companies), the copyright should expire and the work should enter the public domain.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Tag - I have Characters

Josh Brown at inadvertantly tagged me (I'm more of a lurker than commenter on his blog, and it was a general tag)

Three Characters I’d Like To Be:

Corran Horn (Star Wars Expanded Universe):

Tom Sawyer:

Tyrel Sackett:

Three Characters I Would Like To Be Real So I Could Meet Them:

Bean (Ender's Game, and the Shadow series by Orson Scott Card):

Galadriel (LOTR):

Cadsuane (Wheel of Time), I'd settle for one of Amys, Bair, Melaine

Three Characters That Frighten Me:

Jageng, the DreamWalker in The Sword of Truth series (couldn't find a pic, so I used Auger from EFC, since I always imagine him in the part):

The Lord of the Nazgul (LOTR):

furies (no picture because of nudity so here's one for fun):

I tag everyone who has finished more than half-a-dozen books since January.

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