Sorry, sir. I seem to be commenting on everything.
— Data, in STNG: Encounter At Farpoint
M got me "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" from (what's what place called?)
NetFlix (thanks) for me the other day, and I watched it.
It wasn't very good, but by was of recompense I had the fun
of writing a
And speaking of secret organizations of spies and assassins, I'm
going to reprint a large chunk of
Salon piece by Tim Grieve, because I dunno if it's only available to premium
subscribers or anything.
First Justice, now the FCC: No NSA investigation
Here's a story that may sound familiar even if you haven't
been listening in on anybody's telephone calls.
this month, the Justice Department's Office of Professional
Responsibility said that it couldn't investigate the role Justice
Department lawyers played in the NSA's warrantless spying program
because the Bush administration refused to give investigators the
necessary security clearances. Now the Federal Communications Commission
says it can't investigate the role telephone companies appear to have
played in the NSA's telephone database project because the NSA
activities are classified.
In a letter
to Democratic Rep. Ed Markey,
Kevin J. Martin,
the former Bush-Cheney campaign lawyer who chairs the FCC, says we can
all rest assured that members of the FCC "take very seriously our charge
to faithfully implement the nation's laws, including our authority to
investigate potential violations of the Communications Act." However,
Martin says, "the classified nature of the NSA's activities" leaves
the FCC "unable to investigate" the allegation that the telephone
companies violated the act by turning over call records to the NSA.
Isn't that comforting?
Good to know that our national security is being protected
against investigators looking into wrongdoing by those
charged with protecting our national security.
Or something like that.
And just not to end on that sour note (while still ending before
it gets too far past my bedtime), here are
lyrics to Le Tigre's "What's Yr take on Cassavetes", and
a Barbelith thread
that I googled up on Le Tigre and their role in feminist punk and
so on; the reference to What's Yr Take is on page two.
(I found Le Tigre by stumbling on "Nanny Nanny Boo Boo" while
randomly linking around in the iTunes music store and thinking
it was a promising track title.)
So to demonstrate my deep dissatisfaction over our iBook
problems the other week,
I ordered another one.
(That'll teach 'em!)
As Ian points out, this indicates that I wasn't really paying
attention, as everyone but me knew that they were about to
announce the Intel-CPU replacement for the iBook.
They did in fact do that, and being nice guys they put
my iBook order on temporary hold and sent me email saying
might I want to order a non-obsolete MacBook instead?
So I did, and even though it initially had an expected
delivery date sometime next week, it came yesterday.
So now the little daughter and I no longer have to try to fit
both of our iTunes music collections onto a single computer whose hard
disk is roughly the same size as one of our iPods, and I have
a new toy to play with (and the little boy wants to know
when he's getting his own computer).
I copied over all my iTunes music (about half an hour over
100MBps direct-connect ethernet), and the comparatively tiny
amount of other data I had on the iBook, and I let it download
the 300MB or so of updates that it wanted to get from Mama.
I set up sshificating out to davidchess dot com (with the
thought that I might someday switch weblog maintenance from
custom Perl scripts here on the ThinkPad to, say, rsync
from the MacBook).
I downloaded the Eclipse SDK and discovered that the one that
I downloaded probably doesn't support OS X on Intel CPUs so
now I'm using up most of the house's bandwidth downloading
the Stream Stable Build, 3.2RC5, from last Friday (leading
edge!), which it sounds like perhaps does.
And mostly I've got a new toy to play with.
Pretty much it's just a standard Computer, but there are
various odd and fun things (the peculiar noncontiguous
keys, the glossy screen, the built-in camera that when you
first power it on and start setting up it turns on so you
can take an Account Portrait of yourself, which is really
good User Experience and very Appley).
It's small and light and fast and shiny.
And also it means that there's yet one more thing to do
for awhile instead of either writing in my weblog or
thinking thoughts worthwhile writing down in my weblog.
Sorry about that. *8)
But we'll see what we can do...
Yet more additions to the Universe of Content:
(two very different books on Zen, and one good piece of SF), and two
of The Townie Project (Joe and Mitch both fall in love;
Joe gets to move his paramour in, but Mitch is going to
have to wait because the place is full up).
Sentence o' the Day:
process these inveterate scholiasts generated innumerable and
increasingly rarefied conceptual superstructures."
And from there, via a search on
our Concept o' the Day:
the Axial Age.
Just in case you were out of things to think about.
"life recorder" you can wear on your lapel that constantly
records is still a few generations off: 200 gigabytes/year for audio
and 700 gigabytes/year for video. It'll be sold as a security device,
so that no one can attack you without being recorded. When that
happens, will not wearing a life recorder be used as evidence that
someone is up to no good, just as prosecutors today use the fact that
someone left his cell phone at home as evidence that he didn't want to
Trends in American Politics:
Bushlandia v. reality,
and also Blue Nation,
Bill Clinton to George W. Bush
(I was especially struck by the "on honesty" numbers).
Look out for:
princess leia naked
halle barry naked
naked princess leia
Hm, yes, well.
Single-minded lot, eh?
Let's try another.
What's in there?
Nothing, officer, nothing at all.
Aren't there criminals out there somewhere you should be arresting?
For some reason I find this incredibly funny. Go figure.
Contents of the bag of holding:
4347 gold pieces
3 uncursed scrolls of blank paper
2 uncursed scrolls of earth
an uncursed scroll of light
an uncursed scroll of charging
a blessed potion of levitation
a cursed potion of sickness
3 uncursed potions of healing
an uncursed potion of extra healing
a wand of secret door detection (0:13)
a wand of fire (0:0)
a wand of striking (0:4)
a wand of digging (0:7)
a cursed wand of make invisible (0:6)
a wand of make invisible (0:6)
an uncursed luckstone
why don't you put your hand in and find out?
Michael Sklaar (of World
Exchange dot org) pointed me at an article about the
New Ties project:
The NEW TIES project is growing
an artificial society using computer
programming that develops agents -- or
adaptive, artificial beings -- that have independent behaviours.
And this reminded me of the various evolving-program systems
that I've written over the years (I published a paper about
the evolution of Iterated Prisoners' Dilemma players in
"Complex Systems" way back in 1988, Before The Web).
So I dragged out the most recent version of them (which I'd
started to code but never quite gotten working before my
attention wandered), and got it working and fired it up.
The little beggars figured out how to say "47" very
They also mastered "say the same thing as everyone else
is saying" nearly as fast, and "return 47 times the
first input variable" only a bit more slowly (only a
few thousand generations).
Right now they're working on a more complicated problem:
every generation every individual (A) is paired with
another randomly-chosen individual (B), and each of them
is run on the current input vector and allowed to return
If A returns a number exactly one higher than B's number,
then A gets a really good score (-1, actually, since in
this case low is good).
Otherwise, A gets the absolute value of the difference
between A's number and B's.
(B doesn't get any score at all at this point; it has
to wait until it's in the A role earlier or later in
And at the end of the generation the N worst-scoring
things are replaced with (possibly-mutated copies of)
the N best-scoring ones.
So what I expected is that the whole population would
settle on some number (zero, say) for awhile, and then
someone would evolve who returned one higher than that
(one, say) and get lots of points and therefore have
his descendants dominate the population until everyone
was returning one, and then eventually someone would invent
two and that would spread, and then three, and so on.
But for some reason that's not what's happening.
They start out converging on something, say one,
and then they invent two, and then three, but
then I turn my back and they're all back at two
again, or one.
I can't figure it out.
Could be a bug, or just something that's not occurring to me
about the system dynamics.
Which is part of what makes these things so much fun.
In the old days, running Pascal programs on ancient IBM PC's,
I'd be happy to get a few tens of thousands of runs in a day.
The current run of this latest thing (even in Java running
inside IBM Rational Software Development Platform and spitting
a line of text into a GUI every single generation), is somewhere
in the five millions.
The system settled on "abs(X/X)" for quite awhile, but
the popular meme at the moment is of the form:
which is to say, basically, two
(it's been up at least as far as three, and I think four,
and I'm clueless as to how it managed to come down again).
X is an input value that's uniformly distributed between
zero and one thousand, I think;
I can't think of any reason the special behavior when
X is less than eleven would be advantageous, but it's been
in there for several hundred thousand generations now.
Peculiar thing, evolution...
(Ooh, I turned my back and it's doing just "(X/X)" now.
And now (approaching generation eight million)
it's doing "((X+X)/min(X,X))"!)