BLOT: (04 Jul 2010 - 02:30:09 PM)
I found the below picture on the Internet, this morning, and immediately giggled at it. Then, trying to locate some elements of truth to the whole thing—which book is this, who publishes it, for whom, etc—I came across this PZ Myers' post: Frickin’ electricity, how does it work?.* Myers' name tends to add some weight and I immediately assumed it was more likely to be real. However, I began noticing a few things. The link he provides no longer works. Not a huge biggie, there were reasons for Bob Jones Press to take it down. Secondly, the book is described as a soft-cover in the item listing, while the book pictured (if you notice) is more than likely a hardcover. Still, that could be a show copy that goes around to fairs and stuff. My skeptical nature makes me wonder, though, is that really the book? Or, has people continuously saying "this is the book" created a truth by consensus? I mean, it a book that some one wrote, in good, no pun intended, faith; but I'm not convinced it is exactly the book everyone is saying it is. Note the second image, which shows the cover of the book that it is supposed to be. Notice how it doesn't exactly match up the cover bits you can see on the inside line?
However, you do have the orange bar so distinct on both covers. Maybe this is an early version? Or a partially photoshopped version? Any one have any suggestions?
* The reference is to an Insane Clown Posse song that includes the lyrics: "Fuckin' magnets, how do they work?". This is one of their many proofs of how life is miraculous and how scientists are stupid for not knowing that. No, I am not making this up, nor even exaggerating.
BLOT: (03 Jul 2010 - 02:31:58 PM)
Couldn't help but be a little astounded at this article: Gallagher Is a Paranoid, Right-Wing, Watermelon-Smashing Maniac. It details a recent Gallagher (as in the dude who is known pretty much solely for hitting watermelons with a sledgehammer) show in which the Gal whips out tons of homophobic comments, racism, slanders on the president, and so forth. Thought I would share, for the sheer surreality of it. Some of the highlights include (according, by the way, to the article):
BLOT: (03 Jul 2010 - 11:15:19 AM)
I've had a couple of long days on campus this week. This is the last of them. It will be slightly over nine-hours all said and counted. Yesterday was a little bit longer, at ten. There are not too bad, but the when you mix the sort of weird, spacey mood at work; it could have been better. I have gotten less accomplished than I thought on a project I am working on*, but I think that's because I am good at building the frameworks for such things but a lot of the content probably shouldn't come from me. I talk to college students like they are in grad school. A lot of other librarians take the high-school approach. I don't know which is better, but I do know if I complete it entirely by myself, someone is going to complain about my level of instruction. I'm not saying I'm right. In fact, having done the tutoring thing before, I realize that I can be quite bad at explaining things. "Just look at the numbers, what do they suggest to you? The numbers? Come on, you see numbers...what do you mean you want to graph this? IT'S JUST THREE NUMBERS, YOU CAN GRAPH IT IN YOUR HEAD."**
After work, I may (60%) or may not (40%) go to the Maker's Local 256 Retro Gaming Night. I want to go, but two longer days at work and missing half of it to start both are against me going. Wanting to go is for. If I do go, I'll likely just take my laptop and
Wish I could make it more exciting, but this week has been an overall bust as far as anything like excitement goes. Besides work and getting some paperwork out of the way for school, I've read Wyndham's
As close as interesting as I can get: I coined the phrase "food-hugger" in frustration last night. There has been a growing demographic of folk who take food not only seriously, but as a substitute for religion. I'm not referring to hedonists who sit around talking about how brilliant some spare rib was, or why roast pine nuts added to hummus can make you want to die because now you know what you are missing in heaven—though they can also be annoying at times—but the sort who know as a commandment that refined sugar is bad, are willing to throw words without meaning your way to convince you; and approach food with faith the way most people approach God. A food-hugger is a person who thinks sprouts can save their soul.
You see variations on the theme to lesser degrees: the anti-genetic modification crowd, the no-fluoride crowd, the only-organic group, the omega-3 worshippers, the "more justified than most but still taking it too far" anti-HFCS crowd. Then you have your full on sprouts eaters and chlorophyll fanatics and macrobiotics lovers and anti-dairy preachers and wave after wave of anti-gluten proselytizers. Tea-drinkers as a whole aren't, but a lot of the new tea-mystique drinkers are (luckily, most of those have moved on to kombucha and pu-erh). The reason I said the phrase, though, was an argument I found while looking up wheat sprouts. Someone made the claim that their health benefits increase such and such (he quoted a vague number like "four times!" right after going on a speech about how the living energy in growing food is required for health, etc). One guy went "No, according to the USDA..." which, for a food-hugger, is like you telling a Christian "My dark Father, Satan, says..." They not only chided him for blindly following the USDA, but also told him that they had no way to convince him of their facts if he wasn't willing to believe them (note: telling someone that you have to have faith in food and science's way of destroying things isn't how you find out the facts about it...comes off as crazy...crazy for wheat sprouts!) and then went on some rant that he had to tell them how a tree is made from a seed. Except, they came out and said "whatever answer you give us, we'll just ask 'why?', so you can't explain it to us!". Because, keep this mind, he said the USDA had one set of nutrition facts and then asked them for clarification of theirs. Never asked a food-hugger for facts, dumbass. They are not it in for facts. They are in for the spiritual effects of rotted vegetable matter on their chi.
*: The project's particulars aren't too important, but it's something of a cross-linking info-dump/repository of digital library tips and tricks for a particular subset of students. Basically, it has a lot of common tasks that they might need to do, cross-referenced, and redundancied to try and maximize their chance of finding the data they need.
**: That is based on a real exchange, though I was actually more reasonable. I assume that's how she heard me put it. She ended up, get this, breaking a pencil so she would be likely to stab me with it.
BLOT: (03 Jul 2010 - 10:33:04 AM)
The Troughton era was full of this sort of thing: The Doctor + Companions land on a planet which is either a primitive planet or, more likely, a colony. There, the people are coming across some grave threat or have been under the grip of some grave threat. Doctor intervenes, gets imprisoned or at least distrusted, ends up getting free: and he and Jamie (in all but one of adventures, the second Doctor had Jamie as a companion) leave while everyone else is celebrating. In
After landing on a planet (complete with quarry to represent a barren wasteland), the Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe (she was through the whole sixth season run after being introduced in the end of the fifth) meander about until they find a strange building. After said building's door opens up, a guy stumbles through. Seconds later, some sort of acid-gas jet comes out and melts him. A moment after, a woman does the same but they are able to get her out of the gas's way. They try and find help for her, and come across the Gonds, semi-primitives living in a higher-than-them tech establishment. They do not go outside because it is a wasteland (only partially true) and it will kill them instantly (not true). Instead, they stay inside and follow the will of the Krotons.
Mostly the will of the Krotons seems to be to feed the machine a couple of up-and-coming bright young folk from to time, folk who are never seen again. Zoe, being one of those little brainiacs that have showed up from time to time, is quickly assessed to be a big deal and the Doctor, knowing something is up, also takes the Kroton's test so that he, too, can be sucked into the machine. Here, they find themselves waking the Krotons up. Strange, crystalline robots who are dialed in to be precisely what would have been considered "ROBOTS FROM SPACE" in a 1950's movie.
Hijinks ensue, with The Doctor pulling his standard "act bumbling but figure stuff out" routine. Troughton gets to wax frustated but loving in this one, as he is want to do. Zoe, for her part, is in one of her less annoying showings; while Jamie is pushed back into a "one step behind" character. He spends most of his time either catching up, being off on his own, or looking confused. He does get in a slight tussle in the first part of the serial, though, so that's a little "Creag an tuire" for you Jamie fans (but only a little). In the long run, the story is about three episodes of story stretched to four, with some of the worst cliffhangers in the series (an eye is looking at the Doctor! a small amount of rocks are falling towards the Doctor!) At least the "Jamie's brain being melted" scene at the end of the second part looks like it could be a danger.
Classic science-fiction, not exactly classic
BLOT: (02 Jul 2010 - 09:09:29 PM)
You know, a month or two ago: I had never really heard the phrase wheat berry. Sure, I knew what wheat was and all that, but the term, referring to the de-husked kernel, had never come up in conversation. Then, at Earth Fare, I found some wheat berry salad and really dug the chewy, nutty texture. Last night, at Garden Cove, I picked up a couple of pounds and decided to try and cooking it myself. This is what I came up: Wheat Berry and Edamame Salad with Fruit and Nuts. It is a vegan dish, and it does take a little bit of time to make, but most of it is waiting. By the way, here's a picture. It's not the best or most flattering, but I would say it gets the point across
Wheat berries aren't too expensive, by the way. I paid about $1.50 per pound, and the cup I use in this recipe would only be maybe a third of a pound. I took that cup of dry WB, and soaked them overnight in about 3.5 cups of water, stuck in the fridge. I added no preliminary flavoring. The next day, I took it out and put it on high heat until it reached a boil, and then brought it to mid heat for a few minutes and then covered and left it on medium. It took about 45 minutes to get to the right consistency.
At about the 30 minute mark, I dumped in a handful of raisins and a handful of dried apples. Maybe a third of a cup of raisans and double that for the apples. Then let it come back up a boil while I heated the edamame in the microwave. It was about a cup, maybe a cup and a half, of edamame. After heating, I added that to the mix and again brought the water to a boil.
The next stage involves adding some raw foods. In this case, it was a half-cup (or less, maybe) of sliced almond and table spoon of sesame seed with a full can of mandarin oranges with about half of their "juice" left. Mixed that together real well and then spooned it out in double cup servings. Topped this with a little bit of salt and a couple of teaspoons of tahini. Overall, the texture was largely "al dente" with the oranges providing just a slightly sweet tang and the rest of the food-stuffs having a bit of a texture. Don't know what I would think of in comparison, but maybe something like small jelly beans. Good, and filling. Just expect to spend a few minutes chewing.
BLOT: (01 Jul 2010 - 09:44:16 PM)
When I first heard of the 2010 version of
First off, though, this is not really a remake. It is what happens if you take the original movie, splice in shards of other movies—including Hammer's
Floating to the top of this semi-Hammer pastiche are lines delivered, by generally strong actors, with stilted speed. Cadence is chewed up by directorial need, tumbling from their mouths with barely any pause between phrases, just to segue into the next ponderous landscape shot. Johston (Joe, the director), may have been right to weigh heavier on his landscapes than his dialogues considering the way they are handled, but that's chicken-and-egg. You know a movie is in trouble when it takes a 30 minute and utterly unnecessary detour into London just so an asylum scene (complete with weird flashes, 19th century torture devices, inept psychologists, and grimy walls) can give way to brief slaughter before we end up right where we started. The movie was going to be two hours come hell or vampire, dammit, so let's pad that baby. If you were to hit the "skip chapter" button all the way through that section, you would lose almost exactly nothing but one plot point, a plot point you could probably guess without having it spelled out.
All leading up to a two stage climax, and while the second stage is touching enough to end the film, the first (and longer) Lupo a Lupo stage is an atrocious CG werewolf caricature that degrades into a videogame cut-scene beating the tar out of a film student's digital art project final. It robs you of the time you need to get any empathy built back up before the second, and better, stage climax hits and the credits roll.
The movie plays out as a good 70-minute movie left too rough at 119 minutes to be worthwhile except as time-waster. A movie, that, with editing and cutting out some of the "CG jumps" (including a bad Gollum impression in a couple of scenes) and repairing a few of the more cartoonish effects, could be passable as an homage to now half-century old horror movies. What we get is a dial set to 11 with nothing to justify such a volume, like a friend kicking up his amp just so you can listen to the rasp of electricity whine cloud over his whisper. Not quite Blech, but as a whole it gets a Meh. There is some promise here, but too many people who knew better were involved, and so I'll hold it to task.
*: according to the
BLOT: (29 Jun 2010 - 03:37:17 PM)
I posted something to my Twitter feed, yesterday, about not feeling work last night. A few of my friends responded in kind. It felt like a complaint, and looked like a complaint, but it wasn't meant to be. It was more, just, I wasn't feeling work last night. The overall "reference" portion of the night was really low, something like 5-6 questions in the first hour gave way to 2-3 questions in the remaining, but I spent most of my time designing a reference website for use in my job. I guess, in ways, as a fairly big support over the virtual library movement, and even an active participant in making such things more efficient, I am the equivalent of the worker who builds a machine to replace himself. Ah, well. Information is gathered different, nowadays, and I understand that. Fact of life, yadda yadda.
Becca, my friend who is temporarily ex-patting over in Spain, sent me a link to Catalog Living, which is a Tumblr feed detailing all those really, really artificial photos used in furniture and such catalogs. You know the type, they have bookcases with dozens of purple of candles and in front of them is an ivory living room suite and blue curtains and no one's house looks like that unless they are in the movies or a catalog shoot. Like this picture, which looks fine until you notice all the damned starfish in the background.
That's about it on my list of the boring that is Doug. I'm working on a long put-off second article in the Philosophy One...oh, Doug series. This one is about historical proofs of God. I have three or four short stories floating around in my head that may or may not ever get typed out. I have a couple of poems, one written and one in process, that might get posted. I've also finished the first series of
BLOT: (28 Jun 2010 - 02:29:02 PM)
I've been wondering about this for a few days, so I figured I would just toss it out, see if I get any feedback. The question is basically this, what technical term, or quasi-technical term, have you seen non-technical (including, but not exclusively, marketing sorts) people annex as a buzz-word, device name, blog topic, lecture note, and so forth? We are entering a time where more people write about tech than understand tech, and it so it likely will only get worse, but I'm curious: what example do you think is the worst?
BLOT: (28 Jun 2010 - 12:21:43 PM)
I'm not sure what the last dream of my first sleep was, but it was kind of tense. Then, there was a scene where I flipped a switch or pulled a leverl, something that warranted a "Let's do this" sort of moment, and then I was woken up by a loud squelch. The power had went out and the speakers on Sarah's computer made some strange dying duck noise. Before I could get back to sleep, the power had been restored and so I got up and got my computer back up and running and double checked that nothing looked too bad off. This would have been about 6:30am.
An hour or so later, I was in another tense dream. This time, it had to do with a flood. The water came right up to the door of my apartment and, in all directions, still brown water floated with not a single ripple. I remember, that was the most terrifying thing: the absolute lack of motion. The dream logic did not make any sense: we had power and running water. Our stuff wasn't being destroyed by moisture seeping into the structure. Just miles of flat water, consuming everything, and the sense that something was underneath and diving into the water was the worst possible thing. For some reason, an important part of the dream was that we (meaning Sarah and myself) had two guests. I'm not sure who they were but they were a pair of outsiders that we had met the night before. Two young women, about Alicia's age, maybe. Out of place. I was frustrated because they had no sense of how bad things were. Sarah was not there for the first portion of the flood, but somehow was later (about the time she showed up, the flood was taking on more realistic characteristics: you could see motion and rooftops and such).
The reason the dream struck me as particularly odd is that most of my dreams involve weird maze-ish rooms, forests, and water but floods are a rare circumstance. They have often showed up when I am violating the rules of my own dream, when I break out of the system I am supposed to be trapped in. After breaking these rules, the water (or sometimes light) will start coming down in droves and wash the dream into nothingness. The miles of flat water with the sense of something underneath definitely matches the odd, Jungian threat structure of most of my dreams. It was just, different.
Right as the water is starting to act like water, *BAM!*. Something slams outside. I woke up, ran around the apartment to make sure that it was something broken or knocked over by the cat, and then go back to sleep, again. This time I sleep for another two hours, kind of fretful. I probably should have just gotten up after the first incident, because outside of the novelty of the flood dream, my sleep was extremely faint and fretful and I don't feel any more rested.
BLOT: (28 Jun 2010 - 02:04:10 AM)
Brownian motion, an almost inconsquential vibration of particles submerged in a liquid, is due to two basic principles: there are lots of molecules of liquid all moving at the same time and, due to the nature of randomness, there are occasional moments where multiple random directions are roughly the same direction. For instance, look at the following lines, where I had Python (the programming language) spit out +/-, 20 at a time, for 10 lines.
As expected, most of the blits and blots are about the place they should be, but look at the sixth line down. Notice how you get something like 10 minuses in a row? Imagine each of those represents a push-pull effect. When you get a plus, 1/10 the force needed to start something rolling is applied forward. When you get a minus, the same amount of force happens backwards. For most of those ten lines, there isn't enough force to move the object. However, in line six, the force to pull the thing backwards is sufficient to pull the object towards you. If you were to glance at this process as only the result, you would assume that the program's purpose was to pull the object closer. Extending that concept, I rewrote the program to find out how many times it would have to repeat until it spit out a line that was all +s. It took, on average, about 800,000 lines. It should have been more (2^20), but that's ok. Assume that everyone on the planet gets 1 line. That would be 6.5 billion lines. Meaning that over 6000 people would get a line of all pluses, on average. If this only occurred for one day only, then those 6000 people would assume they were blessed, lucky, the chosen.
Think of all the factors in your life. All of them. There are too many to really think about, but get an idea. Everyone you know. Every machine you use. Every neighbor you have. Every element of your country. Ever element of your city. In most cases, these things work into a white noise only peaking out from time to time. However, they fit the machinations of a quasi-Brownian motion (technically these things can be interconnected in a way that Brownian motion does not deal with). One day, your alarm doesn't go off on the same day that your boss's wife gives him a hard time AND this is the day that your company's best client goes bankrupt. Three things that have nothing to do with each other and they end with you fired, even though you had been the best worker over the past four quarters. What poor luck, you might say. Or how about going down a six lane freeway and the car to your left decides to merge without looking, as does the car to your right, and the car in front of you starts slowing down at the same time the car behind you speeds up. All of these things happen all of the time on freeways, yet rarely do they happen so close together as to cause a real problem. It is possible though.
This is not to say that all luck is bad luck. How about the time the little girl dropped a five dollar bill and you found it, an hour later, on the day you needed exactly five dollars to pay for a ticket to something? How about the time you left your cell phone in class and the nice kid found it before the bad kid did because the nice kid was staying behind that day but the bad kid had to go home early to get ready for a ballgame? Or the time you find out about the meaning of a word right before you go to a pub-quiz and that is the question that wins the game? Hindsight makes us want to go and say that this is proof of God, or kismet, or The Secret: but how often does one kid stay later than another, or how often does someone drop money, or how often do you need money for something, or how often do you learn new words? Coincidences astound us, but we must keep in mind that missed coincidences are just minor events and they happen all the time. We see patterns and meaning because we are looking for patterns and answers. You could show us a blank wall with nothing on it and we'd assume it was a metaphor.
Take a trip to your local bookstore. What's the chance that you will see two identical modeled cars, the same color, on the same trip to the store? Let's say that over past 30 years that there have been 30 major models of cars (30 per year, that is) and each model has ten or so colors that it comes in: about 9000 types (your assumptions may vary). If you solve the probability that two cars will match, you start out with very little chance: the chance that two random cars will match is something like 99.98% chance against. By the time you have 10 pairs, though, you are down to 99.5% chance against. By the time you reach, 50 cars, the %-against drops to 87.25%. Eventually, when you get 112 cars, the odds are slightly in favor that you will pass two cars of the same description. By the time you pass 141 cars, you are twice as likely to see two similar cars as not. About the time you pass a little over 200, you are nearly ten times likely to see a match as not. Assuming, of course, that my initial number is correct; but even if there are 18,000 unique types of cars; then you are only going to need about 180 cars passed before you see a likely match*.
Now, rather than cars, lets say these are forces in your life. How many real forces impact your life? 200? 1000? How many directions do they push you in, if you thought in terms of big categories? 15? 30? 100? What's the chance that, without any master plan from a benign dictator, that half of the forces in your life will all chance upon pushing you towards the same, or similar, directions? In any given month, it is probably more likely that most days have some minor (teeny-tiney) coincidence. And what about that one day per 90, a single day out of an entire season, how many of those forces might interact then?
What's the chance that you are going to think that it is luck or destiny or punishment? Remember that your brain is hardwired to avoid eating the same poison berries that killed your brother (whether or not the berries or poisonous, but are you going to take that chance?). That's how we survive. The problem is that large systems of events are not always actually patternistic. Some systems are, sure, but not all. Sometimes you just roll boxcars on a pair of six-sided dice three times in a row. Doesn't mean it was your unlucky day. It just means it was a day.
Why do some people have worse luck than others? I'm not sure they do. I think what happens is that all of these events pile upon us, and from time to time add up for ill or for gain, and some of us react differently to those moments than others. Some assume good fortune means they can coast. Some assume bad fortune is a learning experience and correct things. Some invest good fortune for the future. Some wallow in bad fortune until they, themselves, negatively impact things arond them. Also, by the laws of chance, you are just going to have some people who get three years bad "luck" or three years good "luck".
Even if the forces are striking upon us more or less randomly, this does not mean that we all start from the same level. Keep that in mind. The chance that a person in a ghetto will be in the lab that discovers a cure for the common cold is much less than a person who has access to said lab (except in Hollywood). A person who starts on a lower rung of the ladder must make more consecutive climbs up than a person who starts in the middle of the ladder. It's just, well, everyone is travelling up and down the ladder and, historically, it is often when we assume that they are doing better than us because they deserve it that they get the final and most important boost. In other words, sell yourself and convince them that it is in their best interest to be behind you. Luck doesn't give a damn, but the more forces you have aligned in a particular way, the more force you'll have.
Then, who knows, maybe the ladder will break and you get to do it all over again.
*: In reality, it is a much more complicated problem than this, requiring relative slices of probability space and such. Since popularity tends to breed popularity, it is likely that local areas will have a higher density of some cars than other cars, meaning that a couple of models/colors will be unique for 100s of miles while others will be passed a dozen times on any trip to the store. Also, the last 10 years or so are much more likely to represented than the previouls 20.
Written by Doug Bolden
For those wishing to get in touch, you can contact me in a number of ways
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
The longer, fuller version of this text can be found on my FAQ: "Can I Use Something I Found on the Site?".
"The hidden is greater than the seen."