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Mocking Eye

'Tis all in vain?

Democracy and Lizards

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A cynical view I somewhat share, provided by the genius of Douglas Adam:
‘On [that] world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people.’ ‘Odd,’ said Arthur, ‘I thought you said it was a democracy?’ ‘I did,’ said Ford, ‘It is.’ ‘So,’ said Arthur, hoping he wasn’t sounding ridiculously obtuse, ‘why don’t the people get rid of the lizards?’ ‘It honestly doesn’t occur to them,’ said Ford. ‘They’ve all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they’ve voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.’ ‘You mean they actually vote for the lizards?’ ‘Oh yes,’ said Ford with a shrug, ‘of course.’ ‘But,’ said Arthur, going for the big one again, ‘why?’ ‘Because if they didn’t vote for a lizard,’ said Ford, ‘the wrong lizard might get in.’

Magnetorheological Beds?

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Inspired by this concept of a "Love Bed" (pictured here) [[posterous-content:hprvBwDbAjzbilgvEEls]] I thought of ways to make a similar bed without all the complications inherent with a slotted system. That is, the surface of the bed would need to have that sort of give, while firmly supporting all others. The Tempurpedic beds are made of memory foam which is visco-elastic polyurethane. Unfortunately, they are uniformly hard across the whole surface. It would be possible to create a mattress made out memory foam strips of varying visco-elasticity, but this wouldn't work with different body types, or sleeping configurations (I often like to sleep diagonally when I'm alone). So, I remembered about magnetoreological fluids. These are fluids (and potentially other materials) whose visco-elasticity changes in the presence of a magnetic field. Specifically, we are interested in those which become harder in the presence of a stronger magnetic fields. This occurs because there are magnetic particles suspended within a medium, that are arranged into increasingly rigid structures in the presence of an increasingly strong magnetic field. These have inherent disadvantages though, such as the weight of the suspended particles (iron is common) and the settling of the particles over time. These would make them seem inappropriate as a material for a mattress. Instead, I'm thinking of a foam mattress, perhaps the very same memory foam mentioned above, which is permeated by magnetic particles, varying the hardness of the foam in much the way it works in magnetorheological fluids. Potential obstacles would be the need to maintain rather strong and large magnetic fields. These can be solved by replacing a full permeation of the foam with a mesh of tubes filled with a magnetorheological fluid. Whatever way, I think some sort of bedding that does not actually affect body position, and compensates as much as possible for the unfortunate effects of gravity is both necessary and forthcoming.

Radical Centrism

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You are trying to decide what policy best helps the environment, or how to improve the lot of the poor, or maybe you just need to know how to vote in the primaries. Let's have a look at the field: the right is too religious, war-mongering, corporatist and at times overly naive. The left is too socialist, bleeding heart, protectionist, and at times overly pessimistic. Libertarians are too crazy, sociopathic, self-centered, and at all times overly utopian. And those are just three of the biggest ones. Of course,these are generalization, and don't apply to large swathes of the demographics represented by these labels. But there are fundamental problems with all these world-views, as well as any others that choose a way to view the world and their favourite method to tackle its problems before doing anything else. Introducing Radical Centrism. My conception of the idea is a little bit similar to the radical center movement, but differs in what makes it radical. The movement's name is derived from "radical" indicating "extreme". My Radical Centrism takes its name from the non-political meaning of the term which arose from the latin "radix" meaning "root". Thus, Radical Centrism views the problems of political ideologies to be buried deep with their very roots--their base assumptions and methodologies. Radical Centrism holds these positive values:
  1. Reason
  2. This is the method by which any ideas must be described and deliberated.
  3. Patience
  4. Rushing into decisions usually has more dire consequences than being too late.
  5. Compassion
  6. It is better to do something that helps someone than something that doesn't hurt anyone.
And peldges these negative ones:
  1. No Assumptions
  2. A problem cannot have any axioms. Priors must be dealt with according to positive considerations above.
  3. No Axis
  4. Locating oneself on any ideological axis when solving a problem introduces invisible assumptions that will prevent arriving at a preferable solution.
  5. No Conclusions
  6. Never make final decisions. Always be ready to update your priors and your solutions.
An appropriate alternative name for Radical Centrism is Political Bayesianism.

Introducing Gargoyle - the Geospatial Web in Your Pocket

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I have just finished v0.1 of Gargoyle (yes, it's a Snow Crash reference). Gargoyle is a python application that periodically queries your location via GPS and then checks to see whether you are withn range of an item on your watch list. It is written to run on Maemo devices such as the Nokia N800 and N810 (and possibly the 770, too). The watch list can contain such items as "any chinese restaurants with ratings of 3.5 stars on yelp and above" or "any locations mentioned within the last week in boingboing posts" (GeoNames is invaluable here). They won't be defined in quite the flowing natural language seen here, but the possibilities are still mind bogglingly exciting. If you are wearing a bluetooth headset, it then it uses flite to read to you some information about the item on your watchlist based on a particular prompt for that item. This will be something like "[Name] is [Distance] away, rated [rating] stars, and located at [Address]" for the restaurant, and "This location is mentioned in [Post_Title], [Post_Author] says [Location_In_Context_Sentence]" for the BoingBoing tracker. But all this stuff is to come. Here's what the current version, which mostly amounts to a proof of concept does: it tells you the name of the town you are in using geonames, and then it finds the single nearest pizza place within half a mile and tells you its name, address, and distance. So you want to test it out? Here it is: Gargoyle v0.1 (WARNING: ugly, hacky, raw code. Not for the faint of heart.) But there are some things that you need to do before it runs:
  • You need the following packages besides python: python-gpsbt (it's on the Maemo Extras repository)
  • You need flite installed (same repo).
  • An Application ID from Yahoo that you need to insert in the right location in the code. You can get them HERE. Note that the Yahoo links point to the same address with https:// instead of http://, it will even redirect you there after you login. you'll likely have to manually change the address back to http://.
I think that about covers it. Play around with it if you'd like! Comment with suggestion, criticisms, and whatnot. Don't start coding patches and such just yet, since this is a POC. I'm going to actually follow a design I had previously prepared in creating Gargoyle v0.2, and that's when I will welcome many patches, design discussions, and so forth. This software is provided under a BSD-style license found in the header.

Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker, Tits

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Other good ones are nigger, kike, spic, wop, chink, gook, what have ya. Still reading? Good. Words carry meaning, they carrry feelings and intentions. And sometimes they are meant in an aggressive manner, sometimes they're meant to hurt you. However, unlike a bullet, a fist, or a blade, they can't really stop you in your tracks. More importantly, they shouldn't. If you have the choice of letting a word make you miserable, and you choose to do so, instead of taking in the intent without permitting it to hurt you, you're putting that weapon in your enemy's hands. Why would you do that? Many people insist on the taboo status of certain words. But they are giving someone the power to say a word and wound them without raising a fist. How can that be beneficial? Why is there a word that your kid can say that will make you smack them on the mouth or wash it out with soap? I see people giving power to racists and bigots and just plain assholes, merely by agreeing to be offended. It is meant to hurt, but why succumb to your enemies when you can choose otherwise?

E-Mail and Making Appointments

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I'm just wondering why you can only make appointments at places by phone rather than email. When you email them (if they have one posted) they might deign to reply with availability but request you call them. Do they think that a phone is safer in regards to identity? or are they just afraid of this newfangled technology? In an age where the corporate world can't survive without email--and some younger people think it's already outdated--how can it be anyone sitting at a customer service level can't use it for any purpose beyond answering a cursory question with a cursory answer?

Oh the Electric Cars We Could Have Had!

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In the early 20th century London was full of electric busses that soon went away, displaced by internal combustion machines. Why did they go away? The Economist has a great article telling the story:
... ... Whether the fraud was truly a tipping point for electric vehicles is, of course, impossible to say. But it is a commonplace of innovation—from railway gauges to semiconductors to software—that the “best” technology is not always the most successful. Once an industry standard has been established, it is hard to displace. If Lehwess and Martigny had not pulled their scam when they did, modern cities might be an awful lot cleaner.
Read the rest!

Some Particle Physics: The Higgs Boson

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The best explanation of what the Higgs Boson is, what it means to science, and generally talking about particle physics in a widely accessible way thot I have ever read: The Higgs boson..the “God Particle” (ick…sorry Leon). The Holy Grail of particle physics. (Um, also there’s that dark matter stuff but who knows what it might be…) Where to begin? The Higgs boson is one thing, or many, there, or not, waiting to be discovered, if we can. But what is it? Why is it? Does it exist at all?
The rest is here.

Share My Posts!

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Just added this pretty little Share This link to the blog. See it on the right? Click on it! You'll see a large list pop up with all kinds of social bookmarking and news sites, as well as the ability to share by email, right there. So, digg me, del.icio.us me, tailrank me, stumbleupon me what have ya. Happy Sharing :> p.s. if you use some site that's not on the list, leave a comment, and I'll add it!

Intuitive, Visual Musical Instrument and Sexy Food Music

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Apparently, Yamaha has been developing a new MIDI instrument called the Tenori-On. Here's an overall demo video that shows many of the awesome functions of this device: Now, it's finally commercially available. one sold on ebay just recently for $1202 or so. Guess what I want for $gift_giving_holiday? Here's the music video for Simian Mobile Disco's Hustler: Sexy chicks are soon introduced to food, with interesting results. Warning: nearly NSFW. Visually and audially delightful. (tenori-on via infosthetics)