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Mocking Eye

'Tis all in vain?

Entertainment!--Dystopia, Russian Soldiers and Mind Reading.

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The most compelling fiction, science or otherwise, often depicts a breakdown of society. Here's a list of 50 dystopian movies some of which are actually good! My personal favorites are Equilibrium, A Scanner Darkly, Akira and Dark City. Some other movies on the list are also quite good, but don't deserve a special mention. Here's a video of some Soviet soldiers dancing what looks to me like Kaзaчoк. My plan to become a cyborg is one step closer with a Japanese-developed system that reads EEG signals and directs an avatar in Second Life. Here's a video of this in action. They don't seem to have turning quite down, but this is quite good for a totally non-invasive system!

Fractals, Strawberry DNA, and Making Bento

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While I slowly write more abstract and long posts, I decided I can have smaller posts with links and reccomendations and such. This is the first, we'll see if the habit sticks. A post on one of my favourite computer scince blogs about speeding up integer arithmetic using fractals should show you they're good for stuff other than just pretty pictures (and he also has a previous post on the subject). Ever wanted to extract some DNA at a party? Or from just about anything using household items? Well, now you can. Who said Kuro5hin was dead? Most of my food is eaten as packed lunches, what better way to increase meal satisfaction than applying the Japanese Bento ("boxed lunch") aesthetic. But what if buying lacquered cherry woodg boxes ain't your thing? don't despair, you can still have pretty and mobile food on the cheap. If that didn't quite pique your interest head over to the ultimate bento blog for incredible pictures and recipes. Like one of my favourite blogs, Marginal Revolution, I intend to talk about things that I think are under-appreciated, and not just add momentum to the meme juggernauts. Hope you'll enjoy it.

Invest in Peace?

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This is an old writeup of a proposed way to settle some of the obstacles to peace in Israel. It's still has relevant as it was then, and the predictions of failure in Iraq (past the removal of Saddam) by its authors were completly vindicated. I've interspersed the writeup with my comments.
Some people think that peace between Israel and Palestine is impossible. One way to solve an impossible problem is to first remove a major constraint to its solution. If the now-simplified problem can be solved, the constraint can be re-added subsequently. For instance, if we remove the financial constraint which always puts peacemaking at a lower priority than military action we could ask: How might the Mideast conflict be solved given funding on the scale of the pending war with Iraq? The wars on Afghanistan and now Iraq are seen as an investment, with a "Return on Investment" (ROI) of establishing new, quisling governments willing to discount the price of oil and natural gas. Could a business case be made that the ROI of a massive investment in peace will be much greater than the ROI of a war? The cost of the pending war is very high, estimated recently at $200B by a presidential advisor in the WSJ, not including the human capital. Rather than spending these vast sums on munitions and destruction, could large scale spending on peace not only avoid the devastation, but actually create wealth through economic growth tied to consumer and investor confidence? Significant peace dividends could come in the form of a reduced dependence on foreign aid as well as enhanced human capital.
No longer pending, the Iraq war has already cost over $400,000,000,000 (zeroes for effect, that's $400 billion).

The Scorpion and the Turtle

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A turtle was happily swimming along a river when a scorpion hailed it from the shore. "Dear friend turtle!" called the scorpion. "Please let me climb upon your back and swim me to the other side of the river!" "No," replied the turtle, "for if I do, you shall sting me, and I shall die." "Nonsense!" replied the scorpion. "If I kill you in the middle of the river, you shall sink, and I shall drown and die with you." The turtle thought this over, and saw the truth of the scorpion's statement. He let it upon his back and began swimming towards the other side of the river. Halfway across, he felt a sharp pain in the back of his neck. "Why have you stung me?!" cried the turtle as his body began to stiffen. "Now you shall die as well!" "Because it is in my nature. I can not do different."
Sun Tzu said:
So it is said that if you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know others but know yourself, you win one and lose one; if you do not know others and do not know yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.
Knowing yourself is vital to a battle, but knowing your enemy is vital to your very existence. Don't be tempted to idealism just to be stung by a scorpion!

Paprika!

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Paprika is Satoshi Kon's latest animated movie. And while all of his work has been amazing, this one is in a separate class, a true masterpiece. The scene design, character art, animation, all superb. It was an absolute pleasure to watch. Every line, dot, and splotch of color was used to maximal effectiveness. Then, on top of that, an amazing soundtrack that immerses you into the world of Paprika. Paprika deals with something that Kon tends to touch upon frequently: the interaction and conflict between dreams and reality. Tired of interspersing this theme into his work, Kon takes it to its pinnacle, breaking down the separation and letting the view revel in the hot fusion. This movie was an absolute joy to watch, and that's something that happens to me very rarely. Go and watch it! I think it's on DVD, but I'm not sure. Either way, do yourself and everyone else a HUGE favor and watch the Paprika trailer!

Memetic Convergence

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When I read Mark Liberman using the neologism lolsingularity, I knew I had to register some domain names pronto. Soon, both the .info and .com domains were under my ownership, and a rudimentary page was up. Soon it'll look good, too! The lolmemes are accelerating in both the appearance of new variants and in their propagation, hence, the natural conclusion is that soon we will reach a lolmeme singularity, or a lolsingularity. What will happen? We don't know. It may be good or it may be bad. The lolmemes may enslave mankind, or we may eventually learn to coexist. In order for neither of these fates to be truly effective, we must become one with the lolmemes! Anyways, THE LOLSINGULARITY IS NEAR HERE!

How College Kids Imagine the United States Government

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III. How College Kids Imagine the United States Government THE PRESENT DAY —Did you hear the news, Mr. President? The students at the University of Pittsfield are walking out of their classes, in protest over the war. —(spits out coffee) Wha— What did you say? —Apparently, students are standing up in the middle of lectures and walking right out of the building. —But students love lectures. If they’re willing to give those up, they must really be serious about this peace thing! How did you hear about this protest? —The White House hears about every protest, no matter how small. —Oh, right, I remember. —You haven’t heard the half of it, Mr. President. The leader of the group says that if you don’t stop the war today they’re going to . . . to . . . I’m sorry, I can’t say it out loud. It’s just too terrifying. —Say it, damn it! I’m the President! —All right! If you don’t stop the war . . . they’re going to stop going to school for the remainder of the week. —Send the troops home. —But, Mr. President! Shouldn’t we talk about this? —Send the troops home.
Read the rest of this absolutely hilarious article at the New Yorker

Prescriptivists Anonymous

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Find that you have a language anger management issue? Thankfully, the brilliant minds over at Language Log* have created a 12 step program, just for people like you! Each step is accompanied by a droll description and references to detailed, enlightening, and otherwise edifying readings that should put your mind at ease and assuage your wrath. Covered are:

First They Came...

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First they came for the hackers.     But I never did anything illegal with my computer,         so I didn't speak up. Then they came for the pornographers.     But I thought there was too much smut on the Internet anyway,         so I didn't speak up. Then they came for the anonymous remailers.     But a lot of nasty stuff gets sent from anon.penet.fi,         so I didn't speak up. Then they came for the encryption users.     But I could never figure out how to work PGP anyway,         so I didn't speak up. Then they came for me.     And by that time there was no one left to speak up.
                           -- Alara Rogers Source (via zeroday blog). For Original