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Sunday, June 10, 2001
matt rossi on the end times

stile on the end times (also a story from da woppy)

  • From: Thomas Lee []
  • Subject: Check out this photo

Hey Stile, I've been a regular reader of your site, but this is the first time I'm writing you. Because I thought I would share this with you, and if you wish, you can post this on your site too.

This is a picture by Kevin Carter, which apparently won some huge prize in 1994 for photography. This is a little girl in Sudan, about to die of starvation, and that vulture is lurking not far from behind, awaiting her imminent death.

This photo had a huge impact in the world, and had aroused many controversies and suspicions. Many people wondered about what happened to the little girl. It's a pity that not even Carter himself knew.

Carter acted on his profession as a photographer in the News, pressed the button, drove away the vulture, and watched the little girl wonder off. 2 month after he received his life's greatest honor, he commited suicide. Conflicting conscience?

Images like these appear around us everyday, and tragedies like these are happening everyday too around the world, would we just find ourselves passing by, take a picture, and forget about it? Makes you think, eh?

Life is shit. That's all I have to say about it anymore. Africa is fucked up beyond belief. It's the white mans colonization experiment gone horribly wrong. Now the multinationals (oil and drug companies) have moved in to buy out the puppet governments and dictatorships, and it's the innocent and helpless who suffer and die and are used as guinea pigs for untested AIDS drugs.

Almost HALF of EVERYONE in Africa has AIDS.

40% of all women have been raped. Depending on where you are born, you are brought into a living death sentence.

Sudan has been in the midst of a civil war for years, yet we never hear about it on the news.

If a baby scrapes its knee and is Israeli or Palestinian, the whole world knows and it's front page news. Why is that?

Don't ask what the picture of the guy(?) to your right has to do with this little rant. I have no fucking clue. I just thought he was very very attractive and looked like he needed a friend. Ugh.

will leitch on sports and temping (via aldaily)

Sports is escapism, and it’s the best kind, better than movies, drugs or sex (the first is too expensive, and the last two always seem to find a way to allow neurosis to creep in the back door).

Which is worse: being forced to temp because of severe financial constraints and an apparent inability to find a job even remotely related to my field of expertise ... or finding that a day of temping is the highlight of my week?

Saturday, June 9, 2001
short stories (via dirtynerdluv)

short sounds (via carey :)

Friday, June 8, 2001
beyond the science wars

Ziman uses the controversy as a "bully pulpit" to expound on what really worries him: the gradual emergence of what he calls "postacademic science," the convergence of academic and industrial modes of research. University research is increasingly supported by industrial sponsors and mission-oriented government agencies that exercise control of the research agenda and restrict the dissemination of findings that is so essential to the process of science. This potential bias is likely to further erode public confidence in science. He sees no way to buck this trend. Scientists must find new modalities to maintain their collective integrity. Scientists, sociologists, philosophers, and historians alike would be better served paying attention to the issues surrounding postacademic science than continuing the petty battles of the science wars.

Thursday, June 7, 2001
richard powers book reviews in spike magazine :

cool looking book via zen calm ink :

AI is the answer, don't stop believin (via metafilter)

summore flash :) (via haddock) and ellen's presents (also via zen calm ink)

site redesign brought to you by Amorphophallus titanum (via gulstream)

Wednesday, June 6, 2001
bill kristol and other national-greatness "neocon" conservatives move left (via plasitc)

Kristol, Brooks, and Wittmann, having joined the McCain crusade as nettlesome members of the conservative movement, ended it cast out of the movement altogether. And ideology has followed sociology--with the national-greatness conservatives willing to entertain ever more radical heresies against conservative orthodoxy. As followers of Strauss, neocons had always held that public virtue--not economic efficiency or individual freedom--was the measure of a good society. Their journals, Public Interest and Commentary, never objected to the welfare state per se--only the efficacy of specific policies. During the cold war, neocons joined the anti-government crusade because it gave them allies against communism abroad and against relativism at home. But, with their bonds to the conservative movement loosened, Kristol and his allies have begun to drop the strategic anti-statism of their neocon ancestors and are beginning to develop an economics that doesn't worship at the altar of unregulated free markets.

Tuesday, June 5, 2001

"The mere accumulation of knowledge and the acquisition of wisdom does not make a god," answered the other rather impatiently. "Look!" A shadowy hand pointed toward the great blazing gems which were the stars.
Kull looked and saw that they were changing swiftly. A constant weaving, an incessant changing of design and pattern was taking place.
"The 'everlasting' stars change in their own time, as swiftly as the races of men rise and fade. Even as we watch, upon those that are planets, beings are rising from the slime of the primeval, are climbing up the long slow roads to culture and wisdom, and are being destroyed with their dying worlds. All life and a part of life. To them it seems billions of years; to us, but a moment. All life."

--robert e. howard, the striking of the gong [see the movie!]

We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming a "sub-creator" and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbor, while materialistic "progress" leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.

--j.r.r. tolkien


[t]he heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be myth, comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history. It happens—at a particular date, in a particular place, followed by definable historical consequences. We pass from a Balder or an Osiris, dying nobody knows when or where, to a historical Person crucified (it is all in order) under Pontius Pilate. By becoming fact it does not cease to be myth: that is the miracle…. God is more than god, not less: Christ is more than Balder, not less. We must not be ashamed of the mythical radiance resting on our theology. We must not be nervous about "parallels" and "pagan Christs": they ought to be there—it would be a stumbling block if they weren't. We must not, in false spirituality, withhold our imaginative welcome. If God chooses to be mythopoeic—and is not the sky itself a myth—shall we refuse to be mythopathic?

--c.s. lewis


I believe, you seem myself only in such a way, because you direct your view too much toward the exterior of the things. You cannot state anything over the reality, if you describe only the visible surface of the things, which everyone has before eyes. The reality is behind denDingen, and one can speak only in pictures of it. You cannot pack it, as you pack a cat with the tail. If such a speech seems to you mysteriously, you understood not yet much from the reality.

--hans bemmann, the stone and the flute [translated from the german :]

Monday, June 4, 2001
watched young frankenstein :) and this documentary on hbo, king gimp about our scarce affections, "I see myself as an old and very lonely man whacking off to pornos."

also tried to watch six feet under, but iron chef was on, too. morimoto v. flay II! i thought for sure flay was gonna lose.

more color russian photographs by sergei mikhailovich prokudin-gorskii (1863-1944) via feedmag filter and chinese rural architecture by olivier laude (text by ronald g. knapp) via kerplink

Friday, June 1, 2001
[disclaimer: i only ever took an econometrics class in college. this is all way beyond me, but i read about it anyway :]

a brief maxent tutorial

Statistical modeling addresses the problem of modeling the behavior of a random process. In constructing this model, we typically have at our disposal a sample of output from the process. From the sample, which constitutes an incomplete state of knowledge about the process, the modeling problem is to parlay this knowledge into a succinct, accurate representation of the process. We can then use this representation to make predictions of the future behavior of the process.

Exponential models have proven themselves handy in this arena, and for that reason have earned a place in the toolbox of every statistical physicist since the turn of the century. Within the broad class of exponential models exists a family of distributions, maximum entropy models, with some interesting mathematical and philosophical properties. Though the concept of maximum entropy can be traced back along multiple threads to Biblical times, only recently have computers become powerful enough to permit the widescale application of this concept to real world problems in statistical estimation and pattern recognition.

the principle of maximum entropy

The Principle of Maximum Entropy states: When one has only partial information about the possible outcomes one should choose the probabilities so as to maximize the uncertainty about the missing information, as shown by Jaynes [8]. In other words, the basic rule is: Use all the information on the parameter that you have, but avoid including any information that you do not have. Therefore one should be as uncommitted as possible about missing information.

Also, entropy is a measure of randomness. By applying the principle of maximum entropy, one obtains the most random distribution subject to the satisfaction of the given constraints. We might also say, that if there is not complete information about a distribution, the optimum estimate is as unbiased as possible, and so choose the most random possible distribution. Choosing any other distribution would mean, including additional information not given to us and by that not keeping to the principle.

Jaynes proposed that Shannon's measure of uncertainty (entropy) could be used to define the values for probabilities. The principle of Maximum Entropy provides that if there are n possible outcomes then, in the absence of additional information, the outcomes should be presumed to have equal probabilities. So no outcome is preferred over any other.

clearing up mysteries (father and son :)

There are several mystifications and a couple of mysteries pertinent to MaxEnt. The mystifications, pitfalls and traps are set up mainly by an unfortunate formulation of Jaynes' die problem, the cause célèbre of MaxEnt. After discussing the mystifications a new formulation of the problem is proposed. Then we turn to the mysteries. An answer to the recurring question 'Just what are we accomplishing when we maximize entropy?' [8], based on MaxProb rationale of MaxEnt [6], is recalled. A brief view on the other mystery: 'What is the relation between MaxEnt and the Bayesian method?' [9], in light of the MaxProb rationale of MaxEnt suggests that there is not and cannot be a conflict between MaxEnt and Bayes Theorem.

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