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Wednesday, July 31, 2002
from ftrain:

She had just split from a boyfriend of 9 years, was still living with him in an uncomfortable apartment limbo. I was working a tech writing job in downtown Manhattan, and I would sneak into the bathroom in the afternoon and think of her while leaning against the wall with the light off, my heart beating. Then I would write long emails, the kind I wrote in college, which said everything but. I wrote them hoping that what my words would be like a vase, that what I did not say would become like the emptiness inside a vase, that she would see this hollow and want to fill it with herself. But my words were not like a vase. Or even a bucket.

from dr. wallace:

The famous Vase optical illusion is perhaps an apt metaphor for the concept of consciousness. Two identical faces appear to stare at each other in profile, illustrating the looking-glass quality of self-understanding. But the illusion also depicts something entirely different, the profile of a ceramic vase. As with many optical illusions, it is impossible to perceive the faces at the vase at the same time. Consciousness may likewise be an illusion. It seems to be there, but when we look closely it looks like something very different.

[:: comment! :]

Tuesday, July 30, 2002
causality and entropy (via scitech)

Until recently, scientists could not fully explain how the second law arises. In the basic equations of motion, both those devised by Isaac Newton and the later ones of quantum mechanics, time is said to be reversible. The equations remain true even when time flowed backward.

But the equations of thermodynamics, which describe the collective random motion of many trillions of particles, do contain a definite direction of time. Heat always flows from warm to cold, never the other way around. Entropy rises, never falls.

As early as 1876, a physicist, Josef Loschmidt, pointed out that paradox. If the motion of each individual particle is reversible, why is their collective behavior irreversible?

Dr. Evans finally figured out the answer in 1993. The irreversibility arises from causality, that events in the future cannot affect the present. From that, he showed that ordered systems became exponentially less likely while the probability of disorder rose.

conformal grids and elliptic curves (via slashdot)

Dr. Lenstra knew he could apply elliptic curve theory only after reading a crucial sentence in Mr. de Rijk's book. For esthetic reasons, Mr. de Rijk explains, Escher fashioned his grid in such a way that "the original small squares could better retain their square appearance." Otherwise, the distortion of the picture would become too extreme, smearing individual elements like windows and people to the point that they were no longer recognizable.

"At first, I followed many false leads, but that sentence was the key," Dr. Lenstra said. "After I read that, I knew exactly what was happening."

Escher was creating a distortion with a well-known mathematical property: if you look at small regions of the distorted picture, the angles between lines have been preserved. "Conformal maps," as such distortions are known, have been extensively studied by mathematicians.

In practice, they are used in Mercator projection maps, which spread the rounded surface of the earth onto a piece of paper in such a way that although land masses are enlarged near the poles, compass directions are preserved. Conformal principles are also used to map the surface of the human brain with all the folds flattened out.

[:: comment! :]

Monday, July 29, 2002
hey, harriet poops and pees on me until i put her away. it sounds pervy, but it is not! keke :) oh, also slamball is pretty entertaining :) it is teh fu+uR3!

[:: comment! :]

Sunday, July 28, 2002
9 beet stretch (.ram via metafilter)

also discreet music (winamp works ok)

[:: comment! :]

Saturday, July 27, 2002
charlie stross interview (via slashdot)

slashdot interview with richard wallace

[:: comment! :]

Friday, July 26, 2002
hey, i've actually been kind of busy lately :) i hope i have not lost any readers. hope! but i have been on the interweb, LURKING... on my own weblog! keke :) lessee. on the technology front it looks like inifiband won't be available any time soon. i don't really get it nor should i really care (i think i just liked the name! and the promise :) but it saddens me nonetheless :( on a more positive note! this bluebottle thingie looks really cool. here is what they are saying :)

'Screenshots?'
'Very interesting!'
'Despite all its power, the simplicty of Oberon/COmponent Pascal -- astonishing after C/C++ and even Java/C# -- makes it perfect for high schools -- as well as for "non-professional" programmers (like physicists, linguists etc.)'
'Juice lets you create applets for webpages, rather like you can with Java. Unlike Java, they run very fast. It's not surprising that they do, because they're compiled into native code! I'm not talking about ActiveX applets, which (I think?) are compiled by the developer to native code, restricting them to the one platform they happen to run.'

and so on! also my dad sent me an article on building 300-mm fabs that was pretty cool :) um, what else? a neat science weblog of sorts via the ars forums and another one (sort of :) via j-bradford-delong! oh and the FT ran a pretty good series on immigration this week! (here's my metafilter post on it :) and the UN development program released its 2002 human development report. the economist i thought had an interesting (if predictable i guess :) take on it! btw, i have named my rat harriet :) i know!

[:: comment! :]

Monday, July 22, 2002
re: motivations

I don't believe that that is the context in which she should have been making decisions. However, I do think it's reasonable to expect someone to ask themselves, "Is this the kind of group I want to be working for, and is this the kind of work I want to be remembered for?" Riefenstahl answered those questions for herself, and that is how history will remember her.

in defense of "triumph of the will"...

Secondly, regardless of the subject matter, in Will, Reifenstahl wrote the dictionary for cinematic language. She used camera, editing and sound techniques that we still use (and understand) today. Previous films were excellent, without a doubt. Lang's work, Eisenstein's work, all of that work was phenomenal, but Reifenstahl perfected it. It's not like Welles didn't borrow heavily from Triumph of the Will in Citizen Kane or anything, thereby making his movie more affective and effective.

riefenstahl in perspective

The only reason anyone fusses about her particular situation is because she enjoys a measure of fame--Riefenstahl is ultimately little different from the millions of other Germans who served the Nazi state in one minor capacity or another without winding up with buckets of blood directly on their hands. Like them, Leni Riefenstahl doesn't really owe the world an apology for her romance with the National Socialists--but neither does the world owe it to her to excuse her doing so.

the whole discussion is really good! i just found these pullquotes particularly interesting, if not peculiarly enlightening, for some reason :)

[:: comment! :]

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