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Thursday, October 30, 2003
this week's thoughts

Loosely inspired by John Baez's wonderful series This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics, these are really just little essays on anything at all. The only similarity is that they won't come out every week. Some of the early ones have a `science meets the real world' feel about them, but this is already wearing off.

religions in literature

This list contains 33,992 citations from literature (primarily science fiction and fantasy novels and stories) referring to actual churches, religions and tribes. This list is intended for literary research only. This is not a source of information about religion.

[:: comment! :]

Wednesday, October 29, 2003
toshiba reactor (via slashdot)

A Japanese corporation wants to thrust the Interior community of Galena into international limelight by donating a new, unconventional electricity-generating plant that would light and heat the Yukon River village pollution-free for 30 years. There's a catch, of course. It's a nuclear reactor.
underground restaurants (via reason)
But securing a seat at Mamasan's is not easy. The restaurant, which also happens to be Lynette's apartment, has no sign, and the only way you will ever find it is if someone tells you where it is (a quiet street, a hidden door, up a dark stairwell to the top apartment).

[:: comment! :]

Tuesday, October 28, 2003
maps and clocks

Critical opalescence is a strikingly beautiful effect that is seen when water is heated to a temperature of 374 degrees Celsius under high pressure. 374 degrees is called the critical temperature of water. It is the temperature at which water turns continuously into steam without boiling. At the critical temperature and pressure, water and steam are indistinguishable. They are a single fluid, unable to make up its mind whether to be a gas or a liquid. In that critical state, the fluid is continually fluctuating between gas and liquid, and the fluctuations are seen visually as a multicolored sparkling. The sparkling is called opalescence because it is also seen in opal jewels which have a similar multicolored radiance.
literature and radio
Standing at stage center with your toes to the footlights, you're as close to a thousand people as you can conceivably be. Out there on the prairie where even close friends tend to stand at arm's length, such intimacy on a grand scale is shocking and thrilling and a storyteller reaches something like critical mass, passing directly from solid to radio waves without going through the liquid or gaseous phase. You stand in the dark, you hear people leaning forward, you smell the spotlights, and you feel invisible. No script, no clock, only pictures in your mind that the audience easily sees, they sit so close.

[:: comment! :]

Monday, October 27, 2003
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/elegant/

http://www.pbs.org/lawrenceofarabia/

[:: comment! :]

Sunday, October 26, 2003
renewal

regeneration

[:: comment! :]

Saturday, October 25, 2003
ping pong

The film may be titled PING PONG and certainly that is the surface level of the film, but ultimately PING PONG is the best Japanese film I’ve seen in years. Completely different from 99.9% of the films we associate with the entirety of the Asian market. This isn’t a film about kung fu or martial arts. It isn’t a horror film or crime movie. This isn’t some strange bizarre film dealing with deeply perverse and sickening imagery. This isn’t a film regarding the repression in the society and a love that breaks through it all. This isn’t a film concerned with any of the genres we typically associate with the area...

PING PONG is the best film I’ve seen this year thus far. I found the film on DVD and bought it, watched it 3 times the first day I had the DVD. At the Japanese Academy Awards it was Nominated for seven including Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Lighting, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress and Best Picture. It lost Best Picture to a film I haven’t seen called THE TWILIGHT SAMURAI, which basically swept their awards… a film I must see obviously.

battle royale

There are movies that are bottles of nitro being transported through an unspecified Latin American jungle road journey which will certainly end in the deaths or certain mutilation of all those concerned in the transport of said materials. BATTLE ROYALE is just such a film.

I’m not talking about physical deaths, I’m talking about the spectacular type of swan song deaths in a metaphorical sense. The swan’s dive into molten rock to arise as a phoenix. This film would do that to its distributor... it would touch off a national debate that would both burn and transform the studio into a bastion of freedom within American Distribution Companies. However...

There is no American Distribution company that will even dare come near BATTLE ROYALE for distribution. Why? Because while we in the United States like to pretend to be in the center of a free society, the truth of the matter is hypocrisy is the ruling class of the day. There is an air of goose-stepping in this country when it comes to the freedom of art.

[:: comment! :]

Friday, October 24, 2003
itron

The ultimate goal of the TRON Project is to create the TRON Hypernetwork (also know as the Highly Functional Distributed System [HFDS]), a vast network in which literally billions of computers will be linked together either directly or indirectly. The overwhelming majority of the "computers" in the TRON Hypernetwork will be "intelligent objects," in other words, computerized devices based on the ITRON architecture. Therefore, the first step in creating the TRON Hypernetwork is drawing up the ITRON specifications that will allow for ITRON-based computer systems to communicate with each other across networks.

posix

What is POSIX? POSIX is the Portable Operating System Interface, the open operating interface standard accepted world-wide. It is produced by IEEE and recognized by ISO and ANSI. POSIX support assures code portability between systems and is increasingly mandated for commercial applications and government contracts. For instance, the USA's Joint Technical Architecture—Army (JTA-A) standards set specifies that conformance to the POSIX specification is critical to support software interoperability.

[:: comment! :]

Thursday, October 23, 2003
being english

About eight years ago in Osaka there was a Scotsman who, when presented with his Alien Registration Card a few weeks after arrival, refused to accept it because it listed his nationality as igirisu, England. He insisted on being identified as being from Scotland (sukottorando), or, alternatively, Britain (eikoku), but the Ministry of Justice in Japan lumps you all together as English. He didn't back down, and cut up the card on the spot, which is illegal. I think he was detained for awhile before consular officials smoothed out the matter.
space war
The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots. And as you go forth today remember always your duty is clear: To build and maintain those robots. Thank you.

[:: comment! :]

Wednesday, October 22, 2003
sondra clark

By the age of 7 Sondra Clark (SC) was a published author, and today at the age of 13 she’s authored five books including her two latest published this year, “You’ve Got What It Takes” and “You Can Change Your World.”
isabella v.
The story you are about to read is true. It involves a fugitive heiress, guns, money, and layers of Internet intimacy and deception. It is a mystery that takes place at the edge of technology. And it is unlike anything you've ever read before.

[:: comment! :]

Tuesday, October 21, 2003
1. http://www.scene360.com/ARTdirect_JamesJean.html

2. http://suicidegirls.com/words/Sam+Kieth/ ^via carey^

[:: comment! :]

Monday, October 20, 2003
1. SFA - (at least) it's not the end of the world? | groupe duran-duboi

2. we fail - martin-h / sofake ^VIA carey^

[:: comment! :]

Thursday, October 9, 2003
the lynchpin of its economy

FOR sale: shares in an industry weakened by huge overcapacity, lamentable profitability, opaque balance sheets, seemingly interminable bad loans, dreadful balance sheets, worse management, an economy that has lurched from recession to weak recovery over the past 13 years, and the unwelcome attentions of the international rating agencies who have downgraded the industry's debt continuously since 1989. Such are the attractions of Japanese banks, shares in the biggest of which have risen by almost 90% since their low in April. Shares in two of the biggest, Mizuho and UFJ, have respectively risen fourfold and fivefold since then. Last week alone, UFJ’s shares rose by a third, which caught the attention of Buttonwood. What, he wonders, is happening when Japanese banks, among the world’s biggest (Mizuho is only pipped by Citigroup as the world’s largest bank by assets) but weakest (no Japanese bank makes the top ten when ranked by market capitalisation), become the best-performing stocks over the week and, indeed, over the past few months?

Whisper it, but perhaps the world is indeed changing and Japan and its financial system are coming to grips with their problems. On September 10th, this column stuck out its neck and prophesied that the worst might be over for Japan. Under its new boss, Toshihiko Fukui, the central bank, the Bank of Japan, seemed to be trying harder to create inflation (ie, end Japan’s chronic deflation), especially via asset markets. And the government seems to have sharpened investors’ appetite for risk by, in effect, reducing it. In essence, this has meant turning the clock back: worries about credit risk have been reduced by making sure that nothing big—especially, nothing big and financial—is allowed to fail, a return to Japan’s old model of socialised credit risk.

their country cannot remain a sleeping giant

Japan's basic problem is not economic. Some have wondered why a country filled with talented people has been so stubbornly unwilling or unable to reverse its economic decline—the longest any industrialized country has had in history. The reason is politics. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has been dominated by leaders who draw their support from key constituents—construction workers, rice farmers, government employees. For these groups, the past 10 years have looked pretty good. The government has shoveled money at them, bankrupting the Treasury, retarding growth, but keeping them happy.

To give some sense of the scale of the problem, the writer Alex Kerr points out that between 1995 and 2005, Japan will spend about $6.2 trillion on public works. "That's three to four times more than what the United States, with 20 times the land area and more than double the population, will spend on public construction in the same period," he notes. Other favored groups get similar treatment. The ruling party's powerful factions, allied with a corrupt bureaucracy, have created a system to maintain their power. You have to break it before any reform is possible.

In the past few weeks Koizumi has declared war on the LDP's old guard. He won his election within the party, then reshuffled his cabinet and, for the first time in Japan's modern history, did not fill it with representatives of the various factions. He has begun tackling construction spending and the postal services because they are at the heart of the LDP's vote-producing and money-getting machine.

As a symbolic victory, none is greater than Koizumi's sidelining of Hiromu Nonaka, the last of the great LDP kingmakers, who exercised power mafia-style, using blackmail, money and threats. On announcing that he was retiring from politics, Nonaka launched a bitter (and for Japan highly unusual) attack on the prime minister, saying, "I'll devote the rest of my political life to fight the biggest battle yet against the Koizumi administration." Other old-line LDP members have made similar statements. It suggests that Koizumi is finally hitting them where it hurts.

[:: comment! :]

Friday, October 3, 2003
response to gulfstream which got ate, gah!

i think they're fine, but in the context of a press conference or whatnot it asks politicians and the press to engage in counterfactual reasoning, (1) which i think tends to drag discussions offtopic...

i wonder, tho, if new evidence or information (2) can be made available and admissible by going through hypothetical situations!? cuz if it can, then wouldn't that make the world (or the interpretation of it :) more bayesian, as opposed to frequentist? (3) (4) (deductive v. inductive? (5)) i.e. by raising hypotheticals to update background knowledge or frames of reference, (6) must the process inherently act within the realm of belief?

or perhaps one doesn't have to reserve a frequentist interpretation of probability--holding for a class or population--if the principle of (belief in!) maximum entropy (7) is adhered to: "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." (8)

of course, there are also different interpretations of entropy (9) and paradoxes and half-truths (10) that can confound logic, so thankfully we have computers to enable our subjunctive thinking (11) habits :D

reply to carey, which got ate? :D

> will we have flying cars?

fun!

> will you dare to theorize on possible future states of the union or multiunion? Snow Crash? Looking Backward?

i'd be more diamond age, or greg egan, or bob black... :D i dunno. but i see hints now and then... joseph schumpeter's "on the concept of social value," robert heilbroner's speculations on non-acquisitive societies, chris davis' idle theory, bernard lietaer's and keith hart's complementary currencies, paul hawken and amory lovins' "natural capitalism," richard layard and daniel gilbert on happiness, samuel bowles & herbert gintis on social capital, yochai benkler on new modes of production, harold bloom's "global brain," jesper hoffmeyer's biosemiotics... plus more conventional stuff like public choice theory, linear programming and iterative game theory, or like ronald coase's theory of the corporation, hernando de soto's "mystery of capital," peter drucker's "age of social transformation," bradford delong and michael froomkin's "speculative microeconomics for tomorrow's economy" and more! [all concepts and authors googlable :]

like there's no way i could synthesize it all! (it's way beyond me :) but i sorta see resonances or whatever of it all around. like it has a kind of inevitability about it, not quite technological determinism or like pierre teilhard de chardin's 'singularity' or anything, but like i can almost see it taking shape in the 'noosphere'... it's kinda hard to describe :D although for some reason i see it taking place concurrently with the proliferation of concepts in physics, particularly, i guess, the adoption of tsallis entropy and bayesian probability for some reason and TOE's whether process physics, graph theory 'n spin networks, string theory, computational equivalence or the causal interpretation of quantum theory... interspersed with (advances/progress in) 'post-human' biotech/genetic engineering/neuroscience and more regular computer and telecomm stuff... and its cultural/global ramifications, etc... which i've kinda been exploring :D

also see :

oh and!

> like israel. I get it. Sweet!
> I guess I've never had a problem being labelled an idealist, but also... uh... I'm lazy.

like israel, but you're right -- don't ascribe to unintended consequences what you can to petty shortsightedness.

> no thanks necessary. that's my job. i have my Idealist Member's Card as well as my Hypocrisy Club Card here, which states that I'm allowed to complain while reclining comfortably. Also, I 'accidentally' rubbed the organ donor statement off of my license.

i was just trying to go through (rhetorically illustrate!) the typical arguments and motivations about why people do stuff -- moral conviction, commutarian altruism (or rawlsian utilitarianism :) and self interest. which i guess roughly maps onto maslow's hierarchical pyramid of needs! which coincidentally is what wright patterned 'the sims' on :D like i think it's helpful to distinguish "normative" (or "prescriptive" -- what you should do) analysis with "descriptive" analysis -- what is or how things are, as the lingo goes by uh, applying non-monotonic logic "i.e., that kind of inference of everyday life in which reasoners draw conclusions tentatively, reserving the right to retract them in the light of further information." um, which i think consequently allows you to reconcile your (rhetorical you :) Idealist Member's Card and Hypocrisy Club Card!

> at Best Buy.

wal-mart.

> Underworld was kind of a mess. But I only paid $4 cuz i gave the guy a 20 for two 7 buck tickets and he gave me three fives and a 1... you know... because... wow, cool!

yes, but did gina like it? like if she didn't i think it wouldn't be too unseemly to feel some level of self-satisfaction at vindication :D in your face!

[:: comment! :]

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