Sunday, December 23, 2007

Billions and Billions

I have been having great fun with Google Sky. It's amazing, some of the views of deep sky objects, particularly galaxies and clusters, that are there. I have been going through the nearest objects in the Abell catalog of clusters, sometimes the detail as you zoom in is breathtaking. But you also find that Abell is definitely not the greatest. It came out in 1957. The distance class I think was determined based on brightness, not redshift, and some of them definitely seem off. Also, I've run across some clusters you would think should be there are but not. I need to start noting those. You can query the Abell catalog here. You can also query the Zwicky catalog online here. I've also been putting in galaxies, groups, globular clusters, and supernova remnants (only 3). I then started on the Arp Atlas of Pecular Galaxies. These have a lot of interacting and otherwise interesting galaxies. (Halton Arp was somewhat of a heretic in the 1970's, positing that some large galaxy redshifts were non-cosmological in origin -- the result of a galaxy being spit out by another galaxy, rather than reflecting the expansion of the universe. He wound up moving to Europe.)

So, I was looking at Arp 280 (NGC 3769) and noticed the beautiful spiral NGC 3726 nearby -- with a comet headed straight for it (joke)!!! So I went to the Google Sky forums to see if anyone else had noticed it -- maybe I'd discovered a comet! But, others in the forums had seen it, but no one had identified it. So, I googled "NGC 3726 comet" and this was the 1st link. This says that the comet is Comet C/2001 RX14 (LINEAR) -- it was only discovered in 2001, pretty cool. The comet is here: 11:31:54.06 47:07:51.11

So I posted that to the forum and got kudoed by the moderator. Ooh, ahh, praise. I then answered another post about a Herbig-Haro object, and then posted the following to someone asking about clusters of galaxies:

Clusters of galaxies are the brightest extragalactic objects in X-ray astronomy. Here's a few of my favorites that google sky gives a wonderful view of:
  • Abell 426, the Perseus cluster, at 3:19:48 41.5117. This is the brightest extragalactic X-ray source in the sky. It's fairly close to us ( 76 Mpc; Mpc = megaparsec = 3.262 million light years -- this (and kpc Kiloparsecs) is the unit astronomers use for extragalactic distances). The central galaxy NGC 1275, radio source Perseus A, is crazy energetic. It looks like there's a spiral in there tearing into something else. Unfortunately, google sky's picture of the whole cluster is not the best. Note also, it's somewhat near the plane of our galaxy (the Milky Way), so there's a fair number of foreground stars obscuring the galaxies.
  • Abell 1656, the Coma cluster, at 13:00:08 27.9765 -- the richest cluster close to us (97 Mpc). The google sky view is beautiful, two giant cD galaxies (100 times as big as a normal large galaxy) in the middle. The bright spots in them are smaller galaxies in the process of being digested -- that's how the cD's get so big.
  • Abell 2151, the Hercules cluster, at 16:05:08 17.7293. This almost looks like 2 or 3 clusters merging. There are several galaxies that look like they are trying to be cD's. There are 3 pairs of interacting spirals. The google sky picture is wonderful.
  • Abell 2199, at 16:28:38 39.5513. This has a single central cD galaxy busily gobbling up smaller galaxies. The google sky picture has wonderful detail.
A426 is kind of disappointing -- in some parts of the sky the galaxies are detailed and full colored, others they are just blobs -- A426 is the latter. But the inlaid Hubble picture of NGC 1275, when I first saw it, blew me away. I spent over a year studying on this galaxy back in the day, suddenly you get to see a close-up!

I think I am going to donate some of my cycles to this particular group mind. The forums seem to have a fair amount of interest in astronomy and not a lot of knowledge.

Read the 4th book of Charles Stross' "Merchant Prince" series, "The Merchants' War. This was a very enjoyable read. This series now has several interesting threads running, I think he would write a dozen of these if he wanted to. The 330 pages doesn't seem like enough for the increasing number of threads tho.

Then read his latest near future novel "Halting State". This has some of the elements of the "Atrocity Archives" world stories -- geeky hero, spy thriller stuff, but only a passing reference to H.P. Lovecraft. This novel has some great concepts and bon mots, but for some reason didn't suck me in as it should have -- I put it down for several days twice.

Music goes well. Wednesdays at O'Neill's I've been getting to sing a few, play and sing backup on a few more. "Let the Good Times Roll" by B.B.King is working out, as is my reggae version of "All Along The Watchtower". I got drafted to sing the lead on "Roadhouse Blues" by the Doors. No one knew any more words than I did (the 3rd verse), so I did the 3rd verse, made up a verse, the 3rd and 4th lines of the bridge (that someone shouted at me -- "Save our city", "Right now"), then the 3rd verse. It was fun to do, I've got the words now, have to try it again.

Listening to Albert King live at Montreaux Jazz in 1973 now. After wanting to track down "Where or When" (Rodgers & Hart 1937), I wound up downloading Frank Sinatra "The Best of the Columbia Years 1943-1952" from iTunes. 97 tracks for $9.95, quelle bargain.

Last weekend went to Cornell for the graduation of my last child from college, woo-hoo!!!!! No more tuition payments!!!!! Drove back from Ithaca NY to Columbus OH in a nice snowstorm, but it only took 2 extra hours. It could have been much worse. Only saw 5 cars, 0 semis in the ditch.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I Don't Know

So, "I Don't Know" was going to be the title of the song I wrote. But, my youngest's album was "I Don't Know Yet", so I thought "Agnostia", that sounds cool, probably pretty much means "I Don't Know", sold. Hence the title of the last post.

Then, 2 hours later, the Google moment. Man, the days of stoner wisdom are so far behind us now -- "You know, no one's ever thought of this before". Self-deception of this sort is now pretty much right out. So, googling "agnostia" comes up with:

  • A punk/experimental/black metal/christian(???) rock & roll band out of Ft. Walton FL that existed 2000-2003. They have a skull and X-bones in the O of Agnostia.
  • A 20-something's blog posting on Dating Agnostia.
  • A species of orc in
"There is nothing new under the sun." With 6.5 billion of us, this is true 99.999% of the time.

I think though, that "the google check" is a feature rather than a bug. Cause for the .001% of the time that you do come up with something original, you can know it.

Given, of course, that you googled the right term. Re some earlier posts, I was excited when googling "folk ontology" came up with nothing -- because everyone was using the term "folksonomy" instead :-(

Just finished the 4th book of The Merchant Princes series by Charles Stross, "The Merchants' War". This series is totally working, numerous interesting threads, the 336 pages seems way too short. This series is generally considered to be patterned after Roger Zelazny's "Amber" stories -- which after maybe 3 200 page novels was hopelessly confused in its narrative direction. Stross's series is the antithesis of this, at this point I think it could go on for a dozen books and still be coherent. Stross is definitely one of the strongest science fiction/fantasy writers out there now.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


So, I wrote a song! Woo-hoo! Left a sample on my youngest's cell phone (from the band room in the basement) so I wouldn't forget it -- then managed to make it upstairs and record it on the pc, with much more suitable lyrics. Very existentially angsty, totally suitable for a 14 year old, just what I was looking for!

Here's a great antitheist site: Putting numbers to it -- the site states: "In total God kills 371,186 people directly and orders another 1,862,265 people murdered." -- nice!

In other minor antitheist activity, I took exception to an article by a contributing columnist in the Herald-Leader, "Christians should lead fight against global warming". But based on "the enemy of my enemy", I e-mailed the author rather than writing a letter to the editor. I protested the presumption of moral superiority it implied and the exclusivism. We went through about 6 e-mails back and forth before mutually agreeing to a draw. He was a young guy with much more energy than me.

I noticed he chose not to comment on this interesting statistic, from a post at KASES forum: while the percentage of unbelievers in the US is now around 14%, of 74731 inmates in federal prisons listed a religious preference, only 156 or 0.209% were atheist.

Oops, just looking at this again, 18381 out of the total population of 93112 did not answer -- maybe something a non-believer would do? That is 19.7% -- which I think ruins this stat -- oh well.

I thought my birds had all deserted me. Last weekend, I saw only our pair of cardinals -- and a hawk/falcon that swooped overhead early in the morning. So I'm wondering, has the hawk scared everything off? (see prior post). But raking leaves yesterday (all done as of a few minutes ago -- only 45 bags as opposed to 60 last year -- the 3 trees we removed seems to have helped) I saw: purple finches, doves, sparrows, a starling, and juncos. So, the birds are still around. I also got a new feeder, and a metal birdbath to replace our ceramic one for the winter.

Music-out-wise, O'Neil's was a little weird Wednesday. The alpha guitarist Lindsay Olive and keyboardist Bob Hopps were backing Paul Hinberg (sp?) at John Michael's "Battle of the Bands". Plus harpist Dave Harrod was out of town. So, I was offered the principal guitarist role on Tuesday, but I had to go to my wife's xmas dinner. My bass player Ron wound up as principal guitar, and he and Harmonica Red were in charge.

Weirdness comes in when young turk Thaddeus showed up and got to play. I wound up backing him. The music wasn't too bad (compared to times in the past when I've gotten stuck playing with this guy), he gave up the guitar he was playing after 1 song (he perceived it as being out of tune, but I don't think it was the guitar). So his next 2 songs, he was jumping around, screaming, acting crazy, and used some obscenities. I was next to him on stage, I finally found a safe spot with the steps between us. But, this did not go over well with the management -- the guy was pretty scary, very much either naturally or chemically deranged -- and we were told to close down at 10 instead of 11.

Hopefully Thaddeus will find a more suitable venue for his performances. When Dave Harrod and some of the others told him he couldn't play at Lynagh's, he got real nasty and wound up being ejected by one of the bouncers very forcibly. That was pretty ugly, hopefully it won't come to that again.

Notice I have been remiss on music in. Hmmm, going into my iTunes to see what's been added lately, it looks like 3441 of my 6408 tracks have had their "Date Added" set to 11/9/2007 10:37pm. I guess that this was some upgrade activity? Too bad, I wouldn't mind having had that data retained. Anyway, new stuff (cut and pasted from an e-mail reply to my most excellent nephew Greg):

  • New Pornographers, Challengers -- reasonably catchy, 3 stars
  • Levon Helm, Dirt Farmer -- the drummer from The Band, a rock icon, 3 stars
  • A Girl Called Eddy, eponymous -- more chick pop, 3 stars.
  • Mike Bloomfield, If you Love these Blues, Play 'Em as You Please (1976) -- the greatest Jewish blues jazz guitarist of the 70s and 80s; interesting, lots of genres with descriptions of the type and instruments used. 3 stars.
  • Radiohead, In Rainbows -- I decided to pay 5 pounds. 4 stars, great work. If you want this for free, get it quick, I got an e-mail they are closing down the download site.
  • Prefuse 73, Preparations & Interregnums -- very interesting, orchestral hip-hop / electronica -- the star of my NYC techo cruise (blogged here), 3.5 stars.
  • Sunset Rubdown, Random Spirit Lover -- very catchy alterna-pop, 3 stars
  • We Versus The Shark, Ruin Everything! --- ditto.
  • Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, Safe as Milk -- 1967 conceptual music (it's almost music ...). Surprisingly more conventional than the classic "Trout Mask Replica", 3 stars.
  • Carl Perkins, Sun Recordings -- the king of 50's rockabilly (he wrote "Blue Suede Shoes") -- I want the band to do "Her Love Rubbed Off", 3 stars.
  • Django Reinhardt, Crazy Rhythm vol 1&2 -- the greatest jazz guitarist of the 1930's (a Belgian gypsy) playing with his quintet (3 guitars, bass & violin), and with various small jazz bands, including Coleman Hawkins. 3 stars, with a half dozen 4 star tracks.
  • The Stella-Vees, Come Round Baby. A Lexington blues band who won some "best blues bands" in Memphis and Louisville last year. I have played with their drummer Steve and their harpist Fuzzy many times, and their guitarist Jason once or twice. Very nice production values, very well done. 3 stars.
Finally off the magazine stack, woo-hoo! Reading a new Charlie Stross, clear to read from now to the new year!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Death From Above

So, it's early afternoon on Thanksgiving Day, I'm watching the birds out the kitchen window as I do food prep for the big dinner, I've turned to talk to my wife, and we both hear a loud thump from the back. We look out the window and on the ground right in front of me, below the bird feeders, is a ~16-20" hawk with a starling in its talons. It sat there about 30 seconds before flying off -- and I turned my head just as it did, so I didn't see much of it then (loser). Checking the bird book, I don't think it was one of the red-tails that we normally have around. I think it was possibly a Cooper's Hawk, but more likely a peregrine falcon -- we have those in Lexington.

Earlier I had counted a dozen juncos -- confirmed as juncos because they like to feed on the ground, and have white on the outside of their tails. Also around a dozen purple finches, which like the normal birdseed rather than thistle that the goldfinches like. Also saw a couple of titmice at my in-laws in Louisville.

A new TOE! A new TOE! Had some fun a couple of days ago attempting to help these links go viral:

Way cool stuff, this is almost like the quintessence of elegance.

Music-wise, had a good time playing at O'Neill's last Wednesday, my youngest daughter sang "No Ordinary Love", my oldest daughter sang "Crazy". They had fun.

Monday, November 19, 2007

New Bird

I can't help it, a new bird is just so exciting ... And the new bird is ... a tufted titmouse. Sparrow sized, gray on top, white underneath, a crested head like a cardinal. Plus, we have two carolina wrens now, and around 4 juncos.

Interesting, to hear evolutionary psychology coming out of another mouth. My wife said "I keep getting these tunes stuck in my head and can't get rid of them. Surely there could never have been any evolutionary advantage in that." -- how wonderfully put!

I of course immediately thought of TOOCITBOTBM. The bicameral mind carried out its programs to the accompaniment of chanting. So according to Jaynes, the tune that you can't get out you head was what helped you get your days work done, prior to 3400 years ago.

The music thing seems to be taking way more of my time. I'm still 2 months behind on the magazine stack. And my iTunes has 242 songs in the "unrated" smart playlist, need to get those processed.

Meanwhile, kind of having a band going has got me back working up more songs, arranging playlists, etc. Our young bass player I don't know about tho. Definitely have to figure out how to get him to play less. He missed Sunday before last and I played bass the whole time. Did better than I expected with playing bass and singing -- the vocals only decided they needed to be in unison with the bass line a couple of times. And, with having to do both at once, I definitely kept the bass lines nice and simple.

Meanwhile, my friend Patrick, who is drumming, and who is almost the archetype of jacks of all trades, that same Sunday revealed another superpower -- he has perfect pitch!

I read something a couple of weeks ago, perfect pitch is a lot more common amongst speakers of tonal languages such as Chinese. Makes sense.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

"Nuns -- No Sense of Humor"

So after calling for jokes to combat theism, I find it odd to have made the following post to the KASES forum, in response to a post about an article claiming that Japanese researchers had found a bacteria which was the true cause of global warming -- which was a clever spoof, that conservative pundits including RL (sorry, I can't put the name here) of course quoted incessantly:
I think we all find such spoofs amusing, and get some good schadenfreude from having the stupidity of conservative pundits prominently displayed.

However, I think we already knew that these guys were stupid. And, a year from now, chances are that the spoof origin will be forgotten and the herd mind will remember only that there was a Japanese study refuting human caused global warming.

"A lie, repeated often enough, will end up as truth." -- Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's minister of propaganda, inventor of The Big Lie.

My point is, I don't think that the spoofers are helping us out. We should use all available bandwidth for facts, intelligent discussion, etc, rather than for misinformation, no matter how amusing.

"Nuns -- no sense of humor" -- The Kargan (the 1st Highlander movie).

Man, how soon can we get rid of our current moronic government and try to salvage our country? The euro is at almost $1.50. Well, maybe the world will be a better place when the United States is a Former Superpower.

Interesting tho, the power of speaking a name, which now includes writing it. Kind of like the Wizard of Earthsea and other fantasy stories, where magic is based on knowing the true names of things, and you don't speak the names of things you want to leave you alone. If I had used the full name of RL, I would at some level validating him -- at a minimum, by the Google search algorithm.

We all remark at work on how, you have a problem you can't seem to figure out, you get someone to come look at it with you, in explaining the problem to the other person verbally, a large percentage of the time you figure the problem out. Our theory is that the verbalization brings more of your brain to bear on the problem.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

New Birds, New Birds!

So the dark-eyed juncos from the last post are confirmed from the bird book. Today:
  1. The juncos were back;
  2. The downy woodpecker was back -- he definitely likes the suet;
  3. A new bird! A carolina wren -- orangish color, teardrop-shaped wren body, a white racing stripe on its head with dark above and below, kind of like a chipmunk. I have seen common house wrens before, identifiable by their 4-note song, A-E-G-C. I noticed the carolina wren in the back trees by his song, a cheep-cheep-cheep-cheep-cheep on the same note I had not heard before. Then it came to the feeders several times.
  4. We have at least 3 chickadees. I thought we only had 2, but there were clearly 3 visible at the same time today. Probably two males, as 1 was chasing another. Maybe the offspring? I heard the chickadees song today, it is still really hard for me to capture bird songs such that I can recognize them. The chickadees seem to be very used to human presence, they were coming to the main old feeder as I was working on the new one 3 feet away.
My wife seems to approve of my birding interest, she has bought me a feeder pole, now with 6 places for feeders and 2 suet cages attached. Need to find some more feeders, preferably eclectic. That's what I do now when my wife drags me to arts/crafts fairs, shop for bird feeders.

Our neighbor 2 doors down has 3 cats tho, and they are definitely staking out the feeders and birdbath. Need to google up cat frustration strategies ...

As of tomorrow, we may have officially have achieved Basement Band. I invited a nice young guitarist (he runs his own software company) from the blues jam to come over tomorrow -- if he would agree to play bass. He accepted, so today I went out our most excellent local guitar shop Willcutt Guitars and got a 5-string Fender Jazz bass (Mexican) and an Ampeg BA115 bass amp, 100 watts, 1-15" speaker. Sounds pretty jammin'. So tomorrow, 2-4, we will have Achieved Band -- drums, bass, 2 guitars, woo-hoo!

So at 1st I'm thinking, "Got the bass, I'm done", then I start thinking, "Wait a minute, what about a PA and mikes?" That has classically always been the real determiner of the existence of A Band -- that someone has sprung for a PA system. Oops. I think I'm going to wait at least a few months on that.

Need to come up with different tags for "Music I am listening to" vs. "Playing music". Suggestions?

Monday, October 29, 2007

"Where Does The Time Go"

The quote is from, of course, "Uncle John's Band", by the Grateful Dead.

Worked Saturday after 3 weekends off, was dragging at work this morning. I get a couple more things done, I think I will try to dispense with working weekends altogether.

My new computer came in, finally got everything transferred over to it, including my Outlook Express e-mail and contacts and my Firefox favorites. System is way fast, most noticable is ripping CDs, 20-25x. It has 3 groups of 4 LED's that you can set to different colors, or to strobe, etc. Apparently the Dell XPS 720 I got is their top of the line gaming computer, and the gamers like this stuff??? I got it because it was the only system Dell sold with 10000 RPM WD Raptor drives. So I have two of those in a 300GB RAID 0 (striped) array, and another 600GB of 7200 RPM drives for content storage. Seems pretty jammin'.

I have spent hours playing with Google Earth in Sky mode. I seems you can only do lookup on extragalactic objects by Messier #, NGC #, common name (Andromeda Galaxy, maybe a dozen or so), and the first dozen or so of radio source names (Perseus A). I've been putting in Abell clusters of galaxies. Sometimes, when it flies into a rich cluster and suddenly dozens of beautiful galaxies come into focus, it's like, holy shit, that's so cool. Finally, surfing the galaxies like the Silver Surfer. I will start checking out if there's a better way to import stuff (more clusters, radio sources, x-ray sources) before I do much more. Also noticed that Wikipedia has only maybe 6-7 articles on clusters of galaxies. That also would be something to pass the time. So maybe I can add being a dilettante astronomer to being a dilettante musician and a dillettante software developer for retirement.

Speaking of which, last Wednesday at the LBJ, only 3 guitarists showed up, and only 3 singers, until about 10:15. So I was playing and singing a bunch, got close to running out of material. Next morning, those songs were really running through my mind strongly. The last two Sundays, 2-4: band practice. Patrick is drumming well, we've got King William singing too!

Listening-wise, "Once" soundtrack is very listenable. Also got some more Ray Charles and Django Reinhardt. The Mike Bloomfield "If you love these blues, play'em as you please" is very interesting. I also have the new Joni Mitchell, the new Prince, and a new Suzanne Vega, after a couple of listens not making much of an impression.

Biked last weekend for probably the last time this year, 31 miles in 2h24m, 1 stop.

Two new birds in the backyard:

  • a downy woodpecker;
  • 3 dark-eyed juncos (I think, still have to check the bird book).
I looked at bird baths for the winter, they look like a pain. Vaguely thinking about ways to keep a bird bath going over the winter ...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Too Much

-- as in the Dave Matthews song. I think I am suffering from some existential / consumerism indigestion.

So, as background, I have recently replaced:

  • My 24 year old 27" console TV with a 52" Sharp Aquos LC52D64U. Under 3" thick, it worked out great, my son was in for his birthday 2 weeks ago and he and his buds hung it for me.
  • My 15 year old Sony tuner for a Sony 5300 tuner with 5 HDMI inputs, plus old stuff like phono. Nice piece of gear, but 3x $ I was expecting to spend. But, I do keep things a long time.
  • My April 99 Dell 2x500Mhz home computer with a 4x2.4Ghz Dell workstation, due in this week.
Then a few weekends ago visited my friend David in Columbus OH -- of the 4000 bottle wine cellar, the gourmet cooking, the 1Ghz ethernet home computing setup (plus 2.1 terabytes of RAID disks for his 100000 pictures -- he is a wonderful photographer and a photoshop wizard) and the house wired for cable AND satellite. 48 years old, he and his wife have no children and are consumers' consumers.

Then the next weekend had lunch with an old high school friend of mine in Louisville who is 3rd generation president of the family company. He has done a great job with it, diversifying and training his son to take over for him. He and his wife, empty nesters like us, recently moved into a huge, beautiful house across the street from Cherokee Park.

So, it's just been nagging at me. I was brought up lower middle class in a family of 7 kids, I just don't think I'm cut out to be nouveau rich. It just doesn't feel right. Goddamned catholic upbringing, you never get to enjoy anything.

Still, you look at our resource/carbon footprint, and despite the prius and recycling and keeping things for 10s of years, my footprint is still 1000x a third worlder's. And, my wife astutely pointed out, if you add in our 4 grown kids, our total footprint is much larger than our childless friends in Columbus.

Looked at vacation lake homes in Tennessee last weekend. Saw some nice stuff. The 2nd house will definitely help our footprint!

Well, I guess I'll just hope for Real Good Tech to fix all this up.

Haven't biked for 2 weeks. Biking will be over soon.

Meanwhile, I've gotten to drinking probably 1-5 oz alcohol per day, probably averaging around 3. I am my own science fair project, what fun! I think that once I got over averaging 2 oz/day, I could no longer drink enough water to rehydrate myself. So I think I am permanently dehydrated. The back of my throat/postnasal region is always scratchy -- but a few drinks in the evening and I won't notice it! My legs want to cramp all the time too. I sleep more and exercise and read less.

So, I'm going to have to consciously cut back to weekends and Wednesdays (LBJ), see if that helps the dehydration. Seems like I want to be addicted to something. I quit smoking so colds wouldn't last so long, the one I caught in Quebec still lasted 2 weeks, I thought, I should go back to smoking.

Plus, I think the alcohol is depressing me, to where the christians and other dumbasses who have always been there are getting me down more than they should. I guess we'll see.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Delusionary Thinking

Not sure what got into me yesterday, biked 43 miles to Spring Station on the other side of Midway, 3h 18 minutes, 2 stops. Quads were talking to me at the end, but I wasn't dying like a couple of weeks ago. I think it's because it wasn't near as humid, although it was near 90 when I got back at ~12:15, and I came back on Parker's Mill, which had a lot of shade -- when I was dying I was on Delaney Ferry, which has very little shade -- and, there were some clouds.

Re the ingenuity and persistence of squirrels (last post), my oldest daughter sends this LOL video.

Music-wise, a couple of weeks ago, I found out that I could get an annual couples pass to The Woodsongs Old-time Radio Hour, which is recorded most Mondays at the Kentucky Theater downtown, for $95. Individual shows are $10 a head, seemed like a good entertainment value. Last week we saw Chris Hillman, original bass player of The Byrds, and Herb Pederson, playing mandolin and guitar, very laid back, very enjoyable. This week was 2 cajun bands, Ann Savoy, and The Red Stick Ramblers. Great Texas swing overtones, you can't go wrong with 2 fiddlers, and some really high energy rockabilly stuff. In the encore they had the setup of the Django Reinhardt Quintet (3 guitars, bass and violin) -- plus a drummer. This is a great entertainment value. The shows are archived here, you can watch them whenever you want. The host Michael Jonathan is kind of a dork, but you have to respect what he's accomplished, they get some really good, varied talent into Lexington.

Saturday we went to the Art House cinemas and saw "Once". Very interesting. It was basically a long form (~90 minute) music video. Filmed on a shoestring in Dublin -- bystanders are looking at the cameramen throughout the movie, and at one point some kids on bicycles are following them gawking. But, it was charming, it worked. My youngest daughter was with us, at one point she said "The songs aren't bad." My reply was, "Since the whole movie is about them writing and recording the songs, it would really suck if the songs were lousy." I could only find the soundtrack at amazon (no iTunes or eMusic), so it is of course on order, which I think was pretty much the point of the movie.

Lexington Blues Jam last week went OK. The end got a little rough. Some bad vocal harmony on "The Weight", and then the main guitarist and the bass player, both of whom I think probably should have played a little more and drank a little less, were clashing both in their playing, and I think in their neurotransmitters.

This week I might wind up mostly singing, with a guitar as a prop. I was cutting carrots longitudinally for grilling yesterday and cut the crap out of the tip of the ring finger on my left hand. That's a serious guitar finger -- I'll have to play leads with 2 fingers like Django Reinhardt, he had 2 of is fingers damaged in a fire. I think chords might be right out tho. We'll see, I guess.

So, re the title: I guess that the thing that is scaring me overall is that there are so many forms of delusional thinking that seem to be socially accepted, or even encouraged, in the US now. Just a few examples:

  • an omnipotent, omnipresent, etc being, aka God, exists;
  • we don't die when we die, i.e., there is life after death;
  • the world is 6000 years old;
  • driving a big SUV keeps me safer in a wreck (it doesn't).
I had some more telling ones a while ago, but they seem to have senior-momented themselves away :-(

I was thinking about the Creation Museum and it's exhibit of Noah's Ark. It's so pathethic, crying is probably more appropriate than laughing. For instance:

  • Were there jaguars (south america) on the ark? How did they get there?
  • Were there dire wolves (australia) on the ark?
  • Were there polar bears (arctic) on the ark? Were they grumpy from being so warm?
  • Were there penguins (antarctic) on the ark?
  • How did they keep track of the ~350,000 species of beetles without a computer?

But, I think that we need to distinguish between delusions and emergent, higher-order mental entities, which share some characteristics of cognitive illusions, as explored recently by Hofstadter in "I am a Strange Loop", blogged here. So referring to a "soul" or a "self" is not delusionary -- as long as you don't think that either is immortal, or can exist without some kind of physical substrate. This was first mused on early in this blog here

On another piece of follow-up, re the jehovah "wanted" poster, I went and looked in Exodus for documentation of the actual involvement of this jehovah character in the murder of an entire generation of Egyptian children over a political squabble (the Feast of the Murdered Children, aka Passover). The evidence is inarguable, his own voice convicts him:

Exodus ch 12 v 12

For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.

Exodus ch 12 v 29,30

And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.

And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.

"For there was not a house where there was not one dead." Holy crap, what a monster. Guilty, guilty, guilty. It really is a good thing that he doesn't exist, it would be quite a job for us to track down the genocidal maniac and bring him to justice ...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Reductio ad Hitlerum

I am officially a sissy, biked only 26.7 miles this morning in 2h6m, 1 stop, through downtown Versailles. But, mowed the back grass and raked the 1st 20 pounds of the estimated 150 pounds of acorns that the 30 foot tall red oak in our front yard will drop this fall. I left about 10 pounds of them in the back corner of our yard as an offering to the squirrels, maybe they will eat less from the bird feeders.

My wife for our 32nd wedding anniversary got me a squirrel-proof bird feeder. It has 2 shells, with 6 aligned openings cut in them. The outer shell is on springs, and anything as big as a squirrel will cause the outer shell to drop such that the holes are closed. We'll see how that does. I have great respect for the ingenuity and persistence of squirrels.

Musicwise, LBJ (Lexington Blues Jam, I have decided sounds better than the Old Fart's Jam) went well Wednesday. Lindsay and Eric were on the road with Harmonica Red, Richard was the designated guitarist, and the wonderful Sheri McGee was the drummer. I think Sheri is the best of the drummers who plays there, she is great to watch and I realized, whenever we have gotten a really great "Who Do You Love" jam going, Sheri has been drumming. She changes tempo and mixes it up, really fun to play with. My songs went well, got to play twice, no bass. We had 6 people from Exstream out, I am going to try to get the LBJEA (Lexington Blues Jam Exstream Auxiliary) going, O'Neils is by far the nicest place we have played, I'd like to keep it a while.

Music-aquisition wise, I am listening to:

  • Chick Corea and Bela Fleck, "The Enchantment", very listenable jazz piano and banjo, 3 stars.
  • Dan Hicks and The Hot Licks, "Beatin' the Heat" -- his 1st studio album since the '70s, with Ricki Lee Jones, Elvis Costello, Bette Midler, and Tom Waits sitting in on tracks. 3 stars, with maybe a few 4 star tracks.
  • The Kinks, "Preservation Act 2". Act 1 got 4 stars, this one I don't think so. Plus some annoying Announcements that will get 2 stars so they don't go on the iPod.
Speaking of which, for the 2nd time my iPod froze, listening to it outside while grilling (carrots, red peppers, portabello, tuna). Plugged it into the sync station, it's still froze. I guess I'll try to google up what to do to it.

So, I was thinking about, why would 61% of people not vote for an atheist? I think it winds up being a "Reductio ad Hitlerum" instinct. Theists intuitively think that atheists, without an imaginary superfriend keeping an eye on them, are amoral with no respect for human life, like Hitler -- who actually was a devout Roman Catholic, which was probably why the vatican was silent about Nazi atrocities. Instead of imaginary superfriends and old obsolete books, atheists have logical ethics. The golden rule and the silver rule ("Don't do unto others what you wouldn't want done unto you") are pretty obvious to anyone who wants to live in human society ...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Antitheism Followup

The Lexington Herald-Leader had an article saying that 25% of those surveyed would not vote for Romney based on his Mormonism -- yay!

Of course, the same article stated that 61% of those surveyed would not vote for an atheist -- the highest of any "religious" group :-(

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Mormons Attack!

No biking today, a stationary front / line of rain from New Mexico to New England -- except for a 100 mile gap centered on Lexington, KY. We did finally get some drizzle, but we are still in severe drought. I walked the dog instead of biking, about half the yards look like science fair projects in "Natural Selection of Drought-Resistant Weeds".

This will be a special post, dedicated to one of everyone's favorite topics, antitheism.

So around a month ago, we went to the wedding of an old friend's daughter. She was only around 20, still had a year to go in college, we'd never heard of the boy, we're kind of wondering, what's up?

So, at the ceremony, there's two god dudes, one with official god dude clothes (robe and stole, a Lutheran I think), and one in a suit. They're kind of tag-teaming the ceremony, I'd never seen that before. Then the suit guy says "by the power invested in me as an elder in the church of jesus christ of the latter day saints, I pronounce you man and wife". Uh-oh, Mormons!!!

I work with a mormon or 2, as individuals I have no problem with them, they don't partitularly present as being any more delusional than your average religious person, but, in groups, they really creep me out.

Like the two old guys on the groom's side -- you start wondering how many teenage slave wives they have back in Utah. Mormonism is a young and virulent strain of christianity -- I think in general, the younger the religion, the more virulent the strain. The downwards trends in church-going in, what, pretty much the whole civilized world except for the bible-belt of the USA, indicate that the mind can learn to immunize itself from viruses -- but, Mormonism is I think a new antibiotic-resistant strain. It is very well engineered, with directions on how to live many parts of your life that religions normally stay out of. And, it has the normal (for virulent young religions) harsh treatment of apostasy -- I think your family is expected to pretty much disown you.

After being told by a gorgeous young woman now she had been heavily involved in the bride's conversion, and how wonderful it was, and how she was leaving on her mission soon, we beat a hasty retreat. I talked to the father later (the Lutheran), he said that he considered Mormonism a cult because the Mormons had told him that they believe in current-day prophets ("latter day saints") who are receiving orders directly from god, and if one of these guys tells you to machine-gun children, you do it. Pretty scary.

Then, like 3 days later, I'm having lunch at Arby's and two 15-16 year old boys ride up on bikes, come in, get food, sit down at the table next to me, and ask me if I have heard of the church of jesus christ of the latter day saints. Grrr -- "I'm trying to eat". "Do you work around here?" "No." Grrr.

Sending children out to prosteletyze to strangers is Wrong, and a mark of religious fanaticism. If that ever happens again, I'm going to go on and go for the mind-fuck. "Your parents were well intentioned, but they have infected you with an extremely virulent mind virus. Just remember: when you turn 18, you can tell your parents that you still love them, and you forgive them for infecting you, but you don't want your brain infested by such a parasite anymore."

Yesterday want to the memorial service for my old friend / WRA slaphead, in a babtist church. Very moving, got to sing "Morning has Broken", I had no idea it was a hymn, not too offensive. As the thing went on, and her siblings all talked about how she was now watching them, and how they would be reunited in heaven, I am feeling increasingly alienated from the people there. I understand, it's an accepted part of our culture, but, it still seems delusional to me. Dead is dead. We live on in memories, our works and our genes.

But, I found myself asking myself, "Does believing that an emotional bond is going to last for all eternity (how long is that, anyway) increase the strength of the emotional bond?" I suspect the answer to that question may be Yes.

All antitheism, all the time. My boss last weekend took his #2 son (engineering major at Ga Tech) and #3 son (computer science major at Purdue) and some of his Purdue classmates to our Kentucky pride and joy, the Creationism (anti-)Museum. The word he kept coming back to to describe it was "scary" -- very professionally done, full of children being told by their parents about how things were before/after The Fall of Adam and Noah's Ark; the parking lot packed; and Kentucky State Troopers providing traffic and security services -- that doesn't seem right. Ooh, I'm going to post something about that to the KASES forum, and maybe see if I can get the Kentucky ACLU interested -- using tax dollars for a religious program.

Finally, antitheism item #4. I got to thinking about a "Wanted Dead or Alive" poster for Jehovah, aka Yahweh, God, God the Father, Allah, Adonai. For Murder and Mass Infanticide, with the quote from Exodus where he orders the execution of every first-born child in Egypt (the Passover, or the Feast of the Murdered Children) and some other places where Jehovah personally orders the death of children. So, googling "wanted poster template" located this site, and googling "michelangelo god" gave me some nice pictures to choose from, and here's the preliminary result.

Not bad, but I wanted a little more detail than this. Still, it's a start. Now, need to enlist a small army of skater alternakids to put it up everywhere ;->

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Old Farts' Blues Jam

The Old Farts' Blues Jam has moved to O'Neils Irish Pub in Idlehour Shopping Center on Richmond Road, Wednesday from 5-9. Happy hour is 4-7. I got there about 6:40, got to play a ton, maybe 5 singing 4, then a short break, then played bass for around 5, then played guitar for a few more and sang a couple more. Very roomy stage, nice dance floor, you could really hear well. If we can keep this one as long as we did Lynagh's, we'll be doing great.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Evolution in Action

Found the 3rd dead bird of the summer in the area by the main bird feeder. It joins another sparrow and a robin as suspected avicide vicims of the blackbirds. We seem to be up to around a dozen blackbirds, and that many sparrows. Still a pair of cardinals, and the chickadees, and lots of mourning doves. Haven't seen any bluejays lately (strong-beaked by the blackbirds?), and the goldfinchs seem to be pretty much gone as well. But, have been seeing a lot of the hummingbirds -- I think at least 2 males, since one keeps driving the other off. Just a while ago I saw the 1st ever red-winged blackbird at the bird bath. Also noticed a chipmonk jump 2 feet straight up to get a drink in the bird bath.

Also this morning, saw a blue heron in the creek that runs alongside Paul's Mill Road, south of Troy KY in southern Woodford county. That creek is 90% dry, even the places where one of the horse farms dammed it. Drought here is definitely severe.

Biked 30 miles in 2h34m this morning, thought I was going to die. I got started at 9:08, I was 10 miles from home on Delaney Ferry Rd and walked the bike up the end of a hill, and was going to call someone to come get me, I was totally hurting. Cramping in my left hip and lower stomach, both calves hurting, not a cloud in the sky. I think I made a mistake , I ate ~1 hour before I left, pecan swirl danish, I will go back to not eating before I bike. But, I took about a 10 minute break and then struggled home. I got home totally overheated and sweat-soaked, I spread a dirty towel on the floor and passed out on it for an hour before I showered.

My youngest daughter, who I am proud to say is now a 3rd grade teacher, was over for supper last night. I was telling her I had worked up "Lay Lady Lay" on the pedal steel, she had never heard the song! (I got called out for insisting that we had to immediately rectify that situation -- "I thought you liked to tell us youngsters to not obsess on old music"). So, downloaded Bob Dylan "Nashville Skyline", 1969. What a great album, what nice songs, including the wonderfully raw (unrehearsed?) duet with Johnny Cash on "Girl from the North Country".

Speaking of pedal steel, I think I have found where the current best pedal steels are coming from: ZumSteel. Looks like you can get a custom-made, top-of-the-line ZumSteel for around $4500. If my left thumb gets worse to where I really have trouble playing guitar, I think I will go for one of these. I was afraid that I would really have trouble figuring out how to play a real pedal steel, but John Hughey of Time Jumpers, and the immortal Buddy Emmons both have extensive training materials out, so I think I can transition from my 6 string open E instument to a real one.

Interestingly, I think I read it at the steel guitar forum that the pedal steel guitar player population is totally aging -- average age in Nashville around 60??? Maybe it's another one of those hard things (requires practice) that the "Guitar Hero" generation doesn't have the time/patience/discipline/whatever to acquire. That book on music I reviewed recently ("This is Your Brain on Music") I think said that to become an expert on anything takes ~10000 hours (2 hrs a day for 10 years?). That seems like a lot ...

I also have a mental note to get a new flute this year, and see how the bad thumbs do with that. Looks like I can get one for around $350.

Listening to "Speak for Yourself", by Imogen Heap, who was Frou Frou. Nice chick pop, 3 stars.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


Seems to have cooled off here. Grilled out this evening, cooked salmon on one of the cedar planks my youngest got me for my birthday. Had 2 pieces from a half salmon that wouldn't fit on the plank that I cooked directly on the grill like normal (fresh squeezed lemon juice and dill -- but Kroger was out of fresh dill, I had to use dried dill weed!). The normal was good as usual, some brown on the outside, and you could taste some black -- the good stuff. The salmon off the plank literally melted in your mouth and tasted wonderful -- both were excellent, damn cooking is fun!

Currently listening Spacehog's first, "Resident Alien", which went gold in 1995. WRFL played "In The Meantime" the other morning, I called the DJ to ask what that wonderfully catchy tune I had not heard in years was, went and got the album thereafter. They had 2 more albums before they broke up, and the lead singer married Liv Tyler, not sure I will check them out -- but nice that it's measurable how much more there is to exhaust Spacehog.

Went in to work for 5 hours today, I've been refactoring since 8/2, need to get something done ... Was thinking about working Monday (Labor Day), think I will not. My wife is getting off of 3rd shift -- and going to Cincinatti tomorrow with one of her girlfriends. But, I have ribeyes to cook tomorrow, and a chicken for Monday. Damn, cooking is fun!

Technology Review last month had a very upbeat article from their environmental columnist, re, aquaculture in the oceans has great potential to produce totally mass quantities of food (sushi!). This could overcome "the tragedy of the commons" (blogged here) that threatens the fish harvests of the world's oceans.

Last time I visited my older brother in Maine, he was telling me that Maine lobster harvests are at all time highs, and show no problem in increasing. The main food of Maine lobsters is ... lobster bait, from the lobster traps. The traps are constructed such that small lobsters get in and out without problem. Some larger, but undersized, lobsters will get caught in the traps, but they are thrown back by the lobstermen. So Maine lobsters are an example of successful aquaculture. Hopefully many more will follow.

Took a break to put the ribeyes on to marinate overnight. Someone told me you should never marinade for more than 30 minutes -- yeah, right. Last month I grilled for 30 (the cookout that got busted), cooked 20 ribeyes that had marinated overnight. My grill fit the 1st 16, set it on high, put them all on, opened after 3 minutes, "show me fire" -- and fire there was. I ate one of them, the 1st bite I put in my mouth melted there, "ohmigod" I said. Damn, cooking is fun!

My last post, I was so proud of "proprioceptive illusion" -- I thought I had made the concept up, I am so cool -- but then, google it, there are numbers of proprioceptive illusions being researched. I am such a loser -- old and slow :-(

A couple of months ago, I was reading in one of the local weekly newspapers ("Southsider" I think) about someone in Lexington publishing a science fiction digest. I read it, and saw the guy's name, and thought "Wait a minute -- he works at Exstream!". And sure enough, Jason Sizemore, the editor of Apex Digest, was a buildmaster at Exstream. Apparently he had also worked at RenLar in the past. He quit last month to do the magazine full-time. He gave me a sample issue, the quality of the stories was very good. As you would expect, some simplistic stuff ("no one ever expects the spanish inquisition"), but mostly enjoyable. Their big mainstream author for the issue was Kevin J. Anderson, of the Dune sequels and the interminable "seven suns" series I am trapped into reading. This guy is such a hack, the intro to the story said he produces 750K words of literature a year -- I believe it, and I am sure that it all aspires to the same high level of triteness. The guy needs to just focus on writing bodice-rippers, or Anne Rice vampire novels ...

Aside from that tho, Apex Digest was very readable, and had a continued story that made me go on and buy a subscription -- 4 issues/year, $20.

After a month off from heat/vacation, biked last Sunday with the wife, 20.5 miles in 1h50m, 1 stop. Walked the dog this morning, will bike Monday.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Proprioceptive Illusion

The Lexington Herald-Leader ran a story last Thursday or Friday on an article in Nature in which an out-of-body experience was induced in test subjects by showing them images of themselves on VR goggles and touching the subject's back with a stick. The subjects reported they felt that their consciousness was in the image they were looking at. Out-of-body experiences had previously been induced by electrodes in the brain.

We have known about optical illusions for years. More recently we have added cognitive illusions (see for example "Inevitable Illusions", Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, blogged here); and moral illusions (see "The Blank Slate", Stephen Pinker, blogged here).

I think we can now characterize the "out-of-body experience" as a proprioceptive illusion (not sure if that is the correct adjectival form of the noun proprioception, our sense of where our body is) -- and not as evidence for the existence of a soul separate from the body, as is often done.

BTW, last blog I mentioned playing at the last Old Farts' Jam at Lynagh's. I meant to meantion that one of our young developers who hangs out at Lynagh's regularly sent an e-mail to most of development trying to get people out for my final performance there. Attendees showing up, 0. :-(

Played last night (softly) at Coffee Island, in the former sight of The Kentucky Arcade, my son's erstwhile favorite video game hangout. It was fun, very laid back.

Next week, we start up at O'Neil's Irish Pub, Wednesdays from 5-9. Nice place, nice stage, medium sized dance floor. Haven't decided yet how early I want to try and get out there.

Reading the latest Year's Best. Just read a great story by Benjamin Rosenbaum, "The House Beyond Your Sky". Per his web site, it's up for Hugo. Great computational cosmology, great stuff, one to keep an eye on.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Trip to the Great North

So, we vacated to Canada, le Provence de Quebec to be exact, from 8/12 to 8/19. Flew from Louisville to Montreal on Sunday, stayed there until Thursday. Mostly did tourist foo, Botanical Garden very nice, the Olympic stadium tower. Ate lots of good french food -- sweetbreads and a rack of lamb rubbed in rosemary the 1st night, magnifique. Thursday our oldest daughter flew in from NYC and we took the train to Quebec City (3 hours), stayed there until Saturday, took the train back, then flew home Monday after our Sunday flight was cancelled (thanks United). Quebec City we didn't like as well, pretty much solid tourists, with the big historical point of interest that they seemed obsessed with being the loss of the city to the British in 1759.

So our summer vacation to the north to escape the heat was successful again. I think it may have gotten to 80 1 day in Montreal, and Quebec didn't get over 75, while it was close to 100 down here. So of course, we got rained on in Quebec Friday evening when the temperature was around 60 and I caught a cold, that I am just now about completely over. Hoisted on my own petard.

On the way to Montreal, I finished "This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession", by Daniel J. Levitin. He is a former record producer/engineer who is now a researcher at McGill U (in Montreal!) into the cognitive science of music. An OK book, good analysis of the components and evolutionary basis of music, lots of fun factiods (FFTKAT) re why the music of some modern pop artists such as The Beatles, Steely Dan, and Joni Mitchell are so appealing. The web site for the book has song samples and other stuff. One interesting thing that I will research further was his statement that starting times of sounds/notes are discernable by the brain at the level of a few milliseconds. Everything I have seen prior to this has said that the lowest level of time that the brain/consciousness can process is 50 milliseconds / 20 hertz (movies run at 24 frames/second) -- so an interval an order of magnitude below that is definitely worth investigating.

This is the third book on music/mind I have read, much better than the other two, but still, I was glad when this book was over -- not really that much new there. 3 stars.

After that read "Thirteen" by Richard K. Morgan, his 5th novel. Aside from some pacing problems in its 550 pages, a very good read. But, very depressing. Morgan is a Scot. The novel is set in ~2105. The northeast states and the west coast have split from the US in the mid 21st century, leaving the rest as a country known popularly as Jesusland. It's main characteristics are its poor education system, legislated morality, and its willingness to do dirty jobs for cheap, and its suspension of the rule of law, habeus corpus, etc. The truth hurts, don't it? 4 stars.

I never watch The Daily Show any more. It's just not funny any more, the idiocy has gone on far too long. And even with the Bushies in increasingly severe disarray, the democrats seem to remain clueless. Sigh ...

After that I read the new William Gibson, "Spook Country", very good, very much in the vein of "Pattern Recognition", which I thought was his best book since "Neuromancer" in 1984, 4 stars.

Last Wednesday was the last blues jam at Lynagh's, they were ready for a change after 15 months of the Old Farts Blues Jam. Many guitarists there, they were kind of rushing people through, my 3 went OK, considering I still had the damn cold. I'm supposed to be taking the pedal steel to some coffee place for some low volume acoustic type stuff this Wednesday, we'll see how that goes.

My old friend Slaphead, aka Diana Probus, whose blog I linked to recently, died yesterday morning, apparently of complications/side effects of chemotherapy. Her blog went silent June 16, and one of her online friends was kind enough to give me the news. She was 50.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The End of Hippiedom

So got back from my walk, it is so damn muggy. I forgot to take a hat and the sun came out half way through, probably have a red nose tomorrow, hopefully not a red scalp. I took my shirt off. Not too many people out, hopefully no young children were traumatized by The Great White Whale ("Big as a mountain and white as the show, it's Moby Dick!"). I still tan on my trunk, but the 1st thing that happens after exposure to sun is that the hair on my chest all turns bright shiny white. I don't seem to tan at all from the knees down, I think from my 12 years of refereeing soccer and having a soccer tan from wearing knee socks.

So got home, needed to cool off before showering so I did another post (2 in 1 day!), somehow got my Blogger cookies/state screwed up by changing a setting, lost the post. Grrr. I've cooled off enough to shower now, but will try to recreate this while it's still fresh in my mind.

Anyway, there are some of my raps that I have been forgetting for years to add to this blog. Some have made it, like My Greatest Blasphemies, others haven't. So I had a good idea to help me remember these. Whenever I think of one, I e-mail it to myself at my home account, where I blog from. I have for years used the inbox of my e-mail as my todo list, both at work and at home. An e-mail that requires action, a response, or more thought stays in the inbox until it is processed (or it times out), at which point it is filed in an appropriate folder or deleted/archived. Crazy that I just thought to send e-mails to myself when I need to remember to do something. But, ain't having an exocortex great!

During most of my Cambridge/Boston years 1968-1974 I was a hippie. In high school, I had a friend, who was generally regarded as our token beatnik, who turned me on to Herman Hesse, "Steppenwolf", "Siddhartha", "The Bead Game" and other similar literature, and to Mississippi Delta blues. He also wanted to turn me on to smoking pot, but in the stupefying naivete of my youth ("the weenie factor" -- I graduated high school just before I turned 17), I didn't realize this until years later. He later was a Louisville blues singer for years.

I started playing music in around 1965. When I got to MIT in the fall of 1968, I had a great collection of psychedelic music and my heros were Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, and The Grateful Dead. It took a very short time for the hippie contingent of my living group and me to realize we were kindred spirits. So I lived various aspects of the hippie lifestyle until I moved back to Jeffersonville in 1974 (but city hippie rather than country hippie).

So my contention is that Woodstock, in the summer of 1969, was the beginning of the end of the hippie movement. My bass player at the time went, I was working as a welder at JeffBoat to make money for college, I didn't go.

Woodstock was three days of great music, great drugs, and great fellowship, with lots of free love going around -- and Nothing Happened. Back then, we really thought that we could Change Things, in potentially magical ways. So with all the great vibes of Woodstock, Something should have happened:

  • the mother ship should have landed and taken on some passengers, or
  • a group mind should have formed, or
  • superpowers like telepathy and levitation should have manifested.
But, aside from the usual births, deaths, and dancing, Nothing Happened. And this was the beginning of the end of hippiedom.

I think that the one lasting legacy of the hippie movement was the birth of the environmental movement. Hippies were its parents.

Rainy Day, Dream Away

Looks like I am rained out from biking again -- it just started raining pretty steady, around 9am. Checked the radar, it should last 30-60 minutes. So I'll go for a walk when it's done. Meanwhile, might as well blog.

I wasn't going to bike far anyway, maybe 30 miles. We're back to low 90s and humid as hell. We were at a party last night, sitting on a deck at 10:30pm and sweat is rolling off me.

Actual title of this entry was going to be "The Birds and the Bees". Main point re the birds is, they fight all the time, as long as they are within 1 size class of the other bird. So robins, cardinals, and mockingbirds get territorial on each other, both within and without of their species, but ignore sparrows. Blackbirds will gang up and try to drive a crow away. And when there's a hawk around, both crows and blackbirds will put 1-3 sentries keeping tabs on the hawk. They will also mess with it when it's in flight.

I enjoy watching my bird bath and 3 bird feeders. Here's some anecdotes / natural science.

  • Of the birds that use the main bird feeder, the pecking order is: blackbirds, bluejays, cardinals. Doves eat but don't seem to get involved. We also have a lovely pair of chickadees that the other birds seem to ignore. They fly almost like hummingbirds.
  • I had thought robins didn't use the feeder (worm eaters), but there was one eating there yesterday.
  • The main feeder and bath are between an aristocrat pear and a crabapple tree near the house. I cut most of a branch on the crabapple that the squirrels (3) were using for fast access to the main bird feeder. Our hummingbird feeder (none this year or last) hangs from it and the vibration of the squirrels' passing sloshes the liquid out of the hummingbird feeder. After I cut it, I noticed a chipmunk (chipmunks climb trees!) going up the pear over to the crabapple, all around the crabapple, back to the pear -- I had destroyed his access to the bird feeder. So then he climbs the pole the feeder's on -- the squirrels do this and then just swarm over the lip of 6 x 12 inch base of the feeder -- and leaps backwards along the long dimension of the base; attempts to grab the edge; fails and falls to the ground (5 feet). Then back up the pole again, another leap in the direction 180 degrees from the first, with the same result. Then back up the pole, reach the edge in the shorter direction directly, without leaping, and easily pulls itself over. So why did it try twice leaping 6 inches before reaching 3? Almost like its route searching algorithm was random, which I wouldn't think was the case ...
  • The birds don't mess with the the squirrels on the feeder. I thought maybe rodents got a pass, but a bluejay got territorial with the chipmunk when it was in the tree, so it's probably the size thing.
  • Cardinals seem to be fairly timid, but I did see a female cardinal dominating a bluejay briefly. I also saw a male cardinal fly up and side with a female when a bluejay was dominating the female.
  • The bluejays and chickadees fly to the feeder, get a piece of food, and fly back to a branch to eat it. The doves, blackbirds, cardinals, and robins eat at the feeder.
  • The goldfinches currently have the thistle seed feeder to themselves. I guess that shows the advantage of have an unusual food be part of the definition of your ecological niche.
BTW, I am adding another blog link: that of an old friend/WRA of mine. She was affectionately known as "slaphead" when she worked for me ~15 years ago because she was such a smartass you wanted to slap her upside the head -- my kind of person.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Politically Incorrect?

Subtitle, sometimes I just can't tell anymore.

Anyway, I'm coming home from Lynagh's (Wednesday jam is every other week now, this is the off week, but I seem compelled to go nonetheless -- old fart's jam has been replaced by the internationally renowned guitarist, the inimitable Ben Lacy). I'm stopped at the corner of Huguelet and Limestone, coming out of the UK campus. I particularly noticed tonight what I notice whenever I'm stopped there: the pedestrian (don't)walk traffic signals talk continuously (walk now, don't walk, but maybe much more???). I had presumed that this was for the visually impaired. But, if there are no visually impaired around, this amounts to:

  1. noise pollution;
  2. a waste of the energy to generate the sound (love the earth, at least sound is much cheaper than light);
  3. a waste of information (I have always wondered, if you put your turn signal on when no one is behind you, does it really blink?).

So here's the politically incorrect part -- or maybe this is just a good idea. How about if all the manufacturers of visually-impaired people's canes and seeing-eye-dog harnesses started implanting an RFID chip in their product that says, "Anonymous blind person approaching". Then the damned traffic signal could shut the fuck up unless its vocal services were actually useful.

This of course raises privacy and security issues. A predator (or government) who enjoyed preying on the visually impaired could build a locator that would find victims. 'Course, the cane and/or dog might have already given them away.

Speaking of the mark of the beast, I have for the last 5-10 years been saying that as soon as I can get my cell phone / PDA / PC implanted behind my left ear, I'm going for it. But, these devices need an absolute physical on/off switch so you can go dark if you need to.

Hmmm, probably can't work. The RAM would probably need at least a trickle of bio-electricity to keep functioning, and that would certainly be traceable. Oh well ... who needs privacy anyway? The MySpace generation sure doesn't worry about it. I think it was the Wired article 2 months ago on Go Naked that said something to the effect that the MySpace generation would never trust anyone who wasn't willing to bare their innermost secrets on their page.

Still driving home from Lynaghs, on S. Broadway, I have in the left lane motorcyclists. 1st 2, serious "Outlaws KY" colors and serious tats, scary motorcycle dudes. A group of motorcycles has been the wolf pack of the automotive world ever since Marlon Brando and "The Wild One".

Next a big guy with good tats and a big biker woman riding behind him.

Next a big guy with no tats or colors and big not-so-biker woman riding behind him.

Next a big woman driving herself.

I thought that was the end of it, I thought, man, how the biker gangs have fallen, that group looked like it was nearing the end of its life cycle. But then, after 3-4 cars, another 4 bikers, basically average joes, average tats, standard tee-shirts. So the "Outlaws KY" will lead the way but now basically ride with anyone? Some kind of sociobiology going on here, I have no idea what.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

It's The Only Thing That's Fair

So I have over the years proposed a solution to a social problem that has generally been met with a response of total dismissal. I'm kind of curious as to why this idea just seems to bounce off of peoples minds.

The problem is, to foster gender equality:

  1. What surname should a woman take when she marries?
  2. How should the children be named?
The answer to part 1 is easy. Assuming the husband's name is obviously patriarchal, so the woman should keep her own surname.

So then how do you name the kids? The hypenated name thing obviously is bad tech and doesn't work -- just in the 3rd generation you'd have 7 hyphens in your last name. So my universally rejected proposal is, have the male offspring take the father's last name and the female offspring take the mother's last name. So you kind of have male and female lines. Males born without a known father would take the mother's surname, as they do now. Genderly challenged would be allowed to choose when they turn 18, maybe?

You might say, well, that puts children in the same family with different last names. Yes, it does, but that is not uncommon now when people are on their 2nd and 3rd marriages.

So my daughters would all be Grieve's or Sohan's, looking back as far as I know in their grandmothers. It would actually give a purpose to genealogy, which I generally find to be pretty much uninteresting.

So why is this idea so universally dismissed? It's The Only Thing That's Fair.

No biking today, roads were wet, took a nice long walk instead.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Reelin' and Rockin' -- or is that Rockin' and Reelin'

Whew, just got back back from Lynagh's. My wife (mother?) is working 3rd shift (now) so I get to stay out as late as I want, woo-hoo. 1st 3 songs went fine, then later sang backup for 3 different people, then did 3 more. "Who do you love" is so great to play, if you have anyone decent up there with you, you can vary the dynamics and tonality and get a Grateful Dead thing going that really rocks.

The real reason for this post:

This is truly shocking to me. WWN is an american institution. I bought my friend David a subscription to it at Renlar, it was great, it would come in Friday afternoon, we would read about exploding pigs, opera-singing pigs, flying pigs (the best issues always featured a pig) -- and decide, enough work for the week, it's Friday, let's get the hell out of here. I can't believe it's gone.

But, we did quit subscribing after 3 years because we realized they were recycling all the stories that we had read 3 years earlier ...

Biked 37.9 miles in 2h54m, 1 stop last Saturday. Temperature in the low 80's, man does that make a difference. Going to High Bridge Park this weekend, 40 miles.

Had a great cookout / going away party last Sunday with Ben Lacy playing. Gained major street cred when the cops showed up at 9:51 re a complaint on the loud music ?!?!?

Didn't have a drink Monday or Tuesday, didn't particularly notice any withdrawal symptoms, so I don't think I'm an alcoholic. I'm wondering tho, are there lab tests that can be run that say, yes, you are an alcoholic?

Naprosyn continues to gnaw at my belly but it does help the osteo-arthritis in my left thumb.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Quel Dumbass

Well, I was so proud of my folk ontologies, I sent it to my hero Charlie Stross, then a couple of days ago ran across folksonomy, like taxonomy -- web 2.0 pundits already all over my Original Idea. I am such a Loser, sigh :-(.

Biked 37 miles Saturday morning, 2h55m, 1 stop. I would say heat index was at least 10 degrees cooler than the week before, much easier.

Currently listening to Man Man "The Man in a Blue Turban with a Face" (2004). This will also gain the coveted Unclassifiable rating that "Six Demon Bag" received. Deliciously odd music.

My wife and I saw and enjoyed "La Vie on Rose", the Edith Piaf movie. So then spent my 30 emusic downloads for the month downloading Edith Piaf. Interesting, the bio on eMusic is more complete than the one on Wikipedia. Annoyingly, once again, I now have 30 songs from the 30s to the 60s whose dates are 2005 and 2006. So now must locate a good discography and correct all the dates. No, I'm not obcom, but I do feel it helps in the understanding and the classification of the music to accurately know when it was from.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Politically Incorrect

A new tag!

The tagging exercise definitely made me aware of the meta-levels of the blog, its themes, what it distills out to. I realized today just a while ago that political incorrectness is definitely a theme that deserves to be tagged. That last sentence reminds me of the most recent post in Charles Stross' blog, re, how long would take you to build up the context of something even more abstract and 21th century than that last sentence to explain it to, say, someone from the 17th century like Isaac Newton.

Anyway, my friend David sent me this link to Pamela Anderson and PETA's campaign against KFC:

I replied to him with recollections from my childhood:

Like most people of my generation (mid-50's) in the midwest/south, I grew up with ties to a farm. When I was, say 8-13 years old, I would spend a week or two on my maternal grandparents 150 acres just west of Lagrange, KY (now $.5M homes). I would do farm chores: tend chickens and cattle, and help Pop maintain fences and barns. Also fish in the ponds, wade in the creek, build obstacle courses in the hayloft, and otherwise goof-off. My impressions from those years:
  1. Chickens are dumb as bricks; have no personalities; and deserve to be eaten (I have no clue where PETA gets their allegation that chickens are as smart as cats or dogs ?!?!?).
  2. Likewise for cows.
One of those things, when theory departs from experience and practice in the real world, bullshit quotient has a way of going up, up, up -- not surprising in the least.

Other recent e-mails:

Currently listening to The Time Jumpers 2 disc live CD "Jumpin' Time". 11 piece Texas Swing band composed of Nashville studio musicians, unbelievable pedal steel guitar player John Hughey. This will be mostly 4 stars.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

And The Winner Is ...

Science Fiction, tagged in 54/106 blog posts. A close second was Music, with 49 references. A sizeable drop to a tie for 3rd/4th: antitheism and cognitive science with 34. Rounding out the top 5: evolution with 29.

So as was doing the tagging, I was reminded of the project I had my boys working on in 2000, as the .com bubble was bursting and we had no paying projects: an intelligent online diary. It would parse your entries into "thoughts" and create a knowledge base of them. A product called I thought "Thought-Tracker" was doing some of it, googling it now gives hits to something that looks completely different, an open-source project more web-based. One of those guys wound up later getting a job at BBN based on references to natural language processing (NLP) in his resume which were from his work on this project. The same guy was responsible for the entry UI, and thinks he is totally fucking hilarious when he gives me a demonstration of Personal Information Management Program (PIMP).

Anyway, thoughts on what I would like blogger to be able to do re tagging:

  • Music was way ahead until I finished tagging the real old entries. So a graph of # of tag references per time period would be interesting. It would let one know how their interests had changed over the life of the blog?
  • Seemed like certain topics came in clusters. It would be nice to be able to generate correlation coefficients for all pairs of tags and report on those that are indeed correlated.
  • It would be nice if it would auto-tag all proper nouns.
  • And, upon 1st reference to a proper noun, say Charles Stross, it could google for it and present a list of links, such that all references use that link, say to Charles' web site.
  • Or, it could always check wikipedia (or your profile-specified choice) for the proper noun and make the default link.
  • Maybe have two levels of tags, abstract (what I entered) and concrete (for the proper nouns)?
Biked 31 miles today in 2h40m, 2 breaks, from 9:40a to 12:20. Walked yesterday morning from 9:30a to 10:30. Temperature was only mid-80's both times, but I guess it was the humidity making it brutally muggy.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

HuhHuhHuhHuh ...

Quoting my friend Patrick, who sent me this totally semiotically ambiguous piece of (I think) antitheism.

Last weekend we had a cousins' reunion in Louisvile, 18/20 of us (my mother's side of the family) represented. My baby sister, who reads this blog, mentioned how mean I sound sometimes, when in person, I am of course a sweetie-pie. Well, I still think celebrating the deaths' of conservative reactionary assholes is not inappropriate. I probably wouldn't do it in person tho. I am sure their families love them despite their inhumanity.

Meanwhile, in response to an e-mail I received re the last post, I believe we can begin to formulate "The Dumbass's Rules of Internet Etiquette":

  1. Drinking and online shopping is a Bad Idea.
  2. Drinking and blogging, on the other hand, is A-OK!
The Les Paul came Saturday (we were in Louisville, Fedex left it on the front porch ?!?!?), and is absolutely beautiful -- I've decided to name it "Black Beauty" -- antique black with gold trim and all the hardware gold -- way too pimp to take out in public.

Here's a picture (and you can Click toZoom).

It's been a real bummer for the last month or so tho. I'm getting arthritis in all the big toe/thumb joints (started ~ 1 year ago), and my left thumb has been killing me lately -- both joints swollen and hurting, playing guitar ascerbates. Getting into a doctor soon. I'm hoping it's gout (too much rich food and drinking), they have drugs for that. Meanwhile, I've decided I will take this opportunity to learn to finally play slide decently -- you don't use your left thumb there. In the past, I've tried to play slide for 2-3 minutes and sucked so bad I've given up. I've played slide a few times lately, stuck with it, getting better. Lots of sustain on the tube screamer helps. I was playing last weekend with my 14 YO nephew who's just started, but who I think has the touch to be a good guitarist -- he plays with fuzz all the time. Rule of thumb for beginners (including me on slide): fuzz-tone good.

I played downtown yesterday (4th of July) with G.Busy for 3 songs. My playing sucked, from lack of practice due to the fucking thumb. But singing and band-leading were OK, and of course I had fun.

New music:

  1. Amy Winehouse, "Back to Black" -- from my youngest daughter, who didn't like Joss Stone, but likes this. This comes across as a totally late 60's motown record. So, with Joss Stone and Jamie Lidell, another Brit making totally kick-ass retro R&B music. 4 stars.
  2. The Kinks, "Preservation Act I" -- playing now, goddamn Ray Davies could write songs. I think that I am going to be forced to give this 4 stars, despite the degree of stiltedness that comes from this being a concept album.
Finished reading "River of Gods" by Ian McDonald. Subtitle "August 15, 2047 - Happy Birthday, India". 4 stars, but -- it kept bugging me, this novel is basically "Neuromancer" on steroids, in India 2047. AI's trying to free themselves, with Krishna Cops instead of the Turing Police. Plus, it violated my heuristic of 100 pages per narrative thread -- 600 pages for 9 narrative threads. But, they started merging with maybe 200 pages to go, so not horrible, but it left some threads hanging at the end. Still, a real page turner, very enjoyable.

Biked 25 miles in 2 hours last Sunday, no cool birds.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


So, Liquidity Event Fairy visited my checking account last night, life is good. My "friend" David made me go to and order a brand new Gibson Les Paul classic custom. But, life is good.

So, sitting here somethat inebriated, listening to Joss Stone, and waiting for my wife to return from bonding with her siblings in Louisville, I'm ~60% done with my "tagging the blog" project -- which I will discuss when complete -- when I come across a 4/25/5 entry:

unmitigated, evil assholes such as Jerry Falwell
So, when I read a few weeks ago that the asshole had died, my reaction was "Yes!!!".

The one good thing about reactionary assholes is that they tend to be old. I was so glad the fucking catholics elected Pope Benny, whose pushing 80. He'll die soon, good fucking riddance.

To be Fair and Balanced, I will state for the record that, despite being the proud owner of a "Liberal" t-shirt, I am still An Old Person, and as such, I am sure, I am instinctively reactionary at many levels -- but I am happy to cede my memetic slot to a more advanced modern liberal model as soon as it is appropriate.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

$25 well spent

I splurged and spent $25 (2 @ 9.95 + 5.10 S&H) on ...

2 Flying Spaghetti Monster car emblems!!! Woo-hoo! One for my Prius, that I'm supposed to get back from my wife in the next few months, and one for the young coworker who first introduced me to the joy that is Pastafarianism. I think we've had reference to FSM in this forum before; regardless, when the idiocy gets you down and you need a good belly-laugh, it is available here:

When my 4 kids were in high school we had a Darwin-fish emblem on one of the junkers they drove to school. I really think FSM is more appropriate. After all, Darwin was real .. (posted to KASES Forum earler today).

No biking today, radar threatened rain so I took a long walk instead. Got spit on a little.

Music-wise, some very good stuff lately:

  • Bjork's latest, "Volta". I believe Ms. Gutmunsdottir is currently the world's greatest living composer. This kind of goes back to her techno roots, but keeps the heartbreaking melodies and odd textures she has consistently created lately. Another wonderful effort, 4 stars.
  • At the recommendation of one of T.D.'s backup singers who was a Corinne Bailey Rae fan, got Joss Stone, "Introducing Joss Stone". Reminded me of Jamie Lidell, another white Brit deciding to do great R&B. 4 stars from me, but my youngest doesn't like it.
  • Found out that has old Kinks stuff on it. Got "Muswell Hillbillies" (1971), which I also have on vinyl, 4 stars. Seems like most stuff I have on vinyl winds up at 4 stars when I reacquire it on a digital medium -- must be burned into the brain pretty good.
  • Also got the Kinks "Preservation Act I" (1973). I had never heard before, I think part of 2 concept albums. 3 stars.
  • Got Little Feat "Waiting for Columbus" (1979), an apparently legendary 2 disc live album. The 1st disc I was surprised at how many of the songs I recognized, mostly 4 stars here. The 2nd disc, not so many except for "Willin'", mostly 3 stars. Looked up Lowell George, guiding light of Little Feat. I thought these guys had been around well into the late '80s, and had backed up Bonnie Raitt, but George was apparently a real rocker and died in 1979 at age 34. He played with Zappa in the Mothers of Invention for a while ?!?!?
Haven't read much lately: two Black Widow graphic novels (multiple comic books repackaged) written by Richard K. Morgan, whose 4 recent novels have been very positively reviewed earlier in this blog. I guess they were good -- oh no, surely I'm not finally too old for comic books? Say it ain't so! One thing really comes across in these -- a nice level of British disgust for our current moronic president and his criminal foreign policies.

I never did get the other links into this new format. I may try that now. I am also, for fun, going to go back and tag all the posts. Be interesting to see what the breakdown is.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Oh boy, a new tag!

Forgot to mention, when I was biking on 6/8/7, on Paul's Mill Rd, just south of Troy, KY, I had been thinking how I hadn't seen any interesting birds lately -- when a pileated woodpecker swooped in front of me! Way cool, 15" tall, wingspan at least 2 feet. The only other time I have seen one of these was on vacation in Traverse City, MI in the summer of 1995. Checked my bird book, it said these are actually found all the way down to the gulf states, and have gone from being deep-woods only to being found around cities -- but that they're very good at staying hidden ?!?!? Ninja birds???

Biked today 33.1 miles in 2h37m, with only one break. Felt pretty good. Saw a thrush.

Music reviews pending, but, got to go look at ... furniture!!! Argh!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Oops -- I Did It Again

Well, after months of being good and not bothering the members of KASES, I snapped and posted another call-to-arms. The Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky pushes all the wrong buttons. Here's the post:
I would like to personally thank Blenster for the anti-museum activities. The Lexington Herald-Leader coverage showed photos of the protesters, all the signs were great, altho I only remember "You evolved too -- just not enough".

I slide-showed the Flikr museum tour today. LOL like 4-5 times. That got me thinking... I hate to give these people $14.95, but, maybe with funding, how about maybe 2-4 times a day, have someone go through the "museum" and laugh, real loud, throughout? Target laugh would be, the deep belly guffaw. If/when a laugher is thrown out, I would suggest loud, laughing protestation, possibly per a prepared script, but nothing that could get anyone arrested.

I missed the talk last night re "God -- the Failed Hypothesis" (a drummer friend of mine needed a guitarist -- sorry, music over antitheism). I wanted to meet some of my fellow skeptics. I also wanted to raise my concerns re: appealing to rationality as an approach ain't going to cut it here.

The only one of the recent antitheist books I have read is the Dennett, "Breaking the Spell". I think I reviewed that book at this forum. I found Dennett's "please thing logically, Mr. Religious Fanatic" approach to be totally laughable.

We are dealing with one of, if not the, stongest memeplex that the human memesphere has developed in its 100,000 year history. Logic will do nothing against the "this makes me feel secure, when by all rights I have no business doing so" comfort that religion (and mindless patriotism, another of the very old and strong memeplexes) provide.

So, I think the only way to oppose this kind if thinking is via memetic warfare (apologies to the pacifists amongst us for my use of a militaristic term). I don't believe that memetic warfare is a discipline in which one can be certified at this time, but my gut level feel is that laughter is one of the strongest tools in the memetic warriors toolbox at this time. Some really catchy tunes would help too.

One of my major motivations for wanting to fix this, aside from "a mind is a terrible thing to waste", is my non-mindless patriotism. In "Darwin's Dangerous Idea", Dennett quotes the biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky (1973): "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." Raising our children on feel-good fairy tales instead of the scientific method is an express ticket to our country becoming second-rate.

Sorry for the rant. It's my birthday, this is my present to myself ?!?!?

But, then, actually got an e-mail from a forum member who said he really liked it. Also, a mandolin/guitar/bass player, so maybe another musical contact.

Since I worked full days last Saturday and Sunday on a last-minute enhancement, I took Friday off -- my birthday. Biked from 9:20 to 12:00, did 30.25 miles, my 1st time biking on a weekday, the roads in Jessamine and southern Woodford county were about as lightly traveled as when I bike on Sunday morning. A little much for 3rd time out, and it was ~88 degrees and humid.

I was going out again this morning, but too sore. Spent 3.5 hours yesterday cleaning up the damage (leaves) from the hailstorm we had last Wednesday. I filled 6 big leaf bags, after my wife had filled our herbie-curbie a few days before. The hailstorm was weird, we had pea-to-marble sized hail up to 2 inches deep at places in our yard. The trees were shredded. It was really strange walking around right after it, the air smelled like an evergreen air-freshener is supposed to smell, from the shredded leaves -- very, very pleasant smell. But, hail in June instead of April, weather screwy, global warming, global warming ... ;->

Had a great fine dining experience for my birthday at Azur. They have an elk rack that is totally delicious, but pricey enough that I save it for special occasions. Then last night grilled out with another couple, 1st time, the husband is a jazz guitarist, plays an electrified classical (?!?!?), plays wonderful stuff -- really hard to play -- but he's not really much of a jammer. Still, I learned 3-4 licks from him in the short time we played together last night. I'd love to be able to play more of that style of music.

Grilled sweet tater fries (2 more converts), asparagus, portabellos, and swordfish (yum!). The wife brought a very nice salad, artichoke and palm hearts. My wife made ruby relaxers:

In a 16 glass with (crushed) ice, combine 1 jigger peach schnappes; 1 jigger cocoanut run; 1 jigger vodka; fill with pineapple juice, add a spash of cranberry juice.
Very tasty, a very nice fruity drink.

So today I'm loafing and recuperating, might have to break out the hammock. Tonight, I think I'm just going to BBQ a chicken, grill some veggie, and make some red beans & rice.

Living to eat or eating to live? Moot point, I think. At my age, biologically I'm not supposed to be here anyway.

More later on reading and music.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Folk Ontology

Meant to mention in the last post, re web 2.0 and tagging, that the tagging process seems to be creating "folk ontologies", similar to folk psychology, folk physics, etc. It seems to me that there are three levels here:
  1. Formal ontology creation using OWL/RDF by a domain expert -- this is how Sir Tim's Semantic Web is supposed to be built.
  2. Structured organization of knowledge by semi-pro experts, as in Wikipedia.
  3. Tag heirarchies created by everyone and their brother, as in
I had the thought recently that you should be able to generate in an automated manner, the top level, formal OWL/RDF ontologies, from the lowest level, tag heirarchies. It seemed intuitively obvious to me that this was doable -- but I started to think about how and went, hmmm ...
  • Do you have to have some seed ontologies to start with?
  • Ontologies are primarily IsA (UML Generalization) and HasA (UML Composition) networks -- surely those can be generated from the tags?
Hey hey, I may have found my open source retirement project -- if no one has done this in the next 10 years -- pretty unlikely.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Donating Cycles to the Group Mind

Too bad I already had this title picked out, because, according to Blogger, this is post #100 to "Portrait of the Dumbass". First post was May 4, 2003, that is ~ 1500 days ago -- so I've averaged 2/month. Not enough, no wonder I have so few fans.

So I noticed, blogger now has a place to enter labels. I am entering them, good practice at tagging / classification / taxonomification. The whole web 2.0 tagging stuff like got me wondering tho. The wisdom of the group mind is at the bottom of google's ranking scheme, has created wikipedia, and in general surprises me with its ability to produce good results. The question is, how many cycles are you willing to donate to the group mind?

For me, the answer is, not a lot. I really don't have the time. Funny tho, some of the science fiction classics where the group mind takes over or tries to take over, like Swanwick's "Vacuum Flowers" blogged earlier or the Meme Wars from John Barnes "Kaleidoscope Century", the group mind makes you An Offer You Can't Refuse. Don't see that happening anytime soon, but it seems funny that it is a voluntary activity instead.

Recently have read two by Elizabeth Bear: a novel "Hammered", 1st of a trilogy, and a short story collection "The Chains That You Refuse". I liked one of her stories in the year's best, but neither the novel nor the short stories really work well. The novel is going for a noir feel, but, I think it's main problem is that the heroine just isn't enough of a badass. I will read the two others tho, see if it gets any better.

Also read two by Larry Niven. I remember in the late 70's some of the guys I worked with at DEC thought that Ringworld was The Greatest Thing Ever. So, read "Ringworld's Children", was kind of surprised when it kind of came to a conclusion -- one of those that just kind of meander pointlessly for a while. Also read "The Draco Tavern", a short story collection that had some cute stories. Still, no links for either.

My daughter the graphic designer has applied an appropriate style sheet to this blog, it looks much nicer, thanks Erica. Also has a links area, I can think of 2 appropriate links in addition to the family ones that Erica initialized it with, I'll see if I can add them.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

What Global Warming?

So last weekend the wif and I left Thursday am for a trip to Charleston, SC, followed by a visit to our son and daughter-in-law (and my baby sister and her family) in Morrisville, NC. So at around 4:30 p, 5/17/7, we are about 30 miles northwest of Charleston when we start noticing haze/fog/smoke? It gets worse as we get into Charleston. Crossing Charleston Bay (the Prius' GPS was seriously surprised that the bridge it knew about was no longer there), you couldn't see a mile. We get to the place we're staying and get out you can clearly smell cypress in the smoke. Ask around, it's from the fires in Florida, ~ 300 miles away. And I'm thinking, increased temperature, increased O2 in the atmosphere, both global warming side effects, both give more and longer fires ...

Then a couple hours later, walking along a marina there on Charleston Bay, we see a manatee feeding -- way cool, 2 ft wide by 9-10 long, looked like he weighted at least a half ton, bright white propeller scan on his back. And I'm thinking, I thought these guys stayed down in Florida? And three people I ask all say, I thought they stayed in Florida. And I'm thinking, species moving north, global warming, global warming ...

But, the next day, someone told me that manatees weren't uncommon there, and when I got home, wikipedia said that they have been seen as far north as Cape Cod (they like to hang out by power plants, always warm there).

So, maybe it's not The End Days of Global Warming. But, at this point, it is pretty much an accepted scientific fact. Al Gore's movie is very entertaining, but also very scary. My wife was telling me about a coworker, a pharmacist, former military, dedicated republican/bushite, expounding on how there is no global warming, that data has been misinterpreted and misrepresented by people with green agendas. If that is not a case of projection, I don't know what is. Scientists who misrepresent data lose their credibility and their jobs. The only thing I have heard of re misrepresentation of data is that of the many documented cases of republican political hack appointees who have edited scientific reports and removed anything that did not fit in with their political views/goals.

It's kind of funny tho. I feel fairly confident that there is no "green cabal" in the scientific community. Too many scientists (basically 100%) believe that the data supports human-generated global warming for it to be a cabal. But, (the funny tho part), I have no trouble believing that the neocon republican leadership is a cabal working to their own agenda, one of the top items of which is protecting big oil. So who's the paranoid?

Biked this morning, much better, 25 miles in 2h0m. Still, I was dying at about the 50 minute mark and took a 10 minute break. I think the problem may be, that since I have quit smoking, I have gone from 0-4 oz of alcohol a day to around 3-6, and I think that I have quit paying attention to my hydration when drinking. I used to pretty much always drink 3-4 oz water (in addition to mixers) for each oz of alcohol. I think I need to get back to serious hydration. In another month or two, when more of my "want a smoke" routines have timed out and been put into mental hibernation (hopefully), I will cut back on the drinking.

Until then, as Albert Collins says:

I don't care what other people thinkin'
I'm not drunk, I'm just drinkin'.