Monday, June 30, 2008

I'm a Twonk

Yes, it official. It seems a man from the UK has placed his desires on my domain name and does not like that I own it, thus posted my physical address (from whois, not like I was guarding it - plus its WAAAYY out dated).

I'm sure this is just an attempt to alleviate his own annoyance at me owning the less than maintained retro '95-esque web design. Oddly enough I found his blogger account about a month ago before his post. My intention was to digitally "high-five" him for the awesomeness of his choice of on-line persona. I even had the thought of offering him an entry in my DNS record for a subdomain, but alas, people don't think like me, and instead of emailing me the high-five first, he writes a diatribe of his desire and inability to achieve it.

I'm going to use you as and example Mr. Prozacville. An example of what we all do when we desire and somewhere we convince ourself that the desire is not possible.

You never attempted to achieve your end goal. You have a desire and yet only acted to acknowledge the desire, and not to achieve it. Had you evaluated a simple action plan to obtain your end goal, the list would have started with

  • purchase said domain from owner

  • purchase a subdomain as compromise

  • can I get either for free?

Had you evaluated the above, the only action that can solve these problems is to send an email to the owner and see what happens.

Desires tends to blind us as to what to do to get it. Especially when we live in a world where most people are selfish. Our automatic response is this individual is not nice enough to give me what I want, or compromise with a stranger.

I for one hate that version of the world. He is right though. Statistically speaking, I am a twonk. As a person who wants something owned by only one other person in this world, you have to envision that he realizes he would have to obtain this item from the that person. That person is an unknown. He would be just an average person - the person who bumps into him on the side walk with no apology, the person who flips him off when THEY cut him off in the first place.

Now we live in a world of bits and bytes. All of these abstractions just allow us to forget there are people there. Our first instincts are to assume they are unreasonable people. This is all a part of self-fulfilling prophecy. We become an unreasonable person when we expect people to be unreasonable.

Buddhism's 4 noble truths really fit this in a way probably all of us can see. He suffered for his desires, and passed that suffering to another, and from that suffering it is possible to pass it to another, and so on.

Except I feel obliged to end suffering. I can't remove his desires, but amicably solving them seems a solution that would suit us both, it achieves the one thing I've always wanted on prozacville - content, and people interested in evolving the idea. And it solves his desires to be located in a more recognizable place.

Actually he's right I am a twonk. Truth be told I had convinced myself that he wouldn't be as reasonable about me offering him a sub-domain, or even talking about it. Since I assumed he would be protective of his persona, I subconsciously assumed he'd be a jerk about me owning the domain, which led me to dawdle on sending an email, which in turn fulfilled the prophecy of him being a jerk, when he made his post. But I know better, neither of us are twonks or jerks, we are just people trying to live in a world where people are no longer truly 'living'.

*sigh* - Everyone go hug a stranger now. Yeah thought so, stop agreeing to truths if you don't plan on living them.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Quantum Physics & the Spawn of a New Word 'Macroscoponomy'

I love to read lots of physics articles, and I notice plenty of people who post comments on them not understanding some of the most basic of ideas that make physics and more specifically quantum physics work. I'm starting a new word, and with it a new thought process. This style of thinking isn't new or anything but I felt like documenting my thoughts on it. Perhaps someone will gain some new insight.

Macroscoponomy the study of the idea of macroscopically labeling things, and overcomming your personal predilection to see things as one or the other, as a binary system.

In your average everyday life, it is easy to call one object a car, a brick, or a person. These macroscopic terms are wondrously useful for our interactions in the world. But sometimes we need to see things that are outside of our normal interactions.

This isn't really any particular definition as to the word I'm defining. Its more along the lines of "this is how realized it". Maybe you can gain from this realization.

As I was learning physics, I noticed that when I read anything it was assumed that once they defined a something you just knew what that something was. You had to take that definition as a biblical truth and that definition ends up having no weight or meaning to anyone. It's just a memorized fact. This is common amongst many disciplines, you are supposed to learn 'X is this' you are then supposed to understand that you should not permanently sear this idea into your brain, you will learn the real truth later. The idea being, you proably wouldn't really understand the more advanced process involved in this, and you can understand the lesser version of it to solve this 'problem X'. Problem being many of us rely on our foundations and can't break them very easily.

Years ago I was pondering quantum physics and some articles on string theory and a few others on decaying radioactive wastes and their by-products. I was trying to visualize what they were talking about, and it was getting harder and harder - until one day it finally hit me. That my original ideas for what an electron is was wrong.

Everything has softer edges than the model I had somewhat tempered. Based on all the junk I was taught for years and years, I somehow had a mental model of an electron as something akin to a "magnetic marble" - it had a defined shape size and boundaries, and a field to interact with other particles. The truth is picturing it as a 'field' minus the marble isn't probably to far off.

Any of those things they define in quantum physics is more like a large thunderous storm. A storm of fields or forces that interact. From miles away you can see the thunderhead and you know that it imparts water below it. Much like you know that an electron is affected by a mutual atractive force between it and the nucleus of the atom. Both also appear to have an edge or measureable volume, so as a macroscopic being you actually assign a boundary to both. You shouldn't

Once you think of an atom as a storm - you should then immagine the whole atom looking something similar (not to similar now!) to jupiter and its storms. The whole planet is likely a storm, with smaller more concentrated storms in certain areas - an atom with electrons surrounding it is like a large storm with smaller storms all surrounding it, none of these have a defined edge.

If you back away from this a little more you can understand the quantum ideology of an electron doesn't really "orbit" the nucleus, but it sorta does. Its just a storm of "forces" that are mutually atracted and repulsed by the other storm of forces we label the nucleus. This constant tug of war pushes the fields that correspond to an electron all over the place, but in a relatively fixed distance from the center. This visualization also corresponds to the "electron cloud" and quite similarly defined by Feynman as a solution to Schrödinger's equation - but that gets advanced and out of the scope of this article.

All of these names then are just labels of convenience for us, since we like to think integrally and macroscopically. It took me a long time to overcome my predilection for thinking with these integral divisions of nature, when was the last time you were able to actually divide nature into even integral divisions?

Anyway, there are other things we do that we like to define this way. Your computer screen as a matter of fact, doesn't actually make circles! You see circles, but there aren't any. You only see a close approximation of circles made of squares called pixels. Its odd, because many of you are thinking, I knew this, but never thought about it. Sorta like Legos, when I build a truck do you see a pile of legos randomly joined to form a incidental shape recognizable as a truck or do you see a truck? We all see a truck but we know that it is made of other items.

I suppose this ends up being a case of "you can't see the trees cause of the forest", and yet here I go again, a where does a field stop and a forest begin?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Evolution, Language & SEX!

So I was sitting at home on a new interest. I've been playing with neural networks. Training them to perform different tasks and I've decided to make them have a "little fun" ;)

I've been using pygame and a neural network library written in C (converted completely to python, to which I'll create a python interface to the C code someday)

I've been playing with 'food' finding 'bugs' and evolved them to the point where they are so efficient at finding 'food', that they pretty much clear the screen quite quickly.

The next iteration I come up with was a "food" reservoir - reservoirs would be filled up with random numbers(amounts of food) the bugs that get there would feed off them decreasing the reservoir, when its zero it goes away and they move on. This behaviour was easy to get out of them as well, in fact its pretty easy to make any arbitrarily complex singular behaviour emerge.

But I stepped it up a notch, I added a output signal called ping, and ping will trigger an input reciever on anyone who is in range.

I was hoping to get them to eventually realize they can telling other bugs where food is. I realized how amazingly complex it is to derive this behavior. No matter what I tried, short of forcing them to realize the benefit of this behaviour, actually made them work together.

See they babble at random moments or just constantly "yell" or are silent. They just ping people willy nilly, or produce a constant on or off ping - and the converse then is true, since they hear stuff in that same fashion, they have yet to actually try to communicate.

It makes you wonder how the hell humans evolved this behavior in the first place. Imagine a random noise, but not realizing that you need to connect that noise to a pattern, since there is no pattern, there is no purpose in integrating it. It never becomes important and is completely ignored. Listeners ignore thier ears and talkers ignore their mouths. Its almost impossible to make this pattern show up on its own. Well save for one idea.

I was discussing this with a co-worker and jocularly I mentioned enforcing patterns based on using sex, and then it hit me. Communities that work together "play" together. If you look at nature, communication only happens within species that are coital. It might be the most rudimentary communication, maybe a scent or secretion that says "lets reproduce" but when you get down to it seems to actually hold true. Which makes me ponder if language is a side effect of needing to attract mates.

This made me chuckle. I mean, I realize it the one thing as a man that pretty much concerns us all unilaterally - the ability to woo a women with words alone! We all worry about our physical appearance and our ability to "perform". But the one thing that worries us most is if we can just impress them! We all know that once they are at least impressed with you, as long as you aren't horrible in the other areas - most those issues aren't important. The converse is true as well, it doesn't matter how great you are, in any particular physical areas - if you can't at least be basically cordial you'll loose out.

Ah the insights to human nature that software developers can discover, whilst making programs that screw.

So tonight, I'm putting on the Barry Manilow, and turning the lights down, and teaching a neural network to learn how to mate. This could take a while :P

Also, does anyone have an idea on what the simplest sexual creature is, are there any bacteria that mate?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Homogenize my society, not my Milk

I watched this video today, I must say this isn't for the faint of heart.

The video discusses animal cruelty of the meat industry, and I wholeheartedly agree that the practices are sometimes bad. It is obviously biased towards the vegan crowd. Though however cruel the video will never make me not want to eat meat. Its just not possible, I love steak, I like chicken, I've never been a pork fan.

The alternatives are simple, I can raise the animal myself, and do the slaughtering - which might have worked years ago, but not in todays society. I could go to my local farmers market, but I have reservations about getting meat from there as well.

I don't like those options. Imagine slaughtering your dinner right before you eat it (you might not, I might, I like fresh steak) . What about the logistics of what to do with the left overs? It's no longer socially acceptable to use the bones as jewelry/decorations any more. And I for one don't really need another cow stomach flask. I'll take my estrogen generating plastic anyday.

Whats wrong with the farmers market? Not much that I can say, its just not attractive to me. The farmers market isn't at all regulated by the same FDA standards that say wal-mart purchased food does. Not even if it were would I be interested, at least for meat. These individuals are doing what they can to make money, and they wouldn't intentionally poison me, I don't believe that. But I don't believe they wouldn't cheat the system to make an extra few bucks. And who's to say that what you bought actually passed the test?

Don't forget the titular reference I made, homogenized milk. There are some documents that link high cholesterol and heart disease to homogenized milk. They are somewhat anecdotal - but neither side produces convincing arguments as to which is right.

That brings me back around to what I'd like to really get at. Its obvious that the massive slaughter houses, homogenization, and plastics production are a product of needing to feed/support massive cultures. And don't get me started on global warming, and pollution.

Animal cruelty is there simply because, if you don't slaughter it it, slaughtering becomes someones job. Homogenizing milk happens because it makes it more marketable, why not use goat or sheep milk? The plastics we use are a all part of the same pattern, making life easier for those who want it.

Food processing, is all about containing in nice small packets - easy to ship and easy to move - all your food products to make marketing and manufacturing also fit into nice little packets. So that our personal society can also fit into nice little packets. We call them cities.

Its obvious that people in control of the things we need are more than willing to cut corners in order to make an extra dollar. But when we can hold people responsible for these cut corners we can really call ourselves a civilization.

Its simple, large city and and infrastructure are just designed to make the average human fit into the same molds that we force our animals into. And it's obvious that homogenization may be necessary, but not of our food.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Introduction, with rambling

I recently moved to Columbia, MO. I've already fallen in love with this city, but it has greatly traumatized my social life. I'm so used to having a huge following of friends and socialites always calling and partying or just randomly showing up. I hardly ever made plans, plans were made for me.
Now I find my life extremely open, to open. I feel bored. Over the past 6 months I've realize that I have a severe disability, I can no longer make friends. I can't be the only person who actually likes to go out in public and associate with people. So if you like to just wander around doing absolutely nothing important, and perhaps a wee bit random, feel free to just email me, I'm actually interested!

I'm a bit of a extroverted geek, this is a rare combination I don't mind arguing over which is better Battlestar Galactica (new/old) vs Babylon 5 - in public... or hell in a fancy restaurant (and loudly at both!) I don't think I look like the average geek. But that's debatable, I kinda toggle between geek styles/prep.. which is hilarious compared to the 'past' me. I once considered myself and dress - appropriately 'goth' - 'back in the day'. And yes I still have a large collection of Marilyn Manson memorabilia, hey .. it happens to the best of us .!?

Yes, if you ever wondered what happend to the goth's in high school, you don't have to look to far. Most of them are still pail white, serving hamburgers, but there are a few that ended up pail white as computer software engineers.

I'm of the latter ilk, I'm a software developer lately specializing in web, but I've done everything from DOS/Win16-32-64/Linux from API level assembler to C and others. For the longest time I did Delphi/Pascal under windows. I got to work on some nice projects but oddly enough I can only think of one with a link AVImark from McAllister Software - quite a lot of my other stuff was NDA'ed or backend and wouldn't make a difference.

I currently work for Direct Freight doing a mix of web development in php/perl some linux administration basic apache stuff - some asterisk, and my personal fave python. The python stuff is an embeded pygame/python app, perhaps when this product goes to "market" I can show off some screen shots of my little creation. (no its not a game :P)

Since there is almost no one around I have a lot of free time. I've been building an arcade/mame box, mostly searching for parts. (anyone have a 27" tv they'd like to ditch, or trade/cash) I've been working on AVR programming, and building a CNC machine. I have most of the parts for this, I just have to figure out the electronics and stepper motor drivers for it.

I've been wanting to start a Columbia, MO makers group - hopefully I'll get some spare time to change that blank site into something good, I've been working on art for it, and it looks "groovy" - oh yeah I'm a bit of a graphic artist.

I can also work my own cars, I can do most household doit-yourself projects, including more advanced do-it yourself projects. I worked for a short stint doing home remodelling. Both of those activities seem to be a family trade, can't avoid getting your hands dirty with us.

So hopefully I'll post some updates, and actually try moving, some of my social life into the virtual world. I really do this in the hopes that this will connect me to real life people.

Oh yeah, are there any Linux user groups around here, or maybe some local D&D action, not that I'm good at D&D - in fact I can't ever role a character up that is worth crap. I'm really REALLY good at doing dynamic story lines for games though ;)