29 December 2006

09-29 December 2006 links

The power of low standards (recent Dilbert)
Nice animated religions-history map (falls for phony Judaism date) (Flash via mshook)
Stats on household electricity waste (blog via dy)
Proust-in-English etext (9pg)
And they call the wind 'Placenta' (oDinny)
Links to alternate calendar-designs (Infosthetics)
'going #3' = throwing up (dTongue)
New NYRB (toc)
'trailing spouse' = moves to spouse's new job-city (dTongue)
LOL's Not Out Loud (dYeti-vshort)
New Pynchon riddled with typos (wiki-list)
ClicheWatch: "Did I just say that out loud?" (GgBooks)
Another good comix critique (cCrmdgn)
Miracle-cure for diabetics? (Can via vBoat)
'grow-op' = basement pot farm (dTongue)
'flashbulb memory' = eg where you were when jfk was shot (dTongue)
Archie's Betty and Veronica get makeover/update (pic-friv via Waxy)
IsraelLobby vs IraqStudyGroup (Uruk via Xym)
Boycott these Zionist corporations (Peace via Xym)
Flying toy flaps wings (rGossip w/pic)
Did Conan Doyle whack Houdini? (Can via eAard)
The six degrees of Suzie Creamcheese (oDinny)
Short speed romance (oDinny)
The YokoOno of violinists? (yTube-2min via eAard)
'fling a craving' = inspire another's craving (dTongue)
Google's new patent search (GgP via iGreed)
$1B anthrax-vaccine boondoggle (Harpers)
Senator's MySpace Top 8 All Corporations (new Onion)
It just blew his mind that this stuff actually existed in the real world (oDinny)
'try-me virus' = web-meme you never visit again (dTongue-Shirky)
Zune lays egg (iGreed w/links)
Massachusetts county tries local currency (Sam)
Walgreen's $10 keychain digicam reviewed (oPhoto via dy)
FederalReserve's mission creep (dBaker-vshort)
Full "Lot 49" etext (300k) [GgB-V] [Az-V] [V notes]
Jimmy Carter on his new critique-of-Israel book (LaTms via gRoom)
Nietzsche quotes randomly paired with FamilyCircus toons (hit-refresh via Fim)
'snivel gear' = for sissy campers (dTongue)
Short profile of SCTV's Eugene Levy (NYer)
31yo hedgefund manager loses $6.6B (Blmbrg via iGreed)
dYeti recommends year's best boardgames (Morn)

Meta 101

suppose incoming freshmen
at some big university
got to spend their first week
getting an intensive overview
of all the courses offered
at every level

fleshing out the arid course catalog
into a mini-encyclopedia

illustrated with slideshows depicting
textbooks notebooks blackboards

the graphs they draw
the simulations they code

maybe a few words
from every possible professor

lecturers sharing anecdotes
about the sorts of thing you'll learn
the skills required
the current hot topics
employment opportunities
publications available

boiling down the essence
as accessibly as possible

Meta 101

and then suppose the
a.i. department
offered an advanced grad seminar

Meta-meta 681 (the semantic web)

that looked at possible ontologies
that might someday
precisely describe
the full breadth of Meta 101

(should metameta 681 be discussed
in the first or last lecture
of meta 101?

or every lecture?)


NPR 2.0

if change is effected most quickly
by applying pressure at the weakest point

then loosening
the corporate media stranglehold
might best be addressed
by implementing a web2.0 'shadow'
to NPR

where news-spin can be collectively challenged
obnoxious egos downrated
story ideas opened to public vote


28 December 2006

Lifeline graphpaper

Copy this template to a wordprocessor (set it to Courier or another monospaced font), and graph your personal lifeline using the horizontal axis for longitude. (Maybe use "I" if you were there all year, "i" if only a month or more, "." if you just visited.)

168 144 120 96 72 48 24 0 24 48 72 96 120 144 168 180
2006 2006
2005 2005
2004 2004
2003 2003
2002 2002
2001 2001
2000 2000
1999 1999
1998 1998
1997 1997
1996 1996
1995 1995
1994 1994
1993 1993
1992 1992
1991 1991
1990 1990
1989 1989
1988 1988
1987 1987
1986 1986
1985 1985
1984 1984
1983 1983
1982 1982
1981 1981
1980 1980
1979 1979
1978 1978
1977 1977
1976 1976
1975 1975
1974 1974
1973 1973
1972 1972
1971 1971
1970 1970
1969 1969
1968 1968
1967 1967
1966 1966
1965 1965
1964 1964
1963 1963
1962 1962
1961 1961
1960 1960
1959 1959
1958 1958
1957 1957
1956 1956
1955 1955
1954 1954
1953 1953
1952 1952
1951 1951
1950 1950
168 144 120 96 72 48 24 0 24 48 72 96 120 144 168 180

Alternate idea, continental USA only, two years per line:

125 120 115 110 105 100 95 90 85 80 75 70 65
2006 2006
2004 2004
2002 2002
2000 2000
1998 1998
1996 1996
1994 1994
1992 1992
1990 1990
1988 1988
1986 1986
1984 1984
1982 1982
1980 1980
1978 1978
1976 1976
1974 1974
1972 1972
1970 1970
1968 1968
1966 1966
1964 1964
1962 1962
1960 1960
1958 1958
1956 1956
1954 1954
1952 1952
1950 1950
125 120 115 110 105 100 95 90 85 80 75 70 65

27 December 2006

Proust on the novelist's art

"...none of the feelings
which the joys or misfortunes
of a 'real' person
awaken in us
can be awakened except through
a mental picture of those joys or misfortunes;
and the ingenuity of the first novelist
lay in his understanding that,
as the picture was the one essential element
in the complicated structure of our emotions,
so that simplification of it
which consisted in the suppression, pure and simple,
of 'real' people
would be a decided improvement.

A 'real' person,
profoundly as we may sympathise with him,
is in a great measure perceptible only
through our senses,
that is to say, he remains opaque,
offers a dead weight
which our sensibilities
have not the strength to lift.

If some misfortune comes to him,
it is only in one small section
of the complete idea we have of him
that we are capable of feeling any emotion;
indeed it is only in one small section
of the complete idea he has of himself
that he is capable of feeling any emotion either.

The novelist's happy discovery
was to think of substituting
for those opaque sections,
impenetrable by the human spirit,
their equivalent in
immaterial sections,
things, that is,
which the spirit can assimilate to itself."

One of Pynchon's girlfriends praised this quality in his company-- everything they did together seemed transformed into a movie.

And Joyce's method, after extracting an epiphany from its arbitrary context, was to re-clothe it in a "decor ideal".


18 December 2006

Judgment as a modality on the Tree of Life

each time a human branch
encounters (or hears of)
another branch
judgments are made

if branch A goes away
from an encounter with branch B
with a negative judgment
let branch B (not A)
be colored red from that point
until A's judgment changes

yellow for neutral
green for positive
(or even a full-spectrum
typology of judgments)

A's lifeline
meanders from locale to locale
making judgments that
everyone A encounters
(or hears about)

A in infancy
coloring only a few close relatives

spreading 'paint'
as A's horizons spread

demonstrating more or less inflexibility
in changing judgments

more or less gullibility
in accepting others' self-judgments

more or less compassion
in allowing for others' differences

and complementarily
each time a B
encounters A (or hears of A)
that B forms a judgment

'passively' painted horizons
spreading similarly
except where many Bs
hear of A
(infamy, renown)
without A 'hearing back'

and if we toggle
between these views
vs others'-judgments-of-A

we can look for red/green dichotomies
he loves her
she loves him not


16 December 2006

From Usenet to blogs

google recently added
to blogger

so if you click on a tag
you get a single page
with all that blogger's posts
tagged with that tag
in reverse chronological order [eg]

but i don't think they yet offer
rss feeds for that

nor feeds for all posts
by all blogger authors
(or all blogosphere authors)
with that tag
though technorati probably does [yep]

but since 1980
has been offering such 'feeds'

calling tags 'newsgroups'
and making chronological order practical
via a 'newsrc' file
that tracks which posts
have already been seen/read

it's purely a technical fluke
that usenet never offered

(though dejanews did
and google groups does)

and robot wisdom weblog
originated partly
to remedy this

regularly linking
my best usenet posts
(for which, unsurprisingly
i was flamed)

but beyond feeds-by-author
i was aiming too
for feeds-by-editor

not just my own best
but every keeper i found

and since i had to use web urls anyway
(via deja and GgG)
not just good usenet posts

but also good webpages


Historical note

my spiritual/esthetic
split into 'before' and 'after'
on 13 april 1974
as i was mopping a floor
pondering krishnamurti and
a girl i had a crush on
but felt unworthy of

and then the penny dropped

(as it had, i think
for joyce in august 1902
pondering maud gonne)

i had put my spiritual room in order
(in krishnamurti's phrase)
and the window could open

not as an act of will

seeing an image
(in the gospel of thomas's phrase)
as an image

and my tastes mostly crystallised then
pynchon-nabokov-stone-murdoch-gs brown

no longer straining to emulate
the priorities of academics

but still unable to articulate
or defend my preferences

so over the next decades
as i practiced this articulation/defense
i was appalled to find myself
a magnet/target
for vituperation

my independence consistently
rubbed people the wrong way

and the more articulate i got
the more extreme
became my isolation

(so far as i can tell
the notion of
loyal friend
is a myth

and nobody nowhere's
dared to make a webpage
appreciating my site/ideas)

the blog was an attempt
to bridge that rift

a window of opportunity
when quality web-content
was hard to find

and so long as
my conventional tastes
sufficiently balanced my heresies
my blog audience grew

but once i'd linked
and other critics of israel
the balance catastrophically
and vituperatively

hardly anyone dared link me anymore

so i retreated to joyce studies
and the history of ideas


09 December 2006

Glass earworms on the Tree of Life

imagine a car stereo
that selected its own tunes
as a way of keeping you informed
about its systems' health

mellow tunes when all was mellow
hard rockers when you need to stay alert

and whenever a problem
needs immediate attention
a super-annoying
atonal repetitive
Philip Glass phrase

which i'll dub
a 'Glass earworm'

the infelicitous consensus
for songs that get stuck
in your mental jukebox)

so graphing your personal
mental jukebox playlist

green for creative
yellow for normal
orange for normally-annoying earworms
red for drive-you-nuts Glass earworms

suggesting something urgent
you're denying?

Do you ever suffer Glass earworms?

Yes, and I make an effort to root out the underlying problem

Yes, but they eventually work themselves out

All the time, they're driving me nuts



Don't understand



The Tree of Life as robot schematics

the tragedy
of 20th century social science
was its neurotic rejection
of the classical standards
of literary culture
(as effeminate)
in favor of
cargo-cult-level emulation
of mathematical physics
(as manly)

so the challenge
for 21st century social science
is to
outgrow those neuroses

clear away the
fake math

find a new math
that's compatible with
the wisdom of old literature

that offers a toolkit
for sketching paths
for robot behavior


a toolkit rich enough
to sketch the paths
of fictional heroes

Leopold Bloom
Stephen Dedalus
Anna Karenin
Frederic Moreau of L'Education sentimentale
Charles Swann of Proust's Recherche

of historical figures

abstracting their motives

their developmental life-histories
their families
their communities

as embedded
within the Tree of Life

topologically connected
4D worldlines

whose full detail
(though unattainable)
would crystallise
all possible


07 December 2006

Pynchon's defenses of socialism, of terrorism

"...Merely to need a sum
is not to deserve it."

"...In these times,
'need' arises directly from
criminal acts of the rich,
so it 'deserves'
whatever amount of money
will atone for it."

(Against the Day page 32)

"If you are not devoting every breath
of every day
waking and sleeping
to destroying those
who slaughter the innocent
easy as signing a check,
then how innocent
are you willing to call yourself?"

(Against the Day page 87)


06 December 2006

Testosterone on the Tree of Life

the esteem motive parallels
at least in part
one's testosterone level

so if we map testosterone
green high
yellow normal
red depressed

(and similarly for other hormones)

the red phases
should be accompanied
by effort to restore esteem

and mindwrestling
often involves cunning blows
to the testosterone gland


05 December 2006

01-08 December 2006 links

Iraq is massproducing superterrorists (iSteve w/link)
Urban planners don't understand latino culture (iSteve-shortish)
Nice example of daily-comix crit (cCrmdgn)
How did they get the people to stand still long enough to paint their faces and stuff? (oDoffice)
'Clitorides.' (Seriously.) (oDinny)
Nifty visualisation of USA's gWarming emissions (map via eAard)
More salmonella than ever in factory chicken (cRprts via iGreed)
Eric Foner disses W (WaPo-junky via vBoat)
Mixed critique of NPR (Sam-shortish)
CNN alone posts Ahmadinejad's critique of Zionism (etext via Sam)
Area Man Accidentally Responds To Own 'M4M' Ad (Onion-short)
Pretty US zip code maps (maps via Infosthetics)
Examples of badly designed products (thread-no-pix via Fim)
'pill dough' = crushed cold pills for meth labs (dTongue)
Pharmco development 'a total crapshoot' (iGreed)
No, this is my life (oDinny)
Black Cheech&Chong (oDinny)
Upbeat subjective update on Wikipedia (tBray-short)
12 things you can buy from Amazon (eAard-vfriv)
CSS stylesheets are slowing the Web (heh via jm)
Tom McGuane story (NYer-unread)
Rummy's parting words on Iraq spin (iGreed-vshort w/link)
Annotations to new Pynchon (wiki)
Hobo vs little boy (oDinny)
Seven-year-old boy to his three-month-old sister (oDinny)
Backgrounder on Russian polonium poisoning (Xym)
Psychology in 'The Sims' (2003 PsychToday)
Elegant Haskell hack (Gm-short-arcane)

Maslow on the Tree of Life

the goal
of the Tree of Life

is to discover
by arduous bumbling
new geometric metaphors
for literary/psychological nuances

and this one's a beaut

like any list of motives
is necessarily both
and incomplete

so it's a useful exercise
to ask, for each proposed motive
on the Tree of Life
which branches
at which moments
are dominated by that motive

and explore coloring schemes
to capture this

(right this moment
what motives
color those immediately around you?)

eg hunger
universally dominates cyclically
with famine at one
frequency extreme
and an IV drip
at the other

or comfort
making continual small demands

or sex
usually triggered by proximity
of an interfertile couple

or safety
never recapturing the primal womb
but well-cushioned by wealth

or esteem
vaguely discontent
with anonymous alienation

or stimulation
antsy from too much regularity

and when the patterns of dominance
for each of these
and 100 more
have been visualised and compared

(eg how are
conflicting motives

a truly universal model
of motivation
becomes more plausible


03 December 2006

Orthodoxy and heresy as modalities on the Tree of Life

for a given school of ethics
on the yahoo zodiac
color white
all orthodox views

color black
any wholesale rejection
of the chosen school

(notice whether black or white
has the innermost orbit
ie the greater popularity)

and classify
all specific heresies
into six groups
with as many subdivisions/shades
as you like

considering the whole Tree of Life
use this color scheme
to identify lifelong heretics
heretics just going thru a phase
gradually confirmed heretics
heretical teachers
heretical schools
heretical populations
heretical species
(eg bonobos
always the violet sexual heretics)


02 December 2006

The Pynchonian historian

with 'Against the Day'
pynchon fans finally have
a large new body of
Gravity'sRainbow-like prose

allowing much better triangulation
of what th' heck TRP is up to
and how

if we want to explore
any period of history
via the old pynchonoscope

we first ask

what intoxicants were available?

what subversive groups
plotted against what power elites?

what superstitions
lingered at the fringes?

what new scientific theories
mathematical metaphors
metaphysical speculations
were about to stir up controversy?

which old ones
were fading from fashion?

what was the general state
of language and literature?

then take the standard
comic ethnic stereotypes

and contrast them against
anachronistic human hipsters
(who enter poetic fugue states
at the drop of a hat)

and glimpses of real love

find fitting names
for streets and bars

your painstaking researches
by alluding to the worst obscurities
in the most offhand way


01 December 2006

Influence as a modality on the Tree of Life

choose some human branch
on the Tree of Life

and consider all the other
human branches
ever influenced by that branch

color them green where
that influence is positive

red where it's negative
(yellow mixed)

find whose influence is reddest
(rush limbaugh, rm scaife)

whose greenest
(jesus? john lennon?)

(can someone be a good influence
on some branches
but bad on others?

a good influence sometimes
but bad at other times?)


Inspiration on the Tree of Life

color green those moments
when an artist
finds true inspiration

where they substitute craft

where they sell out
their muse

notice how green
were the Sixties

how rarely green
are even the best poets
(with WB Yeats as best case)

how inspiration descends
in bursts
for hours or days

rarely weeks


Ego-balance on the Tree of Life

let panic be red
anxiety orange
ordinary existential alienation yellow
and inner peace green

notice which individuals
are normally green
which normally orange

notice life-shifts
between green and orange

notice individuals who
green or orange to their neighbors

notice media channels
that amplify those transmissions

notice paradoxical greens
(eg) in the heat of battle

(reds in the coolth of peace?)


The olfactory zodiac and smell-o-betical order

by exact analogy
with the yahoo zodiac

we can visualise elastic links
between the taste-and-smell
of every pair of chemical compounds

and allow the whole to 'relax'
into an optimal shape
with similar smells clustered

and then find an axis of rotation
that offers maximal separation (say)
between the basic tastebud categories
(sweet sour salt etc)

and then flatten the whole
along this axis
so that every chemical
has a precise sequential
angle of rotation

in 'smell-o-betical order'
on this olfactory zodiac

and we can then promote
the most-commonly-experienced chemicals
into the innermost orbits

and demote the least common
to the outermost orbits

and we can light these 'stars'
(eg) by toxicity
with most toxic shining reddest
most nutritious shining greenest
neutral yellow