Thursday, June 30, 2005

All Time Low

Do you know what I'm sick of? I'm sick of these stupid little gimmicks everyone is linking in their blogs. You know the ones I mean - the links that take you to a pagefull of useless quizzes that tell you which Star Trek character you are, or what your favorite flavor of ice cream says about you. Here's a newsflash: Nobody gives a damn.

Go ahead and be proud you've got so much in common with Handy Smurf, or that your Virtual Tarot Card reading says that you're a deeply creative and insightful person. Whatever makes you feel better. Just don't fill your blogs with this junk. It's not like these things are accurate or even entertaining - they just tell you what you want to hear.

Don't believe me? I can prove it. How about Who's My Famous Blogger Twin? It doesn't matter what I do. In the end I'm sure it'll tell me I'm just wonderful. Simply answer a few questions . . . and viola!

Your Famous Blogger Twin is Wil Wheaton

That's Right - Wil Fucking Wheaton

What the hell?!?

But he's so whiney! I'm not whiney!

At least it shows these things aren't accurate. What could I have in common with this almost forgotten former actor? I suppose, for the sake of thoroughness I should investigate, if only to prove my point.

Let's see . . . it seems he's something of a wannabe computer geek ... he likes to write, apparently not very well ... he's into poker, geocaching, and OH MY GOD . . . he even drinks Guinness.

Well that's strangely disturbing. He really is my long lost evil-twin brother. Six lousy questions and that quiz matched me up with my ultimate alterego. How depressing. Could it be that these things are dead on?

Hmmm, obviously my taste is music is 'archaic and decidedly uncool', I don't care enough about 'my look', and it seems I'm just 'okay' in the sack. At least now I know. My pornstar name is, Ivan Dinklehoff, but I'm guessing I won't be using it since I'm only marginally adequate in bed. The good news is I apparently have latent psychic powers - I bet those will come in handy - and my future has a 'prosperous outlook'.

I'm telling you all this now because I'm never doing any of these stupid things again. Who knows, maybe I'll actually have something original to put in my next post. We can only hope. And for the record, I didn't score as 'Pissed at the World Kitty' until after I knew I was Wil Wheaton's even less successful doppelganger. How would you react?

You scored as Pissed at the World Cat. And here we have the next serial killer. Try having some cotton candy, it'll make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Psycho.

Pissed at the World Cat 83%
Nerd Cat 50%
Ninja Cat 50%
Couch Potato Cat 42%
Deranged Cat 33%
Love Machine Cat 25%
Drunk Cat 25%

Which Absurd Cat are you?
created with

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Part I: Propaganda Engineering

Years ago, I attended a gig at Arlene’s Grocery – a small dive on New York’s Lower East Side. Plastered across one wall of the bar area was the familiar mishmash of graffiti, posters and advertisements you often find in such places. Interspersed amongst the mess were dozens of these:

Obey. Obey what? I didn’t get it. It was one of those questions quickly forgotten in the rush of life. A few other times I saw stickers or spray-paint with the Obey theme, but not being a regular city dweller these occurrences were rare. They always provoked the same perplextion, but always yielded to more pressing matters.

A few weeks ago, an unlikely chain of clicks brought me to the website of cult phenom propagandist Shepard Fairey, where his manifesto explains the rationale behind it all. I still can’t decide if he’s a jackass or a genius, but I was a little pleased to finally get an explanation. Somehow I doubt he's actually read much Heidegger, but I'm not sure that matters.

And I hate to admit it, but some of his artwork is interesting. I especially like his clever incorporation of old communist devices. If that doesn't force you to question intent, what will?


Shepard Fairey - Manfacturing Quality Dissent Since 1989

Saturday, June 18, 2005


A few days ago while studying with my friend nSilico (who was deciphering a text on Graph Theory) he suddenly became agitated with an equation he was working with and stood up, shakenly proclaiming, "Oh my God! Math doesn't work!" I doubt any description can do justice to how fantastically comical this event was to me, but it was possibly the single funniest thing I've seen all year. I guess you just had to be there.

He later explained he'd spent hours learning how to employ a particular equation only to discover it never worked as its premises implied it should. He painstakingly had followed each element of the formula back to their original proofs only to reduce the entire problem to an obvious illogicality. It was as if the laws of mathematics had conspired against him and decided, today 1 + 1 = 3. As someone who'd devoted his life to studying physics, computer science, and mathematics, he was suddenly faced with a compromise of faith. I was witnessing a man losing his religion.

Eventually he divined the entire trouble was due to a typo he'd mistakenly accepted in the original text. A bit of fact checking confirmed this. After a brief bout of swearing and a letter to the publisher, all was well: He could continue to believe in the immutable truths inherent in mathematics.

Still, it's a scary and wonderful feeling to suddenly have all you know, or rather all you believe you know, challenged. I experienced a similar occurrence the very next day when looking a simple diagram of a triangle. Below I've provided an illustration so you can see what I'm talking about.

(use the slider to control the animation)

This puzzle bothered me to no end. I decided to animate it once I understood it. Apparently the laws of Euclidean geometry are no longer valid. How else can you explain the orange square left over in the end? (Warning - comments contain spoilers)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


I finally got around to to adding my Favorite Posts and Blogroll segments to the sidebar. Both need to be expanded/updated but at least they're now in place. Eventually I'll add some simple yet distinguished refinements to the overall blog template as well (I think you all will be impressed) but for now this'll do.

In the meanwhile, ya'll just talk amongst yourselves. Here's a topic:
Is it possible to be aware that you're not thinking about a white bear?

Monday, June 13, 2005

What's Missing?

On Thursday May 19, 2005 Rueters reported:
MOSCOW - A Russian village was left baffled on Thursday after its lake disappeared overnight.

NTV television showed pictures of a giant muddy hole bathed in summer sun, while fishermen from the village of Bolotnikovo looked on disconsolately.

“It is very dangerous. If a person had been in this disaster, he would have had almost no chance of survival. The trees flew downwards, under the ground,” said Dmitry Zaitsev, a local Emergencies Ministry official interviewed by the channel.

Officials in Nizhegorodskaya region, on the Volga river east of Moscow, said water in the lake might have been sucked down into an underground water-course or cave system, but some villagers had more sinister explanations.

“I am thinking, well, America has finally got to us,” said one old woman, as she sat on the ground outside her house.
I laughed at the reaction of the old woman, but I was mostly interested in exactly what kind of geological phenomena might be involved in this sort of occurrence. I bookmarked the article figuring it'd get linked to the follow-up reports. Now, while doing a little ‘browser-cleaning’ after almost a month, I’ve come across the old article.

Unfortunately the follow-up is nowhere to be found. I’ll admit I haven’t exactly pulled out all the stops yet, but how hard should it be? I’ve googled for ‘missing lake’, ‘Bolotnikovo’, and ‘Secret American Lake Evaporating Laser Satellites’ but I’ve only found numerous links to the original article.

I think it’s interesting that every news source (MSNBC for instance) simply cut and pasted the original Reuters report and then . . . nothing. The closest thing to original writing came from this BBC report, which does little more than paraphrase the Reuters and TV reports. Isn’t there supposed to be competition among news affiliates? Shouldn't someone at least check back through a Russian news station for details? How lazy can they be?

I understand this isn’t prime local news, but it seems like someone must be covering it. Even if it’s not vital to us over here, I imagine there are a few Russian villagers who want answers. What have they been reading/watching in Bolotnikovo? Must be the Michael Jackson trial - just like everywhere else.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Simply Simon

Here's another blogsite I think is worth visiting: Simon of Space is "a free science-fiction blognovel detailing the adventures of hyperspatial-amnesiac and gentleman-about-the-galaxy N. Simonithrat Fell." It's written by Matthew Frederick Davis Hemming, a.k.a. Cheeseburger Brown, of Darthside fame.

What would I love more than a well written Sci-Fi serial? I enjoyed Darthside, but I really beleive the original Simon of Space is so much better. Right now there's only a handful of posts, but he adds a new short episode daily. Be sure to check it out.

Apparently I'm an Idiot

I'd always suspected as much. In a recent evaluation of my mathematical prowess I somehow managed to both simultaneously demonstrate a deep understanding of underlying mathmatical concepts while exhibting a perpelxing ineptitude towards perfoming simple math operations. My metophorical Mars orbiter has travelled 48 million miles only to end up as a tiny crater on the surface of the red planet. A monument to both my ambition and my inability to carry the one. Oh why must I always confound all that is simple and straightforward?

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Deep Duck

I am constantly plagued by weird dreams. There are a few in particular that continue to linger and bother me. I know everybody has weird dreams from time to time. Normally you forget your dreams as soon as you wake. Or at most they lose their power a few minutes after you wake. What’s so unusual is that these dreams, while they make absolutely no sense whatsoever, continue to bother me for days, even weeks after I’ve had them. Take my duck dream for instance:
There’s a short man in a white minivan who has a white duck with a bright yellow bill. He’s attached a small camera to the duck’s head. Actually it’s just a little flash-bulb that floats over the head of the duck, but in the logic that only exists in dreams; I understand this bulb to be an actual camera that the man has fastened to the duck’s head. I sense the duck is somewhat unhappy about this arrangement, and I wonder, “Why the hell did this guy put a camera on a duck’s head?” Well, the man releases the duck, which wildly flaps and flys about, and at random intervals the bulb flashes as the camera takes a picture of whatever the duck’s head just happens to be pointed at. After a few minutes of this the man recaptures the duck (which can never seem to get away from the man) goes into his minivan and develops the pictures.

This is where it gets weird. When he comes out he’s looking at the pictures and oohing and ahhing over the deep mystical wisdom of the wondrous duck who apparently has taken some profoundly meaningful photographs. When I look at the pictures, I see (as you might expect) a bunch of out-of focus, poorly cropped, images of mundane things that were randomly photographed from a duck’s-eye-view. But when I explain this to the man he gets upset and insists the duck is a great and wise duck and the photos are amazing works of art. And suddenly a crowd of people are there oohing and ahhing over the photos – and paying homage to the great and wise duck.

I tell them all they are nuts and that the man should leave the duck alone, but no one will listen, so I leave. Except that whenever the man releases the duck – the duck follows me – so I never get away from the madness. I think the duck followed me because it knew I was the only one who would be willing rid him of the stupid camera. But I never do, and the man always recaptures the reluctant duck and develops more photos and gathers a greater crowd of duck-fans. There was something else going on when the duck happened to fly into a building, but this is where I woke up so it’s all unclear.
As strange as this dream is, what’s stranger is that I am STILL PISSED-OFF about what the man was doing to the duck, and the fact everyone insisted the photographs were profoundly meaningful. It’s been almost two weeks since I had the dream, and I’m still thinking about it. The dream seemed so important when I woke, I just lay there forever trying to get back into the dream - hoping to find some resolution or understanding. What is it that makes such a surreal experience so compelling to me?

This is worse than when I had that dream where I had sent myself a message from the future telling me it was vitally important I build a time machine:
What sucked was there were no instructions in the message as to how to actually build the time machine, and I was deeply disturbed as to why I might have done this to myself. In the dream, I had my father and a team of highly trained accountants working on the problem, but we were getting nowhere. (I have no idea why they were accountants but such are my dreams.) At one point, I was yelling at the accountants, overcome with a sense of urgency – “Damn it men! I needed this thing built YESTERDAY!” and then one of the accountants, appropriately clad in think rimmed ‘birth-control’ glasses, a white shirt complete with pocket-protector, black tie, and high-water pants (actually he looked a lot like Michael Douglas from Falling Down) - Anyways he tells me, “Actually sir, once we complete the project, we will have it yesterday – it’s a Time Machine after all!”
“Oh, yeah” I realized, suddenly calm, and then I woke up.
But for some reason, even after I woke I remained disturbed as to why I would send such a message without instructions. Ridiculous I know. Still, somewhere deep down I’m convinced that these dreams are somehow important and I’m a fool for not understanding.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Strange Diversions

Since I'm really not going to write a blog today, I figured I might at least point you all towards an interesting blogsite I recently discovered. PostSecret is a blog that's been getting quite a bit of a buzz lately, but on the off-chance you haven't heard of it, I'll invite you to check it out.

The idea behind the site is wonderful. I have to admit I'm continually fascinated by all its postings in a strange, sort of voyeuristic sense, but I imagine that's its appeal for everyone. I wonder what it's like to be the guy who gets a mailbox full of these things everyday.