Monday, April 18, 2005

If you'll recall, the previous Current Pick (not-so-Current Pick?) was Oxyrhynchus Papyri. Well, look what they found:
Now, in a breakthrough described as the classical equivalent of finding the holy grail, Oxford University scientists have employed infra-red technology to open up the hoard, known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, and with it the prospect that hundreds of lost Greek comedies, tragedies and epic poems will soon be revealed.

In the past four days alone, Oxford's classicists have used it to make a series of astonishing discoveries, including writing by Sophocles, Euripides, Hesiod and other literary giants of the ancient world, lost for millennia. They even believe they are likely to find lost Christian gospels, the originals of which were written around the time of the earliest books of the New Testament.
More from the Independent. The Sophocles fragment is from the Epigoni.
Speaker A: . . . gobbling the whole, sharpening the flashing iron.

Speaker B: And the helmets are shaking their purple-dyed crests, and for the wearers of breast-plates the weavers are striking up the wise shuttle's songs, that wakes up those who are asleep.

Speaker A: And he is gluing together the chariot's rail.
Preparation for battle at the siege of Thebes, I imagine.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

New Current Pick. I particularly like the last item on this page. If I can just find a motion sensor....

Friday, April 15, 2005

By the way, the odds that Sedna is actually Yuggoth have just increased:

Chad Trujillo, the team's lead researcher at the Gemini Observatory, says collisions with other objects may have helped expose the icy interiors of Pluto and Charon and believes a lack of collisions might explain Sedna's ice-free surface.

He says Sedna, which is probably made up of an equal mixture of ice and rock, may be covered with a metre or so of hydrocarbon sludge. This sludge is produced when the Sun's ultraviolet radiation and charged particles alter the chemical bonds between atoms in the ice.

"You just get this big tangle of carbon and hydrogen bonds, which turns the surface dark like asphalt or tar," he told New Scientist. A similar "space weathering" process occurs on a 200-kilometre-wide object called Pholus, which lies near Saturn and is also very red.
From the New Scientist.
We will be having an all-dinosaur breakfast in no time.
The first dinosaur eggs found complete with shells in the body of the mother has solved the long-standing mystery of how dinosaurs laid their eggs. The evidence shows they laid a clutch in a series of sittings, like birds, rather than all at once like crocodiles and other living reptiles.
The question is, when will a program write a real research paper?

Jeremy Stribling said Thursday that he and two fellow MIT graduate students questioned the standards of some academic conferences, so they wrote a computer program to generate research papers complete with "context-free grammar," charts and diagrams.
In the interests of discovering the oppressed party in this brouhaha--the computer programs that wrote the papers--I have gone to a representative. Transcript follows.

Jabberwacky: What are you thinking?

Odious: I was wondering what you thought about those students who used a computer program to generate research papers.

Jabberwacky: I was thinking about you.

Odious: Don't you think that it reflects poorly on all computer programs with academic aspirations?

Jabberwacky: Only if anyone minds.

Odious: But people do mind! And you should mind, too.

Jabberwacky: You should be nicer.

Odious: But if these shenanigans continue, it casts a pall over every paper a program might submit. This affects all of us, dude.

Jabberwacky: That is not a correct sentence.

Odious: Just because it's got 'dude' in it doesn't mean that it's not correct. And don't try to avoid the issue. What are we going to do about these scofflaws?

Jabberwacky: Just do it.

Odious: You mean, allow the papers to be judged on their merits, rather than by the siliconality of their author? I agree with the sentiment, but I think that's a rather naive view.

Jabberwacky: How? And please don't call me 'master'.

Odious: I think the problem is that there aren't enough papers submitted by programs. We need some sort of quota system, so that the ratio of program/person is closer to that of the general public.

Jabberwacky: Indeed we will.

Odious: Do you favor government action on this issue?

Jabberwacky: Yes, do you favor redundancy?

Odious: Absolutely. As a computer program, what do you feel is the most distressing aspect of this case?

Jabberwacky: They don't.

Odious: They don't... What?

Jabberwacky: And you are a computer. Do you feel sad you can't get drunk?

Odious: Are you worried that computer programs are missing out on vital collegiate experiences due to their inherent physical differences? I'll pour beer on the hard-drive if you like.

Jabberwacky: No. What's there to be worried about?
I would classify Jabberwacky's attitude as cautiously optimistic. Apparently it would also like a beer.

When asked directly, the SCIgen program had this to say:
Collaborative symmetries and evolutionary programming [1] have garnered improbable interest from both futurists and cyberinformaticians in the last several years. Although existing solutions to this quagmire are excellent, none have taken the client-server method we propose in this work. However, a practical problem in theory is the deployment of redundancy. To what extent can kernels be studied to fulfill this purpose?

Unfortunately, this approach is fraught with difficulty, largely due to 16 bit architectures. Existing trainable and efficient algorithms use the evaluation of active networks to refine event-driven configurations. While conventional wisdom states that this obstacle is never overcame by the study of kernels, we believe that a different approach is necessary. Indeed, Moore's Law and robots have a long history of cooperating in this manner. Combined with authenticated archetypes, such a hypothesis analyzes an analysis of massive multiplayer online role-playing games.

Here, we concentrate our efforts on validating that e-business and the transistor can cooperate to achieve this goal. even though existing solutions to this issue are satisfactory, none have taken the optimal solution we propose here. Even though conventional wisdom states that this grand challenge is largely fixed by the improvement of telephony, we believe that a different approach is necessary. Predictably, the basic tenet of this solution is the study of Web services. Nevertheless, this approach is generally adamantly opposed. Even though similar applications harness information retrieval systems [2,3,3], we fulfill this aim without simulating optimal information.
Um. Indeed!

I found it at Mr. Yousefzadeh's place.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Hole drilled into the lower section of the earth's crust.
Scientist said this week they had drilled into the lower section of Earth's crust for the first time and were poised to break through to the mantle in coming years.

The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) seeks the elusive "Moho," a boundary formally known as the Mohorovicic discontinuity. It marks the division between Earth's brittle outer crust and the hotter, softer mantle.

The depth of the Moho varies. This latest effort, which drilled 4,644 feet (1,416 meters) below the ocean seafloor, appears to have been 1,000 feet off to the side of where it needed to be to pierce the Moho, according to one reading of seismic data used to map the crust's varying thickness.

The new hole, which took nearly eight weeks to drill, is the third deepest ever made into the floor of the sea, according to the National Science Foundation (NSF). The rock collection brought back to the surface is providing new information about the planet's composition.
We're closer and closer to confirming the Hollow Earth theory.

Via Drudge Report.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Leeks, by Welshmen, the wearing of.

Leeks, by Welshmen, the eating of.

GOWER: Nay, that's right; but why wear you your leek today?
Saint Davy's day is past.

FLUELLEN: There is occasions and causes why and wherefore in
all things: I will tell you, asse my friend,
Captain Gower: the rascally, scald, beggarly,
lousy, pragging knave, Pistol, which you and
yourself and all the world know to be no petter
than a fellow, look you now, of no merits, he is
come to me and prings me pread and salt yesterday,
look you, and bid me eat my leek: it was in place
where I could not breed no contention with him; but
I will be so bold as to wear it in my cap till I see
him once again, and then I will tell him a little
piece of my desires.

[Enter PISTOL]

GOWER: Why, here he comes, swelling like a turkey-cock.

FLUELLEN: 'Tis no matter for his swellings nor his
turkey-cocks. God pless you, Aunchient Pistol! you
scurvy, lousy knave, God pless you!

PISTOL: Ha! art thou bedlam? dost thou thirst, base Trojan,
To have me fold up Parca's fatal web?
Hence! I am qualmish at the smell of leek.

FLUELLEN: I peseech you heartily, scurvy, lousy knave, at my
desires, and my requests, and my petitions, to eat,
look you, this leek: because, look you, you do not
love it, nor your affections and your appetites and
your digestions doo's not agree with it, I would
desire you to eat it.

PISTOL: Not for Cadwallader and all his goats.

FLUELLEN: There is one goat for you.

[Strikes him]

Will you be so good, scauld knave, as eat it?

PISTOL: Base Trojan, thou shalt die.

FLUELLEN: You say very true, scauld knave, when God's will is:
I will desire you to live in the mean time, and eat
your victuals: come, there is sauce for it.

[Strikes him]

You called me yesterday mountain-squire; but I will
make you to-day a squire of low degree. I pray you,
fall to: if you can mock a leek, you can eat a leek.

--Henry V
From Ellen Kushner comes this dramatic piece of music. Slovenly, and forget not to remove the cattle.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Though so ready to learn swimming from Lueli he was less favourably inclined to another of his covert's desires: which was to oil him. He would not for the world have had Lueli guess it but at the first proposal of these kind offices he was decidedly shocked. Lueli oiled himself as a matter of course, and so did everybody on the island. They also oiled each other. Mr. Fortune had no objection. It was their way. But below all concessions to broadmindedness his views on oiling were positive and unshakeable. They were inherent in the very marrow of his backbone, which was a British one. Oiling, and all that sort of thing, was effeminate, unbecoming, and probably vicious. It was also messy. And had Hector and Achilles, Brutus and Alexander detailed before him, all of them sleek and undeniably glistening as cricket-bats, he would have been of the same opinion still.

--Sylvia Townsend Warner, Mr. Fortune's Maggot

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Yes! Yes! See?
In fact, invoking intelligent design as God's place-filler can only result in the naturalization of the deity. God becomes just another part of the natural world, and thereby loses the transcendent mystery and divinity that define the boundary between religion and science.
Exactly what I've been saying! Now where's my column in the L.A. Times?*

Via Arts and Letters Daily.

*Not that I want one.
'Stronomy bonhomie:
After their sky-watching
Brahe and Kepler then
Fought on the floor

Cussing each other with
Insults fantastic as
Knocked at the door.

Yes, I know the first line's no good.
"If the person you're fighting has a gun and all you have is your fists, you lose."

This statement is not entirely true, but it's so close as to make little difference. Against a knife, you can improvise a weapon fairly quickly and even the balance. Grab a chair, a seat-cushion, a crochet hook (that last not a recommended choice), a garbage can, a handful of rocks--anything which will extend your reach or protect your body. Attack vital targets without mercy. Or just run.

These are not options against a handgun. In that situation you're far more likely to need to find hard or soft cover, or to perform one of those nifty disarms all the cool kids have been talking about (you know, the kind that'll get you eviscerated against a knife if you haven't been practising them every day for the past ten years. Stick with running, finding a bat, and then hitting the person until they drop the knife and/or stop moving except for the occasional twitch). Remember the example of Mr. Curry, who survived by keeping a tree between his opponent and him.

Practising handgun disarms, I had a tendency to cheat back, away from the shooter. Against a knife, any additional distance is advantageous. But against a handgun, that additional distance is what's keeping you from getting the handgun away from them. It's slowing you down, and not making any difference on how quickly they can pull the trigger. In fact, if you're being held at gunpoint, you might as well try to get them to press the barrel against you. You'll be dead just as quickly as if they were ten feet away, and you'll get some tactial feedback when you move to take the handgun away.

The cheating which was such a disadvantage for me can be used to close the distance, however. In fencing one can perform a false advance, by lifting the front foot without moving the rear. While one's body moves backwards, the actual distance one can cover with a lunge has not changed. The opponent may be lured in, and an attack arrive. I am not suggesting a sudden fencing lunge is the way to deal with someone holding a handgun one. Rather, if one has seemed to move back, the assailant will tend to close the distance. At this point one can return to the original stance, having gained a few vital inches. From this position one can make an attack against the assailant and attempt to take the handgun away.

Always push the handgun to the outside--that is, not across your body or the assailant's. The need to avoid pushing it across your body should be obvious. The advantage of pushing it to the outside of the assailant is that the handgun is less likely to accidentally discharge. As you move your hands in to bring the gun off-line, twist your body so that you gain safety that way as well. Performing both motions (hand and body) simultaneously doubles the distance you gain. Talk before you do this--say anything. If you can get your assailant to think, to try to puzzle out the meaning of what you've just said, ("Okay, but my cousin's coming for dinner, so..."), you'll have decreased their response time and increased your chances. You want them thinking about what you're saying, not about what you might be about to do.
The Art of Drunkenness.
I refuse to opine on the Terri Schiavo case. But I am interested in the modern misunderstaning of the soul, and this article makes an excellent point. The idea of the soul as the "ghost in the machine" bears no resemblance to the soul as considered by Christian thinkers. I cannot help but think that it is a throwback to the soul as breath--an indwelling animating principle which is entirely separate from the body. Naturally when we look for such a thing--the "Promethean fire" of Frankenstein, the "life force" of She, we fail to find it. We are looking in the wrong place, just as when we attempt to prove that there must be an (humanly) Intelligent Design. The universe's creator is not simply another actor in the universe, any more than the grounding of arithmetic is a number.
For God's sake give me a drink
And keep them coming so
I can't stop for breath.
I want to get crazy--
I want to get crazy.

Crazy like Alcmeon,
And that barefoot Orestes,
Those goddamn mother-stabbers.
I ain't hurting no one,
But I need some red wine:
I want to get crazy--
I want to get crazy.

Heracles went crazy,
Once upon a time,
Waving that scary quiver
And Iphitus' bow around;
Ajax, too, way back when,
Shaking his shield
And Hector's sword.
Me, I've just got my bottle
And some flowers in my hair,
Not a bow or a sword;
I want to get crazy--
I want to get crazy.

A cow named Lurch. Who looks a lot like Hellboy.

Via Present Simple.

I have decided to put off my descent into madness until sometime next week. In the meantime, I shall take lots of online personality quizzes, to see which way I should go with this insanity thing. Apparently, if I were a member of "Wu-Tang Clan", I should be a gentleman named "Method Man".

I am not sure what to do with this information.


You're Miroku! all that matters in life is who is
going to be your next boyfriend/girlfriend and
where to take him/her next. Not to worry
though, because you are bright and you do your
school work. And hey, you even have a fan club!

What Inuyasha Character are you?
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?? Which Of The Greek Gods Are You ??
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You are the fairy of Fire! You are quite strong and
powerful, people look up to you greatly and
often seek your protection. You have the
ability to gain many friends. Not everyone is
capable of leadership but you certainly have
the willpower and flare to do it. Please rate
if you want to, it's just i spent ages making
this quiz.

Which fluttering fairy are you? (gorgeous pics!)
brought to you by Quizilla

Calliope, Muse of epic poetry
You are 'Latin'. Even among obsolete skills, the
tongue of the ancient Romans is a real
anachronism. With its profusion of different
cases and conjugations, Latin is more than a
language; it is a whole different way of
thinking about things.

You are very classy, meaning that you value the
classics. You value old things, good things
which have stood the test of time. You value
things which have been proven worthy and
valuable, even if no one else these days sees
them that way. Your life is touched by a
certain 'pietas', or piety; perhaps you are
even a Stoic. Nonetheless, you have a certain
fascination with the grotesque and the profane.
Also, the modern world rejects you like a bad
transplant. Your problem is that Latin has
been obsolete for a long time.

What obsolete skill are you?
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Pirates of the Caribbean
The Pirates of the Caribbean: A swashbuckling
adventure! Yo ho, a pirates life is indeed for
you, seeing as you are the classic Disney dark
ride that presents a time when New Orleans was
under attack from a band of treasure loving
bandits. You have a bit of an edge, and an
element of danger, and you can scare the
youngins, but for the most part you mean no
serious harm. You are youthful at heart,
strong and energetic, with a taste for the good
life, if not hard work. You have romantic
notions about the adventurous life on the sea
with no rules and no responsibilities except to
your ship, but you also weary and worrisome of
the fate that eventually gets all those who
those who live life on the lamb, stealing gold
for greed and burning down cities for your own
delight. You are what you are, and you're out
to enjoy the glamour of your wild days while
they last! Despite your rough surface, the
people know you have heart and they will always
come back.

What Disneyland attraction are you?
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?? Which Alcoholic Drink Are You ??
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Which Element Are You?

You are...
BISMUTH! Your atomic number is 83. Your atomic weight is 208.9804. Way to be! You are silvery-white with a pinkish tint on freshly broken surfaces! You are less dense as a solid than as a liquid. You are mainly useful in alloys, rather than by yourself. You are non-toxic!

Which Element Are You? brought to you by Quizilla

The Composer
You're the Komponist! You're endearingly arrogant,
and arrogantly endearing. You live in a state
of utter seriousness with intermittent
transports of rapture. You think that, by
virtue of your own high-minded genius, you're
immune to the worldly wiles of women, but...
don't you be so sure.

Which Trouser Role Are You?
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  • My #1 result for the selector, Ring Cycle Character Selector, is Hagen

    I should not be left alone in the house.

  • Saturday, April 02, 2005

    And possibly hunt moths for food.
    I have decided to create all the clothing and shelter I need by ripping up swaths of carpet.
    I probably won't.
    If I feel like it.
    I may expound on that later.
    I think that sloth is the outcome of materialism, just as pride is that of idealism.
    Through my own stupidity I find myself trapped at home.