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Journal Journal: Grandma/Cancel that Modest Proposal

Turns out that Gentoo Linux (jen-two) and Sorcerer Linux are both in pretty usable states. I suppose the main priority right now should be Grandma-level usability.

Which is an odd thing for which to ask. Personally, my maternal grandmother can be a twisted, passive-aggressive nightmare. Which makes me wonder what sort of "usability features" I would add to a stock RedHat CD to freak her out. See, a computer for my maternal grandmother needs to be several things- a CD Player, a classical musician, well-versed in the apologetics that technology is not the devil, and, in a worst-case scenario, a seasoned hostage negotiator.

So until a rather large number of open problems in Artificial Intelligence are solved, Grandma ain't getting squat from the Linux community. Hargh.

You have not done your homework? Then you must fight the bear!
Kargan's .sig (uid#250092)

"You were amazing back there Corny!"
"No Duckman - I just did what any other classically-trained pianist slash hostage negotiator would have done in my shoes."
Duckman and Cornfed, Duckman

User Journal

Journal Journal: Smells Like Teen Spirit

I have a problem with people telling me to do extremely stupid things- especially when I am paying them to do it. One of my professors has assigned a paper on the sociolinguistic implication of Wilson's 14 points. If he had mentioned anything that he wanted out of it, it would be a good assignment. At this point, though, I have neither the will nor the ambition to write it. The worst part is that I have homework for Combinatorics due later today, and I've been working on that instead. I like Combinatorics - but most of Sociolinguistics is turning out to be the worst kind of soft-science bullshit I've ever seen.

There is definitely something to be said for my lack of maturity in not writing it (as of yet - I need clarification, not absolution/martyrdom). I understand that. But this is a bad weekend for this kind of busy work altogether. What kind of person am I becoming?

In my head right now:

With the lights out it's less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us
-- Smells like Teen Spirit,
Words by Kurt Cobain, Performed by Tori Amos


Journal Journal: Bootstrap Linux - A Modest Proposal

Okay. After four hours of compiling "stable" GNOME from source, and hunting down libraries from every which-where in order to build Mozilla and get XMMS working, all I want is a Linux distro that bootstraps a compeletely native code base onto a box from a "working" kernel, and maybe someday I'll get this out of Sorcerer GNU/Linux, but I'm angry now, dammit.

Okay, here's how it goes. Developers for a major codebase, say, GNOME, KDE, GNUStep, whathaveyou, write a SINGLE script that takes the code they have, compiles each individual package in the right order, and emits a DETAILED list beforehand about which dependencies need to be applied before construction begins. None of this crap about installing an ISDN subsystem so I can get libgtop to compile- nothing about assuming I have an infinite-precision calculator like bc to compile libgtop, and nothing like refusing to build libgtop anyway, just on principle.

Start with a base system- the CD can have m68k, i386, MIPS, PARISC, and sparc binaries on it. Bootstrap from binary glibc and gcc all the basic binutils and networking options again, then redo gcc and glibc. From this point on, everything else is, as they say in StarCraft, "crawling up the Tech Tree." Want to install XMMS? Set your phasers to Mp3 and Ogg goodness, and fire away as glib and gtk+ are installed by default. Decide you want GNOME after that? You already know where you are in the Tech Tree- maybe you have to crawl back down again for some reason, but you can always build back up again. People, this is FREE CODE- all you need is time, and if Walters can do it on his 226MHz Pentium box in FreeBSD by typing "make world," dammit, I'm willing to give it a shot. For right now, just a whole lotta bitchin, but I think this is definitely the way to go for the future of Linux. If nothing else, automating the construction of an entire operating environment is a good proof of concept that Linux is well-organized enough, and its code mature enough, to be ready for the mainstream. End rant, in 5, 4, 3, . . .


Journal Journal: COMAP MCM Over, 9 Dead, Countless Injured 1

ST PAUL,MN -(AP)- In the wake of the COMAP Mathematical Contest in Modelling , experts estimate that "fatalities are hanging steady at 9, what with the three teams and all, but countless more are injured." This quote comes, of course, from Phineas Phogg, of Phogg Research, who has been studying the mental and physiological effects of 96-hour problem-solving competitions on adult humans for the last 23 years.

"I can't believe the wounded are still responding to human contact," said a dazzled Phogg, upon examining the shell-shocked body of an Art History Major who accidentally glanced at the perl code of the late W. Owens, a team member attempting to solve Problem B. It is estimated that in the first 48 hours alone, E. Slivken, N. Lindgren, and W. Owens lost 4.5 pints of blood each, entirely through the sweat glands in their forehead. Loved ones and acquaintances of all levels of closeness were affected, ranging from N. Lindgren's mother, who can no longer pronounce the letter B, to O. Landgren's pet rat, which has spontaneously assumed vampiric powers.

"They will be missed, but their hastily-thrown-together-at-the-last-minute report will echo throughout eternity," said Phogg, wearing an arc-welding mask to shield his pathetically human eyes from the insanity-inducing font and bright text selected in the 11th hour by the team of Macalester seniors.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Math Modeling Contest, Day 3.5 1

So here we are, our final results due in less than 36 hours, and things are finally beginning to take hold. Like this caffeine rush. Ahhh . . . endorphins.

Not much to report on, lately. Odd that. Trying to solve the airline overbooking problem (Problem B) has occupied most of my time, when Slivken isn't wailing on my ass in chess, and I'm not doing my usual "wake up, lumber out of bed, experience existential dread, take medication, drink coke, surf web, class stuff, eat something, more class stuff, eat dinner, work out problem with stupid Linux users, contemplate my own mortality, read Lensman, adjust headphones, sleep" thing. Pretty much the norm right about now.

I usually don't talk too much about other people here. At least, they don't always know it. It's the same with the rest of life- set up hoops, watch others jump through them, smile with amusement. There's more to it than that, but I have a strange feeling that this is a peculiarly INTJ thing to think. And I have such nice hoops.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Venlafaxine HCI Blues

No you don't know the one
Who dreams of you at night;
And longs to kiss your lips
And longs to hold you tight
Oh I'm just a friend.
That's all I've ever been.
Cause you don't know me.

. . .

Afraid and shy, I let my chance go by.
A chance that you might love me too.

-- You Don't Know Me,
Ray Charles
User Journal

Journal Journal: I have the POWER 3

to HALT PRODUCTION on all TEENAGE SEX COMEDIES!!!!! This was one of the random fortunes that /. spits out at the bottom of each page sometimes, and oddly enough, it sounds like something a trashy Bond villian might say. Or Gunn, in "Before I kill you, Mr. Bond," which is a game she likes to play. Whole lotta sleepy, I'll tell you.

Decided not to do a radio show this semester. Too much time, which I don't have. Even now, writing in diary, should be preparing capstone pages for advisor. Writing like PKD in The Man in the High Castle. Japanese in book abandon articles, focus on nouns, verbs, modifiers - less focus on connectives, interjections, particles. Stream of consciousness feeling obtained. Heh, heh, heh, said the Big Bad Wolf. (crew member reattaches wolf fur to dachsund)

Spent a whole lot of time listening to people speaking Japanese yesterday- over at Japan house, in the lab (Slivken and Walters), and at MacAnime. Which brings me to my next point - Shinji, from Evangelion . . . what a fucker. Seriously- I can't but help being pissed off at him and sorry for him all at once. Devin didn't shut up about it, and almost had to be lead out- kindof funny really, how much somebody can yell "pussy" or "fucker" and make it a different insult every time. Heh, heh, heh, said the Big Bad Surrealist Wolf. (Giraffe grip readies two blue giraffes, while Best Boy prepares the melted peanut butter in the bathtub, and Key Grip holds the light bulb)

User Journal

Journal Journal: Absorbed by the Void - Childhood Vengeance

I've been wreaking vengeance on childhood goals. Obliterating all of those indomitable, invincible enemies that stood before me. Yes - Castlevania I and II, Final Fantasy I, and Zelda II have all finally been defeated. Okay, now on to other things.

I don't know what it is about those games from when I was ten - something about my brother erasing my party that was minutes away from attacking Chaos (FF-I), or the entire game killing itself right before Link's Shadow (Zelda II); regardless, the final eradication of these games has been one of the most freeing experiences of my life. Oh, and Castlevania I is just too damn hard. Thank you fceu, thank you.

In other news, I am apparently an INTJ personality type- wow, is that appropriate.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Final Fantasy

some people turn to pills and things
to help them through the day
to take them up or down or just
to ease the blues away
but me i really want to feel
the ups and downs of life so real
happy or sad emotions reign
my tears flow just the same
-- lamb
, i cry

This is what I've been doing for a long time. More later.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Magister Ludi Infinitus

Nobody has responded with the final part of the current game yet. For those of you reading this who are playing the game, you'll get a clue into the whole enchilada. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, The Story Collage Game, in brief detail:

  • Phase 0: Construct a mix CD or tape of your choosing. For those constructing their own games, choose evocative songs that suggest action or drama- if you choose lyrical (in the oetic sense) songs, the game will be much harder to play later. Make a dozen (or so) copies of said CD/tape. Choose equally evocative album name and/or artwork. (Artwork optional)
  • Phase 1a: Give a copy of the mix to each of the participants. At your whim, supply them with a track listing of said mix (I've only done it without a track list, YMMV). If you don't give them one, sometimes it's fun to see what people think a song is.
  • Phase 1b: Each participant must construct a platonically ideal track list. This sounds a lot more complicated than it is: if we know November Rain by Guns and Roses, and we can both agree in our heart of hearts that November Rain is one of the shittiest names for that song, and that Guns and Roses isn't that great a name for a band, then- in a perfect world, where the essence of meaning is actually captured by language- what is the name of the song, when it stands alone and sings to you?
  • Phase 2: This is the part of the Story Collage game that becomes interesting. Now, the only instructions left for each of the participants is that they must try to determine what story the mix is trying to tell, given everything that they know about the album as a whole (album title, platonically ideal track list, lyrics, tempo, dynamics, style, album artwork, etc.). If you want to give limits or structure to the form of the story, be my guest- if they have to write a sestina, they'll hate you forever, and these people are presumably your friends.

Then, share the stories. Learn about the other people. This is why we have games.

And by the way, James P. Carse is wrong when he says that there is only one infinite game. Heh heh heh. (Okay, so he's right- who cares?)

I came up with the idea for this game on my own after reading aforementioned life-changing book (Finite and Infinite Games), and if you decide to play it (it really takes a long time) and it goes well (or doesn't), if you think it's a good idea (or it sucks) let me know. E-mail (which should be possible for humans that understand spam-proofing) and comments welcome. And for all of the address-harvesters out there, someday you'll be capable of cognition, and then you too can send me an e-mail. Until then, you have no idea what I just said.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Story, Song

Come as you are, as you were,
As I want you to be
As a friend, as a friend, as an old enemy
Take your time, hurry up
The choice is yours, don't be late
Take a rest as a friend as an old memoria

-- Come As You Are, Nirvana

The lights go down,
And the clouds are building outside.
You close the door and turn the key,
But there's no place to hide.

And I hope that she believes
Yes I wonder if she sees
The killer inside me.

-- The Killer Inside, Better Than Ezra

All alone, I open my eyes

Wild ride
Hold your fire
I'm not about to die
Keep back
Let in some air I dare lie down
To stare at the sky
I am wide open
Reaching forever
I fly into the blue

-- Into the Blue, Moby

There's no chance for us, it's all decided for us.
This world has only one sweet moment set aside for us
Who wants to live forever? Who wants to live forever?
Who dares to love forever, when love must die?

-- Who Wants to Live Forever, Queen

I thought you were special
I thought you should know

-- Special, Garbage

And I thought I'd live forever, but now I'm not so sure
You try to tell me that I'm clever
But that won't take me anyhow, or anywhere with you

-- Stay, Lisa Loeb

Where were you when I was lonesome?
Locked away with freezing cold
Someone flying only stolen
I can't tell this light so old
I don't want to swim the ocean
I don't want to fight the tide
I don't want to swim forever
When it's cold I'd like to die

-- When It's Cold I'd Like To Die, Moby

Stuttering, cold and damp
Steal the warm wind tired friend
Times are gone for honest men
And sometimes far too long for snakes
In my shoes, a walking sleep
And my youth I pray to keep
Heaven send Hell away
No one sings like you anymore

Hang my head, drown my fear
Till you all just disappear

-- Black Hole Sun, Soundgarden

Take this time to figure it out
The wire, the fuse, the things that you doubt
The wheels, the air, the metal, the mouth
Something, something, something

-- In Repair,
User Journal

Journal Journal: The Revolutionary

In Shadow of the Torturor, Gene Wolfe writes about one of the ancient relics of the Torturors' Guild called the Revolutionary. It "channels lightning," and upon feeling the electricity coursing through your body, it is as if a demon stands in front of you, your worst fear, to strike you down. And then it is over. When the only release your body can cry out for is the sweet release of death, it is denied you.

Severian (the protagonist,a journeyman torturor), slips a kitchen knife to a client that he has come to befriend, for her sentence is death by the Revolutionary. She kills herself. As punishment, many of the torturors wish Severian to die as painfully as possible- the Revolutionary being their chief method. He is not put to the Revolutionary- he is instead asked to leave the guild as a dignitary to the City of Windowless Walls, Thrax. He will be their torturor.

User Journal

Journal Journal: This Journal Entry brought to you by the letter "Thorn"

First- music theory that a mathematician can understand. Yes Virginia, there was a Santa after all (of course, he's dead now, or some kind of bizarre particle), and music theory really was about algebraic structures after all.

Hey it isn't any dumber than her, so bugger off, eh? Oh yeah- Malaclypse the Youngerer lent me the first three books of PREACHER, and oh my Genesis is it awesome. Like The Prophecy- but with more sex, and more violence, and a whole lot more smoking. Oh, and funnier- but sadly, no Christopher Walken, and no Elias Koteas. Poor Casey Jones . . . sniff,sniff

But back in "I'm-not-getting-nostalgic-about-Ninja-Turtles-ever-again" Land, two questions press my mind- First, why are Gamecube games so small? They really could be a lot bigger. Second, why are all these women I know flocking to singlehood? I suppose I won't ever know- them being women and all. Back to contemplative mode- why is it that whenever a woman has ever (and this is not the E-V-E-R ever, but the other one) wants to understand how a man thinks about relationships, and I tell them, I receive one of two mood-levels of responses: 1) "It can't be that simple / How boring / You Prick!", or 2) "You'll find somebody someday". It's really the second part that bothers me- I wasn't asking. Does the second part ever end? Or is there a ring, or a rod of seven parts somewhere that I have to destroy to end this torment? (See- thinking like a G^3 again)

Sigh. Well, I suppose this is the part of the story where comforting metaphors of giant schools, nay, universities of fish, and titanic oceans, and Norwegian whaling ships float into my mind's I, and my psyche rests easy once again.

If you find yourself struggling with loneliness, you're not alone. And yet you are alone. So very alone.

User Journal

Journal Journal: And they will never know the difference-

There is an expression in French, that my friends have told me many times. Having studied Spanish, New Testament Greek, and 8 days of Latin, I didn't know it before- here we are, esprit de l'escalier- the spirit of the staircase. That thing you could have said, that would have made you win, changed the celestial motion of the planets within your personal life- but you didn't, and so here you are. For inventing a phrase for that feeling, I'll almost give back all the credit I took from the French (except for my one day in Paris when that guy swore at me for no reason- Fuck you, Mister French!). Most of my life recently has been filled with moments where I didn't do anything, and I could/should have done something.

Growing up in Northern Wisconsin, I never thought I would ever have to defend being Christian to anyone. And with most of my friends, it's not a personal thing, but sometimes they just forget, or don't care, or ride me on a rail for it. And right now, I don't know whether I should be angry or limpidly distant. I'm usually not angry- most people would tell you that it can take quite a bit to get my wick twisted, so to speak. Even when I should be. Even when something so personally important to me is skewered mercilessly in the middle of a crisis of faith.

That wasn't today- that was a few months ago. A different dinner conversation, that went where few gamer conversations go- to the point where somebody is offended, and wants to leave, and then leaves. What bothers me isn't that I didn't have the right response- it's the fact that NO response would have been acceptable. That the doctrine of a religion (or church- more specifically someone else's church) and the spirit of everything I hold dear can not, and will not, come apart for the majority of people I know.

Now, I could be wrong- and all these people could actually be more understanding than I take them for- and in retrospect, that's probably the case. The problem for me is how I feel like I can't even become angry when I should. Until recently, there was only one thing that got me angry- it was the big guy picking on the small guy, in whatever way. At our first dance this year, when a bunch of fuckheads decided to come in and tell all the geeks, gamers, and goths what a bunch of losers we were, laugh at us, and then leave. [At Macalester College- a so-called bastion of equality and multiculturalism. It's also been dubbed the most godless school in America by somebody who doesn't matter (Princeton review or somesuch), so fuck all.] I've never been so mad that people nearby have had the look in their eye that I might need to be physically restrained. Until then. And it might have gotten ugly, but not nearly so much for me as for some other people.

For right now, it's behind me. But the subtleness remains, tiny flecks of acid, remorse, Coke. I think I'm too subtle- that's always been my problem. I've never been able to help her understand.

Someone tried to tell me something, don't let the world bring you down
Nothing can do me in before I do myself
So save it for your own and the ones you can help

Want to make it understood
Trying though I never would
Trying though I know it's wrong
Blowing it away and gone
Wishing though I never could
--Blow up the Outside World
, Soundgarden

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Behind every great computer sits a skinny little geek.