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Journal Journal: Windoze updates

Today I installed a couple important updates to my workstation at work.

They were for French grammar checking in Office apps.

They required reboots.

Yay. WSUS wins again!!!
Internet Explorer

Journal Journal: New Intarweb .Sig

Gosh sigs are great, arent' they?

I've been toying around with this new one lately:

I would rather read the worst book in the world than read the best web page. . .unless I'm masterbating.


Journal Journal: A Few Thoughts

RE: Vulcans and Godel

In light of Godel's Incompleteness Theorem, would there really be a race totally centered on logic? It would seem illogical to do so. . .at the very least it would be incomplete. Logic seems insufficient for living.

Hofstadler and Searle

Speaking of Godel, I think Hofstadler and Searle are saying the same thing regarding strong AI.

Before I give Searle too much credit, I want to say that I think the Chinese room "thought experiment" is a load of crap. However, Searle's summary of the experiment is worth considering:
  • Programs are purely syntactical.
  • Minds have semantical content.
  • Syntax by itself is neither constitutive of nor sufficient for semantics.
  • Therfore, programs will never have semantical content.

I buy the summary, though not the thought experiment.

Now, this really seems to stick a fork in the Strong AI that believes that consciousness is mere symbol manipulation. And after a few months of meditation on the subject, I have concluded that Searle is right -- this form of Strong AI has abstracted away "too much from the actual physical implementation of the computational processes involved in thinking."

But what about the so-called "active symbols" that Hofstadtler proposes?

I think that's the key. Essentially, a non-human intelligence would probably be realized in a machine that, on the whole, was NOT a Universal Turing Machine. It's probably made up of a lot of pieces that are UTC's, but on the whole it isn't one.

The sections in Hofstadler's book on the location of meaning are exactly what I'm talking about. I've never made a conscious decision to only analyze the "visible" portion of the E/M spectrum. But because of that very limitation(and sufficient time to "learn" about it), I am now able to associate symbols in my mind with external objects that I "see."

Thanks to Godel, we know that truth is bigger than proof. All Searle has is a proof, though not a proof that Strong AI(in general) is impossible, just impossible on a(in a) UTC.

Vinge's Singularity

The preceeding thought is not so much a slam against Searle as it is an affirmation of Vinge's Singularity.

I can't believe we "re-elected" GW!!!


Journal Journal: Godel, Escher, Bach: Some random thoughts on the book

Artificial Intelligence, and Intelligence in general, are not primarily concerned with "eneumerating truths" or "deciding propositions." If you think about it, in a very practical sense, one's intelligence is not a reflection of how many or how fast one eneumerates or decides the truth of a particular proposition. Especially when intelligence is used in the vernacular sense(or Turing Test sense).

However, there is, after a suitable explanation of Godel's Incompleteness Theorem, a nagging suspicion that the very idea of "Artifical Intelligence" is a contradiction. All programs are explicitly formal, definitely formal enough to fall prey to Godel's construction, so how could they possibly be intelligent with such an obvious and severely limiting property? Isn't it paradoxical to think that there could exist a formal system(program) that understood its own Godelian limitations?

Ultimately, it's no more a paradox than Zeno's paradox(es).

The knowledge that one can or cannot establish truth in the face of infinity is irrelevant IF there is any non-volatile level. Regarding Zeno's paradox and classical mechanics, the non-volatile level is the compact set that is any closed interval of the real line. Regarding AI. . .well that's the content of the ~750 pages of Hofstadter's book.

The Location of Meaning
This was one of the more illuminating sections for me. It really sets up a nice argument against intentionality.

The question is: How does one know when any given "message" was "understood" "correctly"? What does it mean for a message to be understood?

Hofstadter outlines a 3 tiered structure for any message: The "outer" message, the "inner" message, and the meaning. The "outer" message serves the purpose of presenting "Hey, here's a message!" The "inner" message serves the purpose of presenting "Hey, here's how you decode me!" The meaning is the actual information contained in the message.

Regarding sending out LP's made of gold into space with the hope that they will be replayed by an alien race, the outer message has the form of a perfectly circular gold disc. A form so odd in nature, ANY intelligence will recognize that it must be more than just a shiny disc. The inner message is the grooves in the LP. Bumps and grooves that spiral from the outside towards the center. . .what to do with them. Again, just about ANY intelligence will recognize the isomorphism between this oddity on the surface of the disc, and the "information" this disc probably holds. Obviously then, the message is the audio stored in the grooves.

I think it's a fairly straight-forward way to explain general communication, especially when looked at from an informatin theory standpoint.

My question for people who believe in intentionality as a necessary condition for mental processes is: at what point did you intend to only decode messages from the visible light spectrum or the audible spectrum? The answer is it is programmed into you via your DNA. I don't believe that any human has existed that made the deliberate choice to only monitor those small parts of the spectrum for messages.

Thus, there exists a non-volatile level, our senses, that guide and limit our own mental activities, regardless of our intentions.

misUnderstanding Zeno
Godel's Incompleteness Theorem, once properly understood, is a lot like Zeno's paradox(but on philosophical steroids).

Godel's Incompleteness Theorem applies to all formal systems with sufficient descriptive power. Those systems will either be inconsistent(unlikely by definition) or incomplete. But more importantly, if one adds those "missing" propositions in an effort to complete the system, the system remains incomplete. Much like Zeno's paradox, where one can never take a first step to even begin moving since one can never define a first step because of the infinite divisions.


It seems that there is a very logical reason for teaching Zen through paradoxical koans. In order to fully grasp the paradox, one has to stop thinking in a decidable truth sense, and step outside the system to see the greater truth.

This is analogous to the sensation of looking at most Escher drawings. . .or constructing a Godel numbering. . .or playing an endlessly rising Cannon. . .or naming something without naming it.

Godel's Incompleteness Theorem isn't a limit on what will be possible with computers. . .if anything it guarantees that what is possible with computer is at least capable of handling most decidable situations, and whatever emergent behavior comes along as a direct result of the program existing(running?) will obviously supplement those abilities.

Journal Journal: Good Job, Laptop!

I use my Titanium PowerBook mainly for two things:

Digital Performer for recording music and


Both of which are things you either know how to use or you don't; the quality of the OS doesn't really matter.

So I'm always pleasantly suprised when the computer performs a "consumer" task with the greatest of ease, thanks to the fine people at Apple. iPhoto works great.

Here's what I wanted to do:
I've got 84 raw images from a digital camera that I want to scale down from 1900x1900 or something to 640x480.

Import photos into iPhoto. I already had the images on the hard drive. Importing took about 5 minutes.

Apple-a to select all photos

File-Export from the file menu. Choose scale to 640x480. Choose JPG format. Click export. Select destination folder. Click choose.

2 minutes later, 84 scaled down pictures in the destination folder, ready to be emailed.

Whole operation took less than 10 minutes. I thought it would be longer since I would have to export each image individually. Too easy. Good job, laptop!


Journal Journal: Turn on your droolers girls. . .

Yeah, baby. Can't stop me now.

Here's the beginning of my hardware "museum." Basically, it's just the running computers in my house, but, if you count AMD and INTEL as different architectures, I have 4, count 'em, 4 different architectures of "modern" machines. Here's the quick tour:
  • Pentium III 733 -- this was my Digital Audio Workstation for the past 4 years, and it served me very well. 256MB, 20G, Windows XP Pro, Echo Mia audio interface, Cubase 5.1, CD burner.
  • Athlon 2200+ XP -- this is my budding Home Theater PC project. 1G RAM, 160G of storage, GeForece 4 Ti4600 w/128 MB, TV Wonder VE, DVD ROM. I've moved the Mia over to this computer to handle the digital audio from the DVD player to the Dolby Digital receiver, though that's not quite perfected yet.
  • PowerBook G4 -- My "new" DAW. 550 mHz G4, 512 MB RAM, 20G, OSX 10.3, Airport Card (and wireless for the home), MOTU 828 audio interface. Digital Performer 4.12. I love this computer.
  • The newest addition and the piece de resistance

  • Compaq XP1000 Alphastation -- whoooo, it's almost too much. 1G RAM, 9.1G SCSI, DECchip 21264 EV6 Alpha processor at 500Mhz (can you feel that? huh? can ya?), ELSA video card. Can you say, "Big Iron?" (well, for a hobbyist who doesn't really spend a lot of free time with his computers). It was new in 1998. $Cost. . .haven't got a straight answer yet, but I've heard $12,000 and $40,000. Could you imagine having this thing back in '98?? Even now, I bet it could out perform a single <= 2Ghz P4 for certain jobs (not the desktop of course, but real computing). Right now it's got that Alpha NT4.0 Workstation on it. Not sure what Linux will replace that yet.

And while we're on the subject, what is up with PC's still having a BIOS??? The Alpha and the Powerbook both have firmware consoles. These modern ideas must have some useage, anyone out there know what?


Journal Journal: A case for habitual marijuana use. . .


Consider these two explanations of a "balanced" audio signal. Also consider the process of dithering. The basic idea is, reality will change signals in transmission in a predictable way. In order to get at the reality represented by the signals, with fidelity, it is necessary to deal with the noise created by transmission.

Now consider reality vs. your perception of reality. (I'm not trying to posit anything concerning the ability of a general philosophical entity to understand and reason about reality. I'm trying to stay in a practical, mundane sphere, and not enter into any meta-physical areas.) Is there a difference between the two? If the answer is no, my question is, "How do you know?"

Are you sure that there's no one out in the world who has a different opinion of you than you think they have of you? Are you sure that that annoying person at your office or in your class is actually annoying, and it is not the case that you are just a super uptight asshole?

When you are mad or angry, do you always have a good reason? What about when you are stressed out?

How do you reconcile the way you ought to be feeling with how you actually are feeling? (That's an open question I don't pretend to have an answer to.)


Of course, one doesn't perceive reality soley through emotion, but the emotional reaction may be arguably more important than actual physical events and any ethical considerations.

Yet we strive for objectivity nonetheless. Even relativists draw "critical spheres" from which they can judge reality.

Thus, regardless of one's intents, objectivity, in some form, is desired when processing emotional reactions to reality, as well as in the actual processing of reality, leading up to the emotional reactions.


Morpheus asked, "What is real?" And it's hard to deny that the large ammount of signals sent to your brain make up a large percentage of "what is real," regardless of any materialist or idealist leanings.

Those signals also have an effect on one's emotions. And, undeniably, those emotions have an effect on one's ability to process those signals objectively. Emotions can thus cause distortion to the signal.

It's a huge feed back loop with a constantly dynamic, and dramatic, input.

How can one achieve any semblence of objectivity, when their only connection, their only way to process reality is tainted by emotional reactions?


Given the inherent difficulty with and insatiable desire for objectivity, I have introduced into my reality, "noise."

The effects that the noise places on reality are well documented, and dramatic. Easy to spot. Knowing exactly how the noise effects the signal, I am able to analyze the signal from a noisy point of view without any distraction/distortion from the noise, rather than from an emotional/reactive point of view, which establishes the critical sphere from which I can evaluate not just physical reality, but also my emotional reality. Thus any "emotional baggage" I may have becomes crystal clear, and since I'm acutely aware of any emotional baggage/reactions to reality, I can take that into account when processing reality.


So, what I'm saying is, with a little practice, being stoned all the time, I see reality clearer than most who are sober. So why wouldn't I smoke weed constantly?


I realize that most people believe that part of "growing up" is becoming well adjusted, ie you are able to deal with your emotions. And hey, who am I to argue with beliefs or commonly accepted psychological development.

I maintain that sobriety does not per se guarantee a clear picture of reality. And while habitual dope use does not either, I see no way to establish any critical sphere, free from emotional tainting of reality in sobriety. Marijuana specifically, due to its relaxing effects, gives the user objectivity about their emotions.

Also, I am not talking about habitual "partying" or anything of that nature, nor do I claim that a joint will make loosing your family a breeze. I also do not think smoking joints makes you some kind of super Buddhist monk after one hit, and that smoking constantly is better than Nirvana. But I do think that coming home from work, throwing on your favorite album, doing a "J," and reflecting on your day, is better than coming home from work, "vegging out" in front of the TV, or blogs or vids or whatever, and not thinking.
The Almighty Buck

Journal Journal: On the Existence of the PHB. . .

Does the PHB really exist?

I worked 3rd shift for almost exactly 2 years, quality controlling the data for a major weather graphics provider. During that time, while also quality controlling the data, I wrote scripts that watch directories. . .basically reporting the health/status of all the ingest/dissemination processes running.

I was so good, that they created a new position just for me to focus more in general on the health of the computers running the aforementioned processes. I was moved off nights(and quality controlling, for the most part), and I felt like my hard work actually resulted in some reward and recognition, opposite of what I expected when I entered this capitalist game.

Obviously, when I worked at night, I did not have much face to face contact with my boss(es). Mainly just email. I was very, very diligent in responding to all emails sent my way. I read them carefully, and thoughtfully composed responses, ans assumed that everyone I was corresponding with was doing the same.

Lately, it seems like I am the only person who can remember anything, mentioned in any email, or anyting even remotely related to the operation here. And I smoke lots and lots of ganj.

My boss(there is the guy that hired me, my boss, and there is the guy that "supervises" me) sent me an email one day, asking for things I may want considered for a budget. He had been asking for this list from the "Lead Programmer" of our little department, which is different from the RND dept, where all the real programmers have offices(I share a hallway with the lead programmer). Lead programmer never got back to him, crunch time comes, he asks me for a quick writeup, which I provided.

One of the things we really needed was a KVM switch, one with more than 4 ports. I asked for such a switch in the writeup I gave my boss. Severaly weeks later, I inquired about the status of the switch. He forwarded my email to the purchasing "guy" who replied back that he was waiting for more to order, since our switch was only like $5. $5! I was like, wow, I'll buy four of those for my basement. Turns out that the switch the purchaser was refering to was a 2-way DB-9 switch we ordered for something completely different. And there was no KVM switch ordered.

Is that common place? Should I get used to it? Is it true that most people are promoted to their level of incompetency, and really I should just get over it, being one of the few competent ones?

I mean, it's quite clear now that my boss had absolutely no idea what I was talking about when I asked about the KVM switch I asked for for budget(at his fucking request).

Journal Journal: You are misunderstanding the denotation for the connotation

Math (or Maths for the Europeans, why is it that both sides of the Atlantic agree that it's mathematics, yet we Americans routinely call it Math?) constantly and consistently blows my mind. However, I've just read something that I find particularly disturbing.

If you've never watched Joeseph Campbell interviewed by Bill Moyers, you are missing out. But one of the most universal things he talks about in one of the segments was how people often misplace the denotation for the connotation . Which is quite understandable, given the relatively lazy attitude average joe has for thinking about such things. Even special joe probably never thinks outside of practical experience to see the meaning of practical experience.

But why is this important? Well, one conclusion I draw, not necessarily from Joeseph Campbell, is that if you truly believe that, say, Mary was an actual virgin who actually had a baby who actually was the son of God, as in God actually put his sperm, or whatever a deity of that caliber would put, into Mary, you are missing some seriously important literary points that the Bible is trying to make.

Denotation: Mary is the virgin mother of God
Connotation: Well who cares? I sure don't, but I think you get my point. The point is, it's not important to having faith that Mary actually gave a virgin birth to Jesus in the year 1. There is no reason to expect that archeological digs will support the virgin birth as a "fact," nor is there any purpose to having forensic evidence of that fact. "Be excellent to each other" is as true today as the day it was written.

Now how does this apply to the question: does 0.999~ really equal 1?

First off: read the aforementioned thread. I promise, it's relatively low key. No trolls, all genuine individuals struggling against their ignorance of the concepts of compact sets and a radix.

Maybe it's just sooo obvious to me, since I have spent probably months thinking about that very question, making sure I understood everything about it and never got the answer wrong. But thinking about it like "well, if there's no real number between reals X and Y, then X=Y" shows that you don't understand the disconnection between numbers and decimal representation. Or even the more subtle distinction between numbers and quantities.

Denotation: 0.999~, 1
Connotation: Multiplicative Identity Element

That's all that's really necessary to understand. That's the driving force behind:
X = 0.999~
10X = 9.999~
10X - X = 9X = 9
X = 1
You pick 10X because of how we represent numbers in any radix. Basically, we start with X as the repeating "decimal" of the largest symbol for radix n. Then we multiply X by the radix n and subtract X, which then gives us the largest symbol times X equals the largest symbol. If we were using hexadecimal digits, the same would hold:
X = 0.fff~
10X = f.fff~ (Remember 10 in hex is 16 in decimal)
10X - X = fX = f
X = 1

But that brings me to my bigger question. About society in general. Are we teaching math completely wrong when we ask little children, "If I have 5 apples and I give you 3 apples, how many apples do I have left?" Isn't that the start of the confusion between the denotation and the conotation?

Abstraction is more than a programming visualization tool to me. It is a way of life: keep searching for a bigger abstraction to explain new experiences, yet also cover old experiences. So I have thoughts along the lines of:

Existentialism -> Religion and strictly not the other way around(religion does not make room for existential beliefs), ergo existentialism is a more "correct" theory, or religion could be considered a subset, a "kernel" if you will, of the set of existential ideas. But in general, they are both ideas, so I have to abstract a model for ideas, so really, the relative "correctness" of existentialism vs religion "doesn't matter." Much in the same way as the "distance" between 0.999~ and 1 "doesn't matter," or more appropriately, "doesn't exist."

Isn't tying mathematical knowledge to practical experience, specifically tying numbers to quantities that one can count, preventing others from being able to make their own abstractions? Isn't that why algebra is such a turning point in adolescent education? Isn't that why people have such a difficult time with calculus, and in general, believe calculus/differential equations to be the end-all be-all of "hard" math? Isn't that why dumbasses, like meteorologists say, who can't guarantee a forecast within +-4 degrees F, will laugh at the math major who mistakes 32 for 16 when multiplying 8 by 4? Doesn't this type of "practical" thinking reinforce things that shouldn't necessarily be reinforced, like the importance of the bottom line or how fast your car can go?

Or is this really the best of all possible worlds? And I'm just lucky to see what most people can't see in math.


Journal Journal: What is LIVE?

I work for one of the major weather graphics and data providers here in the US. I will leave it as an exercies to the reader to find out which one.

Anyway, sometimes when I'm bored at work, I go to medialine to see how the company's public persona is perceived.

Alright, you got me, I am addicted to online, pseudo-anonymous bilboards. :-P

I came across this thread there. Man, mets are some weird nerds. Earth science doesn't give much training in abstraction so met nerds are a very pedantic bunch. Ethics of calling something live? Puh-fucking-leeeeaaaasse!!!

I mean, we're talking about a fucking Tee-Vee show here! This is a construct designed to sell "viewers" to "advertisers." Where are the ethics involved in local news broadcasts? For christ's sake, you're already misrepresenting yourself as an outlet for information, when in reality, you just want to keep people's attention to the used car salesman's ad. Local news is inherently un-ethical. It's not important that you know precisely when it's going to rain, or what the relative maximum temperature a thermometer at the nearest airport will read. The local news makes all that stuff "appear" important, so viewers will watch advertisements.

But, none of that should be news to anyone.

I think a better question is: Does karaoke qualify as a live performance?

I think the best answer is: It doesn't even matter since it doesn't affect my enjoyment of life, or karaoke.
Christmas Cheer

Journal Journal: I can get a real job now!!!

I think I hit suburban stoner nirvana this past Thanksgiving weekend.

Here's a summary of my last 5 days or so:

No work Tuesday - Saturday. It's now Sunday, and I'm back at the grind, and that's kind of a bummer, but c'mon. . .5 days of R&R.

Called, and hooked up with, the drug dealer on Wednesday. Out of college for 4 years now. Never got it right while I was in college, or out, but this year I remembered to buy dope before I wanteded/needed it. This is key people. So many years before, I failed at this step along the path.

Treated Tuesday and Wednesday like any other, normal weekend. My girlfriend and I smoked up, got the munchies, baked cookies, etc. I mean, we got high, but nothing really special since we weren't really celebrating/observing any fake holidays at the time. Also talked to the drug dealer on Wednesday, as I mentioned before, and that was key.

Thanksgiving day: 2 families, 2 dinners, 3 houses, about 3 hours of driving, 10 hours total of non-marijuana activities. Really not so bad. Woke up at 11am. Went to bed at 1am. Lots of good food in between.

Friday. Well, you know what they say about Friday: "It's Friday. You ain't got no job. And you ain't got shit to do!" Well, Friday and Saturday. It was like a fog. Like the beginning of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest . I'm not even sure what I did. I ate lots of leftovers, watched TV and some movies, slept, showered a couple of times. Oh man it was great. Ooohh, I for got to tell you, I talked to the drug dealer again on Saturday, and hooked up with an ounce of keif, which, if you can afford it, is excellent.

So, to recap, I spent several hundered dollars on marijuana and some processed marijuana, and smoked much of it in the comfort of my own home, which is a fairly decent condo on the lake here in Madison, WI, with an excellent couch for such an activity. No fiending for dope. No fiending for good company. No fiending for a nice place to sit. No fiending for food. Everything was all taken care of in a way I had never seen before. I even got some recording done with my band Saturday afternoon in my basement.

The real question is: where do I go from here?

I think I've done it all. I should just get a better job, buy a better condo, and buy better recording gear.

I could even get a job with drug testing.

I guess I'm thinking I've hit the top of the mountain. There's no one on the face of the planet who does more drugs more responsibly than myself. . .so there's no more reason to do drugs.

United States

Journal Journal: Oh beautiful for spacious skies

Sometimes, I'm just so proud to be an american</sarcasm>

Here's a really neat email my girlfriend received at work from one of her peers, posted for all to enjoy:

This one is impossible to believe. Scroll down for the text. If there is one thing you forward today.....let it be this.
REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of PanAm Flight 103!
REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993!
REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon!
REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the military barracks in Saudi Arabia!
REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the American Embassies in Africa!
REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the USS COLE!
REMEMBER the MUSLIM attack on the Twin Towers on 9/11/2001!
REMEMBER all the AMERICAN lives that were lost in those vicious MUSLIM attacks!
Now the United States Postal Service REMEMBERS and HONORS the EID MUSLIM holiday season with a commemorative first class holiday postage stamp. REMEMBER to adamantly and vocally BOYCOTT this stamp when purchasing your stamps at the post office. To use this stamp would be a slap in the face to all those AMERICANS who died at the hands of those whom this stamp honors. REMEMBER to pass this along to every patriotic AMERICAN you know.

The Matrix

Journal Journal: good bye. . .cruel world. . .good bye

The weight of the world has become so great recently, that I don't believe I can keep it from crushing the dreams of my youth.

Weed is scarce, and more expensive everyday.

Work is boring, and limited to what is profitable.

I haven't the strength to continue this yuppie by day/hippie by night lifestyle anymore.

Even though, as far as computers go, I don't believe that there is anything I can't do, just things I don't have time to figure out, time is running out.

The longer I sit here, and work, the less time I have for anything else.

I'm done for. . .

I'm waiting for the warm embrace of. . .mediocrity.

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