From the RFC discussing the rampant and willful distortion of Wikipedia articles, originating from authors using Congress's IP blocks:
We already have mechanisms in place to detect suspect edits. ... It's just kind of ironic that this time it's the leaders of the free world we need to watch.
[ Updated 1:35 PM ]
From /.'s discussion:
And now Congress will vote to make freely-editable online encyclopedias illegal.
Hehe. Although the discussions from the RFC are the most interesting, bringing up: the value of permanent/limited blocking, whether this type of punishment is useful, the power that robot editors have in cleaning this up, the possible future of PR firms ransacking Wikipedia, and how group attacks differ from individual attacks.
Watched The 40 Year Old Virgin [ IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes ] a couple of nights ago (4/5). A few flat moments but otherwise very funny, and it was the first DVD with outtakes that were worth watching. The four leads worked well together. Then, Friday, we watched the really stunning Lord of War [ IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes ] with Nicolas Cage (4/5). A dark, satirical view of the corruptions of super-powers, similar to The Constant Gardener or (as I can only assume) Syriana but with an absurdist distancing instead of the others' gritty, expose style.
Friday night was dinner at home with possibly the most perfect filet mignon that we've ever cooked. The secret (via recommendations from my bro') is to grill them first and then finish cooking them in the oven. Paired with a Spanish rioja. Su-poib! Then on Saturday, we went to Rathbun's for our seventh anniversary dinner. Our first experience there. Stand out dishes were their Lamb Scaloppine appetizer (wow) and Lisa had a taco stuffed with lobster. Nice. Then, a very short couple of drinks at the new bar The Spotted Dog just down the street from us on North in the old fire station. It was packed and will probably stay that way.
I got the last slot again and my playing was a mess, but Shelby and Robert came by and there were some high points in the line up so all was well. I felt good and Lisa said I sounded good--still not "emoting" very much though. I'm getting the experience I need.
I've decided I just don't understand the signup process. I finally delicately pushed myself to a decent place in line, only to be rebuffed when one of the older guys (good friends with the owner?) started picking out who arrived earliest and then moved them to the front of the line. Oh well, I was quickly back to the 11:00 slot. There were some grumblings about how most other places use a lottery and how badly the random system at Red Light Cafe sucks, but ... well, they control the means of production, so we can do little else but submit. I think another problem is that I don't socialize well with those in power, so I have no cache. No cache!
High points were Alexander on electric bass doing some sort of beat poetry/Tom Waits type of thing. We were completely freaked out. Then, just before me, a band called The Annunaki played a couple of songs: piano, female voice, and acoustic guitar. Their second song was an ~10-minute epic, called "In Transition," that had some nice interplay between the two instruments. Check out their songs on Myspace.
Next week'll be the last week at Red Light for a little while in order to try to play at different places. I'll be playing my transcription of "Starship Trooper" and "The Photograph" from The Journalist.Continue reading "3rd open mic"
The story of the Georgetown law students who turned their backs on Gonzalez has been floating around for a few days, but I just now finally read about it. The quote at the end from their professor is classic. And check out this more cheeky image from one of students in the audience.
Then there's Joel Stein's hilarious rant against support of our troops.
I do sympathize with people who joined up to protect our country, especially after 9/11, and were tricked into fighting in Iraq. I get mad when I'm tricked into clicking on a pop-up ad, so I can only imagine how they feel.
The various blog responses are (almost) as entertaining as the article itself.
I hope to get an earlier slot for my 3rd try (i.e. before 11). I'll be playing the last three songs from The Journalist: "Through the Woods," "Where Was I?", and "(coda)". I think of these three songs as sortof a reverse sonata, with the tocatta at the beginning and the more thoughtful piece at the end. Many of the songs contain repeated themes from earlier songs.
"Through the Woods" is a perpetuum mobile chase scene in 9/8 with constant eighth notes throughout. The section using syncopated arpeggios (E D Bb C) is a theme that appears varied in two other songs ("The Crossing" and "The Photograph"). The middle instrumental section is based on the progression that opens the first song of The Journalist. The ending was inspired by the ending of King Crimson's "One More Red Nightmare" from Red. I like how the alto sax improv over a driving 6/8 just drops into silence as if pulled into a black hole. I don't think I quite acheived the same impact though.
"Where Was I?" is a short interlude. It's framed by a melody, for the left hand alone, which first appears in "The Map." The bulk of the song interrupts this melody with a symmetric structure of A B B A. The B is taken from "My Beautiful Day" and rearranged with power chords.
"(coda)" opens with a somewhat orchestral instrumental section. The subsequent verses segue into a final verse based on the chords from the closing section of "Falling" (and re-used as the close of "(coda)"). The lyrics for the final verse,
I hear messages from the ether coming down into my short future, came to mind when I was naming my blog. The melodic motiv for the final words is the germ for the melody of the orchestral section, repeated immediately after.
Although I feel more comfortable when I talk between songs, these three work best uninterrupted. I think I'll open with some observational humor about Ovaltine. They really should call it Roundtine, you know.Continue reading "Open mic at The Red Light Cafe tonight"
When I access the SunTrust online banking Web site, I get a virus warning.
The error specifies the HTML cache file that contains the error and gives the following message:
Contains signature of the PHISH/CitiBkfraud.G virus
This doesn't happen from other browsers, and the cache file and contained script appears harmless. There is virtually no information on this virus online.
Sometime around summer of last year, I remember having a busy week where I was out late every night from Tuesday through Saturday. By Friday morning, I felt like a shell but still kept going. I think that was the first time that I realized that my days of burning twice as bright are coming to an end. This week was another reminder.
Wednesday was open mic and late dinner at DaVinci's. Thursday was Big Fun at the anniversary blogger meet up consisting of Part 1 at Trader Vic's and Part 2 at The EARL. Neon Poisoning was dubbed King of the Irish Car Bombs--definitely the new signature blogger drink. Friday started with Moresight at The Red Light Cafe (very good show) and ended with a few of us closing down McCray's Tavern. Saturday was the wedding of a couple of Lisa's previous/current co-workers up in Alpharetta. The reception had: great Italian food and an open bar. We wisely stayed at the hotel.
Sunday came too soon.
Last night had its problems, but my performance wasn't all that bad. I got signed up for the 11:00 slot which wouldn't be so bad but some friends came at around 9:30 (thanks Cathy, Allison, and Steve!), so I felt responsible for making them wait so long. To top it off, everyone was running long, so I didn't make it on until ~11:30. Someone in the audience from last week (Tracy?) gave me some unsolicited encouragement--which felt wonderful--but unfortunately she and her boyfriend had to leave before I went on. They said something about meeting George Glass...
Anyway, what I learned:
Highlights: a treacherously difficult and well-executed They Might Be Giants cover, and another nice set from this older guy ("Lint-head" Johnson? IIRC) who has a wonderfully fat-tounged voice that works so well over his slide playing. Also Bill? (and Babette?) recommended a good place for custom keyboard cases--which of course I can't find now.
As one of our few late-night dining choices, Lisa and I went to DaVinci's again afterwards--open till 2:30 on weekdays. I'd like to make it a regular thing (play out, eat at DaVinci's and bitch about what went wrong/right), but Lisa's getting a bad vibe from the staff like we shouldn't be ordering food so late. I'll give it a few more tries. Maybe we just need to become regulars.
Lisa just pointed out that Moresight is confirmed to play Red Light this Friday. We'll be there. So will you:
I'll be playing open mic at The Red Light Cafe tonight. I plan on playing "Oscillations" and "The Source" from The Silent Spectrum and then "The Photograph" from The Journalist if there's time. "Oscillations" is a short instrumental introduction where the heroes of the story attempt to triangulate the source of the mysterious radio signals. "The Source" is an extended 3-part song, around 12 minutes long, where they discover the intentions of the evil Kronenfeld and decide to save the world. Maybe.
If I don't get booted, I'll finish with "The Photograph." In it, the protagonist returns home to get help but discovers that everyone he tries to contact has already been disappeared at the hands of the fanatical cult that's chasing him.
Then tea and cakes.Continue reading "Open mic at The Red Light Cafe tonight"
Brian Lehrer on WNYC, in a segment reminicient of the one where he asked callers to cross party lines with praise, today asked callers to confess an uncertainty or ambivalence they have on current policy. Torture, wire-tapping, social services, etc. Anything that would normally be polarizing, callers had to admit their uncertainty. People tried to sneak in certainty (it's sometimes oddly difficult to pinpoint your own lack of knowledge), but most had an honest fence-sitting experience. Lehrer was humorously (and deliberately) over-sensitive to the importance of opinion as he tried to coax ambivalence out of others.
It was completely un-Earth-shattering but somehow more like what talk radio should be. Loud-mouthed opinion is empty entertainment too often clothed as important content (with exclamation points!!!). When they're right, they insist it's valid reporting; when they're wrong, they mince that it's entertainment. Brian Lehrer simply asked for unattractive honesty.
Impulse buy from a weekend viewing of a couple of Sinbad movies.Continue reading "The Arabian Nights"
From the afterward to the 1994 edition of The Recording Angel:
Unlike text or images, music doesn't lend itself to being scanned or searched or 'surfed' (except, perhaps, by musicians with particular questions in mind). Music happens in real time. Despite all the talk about real time in cyber circles, few cybernauts have the patience for real real time. So music will be reduced to hooks, riffs, melodic fragments (something rap is already doing). People may download whole songs or whole symphonies, but when will they find the time to listen? One's state of being online is not unlike one's browsing--interest and desire constantly tickled and frsutrated.
Quoted in The Recording Angel:
Therefore, if we refer the concept of force to that of will, we have in fact referred something more unknown to something infinitely better known, indeed to the one thing really known to us immediately and completely; and we have very greatly extended our knowledge.
Spinoza says that if a stone projected through the air had consciousness, it would imagine it was flying of its own will. I add merely that the stone would be right.
Evan Eisenberg, the author, replies shortly after:
Why are we moved at the sight of a fountain, at the water's yearning rise and dying fall? ... The fountain moves us not because it reminds us of how we sometimes feel, but because we know just how it feels.
Early Friday at Fernbank's Planetarium to see the special on Einstein. A little to light with the facts it left us both wanting more, but the hour-long show was otherwise breezey and pleasant. I'll still never be able to point out Sagittarius, though.
Birthday party for a friend at Front Page News in L5P on Friday then birthday dinner for another friend at Taurus in Midtown/Buckhead on Saturday. Both featured exclusive rooms ... oooh. I had the Pan Roasted Filet Mignon with Garlic Mashed Potatoes (not great, but good) and Lisa had ... Grilled Veal Porterhouse (I don't do veal ... oddly, Taurus had some dishes with pork from free range farms, but not all dishes were).
Having segued with that rant: we'll be hitting Whole Foods on the 24th to support the Animal Compassion Foundation. It's sort of like the middle class version of the $1000-a-plate dinner at a fund raiser. Not the most noble effort but not all that bad either.
The Planetary Society has a collection of beautiful yet bare images of Stardust hitting the Wild 2 comet. I picked N2075WE02 as my wallpaper. It just returned from its ~ seven year trip. It's chilling to think of the distance from Earth and that we had something out there actually recording a moment in time. It reminded me of the movie someone had created back in July of the images from the Deep Impact satellite.
Escapee from the Meme Machine posts the results of her two month experiment as an atheist visiting Christian discussion groups [via Pharyngula]. The results were 80% what you'd expect (ignorance and vitriol) and 20% surprising (commonality and politeness). Very well-written summarization of the experience and notable differences. Worth a read. Also check out the comments from both entries.
In my personal experience, I'd been presented with Pascal's Wager--the fifth most common reason to believe according to the article--as a reason to believe (see the list of criticisms for a good overview of its many problems). My response has always been: to waste your life in following a falsehood is a secular hell equal to that of any sacred hell. It would turn what should be the most meaningful dedication of your life into a Sisyphean farce. For me, that sorta nullifies any weight the wager could have.
Most arguments, however, come in a form similar to Dembski's tellingly daring defence of ID:
Ironically, Judge Jones's decision is likely to prove a blessing for the intelligent design movement, spurring its proponents to greater heights and thereby fostering its intellectual vitality and ultimate success.
Just ignore reality and you don't have to defend your beliefs.Continue reading "Two worlds"
Tom the Dancing Bug provides one of the more cogent arguments against Cheney's tortured argument for torture:
There's a bomb hidden in Times Square, and this baby swallowed instructions on how to defuse it!
Damn those legislatures who shortsightedly outlawed ripping open live babies!
A couple of my favorite science blogs are now under the umbrella of, naturally, ScienceBlogs [via Scott Spiegelberg]. The site is very clean and attractive. It provides high-level categories and a search of the 11 contributing blogs. It also has an RSS feed, but it's not an aggregate feed. That seems sensible for the blogs involved.
Beyond the cross-blog search there's not much added benefit, but it does act somewhat as a web ring: providing qualified referals.
So I went to The Red Light Cafe for the open mic night last night. It went surprisingly well.
Everyone gets 15 minutes to play. That ends up being around three songs, so I played "No One Receiving" and "Resonance I" from The Silent Spectrum and "My Beautiful Day" from The Journalist. People seemed to like my summation of the stories (wacky!). Red Light does this every Wednesday, so I'll probably start making a regular event of it.
I was in the restroom when they came out with the sign up sheet, so I ended up with the next-to-the-last slot at 10:45. That gave me extra time to fret. Oh well. Playing in front of people always gives me the shaky, adrenaline hands. Last night, they started early. I need to start bringing gloves. It wasn't at all cold in the place, but I couldn't keep my hands warm and it only got worse as I sat there. Then I decided to go over the music in my head. Big mistake. Whatever I was playing should have already been learned, no amount of reviewing beforehand would help an hour before going on stage. I only succeeded in freaking myself out because I couldn't remember voicings for a few sections of "Resonance." Gah.
Lisa came for some much-needed support, and a few guys from Moresight serendipitously came in just before I went on. They were setting up an as-yet-unconfirmed gig for the 20th (next Friday, go!). Lisa gave a thumbs up on the performance and even said my voice sounded good (the wonders of a good microphone and mixing board). She did however warn me that the nervous tics I had while talking about the songs (hand waving and such) veered away from the Woody Allen type neurotic to a less presentable psychosis. I need to reign that in. The Moresight guys were very supportive. Brandon had good comments on the song structures and Matt immediately picked up on a Philip Glass influence. I was very lucky to have musicians I (kindof) know there.
There were many really skilled musicians there. That made the 10:45 thing even more nerve-racking. However, and this sounds cruel but isn't, all of the people who made skillful and less-than-skillful mistakes made me feel more comfortable. It's not that I was reveling in their failure, rather it helped me put my own performance in context. Even a complete meltdown was Just Not That Important. I had to focus on the thousands of times that I sat at home and played and really really got into it. And this should be no different. If I had had a meltdown, I maybe wouldn't next time I performed and there'd at least be a funny blog entry to write.
I hadn't been on stage for several years, but I feel more comfortable now--despite all of my neurosis--because I'm much better prepared.Continue reading "Walking the talk"
Listening to the first 15 minutes of the 50-minute Echolyn piece Mei, I was reminded of The Mars Volta's Frances the Mute--considering it to be, basically, one long piece. The Mars Volta has its roots, prog-wise, in what I could never warm up to: prog metal--even though their stuff is more Last Exit-styled free jazz. I like The Mars Volta because I like At the Drive-In, but no matter how technically accomplished bands like Dream Theater were, I can't really enjoy that style.
Anyways, I need to purchase Mei and Frances and give them a chance. A random reviewer of Mei threw around more references to Kansas/Yes/Genesis that would be polite, but I think Echolyn has their own style. That simple, forced heritage may be too unfair.
When I play a record it's as though someone else were expressing my feelings. When I play the piano, it's as though I were expressing someone else's feelings.
"Nina" quoted from The Recording Angel.
Looking at the code to randomly pixelize the Google logo, I'm amazed at how utterly more efficient others' code is than mine [ via Digg ] (and a perfect example of how idiotic Digg comments are). This is always in the back of my mind, but since reading about the 100-line Lisp project that implements Reddit, I've been considering it more. Although much of the efficiency and terseness is in the additional libraries (both examples) and the more compact syntax (Lisp), a simple solution is something to admire and study.
I'm also reminded of the power of C++ (as I'm entrenched in Java). Many of the gee-wiz functional programming techniques used in Lisp (but by all means not all) can be duplicated with some fancy template programming (for example, using Alexandrescu's generalized functors). I still have template programming stuck in my head and have not had the opportunity to use Java's generics.
Busy working, practicing piano, and coding.
Went to Asada with friends on Friday night based on several recommendations. I had had upset internal things going on since like New Years, so I've been trying to cut down on food during the week. To keep with the theme of paucity, I only had the salad and mussels, which were good. A majority of the table, however, felt that the dishes had not-much-special to them. Nice atmosphere and definitely worth a second try. Later was drinks (from a seedy liquor store) over at Alicia and Dan's then we poured ourselves home.
Yesterday was season two of Arrested Development (X-mas gift!). My post last April noted that the phrase "Franklin Comes Alive" garnered 17 hits at the time. It's up to 2,040 now. The deleted scenes were throwaway, but we got hooked on the cast commentary for the "Good Grief" episode.
Last night, we finally made it to the much-anticipated Grape restaurant on 10th. Great appetizers and extremely useful pairings for everything on the menu, however the wine descriptions were somewhat lacking. More goofy than informative. Oh well. The staff was very helpful--I think they pegged us as locals and obvious alchoholics.
I was all ready to write about the dispeptic logic of how New Concepts are driving our current culture when I read a Language Log post (with a nice addendum) taking apart an extremely lazy Joel Splosky article in which he brings up the In-My-Day argument.
My argument is in contrast to the LL article. I too-often read from a new technology pundit that, for instance, hypertext is changing how we consider the world or that search engines are making us lazy readers. In effect, new technology is so different from what we are used to that it is changing us into something different. Variations on the hypertext concept is what I hear mostly, so it became the model of my internal argument. One premise in particular (to risk erecting a straw man) has bothered me: HTML links change text from a static domain to a more spatial one. All knowledge gets immediately linked to other knowledge and makes it more visceral. Well, yeah, but what about footnotes? Or indicies? Didn't they, and the TOCs as they were created in the ~1400s [?] create these links and create them as a model for Tim Berners-Lee and probably as a model of how we internalize text? Or perhaps they were a result of how we as humans internalize ideas.
A year ago I started re-listening to I, Robot--within the first five albums that I ever owned--and it's really stuck with me. Early imprinting, I guess. It came back into my consciousness when, a year or so prior, a pot smokin' friend played it at a party. Apparently, not unlike Genesis' Selling England by the Pound which I learned from some art rock afficianados, Alan Parsons too is well paired with drugs. Who knew? Anyway, I don't own the CD (listening on Rhapsody) so I can't put it up on Radio from the Ether until I shell out the $9.90 (which very well could happen). I just wish that Rhapsody had Alan Parsons' Pyramid album too.
I know. I'm so gay.
Got the itch to revisit the Beethoven Quartets. I know and love the rawness of his early quartets, so I need to get more familiar with the middle ones. I can listen to one or two movements on the way to work if traffic's not heavy. CDs are in the car right now, so they'll get added to Radio from the Ether in a few days.
I knew the name Alan Hovhaness but had never heard any of his works. An Armenian-American, very tonal and pleasant. This music is so approachable, why are people listening to crap new age/wallpaper music when there are well-constructed modern compositions that are more pleasing and with greater depth? It's an old argument, and Hovhaness' works bring it back up (I've recommended Part and Gorecki for the same reasons).
I recorded the Liapunov and Scharwenka Piano Concertos on RadioWave on a whim. Late romantic, over-zealous. They should be fun.
Finally, I had first heard about Avet Terterian from the always-interesting Tim Rutherford-Johnson. Terterian completely freaked me out on first listening, so I took a break. I'm back and hope that the poor streaming quality doesn't completely destroy the sonorist subtleties of the works. (Oh, and that Wikipedia entry for Terterian was stubbed in by me before I had an account!)Continue reading "Currently listening to"
Christmas in Knoxville and a continuation of the over-indulgence of the season (which included probably the best turkey dinner ever).
A lazy 3-day week of work prior to New Years during which I managed to descimate my server. All is well now, and I'm better for it.
New Years party at friends' until 4 or so, when Lisa--apparently getting sober while I enjoyed an extended contest of who can create the more disgusting shot with the liquors available--decided to drive us home. Clear sailin'. I do remember that the host had an immediately recognizable edition of Asimov's Foundation Trilogy. The very paperbacks that I had back in high school and had since, lamentably, sold (see the covers on this page by searching for "Foundation"). Hey, maybe they were my copies!
Lazy, worthless Sunday after New Years that included The Producers (meh, a little dated) and a double feature of Sinbad: Sinbad the Sailor (1947) and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958). The earlier one, with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., was corny and incredibly over-acted, but held up well as a story. The later, with the famous Ray Harryhausen "claymation" and Bernard Herrmann soundtrack, wasn't nearly as strong. It seemed like a vehicle for special effects, and although the Herrmann soundtrack had its moments, I didn't like it nearly as much as the lush, syrupy Roy Webb from the 1947 flick. The first violin solos, referencing Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, were cliched but fit the mood.
I got interested enough to read up on The Book of One Thousand and One Nights and order (among other books) a newer translation:
1 "The Histories (Everyman's Library (Cloth))" Herodotus; Hardcover; $16.32 1 "The Oresteia : Agamemnon, Choephoroe, Eumenides (Everyman's Library (Cloth))" Aeschylus; Hardcover; $14.96 Shipping estimate for these items: January 10, 2006 - January 11, 2006 Delivery estimate: January 12, 2006 - January 17, 2006 1 "The Arabian Nights II : Sindbad and Other Popular Stories (Everyman's Library (Cloth))" Arabian Nights. English. Selections; Hardcover; $16.32 Shipping estimate for these items: January 9, 2006 Delivery estimate: January 11, 2006 - January 13, 2006 1 "The Arabian Nights (Everyman's Library (Cloth))" Husain Haddawy; Hardcover; $16.32