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Month: May 2013

That book on melody…

I started writing a book on melody back in 2008, I think it was. Maybe even a bit before then. But then I got sidetracked programming melody generators, namely my Android app and my online version. I learned quite a lot from these endeavors, so I’m glad I spent time with them before continuing my book; it made for fantastic research. I still plan on creating a desktop version of the melody generator, but there’s a lot of interface programming to learn. I really hate interface programming!

In the meantime, I’m returning to writing that book on melody. I’m starting it from scratch, though I have plenty of notes to work from that I made while programming the melody generators, so I have almost all the content I need. It’s just a matter of sorting it out and presenting it in an easy-to-follow way.

For now, I aim on having it done by the Fourth of July, and then releasing it as soon as I can after that. It will most likely be a self-published ebook, though I’m not yet sure how I’ll sell it. I’ll worry about that later.

And now I better turn off my computer… big storm above…

For playtime

“The goal of the future is full unemployment, so we can play,” said Arthur C. Clarke.

Seems a reasonable guess, considering the promises of technological innovations.

But I’d say the technology is already here, today. We have it. We have the technology to allow us to play the days away, living life enjoying each other’s company rather than laboring and stressing over work done for money. There are still some things we must do, such as maintain our electric and water maintenance facilities, our farming and food distribution, our public safety and emergency services. What else? These services don’t need to cost anything but time, in the same way our household chores cost nothing but time. We just train an entire community to do these things, and then someone will only have to volunteer a couple hours every week or month at most.

A lot of the work most people do nowadays is, in the big scheme of things, unnecessary. We sell things and provide services to each other that we really don’t need. We want to protect ownership and private property so we won’t bother each other. Get off my property! We just like giving someone else the privelege of our working hours in exchange for the money so that we can turn around and make the same trade with someone else for whatever services or goods we want. Want, because other people have them. Want, but don’t need. (Plus, having grown up in such an environment, we feel safe with it, for the most part. There’s some strange fear that the world might collapse if we change things too drastically. Nevermind how drastically things have already changed in just the last century. Who wants to go live in 1913?)

Ultimately, most of our economics are based on vanity, and that may be the hardest thing to give up. We like to protect the possibility of getting that new gadget, bragging about our next achievement, buying a big house. Can we share? No, it’s mine! Socialist!

But, if we did give it up, we’d all be far wealthier than we could imagine, because life would be one big playtime. Isn’t that the sort of life people desire to gain through wealth? And all this time, the cost isn’t actually monetary.

The Sins of Jurassic Park?

Found on YouTube:

Firstly, Jurassic Park has many more continuity errors than are featured in this video. The film has a ton. It’s discontinuity heaven.

However, I don’t think some of this video’s critiques are valid, namely the ones about Hammond having to be present for all the Mr. DNA intros, about the cars visiting the T-Rex paddock second, or the cars reversing their directions on the track. Any astute viewer should recognize that the tour these visitors are taking is not representative of the tour intended for actual future guests. The point of these people visiting the island is to “sign off” on the island, endorsing it for the sake of potential investors. The park is still unfinished. As Dr. Arnold notes, “Vehicle headlights are on and they’re not responding. Those shouldn’t be running off the car batteries. Item 151 on today’s glitch list. We have all the problems of a major theme park and a major zoo, and the computers aren’t even on their feet yet.” And as Muldoon later notes, “We need locking mechanisms on the vehicle doors!” They still have things to work on, things to finish. Even the visitor’s center is full of builders and painters working on the place. Think they’ll have that on the tour?

Also, as silly as the “Unix system” looks, it was a real system:

Of course, one must keep in mind that Jurassic Park’s computer systems and programs that ran the park were very flawed, as their development was apparently headed by Dennis Nedry, who, as far as we can tell, cared more about money than the integrity of his work. In fact, his computer programs were designed to let him sabotage Hammond, not keep everyone safe. Of course, though Nedry is sleazy, part of this is Hammond’s fault; his greedy ambition to be the first one to create something like his park blinded him to its many faults, not least of all its dependence on an apparently giant (two-million-lines-of-code is a lot) highly-non-modular highly-automated computer infrastructure to control its systems, an obvious recipe for disaster even if the lead programmer had the best of intentions and was simply naive. Which, of course, Nedry was not. After all, even Nedry knew better than to mess with the raptor fences!

Got my twitter back

Looks like a got my twitter back! Didn’t get an email or anything from twitter support, but suspended notices aren’t popping up anymore and everything looks back to normal. It looks like my account had been compromised somehow. I’ll be searching around for how that could have happened. But the link to my website had been changed to something spammy, which I’m betting is why my account was suspended. Glad I got it back, but it looks like I lost all my followers and everyone I was following, so that will take some time to rebuild. Hope it won’t happen again.

The universality of superior intelligence

I’ve heard it theorized that if we ever contact sentient intelligent aliens from other planets, we may have no way to relate to them because their methods of thinking will be too outlandish for us. They will think in fundamentally different ways.

Nonsense, I say! While there may be some variations on thought processing speed, memory, and perceptions (being able to hear different sound frequencies, for instance, or having a stronger sense of smell, or perhaps being able to sense infrared light, though I’m not sure what good that would do), I theorize the foundations of intelligence are like the laws of physics or mathematics; they are universal. Nature always hones in on the same principles.

In this way, I believe humans are the most intelligent possible beings in the universe. If something cannot be understood by a human, then it cannot be understood by any physical being at all. There may be aliens just as intelligent as humans, but there can be no aliens with “superior” intelligence (of the “I understand things you cannot even fathom!” sort, not the “I can do math in my head faster than you!” sort), because there exist no different systems of logic that are just as valid as the system humans use, because our system is based on immutable principles ingrained in the nature of nature of itself. (I do not mean the system of logic as defined by mathematical laws in a text book; these systems are incomplete. We do not yet fully recognize the logic we use, yet we use it naturally. Its subtle simpleness and ease of use is what makes so hard to find, but we’re getting there.)

Twitter suspended me

I just tried tweeting something, and couldn’t. My twitter account has been suspended! (Don’t have schadenfreude!) I’m guessing they have some automated algorithmic process for suspending accounts and mine came up as a false-positive. (Too many links, maybe? I do post links a bit, but they’re never misleading or repetitive or spammy.) Either that or this is the work of my arch-nemesis, Finneas Blinn, who is envious of my intellect and success and seeks to ruin me in every way.

Fortunately, Twitter allows you to submit a ticket asking them to review and restore your account, which I of course immediately did.

We’ll see how long it takes. Googling around, seems false-positives are not uncommon, and restoration can take anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks. So it’s like querying agents!

Anyway, I’m not too worried. I only follow around 40 people and only have around 240 followers. I don’t have a business that relies on tweeting people or something, so waiting won’t bother me. Besides, there’s always you, WordPress, my ever faithful friend and ally.

Oh, and here’s the tweet I was trying to tweet when my account suddenly became suspended: “almost done plotting my next novel… have a summary of all the scenes, but still need to work out the specifics of connecting some of them”

Professor turns test into a game, blogger remains unimpressed

Here’s an interesting article a friend shared on Facebook. The article has gotten a lot of likes and tweets, and commentators on the article congratulate the author, a professor of Behavioral Ecology at UCLA, for his wonderful brilliant idea.

His idea? He let his students “cheat” on an exam by letting them work with each other and with any other resource they wanted. The “meta” idea is that they’d learn something about behavior by how they take the test.

What would they learn?

I don’t know. The article is rather vague on the specifics, save for an idea any idiot should know, “If we all work together, we can do more.” That doesn’t mean working together is automatically a good thing, obviously; it depends on what people are trying to achieve. If two or more people are trying to achieve the same thing and lose nothing by another person achieving it, then, of course, work together. I think the human species would’ve died out long ago if humans didn’t innately understand this, so I fail to see anything very amazing or brilliant by exemplifying this in allowing such cooperative behavior to emerge in a set of unconventional exam rules.

The professor writes:

In the end, the students learned what social insects like ants and termites have known for hundreds of millions of years. To win at some games, cooperation is better than competition. Unity that arises through a diversity of opinion is stronger than any solitary competitor.

But did the students themselves realize this?

Is that supposed to be profound?

What really bugs me more than anything, however, is when the professor writes:

Is the take-home message, then, that cheating is good? Well…no. Although by conventional test-taking rules, the students were cheating, they actually weren’t in this case. Instead, they were changing their goal in the Education Game from “Get a higher grade than my classmates” to “Get to the best answer.” This also required them to make new rules for test taking.

What student’s goal is merely to “get a higher grade than my classmate”? Is the value of a D worth more if everyone else got an F? I think the goal for most students is to “get the best grade I can based on how much I value it.” Because, in the end, for the purposes of the student, the true worth of a grade is decided by himself, not a professor or an institution’s arbitrary rating system.

You see, you silly professor, your test was never a “game.” At least, not in the sense you thought it was. You do not get to decide what the students are playing for, so you never had control of the rules in the first place. The students have always been in control of the rules, because they’re in control of their own goals. The rules any educator establishes for his students are part of the educator’s goals, what the educators are playing for, what the educators want to do with their student’s grades and what they want those grades to reflect.

So I fail to see how the professor accomplished anything worthwhile.

If you want to accomplish something worthwhile, follow my education philosophies!

Slash as a conjunction word

Here’s an interesting article about the word “slash” becoming a new modern conjunction word, as when people say the word to mean what its corresponding symbol means in writing, as in: “I think I’m going to watch TV slash take a nap.”

I have used the term myself, though not often, and I would never spell out the word in writing, such as in a blog/article.  (See?)  And when I say it, I prefer to physically slash the air with two fingers for gesticulatory emphasis.

Of course, we can quickly infinite loop the definition of “slash” by defining it as “and slash or” meaning “and and slash or or” meaning “and and and slash or or or” ad infinitum.

Anyway, it’s interesting to see how language evolves like this.  I’m always annoyed when people say “that’s not a word” as if only some select group of humanity has the ability to decide what is and isn’t a word.  There’s a fine argument to be made that just making up a word or changing a word’s definition without anyone’s consent will only hurt your chances of being understood when you try to communicate, but if the meaning is clear by the word’s context and the origins of the word’s roots, language can be completely gruptious.