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Co-calendaring Made Easy-A History October 9, 2014

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Brilliant words, Geek Stuff, Uncategorizable.
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From a long and splendid discussion of calendars in The List Which Cannot Be Named:

>> =v= The lunar-yet-solar calendar is a dazzling thing.  There are solar calendars which consider the winter equinox the birth of a new year, though.
>> The Gregorian calendar being one of them, modulo errors over time.

Scene: a sunny day in ancient Sumer.  The temple courtyard. Half the junior priests are busy recording incoming tithes, and half  are sleeping or playing hacky sack.
The head priest asks the Vice-priest of Recording what’s going on:  "why can’t the next incoming tithe just go to any idle junior priest,  so they’ll all be busy?"
The Vice-priest of Recording says, "well, we tried that.  But the  bakers always give us tithes in dozens, and the ranchers tithe by  tens; the junior priests would get confused and record tithes in the  wrong base, and nothing ever added up, neither at the end of a lunar  period nor at the end of a solar period.  So now we divide the work  between them, and each junior priest always handles the same class of  tithe.  Remember the ‘Heterogenous Tithing’ conference I just  expensed?  Well, that’s the system."
Then the Assistant priest of Abstract Nonsense chipped in, "of  course, we could also just record tithes in base 2 … it’s the GCD  of 12 and 10, and some friends of mine are doing interesting work  with pattern weaving on dog-powered looms using holes in clay tablets  to encode the patterns in base 2 … in the future, you could wear a  tunic woven by a dog and no one would know … then we could use  transclusion between our record tablets to create reports simply by  taking limits of diagrams in a given categor <OWWWWWW>".
The last was because the Vice-priest of Recording had quickly stepped 
on the Assistant priest of Abstract Nonsense’s foot.
After a quick whispered consultation between the head priest and the 
Vice-priest of Recording, the head priest declares:
"Enki has revealed to me that we should keep all records in 60’s, for  everyone thereby shall reap the benefits of business thereof"

:: :: ::
(soon afterwards the Assistant priest of Abstract Nonsense tried to  say "ahah!  Enki is just taking colimits, as 60 is the coGCD of 12  and 10 … that reminds me of a result on streams, concerning whether  or not it is possible to step twice in bisimilar ones, which I read  the other day…", but no one was listening, as all the junior  priests were busy transcribing the incoming tithes of buns (in 12s)  and the tithes of cattle (in 10s) onto the new, hastily-issued,  unified TPR-60 ledger tablets.)


Now, them’s brilliant words and I laughed until milk came out my nose, but then Heather chimed in:


What? Were you there that day too?
(When I have read Chinese stories, I have often been amused by the deep bureaucracy of divine administration. The gods need Assistant  ndersecretaries of Internal Provincial Affairs?
As below, so above.
Your amusing retelling of Sumerian accounting inspires me to consider what sort of heavenly architecture will be designed by individuals who have spent their entire adult lives in the cubicles of high tech companies.
The Executive Vice President of Marketing of the Central Northwestern Division of Isjudianity looked out over a 3D interactive display of his division’s territory. A mildly annoying chime repeated itself over a small glowing red dot.
Sid twirled his fingers through the display, zooming and panning it until the city of Cincinnati bloomed before him. He twiddled his fingers to scroll through various graphs and spreadsheets until he found the one that had triggered the alert.
Sid frowned. He had no idea what it meant, but it was clear that engineering had screwed up again. He stabbed an icon near the 3D display.
“Elsa!” he snapped, “what’s going on with the Isopolydodecadoohickey Self-Referential Pseudopsychodiddleysquatification Index in the northeastern corner of the greater suburban sprawl zone of south central Cincinatti?”
Elsa sighed as she froze the intricate display of the model she’d been working on. She stabbed a button that pulled up a clone of Sid’s desktop and took a look.
“Good morning to you, too, Sid. Did you happen to look at the documentation?”
“No, of course I didn’t look at the documentation! I’ve got a big presentation for the Orchis Eurydice account tomorrow, and…”
Elsa opened a diagnostic pane under cover of Sid’s blather.
“It’s your sister’s birthday.”
Sid blustered at her for a minute.
“There’s nothing wrong with the ISP Index. You told your personal calendar not to let you forget your sister’s birthday and then you told it to stop bugging you about people’s birthdays. It decided to notify you by inserting random spurious errors in the modeling system.”
“So the people of Cincinatti are happy with their divine product, then?”
“I’d never say that, Sid. But they’ll keep buying it. Isjudianity has bought up all the competition and we’re their only access route to the celestial realms. They might not like our bundles, but they don’t have a choice.”
Elsa went back to her work. Upper management might not like everything about the modeling program, but they were dependent on it. She could tell them straight out that she was manipulating their emotions by careful selection of color palettes and display elements. Their eyes would glaze over when she talked about the intricacies of the emotional tenors of various color choices and how the layout affected situational evaluation.
They always loved the personal configurations she built for them. The configurations were designed to appeal, to sooth, to flatter. The configurations adapted to their demigod hosts, who regarded them as loyal little pets.

Polyphonic Overtone Singing October 6, 2014

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Mutants, Video.
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Anna-Maria Hefele explains two-tone singing techniques…except how she makes two voices.  Marvelous enough; I guess I shouldn’t complain about mystery in the face of beauty.

Just Watch This, and Nevermind the Captions October 1, 2014

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Wrist Rocket October 1, 2014

Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Mutants, Photography, Star Trek Technology, Toys.
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That’s right, friends, a quadcopter camera that you wear on your wrist.  THIS IS WHAT I WANT FOR NEWTONMASS, PEOPLE!  The prototype (not the rendering above) looks like it would actually work pretty well:

The promo video from their website hints at uses, which I have been advocating for years, like a follow me camera for safety and bragging:

Nixie is powered by Intel’s Edison kit, which is both small enough and affordable enough to fit inside such a small device. And devices like this will only get smaller.

As far as I can tell, Star Trek did not think of this in the 1960s.  Of course the Next Generation did, but we already had cell phones by then so no points for out-of-the-box thinking for them.

Me Personally, I Want This September 18, 2014

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This is probably much more fun than an RC car.

  • Controllable from up to 200ft with the 2.4ghz remote, indoors and out
  • The Snypa Dart Blaster attachment fires your Snypa Darts up to 45 feet
  • If you shoot back it falls apart when it gets three hits.  Nice.

    Sad But Beautiful September 18, 2014

    Posted by stuffilikenet in Mutants.
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    Dead two-headed dolphin discovered in Turkey

    Conjoined twin dolphins (sadly dead) in Turkey.

    DNA Lounge Robartenders September 18, 2014

    Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Geek Stuff, Toys, Uncategorizable.
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    They had a little contest Sunday night at DNA Lounge, as laid out in this little notice:IMG_20140915_091046


    My oldest step-daughter had listed us for tickets, so we went to the door expecting her to be the bouncer.  She was not.  In her place was our youngest step-daughter who, unbeknownst to us had wheedled her way into DNA Lounge’s good graces, no doubt on the oldest’s recommendation.  My wife did not recognize her, even as she was stamping her hand.

    Not the strangest thing we saw that evening, by half.  The most complete full-assed was a cam-driven mai tai mixin’ machine:

    In the half-assed category was this conveyor belt-driven mixing machine1. They had some trouble getting it to be reliable before I got my margarita, spilling onto the belt when the stepper motor miscounted(!).  The belt-and-suspenders approach would have a drain gutter, instead of the arrogant “we don’t need not stinkin’ steenkeeng gutters” approach.IMG_20140914_194329

    This contraption was also quite good, except the ingredients were dispensed from a single spout, leading to cross-contamination of the ultimate product.IMG_20140914_194536

    This rocketship did not dispense any fuel while I was watching.  It did have dry ice for steam, though.IMG_20140914_194601

    By the time I got to this LEGO robot, it was all blurry. IMG_20140914_195505114

    Not really sure why.


    1 They actually were working on it the night before, which may explain it.

    The Rhesus Chart, by Charles Stross September 18, 2014

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    The Rhesus Chart, by Charles Stross is another fun ride in the bewildering labyrinth that is The Laundry, a black-budget British agency for covertly defending England (and the world) from the scum of the Multiverse (that’s more capital letters than I have used in a single sentence for some years now).1

    Our hero Bob Howard has been promoted to junior management and Deputy Eater of Souls (read the previous books.  They explain it all, with footnotes), an even more frustrating exercise in demonic bureaucracy than he had thought possible, while his wife is still furious with him for roping one of their few remaining normal friends into The Laundry.  That would be fine if she wasn’t the  gun mount of choice for a particularly nasty personal weapon with a mind of its own. 

    While exercising his “free time” to look for outbreaks of demonic possession by trawling the big data in Her Majesty’s health archives, Bob stumbles across a group of people with “unusual symptoms such as super strength and speed, an uncanny talent for mind control, an extreme allergic reaction to sunlight, and an unquenchable thirst for blood.”2 Worst of all, they are bankers.3

    I recommend The Rhesus Chart, by Charles Stross as highly as possible.


    1And two sets of parentheses.

    2You, know, vampires.

    3You, know, vampires.

    Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie September 18, 2014

    Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Books, Brilliant words.
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    Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie is a wonderful examination of responsibility, revenge, justice and sense of self in a science fiction universe (arguably the safest place to talk about things political).  Ann Leckie’s use of gender pronouns (always female unless the character is obviously male) makes for a head-slapping read in one sense; the assumption that everyone in human space is female is pretty strange.  When read by Celeste Chula the ambivalence is even sharper…and it seems as if the genders of the characters only matter a little bit, probably because the main character is, um, not entirely human.

    I won’t spoil that for you.  When the protagonist is forced to act against her character, it causes her to snap and behave in a very selfish and yet selfless manner—which is our story, of course.

    I recommend Ancillary Justice very highly, and especially the audiobook version.

    As it is the winner of the Hugo, Nebula, British Science Fiction, Locus and Arthur C. Clarke Awards, I gather I am not the only one who recommends it.

    Feline Neckwear September 15, 2014

    Posted by stuffilikenet in Uncategorizable, Uncategorized.
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    Cat stole

    I showed this to my boss.  She said:

    “She’s beautiful.”

    “That’s Gray Kitty.”

    “I meant your wife.”  Pause.  “I’m telling.”

    Bathing Beauty August 11, 2014

    Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome.
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    My wife and I often stop to investigate swimming holes and waterfalls. Northern California is so dry (especially lately) that riparian zones are really the best place to catch any wildlife, including the very rare Shy Beauty:


    Known for their stunning good looks, the Shy Beauty is somehow preternaturally aware of the camera and will hide unless well obscured by camouflage clothing (above).

    Arboreal Correspondent August 11, 2014

    Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Mutants, Photography, Science.
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    Greetings from the Great North Woods (Lassen National Forest), wherein I enjoy respite from the soul-sucking drudgery that is software testing. I have hardly touched technology for days, and seem the better for it.  And, surrounded  as I am by the sounds of nature, I love life more than in many recent months.  We’re staying here:


    Miles from people, it’s a deserted campground probably used last in the sixties.  As such, the most frequent visitors are deer, who nightly come out and lick whatever is left lying around, like the tablecloth(?), the dishes from each night’s feast (on the plus side, the trays and dishes are clean as a whistle down as far as a deer’s tongue can reach) and the shower bag (?).  They aren’t much frightened by us, but mostly because we try not to startle them. They are not afraid of green lasers.

    Another nice thing about the campsite is the lack of visitors means flora are largely undisturbed.  A mushroom growing from a tree stump can reach its full size (except where licked by deer):


    That’s a Men’s size 11 mushroom, friends.  Has a smaller companion, too:


    I really should start carrying a ruler for comparisons like this.

    The sunsets have been spectacular too, since the fire got so big:


    Our camp is by a stream emanating from a spring couple of hundred yards up the hill.  Here is our view at night:


    I’m sure the lights are just fae visiting.

    Lassen is on Fire August 5, 2014

    Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Photography, Uncategorizable.
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    I have no video (you couldn’t make it out from Lake Wilson), but this is a photo of a 30,000 acre forest fire in the vicinity of Mount Lassen.


    Damn.  For a little while, the missus and I thought Lassen had erupted.

    Knitted Hellboy August 5, 2014

    Posted by stuffilikenet in Mutants, Video.
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    (Beautiful Knitted Characters nbsp by a UK Mom

    One of the most interestingly filmed excesses of Guillermo Del Toro’s career is Hellboy, featuring Ron Perlman typecast as demonspawn.  He looks something like the fuzzy knit apparition above.



    Arboretum Database is On Line!!! July 28, 2014

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    When I asked the curators about the locations and inventory of plants at the SF Arboretum I was shown a prototype database.  This was maybe eight years ago. Yesterday* (one of the most beautiful days on the year here in SF) I was at the Arboretum and asked again.

    Apparently the database has been on line for YEARS, linking the Family, Genus, Species and Bed number.  The search page allows you to search by Common Name (Examples: Lily, Passion Flower, Bottlebrush, or Poppy), Scientific Name (Examples: Magnolia campbellii, Quercus, Brugmansia, or Bomarea caldasii), Scientific Family Name (Examples: Asteraceae, Poaceae, Rosaceae, or Fab*), Collection, Bed Number (Examples: 5A, 11B, 29B, 42C, or 74–they provide a link to the BED MAP, which you will need), Accession Number (Examples: 1987-0580, 1984-0276, XY-0578, or 2010) and  Flowering Time.

    Happy hunting.

    *I should tell you that the pictures I usually would take never happened because I was so entranced I didn’t want to break the spell.  Seriously, it was so beautiful it took my breath away.  Go now and be enchanted.

    Great. Now I Want an Armadillo July 22, 2014

    Posted by stuffilikenet in Hello Kitty, Toys.
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    An Outpost of Progress July 20, 2014

    Posted by stuffilikenet in Mutants, Uncategorizable.
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    faux NASA truck

    Found this little gem in Podunk, California (nowhere near Hat Creek Radio Observatory).  Not sure who the owner is, or why this homage to space exploration is here, but it surprised the heck out of me.

    Almost as much as this:


    Chicken coupe?

    Pacific Crest Trail Hikers July 20, 2014

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    This is Gretchen and Stephen, two of several hikers we met (Viola, Mike, the ukulele player whose name I have forgotten[Ryan!! I remembered!] over the Fourth.  We gave them water and cherries and a shady place for breakfast.  Ryan gave us a short concert:

    These guys were hiking for the five days of the weekend…Gretchen is halfway through hiking THE WHOLE DAMN THING.

    The Rewards of Heroism July 20, 2014

    Posted by stuffilikenet in Mutants, Uncategorizable.
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    My cow-orkers (hyphenation intentional) and I put in some long hours on a project recently, and our boss gave us each a pair of socks as a thank you, salary increases being outside of her authority.


    They are fetching, I grant you, but somehow not quite the reward one might have anticipated.

    Serendipity July 20, 2014

    Posted by stuffilikenet in Hello Kitty, Mutants, Toys.
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    I was looking for a phone charger at Fry’s and found these:


    And this:


    Fry’s seems to be a one-stop shop for my peculiar interests.


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