Thursday, May 8, 2014

#3870 Cromulence

Two questions, closely related:

Is it cromulent to apologize for not knowing something; and

Is that a correct use of "cromulent"?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Mom said something which–to her–seemed completely innocuous to me when I came downstairs just now. She said, "You can bring whatever you're doing downstairs and just do it down here." Which really just shows kinda the misunderstanding going on.

As a general idea, that's a fine idea. But "what I was doing" was inextricably tied to the computer. A lot of what I do is, for better or for worse. And since the computer I use currently is a fixed-location type, that means I couldn't bring it down. Which I'm not terribly fond of either, I'd prefer more-mobile access, but it is what it is.

Which brings me in a roundabout way to paper, I guess. Paper's good as an artifact for consumption, as reading fiction (but not certain kinds of scholarly/intellectual-type work); and for certain kinds of reference; and at least some kinds of note-taking— I rather like editing with pen on paper, honestly. Not saying that it's efficient, but that's how things are. But paper's crummy for arguing, a halfway-decent internet discussion thread is much better, so long as the people involved aren't dicks— and if they are, the chance of a decent argument is right out no matter what. And paper's terrible for storage, as my recent experience with using both version-control and paper on the same writing project has shown me. Dear god is that a nightmare-in-waiting.

Now where did my point meander off to OH YE— no, wait, false alarm, I don't actually remember. Drat. Well, I guess this is just a drivel anyways. I dunno.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Review: Frozen

I just watched Frozen the other night, and AAAHH!

Oh--I should get this out of the way early. I make no pretense of avoiding spoilers in my reviews.

Okay, the movie was merely okay. Maybe a six? (This brings to mind that I don't have a baseline for movies reviews. I'll have to fix that.) Not quite as good as I remember Tangled being, but I saw Tangled a while ago. Although it's possible I missed some early context that would have let me appreciate it more. But the music, gah, WEEEEEE!

Is Disney getting better at doing musicals, or am I at a temporal disadvantage of some sort for appreciating their older stuff--don't have context to appreciate it because I'm to young or like that? Or have I simply never heard it? Tangled and Frozen both had really good music.

But this is about Frozen, not Tangled.

Okay, first off, no villians. What? It's a Disney Musical with no villians. How weird is that? I guess there's a guy who's kind of a villian, but he's second-string stuff and more of a self-centered jerk than a real villian. (Although he acts really well, at least in-universe.)

Incidentally, kids: there's a moral about 'true love' and 'love at first sight' here. Pay attention to it.

For once, Disney has made a movie that approaches this 'true love' thing somewhat realistically. And I think they managed to double-subvert their romantic-movie conventions while they were at it.

Oh, Elsa's was the frozen heart healed by the act of true love, not Anna's. Just sayin'.

Final Verdict: A solid 6/10 for the movie itself--that was nothing much special, except maybe for Disney--but brought a 8/10 by the soundtrack. Though honestly, if you get the soundtrack, I recommend getting the movie; you should see them in context. I think the soundtrack is lurking at an above-nine "copy please" currently.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Review: Neil Gamian's Fortunately, the Milk

Neil Gamian's Fortunately, the Milk is a wonderfully preposterous bit of exquisite nonsense. Well. I say nonsense. Once you accept the time-traveling stegosaurus, and the goopy green space aliens, everything else makes perfect sense. (Well, except the piranhas.)

The father, the main character of the story, gets interrupted on the way back home with some milk—all-important for breakfast cereal and tea, you see—and in the course of his adventures ends up saving the world almost, but not quite, entirely by accident. Along the way he meets pirates, dinosaurs, aliens, space police, wumpires, and one Angry Volcano God. (But no piranhas.) He meets them all out of order, of course, and timey shenanigans are used multiple times to save the day. Twice, at the very least. (Hey, that's high for (what's nominally) a children's book.)

The book is illustrated in a Seuss-like manner. Well—. The illustrations don't look at all like Seuss's work, but otherwise they've got the same kind of absurdity look to them. Unfortunately, as I'm writing this review from memory, I don't have the name of the illustrator at hand.

Final Verdict: 8/10. Well worth reading, but may not be worth buying if you don't have kids who'd enjoy it. I liked it, but I don't expect I'll be buying a copy. I've been very spoiled by fanfic. (Mind you, I probably 'should' buy a copy, to support the existence of such books. But....)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Appendix π, "Monster Manual"

A fruminous creature, with incredibly strong arms and a long, downright extensible neck.
Fruminous Bandersnatch
Much like a Bandersnatch, except fruminous.
Mad giants from the edge of unknown space. Half-dragon, half-octopus, and half-humanoid.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

OpenId's big problem

If you really look at the comment box at the bottom of any of my posts, you'll find a whole bunch of ways to say "I'm a human". One of these is OpenID. I like OpenID, and its cousin OAuth, on general principle. People shouldn't have to be hooked up to some suspect overlord like facebook or google to participate, you know?

(On consideration, my "reasons" for not allowing "anonymous" comments may be suspect. Maybe I should allow that. But that's not related to my point.)

Jeff Atwood of Coding Horror made a recent post about "install our apps" pop-ups. You know the kind:

One of the points he makes is that with so many apps, apps kinda need to be free. Otherwise, they're overpriced. But that brings us to this old privacy-freak adage:

When apps are free, you are the product.

OpenID and OAuth are intended to help solve this problem. And that, in a fit of paradoxical irony, is their problem. The very thing they're supposed to do, is the very thing the people who'd have to adopt it don't want.

Without huge, hyper-driven use demand, they're doomed.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Faulty Thinking: "some things man was not meant to know"

Breakpoint, who I respect in general, just aired a radio article on transhumanism. And their concerns are good, and need to be considered. That doesn't mean they didn't commit a thinking error.

The main point of the article was that knowledge can be used evily, and some forms of knowledge can be put to greater evils than others. With which I agree. It then claims that such areas shouldn't be researched at all. Here they went wrong.

The trouble is that any piece of knowledge that can be discovered, can be rediscovered. History supports this claim just as much as it does theirs, if not more. What matters is when it's discovered, and by who.

(There's a handy example of this in cryptography, the study of secret communication. A group of people working for the british government invented the form of encription now used for internet banking, -- before powerful computers existed. The british government kept it hush, because they didn't have a way to break it. Later, some american academics came up with the same system, without knowing anything about the british version.)

If you'll forgive my archtypes, I'm going to go with a supervillian analogy. Say a supervillain is doing genetic research. He discovers a way to trigger a latent genetic defect in the majority of humanity--a virus that causes cancer, maybe. He can then release it, or threaten to releas it, on major cities or even the whole planet.

But if a good guy scientist has been researching as well, and discovers the trigger first, she and others can research and find an antidote or a vaccine. Then, by the time the supervillain is ready to unleash his disaster virus, maybe it won't work anymore. Certainly it won't be as bad. Now imagine if the scientists hadn't been working on the antidote.

I won't argue with the should-ness of their claim. But as the line being crossed sooner or later is inevitable, it's far better to look in hope for Prometheus than to wait in fear for Pandora.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Jazz hands?

I recall hearing somewhere (at least, I'm pretty sure I heard it from someone in-person, as opposed to reading it) about a guy whos name had an asterisk in it. The decided-on pronounceation was to say the first part, pause and do "jazz hands", and say the second part. Who'd I hear that from, and what was the name?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Stuff I've read this week

Maps in a Mirror (center): 675 pages. Read cover to cover in eight days. I think there may be something wrong with strange about me. Contains a whole mess of Orson Scott Card fiction, and bits of him commenting on it. Quality is all over the map, because this spans his entire career at least up until publication. (But does not cover his entire career. It's only a collection.) I could probably comment on individual stories, if asked.

Epic (left): 364 pages. Read in a day or two, but certainly under 48 hours. Took a break from Maps in a Mirror to read this. Set on a distant planet where economic life and a large fraction of the economy are based around a video game. YA, but there are strong undercurrents of moral and economic philosophy.

The art of Thinking Clearly (right, open): around halfway through, I've read something like 150-160 pages. A collection of short essays (generally 3-5 pages) on thinking errors. Each prevents the error in a colloquial way, some evidence and/or arguments for it, and usually some clues for how to avoid it. I'm not sure how useful it is. It's generally not perscriptivist, but I don't know whether that's a good thing. Though it probably is.

Not mentioned: the large amount of internet reading and downloaded computer-only reading I did this week. Nor the chunks of magazines I read.

Also not mentioned: The first three episodes of season one of Star Trek: Voyager I watched, the first three episodes of BBC's latest Sherlock I watched, or the episode or two of Star Trek: TNG I watched. I'm pretty sure I watched a bit of TNG, anyways. I liked Voyager better, so that's what I stuck with.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Efficiency and Creativity

I was thinkin' about science fiction and technological explosions. A scifi writer and utopian once said something about how "machines will eventually take over so much of what we currently do with manual labor, humanity will be in a state of enforced leisure. What an envied thing it will be to work!" (That's not even close to an exact quote.)

Humans are, of course, really inefficient at a lot of things.

How does one measure efficiency of creativity?


All I really want is to save everything I ever see in my browser to disk somewhere so I can see it again as I first saw it if I want to, no matter what happens to the originating site or original file in the interim. If we conveniently ignore disk-space and copyright/'intellectual property' issues, is that really too much to ask?

Apparently, yes. It seems it really is.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Social time:

Alright, social time:

Why would one want to use I'm sure there are reasons, I just don't know what they are.

But I'd like to. I've got a account, but no real idea why. I think I use it as a "junk I've listened to" list, currently; but I don't think that's a 'good' use of it/ think that's under-using it.