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Jan. 25th, 2011

condylarth

vi hart

You know that moment when the connections all join up and you realize your world is much, much smaller than you thought it was? Yeah, that.

Dec. 13th, 2010

condylarth

528

the gates are shut
the doors are locked
as if to contain the glow
of the lights that dare to challenge the night
that has fallen
outside

the night
of a thousand cries
of a thousand dreams
of a thousand moments
dissolving like snow on the sidewalk
that falls in the night
when there are none
to witness it

the gates are shut
the doors are locked
as if to reject the cold
of the wind and the damp of the rain
that has fallen
outside

what do they seek?
who do they follow?
these mortals
(not angels, not demons)
lost in their own worlds
holed up against
the wind, the rain
preparing
for the dawn
what do they seek?
what will they find?
where will they look
when they lose their way?

the night
of a thousand cries
of a thousand dreams
of a thousand moments
dissolving like snow on the sidewalk
that falls in the night
when there are none
to witness it

Dec. 10th, 2010

condylarth

o_O

Bitten by a radioactive radioactivity, The Reifier uses his ability to turn abstract concepts real to... fight crime!

Crime: ...ow.

Once again, The Reifier has defended truth, justice, and the American way!

Truth: Uh huh.
Justice: I never asked for your help.
The American Way: Are we done yet?

Oct. 17th, 2010

condylarth

Harry Potter and the Markov Chains of Rationality

Please turn to page 6. That is a Dementor. standing in front of an oak door with a tinge of danger.Collapse )

Oct. 6th, 2010

calvin

October Morning

The world is amazing.

The world is amazing, and oh so fragile.

To think that the slightest change, the shifting of an atom, whether floating in an accretion disk or sitting in the axon of a synapse, in the past billions and billions of years, would have changed the whole of this world. All the things I know and love, that inspire me, that I hold dear, the technology and the people and the art -- Aquaria and xkcd and Stars -- would never have existed. Something else would, no doubt, perhaps something better. But can separate universes really be compared?

Time does not discriminate. History does not self-correct. It is feedback loops and homeostatic systems that try to self-correct, but only on the highest level. History is chaotic, and society is metastable.

Sitting here in the cool light of an early fall morning, I don't understand how anyone can complain that our digital world is too distracted. I catch up on the shared thoughts and hopes and dreams of my friends, written while I was asleep. I read through a New York Times article, and I contemplate the empty white rectangle of a new LiveJournal entry. This is a lull. This is as close to meditation as I have ever come. This would be, I dare to say, as perfect a time for thought as anyone ever had, did I not have somewhere to be in twenty minutes. Perhaps that is the problem; I've certainly seen it argued. But I don't think it is, at least not for me. Feelings and words flow into the keyboard; I take a deep breath and let it out slowly.

Look elsewhere from this angle. Technology is fragile. Well-written code tries to self-correct, but only on the highest level. Environments are chaotic, and programs are metastable. They fall easily into the minimum of complete failure. When we're still finding bugs in libc, what hope is there of applications that are complex, complete, and correct? The AI revolution, the singularity, the overthrow of humanity, whatever you wish to call it, will not occur until a paradigm shift has occurred somewhere. Software development as it currently stands is passable but unsustainable, and it will not lead to the golden future we envisioned.

That said, I have hope. What I've said so far is remarkably self-centered, and becomes increasingly less applicable, increasingly less relevant, the farther you get from my privileged bubble of existence. I have no right to preach about society and singularity to those who are starving in the streets and slaving in the fields. I have no right, but I have hope, that one day technology will become what it was always meant to be, what we always wanted it to be. That it will provide aid, and companionship, and let all of us explore the universe and ourselves, without worry to lesser needs.

My dream is to help bring about that day. Because I believe that that destination, and every step of the journey there, will be better than everything that came before.

Sep. 23rd, 2010

calvin

spectra

All of our digital media is designed for the limitations and idiosyncrasies of human physiology. The only reason images and sound can be stored at all reasonably is because we can't distinguish large chunks of the frequency space. We're going to be so screwed when we finally meet aliens.

Jun. 9th, 2010

perl

Magic

The theme of the hour (day? decade?) is Clarke's Third Law.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

The difference, or lack thereof, can be seen in three seemingly unrelated topics.

A Time article from last December hypothesizes that the appeal of steampunk lies in its harkening back to an age where technology was actually recognizable as technology, composed of levers and gauges and gears that you could see working. Consider a modern-day computer, or phone. You push some buttons, and something appears on the screen. Unless you're an electrical engineer or programmer, you're likely to have no idea how that happens. It's technology become magic.

In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, our protagonist seeks to apply the scientific method to the study of magic, a thing which apparently no one has thought to do before. His underlying premise, then, is that magic is not just magic, that it can be, if not technological (that is, something we can rework to our own purposes), then at least scientific (something we can understand though not mess with).

The fundamental paradigm difference between (say) Apple and (say) open source is that between magic and technology. Magic is self-contained, atomic; it works or it doesn't, and if your bats don't glow there's nothing you can do about it. On the other hand, technology can be taken apart and studied, tinkered with, adapted for one's own ends. Apple designs magic products that Just Work, at least in theory. Linux is more messy; it exposes its innards. It's the steampunk model.

As things grow, they turn from simple to complex, from modular to interconnected. And then suddenly no one has any idea how they work. It's very hard to go the other way, to turn magic into technology.


(P.S. graceful_dave's FLMPotDs are somewhat easier than ultrawaffle's.)

May. 28th, 2010

condylarth

courtesy of Josh

Pokémon Exception Handling: Gotta catch 'em all.

Yoda Exception Handling: There is no try.

Feb. 24th, 2010

perl

math

Uhh...

Dec. 3rd, 2009

condylarth

what

Search Wikipedia for Wikipedia.

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condylarth

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