The Longest Now


Wikipedia gets visual editor in time for Christmas
Wednesday December 12th 2012, 11:35 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,fly-by-wire,Glory, glory, glory,Seraphic,wikipedia


One small step for an editor


Huge props to the team working on this and the underlying parsoid. It’s still in Alpha, so it’s only on the English Wikipedia this week. And you have to turn it on via user prefs; and it wants good feedback, but it makes the old heart-cockles sing.



Chinese Internet discovered to be full of memes: Top 10 Edition
Sunday December 09th 2012, 3:57 am
Filed under: %a la mod,chain-gang,Glory, glory, glory,international,meta,zyzzlvaria

via Global Voices, the Top 10 Chinese Internet Memes of 2012.



The White House supports Open Source, sharing Drupal modules it designed
Wednesday December 05th 2012, 1:17 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,international,popular demand

On the power and community of open source, from the WH Blog.

This isn’t written to publish their Drupal code, which they’ve been doing for some time and will continue to do (though they do announce creation of their own space within the Drupal community), it’s primarily about how and when open source is awesome and why it is the way to go for many practices. A great message to send; a small step towards more open tools for society.



That art makes me feel … uncomfortable.
Monday December 03rd 2012, 9:00 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,citation needed,Rogue content editor

Crash course in false equivalence.



The Six Symptoms of Pathological Science, by Irving Langmuir
Tuesday November 13th 2012, 8:43 am
Filed under: %a la mod,gustatory,metrics,poetic justice,wikipedia

This overview of pattern-creation in the guise of science and its mob effect on whole fields must be read and relished.

The Six Symptoms of Pathological Science:

  • The maximum effect observed is produced by an agent of barely detectable intensity.  The magnitude of the effect is largely independent of the intensity of the cause.
  • The effect is of a magnitude close to the limit of detectability, or many measurements are necessary because of low statistical significance of individual results.
  • There are claims of great, even extraordinary, accuracy
  • Fantastic theories contrary to experience are suggested (with enthusiasm)
  • Criticisms are met by ad hoc excuses thought up on the spur of the moment  (this may be contagious)
  • The ratio of supporters to critics rises to somewhere near 50%, then falls gradually to zero.

Also, note that the “Allison effect” and mechanism is the most amazing example given, and may show something different than standard pathological science: it was considered good science for over a decade, and by hundreds of practitioners.

From a talk famously given by Langmuir (1932 Chemistry N’Laureate) in 1953, transcribed by Robert Hall, illustrated by Physics Today, republished and promoted by professors and authors.



George Washington’s political farewell address: such timely advice!
Thursday November 08th 2012, 10:51 am
Filed under: %a la mod,meta,poetic justice,popular demand

The original, and updated to modern lingo.



Trap her, keep her —
Wednesday October 17th 2012, 4:19 am
Filed under: %a la mod,indescribable,Uncategorized

via Mitt Romney.



If You Are Afraid (of something), Eat One Of It. Listen:
Thursday October 11th 2012, 10:18 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,Rogue content editor

JUST DO IT.




XOXO Rocked! Honoring togetherness as it transforms the world
Monday September 17th 2012, 3:49 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,Blogroll,chain-gang,Glory, glory, glory,popular demand
This sounded amazing when the idea was floated months ago.  And by all accounts that sound catalyzed all who felt similarly to come make the sort of ambiently generative meeting that every physical gathering aspires to be.  A few recaps:


Libby Bulloff: art, photographs and cabaret exoskeleta
Sunday September 16th 2012, 2:00 am
Filed under: %a la mod,poetic justice,Uncategorized

Two of my favorites from her portfolio:

For more, see the Exoskeleton Cabaret.



Hawking on the Higgs: It’s a pity in a way… I just lost $100.
Wednesday July 04th 2012, 2:11 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,Blogroll

Responding to the announced discovery of the Higgs particle, superhero physicist Stephen Hawking said in a BBC interview:

“The results at Fermilab in america, and CERN in switzerland,
strongly suggest we have found the Higgs particle,
the particle that gives mass to other particles.

If the decay and other interactions of this particle are as we expect,
it will be strong evidence for the so-called Standard Model of
particle physics, the theory that explains all our experiments so far.
This is an important result, and should earn Peter Higgs a Nobel Prize.

But it is a – a pity in a way, because the greatest advances in physics
have come from experiments that gave results we didn’t expect.
For this reason, I had a bet with Gordon Kane at Michigan University
that the Higgs particle wouldn’t be found.
it seems I have just lost $100.”



Higgs boson confirmed! World’s media mass At CERN in celebration.

Today CERN and FERMILAB announced 5σ confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson [1], inspiring a burst of heady live coverage from the Guardian. (CERN had leaked a video about the discovery the day before, so everyone knew what was coming, and turned up for today’s Higgs seminar. All of the scientists who had worked on early versions of the theory that pointed towards such a boson also flew in the the seminar, which continues tomorrow.)

CERN has posted and archived beautiful 360-degree photos of the day, a video of the press conference (rather dull), and will soon post a recording of the day’s seminar (which was live-streamed and amazing; come back for it tomorrow).

The media as usual tries valiantly to explain things in a down-to-earth way that is both simplistic and true, but is generally failing. As with a few other recent scientific breakthroughs, I am grateful that Wikipedia offers solid explanations of the topics at hand, and through the magic of hyperlinks (which news agencies are still struggling with 🙂 allows exploration of the topics in as much depth as you like.

Related reading: supersymmetry, scalar field theory, htlhcdtwy.

[1] Note the careful, conservative trend in particle physics: the labs making the discovery are all quick to say they’ve discovered the existence of at least one new particle, which matches the profile of the Higgs boson; it could be one or more of its sibling bosons that have been discovered – supersymmetry suggests there could be 5 of them.



General knowledge is social infrastructure, not commodity
Monday June 25th 2012, 10:54 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,chain-gang,international,meta,Uncategorized,wikipedia

For ages, learning was assumed to be social, interactive, oral. Written knowledge, where available and somewhat portable, was a specialized complement that few scholars, recordkeepers, explorers and other specialists used or needed.

As long as you needed a tutor or guide to learn, whether or not good static (lifeless) written material was available was a lesser concern.

In the last three millennia, it gradually became cheaper to produce text, commonplace for scholars to learn to write concisely and convey ideas so that others could learn them on their own. In every field, books eventually replaced ritual and oral record as the standard for precipitating knowledge into a lasting, canonical form, and passing it on. This was driven forward by personal memorials and finance and law – pillars of clan- and city-building.

Certain forms of knowledge were considered a shared good of society – from how to find resources to social and practical norms. And some were actively disseminated as necessary, such as legal and religious dictates. Other knowledge was something that could be sought out, or bought and sold. During the time when knowledge about the world was a scarce resource, yet easy enough to write down and transmit, even basic information about the shape of the planet was bartered and sold like any other good.

Today we both have bounteous knowledge, and pressing problems that better global education can address. The opportunities that could result from a more broadly educated world society are far greater than the short-term opportunities of a commodity market for practical texts.

And we will get more thorough, more accurate, and better texts of all sorts – once we think of general knowledge as a part of culture and civic infrastructure, not as something that can be owned and hoarded. We made this transition with scientific discoveries centuries ago, with mathematics before that, and today we reap tremendous benefits from that. It is time for all knowledge to join their ranks as a cornerstone of our civilization.

How can we help this come about? Take a piece of awesome, inspiring, practical knowledge that you currently buy or rent as a commodity, and make a free version of it. Publish it to a shared commons that makes it easy to maintain and update over time. Tell others who get it from the same source you did. Stop using general knowledge that you can’t repurpose, and your use of the alternative will make it the best in the world in its niche.



Ken Liu gets his due: The Paper Menagerie snags a Nebula!
Sunday May 20th 2012, 3:53 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,Glory, glory, glory,poetic justice,popular demand

Congratulations to my friend Ken Liu, phosphorescent fiction shaper whose story “The Paper Menagerie” won a Nebula Award for Best Short Story last night! Next stop: the Hugos (chosen by the Chicon 7 attendees :)).



G8 Crisis Snapshot
Sunday May 20th 2012, 3:40 am
Filed under: %a la mod,international,popular demand

Can you tell what these vaunted leaders were watching?
(Hint: You should be able to guess down to the second).



Tracking local news: a case study
Saturday May 12th 2012, 9:46 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,fly-by-wire,null

I passed a burning Bolt Bus this morning. I wanted to learn more about it, so I trolled some local news sites.
Then some hyperlocal news sites.
Then The Internetz, via various search engines.

Nothing.

Twitter? Came through after a fashion: people passing it, like me, on the NJ Turnpike. Some had cameras to match their rubber necks. (HT to LilianeHaub)

Someone also tweeted from another Bolt Bus that whose driver commented on the fire to them.
But no word from people on the bus, or involved with the event; and no actual coverage.

It’s locally newsworthy;
Are there any alternatives to find out more?
Alternatives that focus on certain subgenres?

If you really can’t find any information online, writing down your own interest and what information you’ve gathered is a poor second option. That at least gives others interested in the same topic a place to talk about it.



Calmly facing death: Sendak v. Colbert, Act 3 – a sweet post-mortem
Wednesday May 09th 2012, 10:18 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,Glory, glory, glory,Uncategorized

R.I.P. Maurice Sendak, brilliant children’s author and dry wit (1928–2012). He died yesterday of a stroke.

In a crossing of the stars, that May 8 was also the publication date of the satirical children’s book Stephen Colbert dreamed up for his interview with Sendak back in January.

In last night’s show, Colbert included more of the interview, to honor Sendak’s memory.

Act 3 (15 min. in)

Colbert: Today is the release date of my beloved children's
classic, I am a Pole (And So Can You!)

It's the heartwarming coming-of-age story
of a pole searching for its place in the world.
It's the perfect gift for mother's day, father's day,
graduation day... and all other days. 

And you know it's a good book because of this blurb:
  "THE SAD THING IS, I LIKE IT" - Maurice Sendak.

Well, the real sad thing is Mr. Sendak died this morning,
at age 83.  I had the pleasure of interviewing him
earlier this year, and tonight we'd like to show you
just a few more things that Maurice had to say.

===============================

Colbert: Mr Sendak, thanks for sitting down with me today.
This is a, this is a real honor.
 Sendak:  No shit!
Colbert: No, I'm not shitting you.  I mean it.

Now what's your favorite of your own books?
  I really wished you'd ask that question.
Well I'm glad I did then.
  I think the best is two books I've done.
  I can have two favorites.
All right.
  One is called 'outside over there'
Terrifying.
  It is my attempt to do a Mozartian book,
  to take elements --

It's terrifying!  these goblins that make
ice babies... and replace a child with it!
  Yes... what can I say.  those were all --
  I was really deeply in love with romantic art
  of the beginning of the 18th century,
  middle of the 18th century.
  Mozart was dead, and this beautiful /thing/
  came out of his generation
  and Mozart of course being the best quality,
  the best artist, the best everything that ever --

Mozart is the highest quality.
He's like the Donald Trump of classical music.
Only the finest...
  I'm gonna have to... I'm gonna have to kill you.
  I'm gonna have to kill you! 

Donald is quality.  You've seen,
Everything he does is gold plated. That's quality.
  Yes, yes, he's just like Donald Trump.
Everything is primo. Primo.
  You got it, you nailed him.

  The other... is called 'Higgelty Piggelty Pop!'
  It's probably the best thing I've done.
Tell me the story.
  It's about a sealyham terrier.
  My sealyham terrier.  The dog i had.
Ok.
  Her name was Jennie,
  and she appeared in all my books,
  up until the time she died.
  And higgelty piggelty pop! was the big book
  I wrote about her
  because I knew she was going to die, soon.
  She was getting old.

What happens in it?
  What happens is
  the little dog goes out into the world
  and leaves her master
  to find out, "is there more to life?"
  and the series of adventures that she has
  where she proves her total inadequacy
  to almost everything that happens to her.

  And - but she accepts that.
  and that is the truth of her life
  that she must accept her inadequacy
  and her failure to live up to expectations
  that others may have of her,
  that she surely has of her.
  And she just ends up a sweet, jerky dog
  which she is, noone ever really wanted
  anything more from her, so...

Does she return to him?

  No. She dies. She dies.
  And she leaves him a letter, saying
  "If you ever come this way, look me up.
  But I can't tell you how to get here."

  The book has had a very difficult life.  All of it.
  Considered like, "why is this a children's book?"
  Why not! What is a children's book?
  I don't have a clue!
  I'm famous for them, I write them,
  I illustrate them, but I don't know what they are
  I don't know why they're for children.

I like that your work does not sugargcoat childhood.
  Right
You bring the pain.  You keep it real.
  But some people think that is not
  appropriate for children -
  To suffer pain, read about it, think about it,
  feel about it.  Yet that's all they do.

Every moment of childhood is a sense of uncertainty
  Yes.  I think childhood is a period of great torment.
  We learn all these things about what is, what isn't
  what you can do, what you cannot do.
  It's hard.  It is very hard.

What's the best thig a parent can do for a child?
  Love him, her.
But what's that mean?
  Take them for what they are.

===============================

Saying thank you with pancakes:




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