June 2008
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Atheists can pray too

Two weeks ago, a good friend of mine asked me a hypothetical question:

I have a daughter with leukemia; The doctors say she might not pull through. Will you pray for her?

Well, as an atheist this puts me in a difficult position. I have several options available, none of which are particularly […]

OCW does GEB

From Reasonable Deviations: MIT has done a course titled Gödel, Escher, Bach: A Mental Space Odyssey. Video lectures are available through OCW.

Thinking about Thinking

So far, in my reading of Minsky’s Society of Mind, his hypothesis, that the mind is an agglomeration of specialized agents working in conjunction with each other completely meshes with observations of my own behavior. In particular, I’ve noticed that when I get stuck thinking about a problem, I’ll endlessly repeat, in my head, the […]

Undusting History

During my packing for a move to UCI, I’ve come across the following items (all covered in dust):

A newspaper clipping titled The Surreal Life, about Mark Chorvinsky and his magazine, Strange. April 1987 issue of Computer magazine, with feature article No Silver Bullet by Fred Brooks about ‘avoiding the horrors in the Software Engineering […]

Audience Question at Conferences

I’ve been watching the videos of last year’s Singularity Summit and noticed that, along with all other conferences I’ve watched, questions from the audience are completely inaudible to the sound recorder. There is a very simple solution that I haven’t seen anyone using: The parabolic dish and microphone set that makes such great spy equipment. […]

Some Wisdom from Minsky

I was briefly reading Minsky’s Society of Mind and found these passages memorable.

The secret of what anything means to us depends on how we’ve connected it to all the other things we know. That’s why it’s almost always wrong to seek “the real meaning” of anything. A thing with just one meaning has […]

More Accurate Speedometer

I’ve been sitting on this idea for at least a year, and I’m not really sure why I haven’t blogged about it yet. It turns out that car speedometers are not very accurate. In fact, they can be on the order of 10% wrong, with the error more prominent at higher speeds. Typically they work […]

Markov Coincidence

I was chatting with one of my friends recently. He was telling me about a Markov chain program (I think 5th order) that he had just finished. This gave me an interesting idea. Suppose that you were to measure the connectedness of the English Language as a Markov process. As you increased the order of […]

The GNU’s Thumb

Alright, So I’ve been thinking about keeping my home directory in git recently. I have a machine that I can dedicate to storing a ‘master copy’ and I’ve no problem with creating scripts and minor utils to help things along. I haven’t done it yet, but things have gotten to the point where I can’t […]

Hardware Failure

Hardware fails from time to time. And, unlike software, it can’t be fixed by typing or scriptic incantation. One of the harddrives in my primary computer failed. Fortunately, I set up that machine with 2 500GB drives as a mirrored RAID. So, while replacing one of the drives is quite a hassle, nothing seems to […]