Monday, March 26, 2007

The Trap

"These are not journalists..."

"These are not journalists who want to uncover government corruption or act in an adversarial capacity to check government power. Rather, these are members of the royal court who are grateful to the King and his minions for granting them their status. What they want more than anything is to protect and preserve the system that has so rewarded them -- with status and money and fame and access and comfort. They're the ludicrous clowns who entertain the public by belittling any facts which demonstrate pervasive corruption and deceit at the highest levels of our government, and who completely degrade the public discourse with their petty, pompous, shallow, vapid chatter that transforms every important political matter into a stupid gossipy joke."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Battle for Wesnoth... a "minute-to-learn" style strategy game that is a great deal of fun, and free! There are versions for Windows, Linux, and Mac. Link.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Android/gynoid blueprints

Standing room only

On Sunday, I was on Long Island for a meeting, and went to Queens afterwards for Indian food. Along the way, I saw an stunningly crowded graveyard, called the Mount Zion cemetery. It has been noted by art historians that in proportion and density, these gravestones resemble the surrounding city.
This is not my photo. It is from Flickr. (Link.)

Saturday, March 17, 2007


"Total US wheat production has dropped from 58.74 million metric tons in 2004 to a projected 49.32 in March of 2007. That's a drop of 16%. Over the same period (2004 to Match 2007's yearly projection) all European countries have decreased wheat production as well. Australia -- which has been hit by a drought -- has seen production drop from 22.60 to 10.5 million metric tons. Overall world production has dropped from 628.59 million metric tons in 2004 to 593.11 million metric tons -- a decrease of 5.62%."

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Dreams That Money Can Buy

"Here's something you on which you can really pride yourself. You've discovered you can look inside yourself. You know what that means? You're promoted. You're no longer a bum. You're an artist."This 1947 film by Hans Richter, who is most famous for "Ghosts Before Breakfast" (link), is available from Google Video in its entirety (link). The film is a collection of segments made in collaboration with the following artists: Max Ernst, Fernand Leger, Marcel Duchamp and Alexander Calder.

Mind mapping software

In my free time over the past week, I've been scouring the web and Linux repositories for a program that can draw concept maps and mind maps quickly and clearly. Both structures are radial, hierarchical lists, the difference is that a mind map radiates from one center, whereas a concept map includes multiple core concepts. This makes mind mapping more suitable for brainstorming, while concept mapping can better represent inter-relationships. I found three very different freeware programs that are suited to this task: Dia, Mindraider, and Freemind. All three are cross-platform (and free, ed.).

Dia is a general flow charting program and probably gives the most flexibility of the three programs. Unfortunately, it lacks the speed of input that brainstorming requires. Dia come with a package for making UML (Unified Modeling Language) figures; a software engineering process diagramming standard. A cursory look shows that no one has converted the great works of literature and philosophy into UML, which is an unmet need if we expect our robots to be at all educated.

Mindraider utilizes a super-cool visualization that you'll be familiar with if you've ever visited the Visual Thesaurus. It presents your map in two ways simultaneously, as a list and a tree, with a third pane open for metadata (exposition on a particular item, as well as web URLs and links to local resources). Mindraider integrates with Gnowsis, which is part of a class of programs that describe themselves as semantic desktops. The idea is to map the user's files into a flowchart along with things that might not be properly represented in the file system, such as projects, contacts and locales. I'm suspicious of the usefulness of this, because if you have two organizational structures for your file system, you'll get a lot of cross-talk and will probably end up with neither system being organized. Still, programs like DeepaMehta look snazzy, even if they don't end up being more than well designed widgets.

Freemind recently updated to its beta version nine, adding some very useful functions. It is the only program of the three that includes an embedded scheduler, which is useful when mapping projects and task dependencies. It includes includes image support, unlike Mindaider, and collapsible nodes and fast input, unlike Dia. Freemind can also export its mind maps to web pages via an embedded java engine. There are two similar programs for the Gnome-desktop: KDissert and VYM (View Your Mind) that are certainly well-made, but not as feature-rich.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Interviews from the Edge...

Some of my favorite science fiction literature comes in the form of conspiracy lore I've stumbled across while browsing the InterWeb(TM) during the last decade or so. Here are a few of my top-picks: An interview with a guy who was a security guard at a secret underground alien lab in which, despite our best efforts, UFO aliens are doing everything in their power to act like barbaric space-Nazis. Another interview, this time with Lacerta, a subterranean dwelling lizard woman who has a thing or two to say about how stupid humans are. Also, don't pass up the thrilling story of John Titor: Libertarian Time Explorer...

...and always remember:

There is no fraternizing with the aliens off hours."