Archive for December, 2005

F-word abuse: on giving a fuck, getting a fuck, and fucked-up progeny

It’s neat how there are a million little coincidences in life…a slice of (pi)zza at Wild Oats comes out to $3.14 after tax, the price of a phone card at the Radio Shack by my house matches the last 4 digits of my phone number, my morning ‘routine’ (the shaving and showering and so on) always takes 37 minutes, the most random number (if humans are involved). When I see one, like the eerie meshing of a specific line in a song on the radio just as I’m driving past a particular place, it kind of catches my attention for a minute, even though I know there’s no actual meaning behind it. Not a man in the sky amusing [hH]imself or leaving us subtle hints at how to direct our lives, nor a by-product of a universe consisting of many clever redundancies making it compressible enough to reduce to an infintesimally small space (or left over from expansion therefrom). Just stuff that happens.

Last weekend, some reproduction-related themes kept coming up (between a long talk with an old flame, a surprisingly well-thought-out Genghis Khan Genetic Fitness Test meme, and a discussion at J.R.’s place encompassing meaningless sex, thoughts on passing on genetic material and so on [did I actually use the phrase “mutual nonproliferation agreement” in reference to my pocket rocket? Beh, fucking nerd]) among other things, and as usual, it kind of got me thinking.

The genetic fitness meme, despite what its name might imply, measures a number of telling factors regarding one’s odds of passing on one’s genetic material to future generations. These factors include such things as how many children your immediate family members (parents and grandparents) had, but also things like religious affiliation, your opinion on condoms / birth control, how often (and in what crowd/surroundings) you get drunk or use drugs, whether you remember it the morning after, and how good a liar you are. The test gets its name from a study essentially reporting that if measured strictly by the number of descendants, Genghis Khan is the world’s greatest lover.

I never really gave it too much thought before, but statistically, the persons likely to pass on the most copies of their genes (e.g. through drunken 1-night stands, aggressive jock tendencies, rape, sleeping around, screwing for welfare reasons, or as a career path…) are those who most shouldn’t pass on their traits in a civilized society. Conversely, scientists and mathematicians usually don’t get a lot of play.

For my part, my thought is that for a variety of reasons, I don’t have any intention of passing on my DNA. Nevermind that I’m not exactly a paragon of normalcy myself, and don’t want my offspring going through the same stuff as I did, but the girl I ultimately fall in love with (and more importantly, vice versa) is likely to be pretty…unique, and that probably includes genetics. Let’s face it, most Normal People kind of annoy and/or bore the hell out of me. My kids, if I were to have them, are likely to be pretty fucked-up.

Regarding the meaningless casual sex thing…I’m kind of not a fan of it. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy sex quite a bit, in terms of the whole physical sensations part…but actually giving a damn about the person I’m with is a large part of it, too. I was talking about my upcoming Chicago trip that weekend and mentioned that an ex was wanting to meet up with me for a night of fun, and that I wasn’t sure if I actually wanted to. General consensus seemed to be “Why not? Go get ’em tiger”. I’m definitely tempted, and haven’t ruled anything out yet…wow, that girl had a motor. Maybe too much of one…she’d want it so many times in a single night that I could hardly keep up (in fact, I think the Duracell corporation barely managed). But after we went from having deep feelings for one another to being casual fuck-buddies, it just wasn’t the same…I’d almost go further and say that it didn’t really offer that much compelling advantage over anything I could do unassisted. That didn’t really last too long, maybe for that reason, besides distance and scheduling conflicts, then I moved out to the east coast, and that was kind of the end of that. Except for about this same time last year, we agreed to meet up one night. She came over, and we pretty much didn’t talk to one another. There really wasn’t much to say. She grabbed my arm and said “Okay,”, and I thought for sure the next words were going to be about how awkward it felt, or that I was creeping her out, but it ended up being “we’re going upstairs”. She led me by the hand to my old room, shagged my brains out, and went home. I guess I thought it would be more like old times, sort of. In reality, it was more kind of like jerking off, except using a pussy instead of my hand. I can jerk off at home, and not have to worry about pleasing anyone but myself*.

Meh…another latenight caffeine-induced ramble brought to you by Senseo, Coca-Cola, Sky Rocket Syrup, and DM’s espresso machine (lured in by the aroma of dark roast in exchange for a handful of lines of PHP/SQL). I should go to bed, but I’m not entirely sure what I’d do there until tomorrow morning.

* If you want good sex, date a geek who doesn’t get it very often. He will work hard to make sure his girl enjoys it, because if she does, she just might let him have sex with her again. If she doesn’t though, that’s probably the last nookie he’s going to get in a long time, and don’t think he doesn’t know it.

Company Xmas party 2005 pics

Actually on Dec. 3, but I only just now got the pictures back :-)

Clicky for pictures of my coworkers and I on the piss, including entirely too many pictures of me with my big red balls swinging around.

Featuring a great dinner, open bar, hilarious video* (to us; but with inside jokes that require much explaining to mere mortals) by our very own Manionator, and the…drumroll….Bush Job of the Year! (From the SA expression “just pulled it outta the bush (shrubs)”, i.e. jerry-rigging something with the resources at hand.) Winner was a prototype of a SMA waterborne-vehicle-buoyancy-adjuster, demonstrated on its “submarine” (a project enclosure sealed with black goop, with large nuts and bolts epoxied to the inside as ballast weight), complete with high(-ish) voltage wires sticking right into the water. Ugly, but it proved the concept. I’ve never won the much-coveted BJotY, but dammit I’m trying

* not posted here for obvious copyright reasons…and because it shows an IPF prototype failing miserably (all done by special effects, I tell ya!). If you know me in person, ask real nice and I’ll show it to you.

It was sad, it was sweet, and I knew it complete, when I wore a younger man’s clothes

Ya… it’s cold out and I don’t really wanna go outside all that much, so what am I doing? I’m re-learning VHDL* of course! Think of it as a programming language, except one where as soon as the clock starts every line executes at once, in parallel, and continues executing continuously. Or every block, etc., if you actually want something to follow some kind of a sequence. You can ‘write’ CPUs in it (many do), and actually build them. I’m not writing a CPU, just a fast memory controller / display driver at first. Kind of following my habit of having a million parallel projects all going at once, to eventually suddenly come together into one beautiful thing that will revolutionize the world. Or maybe not, but it will not only tell me if someone’s dicking around with my car, but download new mp3s to my (also in progress, but working) in-dash player every night. And let me post messages to the fridge from anywhere, and warn if the boiler’s on the blink again…

* Verbose Hardware Dork Language…(I kid, I kid)

None for me, thanks, I’ll just have a Boinkin Sheep(tm).

Guys like to bitch about it, but this one has gone the extra mile and offered mathematical proof…

Why I Will Never Have A Girlfriend

Curse our realistic but existent standards.

QOTD: “You raise a vital point. Drinking on the internet is just not the same.” -commodorevic

[meme] hey, this says I might actually reproduce…

61,690 descendants
– you’re more genetically fit than 36% of the current population –

61,690.

Not bad. You’re no Mongol warlord, but to have that many copies of your
genetic code running around 800 years from now is pretty impressive.

You’re at the lower end of the scoring spectrum, but,
honestly, when you consider that the cheaters, swindlers, and football
players of this world are statistically best-equipped to create
children, scoring low is something to be proud of. As you’ll see below,
some of your lines will die out, but nonetheless your genetic material
will thrive here on earth for a long time to come.

A close friend of mine created a program to generate family
trees for this test. It’s based on your unique answers. We accounted
for sterility, birth rates, death rates, disease, drug abuse,
nitwitism, and accidents and came up with this, for you:

Link: The Genghis Khan Genetic Fitness Test

b[ack]log // [meme]

Bulk-blogging the last few days’ of stuff due to server outage, busy-ness and general hecticity…

This is one of those annoying memes where you post the first sentence of the first entry of every month, and it’s supposed to be kind of like a mini-review of the last year of your life. Unfortunately my blog is horribly cryptic (or at least the first sentences are), so most of ’em don’t actually tell you anything…

Jan: I was here in Boston for Christmas, nothing too exciting there, but then headed home for New Years’ by way of NYC (to see VNV Nation live, what else?), where J.R. was spending the break.

Feb: I woke up this morning to the sound of some idiot bitching to some other idiot during a radio phone interview on a station selected for having the most signal strength where my alarm clock is located, with my head apparently full of the grindings of heavy grinding and with no covers left on my bed.

Mar: All right, after a site devoted to telling you your IP address sold out to the unnamed highest bidder, I figured I’d replace it… because it’s 1 line of php code, and because I can.

Apr: At work, my PM guy abruptly resigned, making me a project manager as of 4:45pm today.

May: Zzt…zzt…zzzzz… That now makes three of them. Three consecutive DVD-RW drives to die within a week of installation (Samsung, Samsung, Memorex).

Jun: test! test! *tap tap*…is this thing on? Cexxy blog and LJ. Where one rolls the other follows…

Jul: It must be the heat.

Aug: Yes, indeedy. Get thee to CVS Pharmacy, find the rack of PureDigital “one-time use” camcorders, and let the kite-cams, model-rocket-cams, rough-n-tumble helmet cams, and the hordes of poorly-composed ameteur porn movies begin!

Sep: To whom would I be billing this time?

Oct: I didn’t actually go out looking for this, honest

Nov: Will document the weekend once I’m actually home, because that might take a little while. In the meantime…

Dec: Admin: “Gentlemen, we can rebuild it. We have the technology.”

Can you actually die from laughter?

The crisis has begun. The headlines are shocking, alarming. The Internet is under attack by dangerous, wicked abusers. These cyber-criminals must be caught, stopped and punished.

STOP HACKERS NOW!

There’s a Public Service Announcement.

I especially loved this one.

Oh Noes! they live in basements?

I have a basement!!!

*runs downstairs with a pointy stick*

(Thanks BillW from the camerahackingstopping now forum for passing this around.)

Makes a great gift!

Poking thru webstats I came across a query for the phrase “axe deodorant poison” – so I got curious and searched for it myself…here was the first Google result.

Poison on sale at fragrancenet.com; free shipping on poison at strawberry…

Evil project postponed / out of my hair until further notice due to lack of funding / any possibility of having it working in time to demo. So I have slightly less to stress about, and can geek a little bit with reckless abandon :-)

And leaving for Chicago trip next weekend, schweet!

busy\

Dear bloggg,
I need to leave you for a little while. Maybe only a few days. Too much annoying stuff going on. I’ve just gotten sucked into administering (fixing, hacking, patching, cleaning out, …) the cexxy forums, and cleaning out the email, and…

workness. Seeker arm schmeeker arm, but I know a certain TMSc6713-based board that’s about to redefine “embedded system” by becoming implanted in the nearest wall I throw it at. And…

housemates. Or at least one in particular. Hasn’t figured out how to use a toilet properly, and it’s starting to cheese me off. I shouldn’t be having to have the “boys don’t pee with the seat down” talk, let alone the “Dingleberries” talk… And…

I had all these good ideas for projects, then realized I’m going to be old and dead before finding time to actually start/finish them. Irrational fascination with tri-color LED binkenlights has been part of it (think the building in Boston whose lighted spire changes colors to indicate tomorrow’s weather, and or “sox game, traffic sux”)…although my ideal Nondescript Artsy Status Light would also tell me how much unread email I have and whether the washer/dryer in my house are free. And while they’re busy querying weatherunderground daily anyway, they’d also set my alarm clock ahead 15 or 30 minutes if there’s a big snow coming, so that I don’t end up late for work when everyone else forgets how to drive :-)

One’s not even an electronics project…although another more-than-i-can-chew coding adventure is probably not a good idea until I’m no longer staring at asm/C for 8h a day and getting sick of All Things Computational.

porn sites everywhere
run in fear, then develop
deft countermeasures

Anyway, (not really) top-secret LiVE project has bubbled its way toward the top of my project stack, after finding another used-to-be-valid blog link now returning porn spam. Won’t be your average 404-checking software – my only beef is that most any possible anti-exploitative technology (spyware remover, spam filter, antivirus, LiVE) is purely defensive; it doesn’t close the loop and exert negative feedback on the would-be exploiter.

If you can’t beat ’em…you aren’t using a big enough stick…

QOTD yesterday:
(while plugging things experimentally into a dodgy power strip) *click* breaker blows, computer powers off.
“Fuck! The download!” -JR

QOTD today:
(in complete deadpan, chinese accent) “You’re right, this computer DOES hate people.” -KS

Hell.


Yesterday i had a dream about dying… about laying to rest, and then flying,
How the moment at hand is the only thing we really own.

Some time ago J.R. and I were in Fasika and got to talking about the possibility of an afterlife, and what the worst possible afterlife would be. In some Native American religions, it is living for the rest of eternity in complete sensory deprivation; in complete blackness and unable to hear or feel anything, have a new experience, ever again…just you and the memories of your own mishandled life, to replay in your mind over and over. She believes that even this would be preferable to outright ceasing to exist, which would be the worst possible alternative. I think the worst possible punishment for a bad life would be to become God. To already know everything and be forced to live forever. Perhaps this would explain a lot.

* * *

A little bit more recently (wow, I’m a bad bad blogger. or just busy) GJM and I got into a semi-involved discussion about religion, or specifically, knowing where you want to go when you die. Myself being agnostic, and he being one of the more relaxed variants of Christian. His observation was that in any succession of cultures throughout history, if uniformity of faith–faith in whatever deity or deities they happened to have faith in–were plotted against time, it would follow a sawtooth pattern–each culture begins with everyone believing more or less the same thing, and ends after a long slide of loss or diffusion of faith–all these little groups believing their own things, or nothing at all, and more often than not, fighting about it. He noted that historically, every time that scale slides too far toward religious heterogeny, that culture gets attacked and overthrown, at which point the cycle repeats with the new invader’s beliefs at the saturation point.

My observation was that conflict kind of always boils down to one of two things…resources or ideology. Either they have something and we want it, or We’re Right and They’re Wrong and we’re going to force them to see it, even if we have to go in, kill every last one of ’em and replace them with our own. My own admittedly-ill-informed guess is that the overall rate of both religious diffusion and cultural overthrow are more or less constant; all but guaranteeing this saw-wave of faith without implying causality.

Who’s right? Who knows. That’s kind of what this is about.

* * *

I was raised Catholic or Lutheran or somewhere in between. When I was a young ‘un (and to this day, if I find time for it, which I mostly don’t) I would read everything I could get my hands on. In particular, I was fascinated by the stacks of long-neglected instruction manuals I discovered for all the gadgets around the house, some still in the shrink wrap. I devoured them all, from the VCR to the microwave to the stereo and turntable to the riding lawnmower. It felt good, empowering even, as a young child, to know how to program the barely-solid-state VCR even when my parents couldn’t; I knew how to operate, fix, and properly take care of everything around the house just because I took the time to read the instructions their Manufacturer provided.

Somewhere in those shelves was an equally-neglected Bible…probably NIV. I don’t think I ever actually read the whole thing, but I did read quite a bit – as I understood it, this big blue book was written long ago as kind of the instruction manual for life. It took a while before I gradually realized why sunday school and church seemed to concentrate on a fairly narrow subset (“Gospel”) of this material, and seemingly shy away from the rest. There’s some pretty fucking bizarre stuff in there. Equal parts detailed historical documentation, bullshit, daydreams, internal inconsistencies, poetry, bigotry, prophecy, wisdom and sound advice. They’ll talk until blue about the story of Creation, but never mention the animal-sacrifice stuff the next book over (right down to which side of the altar to wipe the blood on on which day of the week, or which parts should be excised and burned on which occasions), nor for that matter, detailed food-preparation instructions that made sense in the days before refrigeration and Louis Pasteur (it seems a positive correlation between disease and animals with a cloven hoof was noticed pretty early on). It could even be argued, with only a few implausible assumptions, that Moses, not Tesla or Marconi, was the true father of radio*.

I guess if you have to pick only one, you may as well pick the religion with the worst afterlife, to minimize your chances of going to that one in case you picked wrong. That kind of rules out the ones that don’t include afterlives. There are a few faiths that don’t preclude belief in others, allowing them to coexist nondestructively. Then there are some convenient meta-beliefs, such as the belief that if you just “pick one” and live a good life, either a) it will automatically be the right one for you having picked it, or b) the deity/ies from the right one will cut you some slack for at least believing in something, regardless of whether the appropriate texts actually support this**.

It can be (often is) argued that agnosticism is the world’s biggest cop-out to what many consider to be life’s most important question–the ultimate “I don’t know”–but for me, it seems that the religion question comes down to choosing one, and only one, of many equally ridiculous possibilities. (All right…maybe not equally ridiculous, cue references to His Noodly Appendage or turtles all the way down.) Okay…maybe ridiculous isn’t the right word. Just not significantly more convincing than the hundreds of other possibilities out there.

I mean really, of this country’s predominant faiths, which is more ludicrous? To believe that there’s a man in the sky, who knows if you’ve been sleeping, knows when you’re awake (knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake), powerful enough to create entire universes and life itself, and yet still spends His/Her/Its time micromanaging the daily affairs of individuals? (“Ooohh… Johnson, I saw that jaywalking. You’re gonna burn a little for that.”)

Or to believe that from an absolute random soup of nothing sprang all the matter that you see before you, which self-organized into galaxies, stars, planets and, on a much smaller level, molecule chains capable of self-replication… which in turn self-organized into bacteria, birds and bees, and ultimately sentient creatures capable of producing speech, culture, mathematics, religion, art… who go around telling each other that in a closed system***, entropy always increases? (And that they are the by-product of billions and billions of mistakes. Who finds that a comforting thought?)

It also might be argued that a purpose of faith is to bring purpose and comfort to our lives, and that by not having any, we screw ourselves out of that. Meh. Personally, I find it comforting to believe that the sum total of my impact on existence (or perhaps more importantly, its impact on me) is bounded. Because forever is a long damned time.

* notedly, the original instructions were far more detailed (“See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain”) than what the Bible actually documents. Come on… exacting specifications on the length, number and distance between radiators branches on a dipole lampstand, precisely-specified turn ratios around a curtain rod, ground planes, protective (grounding?) garments that must be worn by the operator in proximity of the apparatus “so that he will not die”? Either these are instructions for some kind of crude receiver in terms a primitive culture can understand, or they’ve got one very anal interior decorator.

** Yes, Johnny, dogs do go to heaven… no Johnny, babies don’t go to hell for not believing in Jesus… no Johnny, middle Eastern kids who have never even been exposed to Chri… go ask your father.

*** crap, you paid attention in physics class, and caught me talking out of my ass again.

All that you can’t throw away. Even when the world gets in the way

“Now every Gambler knows that the secret to survival
Is knowin’ what to throw away and knowin’ what to keep
‘Cause every hand’s a winner, and every hand’s a loser
And the best you can hope for is to die in your sleep”
– Kenny Rogers, The Gambler

The last time I was in Anna’s, some weeks ago, I meowed at the Meowing Guy*. I was with GJM and Logan**, and as this one guy walked in I was like, “hey, I know that guy…”, and explained briefly about Meowing Guy, and we all started meowing loudly. In Anna’s. We confused a few people, but no reaction (GJM even tried barking).

But this time it was a completely different atmosphere; different gang of people, different reasons. Difficult conversations, difficult decisions, stammering…more than usual. Like I was sneaking around. I felt betrayed, and a betrayer, in doublethink components, dreaming a nightmare in fourier.

I think it’s human nature to remember the bad in life, the worst of every situation, burned into neurons like a tattoo. It’s one of those clever evolutionary hacks whose time has come and, perhaps, gone. It’s not critical to our survival that we remember something that made us happy, but something traumatic–damaging–a foolish risk–a painful mistake, it was at one time to our advantage that such scenes play through our heads over and over, conditioning, guaranteeing that we would never come close to making that particular mistake again.

But this meeting was hard for exactly the opposite reason: because sometimes you do remember the good times, and it’s so hard to just throw them away.

I had known for at least the last six months what I had gotten into; the responsibility and the unpredictability and the odds that…..what I could expect. Yes, I researched. I do shit like that. And I made my decision, and I still think I made it right. But there’s a difference between knowing something, in the back of your mind, and knowing something, right in the front of it like an errant bullet. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was, and on some level, still am. Shocked. Hurt. Totally illogical, I know, but sometimes, as in these matters of emotion and humans, knowledge changes nothing.

* a staple of Boston’s goth scene; makes cute kitten-mewing noises at girls in a desperate bid to get laid. And as often as not, from what I hear, succeeds.

LK: You know that.. meowing guy?
xxx: Oh, you mean Shane?

** I’m bad with names. I remember his because he kinda reminds me of Neo from The Matrix, played by wooden actor Keanu Reeves, who played “Ted Theodore Logan” in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Branch, branch, branch. At least the branches are straight and not tight little spinloops.

QOTD:
[21:21] me: nah, my next car will run on cold fusion
[21:21] me: or even lukewarm fusion
[21:21] D*: yeah good luck workin that out
[21:21] me: hey, I’m almost there
[21:21] D*: you planning on buying your next car in 2063?
[21:21] me: got “pretty warm fusion” working a few nights ago…gert’s basement kicks ass
[21:22] D*: cuz thats when that will be available
[21:22] D*: whha??
[21:22] D*: i thought fusion was.. you know… not possible yet
[21:22] D*: at least man made fusion
[21:23] me: ordinary fusion just melted the ghetto tokamak we made out of sheet metal and huge inductors…complete meltdown, left a big pit in the concrete
[21:24] me: and probably radiated the fuck out of us…luckily his wife was on vacation
[21:24] me: (BTW, yes, I AM fucking with you) :P

extern far MCBSP_Handle hMcbsp1;

That makes my day. OK, not entirely…makes it slightly less sucky, but you’ve gotta start somewhere, right? The mimosa in my office has decided that december is a good time to start making flowers :-P

After untold hours of hacking around and pestering TI tech support, I can now write a byte to the evil DSP‘s onboard serial port and have it actually….appear…on the serial port….yes, we will be realtime noise cancelling in 10 days. Riiiight…

Grr…humans.

Admin: “Gentlemen, we can rebuild it. We have the technology.”

(…lengthy post about cleaning up and rejuvenating a long-neglected Internet security message board…)

User: So now it will be a “gentlemen’s club” [questionmark] [questionmark] That is a big disappointment. [sad]

Admin: Er…what?

“Gentlemen, we can rebuild him…” …it’s the famous introduction to an old TV show, the Six Million Dollar Man. Heh, I guess I’m dating myself with that.

At any rate, boards.cexx.org is certainly not going to install a dancing pole and $25 cover charge [wink]

User: I suppose I should be ever so greatful for that…..what I was looking for was some way you might consider including women.

Maybe jumping right out of the 70s and into 2005, and consider women might have something to offer other than ‘dancing’ skills. [suspicious]

Admin: Whoa…I think there has been a bit of a misunderstanding here. There is NO intention of excluding women, or anyone else, from the forums. They are open to everyone. (except spam bots of course)

Again, the post title is just an offhand quote from an old TV show; I did not intend for anyone to read some kind of significance into it. [redface] I’d hate to think if I had titled the post “Spring Cleaning” instead, it would be restricted to Martians or something (it’s got to be spring somewhere in the universe right now)

PS. for those wondering where I disappeared to: I am still patching things on the backend (phpBB’s builtin mod/admin tools are pretty sad), but ran into a snag with the mass-delete patch over the weekend. I will try to be home tonight and fix it…work and life are getting a little hectic lately though.

/Tim