Please note: the viewport design is copied from Steve Den Beste's excellent blog, USS Clueless. Used with permission.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005  

via Leave My Child Alone

"Leave My Child Alone"

"Cindy Sheehan (mother of a soldier slain in Iraq), Jim Massey (ex-Marine recruiter) and others reveal the true impact of No Child Left Behind's military recruitment in our high schools. With no end in sight to the increasingly lethal American occupation in Iraq, this is the single-most important film for concerned parents and citizens to see. Watch the 11-minute film and then take action to 'opt our kids out' at"

posted by Gary Williams at 8:43 PM | link |

[BAD SIGNAL]Ignition Keys

[BAD SIGNAL]Ignition Keys

bad signal

Well, the snark has apparently
started already: I'm getting
forwarded all kinds of links to people
talking shit about me in regards to
The Engine. Also, people are sending
me links to all kinds of things that
also have Engine in the title, as if
I should change the name. Hell, I
used to write for a magazine called
ENGINE. There have been a million
things with Engine in the title. But
this isn't a magazine, a comic or a
publisher, it's not a spoof URL and
there's no passing-off involved.

I haven't looked, but several people
have told me there's some weirdo
posting insulting haiku about me on
Fanboy Rampage. Which is just the
funniest thing ever. Nasty poetry,
my god...

I've managed to get the forum
software to do what I want: as I
suspected, I can make a section that's

viewable publicly, but which only
comics creators can post to. Which
I think will be interesting. A live
version of that annual magazine/book
about film that's written entirely
by filmmakers, the title of which
suddenly escapes me but which I've
written about before. Also, a
section where only creators can
launch threads, but which anyone
can reply to, which'll allow creators
to talk about their work to the
audience. It's all about guiding the
flow of information.

And, with the
focus on non-superhero, original
works, it could become a useful
platform for those creators who
just can't get their work into the
conversation otherwise. Aside from,
you know, talking about how fucking
brilliant I am.

That's a joke, by the way. Jesus.

I could still use a Filthy Assistant
in PST, I think.

More in a bit.

-- W

posted by Gary Williams at 1:43 PM | link |

Tuesday, August 30, 2005  

via Essentialist Explanations


English is essentially bad Dutch with outrageously pronounced French and Latin vocabulary.
--Eugene Holman

English is essentially Norse as spoken by a gang of French thugs.
--Benct Philip Jonsson

English is essentially a bizarre dialect of Chinese, pronounced entirely in the first tone.
--John Cowan

English is essentially any other language spoken with a very hot potato in one's mouth.
--Ivan Derzhanski (based on Alain LaBont?on Swiss French)

English is essentially the language you speak without moving your mouth.
--Marianne Cowan

English is essentially a language that uses vowels no other language would accept.
--Lu?s Henrique

English is essentially degenerate Welsh steeped in Latin, Dutch and Franco-Scandinavian Norman.
--Mike Taylor

posted by Gary Williams at 11:53 PM | link |

via Wired News

Nintendogs Teach Us New Tricks

By Clive Thompson

02:00 AM Aug. 29, 2005 PT

After only a few minutes playing Nintendogs, you will appear -- to any outside observer -- to have completely lost your mind. You'll be shouting commands at your Nintendo DS, peering worriedly at your tiny computerized puppy and dutifully tapping the screen to pick up virtual dog poop. 'Sit, Tube! Sit!' I shouted at my pixilated dachshund, as my wife looked on in mild disbelief. I'd been at this for two days, people.

Why does everyone love this game so much? Easy, say game pundits: The game's insanely cute. The puppies yip, perform tricks and chase after Frisbees and an assortment of squeaky toys. You'd have to be a war criminal to remain unmoved, right?

Me, I think the appeal is much subtler -- and weirder. If we love Nintendogs, it's not merely because they're so adorable. It's that they're so needy.

The puppies are -- like many virtual life forms, from Tamigotchis to The Sims -- a rather helpless breed. You have to carefully monitor their hunger and thirst; when you're out for a walk, you have to shoo them away from street garbage so they won't eat it. Leave your puppy unattended for long enough and it'll become so filthy and distressed that it'll run away.

As it turns out, we're suckers for babysitting. Sherry Turkle -- the digital-age pundit and author of Life on the Screen -- has been researching the relationship between robots and people. She's discovered that the most popular robots are, unexpectedly, the ones that demand we take care of them. They trigger our nurturing impulses, the same ones we deploy toward infants, the elderly or any other vulnerable creature.

The thing is, this precisely inverts the normal logic of artificial intelligence. Back in the '70s, everyone assumed we'd eventually have super-smart robots as servants -- guarding our homes, managing our schedules and bringing us a beer. That never happened. Nobody really wanted robots like that, because robots like that are kind of scary. Nobody wants a Terminator hanging around the kitchen.

In reality, when robots finally broke out into the mass market, it was the Furby and the Aibo. Not only did they serve zero useful purpose, they actually demanded we spend hours and hours nurturing them. If you didn't pay attention to your Aibo, it'd wilt. That, Turkle suggests, is precisely the reason these robots have such emotional purchase. Over in Japan, nursing homes are issuing Aibos to the abandoned elderly, because people love to feel needed -- and as it turns out, that's the one thing that Aibo is genuinely 'useful' for: making you feel needed.

You could say the same thing about the artificial intelligence in our games. When it comes to Halo or Half Life, sure, we want our enemies to be cunning and wily; it makes them feel more realistic and challenging. But the characters we emotionally bond with? We prefer 'em vaguely daft or ditzy. Warren Spector once noted that when gamers play Deux Ex, they become oddly attached to their four-legged 'spider-bot' bombs, because these bots aren't very bright. They'll get befuddled and need to be coaxed up staircases. They're slightly helpless but eager to please, kind of like ... puppies!

Maybe sci-fi doomsayers have got it all wrong. Artificial intelligence won't be dominating us with its superhuman cognition and bloodless logic. It'll be peeing itself and demanding to be taken for a walk.

posted by Gary Williams at 10:51 PM | link |

via Blogging in Paris

A Poem From Paris

I PASS a lighted window
And a closed door—
And I am not troubled
Any more.

Though the road is murky,
I am not afraid,
For a shadow passes
On the lighted shade.

Once I knew the sesame
To the closed door;
Now I shall not enter
Any more;

Nor will people passing
By the lit place,
See our shadows marry
In a gray embrace.

Strange a passing shadow
Has a long spell!
What can matter, knowing
She does well?

How can life annoy me
Any more?
Life: a lighted window
And a closed door.

posted by Gary Williams at 6:35 PM | link |


How to break the RSA Algorithm

As an amateur encryption thinking, I have pondered how to get around the encryption standard on the RSA Algorithm. I came up with this get around that has shown promising reviews. It is based on the notion that some of the time the decryption algorithm
can be bypassed by p=BaMod c = Ba Mod cMod c. Enough successes could tell you that this is indeed the modulus. This may be useful for small hackers
I think the processing time to scan to determine if this is indeed the right modulus may cost more computing time for the NSA than otherwise.

posted by Gary Williams at 5:20 PM | link |

Sunday, August 28, 2005  

via Kung Fu Monkey

We've Converted

I know, I'd heard rumors, but never really read all the core beliefs of the Flying Spaghetti Monster religion. But BoingBoing points out that they have a Wikipedia entry now.
As I perused it and learned more of this wondrous religion -- and became convinced that its core beliefs should also be taught in schools along with Intelligent Design -- I was completely surprised when the lovely wife walked from the other room and announced 'I have been touched by his noodly appendage.'

One cannot ignore such a sign from the Heaven -- his Heaven, where there are strippers and a beer volcano. We are now devout Pastafarians.

posted by Gary Williams at 2:03 AM | link |

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