useless
birdie
clunis
another process has my pipe
so I can't read and I can't write
now what am I for
on this long, lonely night
if I can't read and I can't write?

why do all we children have to fight
for time and attention of one named pipe?
now I'm all blocked up
no end of file in sight
and I can't read and I can't write.

I need better utilities
birdie
clunis
I'd love to be able to run lsof or top on my brain to see what's using up all the resources. I'd *really* love to be able to run killall and rm, though. you'd want to be careful when typing, obviously, but if I could get rid of that time in 11th grade when I admitted to Bridget Dwyer that I was "madly in love" with her friend ... what was her friend's name again? Jane Kelley? something like that.

I'd like to get rid of that. On that note, netstat would be nice too so I could see how many connections I have established (probably need to prune a few) and definitely kill anything waiting for LAST_ACK. Life's too damned short to wait for that crap. Closure is for wimps.

I'd like to get rid of other things too, of course, but I'm not going to tell you what those are.

at the moment I need to renice the pointless worrying processes and give priority to the thesis job.

monotheism
birdie
clunis
The idea that Christianity is monotheistic has all of the earmarks of a "too-trendy-not-to-embrace" feature tacked-on by marketing after engineering had already produced the product. Here these poor religion engineers toiled with bronze age tools and long beards in the hot desert sun to produce a perfectly acceptable polytheistic religion based on self loathing, a vengeful primary/father God, a mystical spirit who inhabits everything (included for backwards compatibility with the already outmoded but still ubiquitous animist faiths), and a more approachable everyman Herculus-type God character (son of the main God, performs a bunch of amazing feats, and even provides compatibility with faiths requiring human sacrifice).

There was already feature creep and I'm sure the engineers were loathe to go back and bolt something else on. Fortunately, the marketers were able to do it entirely in the ad copy and no re-engineering was required. I think the release meeting went something like this:

*engineers finish slide presentation -- giant wall-mounted scroll is unwound to show a slide reading "Eukha'ristos eimi!"*
marketing director: um... yeah. that sounds great, but...
marketing minion: we can't ship this.
marketing director: now, calm down.
marking minion: we can't ship this! it's a polytheism. don't you people in engineering read ANY of the memos we send you?
engineer #1: we get piles and piles of memos every day. we can't be expected to unroll every one.
marketing director: we can fix this!
marketing minion: we'll be the laughing stocks of Judea!
marketing director: no, no, no. It's fine. It's fine. We just say that the three main gods are the same person.
engineer #2: that's insane
engineer #1: it doesn't make any sense
engineer #2: one of them is the other one's father, for number 2's sake!
engineer #1: and the third one is a ubiquitous spirit...
marketing minion: okay... so the ubiquitous spirit is no problem, he's in everything already anyway.
engineer #2: sure, but where'd the son come from? Are we saying these gods clone themselves?
marketing director: no...
engineer #1: budding, then?
engineer #2: astral projection?
marketing minion: no way, too "Eastern". Our customers want a strict, hierarchical westward-facing faith.
marketing director: that's it! "faith" we don't have to explain anything. We just say it and then it's true.
marketing minion: I love it! it has mystery, pizazz, sparkle!
engineer #1: and we don't have to change anything?
marketing director: nothing at all
engineer #2: won't people notice?

An early adopter named Constantine picked it up, was totally cool, made it all the rage, and the rest is history.

better computing through crappier computers
birdie
clunis
mcniadh just sold me his terrific little HP Mini 110. There is just no metric by which this machine isn't amazing. It boots up nearly as fast as my Commodore 64 (and not only did that thing have its OS in ROM but it couldn't fucking DO anything) and it's more powerful than the Solaris workstation I had on my desk when I started working full time. The best thing, though, is it can't do any of the things I do to waste my time when I should be writing, reading, or analyzing data*.

It can't play flash video. This fact alone is going to get my dissertation written. It can't play HD streaming HTML 5 video. There's no room on the disk for my photo collection so I can't spend all of my time staring at Nora (unless I go to rubberducky.org but I can exercise that amount of self control). Mostly, though, it just doesn't feel (with its 10" screen and ubuntu netbook remix) like it wants to play with me. It wants me to write LaTeX, sure. It even wants me to run R (which works far better than I'd expected). It wants me to manage my bibtex database with pybliographer (which is awesome, btw). There's really only one non-work thing this computer can do that's likely to get me into trouble. And it does that one thing better than Mel Gibson offends.

Angband. This little computer was MADE to play angband and nethack. Seriously. If I had smoked pot in the 90s (I didn't) and if I'd tried to design the ideal angband gaming platform (this I actually did do), I'd have designed this. The screen is perfect, the battery runs forever, the keyboard is perfect, and the netbook is the perfect size.

* this is both hyperbole and a lie. It can do LJ, web comics, twitter, skype, AIM, wikipedia safaris, and (worst of all) the eternal tweaking and compiling of the desktop linux user.

what's 1,000 words worth?
birdie
clunis

This randomly selects 1,000 lines from the dictionary and appends the number of bytes in that sample to a file.

for i in {1..500}; do
     awk 'BEGIN {srand()} {printf "%05.0f %s \n",rand()*99999, $0; }' /usr/share/dict/words | sort -n |\\
     head -1000 | sed 's/^[0-9]* //' | dd 2>&1 | grep "bytes transferred" | awk '{print $1}' >>sizes.dat
done
(then in R)
> sizes <- read.table("~/sizes.dat", header=TRUE)
> mean(sizes)
   bytes 
11581.83 
> sd(sizes)
   bytes 
90.32316 
> qqnorm(sizes$bytes)
> plot(density(sizes$bytes))
> hist(sizes$bytes, col=rainbow(15, start=.4))
> mean(sizes$bytes) / 1024
[1] 11.31038

11.31k is not a very large picture. Each of the plots (quantile x normal, density, histogram) is larger. Even these pictures of me and Nora and the fat giraffes are 13k, 13k, and 15k respectively!

Still, here are all the google image hits for 'entropy' pictures that are 128 x 128 pixels. Many of these are are in the roughly 11k range. hrm... Sadly, I've lost interest, now, and am not going to repeat my stupid experiment using random selections from google image search.


getting my way
birdie
clunis
I've accidentally conducted a little experiment this morning. It turns out that if you call people with a weird request you get treated badly BUT if you call with a weird request and first say "Hi, I'm a doctoral candidate in linguistics working on my dissertation and..." you can get incredibly helpful responses for all kinds of bizarre shit.


Also, on a COMPLETELY separate note it should be said that 7-FAST is the greatest thing that ever happened to anything ever.

lest we forget that we inhabit an internet backwater
birdie
clunis
Today I wanted to turn some leftover chickpeas into fake tuna salad. No problem, right? I remembered posting my recipe to LJ and giving it the title "tuna safe tuna salad" because I think I'm fucking hilarious. SO my google query is:

"tuna safe tuna salad" site:clunis.livejournal.com

nothing. So I try:

"tuna safe tuna salad" site:livejournal.com

nothing. So I try simply:


"tuna safe tuna salad"

plenty of crap but none of it is me. "Maybe I posted a recipe friends-only", I thought. Seems weird, but maybe. I take a random ass guess at when I last made fake tuna salad and figure it was March or April of last year. So I browse through old LJ posts and there it is. Public post. March 6th of last year: tuna safe tuna salad.

Not in google's indices at all. It's like LJ doesn't exist. I think I might start posting my sexual fantasies and top secret research ideas here so I'm sure no one will ever find them. I mean hell, someone might actually steal my laptop -- LJ seems more private.

my dissertation prospectus
birdie
clunis

in a nutshell. My prospectus defense is on June 24th. From there it's about another year until I'm done and have to find a job.


I think she has to leave the garden now.
birdie
clunis
me: Nora, my I have this slice of your apple?
her: nyeos
me: was that a no or a yes?
her: put it in your mouth, big boy!
me: *chokes to death on apple*

hear hear!
birdie
clunis

If, like me, you're desperately trying not to write your dissertation, not to mow your lawn, and not raise your child to be a sane and reasonable member of society then, please, by all means, fritter away the rest of your afternoon watching these hilarious David Mitchell's Soapbox clips. But remember, while Mitchell is obviously very funny it's Webb who seems to have a fracking clue about language.

see also: homeopathic emergency and fry & laurie on language. thank you and good day!

p.s. in addition to trying desperately I'm given to understand that I am desperately trying. you're welcome.