Content from 2007-09

Mounds of Milosz
posted on 2007-09-24 17:41:30
It seems I just can't help myself when it comes to this guy. Here's some of his work from Second Spaces which I believe is the last of his poems that were published.

From Part III, Treatise on Theology:
4. I Apologize
I apologize, most reverend theologians, for a tone not befitting the purple of your robes.
I thrash in the bed of my style, searching for a comfortable position, not too sanctimonious and not too mundane.
There must be a middle place between abstraction and childishness where one can talk seriously about serious things.
Catholic dogma is a few inches too high; we stand on our toes and for a moment it seems to us that we see.
Yet the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the mystery of Original Sin, the mystery of the Redemption are well armored against reason.
Which tries in vain to get straight the story of God before His creation of the world, and when the separation into good and evil occurred in His Kingdom.
What in all that can be grasped by little girls in white for First Communion!
If even gray-haired theologians concede that it is too much for them, close the book, and invoke the inadequacy of the human tongue.
But it will not do to prattle on about soft little Jesus in the hay of His manger.

And also this one, from Part III's Treatise on Theology as well:
15. Religion Comes
Religion comes from our pity for humans.
They are too weak to live without divine protection.
Too weak to listen to the screeching noise of the turning of infernal wheels.
Who among us would accept a universe in which there was not one voice
Of compassion, pity, understanding?
To be human is to be completely alien amid the galaxies.
Which is sufficient reason for erecting, together with others, the temples of an unimaginable mercy.

That one actually reminds me of something I wrote once...
Meandering Towards Monday
posted on 2007-09-23 21:32:12
It's been a nice, leisurely weekend thus far. I've been meaning to post more and to post some things that are a bit less technical but I've been bad about making the time of late. This is a smattering of things that have been backed up in my head.

I realized recently that there's a Milosz poem I never threw up here that I really wished I had. It's titled Diary of a Naturalist and taken out of his work From The Rising of The Sun.

My generation was lost. Cities too. And nations.
But all this a little later. Meanwhile, in the window, a swallow
Performs its rite of the second. That boy, does he already suspect
That beauty is always elsewhere and always delusive?
Now he sees his homeland. At the time of the second mowing.
Roads winding uphill and down. Pine groves. Lakes.
An overcast sky with one slanting ray.
And everywhere men with scythes, in shirts of unbleached linen
And the dark-blue trousers that were common in the province.
He sees what I see even now. Oh but he was clever,
Attentive, as if things were instantly changed by memory.
Riding in a cart, he looked back to retain as much as possible.
Which means he knew what was needed for some ultimate moment
When he would compose from fragments a world perfect at last.

Isn't that nice? Here's one I wrote that just sort of flew out this afternoon:
The world is not chaos or justice,
Mere good and bad happening all round.
Swept under the rug in our wake,
Dust returning to dust, in clumps at that.
We do not like to go quietly, or alone.
But what of the unquantifiable interim?
Ah, qualified not quantified: Rich, peerless,
Are there stories greater than our own?
Certainly not with more twists, turns, surprises.
Still, here I am, trying to understand how:
I have become trapped like a fly in amber.
Like those who have come before me, now
Teachers, who sought after explications for the
Milieu of an era, the abstract of an age.

I'm not sure what I think but I may be warming up to it. Now that that's out of the way.

Top 5 Books I couldn't live without:
Unattainable Earth by Czeslaw Milosz
Hackers & Painters by Paul Graham
Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
The Success of Open Source by Steven Weber
The Future of Ideas by Lawrence Lessig

Honorable Mentions:
Selected Essays by Jerzy Kosinski
The Blue Octavo Notebooks by Franz Kafka
The Trial by Frans Kafka
Tender is the Night OR The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

Of late, I've also really been enjoying reading Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston. If you're considering ever starting your own company or if you'd just be edified by reading about people succeeding outside the system/convention and innovating I'd highly recommend picking it up. There's also a book called Coders at Work in progress at the same publisher by a different author. That book is composed of interviews with some of the world's premiere programmers and it may find it's way onto the can't live without list. At least, I expect it will.

As my last point today, I'd like to congratulate Electronic Arts. They have successfully made the first good skateboarding video game in years. This is a huge thing for me because I love skateboarding games because I'm a big skate nerd and it's taken way too long for someone to best Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2. Honestly, what happened to you Neversoft? Anyway, I highly endorse EA Blackbox's new game skate. It's amazz-z-zing. I might need to end up getting one more game console after all. Alright, more later folks.
Links and Things
posted on 2007-09-17 12:56:54
Quick Monday Morning Post. So, what's been going on lately?
-Apple acts like tools again by being evil and using lock in on consumers. This is one reason I won't buy an iPod or iPhone. I would eventually be forced to switch my Operating System. Thanks, but no. All the same, Linux developers cracked Apple's hashes inside 72 hours, making iPods on Linux workable again.
-SCO finally gets called out, screwed. They don't own Linux, their case was thrown out, and they've filed for Chapter 11. *grin* 'Bout time. Note: Pissed shareholders. Don't lie to your shareholders.
-AMD has released ATI video card specs and is helping develop an open source driver. Makes me glad I'm an AMD/ATI guy.
-Erlang is running on the OpenMoko. This makes me giddy for all kinds of reasons. And it's one more reason I really, really want an OpenMoko. Maybe I'll be able to get one for Xmas and replace my current phone. *crosses fingers*
-A "whole new class of vulnerabilities" has been discovered apparently and it specifically targets multicore architectures. I'm a bit skeptical about the whole new class nonsense. Of course, it also happens to only work when shared memory is involved. Oh, hello Erlang. Don't you have shared nothing semantics? That's nice. I like those.

The to read/listen/watch list:
Online Video Course on Monads
The Three Kinds of Platforms on the Internet
I'm continually impressed by the guys at Enfranchised Mind (on Intellectual Property today).
On Social Networks
The Transactional Memory/Garbage Collection Analogy
How Space Maps work in ZFS
Interesting thoughts on the handling on Strings in Programming Languages. Note for non-nerds: Strings are lists of characters. You know, text.
Also, I need to learn more math.
Finally, password storage and security. Yep. It's good to know.

The Cool Web 2.0 thingy list:
Meebo - IM everywhere.
YubNub - A web command line. Holy Shit, that's brilliant!
A better list than mine...
Quotes on Programmers
posted on 2007-09-14 14:40:13
"15 years of experience interviewing programmers has convinced me that the best programmers all have an easy aptitude for dealing with multiple levels of abstraction simultaneously." - Joel Spolsky, The Guerilla Guide to Interviewing v3.0

"As Lyle Ramshaw, a former graduate student of Knuth's, points out, "Don claims that one of the skills that you need to be a computer scientist is the ability to work with multiple levels of abstraction simultaneously. When you're working at one level, you try and ignore the details of what's happening at the lower levels. But when you're debugging a computer program and you get some mysterious error message, it could be a failure in any of the levels below you, so you can't afford to be too compartmentalized." - Article on The Art of Programming

"The key to being a good hacker may be to work on what you like. When I think about the great hackers I know, one thing they have in common is the extreme difficulty of making them work on anything they don't want to. I don't know if this is cause or effect; it may be both." - Paul Graham, Great Hackers

Fun stuff that maybe relates...or I've just been reading anyway:
Why You Need A Degree For Big Companies (parody)
News From The Front (Why the College you go to doesn't matter)
How To Do What You Love
posted on 2007-09-12 18:34:12
I was watching an interesting video this morning and had some thoughts I jotted down before class. I am reproducing them in their full, unsubstantiated, and provocative/controversial nature here. Later perhaps they will contribute to something a bit more formal. Note: The video features Simon Peyton-Jones talking about programming language evolution somewhat generally. I'd much rather him speak more about that stuff than the Haskell/STM talks he gave at OSCON. Hmm.

I promise I'll post something less disjointed and more intelligible/coherent/formal than this in the near future.

Referencing Upcoming Radical Visions Essay, Trend A: Moving Away From X86
Facet 1) Hardware.

I'm sick of people poo-pooing the "concurrency crisis". To be fair, concurrency is the straw breaking the camel's back. To maintain sustainable growth in the computer industry we're having to do, as always, radical things on the hardware side. Not as always, however, is the fact that they're forcing lots of change in software/CS at the same time.

Is Erlang brilliant? Maybe. Is Erlang fortuitous? Certainly. It is probably the best option for the concurrency problem at hand. I'm not convinced that Scala or F# compare. Or Haskell for that matter. Haskell is a different sort of win.

We need concurrency more than controlled effects through a type system at present. The need for Haskell is still further out. Still less urgent.

^That's it. We're having two different conversations trying to discuss what the more urgent issue is. It's not Erlang vs. Haskell. It's concurrency vs. limited effects.

But what of (insert professor/coder name here)? What of those that are uninformed? Hell, what about (insert coder name here). What will they do when their code is sitting around not scaling to available resources?

Tertiary snippets:
Syntax is not semantics. Can we mistake it for such? Of course, but what does that look like? What is it to mistake syntax for semantics?

"That boy, does he already suspect that beauty is always elsewhere and always delusive?" - Czeslaw Milosz, New and Collected Poems, p. 284
Quick Update
posted on 2007-09-12 03:03:33
I'm studying for a Discrete Mathematics test tomorrow. Aaah!! I'm learning Predicate Calculus in that class though so that's exciting. It's fun to finally be a bit more versed in all that. It also helps that I listened to Faith, Evolution, and Programming Languages yesterday and feel like I have a better understanding of Type Systems Theory thanks to that.

Other stuff: Thinking too much, as usual. Mostly about computers but also had good discussions with Teresa and Bria about the notion of progress and whether or not we are in a state of decline. More on that soon hopefully. I need to get some of those thoughts down after the discussions have fleshed out a bit more. Anyone else have thoughts to contribute or want in on the discussion?

I really want to write something about why Computer Science as a field is provocative and unique to me. I've also sort of started my nerd/programming pdf/ebookshelf. Presently on it are the following:
Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs by Abelman and Sussman
The Art of Computer Programming, Vol. 1-3 by Donald Knuth
Concrete Mathematics by Donald Knuth
Code Complete, 2e by Steve McConnell
The Tex Book by Donald Knuth
Programming Erlang by Joe Armstrong
The Best Software Writing (selected) by Joel Spolsky
Introduction To Algorithms, 2e by MIT Staff
Learning Perl, 4e by Phoenix and Schwartz
Linear Algebra and It's Applications, 3e by Gilbert Strang
The Practice of Programming by Kernighan and Pike
How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Learning With Python by Downey, Elkner, and Meyers

I also have some physical copies of other books and should probably come up with a comprehensive syllabus (similar to the one I did for open source a while back and my book wish list just before summer) for CS books in the near future.

This means I'm now studying two languages for school and two in my spare time. Java and C for school and Erlang and Scheme for fun. It makes me feel a little crazy because I don't know that anyone else actually does this. If there was someone else at SPSU that was studying Erlang that would literally surprise the hell out of me and I don't know how to feel about that. *shrug*

Also, I'm looking forward to possibly switching from Ubuntu to Fedora when Test2 drops on Thursday and I'm thinking of trying FreeBSD and Nexenta or OpenSolaris in the future. More on stuff like that and hardware nonsense later.

Finally, a few songs I've been enjoying:
Incubus - Talk Shows on Mute
The Stills - Yesterday Never Tomorrows
Guster - I Hope Tomorrow Is Like Today
Zero 7 - Out of Town
Incubus - Agoraphobia
Thoughts Scattered, Smothered, Covered, etc.
posted on 2007-09-10 13:38:49
I have gone about dedicating myself to invisible empires.
I rise and the day brings visions of struts jutting out
of the soil to sustain immeasurable edifices to man.

I am having fun. I can say that much.
To Do list:
Essay on Radical Visions.
Lots of Discrete Mathematics to prepare for Wed test.
Java Programming and C Programming.
Figure out what days are with whom this weekend. Note: skate will be out.
Gym and Laundry.
Read one of the following good things: The Wealth of Networks, Programming the Universe, Open Sources (1 or 2), Infotopia. Also Milosz and Neruda.

Morning Reading:
Sixteenth Thursday Literary Lines
posted on 2007-09-06 17:00:16
This is the last scheduled post I'm going to write. After this, it's back to the good old days. Everything will be "Just For Fun" and I'll post what I like when I like. It's been a good experiment in generating content these past 2^4 weeks but this is the end of it. Though I do expect to have some very nerdy stuff up by Saturday. :-)
No promises.

That said, I'm ending with a bang. This untitled piece from Unattainable Earth touches on many of the frequent themes of the master poet Milosz. I hope you enjoy it:

Rustling taffetas. At sunset in a park by the Prypet River.
The party sets out for a walk on a path lined with flowers.
The fragrance of nicotianas, phlox, and resedas.
Great silence, the empty expanse of rising waters.
Meanwhile the servants bring in lamps, set the table for supper.
And the dining room windows lit the agaves on the lawn.

Lela, Marishka, Sophineta! Lenia, Stenia, Isia, Lilka!
Is it fair that I will never talk with you
In a language not disguised by etiquette
As less than language and reduced to table chatter
But austere and precise like a thought
That attempts to embrace the poor lives of beings?

I walk about. No longer human. In a hunting outfit.
Visiting our thick forests and the houses and manors.
Cold borscht is served and I am abstracted
With disturbing questions from the end of my century.
Mainly regarding the truth, where does it come from, where is it?
Mum, I was eating chicken with cucumber salad.

My pretty ones, abducted, beyond will and guilt.
My awareness harrows me as well as my silence.
All my life I gathered images and ideas,
I learned how to travel through lost territories,
But the moment between birth and disappearance
Is too much, I know, for the meager word.

Strings of wild ducks fly over the Respublica's waters.
Dew falls on Polish manners imported from Warsaw and Vienna.
I cross the river in a dugout to the village side.
Barking dogs greet me there and the bell of an Orthodox church.

What would I like to tell you? That I didn't get what I looked for:
To gather all of us naked on the earthly pastures
Under the endless light of suspended time
Without that form which confines me as it once confined you.

Seeing the future. A diviner. In a soft merciful night.
When pigweed grows on the paths of a cut-down garden
And a narrow gold chain on a white neck,
Together with the memory of all of you, perishes.
Sixteenth Wednesday Songs
posted on 2007-09-05 12:38:23
Radiohead - Polyethylene (Pts. 1 + 2)
Radiohead - Subterranean Homesick Alien
Radiohead - The Tourist
Muse - Hyper Music
Red Hot Chili Peppers - She's Only 18
Sixteenth Tuesday Quotables
posted on 2007-09-05 12:08:25
"There is not and there cannot be anything more precious for any thinking creature than life. Death is an oddity tearing the spectator away from a huge stage before the play, which infinitely interests him, is over." - Casanova, Memoirs

"The animal wrests the whip from its master and whips itself in order to become master, not knowing that this is only a fantasy produced by a new knot in the master's whiplash." - Kafka, The Blue Octavo Notebooks p. 24

"He is a free and secure citizen of this earth, for he is attached to a chain that is long enough to make all areas of the earth accessible to him, and yet only so long that nothing can pull him over the edges of the earth. At the same time, however, he is also a free and secure citizen of heaven, for he is also attached to a similarly calculated heavenly chain. Thus, if he wants to get down to earth, he is choked by the heavenly collar and chain; if he wants to get to heaven, he is choked by the earthly one. And in spite of this he has all the possibilities, and feels that it is so; indeed, he even refuses to attribute the whole thing to a mistake in the original chaining." - Kafka, The Blue Octavo Notebooks p. 32

Yes, Kafka is crazy. But so awesome...
Labor Day Leisure
posted on 2007-09-04 00:52:48
I have to say this labor day has been fairly leisurely. I probably should have done more homework and there are definitely some things I need to get written and posted up on the blog but I'll get to that as soon as I can. I've been feeling a bit under the weather the last 24 or 48 hours. I think I have a bit of a throat thing but hopefully it will pass in another day or two. Here is tonight's fantastic reading:
Peer Production Models

I'll try to find my words for all this soon...
Sixteenth Monday Update
posted on 2007-09-03 19:03:30
Week 15: Finished
write e-mail to tim sweeney asking for permission to publicize conversation.
help pete with his computer after class.
ren and dani

Unexpected: Hung out with Kris, Watched Good Will Hunting, Posted E-mail conversation with Sweeney, Got through about 60 pages of Programming Erlang.

Week 16: Schedule
It's labor day. No work, no school.
Respond to LJ comments.
Intro to Computing HW!
Java and C Homework?
Discrete Math Homework?
tvs 7-11
prog and problem solving i - cse 1301 002 - 01:30-2:45pm J-Atrium 151
prog and problem solving i - cse 1301 053 - 03:00-04:40pm J-Atrium 251
c programming - cs 2123 002 - 07:30-08:45pm J-Atrium 161
tvs 7-11
discrete mathematics - math 2345 002 - 12:00-12:50pm D-Classroom 234
intro to computing disciplines - cse 1002 001 - 03:00-3:50pm J-Atrium 217
tvs 7-11
prog and problem solving i - cse 1301 002 - 01:30-2:45pm J-Atrium 151
c programming - cs 2123 002 - 07:30-08:45pm J-Atrium 161
tvs 7-11
discrete mathematics - math 2345 002 - 12:00-12:50pm D-Classroom 234
Get in touch with BJ Bernstein.
Bake cookies for Bria. Mail them.
First Smash Tourney Fall 07?

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