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Blowing this popstand

me 1977
I'm heading out of here kids. I've opened an account on Dreamwidth.org.

Dreamwidth is pretty awesome - it does everything that LJ doesn't, it's maintained well, and new features are developed all the time. I also imported everything from LJ (including comments, tags, etc) with the touch of one button.

I have five invite codes. Join me.
me 1977
I'm going out on a limb and saying that NYAFF is the best film festival you can see in New York City.

Why is that, you may ask? Well, I will cite the following:

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Farm Shares - Week 02

me 1977
No Piggery pork share this week, but the Paisley Farms share was a true haul - I got a basil plant!! What CSA actually gives you a living plant, I ask you?? An awesome one.

So in addition to this excellent basil plant (which smells very much of anise/licorice) I also received: a bag of red beans, my Omega 3 eggs, more/bigger rapini, a head of what looked like butter lettuce, red leaf lettuce, kale, miscellaneous turnips and radishes, more red mezclun, and some bok choi.

I plan to take some of those bacon ends from last week (which I dumped in the freezer for future use) and braise the kale and last week's chard together with them and a bit of vegetable stock. Salads of various combos of the greens will also be happening. I'm also going to take the turnip/radish greens and see if I can make soup with them. I'll probably also do a repeat of the sausage and rapini, but this time cook the rapini a bit more successfully. Not sure what my plans for the bok choi are... maybe try and make a little stir fry with them? I'll probably also roast some of those root veggies, though I've been slicing up radishes to put in salads.

That's all for now - tune back in next week to see what kinds of coolness comes in the next Piggery shipment! I sense that sausages will be in my future...

Farm Shares - Week 01

me 1977
This year I re-joined Paisley Farms CSA, and signed up for The Piggery CSA. I'm getting veg, fruit, and omega 3 egg shares from Paisley picked up on a weekly basis, and a "quarter hog" share from The Piggery every two weeks. For an average weekly cost of about $57, I'm getting all kinds of amazing stuff; here's a report of week one and what I'm doing with it.

My first week of Paisley included the following: turnips, radishes, soy beans, rapini, green leaf lettuce, red mesclun, romaine, chard. Piggery sent me some bacon ends, a quart of pulled pork, a half pound or so of mortadella, and a hunk of pate. I had friends over for dinner Thursday night and made salad with radishes and grape tomatoes, sausage and sauteed rapini, and a big bean salad with soybeans and other beans from my Winter share. I kind of went overboard with the beans, I keep forgetting that a few beans go a long way. And I definitely could have done a little better with the rapini - I blanched it at first, and that worked out okay in terms of cooking the leafy parts, but what I should have done was take those off and then keep cooking the stems more; some of them were a bit too stick-like, I think further chopping/blanching/saute of the stems would have worked better, and the leaves would have stayed greener. Anyway, the salad turned out great! Salad is pretty easy, and the natural flavor of the radishes was really fresh and earthy.

I didn't serve any of the Piggery food at dinner, but I've been eating and enjoying the heck out of it. The pulled pork is very tasty, a spicy, hearty mix of meat and sauce. The mortadella is smoother and creamier than any other deli meat I've had, and the pate is tasty as all get out.

I'm very much looking forward to next week's haul - no pork next week, but that's okay; I don't think I could possibly eat more than what I've got. I'm glad it's every other week!

iPhone 4 Reaction - Not Until It's Free

me 1977
I'm very disappointed by the ongoing exclusivity between Apple and AT&T. The new iPhone looks like it's going to be a fantastic piece of equipment, with the addition of another camera and flash, gyroscope, high resolution display, and built-in antennas to improve reception, Apple is following their formula of creating a device with great hardware improvements, and it's compelling to own one of these new machines. Unfortunately, I simply cannot go on using AT&T's service any longer. I have owned an iPhone for two years, and in that time I have never been able to place a call without it dropping the connection. Never.

The current state of affairs is unacceptable. As a result, I'm not going to upgrade my phone - I won't buy an iPhone 4 until it has been successfully jailbroken and unlocked. And I plan to cancel my AT&T contract, pay the termination fee (which is about another month worth of service) and use another service that will undoubtedly not overcharge me for ridiculously poor service. Monopolies are anti-capitalist! When the new iPhone is successfully freed, I'll sell my current iPhone jailbroken and unlocked, and that should cover most of the cost of a non-contract iPhone 4.

At this point, it's likely that AT&T exclusivity really will continue until 2012. I see no reason why I should stand for this arrangement, which literally amounts of racketeering.
me 1977
Sorry folks, but religious fantasy does not equal science fiction. Ever.

If you haven't seen the end of LOST yet, you don't care enough about the show to care about spoilers, so, here goes:

The Hydrogen Bomb goes off. Daniel Faraday's plan succeeds, even though he dies, and he knows this because he's a mega-genius, right? He clearly had a plan and knew what he was doing. But how does he succeed?

Because another universe is created by the convergence of energies at the explosion - a "big bang" so to speak. In this new universe, the island has sunk because the arcane energies keeping it afloat and outside of space and time have been spent. Faraday knows this is what's going to happen - but he also knows that consciousness can transcend space and time, as that was the heart of his research. So his plan is that his consciousness, and everyone else's who was ever trapped on the island, will be transferred into the new universe.

Once the bomb has gone off, the Monster has already lost the game and he/it doesn't even know it - because the universe only has room for one timeline, and the previous universe is now a temporal anomaly and will slowly decay into non-existence. As people die in the Lost universe, they "wake up" with all their memories in the new universe. Except, of course, for Jacob and the Monster, because THEY NEVER EXISTED OUTSIDE OF THE ISLAND. Hence, the monster loses, and Jacob's endgame is to make neither of them ever exist. This is why babies generally cannot be born on the island, because the universe doesn't like paradoxes.

The whole last episode could have been this fantastic climax of destruction and apocalypse, with EVERYONE dying, except Desmond (who survives right up until the finish and who has the ability to cross between universes because of his exposure to the EM pulse) and he gets to explain exactly what happened to the Monster and why he's doomed to non-existence (Desmond secretly gets the explanation from Faraday in the new universe). The Monster, after having killed everybody and thinking he has succeeded, screams "Noooooo!!!!" as the old universe crumbles into oblivion. Faraday gets to explain everything to all the Losties who gather together at the concert, and now get to live the rest of their lives thanks to the proper application of science!

See how frigging easy that was? No god, no purgatory, no baloney, no cop out. You could even say that the "ghosts" on the island were just alternate universe echoes of people's stray consciousness skipping through time and space because the island was a nexus of time and space.

The writers were LAZY, and religious fantasy is NOT a substitute for actual science fiction. The end.
me 1977
Try to imagine my surprise when, upon receiving my "free leather wallet" for signing up for a premium account on Ars Technica, I found several cards inside the $29.00 value object reading "Christ Rules" in Greek script.

Is it Ars Technica's policy to back proselytizing religious organizations? Does Ars Technica care at all about its non-Christian readership? Jews, Muslims, pagans, atheists, Buddhists... the list can go on and on. Why on Earth would a news organization about science and technology want to back a non-secular commercial enterprise?

After finding the crypto-religious message, I immediately threw the wallet into the trash. I'm sick and tired of "well meaning" religio-fascists imposing their standards and values on me. You might as well have put an anti-choice advertisement with sad people and a fetus inside the package yourselves, because your money is undoubtedly ultimately backing the Christian Right's agenda. Yes, I'm sure some child in Rwanda is getting into an orphanage, and I'm equally sure the missionaries will tell that child that Jesus' love made it possible.

What a horrible, awful mistake you've made. I hope your editorial and business staff are capable of making more conscious choices in the future.

Pick Up Artistry, Games, and Rules

me 1977
Some of you know that I've been hitting the dating scene pretty hard the last couple months. Recently it seems like things have accelerated a bit; right after Valentine's Day this year, my profile on OKCupid started getting a LOT more attention. I'm generally blaming V-day for this phenomenon, even though I did make a few minor tweaks to my profile - if it was only the tweaks (some different photos and a few more daring words), the difference in attention is just astounding. We're basically talking about an order of magnitude in difference.

All of which brings me to the topic of this post: my opinion of all the classes and books and what-not that are being sold to teach people how to make their dating lives infinitely more complicated. Now I won't try to deny the power of psychology and manipulation. People who are really good at tweaking the perceptions of others succeed very well at getting people to go on dates with them, and even get into bed with them. All that is awesome, I say go ahead and go get what you want. But as for me, I'm not the kind of person who can have sex with just anybody; so there's no point in just going out and trying to get any random woman into bed with me. I don't enjoy that at all, that kind of thing just feels totally empty and unfulfilling.

I am actually terrible at doing manipulative stuff like this. I couldn't tell a lie to save my life. I frequently get manipulated by others. And I wouldn't succeed at manipulating someone who WANTED me to tell them what to do. And yes, I realize that there are people out there who market their techniques as responsible and good-natured, but when you get right down to it, all they're really teaching people to do is how to be coy and deceptive about their actual motivations and feelings. Some people call this "the chase" and quite a few people actually enjoy this back and forth game playing stuff. And there are many folks who actually say that this is the heart of dating itself, that this is exclusively what dating and courtship is all about!

My response to this is BULLSHIT. And my evidence to prove that it's bullshit, that everything that all these people have to sell you is a huge crock, is very simply this:

When you meet someone and you have chemistry with that person, everything goes completely out the fucking window.

When real chemistry kicks in, you stop caring about your requirements; it doesn't matter that the person is hairy, or blonde, or has green eyes or drives a Porsche. You ignore the rules you set down for yourself, you call the person whenever the hell you want, you just do ANYTHING YOU HAVE TO to spend time with that person that drives you crazy. A lot of the techniques people sell try to simulate chemistry, and fool people into thinking they have it with you; but inevitably that kind of thing runs out of steam, because you just can't fake the real thing, and then one or the other people involved just breaks things off and you move on.

The bottom line is that if you have no actual chemistry with a person, all the PUA and NLP and blah blah blah in the world isn't going to create actual love. It's not even going to create a fun dating situation. I suppose if all you care about is non-emotional, non-attached dating/sex, chemistry doesn't factor in at all and you'd have a vested interest in continuing to play with games and rules, and you probably would also get an equal amount of satisfaction out of using cucumbers and cutting holes in ripe melons.

Unfortunately, it's really hard to find real chemistry. It's an exceedingly rare thing. Plenty of people go through their entire dating lives and never encounter it, and all they ever experience is how it gets simulated with "the chase". It's no wonder people think that the games are all there is! Because not only is it hard to find chemistry, it's even harder to find mutual chemistry. Unrequited passion happens all the time, and people get rejected and they think "If only I had said the right thing, or done the right thing at the right time." But no, that's not how it works. You can't make somebody feel that spark with your deeds or words. It only comes if it's meant to be there, and no one, not even the people who feel it, have any control over it. All this pick up line crap and rule junk is just plain old hubris. Getting somebody interested in you via artificial means is not the path to real chemistry.

My dating handbook would be extremely simple: Go on dates. If there's mutual chemistry, keep dating; if not, move on ASAP. There's no reason to complicate things, or for anyone to feel bad about chemistry not happening. Real chemistry doesn't happen 9 times out of 10, maybe even 99 times out of 100! It's just not a big deal - it's only going out on a date for pity's sake. There's no reason to classify people's personalities or analyze their childhoods or past relationships, or come up with excuses as to why you can't see them again. If it's not there, it's not there, move on!! No need to unload your baggage or pick more up. No drama necessary.

As for the chapter in my dating handbook on how to deal with unrequited chemistry... um... yeah. Those pages would actually just be a bunch of blotchy tear-soaked ink stains and bad poetry. I have no fucking clue how to work that shit out, I doubt I ever will.

But I think that I am very lucky in that I have felt real chemistry, mutual and unrequited, several times in my life. I'm even starting to think that the reason I've gotten to experience it is because I lack the ability to hide my emotions and intentions. By making myself vulnerable and wearing my heart on my sleeve, I've managed to get involved with some amazing people who have changed my life, and as a result I know exactly what it is I'm looking for.

I hope I find it again soon. (And hopefully it will be the mutual kind)
me 1977
I'm really starting to wonder about this "NoSQL movement". Everything I've read so far seems to have a severe case of tunnel vision - the only database anyone mentions in these NoSQL articles is MySQL, and they discuss how they have all these issues scaling it... and gee, it really sucks that you can't easily make schema changes all the time when you're running in production, or add indexes, or what have you.

Well kids, I hate to say it but:

a) Spend a little more time on your database designs. The more you think out your design, the fewer changes you'll need to make later.
b) Figure out how to actually make a RELATIONAL database, use primary keys, try to actually take advantage of all the features of the system.
c) Learn when to normalize and denormalize your tables.
d) You probably don't need to go to the database every single time your user makes a request, so try and be a tiny bit more clever about caching and database connections.
e) Oh, and last but not least... use a database that CAN SCALE, like Oracle or SQL Server. Yeah, I know, they cost money, but guess what? You get what you pay for. All the Fortune 50 are using Oracle and SQL Server in production, and they don't complain about how it's not scaling.

None of these issues seems to be a particularly good rationale for abandoning the RDBMS / ACID paradigm. I guarantee that nine times out of ten developers who complain about the limitations of RDBMS could solve all of their problems by following any of the advice above, and the NoSQL technologies will only matter for extremely specialized cases. Look at what you sacrifice when you go this route:

"No schemas: NoSQL databases lack SQL's pre-defined table schemas, which makes changing data models simpler, but also offers no protection against invalid or outdated values in records." Are you high?

"No, or limited, data joins: generally speaking there are no built-in methods for chaining requests together in the style of SQL joins. Data denormalization must happen at the application layer." Man, sucks to be an end user! Oh, and how does it "solve" the problem if you're just moving the work from one layer to another?

"Restricted query interfaces: SQL is a mature and powerful query language, and the APIs available for NoSQL systems are not always as flexible. But, there are new capabilities here as well, such as CouchDB's flexible map-reduced based views." Wow, who cares? I'd like to be able to do a GROUP BY and not be worried that it's not implemented properly

I really don't see it. I mean, what problem are these guys solving, really? They're trying to create this whole new way of handling data that isn't robust, instead of using tools that actually work, just because they cost money? That's fine if you're a billion dollar company like Google or Amazon, who probably don't actually care whether or not their NoSQL projects succeed, but why spend all this time and money chasing a solution that will probably take decades of development and tuning?

The Selfish Gene (1976)

me 1977
"Digital computers are examples of large and versatile electronic devices which can be used for generating complex timed patterns of movements. The basic component of a modern electronic machine like a computer is the semiconductor, or which a familiar form is the transistor.

Survival machines seem to have bypassed the cam and the punched card altogether. The apparatus they use for timing their movements has more in common with an electronic computer, although it is strictly different in fundamental operation. The basic unit of biological computers, the nerve cell or neurone, is really nothing like a transistor in its internal workings. Certainly the code in which neurones communicate with each other seems to be a little bit like the pulse codes of digital computers, but the individual neurone is a much more sophisticated data-processing unit than the transistor. Instead of just three connections with other components, a single neurone may have tens of thousands. The neurone is slower than the transistor, but it has gone much further in the direction of miniaturization, a trend which has dominated the electronics industry over the past two decades. This is brought home by the fact that there are some ten thousand million neurones in the human brain: you could pack only a few hundred transistors into a skull." --Richard Dawkins

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