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|Wednesday, November 12th, 2008|
|Sandwich Hugs Inhibit Time Travel
It occurred to me whilst showering this morning that the reason we can't simply step backwards or forwards in time is because we're in the middle of an intimate sandwich hug with our self of a moment before and our self of a moment hence, and so are they. This would be true for all extended material objects (except for Bose-Einstein condensates). All the rocks, trees, houses; the earth, planets, asteroids, stars, etc. are embraced in sandwich hugs keeping them secure in the time stream. Makes me feel warm and cozy thinking of it, as my part of the planet moves into winter.
I'm sharing this amusing thought for fun, not as a serious physical theory, so please don't rush into criticism (or publication). Yet it's fun to explore it a bit. Feynman suggested that an isolated particle can make an angled turn which reflects it in time, exchanging a gamma ray, etc. to balance the energy and momentum; it continues happily along its "worldline" but now moving "backwards" in time. We see such a backwards-in-time-moving particle as an anti-particle moving "forwards" in time, i.e. along with us. We follow it along and observe its approach to a particle of the same class with which it annihilates, emitting a gamma ray, etc.
Looking at myself from outside of four-dimensional spacetime I appear to be an extended four-dimensional pink worm with extended fringes along its body. There is a long line of hair along one of the fringes. Cut the worm into slices and the fringes become arms, legs, a head with hair, etc. If you've never seen yourself from this point of view take a moment until you can see yourself as a 4D worm. Explore your birth (and before), your growth and your death, etc. Although the physical continuity of the worm along its time axis prevents it from changing its time direction (it is unable to make a sharp enough turn to avoid running into itself), perhaps energy could travel along the worm in the form of vibration. This was explored in the Heinlein short story Life-Line
. Thinking of the sandwich hug, though, perhaps I can make and receive some vibrations along the hug line, communicating with my past and future selves for fun and profit.
In preparation for trials of intertemporal communication, it might be a good idea to practice sending and receiving vibrations through some extended lines of sandwich hugs - I'll need some help here, any volunteers?
_Greg (aka Touch)
|Sunday, October 26th, 2008|
My post of a few minutes ago was the first time I've posted since December of last year. I *REALLY* need to shift my relationship with time. And I know that (a reasonable level of) journaling can help do that to some extent.
Love to all my friends on LiveJournal - I intend to be more present here.
|metaprogramming against boilerplate
I've been working with Lynn again on a technical project which has revived my enthusiasm for my own technical projects. We're doing most of the implementation inside of one of the more advanced relational database systems, PostgreSQL. What passes for advanced seems to me to be ancient and clunky. Our design is clean and beautiful. Our implementation would be seen as excellent by most programmers yet to me it is clunky with loads of boilerplate. Yesterday I got to the point where I just had to do something about it.
I spent Saturday writing a general metaprogramming facility inside of PostgreSQL, entirely with their standard languages SQL and PLSQL. I spent today cleaning it up and debugging it with unit tests. For it to prove worthwhile, I need to now use it to eliminate some of that boilerplate - but right now I'm pretty burnt out. Tomorrow I go back to producing immediate results. Somehow I have to put in another day or two to exploit this new level of power.
I've also had some wonderful houseguests this weekend. I spent some good time with them and would have loved to have spent more. I also stayed home hacking while everybody went to the Mutaytor concert Friday night and the Wet Spots concert last night. Both groups are particular favorites of mine. I do not at all regret my choices and at the same time I'm feeling stretched very thin. It seems that I used to be able to get a lot more done each week plus have more time to socialize. I think that I can profit from working on my relationship with time.
_Greg Current Mood: accomplished
|Monday, January 1st, 2007|
|2007 on approach
The party we were planning on going to has been canceled - maybe in solidarity with the people of Bangkok, but probably not. I plan to toast the arrival of 2007 from our hot tub.
The revolutionary software system I've been working on since mid-2005 is still not done, but it is getting really close now. My emotional reactions to the impending transition from development to what comes next have been all over the map - and I still have to finish the development.
2006 has been a good year in terms of love, intimacy, family, friendship, community and productivity. It has been a year of quiet growth. 2007 promises to be a year of more action with the unfolding of plans long in the making.
Happy New Year dear friends and interested others!
_Greg Current Mood: pensive
|Thursday, December 21st, 2006|
|Giving TheOpenCD for Xmas
What does a geek give for Xmas?
One of the gifts I'm giving is copies of TheOpenCD
is a collection of excellent Open Source Free Software
especially prepared for those of our friends who use the Microsoft Windows Operating System.
If you're a bit of a geek and want to help your friends and also support free software, you might consider doing the same. They look pretty in their colored jewel cases.
_Greg Current Mood: happy
|Saturday, November 11th, 2006|
|What an extraordinary outome! Thank you!
I am so proud of all of us who made possible the extraordinary outcome of the 2006 US elections! I'm proud of everyone who went and voted despite their fear that their vote might not be counted, their disgust at the limited choices and their fear that it was all hopeless! I'm so proud of everyone: citizen or not, voter or not, who helped one or more people understand the unhealthy authoritarian - not conservative! - Republican power bloc for what it had become, and the importance of resisting it. I'm proud of us!
I'm grateful towards everyone who participated in every way, because: It took every single one of us, It took everything we did and not a jot less. Tipping the balance in the Senate was too much to expect, too much to hope for, and was desperately needed! A bit less work in any of a number of places and we would have failed. If you voted, if you encouraged someone to vote, if you helped someone be less alienated, if you resisted becoming alienated yourself: Thank you, thank you, thank you! I'm proud of the true conservatives, the true liberals, the people of any party and of no party: Thank you!
I was in England when Reagan was elected. I could hardly believe it. As things gradually got worse and worse, with only a brief and temporary reversal during Clinton's first term, I felt like part of my world was being darkened and destroyed. Now there is a possibility of a recovery, a real foundation for participation. The new politicians who will be "in charge" are a mixed bunch. They will need strong citizen input to encourage them to fly right. But they are likely to listen now! And I'm including the incumbent Republicans - they are more inclined to listen and less inclined to march in lock-step with the neocons.
Let's celebrate a lot! And while we're celebrating, let's start dreaming and planning and communicating about how we're going to heal the rifts in the United States and in the world we share. I'm particularly keen on restoring and enhancing transparency in all government operations, and eventually in the operations of all corporations. Open systems tend to be self-correcting.
Love yourself and love each other! We've got our world back!
_Greg Current Mood: ecstatic
|Monday, November 6th, 2006|
|Republican pretexting warning and get out the vote
Dear friends who are American citizens,
It seems that the Republican National Committee has gotten desperate enough to do something risky as well as nasty: Massive annoying autodialer calls which seem to be from the democratic candidate. This practice violates the laws on spam calls but there is insufficient time to challenge it before the election. It is important to get the word out about this to friends and family. I've been following the simple practice of paying no attention to any
call that is not a person. Here are some links if you want more information:Slashdot: Republican Robocall Pretexting CampaignNew York Times: New Telemarketing Ploy Steers Voters on Republican Path
It will take a lot of time and work to get the majority of American voters to respect anyone I would really like to have in office, but in the meantime, harm reduction is essential. People throwing away their vote in disgust is what led to the Spanish Civil War, which gave everyone decades under Franco. Please vote tomorrow if you haven't already, and support everyone else in voting too!
|Sunday, October 15th, 2006|
|Thursday, September 14th, 2006|
|I'm such a fool
OK, for the last six months I've been completely misunderstanding the PostgreSQL backend's memory allocation system. I tend to understand poorly documented systems by assuming they are well designed and filling in the pieces. When it turns out to be crap, I fall face down in it. I think I've got it and everything in my test frame seems to work, but do I trust myself yet? Can I now finish the work I've been rescheduling for the last six months? Outch. I'm completely wired and need to settle down.
|Thursday, August 17th, 2006|
|Balancing work and Burning Man
I'm working as steadily as I've been able on my big software project. I'm making slow but real progress. I've been willing to make a serious plan with deadlines because (jumping up and down with excitement) I'm leaving for Burning Man in little more than a week. I have a great life and I stress more than is good for me.
|Monday, July 24th, 2006|
|Whose fault is it?
I keep hearing people trying to decide whose fault things are, e.g. the current mess in Lebanon. The problem is they seem to think that assigning fault to one party lets other parties (generally including the group they belong to) off the hook. On the contrary, I assert that:
It is obviously Hezbolla's fault for instigating this piece of the ongoing war.
It is obviously Israel's fault for reacting in a way that is not only inhumane but generates more enemies than it kills (just like us after 9/11).
It is obviously the fault of those groups that have been encouranging and arming the militants in the region, including Syria, Iran and another hundred countries which encourage their weapons-industries to sell to people who are likely to use weapons for offensive purposes.
It is obviously the fault of every leader of every country who could offer abundant resources to separate the combatants and grow the economies and democratic structures of the regions which breed terrorism out of their discontent. This definitely includes every European country.
It is obviously the fault of the US for inciting hatred all across the middle east and for justifying and glorifying over-reaction and denegrating peace work.
It is obviously my fault if I take any more time writing this before writing to my representatives to insist that they be immediately and visibly active towards creating peace and standing against fault-finding and retribution mentalities.
|Wednesday, July 19th, 2006|
|Happy Birthday to Me!
This birthday does not seem like a big deal. When I get further along on my key projects, then I'll feel like celebrating the passage of time; right now, it seems that I'm in a pleasant between-times.
Yet some celebratory mood has been building. The books and clothes I ordered from wish lists have been coming in, a couple of packages each of the last few days. I have cards and presents from my sister and mother - the remains of my family of origin. My wonderful family-of-choice is fixing me a special Birthday dinner, and there will probably also be more cards and a few more presents.
Feel free to wish me Happy Birthday, Dear Readers! Also, in case you missed it, I was hoping for more comments on my recent post about Mainstream vs. Alternative value systems
Love to me and love to you!
|Tuesday, July 18th, 2006|
|Caring for Your Introvert
In case you hadn't seen this great article, here's the link:
Caring for Your Introvert
I don't fit the profile of either introvert or extrovert very well. I don't generally get fatigued by being around other people. On the other hand, I prefer a bookstore over a bar 99 times out of 100!
|Monday, July 17th, 2006|
I decided to celebrate my upcoming birthday by ordering a number of books on my Amazon and other vendors wishlists. The books and other items are starting to come in, making every day this week seem like Xmas (the celebration of the unknown variable X).
A computer programming book I've been looking forward to just arrived; in the preface it has a wonderful quote:
All expression comes from within outward, from the center to the surface, from a hidden source to outward manifestation. The study of expression as a natural process brings you into contact with cause and makes you feel the source of reality. - Samuel Silas Curry
It is interesting and weird (in the original meaning) that Samuel Silas Curry (1847-1921) was the father of Haskell Curry (1900-1982) who invented/discovered much of the theory of Functional Programming before any computer programming languages were invented. Two of the nicest and most modern functional programming languages are named after him: Haskell and Curry.
|Thursday, July 13th, 2006|
|Mainstream vs. Alternative
I've been enjoying reading
Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mind
and it has made me more sensitive to my tendency to look at myself and others as belonging to tribe-like groups. And how unlike the groups some people
belong to, I belong to groups composed of (ahem!
) virtuous people with enlightened values!
I often talk and write about "mainstream culture" vs. "alternative culture". These are super-abstract generalizations of the values and behavior of large numbers of people. A LiveJournal friend recently asked me:
"Is there a sharp line between your alternative culture and the mainstream?"
What a great question! I would like to answer it authentically, as a geek who travels in lots of cultures and thinks alot about these things. And then ask y'all to chime in with your notions about these things. Let me not presume you find this topic interesting right now.( Read more...Collapse )
|Monday, July 3rd, 2006|
|An Inconvenient Truth - go see it ASAP
Our family is pretty knowledgeable about global warming and we were not in a hurry to go see the movie. A friend strongly encouraged us to go see the movie as soon as possible. We saw it tonight. I think that it is a brilliantly designed and executed documentary. It is designed to rouse Americans into action, yet it is not another propaganda piece. It presents a rational argument based on good scientific evidence, ethics based on shared values and opportunities for practical action. If you are a well-informed geek like me, you may quibble with a few details, but the thrust of the argument is sound and the import is huge.
If you are an American and haven't seen it, I urge you, as my friend urged us, to go see it ASAP, while it is in theaters and you are in a position to then urge your friends and family to see it. If you are not an American you will probably want to see it anyway to better understand what is going on in this seemingly benighted country.
_Greg Current Mood: inspired
|Thursday, June 8th, 2006|
In the last month I have been in Los Angeles, San Jose, Lake County (Harbin Hot Springs), Santa Barbara, three days at home and then New York City (Manhattan), Toronto and Montreal. I have been unable to make much progress on the creative project which I say is my #1
priority. This is frustrating and yet predictable. I very much want to get back into that project.
In the meantime, I have gotten the requisites to teach three new training courses, which means I'll be able to earn a bit of money. This will take some of the pressure off of our finances and hopefully reduce S's stress level. On the other hand, it means more distractions. If I have a light teaching load, perhaps it will create a dynamic balance that will be more productive than simply having lots of "free" time. Balance, yeah!
In the meantime, I've read Daniel Dennett's new books Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
and Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness
and I'm in the middle of David Berreby's wonderful Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mind
and the last volume of Neal Stephenson's massive trilogy The Baroque Cycle
, which I've been reserving for long plane flights.
I also ordered a few important technical books while I've been traveling and now I am faced with a surfeit of things I would like to read immediately, but which will take significant time and attention.
Abundance is challenging, yet far preferable to the alternative. I so often find that my complaints sound like bragging that I've coined the term bragplaining.
_Greg Current Mood: jetlagged
|Friday, May 12th, 2006|
|The Baroque Cycle
I just finished volume two of Neal Stephenson's trilogy The Baroque Cycle
. I didn't dare start the series until my trip to Europe gave me all that time sitting on airplanes. I expected to be hooked and to a degree I am. As I expected, it is an extraordinary and enriching read, well worth my setting aside my usual aversion to long novels and especially to multi-volume long novels. It covers the development of the modern world in a highly evocative and insightful way. I recommend it for those who have not read any of his other works. This work may well be celebrated as his best, but I consider his earlier and shorter works to be better and worth your first attention. Of course the last volume may change my mind, and I'll let you know if it does.( Read more...Collapse ) Current Mood: creative
|Thursday, May 4th, 2006|
|Wednesday, April 12th, 2006|
|Low level systems programming is horrid!
Warning: Non geeks are unlikely to find this post interesting.
I have a clean high-level design for a new kind of web server framework. PostgreSQL, my favorite RDBMS, plays a major part in it. One of the reasons I chose PostgreSQL is because of its unusually extensible design. And I've just spent several days implementing a very simple extension. I'm pleased I've done it. I'm appalled at how much time its taken for such a small thing.
Part of the problem is a low level programming model. Part of the problem is sketchy documentation. Both of these things are normal for systems programming. It is bad enough when I'm programming to an API for a procedural system, but RDBMSs are relational. They are supposed to be paragons of clean, well-typed declarative programming.
As soon as one strays from the most basic SQL code the type system begins to break down. Domains are only partially type-checked. Reference checks do not automatically work for inherited types nor for array types. Many common operations can't be done with SQL functions, so must be written in a sequential procedural language opaque to the query optimizer and even more weakly typechecked. New types must be at least partially implemented in C, with a poory documented low level API. Outside of SQL, none of these APIs are relational!
I've overcome all of these obstacles. I've written some nice code to make extensions much easier for anyone to do this kind of thing in the future. I look forward to giving all of this innovation away. And I want to facilitate constructive criticism and improvement for these kinds of systems. Sheesh!
P.S. Lest I give an impression that PostgreSQL is worse than comparable systems; no, its actually better. Double sheesh!