Monday, October 31, 2005

Adventures in Gnarly Computation

Rudy Rucker, entertaining as always. A sample:

If we suppose that many natural phenomena are in effect computations, the study of computer science can tell us about the kinds of natural phenomena that can occur. Starting in the 1980s, the scientist-entrepreneur Stephen Wolfram did a king-hell job of combing through vast seas of possible computations, getting a handle on the kinds of phenomena that can occur, exploring the computational universe.

Simplifying just a bit, we can say that Wolfram found three kinds of processes: the predictable, the random-looking, and what I term the gnarly. These three fall into a Goldilocks pattern:

•Too cold (predictable): Processes that produce no real surprises. This may be because they die out and become constant, or because they’re repetitive in some way. The repetitions can be spatial, temporal, or scaled so as to make fractally nested patterns that are nevertheless predictable.

•Too hot (random-looking): Processes that are completely scuzzy and messy and dull, like white noise or video snow. The programmer William Gosper used to refer to computational rules of this kind as “seething dog barf.”

•Just right (gnarly): Processes that are structured in interesting ways but nonetheless unpredictable. In computations of this kind we see coherent patterns moving around like gliders; these patterns produce large-scale information transport across the space of the computation. Gnarly processes often display patterns at several scales. We find them fun to watch because they tend to appear as if they’re alive.


Friday, October 21, 2005

More more more!

Via Posthuman Blues:

Best Writing Assignment EVAR! (Or "Tandem Writing is All Fun and Games until Someone Gets Hit by a Lithium Fusion Missile. While Drinking Chamomile Tea.")


Also, in response to another of Mac's posts:

New product could dry up hurricanes instantly

It's worked on rainclouds thus far.

Storm experts in the US have made a cloud vanish from the sky for the first time.

They achieved the feat by sprinkling a water-absorbing powder over the cloud, making it disappear from sight and weather station radar screens. They hope the powder will one day dry up deadly hurricanes and tropical storms

And ...

Each grain of the powder, called Dyn-O-Gel, is capable of absorbing 2000 times its weight in moisture, condensation and rain. Each molecule of powder can hold several molecules of water. The wet powder becomes a gel.

The company's founder appeared on the news yesterday even and gave a demonstration. This stuff seems to work.
The fuel of the future is iron – Mmmm ... fiction fodder ...


The worms what feed on whale bones - Apparently, their latinate name translates to "bone-eating snot-flower". You'll see why.

Today's Penny Arcade: The wonderful prequel to this, Ico, passed me by. That's not gonna happen with this one. For damn sure.


Forgive me, Reader, for I have sinned. My name is Chinedum and I am a link-hopper.

May posterity forgive me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Lighthearted Greeting Children, Sequential Art!

Wednesday October 19 2005 :

X-Men #176 - Wild Kingdom 3 of 4: Laughably stupid, disgustingly bad. Storm was ridiculous, T'Challa was worse, simply awful. It caused me physical pain ...

She-Hulk #1 - ... which was thankfully salved by this lovely lovely gem. I didn't look at the writer's name but it does seem to have the same delightful flavour as the previous series. Also, Jen is no longer anywhere near helpless in her de-Hulked state. Good stuff.

Birds of Prey #87 - The ultimate superhacker showdown - Oracle vs. Calculator. We get insights into the latter's means of upkeep/keep-up - he has a selective serotonin somethingorother habit. Interestingly enough, Owlman does something similar (See: JLA: Earth 2). Seems like villains will always take the easy path (Of course, the heroes tend to have unfair advantages i.e. Batman and Oracle's photographic memories). In other news, Helena was cool, Zinda is dealing with her time-displacement really well but definitely cruising for a breakdown and Oracle is happier than I've ever seen her. Nice touch with Dinah too (See: the Lady Shiva Diet for Budding Ubertacular Martial Artists).

Ultimate Fantastic Four #24: Introducing Momma Storm, who is ridiculously hot (I guess we know what Ultimate Sue is gonna look like about ten years ) and at the same time, deliciously cold.

I'm in love of course.

Speaking of Sue, Millar might be going overboard in making her Reed's intellectual equal - I thought she was a biology whiz, yet he has her building a zero-gravity playpen when she was like seven. That's not right, is it? Oh yeah, and they visit Ultimate Atlantis.

My only beef with this arc is Mark Millar's stupid stupid Zombiecalypse plague. Thor of all people got infected - I mean, he's Thor for crying out loud! And they're seriously gonna regret keeping Zombie Reed in custody - that's just a colossally bad idea.


Last but not least, it appears someone liked the Zombiecalypse a hell of a lot more than I did. Jeez.

Monday, October 17, 2005

On Writing Online ...

... Jon Scalzi had this to say.

To be entirely honest about it, however, if you are going to take the time and effort to put your writing online, I think it's far less useful to put your fiction online than it is to spend some time creating an interesting blog and cultivating an audience for it. This is not an "either/or" situation, of course, as I have done both. But I will say that one of these you should do first, and that's to work on your blog.

This is true and partly why I've only been posting snippets up till now, "sprinklefiction" I believe I called it. Unless of course you have someone in your corner with a big enough fanbase that, at their command, said fanbase will flock over to you in obedience to their Lord and Master. (Yes, Warren Ellis, I'm looking at you).

Otherwise, you're better off getting yer own fans.

Blogs are fabulous marketing tools because what they're good for is getting people involved with you as a writer; they're tuning in to read what's going on in your head and in your life, and to a very real extent are sharing your life with you.

AND (from the comments)

But the best audience response always comes from ordinary blogging and regular "here's my real life" entries. "Hey, today I ate half a wheel of mozzarella cheese dipped in vinegrette because I was depressed" beats out "you can also buy my book here" any day of the week.

Now this I disagree with - on a personal level at any rate. For the most part, I really couldn't care whether or not an author's cat puked all over their children's bedsheets, be it today or yesterday. Outside their writing, I just don't really wanna know. You are an author. I am a fan. If you're posting interesting links, cool. First drafts, first pages, word-counts, clever quotes, worldbuilding notes or complete stories? Awesome. You have my undivided attention. Personal lives? Tell me about that when and if we ever become friends.


Yep. That's all I have to say right now. Move along everyone, show's over.

Oh and he reads Penny Arcade. Did I mention I like this guy?

More linksaladlistpostlist

New tissue 'grown within minutes'

I'm genuinely curious as to why they have that in quotes. I mean, seriously, was it really necessary?

From BBC Science and Nature

Cell phone could identify its owner by their walk: Argh, the pointlessness! It burns me so.


China’s pair of spacemen land safely: As long as someone's on the ball, I'm not really bothered as to who. Naive? You be the judge.

Both of the latter from New Scientist

Friday, October 14, 2005

Every Day is for the pwn3d, but one day is for the pwn3r ...

... I crave a t-shirt that says "Chronic Backstabbing Disorder". I crave it like blood.

"Support the pwn3d" wouldn't go down too badly neither.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

To steal a term from Elizabeth Bear: Link Salad.

Charlie Stross on Biometrics: Stross goes into assorted horrific implications of this insidious new tech i.e. ways in which criminals could use it against mere mortals like myself (and presumably you).

Hmph. And you thought your future was scary.


Carnivores vs. the extreme end of the herbivore curve: This. Is. AWESOME!

Don't worry if you can't read Russian. I sure as hell don't.

It would appear this is a bumper month for bizarrely cool animal news.


Black magic may have driven a Cambodian couple to bite off their daughter’s thumb nails and suck her blood, officials said Sunday: Oh, this is so going into a Warren Ellis comic soon.

- Both via Warren Ellis


Monday, October 10, 2005

Not one, but four cars won the DARPA challenge

A robotic Volkswagen called “Stanley”, developed by a team from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, won a $2 million prize on Sunday for winning a tough desert race of driverless vehicles.

And in a stunning improvement on 2004’s Grand Challenge, when no car completed more than 5% of the course, four other vehicles also finished. The 212-kilometre race across the Nevada desert is set by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

“These vehicles haven't just achieved world records, they have made history,” says DARPA director Tony Tether

No kidding. Independent planetary rovers, smart rescue vehicles, to say nothing of the military applications - all in all, w00t!!

Sunday, October 09, 2005


i think that's him on the right. could be wrong though.

In the course of assorted Boddhisattva-related research, I came to an awkward but damn near certain solution:

The Buddha is one boring dude.

All that power and knowledge, infinite awareness back and forth through time for millions of kalpa and e doesn't do a damn thing with it. Thankfully for my fictional purposes, I stumbled onto Mahamaudgalyayana. A student of the Buddha, he attained the rank of Arhat i.e. one level (or two, depending on which form of Buddhism to which you subscribe) removed from Buddha emself - within seven days of hooking up with the crew. He also went on to blow right past all the other students, becoming the foremost supernatural practitioner of his day.

Other students of the Buddha were content to regurgitate whatever they were taught by rote. Not him; he was empirically-minded and isht. Maudgalyayana constantly tested the limits of reality and his own impressive powers. For instance, the time he travelled to the farthest edges of the multiverse to see if there was anywhere that the voice of the Buddha couldn't not reach; turns out there isn't. At least, he got to meet some vastly posthuman giants in the process.

Then there was the whole incident with his mother (who, incidentally should have known better than to insult the Buddha - ridiculously powerful, strangely-similar-in-response-to-Old-Testament-God beings are not to be fuxx0r3d with). Maudgalyayana certainly tended to show a lot more kindness and humanity than that ascetic teacher's pet Sariputra.


Long and short: while I don't have the skillz or the knowledge to do him justice yet, I'm going to write a book - or comic or something - starring this dude one day.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Only a Master of Chicken, Darth ...

Anyone seen the TV ads for this nonsense? You have a cubicle drone, an assembly-line drone and a road worker drone all leaping to their feet and going "I'm in charge!" because they get to "Be the Boss" and "Choose their Sauce".

Dance, plebian monkeys, dance ...

Monday, October 03, 2005

Thank You Mario, But Your Princess is in Another Castle

catherynne valente

Warren Ellis was once asked (well, not once but you get the picture) where he got gets his ideas. In the process of replying, he expressed the hot crazy sensation that inspired writing can bestow, the "... shivering, laughing and glowing in the dark" that a writer experiences every once in a three-in-the-morning, when you've just had An Idea.

Now imagine a writer that can make you feel that by reading her stuff.

catherynne valente

The article in the subject link was my introduction to her. After all, it's not every day that someone links a playthrough of Super Mario Bros. with Buddhist cosmology. Awesome.

Like most other people, I tend to like people whose memeplex, in the main, either complements or duplicates my own. In this instance, hers features several of my interests : ancient Japan, comparative mythology, f*@king around with the English language and so on. My only beef with her is her preference for the Heian era, but then again, she's a she. And a poet. It comes as no surprise and against her I hold it not.

catherynne valente

Until I've read more than mere excerpts, it remains to be seen whether, like Paul Evan Hughes, she can walk the fine line between brilliance and pretension or whether (like Paul Evan Hughes) she will often fall over on either side of said line. Whatever the case, I'll be keeping an eye on this one.