Monday, April 30, 2007

Personality Quiz!

For each question select the response that is most true of you.

1. Self-Defeating Arguments
When you get into a self-defeating argument with yourself, do you score it as ...
(a) a win?
(b) a loss?

2. Consideration
When considering a situation you pay more consideration to
the current situation and less to considering possible sequence of events
(a) yes
(b) no

Response time is a factor in this, so please answer as quickly as you can.

3. Family
Tell me in your own words only the good things that come into your mind when you think about your mother.
(a) My mother?
(b) Let me tell you about my mother.

4. Relationships
Do you feel that you have a difficult time relating to those who feel that it is difficult to relate to those who feel that those who allow themselves to be taken advantage of deserve to ...
(a) Read a book?
(b) Plan well in advance?

5. Security
Are you plagued by suspicions that other people, including loved ones, may be doing things behind your back that will end up hurting you?
(a) Yes
(b) Prefer not to answer

6. Honesty
In a social situation, is it better to
(a) Remain quiet out of fear of saying something stupid?
(b) Say something stupid?

7. Bravery
When scheduled to speak before a large group, do you
(a) Privately wish you could hide in the lavatory?
(b) In fact hide in the lavatory?

8. Conversation
When listening to a friend or coworker, do you tend to
(a) Patiently wait for him or her to gradually, painstakingly select each word?
(b) Push, strike, or squeeze the speaker in an effort to induce him or her to speak at a normal rate?

9. Reverence
Who is more likely to be trustworthy?
(a) Your spiritual leader
(b) Wilford Brimley

10. Hogwash
Should hogs be washed
(a) Daily?
(b) Weekly?

For every time you answered (a), deduct 2/3 of a point. For every time you answered (b), deduct 3/4 of a point. For every question you blew off, award yourself 1 point.

This test is a scientifically constructed amalgam of several tests available on the web.

Project WANNABE Science Staff

Top Fatuologist: Immargarination Key to Future

The first in an occasional series of columns from our Editor in Chief.

Greetings valued readers and others. (Strictly speaking my title is "Chief Editor in Chief" but I want to speak to you more informally today.) As a dovecote of genuses like George Gilder and Malcolm Gladwell, I temptation to as it the were dabble in fatuology myself is sometimes irrisible. Today's topic:

What will the next generation of blogs look like??/>?

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Project WANNABE. Bringing you today's future ... tomorrow.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Book Review: Batchmode by Michel Creton

Batchmode is a complicated techno-financio-thriller about the rise and fall of Thoughtspeed, a Silicon Valley startup leading a renaissance in artificial intelligence. I think Michel Creton is sort of a French Canadian Michael Crichton.

The founder of Thoughtspeed is a very high-powered experienced start-up expert (this is his fourteenth company, although he is not even that old). The founder has a brilliant friend who comes up with a technical plan to achieve artificial intelligence. The brilliant guy becomes the Chief Scientist of Thoughtspeed.

The company gets funded and they hire a few dozen Ph.D.s. The first big challenge comes when they start having a serious HR problem. One of the scientists reads through the business plan and suddenly starts acting like a loose cannon. This gets a little technical, but the guy insists that the metric prefix exa- really means 10 to the 18th power. Not 10 to the 9th power. But the Chief Scientist, who is a brilliant guy, put into the business plan that exa = 10 to the 9th power. So it's obviously mission critical to maintain that and not get distracted. And so people try to help the loose cannon guy get with the program but he just gets more and more shrill and crazy-sounding. Management tries to gently help him out by suggesting that he shouldn't be so bothered by a little bit of extra work, but he tries to shift the blame back on them: "10 to the 9th extra work? Do you understand what that means? You want people to work 40 billion hours a week?" Whatever. We've all known people like that, who let their own egos or laziness stand in the way of new ideas. Anyway, in a typical dumb career move the loose cannon guy quits in a huff.

BUT, in a startling plot twist several months later, the others discover that the loose cannon guy was actually right! So everything is off by 9. (Disclosure: I'm kind of a programming "geek" myself, and even being off by 1 can be a pretty big deal in computer science. So off by 9 is serious, trust me!)

The founder is concerned that the venture capitalists may get confused if he admits the mistake now. "The best thing for everybody is we go ahead with the demo," he explains. And it turns out the VCs are a lot better off not knowing, because they sell most of their stake to small investors in an initial public offering later on. So in the end the loose cannon behavior doesn't hurt anybody.

Fast forward to three years later. The scientists and engineers at Thoughtspeed have created a system that is functionally equivalent to the human brain. With great ceremony the CEO pushes "GO" and mankind literally enters a new era.

But the A.I. program is slower than originally planned. In fact, after two more years it has still only said "Uh...." By that time, money for all those expensive technical people has run out. So pretty much everybody gets laid off. In a really moving scene, an old security guard conveys management's heartfelt thanks for all the long hours. He even breaks down and admits that due to budgetary constraints he is required to escort himself out of the building once everyone else leaves.

And then before long unfortunately the execs have to pull the plug and give back all the rented cubicles and servers and stuff. Some funny moments when the Chief Scientist's necktie gets caught under a crumbling chipboard desk and he almost gets dragged onto Route 880 behind a Ryder van. "Holy shit, not again!" laughs the founder. "You want some advice? No matter how bad you need to take a leak, don't ever whip it out anywhere near a car door!" It sounds like startups must be a lot of fun.

But overall the book was kind of a rip-off. My main reason for buying the book was curiosity about what an artificial intelligence would really be like, personality-wise. But we never really find out. The author was too focussed on his techno-fetishes.

4 stars out of 11. Wait for the real thing.
PW Science Staff

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Plague Visits Denver

Don't pick up any squirrels.

My Fifteen Minutes

Garden State Some Poor Fuck's Favorite Movie -- The Onion

I hate to brag, but that was probably me. I loved Garden State.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Captain Scarlet

Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons TV intro (1967-68).

Support the Kant-Free Blog Zone Alliance

(Immanuel Kant Pic from Wikipedia Kant article. (Note: image has been modified.)

Done with college already? Wondering why you keep hearing about Immanuel Kant on the internet? So are we. Join the KFBZ Alliance and drive this moonbat back into the eighteenth century where he belongs.

Construct your own mash-up of the immortal philosopher. Project WANNABE Ventures Inc. will award a free guest blogging opportunity to the user who submits the best entry. Judges' decisions are final.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Welcome Pen Pals!


Unless I am even more absurdly misinformed than usual, we have had visits today from China, Sweden, Portugal, Brazil, Italy, Spain, even exotic Qu├ębec on the banks of the near-mythical Outaouais. I got our map (above) out of the car and noticed that there seem to be some really alarming whales, storms, monsters, etc., where most of you folks live. I hope you are coping with that stuff ok. We have bears, but nothing bigger than that, and nothing I would really call aquatic. On the plus side, we finally got our furnace fixed, so it's a lot warmer in here today.

So, anyway, welcome!

Movie Review: My B.U.D.D.I.

Martin Mipsy (William Shatner), a nerdy but endearingly unemployed scientist, is trying to invent "the first true artificial intelligence system" in his garage ... well, really in his basement, as the house lacks a garage. His whole family's feisty perseverence is established early -- in a brilliant scene Martin's wife, Babs (Holly Hunter), leads the couple's four small children in a high-spirited search for the family jalopy, poking broomhandles into head-high snowdrifts.

In his quest, Martin has the enthusiastic but erratic help of his elderly neighbor, Hal (Harvey Keitel), who is a genius with small engines &c., but no longer really belongs behind the wheel of a lawn tractor. (A hilarious cliffhanger ensues as a white-knuckled Keitel takes on a steep slope!)

But after a promising start, the film seems to become confused. Given all his hard work on the refrigerator-sized "box," why is Hal conspicuously absent when "the box" (B.U.D.D.I.) taps out its most exciting (albeit awkwardly spelled) early messages to Babs, the press, the Mayor and the Governor. Why isn't Keitel in those big scenes? Trouble on the set? It strains the viewer's credulity when Hal's dental appointments repeatedly coincide with the visits of increasingly impressive dignitaries. Can't he just reschedule??

When the creepy, arrogant team from A.P.E.M.E.A.T. show up with their jaded cynicism and batteries of "touring tests," they exude credibility -- decked out in spotless white lab coats and stethoscopes, they epitomize serious Artificial Intelligence Research in a way that the bluejeaned, bearded Martin plainly never will. Perhaps because of this, the audience is ready to side with the plucky underdogs Martin and Hal. But, puzzlingly, in this climactic scene, B.U.D.D.I. puts on an uncharacteristically lackluster performance. With their own reputations (and budget!) at risk, the experts are visibly reluctant to take Martin at his word that the B.U.D.D.I. is "just shy." Yet he and Hal do little to answer the scientists' openly skeptical remarks. When the scientists agree to conduct further testing remotely via the internet, they're clearly just throwing a sop to the desperate Mipsy -- a second try at a test B.U.D.D.I. has already failed once. Today's increasingly tech-savvy audiences, accustomed to the global village, won't swallow the idea that a computer would feel less shy just because people are physically farther away. Isn't it all just zeros and ones? We're left with a terrible feeling that Martin's brief professional Indian summer is already over.

If this reminds you of the bicycle race scene in Breaking Away, you're not alone. But then what to make of the bizarre tableau later that night, in which Martin and Hal raise their glasses and laugh as if in careless triumph? What's going on? I know what movie I came to see, but I don't think the director and cast knew what movie they were trying to make. And what's the story behind the ranks of empty bottles inside "the box" during the closing credits? Laph-? Talisk-? Glenliv-? I don't get it. Where's the array of supercomputers? Too many things are never explained.

Three stars out of seven. Save it for a first date.
PW Entertainment Staff

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

EnviroSphere Technology Takes a Step Forward

"I set about thinking of a way to publicise those who need pyschiatric help and came up with this." Via Fark.

I always wanted one of these. You could go anywhere. But it needs to be sealed up during cold weather, and to walk across inconvenient bodies of water. You just need a little hatch so you can push out the empty beer bottles as you roam around town.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Watch Out, T.J. Maxx!

From here.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Cute Video

I was super burned out from trying to think through stupid math stuff on the computer all week, and then I saw a video that really cheered me up. I think I'm probably the last person in the world to see these, but I'll post it anyhow.


What do you get when you bake a chocolate cake with pickle flavored icing?


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Why Computer Generated Music?

If you've ever tried composing music, the answer must be obvious.* What a grind, both mentally, emotionally and physically -- right, actually the grind has three components: mental, emotional, physical, and hygienic. And then even when I do get a decent idea, i can't come up with anything else to go with it. I just listen to it over and over at high volume and with more and more effects until I get "earsick" as my 4 y/o daughter calls it. (Except she loves the music she writes, thank God.) It's always such a relief to go scoop out the cat boxes, shovel snow, or make some bread. (My bread is pretty good.)

So my dream is that, in the future, computers will perform all creative work, leaving humanity free to spend all of our time on mindless, repetitive tasks.

*Unless you have talent or something. I don't want to hear about it. You'd be "happier somewhere else," in Jack Nicholson's voice as the Joker from Batman.

Monday, April 16, 2007

This Kinda Rocks!

"Computer music languages" should be really cool. There's one drawback -- it's surprisingly hard to make anything that anyone would actually want to listen to. But here's one that really works for me.

Darkest Hour, by Joyclyn Bennett From the jMusic site.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

I Have Seen the Future, and It Sucks

I can't ordinarily see the future. But, with Mike Judge's help, I can. Unfortunately.

I'm hesitant to apply the genre labels to the 2006 "science fiction" "comedy" Idiocracy. An impressive work of genuine prognostication, the film plods under the leaden weight of authentic foresight. If you really want to know exactly what the year 2505 will be like, watch it and take notes. If you want to be entertained ... not so much.

Comedy Update

Dose here.

(Found linked to another funny video posted on Chris V's Variety Blog.)