Friday, December 14, 2007

Huckabee is getting popular. As governor, Huckabee increased spending over 60%. CATO (libertarian think tank) gives him an F. Huckabee wants to double PEFAR (AIDS funding), but in the past, he suggested isolating people with AIDS (though doesn't any more). Huckabee seems to be a Creationist. He says homosexuality is aberrant, unnatural, sinful, and poses a dangerous public health risk.

But he's suddenly a viable candidate to stop Giuliani. And with the current political climate, I'm more concerned about dictators, even ones with happy liberal policies on domestic issues.

Of course, I may change my tune very quickly when he starts sending gays to the gas chambers. (Hey, if he can make absurd holocaust comparisons, why can't I?)

Problem: I have no idea whether Huckabee is also a dictator.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

One night after falling asleep, I dreamt about the Death Star from Star Wars. Looked just like it.

What's amazing is that I'm not alone. Dozens, nay, thousands of people have had similar dreams. They lose consciousness and then have vivid perceptions of large, spherical space stations of similar size and design, and often it's called a 'Death Star' by people in the vision.

This is an amazing coincidence, and I think we can take it as proof positive that the Death Star truly exists.

NO, WAIT. That's stupid. The Death Star appears in a very widely-known piece of fiction. It's an established piece of culture. People think about such things, go to sleep, and then dream about them. This doesn't even begin to suggest that any such entity actually exists. That's one of the dumbest things I've ever heard.

Now try this one on for size:
'Lots of people in near-death situations, upon losing consciousness, see angels or a bright light telling them it's not their time yet, as can be found in numerous works of popular culture. Therefore, such things really exist.'.

Dreaming about something does not prove it exists, kid!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Over by the office furniture in Office Depot, they have nice big pictures on the wall, seemingly advertising the chairs and desks. Nice, shiny expensive chairs and fancy wooden desk.

...on top of which rest 20-year-old computers. An old Apple, complete with the ugly mouse, an old IBM-Compat. with a green monochrome CRT displaying a text terminal...

Maybe they're just really old pictures for decoration,not modelling any current merchandise.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Person how are the people in antartica not upside down?
Person [States his name because multiple people use the account.]
Luca Consider the definitionof 'down'.
Luca We use a spherical coordinate system.
Person but the people are on the bottom of the earth.
Luca Now consider the definition of 'bottom'.
Luca You've switched frames of reference.
Luca Down is toward the centre of the Earth, not toward the South Pole. Do you consider yourself to be sideways?
Person and why arent we sliding off the earth?
Luca Because there isn't a super-massive black hole just south of the Earth pulling on us but not the Earth.
Luca See, here's the thing: the Earth has mass. zOMG!
Person no. but looking at a globe makes it confusing.
Luca Yeah, if you're from the middle ages.
Person i still dont get it.
Luca How old are you?
Person 16. im just a bit... slow. besides no teacher has ever explained this. they just tell us that the worlds not flat.
Luca You've heard of gravity?
Person nevermind i get it now.
Luca And I was just about to draw you an illustration.
Person yeah. i get it now. since gravijy is from the center of the earth everything works out.
Person awww man. i want to see an illustration. i dont get it anymore
Luca Down is defined as the direction the arrows point.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The dogwood tree out my window is apparently home to a black bird with white-tipped wings.

A somewhat territorial bird.

It also seems to be a popular resting space for the passing flocks of migrating birds, much to his distress.

Monday, November 05, 2007

According to the wrapper of the fortune cookie I had at lunch today: Serving Size: 1 Package (43g/6 Cookies)

Who eats six fortune cookies?

Brian Regan does. (Autoplaying video)

(Front: :-) You believe in the goodness of mankind. :-)
Back: Daily Numbers 2 2 1
Lotto Six #'s 43 24 31 20 27 38

Saturday, October 27, 2007

(Potentially relevant link)

When you look up a word that 'may be inappropriate for children' ('cunt' and 'shit'. Not 'bitch'), Webster's Online Dictionary: Rosetta Edition requires that you enter a 'password':

The answer to any of these questions is a valid password for this page:

1. Cher's former partner's last name (4 letters)

2. The cube root of twenty seven (5 letters)

3. The "incident" before the Vietnam War (6 letters)

4. The theory that physiology and physics are drivers of economics (15 letters)

5. A good mustard (5 letters)

Because no child can figure out the cube root of 27, right?

By the way, if you can't figure out any of the answers, don't worry. Doing so simply forwards you to the definition of the word followed by '1', so you can circumvent it by looking up 'cunt1', 'shit1', 'cock1'...

Friday, October 26, 2007

'What is sauerkraut, anyway? Is it like it's own vegetable?' -- Girl working at the Swiss Chalet. Where they have sauerkraut.

Unfortunately I didn't hear Tom's reaction.

My point--or not really, but I'll make one up just now--is that she could still be smarter and more general-knowledgeable than you or me. Everyone has missing bits of general knowledge, and sauerkraut is hardly the most significant any of us have. Last week I was surprised to discover that American College football isn't played only on Sundays, but also on Saturdays. (Oh, I'm sure I knew that. They kick good TV off for football every day of the week, but I don't really think about football.)

I'm too lazy to go on and on about it.

(Liberty cabbage!)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I just watched a few bits of the new Bionic Woman.

What an incredibly bad show.

Acting: Really, really bad. And over-dramatic. But this is partly the fault of:
Writing: Really, really bad. Very insipid and extremely over-dramatic. But this is partly the fault of:
Diretion: Really, really bad. Or maybe this is just what happens when you hire a bunch of non-actors to perform scripts written by a bunch of non-writers.

Boycott? Gladly.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I was just switching around the mice on ZombieComp when I noticed the very-little-used GE PS/2 mouse has a warning label on the bottom informing us that it contains lead, so wash your hands after using it.

It doesn't work anyway. I attached the optical USB mouse I used to use on my laptop, and an old PS/2 that isn't working too well. The USB seems okay on the mousepad, but in my experience it sometimes goes crazy for a bit.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

You know how you're arguing with someone and they'll start contradicting themselves or denying having said such and such? Often I'm able to give verbatim or near-verbatim quotes from them, since this is often only thirty seconds after they said it, but sometimes I can't and never will they admit to having said it.

For a while I was thinking I should carry around an audio recorder for such situations.

I don't know what the heck I was thinking with that idea. If you've ever argued with the run-of-the-mill Internet user, you know having an irrefutable log of the entire conversation sitting right there on the screen is meaningless. They'll deny ever having made c/p'd quotes, or claim it means something else entirely. I few minutes ago someone said to me I meant that if it required 6 million Jews to be killed and many more to be starved and be sent to concentration camps for the creation of Israel, then how the hell does it only take 3.5 hours of abuse for one girl to get 6.1 million USD., deny linking the p and q, and then ask me Er, how is it a if p then q? when I reposted the quote.

Gee, I don't know. Maybe because it says 'IF p THEN q'?

Contrary to what one might think, these people aren't trolls, and they don't suffer from lack of memory. They're just beyond all reason.

Monday, October 01, 2007

(Potentially relevant link)

My last attempt to solicit exorbitant quantities of money from my readers resulted in a grand total of 0DKK (which is still equal to 0USD, even with the improved exchange rate). Alas! Alack!

Okay, you people refuse to give me money for posting on my blog. Makes sense I haven't been posting on my blog.

So here's what I'ma do: I'm going to walk 5km (so far! I know! They make me sign a waiver and everything in case I die!) and you rich people will donate money to help feed the poor starving people who also have to walk 5km each day to get food.

WTF? No, really, that's the logic. *shrug*

Money goes to such-and-such. Notice how I'm not on that list. How sad. And I'm the one doing all the work. (A leisurely walk counts as work, right? No? Then I'll walk really, really fast. Usually I'm the first walker to finish. Some people run. Cheaters.) Okay, I do get something out of it: a t-shirt1 and some food.

But when signing up on the website, I said something about designating 'UUSC', because I'm with UUCG (though not an actual member; poo on religion). I don't think I was supposed to, but they're unclear. I also had to enter my CC info twice because they screw up if you don't have JavaScript on for their domain (NoScript: use it!) but I only paid once, it appears, so that's cool. Anyway, UUSC is good people, I suspect.


Last year the UUCG teens performed a CROP Walk miniplay showing how to ask for donations. To paraphrase (and skipping the intro):
Wrong way:
Nicolas: 'Hey, do you want to support the...oh, never mind'
*walks off, leaving the potential donor (my dad) shrugging most hammishly*
Right way:
Lilani: 'Hey would you like to donate money to fight hunger?'
Feryl: 'Sure! Here's money!'
Lilani: 'Gee whiz, thanks mister!' (No, that wasn't quite how it happened in the script, but improv comes naturally to the most witty of us.)
Scary thought
Sometimes potential donors ask stupid questions.
Right way with scariness
What's-her-name (d'oh!): 'Hey would you like to donate money to fight hunger?'
Potential donor: Who? What? Why?
What's-her-name: The CROP Walk is blah blah blah.
Potential donor: Why should we donate money to fight hunger elsewhere when we have hunger right here in North Carolina?
What's-her-name: That's a good question!2 Blah blah blah, one quarter of the money blah blah blah.
Potential donor: Okay, then.

Top fundraisers!

I was just looking at the Greenville, NC CROP walk page and I'm listed as the #2 fundraiser. Because I pledged 20USD for my own walk. Karon O'Sullivan (#1) has 230.00USD. Ohnoes, I'm losing! Quickly, go donate 210.01USD to my walk! Go on, you know you want to enter your credit card number into some strange website. Who wouldn't?

'5km is nothing.'

Fine, donate money and comment telling me to do it twice, and I will. 10km. Wow, so very far.

1 In 2004(?), they had extra t-shirts, so they in 2005(?) they reused 2004 t-shirts, and pretty much no one notices.
2 No, that's a bloody idiotic question.

Monday, September 24, 2007

This weekened I was mostly without an Internet connection, and the question of the details of the Dred Scott v. Sandford case came up.

So I looked up Dred Scott in Encyclopædia Britannica, except it wasn't under 'Dred' or under 'Scott'.

Wikipedia, however, has it. Lots on it. And if you misspell it as 'Dread Scott' or 'Dred Scot', you get instantly redirected, and it's much faster than Britannica, especially since--did I mention this?--it's not even in Britannica.

If fools read this blog, they'd probably be thinking right now, 'Ah, but you didn't have access to Wikipedia because it's only online, whereas Britannica can be used anywhere!' But it's a lot easier to carry around a laptop with either the en cur articles only (~2.8GB compressed) or one of those cute 'use the mobile phone network' cards. Britannica was where I was, but if I had wanted this information elsewhere I'd be out of luck. Britannica is heavy. And bulky. Can't tote it around with me where ever I go.

(The online Britannica does have it, but the hard copy didn't, and the online version isn't free anyway.)

Monday, September 17, 2007

They're making a new Get Smart film. Yay!

With Anne Hathaway as 99.

Anne Hathaway.

May St. Genesius himself return to smite those responsible for this.

I hereby decree before turning something decent into a film, one must recruit Joss Whedon or Neil Gaiman to assist. Tim Burton or Peter Jackson may also be acceptable should the others be unavailable.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

For reasons I don't know, Blogger suddenly decided to put the occasional line in German:
'Blog anzeigen (in einem neuen Fenster)'
'Tastaturkürzel: drücken Sie Strg zusammen mit: B = Bold, I = Italic, P = Publish, S = Save, D = Draft'
'Fügt eine Schaltfläche auf der Symbolleiste des Post-Editors hinzu, mit der englische Schrift in Hindischrift umgewandelt wird.
Ihre Änderungen werden gespeichert, um Google bei der Optimierung dieses Tools zu unterstützen. Details finden Sie in den Datenschutzbestimmungen.'

'E-Mails sofort veröffentlichen
E-Mails als Entwürfe für Mitteilungen speichern
'Ihr Blog ist standardmäßig für alle Leser frei zugänglich.

Sie können das Blog auf ausschließlich ausgewählte Leser beschränken.
Diese Leser müssen sich jedoch vor dem Lesen des Blogs anmelden, was einen zusätzlichen Schritt erfordert.'

I changed no settings. Blogger still has my language set to English (UK). My browser is still English. (I thought I had German after English. *adds it*)

Doesn't really matter. I can manage in German. But why suddenly do German? Why only a couple lines? A setting description here, part of a footer there...what's up with this?

I made lasagne for supper.
Same recipe I always use, even though there are now four people instead of six.

However, though I used the same amount of dough, I think I used more cheese than usual.

We had no parmesan, so I used extra mozzarella. As in, more than half of a 2LB bag. The whole bag was supposed to be 32 servings, so I'm guessing I used about 20 servings.

Roughly 1.8lb of tomato sauce. (~13 servings). Basically, one large can.

Roughly 1.5lb of cottage cheese. (6 servings). One container.

We had a little lasagne left over (what I'd consider a decent serving), despite my probably eating over a third of it. Meaning I got about eight servings of cheese.

Friday, September 14, 2007

(2007-09-14 16:20:30) haiciM: Oh, the price of the ticket has gone down 3 DKK since I last checked. Cool.
(2007-09-14 16:21:04) haiciM: Even so, it is so close that I worry about it going up. I think that I'll just buy now.
(2007-09-14 16:21:13) lkbm: Saving you nearly $0.56. Whoohoo.

Someone elsewhere commented that 3DKK is nothing, so I was going to start a 'give me nothing' campaign using PayPal. Sadly, that may be against their AUP:

You may not use the PayPal service for activities that:
...relate to transactions that..(b) support pyramid or ponzi schemes, matrix programs, other "get rich quick" schemes or certain multi-level marketing programs'

So donate 3DKK (~0.56USD) to me because you like my blog, not because I want to get rich quick...from my three readers. (I use a [email protected] email address for each site, so my PayPal account is paypal@...)

(Or support the ACLU, but they need more than 3DKK.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

[10] There was Motsognir | the mightiest made
Of all the dwarfs, | and Durin next;
Many a likeness | of men they made,
The dwarfs in the earth, | as Durin said.

[11] Nyi and Nithi, | Northri and Suthri,
Austri and Vestri, | Althjof, Dvalin,
Nar and Nain, | Niping, Dain,
Bifur, Bofur, | Bombur, Nori,
An and Onar, | Ai, Mjothvitnir.

[12] Vigg and Gandalf) | Vindalf, Thrain,
Thekk and Thorin, | Thror, Vit and Lit,
Nyr and Nyrath,-- | now have I told--
Regin and Rathsvith-- | the list aright.

[13] Fili, Kili, | Fundin, Nali,
Heptifili, | Hannar, Sviur,
Frar, Hornbori, | Fræg and Loni,
Aurvang, Jari, | Eikinskjaldi.

[14] The race of the dwarfs | in Dvalin's throng
Down to Lofar | the list must I tell;
The rocks they left, | and through wet lands
They sought a home | in the fields of sand.

[15] There were Draupnir | and Dolgthrasir,
Hor, Haugspori, | Hlevang, Gloin,
Dori, Ori, | Duf, Andvari,
Skirfir, Virfir, | Skafith, Ai.

[16] Alf and Yngvi, | Eikinskjaldi,
Fjalar and Frosti, | Fith and Ginnar;
So for all time | shall the tale be known,
The list of all | the forbears of Lofar.

Just thought I'd mention it. Of course, the original text is slightly different.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I was going to write to my representative (NC district 1) to say 'Support H.R. 811!' but he's a co-sponsor, so instead I wrote saying 'Yay! Thanks!'

But I mistyped my zipcode (resulting in one from NC district 3), and got this reply:

Your zip code indicates that you are outside of the 4th District of Pennsylvania.

Regrettably, I am unable to reply to any email from constituents outside of the 4th District of Pennsylvania.

Write your own commentary about code reuse, hardcoded error messages, or testing of edge cases here. I've not the time just now.

Monday, September 03, 2007

I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to paradoxes. I don't consider the most ingenious one to be one. (Autoplaying video warning)

Tem42 defines paradoxes roughly as 'when there are two reasonable ways of looking at something and they result in a contradiction'. I often find myself tempted to be exclusionary to the point of saying 'two [or more] sound arguments with contradictory conclusions' (in which case, paradoxes are logically impossible).

I'm happy to be less exclusive, of course. My main goal is to throw out the birthday 'paradox' and its ilk. (For those who don't know, the BP essentially says 'How many people do I need in a room for there to be a 50% chance that two of them share a birthday. Answer: only 23. That's so low! How very paradoxical!').

The Phantom Menace DVD special features contains a clip of some people asking Jake Lloyd (Anakin Skywalker) how much he'd estimate the film costs to make, and the ten(?)-year-old Jake replies hesitantly 'Probably over 50 000 dollars?'

Would people say that this ten-year-old underestimating the cost of film-making to be an example of a paradox? Technically, this fits the Greek root (contrary to opinion/expectation), but we don't use it that way. So whywhywhy would it be a paradox that people with bad mathematical intuition are surprised by mathematical results? Stupid people get things wrong? PARADOX! No.

Yes, I'll even throw out the Monty Hall paradox. It's bizarre at first glance, but if you look at it correctly, you'll eventually realise it was confusing because you didn't understand it or math properly. Your fault, not the fault of the world, or of logic.

The Sorites Paradox (the heap) may be a paradox, though it's really just clumsy language. The surprise execution seems to be a paradox because, well, let's see you solve it if you think it's not. Same for the 'This sentence is false' and other self-referential paradoxes. If you can solve the paradox with 'People are stupid' I prefer not to count it. If you have to solve it by saying 'Language is broken', I consider counting it. If you can't solve it without saying 'Logic is broken', then we have something I'd consider a paradox.

Friday, August 31, 2007

(Potentially relevant link)

Photograph of Greece burning on 2007-08-25. Photo by NASA. A guy on a website I frequent just stated:

I will be away for some days...My country is burned to the ground...

A bit dramatic, perhaps, but sadly not a bit overdramatic.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The good thing about cats is that they come in various sizes of litters. If it was one cat each time, you'd have no basis for the naming system, but when it's a litter of six, well, there aren't many choices:
Six simple machines (Good names, I must say.)
Six regular convex polychora (This is what I used. They can be long, though.)
The Big Six (I should re-read those books sometime.)

You can't name a litter of six cats Alpha, Beta, Delta, Tux, Tumbleweed, and Velcro, after all. They need to be consistent.

Similarly, if there's a small kitten named Qilin who vanishes, and later a very similar one is born to the same mother, but you're sure it's not the same one because it should be older by now, right? you can't just name it 'Bob'. It has to be Sabitun Sabintu.

So that's what I did. Shame everyone else refuses to call him that.

Friday, August 24, 2007

When I was three, perhaps, my brother went to Montessori school. Since my mother sometimes helped out there, so too did I at times.

For those not in the know:
Montessori school is a very 'laissez faire' type of school. They had various 'stations' the kids would visit of their own accord, visiting them all, but perhaps focusing on those they found most interesting. Something like that. I don't remember what all the stations were, but I know two of them:
* The painting station, where you'd get your brushes and paints, paint a picture, and then when you were done wash off your brushes.
* The snack station where you'd get peanut butter crackers.

Visiting all the different stations, of course, as delightful as it sounds, was not what I did. I'd go to the painting station, get my brushes and paints, paint a picture, wash off my brushes, and then head over to the snack station for peanut butter crackers. When I was done eating, I'd go back to the painting station, get my brushes and paints, paint a picture, wash off my brushes, and then head over to the snack station for peanut butter crackers. When I was done eating, I'd go back to the painting station, get my brushes and paints, paint a picture, wash off my brushes, and then head over to the snack station for peanut butter crackers. When I was done eating, I'd go back to the painting station, get my brushes and paints, paint a picture, wash off my brushes, and then head over to the snack station for peanut butter crackers. When I was done eating, I'd go back to the painting station, get my brushes and paints, paint a picture, wash off my brushes, and then head over to the snack station for peanut butter crackers. When I was done eating, I'd go back to the painting station, get my brushes and paints, paint a picture, wash off my brushes, and then head over to the snack station for peanut butter crackers.

You get the picture.

My mom ended up homeschooling us.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Yesterday the power company had curtailable customers cut power usage by 2.5%, and expect that later this week they'll have to go to the next level, 5%.

The step after that is 'rotating feeder and substation blackouts'. They don't think that'll happen.

Anyway, I turned off my fan. It's possible the air conditioner is downstairs, so I may go sit in that room and read.

(My laptop suddenly turned off earlier this week. I suspect it was overheated. I turned it back on immediately, though We've been getting over 100f, and over 110 with the heat index.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

'Every time you smoke a cigarette, there goes another breath of your life.' -- Stupid advert everyone in NC has seen a million times.

Seems like every time you breathe, there goes another breath of your life.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I usually over-pay my credit card bill slightly. Having a slight credit doesn't hurt anything, right? Well, a few months ago two of them sent me checks. End of the fiscal year, I guess. The first one didn't say a thing about why they sent it. I didn't know what was going on until the second one came.

Just now I got a third one. This may be the last; I only have three or four credit cards. Anyway, this last one--from Washington Mutual--is for $0.01. They sent me a check for ONE CENT. La-di-FRICKIN-da! I'ma drive down to the bank right now and cash this baby!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Someone I didn't recognise from their YIM name IM'd me and said ''Ello.'
So, of course I replied with 'Did you say "hello"?'

And she knew the proper response! I was all, 'This isn't my sister, is it? No, she doesn't use YIM, and wouldn't have that username, and so on. There must be a third person in this world who has this level of coolness.' And there is.

'No, I said "'ello", but that's close enough.'

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I really don't think it's fair for me to be just using a simple script as I always do and it to suddenly not be able to call methods it's been using the whole time. I've changed nothing, but suddenly the each method is being called from an undefined iterator in's fetch method.

It's also lame that I can't use CGI in mod_perl. I don't know why, but in CGI, it's fine, but under mod_perl, it isn't, except for when it is, which isn't often. And sometimes it doesn't work in CGI--I thing it was when I also had it trying to work in mod_perl; that is, loading Apache when mod_perl is trying to use CGI means I can't use CGI anywhere at all, and it sucks, because it's pretty darn tricky to handle stuff properly. My Apache::Request wrapper doesn't handle multiple values properly, and I'm too lazy to fix it.

Monday, August 13, 2007

People say between the ages of 18 and 25, but they don't mean 'between'. It's inclusive. Damn.

But let's see them come and get me. You really want to take away my freedom and arm me at the same time? Bad move, that.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The French Resistance did a decent job in France, though they needed a lot of help.

A few years ago, I wasn't so hopeful for us. Military has improved, I said. At this point, the argument that we need guns in case the government gets oppressive is bogus. They have tanks and missiles and intensive training.

Then we went to Iraq, and it became apparent that the US military, for all it's sophistication, still couldn't crush a few thousand guys with guns and limited training or experience.

Maybe Iraq will teach them how, but our leaders seem adamantly opposed to learning anything from their mistakes. Really, I think the only thing possible in the near future that would be sufficient would be increased big brotherhood: if you can track individuals well enough, you can crush an insurgency. Guns rights are only of penultimate importance in being able to overthrow the government. Privacy is number one. If they take your guns so you can't shoot them, you can instead build bombs with which to blow thy enemy into tiny bits, in thy mercy. If they're watching us, though, you can't do either.

ACLU trumps NRA.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I could easily do a dozen posts on gun rights. Maybe I will. But right now, I'm just focusing on one thing:

Guns are considered the last resort against an oppressive government. Does anyone else find it troubling that the citizens with guns (and who support gun rights) tend to be the same ones who support the growing oppressiveness of our government?

With the liberals refusing to arm themselves and the conservatives supporting Bush, the Libertarians will be our rebel leaders if push comes to shove. I hope they brought enough for the rest of us.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Recently Greenville decided to rename Martin Luther King Jr. Street to 5th Street, since it actually is 5th Street for the part they didn't back in the day rename to Martin Luther King Jr. Street.

I was asked to sign a petition telling them NO, don't rename it back to something simple and consistent. Said the petition, Greenville's five(?) WHITE board members made the decision for the PREDOMINANTLY BLACK community at MKLJr.St. WE WILL NOT GO BACK!

I declined to sign. Because:
1. Simple is good.
2. Consistent is good.
3. The street name is not what's preventing segregation and the lot. That's not what street names are for. Street names are to help people find their way around. Therefore, see 1. and 2.

Not one of my reasons, but something to consider:
4. In one of the early Boondocks cartoon episodes (the only one I saw--they posted it free on Google Video. Yay!) MKL Jr. came back from the dead and saw that streets named MLK Jr. St. are not (generally) nice neighbourhoods. This, among a lot of other things displeased him greatly, and he called a crowd of blacks 'a bunch of ignorant niggers'. This displeased them.

What was formerly MLK Jr. St. in Greenville wasn't the worst neighbourhood in the city, but it wasn't exactly MLK's vision for the future. Maybe it's fitting because they still have the struggle he had (though it seems to be a largely different struggle these days). But, again, who cares? That's not what street names are for.

(Notice how I have not much to say in this post. I'm supposed to post on Mondays, so you get this dreck.)

Friday, August 03, 2007

I am governed by tens of thousands of pages of laws at three1 (four?2 five?3) levels of government. These laws have been interpreted and reinterpreted many times by tens of thousands of court cases. I am legally obligated to follow every one of these laws.

Actually, I don't need to follow these law and their most recent court interpretations. I need to follow whatever future interpretation is made by a prosecutor and accepted as correct by the presiding judge when my case is being argued. (And they say no post ex facto laws.)

I've broken several today. I'll probably break more by day's end.

1 Federal, State, and County.

2 Federal, State, County, and Town. I'm not in the town limits, but they have some territorial jurisdiction, preventing--for example--us from building a new shed.

3 Federal, State, County, Town, and International. Maybe I'm only under international law because I'm under the Federal law that inherits international law.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

If I was a contestant on Iron Chef, I'd be in trouble. Firstly because they all speak Japanese. Let's say this is actually Iron Chef America, just so we don't have to worry about that.

More importantly, however, because they'd whip the veil off a vat of live tuna and expect me to prepare a five course meal using them as the central ingredient. In one hour. Without a cookbook.

My strategy would be this: 'Sous chefs GO!' Then I'd watch them do their thing.

My cooking skills are inadequate to be competing on Iron Chef. I don't even have a pair of orange Crocs.

But I would never say 'I can't cook'. The people who say that are saying something far, far more serious. They're saying that if you give them simple, straightforward, unambiguous directions, all the basic tools, and all the ingredients, they cannot bake a cake.

And that's scary. When someone makes such a ridiculous claim, your first thought should probably be 'Can you read?' If you can read and you're not a paraplegic, how can you possibly not be able to bake a cake? The book says '1 cup milk'. How do you mess that up? Grab an empty 7-11 SuperGulp cup and fill it with milk? Or maybe upon seeing the clear, simple instruction to add a cup of milk they proclaim 'No stupid book is going to tell me what to do!' and put in two cups just to show it who's boss.

These are the skills required for cooking:
* Measuring
* Mixing
* Pouring
* Reading simple instructions
* Following simple instructions

I'm going to hazard a guess and say it's the last item that gives them difficulties. This means not just that they can't cook, however. It means they can't drive ('speed limit 35? That means 35km/s, right?'), they can't go shopping ('the label says $3.99, but I'm going to pay $1.27 instead'), they can't do anything. No one is that stupid.1

You can cook.

1 I have said this a hundred times and every time I have been wrong. People are so stupid--and wilfully so, in most cases--that no matter how far I lower my expectations, someone will still manage to blow my mind.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Suppose you're walking down the street in Dallas when you're approached by a guy who looks as if he hasn't shaved or showered in thirty years. 'Kennedy was killed by Alaskan coal miners!' he tells you.

You, being an open-minded person with nothing better to do, ask him how he knows. He proceeds to show you charts and diagrams and reams of print-out supporting his claim. You study the data carefully for a bit and come to the following conclusion: 'It's possible, but very unlikely.' The evidence just isn't that strong. It's weak enough, in fact, that you'd withhold judgement even if it didn't seem an extraordinary claim to you.
A chart showing evidence up the level of my belief and craziness on top of that up the the level of his belief.
'This isn't entirely convincing', you tell the guy. 'Any other evidence?'

'No, this is all I have. But I'm dead certain it's true.'

Now here's the thing: the evidence supports a belief of strength 'possible, but unlikely', so that's the belief you've formed. The evidence is a far cry of supporting a belief of strength 'dead certain', yet that's the belief this guy has formed. There's a huge gap between the evidential support and the guy's certainty. What is it in that gap?

You look at the guy and it immediately becomes clear: craziness.

The next day, you're out for a walk and a guy comes up to you and says 'God exists! Here's proof.' And he shows you the Bible, historical evidence of apparent miracles, claims from seemingly-sane people who say they felt God, and so on.

You study the evidence carefully for a bit and come to the following conclusion: 'It's possible, but very unlikely.' The evidence just isn't that strong. It's weak enough, in fact, that you'd withhold judgement even if it didn't seem an extraordinary claim to you.

'This isn't entirely convincing', you tell the guy. 'Any other evidence?'
A chart showing evidence up the level of my belief and faith on top of that up the the level of his belief.
'No, this is all I have. But I'm dead certain it's true.'

Same situation as before: the evidence supports a belief of strength 'possible, but unlikely', so that's the belief you've formed. The evidence is a far cry of supporting a belief of strength 'dead certain', yet that's the belief this guy has formed. There's a huge gap between the evidential support and the guy's certainty. What is it in that gap?

You look at the guy and since he's clean-shaven it immediately becomes clear: faith.

Now here's the thing: that's just stupid.

Faith is obviously a synonym for craziness. They both mean 'the non-thing filling in the space between the evidence and the strength of belief.'

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Two fortune cookies with lunch today:

:-) You have an unusually magnetic personality. :-)

Magnets. Whoohoo!

24 29 11 26 2 9

Three primes and a square. Mediocre.

Speak Chinese
four hundred si bai

I don't know how to get the tonal marks or kanji.

:-) Birds are entangled by your feet and men by their tongues. :-)


28 18 43 44 30 51

One prime and my favourite perfect. Meh.

Speak Chinese
very well hen hao

Not 'very good'. Know the difference.

Friday, July 27, 2007

This rule from Perl Best Practices made me laugh and finally realise what twisted, sick-minded individuals Perl programmers really are.

The correct rule is obviously 'Don't cascade ternary operators. Just don't. Use if-else.' But Perl programmers do it our way, and it's as beautiful as it is evil.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

In the array and hash naming convention guideline in Perl Best Practices, they have this lovely example of when an array name should be singular (answer: when used as a random access table like a hash):

sub factorial {
my ($n) = @_;

croak "Can't compute factorial($n)"
if $n < 0 || $n > $MAX_FACT;

return $factorial[$n];
Factorials not pre-calculated for the cache are simply declared incomputable. Talk about lazy programming!

(Code snippet from:
Perl Best Practices, by Damian Conway, Copyright 2005 O'Reilly Media, Inc., ISBN 0-596-00173-8
Good book.)

Monday, July 23, 2007

'Best seafood in town' -- Sign in front of the only seafood restaurant in Chocowinity.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Luca: She's reading the copyright page first.
Lilani, reading HP7: You always read the copyright page first.
Luca: Of course.
Lilani: I always do.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

(Potentially relevant link)

Before the cold fusion debacle, what did we use as the quintessential example of bad science?

One noder claims it was Dr. James McConell's experiments at the University of Michigan. Specifically, Dr. James McConell would have planarian worms run a maze. Once they were trained he chopped them up and fed them to some other planarian worms. These cannibal worms were then able to run the maze better than non-cannibal worms, or so McConell claimed. These results, however, were never reproduced.

What a surprise.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Roads change names

Okay, we have this in Greenville, NC too. Until a few weeks ago, 5th changed into Martin Luther King Jr., but for the most part, if you don't leave the main road, you won't find yourself on a completely different road.

Roads reuse names

I'm on Clairemont. Why am I passing Clairemont? Holy Toledo!, there it goes by again!

Apparently, some fool decided that Clairemont Rd. wasn't enough. It crosses Clairemont Terr. and at least one other Clairemont. And Clairemont isn't the only road like this. They all have multiply-redundantly named roads.

In Greenville, Charles Blvd. crosses Charles St. That's bad enough for Greenville. Atlanta knows no reasonable bounds.

Roads aren't continuous

Example. Look at Ralph McGill west of Carter's lovely place. But, wait: you're standing on Linwood north of the Carter Center and looking a sign that says it's the intersection of Linwood and McGill! Is Google Maps horrible mistaken?
No, Google Maps is entirely correct. Zoom in one dit and you'll see a short, unconnected-to-the-other-McGill McGrill that touches Linwood. Bloody Hell.

Now, we have this in Washington, NC. Market Street is an arrogant bastard and if you're driving down 6th, you'll have to turn onto Market and go perhaps twenty metres before turning back onto 6th. It sucks. A lot. But at least it's trivial to go between the two.

Excuse me sir, do you know which direction [non-trivial road a couple blocks away] is?

'Sorry, I'm not from around here.'

You wouldn't expect to hear this from three people in a row, but apparently everybody in the vicinity of Clairemont Rd.and N. Decatur Rd. commute from who-knows where, and those that think they do know where things are give you false information.

You know who doesn't suck? One lonely Emory student. Only person with the guts to tell me 'No, Houston doesn't connect with Decatur.'

He told me the way to Lavista Rd. and how to get to Houston from there. Why the fuck didn't someone tell me 'Just fucking go to Lavista. We don't know any other way to get to Houston'?

This is something that doesn't happen where I live. I was once asked how to get somewhere and I knew the answer--me!

Other reasons

I'm sure I could come up with some. Hills at some places. I'm not an expert at driving a standard.

Monday, July 09, 2007

I was going to post about the hawk, but it was a boring story. Basically: hawk want birds in cage. People not want hawk to get birds. I stare at hawk and move the cage he's sitting atop. Hawk not kill me.

Happy ending!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Math professors are always telling their students that math is useful outside of the classroom and is needed in many aspects of normal life.

Then the students go home and see that their stupid parents don't know algebra or trigonometry or much of anything beyond basic arithmetic, yet manage to get through life all right.

So the student correctly assumes they don't need math. They also assume math is useless in ordinary life.

Stupid students.

You know how a few years ago Wal*Mart started posting cost per ounce beside the price of food items? Useful! Now you can easily compare different-sized items. I, however, learned from my dad years and years ago to do that myself. It requires division.

This is why your math professor says he uses math in daily life and your parents say they don't. Your parents went without the cost per ounce information before Wal*Mart gave it to them pre-calculated and it never even occurred to them to calculate it themselves. The math professor saw the opportunity to use math, and so he saved money. There are also many cases where more advanced math is useful, but not required and people who don't know them don't realise there's an opportunity being missed.

If you didn't know how to read, you'd find everyday life a challenge, because society expects people to know how to read. The benefit of being able to read is obvious, because important uses of reading are everywhere. Society doesn't expect you to know basic algebra, so getting through life without it is easy, and you won't even notice the missed opportunities to save money or time.

That's not because your math professor is lying about it's usefulness. It's because you chose to remain blind.

(Math people: please post good examples of using algebra, trigonometry, set theory, probability, combinatorics, calculus, etc. in Regular Life. We need a massive database to show the 'math is useless' crowd.)

Friday, July 06, 2007

You know how Cingular is the new at&t?

SBC bought the name AT&T because their own reputation was too bad. They needed a name change.

Let me say that again: SBC's reputation--the connotations of that name--was worse than that of AT&T.

All you young'uns and foreigners may not understand this, but if you say this to an American in his forties or older, their head will explode.

If you pay attention to tech news, you know things have not different than before. When I first saw AT&T popping up as the devil, I didn't really grok it. Then I started seeing the Cingular commercials, learned it was SBC, and all was clear. The iPhone mess should come as no shock to anyone. They don't care. They don't have to. *snort* They're the Phone Company.

And they're back.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

(Potentially relevant link)

And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of. -- George Bush, Sept. 30, 2003.

Very well taken care of.

Don't laugh. It's not funny.

  1. Review the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
  2. Write letters to politicians.
  3. Send more money to the ACLU.
  4. Blow up part of the country with colourful explosives.

In one of my courses at ECU--a large course consisting largely of pre-med seniors, I do believe--the professor asked us how old you had to be a US Senator. People told him thirty-five.

On January 1, 2005, some people I know were discussing term limits. Numerous people--my dad, a retired math professor, and I believe some others--thought it was merely a limit on consecutive terms.

The general consensus among Republicans is that all Americans are endowed with certain rights, but that they're not inalienable and that only Americans have them.

If you're an American and I've described you with any of these anecdotes, please buy yourself a clue.

Monday, July 02, 2007

I dislike how Britain is leading the world in creating the surveillance state.
I hate Germany's recent legislation regarding hacking tools, and Germany still hasn't lost the stereotype of being violent Nazis.
I dislike Russia for slowly turning back into a brutal dictatorship.
Everyone tells me the French are a bunch of cheese- and snail-eating surrender-monkeys.
I don't like that Israel and Palestine have spent my entire life (so far) being assholes to each other.

In the past, this would mean thinking of Germans as oppressive and violent, Brits as Big Brother types, the French as cheese-eating surrender-monkeys, Russians as brutal dictators, Israelis is big bullies, and Palestinians as little bullies.

But thanks largely to the Internet, I talk to friends in Germany, the UK, Russia, Israel, Palestine, and France1--many on a daily basis. Instead of seeing the nation in terms of usually-outdated stereotypes and what their government is doing, I see them in terms of the people who live there. People whom I know and--by and large--whom I like.

It would be great if everyone was learning math and science and whatever else while online, but even if all they do is go on MySpace and talk to people around the world in chatspeak, they've just received a very important societal/political lesson, and one that will hopefully have a long-term positive effect on foreign relations worldwide. It's the same principle behind foreign exchange programs.

(Sadly, right now most people are under the delusion that online is not 'real life', but merely some huge game where the goal is to be an asshole.)

1 Not really. I can't think of any any friends I have in France, but I'm sure I talk to people there. I just don't talk to any particular people there a whole lot to my knowledge.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

(Potentially relevant link)

#10 says you get free juice and cookies. True. I also got ice cream today. Birthday cake ice cream tastes like store-bought frosting.

#9 says you'll weigh less. True, but refer to #10. If I give a pint of blood and then get free juice and cookies, am I now one pint lighter? (Pints are volume, by the way. Blood is thicker than water, though not much thicker.) (Cecil adds this comment: 'Americans are so pathetic.')

#3 says blood is something money can't buy, but don't some places pay you 50USD for a plasma donation? It's also just a stupid reason. Who gives a damn about the rich and famous? You get juice and cookies, man! Juice and cookies! Get to it!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Today I was pompous and my sister was crazy. Today, we were kidnapped by hillfolk never to be seen again. It was the best day ever.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Normally I hate people who ask this. I'm supposed to drop everything in order to tell someone what I just dropped just because they're bored and think it's my job to entertain them?

But sometimes it can be an enlightening question. Someone asked me a few days ago:

what are you doing
I'm....gosh that's an eye-opener.

I was reading a book on German grammar. But it said something amusing, so I went to my blog and wrote about it.
Then I realised I hadn't replied to Leif's earlier comment on one of my posts, so I did that.
Then I thought 'Leif's commenting on my blog, but not posting on his!' So I decided to find his blog to see if anything new had been posted there. But I didn't see it in my bookmarks, so I went to OwlManAtt's blog. His linked to Max's blog, where I replied to one of his posts. Then I gave up, saw I needed to read some email, and told that to load while I checked the forums for new posts. I posted once or twice and saw that three or four people--you being one of them--had eeMailed me. So I answered them--looking through the database to help one person who forgot her password--and then got your latest message asking what I was doing. So I sat here and wrote this response.

So, in short, I'm reading a book on German grammar. It's open right in front of the keyboard. I just haven't looked at it for half an hour.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

You know what would make the Muppets super cool? A whole array of Scooters. Dr. Bunsen Honeydew could create them.

The Scooters would join together into a powerful union and demand raises and more vacation time.

But Kermit would say 'No!' and push them down the stairs. This fix, however, would be sadly temporary. By Autumn, they'd be back with more bargaining power than ever.

('What?' you ask. It's the tags. Blogger users know what I'm talking about.)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Essential German Grammar (good book) by Guy Stern and Everett F. Bleiler has this to say about using 'sein' as an auxiliary verb:

Only three categories of German verbs use sein as an auxiliary. These are:
  1. Verbs involving a change of position that cannot take a direct object.
    [Table showing 'kommen', 'gehen', 'fahren', 'fallen', 'steigen', and 'folgen'.]

  2. Verbs involving a change of condition that cannot take an object.
    [Table showing 'wachsen', 'sterben', and 'verschwinden'.]

  3. Miscellaneous verbs.

Yeah, and there are only three types of words: verbs, nouns, and all the other types.

If one of your categories is just a catch-all, your classification system is incomplete. There's only one category of X that Y: 'all X that Y'.

(I can't think of any sensible labels[==categories] for this post.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

At ECU, the beginning German students get three(?) books:
* A textbook to teach them German.
* A workbook to practice German.
* English Grammar for Students of German to teach them English grammar.

No, really. 'Chapter 7: What is a Verb?' 'Chapter 15: What is a Sentence?'

Sadly, this book really is needed. Okay, we all know what a verb is (I hope), but often people find themselves unable to define 'infinitive' or 'modal verb', though usually I suspect they can give examples.

But that courses for teaching American college students German must also teach the Americans English is sad.

Monday, June 18, 2007

I need to post something because it's Monday, but none of the good posts I started are ready and I don't feel like working on them. So you get this worthless post instead.


Friday, June 15, 2007

DISCLAIMER: I don't feel like proof-reading this. It's probably muddled and repetitive and [random disparaging adjective], but I just don't care that much. Sorry.

Background, part I: Shortly before the sixth Harry Potter book was released, one booksellers in Canada accidentally sold copies to fourteen people. The courts issued an injunction prohibiting them from reading said copies until the intended release date.

Background, part II: Richard Stallman called on us to boycott Harry Potter because of this.

His argument is, at its core, that you have a right to read any book you own. This seems reasonable, but he doesn't really address--to my knowledge--the reasoning behind the injunction. It's reasonable, though still wrong.

Suppose I promise you that I'll eat a hamburger. Then I remember that I don't eat meat. Too bad: I made a promise and I have to keep it. You have a right to have promises made to you kept, and the courts come in and force-feed me the hamburger to protect that right. (I used to have a right to not eat a hamburger, but then I uncoercedly promised I would.)

Suppose, however, that I promise you that I'll at a hamburger, and promise my brother that I won't. I've now created a situation where either you or my brother will have your rights violated. The courts can come in and enforce one of your rights, but not the other. The solution is to force me to offer one of you something sufficient that you'll say 'Okay, this is just as valuable to me as your eating/not eating a hamburger.' I only have to keep my promise to you so long as you want me to.

Suppose, however, that you want a million dollars and my brother wants a billion dollars. I don't have a million dollars, and I certainly don't have a billion dollars. I can't pay either of you off.

So the courts come in, say 'Ah! Someone's rights will be violated, whatever we do, so the only two differences are:
* Whether Luca wants to eat the hamburger. (I don't.)
* The value of my fulfilling my promise you each put on it.

It seems reasonable (though arguable) that I gave up my right to choose whether I eat the hamburger, so the only thing to consider is the harm of the two options: breaking a million-dollar to you or breaking a billion-dollar promise to my brother.

The courts should choose make me break the million-dollar promise. No hamburger eating for me. Sorry.

However, you could pop up and say 'No, it's worth a hundred quintillion dollars to me!' and who are we to refute you? (Call your bluff by offering you a million dollars? Nope. You're too smart for that. And maybe you're not bluffing.) Or you say it's priceless. And my brother says the same. At that point, the courts have to decide what a reasonable value is, and that sucks, but it's how things actually work.

The hamburger is a silly example. The original issue was a Harry Potter book. (The bookseller promised the publisher they wouldn't let anyone read it and by selling it they promised the buyers they could read it.) RMS offers the example of accidental publishing of health effects of a product. I offer what I think is a stronger counter-example: What if the doctor's office accidentally publishing my medical records?

Slashdotters often argue against copyright by saying 'Don't publish what you don't want public' (which is a bad argument for reasons I won't detail here), but if I share information with my doctor on the basis that he won't share it, and then he does, it's not my fault. I had a reasonable expectation of privacy. Now you have my medical records. This is terrible. You'll exploit them for your own nefarious purposes, I just know it.

This, like the Harry Potter case, is different from the hamburger promise case. In the hamburger case, we had to decide which promise would br broken. In this case, one promise (the doctor's promise of secrecy made to me) is already broken. The question is whether to break the doctor's promise to you ('here, you can have (==can read) these medical records!') by taking them back.

Instead of these to choices:
* Break a promise to you/publisher + bad consequences X
* Break a promise to brother/consumer + bad consequences Y

We now have to choices:
* Bad consequences X (promise to me already broken)
* Break a promise + bad consequences Y (promise to me already broken)

Before we chose which promise to break based on Utilitarianism ('minimise bad consequences) because the Deontologist (the 'keep promises' moral theorist) had no way of choosing one over the other. But now the Deontologist has a way of deciding. He doesn't give a damn about consequences.1

So the Harry Potter injunction is wrong because Deontology is the correct moral theory. If (Act) Utilitarianism is correct, the injunction is probably right.

That's why the injunction is reasonable. Utilitarianism is a reasonable position to take. It just happens to be the wrong on. And, no, I can't prove that.

1 People always assume Utilitarianism is the cold, calculating moral theory of logical people--it's the one Vulcan's hold--but the Deontologist is as ruthless and cold as any Utilitarian, and it's the only moral theory I know of that actually tries to derive its principles from logic. (It makes basic assumptions, of course, but these 'emotional' rules are derived logically from the basic premise, whereas Utilitarian doesn't need to bother with any logic.)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Last night I had Chinese food for supper. Proof of conquest.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Today I'm taking over China.

I'm going to use giant robot dinosaurs to scare people into submission. When that doesn't work1 I'll turn on the giant robot dinosaur laser eyes and level three rice paddies. Just enough to scare everyone, but not enough to cause starvation in my newly conquered nation.

I've promised Shanghai to a friend. The rest will be put up for auction. I don't actually want China. I want north-eastern Europe. China's just a bargaining chip.

1 Some people make a Plan A and hope it works, but make a Plan B just in case. I make a Plan A knowing it will fail so Plan B feels useful. Good self-esteem is vital to plan success.

Monday, June 11, 2007

I was looking around for suggestions on first programming languages, and I noticed that many people tend to look at this as 'what language is most useful'. If you want to program applications, learn C, C++, or Java (no!) whereas if you want to do web development, learn Perl, Python, Ruby, or PHP (no!). And, yes, I do this too, but I do this for people who want to learn programming because they think it'd be cool to write a Neopets clone or something. Not people who want to be programmers.

Here's the thing: if you're a programmer, you know more than one language.

So why does it matter which language you learn first? Because learning some languages will encourage correct thinking and good programming habits right from the get-go, and that's what you need to be learning. One of my professors, Dr. James Wirth, told us 'It's not that it's a foreign language; it's a foreign way of thinking.' And he's exactly right. I've written small quantities of code in something like twenty different languages. I'm only proficient in a few, but picking up a new programming language is not the obstacle in becoming a good programmer. In one of my courses, we had assignments in something like six different languages, and code snippets littered the blackboard in many more. I haven't programmed in Ada or COBOL or Fortran or Pascal, but I had learn to read them on the fly, and I didn't find it a challenge. This might sound hard if you've never done any programming, but once you've learned C, Assembly, Prolog, and Scheme, you can understand the basics of nearly any language. Trust me: this is something you can do. After you learn to program.

Learning to program is the key. This starts with understanding how the computer runs programs. One guy I knew in school tried the non-command 'hurry' to tell the computer to run his program quickly. When you've never done a lick of programming before, this is not an unusual way of thinking about it. But any language will teach you that. What else is there?

When I first started, I was writing spaghetti code in QBasic. What was I missing? Functions and scope. Once I learned about using functions (and more importantly, once I began putting more and more stuff in functions), I started to think like a programmer. Suddenly programming wasn't rigid. Callbacks a long, long while later brought me even further along. We want a language that encourages the new programmer to build tools to do his work for him. What languages do this? I think LISP and dialects may be the champs her.

What else do beginning programmers desperately need? Style/Formatting. There were even upperclassmen in the CS department who didn't indent. (For the record, they began with C/C++, Java, or Dr. Wirth's Box English (broken link)) Everyone knows which language teaches indentation: Python. Worst might be Perl. Few will allow the programmer to ignore more style guidelines.

It's basic and of debatable importance, and probably should be covered separately if you're in a CS program, but How Things Work is also relevant. By this I mean, for example, understanding variable, something Dr. Wirth's Box English seems to focus on at a high level. Understanding overflows. Understanding data types. Should a beginning programmer be forced to learn the difference between and int and a string? Personally, I love not having to treat strings as char*s, but they'll need to learn sometime. Additionally, it will come up from time to time no matter what language you use. Try adding '3' and '8' in ECMASript. (Perl thinks it's 11. ECMAScript, Python, and Ruby all say it's '38' because '+' means concatenate. C thinks it's k or 107, depending on whether you ask for an int or a char output. A beginner will think Perl makes the most sense, but the most intuitive answer for a wizened programmer put before a language he doesn't know should be the C answer.) What language will teach you the nittiest of the nitty-gritty? Well, I guess machine language or Assembly. But shout-out is due to C for being a usable language that manages to force low-level understanding as well. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing for beginners, of course, is something we could argue over all day and night.

And, let's face it: if you're trying to learn to program, learning a language at the same time just complicates things. Simplicity, please. I was using Perl for a while before I learned when it's $, %, @, $#, ${%var}, $#@var, \$, \%, \@, $var->{..., and even worse was (is) [] or {} or (). Let's see...a hash is () and a hash reference is {} and a list is () and an array is () but an array reference is [], and a list of references is \() or (\a, \b...). I love Perl, but this would frustrate beginners more than anything. When it comes to a simple, consistent syntax, Scheme obviously ranks way up there. I think Python and Ruby also score quite well. Since I mentioned QBasic earlier, I may as well do so again: QBasic has a very simple syntax. The case-insensitivity would probably go over well, though perhaps not something we should be teaching young programmers.

I started out talking about this, but I think it deserves a broader look: Learning to think. Leaving spaghetti code behind was a major boon, but that's just part of it.

The winner: There is no definite winner, of course. Python, I think, fairs pretty well. Scheme for teaching good thought is a classic answer (though usually just under the guise of LISP in general), and with the added benefit of a simple, clean syntax, is a very important consideration. If you want deep understanding of the computer rather than style and the more abstract 'think like a programmer', C or C++ is an excellent choice.

Personally, I think I'd go for Python to begin with, partly because it's popular. There's a lot to say for an active community when you're learning a new language.
The nitty-gritty can be gotten later (you should learn Assembly at some point anyway, and that's nothing but nitty-gritty), and Scheme also later on in order to broaden the way of thinking. A good programmer needs to touch on functional programming, anyway, and perhaps logical programming with Prolog as well. Meh. I had a bad experience with Prolog. The darn thing insisted I had some syntax error and I couldn't finish the simple assignment. :-(

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Slashdot keeps giving me mod points, but I almost never get to use them up because there's no -1 Stupid option. -1 False Dichotomy. -1 Denying the Antecedent. -1 Slippery Slope. -1 Straw Man. -1 Tu Quoque. (Though I'm often tempted to list all Ad Hominem as -1 Trolls.)

And, of course, -1 Wrong. If it's honest idiocy, -1 Troll is wrong, and of course replying to correct it is good, but even if it's already been replied to, it still should be ranked lower for being wrong. -1 Overrated? I guess.

I find I reply more often when I have mod points.

Friday, June 08, 2007

For years I've wondered why we don't have encrypting phones.

Five or ten years ago, phones may not have had great processors, and some would argue there wasn't much need. The first issue is quickly dying and the other is thoroughly obsolete.

Demand exists. Maybe it's not huge, but it exists.

Interoperability should be simple. Your phone initiates conversation with a quick 'Know such-and-such encryption?' and if the other phone says 'yes', you trade keys and encrypt (or, I suppose, send your pubkey and subsequently encrypted AES key1). Maybe this means older phones get a couple tones at the beginning of a call. Probably not, but I don't know how they operate.

Phone companies probably like lock-in, so a lone company creating an encryption protocol and releasing a phone probably isn't sufficient. Get some big players on board. Get them all together, create a free, open standard for encryption and agree to all to start supporting it at least on the fast enough models.

Until you do this, I see no need to buy a mobile phone. (If they did this, I'd have a need: to support the concept. Actually, why not release a landline phone for this as well?)

1 Can you get deniability with AES? I've always thought making it illegal to record people talking to me on the phone is really stupid, but if it's something we want, this could be a way to handle it. Maybe doesn't work so well with voice data.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I write posts ahead of time. I wrote this one days ago. later, I'll come back and touch it up and then post it.

Then I'll realise I forgot to update the timestamp, so it's listed as being posted days ago. So I'll go edit it to reflect the current date and time and repost.

Personally, I think the 'Post time and date' field (that's what the editor calls it: 'Post time and date') should automatically update to the time I posted the thing, not when I typed the first letter! At least change it to the last time I edited/saved it.

(Truth is, I won't forget to fix the timestamp on this post, because I'm going to append 'FIX THE TIMESTAMP' to the title so I'll remember. But I usually don't bother doing that, and I really shouldn't have to. Blogger needs to get on the ball.

Monday, June 04, 2007

(This is a modification of something I originally wrote in reply to a teenaged girl. Obvious?)

I know school has taught you that learning is totally uncool, but surely there's something you're interested in. Go memorise the details of every Yu-Gi-Oh! card or whatever.


Fine, you're bored. There's nothing you can do about that. May as well learn French. You're bored whether you do or not, and if you learn French, you can go tell your parents 'Look, I taught myself French. I'm all grown up now so you should let me go to Paris. By myself.'

They'll say 'No, you're too young to go to France by yourself. Here's two tickets. Take your best friend Jill with you.'

So you take your two tickets and your best friend Jessica, and fly to Paris, where you meet enough hot French boys to keep you busy all Summer. Then, while you're there, you meet Johnny Depp, and he's really, really impressed that you're bilingual, so he marries you and you live happily ever after with the sexiest man alive. (Jill ran off with Orlando Bloom.)

What? You think it's awful that I'm telling you how to run your life? Maybe it is. But who cares? Are you going to give up a happily ever after with Johnny Depp just to spite some random jerk on the Internet? Or are you going to marry that sexy pirate captain-playing actor and become the envy of every creep on the Internet who is still stuck monolingually telling random people online how to live their lives?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

In mid-to-late May the local schools began revising their 'uniform' (dress code, really) policy. Naturally, this means people began complaining about how stupid it is again. That's fine. It is stupid.

But they're complaining 'I just bought my kids' new clothes for next year and now they're changing the dress code!' 'I need to go shopping for my kids new school clothes and don't know what kind of pants they'll need!'

These people somehow feel the need to buy their kids' Fall wardrobe in May?!?! How the hell does that work?

Friday, June 01, 2007

Read a book, watch LazyTown, write a story, program, go for a midnight run, chat, study something unrelated to school, dance, draw, reorganize the furniture, write on the walls, learn a new language, comment on random blogs, call up your Senator at midnight and tell him to outlaw telemarketing, build a cinderblock pyramid in your driveway, write a letter to your grandparents, proofread a text on Gutenberg, memorize more digits of pi, play patience, play the drums, browse eBay, back up your hard drive, finish your homework, improve Wikipedia, dissect your computer, read Nietzsche, disassemble the cinderblock pyramid that's now blocking your driveway, hop around in circles, practice spotting so you don't get dizzy next time you hop around in circles, send me money, play with your cat, read Slashdot, look at the constellations, bugtest Firefox, play chess on the computer, write a paper so you'll have one ready next time your teacher assigns one, learn to juggle, hunt down other cool things to do, meditate, clean your room, catalogue an obscure source of data and put it online, do push-ups, write posts for your blog so you'll have some ready the next time you get writer's block, do your taxes ahead of time, practice backflips. Congratulations: it's morning.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I don't understand people. They're stupid. This, I don't get.

Now, I can understand the casual, 'I'm just moseying through life--I don't need to think about every little thing' attitude. I don't like it, but it's just laziness. But it's when you want to find an answer and still refuse to think that makes no sense.

I recently posted a contest to guess the cash content of my wallet. Unsurprisingly, no one's gotten it, but after I while, I gave a hint: 'How many pennies would a sensible person have in his wallet'.

Nearly everyone ignored this. One guy popped in to say 'None, they're useless by themselves'. Of course, the tires on my car are useless by themselves, yet I keep them there whenever I want to go some place. Mentioning this merely confused the nut, though.

Anyway, I don't have the optimal number of coins in my pocket. Clearly, what one wants for exact change-making ability is 4*0.01 + 1*0.05 + 2*0.10 + 3*0.25 + optional: 4*1.00 or 2*1.00 (if you have a two dollar bill). This assumes you get to replenish your wallet between each transaction, of course.

I go for 4*0.25 because someone might want 'change for a dollar', and wouldn't be happy to be given a dollar bill for their dollar bill. (Though an excuse to short-change them one cent as a fee could be nice. Hmmm...) I have 8*0.10 because I like dimes. I have 2*0.05 because...well, no good reason.

I'm also lacking any ones at the moment, which is a problem.

Luckily I very rarely use cash.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Philosophers came up with ID a couple thousand years ago, and it's been revisited many, many times. I first heard of it many years ago under it's traditional name 'The Watchmaker Analogy'. In short:

You're walking out in the desert and you find a golden pocket watch with lots of little gears and everything inside and it keeps perfect time. 'Amazing!' you say. 'A pocket watch has randomly formed from the sand!'

This seems absurd. A reasonable person assumes there's a watchmaker who created it, because it's a really complicated thing and it would be stupid not to assume that it was created by an intelligent being.

So too is it with the universe.
This is a really good argument. That's right, ID is good. ID is a brilliant philosophical argument that we've been teaching in philosophy courses for hundreds of years. Because it's a most excellent argument for the existence of god.

But here's the thing: ID is a brilliant philosophical argument that we've been teaching in philosophy courses for hundreds of years. Do you see the words 'science' or 'scientific' in the previous sentence? No, because ID is a brilliant philosophical argument. Not science. No one for a second considered this science until very recently when the religious fanatics needed a new way to force their philosophical views into science classes. It hasn't changed. What makes something science hasn't changed. Only one thing has changed about it recently: politicians decided they needed to declare it science to push their own agenda.

That's not cool.

Science is science (thank you, Aristotle!) while philosophy is not (though it keeps spawning sciences).

* ID is not based on empirical evidence. (That the universe is complex?)
* ID doesn't give us any predictions about future observations. (If we continue to examine the universe, we'll continue to see that it's complex? We're going to find the designer if we look over in that star system?)
* ID is not falsifiable. ('Oh, we were mistaken: the universe actually isn't complex'?)

Actually, one thing has changed other than the politicians: science has shown that ID doesn't really apply to the main things we thought it did: life. Yeah, the universe is pretty complex, but we now have proof that there is a simple working mechanism by which complex things arrive from simple ones. Higher lifeforms don't need an intelligent creator. They just need lower lifeforms. And the lowest lifeforms are simple enough that they don't need a creator.

Friday, May 25, 2007

You know how, like, every DVD you buy in the US has subtitles and often audio in Spanish and French? And sometimes Portuguese or Korean.

But never German.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

On Saturday, Charles and I were petting a dog1 and Charles commented 'Don't you wish you smelled as good as a dog?'

It took me a moment to understand what the hell he meant. Sure, this dog was quite clean (though her breath was awful), but...why would I want to smell like her?

Charles has now been educated as to the difference between 'good' and 'well'. These are different words with different meaning.

Now if only people would learn to adverbalise the rest of their adverbs. These Things Matter.

1 84% wolf, say the owners. I find that very unlikely. 87.5%, maybe.

Monday, May 21, 2007

With this post, May 2007 is my most active month on this blog ever, surpassing October 2004.

I'm also on my longest regular postingness. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (or very shortly past midnight UTC in one instance) for, well, a while now.

Anyway, I just noticed that in 2004, 2005, and 2006, October was my most active month. Probably because I'm all raring to write for NaNo, but can't yet so I blog instead. Maybe. Maybe not.

Of course, my most regular blogging ever was November 2006 on my NaNoWriMo 2006 blog. Nearly every day for a month (I finished early) for a total of 32 posts.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Today I am old enough to be a member of the US Congress. Yesterday I was too young to serve as a representative of the people, despite being older than around 30%of them. I'm still too young to serve as Senator or President, because it would be just awful if people were represented by someone close to their own age.

(I hope this internet doesn't get stuck in clogged tubes for several days. If it does, I apologise for the lateness. It's those damned kids and their MySpaces.)

Friday, May 18, 2007

When I first got my digital camera, I developed an eye for 'That needs to be photographed!' and I tend to be overly liberal with it. Film is free with a digital camera.

Anywhere, before while I saw watching Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings, I'd often feel compelled to photograph it. It was rife with photographable things and scenes.

But, damn it! they weren't real things. They were already on video. Peter stole the photographing from me. Nothing for me to do but watch.

Now I'm watching them on my laptop, and while I still don't photograph the screen, I can now take screenshots. It's pointless and stupid, but such a relief to be able to do something like photographing this stuff.

I'm sure there are other crazy photographers out there you can sympathise.

The subtitles show up in the screenshots, though, which annoys me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I once found a little plastic 'walkie-talkie' on the ground. It wasn't a really one--just a simple toy that looked like one: a piece of soft grey plastic (well, two pieces, front and back). It was about the size of a mobile phone and in pretty bad shape. It was splitting along the seam, and the short antenna was falling apart (eventually it fell off entirely). No photo, sadly.

So what did I do with this useless piece of trash? I put it in my pocket and carried it around with me for about a year. During that year, I only had one opportunity to lend someone my 'mobile phone', though it came out once at the Philosophy Club too for some reason. Two years in my pocket for one or two jokes.

Well worth it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Pro-gun control people like to ask 'Are you in a militia?' Now, Amendment II doesn't say '...and no one else should have guns', but they almost have a point. But that they have to ask shows their ignorance: I'm a 24-year-old American male. I'm legally required to be in a militia.

I don't want to be. I don't get paid for it. It's not very well-regulated like the National Guard, but I'm in it. I was legally coerced into joining. (They very rarely prosecute you these days, but it's still illegal for me to not sign up, and various nice things to depend on it.)

I don't have or particularly want a gun (though I want the right).

But, yes, I'm in a militia. Until May 20, 2007.

(Almost done with my compulsory military service, and the closest I've come to the military is helping backstage at a ballet performance on base. Whew!)

Friday, May 11, 2007

When dumpster diving, I passed over a lot of towels. Clothes I took, but blankets and towels I skipped, mostly.

Now I'm regretting that. I could be standing outside passing out free towels.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

School's out at ECU!

Friday was the last day of exams, so I popped over there to check out the dumpsters. Nothing great. Some clothes. A working TV (haven't yet tried its built-in VCR). A DVD player (haven't tested it yet). An iron. Some books. Some miscellaneous junk.

But then Commencement was on Sunday. So I went back. Loads of stuff. Mostly mediocre stuff, but that's fine. Two footlockers (each with a broken hinge fixed simply by sliding in a nail), piles and piles of clothes, a blender, an iron, another chair, a fair number of dishes, some untested computer peripherals (including a webcam. I plugged it in (USB) and the computer saw it as something, but it didn't show any signs of life. I need a video cable for it).

On Friday a janitor there told me she'd found two working DVD players that morning.

Anyhoo, not the best year ever, but well worth the two trips to Greenville.

Monday, May 07, 2007

I was riding home when I noticed the speed limit sign said '55 MPH', but the van clock only said 4:33. 'We should accelerate 11.7MPH.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

Looking down upon a 19 inch CRT above a fairly-large-but-very-small-seeming laptop. (This time cleverly edited so as not to display my credit card number)
Remember how I added a CRT to my laptop? Well, though I said 19" on that post, it was actually a 17". (I guess. It's smaller than my new monitor, which I'm fairly certain is a 19" and is certianly smaller than my broken 21") However, since I had two unused 19" CRTs sitting around, I just upgraded again. I still can't get to 1600*1200 on the big one, but things are bigger now, which is nice. Probably uses more power, too. Bummer.

Oh, how I wish I could add a third monitor. I have three or four monitors sitting in my closet, two unused downstairs, and one taking up space on the floor of my room.

Anyone want a spare CRT?

UPDATE: It was all blurry--bad dot pitch maybe? I dunno--so I switched to the other 19" CRT and this one can go up to 1792*1344. Wicked! Of course, now I'll have the annoyance of the top monitor being wider (pixel-wise) than the LCD. But I can live with that.

UPDATE MORE: It was all black, so I did run cmd alt+enter alt+enter and it was fixed, but with the scrolling desktop. Apparently it can now only go up to 1600*1200. :-(

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Bank of America. Oh oh oh!

Logging in to their online banking system is a pain. Why? Because I know my SSN (used as the username) and I know my password, but they've decided that's not good enough, no. I enter my SSN and then they ask me 'What's your maternal grandmother's maiden name?' Now, I know the answer to this. You could probably figure it out too. Sadly, Bank of America doesn't have a clue, and I don't recall telling them anything but the truth.

So how do I log in? I try answering a few times, and finally it asks my father's middle name. This one I know. This one I know you can find in a matter of minutes using Google. My father goes by his middle name. And Bank of American knows the correct answer to this one. So finally I manage to get in.

By 'in' I mean I'm to the point where I can enter my password.

By the way, if you ever want to be annoying, all you need to do is get to this point and then enter the wrong password a few times.They'll shut down online access to my account until I dig up some silly information and fill it in. Could be worse. My brother had to call them with his account number and a recent transaction--and he was in Germany at the time, meaning he couldn't unless he wished to spend lots of money.

So long as I'm explaining how Bank of America's security sucks, I should mention SiteKey. SiteKey is an image you choose that they show you after you supply your SSN and the answer to the security question. If you see the SiteKey image that you chose when setting up your account, you know it's really Bank of America and you can safely enter your password.

Either that or it's a phishing site that took your SSN and security question answers soon as you provided them, showed them to the real Bank of America, got your SiteKey image, and then showed it to you, defeating this brillant security measure in a matter of seconds.

Okay, so maybe they'll notice if a single phishing site is sending these requests to BoA for every person they fool, but how many of you think this isn't easy to hide sufficiently well to avoid any automatic detection BoA may have set up? Yet another example of fake security. it makes you feel safe, unless you're competent and actually think it through.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I used to tell people to not write down their passwords.

Then I started helping out at a website that only stores hashes of user's passwords, and no password-resetting mechanism. If someone loses their password, I can reset it manually, given proof that they're the actual owner, but I hate doing that, in part because my idea of proof is that you have the password to the account. A site where 0.469980026% of all accounts have the password 'password' and 0.403889085% have the password '1'. A site where there are 34179 passwords among 68088 accounts. Okay, really, these statistics are better than I expected. In fact, I cannot believe I got those queries right. Must be all those people who register and then never log on. They have strong, distinct passwords. The active users don't.

Anyway, they use weak passwords and still they forget their passwords a lot. So now I tell them to write their password down. There are betters ways of doing it. Personally, I want a secure hash I can calculate in my head--and there are some good ideas on how to do something along those lines--but most of these people are youngish kids.

Anyway, this person presented a good argument that struck me. In my pocket, I have 43.19 USD (often over 100USD) and 0.11 Euroes, 47.11 USD on a Barnes and Noble gift card, three credit cards with a total credit line of over 10 000 USD, and keys to my house, van, and truck. Most people probably have much more than that.

If my pocket is secure enough for all that, it's secure enough for my password. Not my GPG passphrase, perhaps, but most passwords aren't worth more than the rest of my wallet. You don't even need to write it down in plaintext. A shift cypher will stop casual thieves. Or a different font (I sometimes take notes in Tolkien's Elvish Tengwar script. I also know most of the Greek alphabet. Studied Russian? Arabic? Mix a couple alphabets together. Use a shorthand of your own. (I have quite a few symbols I made up for taking notes. Surely you have some too?)

If you're really paranoid, encrypt your password with a one-time pad and store the password list somewhere secure and the one-time pad somewhere independently secure. (IE, finding a way to access one will not help me access the other.) Yeah, you still have to memorise your passwords to use them, but the cost of not remembering is now that you only temporarily lose access--just until you go to these two secure areas and combine them--freeing you to use a stronger password than if memorisation was your only recourse. But what I'm mostly concerned with here are the non-security-minded users. Most people don't consider how long it takes the bad guy to guessing their password using a computer. They just think about whether they can remember the password and whether typing it in each time takes too long. Security means keeping unauthorised users out and letting authorised users in. If the security-minded ignore the second half, we miss the priority of the average user, so they ignore our advice.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

My laptop on my desk
I see this topic on my laptop LCD.

The uneven legs of a wooden chair.
I hear the chair wobble as I sit on it.

Luca with his mouth wide open. See how empty it is?
I taste the empty mouth of someone who needs to brush his teeth.

Luca's foot resting on a yellow plastic basket.
I feel the plastic beneath my foot.

I smell nothing.

Monday, April 30, 2007

The ISS is nice, I suppose. But what do they even do up there on it? Do you know? I don't know. It's probably useful stuff. Learning more about long-term space habitation is always good.

The Hubble Space Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope (image from NASA)

But what I do know is what the Hubble Telescope does: it gives us enormous amounts of information about the universe by showing us detailed visuals we otherwise wouldn't have. It helped is measure the Hubble constant much better, it taught us about black holes, galaxies, the early universe, future universal expansion, extrasolar planets, nearby planets and what happens when a comet crashes into a planet... Hundreds of important papers have been published based on images from Hubble Space Telescope.

Second to going to the Moon, this thing is probably NASA's greatest success, and that's pretty darn good. Did we go to the Moon once and then say 'Okay, that's all'? No, we went back again and again, because we were still learning new stuff. Eventually we stopped. The budget was shrinking, probably because it got to be old hat in the eyes of many Americans. The alternative would have been to kick it up a notch: build a base, head on to Mars, or, oh!, how about putting a big telescope on the surface of the Moon? No atmosphere there, eh? But, no. We let that die for the time being. Moved on to other things. Such as the Hubble Space Telescope.

That they want to let the telescope die isn't what bothers me. I can't even grok that bit of news. What irks me is that they haven't sent up an entire array of more powerful orbital telescopes appals me. It's time to kick the Hubble Space Telescope up a notch. It's still giving us good information, but it can only point in one direction at once, and there's a lot of stuff out there for us to study. Let's build some more telescopes and start looking around. (Can't afford it? We could stop so many things like the B-2 Spirit [2 100 000 000USD a pop])

Sunday, April 29, 2007

There's a train that runs behind our house. Well, behind the woods behind the huge lot behind our house. You can hear it when it drives by. Plus, it likes to toot its horn.

Anyway, it always goes by at 1am. Only I've been wondering lately whether it does any more. I tune it out, and I'm usually asleep at that time.

But I hear it now. It's there. And tooty.

I don't mind trains. Trains come by and then are gone. Cars on the highway, however, are intermittent and just don't stop coming.

(Hello, train. I said you come by and then are gone. You can stop tooting now. Jeez.)

Friday, April 27, 2007

A pile of cinderblocks
The mission: investigate the claim that the Great Pyramid of Giza is roughly 146 meters tall.
The method: In the famous Mythbusters tradition, I will attempt to replicate the feat myself. If I don't succeed within ten minutes, the myth will be busted.

Step one: I'll take the blocks from there and pile them over here.

A cinderblock pyramid
After roughly fifteen minutes of non-stop construction, my pyramid is as big as it's going to get. The time limit has been reached.

Luca Masters sitting atop his cinderblock pyramid.
I've never visited Egypt, but I imagine it must be something like this.

Luca Masters next to his cinderblock pyramid.
Alas, after fifteen minutes of construction, the pyramid is not even two meters tall. This proves conclusively that if the Great Pyramid of Giza exists, it's a lot shorter than people claim. Probably just a lie the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism likes to spread.

Wikipedia claims that the Great Pyramid of Giza stood 146.6 meters tall when the Egyptians built it in 2570bce.

Convinced this was a myth, I headed outside and attempted to construct such a pyramid of my own. After over ten minutes of trying, however, my attempt at a perfect replica was still under two meters heigh. Thus, we now have scientific proof that the Great Pyramid of Giza does not exist, or that if it does, it's a lot shorter than they claim.

Another myth busted. Now where's my tv series?