jwgh: (bunny ears)
Is My Child Becoming Homosexual? If he doesn't want to grow up to be something macho, like a police officer, an Indian chief, a construction worker, a soldier, a leatherman, or a cowboy, then maybe so! Also, note that hanging out with girls is really gay.

But if so, don't worry. Professional help is available. To help your child:

1. Reassure him that you love him very much just the way he is.

2. For God's sake, try to fix him as quickly as possible.

This public service announcement is brought to you by stupid people.
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Televangelist Gene Scott died at the age of 75.

I know I saw him clicking around on teevee from time to time, in particular in around '93 when I was spending a fair amount of time watching cable and waiting for temp jobs.

He had sort of a distinctive look -- he would wear dark glasses all the time and would occasionally put reading glasses on over his dark glasses, which is not necessarily something you see a lot. He was sort of scruffy.

He would have sort of pledge breaks where there would just be a phone number on the screen to call to give money and there would be a video of horses or something and some nifty jazz would be playing, leading one to think that at least one corner of his psyche was sort of hip.

He was constantly asking for money. It was really just out there to see. He didn't seem to care whether anyone thought he was greedy or what. Probably many televangelists are like that, but Gene was the only one I ever saw, so it seemed pretty novel to me.

I remember one time he give the following little speech, or something like it.

He began, "Now, I've been getting some criticism, some letters lately complaining, 'Gene, all you ever do is ask for money!'"

There was a dramatic pause.

Then he thundered, "But I wouldn't have to do that if you would just open up your wallets and give!"

Here's an article about him from the LA Times in 1994 which touches on some of the above, including the horses.
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Justice Stephen G. Breyer wondered about other illegal items. "You know, he grows heroin, cocaine, [or] tomatoes that are going to have genomes in them that could, at some point, lead to tomato children," said Breyer, spinning out what he conceded was a complicated hypothetical question. Are all these beyond the regulatory power of the federal government? he asked.
jwgh: (interroscarf)
The phrase 'stingy bastard' came up today, and I was reminded of this nifty rant by George Hammand, which just might be his best post ever.

So my survey question is: What will you do when your theories of physics are proven to be correct?

I think I'll rob a bank.
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Douglas Eagleson is a guy who used to post to sci.math and some of the other sci.* groups. I think I never could figure out what he was talking about.

Recently when I was poking around the sci.math archives looking for something else I came across a series of jokes (or maybe plots for a comic strip) that he wrote. Later, he provided commentary on them.

They are so strange that I wanted to reproduce them here. ([livejournal.com profile] mmcirvin commented at the time, "You may have accidentally read some comedy intended for robots.") I will put the original jokes in boldface and his later commentary in italics. Plus, I'll include the commentary I posted to ARK on the whole thing, because I can.

the jokes )
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As near as I can remember, this is something I devoted an afternoon of thought to back when I worked at a miniature golf course and essentially spent the whole day in a gazebo by myself with very little to do.

I had read some stories (maybe in science fiction books, maybe in comics, probably both) in which time stops for everyone except one person or group of people.

The two standard approaches to this situation are:

1) Time flows normally for you and you can basically do whatever you do normally while everyone around you appears to be frozen. (So you can breathe, gravity appears to be normal, you can pick up and move around objects that you would normally be able to move, etc.)

2) You're unable to change anything, so you can just walk around and observe things. In extreme versions of this you can't even move air, so you are stuck in place and suffocate. (I think Borges had a story where a guy who is about to be executed is frozen in time, so that even his body is completely immobile, but his thoughts are able to continue.)

I decided that the second version was more reasonable for various reasons. One of the ideas I came up with (or borrowed from somewhere -- it isn't the most original idea, but then few if any of my ideas are) is the situation where instead of time stopping it slows down for you. At or near the extreme this has a similar effect to scenario (2) above, but there should be some point at which your muscles are able to handle the (to you) increased inertia of everything around you, so that you can breathe, move things, and so on. (See, F=MA, and A=S/T2, so if 1 minute of your time = 2 minutes of the outside world's time, then you have to exert four times as much force [as far as you're concerned] to move the same amount of mass the same distance as if your times matched up, which to you feels like the object has four times as much mass. Right?)

Another thing that a sped-up person would notice would be that it was suddenly cooler. Air molecules would seem to be moving slower, and of course that corresponds to a lower temperature. If you were sped up enough you could be frozen to death at room temperature. [In my original post I got this backwards, because I am a dope.]

Of course, there's no particular reason that this time-speeding process should be restricted to living beings, so I next thought about what would happen if you modified a glass of water so that time for it passed twice as quickly as the outside world. How could you distinguish it from a normal glass of water? The previous discussion indicates that one method I thought of is that they would boil and freeze at different temperatures.

Then I started thinking of what would happen if you mixed sped-up water with normal water and eventually I realized that it was all more work than it was worth, even if it did let me pass the time at the old miniature golf course. There may be a way to make a nifty science fiction story out of this, but I don't know what it is.

[I thought about this whole thing again recently because this week's New Yorker contains an article by Oliver Sacks about people whose subjective senses of time differ from the norm. (Unfortunately it doesn't appear to be in the online edition.) The article doesn't have anything to do with any of the junk discussed above, of course.]
jwgh: (accordion santa)
[livejournal.com profile] urbeatle posted earlier that he took one of those online Myers-Briggs tests, which reminded me that a few years back my employer paid for me to take an 'official' personality test from the Frank Whyte Education Services people and later to take a training class where we learned about the different kinds of personalities and what-not.

I'm deeply suspicious of the whole thing because, first, it's not really clear to me how falsefiable it is (I believe the instructor said at one point that the test was incredibly accurate and at another that your results might vary depending on what was going on the day you took the test, etc.) and also how meaningful it is (the choice of the four dualities seems pretty arbitrary; I bet there are others that could have been chosen that would be as measurable or more so). But, you know, the whole thing was sort of interesting.

Anyway, while I was cleaning my room the other day I happened to find the report they sent me, so let it be recorded that I am an INFP! Now if someone asks me while I'm online I might actually be able to find this information.

They also gave me a little bar graph showing that my test results showed that my preferences had the following level of 'clarity':

Introversion: Moderate [opposed to Extraversion]
iNtuition: Clear [opposed to Sensing]
Feeling: Clear [opposed to Thinking]
Perceiving Moderate [opposed to Judging]

These are along a scale that goes: [no label], Slight, Moderate, Clear, and Very Clear. [Insert Scientology joke here if desired.]

My recollection is that the majority of people are I, N, F, and P as opposed to their opposites, making me a super-freak! Phear me!
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[livejournal.com profile] manfire and I were having a discussion and he mentioned the odd little final chapter of Scott Adams's The Dilbert Future, where he talks about how affirmations can change your life and evolution is wrong.

I was reminded that in Scott Adams's newsletter he once tried to use the power of affirmations to save the Dilbert TV show:

-> The initial attempt -- everyone was supposed to use affirmations to get the Dilbert show a 7 share starting in November of 1999.

-> A December 1999 update:
On the surface, it would appear the method didn't work. But something interesting happened, a coincidence of sorts, just as predicted.

-> The show gets taken off the air in May of 2000.

(I like Scott Adams's books a lot, even if he is a little nutty.)
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Really I have only ever had online conversations with two .net kooks.

The first is Archimedes Plutonium who I first ran into probably a little less than ten years ago. My favorite thing he ever said about me was:

Someone should write a song titled the Birdbrains of Mathematics dedicated of Jacob Haller.

The other is George Hammand, who told me once:

Of course you're an oxymoron ignoramus who probably says "hi everybody" when he walks in the room.

Do these guys have my number or what?

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My mother got me a subscription to Bottom Line - Personal for Christmas. Usually there isn't too much that interests me in it, but there are a few nice articles this week:

* Botox Isn't Just For Wrinkles. Surprising Benefits from This Wonder Drug. You can use it to cure writer's cramp!

* Breakfast Is the New Lunch: And other new rules for success. "Don't let others derail you! Write the phrase, Nothing and nobody can affect me negatively. Put it where you can see it. Let it remind you of your personal power."

And, of course ...

* What your handwriting reveals about you.

It gives some general outlines and then goes on to analyze the signatures of a bunch of well-known people. My favorite:
Charles Manson's signature is elaborate, and the swirling lines keep it hidden -- he didn't want to be seen as he really was. Close inspection reveals the design of the swastika superimposed on it, a sign of Manson's commitment to a dictatorial fantasy.
So remember, if someone ever incorporates a swastika in into their signature, it just may be a subtle warning sign of some sort!
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[This was posted to ARK, and then I decided it was more Livejournalish.]

One of the features of my long and troubled journey towards an undergraduate degree was that I took a fair number of summer courses. One of the first was a course entitled 'Slavic Science Fiction and Fantasy', which was taught by an Eastern European gentleman whose name I forget.

We read an awful lot of science fiction from Russia, Poland, and other Slavic countries, but one possibly unexpected feature of the course was that one night a week we were to get together and watch a movie of the professor's choosing -- occasionally a movie made in a Slavic country (we watched the Tarkovsky version of Solaris for instance) but more usually an American movie that the professor thought was Russian-influenced or otherwise important. (I recall that we watched Slaughterhouse Five, the first little bit of Fahrenheit 451, and I think Blade Runner.)

One evening we got there and the professor told us he wouldn't be able to stay for the whole movie, but he had something for us to watch while he was gone. It was the 'Face on Mars' "documentary". He said something to the effect that he wasn't sure what to make of it but some of the things that it described seemed pretty interesting. Then he started the video going and left.

Most of my classmates didn't last that long and left after fifteen minutes or a half hour. Finally there were just three of us left, watching the video and trying to determine what, exactly, the professor intended for us to take away from the experience.

At last, the narrator said something like 'And so we SEE that the ratio of the height and width of the Pyramid of Giza is exactly the same as the ratio of the width of the South American's statue to the height of its head' and one of us laughed involuntarily. We took this as a signal to give up and we all left.

I don't believe any of this was discussed in any of the remaining classes.

This class taught me how to pronounce 'Stanislaw' correctly.


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Jacob Haller

October 2015

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