31 July 2007

External Confirmation of Licensing for images to be used on Wikipedia

The following images, all of them taken by me, are licensed CC-BY-SA-2.5 under Creative Commons:

The picture of the RV Savannah is also available as a print at DeviantArt, for either 9x12in or 5x7in. Come make me rich. :)

30 July 2007

*mutter mutter*

My next car shall be able to make "real" U-turns.


How to sell me music

The first time I hear a future favorite song, it generally makes no impression on me whatsoever. Then, as I hear it repeatedly on the radio, something about it will catch my attention - could be a particular musical phrase, could be something in the lyrics, or just something about the singer's voice or one of the instruments.

After about ten times, I start paying attention. Ten times after that, I become obsessed, track it down over the Internet, and start playing it on repeat. I also start looking up info about the band. Then, when I'm done playing it on repeat, I consider buying it.

I also start browsing other songs by the same band, either by playing whatever else is available in full for free, or by putting the song on one of my Pandora stations and seeing what else turns up to catch my attention. Lather, rinse, repeat. If enough songs by the same band turn out to catch my attention, I start thinking about buying full albums.

If the song isn't freely available somewhere for me to hear in full on repeat, I will never reach the stage of wanting to buy it.

Underlying Motives II - Form and Function

To understand a people, study their underlying motives.

Feminine people (mostly women) are mainly concerned with how things look. Things like physical appearance, such as clothes, weight, and age. Things like homes, gardens, and venues, for how clean they are and how they're decorated. Things like social interactions and how they play out, from which arises etiquette. The proper time and place for drama. The appearance of appropriate sentiments, competence, and morality in the eyes of the public.

Masculine people (mostly men) are mainly concerned with what things do. Everything is a tool. Clothes are tools to protect the physical body from the elements. Hands are tools to make hammers, which are tools to drive nails into boards. Houses are for shelter, storing items, and providing physical structure. Food is fuel for the body in the same way gas is fuel for the car. Drugs are tools to heal or take away pain. Words are tools to convey thoughts. Art is for expressing emotions. There are tools to make more tools, and tools to fix broken tools. Tools to look at how things in the world work on their own, in order to turn them into useful tools.

Thus, little girls like to play dressup with dolls, and little boys like toys with lots of moving parts.

28 July 2007

Virtual Mules

The one thing that would vastly improve Diablo II for me is a single big stash space, shared by every character I have on a given account. Right now it's eight little spaces. As a result, I spend at least half of my playtime passing items back and forth among them (a process called "muling"). Last night I started a second "real" character, and it took me five hours of muling to set him up with items collected by the first "real" character, before I even started playing. This is retarded. It's a game. Why am I spending my playtime doing mindless tedious tasks?

Yes, I know, the creators of Diablo II insist that item collecting is not the point of the game. I say to them, you're the ones who are missing the point. The storyline and quests are only entertaining the first time (and for some people, sometimes not even then). Once you've done them, there is nothing else to do.


1. What's a mule?
A mule is a character that was created for the express purpose of storing things in its stash space. The term "muling" means "transfer of items from one character to another." How to mule in Diablo 2 explains it in more detail.

2. Why did it take me five hours?
a) Because I only have two computers, and can therefore only have two characters in a game at a time. This means that on one computer, I have one character stand in the game, while on the other computer, other characters take turns coming and going, and they pass items back and forth a little at a time. I had a total of one "real" character and seven mules when I started setting up the second one. By the time I was done, I'd decided to start the second one on a different account, where he now already has one mule of his own. To make it more complicated, I had to delete one of the mules of the first character, because I wanted to use his name for the second character, which meant scrounging together enough space to hold all of the stuff he was holding.

b) Because I'm terribly disorganized about stashing things wherever they fit. I do have a system, but I refuse to go to the lengths of actually creating a spreadsheet to track everything, the way some of the hardcore players do. Also, half of my good beginning-level equipment was being worn by the mules, and I had to look at the clothes on each one individually (seven total mules plus their hirelings, which are mostly where I store my low-level bows). Also also, once I had multiple versions of the same items next to each other, there was a lengthy winnowing process of discarding inferior copies.

And also also also, there's been a bug since the latest version was implemented, which sometimes causes the game to crash when I exit games. This is why my slower computer just has the one character standing there the whole time, instead of also switching them in and out; on its older operating system, game crash means having to reboot.

3. If I hate it so much, why do I bother collecting stuff at all?
Because you never know when you might need something! Unfortunately, I am a hopeless packrat, and even though I consciously threw away a whole ton of crap that I didn't want (or, more accurately, dumped them in "mule park" games where people stand around in camp with their mule characters while organizing their stuff; one player's trash is another player's treasure), and even some relatively good items that I should've kept, my first character still somehow ended up with a staff of seven mules. (He's a paladin. He'd probably like the idea of having staff.)

It's a slow upgrade process of constantly improving stuff. Items that were good when I started from scratch are now crap, and much of the stuff I consider good now will be crap later, and I'll throw them all out. But I need to keep them now because they're the best I have right now.

At some point in the future, I will hopefully get around to writing a post drawing some parallels between Diablo II items and Wikipedia articles. The lengthy process of starting a second character has been rather enlightening in some interesting ways.

26 July 2007

My name is Ozymandias

Today, after two months of hard work, I launched my article about the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography upon the general public.

Today I also sent around an email to SkIO's director, publicity guy, and a faculty member who helped with the research, asking them to nitpick it to death. And began pursuit of the oldest among the research staff for comments from a non-faculty perspective.

After their feedback, I believe I've got the ambitions and stubbornness to pursue Wikipedia's lucky special gold star, awarded to their very best articles.

Let the crumbling of my works begin!

25 July 2007

Libertarianism 101 by Ron Paul

note: video is 65 minutes long.

People have told me that I'm a Libertarian. After watching this, I suppose I am, at least when it comes to social issues; one of my life creeds is "So long as it harms no one, do as you will," which appears to be the underlying philosophy behind Libertarianism as well.

However, I'm not sure I'd go quite so far as to extend the concept to businesses. Businesses don't have the same motivations and goals that individuals do. Free markets sound great on paper, but if we had that originally and now we don't, the first question on my mind is "why not? what went wrong with it to cause it to shift away from that?" Also, for every example Dr. Paul gave of a spectacular success of the free market approach, I could think of an equally spectacular failure that he didn't mention.

I'm not sure I'd go to quite the decentralization extremes that Ron Paul advocates either. Some things really are much better left in the hands of the national government, and not individual smaller communities.

Overall his ideas intrigued me, and will leave me with much food for thought for some time to come.

24 July 2007

Cheese Mantacaos

I've finally found something I can make that's suitable for bringing to a potluck. These are described in the cookbook as "the Platonic ideal of our packaged cheese puffs, with the texture of macaroons and the flavors of fresh cheese and fragrant spices" (Mark Bittman, The Best Recipes in the World p. 35).

  • One stick butter (8 tablespoons)
  • One egg
  • Two cups good quality cheese (cheddar, swiss, gruyere, etc.), grated or shredded
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons cumin (recipe calls for toasted seeds, I used powder and it came out fine)
  • 0.5 teaspoon salt
  • 0.5 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • paprika

    Mix everything except the paprika in a bowl. Make one-inch-diameter balls. Bake at 400 degreesoF for about ten minutes. Sprinkle with paprika.

If you make larger balls and bake twice as long, you can also turn them into cheese biscuits. They're good that way, too.

23 July 2007

How to get into a hot car

In the heat of summer, the first thing I do when I reach my car is to open all the doors. First the front passenger, then the rear passenger, then the back gate (it's a station wagon), then the rear driver's side, then the driver. Then I roll down the windows in reverse order - driver, rear driver's side, front passenger. (The windows are manual; I fear floods. I skip the rear passenger window because I can't reach it from the driver's seat.) By the time I'm back at the front passenger door, the ovenlike heat wave has wafted its way out, and if I'm lucky there's enough of a breeze to cool the inside of the car to the same temperature as the outside. Then I close the doors in the same order I opened them, and get into the car with the last one.

People tend to stare at me while I'm doing all this. The one time I saw someone else doing this, they were sheepish and apologetic when they noticed me noticing. I guess it just doesn't look very cool. Even though the whole point is to end up cool.

22 July 2007

Of Fish and Ponds

The world is made up of many ponds.

Sometimes a big fish in one pond will visit another pond.
Sometimes the fish has trouble coping when it discovers that the other pond already has its own big fish.
Sometimes the fish is unable to grasp that in the other pond, it's only a small fish.

It does no good, in those times, for the fish to insist that the other pond must change to look like its own pond, where it can once more be a big fish.
It does no good for the fish to denounce the other pond as a cesspool when it is refused.

Always approach the world as if you are a small fish. More good comes when you recognize that you always have room to grow.

The above was originally written on July 7 for my Wikipedia User Page "Thought of the Month." Since then, two people uninvolved in its raison d'être have commented that it's good wisdom in general. So I'm reprinting it here.

20 July 2007

American Tipping

The tipping customs in the U.S. are a bizarre mess of unspoken rules that are explained via doublespeak if they're explained at all. You tip restaurant waitstaff, but not shoe store clerks. Taxi drivers but not bus drivers. Hairdressers but not dental hygienists. Belly dancers but not ballet dancers.

And then, today, I learned that while you don't tip chiropractors, you do tip massage therapists.

The massage itself was good (my first one!). It showed me a large number of spots on my body where my muscles are sore all the time, except I'm so used to it that I don't notice. And there are weird connections everywhere - sometimes she would be working on one area, and a whole separate area would be twinging like mad, and I would get all tensed up in response. She was good about explaining some of why that is. So although I wouldn't say it was a relaxing experience, it was definitely enlightening.

Anyway, it didn't even occur to me that tipping might be expected until the end of the session when I was at the counter paying. As a result, I'd only brought enough cash to cover the cost they'd told me in advance. Without thinking about it, I asked them directly if I was supposed to tip, and the reply was: "Oh no, you don't have to do that. It's not mandatory or anything."

For those unfamiliar with tipping doublespeak, that means: "yes."

So naturally after I'd asked that without thinking, I also didn't tip because I didn't have the funds. Which means I suck as a person for being insulting and she probably hates me now. :(

19 July 2007

Underlying Motives I - Time and Money

To understand a people, study their underlying motives.

In a GoogleTalks video, Cory Doctorow said that in general, people between the ages of 18 and 34 are cash poor and time rich, while people 34+ are cash rich and time poor. This means that the first group of people will go to ludicrous lengths to avoid having to pay for anything. Meanwhile, the second group doesn't have time to figure out ways to avoid paying for things, plus they can easily afford to pay for whatever they want, and so paying for things is a non-issue.

He was talking about digital media - music, videos, games, software, books (pdfs), etc. I'm thinking it could be extended to many other aspects of life as well.

18 July 2007

On Little White Lies

Lying is easy. It always seems so harmless at the time.

But then you have to remember what you said the last time you lied.
And then you have to support it by adding more lies.
And then you discover all the things you now have to hide.

Soon you're making a whole separate persona that isn't you.
All your friends are friends of the persona, and not you.
Everyone new you meet through those friends will also meet the persona, and not you.

It's isolating and exhausting, keeping that persona from crumbling, knowing that even you may no longer know you at all.
Knowing that the longer it stays the harder it will fall.
Knowing when that fall does come, it will probably destroy them all.

Lying is hard. It will kill you, slowly, from inside.

17 July 2007

Arguably the lowest point of a thoroughly aggravating day

I returned from a fruitless coding session with a coworker to discover that an enormous cockroach was munching on my sandwich.

In broad daylight! The audacity! These so-called "water bugs" all need to die. -.-

16 July 2007

As I descend into coding madness...

Huh. The "R" programming language. Never heard of it.


Documentation says it's related to S-Plus. Never heard of that, either.


Huh. This stuff sure is focused on doing statistics type things.


And here's some documentation that says it can also take data from SAS. I've heard of SAS. That's a statistics package. I was the only biology student in that stats class that was good at it. SAS was fun. I liked playing with univariate data. But then we moved on to a different stats package for the second half of the course. What was it called ... S-Plus.


Too bad I didn't like S-Plus much.
Too bad that was ten years ago.
Too bad I can't remember anything about it, except it had objects.

Now why exactly are we using a stats package to do calculus?

Conundrum of the day:

Should the database be sending the data to R? Or should R be getting the data out of the database? Which should be first, the chicken or the egg?

And do I increase my geekiness if I have command line interfaces open for PostgreSQL, R, and Matlab at the same time? What if I also open a session to IDL?

15 July 2007

A pet chubsucker

This is a lake chubsucker, Erimyzon sucetta. It was caught with a dipnet from a lake in Wilmington, North Carolina, and it lived in my fishtanks for about two years before it became ill and died. It was a big placid fish that got along splendidly with my clown loaches. I keep its picture in the photo slot of my mousepad.

That was when I was a graduate student several years ago. I have no fishtanks running at the moment. Someday soon I need to start up my 20-gallon again...

14 July 2007

Ow ow ow...

I've always been a runt. No amount of eating will make me fat, and no amount of exercise will make me stronger or give me more endurance. I hit a plateau pretty quickly and that's the end of it.

Yes, I've tried.

In the former case, I was once on a weeklong work cruise where the cook liked me and made sure I was very well fed. He seemed to take it as a personal failing on his part if I didn't eat. If I ever gained any measurable amount of weight, it was then - and it went away a week after the cruise ended. (Alas I forgot to weigh myself on the way off the boat, so now I'll never know how much it actually was.)

As for exercise, I once considered being a geologist. This included a couple field courses in Montana while I was in college. Unfortunately, it turned out that six weeks of mountain hiking for ten hours a day, six days a week, was not going to do anything other than make me miserable at the way everyone else gradually got faster at passing me. I did this twice in two different summers - just to confirm, like a good scientist should.

So I naturally settled into a nice, sedentary life of being in front of the computer all the time.

Then a chiropractor said, "You need to stop that."

So I bought an exercise book he recommended - Core Performance by Mark Verstegen - which I also highly recommend. While I've yet to become fit enough to start Verstegen's pre-beginner-level workout program (the one for the truly pathetic), there are a large number of individual exercises in it that even I can do. And with no equipment!

The first few weeks, my main goal was "to be able to touch my toes." Well, now I can do that when I'm warmed up. I also gained an invisible amount of muscles and discovered the true meaning of hunger. (And now my food bill seems to have doubled...).

Unfortunately, I seem to have reached some plateaus already. I don't seem to be getting any better at the exercises I'm already doing, and any time I try to add more of them, I wind up so sore the next day I can barely move.

Which brings me to the title of this post. I believe it was Thursday when I overexercised. Now it's Saturday. Ow ow ow...

13 July 2007

Nighttime Salt Marsh

His aura spoke of a pale moonlit night, the autumn air cold and crisp, standing still and silent in comforting darkness amidst the shadows of a wide river valley with its meandering stream black against the deep midnight sky.

That line comes to mind whenever I drive over the salt marsh at night. I was describing a necromancer's aura at the time, as it would appear to a shaman. The nighttime marsh inspired me while I was writing it, and now the words in turn inspire me to look more closely at the nighttime marsh.

It's a dark, monochrome kind of beauty. I'm glad it's there for me to enjoy.

12 July 2007

The Price of Gas

Back when I bought my car in 2001, I could fill the whole tank on $12. Even that was expensive compared to ten years before that, when $0.99 per gallon was average and $1.20 was high.

Now it's $2.92 per gallon and closer to $30 for the tank. I no longer drive anywhere except for work, home, and the grocery store in between. Anything else counts as a major expedition, where it's a waste of gas money if I don't have at least three errands along my well-planned route. My neighborhood has shrunk. Stuff that was "close" before is now "far."

On the bright side, I walk more than I did before. It's good to get more exercise, and sometimes I see things I wouldn't from a car.


Gazpacho is a tomato-based cold soup originating from Spain. It's very refreshing during the summer. Some recipes also include bread and vinegar and fancy garnishes, but mine is pretty basic:

One large cucumber, peeled
Enough red, orange, and/or yellow bell peppers to match the size of the cucumber
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 small sweet onion (red, Vidalia, etc.)
3 cups tomato juice - "V8 with essential oxidants" for the extra vitamins
2 tablespoons olive oil
black pepper

Put everything through a blender. Mix together. Chill in fridge overnight. Eat.

11 July 2007

In the beginning, there was (){} ...

Out of all the things I've ever coded in Matlab, the following FOR loop is the only loop I've ever figured out how to set up all by myself:
    for i=1:(floor((max(datetime)-min(datetime))/binsize))
It sets up bin intervals at a size defined by user input. (A "bin" being, more or less, "all the data between points A and B.")(And "user input" meaning "user decides where A and B should be.")

Everything else I have is cobbled together from bits of code out of other people's scripts, my past cobbled-together scripts, or by describing a code problem to programmer friends - whereupon they mostly volunteered to write it for me. (Coders are great that way. Present a problem and their eyes light up. The slightest encouragement will see them off and running to solve it.) (Many thanks to Ewok, Esquared, Senator, and analog for past code help of that form. :) )

Given that, I'm still sometimes amazed (and incorrigibly pleased with myself) at what I've somehow managed to accomplish since I started working where I am. I started out knowing nothing whatsoever about Matlab. Now, I can casually say "oh, I'll just write up a quick script to do Complex Maneuver X." I'm also slowly learning IDL and it's on my list to learn PostgreSQL.

I'm not a coder. I can passably code, and sometimes code sings to me. But I don't seek out coding projects, nor live and breath it the way real coders do.

Country Western Music

A wise man once said, "To understand a people, study their art."

I listen to country-western music for exactly that reason. I live in a country where at least half the population I don't understand at all, and country-western music - the most popular genre of music in the United States - is their music.

It does sound pleasant. Mellow. The lyrics tend to tell stories rooted in very concrete and specific details - descriptions of actual real people, places, and things. Lyrics of modern alternative rock and metal tend to describe emotions and ideas in more abstract terms.

Anyway, some of my favorites so far (links from Youtube):

I Just Came Back From A War by Darryl Worley
Suds in the Bucket by Sara Evans
Watching You by Rodney Atkins
Twenty Years Ago (lyrics only) by Montgomery Gentry

10 July 2007

Broad Thoughts about Anthropology, History, and the Nature of Thoughts Themselves

Thoughts are ephemeral things that follow the same quantum mechanics rule as Schrödinger's cat. That is, attempting to note the train of thought in progress, even just mentally, interferes with it and therefore changes it. Not noting the train of thought in progress means that the whole train is often lost back into the subconscious, with only fragments left over that aren't sensical enough to record.

For example, on the way to work today, I had part of a train of thought that went thusly:

1. Han Chinese as opposed to non-Han Chinese. (I have no idea how I came to that subject.)
2. There are non-Han Japanese. The original inhabitants of those islands have physical characteristics distinct from the present inhabitants. Some of them still remain on Hokkaidō.
3. The original inhabitants of the American continents most closely resemble Asians. The dominant modern view seems to be that all of the American Indians are physically and culturally homogeneous - but really, if one thinks about it, that makes no sense. The Americas are very large, and there is no reason why all the peoples on them would be the same. (And in the same way, neither are all of the peoples in Asia, even though a lot of people think all Asians look the same, too.)
4. Out of all of the tribes that were here before, my favorite were always the Lakota. I was obsessed with Indians as a preteen, reading everything I could find about them (which wasn't much, unfortunately). I once drew a pencil portrait of Sitting Bull, based off of the famous one of him (and possibly the only picture of him that exists). I wonder what happened to it...
5. Something about blood quantas and how they make no sense. A person is not bits and pieces of different ethnicities and cultures. A person is a single whole. There is a Lakota ritual, apparently, that declares an outsider to be Lakota - and once it's done that's the end of the question; regardless of what the person looks like or what their blood heritage is, they are fully Lakota thereafter.

I spent much of my time at work today trying to recall why I was thinking about any of this and how I could turn it into a post worth reading. Sadly, I had no luck, and that's why it's just a list of fragments.

The Traffic Light That Hates Me

There is a traffic light that turns yellow the moment it sees me coming from around the corner a block away. By the time I get there, it's red. Then it makes me sit at an empty intersection before it finally decides to let me through.

Nothing else can possibly be triggering it. Oftentimes there is no other traffic at all - not on my road, and not on the crossing road. Just me and it.

I've found one way to defeat it at its own game. Instead of sitting there waiting, sometimes I'll turn right. Then I make a U-turn. Usually it tries to turn yellow in my new direction, but it's too late and then it doesn't matter anyway because I can just turn right again in the empty intersection no matter what the light says. Hah! Take that, Traffic Light That Hates Me!

09 July 2007

Mandates of Heaven

Leaders are servants of the people they lead. What the will of the people grants, the will of the people should also be able to take away.

07 July 2007

Living Alone

One of the biggest benefits of living alone is that everything is always exactly where I last left it.

Unfortunately, so are the dirty dishes in the sink that are waiting to go into the dishwasher, the clean dishes in the dishwasher that are waiting to go into the cabinets, and the ingredients in the fridge that are waiting to turn into food. Nobody helps put away the groceries, do the laundry, keep the bathrooms clean, or keep the dust off the furniture. If the car needs servicing, all the spare light bulbs are gone, the recycling needs to be run across town*, and there is camera film to be developed, there is no one to split those chores. I have to take care of all that myself.

I think I need a housekeeper.

*Savannah is a very backwards town. We don't have curbside recycling at all. To recycle, I have to drive it to the other side of town where they have a series of giant bins. It's a major expedition, especially through daytime traffic. I tend to save up my recyclables to ludicrous proportions before doing a trip every 2-3 months.

06 July 2007

Dinging Dump Trucks?

All while I was driving on the causeway today, I heard a bell. It didn't fade into the distance like it would've had I passed it. It was too high pitched to be ringing loudly from a great distance. I was in the middle of a salt marsh, which does not contain anything that rings. It sounded like it was attached to my car, but wasn't coming from anywhere inside, because I could dim it down by rolling up my window. There were no obvious bells attached to the dump truck in front of me.

So I spent the entire drive thinking, "what the frell is that??"

Then I got on the island and to the intersection with the gated community. The dump truck in front of me turned right, and I turned left. No more bell.

05 July 2007

Guiding Principle on Self Worth

It's not up to me to judge my own worth. That decision is made in the minds of everyone who watches what I do. That decision is never directly told to me.

I don't talk about how great I think I am. I just try to do what I think is right. If I'm great, I will demonstrate it with my deeds. Sometimes someone will come along who disagrees with what I'm doing, and they will call me many insulting names. During those times, there is little point in defending myself by explaining how great I am. If I've truly been great, many others will do that on my behalf.

And that's how I know that I'm doing things well.

Who, What, and Wikipedia Editting Paradigms

One of the major themes in my life has been to explore the difference between "who" and "what." Where last I left off, I had:

What I am is based on what I have.
Who I am is what I do.

Everyone starts out in life with a certain set of assets and flaws (a "hand one is dealt"). What one does with them is how "who" is defined ("how one plays that hand").

Recently on Wikipedia, a controversy of monumental proportions was sparked by Fred Saberhagen's death (Fred Saberhagen's Talk page and Scalzi's Whatever entry).

How it all started: Editor A put the date of death into the article with very poor sourcing for their information. Editor B (rightly) removed it and questioned the sourcing on the Talk page. So far so good.
After that: everyone was in the wrong.

What should have happened? First, Editor A should have let the article stand as Editor B left it. Stepping back is always a good first step in a disagreement with another editor. Approaching the disagreement respectfully is a good second step. Editor A should have said on the Talk page "here are my sources with links." Whereupon Editor B would have looked them over and said "okay." Editor A could then put his edit back in, and Editor B would have left it alone thereafter. The End.

Instead, Editor A threw a fit laden with many insults of Editor B in particular and Wikipedia in general, which included some vague pointing toward some sources, sans links, that were not at all clear. (I tried to look them up so I know how unclear they were.) Editor B countered by pointing to a rules page that was also not at all clear. (I went to look those up too.) Things rapidly went downhill from there, until we had enough of a circus surrounding the edit war that the whole thing got Farked.

In the end? The date of death still got included with all the proper sourcing it needed. The article got essentially the same improvement to it that it would've either way. The journey in between? -.-

Anyway, in the wake of that whole debacle, I've noticed a key philosophical difference in the ways people approach Wikipedia editting.

The ones who don't understand Wikipedia are focused on individual editors. They consider it important to look at the qualifications of each person who makes edits. From that standpoint, you want to see the input of professional editors weighted more heavily than the input of the average teenager with a lot of time on his/her hands. You want to see the input of actual scientists have more weight on science articles than someone from the general public. People who have professionally prepared encyclopedias should be weighted heaviest among the admins. And so on and so forth.

But that's not how Wikipedia works. Wikipedia focuses on individual articles. Articles are the starting point from which everything else arises. The identity of any specific editor doesn't matter. Anything else that that editor might be or know in "real life" or elsewhere is irrelevant. You, the editor, are not important. Only the article is.

Any editor can contribute to a given article. Some of those contributions will be of higher quality than others. One of the tools used to assess the quality of an editor's input is by looking at their past contributions to past articles. From such information, along with how well one plays with others while contributing, Wikipedia reputations arise.

Some have noted that it appears circular when Famous Person has a reputable website and wants to cite it in a Wikipedia article on something in their field of expertise. By the first paradigm, Famous Person is "citing him/herself." But that's not what actually happens, because anyone can claim to be any name - their own, someone else's, or something completely fictitious. The end result is that when Famous Person is on Wikipedia, s/he becomes a number. "Anonymous Editor 24601" for example. So it isn't "Famous Person cites Famous Person", it's "Anonymous Editor 24601 cites Famous Person."

So I come back to my theme.

Everyone starts out in life with a set of assets and flaws. As life progresses, everyone tends to acquire new assets and flaws. Those that were earned by doing things (which defines "who") eventually become part of the "what."

What I am is based on what I have and who I was.
Who I am now is what I do now.

On Wikipedia, who I am right now at the point of editting an article, as defined by what I'm doing, is the only part that is relevant.

04 July 2007

Independence Day, USA

In this month's newsletter from my apartment complex, they wrote a blurb about the American Revolution. It includes the sentence: "Many British consider the American Revolution to be one of the biggest mistakes in their country's history."

I shared that sentence with some Brits. One of them laughed his head off at the notion. The other one made annoyed muttering noises about how the problem with America is the non-aboriginal inhabitants of it, who ought to learn something about politics and history.

The one time I've heard a Brit comment other than that, it was to say that the colonists were a bunch of rabble rousers who were constantly starting conflicts with the natives that England then had to defend them from.

03 July 2007

Crazy Screechy Monkey Day

Ben Myers vs. John Scalzi on the subject of Wikipedia being an inadequate research resource other than for starting points. Twice.

Wikipedia vs. Fred Saberhagen's social circle on the subject of his recent passing. Which was so screechy it got farked.

What does one do when otherwise mature, rational people decide to become crazy screechy monkeys and fling poo for a day? I guess maybe I'll do some actual work here at work or something.


Shut Me Up

One of the most godawfully rudest songs I've heard in a while - Shut Me Up by Mindless Self Indulgence:

Love that whipcrack. :D Also the part in the video where he impales the goth.

02 July 2007

Pasta Sauce

My post with the salmon sauce recipe apparently inspired a response post from Rebelcat, in which she describes a pasta sauce that includes salmon in it.

So, herewith, a pasta sauce in reply to her response. It doesn't have salmon in it, but could conceivably include salmon...
    Fettucine with Fake Alfredo Sauce

  • Half a stick of butter (4 tablespoons)
  • around ten sliced small portabella mushrooms
  • minced garlic
  • a pint of heavy cream
  • spinach (in the U.S., these are sold in the bagged salad section already washed; very convenient. Each bag is worth about 3 side salads, I think.)
  • shredded parmesan cheese - I basically just keep sprinkling it into the pan until it looks right
  • freshly grated black pepper
  • nutmeg
  • one 10 oz bag of medium-sized shrimp
  • a 14 oz package of fettucine noodles (just over 300g), or equal amount of whatever other pasta

    Melt butter in pan. Cook the mushrooms in it. Add garlic. Add cream. When it boils, add spinach. When it wilts, add parmesan. Add pepper and nutmeg.

    Meanwhile, boil the pasta. A minute or so before it's done, dump in the shrimp. When shrimp is pink, drain the water. Put noodles and shrimp into the pan with the sauce.

    Stir and enjoy.

Being Poor is expecting to pay for things that are supposed to be free

In front of me today was a locksmith truck. It had a sign painted on the back that said "Emergency Car Unlocking: Free if Child Locked Inside."

I thought:
a) In hot southern summers, this matters.
b) That's very cool of the locksmith to care about the wellbeing of children.
c) It avoids the conundrum of what happens if someone can't actually afford to have a locksmith unlock the car with their child trapped inside.

d) Being Poor is expecting to pay for things that are supposed to be free.

e) "People in the US are poor because your government rewrote the laws that protected their jobs, slashed their protection from unscrupulous corporate practices, and then when they got fired, cut their unemploment benefits to nothing. People are poor because all the money that was 'saved' by this was pocketed by your government, which redirected those funds into your 'defence' budget, and then handed it over to friends and family as 'contracts'." --Dale Morris, 2005, in a Whatever comment thread where he says a lot of other enlightening things.

f) It would be nice to someday live in a first world country where large numbers of my fellow citizens aren't living in a third world country.

g) Capitalism can go too far too.

01 July 2007

Buns in ovens

Yay future babies! :)

(not mine, if this is causing anyone any alarm...)