Saturday, October 29

I, for one, welcome our new Google overlords...

George Dyson, futurist, historian and author of "Darwin Among the Machines," notices something scary on the Google campus:
In the words of an unusually perceptive friend: "When I was there, just before the IPO, I thought the coziness to be almost overwhelming. Happy Golden Retrievers running in slow motion through water sprinklers on the lawn. People waving and smiling, toys everywhere. I immediately suspected that unimaginable evil was happening somewhere in the dark corners. If the devil would come to earth, what place would be better to hide?"

For 30 years I have been wondering, what indication of its existence might we expect from a true AI? Certainly not any explicit revelation, which might spark a movement to pull the plug. Anomalous accumulation or creation of wealth might be a sign, or an unquenchable thirst for raw information, storage space, and processing cycles, or a concerted attempt to secure an uninterrupted, autonomous power supply. But the real sign, I suspect, would be a circle of cheerful, contented, intellectually and physically well-nourished people surrounding the AI. There wouldn't be any need for True Believers, or the downloading of human brains or anything sinister like that: just a gradual, gentle, pervasive and mutually beneficial contact between us and a growing something else. This remains a non-testable hypothesis, for now. The best description comes from science fiction writer Simon Ings:

"When our machines overtook us, too complex and efficient for us to control, they did it so fast and so smoothly and so usefully, only a fool or a prophet would have dared complain."

Wednesday, October 26

Walk This Way

Originally uploaded by jakedobkin.
I've got ants in my pants that make me breakdance!

Tuesday, October 25

When Karma Bites You In The Ass

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The author of a new state law that allows felony charges against owners of dangerous dogs was hospitalized over the weekend after his own dog attacked him.

Bob Schwartz, who also is Gov. Bill Richardson's crime adviser, was hospitalized at University of New Mexico Hospital on Sunday night with bites on both his arms, said Pahl Shipley, a spokesman for the governor.

A hospital spokeswoman declined to release Schwartz's condition, but Shipley said Schwartz is "going to be fine."

Schwartz has three dogs registered with the city: a boxer and two English bulldogs, said Denise Wilcox, who oversees Albuquerque's animal care centers.

Schwartz was instrumental in getting a law passed during this year's regular legislative session that would allow felony charges to be filed against owners of dogs deemed dangerous or potentially dangerous and that seriously injure or kill another animal or person.

The law was designed to make dog owners accountable, said Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort, who worked with Schwartz to pass the bill.

"But I guess when it happens in your own family, that's another story," she said. "That's tragic."

Thursday, October 20

All Monkeys, All the Time

The pubescent UK rockers Arctic Monkeys are The Next Big Thing, say People in the Know.

Check out their hit single, I Bet You Look Good On the Dance Floor

Simian Weightlifting

Originally uploaded by Dolly Heavens.

The Infinite Monkey Project

An infinite number of typist monkeys will eventually reproduce a) every book in the Bibliothèque nationale de France or b) the entire works of William Shakespeare.

We love monkeys here at Monkey Daemon, and so happened to come across a great Wikipedia article that tracks the origin of this famous pop-culture touchstone.

(Montgomery Burns, inspecting the work of his monkey typist team: "'It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times?!' You stupid monkey!")

A few selected snippits:

-- An infinite number of monkeys given an infinite amount of time is, simply, overkill.

-- "If the monkey could type one keystroke every nanosecond, the expected waiting time until the monkey types out Hamlet is so long that the estimated age of the universe is insignificant by comparison ... this is not a practical method for writing plays," wrote Gian-Carlo Rota.

-- Jorge Luis Borges, explores a similar theme in the story "The Library of Babel," which contains volumes filled with random strings of characters. The narrator notes that every great work of literature is contained in the library; but these are outnumbered by the flawed works, which are in turn vastly outnumbered by the gibberish.

-- ABC political insider email newsletter The Note often refers to the Washington press corps as "the Googling monkeys."

-- In 2003, scientists at Paignton Zoo and the University of Plymouth reported that they had left a computer keyboard in the enclosure of six Sulawesi Crested Macaques (see photo above) for a month; not only did the monkeys produce nothing but five pages (PDF) consisting largely of the letter S, they started by attacking the keyboard with a stone, and continued by urinating and defecating on it.

Tuesday, October 18

Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Hurricanes

There have been so many hurricanes and tropical storms this year -- take a bow Stan, Tammy, Vince and Wilma, who all showed up in October -- that they've run out of names.

That's 21 this year if you were counting.

Any future storms in 2005 will be named after the letters of the Greek alphabet: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, etc.

You can see future hurricane names through 2010 here. Personally I'm rooting for Humberto in '06 and Joaquin in '09.


Sometimes I think my entire vocabulary can be traced back to Seinfeld or The Simpsons. The latter has actually created and/or popularized a few dozen words (see Supernintendo Chalmers, right) several of which have crossed over into the mainstream.

Who could forget words such as:

-- Meh: An interjection expressing apathy, general indifference, and boredom.

-- Saxomophone: Homer's word for Lisa's favorite instrument. (During Lisa's absence, Homer attempted to "play" Lisa's baritone sax by singing into it the words "Saxomophone" to the tune of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony)

-- Yoink!: A verbal exclamation made by a character when stealing an object from its owner or rightful place.

There are also some excellent Simpsons "snowclones," which are adaptable cliched phrases such as "Mmmmmm.... (fill in the blank)," "Worst ______ ever," and "I, for one, welcome our new _____ overlords."

Some Simpsons phrases may sadly and undeservedly be destined for obscurity, such as BBBQ: "Come to Homer's BBBQ. The extra B is for BYOBB." When Bart asks what the extra 'B' is for in BYOBB, Homer replies that it's a typo.

As a bonus, today's lexigraphic term of the day is Portmanteau: a word that is formed by combining both sounds and meanings from two or more words. You may remember it from such words as Craptacular and Sacrilicious.

Tuesday, October 11

Friday, October 7

Etymology of Swearing, Motherfucker

I laughed myself silly last night watching the finale of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" Season 3 where Larry's act of charitable swearing -- to cover for his chef, who has Tourettes Syndrome -- results in his manager Jeff uttering the unforgettable words: "Cock! Cock! Jism! Grandma! Cock!"

The BBC's excellent Wikipedia-esque H2G2 peels back the years to look at the roots of Britain's favourite curse words:

"In the 1950s, construction kits like Meccano would be sold in boxes of various sizes. The list of contents which came with the standard size box would be headed 'Box, Standard' (which elided into 'bog standard' when spoken) and the larger box was the 'Box, Deluxe' which was spoonerised to create the phrase 'The Dog's Bollocks'. This is such a satisfying explanation for two common forms of British English usage that one really wants it to be true."

"There is also the phrase 'sweet Fanny Adams' which is sometimes abbreviated to 'sweet FA'. Fanny Adams was an eight-year-old child who was murdered and dismembered in Alton, Hampshire, in 1867. Her grave is still there. At around the same time, the British Navy started preserving chopped mutton in tins, and the sailors - always an uncouth lot - described this as 'sweet Fanny Adams' which eventually came to mean 'nothing of any good at all'."

"In 1230AD, both Oxford and London boasted districts called 'Gropecunte Lane', in reference to the prostitutes that worked there. The Oxford lane was later renamed the slightly less-contentious Magpie Lane, while London's version retained a sense of euphemism when it was changed to 'Threadneedle Street'. Records do not show whether it was a decision of intentional irony that eventually placed the Bank of England there.
The word has good Shakespearian usage, though even he was a little subtle. Hamlet asks whether he can lie in Ophelia's lap, 'I mean, my head upon your lap?' and then says 'Do you think I meant country matters?'"

"A phrase that, until recently, was almost exclusively American, is 'motherfucker'. Despite sounding very Oedipal, this does not have Freudian derivations. The word was apparently coined by African slaves to describe the slave owners who had raped the slave's mothers. Simple as that."

As the word 'piss' became categorised as vulgar, the phrase was modified - 'taking the micturations', later shortened to 'taking the mickey'

That's Gotta Hurt

A freak accident saw an angler's lead weight fly through his eye socket and become embedded inside his cheek, the BBC reports:

You Can Really Taste the Seagal

Thursday, October 6

La Divorce.....or not

They've split! No wait, they haven't! My God --- I just realised that I don't care!

Defamer weighs in on Nick & Jessica:
"Nick and Jessica have not separated," their spokespeople said. "Rumors to the contrary are simply not true."

Somewhere out there, a 15 year-old Jessica Simpson fan, unable to process information from events that have occurred since the first season of Newlyweds due to an elective lobotomy, slowly pumps her fist and whispers Yes!, her faith in the health of her favorite couple’s marriage unshaken.

The Horror

Imagining spawn of TomKat, via Conan O'Brien

Political Malapropism of the Day

Just think how fun the White House would be if Howard Dean were president.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Do you believe that the president can claim executive privilege?

HOWARD DEAN: Well, certainly the president can claim executive privilege. But in the this case, I think with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, you can't play, you know, hide the salami, or whatever it's called.

Conservative Bitchslap Showdown

Everybody's favorite bow-tie wearing conservative, George Will, seems miiiiiiiiighty peeved with Dubya's "trust me, I *so* know what I'm doing" nomination of Harriet Miers to The Highest Court in the Land:
The president's "argument" for her amounts to: Trust me. There is no reason to, for several reasons.

He has neither the inclination nor the ability to make sophisticated judgments about competing approaches to construing the Constitution. Few presidents acquire such abilities in the course of their pre-presidential careers, and this president particularly is not disposed to such reflections.

His argument seems a little arbitrary to me (vote against her confirmation because Bush didn't veto McCain-Feingold?), but it warms my heart to see dissention in the GOP ranks.

The Dubyaite counterstrike is even more amusing, noting that would-be Judge Harriet "happens to be a gun-toting evangelical who gives money to pro-life organizations." Whew, I feel better already.

Wednesday, October 5

Write A

Name: Kim Wilson, "a 45 year old male Little Person"
Likes: Reading, Studying psychology/spirituality, and gay relationship counseling
Astrological Sign: Sagittarius
Crime: Manslaughter

Name: Scott Robinson
Likes: outdoors, reading, laughing, writing, camping, swimming, fishing
Seeks: "a lasting friendship, and who knows what else"
Astrological Sign: Sagittarius
Crime: Sexual Battery

thanks for the link, Dolly!

Marley Returns!

Bob Marley rises from the grave to sing about the oppression of "Legend"-loving frat boys.

"Don't let dean of students, Henry Riegert, fool ya, or even try to school ya. We'll get that bonfire going in time for da mixer, mon," Marley told the Sigma Nu chapter of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

"Seriously, I'm such a huge fan that I've practically worn out my CD copy of Legend. It's the best fuck music," said Jason "Boner" Bonham, chapter president of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity at Tufts University.