a ba'b'ian journal

old stuff

plato told

him:he couldn't
believe it(jesus

told him;he
woudln't believe

certainly told
him,and general

and even
(believe it

told him:i told
him;we told him
(he didn't believe it,no

sir)it took
a nipponized bit of
the old sixth

el;in the top of his head:to tell


George Lucas was on 60 minutes. puff the magic pastry, a sixty minutes exclusive. hard-biting newfotainment. he did talk about how hollowood producers create focus groups to modify the picture. The whiz kid reporters mentioned the five minutes that got cut from star wars, but didn't take up the whole issue that the plot of 'revenge of the jedi' was gutted to make 'return of the jedi', to give it a nice happy ending and to sell more dippy knicknacks. it still rankles, as i would have like to see the original grand vision of 9 movies. i wrote this message to 60 min:

The George Lucas interview was a puff piece, and i can live with that, but there is something in the whole 'star wars' story that 60 minutes had a chance to expose or lay to rest but they just passed over. It bothers me because Lucas himself seemed to hint at it, but Stahl just drops the ball. Concerning Lucas' complaint about studio executives and focus groups, she uses the example of five minutes cut from 'American Graffiti'. Maybe that is what Lucas was thinking of, but I heard rumors about the 'Star Wars' series that make me think different. Supposedly the third movie's plot was changed around to give it a hollywood style happy ending. Luke was originally a clone of Vader and eventually succumbs to the dark side. There is even a little shred of proof that this was the idea in the second movie ('Empire Strikes Back'). When Luke seems to be lost and improperly trained, Obi-wan (and don't get me started about OB1 being a clone) says something about it being over, and it is yoda who says there is another. There is no way that Obi-wan wouldn't know about this other if in fact it was princess Leia (as it was twisted in the third movie) since they already knew each other. (The rumor was that the other was actually boba fett.) The whole matter bothers me because the series was conceived of as nine parts, and these changes altered not only the course of the following episodes, but also the ones before (because there was some type of clone relationship that was dropped). It was a loss to art for the gain of dollars. And supposedly those stupid ewoks were going to be wookies--that was just sickeningly cute. I guess I just would have liked to have heard if that was the real story. An opportunity missed.

so what have i been up to? i read pinker's 'how the mind works' and it was pretty enlightening, though i'm forgetting stuff again. i should have written the important points down before i forgot them.

one idea that was interesting is that there are four ways knowledge is encoded in la brain: as visual images (and this is described as a 2 1/2 dimensional picture), and phonological sequences (eg, word sounds), as a hierarchy or tree structure (recursive) for grammar and such, and as mentalese (he didn't seem to explain that very well, i guess it just means 'everything else')

most of emotion is devoted to maintaining our system of who we can trust and who owes us. we are almost altruistic, but actually we have a highly developed system of keeping track that no one is trying to take advantage of everyone else and not adding in their fair share. love encourages giving. anger generates a reprisal when we are wronged, someone has taken undue advantage. It isn't that we are stuck with animal emotions-- our emotions are adapted to our needs.

women and men have very different basic attitudes about sex partners. men want as much variety as they can get. women only need one, and they want the best they can get. One thing about being picky is that women shouldn't get excited by merely the sight of naked man, otherwise they wouldn't be picky, but a man isn't like that, and pornography actually works for him, appealing to his desire for variety. Also, a young woman has more years ahead of her to make babies, so young women are more attractive (from evolutionary pressure). For a man, the important thing is to be able to support more children, so 'studliness' is a matter of being strong (i guess) and ambitious or wealthy (poor little me being trippingly nonstudly). Sex becomes something that women trade for money (even a traditional marriage is like that). One startling effect of these tendencies is the behavior of gay men, who, because they keep the desire for variety but interact with people who share it instead of resist it, have insatiable appetites. In SF before aides, some pole showed 30% had more than 1000 different lovers, and 70% more than 100.

I used to think that monogamy was something women cooked up to hold on to guys, but that just doesn't make sense because women have never had power. pinker brings up an intriguing theory from the idea of a cartel (where producers agree to limit production to increase the price or something along those lines). The idea is that previously, the really rich, or even the above average, would take several wives, and most of the men would be left with nothing. Despotic cultures are like that. In monogamy, men decide to be limited to one. Now that monogamy means 'one-at-a time', the young women go to the rich old guys and younger guys are generally in worse shape, though it isn't as bad as it could be. So there actually aren't so many out there. Historically, though, monogamy is a christian thing, and i'm not so sure how it falls from it. I guess the idea that there is a paradise in an afterlife kind of would make it too confusing if some people didn't have wives, or had to steal them from other spirits, or whatever. I'm not sure the reasoning. probably paul's work. anyway, once monogamy was dogma (and let's remember that judaism had polygamy until like the 11th century ad), christianity became more popular with the meek fold who wouldn't get any if wives just went to the highest bidder. Christianity also added it's giving to the poor and social welfare programs (with tithing) that made it populist and have grass roots support. I get the feeling that it was these other things, and not the bs about saving from sins that made it catch on. These days it seems more about bullying and peer pressure.

tomorrow is my birthday. la di dah.

i checked on the timing belt in my car and the cover had some kind of dust sitting in it, so i think it is wearing out the belt again. i need to get a new one ready to go. it should be easy to replace compared to the clutch, but i'm not sure i'm ready to do it by myself. at least the weather is warmer.

cliff and tark just dropped by for a visit. cliff seems to be doing pretty well. He's going to finish up the masters' thesis down at austin, and is helping his folks move to phoenix (they have some of his stuff in storage). His business card says he is an internationalization engineer, something to do with him reading german, but he is doing Q/A.

Life is so complicated and there are so many possilbe scenarios in the interactions between people that we need as many stories as possible.

I was rather distracted all week, but i think things are settling down. I got the sound capture routine on the javasound api working. Because he level on the sound card input on this laptop is so low, i thought it just wasn't working, but it turns out that it is just very quiet. I went out on, like, thursday to radio shack to try to buy a little preamp, since they didn't have one, I went to the bookstore to get one of those circuit books with the plans to make one (pretty sad i know, i should be able to design an amplifier, but it's more work than i feel like). While i was there i aslo got several interesting books. Steven Pinker's How the Mind Works (he's a cognitive neuroscientist at MIT); The Art of Happiness by the dalai lama and some psychiatrist; Richard Dawkins' Unweaving the Rainbow, which was reviewed in the Skeptical Inquirer (It's supposed to have a part that helps demystify some of the weird coincindences that people always see. I need some of that, because i have to admit that i have been seing some stuff that i'm having trouble believing as random, and yet they almost certainly must be); and a newish Marcinko book (at least to paperback) Seal force alpha. I read over the last chapter in how the mind works and was fairly changed by the experience. It talked about arts, humor, music and religion. An explanation of laughing is that it came from an aggressive noise, and another is that it comes from a response to tickling, where in play the laughing indicates that the mock-aggression is not really threatening. Humor occurs when there are two different frames of reference, and in the shift from one to the other, one person loses some dignity. Hence political and scatological humor in which a person is brought lower. That joke where the punch line is "if you were my wife i'd take it", the two different frames are murder vs suicide, and the lady goes from executioner to shrew (surely a drop in dignity). Even the one where the bank manager says "It's a knick-knack, Patty Wack, give the frog a loan" we have the two frames of a bank manager recommending a loan and a person reciting a garbled version of a nursery rhyme (again a drop in dignity). Between friends, it's almost certain that one will have higher status than the other, so kidding around helps to establish that really there is no difference and you are both at the same level. The other effect of this book, was that it explained how music is sort of a useless pleasure experience, quite pleasurable, maybe, and built from a lot of other mental abilities, but still essentially secondary and not very useful. So my sudden new interest in music has been dampened as i see that it is pretty frivolous. I suppose pleasure in itself has value, but i should probably look for better ways to spend time. If it helps me with a zest for life i guess it might be good. But i also can get pleasure from learning and building.

But then i cover-to-covered the Art of Happiness and it was also pretty enlightening. One main point, though, was that it will take a lot of time and effort to change and develop good patterns and replace bad ones, since they took long to develop in the first place. some ideas: the purpose of life is to maximize happiness; the way to maximize happiness is to isolate the negative actions and feelings and eliminate those, and keep with the positive ones. Compassion is pointed out as being very positive, perhaps the best thing, because it can reduce anger towards others, and can create a feeling of common humanity that reduces fears from isolation (eg. we're all in this together). The dalai lama also makes an interesting claim that we are not basically selfish-- it could be seen that a baby's function is to give pleasure to others (don't people really like looking at their little goo-goo eyes?) and suckling reduces tension in the breast. It isn't just a little mass of selfishness like some psycho's say. Also he says that anger and aggression aren't necessarily natural, or something like that. Anyway, we are born ignorant, but we can change. So too we can change behaviors. I guess the buddhists at least are willing to put the work in that's involved, and i guess it helps them to have multiple lifetimes to work on it. Still, every moment is precious. One intriguing thing pointed out was that self-hatred was an alien concept to him, (and presumably to tibetans).

Dancing also seemed somewhat empty. yet i still did it from habit. And i need the exercise. Sadie, toni, toni lane.

Shannon actually wrote me back. twice. but it wasn't good. in the first one she said her boyfriend wouldn't like it (but she didn't actually say no) so i said, well i thought it was harmless and shouldn't bother him (it was just for coffee to talk about philosophy--she said she almost majored in it), but i'll just leave it up to her "discretion". Okay, so maybe i was teasing her, and i was pretty sure she was just trying to scare me off, maybe to see if i would come back or maybe she just really didn't like me but didn't want to take responsibility for it. Women can be inscrutable, and it's hard to tell from e-mail. In person it would have been obvious. Her next message was really nasty--not interested, accused me of treating the cog-sci lab as a "meat-market" and trying to make her feel bad about saying no. I was studying compassion, so i tried to reply nicely. maybe i should have let it go, but it made me mad. And i was sad that i try to treat women as people and they think it's some sex thing. maybe it is; i guess it's complicated and i guess it doesn't happen that much. grr. i can only try to learn and improve, i suppose. And i guess women have to beat guys back with sticks and i need to get used to it.

somewhere in there, a little factoid: in 16th century germany, it was the custom for a marriage to be consummated on a bed carrier by witnesses who would validate the marriage (something about how different cultures have different standards of openness)

lots of trouble with the connection lately

i don't like that cirq du soleil bunch of freaks. they seem like such a waste of effort. why why why?

in the cognitive sci seminar, i was wondering about the poverty of stimulus argument that we have innate knowledge. I said that maybe in language we don't have much input to base generalizations on, but we have many other where the brain learns from input, so we have concept building mechanism already prior existing concept forming ability. One other area where it is said that we need innate "help" is in naive physics, but surely sensory information is way more than enough. Some of it may be based on models that do not have powerful learning mechanisms. I also pointed out that there is a fair amount of social feedback. Language acquisition is a tough problem, and it is amazing that babies can do it. The input is noisy, and the correct forms aren't labelled.

so, on my pat rec test, i said that 10 time -0.5 equals -2, as part of a matrix multiplication so i guess there were other things in STM that could interfere. I spent some time with the cognitive psych people to see if they could help me. Bianca was some help actually, telling me about a model of comprehension from Kintsch. I looked at one of his books a little. One model has sensory input, which goes to feature extraction, feeding to things in working memory, which sends stuff to long term memory, and long term memory also feeds into feature extraction. Brent suggested a guy, jeff kellogg, who was working on math errors, but i couldn't find his email address in the university online search thing

i gave up and sent shannon an email. she jumped out after the seminar. it doesn't matter anymore.

There are grammatical forms for asking yes or no questions in which you indicate what answer you expect.

another month? where does the time go?

my income tax refund came, so i played a little more on my keyboard. my ear is improving.

i was looking at a book about philosophy and physics and hit some interesting ideas he pointed out that computers already do a lot of things that required intelligent, but they aren't very flexible. he seemed really concerned with problems of unemployment, but i don't think that's such a big thing. If everyone gets a holoroom, then no more wants, only exploration of ideaspace. Computers do need to be fixed up so that basic pieces can work together. Maybe java and corba will make it possible.

i sawRushmore and i didn't care for it as much as some people. it was just too much of an adoloscent fantasy. too many things that just wouldn't happen, mixed in with people being unreasonable mature, like it was written into a movie. i guess that's entertaining for a lot of people, it just reminded me again that even the best movies don't get very good.