Dec. 16th, 2004
11:37 am - Very cool 3D animation
Check out this animation, make sure to zoom in and out, it will make your day
Dec. 11th, 2004
01:15 am - The nature of entropy
I was reading an interesting post in philosophy on entropy and intelligence, and in my response I put into words some thoughts I have had for a while on entropy, so I am cross-posting it here.
Entropy is a measure of disorder, but what is disorder? When we say that something is ordered, what we are really saying is that we can describe it with more parsimony than something that is disordered. But is that because the thing is inherently simpler, or is it because its structure has more affinity with the structure of our brain so it is easier for us to recognize its pattern?
The concept of entropy came about from the description of inherently statistical processes, and statistics is an application of probability, but probability is just a measure of how much information an intelligent observer has. So probability is epistemological, not ontological, therefore entropy is epistemological as well. Of course historically entropy came about as a useful quantity to create equations that explained the nature of heat transfer in thermodynamics, but later, through statistical mechanics, we understood that the "ontological" thing we call entropy is just a macroscopic manifestation of the epistemological thing we also call entropy in information theory, S=p*log(p).
An increase in entropy is just an increase in our difficulty to describe the system. When we talk about entropy at all, we are dealing with a system that we understand statistically, on aggregate, not directly. The entropy of a macroscopic system increases with temperature only because it increases the number of possible macroscopic configurations that are indistinguishable from one another, in other words, we lose information, so we say that entropy increased. What if we were not there to lose information? What if a different type of intelligence with different senses was able to distinguish exactly between those macroscopic energy states? Then to them there would not be an increase of entropy since they could still describe exactly where the system is from a macroscopic observation, the amount of information they had would be preserved.
My point is that entropy is something that indirectly includes in its definition a consciousness that is observing it.
Dec. 7th, 2004
08:49 am - First venture into real estate
After 4 months of working with real estate agents, and looking at many properties, the Friday before thanksgiving we sold our condo and purchased a 4plex. We weren't sure everything was going to work out with the financing, but in the end we walked out of there as new owners and landlords. Two of the rooms were rented already, we moved into another one, and we only have one left to rent. We hadn't even finished moving when we had our first tenant complaint, which we easily solved. Everything seems back to normal now, but we are going to need a crash course in landlording fast.
Nov. 15th, 2004
A scientist claims to have found a gene that makes people susceptible to religious beliefs.
That is great news! Since fundamentalism is a mental disease we can finally develop genetic therapies to treat those unfortunate enough to have caught it.
Nov. 9th, 2004
09:49 pm - My computer wallpaper
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, especially when the picture is funny. I am currently using this picture as my computer wallpaper:
I will probably replace it with this other one at some point:
Nov. 3rd, 2004
11:52 pm - I am a libertarian
I can't say I am surprised, although I am glad these memes starting showing things OTHER than left and right.
You Are a "Don't Tread On Me" Libertarian
You distrust the government, are fiercely independent, and don't belong in either party.
Religion and politics should never mix, in your opinion... and you feel opressed by both.
You don't want the government to cramp your self made style. Or anyone else's for that matter.
You're proud to say that you're pro-choice on absolutely everything!
Oct. 29th, 2004
01:05 am - I am slackware linux
Maybe I should give slackware linux a try!
Which OS are You?
Oct. 1st, 2004
Another Glitch in the Call
(to the tune of a recent Pink Floyd song)
We don't need no indirection
We don't need no flow control
No data typing or declarations
Did you leave the lists alone?
Hey! Hacker! Leave those lists alone!
All in all, it's just a pure-LISP function call.
All in all, it's just a pure-LISP function call.
Sep. 20th, 2004
I was watching Babylon 5 the other day, and the capitan said something that caught my attention, "Millions for defense but not a penny for tribute". That sounded like a quote, so I went and looked it up, and to my pleasant surprise, I found it was Thomas Jefferson that said it!
The context was the war with the pirates of Barbary in 1801. These pirates were a bunch of thugs from neighboring islamic territories (surprise surprise!) who were attacking merchant ships from civilized nations in the mediterranean sea and trying to extract ransom from them. The European nations decided to pay tribute, but the Americans, under the leadership of Jefferson, and under the motto of "Millions for defense but not a penny for tribute!" refused to pay tribute, and sent ships to hunt them down and destroy them.
Here is a detailed account of the whole thing, and here is a washington post article that identifies the parallels between the terrorist threat we suffer now, and the terrorist threat they had back then.
One of the interesting things here is that Jefferson is the favorite founding father of most libertarians, but on foreign policy, the republicans seem to be closer to Jefferson than the libertarians. This is one of my points of contention with the official libertarian position, but this might be just what the libertarian party needs in order to become a little more hawkish. I guess the libertarian party has some hope after all! :-)
Sep. 17th, 2004
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