Year: 2009


Posted by – December 15, 2009

I noticed something unusual in my server logs today: a bunch of people had arrived at my blog from I’d heard that domain name before: it’s a notorious “white pride” / neo-nazi forum. What on earth have I said to raise their ire? I followed it back to the source, and I shit you not:

Race mixing movie director Neil Hardwick oddly happens to have curly hair and odd nose. He claims that he is noble Englishman from England, but he looks like Krakow ghetto rat. My instincts tell me that when you have Woody Allen type film director promoting race mixing and “young love”, then chances that he is Jew are like 100%.

It’s about my dad’s movie which has a black leading man and a white leading lady. But this doesn’t explain the blog traffic…

His son has a blog. A bit non-PC and an anti-gay remark in the top right. Perhaps he should be reported. I can’t find out if the family are Jews from the web – but I bet they are with this getting Finnish girls to go with Blacks propaganda.

Shit, the Nazis like me! The anti-gay thing is probably a reference to the random quote element, one of the quotes it can serve up being

Anyone who can’t visualise themselves walking in a beautiful field of wild flowers in a state of mental and spiritual well-being is a faggot

I can’t believe it, I’m too subtle for someone! Too bad they have the verbal reasoning skills of a boiled potato. At least I’ve found my audience.

For the full experience, the thread is here. Oh, and don’t go read it if you’re upset by that sort of thing or are at work etc. Or at least don’t complain to me about it.

Syllable counts

Posted by – November 25, 2009

I learnt on Wikipedia that the intro to Whipping Post is in 11/4 time. 11/4, what the hell? Eventually I figured out how that goes, and also noticed that Finnish is no good for counts that go above 10. Till then most numbers have natural one-syllable abbreviations, but 11 doesn’t. Its unabbreviated form has 4 syllables, one more than in English. Hmm. Long story short, I made a graph of the syllable counts of the counting numbers up to 100 in 9 languages (thanks to Zet@#aspekti for many of them):

(click to see large version)

Some observations:

  • French is most compact, except in the 80-100 range where English (which is quite consistent overall) is best
  • Finnish really is verbose
  • Northern Sámi is most boring
  • Estonian is quite interesting
  • Everybody counts in base 10
  • 3-4 syllables is a sweet spot
  • Graphs with too many lines in them are difficult to read

Btw, a good solution to the Finnish problem: go hexadecimal. Yks kaks kol nel viis kuu see kaa yy aa bee cee dee ee äf.

edit: oh, and code to languages:

Suomi = Finnish
Français = French
Svenska = Swedish
Eesti = Estonian
Davvisámengiella = Northern Sámi, spoken in Lapland
Magyar = Hungarian
Afsoomaali = Somali
Komi = Komi, a Uralic language

Trading hierarchy

Posted by – November 25, 2009

Labour is the least legally restricted property, money second, everything else third.

Money is less restricted than houses: HS reports that some guy was convicted for declining to sell his house to a Roma person, ie. for declining to trade a house for money. However he would (I think) be allowed to refuse to buy a house from one, ie. to decline to trade money for a house.

Labour is less restricted than money: it is illegal to refuse to hire someone because he’s a communist (decline to trade money for labour) but it’s legal to refuse to work for one (decline to trade labour for money).


Posted by – November 17, 2009

Let W be my confidence that global warming of several degrees celsius is really occurring or about to occur

Let D be my best estimate of consequences, given the warming

Let H be my confidence that given the warming, it is mostly due to human activity

Let P(C) be my confidence that this human activity can be nullified or sufficiently mitigated at a global cost of C (given everything previous)


W*H*P(C) < 0.5 for values of C that are realistic As C increases, C becomes greater than D before W*H*P(C) becomes greater than 0.9 (and D could even be negative!)

Orson spiral

Posted by – November 13, 2009

There appears to have been a prolonged hiatus on this blog. It is mostly due to personal tragedy: a serious (and ongoing) illness in the family first made blogging feel somehow improper, then got me depressed and minimal-minded. I only just realised that’s what it is – I haven’t been feeling particularly sad, it’s more that everything is so difficult to get done and unpleasurable. It’s almost a relief, I can just mope out now. Projecting from current trends, in five years I’ll be an extremely fat, lonely alcoholic with no job or girlfriend and mounting imported beer -related debts.

Maybe that would open up a career in standup comedy. Somewhere deep inside me is a Space Moose -type dysfunctional, offensive psychopath that needs to get out. (There was an interview with a songstress in the paper today; she had their typical way with words and termed a question she refused to answer “unpolitically correct”. That’s me all over.)

One way I know there’s a Space Moose inside me is that people keep disagreeing with me. It used to be that I’d say something insightful and people would mostly agree with me and start exploring the glorious vistas of understanding I had just revealed. Now they say things like “I don’t think you’ve understood this at all”, “That doesn’t make any sense” and “What are you, eleven?” Then I say “I hate you! I hate you!”, run back home and start eating something.

The outer limit is where you learn

Posted by – September 27, 2009

It used to be that beyond major newspapers and television, the main exchange of opinions happened with people you knew personally, who in turn mostly used the same newspapers and tv to form their opinions. People who travelled a lot and met a lot of people were in the best position to encounter whatever was excluded in the local discourse. Like everything you don’t know the alternative to, this seemed perfectly normal. But with the advent of the Internet, all that has changed: now you can actually learn about different people for real and in their own words, not just the filtered caricatures you get via mainstream media.

Strengthening this trend, I find the blog/opinion -type stuff I read on the web has become more and more “far out” lately. Now that I can read what all kinds of people have to say, it’s less interesting to hear things I more or less already know / agree with already.

Btw, I would like to take this opportunity to say that when I link to a site, in a post or in the sidebar, that should not be taken to indicate my endorsement or support of whatever the link points to. I link to things that interest me for whatever reason, and often they’re “far out” to me as well.

One of my guilty pleasures (although far from the guiltiest) is Feministing, where people’s thought processes are so different from my own that I am starting to wonder whether the postmodernists might actually be right and people really do live in their own reality. In fact, my inspiration for mentioning the whole thing was this post about Wikipedia’s gender gap:

This week’s Time magazine shed more light on the fact that women make up only 13 percent of Wikipedia contributors. Sue Gardener, Wikimedia Foundation’s E.D. noted:

The average Wikipedian is a young man in a wealthy country who is probably a graduate student — somebody who’s smart, literate, engaged in the world of ideas, thinking, learning and writing all the time.

It should go without saying that if women make up 51 percent of the population, 13 percent representation at Wikipedia is a DISGRACE!

I probably sound stupid for saying this, but at this point I was thinking “gosh, are they really blaming women collectively for failing to contribute to Wikipedia?” No, the point of course is that this disparity is prima facie evidence of sexism. No other possibility is entertained. The author specifically mentions that Wikipedia, being a large and complicated organisation, takes a lot of “wikilegalese” to grok. She continues:

When I think of the demands of graduate school, plus the unique challenges that I face as a woman of color, becoming fluent in Wiki-speak so that I can post something up at Wikipedia is low on the priority list.
Shame on Wikipedia for not even attempting to address these issues.

As someone who doesn’t have the time/energy to contribute to Wikipedia, this person could either

a) feel grateful that so many others have been able to create such a wonderful thing, or
b) feel angry and offended that others haven’t somehow engineered her participation in it

The people who go for b) every time make me sad. They’re doomed to feel angry and cheated about everything, and we don’t even get anything productive in exchange for their mental anguish.


Posted by – September 26, 2009

I get the impression this is fairly accurate about the US these days (the part about low expectations applies to Helsinki as well, but people here just want to pass, not to be praised). One of the many reasons empires tend to crumble? Branford Marsalis on student attitudes:

The empirical way of word-usage

Posted by – September 26, 2009

(seen on reddit)

Extinct joke type

Posted by – September 23, 2009

I haven’t the comedic vocabulary for the various joke types the Goons used to do, but most of them seem to have gone extinct. Audio-only comedy these days means narrative, not conceptual sight/sound -gags. Here’s a very identifiable joke type, done twice as the same basic gag:

  • Grytpype-Thynne dictates a letter (basic joke)
  • The 4th armoured thunderboxes negotiate with the Japanese (a more elaborate version of same)

Life as an IQ test

Posted by – September 20, 2009

I’ve heard dismissals of the concept of measurable intelligence on the basis that “IQ tests only measure the ability to take IQ tests” or “intelligence is such a multi-faceted concept and everyone is intelligent in their own way, IQ is just one part of it”. I suspect these arguments (which are, btw, misunderstandings of what is meant by general intelligence in this context) conceal another objection which I happen to agree with.

The objection concerns organizations like Mensa having people take tests and telling them “this number is your intelligence”. That is stupid! If I took an IQ test and it told me something wildly different from what I expected, I’d only change my beliefs a little. In other words I wouldn’t believe the test.

(Sidenote: many of the same people who discount the concept of intelligence would consider this to be arrogant. One moment they’re saying how stupid it is to believe in intelligence, the next they’re laughing about how low George Bush’s IQ is. Or saying that race doesn’t exist and laughing about James Watson, who believes that black people have lower intelligence than the global average, being 1/6 black.)

What does an IQ test tell you? It’s an inaccurate measurement of a non-constant quantity that correlates with intelligence. Does that mean it’s meaningless? No, but it’s still a good way to quickly get some information about someone you don’t know much about. This is like armies choosing all the men and rejecting all the women: not perfect, but better than randomly choosing half of everyone.

But it’s not a very good way to find out your own intelligence, because you already have a ton of information about that. Almost everything that happens in your life has something to do with intelligence, so it’s hard to avoid forming some kind of an idea of your cognitive abilities. Similarily for people you spend a lot of time with. As the danimal said,

A smart person doesn’t need to hear how smart he is, any more than a pretty girl needs to hear how pretty she is. Anybody with an obviously outstanding attribute has been hearing about it their whole life.

People don’t want someone telling them how intelligent they are. It would feel like being told who to be (another false fear). The good news is that nobody can “tell them how intelligent they are”. The bad news is that everybody already knows.