Sit down, remain, stay, abide.

In addition to introducing the word robotics to the English language, Isaac Asimov has also made another common, if less known, contribution to language. Asimov’s groundbreaking novel “Foundation” was translated into Arabic under the title “al-Qaida”.

The Arabic word qaida – ordinarily meaning “base” or “foundation” – is also used for “groundwork” and “basis”. It is employed in the sense of a military or naval base, and for chemical formulae and geometry: the base of a pyramid, for example. Lane, the best Arab-English lexicon, gives these senses: foundation, basis of a house; the supporting columns or poles of a structure; the lower parts of clouds extending across a horizon; a universal or general rule or canon. With the coming of the computer age, it has gained the further meaning of “database”: qaida ma’lumat (information base).

This wouldn’t be the first time Foundation had deeply touched a radical audience, as Japan’s Aum Shinrikyo (known for the Tokyo sarin gas attacks) was working to build a community of scientific elite, as modelled in the novel. It might sound too incredible to be true, but the Bible of the Aum guild was, in fact, the Foundation series.

(Via comments in this MeFi discussion.)

seven hundred and thirty

I’ve tried so many times to say so many things, and none of it comes close to expressing how I feel.

Leslie, I love you. You’ve made me happier than I thought possible, and not a day goes by where I’m not dumbfounded at how lucky, how truly blessed I am to have you in my life.

We’re at two years now, and no matter how things might be in the world around us, I always look forward to spending tomorrow with you. Every day.

You’re my lover, my friend, my fiancée, my partner in all things — and nothing makes me happier than knowing we have the rest of our lives to be together.

Happy anniversary, my beautiful Leslie.

You and me, okay?

That’s why I made the music, because I want people to hear it.

From an interview with Ian KacKaye (of Minor Threat, Fugazi, and Dischord Records) on downloading music:


If people lose their incentive to make music because they’re not making money, they’re not musicians. They’re business people. Musicians don’t have a choice in the matter, you gotta make music. There’s no choice! It’s not a fucking job description, there’s no choice!

You make music because it’s what you do and the idea that it’s sort of like saying that, “Well, this person is an artist, they’re a painter, but because they can’t sell their paintings they’re going to quit.” If they do, they’re not artists! They’re business people. I have to say that I feel like music, when I make music, the creation aspect of it, that may be my experience. I may have written the song, so I think, “I authored that song” but it’s not property, it’s not property for anybody!”

Now if I make a record, if I make a CD of that song, that’s property because I paid to make it. And if I sell that property, the money that comes back is my money– I’ll take that money and I’ll share it with the other people involved in making that CD. But this is my position: you can sell CDs, you can sell records and tapes, and you can sell mini-discs if you’re foolhardy, and you can sell mp3s and digital downloads, you can sell all of these things, but you can’t sell music because music is free. I’m serious about that. I really believe that.

You are in a maze of twisty little corporations, all alike…

A new paper offers some insight on the glass ceiling, and the confusion that was the Apprentice. From Alex’s analysis:

The authors compare male and female performance at solving mazes across different incentive systems. In a simple piece-rate system men perform slightly but not markedly better than women, on average the men solved 11.23 mazes in 15 minutes compared to 9.73 for the women, a difference of 1.5. But in a tournament, in which only the highest-paid performer wins, the men significantly improve their performance and the women hardly improve at all. As a result, the gender-gap in performance rises (men complete 15 mazes, the women only 10.8 for a difference of 4.2, stat. significant at p=0.034).

Now here is where it gets really interesting. One might think that this shows that women are less competitive than men. To test this the authors run single-sex tournaments. Surprisingly, in the single-sex tournaments the women’s performance improves considerably relative to both their performance in the piece rate system and to their performance in the mixed tournament. Women do like to compete just not against men! Men’s performance stays about the same as in the mixed tournament. As a result, when comparing the peformance of the all-male groups versus the all-female group, the gender gap shrinks considerably.

What does this mean? In a corporate environment, promotion to executive positions is almost always a competition. This study indicates that (all things being equal) women under-perform in a mixed-gender environment, when it comes to high-stakes competition.

Now, game and tournament theory provide us insights as to why this may be the case. Tournament theory states that when competing for a prize, the players with less confidence or incentive perform less well than an equally-skilled player with more confidence or incentive. Hence, the diminished performance in women could be a result of any number of morale-based sociological factors. (Overconfidence in men, underconfidence in women, etc.)

It also gives an easy explanation for what happened during The Apprentice. When the teams were gender-segregated, the women (which, to my eyes, was the stronger team) kicked the hell out of the men for a good long while. After the teams were shuffled, the women (who were now in direct competition with their male teammates to avoid getting fired) began to underperform.

This study opens the doors to new approaches on dealing with the wage gap. If the performance gap is due to the reasons suggested by tournament theory, then efforts to create more confidence in underrepresented groups (not just women, but ethnic groups, etc.) could have a very real effect on gender and race distribution in executive positions.

(The full paper: Performance in Competitive Environments: Gender Differences)

Almost there, B.D.

Depressing Thoughts For Thursday:

A report released by the Center for Biological Diversity reveals that in the first 20 years of the Endangered Species Act, 114 different species have vanished from the face of the earth forever. From the report:


While only 19% of the extinctions involved species on the endangered species list, a full 81% were not on the list. Lacking legal protection, recovery plans, critical habitat, and recovery funding, these species went extinct due a lack of commitment and attention. “Virtually all of these species could have been saved if the Endangered Species Act was properly managed, fully funded and shielded from political pressure,” said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity and one of three authors of the paper. “Instead they were sacrificed to bureaucratic inertia, political meddling, and lack of leadership.”

The American Department of Justice has announced a massive worldwide bust of copyright infringers:


Operation Fastlink is the culmination of four separate undercover investigations simultaneously being conducted by the FBI, coordinated by the FBI Cyber Division, and the U.S. Department of Justice, coordinated by the Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) of the Criminal Division. As a result of Fastlink, over 120 total searches have been executed in the past 24 hours in 27 states and in 10 foreign countries. Foreign searches were conducted in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden as well as Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Operation Fastlink is the largest multi-national law enforcement effort ever directed at online piracy. Nearly 100 individuals worldwide have been identified by the investigation to date, many of whom are the leaders or high-level members of various international piracy organizations. As the investigations continue, additional targets will be identified and pursued.

Since last monday, the events of Doonesbury have taken a drastic turn. B.D., who we all know and love (the guy with the helmet) has been injured while serving in Iraq. He lost his helmet, and his leg. For those of you who don’t follow Trudeau’s work, this is A Big Deal. B.D. has been around for as long as the strip has, even serving in Vietnam during the 70s. He’s always worn a helmet, signifying that he’s a team player — the team itself is mostly irrelevant, what’s mattered is that he supports it. The decision to maim a thirty-five year old character didn’t come lightly, I’m sure, and the removal of his helmet alongside the injury is in no small way communicating Trudeau’s feelings about the overseas war.

(You may dismiss it as a silly cartoon gimmick, but Trudeau has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning, and President Gerald Ford once stated that “There are only three major vehicles to keep us informed as to what is going on in Washington: the electronic media, the print media, and Doonesbury – not necessarily in that order.”)

In my dreams, there is only smoke and fear.

[Disclaimer: This is long, and you probably won't like what I have to say.]

Mostly, I try to stay ‘impartial’ in online conversations, unless I’m involved directly. This is done for several reasons, all of which I’ve decided upon over the last fifteen years of communicating via computers.

You see, back in the days of echo-mail and Usenet, there was a very real sense of etiquette. Flame wars were rare, and usually taken off-channel. When people spoke, they did so reasonably, and took the time to listen to what everyone else was saying, even if they didn’t agree with it. There were no ‘sides’, only a bunch of nerds trying to communicate. Respect was implicit, as everyone treated the medium as a blessing — we all knew that the conversations we were having were a lot more reasoned than we could expect to have outside of the community, and everyone held up their end of the bargain.

As a result, I try to stay out of conversations I’m not already part of, in the hopes that when I do have something to say, people know I’m not saying it lightly.

However.

In this, the September That Never Ended, I’m starting to find my methods archaic, and made largely irrelevant in the face of the larger segment of internet users; people who don’t have a history with computers, and who treat the medium cheaply.

As more and more people use the internet as a way of communicating without accountability for what they say, I feel more and more like a dinosaur. I hold up my end of the bargain, but it seems like I’m the only one who knows the rules. This is, in all likelihood, the case, and I think LiveJournal is in no small part responsible.

I remember when LiveJournal was created. Some friends and I had just finished working on a similar project, Diary-X. We felt our product was superior to LJ, because ours was community-oriented, and not post-oriented. People want community, right?

It turns out that they don’t. People want to say things, and have as many people as possible read them. People don’t want conversations, they want comments. People don’t care what happens to their words after they click submit, nor do they take any responsibility for them. Get over it, it’s only LiveJournal.

I am constantly amazed by the human capacity for distance. What you feel isn’t relevant. The emotions and years of experience behind your words, irrelevant. You, the sum of your person, the good that you’ve contributed to the world — irrelevant. Now, your feelings have been reduced to “LJ Drama”. And, if you dare to express your frustration with the imposed imitations of the medium, you’re a drama queen.

I have a game I play.

When I get into a debate with someone online, and I know that my points are researched and well-spoken, that my logic is valid, and my language simple, I like to try to guess what angle the other person in the conversation will take to avoid addressing what I’ve said. Will they cherry-pick words from my argument for the sake of pedantry? Will they focus on my spelling? Personal Attack? Straw man?

It’s not a fun game, but it takes away from the frustration of dealing with idiots. I’ve gotten very good at it, over the years.

In any case, I’ve remained mostly silent when Leslie gets into arguments with people online, having learned something about people who haven’t grown up with the internet: You will never change their mind about anything. A casual internet user who goes into an argument with one opinion and leaves with another is a freak occurrence on the scale of virgin birth, or a forward-thinking record label. LiveJournal is proof positive of this.

With that said, I have to say something about this ‘drama’.

Although many of you are divorced from your online activities, not all of us are so blase. I treat online conversations with the same emotional investment that I would give to an offline conversation. The medium is irrelevant, what matters is what it is that people have to say. And while (sadly) I understand that other people treat this as a throwaway medium, I would ask you to take the time to think about what it is you’re saying, and who you’re saying it to. I would also ask you to approach someone if you have a problem with what it is they’re saying, and not let it fester for a year before you bring it up to them. At that point, your hurt has grown into something beyond the original slight. A simple miscommunication or difference of opinion can be easy to resolve, but less so when you’ve been carrying bruised feelings around for a while.

More specifically, hold up your end of the bargain. If you can’t be bothered to fairly respond to other people’s points, don’t respond at all. There is a social contract at work.

And if you do respond unfairly, and there’s a shitstorm of people calling you out on your prejudices, maybe they see something you don’t. Take the opportunity to examine what it is they’re saying, and see if you can learn from it. No one will fault you for bettering yourself.

But if you’re determined to be a stubborn, arrogant jerk about it, find someone else to play with. I’m tired of watching my partner feel like shit because of assholes and bitches. She’s not DJ Leslie, she’s not what other people have told you about her (ie: some chick who’s meth lab exploded), she’s a person. A wicked, brilliant and loving one who has taken the time to listen to and try to understand what other people are saying, even if it’s mean-spirited accusations about the motivations behind her own actions. I’ve spent every day with her for two years, and I’ve seen her every day dedicated to doing what she can to help others, regardless of how they’ve treated her — and I’m tired of watching someone so beautiful and rare edge closer and closer to self-loathing because of ugly people who can’t keep their own issues to themselves.

If you have an issue with her, state it fairly and come to the table with an open mind. Our door is open, and we have really good coffee.

If you don’t want to bring it up, and you’d rather let sleeping dogs lie, that’s your choice. Live your life, and leave her out of it.

If you insist on being an cunt, I’m not going to just sit back and watch anymore. I’m not above kicking people in the teeth. Or if my leg’s acting up that day, emptying bank accounts.

I’m done trying to be reasonable to unreasonable people.

(Of course, I really don’t have high expectations about people paying attention to this post. Even if they do, I expect people to sidestep. Play along at home! My money’s on a Circumstantial ad Hominem!)

312

If people are this ugly, I don’t know why I keep trying.

Stories, designs, music, art, space — If it’s people like these that are going to be witness to them and consume what I create, I’m left with very little motivation.

I know there’s beauty and truth within people; but ugly is easy, and everywhere.

I don’t know how you can share space.

Christen Sussin and Quentin Crisp

Christen relates her day. A day like any other, except…


“That’s a dynamite purse. Where’d you get it?” As I turned to respond to the question and the little bells in my head went off alerting me to the fact that the voice I heard sounded just like Quentin…oh my God I would recognize that big bell pepper of a head anywhere…Tarantino!

So I said, “ohIgotitinCanadafouryearsagoitssupersturdy anditholdseverythingbecauseit’s justonebigcompartmentIloveit. I don’t mean to be a gay jackass but…you’re Quentin Tarantino AND YOU ARE THE BALLS!”

Seriously that is what I said.


I hope to some day react this well under pressure.

PART NO 1391401 – ID 4166148 – DATE 11OCT89 – PLT F2 MODEL M – MADE IN THE USA

Thanks to the kind-hearted [info]lactam, I am now the proud owner of an IBM Model M keyboard. The bad-ass version, no less.

This is the world’s leetest keyboard. The only possible way to make it even leeter is evidenced by industrial model 1394946, which I’ve never actually seen in real life.

Huzzah, my friends! Huzzah, my generous benefactor! HUZZAH!

GAUNTLET

DEAR NINJATITS

PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT TONIGHT DELEGATES FROM THE HOUSE OF KHAN (AKA GEEKHAUS) WILL BE PRESENT AT YOUR PUNY HUNAM GATHERING

YOUR STINKY (AND GAY) MEATHOUSE HAS BEEN ALLOWED TO PROSPER TOO LONG

THERE MUST BE A RECKONING

LO AND FORSOOTH OUR SUPERIOR EMISSARIES WILL DISCUSS (SLOWLY SO YOU CAN UNDERSTAND) THE TERMS OF THE HYPERBATTLE THAT MUST TAKE PLACE

IN THE GRIM FUTURE OF NINJATITS THERE IS ONLY WAR

ETHNIC AGAINST ETHNIC – DJ AGAINST DJ – BROTHER AGAINST BROTHER

THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE (PS: NOT YOU)

SEND MONEY

LOVE,

HOUSE OF KHAN

(Crossposted to [info]ninjatits.)

DIBS BITCHES

ATTENTION HUNAMS

TOMORROW IN ONE (ONE!) DAY I WILL BE ATTENDING THE PARTY OF LAZER

YOU MAY SAY TO YOUR SELVES “OH NOES JAIRUIS!”

THAT IS RIGHT

AND HE’S BRINGING HIS BABY-EATING GIRLFRIEND

“OH DOUBLE NOES!!!#!#@##BASHBASHBASH”

SO HIDE YOUR BABIES AND BABY-LIKE FRIENDS

HOUSE OF KHAN IN FULL EFFECT

here there be hungry hungry hippos

Spent the day today retching and sleeping, sleeping and retching. Only recently have I dared to put food anywhere near my mouth, knowing the DOOM that might await me.

Now, I play the waiting game.

I’ve received a couple of emails over the past day or two complimenting me on my (never-updated) web writing, which only serves as a reminder that I need to finish the design and coding of my new websites. I’m splitting my website into two websites, now. One of them will be a more traditional weblog, with external links, commentary, reviews, winamp playlist, comments enabled, etc. The other will be much more low-profile. Three sections devoted to writing — personal narrative, dreams, fiction, and nothing else. No links, no comments, no fancyness. After they’re online, I’ll probably stop using LJ entirely, unless I feel like coding up a hack that syndicates my entries to my LJ, without using the crappy native RSS syndication.

I already have the domains in place for these sites, and I’ve got the backend up and running for one of them. I’m going for a table-free pure XHTML/CSS layout for these sites, which is taking a bit of time to get right. After the CSS is in place, I want the markup to be flexible enough that I can do a site-wide redesign via a replacement CSS file, with no modification to the XHTML whatsoever. Secretly, I’m not finding it nearly as challenging as I thought I would, which is part of the reason I’ve been so lazy about it. I think I’ve learned all I’m going to learn about the technology. Might be time to pick up a new skill.

With that said, the sites will degrade gracefully in any browser, all the way down to Lynx. They will be perfectly viewable in screen-readers for the blind, web-enabled cellphones, crawlers, or any other reader from HTML 1.2 onwards. Now if only I could find someone to pay me for doing this.

Every time I start to feel good about the music that I’m writing, I see a show that kicks my ass. Mono No Aware’s live set was some of the most intelligent rhythmic noise I’ve heard in a long, long time — Iszo’s music just keeps getting better and better, and Prospero really impressed me with his techno-oriented stuff. There’s a lot of really talented people working in industrial music today, and I want to make sure that any contribution of mine is on the same level, regardless of how well received it is. I don’t want to be the next Noisex.

I’ve been focusing a lot on structure, but I need to work more on the sounds themselves, I think. A lot of the ‘noise’ that I’m working on is ending up too muddy, or harsh, or whatever. It lacks a certain clarity and definition that I feel is essential to the kind of music I want to make. Also, I can’t write a melody to save my life. It helps, though, that I’ve had a good dozen strangers contact me out of the blue to let me know they liked my Iszoloscope remix (including being asked to play in the UK based on that one remix alone), especially considering that my contact info isn’t listed on the Iszo website.

I might be working on with Lament Configuration on a track or two sometime soon, which strikes me as an opportunity to make some really wicked music. I think his music really excels in the areas where my music suffers, and I have some solid ideas about what it is that I have to contribute. If we manage to find a happy medium somewhere between the two of us, it could sound pretty good. If my remix work with Iszo/Urusai/Converter has taught me anything, it’s that I work a lot better when I’m not left to my own devices. Working with someone else’s melodies/beats/etc., I really put a lot of effort into writing music that highlights and compliments the work of the other people involved. My own music is not nearly so sacred to me, and I think that my work suffers for it.

This Sunday will mark the first of the new Retro Underground weekly night at Zaphods. I’m hoping that as a new night, the crowd it’ll attract will be one that is there primarily for the music, and not necessarily the social aspect that seems to be so prevalent in the other weekly electronic nights in the city. As a new weekly without an established crowd, there’s a lot of room for people to find a space they enjoy, especially if they feel out of place in the more genre-specific nights like Tuesday@Phods, Thursday@Buddha, Friday@Surface, etc. I might be too optimistic about this, but I really do think there are a lot of people in this city that will come out for the music.

I’m also looking forward to working with all the wicked DJs involved in it. Recently, a lot of the events I’ve been involved with (rave, radio, art or otherwise) have felt like work (which it is), but with any luck this night will be something special.

We’ve got great music, wicked DJs, and a good venue. All we need now is for people to show up.