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Nov. 9th, 2016

treble, songworm

Presidential election result

I've been stressed out for months about Trump's 15 to 30% chance of winning this nightmarish election, and my first reaction toward the end was that it was like waking up to find the nightmare was real.  I'm hoping the reality is much easier to deal with than what we were imagining.

The pessimistic part of me seems to have queued this up on my mental soundtrack for today:  "Trouble" and "Burn It Down" from the Vixy&Tony album I'm now importing into iTunes, and selected lines from the Ada Palmer song I just heard again at OVFF:  "Change maker!  Oath breaker!  Vengeance!"
The optimistic part of me is hopeful that the new President's true character is reflected by his gracious acceptance speech and not by his remarks at rallies.  (I watched all three excellent speeches, by Trump, Clinton, and Obama, live, with some sleep in between.)  Some of us assumed he was lying when he said he'd make tings better for the working class, but  whenever he sounded racist or misogynist, we assumed he meant exactly what he said, or worse.  The pundits' logic was, he might have said such things strategically in the primary but he must know it will cost him votes in the general election, so those must be his true views.  That logic is now called into question.  Maybe he dialed up the racism and misogyny because he knew exactly how to appeal to the the general electorate.  Maybe the actual implementation of a Despair and Change campaign won't be as dramatically different than the Hope and Change one as people fear.
By coincidence, and not because I want to remind myself of the second-to-worst-case scenario, I've long had tickets for these three performances in two upcoming days:  The Diary of Anne Frank, about a girl who unsuccessfully hides from the Nazis; The Sound of Music, about a family that successfully flees their Nazi-held country; and Bill Maher, who I'm guessing will continue to tell jokes at Trump's expense.

Jul. 1st, 2016

treble, songworm

Devolution of communication

This comes from an actual financial blog entry today, but it looks like something out of a late-20th-century satirical SF dystopia about what communications will devolve into by the 21st century.  Something Philip K. Dick might have written.  This might also be a preview of how Cabinet meetings will run in 2017, depending on the outcome of the election.

Lon R. kicks off this week's Biotech Stock Mailbag: "Adam, it gets better, right?"

Ha! Lon's email is bit cryptic but I assume he's referring to the poor performance of biotech stocks in 2016… Lon, I wish I had re-assuring words for you, but I just don't know what the rest of the year will bring.

I texted a fund manager at a large (mostly long-only) healthcare fund, asking him to assess the year to date. He responded by sending me a picture of a man grimacing in extreme pain.

May. 30th, 2016

treble, songworm

Brain index?

Sometimes I wonder how my mind is organized, so that some surprising things come instantly and others take forever. This morning, packing up to leave Baycon, was typical in the number of things I realized I could have said in a wittier or kinder way, as if the smart part of me was running some inefficient search that took all night. Maybe that's why I like songwriting, where I get to take as long as I like to come up with the right thing to say. And yet, at a songwriting workshop yesterday, when we agreed to set ourselves the task of writing a parody of some Beatles song and then arbitrarily chose "allergies" as our topic when someone happened
to sneeze, it took about five seconds for me and at least one of the other parodists on the panel to simultaneously identify which Beatles song would work best for that. (It was based just on the title having three syllables with the right stresses, but still! Also, it has a tone of ruefulness that most Beatles songs don't.)

When you type a word into Google, it finds a match in a split second. You know it's not looking through zillions of documents cover to cover everytime someone searches, right? Their data centers are powerful, but not that powerful. They're using some kind of precomputed index, so if you type in a word like "zeugma" it remembers all the documents that contain that word, which narrows down searches for combinations with other words like "Flanders". It doesn't search cover to cover twice and compare the two lists, which would take a zillion squared operations, or "Order N squared".

So does my frequent esprit d'escalier mean I'm running an overnight batch job with an O(N2) algorithm? And do the brains of inveterate parodists contain an index or songs by metric pattern or what?

Oct. 12th, 2015

treble, songworm

A pizza fairy tale

Once upon a time, there lived a modest old beancounter in the desert, and he had three sons who each set out to make his mark on the world.  The eldest son played a small part in the exploration of outer space.  The middle son played a small part in an organization that gives away magic that makes life easier for half the people in the world every day.  But the youngest son solved one of the pressing problems of our time:  He created a magic item that allows pizza to be reheated in the microwave and come out with crisp crust and melted cheese.

... OK, I could spin a longer tale involving taming a dragon to roast pizza and the king offering the hand of his daughter, but frankly I have no interest in a princess’s hand or any other part thereof and need to stop writing this and get back to the whole space thing, so let me cut to the chase:  My brother is trying to raise enough money on Kickstarter to manufacture his pan, which he calls the Reheatza.  I suspect that a large fraction of people I know have always wanted to be able to reheat a pizza properly without firing up a huge oven, or reheat a pizza at work or in a con suite, and might consider pre-ordering a Reheatza if they only knew about it.  I haven’t seen his prototype in person, but his video on Kickstarter of toasting a marshmallow is very convincing.  He needs to find roughly a thousand people who will pre-order by next month, but has reached less than a hundred in the first week, and there must be millions of people who would like this if it were ever made.  So I wanted to do what little I can to help spread the word.  I want to live in a world where pizza is on the list of things it's a good idea to microwave.

Also maybe to brag a little about my half brother’s accomplishment.  Who’d have guessed that whatever creative and artistic genes I may possess came from the accountant’s side of the family?


Aug. 23rd, 2015

treble, songworm


It's the last day of Sasquan, and I'm leaving relatively early on the last day. In this case, because it's a Wednesday-Sunday con and the all-night filk turned out to still be Saturday, I headed almost directly from the after-filk breakfast to the airport.

Here's a sort of limited review, in the form of comments on one aspect and a song about another:

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May. 21st, 2015

treble, songworm

Upcoming convention plans

For anyone accustomed to seeing me at my local SF con: This year I'll be skipping it in favor of an annual square dancing convention that happens to conflict this year. It was a tough choice, one I put off until just weeks ago when I started worrying about the hotels filling up, because I always have a good time at each, and sometimes a great time. In the end I arbitrarily decided to pick the one I had more fun at in 2014 and other recent years.

I decided to make it up to myself (and to anyone who enjoys seeing me) by attending the two other SF cons I hadn't made a decision about: Westercon/Conchord and Sasquan.

I suppose soon I'll have to start thinking about whether to go to OVFF, as I do almost every year, or go to my homecoming that weekend; it isn't my class reunion year but there may be other good stuff and it's an easy bike ride.

Mar. 8th, 2015

treble, songworm

"White House and the Cherry Tree"

I got this idea when Taunya Gren and Paul Kwinn (2/3 of Puzzlebox) covered the original on Saturday at Consonance.  I finished it on Sunday night, and they performed it at the Dead Dog filk circle.

"White House and the Cherry Tree"
After "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" by KT Tunstall
LyricsCollapse )

Dec. 25th, 2014

treble, songworm

I donated 2 gallons of blood. Not all at once…

… but over the course of several years, a pint at a time.  I started at around 17, when I became eligible, and continued throughout college until they changed the rules.  Few things in life repeatedly make me as angry as when I’m reminded about blood donation and think about all the additional gallons I would probably have donated since college if I’d been allowed to.  If “one donation can help save the lives of up to three people” and there have been many shortages over the years, isn’t the corollary that some people may well have died over the last few decades who could have been saved by some of the blood I wasn’t allowed to donate

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To put it in perspective, a man who has sex with a prostitute can donate one year later.  (A female prostitute, of course.)   A man who has sex with a total stranger is considered low-risk enough to donate the next day, if the stranger was female.

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That’s why I’m excited that the FDA may at long last be replacing the ban with a more sensible rule.

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Dec. 21st, 2014

treble, songworm

Anachronistic fake-out humor

Welcome to Night Vale did a very clever and subtle bit of humor in the episode I just listened to, #33Read more...Collapse )

The joke is at about 15:50 to 16:00.  It's probably best to listen to it to get the full effect, but for those who don't feel like doing that, here's a transcript of the line:
[transcript of one line, punctuated to indicate the timing]"Oh.  My.  God.  My first day as intern was just... neat!"

Quick analysisCollapse )

Dec. 4th, 2014

treble, songworm

What you mean "we" feel the weight of the wheel?

When the author of the line

But we who feel the weight of the wheel when winter falls over our world


winter eventually does come, even to Arizona; our past few weeks of 70-degree days and 45-degree nights have taken their toll

people in, say, Buffalo, could be forgiven for thinking "What you mean 'we'?"

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