1.25.12

12.12.11

The Alliance of Independent American States

I’ve been paying only the most minimal amount of attention to the upcoming presidential election (I usually don’t bother until the general election heats up), but I think it’s fairly obvious that our country is sharply divided politically. I think it’s also becoming fairly obvious that political policies aimed at New York City aren’t always well suited to Cheyenne, Wyoming. That is why I propose the United States be broken up into several smaller nations whose governments are better suited to the political leanings of each region. The former United States would be renamed “The Alliance of Independent American States”, and would consist of nine separate countries, each having independent militaries, economies, and governments, though as an alliance, they would occasionally assist each other for mutual benefit. One of the key provisions in the articles of alliance would be that citizens of any nation are free to come and go as they wish in the other nations, and can freely immigrate to any of the other nations without the same scrutiny applied to a foreign immigrant. Therefore, if you don’t like the strongly conservative leanings of Texas, you’re free to move to New York.

Here’s the breakdown:

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5.02.11

Religious Discussion – I guess this is my Easter post?

I made some good points in my closing comment in this Facebook conversation, so I felt like I should post this somewhere where it won’t disappear in a few weeks from people posting mafia wars requests on my wall. To protect the innocent and/or guilty, I’ve changed the names of the commenters. For context, “A” is the recent Muslim-convert with a tattoo, referenced in the opening post, who quoted the bible to show disapproval.

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3.17.11

2012, Beliefs

Bored at work again.

I had a few thoughts on the 2012 theories that everyone is throwing around. If you haven’t heard about it, supposedly sometime on or around the winter solstice in December of 2012, something big is going to go down that will drastically change the course of humanity. Some say it’s the end of the world, others say it’s the beginning of a new and wonderful phase of existence.

Here’s my opinions on some possibilities:

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1.27.11

Terrorism

Bored at work, so here are some thoughts on the subject.

  • They say lightning never strikes in the same place twice, right? Theoretically, the same should be true for terrorists. If the organizations behind terror attacks are at all intelligent, they’ll never attack an airplane again, meaning the amount of security going into air travel is overkill. Granted, secure air travel is important, but focusing all our attention in one area leaves us vulnerable to attack in others.
  • Terrorists don’t think like military people. As much as a tactical strike on a military installation would be nice, mass casualties are more important. If you want to effectively combat terror, you need equal security at both shopping malls and army bases.
  • If I were a terrorist leader, here’s what I’d do.
  1. Recruit about 50 suicide bombers and 10 or so good snipers.
  2. Bring recruits into U.S. by way of Mexican human trafficking routes
  3. Send suicide bombers to randomly chosen public locations throughout U.S., including, but not limited to, shopping malls, post offices, public parks, amusement parks, elementary schools, Wal-Marts, grocery stores, nursing homes, day care centers, and anywhere else where large numbers of people congregate. These locations should be in large and small cities, urban and rural settings, chosen completely at random with no pattern discern.
  4. In the 10 largest cities targeted,  station snipers within firing distance of the suicide bomber targets.
  5. Have all the suicide bombers launch their attacks simultaneously.
  6. Within an 30 minutes of the initial attacks, have the snipers start taking out the gathering crowds. First responders, medics, police, news reporters, rubberneckers, all indiscriminately targeted.
  7. When the snipers are eventually pinned down and captured, they too will detonate their own suicide bomber vests.

The goal of terrorists is not to win military victories, but to incite terror. In this scenario, actual death toll numbers are not as important as locations where deaths occur. The fact that the terrorists would be able and willing to strike anywhere would incite much more terror than flying a few planes into a buildings ever could.

  • However, in my opinion, I don’t think the terrorists have the balls to do this, so I’m not worried in the slightest.

1.14.11

The machine uprising is upon us.

Firstly, artificial intelligence has now advanced to the point that it can comprehend and interpret the human language. Well enough so that a computer beat the two all-time best Jeopardy palyers at thier own game:

The implications of this level of AI are vast. Within a few years we could be able to interact with computers on a conversational basis. There would be no need to call some Indian tech support center when you need help; you can simply call a computer that will understand your questions.

My thoughts on this are twofold. One, Awesome. Two, Oh, Shi-.

Imagine for a second the next step. A conversational AI with learning capability. Simple enough. The computer will remember your name. Ok, what next? Self-diagnostic routines, visual sensors, etc… At what point does knowledge of one’s physical state become self-awareness? Tough question, but go on. Next, the program is given the ability to rationalize and make decisions within the constraints of it’s programming, for example, how most effectively to repair damage and complete tasks. This is getting into the realm of a true thinking machine.

All of these advancements, though seemingly innocuous alone, add up to a greater whole. A thinking, learning, understanding, and self-aware machine. With the ability to expand beyond its original database, how long before we begin to see some of the emergent properties of life develop? How long before it develops a true personality? How long before it begins asking us questions, instead of the other way around? How long before instead of reciting stored data, it begins creatively producing its own?

In short, how long before it gains consciousness and sentience?

I know this is a philosophical and science-fiction old hat, but considering the speed with which AI has advanced, I have no doubt in my mind that it will be a real dilemma we will face within my lifetime. From the first artificial intelligence research at Dartmouth College in the late 1950′s, to a game show winning computer today, AI has evolved exponentially in only 60 years.

We are standing at the edge of a philosophical precipice and it’s only a matter of time before we have to jump.

11.19.10

Prepositions

Everyone has seen this symbol, right? That’s right, it’s the at sign. It’s a #64 on the standard ascii character map. Used in every email address, and in many shorthand notes and text messages. It’s sole reason for existence is laziness; why write two letters when one will do?

As a lazy person myself, I have a proposition for users of written language. It’s a preposition proposition. I propose we add the following characters to the written English language in order to save time and space:

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7.23.10

2.09.10

Dreaming about what might have been.

“Why do I keep thinking about her… It’s been so long, and she never showed me more than kindness… But after all these years, I still wake up with her face in my mind… Dreaming about what might have been.”

In my continuing effort to be more open with the limited emotions I have, and my promise to blog more, today’s post will be an explanation of why I posted the above as my Facebook status at 4:30 AM this morning.

It’s always your first love that hits you the hardest. For me it was a girl I first noticed in 5th grade, just about the time I started noticing girls in general. She was smart, funny, beautiful, and I knew she and I would be perfect for each other. Of course,  being the social retard I am, that meant I avoided eye contact with her for the next year and a half.

Near the end of 6th grade, at the behest of my parents, I attended my first (and also last) school dance. Alone of course, I was more than content to sit along the west wall of the cafeteria and sped the evening gorging myself on the complimentary tortilla chips and fruit punch, but my plans were abruptly changed when the dj’s mix cd switched from the upbeat pace of Will Smith’s classic “Gettin’ Jiggy wit It” to the slower pace of Savage Garden’s “Truly Madly Deeply”. That vision of grace that had been the object of all my prepubescent fantasies floated across the room and asked me to dance. I was dumbfounded. This angel descended from the heavens, and in an unparalleled act of benevolence, granted me the honor of accompanying her on the dance floor. It took all my composure too eek out a weak “yeah” and stand up to follow her. I placed my hand at her hip with all the nervous delicacy of a museum curator handling an original Bernini statue. I was sweating bullets as I did my best to sway to the music, and not step on her toes. At the end of the song, she thanked me for the dance. I could swear she was glowing as I watched her glide away (though, in retrospect, that may have simply been back-lighting). It was a half a minute into Smash Mouth’s “Walkin’ On The Sun” before I realized I could move again. Being me, I took that opportunity to immediately leave the building.

After that night, I knew what I had to do. I somehow found the courage to ask her out on a real date. Granted, it took me a good year to work up the nerve to complete that task. Amazingly, she said yes! for the first time in my life, I knew what happiness truly was! It seemed somehow that all my prayers had been answered. It was April 1999. I remember, because I suggested seeing this new movie called “The Matrix” I heard good things about. We instead went to see the romantic comedy “Never Been Kissed” starring Drew Barrymore. I even felt bold enough to hold her hand during the movie (which is like getting to second base for a 7th grader). For the life of me, I can’t remember the plot of the movie, because I spent the entire time split between worrying about the impression I was making, and silent ecstasy that this was really happening. After the film, she bought me a gumball from the lobby vending machines (white I believe) before her parents picked her up from the theater. I was in such a happy stupor that I didn’t even care that my dad was an hour late to pick me up.

The happy feelings were not to last though. We were “a couple” for all of about a week before she called it off, citing my inattentiveness and immaturity as the reasons. Congratulations, Robert, you just alienated the girl of your dreams. However, considering this was in 7th grade, lasting one week is quite a successful relationship. (Not surprisingly, that one week in 7th grade constituted the entirety of my relationship experience prior to my sophomore year of college.)

At any rate, by 9th grade she was dating one of my best friends, and by that extension, we had become reasonably good friends. I came to accept that a romantic relationship with her was indefinitely off the table. But somehow my subconscious couldn’t let her go. Every day I would come to school and see her with my friend and I would be jealous and sad that it wasn’t me. For the remainder of my high school years she stayed with him and I feigned obsession with one popular bimbo after another to cover my feelings for her. I went to her graduation party, and aside from one chance encounter at McDonalds, that was the last I saw of her. Sure, we’ve kept in contact on Myspace and Facebook, but as far as face to face contact, I haven’t seen her in 6 years.

End of story? Not quite…

Here’s the part that haunts me: Sometime around the end of my sophomore year at college, I heard third handed info that she and my friend had split. The part of me that still had feelings for her saw this as an opportunity. It had been 7 years since she left me for being immature. “I must have changed enough that it would work out” I thought. I took my time and composed a page-long well-worded polished and refined email to her asking about how she had been doing, and  inquiring whether she’d like to have dinner some time. I was pleased with the message, and about to send it when I thought to myself “I had better check my bank account to see if I can afford to take her out.” I minimized the email, opened my bank’s website and logged in. As it happened, my account was $30 overdrawn. Shit. Shit shit shit shit shit.

Email scrapped. I now needed a way to cover my overdraft. I knew the university would be having its yearly book buyback soon, but since I never paid attention to school functions, I had no idea when. To find out, I decided to email a friend I made in my Japanese class.

I’m sure you can figure out the rest. That email was just the ice breaker needed to initiate a series of emails between myself and the Japanese major whom I would shortly thereafter begin dating, and the following summer, ask to marry.

At any rate, it worked out for the best.

But I still occasionally find my mind wondering, thinking about what might have been. Had I been more mature the first time around… If I had been in my friends shoes during high school…

And most often, what might have happened had I bought a few less DVDs my sophomore year and never overdrafted my checking account.

I know on some level I never really got over her…  What’s worse is after all those junior-high years of fantasizing, my subconscious has apparently linked her with some kind of unspoken idealized perfect woman. Last night I woke up in the middle of a dream about her. First, those who know me know I rarely dream. When I do, usually I forget what the dream was about by the time I’ve brushed my teeth. But when I dream about her, the dreams stay with me for days… In my dreams, she’s a goddess; an ethereal embodiment of love and compassion. In her arms, I feel all the positive emotion of the universe and I break down and cry. Then I wake up and just feel empty again.

It’s strange, I can’t usually remember what I had for lunch the previous day, but somehow every detail of my limited time with her is still crystal clear in my memory. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t give up what I have with Adrianna for anything, I value our relationship too much for that. But I know I still have the ticket stub for “Never Been Kissed” in the bottom of some lost box in my closet at my parents’ house, and similarly, I have little pieces of memory in the back of my brain that occasionally rise to the surface and make me think about the past.

In closing, I’ll just repost my status update from 8:00 this morning, after I had a clear mind from a few more hours of sleep:

“NVM, insomnia makes you say funny things.”

9.02.09

Bite My Shiny Metal Thesis

Bender

I finally figured out the solution to some of the various inconsistencies in Bender’s metallurgical and mechanical properties.

Firstly, in “Crimes of the Hot,” it is shown that Professor Farnsworth developed the prototype robot that is a direct technological ancestor to Bender, so we can assume that any technology the Professor is competent with can also be assumed to be possibly included in Bender’s design.

In “Parasites Lost,” the Professor was capable of building nanobots smaller than human cells. Therefore, much of my theory rests on the assumption that one of Bender’s most important non-mentioned features is a highly advanced nano-reconfiguration system. This nano-reconfiguration system (or NRCFG for short) is capable of rapidly reordering matter at an atomic level, creating new systems, and repairing or reconfiguring existing systems.

In several Episodes, Bender appeared to grow new switches, knobs, access panels, outlets, etc… For example, in “Hell Is Other Robots,” Bender had a previously unseen plug resembling a speaker jack on his head which he used to connected to a narcotic electricity source, and in “The Deep South,” bender has a volume knob which is never seen again. These are created by the NRCFG, and his external casing is reconfigured to accommodate them. In “The Honking,” the NRCFG was the target of the Werecar computer virus, causing Bender to reconfigure uncontrollably.

The NRCFG is also capable of repairing Bender as needed. This is evident in “Raging Bender” and “Godfellas,” wherein both episodes, he was damaged to the point of having hole in his head, and both injuries were fixed by the next scene, when he would have no time to have them repaired any other way. Similarly, other damage is rapidly repaired as seen in “I Second That Emotion,” “A Tale of Two Santas,” to name a few occasions. The NRCFG is also the cause of Bender’s seemingly miraculous recovery in “Bendin’ in the Wind.” The damage caused by the can opener in that episode was extensive, damaging the NRCFG controller in addition to Bender’s hydraulics and outer casing. During that episode, the NRCFG was working at diminished capacity, first focusing on repairing itself, before fixing Bender’s hydraulics. This is why it took so much longer to repair than in other instances.

Bender’s metallurgical composition often changes from episode to episode. It is at different times referenced as comprised of 30% iron, 40% titanium, 40% zinc, and 40% Dolomite, an unknown amount of Osmium, as well as having a .04% Nickel impurity. This is also an effect of the NRCFG. The NRCFG gathers raw material from multiple available sources when repairing Bender, so his composition is never the same at any given point. Each time his composition is mentioned, it is referring to Bender’s makeup at that specific point. Therefore, each listed amount is accurate, but the information can only be said to be accurate at the time it is given.

Bender frequently is shown to have objects stored in his chest cavity that are to large to fit inside Bender, either collectively or combined, and his internal mechanical structure is never visible when his chest door is open. In “The 30% Iron Chef,” the fact that Professor Farnsworth installed a wormhole in his table is proof that he has a mastery of quantum physics (including faster than light space travel, possibly made possible by research in the same vein as the wormhole). Adding this skill to his robotics development process, the simplest explanation to Bender’s apparent use of hammerspace is that he has a stable wormhole mounted directly behind his chest door, which acts as a gateway to a non-local storage location. In this location, Bender can store his vast riches and favorite possessions (such as pianos, the contents of public swimming pools, or the preserved head of Lucy Liu). This wormhole is mounted in front of his internal mechanical elements, hiding them from view when his chest door is open (though they are still visible by F-Ray as seen in “Fry and the Slurm Factory”).

One last simple solution – Bender’s primary control circuitry is in his head, but his body parts are not wired directly to it. His arms, legs, and torso are all controlled by a wireless conection to his central processors. This way, his arms and body can be fully operated even when disconnected from his head.

Note to self: Stop watching Futurama at 3:00 in the morning when your brain has been running purely on refined sugars.