Thursday, May 24, 2012

Apropos: de Nada

...just one of those things that keeps me awake at night...
thanks to
for unknowingly donating the original art

Monday, May 21, 2012

Local Color X -- moving daze

Case#: 0212007466
Battery on a household member,
Criminal Damage to Property of a household member

On 5/18/12 both suspects were involved in an argument about their cat, moving and their plants.  Suspect #2 got angry and broke a multi colored cane.  Both suspects packed up some of their belongings to move to the new residence.  Both suspects got into another verbal altercation on the road in which suspect #1 punched suspect #2 on the right side of his face.  Suspect #2 stopped the vehicle, got out and began walking.  Suspect #2 called 911.  Both suspects were placed under arrest, transported and booked into the Santa Fe County Adult Detention Center.  Estimated value of the cane is $20.00.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Thinking in the Box

I built a scal(ish) model of the Axle Truck and installed five of the fans I'm going to use.
It really blows:
(click for video)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Confusion Theory

On Wednesday I went to the SFI public lecture by James Gleick (ne Chaos and now The Information). Most amazingly, he dispensed with the PowerPlonk and actually did a lecture from notes. (The night before, I attended our regular VFD medical training. I got there early because the guy who is supposed to set up all the media crap whined about me hogging the station's notebook computer to do real work and demanded that I deliver it to the training site early. There was this very strong-handshake kind of older gentleman standing around wearing a shirt from one of our sister-districts so I introduced myself just to be friendly. He said something like, "I guess there will be a PowerPoint presentation and all that." And I said, "It's pretty much required these days isn't it?" Turns out he was our presenter -- a retired Army flight surgeon -- and, yes he had a PP of gory field-surgery photos ready to go). Less amazingly he (Gleick) spent the first 15 of his 30 minutes talking around Shannon Information Theory without actually coming out and admitting that Shannon Information is NOT what every layman in the world thinks it is: It has nothing to do with Meaning (see my attempted simplification here). He finally made a few passes at separating Information from Meaning but I felt that the border was rather porous through the remainder of his talk.

While trying to formulate a post-question, it occurred to me that they (Information and Meaning) are orthogonal measures in much the same way as Entropy and Complexity are in the classic Crutchfield, Young (1989) paper:
Since Information is just how many bits you have to play with and is measured as entropy, lets call the X-axis Information Entropy (which it actually is in the context of this paper). Then lets call the Y-axis -- hmm, not exactly Meaning...I haven't heard a name for this quantity bandied about, so something similar -- Data. By Data I "mean" self-correlation and/or perhaps mutual information among otherwise random bits of Information-- or maybe, Facts. If you have a noisy Information stream you might be able to extract some actual Data from it, e.g., get a series of temperatures from a bunch of ice core compositions. And to beat the analogy a little harder, you don't get much Data from the entropy extremes. If it's low, the Information is a constant, and if it's high, it's completely random.

But our Data doesn't really mean anything until it gets combined with other facts extracted from other streams and related back to the real world. So Meaning is yet a third axis to consider. That axis is Semiotics, which is exactly the study of how symbols take on meaning.

Unfortunately my question window closed long before I could articulate this.

But in the course of re-thinking it, another thing occurred to me. The lecture was titled "How We Come to Be Deluged by Tweets". Twitter is a perfect example of increasing Information Entropy on the web. So, in "fact", using Shannon Information to describe the contents of the internet may not be so far off base.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Brain Replacement

It's a simple procedure. They make an incision behind your ear, insert an ultrasonic debrader, and suction out the dysfunctional grey-matter. Then they replace it with Jello(TM). I chose Lime with added Marshmallows. The marshmallows increase the cost, but provide a festive flair.

I feel so much better now.

(Actually it was a basal cell skin thingie that I've been schlepping around for eight or so years. The first two doctors I showed it to gave no indication of any concern. The second two said I oughta do something about it. Finally, the fifth did a quick slice, dice, sizzle, and zip. And all I got was 20 more stitches and a swollen jaw.)

Anyway, it's all gone.

But, since my sleep regime involves tossing and turning from side to side until I finally get a couple hours of exhausted sleep after dawn, I haven't had much rest since the op. Which of course leads me to think about things. That I shouldn't think about.

Last night I had the opportunity to mention my bureaucracy hypothesis to my county commissioner -- who was kind enough to visit the fire department to ask if there was anything she could do to help during this election season. She laughed somewhat darkly. During the night it occurred to me that there is a competing driver: Automation. Bureaucratic hoops are added to replace jobs that are automated out of existence, thus maintaining a balance. The fact that the original jobs were "productive" whereas the bureau-jobs are Information Culture make-work seems to be of little interest to the pundits-at-large.

However, trouble is brewing. Bureau-jobs can be easily automated. In the near future I expect various "paper-work-reduction" schemes will close the loop such that the paperless cycle of application and approval will occur without human intervention. I think of this as the dark side of SkyNet.

On a more positive note. One of the Information Culture jobs that is currently being automated is Legal Discovery. This is the process of shuffling through all the "information" generated by the Legal-Industrial Complex looking for tidbits that might be relevant to a paying case. I'd guess that this occupies about 80% of non-partner lawyers in the US, who will soon be on the automated-out-of-a-job streets with the rest of the Occupiers.

This is the best reason I can think of for maintaining Stand Your Ground and Open Carry statutes.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Turbulent Plans

I'm shuffling along with the Axle Contemporary installation...I built a 4x4' box to test out the fans and found that the one that tried to chop off my pinkie is in fact the bomb: 250 cfm at 40 watts!!! I need to get a few more -- along with the 12v 100Ah power supply I think might run them all. When I get them installed in the test box I'll post another little video clip.

To get some measurements for materials I've drawn up the basic plans for the truck. Here's the side view:
There is a 3x6' window in the back of the truck (on the right). I'll put a box of fans along the bottom of the window extending the width of the truck. Packing peanuts will be feed into the fan box from a ramp, currently estimated to be at about a 25deg slope, and the remainder of the truck will be covered with a screen to keep the peanuts, air, and fans in their appropriate places. Air flow will be as indicated by the cyan colored arrows. We Hope.

Here is a plan view, where the cab is at the top of the drawing with a pass-through door opening for maintenance access (speaking of which, in addition to having to cobble together two 4x8 sheets of ramp I need to make sure I can get in under there to fix stuff):
I'm planning to use 8 fans along the bottom of the window. The six under the window itself will blow straight up and the two on either end will be angled in to try to keep everything in motion. I can sequence the operation of all the fans in various ways to maybe make it interesting -- and responsive to proximity sensors.

I should look something like this from the back:

Now I have to internet-order more stuff. It's amazing how hard it is to find art supplies Santa Fe.