Monday, June 25, 2012

Bleeding Heart Liberal

The NYTimes just published an opinion piece by former President Jimmy Carter which unequivocally damns the entire country and our leaders' approach to global human rights. The main point:
While the country has made mistakes in the past, the widespread abuse of human rights over the last decade has been a dramatic change from the past. With leadership from the United States, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948 as “the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” This was a bold and clear commitment that power would no longer serve as a cover to oppress or injure people, and it established equal rights of all people to life, liberty, security of person, equal protection of the law and freedom from torture, arbitrary detention or forced exile
The declaration has been invoked by human rights activists and the international community to replace most of the world’s dictatorships with democracies and to promote the rule of law in domestic and global affairs. It is disturbing that, instead of strengthening these principles, our government’s counterterrorism policies are now clearly violating at least 10 of the declaration’s 30 articles, including the prohibition against “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
See the whole article at the NYTimes. Or, if you've used up your viewing credits, I have an illegal pdf here.

It's pretty depressing how we got from Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Carter to where we are now...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Moody Robots

In one of the founding posts for this blog (Media Art Was the Booby Prize) I described a hierarchy of system behaviors with which to classify and direct my bricollage, see: Taxonomy. Since then I've been around and around on the difference between Responsive and Interactive, and think I may have a hammer to apply to it...

Responsive, not to put too fine a distinction, responds to inputs. My doorbell example is a bit flippant (it's what you've come to expect, yah?), but we might also think of amoeba who shy away from noxious chemicals and most-all Kinect-based Video Art that I've seen.

Interactive changes it's response over time. Interactive systems have internal state that is influenced by external events, and, with luck, those external events are in-turn influenced by the system's responses.

Adaptive is further up the tree. It remembers changes it has made. Ideally changes which somehow improve response. But that's a little beyond me in this current iteration.

A simple way to make an Interactive system is to make it moody. In the case of We Are Experiencing Some Turbulence this could be a child's sliding scale of:
  1. Asleep,
  2. Bored,
  3. Interested,
  4. Playful,
  5. Excited,
  6. Tantrum,
  7. Shutdown.
Which is interesting because the expressed states form a loop from shutdown back to asleep. So it could be implemented with a simple wrap around counter that is incremented and decremented based on how intense it's inputs are and how long they last. And, with no input, it can slowly loop through all it's behaviors so it's not just sitting around waiting to be stimulated.

Because things always go better with illustrations, here's one:

The Mood is a function of the Input over Time, and the Output is a function of the Input and the Mood. Inputs may have paradoxical effects when combined with extreme Moods, e.g., high intensity Input during a Tantrum could force a Shutdown of the Output, or low intensity Input in a Bored state might briefly appear to be Excited

Now to get to work...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Angels on Ariels

My VFD friend Terry is part of an Eldorado based motorcycle gang which sponsored a classic bike show on Father's Day, yesterday. He convinced me that I should clean up one of my poor neglected bikes and put it on show. Maybe even sell it.

I selected the 1952 Ariel, Demeter, as being the most unlikely thing to be duplicated at the show, and I was right. Despite all the years in the mouse-ridden shed she cleaned up nice. In the process I found cracks in the front fender stay and kickstand which goaded me to put on the new fender I've had hidden away for 10 years and fix the kickstand. Which was actually kinda fun, I forgot what putzing around with the bikes was like. Maybe I'll get the BST out again after all...

So here she is at the show all tarted up:

Right next to a 1951 Vincent:

I bought the Ariel because it was made the same year as me and I couldn't afford (nor find) a 52 Vincent.

A guy kept cruising by and quoting a song lyric: "Angles on Ariels in leather and chrome..." and I kept smiling as if I recognized the reference. I did, however, remember Richard Thompson's "1952 Vincent Black Lightning", which encapsulates the minimalist romance:
  1. Girl meets Motorcycle;
  2. Boy gets Girl;
  3. Boy dies;
  4. Girl gets Motorcycle.
in the line:
Says James "In my opinion, there's nothing in this world
Beats a 52 Vincent and a red headed girl.
When I got home I used the power of Google to find the Ariel quote, and lo it is from the deathbed scene of same song;
I see angels on Ariels in leather and chrome,
Swooping down from heaven to carry me home.
Which always brought a tear to my eye. But this time running down my cheeks as well, I suppose because I have a handshake deal to sell my Ariel, executed as we were loading her back on my truck.

Anyway, it was a great show. Who knew there were so many nice non-Harley motorcycles in New Mexico? And nice Harleys as well, but in a minority. And I've always loved those Indians:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Found It

Seed Pods

Yesterday I wandered into the fire station after an abortive call and there, behind the ambulance, were a few of these guys waiting for a breeze:

So I guess they are early summer denizens -- seed pods from a local grass -- rather than fall fellers.

They are nature's perfectly adapted model for my packing pellets, running around on roads and parking lots looking for a place to stay. If only I could collect enough of them... They also apparently get stuck in dog's ears causing untold misery.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Turbulent First -- build-out

I had the truck for a couple days and got everything installed. It all seems to work.
You can see the report here:
Rear Window (thanks Hitch)
Now I just have to finish it...