dagoski: Emperor Norton I of the Bear State Republic (Default)
I had thought I would've done something cooler with this blog by now, but I've been unable to find the interest of late.  First, I'm about 50,000 words into a novel I'm writing.  The amount of world creation that's gone into it brings the total closer to 100,000.  I think this might be one I actually finish.  I've tended to crap out at around 50,000 in my past attempts.  I'm setting the work down for the next few weeks, though.  I'm in the final stretch of time here in Philly and I need to work on packing.  Mostly that's done already.  I find myself both depressed and impatient.  I'm sitting in a mostly bare apartment bereft of art and all the things that made it a home.  Boxes stretch from end of the living room to the other.  I want to be on my way already.  That'll happen quick enough.  I'm pretty surly for the time being though.  I've been looking for a job to replace the one I'm leaving for more than a year and nothing has come up anywhere within a three hour drive of Michelle.  So it's unemployment/under-employment and back to school with me.  I'm not thrilled with this especially in the current political climate.  On one hand, the large banks that created the credit crisis have failed to anything to alleviate it and are hoarding all the money they made off Federal payments and dodgy deals.  No one's loaning right and that's kill the recovery before it's begun.  The deficit hawks are doing their best to kill the administration of a president whose race they dislike.  They were curiously silent for steep tax cuts to pay two wars of occupation far away from traditional US interests.  Notice how that sentence fails to parse.  That's old fashioned Reaganism there.  That's part of the BS line that cutting taxes raises revenues.  Notice also how our deficits grow under Republican rule but decline under a Democrat?  Not all Dems are cut out like that.  Anyway, there's no pump priming going on to restore some sense of normalcy to the economy.  Not this time.  At the same time, there's a stubborn refusal to attack the whole entitlement vs revenue issue.  No party wants to take that one on because they fear it'll alienate voters like me.  Hey, no prob here, man.  I haven't believed I'd ever collect my benefits since Reagan got into office.  I've already written that piece of the New Deal off as history from a nostalgic Golden Age.  So, my job prospects are not good.  Then there's the Tea Party candidate who says that I'm spoiled for collecting the unemployment insurance I'm due for paying into the system all these years. 

I haven't been in such a great mood this past year.  I've been living away from Michelle and we haven't been able to visit each other on a regular basis because we don't earn enough money to jump on a plane every month or so. Thought we did, but paying two rents has meant that sticking with my job has meant breaking even and no more.  So, I've found it pain to find the motivation to do things.  I haven't wanted to be social because I lived in this constant mood of being on the edge of leaving.  That didn't turn out so I've wound up living like some crazed hermit in a cave.  Looking forward to being near to the old Ann Arbor crowd in a few weeks.

Work has been interesting.  I'm working on an automated QC system for multimedia language resources.  I can directory structure, troubleshoot audio headers and even do some rudimentary XML validation.  I'll be able to do more once we upgrade our SAX Python version.  I'm hoping I can break ground on the video QC module this next month.  Eventually, I'd like to include some language ID capacity as well.  That's the gold standard.  If you can identify the language with even a 50% certainty, then you're pretty sure the resource has been well structured and you've parsed it well enough to get something other than gibberish out of your LI module.  This is all part of an advanced project that I might consult on in the future.  If that goes well, I can earn a part time income from my current employer by redesigning the publication catalog and developing advanced Description Logics and Ontologies for describing language resources.  Sort of a specialized Resource Description Framework that allows a software system to parse the description and launch into a full blown Quality Assurance test.

But right now, I'm sitting in my cheerless apartment waiting for it all to be finished.  I'm embracing the lameness and taking time to reflect on things as I pack and await the arrival of the wife who will whisk me off to the relative paradise known as Toledo.
dagoski: Emperor Norton I of the Bear State Republic (Default)
This is probably only funny if you're as big a fan of CJ Cheryh's Chanur seris as [livejournal.com profile] paka , [livejournal.com profile] thnidu

  and myself are.  Sung to the tune of Fountains of Wayne's "Stacy's Mom", it's "Hilfy's Aunt"

Hilfy's aunt has got it goin' on
Hilfy's aunt has got it goin' on
Hilfy's aunt has got it goin' on
Hilfy's aunt has got it goin' on

Hilfy, can I come up to the bridge?
We can sit by navigation console
Did your aunt get back from the kifish ship?
Is she there, is she trying to throw me off the ship?

You know, I'm not the alien refugee I used to be
I've got papers now, can't you see?

Hilfy's aunt has got it goin' on
She's all I want and I've waited so long
Hilfy can't you see, you're just not the girl for me
I know it might be wrong, but I'm in love with Hilfy's aunt

Hilfy's aunt has got it goin' on
Hilfy's aunt has got it goin' on

Hilfy, do you remember when I came on board?
Your aunt came at me with claws out
I could tell she liked me by the way she stared
And the way she said, "You're dripping blood here."

And I know that you think it's just a fantasy
But since the Mahen took off, your aunt could use a guy like me

Hilfy's Aunt has got it goin' on
She's all I want and I've waited so long
Hilfy, can't you see you're just not the girl for me
I know it might be wrong, but I'm in love with Hilfy's aunt.

dagoski: Emperor Norton I of the Bear State Republic (Default)
Okay, believe or not, I overdid it today.  Just about eighty percent of the nonfiction book collection is now packed for the upcoming move.  I'm working more than a month in advance of the move date, but there's a lot that needs to be done.  Packing the books is one of the more onerous tasks because there's so many and so many are hard bound books, many of which are obnoxiously heavy Physics and Math textbooks.  Most people finish out at Calculus, but I went way beyond that taking classes in topics such as Group Theory and Complex Systems.  Plus I studied everything from Dynamical Systems to Topology on my own.  I still retain some of it in my head and I never let go of the books.  So today, I lifted them all.  Given the bibliophiles in my circle, I feel duty bound to offer some advice.  First, don't move your books cold.  You have to train up to this kind of task.  That means spending some time in the weight room. 

I've been lifting weight for more than twenty years now.  Spend enough time in the gym, and you'll see a lot of bad form, dubious techniques and out and out stupidity, usually male in origin.  I was lucky enough to have some great instruction in the form of a class I took and some impressive heavy hitters who trained in the Evergreen State College gym.  One woman, whose name I have long since forgotten, was a champion Olympic weightlifter.  She was one heck of a good coach.  Another was a local bodybuilder who held the regional title, Tim.  Tim was a terrific guy to have around.  Not only did he have the kind of body that showed you what you could accomplish, but he was about the most positive and friendly guy I have ever met.  He was generous with his time and help.  We also had this whole herd of unconventional athletes who were serious about strength training.  We used to compare notes and collect data on what worked and what didn't.  There's a lot of different combination of exercises and routines.  Here's what I find works for anyone who just wants to be strong and fit:  Lift heavy weights every day using good form.  More specifically, use exercises that work in the direction your body wants to move.  Use three or four sets of 8-12 repetitions for each exercise.  And shake up your routine every few months.  I'm doing things a little differently these days.  That's because I'm lifting some extremely heavy weights using powerlifting(as opposed to bodybuilding) techniques.  If you can't go to a class, hit the books:  I like Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe.  This is the complete reference for power lifting and strength training.  Rippetoe details exercises from anatomy on up to technique.  You'll know what each movement is supposed to do, how it works and how to do it right after you read this book.  Another good book is Arnold Schwarzenhagger's classic, The Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding.  This is a thorough and well written book that covers weight training for all occasions.

No, I want to cover some bad ideas.  I've been seeing more and more them at the UPenn gym where I train.  And I'll see more at the UToledo gym where I will be lifting soon.  Young men want to bulk up when they find a weight room and, because they're male, they're not confident enough to ask for help in an official capacity.  Seriously, you will get derided for taking a weight room safety class.  Ignore it because you'll be building strength when the zeta males have quit or are limping from their injuries.  First off, balls.  These are popular these days, but there's a lot of BS concerning their use.  First, many people use them for ab training.  What's going on here?  Real trainers will tell you that use the bouncy, stretchiness of the inflatable balls to train balance.  This is great for novices and helps train other athletes to keep themselves stable in motion.  However, ask yourself what using a ball really gets you.  Many people use them for sit ups and all they really get is an assist which dilutes the value of the exercise.  Same with push ups.  Don't use a ball to support your legs while doing push ups.  Use a bench.  This declination makes the motion harder and adds to the workout.  However, the instability of the ball will throw you off balance and force to suddenly strain and that increases the risk of injury.  In general, the harder the exertion, the greater the need for stability.  In addition to the inflatable balls, weighted balls that look like basket balls are in vogue.  Back in the day, we called these Medicine Balls and they're a training device with a long history.  They're really good for training your core muscles(the muscles that support your torso).  However, there's some dumb stuff that's become stylish with these things of late.  I see lots of guys doing sit ups on an incline bench tossing a ten or even twenty pound ball high into the air against a wall and catching it as they do situps.  Don't do this.  Can you really catch the ball reliably?  How are you gonna feel when you brain someone with a missed catch?  How dumb are you gonna feel when the gym revokes your membership and the other person's lawyer extracts a big payment out of you?  If you want to get an intense situp experience, get a partner and gently toss the ball to him or her on the downside and catch it on he upswing.  That's safe training.

Arching your back?  Stop right now, take a plate or two off the bench press bar and do what you can handle.  Put your feet down on the floor, keep your back on the bench and get a brain before the paramedics have to come out there with the back board.  In general, you need to keep your back straight in any movement.  If you're swinging the weights and your hips, you're cheating, getting a poorer workout and setting yourself up for lower back injuries,  Listen to me on this.  I lift despite having fractured my back in a skiing accident as a teen.  I can lift huge weights because I keep my back straight, my hips under my back and because I move in control at all times.  If I slack off on form, I know it really quick. 

Weight belts seem to be an important fashion accessory this season.  Don't follow the crowd.  Unless you are doing a certain set of lifts and doing a lot of weight, the belts don't do anything for you.  Weight belts do not in fact support the back.  They compress your abdominal wall and reinforce it so the pressure developed in a big lift doesn't cause you a hernia.  Doing squats with 200 and more pounds?  Definitely strap up.  Likewise Clean and Press, Deadlift, Clean and Jerk or Snatch.  On a bench?  What do you really back support for?  Also, unless you're really going for a max lift on the bench, you're not going to come close to straining your innards in these movements.  You can also build your own weight belt, as it were, by building your abdominal muscles and lower back.  I spend a lot of time on my abs because it helps with my old back injury, but ab training will help with anything you do in strength training or any sport.  Those muscles keep you upright in any situation.  Plus having good abs impresses that cute person you want to pay attention to you.

Sauna Suits.  Good Gawds, why do these things still exist?  Sauna suits are garments with an impermeable layer that traps your body heat and forces you to sweat.  These are dangerous for many reasons.  First, you can get dehydrated really fast.  That makes you pass out and the gym management frowns on that sort of thing.  If dehydration doesn't get you first, your body temperature soars until your body makes you stop by shutting down.  Also, many of the people tempted by these things have bad hearts or are trying lose weight out of fear they will get a bad heart.  As your body temperature soars, your heart starts pumping.  Its doing this because your capillaries have dilated to allow for surface cooling of your blood.  The suit short circuits that and your autonomous functions don't know what your conscious mind does, that you were dumb enough wear a sauna suit.  Your heart starts pumping in a desperate attempt to circulate more blood through the dilated capillaries to cool it.  You also start breathing hard and your BP soars.  If your circulatory system is compromised, you're pushing it towards break down.  Now, lets look at the basic claim behind the sauna suit, namely that it enhances weight loss.  Humbug, my friends.  The sauna suit makes you sweat.  Period.  Weigh yourself before and after.  Sure enough you will find a significant weight loss.  That's because you've lost water.  The second your drink it back in, you've put the weight back in.  The weight loss is illusory.  Wrestlers will use these things to sweat down to the boundary of next lowest weight class before a match.  That's how temporary the weight loss is.  If you want to lose weight, change what you eat and start working out sensibly. 

Anyway, that's all the tips I have for today.  Be safe, take safety class and think about your objectives in weight training.
dagoski: Emperor Norton I of the Bear State Republic (Default)
Last night, I spilled a small amount of wine on my laptop.  Damage was confined to the keyboard.  It will have to be replaced.  Does anyone of the flist have any experience replacing keyboards on Mac G4 Powerbook(15")?  I have a set of instructions from Ifixit.  The process looks complicated, but no more so than some of the DVD duplicator upgrades I've done in the past.  What are the pitfalls of this repair?  Anyone know?  The price for DIY repair is about $120 for keyboard and tools.  The price to have someone else do it is $200-$300.  For the moment, I'm going to limp along with an external keyboard. 
dagoski: Emperor Norton I of the Bear State Republic (Default)


I keep threatening to do a essay on the concept of nationalism and how it relates to current events. I've got more reading to do yet. In the meantime, I'm going to run a series of essays on information security and risk. This series of essays is actually a term paper from my Informationn Ethics class that I've split into several parts.

PS: UCLA admission's committee.  If you're reading this, you have discovered a certain applicant's pseudonym.  Feel free to wander.  It's up to you to decide if I'm the real deal, or what Andy Warhol once called a Honky Bullshitter.


Information specialists today practice their profession in a world of dangerous information. Currently, there are overlapping trends to control information both for perceived security and for reasons of privacy. At the same time, modern commerce possesses an insatiable thirst for personal information. The collection and aggregation of personal information can also be used for purposes of epidemiology and to provide better service in both the commercial and the government realms. Information professionals must strike a balance between protecting information and facilitating its retrieval.

The professional codes of most information organizations stress public service, intellectual freedom, and respect for individual privacy. The ethical code for the Association of Record Managers and Administrators(ARMA) goes as far to state that the free flow of information is necessary for a democratic society. Meanwhile, the American Library Association's code of ethics opposes censorship and emphasizes a commitment to intellectual freedom. However, information professionals now face strong pressure to suppress information or to closely follow their patrons' consumption of information. Since 2001, concern for security has become pervasive in the realms of government and technology R&D. At the same time, the proliferation of fraud using personal information has led to increased concern over personal records in many industries. All this concern rests on the concept of dangerous information. The question, though, it what makes information dangerous? Under what circumstances can information harm through disclosure?

Read more... )
dagoski: Emperor Norton I of the Bear State Republic (Default)

At work, I'm currently running a Nixonian campaign for the adoption of a controlled vocabulary for publication metadata. In other words, I'm making a list of acceptable terms to describe the holdings of the research institute I work at, a nice little place I call the Linguistic Salt Mines. In technical terms, this is metadata, information about information. In layman's terms metadata is description of something. And a Controlled Vocabulary constrains the language used in that description. The fact that my push to persuade the organization to adopt the standards implies that information has politics. As an Information Scientist or Male Librarian, this seems a no brainer, but for most people the two words don't quite seem to go together. Note how my affirmed identity there is steeped in cultural politics. That oughta tell you something. Our words, our nouns of the moment are fraught with politics. Hockey Mom didn't used to have a political connotation, but it sure does now. That term is now caught up in a political debate about identity and sovereignty and the everyday lives of US citizens take on a political character we haven't known before. That political character was there, of course, but most of us failed to notice even while Karl Rove was building a mighty Direct Market Machine designed to change our votes. Just in my flailing attempt to introduce the concept of Information Politics, I have demonstrated the politics of language. And language transmits information. If language has fallen in with its disreputable fellow noun, politics, then information will probably jump off the same cliff as its friends do. Before I dive into this more, let's work up some definitions.

Read more... )

This is a rerun of an essay I banged out in about two hours a few months ago. I'm amazed it hangs together as well as it does.

dagoski: Emperor Norton I of the Bear State Republic (Default)
Welcome one. Welcome all.  This is the second, or thereabouts, incarnation of my blog.  The first one was hosted by Livejournal.  However, over the years, their corporate masters have pulled some stunts that have left me ever more doubtful about the integrity of that community.  I much prefer Dreamwidth's revenue model.  They want money up front and give you complete control over your very own printing press.  I'm working on an invite code right now, but that's just to test drive the system.  I'm going to throw them a check next pay period.

My previous journal was little more than a ranting room and a way to keep up with the lives of an assortment of friends and acquaintances who had become scattered across the globe.  This incarnation is more ambitious and represents my attempt to do disciplined essay writing on a fairly regular basis.  As you might guess from my default icon, this blog will have a great deal of political content.  The guy in fancy dress is none other than Emperor Norton I of the United States, Defender of Mexico.  If ever there was a time for Norton, that time is now.  We either need him to come back and help us regain our dignity through reckless optimism or our era has become crazy enough that Norton seems the only sane choice.  Now this blog is not some collection of lunatic rantings.  Rather I hope to probe some of the deeper questions underlying the choices we make as a nation.  This is in fact becoming the central idea of what may become a graduate research program on my part.

For those who don't know me already, I'm currently an Information Professional who straddles the territory between Computer Scientist and Librarian.  I have an MS in Library and Information Science and have worked in almost every aspect of the IT world over the last sixteen years.  I started out as a Scientific Programmer working in the University of Michigan Space Physics Lab.  I worked a bit on data analysis of the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis as well as working in the ground control center for the HRDI project on the Upper Atmosphere Satellite.  From there I worked as a Network Engineer, Web Application Developer and System Analyst for a whole host of ill defined projects involving information.  Currently I serve as the Manager of Publications for a research institute specializing in language resources.  Among my many projects is the development of an ontology for validating and qcing language corpora.  That's a pretty blue sky project and may never come to fruition, but it's really cool.  

In recent years, I have become interested in how societies process information and make decisions.  This came about because I took several assignments in my master's program way too seriously and went farther afield from strict Library or Information Science and into Cognitive Science, Sociology, Social Psychology, System Theory, Cybernetics and Economics.  The last is rapidly becoming my academic field of choice. Depending on how things turn out in the next couple of months, I may wind up pursuing a second undergraduate major in Economics as prep for graduate study in that field.  

This incarnation of my blog may well serve as a sort of pre-print archive of stuff I intend to submit to journals at a later date.  Think of it as a sort of poor man's ArXiv.  In the upcoming weeks, I'm going to post articles about the politics of information, the personal and political motivations of secrecy and other other dispatches related to these subjects.  I may also post my reflections on the history of Nationalism, the evolution of Professionalism and whatever else comes to mind.  I will cross post of my work to LiveJournal and my DailyKos.

AM Dagoski is, naturally, a pseudonym.  My real name is not all that hard to track down.  However, this fig leaf provides plausible deniability for my employers and educational institutions.  In other words, they know really clearly that anything I say here is as me, the inidividual, and not as me the devoted little worker.

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