Saturday, December 30, 2006

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is a odd thing to consider. It states that someone accepts something as true not by analyzing evidence available in a logical manner but instead by the degree that it conflicts with their own existing view of reality. Even if something is air tight provably true some people will not accept it. They will even makup some unverifyable theory to explain away the conflicting fact. What is interesting about this is that it illustrates how the mind is a learning machine that has no direct connection to the truth. If the environment that the mind finds itself in is different from reality then the mind will be different from reality as well. If someone never comes face to face with their own fallibility they will find it very easy to disregard any information that would make them fallible. To me this is a dismal realization, that so many people could be locked in to skewed realities that they would be willing to fight to preserve.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Edwin H. Land Quotes

  • The bottom line is in heaven.
  • The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail.
  • Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity.
  • Politeness is the slow poison of collaboration.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Watching a Charlie Rose interview with George Soros about his book “The Age of Fallibility” , I heard something I have believed so strongly since my escape from fundamentalist religion, and that is that we are incapable of knowing reality and must always be in a constant state of listening to the world and humbly changing our minds in the face of new information. The opposite of this philosophy is arrogantly believing that one knows the way the world works (or should work), and actively resist information that is contradictory to your view, especially when it is negative for you. Over and over between the peace makers and the instigators of conflict this idea emerges.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Sun

Every second four million tons of matter disapears from the Sun, converted into energy via fusion and E=mc^2 and radiated out as light. Only one part in two billion shines on the Earth and fuels plants and plants fuel us and the thoughts we have about the Sun and everything else. Surely it must be possible to tap this system and never worry about energy again.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


As someone who lives and solves problems with computers everyday, every time I hear about political parties gearing up for the next election I am under whelmed. I hear things like get out the vote campaigns, fund raising for tv ads, political consultants that tailor a message to “the base” or “the center”, and hot-button issues that motivate people to vote. I am under whelmed by a politician who when asked a complex question repeats a laundry list of strategically and linguistically crafted talking points designed to influence someone with a uninterested and short attention span. I also see the other world behind the public image, where a candidate’s true constituency is glimpsed and it is never a nice picture. And it could all be so easy.

  1. Vote online.
  2. Maintain a Wikipedia style neutral public record on issues, politicians, voting records, scandals, and contributors.
  3. Increase communication between politicians and the people they represent, through polls, and direct emails.
  4. Connect people who know how to solve an issue with people who have the resources to solve it.

With voting taking 5 min from any computer, an informed electorate, and representatives held accountable to their constituents, all of the issue obscuring bag of tricks goes away.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Valvano's Three Rules of Software Development

I got these three rules from a class I had at the University of Texas. The professor was Jonathan W Valvano.
  1. Choose reliability over more features.
  2. Don't make excuses to a customer for what is broke. Make a plan of how to fix it.
  3. Design for the future.
As a developer in a small startup, these three ideas have returned to significance.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Choices Present Past and Future

I stumbled on this very obvious yet profound idea. (copied from wikipedia)

Karma (Sanskrit: कर्म from the root kṛ, "to do", [meaning deed] meaning action, effect, destiny) means "(the result of) action", generally taken as a term that comprises the entire cycle of cause and effect. Karma is a sum of all that an individual has done, is currently doing and will do. Individuals go through certain processes and accompanying experiences throughout their lives which they have chosen, and those would be based on the results of their own creations: "karma". Karma is not about retribution, vengeance, punishment or reward. Karma simply deals with what is. The effects of all deeds actively create past, present and future experiences, thus making one responsible for one's own life, and the pain and joy brought to others.

Failure And Success

I found this article on delicious popular. It hits a core idea that I would put at the top of the list of my life experience. Most peoples sense of what is possible and what is important is often wrong. Often it takes a traumatic event to pop the illusion and force someone to look at what is really there, what is really important. What emerges from that experience is a life that is a little wiser and in line with reality. The trick is to never pass by an opportunity to question what is real, what is important, or what is possible.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Cradle to Cradle

A good idea, instead of wasting resources recycling what we have, why not make things that recycle well.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Inovative Ways of Building a House

The other day I was thinking about cool ways to build a house. These are the ideas I came up with.

A shell house is a house where the outside is a dome or normal walls that keep out the weather. The interior walls and infrastructure has no structural function only what is needed for the people living in the house. The interior could be made of something as simple as paper or fabric.

A lego blocks house is build of mass produced slabs between 4 and 10 feet square. There are floor modules, wall modules roof modules, etc. with electrical and plumbing connections embedded in them. The modules would not be permanently joined and could be remodeled or moved with half a days work. The foundation could be something like the raised floor seen in computer rooms where floor slabs are placed into a frame on pillars.

A Local brick house is a house made of bricks that are fired either locally or at the build site. Dirt is dug up and melted into a glass or baked like brick either by a normal kiln or perhaps a large portable solar reflector.

The hot glue house is a variant of the local brick house except that instead of making discrete bricks the process produces a stream of molten glass. The stream is then laid down row after row like hot glue or toothpaste until a foundation, walls, or a dome is formed.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Newspapers and Government

"If I had to choose between a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I would choose newspapers without a government." - Thomas Jefferson

( Quote taken from

Why We Fight

For anyone who studies history and politics and is looking for insightful questions about the future of the US, its politics and the world, the documentary "Why We Fight" is required viewing. Watching it a second time with the background commentary from the director Eugene Jarecki Lawrence Wilkerson is also insightful. The wikipedia page for the film is filled with additional details.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Politics Internet Style

The mission statment of Wikia, the political portion of Wikipedia, rather exelently captures how I view politics.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Updated Programs

I have update my programs includeing screen images, descriptions, binaries, and source code. There are eleven programs in total. The updated page is here.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Hex Grid

What are all of the combinations of a certain number of connected hexagons ? I wrote this java app to find out.

Pure Imagination

Willy Wonka:

Come with me
And you'll be
In a world of
Pure imagination
Take a look
And you'll see
Into your imagination

We'll begin
With a spin
Traveling in
The world of my creation
What we'll see
Will defy

If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Wanta change the world?
There's nothing
To it

There is no
Life I know
To compare with
Pure imagination
Living there
You'll be free
If you truly wish to be

If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Wanta change the world?
There's nothing
To it

There is no
Life I know
To compare with
Pure imagination
Living there
You'll be free
If you truly
Wish to be

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Tank Man

I had to share this frame from Frontline: Tank Man of three workers from a factory that makes linen sheets in China giving an interview in their twelve to a room dormatory with goverment minders just off camera. The woman in the middle stopped me in my tracks and her expression speaks volumes of the life they lead.

Monday, March 13, 2006

More Leaves

Scared Enough To be Happy

Growing up I was in Boy Scouts. I never made Eagle. When I think back on it now I find it very easy to see the whole rank advancement thing as unimportant. I tell myself, it was the experience, and the people that mattered most. But in reality rank and badges were important. I am convinced one of the biggest skews of reality happen when people choose a reality based on how it affects their view of self. In arguments people struggle to win and lose sight of what they are talking about and why it matters. People do the same pointless job every day because they couldn’t possibly have worked this hard to end up nowhere. They avoid the regret, the hard introspection, the painful change, that comes from seeing the hard cold world. If God had your resume with all your strengths and weaknesses, would you want to see it? The hard road, the road of deep clarity that eventually leads to a purposeful life, is scary.

Note: I lifted the phrase “Scared Enough To be Happy” from an interview with “Crash” director Paul Haggis’ interview on Charlie Rose where he described how people aren’t happy unless they are challenged and a little scared that they might not succeed.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Where Your Are

How often do you step back and see where you are? Its easy to see what is around you but above you the atmosphere disperses into the still quiet void of space and bellow you past the rocky outer crust is a mass of molten rock that makes up most of the mass that holds us to the surface with its gravity. And then there is time. In recorded history we are at the peak of technological wonders freed from the toils of looking for food, finding shelter, and avoiding disease. On the geologic time scale we are the long distant relatives of all life on the planet molded through millions of years of natural selection. Vast stretches of time where life grew and died generation after generation, but no people, nothing of what we see today. But we are not masters of our fate. The future could be the extermination of everyone or a life so wonderful we cannot imagine it. The first step to figuring it all out is first not forgetting where you are ... and then where you want to be.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Unreal World

There is a place not made of atoms but of information. Mathematics, Physics, Economics, Politics, Literature, they all live in this place. All who visit the same place see the same thing, like one would view a lamppost on the same street corner. In this place nothing new is ever created, or ever changes, it is only seen, sometimes for the first time. This place transcends space, for if there are intelligences out amongst the stars they are exploring this same place, though with different minds and different eyes. Like nature this place is neither good nor bad. It is indifferent. As time progresses though, this unreal world will slip into the real with events both wondrous and horrific, discovered by explorers, settled by colonists, and lived in by all who follow.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Leaf Under The Microscope

Taken with the Intel QX3 microscope

One Leaf

This is a leaf from one of my plants. The structure blends strength, circulation, absorption of light, and the growth of a living thing.