Welcome to the Grey Area...

Mar 29, 2004
Ho... hum...

Believe it or not I have nothing to add today.

If there's anything worth writing about, you let me know about it and I'll write about it.

Posted at 03:01 am by sumtinburnin
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Oct 23, 2003
All Your Base Are Belong To Us...

How and why did this achieve the notoriety it has? An internet meme that still has not faded away...

Posted at 05:12 pm by sumtinburnin
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Oct 22, 2003
Litany Against Fear

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.

Only I will remain.

- Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear

Posted at 05:09 am by sumtinburnin
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Oct 20, 2003
Do you know about Tyler Durden?

Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate, so we can buy shit we don't need.

The things you own end up owning you

You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.

How much can you know about yourself if you've never been in a fight?

Tyler Durden

Posted at 05:20 pm by sumtinburnin
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Oct 1, 2003
Is it cos I is black?

Hear me now and chill. You is visitin da rong site. Heers wear da real skunk is.

Posted at 06:32 am by sumtinburnin
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Sep 30, 2003
How to lose weight effectively...


Most of us eat too much and from my own experience and the experience of others, as well as the scientfic literature out there, there is really only one healthy and guaranteed way of losing weight.

A well balanced nutritionally complete calorie controlled diet

(okay, if you're metricated, we'll be more generalized, an energy intake controlled diet)

Basically it's like this.

x = y - z

where x is your net energy loss/gain, y is what you take in and z is what you expend.

y naturally refers to what you eat

z refers to your energy expenditure in terms of basal metabolism and exercise.

To lose weight (which is the form of energy reserves mostly in FAT), you need to mantain a slightly negative x in the long run till you reach your ideal weight. At that point, you mantain x around 0 on average.

Now, if you do the math, you will see that unless you are expending prodigious amounts of energy (z) the only consistently serious way you will keep a negative x is to cut down on what you eat.

There are many fad diets out there, many that I am unfamiliar with but one that I am definitely sure works, with little in way of side effects healthwise deployed correctly is the method propagated by weight watchers.

Basically what they do is make all your energy calculations easier for you by using the concept of points (after all calories and joules - they're all hard to add up in your head). And they encourage and instill discipline to keep to a reasonable diet by peer group meetings, which are a very good idea and form a very important part in mantaining weight loss.

All in all a very commendable system.

If you need more information I strongly advise you to visit their site. Joining a peer group really does help even though there is hassle involved going to meetings etc. However, there is probably enough information on the site for you to try and do it yourself.

All you need is discipline. And...

You just need to get to know how to calculate points. This is the problem if you're doing it yourself...

The problem with Weight Watchers...

They can be very protective about their method of calculating points, to the point of patenting their system but you can find the formula on the US patents site.

NOTHING is stopping you from lifting the formula from here and applying it to your own calculator.

There are calculators on the net. Follow this  link which is a link to a download. You get the rebol/view interpreter  - the windows version - free for distribution - totally legal here - check www.rebol.com and rebol script with full source code for a fully working gui points calculator.

If for any reason you encounter problems downloading the bundle, try downloading the script alone here - you may have to cut the code out of the web page and paste it into the rebol/view console to run it OR alternatively, save the file as a .r file and edit it and chop off the html code for lycos's banner adds (YES they add banner adds to any file you download off them)

If you find it useful, pass it around.
Note there are other alternatives to weight watchers, which I am not aware of. Weight watchers is currently the only program I would recommend BUT with a little reluctance because they appear to be mercenary. But their method does work, I'll grant them that.

Posted at 05:43 pm by sumtinburnin
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Ascent of Man II

Modern society...

We do things none of our hunter-gatherer ancestors ever imagined they would be doing. Modern sanitation, health care and technology have done wonders for our general health and life expectancy.

However with all these advancements, we pay a price. We no longer have to struggle like our ancestors had, our environment has been totally altered to a state which really is foreign, considering the manner we evolved in the first place - hardship, be it chasing gazelle on the savanna or gathering roots and berries, that sort of thing - stuff we have been doing for millenia until very recently.

Think about it, the industrial revolution is really fairly recent considering how long we struggled prehistorically.

The dawn of the electronic age is pretty much over, we're kind of like just had breakfast and who knows what it's going to be like before lunch.

However we are still saddled with a lot of our evolutionary baggage. We have been lurched into a world of change very suddenly, relatively speaking, and I am not sure if collectively we have evolved enough widsom sometimes to know what's right and wrong and do the right thing.

Our brains, no our entire physiology have to adapt to this relatively new way of life.

We are easily manipulated by the mass media (the herd mentality)

We tend to see things in the short term and our ability to grasp complicated concepts is somewhat hampered by wiring in our brain (perhaps this will change as we evovle?). For example, most people (myself included) have a very poor grasp of probability and logic.

We are greedy sons of bitches... Possibly a throw back to the days when food was scarce and when you had food you'd better eat as much as you can... This goes back to what I said about people in general tending to see things in the short term, what's goood for them or maybe their families and f@ck everyone else, either in the here or now or in the future.

I am sure you can think of more.

I do believe we are called to be more than our human animal evolutionary baggage. With apparently very little evolutionary pressure now, it is all the more important that changes happen from within. In your mind.


But do not believe what I write. Think for yourself.

Posted at 05:03 pm by sumtinburnin
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Too busy...

Ever noticed how...

People eat too much and sleep too little...

People do too much and think too little...

Or think too much and reflect too little...

Posted at 03:36 am by sumtinburnin
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Sep 28, 2003
The Ascent of Man

It is said that what makes man radically different from other mammals (or animals) is our ability to form abstract thought.

There is a real difference in simple conditioning which say a dog experiences (does the name Pavlov ring a bell? *sorry* couldn't resist that) and actually being aware of such a phenomena and being able to draw conclusions from it.

Children very quickly learn abstract thought as their growing brains develop.

Maybe dolphins and some higher primates do too.

The idea of an apple, a rock, a fire hydrant - these are all tangible objects. You can eat an apple, throw a rock, pee on a fire hydrant... if so inclined.


What do we actually mean when we create a new idea such as the idea of 'freedom of speech' or 'human rights'? Or even the idea of rationality and logic.

These are all intangible, not readily seen nor felt - not part of our sensory experience.

They do not exist as such, then in this physical world, yet we talk about them as if they do.

Human beings are masters in their ability to create...
out of nothing and then with these...
warp them and change them to suit their own purposes...

Think punitive economic sanctions.... and think food and medical supply embargo

Think... casualties... (or dead people...?)

Or think more current events... 'strategic withdrawal...'  or RETREAT!

What do all your words and symbols mean?

Do they concur with those of others?

Posted at 03:35 am by sumtinburnin
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Sep 27, 2003
Not so bleeding obvious.... Rounding 'Errors'

As I  am actually quite at a loss to find something deeply philosophically perplexing today, I have chosen instead to dwell on a problem I came across quite briefly, which also may have quite profound implications if not caught and dealt with early.

Okay, it's a coding problem. Give me a break, it's a Sunday!

Basically, the situation is this, I needed a random number generator to spit out a random integer between 1 and x. Given the only standard C function that does this spits out a number between 0 and 32767, I thought this would work.

int random(int number)
        return  (int)  ((rand())/((float)32767) * number;

The first bit would get me a float between 0 and 1 - I'd use this to multiply it by number and hopefully that would give me a number between 0 and number.

BUT that's not what I want. I actually want a number between 1 and number....

So what if I do this...

int random(int number)
        return  (int)  ((rand())/((float)32767) * (number-1))+ 1;

That ought to work? Get a number between 0 and (number - 1) and add 1 to it?

Well, it does generate random numbers between 1 and number alright, but not quite the way you would imagine it to be.

If I had left it at that, I would have been none the wiser at first and this would have totally broken any sort of algorithm requiring fairly distributed random numbers.

Fortunately I modelled it...

Here's the function being called 10,000 times, to get  a number between 1 and 10

x = 1, frequency 558
x = 2, frequency 1150
x = 3, frequency 1085
x = 4, frequency 1086
x = 5, frequency 1149
x = 6, frequency 1096
x = 7, frequency 1132
x = 8, frequency 1071
x = 9, frequency 1090
x = 10, frequency 583

As you can see, it's not quite so perfectly distributed at both ends... There is a very good reason for this. Rounding...

For example, if the number yielded by the float multiply (before rounding and casting to int) was 9.7 it would be rounded to 10. But the range which yields 10 is only >9.5 (approximately 0.5)

The same thing happens at the other extreme end.

Whereas the range to round to 9 for example, x;  8.5> x <9.5 is approximately 1.0

Ditto for no's 2 thru' 8.

How to fix this:

int random(int number)
        int x;
        x =  (int)  ((rand())/((float)32767)    * number);
        return x ?  x : number;

This effectively treads both tail ends of the distribution as one unit, specifically no. 0 and number and assigns them both to number and that gives a better distribution.

x = 1, frequency 1029
x = 2, frequency 998
x = 3, frequency 977
x = 4, frequency 1023
x = 5, frequency 1007
x = 6, frequency 976
x = 7, frequency 1006
x = 8, frequency 995
x = 9, frequency 959

Okay this may be old news to you old hacks but like I said, give me a break, it's Sunday.

Lessons to be learnt

1. Just because it looks like it may work to you on paper does not mean it necessarily will.
2. Just because it appears to work right does not necessarily mean that either.
3. Extensive modelling and testing it against reality is probably the best way to go.

I guess again, the recurring theme is the world is not quite what it seems sometimes at first glance.

Again, I implore any of you who have more efficient code to post it.

Posted at 06:26 pm by sumtinburnin
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