all hallows eve

All Hallows' Eve in the Silver City, and everyone under the age of 40 is getting wasted right outside my house. all the males are dressed as zombies; all the females, as "sexy" whatever they felt like. i'm sure this doesn't differ in your cities either. i sat outside to have a joint and watch the drunks, and out of about 60-75 women that went past not one had resisted the pressure to wear torture shoes and a tiny skirt in the freezing cold.

three or four of them noticed me sitting on the wall, looking probably pretty fucked up with my giant clothes and my joint, and i realised they pity me as much as i pity them... weird, huh.

outside of the sexy hordes, things may be getting better, though i'm loath to type a post about happy shiny rainbows before i actually know for sure. i got two conflicting letters yesterday from the Student Loans company, so one of them says i get about half the max loan and the other says max loan. they both have the same date. i need to call up the company yet again but at least it means some money will be coming in sooner or later.

lastly, i need to thank everyone who has sent what they could give towards food and rent. we have enough to pay the rent now, so things are so much more secure for the while than they were before. i can't thank you all enough. i never expected this much support. thank you so, so much.

some people say the PayPal isn't working - let me know if it doesn't. let me know also if you do not want to be listed as a contributor - i'm giving screen or real names as they were given to me, but i'm not listing amounts. i just want to have some page up that shows you were willing to help, as a thankyou.

on that note - even if your only contribution was to keep reading, thankyou too. i'm in no way trying to imply that people who supported me are better than people who didn't or couldn't. once again, the rule is no donating unless you have an income and can spare it.

happy All Hallows', sapes (well, i guess it's All Saints' Day now but whatever, i don't know all the Christian terminology, i just like the time of year). carpe corporem.



melladh said...

Happy upcoming Samhain. Our Halloween is tomorrow, and All Hallows is next saturday.. (it's a bit strange) I doubt we'll have to see too many "sexy" getups in the cold.

Happy to see you're staying afloat. Good luck with the bureaucrats.

ThomasEgi said...

couldnt help but smiling on the mental image of you sitting on a wall, smoking, feeling pity for those masochistic zombies.

glad to see you alive.

btw. i uploaded the hdd stuff.
from what i was able to find out it can deal with EM4100/EM4102/T5557 tags without any modification.

my mod pretty much intercepts the data line between reader-ic and sata controller. listens for my tag , and if found, sends out the stored em4102 key that the sata controller wants.


you may still be able to find those hdd cases as "rfid security hdd enclosure" or similar names.

also have some pictures from debugging around with a lot of wires attached to the drive electronic. not very educative, just show-off.

Max said...

All right, first comment submission failed, let's try this again.

Happy whatever holiday this is. I don't even know. If it weren't for my flatmate I wouldn't have noticed the time was adjusted. I still think we as a species should live according to something like swatch internet time rather than the broken system we're using right now.

I know what you mean though. The halloween parties haven't started yet, but as my flatmate's got friends over, I've got my own horde of senseless hedonists to despise, speaking proud tales of debauchery and heroic alcohol consumption. I know I'm being smug and am falsely feeling superior, but I couldn't care less right now. Enjoy your time, and don't let people get you down.

Lepht said...

ought to have clarified: all hallows' is actually the 31st, but yesterday was a sort of mock-eve for the students to get drunk on since the 31st is a Monday.

it was about five degrees last night, warmer than predicted, and there they were tottering about on stilettos and wearing tiny frilly skirts with corsets... i hold little hope of the ice stopping them.

ThomasEgi - nice one. i applaud your programming.

Max - universal time system? would solve so fucking many of my problems with online communication.

we may be smug, but at least we aren't dressed as Slutty Winnie the Pooh.


Anonymous said...

I dunno, If the CCC talk you gave is anything to go by ( ..and I think it is!!),I think your Dress code is just fucking awsome...maybe just with a pair of head kicker all purpose boots as an addition when fiscal possibility permits !!!!

Great to see ap ost from you, Have been waiting for a new one.

Sounds like you are picking up in terms of mental spirits....Rock on lepht !!!!!

Usul said...

Glad to hear the rent is covered and the loan is forthcoming!

No credit is required, but if you do want to give credit, please use my screen name, as I'm not too fond of the meatspace name :-)

As for universal time, what's wrong with UTC? ;-)

Max said...

Usul: base 24, partitioned into base 60, partitioned into base 60? (Oh, by the way, the base 24 part could also be read as base 12 with sign bit) And you're asking what's wrong? Swatch internet time (or something similar that doesn't have its meridian slapped across the headquarters of a company) is clearly the more logical system, and is the one we should be using.

Jackthetripper said...

Happy Halloween,

Wish I could have sent some money but I'm living barely above you. Might change soon but I'll always remember being stuck in that spot not knowing where the next meal will come from, or lying in bed waiting for my girlfriend to come over the next day while my stomach prevents me from wanting to get up. I have a huge soft spot for people in that position.

Anyways keep pushing, I managed to get out of that position, so can you. You're a bloody genius to boot.

Ian said...

I agree that we should have something like Swatch time, but I think we should do it in base 16; the main reason for that being that I think we should be using a base 16 numeral system anyway. but, people are stupid anyway.

Max said...

Ian: I agree, and I thought of that too, but the simple fact of the matter is that it's already hard enough getting people to change habits as it is, and we're more or less stuck with the decimal system. Getting swatch time into wide use would be hard enough.

What we could do is devise a formal definition for a time system without time zones in base 16, with its meridian across Greenwich (preferrably, for simpler conversions). (While we're on it, define a proper calendar, too, because ours is very broken indeed)
and just implement this new calendar and clock as plugins for common computer clock widgets and get the right people to push it upstream.
With the right time system, we can get the whole "nerd" crowd to use this time-system. Or we get Apple to define it in their next OS release. No one questions Apple.

tl;dr: do it right, define a proper calendar and time system (in base 16), and get it into the relevant clock widgets; you'll have all the smart people jumping at it.

You can't change the numeral system right away. You need to build an established alternative piece by piece, and take over slowly. Let's do it.

Ian said...

@Max: agreed. as I said, people are stupid, and, more than anything else, highly inertial. I'd definitely be in favor of revamping everything in the way you said (including our languages, but that's probably never going to happen).

of course, our choice of numeral base would be interesting as well. my first choice is for base 16, but I've heard some compelling arguments for base 12 as well (the main one being that more fractions are nonrepeating). what really annoys me, though (back to the whole inertia thing) is that I've actually heard people argue that base 10 is what the ideal numeral base system looks like, when it's clearly not; their arguments for this are just plain bad.

I agree with your plan of action, though: let's do it.


Max said...

Ian: I know about base 12 being quite beutiful in mathematical terms, but I'm really annoyed at how hard it is (compared to other bases) to convert binary numbers to decimal numbers and vice versa. You don't get that in hexadecimal, but you're stuck with the same problem in base 12. Now, we could just hope that tristate transistors come around fast enough for the two's complement form of binary number representation to become useless, but I don't really see that happening. I also don't see programmers around the world get used to base 12 just because some things are prettier in it. I do however see them getting used to base 16 because hexadecimal <=> octal <=> binary is pretty easy.

How exactly would you reform languages? So far, I've been in favor or spreading English as a global language and forsaking our other current languages, but I see that there's a lot of problems with English not being pretty or ambiguous in many situations.
I see Lojban as an interesting contestor, as it's based on predicate logic and already has a small but closely-knit cult following, but I don't see it come into general use faster than English...

Anonymous said...

Max: how to reform languages? Well, there are about 1 million words in the English language. 26 to the power of 5 is almost 12 million. So if we'd assign each word a unique string of letters, no word need ever be longer than 5 letters. Think of all the terabytes of data we would save. Think of all the trees! Really, current languages are so in-efficient.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of malcontent over your situation in the UK is due to you have not fully coverted to the decimal world. Its even worse in America where they don't even understand decimal on average.
The decimal system gives good abstraction from the digital world and sometimes makes debugging of real number implementations easier and more obvious so It could be argued either way.
My biggest frustration comes from having the word not covert fully to decimal asit is the defacto standard in the Scientific community especially in physics and engineering.....

Max said...

Congratulations, you just made learning a language into a skill that requires only memory, but huge amounts of it. Basically you still want to keep the general structure of a language, to allow inherence of information (intonation, declination, etc.) across words without having to keep huge lookup tables in memory.

Also, I don't live in the UK. I live in Germany, a country that laughs at countries that don't use the decimal measuring system.

Then, your opinion that the decimal number system is more obvious and easier to work with simply stems from the fact it's what you've been working with the decimal system for your whole life. There's literally no reason why we couldn't as a species use the hexadecimal system, or one based on number with base 42.

About the american continent being silly for holding on to that broken system they got there? I wholeheartedly agree.

Anonymous said...

I agree that mostly any arbitrary base system would be adaptable, but my reason for the preference of a base 10 system comes from the reverse of what you imply. I worked in mechanical engineering from the early 90's and we still had numerous issues with the lack of a uniform systems. Given that all systems are adaptable I would suggest that uniformity matters more than the actual base. I would however submit some examples of where one base system wins over another. when using metric micrometers you have a 2.5x better resolution on increments than with imperial micrometers and this is a fact. Also when one takes into account genomics it could be argued that a particular base may be objectively better than another rather than the subjective views we mostly have in relation to our preferences

Anonymous said...

Actallt my frustration comes with having to work with both metric and empirial as they apply to Engineering and physics. You should try working in a machine shop where some drawings are in emperial and some metric. This means that alot of errors occur due to the non uniform measuring system. Therfore in the absence of an objective reason preferencing one particular system, i would suggest uniformity is more important.
Although I can give a good objective reason for using metric in the workshop as it has 2.5x the resolution than does empirial.

Anonymous said...

Max: isn't learning a language a skill that requires a huge amount of memory already? We have to remember each and every word anyway.

Anyway, your and Ian's point about the benefits of introducing base12 or base16 as the standard made me think. My first reaction was: that's insane. But when I thought about it further I realized it's not that different from what Lepht is doing. Radically altering things that have (so far) evolved naturally, using a scientific and quite unsentimental approach. I guess we use the decimal system because we have 10 fingers, but other than that there doesn't appear to be much reason against introducing base12 or 16. Except maybe the huge hassle in adjusting the interfaces for tons and tons of systems and software. Then again, we shouldn't halt progress because it's a "huge hassle" should we? Same goes for language. My suggestion was partly in jest, but on the other hand I'm sure that, using a systematic approach, language could be made way way more efficient and easier to learn.

Still... I kinda like tradition, I like the way languages evolve, and I like being able to count with my fingers ;)

Ian said...

@Max: I agree; all things considered, base 16 is better than base 12. My two primary reasons for this both have to do with binary computing:

a) Easier conversions between base 16 and binary

b) 1/16 has a finite representation in binary (0.0001), while 1/10 and 1/12 don't (0.0001100110011... and 0.0001010101... respectively). Since 1/(base) is the second most-commonly used fraction, this seems rather prudent (have you ever gotten pissed when your computer misrepresents fractions due to this nonterminating representation?).

But, if we could design computers that compute using an arbitrary number of stable states, something like base 12, or even base 30, might be more useful. But, for now, 16 seems like the best option.

Lojban is actually what I had in mind as well, though I do have some criticisms of it. I see the spread of English as helpful, though, since having a universal language, of some kind, would probably help the spread of a language that doesn't, you know, suck. Lojban has a Latin-alphabet representation, so the transition wouldn't be as bad as it could (and once everyone learns that, we can start spreading the Tengwar-alphabet representation :D).

tl;dr: I mostly agree with you. yeah, don't read my summaries, either >.<

@Anon: your calculation is a bit misleading, since there are tons of constraints on what words are acceptable. first, you can't have words with all consonants, or weird consonant-vowel spacings (that alone narrows it down quite a bit). second, I maintain that most words, barring the most common, should have at least two syllables, since otherwise the language would be too sensitive to noisy environments. finally, the words need to make sense with respect to each other; for example, a basketball is a ball you attempt to put in a basket-like ring (incidentally, this is something that Lojban's way of combining words does very well).

also, not all alphabets have, or need to have, 26 letters or a million words (Lojban's alphabet, with 27 letters, is a great start, since it eliminates ambiguity between similar sounds).

I assume that by the decimal system, you mean the SI unit system? yeah, it's retarded that the US and other places don't use it (the Imperial system isn't broken, it's shattered), though with the change of the numeral base, the unit system may need to be reformed as well. wow, we're talking a pretty big overhaul, here.

You should also know that I have a pretty low view of tradition. I don't oppose everything just because we've always done it that way, but a lot of the broken systems we use are based on what we've always used. tradition is to social theory as intuition is to epistemology.

Finally, you can count to sixteen, on one hand. You can combine the two hands to be able to count to 255. So you don't have to lose the ability to count with your fingers.

I'm assuming the same Anonymous posted the last three times; please let me know if this is not the case :-)


Ian said...

Wow, that post is really long; sorry about that, folks :/

Ian said...

@Max: finally, you don't even really need to do hexadecimal <==> octal <==> binary; conversion directly between the two is really easy, since a hexit is equivalent to four bits. If you have a binary number, say 1001110100101, you can break it up into groups of four: 0001 0011 1010 0101 = 13A5 in hexadecimal. Extremely easy conversion, and it gets exponentially easier relative to decimal the more digits you add on.

Anonymous said...

In practice using a decimal based micrometer is a lot easier than a hexadecimal graduated one.... So one does have to consider how us grunts on lathes would handle it..lol

Anonymous said...

Ian: Sorry about the confusion. I'm the anonymous of:
5 November 2011 12:26
6 November 2011 21:27

Anyway. Excellent points you make. I realized my 5-letter max word length was a bit of a ballpark figure. I didn't know about Lojban. Sounds interesting.

I also didn't know about counting to sixteen on your fingers. I still see problems, though. When I stick up three fingers to order 3 beers in a noisy bar, I might get anything between 8 and 11 beers. Actually, that is probably not that big a problem.

Still, I wonder whether we should be more careful not to blindly discard things that have (either culturally or biologically) evolved to the (often less than efficient) way they are now.



Unqualified to speak said...

@Anonymous: you're basically advocating rainbow tables instead of language. (",)
@Max: beware cultural hegemony. Other languages are slightly different ways of thinking, and we sacrifice them at our peril. See, oh, gender theory in a strongly-gendered language (how would a French person refer to Lepht?),or the evidentiality and/or epistemic modality markers built in to lots of languages: what would be the social impact of having to say whether you had direct or indirect evidence for every fact you uttered, and the level of trust you had in that evidence?
Also: Lojban over Esperanto? Please. :-P

Max said...

Heads up: this is gonna be a long one.

What Unq said. Reducing languages down to the minimal amount of data per word will only shatter learning and the evolution of a language (if you have a maximum length of words, it's impossible to allow people to freely create words)

then, about tradition:
I, like Ian, have a very low view of tradition. This might be preaching to the choir, but please let me explain...
The very concept of "tradition" only makes sense as long as it's proven by experiment to be more efficient than what would be used otherwise. Tradition for the sake of tradition should always be avoided. Tradition and adherence to "the way it's always been" is why we're stuck with religion, conversative folks, reversed conventions in electrical engineering (current direction) and IPV4 for now. If "never change a running system" were a good heuristic of what to do, we'd still all be running UNIX 1.0, and we'd all be keeping slaves. It's the same broken logic as "the bible is old, it *must* be worth keeping within our cultural legacy".

I see a potential problem in this not being future-proof. Of course I hope that's going to change within the next 50 years, but so far, people seem to lack the willingness to accept change. Of course, 16 is better than 10, but it'd be shitty if we were to get the world to use base 16, only to regret our choice in 15 years once there's something like tristate/n-state switches becoming usable.
...Tengwar? Please don't go there.
(I'm aware that conversion between hex and binary is extremely simple. Maybe I should have written hex <=> octal <=> binary <=> hex...)

I don't fear cultural hegemony. We're constantly in the process of reinventing ourselves as a species, so I don't think we have to rely on linguistic cues for getting new and refreshing ideas. In the end I believe that the improved communication between people around the world is worth more than the differences in thought patterns derived from using a single language. Those things that are really important will solve themselves. There's still natural evolution of language...

Anonymous said...

Max: well, we have a limited amount of letters, and that hasn't stopped anybody from being creative with language.

I love tradition. I'm currently listening to Little Walter, which is quite traditional. I also like the tradition of saying hi to my colleagues in the morning. But sometimes I play with that tradition by saying something entirely different. That's another cool thing: tradition contrasts nicely with new stuff, and helps to bring it out. Of course there are bad traditions. But there is also new stuff that's pretty crappy.

Anyway, I respect what you're doing but please don't make everything efficient. Leave some decorations. They make things more interesting :)



Lepht said...

Anonymous - fucking lol'd when i read that about my dress code, because i only have that one pair of jeans, that one pair of old kids' skate shoes and a few old vests/sweaters in various colours of monochrome. i look like that all the damn time.

Usul - not a problem, list amended.

re. time argument, fucking do it, make some hacked time system. i'll try and use it even though i can't read analogue clocks.

Jackthetripper - if you can't afford it, i don't ever want to take it from you, and you'll understand that since we've both been there. i'm still alive.

re. UK not fully converting to decimal: er, what? no, last time i looked we had everything in base 10. money, maths, weights and measurements, all decimal/metric. my University uses it in all research/teaching. i actually like decimal because i find it so easy to work with, bearing in mind my near-dyscalculic hatred of maths.

re. America, doesn't it pretty much get through life by holding on to antiquated systems and refusing to change?



Ian said...

@Scrib: you can find out more about Lojban here.

As for the holding up fingers example, there are two ways of solving this. First, you can make holding up fingers mean different things depending on context; when you count on them, use the counting system I told you about, but when you signal someone else, you use the normal finger-counting system. Let's face it; if you need to order more than ten beers at once, you probably have much bigger problems than how to count on your fingers.

Second, we can use the hexadecimal finger-counting for ordering beers, as well; for three beers, hold up one finger and point to the innermost knuckle with one hand; this corresponds to three in that system.

And I don't think we're blindly discarding anything; we're evaluating the pros and cons of different base systems; we've already considered both 12 and 16 as possible replacements, and we're evaluating how they compare to base 10; they both seem superior, in their different ways.

What we are doing is simultaneously applying both social engineering and social experimentation. Rational engineering is not enough, since any plan, no matter how elaborate, will always miss something. This is one of the things that caused the downfall of the Soviet bloc, which made exclusive use of rationally engineering what society shall look like. Practical experimentation, however, also falls short. To see why this is the case, you need only look at the human body, which is the result of experimentation par excellence. Our eyes have blind spots, and dislodge from the optical nerve too easily; our backs were made for walking on all fours and are thus prone to backaches; we have an appendix that can get inflamed; the radius in the arm is incredibly fragile, so that when we fall down we break our arms so easily. I could go on forever; the point is, practical experimentation has to build on what is already given, which may not be so great. Both methods of changing society are thus necessary; besides, how many great achievements can you think of that weren't the result of both engineering and experimentation?

Finally, re: tradition; I have no problem with classical music, which is probably my favorite genres, and is a lot better than, say, pop music. That doesn't destroy my argument against tradition any, though; my argument is not that newer = better, but that "because we've always done this, therefore keep doing this" is not a valid argument.

Max: The only reason this could ever not be future-proof is because people are not future-proof. This is largely what prevents the "experimentation" part of the engineering-experimentation duo I just discussed. No numeral base is perfect, so we have to use the one that suits our current needs the most. Right now, in our world of bistable switches, a base that is a power of two suits our current needs. Your point is noted, though, that our ability to socially experiment is hindered by people themselves.

And yes, tengwar. Scrib was talking about decorations, earlier. Well, the tengwar are just plain beautiful. They're also culture-neutral (unless you count nerd culture), and the orthography is similar to the grammar rules of Lojban.

Ian said...

@L: Re: how the US survives, the answer is by pretending it has wealth it really doesn't, and invading whoever ticks us off. We've had the same constitution for centuries, even though Jefferson is said to have advocated throwing it out every generation or so and starting from scratch. That's in addition to using the stupid Imperial system of units (personally, I just use the SI system even though nobody has the slightest clue what I'm talking about).

As for the universal time system, here's what I've got for a start:

Divide the day into 65,536 (16^4, or 1,0000_16) "beats" (though I'm wary of calling them the same thing). Setting beat zero as solar midnight in Greenwich seems workable enough for me.

Why 16^4, rather than 16^3? Well, one criticism of Swatch time I have is that it's not precise enough; the second is still a useful time scale for us to use. With 16^4 "beats" in a day, however, one "beat" corresponds to 86,400/65,536 ≈ 1.32 seconds, which I think is reasonable. 256 "beats", or a "hectobeat" (using powers of 16, not 10, for the prefixes) might be the new "minute-like" time scale, and 16 "hectobeats" might be the new "hour-like" time scale.

I have no problem using A-F to signify 10-15 in the hexadecimal digits, but hopefully they'll eventually be supplanted with something better (perhaps an extension of the duodecimal tengwar system, or the 4^2 system). For now, however, the number FFFF means that it's one "beat" away from Greenwich solar midnight.

Anyway, that's all I have for now.


Max said...

I'd like to note that by now these answers and threads have gotten so long I have to open a separate window and first fully type my answer in vim before posting it, so I don't have to constantly scroll to and fro.

The limited number of letters has never stopped anyone from inventing interesting words because people don't have to follow rules according to which they are allowed to form words. No one's going to tell you "syzygy" isn't a word because it has too many consecutive consonants. In order to keep the integrity of the language rules, you'd have to create a stale language that can't evolve, which is useless for forming new concepts.

Don't take this as a personal attack, but this is a thing I want to make absolutely clear: This is not the age for us to honor traditions. Traditions are simplifications of decisions so people unable to see the logic behind the behavior could still get the benefits. That may be nice, but the thing about traditions is: if new stuff is crappy, we deem it unworthy of our time and throw it out. With crappy traditions? We keep 'em because they're cute, we don't want the hassle of changing our habits, and because somewhere along the way we picked up the weird knack of regarding "tradition" as a legitimate raison d'ĂȘtre for social conventions. That's why we say things like "thank god", "bless you" (upon witnessing someone sneeze). It's why we shake hands (to show we're not carrying a dagger), and why we clash glasses or jugs together when enjoying a drink with friends (that's supposed to mix the drinks, to make sure no one would dare poison you). Sure, those are small things, but each one is wrong and/or twistedin its own way. Tradition is why we're stuck with the zero being on the right of the nine on the qwerty layout (think about it, it's stupid), still have religious luddites, the pope, and circumcision. It's why we have repression of people based on their gender, sexuality or race. Doing stuff "the way it's always been done" is the best way of making sure your children will be ashamed of you later.

Time argument:
Working on it. Ian's proposal is exactly what I had in mind, although I think there might be some more complex questions. I take it we want to get rid of time zones and daylight savings time (different hemispheres => different seasons, and it's highly debated whether it does anything more than confuse people and fuck with their biorhythms twice a year). I am *extremely* busy with university work at the moment, so I probably won't be taking the time to hack together clock widgets for other window managers any time soon.

Max said...

As for future-proofness, we'll have to see. The 256|256-plan sounds good for now, and we can only hope that human society catches on fast enough to see that changing standards for the better is, well, for the better. All we can do is push people into the right direction.
Count my vote in favor of using [0-9a-f] for the hexadecimal digits. It'll be hard enough getting people to use this system as it is, no need to require unicode support just for writing the time.

I'm against the use of tengwar as an alphabet. One of the strong aspects of lojban is that it uses only ASCII characters, so there's never any broken encoding (as sad as it is, yes this is still an issue in 2011). You *completely* lose that by using tengwar. Then there's readability. I don't know about you, but I find the symbols in this alphabet much easier to tell apart than those of tengwar. This might just be the factor of being used to the symbols though.

As a side note, something that those comments about the US reminded me of that I'd like to know the general opinion of this peer group about. I find it interesting how some people seem to panic at the thought that the western continents will not always be the center of innovation and fancy, shiny new ideas and concepts. Some people are extremely attached to their status as "one of the cool guys west", even some people with the necessary intelligence and education to make sure they'll never be left without job in a country with no future. Why do you think that happens? (The attitude, that is.)
Also, thank you, Ian, for making the world a bit better by using the SI system.

I still don't know what we should do about the calendar. It's clear we're stuck with years, as that's attached to a physical fact. I think we all agree we should get rid of the months, and just use regular numbering without further differentiation. It'll be shorter than our current system anyways, because even if you directly address days, you end up with 3 hexadecimal digits, which is shorter than the minimum of 4 we've got now. I'd be so glad if we could lose the whole "how many days does october have again? Is this a leap year?" thing.

[Note: I've hit the point where my answers are way too long for one comment, hence the split.]

Ian said...

@Max: Every tradition you list is one I've criticized in the past (just last week, my dad had me tip glasses as a toast to an "excellent" concert I'd just done. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the sentiment behind it, but it's just stupid). Although it is fun to watch Ray Comfort cringe at someone saying "thank God" :P

It's not just the layout of QWERTY, but also the fact that we start counting at one, not zero (unless we're programmers). The Babylonians were smarter, and started all the months in their calendars with day zero. Also, the QWERTY layout itself is stupid.

Re. Tengwar: My proposal for using Tengwar is a much more long-term thing than you make it. I completely agree that we'll have to use the Latin alphabet, at least at first. However, I can easily imagine the next generation starting to use them, when encoding stops being an issue. The idea of binding future generations to the problems of today is exactly where our current stupid traditions come from. Also, I don't find the same readability issues with Tengwar. That's probably just me, though.

Why does that attitude happen? Probably two reasons, both of which are related to the fact that we're a tribal species. The first is pride; we apparently like being proud of our side of the world, and as a result are so offended when countries like China overtake us. The second is security; it's much easier to stay in the tribe you're in (even with current technology making it much easier), so you have to hope that yours will continue to be able to adequately provide for you, and to be able to defend against invaders. Why do you think we put up such a tough act, military-wise?

I doubt, by the way, that I'm actually making the world better by using the SI system; if anything, I'm hindering its usage, by associating it with the total nerds. I'm not doing it to spread it, anyway; I'm doing it because I like using it.

Don't worry about the split, by the way; my last comment fell into that category as well. Re. thread getting to long: first, I compose all my comments in a text editor anyway, since I don't trust the host to not delete it. My proposal, though, is we create a blog for this purpose, and move the discussion over there.

Finally, re. time/calendar: it's great to know we both hit on the same rough idea; it's a sign that we're at least in the right ballpark. I noticed a problem with my original proposal, though: a day isn't actually 86,400 seconds, like we were told in elementary school; it's closer to 86,164.1 seconds. This is one of the reasons we're forced to include leap seconds (the other is because of the slowing of the Earth's rotation speed due to tidal forces). If we want to reduce the frequency of leap seconds, we should define an actual solar day to be 65,536 "beats", which makes a "beat" equal to about 1.315 seconds. Not a huge difference on that time scale, but on the scale of a day it makes a huge difference. There are certainly other complex questions to think about, as well, like how to compensate for the overall increase in the length of a day. And yes, time zones = daylight savings time = screw them both.

As for the calendar, that's a lot tougher. On the one hand, I wouldn't necessarily mind a lunisolar calendar, as long as we actually made it lunisolar: make each month 28 days, with an extra day at the end to make it add up to 365. This could also be a good place to add leap years, as well. The idea of directly addressing days works as well, as it would make financial quarters easier to distinguish.

Leap years will probably still be with us, though, since a day and a year don't exactly line up. We can have the luxury of getting picky, and dispensing with that, and with years in general, once we start colonizing other planets.


Ian said...

...and I'm also starting to get to the point where university work is taking a lot of my time, so I agree that we won't be able to hack together a working prototype for a while.

Ben said...

Interesting thoghts on both language and new time mesurement.
I don't want to say too much about both, since I'm really courious what you guys come up with, but there are some points I disagree on and that want to be mentioned..

about the alphabet: why not considering hangul? It was kinda invented 500years ago and is since been "reality tested".

about the time stuff:
- Getting rid of daylight savings and the like: definitely, messes up our biochemistry
- Getting rid of timezones: wouldn't really change anything since you would still need to know the local time in another place if you want to interact. It may be called the same number, but still there will be a difference in what time of an actual day it is and what people usually do at that time. Calling it the same doesn't help there. With timezones however you have the benefit of easier and faster interpretation of a local time, since mid-day is called the same everywhere.
- Getting rid of month/basing the seconds on base 16 etc: I don't see why and would rather base the "human time" on "human facts". Just like a year is based on the earth going around the sun, there are cycles in ourselves as well. we do have builtin clocks, so why not use them as a base? One sleep cycle takes around 1.5 hours, eg. Also there is the monthly cycle (not only for women). I'd like to see those considered in a time system.
(would like to, doesn't mean you guys have to ;P as mentioned before, I'm very curious what you come up with)

Also: veeery interesting points with the numbers. It seemes so natural to use base 10, until you think about it.

Ian said...

@Ben: why base 16? because it provides a time system that's easily converted to and from the computer's internal clock (the one that sets off timers, etc.).

as for human rhythms, I don't agree with some of them. I did say that a constant 28-day month may be prudent, but the problem with that is that you've got an extra day (two if it's a leap year) left over. as for the sleep cycle, google "polyphasic sleep"; people who've switched to other sleep patterns have shorter cycles. which reminds me, I'm planning to adapt to one myself, in a couple of weeks.

re. timezones: yes, but the point of a universal time frame is to be able to coordinate events across the internet. whether or not people keep their local "time zones" is largely irrelevant to the establishment of this time system in general.

is base 10 really that intuitive? I had absolutely no problem whatsoever digesting the idea of switching to a new radix. the decimal system never seemed intuitive to me, at all...


Sheaman said...

I wasnt going to comment - but - 'a "beat" equal to about 1.315' ima remember that shit fa~eva! Phenomenal conversation yall - good read. I will be looking for an update on the time.

Ian said...

@Sheaman: hopefully, once Max and I are less busy with university, we can continue the discussion. as mentioned before, I was thinking of setting up a blog for that purpose, so that we don't have to keep using this extremely long thread.


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