Monthly Archives: March 2004

Good news, bad news

I've been trying to work on an image update all afternoon and my laptop keeps crashing. It goes slower and slower and then bluescreens. I'm not sure what's up and honestly I don't care what's up right now. Thankfully because of the BME maintenance software's design, it was really easy to just devolve to my old desktop (and in the process of doing so I figured out the things I need to do to perfect the process). Because it's built around external hardware now, it was almost as easy as unplugging from one CPU-box and plugging into the next.

I was going to go to the carnival tonight, but we don't have a baby sitter (so I'd have to ditch Rachel to go) and she brought me a whack of yummy food. Priorities!

Other than that I had some conversations about the Todd Bertrang case with people a bit closer to the facts. The more I learn about this, the more I get angry about them basically framing Todd for a crime that never happened and doing everything they could — including dangling $20,000,000 in front of his nose as an incentive — to make him even consider talking to them.

I know a lot of you don't like Todd because of his sexuality. Some of your might even believe that he's a sexual predator. But even if that's true, the simple fact of the matter is that Todd is not guilty of this crime. This really is a witchhunt, and if they win this the way they're trying to win it, it won't end with Todd. I think a lot of us thought that it might be limited to him but I'm no longer convinced of that.

He's committed no crime and there is no evidence against him and there are no victims. But still, he's in prison — being denied bail no less — and his assets are being seized and liquidated against his will. They've added patently false “child porn” charges (which I know the details of and can personally vouch for being total BS), which has meant that no lawyer will touch him without a major retainer, and all his old friends are staying away. Oh, and he's being denied a public defender (although they've given his girlfriend a public defender who's done nothing but try and trick her into giving “evidence” against Todd)…

In any case, it's incredibly messed up and — no matter what you may think of Todd — fundamentally unjust. If you think you can help, drop Connect a line, as she's probably the best contact for Todd on IAM right now.


This last column has generated more positive feedback than anything I've ever written. Thank you so much to everyone who's written me about it, it was really wonderful to get such a nice response.

The photo above is from La Negra's page from her recent vacation.

I was really disillusioned about it for some time, but I've been getting inspired again lately about Project Drop Out, Tune In… Some things financially have gone alright for me, and I really think that raising the capital for aquiring a large piece of ranchland is possible… Think what we could do with 200,000 acres.

The question I suppose is exactly how many people would be interested in getting involved… Would you spend $2,500 for a 50 acre parcel of private land with fresh running water, and with access to a 100,000 acres of shared land? That's sort of the set up I'm thinking about. I have zero interest in a commune. I'm too much of a sociopath for that. But I have a lot of interest in a community where people live free and independent, but support their neighbors.

The tentative plan right now is to do a whirlwind South American tour within the next months (my business partner is down there right now on related work), and then probably get a nice place in Buenos Aires for a year when our lease here expires. That would give us time to do the visas and everything legit (and get my Spanish solid)… And even if it doesn't pan out, it'll cost us less money to live in Buenos Aires for a year than living in Toronto, even factoring in travel.

Tattoo entry

Below is a (really bad taken-in-the-mirror) picture of some of the work I had done yesterday; filling on the top section. The blue background is roughly what will be there in the end but isn't actually there yet. The unfilled circles above the mouth/gateway are going to be eyes as well. Most of what you're seeing here is about six years old and needs to be hit again to make it perfect…

A litmus test for sanity evolution

I got tattooed this afternoon. A good experience as always. We capped off my shoulder with a sort of mystic circus tent thing that I may post a quick pick of tomorrow, and did some chatting about an enormous new project… My cute little heartbreaker (I wanna take you home) gave me a ride there because I was running late, but I took transit back. I genuinely enjoy taking transit, especially during rush hours. But let me rewind twenty or so years first.

When I was a kid I had three or four recurring dreams/nightmares, which also reflected themselves in my waking life in terms of my belief structures and how I interacted with the world around me. One of the underlying themes of one of the recurring dream was surveillance — the knowledge that I was always being watched. As a child, I called these beings just “the watchers” (ooh, creative). I don't know where they were supposed to live; the vision's cosmology was not revealed to me other than the notion that water played a role in the gateway to their “universe” (or wherever they were from) — both the lake in front of my house and a local swimming pool acted as gateways in my dreams.

Anyway, their “job” was just to watch people. I suppose it's a reflection on my own narcissism that I'd conjure something like that up (ie. I'm so special that magical beings come and watch me, ha!). In any case, the idea of watching people I guess stuck on me, so I do that… I really like watching people think and listening to what they're feeling, not so much in a “fun” sense, but more in a “that's fascinating” sense, like birdwatching or something. So to get back to my story, I'm sitting on the subway and a fairly tall attractive girl sits down across from me. I was more watching three old women (unrelated) who I'm pretty sure were reptilian beings, but I decided to explore this new person for a while instead.

It was strange because as the ride continued (she stayed on for about five or six subway stops I think) she just kept getting sadder and sadder. Some people get upset when you listen to them, but I don't think this was anything like that. But wow, talk about emotional pain, it was very very sad. I never quite know what to do in a situation like that — I don't think it's appropriate to say anything, I mean, what sort of insane-sounding come-on would that be like, “hey, I was just listening to your emotions and I wanted to let you know that it's ok, you'll be alright, and you really need to stop beating yourself up over this stuff“?

Yeah, way to get hit with the pepper spray and then sent to the loony bin.

In any case, when they got off the subway I realized it was an ex that I didn't recognize until then (so perhaps this story is more about what a callous ass I am). Of course, part of me thinks I superimposed the “recognition” afterwards, but we're all part of a giant biological communications mesh network, so perhaps it's irrelevant. While some would argue that it's a good reason not to let men write stories involving women, I really believe the Lucifer's claim to Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ that “all women are the same woman, just with different faces.” But to be clear, I believe that about men as well.

I don't think I'm unique in this idea. I also want to be real clear that I think supernatural explanations are bunk. Nothing I believe about the universe requires a supernatural explanation in my opinion, and if it does then it's probably a flawed notion. But imagine if people are web servers, and the energy that connects us all are data conduits (and you can have ley lines be the internet backbones if you want). Thus once someone is “online”, you can use any point on the net to talk to them.

The question is, are you online?

PS. My grandmother just died (age 86; a long life of boozing and smoking kept her alive so long). I hadn't seen her in 10 years, but from what I know it was probably a good thing on the whole. Still, it's too bad people don't live longer.

"I'm" on Slashdot

Pointless trivia entry, really.

Anyway, that's the source of my name if you didn't know… Making it somewhat ironic that I ended up as a telecommunications specialist! Dunno what I'm talking about? Here's an excerpt:

In 1948, Claude Shannon, then a young engineer working at Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J., published a landmark paper titled "A Mathematical Theory of Communication."

In that paper, Shannon defined what the once fuzzy concept of "information" meant for communications engineers and proposed a precise way to quantify it: in his theory, the fundamental unit of information is the bit.

Shannon showed that every communications channel has a maximum rate for reliable data transmission, which he called the channel capacity, measured in bits per second. He demonstrated that by using certain coding schemes, you could transmit data up to the channel's full capacity, virtually free of errorsan astonishing result that surprised engineers at the time.

From space probes to cellphones and CD players, Shannon's ideas are invisibly embedded in the digital technologies that make our lives more interesting and comfortable. A tinkerer, juggling enthusiast, and exceptional chess player, Shannon was also famous for riding the halls of Bell Labs on a unicycle. He died on 24 February 2001, at age 84, after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Anyway, I know I've mentioned him here before, but he's an interesting character. Along those lines, seven years before I was born my father wrote a book called Temporal Sampling of Signals with Band-Limited Spectrum based in part on Shannon's work on communication in the presence of noise…