Lemon-Scented Bivouac  

Fatherly and, eventually, teacherly blather. Also: graphic design, baseball, synthetic fabrics, jug band music and, lord help us, the occasional politics.

Friday, January 31, 2003  

But wait: Good quote here from this otherwise shrug-worthy article by Nicholas Negroponte:

In the race to understand what children learn, we are far too enthusiastic about celebrating their successes. What is more fascinating is what children do wrong. Even the concept of “wrong” should get some attention. Though the wind is not made by leaves flapping, as some children guess, the theory is sufficiently profound that it should not be dismissed out of hand. In fact, disassembling erroneous concepts is one of the best ways to find new ideas. The process is akin to debugging a computer program and has almost nothing to do with drill and practice (which is once again becoming a cornerstone of schooling).

  posted by Andy @ 9:44 AM §

"This is exactly how Grandmasters most often lose to computer programs. They get excellent positions and then watch them unravel against near-perfect computer defense...[the computer] seems to know just how close to the edge it can go without falling off. In many of its games against other programs you see its opponents get very positive evaluations only to see them fall slowly as Junior's evaluation proves more accurate."

And now I'm off to muck out the chicken shed.

  posted by Andy @ 9:27 AM §

Thursday, January 30, 2003  

Sorry, folks; these are political times, and I have to post this interview with Kurt Vonnegut to correctly summarize how the world looks to me right now. I know that hanging on the words of Kurt Vonnegut is the sign of a person who is stuck in terribly outmoded, if not quaint, sorts of protest, but if the man is right then he's right.

  posted by Andy @ 10:23 AM §

Wednesday, January 29, 2003  

I really enjoyed this discussion of how computers are changing the notion of the beautiful in chess. I understand that non-chess-fans will probably bog down at the notated game selections, but I think the basic point gets through.

A beautiful move used to be one that defied analysis, yet changed the course of the game with breathtaking simplicity. The story goes that the 19th-century player Paul Morphy played a move so stunning to the crowd and so perfect that they immediately showered the board with roses (which they probably kept in the same place that theatergoers in movie comedies keep their rotten tomatoes, but never mind).

Now two imminent possibilities imperil such moments: 1) some dink used his laptop to see that move coming; and 2) some other dink's mainframe later proves that the opponent of the Beautiful Move had some nasty, brute-ugly but effective way to counter that move. Does either one make the move less beautiful? Maybe. Change has arrived.

By the way, the Kasparov-Deep Blue Jr. matches are turning out to be corkers. Kasparov flattened the machine in the first game by getting it to wander off its book. Then, in the second game, he threw away a good position with a minor error that led to a draw. This is good chess. Robot Wisdom weblog, where I found the above link, is keeping up with all the summaries.

  posted by Andy @ 10:20 PM §

Basichip.com is currently featuring a rare LP of Sidney Poitier reading selections from Plato with a zingy pop-jazz backing. I think you'll enjoy such "songs" as "Contribution of Music and Gymnastics", "Our World is a Cave", and a potentially viable song title, "The Philosopher-King Must Rule".

  posted by Andy @ 10:11 PM §

Monday, January 27, 2003  

I think Swappingtons may be the best damn idea I've heard in a long time. In a nutshell, it's a goods-swapping site: You list what books, CDs or DVDs you don't want anymore, and someone offers to "buy" them with points. If you send them out, you get the points and now you can go shopping. In other words, you can get rid of old books and CDs and movies then go shopping with your points. Here's the full explanation.

It looks good: The DVD page has some vintage Hitchcock, the CDs have the classic Kinks albums. Lots of crap, too, but much better than most garage sales.

One favor: If you sign up, say argybarg referred you; I get points that way. Yeah, it's a little cheesy that way, but no one's making money off it so it isn't a proper pyramid scheme.

  posted by Andy @ 5:29 PM §

Sunday, January 26, 2003  

Amazingly, Chiwi is doing ... fine. She responded to the Lasix, and it has cleared out her lungs enough that her respiratory rate is just about normal and her energy is decent. Someone please explain this to me. Just try. She's been through an apparently mammoth bout of heart failure but she keeps on going.

She's still taking it quiet, just curled up and looking out much of the day. Time will tell what a long-term course of Lasix (and all the other drugs she takes) with do for/to her, but we're in a steady state for now.

Thanks for wanting to know -- she's a well-liked dog.

And now we're off to shop for cribs and breast-pump parts on Super Bowl Sunday.

  posted by Andy @ 2:24 PM §

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