Create a glass that has an ultraviolet blacklight embedded in the base. Beer fluoresces.
Sunday, January 25, 2015
What rhetorical techniques fooled people into not vaccinating? Why were those techniques successful? Where else are similar techniques being used? How can we prevent being fooled by them?
Meta: Why is no one else asking these questions?
My guess is it was appeal to social class, the one thing that famously seems to transcend rationality: "We belong to a social group that eats organic, consumes natural goods, avoids putting chemicals and anything artificial into our bodies. These practices define our identity. (It's more like religion than science.) We condescendingly sneer at those who do not do these practices. Breaking these rules both assaults our identity as well as risks getting ostracized from the social group, a risk whose stakes are as high as can possibly be imagined (or even higher)."
Modify a computer language which uses parenthesis (or brackets or braces) (so pretty much all languages) so that every open parenthesis may optionally be annotated with a name, which must match the annotation of the matching close parenthesis. The goal is not to get lost in a sea of parentheses (especially close parentheses), to be able to see the extent (especially endpoint) of a block without having to, say, position a cursor on the close parenthesis to trigger s-expression highlighting.
Inspired by "endfunction : foo" in SystemVerilog. If this idea is applied to a language without parentheses, it will probably look like SystemVerilog.
Interesting would be to do it for Lisp. It would hopefully complement but might interfere with automatic parenthesis numbering.
Hermione is so much more awesome than Harry Potter because she is a Mary Sue for the author. She's the only one muggle born.
Responding to "In praise of Joanne Rowling’s Hermione Granger series" (Sady Doyle).
Saturday, January 24, 2015
You do something not entirely sure whether it is permitted. Under what conditions will you be forgiven? Under what conditions can you expect to be forgiven? Under what conditions do you expect to be forgiven? What conditions might cause your assumptions be wrong?
Being shielded from downside risk game theoretically has tremendous implications for actions you rationally decide to take, as seen in economics and finance.
It probably depends very strongly the social groups of the wrongdoer and potential forgiver. If you are "one of us" then you are easily forgiven.
In reverse, this mechanism can be used to delineate social boundaries.
Under what conditions is rape and sexual assault quickly forgiven? Under what conditions is it not, heaping punishment on the attacker or shame on the survivor?
Create a tetralogy of films with a classical symphonic structure.
The second film is meditatively slow, with little plot or action, instead evoking feeling.
The third film is light, perhaps a comedy.
The fourth film is packed with action and provides a finale.
The films need not be released in that order: the director can provide instructions after they are all released about in which order to view them.
Friday, January 23, 2015
Create a social networking platform to aid in the gathering, maintenance, and coordination of a cult following. This could be used for good or for evil.
A cult following is different from the symmetric casual connections of Facebook and Linkedin, and also different from the casual following of Twitter.
Two possible definitions: A cult follower is less likely, perhaps highly unlikely, to betray you. A cult follower will follow the leader to an irrational degree. These definitions can be used to develop membership criteria and selection mechanisms.
The platform can aid in, for example, letting followers prove their loyalty and uncover snitches.
Daily affirmation with speech recognition might be one tool.
Distributed system with strong cryptography will likely be important, as cult followings make the status quo uneasy so they will try to break then up.
Perhaps avoid regulation under the protection of religious freedom.
Most forms of social dance percolate up social class structures. (Historically, waltz and its outrageously radical notion of a couple dancing together for an entire song. But waltz or its precursor partnered dance was originally done by peasants perhaps since time immemorial.) Use this effect to delineate and order social classes.
The dance form perhaps gets modified as it percolates up.
Exactly what social and mental processes cause someone of one social class to decide whether a certain dance form is acceptable or unacceptable for their social class? It's probably not a conscious calculation: a person feels "comfortable" or "uncomfortable". How do those processes change as a dance gains acceptance in upper social classes? Why do they change?
Thursday, January 22, 2015
It should be almost trivial to create an alternate version of the game "Hatred" with a rating less than Adults Only (AO): just make the characters look like zombies. Or make them look like chess pieces (pointing out just how much serial killing there is in chess but its violence is accepted without question).
Or, as commentary on the kind of violence that the American public has found politically acceptable to inflict IRL in the War On "Terrorism": make them look like Muslims.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Start with scrolling text in the style of the Star Wars opening crawl perspectively disappearing to point. The shape of the scroll is an isosceles triangle. Shift the triangle to the left by an affine transformation turning it into a right triangle of the same height. Chop the triangle in half horizontally, yielding a trapezoid and a smaller similar triangle. Flip the triangle upside down and paste it to the side of the trapezoid, yielding a rectangle.
This fits an infinite number of lines of text into a rectangular window, suitable for a scrolling terminal. Text gets smaller thus harder to read as it gets older, which is natural. Very old text in the triangle is upside down, very inconvenient but still theoretically readable.
Possibly a useful application for very high pixel density displays.
Draw contours in say, a regular polygon, that closely match the shape of the polygon near the edge but become asymptotically circular near the center.
Morphing and scaling is one route. Laplace equation is another: boundary conditions on the edge and a center point.
Monday, January 19, 2015
A computer chess contest, though involving humans.
1st step: create a computer chess program tuned to play at a certain Elo rating level. Test that the tuning is correct by playing against humans on an internet chess server. During a test, the program is not allowed to use feedback of its wins and losses to change its level of play. This step could be quite difficult as the humans may learn how to beat the computer, especially if it is programmed to make certain kinds of mistakes to keep its rating lower than full strength.
2nd step: Among programs all at the same rating, seek to minimize computational power to play at that rating. A practical way to measure this is to maximize the number of simultaneous games the program (or multiple instances of the program) can play on a standardized computer while maintaining the specified rating.
An artistic contest: compose a decisive chess game in which the winner plays no ugly moves (moves that look like they are computer generated), and the loser plays as few weak moves as possible. (Despite avoiding the appearance of computer generated moves, computers will very likely be used to compose the game.) The loser should mostly play the strongest defense possible except for, say, the one move that caused the loss, and that move also ought not be ugly, a "natural" looking move.
It requires more than a computer playing itself: that will have many "ugly" computer moves.
Sunday, January 18, 2015
If police departments reform so as not to kill racial minorities so much, predict that vigilante death squads will return to accomplish the task of keeping the lower social classes in their place. (Stand Your Ground is but a preview of what's to come.)
Inspired by the Austin Strange Fruit PR firm. The phrase "strange fruit" no longer means anything in current society because we no longer get our hands dirty with lynchings: we've evolved to have our police do it for us. Given current society, it does not seem so wrong if someone wants to take an archaic phrase and assign it new meaning: that's how language evolves.
Red Line Real Estate.
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Took the Android 5.0.2 upgrade to 2012 Nexus 7 tablet, which was running the latest Android 4 and had full disk encryption enabled. After the upgrade, it gave me a message on boot that the disk was encrypted but corrupt so required a factory reset, wiping all data on the tablet. Moral of the story: backup everything you care about before upgrading Android.
Lollipop offers the ability to encrypt the device but does not require setting a PIN or password. I am mystified as to how this could work. Of course, it must be useless if an adversary can access the device and power it on. One can later set a lock screen PIN, and choose an option (an option one can decline!) to require the PIN to decrypt the disk on boot.
If there is no PIN, the disk encryption key must be stored in plaintext somewhere on the device. After setting the PIN, there remains the very difficult problem of securely deleting that plaintext key, made difficult by the peculiarities of Flash based physical storage.