Monthly Archives: May 2011

oh my god

these are topics that i wouldn’t expect to have to argue again anymore in my life. it almost sounds surreal, and make me sad, but still, from time to time, i am in the situation where i realize how lost some people can be. thankfully these are issues that have little to no effect in their daily lives (how else could it be), so the issues is not that much of a practical problem as it is of philosophical concern. you know, once you don’t have to fight for survival, when your stomach is happy everyday, then is the time when you can do philosophy.

i wish there wasn’t people believing in and needing a religion, but so i wish we weren’t polluting our planet, we weren’t promoting wars in the third world to keep our first world comfy, gender violence didn’t ever happen anymore, or so many other things. sadly, however, we are not there yet. so we still do have people who do believe, and who need to believe, which is a symptom of a much deeper problem or disadjustment. so things will take longer that we wish – we just have to accept it.

anyway, there was this facebook discussion today where, as i said, very surprisingly to me, the matter of god was in topic. after the first shock (wait, are we still discussing this? what kind of reality are these people living in? pity… etc etc), i for once couldn’t resist to drop a line and get a bit involved. i’m not sure this was the proper thing to say, but this is what i anyway shot:

God surely originated as an artifact of our need of causality in our thinking mechanism, and then it got recasted to its current form by the human cultural egoncentrism and self projection.

Which of course isn’t very explicative and clear unless you are already in my state of mind. It does however clearly show a very naive evolutionary explanation to the origins of god (yes, in lowercase, of course), but eh, this was facebook, or a blog, or some other sort of web 2.0 shouting mechanism, so who cares. Anyway, it takes no time to write two or three paragraphs letting my brain explain the above with random sentences, and it costs no money. So here we go:

God surely originated as an artifact of our need of causality in our thinking mechanism, and then it got recasted to its current form by the human cultural egoncentrism and self projection.

In other words, human evolution surely rewarded brains that looked for “reasons” to the events happening all around. Knowing the “why”s let humans predict consequences and anticipate future facts, a very very usefull gift for survival. However nature is in itself decoupled from our interpretation of it, which evolved to be strongly causal, up to the point where some “source mother causes” and primitive “whys” needed to be found. All natural cultures found their own. Some even found the _one single_ primitive cause of all possible events.

Another human brain artifact, and somehow a natural extension of the primitive causality, is “intention”. Once humans, learnt to analyze causes, they could start to predict things and take action based on the expected future. However, they could go further, and start behaving for, the taking decision for, and being active into modifying that future, actively building a future they would want for themselves, which again, promotes survival. Causality allowed humans to control their faith. Therefore, they projected this thought to nature: that primitive cause and explained of the nature surely have to have an intention too, probably a very humanly intention. The “why” (things happen) became “for what” (things happen). And from there to picturing the cause of everything as a human not only involves no difficulty, but it is in fact convenient. How else can one transmit a culture and questions of nature through telling stories humanized ‘why’s – human-like gods. We even gave them names! All cultures did it, it was all so hardwired in the same brains that allowed us survive this long.

All in all, the universe is of course brutally unaware of reasons, laws or causality. However human brain projects its own mechanism into it, in form of gods, religions, physical laws, and other reasoning artifacts. It’s natural to do so, and it’s has been probed to be usfull too. Here we are after all, still alive, and not only that, but even exploring reality far beyond our our own expectations.

rompiendo vasos / breaking glasses

Acabo de romper el quinto vaso, de la media docena que compré hace hace año y medio. Si la media de un vaso cada 3 meses se mantiene, tendré que ir pensando en comprar un nuevo pack para final de este verano.

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I just broke my fifth glass right now, from the half dozen that I bought a year and a half ago. If I keep this rate of one glass every three months, then I better start thinking about buying a new glass pack before the end of this summer.

muy mal

hoy he visto una pareja besándose, y me ha llamado la atención. recuerdo que apenas hace unos meses, cuando llegué por aquí, el hecho de que nadie se besara por la calle era lo que me sorprendía (y entristecía). muy mal, muy mal, no me gusta esto.

6 bits indeed

ah, may 24th, yet another birthday anniversary. as i already anticipated, this is the year i become a “6 bits person”, something i’ve never been yet in my life. changes, changes. well, who cares.

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hm, 24 de mayo, un nuevo cumpleaños. y como ya anticipé, éste es el años en el que paso a ser una “persona de 6 bits”, algo que nunca he sido hasya ahora. caca de vaca. bueno, qué más da.

cg everywhere?

this morning i found this while going by the shop next to my apartment. remarkably similar to the famous computer graphics celebrity, the Stanford bunny!

ooops, i did it again!

doing 5 stops and arriving to San Leonardo before even realizing you are in the wrong BART line? oh yeah, that can totally happen. “beautiful village, btw, but now get you ass off here, change line, and go back to Oakland!!”. lesson of the day: don’t get distracted pretending you can write text messages in french while going to work.

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¿que se te vaya la pinza y llegues a San Leonardo sin darte cuenta de que te has equivocado de línea y que han pasado ya cinco paradas? ahá, te puede pasar perfectamente. fíjate qué pueblo tan mono, pero ahora baja de este jodido vagón y mueve tu culo hacia Oakland moraleja del día: no te distraigas durante el camino al curro intentando hacerte el que puede escribir mensajes de texto en francés.

palabras encontradas

Como dice Leonardo Dantés en su célebre canción, “Nuestro idioma es muy rico” y “muy extenso nuestro vocabulario”. Y de hecho, me acaban de informar de que lo que hay detrás de la rodilla se llama “corva“, y lo que hay detrás del codo “sangradura“. Diccionario en mano, corroboro al menos que efectivamente corva es a rodilla lo que sobaco es a hombro. ¡Interesante!

en busca de dos palabras

siempre me he preguntado si existen palabras para sobaco e ingle, que son lo que hay “detrás del hombro y la cadera”, por qué no existe palabra para lo que hay “detrás del codo y de la rodilla”

cubic pulse

you have never found yourself doing smoothstep(c-w,c,x)-smoothstep(c,c+w,x) in order to isolate features? sure. because of that, and because not everything has to be gaussian in this life, i find it convenient to use a cubicpulse()

float cubicPulse( float c, float w, float x )
{
    x = fabsf(x - c);
    if( x>w ) return 0.0f;
    x /= w;
    return 1.0f - x*x*(3.0f-2.0f*x);
}

a todo trapo en carrito

acabo de ver, mientras caminaba para el trabajo, un pavo a todo trapo montado en un carrito de las compras, to’pa’bajo por hyde street, en medio del tráfico. eh, pero a toda pastilla además, subido al carrito del carrefour. te . lo . juro.

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so, while walking in the streets this morning, i’ve seen a guy on a shopping cart running down Hyde Street at full speed between the cars. i swear i’ve seen it.

what happens after 1 and 2

a natural attenuation is an exponential of a linearly decaying quantity: yellow curve, exp(-x). a gaussian, is an exponential of a quadratically decaying quantity: light green curve, exp(-x²). so, what’s next, in increasing powers?

basically, sort of a sharper and sharper smoothstep(), until you get a step() in the limit.

muy así para algunas cosas, pero luego…

es complicado poner un adjetivo a esta gente en cuanto a sus comportamientos sociales en público. para muchas cosas, son (artificialmente) fríos como los japoneses y sobre todo conservadores y enfermizamente represivos como los musulmanes, pero para otras, aquellas que no tocan tabúes medievales, son increiblemente expontáneos y de una alegría envidiable para los europeos.

hoy, en un autobús en este caso, en el que yo era el único blanco, por cierto, se ha organizado un sarao porque un pavo llevaba un ipod a todo trapo con anciones de los 80, y de pronto los dos tipos que tenia a mi lado, y después la mujer de enfrente, se han puesto a cantar todos juntos. así porque ha surgido, y porque les apetecía, hasta la parada final que nos dejaba en la estación del b.a.r.t.

errrr… wtf?

when i opened the cereal box this morning and put it over the table with its back facing me, i saw something that reminded me that i absolutely must be living in another universe. the combination of the smiley woman, so natural, and specially the sentence “make your kitchen the center of attention” drove me into a virtual flashback to an imaginary world that looked remarkably similar those soap operas that portrait the spain of the 1950s. just that i have the box right there in front of me. very disturbing.

a woman proud of her kitchen? hello, 2011??

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esta mañana, al abrir la caja nueva de cerales, al colocarla sobre la mesa, con su parte posterior hacia mí, y al ver lo que allí había, me acordé una vez más que debo de estar viviendo en otro universo. entre la sonrisa forzada de la mujer de la fotografía, y sobre todo la frase “haz de tu cocina el centro de atención” me trasladaron de pronto, virtualmente, a un mundo imaginario pero curiosamente muy parecido al de esas series/culebrones de televisión que recrean la españa de los años 50. solo que la caja está aquí y ahora, delante mío. muy desconcertante.

matando bichos en la ducha

no hago más que confimar una y otra vez que el relax de una ducha caliente y larga matinal es el mejor cómplice de las buenas ideas y la inspiración. por ejemplo, un bug en el código que el día anterior era imposible de desenmascarar, la mañana siguiente durante la ducha se resuelve por si mísmo sin ningún esfuerzo.

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killing bugs in the shower

i cannot but confirm over and over again that some relax in a how and long shower session in the morning is the best way to get good ideas and bring inspiration to the day. for example, a bug in your code that was impossible to catch the day before, gets fixed automagically without any effort while under the hot massaging water of the shower.

thank you, my friend

i will speak of my bike as she, as this is the way we speak and therefore think about bikes in latin languages.

today is the day i see the iñibike (my bike) for the last time. she has spent one and a half years with me, bringing me here and there from one side to the other of the bay, carrying me uphill all over the slopes of the city, always faithful, humble servant, and colleague for adventures too when needed. today is the day i lock her to a street lamp in the train station. i know i should have not brought her here, but let her rest at Powell with market instead, as usual. but chance, and my own lack of anticipation too, brought us both here together, and forced me to leave her in this dark corner of the city tonight. i lock her knowing that the chances she will be stolen are high, despite she is lame, blind and one arm. and despite this, and all these years of sincere loyalty, i decide to take my bet and play the russian rulette. i tell her bye bye, perhaps i’ll see you again, o perhaps not.

a week later i will go looking for her, and indeed, she will be gone already.

gracias compañera

hoy es el día que veo la iñicleta por última vez. después de un año y medio con ella, llevándome de un lado al otro de la bahía y arreando en las cuestas de la ciudad, siempre fiel servidora, y también compañera de aventuras varias, hoy es el día que la cando en una farola de la estación de trenes. sé que no la debería haber traído aquí, que su sitio estaba en Powell con Market, como siempre, pero la casualidad, y también un poco mi despite, han hecho que tenga que dejarla en esta esquina oscura de la ciudad esta noche. cierro el candado sabiendo que las probabilidades de que algún maleante se la lleve de todas maneras son bastante altas. pero la pobre está coja, tuerta y manca, y llegado este punto, haciendo caso omiso a la fidelidad que me ha demostrado todo este tiempo, decido jugar a la ruleta rusa. me despido de ella, y pienso, tal vez nos volvamos a ver, o tal vez ya no.

una semana después vendré a buscarla, y efectivamente, ya no estará aqui.

paseo

La esquina de Powell con Market está a rebosar de gente que espera para montar en el tranvía, que mira a los bailarines de break-dance, que escapan del predicador pesado, que entran en las tiendas, que salen del metro, que cruzan la calle, que cotillean mientras caminan. Una tarde soleada y calurosa, perfecta para un paseo en compañía antes de volver a la caverna de los algoritmos.

Forever21 está lleno de shorts para el verano, que son efectivamente muy shorts, aunque nunca lo suficiente. Nada mejor que una patatuelas y una botella de agua para el safari. En H&M suelen tener sombreros interesantes, pero esta vez son todos bastante feos. Fail. En Union Square hay una charanga de pueblo tocando su música de boda de pueblo (aquí la llaman country). China Town está repleta de tiendas de gorritos de oso panda y kimonos chulísimos, y carísimos. Cuando anochece y el cielo se pone azul turquesa saturado North Beach se convierte en una ciudad europea: ruido, luces, parejas, risas, olores, terrazas, mesas. También, por qué no, dos helados. En Fisherman’s Warf corre la brisa del mar, y la costumbre es comer salsa de cangrejo y, tal vez, charlar y tirar dos piropos a la alegre y bellísima vendedora.