Monthly Archives: October 2012

-40 degrees

while the whole world measures temperature in Celsius degrees, two countries (Belize and the USA, to be precise) still use Fahrenheit degrees. now, there’s one magic temperature at which both Anders Celsius’ and Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit’s followers do agree on their reports. and that’s -40 degrees, the point where both scales intersect.

this reminds me that agreement is a rare thing, and as with most rare things, invaluable. the world certainly needs more of it, in so many important matters (values, politics, rights, environment… do i need to mention them all?). and while perfect agreement is probably unhealthy, i sincerely think we could make a better place of this world by cooling some of our differences down a little bit.

like, to -40 degrees or something.

ten hours

in exactly two weeks from now, i’ll decide to halt my late morning walk in downtown to take a picture of the christmas tree that they will have installed just a few days before in union square, right by the ice skating rink.

the day will be warm and sunny, challenging if not defeating my indissoluble cultural association of christmas with cold and snow. it’s incredible how culture shapes the way we understand things. but rather than feeling bad with regards to my confusion, i’ll rejoice myself in the magic feeling of awkwardness and shock. in order to never forget this delicious feeling, i’ll step down my bicycle, point to the tree and capture the moment in a picture.

in approximatelly two weeks minus ten hours from now, i’ll decide to halt my nightly walk in downtown to take a picture of the christmas tree in union square, today still to be installed.

the night will be warm and colorful. the people will walk in tshirt, looking at the windows, enjoying a coffee in the tables of the square, going to different venues, who knows. it will be a noisy cheerful night for sure, so i’ll be strolling through the square for i’ll have nothing as important to do that night as enjoying this. it will feel so good, so summery. in the rink, people will be ice skating in tshirts, some even in shorts (and i’ll chuckle to my own old saying that a short is never too short). then my gaze will find the chritmas tree, there behind the ice skaters, illuminating the less wintery and christmassy, yet most jubilant and… oh, christmassy night i’ve seen in a long time. suddenly, all the scene in front of my eyes becomes a christmas scene. despite all the missing ingredients and summery setup. the skates, the laughs, the celebration, the joy, even the pleasure of the warm air. and in spite of the fact that i have always known that other people could feel christmas in a different way to mine, i’ll feel it myself that way too for the first time in my life.

so, in exactly two weeks minus ten hours from now, i’ll run to the very same spot where i’ll took a morning picture of the xmas tree in the square, and i’ll shot at the square and the tree once again.

it will be the same tree, but it will all feel so different this time – and not because of the decorative lights.

how many bulbs does it take…

human perception of light is not linear. somebody was putting it this way the other day: when you are in a room and switch one bulb on, the room gets illuminated, but if you switch a second bulb on the room doesn’t get twice as bright – instead, it only goes slightly brighter.

this is a well known fact to the professionals in the world of imaging – the perceived luminosity is not proportional to the energy invested in lighting. instead, it follows a power function of the form y = x^1/2.2. and indeed, tv studios, magazines, computer games and films do compensate their image processes for this non linearity.

this morning i thought again of that two bulb room example while seated in the train. i wandered, once you switch the first bulb on, how many extra bulbs do you need in order to actually make the room feel twice as bright?

the game went like this: the answer is 2 ^ 2.2, which is close enough to 2^2.25 as to be calculated as the double square root of the ninth power of two, 512. this is 4 times the double square root of 2, which i decided to make 1.2, making therefore my estimation 4.8, close to 5 (the real answer, calculator in hand, is 4.6)

so, you need 5 bulbs, or 4 extra bulbs on top of the first one you already had, to get your room twice as bright.

then, i couldn’t think of any other game so i started staring at the people in the car.

i guess i like thinking in twos because i’m a bit geek – bit as in computer bit

awkward

just left the metro station, and i’m walking up the most luminous, crowded and alive street of the city. i carry my bike in my side, i’m letting my eyes wander over the different lights, colors, windows, people and noises. i turn my head as a response to a “that’s a nice bike” that somebody just said to my right. i see he’s a man in a suit. my attention is caught to his glasses while he asks me “is the saddle comfortable?” and while we still keep walking. i observe a batch hanging from his neck while he replies “i mean, does it… hurt?” to my “what do you mean?”. just when passing by the windows of that new store that they opened a few weeks ago, that one that is so white and bright, a “no… why? it’s pretty comfortable… i guess” from my side makes him go on the long story of why saddles hurt him. feels pretty awkward to be talking about this subject with a stranger that i just met in the middle of this crowd of movement, activity and people. this bike of mine really works as a bait for fishing characters.

damn, i’m sure i’m doing something wrong, there must be a better way to subordinate and revert time in sentences in english

democratizing language

i think regulation/formalization of language should be subject to some sort of (not necessarily universal) democratization process, in which the decisions regarding language are taken with the input of the population. particularly, i wish i was allowed to vote the different actions taken in the formalization, and to express my issues and concerns, as well as my proposals for modifications.

if that was the case, i would for example propose the following modification: “exclude the relational antonyms from the definition of antonyms”.

from the three categories of antonyms, the gradable and complementary naturally emerge as a consequence of language itself. their’s is, therefore, a closed definition (closed as in the mathematical concept of closure). however, the idea of relational antonyms feel just too artificial. indeed, according to the wikipedia:

Relational antonyms
A relational antonym is one of a pair of words with opposite meanings, where opposite makes sense only in the context of the relationship between the two meanings. There is no lexical opposite of teacher, but teacher and pupil are opposite within the context of their relationship. This makes them relational antonyms. Other examples include: husband, wife; doctor, patient; predator, prey; teach, learn; servant, master; come, go; parent, child.

this means that, because there’s nos lexical opposite, relational antonyms can be only defined under a given cultural framework, which is outside of language (that’s why it’s not a closed concept). this is the reason these don’t even feel like antonyms. in fact, other languages i know don’t contemplate the existence of relational antonyms (which makes me wonder if my intuitions are not in fact biased…)

besides, there’s another issue – the definition is pretty unnecessary, it serves no purpose. indeed, one can think of defining other sort of antonyms, just for the sake of useless exhaustive formalization (for example, i could invent the term “predicative antonyms” for words that express culturally opposite actions, like “hike” and “watch football”). indeed, this is not language anymore but culture, and second, it help nothing to the study of language.

anyway, taking back the example of the “relational antonyms” with which i feel uncomfortable, there’s clearly a mismatch between the formal language and the way i feel language myself. so, as an everyday user of language, as a human involved with it, that embraces it to communicate, learn, express, enjoy, complain, ask, help, propose and even love, i claim my right to participate in the process and matters that affect language. i want to be involved.

of course, one might argue that formalization of language doesn’t change the use we do of it anyway, and that at the same time the different dialects, slang, societies and cultures that share a common language would never agree in a unique formalization. well, one could probably say very similar things about politics to some (scary) degree. yet, we all participate in them somehow.

in my particular case, i’d tend to vote positive for all initiatives targeted at simplifying the formalization of language and remove all superfluous definitions. i more that once expressed my allergy to over-formalization in this very blog.

confusion

i love it when you write “an intimate night with music, and some good CD” and they are unsure you forgot pluralizing “Compact Disc” or you meant Cross Dressing. confusion is often the source of something good

expiration

another issue is that it seems to me euphemisms have expiration date anyway.

what people consider an euphemism today, it becomes offensive over time for it gets used so much that it simply replaces the original offensive word, and it becomes the de facto way to refer to the concept, loosing any euphemistic value. therefore, a new euphemism needs to be invented, which of course expires after some time as well. this leads potentially to a cascade of euphemisms, which highlights my point that, perhaps, you cannot fix words, cause the problem is not in the words in the first place but in their meaning and the people who use it.

in fact, i was wondering if the existence of the words loo, bathroom, restroom, washroom, water closet, toilet and lavatory has something to do with this obsessive search to elude the unavoidable – naming that one place that every home has where people simply deposit shit. no matter how you call it, you’ll never make it sound “good”, as shit, unavoidable, has to happen.

why euphemisms?

according to the wikipedia, an euphemism is “a generally harmless word, name, or phrase that replaces an offensive or suggestive one”.

well, i don’t understand. words are not offensive to me. people are. their intentions are. meanings are. the words, are not. a replacement for the word only changes the form of the message, but it doesn’t make the content any less offensive.

for example, i can ensure you i don’t feel any less offended by somebody yelling at me “you are a copulating piece of poo” instead of “you are a fucking piece of shit”. the message is equally clear in both cases – the guy doesn’t value me (besides, it’s probably the yelling part that will offend my intelligence the most, not the poo or shit part of it, but that’s a different discussion).

so, still on scatological matters, here i’m in the restroom. i’m not shitting, but peeing. not very interesting, i know, but bear with me. cause the thing here is that there is a metallic sheet with some instructions on how to flush the toilet right in front of me. lengthy as it is this peeing of today, and distracted as i am, i start reading the aforementioned instructions. this one seems to be one those modern toilet, you know, environment aware and all, which has two flushing functions – one that involves the regular amount of water and the other one attempts to safe water by flushing only a fraction of the tank.

this is something i like. i remember when i was a kid and we didn’t have this sort of toilets, what a waste of water indeed. so sure, i do celebrate this dual flushing function. however, what i don’t like that much is the language used in the instructions: “flush up for liquid waste, flush down for solid waste”. i know you see it coming. i immediately go like “wait a minute… solid waste? what, you kidding me? you mean shit. or crap, or poop, or caca, or excrement“. indeed, as if they weren’t words for “shit”. why the deliberate use of “solid waste”, which it’s too generic and of course not any precise? however, this is the game – it does actually get very concrete when read in this context, in a toilet. furthermore, it only gets concrete and adquieres a meaning when you visualize it. otherwise you wouldn’t know what they are trying to tell you. indeed, you totally know what they mean, probably in a very graphical way. so…

…so, why the use of an euphemism at all? it’s not like if i read “shit” i imagine the brown natural piece of art that you sculpt and deliver in toilets, ie, the turd, while if i read “solid waste” i don’t visualize it like that but like in beautiful white blocks or bricks coming out of my ass with a pink ribbon instead. nah, of course not, c’mon. “solid waste” is still very graphical, and it brings exactly the same picture to my mind that defecation does. they both make me feel uneasy equally. because the offensive part here is in the meaning and the context on which the word or the replacement euphemism has been used, not the etymology or phonetics of the word. of course! a brownie is a brownie, no matter how you name it. see?

i take a break to note that i’m consciously simplifying here and removing the human and cultural factor out of the equation. but i’m doing it cause this is the point i want to make (i’m starting to underscore the points i want to make in my writings, cause it seems they are often not clear).

so, basically, i’m sorry to say that since i am pretty culturally and socially retarded, or autistic, or something, when i read “solid waste” i can only think of a shinny brown turd. no happy rainbow poop bricks for me. meaning, no euphemisms for me thanks. they just don’t help.

so, instead of “flush down for solid waste”, i totally vote for “flush down for turds”. concise, powerful and unforgettable – nobody will forget to pull the handle in the right direction.

big strokes

a bit more mathematical doodling. i tried to keep the shapes as close as possible to simple formulas/mathematical shapes rather than striving for realism or complexity. therefore, fruits are only slightly pinched spheres (pinched as in a local cubic domain deformation). the rest of the shapes are planes with some cubic or trigonometric deformation. the lighting source pattern is a sinus function. textures are four octaves of cubic noise, and are also intentionally kept simplistic (although in retrospective, the water melon is far too detailed and breaks the mood of the image). i reused a couple of elements from some old work, but basically both the rendering system and the formula for the image itself were written in a single long evening session of jam/improvising live coding.

i really like it when you give yourself a short deadline and you have to only “indicate” things more than work on their details. it’s like doodling in that you improvise and don’t know where the picture is going, but it is different in that you are not allowed to loose yourself into detail, but only work on the coarse brush strokes that make the big picture.


the image itself plus the code needed to generate, all together, fit in 3 kilobytes, if you wonder. will probably go online at some point, in some form or another

tali-vegans

so, i don’t wear sport tights nor i do carry a yoga mat in my gym bag. also, i don’t wear thick glasses and a mustache nor i’m holding a book on french poetry. lastly, my headphones are black, not white. that must be the reason i don’t find any real good stuff in this freaking organic sanctuary (i’ll not use the word “supermakert”, cause this is not one for it doesn’t comply with the definition, particularly with the “super” part of it).

i hate this place. especially when i’m hungry. sight.

thoughs on chromaticity

speaking of humans, there’s this idea that always intrigued me – could it be that every person perceives colors differently?

imagine that was the case. how would we even detect this fact?

when you communicate a color, there’s no way to express it other than by its… color! you might think that we could describe how a color feels by indirect qualities. but most of these other qualities are cultural (red passion and violence, pink girly, etc), or they are result of associating the experience of objects of that color to other qualities of those objects, pretty much like the way artists call orange, red and yellow “warm” colors (after fire obviously), and blue and green “cool” colors (after water).

so say the yellow color was detected as “blue” by my brain. then the sun would look “blue” to me, yet i would live all my life seeing blue objects, like fire and the sun, and calling them “yellow”, for that’s the official word we all agreed on for the color objects like the sun and the fire carry. yet, i’d bee seeing the object blue. and you might be seeing it pink, and might have naturally assigned the word “yellow” for pink objects in your vocabulary.

so, how do we know we don’t all see colors differently? do we actually know it? any neuroscientist in the room please?

i knew it!

it seems my nerd friend has little to do at work today, so he passes me this quote from the omniscient internet: “One sperm cell contains about 37.5 Megabytes of DNA – so a normal ejaculation transfers about 1,587 Gigabytes of data in 3 seconds”.

there are two amazing facts going on here.

first, that’s the bandwidth of a modern HDMI 1.3 device, released for the first time only as recently as in 2006. impressive.

second, all it takes to make a human is 75 Megabytes? that means there definitely are some pretty heavily procedural algorithms going on in nature. or in other words, that the nature of a human is a lot more of a process/algorithm than it is about information or design. well, now that i think about it this way, we knew this already, not surprising.

too many keys

a turk can eat a turkey
a monk can eat a monkey

but who can eat a donkey??

there is no such a thing as a “donk” in english. the language is not complete. but that’s ok. or should i say, “okey”

shurtcuts?

it is unavoidable to introduce this bug every other time you implement a bilinear interpolator:

// r = bilinear( a, b, c, d, u, v )
p = a + (b-a)*u;
q = c + (d-c)*u;
r = p + (q-p)*u;

unless you are not into ctrl+c+ctrl+v, in which case, good for you!

every single tile

it has been raining all night and early morning. i remember listening to it before i fell asleep, and i don’t remember hearing but i’d swear being able to feel the rain while sleeping too, a constant song inviting me to sleep deep and enjoy as if somebody was watching out and taking care of me. it was also raining when i first opened my eyes again, i remember its sound was the first thing i sensed during those weird five seconds that happen before you actually open them, when you are neither still asleep nor awake yet.

i love the sound of rain. it brings memories. and also, it lightens the thick air with freshness. some days, the rain and the sun agree to collaborate and make a beautiful day together. when the rain is done with its job, the sun takes over. then, the beautiful city which has just awaken too like me, and taken its shower like me too, yawns and lets the sun dry its streets, buildings, shops, lights and gardens. soon enough people take over the streets after a period of shelter, just like grateful snails invited by the warm and luminous rays of sun.

i decide to take the longest and less explored route to work i can, be a snail myself and walk slow, tile by tile, and worship the sun, the rain and the city on my way. it just feels too good, so no rush. some will be wet, some will be dry, but i’ll step on every single tile today.