A Time to Kill

February 19th, 2020

I recently finished reading "A Time to Kill", one of the first novels written by John Grisham.

The book begins with a brutal rape of a little girl. Not long thereafter, the girl's father takes matters into his own hands and kills the two rapists. The rest of the book follows the legal battle as the main character, a small-town lawyer, tries to build a defense to get the father off. The first chapter is rather graphic, but the rest of the book is pretty tame.

In the forward of the book, Grisham admits that he based the main character on himself. Grisham was a lawyer before becoming an author, and he gives a very vivid, detailed look into the inner workings of the American criminal justice system that can only be written by one who has experienced these things first hand.

The book is set in rural Mississippi in the 1980's. Racial tensions between the blacks and whites in the American South forms a major theme of the book. Several characters in the book pose the question of whether the defendant would have a different sort of trial if he was black or white. Overall, Grisham shows some charachters with deep-seated racial prejudices, both on the black and white sides, and other characters who work to get past those prejudices, some fighting against there own biases and some fighting against the societal structure that they live in.

Overall, this was an entertaining book. There are some funny characters, some drama, some tension over what the outcome will be, but not too much, you can pretty much guess that the goog guy is going to win from the beginning.

Web Crawler for Finding Commentable Blogs

February 19th, 2020

In response to the idea of a web crawler described by BingoBoingo, I threw together a quick script in Python which follows his specification, I think.

The script loads data from a "churn" file. This should be a list of valid websites, one per line. It then goes through the list, looks for any links, which it adds to the todo list, and saves any sites that it finds a comment box into the "targets" file. I added comments to make the whole thing readable, let me know if there is anything confusing.

http://peterl.xyz/wp-content/uploads/crawler.py

Why am I a Parent?

December 27th, 2019

Me, cleaning up the house: "Ugh, kids are so messy. Why do I even have kids?"

8-year-old: "Well, when you were younger you met Mom and got married and kissed each other a lot and had sex. You have kids because you had sex."

I suppose he is not wrong.

Disneyfication to ruin a good story: Frozen 2

December 13th, 2019

I took my kids to see the new Disney movie, "Frozen 2". Why can't they at least try to come up with a creative name? Just putting a "2" at the end is the most boring possible way of naming a sequel.

If you liked the first "Frozen" then you will probably like this one too. It had the same colorful animation style and great musical numbers, with the downside of the annoying snowman character and plot holes you could drive an iceberg through. The story is set in a "Kingdom" that has a population of about 50 people. And apparently people who have been cut off from civilization for 30 years will still be wearing the same uniform they were last seen in.

Despite the plot holes, this could have been a great story about making sacrifices. Elsa (the queen) sacrifices herself and dies to send a message to her sister, Anna, of how to save everybody. Anna then has to make the hard choice, the only way to save the day will destroy their city and castle; although, this is slightly lessened by the fact that everybody has already evacuated the premises. Elsa then takes her place as the queen of the magical spirits, and Anna has to work together with her former enemies to rebuild the capital. - Oh, wait, this is Disney, so there has to be a way to deus ex machina magically save the day. So Elsa isn't really dead, the love of her sister brings her back, or something? That part didn't make sense to me while I was watching the movie. Anyway, Elsa is totally OK after having been turned into an ice statue, so she hurries instantly back the way that had taken a montaged trek previously in the movie and uses her magic to save the castle. You thought both characters were making hard sacrifices, but it's OK, nothing bad really happens.

So my conclusion is, this was fun to watch but left me a little bit unfulfilled in the end. Now I want to go watch "Star Wars: Rogue One" again so I can see a movie where everybody dies like they are supposed to.

Family Dynamics - The most sexist quiz ever

November 26th, 2019

Take this quiz with your significant other to make sure you are on the same page where family dynamics are concerned, so that you can identify where she needs to improve so that you will be happier together.

Q. How should a woman dress while doing the housework?
A. Heels and Pearls
B. Barefoot

Q. When should a woman have dinner on the table?
A. 5:00 sharp every night
B. Whenever the man comes home at night

Q. How frequently should a couple have sex?
A. Whenever the man asks
B. Every night

Q. After the woman serves dinner, who should wash the dishes?
A. The woman
B. The kids
C. The servants

Q. When a woman has emotional troubles, who should she talk to?
A. Her mom
B. Her girl friends
C. The dog

Q. When a man has emotional troubles, he should:
A. Drink a beer
B. Work out
C. Get laid

Q. If the kids get in trouble at school, a woman should:
A. Take care of it so as not to bother the man
B. Tell the kids "Just wait till your father gets home"

Q. The man needs pants. The woman should:
A. Buy nice pants and keep them ironed for the man
B. Buy care-free pants that don't need ironing

Q. Everybody gets in the car. Who is driving?
A. The man

Q. Everybody sits in front of the TV, what should happen next?
A. The man uses the remote to select the show the man wants
B. The man uses the remote to select the show the woman wants

Post vs Article

November 25th, 2019

Sometimes when people read your writings they see things you take for granted. For example, my previous article begins "In this post ..." which prompted this discusion in #trilema:

mp_en_viaje: peterl & all : would you mind terribly if you referred to your articles, on your blogs, as articles ? it's what they are, i get it, you post them, but calling them "posts" makes about as much sense as calling cars "a drived" and girls "a fucked". you don't go about bars with a "hey, fucked! wanna do shots ?", do you ?
mp_en_viaje: it's bad grammar to begin with, what desophistication is this!
spyked: mp_en_viaje, it's "post"<->"fuck" tho, innit? so "she was a good fuck" is a closer analogy
mp_en_viaje: heh, i guess that's true huh
mp_en_viaje: i dunno, it fucking grates, on the level of wow kiddos saying "rouge" for rogue and midwesterner 15yos saying "scratch" for "itch".
spyked: tbf, I can see the argument. "article" was already there, so adding the "post" slang is somewhat similar to how romanians added the new meaning for "locatie" in the lang. what's wrong with "loc" anyway
diana_coman: http://logs.ossasepia.com/log/trilema/2019-11-05#1949532 - technically it was "a blog post"; going for correctness there, I would even question wtf is "blog" anyway, since I get it, binary log except I don't write in binary, what.
ossabot: Logged on 2019-11-05 04:46:58 mp_en_viaje: peterl & all : would you mind terribly if you referred to your articles, on your blogs, as articles ? it's what they are, i get it, you post them, but calling them "posts" makes about as much sense as calling cars "a drived" and girls "a fucked". you don't go about bars with a "hey, fucked! wanna do shots ?", do you ?
diana_coman: so yeah, it is correct to call them articles and to call the "blog" a book I suppose.
diana_coman: or what, gazette
mp_en_viaje: what's wrong with having a blog fulla articles ?
mp_en_viaje: moreover, what we do has so little in common with what the bleaters call posts... the facebook items are properly called posts. dozen-charactger gibberish.
diana_coman: yes, but "post" there for all its similarity to "to post to the blog" is just as made up, as far as I can see; a blog post, as there is a newspaper article, dunno; and in the vein of "just as much to do with what they are doing otherwise", wouldn't that hold for articles too?
diana_coman: what, those articles they write in the new yorker or the wired or what
mp_en_viaje: seems to me article's exactly what we're doing.
mp_en_viaje: nah, article is a wider word than that. "articles of incorporation" predates the newspaper / tin alley morti di fame trying to steal it.
diana_coman: ah, in that sense; yes, that would be it indeed.
diana_coman: all right, articles it is!
mp_en_viaje: was my thinking
mp_en_viaje: article (n.)
mp_en_viaje: c. 1200, "separate parts of anything written" (such as the statements in the Apostles' Creed, the clauses of a statute or contract), from Old French article (13c.), from Latin articulus "a part, a member," also "a knuckle; the article in grammar," diminutive of artus "a joint," from PIE *ar(ə)-tu-, suffixed form of root *ar- "to fit together."
mp_en_viaje: Meaning "literary composition in a journal, etc." (independent and on a specific topic, but part of a larger work) is first recorded 1712. The older sense is preserved in Articles of War "military regulations" (1716), Articles of Confederation (U.S. history), etc. Extended meaning "piece of property, material thing, commodity" (clothing, etc.) first attested 1796, originally in rogue's cant. Grammatical sense of "word used
mp_en_viaje: attributively, to limit the application of a noun to one individual or set of individuals" is from 1530s, from this sense in Latin articulus, translating Greek arthron.
mp_en_viaje: in any case, the morphological description of the articulation of thought : a pile of articles, and the web of links tieing them together.
diana_coman: yes, that would be quite it (or it should better be it).
PeterL: The way I understand, on a blog (short for web log), a post refers to any item, which could be an article. Most posts are articles, I will try to refer to them as such in the future.
PeterL: But I wouldn't call a picture of my cat an article, even if it is a blog post.1
mircea_popescu: which is the problem : you belong on facebook.
mircea_popescu: intellectually, not yet matured enough to reach past infantile superficiality into adult interesting.
mircea_popescu: becauise i both would and do call a picture of my cat an article. and in my case, it also ~is~ an article.
PeterL: mircea_popescu: that is an article that contains a picture of a cat. My point is that you could post something other than an article.
mircea_popescu: yes, and you're cordially invited to do it on facebook. you could similarily cook using something other than a stove -- such as for instance, an open pit fire. you're cordially invited to do that with your berber brethren, rather than indoors. and so on.
BingoBoingo has thought of a blog post as being like a fence post. A structural piece holding together the larger blog as a whole. The poor labeling argument however does carry more weight than my previously private metaphor.
hanbot wonders what a writ really is, after all.
BingoBoingo: hanbot: A writ seems like something determined important enough that the order was issued to have the matter written into a writ.
mircea_popescu: traditionally, the notation behind legal proceedings.
hanbot: right, but is writ:written::post:posted ? does the act of ordering scrub 'writ' of its grating-ness? or is the seemingly obvious connection between written and writ wholly imagined?
PeterL: perhaps post (something posted) is analagous to toast (something toasted)?
mircea_popescu: i think "despatch" is more in the vein of what happened there.
BingoBoingo: English isn't a consistent enough language for me to want to save the noun "post" on blogs through comparison to other English language constructions.
BingoBoingo: If it's going to be saved by comparison, I'm inclined to favor comparison to physical posts. Fence posts, mile marker posts, "woe unto he that digs into this buried gas pipe" posts, etc
hanbot: lol, it occurs to me...should mp-wp backend change to reflect post --> article?
mircea_popescu: i thought it said "publish"
mircea_popescu: but, yes.
hanbot: left column, "posts", add new, etc.
mircea_popescu: ah, yeah. indeed it should.
hanbot: cool, that oughta cement it.
diana_coman: BingoBoingo: that "physical posts" image makes me think of a sort of haphazard hut-of-a-blog, lolz
BingoBoingo: diana_coman: The process of construction rarely focuses on the aesthetics of process regardless of how much aesthetics factor into the final product.
BingoBoingo: But that is a strong objection because... when is a blog ever finished?
BingoBoingo: Anyways, articles are the future. Noun posts need actual holes dug.
lobbes: I'm sold on 'articles', tho it dun help the cause any that the mp-wp database uses the 'posts' terminology everywhere (posts table, post_id, post_content, etc.)
mircea_popescu: indeed.
mircea_popescu: whatever, now i know i want it fixed.

So I guess the consensus is that a blog is a series of articles which are published. But if you say you posted a blog post to your blog people will understand what you meant, it just doesn't sound as formal.

  1. For example, see http://peterl.xyz/2019/10/meme-of-the-day-by-raelani/ []

Regarding V

October 31st, 2019

In this post I would like to address a few related aspects of v: why v, what is v, where does v come from, and what does v do.

The idea of v, the republican versioning system, transcends any single implementation. It is a whole new paradigm for the development and use of software. The underlying idea of v is to know completely the state of a piece of software, to be able to control all changes to it, and to ultimately know who is putting what changes into it. V allows one to confidently build code, know where it came from, and know it will not change unexpectedly1.

In the past, software development could be done by applying a series of patches to arrive at a final program state. With v, the patch is replaced with the slightly different vpatch, as described below. A collection of related of patches is referred to as a "v tree". A patch that only introduces new files is referred to as a "genesis".

One of the guiding principles behind the use of v is that each and every line should have a person to "blame", it should be obvious who wrote a line and who approved it. You can trace each line in a final document back by locating it in the corresponding vpatch and seeing who signed that vpatch. As Asciilifeform explained in a one line summary of vtronics: "every line has a sworn and cryptoauthenticated author".

The fundamental information provided in a vpatch is the state before the change, the change to the document (usually software code, but this system could be applied to any document), and the state after the change. The big change from old style patches to vpatches is that states are now given as cryptographic hashes2 of the document3 as found and as changed. Each vpatch is cryptographically signed by the author or approver4. Each time v is used it is run against a set of web-of-trust (WOT) identities (gpg keys), and only patches that have been signed by at least one of those identities will be included.

A v program is handy in that it automates a series of steps, but these steps can be done manually: 1. Each patch is verified with its corresponding signature, and the signer is verified to be within the WOT5. 2. The order of patches is determined by comparing "before" and "after" hashes for the files. 3.a. A patch is applied. 3.b. After applying the patch, the state is checked to verify that the patch applied as expected6. Repeat 3.a and 3.b until all patches have been applied.

It is not too hard to come up with a scenario that creates a diverging tree. The obvious way a tree can diverge is if two patches each alter the same file. Since v enforces changes to files based on their hash identity, if the two patches list the same hash as the starting point then only one can be used, as the other would no longer have the same hash-id'ed file to start with. A more subtle branching can also be made, where patches affect different files, and this can be non-dependent or soft-dependent. If two patches make unrelated changes in two different files then they are non-dependent on each other - the patches can be applied in either order. However, there could also be a dependency of one patch on the other. For example, a function could be defined in one file in the first patch, and the function could be called in a separate file in the second patch. In this case the program will build if the first patch is applied, but will not build if only the second patch is applied since the function would be missing its definition. This issue was addressed by adding a "manifest" file, which allows the enforcement of patch ordering over the whole set of files.

Ideally, each vpatch contains the changes of a single item - it should follow the ideal of "fits in head". The changes introduced could affect just one file or every file, but there should be some unifying theme that connects all the changes included.

Other references:
V for Victory
V-tronics 101
A collection of vpatch trees, for example, can be seen at btcbase.org/patches.

  1. Have you ever had a piece of software get "upgraded" and then everything which depends on it no longer works? Very frustrating. []
  2. When v was initially introduced the hash used was SHA-512, this was later changed to Keccak. []
  3. In the pre-v world, it was assumed that each person could have a different version of a file to apply a patch to, and so patch programs were made to be forgiving, and would try to find the best way to apply a patch. There are a number of ways this could go wrong. []
  4. Why would you not use the signature of the author? It is not possible to know everybody, and so the web of trust can help make decisions about who to trust. But maybe the author is too far away from you in this web, or perhaps he is not even in the web, and so you would instead rely on the signature of somebody who you did trust that read the vpatch and gives their signature of approval. In the strictest use of v the only key given to v is your own, and you only build software that you have personally read and signed. []
  5. The WOT here refers to the subset of identities which you have chosen to trust for changing this document, not the WOT as a whole. []
  6. The hash listed in the vpatch must match the hash of the file after the patch was applied. []

Meme of the day by Raelani

October 25th, 2019

Camoflage, like a boss

This meme was created by my daughter Raelani, with the help of our cat, Albus. Assorted detritus were provided by my son Elliott (at least, I think that is his coat and shoes).

Back up again

October 16th, 2019

After a brief downtime due to my hoster having technical difficulties, this blog is back up and running again. Hooray, rejoice and be merry!

Home Economics Likebez

September 16th, 2019

I will start with a quote from the #Trilema Log1:

mircea_popescu: Let's do some practical home economics likbez:

IF the problem is that the currency is shit (which is strictly what "rising rents" means: if rents are rising, THEREFORE the currency is shit. if urine is sweet, THEREFORE diabethes, no iffs or butts about it, these are NOT separable), then owning real estate is a very poor solution: real estate follows the currency secular trend if currency is strong and stays strong, real estate goes up in value, which is how owning land in republican Rome or expansive Venice paid out. If however the currency flags, real estate forthwith moves into emergency monetization role, meaning you want to short it as part of a triple currency play. (Which is why us banks LEND you houses: it's the other part of their international trade where they borrow hard currency.)

That was part 1, as to financials.

IF you are a young man, and are producing more than consuming (if not, please follow the recipe2 for gender re-assignment, you don't belong here), you should save ~in capital goods~ specifically ~of your trade~. That's what you do with every dime you can save: you buy your own tools! to become journeyman! If you're making a living driving a car, you buy CARS. if you're making a living fixing cars, you buy forklifts and power tools. The only 20-something who can reasonably buy real estate is... a pimp. If you're not a fucking pimp, you don't buy real estate in your 20s. and if you are a pimp, you buy in fucking Baltimore, you buy in the blighted downtown of Detroit3 or Philly or whatever the shit. NOT crap in suburbia; and in any case you don't buy crap made ~for you~ by people who ~you do not know~. What the fuck, are you retarded ? if people who you don't know are making things for you, the name for the thing they're making is A TRAP. Either you buy made to order like my serb friends4, or else you buy leftover brownstone nobody else wants, etcetera. what the fuck, this is novel to someone ?! Why, because "do we still have to" read 1700s state of the art textbooks on personal conduct ?

That was part 2, as to journeyman economic conduct.

If you're a young man, YOU DO NOT BUY ILLIQUID, NON-NEGOTIABLE ANYTHING!!!! I don't mean, with money. I mean with anything. You have enough sense to keep your sexual relationships at will rather than get fucking married, fine, but the same applies throughout. Buying "a house" from "the bank" is THE EXACT EQUIVALENT of giving your savings to your dad "to hold on to them for you". what the fuck, are you twelve? Things flow the other way, your aging dad gives you the duchy of Cornwall for you to hold on to for him, what the fuck is this ? and if dad ~dun have~ a duchy of Cornwall large enough to keep you occupied, ~you leave~. and you spit on his head, too, because HE FAILED in life. Because this was his fucking job: by the time the sons he made were old enough to do something useful with his time, he was supposed to have so much fucking land and chattels as to be desperate for loyal hands, and more than happy to "go, take x, hang yourself with it, holy hell finally!" as a young orphan with potential, you keep to negotiable instruments. that's why the young men of Florence who did get to be old men and successful enough as to buy up all the young cunts for gold to all the failures' despair went into trade rather than bureaucracy! NEGOTIABLE. If whatever the fuck it is "you have" can't be ~sold~, on the ~open market~, YOU ARE NOT INTERESTED IN IT. You will be interested, of course, BUT FIVE DECADES HENCE. When you're old. Then the sort of non-negotiable commitment makes sense. Not in your fucking 20s, so spare me with all the "jobs" you can not sell (yes, this is what "working remote" IS, SELLING IT!!!), all the "college degrees" worth 0 on auction, and all the etcetera.

This was part 3, as to commercial aptitude.

There's more, and besideswhich a lot more to all of these foregoing parts, but holy hell... seriously, nobody ever thinks of things or what is the problem here !?

Back in 2005 when I was young and stupid, my wife and I were told that our apartment rent would be going up (I don't remember exactly, but it was somewhere in the 10-15% range). So we decided that we should buy a house, avoiding rising rents was one of the reasons. Another reason being that we would save up some money as equity; the price of houses in the Lansing area had been consistently rising for 20 years, and we wanted to tap in on that wave. We were college students with part-time jobs, but we didn't have any negatives on our credit report, so we somehow qualified for a mortgage. This was a 0% down mortgage, what they do is artificially inflate the price of the house and roll things like closing costs into the amount you are borrowing from the bank. Turns out we bought right at the top of the housing bubble, and five years later when we wanted to move the house was only worth a quarter of what we paid for it. At that point, we would have been much better off if we had just kept renting.

Having had our credit trashed by the housing fiasco, we rented for a while when we moved to Midland. When we bought a house again, we approached it very differently. Instead of looking at it as an investment, we tried to find the best way to maximize our return on our expense. We found a house that we will be comfortable in at least until we retire. We could have gotten a bigger house in a nicer neighborhood according to the "budget" that the real estate agent so helpfully suggested to us, but instead we chose one that fit into our own budget. And now we pay the same amount monthly for our mortgage that we did for our rental, but the house is twice as big5. My point is, in some situations it makes sense to buy a house, but not in every situation.

We also purchased some commercial real estate for my wife's business6. This would go along with Mircea's part two above. Her business involves teaching music lessons, so we have invested in the building and the instruments to make that possible. As they say, you can't get rich making money for somebody else.

  1. I have made some minor edits to change it from IRC format to paragraph format. []
  2. snsabot: Logged on 2018-01-08 12_21_33 btcvixen: Yes it does, as my government id says _Sex_ F_ []
  3. About 2011 I was looking into the real estate market in Detroit, since at that point I was working in the Detroit Suburbs and that would have been a short commute. My impression was that although the house prices were low the taxes are really high, so you don't actually end up saving money in the long run. There is also the matter of schools, Detroit schools are absolutely worthless. But then I got a job in Midland, so I never really finished that line of research. []
  4. snsabot: Logged on 2018-11-25 13:50:17 a111: Logged on 2014-09-10 15:02 mircea_popescu: well yeah. was a bunch o people, they got building permit and proceeded to built like at home. concrete pillars, brick walls etc. []
  5. We had a fourth child since moving to Midland, and now we have teen-agers, so having more space is a good thing. []
  6. Really, it is our business since we are co-owners, but I think of it as her business because she is the one doing most of the work. I give general advice on big decisions, and any light handiwork gets dumped on me, but mostly it is her thing. []