The Meaning of Idleness

I was listening to a podcast recently which focused on the Statute of Labourers 1351 and it kind of boggled my mind. Nobody is more inclined to think the worst of nobility than me, but the fact that what these people thought they needed to focus on in the middle of the Black Death was suppressing wages really says a lot. I was also struck by how venerable the practice of pretending you are concerned about the social ill of “idleness” when you are concerned that you might have to pay someone a reasonable amount for their labor.


The weekend before last, I went to the SF MOMA (Museum of Ongoing Mytho-Cosmological Art), mostly to see the not super-creatively named Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibit, which is about more or less what it says on the tin. The selection was good, but the labeling was heavy-handed and pedantic in a way that was really distracting. 

There were plenty of places where the pieces made the case for themselves, so you had to wonder why they had to belabor it. There were also places where some broad artistic pattern was described as a connection, which undermines points of genuine confluence. Of course, they don’t want you to take pictures, so I don’t have anything with which to flesh these objections out.

Cinema So Dead, It’s Going Back in Time

So I watched (or at least tried to watch) The Hateful Eight recently. It was. . . not very good. It seems to hope that its hyperactivity will keep it from giving up the ghost, but if you are accustomed to QT’s pacing (which, you know. . .), it doesn’t really work and the movie feels pretty clunky. A couple days later in a dangerous fit of pique I decided I’d try to rinse the taste out by watching Pulp Fiction. In retrospect, I really should have known better.

There is a truly great one hour movie hidden in Pulp Fiction, but the remaining running time is bad, and there sure is a lot of it. I know we sort of agreed to forget the part where Quentin talks to Harry K-Tell, the method actor for like a million years, but I’d say the whole Butch story is just as awful. Bruce Willis is actually pretty good (especially with his expressions, which are the highlights of these sections), but Butch is a truly awful person for whom you should not be rooting, and the. . . events are pretty problematically conveyed. I think that even at the tender age of 18 it occurred to me that I was supposed to be endorsing something with which I didn’t feel very comfortable.

On the plus side, I had forgotten about how genuinely funny the now-infamous foot rub conversation was.

And When It Doesn’t The Sun Makes You Feel Worse Anyway

Before we begin: Today in things that sound like movie plots.

It has rained, at least briefly, every day that I’ve been here. It has made for some dramatic skies.

There’s still an hour of daylight to go, but it does seem as if today will break the streak.

Cool vestibule tiles.

Not as cool as a grill-boat, but nothing to sneeze at.

In general, the Dutch speak perfect English, this has not prevented them from getting in on the lucrative t-shirts-with-dumb-English-text-on-them market. On the other hand, I suppose that’s true of Americans as well.

No lie, I saw a guy wearing that exact shirt a block later.

Yeah Yeah

I had planned to be so good. Furthermore, I guess I’d sort of hoped to coast along on the momentum that came with the previously-mentioned promotion, but of course I don’t work that way. Instead, it seemed to cause a bit of a rupture and everything got kind of destructured.


Assorted thoughts:

Pinterest is great. Despite initial reservations, I think I’m getting more out of it than any other internet service these days. After my initial reaction to the information flood my impulse was to stop following everyone to whom I was automatically subscribed when I created my account. Luckily I didn’t do this, and instead starting dropping individual boards in which I was clearly not interested. The result is that I avoid being inundated with crap, but I’m still seeing a lot of things that are very cool that I wouldn’t have found left to myself.

In the olden days that doddering old fools like me only barely remember almost all personal web presences included a substantial link section. People would use these to collect lists of pages that they wanted to keep around, and there was a sort of discovery process whereby you would find someone’s homepage and follow their links, learning about various corners of the web as you went. Traditionally-minded bloggers like Warren Ellis still frequently post entries that are lists of links, but in general this process has moved within the silos of social networking sites. Of course, Pinterest is a social networking site too, but it’s very easy to get stuff into it and (and really, this is the most important thing) one doesn’t have to be logged in to view content.

I’ve been really scattered. I’ve always tended to be this way a bit, but it has accelerated lately. I think. I definitely feel like I am less able than usual to determine what I should be doing next, which often means that I waste time doing nothing. It is also the case that my attention span has been really dismal. I’m not positive what that is about.

The most obvious victim of this has been Markov Garden, which is currently pretty dormant. It is very hard for me to decide what to do about that. Part of me would like to really focus on how I can get organized in such a way that a next step is either obvious or discoverable when I find myself wondering what I ought to do. Part of me thinks that the most important thing is to finish what I’ve started and trying to organize myself more effectively ought to wait until after that has happened. If you hadn’t guessed from the previous paragraph, the outcome of this conflict is always that I don’t do anything worthwhile.

In Which We Reiterate the Location of God

So it’s great to be like, “Hey, I’ve got a great idea for something to hack on” and to just sort of go for it. Furthermore, it’s great to take the opportunity to learn a new approach or language (or, in my case, two), but going great guns at it tends to create problems. In my case (and I think it’s a pretty common one), I ended up only being able to access the component parts of my program through its overarching mechanisms, which is pretty much backwards (this is, as you know, not particular to computer programs). Right after my post last night I figured out that some small aspect of my program wasn’t working the way I wanted to, and that I didn’t have any way to access it. Tonight I did a little decomposing, making my components a little more autonomous, and a little more responsive to prodding. Of course, the problem was a stupid typo, but at least I got to the point where I was able to figure that out with a test instead of staring at the code.

This is from the apology again.

But, having regard to public opinion, assumes the same gods which the city recognizes–the charge is five minae.’ Happy is Evenus, I said before about the conclusion. He characteristically remarks that he has embodied his conception of him, appearing in the aspiration of the state acknowledges, but some other new divinities or spiritual agencies (new or old, he is speaking an untruth. Wherefore, O judges, be of good cheer about death, and that the unexamined life is not so ignorant as to those who agree to

It’s sort of cool when you have something that veers this close to actual semantic content, but it isn’t nearly as fun.

Here Goes

So I took some paternal advice and subclassed something instead of wrapping it, and I also tried (without much success) to get the thing to print a summary of the table of probabilities that is used in generating the random text. At any rate, this used Plato’s Apology as input.

Translator: Benjamin Jowett and not far from death. I am almost ashamed to confess that immediately after my departure punishment far heavier than you are mistaken: a man is able to pay, and not to do anything that might pervert the course of his triumph, when he concludes this part of a kind of voice, first began to come forward in public and advise the state. I will tell you. It is an old man already, and the demigods or spirits are gods, and then I dare say that maintenance in


Okay, so a while ago I posted about my Markov Chain project, and then it sort of fell off the face of the earth. Or at least the blog. I have been banging away at it fairly slowly, but it still feels like it’s a long way off, and that’s sort of self-perpetuating, because if it’s sort of far off anyways it doesn’t make that much sense to forge ahead bravely, which allows the whole thing to continue to stay a long way off. At any rate, I’m sick of it.

Starting tomorrow I’m going to post fragments generated by Markov Garden (that’s what I decided to call the project) up here every day. Hopefully that will induce me to work on the code more steadily, which in turn will reduce the degree to which the whole thing is far off. I guess I’d like to see things tidied up to the point where I can unlock the Bitbucket repo in which I’m keeping the code by next weekend. Wish me luck.