Some thoughts on "Big Mind", etc. / 2008-02-26


(This is a response to a conversation about the debate about the Big Mind Process. It started as a comment, but it got really long, so I moved it here instead.)

"All that was gas." / 2008-02-20


Alexandre Borovik:

Certainly, concepts of infinity have provoked much 'metaphysical' reflection in terms of our place in the universe, our finitude, our relation to something greater. And it was precisely this that Wittgenstein warned philosophers about. He had a strong mystical streak himself, indicated by his love of Tolstoy, but he thought it completely wrong to approach this dimension through metaphysical commentary on mathematical treatments of the infinite. All that was gas.

Into Great Silence / 2008-02-10

I just finished watching Into Great Silence. It was a Christmas gift, and I had no particular expectations. It's really, really excellent, maybe one of my favorite films now. It seems strange to say it, but I feel like in some ways this is the film that 2001: A Space Odyssey could have been, maybe should have been. And I mean that not just in style and tone, but also in theme, and in the way they're related. It's odd in a way that 2001 would be the thing that I think of after watching this, but having thought of it, it seems true somehow.

What's good today. / 2008-02-06


"(Note: if you are a physicist, your mind is of a different sort. I shall address your psychology on another day.)"

And I love quines almost as much as I love quine-lovers.

Haha! / 2008-02-03



Misc / 2008-01-29


The Human Bell LP and the new Stars of the Lid are both really good. Especially the Stars of the Lid.

Also there's no pleasure greater than revisiting something you never really understood and finding it suddenly blindingly obvious. That's the best feeling in the world.

Parsing permutations again / 2008-01-17

(This is the last of these, I promise.)

In my last post, I described a direct translation of Parsec's permutation parser combinators into Scala. I described one major problem with that approach: the need to provide a fully curried handler function. I suggested that a fix might be possible, and indeed it is. I've produced a new version of these combinators that does not require such a function.

Parsing permutations in Scala / 2008-01-16

A recent thread on the Scala list raises the question of parsing permutations using parser combinators. This is a situation where parser combinators offer a substantial improvement over EBNF. David Pollak proposes a solution, but it suffers from two problems:

  • we are only able to parse permutations where all elements have the same type.
  • the results are returned in input order, rather than declaration order, leaving us to figure out how to distinguish them.

Neither of these is disaster, but I hope it's possible to do better.

Log Lady as "Zen granny", etc. / 2008-01-08

Tags: ,

We got the new Twin Peaks set for Christmas, and so have been going through it at a totally inappropriate pace. The Buddhist themes in the series are both obvious and widely noted, but here's one that was new to me.

The new set includes the Log Lady intros to each episode, which are absolutely fantastic, and it occurs to me that not only is the Log Lady the source of some of the goofiest and best Zennisms in the series, but she actually exemplifies a very particular type.

Scala + Hibernate overview / 2008-01-07

I've gotten a couple of questions about Hibernate and Scala. My last posts weren't really intended as a "gentle introduction" or anything: my goal was to document a difficulty I had with a particular situation. So here's more of an overview.