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Competitive Snorodynamics
leashed un 2019-01-19 1403


Fine, the rest of this story will not contain shouted words, although the use of CamelCase at the start of sentences may be preserved; anyway, it pertains to a multiple-choice exam sat by the author recently, where the primary hindrance presented to the students consisted of FAA-compliant noise. Noting that nobody needed even a single muff, the proctor glanced at my choice of seating.

"You're left-handed?"

I nod, scattering allergens to assure the poison sniffers that the correct ghola had showed up for the Mentat Bowl, and prudently leave my cheating machines concealed yet readily accessible. Another proctor kindly wished me good luck, although the whorls of spacetime conspired me to think of the all-too-recent practice wherein children were forced to conform to seating limitations regardless of neurology. Ah well, we all bleed our age one way or another.

"Good luck!" said just about everyone, whether aloud, to themselves, or just to pretend they hadn't run out of mere politeness (quite the scarce resource).

Eventually, I notice a unital (as opposed to unitary, i.e. dimensional) discrepancy. These buggers are pernicious, especially when the exam purports to pertain to the physical sciences, but in truth does not contain a single SI-qualified value, opting instead for alphabet soup interspersed with "happy particles". I flag down a passing professor.

"You have a question for this one?", he mimes, doubtlessly thinking of the overworked teaching assistant.

"YES, YOU SILLY GOOSE, WHO ELSE?" I shout at nobody in particular, while nodding silently to respect the silence theater quivering at the brink of metastability. He walks over, punts my question at the nearest underspecified constant, and wanders off to give polite hints to less helpful questioners.

I guess it's time for me to eat more rotting fructose, since competitive thermodynamics is an awfully energy-consuming game: time is in finite supply, proportioned according to the Cayley-Hamilton nulleph (if you've got that sphere mapped; if you don't, please do: see Poincare's cut if you've already passed Dedekind). I don't blame that professor for my inevitable failure at this exam, as he'd actually given quite a helpful hint: he could tell I was asking for him to make a public clarification regarding a sloppily-worded question, the correct answer to which was painfully obvious, so he instead reminded me that the Grand Canon controlls how many ells deep drinks the spider.

Teacup - empty; birdseed - messy; orange - too flagrant a juicy snack, and there's still half the alloted time left! What could I possibly do now, other than start to actually work out the silly little calculus exercises? Maybe asking the proctors to unplug the noisy desktop computer fanning itself for no apparent reason, or at the very least tell us which prion it was busy refolding for the good of humanity, although somehow I suspect the answer to that would've been closer to:

Hush, little baby; don't say a word!
... never mind that noise you heard.
It's just the wormholes in your ear,
crawling thru that strength we fear.

At which point, the student to my right gets up, hands in his papers, and moves to leave.

"No! Stay!" quoth an audience member, who had elected to sit the exam undercover, out of true respect for the process.

"Sorry, honey, I've got a plane..." he replies, politely ignoring her "Can't it wait?" as he glides out, better than the most professional of bettors.

At least the desktop had decided to continue cooking its motherboard in silence by the time our friendly noisemaker began running his own fans overhead.

"Three Hues Collide", and a Mellow OOPS
leashed un 2019-01-18 0400

Lying along the shoals of inattentiveness, listening to each phonon (yes, I know how to use that word uncorrectly, too;) surf along the pitch black glideway, way below, I realize I've begun overhearing yet another conversation that never happened.


Three doctors - of philosophy, naturally - are quibbling over which rights to violate when administering the exam, in the hope that one will be sufficiently distrauchted by some best jest that a quick bid for the silverware could be made.

Quoth the theoretician: "First of all, the exam must be as fair as possible; all students who are required to pass the exam, must have an uncorrelated likelihood of passing the exam, and any students who wish to pass the exam, must have an uncorrelated likelihood of passing the exam, and any correlations arising unintentionally must be uncorrelated with each other correlate, in so far as --"

He's been interrupted by now: "That's a load of nonsense. You've written the exam by now, so why don't you tell us what's unfair about it? Noone will be judging you. Why don't you... do it in the code?"

Before he can deliver the correct, coherent, counterpoint, the third one suggests: "Any unfairness unavoidable in the exam should be biased in favor of those students who have attended lectures, in some power per portion of time wasted together."

"WHAT!?" is the inevitable reply, so he continues, explaining exactly what he means: "The exam is unfair, and always will be, so I'd rather at least encourage us to all waste our time together. I don't want academics to devolve into each student spending a semester in a silent sterile cube with a pay-per-view port to some quintessence datahose and a shelf full of dead-tree graffiti painstakingly curated by some long-dead Adlai."

Silence. You could hear a pin drop, land right-way up, and blow up the tire of the next hrududu blundering down the street (and what a fine alarm clock that'd be!).

"Did you just use a student's name as an expletive?", asked the practician of theoretical jurisprudence.

"Yes, because we all know exactly what I meant by that; if you have a problem with what I said, say whatever you want instead, but let me finish my gottanjecture."

What She Taught Me
leashed un 2018-12-19 06:26:08

After one of the department events, opening or closing one semester or another, I joined a circle of students chatting over pizza and beer on the lawn. Not wanting to make uncontextual interruptions, I listened...

"The system here is so unjust!" said one student to the one sitting next to her. "It gives priority to graduate students who accept teaching positions, over those who do other kinds of work, or even don't work at all, preferring to focus on their own research."

"Word", he said, sipping his pizza, biting off the top of a beer bottle, or whatever it is that the males do on your planet.

"This is especially unjust to me, because I can't teach," she continued. I listened a little longer, but we'll skip over the bits that I did when I interrupted:

"Why did you say earlier that you can't teach?"

"Because I can't."

Maybe it had something to do with the part of the conversation over which I skipped, or maybe nobody had ever even offered her a chance to see that she's probably not the only person around who understands whatever she understands however she understands it. I guess her teachers, however faithful they may have been to the blessed curriculum, must have neglected the more important lessons.

I left her talking to the guy with whom she had chemistry; life is too far from equilibrium for useless reactions.

Shock and Awww
leashed un 2018-12-19 01:52:35
   Laughter and tears are both responses to
   frustration  and  exhaustion.  I  myself
   prefer  to laugh,  since  there is  less
   cleaning up to do afterward.
                            - Kilgore Trout

I've led a rather blessed life, so far: I've never had to perform acts of mortal violence against people, nor have I witnessed the salty splashed remains of such action. Ironically enough, those who profess a desire to save lives and heal, are more likely to end up playing the roadside autopsy game, where harm done is measured as correctness of identification rather than reduction of inflammation. But I digress, and nobody cares much about my military service; after all, as I told my lab partner just before the last sunset: "All I ever really did myself was tell other people what to do."

Some people I've known personally over the years are dead by now, as often happens to people after you know them long enough. What's less common, although does occur once you know enough people of the various kinds, is that they die by their own hand. Three times in my life have I encountered the news that yet another doctorate in practical existentialism has been granted, and coincidentally enough, none of these volunteers for an early afterlife deigned to leave behind their dissertation. I don't blame them; after all, annealing such thoughts into human language is messy enough work without the added challenge of not being around to edit the result.

On the one hand, I've already mentioned elsewhere the second instance, and I'm loathe to elaborate upon it, for a variety of reasons. The only one which matters in this case is that that story forms a brief chapter in my long-forgotten upcoming memoir. On the other hand, the third instance is simultaneously too personal, and too impersonal, and too soon, and - although that friend's memorial service just the other day triggered the thought-helix leading to this post - no, I'm not telling that story yet, either. The first instance really shouldn't count, although black humor can be found even in such sanguine remains, so I'll give it a shot - just like the instantiator himself!

One guy who went through basic training together with me was quite the basket case: the kind of dork who literally hits himself after realizing how stupid he's been, without even any bully around to mockingly tell him to stop hitting himself. This poor shmuck had glasses thicker than his own skull, and his skull was quite thick, because he spent most of basic hitting himself, because this poor shmuck just couldn't get anything right. He was the kind of kid who couldn't get through the morning routine without getting toothpaste in the barrel, gun oil on his pants, and boot black on his face. Soldiers are rarely nice people - the average platoon could make a kindergarden playground look like a safer space than the campus of Snowflake University - and we soon had a nickname for this shmuck: we called him Shock.

Shock must've had a good heart, because he volunteered for medic training. Not only did he surprise us all by actually surviving medic training (they do some rather gruesome hazing, if the stories are to be believed, but those are not mine to tell), he also volunteered for the most thankless assignment: yep, Shock went back to that part of the desert where men are turned back into boys again, where the worst of humanity is strained out and molded into rank and file: Shock went to minister to the next crop of drafted children. One day I hear the following brief tale:

"Hey, remember Shock who went to become a medic? We need to find him a new name. One of the kids there shot himself in the shower. Poor old Shock found the remains, and now he's no longer in shock!"

Passing Alien Taught Me Joke
leashed un 2018-12-12 01:02:29
  ONE NOTE SAMBA: Some of the facial recognitions
  in this dreama have  been scrambled, to protect
  the innocent  and leave the guilty  enough rope
  to  figure  out  which way  the  savage  swings
      without    even    reading   Huxley.

It was halfway through meal chat with a barely-recognizable homozygotion between Naked Emperor and The Comedian that I realized the self-important shmuck across the table wasn't exactly watching my six.

"Enschule-digger my shbitte!" I opened with calm loudness, turning towards the moving shadow. "Obwohl meine Deutsch ist nicht also schecht zu keine verstehe, es ist sehr impolite to behead a guest against their knowledge, without even letting them know why; and incidentally, that's not even the respectful arrangement for this kind of execution, if you honor the same codes as I've read."

My would-be assassin, lowering her scimitar-shaped lightblocker, vanished from the dream. She'd played a similar role earlier, and may have been insulted that I hadn't spoken to her much about languages, or too much in the wrong ones, but that didn't matter anymore, for I never saw her again. At this point, the plot quickened, synthesizing Wink Murder, Russian Roulette, and Garbage Contortion in a pathetic parody of how well Tim O'Brien makes war stories true by sheer force of repetition... yet it unfolded somewhat thus:

Once I'd realized my skull was so full of actors that they were about to start killing each other for the sheer joy of cooking, Old Faithful blurted out the escape coordinates: "I've got a joke in the oven and you're not afraid to tell it!" I had some trouble following that impersonal instruction, wondering whether I should just call to tell the MC "the band is just about ready, oh no,", the bassist that the guitarist forgot the chords but will be "countin' the names o' the modes until he's free", or the pianist that he should just show up taking care to bring himself - the self, and nothing but the self - and most importantly, assume the drummer hasn't practiced in a long time, until Old Faithful blurted the escape coordinates again, this time in the right projection:

  Is your band named Bluesic? ...cuz you're the only blues I hear!
Not Dis Quiet
leashed un 2018-12-08 09:19:99

ACHTUNG: While this post is not about noise suppression, I'm gonna skip the bets placed by the bot identifying itself as "Opera" until further notice. (at the very least, because it placed most of 'em twice, and the rest looked like fake pentest flash dispersors!)

One night about a year ago, outside the Tel Aviv Bitcoin emBassy, some fellow was being a loudmouth; in fact, a bunch were, and I, apart of that crowd yet picking it apart as I went, got sick of the noise. Eventually the loudest one of all seemed to bellow asking for a timeout.

"Listen, son," said I, while tapping that guy on the knee. "You oughtta shut up for a while, and listen to what those guys are saying. You might not remember this story exactly thus, but you know the drill."

That sorry shmuck bellowed even louder, and crescendo to boot: "No, no, no, no, no!"

He didn't yell in English either, but you can guess what it sounded like if you've ever heard people talk... much more like an unemployed singer delivering his stage orgasm, than an actor waiting for a job. After he was done yelling, I kept listening:

"Sorry for reacting thus to your grip. I was a school soccer star and I'm not used to having my legs fouled quite so rudely. If you can listen to so many conversations in parallel yet still follow the ball, why don't you go be a sportscaster for something better than a two-bit bucket shop?"

My response arrived, and that actor even delivered a convincing impression of having understood my words: "Son, you're getting carded before you can yell like that again. Can you tell what color card this is?"

He blinked, threw his glasses aside (without stomping them underfoot, as that would have been an excessive hyperbole), and gave the correct answer: "Do you want that information in primary, secondary, or frequency-balanced nuclear spectral densities?"

Believe it or not, I still owe that guy money. I doubt he remembers how much, and the exact sum ain't worth the paper it wasn't inked into, yet the story is true; he claims the debt is owed to a man long dead, so there is much remaining to debate.

In Which Googlebot/2.1 Gambles Like A Child
leashed un 2018-11-28 21:19:20
ccl --eval (mapc 'ql:quickload '(:coleslaw :hunchentoot)) - [2018-11-28 21:13:23] "GET /tag/lies.html HTTP/1.1" 200 6953 "-" "Mozilla/5
.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +" - [2018-11-28 21:13:23] "GET /robots.txt HTTP/1.1" 404 360 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (
compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +" - [2018-11-28 21:13:23] "GET /tag/prose.html HTTP/1.1" 200 9001 "-" "Mozilla/
5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +" - [2018-11-28 21:13:23] "GET /tag/family.html HTTP/1.1" 200 9701 "-" "Mozilla
/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +"
(coleslaw:main "~/blog/")
;Loading #P".../src/quicklisp/local-projects/coleslaw/plugins/sitemap.fx64fsl".
;Loading #P"eee/src/quicklisp/local-projects/coleslaw/plugins/static-pages.fx64
;Loading #P"EEE/src/quicklisp/local-projects/coleslaw/plugins/versioned.fx64fsl
"...; rsync --delete -raz lol/src/quicklisp/local-projects/coleslaw/themes/snid
e/css .
; ln -sfn 1.html index.html
; mv /tmp/coleslaw/ /generated/3752428435
; rm -r /generated/3750221939/
; ln -sfn /generated/3752385548/ /.prev
; ln -sfn /generated/3752428435 /.curr
? - [2018-11-28 21:14:10] "GET / HTTP/1.0" 200 28296 "-" "w3m/0.5.3"
adlai@adlai:~ % grep tags blog/
tags: people, time, truth
Get Off My Lawn!
leashed un 2018-11-28 21:09:32

This one's dedicated - with no regrets and only a drop of respect - to my fellow cadets, whatever kind of field we span.

Someday, I might fence in an area, and exercise some planning over what blooms. I doubt I'd care enough to call it a garden, but there'd be clear selection rules, and eventually, I'd have to put a sign up, warning the literate passersby which way the road goes:

  1. Here there be poppies
  2. If you render latex for opioids, please do it off my property.
  3. If you are misfortunate enough to get shot by a member of the Citizen's Highway Patrol, whether on or off duty, please hire a lawyer.
  4. If you can't afford to hire your own, please be nice to the one you get!

You don't even have to be that honest. They can usually tell.

Lay Belladonda
leashed un 2018-11-28 10:00:32
    "I've been trying to optimize my morning routine."

I sip whatever it was - most likely, ethanol with a dash of
poison  -  and impel  across  the  table  as loudly  as  is
possible to send a silent thought, that sipping a drink and
staring into space is a reasonable substitute for "YES I AM
SAY". Who knew, maybe there'd be something said, by the end
of that next exhalation.

    "You  know, all  that  must happen  between opening  my
eyes, and closing the door from without."

Now that we'd gotten that far, and I've gotten this far from then, it's about time to prune a loop and see whether le sed's got anything to say, se ipse. I know the metaphor doesn't quite compute, but that's part of the point: if the metaphor clicked right into place, there'd be a complete subgraph of indiscreet questions (such as - "Which place? Clicked how loud? and What did it truly mean?"), whereas a dangling metaphor is almost as flexible a nunchuck as a swinging participle. Relax, bruvnator: these are tools for thought, not bullets!

As I often do, I'll avoid those baggage-laden words which only serve mental course obstruction; were you there, you may recognize yourself in the autopsy, but I'll do my best to follow Taraza's last command, here summarized ad exsecutibus: "if you're captured... burn your own heads, shatter them completely. Take the necessary precautions.".

I'll skip the question of why the above was said to me, as opposed to any other of the many heads that listen, talk, and even walk; more interesting are the implications of that technique, where a daily routine is shaved down to essentials, yet - and here I point at some context, so do a favor and fire up some more content-addressable - for what purpose is this one ritual honed, whereas the day's bulk is treated as mere mothballs, necessary stinking fluff that fills the empty spaces whence the vital style flows?

In closing, a lone crumb for none but my own amusement:

    "Sure! I know exactly what you mean. You want a morning
    routine as reflex-driven as the act of blinking itself.
    Where's that approach belong: strategy, tactics, ... ?"
The Name Of The Coin
leashed un 2018-11-03 10:04:36


Naturally, I was in some rather open campus environment: too many people to know many personally, let alone recognize faces at a glance. Sure, sometimes someones seemed familiar, but life's a bitch, innit? Until I recognized... her.

One of the few truths I'll ever label a lie is that in this dream, her identity caused a stale stack resurrection (or perhaps a register collision, if you swing that kind of metaphor) with someone I've not met in a long time; last we spoke, she likely got justly insulted by some connotation of exactly what I said to her about a guy she fucked.

(at this point, the lies resume)

We made eye contact, and I'm quite sure she recognized me back. Maybe she winked, or smiled, or let her eyes linger; but she was in a flock, and such flocks flow. I saw her again a few times in a similar manner and concluded that there must be some performance of a visiting dance troupe, because I remembered her as a skilled dancer from a young age. Maybe I could verify that conclusion, and thus actually talk with her, rather than just smiling at eachother across the void?

Needless to say, such dreams do not collaborate with that other kind of dream. My quest led me to a room full of unrecognizable acquaintances who just got visited by a jolly fat holy man of stereotyped ethnicity. I could tell he was holy because he dressed like a hobo, yet wore an immaculate turban, and because he was there to sell drugs. Naturally, I asked him whether he accepted the only kind of coins I had kicking around as unallocated spending cash, to which he laughed and twinkled out of the story.

No worries! Salesmen don't travel in vain, and the buncha fukken junkies now gladly split the purchased wares among themselves (and everybody got two share). Perennial outgroup member that I am, I wondered aloud as to the kind of flower they had bought, and whether any one of them felt like reselling. Before I even repeated the name of the coin, I realized that it would be in vain: they ignored me in favor of their greedy delight at crumbling that golden brown between their fingers.

My momentary disappointment didn't quite hit rock bottom, though: although I prefer vaporizing active essentials from Cannabis blossoms purchased uncut, the remembrance of hashish's complementary advantage of greater edibility reassured me... as I awoke to the sound of a pigeon alighting at my windowsill.


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