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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Val's LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, September 7th, 2011
3:42 pm
Monday, May 16th, 2011
12:59 pm
I haven't posted in a while, but this is kind of awesome and I want to see some comments.

My mind is racing to try and figure out the effects such a system could have on world economy if it became widely used. But even if it doesn't, this is a really cool technical experiment.


And now the technical details:

- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTOhti7wxXk&NR=1 (after some anarchist anti-government propaganda)
- White paper: http://www.bitcoin.org/sites/default/files/bitcoin.pdf

This link is fun to watch if you have the time. It's a lengthy discussion of this technology on "This Week In Startups":
- http://thisweekin.com/thisweekin-startups/bitcoin-discussion-with-gavin-andresen-and-amir-taaki-on-this-week-in-startups-140/

Monday, January 10th, 2011
4:43 pm
There has been a lot of opinions flying around about WikiLeaks and its founder in the past few months. In situations like this, it can get difficult to separate the signal from the noise, so I was pleased to find this website:

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010
2:08 pm
Word Lens
This is pretty cool:

The app is still very buggy, but I like the idea.
Wednesday, September 15th, 2010
2:38 pm
Matt Bors and his gang return from Afghanistan
I probably mentioned Matt Bors to most of you. He is a political webcomic artist, who recently spent a month travelling through Afghanistan with two of his buddies Ted Rall and Steven Cloud. Their itinerary was quite diverse and they visited both remote and central locations of the country. They traveled w/o any escort, clad in local Afghan clothing with just a translator by their side and tried to blend in as much as possible. Throughout the journey they talked with a lot of locals on a wide range of subjects and documented what they saw and heard with sketches, blog entries and photographs.

I was following their trip through their blogs with much interest, b/c I was always curious about Afghanistan and this was a rare occasion to get some direct information about the place before it passed through political spin filters.

Anyways, they are now safely back in Portland and all 3 of them have already posted a lot material they brought back from their trip. If you are at all curious about the state of affairs in Afghanistan, you will probably find these very cool and educational:


The above post contains links to all of the material by the other two guys as well.
Friday, June 18th, 2010
1:19 pm
Urgent call for canoe trip participants
For reasons I'll explain later, we are missing one person from our canoe trip roster. We have 2 canoes and only 3 people. If you would like to be the 4th, you will be loved and revered for saving our canoe trip.

If you are interested, call or e-mail me now.
1:16 pm
Sea of ignorance
"We live on an island surrounded by a sea of ignorance. As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance."

                                                                                                                          -- John Archibald Wheeler

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010
11:35 am
Israel Geopolitical Intelligence Report
There was a lot of talk recently about Israel carrying out a seemingly uncalled for, brutal attack on a Turkish aid convoy carrying humanitarian supplies to Gaza in international waters. I am no fan of Israel (politically), but the whole thing felt really weird to me. I was glad when I came across the following analysis of the situation, which was in the very least educational:

Friday, April 23rd, 2010
2:59 pm
A rewarding climb
My climb to the roof of the Manitoba Pavilion was highly rewarding :)

The picture is taken from very far away, so it's somewhat blurry.
Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
12:56 pm
This message brought to you by Hitler!
(don't worry about the missing video - just read the subtitles)

12:54 pm
Friday, February 5th, 2010
4:02 pm
Thursday, January 21st, 2010
12:48 pm
If you have not yet seen Avatar I suggest you go see it, while it is still in theaters. Preferably in 3D. It is an unforgettable, fantastic experience, despite the simplistic, black and white approach to storytelling. That doesn't matter. Go see it. NOW.

That's all I wanted to say.
Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009
2:34 pm
The Neuroscience of Screwing Up
This was an interesting read.

Using a bunch of scientists as guinea pigs to figure out the way our brains deal with unexpected data and failure in the discovery process. I have certainly experienced the effects observed in the article many a time and it is good to be reminded to watch out for the trouble your anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex can get you into.


This also reminded me of one of my favorite short stories by John Campbell - "Blindness". In it the protagonist of the story, a brilliant, although ostracized scientist, must get close to the Sun, in order to crack the secret of fusion and forever save humanity from energy starvation. In order to get that close to the Sun, he must first solve the problem of heat dissipation. After years of work he finally comes up with an alloy, whose super awesome properties allow it to turn heat into electricity with some crazy high efficiency. Armed with this heat shield and a few other inventions required to make the journey to the Sun, he blasts off in his spaceship. Eventually, after years of sacrifice and intense labor that destroys his health and takes his eyesight, he comes back to Earth, only to find that humanity has long ago solved the energy crisis using that very same alloy he invented before leaving Earth.

So one moral of the story I see is the importance of peer review :). The main point though, I believe, is that it is sometimes very easy for us to lose perspective of reality in intellectual pursuit. We condition ourselves (and others) to sort through reality based on a specific set of assumptions and theories. You go long enough w/o questioning your starting assumptions, and it will become easy for you to simply not see anything that does not fit within your constructed model. This phenomenon is responsible for a horrendous waste of time in real life research, and in the book it cost the scientist his life.
Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009
12:41 pm
LHC is down again

Check out the amazing footage of the failure captured by two webcams - one in the Underground Experimental Cavern and the other looking out of the window of the 1st Floor of the SCX building that houses the CMS Control room.


:) :)
Monday, November 2nd, 2009
4:54 pm


Although I was much impressed by the overall awesomeness of this xkcd, the diagram for "Primer" naturally caught most of my attention, since I didn't know about that movie.

After doing some research, I found this diagram which makes a real attempt at depicting the time line of "Primer":

I think I'll be watching this movie some time soon. Anyone who would like to join are welcome.
Monday, October 5th, 2009
4:56 pm
New web comic! Rejoyce!
I found another web comic that I seem to enjoy. This one is drawn by Eric Burke, a notorious computer geek. His comic is essentially about work, so a lot of it will be funny only to some people, and some of it will be funny to a lot of people.

12:58 pm
Color Illusion
Wow, that's a really strong color illusion. I had to move the 2 squares together in Gimp to be entirely convinced that my eyes betray me.

Monday, September 14th, 2009
12:31 pm

Finally, fishermen off the northern coast of France have found a large parasitic isopod (a relative of the louse) that has evolved a rather hideous method for survival in its host: it gets into the fish’s mouth and then devours its tongue. It then attaches itself at the back of the fish’s throat where it presumably feeds of whatever the fish normally eats. The really bizarre part is that the fish doesn’t seem to suffer any ill effects other than the loss of its tongue.

Source: http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2009/09/when-nature-is-freakier-than-sci-fi/
Friday, September 4th, 2009
1:36 pm
Chat Bot show down
This comic reminded me of a post I made long ago about Russian CyberLover bots:

In my comment on the article I suggested that it would be fun to point 2 of these at each other and watch them go :).

Looks like something similar has been tried with Alice and Jabberwacky bots. The transcript of the conversation is presented in the article:
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