My Thoughts Exactly

A real-live (OK, real-mechanical) Turing Machine, and a real-live Hoosier locution.

For any of y’all sufficiently ungeekoid so as to not understand why this machine is only the coolest thing in the history of fuckall, first, Welcome to Wetmachine, and how the frack did you end up here? And second, please see this very helpful wikipedia article, which will get you up to speed.

As a special, special, bonus, right about the 4-minute mark into this video the narrator/machine-maker uses a locution (is there a name for it? pls ans) in which the words “to be” are omitted from the object-verb of the verb “to need”, and the naked past participle is used instead, viz, Each loop of the Turing program reads the current cell and uses the transition rules to determine if that cell needs changed. N.B. “needs changed”, not “needs *to be* changed”. About this idiomatic usage, Wiktionary says:

Rarely, with a past participle, as in “Something needs done”, which is synonymous with “Something needs to be done.” Note that many speakers do not find this construction to be acceptable.

Please note that *this* speaker, me, finds this construction perfectly acceptable. My Dear Wife, a native of Evansville, Indiana, uses it, and finds herself unable to change that habit after 30 years of effort to speak more “correctly” since I first pointed it out to her. I just think it’s charming when she speaks Southern-Indiana-style and will be heartbroken if she ever drops this usage.

But I doubt she will. After all, according to this source referenced by Wikipedia,

“ (If you’re a need/want+Ved speaker — ”The garden needs watered“ — you can go for decades without realizing that lots of other people don’t use this construction, ever.)”.

But I’ll bet Alan Turing would have noticed. That guy didn’t miss much. (I nearly said “That guy didn’t miss a trick”, but that would have opened a whole nother can ‘o worms.)

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Jenny Toomey Takes Over At Ford to Replace Becky Lentz — Excellent!

A brief bit of noteworthy good news. The Ford Foundation has hired Future of Music Coalition founder and Executive Director Jenny Toomey to take the place of Becky Lentz as the Program Officer for Ford’s Media and Culture Policy program.

This is absolutely unqualifiedly fantastic news. As you can see from Wikipedia entry, Jenny has had tons of experience as an indie rocker, indie prodcer, movement organizer, and “big vision” umm… visionizer. I’ve worked with Jenny for the last 6-7 years and cannot think of anyone I’d rather have in this spot. Because of her experience, Jenny has the rare combination of understanding what makes effective organizing in the field and what makes things happen in DC. She has put together major presentations that tour the country and break down these complicated issues into something people can understand — and see why it impacts their lives. At the same time, she has testified before Congress some ungodly number of times, talking the policy wonk talk with the best of them. She is unfazed by the industry tactics of obfuscation and intimidation, and knows damn well when they are trying to buy off the public interest for pennies.

So while I am sorry I will no longer bump into Jenny regularly here in Washington policy land, I expect real good things to happen from her going to Ford. Good luck Jenny, and keep rocking the world.

Stay tuned . . . .

Posted in Life In The Sausage Factory, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , | Comments closed

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Blogswarm against Theocracy: I know What I Have To Lose

So here I am, a nice Jewish Boy whose faith provides a critical motivation for media advocacy, and who believes that the Bible has critical lessons to teach us on social justice and effective advocacy, participating in this year’s Blogswarm Against Theorcracy.

Why? Because as a student of history, I know how much I have to lose.

A bit of philosophical musing below . . . .

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Inventing the Future

Caveat Hacktor

I just saw the delightful high-quality site on core computer algorithms Hacker’s Delight. I was startled by the following notice about the corresponding book:

“After the first printing, an errata file was started. The publisher did not incorporate this into the second printing. For the third printing, he made all the corrections known up to that point in time. For the fourth and fifth printings, the publisher subcontracted the production work, and accidentally gave the subcontractor the files for the first printing. The sixth printing corrects all the errors known up to when it was printed (November 2006). Therefore, the best copy to obtain is the sixth printing, and the second best is the third printing.”

Good grief. This is the kind of thing that makes airplanes fall out of the sky — or my bank say “oops.” As an engineer, I have long been aware of how much stuff out there is truly not designed, transcribed, or built correctly, but this little example gives a nice compact summary to my unvoiced horrified sputtering. I wonder if more direct and immediate Internet technology (like Wikipedia and maybe Sophie) will help.

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My Thoughts Exactly

Rosa Barks and Samba M'Bodj

Dear Wife tells me that our veternarian finally came out and told her she was offended by the name of our dog, whom she’s had as a patient for ten years. Our dog’s name is Rosa Barks. She’s a black lab, and her name is obviously an allusion to Rosa Parks the great American patriot and legendary prime mover in the Civil Rights movement. We named our little puppy Rosa Barks twelve years ago, saying, “she’s a very dignified black lady, and she can sit wherever she wants.”

Obviously we knew this name was a little provocative when we chose it. Some people find it offensive. Our vet is sure that Ms. Parks herself would be offended, and perhaps she would be, given her recent lawsuit against the musical group Outkast over their use of her name in a song title.

Rosa Parks is a great hero of me and my wife; in fact, a copy of the very photo of her that adorns the Wikipedia page has also adorned our living room wall for years. But that does not mean I think she’s a god whose name cannot be taken in vain. And I think “Rosa Barks” is a great name for our pet.

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