Ashley's Journal

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

01:37 On Being A Nietzschean Pagan religion

Alain de Benoist, Comment peut-on être païen? (1981)
English translation On Being A Pagan (2004)

The book was written in 1981, but only published in English in 2004, and a number of Anglophone reviewers on Amazon and in blogs have complained about the proportion devoted to discussing the Judeo-Christian tradition (about 80%) rather than paganism. This is surely a reflection of the state of affairs at the time: the neo-pagan revival was pretty obscure, so perhaps those with pagan-ish inclinations, those more likely to be interested in the book, would be more likely to be then struggling with a surrounding Christian culture.

( Follow the fake cut... )

Comment here or there.

(1 Comment — Comment)

Friday, May 11th, 2012

19:40 Poly Marriage

Marriage is more than just a relationship, specifically, it has government recognition, with implications for property and responsibility for children. Currently there is no polyamorous marriage in the United States. None of the states recognise it, and to attempt it is to commit the felony of polygamy. (Ironically, deceptive bigamy is a mere misdemeanor.)

Should the law be changed to recognise polyamorous marriage? If so, would such marriage be transitive?

(4 Comments — Comment)

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

18:03 Poly Marriage

How's this poly marriage thing supposed to work, anyway? Is it transitive? If A & B are married, and B & C are married, does that mean A & C are married?

(9 Comments — Comment)

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

14:21 R.I.P. Václav Havel politics

That's him in the pic.


Saturday, October 15th, 2011

16:18 Happy Birthday cynew!

This song reminds me of you (because of roses and China).


Sunday, July 31st, 2011

20:14 Finite Types maths, software

So if a type has a finite number of values, it's possible to make it an instance of this type, which you can find in my countable package:

class (Eq a) => Finite a where
    allValues :: [a];
    assemble :: (Applicative f) => (a -> f r) -> f (a -> r);

I hope allValues is straightforward. But assemble is more interesting. The basic idea is that if a is finite, then (a -> r) is a finite number of rs. For example, (Bool -> r) is a pair of rs, i.e. it's isomorphic to (r,r). So assemble is just a generalisation of these:

assemble2 :: (Applicative f) => (f r,f r) -> f (r,r);
assemble3 :: (Applicative f) => (f r,f r,f r) -> f (r,r,r);

Now it is possible to generate assemble from allValues, and I have that as the default implementation in the Finite class. But it's slow and ugly, so where feasible I try to write them by hand. Here are some examples (of course relying on (Finite a,Finite b)):

assemble afb = liftA2 (\f t x -> if x then t else f) (afb False) (afb True);                 // Bool
assemble eabfr = liftA2 either (assemble (eabfr . Left)) (assemble (eabfr . Right));         // Either a b
assemble abfr = fmap (\abr (a,b) -> abr a b) (assemble (\a -> assemble (\b -> abfr (a,b)))); // (a,b)

I've spent much of this weekend trying to write one for (a -> b). I finally figured it out, and it involves this type:

data Exp a b f r = Closed (f r) | Open a (Exp a b f (b -> r));
runExp :: (Functor f) => Exp a b f r -> f ((a -> b) -> r);

The type can be made an instance of Applicative, and runExp pulls out what you need. Once you work in that, everything falls out. I think. I mean, it compiles, so it must be correct... But the odd thing is, I've written this type before, to represent lambda-expressions for a Scheme interpreter:

data SymbolLambdaFunctorExpression sym val f a = Closed (f a) |
    Open sym (SymbolLambdaFunctorExpression sym val f (val -> a));

Very odd. I'm not sure what the connection is, though the equivalent of runExp would evaluate an expression using a symbol-table.


Thursday, March 31st, 2011


Happy Birthday hesperide!


Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

15:31 Tenno Heika Banzai! politics


Saturday, January 1st, 2011

00:23 2011

Happy New Hieratic Decade!


Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

22:16 Happy Birthday hydrolagus!

(1 Comment — Comment)

Friday, October 15th, 2010

14:07 Happy Birthday cynew!

also, AoshimaCollapse )

(1 Comment — Comment)

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

23:54 ZFC+ mathematics

I've come up with two extensions to Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory with the axiom of choice.

ZFCG, in which God exists, and ZFC¬G, in which God does not.


Friday, August 6th, 2010


Has anyone invented a lower case for Hebrew, or an upper case for Arabic?

(4 Comments — Comment)

Saturday, July 17th, 2010


Happy Birthday ssatva!

(1 Comment — Comment)

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

00:25 Happy Birthday Canada! politics

I love you! From a distance.


Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

20:03 Arch Linux software

I installed Arch Linux in a virtual machine, out of curiosity. I think it's for folks who like to tinker with, rather than use, computers. Linux for FreeBSD people, perhaps.

(1 Comment — Comment)

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010


Happy Birthday hesperide!

(1 Comment — Comment)

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

23:17 Books Site? books

Anyone on LibraryThing, Goodreads, Shelfari etc.?

(1 Comment — Comment)

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

19:19 Happy Equinox nature, religion

The sun has crossed the equator into the northern hemisphere.

(1 Comment — Comment)

Thursday, March 11th, 2010


Happy Birthday vamp11!

(1 Comment — Comment)

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

01:44 Guess the Songs music

  1. "Hey there Mister Blue, we're so pleased to be with you." —Electric Light Orchestra, Mr. Blue Sky, guessed by lefwyn
  2. "The girl's insane not to love you."
  3. "No matter, even it seems strange, you must keep it for when we enter back in to the illusionary material world."
  4. "But it doesn't matter 'cause I'm packing plastic, and that's what makes my life so fucking fantastic."
  5. "Dad, there are hurdles here, that I cannot seem to clear."
  6. "I know when to go out. I know when to stay in - get things done."
  7. "And a bumper sticker that says 'No Other Possibility'"
  8. "Water dissolving, and water removing." —Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime, guessed by hydrolagus
  9. "...where we fight our parents out in the streets to find who's right and who's wrong." —Elton John, Benny and the Jets, guessed by clemtaur
  10. "I don't need to sell my soul, he's already in me."
  11. "Amazing what a good breakfast pickles make, isn't it?"
  12. "We believe in maximum effect, and absolutely every single facet of the gem."

And left over from the last one:

  1. "follows in soft shoes"
  2. "come on again, for the high-class whores and the business men, who drive in their Mercedes-Benz to a disco bar in old München"
  3. "It's 1987; what the fuck's going on?"
  4. "I hitched a ride with my soul by the side of the road, just as the sky turned black."
  5. "...well, that's if Stu's into it too."
  6. "Julee had Swiss cheese on her blouse."
  7. "Oh round desire! Oh red delight!"
  8. "You say you're straight, well that's great; but you oughta try something new."
  9. "Can we stop this raid while I buy a new gown?"
  10. "Everything I said, oh, well I meant it."
  11. "Straight lines that cut through the scene like you wanted to."
  12. "For I realised that God's a young man, too."
  13. "Orange!" "Yeah, that's right."
  14. "sprawled across a roll-top desk"
  15. "Put on your Dickie Dirt and your Peckham Rye,"
  16. "Thy cheek's been getting redder, from Charterhouse to Cheddar"
  17. "Valuing the love that lends grace to our hearts, we sail."
  18. "One, two, thee, four, Scarlet Woman we call The Whore, rearing up on hooves of evening!"

(11 Comments — Comment)

Friday, January 1st, 2010

17:27 2010

Happy New Demotic Decade!


Thursday, November 12th, 2009

21:03 Sixteen Raw Sausages in a Wooden Bowl

Sixteen Raw Sausages in a Wooden BowlCollapse )

(4 Comments — Comment)

Saturday, October 10th, 2009

01:06 Peace Out politics

"Obama, I'm really happy for you, and I'ma let you finish, but Thich Quang Do is one of the greatest Buddhist monks of all time!" —some commenter on 3QD.

(1 Comment — Comment)

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

02:13 travel

What should I do in London, Cambridge, Bath?

(18 Comments — Comment)

Friday, September 11th, 2009


Happy Birthday vixenesque93!

(1 Comment — Comment)

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

23:08 politics

Too bad party whips are weak in the American system. Because Obama could really use a good back-room boy. Someone to put a bit of stick about.

(1 Comment — Comment)

Monday, August 31st, 2009

02:34 Ring music

OMG OMG Ring!!! It seemed like quite a lot of money when I ordered the tickets back in whenever, and furthermore, I took two precious days PTO (Wednesday and Friday), so I could make the 6pm start. I couldn't help wondering whether it was worth it. Oh but it was...

I attended the third of three cycles for this year. Each cycle consists of four operas, Das Rheingold ("The Rhine-gold", one act, about two and a half hours, Tuesday), Die Walküre ("The Valkyrie", three acts, about three and half hours plus two half-hour intermissions, Wednesday), Siegfried (three acts, about three and half hours plus two half-hour intermissions, Friday), Götterdämmerung ("The Twilight of the Gods", about four and half hours plus two half-hour intermissions, Sunday). All singing is in German, with English text projected above the stage. This production is to be done four times at four-year intervals, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2013. The only other complete Ring I've been to was the 1995 Seattle Opera production, which was considerably different, as I remember.

My seat was in the "gallery" section, which is actually down on the main floor, one row away from the very front, way out to the side. Being at an angle was not too bad, and it was nice to be up close. It was interesting to see what people were wearing. Paying more attention to the men, I saw mostly suits and ties, or bow-ties, occasionally with a little flair. A fair number dressed down from that somewhat, and I even saw the occasional T-shirt. And I saw a few men in black tie. Myself, the four evenings saw various combinations of my black velvet jacket, the scarf hesperide gave me, grey and white shirts, brown trousers. For this last one I did "not quite black tie" (softer trousers, velvet jacket, yellow patterned waistcoat).

Down where I was at it was mostly couples in their 40s, 50s, 60s. During the intermissions I saw younger folk up on the top circle, for the cheaper seats. The young'uns tended to be more likely to dress up, and more likely to dress down, and more likely to dress better.

I really felt the theatre of it. I know that sounds an odd thing to say, but I've had recordings of the ring: I used to have the Solti, which I listened to a lot in my university days, and I currently have the Böhm. Since I don't speak German, I can really only appreciate them for the music. It's great music, and a lot of it can stand alone, but I was amazed by the degree that it comes alive when the story is acted out. The Ring, of course, does the "opera" thing, of characters speaking out their thoughts and motivations in full, so that all impulses are given musical voice, and all arguments are made. If this sort of thing annoys you, you'll find the operas terribly slow. For me, what I like is... if some thought or some point occurs to you from some character's perspective, they will express it, and you can see the response to it. There's a completeness to it that makes opera particularly good for carrying mythology.

By all accounts I overheard, this was a great cycle of a great year of a great production. For me, Greer Grimsley's Wotan really stood out. Also Sumegi's Hagen, Stephanie Blythe as Waltraute and especially Fricka, and also perhaps Fink's Alberich. I was a bit disappointed in Baird's Brünnhilde, though. Her singing was fairly strong (perhaps a bit too much vibrato?), but her acting lacked weight. She just overdoes it a bit, I think.

The music was flawless, at least to my inexpert ears. I made a point of listening to nothing classical before and between operas, which paid off when I heard that music stir my blood like it's supposed to. It's odd, because having been so used to the Solti recording, all the differences in the Böhm recording stand out. But I noticed nothing like that actually at the production.

The sets were at every point amazing. The production deliberately re-uses sets in subsequent operas as a kind of motif (said Jenkins in Q&A afterwards), so for instance the spot where Hunding kills Siegmund is the spot where Siegfried kills Fafner is the spot where Hagen kills Siegfried. Certain props beyond the text were also given meaning: Sieglinde's red hair-ribbon, Wotan carrying the poppies from where Fasolt died. The Rhine-maidens (the singers themselves, not stand-ins) were suspended on wires, and swam up and around, and did flips (it worked, trust me). Most spectacular of all was the immolation scene at the end, with projections of fire switching to water for the Rhine-maidens and back to fire for the gods standing together within Valhalla as it is consumed. And finally, the very last image, the nature scene. And all this done perfectly within about four minutes.

I went to the Q&A with Seattle Opera general director Speight Jenkins after Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. He answered questions on both the Wagner's operas and his production of them, which was fascinating and acted as a kind of decompression from the intensity.

So yeah, I'll probably do 2013. But it had better have Grimsley.

Current Music: still in my head

(4 Comments — Comment)

Saturday, August 1st, 2009

02:53 Relative Fulfilment in Poly Relationship Networks dating, maths

Love is finite: no matter how you feel, there are only so many hours in the day.

It seems to me in polyamorous relationships, those involved in more relationships are in some sense better fulfilled, while those involved with them are less so. Consider: A and B are in a relationship. If B starts a relationship with C, B gains a new relationship, while A loses some of B's attention.

But by just how much? Can we model these effects for general relationship arrangements?


Let's make some assumptions:

  1. Relationships are binary: that is, between two people.
  2. Relationships are symmetric, that is, reciprocated.
  3. The intensity of a relationship is determined only by the structure of the relationship network. To keep things simple, at least at first, no "primaries" and "secondaries".

Now we can represent polyamory using graph theory. A network of poly relationships is an undirected graph, where the vertices are people and the edges are relationships. You can draw this as you might expect, with dots for people and lines for relationships. The graph is undirected because relationships are symmetric, so you don't draw arrowheads on the lines.

Now what we want to do is calculate how much each person is fulfilled by their relationships. The strategy is to evaluate an "intensity" of some kind for each relationship, and then combine these somehow to calculate fulfilment. We're just attaching numbers to the dots and lines. Some more assumptions:

  1. Adding relationships increases a person's fulfilment.
  2. Adding relationships decreases the intensity of existing relationships.

For the combining function, we'll use summation, just because it's easiest. Thus one's fulfilment is the sum of intensities of all the relationships one is in.

What about intensity? Let's consider a simple example to guide intuition. Imagine a single "hub" person in n relationships each with people in no other relationships. From assumption 3 above, all relationships have the same intensity, which we'll call r, so the hub person's fulfilment is nr. Assumptions 4 and 5 give us this:

  • As n increases, nr increases.
  • As n increases, r decreases.

To satisfy this r has to be "between" k/n and k: the simplest model is r = 1/√n. This suggests a general function for the intensity of a relationship: 1/√(pq), where p and q are the number of relationships the two are in.


So, to summarise:

  • The engagement of a person is the number of relationships they are in ("degree of the vertex" in graph theory).
  • The intensity of a relationship is the inverse geometric mean (i.e. 1/√(pq)) of the engagements of its two participants.
  • The fulfilment of a person is the sum of the intensities of all the relationships they are in.

Let's consider some examples:

  • Two people are in a relationship: a common arrangement known as a "polyfidelitous dyad" (not really). The engagement of each is 1, the intensity of the relationship is 1, the fulfilment of each person is 1. That's a nice straightforward baseline.

  • A "V" relationship: B is in a relationship with A and C. B has engagement 2, A and C have engagement 1. Each relationship has intensity 1/√2. A and C have fulfilment of 1/√2 ≈ 0.7, while B has a fulfilment of √2 ≈ 1.4.

  • "Mixed doubles", two men and two women in heterosexual relationships, forming a square. The engagement of each is 2, the intensity of each relationship is 1/2, and the fulfilment of each is 1.

This last points out a more general result: if everyone has the same (non-zero) engagement, then everyone has a fulfilment of 1. This result has an appealing neutrality if one bears in mind that we are not considering personal preference towards polyamory. In practice, one might imagine that those who prefer polyamory will have a higher fulfilment (due to more relationships) with a higher common engagement, while those who do not will have a lower fulfilment (due to the lower intensity of each relationship); but we don't include this in the model.

Note also that a relationship can never have an intensity greater than 1, and only monogamous "full-time" relationships reach that.


How might we model "primary" and "secondary" arrangements? One simple way is to draw two relationship lines for a primary relationship, and one for a secondary. Our graphs now become multigraphs. This is appealing in that multiplying everyone's relationships doesn't change anything: that is, if we take a relationship graph and double all the edges, the engagements double, the intensity of the relationships is simply evenly split, and the fulfilments remain the same.

One can generalise this by assigning a weight to each relationship. Now the engagement of a person is the sum of weights, and the intensity of a relationship with weight w becomes w/√(pq). Again scaling weights across a whole graph doesn't affect any intensities or fulfilments, and again relationship intensities can never be more than 1.

For example, A and B consider themselves in a "primary" relationship, which we'll give weight 2. B and C are in a "secondary" relationship of weight 1. Engagements for A, B and C are 2, 3, 1. The A-B relationship has intensity √(2/3) and the B-C relationship has intensity 1/2. Fulfilments are approximately 0.8, 1.3, 0.5 (as opposed to the unweighted fulfilments calculated above, 0.7, 1.4, 0.7). Note how A has gained from this weighting, while B and (especially) C have lost.

The Second Order

One shortcoming of our model is that it doesn't account for second-order effects. For instance, let us imagine that A is in a relationship with B, who is also in a relationship with C, who is in n relationships. In our model, as n increases, the B-C relationship becomes less intense, as one would expect. But the A-B intensity is unaffected, it's always 1/√2. Shouldn't the A-B relationship become more intense as B gets less time to spend with C?

One tempting approach is to iterate the process, substituting fulfilment for engagement. This scheme does propagate higher-order effects appropriately, but annoyingly it does not in general converge (consider the mixed doubles square). There may however be self-consistent solutions, let me know if you find a general method for calculating them.

(57 Comments — Comment)

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

19:37 Dressing Like An Adult clothes

Older people dress more formally, but after about age 16 people don't dress more formally as they grow older.

(1 Comment — Comment)

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

01:59 Canada: America Done Right politics

Canada is 142 today! Happy Canada Day!

(2 Comments — Comment)

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

22:37 Cultural Appropriation politics

I think it is always the false expression that offends. Is there any kind of offensive cultural appropriation that does not involve some kind of false expression?

(5 Comments — Comment)

Friday, May 8th, 2009

18:41 A Brief, Incomplete, and Mostly Wrong History of Programming Languages software

"1957 - John Backus and IBM create FORTRAN. There's nothing funny about IBM or FORTRAN. It is a syntax error to write FORTRAN while not wearing a blue tie."

(1 Comment — Comment)

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

02:30 Loopy maths

Loopy continues to occasionally eat my brain. The puzzle sucks you in, because each one starts off easy and slowly gets harder until you're staring at the thing for hours looking for an opening. Current biggest boards solved (all "Hard" and generally without on-board speculation):

  • 40×25 Square
  • 50×25 Honeycomb
  • 40×20 Octagonal
  • 20×15 Kites
  • 30×20 Triangular
  • 25×15 Snub-Square
  • 20×10 Great-Hexagonal
  • 25×15 Cairo

The version included in Ubuntu Intrepid and Jaunty is old, and only has Square and doesn't show undecided lines as nicely. I downloaded the latest and built it myself instead.

I've played some of Simon Tatham's other games too, Untangle (400 points), Galaxies (15×15 Unreasonable, it won't seem to make anything bigger), Net (13×11 wrapping), Slant (12×10 Hard), Bridges (60×40 Hard loops 4 30% 10%), Rectangles (19×19), Light Up (14×14 Hard). Some of them, such as Loopy, Slant, Bridges and Net, I play determinately, narrowing down to the only possible solution. For others, such as Galaxies and Rectangles, I come up with an approximate solution and then fiddle around until it works.

(2 Comments — Comment)

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

01:28 If I leeeave here tomorrrrrow.... bored, music




Not a song about commitment.

Current Mood: bored bored
Current Music: Lynyrd Skynyrd — Free Bird

(1 Comment — Comment)

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009


Happy Birthday hesperide!

(2 Comments — Comment)

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009


Happy Birthday vamp11!

(3 Comments — Comment)

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

17:10 Sustainable Sushi food, sushi

"Unagi is a bad choice for an astounding variety of reasons. Don’t eat it.", says some guy with a website. Good news: mackerel and salmon are OK.

(2 Comments — Comment)

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

00:13 It's dead, Doug. 90s nostalgia

The Church of the Subgenius jumped the shark on its "X-Day" (1998-07-05).


(1 Comment — Comment)

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

10:57 Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day to all the beautiful women I've kissed, dated, wanted to kiss, stared at naked, or thought about in idle moments:

Amanda, Constance, Cristin, Cyndie-Lea, Eleanore, Hazel, Julia, Michaela, Naomi, Nicole, Sarah, Teresa and perhaps some others.

Current Mood: naughty naughty

(2 Comments — Comment)

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

01:29 Non-Free Software on my Computer software

Non-free software on my computer:

  • NVIDIA accelerated graphics driver (version 177). Occasionally misses sections when drawing images.
  • Google Earth 4.3.7204.0836. Looks ugly, because it doesn't use GTK+. Has a tendency to crash.
  • Adobe Flash 10.0 r15. Adobe haven't released a 64-bit version, so it runs in this special wrapper. It frequently fails to show up on a web-page. There's a free alternative, gnash, but it's incomplete.

(1 Comment — Comment)

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009


Happy Birthday mokie_sassafras!


Monday, February 2nd, 2009

22:57 politics

OK OK I VOTED. Sheesh.

(1 Comment — Comment)

Monday, January 19th, 2009

01:07 Social Tips for Furries At Non-Furry Events conventions

By "furries" I mean specifically anonymous fursuiters, those who cover their faces so they cannot be recognised, and display a false face. There is a lot of dislike for such furries among those who have come across them, and that dislike is largely in reaction to certain common furry behaviours. But you don't have to be "that furry".

People generally rely on being able to see each other's faces for social interaction. It's partly so we can read clues to their emotional state and trustworthiness. Rather more importantly, seeing another's face allows us to hold them responsible for their actions later. It's a social guarantee of security. These are ordinary expectations of social interactions, so ordinary people don't think about them much, but when they are taken away, people get anxious. Many people do not wish to interact with furries for these reasons.

Refusing to speak exacerbates these issues considerably. And many people do not wish to interact with a non-verbal character either.

If you are in a social space that is not specifically understood to be "furry", you would do well to show a little circumspection:

  • Do not approach strangers without observing a clear signal of interest in interaction.
  • If you need to apologise, do so immediately and verbally, even if it means breaking character.
  • If the situation gets ugly, remove your head-piece.

Bear in mind that someone's choice to relate to your character, rather than to you as an ordinary person, is a courtesy that they have extended to you; and they may withdraw it at any time.

(4 Comments — Comment)

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

15:30 The change we need politics

After eight long, tiresome years, President Al Gore won't be missed. Even if he did save the planet.

(1 Comment — Comment)

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

00:43 Break, Blow, Burn music

John Adams' Doctor Atomic, end of Act I. This is the 2007 Nederlandse Opera production, with Gerald Finley as Robert Oppenheimer.

Current Music: this

(1 Comment — Comment)

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

00:37 Pole

St. Elmo's Fire is...

burnin' in me, where my future's lyin'
splitting ions in the ether

Have you ever used the word "girth" to refer to something other than the size of a penis?

yes, but only to refer to the size of someone's belly

Second best -gasm:


Which of these car accessories can be displayed ironically?

fuzzy dice
leopardskin upholstry
Truck Nutz

Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer?

Current Mood: bored bored

(5 Comments — Comment)

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

20:26 Blagojevich politics

A man so vain, he has a comb-over even though he's not balding.

The Chicago Sun-Times agrees.


Thursday, December 4th, 2008

02:06 Boons for All favours

Poll #1309191 Favours
This poll is closed.

What can I do for you?

Done: writinghawk, hydrolagus

(3 Comments — Comment)