Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Interesting news

Viva Las Vegas! Sarah, Alex, and I are heading to the City of Sin for my first professional conference, Worldcomp '07. A short version of my thesis was accepted as a conference paper, so I am going to present it at one of the couple dozen simultaneous conferences, CVIP '07 (which stands for computer vision and image processing). I'm also on a mission to see other interesting papers and tutorials, and to network. Unfortunately, we won't be there in time for John Holland's keynote the first morning, unless they schedule me for Monday and we have to change our plans. I'm interested in some of the other conferences too. There is one dedicated to AI, another one for machine learning, another one for data mining... parallel processing, software engineering, knowledge engineering, semantic web... it's all there.

We will have 3 luxurious nights to live it up. If I have my druthers, the poker room at the Rio and the World Series of Poker bracelet events will be on the itinerary. We're staying at the Tropicana, so if you aren't doing anything June 25-28 and would love to vacation (hotels.com + southwest.com) among the pimps, high rollers, snakes, and sleaze of it all, come on down.

I got sucked into The Once and Future King, which is, so far, a funny sort of book, so I am reading it back and forth with Sons and Lovers, a tragic sort of book. I feel like Homer in the one where he's a truck driver and he takes big handfuls of uppers and downers in combination so he can drive across the country without sleeping.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Heroes Season 1 is over

I'm going to call it PG-13 for those who care. Mature themes, violence including murder, sometimes disturbing images. And then there's all the good stuff. About fate, destiny, heroism, racism, identity, it is the most perfect 10 on network TV right now (I haven't seen Lost or spent the time on 24, but whatever). Heroes. You can watch every episode online (interlaced with commercials). Or you can wait for the DVDs. I've said it before, but run, don't walk. Make haste to see them.

In other awesome TV show news, I picked up my first issue of Buffy Season 8 (The Comic Book), and it was totally rad.

Furthermore, I saw two good episodes of The Simpsons on Sunday. It's hard to believe they've still got it.

Also, two good episodes of Futurama, which I sadly neglected while it was on air. The one with a universe in a box was hilarious. I howled with laughter.

Sarah and I saw Shrek 3 last night. It's hard to believe any movie ending in a 3 can be good, but they did it well, if a bit predictably. It had its moments. Also, a nice date, which Sarah and I haven't had for a while.

Why am I talking about nothing but TV? It's because I'm on vacation. While I wait on the intentions of Lockheed Martin (really, it's simple: tell me how to get to Colorado and start to work), I've been TVing it up and reading it up.

I recently finished Graham Greene's ultra-personal autobiography, A Sort of Life. Some of the reviewers called it, basically, bloodless. I didn't find it ironic, exactly. Obviously Greene was not able to write as if he had not lived for six decades, and be the awkward teenager he was, but he did try to get at the kinds of things that he had felt and struggled through. In a way, I felt like he was almost writing in what's called the objective voice, or the camera view. In that voice, you don't judge, you don't feel your material... you look, and pass, look and pass. The mask of neutrality said volumes to me, and I found many threads common to my own life. Perhaps you wouldn't find similar points of contact.

Up next, a book that has been sitting on my shelf for several years: Sons and Lovers, by DH Lawrence. It's a weird reason to read a book, but I heard about a friend doing a paper on it once. I tried to get into it a while back, so I hope that my recent jaunt through the British consciousness has prepared me mentally.

I recently received a graduation book, the daunting biography Einstein: His Life and Universe, by Walter Isaacson. I am fascinated by genius scientists and their biographies, like Tesla and Feynman, so I am looking forward to this one.

Also in the backpack, The Once and Future King, which another friend of mine was reading in college, and which I picked up at the USU book sale for $.50, The Name of the Rose, another incredible USU book sale find (in hardback), The Stand, a fantasy by Guy Gavriel Kay, and, as filler, the complete Sherlock Holmes.

My summer reading list is filling up, but if you have a good one for me to read, let me know.

We miss you friends in Logan already...

Friday, May 11, 2007

The best defense

is the soul of wit. It turns out my thesis defense today went a wee bit long. I presumed on my committee's indulgence. But it doesn't matter, because I passed. Our long educational nightmare is over.

Our long national nightmare continues apace... if you didn't catch a story about the Iraqi parliament,

Supporters of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said Thursday that they'd gathered enough support in Iraq's parliament to pass a bill requiring a timetable for U.S. forces to pull out.

The legal or practical implications of an Iraqi law that would attempt to require a timetable for U.S. troops to leave the country were unclear. Even those circulating the legislation said they expected to sort out particulars in parliamentary debate.

But the announcement, on the anniversary of the parliament's swearing-in last year, underscores the difficulty of the American position in Iraq.

...

Word of the Iraqi pullout legislation came amid growing signs of dissatisfaction in parliament over the inability of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government and U.S. officials to curb violence in neighboring Diyala province. Sunni insurgents tied to the group al-Qaida in Iraq have undertaken a campaign there against Shiite residents.

A parliamentary committee reported Thursday that 11,200 people have been killed in Diyala since 2004. Its report says 9,500 families have been displaced, 8,250 women have been widowed, 16,500 children orphaned and 66 mosques or shrines destroyed in the same period.

When some lawmakers appeared preoccupied as the report on Diyala was being read, a member of the United Iraqi Alliance, which represents the parliament's narrow Shiite majority, chastised them.

"You received the report as if it's about the sewage flowing," Shatha al-Mosawi said. "We heard about kids who are given to their families fried after being kidnapped."


And it's got a great clincher:

In a meeting with Maliki on Wednesday, Cheney repeated U.S. officials' warnings that the Iraqi parliament should cancel its two-month summer break to deal with the country's political issues.


I told my dad when he visited last week that I am not optimistic about the situation in Iraq because I see the pogrom has already begun.

For more on these issues and daily translation and interpretation of news from Iraq (I find it hard to read most days), visit Juan Cole. He's sometimes polemical (I ignore those), but mostly the news just forms his argument for him.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

And like this insubstantial pageant faded

Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.


Somebody gave me a job today, quite officially. So it's on to the next dream.

I'll be working in defense for Lockheed Martin, in the Littleton, CO area. Graduate school has been good to me, and I'm essentially starting up a level on the career ladder because of it. Down the road, the door is open to a PhD because of my thesis, which I'm defending next Friday. And best of all, it taught me a lot about computers and about science.

It will be nice to get off the school and work grind, and just learn and grow in my profession. It will be nice to pay off some school loans, live in a house. It will be nice to be out on our new grand adventure.

I'll write some contact information here in due course. The Internet, insubstantial as it is, can keep us all on one stage, and that's how it should be.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Harry Potter fans, lend me your ears

So I'm working on the last project of my master's career (not counting my thesis defense, which is May 11 at 10 AM in Old Main 416), and I happened upon this "amazing" music. It's from my favorite source for free concerts, the Live Music Archive. Click on a random band and see what happens.

Harry and the Potters
Draco and the Malfoys

All the songs are in character.

I don't think there's any swearing, especially because the concert is in the public library. I listened to them without hearing any.

You can find out more about Harry and the Potters here and here.

Also, in Harry Potter-related paraphernalia, The Potter Puppet Pals. The one I saw, "Bothering Snape", was a little naughty but no big whoop.