Russell's Blog

New. Improved. Stays crunchy in milk.

2006, a Retrospective

Posted by Russell on September 27, 2006 at 6:19 p.m.
Democrats: Iraq is a fucking mess. How about we fix it or call it quits?

Bush: You're a bunch of commie fags!

Democrats: Yeah, sorry.

Bloggers: Stop wrecking our country, you bastard!

Bush: Did someone say something?

Bloggers: You'll have to listen to us eventually, you bastard!

America: Iraq is a fucking mess. How about we fix it or call it quits?

Bush: You're all unpatriotic!

America: What??!?

Small Group of Republicans: Iraq is maybe not going quite as well as we hoped it would. How about we fix it or call it quits?

Bush: Hell, no! Now, pass this bill, you little shits!

Small Group of Republicans: Oh, er. Right.

The Media: Lookie! I can fit my foot all the way into my mouth, and still have enough room to take a drag from my crackpipe and a swig from my handle of Jim Beam! Watch! Mffmfmmfffmfmf.

Bush: You're a bunch of commie fags!

The Media soils itself, looks confused.

National Intelligence Estimate: Iraq is a horrible mess. We have turned it into a breeding ground of terrorism that will haunt us for generations. Our occupation is a detriment to our efforts to slow the spread of radicalism.

Bush: You're a bunch of commie fags!

National Intelligence Estimate: We are not authorized to comment on that, sir.

Well, shit.

Posted by Russell on September 26, 2006 at 2:11 a.m.
Much to my disappointment, Ophidian is dead in its tracks. The root finder is searching for the roots very close to a singularity, and the median distance between the root and the singularity scales with beta. That means that as I work my way down in beta, the convergence goes to hell.

Steve and I are going to look at this tomorrow and see if we can arrange the system of equations in a way that puts the roots farther away from the singularities. Or, since I have five clean high-beta cases and some busted low-beta cases, I might have enough to finish the paper as it stands now.

In any event, I've pretty much had enough of this problem.

When Graphics Attack

Posted by Russell on September 21, 2006 at 8:14 p.m.
As the results from my big calculation roll in, I've been putting together some of the plots that will go into the paper. Some have turned out pretty good. Others have yielded some good results after a bit of work. Others.... well...

I'm not even going to bother describing what it is, and I have deliberately deleted the scales. It's damn near impossible to interpret anything from this monstrosity. I'm not even sure what to make of it, even though I am completely familiar with the data it came from, the scale, the significance of the different traces, and the plotting methodology. It is pure junk.

Worst of all, it is ugly junk. It looks like it belongs in the lobby of a dingy vintage 1977 office building. I'm still trying to work out a way to display this data that doesn't make your head explode.

I can't believe I thought this would be a good idea.

New python!

Posted by Russell on September 20, 2006 at 4:12 a.m.
Oh, my, god, this is the coolest thing ever.
import ctypes

libc = ctypes.CDLL('')
result = libc.printf("Mu ha ha ha ha!\n")
Oh what evil shall be wrought!

Cool thing!

Posted by Russell on September 19, 2006 at 5:04 a.m.
There is a company in Germany that builds Stirling engines that can run off of the heat radiated by your hand, or sunlight falling on the top of the cylinder.

Arrr! Why must people build such cool things! Now I must have one!

Russell's Gallery has moved to Flickr!

Posted by Russell on September 15, 2006 at 3:10 a.m.
I've spent a lot of time shopping around for decent web gallery software, and for the moment, I'm giving up. There are some promising projects, but nothing is really usable. So, I'm using Flickr. Please go to my Flickr account to see my photos.

Russell's Gallery has moved to Flickr!

Dear Google: WTF?

Posted by Russell on September 14, 2006 at 7:50 p.m.
I understand that it might not be possible to write an algorithm to guess what someone's political offiliation is based on the commentaty that appears on their blog, but this really is dumb.

Google, why the hell are you putting this ad on my website? Bad Google. No no.

The long grind begins

Posted by Russell on September 09, 2006 at 5:15 p.m.
Sometimes, I'm really amazed that people are able to accomplish anything in computational science. It has turned out to be nearly impossible to package up Scipy in a way that I can distribute to people running, for example, Fedora or MacOS. It's not fair to ask people like my mom to install g77 and start debugging build options just to run the Ophidian client. Scipy is damn-near impossible to compile, so building it as an egg also damn-near impossible. With only four nodes working on my problem, at least I'll have plenty of time to figure it out.

Dependency issues notwithstanding, I finally have a (hopefully) distributable version of Ophidian. I'm going to make sure it gets through the first case before giving the client out to people. So far, here is the work:

Aside from a few dropped blocks, it looks like it's pretty much glitch-free. There are a few points on the outboard midplane that I'll have to go back andhere is the work manually recompute, but that shouldn't be too bad.

Dear Disney

Posted by Russell on September 06, 2006 at 5:53 p.m.
It seems like everyone's writing to Disney/ABC to complain about their little foray into propaganda. I doubt that The Path to 9/11 will have the same power to move people as Triumph of the Will, but it belongs on the same shelf.
Dear Mr. Iger,

It has come to my attention that ABC intends to air a program called "The Path to 9/11" on September 10 and September 11. I am writing to bring to your attention that the piece was written and directed by a Republican campaign official. The dramatization contains depictions of the events that are directly contradicted by the evidence gathered by the 9/11 Commission. This is not a documentary, but rather a Republican public relations infomercial.

The piece would be an outrage if it were not immediately recognizable as an extended political ad. Like so much of campaign material today, the piece is laden with inaccuracies and personal smears.

Many people would ask you to correct the "balance" of the piece by correcting the factual errors it contains. I am not of this view. If the Republican party wishes to use dishonest portrayals of events in its campaigns, it is welcome to do so.

I do not believe that it is your responsibility to provide a balanced view. To your viewers, you have a responsibility to tell the truth. To your investors, you have a responsibility to turn a profit. The responsible thing, in both senses, is not to air "The Path to 9/11." It is easily shown to be untruthful, and a majority of Americans will likely find it deeply offensive.

The Republican Party has plenty of money to pay for ads, and yet this program has been constructed as an elaborate campaign advertisement. You owe it to your investors, and to the public, to see that the Republican Party pays for its ads just like everyone else.

Russell Neches


Posted by Russell on September 01, 2006 at 2:23 a.m.
I find this rather humorous. An Italian politician uses the phrase "Arbeit macht Frei" in an otherwise innocuous pamphlet (I presume that in the pamphlet, it was written in Italian). Naturally, people are upset. However, he does say right in the pamphlet:

"Work makes you free. I don't remember where I read this phrase but it was one of those quotes that have an instant impact on you because they tell an immense truth,"

They do have Google in Italy. I was there. I typed "" into my web browser, and poof!, there was Google, in Italian and eveything. If he's guilty of anything, it's publishing a pamphlet without at least casually sticking this "memorable phrase" into a search engine.

It's a shame that Rome's Jewish community has already issued the usual humorless condemnation. It would have been much better for everyone to just make fun of him for being dumb and careless. I doubt very much that he wanted to do anything other than help improve Italy's dismal unemployment situation.