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Rhetorica's blog

State function


At that moment a sort of stillness overcame the ship's lounge. The atmosphere had grown steadily quieter as the hours dragged on; the novice poets and muses had stopped humming their novelties for one another, leaving only the hushed tones of the elders and the occasional clink of a posset bowl. The gay tones of the ubiquitous murals that encrusted every corner of the Zelúkwía had seen better days, lending yet more to the tiredness of the celebration.

Íora rolled her eyes at the silence, her attention slow, lugubrious. She had spent the morning defending her latest literary innovation to her editor, who was utterly opposed to printing it. This time, it had not resulted in any perforated wings, but she was still sore, both in body and mind.

She swilled her bowl about, reflecting on this, and other conflicts of opinion. Checking the bottom of her drink was another personal habit—she had once swallowed a lump of ergot that someone had spat into her bowl the morning after a wild party, and the experience had never quite stopped haunting her. […]
Samantics comment   read more (2580 bytes) · 8453.798 tgc / 2015.213 ce

Life, the universe, and seconds

We're going to sit down, you and I, and we're going to talk. And we're going to talk for a while—I'll be honest, I haven't decided how long I'm going to talk for yet—and we're going to see where that takes us. I'm not exactly sure who you are or why you're reading this; you might be an annoyed Isharian, or a real-world coworker, or someone from SL who just clicked far too many links because you read peoples' profiles even though it's vogue not to, or you might be a rather integral part of my life, past or present, wondering why I didn't mention this here thing sooner.

For now, though, let's see where it takes us. […]
Samantics comment   read more (12617 bytes) · 8453.796 tgc / 2015.209 ce

Key advice when for to be naming of the software projects

Do not call your project 'Phoenix.'

Realistically—don't call it anything related to fire, explosions, awesomeness, or power.

In fact, if your favourite colour is red, orange, or anything else you or a friend might consider fiery, then if at all possible, get a new favourite colour. This advice extends beyond programming, but is particularly important in the context of application naming. (Mauve, crimson, maroon, tangerine, and amber are fine.)
Samantics comment   8453.777 tgc / 2015.175 ce

Respect for Respect


Íoya Tshúkoto. A woman as smug as her horns were straight.

She was an outcast of sorts, at least within the household and its staff; the last of a once-dominant bloodline, her kin had steadily been supplanted by Regsabta's cousins and sisters over the past three centuries. And she had not blended well, either: a strong, wedge-shaped chin and peculiar outward-pointing, flat ears made it clear to any visitor that she was not of the same stock. Her features rather reminded Regsabta of an inverted five-point star, which was a good omen in the far north and hence a bad one in the capitol and other equatorial metropoles. […]
Samantics comment   read more (5545 bytes) · 8453.554 tgc / 2014.751 ce

The Mercy of the Sunset


Sabta's shimmering greatness was particularly awful today; a pinkish glare that was harmless to the Ksreskézai themselves—but could easily burn and maim a slokdtaba if she stood in it for too long. Closer to night the sky would be a more bearable blue, but the pink tinge of high noon was truly pain embodied. After metal toxicity and childbirth, melanoma was, by far, the most common cause of death for the frail little servants. […]
Samantics comment   read more (1 comment, 7344 bytes) · 8453.376 tgc / 2014.412 ce

Red Queen security

It's only a matter of time before any existing cryptographic method is cracked.

On the plus side, this seems to take longer than it does to invent good, new ones.

Why not keep the SSH or Tor protocol on a rolling update schedule, like web browsers? Encryption methods should expire just like passwords.

Counterintelligence seems like a good way to create a reliable job market for cryptography experts.

Obviously this is what secret agencies already do, but the commercial market could churn out new standards frequently with enough heads involved, flawed though they might end up being.

Analogy to a one-time pad, maybe?
Samantics comment   8452.992 tgc / 2013.683 ce


Because of horizontal gene transfer, it's wrong to talk about bacteria in the same way we regard other kingdoms of life. I propose that all bacterial species that participate in HGT be rebranded as 'eigenspecies' or 'eigengenomes'—as if their genetic material were a vector being applied to a matrix (the environment) to yield a constant result (for humourous reasons, the eigenvalue should be 2, to indicate binary fission.) Of course, no genome is completely static, so they'd be near-eigengenomes. Very rapidly changing species are of course not steady-state at all; they are just some vector getting screwed up by the matrix.

This perhaps can be used to talk about any species, since a stable environment generally means a stable survival rate and negative evolutionary pressure, but I think the transitory nature of the designation is particularly suitable to our little transitory friends.
Samantics comment   8452.914 tgc / 2013.535 ce

Regsabta Tshúkotía, Slokdtaba


Early on Geglok'hogrekño morning, vessels of the Righteous King Zetemptobo confirmed that the last of the cowardly serpents had been driven from the fair domain of Yorlamë, home to millions of loyal colonists and twenty lesser species. General Hrídlatzlo Korakto of the Ninth Fleet at Arms declared the victory a significant blow to the Hogedep Empire, if not a particularly challenging test of his armada's abilities. Today is a great day for the Ksreskézai. — REGSABTA TSHÚKOTÍA, TÉVOPÍO SCABBARD.

"What in the world is this?" […]
Samantics comment   read more (5519 bytes) · 8452.874 tgc / 2013.459 ce

The CEASE Manifesto

[Note: This is a joke. Or, at least, it was going to be when I started writing it.]

Every year, tens—if not hundreds—of thousands of newly-minted undergraduates around the globe join a student activist organisation. Such organisations span the political spectrum and all issues imaginable, but are predominantly progressive in their principles and address either social issues on a national or international level, or focus on some disease. The majority of such groups emphasize awareness campaigns, although most also collect donations that in some way benefit their cause.

For several reasons, this is a terrible idea. […]
Samantics comment   read more (3190 bytes) · 8452.844 tgc / 2013.401 ce

Roxanne Beckman–Coulter

You don't have to turn on the red light;
Those days are over,
The tubes are now balanced and all is right.

Samantics comment   read more (1192 bytes) · 8452.703 tgc / 2013.135 ce

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