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Speaking at Ubucon-LA on June 2!

I will be speak­ing at Ubu­con LA this next sat­ur­day June 2nd. The ti­tle is "De­vel­op­ing apps for Ubun­tu One" and I ex­pect it will be in­ter­est­ing, awe­some, en­ter­tain­ing and full of amaz­ing spe­cial ef­fect­s.

Ei­ther that, or a reg­u­lar talk. Hope to see lots of Ubun­tu Users there!

A Naked Singularity

  • Au­thor: Ser­gio de la Pa­va
  • Rat­ing: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
  • See in goodreads


Post­ed the re­view in my blog: http://lat­er­­man­ager­s.­­b...

But here it is any­way:

Ser­gio de la Pa­va is Neal Stephen­son with law and bull­shit in­stead of com­put­ers and sword­s.
—Rober­to Alsi­na

But there are al­so swords in A Naked Sin­gu­lar­i­ty!
—Le­vi Stahl

A while ago I fin­ished read­ing "A naked sin­gu­lar­i­ty" by Ser­gio de la Pa­va.

If you have not read it, stop read­ing this now, take a week off and read it first. You may love me for telling you that, or you may hate me with the in­ten­si­ty of a thou­sand sun­s, but I doubt you will find it in you to say "me­h" af­ter you do.

I will try not to go in­to plot de­tail­s, even though it's per­haps im­pos­si­ble to spoil this book. If I told you how it end­s, it would not make any dif­fer­ence. If I told you about the chim­p, or about the Ca­sio Carousel, it may not mat­ter. Or maybe it was a mon­key, and the Carousel is done by Sony. Which it is, in the book. By Sony, not a mon­key. I think.

Re­mem­ber that kid in school that could tell the best jokes, and he did those fun­ny voic­es? De la Pa­va writes in fun­ny voic­es. And he breaks your heart with fun­ny voic­es. His book does­n't me­an­der, it goes straight and quick, de­ter­mined and in a hur­ry right out to the mid­dle of nowhere, then keeps go­ing, goes of­froad, keeps go­ing, runs through a few wall­s, and comes back here, by just go­ing and go­ing. It has a mo­tor, it has a rock­et en­gine, it nev­er blinks.

This book is os­ten­si­bly about a lawyer stray­ing his path. It's prob­a­bly writ­ten about some­thing else. I have this strange feel­ing that most char­ac­ters are imag­i­nary, even though they talk and feel very re­al to me, who am writ­ing this and thus am sup­posed to be more re­al than they are. It's hal­lu­ci­na­to­ry grit­ty re­al­is­m. It's po­et­ic and tech­ni­cal. It's bull­shit as an art for­m.

Which is, re­al­ly, what at­tract­ed me to it. The di­alog, the mono­logues, are to reg­u­lar bull­shit like fine din­ners are to hot dogs. Ser­gio de la Pa­va may be the finest bull­shit-­giv­er in this blue plan­et of ours (take it from one dab­bler in the art), and we are all lucky to have him writ­ing.

And yes, it has swords in it.

Lenovo Mini Keyboard

The Leno­vo mi­ni wire­less key­board and track­ball

Just got this to­day from DX and it's awe­some.

  1. I got it in a ter­­mosealed bag with a note from the Ar­­gen­­tini­an mail com­­pa­ny say­ing "sor­ry it's bro­ken, we got it that way".

  2. The box looked like a rhi­no had seen it was on fire and tried to put it out.

  3. It's spot­­less and works per­­fec­t­­ly.

So, what is it?

A RF (not blue­tooth) mini-key­board + track­bal­l.

Does it work?

Bril­liant­ly. You take the don­gle, plug it in­to a USB port, and it work­s, no pair­ing, no con­fig, no driver­s, no noth­ing.

But does it work on Linux?

Yep, ev­ery­thing, from the vol­ume keys, to the "play­er" keys, to the weird or­ange key that ap­par­ent­ly launch­es nau­tilus. All the mul­ti­me­dia keys work, with OSD feed­back, and they do the ob­vi­ous thing on clemen­tine.

Are the keys nice?

They are a lot like an ex­pen­sive QW­ER­TY slid­er phone's. No trav­el, but nice feed­back, and the lay­out is rea­son­able. It's most­ly a thum­b-key­board, and the shape works nice­ly for that.

And the trackball?

Works with the thum­b. I woul like a "press-the-­track­bal­l" to click, and strange­ly it's a bit noisy! But not bad at al­l.

What else?

Light, has a com­part­ment to store the don­gle, seems rather ro­bust. Comes with bat­ter­ies.

So far, re­al­ly hap­py with it, will use it for my liv­ing room com­put­er/­me­diathing.

Natalia Oreiro y la Máquina del Tiempo

Sor­ry, span­ish on­ly.


"¿Ar­genti­no?" me pre­gun­tó la ca­mar­era del Fay Fay. Pero claro, ce­nan­do solo, en Carmelo, no te cono­cen, cal­cu­lo que un 80% de prob­a­bil­i­dades de que seas ar­genti­no. En fin. Si no te gus­ta lla­mar la aten­ción te con­viene ir a Mon­te­v­ideo, o por lo menos a Colo­ni­a. Pero la ca­chola es más barata, y para lo que tenés que hac­er Carme­lo al­can­za. Y son las once de la noche, y el ho­tel no tiene agua calien­te, y el úni­co lu­gar abier­to es el Fay Fay, y el car­ri­to de cha­cho, y es­tá fres­co para com­er para­do en la calle.

Pero bueno, uno es­tá donde es­tá y hace lo que hace, y eso te pre­gun­tan siem­pre, qué es­tás ha­cien­do. Y se te ocurre in­ven­tar que si tomás las banel­co de to­dos tus amigos, venís acá, sacás pe­sos uruguayos del ca­jero, com­prás dólares en la casa de cam­bio, los llevás a Ar­genti­na, los cam­biás por eu­ros, los traés acá, y los volvés a cam­biar por dólares eso te de­ja un 7.8% de ganan­cia y es legal, pero sería com­pli­ca­do y no es cier­to, y no querés ex­pli­car, en­tonces tenés que pen­sar al­go, y tirás que venís porque sos un vi­a­jero en el tiem­po.

Que so­mos to­dos, porque va­mos para el fu­turo a un día por día, pero que tenés una teoría, que acá no es el mis­mo mo­men­to que al­lá. Que se lla­man igual, en to­dos la­dos se lla­ma 25 de mayo del 2012, pero que a pe­sar de es­o, acá se siente co­mo si fuer­a, ponele, 22 de ju­nio de 1987, pero con wifi.

Si, Carme­lo es la dé­ca­da del 80 pero con wifi, esa es la ex­cusa, y no, si no hu­biera wifi no ven­dría, por una cuestión de laburo, ¿vis­te? y em­pezás a men­cionar las cosas ob­vi­as, co­mo que es­os sauces llorones en el río son iguales a los que había en la vuelta del pi­ra­ta cuan­do eras chico, y que hay bosta en la calle, y que to­das las veredas tienen esa ca­pa de tier­ra que vos no ves des­de 1991, y los carte­les pin­ta­dos a mano en las vidri­eras.


Pero por supuesto, la ev­i­den­cia más clara de que en Uruguay no es el siglo 21 es Na­talia Or­eiro. Porque la Or­eiro no só­lo es­tá muy bue­na, si no que es, clara­mente, una mi­na naci­da en 1950. Al­can­za ver­le la cara, no es una cara de aho­ra, es una cara de hace 30, 40, 50 años, por eso lla­ma la aten­ción, porque mi­nas lin­das hay mil­lones, pero el­la es lin­da co­mo sería tu vie­ja cuan­do era joven, si tu vie­ja era lin­da, co­mo tu vie­ja de­bería haber si­do de lin­da.

Es que las chi­cas jóvenes son siem­pre lin­das. El chiste es ver cuar­en­tonas lin­das. En un lu­gar en que las ado­les­centes son her­mosas pero las de cuarenta no, es que al­go fal­la, es que al­go les pasó en es­os veinte años que les sacó lo lin­das, ¿no?

Por es­o, para saber cual país tiene las mi­nas más lin­das no mires ado­les­cen­tes, no mires mod­e­los, ni ac­tri­ces, mirá maes­tras de pri­mari­a, ponele, de en­tre 35 y 50. Si son lin­das, es que ese país vale la pe­na, porque agar­ró lin­das ado­les­cen­tes, las pu­so en un laburo jo­di­do e in­gra­to, pero así y to­do no las ar­ru­inó, quiere de­cir que el resto de las cosas que les pasaron no fueron tan malas. Si pare­cen de 20 sería una ca­gada, tienen que pare­cer de 35, de 40, de 50, pero con una son­risa, con una ac­ti­tud, de mi­na lin­da.

En­tonces te decía que es­o, que ven­go por la máquina del tiem­po, y sí, quiero volver a los 90 porque er­an más largos, los 90. Fi­jate, el go­b­ier­no de Mendez duró tipo lo mis­mo que Nestor más Cristi­na, pero decíme que no pare­ció el doble, el triple... sería que yo era más rápi­do en los 90, en­tonces aho­ra que soy más lento el mun­do se me pu­so rápi­do, y se me van los años así, de golpe, en­tonces si ven­go acá, en el área de in­flu­en­cia de la hipotéti­ca máquina del tiem­po de Na­tal­i­a, en­tonces los días se me ha­cen más largos, y fun­ciona, te ju­ro, lle­vo 4 ho­ras acá, pero se sien­ten co­mo 4 días, 4 se­m­anas, claro, 4 días de és­tos, no 4 días de los 90.

Pero bueno, sí, de paseo. Un cana­di­ense y una co­ca light.


Levels of Existence

This sign (the one on the left) is on the Ed­u­ca­tion Coun­cil of the place where I live.

Click to en­large.

There is, re­al­ly, no such thing as art. There are on­ly artist­s.


When I first read it I was shocked by the sheer stu­pid­i­ty of the thing, but hey, let's think it over a bit. I sup­pose that say­ing some­one is an artist, mean­ing a per­son that cre­ates art, and at the same time claim that art, as such, does not ex­ist, sound­ed like a good idea at the time. It's the kind of coun­ter-in­tu­itive slo­gan that makes peo­ple say "o­h, deep, dude" be­tween bong hit­s.

It's deeply stupid lit­er­al­ly, in that it would, of course, make artists peo­ple who cre­ate some­thing that does­n't ex­ist, which puts them at the lev­el of as­pir­ing uni­corn wran­glers and the­ol­o­gists in the fu­til­i­ty of their cho­sen pro­fes­sion. But in a way, it is true. Be­cause "art" is not a thing, it has no ma­te­ri­al ex­is­tence, al­though it has many ex­am­ples.

So, pieces of art ex­ist, but art as a whole does­n't. Art would be the pla­ton­ic idea from which sculp­tures, paint­ings and nov­els are but a re­flec­tion. Which is a met­ric ton of bull­shit but is at least some­what de­fen­si­ble. And of course whether some­thing is art or not is com­plete­ly sub­jec­tive, so art is like a club where ob­jects en­ter or not based on opin­ion, and that club ex­ists on­ly in each per­son­'s head.

But in any case, that does­n't make it not ex­ist­ing, just be­cause some­thing on­ly ex­ists in your head that does­n't mean it does­n't ex­ist. It means it ex­ists in your head, no mat­ter how sil­ly that sound­s. So, art does ex­ist, in the same way that imag­i­na­tion ex­ist­s, or mem­o­ries ex­ist, or thought ex­ist­s. Which again goes to show Gom­brich was just craft­ing a sil­ly slo­gan.

So, we have es­tab­lished that ex­is­tence is not ex­act­ly a black and white thing, be­cause there is at least ma­te­ri­al ex­is­tence, and things that don't ex­ist ma­te­ri­al­ly? Wrong, be­cause your brain pro­cess­es are ma­te­ri­al too. Thought, imag­i­na­tion, and art, all ex­ist ma­te­ri­al­ly, in your brain. We just don't have the in­stru­ments to mea­sure them, or re­port on them, ex­cept via that un­re­li­able thing called peo­ple who just will not shut up about all those things they per­ceive in their brain­s. So, art ex­ist­s, ma­te­ri­al­ly.

I know that may sound slight­ly strange, but what does­n't ex­ist? Do the drag­ons of Pern ex­ist? Yes, they ex­ist, you can buy "The Drag­ons of Pern" in Ama­zon. And yes, spe­cif­ic drag­ons ex­ist as well, be­cause if they did not, how could we know they are car­niv­o­rous, oviparous and war­m-blood­ed? Sure, they don't ex­ist ma­te­ri­al­ly in the form of drag­on­s, but I know that be­cause I re­mem­ber them. How could I re­mem­ber some­thing that does­n't ex­ist? I re­mem­ber them be­cause I read about them. I have a mem­o­ry of their de­scrip­tion. There is a de­scrip­tion o Per­nese drag­ons as writ­ten by Anne Mc­Caf­frey, and that's not as good as ac­tu­al, touch­able, warm drag­on­s, but it's the next best thing.

If I men­tion pink ele­phants, I am bring­ing them in­to ex­is­tence, not as ele­phants, but as a de­scrip­tion of an ele­phan­t, pink. It's an at­ten­u­at­ed ex­is­tence, but is the same one Japan has for me, who have nev­er been there and must make do with no­to­ri­ous­ly un­re­li­able tes­ti­mo­ny about their ex­ot­ic tem­ples, bizarre habits and enor­mous fire-breath­ing atom­ic lizard­s.

Ob­vi­ous­ly this is not what peo­ple mean, in dai­ly us­age, when they say ex­is­tence, since it would in­clude things peo­ple are hap­py to say do not ex­ist, like Per­nese drag­on­s, pink ele­phants and Go­ji­ra. So, in a twist­ed way, maybe Gom­brich is right. Ex­cept of course that ex­is­tence is not a demo­crat­ic de­ci­sion. So maybe just peo­ple are wrong to say Go­ji­ra does­n't ex­ist.

Or maybe ex­is­tence is not a use­ful prop­er­ty for things. Maybe what we should use is re­al­i­ty. Be­cause while Go­ji­ra ex­ist­s, he is not re­al, in the sense that his ma­te­ri­al form is not that of a huge Tokio-s­tomp­ing man in a rub­ber suit. Even though there used to be a guy, dressed on a rub­ber suit, stomp­ing on a "Tokio", but I di­gress.

So, art is not re­al, may­be? Well, no, be­cause noone is claim­ing art has a phys­i­cal na­ture dis­tinct from that rep­re­sen­ta­tion it has in our head­s. Noone claims art is yel­low, small­er than a teapot, and cov­ered in pur­ple hair. Art is an ab­stract con­cep­t. And ab­stract con­cepts ex­ist.

So Gom­brich was full of shit.

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