Beginnings II

17:45 (-0700 GMT)

It has been a good day. Sadly that is somewhat unusual for a holiday with my family. So often there is so much tension, so much reading between the lines of what everyone is saying to find something to be offended at or insulted about. But not so this Christmas. There were no theological discussions which I think was key. Perhaps we’re growing up. Perhaps its just me doing the growing up and abandoning my ego’s obligation to be upset. No matter, there were no words spoken in anger. Yeah!

On the science front, The crew of the Discovery completed their work on the Hubble Space Telescope and released the sattelite back into orbit. A job well done. Crew member Steve Smith commented the earth “… looks like an island in the ocean …”. Our pale blue planet, six days from an arbitrary calendar rollover that has many folks concerned. I don’t think much will happen. Some computers will make mistakes, but not many. Some people will do desparate things, but not many. I think things will be fine, though I have no insider knowledge and am certainly not prescient. Just a feeling. I just hope no one gets hurt.

Earlier about 09:40 (-0700 GMT) …

Much of the Western world calls this Christmas. It is also celebrated as the birthday of Mithras. When Constantine capitulated and brought the Roman empire into Christendom they moved the celebration of the birth of Jesus to three days after the solstice. But thats OK, I think it works better that way 🙂 It’s the appropriate place for the lunar deity, to be (re)born in the shadow of the Winter Solstice…

I’m celebrating with my family. I hope you all are filled with peace.

Amitofo, Hal


blivet /bliv’*t/ n.

(from the Jargon File)

[allegedly from a World War II military term meaning “ten pounds of manure in a five-pound bag”] 1. An intractable problem. 2. A crucial piece of hardware that can’t be fixed or replaced if it breaks. 3. A tool that has been hacked over by so many incompetent programmers that it has become an unmaintainable tissue of hacks. 4. An out-of-control but unkillable development effort. 5. An embarrassing bug that pops up during a customer demo. 6. In the subjargon of computer security specialists, a denial-of-service attack performed by hogging limited resources that have no access controls (for example, shared spool space on a multi-user system).

This term has other meanings in other technical cultures; among experimental physicists and hardware engineers of various kinds it seems to mean any random object of unknown purpose (similar to hackish use of frob). It has also been used to describe an amusing trick-the-eye drawing resembling a three-pronged fork that appears to depict a three-dimensional object until one realizes that the parts fit together in an impossible way.

discuss! This is a blivet. When you see this on any other page here, it is a link to the current topic in the discussion group.

My intent is for this to be an eclectic mix of science (I’m a professional archaeologist [MA, 2001, UNLV] and general science geek), topical observations (I read a lot – broadly and omnivorously), and Zen Buddhism (I’m an ordained Southern School Ch’an [Zen] Buddhist priest). If you’re really that curious about me, you can have a look at my university home page.

In the ever expanding attempt to reduce unsolicited commercial email I have removed the ‘mailto:’ urls. Kindly send email to gmail [dot] com using halrager. Not that I really think that this will result in less UCE, but kindly humor me in my delusion. Thanks.

"Zen is a path to nirvana, a magical mystery tour in which we turn our attention away from the chaotic opposites of right or wrong, good or evil, and meritoich we turn our attention away from the chaotic opposites of right or wrong, good or evil, and meritorious or unmeritorious action. By visualization, by sound, or perhaps by picking up a sutra’s line and tracing it back into its source… we go deeper into ourselves, into the magic and the mystery. We follow the inward path that leads into the Buddha’s Refuge; and, there, our back to the temporal opposites, couchant, in the tranquil Sanctuary, we repose in the Eternal One." Ming Zhen Shakya, ZBOHY

In true reflexive fashion this will probably resemble how things affect me (because it appears as though we’re separate), but my aim is to touch how things affect us (because we’re connected).

I’ve dabbled with Frontier through version 4.2.3 for several years, but never allowed myself to get very deep. I always figured I would get distracted from other things, like graduate school.

To Dave, everyone at UserLand, and the amazing user community ˜ thanks for Frontier, Manila, and Radio UserLand!

Occasionally you may see what appears to be comments in italics after some things. Like this! Dave Winer (who ultimately is responsible for all this Frontier and Manila stuff) refers to this as his “evil twin”. I’ve borrowed this (with love) for these pages. People who know me in the flesh know I carry on a running commentary with myself once in awhile. For myself, similar to Dave, this seems like a logical extension for the web. I’m finding it especially useful as I struggle to find my voice here. So that is what those italics represent, one of the voices of my ‘committee’. You know, those folks inside your head, in the back of the bus, that make comments and heckle the driver? don’t look at me that way, it’s normal I tell you! Sometimes they’re your friends, sometimes, well, not. Anyway, that’s who, and what, the italics are supposed to be for. Sort of a Herman’s Head thing (if you remember that TV show).


Welcome to my new site on EditThisPage.Com

  • This is my first Manilla home page, as yet untitled.
  • High profile science: 12/24/1999 During the third and final spacewalk of their mission Friday, space shuttle Discovery astronauts will install a new radio transmitter and data recorder, and hang steel shields on the Hubble Space Telescope’s exterior to protect it from the sun. The gyroscopes and the four on-board computers have already been replaced during two previous spacewalks.