jump to navigation

Latest Link Collection April 28, 2008

Posted by nukemhill in Uncategorized.
add a comment

Haven’t had a chance to really write the last few days.  Maybe tonight.  In the meantime, here’s a new link collection:

  • An argument made by the Heritage Foundation saying that the tax rate cuts in 1997 sent the economy into overdrive.  Interesting timing, as I heard Krugman on Bloomberg Radio a few days ago arguing that the tax hikes of ’93 were a counter argument to the Laffer Curve.  Heritage is saying that the tax rate hikes, in fact, were non-evidentiary of either slowing down or picking up the economy in that time frame, as we were coming out of a recession, and moving really according to what one would expect.  However, the tax rate cuts put through by the Republican Congress in ’97 were rocket fuel for the economy, and we saw a massive increase in collected taxes as a result.  Pretty interesting reading, and a positive argument for Laffer economic theory.  RTWT.
  • Wikipedia entry on Literate Programming, as originally proposed by Knuth.  I don’t think this is really anything revolutionary (especially since Knuth originally came up with the concept in 1981!).  I think this is the ideal any legitimate programmer would strive towards.  But that may just be me.
  • FusionIQRank.  Supposed to have a pretty solid track record of stock advise.
  • Hmm.  That’s it.  Haven’t been collecting as much lately.  Have to work on that….

In The Beginning April 23, 2008

Posted by nukemhill in Family.
1 comment so far

Ronald Howard Hill was born on July 29, 1929, in Gary, Indiana.  Starting his itinerant life early, he dragged his family with him West when he was only 6 months old.

I’m going to pause here and say that there are many blank spots in my father’s life.  Though he spoke of his history with me somewhat, and with my sister more extensively, there are many things that we simply don’t know about.  And when picking the brains of other relations, we get … sketchy answers back.  So, what I am going to relate here will be full of holes.  I’m hoping that my sister can address some of the gaps, but I make no promises.

Put simply–Dad had a rough life.  He had by no interpretation whatsoever a normal childhood.  By all accounts, he and his siblings (older brothers Dean and Everett; younger sister Janet) were taken from their parents at a very early age.  Grandpa Everett probably couldn’t even be considered a real father to the children.  He was an alcoholic, and abandoned the family early on.  Grandma Gwen, though she tried, couldn’t be much of a mother.  She was committed to a TB ward when dad was 3, and lost custody of all of the kids.  They were broken up, with Dad and Jan shipped off to a boarding school for many years.  This was in what today would be known as Silicon Valley, in Central California.  Back then, it was nothing but groves of fruit trees (oranges, I believe).  If I’m not mistaken, it was in Cupertino, very close to where Apple’s corporate headquarters are.

The proprietors of the boarding school were apparently quite keen on making sure that Dad and Jan knew that they were there only by the good graces of the State of California.  Nothing like showing a little love to the kids, eh?  I have a hard time, personally, not getting furiously mad at the abstract “Them” who treated my father so shabbily.  Worthless, pointless waste of energy, I know.  But I’ve always been incredibly protective of Dad.  Even when we were at our worst with each other.  I’ve wished many a time that I could have taken the pain of his life away from him, if only to provide some solace for him.  I know that he did an incredible amount of work on himself over the years–through therapy, self-help seminars, meditation, etc.–in an effort to purge his demons.  In the end, I don’t know how successful he was.  But we certainly had more peace between us.  That counts for something.

Tangents.  I’m off on tangents.

There’s some debate about this next part of his life, but according to him, when he was 12 or 13, he was “apprenticing” to a Japanese woman in California.  This supposedly meant that he was being cared for by her, and living with her.  If you do the math, you’ll see that this corresponds with the beginning of WWII.  And the internment camps for the Japanese-Americans.  If we have the story straight, she was able to leave the camp during the day to work, but she had to go back at night.  And he lived with her….

I’m horrified just writing about it.  The camps have always been problematic to me.  The added personal dimension makes it infinitely worse.  I can’t even get my head around it, really.

At some point after this, the family got back together.  It’s a little sketchy, as I’ve mentioned, but the kids were able to go back to Grandma Gwen.  However, at some point after this, Everett ran away.  He was apparently heavily into drugs and alcohol (sometimes the fruit really doesn’t fall far from the tree), and simply couldn’t deal with life.  Dad said at one point that he thought he saw Everett walking the streets of San Francisco many years later.  He was literally a tramp living on the streets, completely strung out.  I know Dad really loved Everett, as little time as they got to be with each other as kids.  Dad would talk about how free a spirit Everett was.  He sounded like a remarkable man.  I’m sorry I never had a chance to meet or know him.

Another tragedy with which Dad could not find reconciliation.

A few years later, Dad went off to college.  He attended Gonzaga University, in Spokane, WA.  At that time, he started living with his father, in an ill-fated attempt at rapprochement.  During his Junior year, they had a tremendous falling out, and Dad left, devastated with the bitterness between them.  He went to speak with a Catholic priest, and found God in the Church.  Shortly after that, he entered Mount Angel Abby as a Friar.  He began his studies to become a Monk in 1950, when he was 21 years old.  He was there for seven years.

To be continued….

Thoughts and Anecdotes April 21, 2008

Posted by nukemhill in Family.
add a comment

There will be many of these postings over the next days and weeks.  New remembrances keep popping up.  But first:

Dan Collins at Protein Wisdom posted a nice link to the Requiem.  He states:

I was unaware of this, but frequent commenter Nuke ‘m Hill has a post up about his dad, who died a couple of weeks ago.  He’s feeling the loss of consortium rather keenly, though our conversations with our fathers never really end, even if one has to play both sides of the chessboard. [bold mine]

Funny you should put it that way, Dan.  During the memorial service that my sister and I held for Dad, I said pretty much the same thing.  I noted how, over the years, I would always have conversations with Dad in my head, as he was always my moral compass.  I knew that, if I couldn’t win an argument with him, through fierce logic and passion, then I needed to reconsider my premises, because I was probably wrong.  Even though we strongly disagreed politically, I was deeply aware that he always came from a place of compassion and love for others.  If I couldn’t convince him (in my head or otherwise!) that I was right, then I needed to make sure that I was coming from the same place.

I could have worse role-models, to be sure.

*****

Funny Story #1:  Dennis Clausen, a former colleague and very close friend of Dad’s, came up for the memorial service.  After Amie and I spoke, we asked others to contribute anything they’d like, to give us all a deeper sense of who Dad was for them.  Some rather amusing stories came to light, especially from Dennis.

One story he related was about the first commencement exercise they attended together as professors at USD (University of San Diego).  This was back in Spring of ’73, I believe.  Dad was hired in Fall of ’71, and Dennis was hired in ’72, if I’m remembering my history correctly.

Anyway.  The commencement at USD is usually right around Memorial Day Weekend, so the weather in San Diego is beginning to warm up about then.  The ceremony was being held at an old theatre in downtown San Diego.  No air-conditioning, no ventilation, nothing.  Yuck.  Dennis, being originally from Minnesota, was averse to high heat and humidity.  Frigid cold?  No problem.  High heat?  Fuggedaboutit.  As he’s walking down the aisle of the theatre with the rest of the professors, he’s regretting the situation more and more.  Sitting in that oppressive heat for 2 hours looks like a horrifying prospect.

By the time they get to the back of the stage, he’s starting to mildly panic.  At that point, he notices a door by the steps, and makes a break for it.  As the professors in front of him take a right turn, he goes straight through the door, and out the back of the theatre.

Just before the door closes, however, someone else walks through.  Who?  Dad, of course.  Dennis asks him what he’s doing, and Dad’s reply?  “You looked like you had a better plan.  Mind if I join you?”  And thus a friendship is borne.

After disrobing, they proceed to walk around downtown for a while, until they see a sign for a billiards hall.  As Dennis is relating this part of the story, I can almost see the light bulbs going off over both of their heads!  As Dennis put it:  “We proceeded to play the first of perhaps 10 million pool games in our time together over the years.”

They spend the next couple of hours playing pool, drinking beer, and generally enjoying the pleasures of modern air conditioning.  At the point the ceremonies are due to finish, they don their caps and gowns, head back to the theatre, walk in the door, and begin mingling with the crowd that had formed with the completion of graduation.  “Beautiful ceremony, don’t you think?”  “Yes, quite the stirring commencement speech.”  Nobody was ever the wiser.

Dad and Dennis were thick as thieves.  I think Dennis probably saved Dad’s life after he and Mom divorced.  Dad was a lost soul throughout most of his life, and the friendship he and Dennis shared was nothing short of miraculous.  Dennis noted that when Mom and Dad divorced, Mom got the kids, and he got Dad.  That’s probably closer to the truth than most people realize.

Dennis, you’re mensch in every sense of the word.  God bless you.

Dad, Requiem (Part 1) April 20, 2008

Posted by nukemhill in Family.
6 comments

It’s been 2 1/2 weeks now, since he died.  I’ve been walking through life of late in an “Ignorant” space.  Not sure how else to put it.  I mostly go around, happily ignorant of his death.  I’m doing my thing, not connected to reality at all.  Just puttering around in my own little world.

And then there are times when his death just comes up and pounds me upside the head with a baseball bat.  Happened last night in bed, after we’d cleaned up the Pesach dinner. (“only” 26 people this year; must be some kind of record for us.  One year we had 33.)  I was lying there, just reminiscing over the evening, and thought about how interested Dad would be in the whole Seder meal.

Oops.  Past Tense.  Bam.  No tears, but a deep, painful ache.

It’s really the little things.  We can’t talk about the Padres or Chargers anymore.  We can’t cheer on the USD basketball team.  That was one of the things, actually, that indicated how far he had slipped.  Mark went to visit him to watch USD in the NCAA Tournament.  Apparently Dad didn’t care in the least that USD was in the process of beating UConn.  That was a real eye-opener for all of us.

I can’t call him and tell him that my boss has authorized the start of the program re-architect that I proposed just before we left for Vancouver.  I can’t tell him that I’ve been named Assistant Manager for Alexander’s baseball team.  I can’t tell him about the work that I’ve been doing on Alexander’s delivery, and the immediate improvement he’s showing.  Man, what a fastball!

I can’t remind him of how proud Amie and I are of him.  Of how brilliant he was; how dedicated he was to his students; how much he fought for what was right.  I can’t argue with him over politics, knowing that even though we fundamentally disagree on how, we still agree on why.  He was such a champion for the little guy.  He fought so hard to see injustices corrected.  Even though he was about as far-Left as anyone could be and not be considered a Socialist (whereas I, on the other hand, still consider myself something of a closet little-L libertarian), we still agreed that the government was broken.  Maybe for different reasons, but hey, I’ll take my victories where I can!

I can’t tell him that Alexander, completely unexpectedly, has been accepted into an acting school.  What a trip.  Talk about the apple not falling far from the tree.  He gets it from Liora and Dad.  Dad sure would be excited.  But I can’t call him up and let him know….

I can’t tell him, anymore, that he’s my hero.  I told him two days before he died.  I told him how much I admired his willingness to be a dragon slayer.  I told him that his legacy resides in the thousands of students he taught over the 30 years he was at USD.  Every student who walked out of his class at the end of the semester knew that much more about how to read a text; about how to write a composition that communicated effectively; about how and why to love poetry; about the magic of the English language.  I think he and Jeff Goldstein would have gotten along famously.  Jeff’s really big on Authorial Intent.  Dad was really big on “What does the text say?”  They both basically dismissed modern literary theory as so much mental masturbation.

We won’t be able to argue about politics anymore.  We won’t be able to argue about Global Warming anymore.  We won’t be able to discuss my writing anymore.  I won’t be able to share my latest crazy programming ideas with him anymore.  I won’t be able to brag about Liora’s workshops anymore, and how amazing they are.  I would have loved for him to be able to do one of them.  I would have died and gone to heaven myself if he’d been able to go all the way through Completion.  I think he would have seen his childhood (as brutal and painful as it was) in an entirely different light.  I wish he could have had that gift before he died.

Have I told you all lately how much I hate Parkinson’s Disease?  Like, to the core of my being.  With a white-hot passion.  If we could eradicate that disease from the planet, it would be a mitzvah beyond measure.  It destroyed the man that I truly loved.  It ravaged his body, and chewed up his mind.  That brilliant, keen, incisive, sharp, steel-trap of a mind.  The mind I never felt I could measure up to; that I aspired to.  I hated seeing that light fade away over the last few years.

And now it’s gone.

And I weep.

Update (20080421):  Not sure why, but the comments seem to be nuked.  I’m trying to figure it out.

Update the Second:  Comments are fixed now.  Had to unlock the vault.

Cloverfield – on DVD 4.22.08 April 20, 2008

Posted by nukemhill in Uncategorized.
add a comment
2 days until Cloverfield comes out on DVD. I’m hoping there is an extended DVD with lots of extras. I want to see what kind of backstory Abrams is willing to fess up to.

Cloverfield – on DVD 4.22.08

Post-Return Links April 12, 2008

Posted by nukemhill in Apple/AAPL, General Interest, General Programming, Investing, Math/Science, WoT.
1 comment so far

I’m planning on posting a rather extensive letter to Dad shortly, but in the meantime, I’ve got a collection of links I want to save for the future.

For your perusal:

  • Interesting training schedule for new joggers.  Got this from Omer on theaaplinvestor egroup.  I’ve started something like it on the treadmill.  We’ll see how it goes.
  • Couple of links to Robotics jobs:  1 & 2.  I need to meditate on these.
  • The iPhone Dev Center.  ‘Nuff said.
  • CrackerJacks fireworks club here in Reisterstown.  Link from Andy Webb of theaaplinvestor.  May hook up with them.
  • Broken Windows Fallacy.  Useful to know.  This may be relevant when discussing some of the Green technologies that are being bandied about as solutions to AGW.  I don’t know.
  • Scientists taking brain-boosting drugs.
  • Primer on Javascript 2.0.  Sounds really interesting.  Bringing true OOP to Javascript.
  • Youtube video on Laffer Curve, Part 1.  Links at site for parts 2 & 3.
  • What the Pentagon Report Missed, at Pajamas Media.  About the report on links between Saddam and Terrorists.  And, in spite of what the press mis-stated before the report was released, the report did describe extensive connections between Iraq and many different terrorist organizations.  Read the whole report, and then read the PJM article on even more extensive ties.
  • The Book Thing, in Baltimore.  Free book exchange.  Heard about this from Alicia.  Thanks, Alicia!!!
  • The Sun is Freaking Out!
  • Intelligent Options, also from Omer.  Supposed to be very high percentage of returns when playing different options markets, including futures on commodities.
  • eBook on Permissions on Leopard.