Welcome to the Future


Welcome to the future, ladies and gentlemen. Here in the future, the obscure television shows of my childhood rate an entire section in the local bookstore, which combines books, games, music, movies, and even vinyl records with a coffeehouse and restaurant.


Here in the future, the heretofore unknown secrets of my discipline, artificial intelligence, are now conveniently compiled in compelling textbooks that you can peruse at your leisure over a cup of coffee.


Here in the future, genre television shows play on the monitors of my favorite bar / restaurant, and the servers and I have meaningful conversations about the impact of robotics on the future of labor.


And here in the future, Monty Python has taken over the world.

Perhaps that explains 2016.

-the Centaur

Getting it together

What you see there is my “working stack” at home … the piles of books for my most active projects. These include Dakota Frost (shelves to the left and right that you can’t quite see), Cinnamon Frost (middle shelf on the right, middle center shelf and others below), robotics at work (top shelf on the right), Thinking Ink Press (bottom visible shelf on the right and middle center shelf), Lovecraft studies (middle center shelf and top shelf on the left you can’t quite see), and general writing (above, below, all around).

I accumulate lots and lots of books – too many, some people think – but there’s a careful method to this madness, as most of these books are not recreational, but topical, filling out a library around things I’m trying to accomplish. This means that when I’m working on a problem on, say, a Cinnamon Frost novel, and get stumped, I can have the pleasant experience I had last night of glaring at a Wolfram MathWorld article, not finding all the info I needed, peering through the references … and finding that the references pointed to a book I had on the topic, right in the Cinnamon shelf (pictured above).

For a long time I was terrified of my own library. Well, not terrified, but I’d piled up and accumulated so much stuff that I couldn’t effectively use it. This has been accumulating since the days of my condo in Atlanta, which was approaching near gravitational collapse, but I’ve made two major pushes to clean up the library since I moved to California, which organized it usefully, as I’ve reported on previously, and since then two major pushes to clean up the files. I’ve still got a lot go go – you can see more piles below – but now I’ve got a better system for organizing paper, I am starting to develop a system to get things out of the library and back to used bookstores (slowly, grudgingly, occasionally) and … I actually find myself wanting to go in here again.

The piles are still scary, but now I’ve got a nice reading area set up, which I can lean back and be cozy in…

My current reading pile and art projects are intimidating, but now organized and useful and even attractive …

My cognitive science section has developed a cozy, hallowed feel, that makes me want to dig in more …

… and at last I once again have a workspace which makes me want to sit down and work, or write:

I can’t tell you how healthy that feels. I need to stay on top of that. But for now … time to get back to it.

-the Centaur

P.S. Yes, I do actually use all those computers and monitors, though the one on the far right is slowly getting replaced by the floating hoverboard of an iMac that is now struggling to supplant my MacBook Air as my primary computer (good luck, you’ll need it). For reference, there’s my ancient MacBook Pro on the left, which formerly served as my home server; the iMac that’s replacing it, hovering over the desk, a MacBook Air which is my primary computer, and the secondary keyboard and monitor for my old Linux workstation, which is about to be replaced because it’s not beefy enough for my experiments with ROS.

My Labors Are Not Ended

lenora at rest in the library

But I am going to take a rest for a bit.

Above you see a shot of my cat Lenora resting in front of the “To Read Science Fiction” section of my Library, the enormous book collection I’ve been accumulating over the last quarter century. I have books older than that, of course, but they’re stored in my mother’s house in my hometown. It’s only over the last 25 years or so have I been accumulating my own personal library.

But why am I, if not resting, at least thinking about it? I finished organizing the books in my Library.

lenora at rest in the library 2

I have an enormous amount of papers, bills, bric a brac and other memorabilia still to organize, file, trash or donate, but the Library itself is organized, at last. It’s even possible to use it.

How organized? Well…

Religion, politics, economics, the environment, women’s studies, Ayn Rand, read books, Lovecraft, centaur books, read urban fantasy, read science fiction, Atlanta, read comics, to-read comics, to-read science fiction magazines, comic reference books, drawing reference books, steampunk, urban fantasy, miscellaneous writing projects, Dakota Frost, books to donate, science fiction to-reads: Asimov, Clarke, Banks, Cherryh, miscellaneous, other fiction to-reads, non-fiction to-reads, general art books, genre art books, BDSM and fetish magazines and art books, fetish and sexuality theory and culture, military, war, law, space travel, astronomy, popular science, physics of time travel, Einstein, quantum mechanics, Feynman, more physics, mathematics, philosophy, martial arts, health, nutrition, home care, ancient computer manuals, more recent computer manuals, popular computer books, the practice of computer programming, programming language theory, ancient computer languages, Web languages, Perl, Java, C and C++, Lisp, APL, the Art of Computer Programming, popular cognitive science, Schankian cognitive science, animal cognition, animal biology, consciousness, dreaming, sleep, emotion, personality, cognitive science theory, brain theory, brain philosophy, evolution, human evolution, cognitive evolution, brain cognition, memory, “Readings in …” various AI and cogsci disciplines, oversized AI and science books, conference proceedings, technical reports, game AI, game development, robotics, imagery, vision, information retrieval, natural language processing, linguistics, popular AI, theory of AI, programming AI, AI textbooks, AI notes from recent projects, notes from college from undergraduate through my thesis, more Dakota Frost, GURPS, other roleplaying games, Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, more Dakota Frost, recent projects, literary theory of Asimov and Clarke, literary theory of science fiction, science fiction shows and TV, writing science fiction, mythology, travel, writing science, writing reference, writers on writing, writing markets, poetry, improv, voice acting, film, writing film, history of literature, representative examples, oversized reference, history, anthropology, dictionaries, thesauri, topical dictionaries, language dictionaries, language learning, Japanese, culture of Japan, recent project papers, comic archives, older project papers, tubs containing things to file … and the single volume version of the Oxford English Dictionary, complete with magnifying glass.

lenora at rest in the library 2

I deliberately left out the details of many categories and outright omitted a few others not stored in the library proper, like my cookbooks, my display shelves of Arkham House editions, Harry Potter and other hardbacks, my “favorite” nonfiction books, some spot reading materials, a stash of transhumanist science fiction, all the technical books I keep in the shelf next to me at work … and, of course, my wife and I’s enormous collection of audiobooks.

What’s really interesting about all that to me is there are far more categories out there in the world not in my Library than there are in my Library. Try it sometime – go into a bookstore or library, or peruse the list of categories in the Library of Congress or Dewey Decimal System Classifications. There’s far more things to think about than even I, a borderline hoarder with a generous income and enormous knowledge of bookstores, have been able to accumulate in a quarter century.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

-the Centaur

Lovecraft on Youtube

Yes, it’s apparently a hoax. But a good hoax:

There, in what appeared to be a 30s-era newsreel, was H.P. Lovecraft, uncomfortable and uneasy, gaunt and pasty, speaking in an educated 19th century New England accent, displaying socially awkward mannerisms, and sitting at a desk talking about his work. I’d read a lot about Lovecraft, and had never heard any mention of him ever having been filmed, but the illusion was so well done, that it had me thinking, just for a second, that somebody had dug up some long-lost footage of Lovecraft. It is part of this attention to detail, for example the use of material drawn directly from Lovecraft’s voluminous body of letters in the newsreel monologue that really places this portion of the film a cut above.

It sure sounded like him. That’s because the words were by him.

-the Centaur

Rise, Lolho the Squamous!

lenora and tachikoma

If the world didn’t have enough evil already, dedicated computer engineers have figured out how to put it on tap. Behold the terror that is the Lovecraftian Name Generator! Go on, click on it, see what I’m talking about.

Back? Ok, I admit, “Lolho” and “Ual’ke” aren’t the scariest Lovecraftian names. But it’s programmatic. You can create more than one. The current limit is 25, but by the unholy names of Anai, Bbhaaat, Bosaush, Cazagorarl, Ch-yos, H’eligthorteg, Han-dha, Ibhagugu, K’zaru, Kephoital, Mazazho, Mephangos, Mmililog,Nacharsar, Nali-yatl, Naquggo, Niquggolo, Phomasothugn, Ralellosaq, Rhub-harny, Rlakibha, Uga-urshu, Uggugakithu, Ygg-cyo and Yishotha, not even in Lovecraft’s coldest visions of an indifferent universe could he have imagined you’d be able to create an entire pantheon with the click of a button!

Even worse, that limit is no doubt arbitrary, designed to protect their computing infrastructure if not the fabric of space-time. A truly evil black-hatter could use a sequence of queries to generate matched sets of Cthulukin at the upper limit of the QPS (queries-per-second) their servers could handle! Hopefully they have some kind of DoS (Denial of Shoggoths) throttling on their servers to protect humanity. If not-

the mind reels.
-the Centaur