The All-Thing

Formerly "William Hates Blogs"

月夜憶舍弟 (杜甫)


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Thu, 28 Aug 2003

Achilles's other name

What song the Sirens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women though puzzling questions, are not beyond all conjecture.

— Sir Thomas Browne, Dedication to Urn-Burial (referring to the questions of Emperor Tiberius to his professors of Greek literature)

My friend posed the question about Achilles to her classics-educated sister, after having heard me recite the above quote thrice in a single day, and she said, 'Pyrrha':

The name Pyrrha is most likely derived from Pausanius' account of Achilles hiding, where he refers to a son that Achilles had with Deidamia as Pyrrhus. The name Pyrrha was the feminine version of the son's name and there is a general trend in ancient literature to use the feminine or masculine version of a name belonging to a son, mother, friend, etc. when the actual name of their associate is not mentioned or known. (Note that the son is also referred to by several other names, depending on who you read, so even the name Pyrrhus is spurious.)

From Pausanius:

"When Achilles was nine years old, Calchas declared that Troy could not be taken without him; so Thetis, foreseeing that it was fated he should perish if he went to the war, disguised him in female garb and entrusted him as a maiden to Lycomedes. Bred at his court, Achilles had an intrigue with Deidamia, daughter of Lycomedes, and a son Pyrrhus was born to him, who was afterwards called Neoptolemus. But the secret of Achilles was betrayed, and Ulysses, seeking him at the court of Lycomedes, discovered him by the blast of a trumpet. And in that way Achilles went to Troy."

Other versions of the story of Achilles hiding are told in Apollodorus 3.13.8, Ovid Metamorphoses XIII 162, and Statius Achilles i 247.

A contact of hers referred us to Hyginus' Fabula 96, kindly translating the Latin for us:

"Thetis, the Nereid, since she knew that her son Achilles, whom she had by Peleus, if he went to sack Troy, would die, delivered him to the island Skyros, to King Lycomedes, whom he (Achilles) served in feminine garb among his unmarried daughters, with his name having been changed; for the maidens called him Pyrrha, since he had sandy-colored hair and in Greek, red head (or blonde) is 'pyrrhon'."


There is also a reference to Sidonius Apollonaris (Carmen 9.138), but I couldn't find a text of that in short order, so I gave up. Either way, both of these sources are fairly late Roman so the name Pyrrha is not classical.

So there you have it. A great mystery resolved.

13:53 | /myth | One comment | permalink

Predictive response caching

I just noticed that I've started preemtively typing in replies when I chat with certain people on aim (and by the way, let me point out that I never thought they day would come when I'd be regularly using a service with a name starting in AOL). So I'll ask a question, e.g.

  me: jesus christ, could you stop being a dumbass for just one second?

and while waiting for the actual reponse, i'll start typing in my witty reply, such that when they finally respond, i'm able to reply with blinding quickness and great wit:

them: no
  me: ho ho! always the dullness of the fool is the whetstone of the wits,
      fo shizzle.

which makes for some very quick conversations.

13:07 | /internet | (leave a comment) | permalink

Mon, 25 Aug 2003


Been having random headaches for the past few months that usually occur on weekends or on Monday morning. Now some of them are definitely hangovers or sinus-related, but I've been doing some experiments and I suspect the majority are caffeine withdrawal headaches. I drink a fair amount of tea during weekdays and generally no caffeine over the weekend.

Does it make sense that they would appear within a day or two? Would I have to be consuming brobdingnagian amounts of caffeine for this to happen, or what?

14:26 | /misc | (leave a comment) | permalink

Cool Watch

Me likey.


Isn't that cool? Others here.

13:15 | /internet/links | (leave a comment) | permalink

William Antivirus

I have an idea for an anti-virus program I'm considering suggesting at work, where we've been hit fairly hard by a virus or two recently. I suspect it will be both cheaper and far more effective than Norton Antivirus or other software.

The program consists of three components:

  1. A mockup of the email software regularly used by employees, with, say, 100 messages in the inbox. Some of the messages contain attachments, and some of the attachments are executables.
  2. A supervisor.
  3. A stick.

During the course of the program, employees will sit in front of the mockup (1) and go through all 100 messages. The supervisor (2) will stand behind them. Each time they click on an executable attachment, the supervisor will hit them on the head with the stick (3). All other times, the supervisor will be still.

I predict that 99% of computer virus problems will be solved within a day.

11:19 | /computing | (leave a comment) | permalink

Penny Arcade

I can't decrypt any of the game lingo at all, but any comic that publishes something like this is my kind of comic. Olive Garden??? Wtf.

So that's solution to my weekend boredom that I'm seriously considering (buying an Xbox, I mean, not a Gamecube). My theory has always been "I should be practicing or reading or some shit rather than playing video games" but seriously, what am I, fucking Gandhi or something?

09:27 | /internet/links | (leave a comment) | permalink

Sun, 24 Aug 2003


This weekend was a perfect example of why I hate weekends. What the hell do normal people do for 48 plus hours? Because I mainly just sit around at home going crazy.

Friday night I went to a late late party. I was dead tired and fell asleep at 10pm but dragged myself back up when friends stopped by, reasoning that since the party was literally across the street I should at least give it a shot. So I went and stood around and tried to talk to people once or twice but mostly just stood around staring at the cute girls and not having anything to say. Everyone else seemed to know one another and most of my friends left early, so eventually I got bored and went back home to go to bed.

Saturday I went to the beach with more friends. Actually the first half of the day was waiting around for my housemate, who was supposed to join us but had mysteriously disappeared, sans cellphone. Finally we decided to ditch her and got to the beach around 3pm. It was actually a nice beach—not the fantastic tropical paradise of southern Taiwan, but the water was warm and clear and the sand was soft.

The good ol' days

So I guess Saturday was alright, despite somehow managing to lose my cellphone.

But today, today was the kicker. Today I sat around the house. Did some laundry. Practiced. Rechristened the blog. Had a thrill of excitement flushing my mail queue of two messages that had been frozen since December 2001 and seeing them appear in my inbox. Sat around some more until I got so stir-crazy that I finally forced myself shower, shave and go outside despite not having any destination whatsoever.

I walked down to Central Square and the lo, the Cambridge Carnvial was there, which was mildly interesting. Lots of competing Jamaican-style mobile sound systems pumping out basslines to the streets. I bought some crappy and amazingly-overpriced stall food and then sat down on the benches for an hour and fed the fucking pigeons like a fucking old man, trying to decide what to do with my life.

Finally at 6pm things started to pick up a bit. Got a really nice email from a very good friend I don't have a lot of contact with. Saw someone random on the way home from the grocery store and stopped to chat. And the day is getting late and soon I can wake up to the blissful busy-ness that is a weekday....

19:11 | /mortal | (leave a comment) | permalink

The All-Thing

In case you hadn't noticed, the anti-blog is now the All Thing. (Cf. Dan Simmon's Hyperion, which is perhaps based on Um Alþingi ?)

Also let me state for the record that with Apache's mod_proxy and mod_rewrite it is so easy and so painless to restructure things arbitrarily while still preserving historical URIs. And to think, in the olden days we used to map URLs directly to specific machines and filesystem components.

10:52 | /meta | (leave a comment) | permalink

Thu, 21 Aug 2003

Search referers

Wrote another Blosxom plugin to display recent searches that point to the anti-blog. I'm sure this probably exists already, but it was pretty trivial to write. It does something very neat, which I haven't seen before: each query links to the original search results page, so you can see exactly how people ended up here.

You can see this all on the sidebar on the left. The source code is available.

Man, people sure do search for some weird shit. If you're in Finland and you search for cs-babes on Google, you get the anti-blog. If you're in Taiwan and you search for man's anus hair, the anti-blog is #2. Jesus.

11:38 | /meta | (leave a comment) | permalink

Elections, California-style

Just a great picture. (From the Yahoo Most Popular News Photos site).

carey and coleman

Yahoo caption: [Mary] Carey is seen with candidate Gary Coleman at a press conference in Los Angeles August 15.

09:59 | /politics | (leave a comment) | permalink

Wed, 20 Aug 2003

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

I can't give a really good review of this because I was jet-lagged and having trouble staying awake for most of the latter half, but there are three brief scenes I really remember enjoying in this movie:

  1. Bogey not being able to put on his hat after the haircut.
  2. The conversation between Bogey and the anonymous rich American when he's asked to give Bogey a peso for the third time in one day. Bogey admits that he never looked at his face the previous two times, only at his shoes and at his clothes. He gives Bogey an extra peso and requests, very politely, that he learn to support himself in life without his assistance.
  3. Howard's expression as he lies in the hammock and the Indian girl leans close to him and lights his cigar.

10:14 | /media/movies | (leave a comment) | permalink

Tue, 19 Aug 2003

Language Modeling for Information Retrieval

Whoohoo, just received a complementary copy of my book. Ok ok, I just contributed to one chapter; it's not really mine. Still, it's pretty cool to have a hardback publication.

UPDATE 8/24/03: realized I had a link already for purchasing this book directly from Kluwer. The advantage is that they list the table of contents and you can verify I'm really there. :)

15:21 | /books | (leave a comment) | permalink

Sun, 17 Aug 2003

I'm back

And very tired and very jet-lagged. The air travel aspect of the trip has been extremely exhausting—a result of the power outage, I imagine, as the ex-strandees all try to get home alongside me.

I had a good time and decided I wanted to write a bit about the experience but I'm a little burned out now. Maybe I'll have the motivation to write in a few days time.

For now, I do have pictures for you to enjoy.


23:53 | /misc | (leave a comment) | permalink

Mon, 11 Aug 2003

Greets from South Africa

I have spent the last week in the dark heart of Africa without electricity and obviously without internetivity. And now sit behind the hell that is severely time-lagged vi to say: please hold, and the much of a muchness will resume in a week when I return.

05:34 | /misc | (leave a comment) | permalink


Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. -- Mark Twain