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Nutters.org

Index of All Nutter Documents

Complete list of Nutter documents (with descriptions) in reverse chronological order.

Category: constrained-rant
Author: The Famous Brett Watson
Date: 01-Dec-2004
Size: approx 14 KB

There are quite a few proposals to add specific new domain names into the root zone of the Internet's Domain Name System (beyond ".com" and recent additions like ".info"), In this article, I throw the traditional approach out the window, and consider the possibility of a domain name system with an inexhaustible supply of desirable names: a Domain Name Cornucopia.

Category: reactionary-rant
Author: The Famous Brett Watson
Date: 16-Aug-2004
Size: approx 15 KB

A critical analysis of an opinion piece published in BusinessWeek. Sometimes arguments are best met with counterarguments; at other times, arguments are best met with analysis which shows them to be a big steaming crock. This is one of the latter cases, and it's not pleasant.

Category: constrained-rant
Author: The Famous Brett Watson
Date: 18-Apr-2004
Size: approx 21 KB

Metaphysics is a grandiose undertaking, and so I hereby offer the field a suitably ambitious essay: my unified theory of everything, more or less. Actually, it struck me that a lot of the arguments in metaphysics arise from miscommunication and misunderstanding, which makes for a messy business. At the same time, I felt that most of the ideas being discussed would be clearer if they were expressed in terms of mathematical functions, and so my "grand theory of everything" takes the universe and describes it as a mathematical function. This is only meant to be a model, but I hope it to be a model which gives antagonistic views clearer terms on which to disagree. (This is a slightly revised version of the original essay, which was written in September 2003 for an undergraduate Metaphysics course.)

Category: constrained-rant
Author: The Famous Brett Watson
Date: 16-Jun-2003
Size: approx 24 KB

Paul Feyerabend was a noteworthy figure in twentieth century philosophy of science. After an early devotion to Karl Popper, he became disillusioned with the prevailing philosophy of science, eventually forming the view that it was a dogma, harmful to society and human liberty in general. His subsequent iconoclasm earned him much ire in the scientific and philosophical establishment (and a great deal of popularity with his students). Many people dismiss Feyerabend's philosophy out of hand, but I think his arguments deserve better than that. In this essay, I attempt to demonstrate that Feyerabend is not anti-science as such, but rather that he raises points which should be of concern to all scientists and philosophers of science.

Category: constrained-rant
Author: The Famous Brett Watson
Date: 16-May-2003
Size: approx 22 KB

In this, my first attempt at a "serious" philosophy essay, I investigate Immanuel Kant's classification of certain judgments as "synthetic, a priori". This classification is key to his analysis of human cognition. What are the special properties of this class of judgments, and do they have the significance he ascribes them?

Category: constrained-rant
Author: The Famous Brett Watson
Date: 11-Apr-2003
Size: approx 10 KB

If you wanted to find evidence for the proposition that "all ravens are black", you'd go and examine some ravens, right? The logician, Carl Hempel, addressed this question at one time, and came up with an answer which defies common sense. In this essay, I determine empirically that logic does, in fact, defy common sense, and then attempt to reconcile the two a little.

Category: constrained-rant
Author: The Famous Brett Watson
Date: 19-Mar-2003
Size: approx 15 KB

Spammers usually have one simple motive: greed. They're trying to scam money out of you, or sell you something, or both. In this anecdote, I describe a brush with one such ordinary greed-based spam, and then give a detailed report on my first (and hopefully last) experience with spam that's motivated by something else: wrath.

Category: reactionary-rant
Author: The Famous Brett Watson
Date: 12-Jan-2002
Size: approx 13 KB

People have often objected to the conclusion of "The Mathematics of Monkeys and Shakespeare". In this rant, I respond to points raised by one such objector, and also pass comment on certain general truths about the way these arguments tend to evolve (if you'll pardon the pun).

Category: constrained-rant
Author: The Famous Brett Watson
Date: 01-Dec-2001
Size: approx 11 KB

This is a submission to the World Intellectual Property Organisation's essay competition, the theme of which is, "what does intellectual property mean to you in your daily life?" Read on to discover how having rights can be a right royal pain.

Category: constrained-rant
Author: The Famous Brett Watson
Date: 27-Oct-2001
Size: approx 23 KB

The problem of two or more parties signing a contract over a communications network like the Internet is an interesting issue that has been discussed in cryptographic literature to some degree. In this rant, the author suggests that two previous (unrelated) proposals can be combined in such a way that the resulting hybrid offers the best features of both.

Category: white-noise
Author: The Famous Brett Watson
Date: 10-Sep-2001
Size: approx 14 KB

A poem written as an exercise in visual imagery. Six scenes are described, using poetic devices to add depth and beauty to the images. The author also makes comment on some of the techniques employed and how successful the overall effect is.

Category: reactionary-rant
Author: The Famous Brett Watson
Date: 31-Aug-2001
Size: approx 14 KB

A critique of Ronald Rivest's lottery ticket micropayment system. The lottery ticket system is compared with its deterministic counterparts, then examined in the light of what's needed in a practical sense in a micropayment system.

Category: white-noise
Author: The Famous Brett Watson
Date: 28-Jun-2001
Size: approx 17 KB

Some observations about the "Seven Deadly Sins": what it means for a sin to be deadly, and distinguishing features of each sin.

Category: reactionary-rant
Author: The Famous Brett Watson
Date: 21-May-2001
Size: approx 10 KB

Forrester Research has released a report in which they make the bold assertion that the days of the World Wide Web are numbered. I take the opportunity to rant a little not only about why this is wrong, but also about the mentality that I think brought them to that conclusion in the first place.

Category: random-rant
Author: The Famous Brett Watson
Date: 03-May-2001
Size: approx 10 KB

The author of the ShareSniffer program read the random rant I wrote on that subject and was moved to ask me for suggestions on how he might "solidify ShareSniffer's presence". This rant, which contains my response, is primarily a discussion of the market perils faced by ShareSniffer (and other random upstarts like it), along with some small suggestions as to how those perils can be met.

Category: reactionary-rant
Author: The Famous Brett Watson
Date: 20-Mar-2001
Size: approx 29 KB

John Gilmore, a widely-respected veteran of the Internet, has had his mail server blocked by his ISP because it was an open relay. He calls this censorship, and is protesting the move. So is an "acceptable use policy" a form of censorship?

Category: random-rant
Author: The Famous Brett Watson
Date: 27-Feb-2001
Size: approx 9 KB

"Peer to Peer" is a popular buzzword at the moment. I've been largely ignoring it (and its current poster-child, Napster) until now. And even now the thing that has attracted my attention is not the concept of peer to peer itself, but just about every other aspect of a new program that calls itself "Peer to Peer". Copyright and its enforcement comes into play as well, of course.

Category: brown-paper
Author: The Famous Brett Watson
Date: 28-Jul-2000
Size: approx 76 KB

This is the long-awaited (by the author, at least) followup to the original Mathematics of Monkeys and Shakespeare. Discusses (in more depth than you could possibly ever want to know) the mathematics of getting monkeys to produce a useful typewritten work. Heavy duty mathematics is made as light and readable as possible, but you'll have to judge for yourself how successful the author has been in that regard.

Category: random-rant
Author: The Famous Brett Watson
Date: 12-May-2000
Size: approx 13 KB

A semi-coherent explanation as to what this site is all about, in theory if not in practice.

Category: brown-paper
Author: The Famous Brett Watson
Date: 10-Feb-1999
Size: approx 71 KB

Was originally intended to be a constrained rant, but wound up looking at the issue from so many angles, that I might as well call it a paper. This is not your average rant on the evils of proprietary software, but rather a look at the differing attitudes that proponents of free software have towards their cause. Asks questions of broader intellectual property issues also. If nothing else, this paper gave the author a good excuse to communicate with a number of free software luminaries (and quote them).

Category: tall-story
Author: The Famous Brett Watson
Date: 30-Aug-1998
Size: approx 8 KB

A fake news article on a training company that has discovered a successful new concept in Windows training courses. The author was feeling very annoyed with Microsoft at the time. I don't know how funny people find it in the general case -- it hasn't generated much feedback, and I don't think anyone has linked to it.

Category: constrained-rant
Author: The Famous Brett Watson
Date: 13-Dec-1995
Size: approx 12 KB

An oldie, but very popular. Has been cited as a reference in RFC2795, a fact which inspires far more pride in the author than it should, given that the RFC in question is an April Fools' Day joke. This document conducts a brief mathematical feasibility study of the idea that a monkey could type Hamlet, or at least a phrase from Hamlet. The answer may surprise you.