kirk.is | archive | 2006 feb

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(or say a thousand billion)

(10 comments)
February 1, 2006
Poetry of the Moment
When I behold the charm
of evening skies, their lulling endurance;
the patterns of stars with names
of bears and dogs, a swan, a virgin;
other planets that the Voyager showed
were like and so unlike our own,
with all their diverse moons,
bright discs, weird rings, and cratered faces;
comets with their streaming tails
bent by pressure from our sun;
the skyscape of our Milky Way
holding in its shimmering disc
an infinity of suns
(or say a thousand billion);
knowing there are holes of darkness
gulping mass and even light,
knowing that this galaxy of ours
is one of multitudes
in what we call the heavens,
it troubles me. It troubles me.
--Jimmy Carter, "Considering the Void". This site has a video of him as well. I think this poem is kind of interesting response to what was started when the Heliocentric model of the solar system began to take hold.

bok bok bakok!

(2 comments)
February 2, 2006
So....next week I'm in Washington D.C., baby!

Oh, and lest I forget... here's how to Celebrate Groundhog Day. I've always loved this day, even before the movie that goes along with it.

Gross Education of the Moment
How a Hen Lays Her Egg...a lot of detail. A little gross in a too-much-detail kind of way, but interesting. (via Candi.)

Man... that can't tickle.

Speculation of the Moment
Finally, many readers weighed in on the topic of why time seems to accelerate as we age. Don Scott suggested, "When we are younger, each unit of passing time is fractionally larger. One year of my 16-year-old daughter's life is 1/16th of her total life span, while one year of my life is 1/46th, which is why it seemed to her to take forever to get her driver's license, and it seems to me like I just got mine." He adds, "At least for us older readers it will seem like no time before the 2006 season starts." Deanna Julich of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, similarly supposed, "As we age, each year seems to pass faster because it becomes a smaller percentage of the life already lived. When you're four, a year is 25 percent of your life, so it feels like a long time. When you're 25, like I am, a year is four percent of the life you've lived. When you're 63, a year is only 1.58 percent of your life. Each unit of time seems to go by faster because it shrinks as a portion of your life." Barry Fox of Helena, Mont., adds, "To a three-year-old, living until the fourth birthday requires living 33 percent of their entire life span again. To a 60-year-old the same year represents less than two percent of life span. The 60-year-old would need to live to 80 to pass through 33 percent of life span again -- and that too would seem like quite a long time." Don Kemler of Alkmaar, the Netherlands, supposes it's not the passage of time but changes in the supply we are sensing: When there's a lot of your own life ahead, time seems plentiful and when there's less ahead, time seems scarce. Sean Thompson of Burton, Ohio, supposes that with each passing year, we have more memories; the memories get stacked and squeezed in our brains and hence seem closer together. Douglas Harms of Hollywood, Calif., supposes, "As we grow older, we gain more responsibilities and unavoidable nuisances that must be dealt with; nothing makes valuable time disappear faster than a set of dodge-proof chores." Greg Miskin of Bellevue, Wash., suggests time seems to accelerate because we become accustomed to its passage: "The first occasion you drive to a new location seems to take a long time. Subsequent trips pass more quickly. This can be attributed to the amount of attention paid during the first trip that is not required afterward. During the first run, we don't know what is important so we pay attention to everything. After the first time, the mind only needs to keep track of the few significant landmarks. Much of life is this way." Ken Leiphart of Camp Hill, Pa., supposes, "Time drags when you are a kid because you can't wait to grow up, then flies when late in life because you'd much rather not get older."

That last speculation gets, I fear, to the core of the matter. When we're young, we want time to speed up and therefore it crawls. When we're old, we want time to slow down and therefore it flies. Nature's revenge is giving us the opposite of our wish. My 10-year-old, Spenser, cannot wait for VI:XXXVIII Eastern on Sunday and the start of the Super Bowl -- he says it's taking much too long. From my perspective, kickoff will come all too soon.

--Tuesday Morning Quarterback's Reader Animadversion. Some neat theories in there I thought.

peace be upon him

(33 comments)
February 3, 2006
Golly, I'm feeling pretty stressed these days.

I have to wonder if I miscalculated with my new job, or if it maybe it's some kind of growing pains. Originally I liked the idea of travelling to clients, it seemed like a way of checking out different parts of the country, and generally a good skillset to have career toolbox. But...ugh, something about it isn't right for me. It's kind of like the pressure of a new job repeated in a more condensed form, all the unknown expectectations lurking in the corners again and again. Clients can be painfully aware of what they're being charged for your services in an hourly kind of way, and so unless you're really an expert in the task at hand, you have to fake it. And I'm not terrific at faking it, the geek sin of preferring directness over spin coming to haunt me.

It's a challenging role. While I think I'm a smart guy, and I'm getting to know our product well, I'm also asked to achieve results quickly in platforms that are new to me, and I guess I've always been a guy preferring to do things from scratch in a language I know inside and out than apply another new toolkit.

Some of it might be a particularly pushy and demanding client my first time out... this trip to Washington DC is with a much better known quantity to my company, a long relationship with friendly people. Still, I'm almost wondering what I'm going to be doing there for a full damn week...I mean I assume some of that is just getting started on work that could theoretically be done back at the home office, because I think afew days is going to exhaust what I'm bringing to the table. (Luckily there will be a veteran from my company there for the first two days, just like Texas was with two other guys.)

Heh, I remember back in 2000, there was this consultant from the big Java company BEA...call him Joe. Joe knew about EJB, and could show us that (even though it was probably too late in the project for us to switch to that technology (thank goodness, but that's a different story)) but seemed to be kind of fumbling in most other things. I'm really worried about coming across as another Joe.

And that worry...I'm getting a fair-sized stress reaction, "stomach" upset, tightness in my lower back, some sleeplesness. I don't know at what point I should be worried for my health with this...I'm half tempted to go buy a blood pressure monitor just to make sure I'm not doing too badly in that department. My family noticed darker rings under my eyes...

...and it's tough to know what part of that stress reaction is justified, and how much is just circular logic. I think there are logical reasons to feel more confidence than I generally do in many of these cases (but not all! Which makes it tougher.) I almost wish I could find courage in some kind of convenient pill form. Prozac Nation or what not. But then there's a part of my that rails against that kind of thinking, that good old will-power and/or logic and/or some sort of environment change can get me out of this funk.

Some aspect of it too seems to be the Winter, S.A.D.-lite. In a way I hadn't observed in myself before, I generally just want to sleep. It's hard to tell how much of that is seasonal, how much is from some stress-y nights of less sleep, or what. It's starting to irritate Ksenia though.

I have no idea if it's even an option, but Mr. Ibis (I think) once mentioned his company is hiring, down in Florida. I get weird fantasies of moving down there and having a "perfect" sunny life for a while, even though it's not like he's not working hard at his job there too. (I've worked at companies with him before, he's a lot of fun.) I know this outlook is just escapism, a total denial about how stressful a big move would be, completely missing the point of how many people I'd be leaving behind, especially my family, Ksenia, old school friends...in exchange for being in close proximity with two or maybe three close buddies. And the sunlight. In a cultural...well, maybe not a wasteland, but it ain't Boston either.

So it's a learning time for me. Maybe I'm learning I like bigger companies that don't ratchet up the pressure quite so much. On the other hand I know at those companies I can start to drift and not get enough work done. (On the other other hand... we only get one life, if you can mitigate a 9-5 job by pursuing slackish asides...maybe that's a bit of a blessing. Albeit one you don't want to rely on too much.)

Oy.

Observations and even advice welcome.

News of the Moment
So there's that big flap over some cartoons depicting Mohammed in Europe. I know I'm at risk of being culturally insensitive here, but it just seems so odd... They say that for some sects, any likeness is forbidden, though it would be disenguous to say that the pointed satirical nature of the cartoon isn't adding a lot of fuel to the fire. I mean it's not like there's anyway it could actually look like the prophet, given that it's forbidden to reproduce his image for so long. (Which would indicate that a stickfigure with an arrow saying "this is him" might be problematic.) Theoretically the taboo arises from the need to prevent idolatry, though in practice it doesn't sound like the masked gunmen are really concerned the faithful will begin worshipping a cartoon.

Then again, "sacredness" is not a concept that I generally have a strong intuitive feel for, so maybe I should leave the topic alone.

mind-controlled zombies

(7 comments)
February 4, 2006
Thanks for all the feedback and support yesterday.

I've been thinking more about when in my life I lost this baseline optimism of "chances are things will work out alright." Googling my own site for a reference I realized I a long but fairly cohesive ramble about this last April, and much of what I would have said now I said then.

Going solo as a consultant (but as a co-worker pointed out, I'm not totally alone; part of my hourly rate is access to my company as a resource through me) still makes me very edgey. It probably points to several character flaws in me: I'm very recognition/reward driven when you get right down to it, and petrified of being the guy "screwing things up". The unknowns, then, of consulting gigs, especially when I'm having to play catch up with some of the technologies, is nervewracking.

And then there's those rings under my eyes...I've noticed that I seem more likely to have problems putting complex thoughts into speech lately, though I'm not sure if I'm just more aware of it now, or if it could be related to not getting enough sleep, or if it's, you know, rapidly degenerating mental facilities, probably from whatever carpet shampoo they use in my new office or something. But the sleep thing is a real possibility: my anxieties have produced some very elaborate...not quite nightmares, but strange, technology-themed haunting patterns. I realize that my subconscious brain has invented a whole new computer scripting language syntax, and so I get the fun of half of my half-awake brain fretting how it has to accept that it doesn't get what the other half is generating, because it's labeled the new stuff as the technology for work. And another time I think my brain mapped the layout of comforters on my bed into an intractable programming issue.

It's that kind of stuff that makes me wonder if I should look for some kind of medication... I dislike the idea, and am nervous about addiction, but being somewhat sleepless over stuff like this can't be useful to me.

Technology of the Moment
Speaking of being alone, my company's development crew tend to use AOL Instant Messenger. The trouble is many companies we travel to block it on their network. So I have high hopes for meebo flying under the radar for some time -- it's a web-based UI to AIM, MSN, Gtalk/Jabber, and Yahoo. Being able to reach out to my co-workers back at the ranch is mightily reassuring, even though I don't want to be too dependent on it.

Link of the Moment
--back to the part of kisrael that isn't all-Kirk, all-the-time... the story of this wasp that turns Roaches into mind-controlled zombies so that it can lay its eggs in them is captivatingly horrifying.


Quote of the Moment
"The real problem with having mind-controlled zombies as my servants is that it's tough to get up a really sincere-sounding round of cheers when I've come up with a plan I think is worth cheering."
--Maximus, X-Factor

there's always room for...

(2 comments)
February 5, 2006
So I'm off to D.C. I preset the week with a daily quote and image, the images I picked out of Cellar.org's Image of the Day a long while back.

Atheism Quote of the Moment
"Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-O...."
--Penn Jilette, via this Slate piece. I don't know if it's as clearly an either-or as he implies, and I'm sure many would argue quite the contrary, but still.

Fun Links of the Moment
Via Bill the Splut, the 100 Best First Lines from Novels and then a quicker read, Spider-man, Dr. Moreau and a werewolf watch the State of the Union.

d to the c day 1

(3 comments)
February 6, 2006
In DC. Quick hits about the trip:
  • It was a bit after sunset when the plane left, so we spent the first part of trip heading south towards just the tiniest bit of orange sunset on the horizon, though of course never reaching it. Something about that made me a little melancholy.
  • It was JetBlue that has DirectTV embedded into each seatback; they made a special deal to pipe in the Superbowl which was on at the time. It was kind of a dichotomy, having the usual visceral response to the football players hurling themselves at each other on the tiny screen kind of blocking a typical visceral response to a bumpy final descent.
  • With apologies to Mr. Dulles and the Dulles family, "Dulles" is a terrible name for an airport. (Dulles was Secretary of State under Dwight D. Eisenhower. Figures.) Check out that link for the "mobile lounge" concept, these odd shuttle buses that can raise themeselves to match a high floor height and than lower themselves for the drive...
  • You can see the top 1/4 or so of the Washington Monument from my hotel room, and judging by the flag the hotel overlooks the embassy of Columbia. And speaking of the Hilton Washington Embassy Row...so the "executive suites" are so great that you have to insert your key to get up to the right floor, why are the still dinging us an extra $12 for WiFi in the rooms? Jerks.
Quote of the Moment
"Whatever you are, be a good one."
--Abraham Lincoln

Image of the Moment
--from the Cellar, Underwater Nuclear Test.


d to the c day 2

(3 comments)
February 7, 2006
Quote of the Moment
"Truly great madness cannot be achieved without significant intelligence."
--Henrik Tikkanen

Image of the Moment

--via the Cellar, Massive debris-clearing robot from Japan. Real mecha!

d to the c day 3

(2 comments)
February 8, 2006
So everything is going pretty well for me in DC. Tonight I have dinner with my Aunt Ruth, her son Scott, and his wife Sandy... I haven't talked politics with them in a while, though I think they're pretty hardcore Red-Staters. Still, it's family and it's been too long since we've been together (pretty much not since my grandmother passed away 5 years ago.) Besides everything else, I think I really appreciate them as a kind of tangental link to my dad.

Quote of the Moment
"The brighter you are, the more you have to learn."
--Don Herold

Image of the Moment
--from The Cellar, One of the World's Hairiest Men


d to the c day 4

(10 comments)
February 9, 2006
Washington DC Fun Fact: Iced Coffee just isn't that popular around here. The Krispy Kreme has it, but they don't have it much in their morning workflow, by the looks of it.

I wonder...is it a regional thing? If so, is it more unusual that New England likes it, or that this area doesn't?

Quote of the Moment
"You can only drink 30 or 40 glasses of beer a day, no matter how rich you are."
--Colonel Adolphus Busch

Image of the Moment
--via the Cellar, Iraqi Firefighters fighting a pipeline fire


d to the c day 5

(6 comments)
February 10, 2006
Quote of the Moment
"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."
--Carl Sagan

Image of the Moment
--via the Cellar, fish in a blender. Where is the love, people? (Get it, love... blender... wheeee)


just don't die stinky

(2 comments)
February 11, 2006
Video of the Moment
I think I mentioned I saw some of the Super Bowl, including many of the commercials. One of the coolest was that Degree Deoderant Stunt City spot...that link has the much funnier Director's Cut. The thing is, I'm a little wary of their tag line. I'm already a bit wary of the prospect of my deoderant's aluminum gradually seeping into my mind and making me forget my own zip code, so the prospect of "3X The Protection, For Men Who Take Risks" really isn't that enticing.

Video of the Other Moment
Speaking of men who weren't afraid to take risks... David Hasselhoff Is Hooked On a Feeling. Wow... now I think I understand why Germans LOVE David Hasselhoff. (I have first hand evidence of it, seeing the guy airbrushed on top of the bumper cars at a local carnival.)

Realization of the Moment
"We're Russian so we like the cold...and Jewish, so we like to suffer."
--Ksenia and I recreating the logic behind why the "Synoguge School" she teachers art at tends not to close for bad weather (Tomorrow being an unusual exception.)

snooooooooooooooooooow

(8 comments)
February 12, 2006
Random kisrael.com thought...I'm trying to remember what made me select "three days" as the standard to display on the kisrael.com frontpage. What would be the impact of upping that, maybe to 5, or 7? The page might be a little slower to load, but...I dunno, would the site seem more "serious" somehow? Five seems like it might be good.

UPDATE: decided to go with five for now. Let me know what you think. At least with this many I don't have to worry so much about the main content being shorter than the sidebar!

I realize I can't really look at my sight site (thanks FoSO) objectively, I really don't know how it looks to someone seeing it for the first time, or even to a regular reader.

Which brings us to the first link...

Link of the Moment
Current Style in Web Design. I wish I was better at codifying, and then acting on, what makes a site look professional. This essay does a good job of isolating some features (some of which this site has, I think)
  • Simple layout
  • 3D effects, used sparingly
  • Soft, neutral background colours
  • Strong colour, used sparingly
  • Cute icons, used sparingly
  • Plenty of whitespace
  • Nice big text
I wonder when Love Blender will need an overhall. I think Lupschada did a great job with it back in the day, but now it's a bit cluttered. Plus, she hates me.

maybe a bit too existential

(8 comments)
February 13, 2006
Passage of the Moment
I sat there and tried to puzzle out what I would ask Mrs. Stanhunt, and what I would do with what I learned, if I learned something. I was playing this case existential, maybe a bit too existential. I needed a lead. I needed a client. Hell, I even needed a sandwich. There was probably little chance of Celeste Stanhunt coming downstairs and offering me a sandwich.
--Jonathan Lethem "Gun, with Occasional Music"... Cyberpunkish Noir, very stylistic with some cool ideas. I'm not sure who recommended it to me but it was really good.

Video of the Moment
LAN3 msg'd me with:

Have you seen this? It's an excerpt from the british motorhead show called "Top Gear", wherein they test out the manueverability of a little city-car (the Toyota Aygo) by having 10 of them play soccer, in car.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1858640896825067657

That is so cool. I love small city-cars. Plus, car soccer looks like it would make a grat videogame. (Heh... I think there was a car in the UK called the VW Polo, that would have been ever more apropos for the sport.)

Video of a Past Moment
We were watching some Winter Olympics last night. There was the ski jump... man, it's amazing to see at the very end of the jump, as the skier is acting as an airfoil-- reminds me of some of my flying/gliding dream images. Anyway, "Ask Yahoo!" answer Who's the "agony of defeat" guy from "The Wide World of Sports", which is the infamous failed ski jump attempt, and thanks to Yahoo Video (which seems to have a much better selection that Google's video service) I was able to find the relevant show introduction. Wheeee!

Observation of the Moment
I was trying to figure out why I was just not impressed by the NYC blizzard with its twenty inches...so I googled and found out that that monster I dug out from last year was when I was close to Salem, which had a whopping 38 inches.

Also, compared to this photo I have of an early '96 blizzard in NYC...well, I guess it's how much the snow drifts rather than the amount falling, but '96 seems more amazing to me.

my funny valentine...

(1 comment)
February 14, 2006

(from my most recent
Blender of Love,
Valentine Edition.)

Valentine Quote of the Moment
"our love is like a honey baked ham ... pink, salty and unclean in the eyes of the lord."
--This Diesel Sweeties Cartoon... hee hee.

Valentines of the Moment
--Funny Geeky Star Wars Valentines from something awful.


dysliexia

(7 comments)
February 15, 2006
Typo of the Moment
Ooh, weird...after a lunchtime work conversation I went Googling on Synesthesia dyslexia, I really wonder if there can be some connection between the two... it took me a few tries and a tangental search to get the spelling of the first word. The weird part was I then mistyped and actually searched for Synesthesia dysliexia... and there was exactly one match for that: me making the exact same typo exact same typo on slashdot in 2003. I guess the typo is pretty characteristic of the mistakes I tend to make, phonetically blending syllables a bit, the ending "ia" of the word getting me to insert the extra "i" in the syllable before.

THE THING IS, I keep thinking that this type of frequent mistake should clearly tell me something about me, like whether I'm more of a "visual" or an "audio" thinker, but I don't quite know how to interprate the results. Part of it is, some part of me "wants" to be a "visual thinker", and that might bias the interpretation I'm going to make.

Or maybe the only safe interpretation is "I'm a bad typist when I try and type fast".

Quote of the Moment
"Love is sometimes more than just blind."
--Jonathan Lethem, "Gun, With Occasional Music"... also used for that recent loveblender.

Music of the Moment
DJ BC has made a second Beastles Beatles/Beastie Boys mashup album, Let It Beast. I'm still kind of listening to it, but overall it doesn't seem nearly as tight as the original, kind of disorganized and chaotic.

Explanation of the Moment
Just a little late for Valentine's Day...Slate Explains why do we draw hearts that way?

the original computer mouse

(1 comment)
February 16, 2006
Geek History of the Moment
"The mouse cage was pretty funny. We knew mice would eat the insulation off the wires, so we got samples of all the wires that were available and put them in a cage with a bunch of mice to see which insulation they did not like. We only used wire that passed the mouse test."
-- ENIAC co-inventor J. Presper Eckert, in this interview making the rounds. ENIAC was one of the first, if not the first, electronic computers ever built.

Toy of the Moment
And now we can use computers for such silly fun as this Super Mario Brothers Sound Machine...didn't realize how many different sound effects there were embedded in that game. My favorite music is defintely the "underground" theme, second from the top on the left side.

Swap of the Moment
I really love the whole proto-Mickey Mouse Oswald-for-Al-Michaels swap betweem Disney and NBC. Admittedly it was funnier to me before I realized I was thinking of Al Roker in place of Michaels, but still.
Of course it reminds me of that old quote from Dylan, thinking about the corporate influence stuff like Dilbert has wielded: "You know, sometimes it annoys me that these cartoon characters have more power in this world than I do."

attack of the snowclones

(5 comments)
February 17, 2006
So I was looking at Language Log, a very well-written and readable blog for people who are into language.

One current big thing there are snowclones, clichés reappropriated... (The name comes from the grandaddy of them all, "just like the Eskimos have X words for snow, Y must have Z words for _____") Wikipedia has a list as well.

It reminds me a bit of that googlelack game Ranjit and I came up with back in the day-- maybe it would have caught on if it had a better name.

Thought of the Moment
Q. Please explain how to diagram a sentence.
A. First spread the sentence out on a clean, flat surface, such as an ironing board. Then, using a sharp pencil or X-Acto knife, locate the "predicate," which indicates where the action has taken place and is usually located directly behind the gills.
--"Mister Language Person", via this Language Log Entry. This is exactly how I felt about diagramming sentences back in high school, it seemed like such a mean thing to do to a perfectly nice sentence.
Hmm. It seems a little odd to me that diagramming a sentence holds no appeal, even to my inner geek.


Game of the Moment
Hey Nick B! This fun 2D Katamari Damacy game reminded me of some of your ideas for a 2600 port of the original. It looks like for the game select, the # of humps on the camel you click is how many Katamari-pushing cousins you guide at once...click on the pyramid for a chaotic 48! Nice game in the spirit of the original, plus a nice NES-era sounding remake of the main tune.

It reminds me a bit of my old cosmic ark swarm (especially when you finally click to burst the ball) though it's obviously a much more polished and developed game.

Metaentry of the Moment
Heh. It's funny how all 3 of these things remind me of something back in the day... I didn't realize that two of them even used the same "It reminds me a bit of ..." construction.

the perpetual nostalgic

(12 comments)
February 18, 2006
Email of a Past Moment of a Moment Passed
I also thought of you recently because of a conversation I had with a friend. It was about being really happy in a relationship; giddily happy, happy without reservation. As far as I can remember, the only time I was happy like that was in 1991. I'm not sure if it's fair to me to say that right now, because I think it would be really really unusual if it was you and I who found that again. As far as I can tell, that's what New York was all about. Before you arrived, I wondered what it would be like the first instant I saw you. in the airport. And when that moment came, it was...something, but not That Thing I had hoped for. (I don't put a lot of stock in gut feelings, though, because my instincts are so often wrong. Still, oh, I dunno) Still, that Spring and Summer-- I was in love with you beyond rhyme and beyond reason. I try to figure out why haven't found that since; if something in me broke when you left, if that kind of happiness only comes when you're young and kind of innocent, if it's just one of those things and maybe I'll be in that kind of love since. Since then I've always been looking for someone else; for a long time I was looking for you, for a while it's been someone else. I understand your frustration in New York; it seemed the only thing missing from the equation was me. "Why won't you love me?" you asked; the question and my inability to to answer it cut me more than you know.

--To V, 1997.

I've been looking backwards lately. I ran into "the kirk archive"...an attempt to index all the electronic and scanned in stuff I've saved, started all the way back in 1999. (I date when I add things to the index, no matter how old the content is, and that meta-information is kind of interesting to me.) It's kind of weird noting the similarities between what was written after college breakups and some more recent ones.

Fun Kirk Fact: As of this writing my August 1997 Palm Journal entry is the #1 hit for the phrase "perpetual nostalgic" and the #3 or so hit for the words seperately.


Article of the Moment
"Thinking hard about a complex decision that rests on multiple factors appears to bamboozle the conscious mind so that people only consider a subset of information, which they weight inappropriately, resulting in an unsatisfactory choice. In contrast, the unconscious mind appears able to ponder over all the information and produce a decision that most people remain satisfied with."
--Interesting that the email talks about how I don't trust "gut feelings", because yesterday Slashdot linked to a New Scientist study that indicates your subconscious mind is a better decision maker than you are, and that "sleeping on something" is one of the best way of making big life-impacting decisions.

I guess I consider that bad news. For one thing, the subconcious mind isn't very accountable. "Rational" logic, for all its limitations, generally has a series of steps that can be examined and shared, repeated or refuted.

The other thing is it seems this "thinking without thinking" would fall prey to all kind of instilled and instictive prejudices. Take religion, for example... there's a huge batch of deeply-held but mutually-incompatible beliefs out there (Mutually incompatible in the sense of holding "the" ultimate literal truth) that often come from this kind of gut-feeling. Same thing for a bunch of racist leanings...when you grow up in a culture that has a big grudge against another culture, that's often how you're going to lean unless you logic your way out of the cycle.

Maybe that's what art is about. A lot of human communication is at the logic level, art tries to work at that lower level. But it seems like it's really difficult to be receptive to that level of message.

What do you think?

Related Quote of the Moment
"And isn't sanity really just a one trick pony anyway? I mean all you get is one trick, rational thinking, but when you're good and crazy, oooh oooh oooh, the sky is the limit!"
--The Tick... grabbed that one in April of 1997. I'm such an information packrat.

scary

(3 comments)
February 19, 2006
Riddle of the Moment
"How can you tell a girl ghost from a boy ghost?"
"Boobies!"
--My half-awake mind came up with that this morning. It's pretty obvious but I don't remember hearing it before.

Animation of the Moment
--Ksenia's sister found this online...I think it's the Ali G character Borat Sagdiyev, "Kazakhstan's sixth most famous man". I find it strangely hypnotic. Borat quotes from the MTV Europe Music Awards.


Essay of the Moment
FoSO sent along a Globe editorial, Don't sweat the small stuff when so much else matters. It's well-tread territory, but pretty good. A few random thoughts: One, I think its dead on in pointing out often we rage at the small stuff when it's the big stuff that has really got us worried. Two, I hate to think that some of the truisms from the small stuff book might not hold up, like "Remember, One Hundred Years from Now, All New People"...like if there's some new longevity treatment that only some rich bastards can afford. Three, while I like the idea of "Ask yourself, will this matter in a year?" in priciple, for an information packrat like me, who just made it easier to review what was going on this date for the last 6 or 7 years in both my public and private journal, there's a chance to let these slights recur years later. Or...maybe I'll read it and think "gosh, I don't even remember that."

So there you go.



alas, poor ollie north, i knew him, horatio

(3 comments)
February 20, 2006
Article of the Moment
From Jim Bakker to Milli Vamill, MSN asks Where Are They Now?

Image of the Moment
--from this Worth1000 contest "Cubism"... round things made square.

Thought of the Moment
So I was a bit happier noticing at how "late" sunset seemed to be these days. But then I thought, it's like a month and a half or two after the darkest part of the year, so all it means is I've muddled through the darkest third or fourth of the year. That's a long time to be thinking "man, it's dark."

I think too much. I should just appreciate the longer days, and be even happier when Daylight Saving kicks in.

food

(12 comments)
February 21, 2006
I've been thinking...I've been disappointed by food a lot lately. Especially in DC. The only meal that made me think "hey this is really pretty good" was a burrito from Baja Fresh, which was only a little worse than the great stuff at Boca Grande, and Fuddruckers at Dulles airport, which was really fantastic for some reason....good beef, some fresh condiments you pick out yourself, lettuce tomato all that, toasted buns, and really good fries. It was a great end to that week.

Also loved Fuddruckers. Especially when you can get "Mother Fuddrucker's Mustard".

Movie Quote of the Moment
"What's 'God'?"
"You know when you really want something, you close your eyes and wish for it really hard? God is the guy that ignores you."
--The Island. Not bad! A bit long and hamfisted at times, but a twist on the Utopia/Dystopia idea I hadn't seen before.

Interview Quotes of the Moment
"Sometimes I think we’re on this world for three reasons: to be useful, to tell each other stories and to collect stuff."
--Future Forecaster Paul Saffo in this SFGate interview. I also like the idea that "The curse of cyberspace is that everything we want to preserve will get lost and everything we want to lose will be preserved."

It's a very good interview, wellworth the time, though I wonder why things like climate change and terrorism don't enter into the discussion more.


a timeless quality

(5 comments)
February 22, 2006
Factoid of the Moment
"January and February were the last two months to be added to the Roman calendar, since the Romans originally considered winter a monthless period."
--from the Wikipedia entry for "February" (I was double checking the spelling in Google.) Man, that idea creeps me out...a monthless period, just a...count of days I guess? It's so...non-geekish, I guess I'd say. Ad hoc. Here's more on the Roman calendar.

Radio of the Moment
--Ksenia was after me to get a radio for the kitchen, and was very happy with this cheap one I got from Best Buy... I didin't notice what a smile it has 'til she mentioned... kind of a big happy bug.


Sacrifice of the Moment
A very moving description of the funeral and rites for Corporal Brett Lundstrom, the first member of the Oglala Sioux to die in Iraq. Captivating reading, not emotionally easy to get through.

flee

(10 comments)
February 23, 2006
Line of the Moment
blogha and I retreated to the Fleabag Arms, where I'd have welcomed finding a dead hooker in the mattress as it would have made the bed more comfortable.
--Felisdemens in a private entry on her LJ. That is a great line, I've been at hotels like that, but the worst I've found was a kind of disgusting business-y buttdown (err, 'buttondown', thanks LAN3) shirt inside a foldout bed. (sQ trip to Pittsburgh, 1996 or '97)

Art of the Moment
A video of the History of the Amen Break, a 60s drum riff that's been resampled and repurposed all over the place. If what the guy is saying is true...I'm surprised, frankly, I thought with drum machines you could make up many new rhythms that would sound about as good. Plus, some of the samples he plays...I can barely tell it came from the same source. Still, a fun listen.

Bad News of the Moment
Gunmen Execute 47 Factory Workers in Iraq. Wow, they might be going from the "1776" to the "1861" stage in a hurry.

I still wonder if Saddam knew more about how to run Iraq as a single entity than we do. Not that it justifies commiting attrocities, but still. I still think an alternate history where Saddam didn't invade Kuwait might have made life easier for the world, if not for certain ethnic groups and dissidents in Iraq.

the power of a swedish library card

(2 comments)
February 24, 2006
Old News of the Moment
This weekend, nine people, including a homosexual, an imam, a journalist, a Muslim woman and a gypsy, will be available at the Malmoe Library (in Sweden) for members of the public to "borrow" for a 45 minute conversation in the library's outdoor cafe.
--Actually from last summer, as reported in this USAToday article. Such a nifty idea!

In other news I've been meaning to post, life in Al Qaeda is surprisingly mundane. Well, I guess at least an organization so out to make martyrs doesn't have to worry about a good retirement plan, but they do have vacations and sick days.


Tool of the Moment
I made another specialty tool, blackspace. Kind of like some of the other tools it's basic text manipulation... in this case, return whatever text you enter into it with all the blank (whitespace-only) lines stripped out. (I was working with the output source of a coldfusion script with tons of gratuitous linebreaks, so needed a way of clearing them out.)

Again, not changing the world with sheer usefulness, but makes my life a bit easier at the moment and in the future, at least if I remember that it's there. I like it more than she does, it seems.

train to be a model or just look like one

(4 comments)
February 25, 2006
Ideas of the Moment
"Once you're alive, you become very hard to model."
"Once you've been educated, you become very easy to model"
--Will Wright (who made the Sims, one of the most popular computer models ever) and professor John Hiles (who builds computer models of how dangerous people might react to events in the news.) Via the book "Smartbomb".

Sketch of the Moment
--Sketch by Ksenia, inspired by some guy on the subway. It's scanned from a folder for her artwork she was carrying around.

dc redux day 1

(4 comments)
February 26, 2006
So I'm back in DC this week. Decided I'd wait 'til now to post my photos from last time.

You could see the top of the Washington Monument from my hotel room...



Now, Ksenia likes one of these shots and I like the other one better.

So if people are bored, on the comments, write your guess and opinion:

Which one does Kirk like best?

Which one do you like best?


Mascots of the Moment
--I kind of missed hearing about Neve the Snowball and Gliz the Icecube, mascots of the Torino Olympics. I think each Olympics having its own Mascots is kind of cute...it would be fun to make a videogame with them all fighting it out. Here and here are some more, including my favorite Cobi from Barcelona. Harder to get information about the Winter Olympic mascots, though Powder, Copper, and Coal were kind of cute. (Guess they can't stop at just one anymore.)

dc redux day 2

(6 comments)
February 27, 2006
That same hotel window also had a view of this lovely building...my last day I went up to it and saw it was the Embassy of Indonesia.




And then I had a little fun with the bathroom's big mirror and the mirror on the back of the door. Not the most original thing, but hey.

The hotel was actually at a place called Embassy Row. A hall window had a view of one embassy courtyard...I looked up the flag, turned out it was Colombia. Why, it was like I was in the sniper's location for some terrible 80s movie.

Aside of the Moment
Random thoughts I've had, doing a bit more airplane travel lately:
  • I was wondering if commercial airliners tend to bank to one side more than the other, given typical commercial flight routes. Or maybe it's Murphy's Law, and the big expansive sweep of majestic city skyline is always on the OTHER side of the plane.
  • Do a plane's taxi-ing wheels have their own power, or are they pushed by the main engines at low power?
  • People who spend like 5 minutes standing at their seat, but hunched over, waiting to "deplane", are kind of dumb. Not that I haven't done that.
  • Airlines now seem to hand over the whole can of soda. Back in the day, you had to task. Kind of a funny contrast to the other cost-cutting measures they follow.
  • Speaking of that...cupholders are everywhere. Getting on one plane I noticed one bulky baby stroller off to the side...I couldn't believe how big the cupholders were. I mean, they're for the pusher, not the pushee, but still.
  • This JetBlue's "attract" screen head one line "You look cute in leather"... talking about the leather seats. Having leather seats, and bragging about them, seems a little offensive to me, just given how some people are vegetarians, vegans, and/or hindu... and you know, what's the deal with grey leather anyway? Shouldn't you get your animal skin to look more...animal-y? (Again, I like how Russian doesn't have an exact match for "leather", as opposed to the word for "skin". Seems less euphemistic!)
  • Ok, at the risk of sounding like a bad standup comedian, why do we have to put seatbacks fully up...is that 2 inches going to make any difference to anyone in some kind of incident, either to the person in the seat or the person behind?

dc redux day 3

(9 comments)
February 28, 2006
I didn't get to see much of DC... a lot of the attractions close in the evening, and I didn't want to sick around for a weekend. But one night we did go down to Georgetown... pretty in the twilight.

And I got to visit my cousin Scott...also my Aunt Ruth and Scott's wife Sandy.


Restaurant of the Moment
Now, on this trip, last night I had a very odd meal... Chris suggested we go to ESPN Zone. I thought that the series of tables, each with its own small TV was a little odd, but our actual dining experience was even stranger... both of us sitting in a seperate recliner with a built-in swivel table, in front of a GIANT TV screen... I have to say, watching "talking head" sports coverage/interviews on a TV the size of most movie screens is...well, kind of tedious really. The giant screen was then flanked by a total of 12 smaller screens with different games going. (I would've thought almost any game would be better fare than talk talk talk, but what do I know, I'm not THAT much of a sportsfan.)

After we went downstairs to the arcade... we played an extremely overpriced (they use a swipecard system, so it's hard to calculate prices exactly but it was over $2) game of air hockey (set to play to 5 points...sheesh) and an older foozpong-ish ice hockey game.

Results of the Moment
Not that it drummed up that much interest, but I liked the night scene with the Washington Monument, and Ksenia liked the daylight one.

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