kirk.is | archive | 2013 sep

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September 1, 2013

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playlist august 2013

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September 2, 2013
Busy month, not many new songs but some good ones. 4-stars in red.
  • 222 (Paul McCartney) 222 is my lucky number. Kind of a Phillip Glass-ish piece, a bonus track to "Memory Almost Full" which is my new favorite album name, especially by an older artist.
  • Retrograde (James Blake) This is the most haunting song I've heard in a while.
  • Get Low (Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz & Ying Yang Twins) Conversely, this is the stupidest, raunchiest song I've heard in a longer while.
  • Fly Me to the Moon (In Other Words) (Julie London) A bossa-nova tinged version of the standard. I heard Julie London was one of my grandfather Papa Sam's favorites.
  • Girl Control (The Polish Ambassador) Very odd bit of hiphop, but it grows on you.
  • Sam Hall (Johnny Cash) "Damn your eyes" is such a curse.
  • 3 am (Acoustic) (Tabitha's Secret) I kind of nice version of the kinda overplayed song. Heard this in Alaska.
  • I Won't Back Down (Dawn Landes) A very sweet acoustic cover of the Tom Petty song, also heard it in Alaska
  • Going (Sam Phillips) Wish I could find the lyric sheet for this, but the way the music pauses on "I'm more than halfway through" is darkly striking for us folks coming up on that point in our lives. An amazing song for 2 minutes.
  • Bang Bang (will.i.am) Very odd retro/modern blend, I think from that recent "Great Gatsby" movie. Such a use of white space.
  • Bitter Heart (Zee Avi) Lovely and sad. Zee Avi is amazing.



Some amazing "motivational" posters from the 1920s

September 3, 2013

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http://www.romanization.com/books/formosan_odyssey/footbinding.html Man -- if this article is onbase, footbinding might not have just been torturous for women, but something that (in an oddly meta kind of way) reshaped Chinese infrastructure and zeal to explore as well.
oh, and RIP Seamus Heaney.
In Alaska, I had some good and thoughtful discussions with Riana and reached some new conclusions. It's a tangle of old and new thoughts, and unclear setups of cause and effect, but: for me, somehow implanted at a deep and defining level, Verbs trump Nouns. What you do, how you interact, is the critical defining factor, and pushes what one might "really be" to near irrelevance.

There's a downside to this concept: nobody -- myself included-- has intrinsic value. (Note, I'm not really defending this value, but talking about my recent discovery as it as a foundation to a lot of my moral and psychological landscape.) In this view, if you do nothing, you're worth nothing.

There are consequences to this view: I think it means I don't have a solid core of real self-worth, and so a rection formation grew up around it: as a kid, I was precocious, and I think that got parlayed into a need to be the bestest, smartest kid in the world, because that was the only game in town. Early on this led to ugly consequences: my young rage at losing a board game, say. Looking back, maybe that's because that was upsetting the natural order of the world with me at its pinnacle... but even more scarily, if I wasn't the bestest, what was I? Maybe nothing! So of course I fought against it.

(There's a seeming contradiction here -- 6 years ago I was looking at a Scientific American article about kids who get the idea that intelligence is innate and fixed, and so the important thing is to always look smart. ( http://kirk.is/2007/11/30/ ) You might think that would lead them to self-confidence, an unassailable bit of ego core, but instead it brings on fear and strategies to avoid looking like anything less, like a mere mortal. And I think that's because if they (and me) aren't the greatest then they are worth nothing.)

The other side effect of not having a sense of self-worth is I tend to be a goodie-goodie rule follower, but I think that's less of a moral sense than a fear that if I don't follow the rules, I'll be rejected and maybe thrown out, because there's nothing fundamentally worth saving.

Often getting over-intellectual about something is helpful for me, because I can purposefully use my intellect to overcome my gut feelings. This one is tougher though because, intellectually, I don't what the answer that tells me "everyone has intrinsic worth" is. Existentially speaking, the idea that people's value comes from interactions with Everything Else has a lot of appeal.

One possible intellectual out came to me in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, a great bit of fanfic speculating what would have happened if young Harry Potter had been raised not by the Dursleys but by an Oxford Professor and his supportive and loving and intelligent wife... at one point, in explaining that there was no simple way of conclusively demonstrating that he (Harry Potter) wasn't the next Dark Lord, Professor Quirrell explains
"The import of an act lies not in what that act resembles on the surface, Mr. Potter, but in the states of mind which make that act more or less probable."

Harry blinked. He'd just had the dichotomy between the representativeness heuristic and the Bayesian definition of evidence explained to him by a wizard.
So there might where the answer is: yes, what's important is what we do, not what we are, but what we are goes a long, long way to determining what we do-- and from there, intrinsic value can be potentially found.

Still, it's a long way from a weak intellectual defense to really "getting it" and living it, and nearing some kind of midway point in my life, I have to acknowledge that a lot of my grooves are kind of set, and it may always take a big dose of mindfulness to see that I'm worthwhile and can and should take on even challenges that may leave me frustrated and looking less than stellar.
This is beautiful. Make this jellybean count, people.

September 4, 2013

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September 5, 2013

"Horse walks into a bar. “But grandpa and I tore out this bar decades ago,” he thinks to himself. Time Horse continues after these messages."
--http://twitter.com/rstevens
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/03/lg-prank-spain_n_3861926.html Holy crap, that is some of the scariest stuff I could ever imagine seeing, straight out of my nightmares... a child from the cold war age, I always live with the minor worry that possibly someday, that's what I'm going to see, and it'll be the last thing I see.

September 6, 2013

Apple testing phones up to six inches. Half a foot of screen is too much for a phone for me, but one of those 4.8" models sounds just about right. I was a skeptic about the larger sizes til I interacted with a friend's S3... so not too excited about next week's event but have high hopes for 2014.
"To master debugging, you must expect to find bugs. If somebody reports a bug, you should accept it. The natural state of code is to have bugs."
--from The Young Developer’s Guide to Debugging JavaScript @NYTimes
Some things quoted in Hank Lentfer's "Faith of Cranes: Finding Hope and Family in Alaska". (I had a small personal connection to the book, in that Riana and I were lucky enough to be borrowingone of the book's character's car in Gustavus)

"Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted, but getting what you have, which, once you have it, you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known."
--Garrison Keillor

"Wilderness represents in space what the Sabbath represents in time-- a limit to our dominion, a refuge from the quest for power and wealth, an acknowledgment that the earth does not belong to us.”
--Scott Sanders

"The opposite of faith is not doubt; it is certainty."
--Anne Lamott

"Worry is like praying for what you don’t want.”
--Bob Christensen

I've been trying to wrap my head around those last two in particular.

September 7, 2013



blender of love

September 8, 2013

"Nelson, stung by the winter cold, reminds himself of the Koyukon elders' advice 'about accepting the weather as it comes and avoiding remarks that might offend it. This is especially true of cold, which has great power and is easily provoked to numbing fits of temper."
--David Abram, "The Spell of the Sensuous"

September 9, 2013

I like having a courier bag with an open outer pocket. I pull out an e-reader from behind my back and feel like a gunslinger.

Bought this as a tape-delayed impulse buy at Bed Bath and Beyond-- I'm totally infatuated with the rubberized design of it-- iHome has really stepped up its game (they have a larger even more Boom-Box-y model http://www.ihomeaudio.com/iBT44GC/ in the same design language) Also, it sounds great, is rechargable, and I'm starting to see the light of Bluetooth connections... also it was 20 bucks off there.

September 10, 2013

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool."
--Richard Feynman
"Someone once told me that how we relate to our Parents is a lot like how we relate to God."
--JT Waldman, in what might have been Harvey Pekar's final collaboration, "Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me". I've been pondering on this statement a bit.
Always looking for that outside perspective, I was fascinated by the Quota on What facts about the United States do foreigners not believe until they come to America?
Hanging my collection of 20 or so 5x7" prints of people who are important to me, watching over a VHS to DVD transfer of my senior year high school "video yearbook", that one cover of the muppets' "I'm Going to Go Back There", and then wondering why I'm filled with bittersweet melancholy.

September 11, 2013

The book Buckaroo Banzai has a great bit
The principles by which B. Banzai lives are known as the Five Stresses, the Four Beauties and the Three Loves. Things to be stresses are decorum, courtesy, public health, discipline and morals. The Four Beauties are the beauties of mind, language, behavior and environment. The Three Loves are love of others, love of justice and love of freedom.
Turns out that's largely cribbed from the Chinese but I always like how "public health" seems to stand out. (It seems like more of a public policy matter than the others, though come to think of it all five stresses have a think globally, act locally aspect.) Anyway, Slate has a piece about the inventions and changes that let us enjoy the relatively prolonged lifespans that we do.
Maybe as a counter to "what if I could just live in one room, minimalist style" I should check out http://www.worstroom.com/
The latest rendition of my mishmash salon of people who are or have been important to me (with the caveat of I have to have a visually interesting photo of them.)

Kind of a nightmare for OCD folk! Thank heavens for Dollar Tree $1 frames... I swear I saw the exact same ones at Walgreens for $8 a pop.

September 12, 2013

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This made me laugh.... goldfish crackers for the lazy yet gluttonous:

http://whatshotdjroomba.minus.com/ - "Game of Thrones"-house style banners for NFL teams.
"when miley cyrus is naked & licks a hammer it’s “art” and “music”.. but when i do it, i’m “wasted” and “have to leave home depot'"
--http://twitter.com/TypicalMinions
My friend Greg Owen suggested an "interesting tip calculator" app, and I've made a functional prototype you can run or install as a bookmarklet on your mobile device, from http://stuff.alienbill.com/tip/

The idea is lots of folks want to calculate tips so that it comes out even, or, in Gowen's case so it comes out "interesting"... like
multiple of ten e.g. 40.00
digit repeating e.g. 44.44
ascending e.g. 45.67
descending e.g. 43.21
palindrome e.g. 43.34
even amount e.g. 41.00
repeated halves e.g. 43.43

So I start with a base rate of 20%, and then look for interesting stuff +/- 5% of that, and then display the results in sorted order, so you can either pick based on whimsy or by being a bit more or less generous

I wrote up some of the technical details at kirkdev.blogspot.com

If people dig it I might push on a more configurable app-ish version.
Brady took a paycut for this?

September 13, 2013

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"when i like someone all i want to do is text them 'HI' all day long like a dog who has learned how to text"
--http://twitter.com/lilybenson

September 14, 2013

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"Violating causality was a plugin."
--SpindleyQ on his projects Kliffy and "Richard and Larry Build a Time Machine"

September 15, 2013

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"'Why is Sonic a blue hedgehog? He could just as easily be a phallus racing through a nightmarish hellscape of infinite Tuscany.' #noshow13"
--http://twitter.com/metasynthie

September 16, 2013

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Artist Juan Ortiz is making a book with movie-style posters of all 80 original Start Trek episodes

It's funny how I recognize most episodes-- I've seen most of them I guess, but also we had one of those "Star Trek Compendiums" that I kind of adored.
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter brings us this:

September 17, 2013

first morning bike ride where my fingers got cold. But if I wore gloves I'd feel like I should give up the sandals, not ready for that.
Fun time with Anna Anthropy last night -- Crossroads and its sequel on the projector, and going over Atari 2600 games including my own JoustPong.
- Go to a Mac.
- Minimize a window.
- Unminimize the window, and hide it while it’s unminimizing (cmd+h)
- ENJOY
(via hjttp://twitter.com/dddagradi )

September 18, 2013

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busy busy busy

September 19, 2013

A while back someone posted about a website that made it really easy for people to indicate which of several date/time options was convenient for them... I remember thinking the name didn't have a lot to do with the site function itself. Any idea?
http://doodle.com/ was the one I was thinking of... very easy to make little "when can you make it" polls.
Oh, man. Too true.

From Augusten Burrough's "Magical Thinking":
I smiled and nestled against him. He kissed my shoulder. I'd never felt closer to him because I did know that he was mad and yet it didn't matter: He loved me enough to be mad at me and not then have to reconsider the entire relationship.
You know, I think I have trouble feeling that in general, though I don't think it's the fault of the people who love(d) me.

September 20, 2013

"General relativity is EASY compared to people."
--Edwin Taylor, former editor of the American Journal of Physics, at my UUSS group last night.

September 21, 2013

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An interview with Mr. Rogers' Wife. The more I hear about Mr. Rogers the more wonderful he seems. A little overly self-disciplined, maybe -- who else do you know who could keep his weight at exactly 143 all his life? But just so full of love... an ordained minister who found a message that was really universal and transcendent.
Some Atari 2600 cartridge art stories...when the game itself is just some blinking moving squares, sometimes you can dig deep.
"You forget a thousand things every day, pal; make sure this is one of them."
--Michael Madsen in "GTA V"

September 22, 2013

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"My list of incomplete projects is my own personal crazy hoard."
--SecretGeek drawing a parallel between hoarders and people with a burgeoning list of Projects "Todo, Someday, Maybe". It's not perfect, but a richer parallel than it might seem at first glance.

September 23, 2013

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"Truly [the small-town residents] were the salt of the earth."
"And why does one salt the earth? To keep anything new from growing."
--Basic Instructions: How to Remember the Good Old Days Such a reliably funny web comic.

By James Harvey

September 24, 2013

"The world is a dynamic MESS of jiggling things, if you look at it right."
--Richard Feynman explaining rubber bands and more:

September 25, 2013

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Man, this was great. It's such a human response to technology:

"'You've got an interesting accent. Subtle. I can't place it.' 'It's text-to-speech... I was raised by smartphones.'"
--http://twitter.com/hoverbird
I dig how my new iOS7 text tone "Synth" sounds a lot like the first little blurbles of this Soundwave the Decepticon breakdancing video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCYLEO9sIVQ

September 26, 2013

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http://kirkdev.blogspot.com/ - my dev blog has been quiet for a bit but a little bit more interesting these days.
"being a programmer is fucked up because a real person shouldn't be skeptical when things just work"
--http://twitter.com/jessicard
When did Justin Timberlake start looking like Michael Stipe?

September 27, 2013

Back to drawing class, with my original instructor who was focused on simple shapes and feeling. Then he had us put down our two favorite images on the floor (and teased us about our paper tearing off skills.) Can't tell if I'm getting better; felt a bit rusty. Also I'm feeling more ok about sometimes letting my own (cartoony?) style leak through. I noticed both my works and the one the instructor did in front of me tended to make her torso less long than it was in real life.





Yesterday I brought in my iPhone that was developing a wonky power button... only one side of it was registering presses. Its been less than a year so the guy at the Apple store gave me a new phone.

1. It's kind of remarkable that 15-20 minutes of synching and I have a device on my person functionally indistinguishable from what I've had on my person before the swap, except that I have to re-enter service passwords and I lost my gelaskin art on the back.

2. This kind of service, and the Genius Bar in general, helps keep me with Apple. Though I'm not sure, would Verizon or AT+T or whoever do the same few-questions-asked swaps? Do the Samsung phones have year long warranties? (The same thing goes for laptops, maybe even more so. I think the Genius Bar ranks more highly than the Geek Squad...)

" If you wanna meet a nice young lady, then you try to smell your best. A girl don’t like nobody walking up in her face smelling like a goat. Then, you don’t say crap like “Hey, don’t I know you?” The first thing you ask her is: “Are you alone?” If she tells you that she’s with her boyfriend, then you see if the cat’s as big as you. If you don’t have no money, just smell right. And for God’s sake don’t be pulling on her and slapping on her. You don’t hit the girls! If you do this, you can’t miss."
--Bo Diddley on Women, http://boingboing.net/2013/09/26/bo-diddleys-essential-guide.html

September 28, 2013

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Games played by Leonard and/or me at Funspot today: bagman, (some b+w racing game), death rally, heavy barrel, death race, smash tv, nova 2001, pong doubles, space duel, marble madness, quartet, apb, video pinball, paperboy, wizard of wor, tron, timber, alien syndrome, zaxxon, donkey kong ii, dr mario, play choice 10 goonies, cobra command, rush n attack, stocker, r-type, cobra command, rush n attack, stocker, r-type, discs of tron, s.t.u.n. runner, gun fight, zookeeper, jr pacman, flower, elevator action, flower, super off-road, superman (pinball), adams family (pinball), whac-a-mole, robotron, star trek strategic operations simulator, crazy taxi, star wars, afterburner, lock-on, high-speed (pinball), joker poker (pinball), crystal castles, centipede, galpus, frogger, pulsar, super sprint, rescue
Stern's Rescue (1982!) had totally gorgeous parallax scrolling:

the very act of breathing reminds you you're not whole

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September 29, 2013

--via

September 30, 2013

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"I had a couple of Drowsy Lifeguards, which is the local cocktail."
--Jack Handy, "The Stench of Honolulu". It's like his old Deep Thoughts but raunchier.
"Humans are evolving into a higher form and a lower form at the same time. Confused? Then guess which one you are."
--Jack Handy, "The Stench of Honolulu"
Haha, our own political frolics as seen through our own international coverage lens... welcome to something slightly less than the first world.
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