kirk.is | archive | 2015 may

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May 1, 2015

The surpreme court gets ugly on the death penalty. What a mess. Alito basically blaming the lawyer for executed Charles Warner (his last words "my body is on fire") for the scarcity of reliable execution drugs is the height of class from a wicked classy agenda laden judge.
A little late but my friend Sam made this card of 15,000 exclamation marks for my 15K Day (but then she left it on the printer...)


Highlights include baby chicks on the 4th, sQ's 20th anniversary on the 11th, a roasting lamb on the 12th, John McEnroe serving on the 22nd, a 15K Day cake by Liz on the 25th and Bellringers at the MFA on the 26th
'That Google Chrome "what tab is being noisy?" speaker icon should function as a mute button.' -- My first significant bit of reddit juice. Funny thing is someone posted that this feature is a part of chrome, but has to be especially enabled.

May 2, 2015

Arlington St Church

Annie: So, what got you into photography?
Sam #2: Oh, I wouldn't call it photography.
Annie: What would you call it?
Sam #2: I love taking pictures, I guess.
Annie: Okay. Well, why do you take pictures?
Sam #2: Umm.. I don't know. When I see something I like looking at, I get to keeping looking at it.
--happythankyoumoreplease. Nicest spin about photography I've seen in a while.

april 2015 new music playlist

May 3, 2015
Only a few 4 stars, listed in red. The rest put in descending order of interestingness, either for the song or the video.
  • Bounce No. 1 (Dave Leanza & Andy Manista) I ripped from a cassette tape [Cleveland] "Heights Jazz Night 1991". I think it may be an original composition, and catchy as heck.
  • Joe and Paul (Barton Brothers / Stutchkoff) A Yiddish comedy bit from 1:00-2:55 - the video has some loose translation on screen.
  • Bottom of the River (Tufts sQ!) New single by my college a cappella group, just had their 20th birthday. Freshman singing in the group were born around the same time I started singing with them, senior year. (The version from iTunes has better sound quality)
  • Steal My Kisses (Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals) Surprised I missed this one when it came out, but everyone at the sQ reunion knew it.
  • Rudy (Fusik) The soundtrack to that aweseme bboy/bgirl video. Man that is some amazing dancing/gymnastics.
  • Loyalty Never Leaves (Lance Knight) On a radio station in GTA5, this odd Rasta-ish version of "Royals" - reading the lyrics helps a little.
  • Opa Cupa Fly (Brass Menazeri) Romani Brass - I think this is a remix.
  • Get Back (Ludacris) Wow... the Popeye Arms he's sporting in this video...
  • Monty Python's Galaxy Song (Stephen Hawking) Hawking sings Python. (sad the buy now link only works in the UK; I had to rip it.)
  • Leprosy (Eu-Four-Ia) An obscure Dr. Demento cassette-tape rip - I should probably put it on youtube.
  • Lose It (In the End) (Mark Ronson & The Business Intl.) Ronson often has great percussion.
  • Tables and Chairs (Andrew Bird) I think cmg sent me this. I like the post-apocalypse-with-snacks vision.
  • Statistician's Blues (Todd Snider) Comedy bit. Like the tone but wish the numbers were better.
  • God Knows (You Gotta Give to Get) (El Perro del Mar) Soft song I heard on "Girls"
  • Moonlight In Vermont (Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong) When my superniece's Mama K need to scat some song to operate a lamb puppet, she sang this, a song I hadn't heard.
  • Can't Nobody Love You (The Zombies) The romantic 60s.
  • Send It Up (Kanye West) James Harvey keeps me interested in Kanye.
  • Knock On Wood (Eddie Floyd) Very Sam+Dave sounding.
  • Fancy (feat. Charli XCX) (Iggy Azalea) The examplar from a "why we love pop music [that sucks]" article, but I have to admit I like Iggy Azalea's delivery.
  • Work Song (Hozier) Not quite as good as "Take Me To Church"

A few photos by Joni L, from JP Honk at yesterday's "Wake Up The Earth" parade and festival in JP. It was a LONG haul up Centre St but the chance to do a set at Stony Brook, and really walk around and through the audience, was special




May 4, 2015

One glimmer of hope for Western culture: somehow in the past half-century we quietly figured out it's ok for people to be lefties, and stopped trying to forcibly convert them.
http://www.quora.com/Why-are-you-a-Democrat -- some good answers
Wow - Hannah's main interest Adam from "Girls" is the dude holding the crossbar'd lightsaber in the Star Wars Trailer...

May 5, 2015

https://tinyurl.com/RIP-ASW Sorry to hear "A Softer World", one of my favorite webcomics, is winding now, but they're kickstarting a bestof book.

May 6, 2015

"In the end, the greatest challenge to all the efforts to unite behind one candidate is that leaders are asking people of passion to act tactically. That's not only hard for them to do as a matter of personal constitution, but it's exactly the kind of behavior that you'd expect from people who value pragmatism over principle. In other words, moderates."
--Slate on the the large field of Republican candidates
http://www.vulture.com/2015/05/23-lost-laughs-of-letterman.html - the best jokes that didn't make it to Letterman. Love hearing about the process.
Empathy cards designed by a cancer survivor. Oh man, these are great- like, very informative, and real.

May 7, 2015

Arlington bike cops pulling over bicyclists for red light stuff... Not sure I'm crazy about my tax dollars at work like that.
Arlington bike cops pulling over bicyclists for red light stuff, the corner of Lake Street and Mass Ave... Not sure I'm crazy about my tax dollars at work like that. Those lights seem ridiculously stupidly timed even for cars. Lots of gas and time wasted. People have dark thoughts that it's kept that way as a revenue source for the town.

I dunno, I suppose my opinions aren't very well formed, and it feels like wiser minds than mine have argued over if it really makes sense for bicycles to be treated so much closer to automobiles than pedestrians. Yeah, there's that sense of "bike privilege" that some motorists seem to resent bitterly, but to me it seems like if you're on a bike, most physical threats are to your person, but if you're in a car you're less of a threat to yourself and more of a threat to everyone around you, and using common sense over "it's got wheels, it must be a full on vehicle" black/white thinking makes sense.
Thoughts on Deflategate, not that anyone asked:
1. My feeling is that the Patriots are in like the upper quartile of pushing rule boundaries, but are hardly unique with what went on with Spygate or Deflategate. I mean, Aaron Rodgers confessed to OVERINFLATING the balls for his games. Other teams got busted for taping as well.
2. Those texts are also kind of funny. But they also indicate that the refs were OVERinflating the balls, way above the NFL's own regulations. What's up with that? (Kudos that the released transcripts wern't edited to leave that part out.)
3. Neener neener neener. Patriots are great, your guys suck, our team YAY your team BOO.

May 8, 2015

via Daring Fireball, using neural networks to better scale up images:
http://engineering.flipboard.com/2015/05/scaling-convnets/
What's interesting to me is what the failure modes / "artifacts" will look like - it seems like they'd have the potential to be weird, and almost "conceptual" - like the "sun tanning beds" example; the zoom on what seem to be dots on a pillow, it almost feels like the algorithm didn't reproduce the actual dots, it generated an image of a smaller number of similar dots. To me that seems reminiscent of how our minds tend to encode things via summaries, and then construct more detailed "recreations" on demand. (Which I think is how dreams can be so vivid and real-feeling, yet generated from bits and pieces of neural sparks.)
Oh, I hadn't realize they were using Neural Nets to play Atari games:

"To learn to talk only the necessary: it takes around two years to learn to speak but it takes a lifetime to learn to shut up."
--Carlos Amezquita on the Quora What are the most difficult things to do in life?
"I'm hearing a lot of 'destination, destination, destination' here. I need to hear a lot more 'journey, journey, journey' out of you."
--Bodhi "Buddy" Dharma, Head Coach, Fightin' Mediators

May 9, 2015

"Everyone tells teenagers that they don't know what love is. But everyone wants to feel like a teenager when they fall in love."
--kylar505, http://www.reddit.com/r/Showerthoughts/

http://loveblender.com/ ...

May 10, 2015

"Lyndon Baines Johnson never elaborates. It's a personal rule I have found advantageous. I never elaborate. Folks distrust folks who elaborate. Write that down, boy: 'Never elaborate.'"
--David Foster Wallace, his short story "Lyndon", a lyrically sympathetic view of a more complex than he might seem man.

May 11, 2015

Random question: when you get a response text that's a bare "K", do you find that neutral or faintly negative? (Or positive?) A few people I text with seem to treat it as at least neutral, but for some reason when not followed by a "!" I tend to see it as disapproving somehow.

I think I just need to recalibrate my own reading, but I was wondering how it was for other folk.
http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n10/seymour-m-hersh/the-killing-of-osama-bin-laden Most likely Osama Bin Laden's final compound was a prison of sorts, not a covert HQ.
Counterpoint: http://www.vox.com/2015/5/11/8584473/seymour-hersh-osama-bin-laden
Nice comic version debunking the "millions for spilling hot mcdonalds coffee on yourself" lawsuit urban legend
It's not that often that I hear a song and know it's gonna hit my 5 star list. This whole Mark Ronson "Uptown" thing of funk combined with Mystikal's Pigmeat Markham-like roar... terrific.

May 12, 2015

"Darling, here's the thing: Most of the interesting people died. That's all there is to it."
--friend to Justin Sayre, on what the AIDS crisis did to the gay community. The source, a long Slate piece about the difference between homosexuality and gay culture is some terrific and thoughtful reading.
"the best way to solve problems is to create more problems until you are dead"
--http://twitter.com/wolfpupy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=68&v=i3VbKEJYdv8 I remember how much thoughts of hell scared me as a youth.

May 13, 2015

Jamie Hewlett did a set of illustrations for "Common People" (though sadly I mostly just know know the Wiliam Shatner / Joe Jackson version.)

May 14, 2015

They should make a fridge that rotates at relativistic speeds, so your food stay fresh thanks to time dilation.
"I get why a lot of people hate the whole princess culture aimed at little girls. There's a hell of a lot of toxic bullshit in there.

But when I was a tiny princess, my dad used to be my royal advisor. He would come to me, and over tea we would discuss the problems of the kingdom. He would tell me that new people wanted to move to the kingdom, and ask me what we should do. Or he would tell me that the teddybears and the dolls were fighting over the enchanted forest, and ask me what to do. Basically, he took the trappings of the princess culture, and used it as a tool to teach me about leadership, civic responsibility, and compassion.

So if you have a little princess around, consider helping her figure out how to run her kingdom. There's no sense in telling a kid they can't be a leader, or that they can't wear sparkles while they do it."
--http://constant-instigator.tumblr.com/
"Consider this moment gauntled! ...is that a word?"
"Hold your head up like it is. Vocabulary is mostly a matter of confidence."
--Modern Family

May 15, 2015

RIP BB King

Death Sentence. I'm Bummed. Don't want the state killing anyone in retribution, no matter how much they "deserve" it.

May 16, 2015

Russia's Putin plays with NHL veterans, scoring 8 goals Life sounds like The Onion.

An oldie, but a goodie. "YOU ARE A FIREMAN. YOUR JOB IS TO PUT OUT FIRES. ONE THING YOU DO *NOT* WANT TO DO IS THROW FIRE AT PEOPLE, AND SET THEM ON FIRE. "

May 17, 2015

FAMILY LORE: When I was very young my parents worked at a Salvation Army space for at-risk youth called "Ivy House". One time for a treat they took some of the kids, including a young cute black kid, to a nice italian restaurant. My folks had to hope he was a little weak on the vocabulary of "lasagna" when he told them "one time, my family, we had a GREAT BIG PLATE of Vagina!"

Ah, malopropisms.

May 18, 2015

tools as the cause of, not the solution to, all the web's speed problems Daring Fireball is more concerned with speed of user experience, I'm more concerned with speed of development, but there's a lot of overlap.

May 19, 2015

"To animals, war is a cosmic horror story. Indescribable beasts lay waste to everything for reasons they can't fathom and have ungodly powerful methods of attack."
--Yuli-Ban in /r/showerthoughts

May 20, 2015

"Enjoy every sandwich."
--Zevon

Zevon was one of David Letterman's favorite musicians and a frequent guest who had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and had only months to live. From this year-by-year rundown of Letterman's show

1 Timothy 5:8 "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."

Man that's pretty harsh! Kind of like a Christian excuse against charity. (Or only for charity for non-Christians? idk)

May 21, 2015

Self-Driving Trucks are going to disrupt everything. (And if we didn't have an allergic reaction to everything socialist, we might be in a better place to appreciate it)

May 22, 2015

Today's Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal:

"The typical child entering kindergarten has a vocabulary of fourteen thousand words. To put that into perspective, a child is learning a new word every two hours of every waking moment. Without trying."
--William Alexander, "Flirting with French", about struggling to master a language as a 57 year old. I'm not sure I fully agree with "without trying", though.
"Middle age is that perplexing time in life where we hear two voices calling us, one saying, Why not? and the other, Why bother?"
--Syndey J. Harris. Which reminds me, if I'm going to do that "every man should read Don Quixote three times" (as a young man, in middle age, when old - I should find the source of the admonition, it's stuck with me since high school) I should probably suck it up and do that one of these years.
Upstairs neighbor confirms the smell is probably pollen, not cat pee. So... hooray?

May 23, 2015

"The eagle that hears the whizz of an arrow as it strikes its heart sees that the arrow has been feathered with its own plumes."
--"Capolavoro", a weird parody of an arthouse flick insde GTA5...

May 24, 2015

GAH TICKS - like I didn't distrust nature enough!

May 25, 2015

Great story on Ali, Liston and that photo...

Liston's epitaph of "A Man" is pretty bad ass.
"You were thinkin' too much. I mean, he's there, he's hittin' ya, ya can't think about this, Joey, it takes too long."
"I thought you said it was a mental game."
"In a sense, yes. But primarily, no. Primarily, you gotta hit the guy."
--Ethan Coen, "Destiny" (speaking of boxing...)

May 26, 2015

"Though he never lived to hear of either wave or particle theories of light, Vincent understood that one doesn't just simply 'see' a chair or a table, but rather that one's eyes are actually caressed by the light that bounces off them. Color, while being the most visible thing we can know about a tree, is also created by that part of light that the tree has cast off. The tree absorbs all the other light waves of color, welcomes them as part of itself; the green we see is the negative, the reflected-off reality it wants no part of. Where its definition of itself ends, our definition of it is just beginning."
--Lucy Grealy
"Sometimes love does not have the most honorable beginnings, and the endings, the endings will break you in half. It's everything in between we live for."
--Ann Patchett
"If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he eats for life. If you build a robot to fish, do all men starve, or do all men eat?"
--Scott Santens, via this Atlantic piece on Basic Income

moon

May 27, 2015
I'm always a little bummed the moon's surface isn't more of a recognizable shape. But this is it with the ISS passing in front...

she's a wonder, wonder woman

May 28, 2015

May 29, 2015

Going through old photos. Took this one in 2001, with this weird click-on attachment camera for the Palm Pilot, the Kodak PalmPix.

May 30, 2015

"If there is a god, I don't like him."
--Annie Korzen's mother (a jewish woman who became rather secular after WW2)

May 31, 2015

Lately I've been daydreaming about what it would be like to "quantum leap" back into my past self and cope with the technology I was using then. (Of course, I guess it would be more true to the show to try and fix all of the problems I've made for myself, but that's a different episode.)

Just tons of little things: "Oh right, my first iPhone didn't have copy and paste and the network was super slow" "Oh yeah, you used to have to type URLs into the address bar, Google keywords had their own box," "Oops no cellphone!" "Oh dang, Windows 95 didn't really support USB"... " "Windows 3.1 things minimized to icons, no task bar", "Oh tape walkman!" etc etc.

And more recently I've been sorting through old digital photos, separating the wheat from the chaff. And besides appreciating a few well composed shots and savoring photos of people I miss, it's often the background incidentals I find interesting: what was on my bookshelves, how an old shared apartment was arranged, what decoration it had, and of course those glimpses of technology (like an old browser open to some random page, or a PalmPilot lying on a table, etc)

I guess close inspection of these images is as close to "quantum leap" time travel as I'll be able to get. Some I'm disturbed how we're all borderline amnesiacs (this happens to everyone, right?) -- these photos from a decade ago show events I have no real recollection of, sometimes even people I don't know anymore. (Though of course, memories are so often made by later remembrance rather than at the moment of the event, so this kind of photographic review is an exercise in remembering more deeply.)

Right now I'm back to the very early 2000s, which is also when I started a daily diary, so sometimes I'm able to cross-correlate events when the photos don't tell the full story. (You know, there was an uptick in photos around this time as well, and it was after I philosophized my way out of being uptight about death. That might not be a coincidence...)

Of course, the sheer volume is a bit overwhelming. I've been an avid digital photographer for over 15 years (and was taking selfies before it was cool) -- sometimes I'm distraught at how little time I've had on the planet, but these photos remind me by their shear volume that it was actually quite a lot.

Related: on the benefits of living more deeply in the past... or the future... or the present.
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