kirk.is | archive | 2015 jul

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July 1, 2015

"As the Buddha said two and a half thousand years ago... we're all out of our f***ing minds!"
--Albert Ellis
I attribute too much malicious intentionally to inanimate objects, and possibly too little to people, some of whom have agendas they actively pursue but keep to themselves.
"Masshole" has just been added to the OED. Hooray!?
You know, one thing that might get me to shell out for a replacement for this cracked iPad mini (when, weirdly, I could buy a cheapo windows laptop for less) is the way it's Kindle app is one of the few iterations that lets me highlight in colors (in my case, yellow for 'that's interesting', blue for stuff I want to quote, and red for stuff I disagree with.)

July 2, 2015

Heh, a photo I took in Kanazawa, Japan made it into this set of Leandro Erlich's Swimming Pool (It's the second one in the set, with a person looking like they're reading the paper.) Must've been taken from this flickr page -- at one point the artist's studio contacted me about using it in a book but I'm not sure if anything came of it.

Still funny and cool to see a photo I took show up on my tumblr feed! I remember that happening with a photo I posted of Maureen​ 's cat Murphy, that got turned into a MOAR! MOAR! MOAR! meme

"So, assume you're two parents. One kid: You can double team. Two kids, play it man-to-man. Three or more, all you can do is run a zone defense..."
--My paraphrase of Sayf Sharif​ citing his friend on the relative difficulties of various number of kids...
Oh, Apple. If I "Arrange by Size" I'd really like to sort by size, not in a chunk of "From 1 MB to 100 MB"

Plus, please straighten out that thing where newly added files sometimes get shown as "No Date" in finder. That's serious amateur hour crap.

July 3, 2015

"Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work."
--Chuck Close

July 4, 2015

On the Charles waiting for fireworks...

July 5, 2015

This made me laugh way more than it should have, especially since I was going kayaking the next day after I found it, and so was tempting murphy and his law...
http://dogscantlookup.com/post/123075968266/practicaljoking-rawkfist

followup:Max + Sarah Q+A

July 6, 2015

"Religion exists for two reasons: life is hard and death is terrifying"
--ronnythextacle, https://www.reddit.com/r/Showerthoughts/
"I'm so proud and so zapped at the same time."
--Carli LLoyd after helping the USA beat Japan in the Woman's World Cup, after a beauty like this:

Did not realize 'zapped' was a word...

"Do you know why the universe is so dark / It's cuz you're not really looking"
--Vaida, http://vaidap.itch.io/safe-place-for-dust
"I feel bad for photons that travel 93 million miles from the sun and then have to bounce off your stupid face."
--http://twitter.com/TheCiscoKidder

July 7, 2015

Last month's One Second Everyday... visual highlights include Slip and slide on the 7th, Go-Karting and Parasailing on the 16th and 17th, nice ocean splash on the 19th

"We spend our childhood learning to suppress our emotions, we spend our adulthood learning to express them again."
--tanman1975, https://www.reddit.com/r/Showerthoughts/
http://www.wired.com/2015/07/the-pen-is-back/ Always been a fan of the stylus, Steve Jobs throwing shade not withstanding.

July 8, 2015

Slate rips into Ernest Cline's "Armada". "Ready Player One" was the most self-indulgent, nostalgia-coasting, Marty-Stu, spot-the-80s-reference, 'weren't we just the awesomest? well weren't we?' piece of crap I've ever read. (The only semi-redeemable bit was an enjoyable Kaiju Big Battel that coasted on mashing up all these characters you know from other, better works of pop culture) Apparently "Armada" shows that one weird trick might be the only trick this author knows.

I'm not generally one to judge so harshly; any popular book is doing SOMETHING right, but what this book does well is so not worth doing that I get upset how it has grabbed attention that would have better gone to other superior musings on video games in sci fi (like Leonard Richardson's Constellation Games, a book that really made an effort to thoughtfully speculate about what the games of a starfaring alien society's distant past (i.e. when they were roughly at our level of technology) might have been like. (Disclaimer: I did some reviewing/suggestions for that title... but it really is fantastic.)

In other genres, it's nice to know Milan Kundera is back
"To get married today is to announce, to yourself and to the world, your belief that you are a coherent person capable of extrapolating your current wishes, priorities, and motivations into the future. To get married today is to recognize yourself as a grown-up at a time when other ways of enacting adulthood are notably limited."
--Alice Gregory
Charles Dickens would stockpile names for use for characters...

Boys' Names: Robert Ladle, Joly Stick, Bill Marigold, Stephen Marquick, Jonathan Knotwell, Philip Browndress, Henry Ghost, George Muzzle, Walter Ashes, Zephaniah Ferry (or Fury), William Why, Robert Gospel, Thomas Fatherly, Robin Scrubban

Girls' Names: Sarah Goldsacks, Rosetta Dust, Susan Goloring, Catherine Two, Matilda Rainbird, Miriam Denial, Sophia Doomsday, Alice Thorneywore, Sally Gimblet, Verity Mawkyard, Birdie Nash, Ambrosina Events, Apaulina Vernon, Neltie Ashford

Man, every one of those would be a great band name!... stolen from The Atlantic who got it from Shaun Usher's "Lists of Note"

june 2015 new music playlist

July 9, 2015
June was pretty decent for new music for me. If you check out nothing else, look at Super Spice Bros 2.
  • Super Spice Bros 2 (Old Spice) This is advertising turned up to way beyond 11. At least 15 or 16. I love the little touches in it.
Hip Hop / Electronic: Indie and Country:
  • Wicked Ones (DOROTHY) Some of that epic / western-tinged stuff
  • Wasp Nest (The National) Mellow, sad song. The refrain "you're a wasp nest" is weirdly visceral and evocative.
  • Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (Crosby, Stills & Nash) Years ago I recorded the quote "Fear is the lock, and laughter the key, to your heart". Now I realize this was what Weird Al Was parodying in Mission Statement
  • Aw Naw (Chris Young) My Aunt introduced me to this fun dumb country song. Aw Naw != "Aw HELL Nah".
  • Default (Django Django) Very Phoenix-like Indie stuff.
Funk and Instrumental:
  • Sweet Dreams Are Made of This (The Soul Rebels) My college A cappella group covered this, and the brass version is sweet.
  • They Will Know We Are Christians (Mosaic) I think once upon a time I had a cassette with the Star Lake Men's Chorus doing a kick butt version of this song, with a tight drum and piano. This is as close as I could find. I think it's also the best aspiration for Christianity.
  • Our God Is an Awesome God (Rich Mullins) Another song from my more religious youth. This isn't the version I grabbed, which also has Organ, but it's short and powerful and fun to harmonize to.
  • Solid (Soulive) Instrumental, reminds me a bit of Booker T & The M.G.s - used as bumper music on WNYC
  • I Believe In Miracles (Jackson Sisters) I think the Beastie Boys sampled from this... great 70s funk

via Gizmodo, housing values across the USA. I love how this looks like a beating heart energized by where people want to live.

Fascinating post-exit interview with a "Blue Man". We've gotten kind of used to them, but they've really assembled an amazing thing.
In defense of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. That was a fun show.
"dont say 'man up' say 'level up' because video games are cooler than gender binary"
--alonerwolf, http://alonerwolf.tumblr.com/
SO IT TURNS OUT Crown Royal on the rocks is kind of gross but Crown Royal neat alternating with Skinny Cow Chocolate Truffle popsicles is sort of awesome. WHO KNEW???

July 10, 2015

"Every time you write, ask yourself: Could this scene take place in a hot-air balloon? If the answer is yes, then it probably should."
--Haruki Murakami (?), We Asked 8 Famous Authors For The Most Important Advice They'd Give To Young Writers
On my UI blog, I really love this sleep sort...
Donald Trump Chrome Plugin - Enhance all of your browser's references to Donald Trump with pithy quotes from the man himself
Atomic Fireball candy in the Apples & Cinnamon Quaker Instant Oatmeal I get for free at work. Great idea, or greatest idea?
Last Night The Jamaica Plain Honk Band​ did a gig in co-operation with the Hyde Square Task Force, and afterwards a few of us ducked in the formerly closed Blessed Sacrament church to encounter the acoustics of the empty sanctuary... this is before we put together some jams, Pachelbel Canon, and Toccata and Fugue...

jp porchfest in map form!

July 11, 2015
Today was the JP Porchfest! It was very gratifying to see people walking around with the 11x17 paper map I hacked together from the website:






Last year's map was easier, because everything fit more easily on one side of a page. People tell me it's fine but I'd love to think of ways of aiding people plotting an afternoon for themselves.

cool modular chair and desk

July 12, 2015
I just found out my mom saved something I remember from my childhood bedrooms - these were crafted by my Grandpa "Jack" Israel:


Put together, they form a (rocking, optionally) chair and desk set!


They were also the canvas for one of my earliest exeunt artworks... I think it's a lady, in an oddly zig-zaggy dress:


I don't know if they were my grandfather's original design, or if the plans were in some kind of book or magazine. But they're kind of great! And now they have a new happy home...


July 13, 2015

"It was the month of June, the morning sun was emerging from the clouds, and Alain was walking slowly down a Paris street. He observed the young girls, who--every one of them--showed her naked navel between trousers belted very low and a T-shirt cut very short. He was captivated; captivated and even disturbed: It was if their seductive power no longer resided in their thighs, their buttocks, or their breasts, but in that small round hole located in the center of the body."
--Milan Kundera, opening of "The Festival of Insignificance". Reminds me a bit of these old David Rakoff quotes I saved eight (!) years ago, http://kirk.is/2007/09/13/
I remember Veronika​ thinking that the drinking fountains at our high school were kind of weird and gross, and it's funny, and maybe not a great thing, that culturally we kind of came around to that way of thinking...

July 14, 2015

It took "Scare Me" by Major Lazer to realize that the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" is just about the same riff as the Eurythmics "Sweet Dreams".




July 15, 2015

This Amazon Prime Day thing is a bit underwhelming. I think the problem is people (ok, maybe especially people who have the luxury of not sweating most prices too much) are already use to the wacky disconnects between "Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price" and Amazon will charge 'em, or the prices variations you can get from different Amazon affiliates, or even aware of the obnoxious algorithmic flex pricing where different Amazon users might get offered different prices, or even variations at different times. So a big row of "X% offs!" might not be such an appeal.

Then there's the "offer expires" timer feature... I imagine this cranks up the excitement for some folks, but for others it just feels manipulative...
For future self-reference, "Manna" is the story about a future dystopia or utopia based on a fastfood automation being extended to take over the world... (Not Leonard Richardson's Mallory which is about video games) http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm

July 16, 2015

Rebekah​ is lending me the book "Set This House in Order", about people with Dissociative Identity Disorder (aka Multiple-Personality). I got to googling about the reality of it, since it is making such a compelling work of fiction. This Natasha Tracy article talking about it also made the claim that "All Mental Illness is an Amplification of Normal Behavior" and now I'm thinking about that claim.

It's not a new thought for me: almost ten years ago - http://kirk.is/2006/06/14/ - I got to musing about "shadow syndromes" in general, and this kind of spectrum thinking, and the conditions I felt some kind of possible affinity with...and the issue of the line between self-coddling, excuse-making half-assed self-diagnosis and legitimate chances for empathy that goes beyond mere sympathy.

Getting back to the "All Mental Illness is Amplification" claim... trying to definitively say when a quantitative distinction becomes a qualitative difference is a bit of a mug's game, I suppose. And I suppose there's a danger of having LESS sympathy if we start to say to someone who is suffering with mental illness "oh, buck up, everyone has that, you just have it a bit worse."

As I get older I feel like I'm a bit more aware of my way of interacting with the world. I still struggle with seeing myself as others see me, the whole "problem of other minds" shtick. And sometimes I'm worried maybe I'm not that much more aware, I'm just remember the more recent bits of awareness better than the stuff in the past.

It'll be fun to watch my parade of friends kids, some of them virtual nieces nephews, as they run into this stuff for themselves. Maybe too I'll learn a little more about myself, and how I looked to my elders as the unbearably precocious punk kid I was, and maybe there will even be a chance to help these kids mold themselves in ways that will foster their own self growth.

July 17, 2015

Last night was "Paint and Wine Night" at work...

...lesson learned, nowadays you can't paint dragons without someone assuming it's a Game of Thrones reference!

July 18, 2015

new prescription sunglasses! a little too polarized though, but I dig the pseudo-mirrorshade effect.

July 19, 2015

A blast from the past... Strindberg and Helium... it's enormously fun to imitate both characters.

July 20, 2015

Aww, nuts. Davis Square's Johnny D's set to close. I was chuffed that I got to play there last year, at Chandler Travis' Christmas Cavalcades. Such a landmark...
"The most significant difference I notice switching from a flip phone to a smart phone is that the number of times one can break-up and reunite in one week is greatly enhanced."
--J.M.
"I'd like to say there's a correlation between the quality of the girl and the song, but there's not. Some perfectly good girls got no songs at all - I have no explanation for that. It's a matter of poetics. There's no justice in poetics."
--Steve Earle (Saw him live at the Wilbur last week thanks to my cousin Billy)
"A nor'easter is just a frozen hurricane - and those things are THAWING OUT..."
--Steve Earle

July 21, 2015

"Celebrities should adopt pets from shelters and then offload them onto normal people who would take them because they were previously owned by a celebrity."
--tones2013, https://www.reddit.com/r/Showerthoughts/
"Gambling is essentially believing in the heart of the cards."
--fortunesflavour
NYC Woman Throws Herself Off Rooftop Bar, Party People Keep Drinking This is sad - I think I met the woman in question at a "BeaconWeek" presentation. Faigy Mayer was an aspiring app developer, with a special focus on apps to help other people who were also breakaways from the hasidim community. (Other reports say most people at the bar had no idea about what had happened)
I don't know the story of her current struggle, but she's in a documentary about ex-Hasidic folk... -- what a tough transition to make.

July 22, 2015

"The eyes might be the window to the soul but the nose is the front door to the brain."
--Elio
Kind of old news now, but I love this "Everything's a Product" parody in the Honest Trailer for The Lego Movie:


New glasses!

July 23, 2015

"The two things you need to know about exponential growth: it lets you get to large numbers very quickly. And it always runs into physical barriers."
--Maciej Cegłowski in Web Design: The First 100 Years which points out we've reached some stability in what our devices can do, and that echoes how the airline industry plateaued. We COULD build supersonic passenger jets and moonbases, but we don't. Similarly, in college in the 90s if I didn't get a new computer every year or two I was qualitatively behind in what my machine could do. Nowadays, I would barely notice issues with a laptop that was 5 years old. (And my hopes for a "techno rapture of the nerds" Singularity is diminished every time I have an interaction that reminds me of how there's just no there there with Siri...)

Not that there's not still a lot of room for change: self-driving vehicles are going to be super-disruptive.

Also: I really like seeing transcriptions of this kind of presentation, where I can skim/read at my own pace but still enjoy photos that half the time just provide general feel and a sense of being rooted. Electronic text often lacks that; I think that's one of the reasons comprehension and retention lags with electronic readers. But to me it feels like "arbitrary" images returns some sense of the physicality that would be otherwise lost.

July 24, 2015

http://nextdraft.com/ - this daily email newsletter is worth signing up for, about the only thing besides Quora and "Javascript News" that I appreciate having sent to my inbox. It would do a decent of keeping you up with the biggest news stories, a few more relevant bits, and then an almost always funny "Bottom of the News" couple of items. The curation is first rate. They also have an app if you prefer that to email.

seaport has the best clouds sometimes

July 25, 2015

I had to bring those cool sunglasses back to get the lenses replaced; the person helping me at the eyeglass place didn't bother to ask if I wanted polarized or no.

Like this site says:
Polarized lenses can be troubling for people who need to see LCD (liquid crystal displays) screens clearly. In fact, wearing polarized lenses can make an LCD screen difficult to read and can even make it seem to disappear completely at certain angles. Therefore, operators of heavy equipment or pilots should not wear polarized lenses
Umm, given the number of screen based gadgets we have in our lives, that kind of means NO ONE should wear polarized lenses. Duhhr.

And it wasn't just my local gadgets (it was kind of funny, actually: my iPad 2 was fine in portrait mode and a totally black screen in landscape) but I'd see weird patterns on electronic billboards and gas pump LCD screens etc.

Also, without asking they included a brown tint; for a while I thought the kind of weirdly omnious, pre-storm-looking shade was a side effect of the funky blue mirroring I requested, but no: they just slapped it on. The remade lenses will have a more neutral gray tint.

Man, I hate bad "default settings" for stuff like this... ah well, their (company's) lost, it just cost me some time.

July 26, 2015

My comic now in print!

...now what? ;-)

July 27, 2015

A Poem by Brenda Shaughnessy:

A Mix Tape: "Don't You (Forget About Me)"

"Think of the tender things that we were working on." – Simple Minds

Such a delicious pain in the ass to make,
on a double deck if you were lucky,

otherwise you had to drop the needle
onto the precise groove as your left

index hit PLAY/RECORD, taking all
afternoon or many. Mistakes, thinking

too hard about what you wanted
to tell the person but couldn't say

any other way. It was always
"I love you," didn't you know?

Mix tape: private language, lost art,
first book, cri de coeur, x-ray, diary.

An exquisitely direct and sweet
misunderstanding. We weren't

fluent yet but we lived in its nation,
tense and sweaty for an anthem.

Receiving a mixtape could be major,
depending on from who; giving one

to someone in public was a dilemma.
You had to practice. Would you say,

nonchalantly, "Oh, here, I made you
a mixtape?" By the lockers? In class?

Ugh! But giving it over in private
could be worse, especially arranging it.

You never picked the best song off
the album, definitely not the hit single.

The deeper the cut the deeper buried
your feelings for that person. You didn't

know? Not all lovesongs, though--
that would make you seem obsessed,

boring. They should know you're fun
and also funny and dark-hearted

and, importantly, unpredictable.
A "Blasphemous Rumours" for every

"Only You." And sexy! Though not
Prince's moaners--not "Erotic City,"

not "Darling Nikki"! But what?
Not top 40, stylish, with a sly angle,

70s funk, some Stevie Wonder, like you've
got background you don't really have.

As it records, you have to listen to each
song in its entirety, and in this way

you hear your favorite song with the ears
of your intended, as they hear it, new.

This was the best feeling of your young
life. Then the cold chill of suddenly hearing

in your 3rd favorite INXS song a lyric
you'd break out in hives over if you thought

they thought you thought that about them
when they heard it: (there's something

about you, girl, that makes me sweat).
The only thing worse was the tape

running out a full minute before the end
of "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out."

You never got it right, not even once.
That was part of the mixtape's charm,

to your dismay. Did it ever win you
love? You never fell for anyone

else's mix either. Sometimes cool,
mostly was just someone else's

music in a case dense with tiny
handwriting to get all those titles in.

So much desire in those squeezed-in
letters. Not "love me!" so much as

"listen to me! Listen to me always!"
So that's really it, right? Maybe

you thought someday you'd make
a mixtape that your splendid friend,

your lucky star, your seventh stranger,
would take a pen to, punching in

the little plastic tabs which meant,
as you well know, it could never be

taped over again. They'd never use
your mixtape to make another mixtape,

to give away or to copy a friend's album
they didn't like enough to buy, joining all

the ok tapes in caddies stacked up a wall
or thrown in the backseat of the Datsun,

then in moving boxes, stored in parents'
garages, 5 for a buck at a yard sale,

buried in landfill, or, saddest of all,
discarded on the street, purple script

still aswirl on the white label FOR YOU--
JUST BECUZ. Shiny brown ribbon

tangled, strangled, never again to play
out what had to be said just that way.
Boston's tech problem is the same as its Olympics problem I'm bummed the Olympic Bid is dead, mostly because of the way this article has stuck in my head. We're too smart and neurotic to achieve greatness.

July 28, 2015

TIL a New Vocabulary Word: Gamine!

"a girl with mischievous or boyish charm."

Not unrelated to Manic Pixie Dream Girl, I'd say.

Source: http://joshreads.com/?p=25478

via
I'll bet you somewhere near, some illustrator is sighing and putting a little tricorn-hat wearing mascot proposal away in a dank filing cabinet.

July 29, 2015

I'm going to operate on the assumption that there's a decent chance your day will be improved by an image of Katharine Hepburn on a skateboard.

via

July 30, 2015

On those creepy remixes used in movie trailers
tl;dr: how much of expertise is legit, and how much is "just" a collection of good tricks?

Last night at practice for Honk @ The Hatch Shell I played with John, a tuba-player just out of college who was trying to make a go of full time freelance career of it.

It reminded me how recently I realized that Second Line Social Aid & Pleasure Society Brass Band, despite the touring they do and the amazing way they launched "Honk!" as a cultural thing, isn't an exclusive bunch of semi-pros but is open to aspiring beginners. Admittedly it looks like they look for more woodshed practice than I've historically put in, but still, it's interesting to know that if my current beloved band ever blew up it might be an option. (And in general I've been learning that tuba players seem to be in short supply.)

So, I feel like I punch above my weight a bit, tuba-wise; I certainly don't practice enough, but I have an ok ear and over the year I've gathered a lot of bass lines and what not that I get a lot of mileage out of.

Similarly, I met with my buddy Jeff​ today, and he is using me as an amateur game design consultant; another field where I'm proud of some of the stuff I've done but also feel like a duffer. (I'm kind of chuffed that he said talking to me is kind of refreshing, in terms of my kind of Jack of All Trades approach to things like music and game making, or that there's a general vibrance I pull off, relative to a lot of the people he runs into on a daily basis.) I quoted the old TMBG lyric "There's only two songs in me and I just wrote the third" which is how I feel about my approach to game design, so often going back to the well of handrolled x/y inertia.

Finally, Melissa​ (who does UX) mentioned wanting to increase her design chops, and that (along with the work I did for JP Porchfest and some personal website refurb I've been mulling over) made me think about my own design skills. And again, I feel like I have a small bag of tricks I come back to, supplemented by some decent intuition and thoughtfulness. (I like what I came up with to fill out the back side of the JP Porchfest poster, http://jpporchfest.org/2015/downloads/JP_Porchfest_v5.pdf ) It reminded me of the infographic I'm putting here for future reference; I love seeing shortcuts like that.

So I dunno. I understand full time experts can sometimes develop ungodly skills, but it feels like a number of disciplines play by 80/20 rules, where 80% can come pretty quickly with concentrated study, and sometimes that's absolutely plenty to get the job. Maybe this is all just kind of a balm for Impostor Syndrome (Like Ian Bogost says "The solution to impostor syndrome is to accept that you are in fact a fraud and just get on with it.")

from tumblr:
people: i can see ur bra thru ur shirt
me: o no!! now everyone can see that i, an average teen wear a bedazzled titty holder to hide the nip nops that society condemns as satanic pepperonis because it's not like we were born w them omg i'm so embarrassed :'[

July 31, 2015

That feel when the song from the album your high school girlfriend LOVED is only 99 cents on iTunes, not the de facto standard for up-to-date music of $1.29. Sure you're saving 30 cents but you feel somehow judged.
Watch Cops' stories coalesce. Ugh. I know cops have to protect their own and they are often placed in dangerous and uncertain situations, but they also need to accountable to the truth, always.
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