kirk.is | archive | 2015 oct

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October 1, 2015


-- http://drawbartdraw.com/
WAIT WAIT WAIT IT'S PRONOUNCED WAH-KEEN???

Man. I have been getting all of my news via text on screen, I guess.
I liked the underwater bit on the 5th and the swing ride on the 26th...

bad ux is a misdemeanor against humanity & google inbox "speed dial" is a joke.

september 2015 new music playlist

October 2, 2015
Music I added last month... 4-stars in red, the first four videos are worth a watch.

"It's a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you're ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any."
--Hugh Laurie (just to have it in text)

October 3, 2015

"Why did the chicken cross the road?" "I don't know, but I'm tired of living in a world in which we always question the chicken's motives."
--The Minimalists

October 4, 2015

"Is it crazy how saying sentences backwards creates backwards sentences saying how crazy it is?"
--Have_One on https://www.reddit.com/r/showerthoughts/

October 5, 2015


--drimble on http://b3ta.com/

October 6, 2015

I really like this TV by Samsung
I fell asleep to the Seahawks/Lions game last night, and for some reason hearing about a completely wrong call REALLY hits my "THIS INJUSTICE SHOULD NOT BE" buttons...
A tumor stole every memory I had. This is what happened when it all came back. The relationship between our mind and our physical brain and our sense of self and our relationship with the universe is amazing and at times unnerving.

October 7, 2015


Lovely Short Story about letters from beyond the grave. Resonates a bit for me with the letters I write plotting my super-niece's development, to be handed over when she's 16 or so.

October 8, 2015

Amused by this compilation of Mulder + Scully pics (fbi engagement photos, fbi prom, fbi pregnancy announcement, or fbi YA novel, etc)
Man, I know Slate isn't THE most prestigious journalism, but have we really gotten to where we can do the katakana shruggie instead of saying "shrug"?

see also...

Man- the Wayback Machine's first entry for my first domain alienbill.com goes back to 1996. Round up to 20 years... 20 years before that is, like,the disco era.

October 9, 2015

Thinking about the "Freedom Caucus" that is stopping the Republicans from having an orderly transition of Speaker of the House. In my naive understanding, it seems a bit like a parliamentary system where there are multiple parties and the need for coalition governments: Republicans have 247 seats (vs Democrats' 188) but since 42 of them are "Freedom Caucus" they have veto power over some things that need a majority of Congress (218) to run. (It would be even more ironic if Republicans minus FC was less than Democrats, but since the 2015 election that's not the case.)

Lets hope the "Freedom Caucus" doesn't get much more power. They're willing to trash the economy with their debt ceiling terrorism.
from my FB post: The PVC scaffolding for the JP Honk hoop banner underwent a major upgrade, thanks to Tuba Honker Kirk and his buddy "'EB". Instead of just being 2 loooong poles and 2 short ones making a rectangle to hang the hoops on (see last years picture below) the new design comes apart, with two fold out bits (kind of like the stand for a tv tray) and two shorter connecting pipes. It should be a lot easier to travel with, a bit sturdier, it can be carried by two people or maybe even one, and should do a better job of standing on its own when the band isn't on the march.






October 10, 2015

Getting all kinds of psyched for HONK! Fest 2015​ - me and my tuba will be at the School of Honk open rehearsal/performance at 3 today (Kenney Park near Davis), the "real" concert at VFW Dilboy Hall at 6, marching with JP Honk on the big parade between Davis and Harvard Square tomorrow at noon, then back with School of Honk on the Harvard Square main stage at 5:30 to support the trombone choir, and then the All Band Jam! Check out http://honkfest.org/2015-festival/schedule-2015/ for details if you're in the area and stop by- there should be a TON of awesome music all over the place.

October 11, 2015

On the escalator at Davis Square T, I have an epiphany: tubas are kind of ridiculous.

(that yellow strip is a cheat sheet to "Seven Nation Army" I put on a long time ago....)

October 12, 2015

The Placebo Effect and Videogames Interesting. I've been thinking about the imperfect information you get in videogames. Especially for FPS-style games for casual players: it's hard to tell if you're killed because of a smart computer opponent vs your inexperience or just because of a weapon imbalance in the game or what not- I think that tends to put a damper on the need for good AI in games. (I remember reading a book behind the scenes in "Wing Commander", that mentioned when the enemy spacecraft were visible they swoop and loop and try and look cool, but when you couldn't see them they'd just try to head straight for your tail.)
Lately I've been thinking about scanning some old high school and college docs and getting rid of them. The cringe-worthiness of my writing at the time made this Slate article on youthful writing haunting us online resonate for me. And I wonder if I'm a better writer, a better judge, or what.

October 13, 2015


october blender of love

"[Christopher Columbus] discovered the New World much like a meteorite discovered the dinosaurs."
--The Oatmeal, http://theoatmeal.com/comics/columbus_day suggesting we celebrate Bartolomé Day instead.

October 14, 2015

Ugh, 1AM and the building is thrumming with the bass sounds of the paving equipment on Mass Ave outside. (For a while they were incorporated into my dreams as the background engine noise in a "Bioshock Infinite"-esque floating city fantasia, but no longer.)

My tax dollars at work!
"But if you're like me and find yourself making really slow progress, with your Toss and Donate piles growing slowly, if at all, you might have a bigger problem. Obviously you don't want to self-diagnose a psychological condition like hoarding just because you read a column on a comedy website. You'd need some kind of quiz for that. "
--Chris Bucholz, in Cracked's 8 Insane Tips For Cleaning Your Home
Keeping up with PVC frame craftiness, I designed a stand for a foam-board pinned poster to place on my table as I launch the physical version of my comic at Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo 2015. All the joints and enough pipe for me to make a mistake or three was less than $10.


October 15, 2015

Whoa, people whoa are the opposite of face blind!
I'm there - or at least, my tuba bell - bobbing around in the back row on the right side:

October 16, 2015

"A human being is primarily a bag for putting food into. The other functions and faculties may be more godlike, but in point of time they come afterwards."
--George Orwell, via http://blog.longreads.com/2015/10/14/i-would-rather-be-herods-pig-the-history-of-a-taboo/

via http://www.pleated-jeans.com/2015/10/16/19-people-and-animals-that-regret-everything/

the pitch

October 17, 2015
The Pitch @ MICE: "Cures crippling existential dread or your money back!" And I mean it.

(PS, many thanks to Liz for hauling me over and helping me set up stuff, and then even running back to the house to grab by business cards, which by chance had a sample of art from a prior draft of the book)

October 18, 2015

Random language question: less sexist term of "sitting behind a table" (like on a convention floor) than "manning the table"? "watching" is the best I've come up with (but only because of what I could thank Liz​ for doing yesterday so I could check out the rest of the show) I googled two guides to gender neutral language, but no-one suggests a generalized term for "being a human taking care of something", just case specific terms like "answering the phones", "operating the space shuttle"....
The other day I found this link with a lot of peer-reviewed studies (which I still with a great big grain of salt) about the neurological differences between the brains of people who lean liberal and those who lean conservative. Some of feels like "just so" stories and I don't think any single study proves a whole lot, but taken as a group it's kind of interesting.
"Tinder is a turn-based strategy game, and nightclubs are real-time strategy games"
--aedot, https://www.reddit.com/r/Showerthoughts/

October 19, 2015

Colts had an amusingly weird and absolutely terrible play last night against the Pats.
Is this how the Zombie Apocalypse starts?
As the weather takes a turn for the chilly, I would encourage everyone to turn their minds back to when Spring emerged after that super snowy winter... on the one hand it can feel like "summer went by so fast" but on the other hand, we've been enjoying warm temperatures for what felt like a long time... if you bring a little mindfulness to things you can better savor the abundance of time almost all of us are given.
David Byrne on Internet Music and how it hurts artists. I really don't "get" the appeal of streaming music. If you had told me fifteen years ago: "here in the future people can buy any song they want - as a single even! - for around a buck, and have their whole music collection on a lil' walkman-like gadget!" I would have been even more surprised by the follow-up: "But the trend is to use those same gadgets as a fancy, heavily-customized-station radio that you have to pay for on a monthly basis" The latter sounds even more nuts than the former. (Good thing I don't try to explain to my 2000-era self about Shazam and SoundHound; that stuff just feels like black magic.)

the interpretive screenshots of "invasion of the space invaders"

October 20, 2015
Martin Amis is an English novelist. One of the very strangest bits of his career, the most out of character for him as an author, was a guide to video games (with a weird, jaded "streetwise" view of culture around the arcades, then in its prime) called Invasion of the Space Invaders. The author generally won't talk about the book, and as The Million's 2012 review of it quotes Sam Leith:
Anything a writer disowns is of interest, particularly if it’s a frivolous thing and particularly if, like Amis, you take seriousness seriously.
On a whim I bought a copy of this hard to find book (I think I paid a bit over $100 for it a few years ago; currently the one copy listed on Amazon is going for north of $500) Recently I undid the binding of my copy and scanned it in and sent it to Anna Anthropy for Annarchive, her repository of old shareware and other video game historical artifacts- you can download the full copy there, and it's kind of an amazing piece, though as Anna points out full of casual homophobia, racism, and a surprising amount of references to child prostitution.

But there's also overwrought gameplay advice prose like this for Pac-Man:
Do I take risks in order to gobble up the fruit symbol in the middle of the screen? I do not, and neither should you. Like the fat and harmless saucer in Missile Command (q.v.), the fruit symbol is there simply to tempt you into hubristic sorties. Bag it
and
PacMan player, be not proud, nor too macho, and you will prosper on the dotted screen.
There was another great quote:
"That seems to be the psychology behind Atari. You can never win, and you always can get better."
--Major Robinson on Battlezone et al in Martin Amis' "Invasion of the Space Invaders"
Besides the prose (and referring to Steve Jobs as "Atari's Steve Jobs") what I find most striking about the book are the obviously reconstructed screenshots. I guess in an era where video games were tough to photograph (presumably in smoky arcades with cranky owners) it made sense to hire graphic artists to recreate the shots... sometimes that can be done for artistic effect (like all those Activision boxart screenshots) but my feeling is these were made to look relatively authentic (and I left out a few actual screenshots they included, like for Frogger and Turbo.)

Centipede probably first made me think about how odd the "screenshots" were, because Centipede seems to have been travelling back up, something that can never happen in the game:

Other shots had distinctive tells, like the wall-eyed enemies in its take on Pac-Man:

Actually, Pac-Man is especially jolting because he (semi-charmingly) calls the enemies "The PacMen" and the player's character "The Lemon", or more specifically "the dot-munching Lemon that goes whackawhackawhackawhacka". (To be fair, there has long been some confusion if the enemies are "monsters", "ghosts" or "ghost monsters".)

Their Donkey Kong interpretation has the Jumpman bald and sans cap.


The book has a lot of other incidental art as well...
That's kind of an early example of a long tradition of "Donkey Kong not looking quite like he does on the arcade game itself".

The remaining examples are all space shooters or similar:
Defender:


Missile Command:


Scramble:


Pleiades:


Galaxian:


Gorf:


Other random art... I sort of like how this one implies the spaceship pilot might be longing for a home planet, or maybe just bringing forth the idea the space station IS home:


And to end with the beginning, we'd be amiss not mention the Amis cover:



The amount of snark in that guy's stance is impressive (PS: Introduction by Steven Spielberg! Strange times.)

I do wonder what technique, presumably analog, was used to get the pixel effect in all of the screenshots.

Also:

October 21, 2015

Happy Back to the Future Day... funny that we all got hung up on hover boards, I think flying cars would really help with traffic. And according to this clip from the movie, you can "hover convert" existing road cars into "skyway flyers!"

October 22, 2015

Paint night! I was a little "off-model"

(It's the panel that inspired this comic of mine.)

October 23, 2015

Like Edwin Taylor says, the future does not exist.

Another way of looking at it is: the universe is in the process of running a crazily chaotic algorithm, and while we can make some crude predictions and extrapolations, in practice there's no way of seeing the result of those calculations besides letting the universe go ahead and run 'em.

I will never not post something smart that mocks Searle's "Chinese Room". Though I wonder if this is a different model of the Chinese Room than I was thinking; this one implies that every possible conversational twist and turn is laid out, while the version I've been told involves hand-wavey "symbol manipulation"
Wow-- screw Uber, screw Chase, screw Register.com

So a month or two ago I started getting bogus Uber charges.

Fine. I contact Chase, dispute the charges, they cancel the card, etc.

2 1/2 months later I get snail mail from Chase telling me they've disputed the Uber charges. Plus Amazon, Foodler, and Register.com.

WHAT THE $(@#&$(#@&$.

Amazon suspended account activity, but hopefully I settled up with them in pretty short order.

Register though... they just lock the account and release the domains to the wild. Specifically so vulture domain squatters like "New Venture" can swoop and demand a ransom if it were a domain I cared about... which here, mercifully, is not the case. But it's serious 1 strike you're out time, even for an account that has been quietly paying them for over a decade.

What a bogus policy, and what a screw up by Chase.

October 24, 2015

"That seems to be the psychology behind Atari. You can never win, and you always can get better."
----Major Robinson on Battlezone et al in Martin Amis' "Invasion of the Space Invaders"

October 25, 2015

The pumkins from last night's rendition Sarah's annual jack-o-lantern party... mine is second from the left, a kind of lame "Deal with Sunglasses" face with subtle vampire teeth


Even though I haven't had a sleepless night since assembling the philosophies that form the skeleton of "So, You're Going to Die", bedtime still seems a fertile time for that "oh man, death is weird!" passing thought. The other day, I had a weird sleepy thought of -- maybe I can view death as some kind of reward? Like, it's a definite and important part of the human experience, and something I'll definitely have the honor of experiencing for my myself. Yes, like everyone I wish I had more choice about when it happens (and the aging that will likely happen before it) but you know, it's something I get to find out about.

October 26, 2015

Funnest fan theory today: Luke, Sith Lord
I think one of the weirdest things about the prequels, from the point of view of an 80s kid, was the transition from it being "Luke's Story" to "the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker".
http://www.bostontubachristmas.com/ Somehow I have managed to not go to Tuba Christmas since my Cleveland Days- I'm gonna this year tho! 2PM Nov. 28 Faneuil Hall . It's an amazing sound!

October 27, 2015






--PETSCII (like the C64 used) graphics via textmode tumblr I wish I understood face/caricature/art better in general.
http://pc.textmod.es/pack/galza-23/ - even more of that great PETSCII

October 28, 2015


London has a clever help for what to do with chewing gum. Personally I am filled with righteous fury when I see someone spit that where someone can step on it.
I feel like I may have back slid on patience a bit not getting unduly frustrated by relatively small time delays... not that its ever been a strong point of mine.

It's like I'm a crazy miser sometime; I have a wealth of time in my life and my day, but I begrudge every little nickel and dime, especially when I can easily see how the delay could be otherwise. (4 people in front of me at dunkies? Time to sigh dramatically and roll my eyes! What's up with that?)

October 29, 2015

Wow. Amazing timelapse of an overnight bridge demolition.

http://www.lamebook.com/dear-teenage-skater/ Worth reading
Ah sweet Arlington. No time like twenty of midnight to bust out the old pneumatic drill.

October 30, 2015

Apple in-store display ad at a CompUSA, circa 2003. I'm kind of not sure what to think about it, but human diversity is amazing.

"How can you be bored? Our baby's like a work of art... it's like being at the Guggenheim all day."
"Do NOT bring up the Guggenheim... remember they kicked me out for tripping and falling all the way down the spiral?"
--The Mindy Project. I admit, this made me LLOLL (literally laugh out loud loudly). I think the juxtaposition of high art (literally) and low...(err, also literally, I guess.)

October 31, 2015

Sunday I'll be joining up again with School of Honk for their weekly parade (stepping off from Thunder Road around 4, after a practice at 3) -- here's what we sounded like at HONK! fest -- I'm obscured through a lot of it it but if you look and listen you'll find me easily.

School of Honk - Honk Festival 2015 - We Got That Fire from Patrick Johnson on Vimeo.

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