kirk.is | archive | 2016 jan

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January 1, 2016

2016!

This year I'd like to resolve to be a little more thoughtful in my speech; to just do a second of organizing my thoughts, cutting out the disclaimers (that shield be from any posibility of being *gasp* technically wrong) and not leading with the tangents (that show how clever I am).

Anyway, here is 2015, a second a day for the year...


I kind of like years that are divisible by 2 or 5, so the _4, _5, _6 run in the middle of a decade is a nice 3 year stretch. _1,_3,_7,_9 never feel as good.

January 2, 2016

The other resolution I should aim for is controlling a "flinch" reaction I've developed when I'm coding along, or indeed doing much of anything - when instant, ego-gratifying success on the next mico-baby-step of the project at hand is not assured, I have this strong impulse to walk away for a second. (When I'm straightening up my place, this leads to a lot of bouncing around from subtask to subtask). For stuff I'm really nervous or uncertain about, the flinch can last for days. I suppose I need to come up with some better strategy to respond to it than assuming "recognizing it as a thing" will lead me to having it under control... but even that's a start.

January 3, 2016

On my devblog Thoughts on a good presentation by Maciej Ceglowski
"Also remember: anything is a napkin if you try hard enough, all right? It'll come to you. When you need it."
--Matt Bellassai, Whine About It: Ways To Win At Thanksgiving... brilliant series of Bellassai downing a giant glass of wine and then pontificating brilliantly at his desk at work.
Wanted to include my "Just December" One Second Everyday - I loved the giant Climate rally on the 12th, and the final (for now) candle for me and UU Covenant Groups on the 15th... plus seeing my comic on the counter at Million Year Picnic on the next day...the squirrel on the 18th was pretty cool as well. And the year ended with a Jersey Shore Party... guess you had to be there!

december 2015 new music playlist

January 4, 2016
Semi-decent month for new music last month, the first one listed is the only 4-star.
  • Charlie On the MTA (Live) (The Heebee-jeebees) My one 4-star this month... I literally started laughing with delight the first time I heard it. This is a slightly different cover, but the way they take it lower and lower is so much fun...
  • Popcorn (Hot Butter) For being such a "hey electronic music!" song, this song's percussion is beautifully acoustic. Also: this video.
  • Bill Murray’s “Star Wars" (Oscar Isaac) The new Star Wars' awesome and enthusiastic supporting hero covering my favorite Star Wars lyrics? Yes please!
  • Drop It Like It's Hot (Pharrell Williams & Snoop Dogg) I only had a Best of Booty Mashup of this... I love the tongue cluck sound.
  • Mind Heist (Zack Hemsey) I was watching a video of how like every trailer now uses the "Inception Honk"...
  • Christmas At Ground Zero ("Weird Al" Yankovic) Eventually I'm going to get like every Weird Al song I loved on tape as a new MP3 purchase. I think the dark humor of this was a big influence on my Nuclear War Fun Club doodles.
  • Love the One You're With (The Isley Brothers) Tony at "Million Year Picnic" loves the Isley Bros. I'm still intrigued by the message of this song.
  • Nothing but a Heartache (The Flirtations) Some great R+B
  • Metroid II Return of Carmen Sandiego (Spindley Q Frog) Lovely mashup (Rockapella and Gameboy Chiptune) for a glorious little trainwreck.
  • Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone (The Mills Brothers & Tommy Dorsey) Folks at the Dunster Road Holiday Party had a great songbook including this one.
  • Brimful of Asha (Cornershop) Somehow I missed this one in the 90s. It's been pointed out as such a terrifically South-Asian-in-England song without needing to make a big frame around it.
  • Sesame Street (Maynard Ferguson) I played this in my high school senior talent night band, and I love the bassline - bringing it to my current bands now.
  • DADDY (feat. CL) (PSY) Not quite a Gangham Style, but still.. ."got it from daddy" resonates with me. Creepy video tho.
  • Look On Down from the Bridge (Mazzy Star) Remembering the scene from "Rick and Morty" where SPOILER (?) Morty is absorbing the fact he's now going to be in an alternate universe where everyone he knows is an identical copy of the people he really knew... I dunno, it's kind of great.

"To discard the stuff we've acquired is to murder the version of ourselves we envision using it."
--Laura Miller, in a critique of Marie Kondo's tidying up books and philosophy. She also cites June Thomas labeling it as encouraging an "anorexia of things." (I guess the counter-argument is: that's true, about the "murder", but so often that vision of what "could be, maybe" interferes with our pleasure in "what is")
All Hail DiscordiaFNORD...
Amused that Google Maps for IOS clearly wasn't tested in a walking city such as Boston; even when on a walking route it gives you real time turn directions blocks ahead of time, as if you were zipping along in a car.

January 5, 2016

Nice piece on the history of sporting beards in Western Culture...
"Snoopy may be shallow in his way, but he's also deep, and in the end deeply alone, as deeply alone as Charlie Brown is. Grand though his flights are, many of them end with his realizing that he's tired and cold and lonely and that it's suppertime."
--Sarah Boxer on "The Exemplary Narcissism of Snoopy"

annual media roundup

January 6, 2016
The media I consumed in 2015.
This year I added the trick of showing if the total for the category was higher or lower than 2014 year, and by how much. Fewer books than last year which is a bit worrisome, but meh.

As always, 4 star stuff in red, 5 star stuff in red AND bold, gray stuff I didn't like so much.

Movies at the Cinema (10 (-4))
Big Hero Six, Theory of Everything, Whiplash, Ex Machina, Mad Max: Fury Road, Wild Tales, Minions, Trainwrecks, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The new "Star Wars" was solid despite me not understanding how time and space now works in that galaxy.

Movies on Video (33 (+10))
The Interview, Bill Burr: I'm Sorry You Feel That Way, Dredd, Star Trek Into Darkness, Bruno, Jackass Number Two, Blowin' Smoke, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Get Lamp, Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Enders Game, Liberal Arts, happythankyoumoreplease, Hot Tub Time Machine 2, Judging Your Life, Ted, Road Trip, The Fall, The Last Unicorn, Wetlands, Get On Up, Transformers: Age of Extinction, 20 Feet from Stardom, Moon, Mad Max: Fury Road, Short Bus, Trainspotting, Kama Sutra, House on Haunted Hill, The Court Jester, Inception, A Christmas Carol (1938)
"Liberal Arts" had the brilliant quote "You think it's cool to hate things. And it's not. It's boring. Talk about what you love, keep quiet about what you don't." The James Brown bio "Get On Up" had some truly delectable 4th wall breaking. "Birdman" was a terrific bit of stunt filmmaking.

TV Show Seasons (14 (+2))
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 1, Broad City Season 1, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 2, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 3, Parks and Recreation Season 7, Broad City Season 2, Girls Season 4, Modern Family Season 6, New Girl Season 4, The Mindy Project Season 3, Game of Thrones Season 5, Orange is the New Black Season 3, It's Always Sunny in Philadephia Season 4, Rick and Morty Season 1
"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and "Broad City" are both darkly brilliant... and "Rick and Morty" keeps going back to that 'alternate reality/timeline' well, but it's such a deep damn well... and man I so miss "Parks and Rec"

Books (46 (-15))
As You Wish, Continue? The Boss Fight Books Anthology, Whatever, Codename Revolutoin: The Nintendo Wii Platform, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, The Classic-Gaming Bookcast, Thinking, Fast and Slow, The Housekeeper and the Professor, SMB3: Brick by Brick, The Science of Discworld, The Globe: The Science of Discworld II, It's Not All About "Me", Bible Adventures, Becoming Steve Jobs, A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Nonfiction, How to Stubbornly Refuse to Make Yourself Miserable about Anything: Yes Anything!, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, After the Fall, Girl with Curious Hair, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, The Three-Body Problem, Blue Truth, 30-Second Religion, Koji Kondo's Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking, Maestro Mario, The Festival of Insignificance, Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls, Baldur's Gate II (Boss Fight Books), The Not Terribly Good Book of Heroic Failures, Afternoon Men, Metal Gear Solid 2, A Blink of the Screen, Mindstorms, H is for Hawk, Reinventing the Sacred, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories, Invasion of the Space Invaders, Everything That Remains, The Thinkertoy Computer and other machinations, The Once and Future King, How I Lost 50 Pounds in 6 Months: The Story of My May-November Diet, How to Talk about Videogames, House of Wigs, The Book of Merlyn, Shadow of the Colussus
"How to Stubbornly Refuse to Make Yourself Miserable about Anything: Yes Anything!" is some great self help. "Girl with Curious Hair" made me really miss David Foster Wallace. "Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls" was an astonishing fantasy about Multiple Personality Disorder. "The Antidote" wasn't brilliant per se but it was one book that covered so many introspective topics I had just found out about the past 5 years so that it got my highest rating.

Comics (9 (+3))
Shrek, Run, Robot, Run, Amazingly Stupid MAD, Beaucoup Arlo + Janis, The Complete Everything Dies, That Was Awkard, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol 1, Up and Out, Darth Vader and Friends
"Arlo + Janis" is totally underrated. "The Complete Everything Dies" did a great retelling of so many actually believed creation and apocalypse myths...

Video Games (7 (-7))
Desert Golfing, Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell, To Be or Not To be, GTA V, Mario Kart Wii, Just Cause 3, Small Worlds
So few games this year it kind of makes me sad. Still, my heart is with the wide open sandbox franchises... Saints Row, GTA, Just Cause... heh, looking back I guess Far Cry missed being on this list by like a day.

Oh dear. Something called the "Scoop and Scootery" with a sign on the door saying "we deliver sundaes til 2am... yup" is moving in about half a block from me.

January 7, 2016

"I confess I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing."
--H. L. Mencken
My Dad Worked at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and He Knows What Happens When Ranchers Get Their Way Interesting. With all the talk about Vanilla ISIS, there's been relatively talk about what they're actually looking for - I thought it was much a protest about the arson arrests than pressure to let them that cows runst wild n free...
This is by my online buddy Scott Morrison (who also did the art for the classic arcade game "Tapper")

It's an "El Hombre Cato" for mythicalbeastwars.com
Astoundingly religious ad by Marco Rubio. Holy crap. We are not a theocracy, jerk-o.

January 8, 2016

Human/Mattress Dominoes:

http://dogscantlookup.com/post/136891203643/only1600kids-what-do-you-want-to-be-when

January 9, 2016

"[On San Francisco's Filing-for-Bankruptcy "Yellow Cab"] Denial still at work in the taxi business, even as its wheels are starting to come off. The 'best color scheme there is in the world' is only of value in a world where the best way to catch a ride is to stand on the curb with your eyes peeled until an empty one happens by."
--Will Oremus in Slate. The Uber/Lyft model of cars just being around, driving aimlessly 'til needed, always seemed weird to me, but that quote reminds me of the precedent with regular taxis - the difference being I didn't expect to be able to hail a cab outside of select cities, and I haven't got a feel for typical wait times outside the next tier down of urban space.
on "How Apple is Giving Design a Bad Name" A collaborator posted an article that was making the rounds a month or two ago, and I over did my UX/UI response...
Just listened to a few moments of his song "sad" - saving the rest for later, I was laughing...

Oh man- why don't we have rhubarb and custard candies in this country? seriously I would have our nation apply for re-colonization if we could get rhubarb and custard candies here... this Mark and Spencer's batch brought to me by my friends Sam and Jamie...

January 10, 2016

"Aging well is largely a process of recognizing what you don't need to worry about, one thing at a time, until, presumably, you winnow it down to life itself and find you can easily let that go too."
--Laura Miller in Slate

loveblender digest

January 11, 2016

New diet plan: NB3.
No Breakfast, No Booze => No Bang-Bang.
Meaning if I violate either of the first two before dropping ten pounds (the same pounds I had lost in September, heh) I send $100 to the NRA, which I really don't want to do.

(Black iced coffee doesn't count as breakfast.)
Feeling weird that I like David Bowie as a concept more than I like most of the music, but it's probably just my idiosyncratic preferences about drums.

January 12, 2016

"Yes, the government will be somewhat inept, but the private sector is in general inept. How many companies do venture capitalists invest in that go poorly? By far most of them."
--Bill Gates in the Atlantic. I read a letter to the editor that countered, in effect, that capitalism is a much better corrective mechanism than what the government has, but I do think it's a good point in general.

January 13, 2016

January 14, 2016

"The post-apocalypse, in popular culture, often represents a macho libertarian fantasy. There's no government! Finally, we can break out the family guns. What's the appeal of the now-prolific 'zombie apocalypse' genre other than that it provides a backdrop against which Ordinary Americans can justify shooting tons and tons of people?"
--anna anthropy, "Love, Twine, and the End of the World", in the excellent collection The State of Play. I remember Ksenia had more sympathy for the zombies in those movies than I was ready to think about at that time...
"Every year, white people add a hundred years to how long ago slavery was. I've heard educated white people say that slavery was 400 years ago. No, it very much wasn't. It was a 140 years ago. That's two seventy-year-old ladies living and dying back to back. That's how recently you could buy a guy."
--Louis CK
Why So Few Violent Games - I've liked this little turnabout essay for a long time

January 15, 2016

I finally realized who Trump's cadence reminds me of: Joan Rivers. And Cruz screams "Nathan Lane" to me. It's a weird combination.
Slate on serious problems with student evaluations of teachers. Yeah, besides the gender bias pointed out here (which is a little weirder than the lede suggests) student evaluations of teachers were like Yelp before Yelp was Yelp; you praise teachers you like (or worry about), you rip into teachers especially when your grade wasn't what you hoped for/expected.

January 16, 2016

"Don't you love the Oxford Dictionary? When I first read it, I thought it was a really really long poem about everything."
--David Bowie. Oh man, at first I thought this quote was "a love poem about everything", which is a concept I like even more.
Looking to make up some band music (but not looking to spend hundreds of dollars) I've been wrestling with the interface of both "MuseScore 2" and "NoteFlight", both very similar programs with startlingly frustrating UI. Why do they make it so hard to enter new notes and/or select existing notes to edit? Didn't Music Construction Set have this figured out in like 1984? For reals.


--My Super-Niece at the New England Aquarium (still from footage for my 'One Second Everyday'

January 17, 2016

Ah, NFL refs. "Coin flips are hard".

January 18, 2016

Still a work in progress, but I'm optimistic about this arrangement of "Peter Gunn" I made for JP Honk...



Yesterday I noticed I can play tuba almost as well with my left as my right - an old observation for me, actually, but I realized there might be a tie-in with another bit of physical modeling i do: I tend to remember which key on my keyring is which via it's physical placement, and more specifically, I subconsciously expect them to be in left-to-right order corresponding to the outermost/innermost arrangement of the doors. Take my car and house keys (one for the front, one for the back)... holding them all "teeth up", my hand expects the car key on the left (corresponding to how I first arrive), and then the front door key to the right of that (since it's the key I need next) and ending with the key to the back (either since I don't need that then, or because the back of the house is "more inner" than the door facing outward to the street. It takes much more mental effort to remember which key is which when they don't align to a inner/outer concept.

So: tuba valves, three in a row. I would have assumed I associate them with either specific 1,2,3 placement. And maybe it's just that I use the same finger for each valve, just on the other hand, when I play leftie. But it seemed like a "deep" revelation that maybe I think of them more in terms of which valve is closest to me - and that maybe years of playing brass as a youngster imprinted that way of thinking on me. But maybe that's mixing up cause and effect, or so there's another, simpler explanation.

In general, I'd say I have a hard time than average remembering left from right.

Hmm. This could explain piano being challenging for me as well? Like it's just harder to integrate things when on my left hand, the thumb plays a higher note, but on my right hand the thumb is the lowest note. Yeah; when I try to play basslines with my left, everything feels wackily backwards.

January 19, 2016

"The realization came over me with full force that a good part of the remainder of my life was going to be spent in finding errors in my own programs."
--Maurice Wilkes, in 1949, at the dawn of the age of debugging computer programs.

January 20, 2016

The Weird Way That Standing (Not Walking) on Escalators Helps Move People More Quickly Been arguing with a friend about politics and stuff. I think he tends to oversimplify, he thinks I am too dodgy and hide behind "well it's complicated". I think this news story is a fascinating study on how even a simple system like people walking on an escalator quickly devolves into a counter-intuitive result and reality defies oversimplified "common sense" reasoning to it.

January 21, 2016


--Various Easings as posted in my devblog

January 22, 2016

Ah the low-40-something bachelor boy. #iknowthatfeel

January 23, 2016

Portraits by EBB2 (Age 6 1/2)




January 24, 2016

Also by EBB2 (age 6 1/2):

I appreciated her selection of complementary colors...

January 25, 2016

Big season of "if only"s for the Patriots: if only there hadn't been such an endless series of injuries, if only the refs hadn't been so biased in the Broncos regular season game, if only they hadn't rolled over for Miami, if only Gostkowski hadn't flubbed a PAT.

Ah well. The faint sliver lining for any loss of a team I dig is I can stop paying attention and move on to more interesting things.
@georgeb3dr points out this applies to indie games as well

"If a man has no doubts, it's because his hypothesis is unfalsifiable."
--Mark Rosenfelder, What's wrong with libertarianism

January 26, 2016

January 27, 2016

"when i was around 5 i asked my mom why 'some people were different colors' and she said 'because god wanted lots of flavors' and let me tell you that was the wrong thing to say because for the next 3 years i thought god ate people when they died"
--callieohpeee
Life is Tetris not Chess. Cute little essay.

quotes from "Dreaming in Code"

January 28, 2016
"The realization came over me with full force that a good part of the remainder of my life was going to be spent in finding errors in my own programs."
--Maurice Wilkes, in 1949, at the dawn of the age of debugging computer programs.

"The hard thing about building software is deciding what to say, not saying it."
--Frederick Brooks

"Is it possible to do great work without great pressure, or is pressure an indispensable part of genius?"
--Michael Toy

"Joy is an asset. It may well turn out that one of the most important effects of open source’s success will be to teach us that play is the most economically efficient mode of creative work."
--Eric Raymond

"All programmers are optimists. Perhaps the hundreds of nitty frustrations drive away all but those who habitually focus on the end goal. Perhaps it is merely that computers are young, programmers are younger, and the young are always optimists."
--Frederick Brooks

"Front ends are supposed to be elegant, intuitive, versatile; back ends are supposed to be invisible, efficient, rock-solid. The front end talks to people; the back end talks to bits. In Star Wars terms, the front end is the butlerish C3PO; the back end is the unintelligible R2D2."
--Scott Rosenberg

We are still building our software cottage-industry-style today.
--Brad Cox

"There's a difference between transparency aimed at giving visibility and transparency that is aimed at producing collaboration.”

--Ted Leung

"If it takes the typical programmer more than two minutes and twenty-seven seconds to find something, they will conclude it does not exist and therefore will reinvent it."
--Larry Constantine.

Yes, but: The price of learning and configuring and tweaking a large system that almost does the required job - and could be similarly battered into shape of handling lots of other tasks- is often larger than the cost of making an original, smaller bit of code that just handles the matter at hand. and, that is also more fun. Or as Rosenberg puts it later in the book: "There is almost always something you can pull off the shelf that will satisfy many of your needs. But usually the parts of what you need done that your off-the-shelf code won’t handle are the very parts that make your new project different, unique, innovative--and they’re why you’re building it in the first place."

Or as he even later refines it:

"Rosenberg’s Law: Software is easy to make, except when you want it to do something new. And then, of course, there is a corollary: The only software that’s worth making is software that does something new."
--Scott Rosenberg, "Dreaming in Code"


Wanna be less of a lollygagger starting with getting back to my iPhone as an alarm clock. I kind of hate though that its wake up alarm STARTS with a (loudish) vibration and THEN adds the more pleasant sound I picked out.

I have mixed feelings about Jerry Seinfeld but I liked these lines:

"Why did I get married? A lot of people ask me that. For one thing, I'm 47 years old. Jesus Christ! But also, that was 26 or so years of dating. That's a lot of acting fascinated. I was tired!"

"But let us make no mistake. The only reason these babies are here is to replace . . . us. You just have to look in any baby's eyes, and you see it: `It's only a matter of time, my friend.' Am I drooling? Yeah, I'm drooling. I'm drooling looking at all your stuff."

(I heard the "That's a lot acting fascinated" line and hunted for context...)
"Why do we like sports or movies? It's just incredible that a trillion-synapse computer could actually spend Saturday afternoon watching a football game. It's a colossal phenomenon that needs to be explained, and I'm not joking."
--Marvin Minsky

"Birds can fly, unless they are penguins and ostriches, or if they happen to be dead, or have broken wings, or are confined to cages, or have their feet stick in cement, or have undergone experiences so dreadful as to render them psychologically incapable of flight."
--Marvin Minsky (dealing with the problems that knowledge systems face.)

I just found out he died this week. RIP! I liked the fisherman's vest he wore- our tools make us smarter, so being able to carry around a lot of digital helpers was putting him ahead of the evolutionary curve.

Hunger is Psychological, and Dieting Makes It Worse Like Yogi Berra on baseball: "[it's] 90 percent mental and the other half is physical."
I measure out my days in DD iced coffee cups, my weeks in HONK band rehearsals, and my years in Apple product launches.

January 29, 2016

I have a hard time not reposting this when I see it:

Let Me Get That Banana - Kind of rough in language and content, but I admit it got me laughing.
Binder Clip "Life" Hacks - a few too many iPhone stands, but I'm really enamored of the second one, using one of the giant clips to hold laptop wires. (You have to use the big ones for average thickness desktops) I've been looking for a solution for that for my desk at home - adhesive backed holders weren't lasting, and I hadn't gotten around to looking for maybe a drilled in eye-bolt.

Also, I liked that it did it using funky music instead of spoken words or even screen captions.

January 30, 2016

English is Surprisingly Devoid of Emotionally Positive Words. Bummer!
I am literally laboriously setting a virtual table via CSS. #ggj2016 @MITGameLab

January 31, 2016

Dinner Party Faux Pas-- the fruit of my weekend's gamejame labor, along with that of my team. ( GGJ site for a bit more info)
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