| < retrospect: 28 apr >

April 28, 2016

Here is a post generator and here are some interesting posts from it

"the difference between crows and ravens is that crows romanticize sin"
Skepticism on the Rise Worldwide. I have no intention of becoming a strident atheist, or even a militant agnostic ("we don't know the answer to these things... AND NEITHER DO YOU") but still, I would think that the sheer number of faiths and beliefs would give fundamentalist "we have an exclusive line to The Truth" thinking pause. But the whole disastrous mess of fundamentalism isn't prone to that kind of thoughtful reflection or self-doubt.

(And people dig-in, and can become more and more entrenched in an individual as the years go by. I mean, who'd want to accept that they'd invested so much of their life in something that wasn't true? So let's double down on faith -- sunk cost fallacy meets pascal's wager.)

April 28, 2015

Boston Globe: Few favor death for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, poll finds I'm never a big fan of killing on my behalf.

April 28, 2014

I always dig minor key renditions of songs...

April 28, 2013

I like Wikiepdia's British Words Not Widely Used in the USA. The difference in vocabulary has always intrigued me (and that list seems so much cooler than the Reverse
"It is strange how the romances of the teenage years retain a poignancy all through life - how a girl who turns you down when you're 16 retains an aura in your memory even long after you, and she, have ceased to be who you were then."
--Roger Ebert

oh leia

April 28, 2012

--from A few rare photos on the set of the only Star Wars movies that matter. Love random Princess Leia photos.


(1 comment)
April 28, 2011

--At the risk of helping to make "Idiocracy's" Ow My Balls a reality, some of these made me giggle.
Man, last night before sunset, the crazy humid pre-rain warmth-- totally trips my nostalgia switch. Want it to be the evening of my life.
Democrats: the political grownups. Neocons, Birthers, Teapartiers, Trump, get outta here with that stuff.
There's some right resentment how we still have wars but no war protests; but 1/2 the protest was against getting us *into* these messes.
Whoa, I'm gonna be in Germany for this whole May 21 Apocalypse thing. Sweet.
On the other hand a May 21 Apocalypse makes for a great Klik of the Month Klub theme, AMIRITE?
"Oh, it's on. It Is On. It is ON LIKE FROGGER. err, donkey kong."
Trump gloats about the certificate. You know, beyond the hairpiece, beyond how he somehow takes credit for the certificate while still blaming the press for it, I can't get over how his jowls flow over his too-tight shirt collar.
Sometimes I wish the northeast had a more hug-ish cultural. Little awkward waves and smiles and nods just aren't as humane.

under the river is another river

April 28, 2010

--Eerie (not Erie, dang it- the lake is much better these days) Underwater River in Mexico - that's Hydrogen Sulfide. (via archmage) - folks at Constantin are pretty much idiotic for taking down the Hitler clips, than running ads-"Mein Gott in Himmel!"
"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera."
--Dorothea Lange
"To describe existing federal policies and regulatory approaches on obesity as a patchwork is an insult to quilts everywhere."
--Marc Ambinder, "Beating Obesity" in the latest Atlantic - it is pretty amazing that our concept of heaven is so new and so widely held by Americans.
I find it tough not to get paranoid at work whenever someone shuts their office door, even if it's clearly a noise thing.

thinking is not a crime

April 28, 2009
--My buddy Leonard and his wife Sumana have finished editing their sci-fi slushpile rescue compilation Thoughtcrime Experiments -- I love their collaborative investment of time, money, and energy to make that happen. (This here is Patrick Farley's "Gaia's Strange Seedlike Brood", one of the pieces they commissioned for it.) - rules of English grammar you didn't know you knew, fascinating - fun trying to think about the metapattern. - Teller and the neuroscience of Magic, great stuff. - GeoCities is going away? Boo. It was terrible but egalitarianly terrible, the first real implementation of the web's anyone-can-publish model. - this recent softer world cartoon has been rattling in my brain ever since I first saw it.
Bad News: seemingly likely job offer fell through (changing of the guard at the company, perhaps...) Great News: starting May 1 I am fulltime at Lincoln Peak!

c'est moi, le mario!

April 28, 2008
I've decided I'm back to digging large laptops.

For a while my attitude was that I use a desktop all the time, so a laptop's job was to be as portable as possible. (And I've started toting that one tiny fujitsu tablet in my courier bag.) But now that I bought a cheap big laptop, I'm digging the fullsize keyboard with room on the sides, generous screen, general lack of intense heat, etc.

Maybe I'll switch to laptops once my current desktop gives out...

(Random followup, with Retrospect I noticed four years ago today I was bemoaning the lack of a good small laptop...)

Video Games of an Imaginary Moment's fun from yesterday reinvented some Atari 2600 games based on the cover art. Funny stuff, the font really makes it.

Quote of the Moment
"Children are very smart, in their own stupid way. A child's brain is like a sponge, you know, and you know how smart sponges are."
--Steve Carell in the latest Wired. They also had this chart on cognition-enhancing drugs that gives me that feeling of missing out, as well as this piece on the wonder of SuperMemo, a time-based system to help memorization by precisely timed prompts.


April 28, 2007
My car alarm wasn't engaging for a long while. But I didn't get it fixed, because I could still unlock the car with the remote.

The keyless entry is why I got the remote actually... to, as I explained to my friend Jim, "avoid accidentally 'keying' my own car. Again." What amused Jim was the "again".

So last weekend I was helping EB on the house overhaul project and we made a run to Home Depot. I get in the car, feel a jolt of static electricity, and lo and behold, the car alarm is returned to life! Loud life. Loud, squalling, probably not the best way to be a good neighbor at 8 in the morning life. And nothing on the remote will make it shut up.

After several harrowing minutes, we finally disarm the alarm by a combination of pressing this little interior reset switch I found, jamming on the remote button, and the ancient technique of "sitting there and hoping the problem fixes itself" which, surprisingly, it kind of does. And now it's working fine, giving me those reassuring little electronic chirps. (In my head, 1 chirp = "locked!", 2 chirps = "Okay (I'll let you in)".)

Cartoon of the Moment

--Scott Meyer, from Basic Instructions, "your all-inclusive guide to a life well-lived."


April 28, 2006
Worked on decluttering last night. What a slog!

Random Kirk Anecdote: when I was in first or second grade or so my elementary school (St. Pats, in Salamanca, NY) decided to have a fundraiser by getting us kids to sell plastic tumblers. They gathered us all in the gym for some salesguy's demonstration. Part of the act was hurling a tumbler fullforce against a wall. Now I'm willing to give the guy the benefit of the doubt and believe his story that that particular tumbler had been his demo model for a bit too long, and believe that those tumblers were indeed reasonably durable, but the end of that sucker sheared right off.

For some reason I had some fool idea in my head about constructing steam-engine-y machines (I don't remember the details, I was pretty young) and though that the tumbler would make a good chimney. Or something. Anyway, I asked the guy for it, and he of course refused, looking kind of angry. And I can't blame the guy, he probably assumed I wanted to show off how durable the tumbler wasn't, and was probably a annoyed that his demonstration hadn't gone off as planned anyway.

Anyway, the moral I'm currently trying to take from that story is this: I need to tell myself to stop saving crap just because I have some fool idea in my head about making it useful at some uncertain point in the future. If the stuff needs to be unearthed, if it's been that far from the frontburner for so long, it's extremely unlikely to have a big utility in my life at any point. In fact, if the only reason I'm aware of it is the current decluttering effort, then its pretty easy to posit that in effect, the thing hasn't even really been existing for me, except in some ability to add to the clutter in my life.

The other lesson, without an anecdote at the moment, is I really don't need to be nostalgic about so much of the detritus of my life. Over the past few years I've gotten pretty good at recording life as it and I groove along. I have an electronic datebook with entries back to Spring of 1997, a "mundane journal" going back to June of 2000, a list of all the media I've worked through since 2000, and a website that I've updated daily since 2001. It's a well-documented life, I'm going to have plenty to look back on.

My guiding hope and principle is, the more inconsequential stuff I can ditch, the more mental and physical and emotional space there will be for the stuff I really find worthy.

It's sometimes tough to explain my burning desire to declutter to Ksenia, whose old life in Russia wasn't so immersed in goods of various types. (Though I remember her expressing mild amazement that all the stuff in my apartment was for one person.) Ditto for me not wanting to keep a full fridge... for me a full fridge is just a lot of temptation to distract myself with food, for her an empty fridge is a source of concern.

Link of the Moment
I was having a hard time conceptualizing inductive vs deductive reasoning, the diagrams and explanation on this page on Deduction & Induction came in handy.


April 28, 2005
So lately I've been thinking about how everyone has to select (or they find have selected for them) the values that are "axiomatically good", things that are just spending our finite lifespans pursuing, and resist further justification, or make it irrelevant. I don't think most people will have just one.

For a lot of people, that's "kindness"--you can only push the "golden rule" so far, at some point you think you should do nice things even when you're not expecting to get similar treatment back. For other people it's "beauty", or "sports", or "God"--following religion even beyond the threat of hell or the hope of Paradise.

As I've mentioned before, one of my personal axiomatic goods is "interesting". It's more nebulous than some of these concepts, but its pretty definite for me, and a driving force. When I see art, it doesn't matter if it's beautiful and inspiring, more if it's clever or thought-provoking.

That's why I love the web so much, it's a great big cornucopia of stuff that meets my criteria of interesting. And this site is an attempt to capture that, and to post the stuff I find interesting, and sometimes make some of my own.

And things that I don't find interesting...sometimes I have trouble getting behind it. For instance, home ownership wasn't "interesting" to me, and so while I tried to live up to my responsibilities to Mo, and also show appreciation for the things I liked about having a nice comfortable house, some of my efforts were half-hearted, because the whole affair wasn't that "interesting". (And nowadays, I'm realizing that sometimes I resent things that siphon time during the week away from my pursuit of the "interesting".

So I've been mulling this idea for a while, and last night I had an epiphany of sorts...I think this concept of "interesting" is so ingrained in me, it might just explain why I'm so bad at remembering names but so good at remembering aspects of people's lives that they share with me, like jobs or anecdotes. Names usually aren't that "interesting", unless they're distinctive or have a cool backstory they're just tags applied to people, but a career or anecdote usually has details my brain will latch onto. So this whole "interesting" thing seems to be deeply mapped into the day to day functioning of my brain.

Anyway, that was the new thought. I don't think I've rambled about this before, but I'm not sure, it sounds familiar...anyway, what do you readers find to be the "axiomatically goods" of your life?

UKism of the Moment
Iraq War Legality Row 'A Damp Squib', Says Blair. Never heard the phrase "damp squib" before...turns out a squib is firecracker, and/or "A broken firecracker that burns but does not explode". So I guess it's something that seemed to have potential to be metaphorically explosive but will fizzle out instead. Now you know.

in toon

April 28, 2004
Cartoons of the Moment
Howtoons are nifty "how to make cool stuff" comics. I used to love these kind of things when I was a kid but I can't remember actually building that much. (Though even then I did a lot of semi-nifty things on computers...I guess that's one of the things I've always liked about computers, it's so easy to build something, and you don't have to worry about the glue being all messy, the pieces not quite fitting together, or even a place to store it...)

Rant of the Moment
No one makes a good small PC laptop these days. The dominant paradigm seems to be "no compromise desktop replacements", with as big a screen as possible...or, for the few companies who make a petite laptop, they're priced at a really high level, usually above $2000. (And the only one in stores is a VAIO, and I avoid those like the plague...and they have this super ugly font for the keys that their website seems to try avoid showing you....) They probably have the power to match the pricepoint, but I don't want a powerhouse, I want a petite (12" or so...) livingroom laptop I can put on a wireless network for surfing and light word processing...ideally one that doesn't run at a bajillion degrees and costs under $800.

Any suggestions? Apple's pretty close to it with their 12" iBook, but the current release seems to be edging up in size, plus I'm not sure if I'm ready to deal with the world of Mac right now, no matter how cool the idea of a Unix based system is. Actually, I wish I knew a place around Boston that had a good selection of new and used laptops...there was a computer show running next to PhillyClassic that had some good canidates, but I wasn't jonesing quite as much as I am now. (I wanted to see if Mo's old laptop could be fixed for a reasonable price...of course not, it's a VAIO.)

Sociology of the Moment
An in-depth piece Passport to the Pub: The Tourist's Guide to Pub Etiquette. Contains both practical advice and sociological description. (The link is a PDF, Google provides an HTML version.) Terrific reading! I love analysis like this, because it's so hard to get right, but cool when you can see how it fits.

electricity, e-lec-tricity

April 28, 2003
So yesterday I went to a workshop run by the Jackal art group. They're into scavanging technology and subverting and repurposing it. The workshop took a while to hit its stride but was good once more participants showed up. I helped make some "stomp pads", electric switches made of cadboard, foil, tape, and foam, that they were wiring up to a PC to do sound effects. (They also had a kids toy electronic guitar wired to video clips of Guitar Gods, so you could play random clips as well as speed the clips up or down.) I also made an LED "light sculpture" for Mo that you see here; 9V battery, battery socket, wire, LEDs. Supposedly if it was just one LED it would be at risk of the LED blowing up, hopefully five should be ok. Man, I hadn't soldered since the gifted and talented special class in fourth grade! (Thanks Ranjit, who passed me word of their Boston Cyberarts workshop; he was thinking about going but decided not to, but dropping his name worked pretty well too.)

Quote of the Moment
"I'm Jewish and I was watching (Tomb Raider) and thinking there are no Jewish video games. Well there's one, Quicken, but that's it."
--Kevin Pollack, Late Night with Conan O'Brien

Articles of the Moment
We're at the 25th anniversary of the first e-mail spam, and Brand Templeton has a lot to say on the stuff, including a good quick history of the use of the term. I'm glad I finally got my "whitelist" system working.

phillyclassic philler day 2

April 28, 2002
Pulp Philosophy (PG13)
        Just a little story about what happens to Socrates after he speaks to Thrasymachus in Plato's Republic...
        Thrasymachus had Socrates' arm pressed up against his back, and forced him into the center of the Agora. Thrasymachus threw him down, and tied him to the chair, which, oddly enough, had been waiting for them. From his toga, Thrasymachus withdrew his 9mm.
        Socrates' eyes widened. "Fuck! Don't do it, man!"
        Thrasymachus remained unaffected by the plea for mercy. "Are you finished, fucker?" Placing the gun an inch from Socrates' forehead, he knelt down beside him.
        "Look, man, you can have my ten yoke of oxen. You can have my virgin daughters. My pomegranate orchard. Anything. Just let me go, and I won't tell a fuckin' soul about this."
        Thrasymachus looked at him awkwardly. "You like pomegranates? Shit, motherfucker, I hear they got a fuckin' all you can eat special going on pomegranates where you're headed." He smiled.
        "Don't do it, man. Thrasymachus, be fair."
        This struck a nerve with Thrasymachus. He said, contemplatively, "Fair?"
        "Yeah. Fair. Think about my wife and kids, man."
        He removed the gun from Socrates' face, and sat next to him, frowning. "Would you say that to be fair is the same thing as to be just?"
        "Well, I'm just a dull, wandering street philosopher, so I don't quite understand where you're headed with your line of reasoning. Perhaps," he began, as he motioned with the gun, "you could further elucidate your theory of justice."
        Socrates cocked his head to the side. "My theory? Of justice?"
        "Yes. You do have a theory on it, don't you?"
        "Well..." At the present time, he did not.
        Thrasymachus shrugged his shoulders. "Perhaps, then, you'd like to hear my theory."
        Socrates' eyes brightened. "Oh, yes! Of course. You have a theory?"
        Thrasymachus sighed as he spoke. "Well, yes, I have been thinking a little about justice. Not, of course, so deeply as could a wise sage like yourself," he said. "But I've had a little idea, an insignificant, but troubling, idea. It's been bothering me a bit, and I thought that maybe someone as smart as yourself could help convince me that it is wrong."
        "Of course. Anything I can do to help," replied Socrates, not really picking up on Thrasymachus' sarcasm.
        "So you'd like to hear my theory?"
        "I'd be honored," he said.
        "My humble little idea goes something like this." Thrasymachus roared, "Justice is only the will of the stronger! What do you think about that, you sophist fuck?" Caught in the rage, he punched Socrates in the face, consequently breaking his nose and knocking him out of the chair.
        Socrates replied only with a few burbled sounds, as his face bled profusely, his toga undergoing a crimson transformation.
        "Come on!" he screamed. "Come on, motherfucker, you wanna try to disprove my theory, you weak little fuck? Yeah? Yeah?" Thrasymachus shook violently. "Shit, I think I feel a proof coming on!" He raised the pistol to meet the cowering Socrates, and emptied the clip into his body. "Why, thank you, Socrates. You've certainly opened my eyes!"
--SHADESHIFTER, Cult of the Dead Cow. I once embarassed myself rather severly giving a dramatic reading of this at one of Brooke's parties, I think because someone mentioned they were a philosophy major.


April 28, 2001
Finally making some progress on loveblender ii-- yesterday I opened up account creation and account-based-comment-boarding to the masses.

Quote of the Moment
Albert Camus is known to most as an existential writer and philosopher. But to me, he was much more. To me, Camus was the best damn table magician that ever lived. When I watched Albert handle a deck of cards, roll a franc across his fingers, or vanish a Gauloise, it didn't bother me that we were living in a random, godless universe. As a matter of fact, I liked it.
--Penn Jillette, "Kamus, King of Cards"

Link of the Moment
NASA's Great Zooms from Space is really cool (it's been kicking around slashdot and camworld.) Movies that start from space and end up zoomed in on an American city. San Francisco is especially good, because of the way it involves the coast. Orlando's pretty good too-- I'm trying to figure out if it's the Epcot ball or what there at maximum zoom.
KHftCEA 2000-04.2 April KHftCEA 2000-04.3 April

KHftCEA 2000-04.3 April

"Death is the lot of us all, and the only way that the human race has ever conquered death is by treatingit with contempt. By living every golden minute as if one had all Eternity..."
--Robert A. Heinlein
"Justify your existance. And the judge shall be.. Yourself."
    "Oh, smeg."
--Red Dwarf
Agnostic: I don't know whether there is a God.
Militant Agnostic: AND NEITHER DO YOU!
--Phil Foglio
"As an adolescent I aspired to lasting fame, I craved factual certainty, and I thirsted for a meaningful vision of human life -- so I became a scientist.  This is like becoming an archbishop so you can meet girls."
--M. Cartmill
"My stomach says no but my sick carny sense of humor says yes..."
--Mr. Wick (The Drew Carey Show)
What is it that makes a complete stranger dive into an icy river to try to save a solid-gold baby? Maybe we'll never know.
--Jack Handey, "Deep Thoughts"
That "solid-gold baby" quote comes to mind frequently these days (even though I've never liked it all that much)- too often I'll see a commercial that will seem "mysteriously sexy" and I'll wonder what that sensual appeal could be... more often than not it has to do with nubile young things gyrating in dance or just being their shapely selves-- 'gee I wonder what it could be.' (In my defense, I do find casual, 'real-life-like' sexuality to be much more appealing than sex in a lingerie and leather 'frame'.) There's also that 'Just What Is It That Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing?' piece of modern art...
So I've been fretting much about mortality and lifemeaning. Dylan sees it as a form of "rich man's disease', worry what comes from a life of not having day to day errata to worry about. Still, I thinking that thinking about my limits in lifetime- as scary and sad as it can be- is ultimately a rewarding activity. Better to have a count of days and weeks now, as a young adult, than be surprised by the twilight. Also, I have a hope that I can start treating the days that have passed as things of current value, not things merely lost. The Palm helps with that as well.
Memes from Dennet's "Conciousness Explained" are in my head-  this model of conciousness as a turmoil of impressions and subprocesses is evocative. How I can listen to Dan's Bach and both hear and not hear it... I was reluctant to give up the idea of my internal monologue as my 'self', but the idea of that inner voice evolving as a way to take advantage of the mental tools for primitive communication we developed makes sense- language as a (mere?) powerful thought framework...
KHftCEA 2000-04.2 April

"Life has got to be lived - That's all there is to it.  At 70, I would say the advantage is that you take life more calmly.  You know that 'this, too, shall pass!'"
--Eleanor Roosevelt, The New York Times, 8 Oct. 1954.
"It's not only the criminals and people outside with guns. Now it's the government, too."
--Marisleysis Gonzalez (Elian Relative)

Well, Duh.

< retrospect: 28 apr >