| < retrospect: 30 jan >


  ...of the moment  
Reasons I love Boston #712: Morning Edition just mentioned that polling suggest 1/3 of Bostoner residents would want the death penalty for the Boston Marathon bomber. Nationwide, the # is like twice that. Both numbers are too high, but the nationwide number is disgusting.

We shouldn't be barbarians. Putting him away in obscurity--and making guesses about the now removed influence of his brother--to ponder what he did is probably a more appropriate punishment than "martyrdom", and the inevitable "SAVE DZOKHAR" campaigns that would result.


  ...of the moment  

better than average bench graffiti at park street

Draw a Dinosaur Day! --

(2) velocipediraptor!
It's Draw A Dinosaur Day!
This is my velocipediraptor.
Now go draw a dinosaur and post it on the site!

  ...of the moment - Amber's always observant of developers being off by a factor of 2 or 3 in their time estimates, this detailed "software as a long hike" metaphor nails some of why that is.
"sir, i believe we built this city on rock and roll- what do you mean it has basically no infrastructure?! what happened to the crazy train?!"
Ever since I saw a photo w/ a student wiring up "a cube of 4,096 individual LEDs" in The Tech I wanna know more about MIT's Bad Idea Weekend -- is still too lite in information.
BTW where did Google Calendar settings go? Now when I click on the gear all I see is changing the damn look and feel. #googlefail
That the Lumières Brothers had that name and went on to be major pioneers in inventing the moving picture camera is beautiful.

(8) sredanvi - reverse space invaders
To view this content, you need to install Java from
sredavni - source - built with processing
My 2011 Global Game Jam game. I had a great team.
Thanks MIT/Gambit labs!

(1) draw a dinosaur day!

Miller points out that it's Draw A Dinosaur Day!
This was mine, you should browse the gallery and send one in!

  ...of the moment  
Doing Global Game Jam @ Northeastern University. It's... going ok. Worried our game is a little humdrum but PPhys2D great for future 'wrecks

(10) 25 random things
So something making the rounds at Facebook is the "25 Random Things" meme:

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

So I decided to spend the first minutes of my first day of not-quite-employment doing the following naval gazing:
  1. I'm a bit flummoxed by facebook's interface.... aspects of Wall-to-Wall, where to pick who's stuff is more likely to show up on my page, are always kind of hit or miss
  2. Actually, especially for being a techie, I tend to be a bit interface-blind. I too-quickly form an idea of how something "should" work, based on stuff I've seen before, and if it has a different workflow or even button layout, I'm often stuck for way too long.
  3. By the age of 8 I'd lived in Philadelphia, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Island of St. Thomas, Salamanca NY, and Glens Falls NY. A few years later it was back to Cleveland, then Boston for college, where I've been kicking around ever since.
  4. I love that weird, ozone-y smell you can get by sticking your nose into freezers at the supermarket.
  5. A theme of my life seems to be not wanting to be responsible for something going wrong. So I'm very slow to pick up new commitments, but once I have them, I'm very committed
  6. Another theme of my life has been avoiding things that puncture my fragile ego about how smart I am. Better to not try that hard and leave uncertainty there, then put in a concerted effort and come up short.
  7. My iPhone does many things but probably the single most *important* is the To Do application. Followed by phone, semi-ubiquitous web, datebook, music, random memos, timer, calculator.
  8. Re: not bearing to be "wrong" - I'm very careful in my language. See how I said "probably" in that last note? Plus, I use a lot of "it seems to me" and "looks like" type ducking.
  9. Also, I tend to be non-judgmental. Almost no one is the bad guy of their own story, they might have different goals and starting assumptions, but they're probably doing the best they can.
  10. Jane recently paraphrased her parents as saying about me: "we're just old people, but he listens to what we say and reacts". I'm that way with most everyone.
  11. I seem to have a touch of something like dyslexia, or maybe just synesthesia. Typing (or handwriting!) I'll swap "m"s and "b"s. And certain numbers evoke certain letters... I have the paper from when I was very young, writing my name "KI4K". See, "four" -> R. ("Five" -> F).
  12. In the late 90s and beyond, I felt that my independent web projects were a big boon to me as a professional developer. But now I'm worried all that stuff got me stuck in my ways, that I write everything in a mid-90s style.
  13. In fact, in general I seem dismayingly slow to pick up new computer languages and toolkits and such. These things are more powerful than my closer to "handmade" methods, but harder to understand well enough to fix when they don't do what you want.
  14. I wrote an original game, all in assembly language, for the Atari 2600, JoustPong, as a retro project in 2003-4. Sometimes I worry that the focus and work this took cost me my marriage, though that might be mixing cause and effect.
  15. Over the past few years I've gotten into making small games, like at, with its "write a game in 2 hours" events. I find this satisfying but worry that my gamewriting ambitions tend to scale down to this 2 hour box.
  16. I'd rather be famous than rich. I wish I was doing something to make myself famous.
  17. I played tuba in my church band and throughout highschool and college.
  18. The music I miss playing the most is the dumb, fun stuff from marching band.
  19. I've embraced my musical primitivist that's interested in 3 things about music: 1. Funk-ish, high contrast rhythms, 2. Lyrics 3. Catchy musical hooks. This list does not really extend to harmony or melody, except maybe the hook bit.
  20. I do a mean human beatbox. It's pretty good, really. Though the best tricks (mostly, doing lost of fill) I learned from a skinny white kid, Zack, in Cleveland.
  21. I do a bit of online dating but... I dunno. Secretly it's the kid issue that concerns me the most, tying into the responsibility-fearing thing. But also the general issue of find enough of a mutual awesomeness admiration society. And someone who can embrace, or live with, my inner child and has one of her own.
  22. I'm a great "uncle" though. I think it goes back to that "listen and react" thing. I mean you need to understand that kids don't operate just as "small adults" but they seem to appreciate being listened to.
  23. Fundamentally I (and other members of my family) are "attention seeking introverts", very self-aware, and entertaining in social settings, but sometimes a bit worn out with a lot of interactions
  24. Friends of mine sometimes think I come across as only interested in myself. I think that's not quite a fair accusation. But, I do assume quiet people will say as much as they feel comfortable saying! They read my lack of prompting as a lack of interest, so I've been trying to adjust that lack of prompting.
  25. I decided to go through these 25 things rather than fret about my recent (soon-to-be) lack of employment.
I wouldn't mind seeing the 25 for my Mom, Aunt, EB, and LAN3, none of whom I'm connected to on Facebook -- so no pressure, but leave a comment if so inclined. (Come to think of it, pretty much any kisrael reader I'd be interested in...)

I'll follow that up with Things I'd Like To Get Done During This Unemployment:
  1. Declutter, declutter, declutter
  2. Revamp
  3. Get this one independent project done
  4. Keep up with exercise
  5. Get my long term Todo list down to, like, 20 or so items
  6. Get a new, good job to end the unemployment.

  ...of the moment  
My buddy JZ (no not that Jay-Z) is about the only person I know who's really good at recommending songs I'll dig, he's batting about .700
JZ's latest recommendation: King Curtis' Memphis Soul Stew
Two layoff bad omens for me: one is when my company moves to a shiny new office. The other is when my commute seems fantastic. DOOM FOLLOWS
I guess humans are the only species that cook? Is it recent, evolutionarily speaking? Is enjoying cooked foods an evolutionary advantage?
I like the word "dig". It's compact, faintly retro, and suggests a deeper understanding in the way "like" or "enjoyed" doesn't.
I wonder why I get a perfect cell signal downstairs at Park Street station.
Game Jam! At the Signapore/Gambit lab. Actually sponsored by Singapore.
"As long as we have each other, we will never run out of problems" --Timezone Theme for Game Jam

(9) battles on two fronts
Might be beating that cold! Of course the trouble with my shotgun approach (Airborne in a few forms, oranges, OJ, Vitamin C-based drinks, Mac and Cheese with a load of garlic instead of the cheese) means I won't know if some part of that is really the most effective, or if it's got something more to do with this particular virus, etc.

Sorry this has been such a blah week for the site.

Also, I'm a bit under attack by comment spammers. I've made one trivial change, I'm seeing how long it shakes them off, how often they re-analyze the structure of my comments page (which is either a manual process, or a very clever computer) to figure out the inputs. On the one hand, doing everything myself means I don't easily integrate into group efforts to combat these bot-wielding bastards; on the other hand, being idiosyncratic means I'm a low reward/effort ratio if they have to customize a lot of code to continue the abuse of my site.

Funny(ish) of the Moment
Carrollton Elementary School
Report Card for: Vanilla Ice
collaborating and listeningA-
cutting like ninjaB-
slicing like razor bladeB+
--based on a thought of Evil B

Quote of the Moment
"It seems hard to sneak a look at God's cards."
--Albert Einstein. (It's then followed up by "But that He plays dice and uses 'telepathic' methods (as the present quantum theory requires of Him) is a something that I cannot believe for a single moment." which is where the famous "plays dice" quote comes from.

(10) eat food. not too much. mostly plants.
Decluttering stumbles on. Sorry if you all are sick of hearing about it here.

I realize that I've lost some of the sense of "NO MERCY" that I had last week. I stacked up 3 computer keyboards. One is a Microsoft split keyboard that I will likely take into my new job, so it gets a pass. The other two are normal, flat ones; I think they came bundled with PCs but I put them aside in favor of the split ones. NO MERCY! When you A. don't need it and B. could buy a replacement for $4 at Microcenter if you DID need it, there's no way that that item is "paying its rent". (The question then is, do thrifts accept them or not.)

Almost as tough: old broken laptops that would cost more to repair than to replace. Especially that little iBook that was in most respects a better web-browsing "living room" machine than any PC. NO MERCY! Just a question of how to best dispose of it.

My Ever Lovin' Mom wrote "I'm still cheering on your de-cluttering. Your newly organized home should be a nice jumping off point for your new job." That's an encouraging way of thinking about it.

Article of the Moment
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

That's the lead-off summary of Michael Pollan's article Unhappy Meals. (Here's the bugmenot page for NY Times.) I'm glad Nick B LJ'd it, I didn't pay enough attention when it was boingboing'd.

There were a lot of interesting ideas to take away from the article.
  1. As a nation, we've let food become as political as the global warming "debate", with the meat and dairy industries exerting political pressure to shove official committees from their original unbiased conclusions.
  2. The article is fairly damning of reductionist science, at least in fields of nuanced and complex interactions. Or even just how the assumption that everyone's nutritional needs are about the same is flawed. (I have to envy Tim, who claims to have honed the skill of listening to what his body is craving, because his body is clever enough to associate its nutritional needs with the appropriate foods.)
  3. It's amazing how we've learned to dupe our bodies, to create artificial products that have such high concentrations of yumminess but just don't meet our nutritional needs.
  4. He points out that half a century ago, people would spend a quarter of their budget on food, and nowadays it's more like ten percent. And that's parallel to why the food industry is the way it is... in order to feed the population (think back to those predictions of mass famine and starvation from the 1970s) we've been using a lot of nasty chemicals and other tricks.
  5. One way of thinking about the diet change: we eat more seeds, and less leaves than ever before in our evolutionary history.
This ties into a conversation FoSO and I had the other week, where she encouraged me to start trying to get some kind of rudimentary cooking skill going. Of course I have to admit that I don't appreciate food enough; with my "interesting"-based mortality, I need to make a deliberate effort to invest the money and time that eating well would require.

Sometimes I think back to the "caveman diet" my mom was on when they were testing her for allergic reactions. Is that a better way to be? The article talks about how many "traditional cuisines" seem to have the best of both worlds...

Photo of the Moment

--Not a terribly impressive photo, but I enjoyed realizing that every rowhouse on this stretch of my Aunt and Uncle's street is a different color of stone. Across the street, it's all just brick.

(3) you fill up five senses
Quote of the Moment
"Five senses; an incurably abstract intellect; a haphazardly selective memory; a set of preconceptions and assumptions so numerous that I can never examine more than minority of them - never become conscious of them all. How much of total reality can such an apparatus let through?"
--C S Lewis

Geekness of the Moment
--This is a Remote Control Steam-Powered Walking Centipede Engine! Steampunk come to life, nice....

Math Geekness of the Moment
So there's a weird bit of math that BoingBoing covered where "1" shows up as the most significant digit (i.e. the leftmost non-zero digit) much more often than you might expect, at least when you're actually using a process to make numbers rather than just picking digits at random. I love how this idea was discovered by a guy who noticed that a book of logarithms at GE was much more worn for numbers that began with one... (Actually, that "page wear and tear" is an interesting type of metadata that most electronic systems are hard-pressed to replicate, though they're trying. I've heard about that at other places, like the most important pages in a parts book at an autoshop show the most grease and wear, and so stuff gets easier to find as time goes on.) Anyway, today boingboing linked to a cool Flash Toy that shows the principle in action. Take a number, keep multiplying it by another number, and you get 1... something more more often than any other digit.

I think I get the idea behind the math, but I'm not 100% sure. (Look! Another "1"!)

(10) DIY web psychotherapy
The members of my UU Church's Science and Spirituality group were encouraged by its leader to attend this morning's Sunday service, where two members of the IRAS Council were speaking (IRAS is the Instiute on Religion in an Age of Science, and my UU Church's pastor has been a member for a long time.) Both Karl Peters and Ursula Goodenough (what a name!) spoke on losing their mother. Karl Peters mentioned the psychotherapy idea of giving someone who's clearly on the way out "permission to die"...that idea really hit me, how it was probably something I emotionally couldn't have done when I lost my own dad when I was 15 or so.

I think ever since some of the couple's therapy I went through with Mo I've been thinking more about how I might have been molded by father's death. I don't want it to become an excuse for ungood things that I do, or to dwell on too much in a woe is me kind of way. I still think mulling it over might be useful though, to have a better idea of where I'm coming from and where I might be at now.

My dad was debilitated for a year or so before he died and that gave me what for a long time I termed "issues about helplessness". For a long time I assumed it was just a fear of being helpless like he was...fair enough, that was pretty scary. But lately I've been noticing that there's something more insidious. That "something more insidious" likely has its roots in my own inabilty to help my dad...being "helpless to help", so to speak. I must have hated that, even if I didn't put it in those terms at the time. And so even now, I have this strong dislike of dependency, of deeply depending on others, and of others really depending on me. Which, oddly, doesn't mean I'm not dependable; quite the opposite (and like I kisrael'd before, reliability is something I really cherish in my friends.) I guess I become afraid of being on either side of situations where all the other person can do is just frown and be unhappy and sympathetic about what's going on.

So this leads to some tremendous intimacy issues, made worse by a "Men Are From Mars"-esque urge to go to my cave to heal and what not rather than reaching out during times of trouble...a bit of "manly" pride there I think, made worse by that "helpless to help" theme. (I've just started going down this path of thought lately, and just now as I write this, it makes me think about how I became "the hermit" when my dad was sick, almost literally going off to my cave and wanting to be my by own. I always would've assumed it was just not wanting to cope with seeing my dad in that condition, but now it seems likely it was...jeez, maybe even some kind of guilt, or at least frustration, about not being able to do anything.)

News of the Moment
I'm not sure if I quite believe it but according to Ananova, a Man peed way out of avalanche...trapped in his Audi with 60 half-liters of beer, he decided urination was the key to his dilemna.

(8) escape! where you dodge the blue dots with your fantastic flying red square!
Online Game of the Moment
On my Atari 2600 programming mailing list, someone sent out this fiendish little javascript game Escape!... click and drag the red square, not letting it touch the borders or any of the wandering blue squares. My longest run is around 15 seconds. (And it takes you a few tries to learn how to survive the first few seconds...)

I'd love to proper credit for this game, but I couldn't figure out who wrote it originally.

Ramble of the Moment
Odd random thought: in some ways it's easier to be "very neat" rather than just "not messy". Like my desk at both work and home...recently I cleaned both, and am trying to be very diligent about returning them to a completely uncluttered state every day, and at least for now it seemes easier to be very strict or very sloppy than to chart some middle course. It's kind of like Broken windows syndrome where llarger transgressions can sometimes be averted by taking care of the small ones. (Though I admit I am usually distrustful of "slippery slope" arguments in general.)

Quote and Links of the Moment
"And the reason I feel that is that we're not omniscient," he said. "And we've demonstrated that in Iraq, I think." He pointed to Washington's failure to appreciate the complexities of Iraqi culture, and therefore to anticipate the extended guerrilla war it is now engaged in -- a chief mistake of Vietnam. Without the full involvement of other major nations, he said, such mistakes will always be made.

"And if we can't persuade other nations with comparable values and comparable interests of the merit of our course, we should reconsider the course, and very likely change it. And if we'd followed that rule, we wouldn't have been in Vietnam, because there wasn't one single major ally, not France or Britain or Germany or Japan, that agreed with our course or stood beside us there. And we wouldn't be in Iraq."

--Robert McNamara in this Globe and Mail article (via Bill)

On the other hand, LAN3 sent me this interesting counterpoint A Friendly Drink in a Time of War which represents an argument that Iraq is a liberal, anti-fascist war. It makes some points, but what it comes down to for me is: I'm a moderate, and both the right wing reasons (fear of WMD, President Jr's revenge, "that's where the terrorists are coming from") and the left wing reasons (lets make the world better for these fine oppressed folk) are too extreme for me, that this article kind of suffers from the fallacy of the excluded middle. (And the namedropping at the begining was pretty disingenuous.) I guess one thing I don't know enough to argue about is this: how many other "grotesque dictatorships" do we ignore in the name of political expediency, or just because they don't interest us that much? How unique was Saddam? I suspect less unique than this article would imply, and by that arguments, we should "liberally" charge into all corners of the globe.

(2) mouths of mass destruction
Link of the Moment
"Conversational Terrorism" is a bit strong of a name for this page, but it does offer many different techniques (with examples!) for railroading your way to victory or at least stalemate in almost any argument.

Quote of the Moment
"When it became obvious what a dumb and cruel and spiritually and financially and militarily ruinous mistake our war in Vietnam was, every artist worth a damn in this country, every serious writer, painter, stand-up comedian, musician, actor and actress, you name it, came out against the thing. We formed what might be described as a laser beam of protest, with everybody aimed in the same direction, focused and intense. This weapon proved to have the power of a banana-cream pie three feet in diameter when dropped from a stepladder five-feet high."
--Kurt Vonnegut on the power of protest, from this In These Times interview. Also included this exchange: "That said, do you have any ideas for a really scary reality TV show?" "'C students from Yale.' It would stand your hair on end."

Writing of the Moment
Interesting Salon one-pager by a woman who enjoys look at other women. And no, not that way. And not that way either.

(1) when i hold you in (all of) my arms
Image of the Moment

click for fullsize
I don't know why, but I've always liked this image a lot...its been knocking around my hard drive for years.

Quote of the Moment
A good friend of mine is Baptist. Here's her idea on the subject of dinosaurs: "God created dinosaurs when he created man. But he kept them on one side of the earth while he kept Adam and Eve on the other side. Then he killed off all of the dinosaurs and hurled their bodies to the other side of the planet, tilting the planet on its axis. And that's why the earth revolves around the sun - the impact from God's dinosaurs tilted earth into its rotation."
--"swill" on Theistic Hogwash Page

Link of the Moment
Roller Derby meets Billiards: it's Speedpool2. (via camworld)

obscure genius
I think I've finally found a good use for those hundreds of business cards every employer insists on giving me: an almost endless supply of bookmarks! I'm a genius!

Musician Dirty Joke
A Soprano and her Saxophone Player Boyfriend are engaged in intimate relations...
Soprano: "Honey... honey, I think you should pull out..."
Boyfriend: "Why, am I sharp?"
Only people who've been in a band will really understand the punchline... everyone else, it's not as kinky as it might sound..

Quote of the Moment
"That was really.... stellar."

< retrospect: 30 jan >