kirk.is | < retrospect: 28 may >

2014.05.28

  ...of the moment  
Seemingly paradoxically, I think the path to some improvements to my life might be *more* time in front of a computer: namely, using my desk + monitor, sitting upright, and not just reclining in bed to surf etc... both in terms of focusing and getting stuff done, and also that whole "blasting yourself with blue-ish light right before bed isn't the best for sleep" thing. Having a laptop as my main machine is relatively new to me, and it's a great luxury, but I get the idea the old sitting at a desk routine might be better for focus.
How Pop-Tarts are made:

from this fascinating series (despite the captions lamely trying to generate extra enthusiasm.) Manufacturing has gotten so good, it's difficult to remember how much thought has to go into the physical reality of the products we enjoy.
"Some find irony in the fact that a study of our brains revealed to us not the secrets of the past, but what ultimately awaits us in the future. However, I maintain that we have indeed learned something important about the past. The universe began as an enormous breath being held. Who knows why, but whatever the reason, I am glad that it did, because I owe my existence to that fact. All my desires and ruminations are no more and no less than eddy currents generated by the gradual exhalation of our universe. And until this great exhalation is finished, my thoughts live on."
----Ted Chiang's "Exhalation". He's such a good author!

2013.05.28

  ...of the moment  
http://flabbyphysics.com/flabbyphysics.swf -- coolest one button game I've seen in a while
So frickin' tired of nation-specific mp3/music downloads. I think Australia is the worst, but UK is bad enough. #shutupandtakemymoney

"Your right to be stupid does not change the fact that you're stupid."
--http://twitter.com/TheTweetOfGod

via http://tumblr.4gifs.com/ :


http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/05/26/sunday-review/26corn-ch.html -- what a bummer, how nutrition can't easily win out in the marketplace.
Messing with Zoosk. So far it doesn't feel as much as my demographic as OKCupid does; like, Zoosk is eharmony what OKC is to match.com, or something. Plus with odd like Zynga like elements.

(1) greaser batman
2012.05.28
Loved this re-imagining of Batman... check out the the source for the Joker, Riddler, etc... really terrific stuff.

(1) eurotrip day 14
2011.05.28

A frame from every Loony Tune from 1930-1969... When the merry-go-round broke down, indeed!

Final Views from London of the Moment

Amber on the Tube. I like the sense of motion.


We had about half a day to play with, and Rick Steves guide (recommended!) suggested the Imperial War Museum -- good call.


Lots of cool stuff there including this poster. KNIT DAMN YOU!


Finally, terrible shot, but a terribly good idea: some EMT-types at Heathrow airport ride bikes around. It's a little weird to see but makes a ton of sense.


Man, this has been a good trip. Good to get home, too.

(2) wonder, woman!
2010.05.28

--via gifanime but here for Amber...

(8) do you feel lucky?
2009.05.28
--Fascinating coverage of an amazing machine, the Dice-O-Matic mark II. Just rolls dice and records the results.... over a million rolls a day! (And the Mark I was made of Legos!)


  ...of the moment  
http://www.smackerel.net/black_white.html - a study in HyperCard and early multimedia-- cool but would have loved a wider study. The old B+W Mac screens - so cool and museum exhibit-y. I think I missed out not being part of that culture. In general, the way computers don't come with a widely-recognized programming environment (like BASIC back in the day, even) saddens me.
Note to Future Self: Eclipse UI design is a bit retarded- try double clicking on things, maybe it will show you a window right clicking won't.

(4) icondy
2008.05.28
Still a work in progress but I've yet again revamped my personal start page. I've had it there for like 12 years...

For the first time ever... icons! I like the double-sized "favicon" look of it.

Review of the Moment
Slate reviews Susan Neiman's "Moral Clarity". It talks about Neiman's thoughts that the left has allowed the right to stake out "morality" as its own territory...
Reclamation, for Neiman, starts with rereading. She draws her first lessons from the biblical account of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Abraham's response when Yahweh tells him that He plans to destroy the cities of the plain. "Wilt thou indeed destroy the righteous with the wicked?" the patriarch protests. "Far be it from thee to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" When the Lord agrees to spare Sodom if 50 righteous men can be found there, Abraham presses his case: " 'Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Wilt thou destroy the whole city because of five?' And he said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.' "

And so the bargaining starts. Neiman's heart is stirred by Abraham's universalism (these are not his people); by his resoluteness (this is God he is challenging); and by his insistence that the details matter (exactly how many just men are there in Sodom?). And because God seems to acknowledge the force of Abraham's moral reasons, the story allows her to assert, on the basis of the Old Testament itself, that we do not "need religious authority to maintain morality." It is an elegant rhetorical move to take a favorite story of the Christian right and extract a progressive lesson: the obligation of human reason to evaluate religion's demands. If you acknowledge with Abraham, she writes, "that serious religion and serious ethics are thus separate matters, you must believe things are good or evil independent of divine authority."
I think the problem is simpler. Post-modernism, and the idea that absolute truth is likely rare to the point of non-existence, makes it hard for the left who wish to respect a multitude of opinions (including, paradoxically, those opinions that reflect the same spirit of tolerance.) It's the old Bertrand Russell saw, "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." When some side is so willing to have belief without the need for evidence, and claim a specific, arbitrary moral interpretation as an absolute, it's tough to argue with those people from a more reasonable viewpoint!


  ...of the moment  
Note to Christian Zionists: people trying to hasten the end of the world are the BAD GUYS, you selfish schmucks!

(1) copywrong
2007.05.28
Up in Rockport this Memorial Day, so not much of an update...

Video of a Few Moments Ago

--This film, telling about Fair Use through tiny fragments of Disney works was making the rounds a week or two ago.

Similarrly, Spider Robinson's Melancholy Elephants was kind of re-released a little while back, arguing strongly against perpetual copyrights. The core argument there is that the space of potential meaningful POSSIBLE createive work isn't as infinite as we might assume.

In theory, if not in practice (probably due to the relative obscurity of most computer code) Programmers run into exactly that issue in terms of software patents. Coders and Architects, roughtly speaking, are paid to come up with new approaches (or meaningful repurposings of old ones), so the whole idea of "non-obvious to a practioneer in the field" becomes kind of thorny.



(4) it is what it is
2006.05.28
The weather has finally took a turn for the decidedly warm!

The weather: last refuge of the uninspired journaler. I think that's why like half of the Love Blender headers talk about it.

Did I mention that sometime late last year I made my 100th issue of the Blender? Totally missed saying anything! Ah well.

Line and Show of the Moment
"It is what it is."
--Pretty much every contender on "Top Chef", which had its finale recently, probably the only show I've watched on a regular basis so far this year. The antepenultimate episode had a "best quotes" segment, with that one along with "You're a snake. Sssssss." and "I'm not your bitch, bitch!"

For some reason "It is what it is" is a curious blend of fatalism and, I think, confidence in being willing to stand behind the product. It seems a very non-geek thing to say; geeks are always looking to tweak things, make them better. Though maybe that's just an artifact of the malleability of food vs computer code; there's only so much you can do to improve on a finished dish, but computer code is both more permanent (it's not gone after a couple of meals) and less (it's relatively easy to keep on making changes.)

(14) yes, your warship
2005.05.28
Advice and Ephemera of the Moment
Helpful hint: if you're at all attached to your car radio presets, used to certain stations being linked to certain buttons, write them down now, before something happens to 'em--like your car battery needing replacement, that kind of thing.

And so given my compulsion to share pointless Kirk trivia on this site, here are my Boston-area Car Radio Presets: (Hmm, in looking up one station I found a site with profiles of all the local stations...cool. I made links to the stations below...exciting!)

FM (first set...why do all radios have two sets of FM presets, and just one for AM?): 90.9 (public radio) 89.7 (also public radio, but sometimes has music, and I think it's the one with the Garrison Keillor show I always forget to listen to) 96.9 (FM talk, haven't actually listened to it much), unused, unused, and 104.1, which has Howard Stern in the morning for which I previously explained / apologized, plus sometimes decent music.

FM (second set) Except for starting out with 102.5 classical, is a big undifferentiated mix of popmusic that I click through if I'm in that kind of mood... 92.9, 93.7 (no link...odd,) 100.7, 107.9, and 98.5

AM...I've drifted away from "keeping tabs on the (christian right wing fundamentalist) enemy" with 590 (WEZE...if I was the rapper I'd be irritated by their callsign) and its sister talk station 1150 (WTTT--"the Boston T party -- changing the way Boston talks"--cute.) There's 1030 news (its "one commercial every few minutes" drivetime format is sometimes relaxing when one of the other stations is on a huge commercial streak,) 680 talk, 850 sports talk (I do like their "whiner line", as well as the Pats and Sox games) and then 1510, the perennial sports "also ran".

And now you know. And I have place to check if my car's battery runs out.

Tool of the Moment
So last night I was reading Wired, and it has coverage of Spielberg's upcoming "War of the Worlds" remake, including this sidebar comparing the original book, the infamous radio broadcast, and the 1953 film. I just thought that "Thunder Child" (from the original book) is the coolest warship name ever...so cool I decided to download the Gutenberg E-text of the book for download into my Palm's memopad.

Which led me to finally getting around to making a tool I've been talking about with LAN3 for a long while...Gutenberg E-texts (and also things from Usenet) usually have a lot of extra linebreaks to force 80-column width. My Palm of course has much smaller columns and the extraneous linebreaks are annoying. So, Enter The FATLINER. It can inhale even very large texts and spit out a version with the extra linebreaks removed.

Let me know what you think LAN3!


(10) living and dying are, in a sense, of equal value
2004.05.28
Passage of the Moment
"You are a beautiful person, Doctor. Clearheaded. Strong. But you seem always to be dragging your heart along the ground. From now on, little by little, you must prepare yourself to face death. If you devote all of your future energy to living, you will not be able to die well. You must begin to shift gears, a little at a time. Living and dying are, in a sense, of equal value."
--Haruki Murakami, "Thailand", a short story in the collection "After the Quake". (Of course, Islamic terrorists have taken that kind of thought too much to heart.)

Archaeology of the Moment
The Archaeology Institute of America asks Was There a Trojan War? and reviews Troy as shown in current media (the movie and some television specials. I was hoping to be able to find this stuff after watching the movie, I was wondering how carefully the props etc were (Answer: they did a lot of research but felt free to grab from different periods.)

Of course the actual Trojan War was, sadly, utterly Brad Pittless.

Restaurant of the Moment
Found a new terrific place to eat last night...Café Belô...very authentic Brazilian food, in fact their default URL brings you to their Portugeuse site. It's buffet style, load up and they charge you by the pound. The buffet itself is terrific, and then they have chicken, pork, and beef roasting over charcoal at the end, and they'll carve you off big chunks of lipsmacking meat. Wonderful, so tasty, and cheap. (It's a per-pound cost, a bit more if you've Atkins'd-out and get pretty much all meat.)

Peterman and I went to the one in Allston, but I guess there are like 10 of them around...reminded me a bit of my visit to Portugal, all the way back in 1992.

vacation filler day 7 (backlog flush #26)
2003.05.28
  • I loved the micromachines Z-Bots, small robot figures with builtin weapons and what not. I think they were out late highschool, early college for me. They were so cute! I had the one shown here, about 10 more maybe.
  • "Every man is a spark in the darkness. By the time he is noticed he is gone forever. A retinal after-image that fades and is obscured by newer, brighter lights."
    --Warhammer 40,000, a wargame in a scifi dystopia. I also liked "But the universe is a big place and, whatever happens, you will not be missed...."
  • I thought the first email and response on the 10 March 2003 Brunching Shuttlecocks mailbag was really funny. (A "Wilhelm" is a distinctive scream that shows up in many action movies, a bit of an industry injoke.)
  • Iraq Body Count was trying to remind us about the human cost of our war. I admit it didn't go nearly as badly as it could have, but it wasn't the unmitigated victory we could have hoped for, especially in terms of the aftermath.
  • Business 2.0's 101 Dumbest Business Moments of 2002. I thought the captions of 95 through 93 were really funny: "Slyly slipping a camel through the eye of a needle" "Taking a camel and firmly shoving it through the eye of a needle" "Chopping a camel into millions upon millions of tiny camel pieces and pushing them, one by one, through the eye of the goddamn needle". And I thought of trying to rig up something like 101 for myself, a final e-mail in the event of my untimely demise...

(1) good food, good games, good company
2002.05.28
It was a good Memorial Day! Six or so people over, we grilled meat and veggie kabobs, buffalo burgers, Mo made a great "lemonade cake" and rum punch, played frisbee, Trivial Pursuit, Worms, Powerstone 2, Sega Soccer Slam, Quake III...wheee! And we managed to squeak in all the outside stuff between thunderstorms.

Hmm, I bought a genuine wham-o frisbee, brought out for this event, and it came with instructions. I'm not sure about the "CATCHING" section though... "Catches can be made with either hand. Squeeze hard just before the disc hits your hand." That doesn't sound like a recipe for a successful catch.

Link of the Moment
Ranjit and I were talking about some gamebutton ideas (including a gamebutton writing contest I'd like to setup) and he thought I should set up merit badges for good scores, on the honor system. It reminded me of the Activision clubs they had, where you could get patches if you sent in a photo with a high score. I found a cool webpage gallery of them at atariage.com. I should load up the old games and see which ones of these I could proudly (and rightfully) display on my webpage...I think I made the "Sky Jinks" club, I was pretty good at that little speedy game.

Quote of the Moment
There is no TRUTH. There is no REALITY. There is no CONSISTENCY. There are no ABSOLUTE STATEMENTS. I'm very probably wrong.
--TWENTY PAST MIDNIGHT

(1) how to attract women
2001.05.28
Memorial Day... a parade lined up just down the street from my house, wasn't expecting that. After all this time away from playing in that kind of band, I think I miss cool drum candences the most.

Quote of the Moment
"I mean--I know I caughter her off-guard and all, but I think she was kinda' gettin' into it...right before she threw me through the sliding glass door."
--Jay, Chasing Dogma

Link of the Moment
In a similar vein of dealing with women, it's Don Juan Center (at the URL sosuave.com -- nice touch.) Be sure to check out the articles link.

KHftCEA 0.4 KHftCEA 2000-05.3 May

KHftCEA 2000-05.3 May

If...you acquire a living knowledge of the history of great men, you will learn from it a surpreme comandment: to become mature and to flee from that paralyzing upbrining of the present age which sees its advantage in preventing your growth so as to rule and exploit you to the full while you are still immature.
--Nietzsche
Interesting to compare this observation with the worship of youth we have today, and youthful lack of responsibility and seeking of pleasure.  
00-5-28
---
When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mythical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.
--Whitman
Gah! It's crap like this that reminds me how much I hated reading the transcendentalists in high school... he looked up in mute incomprehension, willing to have the ease of labeling it as a big silent black box rather than working to see what really is. As if I scientist loses the ability to look up at the perfect silence! Like Feynman says, but he can enjoy the flowers on many more levels than the only-poet.  
00-5-28
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Odd biological thought, not for polite company: our anuses are really lame sculptors, though the raw material provided by our intestines makes a big difference.
00-5-28
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"I gave women multiple orgasms so I can hear them scream MY name!!"
--God, quoted by xeno6696@earthlink.net
---
As a nation, the United States is a fiction that stands on three legs: a set of still contested eighteenth-century political documents; the  cautionary example of the Civil War; and the daily consumption of mass culture. That's it. Everything else, however tremendous, is secondary. Tripods are precarious, as I'm reminded whenever I encounter intimidatingly foursquare foriegners--all these knitted residues of race, land, religion, and language. The rest of the world deems Americans superficial, and that is correct. What the rest of the world may not grasp is that we are profoundly superficial.
--Peter Schjeldahl
---
Tibor Kalman: a very interesting designer, with an interest in "the amateur spirit" and "fucking things up"-- reading some biographical pieces from about a year ago. (And what a bummer that I'm not doing enough with my life to warrant similar attention- ah well!)
00-5-28

KHftCEA 0.4

goodbye 17 banks street #2- you were a great first apartment.
97-5-28
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< retrospect: 28 may >