| < retrospect: 3 sep >


  ...of the moment  

"Editors are frustrated writers, and writers are... frustrated writers."
--Dylan, F.W.

(1) 2013.09.03

  ...of the moment Man -- if this article is onbase, footbinding might not have just been torturous for women, but something that (in an oddly meta kind of way) reshaped Chinese infrastructure and zeal to explore as well.
oh, and RIP Seamus Heaney.
In Alaska, I had some good and thoughtful discussions with Riana and reached some new conclusions. It's a tangle of old and new thoughts, and unclear setups of cause and effect, but: for me, somehow implanted at a deep and defining level, Verbs trump Nouns. What you do, how you interact, is the critical defining factor, and pushes what one might "really be" to near irrelevance.

There's a downside to this concept: nobody -- myself included-- has intrinsic value. (Note, I'm not really defending this value, but talking about my recent discovery as it as a foundation to a lot of my moral and psychological landscape.) In this view, if you do nothing, you're worth nothing.

There are consequences to this view: I think it means I don't have a solid core of real self-worth, and so a rection formation grew up around it: as a kid, I was precocious, and I think that got parlayed into a need to be the bestest, smartest kid in the world, because that was the only game in town. Early on this led to ugly consequences: my young rage at losing a board game, say. Looking back, maybe that's because that was upsetting the natural order of the world with me at its pinnacle... but even more scarily, if I wasn't the bestest, what was I? Maybe nothing! So of course I fought against it.

(There's a seeming contradiction here -- 6 years ago I was looking at a Scientific American article about kids who get the idea that intelligence is innate and fixed, and so the important thing is to always look smart. ( ) You might think that would lead them to self-confidence, an unassailable bit of ego core, but instead it brings on fear and strategies to avoid looking like anything less, like a mere mortal. And I think that's because if they (and me) aren't the greatest then they are worth nothing.)

The other side effect of not having a sense of self-worth is I tend to be a goodie-goodie rule follower, but I think that's less of a moral sense than a fear that if I don't follow the rules, I'll be rejected and maybe thrown out, because there's nothing fundamentally worth saving.

Often getting over-intellectual about something is helpful for me, because I can purposefully use my intellect to overcome my gut feelings. This one is tougher though because, intellectually, I don't what the answer that tells me "everyone has intrinsic worth" is. Existentially speaking, the idea that people's value comes from interactions with Everything Else has a lot of appeal.

One possible intellectual out came to me in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, a great bit of fanfic speculating what would have happened if young Harry Potter had been raised not by the Dursleys but by an Oxford Professor and his supportive and loving and intelligent wife... at one point, in explaining that there was no simple way of conclusively demonstrating that he (Harry Potter) wasn't the next Dark Lord, Professor Quirrell explains
"The import of an act lies not in what that act resembles on the surface, Mr. Potter, but in the states of mind which make that act more or less probable."

Harry blinked. He'd just had the dichotomy between the representativeness heuristic and the Bayesian definition of evidence explained to him by a wizard.
So there might where the answer is: yes, what's important is what we do, not what we are, but what we are goes a long, long way to determining what we do-- and from there, intrinsic value can be potentially found.

Still, it's a long way from a weak intellectual defense to really "getting it" and living it, and nearing some kind of midway point in my life, I have to acknowledge that a lot of my grooves are kind of set, and it may always take a big dose of mindfulness to see that I'm worthwhile and can and should take on even challenges that may leave me frustrated and looking less than stellar.
This is beautiful. Make this jellybean count, people.

(1) hazy sunday in cleveland

view from terminal tower- indians home game!

the view south.
(it was weird laterseeing the new packed casino in the same building...)

see ya later alligator!
(at the greater cleveland aquarium)

under the jellyfish


dinner at pickle bill's

  ...of the moment on my UI dev blog: EMPOWER EVERYONE - What Google Hangouts, AppleTV, and ITS PDP-6 have in common

(1) i smell flowers

--I was looking at some of the random art and sketch programs I have on my iPad (before I realized Art Studio was hands down the best) and I found this-- err-- retouching of a photo I had taken of Amber, near Niagara Falls. I assume I made it, but have no recollection of what I might be on about, but it makes me kind of laugh...

(2) dancin' dancin' dancin'

--via felisdemens - thought MELM+MELAS might dig it...

  ...of the moment  
"#lessonlearned Never volunteer for an experimental drug without learning what the experiment is."
I wonder if any phone lets you record various "conference codes" to pick from and playback, for conference calls and automated menus etc... - I still find John Waters weirdly a little hot.

(6) photos from the grove and back again
Ocean Grove, New Jersey is a beautiful beach town. Our neighbors there really take the flowers thing seriously:

Thee heart of the town may well be the Great Auditorium, shown here behind a statue of clergyman Elwood Stokes.

Mostly I included that to set the scene for this view of Stokes:

(It reminds me a bit of that one statue of a woman in Kanazawa, Japan I took, but a lot less naked.)

The ruined casino in Asbury Park has this interesting tentacle flapper mural:

Back in the Grove, the had a very odd "Christmas in August" pageant. We missed most of it but it's a bit surreal hearing "Joy to the World" floating over the beach at night.:

Finally, back in Boston, it's JZ and Rhodesian Ridgeback pup Brody...

  ...of the moment  
"My first crush on an Irish girl...I was ten years old, and her name was Elaine. Little red-haired girl; Well, she looked like you, But if you were ten, Which you're clearly not. Not that you look old, but you get my-- I'll just stop now."
--Jason Robert Brown "I Could Be In Love With Someone Like You" - analysis of "Black Bart Simpson" T-shirts and related merch. If in a hurry just check out
"Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have got it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known."
--Garrison Keillor (via)
"Sometimes I really miss enforced naptime. Work is never like kindergarten in the good ways."
-- - I remember reading "The Relaxation Response" a long while ago at the recommendation of a college infirmary doctor. I was impressed that it seemed more concerned with helping people in a secular way than selling either a belief system or books. It somehow seems contradictory to say "I really should add a daily Todo app entry of 'medidate'" but I think I really should.
Finishing up a biography of Washington. His last act was to feel his own final pulse. As a society I think we've forgotten what a hero he was.
He then led his guests to the piazza facing the Potomac, where he paced back and forth and liked to talk about farming (plow designs, the dreaded Hessian fly, crop rotation schemes). He often enjoyed an after-dinner glass of Madeira, which he held casually with his arm draped over a chair while listening impassively to any political talk that he preferred to avoid. Awkward silences did not disturb him.
--Joseph J. Ellis, "His Excellency, George Washington"
Are you ever tempted to look at the human form as something alien? Regard a face upsidedown, mouth moving in the forehead... or the odd columns of arms and legs.

(6) tasha yar looks mysteriously like my ex
Yeesh, last night was the first night I got myself into bed by like, ten in almost a week... a company party, minigolf and videos with out of town friends, 3 nights of physics jam, and then throwing off my actual bedtime by falling asleep to Star Trek: Next Generation reruns on the couch...

Random thoughts on ST:TNG, from a comment I made to Nick B writing about the closing of Star Trek: the Experience

I guess now I watch with a more critical eye than I used to... the treknobabble was stupefying, along with ... I dunno, there's a certain laziness to the writing maybe? People never deal with a mysterious situation by acting like people trying to suss out a problem do, instead they just hold up signposts to the final explanation. (And sometimes the explanations are so coincidental... oh, see, it was Geordi's VISOR that was doing some dumbass handwaving subspace thing triggering your quantum universe watchamacallit, and Data was able to scan that your RNA was resonating different than EVERYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE but you're not exploding or anything)

Two of the episodes were of the "alternate timeline" varieties, which I tend to find the most compelling to watch as well as the most infuriating. One was "Parallels" -- the scene of a desperate, long bearded Riker on a wrecked bridge trying to sabotage attempts to return him to the universe where the Borg have nearly conquered is striking. The other was "Yesterday's Enterprise" with its cool design of the 1701-C, splitting the difference between the later movies and the new show. Both fudge timeline splits in different dumb ways... neither try to explain why what alternatives we're seeing are so close to the "real" reality. (Besides the dumbness of the "War torn" Enterprise-D having started with the same crew (sans children), it would've been cool if they had thrown in some more militaristic in its design...)

Anyway. I still enjoyed the shows, but it's funny not having thought about it that much for like a decade.

Science of the Moment
Slate's Jim Holt on The End of the Universe... he quotes Annie Hall where a psychiatrist consoles Alvy who's being neurotic about the expanding end of the universe "It won't be expanding for billions of years, Alvy, and we've got to enjoy ourselves while we're here, eh? Ha ha ha." The "Ha ha ha" makes it sound insipid, 'cause other than that it's pretty good advice.

  ...of the moment  
seeing what's on the back of a scanned in paper, much easier to read the negative; evolution-wise, guess it's 'cause night vision is useful
I have zero urge to crossdress, but am suddenly curious about what the mechanics of walking on spikey highheels feel like.
Feels like fall. Not just the weather; the mood? The light?
katwinx yeah; the everywhere aspect of Twitter returns a spontaneity I had lost when I went from a palm pilot journal to a web-based blog

(9) four wheels, no brains
Another fine day for manual labor in Rockport.

Rant of the Moment
"Has anyone told the Human Torch that it might not be safe to sit on top of a gas tank when one is on FIRE? Nice message to send the kids, assholes!"
--A letter to the editor against the Fantastic 4 Human Torch ATV, the most "ridiculously stupid and insulting" movie tie-in toy ever. (Some harsh language.)

Video of the Moment

--I just dig the energy of this remix, if not so much the guitars.
Apollo 440 also did the most interesting ambient remix of "Mysterious Ways" I've ever heard.

(4) suuuuperman
Hmm. I guess there's a danger that when I'm busier at work but doing "interesting" things that this site becomes a bit "bloggier". (Or as I put it when describing the site to someone who's not web-saavy, more "here's what I had for lunch today") I don't have the freetime that finding interesting tangental links and quotes requires. And even my recent reading on the plane hasn't been too fruitful from a quote point of view.

So, yesterday. Ksenia and I thought about going to my family's place in Ocean Grove, but it seemed like too much of a drive, and the rag-end of Ernesto promised to cut into what little beach-y time there was to be had. We also toyed with like Toronto or Montreal, but then realized the drive was even longer.

(Truth is, I'm really bad at organizing vacations. I guess I really don't "get it". Putting it into my whole "interesting/non-interesting" world view... there's lots of interesting stuff at home I haven't even seen, and I don't think tourists see the really interesting bits of a place unless they have a native guide. (Plus hotels are so frickin' expensive! A typical daily rate is pretty high, beyond my typical "mad money" threshold.)

So we decided to maybe do more of an overnight trip Monday or Tuesday. So yesterday we took care of a few errands around Harvard Square, then we went up to that new Jordans in Reading. I've been thinking about something couch-like. We start at the Fuddruckers there. Man, I still think that's about the best Burger place in the world... fantastic burgers, home fries, these banana shakes...amazing.

Then we wandered the labyrinth that is Jordans. It's kind of scarey what a maze that place is.

Then we caught Superman Returns 2D/3D at the IMAX... only having 4 scenes in 3D was kind of a bummer, but still it was decent. The "Superman = Jesus" thing was a bit heavyhanded (and I know the weirdness of that coming from two jewish guys from Cleveland has been remarked upon before.) and Lois was way too young, but still not bad.

(6) quick 20
Kirktrivia of the Moment
  1. i had to go pee before writing this
  2. i'm dating a nice gal from Russia right now
  3. I checked the starting time with the little LCD display on my desk phone, even though I guess the clock on my laptop would've worked just as well
  4. I spoke with a calypso accent at first, learning to speak on the island of St. Thomas in the virgin islands.
  5. therefore my first words to my (probably racist, and not happy about his grandkid talking like an islander) were "Heyyyyyy Poppa Samm" -- you have to imagine the accent for that I'm afraid
  6. I don't like it when my wrists get warm from my laptop
  7. i think prose is better than poetry
  8. i'm not very romantic despite running the romance poetry community website "blender of love"
  9. I have the domain "" so that should be a valid domain
  10. i like to drink a lot of water but haven't landed on a vessel I'm truly happy with. Right now I'm using a big plastic tumbler, which carrries a risk of tumbling. before this i tried gallon jugs and reusing clear plastic soda bottles, but the jugs are tough to clean out and the bottles are kind of skanky and don't hold much water
  11. i think i'm about as heavy as i've ever been
  12. i can seal my nostrils just by inhaling hard, and also flare them at will. the former always gets more laughs, even though as a kid I thought the latter was more impressive and unique
  13. I don't think I have the writing cajones to be a famous writer.
  14. I'm a touch neurotic. I'm prone to very intermitent anxiety attacks.
  15. The attacks seemed to get there start around Y2k anxieties in 1998 or so, but they find various subjects to latch on to from time to time.
  16. I'm paralyzingly afraid of proof coming out that I'm not the smartest guy in the room. I'd rather not try and fail then try and fail and prove my lack of inborn greatness.
  17. Diet Coke with Lime is my favorite soft drink, the one I'll probably grab when presented with a full array at a store
  18. I've been to Canada, Mexico, Portugal, England, and Germany. Curiously I've never been west of the Mississippi in the USA, except maybe for a half-forgotten airport stop on route to Mexico.
  19. I sometimes feel like I'm in a low level digital photography contest with my ex-wife. I've been doing it a lot longer but she recently went the fancier camera route. I don't think she knows about this.
  20. I changed fact #2 to make it less incriminating. (the subject changed completely, it wasn't about my romantic life at all previously)
--Response to a "Write 20 Random Facts (true or not)" in morecake's livejournal. Supposedly then you're allowed or supposed to ask many people to do likewise as minutes it took....12 in my case. Mmmmm....EB, FoSO, LAN3, Lex, 'ELM, 'ELAS, Mr. Ibis, Beau, Sarah, Nick B, ErinMaru, Aparajita...feel free to try it, it's kind of amusing. (Dylan too but I don't even know if he's around and about.)

16 is one of my biggest character flaws, previously references (top quote there.) 19 is of course patently silly, and also previously noted

(25) if he only had a brain
Political Quote of the Moment
"Who would you more likely vote for for president—the Tin Man, who is all brains and no heart, or the Scarecrow, who is all heart and no brain?" It was a landslide: Tin Man 49 percent to Scarecrow 13 percent.
--This Slate piece. Too bad in real-life the Tin Man/Scarecrow split is more like 50/50. Ok, that's not quite fair, though Bush has made some MAJOR miscalculations, which he NEVER ADMITS TO which is what ticks me off. MSNBC had an almost-fawning biography of the man, that made me a little more sympathetic to his outlook, but from day one, he never acted with the "humbleness" that he claimed or with what a guy who GOT FEWER VOTES should.

Thought of the Moment
Howard Stern was a repeat this morning, they had on some guy who is against California's Three Strikes and Your Out laws. It made me think: do you suppose the anti-Gay Marriage legislators who are whining about "activist judges" and "legislating from the bench" are some of the same ones who helped pass mandatory sentencing guidelines and "three strikes" laws that take away judges' discretion in sentencing?

Web Challenge of the Moment
Here's a simple question, but I could not Google up an answer to it: "What is the closest MBTA Subway stop to the Boston Opera House?" The Opera House itself seems to be lacking a canonical website, so all you get are ticket sites. The MBTA's search site is sadly lacking...or rather the opposite, showing me tons and tons of bus routes and what not that I'll never use. The phone number I found for the place doesn't get answered. Most tourist info sites don't mention anything about T-access.

What is this, 1995?

(5) luck be a lady tonight
Quote of the Moment
"God does not play dice with the universe: He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players [i.e. everybody], to being involved in an obscure and complex variant of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time."
--Terry Pratchett

Image of the Moment
I don't know where exactly this logo is from, other than this BBC article on the RIAA laying down a $50K smackdown on music copiers, but I like it. UPDATE: Check the "comments" section for Bill the Splut's explanation of its origins.

Article of the Moment
Great little bit of (most likely) foolishness at, Traffic Zoology, considering packs of highway cars as conglomerated's hard to know exactly how serious to take the idea.

(3) grindstone and bear it
Oy, time to drag ourselves back to work after the long weekend. Dang. I think the ideal workweek would be like...I dunno, 10-16 hours?

Stupid Pop Culture Observation of the Moment
If you made a diet pill, would you call it Norexin? Yeah, that sounds like it's a healthy way to lose weight, "Gee doc, I'm having trouble with my self image because of these unwanted pounds..." "Take a Norexintm!" How about a pill called "Vulemic"?

Emotional Exhibitionism of the Moment
I've put the Selections from the K & R Carousel up as this month's Blender Feature. It's an extract from the e-mail archive from a college relationship I had, some of my best and worst writing.

Link of the Moment
From deep within the backlog (last October, actually) it's, a series of odd little artsy flash animations, some with some minor interactivity. A new one every month by the look of it. (If you find you can't close a given animation, look for the "X" by the link to it on the main list.)

(27) no YOU tell him he's a loon
News of the Moment reports on Colonel Gadhafi (have they finally standardized the English spelling of his name? Here's a page that lists over 16 alternative spellings) as he mocks U.S. on coup anniversary. My favorite part was
With respect to savings, he held up a glass of water and said it was too big, and people could not possibly drink all the liquid they poured into it. Smaller glasses would stop them from throwing away excess liquid, he said.
So, smaller drinking glasses. That's what will point the way to solving whatever ails their economy.

Lyrics of the Moment
The other day, I got this note on my guestbook:
Hey, I was thrilled to see you posted some of my lyrics!
--Bobby Sichran
I got Bobby Sichran's cd "From A Sympathetical Hurricane" from Disc Diggers (at Davis Square) for about a buck. It was kind of an odd cd, but I listened to it a lot that summer. So the posting he referenced was the rather obscure list of old .sigs from my Palm journal--he musta been googling his name. So, to make a more proper posting of it:
I got gravel in my paw
Dirty motor oil soaked
Down to my skin
Got gravel in my paw
Dirty motor oil soaked
Down to my skin
Broken glass in my mouth
Every time I grin
--Bobby Sichran, "Stray Dog"

Joke of the Moment
A Scotsman and a Jew went to a restaurant. After a hearty meal, the waitress came by with the inevitable check. To the amazement of all, the Scotsman was heard to say, "I'll pay it!" and he actually did.

The next morning's newspaper carried the news item:

--via rec.humor.funny. Kind of a so-so joke, but they said that it got the newsgroup on the front pages of major newspapers and banned at the University of Waterloo and Stanford so I thought it deserved attention here, a drop in an anti-censorship lake.

KHftCEA 1997-08.2 August KHftCEA 1997-09 September

KHftCEA 1997-09 September

dear r
Catherine thought, perhaps if we travel together, I shall get to know them at last, for so far I have been all wrong, and they have turned out different to what I thought.  How is one to know what people are like? . . . Perhaps one can never know; perhaps people are uncapturable, and slip away like water from one's hand, changing all the time.
--Rose Macaulay, "Staying with Relations"
living is absurdity. You can especially realise this right before drifting off to sleep.  Sleeping a third of your life away...
KHftCEA 1997-08.2 August

"never refuse a breathmint"

< retrospect: 3 sep >