| < retrospect: 30 nov >


  ...of the moment  
"The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent. But if we can come to terms with this indifference, then out existence as a species can have genuine meaning. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light."
--Stanley Kubrick


  ...of the moment  
"Three logicians walk into a bar. Bartender: 'Does everyone want beer?' First: 'I don't know.' Second: 'I don't know.' Third: 'Yes.'"

(1) playlist november 2012
November was a terrible month for me in most ways, but oddly enough a great one for discovering music, especially Golddust which you really need to watch.

All songs here I call 3 stars or better, 4+ star songs I've colored red. Songs with videos (vs just static image music uploads) are marked with an exclamation point, multiple exclamation points indicate extra goodness.

  • !!!Golddust (DJ Fresh) Oh my goodness. My first 5-Star in a long while. Both the video (amazing and well-shot jumprope action) and the song are so full of energy. (Tough MP3 to find; avoid the slower (and sadly more common) dubstep version)
  • Humming the Bassline (Hideki Naganuma) From the "Jet Grind Radio" sound track, great bouncy bass.
  • !Lazy (X-Press 2 Ft. David Byrne) I'm reading David Byrne's book... I guess this was a big hit for X-Press, and as some reviewer quipped, he'd collaborate with anyone "for a half-empty bag of Doritos"
Comedy Hip-Hop -- all of these have kind of some crude (or worse) lyrics but man, they are some of the funniest videos I'd seen in a long while.
  • !!Thrift Shop (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis) Warning, kinda racy lyrics, but sometimes I like this song a bit more than "Golddust", even.
  • !!Barack Obama vs Mitt Romney (Epic Rap Battles of History) Honestly, I was too stressed to listen to this 'til the election wsa one... but so much fun, and such great lines.
  • !My Vag (Awkwafina) More racy lyrics, but laugh out loud funny.
Comedy Other
  • !My Ding-A-Ling (Chuck Berry) Man, this is a funny classic. At first I didn't realize the crowd is british, but you can kind of hear it, especially when the women sing. Like the pro-gay aspect of it too.
  • Happy Hour (Is The Saddest Time Of The Day) (Ray Stevens) Jeez. I had this on a tape when I was a kid. The hamfisted laugh track really is something.
  • !Tell Me 'Bout It (Joss Stone) Sexy fun, with a great retro sound.
  • !A Simple Motion (t.A.T.u.) I've known about the Russian version of this song for a long while; I think the more orchestral English version is new for the anniversary of "200 km/h in the Wrong Lane". Sexy and direct.
  • !Dog Days Are Over (Florence + The Machine) Amber digs this song. It's a little long, but good.
  • !Rolling In The Deep (Adele) Obviously this one has made the rounds, but it's such a good sound.
  • Give It to Me (Reel Big Fish) Heard this in the restroom at Summer Shack. Not the biggest Ska fan, but this is alright.
  • Linger (The Cranberries) Lovely little song from a while back.
  • Express Yourself (Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band) Kind of amazed it took me so long to get this song.
  • Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho (The Jordanaires) Back in my Salvation Army days, there was a novelty spoken word and brass band arrangement of this. Couldn't find that, but this version is more direct.
  • They Built The Ship Titanic (Margaret Ann) The video isn't the song I found... but I remember singing this one with my mom.
  • Rum & Coca Cola (Lord Invader) A classic, a bit more raw than the Andrews Sisters' version.
  • Accentuate the Positive (Horace Heidt & His Orchestra) My version is different than the link. What strikes me is how many covers mention that it's a Johnny Mercer song.
  • !My Way (Sex Pistols) A guy at Alewife quoted "regrets, I've had a few..." and I had to find a version of this. The Sex Pistols cover is idiosyncratic to say the least but I like how they also use it over the credits of "Goodfellas"
Rural Hip-Hop

(2) electric pow wow drum
--FelisDemens (who is part of the Seneca nation herself) posted this on her Facebook page. I really dig the Indian chant/singing sound... there's something fundamental in it.

  ...of the moment  
15 golden rules to live by while traveling the world. Literally the best, most concise travel advice I've read. Past couple trips I've got to live tips 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, and the rest seem like gems...
More Win7 vs OSX UI analysis from my dev blog (that happens to be in favor of Win7)

(8) bobby, your bluebottle fly maggot bestest buddy
--Closeup of a maggot, from's 12 Things You'll Wish You'd Never Seen Under a Microscope-- Surprisingly cute! (It didn't even need any photoshopping, unlike my idea for Tiddley, your Tummy Tapeworm Pal

  ...of the moment  

"Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness."
--Bertrand Russell, Conquest of Happiness

(2) whoever mentions arctic vs antarctic will get slapped

--via Man, I just love accents.

  ...of the moment - the Iwata Asks series, Miyamoto points out some things about Mario I hadn't considered.
The singular of "Beatles" is probably only 4-5 years away.

(2) you're nuts. and bolts.
Burnt most of yesterday playing this terrific new game Banjo-Kazooie Nuts & Bolts. The core of it is this clever vehicle editor... I don't know if most of the people playing with it will realize how slick it is. So you can make a car, or motorcycle, or powered shopping cart, or copter, or boat, or hovercraft, or plane, try it out in the test track, and then use it to solve different challenges, races, and collection tasks, and "sumo" matches, etc etc. It's like old style Lego building (before you had so many specialty pieces, so everything is a bit blocky) but the design actually matters, and you have to balance engine and fuel and weight to get the vehicle performance you need.

Banjo-Kazooie was mid-90s "collect-a-thon" type game, and Nuts & Bolts carries on the tradition of a central world, with lots of specially themed mini-worlds off of it. And it's so pretty, a nice blend between cartoony and realistic (same for the physics). I guess some of the old school fans are upset it's a break from the old exploration style, and that the bear and bird combo don't have many of their old moves. But to me, this game is doing something so unique, I can't blame them for co-opting the series proper.

Following up some links with this, I'm struck with how there's some little subculture of Youtube commentary... this one is reasonably well done, but some of the random guy talking on and on into a webcam is... well, who knows. Can't they just blog and natter away on web forums like normal people? (Look, the kettle is just dark gray, ok?)

Anyway, this game is great stuff, the vehicle building and driving is really joyous, and makes me happy that videogames exist.

  ...of the moment  
Dr. Mario:"*KIRK!*" "It wasn't me...Aunt Susan dropped those" "He's lying to avoid attention!" "Oh yeah, *that's* what I avoid" "Good point"
Dr. Mario is to my family what Gin Rummy is to some others.
Aha, finally figured it out, my GPS will pronounce "dr." as "drive" at the end of a name, otherwise "doctor" as in "storrow dr. east"
He who teaches history is doomed to remember it. Or something.

(15) oh you're just the smartest bestest cleverest kid in the whole world
Yet more self-involved blather, very loud introspection. But there's a very good video after. You might want to skip to that.

Man, this Scientific American article on The Secret to Raising Smart Kids rang more than a few bells for me...
Our society worships talent, and many people assume that possessing superior intelligence or ability-- along with confidence in that ability-- is a recipe for success. In fact, however, more than 30 years of scientific investigation suggests that an overemphasis on intellect or talent leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unwilling to remedy their shortcomings.

The result plays out in children like Jonathan, who coast through the early grades under the dangerous notion that no-effort academic achievement defines them as smart or gifted. Such children hold an implicit belief that intelligence is innate and fixed, making striving to learn seem far less important than being (or looking) smart. This belief also makes them see challenges, mistakes and even the need to exert effort as threats to their ego rather than as opportunities to improve. And it causes them to lose confidence and motivation when the work is no longer easy for them.
That's similar to something I wrote a year ago.

So: It's not the self-esteem, stupid! Maybe we have too much of that, with our kids who are, internationally speaking, among the worst at math but think that they're the best.

I think almost any kid who is the smartest kid in his peer group ends up thinking they're the smartest kid, period. Even as they grow, and are smart enough to intellectually realize the absurdity of this thought, they don't feel it.

As crazy as it is, it's still a bit of a problem for me. But I managed to shake it off in a lot of ways and think I should be proud of that. I think back to my school history: skipped second grade, got put back when I changed districts... in sixth grade I started doing well on standardized tests but was always in the mid-quarter "D&F Club" after school program. I managed to get some level of a work ethic through middle and high school, though it didn't really gel 'til college, with most visible bumps in high school classes that required the work of memorization, chemistry and calculus.

But it's not like I blame my folks. I remember fiercely resisting my mom trying to get me to set specific goals during middle school... I much preferred a promise to put in a good effort, and seeing what came of that. Now I see what a defensive strategy that was. If anything, I suspect schools aren't particularly well set-up for "Gifted and Talented" programs: smart kids don't get the challenges to put their abilities in a reasonable context, and it's likely that recent standardized testing initiatives is making that problem worse, with school districts having to do more scrambling for tough cases (no matter how poorly motivated or difficult the student) as well as having the smart kids feel like frickin' geniuses when the normalized tests seem like a breeze.

Now I'm still pretty "risk adverse". I can be a good worker, but sometimes my diligence is inversely proportional to the chance of failure... if I'm not confident of it being a cakewalk (even if a long and tedious one) I'm more likely to start employing avoidance strategies.

Marching Band of the Moment
--Thinking of school days... the Cal Band rocks! Such a damn clever program! Especially the first bit, 0:40-1:30. Too bad it's shot from the Visitor's side. (There's also this right-side-up but skewed and partial view of the same show.)

(2) contra: not just u u d d l r l r b a start anymore!
So stunningly Spring like out there today, I just can't get enough of weather like this. And yet, I should stow my damn snow shovel in the back of my car, so as to not tempt Murphy and His Law.

Anecdote of the Moment
"Tu Mu relates a strategem of Chu-ko Liang, who in 149 B.C., when occupying Yang-ping and about to be attacked by Ssu-ma, suddenly struck his colors, stopped the beating of the drums, and flung open the city gates, showing only a few men engaged in sweeping and sprinkling the ground. This unexpected proceeding had the intended effect; for Ssu-ma I, suspecting an ambush, actually drew off his army and retreated."
--Editorial note by Lionel Giles for The Art of War, via Sirlin. Such a fantastic image! You can practically here the crickets chirp.

Politics of the Moment

Contra as seen on Nintendo in 1988
Contra as seen by the Media in 2006
Happy Late Birthday Iran-Contra! I remember my dad saying at the time that was the kind of thing that brought down presidencies. Guess not! And I remember after that, having NO idea what to make of Ollie North... being in like, seventh grade, I was a little more prone to that weird "puppy dog eyed American hero" propaganda they were spinning for him.

(14) san andreas, no fault
Map of the Moment

--This is a shrunk-down version Ian Albert's map of the entire layout of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. For a video game it's a huge amount of continuous area, and Ian Albert's map is 6,000 pixels on a side. From Ian Albert's San Andreas page (which includes other useful views), plus he has mapped some other games as well. It's kind of a cool little hobby. The DOOM I + II maps, in 3/4 perspective, are many of those levels I learned by "feel" (turn left, run straight, left again, right) that seeing them, with all the graphical detail that the in-game overhead maps lack, really lets me "see" them for the first time. (Thanks LAN3 who IM'd me with the first map, and then put the link in the comments the other day.)

Embarrasing Admission of the Moment
"I'm the total package: all the lurp, none of the unpleasant smell."
(presenting myself as a lurpy but good smelling guy)
<filter type="eww" severity="mild" instructions="highlight with mouse to read"> --Something I wrote down 6 years ago yesterday. Lurpy in the sense of a little big and ungainly...but generally free of offensive B.O. For a while I thought it was because I'm not particularly hairy as far as guys go (well, besides the fact I'm generally under-exercised) but lately I realized it might be because of my tendency to sweat from my head; my mom says even when I was a baby she couldn't put a hat on me because my head would get so hot. So, while headsweat isn't particularly attractive, at least it's not associated with unpleasant smells.</filter>

(6) see you in court!
I've got a traffic court date today. I swear I was trying to do the Right Thing and what the traffic signs were telling me to do. The incident was on August First...I was driving south on 93. There was an electronic roadsign saying "LEFT 3 LANES CLOSED". I thought that was a little odd, because the road was only 3 lanes, but whatever. Eventually I get to the slowly moving traffic...and there's another sign "LEFT 3 LANES CLOSED". And there's only 3 lanes. But traffic is somehow still moving, so I figure everyone is going to the breakdown lane. I thought this was confirmed when I see 2 or 3 cars go start using the breakdown lane, and I actually thought that was what we were supposed to do. Sure I thought it was a chance to get moving ahead of other folks, but I also thought it was what we were supposed to be doing to get traffic moving in general.

Sigh. $100 fine, but assuming I don't succesfully fight it I'm more concerned about the insurance aspect. This is my first moving violation, I've never even gotten a speeding ticket. So it's really annoying to get the blemish, especially when I really thought I was doing what the signs indicated I should do.

Stupid Obscure Punning Clickable Text That You Only Get If You Read The Article of the Moment
Something Wickard This Way Comes. Drugs are bad, mmm-kay? Stupid prude nation. Are our drug laws really a commendable act of keeping society in order and staving off entropy and chaos, or are these mostly just self-righteous blowhards who delight in stopping other people from having fun, even if that also means people who are really, really sick and have a legitmate need for marijuana get screwed? The article points out that the Justices' hypocrisy of being for states' rights just so long as they agree with the state in question is astounding.

(2) the mental case
In yesterday's comment section people asked some interesting questions about the visual design of this site...I started typing up answers for inclusion here, but it got rather long and not-general-interesty-enough for a daily update so I made a stand alone page of questions and answers, on the visual design of (My favorite: "Why does grey seem to be the feature colour on the site?" "It's not; black and white are. The grey is just there to liven up the place.")

Observation of the Moment
[On why the universal programmer's task of breaking up a problem into smaller parts is difficult to learn] Personally I think this ties into a fallacy the vast majority of us share, that we are essentially rational beings, that all of the things we do in life could be traced down to logical decisions, maybe even the binary firings of clusters of neurons. Really, I think we're just gigantic cluesters of ad hoc heuristics, and attempts to describe our thoughts as logical processes are just optimistic, post facto mappings to what we would've done, if we had the time to think about it. (And there is some experimental/clinical evidence for what a great after-the-fact story teller/rationalizer our brains are...)
--2003.11.04, in this slashdot post.

Image and Article of the Moment

--from a review of DOOM: the comic book. Great game. Awful comic. Actually, I wonder if they could have made a better comic by going to the original DOOM bible, which envisioned DOOM as having a much more complex story, or if that would just make everything incosistent with the game everybody knew and loved. Though I guess according to the article, it couldn't have been much WORSE of a game... (via Bill the Splut)

Definition of the Moment
Death wish, n.: The only wish that always comes true, whether or not one wishes it to.
--via slashdot.

backlog flush #5
  • A throwaway line in "Galatea 2.2" (about teaching a computer to understand literature) mentions the idea that one of the best loved American poems might just be about a guy stopping to take a leak.
  • Late last year Google cranked back its its Usenet Archives to relatively early in Usenet's life. Salon had an article about the geeks who had archived the stuff in the meantime.
  • I wrote a rant (actually a bit of AIM transcript) about how I got totally suckered by a Fox news teaser "find out why you might want to avoid that second cup of coffee!"...I watch the whole crappy "news" program for half an hour and get and get a 15 seconds blurb that 3 cups or more of decaf coffee daily linked to rheumotoid artheritis in women. Right up there with my favorite Fox news promo BALLOONS: Why are they so DEADLY.
  • Scholarly paper, Themes in Contemporary Analytic Philosophy as Reflected in the Work of Monty Python.
  • A Russian's Unofficial Textbook for beginner in Web-design. I appreciate the heading of its first chapter ("Why do you need a site? No, you donít need it.") ands how it tries to talk people out of starting.
  • I'm not sure what caught my attention about Alfred Edward Housman. Last Poems, IX. Maybe the idea of using the age of 24 as marking the end of the springtime of a lifespan, or maybe the closing line "Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale."
  • For some reason I had a link to the trophies in the game Super Smash Brothers. Little icons you could win for completing certain tasks in this multiplayer "brawler".
  • I'm pretty psyched about the upcoming Tron 2.0...though they used to have a cooler teaser site, but now there's an intersting little interactive screensaver.
  • Trying to find information on how North Dakota would like to drop the word North from its name, I found this Dave Barry piece on it. It looks like they've made the attempt before, in 1947 and then in 1989. "Dakota" is a pretty cool name by itself.
  • A long while back Bill the Splut linked to an article about the stories written by children in homeless shelters. This kids are inventing their own mythologies, it's pretty amazing. And sad and scary in other ways.

(3) rubik robot revenge redux
Yeesh. The latest "EHS alumni" on my guestbook expects to be identified by a "decent or more than decent sense of humor." So after due thought and consideration, I realized I must be getting this mail from... Mr. Jablonski??? Wow! How is it going? How is that leg?

Seriously, I can think of about 5 people at EHS whose sense of humor I admired and even more whose sense of humor met the criteria of "decent", so I'm not going to risk guessing when the odds are so long.

In other self-indulgent news...I always nag Brooke to update the journal on her website (the journal is the "Dramaturg's Note") and finally she did so with this entry (though you can't get to the rest of the journal from there alas.) I think it might be a reaction to me bragging about my site...I do take a pride in making these assemblies on a regular, daily basis. (As opposed to some people who need to be prodded into getting something out once a month...) Thanks Brooke. Your kudos are duly noted.

Link of the Moment
This was making the rounds this summer, but the image that accompanied the article was intermittently disappearing. It's a very impressive Lego Mindstorm's robot that can solve a Rubik's Cube. And it turns out that the creator JP Brown's Serious Lego Site has even more amazing stuff...walkers, pilots, musicians...incredible. I was always lousy at the "Technic" stuff (usually just aspiring to "really cool looking spaceships") and now I feel even worse...

PG13 Quote of the Moment
"You know that old saying 'men don't make passes at girls who wear glasses?' Oh-- ha, ha...most men I know will fuck a tree."
--Diane Ford

KHftCEA 2000-11.2 November

KHftCEA 2000-11.2 November

At a scary company meeting- who's getting the axe- seems like *someone* is though there are some of the more raw programmers here at this meeting.
Oh, the SF office and the non-professional services people mostly, Hmmm.
Once upon a time scientists thought there was "polywater" with different chemical properties than the normal stuff. Bell Labs' Dennis Rousseau wrung his sweaty gym shirt into a glass tube and discovered that his salty, protein-laced sweat had the same properties as polywater.
(from Salon)

< retrospect: 30 nov >