| last weeks

October 26, 2016

"Was the switch to direct public nomination a net benefit or drawback? The answer to that question is subjective. But one effect is not in doubt: Institutionalists have less power than ever before to protect loyalists who play well with other politicians, or who take a tough congressional vote for the team, or who dare to cross single-issue voters and interests; and they have little capacity to fend off insurgents who owe nothing to anybody. Walled safely inside their gerrymandered districts, incumbents are insulated from general-election challenges that might pull them toward the political center, but they are perpetually vulnerable to primary challenges from extremists who pull them toward the fringes. Everyone worries about being the next Eric Cantor, the Republican House majority leader who, in a shocking upset, lost to an unknown Tea Partier in his 2014 primary. Legislators are scared of voting for anything that might increase the odds of a primary challenge, which is one reason it is so hard to raise the debt limit or pass a budget."
--Jonathan Rauch in the Atlantic's How American Politics Went Insane. Sometimes it's tough to respect some of the early Founder's fears about "King Mob" without sounding like an elitist jerk, but for a guy with some "Extremist Moderate" impulses like me, it's tough to like such local politics.
This is a pretty good summary of the narrator Robert P. Jones' book "The End of White Christian America" that I recently read.

I think it's easy for lefties to demonize "White Christian America" in the same way the right tends to over-idealize it. There are some very good qualities to it, and as a nation we need to find a moral center, one that doesn't presume a skin color or belief in a particular supernatural explanation for the universe and to back its sense of morality.
Continuing today's theme of trying to understand American politics, and even with empathy to the "other side": What a liberal sociologist learned from spending five years in Trump's America

These Louisianans are so convinced that government is the problem - their environment gets racked and ruined but government environmental regulation must be worse. Many rely on governmental assistance, but for them government is still the problem.

October 25, 2016

"Happiness is a skill. Skills must be learned."
--Matthieu Ricard
"Happiness is a skill. But cookies come pre-packaged as cookie dough in various flavors with easy-to-follow instructions."
--Elio Maggini

October 24, 2016

"Reddit user Noerdy rearranged leaves around the base of a tree in order to make it appear to be glowing."

On the fourth floor tower two trophy cases--each empty. Doesn't Barron at least have a snow globe collection that he could stick in one of these? There's another case on the fifth floor that showcases a perfectly lit....nothing. Seriously, this building is like a giant metaphor museum.
--Nell Scovell visits the startlingly decrepit Trump Tower
Harvard Square classic Cafe Algiers closing forever Sunday after abrupt announcement
Well, that sucks. Bright side: room for more ATMs and maybe another CVS? Viva Harvard Square.

October 23, 2016

Online I found a cleaner version of a cartoon I clipped from the March 20 2000 New Yorker...

October 22, 2016

via slate:
"Look at those teeth. The downturned lips. The clenching of his jaw and the rage in his stubby fingers as he rips that piece of paper out of his legal pad."
"An artist should play with your paint, be happy over it, [and] sing at your work.""
--William Merritt Chase, from the current MFA show

October 21, 2016

She is a treasure.


October 20, 2016

A while back Winnie Gong sketched me as the mythical Unicorn full-stack developer...

October 19, 2016

"Conservatism never fails. It is only failed."
--Rick Perstein explaining how any failure by a conservative is always reframed as "they weren't conservative enough." (from Slate's Conservatism Never Fails: How the GOP Will Explain Away Trump’s Disastrous Campaign)
New poll: Agree personally immoral politicians can still fulfill duties.
White evangelicals:
2011: 30%
Now: 72%
(summary via this tweet - larger source cited is this page )


Frickin' hypocrites.

October 18, 2016

Had a small shindig, an unbirthday-ish thing... Melissa bought Pac-Man cupcakes which Chasity + Karen's lil girl Cora seemed to dig very much

photo by Rebekah
Amused that Wendy's is hyping the return of the Taco Salad. It (or possibly its near descendent, the "Baja Salad" that added a dollop of guac) and atomic fireballs were at the heart of one of my best weight drops, 15lbs in 6 months in 2012 - the chili made it really satiating. I was surprised when I went back to Wendy's last year and it was off the menu.

Now I'm all about Sweetgreen and sometimes Panera, but when the Wendy's what was on the block at work, the Wendy's is what I got.
Here's a post I made on the JP Honkband Page on FB:
WE WANT CANDY!!! We're gonna revamp this song for our Halloween Gig on Dunster Road, but lets give it some sweeter lyrics... Here's some verses:

I want candy, that is the truth-
Butterfinger, Twix, or Baby Ruth
Candy that can make my day,
Twizzlers, Rolos, Milky Way

(I Want Candy / I Want Candy / I Want Candy / I Want Candy)

Pop-rocks, they are so bizarre
So break me offa piece of that Kit-Kat Bar!
Packed with Peanuts, Snicker Satisfies -
But why you call one inch "fun size"?

(I Want Candy / I Want Candy / I Want Candy / I Want Candy)

M+Ms or Reeses? I can't choose!
So maybe go for Charleston Chews --
But you know you better sign a waiver
If you try to give me that NECCO wafer

Wanna suggest a verse? Here are some well known names we didn't use:

Wrigley's Gum, 3 Musketeers, Almond Joy, Hubba Bubba, Skittles, Reese Peanut Butter Cup, Hershey's Kisses, Bit O Honey, Caramello, Hershey's Bar, Milk Dud, Sweettarts, 100 Grand, 5th Avenue, Chunky, Clark Bar, Heath Bar Crunch, Krackel, Mars Bar, Mounds, Mr. Goodbar, Nestle Crunch, Nestle Milk Chocolate, Nutrageous, Oh Henry!, PayDay, Toblerone, Whatchamacallit

October 17, 2016

Dream Thought: With great power comes great responsibility, but considering my main power is flaring my nostrils at will vs inhaling them closed...
"[face pressed against the glass case in the butcher shop] This is a bad zoo"
"After the Titanic sank, rich people got their revenge by spending the last hundred years melting all the icebergs."
In Search of Basho is an intriguing webcomic- sort of Maus meets A Softer World -- they just posted a guest post they asked me to write for them:

In 2000 I had some terrible anxiety about the prospect of dying. I did a lot of thinking, talking with people, and reading, and I came up with some ideas that I found helpful and soothing and consoling – so much so that I haven’t had a recurrence of those sleepless nights since.

I put those thoughts in the form of little essays on a website. More recently I put those essays in the form of a comic (you can see the rough original version at or the result after I hired a real artist to draw it at

I put these ideas in comic form in the hope of reaching people who have similar fears.

Now, I have a new idea, and I’m planning a new comic.

But I’ll tell you that idea now. Its formulation comes from Nietzsche, of all people, and he calls it amor fati, the instruction to “Love Your Fate”. He wrote:

My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it—all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary—but love it.

But why should we love fate? I mean, sometimes our situation kind of stinks, doesn’t it?

Is it searching for silver linings to whatever dark clouds? That’s part of it. There’s almost always something wonderful to be found in any circumstance we find ourselves in. If nothing else, we have the rare privilege of being “sitting-up mud”, the small bit of matter in the Universe that gets to bear witness, to be part of the process of the Universe figuring itself out.

Is it because we might as well choose to be happy, at least as much as we are able to make that as a choice? Sure; feelings of love can increase our happiness, and so the more we can get there, the more content we can be.

But more than those, I think we should love THIS fate because it is THE fate. The Circumstance. There is no other. Our monkey brains will make us miserable thinking of alternate realities; maybe worlds just like this one but THIS STUPID TRAFFIC IS MOVING!!! Or one like this one but where we didn’t just slam our toe into the bedpost. Or one where the beloved didn’t get away, or where our job pays 50% more and has half as much work. 

All of these worlds, these fates, these circumstances, these timelines, can be interesting to think about, and maybe even inform our present choices as we look to our future creature comforts but… they don’t exist. Our past is fixed; we are here, and it is now. If we can love this moment, we will be better people. It is one of the best philosophical practices I can think of.

Tomorrow I’ll be adding a rough paraphrase of this philosophy (loosely translating “AMOR FATI” as “THIS FATE” - I feel more true to myself sticking with the one language I know) to the one small tattoo I already have. I want this message to be part of my bodily self.

October 16, 2016

Three photos (from School of Honk's trip to Georges Island) by drummer Lilia Volodina

I love the sky in the first one.

October 15, 2016

I admit I was bummed Toyota was given up on its youth-oriented "Scion" marque, especially since my beloved '04 Scion xA is still doing pretty well. And now, when the Trump "brand" has become so tarnished that his kids aren't going to use it for the branding of a new batch of hotels, that's the name they chose to use, "Scion"? Very mixed feelings :-D

October 14, 2016

<3 Carrie Fisher - this GIF set of an interview with her is gold. Loved her writing ever since this diary entry as she wrestled with a crush on Harrison Ford (and who wouldn't crush out on Harrison Ford)
"I've got to stop getting obsessed with human beings and fall in love with a chair. Chairs have everything human beings have to offer, and less, which is obviously what I need. Less emotional and intellectual feedback, less warmth, less approval, less patience and less response. The less the merrier. Chairs it is. I must furnish my heart with feelings for furniture."

Wow, Spy Pond is less than a mile from me. SPOILER: it ends up ok-ish.

UNEDITED: Bystanders rush to help woman after she accidentally drove vehicle into Spy Pond in Arlington Description from John Guilfoil Public Relations on Vimeo.

October 13, 2016

devgeeks, Is the ratio of care and feeding and general fragility of tests and QA environments to the actual code always much, much greater than one, or have I just been unlucky?