| last weeks

March 25, 2017

From BuzzFeed: Trump Got To Sit In A Big Boy Truck Because Today Was A Special Day!

Looks like they're selling physical story books of Trump's big truck day. For a guy so concerned with his tough dude visuals, it's a surprisingly Dukasis-in-a-Tank style scene.

March 24, 2017

The American White Middle Class Dying Faster Explained. It's not happening in other developed countries. We're also further to the right politically than almost all of them. This is not a coincidence.
"I did not acquire the ability to not finish a book until I was 50 years old, which probably has to do with scarcity as a child: You have a book -- finish it!

But I've made a number of decisions since then. If you don't like a book, stop reading it. If you don't like a movie, walk out. Life is not a jail sentence. "
--Fran Lebowitz, in the NY Times interview By the Book

March 23, 2017

"Dolphins are said to sleep with only half of their brain at a time, keeping partially alert for predators. Many of us spend much of our lives in a similar state. "
--James Hamblin, in The Atlantic piece How to Sleep

March 22, 2017

Apartmenter - first draft of a little tool I'm building to arrange the furniture in the place Melissa and I will be moving into. She's moving from a medium-sized space for one person and I'm moving from a large-sized space for two, so getting everything into a medium sized apartment is gonna be tough.

March 21, 2017

"Think about it: Trump hasn't properly executed a handshake with any visiting foreign leaders. Before Trump, none of us had any idea that not being able to do the handshakes was even a thing."
--Dave Pell, This is 37%. I really hope Trump realizes how low his "ratings" are. Sad!

March 20, 2017

Arab atheists, tough road to hoe. A part near the end, saying that for a while Islam didn't have as much of a the science / religion conflict as the Christian West did, reminded me of what I read in Karen Armstrong's works about how Christianity kind of hitched its wagon to science in the 1700s Enlightenment, assumed it would withstand the harshness of skeptical experimental review rather than just being poetically true in broad strokes, but as science moved into different places, some parts of the religion could never get over the need to be factually true, so if you can gin up a reason the Earth is only around 6000 years old, you have to start figuring out why God is burying so many fossils, or permitting the devil to construct such a rich and consistent and wonderfully weird tapestry of the geological and biological history of Earth. (Or, and this is the one that threw me off from my simplistic faith, why a monolithic God lets there be so many other religions around, so many good people so misled.)

March 19, 2017

I felt stressed this morning, juggling thoughts and preparation about moving together with Melissa (things are actually going well there, knock wood we are signing the lease on a terrific place Tuesday or Wednesday but of course planning a move is a walk through a forest of a thousand trees of things that could go wrong and might even be my fault for not being smarter about moving) and a BABAM band gig I was running, our traditional under-rehearsed ad hoc selves playing indoors for change, which somehow feels like it should raise the expectations.

A lot of situations will come up that we find stressful. Some of our emotional responses to those can be so stupid -- to quote Natalie Goldberg, "Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important."

Now, *existentially* she's right (John Maynard Keynes: "But this 'long run' is a misleading guide to current affairs. 'In the long run' we are all dead.") -- but there is a subset of these issues that A we wouldn't have control over even if we were our best selves and B ARE pretty damn important, relative to the group of all concerns we have in this life.

And yet; our stress-tastic emotional responses (at least for the stuff that has now snowballed into a life of its own) are only useful in very small ways, just to the extent they can make us more thoughtful and attentive to preventing those situations, whether we're talking fundamentally life-altering things, such as a break-up, where maybe we can be wiser in how we love, or for the merely transient and infuriating, where maybe an alternate route or departure time would avoid this damn traffic.

But in general, we can rely on the higher, more rational part of our brains for that kind of bad-situation-pre-emption, and the stress just makes us miserable, and often dumber. Like I said at the end of February, whether I'm furious about it and making myself angry or accepting of it, the traffic is still there. So why be furious?

There's a menacing line from some belligerent military group "Don't Run, You'll Only Die Tired". The problems I'm facing now aren't gonna kill me... but even if they are, why should I die tired?

I have this version of my best self walking around, taking situations in hand. Hell, recognizing in a lot of ways I'm doing super well, healthy, sweet girl friend, well-paying job I dig, good friends, meaningful camaraderie and ego-gratifying work in my band music making. Sure I could switch scales and compare to some out there "best case of every scenario" version of life where, I dunno, I'm like a mix of Obama, Steve Jobs, Grace Hopper, Isaac Asimov, and Mr. Rogers, but that life doesn't exist, but the one that does has a lot to say for it.
Quote I was reminded of while writing that: "One ought never to turn one's back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never!"
--Winston Churchill

March 18, 2017

On my Devblog: i want my own website! now what? a guide for friends of kirk and others
RIP Chuck Berry.

(Great song I discovered for myself last month below- bits of it will sound familiar to Beatles fans where Lennon borrowed)

Related: Melissa thinks it's odd that I don't know of a difference in pronounciation of "Berry" "Barry" or even "Bury"... how distinct are they for you?

March 17, 2017

From Barking Up The Wrong Tree (very good weekly email newsletter) 5 Questions That Will Make You Emotionally Strong:

"Can a bat still be brave if he's afraid?" "That is the only time a bat can be brave."
"Today is the 17th day of the third month of the 17th year of the third Millenium"

March 16, 2017

I have such ambivalence about video games.

This article might exaggerate the scale of people, especially young ones, switching to a virtual world for comfort, but maybe not.

It's crazy at how coddling single player games have become. They really want you to succeed, but feel you've accomplished something. You used to maybe need a map (heh, I think about how I never would have gotten through Metroid on NES without that player's guide map, and guidebooks were a mainstay for me in big N64 and GC games) but now that's all baked into the game. Any mission failure is immediately handled another chance, it's barely a setback, and maybe they'll quietly knock the difficulty down a few notches for you. It used to be you'd think you could get good at something, gaining skills 'til you could "beat the mission", but now it's so quick to retry and retry that sometimes you're just playing the odds.

I suppose that's less true for the online multiplayer stuff. I've always shunned that, but maybe mostly it's too bruising for my ego to get my butt handed to me by "that 12 year old who can spend all his time playing the damn thing". I guess I'm kind of amazed multiplayer avoids that, or succeeds despite that effect... I guess it's through careful tourneying, group you with like-skilled opponents?

It's such an odd blending of factors for me: fixed mindset, the desire to see a new microcosm, empowerment fantasies, fun visceral physics engines... what hardware I've favored, disliking sheer "make the number go higher" games, dabbling in creating my own tiny games, really missing having 4 or 5 people over for a round of "couch" nintendo games...

At one point I was sure that games were a good path to creating in digital media for kids, now I have my doubts. For one thing, the triple-A titles you can play are so far beyond what you can generally make. (I should keep my eyes open for tools that allow playfulness in 3D, for a start) For another, they seem to have evolved into a human-attention sucking rabbit hole - I mean they always kind of have been, but the evolution has made them that much more potent.

March 15, 2017

From the NY Historical Society blog piece about a trend to get one's SSN tattoo'd-

what a look this guy has! And that long-limbed gal behind...

March 14, 2017

--"Sticky" note I typed out at about 2 or 3 AM this morning. I was having some kind of dream about making robots. I remember lying awake a few minutes trying to figure out if electronics was organic chemistry, and programming neurobiology, or what. (I think "O-Chem" the midwestern term, vs "Orgo" which is what they called it at my school. Like with "Pop" vs "Soda", the midwest has the objectively better word.)

"Mario has a thick stache (Groucho), speaks with an outrageous Italian accent (Chico), but actually doesn't speak (Harpo) because he's just a blank slate for the audience (Zeppo)."
--Nick Bensema

March 13, 2017

Selections from Neil Gaiman's "Norse Mythology":

Loki makes the world more interesting but less safe.
Thor said nothing. He strapped on his belt of power, Megingjord, which doubled his enormous strength.
"Loki," he said. "Loki has done this."
"Why do you say that ?" said Sif, touching her bald head frantically, as if the fluttering touch of her fingers would make her hair return.
"Because," said Thor, "when something goes wrong, the first thing I always think is, it is Loki's fault. It saves a lot of time."
In their huge bedroom that night, Tyr said to Thor, "I hope you know what you are doing."
"Of course I do," said Thor. But he didn't. He was just doing whatever he felt like doing. That was what Thor did best.
Nothing there is that does not love the sun.
"I can see further than you can, Loki. I can see all the way to the world - tree," Heimdall will tell him with his last breath. "Surtr's fire cannot touch the world - tree, and two people have hidden themselves safely in the trunk of Yggdrasil. The woman is called Life, the man is called Life's Yearning. Their descendants will populate the earth. It is not the end. There is no end. It is simply the end of the old times, Loki, and the beginning of the new times. Rebirth always follows death. You have failed."

March 12, 2017

A few panoramic shots I might (or might not have?) missed from the Malaysia trip Melissa and I took last November.
All 3 are from KL, the first two from the KL, the last from my cousin's apartment building.

Somehow it bums me out that I can't just watch TV and make good progress against my todo list.
Also: any advice for apartment hunting? Melissa and I are thinking about moving in this summer. I figure Craigs List has kind of degenerated a bit... I feel like I've had better luck with independent agencies but I don't have all that much experience with it.