Kirk Israel's commonplace and blog. Quotes and links daily since 2001.

but damn, back in the day it was so amazing they had ARCADE GAMES and so many of them
Madam Vice-President!
Somehow we weathered and witnessed
A nation that isn't broken
but simply unfinished
There is always light
if only we're brave enough to see it
if only we're brave enough to be it.
Amanda Gorman (via @AyannaPressley)

This is a wake-up call for Republicans. America elected Joe Biden by over 7 million votes, and you're confused because you didn't see us flock to his rallies and cheer his smackdowns like we were at a pro wrestling event during a global pandemic. We don't wear matching hats or have "no more malarkey" flags waving from the backs of our trucks. Do you know why? Because Biden is not our tribal warlord. We believe the job of a U.S. President is to represent more than one interest group. That's why 81 million of us turned out to stop a narcissistic personality cult that embodies all seven of the deadly sins -- most of all pride, which you've taken to levels of blasphemy, claiming your political leaders are handpicked by Jesus Christ.

Review the troops? "Man, these troops are way out of date!"

#1 Google hit for Donald Trump at the moment:

Glory, glory, hallelujah
Teacher hit me with a ruler!
Met her at the bank
With a loaded army tank
And she ain't no teacher no more...
Dumbest song from summer camp that I remember - definitely a relic of a pre-Columbine time (More Info)
January 19, 2021
I just finished reading the sci-fi novel Situation Normal by my friend Leonard Richardson... "The galaxy’s two multi-species superpowers stand on the brink of yet another pointless war, enmeshing ordinary lives in the messy conflict."

This was the first fiction in a while where during the day I was really looking forward to get back to it and see where it goes next. For me the biggest delight is in Leonard's reframing of things I take for granted, either in a character speaking the truth about something or by switching around the context and having the aliens do something parallel to one of our mundane things, letting me the fundamental oddness or arbitrariness of it.
God speaks to con artists because God is a con artist.
"Egenu saying" in Leonard Richardson's "Situation Normal"

Every war in history there's some joker tying it to freedom, and even when it's true, it's a lie.
Leonard Richardson, "Situation Normal"

Providence aligns cause and effect without regard to our feelings.
Leonard Richardson, "Situation Normal"
Leonard sets up several religions in this book, most of which have adherents from across the 20-30 or so types of aliens (including humans)... my conceptual favorite was Hasithenk - the central icon is Merciful Providence shrugging at you, and use cuss phrases like “Oh f***ing coin-flipping Providence”. (Though weirdly, they're one of the more ritual/ceremony heavy groups. I guess that grounds it and makes it less of a "cool and jaded astronaut religion" ala Heinlein...)

Also Leonard is posting author's commentary at his site
trebek: the sound of the front door in your childhood home

the smell of the inside of your father's hat

the part of the roof you could access via the trellis

each family member's distinctive footsteps in the hall

the smell of woodsmoke

contestant: what was lost

Headline whiplash of the moment (via Kaiser Health News)

On Trump's last full day,

:-) :-) :-)

nation records 400,000 COVID deaths

:-O :-O :-O
President Trump's Top 15 Lies. Trump lies about enough small things that it lets him know who will believe him with the big lies.

From Daniel Dale's list:
  1. The most telling lie: It didn't rain on his inauguration
  2. The most dangerous lie: The coronavirus was under control
  3. The most alarming lie saga: Sharpiegate
  4. The most ridiculous subject of a lie: The Boy Scouts
  5. The ugliest smear lie: Rep. Ilhan Omar supports al Qaeda
  6. The most boring serial lie: The trade deficit with China used to be $500 billion
  7. The most entertaining lie shtick: The burly crying men who had never cried before
  8. The most traditional big lie: Trump didn't know about the payment to Stormy Daniels
  9. The biggest lie by omission: Trump ended family separation
  10. The most shameless campaign lie: Biden will destroy protections for pre-existing conditions
  11. The lie he fled: He got Veterans Choice
  12. The Crazy Uncle lie award: Windmill noise causes cancer
  13. The most hucksterish lie: That plan was coming in two weeks
  14. My personal favorite lie: Trump was once named Michigan's Man of the Year
  15. The most depressing lie: Trump won the election
Went for woodsy walks with Jon and Sophie today. Admittedly "Hartwell Town Forest" was less cool than Sandy Pond Trail, but this photo from the former came out well:

TFW you worry you haven't properly appreciated a 3 day weekend because it's Monday evening but it feels like a Sundayless Saturday
January 17, 2021
I've been participating in a FB thread about AI starting with the question, is there a definition of human level intelligence - interestingly half the participants started talking about AI and the other half about animals.

I learned about MuZero, the successor to AlphaZero and AlphaGo. I knew they've been using Atari 2600 programs as readily available programs for evolving and evaluating virtual player / learning algorithms, but it does my heart good to see the phrase "a standard suite of Atari games" (here's one example virtual gameplayer including how it stacks up to humans.)

The thread introduced me to the Specification gaming examples in AI Google Doc, where various programs have found solutions that are "technically correct" (the best, or maybe worst, kind of correct) but exploit bugs in the virtual environment or success criteria.

That doc reminded me of this set of humans thinking outside the box with clever solutions to problems... the fitted sheets with labels specifying top/bottom vs sides was good, also the shovel with small holes to avoid suction for digging in mud. Also "wake me for meals / do not disturb" sleep masks for planes...

And I thought of the thread when I saw this quote:
In a way, human's are the only species to have "evolved backwards". By developing such a complex mind, we create our own problems.
u/mkemp2804 on r/showerthoughts
Obviously a little tongue in cheek, but it covered the domains of animal intelligence and humans looking for AI assistance in their own problem solving pretty well.
Made this with Superniece Cora this morning... turns out her Llamas-in-games comes more from Barbie rather than Jeff Minter...

Scott told me
he never wrote anything
he wouldn't want
everyone to read.

What a good idea,
and that was way
before there was a web.
David Johnson

That was a quote from his page on the early web - early enough that my coworker David could get his first and last name .net: (via the wayback machine)
Bicycling is cool.

I was thinking of putting
some photos here
of my favorite
bike trails.
Wouldn't it be fun to be a bike cop?

You could ride around
with a badge and a gun,
busting punks and degenerates!

Scott told me
he never wrote anything
he wouldn't want
everyone to read.

What a good idea,
and that was way
before there was a web.