November 23, 2017

On the brilliantly funny "My Dad Wrote a Porno" Alice Levine used the phrase "as mad as a box of frogs!". What a delightful bit of mental imagery!

November 22, 2017

Audiobooking (what's the audiobook equivalent of "reading"? "Listening to" is clutzy, with "reading" you don't really have to specify it's a book...) Joey Comeau's "Malagesh". It's about a young hacker gal preparing for her father's imminent death, and one night they have a "final movie night"- the father's favorite movie is "Harvey" and so that's what they watch.

My mom says my dad wasn't much of a movie goer. But it also strikes me that before the 80s or so, and the rise of the VCR - it would be much harder to have a favorite movie, or at least one that you could watch and watch again.

That must be a part of how movies that got regular network television play - Miracle on 34th St, Wizard of Oz (I think) loomed so large over the popculture landscape.

November 21, 2017

Is this a narcissist/psychopath thing, or?

November 20, 2017

There was a lot I learned from my estranged discussion partner EB. One point of emphasis he made in terms of personal development was the importance of muscle memory, of extreme repetition until the conscious act becomes unconscious. One example he liked was the book "Zen in the Art of Archery" where the student rehearses the same motions again and again and again over months, just the most basic part of correct form, like drawing the string without releasing it, in painstaking detail. Examples of that kind of learning in life are hard to come by.

When my Aunt Susan visited last week and she and Melissa and I picked up my family's traditional pastime of Dr. Mario - or specifically as I tried to describe techniques and things to watch to Melissa who is new to the game and playing with a giant handicap - it hit me that Dr. Mario has some of that. I have distant, decade-old memories of what the game used to feel like: epic struggles, and I even have shadow-memories (or more exactly, meta-memories) of specific in-game board situations, like say where I was feverishly trying to deal with two situations on either side of a block tower, or had to build way up to some junk above when there was no room to slide pieces over it as they fell. Now everything is very business-like, and while I can generally give voice to the rationales for my various little techniques (especially "piece diversity", where you try to keep the top of your piles well-mixed so that every 2-color falling pill has a place to go) most of it is well ingrained and under my fingers, even though some attention is still needed to play well, and if I get frustrated with losing I usually have a higher gear of focus I can engage.

I suppose I have some of the same with performing music, but only at low levels. If my facilities start to decline thanks to age and alzheimer's, I suspect one of the last things to go will be the pattern for playing a basic scale on a brass instrument:
Open, 1-3, 1-2, 1, Open, 1-2, 2, Open.
And I suppose pro musicians who've all done a MUCH better job of practicing than I have have more fully internalized much deeper musical concepts and tropes.

There are probably broad patterns to programming that are the same way, even though I feel like I'm more reliant on quick-lookups for specific function names than ever.

Of course, "Zen and the Art of Archery" also emphasizes intense repetition under the guidance of a master teacher. I suppose that's to mitigate the risk many of these pursuits share, where you might just end up deeply engraving how to do the thing suboptimally. There are even fewer examples of that in my life, I'd say. In part, it's a weird matter of faith - how do you know someone is that kind of expert? Not just an expert at the skill, but also in the pedagogy to get other people there? Between healthy skepticism and less healthy pride and ego, it's tough to find...

November 19, 2017

Trying to declutter but Marie Kondo is too pile-centric or mumbo-jumbo-y? Arrange all your possessions in a long straight line ordered by how much you want each item, make a perpendicular line at the cut off point, and discard everything to left. DONE AND DUSTED.(Note, you may still have to dust, especially around those shelves where the cluttering items used to sit.)

November 18, 2017

Counterprotesters bring music. They chant "No Trump! No KKK! No Fascist USA!" --@lauracrimaldi

Backing up Refuse Fascism and supporting Black Lives Matter...
While writing a devblog article about a little mp3 I made and named to be first in my song collection (so when a podcast or audiobook ends I hear it, rather than Jackson 5's first rate song (and not just alphabetically) "A.B.C.", I realize I was willing to come around and accept the pedantically incorrect use of "it begs the question".

Everyone draws the prescriptivist/descriptivist line just about where some quirk annoys them personally. "Begs the question" was my line, but justified because I think "make a query while presuming some other question has already been settled" is a useful concept. (Rhetorically it's useful to be able to spot when that has happened.)

But "begs the question" in the sense of "demands that we ask this other question" is a useful concept too, I guess, and full of a kind of drama. It's also kind of a superset of the original meaning.

November 17, 2017

Sam Harris:
The truth is none of us know how much time we have in this life.

And taking that fact to heart brings a kind of moral and emotional clarity and energy to the present. Or at least it can.

And it can bring a resolve to not suffer over stupid things.

I mean take something like "road rage". This is probably the quintessential example of misspent energy. You're behind the wheel of your car, and somebody does something erratic, or they're probably just driving more slowly than you want. And you find yourself getting angry. Now I would submit to you that that kind of thing is impossible if you're being mindful of the shortness of life. If you're aware that you are going to die, and that the other person is going to die, and that you're both going to lose everyone you love and you don't know when... you've got THIS moment of life, this beautiful moment, this moment where your consciousness is bright, it's not dimmed by morphine in the hospital on your last day among the living. And the sun is out, or it's raining- both are beautiful. And your spouse is alive, and your children are alive, and you're driving. And you're not in some failed state where civilians are being rounded up and murdered by the thousands. You're just running an errand. And that person in front of you, who you will never meet, whose hopes and sorrows you know nothing about but which if you COULD know them you would recognize are impressively similar to your own - is just driving slow.

This is your life. The only one you've got. And you will never get this moment back again. And you don't know how many more moments you have. No matter how many times you do something, there will come a day when you do it for the last time. You've had a thousand chances to tell the people closest to you that you love them in a way that they FEEL it, and in a way that YOU feel it. And you've missed most of them. And you don't know how many more you're going to get. You've got this next interaction with another human being to make the world a marginally better place, you've got this one opportunity to fall in love with existence, so why not relax and enjoy your life? REALLY relax. Even in the midst of struggle. Even while doing hard work. Even under uncertainty.

You are in a game right now, and you can't see the clock, so you don't know how much time you have left. And yet you're free to make the game as interesting as possible; you can even change the rules, you can discover new games that no one has thought of yet. You can make games that used to be impossible suddenly possible and get others to play them with you. You can literally build a rocket to go to Mars so that you can start a colony there. I actually know people who will spend some part of today doing that. But whatever you do, however seemingly ordinary, you can feel the preciousness of life. And an awareness of death is the door into that way of being in the world.
--Sam Harris, from the introduction to his podcast discussion with Frank Ostaseski, a Zen Hospice pioneer - to complete the plug "And there are very people more aware of death and the lessons it has to teach us than my guest today. Today I'm speaking to Frank Ostaseski..." - the podcast is a good listen.

U.S. Navy Is Very Sorry That Their Pilot Drew A Dong In The Sky. This is powerful shamanic magic.
I plan to take solace in how when our acrobatic robotic overlords come to take over, their boxes will say "Boston Dynamics" WOOOO BOSTON!!!!