September 19, 2017

About the Juggalos March on Washington. I didn't realize how serious that "they're a gang" label the FBI socked them with was, and how it screws with a lot of lives.

Might as well called The Salvation Army a gang. Or Jehovah's Witnesses - and they're recruiting.
The juxtaposition of some deep and profoundly sad emotion against the semi-technical details of the composition and goals, of making the photographs deliberate... it's a little jarring. It can almost seem a little tawdry, but sometimes making good worthy art – art that measures up to the magnitude of the occasion – can't be left to happenstance.

So many of us have cameras in our pocket now, and many of us our becoming more fluent in a new visual language (usually pretty casual - but with the right filter capable of moments of quick beauty). Maybe we should all take a bit more time to set up some shots of people we love, photos that will tell the story about this time and this place and this person.

September 18, 2017

After a long beautiful 4 gig weekend - Mill City Grows in Lowell, Prospect Hill block party, Boston Makers at the Children's Museum, and the Revels RiverSing parade.

RIP Stanislav Petrov whose profound application of common sense over following official procedure stopped WW3 from being started when some clouds looked like ICBMs to a computer system.
The revenge of bullet time: makes me wish I spoke Russian!


"Amish life is about recognizing the value of agreed-upon limits, and the spirit of the internet cuts against the idea of limits."
--Erik Wesner, blogger of "Amish America", in this NY Times piece on the Amish and technology. I've had a deep respect for the deliberation that the Amish apply in terms of technology, ever since I read Wired's fair-handed treatment of them in 1999.

September 17, 2017ramble

Article on the background of "woke". I hate false symmetries but I've been thinking about some of the parallels with "taking the red pill" and "being woke". I'm wary of most claims of group-cohering revelations and special knowledge, but at least "woke" carries a sense of being aware so you can do your own thinking, whereas red pill draws more of a knowledge injection.

Still love that @mlliondollameat tweet:
wife: go see if the baby sleeping
*walks into baby's room*
baby: corporations exploit our insecurities for profit
me: no babe she woke af

6 Things Juggalo Culture Teaches Us About Trump (Ad-heavy Cracked link, their "Cracked Lite" app might be a better bet)

James Harvey linked to it, focusing on it's thought that ""People tend to interpret bluntness as candor and eloquence as dishonesty". I rambled about the whole "they're stealth Christians" angle that was there for a while but maybe didn't end up really applying (and how easily a group like U2 can mask a Christian heart from me with artistry and simple tricks like a gender swap for the Holy Spirit in "Mysterious Ways" - the Evangelical music I grew up near was pretty damn hamfisted) but then I thought more about the article's point.
This may be disingenuously sophomoric, but I think the "world hates us" perverse pride that powers Juggalos/Deplorables cohesion all comes from the human need to slap value judgements on everything. Things can't just be, or can't just be evaluated and valued for their objective productivity, people are desperate to figure out what the "shoulds" are, and then paint was is overall better and overall worse. (For people who fancy themselves clever it's very easy to conflate intelligence with human worth) So the privileged groups parlay their objective advantages into snobbish looking down at everything, and ICP and Trump is the reaction, like the article sets out.

I guess this is just a goofy pollyanna call for kumbaya, see-the-good-in-everything, but just now I noticed it ties into the idea that everything needs to be measured on many different dimensions but there's a human tendency to smush that into a single dimension of good/bad, or worthy/unworthy, which is one my earliest philosophical / existential morality cornerstones - an idea that's "sophomoric" for me in a very literal, second year at college sense.
Here's a 2004 retelling of that idea history, inspired by "Theory of Multiple Intelligences".

Blender of Love

"Why do we like sports or movies? It's just incredible that a trillion-synapse computer could actually spend Saturday afternoon watching a football game. It's a colossal phenomenon that needs to be explained, and I'm not joking."
--Marvin Minsky

September 16, 2017

The way to approach it, I think, is not to ask, "What would it be like to be black?" but to seriously consider what it is like to be white. That's something white people almost never think about. And what it is like to be white is not to say, "We have to level the playing field," but to acknowledge that not only do white people own the playing field but they have so designated this plot of land as a playing field to begin with. White people are the playing field. The advantage of being white is so extreme, so overwhelming, so immense, that to use the word "advantage" at all is misleading since it implies a kind of parity that simply does not exist.

It is now common -- and I use the word "common" in its every sense -- to see interviews with up-and-coming young movie stars whose parents or even grandparents were themselves movie stars. And when the interviewer asks, "Did you find it an advantage to be the child of a major motion-picture star?" the answer is invariably "Well, it gets you in the door, but after that you've got to perform, you're on your own." This is ludicrous. Getting in the door is pretty much the entire game, especially in movie acting, which is, after all, hardly a profession notable for its rigor. That's how advantageous it is to be white. It's as though all white people were the children of movie stars. Everyone gets in the door and then all you have to do is perform at this relatively minimal level.

Additionally, children of movie stars, like white people, have at -- or actually in -- their fingertips an advantage that is genetic. Because they are literally the progeny of movie stars they look specifically like the movie stars who have preceded them, their parents; they don't have to convince us that they can be movie stars. We take them instantly at face value. Full face value. They look like their parents, whom we already know to be movie stars. White people look like their parents, whom we already know to be in charge. This is what white people look like -- other white people. The owners. The people in charge. That's the advantage of being white. And that's the game. So by the time the white person sees the black person standing next to him at what he thinks is the starting line, the black person should be exhausted from his long and arduous trek to the beginning.
--Fran Lebowitz talking about race in the US in a 1997 Vanity Fair interview

September 15, 2017 This seems like a beautiful concept for a website....

September 14, 2017

HONK! Lifehack (HONK!hack ?) :
On Ebay, for around $35, you can get "Kobo" e-ink readers (like a cheaper form of Kindle) I got one and then dragged every PDF from my band's set of charts onto it from my computer... now I have a full set of emergency sheet music, like we have a new friend join us in rehearsal.

It's klutzy in a lot of ways, but beats trying to juggle lots of folders of printouts.

September 13, 2017

People just can't stop looking at this photo of a cat falling off of a table

Man, that was my first thought too.... Apple's Creepy New Emoji Are a Gateway Drug to Furrydom
And Tim said a really simple sentence to me. He said 'Do you think it's ok to punish people who've done nothing wrong?'
And I said no, even though I kind of felt somewhere in my heart that it was a trick question.
And then he said 'Then why is it ok to reward people who've done nothing right?'
And he said 'Can't you see that you can't reward without punishing, they are the same thing.'
That shut me up for a little while.

--Penn Jillette explaining his turning to libertarianism. There's then a second question about the use of force but I felt this bit alone was containing at two errors, or at least massive presumptions:

One is the ending - reward = punishing, and the assumption that everything in life is a zero-sum game. That's radical overreach.

The second is - here we are, animate matter. ("Lucky me, lucky mud" to quote Vonnegut.) This is one of the most distinct rewards and privileges the universe bestows... and yet, undeserved by me. I guess you could say "well it's a reward for my parent's work in making me" but that leads to an infinite regress. So - it's ok, at least in this universe, because this is what the universe DOES.

So, while there might indeed be legitimate arguments about where to draw the line in what we as a society should do for ourselves via taxes and policing and regulation and collective military defense, I don't think it starts in a "all rewards must be justified by right action" stance.