simple as do re mi

(15 comments)
November 1, 2008

So one of my playlists is called "Psyched", and its meant to be music that's energizing to work to.

Some of the songs aren't necessarily that fast but they have a certain feel... I thought of it in terms and invoking this certain kind of dance, and only recently did I realize that the dance I was thinking of was Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith in the original movie Clerks:



Looking for that, I found the 1 2 3, A B C dance number from Clerks 2... man, that song has it all-- (beides some raw PG13 language etc), pretty gal bopping along in a tank top, individuals gettin' into the groove, extended version of the song w/ a nice drumbreak, big bollywood/Drew Carey show group dancing, terrific punch line. 2 thumbs up.

Article of the Moment
Why Zen Software Design Does Not Come From Japan. While I kind of dislike the facile "UI elegance and minimalism = ZEN!" bit, the insights as to how Japanese cellphones are bullet-point-based, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink, minimalism is for old art was intriguing. I wish that I didn't get the feeling Windows Vista was heading the same way. (I started a thread on slashdot about Windows Vista, and how things stack up against OSX, etc etc that I think got fairly good, at least for people interested in the topic.)


"Davis Square: the Paris of the 90s". Heh.

a group of people who miss the same imaginary place

(13 comments)
November 2, 2008

Push them clocks. Bleh, 2PM already has that late afternoon look.

Movie Dialog of the Moment
"You know that point in your life when you realize that the house that you grew up in isn't really your home anymore? All of the sudden even though you have some place where you can put your stuff that idea of home is gone."
"I still feel at home in my house."
"You'll see when you move out it just sort of happens one day one day and it's just gone. And you can never get it back. It's like you get homesick for a place that doesn't exist. I mean it's like this rite of passage, you know. You won't have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it's like a cycle or something. I miss the idea of it. Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place."
--from "Garden State" -- a bit emo, but a well-stated thought. Via this New Yorker piece on CliffyB, designer of the Gears of War series of videogames (the one that had all the commercial w/ all the running and shooting but with the emo "Mad World" cover

Pointless Video of the Moment

--I just noticed that Youtube exists, which it didn't when I made this "art" piece six and a half(!!!) years ago. I took a video with my camera then, which I can post now.

For another, utterly different video, funny but about as obscene as you can get without showing naughty bits (though I think it is from a TV-14 rated program) click here.



Boston Globe Parade magazine's feature contrasting McCain vs Obama's positions point by point reads a bit like Goofus vs Gallant.
must find... superhuman resolve... make apartment presentable... resist urge to watch football and youtube videos and nap... all afternoon-

a group of people who miss the same imaginary place

(13 comments)
November 2, 2008

Push them clocks. Bleh, 2PM already has that late afternoon look.

Movie Dialog of the Moment
"You know that point in your life when you realize that the house that you grew up in isn't really your home anymore? All of the sudden even though you have some place where you can put your stuff that idea of home is gone."
"I still feel at home in my house."
"You'll see when you move out it just sort of happens one day one day and it's just gone. And you can never get it back. It's like you get homesick for a place that doesn't exist. I mean it's like this rite of passage, you know. You won't have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it's like a cycle or something. I miss the idea of it. Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place."
--from "Garden State" -- a bit emo, but a well-stated thought. Via this New Yorker piece on CliffyB, designer of the Gears of War series of videogames (the one that had all the commercial w/ all the running and shooting but with the emo "Mad World" cover

Pointless Video of the Moment

--I just noticed that Youtube exists, which it didn't when I made this "art" piece six and a half(!!!) years ago. I took a video with my camera then, which I can post now.

For another, utterly different video, funny but about as obscene as you can get without showing naughty bits (though I think it is from a TV-14 rated program) click here.



Boston Globe Parade magazine's feature contrasting McCain vs Obama's positions point by point reads a bit like Goofus vs Gallant.
must find... superhuman resolve... make apartment presentable... resist urge to watch football and youtube videos and nap... all afternoon-

pumpkin pimpin'photos

(17 comments)
November 3, 2008

So Obama spent $3-$4 million on that infomercial... to me that seems pretty cheap, able to create such a media event at the price of, say, 30-50 good urban annual salaries. (Not to mention, a tiny fraction of the bailouts we're all going to be a part of.) Which tells me, I have a very poor intuition about high finance. How does any company manage to employ anybody? I just can't grasp the scale involved -- even a figure as "humble" as the population of the USA -- 300 million and change -- is really beyond my ken. (Ever see that book with a thousand pages of a thousand dots, with certain milestone dots labeled, ala Guinness book of world records?)

Photos of the Moment
I always thought pigeons had a certain dignity, or at least can fake it a bit. Also, they look huge.

The wide mouth pumpkin loses structural integrity more quickly than it's minimalist "astronaut" counterpart. My Aunt claims 3 times she had the dialog "what's that top one supposed to be?" "It's a spaceman!" "...Oh, OK... I can see it... sort of". My Uncle points out that the bottom one now is a pretty decent likeness of Senator McCain.

Miller had a Halloween Party at my old apartment!

Tedd was Gulliver Unbound, little plastic Lilliputians dangling from the ropes. I tried to get a Lilliputian-eye view for this shot.


Ariana (inadvertantly?) re-enacting part of the poster for "Wicked".


Thanks to the diligent efforts of Rhys, this party had pumpkins too! Small ones... Rhys accused me of remaking my previous pumpkin (sixth from the left, to the right of the dark one). I also tried to make an Alien Bill-o-Lantern (second from left) going so far as to adding his running arms with some pumpkin scraps attached with skewers. Unfortunately, it ended up more like meatwad from Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

Politics of the Moment
Slate was writing about both campaigns lawyering up and mentioned the "Brooks Brother Riot... I hadn't heard much about these wacky out of town Republicans that effectively managed to shout out the Miami-Dade recount in 2000 which in turn gave rise to the SCotUS stopping all recounts. Scary how much our republic was changed by this pitch fork and torches style management! (Like Marge Simspon says: "I guess one person can make a difference. But most of the time, they probably shouldn't.")


Obama's infomercial was $3-$4million. Doesn't seem like all that much, like vs. real estate, and to get to talk to everyone nationwide...
Brazilian coworker mentioned that they'll say "he eats like an ostrich" to mean "he'll eat anything, indiscriminately". Interesting ref.
Also: Brazilians don't have iced coffee.

vote baby vote

(7 comments)
November 4, 2008


Decluttering is so tough, convincing myself that life without 2 pairs of (unused) Nintendo DK Bongo Drums is just about as good as with.
I'm kind of morally opposed to "Guess What I Mean" UI, but being able to just type "amazon mp3" in Firefox and get there is kinda nice.
SNL is giving me that weird "I'm not sure if this is a parody or a real ad" vibe. I was hoping the Rev. Wright ad was a joke. Pathetic
loresjoberg I just Saved the Drama for Obama. Boston's Ward 10 is a bit of a mess though.
In Boston Ward 10, I could vote for the usual odd lot for prez, a rep. for senator, a socialist for city council, and Any Democrat I Liked.
SpindleyQ Argh, that's exactly the kind of thing why I'd have doubts if I got rid of them!
Odd exit poll question: how many of (Gore'00,Bush'04,McCain'08) did I vote for? Guess they're tracking incumbent party, but it seems weird.
Jeez, how many times have I reloaded CNN.com today just to see a meaningless: 0% for Obama, 0% for McCain graphic?

OBAMA LAMA DING DONG

(5 comments)
November 5, 2008

So, I had a pretty great time last night at FoSO's... eight of us watching CNN in HD on their massive projector screen (which made the weird CNN Star Wars hologram stuff even weirder), and a bit of Comedy Central, chips and this AMAZING guacamole, and some Indian takeout, a touch o' the creamy fat boozy goodness of Bailey's on ice, a few of us on laptops, with Jen closely watching the meta-results, giving us the low-down on what news agencies were calling what state for whom and when. And then, a bit o' champagne. Not a bad way to welcome an important milestone in race relationships, and hopefully a turned corner in the political situation.

Some of my friends are less sanguine about Obama, and posted a link to this article painting Obama as a Marxist. This was my response...

That article is almost histrionic.

By global standards, both Dems and Reps are strongly right leaning. We don't know from "Marxists". Seriously, it's hard to see that claim made with a straight face-- he might be more socialist leaning, but by my reckoning that's a far cry from "Marxist".

The Democrats put forward a figure who managed to be simultaneously able of inspiring huge masses of people and of demonstrating a calm, technocratic approach to solving the huge problems we find ourselves saddled with. That is amazing.

"Although I did not vote for Obama and do not understand why anyone would�even if one did not care much for McCain"

Well, you could argue that Bush defeated McCain twice... one by being a ruthless campaigner, and then by being a terrible president.

I think the tremendous success the Democrats saw last night is a repudiation of the NeoCon big stick agenda and the Republican support for "We can trust these guys to regulate *themselves*" Greenspanism.

I now dislike the LDS more than ever. You know, for a people who had to flee to the wilderness in part because of how they wanted to arrange their non-traditional marriages, they're terrible, terrible blowhards in this California gay marriage thing, and I have less respect for their church organization than ever.
Quip of the Moment
It's not just Bush. Palin taxed the crap out of oil companies in Alaska and redistributed the wealth in the form of checks to all Alaskans including herself. Clearly she's a Neiman-Marxist.
--OutSourcingIsTreason on slashdot.

Optimism of a Recent Moment
Before the election Marc Armbinder reposted Rick Davis' memo explaining the optimism the McCain campaign had then, though adding thoughts why even then he thought the hope was unfounded. Still, I find it an interesting study in how situations can spun and how to generate cotton candy hope from ephemeral tubs of airblown sugar.

More Politics of the Moment
Slate was having some Conservatives wondering what should the Republicans do now. (To which my answer is crawl in hole and think for a few decades about what they've done, and preferably stop mixing up their social conservatism and fiscal conservatism in one unholy mess.) But Jim Manzi said, in part, this:
We need, at least initially, competition for students among public schools in which funding moves with students and in which schools are far freer to change how they operate.
and then later
The role of the federal government could be limited but crucial. Suppose it established a comprehensive national exam by grade level to be administered by all schools and universities that receive any federal money and required each school to publish all results, along with other detailed data about school budgets, performance, and so forth each year.
I guess he hasn't heard about the dangers of "teaching to the test", and doesn't recognize the contradiction, or at least extreme tension, between these two parts of his suggestions.


Kind of weird how CNN's giant screen has other channels showing above it. "Reminder: you could be watching Family Guy"
#current why did Colbert have a cockatoo on his shoulder?
Election HQ for me now; 8 friends, 3 laptops, 1 projector alternating between CNN and Comedy Central, Indian Food, champagne at the ready
Man, I hate facebook comments showing some of my buddies ain't in my political camp.
"I like that the camera is panning back to get some imaginary shit in the frame" --Kate on the CNN pseudo-holograms
Palin's earrings are clip-ons?
Least favorite phrases from this campaign: "in the tank" and "our treasure"
Gah, certain fringe folk going "Obama is not my president", blah blah. But fringe liberals did the same thing previously. MODERATION PEOPLE!
California's "simple majority to mangle constitution" rule is frickin' nuts. A pox on them and the LDS "pray away the gay" efforts.

you shouldn't let poets lie to you

(6 comments)
November 6, 2008

This has been an enormously long week.

Loveliness of the Moment
And this beautiful television has put me, like I said before, in all sorts of situations. I remember being very scared to it because an Icelandic poet told me that, not like in cinemas where the thing... that throws the picture from it just sends lights on the screen, but this is different. This is millions and millions of little screens who send light, some sort of electrical light, I'm not really sure... but because there's so many of them, and in fact you're watching very very many thing when you're watching TV. Your head is very busy all the time to calculate and put it all together into one picture. And then, because you're so busy doing that, you don't watch very carefully what the program that you're watching is really about, so you become hypnotized. So all that's on TV goes directly into your brain and you stop judging if it's right or not so we just swallow and swallow. This is what an Icelandic poet told me once, and I became so scared to television that I always got headaches when I watched it. But then later on, when I got my Danish book on television, I stopped being afraid because I read the truth. And that's the scientifical truth, which is much better. You shouldn't let poets lie to you.
--Björk, transcribed from this video

Animated GIF of the Moment
--an oldie but a goodie! There is something mystical and terrific about Björk.



The dotcom boom and the Clinton era were around the same time but the latter seems much further back.
Need some fanfic where all the whitehouse pets at their prime (millie, socks, obama's puppy, etc) fight it out in a fighting bracket tourney
SO tired of "Guess What I Mean" User Interface. Outlook: when I copy an email address, don't copy *just* the name. BROKEN A-HOLE UI DESIGN!
mattdunn I'd be more impressed by rhythmbox if soundcard setup on my Linux work PC wouldn't have been a huge research project. Screw it!
Huh, googling on the Palm/iPhone link, the iPhone's CPU specs etc were less impressive than I had guessed. They do a lot with a little.
"You shouldn't let poets lie to you." --Bjork
ducking back on the e line, first time I find a train driver REALLY bitchy about the white line ("side door please!!")

you down wit' entropy?

(1 comment)
November 7, 2008

So like I twittered last night, I went on a small Amazon MP3 binge last night. I bought two covers of "Forever Young" (by Interactive and Ella), two covers of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" (Europop by Jan Wayne + Lena, and a softer live version by Tori Amos), some nerdcore (2 by MC Hawking and one by mc chris, but really I bought that to morally justify ripping "Fett's Vette" from youtube.)

The big find for me was the cover of "Money" by "Flying Lizards" - the super harsh one with the disinterested-and-germanic-sounding woman speaking her lines. I could have sworn I tried to hunt it down before but came up empty, but now I found it on both youtube and Amazon.

All that eclectic stuff for about $9, less than the cost of most new CDs. It is such a great way of buying music; I don't want to steal songs, I think musicians (and, yeah, even the companies that helped bring them to prominence) deserve renumeration -- but having lived through the glory days of Napster, and now finding a surprising number of songs on youtube, I am fussy about not having to pay for 10 songs on a disc when I'll like maybe 2 or 3. Plus, a while back I brought in a lot of change to one of those coinstar machines, and took out the money as an Amazon gift certificate which I've been gradually draining, so I can coast and really use Amazon's 1 click purchase stuff without sweating payment.

Video of the Moment

--One of those MC Hawking songs I mentioned -- maybe you have to dig the old OPP, but this is really funny. And the video is terrific in a America's Funniest kind of way.

Political Comment of the Moment
"What was missing was a regulator who understood markets, rather than worshiped them."
--Norris on Greenspan


Damn but I love Amazon MP3. 99 cent, DRM-free tracks are exactly what I want; I don't want to steal, I don't want to pay for B-side filler
(But it's useful to know how to rip songs outta youtube... for a while I thought I had to do that for the Flying Lizard's cover of "Money")
Crap, I just noticed Google doesn't seem to be indexing my whole site anymore, despite the nice static URLs I made for its archive.

the weekend!

(2 comments)
November 8, 2008

THE WEEK SHE IS ENDED! At last! (Though on principle I kind of like when time seems to take its sweet time... uh... wait, that doesn't sound quite right.)

Map of the Moment

--2008 Presidential results by state, adjusted for population. From this page of results, which includes further breakdown by county and with red-blue balance purpley blurs. (Also has a link to the 2004 breakdown

Quote of the Moment
"Lonely men seek companionship. Lonely women sit at home and wait. They never meet."
--Attributed to Abraham Lincoln. But now there's the Internets!...sigh.

no love in an elevator

(5 comments)
November 9, 2008

It's kind of ridiculously shallow-sounding , but I still get little moments of "jeez, this thing is SO FRICKIN' COOL" about my iPhone.

I've been thinking about the transition from Palm to iPhone. I found this post mentioning developers griping over the unit being "single tasking" for apps, like the old Palm was... I joined in with how the "home menu" with all the launcher icons was straight from Palm, with a number of small improvements.

The thing is just like the those computer screens and tricorders from Star Trek: The Next Generation (and did you realize there are whole websites devoted to making things look like LCARS, the name for that look-and-feel?) But I realize the form factor is straight out of Palm (most noticeably, the 3G with its curved back has very similar ergonomics to the Palm Z22 I was praising a year and half ago.) To me, especially with the big flat featureless screen, this thing is a PDA that happens to do phone stuff. Actually I think it looks a bit silly when you hold the whole flat thing to your head, but it gets the job done.

Video and Article of the Moment
Fair Warning: not for people edgey about elevators. Please keep in mind that if entrapments like this were any thing like common, this wouldn't have been such big news

-Time Lapse of a man, Nicholas White, stuck in an NYC elevator for 41 hours, and going a bit nuts. The accompanying New Yorker article is great, full of meaty layman-friendly engineering details, along with White's response.


Lena says her toddler's cuteness is all in the crease under his nose, she'll say "show me your cuteness" and he points- like any face part
Urban Omnivores are so removed from the origin of the meat they consume. Is it odd that roadkill just provokes revulsion and not hunger?
"I have made crap that is better movies than this, in my own toilet" --from Jimminy Glick in LaLaWood on the Gandhi Boxing Movie
Apparently every college a cappella group with famous alums feels the compulsion to edit that person's wikipedia page and mention the fact.
The Globe redid its Sunday Comics with the passing of "Opus". Dang it, I liked starting w/ Dilbert+Get Fuzzy, ending w/ Arlo+Janis and Zippy

the stupidest pile of nonsense you could throw together

(9 comments)
November 10, 2008

Somewhere online I read people complaining that Obama fans expect that there is a silver bullet on its way, that there's an easy fix, and Obama is gonna pay the mortgage and fill our gas tanks. Are there many people who actually think that? Are there many people who actually think there are many people who think that?

Me, I'm just happy to have a president who doesn't seem like he'd lie to push a NeoCon-agenda war out.

Video of the Moment

--It's Get Your War On now in convenient video form... this works REALLY well with the rapid dialog. (via bill the splut)

Snark of the Moment
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2125398/posts
wow, those posts move sooooo fast.
no point in arguing
these people respect logic less than college students
it's almost like a twitter account for the stupidest pile of nonsense you could throw together.
shorter version: twitter.

--Redeye and dhex in this GamersQuarter thread. There's something stuck in my mind about "the stupidest pile of nonsense you could throw together", like making physical piles of stupid was actually the goal.
katwinx I dig twitter as a way of recording fleeting amusements or faux-profundities, and for seeing 140-char smarts of others...
Those "are you smarter than X" ads had Bush's IQ at 124, Obama 126, now Bush is 130? (both with "X is DUMB" animations, but thems high IQs!)
I have a lot to learn.
Putting my sunglasses away in my bag for the commute home at 6 feels like a mean joke.

below good and evilramble

(12 comments)
November 11, 2008

Something I've been thinking about lately (and I know it's a bit ridiculous to be tackling this kind of profound in a lunchtime blogpost--) is a variant on the old Question of Evil-- I've expressed a belief that hardly anyone is the Bad Guy of their own story.

EB (despite the joking "Evil" part of this site's nickname for him, but I don't think he puts the Evil into EB anymore than I put the jerk into kirkjerk) disagrees. I don't want to try and fully represent his viewpoint here, but I think it's safe to say that he feels people know the difference between Good and Evil and sometimes will choose the latter.

But the important thing to note in my formulation is "their own story". Within a person's value system there are different, sometimes competing priorities -- some with moral weights attached -- and within that system, almost no one will choose "to do evil". However, from a viewpoint outside of that system (including ones that might include moral standards that are well-nigh universal) those priorities and actions might be evil to the point of reprehensible villainy.

(Of course, guilt and self-recrimination exist, and are important tools in bringing our value system into better alignment with the more Universal principles. But they too exist not in "the story" of that moment, but rather a crucial postlude, or perhaps some "sequel" -- out of the "value system" of that moment. So someone might recognize themselves as having done evil, but that is dependent on a sense of continuity of self which most people take for granted but I believe isn't the experiential space we can actually live in.)

This is some of the weirdness of a "postmodern" age. But I think postmodernism, with its hallmark lack of a universal set of standards might just be an inevitable byproduct of a culture realizing that hey, there are other, long-standing cultures around with worldviews around that agree with ours on many points but disagree on many others. (This sense of inevitability of a postmodern-ish outlook, as a result of a kind of birth of metacultural thinking, is postmodernism's view of itself. Metapostmodernism?)

Most traditional religion says that there is indeed a set of universal standards, generally from something "outside the system", often literally supernatural, though in some more recent viewpoints, "merely" transcendent and emergent.

My feeling is you kind of got to play it as a game of statistics and common sense. What do traditions agree on? What makes sense? A kind of enlightened Golden Rule, Do Unto Others As You'd Have Them Do Unto You, but with an enhanced view of the "Tragedy of the Commons". Maybe Kant's Categorical Imperative, "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law", is a bit more complete.

There is the Utilitarian view that we should maximize happiness for as many people as possible. There's a counterview that argues of course not, because if 3/4 of the people can be really happy at the cost of 1/4 of the people, that's morally unacceptable. But I wonder if that could be tweaked with the addition of a constant, call it "S", for "screw factor", that you multiply the amount of unhappiness a decision would cause. So the formula is
(how much happiness) * (# of happy people) - S * (how much unhappiness) * (# of unhappy people)
See? Simple math. If the value is positive, do it, if negative, refrain.

Quotes of the Moment
"There is a right and a wrong in the universe and that distinction is not hard to make."
--Mark Waid, in the comic "The Kingdom" (he's making an homage to a very similar expression by Elliot S! Maggin in the novel "Superman: Last Son of Krypton".)

"It is absurd to divide people into good & bad. People are either charming or tedious."
--Oscar Wilde.

Whew! Which viewpoint to adopt... personally I think our country gets into trouble when it embraces the first one. One man's evil guerilla terrorist is another's freedom fighter...


Plea of the Moment

--Keith Olbermann with a moving explanation of why California's Prop 8 is just terrible, terrible, terrible. I'd say that Prop 8 IS evil for the reasons he eloquently explains. FoSO is encouraging people to LA Gay + Lesbian Center to overturn this. I was on the fence but after this video I sent $100.


And now I see "Madonna's IQ = 140". That much smarter than Obama, who knew? Thanks annoying Web Ads!
Always feel like a bit of a chump when it seems like every other company has a holiday...at least the subway's not crowded.
I love all the little streets with names like "Public Alley 438" around my office.
Wow, the Boston Salvation Army has thw red kettles out already? Probably a symptom of the rough times- a lot of food+shelter places taxed.
A big feature on screenshots of both Windows Vista and Google Android is a big old analog clock. That's not just retro, it's meta-retro.
Maybe when I'm trying to use music to focus, it would be better to stick with my smaller "Psyched" playlist; faster, fewer=less distracting?

more commentary than you require

(2 comments)
November 12, 2008

I assembled the November Blender of Love last night. The "feature" was young astronauts in love. At the risk of seeming a huge egotist, I made up a new "director's commentary version".

I realize that this level of analysis isn't really justified by the quality of the work, or other people's interest in it. In part it's a cross-reference for my future self, reminding me some of the whys and wherefores, and where Jake's story is an echo of my own, but I hope there's a small chance someone else might find the notes on the process interesting.

Law of the Moment
A program should follow the 'Law of Least Astonishment'. What is this law? It is simply that the program should always respond to the user in the way that astonishes him least.
--The Tao of Programming. Despite the whimsy of the title, the advice in it can be taken semi-seriously.

I'm actually accumulating a pile of what I'm terming "Guess What I Mean" (GWIM, a play on Do What I Mean).

The cornerstone of bad GWIM is that it too often takes a perfectly innocuous bit of minor user input and turns it into action which might totally take the user by surprise. Some of my least favorite examples: Alright, enough griping.

Video of the Moment

--Great fun with the new James Bond movie. Via felisdemens. Warning: contains the phrase "man tits".


NPR news has national news, then a space that's either the local affiliate or "secondary" nat'l news. Sometimes I wonder about the latter.
Took a weirdly large amount of focus to clear off this cluttered desktop-ish space in my apartment, partially 'cause no easy place for stuff
Enjoying Scott "Dilbert" Adams' "Monkey Brain" book, even if it's just blogposts. Not too quotable; his setups run the length of the essays
What would a caveman think of music? Start with live music, and then really blow his mind with a walkman. (iPod still kind of blows my mind)
There are far too few things in my life that can fairly be described as "funky fresh".

are you in, capable?

(2 comments)
November 13, 2008

Bill the Splut posted an NYtimes article on mental health research. The crux of it from the article is:
Their idea is, in broad outline, straightforward. Dr. Crespi and Dr. Badcock propose that an evolutionary tug of war between genes from the father’s sperm and the mother's egg can, in effect, tip brain development in one of two ways. A strong bias toward the father pushes a developing brain along the autistic spectrum, toward a fascination with objects, patterns, mechanical systems, at the expense of social development. A bias toward the mother moves the growing brain along what the researchers call the psychotic spectrum, toward hypersensitivity to mood, their own and others'. This, according to the theory, increases a child’s risk of developing schizophrenia later on, as well as mood problems like bipolar disorder and depression.
There is something intuitive about this kind of analysis, which worries me, because it might way too facile -- it certainly jives with certain stereotypes of men and logic and women and emotion, maybe to too great an extent to be trusted.

Video of the Moment
--"Pork and Beans" by Weezer is kind of an interesting survey of popular viral videos. This page embeds most of the references, a few of which I had missed.

Envy of the Moment
"Capable," for sure. Mrs. Post racked up truly startling accomplishments—along with her best-selling guide, Etiquette (1922), she wrote six novels, scads of journalism, and a 500-page book on architecture; had a long career in radio; designed her own high-fashion clothes; endorsed everything from cigarettes to gingerbread; and built a 15-story apartment house that still stands at the corner of Madison Avenue and 79th Street in Manhattan. She lived in 9B, and her friends filled the rest of the building.
--from this Slate piece on the new Emily Post book. I am filled with envy; an apartment building filled with friends is my ideal living arrangement, the balance between personal spaces and communal merriment.


It's weird when I try to relocate my place browsing slashdot's front page; I realize stories that I decided to skip don't register AT ALL
Increasingly aware of how my brain prefers lots of shallow concepts over fewer deeper ones. I even see it in my OO programming preferences.
How much of the October downturn in consumer stuff is folks getting the bejeebers scared outta them by Wall St? (Spend it if you got it...)
Every few days my work laptop goes nuts and remaps most punctuation to foreign characters, so I switch the kbd to to "English(Zimbabwe)"

i have a giant heap of friday

(16 comments)
November 14, 2008

So I hear the Patriots lost in overtime after making a dramatic comeback to tie it up. I still think the NFL's sudden death overtime rules should have that "both teams get control of the ball at least once" thing that I think the collegiate game has.

Funny of the Moment
In the news recently, the FDA is reportedly poised to approve food from cloned animals. Apparently eating clones makes some people uncomfortable. Their thinking goes like: "I sure enjoy eating Bob the cow, but I wouldn't feel comfortable eating Bob the other cow."
--Scott "Dilbert" Adams. Just finished his "Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain!" book, which I think is culled from his blog. I enjoyed reading it, though he's 4/5 really smart and cutting observation, 1/5 misguided blowhard. I suppose that ratio is different depending on the reader.

I get a sense that if you were looking for the essence of the "kirkish humor", this would be as good an example as any. I'm inordinately fond of this kind categorization gag.

Leaving the joke aside, I guess there might be semi-reasonable reasons to shun cloned meat... IIRC, Dolly the Other Sheep didn't live as long as the original, in part because it seemed some of the DNA didn't get properly reset, the way it would through the typical conception cycle. If that makes one jot of difference once you douse that stuff in some nice digestive acid, I have no idea.


Video of the Moment

--Heheh. Yeah, the "Batman disuguising his voice in a hoarse whisper" thing in the recent movies is a bit much.


Hearing cubemate phoning in to a conf.call I'm also on, I wonder if conf. calls have extra "dramatic pauses" because of the voice delay...
An almost overwhelming feeling of vague discontent...
Kirk's Law of Stereophonic Caution: the speakers or headphones in the store are sounding better 'cause they're turned way the hell up.
UI Geek: Windows window manager and Eclipse's MDI-ish UI use a similar model for sorting, but w/ Eclipse its awkward, not good for the hunt.

you got the touch

(2 comments)
November 15, 2008

So I now have two friends who use CPAP machines, masks or tubes they wear at night hooked up to machines that push air to help open up the passageways and let them sleep better. Big benefits to general feelgoodness are reported! So I've been feeling a bit sleepy lately, and being the hypochondriac I am I almost want to get a sleep study done, but waking up this morning after a good 9 or 10 hours, I think it's more a matter of, you know, not staying up 'til 1 or 2 every night while getting up at 7.

Still don't like how much sleep I'm obliged to do in this world.

Links of the Moment
BoingBoing lined to this mildly interesting Psychology Today article on Scams and Cons. Once concept the article presents is THOMAS, "The Human Oxytocin Mediated Attachment System", a neurochemical base for trust.

THOMAS is mentioned in a few other articles. One was an eye-opening study on how touch induces trust. In talking about handshakes and hugs, I'm reminded about how much less hugging East Coast guys do than West Coast. (Heh, though you know, I think one of my main observation points for the West Coast was the guys in the movie "Swingers".) I asked EB, and sure enough, he had to switch gears when he made the coastal switch. I just vaguely worry about the neurochemical implications of that, that on the East Coast were more isolated and less trusting. (There was a kind of surprising subculture of guy greeting hugs at The Salvation Army crew back in Ohio.)

The other article was on couchsurfing... apparently there's a big subculture of mutual beneficence going on, people opening their homes to other travellers. There's the website couchsurfing.com. That seems like it might be cool to get into someday, sort of like a short-term AFS for grownups.


Odd, my embedded twitter javascript seems to be somehow busted.
"Keeping his campaign promise to meet with dangerous world leaders without preconditions, Obama went to the White House" --Wait Wait
I generally dig Jeanette Winterson but so far "Lighthousekeeping" is a slog, just a grungy highlands shadow of magical realism.
five minutes till the glorioustrainwrecks.com kotmk 2 hour game jam!

bummers in bunchesgame

(5 comments)
November 16, 2008

Man sometimes I wish this was an LJ 'cause then I'd have a little "mood" icon by every post and today I'd be all like
mood:cranky

All these annoyances seem to cluster.

Maybe it's statistical? There's this phenomenon I've read about and even witnessed but couldn't Google a reference for (which is of course, par for the course) how if you mix coarse grained particles of two different colors and shake, the result isn't an even blend, but the clusters stay segregated and gathered. If this scales to events in real life, it might explain "good things come in threes" type thinking.

Also, possibly, astrology. While I think the underlying explanation of astrology is hokum, I've been starting to think that somewhere between this kind of statistical clustering and observations on seasonal variations, as well as a kind of coded arbitrariness of randomness like the I Ching and a bit of insight to human personaligy (even if mostly in a Barnum effect kind of sense) there might be the shadow of something "to it".

But I came here to kvetch, not to sophomorically pontificate!

Last night I decide to just go read at the pub before the glorioustrainwrecks KotMK #17 game jam. To be fair, the burger and beer were good, but the book, by an author I've liked, was just not appealing to me at all. ("Lighthousekeeping" by Jeannette Winterson-- this whiny, mushy kind of cross between "just so" stories and magical realism.) And then even though it was only six there was this drunk or at least extremely raucous crowd there. And of course, I get meta-irritated at how they annoyed me; why should I begrudge people having a fun time? But there it was. And this was all after getting stuck on the dino-planet level of "Star Fox: Assault", a goofy sci-fi game I liked a while back and decided to replay, probably at a moderately more difficult level than I had before.

So then it was the game jam, and it started out ok, though I kept getting distracted by hearing the wind push against the plastic in front of the windows. My bedroom/office has these lovely stained glass pieces, but they're drafty--the one with the permanently installed AC has visible daylight in parts--so much so that I think air gets behind the plastic and pushes against it, ripping off the tape. I've given up keeping the plastic nice and taut like it was at first via the magic of hair dryer (doesn't matter so much visually, they're behind some roman shades) and now it's an ongoing thing of maintenance.

So, of course, the game never did come together quite right. It was very promising and kind of interesting but then I just got stuck with either a bug or misunderstanding of the engine I had written previously and was trying to leverage. (In short, the "player/wall" colliding thing was ok, but the same code just wasn't working for the "ghost/wall" collisions, or "ghost/ghost"). Plus, I didn't have time to research the Sine/Cosine routine I thought of working, that would have made it a more pleasant toy.

So rather than push on at the 2 hour time limit, I just post what I had then and think about coming back to it. I go back to self-medicate with the Star Fox game, get through that dino planet level (where I couldn't find the damn target goals, but thought I knew where to look) and then get stuck on a different boss fight, where according the FAQs, there's no strategy besides "shoot him in the face and try not to get too distracted by his attacks"... and most times I would get the boss's health to just a sliver, and then die.

Meh.

And now this morning, I have my "yourself!fitness" to do, except I know it's a "workout challenge"-- the program wants me to do as many situps, squats, pushups etc to gauge my progress. But that's a terrible way to judge, you're looking to gauge 2 weeks of progress, and who knows what kind of small cheating-on-pure-form for the sake of numbers might slip in there. Plus, for some reason the program is setup to still expect you to do the normal workout that day and nags you if you don't.

It's all a bit worse because of the general climate of fear and uncertainty. Maybe I should remind myself of the good stuff from yesterday; nice breakfast with my Aunt and Uncle, EB was in town and put a new endpiece on the giant honking ethernet cable that runs from the third floor to my room so it won't slip out of the router, I did a fair job straightening up parts of the apartment...

(And through typing all this I saw there were some games I missed last night at the game jam, but I need to upgrade DirectX to see one of them, and that process isn't working. Because, why the hell not. GAH!)

Applet of the Moment
To view this content, you need to install Java from java.com
swank - source - built with processing
Control the eyes with the mouse... mouse button fires a stream of particles, that can be used to stick to the walls and the ghosts following you. (Dessgeega called this the best firefly spitting simulation ever). Press 'r' to reset. Meant to be a study in a 2D variant of The Unfinished Swan demo.


DANG IT. the windows are so frickin' drafty I can see the air fill in behind the plastic sheeting in front, hear the tape rip off the sides

sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment

(3 comments)
November 17, 2008

Welcome to the working week.

It was like old times last night, crashing at JZ's after a late night of video games (plowing through Gears of War 2 in this case.) It made sense because I had to be in Burlington the next morning.

I think an afternoon of boardgames and a night of videogames was a good bit of self-medication for the bad mood I was in yesterday.

Video of the Moment

--Church Choir covers of hiphop songs. Oy. They need more speed and precision, which makes me think it might be just some experiments. Via archmage, who also linked to a neat fully baked Skoda Fabia car commercial.

Quote of the Moment
"Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment."
--Jalal Ud-Din Rumi. In these days and these markets, I think bewilderment is a pretty hot commodity.

Geek Link of the Moment
Computer Naming Schemes. A great occasional pleasure in the life of a sys-admin type geek is when you get to establish a computer naming theme. Done well it's more playful and memorable than boring numbers and codes. I remember at Eaton lab at Tufts, muppets ruled the day. I always liked the idea of Jazz musicians, Satchmo, Bird, Miles, Roach, Ella... my own "what I name my desktop" name Monk comes from this series.




I prefer "bodywash" to soap, and, hey, who doesn't like shampoo, but the products that claim to be both weird me out a bit.
You know what's a relatively unheralded wonder-product? Ordinary window glass. I mean, a solid you can SEE THROUGH like it was air? Wow!
So my lack of sense of economic scale (billions, trillions, whatevs) scales down as well as up... a 3% retail sales drop is a "collapse"??
Company may crack down to ensure folk wear IDs on clip or lanyards. Don't hate idea as much as before. Funny idea: IDs mounted on Headbands.

scale

(4 comments)
November 18, 2008

Been thinking about how I just don't have a sense of scale on economic matters. I mentioned this before in the context of what Obama's campaign shelled out for a half hour multiple network infomercial. National Median income is around $40K I've heard. I have a hard time really grasping most companies selling enough of anything to thereby pay for a staff of dozens or more.

Counterpoint: but I don't grasp just how many people 300,000,000 (the population of the USA) represents.

Countercounterpoint: still, consumer interest seems like such an odd duck. There are certain old networked computer games that have a single, centralized server. And in a lot of these, you'll be lucky to find more than 10 prowling around there.... 6 or 7 billion people in the world, and at the moment, it's just you 2 or 3 goons in this little nook of popculture. if you want to get enough for an actual game, you have to preschedule stuff in advance, outside of the channel of the game itself. It seems weird to me that interest drops off to such tiny numbers.

And my sense of scale in economics goes the other way. A less than 3% drop in retail sales is widely considered a disaster, and a bigger decline than we say after 9-11. 3 frickin' percent! How brittle is this system anyway?

I know right now it's worse to think about this stuff, because obviously the system has been chugging along, and continues to chug, for many decades, but it seems to give some credence to the whole "HA HA! IT'S ALL SMOKE AND MIRRORS!" crowd.

Video of the Moment



"where I step a weed dies" - unnamed trantula in an Archy the Cockroach poem. (similar "name shouldn't be lower case" as E.E. Cummings)
http://tinyurl.com/frgnr123 - how Obama is like Disraeli, Napoleon, Ozdemir-the leader from a different culture. But isn't that Hitler too?
Firefox's popup blocker needs to be smarter and allow stuff I just clicked to make happen.
Tempted to put in coins and select the empty vending machine slot, watch the things spin, turning crass commerce to machine performance art
Too grumpy to ingest a "Wicket in Action" book? "Most web-app frameworks don't provide a stateful programming model"? Eh? Like JSP Sessions?
Also irksome with "Wicket in Action": Servlet/JSPs aren't "regular Java programming"? - I think more people have done that than, say, Swing
Easy to get paranoid at work. If you recognize you're leaping to conclusions, pretend you didn't hear it, unless you need to jobhunt NOW

this is still the world and you are still in it

(6 comments)
November 19, 2008

Poem of the Moment
It must be troubling for the god who loves you
To ponder how much happier you'd be today
Had you been able to glimpse your many futures.
It must be painful for him to watch you on Friday evenings
Driving home from the office, content with your week--
Three fine houses sold to deserving families--
Knowing as he does exactly what would have happened
Had you gone to your second choice for college,
Knowing the roommate you'd have been allotted
Whose ardent opinions on painting and music
Would have kindled in you a lifelong passion.
A life thirty points above the life you're living
On any scale of satisfaction. And every point
A thorn in the side of the god who loves you.
You don't want that, a large-souled man like you
Who tries to withhold from your wife the day's disappointments
So she can save her empathy for the children.
And would you want this god to compare your wife
With the woman you were destined to meet on the other campus?
It hurts you to think of him ranking the conversation
You'd have enjoyed over there higher in insight
Than the conversation you're used to.
And think how this loving god would feel
Knowing that the man next in line for your wife
Would have pleased her more than you ever will
Even on your best days, when you really try.
Can you sleep at night believing a god like that
Is pacing his cloudy bedroom, harassed by alternatives
You're spared by ignorance? The difference between what is
And what could have been will remain alive for him
Even after you cease existing, after you catch a chill
Running out in the snow for the morning paper,
Losing eleven years that the god who loves you
Will feel compelled to imagine scene by scene
Unless you come to the rescue by imagining him
No wiser than you are, no god at all, only a friend
No closer than the actual friend you made at college,
The one you haven't written in months. Sit down tonight
And write him about the life you can talk about
With a claim to authority, the life you've witnessed,
--The God Who Loves You by Carl Dennis, via Megan McArdle's Blog at the Atlantic.

A few months ago the mantra "THIS IS THE WORLD AND YOU ARE IN IT" was in my head. I think it was kind of a refutation to the kind of thinking that this poem explores... there is no other Universe. The past is set. The future doesn't exist. Is playing a game of "what if" and "if only" good for us? The Buddhists say no. We may long for It to be otherwise, but whatever is, is.

The reality or fictitious nature of free will is another issue. We don't act, we react. We respond to stimuli before our sense of self has any idea what's going, but that sense of self hurries up and adds the component of conscious decision making that was never quite there in the sense we assume. Such is the nature of Strange Loops, the self-observing systems that Hofstadter has convinced me we are. But this strange system builds itself, we build our brains, responsible for our quick, "unconscious" response as well as our slow thoughtful musing, instinctively in much the same way a spider builds its web without "knowing" what it's doing.


Local News Bummer of the Moment
Harvard Square's iconic Out of Town News may be on its way out. And some of it might have been due to the recent construction, besides the obvious challenges of being in an area where more and more information is discovered online.


pentomino Oh great, now you've *loudly* done it. (don't sweat it!)
Found my Aunt's "Wireless" catalog--haven't seen one for decades (is it NPR or PBS affiliated?) but it's still "Lillian Vernon for yuppies"
The difference between what is / And what could have been will remain alive for him / Even after you cease existing
Y'day's work paranoia is a new found, hush-hush team of very hip coders. You can tell by the transformers T and expensive Vans sneakers.
Facebook's UI is kind of bad. I want to reply specifically to a "Wall" comment by XYZ-- click on "Wall-to-Wall" or "Write on XYZ's Wall"??

you gotta compile like you'll never get hurtgeek

(5 comments)
November 20, 2008

I recognize that this is me fighting a fight that no one else cares about, or even thinks of as a fight, but... I dunno. Somehow mulling over the similarities of my iPhone and the Palm of days of yore, I got to thinking about the whole "PDA is dead" thing that was such a mantra a few years ago. And as much disbelief as I had about it back then, they were right, the standalone PDA has pretty much gone the way of the Dodo.

But I guess you have to specify, "the standalone PDA", because I'm thinking that form-factor-wise (which is hyper-important, as some of the early success of the Palm points to) smartphones are MUCH more like PDAs circa 1998 than cellphones circa...well, ever. For me it's mostly about the touchscreen. I love me devices w/ touchscreens, it's such a fun and more direct way of interacting with a gadget. (Though I think Nokia makes some decent smartphones that make do without... and some Blackberries. Though of course that Storm seems kind of interesting. But googling up this pretty blatant bit of shilling was amusing.) The phone part really is secondary to the other ways it helps me organize my life. (Maybe I'm a freak; iPhone lets you pick 4 functions/programs for the icon bar that appears on every page of icons of the home menu, and for me that's Todo, Datebook, Browser and iPod... not the icon that actually let's me use it as a phone.)

I know the argument "look people! It's much better to think of these gizmos as PDAs that do cellphone stuff than cellphones that do PDA stuff!" is a descent into faux-Aspergers-y geekdom, but still.

Advice of the Moment
--referenced in the Scot "Dilbert" Adams book, panel via here... an obvious take on "You gotta sing like you don't need the money / Love like you'll never get hurt / You gotta dance like there's nobody watching / It's gotta come from the heart If you want it to work"... though I prefer the first version of that I encountered somewhere in cyberspace that replaced sing, love, dance with program, compile, run...


laptop on lap, top chef on projector, baileys on ice. there are worse ways to cocoon...
A donut on a plate acquired a seriousness and dignity that it would not have without that plate.
This whole "market boom or bust starting in the last hour" is getting might old. What, are those guys sleeping until 3?
Angsty about the Dow. Skipping UU sci+spirituality group after EB calls. Purposefully spending a bit at Rodney's used books at Central.
5 year low for the Dow. Good news: well we haven't suffered through a recent giant terrorist attack. Bad news: so what's our excuse? (Bush?)
masukomi Is that all 4 player and stuff? Should we try to get a group together?

ah the good liblub blub blub

(11 comments)
November 21, 2008

Ah, the (temporary) joy of looking at my iPhone's datebook and seeing nothing for Friday, nothing for Saturday, nothing for Sunday. Especially seeing as how I want to spruce up the apartment for the Thanksgiving houseguests we'll be having...

Commercial of the Moment

--this commercial celebrates the opening of Terminal 5 at Heathrow by British Airways. I guess it's supposed to be soothing and lovely, but to me it also reads "post-apocalyptic" and "drown-y". (It probably didn't help that I heard some roughly similar music used ironically in the opening to the post-apocalyptic game "Fallout".)

Quote of the Moment
"There are two essential rules to management. One, the customer is always right; and two, they must be punished for their arrogance."
--Dogbert again. The thing is, this is funny on the surface, but even funnier as you think about it more deeply.

Link of the Moment
Probably should have posted this a few weeks ago, Slate's sideshow on the best fictional presidential candidates.


So sick of doing year subtraction to figure which previous economic downturn's milestone we've reached-17 yr low = early 90s recession etc
I hear "more text mesages are sent daily than the population of the planet"... I'd like a cite for that.
I probably have to hand in my greek street cred card 'cause I think the new Trek trailer looks kinda cool. (Still, they might screw it up)
Sweet, just got a comp'd a copy of Reklaw's "The Night of Your Life" w/ two of my dreams turned into 4 panel comics - http://slowwave.com
floccinaucinihilipilification beats antidisestablishmentarianism since its meaning ("act of describing something as worthless") is useful

viridian dreams

(3 comments)
November 22, 2008

Boingboing posted to the last of Bruce Sterling's final Viridian Manifesto. He advocates for that certain kind of minimalism, dividing possessions into
  1. Beautiful things.
  2. Emotionally important things.
  3. Tools, devices, and appliances that efficiently perform a useful function.
  4. Everything else.
(With the implication that the 4th category should generally be disposed of.)

The tone of the essay can read a bit arrogant, and in some parts (like the insistence on a multitool) gratuitously high-falutin' rationalization of the author's preferences.

Some of the comments by boingboing readers were interesting; John Mark Ockerbloom, in particular, points out that Sterling is describing the ideal for a global nomad; nomads always travel light. Some people who choose to keep a surplus around themselves will do so for the sake of community, and as he and others point out others might be poor, or afraid of being poor, and the costs of keeping the extra stuff is a kind of interest payment, a hedge against a time when ready cash might not be available for a used item's replacement.

Sterling also argues for investing in good beds and good shoes. Beds are tough - he admits to the difficulty of cultivating the awareness needed, and I really despair of ever knowing what kind of bed is best. Even a catnap at a mattress store doesn't seem like it would be enough to know how a bed works for you overnight, and there are always so many variables going into a good night's sleep that I'm not sure I could ever isolate the power of a mattress. Which is a bummer, because I haven't been sleeping particularly well lately I think.

Maybe I'll split the difference and buy a $150 tempur-pedic mattress cover from CostCo.


Bush: LAMEST DUCK EVER. What is this, some kind of perverted "do-nothing" scorched earth policy? Seriously. Worst of All Possible Presidents
Talk afoot that Obama should ditch DST. Screw that noise - DST all year long! (I *hate* that a change for consistency is default "no DST")
Twice now I've seen guys getting the dunkin donuts order for their crews, orders scrawled on big pieces of cardboard with magic marker.
I'm usually pretty descriptivist and loose about others' usage, but the slogan "Exceptional Care. Without Exception" makes me sad.
I am trying to come up with ONE f'in business or technical reason why iPhone's don't do MMS. Lazy? Thanks for the tough-to-type codes, AT+T
Feeling oddly energized. Can neurochemically okish people go through times of being, like, mildly bipolar? Or is it just "having moods"?

video and ramble of the momentramble

(8 comments)
November 23, 2008


--Aurora ft. Naimee Coleman's cover of Duran Duran's Ordinary World

I encountered this cover in Dance Dance Revolution Max. In fact, it was annoying, because a few years ago I paid import prices for the "DDR Max soundtrack", mostly for this song, and it only had an abbreviated version of this track. I don't think it even made the artist clear, so I couldn't easily seek this longer version. So, youtube for the win.

In general I'll try to pay for a song from Amazon's MP3 feature, but if that fails, I'll rip it myself off of Youtube. And it's surprising how many songs are lurking there... it's kind of a stealth Napster in the works, though I don't know how many people know about it. (And somehow ripping from youtube feels less pirate-y than using BitTorrent.)

So in general, I prefer this kind of cover to the original. For a while I assumed it was because of the "high contrast" electronic beats, but I'm realizing a lot of the covers I like (like that Jan Wayne "Mad World" cover) have a female vocalist, and I guess I prefer listening to women sing over listening to men.

More rambling... I've been trying to isolate and classify the type of beat I like. There might be a parallel to saturation in visual imagery... I like big thumping bassdrums and tight high snares, doing interesting funk-tinged rhythms. Sometimes when I try to pick apart a drumtrack that doesn't interest me, I can hear what a boring, repetitive, acoustic muddle it is.

(Side note: previously I talked about the music service Pandora that uses the Music Genome project, an attempt to classify music on a variety of scales and properties. Wikipedia has a nifty list of Music Genome Project attributes.)

Anyway, I hope I know what I'm talking about with recognizing "highly saturated" images. Like there was this one from a suicide girls set:


I think that's the quality of image I'm thinking of, those nice intense blues and greens. Can someone confirm that it's "saturation" I'm looking at here?


You know, last night's energy boost might have been rooted in listening to loudish music I like in the car. Self-medicating with MP3s?
Do you think Lisa Loeb thinks that in a better world she'd be a romantic interest for Superman?
Helped a friend move. I have a strange affinity for landings at the top or middle of stairs; lying back on the landing, feet over the stairs

legoing going gone

(4 comments)
November 24, 2008

Power outages in Back Bay, manhole fires, no work for me.

The city seemed to be doing a good job keeping things running as well as possible, cops directing traffic, T-stations still open. Still it was disturbing exiting the train into Arlington Station and seeing it lit by a few emergency floodlights powered by generators.

Followup of the Moment
Heh, yesterday I was talking about Youtube but I forgot to mention one of my core points-- last month Youtube may have surpassed Yahoo as the #2 search engine. (Which, of course means that the #1 search engine is Google, and the #2 engine is Also Google-- scary!)

Online video is so common now (mostly google but some other sources) it's almost easy to forget what a revelation it was, I was flabbergasted that they could have the bandwidth for that. And it's so popular... I guess we really are visual creatures.

Lego of the Moment

Boingboing had a link to Peter "legoloverman" Reid's awe-inspiring Flickr stream.

I'm so jealous... both of the two fiddly bits that have come out since I was so dedicated to collecting and thinking about Legos, and how well he uses them.

I guess the technoscavenger I made back around 1990 or so is in this mold, taking advantage of new, small pieces as functional ornamentation rather than trying to make square bricks look cool, so I shouldn't begrudge him all the awesome part he now has. Especially with his neoclassic space stuff that respects the blue/gray bricks and yellow windows of the stuff from the 80s.

I'm tempted by the new Lego Mindstorms. It looks like, unlike prior generations (some of which is sitting in a closet at home) they may have finally given tools with enough precision that I could make that typing bot I've always dreamed of... though I'm still very inexperienced at that kind of "Technic" construction.


Power out in Back Bay + Theater District because of a manhole fire. Last night in Chinatown they were doing water stuff-related? (Day off!)
"BOOM BOOM that's all you hear when MY cannon bust" --Overheard in Mission Hill
I wish I could figure out if someone makes a tilt and swivel platform for a projector that's already sitting ona damn shelf.

look before you leep

(3 comments)
November 25, 2008

My area's political representation has been taken a beating lately, with both State Senator Dianne Wilkerson and Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner getting caught in a bribery sting.

WBUR mentioned a detail that apparently informed the title of the Boston Globe article FBI informant in bribe cases says more suspects are likely to surface, but the only part of the article concerning the headline was
While Wilburn suggested that the probe may have targets beyond those already charged, he declined to name them.
That's it-- that's really enough for a headline?

So, because both of the politicians are black, the race card is going to played. But, I'm not sure that its not justified in this case.
Asked if he was surprised that public officials would allegedly take money to help push a liquor license, he responded quickly. "Hell, no," and let out a hearty laugh.

Wilburn said the idea of opening an upscale supper and jazz club, to be called Dejavu, began to take hold in 2006. But he was rebuffed by the Boston Licensing Board when he sought a liquor license and was frustrated by what he describes as a politicized and antiquated licensing process.

"You're dealing with favoritism, cronyism, classism, and if you don't have the right connections it's very difficult to make things happen," Wilburn said. "The average person that works hard and has a plan to get a license, it's very hard for them to move through that system. And you find out if you have the right people pushing the buttons, things can happen fast."
So given Boston's racial history, with the bus boycotts, some of the slowest-to-integrate sports teams in history, etc etc, I think this deserves to be looked at. Whom they decided to launch a sting on could quite possibly have a racist dimension... I really want to know who else they investigated, and the rationale behind it. With a system this clunky and crony-tastic, I'd be surpised if there wasn't a ton of wheel (Of course the Libertarians would argue that the harsh limits of liquor licenses is offbase to begin with...) Also, call me a bleeding heart, but Wilburn is black, and I could almost see there being an aspect of trying to promote black business... especially in places with more black citizens than black business owners.

That said, I also like Chuck Turner's campaign slogan of "BALD BOLD AND BRIGHT".

Video of the Moment
I previously 'fessed up to alien bill's design being influenced by a board game, but sometimes I wonder if he doesn't have a bit of Lunar Leeper in him:


I really liked the way those guys looked, I tried building something like them in the C programming lass at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts...


When a football team wears the same colored pants and-- I dunno, socks, whatever, like the Saints do, it looks like their wearing tights.
Linguistically "first down" is a bit odd because they drop the verb... "it is first down" "they just missed [getting a] first down"
Also there's a pick, or interception, or a pick, like in basketball, a (non-legal?) move where an offensive player gets in the way of the D
But then, the main googling for picks in a football context is fantasy football and gambling. ok i'll stop
Ever since I learned about it as a concept "eyebrow flash" I can't stop observing it...
http://tinyurl.com/prezlogos - funny how both Obama and George W. had distinctive initial-based logos (W, O); icons, not dull stylized words
http://georgewbush.org/ - surprised that the future prez. library site uses the infamous GWB-in-a-flightsuit. Heh heh: "GWB Prez. Library"

it's a wednesday all right!

(3 comments)
November 26, 2008

Umm... happy day before Thanksgiving?

Anti-Libertarian Thought of the Moment
You are paying taxes for your life "footprint" in that country, not just for your income but also when you buy things.
Now try to think that whenever you use anything on earth that it is not your own creation (knowledge, art, infrastructure, etc), and try to mentally subtract the value that you can return in exchange to that thing, you will be embarrassed. Are you paying your life time, knowledge and pretty everything you are to humanity by thinking in terms of socialism or not ?
--Interesting answer to the Ask Slashdot about dealing with aging. Also, a longer bit of more concentrated advice about vitamins and carrying weights around and that kind of thing.

Protip of the Moment
In Firefox, I knew that ctrl-L hops the cursor up to the address bar, but ctrl-K jumps over to the search/Google box, which might be even more useful.


Is "Pressure Cooker" a direct ancestor of all those "Diner Dash" type games? (but the Atari game had the food proactively coming at you...)
Haven't seen a "school ruled" piece of paper in so long, seems kind of arbitrary... 3 holes, the red line left margin, blue lines w/ header-
pentomino Picnic Paranoia -- loved that game -- similar multitasking, and a food element, but lacks the prepping/serving food element.
Gunmen in Mumbai. BB linked to http://english.aljazeera.net/ - I can't tell if they're misusing 'quotes' for emphasis or distancing 'selves'

attitudinous of gratitudinousphotos

(3 comments)
November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all! Take stock of all you have to be grateful, even in, or especially in, these frightening times.

Photos of the Moment
Drag Queen Kris Knievil and her entourage at the Coolidge Corner Theatre:


The statskeeper Jen brought us this dire warning on election night that some thoughtful person had placed on her car, probably in response to her pro-Obama bumper sticker:

How not to photograph children:

How not to photograph self: (especially with big candy lips)

Finally, this is kind of extremely random, a crop from a scene of the show "Supernatural":
It was just striking to me because I visually parsed it wrong when it was first paused, I thought he had his legs severely crossed but on second glance his knees are far apart. I guess it's just an optical illusion the way his coat is blocking the top of his legs, and maybe a visual assumption that something higher up is closer. FoSOSO pointed out it's not often you see a live human involved in such an Escher-esque illusion.


The pub at the end of my street, Flann's, has guitar and drumhead both signed by the members of U2. Bono signs his name and writes the year.
For what turned into a 2-day week, today feels a hell of a lot like a Friday.
#mumbai -- http://tinyurl.com/5kleyu : "Eleven of our policemen laid down their lives, including five good officers" -- ??
Youtube: pretending you are fundamentally widescreen and using side letterbox bars 95% all the time is actually pretty lame.
Today I mildly impressed a Finn with my knowledge of Joulupukki.
In XP, I love scroll-button-click to open in new tab, HATE that weird scrolling gizmo thing... anyway to disable it?
The Little Mermaid music number in the Macy's parade has the performers in Heelies... kind of near how they can step and glide.
Wow, Macy's parade rickrolls America, sweet. But he needed to dance more.
Mom says my grandmother would punish her and my aunt by giving up not smoking. Passive aggresivness parlayed into a martial art!

look at me, I'm here, i did these things, i have this stuff

(2 comments)
November 28, 2008

Anyone daring the shopping today? I may (or may not) go brave a Best Buy, there's this one game that sounds interesting..

Quote of the Moment
This john's name was John and he lived in one of those apartment complexes that are all over Tucson, where the desert used to be. Little houses stacked and winding around each other like a sprawling motel, a ghetto for people with money. Lawns spiked with sprinklers and a couple of pools. They all had nature names - Three Pines, Blue River Apartments. John's apartment was full of things I wanted to steal. Bright pieces of art from Mexico, perfect layers of yarn curved into flowing animals or gods, something you'd hallucinate on really good drugs. John needed to show his life to someone, which I think is often the reason everyone tries to fall in love. Look at me, I'm here, I did these things, I have this stuff. He'd have the Rolling Stones blaring from his stereo, the sound filling his sunny little apartment and he'd be singing along, too loud, a verse ahead of the actual song so that I could understand that he knew this song, he knew it well and that said something about him.
--Michelle Tea, "Rent Girl", kind of a graphic novel illustrated by Laurenn McCubbin. About the least glamorous view of prostitution (mostly around Boston; this anecdote is from a sidetrip) possible, and barely sexual at all despite all the nudity. I was tempted just to quote "John needed to show his life to someone, which I think is often the reason everyone tries to fall in love. Look at me, I'm here, I did these things, I have this stuff." which I think is a very cutting observation.

Advice of the Moment
Using the Hell out of your Digital Camera - 10 Tips for Digital Camera Owners includes the idea of taking a picture of your name and address, and leaving it always on the camera, locked. Which is probably not a bad idea, but after 7 or so years of always having my camera on me I've never left it behind... some other neat ideas there, some of which (like using it as a memory aid, or evidence, etc) I started doing on my own.


As visiting family uses my PC I had forgotten how flustering my microsoft split keyboard if you're not used to it- you'd think it was dvorak
Run your browser with the "default" color to the old "Windows' gray". It's kind of astounding how many sites assume the default is white.
Wow, so dark! Like someone is really trying to put the black into Black Friday...
"Bacos aren't a spice, Betty" --My Aunt Susan, as they organize the spices in the kitchen

"according to hoyle"

(7 comments)
November 29, 2008

Lunch with FoSO yesterday, looking at the people at the Pru.

Not quite the teeming masses we were braced for, for better or worse, but things seemed to be moving.

She thinks that if I feel I've had luck with nice Jewish gals I should actually go on JDate, despite the fact my tribal membership card isn't quite valid.

Actually, on Thanksgiving a cousin of ours who has done research into the family genealogy gave my mom a lovely artifact he had unearthed, her Great Uncle Samuel's Hebrew prayerbook.

Sometimes I think I'm a bit bipolar on the whole goy thing.

Video of the Moment


Quote of the Moment
"Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards."
--Fred Hoyle


The holiday traditional Dr. Mario, Aunt notices Mom is stoic - fuming? No, just decided not to speak 'til she won a star. Kind of hilarious!

you're nuts. and bolts.

(2 comments)
November 30, 2008

Burnt most of yesterday playing this terrific new game Banjo-Kazooie Nuts & Bolts. The core of it is this clever vehicle editor... I don't know if most of the people playing with it will realize how slick it is. So you can make a car, or motorcycle, or powered shopping cart, or copter, or boat, or hovercraft, or plane, try it out in the test track, and then use it to solve different challenges, races, and collection tasks, and "sumo" matches, etc etc. It's like old style Lego building (before you had so many specialty pieces, so everything is a bit blocky) but the design actually matters, and you have to balance engine and fuel and weight to get the vehicle performance you need.



Banjo-Kazooie was mid-90s "collect-a-thon" type game, and Nuts & Bolts carries on the tradition of a central world, with lots of specially themed mini-worlds off of it. And it's so pretty, a nice blend between cartoony and realistic (same for the physics). I guess some of the old school fans are upset it's a break from the old exploration style, and that the bear and bird combo don't have many of their old moves. But to me, this game is doing something so unique, I can't blame them for co-opting the series proper.

Following up some links with this, I'm struck with how there's some little subculture of Youtube commentary... this one is reasonably well done, but some of the random guy talking on and on into a webcam is... well, who knows. Can't they just blog and natter away on web forums like normal people? (Look, the kettle is just dark gray, ok?)

Anyway, this game is great stuff, the vehicle building and driving is really joyous, and makes me happy that videogames exist.


Dr. Mario:"*KIRK!*" "It wasn't me...Aunt Susan dropped those" "He's lying to avoid attention!" "Oh yeah, *that's* what I avoid" "Good point"
Dr. Mario is to my family what Gin Rummy is to some others.
Aha, finally figured it out, my GPS will pronounce "dr." as "drive" at the end of a name, otherwise "doctor" as in "storrow dr. east"
He who teaches history is doomed to remember it. Or something.