2014 January❮❮prevnext❯❯

January 1, 2014

"should old acquaintance be forget, especially in Chicago where it's still twenty thirteen..." "how do you like living in the past Chicago???"

Instagramming food is how we say grace now.

Now that I've quit smoking for about 9 months I can smell way better. Earth smells kinda weird honestly.

January 2, 2014

Dogs like to poop in alignment with Earth's Magnetic Field. SCIENCE!

Rocking, 'walking' gyroscopic cubes Speaking of science... I always thought gyroscopic forces were weird and mysterious. If -- when, rather -- I become a mad evil overlord, my robotic minions (cleverly and disarmingly disguised as retro-style "Companion Cubes") spontaneously LEAPING UP in blatant disregard of intuition about Newton's laws of action and reaction will mean you should probably start running on your puny human "pushing off against the ground" legs.

January 3, 2014

Ancient Greek's 6 Words for Love -- I often still feel weird about use of the word "love" for all sorts of different types of feelings and relationships. Funny that the language of Shakespeare does such a rough job of it.

annual media roundup

(1 comment)
My usual media roundup. Far fewer movies on video is the main change. I guess I watch more of those when I'm going steady for longer. Usually.

Better than expected stuff in red, All time favorite in bold, not so good stuff in grey.

So, "all time favorites": Gravity 3D, but in IMAX. It's a bit hokey, but the majestic expanse of Earth are half the key to placating my inner child astronaut.

Bookwise, "Cloud Atlas" was a stylistic tour de force, I love how it built and then deconstructed itself. "Spell of the Sensuous" talks about what we lost with the rise of phonetic alphabets and more. "Dirk Gently" is just amazing in how well it holds up, how fresh it still seems.

In Comics, Harvey Pekar's Cleveland is a beautiful tale of a city I love, James Sturm's America: God, Gold, and Golems includes "The Golem", maybe the best baseball story every told, The Infinite Wait is a great and very personal set of autobiographical tales by Jula Wertz

In video games, Saints Row IV was an astounding melange of super heroism and goofy action, and GTA: San Andreas on iPad was what I wanted GTAV to be more like.

Movies at the Cinema (14)
Oscar Shorts Nominations Live Action, Oscar Shorts Nominations Animated, Lincoln, Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into Darkness, World War Z, Man of Steel, Pacific Rim, The World's End, Riddick, Texts from Bennett, Gravity, Blue is the Warmest Color, Gravity
Movies on Video (26)
Chungking Express, Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist, Melvin Goes to Dinner, Role Models, Porco Rosso, The Cabin in the Woods, Girls Season 2, Total Recall, Zero Dark Thirty, Wreck-It Ralph, The Big Lebowski, Good Will Hunting, The Fountainhead, Guilt Trip, A River Runs Through It, Safety Not Guaranteed, YPF, Scarface, Cloud Atlas, John Carter, Sick & Tired, Hangover 3, The Way, Way Back, Frances Ha, The To Do List, National Lampoon Christmas Vacation
TV Seasons (7)
Parks and Recreation Season 5, The Office Season 9, New Girl Season 2, Modern Family Season 4, Game of Thrones Season 3, The Mindy Project Season 1, Enterprise Season 4
Books (60)
Squirrel seeks Chipmunk, How Music Works, How to Think More About Sex, My Heart Is an Idiot, Seductive Interaction Design, Sacred Hoops, An Unexpected Twist, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, What French Women Know, Euphemania: Our Love Affair with Euphemisms, My Mother's Bible: A Son Discovers Clues to God, Star Wench, Love Is Not Constantly Wondering If You Are Making the Biggest Mistake of Your Life, Can a Robot be Human?, Rules for Virgins, When I Say No, I Feel Guilty, Life is Elsewhere, The Dude and the Zen Master, Off to Be the Wizard, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bible, You, Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking, Intuition Pumps, Higher Than The Hawk, Unmastered: A book on desire, most difficult to tell, Cloud Atlas, You're Not Doing It Right, Half-Life: Reflections from Jerusalem on a Broken Neck, And Baby Makes More, A Cynic's Guide to a Rich and Full Life, Consider Phlebas, Among Murderers: Life after Prison, Very Short Stories: 300 Bite-Size Works of Fiction, Into the Wild, The 7 Secrets of the Prolific, The Spell of the Sensuous, Faith of Cranes, Terrible Nerd, The Old Man and the Sea, Dry, Magical Thinking, Dreamcast Worlds: A Design History, Michrochondria, The Stench of Honolulu: A Tropical Adventure, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, Long Dark Teatime of the Soul, Salmon of Doubt, Quarantine, Hardwiring Happiness, Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy, The Art of Loving, Oh Myy, MindSets, Collected Poems (Jack Gilbert), The Relaxation Response, The Art of Lying Down, The FastDiet, Dogfight, A Slow Year, EarthBound
Comics (26)
Tiny Art Director, Kiki de Montparnasse, Beg the Question, Kingdom Come, "Failure"@Boston Phoenix, Harvey Pekar's Cleveland, Wizzywig, Feyman, Habibi, Empire State, I Thought You'd Be Funnier, All Over the World and other stories, James Sturm's America: God, Gold, and Golems, An Elegy for Amelia Johnson, Be a man, Clumsy, Unlikely, Failure, Asterios Polyp, xkcd time, Siverbow's Basin, Mush: Sled Dogs with Issues, xkcd: time, Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me, The Infinite Wait and other stories, Tag and Blink Were Here
Video Games (11)
New Super Mario Bros U, GTA: Vice City, 400 Years, Driver, Gears of War: Judgement, Bioshock Infinite, Rogue Squadron 2: Rogue Leader, Saints Row IV, GTAV, Peggle Nights, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

"'NO NO NO NO' - the guy who invented folding chairs watching a wrestling match"

January 5, 2014

Why marketers fear the female geek. I like explanations of the world like this one, that refer more to a law of unintended consequences rather than presuming that it's large scale bad intentions that lead to ugly situations, like we have now with the extreme gender-splitting and "hardcore us vs everyone else" culture building.

Blender of Love

January 6, 2014

The other day I posted about those cube robots that could hop up on their own. Turns out a variant of the technology is here already, for iPhone users... http://www.cycloramic.com/ -- you set the thing upright on a flat surface, and it uses the phones built-in vibrate motor to spin around 360 degrees... it's uncanny to see in action.

January 7, 2014

So here is all but the first part of January of my 2013.

I don't know if people will find this interesting or not, but it really let me relive a year that had a lot of ups and downs.
'Daddy, I had a bad dream.'
You blink your eyes and pull up on your elbows. Your clock glows red in the darkness -- it's 3:23. 'Do you want to climb into bed and tell me about it?'
'No, Daddy.'
The oddness of the situation wakes you up more fully. You can barely make out your daughter's pale form in the darkness of your room. 'Why not, sweetie?'
'Because in my dream, when I told you about the dream, the thing wearing Mommy's skin sat up.'
For a moment, you feel paralysed; you can't take your eyes off of your daughter. The covers behind you begin to shift.

december 2013 playlist

Songs I added to my collection in December... ones in red are especially great.
http://www.xkcd.com/1314/ Today's xkcd reminded me of this quote:
Photography isn't about the pictures. Pictures never come out right. It's about the adventure.
Jason the Australian, as we climbed up and over fences on the roof of my mom's 17-story apartment building in NYC.

Re: global warming and the cold weather 'Liberals keep telling me the Titanic is sinking but my side of the ship is 500 feet in the air.'

January 9, 2014

You are what you love, not what loves you.

I didn't learn how to shave from my father either. Which turns out, I think, not to be so strange. One of the the things about manhood I learned from my father is that it's a solitary experience, a land of silences and understatements, a place where a lot of important things have to be learned alone. Whereas womanhood, a lot of the time, is a thing you get to share.
Jennifer Finney Boylan, from "Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders"

But then, this is one of the fundamental contradictions of parenthood-- the unending necessity to teach you children lessons that you yourself still have not learned.
Jennifer Finney Boylan, from "Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders"

http://kirkdev.blogspot.com/ On my devblog, a little ramble about smartwatches, now that I have a Pebble. Trying to decide if I really like that it just does a few things well, or if I'm just saying that...

January 10, 2014

Everyone knows history is written by the winners, but that cliché misses a crucial detail: Over time, the winners are always the progressives. Conservatism can only win in the short term, because society cannot stop evolving (and social evolution inevitably dovetails with the agenda of those who see changes as an abstract positive). It might take seventy years, but it always happens eventually. Serious historians, are, almost without exception, self-style progressives. Radical views-- even the awful ones-- improve with age.
Chuck Klosterman, "I Wear the Black Hat"

January 11, 2014

cancer isn't funny unless it is a funny comic about cancer, like a clown with cancer or something

Clown sittin there in chemo. He gotta pump the stuff into his veins by hand. It honks every time he squeezes bag.

a clown wheezes as he tries to stay involved in a pie fight, but he has to pause for breath. He is a sad clown

'Look on the bright side, now you're thin enough to fit into the clown car' oh man guys I went a little dark there

Clown resolutely shaving off bright red tufts of hair before they fall out to the tune of 'Yakety Sax'

Clown ends call with insurance after finding out his treatments are not covered anymore with sad honk.

'The good news is the tumor has shrunk by 30%.' *happy honk* 'But we still have to operate.' *sad trombone honk*

During surgery a lapel flower squirts water over doctor. 'Clamp that! STAT!'

IV connected to an upside-down seltzer bottle.

one clown tosses a bucket full of meds at his suffering friend clown

(all that via http://mightygodking.com/2013/08/02/really-twitter-is-so-much-better-than-facebook/ )

January 12, 2014

Say it, don't spray it, Colts player Andrew Luck...

The bunny who thinks 'I don't like this garden' is experiencing a thought and not a garden.

January 13, 2014

It says he made us all to be just like him. So if we're dumb, then god is dumb, and maybe even a little ugly on the side.
Frank Zappa

You know, after years of "what are we going to call the first decade of the 2000s once we can't say 'this decade'?" it feels like "the aughts" is winning out.

January 14, 2014

Neat and funny stuff, looks like they made some digital bipedal skeletons with virtual muscles and then let them evolve to learn to walk:

Flexible Muscle-Based Locomotion for Bipedal Creatures from John Goatstream on Vimeo.

FWIW it's worth I've been moving most of my middlebrow food buying from places that have calorie counts clearly displayed. doesn't stop me from being constantly a bit shocked by the calories in most panera bakery goods, though.

January 15, 2014

The Dragon hiding in the USA:

See more map animals here


(1 comment)
Thoughts I've been having lately:

My mom and I were corresponding about an old vacation video I had recently unearthed, and when I talked about my discomfort at being such a graceless, attention-seeking adolescent, my mom wrote:
I so wish you could be more understanding of your adolescent self. That's the real key....you were an adolescent and your actions then belong to that stage of development. You've grown into maturity with so so many positive attributes that were somehow cooked together from those years. Plus, you've carried into adulthood a lot of the creativity and risk taking that many adults leave behind.
I've been thinking a lot about my "creativity and risk taking". In most ways, I'm not much of a risk taker, because I live in this weird fear of being held account to some authority, sometime, somewhere, some voice that will point out "YOU CHOSE POORLY AND NOW THINGS ARE BAD AND YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD". So, I don't proactively choose much. And I don't judge much, or at least not casually, because then I'd be responsible for an opinion that could turn out to be wrong. I guess to the extent I seem like a risk taker, it's in not really caring if I got put into certain categories by other people... I've always had more interesting things to worry about than if I was a dork, that battle was probably already fought and lost. (Or won.)

There's that (often misattributed) quote by Marianne Williamson "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure." that I've been mulling around. The thing is, on an abstract, intellectual level, I know some things are impossible. You can take the series 1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 +.... for as long as you want, even forever, and you will never ever get to 3. The AI research Marvin Minsky mathematically proved (citation needed, couldn't find a good reference) that a type of neural network some other folks were working on would never, ever be able to differentiate certain types of visual patterns.

So how important is the impossibility of things to real life? Should I try to just label it a meaningless, abstract theoretical? Do I use the concept as too much of an excuse to continue my life's pattern of being a local optimizer, preferring to build in small steps rather than make grand sweeping changes?
relevant cartoon from http://tumblr.tastefullyoffensive.com/post/73422091488

On Valencia Street, I look out the window at the hipsters on their fixed-speed bikes. The tight clothes, the tiny hats -- their major struggle as a generation seems to be reducing drag. As if success in life requires being ever ready to slip through a narrow opening.
Scott Hutchins, "A Working Theory of Love".
Cool quote, though I'm a little mixed on hipsters as a term these days.
http://kottke.org/14/01/the-sum-of-all-positive-integers Good lord. 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + .... ends up equalling -(1/12). If you ever wanted to make a philosophical argument that math doesn't describe our world, start here.

January 17, 2014

From a series of long forgotten photographs of the Challenger disaster

January 18, 2014

Interesting. I am now "Dropbox Guru" status with 48 Gb "for the next 24 months". Sounds like a sneaky way to get me to pay in 2016.
http://mentalfloss.com/article/29713/11-insane-features-normal-human-anatomy holy crap we are all bioluminescent?

January 19, 2014

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January 20, 2014

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January 21, 2014

A restless night for me last night, but my dad made a cameo in one of my dreams.

He was standing in a pavilion near a ferris-wheel type ride I had just been on. The dream was half-lucid; I remember kind of arguing with the narrator of dream, trying to mentally persuade the dream powers-that-be to let this scene linger; it felt like it had been a long while since I had seen him.

I went up to him to drink him in visually as much as I could. He had some sort of obscure gadget in front of his face (some of my coworkers are into Google Glass, maybe it was dreamworld parody of that.) I looked at his face closely; his eyes were a little blood shot. He didn't have much to say but I told him again and again how much I miss him, and then those dream powers-that-be had their say and the scene was finished.

The world has changed a lot since the late 1980s, and so have I, and I wish he was around to interact with both.
Map of Europe Showing Literal Chinese Translations for Country Names...

(from 40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World)

January 22, 2014

AVOID your partner fantasising about other people during sex by shouting 'It's ME by the way!' every couple of seconds. @PyrrhicBuddhism

http://wvpublic.org/post/hell-you-west-virginians-raw-response-water-crisis-goes-viral To me, this is what laissez-faire capitalism looks like.
RECREATE the thrill of The Lotto by not guessing someone's phone number and then giving them two quid. (via @Swissss)

Sometimes I wonder if an attitude of presumed (semi-)foiled belligerence would be a better way of dealing with the world. "C'mon world, send some jerk to cut me off? Is that all you got! Pah!" "WELL BOO-HOO my editor crashed and took an hour's work with it" "A drippy nose and fatigue-- NICE TRY! IMMA GET THROUGH THIS"

On the one hand, it seems like a nice way of Murphy's-Law-Jitsu: there's no situation so bad it couldn't be worse, be grateful it's not worst. Real cynics are either pleasantly surprised, or just having their expectations met... maybe I could actually enjoy challenges rather than just seek validation.

But then, I guess this way paranoia lies. Also assuming everything was out to get me might give me an unreasonable chip on my shoulder, assuming everything I got was all my own two feet and my own two fists, make me think I hit a triple when I was born on third base.
http://www.cracked.com/photoplasty_771_39-innocent-gestures-that-will-make-people-overseas-hate-you/ pretty decent list of cultural differences, I always dig knowing about the little differences.

January 23, 2014

I think I like the concept of degrowth, though I'm not sure how to balance it against populations' tendencies to rise.
Man, biggest existential downer game ad ever.

Dance like nobody's watching - psych! We were all watching. where did u learn those dope moves we're insecure now

Inspiring ad about a deaf NFL player now in the Superbowl.

January 24, 2014

My weight, over the past 15 years:

I'm nearing the 190 milestone. I did this a year and a half ago, and I admire my optimism from 2006... oh, I'll just lose 40 lbs then, talk to my doctor.

So I'm proud of myself for reigning this in-- and over the past 3 or 4 months (including the holidays) I've lost 10 lbs, which isn't that impressive but the 5:2 fasting that powered it feels like a sustainable plan.. (It's always social eating that gets me; when I'm in hermit mode, my laziness helps me make better decisions.) Still, even though I'm 35 lbs less than my all time high... somehow it doesn't feel all that different. I can't swear that I feel that much better, or look all that different... it feels like more of a numbers game.

January 25, 2014

Global Game Jam @ MIT kick off last night. Too many dudes w/ beards and glasses. I think I need more interesting glasses.

quote of the moment

There is no such thing as a failed experiment, only experiments with unexpected outcomes.
Buckminster Fuller

seething sea-things

Yesterday I finished up Global Game Jam 2014. Working on a tiny team, we made more of a toy than a game:

Seething Sea-Things
It's entirely encoded in Unity, which was a first for me... the other programmer on the team (and who originally pitched the general idea in the team formation part) Andrew Grant was an excellent and patient teacher-- his tolerance for being interrupted with questions was superb.

January 28, 2014

Thoughtful NY Times piece on why some subcultures seems to be doing well in the USA at the moment. I think a key takeaway is yes, some subcultures do better than others especially as gauged by stuff like median incomes, but there's variability on how a subculture perform over time so no, it's not genetic or "millennia of history" that makes the difference.

good in bed


January 30, 2014

Reasons I love Boston #712: Morning Edition just mentioned that polling suggest 1/3 of Bostoner residents would want the death penalty for the Boston Marathon bomber. Nationwide, the # is like twice that. Both numbers are too high, but the nationwide number is disgusting.

We shouldn't be barbarians. Putting him away in obscurity--and making guesses about the now removed influence of his brother--to ponder what he did is probably a more appropriate punishment than "martyrdom", and the inevitable "SAVE DZOKHAR" campaigns that would result.

January 31, 2014

All the Best Visual Effects Oscar Winners:

amazing to stop and think how long ago some of these movies were made.
I think I've posted similar before, but the "outsiders" view of the Super Bowl is great.

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