Making the rounds...
March 2, 2015February was a pleasingly eclectic month for my new music playlist. 4-stars in red.
Jazz and Instrumental
- All of Me (Frank Sinatra) My band started playing this song, and I really love it. Sinatra's version stood out when I looked for a cover.
- My Sweet Hunk O' Trash (Billie Holiday / Louis Armstrong) Dr. John covered this one with his musical guest, the original is also a delight.
- Heart of Glass (The Puppini Sisters) A bit brighter and cheerier than the similiar Nouvelle Vague cover.
- Edmontosaurus (Paul Leonard-Morgan) Some sports commercial had this... AMAZING big acoustic dinosaur picture.
- Animals (Martin Garrix) Not many electronic instrumentals make it onto my play list... love the tick tock sound.
- Take Me to Church (Hozier) Sacred, Profane, etc.
- Shiver (Lucy Rose) Sweet, gentle song that closed an episode of Girls.
- Unconditional Rebel (siska) Such an amazing video...
- The a Team (Ed Sheeran) Another kind of calming song.
- Can't Hold Us (feat. Ray Dalton) (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis) When Hunter and I heard this demoing headphones at Target, I thought it was Pitbull. Really cool sound though.
- Remember the Name (Fort Minor) Rap.
- Yeah! (feat. Lil Jon & Ludacris) (Usher) Surprised I hadn't grabbed this earlier.
- Lose Control (Missy Elliott ft. Ciara & Fat Man Scoop) I hadn't been forewarned of Missy Elliot's guest appearance at the Superbowl Halftime, and it was a serious delight.
"As Joni Mitchell sang at Woodstock: 'We Are Stardust". Scientists like quoting this line, because it sounds as though they were young once."
"Trying to find any deep meaning to events was like trying to find reflections in a mirror: you always succeeded, but you didn't learn anything new."
"Science certainly does not claim to get things right, but it has a good record of ruling out ways to get things wrong."
"All religions are true, for a given value of 'truth'."
--Pratchett, Stewart, and Cohen, "The Science of Discworld"
"We are the curators of our own lives. Curators make choices. Like when I was 21, 22 years old, I was selling vacuum cleaners, and probably making $125 to $150 a week. But when an opportunity came along to act in a play in Hollywood making $50 a week, I took it readily. That's a curator's choice. I felt my selling vacuum cleaners wouldn't do anything for me as an artist."
--Leonard Nimoy, http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/tv/a33392/leonard-nimoy-what-ive-learned/
--Heywood Hale Broun, NPR's Secret History of the Knock-Knock. (Here are my favorite knock-knocks)
http://kirk.is/java - For the first time in years, maybe, I went through the rigamarole of re-enabling Java applets on my OSX, and I'm kind of impressed by the creativity my old self put into this. I should definitely get to porting some of these, either to html5 (still need to get a good physics library) or maybe Apple Spritekit-- or maybe one of those "JavaVM on IOS" things...
A Russian novelist in NYC watches 7 Days of Russian TV. "Out of My Mouth Comes Unimpeachable Manly Truth"
http://www.vulture.com/2015/02/best-of-haruki-murakami-advice-column.html -- heh.
Top Five Crimes Based on How Awesome Their Name Sounds Alone
- Pyramid Schemes
- Public mischief
- Criminal vampirism
--Dinosaur Comics... is that last one a thing?
March 7, 2015I decided to tear directly into the second Second "Science of Discworld" book when I realized it deals heavily with matters of mind and consciousness. It also talks about magic (here, in the Arthur C Clarke "indistinguishable from sufficiently advanced technology" sense) but ties in "magical" technology with the poor understanding of cause and effect we all tend to have as children:
Parents and carers are always transmuting the child's expressed desires into actions and objects, from food appearing on the table when the child is hungry to toys and other birthday and Christmas gifts. We surround these simple verbal requests with 'magical' ritual. We require the spell to begin with 'please', and its execution to be recognised by 'thank you'.(Later they point out that you don't need high technology to continue this "making wishes" form of life, just lots of money -- "Feudal societies have a baronial class, who are in many respects allowed to remain in their nursery personas by being surrounded by servants and slaves and other parent-surrogates.")
Coming home in the car and clicking the garage open, clicking the infrared remote to open or lock the car, changing TV channels - even switching on the light by the wall switch - are just that kind of magic. Unlike our Victorian forebears, we like to hide the machinery and pretend it's not there. So Clarke's dictum is not at all surprising. What it means is that this ape keeps trying, with incredible ingenuity, to get back into the nursery, when everything was done for it.
I liked the reminder that the Victorians liked to expose the workings and fine engineering cleverness. But more than that, I was struck with how my preferences in software development are Victorian, in that sense. I prefer systems that "show their work" and expose the plumbing. That doesn't seem to be the dominant trend in the industry, however. In the late-90s, early-00s it was "Unix vs Microsoft" in development style, the latter giving you very powerful toolsets that a developer might not ever quite understand the flow of. Things "just worked" and coder life was productive and grand. Or they didn't, and coder life was misery and suffering. That Microsoft style seems to be seeping more and more into the stack that is still more at home on Unix-like systems, despite the culture those systems came from, the culture of relatively easy to understand and decoupled parts communicating, ideally via pipes.
There's a reductio ad absurdum of this, of course, that says why should I be uncomfortable with this kind of abstraction in technology when I accept so many others underneath it? I took some elementary assembly language in college, and even programmed an Atari game... but the amount of abstraction embedded in this laptop I'm writing this on is unfathomable. Just thinking about what's going on to get pixels glowing on the screen, the number of interlocked electronic subsystems in constant communication, a weird dance of impulse and intent... but, it's pretty reliable! It's acceptable to me because it hardly ever fails in subtle ways - or at all, for that matter. This is in contrast to these newer "framework of the months" for software development... if I'm coding with my preferred Imperative style of simple code, libraries for the tough stuff, stack traces that make sense... I know I can do pretty much anything a browser can allow. When using one of these magical frameworks, I have to see if the framework permits it, or if I'll be given the extra burden of working around it to meet the specification.
But, I persevere. Because these tools are powerful, and when I take enough time to really learn and get to know a toolkit, I'm empowered. Also, because my real goals are to do make interesting things, and a lot of the people with interesting things for me to make (and the budgets to pay me to make them) love these toolkits, and I want to be easy to work with.
The book extends some related ideas that to my ear starts leaning to Taoism:
A Spinozan view of child development sees the opposite of wish-fulfilment. There are rules, constraints, that limit what we can do. The child learns, as she grows, to modify her plans as she perceives more of the rules. Initially, she might attempt to cross the room assuming that the chair is not an obstacle; when it doesn't move out of her way, she will feel frustration , a 'passion'. And throws a paddy. Later, as she constructs her path to avoid the chair, more of her plans will peaceably, and successfully, come to fruition. As she grows and learns more of the rules - God's Will or the warp and woof of universal causation - this progressive success will produce a calm acceptance of constraints: peace rather than passion.(I had to confirm I knew what "throwing a paddy" meant from context... and like I feared, it's a bit racist.)
I hadn't heard as much about Spinoza in a while, I think I dig that kind of pantheistic outlook.
march blender of love
It's nearly seven, and still light out! We've survived the snow, we've made it through the dark. Onward! Yeesh. Miami is only 6 feet above sea level and gonna be swamped, and under climate skeptic Rick Scott, even writing "climate change" was discouraged or even forbidden.
I believe the Republicans will do the most to make this country what it once was: an arctic wilderness. better friendlier interactions with people. They like me! They really really li-- well, close enough.
--L. Rob Hubbard's test for a life well lived. (No, I'm not going to become a Scientologist, I just saw this quote on Cracked's 16 Most Alarming Dating Site Profiles Possible and liked it.)
this is what my iPhone thinks I sound like, left side center side middle side:
I love you so much fun and I have to be a good day to be a good time to get a new one
the fact I can see it as an excuse for the next few weeks of a sudden it was the best of the year and I don't think that I have a great way of the year
I'm at a time when you are so much for a long way in hell of an old lady at my job to do that in my room for a long way in hell
--Schopenhauer, quoted in this quora: http://www.quora.com/Does-free-will-exist
RIP Terry Pratchett. What a mind, and what a heart.
--Pratchett et al, "The Globe: The Science of Discworld II". I think there are some exceptions to this but there's too much faith and not enough compassion.
March 14, 20153/14/15 9:26....
Recently a conversation with Derek gave me the idea of approaching the world with a kind of cheerful pessimism- assume that "a bit screwed up and annoying" is kind of the natural state of the universe, that things WILL be messed up, but generally not irretrievably so, and then be extra cheerful when the dice roll your way. "Lousy minor setbacks" that could otherwise be absolutely and inappropriately infuriating become almost soothing reminders that Murphy's in His Heaven and all's right, or wrong in the right way, with the world. infinite toys. I remember bringing a bunch of the bubble wrap back from Japan.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLH8BX9-z5w shameless pandering for people to go to youtube and Thumbs Up this video I have a cameo in! A friend is campaigning to be a playtester for Exploding Kittens, a new game tied in with The Oatmeal...
Follow up to yesterday's note on "expecting to be annoyed"... on FB David H said the attitude might be called a form of "realist optimism" and Tim K wrote:
t could also be seen as a sort of Zen-like acceptance. Truthfully, I think the real wisdom of not allowing oneself to be stressed by or overly focused on things outside one's ability to control or influence is an element of just about any philosophical branch. It's sort of one of those universal truths, that is expressed differently in different contexts, but boils down to the same thing in the end.
My response was
Tim you're right that it's a fairly common sentiment, but some of the nuance is important. For instance I dig neo-stoicism (see http://kirk.is/2010/11/10/ ) over Zen because of how it doesn't discourage embracing of the pleasant (unlike Zen's encouragement to detach from positive and negative-- and usual disclaimers about my understanding of Zen apply)
In this case, it's the setting of expectations that is useful for my temperament, in a way mere acceptance in real time doesn't. Lower parts of my intellect get flustered and worried when things go wrong, and I become so aware of "THIS COULD BE OTHERWISE AND THAT WOULD BE BETTER FOR ME" that I'm prone to immature outbursts of anger. (Homer Simpson's stuck-in-traffic "Lousy Minor Setback! THIS WORLD SUCKS!" sums it up pretty well.)
With "mere acceptance", I can quickly quell the outburst, but it's more effective to have prepped the landscape with the expectation that things will utterly fail to live up to my self-centered ideal for them.
Just like Homer Simpson provides a good model for the rage, Garry Gergich from Parks & Recreation is a good model for calm acceptance of terrible and stupid things happening to one. (To borrow TV Trope's term, he's the Butt Monkey of the show, but then the writers make it up to the character by giving him an amazing wife and family situation.)
So we got the record for snow (funny, I remember 92-93, my freshman year, a bit more strongly than the 95-96 previous record holder, even though 92-93 is only like 7th on the list now) but the more amazing bit was how much of that was in one month. But of course, Capracotta Italy is making us look like rookies.
We're going to be amazed at how calm and gentle our environment was for us, in retrospect.
"I think dead is really a thing just like alive except you have less choices to make."
--Yvonne "Batgirl" Craig, in this interview
I think my inner child is reluctant to give up any chance to say something that shows off, and/or that might miss "increasing his value among others by being a source of 'interesting' points". On the one hand that's obviously a flawed or at least incomplete strategy. On the other, I have to get over my fear that someone how mending my ways is not being true to myself.
http://www.printfreegraphpaper.com/ Today I realized that if one has a need for a small amount of graph paper, and one has access to the Internet and a stocked printer, one no longer has a need for a small amount of graph paper. http://stuff.alienbill.com/problems/ - I made an interactive toy to sketch out an idea I have for a widget (expressing that "Problems (are) Inevitable / Problems (are) Soluble" mantra) that I'd like to get 3D printed or otherwise made tangible...
(the way the carved out squares show up as boxes rather than just blank is a kind of 'happy accident', not sure if they should be the way for the real piece or not... wdyt?)
It was fun playing with homemade, graph-paper fonts again.
Wow, frozen banana has a terrific, custard-like texture, all by itself.
Peel it before freezing is the one trick to it.
"QA Engineer walks into a bar. Orders a beer. Orders 0 beers. Orders 999999999 beers. Orders a lizard. Orders -1 beers. Orders a sfdeljknesv."
Bill the Splut...
Man, that's kind of wild!
I love the logo of the bad guys' organization...
--http://just-shower-thoughts.tumblr.com/ http://jpporchfest.org/ - JP Porchfest Registration opens today! I'm pleased with how my design for the frontpage worked out...
Phone # portability at risk... I think the article overstates the risk to consumers, but it's a striking reminder of how much our phone number has been tied to our identity. It's like the SSN that it's ok for people (except spammers) to know.
Some folks rented a plane to get the best view of the March 20 eclipse...
--H. Allen Smith, Rude Jokes, 1970
--Schlender / Tetzeli, "Becoming Steve Jobs"
"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything-- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
--Steve Jobs' Commencement Address to Stanford University
--Malcolm X, quoted in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar conversion to Islam story. For me it's interesting that his pursuit of faith was following that which seemed culturally correct, not supernaturally true. Which is still the thing my inner 14-year-old doesn't get; embracing faith kind of for its own sake, looking for Truth and (apparently) not sweating if it's truth.
Anyway, the Malcolm X quote seems a pretty good one for my birthday, and my life in general.
I'm grateful for every good birthday wish, but so far the one from my fellow-Atari-2600 collaborator Oliver has taken the cake!