2015 March❮❮prevnext❯❯

March 1, 2015

One Second Everyday. Highlights include the city's giant snow piles on the 7th, R​'s fire in snow pit on the 21st, Keytar Bear on the 23rd, Dr. John on the 25th (and Sarah Morrow rockin' the trombone and generally leading) and ends with snow tubing...

Making the rounds...

february 2015 new song playlist

February was a pleasingly eclectic month for my new music playlist. 4-stars in red.

Jazz and Instrumental Alt Modern Hiphop / Club

March 3, 2015

Hadn't thought of this skit for a long time... wish the laugh track wasn't so hamfisted, though...

the colour of not-magic

From Pratchett, Stewart, and Cohen, "The Science of Discworld":
This was turning out to be the longest winter in living memory - so long, in fact, that living memory itself was being shortened as some of the older citizens succumbed.
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'

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.

March 5, 2015

The best knock-knock was made by me. It goes: 'Knock-knock. Who's there? A gang of vigilantes armed with machine guns, leather straps and brass knuckles to thump the breath out of anybody who persists in playing this blame fool knock-knock game.'
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"

March 6, 2015

TIL spelling "socks" letter by letter sounds like spanish for it is what it is. (eso si que es). Almost. Never let facts get in the way of a good bilingual pun.
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
  1. Pyramid Schemes
  2. Joyriding
  3. Public mischief
  4. Hooliganism
  5. Criminal vampirism
...is that last one a thing?

nuh-uh, didn't say the magic word!

I 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'.
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.
(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.")

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

March 8, 2015

I enjoyed this Vine "Hype Man Duties"

instagram: @sayhop , Mar 2, 2015
It's nearly seven, and still light out! We've survived the snow, we've made it through the dark. Onward!

March 9, 2015

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.

March 10, 2015

Good advice for better friendlier interactions with people. They like me! They really really li-- well, close enough.

(Loved "striving for excellence like a moth beating itself to death on the side of a lightbulb" for a long time.)

March 11, 2015

Did one do as one intended? And were people glad one lived?
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,( tapping left recommendation button, center button, middle button)
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

March 12, 2015

You can do what you want, but you can't want what you want.

RIP Terry Pratchett. What a mind, and what a heart.

March 13, 2015

Faiths, of course, do get along . But they get along because of the hammering they have taken at the hands of science, material development and better education. They get along because of wise people within them who recognise the commonality of humanity. Where there are too few wise people, you get Northern Ireland. If you are lucky.
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.

mm mmm time for pi!

3/14/15 9:26....

March 15, 2015

Tongue is a tentacle. We have a tentacle in our mouth.

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.

but... monkey!

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:
it 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.)

I do like Japanese 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...
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.

March 17, 2015

I've gotten some positive response to my "optimistic realism" post the other day. In terms of thinking of better names for it I realized I could think of it as SNAFU ≠ FUBAR; Situation Normal is ok, and doesn't mean things will inexorably go FUBAR.

March 18, 2015

Hmm, I'm surprised "Have you tried 'not saying things'" has no google juice, nor "Have you considered 'not saying things'" (without being followed by 'that') I thought it was advice I heard in the form of a quote somewhere, and is a suggestion I'm trying to apply right now.

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.

March 19, 2015

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.

March 20, 2015

Made the rounds, but amazing:

March 21, 2015

via Bill the Splut...

Man, that's kind of wild!
I love the logo of the bad guys' organization...

March 22, 2015

High school is like a free trial on education and then once you've graduated they say, "Now if you wanna continue, pay $50,000."

March 23, 2015

http://jpporchfest.org/ - JP Porchfest Registration opens today! I'm pleased with how my design for the frontpage worked out...

March 24, 2015

THe production values really sell this video of Fritz, the non-catching dog... I laughed!

March 25, 2015

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...

March 26, 2015

Yesterday JP Honk was at the head of a march to the statehouse because Arts Matter

March 27, 2015

...let us keep in mind the basic governing philosophy of The Brotherhood, as handsomely summarized in these words: we believe in healthy, hearty laughter -- at the expense of the whole human race, if needs be. Needs be.
H. Allen Smith, Rude Jokes, 1970

March 28, 2015

Remember how you used to be able to get a new game, plug it into the cartridge slot, and play? And not like wait for a 20 Gb install to disk and another 18 Gb download? Because Xbox sure don't.

March 29, 2015

Pixar's Ed Catmull likes to say that since you can't control the luck itself, which is bound to come your way for better and for worse, what matters is your state of preparedness to deal with it.
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


this space left unintentionally blank (2019 UPDATE)

March 31, 2015

I guess a man's entitled to make a fool of himself if he's ready to pay the cost.
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!

2015 March❮❮prevnext❯❯