2016 March❮❮prevnext❯❯

March 1, 2016


29 Seconds of Februrary! Coolest stuff was probably in the middle when I joined the Bread + Puppet Overtakelessness Circus Band. At the end was some good geek stuff.

february 2016 new music playlist

New (to me) music I added last month! 4 stars in red.
Tuba travel planning. I find it charming , yet pragmatic, that multiple exemptions for musical instruments have been carved out for airline baggage policies.

And it's irregularly shaped to boot. "My hump, my hump, my lovely tuba lump"
Wow-- remember that old computer animation of a fantasy contraption, hundreds of spheres bouncing and playing (percussion, and impact-y strings)? Someone made that a reality!!

It's like a music box*100!

March 3, 2016

If in a hurry skip to 2:35.

OMG gf Melissa is researching how to do home made gummy products. Just look at this picture i want to join pinterest just to have some place extra to put it

Just for my own reference, I made a list of all the Global Game Jam games I've collaborated on and posted it at http://kirk.is/features/ - I put it in descending order of how much I liked the end result, and a weird pattern emerged: Every subsequent odd year I've made my most favorite game, and every subsequent even year I've made my least favorite, and the pattern holds true since 2009!
Which bolds well for 2017, I guess. (Sorry to my teammates this year... I liked our process a lot, but the genre just isn't my cuppa...)
I really like "So" at the start of sentences. It has a kind of narrative or poetic gravitas to it.

March 4, 2016

Random thought I had the other day...

I place a lot of my own self-worth in being valuable to others.

I get a lot more engaged in a group if I feel I'm critical to that group. For example: on summer I started attending Sunday services at my local UU church. Its scraggly, sparsely-attended meeting felt kind of familiar to me, and I thought I might find a home there, take up a common cause. Then fall arrived, and I found out that many New England churches kind of "pause" for the summer, but in autumn the spigots get turned back on full blast. Much of my urge to go to church left me. (Also: lazy Sunday mornings are kind of fantastic.) In part, I felt lost in the crowd. But I also felt like I would be "needed", was unlikely to be critical to the group.

(Another example: switching to tuba from the smaller baritone horn in the sixth grade, because a trumpet player had switched to baritone, and I liked the nature of being the only player of an instrument in a group.)

So I tend to be very reliable with this kind of thing, stalwart, which is a good thing but it comes from two weird places: the first is, maybe I don't feel like I have a ton of intrinsic value. (Conversely: do I feel most people do have intrinsic, part of the human birthright? It's a pretty basic humanistic tenant but I'm not sure it's one that I've perfectly embraced.) The second is: if a group doesn't NEED me, then why should I bother? (I mean, except in the ways that it's entertaining for me.) Life is full of a lot of potential demands for my precious time!

Some of it's just the binary thinking problem - oversimplifying, binary thinking is one of the biggest issues I see in the world, and I'm dismayed that I'm plagued by it too. People don't want a multidimensional way of taking things in, acknowledging that everything has parts that are good, less good, great, terrible - we want a single spectrum of "good" or "bad", and we don't even want a spectrum, we want to say good OR bad.

It muddles my thinking. It's just hard to wrap my head around ideas like "this effort - where I'm useful now - would be ok without me, but different".

(Of course a while ago I wrestled in a variation of this, the "If you 'can't live without me' why aren't you dead yet?" type thing. The best answer I remember coming for that was that - well, they wouldn't DIE die, but you're critical to them being the best selves that they are now, that at least in that sense the person they are now wouldn't be around.)
One part of humanity's moral growth will be the recognition and acceptance of people determining the timeline for their own ends.
Sometimes it's easy to forget that Alewife, the station I arrive at nearly every day to begin my day's journey, is ultimately named after a type of herring.

March 5, 2016

Trump Supporters Aren't Stupid - I think this is a great point, especially the idea that shaming these Trump supporters is about the exact opposite of what we should be doing.

At the risk of ticking off some of my political minded friends; in pursuing my "extremist moderate" stance, I've talked a little more deeply with folks from "the other side". Back in early August I was realizing that this Trump thing had legs, when most of my likeminded folks were still in a scoffing "never happen" mode.

I think Trump would be a bad president, set back stuff on climate, more likely to pursue bellicose policies, have a bit much ignoramus economics, and that the risk factor for really bad stuff would increase. But - and this speaking from a fair amount of cushion and privilege - I don't think it would be the end of our world.

There is so much demonization of the other side, from both sides (not equally, but on both) that politics has become impossible and so we've made room for authoritarianism. Obama is the moslem devil, Bush is a dull-witted buffoon (2000) and a war monger (2004), Clinton is a philandering sleaze bag, Bush Sr. has no balls, Reagan's evil, Carter is a wuss... and a lot worse lately.

I hate to say it, but you got to see the good parts of Trump - for example, harder core Republicans thing he's dropping Democrat lines when he says stuff "we shouldn't let people die in the streets". Or not following the evangelical line that Planned Parenthood is evil incarnate. You need to see these parts, both because of the hopefully less than 50/50 chance he will be our political reality, and also because we need to stop seeing the other as evil. People can be objectively evil, but hardly anyone is the bad guy of their own story at that time, they just have bad assumptions and priorities.

March 6, 2016

I get about a year of use out of custom "Mighty Wallets" by Dinomighty - the material holds up, but the design gets too worn away. So, time for a new wallet, based on two Alien Bill works I commissioned from James Harvey over the years...

blender of love

March 7, 2016

Smarter than average talk about Trump, but maybe because the bar for that is kind of low.
Here is a much simpler explanation for Donald Trump: Republicans have fed the country ideas about decline, betrayal and treason. They have encouraged the forces of anti-intellectualism, obstructionism and populism. They have flirted with bigotry and racism. Trump merely chose to unashamedly embrace all of it, saying plainly what they were hinting at for years. In doing so, he hit a jackpot.
Gingrich's "Contract on with America" was rhetorically brilliant, and it came bundled with the nasty disrespectful spin cycle that we have so much with us today.
Oral History of "The Golden Girls" - A little of the history of a delightful show.
I was worried I was getting old and pedestrian about sex... and you know I pride myself on my sexual openness. What I lack in skill I make up for in EXTREME curiosity.
Hannah on "Girls"

March 8, 2016

I've always like this set of thought experiments, ever since I read about them in "The Mind's I" (edited Daniel Dennett and Douglas Hofstadter) The conclusion I come up with is that the Buddhists are right - our sense of self is a bit of an illusion, and we can only really assert our living in this moment. We're these Hofstadter-ian self-aware "strange loops".

And one day we won't be. And that is tough to deal with. (Buy my comic! -- haven't started publicizing it yet :-D )

March 9, 2016

I may have doomed us all here in New England my bringing in my long ice scraper / brush from the car (the short one with built-in glove and the one inscribed with "F*** THIS" (uncensored) stay, though.)
Nice model of the Solar System.

In some ways, the earth/sun relation seems... I dunno, almost too small. Everything feels too finite.

March 10, 2016

TIL the tuned mass damper of skyscrape Taipai 101 is also the building's mascot!

More damper babies...
I love how Short-Fingered Drumf's kneejerk reaction is the dodge. "Not renouncing the KKK? That ear piece I was using was terrible, I didn't hear!" or "Kids bullying in my name? First I heard of it Cokie Roberts!" Not to mention he leans on groups to only toss him softballs, like Anderson Cooper's recent round of slo-pitch with him. Short fingers, glass jaw.
Amazon is down. If I was less lazy I might act on the fact that amazongeddon.com seems to be free?

use it in good health!


Here's how to save money by making your own thermometer. It's easy and fun--and a good activity for when you're forced to stay in bed!

You will need: Heat the sand and treat it to form glass. Hold the glass over the gas jet and shape it to form a thermometer. Be sure to wear your mask and gloves. Bake the glass in the oven at 350°F until it is done. Insert the proper amount of mercury and seal tightly. Run the thermometer through the printing press and print the numbers and notches on the side. Drink the orange juice. You must be thirsty.

Total cost: $152,000

Use it in good health!
from Jovial Bob Stine and Jane Stine's "The Sick of Being Sick Book".
I had this book as a kid, and reordered it near the end of my recent bout of persistent cold. It's one of those things you don't think of for years, find again, and realize how many details have stuck with you...

Seems like these two were the power couple of kids reading from the 80s up until "Harry Potter" - he was the editor of "Bananas" magazine, and she was editorial director of "Dynamite", a magazine dear to my heart (especially when it had the flip-title Arcade issues) and then he was the author of the "Goosebumps" series...

March 12, 2016

Oh, the endless labor of the intellectual--pouring all this knowledge into the brain through a three-millimeter aperture in the iris.
Sigmund Freud in Irvin D. Yalom's "When Nietzsche Wept"
Pretty great read! I forgot how plagued by physical ailments he was. Also, the flavor of old Vienna is great...

March 13, 2016

The Force Awakens had some rad concept art

Full set at ILM

March 14, 2016


via my new favorite tumblr batlabels

March 15, 2016


whoa, when did the green line start getting expected arrival billboards?
omg why the living holy hell does office take HOURS to install on a new Windows laptop. "We'll be done in just a moment" IS A DAMN LIE

March 16, 2016

To be lonely is to be among men who do not know what you mean.
Isaiah Berlin, "The Decline of Utopian Ideas in the West".
A very provocative article - it's theme is that since there's so much diversity across cultures, the hope of a single unifying Utopia is hopeless. Personally I'm not sure if a Utopia would need to be so homogenous and all-encompassing as he says, and also I think the primary issue is getting rid of "cheaters" - since people tend to rate the circumstance of their lives relative to their neighbors and not in a more objective way, keeping people on track to a greater good is tricky!

March 17, 2016

Last night I played at Aeronaut Brewery in Somerville... they're trying to improve their zoning situation, though last night's hearing got postponed we had a mini-rally anyway.

Man, it's tough to look cool playing a tuba. Never sure of the best place to put my other hand. (and at one point I'm sneaking in a Second of the Day...) Still, some great footage.
Irvin D. Yalom's "When Nietzsche Wept", spoken by the title character:
Dying is hard. I've always felt the final reward of the dead is to die no more!
The enemies of truth are not lies, but convictions!
Maybe, Josef, Living safely is dangerous. Dangerous and deadly.
I've always believed, Josef, that we are more in love with desire than with the desired!
A very solid book, I think it's a great introduction to Nietzsche's view of the world, especially as lived through his own suffering, as well as early psychotherapy.

March 18, 2016

I think I was googling "what to do with other hand when playing sousaphone"

http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=2953 -- I really liked this comic and the 2 that came after it, showing kind of amusing dark sides to the dream of 'immortality'...

March 19, 2016


March 20, 2016


No offense to (the?) Charm City, but my weekend would be somewhat better if it was not ending with a flight to Baltimore.
Waiting at an airport bar, reading, looking up at a March Madness game- oh, highlights, just the baskets. It's funny how you can tell which team is leading, by seeing which teams scores they're replaying- the other team has almost always made as many baskets, but not being a part of the easy narrative they're shuffled aside.

March 21, 2016

Since well before I set loose my robots, we've been a binary race. We mimic the patterns of our computers, training our brains toward yeses and nos, endless series of zeros and ones. We've lost confidence in our own minds.
Robot inventor Stephen R. Chinn in Louisa Hall's "Speak".
It echoes a theme that's been on my mind of late, how we are trying to reduce things in the world from their glorious multiplicity to a single line of "worth" and then further put that to the boolean values "good" and "bad".
Melissa is using my old iPad, after setting stuff up for her I used Photo Booth and gave her a special custom wallpaper.... it had the desired time bomb effect when she went to use it later

March 22, 2016

As for the end of religion, I defer to you on this score. But where do you fall on the issue of whether only human beings can have souls? To me, it seems chauvinistic. Can we really deny even the possibility that an animal might have a soul? And if we're denying some organisms souls, what's to keep us from denying the souls of some select human beings? All this picking and choosing who gets a soul seems to me the root of some of our greatest evils, so I'm not sure why we don't just give up and assume everyone and everything has a soul, unless it can be proven otherwise. That seems the safest approach.
Alan Turing in Louisa Hall's "Speak: A Novel"

March 23, 2016

Capitalism good or ill is the river in which we sink or swim and stocks the supermarket.
via "The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History"- the essay, and its view of making art in a money based society, is said to be an influence on Matt Groening. (I also liked "Waiting for art talent scouts? There are no art talent scouts. Face it, no one will seek you out. No one gives a shit.")

March 24, 2016

Would you tell Matt Groening that he doesn't know his ass from third grade.
Sam Simon not speaking to Matt Groening via Brian Roberts, in "The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History".
I kind of really like this insult, should store it away for future use.
Explanations of the backgrounds of some unix commands.
P.T. Barnum's Art of Money Getting.
Thoughtful comments from RuPaul

--via Tumblr Gets Deep

March 25, 2016

Donald Trump sounds like a character Walt Disney would have invented...who was actually a fart that could talk.

I think you could replace "idiots" with "nearly anyone".
On Philly's "Jawn". I lived there for my first three months, not enough to internalize the linguistic wonder that is "Jawn"

March 26, 2016

The overarching point is that Sam Simon deserves more credit than he gets, but authorship is more involved than who had what idea, who wrote what joke, and who drew which character. As a wise magazine editor once explained to me, 'idea is spelled with a small "i".'
John Ortved, "The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History"

Nice guys finish first. If you don't know that, then you don't know where the finish line is.

Cool Star Wars theory of the week: Rey is a Palpatine. Be sure to check the link for exploring the John Williams element.
Feeling crafty...making some polka dot wear for School of HONK's trip to Austin...

March 27, 2016

Guy in a suit: I'm an idea man.

Guy on mushrooms: I'm an idea, man.
The nice thing about Twitter is 100 tweets isn't that much of a time commitment... good stuff.
I was kind of worried that my new wireless headphones would make me look like Lando Calrissian's buddy Lobot. Now I'm more worried it took me this long to realize this taciturn cyborg's name is probably a reference to "lobotomy".

from erica jong's 'fear of flying'

I know some good marriages. Second marriages mostly. Marriages where both people have outgrown the bullshit of me-Tarzan, you-Jane and are just trying to get through their days by helping each other, being good to each other, doing the chores as they come up and not worrying too much about who does what. Some men reach that delightfully relaxed state of affairs about age forty or after a couple of divorces. Maybe marriages are best in middle age. When all the nonsense falls away and you realize you have to love one another because you're going to die anyway.
Bennett goes into long silences too. I'd almost rather he contradicted himself, but he's too perfect. He won't commit himself to a statement unless he's sure it's definitive. You can't live that way-- trying to be definitive all the time-- death's definitive.
Then I really began to cry. In long awful sobs. "Please, please, forgive me," I pleaded. (Executioner asks condemned's forgiveness before the ax falls.)

"You don't need forgiveness," he snapped. He began throwing his things into a suitcase we had gotten as a wedding present from the friend who'd introduced us. A long and happy marriage. Many travels down the road of life.

Had I engineered this whole scene just for the intensity of it? Never had I loved him more. Never had I longed to stay with him more. Was that why I had to go? Why didn't he say "Stay, stay-- I love you"? He didn't.

"I can't stay in this room anymore without you," he said, dumping guidebooks and all sorts of junk into his suitcase. We went downstairs together, lugging our suitcases. At the desk, we lingered, paying the bill. Adrian was waiting outside. If only he'd go! But he waited. Bennett wanted to know if I had traveler's checks and my American Express card. Was I all right? He was trying to say "Stay, I love you." This was his way of saying it, but I was so bewitched that I read it to mean "Go!"

But then the fantasy exploded. It burst like the bubble it was. I thought of all those mornings in New York when I had wakened with my husband and felt just as lonely. All those lonely mornings we stared at each other across the orange juice and across the coffee cups. All those lonely moments measured out in coffee spoons, in laundry bills, in used toilet paper rolls, in dirty dishes, in broken plates, in canceled checks, in empty Scotch bottles. Marriage could be lonely too. Marriage could be desolate.
"Life has no plot" is one of my favorite lines.
--It's been a while since I've enjoyed a novel as much as I enjoyed this one. There was so much emotion that seemed familiar to me, or at least having witnessed, but other parts seemed weird and removed as well, the distance in the eras. Also, with my newfound interesting in learning what "existentialism" means in practice; here for the main character and her lover it seems more conflated with a kind of nihilism than I would have expected.

March 29, 2016

One other line from "Fear of Flying" has stuck in my head, and that's Adrian saying "Courage is the first principle" as he cajoles Isadora into running away with him.

(It's odd because a paragraph later she's cribbing Joyce that she knows he won't recognize because he's "illiterate", but their definition seems to be closer to "not literary" than not well educated. I think he might be citing Aristotle, actually, the quote sometimes given as "Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others." (Some translations give 'virtues' for 'qualities'))

I'm not crazy about how the character is using that idea in a bullying way, but as I make my way through daily life, and try to make solid decisions and control my flinching response at work, I think there's something to courage being so central. It's kind of like having a back muscle in good working order; those times when my own back is in spasms, I ain't doing much of anything good out in this physical world.

(And as always, courage is by no means the absence of fear, but rising up to meet it and shoulder it aside and do what needs to be done anyway.)
Linify is a pretty sweet art modification program:
(via Gizmodo where they explain a bit about how it works)
To do this, Hyrule must become more indifferent to the player. It must aspire to ignore Link. Zelda has so far followed a spirit of indulgence in its loving details, a carefully crafted adventure that reeks of quality and just-for-you-ness. But a world is not for you. A world needs a substance, an independence, a sense that it doesn't just disappear when you turn around (even if it kinda does). It needs architecture, not level design with themed wallpaper, and environments with their own ecosystems (which were doing just fine before you showed up). Every location can't be plagued with false crises only you can solve, grist for the storymill.
I got this from Derek Yu's Bossfight book about his own game "Spelunky", a brief, thoughtful work. I also liked his Miyamoto quote: "A good idea is something that does not solve just one single problem, but rather can solve multiple problems at once."

Anyway, Thompson's point resonates so deeply with me. It's certainly not the only way a game can be, but the ones that go out of their way to put the story (if any) in a world that feels like it would be there anyway cut some of the deepest places in this gamer's heart. To quote the game Soul Calibur, "The winds blew and the clouds moved on as if they were oblivious to their mortal plight."
The Spelunky book mentions my friend Darius' spelunkyGen, a chrome-based tool that makes its own Spelunky levels, along with an explanation of the process.
I've thought about Gwen Stefani being older than Ted Cruz every day since I heard that information.

March 30, 2016

Slate on Why conservatives are talking about struggling white people the way they usually talk about black people. I know it's too easy for me to think of neocons as cackling villains, but the whole big business / fundamentalist 'solid south' white coalition has bugged me for a long while; Trump's say-anything populism has driven a wedge in the that, and this article points to how some of that kind of business conservative might start sounding if they stop thinking they can no longer use pretending to care about fundie issues (like anti-gay-rights and anti-abortion) to keep those voters on their side.
The love child of Nietzsche and Pollyanna.

March 31, 2016

Birthday Portrait from Housemate Miller, who is taking commissions!

Thanks for all the birthday wishes! I am now 42, so I assume a deeper understanding of life the universe and everything will be forthcoming, thanks Douglas Adams.

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