2016 April❮❮prevnext❯❯

march 2016 new music playlist

A middling-fair month for finding music - no 4 stars. Sorted in inverse "you gotta hear (or see) this!"
Seriously amazing Empire-centric, 80s-anime-style short Star Wars battle drawn and animated weekends over 4 years by one fan...

April 2, 2016

Pretty good month for One Second Everyday! I like how halfway through on the 15th my Aunt Susan says "And then..." to set up the second half, and then Celtics Dunk Team footage on the 23rd was fun. (Also two different Cora events, the Bubbles on the 12th were hecka cute)

April 3, 2016

That Arroz con Leche Popsicle, from an ice cream truck here in Austin was the best ice cream thing I've had in a year. Also the weather here is a bit better than Boston today.

kulfi cardamom popsicles from the Bollywood movie place are a close second.

April 4, 2016

Man, this Coke Zero tastes so much better in Texas - maybe it's like the Mexico Coca-Cola with real cane sugar, just a better level of Phenylketonurics...

April 5, 2016

Landed. From swimming in Barton Springs Pool to help with 80 degree weather to.... Boston.

The "locker room" at Barton Springs was open to the sky. It reminded me that I really haven't been naked outside much at all, especially in the sunlight.

Most importantly, a Dummies book assumes the reader is starting with zero knowledge on the topic.
I've always appreciated the series in almost exactly those terms.
How was my weekend at HONK!TX in Austin? Like this...

The Grand Finale at Pan Am Park. Track Suit at HonkTx #honktx

Posted by Debbie Fehrenkamp on Monday, April 4, 2016

scenes from around the edges of HONK!TX


April 7, 2016

all-day meeting notes...

April 8, 2016

Today's 22/23/24 if you didn't know.

The Price is Right Theme 800% Slower:

"Slowed down 800%, this song becomes an ambient, lush and soothing experience"
My slow plan of self-improvement continues. (Sometimes I try to remember if I engaged in similar plans in my 20s and 30s. I should check my old blog rambles and see.)

Recently I started embracing "Amor Fati", love of ones fate, embracing the circumstance because - regardless if you can dig up a silver-lining for it or not - it IS The Current Circumstance, there is no other. This is painful for us to believe, because or imaginative brains are SO GOOD at thinking up hypothetical alternate realities-- realities much like this one, but a bit nicer: without this badly designed redlight holding us back, without this T pass lost, without this toe stubbed. Those other realities simply don't exist, and we must learn to love what actually does, because it does. ("People don't think it be like it is, but it do.")

In practice, though, it's not always easy to dredge up that feeling of "Amor" fast enough, so I've been exploring supplementary models. My current favorite has to do with an illformed memory of a friend describing someone else: "he's just like, you know, 'super chill'?" Some how I find that phrasing weirdly evocative, despite its lack of detail. I can think of various tropes and characters from literature that exemplify that.

I doubt that "Super chill" is a phrase that most friends would use to describe me, but I still, I would like to be more unflappable, taking things more little pitfalls in stride. In theory I have enough existential philosophy to back that...("in theory, Communism works. In theory.") But mostly it's a model I can quickly apply - I feel a flash of anger or fear, I think "what would this like, super-chill guy do?" and try to be that. There's still that flash of negative emotion of course, but maybe in time that can be quelled a bit, much like my libido seems to have to get pre-approval before it can make me even 'feel' anything...

When I think about self-improvement like this, I always have a note of caution. There's the thought that being uptight and anxious may have served me well over the years, given me a backbone to not give into more of my baser instincts; maybe my ingrained, apocalyptic fear of eternal hellfire has done me a service, keeping a bit closer to the straight-n-narrow. But now, at 42, I think I'll be ok. And there's always the hope that I might be even better, that if I can shake my flinchy fear about "well what if this next technical bit doesn't work out and I don't know how to fix it???" I can achieve more and more interesting things.

Also, I wouldn't want "super chill" to swamp my general happiness and enthusiasm for things I like... I don't think they're incompatible, though there's some creative tension there.
TIL (reading an Updike novel) that, shortly before the assassination, JFK and Jackie had a son, but who died after 2 days after being born premature.

I'm not sure what feels weirder to me; not having heads of this or just the idea of having a child while being president.

Three bits from John Swartzwelder's "How I Conquered Your Planet"

The applicants who showed up weren't acceptable. Either they were too honest, too clumsy (I've still got a telephone receiver in my back somewhere), or they didn't understand how a phone worked and would just sit there and listen to it ring until we both started to die.
He looked at me like I was stupid. Why do people always look at me like that?
"Anyway," I explained, "our atomic bombs are for peaceful purposes."
"Such as?"
"Uh... blowing up... wars."
Swartzwelder's claim to fame is writing episodes of the Simpsons than anyone else (59). His books are comic sci fi / noir detective blends about hapless (or maybe some hap? It's hard to tell) private detective Frank Burly. It's very broad comedy, stuff that would probably be hard to translate into video, just because some of the jokes have that "Bob+Ray"-esque "I mean, that wouldn't work in real life right?" aspect that's better heard than seen.

April 10, 2016

Your thoughts are not your own in a hospital; your thoughts belong a little bit to the nurse who is coming to check something.
Katie Roiphe , "The Violet Hour: Great Writers at the End".

April 11, 2016

When in 1904 Lou Andreas-Salomé wrote a floridly sentimental poem about how she would like to live a thousand years, even if those years contained nothing but pain, Freud commented wryly, 'One cold in the head would prevent me from having that wish.'
Katie Roiphe, "The Violet Hour: Great Writers at the End "

I think this video's suggestion of Adult Swim as the MTV of a later generation is about right:

April 12, 2016

What makes human beings unique? Some say it's language or tools. Others say it's logical reasoning. They obviously haven't met many humans.

Three pennies keep a large electric light bulb burning all night, and they buy about thirty thousand additions or subtractions or other elementary computations at current large-computer rates (omitting overhead, communication, and programming expense). This is enough computation to balance a large number of monthly bank statements, and at face value seems to compare very favorably with the equivalent amount of electricity. Furthermore, the cost of computation has been decreasing steadily, whereas electric rates have been stable for over twenty years now.
The modeling of computation as a commodity or utility is intriguing; it didn't focus enough on the personal computer (or specialized devices we now enjoy) but comparing it to "The Cloud" and the rent-a-server style services of today is a fun exercise.
The harsh truth about speed reading... I'm no "speed-reader", but I've always read quickly, and attribute a big chunk of my academic success to that - especially for standardized tests. But I've come to admit, there's a big aspect of it that's just a gift for skimming, and bouncing back to the tough bits. (When I loose that go back "what was that part in the middle again?" capability, like when someone is spelling a name or password for me out loud, I am comically hopeless and inept.)

And I don't know what's the cart and what's the horse, but that kind of "get the gist" living permeates so many parts of my life, from how I learn technical things to how I appreciate music. I'm kind of anti-nuance; the world is so full of things that are "interesting" in and of their own right, things that are novel and creative and show or make some unique aspect of the universe (or rather, show that aspect in a usefully unique way) that I'm impatient with forms that require long-form close attention, and/or keeping lots of things sorted in my head. My buddy Tom Kermode coined the neologism "cruxian", a term I love- I want to optimize for the crux of the issue and the subtleties have to watch out for themselves.

Often time that "crux" is "how things interact". I don't care so much about the interior lives of things; people and computer objects alike should be judged on what they do, not what you think they "are". (Conversely, from a Bayesian analysis point of view, what they "are" will influence what they are likely to "do", so getting a handle on what they "are" is better than relying on individual observations of their action.)

Unfortunately too often faces and names fall into that bucket of "less important" nuance, and I think it's the main factor in my face- blindess (or at least face-myopia).

Get the gist?

April 13, 2016

Piet was by profession a builder, in love with snug right-angled things
John Updike, "Couples"

Harold believed that beauty was what happened between people, was in a sense the trace of what had happened, so he in truth found her, though minutely creased and puckered and sagging, more beautiful than the unused girl whose ruins she thought of herself as inhabiting.
John Updike, "Couples".
I enjoyed this book quite a lot; like "Fear of Flying", I think I enjoy reading about sex and relationships in earlier eras. I liked the banter of the couples, the romantic letters a few of the lovers wrote, and was really stirred by this empathy when one of the adulterers accidentally gets his lover pregnant, that nightmarish "Oh, CRAP" kind of feeling of the unexpected expected phone call...

Another nice little passage:
Mouths, it came to Piet, are noble. They move in the brain’s court. We set our genitals mating down below like peasants, but when the mouth condescends, mind and body marry. To eat another is sacred.

Wired on Susie Mc­Kinnon, a woman who has no episodic memories. It's astonishes me how normal a life she is able to lead; it really shines a light on how bad my mental model of our way of thinking our way through the universe is, much like I kind of can't get over how kids can have conversations before they are potty trained. Or the way the brain rebuilds itself after stroke-like conditions (I'm tempted to watch that Netflix "My Beautiful Broken Brain" that had this giant billboard over one of the HONK!TX events in Austin.) Rationality and formal thinking are such powerful tools, but they're just not what we DO.

It's also a great philosophical question of who has a "better" life: McKinnon, who remembers nothing, or Jill Price, who remembers everything.
http://cheezburger.com/8762580224 Heh. In the same vein of "did Adam have a bellybutton", fun thinking about the implication of Jesus not having a source of a Y chromosome...

April 14, 2016

The Jastrow illusion is worth checking out...
360 view from Game of Thrones opening credits Not bad! Though odd that it's painted on the inside of a globe, kind of like the Mapparium...
https://www.captionbot.ai/ - a Microsoft 'bot does a surprisingly good job captioning photos.
Random naive bike riding question: the other day I saw a fellow bike commuter whose rhythm was pedal, coast, pedal, coast. He didn't seem to be pedaling especially fast, but still making decent time. Is that a notably more efficient way of riding than my "pedal most of the time" style? (Then again since my bike commute is some of the little semi-daily exercise I reliably get, maybe energy efficiency isn't the number one goal anyway...)
Sometimes I wonder if over-eager code testing policies are a bit like excessive password complexity requirements and expiry; both sound great on paper and give certain types of administrative types warm fuzzies, but unless used properly just make things worse.
‪#‎TBT‬ Some shots from my Salamanca, NY Days courtesy Robert Smith - me rockin' red footie PJs and a bean bag chair, Shinola the Cat (As in the phrase "Can't tell S**t from Shinola", and my minister parents couldn't very well call him the former), a newspaper clip from Advent, and my mom behind the wheel, looking a bit sassy!

Blender of Love

April 15, 2016


April 16, 2016

God and I are fine.
Janis Donaldson Roihl (Mo's mom).
Went to a remembrance celebration for her today.

April 17, 2016

This is the universe we come home to in the evening, when we rejoin our partner. It is a universe made of silent understandings and unspoken words, of eloquent glances and humorous shorthand signals, a universe of shared subjectivity. Everyone who has been in love more than once knows that each love relationship has its own music, its own emotional quality, its own style-- and its own world.
Nathaniel Branden, "The Psychology of Romantic Love"

Of all proverbs I have ever heard, my favorite is a Spanish one which says, "' Take what you want,' said God, 'and pay for it.'
Nathaniel Branden, "The Psychology of Romantic Love"

April 18, 2016

Dream-inspired product idea: tiny stickon LCD screens for your fingernails. Powered by the wearer's bio-electricity, or by a thin layer of battery. Showing off changing patterns, or possibly an image of the object you are touching. (In which case they'd need bluetooth or something, so something touched by a few fingers could be displayed by all.

You know, an e-ink version of the simplest form of that might just be possible.

--from this Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. The concept has stuck with me: "And THAT'S why Daddy is an Anarchist!"

The best volleyball video you'll watch today, I promise you.
The 3-point shot and other basketball history... with Curry having basically broken regular basketball (check out this chart) I was wondering where the 3 point shot came from.

April 19, 2016

"You know- I do understand that I'm not a real bear. "
"But I am - I know what I am... I am what I am!"
"Well, that's true. We all are, what we are."
"But I'm a real puppet!"
Fozzie and Kermit
From this 1979 camera test for the Muppet Movie with Frank Oz and Jim Henson riffing existentially. (Later it's Miss Piggy instead of Kermit.)
Real World Bulldozer Fight.:

These seems like it would be an awesome sport, or videogame.
Boston's Old Combat Zone-- and I thought that Times Square was the model for getting boring and Disney-fied...

April 20, 2016

"Nearly half of Americans would have trouble finding $400 to pay for an emergency." is alarming to me. I know I make a good salary; but given that I'm not all that extravagant on rent or car and don't have a kid, I do have a bit of "where the hell DOES the money go?" I have some answers, but maybe I should double down and renew studying went Mint.com is trying to tell me.

Sometimes I feel swamped by a kind of innumeracy: On the one hand, I'm ok with numbers, but on the other hand, I don't know how anything works. How do people get by without $400 ready money? How does any company make money? How does anyone buy a house? I think some of the thing is, it's really hard to get an intuition for how things scale, especially over time. 365 is a lot of days; 52 is a lot of weeks. Expenses can be death by 1000 paper cuts over that time, but if you set up things well, the money can come in (or, more typically, some weird gas-law-like equilibrium seems to set in.)

Sometimes I think I should go dig up that old "Lemonade Stand" game and play it 'til I "get it".

April 21, 2016

[Minsky was] trying to create a computer beautiful enough that a soul would want to live in it.
Student of Marvin Minsky's
(quoted in Sherry Turkle's "Reclaiming Conversation")
RIP Prince. WTF is up with 2016?

Days like today always remind me of this Achewood about Michael Jackson's death (WARNING: read only if you want to dwell in that sad place a little more fully and thoughtfully for a bit.)
Deadspin suggests his 2007 Superbowl show
Awesome collection of Prince moments. The video of his best throwing shade moments (under "Anna") is worth the price of admission.

April 22, 2016

Wendy: Hes a girl, for sure, but hes not gay. He looked at me like a gay woman would look at another woman.
Lisa: Totally. Hes like a fancy lesbian.
It's intriguing learning how consciously he cultivated his omnisexual persona.
"Did Your Parents Have Any Kids That Lived?"
Stupid insult, or stupidest insult? (Recently used on me by some clown on FB with a Prince userpic who was arguing that manbuns were terrible and showing how Millennials were awful, men morphing into women. Either a choking level of irony, or a master-level troll.)
Why Arabs Lose Wars. You always need to take this kind of broad brush painting with a suitable grain of salt (to mix a metaphor or two) but I find it fascinating; the tl;dr is that armies of Arab nations are hobbled by a rigid sense of hierarchy that's not present in the US military (to name one example) and may reflect greater cultural differences.
What's In Prince's Fridge circa 2011...
the anus is the ear of the butt

April 23, 2016

We should probably get back to the theater- those pre-movie trivia questions aren't going to answer themselves, are they? ...actually they do.
Mitchell on "Modern Family"

With Kristin L at Honest Weight Artisan Beer

April 24, 2016

"From 1982, Mattel ran this advertisement in movie theaters for the Intellivision gaming console. It features a futuristic newscast that reports on news events that are actually demonstrating several Intellivision games. These games include: Space Battle, Night Stalker, Utopia, TRON Deadly Discs, Boxing, Tennis, Skiing, and Star Strike."

Love the pixel work!

April 25, 2016

We sometimes say that adults are better at paying attention than children, but really we mean just the opposite. Adults are better at not paying attention. They're better at screening out everything else and restricting their consciousness to a single focus.
Alison Gopnik, "The Philosophical Baby"

Time to go to bed... I thought I saw a headline about Zuckerberg stopping a Donald Trump "pregnancy"

April 26, 2016

Kids and Crafts. As an uncle with show-off tendencies and decades of doodling it can be a challenge to find the right balance co-creating with kids. I want to foster their creativity, show them the joy of amateur creation by example... but it's hard to conceptualize the challenges they face, and I don't want them to be frustrated with their skillset. In the same way it's weird when a toddler is at an age where you can have a mini-conversation with them about the state of their diaper, the way "coloring in the lines" is a developmental milestone and the stages of drawing they go through defies simplified cognitive models - it's hard to get your mind into that lack of hand-eye coordination.

I think of Sedaris' hilarious "Front Row Center With Thaddeus Bristol" - - where a professional theater critic brings his full guns to bear on a local elementary school Christmas Pageant. Or, worse, that real life story of a kid whose musical ambitions were quashed by a father who would almost throw her off the piano stool to show how he could do it better.

It takes mindfulness to find a decent balance: having fun making stuff with the kid, not blatantly condescending in terms of artistic level but not overwhelming them with tricks I've picked up over 4 decades, and also praising their effort and not intrinsic ability-- trying to keep them away from fixed mindset! (Maybe it helps to keep in mind how mediocre my attempts to draw real-life things are... I'm not half the cartoonist I'd like to be.
My new favorite black ink pen. I really have developed a preference for thick lines ala "Bold"/10mm.
Why So Many Smart People Aren't Happy

April 27, 2016

We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.
John Culkin (paraphrasing Marshall McLuhan)

April 28, 2016

Here is a post generator and here are some interesting posts from it

"the difference between crows and ravens is that crows romanticize sin"
Skepticism on the Rise Worldwide. I have no intention of becoming a strident atheist, or even a militant agnostic ("we don't know the answer to these things... AND NEITHER DO YOU") but still, I would think that the sheer number of faiths and beliefs would give fundamentalist "we have an exclusive line to The Truth" thinking pause. But the whole disastrous mess of fundamentalism isn't prone to that kind of thoughtful reflection or self-doubt.

(And people dig-in, and can become more and more entrenched in an individual as the years go by. I mean, who'd want to accept that they'd invested so much of their life in something that wasn't true? So let's double down on faith -- sunk cost fallacy meets pascal's wager.)

from Leonard Richardson's "Constellation Games":

Crying isn't sadness; it happens because an emotion is too big for your body.
Bai had gone into the kitchen with a six-pack and now he came back into the living room holding one beer. It was like the opposite of a miracle.
'There are no refunds. That's the point of the game.' I should have bought two.
(The game in question has half-dead aliens wanting refunds from the gatekeeper to the afterlife... "Should have bought two" is an alien expression that kind of combines "buyer beware" and "have your cake and eat it too")
Don't be a guy who feels bad. Nobody ever knows what to do. Our life-task is to decide what to do.
A static document is a fossil of thought.
I dropped a leaf into a hole
And you dropped me in turn. I found
That gravity reversed its pull
And through the sky was solid ground.
We drop, are dropped, and each to each
It's what we do, it's not profound.
And if a hole is out of reach
We take a longer way around.
We fall in all directions. Some
Find lucky landings, higher ground.
I wait, instead, for help to come
And some of us are never found.

I left a message in the ice:
The time, the distance and the price.
Advertising copy for the Ip Shkoy computer game The Long Way Around poss. written by Af be Hui Translated into English verse by Dr. Linda Blum and Dr. Tetsuo Milk
(The game in question is about a stranded astronaut trying to return home.)
It wouldn't be the first time the power of love was responsible for a whole lot of bullshit.
Those were some passages I really liked on rereading Leonard Richardson's "Constellation Games". Man, I wish I knew how to get this book the attention "Ready Player One" gets... it's orders of magnitude superior.

April 30, 2016

Russian Warplane Flies in 'Unsafe' Manner Near U.S. Aircraft The start of the War With Russia, or maybe just revenge for "Top Gun".
Of course, we know that humans are political, but we still often assume that our political actions come from thinking about beliefs and desires. Even in election season we assume that voters figure out who will enact the policies they want, and we're surprised when it turns out that they care more about who belongs to their group or who is the top dog.

Nice debut for BABAM! - the Boston Area Brigade of Activist Musicians, a loose affiliation of like minded players from various bands for last minute but worthy events and big umbrella gatherings.... today we supported the rally to get Somerville's Retirement fund divested from fossil fuels - a real loser investment these days no matter how you slice it.

(I was having a water bottle crisis where it somehow flooded by hip pack... I gotta stop carrying stuff during gigs :-) (local copy of video)

2016 April❮❮prevnext❯❯