2017 July❮❮prevnext❯❯

July 1, 2017

I think it's kind of smart that Somerville does its fireworks early (in this case last Thursday) - I'm sure they get a better deal for it, plus more people can see it. Anyway, we are just a block or so away from where they launch...

june 2017 new music playlist

Not the strongest month, but a few interesting bits.
Just watched "Get Out", great stuff.

Completely inconsequential lesson learned: women with bangs are like Clark Kent and his glasses for me. Would have taken me a long time to realize the actress was Marnie from "Girls".

July 3, 2017

My body is [my] temple. That's why I like to feed it burgers.

July 4, 2017


July 5, 2017

Why did the chicken cross the road?

It had been crossing so long it could not remember. As it stopped in the middle to look back, a car sped by, spinning it around. Disoriented, the chicken realized it could no longer tell which way it was going. It stands there still.

Blender of Love

jay pinkerton's superman origin comics

A long time ago I posted a link to Jay Pinkerton's Superman Origin Comics, but they've become notoriously hard to find... you have to dig at just the right place in the wayback machine so I'm posting a mirror here.

Filthy-mouthed but hilarious in parts...

July 7, 2017

Been getting into podcasts, a good substitute for my driving commute where I can't read or hack. It feels like there's a spectrum of "2 or 3 smart people shooting the breeze about a topic" to "polished, edited programs, like (or by) NPR". I find I strongly prefer the former.

Podcasts fans, is there one side of that you prefer?

Also, do you listen at normal speed or sped up?

But come to think of it, maybe I should try audiobooks as well, now that I know I have proof of concepted with podcasts.
David Sedaris mentioned someone wearing a lavalava. I was sort of amused by the start of the wikipedia entry:
"A lavalava, also known as an 'ie, short for 'ie lavalava"

July 8, 2017

My horn and its rain shadow...

simplify.thatsh.it - dynamic, intriguing generation of extremely simplified abstract art from photos,
I just read David Sedaris' Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002). Made me realize how anemic my own journaling is... I don't put much effort into thinking of evocative scenes, it's more just to provide a footprint for the day.

Some excerpts:

from the Introduction:
That's the thing with a diary, though. In order to record your life, you sort of need to live it. Not at your desk, but beyond it. Out in the world where it's so beautiful and complex and painful that sometimes you just need to sit down and write about it.
from May 5, 1987:
I told Dad I was disappointed that I wouldn't be graduating in a cap and gown-- the Art Institute doesn't swing that way-- and he said, "I've got your old cap and gown from high school. Want me to bring them when we come up?" Then he said, "Do you think it will still fit?"

A person would be in pretty serious trouble if his graduation gown no longer fit. It's like outgrowing a tent, basically.
He predicts the emoji keyboard on November 4, 1987:
I saw a bumper sticker the other day that read I LOVE KILLING COMMUNISTS. The word love was replaced by a heart shape I'm guessing they'll put on the typewriter keyboard any day now, right beside the exclamation point.
from March 31, 1989:
"So I said to him, 'Well, money's not everything.' Then he said, 'Maybe not, but it's about ten thousand goddamn miles ahead of whatever it is that comes in second.'"
from December 7, 1990:
I got yelled at twice today, once when I was working as an entrance elf. The job amounts to hustling up visitors, and I thought I did a pretty good job. "Patronize Santa," I said. "Behold his chubby majesty. Santa was born and raised in a small home. Hail him. Santa's patience is beyond your comprehension. Come test it."
I'd been at it for ten minutes when a manager came by. Then he went and rounded up two other managers and the three of them brought me to the desk for a scolding.
from November 9, 1991:
I worked for Alba, who was sick, throwing up all day. At a party last night she had eleven Bellinis, those peach-and-Prosecco cocktails. These were followed by three tallboys. Yikes. You'd think an adult would know better: Beer on wine, you're fine. Wine on beer, stand clear. But eleven Prosecco cocktails should not precede anything, not even a twelfth.
from September 9, 1996:
I walked so long and hard in Paris the other day that my overgrown toenails rubbed against one another and started to bleed. Before leaving for the airport, I went to cut them and, finding no clippers, I used a pair of Colette's poultry shears. That is exactly why you don't want people staying in your apartment when you're not there, or even when you are, really.

July 9, 2017

Apropos of nearly nothing, I was thinking about how way back in sixth grade (so, like, 1986 or so) one of my fellow students taught me this "class song" - he might have signed a yearbook or something with it...
Party hardy / Rock and Roll
Drink a bottle / Smoke a bowl
Love is fun / Sex is too
We're the Class of '92!
That was... pretty foresightful for sixth graders to come up with? Though maybe it was just a response to "Party Hearty, rock and roll, drink bacardi, smoke a bowl, Life if good, lets get our kicks, cuz we're the class of 86!!" (Also, this song but I think it's a lot more recent?

I got to thinking of a few other rhymes like that. Sedaris mentioned a bumpersticker I also remember from way back when:
Bumper to Bumper
Butt to Butt
Get Off My Ass
You Crazy Nut!
.Another one I once saw scratched on a pier at a Cleveland / Lake Erie park:
Eric was here
But now he's gone
His last few words
were "party on!"
Those who knew him,
knew him well.
Those who didn't
can go to hell!
I remember one of my fellow counselors mentioning that was a pretty good one, as far as the genre goes.
Nice technical breakdown of how Mega Man 2's music does what it does. I only barely have enough mojo to follow the chord stuff, but I was happy as always to see the blues scale there.

I really broke my non-tuba bass clef reading abilities by the way I self-taught transposition, and it's not getting better these days since I'm more likely to be told the name of the chord - but when I see a Bb written in bass clef, I still think of it as "C".

Maybe I should try to pick up guitar or some chord-centric thing to widen my musical understanding.

JP Honk @ JP Porchfest 2017

JP Honk @ JP Porchfest 2017, Photos and Video Courtesy Agustina M

My brain conflated my curiosity about rumors of a special "Pro" iPhone with the old Onion Tim Cook:' I'm Thinking Printers' for a dream where I went to some kind of launch event in a drab auditorium (no stage, just a table up front) and my reward for preordering was an "upgrade" to the new phone... about the form factor of a Nintendo Wii, where the phone was kind of the face of it that was detachable, and a receipt-printing size setup inside. BEHOLD THE FUTURE.

@School of Honk's performance, photo by Tom H

Imma tryin' to help Ezequiel use his tuba powers only for good... but also thanks to Robert for locating a good size sousaphone for him!

July 11, 2017

Saw this poster in the "Propaganda" section of Steven Heller's "100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design".

I realized that the brute was wielding a club... a Kultur club, and briefly wondered if that meant the band name was a play on that. Probably not, but I'm surprised how many analyses assume the inscription refers to the target and not the weapon. Judging by a November 8, 1914 NY Times editorial, they get that wrong:
Current discussion of the worth of German culture has been almost hopelessly clouded by the fact that when a German speaks of Kultur he means an entirely different thing from what a Latin or Briton means by culture. Kultur means the organized efficiency of a nation in the broadest sense -- its successful achievement in civil and military administration, industry, commerce, finance, and in a quite secondary way in scholarship, letters, and art.
Anyway, quite the image! I guess you could say racist?
Evil B, thinking of you. (No, not concerning the above poster, yeesh)

July 12, 2017

Great for people with a Nicholas "The Mezzanine" Baker or Donald "Design of Everyday Things" Norman fandom - The 100 Greatest Props in Movie History, and the Stories Behind Them
The Worst 20 Seconds of Soccer Ever. Follow the link and have google translate the page from Italian for you.
The Camrbdigeside Galleria Apple Store just reopened... on my devblog I wrote about how the Genius Bar is going away...

July 13, 2017

Happy 1.5 Billion Seconds Unix!!!!! (In this time zone, that's Thursday July 13, 2017 22:40:00 (pm) ) You can find out similar stuff about yourself at TimeToy
This, here," Rat said, indicating another giant piece of wooden furniture, "is a free-standing Fluchtzbesser turntable. Inside that wooden cabinet is an eleven-hundred-pound piece of granite. Yes, sir, this is about the finest hi-fi ever assembled in the city of Baconburg."
"And it only has the one speaker?" Winston Bongo asked. Rat gave Winston a sideways look.
"Stereo is for sissies," she said.
Daniel Pinkwater, "The Snarkout Boys & The Avocado of Death". Also, I thought this was a fine description of a Kiwi: "We had Chinese gooseberries, which I had never seen before. They're fuzzy brown on the outside, and about the size of an egg. Inside they're green and taste somewhere between a banana and a lime. I liked them." I didn't not realize they were once called "Chinese gooseberries".

So for crimes, first degree is the most severe, but for burns, it's the least severe.

Sigh, language.
Should be a great August for Boston traffic

the robotic ruler of the river of no return

River Raid was one of the finest games produced for the Atari 2600. One of the first vertically scrolling shooters, this game was remarkably well designed. While the enemies (copters and boats and later small jets) could only threaten the player with menacing kamikaze moves upon approach, the constantly diminishing fuel supply would lead the player to recklessly hightail it down the "River of No Return" to pass over replenishing fuel depots, a tension-provoking detail most other games of the era couldn't match. And I am going to introduce you to the games indisputable conqueror.

First, a note about the game's author, Carol Shaw- the first professional female video game designer. This game is her singular masterpiece (I don't think many people really look back that fondly on "3-D Tic Tac Toe", and the 1-on-1 Pong-like action of her "Polo" tie-in game never saw the light of day...) This interview has her talking about her experience. But her peers thought she was great, designer Mike Albaugh said
I would have to include Carol Shaw, who was simply the best programmer of the 6502 and probably one of the best programmers period....in particular, [she] did the [2600] kernels, the tricky bit that actually gets the picture on the screen for a number of games that she didn't fully do the games for. She was the go-to gal for that sort of stuff.
As a guy who wrote an original Atari 2600 from scratch in assembly , I know how tricky that kernel stuff is... (and true confession, my game ended up having its kernel tweaked by genius Paul Slocum anyway.)

One of the cleverest bits of River Raid is its use of pseudorandom number generators to generate section after section of the river - this let the game pack in a consistent, huge game playing field even though the whole cartridge was only 4K bytes of ROM. The levels alternated between straight sections and split sections and went on practically forever.

Over a decade ago I got to wondering about how far the river went, and got so far as having B. Watson generate this image of the first 4 sections, guaranteed to bring a bit of nostalgia to the 80's gamer heart:
(Of course the funny thing about posting this kind of image is that River Raid scrolls from the bottom, but webpages scroll from the top...) That project to map out more of the river never went anywhere, but this AtariAge thread gets revived from time to time... and I would say, the indisputable Ruler of the River of No Return (and one of the participants in that thread) is one "Lord Tom"

For starters, here's Lord Tom's map of the first 600 river sections...

And how does Lord Tom know what the first 600 sections look like? I contacted him at AtariAge (such a damn fine resource!) and he said
To make the map, I wrote a Lua script for use in the BizHawk emulator that essentially cheated through the game with the plane offscreen somewhere, taking screen-shots of each enemy/terrain slot along the way (32 per map section). I assembled these into the big map with a simple Java app.
But that wasn't enough for Lord Tom. He's a member of the "TAS Community" - Tool Assisted Speedruns, folks who learn how to let machines help them drive through to the ending of games faster than any human ever could. They don't cheat - the actual code of the game is sacrosanct - but by abusing every input available to them they're like the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar getting ready to dive back into the Matrix, mastering the code behind the world that lets, say, Mario move like a crazy drug-fueld Ninja, or in Lord Tom's case, to build a frickin' robot to play the game better than any human (or 'bot) in history ever has. Specifically, to get the maximum possible score of 1,000,000 (or in Activision speak, !!!!!!) That looks like this:

To give that robot a script, he built a replica of River Raid in Java, one that could reproduce all the twists and turns and boats and helicopters and fuel tanks that that little cartridge's algorithm could churn out with incredible precision, and then used it to power something like the "Many Worlds Interpretation" of Quantum Physics, plotting out a millions of possible futures for each frame, then pruning and working the best 150,000 or so, until he got a damn near optimal path. (And to give you an idea of this robot's skill about this, not only does this well-nigh perfect path take an hour twenty to get to that million points, Activision would send you a patch designating you a "River Raider" if you sent in a photograph showing that you got 15,000!)

So, in his own words:
Yes, due to the technique I used for solving the game, I had to write a Java simulator, which I think ended up being something like 10,000 times faster than trying to do the bot computations through the emulator. And I only simulated the game's logic/state; I didn't actually output a display or sound, though in the grand scheme of things that would have been easy enough to do.

The solving algorithm focused heavily on fuel and (of course) score. Since fuel is consumed at the same rate regardless of speed, it's best to almost always go full throttle. There are a few terrain exceptions, and the other main exceptions are slow-downs to get extra fuel or manipulate which enemies move/don't move to make them easier to kill.

For fuel, I basically looked at the map and plotted out how far I'd get for each life (once fuel becomes rare, it's better score-wise to die for a full tank than to keep slowing down to milk depots). Then for various points along the route (e.g. section 5, 10th enemy) I'd specify a minimum fuel to have -- any solution paths with less fuel would be killed.

The only non-survivable states in the game relate to fuel, and then very limited times when e.g. you can't slow down fast enough to clear terrain, or avoid an enemy that's about to hit you.

Other than that, it was pure heuristic; 30 times a second it would simulate paths with each possible input, eliminate duplicates and deaths, and periodically score them and keep the best several thousand. To handle islands, I stipulated that a certain # of paths would always be kept alive on each side of the screen. As I recall, the algorithm would score and cull several times each section; it never really "looked ahead" at all, just periodically compared outcomes for 500,000 or so input possibilities and kept the best ones.

I think all in all, I calculate the bot simulated over 2 trillion game states to complete the game. 
You can read even more details at his TASVideos Submission Page, but I think you get the idea here.

Amazing. I've done Atari coding and even some Java-based "tool assistants" (to get photorealistic images into the long-lost site pixeltime, or to remove the scrolling credits from still backdrops) but nothing that comes ANYWHERE NEAR what Lord Tom (or Carol Shaw, for that matter) has done.

July 15, 2017


July 16, 2017

Man, do I love this.

Real Time: Schiphol Clock from Maarten Baas on Vimeo.

Thomas Bergeron and Atlantic Brass Quintet did a Brass Mob Somerville playing the kind of minmalist experiment piece In C
Remember in one of the debates when Trump and Clinton were asked to say something nice about the other, and Clinton said Trump's children prove his character? It took 10 months for that burn to manifest but the payoff was worth it.

July 17, 2017


--Found online, a great take on Metroid...

f'in trumpland

For my geek peeps: thinking about xml vs json
Reminder: Trump says we'll '"let" Obabamacare fail.' That's bull. It is in part death by slow poisoning. They own that.
And here's some of why

July 19, 2017

from Art of the Poster 1880-1918:

In no particular order, things I want to invest my "free", non-work time in...
-coding up a sheet music library tool
-coding up a "timeline" app
-being a good boyfriend for Melissa
-keeping up my regimen of band practices and gigs
-writing new music arrangements for my band
-keeping my family connections healthy and vibrant
-keeping up my reading
-playing zelda and see if i still like games
-watching good movies and shows with Melissa
-keeping up with game of thrones
-keeping an eye open for interesting stuff in social media etc
Also in general I want to be a good employee at my job that I dig.
There's also a second tier of things, from drafting an expansion of my death comic to doing another virtual advent calendar.

on the new zelda

Videogame Nerdery Ahoy! (Got a lot more long-winded than I planned) I'm trying to figure out if I should stick with the new Zelda, if it's a good investment of time for me. It's high quality in many ways, but the cooking/crafting doesn't grab me, the endless treadmill of "get a weapon, wear out a weapon" rankles (especially with the limited inventory slots that cost a lot to improve), and in general I'm not as engaged as I would have hoped.

While in some ways the game has that "more than one way to solve a problem" approach, 90% of those feel like something clever the programmers thought of first and then coded in, rather than an organic, player-driven combination of basic interactive elements. They give you a cool "magnet" tractor beam power that you can only use in carefully defined areas, magic bombs that can't really aim and take forever to damage anything anyway, a "freeze time" thing that A. is misnamed (it's more about messing with certain object's kinetic energy, but I guess they thought "kinetic energy" that was too fancy a term) and B. also only works hardly anywhere...

I guess the game doesn't resonate for me in two critical directions; one is the world-building. "Far Cry"s, which feels like such a big influence, do a much better job of painting "living breathing" worlds that mask the fact that they exist only as a place for the player's story to take place in. Vs Zeldas: Link, is (spoiler alert?) the knight errant destined to come back and fix everything in Hyrule, and by the way here are all these precious little mini-dungeons scattered about to test his mettle and build him up gradually for doing so.

Which leads to the second game theme Zelda does, one I respect intellectually but don't find deeply engaging: the classic "from zero to hero" journey, the grind up of gathering intrinsic strength and various add-ons that lets the player slowly grow into the role destiny (or rather, the game designer) has laid out for them. I know in the real world I have a blind-spot for personal growth; people seem to be about the same to me on the inside throughout their lives (Hmm, this is probably why preschooler's incompetence so startles me... Like, "C'mon, color in the lines! Focus! I can talk with you, you have the raw physical control here, why can't you do this?") It's troublesome for me in life- I tend to feel like I can gain knowledge of how to do things, but the process of "growing" a skillset per se seems.... I don't know, unlikely. I assume at some point quantitative skill improvement can become qualitative ability increase, but I never really *feel* it. (Similarly, even in a game, "practicing and getting better" is sometimes indistinguishable from "try and try again until I get lucky and can move on"...)

It's why I feel Mario games have more in common with Grand Theft Auto than they do with Zelda games or Metroid games. Mario is the same guy, with about the same skillset, at the start of the game as he is at the end, there's no "take away all your skills at the game start so you can grow 'em back", and so is the protagonist of a GTA game, he just has more access to vehicles and money and weapons. (Conversely, Mario games have even more of that "this world exists only for the player to experience" than even the Zelda games, but still).

Also, now that I think about it, the physics of this latest Zelda are all too down-to-earth. Link jumps about as well as I do, more or less. He's a much better wall climber, but that's a plodding straining process. He's got a glider, but that's only a slow parachute with a bit of horizontal movement. He can do some tractor-beam/grav-gun manipulations, but only in certain designated areas and times. Compared to a later Saints Row and those games' joyful leaping, bounding, running up the side of buildings, magic grabbing and blasting nearly anything, or Just Cause's kinetic soaring and goofy playground of "link two things together with a wire and see what happens"... those games have more of what I come to video games for, superhuman empowerment fantasies set with visuals and interactions convincing enough to be viscerally enjoyable. (and while Zelda has plenty of mooks to dispatch for its adolescent empowerment fantasy, other games serve 'em up and knock 'em down wholesale -- sword combat is still pretty much a one-on-one, retail experience in Zelda....)

This went on much further than I expected. I'd love to hear from folks who dig the game what works for them, hopefully I've done a good enough job couching my critique as highly subjective, as I puzzle out (so to speak) why a game that is clearly so good in so many ways is on the bubble for me making time to play through...

Trump thinks health insurance is priced like life insurance. This makes Bush Sr's "amazement" about the supermarket checkout scanner (grossly exaggerated, tbh) makes him look like Joe Sixpack, relative to Trump. He truly has no idea, but claims everything is easy.

July 21, 2017

UX Design and the most brilliant idea for a toaster improvement ever.
I listened to Sam "Waking Up" Harris' podcast where he interviews Scott "Dilbert" Adams about Trump. Adams is relatively pro-Trump, but more to the point, he seems to be more pro-"Persuasion" over unearthing and acting on the facts as objectively as we can.

One of his favorite things to pick on is "analogy" - he thinks it's a terrible, limited way of knowing things, forever an imperfect mistaking of the map for the territory. (Err, to use an analogy, I guess.) I think it's kind of a dick power move, frankly. The Persuasion shtick - and Adams mentions how he was a trained hypnotist - is all about elevating authority and truthiness over trying to empower people to get through to the facts themselves. The Objective Truth is unknowable, so why not give up trying to know it and just Trust Me?

When I was searching my own website trying to find some half-remembered bit about how analogy-based thinking was probably the key to "real" artificial intelligence, I found reference to a book I only barely remember reading but I think may have been mightily influential on me: Hofstadter and Sander's "Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking". Given how often I annoyed my estranged talking companion EB by realizing I tend to be focused on interactions at the surface and he seem obsessed with the supremacy of the essence, the core of what something "really was", that book seems like it had quite an impact on me.

Anyway, getting rid of analogies is nuts; you can barely have a conversation without 'em, and I am deeply suspect of Adams' desire to go without.
All that said, it would be good if the left wasn't so cartoony in its portrayal of Trump.
Impressionistic sounds affect our subconscious and our state of mind. This is due possibly to the fact that sounds, if present, are continuously entering our mind whether or not we are actively listening. Visual inputs, on the other hand, require the user's attention. If we are distracted from the TV set, we cease to concentrate on the picture and the image leaves our mind. Sound therefore offers the programmer a direct path to the user's mind--bypassing his thought processes and zeroing in on his emotions.
Chris Crawford, in "De Re Atari" (via Jamie Lendino's "Breakout: How Atari 8-Bit Computers Defined a Generation")

[Buddha visits Geek Squad]
IT GUY: So all your files are in one huge folder named 'Temporary.'
IT: ...
BUDDHA: [nods peacefully]

souuuuuul train

Looking at old Herbie Hancock on Soul Train clips, I really wish that show was still around.

July 23, 2017

Now that I've been listening to podcasts, it seems kind of weird that I can't pause live radio.

July 24, 2017

Found this a week late but I did love that line...

TIL: Helium, the second most abundant element in the universe, was discovered on the sun before it was found on the earth. (Hence, helium like helios, the greek word for the sun.)

July 25, 2017

The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.
Neil deGrasse Tyson

LOL John McCain getting back from brain surgery to help people not have medical coverage. What a fuckin' hero!
Let me amend that list line to take into account what Susan Tutu mentioned on FB; that my statement was a bit churlish, and we should look to what he actually said - I actually googled before I wrote, didn't find it, but tried again - here it is-
What that speech lacks is much talk of the topic at hand - medical coverage. It's all very meta about procedures and bipartisanship. So while the call to be reasonable and seek compromise can be a noble one, there's also an air of "Teach The Controversy"! about this. Obama et al spent a lot of political capital - and in the end squeezed the ACA through an a procedurally unsavory way - against the party of no, whose demonization of who was a clearly qualified and professional and thoughtful man carried a lot of ugly undercurrents. Republicans have 3/4 of a decade to come up with a better plan, and they have jack and squat. Trump said "You're going to have such great healthcare at a tiny fraction of the cost, and it is going to be so easy," and while his supporters are probably even better than his detractors at accepting his flim-flam, on the campaign trail and after, as mere signaling of mood and intent than actual substance, it's still embarrassing how badly the Republicans with all their gerrymandered power right now, are handling this. McCain's line "All we've managed to do is make more popular a policy that wasn't very popular when we started trying to get rid of it." is telling- Republicans don't have a story to tell about something that will actually help non-wealthy people, from the poor to the middle class, because that's not their story, at all.

July 26, 2017

"The cosmic perspective opens our eyes to the universe, not as a benevolent cradle designed to nurture life but as a cold, lonely, hazardous place, forcing us to reassess the value of all humans to one another."
Neil deGrasse Tyson, from "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry".
A brisk read, I'm reading my mom's copy, that was one line near the end she underlined.
"Sometimes, my body feels
like a burial ground for all the people
I should have become."
from "Requiem" by Molly Gardner.
That's a little more - ok, a lot more - negative than I feel about it, but it's a striking image. I guess I try to feel more like a museum showing off all the people I might've become, or might still be...
My theory was that [the readers] just thought they cared about . . . the action; that really, although they didn't know it, they cared very little about the action. The things that they really cared about, and that I cared about, were the creation of emotion through dialogue and description; the things they remembered, that haunted them, were not for example that a man got killed, but that in the moment of death he was trying to pick a paper clip up off the polished surface of a desk, and it kept slipping away from him, so that there was a look of strain of his face and his mouth was half opened in a kind of tormented grin, and the last thing in the world he thought about was death. He didn't even hear death knock at the door. That damn paper clip kept slipping away from his fingers and he just wouldn't push it to the edge of the desk and catch it as it fell.
Raymond Chandler, letter to Frederick Lewis Allen.
Readers of "Tropic of Cancer" might remember a similar topic mentioned by one of the characters in terms of the squish squish monologue....so often it's that tiny visceral detail that makes it, like in the erstwhile obscure meme "Cracking Open a Cold One With The Boys", which I find weirdly evocative.
Actually the page of Chandler stuff had another good bit:
The important thing is that there should be a space of time, say four hours a day at least, when a professional writer doesn't do anything else but write. He doesn't have to write, and if he doesn't feel like it, he shouldn't try. He can look out of the window or stand on his head or writhe on the floor. But he is not to do any other positive thing, not read, write letters, glance at magazines, or write checks. Write or nothing. It's the same principle as keeping order in a school. If you make the pupils behave, they will learn something just to keep from being bored. I find it works. Two very simple rules, a. you don't have to write. B. you can't do anything else. The rest comes of itself.

Melissa's New Shades

July 27, 2017

In tech, the concept of culture fit is presented as a good thing. Unfortunately what culture fit often means is that young white guys like to hire other young white guys, and what you end up with is an astonishing lack of diversity.
Dan Lyons, from "Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble"

Even turkeys can fly in a high wind.

July 28, 2017

Yesterday, for grins, I literally punched waves as they came rolling in. I think I also tried an atomic drop.

I enjoyed it and the waves certainly didn't seem to mind. In a world with too much passive aggressiveness it was nice to experiment with the opposite.

And then later I saw this...

Odd that Dunkies in NJ have the steak and egg on a bagel that's been missing in Boston area ones. Wonder what the implications of that are, whether it's more an issue of supply or demand.
"But maybe going through that kind of tough, lonely experience is necessary when you're young? Part of the process of growing up?"
"You think so?"
"The way surviving hard winters makes a tree grow stronger, the growth rings inside it tighter."
Haruki Murakami, "Yesterday"

July 29, 2017

MS Paint to be phased out, though reports of its death are slightly exaggerated.

...I love that video ("Can we... can we thin out the line? Can we make the line thinner-" "-No" "...Ok")

Old school Paint did one thing better than almost all of its peers, and almost every program today even, in that the the mouse pointer was actually the brush you were about to paint with. Between that and not having to worry about anti-aliasing, it was pretty cool for pixel art. (And then there are some folks who use it as an actual art tool apparently in a pixel by pixel way)

That said there was a revamp of it that made me like it a bit less than the original.
NY Times and The Case for Cursing. The paradox is the strength of the cussing relies on it being generally taboo. It is cooler to save it for special occasions, I think. Give a hoot, don't dilute!

July 30, 2017

I recently formalized my new favorite custom drink recipe:
Crown Royal Whisky (1 or 2 shots in a glass, neat).
White Rabbit Candy (2 pieces)
Unwrap a candy and place mouth, allowing it to soften as you drink whisky over it. Repeat for second piece.

July 31, 2017

After reading O'Reilly's newest apologia for Trump (latest narrative: it's all the fault of the media lynch mob making it impossible for Trump to govern) I got to thinking just how odd is it to not have ANY experience as an elected official before being president?

A little wikipedia-ing tells us:
5 Presidents had never been elected to public office before becoming President: Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Herbert Hoover, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Donald Trump. Hoover had formerly served as Secretary of Commerce, an appointed office. Taylor, Grant and Eisenhower had never held political office prior to their presidencies, but they had served as leading American generals in the Mexican-American War, American Civil War and World War Two, respectively.

1 President had never served in elected public office, the military, or government before becoming president: Donald Trump. Trump was a real estate developer, businessman, and television personality who served as chairman of the Trump Organization.
I mean, that alone is just weird, right? Like you should have to practice a bit first before being the unpopular vote makes gives you the highest office in the land?

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