August 1, 2017toyintrospection

August 1, 2017

click for skullslinkies
One time, in a bit of a fugue state, I had a vision of my own mental landscape; a skull full of entwined slinky-in-a-sock like snakes, each colorful and short-lived. Each represented a subconscious process that would compete for attention and control of me as a "self".

(This model is relatively compatible with Minsky's "Society of Mind" concept.)

These thought slinkies were feeling anxious, and also frustrated by the short-livedness of their own existence, and predicting that once my normal, narrative-self reasserted itself, all their concerns about being in that state would be forgotten...

Anyway, I made skullslinkies, an animation based on this vision.
Went to a Ear/Nose/Throat doctor. For most of the summer I've had a lot of post-nasal drip, a lot of hocking, especially in the morning. The allergist did the skin tests, but nothing looked like a likely culprit. But the E/N/T doctor's suggestion- more water (with caffeinated stuff counting as anti-water, basically) and some flonase for a while seems kind of unsatisfyingly un-substantive.

He asked about how well I was sleeping. I guess the answer is, ok? It's hard to know what to compare it to, really. I'm not at the far end of the spectrum of falling asleep at inappropriate times or always feeling like total nap-needing crap, but who doesn't run a sleep deficit?

Louis CK too has a bit, especially as you get older, doctors figure there's just stuff you live with. But it's so tantalizing to think, well, maybe there's some little mystery tweak I could make and I could be tons better...

july 2017 new music playlistplaylist

August 2, 2017
Decent month for me finding music, especially for funk and r+b. As usual in descending "man you should hear this!" order, with stuff I called 4 stars instead of 3 in red...
"I don't mind that people wallow in ignorance, I just wish they wouldn't splash so much."
Great point that rings true - Trever Noah: Donald Trump Is Everything People Thought A Black President Would Be

August 3, 2017

To grow old is to lose everything.
Aging, everybody knows it.
Even when we are young,
we glimpse it sometimes, and nod our heads
when a grandfather dies.
Then we row for years on the midsummer
pond, ignorant and content. But a marriage,
that began without harm, scatters
into debris on the shore,
and a friend from school drops
cold on a rocky strand.
If a new love carries us
past middle age, our wife will die
at her strongest and most beautiful.
New women come and go. All go.
The pretty lover who announces
that she is temporary
is temporary. The bold woman,
middle-aged against our old age,
sinks under an anxiety she cannot withstand.
Another friend of decades estranges himself
in words that pollute thirty years.
Let us stifle under mud at the pond's edge
and affirm that it is fitting
and delicious to lose everything.
--"Affirmation", by Donald Hall. I love those final 3 lines... it reminds me a bit of "Dulce et Decorum Est".

August 4, 2017

The latest 99% Invisible podcast is about Time and "Ways of Hearing", some fascinating stuff about how digital timekeeping and click tracks have changed music, along with digital's weird flexibility, and some interesting tangents. At about 12:00 in Damon Krukowski talks about the classical musicians' "Tempo Rubato", stealing time here, but give it back here, and says it's called "Swing" in jazz or "Groove" in Rock and Funk...

At around 24:30 he says:
There's something very distinct about an experience of analog time, time that flexes slower and quicker -"Tempo Rubato" - and this feeling of "blurred time" from latency. For one, I can't think of a musical term for "latency", perhaps because it's not like anything we experience in lived time.
That seems false to me. As a student brass player I was frequently instructed to "anticipate", that if I started the mechanics of playing a note exactly on the beat, I'd be late.

For large ensembles (especially ones spread out like a marching band taking the field) the instruction was to use our eyes on the conductor or drum major to keep time, listening to our neighbors would result in slowing down at best, chronologically disjoint chaos at worst.

Even non-musicians have experienced the delay in thunder after lightning, or with a firework and its report.

Hell, our whole lives are lived in a weird bit of latency that our brains edit out! That's why have concepts of fast or slow reflexes... (not to mention an illusion of free will, but that's a different story.

(And at the far end of the spectrum, Einstein says that the speed of the light is the latency that we can never, ever get away from!)

While hanging out with my folks in NJ, Melissa and I fired up "Warioware" for GameCube. (She sometimes wonder if her life would have been slightly more interesting had she grown up with games). Those microgames, little tiny doses of gameplay, are cool and fun, and accessible to non-veteran gamers... Anyway, listening to an old Retronauts podcast about the N64, I found out that a very recognizable version of the mircogames, effectively a prototype in retrospect, came bundled in Mario Artist: Polygon Studio, a 3D modeling program that used the rare disk add-on for the N64...

See also this interview with some of the WarioWare team...

August 5, 2017

I was reading "100 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design" and the section "Red With Black" had El Lissitzky's "Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge"...

I remember seeing that as a kid in the book to accompany the BBC/PBS special "The Shock of the New". But what made more of an impression on my young mind was Nikolai Kolli's "Red Wedge":

Leaving the politics aside, the imagery is so striking.
Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? The title is a bit hyperbolic, but the concept is important, and a bit terrifying. But I think it's weird that there's this quote:
The survey asks teens how happy they are and also how much of their leisure time they spend on various activities, including nonscreen activities such as in-person social interaction and exercise, and, in recent years, screen activities such as using social media, texting, and browsing the web. The results could not be clearer: Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy.

There's not a single exception. All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness
But not a single mention of the word "game" anywhere in the article... aren't videogames a big part of this for some part of the populations the author is talking about? I feel like "All screen activities" is misleading, or video games are MUCH less a player than I would have thought - but given other articles I've seen about young men who may be less inclined to get out and get a bad job because living at home playing games provides a much crisper effort/reward cycle, I don't think that's the case.

August 6, 2017

"Well truly does conquer all.

Except herpes. Love does not conquer herpes. Herpes is undefeated. Herpes is the Floyd Mayweather of STDs."
--Danielle Young + JudasIscaredycat
Here's the New 'Frozen' Musical Poster (and Seven That Didn't Make the Cut). Really great seeing the brainstorming at work.
ha, JoustPong for sale on ebay - complete with color manual and limited edition commemorative t-shirt!

(For those who don't know, JoustPong was a game I wrote for the Atari 2600 in 2003 or 2004 or so (you know, twenty years or so after it would have been an actual commercial proposition) - but still back when you had to write that kind of thing in assembly language. Got a nastygram about the name from Atari's lawyers so it became FlapPing)
Fantastic, somber little article Questions for Me about Dying

August 7, 2017photoramble

when the hat matches the tuba

One of the few tuba shots here that's not of me, btw
Great take down of that anti-diversity memo at google, from a guy who just recently left the company, and so can talk a bit more freely. (Update 8/17: Another take from the Economist)
A few days ago I asked on FB
Is there a single word for "able to readily be put into words"? Like "quantifiable", but about words...
My friend Anne suggested "articulable", and that seemed to be the best bet. ("Describable", as in the opposite of "indescribable" missed the mark somehow, and I wrote a follow up:
See, The opposite of "articulable" (or its maybe more flexible usage, "can't be articulated") has some interesting differences with "indescribable" and "ineffable". Those two so often get into supernatural woo-woo and the like; to some extent they deal with what can be "truly known".

I suppose there's something too with the practical opposite of "articulable" being along the lines of "can only be intuited". I guess "indescribable" is often implying "can only be known via direct revelation". So it suggests a epistemological triangle: knowledge that is articulable, knowledge that can only be intuited, knowledge that relies on direct revelation.... and each corner has its own words to describe it (and its opposite). Also, one of these corners is not like the others - only articulable knowledge is amenable to meaningful debate.
Come to think of it this was some of the sticking point for me and my erstwhile discussion buddy EB. I place probably too much emphasis on the articulable corner, and sometimes doubt the validity of the other corners. There's another aspect too, of how stuff is learned; EB emphasized the "body memory" aspect of things, like how taking the time to think and reason can get in the way of muscle memory and true mastery. You can get from "articulated knowledge" to deeper forms of knowing, but it's a slow tough process.
This looks cool

August 8, 2017

The biggest problem of fundamentalism is that it says "our simplified model of the universe is sufficient, and if you have any further questions you should dig deeper into the model". At least science (which might not be free of its own type of fundies, but still) encourages people to look out in the objective world to make the model better.
"The cat is trying to open the door on the hinge side. I laugh, then realize that I make the same mistake with people, ideas, and doors, too."
--New Yorker cartoon (circa 1997)
A rather thorough look into what's wrong with "Ready Player One". As always if you want a great sci-fi read with a tinge of 80s/90s era videogamery (in the most alien way possible) try Constellation Games by Leonard Richardson
Hubris (n) 1.excessive pride or self-confidence. 2. (in Greek tragedy) excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis.
Amazing Atlantic Piece, How America Lost Its Mind.

I've always liked postmodern-style of thinking, but now I'm wondering how damaging it may have been.

Here's the problem: there are two levels of knowing. There's objective facts - not perfectly knowable, but close enough for many, many purposes. This is the lower level where science lives. Then there's the interpretation of those facts, and the search for meaning. That's where philosophy and religion lives, on top of that. That's where "should" and "purpose" come from and where we have to construct our moral discernment.

These two layers have been squashed together. In America, I blame fundamentalism. For a while, during the times of the Enlightenment, after the Scientific Revolution, Christian belief hitched its wagon to scientific finding. Those two layers seemed compatible. But as the base level started to pull away from simplistic, literal readings of the holy texts on the layer above it, fundamentalism doubled down, and started letting the upper level of meaning leach down and bleach out the level of simple facts. Or I guess we could say: before that time, the layer of facts was relatively flatter - there was less proof of it, fewer spikes, less ways where the obscure science facts mattered in day to day life. But it got spikier, and rather than moving on up, fundamentalist belief keeps trying to wash the spikes out. Hence, museums with Noah hanging out with dinosaurs and crap like that.

I feel - and I may be misleading myself - I'm better than average at separating those levels. Or maybe I just emphasize the lower level too much. The weird side effect is I'm kind of less judge-y than most people I know (except on epistemological matters, i.e. the study of those two levels, where I can be either judge-y or condescending as hell). But when it comes to things of life style? I really don't judge, except final results. If it's "working for you", great! I only have the right to judge whatever you want once I have empirical evidence that yeah, you've made choices that have led to results that could objectively be read as suboptimal by most reasonable interpretations. (I do feel I have a very strong submission to that lower level of basic facts, to the extent that I will rarely state even the evidence of my own sense without a protective "I think..." or "it seems like..." It's partially a form of egoism - heaven or something forfend I ever be subject to being wrong! )

I do think if people made a clearer divide between those two levels, the world would be a better place. "FAKE NEWS" should be even more of a thing than it is.

August 9, 2017tuba

"A tuba player holds a weighty object and breathes deeply."
--The poet Donald Hall
"Exercise is boring. Everything is boring that does not happen in a chair (reading and writing) or in bed. Sculptors and painters and musicians live longer than writers, who exercise only their fingers with pen or on a keyboard. Sculptors chisel or weld or mold clay. Painters work standing up. They drink quarts of cognac every night but return to physical activity the next morning. A tuba player holds a weighty object and breathes deeply. Even a harmonica requires more fitness than writing."
--Donald Hall, in "Essays After Eighty". (Context for the tuba reference.)
Also, Donald Hall quotes Henry Moore quoting Rodin quoting a stonemason: "Never think of a surface except as the extension of a volume."
Stupid Human Tricks!

I made a simple countdown timer to count down to 00:00:00. You can pass in simple RGB colors for the background and foreground for the start and once it hits zero, e.g. this link. See my devblog for more info.

August 10, 2017

the claims you've made on love-
i think it must be sin.
(as if the deepest
part of me
was found six inches in!)
(an unearthed poem I made way back when, experimenting with PoV....)

"I think there's an awful long way for adventure games, interactive fiction, whatever you want to call it, to go. And I hope that more people will come into that field from outside the computer field. Up until now, it's been rather like, well, imagine if everything ever written on a typewriter had been written by the guys who invented the typewriter."
--Douglas Adams (in "Family Computing" June 1985)

August 11, 2017historydad

Our family friend Larry Wittenberg had a Super 8 w/ Sound camera and has a bunch of brief home movies. (Pretty nifty gadget.)

At least two of them have some footage of my dad. I think it's the only audio footage of my dad I know of, except there might video tape of him playing a elderly grandfather stuck in a rocking chair for a Christmas pageant (given how sick he was at that point, that part wasn't much of a stretch, alas)


(Love the shot of my mom Youtube picked to thumbnail it.)

The opening scene is a child on a distinctive kids chair, consisting of 3 slotting rectangles, made by my grandfather (there are two piece in all, and either can be stood as a chair, a rocking chair, or a desk)

Quiet scene of my dad at 0:20.

Then it's a Wittenberg and Israel kitchen scene, I suppose in our place in Cincinnati.

At around 0:54 is my dad, hiding behind his hands from the camera. At 1:06 the camera is on me, and I think my dad is talking about the mafia (a group he consistently despised, along with the movies that would glorify them.)

2:00 has my dad sticking his tongue out at the camera. Later there's some further goofing and some leg.

Around 3:13, it's a new recording. The scene changes to our over-the-church apartment in Salamanca NY. That's the first home I had recollections of, and could sketch out its layout. Now it's a surprisingly small grass field. My Aunt, Uncle, his son, and a Salvation Army cadet from Poland are also there besides my family the Wittenbergs.

I recognize a lot, like the mission chair, lamp and server from St. Thomas still in my mom's house, the record player behind my dad at 3:52, the umbrella plant "Kirk Tree" that was planted when I was born (finally died a few year ago). I guess as an "Officer Kid" who moved around a lot, it's those kind of objects that make a place for me... in almost any photo taken in an old apartment, I'm often as or more interested in what books are on my shelves then whoever is in the main subject of the shot.

Around 4:00 is probably the single biggest stretch of my dad's voice. Along with me in the background clowning for attention.

My Uncle at 4:50 and one of his infamous naps...

At around 5:15 my dad does a bit of deliberate pantomime with a pampers box, a stuffed koala bear, and a brush , kind of invoking the "Little Tramp" bit with the rolls from "The Gold Rush"

Finally the video ends with a quiet shot of an infant and a toddler, probably just using up the film.

A lot of feelings struck up with this, from some cringing at how attention seeking I was then (I know it's a fairly normal part of life especially that age but still) to some things that will never be fully resolved between father and son, to just a general feeling of bittersweet nostalgia.

August 12, 2017

Paste: What's the best piece of advice you ever got?

Tambor: It's a piece of advice I don't understand, still. It was taught to me by my teacher: "Adore everything." I'm still not quite sure what it means, but it's very powerful. We have a tendency to think--down the line, when I'm paid, and I'm walking the red carpet, and I get to be a series regular. And it's not that. It's everything. It's about the ups and downs. See, the great thing about being an actor--and the lucky thing about being an actor--is for the civilian, when the dog dies, you mourn and you bury the dog. With the actor, the grace note is--the dog dies, you mourn, you bury the dog... and your acting gets better. Because the "paint" gets more vibrant. There's more history to it.
--Paste Magazine interviewing Jeffrey Tambor, who played the dad in "Arrested Development" and the mom in "Transparent"

August 13, 2017tuba

photo by Jason Victor Rosenman
Trump: "*All* cars driven into peaceful counterprotestors matter"
"By all means, compare these shitheads to the Nazis. Again and again. I'm with you."
--Mike Godwin

August 14, 2017

Well, despite the bad news of neo-nazi dorks planning their upcoming "free speech" rally in our lovely city, in the meanwhile we can feast on the tears of yankee fans.

I admit I'm getting a little FOMO with not going to full-eclipse-land.

August 15, 2017

Blender of Love

"There's a line from a Russian poem. It says: 'We love just once in a lifetime. And spend the rest of our lives looking for something similar.'"
--Man from St. Petersburg, Russia (via humans of New York) -- crazy sad tale
No Nazis - No KKK - No Fascists USA -

"You can't be anti-participation trophies and pro Confederate statues. They are the world's biggest participation trophies."
"In the past, empires were ruled by emperors, then kingdoms were ruled by kings. Now we have countries."

August 16, 2017

"We're all just future cadavers, right?"
--Emmett FitzGerald on 99% Invisible's Episode on the Stethoscope. (Inventor René Laennec worked with sick patient before and after they died to learn more about what the sounds could tell us...)
Was thinking about doing a snarky comparison with Trumps "I like winners" view on McCain set against his tolerance for statues of Robert E. Lee. Skimmed the wikipedia page on Lee. I guess the case is made that he, himself, wasn't a big defender of slavery. I mean, I'm not sure it matters; this cultural fight takes place about a lot of really important ideas, ideas that go down to the roots of what this country stands for, and how we must treat each other if we want humanity to thrive, with liberty and justice for all; but maybe it's sometimes useful to remember that sometimes specific fights are mixing up the map with the territory.

August 17, 2017

I remember growing up in upstate NY and we'd have those Lender bagels, the ones in a bag... I figure we must have had them with blueberry jam along with the cream cheese, because this Greek Yogurt w/ Blueberry brings back such strong sense memories it's kind of uncanny...
Another take from the Economist on a response to that leaked Google discrimination memo

August 18, 2017

At around 1:50 they are doing some great Sousaphone flips-- I remember in high school, the older guys could do that one thing where in one fluid motion you lift up the horn, flip it around your back and replace it... never learned how to do it. Not sure if it's possible with my brass horn Scheiny, and potentially expensive (in repairs or medical bills) for this 40-something to find out!

TIL: Trump frickin' made up a Civil War battle so he could put up a plaque about it on his golf course.

Telling quote: "Many great American soldiers, both of the North and South, died at this spot" - an earlier form of that "both sides" shtick we've heard from him lately.


August 19, 2017

Darn fine time play with BABAM, thousands of peaceful and enthusiastic counter-protesters.

Dammit, thanks to Islamic terrorists and alt-right dingbats - also terrorists - it's going to be harder to enjoy watching the Blues Brothers drive the Bluesmobile through the parted crowds and then over the bridge making all in the Illinois Nazis jump in the water.

But I still hate Illinois Nazis.

August 20, 2017tuba

I can't say enough that the folks playing in the protest band today were HEROES, going (nearly) nonstop for a good 4 hours, elevating and uplifting the entire event, sounding like a million bucks. Anyone who knows any of these Honkers, feel free to pass along my heartfelt thanks.

Posted by Sarah Darling on Saturday, August 19, 2017

Random Memory: St. Patrick's School in Salamanca was changing "Fathers", and to the outgoing one they had us students sing "Hasta Manana / 'Til We Meet Again / Don't Know Where / Don't Know When / Father Our Love is Much too Strong to Die / We'll Find a Way to Make a New Tomorrow".

Turns out that's a slightly tweaked Abba song. But that's a... pretty generous translation by the second line of the first... guess they just went for the sound and not the sense of the Spanish.

"These people are doing it right.

Violence allows Nazis to pretend to be victims.

Tubas just make them look like the dumbfucks they are."


August 21, 2017

The clip I didn't know I needed: Cookie Monster meets Animal:

making the rounds...

August 22, 2017ramble

Was playing with the idea that all our energy for action - ALL of it - comes from emotion, not from thought and cold rationality. We can shape ourselves so that we have emotions that support rationality so that we act in ways that are in accordance with it, but it's not the logic itself driving things.

One of the occasional participants in my UU "Science and Spirituality" is a therapist who describes her practice as Freudian, and of course she's well aware of the issues with some of his views, and how that kind of practice can seem oddly quaint and out of step. But based on my layman understanding of Freud's ideas, I think there really is something to the Id/Ego/Superego division - a division that is often under the radar of everyday life, but that emerges with sufficient introspection as seeming likely to be an accurate and useful model. (In much the same way you can kind of shove your way into some level of grasping "the self really is illusion" concepts of Buddhism through thinking along side the more traditional practices of meditation.)

For me there's a tie in to Superego and the sense of Objective Truth. Though I guess Superego provides a host of "shoulds", while Objective Truth just says what is. And you can't get ought from is directly. But in my life, one of the highest moral goods is pursuing the most accurate level of shared understanding of Objective Truth, foregoing judging of the should levels. "Whatever works!", objectively, is generally ok by me. I guess that view is what cost me my simple religious faith; the multiplicity of beliefs was on the whole incompatible with singular Objective Truth, and my duty towards that (and my humbleness in thinking 'what were the chances that the faith I was born into was THE one that was correct? Pretty small') caused me to drift from the church of my youth.

But I dunno. I guess there's an obvious parallel in that emotion/thought divide as there is with faith and then the cold dispassionate description of the Objective Truth - that I'm incorrect in thinking I have a pure method for aligning my life with being correct in the objective sense, because it will always be tempered by my subjective experience, what I was taught, and what I feel...
"If only one person in the world had a sense of humor, it would probably be labeled a mental illness."
"One of the essential qualities of liberalism is that it always disappoints. To its champions, this is among its greatest virtues. It embraces a realistic sense of human limits and an unillusioned view of political constraints. It shies away from utopian schemes and imprudent idealism. To its critics, this modesty and meliorism represent cowardice. Every generation of leftists angrily vents about liberalism's slim ambitions and its paucity of pugilism. Bernie Sanders and his followers join a long line of predecessors in wanting liberalism to be something that it most distinctly is not: radical."
--Franklin Foer, "Why Liberalism Disappoints"
"If you're OK with Waltham... you're OK"
--Proposed City Slogan by Johnny Boom-Boom and me

August 23, 2017tuba

My horn "Scheiny" and a little friend, Matt M's pocket trumpet:

Jon Snow and Beric Dondarrion, Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 6:

What does he want from me?

He wants you alive.


I don't know.

That's all anyone can tell me. 'I don't know'. So what's the point in serving a god if none of us knows what he wants?

I don't think it's our purpose to understand. Except one thing: we're soldiers. We have to know what we're fighting for. I'm not fighting so some man or woman I barely know can sit on a throne made of swords.

So what are you fighting for?

Life. Death is the enemy. The first enemy and the last.

But we all die.

The enemy always wins. And we still need to fight him.

That's all I know. You and I won't find much joy while we're here. But we can keep others alive. We can defend those who can't defend themselves.
Did I really just order a $20 sewing machine? (And are they any good for light tasks?)

August 24, 2017

Aaron T. Pratt‏ @aarontpratt: "And, now, the tiniest and most delightful memento mori skull I've seen in print, from 1475. Behold:"

via white space conflict:

"Fun fact for the youth: Middle-aged people don't know they're middle-aged. Being in your 40s feels like being 25 with a few sports injuries."

August 25, 2017ramble

Pondering about "Personal Growth", and my relative skepticism thereof. Growing up as a precocious kid with a big dose of "fixed mindset" (i.e my worthiness was rooted in being such a darn clever little guy, an intrinsic trait) I've grown up into someone who's totally tonedeaf when it comes to, say, character arc in a novel, because I figure everyone's pretty much the same core person their entire life, they might learn things and act a bit differently over time, but it's kind of superficial. At no time is it clear that a bunch of quantitative changes in behavior and outlook become a qualitative achievement of "growth".

(Come to think of it, all those positive personal developments seem to need tending, lest backsliding occur! Why do we always hear about "personal growth" but not "personal shrinkage"?)

It's weird, for a guy who is kind of skeptical about having an immortal soul, or anything independent of the body (save for a poetic sense of the impact we can make on other people) I certainly tend to act like there's a core, unchangeable essence of identity that has a few soul-like properties...

I'm thinking about how I've developed along with my main band, JP Honk. I remember a few years ago we were almost on the verge of adding a semi-regular other tuba player, and I was... I don't know, bothered by it, a bit jealous. I think I was insecure with my place in the band, and so the same sixth grade "I want to be on a unique-in-group instrument" vibe that caused me to switch to tuba from baritone in the first place reared its head. I knew that feeling was pretty and stupid, but it was still there.

I think since then I've gotten over it, and I welcome any addition to the bass part in any group I'm in. Part of that is confidence, and having done more leadership in my group, I know I'm useful and important in multiple ways. And some of it's just security about my relationship to HONK in general, and learning how to better apply my general sense of Feynman-ish "What do YOU care what other people think?"

But... is it growth? Personal development? How do you categorize it, and does it matter?
Best eclipse video:

August 26, 2017ramble

Following up to yesterday's rambling. David Parmenter said "I'm not with you" on that, in terms of him being a big believer in personal growth. Fair enough - I see my inability to grok personal growth as a problem myself. But it was funny how much his comment bothered me for a second.

Lately I've been thinking of how I operate with a two-layer view of reality; simple objective reality, the first level of facts, and subjective interpretation, the second level of judgements. My emphasis is on supporting a shared understanding of that first objective level; to the extent that most of my "judginess" involves things that block understanding of that factual leve (in other words, people with agendas that make propaganda that distorts the underlying facts) and I also have a severe reluctance to judge people's behaviors in typical ways - since if I start judging on that second level (with its proclomations of what people "should" do) it increases the chance I might be incorrectly working based on assumptions about "facts on the ground" that I'm wrong about.

So, I'd like to think that David's comment bothered me because of how it might be indicating that I'm just objectively wrong. But there's the conservative-related view that no, I'm bothered not because I'm wrong, but because someone in my peer group thinks I'm wrong. Rightwingers have really leapt on this concept of "mere virtual signaling" - they are awfully dismissive of most attempts to say the right thing, because they find it likely to be insincere. This accusation is at risk of mixing up the medium (other people's opinion) for the message (a description of objective facts-on-the-ground reality - or in the case of judgement, an opinion most likely and widely agreeable (i.e. the facts about what personal growth is and isn't.))

In this "fake news" age of "truthiness", I'm a liberal in part because I think liberals are more humane - who look to expand the "circle of empathy" - and because they are also amenable to level one reasons - especially in terms of science - in a way conservatives ain't - especially with their emphasis on faith. Now, the conservative view might point to examples of liberals desire to be humane distorting their interpretation of plain facts, and in some cases that's true, but I find in general liberals have the edge in not going for "if the facts don't match the theory, change the facts". (Hm, I think this is why I find the self-appointed name "objectivism" so objectionable, with it's dubious claim that there's an ironclad connection between level one facts and level two interpretation and recommendation for behavior that "objectivists" have unearthed.)

Yesterday I was listening to a 2015 podcast where Marc Aaron interviewed President Obama. A quote that struck around 42:30 "But the truth is though, it is accurate to say I believe in reason. And I believe in facts. And I believe in looking at something, and having a debate and an argument, but trying to drive it towards some agreed upon set of assumptions about what works and what doesn't."

Maybe there's a correlation with my "profound shallowness". I don't trust things that aren't directly accessible. For example, I don't like music that demands (and hopefully rewards) deep and attentive listening. You can take my "recently added playlist" and with very little further curating have a good mix for a party. My view is if there's an art form that demands you work to understand it, that "sophisticated" audience is now vested in promoting its quality (if not of the individual artwork, than of the worth of the format as a hole) because it justifies the effort they put into learning how to appreciate it. I like video games with physics engines rather than story, I like board games that are about performance and creativity and not strategy and planning, because the appeal is visceral and harder to deny, rather than cerebral and debatable and more prone to subjective uncertainties.

(PS speaking of that first level/second level stuff - notice how I hedge almost every paragraph? "I think" "is at risk for", "might", "maybe"... is my habit of couching things that way acknowledging the difficulty of getting to objective truth and the uncertainty of any position at the second level of judgement? Or is it me just covering my ass so none of my peers can say I'm wrong? Or both?)

August 27, 2017tuba

can i get a little squee for my super-niece cora and my tuba scheiny?

"Goddamn! Once you got no legs, everyone takes everything so serious. Heh - I mean, there's only so much any of us have any control of, good or bad. If you didn't learn that in Afghanistan, you were not paying attention. [...] I mean, ma'am - Kim - you've got to move on. You're giving yourself way too much credit. You embrace the suck, you move the fuck forward... What other fucking choice do we have?"
--Specialist Coughlin in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Great film! (Though, err, not quite the comedy-per-se the dvd cover led Liz and Arun to believe. Funny in parts though.)

August 28, 2017

"Hope is a fine thing, but it don't gurgle none when you pour it out of a bottle."
--The Old Soak as channeled by Don Marquis. The book, half a lamenting of prohibition and the old salloon culture, half poems on a similar theme, was kind of like a Will Rogers take on his Archy and Mehitabel stuff (Archy and Mehitabel were of my favorite sets of poems when I was in high school, Archy the cockroach throwing himself with all his cockroach might to transcribe the tales of Mehitabel the cat...) I also liked the verse "The fool will give his life to booze, / The wiser man taboos that, / And I'm a sad Budweiser man / Than when I used to ooze that."
Odd side effect to not being very judgemental: you end up with friends who get annoyed by some of your other friends, so making various friend permutations can become fraught, and you end up looking for a Rodney King-esque "Can't We All Just Get Along?".

August 29, 2017

The Oral History of the VFX of Terminator 2. Amazing what they were doing, and how you can kind of follow along.
""Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it," he wrote. "I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process." He later wrote, "I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected.""
--Slate on mafia-conspirator Felix Sater in 2015

August 30, 2017ramble

The other day I realized there's a weird parallel between stoicism and its concept of "attend to that which you have control over, and ignore the rest" and some types of eating disorders, where people curtail their eating as being an exercise in something they can control.

A few weeks ago I snagged this link about the "voices in our head", the parts of us that are us, but separate from our main, self-narrative-constructing selves. "To achieve their goals they lie like crazy. They know you -- have been around you a long, long time." Mine seem to be the form of inner-children, loving sweets and creamy textures and demanding to be shown how they're just the smartest, most-creative beings in the world, and pushing me away from tasks that are might reveal my need to grind stuff out.

Combining these concepts: having control of stuff appeals to young children, who live in a world where they have relatively little agency, and are generally at the whim of the grownups. I wonder if the rational me can get more desireable results over these inner-children -- the indefatigable-snacker me and the angsting away from doing productive-but-not-ego-affirming work me -- by showing these toddler how this IS something we can have control over, that we have great (if incomplete) power over these parts of the world. They can be in their glory like the little 4 year old waving an imaginary baton to conduct the actual band, and I can get some damn work done.
"You can't do much carpentry with your bare hands and you can't do much thinking with your bare brain."
-- Bo Dahlbom

August 31, 2017

hacks hacks hackhackhacks

Some are great, some are a little too perfectly staged. Using a sponge when pulling out a nail with a claw hammer seems smart.
A blog I like, Lost in Mobile, sometimes parlays thoughtful comments into new articles. Here's a bit from a comment I made on an entry on folks being jaded about smartphone improvements:
Sometimes I still get myself a little frisson of excitement about how cool the little gadget I'm carrying is, how chuffed I am to have my Todo list all organized on it, and my music all sorted and at the ready, etc. I think that's a weird kind of consumerist mindfulness. I'd seriously suggest people do that – take inventory of the blessings bestowed upon you by an engineering savvy society – from crisp clean water, hot showers, and flush toilets, to public health saving us from a bajillion ailments, to our crazy ability to travel at 60 mph like it ain't no thing and hundreds of miles faster than that for a reasonable sum, to the way our little gadgets have access to SO much information, and provide (for worse but generally better) a constant lifeline of contact with our loved ones. Be thankful for all this stuff, because it's well-nigh miraculous.
Full ramble here...