2017 September❮❮prevnext❯❯

September 1, 2017

So I've been playing with doing 3-month seasons rather than one month videos for my "One Second Everyday"... so here's my summer!

Lot of good band-plus-dancer shots.
"How dare you speak ill of Hawaiian pizza. Pistols at dawn.
Or dusk, because dawn is pretty early."
"I guess that's why a lot of old westerns do high noon. You don't have to get up early, but you still have the day ahead of you should you survive."
Ryan and Daniel at work.
We have a slack channel "#stupid-dea-buddies" where we add to a numbered list of Stupid Ideas, and no one is allowed to criticize other people's ideas, we want to keep stuff positive! (Based on the question Was Twitter a Stupid Idea.) Anyway, it's a fun channel, I'd recommend something similar for any company that uses shared chatrooms.
"Premium Medicore". What was so wrong with "Middlebrow"?

i teach you the spongeman

A while ago my erstwhile debating partner introduced me to Rapoport's Rules, guidelines for criticizing the argument of an opponent. As formulated by my favorite philosopher Daniel Dennett, they go:
  1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, "Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way."
  2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
  3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
  4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.
Another term for this is "steelmanning" - in contrast to "strawmanning", where you knock down a lightweight representation of the opposing argument that's designed to be knocked down, here you make an effort to really understand and then gird it in rhetorical steel and state it back to them.

On some levels the rules' concept is appealing, but also - unlikely, I guess I'd say, for people who have are arguing sincerely. If you could whole-heartedly restate your partner's (or as the rules put it, "target's") view, you'd pretty much have to be believing it yourself. That "Thanks, I wish I'd thought of putting it that way" bit is also weirdly condescending - your displayed mastery of the domain is such that your "target" will humbly thank you for your cleverness of the restatement? For something that you still don't believe? What kind of insincere sophistry is that? Like a suit of armor, I think this kind of steelman will ring hollow.

My erstwhile buddy didn't really grasp my objections until he listened to Hannibal Buress on the Sam Harris podcast. (Admittedly Buress might be a little drunk, but I appreciate his sincere points) Around 29:00 minutes in, Sam Harris says

Here's a bet, here's a bet: I could summarize your view of me in a way that you'd agree with. You couldn't return the favor. You want to take that bet? I'm absolutely sure I can articulate how you view your side of the conversation in a way that you'd sign off on. I have absolutely no faith that you could do the same for me. That's a problem, we're not successfully communicating.
My buddy had an even strong reaction against Harris there than I did, that he saw Harris using the "I can see your side" concept as a bludgeon.

My counter-proposal was "spongemanning". The best we can do is try to absorb the other person's argument, then wring ourselves out, restating the argument as best we can, and have our partner comment on the drippings, to see how much of the salient info we had actually taken in. Spongemanning offers more substance than the superficialities of steelmanning, and it is more respectful than steelmannings "anything you can think, I can think better".

At its very best it invites participants to think about where their partner is coming from, and what are the headwaters of their current flow. (At the risk of straining the wet metaphor.) One of the few things I like about Ayn Rand is her alleged greeting of "What are your premises?" It's rather belligerent, but it gets to the heart of why sincere people who keep faith in the methods of rationality and discourse as a way of understanding the universe can still disagree... they have different starting assumptions and then differing concepts on what is best prioritized in life. By trying to absorb what your opponent is saying, you might better identify and catalog those sticking points - fundamental areas of disagreement where "agreeing to disagree" isn't throwing out the whole kit and kaboodle.

Behold: the spongeman! (With normal, double-tube-shaped pants)

Huh. After listening to an Atari podicast, I just now realized I know "Douglas Crockford" from two different contexts, Atari 8-bit demos and Javascript: The Good Parts...
I just found out the music composer for the new Mario/Rabbids crossover is named "Grant Kirkhope". That's a sentiment I can get behind.

august 2017 new music playlist

Descending order of "you gotta here this", 4-star stuff in red.
trump promising $5 million for president obama's birth certificate but only $1 million to hurricane victims is as on-brand as you can get

September 4, 2017

Random observation, years ago I recorded the Violence and Gore section of the IMDB's Parents Guide to 300 as a bit of "found poetry".

But somehow these days it's WAY watered down -

Wonder what happened? The old one was a bit over the top but the new one really doesn't do the movie justice.
Even as you grow older... there's just something about the world that kind of... When you're young, you've got a lot of rough edges, and the peaks will go super high, and the valleys will go super low. And as life kind of goes on, the valleys get filled up with stuff, so they don't quite as low, but the peaks get worn down too, so you don't have that absolute sense of wonder, and merriment, and mischief and all that kind of lovely stuff that you did when you were a kid. And I think [Glorious Trainwrecks] really tried to bring that back, you know what I mean?

September 5, 2017

Be careful about avoiding sidetracks. Don't go down them. There's always things you'd like to say and things you'd like to talk about. But they're not central to your topic and you've got to be brutal about not saying them.
Lance Leventhal, author of many Assembly Language Books, from the ANTIC podcast.
That is such hard advice for me to take! First of all, I find sidetracks enjoyable. Second of all, I liked to lead with the disclaimer, recognizing that there are other points of view...

September 6, 2017

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
Alleged African proverb. I love how sparsely evocative it is.

What It Feels Like To Die - the details might not be as scary as you think.

September 7, 2017

Ventusky What a visualization/animation:

Snapple fact: "Gorillas burp when they are happy." I guess for me it's the other way around.

September 8, 2017

"He who says, "Better go without belief forever than believe a lie!" merely shows his own preponderant private horror of becoming a dupe. He may be critical of many of his desires and fears, but this fear he slavishly obeys. He cannot imagine any one questioning its binding force. For my own part, I have also a horror of being duped; but I can believe that worse things than being duped may happen to a man in this world [...] It is like a general informing his soldiers that it is better to keep out of battle forever than to risk a single wound. Not so are victories either over enemies or over nature gained. Our errors are surely not such awfully solemn things. In a world where we are so certain to incur them in spite of all our caution, a certain lightness of heart seems healthier than this excessive nervousness on their behalf. At any rate, it seems the fittest thing for the empiricist philosopher."
William James, "The Will to Believe".
I have such a difficult time really absorbing this. My best model of my person epistemology and morality says there are two levels: the first of simple objective facts, the second of interpretation, goals, and "shoulds"... and that the second layer is vaporously thin, and I feel ill-suited to judge anything - except to that which seems to interfere with a clear view of the underlying objective layer. There I judge like a mo-fo. At least that's why I think I am like I am; sometimes I wonder if it's just me needing to be a perfect little beacon of truth for my ego's sake. But no... I think it's more accurate to say that accuracy about the basics is a hugely important thing for me. I am a proud member of the "reality-based community" Karl Rove mocks, and when Scott Adams says no, all that's important is persuasion, I'll try to persuade anyone I can that that attitude sucks.
Man, Florida's looking to get Chinese Hoaxed to pieces.

September 9, 2017

As many issues as I have with Scott Adams now, 25 years ago he really nailed one of the big weirdnesses of neuroscience, and of being a thinking thing in general...

September 10, 2017

"I look at myself as [sort of trapeze artist, without a net] if anything. But it's a way of expressing feelings about, a group of feelings. Wanting to put something back into the world. You know we're constantly taking. We don't make most of the food we eat, we don't grow it, anyway. We wear clothes other people make, we speak a language other people developed, we use a mathematics other people evolved and spent their lives building. I mean we're constantly taking things. It's a wonderful ecstatic feeling to create something and put it into the pool of human experience and knowledge."
Steve Jobs over dinner with Steven Levy
The interview transcript is an appendix to a new edition of his older book about the development of the Macintosh, "Insanely Great"

One thing the book mentioned was John Sculley pricing the late-80s Mac a bit high, going for profit margin rather than marketshare. I guess a version of that strategy is working well for Apple now, taking something like 90% of the mobile phone industry profits, but still visions of a world where the Mac had early, Apple II like penetration, and where every college kid had one rather than just the artsy ones... if HyperCard had been in the hands of even more people...

(Of course, looking around in the environs of Boston tech and Cambridge coffeeshops, it's astounding that only 1 in 10 PCs are by Apple - they seem to be omnipresent)

Getting back to the Steve Jobs quote, thinking of what I try to add to that pool. I guess except for "JoustPong" (heh) my best bet is helping people to calm down about death via So, You're Going to Die.

September 11, 2017

Aww, RIP Major William Bender. Great minister and overall guy.

Feel bad for me and Beau loving to jump startle him as he exited Cleveland Temple's office restroom! But he made it at 25 years after I left Cleveland, so I guess it wasn't a heart attack from that.

September 12, 2017

found this in the memory banks for Melissa who has been having one of those mornings...
I love the word "rankles". Some days everything rankles.

September 13, 2017

People just can't stop looking at this photo of a cat falling off of a table

Man, that was my first thought too.... Apple's Creepy New Emoji Are a Gateway Drug to Furrydom
And Tim said a really simple sentence to me. He said 'Do you think it's ok to punish people who've done nothing wrong?'
And I said no, even though I kind of felt somewhere in my heart that it was a trick question.
And then he said 'Then why is it ok to reward people who've done nothing right?'
And he said 'Can't you see that you can't reward without punishing, they are the same thing.'
That shut me up for a little while.
There's then a second question about the use of force but I felt this bit alone was containing at two errors, or at least massive presumptions:

One is the ending - reward = punishing, and the assumption that everything in life is a zero-sum game. That's radical overreach.

The second is - here we are, animate matter. ("Lucky me, lucky mud" to quote Vonnegut.) This is one of the most distinct rewards and privileges the universe bestows... and yet, undeserved by me. I guess you could say "well it's a reward for my parent's work in making me" but that leads to an infinite regress. So - it's ok, at least in this universe, because this is what the universe DOES.

So, while there might indeed be legitimate arguments about where to draw the line in what we as a society should do for ourselves via taxes and policing and regulation and collective military defense, I don't think it starts in a "all rewards must be justified by right action" stance.

September 14, 2017

HONK! Lifehack (HONK!hack ?) :
On Ebay, for around $35, you can get "Kobo" e-ink readers (like a cheaper form of Kindle) I got one and then dragged every PDF from my band's set of charts onto it from my computer... now I have a full set of emergency sheet music, like we have a new friend join us in rehearsal.

It's klutzy in a lot of ways, but beats trying to juggle lots of folders of printouts.

September 15, 2017

http://thekidshouldseethis.com/ This seems like a beautiful concept for a website....

Fran Lebowitz talking about race in the US

The way to approach it, I think, is not to ask, "What would it be like to be black?" but to seriously consider what it is like to be white. That's something white people almost never think about. And what it is like to be white is not to say, "We have to level the playing field," but to acknowledge that not only do white people own the playing field but they have so designated this plot of land as a playing field to begin with. White people are the playing field. The advantage of being white is so extreme, so overwhelming, so immense, that to use the word "advantage" at all is misleading since it implies a kind of parity that simply does not exist.

It is now common -- and I use the word "common" in its every sense -- to see interviews with up-and-coming young movie stars whose parents or even grandparents were themselves movie stars. And when the interviewer asks, "Did you find it an advantage to be the child of a major motion-picture star?" the answer is invariably "Well, it gets you in the door, but after that you've got to perform, you're on your own." This is ludicrous. Getting in the door is pretty much the entire game, especially in movie acting, which is, after all, hardly a profession notable for its rigor. That's how advantageous it is to be white. It's as though all white people were the children of movie stars. Everyone gets in the door and then all you have to do is perform at this relatively minimal level.

Additionally, children of movie stars, like white people, have at -- or actually in -- their fingertips an advantage that is genetic. Because they are literally the progeny of movie stars they look specifically like the movie stars who have preceded them, their parents; they don't have to convince us that they can be movie stars. We take them instantly at face value. Full face value. They look like their parents, whom we already know to be movie stars. White people look like their parents, whom we already know to be in charge. This is what white people look like -- other white people. The owners. The people in charge. That's the advantage of being white. And that's the game. So by the time the white person sees the black person standing next to him at what he thinks is the starting line, the black person should be exhausted from his long and arduous trek to the beginning.

September 17, 2017

Article on the background of "woke". I hate false symmetries but I've been thinking about some of the parallels with "taking the red pill" and "being woke". I'm wary of most claims of group-cohering revelations and special knowledge, but at least "woke" carries a sense of being aware so you can do your own thinking, whereas red pill draws more of a knowledge injection.

Still love that @mlliondollameat tweet:
wife: go see if the baby sleeping
*walks into baby's room*
baby: corporations exploit our insecurities for profit
me: no babe she woke af

6 Things Juggalo Culture Teaches Us About Trump (Ad-heavy Cracked link, their "Cracked Lite" app might be a better bet)

James Harvey linked to it, focusing on it's thought that ""People tend to interpret bluntness as candor and eloquence as dishonesty". I rambled about the whole "they're stealth Christians" angle that was there for a while but maybe didn't end up really applying (and how easily a group like U2 can mask a Christian heart from me with artistry and simple tricks like a gender swap for the Holy Spirit in "Mysterious Ways" - the Evangelical music I grew up near was pretty damn hamfisted) but then I thought more about the article's point.

Here's what I said:
This may be disingenuously sophomoric, but I think the "world hates us" perverse pride that powers Juggalos/Deplorables cohesion all comes from the human need to slap value judgements on everything. Things can't just be, or can't just be evaluated and valued for their objective productivity, people are desperate to figure out what the "shoulds" are, and then paint was is overall better and overall worse. (For people who fancy themselves clever it's very easy to conflate intelligence with human worth) So the privileged groups parlay their objective advantages into snobbish looking down at everything, and ICP and Trump is the reaction, like the article sets out.

I guess this is just a goofy pollyanna call for kumbaya, see-the-good-in-everything, but just now I noticed it ties into the idea that everything needs to be measured on many different dimensions but there's a human tendency to smush that into a single dimension of good/bad, or worthy/unworthy, which is one my earliest philosophical / existential morality cornerstones - an idea that's "sophomoric" for me in a very literal, second year at college sense.
Here's a 2004 retelling of that idea history, inspired by "Theory of Multiple Intelligences".

Blender of Love

Why do we like sports or movies? It's just incredible that a trillion-synapse computer could actually spend Saturday afternoon watching a football game. It's a colossal phenomenon that needs to be explained, and I'm not joking.
Marvin Minsky

September 18, 2017

After a long beautiful 4 gig weekend - Mill City Grows in Lowell, Prospect Hill block party, Boston Makers at the Children's Museum, and the Revels RiverSing parade.

RIP Stanislav Petrov whose profound application of common sense over following official procedure stopped WW3 from being started when some clouds looked like ICBMs to a computer system.
The revenge of bullet time: makes me wish I spoke Russian!


Amish life is about recognizing the value of agreed-upon limits, and the spirit of the internet cuts against the idea of limits.
I've had a deep respect for the deliberation that the Amish apply in terms of technology, ever since I read Wired's fair-handed treatment of them in 1999.

September 19, 2017

About the Juggalos March on Washington. I didn't realize how serious that "they're a gang" label the FBI socked them with was, and how it screws with a lot of lives.

Might as well called The Salvation Army a gang. Or Jehovah's Witnesses - and they're recruiting.
The juxtaposition of some deep and profoundly sad emotion against the semi-technical details of the composition and goals, of making the photographs deliberate... it's a little jarring. It can almost seem a little tawdry, but sometimes making good worthy art – art that measures up to the magnitude of the occasion – can't be left to happenstance.

So many of us have cameras in our pocket now, and many of us our becoming more fluent in a new visual language (usually pretty casual - but with the right filter capable of moments of quick beauty). Maybe we should all take a bit more time to set up some shots of people we love, photos that will tell the story about this time and this place and this person.

September 20, 2017

Heh, every once in a while I want to find this early iPhone vs Nokia E70 comparison... (warning, very swear-y)
From my devblog, farewell 32-bit iOS apps.... There's only 6 or so I'll really miss, but still. Apps are really what make smartphones special, and it's annoying when they go away.

September 21, 2017

Scenes from the Revels RiverSing:

The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.
(A work I hadn't seen before, but I dig it.)

It was quoted by Dan Dennett in "Intuition Pumps". Just this morning I decided to try switching gears away from podcasts to audiobooks. It's a challenge for me to listen as attentively as a book demands, relative to a chatty podcast or an NPR show structured to be listened to. (More and more I feel aware of how my preferred reading mode is "skim, get the gist and go back for the tough bits.) Maybe it's a good discipline for me. I am wondering if I'll be as able to extract tasty quotes as readily as I do from ebooks.
Making the rounds - If Bostonians Loved Other Local Institutions the Way They Love Their Local Sports Franchises

September 22, 2017

Shot from JP Honk @ Mill City Grows:

With my new commute I was so very little reading in, but lots of podcasts. Guess it's time to switch gears and use Audiobooks. I guess Audible is an ok deal - it's like a "book of the month" club except you choose the book, so long as I listen to at least one I guess it's a good deal.

September 23, 2017

The second redeeming feature (alongside Samantha Mathis' amazing purple-fading-into-white dress) of the widely reviled movie "Super Mario Bros." was that it had a good soundtrack, with Roxette, Divinyls, George Clinton - even US3's "Cantaloop". (Actually think there was a law in those times that every movie had to have that song - "Renaissance Man", "Sisters", "It Takes Two", etc.)

The oddest song, though, is Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch's "I Want You"... its mostly a goofy, bubblegum romance rap, but the funny part is how it starts with 45 seconds of slow piano and a woman sensually whispering and sighing "I want you..." -- interrupted by a full rap swagger "yeah baby, I want you too" and the drums kicking in - a kind of hilarious shifting of emotional gears.

The really weird thing is it wasn't on any of the lyrics sites. But... I have fixed that. No need to thank me, world.

(2018 followup: for some reason my lyrics there got rejected or otherwise didn't stick so here they are again, for your reading "pleasure")

Marky Mark "I Want You"

Ooh Baby-
[?] the things you to do to me
You make me feel so good...
Ooh baby...
I want you - I want you...

...Yeah Baby, I want you too

Aw yeah... c'mon c'mon c'mon
Uh uh uh uh
Gonna send this one out
to that special lady out there
Yo, She knows who she is

How do I want you?
Let me count the ways
'Cause when I'm with you girl
It's like I'm in a hot damn daze

And I just can't comprehend it
When I'm with my friends I just try to pretend it's
Just a temporary little love thing
But there's something about the way
You shake your thing

You got me wanting;
Even more than life itself
I've had many but I don't want anyone else.
So what's it gonnna be?
I want you, now tell me do you want me?
Because if you do then I'm gonna give it to ya
My lovin baby, y'know I wanna do ya

Early in the morning
When you just finish yawning
And then all night
'Cause I'm gonna make it feel right
And for your loving, on my knees girl I'll pray
And if you're with me this what I'll make you say
Yeah and then I'll make you say
And then I'll make you say
Yeah and then I'll make you say
And then the funk beat sayin'

(I want you)
Do you want me too?
(Love is true)
Girls you know it's true
(I want you)
But do you want me too?
(Love is true)

It's me, the M A R K Y baby why
Baby why do you gotta keep holding on when I'm holding on
The sweet tip, honey dip your grip
My insides to shreds
Promise not to spread
My love like butter on a bagel 'cause it's you
And only youthat I want to do the do to
I told you that you make say ooh and I mention
Expressing admiration girl for you I'm representing
I'm all about giving you my all and all
In the Spring Summer Fall, Marky Mark's the one to call

So what's a snap
And a chippy at your side
It's the man with the plan
No bluff- I got the right stuff
You know I'm hop-hop dip
But for you I'd flip
On the New Jack R+B Tip
So get with my program, I hope and pray
That you'll come my way, and if you do I'll make you say

Yeah and then I'll make you say
Uh, And then I'll make you say
And then I'll make you say
And then the funk beat sayin'

(I want you)
Do you want me too?
(Love it's true)
Girls you know it's true, I said
(I want you)
But do you want me too?
(Love it's true)

Yeah baby.
When I'm alone at night, the only thought that ever comes to my mind
Is your beautiful face
And I want you to know
That you'll always have a man in me-
A man that'll treat you right
And love you all night

I want you my baby
I want you my baby
I-- want you
I need you baby
I want you baby
I love you
I need you
I want you

(I want you)
Do you want me too?
(Love is true)
Girls you know it's true, I said
(I want you)
Do you want me too?
(Love it's true)

(I want you)
Do you want me too?
(Love is true)
Girl you know it's true, I said
(I want you)
Do you want me too?
(Love it's true)
I don't want nobody but you (uh-huh)
Girl you know it's true
Yeah baby
I want you and only you

I don't want nobody but you (uh-huh)
Girl you know it's true
Yeah baby
I want you and only you

So sing...



I want you
I want you

I want you
Oo oo oo oo

September 24, 2017


September 25, 2017

Bummer Trump is too busy playing cranky racist old football-watching grandad to tweet about Puerto Rico.

And playing swaggering swingin' dick tough guy with North Korea. Great experiment, Mr. Dealmaker-in-Chief.
Professional athletes take a knee when another player is hurt. I like that they're all taking a knee since the country is hurting.

September 26, 2017

It's kind of weird that "You didn't think it would be that easy, did you?" is a well-worn turn of phrase. I mean, it way predates "Kill Bill", right (and that "You know, I kind of did" response) and that's why they used it? Do other languages have it? It kind of packs a lot of murphy's law into it.
Mom sent me Mr. Rogers Plays the Tuba:

Kottke pointed out how great Dale Hansen's take on Trump's response to the NFL protestors is:
Donald Trump has said he supports a peaceful protest because it's an American's right... But not this protest, and there's the problem: The opinion that any protest you don't agree with is a protest that should be stopped.

Martin Luther King should have marched across a different bridge. Young, black Americans should have gone to a different college and found a different lunch counter. And college kids in the 60's had no right to protest an immoral war.

I served in the military during the Vietnam War... and my foot hurt, too. But I served anyway.

My best friend in high school was killed in Vietnam. Carroll Meir will be 18 years old forever. And he did not die so that you can decide who is a patriot and who loves America more.

The young, black athletes are not disrespecting America or the military by taking a knee during the anthem. They are respecting the best thing about America. It's a dog whistle to the racists among us to say otherwise.

They, and all of us, should protest how black Americans are treated in this country. And if you don't think white privilege is a fact, you don't understand America.

September 27, 2017

I'm getting some tuba bell costumes printed up for halloween for Scheiny and the horn of my buddy Ezequiel... I described some hacking I did to make these in a entry on my devblog:

The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly the one you'll never have.
Søren Kierkegaard

How Trump Is Ending the American Era. One point I hadn't thought of, for people who liked his being a businessman, and thought it a plus- someone "who has spent a career in charge of a small, family-run corporation without shareholders [isn't] likely to pay much attention to external views." Even with the premise that a someone strong in business (which is a dubious description in Trump's case; he's more of a study in the power of marketing and branding, powered in large part by the mellifluous name his grandfather had to replace "Drumpf") brings something good to the political table, there would be more to if that personal history involved being accountable to external stakeholders, outside a narrow little circle of family and sycophants.
Not to tempt Murphy and His Immortal Law but I'm glad that when it comes to overthrowing the ACA, the GOP is more like the Republican'ts.


September 28, 2017

RIP Hugh Hefner! Shame "the Playboy Interview" became less of a force over the decades.

September 29, 2017

The Rural Higher-Education Crisis. Young rural white folks aren't going to college much. I wonder how much of that is what kind of industry they see near them. It's hard for me to imagine my kind of work far away from a population and high tech center, though I know a few people who consult from home on projects. But then again I am poor at visualizing how any community makes its economy work.
"I think it's a good health tip to say 'I'm not a worrier.'"
Bill Murray.
Also a lot of the things on this page of Bill Murray quots were pretty good.

September 30, 2017

People are such goofy essentialists that they just can't believe that something has good parts and bad parts especially if it's something they like or feel loyal to.

"To become wise you must learn to listen to the wild dogs barking in your cellar."
Irvin Yalom, quoting Nietzsche.
I enjoyed his book "Staring at the Sun" both for it's views on coping with mortality (the main emphasis was the symmetry of non-being preceding your birth with the time after your death) and appreciating the "ripples" and how we can live on after our death in the people we touched. Also I liked the insight the book provided into the therapeutic courses others have taken.

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