2017 October❮❮prevnext❯❯

september 2017 new music playlist

Decent month for music. 4+5 Star stuff in red, and in general in descending order of "you should hear this!"
Football isn't a contact sport, it's a collision sport. Dancing is a good example of a contact sport.
Duffy Daugherty

October 2, 2017

On my devblog, What Perl Taught Me
I kind of hate that while the primary task remains legitimate sorrow for every victim of the tragedy and their communities, the secondary task is sorting out does this support or undermine my worldview viz a viz Guns Culture is a Serious Problem VS. We Gotta Watchout for Islamic Fundamentalist Terrorists. (And to repeat, more sacrifices to our great god Gun)
Also I can't imagine it's an easy statement to write or the easiest adjective to think of, but "warmest" condolences?
2017102 - today is a bit of a palindrome.

October 3, 2017


October 4, 2017

Got a iPhone 8 yesterday, but for some reason didn't achieve instant spiritual enlightenment? Maybe I should have held out for the iPhone X? *chin scratch emoji*
Huh! using FB to lay tracks, acoustically as well as visually:

One Last Thing Before I Go - fantastic radio episode / podcast by This America Life. Hearing about the "Phone of the Wind" was moving.

October 5, 2017

I can't believe it took me this long to realize that robots don't use contractions because programmers don't like escaping single quotes.

October 6, 2017

I made a custom case with James Harvey art from my comic on mortality...

It's got it all! Artsy-Fartsiness (it's a Picasso), Boobies (it's a Picasso), an encouraging aphorism, my own head, a hoodie, and I can take photos through the physical form of it. (and the material is maple so I can always knock on wood) And then I made an artsy lock screen from a different panel of the same comic:

Me and my the shadow of my own mortality!

The only way these two things could be more Kirk-y is if they had Alien Bill and/or Tubas.
FOLLOWUP: I think it's too much! I like the lock screen but might look to change the case.
FEMA Deletes Information About Lack of Water and Electricity in Puerto Rico. When you start hiding relevant objective facts, you're doing evil, from the NRA blocking statistics being gathered to the DOE being told they can't use the term climate change. In denial and fucking evil. It's one thing to disagree on interpretation and meaning and making value judgements and priorities, but when your ideology goes downward to change the scene on the level of facts rather than the flow of influence going the other way, that's evil.
Lego Giraffe near the Assembly Square AMC - work field trip to see the new Blade Runner... we are so coddled.

October 7, 2017

Found an old DOS "lworks" text file (luckily ported to html by my past self at some point since then) containing a diary from my senior year of high school. Interesting how at the beginning of the year I weighed "still 197 pounds" - what I weigh now - but by the end of the year I had lost "about 30 pounds worth" of weight.

Man, my writing was insufferable. Very difficult for me to look back on.

Since misery loves company, here's a story I wrote 7/31/91
Jones and his Flight
Kirk Israel
"My God, this is like a dream!" thought Jones as he fell and fell and fell and fell.
Jones was not falling down in the sensible fashion. He was falling up.
He was hard pressed to explain exactly how this odd reversal of events (and gravity) was taking place.
So up he fell, slowly at first, and then faster as the savage acceleration gripped him. Vertigo caused his head to swim amusingly.
Jones was not amused.
He had been in his back yard, leaping to make a spectacularly athletic frisbee catch, when he inexplicably failed to return to terra firma. His friend was staring at the patch of grass Jones would have landed on (had gravity not been slightly inebriated,) utterly bewildered.
Now his lawn (not a huge lawn, but a fair sized place for the occasional casual frisbee toss) was just one of many lawns that Jones' commanding view afforded him.
The air started to get quite cold and moist as he continued his ascent.
It was getting harder and harder to breathe.
He could see the curvature of the Earth in the distance. Wow, was it big.
Then, popping out of the atmosphere like a cork out of a champagne bottle, via laws hitherto unknown to modern physics, his lungs exploded as all the pressure (14.7 pounds per square inch) inside of Jones struggled violently to equalise with the pressure ouside of Jones, namely next to zero pounds per square anything.
Thus ended Jones and his flight.
And a poem (8/11/91)
And in the distance I saw
A city of white that gleamed:
in imperial splendor
its defiant towers of ivory
thrust against the crystal sky
besides an angry green sea
I examined the mud and earth around me
that covered me and merged with me
untill it was not possible to tell
what was first dirt and what
was first me
so I set out to enter
I pulled my weary body
through the common sludge
untill I came unto the edge of
splatterings of mud
(or was that me? I could not tell)
fell of me, staining the
pristine road that I then
stood on
And on these defiant towers
I could see no doors and no
windows and no Cosmopolitans
conversed, standing between
towers of Ivory and so
I threw my head back and
screamed and laughed and
yelled and cried untill
breath came reluctantly
and my echo was my only
companion in
The donation bucket is always open! ....Actually, that's kind of how buckets work.
Me, during a recent JP Honk gig outside Purple Cactus in JP to raise money for Mexico Earthquake Relief where I was holding the donation bucket with my free hand while playing tuba.

'Know what I saw? On fire off the Shoulder of Orion? ATTACK SHIPS.' -- Norm McDonald as Roy Batty in 'Blade Runner'

October 8, 2017

I just love the TRS-80 Aesthetic... there weren't that many systems that were monochrome but still using huge chunky pixels (vs character graphics) Here's the port of Zaxxon:

Dancing Demon is the only program I remember seeing back in the day on the hardware, at school... besides Zaxxon the other Wayne Westmoreland and Terry Gilman games were pretty cool as well, like Donkey Kong

October 9, 2017

I am about to finish Dan Dennett's "From Bacteria to Bach: The Evolutions of Minds" and it's pretty good (though recapitulating stuff I've heard before from him) but it's a little disconcerting how he writes about Java Applets in the present tense - they were a great model for virtual machines, but it's not clear he knows how much they've slipped into the dustbin of tech history for the most part.
In The Kalevala, Vainamoinen and the others are burrowing into a mountain to find The Sampo, when they come across a bunch of snakes drinking beer. Vainamoinen is infuriated for some reason and curses all snakes so that they can never drink beer again. This is never mentioned again.

October 10, 2017


(The irony of crossposting that to FB when I could be doing something more productive is not lost on me)

October 11, 2017

On "Shower Thoughts" I saw "Trailers would be so much more appreciated if they didn't reveal most of the plot of movies/series..." Also last night Liz and Melissa and I watched "The I.T. Crowd" including the episode where Roy is trying to find a nice big screen to watch a "Tarantino South Korean zombie movie" but frustrated because his would-be watching companion keeps trying to guess or spoil that there will be a twist at the end.

There's probably a spectrum - and possibly a bathtub-shape curve with most people on one side or the other- of how much people care about plots being "spoiled" by trailers or online discussion. I know I'm at the far end of not caring, at all - maybe even liking them.... the slow reveal is absolutely not what I'm watching the movie for.

Being the indefatigable naval gazer I am, I'm trying to figure how and if that fits into other things I know about how I tend to view with the world -

It sort of ties into how I'm a shallow/skimmer. If I think about I realize I don't closely watch most movies, don't have much facility for keeping labyrinthine plots in my head, and when I really lose track, I just let go and enjoy the ride. (This happened a bit during the new Blade Runner.)

Also I probably have a preference for knowing where a story is going rather than being in suspense, because I like paying attention to how they do what they do, and not what they do. Maybe that suggests a new descriptor for that interactionalist and anti-essentialist vibe I've talked about before, where I care about how something is interacting now and now what you think it is: I'm a Why and How person, now a What or Who person.

Or- I'm very much about transparency, and err on the side of too much information (like this post, say!) I don't want to keep something to myself in case it turns out keeping it withheld was a mistake, and I'm solely on the moral hook for acting on that information. And I hate, hate, hate not knowing - almost any bit of not knowing feels potentially more threatening than any known issue. Hell, in some of my breakups, it wasn't the infidelity so much as the secrecy that killed me. So I like knowing things, like spoilers, but I also enjoy seeing how they make their broad strokes happen along the way.

How about you - do you hate spoilers, or don't mind them, or like them? And do you think the reason why someone is on that spectrum is an interesting question?

Latest diet thought (proven effective for at least one day...) -

I should eat so that a casual spy on my life, like someone reviewing a video of my day but no special insight to my intentions and inner-monologue - would know that I was dieting / trying to eat well. Or at least not be surprised to hear about it after!

Appearances are important - even appearances to ourselves.

Religions know this, and a lot of religious education I've seen emphasizes how God Is Watching. The Islamic salat has a part that acknowledges ever-present angels recording every deed.

For people who have their doubts about supernatural witnesses, everpresent or otherwise, maybe we can be our own witness.

In fact there's psychological research that says a displayed image of a pair of watching eyes can lead to better behavior... so this might all represent a kind of self-hack to take us out of the maelstrom of id and let the super-ego hold more sway in a way that is good for our longer term goals.
Dance like there's nobody watching, but diet like there is.

October 12, 2017

"The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent everything becomes clear and undisguised. Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart. If you wish to see the truth then hold no opinion for or against. The struggle of what one likes and what one dislikes is the disease of the mind."
Sengcan, Hsin Hsin Ming
Not sure it's humane to adopt this stance when other people haven't, and are suffering, but it's an intriguing lens.
FB's "5 years ago" feature reminded me of these Tom Swifties I posted:

"Well, that was average," said Tom, meanly.
"Ow, my balls," said Tom, testily.
"Meanest. Waitstaff. Ever!" Tom yelped.

My bandmate Nate came back with
"I dropped the toothpaste," said Tom, crestfallen.

Which I thought I had heard but inspired me to:
"I couldn't possibly eat another bite of marsupial steak!" said Tom, ruefully.
and later:
"My robot cyber canine will be worth every price to design and produce it!" said Tom, dogmatically.

That inspired Nat to go with
"I think I might be gay," said Tom, half in earnest.
which was visceral enough that I responded with
"I just drew an obscene image of genitals to illustrate Nat's last joke," said Tom, graphically.
"It was a really startling and funny joke to be introduced to," said Tom, being all meta.
I really like Tom Swifties that work on multiple levels, both the simple pun but where the quote is accurately described in the emotion.
I've heard various pundits point out that they've never seen their smartphone in a dream, but last night I was totally taking some One Second Everyday footage at some kind of birthday party in one.

October 13, 2017

"1111 multiplied by 1111 being 1234321 is the mathematical equivalent of white light dispersing through a prism to make a rainbow."
Hogwarts for Would-Be Christian Miracleworkers.
The show is the new dress

It's different for me, though, how I can toggle my view in a way I just couldn't with the dress - the dress was ALWAYS gold with (blue-tinged) white to me.
how to draw in perspective:

Ugh I've been doing it wrong all these years pic.twitter.com/NQkZOYqjwG

— Patrick Léger (@frenchprinter) October 12, 2017

Wait, how was I gonna start this off?
I forgot... oh, yeah
That's an awfully hot coffee pot
Should I drop it on Donald Trump? Probably not
But that's all I got 'til I come up with a solid plot
Got a plan and now I gotta hatch it
Like a damn Apache with a tomahawk
Imma walk inside a mosque on Ramadan
And say a prayer that every time Melania talks
She gets a mou... Ahh, Imma stop
But we better give Obama props
'Cause what we got in office now's a kamikaze
That'll probably cause a nuclear holocaust
And while the drama pops
And he waits for s**t to quiet down, he'll just gas his plane up and fly around 'til the bombing stops
Intensities heightened, tensions are risin'
Trump, when it comes to giving a s**t, you're stingy as I am
Except when it comes to having the b***s to go against me, you hide 'em
'Cause you don't got the f**king n**s like an empty asylum
Racism's the only thing he's fantastic for
'Cause that's how he gets his f**king rocks off and he's orange
Yeah, sick tan
That's why he wants us to disband
'Cause he cannot withstand
The fact we're not afraid of Trump
F**k walkin' on egg shells, I came to stomp
That's why he keeps screamin' 'Drain the swamp'
'Cause he's in quicksand
It's like we take a step forwards, then backwards
But this is his form of distraction
Plus, he gets an enormous reaction
When he attacks the NFL so we focus on that
Instead of talking Puerto Rico or gun reform for Nevada
All these horrible tragedies and he's bored and would rather
Cause a Twitter storm with the Packers
Then says he wants to lower our taxes
Then who's gonna pay for his extravagant trips
Back and forth with his fam to his golf resorts and his mansions?
Same s**t that he tormented Hillary for and he slandered
Then does it more
From his endorsement of Bannon
Support for the Klansmen
Tiki torches in hand for the soldier that's black
And comes home from Iraq
And is still told to go back to Africa
Fork and a dagger in this racist 94-year-old grandpa
Who keeps ignoring our past historical, deplorable factors
Now if you're a black athlete, you're a spoiled little brat for
Tryina use your platform or your stature
To try to give those a voice who don't have one
He says, 'You're spittin' in the face of vets who fought for us, you bastards!'
Unless you're a POW who's tortured and battered
'Cause to him you're zeros
'Cause he don't like his war heroes captured
That's not disrespecting the military
F**k that! This is for Colin, ball up a fist!
And keep that s**t balled like Donald the b**ch!
'He's gonna get rid of all immigrants!'
'He's gonna build that thang up taller than this!'
Well, if he does build it, I hope it's rock solid with bricks
'Cause like him in politics, I'm using all of his tricks
'Cause I'm throwin' that piece of s**t against the wall 'til it sticks
And any fan of mine who's a supporter of his
I'm drawing in the sand a line: you're either for or against
And if you can't decide who you like more and you're split
On who you should stand beside, I'll do it for you with this:
F**k you!
The rest of America stand up
We love our military, and we love our country
But we f**king hate Trump"

Lets let Graphic Designers fix the country

October 14, 2017

Removing ads from loveblender.com, which (not surprisingly) weren't making much of anything. But what I find funny is remembering once upon a time I thought they made the site look more serious and professional.

Blender of Love

Silence is so accurate.
Mark Rothko

October 15, 2017

Yesterday at the MFA...

Also I found out there's a book called "Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality"
[Nazi Germany] gave us a nightmare from which, in my opinion, there can never be an awakening.
Kurt Vonnegut to the American Psychiatric Association in 1988

High school is closer to the core of the American experience than anything else I can think of.
Kurt Vonnegut

I am enchanted by the Sermon on the Mount. Being merciful, it seems to me, is the only good idea we have received so far. Perhaps we will get another good idea by and by--and then we will have two good ideas.
Kurt Vonnegut, from the pulpit of St. Clement's Episcopal Church in NY (Palm Sunday 1980)

(these are all from the intro of "Letters", collected by Dan Wakefield)

October 16, 2017

Latest decluttering thought: WaPo on the upcoming book "The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning."

A few of her tips: Don't start with your photos, as you'll get bogged down in your memories and never accomplish anything. Make sure you keep a book of passwords for your heirs. Give away nice things you don't want as gifts, such as china or table linens or books, as opposed to buying new items. Keep a separate box of things that matter only to you, and label it to be tossed upon your death. It's okay to keep a beloved stuffed animal or two.

It reminds me of the thought that Kondo's "Life Changing Magic of TIdying up had a bit of a death wish.

It also reminds me of this Donald Hall poem and then a quote from Laura Miller:

Aging well is largely a process of recognizing what you don't need to worry about, one thing at a time, until, presumably, you winnow it down to life itself and find you can easily let that go too.

Kiko Alonso took an afternoon stroll with a Falcons receiver over his shoulder this is beautiful

October 17, 2017


88 lines about 99 luftballoons

the righteous mind and moral foundations theory

I just listened to "The Righteous Mind" by Jonathan Haidt. (audiobook- I still so miss having time to sit and read.) His project is to try and help liberals and conservatives understand each other a bit better.

The author starts with the elephant/rider metaphor he presented in "The Happiness Hypothesis" - the elephant is our big emotional/intuitive self, the rider is our conscious, our narrator self that can kind of guide the elephant, a bit, but isn't providing the motive force and in fact is mostly just making up post facto rationalizations for decisions that the elephant has already made.

I mentioned this to my therapist who I saw for the first time in a while last night, and tried to make the elephant metaphor jive with my self-image of a guy who has an above-average seeking of objective truth, even at the cost of having to withhold value judgement - sometimes, even without being able to state a simple fact ("your keys are on the counter") without disclaimer framing ("I think your keys are on the counter").

At first I thought that meant my elephant was better cajoled by my rider, cowed into submission, but another way of thinking about it is that my elephant is driven by the need for being unfaultable and therefore righteous. Being that kind of correct is somehow one of the most critical things of my sense of self. (This need is what caused me to lose my religious faith - the preponderance of other religions being a sign that my faith system didn't have the quality of uniqueness that was necessary for being True, and that my being in the church I grew up in, while other people were in the religion they grew up in, was also "suspicious") My elephant - or I guess it's the rider talking -
doesn't quite get that other people's elephants don't feel the same, and how value judgement flow so freely all over the discursive landscape.

So, back to the book. The book lays out Moral Foundations Theory - first the 5 the author originally indentified (Care, Fairness, Loyalty, Authority, Sanctity) and then a 6th to explain Libertarianism, and how it is distinct both from Liberalism (as the term is used in US) and Conservatism. Haidt argues Liberals put most of the weight in Care and Fairness, while Conservatives have a more even spread over the 5. This gives conservatives politicians some advantages, as they have more "hooks" for their audience. I guess some of that rings true to me, as a guy who leans liberal - Authority and Sanctity for their own sake alone, elevated to a moral good, seems foreign to me. (Huh - though I guess I might have a big emphasis to "Loyalty", at least on the local level, since being reliable and dependable is critical to my self-image.)

The author used a lot of thought experiment questionnaires to get at what people's elephants were really thinking, and to artificially provoke people's riders to scramble to explain why the elephant finds something repulsive even when no one is coming to harm. One example was about sibling incest; it squicks most people and they will call it wrong, even if the story deals with all of the surface objections (the brother and sister described love each other, it will deepen their relationship, they keep it a secret, and they are perfectly careful with birth control.) But a series of this and similar taboo-probing questions made me realize how phoney and artificial the stories are. They presume an isolation that doesn't exist in the real world - the siblings in the story might be found out, and they will have to live in a world that judges them harshly, and so keep their feelings hidden forever - a psychological burden for anyone! So you can't even say there's no pragmatic harm that's done. Similarly, many psychology lab experiments along the lines of "do you want $20 now or $30 in a month" presume perfect trustworthiness and stability of the system the test itself is in, which is just nonsense. We have brains designed to deal with a messy uncertain world, and just because it's easier for the experiment to claim total reliability so the test can be run free of noise, that doesn't mean people are irrational when they don't fully believe the experimenter.

Also the book was needlessly harsh on meme theory. The author gets kind of loose with his arguments - he points to the (widely accepted) similarity between memes and viruses, but then states meme-proponents would say that viruses (including "mind viruses" like religion) should be flushed out and removed like any flu or cold virus. I think most sophisticated meme-proponents would say, look, we're walking biospheres with countless "other" critters making the flora of our gut and elsewhere - religion might (or might not) be one of those helpful ones, and the presumption that all memes are bad for us is preposterous, whether or not you think it's useful to see memes as pursuing their own reproductive agenda.

In the end I appreciate Haidt's attempt to reconcile and appreciate what both Conservative and Liberals bring to the culture, but I think he's a little too kind to Conservatives. There are tough-to-reconcile contradictions with the Conservative "foundations" of sanctity and authority with diverse cultures (again the same contradiction that drove me from evangelical Christianity). I would say that he shows why Liberals need to wave the flag more and emphasize the E Pluribus Unum, and how being a real American is accepting the diversity. But all those diverse groups also need to signal their affection for that greater group project.

At the risk of digging myself into a bigger hole - there was a politician or public figure (wish I could remember who) who got ripped a while back for some naive statement saying (roughly) how all the different groups had different strengths, how like the Chinese or Japanese can put a television set in a watch, how the Puerto Ricans have strong family structure and can put a whole family in an apartment, etc - and I mostly understand why he was so ripped into, that those "strengths" aren't equally appreciated, in fact having to put a family in an apartment is not really good thing on different levels, and how its harshly and idiotically reductionist to put wide groups in stereotype boxes. I guess the thing is humans rate and judge everything. We seem to have a need not just that things be different, but rated as better or worse. (Smart people do this with smarts. It's all too easy to start to conflate smarts with human worth! While it's important to foster smarts in a community to make certain types of progress, that needs to be put in balance with many other concerns for the human project.) I think it's a reflexive defense against the implied "hierarchy of worthiness" that causes us liberals to rise so strongly against that kind of stereotypes, rather than the point that when you paint with a broad brush you're going to get many individuals labeled incorrectly (and also that many brushes are suspect because they DO come labeled with value judgements)
Another example of thought experiments I find false in the presumption of perfect, trustworthy knowledge: the trolley problem.
A trolley is hurtling down a track towards five people. You are on a bridge under which it will pass, and you can stop it by putting something very heavy in front of it. As it happens, there is a very fat man next to you – your only way to stop the trolley is to push him over the bridge and onto the track, killing him to save five. Should you proceed?
At its heart the question is meant to point out how passiveness is different than proactive responses, how somehow we feel more responsibility for deciding to "kill" one person than "letting" 5 people die, but - c'mon. That's not how trolleys work, even in thought experiments. You're probably a lot more assured that that fat man will die than the other 5 will be saved! Or if the problem is setup so you have to throw a switch on the tracks, 1 vs 5, what kind of melodrama cliffhanger crap is that? The dilemma would more be "do you set up a posse to hunt down the evil mastermind psychology researcher who contrived to make such a weird example real and do vigilante justice or just leave it to the relevant police authorities..."
This kind of thought experiment seems parallel to the tricks Casino's bank on - artificial environments where are instinctive understanding of things are shown to work only in relative and not absolute terms.
A post on recent findings in dyslexia got me thinking about my own typos, which I sometimes think of as "pseudo-dyslexia". I put this comment on this blog article, one of the highest ranked results for "phonetic typos"...
Sorry to be commenting on such an old post, but this article has high Google juice for "phonetic typos".

My main mix up has weird phonetic swaps between existing words – especially ones that start with "m" with "b", in particular "by" for "my" and "me" for "be" (it seems an oddly bidirectional switch, either) I heard somewhere that "m" and "b" has similar "mouth feel", so I probably have some neurons wired together from way back, along with evidence my typing systems piggybacks on my speaking system.

Other ones are "numbers and the sounds they have", so I read a poster for "5th Element" that said "IT MU5T BE FOUND" as "muft" – ignoring the visual pun for the acoustic part. And my first name is Kirk, and I have something I wrote as a toddler: KI4K"

So it's infrequent enough to be a mild annoyance, though I'm trying to figure out if it's getting worse with age.
These seem distinct to me from mere homophone swaps, their vs there vs they're and its vs it's...
Friends say President Donald Trump has grown frustrated that his greatness is not widely understood

[Trump] weaponized [the power of positive thinking]

October 19, 2017

Make the rounds is how MA (and about 20 other states) aren't in compliance with the "REAL ID" act

3 thoughts:

1. That state compliance map looks a lot like the red/blue split

2. I wonder what MA IDs are lacking feature wise

3. In trying to find out "2" I ran into
New applicants for identification would also have to obtain a "Real ID" compliant card, which would be marked with a yellow star and require applicants to prove their full legal name, date of birth, residence in Massachusetts and provide a verifiable birth certificate, Social Security number or other proof of lawful residence.
marked with a yellow star, huh? Superb optics there.
In the back room Melissa and I use as an office and my dressing room, I replaced a boring (and too small) IKEA chest-of-drawers with big ol' IKEA KALLAX (formerly "EXPEDIT", more or less) blocks.

It's funny how IKEA, clean Scandinavian design seem timeless to me. I remember looking at IKEA catalogs in the 80s and to the best of my recollection that stuff was pretty much like the stuff we have today. And even though interior design has never really been my jam, I remember being fascinated with those IKEA catalogs, along with "The New House Book". Or maybe it's just a matter of timing? Like, just how the Gap sort of permaset middlebrow clothing into a semi-aspirational, khakis look, maybe after the 70s things have just been largely settled.

Or maybe it's demographic? As officers in The Salvation Army, my parents were generally assigned pre-furnished houses or apartments ("Quarters")... at one time when they had a rare opportunity to buy all new furnishings, they went the "clean Scandanavian look". Reports were that the Officers who lived there after HATED that, and generally let everything go to crap so they could replace it with classic Colonial...

I suppose to people who like that Colonial look, IKEA stuff just looks cheap (and it can be... I mean there's no way it was meant to be moved around from apartment to apartment in the way Americans use it) and dorm-ish, while the Colonial stuff is true class... not stodgy and boring as it seems to me. As usual, I suspect a red/blue split on that, and correlations with politics etc.
The 7 Deadly sins of AI prediction, or why the robots ain't coming. As impressed as I am by Watson's success in Jeopardy, say, it's not clear that at any electronic mind is really doing a great job of modeling the relationship between things.

October 20, 2017

Huh - Google's Pixel 2 does Shazam/Soundhound style audio fingerprinting locally? And that db for that is only half a GB? I never would have suspected the numbers were like that (even knowing factoids how like a simple formula "does the subsequent note in series go up or down, note by note makes a unique key for melodies in a surprisingly small number of notes")

Thoughts from the Therapist

Thoughts from the Therapist..lately I haven't been going often, but one incidental impression I got from Irvin Yalom's "Staring at the Sun" is that there isn't one correct schedule for therapy. A year or two ago when I realized my once-a-week course was more than I needed, I leaned more towards dropping the whole thing - since then I've been doing the very occasional check-in session but with a sense of "I'm not doing this right". The session I had this past Monday was helpful, both because of the dialog with my therapist Terry Hunt and then how further reflections helped me get my own thoughts and feelings in more order.

For one thing, I can admit to myself that I look to my therapist for a kind of paternalistic approval - given that my dad died when I was 14, I guess I can be gentle with myself for desiring that, even if I guess therapy means it's a rent-a-dad kind of situation. Terry expresses a lot of enthusiasm for my way of looking at the world and my projects, and that means a lot to me. (Sometimes he lets me talk, almost too much - I was rambling on, and then he made a good point, and I had to stop him from encouraging me to continue the rambling because I wanted to absorb and sit with the point he had just made.) (Also, after seeing those old home videos I think they have similar voices, but that might just be coincidence.)

At the session, and after reading "The Righteous Mind", I realize that my "elephant" (i.e. what really drives and motivates me, vs the usual inner-voice conscious self as the elephant's rider) is the need to be a certain kind of Righteous - the righteousness of being 100% reliable and in accord with Objective, Unassailable Truth. Or at least 100% reliable in notating how unreliable I am... someone (including myself) being wrong about facts but still speaking with absolute authority is my vision of original sin. And parlaying judgements and interpretations into "facts" is similarly terrible. (Getting back to the elephant-rider metaphor, this puts me in the oddly circular position of my emotional motivation being making sure my intellectual self can fully justify the emotional motivation.)

What that tells me is I need to get away from a sense of absolutes. Intellectually I believe that if you really seek a true absolute, all you can find is the objective goalessness of the physical universe. To quote Peter Gay: "Since God is silent, man is his own master; he must live in a disenchanted world, submit everything to criticism, and make his own way." Existential philosophies point a way of living with this, and it's a fraught path.

But the way I've lived is assuming other absolutes. Every control dial setting I have "has to" make sense if you turn it up to 11. When I was religious, I had to be totally reliably religious. My attempt to live that sunday school way, while seeing religious peers drinking (besides the underage factor, my church is tee-totaling) and partying and fooling around in high school kind of busted my sense of lived faith. (I mean, I was fooling around a little myself, but at least I was feeling guilty about it.) Combined with how the world was full of so many other religions, it made the Absolute Objective Truthness of what I had been believing untenable.

Besides being a product of my own neuroses, I think this reflects my upbringing in Western culture. Some Eastern outlooks I admire embrace moderation as a virtue in and of itself, but it's not a point of emphasis for the Evangelical Christian culture I was swimming. (My upbringing wasn't fundamentalist, but I see how a need for being Objectively Unassailably True is why we have young earth Creationists etc... in the West, God is often all about being The Ultimate, the complete, the total, all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful, all-turned-up-to-11. We forget that there are other ways to interpret Him - how if you go back to the Old Testament you see a God who is sometimes all too human, almost petulant. The author Karen Armstrong does a good job of explaining how the Trinity covers a lot of old bases, from the unknowable, ineffable "Sky God" to the much more human types we see walking around Mount Olympus etc.)


So now I'm thinking of this in terms of pleasure, my own enjoyment. Now I've hardly been an ascetic monk, but I rarely have a sense of permission to say "I'm not going to do this because I don't WANT to do this." - that I'm refraining because there's no pleasure in it for me. I mean, if you had the "pleasure justification dial" set at 2 or 3, what Objectively True rationalization was there for not cranking it up 11? But what the existential stance tells me is: I don't have to dial it up because I choose not to. But I can also choose not to keep at its lowest settings without having to assume I'll become a pure hedonist or junkie or whatever. It can live at a healthy medium-high setting in balance with the other dials of responsibility and life in general.

Realizing that has led me live more pleasurably, and more appreciate the loveliness and ease of my privileged life, and better apply philosophies to better cope with the unpleasant parts.

My erstwhile arguing companion EB pointed accusingly to my roots as the child of Salvation Army ministers (an organization that tells its clergy where to live and what to do, and for them goes well beyond a normal 9-5 job)- he was convinced I imbibed the early lesson that I wasn't as worthy of attention as the charity cases they were helping, and that's where my sense of self-sacrifice came from. He was rather off base - he thought that my scene was a lot closer to communal living than it actually was. (Salvation Army Officer Kid family life is reasonably firewalled from the running of the church, despite the "having to change towns every couple of years" aspect). Still there might be something in seeing my current self rooted in my early family situation- Especially combined with a mom with an in-family reputation of a kind of stalwart "martyrdom" that I may have internalized as well. (Her younger sister nicknamed her "Betty the Good")

"Martyrdom" is an overly jocular and loose way of putting it, but I absolutely live with a sense of judging the cost/benefit of everything in a group, communal way - if I can make a small sacrifice that makes a larger difference to someone else, I feel morally obliged to make that sacrifice, regardless of the fact that I am me, and they are them. It's not absolute, and I'm hardly wearing scraps and bankrupting myself to give give give to charity, but it does drive me in a lot of ways.

So seeking to balance my maternally-derived "martyrdom" - a close friend of my dad's once told me (meeting with him years after my dad's death) that my dad had an especially well-developed sense of pleasure and delight. The short of this all is, I want to cultivate more of that in me.

(Some of my closest friends wrestle with depression, and my sense is some of the issue is that their knack of simple enjoyment and pleasure is tamped down, so sometimes I worry I can't give them good sympathy or empathy. I don't know how much the kind of mindfulness I'm suggesting here can help them, but I guess it's better than nothing.)
I think I expected more babies, from the title
Liz after watching Baby Driver...
Great flick! Like a less gross and violent Tarantino at his most stylized but with much better music.
"I do not produce thoughts, thoughts produce me."
Julian Barnes, "Nothing to be Frightened Of".
Listened to it on audiobook, after reading it and finding some great quotes by the author and from others in 2009

glug glug

JP Honk played the wedding of Lilia + Jason yesterday at the arboretum...

let the girls be funny
Justin Timberlake is going to do the superbowl halftime. Haven't been paying too much attention to the interview coverage they had, but I didn't notice them mentioning "nipplegate" so much. The nipple shield in the room, so to speak.
Because of fog they're broadcasting the Pats game with a lot of low, behind the QB angles rather than the usual high up views from the sideline... it's pretty awesome! Not only is it more visceral but you can see where the receivers are running. I wonder why NFL broadcasters don't use it more often.

October 23, 2017


My eyes still seem to be in pretty good shape, without much of a change of prescription for decades. But sometimes it still feels relaxing to use cmd-+ to bump up web zoom. Tough not to have a weird vanity about that. Wonder what year I'll tell my iphone to make everything big as well...
Tark carefully pounded the counter. "There used to be a time," he said, "when gun dealers would actually sell people guns! A time . . . called America. I miss that time."
About humanoid dinosaurs who have been hiding out on Mars and are now back to race motorbikes professionally.

The other great exchange:
INTERVIEWER: How intelligent are dinosaurs?
DINOSAUR RACER: We're probably not going to win any prizes, but if you think about it, neither are you.
Tark is the one character I've ever cos-played as.

October 24, 2017

Man, this is some GREAT analysis of a movie that looms HUGE (at least for a certain demographic) on several different fronts.

I really think agree with the early premise of this series of commentary ("Really That Good") that things that are hugely popular, especially over a long period of time, almost certainly have some redeeming properties no matter what the flaws are.
(via )
To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain 'the last best hope of earth' for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.
John McCain

October 25, 2017

Yesterday a work Tech Talk about a Unicode conference mentioned Nüshu, a kind of phonetic script for the local version of spoken Chinese, but used virtually exclusively by women. This article gives some of the background for it.

Of course, reading stuff like this is tough:
Women had to follow the "three obediences"--obey one's father, husband, and son. The practice of foot binding--preventing young girls from walking to show their high social standing--was still widespread throughout Jiangyong County, and unmarried girls were tucked away in house lofts doing needlework, weaving, and household chores.

"Jiangyong County girls were referred to as 'upstairs girls,'
While the USA has miles and miles and miles to go, and where different types of backsliding are possible, I'm grateful that the Western culture I find myself in has a history of individualism that was a framework women could leverage to claim their rights in the 20th century, from the suffrage movement to the 1960s feminism and beyond.
One of the first things people tell you about money is that it's an illusion. It's notional. If you give someone a dollar bill it's not 'worth' a dollar - it's 'worth' a small piece of paper and a small amount of printer's ink - but everyone agrees, everyone subscribes to the illusion that it's worth a dollar, and therefore it is. All the money in the world only means what it does because people subscribe to the same illusion about it. Why gold, why platinum? Because everyone agrees to place this value upon them. And so on.

You can see where I'm leading. The other world illusion, the other thing that exists simply because everyone agrees to place a certain value on it, is love. Now you may call me a jaundiced observer, but that's my conclusion . And I've been pretty close up to it. I've had my nose rubbed in love, thank you very much. I've put my nose as close against as I put my nose to the screen when I'm talking it over with money.

And it seems to me there are parallels to be drawn. Love is only what people agree exists, what they agree to put a notional value on. Nowadays it's prized as a commodity by almost everyone. Only not by me. If you ask me, I think love is trading artificially high. One of these days, the bottom is going to fall out of love.

Stuart in "Talking It Over" by Julian Barnes.

I know it's penny ante stuff, but sometimes grinding through to "inbox zero" and dealing with every issue (including some mild anxiety invoking ones, like, oh I should set up a BABAM gig for this despite the risk we won't get a quorum of people to sign up and have to cancel) feels like an act of courage. Feels good on the other side of it though. And for those fraught band gigs, well, there will always be more chances anyway (unfortunately) and there's still a solid core there.
New Weapon Designed By Russian Inventor Demonstrating Of Destroying US, Israel and Russian Tanks:

See also gyroscope buses and firefighting and the drive-through supermarket of the future.

Oh and Optimus Prime meets a $30 Drone...
I've posted it before, but Sylvan Esso's "Coffee" came up on shuffle and man, the song and the video is just so heartrendingly evocative.
The audiobook life is tough for a guy who digs grabbing quotes for his "commonplace book" journal. Anyway, I made a note to follow up on Julian Barnes' discussion of Edmund Wilson and his tumultuous marriage to Margaret Canby - I found the relevant passage here. (Also some more information on Wilson)
Some puzzle game UI study on my devblog...

October 26, 2017

He kissed her.

A kiss about apple pie à la mode with the vanilla creaminess melting in the pie heat. A kiss about chocolate, when you haven't eat chocolate in a year. A kiss about palm trees speeding by, trailing pink clouds when you drive down the Strip sizzling with champagne. A kiss about spotlights fanning the sky and the swollen sea spilling like tears all over your legs.
from "weezie bat" by Francesca Lia Block.
She has a gift for naming things, like a juice bar called "I Love Jucy" or a movie title "Shangri L.A." (vs "Hell-A" for the real Hollywood)
Love is just a system for getting someone to call you 'darling' after sex.
Stuart in Julian Barnes' "Talking It Over"

October 27, 2017

Librarian Twitter Rant Par Excellence. Why in holy hell would that dipshit he's responding to say "close the libraries" in the first place? (via, with a few followups)

October 28, 2017



October 29, 2017

Timepiece with the fewest moving parts: Sundial. Timepiece with the most moving parts: Hourglass.

October 30, 2017

the worst part about meeting new people is having to tell your life story like it's a coherent narrative you endorse

October 31, 2017

I don't know any of the merits of the case, but saying "give me a lawyer, dawg" might be ambiguously parsed as a request for a "lawyer dog" is straight up racist unconstitutional legal-rights-breaking HORSE SHIT.

(Jefferson Hughes was the one vote against. So hooray it was a white dude and not the one person of color? (also the only woman on the panel) )

Man. Laughable if not so infuriating. "Uh gee we couldn't get this guy a lawyer, because we thought maybe he was asking for lawyer dog" COME THE F*** ON.
Wonder if Vampire's would have a problem using iPhone X FaceID.

For that matter, do they have fingerprints? Or skin that conducts on smartphones in general??

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