2017 November❮❮prevnext❯❯

November 1, 2017

Slate:The iPhone X Takes Hand Gestures Too Far

I've never been a fan of gesture interfaces, and life with an iPhone X requires a whole new slew of them. (Conversely, I've always been a big fan of the home button; an easy to access "lets take it from the top" escape hatch can be enormously centering, like how when I click on a website's name in their header on any page I go to the site homepage.)

That's one of problems with the designer's dream of being such world-beater designers they they can stop having to actually, you know, design- having achieved the zen of "a piece of featureless glass"... the phone then just consists of an OS and apps - but having to designate certain finger moves as "ok, now you're communicating with the OS" makes a less known reliable channel, and one prone to accidental invocations, and takes away from the language of gestures that apps are allowed to use.
"America lacks that common sense. It has extraordinary sense instead, which is why, even now, even in the middle of its great darkness, artists and entrepreneurs still love America, still need it, still want to move there. America is the place where you can come up with your own meaning."
But, you're entitled to your own opinion. You are not entitled to your own facts. This is why Scott Adam's "Where Facts Don't Matter" stance is absolute anathema to me, one of the most immoral ways someone can be.

November 2, 2017

One of the most bittersweet feelings has to be when you realise how much you're going to miss a moment, while you're still living it.

On FB my friend Josh wrote "I brought in a big bag of assorted minis to work last week. This remainder says something..."

My response was "I can't believe they got rid of the other 2 flavors but kept the name. THIS IS MORE LIKE ONE MUSKETEER PEOPLE".

His friend Frederick wrote "'Flavors'?!? 3 Musketeers? Talk sense, man!"

Originally, it had three pieces in one package, flavored chocolate, strawberry and vanilla;[1] hence the name, which was derived from the novel The Three Musketeers. Rising costs and wartime restrictions on sugar saw the phasing out of the vanilla and strawberry pieces to leave only the more popular chocolate.[2]

october 2017 new music playlist

Decent month for music, a lot of HONK!fest and tunes from "Baby Driver"... 4 and 5 star stuff in red, listed in descending order of "you gotta hear this"

November 4, 2017

Thinking about this more, and at the risk of sounding a bit facile - I think there's a lesson for both Conservatives and LIberals:
Conservatives, Superman is right. The USA is not just a nation of whiteness. Even taking into account the UK roots of of governance and our deep roots in Western traditions, it is our multicultural aspect that makes us what we are. E pluribus unum.
Liberals: the subtext of the footer is right. "American" is a special concept - we are a unique experiment in the world, and a special blend, and we need to foster a kind of patriotism. We need to be clear about our unifying concepts of liberty and freedom and justice and opportunities and concepts that unite us as a nation. E pluribus unum.
Guns -n- Prayers will be the Right Wingnuts "Lisa Simpson Anti-Tiger rock" for the Nov 4 "Antifa Revolution Day" or whatever the hell it is. Did it work? See any tigers around here? Welcome to the Right's "Facts Don't Matter" World.
Two random thoughts:
1. I am appalled at how bad my brain can be at lateral thinking. For months I knew about a level in the new Mario game called "New Donk City" but it wasn't until I played it and caught a few visual references that I realized the Donk comes from Donkey Kong, and not some weird onomatopoeia.
2. Saw Dresden Dolls last night and realize now I probably saw Amanda Palmer's "Eight Foot Bride" living statue around Harvard Square back in the day. Who knew? Not me!
RIP Laika

November 5, 2017

Played through the main story mode of Super Mario Odyssey yesterday- I muscled through that in pretty much a day, but there's a lot more to explore in it. Yeah the plot is the same lame old Damsel in Distress (made a bit worse by the "and Bowser is plundering all these themed lands for wedding gifts", and a big wedding scene at the end, though tempered by Peach saying forget both of you, I'm not your damn trophy and am going off on my own adventure) but its capture mechanic ("Remember kids! Keep on a hat lest you get possessed by Mario!") really delivered in one of the main things I play video games for: engaging physics and alternate controls. Taking over a Tropical Wiggler to stretch around a bend (with subtle squeezebox sound effects) or using a Poki's beak to sproing up a wall are visceral delights.

I'm impressed too by the Switch, I was thinking that the ability to play away from the TV like a tablet or Gameboy wouldn't be that useful since I don't have a commute, but it really adds some nice options , playing in bed, or in the living room when something else is on television, etc.

November 6, 2017

FB greetedme with a "Happy 10 Years on Facebook!" (The accompanying video was much less compelling than FB's usual photo-harvesters) - I have to take their word for it, it wasn't enough for me to note on my website or private journal.

I have very mixed feelings about FB. I'm less sensitive than some to the privacy concerns it generates, because I've always intuitively fallen on the side of more information, less judgement. I appreciate that it keeps me in touch with a wide swath of people. I sort of hate how it (and twitter and tumbler and instagram and anything that lets users assemble a feed from people they find interesting) sucked the air out of the independent web and "blogosphere" - I miss the small batch of friends who were regulars on kisrael.com - both in the comments (that later got swamped by spammers) and then on "@Dylan's Sidebar" that I later opened up to be the Sidebar of the People - https://kirk.is/sidebar/

And of course now that FB has parlayed gossip into a source of "news", and exposed fracture points for various crowbars to reach into and separate us...

I still double post everything on https://kirk.is/ , my "statement of record" for what it's worth. But for a looong time FB is the only place I expect to get any response. (Although some of my friends prefer I'm sort of glad Google Plus isn't much of a thing, because triple posting felt g*****n ridiculous.)

I miss my 1996 Honda Civic Candy Apple Green Hatchback sometimes - seeing this car still kicking makes me regret the extravagance of my 2004 Scion xA.
"ExtJS was a mistake. One we, as a society, may never recover from." Slater posted about ExtJS and I scavanged our dialog for my devblog.
Rand Paul was physically attacked? That's awful and bizarre. Even if there's a political aspect to it I'm sort of glad it wasn't a random nutjob. But like the Republican softball practice shooting, this is giving too much fodder to anti-leftists.
horse_ebooks was just a warning shot. Parents, curate stuff for your kids because things have gotten really really weird

November 7, 2017

More slow progress in refining my understanding of myself and maybe the human condition.

I find for almost everything I don't like about myself, and even some of the things I do, there's a cynical explanation (usually along the lines of doing things for external approval) and a more sympathetic one (that I do things for more moral reasons - and so that approval from my social group is just validation, a sign post that I'm on the righteous path.)

A few weeks ago I was talking about the metaphor of the elephant (our intuitive knowledge and motive force) and the rider (our narrative rational self that takes credit for guiding us but is mostly just hanging on for dear life and making up after-the-fact explanations for what the elephant does) and how my elephant is weirdly self-referential; that what drives me emotionally is a desire to to be correct rationally.

Cynical explanation for that: I just can't stand being wrong, or I fear being called out. Sympathetic explanation: This kind of striving for truth is what righteousness IS for me.

Maybe my need to not be wrong is something parallel to OCD, or even a form of it... if a person with OCD doesn't do their counting, or get whatever ritual right, what will happen? Rationally they often understand things would probably be ok, but at the emotional level, things would be Wrong. "R, O, N, G, WRONG!" as my beloved high school math teacher Mr. Pawlowski would say. For folks with clinical OCD and for my (hopefully subclinical) need for truth: even if we know in our heart there may not be external consequences for being Capital-R Wrong there are absolutely real internal and emotional ones - integrity-challenging ones, in fact. There might not be a God of Correctness looking for me to slip up or hoards of peers waiting for me to have an incorrect view, but there might as well be.

Cynical explanation for the comparison with OCD: It's a self-coddling, excuse-making, half-assed self-diagnosis. Sympathetic explanation: it's a useful metaphor that might provide insight in to my own processing, and even empathy for people who suffer from the real deal.

When pontificating on a topic that I know has different sides, I often feel compelled to start with the counterargument, which makes my train of thought rather hard to follow at best, and at worst gives my debating opponent more ammo.

Cynical explanation: I am showing off how smart I am, and how I've considered every angle, or possibly trying to pre-empt counterarguments by showing how they've already been considered and found wanting. Sympathetic explanation: accepting that there will always be subjective disagreements on the higher level of judgement (vs the low level of plain fact, objective reality) is critical to me and this is how I go about describing it. Also, it reflects the non-linear way my mind works.

I had a (possibly final, or at least last for a while) walking discussion/debate with my estranged college buddy and erstwhile debate companion EB. He used the conservative labeling of some liberal behaviors as mere "virtue signaling" - this cynical view discounts the motivations of liberals as just showing off how they're in accordance with the values of their tribe, their echo chamber, that "political correctness" isn't just using language considerate of the feeling of other groups but a tool for reinforcing a power structure.

I guess I don't understand why "virtue signaling" would have to be mere posturing - even if it has an important social aspect, why it can't be doing two jobs at once, and so also reflecting intrinsic belief and motivations? In evolution they talk about signals, messages animals are effectively sending to each other (The bright colors of a poisonous butterfly serving as a warning to leave me alone, it'll be better for both of us, or the antelope stotting when the lions about, leaping up and down in the presence of a predator to show off how hard to catch it is) But the entire enterprise is founded on the fact that signals often mean something. They can be faked, sure, and a good faked message provides real value for its user, but there's an entire arms race of signals that are hard to fake.

Cynical explanation for this whole damn essay, and other ones like it: I'm a self-absorbed navel gazer and out to show how smart I am. Sympathetic explanation: this is just stuff I'm working through as I try to piece together a satisfying moral path against the existential backdrop of the universe, and by posting it I hope to get insights from my fellow travellers, or maybe help them coalesce their own thoughts. Sure I'm contemplating my own navel, but there are darn few other navels that I have permission to gaze into - or at least thoughtscapes that are accessible to me as my own interior.

Unrelatedly, I'm listening to the self-help book "F*ck Feelings" (more out of curiosity and not finding much appealing on Hoopla). In general I like its message of getting through self-delusion and working with what you got, but I've never liked a message it echoes of "At least you can know you've done your best". Life is a ceaseless plethora of demands on our limited resources and energy and focus and time, so there are always compromises we could probably make in terms of those, but that we probably shouldn't under normal circumstances. It seems wise to usually leave something in the tank in case something comes up, you know?

I feel like I would be a bad football coach-ish peptalk giver.

November 8, 2017

your self esteem will skyrocket once you realize that constantly putting yourself down is essentially negging yourself like some ouroboric pick up artist

November 9, 2017

You know, I would love to read a right-leaning "why do liberals love Obama so much?" article. I suspect there's an asymmetry in this kind of coverage, and that's why I'm glad I lean left the way I do, but there may be bias in my assumption that there isn't such an article, and in the implications if there's not.

November 10, 2017

Jean Charlot's book of drawings and captions "Dance of Death" was in my parents' library as I was growing up, and left an impression. You can now see it as a PDF on the Artist's website.

Death and Yorrick (Death:"As our great bard says...")

Death and the Pugilist (Death: "When I hit 'em, they stay hit.")

Death and the Artist (Death:"Your prices will skyrocket!")

It's almost as if Hugh Hefner was projecting a force-field that protected creepy famous men, and with his death they were suddenly exposed.

November 11, 2017

Last night Melissa mentioned hearing how shelters tend to round down on kitty's-to-be-adopted ages. Which makes total sense but is a little melancholy on two fronts all the same.

Blender of Love

Happy Armistice / Veterans Day! Today BABAM marched with the Veterans For Peace --

November 12, 2017

The Globe had a reverse angle from yesterday's shot, where BABAM! marched with Veterans for Peace

personal growth "quickies"

My big personal growth / philosophical questions right now:
1. How does one recognize personal growth? At what point can an extrinsic improvement in behavior be safely or at least reasonably considered an intrinsic improvement in character? (AA says that even for people who by and large fix their lives, "once an addict always an addict" - given on how many fronts backsliding can happen, that while skills improve hardly anything becomes effortlessly graceful, I wonder if my intuitive skepticism about personal growth has some backing to it, or if everyone recognizes that but still finds these word games helpful)
2. Would more equanimity lead to more apathy? Does the anxiety and irritation and frustration and ego that I'd like to get away from serve critical purposes in guiding my behavior towards better things? Is not feeling anger about things that are out of my control a form of maturity or giving up? Can cheerful reason carry the load of getting me to behave well and pursue worthwhile things that otherwise find their impetus in my discomfort and discomfort? (And if so, has this always been the case? Would I always have been as productive a person, or even more so, if I didn't carry these burdens? Should I try to help young people I might advise to also pursue this equanimity or is there even more of a risk they don't have the moral or intellectual framework to carry that load, and so should rely on good old appeal to authority and anxiety?)
3. I feel that my self is best represented not as a unified thing, but at least as two parts - the intuitive, emotional elephant and the rational, narrative rider at the very least. But, am I best thought of as only that 1-2 split? Or do I, like Whitman, "contain multitudes"? This problem is even more academic than the other two - I'm not sure if it makes a big difference if I have an inner child or inner children, if each neurologically-based impulse-generating can act like a persona or is just a thought thinking itself (or more exactly an emotion er...feeling...er... itself) and if my rational narrator, so quick to claim credit for being the truest me (but full of so many post-facto rationalizations for what I actually do) is a monolithic thing too? But it's something I'd love to know, so I can come up with more effective strategies of guiding the whole lot of them where I'd like to go.

So if anyone has the answers to those, let me know, otherwise I'll just be over here thinking for a while.
Christopher Mooney answering the Quora "How do people feel in their last minutes of life?":
I had a near death experience once, when I was pretty sure I was 20–30 seconds away from the end. Like, I mean, I was completely sure I was about to die.

I remember my feelings at the time, vividly. How could you forget.

1: I actually felt very calm. People are scared of death. But once you know it's happening, and you can't do anything about it, you find peace. It was actually one of the calmest, most peaceful moments I can recall in my life.

2: I was very very reflective. When you hear the stereotypes of "your life flashing before your eyes", that's exactly how I felt. I reflected on my life, and who I was, and if I could have done anything better.

3: It sounds funny, but I also really had this "well, this is just my luck!" kind of feeling. I actually found it kind of humorous. I was kind of laughing a bit, about how unlucky I was!

This experience, actually helped me find a lot of faith. Because, although I was an atheist at the time, I didn't actually feel like it was the end. I wasn't thinking in terms of my existence being over. I was almost feeling like I was just moving on from one part of my life, to the next.

I, kind of, had no fear, because I didn't think it was that big a deal? I know this sounds crazy, but all I can say is, that when the moment came, my mind was completely prepared for it. My brain kind of changed, and I understood everything, and was prepared for everything. It's almost like the human body/brain is completely prepared for it's demise, but you don't get to access this skill until you really need it?

November 14, 2017


new logo tech'd up on my devblog

Stuart: You don't get things by not asking for them.
You don't get things by not wanting them, either.
Gillian: One of the things I've always tried to teach the girls is that there's nothing particularly good or virtuous about wanting something. I don't put it like that, of course, in fact I frequently don't put it at all. The best lessons children learn are those they learn for themselves.
Julian Barnes, "Love, etc".
He truly is a fine novelist.
CompuServe's forums, which still exist, are finally shutting down Always sad when an old service gets its plug pulled, I'm sure someone's going to miss that particular community.

November 15, 2017

Everyone assumes they are the sperm that made it to the egg. Nobody assumes they were the egg all along.
Huh. That kind of resonates for me - is that asymmetry true for a lot of people? Is it more true for dudes? Definitely feels like there might be a sexist undercoat there. Also a shade of the old Yin (feminine/passive) Yang (masculine/active), which can be hella problematic when used as a role model for modern society. I get the feeling people feel affiliation for the faster and seemingly more action-packed journey of the young sperm cell, vs the slower travel for the egg that has been there since the mother's time in the womb. A lot of metaphors spring to mind, but again I think trouble arises with the temptation of attributing truth and guidance because of the "it's just nature!" parallels.
If you don't find farts funny then you're a loser because you're choosing to have less joy in your life but the exact same amount of farts
I find you can replace "farts" with many things in your life and it still kind of works!


November 16, 2017

Random linguistic watch: 3 times in the past day or so I've seen "roasted" used in a casual jovial insult sort of way. Prior to that, I feel like I mostly just saw it in reference to semi-formal "comedy roast" events. Anyone else feel it is having an uptick?

Also, in trying (unsuccessfully) to confirm and quantify that feeling, I stumbled Google Books Ngram viewer (Not helpful because it just up to 2000, and then just books.) Seeing if it was like one of those baby name popularity graphers, I put in Kirk, and found a big uptick around 1840, and then learned about the Disruption of 1843, where the Church of Scotland split after a decade of strife. (Kirk is the name of the official church of Scotland, as well as for the local branch, so to speak.)

Ya learn something new every day! On good days, two things.
Last night I grabbed "Snipperclips" for the Nintendo Switch, play some of the puzzles with Melissa - cute game!

I feel like I'm out of the loop with Switch, in terms of what might be cool to do with it beyond Mario and Zelda. There is a remake of NES Blaster Master - I tried the free 3DS demo of that but the Switch would be nicer.

Despite having had an Xbox One and a PS3 and a Wii U for a while, I feel like I haven't been into downloadable / indie stuff in any system since the 360 (which still stands as my favorite system for now, at least in terms of having open world sandbox games...)

Any suggestions?

November 17, 2017

Sam Harris:
The truth is none of us know how much time we have in this life.

And taking that fact to heart brings a kind of moral and emotional clarity and energy to the present. Or at least it can.

And it can bring a resolve to not suffer over stupid things.

I mean take something like "road rage". This is probably the quintessential example of misspent energy. You're behind the wheel of your car, and somebody does something erratic, or they're probably just driving more slowly than you want. And you find yourself getting angry. Now I would submit to you that that kind of thing is impossible if you're being mindful of the shortness of life. If you're aware that you are going to die, and that the other person is going to die, and that you're both going to lose everyone you love and you don't know when... you've got THIS moment of life, this beautiful moment, this moment where your consciousness is bright, it's not dimmed by morphine in the hospital on your last day among the living. And the sun is out, or it's raining- both are beautiful. And your spouse is alive, and your children are alive, and you're driving. And you're not in some failed state where civilians are being rounded up and murdered by the thousands. You're just running an errand. And that person in front of you, who you will never meet, whose hopes and sorrows you know nothing about but which if you COULD know them you would recognize are impressively similar to your own - is just driving slow.

This is your life. The only one you've got. And you will never get this moment back again. And you don't know how many more moments you have. No matter how many times you do something, there will come a day when you do it for the last time. You've had a thousand chances to tell the people closest to you that you love them in a way that they FEEL it, and in a way that YOU feel it. And you've missed most of them. And you don't know how many more you're going to get. You've got this next interaction with another human being to make the world a marginally better place, you've got this one opportunity to fall in love with existence, so why not relax and enjoy your life? REALLY relax. Even in the midst of struggle. Even while doing hard work. Even under uncertainty.

You are in a game right now, and you can't see the clock, so you don't know how much time you have left. And yet you're free to make the game as interesting as possible; you can even change the rules, you can discover new games that no one has thought of yet. You can make games that used to be impossible suddenly possible and get others to play them with you. You can literally build a rocket to go to Mars so that you can start a colony there. I actually know people who will spend some part of today doing that. But whatever you do, however seemingly ordinary, you can feel the preciousness of life. And an awareness of death is the door into that way of being in the world.
--Sam Harris, from the introduction to his podcast discussion with Frank Ostaseski, a Zen Hospice pioneer - to complete the plug "And there are very people more aware of death and the lessons it has to teach us than my guest today. Today I'm speaking to Frank Ostaseski..." - the podcast is a good listen.

U.S. Navy Is Very Sorry That Their Pilot Drew A Dong In The Sky. This is powerful shamanic magic.
I plan to take solace in how when our acrobatic robotic overlords come to take over, their boxes will say "Boston Dynamics" WOOOO BOSTON!!!!

November 18, 2017

Counterprotesters bring music. They chant "No Trump! No KKK! No Fascist USA!" --@lauracrimaldi

Backing up Refuse Fascism and supporting Black Lives Matter...
While writing a devblog article about a little mp3 I made and named to be first in my song collection (so when a podcast or audiobook ends I hear it, rather than Jackson 5's first rate song (and not just alphabetically) "A.B.C.", I realize I was willing to come around and accept the pedantically incorrect use of "it begs the question".

Everyone draws the prescriptivist/descriptivist line just about where some quirk annoys them personally. "Begs the question" was my line, but justified because I think "make a query while presuming some other question has already been settled" is a useful concept. (Rhetorically it's useful to be able to spot when that has happened.)

But "begs the question" in the sense of "demands that we ask this other question" is a useful concept too, I guess, and full of a kind of drama. It's also kind of a superset of the original meaning.

November 19, 2017

Trying to declutter but Marie Kondo is too pile-centric or mumbo-jumbo-y? Arrange all your possessions in a long straight line ordered by how much you want each item, make a perpendicular line at the cut off point, and discard everything to left. DONE AND DUSTED.(Note, you may still have to dust, especially around those shelves where the cluttering items used to sit.)

November 20, 2017

There was a lot I learned from my estranged discussion partner EB. One point of emphasis he made in terms of personal development was the importance of muscle memory, of extreme repetition until the conscious act becomes unconscious. One example he liked was the book "Zen in the Art of Archery" where the student rehearses the same motions again and again and again over months, just the most basic part of correct form, like drawing the string without releasing it, in painstaking detail. Examples of that kind of learning in life are hard to come by.

When my Aunt Susan visited last week and she and Melissa and I picked up my family's traditional pastime of Dr. Mario - or specifically as I tried to describe techniques and things to watch to Melissa who is new to the game and playing with a giant handicap - it hit me that Dr. Mario has some of that. I have distant, decade-old memories of what the game used to feel like: epic struggles, and I even have shadow-memories (or more exactly, meta-memories) of specific in-game board situations, like say where I was feverishly trying to deal with two situations on either side of a block tower, or had to build way up to some junk above when there was no room to slide pieces over it as they fell. Now everything is very business-like, and while I can generally give voice to the rationales for my various little techniques (especially "piece diversity", where you try to keep the top of your piles well-mixed so that every 2-color falling pill has a place to go) most of it is well ingrained and under my fingers, even though some attention is still needed to play well, and if I get frustrated with losing I usually have a higher gear of focus I can engage.

I suppose I have some of the same with performing music, but only at low levels. If my facilities start to decline thanks to age and alzheimer's, I suspect one of the last things to go will be the pattern for playing a basic scale on a brass instrument:
Open, 1-3, 1-2, 1, Open, 1-2, 2, Open.
And I suppose pro musicians who've all done a MUCH better job of practicing than I have have more fully internalized much deeper musical concepts and tropes.

There are probably broad patterns to programming that are the same way, even though I feel like I'm more reliant on quick-lookups for specific function names than ever.

Of course, "Zen and the Art of Archery" also emphasizes intense repetition under the guidance of a master teacher. I suppose that's to mitigate the risk many of these pursuits share, where you might just end up deeply engraving how to do the thing suboptimally. There are even fewer examples of that in my life, I'd say. In part, it's a weird matter of faith - how do you know someone is that kind of expert? Not just an expert at the skill, but also in the pedagogy to get other people there? Between healthy skepticism and less healthy pride and ego, it's tough to find...

November 21, 2017

Is this a narcissist/psychopath thing, or?

November 22, 2017

Audiobooking (what's the audiobook equivalent of "reading"? "Listening to" is clutzy, with "reading" you don't really have to specify it's a book...) Joey Comeau's "Malagesh". It's about a young hacker gal preparing for her father's imminent death, and one night they have a "final movie night"- the father's favorite movie is "Harvey" and so that's what they watch.

My mom says my dad wasn't much of a movie goer. But it also strikes me that before the 80s or so, and the rise of the VCR - it would be much harder to have a favorite movie, or at least one that you could watch and watch again.

That must be a part of how movies that got regular network television play - Miracle on 34th St, Wizard of Oz (I think) loomed so large over the popculture landscape.

November 23, 2017

On the brilliantly funny "My Dad Wrote a Porno" Alice Levine used the phrase "as mad as a box of frogs!". What a delightful bit of mental imagery!

November 24, 2017

hey rocky watch her pull a rabbit out of this hat

November 25, 2017

Anyone see the movie "Arrival" (right now free on Amazon Prime, Melissa and I watched tonight) and/or read the story it's based on ("Story of Your Life" - I reread after watching the movie...)
Interesting to see the differences between the two, the IMDB for trivia for it has a bullet list of differences.

The short story is a little more clear that free will is still true for us, even with foreknowledge of how things will unfold. The movie is maybe a bit more ambiguous; Louise chooses to have a child despite seeing that child's early death. Or does she still choose to go that path because of the delight that is there despite the loss? Or does she choose to have a child because she knows she's going to have a child (shades of Neo breaking the vase in the Oracle's kitchen...) Or, given the way that universe works, can she even choose not to? Anyway, all 4 possibilities float in the movie, but the last 2 are pretty much downplayed in the original story.

November 26, 2017

Good day for the middle aged tubist getting ready for the Quincy Christmas Parade

the clown joke

Austin Putman told me a version of this PG13 joke back at Tufts when we were both in sQ. I thought it in a half-remembered day the other day, and tracked down a version here:


Johnny is poor and has been all his life. He doesn't mind it much, except for the fact that every year when the circus comes to town, he never gets to see it. The years pass and every year he watches the circus come and go with a tear in his eye. Then one year as the circus is leaving, he snaps. "Fuck it," he says." I'm going to get myself a job so I can see the circus."

The next day he applies for a job at a supermarket stacking shelves. He gets this job and works his heart out. He works every night stacking shelves, earning money. He spends very little, and saves heaps. He is the best worker the supermarket has ever seen. A year passes, and the circus comes to town.

As soon as the gates to the circus open, Johnny races up, first in line to buy a ticket. the excitement overwhelms him. He walks around the circus. He sees the animals, the freak show, buys a hot dog, plays on the clowns. And then he sees it, what he's been waiting for all these years...The Big Top.

Johnny races into the tent and takes a seat. Pretty soon the tent fills up and the show begins. It's a packed house and the buzz is electric. The dancing horses come out, then the elephants, then everyone's favorite, the clowns. The clowns run around and do their act making everyone laugh. When all this is finished, the head clown picks up a microphone and says "Now we'd like to pick a member of the audience to help with our show."

All the lights go out and a spotlight circles the crowd. and, as luck should have it, it lands on Johnny. Johnny is ecstatic, he nearly shits his pants with excitement. He can't believe his luck. The head clown comes up to him and says..

"Hey mister, are you the horse's head?"

"No." Johnny replies.

"Are you the horse's ear?"


"Are you the horse's tail?"


"Then you must be the horse's ASS!!!!"

And then whole tent erupts into fits of laughter all of Johnny's expense. Everyone is laughing, except for Johnny. He's as pissed as fuck. He vows then and there that next year, when the circus comes to town, he'll get his revenge on the clown.

As he's walking home, still fuming from the humiliation that the clown caused, Johnny thinks of ways that he can get back at the clown. Death, violence, poisoning....and then it hits him. Johnny will give the clown a taste of his own medicine. Next year, Johnny will blast the clown with the biggest insult ever!

The next morning Johnny flips through the phonebook looking for someone who can help him with his revenge. Then he finds an ad.

Sick of being picked on? Come to our school and soon you'll be verbally attacking people with vigor!

'This is just what I need!!!" says Johnny. So he rings up the school and enrolls the next day.

So every day Johnny goes to the insult school, studying hard so he can learn the best and most harsh insult so he can get back at the clown. On top of this, he still stacks shelves at the supermarket to get the money for the circus. Day in, day out Johnny works his ass off.
Then his day arrives...

As soon as the circus opens it's gates Johnny barges to the front of the line, pushing people out of his way. No longer is he a kind, considerate man. He's a pissed off m.f. hell bent on revenge. He give the ticket seller the money, snatches the ticket and storms off.

He sees all the regular shit. The animals, the freaks, the clowns. He's so excited that he goes into the Big Top an hour before the show starts, just so he can get a good seat. The tent begins to fill up and the show starts...

The dancing horses come out, Johnny yawns. Then the elephants, Johnny tries to stay awake. And then the act Johnny has waited a year for, the clowns. The clowns run around and do their act making everyone laugh. Johnny wonders why everyone is laughing, it's the same shit they did last year. When all this is finished, the head clown picks up a microphone, exactly the same as last year, and says "Now we'd like to pick a member of the audience to help with our show."

All the lights go out and a spotlight circles the crowd. and, as luck should have it again, it lands on Johnny. Johnny is sits cool, calm and collected. The head clown comes up to him and says..

"Hey mister, are you the horse's head?"

"No." Johnny replies.

"Are you the horse's ear?"


"Are you the horse's tail?"


"Then you must be the horse's ASS!!!!"

And again the whole tent erupts with laughter. Except for Johnny. He sits there staring straight at the clown, a look of pure evil and hate on his face. The laughter quickly dies down as everyone knows something is going to happen. The crowd watched. This is Johnny's moment. He takes a deep breath, looks at the clown and says...

















Come to think of it, it must have resurfaced because when I yelled to the Aleppo Shriner clowns "what a bunch of clowns" before yesterday's parade, in a friendly way, one yelled back "yeah, that's original."
One of my favorite iOS games has been "Desert Golfing" -
(once called the first "normcore" game) - just a simple little side view golf, always good for a little hit of physics-y fun - but then I got stuck on hole 4420, and left it alone for a few months. I was getting ready to delete the game, but the realized the hole I was stuck on was different, and easy.

There's a very recent update note that reads "No more impossible holes." and I'm not 100% sure if 4420 was impossible per se, but pretty close - a big mountain (albeit with a plateau on top) and the hole nestled on a ledge on the other side, almost impossible not to overshoot, and all of the the 2 or 3 shots I got to hit the hole bounced right out.

But now I feel funny, because I suspect that this kind of update might affect all the holes I've already done, as if my game has slipped into a parallel universe, and my history (including the 150-odd strokes I burnt on the previous version of hole 4420) is no longer quite valid...

Anyway, I still like this game.

Yesterday at Quincy's Christmas Parade I saw these black and white American flags (with a blue/red stripe to shout out to police and fire departments) for sale by those shopping-cart-based vendors who show up along side parades and fairs.

It seems a little mixed up that taking a knee during the anthem, like a player does for a hurt teammate, is disrespectful, but this kind of graphic design shenanigans is A-OK.
RIP Vine... it was such a cool and egalitarian form.

What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men? Excellent piece by Claire Dederer on when monsters are artists and vice versa. Touches on the relationship between thought and feeling and judgement which has been so much on my mind of late.

November 28, 2017

You cannot revolt against the peasants.
Fidel Castro.
Interesting turn of phrase, though I'm not sure if I believe it.
Sausage making is a natural outcome of efficient butchery.
Tom Parmenter

Someone was posting a "what message or lesson do you wish you could tell your younger self" - besides "buy Apple stock during the 90s" I wish I had more practice in saying less.

I often dilute my own message, usually trying to look smart, and/or showing how I understand both sides of the story, or subconsciously fearing that I will be faulted for leaving out some detail that ends up being important.

So, younger self: "State the point clearly, be concise. Add details if asked."

(Be like the father in "A River Runs Through It", who would tell his sons to take an essay and then halve the word count, and then halve again.)

Lucky Jeans via the iPhone 8...

the case for god

I'm reading a book, "Life, God, and Other Small Topics", transcriptions from a series of lectures with Q+A "Socrates in the The City". It's Catholic as all heck. I find intellectual Catholicism to have a richness there that I don't remember seeing in the protestant theological stuff I've read, and certainly it resonates more for me than the literalness that dogs much of the evangelical environment I grew up in.

Still, it's infuriating in parts, especially in how self-assured many of the speakers tend to be. Peter Kreeft's "Making Sense Out of Suffering" in particular (so far.) One of its central premises is that the strongest argument for atheism is the presence of suffering in the Universe. But that's only really a problem if you've taken as given that if there is a God, it's the simplistic all knowing / all loving / all powerful god of the Epicurus quote.

It was the huge plethora of religions that made my teenage self question the likelihood of any single one, and while a lot of faiths go for that all knowing/loving/powerful, there are a lot of potential ways of believing that don't. So Kreeft is branding all atheism as a disbelief in a very specific brand of divinity...

Over the years I've seen many more sophisticated ideas of God - the best historical context I've read comes from religious historian and former nun Karen Armstrong - seeing the Christian Trinity as an odd blend interesting mix of the unknowable "Sky God" (long worshipped by various peoples) with the more human and relatable gods that walked the earth.

The best attempt I read at making a myth of God-as-experimenter is "mr. g" by Alan Lightman - it does a good job to of showing how even an infinitely powerful and infinitely knowledgeable and deeply compassionate God might still make a universe with suffering as an unfortunate by-product (hint: mathematicians know that "infinity" comes in different magnitudes - say, the countable whole numbers and the uncountable set of fractions - both infinite, but there are plenty more of the latter)

I thought of all this because this SMBC comic had yet another sense of divinity:

It really is the hubris of a singular religious faith - one that denies a "many path / many faces of God" interpretation as heresy - that bugs me. For you to be right, you are declaring many many many other people as wrong, and if I'm going to listen to that, you need to make your case without begging the question of what is true. And for me Peter Kreeft points out the hubris of the assumption that we're so important, that we matter so much as individuals, that of course we - each alone - command the specific attention of a divine being, and so the fact that our subjective suffering is allowed to exist becomes a difficult question that demands an answer. If you relax some of those me-centric assumptions, the question allows many more answers.

(Also I would argue that Peter Kreeft presents a facile idea of Buddhism - my understanding that while "suffering" is the most common translation of "dukkha", a more balanced translation would "unsatisfactoriness". When you push down the contrast dial, a lot more nuance is allowed to emerge.)

Ah well. My current audiobook is "The Brothers Karamazov" and I do have this Kreeft lecture to thank for that.

November 30, 2017

MacOS Calendar:"This must be a Thursday... I never could get the hang of Thursdays."

holiday time in the leach/israel household...

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