2018 February❮❮prevnext❯❯

january 2018 new music playlist

New -to-me music, 4 star stuff in red.

I'm upset that my go-to for ripping otherwise unfindable music from Youtube seems like it's shut down for "music videos on my region".

February 2, 2018

On his blog and podcast, John Gruber is delighted by this Steve Jobs anecdote by Bethany Bongiorno:
At one point Steve wanted to turn UIKit elements orange. Not just any orange, he wanted a particular orange from the button on a certain old Sony remote. We got a bunch of remotes from Sony with orange buttons to try and find the right one. In the end, Steve hated it.
Gruber describes it as one of the greatest concise Steve Jobs stories and how there's this philosophy of "Strong opinions loosely held."

I have a hard time with that, that there can be so little correlation between how strongly you feel about something and your tenacity in keeping to that belief. It's difficult for me to think of an opinion as "just" a subjective opinion, and not "one's best guess as to what is objectively best or true".

I guess I can allow myself...preferences, more so than opinions?

It's Groundhog Day. Again.
The shirt touches his neck
and smooths over his back.
It slides down his sides.
It even goes down below his belt--
down into his pants.
Lucky shirt.
Jane Kenyon, "The Shirt"

February 3, 2018

A Mortal Thought: so many of us long for immortality. To live forever, for infinity - time enough to get everything we can imagine doing done.

But here's the thing about infinity: it's not as "everything" as you might expect. Take the simple counting numbers... 1, 2, 3... there's an infinite number of them! They go on forever. Everything you could possibly dream of, right?

Well, no. There are more infinities lurking. Now think about how many numbers fractions are between 0 and 1... 1/2, 1/4, 3/4, 1/8... 311/782, 612131/981141, etc etc etc... there's an infinite number... all lurking between 0 and 1. And the same number must be lurking between 1 and 2, 2 and 3, etc. (And don't even get me started on the decimals... there's an even bigger infinity of them than the fractions, it's a long story)

So even if you had an infinite number of days to work with, there'd be things you couldn't get done - possible paintings you couldn't make, potential books you couldn't write, fabulous romances you couldn't pursue. The space of the possible blossoms and expands far further than our linear selves, even if our linear selves were going to last forever.

I find that reassuring. Sure I'll be missing out on whatever happens after I die, and I'd love to have quite a bit more say in when that happens. But even if by some miracle I managed to live forever without getting bored out of my skull (see the final chapter of Julian Barnes' "A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters" for an exploration of that theme) there would still never be time to do EVERYTHING...
(In response to a response to the above)
One thing I didn't get into - I know my life is influenced by Objective Shoulds - that "objectively" it would be better to accomplish this, learn that, achieve the other. But I find it useful to remember that I don't actually believe there's any external authority determining that... so I don't have to worry about what potential goals I don't make nearly as much as I do.

I'm imagining that if your goals are more self-realized, that there are things you'd want to get done because YOU would want to, and not how other people or "objectively reality" will judge you - well, I guess this outlook is less help... the commitments you have to do and the choices of things you prioritized might well be blocking other things/classes/places/connections/reconnections you'd like to do, and so the best we can do is look for silver linings, try to prioritize and push and make a little time for that secondary but rewarding stuff...
Too bad I've had to move all my comments back and forth to FB.

February 4, 2018

Everything is as it is, and it should be. If I was meant to jam with Duke Ellington, we would have lived in the same age.
Really hope those "he'll be shown as a hologram at the super bowl!" rumors are false.
"Screw the country's attempts at meaningful infrastructure work, or ever getting debt down - but enjoy your free membership to Costco!"

February 5, 2018

Given that I've always been a bit of a fair weather fan, and that it's my original hometown that one, I'm not too distraught about the Patriots/Eagles... but the way Gronk and Brandin Cooks got helmet-to-helmeted in back to back games... I really do wish the sport was played by robots like in the arcade game Cyberball 2072... I mean, "has a cannon for an arm" shouldn't have to be figurative.
Yesterday Melissa pointed out that at some point Apple iPhone added an optional "return to last camera mode" setting for the built-in iOS Camera app - very useful for people like me trying to grab spontaneous shots for "One Second Everyday"
Things Philly Pholk did after the Eagles won. Yeesh.
Dow Jones taking a cue from Bitcoin?
Our upcoming nearterm future of faceswapping videos... Jokes on them at least for people like me who are a bit face blind (at least face myopic) Nicolas Cage in that shot? Sure, whatever you say.

February 6, 2018


In a day of Dorito "lady-friendly" chips, it's good to know the whole world isn't always quite so stupid - How Christine Peterson coined the term "Open Source", in her own words.
Are you fucking kidding me. Military parades, big tanks on roll out. Stupid France, I thought it was just the Soviets, North Korea, and third world dictators who pulled that crap.

February 7, 2018

Quincy Jones, a towering figure who is now WAY beyond having any craps to give about what anyone thinks, recently gave an amazing interview - rambling from his thoughts on musical artistry to race and political secrets. Sounds like this joint production / video didn't quite live up to his standards, but I really liked it (always a fan of mashups)

Also, he has a few Stories for GQ....

Trump's Hair: Republican in the front, dreams of a lost playboy youth and virility that can never be regained and must be guarded with a facade of bluster and piss-colored thread on the sides, skinhead in the back.
I'd love to see a close reading of "Storage Wars". Between the probability of ginned-up rooms, the silent tragic stories implicit in so many of the abandonings, the so-often-idiotic, so-often-devious machinations of the regulars (conveniently coded as archetypes in the opening credits) the visceral build and release of the gambling aspect, and the weird way the show takes the people's word for the street value of so much of the junk (I mean it's really tough to actually SELL crap, right? Ebay has made everything a buyer's market.)

February 8, 2018

"gonna make a dog training school and call it harvard so people who went to harvard always have to say 'no the one for people'"

Dipped back into TVTropes for a bit - (found a "Headscratchers" section as a link to why a Sonic the Hedgehog game has "COPE" in big letters in the background) - anyway, there seems to be a new bit of jargon since I last browsed there - "Watsonian" (i.e. in-universe) vs "Doylist" (i.e. about the artists making the universe) explanations for stuff details that don't seem to make common sense.
We need more songs, man. Fucking songs, not hooks.
Quincy Jones, from that GQ Article. The thing is... I know he knows 10,000x more about music than I do... but I still love hooks.

February 9, 2018

I like the UK Magazine "Retro Gamer", I pick it up from Micro Center every once in a while. Two games mentioned in the latest issue I looked at... Caving for BBC Micro is a variant on the old SF-Cave game - hard to get a feel for the physics from the video but I like the way it draws the bumblebee-like path.

And then I'm intrigued with a Sega half-court 3p-on-3 game I hadn't heard of, "Hard Dunk":

The angle isn't one I'd seen before for this kind of game, but the magazine says the gameplay is a bit crap...

Lifehack: Pretend You're Good at It. It's like an effective placebo for real life!

Sort of like making the Dunning–Kruger effect work for you. Sadly for people who value realistic self-appraisal, underestimating your own limitations is a great strategy (see: our current president.)

(As David Brooks said, "'Know thyself,' the Greek sage advised. But of course this is nonsense. Truly happy people live by the maxim 'Overrate thyself.' [...] Each of these people is a god of self-esteem, dwelling on a private Olympus.")
Our 71-year-old President with an approval rating well below 50% is throwing a parade for himself, but please tell me more about how millennials all want 'participation trophies'.

February 10, 2018

When I was in fifth grade or so I read a book called "Truly Tasteless Jokes". I recently reread it on Kindle...
Two thoughts:
1. I was surprised how many jokes I remembered retelling over the years I got from this book
2. It was published in 1982 but I was still surprised at how often Kermit is a cultural reference.

My favorites from this time were "What's Helen Keller's favorite color? Corduroy" which is both kind of terrible (as were most Helen Keller jokes) but also kind of sweet and hopeful, and "Two cannibals are having dinner together, the guest says to his host 'Your wife sure makes good soup.' 'Yeah, but I'm going to miss her'"
A brief article I made for Lost in Mobile, about not quite understanding the pursuit of smart homes...
Had a maple scone from True Grounds this morning. It triggered very strong but entirely disconnected sensory memories... "I've had exactly this scone, and it's super evocative, but I'm not sure of what or when". Maybe 1369 Cafe circa 1998 when I lived in Inman Square?

Wonder if there's a French or German word for that...
"This country has lost its way. We need to go back to the good old days when America was prosperous."
"That's easy! All you have to do is fight a just war against a powerful overseas enemy during a time when major discoveries in computation, transportation, and energy production have just occurred. Prosecute the war in such a way that every powerful nation but your own is ruined. Afterward collect fleeing scientists and engineers. As your troops return enjoy the burst of social cohesion and the boom in manufacturing as you supply a devastated planet, while the world's best minds create ever better products, industries, and discoveries within your borders."
"Or we could stop letting gays marry."
"Your plan does have the virtue of simplicity."

A while back I listened to Brett Weinstein on Sam Harris' podcast, here's a good summary. He mentioned the idea of "metaphorical truth"- a belief that is factually wrong but you come out ahead if you believe in it. The summary I link to summarizes his view as "Religion was valid metaphorical truth because it helped us before (for thousands of years). We're now at a point where it (often) hurts more than it helps, but that doesn't change how useful it was in the past."

Friendly Atheist had a pretty good piece on it, but I think Vonnegut nailed it in "Cat's Cradle" with what he called "foma" - "harmless untruths" - and advised "Live by the foma that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy."

I have very mixed feelings about that kind of pragmatic view about supernatural explanations for life as we can witness it...

John Perry Barlow's Principles of Adult Behavior

RIP Silicon Valley visionary John Perry Barlow. When he was 30, the EFF founder (and sometime Grateful Dead lyricist) drew up a list of what he called Principles of Adult Behavior. They are:
1. Be patient. No matter what.
2. Don't badmouth: Assign responsibility, not blame. Say nothing of another you wouldn't say to him.
3. Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.
4. Expand your sense of the possible.
5. Don't trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.
6. Expect no more of anyone than you can deliver yourself.
7. Tolerate ambiguity.
8. Laugh at yourself frequently.
9. Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.
10. Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
11. Give up blood sports.
12. Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Don't risk it frivolously.
13. Never lie to anyone for any reason. (Lies of omission are sometimes exempt.)
14. Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.
15. Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.
16. Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.
17. Praise at least as often as you disparage.
18. Admit your errors freely and soon.
19. Become less suspicious of joy.
20. Understand humility.
21. Remember that love forgives everything.
22. Foster dignity.
23. Live memorably.
24. Love yourself.
25. Endure.
What do you think of these? They seem pretty good to me. 3 might be a better way of getting to a sentiment I have of "no is the bad guy in their own story at the moment of action" (which has been pointed out to me is very shaky - but I think there's some important conceptual element to it.) I wonder what he meant by "blood sports" - would that include watching football?
Man I loved this one back in the day... Keeping your refrigerator stocked will get you many women

Sometimes I'm sad but then I remember TimeSplitters: Future Perfect had a Cat Driving Game.

February 12, 2018

had a dream that i was getting sorted at hogwarts but i got into an argument with the sorting hat so he made up an entirely new house called 'GrungleBunk' just so i would be forced to sit by myself in the dining hall for the rest of my life

Best Rube Goldberg I've seen in a while. Love the pinball-ish elements, magnets, and loaded springs:

February 13, 2018

Sheezus. Trump's "food box" is a perfect example of "For Every Complex Problem, There Is an Answer That Is Clear, Simple, and Wrong" I'm sure it sounds great to some people, but Annie Lowrey is

starting a list of questions that need to be asked - it's up to 60 but starts with
1. What if you don't receive your box one month?
2. What if you're homeless?
3. What if you don't have a place to receive mail?
4. What if you move frequently?
5. What if you have allergies?
6. What if the box gets wet, or animals get into it?

I guess the general Republican impulse to privatize and channel government action through existing businesses stops when they have a chance to make people feel shitty about not having a lot of money.

February 14, 2018

4 my sweetie Melissa

How fleeting are all human passions compared with the massive continuity of ducks.
Dorothy L. Sayers, Gaudy Night (1935)

Heyyy, Officer Flatski, the cardboard cutout policeman who watches over the bike cage at Alewife got a shoutout in Cracked's 7 Serious Problems That Had Hilarious Cartoon Solutions

Blender of Love

You look like a thing and I love you.

February 15, 2018

The Mystic Masters of the Pahjmannian arts boast near complete control over their pulse and respiration, as well as conducting enormous tremendous psychic and electrical energies. They are able to go extended periods without going number one, number two, or even number three (you really don't want to know about number three.)
from a dream the other night.
(Random point: I hear so much about the Oxford Comma but rather little about whether the period at the end of a parenthetical remark that finishes a sentence should go inside or outside of the parentheses.)
got this bit of phishing from someone who wanted me to be thinking of LinkedIn...

I like the phrase "Newtworking"

February 16, 2018

Drain the NRA Swamp

In America, they say the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

But that just sounds like someone trying to sell two guns.

February 17, 2018

I've been revamping some of my old programming toys and games - one of my favorites was this, the "Chaos Game" way of making a Sierpinski Triangle.

You pick a point somewhere inside a triangle, mark it, then the next point is halfway between that point and one of the three corners (randomly selected), and then you repeat.

What slowly (and magically - or at least counter-intuitively) emerges is a Sierpinski Triangle (kind of like the Zelda Triforce on drugs)

I really do dig recreational programming sometimes...
Digital Alarm Clock History Amazing how emotionally evocative some of those old beep patterns are - also it reminded me of a bit of a family lore from my youth, this dang Raggedy Ann and Andy alarm clock - "ANDY ANDY PLEASE GET UP IT'S TIME TO CALL OUR FRIENDS / OK ANN, I'M AWAKE, LETS SHOUT IT ONCE AGAIN / WE WERE SENT TO WAKE YOU / SO HERE WE ARE TO SAY / PLEASE GET UP BRUSH YOUR TEETH AND START YOUR HAPPY DAY"
RIP this shirt. (Well, I ripped this shirt, anyway) For a long time it felt like my bestest shirt ever.

In 1968 I ran into Steve Lacy on the street in Rome. I took out my pocket tape recorder and asked him to describe in fifteen seconds the difference between composition and improvisation. He answered: 'In fifteen seconds the difference between composition and improvisation is that in composition you have all the time you want to decide what to say in fifteen seconds, while in improvisation you have fifteen seconds.' His answer lasted exactly fifteen seconds.
Frederic Rzewski

February 18, 2018

From the Atlantic - Making Athens Great Again - charts some interesting parallels with Athenian and American Exceptionalism...

February 19, 2018

The Black Mirror episode "Hang the DJ" is my favorite bit on romance plus technology since "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind".

Florence is a very sweet little game-story for iOS.

February 20, 2018

Greg Cook took photos of BABAM! and Second Line and Boycott playing for HONK! volunteers at Aeronaut.

Tetris is a REVERSE Metroidvania, where you're the bad guy, and the game is leveling up as it continues and keeps attacking you.
Chris Sims
...from the Retronauts episode Symphony of the Night and the near-death of Metroidvania games. (Springing from a disagreement between a surprisingly narrow and a much more loose definition of "what's a Metroidvania")
In many ways, the United States is not at the forefront of the Enlightenment project, even though the American Declaration of Independence and Constitution were the earliest and greatest gifts of the Enlightenment. The United States was conceived as an Enlightenment nation, but it always entertained counter-Enlightenment forces of cultures of honor; of manly self-defense; of a kind of millennial, quasi-religious, messianic role of the United States in particular as the indispensable nation, the city upon the hill--both very counter-Enlightenment notions.
Steven Pinker.
He speaks of optimism, not withstanding the glitches we're seeing in social progress now. (Not that it should be an excuse for complacency either)
Gunfire erupted from a window high above them, but it was only a bass player getting shot for playing the wrong riff three times in a row, and bass players are two a penny in Han Dold City.
Douglas Adams, "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish".
Thought of this when musing on being asked to stand in with New Magnolia Jazz Band for playing at a funeral this Saturday...
I'm convinced that no one can amount to a damn in the arts if he becomes sweetly reasonable, seeing all side of a picture, forgiving all sins.
Kurt Vonnegut to Miller Harris in his collected letters.
Man, here I am reading a deadtree book (hardcover, no less, but $8 from the remainders table of the MFA) drinking a little Crown Royale and taking a break from screens (sort of). #throwbacktuesday

(Other notes: he made and tried to sell a boardgame HQ or GHQ, apparently moldering in his collection at Indiana University and the terms "work the bugs out" and "you were hosed" were used in the 50s/early 60s.)

February 21, 2018

Apple Life Hacks from Gruber's twitter: on macOS you can make a sticky "note" appear above all other windows all the time (Window Float on Top) and on iOS you can force touch the typing keyboard to make it into a touchpad that zips the cursor around the typing area
The annual twitter tradition continues.
Teens are waking up to this 1984 bullshit.
Pfizer, pocketing a big tax cut from Trump, will end investment in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's research Hey that great tax cut and late stage capitalism is real great for healthcare huh. Yay Trump! All those poor dumb bastards who voted to drain the swamp. Genius!

February 22, 2018

Pretty good Quora critique of Ayn Rand's philosophy. Hadn't thought about it as "individuals are basically good but corrupted by government and organizations" vs I guess the countering liberal view that government and organizations ideally distill our best selves and intentions, and have some powers (force, social pressure, etc) to get individuals to behave in ways that are better. (Though, ways that are better for the institution in question, which might not always be the general objective preference and is certainly not the Objectivism preference...)
New "Solo" move ala Sabotage:

Damn that is a good song.
High school kids are 'crisis actors', but our reality show president has to read 'I hear you' off a cue card.

2:22 2/22

February 23, 2018

The Harvard Crimson did a short article on BABAM
Great piece on tech nostalgia, a guy powers up his original 2002 iPod, old songs and playlists intact.

Only the final third is about the hardware itself, as classic and still functional (modulo the battery life) as it is; the rest is a nostalgic exploration of the author's digital musical life of the era, and the idiosyncrasies he had in categorizing songs and arranging playlists.

There are some old digital "snapshots" I treasure, like a folder with all the files stuffed on my Windows Desktop directory - one of those things I kept meaning to get back to, to curate out "the good stuff", but now holds holistic value as a slice of my old digital life. Similar for old screengrabs I have, or just photos with the monitor visible... the ones that inadvertently show what all I was up to those days are much more interesting than ones that just show an app. (The same phenomenon happens for old photos - ones where my old book stacks - or even just clutter - are intriguing no matter what the subject of the photo is supposed to be.)

Do you share in this kind of object nostalgia, digital or otherwise?

Florida Lawmakers Advance Bill Requiring Schools To Display 'In God We Trust'
I think these Florida Lawmaker assholes would be being 1000% more honest if the signs read "IN GUNS WE TRUST"

So damn stupid. "Thoughts and Prayers" codified by assholes who have a higher concern for their love of guns than for public health and safety.

And for all those asshole gun lovers who are like "oh you don't even know what assault weapon means" - doctors do - these guns do much much worse damage than handguns. In both the quality and quantity of bullets these unleash, these guns have ZERO FUCKING LEGITIMATE ROLE in society. And the way the NRA has blocked research into this? THAT IS A MORAL OUTRAGE.

Funny (well, maybe not funny ha-ha) thing to think as you're drifting to sleep: "I'm about to apply for dual citizenship: the United States and the People's Republic of Sleepistan".
Yeesh. You know, despite living more or less near Davis for two decades I never realized the Rosebud wasn't just the diner part in the front.

February 24, 2018

Today I had the honor of playing with the New Magnolia Jazz Band at the funeral for Madam Laguerre, a member of the local Haitian community.

I knew really little about the Haitian Creole in which the lion's share of the service was conducted... looking up the Wikipedia page, they cited some proverbs I liked:
"Apre bal, tanbou lou"
"After the dance, the drum is heavy"
i.e. There are consequences to your actions
"Dan konn mode lang"
"Teeth are known to bite the tongue"
i.e. People who work together sometimes hurt each other
"Ravèt pa janm gen rezon devan poul"
"A cockroach in front of a chicken is never correct"
i.e. Justice will always be on the side of the stronger
"Si ou bwè dlo nan vè, respèkte vè a"
"If you drink water from a glass, respect the glass"
"Tout moun se moun"
"Everybody is a person"
i.e. Everyone matters
"Bouch granmoun santi, sak ladan l se rezon"
"The mouth of the old stinks but what's inside is wisdom"

February 25, 2018

hey teens you don't have to respect adults if they're shitty. it's insanely easy to get old now, it's not like back in the day when being forty meant you had survived The Long Winter or whatever the hell.

funny to think about that in terms of moral foundations theory. When asked what's more important to teach kids, liberals tend to say kindness and conservatives tend to say respect.
Some good analysis of Blank Panther, especially its villain (almost, anti-villain) Killmonger.

February 26, 2018

Moderately bummed the new minigame in Mario Odyssey "Balloon World" is just hide and seek with balloons and not involving the physics of Balloon Fight.
--photo by my Aunt Susan Jordan
I really believe I'd run in there even if I didn't have a weapon.
President Cadet Bone Spurs, on the deputies and the Florida shooting.
(Five deferments from military service - or as @andylevy put it "i would've dodged those bullets like it was the draft")
A psychological study of the political gap in views on gun control. Seems to have some roots in Moral Foundations theory (as in the book "The Righteous Mind") which I dig - I was actually wondering how gun control tied into the conservative's greater increase on deference to proper authority, since the reasons for guns are often given in terms of self-defense autonomy...

February 27, 2018

And we know this, because there are in fact rigorous, honest, intelligent Conservative writers who come right out and state the position that the state should not intervene in climate change. They're wrong, but at least they're honest and clear about the reality we're living in. The problem is, no one likes them, because they shatter the Conservative Identity of, "I'm a responsible person and also I don't believe in Big Government." Climate change is the big test of identity, because if it IS real, then the only choices are: "I don't believe in Big Government and am irresponsible when it comes to the fate of the world" and "I am responsible when it comes to the fate of the world and Big Government is the only solution." [...]
At a basic level, all of the policies of the GOP can be summed up this same way: "we don't want to." We all know that healthcare is good, and that universal healthcare is a good, effective system of getting it for people -- all the data is very clear. The GOP position isn't that it doesn't work, it's that they don't want to do it. The fact that other people will die doesn't matter. They don't care! They don't care they don't care they don't care.
You can view this through a Moral Foundations Theory lens; climate and health hit the liberals Care vs Harm foundation hard core, but conservatives have so many other things going term of Ingroup vs Subversion and Liberty vs Opression that they are compelled to turn to idiotic immoral outrages like "facts don't matter!!!" instead of owning up to how destructive and self-centered their views are.

February 28, 2018


Who asked you to be a writer in the first place?
Colonel Littauer to Kurt Vonnegut
(when Vonnegut was bitter about being a broke writer )

2018 February❮❮prevnext❯❯