january 2018 new music playlist playlist

February 1, 2018
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, 2018thought

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, 2018mortalityramble

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...

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."
--Prince. 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."
--I cleaned up a transcription of This SMBC comic for This Quora Entry.
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 wisdom

February 11, 2018
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."
--A Neural Network for pickup lines

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, 2018tuba

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, on 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!