2018 March❮❮prevnext❯❯

March 1, 2018

December, January, February, One Second Everyday. Lotsa music (as player and audience) and love and some movies and you know not THAT much snow come to think of it...

I was bitterly tongue in cheek about our nation's worship of the Great God Gun and the child sacrifices we'll be making periodically from here on in, but post-Moonies are makin' it real.
My Todo list has barely been below 30 items since Christmas break, and it's been brutal getting to Inbox Zero (just for "Important + Unread"). It's getting kind of discouraging...
I feel like it's inner child afraid of little ego-depleting failures at every turn...
Man, there's like no half-assed armchair quarterback "solution" Trump won't throw out there, huh? Let's take away guns ask questions later one day, death penalty for drug dealers the next. He's like the really drunk guy who's got "answers" for everything.


february 2018 new music playlist

Kind of a light month last month... bestest stuff in red.
I'm not the biggest basketball fan but Lebron's nutmeg and James Harden's "what are you doing" stare were both pretty great

From the makers of I Can't Believe It's Not ButterTM, Introducing:
-It Might Be Bread
-Let's Just Say It's Cream Cheese
-It Almost Tastes Like Jam
-Sure, it's 'Maple Syrup'
-Smells A Bit Like Eggs

I never knew a blacksmith who was in love with his hammer.
Max Wilkinson.
(Vonnegut cites that after Renata Adler defining a writer as somebody who hates to write.)

March 3, 2018

Babies are the only thing that comes out of a human that strangers wanna hold

Marking Trump's 100th Day at a Trump Golf Club as President. "Can you believe that, with all of the problems and difficulties facing the U.S., President Obama spent the day playing golf". Our reality tv show prez is so far beyond satire it's crazy.

March 4, 2018


Blender of Love

Damnit Mark Hamill the line mighta worked if you said "droid discrimination" not "robot discrimination"

March 5, 2018

Realized that my ineffectiveness at plowing through my todo list and email inbox might be thought of by avoidance via clever camouflage - letting something I'm worried about be obscured by smaller tasks it's surrounded with.

For some reason the metaphor of trying to pick up dog poop by use of a pair of tongs also made of dog poop comes to mind.

March 6, 2018

You must know that there is nothing higher and stronger and more wholesome and good for life in the future than some good memory, especially a memory of childhood, of home. People talk to you a great deal about your education, but some good, sacred memory, preserved from childhood, is perhaps the best education. If a man carries many such memories with him into life, he is safe to the end of his days, and if one has only one good memory left in one's heart, even that may sometime be the means of saving us.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.
Vonnegut paraphrases this as "one sacred memory from childhood is perhaps the best education".

March 7, 2018

Porn is not the worst thing on Musical.ly. Yikes. Parents, be there. That "u r beautiful plz dont kill urself im only 10 but i will b ur friend." is f'in heartbreaking.
[skydiving on 1st date]

ME: [shouting] Hey, I guess we're really 'falling' for each other lol

HER: [continues falling and never opens chute]

March 8, 2018

Trump may be the one populist leader in world history who is too narcissistic to succeed at the narcissist's game of turning himself into a beloved people's tribune.
A certain part of the population is just enamored of the "tells it like he sees it" act - even when they don't agree with it. If he had more than a fifth grader's understand of ANYTHING - any of that human grace for learning and growth that says 'gee maybe I don't know everything about everything already', he'd be much more dangerous, and between showing what can be done in our divided, meddled-with nation, as well as exacerbating the divisions and of course not doing anything about the meddling, he's setting the stage for worse to come.

You play the cards they deal you.
Dick Coyle, fellow-P.O.W. with Kurt Vonnegut

Gentleman know of the void, but do not speak of it lest they alarm the lower classes, who might run amok.
Kurt Vonnegut

FFS, comedy central, if you're going to hog your stuff (like Vonnegut on the Daily Show in 2005) and keep it off Youtube then at least stream the crap properly. DAMN.

Seriously, it's like they're using the same servers they were in 2005.
Oddly better in Safari than Chrome


Give us this day our daily bread. Oh sure.

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Nobody better trespass against me. I’ll tell you that.

Blessed are the meek.

Blessed are the merciful. You mean we can’t use torture?

Blessed are the peacemakers. Jane Fonda?

Love your enemies – Arabs?

Ye cannot serve God and Mammon. The hell I can’t! Look at the Reverand Pat Robertson. And He is as happy as a pig in s**t.

Kurt Vonnegut, a piece I assume he assembled but only got to read a bit of on his Daily Show appearance in 2005

The humble PDF as the worlds most important file format
What's Happening Mr. Silver? was a psychadelic TV show on WGBH by a Tufts instructor The thing about getting people to set up 2 TVs to 2 different channels and then playing with that is kinda mindblowing. Funny how much lore you mighta missed if you went to Tufts in the early 90s...
I Felt Despair About Climate Change--Until a Brush With Death Changed My Mind

Here's a story of how illness - and the more imminent than usual threat of death - can reshape our views on more global matters.

It can feel like a bummer when a kind of existential equanimity is our consoling philosophy; when we change our focus from our own mortal plight to humanity's fate, we kind of hope that the boundless futurist optimists are right, and that collectively, at least, the universe may be our oyster. But there are no guarantees. And even if civilization or even our species as we know it fails, we will have been here, and that matters as much as anything can matter.
Being able to spontaneously pick and start watching nearly any movie for a reasonable fee from one of a couple streaming services is an under-heralded wonder of the past decade...

Many of us mourn the passing of the local video store - especially the independent and funky ones, but still, this is a pretty sweet deal.

Funny thinking about some of the milestones to get here - Netflix DVDs in the mail or calling your cable company and having them descramble a channel with a fixed movie starting at a fixed time.

Of course Netflix streaming changed from "gee nearly as good as the DVD selection" to the Showtime / HBO model of "a few big films, some decent original content, and tons of filler"...
"Lady Bird" was the movie in question. It was pleasantly nostalgic, but... I dunno, I could see why it didn't get much Oscar love.

March 10, 2018

It's kind of weird that "spinning around real fast and getting dizzy" is a safe, short lived, natural high available to pretty much anyone w/o major mobility issues, all the time. Has there ever been like an anti-dizzy league?

(Shout out to folks who have struggled with more serious vertigo issues, which can be truly debilitating)

faith as a feature not a bug

(Warning - high risk of sophomoric philosophy in the most literal (as in, concerning when I was a sophomore in high school) sense ahead)

The multiplicity of religions is a big part of what drove me from Evangelical Christianity - or as I put it then "The world has a billion devout Moslems. Here I am, sweet talkin' son of a preacher man, trying to be a good Christian, but if I had been the sweet talkin' son of an Imam, wouldn't I be trying just as hard to be a good Moslem?" (This was before Wikipedia so I wasn't even sure if Imams could have kids, but you get the idea.)

The way Christianity was presented to me as uniquely True - "No one comes to the Father but by Me" (John 14:16) - meant that it had some 'splainin' to do. God "letting" all those other religions happen just didn't make a lot of sense, and hits that "God is all knowing, God is all loving, God is all powerful, whence evil?" (Epicurus) conundrum pretty hard. (That "well, As the stars are above the sands, so our God's ways above ours" (Isiah 55:9) always felt like a cop-out!) Later, when I see ecumenical and cross-faith outreach, and hear politicians calling for unity among "people of All Faiths" (and leaving out Freethinkers and Skeptics) -- it was hard to parse that without being dismissive of their intellects and skeptical of their intentions.

That was the early days of my almost-OCDish need for me to only embrace that which is likely to be objectively verifiable as true, or to clearly demarcate my level of uncertainty about it, the "known unknown" factor. And so I shared Vonnegut's view "Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile" and I demanded an adherence to Objective Truth take priority over adherence to God, even.

And so years passed. I became aware that my faith, while not fundamentalist, had been pretty brittle, and maybe I'd lost something leaving it behind. I tried to find that in the UU, which in its liberal New England form seemed to offer the fellowship without demanding sacrificing skepticism, and maybe provide insight into those other religions, and the commonalities in the human experience they might all share. I've kind of drifted from them as well (save for a "Science and Spirituality" reading group I still attend) - but I think I have found much of the sense of community and purpose in activist Band music (heck, the School of Honk meets Sundays, takes to the streets with horns, and constantly invites people to join them - very Salvation Army like!)

So this morning's new thoughts: (ironically I was going to say "revelation", but only to the sense of my subconscious mind bringing some thought to my narrative self...)

Lately, I see more references to Jonathan Haidt's "Mortal Foundations" theory; that historically - maybe even biologically - there's a split, with liberals concerned much more strongly about the foundations "Care" "Fairness" and "Liberty", and conservatives concerned about those things, but adding in foundations of "Loyalty" "Authority" and "Sanctity" - which are values that many liberals also dig, but as means to other ends, and especially not as law-giving principles for their own sake.

(Maybe the single most telling question in the Left/Right 20 Questions Quiz is "Which lesson is more important to teach to children: Kindness or Respect?")

Pondering in the shower this morning, I just realized how Moral Foundations theory explains the promotion of Faith - it's just a clear signal that you're on the same page of all those conservative foundations: "Loyalty" to the group, accepting the "Authority" of the church and other systems in that tradition, and the whole "Sanctity" of not asking so many damn questions, kid. In some ways, the more outlandish the claim, the bigger the opportunity to signal adherence- the BUG (of extreme unlikelihood and contradiction of experience and sense data) is a FEATURE (of believing it anyway.)

If you read "The Righteous Mind" you do hear Haidt talking about his Jewish Liberal roots but sounding like he finds the extra-facets of the conservative set of foundations as worthwhile - maybe in some ways superior. Certainly they are time-tested and intuitively they would seem to build stronger and stable societies. I guess it comes back to the terms "conservative" and "progressive"; the 6 foundations might be good for stability, focusing on the 3 though gets you a society that's ready to make progress, and better live up to the idea of fairness for all.

March 12, 2018

Hmm. Exercise can be a very effective way to treat depression. So why don't American doctors prescribe it?
I have no idea if these are for a project or just riffing, but Paul Robertson is about my all time favorite pixel artist

Relationship Status: This Girl made me laugh and laugh:

Relationship status : this girl. pic.twitter.com/AODDC5sN4g

— Adam Cole. (@Hamdttitude) March 10, 2018

French Toast Alert System Some of my buddies seem to be relying on this (currently in prep for NOREASTERGEDDON 2018 III) and maybe it manages to be the supplement for weather stuff I've been looking for - just tell me as early as possible if something disruptive is foreseen...

March 13, 2018

I love that our President, this brilliant dealmaker, not only fires the Secretary of State via twitter, but the account he does it from isn't even simply his name, he had to get the version prefixed with "Real".

March 14, 2018

RIP Stephen Hawking. You know I kind of hoped that he had so somehow overcome his condition he was low-key immortal.

Liking or not liking Political Strongmen is now, sadly, a Partisan issue. I was thinking about this: with the consolidation of power in China by Xi Jinping, and Trump joshing about president for life roles, and digging dudes like the Phillipine's Rodrigo Duterte (and apparently taking orders to ditch the Secretary of State from Russia) -- combined with "MAGA" - what makes America great is that we do this as a system, not as big tough individuals. It was considered amazing when George Washington stepped down after a second term - people on the other side of the Atlantic figured it was just a power grab for another kind of dictator. Conservatives don't get that. They just see the system itself as like an incorporated dictator, I guess, so might as well put a know-nothing failed-businessman precocious fifth grader of a reality show star in the role instead.
A system is never the sum of its parts. It is the product of the interaction of its parts.
Dr. Russel Ackoff

https://nextdraft.com/ is the most worthwhile newsletter of the day.
gonna be in a pickup band to close out Jon Batiste's second set with some folks from School of Honk, so that's pretty hip

not JUST 2 beers and a moscow mule talking- this is one of the best shows ever. between variations on fur elise and thoughtful gentle covers of round midnight and st james infirmary and wonderful world i'm fricking reliving my musical youth.

March 15, 2018


Footage from School of Honk meets Jon Batiste

March 16, 2018

Shame on South Boston Allied War Veterans Council for excluding Veterans for Peace in the St Pats Parade.
[finishes binge watching "Black Mirror"]
Hold My Beer...

March 17, 2018

I think it's easy to forget the advances we've made in optical illusions over the last few decades. While some of these are surely computer assisted to generate, with most of them there's no reason to think an illustrator couldn't have done them a century ago. When you go to, say, a Ripley's Believe It or Not, a lot of the dank old 50s-era attractions hold up well, but their 2D optical illusions tend to be like "can you believe these two lines are the SAME LENGTH"?

as if losing Ryles (after Johnny D's) didn't suck enough, what the hell is this about??
For the first time in my life I noticed St Patrick's day is always a preview of the day of the week for my birthday. Huh.

Incidentally a while back I made a "figure the day of week for a date over years" toy tool : https://kirk.is/2005/06/19/

March 18, 2018

Switching to using Safari on Mac more often, partially for battery-life reasons, partially because I think Apple is a bit less track-y. I've gotten used to Safari's "tabs should not have a maximum width" look, but the browser's autocomplete is notably worse - one time typos get stuck and show up again and again like a bad penny, ditto for if you happen to accidentally click on a half-baked autocomplete suggestion.

Also the typo-fixing mechanism is way too aggressive.

Poking around at least I found a way to display the entire URL. Hiding that and just showing the site name was a weird design default.

March 19, 2018

I sort of hate how "make sure you make a thumbnail with a person making a big reaction" is such a thing on youtube. I'm sure it's some part of social media marketing psychology 101 now, but, damn.
From my devblog, Graphic Designing in Code

March 20, 2018

What happens when an AI can only think in water or fire or flowers...

I'm trying to think if this back-propagation of the way an AI sees - how its expectations of what is there to be seen controls what is seen, how it's interpreted - says something profound about the human's way of observing the world or if it's a mere superficial parallel. (more info here)
Life is just a really complicated exam, in which most people fail by copying from others, not realizing that everyone has a different question paper.

Is it just me or would like, schedule siesta/naptime make life like 8 times better? Melissa's old company had a nap room... my current company doesn't have that kind of culture really...

March 21, 2018

Been geeking out on "The Hamilton Polka" lately - a 5 minute polka party that's a Reader's Digest version of the musical, more or less. As goofy as a polka is nowadays, it really catches some of the emotional tones of the lyrics.

I found a cool Rolling Stone chat with Yankovic and Miranda and was excited by "RS: Is your band on it?" "Yankovic: They are. My drummer, my guitar player plays banjo on it. My bass player plays bass, though the bass is overwhelmed by the tuba, which is playing the same part."


March 22, 2018


from The Exact Moment Dogs Realized They're Going To The Vet

March 23, 2018


Apple - Welcome Home by Spike Jonze from HENRY on Vimeo.

Love this song, and a great video - the making of is why I'm posting it though.

March 24, 2018

"How badly am I bleeding?" selfie during today's "March for our Lives", playing with BABAM! as we backed the students begging for gun sanity and school safety... (shoulda shaved ahead of time :-)

Look in my sunglasses and see the stilt walker who was boogying in front of us the whole way...

March 25, 2018

There are people out there you haven't met yet who will love you.

the objective unknowable truth

Maybe the strongest but weirdest thing my Evangelical Christian upbringing left me with is a sense that there IS an objective, absolute Truth that transcends all creeds and other preconceptions and can even make value judgements - potentially bridging the chasm between "Ought" (How Things Should Be) and "Is" (How Things Are) - but that this Truth is ultimately unknowable, and so any group's claim to perfected, or even superior, insight into it is unverifiable and suspect - especially insight via special revelation and not skeptical enquiry.

And to cling to such a claim (of perfected knowledge of the Truth) and end up being Wrong would be an unforgivable sin.

"Keep the company of those who seek the truth- run from those who have found it" --Vaclav Havel (or more likely André Gide.)

This also drives my pseudo-martyrdom, my typical willingness to sacrifice bits of my own comfort and resources if a best guess of The Truth says that a greater good would be served by my doing so. So I am compelled to sacrifice up until the point that says a best guess would say hey, I'm worth something too, and what I'm giving up might be (Objective Truthfully) of more value to the collective world with me than meeting that other need.

I suspect that this driving force has been with me since my teenage years, but only in the past few am I so aware of it. (Also, I'm reviewing https://kirk.is/2017/10/21/ as another, even more long-winded exploration of some of these topics.)

(I think it's telling that Grammarly urges me to say "the best" and not "a best". No way man. There's no single best because life has too many spectrums to measure stuff on.)

As a left leaning person, what do you like about conservatives? I thought this was gentler and more thoughtful than many things I've seen on Quora and FB.
CNN: Where fat goes when you lose weight - spoiler: it's not converted straight into energy (i.e. we don't have a Fusion or Fission reactor in us...), it's not just pee'd or poo'd out, it's not converted into muscle... instead it's turned into CO2 and water! 10 lbs of fat turns into 8.4 lbs of CO2 (and I admit it's always weird to think of the weight of a gas...) and 1.6 of water.

This is kind of a delightful fact, and a nice mirror image of what I learned in 2013, how trees build themselves out of air (and some minerals from the ground, and I think water.) In both cases, the conversion back and from of air with more solidish stuff defies our intuitions.
Janelle C Shane uses a neural net to generate new Dungeons and Dragons monsters: I love the subtle nerdness of the noun, adjective format- really brings the "Monster Manual" aspect home for me.
Because I believe in giving back, I have put the Knux' 1974 on Wikipedia's List of songs named after dates. (I'm partial to 1974 for obvious reasons, so when I thought of Smashing Pumpkin's 1979 and Prince's 1999 I figured there's gotta be a list...)
They're both better after a couple of beers.
Carrie Fisher, on similarities between Paul Simon and Harrison Ford

I love some of the old NES video game music, like Mega Man series and of course the Mario stuff they explore "what makes it sound fun" here...
SPOILER: it can have a lot to do with the same stuff that makes New Orleans Street Band music fun. (Insert wistful dream to get more competent about arranging music here... I think videos like this might help a little bit)

March 27, 2018

Two little good girls
Watchful and wise --
Clever little hands
And big kind eyes --
Look for signs that the world is good,
Comport themselves as good folk should.
They wonder at a father
Who is sad and funny strong,
And they wonder at a mother
Like a childhood song.
And what, and what
Do the two think of?
Of the sun
And the moon
And the earth
And love.
Kurt Vonnegut (Untitled Poem in a 1961 to his friend Knox Burger)

Would any of my friends named Robert please let me call them "Broccoli Rob"? I just learned how to pronounce "Broccoli Rabe" last night and I'm afraid I'll forget otherwise.

Bitrot almost claimed Stephen Hawking's voice before his death, but some devoted engineers saved it.

March 28, 2018

conference call limbo
I gathered some links about the UI in the Blade Runner remake... dealing with the past's view of the future is such an interesting design probem, and if the path from skeumorphism to flat deisgn is followed by "fuzzy 80s future look" I would be ok with that.

March 29, 2018


personal growth thoughts old and new(ish) and the supernatural placebo

One of the weird things about having a long-running blog is not only can it confirm "I've had this thought before", sometimes it was FAR longer ago than I ever would have guessed - 2013.11.13 calvinism and personal growth - 4 1/2 years ago I was noticing that my fixed mindset was intensely Calvinist (in the Protestant, not Funny Pages sense... i.e. you're either of the saved elect, or of the damned masses, and nothing in your own efforts can change that) as was my behavior. The faith in that you are one of the irredeemably saved, when undercut with the fear that you might not be, is not a freeing "so do what you want!" but an intensively restrictive and uptight "you best behave! Or people will have their doubts, no matter what God thinks".

Later I've noticed times when some people a bit to the left of me, or far to the right, seem to be indicating that you have to change something at its core, and then the good interactions you're hoping for will follow. (The anecdote for the left is how to get a band to lean into being diverse and welcoming, and for the right - I've even seen it in a scholarly way of presuming that understanding the Latinate roots of a word was more important than understanding the vernacular usage of it. But I also feel the right's view that "the apple don't fall far from the tree" and justifications for racism by lumping people into the worst stereotypes of their class has the same top-down thinking.)

Me, I dunno. I have no knack for observing personal growth in myself or others. People's behaviors or abilities may change for the better - statistical clear improvements - but I never get a sense of when that can safely feel like an internalized improvement. For instance, dieting never becomes easy, it's always a matter of gumption and leading myself way the hell away from temptation, because frankly if the delicious food is right there I'm gonna eat it. New eating habits never form and so constant vigilance is the requirement.

Further thought: On the 2013 post (man I hadn't shut down my comments section because of spammers by then?) an anonymous commenter wrote "And Somewhere in the salvation army, an angel just spit in its soup." Which is funny, because I had been thinking about how The Salvation Army really is about people being redeemed, through the life changing power of Jesus Christ.

I guess it's telling that both they and, say, AA look to a supernatural power as necessary for making a true change.

Given my current skepticism, I'm at least heartened by pondering on how insanely powerful the Placebo effect is in medicine.... It's too bad we don't respect placebos, because a belief in God is a powerful psychological bending thing, and that's true, for good or for ill, regardless of the supernatural truth behind any given belief...

The sun is probably the closest thing we’ll ever have to a true Eldritch Abomination. Hear me out here-

My sweet Melissa works in the same building as me - in fact her company's "Beer Garden" is an atrium visible from our office area and she left me this message...

March 31, 2018

Forty and Four

There's not a lot of money in revenge.
Inigo Montoya, "The Princess Bride"

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