August 1, 2018


via @mousefountain
Tsundoku: The art of buying books and never reading them. Glad to know there's a word for that pile on my bedside table. And that one reserved bookshelf. And, virtually, on my Kindle.

Actually the other thing it reminds me of is how with some "book clubs" I'm in, everyone else seems a lot more shy of reading large things at once than I am. I'm not sure if that means everyone is so time-stressed, or if I'm just a faster reader, or if they don't have the "from time to time you just sit and read and read" culture in their background.

july 2017 new music playlist

August 2, 2018

can it fit a sousaphone?

August 3, 2018
There's a new Facebook page, Can It Fit a Sousaphone? talking about what horns can fit into what cars. They did some outreach to my company CarGurus, and we did some cross-promotion with them.


Very flattering lens. Also last night we were reminded my car can fit TWO tubas...



On my devblog, the crushing equalizing of modern social mediums.
The Best TV Episodes of the past century. I liked the UI of this, with nicely sized clips starting as they scroll into view.
I always love lists of hard to translate words - this one has some especially important-to-that-culture ones.

August 4, 2018

It probably makes me feel too much like a grownup, but having one of those cheap Black and White Brother printers that use toner that lasts forever rather than rip-off color cartridge is super handy. Recommended.

August 5, 2018

"Don't wait. The time will never be just right. Start where you are, and work with the tools you have and better tools will be found as you go along."
--Napoleon Hill - it might be good advice but man, that guy's history as a classic American huckster is amazing.
Two related pieces: one is Alex Singh's tweethread on the transition of the web from independent hangouts to the walled-gardens most of us hang out in today:
Over the past 25 years, the web appears to have transitioned from a primarily nomadic culture to a mostly agrarian one, mirroring the Neolithic Revolution 10,000 years ago.
(The whole thing is just like five tweets)

The second is Nick Heer on The Bullshit Web, where a 1998 modem-based system might download a basic news article in ten to twenty seconds, and a 2018 article over a blazing fast connection might take about the same amount of time - and how Google is offering AMP as a system, but it's getting a huge benefit of keeping eyeballs in Googlespace merely by offering a forced respite form the extraneous file crap.

I take pride in keeping up my idiosyncratic blog over almost two decades, and how the side projects I'm on are largely clear of the BS. I know I tend to build too much from scratch, and other developers get some amazing results using Ruby-on-Rails-style packages, but that is kind of the path to the BS Web as well... the people who are on the "Buy, Always" side of "Make vs Buy" may or may not have good understanding of the tech they employ... I'm too uptight about being left stranded if I make a bug in the infrastructure and don't really get how the magic is working to diagnose it well.
On my devblog I wrote up an improvement to my photo gallery initial displays, most steadily applied against those best photos of the year series I did a while back. I really like seeing all those photos together in thumbnail form, not sure I've seen that before.

a good guy at a great time

August 6, 2018
Thanks to Facebook I just played the "autocomplete your epitath", where you type "here lies [your name]. [pronoun] was " and then let autocomplete run the rest. I got
here lies kirk. he was a good guy at a great time
which I actually like a lot.
Not only did the Red Sox sweep the Yankees, Boston-area startups are on pace to overtake NYC venture totals thanks in part to companies like my own employer CarGurus...

August 7, 2018

A Russian asbestos producer with ties to Putin is stamping crates of asbestos with Trump's face to thank him and Scott Pruitt for keeping asbestos legal in the U.S.
"And isn't sanity really just a one trick pony anyway?
I mean all you get is one trick, rational thinking,
but when you're good and crazy, oooh oooh oooh,
the sky is the limit!"
--The Tick
The site pleated-jeans is kind of a mess, but this made say "ohh" out loud...

aw, jeez

August 8, 2018
"Aw, jeez, I think I knocked some broad up, back in the '80s!"
--Mary Worth's character Wilbur, as envisioned by The Comics Curmudgeon. For some reason this line is the automatic filler when either Melissa or I start a sentence "aw jeez". I think the charm is the way the phrase "knocked up" is idiosyncratically split, or maybe just the charm of the '80s.

Origin of some sports metaphors. Neat stuff!

August 9, 2018

The neural net does sound effects

I found this picture of Elvira dancing with Erik Estrada for Melissa but I thought it was too important not to share with you all (via This CHiPs episode page . That is also good to see if you want to see Ralph Malph from Happy Days play a regretful version of a Gene Simmons-type Satantic Rocker)

8/10/2018 happy palindrome day

August 10, 2018
Happy Palindrome Day to my American friends. Which is most of them. Oh and me.
I'd be willing to put this song on a playlist just for the title ("nobody loves a computer because a computer does not dance") but not for 15 minutes worth...

Rachel Platten's "Fight Song"... it seems oddly unenergetic...

August 11, 2018

via NPR, "the accomplished Indian percussionist B.C. Manjunath. He's a master of konnakol -- the Carnatic, or South Indian, art of speaking percussive syllables in rapid-fire, intricate patterns to convey a larger thalam, or rhythmic cycle."

August 12, 2018

"The Marines don't have any race problems. They treat everybody like they're black."
--Gen Daniel "Chappie" James Jr., USAF, the first African American to reach the rank of four-star General.

¡7 Trombones for niños y niñas!

August 13, 2018
I ran a fundraiser the Banda de Música Juvenil de Loma Larga La Unión El Salvador - a program that gets musical instruments and training into the hands of boys and girls in El Salvador, and helps keep them out of gangs. With my buddies on FB, the matching funds I put in, and a donation from JP Honk, Omar(the man organizing it) wrote "Hay están los instrumentos del dinero que ustedes donaron se compraron 7 trombones 3 clarinete y 4 flautas trasversales" (There are the money instruments that you donated, 7 trombones 3 clarinet and 4 transverse flutes were purchased)

live like an animal or die

August 14, 2018
"There are two adults and one child. Majority rules. Live like an animal or die."
--James Israel (my dad) circa 1974 (i.e. shortly before my birth) 20 years ago I recorded this quote via my mom, but didn't write the context, which was the two of them reflecting on how life would change with the addition of a baby.
The New Nancy by Olivia James is really good!

I went back and read the recent series about the charaters at Art Camp, great fun. Art-y and Camp-y.
Melissa: "[pokes at puffy part of blouse] [sighs] Oh... I was hoping it was air. It's stomach."

roger screws up

August 15, 2018

--an old favorite Far Side of mine. I know the feel.
I'm having a pretty severe case of "why is there no time during a week"?

I feel like there was a time where there was an ok balance for, say, reading, projects, and video games, as well as some quality time with an SO.

I guess the main culprit is band tuba stuff. It's at least 2 chunks of time a week, usually a bit more. And it's a highly rewarding activity, but not cheap.

It seems like if you work you kind of have to pick a single free time activity (like "kids", for some people!) and everything else goes around the edges. (Maybe even if you're not working) Maybe with intense discipline you could get 2 or 3 big things juggle at once, but man. It's not easy.

August 16, 2018

IMO one of the most important episodes yet, the Fringe Game History Podcast interviews Shawn Hargreaves who started the Allegro game programming library in the 90s. I missed out on it for the most part, but it was hugely influential.
RIP Aretha Franklin

August 17, 2018

Cris Valenzuela's Text to Image, neural network software that attempts to generate images from text descriptions.

I like just putting in names, which create more abstract images. Here's "kirk israel":


See many cooler examples at AI Weirdness has great writeup.
Joined Melissa for lunch on a bench outside our office building:
Me: [After going to town on a piece of BBQ Chicken]
"Oof.... Daddy needs a wetnap... ...That's the worst thing I've said in the last 20 minutes."

anti-alt-right

August 18, 2018
Two shots from today's alt-right counterprotest-- Marie and my mom's old trombone, and then our merry little crew (not shown, Dave B who set it up at the last minute and then did his double slide whistle). Things were at a standstill, with the remainders of the 30-odd alt-righters standing there in their army helmets staring at the 300-odd counter-protestors chanting anti-Nazi thoughts at them, then the band (who had been doing a lot of chant backing and the odd song) stepped forward and backed a kind of chanting-crowd/honk-band duet, and then shortly thereafter the police said "enough" and shoo'd away the alt-righters. (I guess they try to spin it as they left the left there and went off to bunker hill, but it was clearly not a victory for them.) Anyway, timing might've been a coincidence but maybe not! I believe both Antifa and the alt-right-folk were prohibited from amplified music by the police, which means HONK! style groups like BABAM give the left a current asymmetrical advantage.

Marie and my mom's old trombone!


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


Blender of Love

tuba pinwheel

August 19, 2018
Shaunalynn parade led a parade where brass sousaphones were in full effect ...



"A cat heroically struggling to call 911 with his paws while you watch, dying and helpless on the floor, but he's using the tv remote"
--JP Lovecraft Sometimes, my friends' big problems feel like the person on the floor, and me the frantic cat - trying to help with some feats of empathy and intellect that on some level could impress but really, I'm just fumbling with the tv remote.

parking lot butterfly

August 20, 2018

"It's a gift to get to be anything at all."
--Louis, a can of Go 2 Cola.

Liz introduced me to this episode of "99% Invisible" helping to launch a new podcast, Everything is Alive. The podcast feels like a shadow of Shintoism, it gives inanimate objects voices and then interviews them. The premiere episode interviews a can of generic cola named Louis, and the unscripted dialogue ends up feeling like a very funny style parody of the "This American Life" genre - but it actually made me a bit verklempt.

(I remember I did a similar bit as a 9 year old or so, running around with a tape recorder and interviewing objects for some sort of faux radio program - but I didn't think to give them human voices, so I had to interview loud things like a handbell and an electric pencil sharpener.)

(Related: once you've heard the podcast see Margaret Davis' "Peas")
Law 1: Every program can be optimised to be smaller.
Law 2: There's always one more bug.
Corollary: Every program can be reduced to a one-line bug.
via https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Programming - oh wait Ken Arnold had "Every program has at least one bug and can be shortened by at least one instruction — from which, by induction, it is evident that every program can be reduced to one instruction that does not work.", that's what I was thinking of

August 21, 2018

"What a ridiculous clusterfuck of totally uncool jokers."
--Barbara Kruger, via Kat Stoeffel in "I Think About This a Lot" - she points out what a fine above-the-mud response this is to many situations.

August 22, 2018

"@HillaryClinton when you go to prison for defrauding America and perjury, your room and board will be free!"
--http://twitter.com/MichaelCohen212, a now deleted quote that @SamanthaRae49 points out has not aged well.

--Final tweet of Stefán Karl Stefánsson, LazyTown's Robbie Rotten, RIP.

TGI...dang

August 23, 2018

--My super niece, Meme by Meghann
Folks in Sydney in the early 60s, asked about life on other planets:



(via James Harvey)

sunrise over ognj

August 24, 2018
Seeing the sunrise from the Jersey Shore had always been on my "should get to that!" list, this morning Melissa and I did just that...





digging it

August 25, 2018
Yesterday Melissa and I went to DiggerlandXL - Diggerland is a kid-friendly construction-vehicle themed amusement park, and the XL is the grown-ups area that lets you spend an hour in an excavator, bulldozer, or wheel loader.

beach-y keen

August 26, 2018

August 27, 2018

"Climb over your own corpse and get better."
--Ken Oda citing a Japanese saying, according to Game Informer
Signal boosting, we need a hollywood movie about Robert Smalls...

August 28, 2018

Via a private FB tuba group-

-one of the better-drawn sousaphones I've seen in a comic.

August 29, 2018

New Haruki Murakami short story "The Wind Cave" in The New Yorker.

speak it! speak it!

August 30, 2018
Customizable PT Reps Vocalizer - I made something I might find useful. It turns out most browsers have a voice synthesizer built-in, and also despite years as a youth counting measures of rests (shout out to my Orchestra homies) I hate keeping track of reps in the PT exercises I should be doing. So I decided to make a tool. More about that on my devblog

on the congnitive biases of economists

August 31, 2018
The Atlantic's Ben Yagoda writes on The Cognitive Biases Tricking Your Brain:
Most of them have focused on money. When asked whether they would prefer to have, say, $150 today or $180 in one month, people tend to choose the $150. Giving up a 20 percent return on investment is a bad move--which is easy to recognize when the question is thrust away from the present. Asked whether they would take $150 a year from now or $180 in 13 months, people are overwhelmingly willing to wait an extra month for the extra $30.
I wonder if there's a name for the cognitive bias fallacy among psychology researchers that their contrived scenarios are showing deep, true things about human psychology? Or that normal humans assume psychology researchers will, you know, be around in a month to give them $180?

I mean duh - if the researcher is still around in 13 months, they'll probably be there in 18, but the folk wisdom of "a bird in the hand" distorts this problem beyond usefulness.

Or this one:
One of the biases [economist Richard Thaler is] most linked with is the endowment effect, which leads us to place an irrationally high value on our possessions. In an experiment [...] half the participants were given a mug and then asked how much they would sell it for. The average answer was $5.78. The rest of the group said they would spend, on average, $2.21 for the same mug. This flew in the face of classic economic theory, which says that at a given time and among a certain population, an item has a market value that does not depend on whether one owns it or not.
I mean really. Is that a problem with people, or with classical economics? You got a mug, you know it works, what it can do, you might not know what it will actually take in the real market to find a replacement if need be. Or you're a buyer - who knows what the hell might be wrong with the mug for sale?

Even in philosophy - so many of these setups seem so artificial because they presume perfect knowledge - like the trolley problem, "would you push a person in front of a trolley if doing so would divert the trolley and save 5 people?" It's supposed to point out something about personal culpability vs things being "the universe's fault", but what if the push just let 6 people die instead of 5? Yeesh.

Or the thing about how compassion is broke - that people might be willing to give generously if shown a picture of a hungry refugee girl, but less so if the picture is of her and her sibling, and even less so if shown a whole classroom full of kids in need. Some people say this shows how human compassion is kind of broken because it doesn't follow math, and while that's a great point in terms of making policy decisions, it's hardly surprising - people feel empowered like they can help one person, to give resources that they might otherwise use for themselves, but scale it up and it feels like too much of a burden (and swimming against the tide of 'how things are' in the case of the whole classroom) or if it's the same amount of charity, that the same amount to more people would get too diluted to seem as meaningful.

The human mind has many biases, and some of that leads us to suboptimal behaviours - but it's actually a pretty well-tuned machine for rough guesses in an uncertain world of social interactions and other people with hidden agendas. Yeah, some of those tunings don't work as well in a world of 7 billion folks and modern communications, but still.
"*battlefield turns into a giant orgy*

Cupid: sorry sorry, these are the only type of arrows I have"
--http://twitter.com/AbbieEvansXO
How they made the full-size, driveable Lego Technic automobile