2018 September❮❮prevnext❯❯

my summer, one second everyday

September 1, 2018
My summer: bands, bridges, birds, beaches, buds (I like that it begins and ends with flowers)
Watched "The Disaster Artist" last night. Woke up thinking I wanted to see a prequel to "The Room" but animated, and cast with the Muppet Babies.

September 2, 2018

"You know life is what you make of it / So beautiful, or so what..."
--Paul Simon

September 3, 2018

Google's Chrome browser turned 10 the other day.

This Gizmodo piece mentions that, and about how it's kind of weirdly hard to switch, even when other browsers have caught up on most fronts, and it so clearly puts you in a part of Google's fiefdom.

Some of it's just UI laziness. I've been using Safari more often, trying to push just a bit beyond the monoculture, and because it's said to be easier on the laptop battery, but even the way it does UI tabs feels off. And Chrome's developer tools are even tougher to give up; I don't know if they are better or I'm just extremely used to them.

I remember when IE3 + 4 came out, how much better they felt than Netscape of the time, but it's hard to say exactly why. And Chrome still feels a bit like that now, there's a tough to poinpoint "roundness" in its UI.

Still, the popularity of the browser combined with how "chromebooks" and not tablets have supplanted netbooks or whatever came before for low-cost computing, especially in schools, is a troubling monoculture even without Google's sense of tracking you for the sake of its advertisers.
"Could we, without relentlessly criticizing, let people have their pumpkin spice, and avacado toast, and their fandoms, and their D&D, and their too-early-Halloween-decorations, and whatever little harmless things in which they've manage to find a tiny shriveled flower of joy?"
--http://twitter.com/RogerC137

august 2018 new music playlist

September 4, 2018
4-star stuff in red. And there's a lot of it! So a good month but not much that really blew my mind.
A FB exchange from Aug 12 that stuck with me:
Nick:
"i'm listening to a radio production of Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, and i'm getting kind of tired of it. the whole premise is that some "psycho-historian" predicted the fall of his own empire and invented some crazy 1000-year plan of 120dimensional chess that would "limit the duration of the time of barbarism that followed". because if you're smart enough you can set into motion a thousand-years-long conspiracy. and if you are not in a gigantic empire then you're in barbarism apparently.

am I going to feel this way whenever I read a sci-fi classic?"
Kirk:
In theory, I like the metaphor of a billiard ball, that the course of a few atoms were unpredictable but get 'em into a billiard ball and it was pretty easy, and that's how psychohistory works. I guess it doesn't hold water but I can't exactly explain why not. (Maybe because the real world isn't the metaphorical equivalent of a nice flat billiards table :-D )
Matt:
Asimov was writing in a world that had statistical mechanics (which he'd have encountered in his chemistry training) but not so much chaos theory.
I thought Matt's point was concise and quite probably correct. See also: the law of unintended consequences...

talk too much

September 5, 2018
I talk too much.

I think there are bad reasons I do, and then more ok reasons.

The worst reasons are all about the ego. I want to be seen as smart, I want to be seen as the provider of funny things. (On the more pathological side I need to demonstrate my worth - I really do think the "if you're not worthy, horrible things will be done to you" was a bad lesson I absorbed from church.)

Middling reasons include how I have a quick but not deep mind that likes to see things from everybody's angle. It's an empathetic way to be, but hard to follow if I haven't taken the time and effort to curate my thoughts.

Another reason is, if I withhold information, then I'm morally culpable if that information ended up being crucial or even useful to you. (Or just as bad, if other people are doing that, then there might be important stuff *I* don't know!)

But still. I am trying a bit. To think before I speak a bit longer, leave things unsaid, emails unwritten.

Sometimes I worry about the slippery slope, if I just stopped and stopped, I'd be nothing. Or that much less fun to be around. Or less informative. I don't have enough faith in my inner self and presence to 100% trust I could be worthy and interesting even if I didn't say much, but I should probably try hard to get over that.
"Every movie is about something. Except for Ghostbusters. It's perfect but it's not about anything."
--Patrick (H) Willems' cinema studies professor, he goes into that view in this video. Basically it says Ghostbusters has no real character arc, or theme. Maybe that's why I like it so much! I'm not sure if my fixed mindset would let me write anything with a personal growth arc.

September 6, 2018

RIP Burt Reynolds. I'm sorry I kept mixing you up with Tom Selleck, hope I'm getting it right this time.
I might sit in with the Tufts Pep Band this year, was at a rehearsal this evening, fun just reading charts and playing loud. Mostly with folks born after I graduated. (Yeesh)

September 7, 2018

The usual last minute rush but belmontporchfest.org is another Porchfest site in the books, including the printable download.

I really need to do a from scratch rebuild of a system that all of my porchfest sites can use. The little customization hacks have gotten gnarly :-D


"In a 2015 Vanity Fair profile, you spoke about having regrets."
"I did, but I don't have any regrets left."
--The NY Times and Burt Reynolds in March. Also, he says he always says "We're going to make a movie, and I don't know if it's going to be any good, but let's have fun", that seems like a good spirit to have.

September 8, 2018


ready for a day of 4 different sets (not even counting the one I'm skipping for other social obligations!)
i enjoy shots of me and melissa where our cranium sizes seem to place us as different species.

so what

September 9, 2018
A few days ago I posted the Paul Simon lyric ""You know life is what you make of it / So beautiful, or so what..."

Recently on kottke I saw this quote from Andy Warhol's autobiography:
Sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years when they could just say, "So what." That's one of my favorite things to say. "So what." "My mother didn't love me." So what. "My husband won't ball me." So what. "I'm a success but I'm still alone." So what. I don't know how I made it through all the years before I learned how to do that trick. It took a long time for me to learn it, but once you do, you never forget.
Kottke goes on to compare that to Marcus Aurelius' stoicism (on how we have don't power over many outside events but we have power for our interpretation of them) and says
Not having control over some outside events was a source of despair and anxiety for me. These happenings were facts, they had a "truth" that I perceived as immutable; everyone knows you can't change facts! But human brains don't work like that. Your perception of and emotional reaction to events *is* your reality. Sure, those things happened, that person is that way, the system will do its thing, but you don't have to feel a certain way about any of it.
I've been toying with using this idea a bit. (While thinking of the Miles Davis' song So What) I guess though, I have reservations that it's incomplete; like it's not a technique you'd want to apply to everything in life, and so misses Kant's idea "Act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law". If I used "So What" all the time, or for everything, I would be callous and apathetic - by itself, "So What" does provide a positive motive force. And there's no outside authority or yardstick telling me when I should and shouldn't apply it; I have to grow up and use judgment and take my lumps.
Stores that offer their own credit cards, with a large discount on the current purchase. Doesn't that just set off everyone's spidey sense?

quotes from bell hooks' "yearnings"

September 10, 2018
In educating myself about anti-racism, someone suggested I check out the black feminist author bell hooks, so I got a copy of "Yearnings", short essays.

From "The chitlin circuit on black community":

That way "downhome" black folks had of speaking to one another, looking one another directly in the eye (many of us had old folks tell us, don’t look down, look at me when I’m talking to you) was not some quaint country gesture. It was a practice of resistance undoing years of racist teachings that had denied us the power of recognition, the power of the gaze. These looks were affirmations of our being, a balm to wounded spirits.
Two from "counter-hegemonic art do the right thing":
Cool Pose, manifested by the expressive lifestyle, is also an aggressive assertion of masculinity. It emphatically says, “White man, this is my turf, you can’t match me here.” Though he may be impotent in the political and corporate world, the black man demonstrates his potency in athletic competition, entertainment and the pulpit with a verve that borders on the spectacular. Through the virtuosity of a performance, he tips the socially balanced scales in his favor. “See me, touch me, hear me, but, white man you can’t copy me.” This is the subliminal message which black males signify in their oftentimes flamboyant performances. Cool Pose, then, becomes the cultural signature for such black men.
and then
Racism is not simply prejudice. It does not always take the form of overt discrimination. Often subtle and covert forms of racist domination determine the contemporary lot of black people.
That second one has really stuck with me. In the progressive community, there's sometimes a use of the word "racist" that doesn't quite match the vernacular sense of the word - for one thing it's not just about race and ethnic group, and for another, sometimes it draws attention to how insufficient examination of privilege can be complicit in perpetuating bad power structures. Understanding that surface prejudice isn't a requirement is useful.

Finally, a quote from Cornel West in the dialog with bell hooks "Black women and men partnership in the 1990s"

I don’t think it’s a credible notion to believe the black middle class will give up on its material toys. No, the black middle class will act like any other middle class in the human condition; it will attempt to maintain its privilege. There is something seductive about comfort and convenience. The black middle class will not return to the ghetto, especially given the territorial struggles going on with gangs and so forth. Yet, how can we use what power we do have to be sure more resources are available to those who are disadvantaged? So the question becomes “How do we use our responsibility and privilege?” Because, after all, black privilege is a result of black struggle.
I don't know if it's unseemly to focus too much on this quote, to use it as a justification for the amount of my own middle-class privilege and material toys I am unlikely to willingly part with. I suspect this helps paint the picture of liberal racism; it's not that we think other groups don't deserve privilege, but we would rather work to help other groups get the same privilege and not worry that much about giving up our own.

September 11, 2018

sax minus sax. that is an amazing sound:

September 12, 2018

'But back to your question: why do people [get tattoos]. I've always thought of it as a way to get a little more in touch with your body.'

The kit leaned forward. 'Really?'

'Yeah. Your mind and your body. Two separate things, right?'

Sidra directed all her processing power to the conversation at hand. 'Right.'

'Except not. Your mind comes from your body. It's born out of it. And yet, it's a wholly independent thing. Even though the two are linked, there's a disconnect. Your body does stuff without asking your mind about it, and your mind wants stuff that your body can't always do. You know what I mean?'

'Yes.' Stars, did she ever.

'So, tattooing . . . you've got a picture in your mind, then you put it on your body. You make a hazy imagining into a tangible part of you. Or, to flip it around, you want a reminder of something, so you put it on your body, where it's a real, touchable thing. You see the thing on your body, you remember it in your mind, then you touch it on your body, you remember why you got it, what you were feeling then, and so on, and so on. It's a re-enforcing circle. You're reminded that all these separate pieces are part of the whole that comprises you.'

--Becky Chambers, "A Closed and Common Orbit". Sidra is a former spaceship AI housed in a humanoid body (the "kit").

September 13, 2018

12 Letters That Didn't Make the Alphabet - Icelandic Lowercase Thorn is still available as a bandname.
Not sure if losing weight (slowly) because of half-assed diet (light breakfast, generous lunch, all other eating during day < 150 calories at a time, like one of those Chilly (not "Skinny") Cow popsicles) or just the stress of life and pangs of fight or flight :-D

Also I restored walking as part of my commute. Again, not sure if it really matters in terms of weight, though obvious more motion is better than less.

Still the best diet plan comes from the book "Chubster: A Hipster's Guide to Losing Weight While Staying Cool" and also "The Hacker's Diet": "find a method to hit a daily calorie count without making yourself miserable" I doubt there's an all-in-one for everyone, but so many successful diets boil down to that.

September 14, 2018

I enjoy that there's a range of body weights - a bit higher than where I'd like to be, but lower than where I've been - that correspond to years I've been around, divided by ten - today's "197.0" is a bit before I was born. And it's better than "201.8" of the current day or times lately where I've been dabbling into the future.

But, I'd like to explore more of, say, American History, weight/year wise than just the time since JFK. Maybe the Civil War.
Fantastic use of greenscreen to warn people about why storm surges are not to be trifled with, and behind the scenes....

September 15, 2018

Hot Take: "W" should be pronounced "Wubble-Doo" so it's starts with the letter that it is
Hotter Take: "W" should be pronounced "Wub" so it's no longer the only multisyllabic letter.

reading andy warhol

September 16, 2018
"I'm a city boy. In the big cities they've set it up so you can go to a park and be in a miniature countryside, but in the countryside they don't have any patches of big cities, so I get very homesick."
--Andy Warhol
"As soon as you stop wanting something you get it. I've found that to be absolutely axiomatic."
--Andy Warhol
"People should fall in love with their eyes closed. Just close your eyes. Don't look."
--Andy Warhol
"If a person isn't generally considered beautiful, they can still be a success if they have a few jokes in their pockets. And a lot of pockets."
--Andy Warhol

September 17, 2018

"Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it."
--Bruce Lee

September 18, 2018

Unfortunately timed cooking feature of the day: In the Kitchen with Fareway: A mushroom blend for National Mushroom Month

September 19, 2018

QWOP cosplay:

Yarr. I have heard precious little about Talk Like a Pirate Day this year. Ye scurvy dogs.
I want to see Dexter from Space Ace and Dirk the Daring from Dragon's Lair in the next Smash Brothers.

September 20, 2018

Almost too mean to post, how is prangent formed. It's a bit too punching down, usually scared people who don't sound like they've had a lot of education, but... man.
Oh nice Red Sox clinch and Browns win, good day for a Cleveland/Boston hybrid :-D

September 21, 2018

Super random geekery - I pick up the UK magazine "Retro Gamer" (since the ZZAP!64 days, I've always been a big fan of UK game coverage). A recent magazine covered Steve Turner's "Avalon" and "Dragontorc" for the ZX Spectrum - the cheap and cheerful minimalist 3d effect is really great.

September 22, 2018

"Like all dreamers, I mistook disenchantment for truth."
--Jean Paul Sartre
Played with the Tufts Pep Band (Football team took a lead in the first half and manage to hang on, hooray our side!) - biggest difference from the 90s? Besides, you know, Tufts apparently admitting babies, and everyone having a smartphone - apparently, at some point folks started sometimes calling the team "The 'Bos" (short of course for Jumbos.)

September 23, 2018


by carrie c
I use HyperDock on Mac, my favorite feature is using option-cmd-arrow to toss around windows, make them either full-screen or half-screen, an easy way to neaten up the workspace plus I realize it feels a bit like a keyboard based version of all those hand-wavey gestures Tom Cruise uses in Minority Report or Tony Stark in Iron Man movies.

(That said I don't think I'd like actual hand wavey gestures all that much. It's easy enough to make mistakes and get startling behavior just with plain old touchpad gestures.)

sunset kayaking

September 24, 2018
--Before the "moonlight kayaking" (and a nice campfire on a remote beach with smores) with some of Melissa​ prev coworker friends via Essex River Basin Adventures​, there was an astonishing sunset...

More photos and B-roll videos - including hermit crabs! To meet a request from one of the fellow kayakers-- (some of the odd horizons were messing around with "pano mode")


"All the electrons,protons and neutrons in your body were created at the beginning of time, They have always existed and they will be there long after your death."
-- /u/Parmar_Mandeep

Not sure if that is 100% true, but the principle- of the stuff that makes us pre-existing us and sure to outlast us- is solid. Anyway, a good reddit thread.

a sorry mess

September 25, 2018
I don't know if other languages handle it better, but "sorry" in English is a bit broken. Take phrases such as "I'm sorry to hear about your loss" -- Why is it so common to say "sorry to *hear* about"? (I guess you could also say "sad to hear about" and have the same problem.) Your hearing of it might be *when* you felt sad, but it seems odd or unsympathetic that the hearing of it is the subject of the sentence, and so what you're sad/sorry about. And then, of course, the "sorry that happened" and its retort "that's ok it wasn't your fault" or "why? you didn't cause it" - sophomoric responses but they point to that weird confusion of apology and sympathy built into the phrasing. I know I'm trying to dissect language in a way that doesn't make sense, and should generally be on the side of any common sentiment that expresses kindness, but it's a little troubling that we use such oddly ambiguous language for such an important thing. (And that's not even getting started with "I'm sorry if people felt what I did was wrong" non-apologies.)
Mourning at the Magic Kingdom "Right after my father's funeral, I took my family to Disney World. It turned out to be the right place for me to grieve."

Weirdly my family took the same approach back in 1988.

Always kind of liked the line "Kirk! You're a graceless adolescent who just lost his father after a long illness! What are you going to do now?" "I'm going to Disney World!"

retro-rabbit-hole (err, frog)

September 26, 2018
On a whim I bought the MP3 "Froggy's Lament", the second track from Bucker + Garcia's infamous "Pac-Man Fever" album Haven't heard it much since I had the LP as a kid, but it stuck with me.

The song is a very odd mashup with tons of references to Froggy the Gremlin from the old Andy's Gang TV Show - especially "Pluck Your Magic Twanger, Froggy". (The reference isn't quite coherent, since the singer's voice seems to be modelled on Froggy's but that quote is what the human host would say to Froggy...) The reference was almost lost on 80s kids, but now thanks to the Internet, I found this clip where outrageous Italian stereotype Pasta Fazooli is playing, low and behold, the tuba!

"Andy's Gang" is a pretty wacky compilation, full of odd cheap special effects, the squeals of delighted kids, and every ethnic stereotype it can get its hands on. Having just finished Zora Neale Hurston's "Mules and Men" and its study of African American folklore, I'm sort of fascinated by Froggy the Gremlin as a trickster figure. The shtick is him having these hypnotic powers, and he injects a comment or command into the human's story or lesson, and the human has to go with it - but just for a moment, and then they rage at Froggy for throwing a curveball into the narrative.

quotes from zora neale hurston "of mules and men":

September 27, 2018
“There’s no mo’ chicken left, Willie. Why don’t you offer her something she can get?” “Well there was some chicken there when Ah passed the table a little while ago.” “Oh, so you offerin’ her some chicken was. She can’t eat that. What she want is some chicken is.”
---
"Love is a funny thing; love is a blossom. If you want yo’ finger bit poke it at a possum.”
---
Stepped on a pin, de pin bent And dat’s de way de story went.
---
Ace means the first time that Ah met you, Deuce means there was nobody there but us two, Trey means the third party, Charlie was his name, Four spot means the fourth time you tried dat same ole game, Five spot is five years you played me for a clown, Six spot, six feet of earth when de deal goes down, Now, Ahm holdin’ de seben spot for each day in de week, Eight spot, eight hours you sheba-ed wid yo’ sheik, Nine spot means nine hours Ah work hard every day, Ten spot de tenth of every month Ah brought you home mah pay, De Jack is Three Card Charlie who played me for a goat, De Queen, dat’s you, pretty mama, also tryin’ tuh cut mah throat, De King, dat hot papa Nunkie, and he’s gointer wear de crown, So be keerful y’all ain’t broke when de deal goes down.
"every woman in this pic tho"

--Gustavo Luis ‏/ @verygooster

September 28, 2018


photo by Jason Victor Rosenman, on PARKing Day
Tom Hanks and Wilson on Gilligan's Island. Gilligan then makes his own Wilson out of a coconut. Skipper feels displaced. And he's worried it may be his blood on Gilligan's Wilson.

September 29, 2018


While I can applaud FB encouraging page maintainers to respond promptly to folks contacting the page, this alert - coming after a successful dialogue (my band will likely march with the 15th anniversary JP Canine Costume Parade) worries me that they will clumsily ding the page's response rate because I let Brad have the last word ("great")

The subtle encouragement to have the page runner post the last reply seems like damaging bad UX. When I wrote a post kvetching about this on FB, a friend said that's why he tends to end with the thumbs up, as a kind of punctuation. Good idea, if a bit of a hack.
Samuel L Jackson Meets Brett Kavanaugh:

"Look, I don't- ya know- My mom thought I was handsome.... that's kinda all you really need in the world..."
--John Hamm on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me (in response to "What's it like to be that handsome?")
Walking home with my tuba after Tufts homecoming win past cheerful, boozy tailgaters - I don't want to overstate the parallel to more serious forms of catcalling, but "HEY TUBA PLAY US SOMETHING OOMPAPA OOMPAPA" is kind of a thing. On the other hand playing a small tune for a suitably impressed kid is a delight, so it's a mixed bag.
"HANG GLIDER COP: I see a crime happening directly below me
[glides on]
Not much I can do"
--http://twitter.com/joejwest

two passages from spider robinson

September 30, 2018
"Now, the key word for both of you, the word that unlocks you both, is the word future. I can even sort of see why. Both of you are the kind that wants to change things, to Make a Better World. You figure like this: the past is gone, unchangeable. The present is here right now and it's too late. So the only part you can change is the future. You're both heavy into politics, am I right? Right? So one day, it dawned on you that the best way to change the future is to colonize it. With little Xeroxes of yourselves. Of course one of the first concerns of a colonizing country is to properly condition the colonists. To ensure their loyalty. Because a colonist is supposed to give you the things you want to have in exchange for the things you want him to have, and for this golden opportunity he is supposed to be properly grateful. It wouldn't do for him to get any treasonous ideas about his own destiny, his own goals."
--Davy, a young (and manipulative) potential adoptee in Spider Robinson's short story "Serpents' Teeth". He also tends to call couples looking to adopt (in a world where kids and parents are more free to divorce each other) "Atlases", as in folks carrying the world on their shoulders, but also looking to hand the burden off to something else.

"I think it comes down to a kind of innate failure of mathematical intuition, common to most humans. We tend to confuse any sufficiently high number with infinity."
"Well, anything above ten to the eighty-fifth might as well be infinity."
"Beg pardon?"
"Sorry--I should not have interrupted. That is the current best-guess for the number of atoms in the Universe. Go on."
She struggled to get back on the rails. "Well, it takes a lot less than that to equal 'infinity' in most minds. For millions of years we looked at the ocean and said, 'That is infinite. It will accept our garbage and waste forever.' We looked at the sky and said, 'That is infinite: it will hold an infinite amount of smoke.' We like the idea of infinity. A problem with infinity in it is easily solved. How long can you pollute a planet infinitely large? Easy: forever. Stop thinking.
--Spider Robinson "Melancholy Elephants". This must be where I got to speculating about how many possible melodies (or, to be more specific: single voice tunes expressible in more or less standard Western musical notation) there are, but I had forgotten and thought the idea was my own - a lapse that harmonizes well with the theme of the story, actually.
"Beware Mozart at Midnight."
--Ominous message in a dream last night.
I always liked the Matrix sequels. Admittedly, it was probably more for the shallow reasons, but this video argues the philosophy holds up:

I'm cis + goy but this is a fascinating thread on talmudic rulings and transgender issues.
There should absolutely be a regulation against boldly displaying calorie counts and then playing games with serving size. Oh, this popcorn is one of those 150 Calories ones? Awesome. Oh but there's 3 servings per bag? Get bent. "PER 2 TBSP UNPOPPED" - you know, because of all that unpopped popcorn people enjoy eating.