2018 November❮❮prevnext❯❯

November 1, 2018

"...Even as a stimulus for reminiscence, a treasured book is more important than a dance card, or the photo that freezes you in mid-teeter at the edge of the Grand Canyon, because such a book can be a significant event in the history of your reading, and your reading should be an essential segment of your character and your life. Unlike the love we've made or meals we've eaten, books congregate to form a record around us of what they've fed our stomachs or our brains. These are not a hunter's trophies but the living animals themselves."
Not sure I agree with all of it but it's well put. The whole piece is a celebration of the physical character of books (but only briefly puts a knock on e-readers.)

I had the idea that after year of mostly e-reading I should purchase physical copies of the books I deemed 4 or 5 star - though those would hang around as pristine copies, devoid of signs of the physical journeys I undertook with it, that Gass so praises.

The flip side to it: unread books accumulate in Kindle-space too, of course, but the stack on the bottom of my bedside table (often graphic novels or things I couldn't get e-copies of) is somehow more condemning than the lists on the screen.

(Ah well. I think to my friend Jessica's kind of habit of having favorite authors she can meet in person autograph her Kindle device, which I find endearingly quirky.)
A lot of the jokes are kinda sexist and predictable but Carol Burnett doing a gender-swap Star Trek Original Series is worth knowing about -

On the Augean Stables of comment spam, and git-r-done ux.

october 2018 new music playlist

November 2, 2018
As usual, in roughly descending "you should hear this" order, 4 star stuff in red.
ZeFrank's Guide to post-Halloween Candy Trading:

I'd like to see an Epic Rap Battle of Brownie the Elf (short-lived mascot of the Cleveland Browns) and the Celtics' Lucky the Leprechaun but it seems kind of unfair from the outset.

November 3, 2018

I don't know if it will be effective - honestly I can't say that any state slogan would inspire me to go visit if I wasn't already inclined - but Nebraska's new slogan "Nebraska: Honestly, It's Not for Everyone" is brilliant.

comments on kisrael

November 4, 2018
So from 2003-2013 or so this site had a comments section - it acted as a bit of a social hub, with a medium-small group of folks I knew from real life or just online commenting on the entry or just having little dialogs there.

But then comment spammers figured out how to post, and it got overwhelmed with the crap. I tried a few restrictions to block it (disallowing links, even) but still, the bots would post post post-- mostly just to gauge if they could, I guess.

Two decades in, and this blog's archive is increasingly important to me -
(skimming the On This Day page is a frequent mid-workday getaway) and I was getting frustrated with the bogus comment counts, so I made a tool to help me zip through and ditch all the damn spam.

I had already purged some of the most egregious days of spam (hey if one spam comment is good, 138 nearly identical comments must be better right?) but there was plenty remaining- At the start, I had 24035 comments in all (over 4048 different days), but only 7507 did I figure were human or close enough (covering 2072 different days).

It was interesting skimming so much old conversation... sympathy through a divorce, advice on dieting, appreciation of vacation photos, and just general rambling. I forgot how much I used to hear from folks like Jesse Lex and LAN3.

But, probably independent of the spam, the site had a rise and fall as a social nexus, I decided to graph it out:

This is very similar to a chart plotting the rise and fall of poems sent to my loveblender.com site:

It's not an apples to apples comparison, in part because the comment section had such a later start.

Overall I think the decline in interactions on my blog-ish sites corresponds to the the rise of Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, etc - I've written about that on my devblog. Basically, it's super tough for an individual site or writer (especially ones who aren't trying to do it for a living) to compete with the ability to grab a lot of people's stuff and put it into a single stream.
Onion: Explanation Of Board Game Rules Peppered With Reassurances That It Will Be Fun - I am the friends, not the "Area Man" in this scenario.

November 5, 2018

I once dreamed that a giant meteor was headed for earth, and the government had set up loudspeakers throughout the cities so Obama could give a final address - I'll never forget how strangely comforting it was when he said "there are places we've never been before. Some of us have never been to the Alps, some of us have never been to Marrakesh. The next life is simply another place we've never been before, and we're all going to go explore it together."

November 6, 2018

Voting is a bit frustrating in my Somerville District; wait an hour if you live on a street L-Z. A-K? walk right up.
When an object has energy of motion, nature usually finds a way to extract it.
Prof. Kip S. Thorne
From an introduction to Stephen Hawking's "Brief Answers to The Big Questions"
I don't know what the origin is but I just heard a saying "Say what you mean, but don't say it mean." and I like it.

election night

November 7, 2018
My friend Hannah saw me and some folk entertaining at Elizabeth Warren's election night shindig:

Besides the robocall spammers, who is profiting from not stopping the robocall spammers?

November 8, 2018

Protect Mueller Rally:

Second photo by Daniel Friedman

November 9, 2018

Heh, missed a day of updates.

November 10, 2018

Yeesh. IKEApocalypse.

Wait why the hell are over half the lanes closed?!??


November 11, 2018
Exactly 100 years ago, the Armistice ending "The Great War" went into effect.

My band BABAM will be marching with the Veterans for Peace.

I worry the USA has learned some bad lessons over the past century, forgetting some stuff from the Civil War - that war is something that happens elsewhere, that you don't really have to worry about declaring war per se, and as long as there's no draft you can keep up military occupation as long as you want. (I'm a little extra-jaded right now reading "Cherry" by Nico Walker - at first I wasn't too impressed by the heroin-using bankrobber Holden Caulfield protagonist and was just playing "spot the East Cleveland reference", but its horrifying story of the grunts in Iraq in the early 2000s- both what they did and what was done to them- has switched my view.)

Anyway, here is the famous ending of Blackadder Series 4:

In news of interest to a rather small and select group of people:
from 2002-2008 my blog kirk.is (well, then it was kisrael.com) had a "Sidebar" feature. For a while it was "Dylan's Sidebar", and then it was "Dylan + Sarah's Sidebar" and then to Dylan's further annoyance it was "The Sidebar of the People", a cast of about 16. It was a mini-blog, basically, letting my friends ramble about whatever they felt like and getting a bit more of an audience in those pre-Facebook and mainstream-Twitter days.

I already a (idiosyncratically arranged) sidebar of the people archive but now I've made it so my blog archive views show the relevant sidebars. Probably (hopefully?) I'm about the only person using my site's On This Day feature, but still.

It all harkens back to before-Social Media was so corporatized, and I miss providing the gathering spot for some of buddies, online and otherwise.

the james edward israel school for the triangle

November 12, 2018
My dad always planned, were he to come into extravagant amounts of money, to do two things: one was to hire a person whose sole task it would be to draw the curtains at night. (Not sure if the job would also include opening them in the morning, or if that would be another employee.) The other would be to compensate for his relative lack of musical talent (though he played a mean Salvation Army timbrel/tambourine) by funding "The James Edward Israel School of the Triangle", consisting on highly focused research and training on just that percussion instrument.

Anyway, visiting The Harvard Art Museums the other week, Melissa found an appropriate centerpiece for such an institution:

Need to double down on use of my task app "2Do". Too much task clutter. I need to accept that there are some things that, while seemingly a good idea, may never quite be worth doing relative to all the other things I could be doing or even my need to relax and that's a bitter pill to swallow. Step one: instead of having new tasks fall into my general "high priority" category, make "importantish" its own category, and then new tasks default to "sort me"
RIP Stan Lee. Excelsior!

Like a promotional brochure :-D

November 13, 2018

You may live to see man-made horrors beyond your comprehension.
Nikola Tesla

Had a dream the other morning, I was in a trolley or something, with passengers, and as it rolled backwards time was reversed outside the tracks, and I had fun narrating how things were happening differently; rain was falling up from the ground to the clouds, birds flying backwards, etc. The hardest thing to explain was light; it seemed so weird that things were just illuminated and sending photons back to the sun that it made me think light and time were deeply connected.
You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!
Jesus (Mark 7:9)
There is a big and sometimes weird disconnect between White Jesus in the Good Ol' USA and the actual scriptures...

We must acknowledge once and for all that the purpose of diplomacy is to prolong a crisis.
Spock, "The Mark of Gideon"

Enjoying doing techie things while re-watching "The Office". I had forgotten in "Casino Night" (first time Jim kinda confesses feelings to Pam) she's wearing one of those green/purple shimmer dresses I so dug on a friend in high school (actually the gal I ended up going to prom with)

Yeesh. Unless Google is lying to me because it knows I like my own blog, it might still be the number one hit for "perpetual nostalgic", a kind of mangling I invented 20 years ago.

November 14, 2018

Also I was pretty fucked in the head, and I was being a sad crazy fuck about some horrors I'd been through. It's true that you go through some horrors and it fucks you up. I don't care what violent motherfuckers say; if it doesn't fuck you up then it's only cuz you're just too fucking stupid.
Nico Walker in "Cherry: A Novel"
Sort of like Holden Caufield meets Trainspotting, but with a big intermezzo in Iraq ("Starship Troopers" is the only reference I have for that kind of detailed-laden grunt wrinting.) Man, what a horrific situation that was, for what was done to, and what was done by, our soldiers. ("Spot the East Cleveland reference" was kind of fun for me in the other parts.)
Almost two decades into updating it daily, this site is increasingly useful to me as a storehouse to lookup half-remembered quotes, citations, etc.

I'm probably the only person who uses it but I upgraded the site search (linked to from features) - now it supports search "for phrases" and individual words rather than just one single big phrase, and it puts all content in chronological order (the earlier seach was weird about "main blog entries" vs supplemental stuff).

I wrote up the main bit of PHP juice on my dev blog
Me and some fellow CarGurus wearing the same shirt made the Boston Globe article "As casual dress takes over Boston offices, could 'Formal Thursday' become a thing?" :-D

THERE'S a genius. Except for the genius part.
MBTA #69 Bus Driver just now, griping about someone foolishly darting at an intersection.

kirk's commonplace blog

November 15, 2018
In FB comments the other day on my post about the search engine, and how rich a resource two decades of blog has become for me, I am reminded of a term for the concept I liked once upon a time - I am following the tradition of the "commonplace book" - or in verb form, "commonplacing".

The term is a bit unfortunate, because we now read commonplace as "ordinary, boring, dime-a-dozen", but if you look at the parts of the compound word, the meaning can be of a "common place" to hold on to quotes and other transferrable tidbits.

Actually the etymology "commonplace" is a bit of a mess - looking at the wikipedia page for Commonplace book there's a claim that "commonplace" is a translation of locus communis. Except that term seems to be a different beast - how different writers might have a topic or phrase in common - tropes, basically. In this sense the "commonplace book" is inly locus communis in the sense of "stuff I the collector ran into".

Thinking about it more I'm increasingly suspect of the derivation, especially seeing as how "commonplace" means "not very good or interesting".
(I guess "common" alone has that double meaning.)

I wish the term was more like "a gather-book", where things are gathered together from myriad sources for future reference.

Of course, "blogging" as a term has its own duality- usually a blog is either more focused on "commonplacing" (and emphasizing the outward link) or more focused on "journaling", people writing their own observations, often in diary kind of way. It's a spectrum, though I think most sites lean one way or the other.
Speaking of commonplacing, did I really forget to send out a link to the Knuckle Tattoo Generator?

I think that's the font I ended up using on my devblog...

doodle thoughts

November 16, 2018
I do daydream about making an expanded version of my self-published comic on coping with mortality, something that captures the best of my thinking not just on death but on the best way to get through life.

I continue to look for the best app to do that with, experimenting with various paint programs (over the year I've spent so much money on devices with touch sensitive screens, each time thinking "maybe THIS will be the one that lets my doodle skills blossom") Apple iPad's "Notes" program probably can't be it (if only because it doesn't deal with layers) but it really has some interesting UI decisions: coloring with the marker is more or less two-toned, paint once then start painting on the same spot to get a darker shade. And the eraser tool is kind of wild: it's like using the "Undo" button (that might erase a set of lines squiggles you made without lifting the stylus all at once) but instead of removing the last thing you did, it removes what ever you poke with the eraser tool. It's disconcerting at first, but kind of encourages a "well if you mess up you can do that whole thing over" approach.

I'm appropriately humble about my doodle skills, but looking at the sesame street characters I drew from memory during a meeting, I wonder if some of the lack of depth most of my stuff has comes from my preferences for using flat flood fill to color with... it's interesting to let go of a kind of "coloring perfectionism".

I really do think that love is the best thing in the world, except for cough drops. But I also have to say, for the umpty-umpth time, that life isn't fair. It's just fairer than death, that's all.
RIP William Goldman, writer of "The Princess Bride" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"

November 17, 2018

Playing tuba with Veterans for Peace on Armistice Day:

melissa's birthday surprise!

November 18, 2018
Melissa's got a milestone birthday coming up, and I conspired with Anna H. and crew to have Anna's "Pre-Thanksgiving Cocktail Party" convert into a full-on surprise party once Melissa and I came over from seeing Patton Oswalt-- I sweet-talked a subset of JP Honk into lying in wait, and stashed my tuba there that afternoon...

We did "Space Cadet", "Mercy Mercy Mercy", and then a "Little Light of Mine" singalong:

Same close-in:

Here friends made up a photocake:

November 19, 2018

From this Moose Allain tweet: A page of text where I have removed the words so you can just enjoy the punctuation.

I got one of those "100 Movie Bucket List" scratch-off posters- I was sort of pleased to have already watched about 2/3 of 'em. Last night Melissa and I watched "From Russia with Love", the old James Bond film. It was just barely ok, I thought - not sure if that sentiment offends any Bond fans here, but it wasn't clear why it would be on anyone's Top 100...

November 20, 2018

I would recommend these wholesome memes if you need some feels this morning.

November 21, 2018

Going over old blog entries, I'm a little surprised at how many youtube embeds are now dysfunctional. Not quite sure if that represents copyright claims, technological shifts, or what. Kind of disheartening, but then again my preference for "forever URLs" is probably an anachronism anyway.

November 22, 2018

Worth heading back to WKRP in Cincinnati...

November 23, 2018


November 24, 2018

donkey kong being a villain in industrial settings and a hero in jungle settings is a perfect illustration of what the unabomber was talking about

Trump dumping climate change reports on Black Friday is some serious bullshit.
Most significantly, the National Climate Assessment--which is endorsed by nasa, noaa, the Department of Defense, and 10 other federal scientific agencies--contradicts nearly every position taken on the issue by President Donald Trump. Where the president has insisted that fighting global warming will harm the economy, the report responds: Climate change, if left unchecked, could eventually cost the economy hundreds of billions of dollars per year, and kill thousands of Americans to boot. Where the president has said that the climate will "probably" "change back," the report replies: Many consequences of climate change will last for millennia, and some (such as the extinction of plant and animal species) will be permanent.


November 25, 2018
Random philosophic ramble; lately I've been pondering on my lack of judginess, my disinclination to make value judgements unless I need to and/or can be very sure of the objective likelihood of my view. It comes from a place of not wanting to be wrong, or rather, of it feeling sin to willfully not acquiesce to the Real Truth, which requires me to be super skeptical about anyone who claims to have that.

So I get to wishing more people would withhold judgement, while worried that if everyone was as wishy-washy as me not much would get done in the world.

But just the other day I noticed a parallel in my "live life with observing but not judging" recommendation and my understanding of Buddhist non-attachment. Not-judging lets me avoid the pitfalls of collapsing the richness of the real world into a simplified axis of "this is good" and "this is bad" and being miserable about my finite ability to change externalities.

Like a lot of consoling philosophies, there seems to be a risk of feeling too passive, of being less willing to take arms and fight the good fights. But still- not-judging is also a path to greater empathy and maybe the fights that I do have to have can be that much more productive.

Helper Device for New Parents!

November 26, 2018

Asking on FB:
Random survey re: bad news (and no not a prelude to revealing anything) If there's bad news brewing so you want:
A to hear about it as soon as possible
B to postpone, "I don't wanna hear it"
C I don't have a singular answer to this

My answer
I'm a strong A. Like this morning; I know my weights up a bit after an indulgent long weekend of birthdays, thanksgiving, and hanging with bread making, beer quaffing friends, but still I wanted to weigh myself as soon as I could get a regular reading.

The concept of news I'm potentially not hearing scares me more than anything I do hear. I've learned I can survive nearly anything (or at least am at peace with I will survive everything up until I don't) but "unknown unknowns" are an immeasurable threat.
Email me or some such if you have any thoughts.
I've often wondered why I picked "Bill" as the name for my extraterrestrial mascot. (See https://alienbill.com/gallery/ for the Gallery) I'm pretty sure it was because it seemed like a innocuous common name (vs, say, naming it after my Uncle or Bill Gates or whatever) but I just remembered reading a novel or two in the "Bill, The Galactic Hero" series, which probably primed me for "Bill as a comically normal name to put in an odd context".

And not that the shape of Alien Bill was 100% original (the gallery goes over some likely inspirations) but now he just looks like a weirdly simplified version of Mike from Monsters, Inc.

You wouldn't want to live in a world where you can't be conned, because if you were, you would be living in a world with no trust. That's the price you pay for trust, is being conned.

i just read something like 'hey you know how long 2018 has been? we had an olympics this year and everybody forgot about it.'

and i just stared off into the distance like

November 27, 2018

Did you know Heath Ledger's Joker was mostly just Tom Waits' 1979 interview on Australian Television?

feeling cute, might delete later

November 28, 2018

I always keep an eye on b3ta.com, a UK-site with fun photoshop themed contests. They're just wrapping up a scifi art contest that has made some awesome stuff:

November 29, 2018

Not sure what I find more damaging about Trump - "They're making a mistake because I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else's brain can ever tell me." (Such a nice pairing with Colbert's sense of Truthiness "We get it. We're not brainiacs on the nerd patrol. We're not members of the factinista. We go straight from the gut, right sir? That's where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. I know some of you are going to say "I did look it up, and that's not true." That's 'cause you looked it up in a book.") or that Yellen didn't get renewed because she's short - "The president also appeared hung up on Yellen's height. He told aides on the National Economic Council on several occasions that the 5-foot-3-inch economist was not tall enough to lead the central bank, quizzing them on whether they agreed, current and former officials said." to quote The Washington Post.

November 30, 2018

If someone is born and registered on one side of the international date line then immediately taken to the other side, it's possible to be -1 days old

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