my fall, one second everyday

December 1, 2018

RIP George H.W. Bush. Two thoughts on him:
1. He was wise enough not to decimate and overthrow Iraq - maybe even recognizing that a counterweight to Iran was useful in that region. Similarly, he seems to be the last actual fiscally conservative Republican president we've had.
2. I suspect Bill Clinton benefited from Perot running in 1992 more than Bush did. Without Perot's run, Clinton's win, it's a different landscape - Gingrich's "Contract with America" was a brilliant piece of political blah blah blah that resulted from that, and maybe in this alternate scenario the drive behind stuff like The Tea Party movement never has the focus, and maybe things aren't as stupidly polarized as they are now.
jendziura twitter thread making the rounds, thoughtful stuff on the "first principles" thinking of conservatives and libertarians vs "what are the outcomes" thinking of liberals. It's still pretty compatible with the "moral foundations" theory of Jonathan Haidt - liberals are very concerned about harm and unfairness, conservatives mix those concerns with other concepts of proper authority and what not. And also with the idea that authoritarian-leanig folks are more concerned about not letting "cheaters" and outsiders benefit unfairly without pulling their weight.
"That was my shot. It's a funny language, German. For one thing, everybody shouts it. All those very long words: the literalism, the tinkertoy accumulation. It sounds pushy, beginning every sentence with a verb like that. And take the first person singular: ich. "Ich." Not a masterpiece of reassurance, is it? I sounds nobly erect. Je has a certain strength and intimacy. Eo's okay. Yo I can really relate to. Yo! But ich? It's like the sound a child makes when it confronts its own ... Perhaps that's part of the point. No doubt all will come clear as soon as my German gets better."
--Martin Amis, "Time's Arrow". (And with possible apologies to my German friends!) Fascinating book, thanks for the recommendation Dave Adams. The concept (and this is only a spoiler for the first few pages) is of a homunculus riding along in a doctor's head, except the homunculus experiences everything in reverse - so starting with death and moving onto being merely infirm, gradually regaining mobility then vitality, and so on. Much of the book is reframing the ordinary and seeing what still kind of works in reverse (much small talk, for instance) and what become an abomination (to quote Wikipedia, "Blows heal injuries, doctors cause them. Theft becomes donation, and vice versa. In a passage about prostitutes, doctors harm them while pimps give them money and heal them. ") Besides the pleasure of that, it's intriguing to compare the narrator (feeling the doctor's feelings but not privy to his thoughts, or able to exert any control) to our own subconscious minds.

november 2018 new music playlist

December 2, 2018
A lot of catchy songs in November, including a (relatively rare) 5 star.

5 Star: 4 Star: 3 Star:

let it be

December 3, 2018
Advice from the Beatles, assembled by Michelle Rial - I think I need to buy a print of this

I remember once having emotional catharsis with "Let It Be" in college, on hearing of the death of Baptista, a guy I shared an unusually mild august night in portugal with.

December 4, 2018

Really bummed about Tumblr. I was always a little surprised when encountering people who mostly thought it was for porn, since it was pretty easy to avoid. For me tumblr is more of a gathering place with a pro-Social Justice vibe. I guess some of its sub-communities are based on shared horniness, but it was easy for me to curate a collection of folks posting stuff I found interesting on the regular. More visual than twitter, more dialog based (and less self-absorbed) than Instagram, less special-topic than Reddit, and not "folks I already know" than Facebook.

Jerks at 4chan can continue to be as alt-right and pornish as they want, I assume. From a culture war standpoint this stinks. Shape detection is on the iPad! As seen on the Newton circa '95 or a '63 Lincoln TX-2... (and I suppose CAD programs have been doing it all along, but still.)

December 5, 2018

Meanwhile, in Italy, anti-Vaxxer government sacks all 30 members of the health expert board. Oh btw here's a the CDC advisory about a measles outbreak there.

I remember when I was a teen reading about Jim Hightower - "America's #1 Populist" - and thinking that conceptually populism sounded pretty cool. I have no idea if Hightower is "that" kind of populist, but my positive feelings about that are swamped by concerns about the anti-expert sense of "truthiness" that can run things.
Anytime Chris Hill or some other apologist for Trump reminds me "elections have consequences" I'm going to remember this period of Republican lame-duck state legislators furiously working to limit the powers of the incoming leaders.
"We were like two ships passing in the night, yelling obscenities and setting fires in a desperate attempt to sink each other."

December 6, 2018

A great fallacy of the world is this:
that every opinion must move to purpose.
I think it's akin to the perpetual dissatisfaction Buddhists warn us against; we ask why merely think and categorize when we can feel and judge? How else would we be brought to right action? Why strain our selves looking for all the pluses and minuses, the reasons and results, when we can just collapse into a single thumbs up thumbs down?
I was delighted by this mural inside the Rosebud near Davis Square-

"Al Cass FAST" was my favorite valve oil even back in Cleveland - the rocketship and the way it proudly displayed its hometown really appealed to me, along with the"ODORLESS / WEATHER CONSCIOUS / DOES NOT SEPARATE" copy on the bottle, from an era when products sold themselves as much as facts as feelings. According to Wikipedia
[Al Cass] was the manufacturer and creator of the "FAST" valve/slide/key oil combination for brass instruments, which has been considered the industry standard since inception. It was developed after 18 months of R&D at the request and final approval of Dizzy Gillespie.
which is super hip.
"If you are immune to boredom, there is literally nothing you cannot accomplish."
--David Foster Wallace
"There is no art without resistance in the material."
--William Morris
I've been digging using old school (but touchscreen) e-ink Kindle - but they still have the disadvantage of not letting me use the color coding for highlights I did when the app on iPad mini was my main reader. Also it's less easy to copy and paste quotes onto my website and Facebook. Both of these problems are somewhat mitigated now with what might be a new feature (or not?) where the device can email you a nice PDF and CSV with your notes.


December 7, 2018

BABAM Takes Music To The Streets from Julia Maruca on Vimeo.

December 8, 2018

I "won" my group's "Ugly Sweater Contest", but mostly because I sang the Imperial March as I took the runway. #cargurus

December 9, 2018

My recent devblog post on repeatable random colors in javascript is slightly more clever than sometimes plus I get to quite John von Neumann: "Anyone who attempts to generate random numbers by deterministic means is, of course, living in a state of sin." (At my first programming job Paul Morville made a small sign of that, since he thought my protests along the lines of "this code can't POSSIBLY be doing that" had a whiff of that "from structure, chaos"...)

December 10, 2018

December 11, 2018

One of the best Vine compilations ever. Man what a brilliant medium that was.


December 12, 2018
Lately I've been working on a personal timelines project, experimenting with visualizing the course of my life so far: where I've lived, jobs I've had, people I've been with romantically, etc.

Time for humans is such an odd beast - it marches inexorably forward, yet loops back on itself in the form of days of weeks and seasons in years. In experimenting with visual representations of it, I thought back to my old hooptime illustration, showing the idiosyncratic way I place a week in physical space (like when making simple day-of-week calculations)

Back then I mentioned and illustrated my even stronger sense of the course of a year - again counter-clockwise, with January at the top, and looping back:

Of course a simple loop doesn't display a forward progression of time, so for grins today I stretched out the loop into something that also expresses the movement into the future:

(It's not entirely dissimilar from repeat until death, my attempt to animate Christa Terry's ingrained visualization of an upward spiral of years.)

You can see the full p5 version here.

I'm still very interested in the topic of how different people visualize time, and speculation on what influenced that (clockfaces, calendar pages, whatever) If anyone has an idiosyncratic time-space mapping I'd be delighted to try and make an illustration of it.

"It's judgement that defeats us."
--Colonel Kurtz, Apocalypse Now. I have been thinking a lot on judgement lately; wondering if it's just a form of unnecessary attachment, this incredibly goofy need to develop a gut feel "am I for this or against this" on every topic that crosses our path.

December 13, 2018

Today's Nancy is on point.

Man. I feel bad for not being a better hermit crab parent over the years. They are so orderly!
With the rise of phrases like "horny on main", I feel like the word has recovered something it lost in, like, the 80s with 2 Live Crew's song - like it's kind of useful to playfully talk about expressed sexual desire without being too gross or too judgemental.

sounds to me like someone's got a case of the s'pose'das!

December 14, 2018
sounds to me like someone's got a case of the s'pose'das!

Been thinking about this famous Simpsons line in the context of how I'm noticing everyone is very quick to use emotional judging to get to a stance of "this is good and I'm for it" "this is bad and I'm against it" rather than more finessed categorization; for understanding that everything exists because of some kind of set of cause and effect, and usually meeting some kind of purpose, but maybe a purpose that doesn't align with our own. (I think this "emotional judging" goes against Buddhism's suggestion that we not attach so freely, lest it lead to suffering.)

I mean, that's what a "s'pose'da" is, right? "This should not be!" and yet - there it is. From whence "should"? Going to "how it should be" can be used to deny personal responsibility for preference... I mean you can often trace it back to a lot of "well, we should make choices now to make outcomes like this less likely in the future, preferring rather a common-sense-derived set of preferred outcomes", but most people just go with their gut and-or defer to authority of one kind or another.

Anyway, is the line this teacher is using one (or similar to one) teachers actually used, or was it kind of made up for the show?
Sigh, in the interest of fairness- damn it to hell, NJ Dems, don't gerrymander too, you jerks.
Cracked has some thought experiments, mostly old stuff but some kind of new. I think how some of them - especially "which has more value, water or a diamond, when only the former is essential for life" and "would you ruin a $50 pair of shoes to plunge and save a drowning kid, but not send $50 to a foreign kid-saving charity?" only make any kind of sense if you throw away context. In most contexts, a diamond will gets you lots of water. In context, a drowning child is a problem at hand with a finite and bounded and satisfying solution, while sending a check involves chipping on a corner at a huge problem without resolution.

Noticing that brings me to this idea of how I'm a "cruxian", that I care about things in broad strokes and am relatively insensitive to nuance - basically, my brain is much more attentive to how things interact with their context. I'm blind to things like the mostly-internal excellence of a well-constructed symphony, say... not to mention a bit faceblind, maybe since the specific contours of any given face don't change how it interacts with the world (unless the personal is at the far ends of the beautiful/ugly spectrums)