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best photos of the month - january 2019


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At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: "I have to go to work -- as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I'm going to do what I was born for -- the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?"

So you were born to feel "nice"? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don't you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you're not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren't you running to do what your nature demands?

You don't love yourself enough. Or you'd love your nature too, and what it demands of you.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations.
It's not quite sympathetic enough, I'd say, and yeah - a lot of people don't love themselves enough. (To clarify, I want to make sure"You don't love yourself enough" to be seen as a sympathetic observation, not a judgemental criticism.) That last line reminds me of "amor fati" and truly loving one's fate, however crap-laden it seems. Love THIS fate, for there is no other.
Britain is one of the richest and most advanced democracies in the world. It is currently locked in a room, babbling away to itself hysterically while threatening to blow its own kneecaps off. This is what nationalist populism does to a country.
That piece is one of the first I've seen that tries to get into what the Backstop actually consisted of - i.e. keeping Northern Ireland more inline with EU regulation so that the land border didn't have to be as locked down.
Wish I could find a better link but man, Sheila E on BBC4 talking funk drumming is great.

Awesome to pair that with Bootsy's Basic Funk Formula...

january 2019 new music playlist

It's groundhog day. Again.

Last month was ok for music. 4+5 star stuff in red...

One 5 star: A lot of hip hop (much of it kind of raunchy) last month: Two songs my honk band is working on: Most of the rest came from shows I watched -
[For Trump] dominance does seem to rank at the top. "I love to crush the other side and take the benefits," he wrote in a book called Think Big. "Why? Because there is nothing greater. For me it is even better than sex, and I love sex." He went on to observe: "You hear lots of people say that a great deal is when both sides win. That is a bunch of crap. In a great deal you win--not the other side. You crush the opponent and come away with something better for yourself."
LOL President Conan the Barbarian - "What is best in life?" "To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women."

This is why he ok as a reality tv star or WWE guest, and a shit politician. I pray to god he is bluffing with declaring a damn national emergency... declaring national emergencies - like to paraphrase Archer: “DO YOU WANT A BANANA REPUBLIC DICTATOR? BECAUSE THAT’S HOW YOU GET BANANA REPUBLIC DICTATORS.”
"Oof, it's 18 degrees out!"
"That's not enough degrees. We need more degrees."
Melissa and Me.

February 3, 2019

Maturity is realising how many things don't require your opinion.

And not only don't require an expression of an opinion, but don't even require the formulation of an opinion.

I remember when my youngest kid was asked by a guest, "And what is your favorite color?" He looked puzzled, and then answered, "But I like them all for different things. Do I have to pick a favorite?" No, son, you don't.

There is a weirdly large amount of super bowl ads w/ robots. And all the robots kinda look like the same design, (usually) white plastic surface with some geary bits visible.
Go Pats, and Red Sox...
Celtics and Bruins gotta quit slackin'.
Finally, kind of weird that it's the lowest scoring Super Bowl AND the Patriot's largest margin in a Super Bowl game. Uh, good on the defense, I guess...

the silence of the rams, part deux

17 years ago - to the day - I titled my blog entry "the silence of the rams", but between being held to 3 points and the Pats having virtual homefield advantage crowd-noise wise, it fits even more this year.

Like I said, there was a weird-amount of robot themed ads. Wonder if it taps into our anxieties about automation?

Anyway, for me the most memorable ad was the Bud Light / Game of Thrones crossover - for people annoyed by the "beer for normal folks not the effete elite" of the original series, seeing it get wiped out by cleansing dragon fire was terrific - and the thing was so unapologetically violent and Thrones-y -- kind a surreal and nightmarish, but not in a bad way:

(FOLLOWUP: HBO said the Bud Knight had to die)
Slate in 2005 on The Lamest Dynasty in Sports.
Oh, also Burger King just straight up showing "Andy Warhol Eating a Hamburger" was artsy and nuts.
When a bird is buried, the worms have their revenge.

Also, final(?) sportsball note... Boston "Beat LA" twice in half a year? Ha.
I'm not telegraphing anything. No, no, no. There's a difference. When President Obama pulled out of Iraq in theory we had Iraq. In other words, we had Iraq. We never had Syria because President Obama never wanted to violate the red line in the sand. So we never had Syria. I was the one that actually violated the red line when I hit Syria with 59 Tomahawk missiles, if you remember. But President Obama chose not to do that. When he chose not to do that, he showed tremendous weakness. But we didn't have Syria whereas we had Iraq. So when he did what he did in Iraq, which was a mistake.


School of Honk's Ghostbusters Sunday - tuba duet at 2:30 :-D

25 scenes, 25 years - personal recollections about some of the most influential movie scenes of the last quarter century. Also some really sharp webpage work.
It's funny. When you look at someone through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags.
Bojack Horseman

"Win or lose today, the most important thing is that you tried your be-"
"Shhhh! We can't let the others overhear that we tried out best!! What if we LOSE?"

What's the cost of the parade? Like net, overall... does it pull in tourism bucks or is it just a cost of doing business politicians get us to pay for 'cause people love them some winners in sports? Does the city get any of that sweet cash from sports jerseys and what not, or is it all just in "warm fuzzies"?

February 6, 2019

In high school I was placed in the English bottom class where a teacher said to my face I'd NEVER make it as a writer.
Today, 25 years later, after uncountable knock-backs from almost every publisher, I'm ecstatic to finally be able to announce that teacher has died. #NeverGiveUp

Quotes have always a critical part of my blogging, going back to when I was just keep stylusing out a private "common place book" in my PalmPilot in the mid-90s. On my blog for 2019, I'm making a daily ritual of using the "this day" feature and going back and decorating the quotes with a neat little bit of CSS that adorns each with a big stylized quote marker.

I've also been trying to find replacements for broken embedded videos. It feels like there's a bunch of youtube videos removed from a period around 10 years ago. I guess some of that might be copyright hell, but I wonder if Youtube just gave up converting them and yanked 'em, even on youtube the site itself.
From an interesting (if somewhat padded, 2x speed in youtube is your friend) series of weird rules in sports:

In theory I like defense in football - it's a smarter, less gaudy thing to like. Most people don't though, but here's some in-depth coverage of the performance of one under-heralded player on the Pats.

the calm down toad

please gaze upon The Calm Down Toad


February 8, 2019

"...and that building she's asking about isn't really haunted?"
"Buildings aren't haunted - people are!"
John Reyes and Rabbi, "Russian Doll"

February 9, 2019

With [...] enough [...] ellipses [...] you [...] can [...] make [...] a [...] true [...] quote [...] of [...] almost [...] anyone [...] saying [...] anything!
Anyone with enough reading to use the word "Elipses"

A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any other invention with the possible exceptions of handguns and Tequila.
Mitch Ratcliffe (am surprised this wasn't on my blog already somewhere)

February 10, 2019

Every couple years I think about this NSFW rant praising the Nokia E70 over the first iPhone... NSFW and if you're of a delicate sensibility don't try reading the next GIF too closely either.

Times when the world seems different somehow:

- being in your elementary school as an adult

- being in a pool when it rains

- train stations at night

- when the ghost of the girl who died in your building tells you to get out or die

- walking through fresh snow by yourself

February 11, 2019

It's sort of weird being a "side-sleeper". You're lying there on your left side, all snug in blankets and maybe a body pillow, and your body is like "you know what? sure, this is great and all, but you know what would be REALLY great? This same thing but on your RIGHT side." So you shift over, dragging all the pillows and blankets over and re-settling in, and eight minutes later- "you know what? .... "
So, there's another attempt at a kind of minor league for football, the AAF. Besides making some smart rule changes to the NFL setup, they made a whole set of 8 teams... I've always loved new team logo/branding (here's some I invented as a teen and then redrew 15 years ago for a "CyberWar League") getting some flavor of the city or region while being all tough and cool, so here's a link with all the new teams and logos:
There's a certain sameness to the logo treatment - I guess lacking the diversity you accumulate when teams get added and rebranded over decades, but overall pretty cool.

Slate mentions some of the rule changes and talks about the XFL and the USFL (but doesn't talk about NFL Europe which I thought was an interesting one.)

February 12, 2019

Whoa, a watch with touch screen gesture/number recognition- from 1984!


no crime and punishment


For me fretting about a decision is also about forgetting that there's no god's eye view even possible - no means of looking forward and back in time with perfect knowledge, and thus no ability to consistently judge what the right course is, or was, or will be.

This is beyond there not being someone or some thing to punish me just for the sake of not having made the optimal choice, which is the passage's point - that all the universe provides is circumstance and consequences, not judgement with punishment or reward.

(But even without that cosmic judge, it's easy to live in fear of my future self regarding my present self with scorn. So I try and be sympathetic and empathetic with my past self - that bozo was doing about the best he could with what he got, prisoner of a a chain of cause and effect going back to the start of the universe, as are we all.)

UPDATE: on my FB Matt I. brought up a good counter:
The OP is totally wrong--I'm not fretting that the universe will punish me, I'm really worried precisely that it *won't* punish me so there's no real incentive for me to do the right thing, and I have to be extra careful as a result.
I think the original passage doesn't half to be read s 100% selfish - like you could be anxious that others will be punished for your choice - but the point is that someone could be blasé about their own choices as long as the negative consequences were on others is a good one.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: Both Matt and my ex Mo seemed to read the passage in the sense of personal good vs group benefit moral sense, but that spectrum didn't even register to me until Matt started talking about it - on closer inspection I think the difference is in the phrase "Right Decision" - I read it exclusively as "Correct Decision" while Matt and Maureen seem to have read it as "Morally Righteous Decision".
"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." Steve Colbert was the John the Baptist of Truthiness, but Trump is its Jesus. It is amazing how his followers will believe him over EVERY other source of information. Case in point:
‘Oh, crime actually stayed the same.’ Didn’t stay the same! It went way down. … These people, you know, you’d think they’d want to get to the bottom of a problem … not try and pull the wool over everybody’s eyes.”

Then Trump delivered his closing pitch, a direct appeal to intuition over evidence. You don’t need to check the numbers, he argued, since you already know walls work. “It’s fake news. I’m telling you, it’s just fake news,” the president jeered. “And you know what? You wouldn’t even have to know. You can say that automatically, without even knowing. It’s, like, it’s obvious, it’s common sense.”

you: the world has meaning

you: the world has no meaning

you: the world has meaning but not the kind I want

you: the world has meaning but only to me

you: i imbue the world w meaning

you: meaninglessness is a form of meaning

you: the world itself is meaning

the world:

February 14, 2019

My battery is low and it's getting dark.
Paraphrase of last transmission from Mars Rover Opportunity, June 10, 2018
good night, sweet rover (see also xkcd's tribute)

( via cracked.com's 30 Fascinating Facts About All That Candy You Love )
From a FB tuba group I'm in...

"Many slightly over-weight children who do not have a lot of spare energy are very happy on the tuba. [...]You do not need an agile brain. [...] Responsible, good-natured boys who are happy belonging to a group can be content in band or orchestra playing what seems like endless oompahs to an outsider."
Guess they got my number!

February 15, 2019

C'mon. Obama pushed for his electoral mandate and popular vote victory of healthcare with politics and compromise, not a trumped up facts-don't-matter "emergency". This is dangerous territory.

being a bad negotiator is not a national emergency

Mexico was going to pay for the wall
Mexico was going to pay for the wall
Mexico was going to pay for the wall
Mexico was going to pay for the wall...

Repubs must not allow Pres Obama to subvert the Constitution of the US for his own benefit & because he is unable to negotiate w/ Congress.

February 16, 2019

On my devblog, ripping music the old-fashioned way, with a history of the 80s/90s/2000s ways of carrying music, and then realizing there's a USB dongle that let me rip some obscure stuff off of youtube that you can't get legitimately anywhere.
Huh. 7 years ago I linked to this article on how Zelda was broken, and longing for a return to a difficult and "indifferent to the player" Hyrule ("But a world is *not for you*. A world needs a substance, an independence, a sense that it doesn't just disappear when you turn around (even if it kinda does)") I think that's exactly what we got with "Breath of the Wild"...
Less than 24 hours after declaring a national emergency, President Trump's motorcade has arrived at Trump National Golf Club in West Palm Beach. This is the 169th day he has spent at one of the Trump Property golf clubs.

spidergoat, spidergoat...

figure-ground reversal fun

I have a notebook from when I was 18, the summer before college.

I had designed T-shirts for my high school's jazz band the years previous, and I guess the band was still the focus of tooling around with some design stuff, and so I made this:

I've always enjoyed handcrafting blockletters, and I believe I made these by drawing the 3D extrusion behind the letters and then just filling in the extruded bits on the page in front.

Anyway, I realized I can now have the mojo to get a computer to do most of the work for me, and so I made fgrtext: figure-ground reversal (the fancy word I saw for it on wikipedia's entry for negative space.) It's a little virtual toy to mess around with the words, colors and other factors.

I made it so you can bookmark creations - here are some designs I made for 222 Street Jazz:


and JP Honk:

February 18, 2019

Yeesh, this handsoap pump is like a piece of citrus getting drunk on ginger schnapps and then throwing up on your hand.
Melissa (paraphrased)

February 19, 2019

I really love the twitter account PETSCIIBOTS - PETSCII was the character / font set Commdore Computers used, and these are visually very clever robots made out of those letters, symbols, and colors. (See also ASCIIbotics Lab's work - less colorful but still very very clever, with some randomizers built-in as well.)

February 20, 2019

I don't buy the "Everyone is doing their best" theory. I know firsthand that I'm not.
(whoa, her profile picture has the same "red hat with silver puffy wings" cap I have- I think it's "Vegimals" from the 70s.)

February 21, 2019

Watched the Mr. Rogers documentary last night, very misty.

Sort of tangentially related, in the sense of appreciation of the world and the particular kind of mindfulness and attention he cultivated: the medium-thick layer of snow, bonded with a bit of ice, was immensely satisfying to brush off the car this morning, sliding off in gratifyingly large hunk sheets.

Also I'd love to see more of his ("Old Friends...New Friends") 1978 series (20 episodes) targeted at grown-ups. Had no idea such a thing existed.
The Three Rhetorical Tricks That Bind Trump to his Base
Hmm. There's this idea in the Scot Adams crew that Trump is a "master persuader" and "playing 4 dimensional chess". That's only partially true - he's not good at persuading people in general, but he gets more and more loyalty from his base, and he has excellent instincts for playing a room (probably honed during his WWE wrasslin' + Vince McMahon shaving days) as long as it is supportive people - and then by being utterly willing to ignore standards of decency and respectful conversation. Or conversation, for that matter, from him the sh*t only rolls downhill (with Sean Hannity and Fox News carrying the buckets up and getting him all hot and bothered.)

February 22, 2019

We'd like to conduct a FAX ORGY
Man, life was a little strange before the Internet. (Also: "come at me like a panther / 'cause you know yes is my answer" is one of my favorite sexy lines.)
...should each human being's vote register alike, as the law books pretend and as some say the founders desired? Or should a vote be weighed according to the wisdom, the power, and the influence--that is, the money of--the voter?
from "The Space Merchants", Pohl / Kornbluth.
My friend Merrilyn reminded me of this quote, from a novel about a future dystopia where almost all power lies with multinational advertising agencies. It's interesting how they assumed advertising would get more and more intrusive and widely targeted, while in real life that's a smaller part of the story compared to privacy concerns and tracking.

February 23, 2019

We can flip a switch and make it light but gravity is much harder. Also flipping a switch to reliably make a light place dark or playing a record of silence to quiet a noisy room would be good. I mean we have stoves AND refrigerators, you know?

February 24, 2019

Every marriage tends to consist of an aristocrat and a peasant. Of a teacher and a learner.
John Updike, "Couples".
It was cited (by a kind of evil, womanizing jerk) in "Russian Doll" but I didn't recognize it, even though I see I had highlighted it when I read the book. Anyway, it's been on my mind since I heard it referenced in the series; it's tempting to try to use it as lens for past relationships, and the unrequited ones. But I guess actual healthy human relationships would have both people sometimes being teacher, sometimes learner, though it's not going to be quite an even split.

February 25, 2019

Gruber recommends this overview of what happened in NYC w/ Amazon HQ2. And while the deal might have been a net good for the city, the author is in suport of a bigger scale picture, with this as a blow against a kind of crony capitalism that emerges when businesses pit city against city. (Like they do for sports franchises.) It feels akin to unionization; that local politics need to be bolder in not being such suck ups, and that cities presenting a more unified front of "look, we'll be accomodating, but we're not going to suck up to you to an enormous degree" would be a huge improvement. (Ritholtz points to Apple and Google as companies that have done well for themselves moving into NYC w/o big ol' sweetheart deals.)
where have all the music visualizers gone - ? I'd love one for my phone (when it's sitting perched on its wireless charger, at least)... I found one app that did ok at it, ProjectM Music Visualizer, but the UI was rough in terms of picking playlists and preview and now it seems pretty crashy... Visualizers were such a nice artform.
facebook is doing to boomers what working in a mercury-vapored hat factory did to 19th-century laborers

quotefest 2019

The feeling of commiseration is the beginning of humanity.

Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.
Douglas Adams. Seems more true than ever...

Nothing, believe me, nothing is more satisfying to me personally than getting a great idea and then beatin' it to death.
David Letterman

Since flesh can't stay, we pass the words along
Erica Jong

Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased--thus do we refute entropy.
Spider Robinson

There are no facts, only interpretations.

February 27, 2019

Making the rounds:


just cause 3 as psychological self-care

The other day I finished Just Cause 3 (again) and its main three DLC packs. The 3-year-old game really has a polish the 4th game in the series lacked.

The series, of course, is such a gloriously concentrated dose of what I want in big-budget games: moving around with visceral physics in implausible ways (being pulled along a grappling hook, floating on a parachute, gliding and skimming with flying-squirrel-suit wings) in a plausibly realistic looking environment, along top getting my inner adolescent placated with insane empowerment fantasies of making things go boom and generally being an indestructible force of nature. All with a well-tuned challenge level, featuring my character dying a lot but with me rarely getting too too frustrated - and always offering the chance to bring more destructive hardware to bear if a mission seemed more than a gun and a rocket launcher and my lazy skills could handle.

Around the time I was sinking too many hours into this game, counter-intuitively things felt like they were getting better at work, and I made a few breakthroughs in using the new techstack. (A new UI stack that's more of a challenge because most of the then-new technologies I picked up 5-10 made sense for side projects, for just writing some code and slapping it on my webserver, while with the full-on React/Redux setup you kind of need a more professional workflow - so I have fewer chances to organically hone my skill on interesting small projects.) I wonder if this videogame's message of "persistence will always be rewarded" and general "wow tough guy look what you can do!" stance helped with that.

Anyway, once I figured out how to launch the damn DLC - the Air / Land / Sea missions, the missions I didn't play on my first run through 3 years ago, things got even better. The mechs of the land pack, with their quick movement and wacky gravity guns, were fun enough, and the giant lightning gun and missile-packing rocket-powered boat of the sea pack made some of the grind of clearing bases fun, but man - that rocket pack the air-based dlc adds to the squirrel-suit - not unlimited, just boosts from nearly anywhere - and then the missions where you are attacking a flying air fortress... just imagine being Tony Stark attacking the Helicarrier as a one Iron Man army. Except in one of the earlier suits, where he's still a bit klutzy and sometimes doesn't give himself clearance and so comically bashes his head into an overhang... super fun.
Pac-Man: The Untold Story of How We Really Played the Game - intriguing description of how generations of right-hand Pac-Man players clutching the left side for leverage leaves its mark on the old upright cabinets (Thanks Nick B)

Interesting how Pac-Man, which like Q*bert was button free, was ambidextrous. Nintendo famously put the crosspad under the left thumb, which may have heralded a switch in games away from being focused on rough movement and towards precision timing. (Continued with the WASD/mouselook arrangement favored by PC gamers- something I've never quite gotten into my skin.)

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