Aww, work buddy Mifi left me a little Etcha-A-Sketch Animator birthday card...
Music I added to my ever-increasing playlist last month - as usual, 4-star stuff in red, listed in decreasing "you need to hear this" order.
April 2, 2019
- Fair Game (Sia) Melancholy
- How Can I Love You If You Won't Lie Down (Silver Jews) My therapist mentioned the title as a sufi proverb. I also love the line "time is a game that only children play well".
- Bountiful (Tobe Nwigwe) This came up as a youtube ad - great flow and big percussion.
- A Better Son/Daughter (Rilo Kiley) I love the lilting nature of the tune, and playing it soft and then big.
- Voicemail for Jill (Amanda Palmer) Oof.
- Skinny Love (Bon Iver) "For emma, forver ago" must be the greatest emo-ish album title ever.
- Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time (feat. Little Big Town) (Thomas Rhett) Wish I remember where I heard of this, it's pretty decent.
- Sisyphus (Andrew Bird) I'm always a sucker for a Sisyphus reference - Beth recommended this as well.
- It's All Over Now (Live) (Rebirth Brass Band) Rebirth is so important to the Honk community...
- Good Enough for Now ("Weird Al" Yankovic) I remember my dad laughing and laughing at this song, the epitiome of backhanded compliment lovesongs, after he fell ill. It's a lot to think about.
- Pac-Man Fever (Eat 'em Up) 2015 (feat. Jace Hall) (Buckner & Garcia) I guess as a tie-in to Wreck-It-Ralph they remade this song, and added a guest rapper ghost which I like a LOT (especially when he's talking about "suckers get served like pork chop sammiches" while the overlay track has him going "nom nom nom nom nom nom")
- Grazing in the Grass (Hugh Masekela) Recommendation from band.
- Da Bomba (Youngblood Brass Band) Another recommendation for the band to look into.
- My Neck, My Back (Khia) Melissa is historically a bit fond of the chorus (tho minus the "lick" part, just a list of body parts.
- RING THE ALARM Pt.1 Pt.2 Pt.3 (The Black Eyed Peas) Strident
- Girls Fall Like Dominoes (Nicki Minaj) From some soundtrack or other
- Money Maker (Ludacris) Raunchy hiphop...
- Rock Me Amadeus (Falco) I don't think the USA really gets Falco, but he probably deserves better than the Bloodhound Gang treatment.
TIL we do not know the secret name of bears - not even our own word for it:
Our ancient ancestors were so worried about bears, they didn't even want to name them because they feared [the bears] might overhear and come after them. So they came up with this word -- this is up in Northern Europe -- 'bruin', meaning "the brown one" as a euphemism, and then 'bruin' segued into 'bear'. We know the euphemism, but we don't know what word it replaced, so bear is the oldest-known euphemism.
I had a thought: Love and Support are basically placebos.
April 3, 2019
But it's not a true thought. People think placebos are "remedies that shouldn't work, but do anyway" and that isn't what I mean. Rather say: I, Kirk, have middling-poor instincts (and thus distrust) about "remedies" where the primary workings are internal to the "patient", and so are not amenable to externalized examination, and explanation - and classic expressions of love and support are in that category.
See, when people talk, it's rarely starkly forthright. They're not just telling you the objective facts, the speaker has in mind what they want you to know - and if they care about you, what they believe you want to hear. There are those touches of agenda, always.
Both of those kind of agendas (selfish and selfless) come into play when a supportive person (call them "the helper") goes into "advice mode" when a person going through tough stuff (call them "the helpee") just wants to be heard and validated. The helper wants to offer tangibly useful suggestions -
that's a more or less selfless agenda. But also: they don't want to be reminded that they might be helpless to tangibly help! (thus, the selfish aspect).
The helper needs existential fortitude to accept being in a world where their friends and loved ones suffer in a way the helper can't fix, even though the helper desperately want to. So would-be helpers need to cultivate the "internalized medicine" of listening and offering reassurance.
But man, sometimes those reassurances seem so hollow to folks like me, who look for objective, rational measures for everything.... "Everything's going to be ok", "This is temporary", "You'll get through this". The speaker doesn't objectively know this stuff is true, except in high-falutin' existential and long-run senses (to quote Keynes - "Long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.")
But I need to remember, that's just me, I'm a bit of an outlier. Not everyone is as muddled by attempted rationality and external validation as me - and I need to remember the internal states of suffering loved ones may be maelstroms of irrational confusion and mislogic anyway - there's a good chance my "you're going to be ok", while still a bit of a platitude, is more true and honest than the helpee's view of the situation at that moment... and the sugar pill wrapper of real love and support might be medicine in and of itself.
(As to why I'm such a "rational" outlier - I think somehow in my youth I absorbed too much of the judge-y aspects of religion - that at the end of it all, I was going to be called into account for what I did in life, and so I trained to make my inner self and desires subservient to and explainable by the external / objective rationality that would hold sway in that final Divine Court, and thus avoid an eternity of hellfire torment.)
The art in life lies in taking pleasures as they pass, and the keenest pleasures are not intellectual, nor are they always moral.
I'll be helping to move a piano soon, and I'm thinking of this cartoon, Heavenly Puss...
...at least I think that's the cartoon I'm thinking of - I'm conflating it with ones where the gag is the piano drops on the head, and then the person rises up dazed out of the middle of the wreckage and their teeth have been replaced by piano keys.... this family guy references it but I'm pretty sure there's an original I can't quite find...
casually saying "you can't squeeze hummus out of a baby" instead of "you can't get blood from a stone"
I've been thinking about Spock lately.
April 7, 2019
As a child watching original Star Trek (and on a black and white TV for many of those years - come to think of it, these days many of the effects and makeup look bad when seen in HD - but considering only between 25-50% of TVs were color when the show was being broadcast, it holds up pretty well - I wonder how many design choices were made because they would read ok in black and white as well as showing off the new color capabilities.)
Ok, back to my point - growing up watch Star Trek at an impressionable age, I took the Vulcans' party line of "Vulcans don't HAVE emotions" at face value- assuming the aliens were somehow *physiologically* rational, and that it was just Spock's human half that was adding the drama. Now of course I see that the writers were showing a more nuanced picture, that Vulcan itself was a planet with a history of deep emotion, now rigidly controlled by training, philosophy, and cultural norms, and you could see signs of that in the few "pure" Vulcans the series provided.
I think about the old "I Grok Spock" campaign, and while it was a bit of a early fandom shibboleth it also reflected the fans' own working through their own dualities - how we have this emotional core that might be providing all the raw motive energy, but that needs to be tempered by logic and rationality. (Some of that is speculation, since that movement was before my time.)
Later came the movies. In "Wrath of Khan", Kirk and Spock return to the phrase "the good of the many outweigh the good of the few, or the one." (Though looking at the script I see the first time through it's "the needs". probably close enough to synonyms, but interesting.) Depending on how you draw the venn diagram of many/few/one, the result can be monstrous -
if the three sets don't come together and you are still playing a utilitarian "many vs few" game then you are deep in tyrany of the majority territory, where minority rights will be ignored.
Logically, Spock was probably implying nested sets:
What's slightly non-obvious about this diagram, and how it serves as the model for Spock's sacrifice that saves the ship, is that the good of the one is *still a component* of the good of the few, and the same for the few of the many. But sometimes what looks like "playing the martyr" to an outsider, or "masochism" (to use my therapist's term for it) misses the fact that it's not sacrifice for its own sake that is the pleasure, but logically aligning oneself with a kind of logical, group utilitarianism.
(Arguably you could see Spock's sacrifice as lessened since he was doomed along with the rest of the crew anyway, but his fight through the radiation in the reactor room entailed a radically painful death. )
In general, I think it's human and ok to add a bonus modifier in the "one" and "few" vs the "many" calculation when there's a conflict, but unlike the Ayn Randians I think that multiplier needs to be modest.
(Incidentally, I recently refreshed my memory of every episode in ST:TOS with the podcast Gimme That Star Trek's TOS Full Series Review - recommended)
next weeks finish line for the marathon this weeks viewing stand for the greek parade:
i'm gonna miss this shirt. For Old Navy it was a surprisingly authentic seeming Aloha shirt, with the vibrant print on the inside and the outside more muted. Like Kondo suggests I thank it for its service.
'Outlook not so good.' That magic 8-ball knows everything! I'll ask about Exchange Server next.
I did not forget your name, it's just that my ears are possessed by a name-eating goblin and any name that reaches my ears are devoured by the goblin before it can reach my brain.I feel like this is true-er than it sounds - at least for some people - my theory is people who are fast readers etc tend to kind of skim the world of information, and if the low level reader flag something as "not really pertinent", the detail doesn't make it up the stack of cognition - and too often people's names are of this category. (I think here, for me, "peterinence" is defined as "informs on how this thing interacts with the world, or how I interact with it". And a rose by any other name would interact as sweet, you know?)
A few weeks ago BABAM supported Summer Street Brass Band in helping out MASSCreative's Arts Advocacy Day....
April 9, 2019
One of the first 3 CDs I bought was Maynerd Ferguson's Chameleon - I think Jeff Shaffer introduced me to this astoundingly brash and funky cover of Herbie Hancock's classic in the late 80s or early 90s:
It's a popular song in HONK circles, and as far as I can tell it's the focused Ferguson version that is the more direct influence for street bands, rather than Hancock's synth-heavy jam.
(My band JP Honk has played it for a while, but one tricky bit, kind of a reverse arpeggio, was never quite as tight as it should be, so I slowed down the part by about a third...)
Anyway, in researching itm and finding some liner notes I found out it and the album was recorded the week after I was born.
Coincidence? There's no such thing.
Last December I bought myself a Christmas gift, a lovely 65" Samsung NU8000 television. (I miss my old projector, but given my space, this is the smallest size that still feels like a billboard, and Wirecutter likes the low-lag mode of these for videogames)
April 10, 2019
Overall its UI is pretty grand - much better than the older Samsung my mom has - all the apps are easy to get to and most are of good quality, and the shortcuts from the main screen generally make sense (and I'm not TOO worried about the data collection I'm sure this beast is running on me.) But the onscreen keyboard they use for some of their setup/config is THE #&$#(*$@& WORST, especially for entering a password.
It's kind of a standard "use the cursor up/down/left/right, select the letters via an onscreen keyboard" (laid out like a normal typing keyboard) that video game console owners have put up with for a decade BUT -- 8 letters or so into typing a minium-length-8-character password, say -- once you select a letter, the space immediately to the left of the character you just typed becomes a checkbox, a short cut to "I'm all done".... so if you're bopping along, trying to efficiently enter your password, and it starts with "ireallyreally" in it... you enter the r of second really, that's the eighth character - meaning you've meant the minimal wifi password length, so then when you go to move the cursor to the left, you're not over the "e", you're about to select the "I'm all done" checkbox.
And you hit the center of the button thinking you're on the e, and the thing thinks you're done, and takes away the screen to try out your (of course incomplete) password, and you have no idea what is going on, but you're on a totally different screen entirely, and you don't know what the hell happened, so then maybe you repeat this dance two or three times, because it's such #$#(*@ STUPID HALF-BAKED DUMB@#$#@ INCOMPETENCE in trying to make a "helpful" - yet fundamentally unpredictable -User Interface
A core of "Tao of Programming" is the "Law of Least Astonishment", i.e. a program should always do that which surprises the user least - and this is a FLAGRANT violation of that very simple principle.
Of course, even once the user has overcome the surprise of a barely-useful shortcut showing up where there wasn't one before, to REMOVE the "helpful" checkbox you simply go select another letter and the checkbox goes away- but it comes back, so for the rest of the text entry if the next letter you wish to type happens to be to the left of the one you just entered, you have to wiggle the cursor around to shake off the dang uselessly premature checkbox.
Programmers. They need to learn the difference between "can" and "should"
(Mercifully, the searches on the various apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime implement their own keyboards, free of this half-baked-crap.)
Yesterday was a weirdly bad, Mercury-in-retrograde technology kind of day - sometimes by fate, sometimes by design - dev servers that were oddly recalcitrant, gnarly technological problems from labyrinthine code bases, laptops needing rebooting, phones needing rebooting, earbuds needing rebooting... and a TV that dropped its wifi connection (set months ago) and wouldn't regain it (even after I successfully wrestled its idiosyncratically terrible UI "helpfulnes" I rant about above) and I had to resort to an ethernet cable.
It's the kind of day that makes me glad I don't need a pacemaker!
As I go through and groom old blog entries and see just how many broken links predominate, how the old geek vision that "urls can be forever" is almost completely unrealized, but sometimes I can use a search engine to find a replacement for a yanked Youtube video, I realize that one purpose of Google is weeding out the underbrush of fallen sites, if search wasn't a constantly renewed process and we relied on old archives we'd be choked in a forest of dead wood.
Things I came darn near to forgetting: once upon a time I had and enjoyed this LCD game:
Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It's courage that counts.
The other day they posted some of the first photos of the area around a black hole:
My first thought was, maybe the Mother Brain in Metroid was using mini-black-hole technology for defense...
What we have is a tangled mess of ad-hoc opinions, constantly sliding past each other in search of a position that favors itself the most, like a 5 gallon bucket of earthworms.
The rules for marriage are the same as for a lifeboat. No sudden moves, don't crowd the other person, and keep all disastrous thoughts to yourself.
Diligence is the mother of good fortune...cited in Leonard Nimoy's "I Am Spock", an exceedingly gracious book that I binge read last night. (Hm, is there a synonym for "binge"-watch or -read that isn't associated with eating disorders?) I wish it dealt a bit more with Spock's character and the general challenges of learning to control and utilize our emotions (which I'm increasingly thinking is our sole source of motive energy) and less about Nimoy's career, though it was a varied and thoughtful one.
April 13, 2019
--via this Quora where a former Soviet Propaganda executive points out how Russian Trump's us vs them mentality is.
On my devblog - really old web design
Your old man's gonna knock on the sky, listen to the sound.
My friend Erica suggested a diet for me - "Have a quasi-religious taboo against free food". Admittedly, this is only really relevant for people with jobs where free food is handy - like many dot com's ever-full snack kitchens.
April 15, 2019
Of course my place is in full on Google-wanna-be mode and provides free lunch, which I think explains at least part of the "Freshman 15" I put on there and still haven't lost.
And it's tough, that's like $8-12 a day easy, or a greater amount measured in food prep and thoughtfulness- I can afford it, sure. But between that and the giving up of snacks... oy.
Still, that's the whole dilemma of modern weight control. Most people reading this are living in food cornucopias of such abundance and variety that we would be seen as like unto gods by most of our ancestors. Even the ones that managed to arrange plenty for themselves would be impressed by the year round variety of super-flavors we have access to - to quote Matt Crowley:
We take it for granted today, but a single Dorito has more extreme nacho flavor than a peasant in the 1400s would get in his whole lifetime.When you combine that with zero cost (save for strolling over to the kitchen area and peering into a cupboard) - that means most folks attempts not to indulge will be a constant drain of willpower.) The "quasi-religious" aspect is an attempt to piggyback on other bits of human weirdness. Which, frankly, is one of the better parts of religion, when it provides a framework we can hang on to climb above our all-too-human natures.
Star Wars: Episode IV sound design explained by Ben Burtt:
Always satisfying to hear a friendly professional pull back the curtain on his craft. If you're in a hurry, the best part is the antepenultimate bit on Tie Fighters and elephants at 39:10, and then the "Sound People... or Worse" shtick to end it was amusing.
It's rather easy to forget how important soundscapes are to movies - until you try assembling your own videos by splicing shorter scenes (and of course in some ways the advent of "talkies" set the visual part of film construction back decades.) And I think he underplays how cool the radio voices (36:58) trick was - hearing the voice of the pilot currently shown "flat", then having that pilot continue to talk but the visual and audio switches to a different cockpit so the voice is distorted, is enormously effective, parallel to a deep focus change.
Also he mentions making frequent use of "worldizing", playing back constructed audio and then using recording of that, which adds a lot of acoustic life to it. To me it sounds similar to the echo chamber in Phil Spector / Larry Levin's "Wall of Sound" recording style.
The Starks are a family who chilled in their own segregated neighborhood, not bothering anybody. Ned was the father, and he had five kids. He was also raising his nephew Jon Snow. (His sister got knocked up by this crazy guy, and ... you know how we do.) Anyway, Ned let his homeboy convince him to take this "good job," let his daughter marry a white boy and moved his family into a white neighborhood. Ned fell for the trap, and the Lannister/Trumps cut his head off because Ned knew about the Russian collusion.
April 16, 2019
notre dame is burning.
this is ok.
it has happened before. it will happen again. it has been lost before. it will be lost again. and again. and again. and again. art and architecture are transient, and temporary, and 850 years may seem like a lot to the individual, who will live maybe 100 if they are very lucky and very healthy, but even the pyramids at saqqara have only existed for about 6000 years and that's still not all that much, if you consider the grand scheme of things.
yes, this is terrible. as someone who is deeply religious and literally a professional historian with a focus on art and architecture, this is terrible. im mourning. im gutted. im horrified and upset and miserable. but.
it's not over.
victor hugo wrote hunchback because notre dame du paris was in the process of collapsing and falling apart, and revitalized the entire world's focus and love for this church, and that was not even 200 years ago. it led to it being renovated.
the roof has fallen in. the scars of fires are on its buttresses. the rose window has fallen out. the beams and piers have collapsed. the spire has toppled. the stones have suffered, and will suffer again, but it is not gone.
renovation work is essential. sometimes things collapse and burn and break and have to come back. it's not a terrorist attack, it's renovation, an accident, but we have so much evidence, history, carefully documented everything on one of the most studied places in the world.
it's not the end.
Hey so, French person here. And also an ex History student. I'm here to say: Please listen to o.p. above.
Obviously everyone is shocked but here's a few important key facts:
The roof is completely gone. Part of it dated back from the 13th century but the rest was from the 19th. The stone arch roof under the top roof is fine.
One of the three main stained glass rose windows has fallen out. Most of the other stained glass windows are okay.
The spire has fallen down and that's the saddest part. BUT! It was in the process of being restored and the 16 statues that were there were removed just four days ago! So they're fine.
The main structure is still here and nothing has "burned down" unlike what some people have been saying.
The "treasure" (sacred objects) is safe.
Notre Dame is still there. It's just damaged. Almost nothing was lost today, and nobody was wounded either. It's scary, but it's gonna be okay.
The only thing that should follow "i'm not racist, but..." is "I do live in a system of institutionalized racism that I absorb & actively benefit from"
A cathedral calls us to consider time beyond the boundaries of one life, enclosing us in a grand view of what humanity can do that humans cannot.
A "billionaire" who hides his tax returns. A "genius" who hides his college grades. A"businessman" who bankrupted a casino. A "playboy" who pays for sex. A "Christian" who doesn't go to church. A "philanthropist" who defrauds charity. A "patriot" who dodged the draft.
If you look at the sort of Internet as a whole, or the whole computational ecosystem, particularly on the commercial side, an *enormous* part of the interesting computing we're doing is back to analog computing. We're computing with continuous functions, it's pulse-frequency-coded... Something like Facebook or Youtube doesn't care -- the file that somebody clicks on -- they don't care what the code is, the meaning is in the frequency that it's connected to, very much the same way a brain or a nervous system works. So if you look at these large companies, Facebook or Google or something - actually they are large analog computers. Digital is not *replaced*, but another layer is growing on top of it, the same way that after World War 2 we had all these analog vacuum tubes...
"AAAAAAAH! I could bring you to small claims court for this!"
"Small claims court costs thirty dollars. Do you have thirty dollars?"
"Of course! What do I look like?"
"Normcore Ted Kaczynski."
Semi-serious Kondo/Shinto question: when you thank something for its service and then discard it - what happens to it? Like, she talks of the unhappiness objects have when they're sitting, being unused and being clutter, but when you thank it to let it go, then what? Does it reflect a kind of animism that is basically a reflection of the human's life energy, and so when you move an object out, that spirit goes away? Or maybe the more nostalgic idea is that the object becomes inanimate and the spirit it held is free to go off? Or is that spirit just trapped in there, moldering away in some landfill?
He should resign because he has resolutely failed--and continues to fail--the most fundamental test of any president: to put his nation's interests first.
The least any American can expect of a president is that in a crisis he will readily put the welfare of the nation he leads ahead of his own well-being. In other contexts, that is the ultimate test of character. It separates the military leader or executive who accepts blame for failure from the one who tries to shuffle it elsewhere.
My friend and bandmate Sophie was looking for advice on reassembling a pile of cat, and I thought of this old Kliban's Cat:
April 21, 2019
Either my dad or I or both had this T-shirt when I was a kid, and we loved singing the little jingle:
(I think we usually sing it to that "I Eat My Peas With Honey" tune)