2019 June❮❮prevnext❯❯

May 2019 new music playlist

June 1, 2019
Huh. Plenty of new music, but not much that I really loved. 4 star stuff (all low 4s) in red:

June 2, 2019

spring 2019 one second everyday
Unrequited love is way underrated. It's kind of like smoking. Ultimately it's bad for you, especially in the long term. Both are bad for your health, make you "smell" worse to others, and cause you to pick up annoying repetitive habits, whether it's constantly wanting something in your mouth (smoking) or anxiously checking e-mail (unrequited love). But on the other hand, both have a certain glamour, give us something to do with ourselves, and have a huge deserved mystique and romantic history behind them. Smoking gets you outside where as otherwise you might stick yourself in the office all day, unrequited love gets you to write amusing bon mots where as otherwise you might write nothing but pedestrian e-mail.
Journal entry I made July 12 2000


I don't remember who gave me the idea, but I'm SO much happier now that I'm framing my task manager in terms of what benefit I'll get from doing things rather than having an endless list of tasks I "need" to do.

June 3, 2019

This is the real world, muchachos, and you are in it.
B. Traven from a 2008 loveblender piece, somehow the line has stuck with me but without the "muchachos"
Sometimes I wonder if the Mayans were right and that this quote is less true after December 2012 or so.
If you ever get a chance to work in mysterious ways I highly recommend it because you can get away with ANYTHING.

I really do appreciate how Trump's new hairstyle is doubling down on "Future Biff from Back to the Future 2"

Speaking of the Trump and the UK, I wonder if Boris Johnson was an inspiration? The whole "lets have a wacky bad blond hair situation that distracts people from what god-awful idiots we are"

June 4, 2019

What seems to have changed in our psyches was a great catastrophic event--probably related to climate change--that decimated our ranks about 135,000 years ago. At that time, the entire population of the subspecies that we now call human plummeted to just six hundred.
Leonard Mlodinow, "Elastic: Unlocking Your Brain's Ability to Embrace Change". Man that is a crazy scary number!

The creative adult is the child who has survived.
Prof. Julian F. Fleron (or at least not Ursula K. Le Guin (as it is cited in the book)... she resents the misattribution and considers the sentiment vapid, which kind of bums me out because I like it, for sometimes all too obvious reasons)

Everything matters, but nothing matters that much

June 5, 2019
A while back I wrote
One other line from "Fear of Flying" has stuck in my head, and that's Adrian saying "Courage is the first principle" as he cajoles Isadora into running away with him. [...] I think he might be citing Aristotle, actually, the quote sometimes given as "Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others."
This idea has been stuck in my mind today, and I was reading some summaries of the Aristotelian roots.

I have friends and loved ones afflicted with industrial grade anxiety, and it's so hard for them to deal with. And so often I have my own troubles with courage, this fear of proving less capable than I need myself to be resulting in a lack of productivity and a plethora of avoidance behaviors.

Some of the difficulty comes from the way we use emotions to think with. I'm not sure if it's even physically possible to spur ourselves into any action without some level of emotional energy - but we overdo it. It's so, so hard to find that space between "this doesn't matter, nothing matters, who cares" and "this is so important, if it doesn't go well things will be just awful - awful!"

My best suggestion is to try to encourage the stance of "Everything matters, but nothing matters that much".

(I acknowledge there's the "first world" vibe to this problem, privilege involved in having a place in the world that seems fundamentally comfortable and stable - but I also know every person tends to have a hedonistic setpoint, that people from a really wide variety of circumstances end up able to adapt and end up with a similar level of subjective contentment whatever their external circumstance.)
"We here at Weyland-Yutani Corporation would like to wish a happy Pride Month to all of our LGBT colonists on LV-426."
via
While looking up the design, I found this site: https://speculativeidentities.com/ - lovely deep dives into the typography and logo design of future companies.

I think most "time management problems" are really emotion management problems.
Matt McIrvin (on my FB post of this)

June 6, 2019

Robert Lambry's 1930s les animaux tels qu'ils sont is a terrific looking "how to draw animals book"
(via kottke)

It's interesting comparing Ed Emberley's stuff - Emberley is aimed a bit younger, or at least simpler, and showing kids (and timid grownups) that they have the basic skills they need to make basic cartoon-y stuff. Lambry's title ("Animals As They Are") gives a hint as to its ambitions - it reminds me of the studio drawing class I took, where I learned about starting with the most basics of line and curve and building around that.

And I guess I'll plug my Ed Emberley tribute animals.alienbill.com - 25 drawings that fly in from their component shapes and squiggles and become interactive puppets.

June 7, 2019

RIP Dr. John - got to see him live in 2015 w/ Liz...


I was at a fight when a hockey game broke out. In the stands.

Don't ever change, Boston.

No, wait, I mean: please change, Boston.

June 8, 2019

*writing résumé*
Strengths? I'm great at multitasking
*explosion in kitchen*
My popcorn!
*car crashes through fence*
I forgot I was driving!

An Oral (FNARR!) History of HBO's Real Sex. This show was in the news recently as a casualty of HBO deciding to remove its adult content, and that's unfortunate- it was such an enormously sex-positive show, and both the feature segments and the "people on the street" parts were fascinating. The two scenes I remember most were one scissors/blade enthusiast gal brightly saying "SKIZZORS!" and then the folks who had a full-on bacchanal with everyone in clown makeup and gear - that lingers in my mind as a golden standard of cheerful hedonistic enjoyment, and I wish I had more things in my life that I so blatantly delight in as much as they were enjoying their clownish time together.

via
The thee liquids for the Pride brass player: water, sunblock, valve oil

Emma Hunsinger's How to Draw a Horse. So, so, so, good.

June 9, 2019

NY Times on The Making of a Youtube Radical.

The algorithms that show you "Up Next" aren't politically biased by design, but in practice - yow.
"There's a spectrum on YouTube between the calm section -- the Walter Cronkite, Carl Sagan part -- and Crazytown, where the extreme stuff is," said Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google, YouTube's parent company. "If I'm YouTube and I want you to watch more, I'm always going to steer you toward Crazytown."
The story talks about how the algorithms at first focused on proximate content (i.e. videos with similar outlooks) but when they introduced the goals of getting people to stay on longer, started selecting towards pushing people to more engrossing stuff - and folks on the alt right figured out how to leverage this pattern.

Here's the most bullshit, weak-sauce, mathematically illiterate defense I've read this week:
In interviews, YouTube officials denied that the recommendation algorithm steered users to more extreme content. The company's internal testing, they said, has found just the opposite -- that users who watch one extreme video are, on average, recommended videos that reflect more moderate viewpoints.
LOL, I think they're arguing that regression to the mean somehow shows there isn't a trend. I mean come on - if someone lands on some of the most wackadoodle stuff, chances are, statistically, the recommendations will be somewhat less wackadoodle than that. Math is hard!

A slim silver lining is that the left is figuring this out as well, a "group [that] calls itself BreadTube, a reference to the left-wing anarchist Peter Kropotkin's 1892 book, 'The Conquest of Bread.'" Previously I enjoyed Contrapoints response to Jordan Peterson and the unlikelihood of the conflation of "Post-Modern Neo Marxism".

But yeah. These algorithms are god-awful. "You might also like" was sort of cool on Everything2, but it's too clear that rabbit holing can be utterly abused. (And while I'm at it, screw Netflix and autoplaying next. It's like a self-refilling glass for casual drinkers.)
An x-ray of a brown long-eared bat.

(Photo: Chris Thorn)

via


"I'll Fly Away" from the Second Line for Dr. John (spotted by Daniel in SoH)

Just so it's known - I'm no Dr. John but if I die any time soon I sure as hell want as much music as the Boston area folk I've played with this past half-decade or so can muster. Probably w/ a lot of School of Honk songs so everyone can join n.
LOL, so Marvel/Disney are being uptight about streaming rental of Captain Marvel (gotta get that new gawd forsaken DisneyPlus mojo working I guess, grrrrrrrr) - maybe it'll be time to go to frickin' Red Box physical media for a while til they get this shit settled or I succumb to the Mickey Christ and subscribe or steal a subscription.

June 10, 2019

*event happens* but how does this affect Me, the Protagonist of Reality

June 11, 2019

Gonna go see The Man Who Killed Don Quixote tomorrow!

when I find myself in times of trouble mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom "log off"

I wasn't quite happy with any of the free Invoice generators out there so I hacked together my own.
So astonishing that the film The Matrix is 20 years old. Still feels fresh. Here's the best analysis of it I recall seeing:

June 12, 2019

Pressley: How many extremist murders has the FBI linked to Black Lives Matter or similar black activist groups?

McGarrity: We don't work Black Lives Matter it's a movement. It's an ideology. We don't work that.

Pressley: So the answer is none. Can you just say that for the record? There has been no killing that the FBI can link to black Lives Matter or similar black activist groups, to your knowledge.

McGarrity: To my knowledge--I'd have to go back--but to my knowledge, right now, no.

June 13, 2019

Things are not what they seem; nor are they otherwise.
Shurangama Sutra

Play all the Steely Dan albums in release order.
Diane's Turing Test for voice-activated music playback software. It's not quite "consciousness", but when the automated assistant can do the right thing based on that query, we know we are doing with somewhat more clever things!
Sometimes I'm not sure if our grammar processors are as sophisticated as Infocom parsers on old text adventures. I could tell the turtle in "Enchanter" 'turtle, go se then get the scroll then go nw.' and the turtle would do that.
G is for gin! T is for tonic! Our six titties are supersonic! We don't mind men - We don't like fuss. We're the Glee team - Come and get us !
The Glee Team chant from "My Dad Wrote a Porno" (I'm clearing out some backlog 'todo' items here...)

Band Life Hack - having trouble keeping your group together and tight on the descending line in a cover of Herbie Hancock's Chameleon (like around 0:55 of that one?) Try the mnemonic "HERbie / Hancock / CuriOsity is good...."

June 14, 2019

From the cries of Sinn Fein to the whines of Jackie Mason, everybody's got an agenda and everyone thinks he or she is right. Trying to change someone's mind usually becomes an exercise in futility, so it is your job to pretend to care. Offer some tepid advice and move on. Cultivate the Switzerland of your soul and remain delightfully detached.
Janeane Garofalo, "Feel This Book" (co-authored with Ben Stiller in 1999). That final line has been buzzing around my head lately - the usual caveats of there being some privilege in it, and that some struggles ARE worth pursuing - but you gotta pick your battles, or maybe more importantly - pick your battlefields.

ThinkGeek kinda going away...
Oh, that's kind of a bummer! They had a nicely curated bunch of geeky stuff....
People who like Hawaiian Pizza - would you also enjoy, say, a banana slathered with mayo? 'Cause to us that's the same energy, right there, more or less.

June 15, 2019

enamored of equality

June 16, 2019
On FB a friend, one I respect greatly despite, or because of, long term political and artistic differences, but usually handled collegially, posted
Americans are so enamored of equality that they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom
Alexis de Tocqueville
My response was this:
So, this is half true in the way Tocqueville probably means, but the other half is - man, that is just basic human psychology. People would rather be the slightly richer person in their poor peer group than the poorest of a somewhat more well-off cohort. I think it's because, when everyone is poor, it feels like that is just the way the world is, you know? Everyone is in more or less the same boat, but maybe you did better or worse than your shmuck neighbors - that's where the competition is, always local. If everyone were "equal in slavery", then freedom would be largely unknown and almost unimaginable.

Personally the american level-seeking characteristic I'm more concerned with these days is smarts; some Americans are so convinced of their own truthy gut intuition that they refuse to recognize that smarts and expertise actually exists; that some problems take a lot of study and though - sometimes pursuing their own specialized glossary or vocabulary so that to the outsider, it's almost impossible to tell if it's just some weird, out of touch intellectual circle jerk or more hard won esoteric knowledge. This point is why I was rather disdainful of that Intellectual Yet Idiot post you linked to here.
My favorite image from a remarkable The Public Domain Review page, X is for - what did alphabet books do before X-Rays and Xylophones were in the zeitgeist?

(The site has the full content of Charles H. Bennett's 1855 Beasts, birds and fishes : an alphabet for boys & girls - the n-word makes an unfortunate appearance as a music descriptor, only somewhat mitigated by isolating it in quote marks.)

head-like a-hole

June 17, 2019
A recent Netflix "Black Mirror" has what many Gen X/Millennial types will find blasphemous: "Ashely O" (Miley Cyrus) doing a retooled, relyricked bubble-gum pop cover of "Head Like a Hole":

I was delighted they released the MP3 for this (as with other NIN covers that lighten things up, it reveals that Reznor is a crazy good tunesmith.) I also delighted in planning to subject Melissa to it in the car...

She was frustrated because she couldn't think of a good revenge song for me. And I admit it's a tough road! I like many things musically (anything that I don't find boring in terms of bass and rhythm floors) and I don't hold much sacred... even, say, a country western version of my most sacred song "Groove Is In The Heart" might be kind of fun!

"NIN" was definitely a teenage expression/rebellion piece for many folk. I guess the nearest thing I had to that was Beastie Boys "License to Ill". (I remember my mom asking if something was wrong when she saw I destroyed the tape during a bout of spiritual repentance.)

Anyway, did you have a "teen rebellion" song or album or genre? What was it?
I also loved that they released this shirt:

Anyone else seeing an extra amount of spam slipping through Gmail's filters today? (And being labeled 'important', is the goading thing for me)

apocalypse whenever

June 18, 2019
Been thinking a bit about Revelation. Saturday I was discussing my takeaway from Elaine Pagels' book about it, which is the irony that even though it is so revered by so many (Gentile, not particularly semitic) Christians today, it spends its first part taking a strong stance for a partisan "Christianity needs to be seen as an outgrowth of Judaism" view (vs "Gentiles are the bestest Christians") but that part is usually glossed over by most readers, who are generally looking for the future juicy, scary and vengeful stuff. (Actually, "readers" isn't the right term. As a preteen I got through one of those "read the whole Bible in a year!" plans, but I think that level of reading is uncommon in most churches these days - many churchgoers seem content with the little cherry picked excerpts you get in service. Which, if true (and I shouldn't speak too broadly, I'm sure there are plenty of exceptions) is kind of a return to the old "Mystery" days where the actual texts were reserved for the learned few...)

An early 1980s Sunday School class about the subject, including an illustration of a Christian in front of a firing squad along with other terrors to come, left me with an indelible association of Christianity with future horrors, especially if you don't act right (all the Jesus acceptance and born-again-ness) and even if you do. Which then fed into a disdain I still carry for "pre-tribs", folks who think the Christians get swept away to their eternal happiness before all the shit goes down, because God must love us too much to let that happen to US, right? (I have bitterness when pop-religion seems to sugarcoat the source material - the way a "Grampas looking down from us in Heaven right now, Timmy" view seems more grounded in consoling hopefulness than the actual scriptures - my church's 11th and final doctrine was "We believe in the immortality of the soul; in the resurrection of the body; in the general judgment at the end of the world; in the eternal happiness of the righteous; and in the endless punishment of the wicked." I realized that that view of a bodily resurrection and a judgement at the END of the things is more caught in "Man of Constant Sorrow"'s final verse ("as I lay sleeping in my grave") than most of the songs I had been singing in Sunday School... and so I'm both envious of and sometimes a little disdainful of folks who have a softer, gentler form of Christianity, even as I realize I can't be sure their view is less reliable than mine harsh one - it's certainly more pragmatic and psychologically sound, whether or not it feels like wishful thinking to me.)

A few years ago I ran into the idea of Preterism, the idea that the stuff in Revelation happened along with the destruction of the Temple in 70CE. (Heh - compare that to the tongue-in-cheek pop-culture idea that Mayans were right, time ended in 2012 and now we're just watching things fall apart.) Anyway, I wish I had a better feel for this view, I can't read the fantastical and completely apocalyptic imagery outside of the lens of a "guide to future events" that has stoked both way too much of my childhood fears and informed too much of our foreign policy in the Middle East...

Man, this ramble got longer than I expected when I found an old blog note on "Preterism". I'll leave you with a reference to APOCAMON - the first few pages are rough, implying sexual abuse of John of Patmos by Roman soldiers, but then gets into a fascinatingly literal illustration of the warring angelic and demonic forces of the final battle.

OK, finally finally, I remember this quote:
Pick up a reggae album at random. Any reggae album. Listen to it and you will find a far more accurate, reliable and theologically sound exegesis of the meaning of Babylon than you will ever get from Tim LaHaye or any other so-called 'prophecy expert.'

your one wild and precious life

June 19, 2019
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Mary Oliver, "The Summer Day"

I must obey the inscrutable exhortations of my soul.

June 20, 2019
"Whatcha doin'?"
"Looking for frogs."
"How come?"
"I must obey the inscrutable exhortations of my soul."
"Ah. But of course."
"My mandate also includes weird bugs."

Bloomberg: Boston Built a New Waterfront Just in Time for the Apocalypse Sometimes Boston is so crazily haphazard in its urban planning. I feel we try to coast (no pun intended) a lot with ambient smartness from the universities but we don't actually always do a lot of thinking.
Around 20 years ago (spring of 1999) the word "blog" was coined. Odd to realize that I've been blogging - daily - for over 18 years of that.
Yeah, Burger King sounds cool and all until you say the words Hotdog Emperor

Actually, it's only existentialism if it comes from the existentialism region of France. Otherwise, it's just sparkling anxiety.

June 21, 2019

It's been my experience that almost everything easy to mock turns out to be interesting if you pay closer attention.
John Green, in The Anthropocene Reviewed podcast on The Indy 500 - I recommend the series, it's appealing in a Nicholson Baker / Donald A. Normal kind of way, a thoughtful, medium-deep dive into mundane things.
Green's quote echoes one of my oldest theories, a "Theory of Multiple Intelligences for Objects" - that nearly everything extant is good at SOMETHING. Great things are good at many things.

Snobs can sniff at objects that are only good at things they don't find worthwhile, but still, it's either empathy-lacking arrogance or foolishness that causes the whole "if it's popular, it must suck" mentality, which goes hand in hand with Green's "easy to mock" concept.
Nothing remains, but nothing is lost...

source
Taken at face value, Trump's decision to halt a strike against Iran because 150 likely deaths on the Iranian side for 1 drone wouldn't be a good balance is a small spark of light.

longest day of the year, how did that happen

June 22, 2019
JP Honk celebrating the solstice at JP Pond...




quotes from "Possible Minds: Twenty-Five Ways of Looking at AI"

June 23, 2019
"Possible Minds: Twenty-Five Ways of Looking at AI" is a collection of modern responses to Norbert Wiener's 1948 seminal work "Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine" (Either this book was more of a slog than some, or I'm not dedicating enough time to reading, or I'm getting slow in my middle age :-D) Here are some quotes I found thought provoking:
The philosopher Stephen Toulmin identified the transparency-versus-opacity contrast as the key to understanding the ancient rivalry between Greek and Babylonian sciences. According to Toulmin, the Babylonian astronomers were masters of black-box predictions, far surpassing their Greek rivals in accuracy and consistency of celestial observations. Yet science favored the creative-speculative strategy of the Greek astronomers, which was wild with metaphorical imagery: circular tubes full of fire, small holes through which celestial fire was visible as stars, and hemispherical Earth riding on turtleback. It was this wild modeling strategy, not Babylonian extrapolation, that jolted Eratosthenes (276–194 BC) to perform one of the most creative experiments in the ancient world and calculate the circumference of the Earth. Such an experiment would never have occurred to a Babylonian data fitter.
Judea Pearl, "The Limitations of Opaque Learning Machines"
The defining characteristic of a complex system is that it constitutes its own simplest behavioral description. The simplest complete model of an organism is the organism itself.
George Dyson, "The Third Law"
We should all make it a regular practice to reread books from our youth, where we are apt to discover clear previews of some of our own later "discoveries" and "inventions," along with a wealth of insights to which we were bound to be impervious until our minds had been torn and tattered, exercised and enlarged, by confrontations with life's problems.
Daniel C. Dennett, "What Can We Do?"
In the long run, there is no distinction between arming ourselves and arming our enemies.
Norbert Wiener, quoted in Daniel C. Dennett, "What Can We Do?"
In a moving passage from his 1935 novel Odd John, science fiction's singular genius Olaf Stapledon has his hero, a superhuman (mutant) intelligence, describe Homo sapiens as "the Archaeopteryx of the spirit." He says this fondly to his friend and biographer, who is a normal human. Archaeopteryx was a noble creature, and a bridge to greater ones.
Frank Wilczek, "The Unity of Intelligence"
A former colleague of mine, Gérard Bricogne, used to joke that carbon-based intelligence was simply a catalyst for the evolution of silicon-based intelligence.
Venki Ramakrishnan, "Will Computers Become Our Overlords"
But if we step back and look at life on Earth, we see that we are far from the most resilient species. If we're going to be taken over at some point, it will be by some of Earth's oldest life-forms, like bacteria, which can live anywhere from Antarctica to deep-sea thermal vents hotter than boiling water, or in acid environments that would melt you and me. So when people ask where we're headed, we need to put the question in a broader context. I don't know what sort of future AI will bring: whether AI will make humans subservient or obsolete or will be a useful and welcome enhancement of our abilities that will enrich our lives. But I am reasonably certain that computers will never be the overlords of bacteria.
Venki Ramakrishnan, "Will Computers Become Our Overlords"
A common test I have for U.S. citizens is this: Do you know anybody who owns a pickup truck? It's the number-one-selling vehicle in the United States, and if you don't know people like that, you're out of touch with more than 50 percent of Americans.
Alex "Sandy" Pentland, "The Human Strategy"

what's up inner dog?

June 24, 2019
Studies show placebos are twice as effective as they were 25 years ago. What does this mean?? People have higher expectations from drugs I guess? It really, really makes you wonder what it means, and how we can take advantage of it.

I'm thinking too of the Eureka effect and the anecdote about Poincare having an important mathematical truth revealed to his conscious mind as he stepped onto a bus. (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance talks about that) So just like Placebos get some parts of our brains to heal us our subconscious minds can solve difficult problems...

(At least, I think it's our brains healing us - I mean a lot of medical problems get cleared up by our bodies on their own, but I wouldn't expect the "just leave it alone" solution to get so much better over 25 years - unless we thought people were living that much more healthily, I guess?)

So the subconscious is this weird dark thing! There are so many ways of looking at it- I'm not sure if they're all talking about the same phenomenon, or if it's the same in all people, but man! I know historically my conscious, narrating brain takes credit for being "the real me" - and so much so that this subconscious self seems like an "other" - an inner child, or some wild id, or the elephant in the "elephant and the rider" metaphor - and maybe it has to do with lobes, at least sometimes? That it's our non-verbal lobe... Split-brain studies are so wild - our physical brains have the capacity to be two almost completely functional people! What is going with that? And how can we best leverage the situation?

More and more my other self feels less like an inner child and more like a loyal and clever but poorly trained dog... in particular a dog always on the lookout for snacks, at least when I'm in the kitchen at work... the emotional tricks this pup plays to get treats that the analytical brain knows I could easily do without. (heh, googling I find some signs of therapy that looks to inner dogs instead of inner children )

So step one was realizing my "inner voice", the part that talks and can use language, wasn't quite the same as "me". And the obvious answer to that was to think of myself holistically - either as one thing with two sides, or at least as two subentities, co-equal in authenticity and dignity.

But maybe that was a mistake? Maybe step two should be leaning into my rational self as the realest me? Trying to think through the implications of that - I (my narrative self, that is) is forever adverse to taking authority - I don't want to enforce my judgements over others because I might be wrong, and it's deeply important to me to be in line with the "objectively true" universe (at least one ex realized this would mean I'd be a good buddy-dad but maybe not a great father, and I think they had a point.) But maybe this is one of those cases where the speaking, rational self needs to step up, and take authority.

But - if the unconscious me is almost a separate entity, and I treat it as such, I worry about the effects of it coming to resent the conscious me! It's tough to confirm the trust and loyalty of my inner-pup, it lacks the tail-wagging body language of real dogs....

Damn.

You know, all my life I've lived with cats, and I like 'em, but that lifestyle was chosen for me, not by me. Sometimes I think it would have been good for me to have grown up with dogs a bit more. I'm not sure which is closer to my spirit-animal; I mean I really see something of my need for space to pursue my own projects in cats aloofness, but also I think I have that goofy loyalty and need for feedback I associate with dogs. (yes, I know cat owners can point out the cuddly loyalty of cats, but I'm speaking in broad stereotypes here.)

Thinking more about the idea that it would be a big mistake to label the unconscious / subconscious as a single thing - I just remembered the single part of my unconscious mind that has most allowed me to punch above my weight, intellect-wise - my "get the gist", skimming subsystems, the ones that allow my eyes to merely dart over a paragraph and do a pretty damn reliable job telling me what's important in there, summarizing the feel of the interactions and directing me to go back to bits that didn't quite register. (And of course the partner subconscious systems that apparently piggyback on my vocalization systems to type -- thus all the horrible spelling (especially for vowels) and the strange typos like "by" for "my").

I have to assume these systems are distinct from the part of my brain that drive me to the chocolate covered pretzels in the kitchen at work. But it's so dark in that skull it's hard to be certain...

Modern web development pic.twitter.com/p84IVkC2aQ

— Jared Palmer (@jaredpalmer) June 23, 2019

An even better version
When life gives you hurdles, trip over those hurdles. Let your legs become tangled in a series of hurdles that you drag behind you. Crawl with your giant collection of hurdles towards more distant hurdles

June 25, 2019

I think of this treat from 2008 every time I walk out of water in a clingy bathing suit. (CONTENT WARNING: not for people who are offended by the phrase "man tits" which pretty much starts the song.)

I really like this approach to Theodicy (why God permits evil):

via

June 26, 2019

Breakdancing coming to the Olympics! Man, just watch the video on that page. I'm probably not the best watcher of top tier other forms of dancing or gymnastics, but nothing impresses me like this ... it's just inhuman, yet still cool...

Here is one of my favorite b-boy/breakdance bits from way back when:

June 27, 2019

Fuck Gerrymandering. There is nothing that challenges our democratic principle of one person : one vote, nothing that amplifies the extra-Constitutional bullshit of political parties in the first place, then this horrific numbers game bullshit. The conservative 5-4 majority in the Supreme Court is neglecting any principle of defending justice and fairness in washing its hands of it. (And computer number-crunching can make it worse).

We desperately need non-partisan groups to draw up districts. It should be bleedin' obvious that we should not have politicians setting the bounds for their own elections.
Johnny Cash, you're just like a thorn tree in a whirlwind.
Queen of England in a dream had by Johnny Cash

Wow, Jony Ive is out at Apple I agree with Gruber that, that while Ive has a singular vision, to the extent that he was responsible for thinner at all costs including this keyboard mess, it's good to move past that. The other thing is how I never would have guessed that the "we will still partner together" spin is such empty horseshit, if Gruber's analysis is right.
nice seeing fireworks from your third floor window!


the washington post suggest a book for all ages

June 28, 2019
Even though I'm wary of "bucket lists" for my entire life, for some reason those scratch-off movie posters and lists like WaPo's Books for the Ages: The best books to read at every age, from 1 to 100 are tempting. This is the list, minus explanation why and well-chosen photo:
Age 1
“The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle
Age 2
“Llama Llama Red Pajama” by Anna Dewdney
Age 3
“Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak
Age 4
“Charlie Parker Played Be Bop” by Chris Raschka
Age 5
“The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein
Age 6
“Ramona the Pest” by Beverly Cleary, illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers
Age 7
“The Complete Calvin and Hobbes” by Bill Watterson
Age 8
“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling
Age 9
“Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” by Judy Blume
Age 10
“Smile” by Raina Telgemeier
Age 11
“Ghost” by Jason Reynolds
Age 12
“Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” by Mildred D. Taylor
Age 13
“I Am Malala” by Malala Yousafzai
Age 14
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky
Age 15
“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas
Age 16
“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë
Age 17
“Once Upon a River” by Bonnie Jo Campbell
Age 18
“A Gate at the Stairs” by Lorrie Moore
Age 19
“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood
Age 20
“The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Díaz
Age 21
“The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway
Age 22
“Democracy in America” by Alexis de Tocqueville
Age 23
“The Autobiography of Malcolm X” by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
Age 24
“Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand
Age 25
“I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith
Age 26
“Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Age 27
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey
Age 28
“Sister Outsider” by Audre Lorde
Age 29
“In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan
Age 30
“The Joy of Sex” by Alex Comfort
Age 31
“Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck
Age 32
“The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck
Age 33
“Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story” by Paul Monette
Age 34
“Beloved” by Toni Morrison
Age 35
“How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
Age 36
“Life Among the Savages” by Shirley Jackson
Age 37
“The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan
Age 38
“The Sportswriter” Richard Ford
Age 39
“What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty
Age 40
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” by Jean-Dominique Bauby
Age 41
“Rabbit, Run” by John Updike
Age 42
“The Woman Upstairs” by Claire Messud
Age 43
“Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston
Age 44
“The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt
Age 45
“Where’d You Go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple
Age 46
“Salvage the Bones” by Jesmyn Ward
Age 47
“Stretching” by Bob Anderson
Age 48
“Bossypants” by Tina Fey
Age 49
“Walden” by Henry David Thoreau
Age 50
“Fifty Shades of Grey” by EL James
Age 51
“Who Do You Think You Are?” by Alice Munro
Age 52
“Men Without Women” by Haruki Murakami
Age 53
“A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman
Age 54
“The Denial of Death” by Ernest Becker
Age 55
“Olive Kitteridge” by Elizabeth Strout
Age 56
“When Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chödrön
Age 57
“Remains of the Day” by Kazuo Ishiguro
Age 58
“The Plague of Doves” by Louise Erdrich
Age 59
“Dynamic Aging” by Katy Bowman
Age 60
“The Five Years Before You Retire” by Emily Guy Birken
Age 61
“Fear of Dying” by Erica Jong
Age 62
“Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson
Age 63
“Our Souls at Night” by Kent Haruf
Age 64
“Old in Art School” by Nell Painter
Age 65
“65 Things to Do When You Retire” edited by Mark Evan Chimsky
Age 66
The “Outlander” series by Diana Gabaldon
Age 67
“Don Quixote” by Miguel de Cervantes
Age 68
“The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion
Age 69
“I Remember Nothing” by Nora Ephron
Age 70
“Master Class: Living Longer, Stronger, and Happier” by Peter Spiers
Age 71
“Midnight’s Children” by Salman Rushdie
Age 72
“Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel García Márquez
Age 73
“The Years of Lyndon Johnson” four volumes, by Robert Caro
Age 74
“Paris in the Present Tense” by Mark Helprin
Age 75
“The History of Love” by Nicole Krauss
Age 76
“Women Rowing North” by Mary Pipher
Age 77
“Gilead” by Marilynne Robinson
Age 78
“Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White
Age 79
“The Coming of Age” by Simone de Beauvoir
Age 80
“Coming Into Eighty: Poems” by May Sarton
Age 81
“Devotions” by Mary Oliver
Age 82
“The Summer of a Dormouse” by John Mortimer
Age 83
All the thrillers and mysteries
Age 84
“The Last Unknowns” edited by John Brockman
Age 85
“Ravelstein” by Saul Bellow
Age 86
“Old Filth” by Jane Gardam
Age 87
“King Lear” by William Shakespeare
Age 88
“Nearing Ninety: And Other Comedies of Late Life” by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Laura Gibson
Age 89
“A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing 90” by Donald Hall
Age 90
“Beachcombing for a Shipwrecked God” by Joe Coomer
Age 91
“Selected Poems: 1988-2013” by Seamus Heaney
Age 92
“Nothing to be Frightened Of” by Julian Barnes
Age 93
“Sapiens” by Yuval Harari
Age 94
“This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism” by Ashton Applewhite
Age 95
The Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante
Age 96
“Somewhere Towards the End” by Diana Athill
Age 97
“My Own Two Feet” by Beverly Cleary
Age 98
“Life Is So Good” by George Dawson and Richard Glaubman
Age 99
“Little Boy” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Age 100
“Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year-Old Author” by Herman Wouk

Live Action References for Disney's Little Mermaid:


Phew- watching the show "Abandoned", episode on Ghost Malls, starting with Randall Park mall.... sigh. (though it's like they got their a bit late after demolition was underway so not many interior shots)
and now euclid square mall, dang. though that felt a bit less vibrant even back in 1990.
weird show. skaters, store front churches, and paranormal investigators.
I knew there was a lot to respect in Sikh culture, but was unaware of their increasing presence in the trucking industry.

pool, pug puppy, and ponies

June 29, 2019




from Lynne Murphy's "The Prodigal Tongue"

June 30, 2019
How long is a piece of string?
British idiom I hadn't heard of, but like immensely. It reminds me a bit of my Nana's answer to her daughters' incessant "Why?"s - "Why is a cow?"
This "outlandish" (a good Anglo-Saxon word for 'foreign') vocabulary
I do love when a word's origins are revealed to have been hiding in plain site - I had never thought of "outlandish" as out-land-ish! Or like how a "secretary" keeps secrets...
It's a game of inches: 'progress towards a goal comes in small increments'
This was the one entry from a list of explicated sport metaphors where I wasn't sure I agreed - progress in American football is often made in great bounds, exciting, yard-consuming catches and runs - but the final result is then measured painstakingly, and the difference in success and failure can be a heartbreakingly small amount.
English isn't arithmetic , but many people want it to have clear rules like 2 + 2 = 4 . Rules themselves are not a problem. The problems come when so - called grammar fans conclude that if one rule is right , then anything else is illogical. That's just not a logical way of thinking . It's like saying that if 1 + 4 = 5 , then 1 + 1 + 3 cannot also equal 5. Nevertheless if there are two ways to spell a word or construct a sentence, then people will conclude that one way must be the better way [...] So if someone tells you that a word cannot mean X because it already means Y or that we should all stop saying Z because it is logically inconsistent, just say to yourself: here is a person who doesn't have a very good sense of how English works. If you want to entertain yourself, you can point out the inconsistencies of their argument. If you want an easy life, you can just ignore them--up to a point. If you see that person spinning their illogical yarns in front of a classroom or a government education department, you have a moral duty to step in.
Lynne Murphy.
(Actually these two paragraphs are 30 pages apart.)
For Wagner, as for most speakers of British English, a frown is an expression of displeasure that involves contracting the brow. But for me, and many speakers of American English, frowning involves turning down the corners of the mouth to indicate unhappiness, and more particularly sadness. That meaning is a 20th-century invention, and most American dictionaries have not yet noticed it. Some (mostly older) Americans still have the 'brow'-only meaning. But the new meaning is widespread, and more American than British, as our emoji names show. The ☹ is most commonly called sadface in British English, whereas it's frown or frowny face in many American contexts--including the standards document for Unicode, the international (but Americentric) body that approves new computer symbols.
I remember discovering the "frown = brows" thing playing Pictionary (in English) with some German friends...
A wise American reporter based in London once told me that every British news story is, deep down, about class. Every American story, he said, is about race.
Simon Hoggart

A 1642 Massachusetts law saw illiteracy as child abuse. Parents could lose custody of their children if they were not taught to read. By the end of that century, most of the northern colonies had similar laws. By 1800 the United States had the highest literacy rate in the world. "Nearly every child, even those of beggars and blacks in considerable numbers, can read, write, and keep accounts," reported the president of Yale College in 1823. This was less true in the South, where several colonies, starting in the mid-1700s, had made it a crime to teach slaves to write. But until the decades just before the Civil War, it was no crime to teach enslaved people to read. Writing could be a tool for rebellion, but reading was a spiritual necessity.
I wasn't aware or had forgotten that you can read without knowing how to write. I wonder if that's like being able to understand a foreign language a bit, but not speak it well.

Murphy also talks about diagramming sentences - a pursuit much more popular in the USA, according to Murphy. You would think a literate and lego-loving nerd like me would love diagramming sentences, but I hated it. I remember writing bitter complaints about how having to crucify these poor sentences. In hindsight, I guess it felt like I was just painstakingly giving arbitrary symbols to things without gaining new insight into how the parts interacted...


I found an old blog post mentioning "Too Close for Comfort", a sitcom name I was trying to remember. "Too Close for Comfort" is a kind of early prototypical early-80s sitcom that I don't think many people remember very well, a post-Mary Tyler Show vehicle for Ted Knight. I mostly remember a character (probably his) was talking about his comic character "Cosmic Cow" and how the secret was being able to draw an inoffensive udder... I think about that whenever I see a cartoon cow, especially one walking upright.



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