2019 August❮❮prevnext❯❯

rabbit rabbit rabbit

I've been starting off months with "rabbit rabbit rabbit" for a while, though the other day for the first time I learned about "i hate rabbits" as something to say when you're sitting around a smokey fire and the smoke starts blowing towards you...
Arguing with a friend about Trans rights, I sought out this half-remembered passage, from AI research Marvin Minsky:
It's not so bad to start with "Birds can fly." and later change it into "birds can fly, unless they are penguins or ostriches". But if you continue to seek perfection, your rules will turn into monstrosities:

Birds can fly, unless they are penguins or ostriches, or if they happen to be dead, or have broken wings, or are confined to cages, or have their feet stuck in cement, or have undergone experiences so dreadful, as to render them incapable of flight.

Unless we treat exceptions separately, they'll wreck all the generalizations we may try to make.

We almost never find rules that have no exceptions- except in certain special artificial worlds that we ourselves create by making up their rules and regulations to begin with. Artificial realms like mathematics and theology are built from the start to be devoid of interesting inconsistency. But we must be careful not to mistake our own inventions for natural phenomena we have discovered. To insist on perfect laws in real life is to risk not finding any laws at all.
The fight against Trans rights, the fight against taking their word for who folks are heart and soul in favor of easy definitions based on what's in their pants, yearns to make the kind of simplifications Minsky is warning us against.

july 2019 new music playlist - new format!

So, I know 3 people who claim to be a little interested in the "new music playlists" I posts, and Diane specifically mentioned she likes knowing more about the history. I used that smidgin of interest to justify a whole lot of codin'... (in fact I made a somewhat modernized version of the old database programs I use for so much of my personal information.)

So here's the result, feedback welcome. It's the song name, a possible link to a video, artist name, a brief description, and then where I ran into it, and then stars for 4 and 5 star things...

Philosophers East vs West
Epic Rap Battles of History
One of the more well-researched and clever ERBs.
ERB's new season made me hunt for an old favorite.

Sexy Nation Army
Powerful little mashup.
References on tumblr
Three Little Birds (Stephen Marley & Jason Bentley Remix)
Bob Marley & The Wailers
Nice remix. I tried to make some lyrics more true to my philosophy, with mixed results...
The original was playing at a Panera.

Old Town Road (feat. Billy Ray Cyrus) [Remix]
Lil Nas X
I kind of think "Big + Rich" did the whole cowboy/hiphop thing better, but still good.
Once NasX said "deadass thought i made it obvious… " at the end of pride I wanted to grab this one...

Soul Thing
Tony Newman
Nice R+B Funk
Dave B introduced this as a possibility for JP Honk.
Eight Foot Two, Solid Blue, Has Anybody Seen My Martian Gal
Allan Sherman
Cornball joke song, I like the 1950s hightech aspect of it tho
A band in the Ocean Grove NJ 4th Parade were playing the original of this, and I thought of this version from my childhood.
Dennis Lloyd
Nice pop.
Had Some Drinks
Two Feet
Good slow grind.
Something on tumblr?
Carry That Weight
The Beatles
Classic Beatles (I've had a blind spot for some of their later albums)
Saw the Navy Band Cruisers OGNJ - a bit propagandish but not bad R+B. This was in a medley.
twenty one pilots
ok if weirdly juvenile-vibe hiphop.
This sarcastictonystark tumblr entry...
La Tortura (feat. Alejandro Sanz)
Spanish pop
this tumblr post about her athleticism - scooching across the floor just using torso and butt muscles is pretty amazing!

Indomitable (feat. Northern Cree Singers)
DJ Shub
I always dig mixups of modern western music with classic First People's stuff- this is the first I've heard that has the traditional singing style with some English lyrics ("throw your hands in the air...")
"Tribe Called Red" announced a new song which I wasn't as crazy about, but it got me searching around and finding this.
Taste of the Good Times
Will Beeley
Lowkey country, and authentic by a guy who truckered for years...
Some public radio had a piece on him.
Stand Up Tall
Dizzee Rascal
UK Hiphop
Bassline Junkie was a recommendation off of one of my all time favorites Golddust but I couldn't find a download for it in the US, found this instead by the same arist.
Astral Weeks
Van Morrison
Gentle music... I remember hearing how someone played it the morning after a first night together, and the couple was married for years and years after...
Some novel mentioned this, maybe the Sally Rooney I was reading...
The Biggest Ball of Twine In Minnesota
"Weird Al" Yankovic
Heard this epic song live in Boston!
99% Invisible podcast talked about the biggest twine balls, and played this song which I hadn't heard for years.
Supper Mario Broth
All 5 tracks of Luigi humming or whistling the Luigi's Mansion theme at various levels of scardness, all at once...
this Supper Mario Broth linked to this.

True Affection
The Blow
Art pop.
I really liked their live train station a capella version of how naked are we gonna get and figured they had other songs I'd probably like
Everybody Eats When They Come to My House
Cab Calloway and His Orchestra
Interesting rhyming game song - kind of like a prototype for "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover"....
The Judge John Hodgman podcast mentioned the lyrics.

Katie Herzig
I remember the root of this song from my childhood
Most interesting version I could find on iTunes...
Fué en un Café
Los Apson
The classic spanish cover of "Under the Boardwalk"
Torito Pinto plays this song...

Boy Meets Girl
The Exploding Voids
Pop from Germany... I think with authentic, personal footage from a USA roadtrip
I might be this band's biggest American fan, because of my deep adoration of As It Comes (one of my top 3 ever songs).

Man, my muttonchops are going gray - but the gray is taking its timing moving forward, so I'm worried I'm going to look like I'm making a goatee which was never my intention. By the way full endorsement of short beard as an excellent compromise of laziness and not looking like an unkempt beast.

Rats have a "random mode" they gets activated in certain unfamiliar situations - they stop trying to make best guesses based on past experience. They think humans might sometimes benefit from a previous strategy... I can see it both in shaking free from preconceived notions, and also if playing against some kind of adversary, making oneself less predictable...
Wanna get me some ataraxia!

August 3, 2019

Because they had not repented, the angel stabbed the unrepentant couple thirteen times, with its sword.
Graham Swanson, 2008 Lyttle Lytton contest winner
I've linked to the Lyttle Lytton contest before - it's a much easier to digest version of the famous Bulwer-Lytton contest of bad hypothetical opening lines. The Lyttle version demands concise openings (the original contest leans towards these long rambling compound sentences) and then presents the winners and runners-up in a directory's commentary format, but formats things so it's easy to ignore the comments and focus on entries.
Does anyone remember "Sniglets"? new made up words describing common shared experiences? here's one I'm just making up now:
Linktarrhea: when you paste a URL or link into a document or email and it becomes or remains a link but then you can't write anything after the link without it becoming part of the underlined content, no matter how stupid it looks.
So silly that it's 2019 and I'm still fighting with this issue-- any program should know that it's exceedingly rare (and bad design) for a link text to include paragraphs, so pressing return and inserting a line break should clearly end the damn link.

I think of that little six-step dance I do if I experience Linktarrhea and want to get past it: hit undo to remove the characters I just typed and eventually the URL I pasted, type a few throw away letters, move the cursor back to where I wanted the link, paste it again, move the cursor to after the throw-aways and start typing the word I actually wanted to type, then go back and erase the throw-away letters. Cha-cha-cha.

Bowed skull glitter tattoo for me, unicorn facepaint for the little lady at Middleboro Krazy Days.

photos of the month - july 2019


Open Photo Gallery

No one has proved that our intelligence is a successful adaption, over the long term. It remains to be seen if the human brain is powerful enough to solve the problems it has created.
Richard Wallace, AI-researcher
Quoted this 17 years ago and I think it holds up more than ever.
Every bad guy with a gun thinks he's a good guy with a gun.
(Who follows that up with "Every massacre enacts a collective desire for them.
It's time we started viewing those who obstruct basic remedy to massacre as conscious participants in the desire for massacre.
And treating them accordingly.")

a wonk down memory lane

Memory is so wonky. (Or is it just me?) Sometimes recalled details are so cursory that it's as if remembering an event - a fine meal, a musical performance that hits a moment of transcendence, an adventurous vacation, a first kiss (or more than a kiss) - has more in common with anticipating that event or imagining something similar happening than it does with experiencing it in the moment.

Over the course of our lifetimes, rather few events have the emotional power to get seared into our brain in exacting detail. In fact, neuroscientists say remembering an event is more a reconstruction than anything else. The act of remembering builds the memory, which is why eyewitness testimony is so strangely unreliable.

Suddenly, the sci-fi conceit of "Total Recall", people paying to have memories of otherwise impractical vacations implanted, doesn't seem so ridiculous!

Maybe some of the things in life I desire but might never get I should just imagine the hell out of...

(there's a certain pathos to that, or the risk of diluting the willpower to actually achieve these things... and any offer to ignore objective reality should be considered suspect, but still... is it any more pathetic than a life of unfulfilled longing?)

Whoa. As I was writing this I just remembered a comic I made ten years ago or so - Of The Moments - it captured some of this kind of moment, as well as I could remember them. Man, I'm glad I made that! Rereading it now, some of those events are even more washed away.
If that pun was intentional then you are a villain. If it was not then you are a fool.
Alexis Hall, "The Affair of the Mysterious Letter"

Vice, Virtue. It's best not to be too moral. You cheat yourself out of too much *life.*
Maude, in Harold & Maude
Melissa and I watched that last night, hadn't seen it before but it's come up a few times lately so serendipity moved it to the top of the queue. Interesting seeing a senior citizen instance of the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" type, and thinking about how this film influenced stuff like Wes Anderson's films, and maybe books like Pinkwater's "The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death"
Julia Wertz Things You May Not Know About Miscarriage. I've enjoyed her autobiographical comics for a long time. This one is very heartfelt and personal, mournful without being overly self-pitying, with good advice on how to deal with other people who are giving terrible feedback.

the haunted 'net

the internet is an inherently haunted place if you think about it like. it's so weird to see long abandoned discussion boards stuck in a snapshot of the past, old conversations between kids from over a decade ago who have now grown into their own lives, obituaries taking the form of half finished profiles. and the silence that fills the gaps between. there's a constant ghostly record of each generation's thoughts, fads, their sense of humour. back when the future was at their fingertips. even stranger, people you used to know exist openly in that space, and they watch you watching them. if you want, deceased musicians can play through your headphones. there's always an underlying sense of reminiscing and time escaping our ever shortening attention spans. what a fuckin graveyard
This kind of thought has been on my mind as I go and tend to almost two decades of blog entries (This year I decided to get retroactively persnickety in how I've visually handle quotes over the years.) Skimming the output of my old selves... connected to the current me, but not quite the same person.

If Jim Morrison was alive today, he probably would[n't] write "did you have a good world when you died? Enough to base a wikipedia page on?" and it's harsh to recognize that's probably not the case for me... so I have to make my own monument. (Risking violating Van Webster's direction to "Don't be both Homer and Odysseus--at least not at the same time.").

I think about what I should do to best preserve my public archive - ideally for as long as we have a digital-using civilization. I suppose I will be forever there in the bowels of the Internet Wayback Machine, and god bless for that. I think about ways of paying in advance for my webhosting, and trying to batten down all available hatches so the site is just static HTML and images. (Also toying with the idea of putting a backup archive on blogspot... its business model of funding free, low-traffic blogs with skimming from ad revenue from more traveled blogs might be at least as stable as some of the other ideas I have.)

Sigh. Just grasping for some measure of the immortality promised me in my youth, I suppose. Or maybe the desire to live on forever precedes that, just a natural human view of time?
It's your legs.
Maynard Ferguson advising Miles Davis
The quote is about how to stand when playing trumpet. (Referenced in this instructional video)
From another direction he felt the sensation of being a sheep startled by a flying saucer, but it was virtually indistinguishable from the feeling of being a sheep startled by anything else it ever encountered, for they were creatures who learned very little on their journey through life, and would be startled to see the sun rising in the morning, and astonished by all the green stuff in the fields.
Douglas Adams, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

RIP Toni Morrison. I took all the African-American literature courses in college I could in order to double up on English and World Culture credits, and so got to enjoy a ton of great stuff. What a voice.
Paul D sits down in the rocking chair and examines the quilt patched in carnival colors. His hands are limp between his knees. There are too many things to feel about this woman. His head hurts. Suddenly he remembers Sixo trying to describe what he felt about the Thirty-Mile Woman. "She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It's good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind."
Toni Morrison, "Beloved"

August 7, 2019

"I used to play a lot of magical thinking... magical thinking [was that] I would go 'Ok, I wonder if I held my breath for a certain amount of time, I could have my brother back.' Stuff like that."

"I mean magical thinking is sort of necessary for the suspending of disbelief in order to have faith in the first place, isn't it? I mean magical thinking in a managed way is part of the whole trick?"

"I don't perceive magical thinking and religion as the same thing. Because... magical thinking... (and I forgot who said this, I'm quoting somebody here) Magic is an attempt to control the Godhead. Magic is a way to control God, and to control creation. Faith is the opposite. Faith is acceptance. So magical thinking is actually completely antithetical to my faith."

p5.js reference - the "good parts" version. Made this up after teaching a peer to peer 2 hour class in Processing/P5 last night.
saying "im depressed"

- cliche
- no one listens
- boring

saying "the hobgoblins took all my happy juice"

- no one has ever said that before
- stirs a sense of adventure in every wandering heart
- you can justifiably kill a hobgoblin

August 8, 2019

I don't believe in God - actually, I KNOW that God doesn't exist - and I still believe in him. [...] God as a religion is just poetry. So I'm using certain metaphors which are very helpful due to my cognition, I'm using them to communicate with you, with my children, and I say 'yeah, God will punish you if you talk like that.' Why not?
Which means... to be more scientific about it: most of our reasoning works around metaphors. Similarities. And the deepest metaphor that we have are the metaphors of family relations. We are born to a mother and father, our perception system is so attuned to whether our mother frowns, or smiles - it's the first thing that we learn.
You grow up, and you find out that the world is not only mother and father, it has stars, and it has other things - so you create a metaphor. Because I understand "mother" and "father". I don't understand this movement of the stars, so I will immediately come out with the conclusion that there is some force like my father that moves the stars around, and like my father, teaches me things, and punishes me things. And sometimes it's very natural, to say that's the basics of our cognition. So I do not fight it - I use it. But I remember that it's only poetry.

me, lightly touching miette with the side of my foot: miette move out of the way please so I don't trip on you

miette, her eyes enormous: you KICK miette? you kick her body like the football? oh! oh! jail for mother! jail for mother for One Thousand Years!!!!
Man, I have such a hard time with confabulated reality. Like I have to pause a second and remember, oh but cats can't actually condemn people to prison for a millennium.
I'm not sure how many cookies it takes to be happy, but so far it's not twenty seven.

Talking about how doctors still use Pagers (I wonder if anyone has invented a smartphone case that can receive pages, since it's a different, more reliable network) - shout out to Al Gross. He never seemed to be resentful that his stuff - the walkie-talkie, the CB-radio, the pager - never made him rich before his patents would expire - he said they "permeated our society, and I'm delighted."
Interesting hearing about the French vs Québécois translations of the Simpsons

rest in power toni morrison

Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.
Toni Morrison, "Beloved"

In any case, [my father] put down his cup of coffee and said, "Listen. You don't live there. You live here. With your people. Go to work. Get your money. And come on home."

That was what he said. This was what I heard:

1. Whatever the work is, do it well--not for the boss but for yourself.

2. You make the job; it doesn't make you.

3. Your real life is with us, your family.

4. You are not the work you do; you are the person you are.

Toni Morrison published her first novel at 40. You have time. Your thing won't be nearly as good but hey, that time though

Trump, big smile and a thumbs up with the El Paso surviving baby the baby's uncle had to bring to the hospital, because the survivors who could actually talk didn't want to see him. Great showman, that Trump guy! (I mean, not everyone gets a photo with the president of the US! It’s gonna almost make up for not having parents from a shooter whose manifesto shows deep alignment with Trump brand messaging. )
I'm more sober now than I was when not drinking.

August 10, 2019

Re: Epstein.... I uh, guess, suicide watch means you have someone to watch while someone "suicides" you? Of course so many pervs in that kitchen that both the left and right can have their own theories about who did it. Welcome to Eyes-Wide-Shut-istan.

August 11, 2019

We are going to die, why rush into it. There might still be some good shit.

The response was to a suicidal person who says the "casual and non-confrontational retort" was what gave the sender assurance about the ok-ness of seeking help. This week postsecret has a selection of responses to "share something you would have never experienced if you had completed suicide" from their FB page.
Nat McIntosh Rules for Brass Band Sousaphones:
1. RHYTHM is more important than NOTES
2. STYLE is more important than TONE
3. VOLUME is more important than HOTT LIXX
Like my friend Betty W pointed out, only the beginner lessons are up but I like the "Extended technique" video starting quote..
One of the questions I get asked most often after shows is 'Where did you learn to do That?' and the answer is, I did not learn to do That, I just started messing around and that's what you all should do if you want to figure out the things that are awesome and that can make You actually sound like YOU on the Sousaphone.
(admittedly it would be cooler if wasn't the white guys from up north, but they recognize where they are taking from.)

August 12, 2019


I like to eat an uncooked oyster,
Nothing's slicker, nothing's moister.
Nothing's easier on your gorge
Or, when the time comes, to dischorge.

But not to let it too long rest
Within your mouth is always best.
For if your mind dwells on an oyster ...
Nothing's slicker. Nothing's moister.

I prefer my oyster fried.
Then I'm sure my oyster's died.
Roy Blount, Jr.

Tweet Thread on Zion, Illinois. The city layout in the form of a Union Jack is just the beginning of the weirdness... (I wonder why there was a prohibition on tan-colored shoes though...)
I'm not saying there wasn't a democratic mandate for Brexit at the time. I'm just saying if I narrowly decided to order fish at a restaurant that was known for chicken, but said it was happy to offer fish, and so far I've been waiting three hours, and two chefs who promised to cook the fish had quit, and the third one is promising to deliver the fish in the next five minutes whether it's cooked or not, or indeed still alive, and all the waiting staff have spent the last few hours arguing amongst themselves about whether I wanted battered cod, grilled salmon, jellied eels or dolphin kebabs, and if large parts of the restaurant appeared to be on fire but no-one was paying attention to it because they were all arguing about fish, I would quite like, just once, to be asked if I definitely still wanted the fish.
Jay Rayner
(Not sure if original to him or not)

from "Station Eleven"

Some small passages I liked from Emily St. John Mandel's "Station Eleven", a novel bouncing its point of view from right around the time a horrific flu virus spares less than 1 in a 1000 and ends civilization, and a few decades later where a small pack of survivors (taking their motto from an old Star Trek Voyager episode saying "Survival is Insufficient") make some kind of living as a travelling Symphony and Shakespeare show.
There are tears in her eyes now. Miranda is a person with very few certainties, but one of them is that only the dishonorable leave when things get difficult.
The brief flare of a meteor, or perhaps a falling satellite. Is this what airplanes would have looked like at night, just streaks of light across the sky? Kirsten knew they'd flown at hundreds of miles per hour, inconceivable speeds, but she wasn't sure what hundreds of miles per hour would have looked like.
I've been thinking lately about immortality. What it means to be remembered, what I want to be remembered for, certain questions concerning memory and fame. I love watching old movies. I watch the faces of long-dead actors on the screen, and I think about how they'll never truly die. I know that's a cliché but it happens to be true. Not just the famous ones who everyone knows, the Clark Gables, the Ava Gardners, but the bit players, the maid carrying the tray, the butler, the cowboys in the bar, the third girl from the left in the nightclub. They're all immortal to me. First we only want to be seen, but once we're seen, that's not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.
"A sea of electric lights. It gives me chills to think of it. I don't really remember my parents. Actually just impressions. I remember hot air coming out of vents in the winter, and machines that played music. I remember what computers looked like with the screen lit up. I remember how you could open a fridge, and cold air and light would spill out. Or freezers, even colder, with those little squares of ice in trays. Do you remember fridges?"
"Of course. It's been a while since I've seen one used for anything other than shelving space."
"And they had light inside as well as cold, right? I'm not just imagining this?"
"They had light inside."
None of the older Symphony members knew much about science, which was frankly maddening given how much time these people had had to look things up on the Internet before the world ended.
Crowds had gathered beneath the television monitors. Clark decided that whatever they were looking at, he couldn't face it without a cup of tea. He assumed it was a terrorist attack. He bought a cup of Earl Grey at a kiosk, and took his time adding the milk. This is the last time I'll stir milk into my tea without knowing what happened, he thought, wistful in advance for the present moment, and went to stand with the crowd beneath a television that was tuned to CNN.
"Why did we always say we were going to shoot emails?"
"I don't know. I've wondered that too."
"Why couldn't we just say we were going to send them? We were just pressing a button, were we not?"
"Not even a real button. A picture of a button on a screen."
"Yes, that's exactly what I'm talking about."
"There was not, in fact, an email gun. Although that would've been nice. I would've preferred that."
He found he was a man who repented almost everything, regrets crowding in around him like moths to a light. This was actually the main difference between twenty-one and fifty-one, he decided, the sheer volume of regret.
A few passages were reminders of the cornucopia of small technological miracles we are surrounded by daily... it reminds me of Nicholson Baker's "The Mezzanine", and its meditation on the design of mundane objects. (Or the old essay I, Pencil - a bit of libertarian propaganda but a reminder of the crazy complexity in even something as mundane as that...) But it also has some of the most gripping scenes of normal people bearing witness at the inflexion point of collapse since Cory Doctorow's When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth.
Coding for Fun and the Culture of Learning - made an entry for my company's engineering blog, about the fun of old 8-bit computers, the comapany's Peer-led classes, and the fun of programming stuff in Processing and p5.js
Fun history of Apple Easter Eggs:

(mentioned on The Daring Fireball's Talk Show podcast...)

admiration and objective reality

Doing old blog maintenance, I ran into this Valentine's note to me, written early in the trajectory arc of a long romance:
I wonder if I love you too much. I guess when people say "too much" what they really mean is "more than you." Probably just paranoia. It's just hitting me how much you've come to mean to me in so short a time, and what it would mean to lose you.
Maybe it wasn't just paranoia. I worry I've never loved as vibrantly as other folks seem to.

I don't love people for their Nouns, who they "really are" - maybe because I can't bear witness to their inner life! I love people's Verbs - interactions that outsiders (such as me) can observe. Actions people perform in the public sphere have their bona fides of objective reality, and so I can know my feelings are rooted in truth.

But is that love of other folks, then? Or just admiration?

As a young teen, I figured out that I couldn't given free rein to my desires. Lust might lead to STDs and unwanted pregnancies. Hunger might lead to me becoming fat(ter). And worst of all: acting on unfiltered feelings - lust, anger, greed, wrath, pride, envy, gluttony - put me at risk for eternal hellfire! Yeah, God could forgive, but repeated transgressions (the verb) brought the veracity of the repentance (the noun) into question. And which of those temporary pleasures would be worth eternal punishment?

When I do try to survey my own emotional landscape, I'm appalled at how ego-driven so much of it is; my obsession of the importance of objective (yet never fully and confidently known) truths leaves me hungry for external validation - and so I like how reading books tells me I'm smart, playing in bands tells me I'm talented, playing video games tells me I'm empowered, at least in those virtual microcosms. (I don't think I'm alone in hunger, especially in folks raised as boys - not that I think girls have it better. But some of the most damning things to say about a dude is that he's a bad driver, or not funny, or not competent in bed - many men want their ego stroked as much as any of their other parts.)

So, love from other folks: am I seeking love? Or just admiration?

And to top it off - since the interpretation of objective reality is a group project, I can't put too much weight on what feelings I do find arising in me. I'm not such a martyr that I have to ignore my own preferences, but I am compelled to evaluate my behavior based on what seems good for the group - or in the case of romance, the couple - not just me.

So I dunno. Is it this complicated for everyone?
I had a dream where - I think - people were using certain foodstuffs as power system. I woke up enough to write "the exothermic aesthetic of yellow rice and yogurt sauce"
Quick question,
If "illegals" are lazy freeloaders just leaching off the system,
Why does ICE always raid workplaces?
Steve A Mattison

August 15, 2019

There's one thing computing teaches you, and that's that there's no point to remembering *everything*.
Douglas Coupland
I recorded that 17 years ago, with the comment "I'm trying to utilize this statement as encouragement to discard all these old files that are only slightly interesting in a 'passing interests and random activities of Kirk in the late 1990s'". I'm still not sure I got the knack of that.
I feel I can tell I am becoming an old by my lack of enthusiasm for unisex one-piece-looking rompers a few folks at my company's shore side outing are wearing.

August 16, 2019

In retrospect I think it's time to question Billy Joel's claim that his generation didn't start the fire

Doing old Blog Grooming I found a 2006 article 'Sleeping on it' best for complex decisions - way back when I quoted
Thinking hard about a complex decision that rests on multiple factors appears to bamboozle the conscious mind so that people only consider a subset of information, which they weight inappropriately, resulting in an unsatisfactory choice. In contrast, the unconscious mind appears able to ponder over all the information and produce a decision that most people remain satisfied with.
The thing is, I still think it’s a mistake to conflate that sense of satisfaction with objective correctness. That unconscious overnight process is not amenable to inspection or rational confirmation, and I think is pretty much at the mercies of every ingrained prejudice and presumption we’ve internalized.

It’s like that muscle memory thing… to perform a skill at high level it's crucial that you impress the movements into your subconscious - but it’s not so good to drill and drill and practice if you’re just letting your poor form or style become a more deeply ingrained habit. It's the same for athletic feats as it is thinking.


On FB my old manager Kevin asked
Why do we ikea? I mean really. Why?
This was my response:
I think there are 3 reasons to dislike IKEA:
  1. the cultural triumph of mediocrity, of not great materials furniture not built for the long haul
  2. the disastrously wearing and psychologically manipulative experience of the IKEA store, its rat maze and sometimes huuuuuuge lines
  3. the torment of assembling this shitty flatpack, and how failing to notice one little tiny dot representing a screw hole and the only asymmetry of the piece means you have to undo like 20 minutes of work
But for those, I say:
  1. IKEA is also a victory for quality of thoughtful design and simplicity, not to mention affordability.
  2. The IKEA store is kind of an aspirational wonderland, tantalizing inspirations for a more elegant and less cluttered life
  3. People feel a bit more connected to furniture they assembled - your work went into it, vs just you or some hired blokes wrestling in a piece that then just sits there
I dunno. I dig it! I remember a story from growing up - Salvation Army Officer families generally live in pre-furnished houses or apartments, so there's often little choice about furnishings. One time, though, our quarters were newly established, and my parents got the chance to tasteful scandinavian design stuff. But word was the people who moved in after had a tendency to be super rough with the new stuff, but mostly so they could replace it with the same old colonial crap.

(speaking of kinetic typography videos, the one I saw for Cee Lo Green's F*** You still stands out)
Today someone said "what are linked lists for" and I said "technical interviews, mainly" and nobody reacted in any way and I still think about that.

August 18, 2019

Great time in Cumberland with the PPLM crew

Open Photo Gallery

(photos retroactively grabbed from video in 2023 ;-) )

I used to draw robots! I'm not sure if my current pen and crosshatch choices go well it though...

the problem with having a giant light bulb for a brain is how thin and delicate the glass is. and how i got hammers for hands.

a snail really do be like [scooting his slimy lil way across the garden with dogged determination, resolute in his understanding that the destination lies in the journey itself]

Relying on your intuition is kind of like assuming the information at the first google hit is right.

from "Where'd You Go, Bernadette"

3 bits from Maria Semple's "Where'd You Go, Bernadette" In some ways the book was an amazing expansion of the "Manic Pixie Dreamgirl" Trope (though better more self-actualized) if a wee bit boojie.

(Guess I should see the movie when it comes out...)
While we're on the subject, please indulge me while I tell you the story of the first and last time Bee ever claimed she was bored. Bernadette and I were driving Bee and a friend, both preschoolers, to a birthday party. There was traffic. Grace said, "I'm bored."
"Yeah," Bee mimicked, "I'm bored."
Bernadette pulled the car over, took off her seat belt, and turned around. "That's right," she told the girls. "You're bored. And I'm going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it's boring now? Well, it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn it's on you to make life interesting, the better off you'll be."
"OK," Bee said quietly.
DR. KURTZ: OK. So. It's important to acknowledge there's a lot of hurt. But let's stay in the here and now. Elgin, why don't you try expressing your love for Bernadette. You had mentioned what a wonderful mother--

BRANCH: And you're back there in your Airstream lying to me left and right, outsourcing your life, our lives, to India? Don't I get a vote in that? You're afraid of getting seasick when we're crossing the Drake Passage? There's a way to deal with it. It's called a scopolamine patch. You don't arrange to get four wisdom teeth removed and lie to me and Bee about it. People die getting their wisdom teeth pulled. But you'll do it just to avoid small talk with strangers? What the hell is Bee going to think when she hears this? And all because you're a "failure"? How about a wife? How about a mother? What happened to coming to your husband? Why do you have to spill your guts out to some architect you haven't seen for twenty years? God, you're sick. You make me sick, and you're sick.

DR. KURTZ: Another example of love is a hug.
I giggled out loud at that.
Halfway through this speech, it dawned on me that Ellen Idelson was a contractor. She was performing contractor Kabuki. It's a ritual in which (a) the contractor explains in great detail the impossibility of the job you've asked him to do, (b) you demonstrate extreme remorse for even suggesting such a thing by withdrawing your request, and (c) he tells you he's found a way to do it, so (d) you owe him one for doing what he was hired to do in the first place.

The canonical store of the 80s: I remember buying a tank top/overshirt combo kind of similar to that...

Just saving this tweet about the connection beteen the El Paso shooter's manifesto and what we get from other conservative tweeters inclduding the president
Last night we finally got around to watching the end of the first (and hopefully not last) season of Tuca & Bertie. It's an outrage this wasn't picked up for a second season - even though almost every animated series gets two seasons out of the gate, this one was on a special probation or some such crap.

Besides being woman made and confronting some issues in a fun but serious way, the first few episodes especially took advantage of being animation to make a surreal landscape and really have fun with the form.

I hope some other network picks this up.

Why These Social Networks Failed So Badly - myspace and vine are the ones I think are the biggest losses. Along with the blogosphere in general.

August 20, 2019

For white conservatives, accepting that the United States wouldn't exist without slavery would mean acknowledging that the Founders were not the creators of an infallible civic religion, which sets the limits on all modern claims for justice. It would mean that liberty was, in practice, as much a matter of exclusion as inclusion, and that success and prosperity owe more to centuries of exploitation than to God's blessing of an exceptional people.

Giants 🤝 Strippers
Grinding men's bones to make their bread

Tfw it takes you five decades to notice Mediterranean means the middle of the world.

the incomplete lists of kirkisms

Twenty years ago (yeesh) My friend Paul M. recruited me to my first post-college job at a company called IDD. When we were there, he did me the honor of recording some of the oddball things I would say (this list has been languishing on a biography in lists page I made way back when - I can tell it's old because all of my html tags are in all caps...)
  1. Get the friggin' integer ass. (said to the Java compiler)
  2. Well, I sure hope I get to New York tonight. (sigh) - Fuck a duck, fuck a duck, fuck a duck duck duck
  3. Hang on while I stamp out a nipple (while brandishing a hammer)
  4. I gotta read that sex book ("Sex", the 1992 coffeetable book by Madonna)
  5. You fish and chips snarfelling waffler. (said to Paul, born in England).
  6. Ah, shoot off a nipple. Ooh. That would hurt. (said while pointing a gun at Paul's chest.)
  7. If libertarian ideals are so great, how come we use the English measurement system?
  8. Kirk: But Paul, I want to be a hero-- Paul: Yeah, but you don't want to be marketing's hero
  9. I want to have an artgasm.
  10. I wish I knew how to sing Lawrence Welk music.
  11. These bubbles make me happy as a little girl.
  12. I'd come crawling back to her in a minute if I thought I had a third of a chance.
  13. Wanna smell a nut?
  14. Don't threaten me. Don't threaten my manhood.
  15. (answering phone) Magic NetGravity Fairy
  16. That nail is an extension of me. You touched me!
  17. Lawrence Welk really had the right idea.
  18. I'm a software developer- I don't need shoes.
  19. Now my wrists are gonna get all sore.
  20. The reason that dogs chase cars is that they think they are giant buffalo and they want to herd them- or something.
Sometime in mid-2008 I started compiling a similar list of my idiosyncratic phrases
"( )"
I tend to talk parenthetically, in that I will start a statement and go immediately off into a parenthetical aside, usually a disclaimer or recognition of an alternate interpretation. This is often very confusing for the listener. e.g. "So I was thinking (and I'm not saying this is what we have to do, but it has worked pretty well in the past) we should take Amtrak rather than drive there."
An under-the-breath exclamation of discontent
"I was more struck by ____"
When I want to point out what aspect most stood out for me without dismissing the other parts.
"a little disjoint"
my favorite expression for some art work that just doesn't hang together very well
Emphatic form of "dude", often connotating pleasant surprise. absorbed from mo.
"one option you might want to consider is..."
a typical prelude when suggesting a "helpful hint" to my mom or my aunt when helping them with their respective computer... trying to balance my urge to make things better with an understanding that people often like to keep things the way that they are used to.
When I'm playfully frustrated or irritated with a female friend, I tend to call them sister... I think it comes from Han Solo's line in Star Wars, "It is for *me*, sister."
This bugged Ksenia very much.
"that's some of what it comes back to"
discussing a root cause while acknowledging the best explanations are multifaceted
"whatever you say me"
A bit of russlish Ksenia used once or twice, dropping the "to" from "say to me". I still use it as a form of grudging consent, as I did then to tease her a bit
Interesting to see which phrases I still use. I still like "you fish and chips snarfelling waffler", I definitely have too many parenthetical asides, and I like saying "*grumblesmurf*"

(I know it seems a bit self-absorbed to record and share this stuff, but if it helps I think everyone should be that kind of self-absorbed...)
okay so today the president said jews are stupid and got mad when he couldn't buy greenland

the "Logos" of logos

The team names and identities of the new XFL Teams:

The reveal video had some fun hyping each one:

So the video was fun and ambitious, but overall the teams are a lot more generic and less focused on their hometowns than the short-lived Alliance of American Football. (I snapshotted those here in February.)

Also I would mention Chris Creamer's Sportslogos.net - an amazing archive both of the logo history of teams in successful leagues, and many teams in leagues that have fallen by the wayside.
My tuba and I show up with a small interview in NBC 10's coverage of the ECCO protest march against our immigration policy. (Pretty sure I didn't say "we are all immigrants", exactly? I'm usually pretty careful to recognize First Peoples.)
Me: dear god. Please destroy ICE and Amazon

God: yo I gotchu

God: *melts ice caps and starts burning the rainforest*

Me: wait no

August 23, 2019

I'm as happy as a clam. You know, that animal that's well known for displaying emotion.
Erik Bergstrom

August 24, 2019

[Trump] is a really talented insult comic. He just is. He's in some ways a genius insult comic, going back to some people like - Sam Kinison [...] There's very Dice Clay about him.

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

the documented life

In 2016, I made "best of the year" galleries for all my digital photography (which went back to 1996!) - kirk.is/tag/poty - and I've done additional galleries for the years since.

I decided to start curating "best of" for photos on a monthly basis to make the process for the year easier - I backfilled it for all 2019 and kirk.is/tag/potm is my tag for best photos of the month.

I try to choose a bit more for aesthetic appeal and visual interestingness than the personal momento, though the best photos have a lot of both for me.

I've been thinking about making physical photobooks for a lot of these - including scans of my creaking old photo albums from birth through college. (which of course are online too - kirk.is/tag/photo_album ) I suppose it's a sad little stab at some crumb of immortality, or at least a boost of longevity. (Physical books have some interesting layout opportunities and challenges I'd have to up my game to meet)

Maybe I should just focus on photography and drop my obsessive consistency with doing the 1 Second Everyday every day. God knows that 6 years into it, there's a sameness that emerges. But it does feel luxurious to review the old compilations and relive those times of my life, and it might feel odd to only to be able to do that for my late-30s, early-40s and no other time. It's a treadmill I don't quite know how to jump off of!

But photos have a gravitas video clips lack. Plus, you can't really do much with short video clips outside these compilations... I guess there are way to make artifacts with looping animations, but good old photos can be blown up into posters, put into books, or just made into wall art.

Thinking about the 2nd amendment, and its clause on well-regulated militia; I think that the most honest "original intent" interpretation would see it as a collective state rights issue, so that states can raise up their state guards as needed, and the temptations of having a standing army that can be used for tyrannical purposes would be avoided. But isn't it odd, that there's this overwhelming overlap between 2nd amendment fans and fans of the permanent standing army we maintain. Maybe that is the ultimate low key victory of the fascism from WW2; that it gave the scenario for justification for the military industrial complex Eisenhower warned us about, and so we became more like what we had fought in WW2. The rise of expansionary communism muddles that interpretation somewhat, but still. (yeah I know I'm probably recapitulating Chomsky badly)
Wow. I grew up in Salvation Army bands, based on British Brass Bands... but despite having watched "Brassed Off" I didn't quite realize there's a league-like system with relegation and promotion there!

August 26, 2019

every noise at once is a fascinating attempt at comprehensive music taxonomy, with lots of samples. It describes itself as
Every Noise at Once is an ongoing attempt at an algorithmically-generated, readability-adjusted scatter-plot of the musical genre-space, based on data tracked and analyzed for 3,346 genre-shaped distinctions by Spotify as of 2019-08-24. The calibration is fuzzy, but in general down is more organic, up is more mechanical and electric; left is denser and more atmospheric, right is spikier and bouncier.

Your salary is your company's monthly subscription fee of you.

August 27, 2019

Missy Elliot's jaw-dropping, costume-swapping performance at MTV's VMAs:


I keep a text file called "things that are bugging me". When I'm feeling off, I take an inventory of the factors leading to my ennui; general discontent and blues. It's a surprisingly infrequent impulse but a long term project; the entries in the file are Jan 2008, Apr 2008, Aug 2008, Feb 2011, Sep 2015, Nov 2015, Aug 2017 and now Aug 2019.

I noticed it last night, that I was self-medicating alternating with an iOS game (Archero - which is really quite a satisfying little adventure) and reading the novel "Today Will Be Different". I knew I might feel a bit better if I hunkered down on some porchfest or loveblender tasks but I was just not feeling it.

(Another symptom of something being off, from this very entry: I'm using colons and semi-colons. I hardly ever use colons and semi-colons, and I fear I don't use them well.)

I don't take much stock in my own intrinsic feelings, and that's somewhere between wise self-analysis and a self-fulfilling prophecy. (I am profoundly shallow, my entire nervous system and philosophical system are grounded in how surface interactions are more critical in their accountability than obscured inner states.) But I wonder if this very occasionally recurring heap of the blahs was accurately diagnosed by my buddy Dylan as low level depression (but I think think he thinks that about everybody) or as a pileup of anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure) my therapist once mentioned me having... and are those just descriptions or useful signposts for corrections or adaptions?

But despite being aware that this might be a "the call is coming from inside the house!!!!" thing, I can see some external factors: So sometimes I've found writing this down in a public space feels helpful - in fact I feel a bit of lift even now. Suggestions or random attention and supportive sentiment are welcome as well.

August 29, 2019

Dozing and dreaming - where there is some small part of your brain aware of the process - is so odd. It's like watching the different parts of your brain play charades! A strange dance of image, emotion, and interpretation.

I am increasingly wondering about how the different parts of my mind feel about each other. How much the emotional subconscious comprehends what the narrative conscious is thinking is a fascinating question. My narrative self definitely worries that the rest of my mind feels condescended to.
I think about this ad, sometimes, about how an iphone/smartphone replaces all these devices...

sometimes the most amazing part is like 3000 songs I love, on me at all times. But a 2001 iPod could do that more or less. And is that more or less impressive than streaming, which turns your phone into a radio, albeit one tuned into a custom radio station just for you....

See also Everything From This 1991 Radio Shack Ad You Can Now Do With Your Phone

This morning I tried out this app CARROT Fit - funniest wrapper for 7-minute-workout style stuff I've seen. Like what if GLaDOS from Portal was your exercise coach, barely able to contain her disdain (and threatening physical violence and traps for you)

A rebuke to the Conservative catchphrase the USA is a Republic not a Democracy.
When it's third and ten, you can take the milk drinkers and I'll take the whisky drinkers every time.
Green Bay wide receiver Max McGee (attributed)

from Maria Semple's "Today Will Be Different"

I don’t mean to ruin the ending for you, sweet child, but life is one long headwind. To make any kind of impact requires self-will bordering on madness. The world will be hostile, it will be suspicious of your intent, it will misinterpret you, it will inject you with doubt, it will flatter you into self-sabotage. My God, I’m making it sound so glamorous and personal! What the world is, more than anything? It’s indifferent. [...] But you have a vision. You put a frame around it. You sign your name *anyway*. That’s the risk. That’s the leap. That’s the madness: thinking anyone’s going to care.
I was brought up Catholic too, you know. When I was seven, they were teaching us about the loaves and the fishes. I raised my hand and said, “That couldn’t really happen.” Sister Bridget, not happy, responded, “Faith requires the mind of a child.” I said, “But I am a child.” She replied, “A *younger* child.” I thought, What a load of malarkey, and never looked back.
Just because you’re calmer than I am doesn’t mean you’re morally superior.

on china

via kottke, Kaiser Kuo's long form attempt to answer “Why don’t you Chinese hate your government as much as we think you ought to?”

Two quotes I liked:
So try telling a Chinese person that anyone willing to trade a little personal liberty for a little personal safety deserves neither liberty nor safety, and they’ll look at you like you’re insane. Therein lies the values gap.
and later
It’s the rare person who can truly separate, at both an intellectual and an emotional level, criticism of his or her country from criticism of his or her country’s government — especially if that government is not, at present, terribly embattled and is delivering basic public goods in a reasonably competent manner.
One term the early part of the essay uses a lot is "contingent" - i.e. values that many Americans assume are universal and self-evident are actually dependent on quite a lot of factors of our history. (It was an awareness of a similar sense of "contingency" that fed into my loss of religious faith as a teen: the faith I had learned had declared itself to be universal and absolute - or worthless.)

The essay also reminds me that I don't value freedom as the ultimate good for its own sake, but as an important means to other ends. (And since I am no solipsist, I realize that universal freedom for everyone would be chaos that would curtail practical freedom for most.) I think the greatest purpose for humanity is the creation of categorical novelty; we are the only species we know of able to generate new memetic concepts on the regular - and the system that can generate the most novelty overall has to have a balance of freedom (so new ideas can come out) and stability (so that the environment to generate those new ideas will be preserved.) And in the meanwhile, it's also important to extinguish suffering where we can.
Five years ago I assembled my Usenet .sig quotes, mostly from the late 90s. I'm impressed with how much I like so many of them! I guess I was being rather selective - these were the ones I was willing to make part of my persona in the footer of my public posts.

Here's a tweet with a video of the Dum duh Dum Didee Duh loop we played at the dumb-ass Trump float (the one in the "Straight Pride" parade that was like 95% dudes...) At counter-rallies you have to be careful not to be seen like you're playing FOR the jerks you're freespeeching against...

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