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April 1, 2021

Steven Bradbury – you know, the Australian speed skater who won gold because all of the other skaters fell down – has gotta be one of my favourite athletes for the context that most posts about him don't mention.

Y'see, throughout his career, Bradbury's opponents falling down had basically been his curse. He'd been skating competitively for over a decade, and in that span, he'd been knocked out of contention in major events by opponents either stumbling into him or falling in his path on at least six separate occasions. In some cases, he suffered considerably more damage than simply losing out on a medal; in one incident, a stumbling opponent's skate-blade sliced open an artery in Bradbury's thigh, causing him to lose four litres of blood and spend the next eighteen months in physical therapy; in another, Bradbury tripped over an opponent who'd fallen down in front of him and broke his own neck. Following the latter incident, Bradbury's doctors told him he'd never skate again.

In spite of those warnings, Bradbury would later qualify for the 2002 Winter Olympics, though most commentators – and, by his own admission, Bradbury himself – believed that his age and the lingering effects of his past injuries made it unlikely that he'd win.

On the day of the 1000 meter short track event, it looked like those predictions would bear out. Going into the semi-finals, having made it that far only due to the disqualification of stronger competitors, Bradbury was already exhausted (it was his third event of the day), and he trailed far behind the pack. However, three of his four opponents stumbled on the final lap, allowing him to advance. In the final, Bradbury's opponents fared even worse, becoming entangled in a massive wipeout just fifty meters short of the goal, and Bradbury was able to weave through the resulting pileup and coast to the finish line, capturing Australia's first Winter Olympics gold.

Following the 2002 Olympics, Bradbury immediately retired.

April 2, 2021


Open Photo Gallery

The makers of the early talkies dismissed the silents as an embarrassment of wild-eyed emoting. The later talkies dismissed the early talkies. The Forties prided themselves on their increased social consciousness, the Fifties on their perceptive cynicism, the Sixties on their anguished absurdism; the Seventies now flaunt their noble nihilism.
Andrew Sarris, writing in 1975's "The Myth of Old Movies"

April 3, 2021

Individuals who can unconsciously predict complex patterns, an ability called implicit pattern learning, are likely to hold stronger beliefs that there is a god who creates patterns of events in the universe, according to neuroscientists at Georgetown University.

Even Major League Baseball can see it, folks. This is disgusting

Republicans in Georgia are making it harder to vote.(Except in the rural areas that are more populated by white folks) These laws affect democrats and black voters a hell of a lot more than anyone else.

One party is coming closer to admitting they deeply need less democracy; they look to cement their minoritarian rule as best they can.

Voters will now have less time to request absentee ballots.
There are strict new ID requirements for absentee ballots.
It's now illegal for election officials to mail out absentee ballot applications to all voters.
Drop boxes still exist ... but barely.
Mobile voting centers (think an R.V. where you can vote) are essentially banned.
Early voting is expanded in a lot of small counties, but probably not in more populous ones.
Offering food or water to voters waiting in line now risks misdemeanor charges.
If you go to the wrong polling place, it will be (even) harder to vote.
If election problems arise, a common occurrence, it is now more difficult to extend voting hours.
With a mix of changes to vote-counting, high-turnout elections will probably mean a long wait for results.
Election officials can no longer accept third-party funding (a measure that nods to right-wing conspiracy theories).
With an eye toward voter fraud, the state attorney general will manage an election hotline.
The Republican-controlled legislature has more control over the State Election Board.
The secretary of state is removed as a voting member of the State Election Board.
The G.O.P.-led legislature is empowered to suspend county election officials.
Runoff elections will happen faster -- and could become harder to manage.

music of the month, march 2021

Pretty solid month for music last month!

Oh, and a music project my tuba and I chipped in last year has borne fruit, Interstate Abbreviations by The Sound Down Cellar, a 3-song album available on Bandcamp. Those will be showing up here next month. I'm also briefly in the video for Fix a Fault

tolerate it
Taylor Swift
A 5 star-er! A low 5-star, but still. The "reverse lover's complaint" of it (she should be celebrated, but the dude feels like he's just tolerating it) seems real somehow.
From this video on songs in 5/4 time.

Count It Off (feat. The Muscle Shoals Horns)
The Saturday Knights
Raunchy street music with a cool slouching swag.
From the comedy "We're The Millers"
Played Like a Piano (feat. Ice Cube & Breeze)
King Tee
Old school hiphop, dig the use of the piano that unabashedly mirrors the title/refrain.
From GTA V's hip hop radio station.
Work (Freemasons Radio Edit)
Kelly Rowland
Modern R+B, dig the "Knight Rider" theme like vibe.
Another GTA 5 radio song.
Jon Batiste
Sweet blend of old and new school sounds, jazz, hiphop, very bright and friendly.
Shared on the School of Honk FB- SOH is very fond of Batiste! Some of us played WITH HIM on his "I'm from Kenner" when he played the SInclair.

Feeling Good
Nina Simone
Big, beautiful soul/jazz. Love the horns.
via the movie "The Intouchables", about the assistant to a wealthy quadriplegic and the friendship they build.
You Can't Judge a Book By It's Cover (Single Version)
Bo Diddley
Classic rollicking Bo Diddley.
Used in the Martin Scorsese / Fran Lebowitz thing on Netflix.
I'm a Hustla (Street Mix)
Hiphop. Kinda had trouble w/ the heavy use of the N-word to lead it off, but it's got an amazing beat.
via Sara Hopkins Vines. Damn I miss that platform!!

Louder (feat. Icona Pop)
Big Freedia
I love Big Freedia so much. Good use of "I Got The Power" clip, and her awesome Bounce Music.
Last month Big Freedia did a verse in the Rebecca Black "Friday" redux...

Galway Girl
Ed Sheeran
Pop/Irish Folk blend. For some reason I really love that invitation "Do you want to drink on?"
Via this b3ta robocop parody - I think the joke is that this song or Sheeran is overplayed, but all kind of new to me.

Can't Take My Eyes Off You
Selah Sue Feat. Walk off the Earth
Oh, love the oddball ukulele arpeggios in this! From the movie soundtrack "How to Be Single" I guess, and only avaialble on that soundtrack.
I think the melody showed up in something then I deliberately went hunting for a cover of this.
High Anxiety
Mel Brooks
Shmaltzy Mel Brooks, from a movie of the same name.
When a friend mentioned she had high anxiety, I thought about Mel Brooks who says he basically made this movie so he could sing "Hiiigh AnnnnnXIety"
Meu Nome é Zé
Antonio Pinto
Background music from "City of God". The dialog in portuguese... something about the gangster's tone and measured way of speaking reminds me of villains from Star Wars.
Funk da Virada
Antonio Pinto + Ed Cortes
More background music from "City of God"
Man, if you ever want to see a good argument for gun control, watch this movie and think about what life would be like if every punk was carrying a pistol.
70s modern cover of part of "Toccata and Fugue in D minor"
Someone on an atari group pointed out this might have been what inspired the music to the arcade game Gyruss, another electronic cover of the same song. I think the music to the 2600 version is the most amazing thing on the platform.
Such Great Heights
The Postal Service
Modern indie. It's no "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" but it's ok
Daring Fireball mentioned the old Apple ad The Intel Chip totally ripped off this song.

Think About Things
Daði Freyr
I think this a classic Eurovision piece... I really love how it uses "Baby" in a literal sense! And just the general good feeling of new baby potential.
From some talk about Will Ferrell's Eurovison Movie... like this being a real entry from Iceland.
Song to the Siren
This Mortal Coil
Melancholy, or maybe hopeful piece. I think the singer is known for going more for feeling than sense of song.
I was skimming through the Justice League Snyder Cut and I think this is playing as The Flash is exploring his speed powers, dealing with a local disaster explosion.
Steel-Band de la Trinidad
Island cover of the amazing song.
My friend Beth (who does music cataloging) mentioned finding this one, and she wishes she knew more about it.
Hardcore Danish Female rap. Basically singing how she's gourmet (Your Burger King, I'm michelin)
The actual music video for this is the weirdest thing... pretty explicit porn.

April 6, 2021

When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it's our job to share our calm, not join their chaos.
L.R. Knost.
Just ran across the image of this quote Chas posted a few years ago. It has stuck with me ever since - not just in terms of dealing with toddlers, but just folks in general.

Like I dunno. I curate my emotions; try to live in a garden where I cultivate the things I like and snip out things that don't seem useful while they're still barely seedlings. To switch metaphors, I don't think it's good to let emotions snowball and then gain their own subjective momentum, only loosely connected to the objective reality of the circumstance.

But people are very romantic about emotions. They point out that maybe I'm missing out on certain forms of pleasures in life by being in the habit of being even-tempered (the flareups of frustration that still burst through not withstanding)... that I can't throw out the bathwater of stupid feelings without losing the baby of the good ones - ecstatic pleasure, say, or useful righteous anger. And of course I can't use this "it's my job to share my calm" thought in terms of grownups without risking sounding like a condescending jerk.
Certain forms of perplexity – for example, about freedom, knowledge, and the meaning of life – seem to me to embody more insight than any of the supposed solutions to those problems.
Thomas Nagel

I've been dabbling with Noom, a CBTish weight management program, though honestly it's not too different than what I'd been doing the months before.

Anyway, one lesson they have is, only slightly paraphrasing "we aren't born with a sweet tooth, our taste for sweets is learned over time. However, we are predisposed to like sugary treats."

To me that's a distinction without a difference. Like if our wiring is such that in developing in a typical environment we invariably develop a sweet tooth, then saying "we aren't born with it, yet are predisposed to it" makes little sense.

Some friends of mine are interested, or concerned, with my skepticism about personal growth / change. This is a decent instance of something I was trying to explain to them before; like the potential for everything that's part of us (a sweet tooth, say, or even the ability to manage a sweet tooth) is there from the beginning. We have some limited potential to mold that expression and develop some parts and diminish others, but it's all curation of the same base material we are born with, and our striving for personal development are set against a host of environmental factors, some positive some negative, that we don't have control over either.
Just downloaded Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic", since in a week we'll be moving a few blocks from the mystic river.

But the foghorn sound reference(actually pretty artsy!) in the song makes me realize he's probably not singing about the river.

Also, I understand his frustration with the past year or so in terms of live music and the impact on musicians, but can't really get behind his anti-Lockdown songs...
She had curves in all the wrong places - some of them cast a 3-dimensional shadows, still others hummed a low, discordant note as they flitted about like flies. She was nothing like other girls - she was an abomination from the 6th plane of torment

Kids these days will never know the beautiful sounds of dial up internet. It was like listening to a chorus of angels getting hit by a garbage truck

April 7, 2021

gimme the peat boys and free my loam i wanna get lost in your rock and stone and sift away

As together they staggered toward the bed, fell heavily onto the bed. The physical reality of another's body is always a shock--size, density, heat.
Joyce Carol Oates, from "Detour" (via Harper's Magazine)

April 8, 2021


The #explanation of #PollenSeason. #pollen #pollenallergy #americanhistory #edutokers #edutok #blacktiktokcommunity #blacktiktoks #blacktikok #blm

♬ original sound - J.C.

Why must a movie be "good" ? Is it not enough to sit somewhere dark and see a beautiful face, huge?

Asteroids by Vipin Chandran
5 Days til we move but starting to make it like home...

5 Days til we move but starting to make it like home...

April 9, 2021

my mom noticed something interesting. She was born in 1947, I was born in 1974. I am now 47... and she is 74. All those 4s and 7s... I was trying to figure out if that's a wacky and well spotted coincidence, or what.

I figure the first interesting bit is her (2 digit) birthyear and mine being swaps - '47 and '74. For such swaps, there will always be a year where the parent and child's age is also a swap... and that year will be a multiple of 11, like 1900 + (11 * 11) = 2021. I'm trying to figure out if we get any more interesting because 7 + 4 = 11.

How comes it that a cripple does not offend us, but that a fool does? Because a cripple recognises that we walk straight, whereas a fool declares that it is we who are silly; if it were not so, we should feel pity and not anger.

Sigh. I was trying to lean into the "forced minimalism" by mindfully enjoying having books, decorations, deskstuff packed, and things just bare. It's... not that great. Typing at a desk on a laptop sans big ol' monitor isn't so much fun.

All hail Katalin Kariko! She had to fight to get the system to put any support behind her ideas about how mRNA could teach the immune system to make its own medicine.

April 10, 2021

I'm almost 50, and here is the best thing I have learned so far: every strange thing you've ever been into, every failed hobby or forgotten instrument, everything you have ever learned will come back to you, will serve you when you need it. No love, however brief, is wasted.

April 11, 2021

Just because you're accurate doesn't mean you're interesting.
John Mulaney, "Kid Gorgeous"

new office goals... hmmm

April 12, 2021

RIP DMX. Slate has a decent writeup. I guess you could criticize him for being the biggest name way to the left of the Rappers, ranked by the number of unique words used in their lyrics chart, but I think about that Hemingway line "Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?"

Crap, that is about the whitest way possible to write about DMX.
Joined the Vaxholes with my pfirst pfizer. Thanks to my sweetie Melissa for taking point with the opening notification! And still on track for moving tomorrow...
And props to CVS. I don't know all the details but they seem to be playing a really important role in getting vaccine into folks in MA!

April 13, 2021

"This isn't a painting. It is the most detailed image of a human cell to date, obtained by radiography, nuclear magnetic resonance and cryoelectron microscopy."

Perhaps THIS move, watching all these strong movers wrestle SO MUCH STUFF down 3 flights of stairs, along with the general challenges of moving from a compact apartment to a maybe even more compact condo will be the one that gets me to rethink the quantity of my material possessions?

Not banking on it. But trying to snapshot this mood for use later...

kitty in an empty apartment


April 15, 2021

After the photoshoot...

April 16, 2021

LOL, Republicans made up an award just so they could give it to Trump-
I guess they understand how pure ego he is, and on the chances he comes back into relevancy.
The Healing Power of Javascript. Reminds me that I should figure out how to make a pure-HTML version of my blog...

April 17, 2021

At the last BABAM gig (backing the nurses union strike at St. Vincents in Worcester) one member mentioned this excellent Radiolab episode about 80s and 90s protests by ACT UP - hearing of the bringing and dumping of ashes of loved ones lost to AIDS - protesting the millions who died because of the slowness and paucity of government response - was very moving, and in general learning about what kind of actions provoke response, and what kind of actions are purely expressions of rage and grief, is worthwhile.

The gig in question was shutdown by the police monitoring the picket line... a surprisingly novel occurrence for the band.

April 18, 2021

People walking along the street observed sparks jumping between their feet and the ground. Sparks sprang from water line taps when touched. Light bulbs within 100 feet of the lab glowed even when turned off. Horses in a livery stable bolted from their stalls after receiving shocks through their metal shoes. Butterflies were electrified, swirling in circles with blue halos of St. Elmo's fire around their wings.
That thing with the butterflies sounds really amazing.
I just got a (even) larger monitor - 30.5" - like a billboard!
Thinking I'll simplify my physical desktop by getting rid of the old cheap "portrait mode" monitor I had on the side. 2 screens can probably be enough... and while sometimes useful the extra monitor was more like geek "virtual signaling" than anything truly necessary.

April 19, 2021

Resuming my daily constitutional walks - living near a river is kind of sweet!

from Alan Lightman's "Probable Impossibilities"

I've always been struck by the fact that the number of neurons in our brain is about equal to the number of stars in a galaxy: one hundred billion.
Alan Lightman, "Probable Impossibilities"

As [Robert] Desimone sees it, consciousness is just a vague word for the mental experience of attending, which we are slowly dissecting in terms of the electrical and chemical activity of individual neurons. He threw out an analogy. Consider a careening automobile. A person might ask: Where inside that thing is its motion? But he would no longer ask that particular question after he understood the engine of the car, the manner in which gasoline is ignited by sparkplugs, the movement of cylinders and gears.
Alan Lightman, "Probable Impossibilities"
I'm still reminded of how my coworker Scott Albertine put it: "Consciousness is what running the algorithm feels like from the inside."
All of that said, I still consider myself a spiritual person. By spirituality, I mean belief in things that are larger than myself, appreciation of beauty, commitment to certain rules of moral behavior, such as the Golden Rule. Spirituality does not require belief in miracles.
Alan Lightman, "Probable Impossibilities"
(His other work, "Mr. g", does a great job creating a mythology that is compatible with our shared humanist sense of science and of ethics.)
On average, each galaxy is separated from the nearest neighboring galaxy by ten or twenty galaxy diameters.
Alan Lightman, "Probable Impossibilities"
I thought galaxies were more widely spaced than that!

April 21, 2021

You know your old when you clean your house to the music you use to get drunk too.
coot32, /r/showerthoughts

caesar i came i saw greek letters tumblr gif

April 22, 2021

Rozsa Melinda finds shows how much gender bias is baked into Google Translate as it translates from Hungarian (which uses gender neutral pronouns) into English -

(Via This tweet embedded in this article on Cracked.)

That's a serious problem with machine learning - it picks up the biases of the data it's trained on.

Hell, I'd go further than that and say it's a problem with humans. It seems like our Right Hemisphere may well be the seat of our deep, long-lived wisdom. But it's a product of its environment, just like everything else - but its pronouncements seem just so fundamentally true. So if the structure you grow up in is sexist and racist, sexism and racism are just going to seem like obvious truth.
Happy Earth Day.

How old school is Arlington?

April 23, 2021


April 24, 2021

made a clumsy video about my atari 2600 homebrew tool project...

April 25, 2021

Something beats nothing by an infinite amount.
Angela Duckworth (on the No Stupid Questions podcast)

April 26, 2021


April 27, 2021

"Everyone on the internet? They're not having as great a time as you think they are."
"I guess people are just cropping out all the sadness."

April 28, 2021

NY Times all the steps to make the Pfizer vaccine. I am sort of alarmed by the "handcrafted" nature of it! But somewhat soothed by the number of checks.

April 29, 2021

I've adopted not being judgmental and always giving the benefit as kind of a life style (which is a bit problematic at work where we're supposed to do thorough reviews of other developer's code...)

This goes way back... when I was helping judge auditions for my singing group in college, my nickname was "C'mon guys, she wasn't THAT bad was she?"

Sometimes I feel like Walter MonheitTM, the Movie Publicist's Friend, in the much lamented Spy magazine:

So a while back I think I mentioned Spy magazine's run is online. And also, how fresh it looks even today... in some ways it's like Spy was the last hurrah of magazines, and all that snark got transferred onto the web.
(oh and I guess Walter Monheit was a real guy, the "oldest club kid" - you can catch a few obituaries of his as well.
Interesting tweet thread on how market economies slide into aristocracies. You can't have a society that is maximally just to individuals and maximally free, because given their druthers most humans will favor kin.

April 30, 2021

hacker burns through glucose reserves over a year and gives himself seizures. - I didn't realize such a thing was possible, but I've always been a little dense about the body-mind relationship, like when I was startled to realize I played head to head falling block puzzle games better when I sat up vs when I was reclined, even though I thought I was equally focused in both postures.
"Negroes always love our hometowns," he said. "Even though we're always from the worst places. Only white folks got the freedom to hate home."
Brit Bennett, "The Vanishing Half"
For better or worse, the speaker is from the projects of Cleveland.
"Deserve is a bullshit term," her yoga instructor boyfriend said. "None of us deserves anything. We get what we get."
Brit Bennett, "The Vanishing Half"

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