2021 May❮❮prevnext❯❯

May 1, 2021


May 2, 2021


Open Photo Gallery

Two weekend thoughts: It took me a weirdly long time to notice that the closest Dunkin' Donuts is one that I used to go to when I lived in Arlington before, and is actually at the end of my street...
Also, assembling IKEA furniture... I would really love to see an F1 tire changing team type group put together one of these things
Some astounding PETSCII art by christwoballs...

Strong Jim Woodring energy

april 2021 new music playlist

Into the Mystic
Van Morrison
Good ol' Van Morrison, his recent frustrations with quarantine not withstanding.
Thought about this song as we moved next to the Mystic River, but listening more closely realize... it's about the sea! And I don't remember noticing the clever foghorn sound before.
Groove is in the Heart
HonkyTonk Party Band
You know, usually I'm a sucker for goofy country covers and ANY cover of Groove, but... I guess because it uses the bassline as an intro and then loses it, it's not so interesting.
Someone posted it on the School of Honk FB group. and I do love playing it with them :-D

Boomers Got the Vax
SNL has these really polished hiphop videos... "money- stacks. pants- khaks. arm- vaxxed. no- mask" "i m m, u n, i, t y - that's what I got. I got bodies, anti-"

Fix A Fault
The Sound Down Cellar
The first (and my favorite) of 3 songs me and my tuba appear in this month! (All by some work I did last year w/ The Sound Down Cellar.) I even have a cameo in the music video.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger (feat. Swatkins)
Scary Pockets
Five stars! This band is like the best funkifying-cover band ever.
Cut Your Losses
The Sound Down Cellar
More sedate song, again with me and my tuba Scheiny in it.

You and I and George
Rowlf the Dog
Novelty song, a little shmaltzy. (googling I'm surprised to find it's not a muppet original.)
Found in a ranking of the 25 best muppets
Frankie and Johnny
King Oliver
Late 20s (the 1920s), Tuba-heavy cover of the classic.
I got to thinking about tubas in jazz and what not, and this was referenced in A Contender for John Coltrane's Favorite Tuba Player

Creep (feat. India Carney)
Scary Pockets
Another great funkified cover.
Hungry Eyes
The Sound Down Cellar
Final of the 3 I worked on with The Sound Down Cellar. I do like that bump bump badumpabump bassline.
Reasons I Drink
Alanis Morissette
More recent autobiographical stuff!
Melissa mentioned this song, was surprised I hadn't heard of it.
Let It Be
JP Cooper
Polished cover, but I'm not sure it brings much new.
Buy Me a Condo
"Weird Al" Yankovic
This song from my childhood came to mind last month, mostly 'cause of the title. I guess it's more making fun of suburbia, but listening now the rasta parody swings a bit near musical blackface, though it's not mean spirited.
If I Only Played The Tuba
Pat Scanlon And Friends
I see Scanlon at Veterans for Peace events, and he gave me or I bought his 2 CD set, finally got to listening to it. This was my favorite, mostly because of the tuba reference. But he's a solid folk protest singer!

You Can Do It
Ice Cube
I missed this one back in the day, even though Mellisa quotes the refrain a lot. Acoustically it's so interesting - kind of a mix of skipping CDs or Windows 95 sound glitching...
Saw it in this INCREDIBLE AMAZING DANCE instagram video that leans into the computer-glitching theme in a totally organic way.

Pfizer #2 in the arm. Ready to surf any side effects confident it's a hell of a lot less than the COVID :-D
Pfizer #2 in the arm. Ready to surf any side effects confident it's a hell of a lot less than the COVID :-D

more like "CRAPTURE" amirite?

Very thoughtful piece on Evangelicals and how expectations of the Rapture looms so large for them.

(I think it underplays the who pre-Trib/mid-Trib/post-Trib angle... for some Christians, they cut the bitterness of it all with sugar of "Well God loves US BELIEVERS *too much* to let us go through the bad stuff, so we're going to be whisked away with a Get-Out-Of-Apocalypse-Free card" - an angle I really resented when I was more of a fearful, post-trib believer, waiting for all good Christians to get rounded up here on Earth, and then only later would things be rebalanced)

The Salvation Army I grew up with was- to its credit - much more about doing good work in the here and now than this stuff, but still, it had a bit of brimstone about, and I think trauma about the fear of hell and the stuff in Revelation was one of my most formative influences... gotta get right with God, subjugate anything I might personally want to whatever God wants, lest I burn in hell forever.

It took me a while to realize there are flavors of Christianity that lacked that kind of f***ed-up-ness!

And man, it is pretty f***'d. Both individually - coercing people into staying in line with the church - and then institutionally. You can't expect people to be good stewards of the planet or even of society when they they are convinced Earth has hit its "Sell By" date and nothing we do matters.
A bunch of people, plus a band, has more power than just a bunch of people.
Forgot to post this last month! I'm pretty happy with how I was able to present what BABAM is trying to do, though I absolutely didn't call our backing of the big BLM counterprotest/parade in 2017 a "personal" triumph

I like this

May 5, 2021

Two contrasting articles, and I realized they're both from The Atlantic.

One is on people who aren't going to take the vaccine. I think most of these folks are being personal wusses (none of the sets of side effect are all THAT bad) and ignoramuses about how public health works, but I think it's good to try to see where they are coming from: "This is the no-vaxxer deep story in a nutshell: *I trust my own cells more than I trust pharmaceutical goop; I trust my own mind more than I trust liberal elites‪.*"

The second (with some coverage of Somerville, where I just moved from) hits even closer to home: The Liberals Who Can't Quit Lockdown.

Where and how to get off the quarantine treadmill is a tricky one! There's absolutely an aspect of group affiliation, as well as a culture of caution and anxiety, that moves beyond what the science is saying. Masks - besides doing their job of disrupting the spread - have become a short had for "I give a shit about science and public health". And now we're in a middle zone, where someone going without a mask might just be vaccinated up and aware of the minimized risk, or they might be a yahoo who has always preferred to roll the dice.

Switching gears is tough. I used to kind of roll my eyes at people outdoors who would go mask down but then raise it when other's approached, but now it seems like a reasonable compromise. (Of course, the vaccine situation was different when my prejudice was born) Admittedly outdoors plus a little space has always been maybe not as dangerous as some of us have feared.

Silver lining of walking outdoors mask down/mask up - it really makes you appreciate the freshness of outdoor air!

(Man, The Atlantic really seems to be near the top of the production of thoughtful articles, I'm glad I'm a subscriber.)

May 6, 2021

Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.
John Stuart Mill (possibly the source of "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." which is probably not Edmund Burke)

We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.
Elie Wiesel

I ponder on these quotes, because they certainly challenge the kind of taoist/buddhist-ish equanimity I try to live. Like, I think a lot of damage is done by people firmly grasping opinions, and follow the brain's inclination to decide "Am I on team 'All For' or 'Absolutely Against' this?"

Looking up the "Have Fewer Opinions" I found this essay on it, and the socially-driven, ad-hoc, post-facto irrational justification for so much of what we do.

Rolling Stone's Top 100 Sitcoms list is very thoughtful and fun to read.
The older you get the more you realise you didn't grow up in a 'where', you grew up in a 'when'.
Alexander_Wrote, /r/showerthoughts

May 7, 2021

Happy International Tuba Day

(via Andrew Huang)
Four Years After Arkansas Executed Ledell Lee, DNA Points to Someone Else Need a reason to hate the death penalty? (Or Trump SCOTUS appointees?) Here you go, innocent people, put to death in your name!

May 8, 2021

"Ok, we just got our second shot, Sarah how you feeling?"
"Freakin' GREAT"
"I feel mixed, but then it occurs to me that I almost always feel mixed."
John Green on "The Anthropocene Reviewed"

May 9, 2021

"War and violence are not very funny," said Sharon, "unless they happen to you--then they are funny because they haff to be."
Neil Stephenson, "The Big U"
So interesting to know it as a parody of BU in the 1980s - but very violent and chaotic "Illuminatus! Trilogy" energy. Some "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" references as well.

May 10, 2021


How Delicious to Say It,

to allow it like hibiscus to wend over the tongue
where it opens at the gate, lending its red, unknowable
taste. What wonder the palate may embrace – in a flick
behind the teeth: loquacious, Liebchen, Schätzchen.
Let us praise the labium that shapes such syllables, and
parlay of their attendant assumptions like a shuttlecock
struck back and forth over its simple backyard net.
Let us not neglect, but laud the mature mouth ready
for more than a dollop, the spoonful of lip, loon,
April, billow, or some simple pronoun. No. It wants jouissance,
Dostoevsky, provocations heating the exchange, say
chipotles in the chocolate. Consider the uvular awakenings
of the day, the throat stretched to signify its pleasure and release.
Your name spun through the reel, wound up from the bass
of me. How I want to say it, and hear my own, again.

for Matthew

--Vievee Francis
via the poetry unbound podcast. What a sensual poem!

on pascal's pensées

Some reading I was doing touched on Pascal (of "Pascal's Wager" fame) - he was really an interesting character, hanging with both ascetics and libertines, and very thoughtful.

Glyn Hughes' Squashed Philosophers offers an interesting compression of his "Thoughts" ("Pensées")... I wanted to jot down some that really jumped out at me, and some reactions.

3. Those who are accustomed to judge by feeling do not understand the process of reasoning, for they would understand at first sight and are not used to seek for principles. And others, on the contrary, who are accustomed to reason from principles, do not at all understand matters of feeling, seeking principles and being unable to see at a glance.
This really gets into the left brain / right brain type stuff I've been looking into lately. Finding the balance between feeling and thinking is so tough.
122. Time heals griefs and quarrels, for we change and are no longer the same persons. Neither the offender nor the offended are any more themselves.
Interesting point on the "you can't step in the same river twice" type thinking... and our relationship to our past and future selves. There's continuity, but not quite identity.
233. Yes; but you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked. You are in the game. Which will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have two things to lose, the true and the good; and two things to stake, your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun, error and misery. Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God exists. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. [...] Now, what harm will befall you in taking this side? You will be faithful, humble, grateful, generous, a sincere friend, truthful. Certainly you will not have those poisonous pleasures, glory and luxury; but will you not have others? I will tell you that you will thereby gain in this life, and that, at each step you take on this road, you will see so great certainty of gain, so much nothingness in what you risk, that you will at last recognise that you have wagered for something certain and infinite, for which you have given nothing.
The famous wager. My main problem is that it seems to imply that there's only one bet to be made, where some of my loss of faith came from realizing there were so many other people making the same wager on other religions. To be fair, later in the work he does address comparative religion, a bit. I don't find his outlining of why Christianity is not just unique, but uniquely unique, quite convincing but I appreciate how he grapples with it.
148. We are so presumptuous that we would wish to be known by all the world, even by people who shall come after, when we shall be no more; and we are so vain that the esteem of five or six neighbours delights and contents us.
After working on my blog for 20 years (and currently toiling on tools for the small Atari homebrew community ) - I feel called out. Or seen. One of those.
320. The most unreasonable things in the world become most reasonable, because of the unruliness of men. What is less reasonable than to choose the eldest son of a queen to rule a State? We do not choose as captain of a ship the passenger who is of the best family.

This law would be absurd and unjust; but, because men are so themselves and always will be so, it becomes reasonable and just. For whom will men choose, as the most virtuous and able? We at once come to blows, as each claims to be the most virtuous and able. Let us then attach this quality to something indisputable. This is the king's eldest son. That is clear, and there is no dispute. Reason can do no better, for civil war is the greatest of evils.

I've always been kind of interested in monarchists. I'm certainly not one of them, but they make stronger cases against people advocating "meritocracies" than I previously realized.
358. Man is neither angel nor brute, and the unfortunate thing is that he who would act the angel acts the brute.
I think it's the certainty of angels that is the problem.
433. After having understood the whole nature of man. That a religion may be true, it must have knowledge of our nature. It ought to know its greatness and littleness, and the reason of both. What religion but the Christian has known this?
So, sometimes I have to realize I don't know enough about different religions to mount a full argument, but parts of his reasoning seem misguided to me.

Christianity has a lot of different faces - it's a weird amalgamation of "Unknowable, Ineffable Sky God" and Gods walking among us as flesh - and a few things in between. So there's definitely a temptation that its heterogenous nature is what enables it to be the unique "all things for all people" - but then I know Hinduism has an even richer set of different flavors. (not to mention a sense of scale of the history of the Universe that's a bit more in line with what science points to.)

599. The difference between Jesus Christ and Mahomet. Mahomet was not foretold; Jesus Christ was foretold. Mahomet slew; Jesus Christ caused His own to be slain. Mahomet forbade reading; the Apostles ordered reading.
In this thought and others I seem Pascal as taking a lot of things at face value; like he seems to implicitly be accepting that HIS holy texts have received divine protection and can always be taken at face value.

my world and welcome to it

Finally got the art up in my office, furniture bought, and things more or less arranged. (Predictably, I moved from "don't find a place for stuff you don't want, get rid of it" to "just find a place for it, declutter later" fairly quickly, sigh.)

I really wish I had documented all the spaces I've lived in better, and maybe worked in as well. (That's advice I'd give anyone!) Like here's the Alleyoop office in 2011, and the inlaw apartment I had in 2008

So, the interesting (to me) bits, from left-to-right, top-to-bottom: The room has a strong Animal Crossing energy, so full of random stuff and in a kind of square-ish arrangement... it's a little weird how I've put as much thought into what looks good behind me in a webcam as to what I look at as I work.

I know it seems a little self-indulgent, but I think everyone with the resources to should consider making a single space for themselves that makes them happy.

May 13, 2021

We often have to explain to young people why study is useful. It's pointless telling them that it's for the sake of knowledge, if they don't care about knowledge. Nor is there any point in telling them that an educated person gets through life better than an ignoramus, because they can always point to some genius who, from their standpoint, leads a wretched life. And so the only answer is that the exercise of knowledge creates relationships, continuity, and emotional attachments. It introduces us to parents other than our biological ones. It allows us to live longer, because we don't just remember our own life but also those of others. It creates an unbroken thread that runs from our adolescence (and sometimes from infancy) to the present day. And all this is very beautiful.
Umberto Eco

We do put bras on if the family requests. And the reality is I've probably put on more bras than I have taken off.
Really enjoyable if incredibly morbid video! I do have strong doubts about the specifics of a typical USA funeral - all this rigamarole to try to fake up a lively-looking corpse, and then hang out with it for a bit, but only in specific ways, seems unnatural to me, along with the urgency of trying to keep the coffin all watertight and pristine, but still, great video.
Why do paedophiles always have beards and glasses? What is it about that look that children find so sexy?
Frankie Boyle
This is joke is in horrific taste but it is the only one from the GTA IV comedy clubs that has stuck with me.

rule of thirds redux

A while back I took a photography class, and of course was introduced to the "rule of thirds", using a "tic-tac-toe" board to help line up things in the shot. (Most cameras/apps have an option to show the thirds.) So I asked my instructor... "this rule of thirds thing... like sometimes we use it to put things in the squares:

Other times the point seems to be to place things on the separating lines or intersections:

So which is it?"

Her wishy-washy response taught me the lesson: mostly it's just a trick to stop newbie photographers from centering every damn shot.

Myth #4 of this video agrees with this observation:

Oh look, raising money for the coordinated nationwide voter suppression laws effort !
Cory Doctorow on 20 years of blogging. He points out publishing as such an important part of elevation from a regular "commonplace book" (Also he gets a lot of value from a "this day in history" feature, something I dig on my site as well.)

20 years is a long time to keep at a personal project, but my blogging habit has paid for itself many times over. Any half-remembered quote is at my fingertips, and I have a place for my history of photos that I control. It's not the social nexus that it was for me in the early-2000s, but that's ok too.

May 15, 2021

Can bladder capacity be built up? Or is it innate?
When I was in high school chemistry classes, one of the (sensible) rules was "DON'T DRINK FROM THE LABWARE". Being (insensible) teens, my best friend Mike and I decided to ask if it was ok to bring our own containers and drink from them. The teacher consented, and in our (not-very) boundary pushing way we made a point of consuming these vast sports bottles full of water.
Chemistry was the final two periods of the day, and then I had to catch a school bus home... by the time I made it home my bladder would be practically bursting. (Being, as I said, an insensible teen, I would time the length of passing water with the stopwatch built into the side of my yellow "sports" walkman.)
So you know, mostly harmless juvenile shenanigans. But I wonder, could there be a benefit? So many of my friends seem to have teacup bladders! But my capacities are vast... holding urine among them. Do I have my dorky faux-rebellious teen years to thank? Or is it just one of those things?
(In retrospect I do suspect there are some dangers to pressing bladderly limits, so I'm not making any training recommendations but still)
Bruce the (malfunctioning) Animatronic shark in Jaws:

May 16, 2021

Someone on tumblr posted this musclebound sonic saying sweet somethings and it sort of stuck in my head. It's... well not quite classically NSFW, but definitely not SFW.
You're a Jehova's Witness?
What's Jehova accused of?
Oglaf.com (funny but very R-rated webcomic)

Quaker Oats has a Cocoa and Sea Salt variety that is basically molten Cocoa Krispies.
But the truth is that bad information is everywhere. As foreign bureaus become a thing of the past, there are fewer reporters on the ground. Journalism is supposed to be a labor-intensive business, one that requires digging up facts. Today, there's a glut of information out there for free, but most of it has been put there for a reason.
James Harkin in Harper's, about the NY Times' debunked podcast "Caliphate", about a Canadian who claimed to have traveled to the "Islamic State" and was a police officer there.

May 17, 2021

Happy two jabs plus two weeks day to me!
Instead of remembering useful things, my brain decided that a Diet Pepsi jingle ("Now you see it, Now you don't / That Great Pepsi Taste / Diet Pepsi won't go to your waist") from my youth (look at the design of those cans!) would be a good thing to spotlight.

I went to find the ad on YouTube - HOLEE COW are these ads little sugar-coated (or rather artificial sweetener covered) dollops of sexuality and skinny-body-idealization. What a weird thing to have grown up with.

Sometimes I am bummed that I haven't done anything interesting enough to merit my own Wikipedia page. But today I saw a guy walking around Boston with a sandwich board (front only) talking about the Prophet Kacou Philippe. But he doesn't even have a Wikipedia page! So I feel a little bit that even a prophet from Africa - accomplished enough to get folks wearing his posters in Boston, regardless of his supernatural qualifications - doesn't even merit a page.

To paraphrase The Doors... "Did you have a good life when you died, enough to base a Wikipedia page on?"
Instead of "Marco!" "Polo!" neighbor kids are doing "Burrito!" "Microwave!"? Is that a thing

May 18, 2021

When you stop laughing, that's when the trouble begins.

Especially now as we hear the yaps of anti-Maskers, it's so weird that the USA which makes SO much hay about personal liberty - is so uptight about child rearing, like relative to the Germans.

But then, when I think about the practice of applying this level of liberty to USAian kids, like what demographics have the least amount of interventionist parenting, I tend to think of images of neglect, not hands off support.

I dunno. It's easy for a progressive like me to start thinking about the USA in the same way I've heard Brazilians disparage their own country. We can be so advanced in some ways and such yokels in other.

(On facebook, a friend pointed out this goes in hand with Germany having a stay-at-home-parent presumption, which complicates it a bit)

May 19, 2021

It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.
Major General Smedley Butler, USMC in 1933

Managed to replace oven light making job only 8 times extra difficult than it needed to be.

May 20, 2021

i knew i matured when i realized every situation doesn't need a reaction, sometimes you just gotta leave people to do the dumb shit they do

Guy Transforms Space Behind Wall Into Bedroom For His Cat Heh. I do wonder about videos for cats, as well as when an indoor cat gets to see birds and squirrels outside... do they love it as something interesting or is it just frustration as something they can't get?
"Who do you think you are?" is actually a pretty powerful question when you don't swing it like a hammer.
drukqsx, /r/showerthoughts

May 21, 2021

They must understand that budgets are moral documents -- reflections of who and what we value.
"Budgets are moral documents" is sometimes attributed to MLK Jr but it's not clear if it was him. Still an interesting idea.

May 22, 2021

Birthday Party Fun!

kirk's epistemology korner

A few ideas I've had banging around in my head, but I'm not sure I can get to where I want to go in terms of expressing myself. Like, I'm putting in terms of religion, but really it's all about morality and the epistemology of how on earth we deal with competing views of the truth

For starters: Some people see Atheism vs Faith as a spectrum, with agnosticism in the mushy middle (Fig A)

But what's critical to understand is there's a swerve. Strong atheism and strong faith share a kind of certainty. Agnosticism - whether of Socrates's sense of "the question is complex and life is short" or the more militant idea of "we REALLY can't KNOW this but it's CRUCIAL we keep trying" - is a different beast. (Fig 2)

So what caused my crisis of faith as a teen was pondering on how many different firmly held and incompatible faiths there were in the world. Like, they CAN'T all be true in the sense that many of them claim to be completely and UNIVERSALLY true! So we get something like Fig 3:

So, there's the "existential" approach to resolving this conundrum - there's no absolute truth, everyone is entitled to define their own truth. You see this with cold french philosophers and more warmly with people who talk about "My Truth" (Fig 4)

One attempt to get around this dilemma is to figure that the truth is emergent, or the kind of "many paths" approach favored by New England Unitarian Universalists. If you turn from religious faith to morality, you can get a sense of "morality is the consensus of what people say is moral" (Fig 5)

In the end, I find those unsatisfying. Maybe I'm too influenced by the omnipotent, omniscient God of my youth - (the idea of there being a "view from God's Throne, even if I'm not sure anyone or anything actually has a butt in that chair) - but I guess in the end I'm stuck with something like Fig 6 - there's The Truth, but it is uncertain, and we compare notes with others to try to get a more likely guess as to its contents. (And the kind of "special revelation" that many religions are founded on is EXTREMELY suspect.) Other folk have a hard time getting how deeply this strident uncertainty drives me. It is the fundamental theme of my life.

Like I've commented before, this view makes me both more empathetic (I do not overvalue my best guesses and preferences over others) and less empathetic (I am not inclined to respect how much credence others put in their faiths and preferences.) It also makes me inclined to put what's good for a group ahead of my personal desires... the overarching desire to be good for the group and thus closer to what's good overall trumps my smaller preferences, though in healthy groups what the group wants takes my preferences into account.
I am sitting at my kitchen table waiting for my lover to arrive with lettuce and tomatoes and rum and sherry wine and a big floury loaf of bread in the fading sunlight. Coffee is percolating gently, and my mood is mellow. I have been very happy lately, just wallowing in it selfishly, knowing it will not last very long, which is all the more reason to enjoy it now. I suppose life always ends badly for almost everybody. We must have long fingers and catch at whatever we can while it is passing near us.
Tennessee Williams, from his "Notebooks"
I'd be tempted to buy a copy but it doesn't seem to be available in digital format.

I do like the journal form. I thought Carrie Fisher's and Lena Dunham's were especially good. Any recommendations?

May 24, 2021

Surges in Americans' preferred drugs of choice seem to always align with what is available in the region our nation is invading.
asha bandele and Patrisse Cullors, "When They Call You a Terrorist"

We just don't discuss romance much because, well, it's weird. He's my dad regardless. But my friends and my lifestyle make my Queerness pretty obvious and he couldn't care less. He just wants to roll with me. And this, I realize, is what his family cherishes in him. This total absence of judgment. He's easygoing as hell, the original live-and-let-live man. His warmth runs over you like the waters in the hot springs of Central California, enveloping and clean and what you want more and more and more of.
asha bandele and Patrisse Cullors, "When They Call You a Terrorist"

In California there are more than 4,800 barriers to re-entry, from jobs, housing and food bans, to school financial aid bans and the list goes on. You can have a two-year sentence but it doesn't mean you're not doing life.
asha bandele and Patrisse Cullors, "When They Call You a Terrorist"

May 25, 2021

Been fooling around with a mobile app "Prisma", high-powered, sometimes AI-backed filters.

People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along?
Rodney King
It's a shame that sentences gets mildly misquoted and in a joking way, because the sentiment is so sincere and important.

I dunno. Maybe it's my solid impregnable solid core of ego afloat on fluffy clouds of different vapors of privilege. Intellectually I see how people need to part ways for their own protection but in my heart of hearts I just see a lot of people struggling for good causes. I mean objectively they're not all good causes and sometimes they conflict but personally I don't encounter real malice that often, at least not that I can recognize.
One of the invitations and, I think, perhaps the main invitation of this poem is to go beyond the technicalities of the poem, to go beyond the language of the poem and the beauty of the poem and to actually go and taste something -- a peach perhaps, or a strawberry, whatever you like -- and then to gather all of the seasons and life and sadnesses and joys and laborers and people who worked and the consideration of the story, all gathered into the taste of this sweetness -- and then, to let that taste itself be a poem that you're living in.

(grabbed FB's avatar-message-display thing because it seemed to be particularly on target)

applications and appliances that think they know

We recently got a condo and it came with a microwave that is much more powerful than our old one. One thing I find irksome about it is the message that comes up when the heating cycle is done:


I hate the presumption, that the appliance knows what I'm doing! It just doesn't! Maybe it's food that has a multi-step form of preparation! Or maybe I'm heating up a beverage! Eh? Eh? Ever think of that you stupid microwave? That's why we say "food AND drink". Or maybe we're warming a heating pad or something! Yeah, you're convenient at heating up moisture-laden things but you're not the end-all be-all of food preparation, stay in your lane.

Similar deal for Google Maps. I felt it was a bit overbold to say "Welcome Home" when I arrived after plotting the landmark I labeled as "Home" - like, you're not my part of my household, dude. But worse is finishing a trip and the destination was a restaurant... like I think it says "Bon Appetit!" or whatever. What if I was just using the restaurant as a landmark? The cyber-chumminess is grating.

I know my gripes seem petty, but they're all a hallmark of more fundamental problems when a designer assume they understood the fullness of a usecase and then try to make convenience that only apply to that usecase, and mask the underlying details of the task. Like a smart appliance that "learns" from when you change the thermostat, but then of course has no idea to stop doing that when you're on vacation. Or AI-ish stuff that offers to make an appointment in your calendar based on the content of an email. The hit rate is pretty 50/50 in terms of it getting enough context to do it properly - and while I'm sort of lax about privacy I have mixed feelings about a corporate-backed AI smart enough to do it well reading all my mail.

I much prefer tools that focus on a single task, that don't assume they know what you want to do before you do, and that "show their work" so when they do misguess they are easily corrected, and if the user wants to do something slightly off the well-beaten path they understand the underlying actual concepts, it's not just "computer always did it for me!" magic. Systems that are all built on "Guess What I Mean" philosophy often make you pay for the extra convenience with later frustration.
Melissa and I watched Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" about the Paleolithic Paintings in Chauvet Cave, the oldest we've found.

Would have been better in 3D as it was originally released. (Interesting that 3D TVs turned out to be a fad?) Also kind of funny to here Herzog drop a mentioning a line going from early "Venus" figurines to "Baywatch".

Watching this for the monthly UU "Science and Spirituality" group that meets in Belmont (well still Zoom for the time being). Let me know if you'd be interested in joining!

Yeah I knew the [pseudo-anonymous retrospective comment] was Kirk, he's the only one who uses the word 'wonky'
Eric at work

Time to say farewell to unmatched socks

Time to say farewell to unmatched socks


May 27, 2021

I don't think parents necessarily understand all that much about their children. What you see of them is what they can't help being or doing, rather than what they intend, and it leads to all kinds of misapprehensions. Many parents, for instance, become convinced that their child has artistic talent, when that child has no intention whatsoever of becoming an artist! It's all so many stabs in the dark, the business of trying to predict how a child will turn out--I suppose we do it to make bringing them up more interesting and to pass the time, the way a good story passes the time, when all that really matters is that afterward they're able to go out into the world and stay there. I believe they know this themselves better than anyone.
Oh man do I feel this for my super-niece Cora. Especially since it's like I only have two useful skills to show her, programming computers and making music, and only one of those pays the bills. On the other hand if she wants a knack to try and view problems from every angle and be weirdly incapable of judging things, I'm her teacher!
Say the purpose of sex isn't procreation or recreation. Say it's concentration. Say it makes you focus on the person you're sleeping with, 'cause there's just too many other people in the world. It's like biological highlighter. [...] Look for me first, in any crowded room, and I'll do the same.
Lyle Lovett in "The Opposite of Sex"

The Supreme Court has the ability to surprise and/or shock. In 2015 - not that long ago, especially in this messed-up sense of decades - they legalized Gay Marriage. That was a pleasant surprise for people who love freedom and equality.

Here's another shock that's coming up, but not a surprise, so progressives can be braced for it: Roe v Wade is being set up to be chopped down. States will have free rein to set up whatever restrictions they want. Yahoos in the legislature will be free to shove their (generally influenced by their interpretation of their religion - lets be honest here) interpretation of when a human life is made into a standalone person (well, well before viability in their book - in fact well before the pregnancy is known) The folks w/ the wombs and their doctors won't be consulted, the big daddy legislature knows best.

From the article: "If you live in a blue state where there is an abortion rights majority, urge your legislators to be stalwarts preserving reproductive freedom, providing a welcome refuge for women forced to travel from hostile climes where rights have fallen. Massachusetts and Virginia are just two of the states that have recently passed omnibus laws providing statutory protections for abortion and repealing restrictions. The availability of safe and legal abortion in a patchwork of states can provide much needed shelter, particularly when combined with funding for travel, child care, and other related expenses. And if you live in a purple state, work to make it blue."

Combine this with Kavanaugh bullshit pivot on state-sanctioned execution methods - and realize what a moral catastrophe - an absolute trainwreck of our priorities of human rights and freedoms - this guy who Really Likes Beer is for this nation.

May 28, 2021


Man it has been way too long since I've been on a rollercoaster. Always a little bummed that a lot of my friends don't dig 'em.
The present tense of regret is indecision.
Welcome to Night Vale, via

Be proud of your place in the Cosmos. It is small and yet it is.
Welcome to Night Vale, via

Death is only the end if you assume the story is about you.
Welcome to Night Vale, via

Are we living a life that is safe from harm? Of course not. We never are. But that's not the right question. The question is are we living a life that is worth the harm?
Welcome to Night Vale, via

An in-depth look to the 3 pronged attack on our nation's capitol - you know, the one Republicans are unwilling to look into FOR SOME REASON.

So with the tactics used, with the main bunch of MAGA-hats at the front were a diversion for the two other entries of Oath Keepers and Proud Boys which was sort of smart, but luckily mistakes were made after.
Thinking on the "specialness" of Boston racism.

Sometimes in my bubble, full of folks who would say they are "not racist" (who at least feel that everyone is equal, though may not admit the systematic inequities baked in) and then well-meaning progressive who strive to be anti-racist (who recognize and are willing to to fight against the inequities) it seems weird to hear comedians specifically call Boston out as a punchline as The racist city.

It's frustrating to know that Boston carries this reputation, and that it's not just an artifact of, like, the Red Sox being the last team to desegregate or the Celtics being the 80's bastion of white basketball (after some initial firsts, like first Black drafted player, first all Black starting lineup, first Black head coach) or anti-Bus protests and that asshole attacking a Black guy with a flag

Trying to reconcile how folks in my bubble, while not perfect, are at least aware and will avoid being overtly racist, I think about this Slate review of "Gone Baby Gone"
Some cities are blessed with great filmmakers. New York has Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, and Spike Lee. Baltimore has Barry Levinson, David Simon, and John Waters. But the good people of Boston have been deeply unlucky in this regard. Whether it's the city's clannish insularity, the fine-bore segregation of its neighborhoods, or the mix of effete, overeducated latte swillers and "gritty, working-class" knuckleheads, Boston has never translated well on film.
So I dunno. I guess that's partially me just trying to say "well that's THEM, not US" (you know, the latte swillers not the knuckleheads) which could be a ducking of responsibility. But over all it's a f***ing bummer.

May 29, 2021

While a bit heavy on the ads side, pleated-jeans.com is a reliable well-measured (like enough, but not too too much) of daily funny or interesting stuff. I liked this 25 minor league team namesM list.

Most of them were in a line art style like that, I wish I knew how to reproduce it. I feel like it wouldn't be hard for an app to make a brush for, if I could just find it.
Bought some new jeans at Old Navy last night, dark. And "Slim". Historically I don't think of myself as a "slim person" and always slunked off to the seemingly more forgiving, looser cuts (especially "Levi Silver Tab Baggy" which was my go-to through most of the 90s) but now as I acknowledge my familial bodily legacy - specifically the "Scheinfeldt No-Ass", maybe Slim makes sense, vs various flavors of Loose or Baggy.

May 30, 2021

My fav bits from Patricia Lockwood's "No One Is Talking About This.": Warning if you get the book, which I'd recommend, it does deal with immense family tragedy.
Capitalism! It was important to hate it, even though it was how you got money. Slowly, slowly, she found herself moving toward a position so philosophical even Jesus couldn't have held it: that she must hate capitalism while at the same time loving film montages set in department stores.
Patricia Lockwood, "No One Is Talking About This."
It was a mistake to believe that other people were not living as deeply as you were.
Besides, you were not even living that deeply.
Patricia Lockwood, "No One Is Talking About This."
When she asked him once what his last meal would be, he replied, instantly and thoughtfully, "Banana. Because I wouldn't want to be full when I die."
Patricia Lockwood, "No One Is Talking About This."
White people, who had the political educations of potatoes--lumpy, unseasoned, and biased toward the Irish--were suddenly feeling compelled to speak out about injustice.
Patricia Lockwood, "No One Is Talking About This."
"Your attention is holy," she told the class, as her phone buzzed uncontrollably in her back pocket [...] "It is the soul spending itself."
Patricia Lockwood, "No One Is Talking About This."
why should I care what the founding fathers intended when none of them ever heard a saxophone
Patricia Lockwood, "No One Is Talking About This."
Why did rich people believe they worked harder? Her theory was that it was because they identified with the pile of money itself. And gathering interest, multiplying hotly, climbing its own slopes like a fever, heightening its silver, its gold, its green--what was that but work? When you thought about it that way, they never slept, but stayed wide-eyed as numerals 365 days a year, every last digit of them busy, awake in the clinking, the shuffle, the rustle, while eagles with pure platinum feathers swooped above them to create a wind. When you thought about it that way, of course they deserved it all, and looked with rightful contempt at the coppery disgraces all around them: those two cents that refused to even rub themselves together.
Patricia Lockwood, "No One Is Talking About This."
Despite everything, the world had not ended yet. What was the reflex that made it catch itself? What was the balance it regained?
You'll be nostalgic for this too, if you make it.
Patricia Lockwood, "No One Is Talking About This."

smbc rocks
If Fox News were around in 1955, we'd still have polio.

May 31, 2021


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