Tweet thread on why holding contradictory impulses ain't a problem in Trump-land. Because what it is the freedom to believe whatever the hell you want regardless of facts... "COVID is a Chinese plot but also a hoax"? Why not both? "The Capitol was attacked by antifa but Ashlii Babbit was a hero patriot." OK! "Trump should be praised for giving us the vaccines! And the vaccines are dangerous!" Sure!
As long as you're in on the support for the guy at the top, the ringmaster of this circus of full-throated nonsense, you can do all the clowning you want and feel great about it! Trump will tell you you're the best.
For such an interesting time (vaccines! birthday! new house!) kind of a mundane second every day...
Mesmerizing how steady juggling is... also The Kid Should See This looks like a great resource of kid-friendly science and culture videos.
I LIKE being stupid. You see things clearly. Being stupid is like squinting through the sunlight.
June 2, 2021
|Walking On Sunshine
|Brass band cover of the 80s classic.
This Basic Instructions comic says this "is still the best musical shorthand for happiness.", but I wanted to find a cover of it.
|Fast Car (feat. Dakota) [Radio Edit]
Background music at IKEA, of all places. The song has been on my mind after I participated in a Tufts A Cappella groups distanced cove of it. (Tracy Chapman went to Tufts but I don't think she liked it.)
Maldita Vecindad y Los Hijos del Quinto Patio
|Don't know the genre of this Latinx music but I dig it.
Playing on a radio station in GTA5
|Yesterday (feat. India Carney)
Now I'm hearing about Scary Pockets everywhere, didn't realize it was the Pomplamoose/Patreon guy.
This tumblr entry What was it about Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol that sent TV producers in the mid-2000s absolutely buck wild?
Megan Thee Stallion
|Not to be confused with "Hot Girl Summer", pretty good sex rap, big WAP energy.
Theme song, with puppets, from "A Black Lady Sketch Show" on HBO
|Machine made music with marbles. Like that old 3D card graphics demo but... unbelievably real?
|Uplifting Hip Hop, nice instrumentals.
Mentioned in Patrisse Khan-Cullors' book "When They Call You A Terrorist" as an empowering performance.
|The Girl from Ipanema
|Sweet cover. Gives the impression of being a one-person show?
I always want the lyric to be "But each day when she walks to the sea, she looks straight ahead not at he" despite the grammer.
|This version has Willie Nelson backing the chorus, which my version doesn't.
Mentioned in Cracked's Facts about Snoop Dogg
|I am a sucker for high school nostalgia stuff.
Even before she performed it live there SNL had a almost promotional skit about it.
|Rockabilly, liked it a little better than Chuck Berry's original. The reveal is a bit jarring til your realize he's singing about an estranged daughter.
The Johnny Rivers version of this song was allegedly played in Vietnam.
|Killing Me Softly (feat. India Carney)
|I think the last of the Scary Pockets covers for me for a while
|Wannabe ala NiN
|An AI trained on Nine Inch Nails is then told to try to finish up "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls.
I just finished Alison Bechdel's new comic "The Secret to Superhuman Strength", about the kind of intertwining of her work and history of physical exercise and psychological self-examination. I've always liked the insight into queer culture her "Dykes to Watch Out For" gave me, and her other autobiographical works have resonated for me as well.
This panel made me contrast my own psychological experience. Like, I don't have the same perfectionism, but I do have this sense that my value as a person isn't intrinsic - or at least not self-originating. My value ultimately is generated by interacting with the outside world. (But, maybe unlike Bechdel, I have a fundamentally secure ego that is pretty confident I'm pretty good, and so my struggles are with fixed mindset and how I avoid taking risks that would too clearly show my limits.)
This panel got me thinking about my much remarked-upon (by me) lack of intuition about personal growth. And like, any physical improvements I may have noted during times I've worked at it more have seemed... eh, not like significant, qualitative changes. But here's an insight that feels new: for me to admit to growth feels like a condemnation of my old self. Like it's hard to say "I'm stronger now" without thinking "well I was insufficiently strong then".
I was talking with Melissa a little about this. She gets annoyed at my trite "well I don't believe in personal growth" (So has our mutual colleges buddy David Hoberman at times). Like, I wasn't born talking, or playing tuba - clearly those were skills I grew and developed. I guess then it's more like... the potential people for growth is a mix of what they're born with and the environment they find themselves in. And for some reason, for me, that realization of finite potential overshadows what someone actually decides to do with that potential.
Another panel I liked for its bittersweetness nature.
Bechdel has some side passage ranging from Emerson to Margaret Fuller to Jack Kerouac. This panel on Fuller just made me think about "returning letters". What a weird antique form of cancel culture! Seems kind of alien to a nostalgic guy like me. And seemingly somewhat impossible in this day of electronic communication.
Finally this one gave me a chuckle, especially since I can empathize with the way she lost her father.
In my country we have a saying--Mickey Mouse will see you dead.(He's drunk delivering a speech to a hostile university audience in a fictional Central American nation but then admits there really isn't such a saying. But there should be!)
Oh hey there was a slightly-more-upbeat extra sequel to "Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism Video"
HUDS + GUIs picks up where
Typeset in the Future leaves off - studies of UI across science fiction movies and elsewhere. I love this stuff! I feel like "making future UI mockups" is a job right up there with the "LEGO engineer" I wanted to be when I was a kid...
Intelligence is to win an argument. Wisdom is to not argue in the first place.
Progressives can often get jealous of other countries - stuff like universal health care, sane gun laws, etc. But here's a fun list of 25 Random Things Americans Didn't Know The Rest Of The World Was Jealous Of...
so we're just powering through hot drunk trainwreck summer without processing all the grief, I love this for us it's like Hemingway going to the French Riviera after WWI
Man! I think there's something to this.
For me, value is an emergent property of groups. (Could even be a group like a couple.) We can - and must - still attend to our personal needs, and if a group is consistently ignoring our personal needs, we gotta bail! But I think evaluating everything by what's the most good for the most people - with us as one of those people - is a more moral way to be.
I've reached the halfway point of Iain McGilchrist's "The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World" where he pivots from the physiological to the cultural. The duality he focuses on (left hemisphere / rationalized / focused on what we want the world to be VS right hemisphere / intuitive / focused on what the world is) has a lot of names and manifestations: Nietzsche said Apollonian vs Dionysian, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance said the Classical way of knowing vs the Romantic (nice summary here.)
As always I'm distrustful of "intuitive" side. (Come to think of it, "I don't think my gut feelings are particularly trustworthy" is one of the earliest self-reflective tropes I remember making.) I think it's too easy to romanticize the intuitive - like I understand that our subconscious has a wisdom that the cleverness of the merely rational side lacks - the intuitive self has a viewpoint that is bigger and slower to form - but it's a product of its environment just like everything else is, and it doesn't have a special mainline connection to the Truth.
So combining that tweet dialog with "divided brain" thinking: siding with the "rational" brain, despite its emotional immaturity (frustration and willingness to confabulate when things "don't add up") is a form of radical, wide-ranging empathy. The rational brain is more about the exteriority - the surfaces where we connect - than our own murkier interiorities. It says the most important reality - the best place to draw our values from - is consensus reality. Rationality has error-correcting mechanisms and - in theory - the rationalistic brain is better posed to take other viewpoints into account (even though it also seems more likely to throw temper tantrums when its assumptions and desire to control the world are being challenged! Recognizing the source of that anger is a newer insight for me)
This brings me to my second point. Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God's will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.That "subject to argument, and amenable to reason" is a line that has stuck with me. I think it should apply to both ideas that spring from religious belief and that spring from personal intuition.
Went "rafting" the other day with friends, nice little bit of floating on inflatables, half in the water half out, lazy and wonderful. Kicking the flotilla back to the dock, got a visit from a swimming pup (in a super cute float vest with a shark fin) who knocked my phone (which had been fairly well wedged in the cupholder) into the murky depths. Whoops! 2/3 my fault for sheer, Murphy-temping hubris (though modern iPhones are really pretty decent for shallow underwater photography even without a special case - but I should have been using the floating bag when not in use.)
Luckily I had backed up the night before putting music on my phone and was able to buy new hardware. I was hoping to get at least another 15 months on the old phone but oh well.
The incident did show me my "Plan B"s were inadequate: like my friend let me borrow her "oldschool" Garmin GPS, and I should get one because my road atlas really wasn't much use (though maybe one of the old Boston-specific ones woulda sort of worked.) Also, yeah, I should write down some phone numbers on a card and then laminate it (or just wrap in clear tape) and put one in my wallet and one in my car. I know, like my number and MAYBE Melissa's.
Lets see, of my other everyday carries, what should I do if things get lost? Keys I have backups but only at home. Hmm. Sunglasses/Eyeglasses I have spares in my car and home. Wallet... bleh, but most of the cards are on the phone, but I should maybe scan all my credit cards and health stuff so if my wallet goes missing happens I know what's at risk.
Gun enthusiasts love mocking folks who want fewer assault weapons around for not knowing enough about guns, but hey, we do know the fucking difference between an AR-15 and a Swiss Army Knife?
In an experiment revealing the importance of having friendships, social psychologists have found that perceptions of task difficulty are significantly shaped by the proximity of a friend. In their experimental design, the researchers asked college students to stand at the base of a hill while carrying a weighted backpack and to estimate the steepness of a hill. Some participants stood next to close friends whom they had known a long time, some stood next to friends they had not known for long, and the rest stood alone during the exercise. The students who stood with friends gave significantly lower estimates of the steepness of the hill than those who stood alone. Furthermore, the longer the close friends had known each other, the less steep the hill appeared to the participants involved in the study. In other words, the world looks less difficult when standing next to a close friend.
The most wackadoodle things in Judge Benitez BS-laden decision to overturn CA's assault weapons ban. A judge really surfing fact free waves.
Anyone remember the kid's show "The Great Space Coaster"? Sort of a spiritual successor to H.R. Pufnstuf, and right behind "New Zoo Revue" in terms of impact. Stuff like "The Gnus with Gary Gnu" and "Speed Reader" ("he can read an entire news stand while doing a head stand! Speed Reader! Speed Reader!") really stuck with me.
Also here I cued the video to start at an odd cartoon about worms... (I love the device the guy uses in-show to play the clip... back then that was like future wackiness, now it's just any smartphone...) I think the worms were a big influence in how I cartooned for a while, really big nosed characters like from there and from the box art for Nerds candy.
Also I loved the way the "inhabited asteroid" setting looked, at the end of the intro, all those cool ramps and whatnot:
Happy Blade Runner 2049 Day!
Why the Red Sox = Dumb Cheap Skates
My longhouse is perfectly constructed. Every morning when I wake up in bed at the far end of my longhouse, I say my syllable. Then I spend all day sitting in bed. By sunset my syllable has traveled to the other end of my longhouse and back, and as it smacks me in the head, I fall asleep. My longhouse is perfectly constructed.
The field of geology can unlock a deep Dread in a similar way that the spaces between stars or the depths of the ocean can, something existential and primordial.For me, coming to terms with this kind of scale of personal insignificance and vast scale impermanence is an important part of self-care. I know for some, the wiser tactic is to steer clear of thinking about it, but I find if I really embrace the "This Fate" tattoo I added a few years ago (we get tattoos of things we love or aspire to love, so my tattoo is a loose translation of "Amor Fati") I am better positioned to cope with what my more immediate world confronts me with. For me, hiding from something - catching myself realize I'm distracting myself - gives that thing I'm hiding from a more power than it would otherwise have, confirms it as a potentially unmanageable threat.
I have learned about the moving and colliding and buckling of tectonic plates beneath the Earth's surface, how the crust is miles thick and the heat increases with every kilometer closer to the core. The forces it would take to push mountains miles into the sky and melt and compress rock and force continents to bend and break? How impossibly heavy a mile of stone must be?
Best not to think about it. You will never be crushed by a mile of stone, or warped and metamorphosed by the heat and pressure in the depths of the earth, or anything like that.
I mean. Perhaps you will be after you are dead, if you turn into a fossil. Lots of things that were once alive and breathing are now trapped so deep in the earth we will never find them, and they will never be exposed to light again.
...Just don't worry about it.
Geologic time, too, is crushing. The Grand Canyon forms a cross-section of millions of years of geologic history. Near the bottom, there is a layer of rock from the Cambrian period, the Tapeats Sandstone--about 500 million years old, and 230 feet thick. Good? Okay. Below that, a body of impossibly old rock called the Vishnu Schist, which is hundreds of millions of years older, from the Precambrian era.
(Why? Well, there's a gap in the record called the Great Unconformity, which represents hundreds of millions of years of geologic history just straight up fucking gone. We don't know why. Maybe don't think about that either.)
Rocks from the Precambrian era are rarely exposed to the surface, which is why fossils from then are so rare--and when we find fossils, they are of living things so alien, we have no words for them. Some of the Precambrian fossils are always being slowly, inexorably annihilated in the earth's molten mantle, pressed down and forced underneath continents to meet a death beyond death.
But I don't know what chills me more--the thought of those Precambrian fossils, records of living creatures so unlike us we cannot name them, slowly being subducted into the mantle, pushed underneath miles of stone into ever-increasing heat and pressure until they are erased forever from existence, or the thought--the reality--that they are simply...still down there. Deep, deep beneath us, locked in a primordial tomb that we cannot reach because it is just...too...deep.
We can find the imprints of microscopic organisms in stone that tell us that they lived, but being pushed underneath the earth and melted into magma? That's truly irretrievable annihilation. And it happens all the time.
I'm just saying. There's a reason people thought hell lay deep beneath the earth.
A delightful take on sudden plethoras of upcoming baby announcements
Simone Biles in Extreme Slow Motion:
Still strolling through "The Master and His Emissary" - about how our brain's left/right lateralization is a crucial key in understanding ourselves and cultural trends. (I've been reading this book since March! Though often in daily conjunction with another, easier read.)
McGilchrist is getting into written languages - pictographic vs idiographic vs phonetic. And he points out that even among phonetic languages, many (like ones that don't write out the vowels) depend on context more than others; I'd put it that you have to read more holistically to know what each word actually is, rather than a more reductionist system where each word more or less stands on its own.
(English gets a lot of "self-deprecation" from cosmopolitan first-language speakers of it for not being so elegant sounding, and for its spelling inconsistencies. But those inconsistencies reflect a larger than average draw from other languages. My understanding is that English is a pretty easy language to pick up the basics of (maybe because of that "reductionist" mode, without so many conjugation rules critical to making oneself understood) but also it has one of the largest vocabularies - a fluent speaker has a lot of near synonyms to choose from, each with a different nuance. (Like in that opening sentence, I chose "strolling" over walking, jogging, crawling, sauntering, ambling, puttering, moseying, cruising, etc))
I think a new thought I've had - bringing these ideas in line with my ingrained sense of the supremacy of consensus over personal preferences - is this contradiction of the left hemisphere (that McGilchrist argues is more reductionistic, and I'd say more prone to fury when the holistic world doesn't conform to its simplified, manipulable models) with its monopoly on language is the gatekeeper to learning about views outside our own experience! I think McGilchrist and many others over-romanticize the right hemisphere, the wisdom it carries from ingrained experience. It's a creation of its environment and its past as much as everything else is, but somehow carries a gravitas of Truth. But language - written and spoken, the ability to capture complex ideas and share them with new generations, to learn things from the experience of others without the risks and costs of doing everything ourselves - is a big part of what makes us unique as a species. Not to denigrate the interesting bits of language showing up in other species, but we do it on a scale this part of the universe hadn't seen, and that deeply informs my own practice of secular humanism.
Using the following as an excuse to say Arun should come over and keep my company as I attempt to build a flatpack TV stand...
For every thing that lives is holy, life delights in life;
Because the soul of sweet delight can never be defil'd.
Melissa and I watched Bo Burnham's "Inside" a few days ago.
"White Woman's Instagram"... dunno if it's punching down a little besides potentially yukking someone's yum, but damn he did such an amazing job making authentic looking versions of some of the tropes... it really made one think about the style of femininity the form represents.
31 details and references you might have missed in Bo Burnham's new Netflix special 'Inside' pointed out a further redeeming nuance; most of the video is square-cropped ala instagram, but the part that's emotionally opening up is reflected with the cropping widening as well.
The whole thing was kind of astounding insight into wrestling with depression and uncertainty and grinding out something artistically productive; like the odd cutaways of him making himself eat breakfast while reviewing the previous day's work.
Interesting piece on trauma, the thread leads to talking about autism spectrum issues as well.
For my dev blog, I posted a link to this article on how Apple with its M1 chip feels like Homer Simpson as new manager at the Bondish Villain's Evil Nuclear Lair, getting better work just by asking for it....
I do think of this scene a lot.
Peanut Butter is smoky pudding. Smoky pudding we've all consumed.
Viral videos greatest hits
*yelling at joggers* Why do you run? Do you feel the hot breath of God on your neck
There is an interesting question in the Summa of St. Thomas Aquinas and also in an old science fiction story, the name of which I forget, concerning the paradox of free will and predestined fate. It asks whether a man in making a great decision that will forever set the seal on his future does not also set the seal on his past. A man alters his future, and does he not also alter his past in conformity with it? Does he not settle not only what manner of man he will be, but also what manner of man he has been?Via a Wired piece on R. A. Lafferty, an enormously influential but not widely read author. He reminds me a little of Vonnegut's foil Kilgore Trout.
This quote reminds me of my recent ponderings on free will and my own fixed mindset. I mean if all is predestined, is there ever a choice to make, or merely an unveiling? But even the concept of "unveiling" presumes a linear sense of the progression of time... it is unveiled, but in some sense, if its predestined, than it has always been unveiled... or rather, the unveiling is an essential element of what it is.
I've been thinking a lot about this left brain / right brain stuff. Looking for a critique of McGilchrist's"The Master and His Emissary" I came across Nick Spencer's thoughts. There's this kind of Catholic/Anglican vibe about it. I think from a McGilchrist point of view, that church vibe of Mystery has a right brain "everything is known but not definable" vibe. Protestantism gets pretty left brained and specific sometimes. But of course there's Calvinism and predestination, which from a rationalistic point of view makes very little sense, but I guess if you're right brained enough you can embrace the contradiction of "we have no choice but to believe in free will".
I'm very set in my musical ways: I like purchasing single mp3s (or the equivalent), and then resorting to youtube rips if I have no other option. I've rated all my music ever since my iPod only had room for "3 stars and up", and then have good, better, best (3+ stars, 4+, and 5, respectively) smart playlists, and then try to listen to the "good" playlist (in reverse chronological order) daily, so I form a connection with the music. Anyway, Apple has a curious algorithm for assembling a thumbnail for a playlist, and mine has been consistent for a long while:
I think it's picking "A,B,C,D" so in my case, Ani "Buildings + Bridges" DiFranco, BPA ("Toe Jam" with David Byrne - fun sort of NSFW video for that), CAKE ("The Distance" was my senior solo), and Dar "Cool As I Am" Williams.
For a brief time in the early 90s I was the "webmaster" for Tufts University's Comp Sci department. I hand drew some icons for the homepage - strong Keith Haring energy.
Plus of the new place? Melissa using the big ol' grill!
Make way for ducklings? More like ducklings making their way for us!! (Melissa and I got hella lucky with our new place, this pond is a 5 minute drive or half hour walk away!)
(Melissa couldn't head out with me and band buddies today, that's Sophie and Matt)
Striking essay - Nowadays in movies, Everyone is Beautiful and No One is Horny
I've always appreciated love scenes and nudity in movies, their verisimilitude and how they show sex as part of a real and multifaceted life. And admired the generosity of the actors involved (and now, hoping they weren't unduly pressured into it...)
Maybe some of the appreciation is a relic of a sunday school upbringing... one where you know right where every naked person or sex scene in your parents book collection is.
Sometimes it means I have to work on my understanding on concerns about the objectification of women. Like, I understand "no one wants to be an object", no one wants to be valued only for one thing, a thing that can be found in many other people, and thus have their individuality wiped away. But for me, the intrigue is sensuality as one facet of a more interesting person... it always implied a bridge between the mundane and the promised land, a hope that the chasm between regular life and making an affectionate skincentric connection with someone wasn't impossibly wide. As I put it long ago, I've always more easily seen the appeal of the stretchy tanktop vs fancy peekaboo lingerie - stuff trying to hard to put a frame around sex, isolating it from the rest of life.
(Found that essay linked to from headspace-hotel, where there's more thoughts on the appeal of lived-in bodies over carefully manicured temples.)
(more concise version)
Making Juneteenth a national holiday is good but kind of a study in too little too late. Newspaper classfieds of formerly enslaved people trying to find their loved ones are heartbreaking.
Chris Jones, running against Sarah Huckabee Sanders for governor of Arkansas, has a mighty impressive ad.
Is Mercury in frickin' retrograde? A dozen techie things, large and small, are failing. Infuriating.
What if the communicator badge popped every time Picard did The Picard Maneuver?
I have only ever had one friend as crazy as I am. Once, we painted a giant fireplace onto a wall in her apartment as decoration for a dinner party we were hosting. Later, toward the end of the party, she led our guests onto the roof, bringing with her a boom box playing Strauss. I climbed up the fire escape in a ball gown. I held out my hand. We waltzed with speed and gusto. Our friends and professors looked on, terrified: there was no railing.I'm not fully endorsing the stance of this article, and would point it's kind of specific to what it applies to. But I am so often saddened when I notice I'm a bit of a social hub (as is nearly everyone) where some of the spokes just can't get along. I don't want to discount the reality of "toxic relationships", nor condemn people who need to draw an absolute boundary.
I haven't done as much dancing in the seventeen years since I ended that relationship. The breakup happened like this: we had planned an elaborate outing in Sonoma County. The picnic supplies took days to gather. We left early, got home late, and as she told me when she hugged me good night, everything in between had been perfect. It had been a perfect day. The next morning, I wrote her a letter telling her that I did not want to be friends with her anymore.
I had my reasons, of course. As I say, she is crazy. I am, too, but in a very different way. The immense effort it took for me to spend a whole day with her and ensure that it was "perfect"--that I did nothing to offend, upset, or bother her--proved to me that we just didn't work. And I thought: When a relationship does not work, each party has the right to exit. It will hurt, but we will get over it, and we will both be better off in the end. The thing is: the pain hasn't gone away. I still miss her. I still dream about her. And lately I have come to think that part of the problem lies in how I broke things off: unilaterally. I took matters into my own hands, as though there were no rules governing how you break up with someone.
Consider how far we have come from the ethics of the Iliad, in which Achilles is glorified for choking a river with the blood of his enemies. We now understand that moral excellence lies not in the use of physical force but the abstention therefrom. Humanity has been slower to acknowledge the reality of psychological injury and trauma, and correspondingly slower to see the rules that govern violence in that domain. I propose that one of those rules is that you are not allowed to "just walk away."
I am not saying you can never break up or get divorced, but rather that all is not fair when it comes to these endings; you cannot simply cut people off; you are not free to leave at any time. If your life is entwined with someone else's, then a new arrangement between the two of you must be the product of an agreement you can both live with. Also, you must be open, forever, to revising that agreement if and when the other person offers reasons for doing so.
Those requirements are robustly ethical. In that letter to my friend, I made the usual excuses, arguing that the relationship was in some way "toxic"; that this was the best course for both of us; that the break "had to" happen. Whether those claims were true, enforcing them without her consent was wrong. It was like shoving words in her mouth and forcing her to say them. Instead of deliberating with her about how to move forward, I took matters into my own hands: I tore out a part of her life, and a part of mine, violently, because that violence seemed to be in my interest. If that kind of behavior is not wrong, what is?
And then there's the one you writeKind of a counterpoint to that last bit, a poem I ran into 17 years ago.
that makes even you laugh.
You never want to see her again.
You don't want to see her handwriting
on a letter. You don't want to come home
and see the little yellow light
flashing messages of regret.
You don't want to pick up the phone
and hear how much she's been missing you.
Couldn't you meet for a drink?
Not any more. Maybe in a year or two.
All you want to do now
is draw a line under your life
and get on with the past.
Do you make yourself perfectly clear?
You sign with just your name,
a businesslike touch
which makes even you laugh.