2023 January❮❮prevnext❯❯

January 1, 2023

featuring cameos from Sophie, Lilia, Cora, Char, Kayla, Dean, swans, leaky bathroom light fixtures, Matt, Jon, Ringo, Eze Sanchez, Zeus, Liz, Cindy @ Fast Phil's, Ducks, Erika, Geese, Duane, Cathleen, Michael, turkeys, Erica, Melissa, Gary, Coworkers, The New Magnolia Jazz Band, Candace, Johnny, a bee, Chasity, a rolypoly, The George Washington Bridge, Seagulls, a Worm, Dom and pretty much everyone in The Jamaica Plain Honk Band, a dandelion, construction equipment, crawdads, The Party Band, Austin Tx, Jonathan, Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Society Brass Band, goldfish, snowball the bunny (RIP), Alison, lots of ants, upstairs neighbors, Rayyan, Thomas, School of HONK, a Bunbun, Matthew, Montreal, Anna, Kellie, ravens, Wyatt, squirrel!, Eleventh Hour for Climate Justice, a beetle, Muttsville Comix , Rebekah, Dylan, Lake George, Summer Honk, Zach, Katie Mae, Dave Kristin, Tom the actor, Jay, baby chicks, an egret (?), St Anthony's Feast, Aunt Susan, Melissa's Uncle Kenny, Elio and Jackie, Caleb, Betty, Maren, Buster B, Jennifer, HONKfest and the Sousaphone Leg-off, Pronk, Nelson, a hawk closeup, Laura's halloween party, Owen, Space Dolphin, Kaya, the MFA, Melissa's Dad, Gary, Sue, Extinction Rebllion, Thomas, Tuba Christmas, the new T station at Ball Square, Harvards Clerical Worker's Union , James, Mom Betty, STOMP!, and finally the 3 stooges... and many more...

best photos of 2022

January 2, 2023
The best photos I took (or at least the ones I liked the most) from 2022. I like the format I came up with last year, with a general "best of" and then two runner-up galleries for "visuals" and "memories" so I'm repeating it this year.

Open Photo Gallery: Best of 2022

Open Photo Gallery: 2022 Visuals

Open Photo Gallery: 2022 Memories

Some routines can become habits but only if it's a behavior that can be done with little conscious thought. Trying to turn a behavior that requires a lot of effort (like writing or breaking a physical fitness record) into a habit will backfire if you expect it to become effortless.
I feel like we get sold a lot of goods - like "once you develop your exercise habit it will feel bad NOT to do it", and that hardly ever actually happens.
Brian Frydenborg is sanguine about Ukraine over Russia

We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings.
Ursula K Le Guin

media i consumed in 2022

January 3, 2023
Media I consumed last year... 4 star in red, 5 star red and bolded...

Movies at the Cinema (2 (+2))
Everything Everywhere All at Once, Star Wars
"Everything Everywhere All at Once" is the obvious stand out here - such a beautiful intensity, a great take on the multiverse "what might have been theme", wistful undertones. (Star Wars was my buddy Elio's birthday party, renting a local cinema)

Movies on Video or Streaming (30 (-19))
Matrix Reloaded, Inside Out, Hercules, Uncut Gems, Pixels, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, It (2017), Long Weekend, Nine Days, Logan, Everything Everwhere All At Once, Walking My Life, Modern Romance, Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time, Call Me By Your Name, Ghost in the Shell, Ghost in the Shell (live action), End of Evangelion, Sheng Wang: Sweet + Juicy, This is 40, Hocus Pocus 2, Perfectly Stupid, Weird, Little Big Boy, Barbarian, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, It's a Wonderful Heist, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Who Killed Santa? A Murderville Murder Mystery
Wow, big drop in the number of these from 2021! I loved how the 4th Matrix films wrapped things up, but it lacked the visual scene making of the trilogy. "Inside Out" is a great introduction to parts-type models of psychology, and "Hercules" was solid as well. "Walking My Life" is a lovely movie I first saw on the way back from Japan, about a man facing his imminent death with grace. Sheng Wang is the Mitch Hedberg for our time, and kudos to "Weird" (the Weird Al biopic for being laugh out loud funny, not just heh funny.)

TV Show Seasons (19 (+8))
Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 15, What We Do on the Shadows Season 3, Space Force, Awkwafina is Nora from Queens Season 2, The Beatles: Get Back, Inventing Anna, Murderville, Dicktown Season 2, Ink Masters Season 3, Righteous Gemstones Season 1, Normal People, Love Death and Robots Season 3, Big Mouth Season 5, Star Wars: Visions, Lego Masters Seasons 2, Ink Master Season 4, Cyberpunk: Edge Runners, Lego Masters Season 3, Conversations with Friends, Chainsaw Man Season 1
I really love "Normal People" and "Conversations with Friends", the Hulu/BBC joint miniseries of the Sally Rooney novels I've read; sex and talk among the young intelligentsia. "Chainsaw Man" is just a delight of anime excess, and not holding back plot-wise.

Books (37 (+6))
Pharmako AI, Zen of Palm, Genius at Play: The Curious Mind of John Horton Conway, Beautiful World, Where Are You, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, Words at the Threshold, Creative Selection, Pac-Man: Birth of an Icon, Permutation City, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Helgoland, How To Hide An Empire, A History of God, Man's Search for Meaning, Basic Training, Ishmael, Another Roadside Attraction, Vaster Than Empires and More Slow, Whore of New York, The Works of His Hands, Cat's Cradle, Braiding Sweetgrass, The Joy Machine, Sick in the Head, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, The Age of AI, Mother Night, Slaughterhouse Five, Sirens of Titan, The Art of Money Getting, Manna, The Phantom Tollbooth, Breakfast of Champions, The Genealogical Adam & Eve, Deadeye Dick, Your Head is a Houseboat, Bluebeard: A Novel
"Gödel, Escher, Bach", "Permutation City" and "Man's Search for Meaning" were all rereads of favorites of mine for the Science and Spirituality group I co-run. (let me know if you want to join!) "Helgoland" was for the group as well; a great book on quantum stuff, and really jives with my idea that interactions are the defining element of EVERYTHING in the most fundamental way possible.

And on my "read all Vonnegut novels" kick, "Cat's Cradle" has always stood out, though Slaughterhouse Five's vision of time has been in my mind lately, and I was impressed with the maturity and thoughtfulness of Bluebeard.

"Your Head is a Houseboat" is good enough (and well illustrated enough to have been filed under "comic") that it makes me entry, because its coverage of "parts" psychology is probably better than the book I've been thinking about trying to cobble together.

Audiobooks/Podcast (11 (+1))
Imperfect Messenger, The Murderbot Diaries: All Systems Red Get Played, My Brother My Brother And Me, Retronauts, Get Anime'd, The Talk Show, Baby Geniuses, Poetry Unbound, Three Bean Salad, Articles of Interest: Take Ivy
"Get Played" managed to reinvent itself so it wasn't so torturous for its hosts, and remains head and shoulders the best and funniest premier video game podcast. And listening to its Patreon spinoff "Get Anime'd" cover Neon Genesis Evangelion was great.

Comic / Graphic Novel (2 (-12))
MAD Stocking Stuffer, Slaughterhouse Five
Boy, not much here this year.

Video Games (-4)
The Matrix Awakens, Just Cause 3: Sky Fortress, Just Cause 3: Mech Land Assault, Just Cause 3: Bavarian Sea Heist, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Knotwords, Wordle, Bangai-O, Atari 50
the DLC for Just Cause 3 that turns you into Iron Man but w/ Wolverine's healing powers was worth the replay. Bangai-O was an old Dreamcast favorite- I used my own 2002 walkthough for it

from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

January 5, 2023
Going to reread the series. Keeping my eyes open for bits where he dives into the philosophical.
One of the things Ford Prefect had always found hardest to understand about humans was their habit of continually stating and repeating the very very obvious, as in *It's a nice day*, or *You're very tall*, or *Oh dear you seem to have fallen down a thirty-foot well, are you all right?* At first Ford had formed a theory to account for this strange behavior. If human beings don't keep exercising their lips, he thought, their mouths probably seize up. After a few months' consideration and observation he abandoned this theory in favor of a new one. If they don't keep on exercising their lips, he thought, their brains start working. After a while he abandoned this one as well as being obstructively cynical and decided he quite liked human beings after all, but he always remained desperately worried about the terrible number of things they didn't know about.
Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Honestly I wonder about this aspect of humans too.
"The argument goes something like this: 'I refuse to prove that I exist,' says God, 'for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.' " 

'But,' says Man, 'the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED.' " 

'Oh dear,' says God, 'I hadn't thought of that,' and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
" 'Oh, that was easy,' says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.
Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Even light, which travels so fast that it takes most races thousands of years to realize that it travels at all, takes time to journey between the stars.
Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Okay, so ten out of ten for style, but minus several million for good thinking, yeah?
Zaphod in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

A loud clatter of gunk music flooded through the Heart of Gold cabin as Zaphod searched the sub-etha radio wave bands for news of himself. The machine was rather difficult to operate. For years radios had been operated by means of pressing buttons and turning dials; then as the technology became more sophisticated the controls were made touch-sensitive--you merely had to brush the panels with your fingers; now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components and hope. It saved a lot of muscular expenditure, of course, but meant that you had to sit infuriatingly still if you wanted to keep listening to the same program.
Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
One of the most foresightful bits of tech in the book!
One of the major difficulties Trillian experienced in her relationship with Zaphod was learning to distinguish between him pretending to be stupid just to get people off their guard, pretending to be stupid because he couldn't be bothered to think and wanted someone else to do it for him, pretending to be outrageously stupid to hide the fact that he actually didn't understand what was going on, and really being genuinely stupid. He was renowned for being amazingly clever and quite clearly was so--but not all the time, which obviously worried him, hence the act. He preferred people to be puzzled rather than contemptuous. This above all appeared to Trillian to be genuinely stupid, but she could no longer be bothered to argue about it.
Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?
Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

2022 december playlist

January 6, 2023
Middling month but with some really good songs from the series "Conversations with Friends"...

Let It All Go
The Sei
5 Stars - This song is really somber and beautiful. The call to "let it all go wrong", reminiscent of that verse from "Hallelujah", somehow it really speaks to me, the importance of embracing the life even when it's not what we wanted.

I'm So Humble (feat. Adam Levine)
The Lonely Island
Finally got to watch "Never Stop Never Stopping". Weird Al-level rhymes - I love the 60s rock (doo wop?) intro and bassline.

Little Big
Saw some tumblr point mentioning how their 5 year old play this over and over skewed their Spotify end of year list... a lot of goofy fun and catchy as hell.

Sin Wagon
The Chicks
"Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition"

Remember Me (Sure Is Pure 7 Inch Edit)
Blue Boy
Old 90s from Derry Girls.

RU Ready
"Macho Man" Randy Savage
Macho Man's delivery reminds me of "Chuggo"
Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto
James Brown
Trader Joe's has some really good music in the background...
Austin Lounge Lizards
Based on a true story about a jerk shooting majestic old cacti.
Run the Track
Some nice percussion in this one.
Wicked Game
Tenacious D
Fun cover, not sure it improves on the original all that much. But I love the original.
James Blake
More slow and stately and somber music.
Christmastime For the Jews (Saturday Night Live / SNL) [feat. Darlene Love]
TV Funhouse
SNL goof. Impressive how they reconstructed the old "Wall of Sound" sound.

Hot In Herre
"can't believe that on the day hot in herre was recorded, nelly walked in the booth & hopped on that neptunes beat with "good gracious, ass is bodacious" & not a single person was like hey wait a minute man" --@NifMuhammad
Up On The Housetop
Reba McEntire
Solid Christmas song.

It's a Big Old Goofy World
Alice Howe & Freebo
Got tagged by a friend on this for obvious reasons.
Frozen Logger (Live)
Derroll Adams
My mentioned this one, the whole line - "no but a logger stirs his coffee with his thumb".
The Season's Upon Us
Dropkick Murphys
New Seasonal Classic.


January 7, 2023

Start with the concept that blood is basically seawater and move on from there...
Video about the Army Corps of Engineers building a scale model of all of San Francisco Bay to decide if damming it would be a good idea (SPOILER: it would not be a good idea.)

figuring out Roman concrete - its longevity is because it's self-healing!

January 8, 2023

Have you ever had your finger bitten? Memorize it. Know it so well that even if you lost your sight... you'd recognize me by my bite.
Makima, Chainsaw Man

Open Photo Gallery

That's why I sometimes want an even larger tv.
"if you're not angry you're not paying attention" used to be such a powerful phrase but now it's more accurate to say "if you're not angry you're probably exhausted by 5+ years of Panic Outrage Mode and are nearing the limit of your emotional range for reacting to this shit"

January 9, 2023

Via https://at.tumblr.com/astrophysicist-not-princess/705953357223854080/zk4fyt7rk0at
What is a bit sad is that it's obvious for Elon Musk's entire career that he's desperately trying to align himself with whatever large group of people on the internet seem to like him at any given moment. The seamless transition from Reddit-user Epic Science liberal to vaguely-libertarian crypto booster to Own The Libs conservative has coincided perfectly with the shifting positive feelings that each of those groups has towards him. He's just lonely. Of course if I were him my loneliness might lead me to try and help raise any of my 10 children rather than posting boomer memes

Context is Strawberries.
Bas-Jan Walewijk

TIL: Transroosters are absolutely a thing.

January 10, 2023

A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.
Bruce Lee

Like everyone else, you want to learn the way to win, but never to accept the way to lose, to accept defeat, to learn to die is to be liberated from it. So when tomorrow comes, you must free your ambitious mind, and learn the art of dying.
Bruce Lee

Dear Mr. Lego, There are too many types of pieces nowadays. Please, eliminate half. P.S. I am not a crackpot.

January 11, 2023
The other day I had a $5 of Kohl's coupon I used for half of Lego's "Wolverine Mech Armor" kit.

With the claws and hands it looks kinda cool, but it was weirdly unsatisfying to build. Melissa explained why - this is basically a buildable action figure, in a lot of ways it's not a classic Lego kit. (Indeed, its lack of studs to put other bricks on is almost Bionicle level. Also I don't think Wolverine-brand Yellow is a traditional Lego color...)

I watched a Evolution of Lego Star Wars video, and its feeling generally is "look how much better the newer versions look!", but the old ones from the 1990s - yeah, they just looked more Lego-y.

I never understood the "build the model once then keep it like that" mentality, but I think Lego has really leaned into it. The library of pieces has expanded so much, which means A. many of them are difficult to think of a use for in different contexts B. It's hard to keep track of all the possibilities in what bricks you do have and C. even if you know just the right hinge, finding enough matching pieces to build something symmetrically and with appropriate colors is a challenge.

Of course it's a spectrum. I probably wouldn't have been as fascinated by Lego if it was all "what can you build out of square bricks?" the hardest-core purist might demand. But Lego has basically always been "CAD for kids", or I guess now you'd say like 3D printing - the main way of making something with a real design sensibility but without the skeletal look of Erector sets, K'nex, or Tinker Toy.

80s Space Lego was interesting, with the "Blacktron" sets you started getting cooler wings and other options - but a medium-talented builder kid still had a shot at making something cooler than the kit the pieces came with.

The late 90s Star Wars - the way the X-wing came with these awesome clicky hinges was great. And like I write about in 2020, "Life on Mars" continued that path, but there was still a Lego-ness to it.

Now, I dunno. These sets are so fancy, and they might have been what let Lego survive and prosper. And they have the "Creator" sets that are often a bit more back to basics, and show by example how you can use the same set of bricks in a different formation. But somehow it feels like a step backwards from the space ships and robots I'd really like to build.

So it's a spectrum from "just squares" to "as real-world as possible", and I know this whole rant has an "Old Man Yells at Cloud" aspect. I do wish the answer was a bit more in the middle. (I don't regret splitting my childhood collection 3 ways for 3 families I love, but I do wish the pieces in my current rebooted collection, mostly with gifts given to me as a grownup, had more of the spirit of the old stuff.)
woke is "the belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them."
DeSantis lawyers
I'm technically a Facebook "Top Fan" of Jeremy's Razors who pitch shit like "stop buying razors from woke companies that hate you". (Daily Wire started up this shilling project when Harry's stopped running ads with them.)

January 12, 2023

We're Not Just Shooting the Breeze - Marching Bands and Black Masculinity in New Orleans.

January 13, 2023

lies, damn lies, statistics ....
Plus it's Friday the 13th? This can't be good

What is the difference between science and religion?...

Science builds planes and skyscrapers, religion brings them together.

January 14, 2023

Finished rereading Vonnegut's Galapagos. It's a more engrossing read than much of his other stuff, a lot of drive to get to the end (heightened by a trick of putting a "*" by people's name if their death is eminent. And there it is a rather apocalyptic scene on several fronts)

Also he mentions a simultaneous device called the Gokubi and its successor the Mandarax, which ends up sounding a lot like a smartphone (well maybe without the connectivity) wired in with Google Translate, WikiQuote, and WebM, along with a calendar etc. Also solar powered which would be a nice touch.

Like most Pathological Personalities, *Andrew MacIntosh never cared much whether what he said was true or not--and so he was tremendously persuasive.
Galapagos, Kurt Vonnegut

Of course I love you,
So let's have a kid
Who will say exactly
What its parents did;
"Of course I love you,
So let's have a kid
Who will say exactly
What its parents did; 'Of course I love you,
So let's have a kid
Who will say exactly
What its parents did--'"
Et cetera.
Nobel Claggett in "Galapagos" by Kurt Vonnegut

For some people, getting pregnant is as easy as catching cold.
Mary Hepburn in "Galapagos" by Kurt Vonnegut

This episode made me sorry to be alive, made me envy stones.
Kurt Vonnegut, "Galapagos"

Since rising at dawn, Cruz himself had been thinking seriously about going home. He had a pregnant wife and eleven children in a nice house out by the airport, and they were scared. They certainly needed him, and yet, until now, abandoning a ship to which he was duty bound, no matter for what reason, had seemed to him a form of suicide, an obliteration of all that was admirable in his character and reputation.
Kurt Vonnegut, "Galapagos"
I can weirdly identify with that feeling about duty.
Quoth Mandarax:
"Something there is that doesn't love a wall."
--ROBERT FROST (1874–1963)
To which I add:
"Yes, but something there is which adores a mucous membrane."
Kurt Vonnegut, "Galapagos"

January 15, 2023

Cora and Mama C made me this awesome Alien Bill sculpture!

"In a nutshell, our theory is that consciousness developed as a memory system that is used by our unconscious brain to help us flexibly and creatively imagine the future and plan accordingly. What is completely new about this theory is that it suggests we don't perceive the world, make decisions, or perform actions directly. Instead, we do all these things unconsciously and then--about half a second later--consciously remember doing them.

January 16, 2023

The dark flipside to the MLKjr holiday, the obverse of amplifying the positive message aspect of equality and justice, is the reminder for the potential for horrible violence in American society, amplified by the nearly unfettered availability of guns.

Right now at that stage where fewer people can come right out and say what they think about races, at least not in polite society (or maybe they've come round to some idea of equality albeit with tremendous caveats), and they think we've reached a land of the USA living up to its goals of individual opportunity and justice, and so any further work to make that happen is just "reverse racism", and that really, following MLK Jr's vision is stopping all this anti-racism work 'cause didn't he want us all to be "colorblind" anyway?

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I usually hear it as "It must certainly be so!" but yeah...

January 17, 2023

January 18, 2023

But then, for about the thousandth time, my mind wanders over the past ten years. Republicans got the tax cuts they wanted. They got the financial deregulation they wanted. They got the wars they wanted. They got the unfunded spending increases they wanted. And the results were completely, unrelentingly disastrous. A decade of sluggish growth and near-zero wage increases. A massive housing bubble. Trillions of dollars in war spending and thousands of American lives lost. A financial collapse. A soaring long-term deficit. Sky-high unemployment. All on their watch and all due to policies they eagerly supported. And worse: ever since the predictable results of their recklessness came crashing down, they've rabidly and nearly unanimously opposed every single attempt to dig ourselves out of the hole they created for us.

But despite the fact that this is all recent history, it's treated like some kind of dreamscape. No one talks about it. Republicans pretend it never happened. Fox News insists that what we need is an even bigger dose of the medicine we got in the aughts, and this is, inexplicably, treated seriously by the rest of the press corps instead of being laughed at.

frames from a movie that never existed

January 19, 2023
The NY Times on Using AI to create frames from Alejandro Jodorowsky's 1976 version of "Tron" a film that never existed.

This stuff is getting scary.

Also it mentioned Jodorowsky's influence: "the Greek-Armenian philosopher and mystic George Gurdjieff. He taught that we are born without a soul and that our task in life is to help our soul to grow and develop: Souls aren't born; they're earned."

Now, it's ALWAYS morally fraught to appoint yourself arbiter of which people have souls and who might not (a potential first step to giving your blessing to atrocities) But I do think whatever a soul is, it has to be embodied, even if it is potentially emergent rather than just being there.

January 20, 2023

Yeah, it's absolutely troubling that Biden has an echo of Trump's problems with Classified documents at home but voters seem to get the idea of intentionality. "Oops, my bad, papers returned" vs a flurry of denying and non-cooperation means it's not apples to apples no matter which Republicans would like to see it as all the same thing.

January 21, 2023

No matter how successful, rich, powerful or influential a nation can get, everything still hinges on whether or not it rains.

January 22, 2023

I'm not saying that Cora has a lot of pets in her two households, but... (in rough order of 'legit pet' to 'thing we feed a bit')

Pug: Annie
Border Collie: Luke
Cat: Moose, Aria, Gomez, Cisco
Hamster: Bonfire
Bunnies: Sugar, Spice
Parakeets: Romeo, Juliet
Fish: Beta
Other Fish: Rainbow, Guppy, Pearl, Survivante
Diamond Dove: Yoshi
Doves: Thomas, Fern, Pierre, Presto, Fruitcake
Outdoor Cat: Eclypso
Outdoor Chickens: Echo, Benedict the 2nd, Blue, Delta
Indoor Teen Chickens: Sushi, Houdini, Chuckles, Diamond, Valentine, Amethyst, Ruby, Eve the 2nd, Villanelle the 2nd, Spartacus, Alba
Outdoor Goldfish: Minnie, Spike, Wednesday, Morticia, Pugsly
Squirrel: Snacks
Chipmunk: Chip

I dunno is 45 a lot?

*through gritted teeth* you are not a child taking a test with the purpose of getting the highest score, you are an adult trying new things and finding ways to enjoy your life, make mistakes, be a beginner, be mediocre, be where you need to be, be unlikeable, just. be.

January 23, 2023

hedge funds are assholes. look at this letter

January 24, 2023

Looking at my blog, I noted John Conway's death in 2020, but I'm not sure I realized it was COVID-related. (Also I'm haunted by not being sure if I had forgotten about his passing when I read Genius at Play in 2022) But also I may have missed this touching xkcd tribute:
Unsurprisingly, no "artistic license" to make the glider, that's following basic Life rules... damn it Randall, you are so smart yet heartfelt.
Haha, just won a geeky bet from my buddy Elio that the "dewback" (giant ride-able lizard seen with some stormtroopers on Tatooine) was in the original movie, and not an addition in the updates.
I was pretty confident because I had had the toy of it, and while it doesn't get much screentime I had a feeling it wasn't the kind of toy they would have added on (ala the mini-rigs) - like I think Imperials would be more likely to use walkers or droids.

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Which reminded me of the "luggabeast" from the first of the 3 sequels - I didn't quite catch on that it was kind of a biological / mechanical hybrid.

January 25, 2023

I think in a decade we're all be going to do QA for work done by AIs. (I posed this on reddit)

January 26, 2023

Why did God create atheists?

A Rabbi is teaching his student the Talmud, and explains that God created everything in this world to be appreciated, since everything is here to teach us a lesson.

The clever student asks "What lesson can we learn from atheists? Why did God create them?"

The Rabbi responds "God created atheists to teach us the most important lesson of them all -- the lesson of true compassion. You see, when an atheist performs an act of charity, visits someone who is sick, helps someone who is in need, and cares for the world, he is not doing so because of some religious teaching. He does not believe that God commanded him to perform this act. In fact, he does not believe in God at all, so his acts are based on an inner sense of morality. and look at the kindness he can bestow upon others simply because he feels it to be right."

"This means" the Rabbi continued "that when someone reaches out to you for help, you should never say 'I pray that God will help you.' instead for the moment, you should become an atheist, imagine that there is no God who can help, and say 'I will help you.'"
via though I've seen it before, wanted to get it here.
I've been thinking about the term "transcendent" especially as pertains to views of God. Mushy agnostics are more prone to talk about "emergence", that a lot of things we recognize as good - consciousness, morality - rises up from base matter in the same way that, say, economics arises from psychology arises from neurobiology arises from biology arises from chemistry arises from physics arises from atoms just doing their thing. In this model Consciousness and Morality aren't bestowed from on high, they come from the ground up.

But what's interesting to me is that the transcendence of God - God is outside of our mere mortal system and therefore the authority we should follow - it's a very fixed-in-place thing? The heavens are fix'd o'er the earth, or some such. BUT the word "transcendence" is based on an active verb, the act of transcending - a kind of climbing transition.

I mean I don't put too much stock in etymological explanations (as if you know more about a word based on where it came from rather than how it's been used in the meanwhile) but this one sticks out to me.
Two links from work: motherf*****gwebsite.com and theuselessweb.com

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Perfection of means and confusion of goals seem – in my opinion – to characterize our age.
Albert Einstein

January 27, 2023

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.

And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through some stages of instability--
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually--let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don't try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Nicole B. led my Science and Spirituality group in a discussion Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, based on this article. An optimistic way of thinking of an ultimate convergence for humanity and everything, Very much in line with that kind of 90s transhumanist vibe
Notes to my future self: two of the ideas I like from the alternate, more-math-based universe of Neal Stephenson's Anathem is Gardan's Steelyard, where the lighter or least complicated idea rises to the top when balanced against a heavier, more complicated idea and most importantly Diax's Rake: "Never believe a thing simply because you want it to be true"
I just backed up my computer and my website - kinda the old fashioned way, dumping a single root (or two) - ~/data on my Mac, ~/sites and ~/data for my website - onto an external solid state HD. I guess I prefer that to those more automated systems, just like I don't really trust my photos to iCloud (and anything I consider important I make sure is in ~/data/photos )

Just a friendly reminder to pick a backup plan and run it :-D

a king may yield before a god, but he remains a king. Let me show you what that means.

January 28, 2023
"I can't let you do that."

"I beg your pardon?"

"Don't get me wrong, our little... *collaboration* has been fruitful, but I have to look out for the best interests of my people, and this isn't it."

"I'm afraid you misunderstand the nature of this relationship, 'your majesty'. Your seat at this table is a courtesy. You may be the king of these lands, but ultimately, you're just a fat penguin who rules a kingdom of fools and routinely loses fights with a child. You aren't in a position to *let* us do anything."

"Ha! No... no, I think it's you who misunderstands your position."


"I've lost fights to a child. And have you seen the kind of fights that child *wins*? Gods and monsters. Thing you can't even imagine. And then there's me. Just little old me. Yeah, I lose, eventually, but I make him sweat for every victory. Do you understand?"


"A king may yield before a god, but he remains a king. Let me show you what that means."

My wife: "I regret getting you that blender for Christmas"

Me: *sipping toast* "why?"

January 29, 2023

een dooie mus

January 30, 2023
Je maakt me blij met een dooie mus - You made me happy with a dead sparrow
Dutch Expression
My new favorite Dutch idiom, when someone is briefly delighted by something that turns out to be false or misleading

"dooie mus" is my new band name.

January 31, 2023

antichrist mythology is a funny thing. The more textually grounded use of the phrase is absurd and contradictory - a character defined as "Christ's exact opposite" could be put together so many ways, and few of them make sense as even a person, let alone as a significant mythological figure - and then there's the Christian rapture cult which understands the primary purpose of Christ as delivering modern-day believers (which is to say, death cultists living 2000 years after Christ's ministry) bodily into Heaven without dying.

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