2023 June❮❮prevnext❯❯

June 1, 2023

First night of summer (meteorological - look it up nerd), after having added some music to a Somerville housing rights vigil, on the porch, a summer shandy by my side and hacking on porchfest sites. Living my best life! So glad we got a porch.

June 2, 2023


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Honestly I think this is an interesting metaphor for emotional regulation in general.

June 3, 2023

Despite being cold and misty and a bit rainy all day, had 2 great gigs with JP Honk at the Watertown Pride parade and the Haley House Block Party - some phenomenal energy at times, especially with the guys dancing at the Haley House.

(and in between I dipped into a School-Of-Honk-heavy fundraiser for Puppet Showplace Theater. But I snuck in a sweetgreen salad and car nap right after.)

June 4, 2023

This space left blank. But there's too much intentionality in the world as it is.

June 5, 2023

Just a note that some email phishers are getting more sophisticated. I help administrate an activist band organization, and the following email with subject "Tаkе Aсtiоn Nоw: Aрреаl Pаgе Susреnsiоn - Cорyright аnd Cоmmunity Stаndаrds Viоlаtiоn". That includes an actual Facebook link, and the landing page there is a little sparse but plausible, but the next link in is to something like "https://lnkd.in/dyT8hAQx", which is a semi-obvious scammy URL but a very legitimate looking page.

Time was spammers didn't work too hard to look legit, the logic being you can filter out the non-gullible, but this one put in the work to have fewer early tells.

And of course, disregard everything purporting to be from Best Buy Geek Squad unless you really know you're doing something with them. There is a scam there absolutely frightening in its use of screen sharing and refund scams, making it look like you're getting a refund and then turning the tables and putting you on your back foot by accusing you of stealing from them. (A relative of mine came scarily near not catching on in time.)

June 6, 2023

Interesting that QR Codes are sort of coming back.

(Maybe that one joke is out dated - "What's a pirate's favorite visual URL encoding?" "Q-Arrrrrrr?" "No, they don't scan them either")

But I usually think of QR codes as looking like "robot puke" but this one is gorgeous:

happiness utilitarianism is bunk

Random (possibly sophomoric) one man philosophical bullsessioning here:
I was listening to a podcast about the philosopher Derek Parfit and the Repugnant Conclusion. Now in its original form it's "For any possible population of at least ten billion people, all with a very high quality of life, there must be some much larger imaginable population whose existence, if other things are equal, would be better even though its members have lives that are barely worth living" but in the discussion I was listening to (and in most of the links I can google) folks freely replace "quality of life" and "worth living" with "happiness" - that seems to be common in the "definition" of philosophical utilitarianism

(I've heard of other similar "cranked up to 11" thought experiment paradoxes on maximizing happiness, like this smbc comic about how one in theory one INSANELY happy person could justify the misery of everyone else...)

But - like so many other things that try to operate in a reductionist way - considering "happiness" in an abstract, context free way strips it of meaning. "Happiness" should only be a goal if it's a metric of other worthy things going on! It is a byproduct of emergent properties of value, not an end unto itself. And there's a very simple (and ammenable to most folks intuitions) thought experiment to show that: it could be you could maximize your own happiness by staying coked to the gills on various drugs -- but few people would say that is a more worthy time of life than one filled with a more organic set of ups and downs.

Now, this is potentially a morally dangerous stance - you should be wary when anyone starts talking about "the worthy things of life", especially in the context of thought experiments about large populations. Like, I do believe in a universal measure of worth, a kind of absolute moral truth, but it has two important qualities: it's emergent (a property that comes out of interacting groups, not one handed down from outside our system) and it's uncertain - no one has a definite claim on the accuracy of any model of what is "True", and so any thought experiment that runs counter to common sense morality is deeply suspect.

June 8, 2023

Finally, my eyeglasses are like my politics: progressive (and helping me see a range of things clearly...)

So far it hasn't been tough to adapt - I'm probably helped by only needing mild prescriptions. Still gotta figure out best laptop lounging positions and the like.

June 9, 2023

at the XR die-in at downtown crossing the other day...

Been a poor time for me discovering new music, between a busy band season, anxiety about job transition, and much media freetime being sunk into the new Zelda - a great and rewarding game but not much for the kind of music I have an ear open for.

4 star:
Hello (Why Are We Whispering Remix) (Martin Solveig & Dragonette)
Hyperballad (Björk)
Praising You (feat. Fatboy Slim) (Rita Ora)

3 star:
The Telescope (Theme Song) (Her Space Holiday & PCP)
Life Goes On (Oliver Tree)
Hey Bartender (Koko Taylor)
Dancing Queen (ABBA)
Dear Prudence (Siouxsie & The Banshees)
Kelen ati leen (Orchestra Baobab)
Hey, Mickey! (Baby Tate & Saweetie)
Lipstick Lover (Janelle Monáe)
What's up Doc? (Can We Rock?) [with Shaquille O'Neal] [K-Cut's Fat Trac Remix] (FU-Schnickens)

June 10, 2023

My tuba is reloaded for Boston Pride March today

June 11, 2023

BABAM! rocked the Boston Pride for the People parade.
We made it to the end before the rain opened up...

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June 12, 2023

Best casual language description of just what Trump did, why it matters, how stupid it was....

June 13, 2023

Because if you've never heard anyone yell 'I'll fight everyone in this Applebees!' then you've never really been to an Applebees.
It was great being able to assemble a last minute band (via my more-of-a-mailing-list-than-a-band "Boston For Fun") that played the stage of Davis Square's new Crystal Ballroom before the Boston 48 Hour Film Project... like I just saw Rebirth Brass Band here in February!

June 14, 2023

My other favorite film I saw at the 48 Hour Film Project was Acceptance...

June 15, 2023

The tie in with health coverage and fulltime employment is the biggest block to entrepreneurship in this country.

June 16, 2023

latest example of a word that once you start looking at it enough, you're like "how could that possibly be a properly spelled word?": "city"

June 17, 2023


June 18, 2023


June 19, 2023

My interest is, my one hobby is, maintaining a democracy. If you get these 500,000 soldiers advocating anything smelling of Fascism, I'm going to get 500,00 more and lick the hell out of you.
USMC Major General Smedley Butler, 1934.
Via Task Force Butler, veterans against fascism and white supremacy. They have a guide against those Patriot Front assholes.

June 20, 2023


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June 21, 2023


June 22, 2023

Interesting study on the design of the current presidential candidates websites... I am always intrigued by the way a vibe can be so influenced by a typeface.

I liked the presentation of that blog entry, with a particular detail or references for nearly every site on the sidebar.
Justice is what love looks like in public.
Cornel West

It's been interesting seeing the response to the Titanic Sub. A lot of schadenfreude and pointing out of how we seem to be a lot more concerned with these rich folks "own goal" fates than regular people dying by the hundreds in recent disasters. (I think it's understandable - we reflexively tune out widescale suffering and can compartmentalize it as "just the way it is" - and visions of death in a minivan sized sub thousands of feet deep is just so visceral.)

But a counter point I saw on some rightwing media is like "these people are in the tradition of rich people taking risks for the sake of discovery".
My response was:
It's a bummer, and while I don't begrudge the rich some adventure tourism, the "new frontiers" they were exploring were those of deregulation and lax safety and engineering standards.

June 23, 2023

So. No, it's not higher profits companies have been eeking out that's pushing inflation, it's consumers having a little fun. "The beatings will continue until morale increases"
So the other day I said "It's a bummer, and while I don't begrudge the rich some adventure tourism, the 'new frontiers' they were exploring were those of deregulation and lax safety and engineering standards."

Or as one friend quipped "We imploded while convincing rich people to ride in the cheapest way possible!" (and google scrapes from their website say similar things)

And while even famously protocol heavy NASA messed up (not listening to their engineers who thought it was too cold to launch the Challenger), there is a long history of folks saying "look these regulations are blocking me from making as much money as I could, let get rid of them"

And too often this attitude gets people killed (like with the subs) or the taxpayer bails things out (like also the sub) or it bites the company (like Norfolk Southern having to pay 1/3 of a billion dollars for cleaning up the East Palestine Ohio train wreck after years of lobbying to relax regulations. But of course, if that cost is less than what they think they save pushing everything to the limit, it's just a cost of doing business)

Or Elon Musk "Aspiring to have no flame diverter in Boca, but this could turn out to be a mistake" and he trashes his launch pad. But if you look at how much worse his rocket is for the local wildlife etc - it's not just a matter of cost efficiency for him, we all get to pay some of that.

Even a similar vibe for the deregulation that led to the 2008 financial crisis.

There's a common thread to all of these, that a small group can make boatloads of money by taking risks, but they've moved the cost of those risks to the public or other folks in general. Conservatives vowing to roll back "over-regulation" kind of assume every rule is there for funsies or to assert government control. And I'm not sure there's never over-regulation, but it would be great if we had a bit more connection between risk taking and actually paying the consequences.

from Kurt Vonnegut's "Player Piano"

Continuing my "read all of Vonnegut's Novels" with the penultimate entry (but first one he wrote) "Player Piano" - Lucy Monaghan, who assembled the reading order I am using wrote
It might seem strange that we waited until the penultimate entry to read Vonnegut's debut novel, but the reason is simple: it's just not as good. Compared to his later work, the style is unsteady and unformed, and it suffers from Debut Novel Syndrome, being about 25% longer than it needs to be.

I'd honestly only recommend this to a huge fan looking to read it for completeness sake. While it's a prescient look at automation that still rings true today, those style problems drag it down.
Having read it - well, in the years since that list was assembled the "prescient look at automation" rings strong than ever. It predates "Atlas Shrugged" and has a much much better moral stance, but there's that same kind of epic scale and theme to it, and of course the 50s era sense of decorum.

One difference from today - the society Vonnegut paints has the same issue of "lots of people are cash poor but gadget rich" we have, and more and more people are displaced by machines, but at least here there's a National Recovery Association make-work that we lack - "The Reconstruction and Reclamation Corps" entertainingly called "The Reeks and Wrecks"
"It seemed very fresh to me--I mean that part where you say how the First Industrial Revolution devalued muscle work, then the second one devalued routine mental work. I was fascinated. [...] Do you suppose there'll be a Third Industrial Revolution?"

"A third one? What would that be like?"

"I don't know exactly. The first and second ones must have been sort of inconceivable at one time."

"To the people who were going to be replaced by machines, maybe. A third one, eh? In a way, I guess the third one's been going on for some time, if you mean thinking machines. That would be the third revolution, I guess--machines that devaluate human thinking. Some of the big computers like EPICAC do that all right, in specialized fields."

"Uh-huh. First the muscle work, then the routine work, then, maybe, the real brainwork."
Kurt Vonnegut's "Player Piano" (cut up a bit)

Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.
Finnerty in Kurt Vonnegut's "Player Piano"

I'm doctor of cowshit, pigshit, and chickenshit. When you doctors figure out what you want, you'll find me out in the barn shoveling my thesis.
Haycox in Kurt Vonnegut's "Player Piano"

"What have you got against machines?" said Buck.

"They're slaves."

"Well, what the heck," said Buck. "I mean, they aren't people. They don't suffer. They don't mind working."

"No. But they compete with people."

"That's a pretty good thing, isn't it--considering what a sloppy job most people do of anything?"

"Anybody that competes with slaves becomes a slave," said Harrison thickly, and he left.
Kurt Vonnegut's "Player Piano"

You perhaps disagree with the antique and vain notion of Man's being a creation of God.
But I find it a far more defensible belief than the one implicit in intemperate faith in lawless technological progress--namely, that man is on earth to create more durable and efficient images of himself, and, hence, to eliminate any justification at all for his own continued existence.
The Ghost Shirt Society in Kurt Vonnegut's "Player Piano"

You know I had never realized how close to Nova Scotia the Titanic sank.

June 25, 2023

At the risk of playing the role of dangerously out of touch old man.... listening to 1991's "Into the Great Wide Open" and how it used "He went to Hollywood, got a tattoo" as a kind of character marker. Like, it's weird how tattoos went from daring to ubiquitous in like 30 years.

June 26, 2023

Rolled Credits on The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, somewhere in the neighborhood of 130 hours. (Akira poster by ryzbl_)

Great game and the building of vehicles and contraptions is phenomenal. I love how the game embraced what people were making Breath of the Wild exploit videos about; like "moon jump" videos seeing how much altitude you could get (and frankly how well even the old engine dealt with that), or that hack to make Magnesis "flying" vehicles. Would love to see "making of" videos for this.

June 27, 2023


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frailty, thy name is url

Blogs.harvard.edu is shutting down, with its total run being almost exactly two decades. (Doc Searls final post on the platform says 'At the time I was told something like "Hey, Harvard has been around since 1636, so your blog will last a long time here."', but the total is around 6% of Harvard's total lifespan so far.)

I don't have any particular connection to Harvard's blog endeavor, but us long-time online geeks often feel a twinge at such times. There used to be a feeling that URLs could - and should - be forever, or as web godfather Tim Berners-Lee put it, "Cool URIs don't change"... but when I stumble over any old list of links I may have assembled, it's inevitably an absolute ghost town.

In abstract theory the unlimited perfect copies of the digital universe should enable virtual immortality in that URI-ish sense; in more nuanced theory, the cost in terms of dollars and institutional attention mean there are precious few guards against entropy, and a website is far less likely to be long lived than a print book (ideally on good acid free paper) And in practice, too often it's "well, I hope the Internet Archive Wayback Machine spiders it well".

(Some of these links come from David Winer's Scripting News... I feel like I should have been reading this blog for much longer. But it's a frustrating and weird read, like it's hard to pinpoint him on a scale of cynicism vs optimism. Or maybe it's just nothing but jaded and I'm too polyanna to see it.)
The more I use ChatGPT, the more I feel it calls into question our models of human language production. How much of how humans use language is based on pattern matching and prediction, and does not rely on what we would consider to be awareness or understanding?

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from "Mostly Harmless"

Finished rereading "Mostly Harmless" and thus the set of all the HHGttG works (well, not sure if I'll bother with "And Another Thing" which I liked as an audiobook, but I'm not sure if it "counts")

Random thoughts:
* Word is Douglas Adams was depressed when writing this and it kind of shows.
* Also now I can see how Dr. Who-ish so much of his vibe was
* Also you see how heavily he leans on some tropes: seeking out oracle-types, running into the burnt out survivor of contact with some kind of cosmic horror etc.
* twice he uses "busk" in the sense of "improvise", not sure if I remembered that sense of the term.

Everybody [loses a whole other life]. Every moment of every day. Every single decision we make, every breath we draw, opens some doors and closes many others. Most of them we don't notice. Some we do. Sounds like you noticed one.
Gail Andrews in Douglas Adams' "Mostly Harmless"

Now logic is a wonderful thing but it has, as the processes of evolution discovered, certain drawbacks. Anything that thinks logically can be fooled by something else that thinks at least as logically as it does.
Douglas Adams in "Mostly Harmless"

There were so many different ways in which you were required to provide absolute proof of your identity these days that life could easily become extremely tiresome just from that factor alone, never mind the deeper existential problems of trying to function as a coherent consciousness in an epistemologically ambiguous physical universe.
Douglas Adams in "Mostly Harmless"
(think about this one every time you get irked by a 2FA app... but mostly I realized the "epistemologically ambiguous" really stuck with me.)
Ford even began to whistle, which was probably his mistake. Nobody likes a whistler, particularly not the divinity that shapes our ends.
Douglas Adams in "Mostly Harmless"

[on 'Advice for a Traveler'] Get a beach house [...] A beach house doesn't even have to be on the beach. Though the best ones are. We all like to congregate at boundary conditions. [...] Where land meets water. Where earth meets air. Where body meets mind. Where space meets time. We like to be on one side, and look at the other.
The Old Man on the Pole, Douglas Adams' "Mostly Harmless"
This is right before Arthur goes to the planet Bartledan (I deeply suspect Adams had a friend named Dan Bartle or some such), where the population just ... doesn't wish for anything. Just like "The Ruler of the Universe" (who doubts absolutely everything that's not right in front of him, and even then his senses or interpretations may be playing tricks) was a commentary on philosophical skepticism, this is DNA teasing the implications of Buddhist non-desire/non-attachment.
A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof was to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
Douglas Adams in "Mostly Harmless"

The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair.
Douglas Adams in "Mostly Harmless"

He had had a nasty feeling that that might be an idiotic thing to do, but he did it anyway, and sure enough it had turned out to be an idiotic thing to do. You live and learn. At any rate, you live.
Douglas Adams in "Mostly Harmless"
Damn it, I was wondering where I got that line from.
"At this point I was very worried. And, I think, semiconcussed. I was down on my knees and bleeding profusely, so I did the only thing I could think of, which was to beg. I said please, for Zark's sake, don't take my ship. And don't leave me stranded in the middle of some primitive zarking forest with no medical help and a head injury. I could be in serious trouble and so could she."
"What did she say?"
"She hit me on the head with the rock again."
"I think I can confirm that that was my daughter."
"Sweet kid."
"You have to get to know her," said Arthur.
"She eases up, does she?"
"No," said Arthur, "but you get a better sense of when to duck."
Ford and Arthur in Douglas Adams' "Mostly Harmless"

"The first time I managed to save myself by the most astonishing and--I say this in all modesty--fabulous piece of ingenious quick thinking, agility, fancy footwork and self-sacrifice."
"What was the self-sacrifice?"
"I jettisoned half of a much-loved and I think irreplaceable pair of shoes."
"Why was that self-sacrifice?"
"Because they were mine!" said Ford, crossly.
"I think we have different value systems."
"Well, mine's better."
Ford and Arthur in Douglas Adams' "Mostly Harmless"

June 30, 2023

Welp, farewell to Monster (and the team I was working with at Randstad)

This joke (about how the Jira tickets were all prefixed GLODS- probably for "Global Orbit Design System") I made a day or two ago.
My favorite shirt to wear when I'm at the ending of things is the Pac-Man Kill Screen, a kind of Ragnarok when the level counter hits the suspiciously power of two value of 256.

(I guess in 2020 I had to retire the shirt if a Boxer getting socked, probably from a manga, that I got in Japan. But that was always more for bracing for imminent bad news...)

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