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Photos of the Month August 2023


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It turns out, not doing their art was costing them time, was draining it away, little by little, like a slow but steady leak. They had assumed, wrongly, that there wasn't enough time in the day to do their art, because they assumed (because we're conditioned to assume) that every thing we do costs time. But that math doesn't take energy into account, doesn't grok that doing things that energize you gives you time back. By doing their art, a whole lot of time suddenly returned. Their art didn't need more time; *their time needed their art.*

On The end of cool small cars. My car is nearing the end of its life but there really is not much new I'd like to buy.

September 2, 2023

August was a decent month for music, especially from what Melissa's old coworkers had on during a getaway weekend...

5 star:
Hate On Me (Jill Scott)
Oh man I love the power and slow grind of this - joins the ranks of 5 stars.

4 star:
Clink, Clink Another Drink (Spike Jones & His City Slickers)
Goofy Loony-Tunes-esque novelty song, I just love the lyric "Trinkle, trinkle, trinkle, trinkle / Slice of cheese and bite of pickle / Doesn't even cost a nickel / Now to wash it down"
Hey! (I'm Dead) (Jank Sinatra)
Kind of a novelty song, but a real earworm.
Ken Makes a Discovery (Mark Ronson & Andrew Wyatt)
JP Honk does a "2001" version, and this one from the Barbie movie has some great funk.
Quality Control (Jurassic 5)
Jurassic 5 was a conscious throwback, and the way they dip into unison is great. Also fantastic groove.
Jock-A-Mo (Sugar Boy Crawford)
Been doing some due diligence about "Iko Iko" that JP Honk has taken on, this recording is big in its history.

3 star:
Boom Clap (Charli XCX)
Strange Things Will Happen (The Radio Dept.)
Alors on danse (Stromae)
Bomfalleralla (Afasi & Filthy)
Light (Michael Kiwanuka)
All Shook Up (Ry Cooder)
Opus 12Eee (Harry "The Hipster" Gibson)
Personal (Ice T)
Tap In (Saweetie)
Cumbia (Mexican Institute of Sound)
So What (Biréli Lagrène & Sylvain Luc)
Barbie World (with Aqua) (Nicki Minaj & Ice Spice)
Sinfonía Agridulce (Mexican Institute of Sound)
New Partner (Palace Music)
Which Side Are You On? (Rude Mechanical Orchestra)
Psyché rock (Les Yper-Sound)
Clearly a big inspiration for the "Futurama" theme song (especialy the chimes) but the modem noise makes it insufferable, and I may banish it to "2 star"

September 3, 2023

Yesterday I had the single most delightful body of water related activity I've ever had in New England - this tidal creek at Good Harbor Beach near Gloucester
As the tide comes in or out you are gently swept along, carried along in a way that combines the floatiness of the ocean, the movement of a river, and the choice of depths of a pond. Then you clambor onto shore, walk back and do it again. You can just float along, or feel like you're Michael Phelps achieving mighty speed with your swimming form, or bound along the creek bed. water-aerobics style - I was able to recreate a feeling I get in my dreams, where I step step and then glide forward upright, my feet an inch or two above the ground.
There are some caveats: I think you have to time things around high tide for that day (I'm guess if high tide was noon, 9am-11am and then 1pm to 3pm might be optimal?). Non-residents have to reserve parking way ahead of time. It looks like they've had some bacteria problems over the years, so you have to make sure its open. And there are rocks under parts of it so as the water lowers you need to take some care and put up with some possible bumps and scratches.
But despite all that, it has the potential to be one the best in-the-water times ever!

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September 4, 2023

I feel as a kid in the 80s we saw this illusion a lot, but not so much now...

I'd almost consider making a third addition to my (relative innocuous) tattoo set, but I'm not sure I like its message. Like, there is no correct way of interpreting the whole thing, and the "2 square legs" and "3 round legs" are equally valid. And that's kind of the opposite of my life philosophy, which is that there IS a universal Truth, and some views of it are more likely correct than others, but we are definitely uncertain about what the Truth is.

September 5, 2023

"In the early 70s, the capital class stages a revolt of the rich against the poor. The post-World War II consensus had transferred too much wealth and too much power to the working class, so the rich made it their mission to dismantle that consensus and make sure it could never re-emerge. First Nixon and then Reagan built and institutionalized debt traps, slashed social spending, annihilated labor unions, and poisoned the very idea that there was any such thing as "society" or that we could work together to solve our shared problems."
It's an antidote to the kind of leftist/central view of "things are getting better and better, poverty is decreasing" etc , at least in terms of the American condition. Not that I'm that much of an American First-er either. But the idea of how we were founded as a plantation economy, and then later we got a giant post-war boost, having been shielded from the downsides of war by big oceans and friendly neighbors, but now it's just a slow grind back... oy.
charlie brown ascending

September 6, 2023

Boston is Philly that thinks it's Paris
Kurt Braunohler

Thanks to Paul Gregory, drummer and founding member of Good Trouble (née Second Line) - he uses his skills with fabric materials and construction to make custom accessories for fellow musicians - attached stick bags for drummers, a seatbelt-ish arrangement for lightweight sousaphones that lets a disassembled horn act like a backpack while biking, or in my case, a small releasable strap attaching a cheap passport pouch I bought (for holding band business cards, valve oil, and washable markers for my tuba banner) to the back of the horn.

(Some other tuba players have bags for mouthpieces and neck "bits" in a pouch in front, but I was preferring it behind me - with my tuba beads I have enough stuff dangling there - and now I don't have to rely on stretch-y cloth to keep it held down)

from Higgs' "The Brandy of the Damned"

Chapter 2.
9. The wise person says, 'I do not know how the Universe came to be.'
10. 'But I'm pretty sure it wasn't my fault.'
from the saner, future Bible in JMR Higgs' "The Brandy of the Damned"

Now, there's nothing on Earth like the love of a teenage girl for a teenage boy. I mean its borderline insane, it's a physical thing. It's painful. It's proper nuts. I've wondered why this is, and I can only assume that its nature's way of compensating for the fact that teenage boys are fucking idiots. They are all morons, the lot of them, and this might have caused the human race to die out had Mother Nature not robbed teenage girls of any sense of reason or perspective. They love teenage boys so blindly that it doesn't matter how awful they are.

Now, these intense first relationships aren't going to last. The boy is so freaked out by the intensity of the girl that he wants to escape, or the girl wants a boy to live up to the pedestal that she has put him on. Either way, these things rarely last beyond the teenage years, which is all well and good. The woman learns not to love so deeply, to keep her distance, and she becomes wiser and more alluring and more marvellous. But the boy, he not only learns nothing but he assumes that what happened was normal, because that relationship is all he knows. He thinks, 'well, the fact that I was worshipped must simply be because I am *exceptional*. I'm some kind of rock star poet.' And, he assumes, other women will think so too. So he goes through life, relationship after relationship, not being worshipped by saner, wiser women, and eventually cracks at some point in his forties. He has his mid-life crisis and tries to fuck girls that are far too young for him, just because they might activate that poor withering collection of neurons that still think being worshipped is part and parcel of a healthy relationship.
JMR Higgs, "The Brandy of the Damned"

Actually scratch that, [Music is] not like a drug. It *is* a drug. It's something that you take to change how you're feeling. It's a mood changer, it's uppers or downers. It triggers emotions that you shouldn't really be experiencing at that point. It's fake, ultimately, fake emotions. Or at the very least, emotions that someone else is having for you. Too much of it does you no good at all.
JMR Higgs, "The Brandy of the Damned"

Graeme was pushing the conversation towards the awkward zone, the no-go area that we'd avoided during the rest of the journey. Should we go there now? It was a good a time as any. If scabs are not meant to be picked, then why are they so eminently pick-able?
JMR Higgs, "The Brandy of the Damned"

I had lost my respect for rationality long ago. The intellect is not the tool for discerning the future, it never has been and it never will be. It ranks somewhere behind random guessing and answering every question with the statement 'It'll be fine.' Personally I try to rely on gut instinct.
JMR Higgs, "The Brandy of the Damned"

Chapter 37.
1. If you apply meaning to a thing you have made, then you have art.
2. If you apply meaning to a person, then you have love.
3. If you apply meaning to the universe, then you have God.
4. There is an inexhaustible supply of meaning.
5. Meaning costs nothing.
6. So what's the problem again?
7. *The wise man says, 'But meaning comes and goes. Sometimes it is there, sometimes it is not. That's just how it is. I wish things were different but they are not.'*
8. *'Once you accept that, we can move on to the little matter of the meaning of meaning.'*
The saner future bible in JMR Higgs' "The Brandy of the Damned"

Blue, green, brown or grey.

And how do we know? We just see it. We see it in their eyes. And it is that moment of recognition that forms our memory. Those eyes. We remember those eyes. Be they blue, green, brown or grey.

The sea is the colour of eyes, in all their variations. It changes to match everyone in turn. Every shade in its repertoire matches someone somewhere, and if you wait long enough it will eventually become the colour of the eyes which have looked at you with love.
JMR Higgs, "The Brandy of the Damned"

I saw that all events on that road existed regardless of whether I had already passed through them, or whether I had yet to experience them. They were like the roads we had driven on and the towns we had passed through on our journey round the coast. We were at the bottom of Cornwall, yet everywhere we had travelled still existed, from Portmeirion to the Hill O'Many Stanes, from Blackpool to Brighton. So did every road in between, every yard, every inch. Time was no different. It was all there, eternal. Every last second.
JMR Higgs, "The Brandy of the Damned"

We think that this world is ours, don't we? We think that it's the planet of people, and that people do stuff like making music. This world isn't ours. Music was here a long time before we arrived. It was here before we recorded, or wrote it down as a score, or danced to the drums around the communal fire. The birds sang before we did, and the whales before them. It will continue long after you or I have gone. It will continue after mankind has gone. Those cockroaches will make some amazing sounds. We are temporary. Music is not.
JMR Higgs, "The Brandy of the Damned"

September 8, 2023

Note for future argumentative self, this article on how the nra rewrote the second amendment.
I gave blood yesterday! I went to the red cross at the local Knights of Columbus, because it's like a 10-15 minute walk.

The little monument to "God's Unborn Children" outside gave me a little pause. (And also how Columbus was kind of a raging asshole whose slavemongering ways were offensive even by the standards of his day) But you know... it was a nice, air conditioned space. Like without compromising my staunch pro-choice views, I think the nation might be better when we can still co-operate on points of agreement and for good causes, even as both sides keep advocating for the issues they find important.

September 9, 2023

I was a very nervous kid, I was anxious all the time when I was younger, but what's nice is that some of the things I was anxious about don't bother me at all anymore. Like, uh, I always thought that quicksand was going to be a much bigger problem than it turned out to be. Because if you watch cartoons, quicksand is like the third biggest thing you have to worry about in adult life behind real sticks of dynamite and giant anvils falling on you from the sky.
John Mulaney, 2012
Hot take: youthful Mulaney wasn't wrong. But it turns out the quicksand is your email inbox.

(Also didn't realize he was one the main sources of this quote... we saw him and Jon Stewart and Pete Davidson last night!)

September 10, 2023

Spoiler alert: chocolate and coffee are the international language.

September 11, 2023


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September 12, 2023

The first guy I know who died
I can't remember his name
The tenth grade started, he just never came again
All his friends sat around and cried for a day or two

You can say what you want about immortal soul
When that guy died it left a hole
It was my first clue
That when they're gone they're gone

Maybe Jesus beat that rap
We're not sure
Maybe you can live forever
If your heart is pure

Or maybe you'll come back
Some day a a king prawn
Maybe angels come
And take you away to heaven

Or the other way
But from down here it appears
That when they're gone
They're gone

Me and Stevie Gibson used to walk home from school
He used to have this little turn around rule
If you turn around the one way gotta turn around
The other way or it's bad luck
He went out rafting on the river
The river went around and the raft went around
And his luck got all wound up and he drowned
And he was gone

Maybe Jesus beat that rap
We're not sure
Maybe you can live forever
If your heart is pure

Or maybe you'll come back
Some day a a king prawn
Maybe angels come
And take you away to heaven

Or the other way
But from down here it appears
That when they're gone
They're gone

Two weeks after Dieter died you could call him on the phone
And he would tell you that he's not home
And it gave you an eerie feeling even though you knew
It was just an answering machine

'Cause somewhere deep inside you know
That they don't come back when they go
And he had gone
And when they're gone, they're gone
Dan Reeder, "Maybe", a beautiful plainspun song.

Usenet Lives??? I used to love alt.fan.cecil-adams, alt.folklore.computer, rec.games.video.classic, and comp.sys.palmtops.pilot
From my devblog - Requiem for Visual Basic, a few interesting links and my personal history

September 13, 2023

Earliest Recording of the word "F*ck" (1885):

September 14, 2023

The Science of the Perfect Second - a meta-article about us measuring time with insane accuracy - it made me think of a bit from the book Eifelheim (which plays with first contact with aliens during medievel germany times) - but in the present era a scientist notices old measurements of the speed of light were faster...
"Think it through, Jackson. Light speed is frequency times wavelength. So if c is dropping and wavelength is constant, frequencies must be increasing."
"So," she said, her excitement building, "atomic frequencies govern the rate at which atomic clocks tick. Of course, the speed of light has been constant since they began using atomic clocks to measure it. The instrument is calibrated to the thing it's measuring!
and I wonder if there could be anything like that

from James Gleick's "The Information"

Man the food-gatherer reappears incongruously as information-gatherer.
Marshall McLuhan in 1967, via James Gleick's "The Information"

Odysseus wept when he heard the poet sing of his great deeds abroad because, once sung, they were no longer his alone. They belonged to anyone who heard the song.
Ward Just, via James Gleick's "The Information"

Language is not a technology, no matter how well developed and efficacious. It is not best seen as something separate from the mind; it is what the mind does. "Language in fact bears the same relationship to the concept of mind that legislation bears to the concept of parliament," says Jonathan Miller: "it is a competence forever bodying itself in a series of concrete performances."
James Gleick, "The Information"

Whereas the total vocabulary of any oral language measures a few thousand words, the single language that has been written most widely, English, has a documented vocabulary of well over a million words, a corpus that grows by thousands of words a year.
James Gleick, "The Information"

In our world of ingrained literacy, thinking and writing seem scarcely related activities. We can imagine the latter depending on the former, but surely not the other way around: everyone thinks, whether or not they write. But Havelock was right. The written word--the persistent word--was a prerequisite for conscious thought as we understand it.
James Gleick, "The Information"

On two occasions I have been asked,--"Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" In one case a member of the Upper, and in the other a member of the Lower, House put this question. I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.
Charles Babbage via James Gleick's "The Information"

Cannot work on account of rain

The rain has done much good

The rain has done a great amount of damage

The rain is now pouring down in good earnest

Every prospect of the rain continuing

Rain much needed

Rain at times

Rainfall general
William Clauson-Thue's "The A B C Universal Commercial Electric Telegraphic Code", some of the codes for messages pertaining to rain (11310–11330)
(via James Gleick's "The Information")

To employ the telephone, one just talked. A child could use it. For that very reason it seemed like a toy. In fact, it seemed like a familiar toy, made from tin cylinders and string. The telephone left no permanent record. *The Telephone* had no future as a newspaper name. Business people thought it unserious. Where the telegraph dealt in facts and numbers, the telephone appealed to emotions.
James Gleick, "The Information"

It may sound ridiculous to say that Bell and his successors were the fathers of modern commercial architecture--of the skyscraper. But wait a minute. Take the Singer Building, the Flatiron Building, the Broad Exchange, the Trinity, or any of the giant office buildings. How many messages do you suppose go in and out of those buildings every day? Suppose there was no telephone and every message had to be carried by a personal messenger? How much room do you think the necessary elevators would leave for offices? Such structures would be an economic impossibility.
John J. Carty arguing that the telephone, as much as the elevator, had made skyscrapers possible, via James Gleick's "The Information"

Thornton C. Fry, enjoyed the tension between theory and practice--the clashing cultures. "For the mathematician, an argument is either perfect in every detail or else it is wrong," he wrote in 1941. "He calls this 'rigorous thinking.' The typical engineer calls it 'hair-splitting.'

" The mathematician also tends to idealize any situation with which he is confronted. His gases are "ideal," his conductors "perfect," his surfaces "smooth." He calls this "getting down to essentials." The engineer is likely to dub it "ignoring the facts."
James Gleick "The Information"

It used to be supposed in Science that if everything was known about the Universe at any particular moment then we can predict what it will be through all the future.... More modern science however has come to the conclusion that when we are dealing with atoms and electrons we are quite unable to know the exact state of them; our instruments being made of atoms and electrons themselves.
Turing, via James Gleick's "The Information"

There was a difference in emphasis between Shannon and Wiener. For Wiener, entropy was a measure of disorder; for Shannon, of uncertainty. Fundamentally, as they were realizing, these were the same. The more inherent order exists in a sample of English text--order in the form of statistical patterns, known consciously or unconsciously to speakers of the language--the more predictability there is, and in Shannon's terms, the less information is conveyed by each subsequent letter. When the subject guesses the next letter with confidence, it is redundant, and the arrival of the letter contributes no new information. Information is surprise.
James Gleick, "The Information"
Seems very relevant to today's ChatGPT crew...
Information can be considered as order wrenched from disorder.
Heinz Von Foerster, via James Gleick's "The Information"

Some son-of-a-bitch will invent a machine to measure Spring with.
E. E. Cummings, via James Gleick's "The Information"

You cannot stir things apart.
Tom Stoppard's Arcadia, via James Gleick's "The Information"

Alan Turing once whimsically proposed a number N, defined as "the odds against a piece of chalk leaping across the room and writing a line of Shakespeare on the board."
James Gleick, "The Information"

Szilárd made clear that he did not wish to invoke a living demon, with, say, a brain--biology brought troubles of its own. "The very existence of a nervous system," he noted, "is dependent on continual dissipation of energy." (His friend Carl Eckart pithily rephrased this: "Thinking generates entropy.")
James Gleick, "The Information"

Any one who considers arithmetical methods of producing random digits is, of course, in a state of sin.
von Neumann, via James Gleick's "The Information"
I remember my friend and mentor Paul Morville printing that out and posting it in a lab where we worked, the implication that my frustration with bugs generated in code (probably code I had written) were making such random chaos.
Septimus, in Tom Stoppard's drama Arcadia. "Thousands of poems--Aristotle's own library ... How can we sleep for grief?"

"By counting our stock," Septimus replies. "You should no more grieve for the rest than for a buckle lost from your first shoe, or for your lesson book which will be lost when you are old. We shed as we pick up, like travelers who must carry everything in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those behind. The procession is very long and life is very short. We die on the march. But there is nothing outside the march so nothing can be lost to it. The missing plays of Sophocles will turn up piece by piece, or be written again in another language."
James Gleick's "The Information"

Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to GOD.
T. S. Eliot via James Gleick's "The Information"

Once a piece of information is filed, it is statistically unlikely ever to be seen again by human eyes. Even in 1847, Augustus De Morgan, Babbage's friend, knew this. For any random book, he said, a library was no better than a wastepaper warehouse. "Take the library of the British Museum, for instance, valuable and useful and accessible as it is: what chance has a work of being known to be there, merely because it is there? If it be wanted, it can be asked for; but to be wanted it must be known. Nobody can rummage the library."

Too much information, and so much of it lost. An unindexed Internet site is in the same limbo as a misshelved library book. This is why the successful and powerful business enterprises of the information economy are built on filtering and searching. Even Wikipedia is a combination of the two: powerful search, mainly driven by Google, and a vast, collaborative filter, striving to gather the true facts and screen out the false ones. Searching and filtering are all that stand between this world and the Library of Babel.
James Gleick, "The Information"

from Michael Flynn's "Eifelheim"

"Eifelheim" was an interesting book describing a first contact with aliens in Medieval Germany, just before the Black Plague swept through. It plays with some ideas about light speed possibly not being the constant we assume it to be throughout the history of the Universe. (Which is a legit if unproven concept, and in the book also ties with time as being quantized, claiming that ties into some red shift quantization some have observed.)

The book really shows a thoughtful form of old Christianity, where "natural law" was explored as a way of discovering God's creation, and simplified "God just did it" explanations were not favored. But in some ways, us "moderns" have more in common with the aliens than with the pious of the time.
["There is nothing so well established as the constancy of light speed."] was the wrong thing to say, not only because there really were several other things better established, but because there is nothing guaranteed to get the back up of a no-fooling scientist than *argument from authority*.
Michael Flynn, "Eifelheim"

Think it through, Jackson. Light speed is frequency times wavelength. So if c is dropping and wavelength is constant, frequencies must be increasing. [...] So, atomic frequencies govern the rate at which atomic clocks tick. Of course, the speed of light has been constant since they began using atomic clocks to measure it. The instrument is calibrated to the thing it's measuring!
Michael Flynn, "Eifelheim"

"Those who hold the middle ground," said Gregor, "are often attacked by both camps. Between two armies is a dangerous place to graze your flock."
Michael Flynn, "Eifelheim"

"If a sinner truly repents, he dies to sin and a new man is born. That is what it means to forgive, for it defies reason to blame one man for the deeds of another."
Dietrich in Michael Flynn's "Eifelheim"

September 17, 2023

Heh, an excercise trend called 'rucking' where you're hiking and moving with a back full of weights.

Wonder if my sousaphone counts? 25 lbs right there baby.
Behind the H-Mart in Central is a sitting rock that rocks, literally and figuratively. Which makes me wonder why "rock" became the poster child noun for either verb, frankly.

September 18, 2023

Great things from Japan pantomime :

September 19, 2023

I use mardi gras throws (the more hip term for "beads") on my tuba for decoration and as back up percussion. As the loops break I retire them and put them in jars...

Just the other day I realized that two of the main problems with them might cancel each other out: they break and they are tough to untangle. But that might just mean: they can be repaired! Re-tangling a broken loop at the end by twisting the beads around each other seems like it might be weirdly stronger than a lot of the basic connections? I'll have to make some experiments to see how they survive under real-world conditions, but still...
Borrowing Blockbusters: The Best, Worst and Weirdest Star Wars Knock Offs This was fun to watch.
Sure, I WAS Team Pfizer - but now that Moderna has a vaccine with a name as macho as I am - SPIKEVAX (all caps) how could I resist?

Also I like that the Walgreens worker jdgaf about band-aid placement for proper logo display- same for the flu shot bandaid on the other arm...

September 20, 2023

it's been said before and i'm sure said better than i can phrase it. but really, really - if you like making "i'm going to kill myself" jokes, please try switching to being ironically conceited instead.

anytime something goes wrong, say things like "ah well at least i'm beautiful and charming and everyone loves me." when you forget something, try "my big huge brain is so smart and thinking about too many other very big wizardly thoughts you wouldn't even *understand*." when you're frustrated by one of your symptoms, start talking like you're in My Immortal. "Life has come for me but my eyes are beautiful pools of gorgeous fire and my hair is amazing. I stuck my middle finger up at life and told it to fuck off and it did."

just... try it for a month or two. try saying the most absurdly self-congratulatory shit you can think of.

i know it's tempting to make suicide or self-harm jokes. and for me at least, a decade ago (!) when someone suggested i stop making those kinds of jokes, i was kind of at a loss for what to replace them with. i wanted to make light of these moments, but *genuinely* (at the time) my first thought *really* was suicidal ideation. there was a part of me that even felt like ... i was kind of "making light" of that voice. that if i could say *i want to die lol*, it would help take the sting out of that genuine (albeit passive) desire. like i could turn my illness into a joke.

when i started complimenting myself instead, it felt awkward and stupid. it felt really, *really* ironic. what i was actually saying was *nobody would ever think this stuff about me, that's what makes it so fucking funny*.

but. the effect was immediate. first thing i noticed was the people around me. when i dropped a glass and said *ah my skin is too beautiful and sleek the glass has swooned and broken for me*, other people were suddenly overjoyed to jump in with the joke. rather than making an awkward moment, we'd both start cracking up. *ah princess sleek hands, i've heard of you*.

i was 19. i hadn't noticed i'd been making others tense when i said *i want it all to end*. i know now that it's *incredibly* hard to know how to walk that moment - do you talk to them about your concern? do you potentially make them uncomfortable by asking if they're okay? do you ignore the situation? do you help them pick up the glass, or do they need to do it by themselves? are they genuinely made suicidal over this small moment? and most importantly, how do you - without professional training or supplies - actually help?

most people want to help you pick up the glass in your life, they just have no fucking idea how to do it. they don't want to make anything worse. they don't want to make assumptions about you. they love you, they're scared for you - and being scared makes people kind of freeze up. it's not because they don't love you. it's because they do.

now when something bad happens, my first thought is *how can i make a stupid joke about this*. it isn't my brain saying *you're a dumb fucking bitch*. i spend more time laughing. i spend more time being gentle with myself. i spend more time feeling good.

and the thing is - what's kind of funny - is that you'd be surprised by how many people *agree with you*. the first time i said *i'm too pretty to understand that*, someone else said *to be fair you're the prettiest person in this room*. i promise - you really don't know how kindly your friends see you. but they love you for a reason. they sort of reverse-velveteen-rabbit you. your weird and ugly spots fade away and you just become... the love they want to give you.

go love yourself ironically. the worst thing that happens is that you end up tricking your reflection into *actually* loving you.

My one basic opinion is that nobody should ever have to live in poverty and boy oh boy does this make some motherfuckers real mad!

why is the sky so weird today?
Today I learned "Baby Shark" was originally about a shark attack. Always wondered why it ended so pointlessly.

September 21, 2023

Just donated Platelets at the Red Cross. Nice excuse to Netflix and get slightly chilled (a common side effect of round trip of the rest of the blood plus saline, remedied by nice preheated blankets they are happy to provide.)

Note to future self: don't over do the "cut back on water just before" , since your bladder is pretty robust and it makes veins a bit harder to tap. Also: maybe a more cheerful, less body-horror film than "Annihilation" next time, eh?

September 22, 2023


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A friend Don M was writing about "self sabotage", in his kids and himself. I wrote the following:

Three things tangential to this, or maybe the same damn thing:

* it feels less bad to not try and not succeed than to try and fail: the objective results are roughly the same, and the former is much easier on the ego. Your limits aren't put in such sharp relief.

* Also: what if you put in the grind, and succeed? Well, should it have really been that hard? (Imposter syndrome rears its ugly head)

* Or what if you succeed, and it isn't even that hard, and you get what you want, and life still sucks? what then?

The antidotes for these aren't obvious, and even harder to put into practice:

* You have to take the observation of Jake the Dog to heart: ""Sucking at something is the first step to being sorta good at somethin" - and put aside the natural hope of the ego to just be naturally effortlessly good at everything.

* You have to realize that the point isn't necessarily to be good at The Thing, the point is to get better at leaning into challenges - because life is ALWAYS challenging! Like if it's not challenging, someone would already be doing it

* As part of a larger life goal thing, you need to be able erect an Andy Warhol "So what?" field around things. "I'm going to do a bad job at this?" "So what?" "Well I'll feel less good about myself!" "so what?" "well i'll end up further from my path at being a millionaire?" "so what?" It's an especially harsh but easy to remember form of Buddhist detachment, about not connecting our current contentment to the rest of the world being in a certain way

September 23, 2023

Tropical Storm Ophelia likely to bring heavy rain to Massachusetts...

You're breakin' my heart
You're makin' this dane
Oh Ophelia!
It's makin' me sick
like poor old Yorrick
who I knew, who I knew

Makin' love
in the afternoon
it's my uncle
in my mom's bedroom
and Ophelia
has come undone
handing out flowers
to most everyone

It's changin' my tune
All the slings + arrows
of outrageous fortune
I'm worried a lot
about whether to be...
...or be not

This photo of my bandmate Cathleen and her trombone via Cambridge Day
(Photo: Kate Wheatley)

Never past your prime! 13 peaks we reach at 40 or later – from sex to running to self-esteem
cool video on what's inside the clocktower of Big Ben

September 24, 2023

Elegant and powerful new result that seriously undermines large language models - LLMS such as ChatGPT make interesting mistakes that point out the limits of what they do, and may prove to be a sidebranch on any path the general "true" Artificial Intelligence. They aren't building their own model of the world "in their head", instead they are phenomenally good at predicting at what our model of the world - communally established in the form of written language - would say when confronted with a new variation.

But that lack of model is weird! The case study they give (which I duplicated via ChatGPT/GPT4) is that it can't tell you who Mary Lee Pfeiffer is the parent of... but then can tell you that one of Tom Cruise's parents is Mary Lee Pfeiffer. And this kind of gap was predicted in discussion of earlier forms of neural networks - which may indicate it's a fundamental problem, a shortcoming that can't readily be bridged.

It reminds me of Marvin Minsky's late 60s work with Perceptrons. ChatGPT was able to to remind me of the details -

Minsky and Papert proved that a single-layer perceptron cannot solve problems that aren't linearly separable, like the XOR problem. Specifically, a single-layer perceptron cannot compute the XOR (exclusive or) function.
Of course later multilayer networks (with backpropgation, and later transformers (not the cartoon toys)) overcame these limits, and gave us the LLMs we know are establishing our wary relationships with. So who knows if there could be another breakthrough.

But the results we get with LLMs are astounding - they are a type of "slippery thinking" that is phenomenally powerful... Hofstadter and Sandler called their book "Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking" and I would argue that so much of intelligence is an analogy or metaphor - far branches from the human situation of having to make a model with us as a bodily agent in the world.

And as we find more uses for LLMs, we need to be careful of adversaries thinking one step ahead. Like the once seemingly unstoppable, alien intelligence of AlphaGo derived Go players can be beaten by amatueur players - once other machine learning figured out what AlphaGo can't see on the board.

Suddenly, Captain Kirk tricking intelligent computers with emotional logic doesn't seem as farfetched as it once did...

Had a lovely bit of wine and cheese with Dylan and his mom Linda last night, they introduced me to NY Times' game Connections - I don't know if there are other fellow folks still Wordle-ing out there but "find 4 groups that match 4 at a time" is a stronger concept IMO - I have a lot more love for games that treat words as concepts and not just "an ordered collection of scrabble tiles", and there's some lateral thinking involved I dig - it's not just what do the words mean universally, sometimes there's a specific context (even a pop-culture one) you have to notice.

(It's a little bit like an easier and more human version of Semantle)
Heh, ChatGPT Plays Zork
Had a dream that Taylor Swift announced she was doing a "pronoun reveal" and all the annoying swifties were losing their shit for weeks and saying "I told you so" and then Taylor just tweeted "she/her"

Gonna say something that will definitely get screen capped and used to doxx me someday but like having a fetish isn't. It isn't evil. You know? People have fetishes. It's part of the human condition. You're not a serial killer just because you're unusually and offputtingly hype about women's shoes. Thought crime isn't real and it especially shouldn't be applied to fetishes. Every human brain is a diy project built by unlicensed electricians.

Gonna say something that will definitely get screen capped and used to doxx me someday but like having a fetish isn't. It isn't evil. You know? People have fetishes. It's part of the human condition. You're not a serial killer just because you're unusually and offputtingly hype about women's shoes. Thought crime isn't real and it especially shouldn't be applied to fetishes. Every human brain is a diy project built by unlicensed electricians.

The curious case of Chat GPT and weaponized confirmation bias

September 25, 2023


So why is it "Boston Cream Donuts" are terrific, but a "New York Cream Donut" sounds horrific?
Right, your voters: people who like being told what do, but don't like admitting it.
Rick in "Rick: A Mort Well Lived"

September 26, 2023

Today's naval gazing thought - not entirely new material, but a new extension:

One of my most defining characteristics is this: I *need* to be as close to 100% reliable as humanly possible, for the sake of my sense of personal integrity. Arguably I might have a bit of OCD about it, in a clinical sense.

But here's a weird side effect of that: my need to be reliable, to be utterly dependable, means I generally *don't allow myself to be dependent on others*. Not that I assume that no one is reliable but me, but I can't KNOW they're reliable in the way that I think I am; and so I can't rest my reliability on theirs, and that generates a certain distance.

That's a challenge for relationships. For their own sense of security, people want to feel not just *wanted* but *needed*. (But they also want to feel that they're wanted, and my consistency towards them, say, isn't just an artifact of my need to reliable.) But if you're needed in a "crazy in love" kind of way, that's a strong way of knowing you're not subject to any kind of romantic market forces if "something better" comes along, and maybe for some people that feels more solid than the explanation of how a heart is faithful and true because that heart's owner is overwhelmingly a reliable, dependable person.

(And I don't judge other folks that when they can't be as reliable as I try to be - everyone's got their own battles and may or may not prioritize what's shared in importance between us. But I won't make my own dependability contingent on theirs.)

I mean, overall I think my reliability is a good trait, but it's also behind some of my own self-sabotage. "Under-promise and over-deliver" makes some sense, but it means I tend to make limits about how critical path I become at work, say; the thought of being solely responsible for a large crash-and-burn is just too painful.

Heh, even as far back as sixth grade I can remember refusing my mom's request to commit to getting a certain minimum set of grades; it wasn't that the grades that seemed out of reach, but the danger of that kind of unreliability makes goal setting seem like a fool's errand.

(And of course a few years later my dad died - a weird object lesson on the ultimate unreliability of other people, despite their love for you.)

But this need to not be dependent on others, I'd say it's not as isolating as it might seem. I still cherish how I can generate joy with Melissa and my bands, and make mighty good times! But I'm probably always going to steer away from staking my sense of wholeness as a person on anything that's extrinsic to me... and my preferred model for relationships is a kind of Inter-independence and mutual reliability, with a focus on the shared overlap of happiness and cool stuff.

Heh, it reminds me of this quote, Sonny Forelli in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, dripping with understated menace after a failed drug deal:
I AM worrying, Tommy, that's my style, because I seem to have this problem in my life with UNreliable people. Don't be an UNreliable person, Tommy, please -- Do us both a favor...I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
I guess sometimes I feel like I'm my own Sonny Forelli...
godmybackhurts asked:
Tbh I love when frogs look completely brainless, which is 90% of the time

plaguedocboi answered:
Frogs are a stomach with enough leg to throw themselves at food, they don't have time for this "have thoughts" nonsense

September 27, 2023

I'm thinking of buying a monkey. Then I think, "Why stop at one?" I don't like being limited in that way. Therefore, I'm considering a platoon of monkeys. So that people will look at me and see how mellow and well-adjusted I am compared to these monkeys throwing their feces around.
Robert Downey Jr
You know it probably took me a little too long to notice Robert Downey Jr and Morton Downey Jr were different people.
it's been said before and i'm sure said better than i can phrase it. but really, really - if you like making "i'm going to kill myself" jokes, please try switching to being ironically conceited instead.

anytime something goes wrong, say things like "ah well at least i'm beautiful and charming and everyone loves me." when you forget something, try "my big huge brain is so smart and thinking about too many other very big wizardly thoughts you wouldn't even *understand*." when you're frustrated by one of your symptoms, start talking like you're in My Immortal. "Life has come for me but my eyes are beautiful pools of gorgeous fire and my hair is amazing. I stuck my middle finger up at life and told it to fuck off and it did."
Melissa liked this. They go on to tell examples of friends even joining in.

September 28, 2023

Pre-modern forms of slavery, in Africa and elsewhere, were not typically as brutal as chattel slavery. In the early modern period, a uniquely brutal, industrial form of slavery developed within the plantation economies of the Americas and Portuguese Atlantic islands. Together with West African states, these Atlantic colonies built an international system of human trafficking for the purpose of slavery that was, likewise, uniquely brutal and industrialized. All parties involved bear responsibility for these horrors.
From this summary of why chattel slavery (as seen in the triangle trade) was uniquely bad in history - sometimes conservatives will try to defend the USA by saying "hey, there's been a lot of slavery historically" but honestly it interfaced with capitalism to make new unprecedented scale of cruelty. Much like we view the holocaust as uniquely awful without giving a pass to other genocides.

September 29, 2023

ChatGPT was able to point me to a half-remembered 2008 Wired feature article "Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business. (ironically enough I think that's a pay-walled link, but I am a long time subscriber to the magazine, grew up with it and the internet)

Now, I have little respect for what Elon Musk did to Twitter: Twitter was invaluable as THE breaking news source, the place to follow individual subject matter experts, a fun place to try and go viral with the perfect bon mot, and a way for ordinary folk to talk back at companies out in the open, where the company's reputation was a bit at stake. X is barely any of those things, and has tacked from medium left to hard right in a lot of ways.

But - I think Elon Musk right, that the way "free always wins" (free as in beer, not as in speech) has really hurt our society. I'm not surprised: no one in their right mind feels comfortable with a meter running. It's nice to dream of an Internet where promoting endless binging wasn't the norm and where the ad folks had less sway, but I don't see anyway we get to that from where we started, and I think Wired laid that out clearly 15 years ago.

(I do like Stewart Brand's line: "Information Wants To Be Free. Information also wants to be expensive. ...That tension will not go away.")

September 30, 2023


By analyzing the beliefs of nearly 5,000 people in the United States and Sweden, he found that atheists and theists share a number of moral values: Both groups fervently believe in fairness, liberty (including freedom of belief), and the importance of protecting the vulnerable, and both groups hold surprisingly strong bents toward rationality and evidence-based knowledge.

Where they differ is revealingStåhl suggests that this duo of differences may fuel the widespread stereotype that atheists lack a moral compass: They do, in fact, have quite strong morals, but fail to show reverence for the authority and holiness that believers hold dear, while evaluating morality case by case based on consequences. "They are less inclined than religious people to view [these] as relevant for morality," said Ståhl in a news release.

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Last 4 are from Daveed's 60th Birthday party, quite the shindig!

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