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photos of the month january 2024


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Introducing Wren.
Recovered buried St Joseph Statue with a reconstructed face.
gas station
Annie the Pug

February 2, 2024

It's Groundhog Day! Again.
Like, my God is not an old man in the sky. It's a metaphor. For a mystery. That absolutely transcends all categories of human thought, including being and non-being, but that's too many words for the back of a quarter. That's Joseph Campbell. I got all the best teachers later in life. Like Barry Taylor, the road manager for AC/DC, said, "'God' is the name of the blanket we put over the mystery to give it a shape." Shouldn't I have learned that... in church? Why am I learning this from Barry Taylor...the road manager for AC/DC?

But it doesn't matter if you're an atheist or a theist. I actually think we're all kind of in the same boat. Really I do.

Some people think God created the universe. Some people think Nothing created the universe... which is the funniest guess.

And the nothing people make fun of the God people. They say, "God doesn't exist". I'm like, "okay, maybe". But you know what definitely doesn't exist? NOTHING. That's the defining characteristic of nothing, is that it doesn't exist.

So what are we talking about? Either you think it's God... something you can't see touch taste photograph and science can't prove, or you think it's nothing... something you can't see touch taste photograph and science can't prove. But I think we can all agree, if your nothing sometimes spontaneously erupts into everything, that's a pretty goddamn magical fucking nothing, you guys.

And ask... ask the "nothing" people "what happens when you die?" They'll tell you "Nothing. You go into nothing." I'm like, "You mean you merge back with your creator? ...That's heaven, bitch."

So no one, no matter what you believe, you shouldn't be afraid to die. 'Cause if you go into nothing, and one of the things nothing does is explode into EVERYTHING, nothing isn't the end, it's just a pit stop on the way to a new beginning. Let's pray. "Heavenly Father, you are in fact no-thing..."
Pete Holmes, "I Am Not for Everyone" Netflix Special
(I previously quoted the first bit, but realized the second part is a nice and sympathetic issue of the hand waving both sides do. The God people don't want you to ask "then what created God", the Nothing people need to believe that "maybe nothing is, like, unstable" - which still implies some kind of something of a framework...)
layoffs.fyi tells me dot-com-bust-ii is still ongoing and it's a miserable time for techies, though the US added many jobs in January.

Still I wanted to add this image I ran into on tumblr after failing to search for it a few weeks ago, about how productivity growth and wages have violently forked, starting in the late 70s.

The punchline of the musical "Hello, Dolly" is that mean old Vandergelder share's Dolly's view that "Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It's not worth a thing unless it's spread around, encouraging young things to grow.". I think even that racist anti-semite Henry Ford got that paying better wages is better than waiting for "trickle down" to magically occur.
A history of MAD
via Statista - I've really been wondering about this chart, especially hearing how the USA added a surprising chunk of jobs in January.

Tech jobs took a massive hit at the start of quarantine but was back where it was in about a year - and kept on going.

This chart makes it look we're still about about where we might have been otherwise, but this is as of October 2023... and I haven't seen too many signs that the roller coaster back down leveled out or resumed its ascension.

February 3, 2024

Whoa. I feel like I know the Bible pretty well, but somehow I missed or forgot the physical comedy of Absalom getting his hair stuck in an oak tree as his Donkey walked on, and so being slain by the commander of David's troops (2 Samuel 18)
Here is a summary from the excellent funny yet fairly comprehensive retelling of the whole Bible, Mark Russell's "God Is Disappointed In You":
Leading an army, with the throne of Israel on the line, David returned in force, and creamed Absalom's army. While fleeing the battle, Absalom got his long, beautiful hair caught on a tree branch which pulled him off his horse and left him dangling helplessly from a tree. When his pursuers found him hanging there like a piñata, they couldn't help but whack at him with their swords and spears. Unfortunately, no candy came pouring out of Absalom, just blood and organs.
Mark Russell, "God Is Disappointed In You"

(Guess I missed this last year) Arguing second amendment crap with gun lovers, I sometimes talk about how America worships the Great God Gun, and we just accept that we have to sacrifice kids and others to Him from time to time.

MAGA folks replacing American Flag lapel pins with AR-15 pins seems to reinforce this interpretation....

The Prince and the Coachline Painter oh man maybe i could hire this dude to put a coachline on my '04 Scion xA??
The Prince and the Coachline Painter oh man maybe i could hire this dude to put a coachline on my '04 Scion xA? (He'd have to work around the dented wheel well fender, so it should be a good test for his expertise.)
Sophie proposed a small hike today - I either didn't know or forgot about Cascade Falls in the fells - rocks with water are so much more interesting than just rocks with trees.

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February 4, 2024

The other day, I added a new piece of room decor that makes my inner child so, so happy: an Arcade1Up 2/3 scale edition of the old Star Wars arcade game. That game just grabbed me so hard as a kid - the idiosyncratic "yoke" controller just feels so good, and the 3 stages of Death Star destroying action are so well crafted.

I wanted to get this game when we got the condo but it was out of stock in 2021, but they rereleased in time for to be an early Birthday gift to myself.

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Moving my dad's typewriter back, along with an interesting fake tree - my mom uses something similar as a holidayable-but-year-round porch decoration, and I think it has a good vibe with the St James Infirmary poster Melissa got me in New Orleans (and an authentic circa-1894 Circus Train poster my dad acquired). Also the red rustoleum cat "hiss kitty" is peeking out from the door.
Thew new view from my webcam.... newish geek "CSS Flexbox" poster I need to rehang more properly, a typography art piece, the "Glorious Trainwrecks" poster, a cheap Blue baritone, Books, a tiny Centipede game, Alien Bill, the new Star Wars addition, a print from my dad's collection, hulk hands, a keyboard, and a tuba. Espcially with the tuba, I think this space is giving "Animal Crossing". (IYKYK)
Where the magic happens. A random bird print, some Futurama needlework by my cousin Llara, a framed photo I took, my dad's needlework of an indigenous Alaskan (I think) print, JP Honk, my "Wall of Peeps", a vintage poster of a Boston intersection recliamed from a library archive, 2 monitors, my trusty Macbook, a funky Klipsch speaker, a print of Dylan and me, a streetsign retooled into an artist's palette.
Panorama of the whole space. I really wish I had documented every "my room" I've ever had...
Arguably I don't really have room for the arcade game, but between a renewed effort to keep my office orderly (which is surprisingly soothing) and some rearranging and other newish-decor, I am really digging my space.

I also did a panorama shot when I first settled in circa 2021. I've given up the CRT/Atari setup. If we had a bigger space I still have the gear to have a lot of old game systems going, but to be honest I don't think I miss it all that much, and this new arcade replica really lands for me. The art on the side is so gorgeous as well... here is a history of its development, including how its controller (which is not like what X-wings have in the movies, but plays so well) came from Bradley Tank simulations Atari was making for the military.

Life tastes better when you're chugging!
Rick/Jerry on the Freaky Friday-ish episode "The Jerrick Trap"
I feel this way especially about popcorn. The best tasting amount of amount of popcorn is as much as you can stuff at your mouth at one time.

February 5, 2024


4 star:
* Firestarter (Torre Florim DE STAAT)
Very odd lounge-y cover of Prodigy's Firestart, used in the intro to "Just Cause 3"
* On the Road Again (Live) (Willie Nelson)
Always loved this song as a kid. (Once upon a time I thought the lyric was "my wife is making music with my friends" and he just wanted to split and get away...)
* Walk on the Water (feat. Ruby Amanfu) (The Chosen, Matthew S. Nelson & Dan Haseltine)
"The Chosen" is a pretty thoughtful Christian show, great rocking Gospel-singer theme.
* Stick Season (Noah Kahan)
Heard this the night job lobby... guess it's making the rounds. First time I heard a pop song referencing COVID.
* Yes No Okay (Charli XCX)
From the kind of middling movie "Bottoms"

3 star:
* Moon Patrol (Tanuki Suit Riot)
Interesting cover of a video game I play all the time in Band...
* Pitfall (The Louvin Brothers)
* Gee, Officer Krupke (Eddie Roll, Grover Dale, Tony Mordente, David Winters, Hank Brunjes & West Side Story Ensemble)
* The Man (Aloe Blacc)
* Alone Too Long (Daryl Hall & John Oates)
* Annie Oakley (Lizzie No)
* Tim to the Rescue (Leo Birenberg)
* Rio Antigo (Camarão)
Possible song for JPHonk.

Recently I saw, but couldn't relocate, a comic that was "Stairs Out of Order" so I decided to try and make it in virtial Lego ("Mecabricks")

Found it! By Douglas Thompson

February 6, 2024

Making the rounds the other week - there's an interesting Australian New Year's tradition where everyone gets psyched about that year's epic commercial celebrating the tradition of eating lamb on the day (put out in support of the lamb industry)

This year's was a legit funny dive into the generation gap:

(love how Gen X always gets cut off.)

I also like the cheeky lamb dinner for all the gods from 2017.

February 7, 2024

Oh cool - more info on the Atari Bradley Tank Trainer that gave Star Wars its awesome controller

the semiotics of the yellow thumbs

Random parallel, about the challenges of various kinds of intersectionality.

My friend was talking a bit about a tension between the trans community, who have been fighting a tough fight for a long while, often saying yes, masculine/feminine is the split but you can't make the categorization based on a reductionist view of biology, vs the community of folks finding a non-binary identity working for them, who would like to underplay those endpoints, and who as of late seem to be having a greater amount of cultural acceptance. Many trans folks would feel part of their identity dismissed if they were just lumped into a "they/them" bucket.

(But as my friend Sarah pointed out in FB comments, this is only part of the story/intracommunity relationship... and I'm remiss for not reiterating my view that the main, overarching point is that people should be more trusted and empowered to recognize and claim their own identity instead of deferring to any outside authoritarian force of prescriptivism (especially when attached to a fifth grade health class level of human biology or a sunday school view of society in general))

For some reason I think of that when I see a post responded to with both semi-generic "yellow thumbs up" and flesh-tone-specific hands. Well-meaning folks in the former camp say it's a generic message carrier, same shade as the generic happy face from the 60s. Other folks say no, that yellow is "default caucasian", the same way the Simpsons are drawn a culturally white shade of yellow, and would prefer more specific representation.

(Facebook is probably wise to blue for an inconic thumbs up, and then the more widely accepted yellow-if-it's-a-circle-face for all the others except heart.)

I guess lean to the former camp preferring unity, but I hate being in parallel with folks who are like "come on! we are in a more or less raceblind society"

we are all strange loops

One of my favorite books is Douglas Hofstadter's"I Am a Strange Loop", which picks up some threads from his more famous "Gödel Escher Bach" but also reflects him coping with the death of his soulmate wife. Hofstadter is trying to see if his ability to have conversations with Carol (based on his earlier history of a proven, high-fidelity ability to predict just what she would say) could in a way BE her living on in his head and heart - in a philosophical (and not merely poetic) way, or if that was just a consoling bit of wishful thinking.

In talking about mind and consciousness, he constructs a playful physical metaphor of the "careenium" - a bouncing-magnetized-pinballs thought experiment of how we come to model the world in our own craniums - a model rich enough to include ourselves as a model doing the modeling, and so on and so on.

Googling to try to remember the term "Careenium", I found this page explaining the concept and comparing it to GPT. One challenge you run into if you collaborate with GPT is that's it's not doing a great job of modeling the problem at hand in its virtual head: its model of the world is fairly static, and a conversation with it (as impressive as it is! Especially if you've played with the previous fruits of AI over the past decades) is just a probabilistic word journey through that static space.

In some ways it's right there in the name: GPT means "Generative Pre-trained Transformer", and the problem is the "Pre" - and earlier "Transfomers" were notably worse at keeping track of what was just said in the dialog.

I guess the implication is if GPT had greatly increased abilities to update its own model on the fly, if that process was more organically bootstrapped and ongoing, it might be a better candidate for "true" Artificial General Intelligence and even consciousness...

The inside of the Weiner Mobile

February 10, 2024

my favorite from a tumblr post of similar new lyrics. Melissa loved the bear one.

February 11, 2024

Heh 12 years ago I posted that my new tuba was back from the shop - but this was the short lived Eb horn that was my entryway back.
On my blog's comments my mom wrote "Looks good. Now how about finding a local community band and joining in?" - good call!

(I'm so glad HONK! is a thing. Concert bands never really did it for me...)

And oof, that hot minute when my beard was dark...

February 12, 2024

The first few notes of Yeah are like sleeper agent trigger words that activate older millennials
(Note to future self: this is certainly about the Usher version since he just did that number at the Super Bowl halftime)
Got me curious so i searched my collection

February 13, 2024


This poem was in my head this morning:
liFe is Not aLL jazz and Joy)
    sMiles and suNNy weaTher!
EVERy golD has it'S aLloy!
    toHOld tHe Stuff together!

!if LUCk is good! why maN aliVE!
    weLcoMe iT! And ch eer iT!
buT if THE drinK'S two seven five
    Try to griN! AND beer iT!
N.B. - heNry is a beetle scab who produced poems for Don Marquis when archy the cockroach went on strike.

from Robert Anton Wilson's "Natural Law"

As [Robert Anton] Wilson pointed out, "certitude is seized by some minds, not because there is any philosophical justification for it, but because such minds have an emotional need for certitude." [...] To sympathise with the Certain for a moment, they do not have it easy. There are billions of people on this planet and they all have wildly differing ideas about politics, ethics, theology, art and science. It is very hard for the Certain to insist that their own position is the only right, true and undeniable one, especially if they posses a basic knowledge of mathematics and probability. You can rationalise away this problem by deciding that the rest of the world is basically composed of idiots, but it is rarely a good idea to admit this publicly.
John Higgs, "Happy Maybe Day"

Life is more accurately measured in probabilities.
Chad Nelson (paraphrasing Robert Anton Wilson)

"Shut up," he explained.
Ring Lardner

Yea, brethren and sistren, now abideth doubt, hope and charity; these three; and the greatest of these is doubt. For doubt puffeth not itself up into pomposity; doubt suffereth long, and is kind. With doubt all things are possible.
Robert Anton Wilson
Other ones I liked:
Science does not assume "natures" spookily indwelling "within" things, at all, at all. Science posits functional relations between "things" or events. These functional relations can also be called patterned coherencies or, in Bucky Fuller's terminology, "knots" – energy patterns and interferences between energies. All scientific models describe such energy "knots" between "things" and not spookily indwelling "within" "things." Science also increasingly doubts the existence of "things" in the [Thomas Aquinas] sense and speaks more of relations between space-time events.
Robert Anton Wilson

In summation, scientific models consist of mathematical generalizations that presently appear useful. The habit of calling these models "laws" is increasingly falling into disfavor, and the working philosophy of most scientists is frankly called "model agnosticism." This attitude is that our models can be considered good, relatively, if they have survived many tests, but none are certain or sacred, and all will be replaced by better models eventually. Models that cannot be tested at all, even in principle, are regarded as meaningless, or as the Logical Positivists used to say, "abuse of language."
Robert Anton Wilson

February 15, 2024


I forget who originally said it, but there's a quote about "Great science fiction isn't predicting the automobile, it's predicting the traffic jam"

February 16, 2024

Thinking of the "Duke of Doubt" (who should be a hero damn it)

That whole time in trying to build a cast for Burger King ala McDonaldland was kind of wild...
Heh, maybe a "just so" story but "Brexit Means Brexit!" as a yell demarcating dangerous and belligerent but not actually productive tackles is kind of brilliant.

February 17, 2024

(Fraught stuff, not trying to undercut anyone's journey about figuring out their internal landscape) Melissa and I got to talking about folks posting checklists of signs you might have ADHD / Autism or other Neurodivergent type things, and it reminded me of learning about "The Barnum Effect" back in college - select phrases that sound specific but really almost anyone can identify with ("Sometimes you can be loud, outgoing, and a people person, but other times you can be quiet, shy, and reserved." "You can be overly harsh on yourself and very critical." "Although you do have some weaknesses, you try very hard to overcome them and be a better person.") This kind of thing are part of what power pop-astrology and some personality tests.

So there's an obvious negative read on it that says people are inclined to use armchair self-diagnosis as an excuse, or be a trend-hopper. But there's a more positive interpretation, like how even the more blatant and acute symptoms of these conditions are still part of the wider human condition, and there are a collection of different underlying conditions that can present in similar ways.

The other spectrum (no pun intended) of response is people who get a great sense of relief when they are diagnosed- like now they have explanations, treatments, and community - vs others who just feel judged, like the diagnosis doesn't change anything material, there's still the same challenges in navigating in society as ever, but now you know people are quick to categorize you and possibly dismiss you rather than appreciate you in a holistic way.

February 18, 2024


10 voiceover tones demonstrated

February 19, 2024

Solar =>Better Teacher Salaries
Strawberry by my nibling Wren. Got ''em a new iPad as an early birthday gift

February 20, 2024

I love it. I've started writing music for the tuba, and I am trying to talk myself into releasing it, but I can only imagine the eye rolls from people being like, this b--h hasn't made an album, [...] It sounds like what the gut feels like to me. There's a way that it takes up space that you can't deny, and it also just feels very Black to me.
Solange via Billboard magazine
(as Rolling Stone headlined, "Solange Knows You Want an Album, But She's Really Into the Tuba Right Now")

February 21, 2024


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(Man that gave me a rush. Reminds me of how I love songs that sing about how "it's all gone wrong")

me holding a gun to a mushroom: tell me the name of god you fungal piece of shit

mushroom: can you feel your heart burning? can you feel the struggle within? the fear within me is beyond anything your soul can make. you cannot kill me in a way that matters

me cocking the gun, tears streaming down my face: I'M NOT FUCKING SCARED OF YOU

Down to Mexico...


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Nice window seat...
Mattie G!
Moon over Barceló Maya...

on the beach in Mexico


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Handsome man Dave
Less impressive dude Kirk
You can snorkel and maybe see Stingrays and Turtles but definitely Fish
Coral... I need to make a post about tips for underwater photography.
Jacked Jaguar
seafood at the Marenostrum
Our hotel the Barceló Maya Colonial
Drinks with Friends (Bareceló Maya Beach)

Akumal Monkey Sanctuary and Anna + Kellie's wedding!


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chill beach day in mexico


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view through our hotel door peephole... three floors up, eye to eye with palm trees
Roof of one of the many buffets
The market near the Bareceló Maya Mall

touring cenotes and snorkeling

We got a tour to check out some cenotes (these underground limestone caverns, many with water and part of an underground river system) and snorkeling near the coral...

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There are trees above that reach all the way down into the caverns below, the root trunks are curiously flexible. (I wonder if this was an inspiration for Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom's underground kingdom and lightroots)

In 2000, 97,488 "morally pure" Floridians voted for the Green Party. When the Supreme Court stopped the recount, George W. Bush won the state, and thus the presidency, by 537 votes.

If Al Gore had won the 2000 election, the US would have started seriously fighting climate change TWENTY YEARS AGO, and we would not have invaded Iraq in 2003. Over one hundred thousand Iraqi civilians were killed during the course of the war. Also, the Supreme Court would have fewer conservatives, and we wouldn't have dark money in politics, we would still have a national right to abortion, we would still have an intact Voting Rights Act, and we would be able to pass gun control laws without them getting overturned.

If a person's quest to stay morally pure makes them stand aside when an imperfect movement trying to do good needs them, they are no longer morally pure. They are directly helping evil with their inaction.
gardening-tea-lesbian on tumblr

final day in Mexico

I checked out the sunrise, found a new path by the hotel that later had some lizard friends..

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back to Boston...

Hopefully a more stable link to horse desensitizing

February 28, 2024

You can't be too happy, literally - thoughts on the importance of our internal emotional thermostats...
--Matt Blease
Really excellent overview charting the first dot com bust through to the current dreams of AI as the savior for tech.

I would say too, it's really bad the only micro-/nano-transaction model we came up with for the Internet was ads and all the privacy breaking and other nonsense that comes up with.

February 29, 2024


via Jay Pinkerton's Superman Origin Comics
(the comics are hilarious but juvenile and a tad foul-mouthed so clicker beware.)

So I sometimes like to start the day reading in bed a bit... and I sometimes like to juggle 2 or 3 books at once. But man, both books I started are kind of rough. One is "Welcome To Your World: How the built environment shapes our lives" - the author is an architecture critic, snobby as hell, but he's not wrong about many aspects of how as a species we've gone for expediency instead of more thoughtful design, and you can point to many detrimental effects, and so I can fill up bits of my helpless-rage-or-depression meter about that. And then I pivoted to "The Diagnosis" by Alan Lightman (who wrote two of my favorite books, Einstein's Dreams and Mr. g (the latter is a delightful creation myth compatible with science that I'll be going over for my UUSS reading group tonight)) - I grabbed "The Diagnosis" because of the author and because he throws in a lot of details of late 90s Boston, but honestly reading about a middle aged guy going through some major dementia-ish neurological episode on his Red Line commute isn't a delight.
Some hidden history of the iPod. My boss digs Steve Jobs' attitudes about excellence - and an aptitude for taking resources at hand (in the case of the iPod, a new small Toshiba hard drive) and applying them in novel ways.

Two things I hadn't heard much about:
1. the signature click wheel has heavily drawn from a phone, the Bang & Olufsen BeoCom 6000
2. Part of the secret sauce was a large 32Mb "skip buffer" - advertised as "20 minute skip protection" (remember this is an age of jostled portable CD players leading to poor experience) its true purpose was buffering of songs, so the device could load a few songs at once rather than have the little hard drive constantly spinning, and so tripling the battery life to meet critical performance metrics.
I think Mojo Nixon was wrong - there's at least a bit of Elvis in Michael J. Fox. (Though not in Alex P. Keaton)
I liked seeing what edits wikipedia editors are tired of undoing.

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