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photos of the month february 2024


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Handsome man Dave
view through our hotel door peephole... three floors up, eye to eye with palm trees

via James Gleick... "Eric Swalwell had some good questions for Hunter Biden. No wonder Republicans insisted on conducting this interview behind closed doors." Hey he's just askin' questions!

WALWELL: Any time your father was in government, prior to the Presidency or before, did he ever operate a hotel?

BIDEN: No, he has never operated a hotel.

SWALWELL: So he's never operated a hotel where foreign nationals spent millions at that hotel while he was in office?

BIDEN: No, he has not.

it's messed up that we live in a world where the definition of "freedom of press" is widely defined as "freedom from the government", "press not controlled by the government" and gives zero consideration to press controlled by the capital. even though the capital has greater control over the press than the state in many places. it gets a free pass because it's not a big scary government so it's ok if they control information. get me out of here

March 2, 2024


a week ago I was in Mexico for Anna + Kellie's wedding, and the next day I thought of a really relevant comic collaboration I made a while back (one that I hadn't thought of for years) - on my site The Blender of Love I had posted a Just So story about Planets, and the Humans tradition of exchanging rings. A graphics design student, Marissa Sardapon, used it as the basic for an illustrated book. It really is a nice little piece. I think it has been used as a reading at a couple of weddings (and even had an authorized translation into Chinese)

March 3, 2024

New music playlist. Pretty meh month? Or maybe I'm just judging more harshly. Tried to keep my ears open when I was in Mexico...

4 star:
* Black Skinhead (Jacques Slade, THURZ & El Prez)
Went to see Ari Shaffir live, he had a lot of praise for this song. This remix has even bigger brass.
* Só Quer Vrau (Mc Mm & DJ RD)
Heard this at the resort, weird how it's based on "Bella Ciao"

3 star:
* Kozmic Blues (Janis Joplin)
* Firestarter (The Prodigy)
* Posh Spice (Iggy Azalea)
* Live Forever (feat. Kotomi & Ryan Elder) [from "Rick and Morty: Season 7"] (Rick and Morty)
* Cannonball (The Breeders)
* Elvis Is Everywhere (Mojo Nixon)
(I think I mostly looked for this because of the reference in "Punk Rock Girl"
* Running Up That Hill (MEG MYERS)
* Axel F (Crazy Frog)
* Eleanor Rigby (Zoot)
* Mystery of Love (Sufjan Stevens)
Played at Anna + Kellie's wedding...
* Pepas (Farruko)

March 4, 2024

For both of our Mexico big side trips (Akumal Monkey Sanctuary and cenote + snorkle with Ruta Maya) we shelled out for the photography package - (more important for the monkeys, plus the sanctuary seems like a better cause)

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an oral history of reno 911

March 5, 2024

I was worried that dreaded "Oh you're about to turn fifty? Join AARP!" letter would be a psychological knock, but honestly it's more like #lifegoals.

March 6, 2024

Ah, Voyager - almost sounds like a touch of dementia - or maybe the edge of the solar system has a dark surprise it can't tell us about...
In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.
Andy Warhol

"On the Web, everyone is famous to 15 people." Appropriately enough, many people share authorship of that one.
Josh Tyrangiel, in Time

In that vein: the best command line games part i and part ii - kind of makes me sad how impressive yet utterly obscure these are. Like Dwarf Fortress is the only thing past Nethack that most nerds are going to have heard of. Bums me out that I'm sure to languish in obscurity - but I am famous to fifteen people online.
People like to pretend Biden is bad at economy. This and some other charts here say otherwise:

March 7, 2024

Does your business card hold a crease? Do you know how to pack a suitcase?
I visualize a time when we will be to robots what dogs are to humans. And I am rooting for the machines.
Claude Shannon
I just hope they like us as much as we like doggos.
Bad breath is better than no breath at all
Willie Nelson

March 8, 2024

There really is something to that old folks wisdom that a cold is 3 days coming, 3 days staying, 3 days going.

March 9, 2024

What I really appreciate about The Talos Principle 2 is that big chunks of its writing genuinely read like they were written by someone who's personally had to justify the discipline of philosophy to a STEM major. "There exists an implicit moral algorithm in the structure of the cosmos, but actually solving that algorithm to determine the correct course of action in any given circumstance a priori would require more computational power than exists in the universe. Thus, as we must when faced with any computationally intractable problem, we fall back on heuristic approaches; these heuristics are called 'ethics'." is a fascinating way of framing it, but then I ask why would you explain it like that, and every possible answer is hilarious.
I like the framing but I think that the moral algorithm is an emergent property, and so any course of action is not so much "correct" as "best". Kind of a bit of ought vs is.
It doesn't stop being magic just because you know how it works.
Terry Pratchett

I suspect one of the telltales that Arlington is a bit too white is that they only have 16 oz jars of Salsa. Why are the gallon jugs so hard to find?

March 10, 2024

American Ice Football - a German invention playing the game of USA football but on a hockey rink - but no skates.
thinking abt that one quote that's like "you are a language i am no longer fluent in but still remember how to read" like how soul crushing is that... what the hell

programming theory and practice

March 11, 2024

The death of Angela Chao - Mitch McConnell's billionaire sister-in-law drowned in a submerged Tesla when the doors wouldn't open - she had time enough to make a desperate but futile phone call. The irony is her sister was Transportation Secretary under Trump, helping deregulate car manufacture.

Combination of blame on touch screen UI, driver confusion, and doors you'd have to remove a speaker panel and pull a wire to manually open.
Today I learned about "Chesterton's Fence" - "a simple rule of thumb that suggests that you should never destroy a fence, change a rule, or do away with a tradition until you understand why it's there in the first place. The principle assumes that fences have a purpose, were carefully planned, and cost time and money to erect."

Got into a mild debate about that with a friend who leans prescriptivist and looking to authoritative while I lean descriptivist. How I put the case there:

"Hadn't heard of Chesterton's Fence, but I like the coinage - I usually put it "everything that is, is that way for a reason". BUT - A. when a rule no longer fits a large group of people, you should go meta, and find out why the rule is failing so many, rather than presuming its reasonableness. B. Especially in a society that stresses the potential and responsibilities of the individual, you also need to ask "Cue bono"? There is always a decent chance that the rule one is asked to abide for is not for the benefit of oneself. (An a fuckton of rules that spiral into a "well that's just normal" Ouroboros of self-justification)"
Boeing whistleblower found dead in US Looks like Putinism is spreading here.

the encouragement brothers



March 13, 2024

Nice little piece on How to Adopt the Japanese Approach to Accepting Life's Challenges, "Ukeireru".

Like some other Eastern outlooks and philosophies stressing equanimity and natural flow, you need to find the balance and make sure acceptance doesn't preclude taking positive action to promote change.
Oh look I was a Garbage Pail Kid!
(Funny that I go with "Jerk" but never really thought about "Berserk"...)

March 14, 2024

Every time you think that you might want to have kids, go to a restaurant and sit next to one. You just don't want one.
Steve Martin

Whoa, they made a whole movie of the Discworld book "Wyrd Sisters"? The style is a little janky but has a great enthusiasm.
neener-neener, some gals got a wiener!
knock knock! some gals got a cock
A chant I just made up. If TERFs insist on grade-school health class levels of biology and sociology Imma return with grade-school taunts.

March 15, 2024


Shout out to my peeps feeling a bit stabby today
(and not acting on it)

"Top Secret!" (same folks who did "Airplane!") deserves a bit more attention - Val Kilmer is no Leslie Nielsen but the movie is downright giggle out loud worthy.

March 16, 2024


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March 17, 2024


We were trying to be heroes but we were a bigger danger to the world than anything we fought

Started watching David Lynch's Dune, after watching the new "Part 1". I knew about the kinda cool force field shield suit effects, but was not expecting the first one to be powered up by Patrick Stewart!

March 18, 2024

Microwaves and Eggs go pretty well together, I've found.

getting over hell

Erika, who co-leads a "Science and Spirituality" group with me, recommended the This American Life podcast episode on Carlton Pearson, an evangelical superstar (And Oral Robert's philosophical heir apparent) who had his church dissolved from beneath him when he pivoted to "The Gospel of Inclusion", rejecting the idea that hell was the future for everyone who didn't fly right in the Evangelical Christian sense.

Like the doctrine of hell is kind of awful - the concept that an all-powerful God (arguably with perfect foresight) had allowed to be made a universe where a certain large percentage of beings are destined to be absolutely tormented forever. This is not a story that corresponds with a human sense of love and compassion.

It strikes me that this is either Cosmically True (as in the Christian God is this Lovecraftian being beyond our ken so us mere humans cannot resolve the "superficial" contradiction of a loving God who still allows this to happen) or this is Sociologically True (it's expedient, that it's culturally useful to have a REALLY big threat to keep people in line.)

I mean I have mixed feelings about it. Fear of hellfire - combined with the idiosyncratic life of a preacher's family life (where a church provided for all of our material needs and directed my parents what to do and where to live) - definitely molded me, gave me the idea that my personal preferences were secondary to what was good for the group - and since then I've come to appreciate that as an important framing of moral reality, that striving to conform to a likely guess of what is objectively good is better than only heeding one's own preferences, which are influenced by a mix of compassion and selfishness.

But I still wonder if my life might have been better without that sense of fear, if there was a way to learn what was best by it just being better, the carrot rather than the stick.

Still, the way Pearson lost his church and was scorned and branded a heretic? I guess those people rejecting him feel that he's doing no one any favors my threatening their immortal souls (though honestly the Biblical support for American Folk Christianity's vision of hell isn't all that strong) - but you get the sense that those people are absolutely threatened by the concept of there not being this supra-existential threat to justify all of this noise.

I think I should watch the Netflix special "Come Sunday" that goes into Pearson's story.

All models are wrong, but some are useful.

March 20, 2024


March 21, 2024

On Jacob Angeli-Chansley, the QAnon Shaman.

Sigh, I didn't realize Jung was tied up with so much racist garbage.

March 22, 2024

legit scary and wonderful horror dancing from India...

March 23, 2024


March 24, 2024


March 25, 2024

This is a perfect illustration of the kind of shit you have to deal with when you're trying to build a language model which actually has an internal symbolic representation of what it "knows", rather than just belching out the most statistically likely sequence of letters.
Actually that little pronoun engine (no not in the gender-y sense) Infocom games used (and that Inform was based on) is something that was so impressive back in the 80s... being able to say "examine the tree" and then "hit it with a brick" and have it know what you meant was amazingly impressive back in the day.

March 26, 2024

Baltimore Bridge Collapses, YIKES

March 27, 2024

A long while back I wrote my own "soundboard" in Visual Basic and one of the more useful one was 0:11 from here: Homer Simpson saying "phew, all this computer hacking is making me thirsty"...

March 28, 2024

So tonight the "Science and Spirituality" group I co-lead talked about John Holland's book "Complexity: A Very Short Introduction".

It was a bit dry, and my approach was a little superficial, so I didn't take much out of it that I didn't bring to it; just the idea the emergence is important, simple interactions lead to unpredictable new behaviors at higher levels.

But it made me think of how much interesting stuff I know about chaos and complexity came from the 90s - and how most of the folks in the groups hadn't heard of Cellular Automata (like Conway's Game of Life) or the Mandelbrot Set or all that kind of stuff, so I had something cool to show them.

One idea that has stuck in the back of my head (from Steven Levy's book Artificial Life) is Chris Langton's Edge of Chaos idea - that there's a variable "Lambda" λ that describes just how much change a system undergoes. Too high a value leads to boring randomness, too low a value leads to static dullness. I think the goldilocks "just right" value was given as around 0.273.

I haven't heard much about Artificial Life lately, not sure if it just petered out or what.

March 30, 2024

New Alien Bill Dropped!
Final Result

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First sketch
Reference Photo
Alternate take
Artwork as a 50th Birthday gift by Andrew DabblerDragon Licini

March 31, 2024

kirk.is/fifty... Milestone birthday! Fifty seems like an absurd age to be. Over the past few months, I wrote down a lot of ideas I'd most like to share with people, and then I made each into a panel for a comic book. Eventually the things coalesced into 4 categories: personal history, big philosophical idea, advice I'd offer, and then quotes or lyrics I find really meaningful or useful. So please read it and let me know what you think! And feel free to share. It's a personal work but not that private.

The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.
Muhammad Ali

there is no moral. the wolf eats you one day and until it does, the forest is beautiful

Evil is boring. Right? I kinda believe in the banality and mundaneness of evil. Evil is just selfish impulses, which at the end of the day are really easy to understand. It's easy to understand why people do bad things. It's like "yeah, ok, you're selfish and scared and cruel, I get it". Being good is complex and beautiful and hard.
Brennan Lee Mulligan
more thoughts

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