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May 1, 2024


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In the Museum of Illusions...
Texas Toy Museum had a bunch of toy collections and games (arcade and console) setup to play - Gen X nostalgia gold.
Eclipse Ready...

I just want to say – you know – can we, can we all get along? Can we, can we get along? Can we stop making it horrible for the older people and the kids? And ... I mean we've got enough smog in Los Angeles let alone to deal with setting these fires and things ... It's just not right. It's not right, and it's not going to change anything. We'll get our justice. They've won the battle, but they haven't won the war. We'll get our day in court, and that's all we want. And, just, uh, I love – I'm neutral. I love every – I love people of color. I'm not like they're making me out to be. We've got to quit. We've got to quit; I mean, after all, I could understand the first – upset for the first two hours after the verdict, but to go on, to keep going on like this and to see the security guard shot on the ground – it's just not right. It's just not right, because those people will never go home to their families again. And uh, I mean, please, we can, we can get along here. We all can get along. We just gotta. We gotta. I mean, we're all stuck here for a while. Let's, you know, let's try to work it out. Let's try to beat it, you know. Let's try to work it out.
Rodney King, May 1 1992

new to me music playlist

Kind of an anemic month for new music, but at least two great finds:

4 star:
* Lost With You (Patrick Watson)
Beautiful, stirring tender song. Ran into on the excellent Hulu miniseries adaption of the novel "Conversations with Friends"
* Life in the Old Dog (Magna Carta)
A friend posted a different version of this - very sweet and nostalgic
* Proud Mary (Ike & Tina Turner & The Ikettes)
Melissa on a deep Proud Mary live kick but I keep it simple.

3 star:
* Regulate (feat. Nate Dogg) (Warren G)
* Up From The Grave He Arose (Salem Corps Brass Band Collaborate)
every once in a while I get nostalgic for music I played in Salvation Army band... this one is especially melancholy as one of those 2020 "everyone puts down a track remotely" arrangements.
* BLACKBIIRD (Beyoncé, Tanner Adell, Brittney Spencer, Tiera Kennedy & Reyna Roberts)
* Rush E (Dragonwave Version) (Erhu4All)
* Polka Face ("Weird Al" Yankovic)
* Demons (Guster)
sQ's cross-generation song that isn't "Fat Bottom Girls"
* So-Claybe (Second Beat Songs)
"Call Me, Maybe" with every other beat removed...
* Notoriety II (Malcolm Kirby Jr.)
from a Saints Row video game soundtrack.
* Workin' On the Railroad (Raffi)

what keeps you busy?

I've long been on the hunt for a good "what's your life about?" question. I've always been a bit (maybe too) shy about "so what do you do?" since it sort of too strongly implies "for work", and I want to leave space for the person not defining themselves that way.

My default has been the joke-y "what do you do for fun or profit?" - I like the mood of it but too often it turns the conversational spotlight to the goofiness of the question itself.

Recently I heard "What keeps you busy?" which I kind of like... on paper it's not that different from "what do you do?" but somehow leans more towards the "for fun" part - like work is hopefully 9-5ish but the busyness might come from family or hobbies which might be cooler to talk about. On the other hand I'm not sure I like the possible suggestion that "busyness" is a goal.
I co-lead a reading + discussion group on Science and Spirituality - here's a snippet I'm encouraging group members to share on social media about our next meeting:

Come join Belmont's UU Science + Spirituality group on May 23rd (via Zoom) - we have a lively monthly reading and discussion on the world in general and the tensions and synergies of different spiritual and scientific outlooks.

In May will be discussing the book "Life Worth Living: A Guide to What Matters Most", with topics including Mary Wollstonecraft (early feminist), Confucianism, Buddhism, Stoicism and Utilitarianism as components to living a good life.

Please email kirkjerk@gmail.com to be placed on the groups announcement list to get the zoom link and a PDF of an excerpt of the reading.

too many tubas on international tuba day!

from Oliver Burkeman's "Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals"

I just read Oliver Burkeman's "Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals" and enjoyed it a lot. Had a bit of that mid-quarantine melancholy stank.

Some of his point is that it's our very finitude that gives meaning to what we are - and our inability to have the infinities we think we want that causes so much misery.

He's kind of a recovered "time management specialist", and another theme is we can never really catch up with our todo lists, because as our accomplishments grow, so do our expectations of what we can do. Become a diligent worker, you'll likely get more work - and the same goes for our expectations of ourselves.

Like me he gets a lot of mileage out of sharing quotes and thoughts from other writers, so here are some pieces that stood out for me:
It's the very last thing, isn't it, we feel grateful for: having *happened*. You know, you needn't have happened. You needn't have happened. But you did happen.
Douglas Harding

What makes it unbearable is your mistaken belief that it can be cured.
Charlotte Joko Beck

You teach best what you most need to learn.
Richard Bach

It's a self-help cliché that most of us need to get better at learning to say no. But as the writer Elizabeth Gilbert points out, it's all too easy to assume that this merely entails finding the courage to decline various tedious things you never wanted to do in the first place. In fact, she explains, "it's much harder than that. You need to learn how to start saying no to things you do want to do, with the recognition that you have only one life."
Oliver Burkeman, "Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals"

The struggle for certainty is an intrinsically hopeless one--which means you have permission to stop engaging in it.
Oliver Burkeman, "Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals"

"Trying to control the future is like trying to take the master carpenter's place," cautions one of the founding texts of Taoism, the Tao Te Ching, in a warning echoed several centuries later by the Buddhist scholar Geshe Shawopa, who gruffly commanded his students, "Do not rule over imaginary kingdoms of endlessly proliferating possibilities." Jesus says much the same thing in the Sermon on the Mount (though many of his later followers would interpret the Christian idea of eternal life as a reason to fixate on the future, not to ignore it). "Take no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself," he advises. Then he adds the celebrated phrase "sufficient to the day is the evil thereof," a line I've only ever been able to hear in a tone of wry amusement directed at his listeners: Do you first-century working-class Galileans really lead such problem-free lives, he seems to be teasing them, that it makes sense to invent additional problems by fretting about what might happen tomorrow?
Oliver Burkeman, "Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals"

A plan is just a thought.
Joseph Goldstein

In his play The Coast of Utopia, Tom Stoppard puts an intensified version of this sentiment [that a good childhood isn't just a way of getting a good adulthood] into the mouth of the nineteenth-century Russian philosopher Alexander Herzen, as he struggles to come to terms with the death of his son, who has drowned in a shipwreck--and whose life, Herzen insists, was no less valuable for never coming to fruition in adult accomplishments. "Because children grow up, we think a child's purpose is to grow up," Herzen says. "But a child's purpose is to be a child. Nature doesn't disdain what only lives for a day. It pours the whole of itself into each moment ... Life's bounty is in its flow. Later is too late."
Oliver Burkeman, "Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals"

Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.
Jorge Luis Borges

Finally something he doesn't quote but fits some of his themes:
I'll tell you a secret. Something they don't teach you in your temple. The Gods envy us. They envy us because we're mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we're doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.
Achilles in the movie "Troy"
Still, I wonder if it's more of an attempt at sour grapes. Maybe we shouldn't want to live forever, but often it feels like it would be nicer to have more say in the timing of it all...

JP Honk @ Wake Up The Earth

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May 5, 2024


May 6, 2024


May 7, 2024

Heh - it's nice how often a polite note to an author will get a cordial response! (from Oliver Burkeman in this case, I inquired about how he managed notes for books etc, since his works are so rich with quotes.)

I feel like many creative folks who are not swamped by fans (maybe especially authors) will often have time for a quick note (in a more analog age, my dad realized that if he sent a self-stamped postcard when he enquired if they'd be willing to sign their book, he could usually score an autograph on the postcard even if the author didn't want to approve him sending on the book)

May 8, 2024

This morning I took part in a "Bike Bus" in Cambridge, folks from School of Honk played music for the weekly neighborhood bike troop of a local elementary school...

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I was surprised to see this photo of Lana Del Ray at the Met Gala because I thought she was dead.
Turns out I thought it was Amy Winehouse who sang "Video Games"
The Ringer: The Greatest Diss Tracks of All Time, Ranked
My sweet tooth is driving me nuts.
Reminded me I really missed Extra "Dessert Delights" gum, especially the mint chocolate flavor.

I'm not the only one... here's a petition to bring them back

the thetans made me do it

Obviously they're wrong in so many other ways, but sometimes I wonder if Scientologists are onto something by blaming "Body Thetans" as a semi-externalized voice holding us back. I mean it's just a rehashed version of "the devil made me do it" (and I think there's a big tradition of attributing malicious thoughts to demons) or even of more modern "parts" therapies like Internal Family Systems.

But my introspection really indicates that there are huge parts of "me" that just are only under the influence, not the full control, of my more rational, inner-voice self. Like the inner classroom model I like, or sometimes even more like a pack of animals.
For the first time in my life, I formulated this joke:
Since I'm bad with names, I try not to be rude when someone makes the most common mistakes with my own. In other words: better to be Kurt than curt!

(The struggle, It is real. Or Israel.)
I've always loved D+D Alignment Charts...

Billionaires pay less of a percent of their hoards of cash than working folk. WTF.


When I think about decluttering... I think about Marie Kondo's admonition NOT to do it place by place in the house. But perversely her insistence that that's not the way makes me think it might have aspects that are worth trying. I don't want to go for an extreme minimalism, but I would like the space I regularly inhabit to have everything in it showing a purpose.

Also thinking about detecting "sparking joy" reminds me of this #stupid-idea-buddies chat idea I had:
#1465 Trying to declutter but Marie Kondo is too pile-centric or mumbo-jumbo-y? Arrange all your possessions in a long straight line ordered by how much you want each item, make a perpendicular line at the cut off point, and discard everything to left. DONE AND DUSTED.(Note, you may still have to dust, especially around those shelves where the cluttering items used to sit.)

JP Honk gets a shoutout from WBUR for our upcoming performance at Somerville Porchfest - 1-2PM @ 32 Chandler St...

not too hard persuaded

Last night in Arlington phone cameras could pick up the Northern Lights even in this horribly light-polluted land

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Keep me from going to sleep too soon
Or if I go to sleep too soon
Come wake me up. Come any hour
Of night. Come whistling up the road.
Stomp on the porch. Bang on the door.
Make me get out of bed and come
And let you in and light a light.
Tell me the northern lights are on
And make me look. Or tell me clouds
Are doing something to the moon
They never did before, and show me.
See that I see. Talk to me till
I'm half as wide awake as you
And start to dress wondering why
I ever went to bed at all.
Tell me the walking is superb.
Not only tell me but persuade me.
You know I'm not too hard persuaded.
Robert Francis

bloom when you can


"am i not your lord" and other big questions

The Quran--the book that, we are told, comes from the divine encounters Muhammad had over a period of years--contains a striking story about Smokey [Bear "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires...Only You"] responsibility. At the very beginning, when God created human beings, before any of them entered the world, God asked them, "Am I not your Lord?" Every single one answered yes. And God took note so that no one who disregarded God's commands in their earthly life could plead ignorance.
Volf, Croasmun, McAnnally-Linz, "Life Worth Living: A Guide to What Matters Most"
I had not heard this aspect of Islam before, but I guess it's a pretty good dodge for that "but what about people who never get to hear about the REAL God" question that has driven a lot of Christian missionary work and some doctrine (like "limbo" for infants who die unbaptized) I mean I think it would still be sus that so many people got such a bigger familial and cultural dose of Allah than others, but still.

The "Life Worth Living" book is a wide but not deep survey along with some guided exercises about ponder The Question.

I feel like I've thought about my answers to that big question a lot already: for me, humanity's purpose is to create categorical novelty in this part of the Universe, kindness is paramount, there is DEFINITELY a universal absolute moral truth (that is an emergent property of human interaction) but we DEFINITELY can't KNOW what it is (so the universal truth might be one being multifaceted and culturally-subjective but it exists, so I reject existential "believe whatever you want there are no rules"), and the best way to live is a kind of cheerful Buddhist-tinged Epicureanism; seeking a cheerful, sustainable pleasant moderation.

One other bit I pulled from the book is journalist Kathryn Schulz asking her TED audience "How does it feel to be wrong?", but they would answer "how does it feel to REALIZE you are wrong" - because being wrong without realizing it feels exactly the same as being right.

love it or lump it

so you agree immigration

fast photos


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for some reason the asphalt on part of a street near me gives your shadow a rainbow halo that moves with you... or my canonization has been approved...

cleveland love it or leave it

I think my highschool girlfriend's dad (HI MR SALUPO!) ran this campaign in the 80s...

happy birthday nana!

Happy Woulda Been 100 to Nana!

I must assume that eventually an army of shame engineers will rise up, writing guilt-inducing code in order to make their robots more convincingly human. But it doesn't mean I love the idea. Because right now you can see the house of cards clearly: By aggregating the world's knowledge, chomping it into bits with GPUs, and emitting it as multi-gigabyte software that somehow knows what to say next, we've made the funniest parody of humanity ever. These models have all of our qualities, bad and good. Helpful, smart, know-it-alls with tendencies to prejudice, spewing statistics and bragging like salesmen at the bar. They mirror the arrogant, repetitive ramblings of our betters, the horrific confidence that keeps driving us over the same cliffs. That arrogance will be sculpted down and smoothed over, but it will have been the most accurate representation of who we truly are to exist so far, a real mirror of our folly, and I will miss it when it goes.

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musical courage

15 years ago today I wrote:
You know, I wish they DID make "liquid courage" except it didn't make you drunk, just a bit braver.
I'm still looking for that - like maybe something to control my need to stand up and walk around while working at home when even the smallest obstacle or insecurity arises.

But I realized I think I can get some of the liquid courage in the form of music; I think back in the shared office workspace days I'd use headphones a lot, and I think that can do a lot to calm my inner kids.

Though I hate that the very best form of that is my "psyched!" playlist - the 55 high energy (and now almost painfully familiar) songs there has more focus power than shuffling all 4500 songs in my collection.

On the one hand I'm glad to have re-discovered this life hack. On the other hand I kind of resent having to use it vs just being able to always muscle through everything through force of will. (And it also makes me think, what am I missing out on being able to do because I lack knowledge for a corresponding life hack for it.)

And it feels funny to try to sense it working in action... it's kind of like I can get myself to groove/dance along to the music via gettin' things done...

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