last week

november 2017 new music playlistplaylist

December 2, 2017
Good month for music, 4 star stuff in red, in descending "you should hear this" order.
Republicans are so full of shit. Even when they said they cared about the deficit. Not as much as sucking up to their corporate backers! (LOL Democrats opposed the bill because it was "too good" and they wouldn't get credit. Trump uses delusion the way a carpenter uses nails)

When every non-partisan group tells you your economic ideas are full of shit, that's not a bias in the groups, that's the bias of reality.

December 1, 20171sed

September, October, November, all of Fall in 1:30 (or so) - pretty good one. If the format drives you nuts or bores you, skip to the end for Melissa's take on getting ready for the holidays... lots of protests, band (as always), and a fair chunk of halloween...

Oof guess Friday isn't much better for MacOS Calendar:

The amount of horseshit being crammed into this "tax bill" is fucking amazing. Scribbled notes on the margin? Sure why not. Want to put in a definition of unborn child? Yeah that's fucking relevant!
Like, maybe you didn't like the ACA? Maybe even that there was some unseemly political games to let it squeak by? But at least it was what it was, and political capital was spent to let it happen. This absolute fucking nonsense of "oh politics says this big ass bill will pass, we'll gone shove it through (even past the republicans who give a damn about deficits and the fact we can't even wait for the numbers from the CBO which are gonna show what a craptastic notion is) so since we're gonna make it happen by christmas, lets give ourselves all the christmas presents we can!"
Garbage. Shame on you Republicans, you're so damn gerrymandered that half of you can only lose to tea party nutjobs in the primaries, so any hope of making politics mean any kind of finding common ground is lost.

November 30, 2017

MacOS Calendar:"This must be a Thursday... I never could get the hang of Thursdays."

holiday time in the leach/israel household...


November 29, 2017

I'm reading a book, "Life, God, and Other Small Topics", transcriptions from a series of lectures with Q+A "Socrates in the The City". It's Catholic as all heck. I find intellectual Catholicism to have a richness there that I don't remember seeing in the protestant theological stuff I've read, and certainly it resonates more for me than the literalness that dogs much of the evangelical environment I grew up in.

Still, it's infuriating in parts, especially in how self-assured many of the speakers tend to be. Peter Kreeft's "Making Sense Out of Suffering" in particular (so far.) One of its central premises is that the strongest argument for atheism is the presence of suffering in the Universe. But that's only really a problem if you've taken as given that if there is a God, it's the simplistic all knowing / all loving / all powerful god of the Epicurus quote.

It was the huge plethora of religions that made my teenage self question the likelihood of any single one, and while a lot of faiths go for that all knowing/loving/powerful, there are a lot of potential ways of believing that don't. So Kreeft is branding all atheism as a disbelief in a very specific brand of divinity...

Over the years I've seen many more sophisticated ideas of God - the best historical context I've read comes from religious historian and former nun Karen Armstrong - seeing the Christian Trinity as an odd blend interesting mix of the unknowable "Sky God" (long worshipped by various peoples) with the more human and relatable gods that walked the earth.

The best attempt I read at making a myth of God-as-experimenter is "mr. g" by Alan Lightman - it does a good job to of showing how even an infinitely powerful and infinitely knowledgeable and deeply compassionate God might still make a universe with suffering as an unfortunate by-product (hint: mathematicians know that "infinity" comes in different magnitudes - say, the countable whole numbers and the uncountable set of fractions - both infinite, but there are plenty more of the latter)

I thought of all this because this SMBC comic had yet another sense of divinity:



It really is the hubris of a singular religious faith - one that denies a "many path / many faces of God" interpretation as heresy - that bugs me. For you to be right, you are declaring many many many other people as wrong, and if I'm going to listen to that, you need to make your case without begging the question of what is true. And for me Peter Kreeft points out the hubris of the assumption that we're so important, that we matter so much as individuals, that of course we - each alone - command the specific attention of a divine being, and so the fact that our subjective suffering is allowed to exist becomes a difficult question that demands an answer. If you relax some of those me-centric assumptions, the question allows many more answers.

(Also I would argue that Peter Kreeft presents a facile idea of Buddhism - my understanding that while "suffering" is the most common translation of "dukkha", a more balanced translation would "unsatisfactoriness". When you push down the contrast dial, a lot more nuance is allowed to emerge.)

Ah well. My current audiobook is "The Brothers Karamazov" and I do have this Kreeft lecture to thank for that.

November 28, 2017

"You cannot revolt against the peasants."
--Fidel Castro. Interesting turn of phrase, though I'm not sure if I believe it.
"Sausage making is a natural outcome of efficient butchery."
--Tom Parmenter
Someone was posting a "what message or lesson do you wish you could tell your younger self" - besides "buy Apple stock during the 90s" I wish I had more practice in saying less.

I often dilute my own message, usually trying to look smart, and/or showing how I understand both sides of the story, or subconsciously fearing that I will be faulted for leaving out some detail that ends up being important.

So, younger self: "State the point clearly, be concise. Add details if asked."

(Be like the father in "A River Runs Through It", who would tell his sons to take an essay and then halve the word count, and then halve again.)

Lucky Jeans via the iPhone 8...

November 27, 2017

Austin Putman told me a version of this PG13 joke back at Tufts when we were both in sQ. I thought it in a half-remembered day the other day, and tracked down a version here:

Johnny AND THE CLOWN

Johnny is poor and has been all his life. He doesn't mind it much, except for the fact that every year when the circus comes to town, he never gets to see it. The years pass and every year he watches the circus come and go with a tear in his eye. Then one year as the circus is leaving, he snaps. "Fuck it," he says." I'm going to get myself a job so I can see the circus."

The next day he applies for a job at a supermarket stacking shelves. He gets this job and works his heart out. He works every night stacking shelves, earning money. He spends very little, and saves heaps. He is the best worker the supermarket has ever seen. A year passes, and the circus comes to town.

As soon as the gates to the circus open, Johnny races up, first in line to buy a ticket. the excitement overwhelms him. He walks around the circus. He sees the animals, the freak show, buys a hot dog, plays on the clowns. And then he sees it, what he's been waiting for all these years...The Big Top.

Johnny races into the tent and takes a seat. Pretty soon the tent fills up and the show begins. It's a packed house and the buzz is electric. The dancing horses come out, then the elephants, then everyone's favorite, the clowns. The clowns run around and do their act making everyone laugh. When all this is finished, the head clown picks up a microphone and says "Now we'd like to pick a member of the audience to help with our show."

All the lights go out and a spotlight circles the crowd. and, as luck should have it, it lands on Johnny. Johnny is ecstatic, he nearly shits his pants with excitement. He can't believe his luck. The head clown comes up to him and says..

"Hey mister, are you the horse's head?"

"No." Johnny replies.

"Are you the horse's ear?"

"No"

"Are you the horse's tail?"

"No"

"Then you must be the horse's ASS!!!!"

And then whole tent erupts into fits of laughter all of Johnny's expense. Everyone is laughing, except for Johnny. He's as pissed as fuck. He vows then and there that next year, when the circus comes to town, he'll get his revenge on the clown.

As he's walking home, still fuming from the humiliation that the clown caused, Johnny thinks of ways that he can get back at the clown. Death, violence, poisoning....and then it hits him. Johnny will give the clown a taste of his own medicine. Next year, Johnny will blast the clown with the biggest insult ever!

The next morning Johnny flips through the phonebook looking for someone who can help him with his revenge. Then he finds an ad.

INSULT SCHOOL
Sick of being picked on? Come to our school and soon you'll be verbally attacking people with vigor!

'This is just what I need!!!" says Johnny. So he rings up the school and enrolls the next day.

So every day Johnny goes to the insult school, studying hard so he can learn the best and most harsh insult so he can get back at the clown. On top of this, he still stacks shelves at the supermarket to get the money for the circus. Day in, day out Johnny works his ass off.
Then his day arrives...

As soon as the circus opens it's gates Johnny barges to the front of the line, pushing people out of his way. No longer is he a kind, considerate man. He's a pissed off m.f. hell bent on revenge. He give the ticket seller the money, snatches the ticket and storms off.

He sees all the regular shit. The animals, the freaks, the clowns. He's so excited that he goes into the Big Top an hour before the show starts, just so he can get a good seat. The tent begins to fill up and the show starts...

The dancing horses come out, Johnny yawns. Then the elephants, Johnny tries to stay awake. And then the act Johnny has waited a year for, the clowns. The clowns run around and do their act making everyone laugh. Johnny wonders why everyone is laughing, it's the same shit they did last year. When all this is finished, the head clown picks up a microphone, exactly the same as last year, and says "Now we'd like to pick a member of the audience to help with our show."

All the lights go out and a spotlight circles the crowd. and, as luck should have it again, it lands on Johnny. Johnny is sits cool, calm and collected. The head clown comes up to him and says..

"Hey mister, are you the horse's head?"

"No." Johnny replies.

"Are you the horse's ear?"

"No"

"Are you the horse's tail?"

"No"

"Then you must be the horse's ASS!!!!"

And again the whole tent erupts with laughter. Except for Johnny. He sits there staring straight at the clown, a look of pure evil and hate on his face. The laughter quickly dies down as everyone knows something is going to happen. The crowd watched. This is Johnny's moment. He takes a deep breath, looks at the clown and says...

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"FUCK YOU, CLOWN!"

Come to think of it, it must have resurfaced because when I yelled to the Aleppo Shriner clowns "what a bunch of clowns" before yesterday's parade, in a friendly way, one yelled back "yeah, that's original."
One of my favorite iOS games has been "Desert Golfing" -
(once called the first "normcore" game) - just a simple little side view golf, always good for a little hit of physics-y fun - but then I got stuck on hole 4420, and left it alone for a few months. I was getting ready to delete the game, but the realized the hole I was stuck on was different, and easy.

There's a very recent update note that reads "No more impossible holes." and I'm not 100% sure if 4420 was impossible per se, but pretty close - a big mountain (albeit with a plateau on top) and the hole nestled on a ledge on the other side, almost impossible not to overshoot, and all of the the 2 or 3 shots I got to hit the hole bounced right out.

But now I feel funny, because I suspect that this kind of update might affect all the holes I've already done, as if my game has slipped into a parallel universe, and my history (including the 150-odd strokes I burnt on the previous version of hole 4420) is no longer quite valid...

Anyway, I still like this game.


Yesterday at Quincy's Christmas Parade I saw these black and white American flags (with a blue/red stripe to shout out to police and fire departments) for sale by those shopping-cart-based vendors who show up along side parades and fairs.

It seems a little mixed up that taking a knee during the anthem, like a player does for a hurt teammate, is disrespectful, but this kind of graphic design shenanigans is A-OK.
RIP Vine... it was such a cool and egalitarian form.

What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men? Excellent piece by Claire Dederer on when monsters are artists and vice versa. Touches on the relationship between thought and feeling and judgement which has been so much on my mind of late.

November 26, 2017tuba

Good day for the middle aged tubist getting ready for the Quincy Christmas Parade