last week

August 14, 2017

Well, despite the bad news of neo-nazi dorks planning their upcoming "free speech" rally in our lovely city, in the meanwhile we can feast on the tears of yankee fans.

I admit I'm getting a little FOMO with not going to full-eclipse-land.

August 13, 2017tuba

photo by Jason Victor Rosenman
Trump: "*All* cars driven into peaceful counterprotestors matter"
"By all means, compare these shitheads to the Nazis. Again and again. I'm with you."
--Mike Godwin

August 12, 2017

Paste: What's the best piece of advice you ever got?

Tambor: It's a piece of advice I don't understand, still. It was taught to me by my teacher: "Adore everything." I'm still not quite sure what it means, but it's very powerful. We have a tendency to think--down the line, when I'm paid, and I'm walking the red carpet, and I get to be a series regular. And it's not that. It's everything. It's about the ups and downs. See, the great thing about being an actor--and the lucky thing about being an actor--is for the civilian, when the dog dies, you mourn and you bury the dog. With the actor, the grace note is--the dog dies, you mourn, you bury the dog... and your acting gets better. Because the "paint" gets more vibrant. There's more history to it.
--Paste Magazine interviewing Jeffrey Tambor, who played the dad in "Arrested Development" and the mom in "Transparent"

August 11, 2017history

Our family friend Larry Wittenberg had a Super 8 w/ Sound camera and has a bunch of brief home movies. (Pretty nifty gadget.)

At least two of them have some footage of my dad. I think it's the only audio footage of my dad I know of, except there might video tape of him playing a elderly grandfather stuck in a rocking chair for a Christmas pageant (given how sick he was at that point, that part wasn't much of a stretch, alas)


(Love the shot of my mom Youtube picked to thumbnail it.)

The opening scene is a child on a distinctive kids chair, consisting of 3 slotting rectangles, made by my grandfather (there are two piece in all, and either can be stood as a chair, a rocking chair, or a desk)

Quiet scene of my dad at 0:20.

Then it's a Wittenberg and Israel kitchen scene, I suppose in our place in Cincinnati.

At around 0:54 is my dad, hiding behind his hands from the camera. At 1:06 the camera is on me, and I think my dad is talking about the mafia (a group he consistently despised, along with the movies that would glorify them.)

2:00 has my dad sticking his tongue out at the camera. Later there's some further goofing and some leg.

Around 3:13, it's a new recording. The scene changes to our over-the-church apartment in Salamanca NY. That's the first home I had recollections of, and could sketch out its layout. Now it's a surprisingly small grass field. My Aunt, Uncle, his son, and a Salvation Army cadet from Poland are also there besides my family the Wittenbergs.

I recognize a lot, like the mission chair, lamp and server from St. Thomas still in my mom's house, the record player behind my dad at 3:52, the umbrella plant "Kirk Tree" that was planted when I was born (finally died a few year ago). I guess as an "Officer Kid" who moved around a lot, it's those kind of objects that make a place for me... in almost any photo taken in an old apartment, I'm often as or more interested in what books are on my shelves then whoever is in the main subject of the shot.

Around 4:00 is probably the single biggest stretch of my dad's voice. Along with me in the background clowning for attention.

My Uncle at 4:50 and one of his infamous naps...

At around 5:15 my dad does a bit of deliberate pantomime with a pampers box, a stuffed koala bear, and a brush , kind of invoking the "Little Tramp" bit with the rolls from "The Gold Rush"

Finally the video ends with a quiet shot of an infant and a toddler, probably just using up the film.

A lot of feelings struck up with this, from some cringing at how attention seeking I was then (I know it's a fairly normal part of life especially that age but still) to some things that will never be fully resolved between father and son, to just a general feeling of bittersweet nostalgia.

August 10, 2017

the claims you've made on love-
i think it must be sin.
(as if the deepest
part of me
was found six inches in!)
(an unearthed poem I made way back when, experimenting with PoV....)

"I think there's an awful long way for adventure games, interactive fiction, whatever you want to call it, to go. And I hope that more people will come into that field from outside the computer field. Up until now, it's been rather like, well, imagine if everything ever written on a typewriter had been written by the guys who invented the typewriter."
--Douglas Adams (in "Family Computing" June 1985)

August 9, 2017tuba

"A tuba player holds a weighty object and breathes deeply."
--The poet Donald Hall
"Exercise is boring. Everything is boring that does not happen in a chair (reading and writing) or in bed. Sculptors and painters and musicians live longer than writers, who exercise only their fingers with pen or on a keyboard. Sculptors chisel or weld or mold clay. Painters work standing up. They drink quarts of cognac every night but return to physical activity the next morning. A tuba player holds a weighty object and breathes deeply. Even a harmonica requires more fitness than writing."
--Donald Hall, in "Essays After Eighty". (Context for the tuba reference.)
Also, Donald Hall quotes Henry Moore quoting Rodin quoting a stonemason: "Never think of a surface except as the extension of a volume."
Stupid Human Tricks!

I made a simple countdown timer to count down to 00:00:00. You can pass in simple RGB colors for the background and foreground for the start and once it hits zero, e.g. this link. See my devblog for more info.

August 8, 2017

The biggest problem of fundamentalism is that it says "our simplified model of the universe is sufficient, and if you have any further questions you should dig deeper into the model". At least science (which might not be free of its own type of fundies, but still) encourages people to look out in the objective world to make the model better.
"The cat is trying to open the door on the hinge side. I laugh, then realize that I make the same mistake with people, ideas, and doors, too."
--New Yorker cartoon (circa 1997)
A rather thorough look into what's wrong with "Ready Player One". As always if you want a great sci-fi read with a tinge of 80s/90s era videogamery (in the most alien way possible) try Constellation Games by Leonard Richardson
Hubris (n) 1.excessive pride or self-confidence. 2. (in Greek tragedy) excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis.
Amazing Atlantic Piece, How America Lost Its Mind.

I've always liked postmodern-style of thinking, but now I'm wondering how damaging it may have been.

Here's the problem: there are two levels of knowing. There's objective facts - not perfectly knowable, but close enough for many, many purposes. This is the lower level where science lives. Then there's the interpretation of those facts, and the search for meaning. That's where philosophy and religion lives, on top of that. That's where "should" and "purpose" come from and where we have to construct our moral discernment.

These two layers have been squashed together. In America, I blame fundamentalism. For a while, during the times of the Enlightenment, after the Scientific Revolution, Christian belief hitched its wagon to scientific finding. Those two layers seemed compatible. But as the base level started to pull away from simplistic, literal readings of the holy texts on the layer above it, fundamentalism doubled down, and started letting the upper level of meaning leach down and bleach out the level of simple facts. Or I guess we could say: before that time, the layer of facts was relatively flatter - there was less proof of it, fewer spikes, less ways where the obscure science facts mattered in day to day life. But it got spikier, and rather than moving on up, fundamentalist belief keeps trying to wash the spikes out. Hence, museums with Noah hanging out with dinosaurs and crap like that.

I feel - and I may be misleading myself - I'm better than average at separating those levels. Or maybe I just emphasize the lower level too much. The weird side effect is I'm kind of less judge-y than most people I know (except on epistemological matters, i.e. the study of those two levels, where I can be either judge-y or condescending as hell). But when it comes to things of life style? I really don't judge, except final results. If it's "working for you", great! I only have the right to judge whatever you want once I have empirical evidence that yeah, you've made choices that have led to results that could objectively be read as suboptimal by most reasonable interpretations. (I do feel I have a very strong submission to that lower level of basic facts, to the extent that I will rarely state even the evidence of my own sense without a protective "I think..." or "it seems like..." It's partially a form of egoism - heaven or something forfend I ever be subject to being wrong! )

I do think if people made a clearer divide between those two levels, the world would be a better place. "FAKE NEWS" should be even more of a thing than it is.