| < retrospect: 23 may >

May 23, 2017


May 23, 2016 - hadn't thought about these great interviews with early video game designers for a long time... also I really dig their editor James Hague's programming blog,

May 23, 2015

"The eagle that hears the whizz of an arrow as it strikes its heart sees that the arrow has been feathered with its own plumes."
--"Capolavoro", a weird parody of an arthouse flick insde GTA5...

May 23, 2014

Boston's Seaport area feels a lot like the city from an open sandbox videogame. Finite size, bounded by water and bridges, sparse but diverse buildings on a rather square layout.
Don't be a jerk, Amazon.

May 23, 2013

My hopes for the game "Saints Row IV" were even higher when I heard about plans for a "Dub Step Gun". I mentioned that to my housemate and he showed me this.

true names

(1 comment)
May 23, 2012

--New England as seen in the Atlas of True Names that displays the etymological roots of places, and makes everything feel a bit more like Tolkien's maps of Middle Earth.

eurotrip day 9

May 23, 2011

--More fun with American currency

Germany of the Moment
Today Volker was at work, the kids were at Kindergarten, and we went with Veronika to Aschaffenburg, a perfectly lovely little town.

It has its own castle. Frankfurt airport is nearby, and all over the place the sky is crossed with contrails.

Also a fine little shoppig district.

You get the Max for the Minimum at... T K Maxx? Huh.

Germans love board games. This wasn't even a specialty store, just the toy department of a pharmacy-turned-department-store.

the tractor factor

May 23, 2010

--Finest Tractor Warrior of this or any time. (via)
RIP Martin Gardner! Mathematics will seem that much less recreational... - awesome who's who on Lost, including the 75% of ensemble now dead...
"*achoo* I'm allergic to season finales."
--Amber just now

photo unload

May 23, 2009
You know, the other week I bought a replacement for my Canon, which about half of these are from. The new one is... well, sleeker, more megapixel than my old one (which was an experiment in going for a slightly larger form factor) but man, I'm a little bummed I didn't get much of that "hey new toy!" feel.

First: Boston life:
Boba GraFett.

Man. You see something like this on the street, you wonder about the backstory.

I noticed a new-ish solar powered public trash compactor, and then a day or so after saw a guy emptying it (inset). This was a week after watching Wall-E, with its titular character robot who goes around (eternally recharged by solar panels) turning garbage into building blocks... THIS TRASHBIN IS WALL-E'S GREAT GREAT GREAT GREAT GREAT GRANDFATHER!

Nature in Rockport:
I'm not sure but this might be a bit of an inchworm orgy.

And trees were in bloom a bit before that.

And finally here goes EBB. Shame people are throwin' out a perfectly cute little toddler like that. (But seriously: where are her legs??) - heh, the hardcopy of "Wired predicting the future" at a time Windows 95 was buying all their adspace
You know, I wish they DID make "liquid courage" except it didn't make you drunk, just a bit braver.

getting what you pay for

May 23, 2008
Slashdot had a piece on a 66% Apple Market Share For Sales of High-End PCs. Some people pointed out that since most PC makers are compelled to offer products beneath that price point, this is a bit like saying "Newsflash: Apple has 100% market share for Macs!" but still it's impressive for a company that seemed to be on the ropes ten years ago.

In the discussion Terry "Discworld" Pratchett's Vimes' Boots idea came up, and they quoted the Wikipedia entry:
Early in his career, while he is still a nearly-impoverished Watchman, Vimes reflects that he can only afford ten-dollar boots with thin soles which don't keep out the damp and wear out in a season or two. A pair of good boots, which cost fifty dollars, would last for years and years - which means that over the long run, the man with cheap boots has spent much more money and still has wet feet. This thought leads to the general realization that one of the reasons rich people remain rich is because they don't actually have to spend as much money as poor people; in many situations, they buy high-quality items (such as clothing, housing, and other necessities) which are made to last. In the long run, they actually use much less of their disposable income. He describes this as The Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory Of Socio-Economic Injustice.
I'm not sure how fully I buy into this-- how solid is the tie-in between cost and durability? Sometimes things seem to cost more for their own sake, and you're paying for the brandname. Other times it is indeed a false economy, like when I went for these worthless CVS brand bandaids.

My philosophy tends to run that most consumer goods aren't interesting in and of themselves, so you should try and economize. My "morality of interestingness" says that WHAT a product does is generally better than HOW it does it. I tend to buy some of the cheapest cars on the market (though new, which might put me back on the 'lets pay to minimize risks in quality'), and my digital cameras are on the cheap side. Clothing-wise, I dunno, I've heard the Vimes principle applied in judgment of my default brand Old Navy but who knows -- I don't know if I'd want to pay more for a shirt that lasts seasons and seasons!

Any anecdotes? That cheap gadget that seems to last forever? That expensive item that was worth the cost because of years of faithful service?

Right now the current test for me is a $550 laptop I got from Micro Center. If it holds up and does what I need it to do over...well, I'm not sure how long... it would seem to back my idea of economizing on such things.

Link of the Moment

--Enchanting photo re-enactments of kids' drawings.

Quote of the Moment
Her perfect confidence in herself is a thing to which monuments should be erected; hers is a poise that ought to be on display in the British Museum. The affair between Margot Asquith and Margot Asquith will live as one of the prettiest love stories in all of literature.

In this book of essays, which has all the depth and glitter of a worn dime, the Countess walks right up to such subjects as Health, Human Nature, Fame, Character, Marriage, Politics, and Opportunities. A rather large order, you might say, but it leaves the lady with unturned hair. Successively, she knocks down and drags out each topic. And there is something vastly stirring in the way in which, no matter what she takes off from, she brings the discourse back to Margot Asquith. Such singleness of purpose is met but infrequently.
--Dorothy Parker. Frankly I need to be on guard against the same tendency in my blogging.

hhhuuh! hammer!

May 23, 2007
I learned one thing this past weekend... the best way to remove long nails from a board is to hammer the nail from the other side, and then use a clawhammer to remove it in the normal fashion. (For some reason, maybe because he was considering trying to preserve the wood, EB had me using pliers. Macho, but not so efficient.)

Sigh. I'm such a tool illiterate sometimes.

Link of the Moment
I recently caught a reference to the Eton Wall Game, and danged if that doesn't sound like some primitive emergent version of calvinball.

Video of the Moment
--The Civil War in 4 Minutes. Ericball points out this page about its construction, along with links to more from the making of the Abraham Lincoln Museum.

"y'know, i'm just happy to be here and hope i can help the ballclub. i just want to give it my best shot and good lord willing, things'll work out.... gotta play 'em one day at a time"

May 23, 2006
I just love baseball happytalk, when players or coaches or managers just say "the right thing", always positive, upbeat, having to fit what they really want to say within the framework. Maybe it's the moderating nature of it; negative things aren't as bad as all that, positive things can't be taken for granted. I know the negative spin of that is they're just mouthing platitudes, ala "Nuke LaLoosh" in Bull Durham, that they can't be frank and say what's really on their mind, but still, I always find myself responding well to it. It's just respectful to the sport.

Audio Clip of the Moment
So when I went to the Museum of Science Star Wars show I picked up one of those meant-for-kids Revenge of the Sith Audio Books, part of my fascination with medium- to low-tech electronic devices that play back sounds or show video. It's pretty useful to have R2D2 chirps or blaster sounds at the touch of a button, especially at work.

But as I was messing around with it, suddenly I got a vision of hundreds of geeks buying this book but totally wearing out this one button, the one with Natalie Portman saying "I'll Never Stop Loving You". (It's pretty low-fidelity to begin with , and the "I'll" got a bit lost in my re-recording... (thanks FoSOSO!)) The Audio Books link above includes some of the other soundclips, albeit without the craptastic cheap speaker effect.

Clarification of the Moment
"Obviously, they do not have it all at once and get drunk, but they get it in small amounts mixed in their tea."
--Spokesperson from the Budapest Zoo, in this CNN article about how their 11 anthropoid apes go through 55 liters of wine a year to help their red blood cells. What I like is the assumption that preventing apes from over-boozing needs clarification, but apes having their tea is of course completely normal.

Art and Science of the Moment
--Pouring plaster down Antholes to make these fantastic And to think I used to think the little mounds on the surface encompassed the entire ant nest, and felt guilty about kicking into one... (via Boingboing)

Passing of the Moment
R.I.P. Lloyd "I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy" Bentsen. What a great and riffable line!

darth flowerpicker

May 23, 2005
Photo of the Moment
--Vader, as played by "Louie", friend of a coworker of mine who made up a $1000 or so outfit.


May 23, 2004
Started getting into semi-serious packing yesterday. I'm moving June 7th. And I've come to realize that living in an echo-y boxed up house is a good way of disconnecting, or at least marking the transition.

I skipped a morning shower yesterday, partially out of laziness, partially because...well, frankly, I just love the way my skin smells after I've spent a day slathered in SPF30, walking around in the sun. Some combination of light sweat and the chemicals all baked together, or something. It doesn't work with all brands, but a lot of 'em, including Banana Boat Sport, the one I bought the other day. It so taps into all these great old memories I have of going to amusement parks with my high school friends, flirting and riding rides and having a great time. Also summers working with mentally handicapped kids at the Catholic Diocese daycamp, which had its own kind of satisfactions.

Some of the sweetest and most nostalgic times I've had were riding back from Cedar Point, Mike driving with his gal pal in the front, me snuggling and sneaking kisses with my romantic interest in the back. Well, not always that sneaky. Our favorite tape to put in was the soundtrack to the Blues Brothers movie, on the portable tape player Mike used since his car (the 'Mikeymobile', a kind of aged Chevy Citation) didn't have its own stereo.

But anyway, getting back to the smell...I really love it. I's all I could do not to jam my nose on my shoulder and just stay there for hours, breathing deeply.

Exchange of the Moment
"I could spend the time to sort this crap out properly. But I'd rather send a message to my future self. That message is 'F*** you, YOU sort it out, I'm busy.'" [begins dumping stuff from closet into cardboard box.]
"Yeah, but didn't you already kind of do that to yourself, that's why it's in this state now?"
"Nah. That wasn't me, that was my past self. He was a real prick."
--Me and Peterman while packing last night.

Photos of the Moment
The "Mind Eraser" at Six Flags New England on Friday:

Censorship of the Moment
The poems being censored for being "un-American" is one of the most jaw-dropping stories I've read this week. As Bill the Splut put it, "What's the Eternal War on Terror about again? Oh, right, they hate freedom."

I'm grimly amused by the idea that via Chalabi, Iran played the USA like a bad violin, that they got their #1 foe (US, ala the Great Satan) to take out their #2 foe Saddam.

vacation filler day 2 (backlog flush #21)

May 23, 2003
Update from Germany
Hello from a German Internet Cafe! The keyboard is a little odd so I'll keep this quick. I have two need observations to add to my previous list of random German factoids (halfway down page): 1. Many women here use magenta haircoloring, even middle-aged women. Something you don't see much of in the states. 2. The dollar may be a bit weak at the moment, but the Euro is physically the weakest bill I've ever seen. I accidentally tore a 50 Euro ($63 or so...) note while taking it out from behind the moneyclip in my wallet...

  • "If your time hasn't arrived yet, not even the doctor can kill you" --I have no idea where I heard that, or if I made it up, or what. Maybe it was this one comedian on a previous trip to England.
  • R-rated Usenet post, but not in a bad way, Love and sex among the eccentric intelligensia
  • "The best way to seduce someone is by making yourself unavailable. You just have to be busy all the time and they'll be craving to see you."
  • on the First Photograph. Like, ever.
  • "Sometimes, magazines hid their best 'Huh?' moments deep inside stories that were otherwise utterly normal. I was drowsing through a Newsweek cover story called 'Clinton Now' when suddenly a comment by Julia Payne, the ex-president's spokeswoman, made me laugh out loud. 'One night last year he called about 1 a.m, ranting and raving about something,' Payne recalled. 'And I said, "Sir, are you watching Fox again?"'"
    --Peter Carlson in this Washington Post article.

body blow! body blow! uppercut!

(1 comment)
May 23, 2002
I am convinced that Fox's Celebrity Boxing is the pinnacle of popculture wonderfulness and awfulness. Arnold Horseshack vs. Saved By The Bell's Screech. Wow. Utter genius. Probably not great boxing (some of the matchups seem a bit unfair..."Horseshack" is almost twice the age of "Screech", for starters..and 7'7" Manute Bol vs 375 lb. William "The Refrigerator" Perry??) They look so angry...I'm not sure if it they're trying to get psyched up, or if they're just mad that their careers have brought them here. There should be a rule that they have to stay in character.

In other news, with the help of Brooke I gave the Love Blender a makeover the other day.

Oh yeah...I start my new job today! I think Ranjit nailed it when he offered "congratulations and condolences" about the end of my unemployment.

Quote of the Moment
"So, in short, you can't prove anything by one occurrence, or two occurrences, and so on. Everything has to be checked out very carefully. Otherwise you become one of those people who believes all kinds of crazy stuff and doesn't understand the world they're in. Nobody understands the world they're in, but some people are better off at it than others."
--Richard Feynman, "The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist"...I finally read a damn book, I've been way behind on my reading. This book was three lectures he gave, on the importance of doubt in science, and then by extension in life and morality and all of that.

Link of the Moment
Death to the Extremist is an odd little online cartoon, Waiting for Godot meets Clerks via Colorforms...

sealed tight for freshness

May 23, 2001
Yesterday the fire alarms at my building went off. We all dutifully filed down the stairs to the lobby, where we discovered we were completely stuck. Both the front and back doors to the outside were sealed shut. At first we assumed there was some sort of errant locking mechanism in place, but when the fireman arrived, we discovered that even once they were pried open with a crowbar (the glass (!) doors, not the fireman), they were still prone to slamming shut in dramatic fashion.

Fireman Kirk Apparently, there was some kind of mechanical venting mechanism, presumably meant to whisk away smoke filled air, which was creating a low-pressure area in the lobby. (I don't know enough about fire codes to know if the implied supply of fresh air to a fire is consequential either.) The amount of force needed to open the doors was tremendous. Eventually the back doors (a floor down) were open, although I'm not sure how, or how they were kept from slamming shut.

"New, from the Towering Inferno Construction Company! It's LobbyVacuuSeal technology! Why bother with pesky layoffs and expensive severance packages, when you have LobbyVacuuSeal?"

Quote of the Moment
"[The Monrobot Mark XI all-purpose computer] solves many of the technical problems that we in the computer game have been bucking for years [...] Mark XI weighs only three hundred and seventy-five pounds and is therefore completely portable."
--New Yorker Article on early portable computing... and I thought my Palm IIIc was kind of bulky

< retrospect: 23 may >