| < retrospect: 21 mar >

March 21, 2017

"Think about it: Trump hasn't properly executed a handshake with any visiting foreign leaders. Before Trump, none of us had any idea that not being able to do the handshakes was even a thing."
--Dave Pell, This is 37%. I really hope Trump realizes how low his "ratings" are. Sad!

March 21, 2016

"Since well before I set loose my robots, we've been a binary race. We mimic the patterns of our computers, training our brains toward yeses and nos, endless series of zeros and ones. We've lost confidence in our own minds."
--Robot inventor Stephen R. Chinn in Louisa Hall's "Speak". It echoes a theme that's been on my mind of late, how we are trying to reduce things in the world from their glorious multiplicity to a single line of "worth" and then further put that to the boolean values "good" and "bad".
Melissa is using my old iPad, after setting stuff up for her I used Photo Booth and gave her a special custom wallpaper.... it had the desired time bomb effect when she went to use it later

March 21, 2015

via Bill the Splut...

Man, that's kind of wild!
I love the logo of the bad guys' organization...

the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse

March 21, 2014

"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?"
--N.H. Kleinbaum, Dead Poets Society.

March 21, 2013

"I suppose it's time to go, though I would rather stay."
--Abraham Lincoln (quoted in the movie "Lincoln")

for i have no connection to the actual production of speech sounds nor the imposition of syntactic structure and i must scream

(1 comment)
March 21, 2012
The neurologist V.S Ramachandran:
The key to the whole puzzle, I suggest, lies in the division of labor between our two cerebral hemispheres and in our need to create a sense of coherence and continuity in our lives. Most people are familiar with the fact that the human brain consists of two mirror image halves—like the two halves of a walnut—with each half, or cerebral hemisphere, controlling movements on the opposite side of the body. A century of clinical neurology has shown clearly that the two hemispheres are specialized for different mental capacities and that the most striking asymmetry involves language. The left hemisphere is specialized not only for the actual production of speech sounds but also for the imposition of syntactic structure on speech and for much of what is called semantics—comprehension of meaning. The right hemisphere, on the other hand, doesn’t govern spoken words but seems to be concerned with more subtle aspects of language such as nuances of metaphor, allegory and ambiguity—skills that are inadequately emphasized in our elementary schools but that are vital for the advance of civilizations through poetry, myth and drama. We tend to call the left hemisphere the major or “dominant” hemisphere because it, like a chauvinist, does all the talking (and maybe much of the internal thinking as well), claiming to be the repository of humanity’s highest attribute, language. Unfortunately, the mute right hemisphere can do nothing to protest.
Quoted in Brian Christian's "The Most Human Human", about playing the human side of the real life Turing test. How can you most convincingly show that YOU are the real human, darn it all?
Alan Turing made up a "paper machine" algorithm for playing chess... I would love to see the details and/or an implementation of that!
There are multiple levels of similarity between B+W photography and e-ink readers; their respective fans have parallel things they dig.
"A piece of your brain the size of a grain of sand would contain one hundred thousand neurons, two million axons, and one billion synapses, all 'talking to' each other."
--Brian Christian (might be quoting someone in "The Most Human Human"

on supervillain schemes

March 21, 2011
I know I shouldn't feel any sympathy for supervillains; that, if they had their way, I'd be toling in the methane mines of Titan, or be just another pile of bones beneath their throne of skulls. Although you and I can't empathize with the blackhearted motivations behind their schemes, can we admit that perhaps we have more in common with supervillains than we do with superheroes? [...] Consider the evidence: How often have you swooped in, saved the day, and been carried off on the shoulders of a cheering crowd? Now, how many times have the poorly constructed plans that you dreamed about for months collapsed into shambles?
--Doogie Horner, from "Everything Explain Through Flowcharts"
6 Insane Uses of Animals in Wartime (That Actually Worked) -- flaming camels and plummeting turkeys. Excellent.
How long will Apple use simple numbering for the iPhone and iPad? Will 2018 feature the iPhone 12 and the iPad 9?
The trick to Red Line happiness: play the rush hour odds- a packed train takes longer to load/unload, making the empty train just behind wait.

dogs in slow motion

March 21, 2010

--This makes me want to buy some dog food. And maybe a dog.


March 21, 2009
To view this content, you need to install Java from
rgbwar - source - built with processing
A Glorious Trainwreck for Klik of the Month Klub #21. More of a toy than a game... press space to reset the RGB armies. They swarm around (there's some pseudo-flocking behavior built-in) and shoot each other with lasers. The faster they're moving, the faster their lasers are recharging, and flocks tend to move faster than individuals. Also you can use the mouse to mess with individual blobs a bit.

There might be a metaphor in how as the war goes on everyone becomes an indistinct charred husk.
"The parts of a car that look the most like a car are some of the least complicated and least important parts in how it works. As with people."
--ChrisDeLeon - what call letters were meant to stand for

it run on love (backlog flush #72 and travelog)

March 21, 2008
  • Admittedly the heavy use of Engrish is a bit offensive, but I do kind enjoy Misinformers Playstation 3 Sneak Preview from way back when:
    mis: So you mean, you can plug a phone line into it, and play multi-player games online, like with the Dreamcast?

    Sony: Dreamcast? Ha ha, funny stupid yankee! You dishonor me with your mention of this Dreamcast. The Praystation 3 does not connect to internet, Praystation 3 CONTAIN the internet. You prugga in the computer to the port, the internet isa all there. We copy it inside machine for fast access.

    mis: Wait, so you're saying that you copied every single file on the internet into this box? That doesn't even make any sense! The internet is a constantly changing network of millions of individual machines. How does the PS3 update its so called "internet" if it has no connections to the real network?

    Sony: Thasa right. No connections. Praystation 3 get internet from outerspace.

    mis: And its power?

    Sony: It run on love.
  • Nice photoblog: Derilect New England
  • Ken Perlin seems to have some interesting toys on his site.
Travelog of the Moment
Fairly relaxed day today.

Started by walking with Josh to take his daughter Erin to kindergarten.

Then we headed into Tokyo, the Ginza and Asakusa areas. The area is known for its kitchen and food supply stores, and we seemed to go through an area with lots of Buddhist-ware. I liked this little guy next to the sidewalk selling custom stamps; people's official seals, their names in Kanji symbols.

Store selling domestic shrines.

This looked like it might be some kind of workshop manufacturing the guardian figures.

Giant Chef Head and stack of teacups.

We stopped at a place called MOS Burger. (Josh says it stands for Mountain Ocean Sea, and back in the day it used to be blatantly a McDondalds clone. But it was pretty distinct, and tasty. Served notably hot. But again, I'm weirdly amused by the way the table thingy had a picture of a cow. Americans are so shy of thinking about the animals that they eat!

The Tokyo Honganji, HQ of the Hifashi Hongunji sect. Some kind of lecture was going on.

The row of vendors heading up to Sensoji Temple, one of the biggest attractions of Tokyo.

A pagoda behind the latterns.

More lanterns. Big stuff!

This vendor was makin' some intriguing seafood products, somewhat resembling the calamari I had the day before, but we settled for chocolate bananas.

Another cook in the vendor's row.

I liked this lone Buddha off to the side, a bit apart from all the action.

Looking down the other way, towards the crowds.

Josh pointed this out as a nice example of old style Japanese architecture, repurposed as a storefront.

We decided to check out some Kabuki! This is Kabuki-Za, one of the main theaters. We got 1000 yen (~$10) seats in the nosebleeds. It was pretty cool, but I was grateful for the English live audio track.

Post for the Kabuki theaters - some big names! No photos inside, sadly.

It Came From The Vending Machine -- odd diet coke can/bottle.

Josh says this used to be a high end Italian restaurant.

Side of a Hello Kitty Bus.

In fact, Hello Kitty seemed to be riding the Hello Kitty Bus.

So that was it for the day. We came home and then got a giant platter of sushi, take-out, nice way to end a Friday. So I thought I'd shoe you Josh and Tomomi's bathroom. They live along with their daughter Erin in a small apartment in Shin-Matsudo. It's cozy for three, and they have to live fairly precisely, but it seems to work pretty well.

First stop: a bit of a prefab medicine cabinet... not too exciting, but I admire that it has built in lights, and the toothbrush holder actually seems big enough to, you know, hold modern toothbrushes, which is something I don't see a lot of in America.

The tub is short but gratifyingly deep. Plus, though the shot doesn't show it, the whole room is a shower! You can see a run for drainage on the floor. It took me a while to get used to it being ok that all the water wasn't going into the tub...

Plus, digital water temperature setting. BRILLIANT! Even better than my German friends'.

Finally, the toilet. No Washlet (the infamous gadget that shoots water up your bum), but a very clever design with a small sink for cleaning your hands, using the water heading in to refill the tank.

this is good tech-nique

March 21, 2007
FoSO sent me an indirect reference to this Slate piece on the midlife happiness downturn (which bottoms out and starts the long haul back up at age 45.)

Is asking someone "are you happy" a reliable way of knowing that they're happy? Not that I can think of a better one.

What I find more alarming about this article is this bit:
The authors also find that over the last century, Americans, both men and women, have gotten steadily—and hugely—less happy. The difference in happiness of men between men of my generation, born in the 1960s, and my father's generation, born in the 1920s, is the same as the effect of a tenfold difference in income. In other words, if my father had little money compared to his contemporaries and I have lots of money compared to mine, I can still expect to be less happy. Here, curiously, the European pattern diverges. Happiness falls for the birth years from 1900 to about 1950, and generations born on the continent since World War II have gotten successively happier.
It might be a bit facile but it seems like the whole relentless grind of a consumerist economy might be to blame... an entire giant industry devoted to making us feel not quite content with the stuff we have now, and then pointing out the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Also, is it a coincidence that the middle aged happiness downswing corresponds with the child-raising years, and all the anxiety and sacrifice that time can entail?

Transcription of the Moment
before to make the holy mountain,
i want to know how was the mind of a master...
i hire-ed a guru...
and he came to teach me how to be a guru,
and he gave me the lsd!

when i want to search the actors
i said you need to make love with the director...
with the holy mountain i did it
with the black girl, with all the girls!
this is good tech-nique.
....nnnnot with the men

--Alejandro Jodorowsky, from this youtube'd documentary on his work on "El Topo" and "The Holy Mountain"...I dug it up after Bill the Splut wrote about how awful "El Topo" was. (He said "it was time travel in reverse--after 2 hours, I checked my watch and found that 50 minutes had gone by")

"the best programmer encom ever had, and he ends up playing space cowboy in some back room"

March 21, 2006
Link of the Moment
Following up yesterday's TRON link... Arcade at the Movies links to videogames, real and fictional, shown at the movies. The "monster chess" shown in Star Wars is one of the most famous. I found this link in an AtariAge discussion about Rogue Synapse, a group of amateur coders who make some of these fictional games reality. I absolutely applaud the effort, though the games lack some of the polish and gloss that the early movies had that should be possible on any PC these days. I think they'll even construct fullsize arcade games for you. "Space Paranoids" from TRON! "Starfighter" from "The Last Starfighter!" Cool stuff.

--I always liked the Dogfight game from Star Trek III.

Even More Random Move Link of the Moment
Watched "Colossus: The Forbin Project" last night. It ends like the first part of a trilogy that it is, but they never made movies for the sequels... luckily I found this page that explains what happened in the other books.

Online Tool of the Moment
Yet another minimalist-UI specialty tool, this one marginally more useful than most, htmlescape converts HTML characters like < and & to their safely escape equivalents.

a musing: my self

March 21, 2005
Musing of the Moment
My current favorite self-hypothesis is that I'm a kind of weird hybrid, an attention-seeking introvert. After bouncing around some ideas with my mom I see that it runs in the family a bit although maybe it's rude to use such stark terms for other people. But among my Aunt, my Mom, and myself I think there are some similarities: we definitely like having our own times and our own spaces, but we also enjoy socializing, and we also like performing, from my mom's theater work to my own tendency to make with the funny at the dev group's daily lunch.

So, assuming people agree that "introversion" is a reasonable simplification/diagnosis to part of it that I've already mentioned is my need to recharge on my own, just a little zoning out with a book, or tv, or most often these days the web. Sometimes, after a full day, immersing myself in the websites I frequent, catching up with email and the message boards I participate in, is the mental equivalent of sinking into a nice warm bath. Heh...and like a bath, it's possible to overdo it...the web equivalent of letting my fingers get all pruney is when I'm actively procrastinating using the web, and Pavlov-ishly keep returning to the same sites that I know haven't had a chance to "refresh" yet.

One little bit of "bubble bath" in this increasingly pressed metaphor is IMDB; I love going out with people, seeing an older video, and the pleasure of returning home, unwinding a bit, and looking up the quotes and trivia for the title.

phillybuster day 3

March 21, 2004
I'm not sure, but I think these past few days of backlog flush have had a ton of really good stuff, maybe even better than a day when I'm actually here. I think some of these links I wanted to read through before posting...which makes it take a real long time to write up, since I always start reading or viewing.

backlog flush #43
  • Wow. Blind from the ages of 3 to 46, Mike May seeing for the first time in his life is some amazing reading, how his brain is learning how to process visual information for the first time ever.
  • Halcyon Days, amazing interviews with classic game programmers....I bought this when it was a "book on floppy" but now it's available for free!
  • The WW2 Art of George Rarey, assembled by his son.
  • The English Learner Movie Guides...oddly compelling straightforward explanations for words and phrases that might be tough for a non-native speaker to get in various popular movies.
  • I'm not sure why I backlogged RandyLand...maybe because it's such a study in how not to make a personal webpage.
  • How Many Plots Are There in Literature? 36? 20? 7? 3? 1? More on the 36, and some other Frequently Asked Reference Questions.
  • WHOA--awesome, awesome link: O Brave New World That Has Such Bloggers In't!
  • Elevator Moods: Funky little movies filmed in elevators.
  • Prisoners' Inventions. I am still trying to keep up my regimine of the "burpees" exercise, which is kind of another form of prisoner invention.
  • I met a traveller from an antique land,
    Who said--"Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desart....Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
    And on the pedestal, these words appear:
    My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
    Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away."
    --"Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley...I love that "Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!" line.

reality is what you think it

March 21, 2003
Movie Quote of the Moment
"And by the way, her tits weren't even real."
"Well, I could squeeze 'em, that's real enough for me."
--"Shallow Hal". Many women don't understand that a lot of guys think this way. The movie was a lot better than it should have been.

Link of the Moment
Video Clips of old Cigarette Ads from the 50s and 60s. The second Flintstones link is especially interesting, though when the show was first run it was during primetime and considered an adult show, kind of like the Simpsons I guess...

News of the Moment
"Shock and Awe" is underway. I'm at home sick today. CNN has some amazing coverage at the moment: no commentary, just switching between various exterior shots, some nightvision, others with bombs lighting up the scene. It really brings home the barbarism of what we're doing. It's a city of frickin' 5 million people! (On the other hand, "the lights are still on", they seemed to be focused on the "military targets".)

Damn it, I was hoping that with all the question about the state of Iraq's upper echelons, they could have avoided this, and we mighta won while looking like real heroes. (I don't think throwing missile after missile from miles off shore impresses anyone as heroic.)

Our tax dollars at work!

junior anti-sex league

(1 comment)
March 21, 2002
Headline of the Moment
Does abstinence make the church grow fondlers?
--from a piece on Priests and Pedophilia

Quote of the Moment
"We are much more simply human than anything else."
--Harry Stack Sullivan, quoted in this thoughtful Salon piece by a former (celibate) priest, against the Roman Catholic church's stance on celibacy.

funny costumes

(1 comment)
March 21, 2001
Life's going a bit crazy right now, layoffs to the left of me, layoffs to the right of me, layoffs all around me! But I'll muddle through.

Funny Costumes of the Moment
A lot of funny costumes on this page, 70s Live Action Kid Vid. All these cheese shows that lived on in syndication in the 80s... I remember the Bugaloos, but somehow missed out on the even more famous H.R.Pufnstuf. Anyways, this is a really well researched page.

A little closer to home was this Great Space Coaster tribute. I loved this show when I was a kid. I can hear the theme song now, and then the brilliance of Speed Reader and Gary Gnu... wow.

Finally it's Kaiju. I saw a sticker with the URL at the men's room for the Upstairs Lounge in Boston. It looks like people making up some more of these elaborate costumes and duking it out. The FAQ says it got its start at the School of the MFA, where I took some of my first programming classes (they had a tie in with Tufts.)

< retrospect: 21 mar >