| < retrospect: 10 nov >

November 10, 2017

Jean Charlot's book of drawings and captions "Dance of Death" was in my parents' library as I was growing up, and left an impression. You can now see it as a PDF on the Artist's website.

Death and Yorrick (Death:"As our great bard says...")

Death and the Pugilist (Death: "When I hit 'em, they stay hit.")

Death and the Artist (Death:"Your prices will skyrocket!")

"It's almost as if Hugh Hefner was projecting a force-field that protected creepy famous men, and with his death they were suddenly exposed."

November 10, 2016

Vision: Humans are odd. They think order and chaos are somehow opposites and try to control what won't be. But there is grace in their failings. I think you missed that.
Ultron: They're doomed!
Vision: Yes... but a thing isn't beautiful because it lasts. It is a privilege to be among them.
--"Age of Ultron". International flights with tons of movies to choose from allow for some nice little indulgences...

November 10, 2015

Slate on skeptic-ish parents considering distilling more of a religious sense for their kids. But this quote: "It was all so beautiful and comforting and safe" is not how I think about my childhood (or at least later childhood?) sense of the divine.

Even though my folks or (for the most part?) people in my church weren't excessively fire-and-brimstone-y, that's the part that stuck with me the most: you have to toe the line in this world or eternal punishment in the next results. It's hard to know what's the cart and what's the horse but somewhere in my development maelstrom that sense of needing to do what was right, not just for its own sake (though I got some of that too) but because of future judgement or retribution from some other - God, or Society, or Fate, or something... became a prominent feature. I guess that's helped me make some better-for-me lifestyle choices, but it's also kind of a miserable way to be at times.

(and to be honest there's a sophomoric part of me that carries disdain for watered-down, child-comforting "just the sweet parts" faith, even as a wiser part of me thinks "yeah, barring real evidence for one of the many supernatural explanations that's probably a decent way to be".)
Via Slate: Movies on Vinyl: A Thing That Actually Happened in the Early 1980s. My Aunt Susan and Uncle Bill had a player and a bunch of movies.

November 10, 2014

Cora @ 4 months + 6 months; Great Baby, or Greatest Baby?

November 10, 2013

"It appears whereas '#bitchboss' is clearly an indication of her frustration, '#bossbitch' is a term of endearment. Isn't language fun? It's like racquetball! ...for your mouth."
--Chris Traeger, Parks and Recreation

some words about my uncle bill

November 10, 2012
My family was so touched by what Josh wrote on the comments here the other day that they asked him to speak at my Uncle Bill's funeral today, but compared to the following tribute he wrote in some personal e-mail... well, I wanted to share it here. Josh has a combination of an truly open heart and adeptness with words that's all too uncommon these days...

You are right. He would never have wanted to live incapacitated after the stroke. He would have hated being dependent on others to take care of him. He always insisted on being independent--to go where and when he wanted to, to choose his own activities, and I think even more importantly to read what and when he wanted to. According to what I read in the emails, he would have lost all or most of his autonomy, at least in the short term, after the stroke and that would have made him unhappy.

As for the Alzheimer's, I saw that in March when I visited. He had forgotten how much time he and I had spent together talking about books and politics, going to the movies and dinner, and going to the bookstore. I had to remind him of these things, and I had to tell him, not that I minded, how much I love and admire him. He seemed surprised to hear that, but I know that before I moved to Japan in 2004, he knew that because we spent a lot of time together. It was almost like he forgot that when his mother died, he called me to go out for dinner and to a movie (this was before I moved in), and that when I lived there we spent hours together talking about literature and history and politics and watched a few PBS series together. I am glad that I saw him in March and that I got the chance to remind him of all that he meant to me and that he showed me how to be a great husband and friend.

When I think of the definition of a spiritual, religious, and righteous man, it is always Bill that comes to mind right away. If I were asked to name whom I think lived by Christian ideals, as I said to Susan a number of years ago, Bill is that person.

You are so fortunate to have had him as your uncle and to have spent your life with him. He's such a fount of love, knowledge, enthusiasm, and devotion. One of things that I noticed about you is how much of Bill is in you. When you and I hung out in Japan, I really was reminded of Bill in many ways. Of course, you are a wonderful guy and wholly by your own individuality, but I really felt that you had internalized Bill's quests for knowledge and his devotion to family and friends. I know that talking with him all those years ago,he really loves and admires you. He really looked up to you and admired everything that you have become.

I am sure that for the rest of my life, whenever you and I meet, I will be searching for Bill in you. Amber is really lucky to have you because you have inherited Bill's capacity for love and devotion. I am lucky, too, for your friendship.

Bill's legacy will live on through you, Kirk, and you should know that you are worthy of it and that you have become an amazing person in all aspects of your life. I am sure that Susan, too, sees how much you take after Bill and that you're being so close to her will comfort her and be a constant reminder of how good of man Bill was and you have become.


that maniak cyriak

November 10, 2011

--via bb Cyriak's done stuff like this before but I love BB's quote:
Sometimes, I suspect that [Cyriak] is the internet, trying to communicate with us in a language it thinks we understand."

Got an iPhone 4S. Siri is only so-so, partially because Reminders is such a weak app. (And the location based reminder service has issues, apparently my work building is too big for it to recognize when I'm at the address.) Hate that all datebook entries are "meetings". Still deciding if dictating txt messages is worth having to be overheard.

Siri is in a weird space in the twin uncanny valleys of audio and artificial intelligence.

the stoic's glass

November 10, 2010
We normally characterize an optimist as someone who sees his glass as being half full rather than half empty. For a Stoic, though, this degree of optimism would only be a starting point. After expressing his appreciation that his glass is half full rather than being completely empty, he will go on to express his delight in even having a glass: It could, after all, have been broken or stolen. And if he is atop his Stoic game, he might go on to comment about what an astonishing thing glass vessels are: They are cheap and fairly durable, impart no taste to what we put in them, and-- miracle of miracles!-- allow us to see what they contain. This might sound a bit silly, but to someone who has not lost his capacity for joy, the world is a wonderful place. To such a person, glasses are amazing; to everyone else, a glass is just a glass, and it is half empty to boot.
--William B. Irvine, "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy". Bill the Splut linked to the first of 3 Essays on BoingBoing by Irvine (listed in reverse order, there) and mentioned he thought he might be a natural stoic.

The first order of business is to realize that the English word "Stoic", in terms of being emotionless, is pretty far afield from the ancient Greek school and practice. It does have elements of seeking tranquility via detachment similar to Buddhism, but without Buddhism's insistence on detaching from positive and joyous feelings as well.

I'd say many parts of Irvine's modernization of Classical Stoicism (a supremacy of rationality, seeking of tranquility, strong appreciation for simple pleasures while not being utterly dismissive of the possibilities of finer ones, seeking to triage parts of the world into things we have total control over, partial control over, and no control over and only attending to the first two categories) hit home for me, but I disliked a bit of arrogance in it (it seems to insist on supreme confidence in ones own opinions, something I find impossible given my temperament in this postmodern world) and says nothing about the need for compassion or empathy.

I would sincerely like an app that graphed how much money I've spent on apps.

(made on my new Mac using my iPad as a ghetto Cintiq via "Air Display") - I've drawn many frogs, and many tubas, but maybe not a frog playing a tuba. - Hollywood's Awesomest Car Lot


November 10, 2009
--Workplace poster. You know, I can understand how that kind of hair touching has sexual overtones and is totally inappropriate for work, especially from someone in a position of authority, but dang, why does she have to take off her glasses all sexy like like that?

I kid, I kid. Still, it's an odd tableau.

support for gay marriage by age and state - the kids are alright. More alright than the old folks, anyway
With all the Windows updates I get the alloyed joy of watching various browser screens refresh-- slowly, top to bottom, like w/ an old modem
NY Times Infotoy on Employment broken down by demographic. Guess I'm demographically blessed... (Guess I knew that) is down. No awesoma powa for me :-(
This toy is designed to hasten the child's adjustment to the world around him. No matter how carefully he puts it together, it won't work.
--The New Yorker
"But are you having fun?" "No, Fun isn't the word- it's good to do- it's retrospective fun I'm having. In six months time I'm having fun" --Eddie Izzard from behind the scenes of "Across the Universe" - great flick, kind of like Baz Luhrmann meets the Beatles. Heh, retrospective fun-

the stupidest pile of nonsense you could throw together

November 10, 2008
Somewhere online I read people complaining that Obama fans expect that there is a silver bullet on its way, that there's an easy fix, and Obama is gonna pay the mortgage and fill our gas tanks. Are there many people who actually think that? Are there many people who actually think there are many people who think that?

Me, I'm just happy to have a president who doesn't seem like he'd lie to push a NeoCon-agenda war out.

Video of the Moment

--It's Get Your War On now in convenient video form... this works REALLY well with the rapid dialog. (via bill the splut)

Snark of the Moment
wow, those posts move sooooo fast.
no point in arguing
these people respect logic less than college students
it's almost like a twitter account for the stupidest pile of nonsense you could throw together.
shorter version: twitter.

--Redeye and dhex in this GamersQuarter thread. There's something stuck in my mind about "the stupidest pile of nonsense you could throw together", like making physical piles of stupid was actually the goal.
katwinx I dig twitter as a way of recording fleeting amusements or faux-profundities, and for seeing 140-char smarts of others...
Those "are you smarter than X" ads had Bush's IQ at 124, Obama 126, now Bush is 130? (both with "X is DUMB" animations, but thems high IQs!)
I have a lot to learn.
Putting my sunglasses away in my bag for the commute home at 6 feels like a mean joke.

works in more places

November 10, 2007
Here's the billboard I would like to see.
Seriously. Sometimes I am stunned by the sheer chutzpah of the AT&T marketing division. It's reminiscent of Soviet Propaganda in how it feels like the best way to deal with a politically inconvenient truth is to boldly proclaim the opposite with as many banners as possible. If it wasn't for the word-of-mouth, I might've believed that AT&T had a superior network, but it just ain't so.

Plus, their curiously constrained claims always tend to leave them open to ridicule. With their current campaign, "Works in more fictional places" is the obvious rejoinder. Or with the whole "Fewer Dropped Calls" - sure, if your customers can't make as many calls in the first place, fewer are going to drop. (And besides that, even the core claim seemed suspect based on my 4 months with an iPhone; back with Sprint they were an anomaly, but now sitting at my desk, a call will go along with out a hitch, 'til suddenly, silence.)

I'm willing to believe maybe the iPhone makes it worse. I wanna like AT&T, Deathstar and all. But, bleh.

music and me

November 10, 2006
I've been thinking about my relationship to music.

I've taken pride in my music collection, (ironically, both for its selectiveness , and for its bulk) many many CDs currently residing in 4 massive black binders, even though it didn't really get started until college. I made some great mixtapes back in the day, if I do say so myself. And it all seemed to jive well with my band involvement, and singing a cappella w/ sQ, the whole idea of me being a "music person".

The first step was admitting to myself that I really don't like jazz and classical that much, even though I had been trying to force it since fifth grade or so. Like it says on my bio page, I've managed to distill my appreciation of music into 3 broad ideas: lyrics, rhythm, and clever hooks. Since jazz and classical generally miss out on the first of those, a work in either genre has to rely on 2 and 3 if it's going to capture my interest. I have little patience for slow classical or noodling jazz.

But then over the last decade, I really cut back on how much I listen to music. Judging by the increasing density of my CD binders I'm still purchasing CDs, but I' not going back to old CDs all that much. These days I largely treat music as background. Most of the music I listen to is the high energy, non-distracting "party mix" stuff I find immensely useful in aiding in focus as I work. (Recently I bumped up from a 1.5 hour party mix to a much longer 8.2 hour mix.)

Theoretically I'm open to a wider variety of music as I drive, but that's stunted by my forgetting to refresh the pile of CDs I have in the car, and then often preferring some variety of news, sports, or talk radio when I'm driving on my own. (I had an iPod for a short while, but I've come to the conclusion that it'd only be useful for me on a public transportation commute, and even then I'd rather have a good book.)

Another admission, and judging by the success of iTunes, I'm not alone in this, is that I usually only like a few songs per CD. Most of the rest feels like filler, though one man's filler is another's best song ever. Sometimes friends offer to share their entire MP3 collection with me, It's almost tough to admit but I have so little urge to bring new music into my life in a wholesale kind of way. In general, I'll randomly hear a song (or see a movie with a good soundtrack), buy the CD, listen to it, and find maybe one or two other songs I like besides what I bought it for. So being shoved into a realm of thousands of new tunes just seems... overwhelming. A vast amount of someone else's coal to find a few potential diamonds.

I'm feeling the urge to try to make the canoncial distillation of my CD collection, MP3s of just the stuff I like (and wouldn't skip if it came up in a random selection) and skipping the filler. On the one hand, if I was succesful with a project like that, I'd be worried because the songs that didn't make the cut that day would be almost totally ignored. On the other hand, it's worlds better than the status quo, where only the songs that had made it onto my "party mixes" or into the smaller CD wallet for my car get regular attention.

Once I had that "best of" collection, I'd further need to winnow it down to "party/work", "potentially sensual", and "other". And that would be it. I worry about the amount of effort it would take though... I'd have to trust in my ability to quickly judge a song by just hearing the begining and maybe a chunk in the middle. Which is actually pretty reliable, though I'm sure a few good songs would slip through the cracks. The BIG problem comes from the songs that are luke-warm, neither hot nor cold...

Toy of the Moment
Speaking of all things musical, or at least audio, the Whitney Music Box is a cool (if somewhat repetitive) series of toys exploring the relationship between sound and spiral space. Very Space Age!

Video of the Moment
OK, this is a video of someone doing very well at the "Home Run Contest" in Super Smash Brothers Melee, where a character has to beat up a "heavy bag" and then use a power move to send it flying for distance:

But it's probably the most concise video showing for showing something that drives me NUTS about the game... in the final "5, 4, 3, 2, 1" countdown, I swear that the announcer's pronunciation of "five" sounds more like "three" than it does "five". Can people weigh in? Is it just an aural quirk of mine, or is it spoken kind of oddly? (Another odd thing is I don't remember noticing it for the first few years I owned the game, but now it grabs my attention every time.)

the game game

November 10, 2005
Pointless Minutiae from Kirk's Life of the Moment
I've been redoing how I store my games. For a few years I've been putting "jewelboxed" games in a big folder, and last year I started doing the same for "DVD-cased". I kept the DVD-style cases and the CD booklets, though not the plasticky jewel cases. But then the other week I got an urge to put the PS2 and Xbox games back on the shelf. For some reason the ease in shelf-browsing really makes up for the lack of portability... (Ksenia thinks it's a form of showing off.) GC is my main "travel" system, so I compromised and put its cases on the shelf but kept its games in small travel folders.

Finally yesterday I wisened up and rearranged my new PS1/DC folder so it used the CD booklets to make a very nice browsable book. It's much easier to locate a game when you can see the well-designed cover rather than trying to read the CD imprint. And the trick is to put the booklets on the outsides of the 2x2 pages and the CDs on the inside, then you can flip through more easily.

For the record, gamecount-wise I'm in the low 20s for Xbox and PSone games, mid-20s for PS2, and low to mid 30s for Dreamcast and Gamecube. That's a lot of games over the years! There's also a N64 kicking around, which was THE system for me of the 90s, and an SNES, which was generally a retro thing for me.

It's striking how much nicer DVD cases look on a book shelf than CD jewelboxes. Hmm...come to think of it, maybe some of that's because they look like books! Duh. That never occured to me before. I think the grey plastic is less chintzy than the see-through stuff CDs usually use.

Link of the Moment
The very worst of audiophile excess. Boingboing was mostly amused by the $500-ish wooden volume control knob, but I think $30,000 for speaker cables just takes the cake. (Sort of like that cartoon where the kid is selling lemonade for a thousand dollars a glass or something..."but I only have to sell one!")

Quote of the Moment
"We are alone, absolutely alone on this chance planet: and, amid all the forms of life that surround us, not one, excepting the dog, has made an alliance with us."
--Maurice Maeterlinck, yes, via Google's custom homepage and its Quotations Page link

brand of fire

November 10, 2004
Gargoyle of the Moment
Source code //
Built with Processing
Same basic idea as the other day, but now I have the ability to screengrab from the Gameboy original rather than painting my own rough version. This is Firebrand the Red Destroyer, the main character from the game Gargoyle's Quest. Interestingly, he got his start as a bad guy in the game Ghosts 'n Goblins. Now I think he's supposed to be red, but in the original GB version, he is of course the same spinach green as everything else on that old system, and I don't feel like updating him from the version I got to know and love. I just always thought he was the cutest little guy, a great example of pixel art.

hard drives with a little help from my friends

November 10, 2003
With a little help from my friends I was able to get the data off of my old drive. Although I didn't act on my previous vague backup plans, having everything in just a few directories made life a lot easier.

Thanks for the advice in the messageboard. I don't think it's a VGA thing; even safe mode doesn't start. Either something is hosed in the boot part of the drive (virus?) or maybe it's with the overall system.

People: If you have files that are important to you, Back It Up. This week. Put a copy somewhere else, and figure out how to keep that copy safe. (This can make your life easier when it's time to change computers anyway.)

Link of a Previous Moment
Since things are pretty hectic, maybe it's time to rely on the good old's an old Wired article on well shaped curves-- a statistical distributions that seems to be showing up as much as the famous bell cuve these days. (I think they're also called "bathtub curves".)

Quote of the Moment
"I've said it before and I'll say it again. There is no way, no way that you could come from my loins. Soon as we get home, I'm gonna put a lump on your mama's head."
--Buford T. Justice, Smokey and the Bandit III

like, cosmic, man

November 10, 2002
Science News of the Moment
Yikes, among the recent news stories to be neurotic about, this one pegs the a measured weakening in the Earth's magnetic poles may cause 'em to flip, and in the meantime, the stuff that protects us from the solar wind may be MIA. In the slashdot discussion I got this from, they point out that it could be happening "in the next 1000 years or so", but still...the number of things like global warming, pollution, and nuclear terrorism that make me not want to worry about longevity treatments or bother with cyrogenics...or want to hesitate before having kids...keeps going up.

Funny of the Moment
The Brunching Shuttlecocks responses to the Purity Test are funny, especially if you're familiar with these from way back (I'll let you do the googling, there are a couple different flavors with different amounts of questions to determine how "pure" you are.)

Software of the Moment
Speaking of things concerning our solar system, Celestia is a cool little simulation that lets you zoom through the solar system and the rest of the Galaxy. The interface isn't the most obvious, however. I recommend going to ZZZ Tech, where I found the link and where they talk about getting around a bit, or going to the Help menu and clicking on Demo. (That's where I started from to get this shot of the moon with the Earth in the background.)

Pop Culture of the Moment
Washington Post piece on Wonder Woman...looks at her place as an icon from a few different angles.

sports nuts to you

November 10, 2001
Quote of the Moment


--Spectator's Sign on WWF Smackdown. I guess Christian is a new 'Heel' (bad guy wrestling character.) I don't watch this stuff much, but when I do it seems like entertaining violent ballet with operatic story lines. And today's stuff is more impressive than the "Rock and Wrestlin'" we had in my youth, with guys making really impressive jumps and somersaults and stuff. I swear, I'm not turning into my cousins...anyway, I've actually tried using this "reeks of reekyness" construction. It amuses me.

Culture of the Moment
Heard about this on NPR's Only a Game: this one company is making College Branded Caskets. I'm not posting this here to make fun of the idea so much as just point Some people are really devoted to their alma maters. The president of the company was talking about how people would set up rooms dedicated to their colleges in their homes, and he figured they may wish to be the same in death as they were in life. But since each of these is officially licensed, I imagine it might be hard sell to certain licensing boards.

Joke of the Moment
"If Marilyn Monroe were alive right now what would she be doing?
...clawing at the lid of her coffin."
--Fight Club (Chuck Palahniuk)--the book, which isn't much better than the movie.
KHftCEA 2000-11.1 November

KHftCEA 2000-11.1 November

"I hate when people say they want a politician who doesn't act too much like a politician. What other career would you say that about? I want a doctor who doesn't act like a doctor?"
--Mo + Kirk

< retrospect: 10 nov >