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from leggo my logo

Corporate Logo Math
Nintendo just 'leaked' the logo for its upcoming game system, the "GameCube". There's a clever hiding of the G and the C in the logo, but over all I don't think it will be as flexible as the old 4 N's logo. At first I couldn't tell if it was a "real" 3D object or just an Escher-esque trick, but I think it can be real if the inner cubed is flush against the top front corner of the larger cube, not centered inside the larger cube as it kind of appears. Still, once it rotates the cool "G and C" visual gag will go away.

News of the Moment
High Court Nixes Medical Pot. Great. Hell, I bet if they let this thing slide, people would be getting AIDS and cancer just to smoke up in peace, by crackey! I really don't believe that our country is better off with the kind of drug enforcement we have now. I don't know where the limit should be-- the libertarian in me says no limits, the utilitarian in me suspects no limits would be harmful to safety and hurt more people-- but I know the limit now, with a lot of non-violent drug offenders in overcrowded prisons, and a chicken-and-egg refusal to permit research into its medical effects ("there's no research proving it works" says the Federal Government, now the only legal resource for marijuana for the research, who also seem loathe to permit it's use for doing that same damn research), is not right.

Quote of the Moment
Poor Poland: so far from God, so close to Germany and Russia
Pilsudski in S.M. Stirlings "Under The Yoke", alternate history about World War II

from braintoys

(Almost every link is to a different java braintoy...) I've written about my ex-ex-college instructor Jeffery Ventrella and his site in a previous entry There's one idea that I think I more or less came up with, but he put into code... there's this classic Game called 'Life', where there's a checkerboard of 'cells', where on each click of the clock, a cell lives, die, or is burn based on some simple rules about how many neighbors it has. The general name for this kind of thing is Cellular Automata... a simulation of a machine made of cells.

There's this other idea called Genetic Algorithms... you describe potential solutions to your problem in terms of parameters, which act as "genes", then you use an evolutionary process to breed new solutions and seperate the winning ideas from the losing ones, and eventually the solutions start looking better and better. One famous example of a GA is Richard Dawkin's biomorphs... it's a set of parameters that draw little tree- or creature- looking patterns, and generally the user selects which one he or she likes out of 10 or so variations, acting as the hand of Darwin for aesthetic purposes, since the one selected is used as the parent for the next generation. You can breed some neat looking stuff. (Or you can let the computer run through various bouncin' baby biomorphs itself.)

So, my idea, or at least partially my idea, was to combine these two schemes. Figure out how to describe different CAs with gene settings, then breed them, allowing the user to pick which ones seem interesting. Ventrella put this idea into code, and invited me over to see it running on his empoyers SGI box. By clicking high or low, the user decided how 'fit' that CA was. Well, he's made a cool version of this for windows. He wrapped it around a theme of trying to breed GAs that have 'Gliders', little cell collections that shuffle along the screen (many GAs tend to churn in place, while ones with Gliders tend to look a bit cooler anyway.) So check it out, it's a very cool program to play with. You'll be seeing some Cellular Automatas that no one has seen before, and probably no one will see again!

Quote of the Moment
Well, I believe in the soul. The cock. The pussy. The small of a woman's back. The hanging curve ball. High fiber. Good scotch. That the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent over rated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there oughta be a Constitutional Amendment outlawing astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas eve. And I believe in long slow deep soft wet kisses that last three days.
Crash Davis, "Bull Durham". (A little much, but hey.)

from to dream an impossible dream


Yay! Another one of my dreams has been turned into a four panel cartoon by Jesse Reklaw at Slow Wave! This one doesn't have quite the narrative punch as the first one he did but still I'm very happy with it. He got the Yak people down very well.

One dream that didn't make it was where I'm dealing with an orangutan-- kind of like King Louie from the Jungle Book-- and another friend of mine is eating this brown pellet. The other friend says "hmm, these taste funny, what are they, chocolate covered banana beans?" and the orangutan gets this sheepish/sly expression and says "yeah, that's what they are, banana beans" and I realize he's looking like that because it's actually his droppings, but he doesn't want to mention it.

Link of the Moment
An arguably very useful link for a change! 70 Things to Say When You're Losing a Technical Argument. The first one is probably the best: "That won't scale".

from bricks

(1 comment)
Mo and I share the same middle initial, "L". She mentioned noticing that for the first time yesterday, looking over some papers we both had to sign to refinance our mortgage. I'm not sure if it ever really registered with me or not. Though I think we agree that my "Logan" is more interesting than her "Lynn".

Middle names are kind of funny in general.

Bricks of the Moment
possibility into
I dreamt I was
a brick and I...
--David Pacheco
--The results of the moonmilk brick haiku contest (where the 16 characters-per-line-max haikus will be turned into bricks, supporting a fundraiser by the Friends of Garner State Park) are in. The top haiku was my personal pick as guest judge, I'll sponsor its enscription into brick, and the second not-quite-haiku was another pick.

It's really tough getting the right number of syllables into that small an amount of letters.

Sort of along the same lines, in college I wrote a poem titled "Bricks" that has held up reasonably well.

News of the Moment
Perfector of the frisbee flying disc, recently deceased, to be turned into memorial flying discs. That is so cool! If my own frisbee skills were any better than laughably pathetic, I'd definitely want one.

from hey man. let me ask you something. if somebody draws something and you draw the exact same thing like RIGHT ON TOP OF IT without going outside the original designated art, what do you call that?

So I've kind of "invented" (though it's not very original) a new photo technique. There's probably better technology to help out, it's pretty labor intensive, but it's basically tracing the major contours in a new layer in Paint Shop Pro then using flood fill of a single color from each region. I thought it would help me learn to draw a bit better, but actually it's taught me more about color; for instance, in most pictures, especially those taken inside, caucasion skintone doesn't look like skintone out of the context of the picture.

Anyways, I like how some of these came out.

Hints if you want to try this yourself: learn how to use layers in your paint program. You'll generally want to go for the lightest shade in any given region. I used a 2-pixel solid brush for the lines, though for Mo's head in the final picture, I had to do it with a 1-pixel brush, then retrace. And, as always, work on a larger image, and then shrink it down.

Clockwise from Top:   Me, Post Party Mo, and the Demon Lupschada.    
Ocean Grove, New Jersey, November 1999

from the geek bomb-diggity

Update of the Moment
In yesterday's comments, Max expressed surprise that techies/nerds would look down on plain old text files on the desktop for "to do" tracking....Au Contraire! Check out the notes from "Life Hacks: Tech Secrets of Overprolific Alpha Geeks" -- text files are the geek bomb-diggity, especially because they're so non-proprietary.

Supposedly some geeks like excel, but I think it's pretty evil. Just unfriendly and clearly designed for office dronefolk, not with an engineering mindset. For that kind of thing, I either use tab delimited text files with Perl to do my dirty work, and I also made this one really fun online database that makes it trivial to make small one-table databases, complete with custom UIs. I keep meaning to get that in release-able shape.

Proclamation of the Moment
A Proclamation:

By the Power invested in us,
We, Sofia Lemieux, declare ourselves
to be Sofia I, Empress of Cantabrig-
ia, (the territory formerly known as
Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the
United States of America.)
In the interest of maintaining local customs upon meeting us, bowing is not required.
Her Royal Highness, Sofia I, Empress of Cantabrigia
This was posted near Harvard Square, and put on the windshield of many cars parked there. Somehow, it increases my desire to live closer to Cambridge once I sell the house. I'm sure Waltham has its own crazies, but they're generally not as productive as this.

Nice eyepatch. I wonder if she traded it for wisdom like Odin, or just lost it in some kind of fight.

Science of the Moment
Tool Use in Animals (from Dr. Robert Cook at my alma mater Tufts.) Neat stuff.

Pop Culture of the Moment
Slate's Guide to Gurus. The UI is annoying (I would have preferred one big table) but the content is worth a browse.

from do you guys want some shots? I'm buyin'!

Dialog of the Moment
"What is wrong with you?"
"I don't know. I just didn't wanna win like this. "
"You stop right there. You are a good person. Good things happen to good people."
"No. It's pure bullshit, sweetie. You're lucky as hell, so you might as well enjoy it."
"Do you guys want some shots? I'm buyin'!"
Loretta and Amber Atkins, Drop Dead Gorgeous, a great spoof on smalltown beauty pagents.

Giveaway of the Moment

--Zaks...an old building toy by Ohio Arts, I got this pile of 'em in high school. Kind of interesting, mostly just triangles and squares that connected with a kind of hinge on their edges, you could try your hand at building various -ahedrons. Also some funny bits like eyes and antennas. And they came in a "Zaks Sak". (This was before Lego's famous "Zack the Lego Maniac" campaign I think.) As part of my decluttering effort, they're going to the Salvation Army--or if you want them, drop me a line.

Sad News of the Moment
So, LAN3 IM'd me with "Superman died." last night. And, not to sound disrespectful, life isn't without its ironies; At the end of his life, Christopher Reeve, who in pop-culture terms was Superman, ended up looking more like the classic version of Lex Luthor.

I think he might be a posthoumous politcal pawn, though given his strong beliefs, I think he'd be ok with that if it advances the cause of more research.

Windows Gripe of the Moment
Why doesn't Add/Remove Programs dialog tell you the DATE IT WAS INSTALLED? That would be a LOT more useful than "Size", "Date last Used" or its guesstimate of "Frequency of Use"...and a much easier to pin down bit of data than the other date-related fields.

from 5! = 1·2·3·4·5

Geek Snarkery of the Moment
A friend gave me a photocopy of a worksheet from a programmer job interview, the contents of which I'm transcribing here. Probably the worst interviewee experience I've seen. I've tried to be reasonably fair; arguably I should could be generous and use * in place of ·, since this was handwritten, but given all the absolute conceptual failures and mental disconnects, I'm leaving it as is.

So the interview "challenge" was to write a factorial function. Now, I don't know exactly how well or poorly the problem was described by the interviewer, but given the first line, probably copied from a whiteboard, I'm assuming it was pretty straightforward. Here's what the sheet had on it...most of the strikes are circular scribble-outs:
5! = 1·2·3·4·5

public string access(string 5! a)
    string b = a.substring(0,1);
    Int int c = b String.getValue(b);
    if(c < 2){
    } else if (c < 3){
    } else if (c < 4){
I know that won't mean anything to non-geeks, but the layer on top of layer of sheer "Not Getting It" is a real jawdropper. (I went ahead and placed an attempt to list all (or at least most of) the problems as the first comment) For someone aspiring to a Java development position, and who must've sounded at least possibly decent on the phonescreen...supposedly the person has multiple masters degrees in science-y and computer-science-y fields, both from good local Universities.

In case you think I'm being unfair, here is a link to the actual handwritten response.

Dialog of the Moment
"Death needs time like a junkie needs junk."
"And what does Death need time for?"
"The answer is so simple. Death needs time for what it kills to grow in..."
William S. Burroughs
Via this Katrina-related BoingBoing piece.

Politics of the Moment
Fun if rude-n-crude rant about Bedtime for BonzoBush...he blew off a 2-hour lunch meeting because the night before the Argenentinian schedule pushed events past his bedtime. Poor pumpkin! What a loser we have for president, and I don't just mean the popular vote in 2000. Maybe it's a good thing Cheney's really the guy in charge, then.

from the river of no return

--B. Watson is working to implement an idea I've had for a while, The River Raid Mapping Project.

A long while back on the Usenet group rec.games.video.classic I asked if River Raid "ends", and how...in response Erik Mooney posted a hack of River Raid where the plane won't die and you can just let it run...I ran it overnight and came back to a game that was still running, but with a kind of messed up world. So ever since then, I've thought about trying to assemble big "Nintendo Power"-style combined stitched-together "maps" so that we can see exactly when things start to go awry...

Expect more of this project later, I hope to give an even more complete map a permanent home, in collaboration with B. Watson.

from chicken! fight like a robot!

Video Game Art of the Moment
One biggish influence on my childhood drawing was the manual to the Atari game Berzerk... I think I was studied enough to catch the Da Vinci reference in this diagram:

And this "internal view" seemed like one of the coolest things ever...

After that I loved drawing big, chunky robots, often in a skeletal half-built or half-demolished form.

Typo of the Moment
Don't think tonight will work but Night Watch is pretty kickin'-- it's in Russian but with some of the best use of subtitles I've ever seen. It's (I'm guessing) probably par for the curse in terms of modern high energy vampire flicks, but it has some cool "epic" elements as well.
Response to Miller et al. about a possible trip to the movies
...I didn't realize I had written "par for the curse" until someone pointed it out...wish my typos were that clever all the time.

from mach daddy

So a couple of years ago I sang the praises of my Garmin 2610 GPS...

It's getting a bit long in the tooth (compared to say, the TomTom I got for my mom recently, with its 3D-ish angled maps and friendlier UI) but remains generally reliable. Admittedly its maps are blissfully ignorant of the post-Big-Dig world, and I'm too cheap to shell out for the update, but still, having this kind of device is a huge boon... it is to Mapquest what cellphones are to landlines, and I barely understand how people made spontaneous plan changes without 'em.

Anyway, back then I mentioned its "Max Speed" record, which I likened to a "high score" feature. Well, all I have to say is:
Max Speed: 2492

Beat that. I just wish it had a spot for my initials.

from look at all that action!

So yesterday my coworker Rob showed me this piece of art he had bought off of his son:

"Untitled" by James Young (Click for Fullsize)
The original asking price had been a dollar and ten cents. During the negotiations, dismayed at his dad's lowball offer of a quarter, young James pointed out "but look at all that action!". The final agreed upon price was a dollar.

And the Artist was correct... that's a heck of a lot of action:

I really liked some of the monster design:
Rob's a shrewed negotiator. This work was definately work at least the original asking price.

from the abominable tale of mr. snowman at the s+s

So last night I went to the S+S with Miller, Kate, and Tammy. We decided to do a round of "Mr. Snowman", a game Mr. Ibis independently taught to both Miller and me. "Mr. Snowman" is a collaborative kind of game for 2 or more players, where half the people draw attacks (melting or otherwise) of the snowman that has been drawn, and the other half draw defenses to counter the various attacks. (At that point, the attacking team can try a new attack, or draw a counter to the counter, and so on and so forth.)

We made a 4-player variant, with Kate and I defending the attacks drawn by Tammy and Miller. Ideally this game is played at one of those restaurants with paper tablecloths and crayons, or at least paper placemats, but I suppose sticking with the napkin at hand made for some easier scanning.

This was the result of the first round:

I started by drawing the hapless Snowman. Miller quickly drew a basic bonfire underneath for insidious melting purposes. Kate countered with rain above to douse the flames.

At this point there was a fork... a bit later in the game, Miller drew an umbrella to let the flames continue their nefarious work, to which Kate had no choice but to draw a helpful dog on mailbox pushing a bucket of water to extinguish that damn bonfire. A bit later Miller invoked the "it's ok to make fun of your own culture" rule and drew a Filipino restaurant (top right) to turn the poor dog into lunch. Kate then drew a health inspector to close the restaurant and that was the end of that thread.

The other fork was Tammy upgrading the storm with thunder and lightning, there on the left. I deftly drew Benjamin Franklin to bring the fearsome electrical energies into his famous kite and key. I believe Miller than drew a large quantity of butter to lure Ol' Ben to an early coronary grave. Kate decided to fight butter with more fire to melt it. Miller thought this could be the perfect time to draw in some lobster, but Kate argued that it didn't seem like a single lobster would be that unhealthy of a food, and so this thread ended, and the Snowman lived on!

At some point Tammy drew a stick of dynamite (ignominiously jammed into the Snowman's side) with a trailing fuse wire and plunger box, and arrows showing the plunger being pressed. I ignored Miller's suggestion to merely redraw the arrows going the other way, and instead drew how the plunger was being operated by (a very, very poorly drawn version of) Wile E. Coyote. Mr. Snowman is a bit loose with temporal issues, so I felt ok showing both Wile E before pressing the plunger, and after, where he's a big exploded mess holding a sign saying "OUCH".

Tammy drew a very lovely dragon, slain by my less lovely St. George. She also drew an oncoming train. I drew a damsel in distress, tied to the rails, and then a hero to throw the switch that would divert the train. In a nod to the non-hetero-normative make up of our group, I decided the hero(ine) was actually Delila Do-Right, said Damsel's girlfriend. It may have been at this point that Tammy bemoaned about being seated right before me in the rotation, given my MAD THWARTING SKILLZ, though admittedly I seem to have more than my fair share of celebrities fighting for my cause.

When Tammy later drew a letter from the hospital informing Mr. Snowman that he had Cancer, I had to counter with an IV drip for chemotherapy, and would have made our survivor snowman bald, except that he was already. (There was some talk of drawing a phonecall indicating that the letter was a prank, but that seemed a little abstract to me.)

The other long thread was Tammy realizing that the poor beleaguered snowman was despondent, and suicidal, and firing a gun into his own head! I was able to draw the bottle of booze responsible for both this rash decision and for causing the snowman to miss. However, Miller pointed out that it wasn't a bottle of booze, but non-alcoholic swill of some sort, possibly O'Doules. Kate then drew the box of blanks that the gun had actually been loaded with. (I think, chronologically, this may have been when the cancer letter occurred, with the idea that the letter may have provoked the suicidal thoughts.) Later Miller drew a newspaper with a story telling of how those blanks were being recalled...for being live ammunition after all! Kate then drew a blowtorch to sever the snowman's gun arm entirely. The rest of the table thought this was a pyrrhic victory, but what the hell, it's just a snowman, and it shouldn't be that hard to find a replacement stick anyway.

But, alas, the endgame was nigh. Tammy drew a large firecracker going, as she said, "up his butt". My lack of attention proved sadly fatal, as I didn't look at what she had placed new on the page and, based on her comment, thought she was talking about the dynamite sticking into his side (with the Wile E. defense, I had been more focused on the plunger.) So my not-so-clever scissors snipping the fuse was for naught, and given how we had pretty much filled the napkin anyway, we decided that that was the end of poor Mr. Snowman. I have to believe that he's in a better place.

Anyway, I heartily recommend this game as a great accompaniment to nearly any restaurant meal.

from daisies that shatter. a tornado with a halo.

So yesterday (and I'm retroactively claiming it was to celebrate the longest day / start of summer) Jonathan suggested we go after work and take the Minute Man Bike Trail to its end, him on roller blades, me on bike (not a bad match, given his athleticism, and my lack thereof. Actually I was lagging him a bit.) Looking at the website, I guess I went longer than we thought, maybe 9.5 miles each way, from Arlington Center out to Bedford and back. That's quite a haul for me... I feel pretty good today, though I didn't sleep particularly well.

So here's what the end of the Minuteman looks like, and Jonathan on 'blades (he's actually amazing graceful on those things, like the way those dancers used to be on skates in the 70s) and me on a bike.

(UPDATE: I found this google map of the minuteman on a minuteman pather's blog)

Literary Bits of the Moment
I just finished Douglas Coupland's "Eleanor Rigby" (Thanks Mr. Ibis and Felisdemens! His sandals will be mailed shortly) a meditation on loneliness and human society in general.


Not my favorite Coupland work, lacking the constant flow of neat observations and ideas, but decent. For me the most striking bit was this series of apocalyptic visions of one of the central characters, dealing with MS, raised by foster families, most featuring an odd fundamentalist religious bent. (He sums it up as "This fallen world is going to end, but at least I saw it before the fall" -- it wasn't till I reviewed the book for this entry that I realized that phrase may have sunk into my head and informed my comment I posted yesterday on how we are some future collapsed society's Atlantis.)

The central recurring vision is one of farmers and their wives, burning their seeds and destroying their stores of preserved food, looking up at the sun shining in the all black sky... that scene's narrative gets further revealed throughout the book, but it's the idea of a round white ball of sun against a black sky that I find most sticks in my head.

There were other tableaus and mini-stories:
Heh, all this disturbing, dream-like imagery makes me want to go catch up on Slow Wave.

UDPATE: nearly forgot one more great quote from the book:
"Again I have to say it, Mom, there's a lot to be said for having a small and manageable dream."

from the sound of two moose antlers waving

There's one anecdote I'll always keep with me... (in part because I noted it in my Palm journal) I was commuting on Memorial Drive one Tuesday morning in 1999, not far from that weird rotary at the end of the BU bridge, and was furious, letting myself get all road-ragey over the halted conditions. (In some ways I find it cathartic to let loose during that kind of situation, try to burn out all the irritations and frustrations of the day, but there's some real anger at the scene there as well.)

Anyway, I was ranting and raving over this Asian guy who had snuck in to the lane by tailgating the car in front of him -- in clear violation of the "alternate feeding" guidelines! -- that I thought were key to letting us all get through this mess.

So he looked at me in his rear view mirror, placed his hands on either side of his head, stuck out his tongue and waggled moose antlers.

I was completely disarmed. It was a perfect wordless Zen Koan, a reminder of just how seriously I should take the world and my current place in it.

Object of the Moment

In Rockport, Evil B and I thought maybe we had found the world's biggest bottle-opener. Lots of leverage with that thing!

Turns out it's more like a cane, with a metal top that unscrews and reattaches to become a bicycle-seat like top for a monopod stool... clever!

(Nice forearm, EB.)

Game of the Moment
Probably cooler in concept than execution, Design Your Own Deathstar.

from the mighty 4-0 jumbos

Max points out something Bill Simmons points out in his ESPN column:
Speaking of fan bases, the fans from a certain New England college are outraged that I refuse to acknowledge a particular undefeated college season that's happening right now and resulted in an especially high ranking last weekend. And you know what? You're right. I need to be the bigger man here. So let's acknowledge it ... congratulations to the Tufts Jumbos on your 4-0 start!
So, um, Yay Jumbos. But are 4-0 starts that rare in college? I guess the one thing you can say about a team like Tufts is unlike football factories it can't really pad its schedule with creampuff opponents, because if anything, it would be one of the creampuffs...

Drawing of the Moment
In helping Evil B up in Rockport, we came across this sketch for the layout of a bedroom. We believe it was done by Alice Cox:

Click here for a larger version
Apologies for the digital photo, I tried to lighten it up some but the pencil drawing still doesn't come out to well. Here's a close up of the chair, sidetable, and lounge:

Cool stuff! I admire the technical skill as well as sense of design that went into this arrangement.

Instructions You Didn't Know You Needed of the Moment
I liked wikiHow's instructions on How to Become a Hobo, but its How to Be a Hobo with a Web Based Income is even more up my alley.

from pac-manners

The video game magazine The Gamer's Quarter has message boards I've been hanging out at for a while now. They have an ongoing Share Your Banner thread where they solicit 500x100 video game related banners from people. 500x100 is an odd aspect ratio, and regulars on the site seem to like finding oddball and compelling screenshots and associated gaming materials.

These are (kind of bad snapshots, I didn't have a scanner handy) taken from the book "Programmers at Work", from the interview with Toru Iwatani, the inventor of Pacman. They are doodles he made over the course of the interview in his dayplanner:

(click for full size, each is a bit shrunk to fit here.)

I always like behind-the-scenes type sketches like these. The first is showing how the image of Pac-Man evolved from the Japanese word for mouth (along with the old "he took a slice from a pizza, and there was Pac-man" story,) the second is why they didn't add eyes to Pac-Man (then they'd want to add glasses, maybe a mustache, etc -- though some bootleggers did just that with the game that became Ms.Pac-Man) as well as how friendly the ghost monsters are, relatively speaking, and the final one shows some of the "ghost psychology", since a relentless, head-towards-the-player attack would be boring.

Article of the Moment
NY Times on How T-Mobile's iPhone killer ain't. Short answer: it's the software, stupid, and since they say they're using Windows Mobile I'd have to agree.

iPhones are frustrating sometimes; it benefits from a design that seems very unwilling to compromise, but sometimes features get left out. A lot of people would like to see a little counter showing you how many characters into a 160-character TXT have been typed. I wouldn't be surprised if that has been dismissed as "clutter", no matter how useful people would find it.

Quote of the Moment
The trouble with being poor is that it takes up all of your time.
Willem de Kooning
(Yes, another damn quotationspage.com QotD.) I'd upgrade that to "the trouble with not being independently wealthy".

from lets go atari

Busy and sad day.

Trivia of the Moment
A few days ago I posted some Pac-Man sketch banners that I put together for Gamers Quarter... here are some I made a while back, from an Atari catalog, some Atari Force comic books, and the manual for Centipede. The cropping was really kind of difficult, but fun. (Click for full size.)

from farm math

So back in high school my calc teacher (Mr. Pawlowski! Yay old yearbooks.) gave me an interesting way of solving this one classic-sounding algebra problem.

Like many math problems, the premise is a bit absurd: Farmer Brown knows he has, I dunno, 30 animals, cows and chickens. He doesn't know how many of each he has, but he does know that among them they have, say, 74 legs. (Why Farmer Brown is able to count legs but not animals, and not distinguish a chicken leg from a cow egg, is not made clear...)

Now there's the fancy-pants school-larnin' way of solving this: (let c be the number of chickens, m (for moo) the number of cows)
we know c+m=30
thus c = 30 - m
plus the legs means (c*2)+(m*4)=74
and c = 23

Cosmic Cow Says:
"Hey, speaking of cows standing, anyone remember the show Too Close for Comfort?"
"Monroe said his secret was being able to draw an inoffensive udder!"

2019 Update: was it Monroe or Henry???
but Farmer Brown doesn't know from Algebra. So what does he do? He has all the cows stand up on their hind legs! (and part of the fun of this is the teacher demonstrating what a cow on two legs looks like.) Since he knows he has 30 animals, he can know without counting that there are 60 legs on the ground. 14 legs unaccounted for, 2 each per cow, so there must be 7 cows, and 30-7=23 chickens.

That math seems a lot easier to do in your head! I'm not sure what the equations for it look like though... let me see...
c + m = 30
he quickly figured 2 * (c + m) = 60
but he knows 2c + 4m = 74
I guess he was able to tell that
(2c + 4m) - (2c + 2m) = 74 - 60
2m = 14
m = 7
c = 23
So that's a lot of steps that seemed easier to manage when you chunked things the right way. Maybe it's more like
Let a be the number of animals
t be the total number legs (2c + 4m), 74
let d be the number of legs down, 2*a, 60
d - t = 14
2m = 14 (I think that's the smart bit)
m = 7
c = a - m = 23
I'm not quite sure what the takeaway math lesson from this is... maybe it's the use of more variables when you're trying to do stuff in your head?

A dream of reconciliation w/ mo, turns out it's an anniversary. I've moved on but sometimes wish I'd more clearly moved on TO something/one
Why are the Onion headlines on the Slate sidebar all about homosexuality? Celebration of the CA ruling or what?

from the rise and decline of the blender of love

So I made a new Blender of Love digest yesterday... the ramble featured the following graph:
This is number of monthly submissions over time. While I'm grateful that I'm not having to read (well, skim) 500-600 pieces every month, I kind of wish it had stabilized at where it was a few years ago, because the numbers are starting to alarm me. The Blender has its stalwarts, but I don't really understand what happened to provoke either the rise or decline of it. I used to promote it in the 90s, some banner exchange programs, some plugs on like Usenet, but now I'm not sure what I'd do, other than possibly take a shot in the dark and advertise on Google AdWords.

So it's a bummer when a project of over a decade and a half seems in poor health!

I am proud of the look of my graph though, handrolled in Java processing.

http://strobist.blogspot.com/2009/03/building-better-mousetrap.html - the better moustrap, with strobe photography!
http://www.najle.com/idaft/ - great daft punks toy. Not quite as cool as http://limmy.com/playthings/xylophone/ but less obscene and abusive.

from javactionpacked


I was a few months behind in updating my java/javascript page. The choice of 50x50 icons is a challenge, but kind of a fun one... today's entry is just an exercise in seeing how various presentations of the links look - I don't know if it's any more or less compelling without the written description of what's going on. I took out 3 or 4 duplicate or non-java things to make a nice box, but that innumeracy thing comes up, where (to me at least) 49 things in a 7x7 box looks more like... I dunno, thirty-odd something.

We reason deeply when we forcibly feel.

Taking the train to DC. Did a lot of train travel in Japan, and now I'm jonesing for Calpis/Calpico, like the ultimate train drink from there.
Man, twitters full of MJ's death... I just want him to come back as a Thriller zombie. Also: Farrah and her friends in that swimsuit...

from gonzo: i thought you knew. i'm an artist


Mighty God King (a mighty fine blog, from coverage of various comics to talk about how actually the Canadian health system is really quite decent) has pre-emptively declared this best comic moment of the year. I'm inclined to agree...
Book idea: Kirk's Guide to Ineffective Childcare. Chapter 1: Consoling a hungry infant w/ full diaper.
We'd hoped for love of a different kind, love that knew and forgave our human frailty but did not miniaturize our grander ideas of ourselves. It sounded possible. If we didn't rush or grab, if we didn't panic, a love both challenging and nurturing might appear. If the person was imaginable, then the person could exist.
Michael Cunningham, "A Home at the End of the World"

from hey mister snowman

Before my trip to Portugal Amber and I played a round of Mr. Snowman at the Summer Shack near Alewife. While not as epic as the round with Miller, Kate and Tammy (I think crayons make it a bit tougher, plus it might be better as a four player game) Amber (on the offense) did quite well...

Clockwise from top we have her attacking polar bear being distracted by my delicous baby seal, her lead off sword being deflected by a cunning ninja, a water gun with the attached tank of water - that's being drained by a fat man out for tea. However, that fat man had a dodgy heart and thus the Mr. Snowman was again imperiled... until the paramedics from the 70s show "Emergency!" showed up to resuscitate him ("CLEAR!"). A more traditional gun had its bullets diverted via a powerful electromagnet. Then, we have a plow truck being stopped by a stake in the ground and chain. I'm not sure what the gentleman is doing to lift up the stake, but he (and his curious- err, tripod base-) is being...umm, licked by another guy as yet another distraction. Finally, we end with what was probably chronologically the first, the melting sun being blocked by clouds.

The weird thing is, they've managed to, in effect, put this game into videogame form. There's this AMAZING game for the Nintendo DS called Scribblenauts, with a vocabulary of over 20,000 nouns. Type in any of those nouns, and it magically appears, and can then be used to help solve various puzzles like escaping from zombies, knocking over bottles, or keeping food from ants without killing them (lest you upset the hippy).

Never thought there would be handheld technology to do that in a game!

Going back to more primitive toys, I rather liked Amber's little house made out of an obscure, flinty building toy called "keystones"...

One of the nice things about 24 Hour Comics Day is I often hear a bit of new (to me) music. Bummed this song isn't embeddable: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gw9wE1nutc4
I think Pooh and Gopher are the only straight ones in The Hundred Acre Wood.

from monkey strokes dove


from b3ta - I find it totally hypnotic

http://www.thebigmoney.com/slideshow/new-buck-starts-here - ideas for a US currency dacelift. Probably bad ideas, but fun to think about.

from the angriest animals on the internet

A long while back I got my team at work to continue a tradition of animal-based names, but with "Team Angry Manatee" (I had to use the projector and whiteboard and marker in cannons and lasers to show them just how fearsome an angry manatee could be.) FWIW this site is now the second biggest hit for "Angry Manatee", and it got me wondering... what's the angriest animal on the Internet? I.e. Which animal name gets the most Google hits, proportionally speaking, when you search on "animal name" rather than just "animal"?

The results were a bit surprising... out of the 150 or so names I got off a mildly adulterated Wikipedia List of Animal Names, "Angry Manatee"'s percentage was a lowly .013%, putting it about 2/3 of the way down the list.

So for your edification, I present:

Click to see the raw data!
For the record, the least angry animal was the lyrebird. The Internet had no hits for "angry lyrebird" - at least not until this page gets found by Google.

http://www.slate.com/id/2256250/ - USA "51+ Star Flag" toy shows likely patterns for most state counts from 1-100. Patriotic and geeky!
A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past, he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future.
Sidney J. Harris

With Netflix on Wii upstairs, in HD on Xbox on the basement projector, on laptop or in bed w/ iPad, we can watch Season 2 Office anywheres! (Or once they have the app for iPhone anyway)
http://comixed.com/2010/06/12/4-koma-comic-strip-captains-log/ - sorry, but this Star Trek TNG comic made me laugh and laugh... 2019 UPDATE at least I think it was this Pictures for Sad Children:

"Believe me, friendship lasts much longer than love."
"Yeah, but it ain't as much fun."
Sadie and Sgt. O'Hara, Miss Sadie Thompson

June Blender of Love is here!

from a man is stabbed by three spears, and he strikes each of the three men down before dying himself.

A man holds a large knife on a man, he kicks him into a deep well, and other men stab and slash several other men, who are also thrown into the well; we see blood spurt, and the point of a knife pokes through a man's back. A wolf with large fangs and claws and glowing red eyes snarls and circles around a boy, the boy walks into a cave, the wolf follows and lunges for the boy, but it is trapped in a narrow passageway and the boy stabs it through the mouth (we see the silhouette of the spear entering the wolf and we hear it whimper). A large army charges a smaller army, they clash, many men are run through by spears (blood spurts and we hear squishing), and the larger army is pushed back and slaughtered (one man is stabbed by three spears and the points push through his back, and one man's leg is hacked off at the knee and we see it separate). Another large army attacks a smaller army, many men on horseback are slashed and run through, horses are slashed and run through also, and blood sprays and spurts and we hear squishing and screaming. An enormous man is released from his chains and begins attacking many men (we hear crunching), and we see near strikes and slashes; the man throws an ax that nearly strikes a man in the head, and one man stabs him through the arm, the leg, then the eye, and finally cuts his head off (we see the head separate, fall to the ground and blood spurts from the neck). As punishment for losing, soldiers are placed on a stone and a man with crab claws for arms cuts their heads off (we hear a slash, blood splatters and we see a severed head floating in the air, with blood at the neck). A man on horseback cuts the head off another man (we see the head separate and see blood spurt from the neck). A man is stabbed by three spears, and he strikes each of the three men down before dying himself. Many wounded men writhing on the ground are stabbed with spears and killed. A man is struck through the chest by a spear and falls from his horse. Many arrows strike many men (we see bloody holes where they have been struck) and they fall to the ground). A woman stabs a man in the stomach, he lurches forward, and she pushes the knife deeper, twice (we hear crunching), and then withdraws it and the man falls to the floor. A man throws a spear that slashes another man's face (blood pours from the wound. A man with a large knife jumps toward a man who raises a whip, and cuts his arm off (we see the arm separate and blood splatters). A rhinoceros pierces several men and tosses them into the air, and a man throws a spear striking the rhino in the head and it falls dead on the ground. Many elephants rear and stomp near men, the elephants are frightened, they back up and fall off a high cliff. There are several dead men who have been speared up through their bodies and out the mouth. An enormous wall of bodies is built and pushed over and onto an approaching army. There are many dead bodies that have been used as "mortar" in a stone wall (we see blood on them). Many men come upon a city that has been attacked and has been left burning (we see a dead horse on the ground with large gaping wounds and flies buzzing around it) and a child approaches the men and tells them what happened; we see a large tree with the nude bodies of residents of the city attached to it with arrows. Flaming jars are thrown, they explode and send shrapnel everywhere (we see one man struck in the leg by a piece). Many men are pushed back to a cliff's edge and over it, falling onto rocks and the sea below. Many arrows are launched toward men who cover themselves with their shields. A man loses the use of his eye during a battle. A man grabs a woman by the throat and shoves her against a wall, he then turns her around, pushes her against a wall and prepares to have sex with her. A boy straddling another boy punches him repeatedly in the face (blood spurts, and the boy's face is bloody and bruised, as are the aggressor's hands). A boy is tied to a pole and lashed across the back repeatedly (he winces). A man whips men who carry him on a heavy platform. A man whips soldiers that are marching into battle. A man and a boy (they're father and son) fight with knives, the boy's knife is knocked out of his hands and the man strikes him in the face (we see his bloody lip); they then continue to fight. We see a boy being taken from his mother at the age of 7 (the mother struggles against two guards holding her, as does the boy). A woman slaps a man in the face. Thunder crashes and lightning flashes on a mound of skulls at the bottom of a cliff while a man examines a newborn for imperfections (we hear that imperfect infants are discarded). Men on horseback charge into a city, one horse rears and the rider holds a string of skulls (we are told they are the skulls of fallen kings). We see five men with badly scarred faces, and discolored and malformed teeth. A badly malformed man with a hunchback and scarring on his back and face is shown in several scenes. The mask of a man is knocked off and we see a grey-tinged face. Several people are shown with piercings on their heads and faces. Many ships are crushed during a heavy storm (we see the bodies of men sinking into the water and a few large wounds are visible). A man climbs up a shear rock wall. A man grieves over the death of his son. A man talks about a group of warriors who cannot be killer or defeated. We hear about boys being trained to be warriors by being placed in extreme circumstances and left to fight for survival. There are several allusions to the fact that once occupied the women of a country would be raped and enslaved and the children would be enslaved. A man is dismissive of a woman and questions her right to speak to men. A man threatens a man with death. A spear brushes past the cheek of a man. His piercings are seen flying away with a wound at the point of contact. Blood is scene on his face as well as on his hand [as he touches the wound]. As a man prepares to whip another person. His hand is cut off by a sword. We see the disembodied arm fly away with the lash still in its grip.

I saw this first on an iPhone app, and it lacked the paragraph breaks that are their on the website.

I just love the drama-free, factual tone of these -- no character names, just "a man" or "a woman", all in present tense, and after a while it starts to read like Apocalyptic prophecy. I was tempted to try and make my 24 Hour Comics Day out of this, but I thought I couldn't get it abstract enough having just watched the video.
I have to admit: in the chilly seasons, the zippered pockets of my hoodie become my man-purse. Big gob of keys, wallet, phone, sunglasses. That's a purse. Better than my pants pockets though, or at least less lumpy.
wow, the new Gap logo kinda sucks.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ElvesVersusDwarves - "Elves vs Dwarves" is a better metaphor than Scrum's "pigs vs chickens" for representing engineers (technological, down to earth dwarves; pigs 'with their bacon on the line') vs management (dreaming, elegant elves; chickens that are merely providing eggs.) Of course Pigs vs Chickens has always been a horrifying, inaccurate, and self-aggrandizing metaphor for software developers.

It's fun trying to find pretty, non-distracting iPhone wallpaper, but after a while of that going to flat black feels so soothing...
Holy cats, my todo is down to zero due/overdue. First time in a LONG while Appigo Todo ain't wearing its little number badge.

from 2020's ipad via 1995's wired

In October 1995, Wired maazine had an interesting special issue: "Wired Scenarios 1.01: the Future of the the Future." Besides the nightmarish semi-apocalyptic scenario "The Plague Years: 1996-2020" (with its (at times badly) photoshopped yet evocative images of a 747 being torched at Signapore airport (to try to contain the "Mao Flu"), corpses floating in a bay ala Katrina, and United Colors of Benetton ad sporting a rainbow of gas-mask/hazmat ensembles) and the real ads for Windows 95, the part that really stuck in my mind was "A Day in the Life", four two-page spreads with first person perspectives of people looking at October 19, 2020's news on their distinctly iPad-like tablet devices.

The article says "Industrial Design and Alias work by Lunar Design" and attributes photos to James Porto. I can't find too much information on this article, or in fact, the entire issue --it seems like the thing was made when Wired was still uneven about getting its material online. (and Amber's library resources came up blank as well.) The design work is pretty cool though -- with the exception of the "Porsche Cortex" they're not quite as grindingly minimalistic as the iPad. The Swatch one seems to be designed for bicycling, and the "SonyShack" device has a custom button for the wagering/betting that all the models support.

In trying to dig up information on this article I found a 1998 Digital Systems Research Center report on The Virtual Book, that reminded me the concept wasn't entirely new: the movie and novel 2001 had the "Newspad" (Commentators in February of 2010 loved pointing this "ripoff" out, making fun of the name 'iPad', and generally predicting it would be a big flop) and there was also Alan Kay's 1968 Dynabook concept - that link quotes an interesting exchange between Jobs and Kay.

http://twitpic.com/38t4pe "Multiplayer gaming in a nutshell." via

from had a little clothes horse named paul revere


Detail from a charmingly vandalized poster of John Singleton Copley's Paul Revere portrait at the MFA... the poster was at Park Street:

Man, would Sam Adams Brewery have been so quick to co-opt this image if they knew about his hidden life? (I hope so, it's pretty glam!)
Dream: our black cat Rex could transform himself into white rollerskates- but both he and skates were present? Hitting skates made eyes flash red. Amber told me to stop that.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-12503686 -- the UK on OK, one of my favorite bits of speech.

from "proof is the bottom line for everyone"

(1 comment)
proof that an elephant and a flea have the same weight:

e = weight of elephant
f = weight of flea
d = difference between e and f
e = f + d
Then we multiply both sides by (e-f):
e (e - f) = (f + d) (e - f)
Combine the left, multiply the right:
ee - ef = ef - ff + de - df
Subtract de from both sides:
ee - ef - de = ef - ff - df
Factor out the e from the right and the f on the left:
e (e - f - d) = f (e - f - d)
And we can then cancel (e - f - d) from both sides:
e = f

The weight of an elephant equals the weight of a flea, QED!
An oldie but a goodie, I forget the book I first found that in...

Math is the gateway drug to success.

The immortal SpindleyQ said this link was probably right up my alley http://probablyinteractive.com/url-hunter -- he's right! Very similar to game buttons (though not restricted to one button) and the use of a+O=@ was clever!
Apple walk-in repair is generally amazing, but apparently they have some issues if they have to ship it out for a part -- I handed them my Macbook last Wednesday, and just today it got to the repair center, despite the "Estimated Turn-Around Time: 5-7 days". Mysteries hold up wrt "Depot" whatever the hell that is. Grrr.

from eyemelt

Coworker sent this one around... one of the most amazing "looks like it's moving but it's not" I've ever seen. (I also like the Madelbrot Set shout out) Click it for the full size version, around 4 times as large and a lot more effective.

from the pirate kart

So a few days ago I put in one little entry (beebash) to the 2012 IGF Pirate Kart, 300-odd games by 100-odd game makers. (In retrospect I should have added a few more, since all the entries are getting at least a bit of attention.)

So the IGF is a big event for Indie Gamers. Glorious Trainwrecks has a big tradition of making Pirate Karts, just big honkin' compilations of small goofy games. It's fun watching the IGF fans try to figure out what to make of this super-inclusive project. Auntie Pixelante provides a bit of context, also I started a Glorious Trainwrecks discussion about the coverage its been getting.

I love the logo they made for this, which is just a take off of the IGF's "i" logo but with a goofy skull and crossbones.

from ghost town amusement park


--The closed Geauga Lake as seen from the air. Spooky how they left the space needle thing about 2/3 of the way up. Very melancholy for me to see this, since the layout of the place is still kind of ingrained in me. While the park was always in the shadow of Cedar Point, it was a ton of fun.

Across the lake was a Sea World, which I always thought was a bit weird a thing for Cleveland to have.

I found this video while following up on some video about Randall Park Mall -- for a short time it was the biggest mall in the world, it was the go-to spot when I was in high school, and now it's closed, closed, closed.

Sigh, Cleveland.
Instead of complaining that the rose bush is full of thorns, be happy the thorn bush has roses.
German Proverb

Apple's aesthetic dichotomy Would love to hear Jony Ives talk about Apple's "infantile kitsch" skeuomorphic UI. Does he dig it? Hate it?

from 12 sticks, 2 stones

11/11/11 11:11

AMERICANS. Today's date is 11/11/11, not 11/11/11.

11/11/11 is a poor man's March 14th, 2015.

If you think you can't beatbox, just say today's date in Spanish!

Stop saying "11/11/11" only happens once in a lifetime. EVERY date only happens once in a lifetime. That's how time works.

Meanwhile, on my UI dev blog

from mechs!

Via via sean ragan's art i like page, which states:
These delightful illustrations are redrawn from Larry S. Todd's story The Warbots appearing in the now-anachronistic Body Armor: 2000 collection edited by Joe Haldeman and published by Ace Science Fiction in 1986. Note the resemblance between Todd's early walkers and the armored fighting suits of Kow Yokoyama's Maschinen Krieger universe.
That page has a few more, and slightly larger images, but as a kid I loved these first three the most (after the mechs get all nano-tech looking and blobby.)

There's a lot of other interesting stuff on ragan's site.
http://mightygodking.com/index.php/2012/03/05/the-politics-of-star-wars/ - Star Wars' roots in Nixon and Vietnam. (And how Americans always think they're the good guys.)
Your solemn ass from the cow counties, who don't know the Constitution from the Lord's Prayer [...]
Mark Twain, "Letters from Hawaii"

Blender of Love Digest

from winnah winnah chicken dinnah!


The trophy I won as the captaoin of the "People's Choice" team "Team Typing + Textbook Topic Targetting" at my company's 2 1/2 day hackathon, "Alleyoop Ignite"

For event T-shirts, Lauren made an awesome design:
Seriously, best corprorate shwag design ever.

from so tense

From Garrison Keillor's new Guy Noir novel The Straight Skinny:

As I got skinnier, I got great pleasure out of swanning through a crowded room and leaning against a pillar or abutment and striking an elegant pose and watching women fling themselves at me like moths on a lightbulb. On May Day, a child of twenty-one named Moxie hit on me in the Brew Ha Ha. She was plump, like a popover, and wore daisies in her hair and a smock that said Color Me Happy, and she said, "I'm sitting over there and I'm going, like, Who is that totally hot guy? And I'm, like, Do I dare walk over and talk to him? And I'm going, No way. And then I'm going, like, Why not. You look hot. Like, how old are you?"

"Darling child, if you and I were to talk and my shoulder brushed your shoulder, we'd be caught in a rushing torrent of ravenous passion and down the white-frothed spillway and over the roaring cataract of romance and into a whirling vortex of desire--kissing, caressing, clutching, grabbing, thrusting, crying out with hunger and delight-- and, beautiful as our intentions might be, it simply wouldn't work and here's why--I live in many different verb tenses, such as the imperfect indicative, the past imperfect, and the subjunctive, and you, sweetheart, only in the present indicative. I mean, you're going, like, Who is that guy? but I have gone or might have gone or will have gone, but you just pretty much keep going, and someday you may look back and wonder where I went. And I'll be, like, not there."

She gave me a triumphal smile. "I had been hoping you could come to my apartment and we might have come to know each other better," she said, a predicate that almost stole my heart away.

Love it. Despite the English major, I don't remember ever having had learned about the various tenses, so being able to identify them still carries magic for me. I am very fond of using the present tense in storytelling, however, because it makes things so much more immediate. (Similarly, I don't mind the use of 'like' as a framing device, in lieu of 'said', since it implies the quote that follows will be acted out, rather than merely recited.)
Nothing human disgusts me, Mr. Shannon, unless it's unkind, violent.
Hannah Jelkes in "Night of the Iguana"

Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important.
Natalie Goldberg

I feel like a lot of common game design patterns today were originally invented as monetization tools for arcade games. We got used to them.

from obama reads "dreams from my father"

Regretsy posted some clips of Obama reading his own book, and taking the voices of various characters from his life... cussing hilarity ensues.
"Way too complicated."
"Buy your own damn fries."
"There are white folks..."
"Sure you can have my number baby!"
"Got nothing on me..."

In posting these clips, I also made up the alienbill soundboard with these clips and a bunch of other .wavs I grabbed in the mid-90s. Some of the Simpsons ones are pretty funny, and a lot are at least "potentially useful" in office situations, if you're in that kind of office.
RUIN every Knock Knock joke by saying 'It's open!'

found online

http://www.cartoonstudies.org/index.php/lifeinhell/ - Matt Groenig "Life in Hell" tribute, worth downloading PDF, in a hurry go to Slate for a sampling

buscemi eyes at work

from my uncle made this

While helping clean out my Uncle's PC etc workspace (not sure how many copies of Win98 and 3.5 disks one man could need... I found this, Patent 3,582,675.

I admit these days I'm kinda skeptical about all patents, but this feels like it's from a time when patents still mattered.

from June 4, 2013


A form of digital signage new to me, on NJ Transit-- dig the font!

from September 23, 2013

"Truly [the small-town residents] were the salt of the earth."
"And why does one salt the earth? To keep anything new from growing."

By James Harvey

from tron

In the mid-to-late 90s, back when "Buck-A-Book" roamed the earth, I found an odd relic of the 80s, "How to Win at Video Games", "By the Editors of Consumer Guide". (I assume some kind of competitor to Consumer Reports). What makes it great is that each game gets its own individual artistic treatment, usually going pretty far afield from the original game art (or even the stuff on the sides of arcade cabinet) and with heavy use of collage, like with this rider and mount from Joust:

Anyway, when I hosted indie gaming hero Anna Anthropy, she agreed to host this thing at the annarchive (which has other great examples of "off spec" video game art from when they were just games, not "retro" games. I scanned in the thing, and you can see the results under "Guides/Hints" on the front page.

Anyway, my favorite page by far was the one for the game Tron where they put the game of the game with a cool glowing CRT effect:

Made up of hundreds of little tanks:

Zoom. Enhance.

That's so great. I wonder how they made those? Did they make up a computer program? Or somehow fake the glow-y, pixel-y look?
REMINDER: The GOP considers funding the government and not destroying the economy a concession. http://bit.ly/GJVn8g

Hey Tantrum Party Republicans and Libertarians in general... THIS IS WHY WE HAVE A GOVERNMENT: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/10/shutdown-salmonella/
You can not trust business to regulate themselves, and many people will suffer before the wheels of the market weed it out, assuming it can at all.
Sometimes I want to get a tattoo on my forearm that says "What the Universe Owes You: 0" so I can look at it when I'm ready to rage against the (malfunctioning, or incompetently designed) machine.

from December 23, 2013


advent day 23

from February 6, 2014

See you at the barricades, comrade.
Jack Ross in Robert Heinlein's "A Bathroom of Her Own".
I'm trying to find more about the origin of the phrase-- I get the general idea, but unsure of the true context.
Creationism considered Stupid-but-Harmless I think the article is partially right that, by itself, Creationism is misguided by harmless. The real problem is the way it represents bowing to the idea that faith is more important than skepticism, that it's ok to cling to some ideas no matter WHAT the facts are.

Yes, skeptics still tend to have "faith" in the current findings of science, but that's because they know science is a process of finding stuff out, that it holds on to ideas only as tightly as it seems unlikely new facts are going to come along and knock those ideas out. But sometimes those new facts come along, and the body of people who "believe" in science changes its views about the universe accordingly.

Don't trust any system of knowledge that claims to have all the Answers, because the best Answers are the ones that raise new Questions.
I love this set of ASCII-ish graphics from the Sharp MZ-700 computer, via text-mode. Love all the little game possibilities invoked.

from slipping the surly bonds of earth

Saturday i went on a Zero G Flight -- parabolic flights over the ocean in order to get legitimate doses of zero gravity.

This is the modified 727 they use... seats are removed from everything but the back, and the rest is lined with mats, kind of like the wrestling room in gym class.

The first few arcs are acclimating Mars then Lunar low gravity. You can do one-armed or one fingered pushups with ease.

You might notice the socks. They break the group of 30 or so into 3 groups: Gold, Silver, and Blue. (I was on Team Blue.)

Finally: Zero-G!

I was clearly very proud of my Blue Lego Astronaut T-shirt...

Each arc only last 15-30 seconds, and there are about 15 of them in all.

This kind of thing is also called "The Vomit Comet", though one of the reasons they make it a relatively short trip is so that no one gets sick.

Eventually, you come down with a bit of a thump.. (they yell "feet down, leveling out" or some such, and you have to quickly get your feet oriented correctly.)



They also have each team do a "superman" group shot, I made the series of photos into a GIF...

So overall, it was an exhilarating and amazing time. To be completely honest, If "space travel" wasn't on my bucket list (my inner child thought he was going to see casual space travel, but this plus "Gravity in IMAX 3D" is gonna have to suffice) it might not be quite worth the sorta of exorbitant cost, but still, recommended if you got the cash and the dream!

UPDATE: A Video:
My friend David H on FB said "dude! That is awesome. Describe what it felt like?"
My answer was:
"it's... short! And intense. And fun and disorienting. Suddenly the world of gravity you've known is gone, and you can push and shove and every direction is kind of like every other direction and people in jumpsuits are laughing and yelling and flying every which way and jostling and you can grab a bouncy wall and go into a fun spin like a ice skater and pull your arms in and go faster and try to find a grip again and then look for the little water blob or candy the your group leader released and then "FEET DOWN! LEVELING OUT!" and you have just a second before you come down to the floor with a thump and you lie down to wait for the heavy gravity, focus on a point on the ceiling to help prevent motion sickness, and then a minute later you do it all again...."

from saul to rebecca, from the illuminatus! trilogy

This passage has been rattling around my brain lately, though its been a few years since I've read the book. This bit is a great explication about sex, set in an enthusiastic bit of action. Unfortunately I'd say some parts are maybe a bit racist or otherwise distasteful, but in the balance I think the general terrificness of the passage outweighs the negatives.

You see, darling, it all revolves around sex, but not in the sense that Freud thought. Freud never understood sex. Hardly anybody understands sex, in fact, except a few poets here and there. Any scientist who starts to get an inkling keeps his mouth shut because he knows he'd be drummed out of the profession if he said what he knew. Here, I'll help you unhook that. What we're feeling now is supposed to be tension, and what we'll feel after orgasm is supposed to be relaxation. Oh, they're so pretty. Yes, I know I always say that. But they are pretty. Pretty, pretty, pretty. Mmmm. Mmmm. Oh, yes, yes. Just hold it like that a moment. Yes. Tension? Lord, yes that's what I mean. How can this be tension? What's it got in common with worry or anxiety or anything else we call tension? It's a strain, but not a tension. It's a drive to break out, and a tension is a drive to hold in. Those are the two polarities. Oh, stop for a minute. Let me do this. You like that? Oh, darling, yes, darling, I like it, too. It makes me happy to make you happy. You see, we're trying to break through our skins into each other. We're trying to break the walls, walls, walls. Yes, Yes. Break the walls. Tension is trying to hold up the walls, to keep the outside from getting in. It's the opposite. Oh, Rebecca. Let me kiss them again. They're so pretty. Pretty pretty titties. Mmm, Mmm. Pretty. And so big and round. Oh, you've got two hard-ons and I've only got one. And this, this, ah, you like it, don't you, that's three hard-ons. You want me to take my finger away and kiss it? Oh, darling, pretty belly, pretty. Mmm. Mmm. Darling, Mmm. MMMMM. Mmm. Lord, Lord. You never came so fast before, oh, I love you. Are you happy? I'm so happy. That's right, just for a minute. Oh, God, I love watching you do that. I love to see it go into your mouth. Lord, God, Rebecca, I love it. Yes, now I'll put him in. Little Saul, there, coming up inside you, there. Does little Rebecca like him? I know, I know. They love each other, don't they? The way we love each other. She's so warm, she welcomes him so nicely. You're inside me, too. That's what I'm trying to say. My field. You're inside my field, just like I'm inside yours. It's the fields, not the physical act. That's what people are afraid of. That's why they're tense during sex. They're afraid of letting the fields merge. It's a unifying of the forces. God, I can't keep talking. Well, if we slow way down, yes, this is nicer, isn't it? That's why it's so fast for most people. They rush, complete the physical act, before the fields are charged. They never experience the fields. They think it's poetry, fiction, when somebody who's had it describes it. One scientist knew. He died in prison. I'll tell you about him later. It's the big taboo, the one all the others grow out of. It isn't sex itself they're trying to stop. That's too strong, they can't stop it. It's this. Darling, yes. This. The unifying. It happens at death, but they try to steal it even then. They've taken it out of sex. That's why the fantasies. And the promiscuity. The search. Blacks, homosexuality, our parents, people we know we hate, Saint Bernards. Everything. It's not neuroses or perversion. It's a search. A desperate search. Everybody wants sex with an enemy. Hate mobilizes the field, too, you see. And hate. Is safer. Safer than love. Love too dangerous. Lord, Lord, I love you. I love you. Let me more. Get the weight on my elbows, hold your ass with my hands. Yes. Poetry isn't poetry. I mean it doesn't lie. It's true when I say I worship you. Can't say it outside bed. Can only say love then, usually. Worship too scary. Some people can't even say love in bed. Searching, partner to partner. Never able to say love. Never able to feel it. Under control. They can't let us learn, or the game is up. Their name? They got a million names. Monopolize it. Keep it to themselves. They had to stamp it out in the rest of us, to control. To control us. Drove it underground, into background noise. Mustn't break through. That's how. How it happened. Darling. First they repressed telepathy, then sex. That's why schizos. Darling. Why schizos break into crazy sex things first. Why homosexuals dig the occult. Break one taboo, come close to the next. Finally break the wall entirely. Get through. Like we get through, together. They can't have that. Got to keep up apart. Schisms. Always splitting and schisms. White against black, men against women, all the way down the line. Keep us apart. Don't let us merge. Make sex a dirty joke. A few more minutes. A few more. My tongue in your ear. Oh, God. Soon. So fast. A miracle. Whole society set up to prevent this. To destroy love. Oh, I do love you. Worship you. Adore you. Rebecca. Beautiful, beautiful. Rebecca. They don't want us to. Unify. The. Forces. Rebecca. Rebecca. Rebecca.

Midweek, every 2-3 weeks, MBTA Alewife @DunkinDonuts runs out of large straws. You'd think that'd be a pretty easy logistical fix, eh?
"But only the Christian civilization has scored a triumph to be proud of. Two or three centuries from now it will be recognized that all the competent killers are Christians; then the pagan world will go to school to the Christian-- not to acquire his religion, but his guns. "
Mark Twain, "The Mysterious Stranger"
I really enjoyed this book, even if there was some question about it being hacked/faked by later editors. The Devil Goes Down to 1600s Germany, and the result works on so many levels; humanist to its core, implicit digression into the implausibility of true free will in a "foreseeable" Universe of cause and effect, even as pure strategy its take on what omnipotence and pure amorality might look like to us mere puny humans is way ahead of its time.
this weekend I saw some of the future of the webz let me show you them

from october 2014 new song playlist

In terms of important music videos this month, I think an honorable mention goes to Bootsy's Basic Funk Formula tutorial, it cemented and affirmed ideas I had been stirring up about what music appeals to me, and what just won't, no matter how much I think I "should" like it:
ONE two three four...

and you hit on the one ya know? ONE -- -- -- ONE.

And then you would try to fit your different notes, what you felt, in between that-- And that's the funk.

And you can change that! It's however you feel, but you just have to fit it between that little space that you got, which is ONE, two three four -- ONE two three four... ONE, two three four. And then you go back to your funk!

Here you go! And then you want to break it down. You got your basic funk formula there. You can do anything you want to do with it! Ya know?

Bootsy Collins
OK, on to the list, in super-rough descending order of awesomeness.
Jeez, was wondering why I am up at six. Having devices that are better at remembering the time change than I am is weird. Wish we had daylight savings all year long- Boston is too easterly to have Standard Time make sense.
100 Pumpkins vs a Snowblower At first I thought this was, like, a horror film for pumpkins. But then I remembered what macabre things are done to them, by individuals but on a semi-industrial scale, to make Jack-O-Lanterns-- every fall is a horror movie for them!
If the election goes as badly for the democrats as some fear, I'm kind of hoping to draw a metaphor with climate change; this winter's gonna suck, but that doesn't mean the climate isn't getting warmer. (I realize I just compared the democrats to global warming, but I mean in a good way)

from November 6, 2014

Detail from a drawing of Kowloon Walled City, via. More info here

Violence Is Currency: A Pacifist Ex-Con's Guide To Prison Weaponry - yikes

from mm mmm time for pi!

3/14/15 9:26....

from August 16, 2015


from the interpretive screenshots of "invasion of the space invaders"

Martin Amis is an English novelist. One of the very strangest bits of his career, the most out of character for him as an author, was a guide to video games (with a weird, jaded "streetwise" view of culture around the arcades, then in its prime) called Invasion of the Space Invaders. The author generally won't talk about the book, and as The Million's 2012 review of it quotes Sam Leith:
Anything a writer disowns is of interest, particularly if it’s a frivolous thing and particularly if, like Amis, you take seriousness seriously.
On a whim I bought a copy of this hard to find book (I think I paid a bit over $100 for it a few years ago; currently the one copy listed on Amazon is going for north of $500) Recently I undid the binding of my copy and scanned it in and sent it to Anna Anthropy for Annarchive, her repository of old shareware and other video game historical artifacts- you can download the full copy there, and it's kind of an amazing piece, though as Anna points out full of casual homophobia, racism, and a surprising amount of references to child prostitution.

But there's also overwrought gameplay advice prose like this for Pac-Man:
Do I take risks in order to gobble up the fruit symbol in the middle of the screen? I do not, and neither should you. Like the fat and harmless saucer in Missile Command (q.v.), the fruit symbol is there simply to tempt you into hubristic sorties. Bag it
PacMan player, be not proud, nor too macho, and you will prosper on the dotted screen.
There was another great quote:
"That seems to be the psychology behind Atari. You can never win, and you always can get better."
Major Robinson on Battlezone et al in Martin Amis' "Invasion of the Space Invaders
Besides the prose (and referring to Steve Jobs as "Atari's Steve Jobs") what I find most striking about the book are the obviously reconstructed screenshots. I guess in an era where video games were tough to photograph (presumably in smoky arcades with cranky owners) it made sense to hire graphic artists to recreate the shots... sometimes that can be done for artistic effect (like all those Activision boxart screenshots) but my feeling is these were made to look relatively authentic (and I left out a few actual screenshots they included, like for Frogger and Turbo.) I do wonder what technique, presumably analog, was used to get the pixel effect in all of the screenshots.


from November 14, 2015

As Trd Cruz imitates Billy Crystal, the more he seems like a horrible Nathan Lane.
I'm up to 1991 in http://gazettegalore.blogspot.com/ my blog going through all the games in COMPUTE!'s Gazette. The magazine is on the downswing (the C64 is almost ten years old at this point, and in 1991 currently Gazette is just a supplement in the parent magazine, before becoming a disk only magazine for a few years) but they've introduced a "Gazette Gallery" of user-contributed art every month. Anyway I liked Vincent D. Zahnle's "Croc".

--Joan Sfar (Charlie Hebdo cartoonist)

from March 6, 2016

I get about a year of use out of custom "Mighty Wallets" by Dinomighty - the material holds up, but the design gets too worn away. So, time for a new wallet, based on two Alien Bill works I commissioned from James Harvey over the years...

blender of love