June 16, 2021

I'm very set in my musical ways: I like purchasing single mp3s (or the equivalent), and then resorting to youtube rips if I have no other option. I've rated all my music ever since my iPod only had room for "3 stars and up", and then have good, better, best (3+ stars, 4+, and 5, respectively) smart playlists, and then try to listen to the "good" playlist (in reverse chronological order) daily, so I form a connection with the music. Anyway, Apple has a curious algorithm for assembling a thumbnail for a playlist, and mine has been consistent for a long while:

I think it's picking "A,B,C,D" so in my case, Ani "Buildings + Bridges" DiFranco, BPA ("Toe Jam" with David Byrne - fun sort of NSFW video for that), CAKE ("The Distance" was my senior solo), and Dar "Cool As I Am" Williams.

June 16, 2020

Just added a cheap monitor for use in portrait mode, for background stuff. Some might say "but six screens? isn't that too many?" To which I say... too many? or JUST ENOUGH. (laptop for music and quick social media diversions, phone, 3 screens for work, and an iPad for a todo list... also as a 4th screen w/ a stylus to act as a tablet.)

Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson ain't got nuthin' on me.
(As I actually go to use this setup more... I think I can go back to using my phone for music and leave the other laptop aside... a little clear deskspace is nice to have. Glad I kept my phone cradle that has lightning + aux passthrough)
The seed must grow regardless of the fact that it's planted in stone.
Tupac Shakur

Interesting that some universities are at least suspending SAT/ACT test requirements. Obviously a pragmatic move when there might not be places to actually take the test, but I wonder if it bodes poorly for the test in the long run?

I came from a well supported background (in terms of family and a public high school good high level classes) but nothing elite, and the test felt like a bit of an equalizer - even if now I understand I'm more a fast thinker than a smart one, and that there are all sorts of other biases that can be depressing the score for other folks.
Heh. Just noticed the React tutorial is the same programming task I gave myself as a 9 or 10 year old kid: a 2-player only Tic Tac Toe game. (Ok, no, this is not demonstrably better than a piece of paper, that's not the point!) What's really striking for me is that it uses the same method of determining if there's a winner that I came up with as a kid - just see if any of the 8 ways of winning are filled with all "X"s or all "O"s. (I remember my Aunt saying she was impressed that I came up with that when I geekily showed off the method to her...)

enamored of equality

June 16, 2019
On FB a friend, one I respect greatly despite, or because of, long term political and artistic differences, but usually handled collegially, posted
Americans are so enamored of equality that they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom
Alexis de Tocqueville
My response was this:
So, this is half true in the way Tocqueville probably means, but the other half is - man, that is just basic human psychology. People would rather be the slightly richer person in their poor peer group than the poorest of a somewhat more well-off cohort. I think it's because, when everyone is poor, it feels like that is just the way the world is, you know? Everyone is in more or less the same boat, but maybe you did better or worse than your shmuck neighbors - that's where the competition is, always local. If everyone were "equal in slavery", then freedom would be largely unknown and almost unimaginable.

Personally the american level-seeking characteristic I'm more concerned with these days is smarts; some Americans are so convinced of their own truthy gut intuition that they refuse to recognize that smarts and expertise actually exists; that some problems take a lot of study and though - sometimes pursuing their own specialized glossary or vocabulary so that to the outsider, it's almost impossible to tell if it's just some weird, out of touch intellectual circle jerk or more hard won esoteric knowledge. This point is why I was rather disdainful of that Intellectual Yet Idiot post you linked to here.
My favorite image from a remarkable The Public Domain Review page, X is for - what did alphabet books do before X-Rays and Xylophones were in the zeitgeist?

(The site has the full content of Charles H. Bennett's 1855 Beasts, birds and fishes : an alphabet for boys & girls - the n-word makes an unfortunate appearance as a music descriptor, only somewhat mitigated by isolating it in quote marks.)

June 16, 2018

This got the cartoonist fired. Share it.

June 16, 2017

Diane sent me this brilliant book by one her neighbors: Bull by David Elliott- it's billed a "novel" but its form is a series of poems retelling the myth of the Minotaur, and would easily make a great dramatic reading, since each speaker has a distinct voice and meter. Great stuff that captures both the humanity and the grandeur of the old myths.

June 16, 2016

Man, the tech behind why you can't photocopy money is some next-level Illuminati-shiznit. Here's this weird advanced tech in like every copier and printer and many popular image programs that has veto power over what you do/edit, and no one knows much about it at all, or how it works.
I've been dialoging with some gunfans on FB. I feel a lot of groupthink and tribalism on both sides. The gunfans say gun control supporters have pretty shallow understanding of the technical issues and of the legitimate uses of this kind of weapon, the gun control supporters say that NRA has the nation in a stranglehold and no limits, no matter how common sensical, will be allowed to subvert this Cult of Gun thats demanded so many sacrifices over the past few decade.

But on both sides, I'm aware of tremendous social pressure to conform to the assumptions the group makes. And in issues of politics, too. (That said, I don't think there's a true symmetry; there are some neurological connotations behind the left/right split, specifically about disgust, along with a general concept like the circle of empathy and I think the left tends to have the high ground there.)

Back to guns: This article by an AR-15 owner seems to have a nice blended approach (TL;DR: it's the capacity stupid, limiting clips to 10 rounds might get a good balance in public safety and individual utility)
I just googled the PLU code number to tell me this is a peach (and not like a nectarine or something) ‪#‎nerdlife‬

Honestly I know there's a certain level of Trump fan who will like this and not get (or gloss over) the apocalyptic aspect.

June 16, 2015

I was thinking about this snippet some African-American kids would sing around my high school gym class: "I don't care what the White Man say, Santa Claus is a Black Man"

I'm realizing now for the first time that that line may have influenced my fall from faith a few years after I first heard it: the socially-constructed aspect of religion felt incompatible with the sense of supernatural cause-and-effect that I felt was necessary for it being The Truth, and having my attention drawn to the assumptions I had been fed about Santa later had an echo in how I felt about a world that had so many mutually incompatible religions in it.

Anyway, I've had only mixed results in finding the source of what the kids in my high school were singing. By far, the closest match in sound is this clip of Freddy "Boom Boom" Washington sounding calypso on Welcome Back Kotter. If there's a source the character is quoting... I don't think it's this parody of I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. It might be this song, but what my schoolmates were singing was definitely closer to the Kotter version.

June 16, 2014

It's <year>--I want my jetpack [and also my free medical care covering all my jetpack-related injuries]!'

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/red_velvet_mite - Kind of a gross and raunchy and insect-y metaphor for something I know a little too well.


June 16, 2013
Yesterday I was dabbling in two different art media... drawing (where the expected model didn't show, so we had a very stocky guy come in as a late replacement) and Processing, where I made Pinworms -- a not very interesting interactive toy.

Man, it was so much tougher to draw this guy than the model last week but I kind of like how my last one came out-- I worry it's a little too cartoonish however.


June 16, 2012

manyinvaders- source
A simple (but fun (to me)) invaders game for the 5th Anniversary Klik of the Month Klub. Invader bodies are toxic whether or alive or dead! How far can you get?

kissing riot

June 16, 2011

--Now that's how to celebrate a riot... NPR has more info
I like to read [the Boston Metro] if other people are reading it, but I don't like to touch it.
Amber on the T this morning

star warsanov vs matrixski

June 16, 2010

--via Bill the Splut-- great little "vs." parody animtions, click on this one to go to its youtube page, there's a ton of 'em.

I was indifferent about the Sound FX style but the way they do the theme music of stuff is just great.
"cherry mart" is a little Japanese grocery on newbury st, good for rice balls and calpico! just heard about and need to try "H-Mart"

Boylston street is *thick* with Children International- I had at least 7 approaches in 3 blocks. "Are you friendly?" is the line they seem to like-- "Yes but I hate kids" is the response I didn't quite have the courage to give.
http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/monologues/15comicsans.html - Comic Sans Rants Back
I was wrong about Apple iPad - the iPad as something that aids immersion, focus, concentration- an anti-"The Shallows" the gadget...
iPad's beauty might be that it's NOT multitasking; you open the app, and the glass plate is aking to a new device, helping you sink into it.
Windows was first a way of running multiple DOS apps at once, and it shows. Mac... it's still not crazy about "full screen mode" even.
Cicero wrote "A room without books is like a body without a soul"...
and those don't even include Amber's, plus there's another bookcase to the left

and I could probably use one more...


June 16, 2009

--Over the years I've grown more fond of the Pop originals and the "Polka Parties" than the Parodies, but for old time sake... WEIRD AL! (doing "Craigslist")

masters of my domain

June 16, 2008
Was chatting with MELAS (My Ever-Lovin' Aunt Susan) last night and an idea came up, not a new idea, but kind of a new context: should I go ahead and seek a Master's degree?

Old contexts would have included (A) a general nudge from the family and its respect for education as something worthwhile, almost for its own sake and (B) something that would make for a more solid résumé and generally crank up my earning potential. But (A) wouldn't really be enough by itself, and I've interviewed enough well-degreed folks who seemed to be complete programming imbeciles that I don't put a lot of stock in (B).

So the new context is opening up the possibility of teaching, like maybe at a small college or as an online instructor. MELAS feels this has worked well for her... the money isn't fantastic, but she finds the traditional 9-month Academic year to be very pleasant, and the work can be rewarding, and generally not overly strenuous.

When I went to college I had the idea of training to be an English Teacher -- Tufts had both a top-notch English program and a great Education program, but then as computers and not English seemed to be academic forté I made my "other major" Computer Science instead of teaching.

(I felt guilty about that for a while, though my beloved high school English teacher Mrs. McLaughlin consoled me by pointing out that I might not be a great teacher because I might be impatient with students who are slower to pick something up than I feel I would have. So that sounds a note of caution for my current thoughts.)

To be clear, my current debate is "shall I get a Masters" (and have more career options) and not "should I change careers"... having drifted from one (generally pretty well-paying) job to another, and not being driven to corporate leadership, I don't have a ton of options stretched in front of me.

One issue is with Computer Science: there are kind of two camps in it as an Academic pursuit, and there's a lot of tension. The first camp sees it as a part of Mathematics, and is very much about the theory and the beauty of computation. The second camp tends to be more Engineering in its outlook, and see it as more of an applied art, maybe even a bit of a craft. People in the former see the latter as wanting to make trade schools, people in the latter see the former as having their heads in the clouds.

I'm in the latter camp, no question. I find that computer programming is a lovely way of making new things. So that might influence my decision of school and program.

I have no idea how tough it is to get into programs (actually I heard there's an inverse relationship between the health of the job market and the number of people going into school.) I graduated Summa (thanks to grade inflation and some blatant begging) and with a 4.0 in my major, and I generally have done well on bubble-type tests.

Thoughts of places to go would be Northeastern, a decent school that I think is oriented towards careers and people who are studying while working and is about 3 or 4 blocks from where I live, and my alma mater Tufts which is pretty prestigious and I know some folks.

The idea of being a teacher is a little daunting, of course. Actually I wonder if being as public as I have been on this site and other places would be a drawback? It's easy to forget teachers are people too. But I think I'm good at breaking down problems into explainable parts, and maybe I could learn to fake the gravitas required...

As always I welcome thoughts and feedback!

(Random followup: decided to click around Northeastern's website a little... I realized that there Digital Media sounds a lot more compelling to me (after, you know, 20 seconds of poking around their webpage) than traditional Computer Science, a way out of the whole "CS is math"/"CS is craft" dilemna. Conversely, I don't know if that would mess up the teaching idea.)

Link of the Moment
Cute Flash Animation vs Animator movie, kind of in the spirit of Stick Figure Death Theater. (via Bill the Splut)
Yeah, I'm a homer who doesn't know basketball, but the hell is up with these refs?
pentomino "we pass the time to forget how time passes" - Amelie. A little bit less morbid!
WOW, did I really just find myself saying 'Oh look, another jerk with an iPhone'?
MELAS and I agree: time spent just fiddling around expands to fit the shape of its container.
Note to self: mojitos: tasty (even when just premix :-( ) but not a boon to productivity in the evening.


June 16, 2007
Been working in Rockport and only barely got this entry in! (Ahh, dialup via modem... brings back memories, though not as much as going straight to a 2400 baud 80x24 terminal screen would...)

I know, heaven forfend I miss a day, especially when I don't have much to say...

But I will take a moment to put in a good word for the Roll-O-Matic Sponge Roller Mop. Besides having a nifty name, it really does work a treat. EvilB and I are taking on a nasty cleaning task, swabbing the ceiling of this one nicotine-stained room with water and cleaning fluid, and this thing works wonders at getting the water back up off the floor, with a legitimately clever squeeze mechanism. Yay for simple, well-designed technology. (You can tell I just read "One Good Turn", the history of the screw and screwdriver... we take so much precision manufacture for granted!)

i just love stuff

June 16, 2006
Just because I love showering my readers with the oddball minutiae of my life, two mediocre photos of two things I find interesting.
On the left is a "putt returner" that we have in the office: a dustpan-ish device shaped to guide a golfball into the kickback mechanism in the center, allowing the not-so-busy executive to practice his putting without stooping over. But two days ago I transformed this device into the ANNOYATRON 5000 by the simple expedient of placing it directly against a wall. A golfball placed in the pan would repeatedly ricochet with a series of satisfying thunks until finally the ball would get diverted (sometimes by pushing the pan back away from the wall with the force of the rebound.)

The idea of making a machine recursive so that it could play itself pleases me. It was also fun to see how many consecutive ricochets I could get.

On the right is a MAC Sports "Anti-Gravity Chair". (It's a little more stable than it looks there, I didn't set it up properly for the photo.) I saw it, or something just like it, in a Brookstone but when I went back to consider purchasing one it was gone. It reappeared at the local CVS, however, and while for a time I balked at paying $60 for a piece of outdoor furniture when I didn't really have a chunk of outdoors to want to put it in, today I splurged and then reclined in it while reading a Superman graphics novel on the concrete landing in front of my apartment building.

It might be the most comfortable piece of furniture I own right now, right up there with other people's Adirondack Chairs that I've so admired in the past. I suspect it might be my best bet for sleeping in if/when my back goes funny again.

This is isn't the first time I've considered using outdoor furniture indoors... one unrealized dream in my old house was to use a corner of its massive "Great Room" to harbor one of those Brookstone hammocks.

Link on the Moment
Thanks Miller for introducing me to Stuff On My Cat. It's a website with tons of user-submitted photos of cats. With stuff on them.

Those appear to be some very patient and tolerant cats.

Feature of the Moment
1up.com on the origins of some common game mechanics... I always dig historical views like this. Reminds me that I want to gather some people and 2 extra GBAs for some Zelda: Four Swords one of these days...

more laffy, less taffy!

June 16, 2005
I've been getting into "Laffy Taffy" lately, it's a tasty candy that comes with two small riddles on each wrapper (and that tends to leave your tongue in some amazing shades). The jokes are pretty hit-or-miss. Generally miss. One I did like was "When is a car not a car? When it turns into a driveway", although I think that it was mostly nostalgia for the Princess Diana one-liner "Did you hear about the princess who stayed out past midnight and turned into a pillar?" which is both wonderfully macabre, as well as literate, referencing both Cinderella and the Book of Genesis. Then of course are some that sort of play with the form: "Why did the girl run into the door? She forgot to open it."

I was kind of offended by the illogic of one, however: "Why is a baker mean? Because he beats the bread." First off, it might be a little funny if "beating the bread" was actually a common expression. (Hm, it sounds kind of like an euphemism as it is...not appropriate for a product aimed at kids!) Second, it seems to be mixing up cause-and-effect about the mean-ness of the baker...he beats the bread because he's mean, not the other way around. Though maybe for the sake brevity the joke is a bit loose with its grammar, and it should be "How do you know a baker is mean?"

UPDATE: Catherine pointed out that bakers are known for beating dough, not bread, which I meant to point out. But tha reminds me, this seems like the bastardization of a much better joke, Why Do Bakers Rob Banks? Because they knead the dough. Now THAT joke is reasonably clever.

Hmm. "Laffy Taffy" is a "Willy Wonka" product...it's an interesting idea, a real brand having its roots in fiction. (In this case, the book and then the movie.) I guess you see the same thing happening with Harry Potter spinoffs, like "Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans". It seems like something must surely be lacking when superlative fictional products are being translated into the real world. Anyway, can anyone think of other examples of fictional brands brought to life? (Saying "brands" leaves out some obvious prop-knockoffs, like fake Light Sabres from Star Wars...) I guess there is "US Robotics" -- I don't know if they were influenced by Asimov's "US Robotics and Mechanical Men". There's another example that's on the tip of my tongue, a recent tech company, but I can't quite place it.

lessons in gravity

June 16, 2004
Anecdote and Esay of the Moment
My earliest memory is of water. I was submerged in it. I had stepped off a dock into Clark Lake. Before my Aunt Rui jumped in after me, I had time to hit bottom- about three feet down- and look around. A bubble formed around my head and I could breathe in it. I was two and a half. I learned this much: adults couldn't breathe underwater, but a child could do anything. About four years later I held a paper bag above my head and jumped off a roof. I reached full speed and slammed into the ground. I learned this much: adulthood begins at six.
Leo Kottke (same guy as yesterday's quote) from this rambling Essay on Sadness...worth reading.
The other rambling essays were also kinda nifty, if a little hard to follow.

Article of the Moment
Here's a CNN article about online dating and the sites that rate the sites. Puts a pretty negative spin on it, but anecdotally, I've heard a fair number of success stories...sometimes it just takes a bit.

Here's the kind of make-over I want to get done before or as I get my dating mojo working again: Sounds like a plan, huh?

Link of the Moment
This AtariAge discussion thread on 2600 "3D Tic-Tac-Toe" reminded me of seeing Hillis' famous Tinker Toy Tic-Tac-Toe Computer at the Boston Computer Museum. This Scientific American article explains how it works. (Man, "Computer Recreations" was such a great column, back when computers were fun toys people could program rather than word processing and web browsing appliances. Interestingly, the columns author, AK Dewdney, now seems to be a 9/11 skeptic, in terms of odd holes in the story...)

Article of the Moment
Slashdot linked to a historical overview Do movie-license video games all suck? going all the way back to the Atari 2600 days.

News Story of the Moment
Oy, what a nightmare for anyone who is scared of our honeymaking friend, the Bee: Montanna Truck crash frees 9 million angry bees.

it ain't easy being green

(1 comment)
June 16, 2003
AIM Conversation of the Moment
kirk: man, thank goodness bruce banner has such flexible pants
brooke: hahaha
kirk: "HULK STOMP! HULK SMASH! HULK- er -- go cover privates..."
brooke: HAHA
brooke: I laughed out loud at that one

News of the Moment
Wired.com reports that people are falling in love with their robovacs (in the "it's ok to love your pets" kind of way...I hope.)

Image of the Moment
This English rotary-in-a-rotary is the most amazing traffic thing I've ever seen. The call it the "Magic Roundabout" after an old kid's tv show (Originally French, but a new, smarter version overdubbed into English, with lots of supposed sly drug references.) I wish I could see some video of cars on it; even with the traffic sign that link provides, I still don't quite get how it works out.

watch the skies

(1 comment)
June 16, 2002
Alien Invasion of the Moment
On rec.games.video.classic, Banazir the Jedi Hobbit (not his real name, I suspect) pointed out a disturbing similarity between the Spathi Eluder (a fighting spacecraft from one of the top 5 greatest PC games ever, Star Control 2) and a new logo manuevering menacingly across the blue sky in an ad for some kind of Yahoo! branded dialup service. While the Spathi were a cowardly race (which is why they have their strongest weapon pointing backwards, and try to disguise their crew quarters), they were the ones left to keep watch over the Earth after it had been been slave-shielded by the mighty and menacing Ur-Quan.

To paraphrase an ad for the new Scooby Doo flick:
Be Afraid. Be Sorta Afraid.

Link of the Moment
Ebay Dirty Harry: "You've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?" (thanks Ranjit)

Quote of the Moment
The bigger they are, the harder they hit.

the subjective history of the universe

June 16, 2001
I recently realized something. I tend divide history into two sections: everything that happened before my conception, and everything that happened after. And I don't let myself really criticize anything that happened before, since it might have ended up with "me" having never been here in the universe... my parents' choices of schooling and careers? Great! My dad's background in downstate Ohio? Cool! The Bay of Pigs invasion? Fine by me! Great big honking tailfins on cars in the 1950s? Super! The mongol hoards sweeping across Eastern Europe? Let 'em at 'em! I just don't know what tiny tiny factors may have resulted in my unbeing, caused some ancestor of mine to have acted just a little bit differently, and thus launched a never ending cascade of differences from the timeline that produced me.

I know this is not an entirely reasonable viewpoint, though it goes along with my materialist viewpoint on the nature of consciousness.

Update: Talking with Ranjit, we figured that maybe it's not criticism per se that I can't do (as he points out "if one object of learning from history is to avoid repeating it, you have to feel free to criticize it"), but I have to make a distinction between criticizing, and actually wishing it had been otherwise.

Quote of the Moment
Perhaps I'm old and tired, but I always think that the chances of finding out what really is going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say hang the sense of it and just keep yourself occupied.
Slartibartfast / Douglas Adams HHGttG

News Link of the Moment
Did you know Angelina Jolie wears a vial of her husband Billy Bob Thornton's blood? Very romantic, but really creepy.

"Romance among Strangers"
-another cheesy title