gorn with the wind

November 29, 2021


the arc of a love affair

November 29, 2020
A while back I started playing with timelines - I wanted to be better able to see the footsteps of my life so far.

That's one thing about life: it's easy to forget how much of it many of us our blessed with. Days rush by, weeks drags, and years can fly past - but there's a lot in there if you pay attention. That's good news if you're living a life (as long as you're having a reasonable time of it!) but bad news if you're trying to make an information-rich detailed graphical representation of it.

In making my main timeline, full of photos of places and people that I've loved, I experimented with different visual displays. This weekend I put together one more form: the rainbow-like arch:
click for full size

As usual with the experiments, I condensed things to where I've lived, jobs I've had, and people I've had some kind of romantic connection with.

Using a divided arch was interesting - it's more bounded than a simple linear timeline, and the curve gives a bit more room to cram stuff in, making better use of the plane.

Although Tufte famously warns against pie charts, I think this display does invite comparisons of ranges, without too much distortion.

(Also, I was thinking a bit about Jastrow illusion where two identical thick curved rails appear vastly different in size depending on how they're nested.)

take control of netflix binging

November 29, 2019
LIFEHACK: You can disable "autoplay" on Netflix, but the option is rather hidden - you have to login to the account via the web, click "Account" under the top right corner menu, scroll down to "Playback settings", and then uncheck "Play next episode automatically" and hit "Save". (Possibly you have to repeat this for other profiles in your account.)

I deeply resent "Play next automatically" being the default - partially because many shows throw in awesome music behind the credits, but mostly because of how it promotes and presumes a kind of mindless binge culture. And also, why not put it into the settings on the device? (Actually, being a per-device, per-account setting might be a useful option for many folks.) It's so suspicious that Netflix tucks it away in the web only - and then invented that semi-humiliating "Uh, are you still watching, or are you like asleep or dead?" dialog if you don't use the remote for a while, as if to make up for the crappy default binge mode UI.

(Thanks to Sami (of OxGadgets) in the Lost in Mobile site's WhatsApp group who pointed out the setting and its web-only nature... so glad I griped about this issue there!)

November 29, 2018

Not sure what I find more damaging about Trump - "They're making a mistake because I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else's brain can ever tell me." (Such a nice pairing with Colbert's sense of Truthiness "We get it. We're not brainiacs on the nerd patrol. We're not members of the factinista. We go straight from the gut, right sir? That's where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. I know some of you are going to say "I did look it up, and that's not true." That's 'cause you looked it up in a book.") or that Yellen didn't get renewed because she's short - "The president also appeared hung up on Yellen's height. He told aides on the National Economic Council on several occasions that the 5-foot-3-inch economist was not tall enough to lead the central bank, quizzing them on whether they agreed, current and former officials said." to quote The Washington Post.

the case for god

November 29, 2017
I'm reading a book, "Life, God, and Other Small Topics", transcriptions from a series of lectures with Q+A "Socrates in the The City". It's Catholic as all heck. I find intellectual Catholicism to have a richness there that I don't remember seeing in the protestant theological stuff I've read, and certainly it resonates more for me than the literalness that dogs much of the evangelical environment I grew up in.

Still, it's infuriating in parts, especially in how self-assured many of the speakers tend to be. Peter Kreeft's "Making Sense Out of Suffering" in particular (so far.) One of its central premises is that the strongest argument for atheism is the presence of suffering in the Universe. But that's only really a problem if you've taken as given that if there is a God, it's the simplistic all knowing / all loving / all powerful god of the Epicurus quote.

It was the huge plethora of religions that made my teenage self question the likelihood of any single one, and while a lot of faiths go for that all knowing/loving/powerful, there are a lot of potential ways of believing that don't. So Kreeft is branding all atheism as a disbelief in a very specific brand of divinity...

Over the years I've seen many more sophisticated ideas of God - the best historical context I've read comes from religious historian and former nun Karen Armstrong - seeing the Christian Trinity as an odd blend interesting mix of the unknowable "Sky God" (long worshipped by various peoples) with the more human and relatable gods that walked the earth.

The best attempt I read at making a myth of God-as-experimenter is "mr. g" by Alan Lightman - it does a good job to of showing how even an infinitely powerful and infinitely knowledgeable and deeply compassionate God might still make a universe with suffering as an unfortunate by-product (hint: mathematicians know that "infinity" comes in different magnitudes - say, the countable whole numbers and the uncountable set of fractions - both infinite, but there are plenty more of the latter)

I thought of all this because this SMBC comic had yet another sense of divinity:

It really is the hubris of a singular religious faith - one that denies a "many path / many faces of God" interpretation as heresy - that bugs me. For you to be right, you are declaring many many many other people as wrong, and if I'm going to listen to that, you need to make your case without begging the question of what is true. And for me Peter Kreeft points out the hubris of the assumption that we're so important, that we matter so much as individuals, that of course we - each alone - command the specific attention of a divine being, and so the fact that our subjective suffering is allowed to exist becomes a difficult question that demands an answer. If you relax some of those me-centric assumptions, the question allows many more answers.

(Also I would argue that Peter Kreeft presents a facile idea of Buddhism - my understanding that while "suffering" is the most common translation of "dukkha", a more balanced translation would "unsatisfactoriness". When you push down the contrast dial, a lot more nuance is allowed to emerge.)

Ah well. My current audiobook is "The Brothers Karamazov" and I do have this Kreeft lecture to thank for that.

best photo from malaysia trip 2016

November 29, 2016

"Relationships are all about asking people to hold things."
(This was especially true in the context she said this, the airport, as we both played that game of 'Ok do I have everything? Ok do I still have everything? Let me check again. How about now?')
My iPhone 6 was sort of on its last legs so I upgraded - but I went for the iPhone SE, which is the old iPhone 5 body with a 6S camera. There's something great about that old form factor, how easy it is to manage for quick camera shots etc. (Remember when smaller was considered better for electronics?)

November 29, 2015

from the November 1992 issue of COMPUTE:

Still rings true today!

November 29, 2014

Cautionary note in my avuncular roles..

"Like it. Like it. Like it. BE ME"

My family's derived preferences, in pie chart form.

Eulogy for Radio Shack. For a long time, they were small town America's connection to technology, and their catalogs were great.

in the land of the naked

November 29, 2013
WARNING: Naked, Angry Townspeople

November 29, 2012

super dynamic christmas decoration time!!!

November 29, 2011
Last night Amber and I decorated for the season a wee bit...
The highest paid people in America today create no real wealth for the society.

I like getting calls from recruiters, even though I don't want something new, because it assures me that i *can* get something new.

I asked my Italian instructor about Italian crisis. "We've seen worse," she said. When, I asked. "Fifth Century was pretty bad," she said.

Recaptioned school posters from the 70s. Funny.
Tragedy plus time equals comedy-- but who has time anymore?
Michael Shaw

Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Give a man handfuls of bees and he'll get really mad. "What the fuck", he might say, or "Stop".

SciFi: "Laugh at me?" said Dr Zarxo. "I'll show them! I'll show them all!" So he did a double-blind study and got the results peer reviewed.

there and back again

November 29, 2010

I dreamed of a restaurant serving a Clubbed Seal Club Sandwich. I wasn't sure if the restaurant meant it as a joke or not. Sounds fatty.
RIP Leslie Nielsen. Shirley no one will call you now. Though "Leslie" was kind of a strange name for a dude.
Computer Identifies the Most Boring Day in History - April 11, 1954 - a day that will live in non-infamy.
Note to the Twitterverse: few tweets are really improved by postpending them with ", bitches"
Exactly two things have made airplane travel safer since 9/11: reinforcing the cockpit door, and convincing passengers they need to fight back. Everything else has been a waste of money.

LOVE that the Bills' Steve Johnson blames God for his game-losing dropped pass; He so often gets the credit and thanks, why not some blame?


(1 comment)
November 29, 2009

--excerpt from Essential 3rd Act Twists - it was even worth looking up "Peripeteia" and "Anagnorisis"!
Sometimes I regret picking "kirkjerk" as my nom de web, and not kirkles, kirkamundo, or thegreatkirkini (names I used when I thought I had lost my AIM password) -- people think I identify with jerks or something. But I'm loathe to change it, because consistent online identity is important to me.
http://tweetcloud.icodeforlove.com/kirkjerk/52401 - my tweetcloud, most frequent words I twittered over the past 6 months: love, people, time.
There's a profound statement in American consumerism in how a 2-liter costs less than most 20 oz bottles, and both cost less than most water
Alarmingly, my iPhone tries to autocorrect "ringtones" as "ringtonez".
Dig the feeling when I've been coding for most of a day and only after does my sore jaw tell me I've been so focused I've been clenching it.

"according to hoyle"

November 29, 2008
Lunch with FoSO yesterday, looking at the people at the Pru.

Not quite the teeming masses we were braced for, for better or worse, but things seemed to be moving.

She thinks that if I feel I've had luck with nice Jewish gals I should actually go on JDate, despite the fact my tribal membership card isn't quite valid.

Actually, on Thanksgiving a cousin of ours who has done research into the family genealogy gave my mom a lovely artifact he had unearthed, her Great Uncle Samuel's Hebrew prayerbook.

Sometimes I think I'm a bit bipolar on the whole goy thing.

Video of the Moment

(Star Trek vs Star Wars DMP Edition)

Quote of the Moment
Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards.
Fred Hoyle

The holiday traditional Dr. Mario, Aunt notices Mom is stoic - fuming? No, just decided not to speak 'til she won a star. Kind of hilarious!

the discrete charm of the green line at rush hour

November 29, 2007
After work yesterday I had to head out right at the crack of five for my final photography class.

Arlington Station was crowded.

I love the subterfuge of the conductors as they try to urge people not to jam the already packed cars any further... "there's another train coming!" Well, duh, of course, it's a frickin' subway! There's always another train coming, it's when that's the question, and in this case the answer was "not for ten minutes or so", until that side of the station was getting so packed people were queuing on the stairs.

Also, people who get on at Boylston Station inbound during rush hour are idiots. The entrance to Park Street is, literally, a stone's throw away (err, if you had a really good arm at least) so either you're jamming into a car to save 50 yards of walking for 10 minutes of waiting, or if your destination is further down the Green Line, you'd find it 2 or 3 times less crowded getting on board at Park Street once all the people aiming for the Red Line disembark.

Job Description of the Moment
Qualified individuals will possess at least 2-3 years of prior commercial collections experience in a fast paced corporate environment, strong verbal communication and organization skills. Prior experience in commercial collections required. Great Plains experience is a plus. The ideal candidate will have exceptional Excel skills, excellent analytical skills, and a persuasive, yet professional demeanor.
Listing for "Credit and Collections Specialist (Newton)"
I've never bothered taking myself off "The Career Place's" mailing list, so I still get intermittent notification of job openings, though rarely anything that's up my alley. Still, this listing caught my eye, if only because of the euphemistic glory of "a persuasive, yet professional demeanor".

on sirlin

November 29, 2006
The other day in a GamersQuart thread about Smash Brothers and "being sporting" and shunning weird and obscure tactics vs just playing as hard as possible, someone referenced Sirlin.

He argues that playing to win every time is the best path, and that people who don't are "scrubs" who don't know what they're missing and who will be forever limited by their own choices. He presents some compelling arguments, and is worth the read, but I had a few objections I'd like to bounce off of people here:

First off, Play to Win exhibits great faith in game designers, that in "99.9%" of the situations, there isn't a simple strategy that wins over all others, or that the community will serve to eliminate those games that do fall to a simple pattern. So therefore, any arbitrary restrictions by "scrubs" are largely pointless and out of the true spirit of gaming. But Sirlin himself points out some exceptions to this, cases where the "Pros" agree it is justified. Essay 1 talks about Akuma:
But the first version of Street Fighter to ever have a secret character was Super Turbo Street Fighter with its untouchably good Akuma. Most characters in that game cannot beat Akuma. I don't mean it's a tough match--I mean they cannot ever, ever, ever, ever win.[...] the community as a whole has unanimously decided to make the rule: "don't play Akuma in serious matches."
Also from the mailbag
Roll canceling is a bug requiring difficult timing that allows a player to have many invulnerable moves that the game designers never intended. [...]Should roll canceling be banned? I'm pretty sure it meets the standard of "warranted" since I'm satisfied that under serious tournament conditions, the game completely fell apart into a joke
So, there at least some cases where restrictions are acceptable... therefore, the question is just one of degree.

Then, in describing his own feats he talks about his moves of doing a defensive move until his opponent finally does something stupid:
For example, an opponent faced with my "jumping straight up and down Zangief" could simply decide to back off and wait. What he might not realize is that I have unlimited patience. Since my brick wall in this case is keeping me even (I'm not falling behind) I'm happy to do it forever, which is probably much longer than he's willing to avoid the battle. Most opponents lack the will to avoid battle forever, and will eventually enter into it at a disadvantage out of impatience.
I assume the game would time out if both players took this kind of tactic, and it would end in a tie (correct me if I'm wrong) So Sirlin is relying on the other player having slightly more devotion to the game not being utterly pointless, while all he will ever care about is winning.

He makes a bigger philosophical defense of the pursuit of the truly optimal strategies
Imagine a majestic mountain nirvana of gaming. At its peak are fulfillment, "fun", and even transcendence. Most people could care less about this mountain peak, because they have other life issues that are more important to them, and other peaks to pursue. There are few, though, who are not at this peak, but who would be very happy there.
I think his assumption of it being the "happiest" peak is unfounded (in fact, elsewhere he argues that amateur chess players have more fun than the pros) but at least he also points out the possibilities of other peaks. (Also, there's an interesting dependency, then, on being surrounded by similar caliber players, and possibly even doing research out of the game, like online...)

He puts forward some thought-provoking ideas, and I've even put his book on my Amazon wishlist but if taken too seriously, he can be almost Nietchian or Ayn-Randian in outlook. It's a short hop from him applying this kind of gamesmanship to the show "Survivor" to thinking about how the ideas might be applied to real life. And that leads to some profound questions, what's really worth pursuing in life? and how do you tell if you succeed?

There are some "obvious" possible metrics, like money. So maybe everyone should work to maximize their money. And some people do. But that leads to smack into a fundamental issue with the outlook, the "Tragedy of the Commons". Case in point: Spam. Spam, to some large degree, is effective, and people following this kind of "screw everything else I'm gettin' mine" outlook make life a bit more miserable for everyone, filling inboxes to overflowing and turning innocent folk's PCs into spam-spewing Zombies. Clearly, this isn't the path to the best balance in life.

(In practice of course, some of this all comes down to me being total crap at the type of fighter games he's so good at. In fact, a lot of what he describes requires an ability to emulate and even visually observe that I'm not sure that I have. The first mountain for the newbie player to climb is recognizing what the opponent is doing and how, and that's actually pretty tough in and of itself.)

playful work

November 29, 2005
Observation of the Moment
Luckily, renaissances celebrate immaturity and idealism. The growing field of "neotany" looks at the extended childhoods of species as a sign of their development. The longer an infant is helpless, the more advanced the species to which it belongs. Fish are fully developed from birth, dogs depend on their mothers for a few months, and human beings are helpless for several years. Likewise, the extended time for youth and exploration our society now offers (a full 90 percent of American residents now graduate high school, and more than a third make it through college) means more time for practice, development, and play. Growing up should not mean an end to this freedom to expand and innovate. It can be its rebirth in an entirely new context: that of playful work.
I've also heard how, evolutionary wise speaking, having a cultural infrastructure that could support a prolonged infancy meant we could have a shorter pregnancy, which meant woman's hips didn't have to be so wide to give birth, which meant we could have a better time walking upright and using our hands for tools and what not. I know this is probably not a healthy view, but sometimes it seems like C-sections are the "evolutionary" next step.

Heh...relevant quote from Bill Cosby on the Quotations Page Quote of the Day: "Human beings are the only creatures that allow their children to come back home."

Research of the Moment
From the "I could have told you that" department, Activity Levels may be an intrinsic genetic property. In other words, once a couch potato, always a couch potato, bar some heroic efforts to become otherwise.

News of the Moment
Bush readying the ol' "Declare Victory and Pull Out" strategy.

Is post-war Iraq better for the majority of Iraqis than during the Saddam era?

Saddam really messed up with Kuwait. If it wasn't for that, I'm 80% sure he'd be our staunch semi-secular ally in the region, that we'd hold our nose and look for his help as a stabilizing force...not to mention a rallying point for Jihadists to detest.

google-y eyes

November 29, 2004
Old Link of the Moment
Have you tried Google Desktop? I was hoping for something better than Outlooks awful search engine for my e-mail. One disconcerting part of it is how when you go to regular Google, by default it also starts showing you matches from your local desktop. It's pretty freaky when it looks like the contents of your local machine have somehow made it to Google, even though they swear it's all smoke and mirrors, no information is sent back to their servers. The othe stupid thing about that is by default it shows you matches in your browser cache, so the sequence is you're at a website, you decide to Google the general topic, and the first hits are always...what you were just looking at...duh.

Paperbacks of the Moment
--via boingboing.net, this amusing collection of Sleaze Science Fiction Covers. "Starship Intercourse" was a pretty good one too...and the site has different genres as well, from Film Noir to Lesbiana.

Link of the Moment
I swear I've never actually played D+D, but Fun With Dice, how to roll the dice in the most annoying ways possible, made me giggle.

86 simple rules

November 29, 2003
So what do people think, does the sidebar link to loveblender.com deserve its former place under "features", like Wing And A Prayer suggests, or is it better heading up the list of "other stuff"?

Link of the Moment
From Modern Drunkard Magazine, it's The 86 Rules of Boozing. Practical and a bit funny.

Toy of the Moment
Press a button, get the guy moving. Some of the animtions, like the "S" key, are on the rude side.

backlog flush #4

November 29, 2002
I'm heading to Euclid, Ohio (suburb of Cleveland) for my 10 year high school reunion...wish me luck! Instead of the usual random prose or poetry, I'll continue the plowing through of my backlog. Tosday's set neatly finishes up my backlog for 2001! Yay!

A random note as I pack: the paradoxes of scouring ones books for the one or two you've been meaning to get back to: if the book was that great you probably woulda read it by now. And seeing a book and not remembering if you've read it or not is a very risky situation, it might be you have and it just isn't memorable.

pop pop pop

November 29, 2001
Guestbook Entry of the Moment
The question...Why is it that Orville Redenbacher's microwavable popcorn, or any other microwavable popcorn for that matter, has to be watched so closely so as not to cause a burn factor? I mean direction number 2 reads "Stay & Listen" on the bag itself. Why should we have to monitor our popcorn? Hasn't any popcorn scientist figured out a solution to this problem yet?
An alumni of EHS
Man, what is it with all these anonymous people from my past in my guestbook? Write me some frickin' e-mail, people, conversation can be rewarding! Or use AOL-IM and contact me as kirkjerk.

Anyway, I just wanted to say, I have the best damn microwave when it comes to making popcorn. It's a Sharp Carousel. It has this single "Popcorn" button that just works. I think it might use some kind of sensor...anyway, it always gets almost the whole bag popped without burning. It's great. None of that tedious "Stay & Listen" crap for me.

On the other hand, I just heard about a fire that destroyed 8 condos that was started by a bathroom fan being left on and overheating. (Aren't fans supposed to be cool not hot? Anyway.) So perhaps I shouldn't be so cavalier.

Raunchy Link of the Moment
Giving Gore/Lieberman a whole new meaning. Wow. I think red's description from Portal of Evil says it best: This site has stories about Al Gore. Not just anything about Al Gore, oh no. These are stories about Al Gore having sex with Joe Liberman. My mind is now vanquished. Thank god they have an Al Gore/Jon Bon Jovi story, too, just to reinforce the need for a bleach shower. All I'll add is "Thank Goodness for the Web!".

CD jewel box insert measurements: the front is 4.75 inches square (342 pixels @ 72 dpi) The back picture is the same height, 5.375 inches (387 pix) wide, with .25 inches (18 pix) on each side-- 5.875 inches (423 pix) in all.
Squeaked by to two entries this month... and without copying the WLT excerpts I wanted even.
The trade secret of a happy marriage, according to a friend of mine who recently celebrated his 35th anniversary, is: "You behave as though you were in a crowded lifeboat: You respect the space of the others, you don't make any sudden moves, you thank heaven for every minute you're alive and you keep any disastrous thoughts to yourself."
--Mr. Blue
 Dear Theo,
Will life never treat me decently? I am wracked by despair! My head is pounding! Mrs. Sol Schwimmer is suing me because I made her bridge as I felt it and not to fit her ridiculous mouth! That's right! I can't work to order like a common tradesman! I decided her bridge should be enormous and billowing, with wild, explosive teeth flaring up in every direction like fire! Now she is upset because it won't fit in her mouth! She is so bourgeois and stupid, I want to smash her! [...]
--Woody Allen, If the Impressionists Had Been Dentists
"Do you like oral sex?"
--V, 95-12-31


It was considered good luck to pat [Donna LaDonna] on the privates. (wall painting)
"I'm the total package: all the lurp, none of the unpleasant smell."
(presenting myself as a lurpy but good smelling guy)