June 21, 2018

What's on the Voyager Probe Golden Record?
"Is depression funny?"
"Oh, I think it's hilarious. I really think it's funny. I am not interested in well-adjusted people because they just don't know they're depressed yet. I'm a snob about depression, I think we are superior. I honestly do. I think our brains are more developed and it's... and it's a burden."
--Jen Kirkman answering John Moe on his The Hilarious World of Depression podcast. Funny hearing about her being panicked by low flying aircraft in the 80s, like I was, assuming they were the harbinger of nuclear doom. (I got over the fear on my own years before my buddy Mike pointed hey, ICBMs travel MUCH faster than the speed of sound, you'd never hear 'em comin'.)
¡7 Trombones for niños y niñas! is a fundraiser I started on FB...

June 21, 2017videogamesramble

Wrote this on my devblog the other day, a tribute to the artists behind SimTunes and the core of Magic Pengel, reposting it here:

I've always liked software that let the user make something - from Bill Budge's Pinball Construction Set to the make-a-game fun without programming Klik N' Play, there have been some great examples of that over the years.

I want to write briefly about two creators, Toshio Iwai and Takeo Igarashi both of who made original UIs letting users exercise their creativity. Each creator's work was then used in separate commercial products in the 90s and 00s, products that deserve more recognition than they get.

Toshio Iwai is a multimedia artist. He may be best known for Electroplankton, a fairly early but very limited release for the Nintendo DS- his name appears on the packaging for it, an unusual-for-Nintendo recognition of singular artistic creation.

Electroplankton is not quite a game, not quite an instrument... it consists of ten different interfaces for making music and sounds of various types...



This was not Iwai's first multi-part collaboration with Nintendo - that would be the 4-part Sound Fantasy. One of those parts was based on his earlier work Musical Insects. This concept, 4 musical bugs, each one playing a different instrument that sounded at various pitches as the bug waddled over different colored tiles laid out on a blank canvas, got parlayed by Maxis into a nifty package called SimTunes. I guess this trailer gives you the overview about as well as anything:


This program was a terrific and playful mini-sequencer and paint program. Kids and Adults could focus on the sound, the look, or both. Just out of college, I remember setting it up with versions of Groove is in the Heart and "Alphabetter", a replacement for the alphabet song that I hope catches on but I'm sure never will. I appreciated that it had different palettes - for example, limiting the painted notes to a specific scale or modality, such as my favorite "Blues Scale" and an aspiring kid or adult could easily apply music theory they had or learn something new.

More recently Iwai collaborated with Yamaha to make the Tenori-On, a sequencer grid of lights. (I was almost ashamed at using a ThinkGeek knock off called the Bliptronic 5000, 'til I realized it was about 1/10 the price... and about 1/10 the functionality, but still.) I also found this overview of his art installations.

Takeo Igarashi seems to be more of a computer scientist than an artist, but his UI implementations are at least as impressive.  His academic homepage is of the ancient variety, and sadly most of his demos are a serious pain to get running in this day and age where Java on the desktop is all but forgotten. Still, his Smooth Teddy interface is remarkable; the user draws basic 2D shapes that then get rendered into 3D shapes.

The most straight forward descendent of the "Smooth Teddy" family is MagicalSketch 3D for iOS, a somewhat pricey (by app standards) tool, but one that promises to be an easy path to modeling for 3D print. (I haven't played much with Microsoft's "Paint 3D" but I think they would be well-served licensing out the core model.)

The finest rendition of this concept, however, is Magic Pengel: The Quest for Color for the Playstation 2. I feel it's a shame it didn't go by a more direct translation of its Japanese name, "Doodle Kingdom", because this project (a joint production with some collaboration from Studio Ghibli (of "My Neighbor Tortoro" and "Spirited Away" fame) deserves more attention than it ever got. (A "Pengel" is a Pen-Angel, I think a little helper sprite in the game. I'm not sure to whom they were trying to market with a name like that.)

Because not only can you doodle in 3D - your creations come to surprisingly charming life. Here's a Let's Play of it:

The editor works by letting you indicate what you're drawing (body, arm, wing, etc) - this knowledge is then incorporated to inform various animations (Walk, Tackle, Jump, Dance, etc) and the effect can be stunning- here's what a talented artist can make with its editor:


It's so delightful to sketch something out and then have it frolic around the "practice field".

Unfortunately, the game is horribly marred by ... well, too much game-ness. In some ways the body you construct doesn't do much to determine how your creation interacts with its virtual physical universe, it's just raw numeric material for a probability based monster battler ala Pokemon, with Rock-Paper-Scissors type strengths and weaknesses. Also, they limit the amount of "ink" you have to draw lines with, and then make the game about fighting monsters so you can get more ink to make your own creations that much more powerful, rather than creative.

There was a semi-sequel for the Game Cube called Amazing Island and one for the PS2 called Graffiti Kingdom. I remember getting absolutely stuck early on in Amazing Island and some utterly crap minigame, and if memory serves, Graffiti Kingdom tried to codify its editor too much, and lost much of the organic charm of the original.

Finally, I'd like to make one honorable mention for a game with a kind of brilliant editor built-in (though I don't believe there's a singular artistic vision behind it) - Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts + Bolts:



 This is by far the best "game" of everything I've talked about here - it starts with a gorgeous Mario 64-esque hub (looking like someone said "what if we ran all those pretty colors of the N64 into the kind of engine we can make today?)  with all these delightful themed subworlds, but each as if you can see the gears behind the walls work. Each subworld has multiple challenges that you build various vehicles to beat: cars, of course, but also boats and planes and flying balloons and sumo-karts etc. At first I thought all the creations were ugly and orthogonal-looking (VERY reminiscent of the old Capsela toys) but then the delight of making a car where the design really matters in a cartoon-physics kind of way takes over (and you can put on enough bolt-y bits to improve the look quite a lot.) And as you get more parts (there's that game-ness) you can go back and try for higher "medals", but the challenge level is generally well done, and the level of backtracking needed is negligible.

(And a small group of super-hard-core fans have really stretched the editor system to the limit, making these absurdly heavy jet-powered walking mechs in a game that was never meant to have any such thing...a joy to behold.)

Anyway, I love stuff like this, making a easy enough for a beginner but rich and engrossing enough to reward continued play (rather than a quick doodle and a "meh") is a tremendous feat. (Though I did once get a few people digging my own online Jack-O-Lantern maker) Both of these people and their works (and Banjo-Kazooie) deserve much admiration.

June 21, 2016photostuba

"Yes. Fruit is good, too, you mentioned fruit. Yeah. Fruit kept me going for a hundred and forty years once when I was on a very strict diet. Mainly nectarines. I love that fruit. It's half a peach, half a plum, it's a hell of a fruit. I love it! Not too cold, not too hot, you know, just nice. Even a rotten one is good. That's how much I love them. I'd rather eat a rotten nectarine than a fine plum. What do you think of that? That's how much I love them."
--Mel Brooks as the Two Thousand Year Old Man. He's right, just had one and they're great.
This was another shot from School of Honk at the Arlington Porchfest:

By Nobuko Ichikawa. I'm not soloing (I think Carlos on the metal clarinet is), just dancing, but still, I love how expressive my posture and hands are... it's more cluttered than my previous profile-able tuba shot but has more energy, and I like that it's my own horn ("Beauty") not a School of Honk one I was borrowing for kicks.
Typeset in the Future takes on Blade Runner
Trump pays $30K to a well-nigh fictional ad agency. Jeez, what's the line here? "Mad Men, indeed?" "Truth is fictioner than fiction?" Trump is a shyster par excellence. He goes to where what his audience wants to hear; the trouble is some of that is understandable, but the rest of it is really, really gross.

June 21, 2015

http://oglaf.com/acrophobia/ - man, the first 4 panels are a good stand-in for a host of prejudices.
"I don't think Osama bin Laden sent those planes to attack us because he hated our freedom. I think he did it because of our support for Israel, our ties with the Saudi family and our military bases in Saudi Arabia.
You know why I think that? Because that's what he f***ing said!
Are we a nation of 6-year-olds?"
--David Cross in 2004.

By similar reasoning, the Charleston shooting was not hating "Christianity", it was about hating black people.

You really can take some forms of hate at face value. Similarly, it's often not "utterly irrational", but a dumb kind of logic starting with horrific, wrong, and evil beginning assumptions.

Of course, the follow up logic is often lacking. "Uh, this is going to start a big race war! Hooray!" Hint to all future massacre planners: so very, very few people will find your murder of innocents inspiring, and the ones who do, you really don't want on your side.

Of course, the fact that the Treyvon Martin case was an inspiration as well. "Hey maybe I can get on this too" seems to be the pragmatic takeaway.

June 21, 2014

I think everyone hopes to find a previously unsuspected precocious talent, like the way my friend Sarah can allegedly play any tune by ear on the recorder. Over the past few days I have come to terms with the fact that I do not have a latent secret genius for painting the inside of houses. I mean I am not terrible, but I am really not any great shakes at it.

June 21, 2013

I think I had this image on a folder for elementary school... so evocative back then!

robert rowland smith on first love

(1 comment)
June 21, 2012

from Robert Rowland Smith's "Driving with Plato":
What's so odd today is that this sense of the unique experience of love coincides with the common knowledge that love can indeed befall you more than once in a lifetime. In this sense Anna Karenina heralds the modern age, and "first love" is precisely that: first but not last. As people live longer, become more affluent, and are aware of increased choice, there's a much more developed sense of love being a pleasure to be refreshed periodically, like buying a new house. And yet first love is special, an exercise of the soul that both recalls the munificence and warmth of being a child and introduces the sense of oneself as a grown-up, as someone who might make a journey through life with someone you didn't start life with. You become yourself with another self: you make a pair, and in doing so you see the future in each other's eyes.

a good time to be a boston sports fan

(4 comments)
June 21, 2011


In retrospect the Atari Program Exchange (APX) seems like the best thing ever, wish I was old enough to have ordered stuff from it.
"Rust, fire and explosions are the same process, taking place at different rates." -Mark Crane's father, http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2011/06/tips-my-dad-says-happy-fathers-day-to-all-of-the-make-pops.html/2
15. William Faulkner on Ernest Hemingway

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."

14. Ernest Hemingway on William Faulkner

"Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?"
--The 30 Harshest Author-on-Author Insults In History
Mixed feelings on the Solstice... a little sad to know it's all downdark from here.
"No one earns $100 million. You steal $100 million."
--Fran Lebowitz
"Youre too young to remember this, but to someone my age, it was shocking that Ronald Reagan would be the president of the United States. Why not Dana Andrews, who was a better actor? Ronald Reagan was the president of the United States. Anything that follows that is understandable."
--Fran Lebowitz interviewed by the AV Club

gasolinecomic

(5 comments)
June 21, 2010


"The saddest IMDb page ever: http://imdb.to/aB7D1 "
--http://twitter.com/RoseHarding
"If you'll tell me exactly what you're thinking and I tell you exactly what i'm thinking, then we have two minds working together. But most of the time you don't have that, you have bullshit and you have people playing games, and one person thinks life's a fuckin' Sandra Bullock movie and the next guy thinks he's John Wayne, and we're all full of shit. And we all die like that."
--Joe Rogan


Got a blood blister carrying a couch Saturday. You know, sometimes I'm surprised and grateful at how few scars/disfigurations are permanent.

pretty colour crackdowngame

(19 comments)
June 21, 2009


To view this content, you need to install Java from java.com
pretty colour crackdown - source - built with processing
My entry for Klik of the Month Klub #24 - what I said about it there:

this is rainbow invader legion genocide pretty colour crackdown

i recommend you don't actually play this but instead just watch the invaders flow around the current mouse location

if you want to play just hold the fire button to send in a stream of bullets to kill them.

if you feel guilty about that, and you probably should, press space to send in another 100 invaders.

UPDATE: I kind of like the initial "orbit around the individual random starting points" look of when the app first starts, something you couldn't get to once they started tracking where the mouse had been, so now after 30 seconds of not moving the mouse, the invaders return to that pattern.

Actually this used to be "rainbow invader legion genocide" but on the site Six wrote
makes me feel like a riot cop firing into a group of people who are staging a demonstration about how much they love pretty colours.
So that's the theme I'm going with, and I changed the bullets from rainbow to monochrome to match.


peeking a boo

(6 comments)
June 21, 2008

Ah the bittersweet official start of summer, where you know the days aren't going to get any longer than this.

Taking a "Programming in Flash" class today and tomorrow, so look for little toys and gizmos from that if it works out well.

Video of the Moment
An enormous amount of fun with censor bars in this David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame) "Toejam" by "BPA Featuring David Byrne and Dizzee Rascal" video...(thanks LAN3) I suppose, technically, it should be "SFW", then, but well, no, not really... but brilliant! Good song as well.

--via collegehumor, sent to me by EB. Looking at other places on web, it's funny to see all the utterly-missing-the-point "gee it would be better without the bars!"


The Red Sox are wearing Celtics green... how cute!
I'd like to find more books about living in the USA, aimed at folks in other countries but in English...
free samples of "honey bunches of oats" at H. square. Later, homeless kid complaining "I don't need this much cereal in my life"

we may well be the atlantis of some future time

June 21, 2007
Boy HOWDY does it feel like summer!

Or maybe just an early Friday.

Either way... MAN do I want to be out and about.

Bummer of the Moment
Evil B mentioned an article that had been making the rounds lately about the sad unlikelihood of the human colonization of space. A bummer for sci-fi fans and people worried about the sustainability of life on this little bluegreen rock of ours.

It gave me this thought, roughly paraphrased from last night: (and then today, when I mentioned the idea to some coworkers)
I mean, civilization may collapse, but I think humans will survive. We may be a bunch of nomad caveman [sic] trying to eek out a living in the ruins, but still... and just think, those folks will look back at us as some kind of Atlantis! They'll be like "and these metal boxes used to have wheels! And go fast! Much faster than a person or even a deer can run!"-- not to mention how we had flying machines and boxes that can make any kind of music you want at any time... but right now we're living the golden age! Yay us!
He laughed, but, well, yeah, yay us. And try not to screw up the planet quite so badly...

Innovation of the Moment
--Sam Adams' new beer glass design. Another future relic of this golden age!


entry 2000

(48 comments)
June 21, 2006

This is my 2000th entry on kisrael.com...yowza!

I prewrote this entry a long time ago... probably around 1600 or there abouts.

Man. 2000. That's quite a lot of stuff!


Job List of the Moment
According to Money Magazine, I've got the best profession in the USA. Or as Rob at work says, "We're Livin' the Dream". And it is a great career in a lot of ways. (On the other hand I am profoundly jealous of the summers off that folk in the #2 slot can get.)

chicken in the car and the car won't go (backlog flush #53)

(12 comments)
June 21, 2005

In Chicago for some technical training...I might be around online, but here's a good chance to clear out some of the backlog...

Sidebar people...feel free to fill in the lack of witty wry observational and situational humor by making some dang sidebars already!

UPDATE: So it turns out my hotel in the City of Broad Shoulders (a suburb thereof; the Suburb of Narrow Hips, perhaps) has WiFi in every room, so I'm pretty connected.

Anyone have any suggestions for the must-sees of Chicago? I realize everything I know about what to see comes from the movie the Blues Brothers (i.e. the Picasso statue..I think my fondess for white T-shirts with B+W photos on 'em came from a shirt I had of that) and the controversy about the Bean in Milennium Park.

Finally, I realize it's less "witty wry observational and situational humor" that I look for in the sidebar and more anecdotes, pointless or pointed...

not a peep out of you!

(4 comments)
June 21, 2004

Art Jokes of the Moment
--BRILLIANT T-shirt design by Brooke and Ranjit. (Click here if you don't get the joke.)
--Less brilliant photoshopping by me, just riffing on the theme. (Click here if you don't get the joke. Same artist.)


Quote of the Moment
"Do boys drive MINIs?"
--Karla Goo asks a very good question that weighs into the whole "what car should Kirk get?" issue. She ran into me at the Harvard Square Tealuxe on Saturday afternoon and we had a terrific chat on a nearby bench, mostly just catching up on our lives after the time we spent singing in sQ. Plus she introduced me to Bubble Tea. (Click here if you don't get the beverage.)

forked tongue

(2 comments)
June 21, 2003

Quote of the Moment
"I like the way it looks," he said, listing his reasons. "Two, I think it will be more fun during oral sex and the girls will get a kick out of it. Three, everyone and their mother has their tongue pierced and four, I'm an idiot."
--Emrys Yetz on getting his tongue split, with a result kind of like a snake's tongue. Says it makes it hard to eat ice cream, but you can do party tricks like pick up pencils.

Article of the Moment
Slashdot linked to an intriguing story about artidically invoking "savant" like behavior via EMF, from the NY Times. I wonder if anything could come of that? Though the technique seems like trying to paint-by-number with a giant wall-painting paintbrush.

Photo of the Moment
Mo's got glasses! She looks like an urban hipster. Actually she's probably going to be wearing them all the time now...it's kind of strange to think how it's such a change to the landscape of her head, how all time will be divided into Mo without glasses, and Mo with glasses, and that boundary point is today. (She felt compelled to have me point out that she is indeed making an odd face in this picture, it's not a natural by-product of the glasses or anything.)

Pointless Link of the Moment
I guarantee you that this site has more information than you ever need to know about the last few seasons of "The Price is Right". It's kind of like "trainspotting" (the actual activity, not the heroin-themed movie) for gameshows. The coverage adds daily commentary for the last few of the seasons offered.

summertime summertime sumsumsummertime

June 21, 2002
It's summertime!

Though I still think the seasons are shifted about a month from where they should be. (All of) June, July, and August seem to be the summer months, with September marking the shift into Autumn. I dunno.

Link of the Moment
You probably know MapQuest, right? Did you know it could do this? (That's where I work.) Aerial views! Not total coverage of the United States, but it seems to be good for most metroplitan areas. (The basic idea has been around before, that one MIT link I keep losing, and Microsot's TerraServer has a cool list of famous places, but none of them have an interface as slick as this.)

I find it a little spooky, but mostly weirdly nostalgic. Here's where I went to high school! Here's where I lost my virginity! Here's where I saw the Staute of Libery!

Quote of the Moment
I always give homeless people money, and my friends yell at me, "He's only going to buy more alcohol and cigarettes." And I'm thinking, "Oh, and like I wasn't?"
--Kathleen Madigan

pop pop pop

(2 comments)
June 21, 2001

Guestbook Entry of the Moment
"From observing your site, you appear to be very self-centered."
--William Jones, 2001.06.20

Well duh! This is my homepage. (For less Kirk-centric work of mine, go see the love blender.) This is a 'blog of sorts after all, and as far as blogs go, it's barely about me at all, it's about other people's quotes, and links, with a little bit of doodling and rambling.

I admit the T-shirts thing is a bit much, but it's just something I've wanted to do. Man, it's a good thing I haven't yet started up the Kirklopedia I've been thinking of...now that's self-centered.

Information Toy of the Moment

This image is a shrunken screengrab from the site The Great Pop vs. Soda Controversy. "Pop" in green, "Soda" in blue, "Coke" in red, other in pink. Although I've adopted the standard term "Soda" of my current region, I still think "Pop" is a better word. In a single syllable it captures the effervescence of the stuff, it's not as clinical as "Soda" and not as hillbilly as calling everything a "Coke".
(via Image of the Day at cellar.org)

Poetry of the Moment
NIGHTS OF '57
It wasn't asphodel but mown grass
We practiced on each night after night prayers
When we lapped the college front lawn in bare feet,

Heel-bone and heart-thud, open-mouthed for summer.
The older I get, the quicker and the closer
I hear those laboring breaths and feel the coolth.
--Seamus Heaney

KHftCEA 1997-06.2 June


mass avenue around central square looks a lot like downtown NYC, around 14th street
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Judith loved him with the love that can live only in distance, a love that relies on the myopia of strong feeling.  Even as their bodies and affections drew closer their was a distance that she would not give up.
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why does technology suck so much?
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John Cage pointed out that we are never in silence- in the stillest of rooms we carry the high pitched jangle of our nervous system, the low throb of coursing blood.
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Reading Jack Gilbert's poetry... It's strange; I want to be done with the book, but I enjoy them very much, being knocked over every fourth one or so.  What is this contradiction of wanting a limit to pleasure- is there some kind of meta-pleasure in moderation?
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