October 26, 2020

I always took umbrage at "both parties are equally opportunistic" in terms of gerrymandering and vote shenanigans. Somehow, when there are statistical anomalies, the weirdness always ends up favoring red.

Or even on the face of it- it's such coincidence that Democrats and Republicans have been leaning into their names so well to the extent that republicans remind us "we live in a republic not a democracy". one party pulls its strength from the majority, the other from protecting more rural areas.

more too in this twitter thread

Note to self: Oliver Selfridge's pandemonium theory seems to be a precursor to Marvin Minsky's "Society of Mind".
This whole self-loathing a lot of software engineers engage in is entirely unproductive and is never going to be resolved. The idea that software development is a young industry and if we just give it another 30 years of ISO compliance or whatever rigor, we're going to arrive at a romanticized notion of engineering they have in aerospace, or elevators, or bridges... no, we're not. This is a fundamentally different domain that requires a fundamentally different approach.

We already have many of the answers. We're simply afraid of embracing them. For example, in traditional engineering estimates are a huge part. Things run on estimates and on critical path diagrams because that's simply the way you build a skyscraper. You don't get to reconfigure how the pylons go after you pour the concrete. Software development is nothing like that. Software in many ways is far closer to the creative process of writing, game making, movies. Experiences where you design the unknown and you don't know whether it's good or not until you see it.

Look at movie making. We've been making movies for a hundred years. Haven't we figured out the creative process yet? No! We haven't. You can take a great director, a great cast, and still make a totally shitty movie. Versus in building, largely speaking, if you take a great architect, a great engineering firm, and a great general contractor, you're gonna arrive at a building that works. You may make minor mistakes but the basic structure is going to be sound, unless someone makes a completely negligent error. In movie making, in music, in software things fail all the time. Even when good people who know the techniques of how to build things get together and work on something, they still end up failing.

Folks from my band BABAM has been participating in a weekly vigil in West Roxbury to support Black Lives Matter. Here's the crew that was there last week along with a bonus glitch-y photo of other participants.

Photos by Stewart Ting Chong

October 26, 2019

14 years ago I posted this Laffy Taffy joke:
Q. What kind of tea can be hard to swallow?
A. Reality
"The Tea" is such a meme now - even the center of frickin RCN ads - and it's probably unrelated, but I could see it coming from this kind of wordplay. (Hell, I'm not sure I believe bae's commonly received origin story...)
I'm not trying to argue in the book that the scarcity mindset is either shallow or completely useless. If you're caught in a warzone, if you're in a poverty-stricken area, if you're fighting for your survival, if you're in a competitive sport like boxing, the scarcity mindset does play a very important role.

Most of us are the products of people who survived in what was for a very, very long time, in our evolution as a species, a scarcity-oriented universe. Food was scarce, resources were scarce, fertile land was scarce, and so on. So we do have a very hard-wired tendency to be scarcity-oriented. But I think what has happened over time is we don't have to literally fight for our survival every day.

I think that as intelligent beings we need to recognize that some of the vestiges of our evolutionary tendencies might be holding us back. If I'm at an advertising agency, for example, or in software design, those are the kinds of fields where it is now being shown in quite a lot of studies that you actually perform better if you don't put yourself under the scarcity mindset, if you don't worry about the outcomes and enjoy the process of doing something, rather than the goal.

I'm wondering if that scarcity mindset tends to amplify the tribalism we see in politics now. Even folks who have pretty comfortable clouds of privilege and relative comfort, there's this human tendency to raise the stakes about everything, make everything urgent. I wonder though - that kind of contradicts this idea that life was pretty good and maybe easy for humans when we were small groups of hunter-gatherers. I wonder if people in groups were most often what we'd see as relaxed, or if it was constant stress.
Some interesting thoughts on stadium design - how it's about community and thoughtfulness...
Two views from the Annual JP Dog Parade - JP honk was able to muster a quintet- the first is actually a screenshot from a video I took at the head --

Not sure who took the second, but they say it's #nofilter - lovely foliage and vibrant band outfits...

October 26, 2018

I made a version of a semi-famous computer program from Scientific American's "Computer Recreations" column, WA-TOR

I write a little bit more about it and "recreational computing" on my devblog.
Goodness gracious, optical illusions have gotten out of control! -- all of those on the page are astounding.
Aesop's Fables #238 - The Fly:
A fly had fallen into an earthen pot [chytros] full of boiled meat. On the verge of drowning in the broth [zōmos], she said to herself:
'I've eaten, I've drunk, I've had a bath. Death can come. It doesn't matter to me.'
This fable shows that people easily surrender to death when it comes without any suffering.
Like Mother Goose stuff, "Real" Aesop's Fables are more grim than the versions we make for kids....

I thought this Quora answer on "what happened to Venezuela" was interesting, with take aways for all political sides...

October 26, 2017

He kissed her.

A kiss about apple pie à la mode with the vanilla creaminess melting in the pie heat. A kiss about chocolate, when you haven't eat chocolate in a year. A kiss about palm trees speeding by, trailing pink clouds when you drive down the Strip sizzling with champagne. A kiss about spotlights fanning the sky and the swollen sea spilling like tears all over your legs.
from "weezie bat" by Francesca Lia Block.
She has a gift for naming things, like a juice bar called "I Love Jucy" or a movie title "Shangri L.A." (vs "Hell-A" for the real Hollywood)
Love is just a system for getting someone to call you 'darling' after sex.
Stuart in Julian Barnes' "Talking It Over"

October 26, 2016

"Was the switch to direct public nomination a net benefit or drawback? The answer to that question is subjective. But one effect is not in doubt: Institutionalists have less power than ever before to protect loyalists who play well with other politicians, or who take a tough congressional vote for the team, or who dare to cross single-issue voters and interests; and they have little capacity to fend off insurgents who owe nothing to anybody. Walled safely inside their gerrymandered districts, incumbents are insulated from general-election challenges that might pull them toward the political center, but they are perpetually vulnerable to primary challenges from extremists who pull them toward the fringes. Everyone worries about being the next Eric Cantor, the Republican House majority leader who, in a shocking upset, lost to an unknown Tea Partier in his 2014 primary. Legislators are scared of voting for anything that might increase the odds of a primary challenge, which is one reason it is so hard to raise the debt limit or pass a budget."
. Sometimes it's tough to respect some of the early Founder's fears about "King Mob" without sounding like an elitist jerk, but for a guy with some "Extremist Moderate" impulses like me, it's tough to like such local politics.
This is a pretty good summary of the narrator Robert P. Jones' book "The End of White Christian America" that I recently read.

I think it's easy for lefties to demonize "White Christian America" in the same way the right tends to over-idealize it. There are some very good qualities to it, and as a nation we need to find a moral center, one that doesn't presume a skin color or belief in a particular supernatural explanation for the universe and to back its sense of morality.
Continuing today's theme of trying to understand American politics, and even with empathy to the "other side": What a liberal sociologist learned from spending five years in Trump's America

These Louisianans are so convinced that government is the problem - their environment gets racked and ruined but government environmental regulation must be worse. Many rely on governmental assistance, but for them government is still the problem.
Completing today's links: I forgot to post Cracked's How Half Of America Lost Its F**king Mind (or as the title seems to originally have been, 6 Reasons for Trumps Rise that no one talks about.) It is one of the most sympathetic views of the Trump supporting red states, and what they've go through, that I've seen.

October 26, 2015

Funnest fan theory today: Luke, Sith Lord
I think one of the weirdest things about the prequels, from the point of view of an 80s kid, was the transition from it being "Luke's Story" to "the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker".
http://www.bostontubachristmas.com/ Somehow I have managed to not go to Tuba Christmas since my Cleveland Days- I'm gonna this year tho! 2PM Nov. 28 Faneuil Hall . It's an amazing sound!

October 26, 2014

I still play "Draw Something" with one buddy; nice to have a daily dose of doodling. I was pleased with this morning's rendition of "Death" -- also an inspiration for my tuba's costume this year that hopefully I'll get around to making today.

BTW, FWIW I *really* dislike Paul Klee's quote "A drawing is simply a line going for a walk.". Especially when used and abused by 'Draw Something's Notifications...
o my god so many new hampshire political ads around the patriots game shut up shut up SHUT UP.

"99% voted w/ Obama" is not the negative for me that it apparently is for its target demo
What's a big vegetarian/vegan indulgence? Like, is there a rough parallel to tucking in to a nice piece of steak?

October 26, 2013

Seeing public radio's Radiolab's live show... I didn't realize how big The Wang is. #thejokewritesitself

my uncle made this

October 26, 2012
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.

ghost town amusement park

October 26, 2011

--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?

the mac: simply superlative!

October 26, 2010

Mac OS X Lion Notes: iOS Scroll Bars, Any Corner Resizing, Dock Changes - OSX Dock losing "running app" markers weirds me out; odd not to differentiate "clean start" from "context I want to get back to".
RIP walkman, the device that introduced us to personal, customized musical spaces--
Why iPhone 4 and Android Brightness Controls Are Effectively Useless - lost me at "brightnessgate"

it's been a fast four years

October 26, 2009
Amber and I got to talking last night. At one point she put one of the differences between us starkly; her gaze is more to towards the future, I tend to dwell more on the past. I think this makes us a nice complementary set, but it also puts up some challenges in terms of expectations we have for each other.

Kirk as Buddha. Fun fact: one of my parent's earliest nicknames was "Buddha", and their friends thought they were odd enough that maybe that was my real name!
Like I've said before, I'm either the most or least enlightened person I know. I find my thinking naturally falls in tune with a lot of Buddhist thought-- be in the moment and enjoying it, restrain your desires so that you don't end up miserable about what you don't have rather than appreciative of what you do-- but it comes from kind of a bad place, a desperate psychological need to not be responsible for making bad decisions that mess things up.

We got to talking about some people I know, both women, both close to JZ, who both independently felt the need to pick themselves out of the life they had here around Boston and move elsewhere in the country -- neither had clear job prospects or housing arrangement plans. If nothing else, that's some bravery! The desire to do that is really foreign to me, but again, that makes sense given my reluctance to make big, risk-filled decisions in the first place.

I don't know if that feeling is strengthened or weakened by my moving every couple years as a kid. But it also seemed a bit of an extreme, youthful impulse to Amber, even though she made a big move not too long ago, from Indiana back to nearer her roots in New England. And she thinks I might have an easier time of making a new social life, since I'm a bit more extroverted (or at least more of an attention-seeking introvert) than she is. But even I'm very wary of how friendships don't come as easily and maybe as deeply as they did back in the day, and that is one of several factors that keeps me rooted in Boston. (Actually when I think of some of the friendships I have developed, some of them come from the other person kind of pushing, sometimes suggesting get-togethers that seemed a little forced -- but almost all of these ended up being among the deepest and most important friendship I've had.)

Still, there was a wistful note Amber sounded that broke my heart when she spoke of her time since the move and said "it's been a fast four years". And in her voice I thought I could hear things: a bit of pain over the breakup with the person she moved back with, a bit of loneliness over the difficulty in making a deep set of friends, a bit of uncertainty about the best path for the best way to shape her apartment and career and everything else, but most of all a bit of melancholy about the fleeting nature of time and memory. (I might be projecting, or at least guessing, a bit here.)

And it broke my heart that I don't have a fix for that for her. I have ways around that for myself: my daily journaling (both public and private), my retrospective nature that counts passed days as a credit, not just a debit - but I recognize much of that just isn't in her nature, and she's going to have to find her own path to reconciliation with some of the tough existential truths of life.

I guess all of that is some of the pain of loving people, of not being able to make everything all-better, of not being capable of shielding them from a harsh and unfair universe. (Especially for guys, who tend to only value pragmatic, cause-effect fixes over more touchy-feely talking and listening.) And sometimes you need to just give them room to find their own path... I'm reminded of this old quote from Dymphna Willson's "A Different Drummer"
That's the whole point; at least I think that's what Bethrah was saying although it's difficult to accept. I mean it seems horrible that the most you can do for people you love is to leave them alone.
But of course it's not just leaving them alone that we need to do -- like Harvey Pekar said "This is a tough world, folks. We all need help t' get by so help yer friends an' make sure they help you or know th' reason why."


(Probably that's some of the solace people find in religion. Humble yourself before God, and you might feel like you have someone not just watching out for you, but for your loved ones as well, and also then hopes for the eternal can provide a sugar coating for even when terrible, terrible things happen to your good people.)

But I dunno. I think the undertone of sadness under "it's been a fast four years" is going to stick with me for a long while.

I've read, and am willing to believe, that brains can become physically addicted to worrying. And I'd like to quit, but how do you go cold turkey?

castles don't have phones a**hole!

October 26, 2008
Went to the Rocky Horror Picture Show last night with Ariana and Jose. Goofy fun! I think the most amazing thing is just how many snarky MST-like lines there are to know.

Quote of the Moment
The same point is carried by an old story about Shankara, the great eighth-century Vedanta philosopher. Shankara was being challenged with regard to his teaching that the world is maya. "What would you do," the challenger asked, "if you were being chased by a wild elephant?" "I would run," Shankara replied. "Why would you run?" the challenger continued. "After all, by your own account, the elephant is merely an illusion." "I would run," Shankara retorted, "because I am part of the same illusion."
Disanto + Steele, Guidebook to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Politics of the Moment

--Wassup 2008. Compare to the original.

"Voted with bush X% of the time" is a political bludgeon. It speaks to Bush's terrible rep, also zero-sum politics based on conflict.
Rams have a player named "Richie Incognito"? Sweet.
Why do we think of lasting love as the truest kind? What if love is intrinsically unstable and the long form is the abberation?
Great accordionist by Harvard Coop. Again, an underrated instrument: the chords and dexterity of keyboards + expressiveness of woodwinds

conway west

October 26, 2007
click to play

conway west - source - built with processing

This is a 2 hour game written for Glorious Trainwreck's Klik of the Month #4. (While probably more impressive visually, technically conwayice was a warm up for this game.)

This is probably a clearer introduction for people less familiar with Conway's Game of Life (and yes the title is a cheap pun on a current recording artist.)

Of course, Life doesn't usually have a random element like the ghost to stir things up, but I'm pleased with how he stops the board from falling into its usual simple pattern.


October 26, 2006
So at the risk of boring every non-techie there, a recent bit of exposition of mine from IM:
Yeah, that's one of the difficulties of technologies that try to say "and you don't write code"... same w/ things that make heavy use of XML files as controllers... for non-trivial stuff, the "non code stuff" (tags, or XML) needs to be written by someone smart enough to write code, PLUS it's another syntax to learn, PLUS it's another layer of plumbing to get through when something does go wrong. I'm definitely in the "keep it simple" and "prefer APIs over framework engines" camps, when I'm given control over architectural decisions.
So put that in your Struts-pipe and smoke it.

Nanofiction of the Moment
Computer, did we bring batteries? Computer?
Eileen Gunn
Machine. Unexpectedly, I'd invented a time
Alan Moore
From torched skyscrapers, men grew wings.
Gregory Maguire
The baby's blood type? Human, mostly.
Orson Scott Card
Tick tock tick tock tick tick.
Neal Stephenson
--from Wired's Six Words Story Challenge. I also like Hemingways inspirational original ("For sale: baby shoes, never worn.") which famously manages to say so much with so little.

Art of the Moment

--Alien Bill Landscape. Fooling around with an (almost annoyingly) realistic painting program called artrage...

mr angry and mrs calm

October 26, 2005
Illusion of the Moment
click to see

mr angry and mrs calm // source code // Built with Processing (0093 beta)

I made this applet to better view the Mr Angry & Mrs Calm Illusion as presented by Ian Rowland, but the original is by Dr. Aude Oliva and Dr. Philippe Schyns (see this MIT page for more cool and related stuff.)

Move the mouse over the image to shrink it. As it shrinks, the faces seem to swap places! No other image processing is done except the shrinking. Mr. Angry on the right becomes calm, and Mrs. Calm on the left appears angry. It's an amazing illusion, I think the applet makes it a little more fun to play with.

Article of the Moment
Neat little Slate Explainer about the spelling of the Red Sox and White Sox...I had no idea it died into that "spelling reform movement" near the end of the 1800s.

I still love names like the "Boston Beaneaters" and the "New York Porchclimbers"...more historical team names here.

Laffy Taffy of the Moment
Q. What kind of tea can be hard to swallow?
A. Reality
Recent Laffy Taffy Wrapper.
Ooooh, Snap!

Site Update of the Moment
I rejiggered by sidebar with the goal of making it easier to get to the interesting stuff. You can compare it old one and let me know if you think it's an improvement. I'm open to suggestions, especially for the section headings.

the radio shack is a little old place where...we can get together....

October 26, 2004
Observation of the Moment
I just got a flyer from Radio "You've got questions, we've got cellphone plans" Shack. The back copy seemed to be a bit of rebranding gone amuck... "RadioShack presents the Apple iPod from HP!"

On a related note...anyone know how to stop the barage of those stupid supermarket flyers? I've decided my time is worth more than the stupid coupons' savings, and the things are so bulky...

History of the moment
I started googling about retired numbers for sports teams when I found The Baseball Hall of Fame's History of the Baseball Uniform...the timeline was pretty decent reading. But mostly, I love reading the names of defunct teams: I love random teamnames, I already posted some fictional team logo design I messed around with when I was a kid. I almost want to rig up a big web compendium of all the teamns and logos I can get my hands on...

kingfish of the world

October 26, 2003
Yankees lost the world series to the Marlins. In general I'd be against the Marlins after their previous win of that title over the Indians, and the way that their fans don't know what it's like to lose a postseason series. But they have some likeable players and a cool old guy coach and the sweet schadenfreude of watching the Yankees lose is just too much. Yay Marlins.

Patriots vs. Browns today, so I have a bit of divided loyalty. I guess my best strategy for games where I'd like to root for both sides is to put my stock in the team that's having a better season, and is more likely to end up in the playoffs. (And it's less stressful to not be rooting for the underdog.) Guess that's the Patriots this game.

Oh yeah...don't forget to set your clocks back if you haven't already. Oddly, my cellphone hasn't picked up the change yet, and I'm pretty sure its getting its time from the network.

Lyrics of the Moment
The bells of Hell go ding-a-ling-a-ling, For you but not for me; And the little devils sing-a-ling-a-ling, For you but not for me; Oh death, where is thy sting-a-ling-a-ling, Oh grave, thy victor-ee? The bells go ding-a-ling-a-ling, For you but not for me.
--One day at Sunday School at Cleveland Temple they did an odd little skit thing with this song. The lyrics have stuck with me, either because of the fun of "the bells of hell go ding-a-ling-a-ling" or maybe the maliscous joy of "for you but not for me"...guess it's a schadenfreude kind of day all around.

Toy of the Moment
Sand is a cool little electronic toy. Little particles drift down, and you can draw in ledges and what-not. I had a little better luck with the windows download at first (plus you can resize it) but then the online java versions seemed to be fine, and had more interesting variations there from the sidebar.

Observation of the Moment
Huh. I think I finally found a use for SPAM...it's such a reliable flow, that when it stops coming, it might be time to double check that everything's ok with your email account...

rainy wet saturday

October 26, 2002
Quote and Snarky Comment of the Moment
[Muhammad] was a very normal, thoughtful, reasonable guy. He tried diligently to work it out. I don't know what people are supposed to do when they run up against a system where they are banging their heads up against the wall and there is no remedy.
I don't know what they're supposed to do either, but I suspect that it isn't "start killing people with a high powered rifle from the trunk of a specially modified Chevrolet Caprice".

Just a guess.

are you in, genius?

(1 comment)
October 26, 2001
Image of the Moment

click for fullsize
"Salvador Dali, In Voluptate Mors, 1944", a photographic collaboration between Phillipe Halsman and Salvador Dali. I have a T-shirt with the women-skull on it (oddly I can't find the link for that now though I bought it online). The skull also shows up in the poster image for Silence of the Lambs.

Quote of the Moment
You may be gone tomorrow, but that doesn't mean that you weren't here today.
I find that a very optimistic thought somehow.

I just met with the Birdabon Society. I had to promise we wouldn't hurt any birds.

Our caterer served chicken sandwiches for lunch.

I pretended to give mine CPR but I was really eating it.
--Pointy Haired Boss, "Dilbert"
Mystery of the Month:
How did this sparechange get into the lining of my jacket and how do I get it out?
I hate seeing coats and jackets on the back of coworkers' chairs. It bugged me when people wore them in church as well. Something low class about it, as if you might have to jump up and make a run for it at any moment.
Waiting to meet up with Dave Johnson at the Druid. A little over a year ago I was doing the same for Rebekah, sometime after that for Mo. Always writing on my pilot; in fact, it was writing in my pilot that lets me remember meeting Rebekah.  Though the dates with Mo were more memorable, in general.
On losing Daylight Savings Time:
Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. Well I say fuck 'em both.
Would I be a better person if I reserved swearing for special occasions? It's kind of a staple of modern speech.
dark stormy night boding poorly for the indians?-- yes 3-2 loss. There is no joy in mudville, nor justice in the universe, all the snow is in Colorado, not hell, and there's always next year. Fuck those punk-ass marlins.