November 13, 2018

You may live to see man-made horrors beyond your comprehension.
Nikola Tesla

Had a dream the other morning, I was in a trolley or something, with passengers, and as it rolled backwards time was reversed outside the tracks, and I had fun narrating how things were happening differently; rain was falling up from the ground to the clouds, birds flying backwards, etc. The hardest thing to explain was light; it seemed so weird that things were just illuminated and sending photons back to the sun that it made me think light and time were deeply connected.
You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!
Jesus (Mark 7:9)
There is a big and sometimes weird disconnect between White Jesus in the Good Ol' USA and the actual scriptures...

We must acknowledge once and for all that the purpose of diplomacy is to prolong a crisis.
Spock, "The Mark of Gideon"

Enjoying doing techie things while re-watching "The Office". I had forgotten in "Casino Night" (first time Jim kinda confesses feelings to Pam) she's wearing one of those green/purple shimmer dresses I so dug on a friend in high school (actually the gal I ended up going to prom with)

Yeesh. Unless Google is lying to me because it knows I like my own blog, it might still be the number one hit for "perpetual nostalgic", a kind of mangling I invented 20 years ago.

personal growth "quickies"

November 13, 2017
My big personal growth / philosophical questions right now:
1. How does one recognize personal growth? At what point can an extrinsic improvement in behavior be safely or at least reasonably considered an intrinsic improvement in character? (AA says that even for people who by and large fix their lives, "once an addict always an addict" - given on how many fronts backsliding can happen, that while skills improve hardly anything becomes effortlessly graceful, I wonder if my intuitive skepticism about personal growth has some backing to it, or if everyone recognizes that but still finds these word games helpful)
2. Would more equanimity lead to more apathy? Does the anxiety and irritation and frustration and ego that I'd like to get away from serve critical purposes in guiding my behavior towards better things? Is not feeling anger about things that are out of my control a form of maturity or giving up? Can cheerful reason carry the load of getting me to behave well and pursue worthwhile things that otherwise find their impetus in my discomfort and discomfort? (And if so, has this always been the case? Would I always have been as productive a person, or even more so, if I didn't carry these burdens? Should I try to help young people I might advise to also pursue this equanimity or is there even more of a risk they don't have the moral or intellectual framework to carry that load, and so should rely on good old appeal to authority and anxiety?)
3. I feel that my self is best represented not as a unified thing, but at least as two parts - the intuitive, emotional elephant and the rational, narrative rider at the very least. But, am I best thought of as only that 1-2 split? Or do I, like Whitman, "contain multitudes"? This problem is even more academic than the other two - I'm not sure if it makes a big difference if I have an inner child or inner children, if each neurologically-based impulse-generating can act like a persona or is just a thought thinking itself (or more exactly an emotion itself) and if my rational narrator, so quick to claim credit for being the truest me (but full of so many post-facto rationalizations for what I actually do) is a monolithic thing too? But it's something I'd love to know, so I can come up with more effective strategies of guiding the whole lot of them where I'd like to go.

So if anyone has the answers to those, let me know, otherwise I'll just be over here thinking for a while.
Christopher Mooney answering the Quora "How do people feel in their last minutes of life?":
I had a near death experience once, when I was pretty sure I was 20–30 seconds away from the end. Like, I mean, I was completely sure I was about to die.

I remember my feelings at the time, vividly. How could you forget.

1: I actually felt very calm. People are scared of death. But once you know it's happening, and you can't do anything about it, you find peace. It was actually one of the calmest, most peaceful moments I can recall in my life.

2: I was very very reflective. When you hear the stereotypes of "your life flashing before your eyes", that's exactly how I felt. I reflected on my life, and who I was, and if I could have done anything better.

3: It sounds funny, but I also really had this "well, this is just my luck!" kind of feeling. I actually found it kind of humorous. I was kind of laughing a bit, about how unlucky I was!

This experience, actually helped me find a lot of faith. Because, although I was an atheist at the time, I didn't actually feel like it was the end. I wasn't thinking in terms of my existence being over. I was almost feeling like I was just moving on from one part of my life, to the next.

I, kind of, had no fear, because I didn't think it was that big a deal? I know this sounds crazy, but all I can say is, that when the moment came, my mind was completely prepared for it. My brain kind of changed, and I understood everything, and was prepared for everything. It's almost like the human body/brain is completely prepared for it's demise, but you don't get to access this skill until you really need it?

malaysia 2016: batu caves and kl tower

November 13, 2016

When and Why Nationalism Beats Globalism. I'd prefer to be a citizen of the world myself, but we need to understand people who put nation over humanity. And sometimes there's something to be said for the view in the United States, there are many things we get right, and paths to improvement. Unfortunately the white-america first got this know-nothing elected.

November 13, 2015

...all houses matter

November 13, 2014

November 13, 2014
busy busy busy

calvinism and personal growth

(1 comment)
November 13, 2013
I just realized that a bit of philosophical and personal growth I'm trying to muscle through is recapitulating the whole Calvinism movement in the Protestant tradition. (No relationship, or not much, to Calvin + Hobbes)

The short version is this: I have trouble subconsciously accepting the idea that I will always have intrinsic value as a human -- it's a classic thing for smart kids (I think i need to read Carol Dweck's "Mindset" about fixed vs growth mindsets- ) where you think the important thing is Being Smart, or Being Good, and if you don't throw off enough signs that your smart or good, you risk being cast out or rejected somehow.

There's a weird parallel with (pardoning my oversimplifications here) Calvinism: a Calvinist believes there are the Elect, who are predestined to be saved, and everyone else, who won't be. This stands in contrast to (again, pardon oversimplifying) a Catholic way of being, where people's works and deeds are pretty important to directing one to heaven or hell, and getting forgiveness for the inevitable straying is very important.

You might think the Calvinists would then have a free and hedonic life style: either I'm saved or not, the die has already been cast, might as well party it up, and the Catholics would be prim and proper and on the straight and narrow, when in reality the opposite is more true... it feels like Calvinists are wanting to demonstrate their gratitude at being one of the elect (or maybe demonstrate they they are indeed in that number) by being uptight. Similarly, while Catholics have their own special blend of fear and guilt, they are often more comfortable with pleasures of this world, including drinking, gambling, and other visceral pleasures.

If the Calvinist veers from the straight and narrow, it might be them displaying they are irredeemably beyond saving. The Catholic point of view has a lot more room for making things right -- and there's a core there that's worth fighting for.

So I think somehow I internalized a Calvinist view, even as I don't hold with its supernatural origins, and actually find philosophically disagreeable. But I think now I'm finally reaching the point where I can think I have value as a person that will be there even when the telltales of Good Deeds and Smart Actions aren't there; the Deeds and Actions are the traffic, not the road signs.

November 13, 2012

from Zen Pencils, "cartoon quotes from inspirational folks:

to sleep perchance

November 13, 2011

--via cracked tumblr
On twitter I've been following @RealTimeWWII , breaking news from this day 72 years ago. What a scary and uncertain time!
on last night's debate It's fun that Republicans don't even have to pretend to know anything at this stage. Just say any fool thing that comes in their heads.

decordova and ova

(1 comment)
November 13, 2010
A few weeks ago Amber and I went to the deCordova sculpture museum and garden, a first for both of us.

confessions of an obsessive doodler

November 13, 2009

--Not unlike what I did - yikes, five years ago, right down to stylized dracula/wolfman/frankenstein/mummy, though this time I think I'll refrain from annotating every damn one. (Also it didn't scan too too well but I'm pleased with the 3Dness I got in that nose. I really have trouble with adding depth to anything I doodle.)

Man, five years! Chronologically that's more than college!

This reminds me I need to reinvigorate efforts to improve my doodle-upload mojo.
If Scott Joplin could have visited a century into the future, the most shocking part would be his music coming from trucks.

"You're more secure in your masculinity than I thought."
"Like a vault! Of testicles!" -- charting those Choose Your Own Adventure Books. Intriguing study in the shared history of many Generations-Whatevers...
Super congratulation to my Portuguese host Johnny who just defended her thesis and became a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine!
"Get your _____ on" (drink on, smile on, dance on) was to mid-00s what "It's All Good" was to the early-00s.
oh great, more Lusty Ladies and their precious thinky thoughts.

are you in, capable?

November 13, 2008
Bill the Splut posted an NYtimes article on mental health research. The crux of it from the article is:
Their idea is, in broad outline, straightforward. Dr. Crespi and Dr. Badcock propose that an evolutionary tug of war between genes from the father’s sperm and the mother's egg can, in effect, tip brain development in one of two ways. A strong bias toward the father pushes a developing brain along the autistic spectrum, toward a fascination with objects, patterns, mechanical systems, at the expense of social development. A bias toward the mother moves the growing brain along what the researchers call the psychotic spectrum, toward hypersensitivity to mood, their own and others'. This, according to the theory, increases a child’s risk of developing schizophrenia later on, as well as mood problems like bipolar disorder and depression.
There is something intuitive about this kind of analysis, which worries me, because it might way too facile -- it certainly jives with certain stereotypes of men and logic and women and emotion, maybe to too great an extent to be trusted.

Video of the Moment
--"Pork and Beans" by Weezer is kind of an interesting survey of popular viral videos. This page embeds most of the references, a few of which I had missed.

Envy of the Moment
"Capable," for sure. Mrs. Post racked up truly startling accomplishments—along with her best-selling guide, Etiquette (1922), she wrote six novels, scads of journalism, and a 500-page book on architecture; had a long career in radio; designed her own high-fashion clothes; endorsed everything from cigarettes to gingerbread; and built a 15-story apartment house that still stands at the corner of Madison Avenue and 79th Street in Manhattan. She lived in 9B, and her friends filled the rest of the building.
I am filled with envy; an apartment building filled with friends is my ideal living arrangement, the balance between personal spaces and communal merriment.
It's weird when I try to relocate my place browsing slashdot's front page; I realize stories that I decided to skip don't register AT ALL
Increasingly aware of how my brain prefers lots of shallow concepts over fewer deeper ones. I even see it in my OO programming preferences.
How much of the October downturn in consumer stuff is folks getting the bejeebers scared outta them by Wall St? (Spend it if you got it...)
Every few days my work laptop goes nuts and remaps most punctuation to foreign characters, so I switch the kbd to to "English(Zimbabwe)"


November 13, 2007
The video game magazine The Gamer's Quarter has message boards I've been hanging out at for a while now. They have an ongoing Share Your Banner thread where they solicit 500x100 video game related banners from people. 500x100 is an odd aspect ratio, and regulars on the site seem to like finding oddball and compelling screenshots and associated gaming materials.

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

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

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

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

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

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

my weekend and welcome to it

November 13, 2006
So this weekend I plowed through my 2004 entries and got 104 new quotes for my Quote-O-Matic viewer. Not quite so many gems, as far as I can tell, but some worthy entries.

Also I made an issue of the Blender of Love and did a little statistical analysis on what were the most popular categories for works. The feature page goes into more detail about each one, but here's a sorted summary:
Something Else 13411
Love Lost 1349
Love Found 948
It's Never Simple 892
Other Factors Interfere 437
Just Plain Admiring 408
'I Will Survive!' 396
A Metaphor 354
Confused 337
Lonely 318
Really, Really happy 285
Live for Today 283
Between Friendship and Romance 280
Still Life 253
Admiring From Afar 244
Love On The Net 113
Love Taking Away Freedom 103
Lonely But Happy. 101
Life as Second Fiddle 51
Mostly though I was proud of this chart:
It looks kind of like a rug.

Oh and Happy Birthday Ksenia!

Diplomacy of the Moment
The other week BoingBoing linked to this list of International Faux Pas, a topic that I've always found interesting, though the list wasn't quite as juicy as I had hoped. A bit later then BoingBoing linked to stories of American Soldiers making similar kind of cultural mistakes, even when they mean well. That last link is part of a Oral History of Reporting Iraq by the Columbia Journalism Review... they're still doling out the various chapters but it's some good stuff.

Book Review of the Moment
"How I Became Stupid" is a bad book. And I'm not the only person to think so. Note to self, don't fall for burbs like "A harmonious & surprising mixture of optimism and nihilism" again. Especially if the author is French.

heir jordan

November 13, 2005
Politics of the Moment
Taher Masri, a former Jordanian prime minister, told the Los Angeles Times that the attacks demonstrated that the U.S. invasion of Iraq had begun to seriously destabilize the Middle East. "Iraq was not the source of terrorism [before the invasion]," Masri said, "but now it has become exactly that."
So the jihadists who got experience in Iraq are now moving on to fight the bad fight in other places. Yay Bush and your goddamn war. You guys were so F'-in' smart.

Dirty-ish Political Joke of the Moment
George Bush has started an ill-timed and disastrous war under false pretenses by lying to the American people and to the Congress; he has run a budget surplus into a severe deficit; he has consistently and unconscionably favored the wealthy and corporations over the rights and needs of the population; he has destroyed trust and confidence in, and good will toward, the United States around the globe; he has ignored global warming, to the world's detriment; he has wantonly broken our treaty obligations; he has condoned torture of prisoners; he has attempted to create a theocracy in the United States; he has appointed incompetent cronies to positions of vital national importance.

Now, would someone please give him a blow job so we can impeach him?
Making the rounds, according to rec.humor.funny.

computer art of the moment

November 13, 2004
click to play
paintbars Source code //
Built with Processing

Just a bit of abstract kinetic semi-interactive art...I find it a little hypnotic. The paintbarsnakeguys are attracted to the center of the screen at first, as well as to the tail of one of the other paintbarsnakeguys. When you click with the mouse, they lose interest in the other paintbarsnakeguy and just go to where you're clicking...once you release the mouse button, they go back to their old behavior, but instead of the center, they're attracted to wherever the mouse last was.

I was actually trying for a different effect, recreating this old screen saver I had for Windows. I ended up liking this one more, though if I get the other one down I might post it as well. I really don't use color enough, in my art, maybe not in my life in general. I have mostly blue and green shirts because I know they look ok on me and that's about it...

War of the Moment
Icon Story, the desktop battlefield rages and in the end their can be only one...some really clever and playful use of the iconography found on most Windows XP boxes. I want a fighting game based on this! (via MELAS)

man of legos, woman of shampoo

November 13, 2003
So I keep hearing about that "Paris Hilton sex tape". Heh, I know something has changed on the web...all sites instantly go to monetize it. Whatever happened to this stuff being passed around for free?

The funny thing is...who cares? I mean talk about B-list celebrity...if it wasn't for her bizarre-but-cool name, I don't think anyone would be even marginally interested.

I really think a memorable name can be crucial to fame and success. I have a pet theory that "Yo-Yo Ma" would be about one fourth as well known without his name. (Not to take away from his talent, but what other orchestral superstars can you name off the top of your head?)

I guess you can take the concept to far. Hence: Yahoo Serious.

Essay Excerpt of the Moment
All known forms of kryptonian life have superpowers. The same must hold true of living kryptonian sperm. We may reasonably assume that kryptonian sperm are vulnerable only to starvation and to green kryptonite; that they can travel with equal ease through water, air, vacuum, glass, brick, boiling steel, solid steel, liquid helium, or the core of a star; and that they are capable of translight velocities.

What kind of a test tube will hold such beasties?

Obliquely referenced in flicks like "Mallrats", a famous thought experiment on the possibilities and perils of sex and reproduction between Superman and Lois Lane.

Link of the Moment
Heheheheh. Türme Von Hanoi, Towers of Hanoi. A kind of artsy fotonovela about a guy who watches 50 Euros disappear as it switches back and forth between Euros and Dollars.

Onion Article of the Moment
Heheh, again. A buddy pointed me to this Onion article that begins: In a turn of events the 30-year-old characterized as "horrifying," Kevin Widmar announced Tuesday that his mother Lillian has discovered his weblog. The line about "'close to 100' regular readers" and the age of the guy and the general situation definately struck home.

Hi mom. Uh, I wasn't...uh...really wanting to download that "Paris Hilton sex tape"...uh...

more than just bacon, mounties, and syrup

November 13, 2002
Video of the Moment
One of the few funny and smart Parodies of Apple's 'Switch' Ads is making the rounds...this from a guy who decided to switch to Canada. If it wasn't for the cold and uncertainty about the tech market, I'd be all over that place. The USA is just too big and bossy these days.

Funny of the Moment
Ranjit sent along Project Genesis Internal Corporate Correspondence - what if creation had been as badly managed as your last software project? A neat blend of corporate humor with some nice geeky details.

Quote of the Moment
My personal religion is what I practiced today: I swam nude across a pond.
Lynn Margulis, Professor of geosciences, U-Mass Amherst.
From a sidebar in a recent Wired article on Science and Religion. Specifically, how big bang theory really doesn't have better answers for "why is there something rather than nothing" than religion does. (I guess this ties in pretty well to the geek/theology vibe of the previous link.)

Metahumor of the Moment
Heh. Mad Magazine Onionizes the Onion. They make some good points, but actually it's not as funny as a typical issue of the Onion. (Like this unarticled headline from the latest one, "Ray Charles Signs Def Leppard Album". Heeheheeheh)

the foundation

November 13, 2001
So the Northern Alliance took Kabul as the Taliban skedaddled. I think the Taliban
Man Gets a Shave in Kabul
are going to try to regroup and hold their ground at some point, and we all have to hope that the Northern Alliance will be willing to be part of that "broad based government" thing, but still, it's said that the people in the city are celebrating. Of course, it's never good to look grumpy about the new power in town, but still, they're playing music and shavin' beards, things they just couldn't do when those "Students" (what Taliban means in Arabic) were in control.

Speaking of translations, I beginning to think "The Foundation" would be a better translation of "Al Qaeda" than "The Base". And not just for the possible Isaac Asimov Foundation Trilogy connection. Also stuff like Knight Rider...they had the Knight Foundation, right? I think "The Foundation" more clearly tells us how they see themselves, and fits in well with the idea of them as kind of terrorist Venture Capitalists. (Asimov connection link via Bill the Splut)

Link of the Moment
I liked this work by Niem (currently enjoying his memepool rush...check out the other works in the archive), Ranjit pointed me to this Tom the Dancing bug.

Just saw Dogma. Mo liked it more than I did. For me, it had far too much talking head "theological backstory". Still I'm glad movies like this are getting some play.
Maharaja Bhupendra Singh of Patiala (1670-1733)-365 wives
     Once said, "wine, fish, meat, alcohol and plenty of sex was good for the soul." A toweringly handsome Sikh with a colorful personality, he was famed for his sexual prowess and appetite and forever on the lookout for pretty women, even going so far as to kidnap them when they refused his overtures. Every evening he would light 365 lanterns around his palace, each with the name of one of his wives inscribed on it.
     The wife whose lamp went out first would be his for the night. For leap years, he'd take the night off.
          --World Sexual Records,
Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923)1,000
     A tireless French actress, Sarah went through more than 1,000 lovers in her colorful life, many of them famous writers and artists. She once observed, "It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich." Sarah often slept in a rosewood coffin lined with letters from her lovers.
--World Sexual Records,
And so I'm leaving
You can find out how much better things can get
And if it helps
I'd say I feel a little worse than I did when we met
(So when you find someone else
You can try again,
Might work next time)
          --Dar Williams, "As Cool As I Am"
Are Honda Civics the VW Bugs of the 90s? (Charles' suggestion.) They aren't that cheap, distinctive looking, quirky or home repairable, but there is some car karma in common.  Maybe *used* Civics do better at overcoming the gap set up by decades of difference in the auto industry.