January 24, 2023

Looking at my blog, I noted John Conway's death in 2020, but I'm not sure I realized it was COVID-related. (Also I'm haunted by not being sure if I had forgotten about his passing when I read Genius at Play in 2022) But also I may have missed this touching xkcd tribute:
Unsurprisingly, no "artistic license" to make the glider, that's following basic Life rules... damn it Randall, you are so smart yet heartfelt.
Haha, just won a geeky bet from my buddy Elio that the "dewback" (giant ride-able lizard seen with some stormtroopers on Tatooine) was in the original movie, and not an addition in the updates.
I was pretty confident because I had had the toy of it, and while it doesn't get much screentime I had a feeling it wasn't the kind of toy they would have added on (ala the mini-rigs) - like I think Imperials would be more likely to use walkers or droids.

Open Photo Gallery

Which reminded me of the "luggabeast" from the first of the 3 sequels - I didn't quite catch on that it was kind of a biological / mechanical hybrid.

January 24, 2022

I wonder if the Wordle word of the day is randomly selected or picked by hand? 'Cause I really feel like today's was chosen to shake off some of the most common starters.

Wordle 219 6/6

Fowler Schocken Associates; good afternoon; it's *always* a good afternoon for Fowler Schocken Associates and their clients. May I help you?
Switchboard Operator in Pohl and Kornbluth's "The Space Merchants"
"The Space Merchants" is an old-school scifi book about an advertising-based future dystopia... prescient on a number of things. That little obsequious blurb often rattles in my head when I hear "good afternoon" or "good morning".
18 Charts that Explain the American Economy...

Open Photo Gallery

January 24, 2021

RIP Larry King

January 24, 2020

Edgar Allan Poe once argued that a certain chess-playing "machine" had to be fraudulent because it did not always win. If it were really a machine, he argued, it would be perfectly logical--and therefore could never make any mistakes! What is the fallacy in this? Simply that there is nothing to prevent us from using logical language to describe illogical reasoning. To a certain extent it's true that machines can do only what they are designed to do. But this does preclude us, once we know how thinking works, from designing machines that think.

When do we actually use logic in real life? We use it to simplify and summarize out thoughts. We use it to explain arguments to other people and to persuade them that those arguments are right. We use it to reformulate our own ideas. But I doubt that we often use logic actually solve problems or to "get" new ideas. Instead, we formulate our arguments and conclusions in logical terms after we have constructed or discovered them in other ways; only then do we use verbal and other kinds of formal reasoning to "clean things up," to separate the essential parts from the spaghettilike tangles of thoughts and ideas when they first occurred.

Marvin Minsky, "Society of Mind"
This is very simpatico with the "Elephant and the Rider" view. Rational thought is usually an after-the-fact assemblage (or rather, after-the-feel) to justify our actions and opinions to others, and also to ourselves.
So I used to always believe in the "time goes by faster as you age because each fixed interval is a lesser fraction of your life span thus far", but this article suggests it might be changes in the physics of the brain - roughly speaking our worn out old brains are just plain slower, and thus the real world is faster by comparison... (here's another article that covers that general idea and a few other theories...)

January 24, 2019

Whoa. WHOA. It is EASY TO FORGET that Mars is THREE LIGHT-MINUTES AWAY from Earth. Here is a scaled-in-space (but 1:1 in time) video of light traveling from Earth to Mars.

That is super mind-blowing. And - if you'll pardon me playing fast and loose with my layman understanding of physics - in some ways, stuff outside your light cone effectively hasn't happened yet. Seemingly common-sense concepts such as "events happened simultaneously" (Fnarr Fnarr) are not well-defined - and even in something as "small" as our solar system (A snapple cap I saw today: "There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on earth") you can "see" the effect of lightspeed not being instantaneous.

Hell - I'm sort of glad we can see relativistic effects, like where atomic clocks orbiting the earth drift in terms of time, because otherwise I'm not sure I'd really believe that time is less of a "thing", more of a byproduct, if you know what I mean. And if you do, please explain it to me.

(Kottke has some more views of light moving and our planet)
It was on the outskirts of this city that she saw the butterfly. A single white butterfly, wings folded on a reed bed, one November morning. No butterflies had been seen since summer, where could this one have been hiding? The air temperature had plummeted in the previous week, and it was perhaps on account of its wings frequently freezing that the white color had been leached from them, leaving certain parts close to transparent. So clear, they shimmer with the black earth's reflection. Only a little time is needed now and the whiteness will leave those wings completely. They will become something other, no longer wings, and the butterfly will be something that is no longer butterfly.
Han Kang, from excerpts from "The White Book" published in Harper's Magazine

random therapy-ish thoughts

January 24, 2018
TL; DR: are our emotions as truly us as our thoughts??... also... are our inner children all Tommy Pinball Wizards?

1. Lately I've been trying to chart down my willingness to be a bit of a martyr; I think it has some roots with my "OCD about being 100% factually reliable" (i.e. making it very clear how definite or unsure I am of any simple fact.) Subconsciously I feel as if my personal preferences have zero weight in the world, or at least, they have zero ability for self-justification; so if there's an (objectively reasonable) sacrifice I can make to stop an external, observable situation from going to shit, I am morally obliged to make that sacrifice.

2. Somewhere I've honed abilities to curate many emotions... so that they inappropriate or not-completely-objectively-justifiable feelings get weeded out very early. Other feelings (especially around fixed-mindset/ego-protection "better to not try and not succeed than swing and miss and lay bare my limitations") are more resilient, sadly.... along with impulse control for sweet and tasty things

3. That brings me to thinking about my "inner child"... Or to use another metaphor, the Elephant of my subconscious, emotional, movement life vs my Rational, narrative self. Since my 20s I've tried to grow beyond thinking of my inner-voice, narrative self as "me" but I don't know if I fully believe it, if I really grasp every subconscious process as being as "truly me" as my ability to recollect and consciously decide thing. Or - this just occurs to me now - I act as if my EMOTIONS aren't as valid, nor as "truly-me", as my THOUGHTS.

But maybe some of the problem is that "inner-child" is living a bit of a Helen-Keller world? Like possibly it doesn't have full access to the sensory input my narrator-self does - or maybe just lacks the linguistic framework to hang ideas off of, and so lives in a much less finessed world. (Reminds me a bit of Tommy the Pinball Wizard, that Deaf Dumb and Blind kid sure plays a mean pinball!) This kind of thing might be why affirmations seem so dumb and repetitive, that that's the kind of training and communication an inner-child needs because of those sensory gaps.

4. Finally... reading about Sweden's lifestyle philosophy of moderation called Lagom. Lately I've been thinking about how little in the West- especially the USA, I think - encourages moderation and balance for its own sake. If something is good, then why isn't cranking it up to 11 better? In practice, many people find their own moderation in, say, religion - but I think it's a serious loss that my evangelical heritage really doesn't stress that as a property - this life can feel like an admission exam for heaven or hell, so how can any earthly pursuit truly matter? That's why I built up my ability to objectively rationalize, I think younger me hoped he could lawyer is way out of hell...

FOLLOWUP: On Facebook Dachary said:

The inner child musing reminds me of a tool a therapist gave me ages ago. Because it’s sometimes difficult to surface subconscious thought processes, he had me use a journal and write out questions with my dominant hand and write responses with my non-dominant hand; the theory being, the other brain hemisphere is getting a chance to communicate directly.

I will say it surfaced a lot of things I wasn’t really aware of. The therapist had me write responses with my dominant hand, and “care” for my inner child - I.e. acknowledge thoughts and concerns, respond to them in a loving way and sort of try to rationally reach out to these subconscious knee-jerk types of things. At the very least, it helped me better respond where some things were coming from, and I believe it helped me resolve some things with my inner child.
It all reminds me how much of what I wrote is covered with Freud's Id/Ego/Superego division. (Also this point from the Wikipedia page on it: Figures like Bruno Bettelheim have criticized the way "the English translations impeded students' efforts to gain a true understanding of Freud."by substituting the formalised language of the elaborated code for the quotidian immediacy of Freud's own language." - the original German is more like "The It", "The I", "The Over-I". Latin gets in the way.
So beautiful....


"When you don't have money, but you have #Lego, imagination and determination."

January 24, 2017

longer video

January 24, 2016

Also by EBB2 (age 6 1/2):

I appreciated her selection of complementary colors...

January 24, 2015

Trudging to Alewife through the snow, I saw and heard a small flock of geese fly one way and then the other. They seemed lost.
Unrestrained randomness would make your games impossible to play, so you need to control it.
from the Batari BASIC instructions

January 24, 2014

My weight, over the past 15 years:

I'm nearing the 190 milestone. I did this a year and a half ago, and I admire my optimism from 2006... oh, I'll just lose 40 lbs then, talk to my doctor.

So I'm proud of myself for reigning this in-- and over the past 3 or 4 months (including the holidays) I've lost 10 lbs, which isn't that impressive but the 5:2 fasting that powered it feels like a sustainable plan.. (It's always social eating that gets me; when I'm in hermit mode, my laziness helps me make better decisions.) Still, even though I'm 35 lbs less than my all time high... somehow it doesn't feel all that different. I can't swear that I feel that much better, or look all that different... it feels like more of a numbers game.

January 24, 2013

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How cold was it? My iced coffee (yeah yeah) was literally refreezing on the 5 minute walk from the T stop to my office.
Meanwhile on the Internet...

hey einstein!

January 24, 2012

People slowly accustomed themselves to the idea that the physical states of space itself were the final physical reality.
Professor Albert Einstein
I grew up with this cartoon in one of those big New Yorker compendiums. I'm still not sure I really know what the quote fully means, but it came up in my UU "Science and Spirituality" group reading. It's intriguing how the concept of relatively might've influenced some of the post-modern, "there is no objective stance" pop-culture thinking that came later.
Enjoying a Jr Sized Frosty from Wendy's, gotta use that booklet of 10 I bought before Halloween before February...
Man, screw AT+T and iPhones. If the service actually is "Searching", say so. #attfail

space the fashion frontier

January 24, 2011

via madamluna
http://www.slate.com/id/2281854/ - the power of precommitment
Aww, RIP Jack LaLanne. I'm still tempted to buy his juicer.
http://www.donothingfor2minutes.com/ - not really that difficult!

this too shall pass

January 24, 2010
--OK GO - you can get the MP3 of the this (marching bandified) version from joining their mailing list at OKGo.net.

BoingBoing exlains why the Youtube version can't be embedded. Weak.

Damn but I love Marching Band.
Amber noticed the NY Times is "VOL. CLIX" (volume 159) - CLIX is a nice Roman Numeral.
Funny how my Giant Laptop and little iPhone have the same black glossy rounded styling, it's like one is a shrunk down version of the other.
It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.
James Thurber

the apple of tomorrowland

January 24, 2009

--"iPhone predictions" slideshow. (Back when it was still the "jesusphone" It's funny how Apple really inspires people to put on their "Jr. Designer" hats and come up with these concepts, some of these mockups are pretty real looking, even the clearly silly ones.

Current rumors are future iPhones are going to small (the iPhone Nano, which I guess might not make it here) or large (the "new Newton" dream.) The thing is, I'm not sure if Apple's kind of touch screen tends to be good for drawing. (On the other hand, JZ got a new macbook with the oversized touchpad, and that was actually not completely terrible for my kind of doodling.)

On a whim clicked on a spam link, turned out it was for Canadian RX. I like how there's "Viagra" and "Viagra Professional". WHO KNEW?
Zeno's paradox would be much more believable if he talked about sweeping dust into a dustpan instead of an arrow getting halfway to its mark

baby boom

January 24, 2008
So yeah, I'm reading the Bryson book. Right now I've been reading about what a small volume of the planet is appropriate for human life. He also points out about how we little we know about the ocean surface relative to, say, the moon.

One thought: we hear a lot about space travel, but really it's going to be tremendously difficult. I wonder if it will ever become useful to create undersea colonies? You would seem to have some protection if something happened to the magnetosphere, you have a lot more raw materials as well, access to geothermal energy, a potential source of oxygen, etc.

(It took me a while to recall that I had seen some version of this idea as the underwater city Rapture in the game Bioshock.)

Factoids of the Moment
You may not feel outstandingly robust, but if you are an average-sized adult you will contain within your modest frame no less than 7 x 1018 joules of potential energy--enough to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.
Bill Bryson, "A Brief History of Nearly Everything."
Please, please, PLEASE no one tell this to our president... suddenly he'd have his justification for throwing ANYONE in jail, never mind the folks at Gitmo.

Imagery of the Moment
--from this page of post-apocalyptic views of the Statue of Liberty-- mostly sci-fi, some comics and propganda... neat stuff!

star hop day 3

(1 comment)
January 24, 2007
Decluttering continues. You can tell I'm serious when I buy some kind of shelf like product, this time a sturdy ugly plastic set of shelves to replace the cool but ultimately unreliable modular cubes I had been relying on.

Quip of the yesterday, in an apology for the state of the rest of the apartment I described it as looking as if "the closet threw-up all over the front room. But now the closet feels much better."

Video of the Moment

--Final part, and bows.

I kind of dig both the brown squared off chair on the left and the big dark plastic M+M-like chairs on the right. Very space-age.

Silly injoke: "I always wanted to see the Nicholas Murray Butler museum on earth!" The previous year the drama club had done "Cheaper By The Dozen", and there was an odd line that we loved to mock, something about "Why, she even scored higher than Nicholas Murray BUTLER!"

During the bows I'm introduced as "Logan Israel"... for the 2 years at this school I used my middle name, kind of a teenage protest against moving all the time.

snakes on a plane!!

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January 24, 2006
A bit of the mundane life of Kirk; I'm not sure if it's my increased use of OSX and some of the paradigm shift it required, but I now don't have the immediate dislike of XP's "Group Similar Task Bar Buttons" option. I started using duing some stress-y times last week, when having a giant plethora of task bar buttons started to create a stress response.

Part of it is a kind of "letting go". In my old way of thinking, each task was some bit of activity context that I might want to return to...now I just try to take care of things before leaving that window, and most windows should be utterly disposable. There is a certain pleasure in right clicking on a taskbar group and clicking "Close Group" to remove a huge swath of windows.

It's kind of weird to even be thinking about this quite so much. And I'm not sure what to make of my own conservatism about changing my personal mental models to fit the technology I'm using....I guess it's like admitting my old models were inferior for the task at hand, or that ultimately computers aren't as flexible as we might like.

UPDATE: (yes, I'm still thinking about this. Damn, this is terrible blogging, just a step above "what I had for lunch today"...) Come to think of it, using more computers on a regular basis might also be part of this. It used to be I had two computers in my daily life, home and work. Now with a few laptops to choose from... you don't want to get too hung up on what windows you had hanging open on some other machine.

Oddness of the Moment
--On the plane to Dallas, Wired's coverage of the upcoming movie once called "Snakes on a Plane" had me laughing out loud. Mostly this "poster" and the wigu cartoon they included.

Quote of the Moment
Humor is just another defense against the universe.
Mel Brooks

today is like the day after "the day after tomorrow"

January 24, 2005
Man, that was some amazing snow. I was up with Ksenia for the whole weekend, her family who's she living with went on a ski trip, and she needed to hang around for her grandfather who's been having a bit of a respiratory thing lately.

The drifts were chest-high in places...and I have a pretty tall chest. It was one the first times I ended up thinking that the pre-storm "stock up on canned goods" staple was justified. I was still amused when we were in Stop and Shop doing more normal shopping and we found this monster, 28lb hunk of cheese sitting in the juice aisle:

I had to remove a lot of snow. My car was entombed in snow coming up to the bottom of its windows, here is the before-and-after of my semi-heroic shovelling efforts:
The photos don't always show what was going on too well, all that white-on-white action, but I had basically a whole car length of snow to remove that was blocking my car in, and then had to dig around it so I could actually, you know, get in and drive.

Finally, I came home today and had more shoveling to do, namely a big square a bit longer and a chunk wider than car itself, this time only from hip to stomach deep:

That's a lot of snow!


January 24, 2004
Online Toys of the Monet
Awesomely compelling Zip Code Explorer...it starts out with the entire continental USA lit, as you type in each digit of a 5-digit zipcode, the lights go out for everywhere except where the digits typed so far could apply to.

Actually, the website of Ben Fry, the designer, has something, interactive or just visually compelling, for everyone. :

Quote of the Moment
I must say I feel rather sad that today's children seem to get so much of the 'either-or' teaching. 'A girl is either smart or pretty.' 'A man can be either a top-flight technical person or a top-flight human relations person.' 'A woman can be a success at marriage, or at a career.' Such thinking seems to me basically wrong. Why not try to be both smart and pretty? Adequate both technically and in human relations? A success at both marriage and a career?
Ever since I was the father in that play in Middle School, I've had a soft spot for that amazing story. Mostly, I just wanted to say that "Adequate both technically and in human relations?" might just be the secret to my software development career thus far.

dylan's fan club

January 24, 2003
So, looking at the guestbook, Dylan and his sidebar have a few fans. I really like hosting his sidebar. It's a good synergy...he gets more readers than a random out there in cyberspace 'blog would have, and I get interesting content for my site. I copied the "about" link from the archives page unto the front page, next to the link for the archives, so people might get a clearer idea what we're up to. (Someone wondered if Dylan was just a different persona that I'd put on...nope!)

Toys of the Moment
The real fun comes when you put together a big enough set of blocks so that they start to exhibit fractal geometry, and the marbles actually roll through fractional dimensions and may come out inside-out, or disappear entirely, or have something subtly *wrong* with them that causes the family dog to growl and bark and try to shove the kids out of the room.
--Stefan Jones, on a BoingBoing.net message board, about the marble tracks in wooden blocks toy Cuboro.

Thoughtpiece of the Moment
An interesting, if long, Flash presentation trying to get at some of the meaning of Kubrick's 2001. It's in 4 parts...I thought the final part was a little goofy, but then again, so is the drawn-out ending sequence of the movie.

Prediction of the Moment
The world has arrived at an age of cheap complex devices of great reliability; and something is bound to come of it.
Great speculation about the future of mankind and technology; dead wrong in someplaces, stunningly right in others. Also, it seems to be one of the descriptions of hypertext. The Web ended up very different than his description, and sometimes for good reason, but still. Some folks are trying to make a Virtual Memex, the machine for sharing trails of connections between microfiched documents that Vannevar Bush describes.

Article of the Moment
New Delhi physicist Sugata Mitra sets up a 'Net connected computer in a slum in India and then see what happens. the results are pretty amazing; illiterate kids quickly gain a functional computer literacy and can do amazing feats of research. Mitra thinks 100,000 of these could be set up for about $2 billion; though I wonder if vandalism will ever be much of a problem. (This link is an interesting tie-in to that last Vannevar Bush Atlantic article.)

Grumble of the Moment
You have my permission to punch anyone who tries to argue that the recent cold snap somehow diminishes the chances that Global Warming is happening. Duhr, the environment is very complex, what we're seeing is more extreme weather...as attested to by the big increase in insurance claims for weather realted stuff over the last few decades. (Note: my permission is likely not sufficient to authorize random punching.)


January 24, 2002

--A tribute to, or ripoff (err, I mean artistic recreation that stands in its own right as its own artistic work) of Jenny Holzer's "truisms" piece.

power + putzes

January 24, 2001
Current Events
Bruce Sterling on 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackout, a piece on the utility mess in California. It really did a great job of answering all these "well, how did they let X happen?" and "so why don't they try Y?" questions I had. (on Feed, a smart piece every day or so.)

Joke of the Moment
Wife: You are SUCH a PUTZ! If they had a contest for putzes, you'd win second prize!
Husband: Why not first prize?
Wife: Because you're a PUTZ!

(Movie) Quote of the Moment
"You make me want to be a better man."
"That's maybe the best compliment of my life."
"Well, maybe I overshot a little because I was aiming at just enough to keep you from walking out."
Melvin Udall & Carol Connelly from From As Good As It Gets (1997), via the IMDB

"Funk is its own reward."
          --George Clinton
"Do you have any super powers?"
          "Of course I have super powers. I'm Schooly D."
"Display them!"
          "I can't do that."
"Why not?"
          "I'm not allowed to do it."
"So you mean you don't have any."
"So, the D stands for defenseless."
          --Space Ghost + Schooly D., Space Ghoast Coast to  Coast
"Let our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ save *you*- over 50% per month on long distance and international calls over 20 minutes!"