February 24, 2021

German is Lego for words especially in these pandemic times.
Excellent point (from 1910) about Confederate Statues...

Elisha Hunt Rhodes at a GAR meeting. via
Ugh, I just found out something I have in common with that bozo Ted Cruz, we are both ok with canned soup. (Yesterday Melissa mentioned she does not share that ok-ness for her own eating.)

I just like it as an easy, known-calorie kind of savory thing...
It's just as much a "debodying" as it is a "beheading."
aguyfromhere, /r/showerthoughts

Hiking is an ideal structure for friendship.
I don't ever want to die in a way that is amusing to other people.
Fran Lebowitz recounting the downside of her Alaskan expedition to see bears.

from Joel Stein's "In Defense of Elitism: Why I'm Better Than You and You are Better Than Someone Who Didn't Buy This Book"

February 24, 2020
Regarding the push to remove Confederate memorials like this, Emma says, "The world is falling apart. I'm glad I don't have any grandchildren." It's the same overwrought despair I hear when my liberal friends say Trump's election, global warming, or racism makes them not want to have kids. I intuit a deep lesson here about human beings: they are not nearly as fond of children as they claim.

Elites feel the same way about college as non-elites do about church. Actually, we feel even more strongly because we lived inside our church for four years and our church got us drunk and laid.

A few other comments about the news make it clear that the main difference between the people of Miami[, Texas] and me is that they believe there is only one right and one wrong and they're always right, whereas I believe that there is a shifting, multidimensional matrix between right and wrong and I'm always right.

Rush Limbaugh declared the Four Corners of Deceit to be government, academia, science, and media. Sure, there's a logic flaw in being told not to trust the media by one of the most influential members of the media, but nerdily pointing out logical fallacies is exactly the kind of sneaky lawyer crap the media pulls.

When you give people too much information, they instantly revert to pattern recognition [...] An electronic world retribalizes man.
Marshall McLuhan

You do practice democracy for its own sake. It's not a tool you choose because it delivers more money, more happiness, or even more peace. You choose democracy because freedom, human rights, and self-government are moral goods. If those goods have a price, we should be happy to pay it.

The world never loved perfect poise. What the world does love is commonly absence of poise, for it has to be amused. Napoleans and Andrew Jacksons amuse it, but it is not amused by perfect balance.
Henry Adams
Explains Trump and maybe Bernie Sanders. Not sure about Obama though, who was always well-poised.
Sacred history is not history, dude. It's the equivalent of saying there's proof that George Washington never told a lie. Because he cut down a cherry tree and told people about it.
Reza Aslan, religious studies scholar on the movie and book "The Case for Christ"

February 24, 2019

Every marriage tends to consist of an aristocrat and a peasant. Of a teacher and a learner.
John Updike, "Couples".
It was cited (by a kind of evil, womanizing jerk) in "Russian Doll" but I didn't recognize it, even though I see I had highlighted it when I read the book. Anyway, it's been on my mind since I heard it referenced in the series; it's tempting to try to use it as lens for past relationships, and the unrequited ones. But I guess actual healthy human relationships would have both people sometimes being teacher, sometimes learner, though it's not going to be quite an even split.

February 24, 2018

Today I had the honor of playing with the New Magnolia Jazz Band at the funeral for Madam Laguerre, a member of the local Haitian community.

I knew really little about the Haitian Creole in which the lion's share of the service was conducted... looking up the Wikipedia page, they cited some proverbs I liked:
"Apre bal, tanbou lou"
"After the dance, the drum is heavy"
i.e. There are consequences to your actions
"Dan konn mode lang"
"Teeth are known to bite the tongue"
i.e. People who work together sometimes hurt each other
"Ravèt pa janm gen rezon devan poul"
"A cockroach in front of a chicken is never correct"
i.e. Justice will always be on the side of the stronger
"Si ou bwè dlo nan vè, respèkte vè a"
"If you drink water from a glass, respect the glass"
"Tout moun se moun"
"Everybody is a person"
i.e. Everyone matters
"Bouch granmoun santi, sak ladan l se rezon"
"The mouth of the old stinks but what's inside is wisdom"

jokes to the left of me, jokes to the right of me...

February 24, 2017
Predisposed was a pretty good book about how pervasive the fundamental difference in mindset that produces liberals vs conservatives are - you can take the left/right spectrum 20 questions from the appendix via an online quiz I made a few days ago. Here are some interesting quotes from the book:
Across a range of topics, the mean responses of liberals consistently favored the new experience, the abstract, and the nonconforming. Conservatives just as consistently favored traditional experiences that were closer to reality and predictable patterns. Conservatives, for example, preferred their poems to rhyme and fiction that ended with a clear resolution. Liberals were more likely to write fiction and paint, or attend a music concert. Experimental, arrhythmic verse, amorphous story lines, and ambiguous endings just do not trip the triggers of many conservatives and, perhaps relatedly, they are less likely to be performers, a fact that is all too apparent from the announced political affiliations of comedians, rock stars, and Hollywood actors.
Young found that this individual tendency toward hard or soft categorization--the tendency to take what we see and divide it into clearly labeled and separated mental boxes or, alternatively, to opt regularly for the mental equivalent of a catchall kitchen drawer--turns out to be a pretty good predictor of political temperament. Liberals are more likely to be soft categorizers and conservatives hard categorizers.
From the conservative perspective, referring to a set of findings and claims as "just a theory" could hardly be more damning; it bespeaks an absence of certainty that is troubling, especially if someone is proposing big and expensive changes on what is taken to be little more than debatable conjecture. To liberals, theories, even if dissent is present and i's are left undotted and t's uncrossed, are much more valuable--the weight of current scientific evidence is likely good enough for them and future modifications to knowledge (look, a new bean!) are more likely to be taken in stride. "The great thing about science is not that it is right but that it can be wrong."
A common question we get when people learn that our research deals with the biological differences of liberals and conservatives is whether one ideology is "more evolved" than the other. Typically, liberals are eager to be told that conservatives are some type of antediluvian life form and conservatives are equally eager to learn that liberals are at odds with the natural order. Sorry to disappoint, but this type of question is silly.
The human nervous system is complicated 8 and includes sensory systems, which rely on specialized neurons to detect things like light, pressure, temperature, and motor systems, which make possible everything from locomotion to nose picking.
As Shankar Vedantam points outs, "no one intuits the presence of a neurotransmitter."
Liberals seemed more amused by, "I almost had a psychic girlfriend but she left me before we met," or "I planted some bird seed... a bird came up... now I don't know what to feed it," while conservatives preferred puns or jokes such as, "You know you're in trouble when at the control tower there's a note taped on the door that says 'back in 5 minutes.'"
I don't know about conservative joke (I feel like it would be funnier if it was on the cockpit door?) but that psychic girlfriend one is pretty good.

February 24, 2016


Some of my coworkers scoffed at how many browser windows I tend to have open - I use tabs a lot, but I tended to have a ton of browser windows too--

Starting today, not anymore! In OSX I mapped it so cmd-n no longer opens a new window, I have to cmd-shift-n like I MEAN it, and in general I'll try to keep it to just one window per browser.

I think my old habit was a hangover from my Windows 95 through Windows 7 days; each browser window could have its own button on the task bar, and I kind of leveraged "physical memory" to keep track of what was where. OSX is much more app-not-window centric - every app puts its menu at the top, and only has a single entry in the dock. Limiting how many windows I have open is less "against the grain" of how its use.

Actually, this switch feels like could be a reinvigorating lifehack, a way to lose the clutter of lots of windows. Each browser has a single row of tabs, so it's almost like a thermometer reading of how distracted I'm letting myself be...

February 24, 2015

Practicing Islam in short shorts... As always I think the struggle is best seen in terms of fundamentalism vs being more balanced. I guess I worry about faith in general is that it feels like its potential to help fundamentalism can outweigh its more general benefits to humanity.
On some level I kind of appreciate that my company's first aid cabinet contains a small shaker of Morton's Salt. (Or is it just me who thinks of "salt in the wound"?)
One of my favorite parts of the Oscars this year were the (sometimes animated) title cards made up -- here's their story

February 24, 2014

Let me explain. For some of us, it is hard to hear 'I love you' - because to us, it suggests you don't know us as well as we'd hoped.

http://www.lostinmobile.com/ - heh, I've loved this little UK-based mobile/gadget blog for a while, and they promoted a longish comment I made (on a previous story about who is "more influential", Steve Jobs vs Bill Gates) into a top level story.
here's the comment:
In some ways it seems unfair, because the jury is still out on Gates, but certainly his foundation is out to make some awesome change.

In terms of "computers to the masses"-- the thing is, maybe there's more a feel of inevitability of what he did? IBM decided to make a "Personal" computer, risking their golden goose of big hardware to make sure they didn't get left behind home computers. (Which, come to think of it, was primarily the Apple II) Gates was savvy enough to catch that train with super clever licensing of someone else's DOS... but someone would have done that if he didn't? Similarly, it seems likely some form of Xerox -> Macintosh WIMP interface would have gained traction in the 90s on PCs even in a Gateless world.

So looking at what Gates did, it was that clever licensing where he could make money selling DOS to PC clone manufacturers... that was the world changing bit, perhaps? This was all in the wake of the Great Video Game Crash of 1983, which provided a window for Home Computers to really take off. But the Apples and Commodores and Atari 8bits (while running rings around PCs in terms of fun, graphics and sound) lacked the gravitas of IBM for business. So it was a combination of the reputation of IBM, Gates clever licensing, and good ol' free market competition on the hardware that pushed to make computers so ubiquitous.

But Jobs did more at the leading edge of technology -- all with a little (lot of) help from his friends. With Woz, the Apple II made the home computer happen. With Xerox, the Macintosh brought WIMP UI to the peoples. Jump forward 2 decades, and he made the next level of touch screen computing on ubiquitously connected devices occur. Jobs led Gates et al on all these things.

From the first world perspective then, Jobs without a doubt - if Gates hadn't existed, someone would have done most of the same stuff, but Jobs changed things with a personal vision and sense of design. (who knows, maybe a world where IBM clones hadn't strangled the market in the 80s and 90s, with a richer variety of products from Amiga and Atari and others, would have been cooler?) From a global perspective, the Gates Foundation will really help more people, with the focus on medicines and education. So is that "influential"? Maybe. Mostly it was one great idea, licensing the software so the hardware could have competition, that made him a ton of money, and that he then turned into helping people.

(Side note, it's interesting thinking of that summary and, say, the launch of Windows 95, and the INSANE amounts of testing of Win 3.1 software they did, and the hacks they put in place, to ensure that no one would have "well my program doesn't work on the new system" as an excuse not to upgrade. That was a consequence of "Microsoft on All Hardware". It's also important to remember how untouchably powerful Microsoft seemed in the late 90s, that they had enough cash to buy anyone who seemed like a threat. Luckily, they never saw the threat the Internet would be...)

February 24, 2013

via Bill the Splut:

Inbox and Todo List Zero! More or less. With the new job and new social life, I feel like I've been more at risk for catastrophic disorganization as of late.

happy 500th episode simpsons!

February 24, 2012


best use of snow ever

February 24, 2011

Watched scifi classic "Silent Running". Drama: good, if hammy. Robot buddies: cute. Scifi premise: strained. Joan Baez songs: awful.

Maybe the best part was the skilled botanist's huge reveleation: TREES NEED SUNLIGHT!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifteen_puzzle The way a "15" sliding tile puzzle can BE in a tough-to-detect, unsolvable state is why I prefer creativity/mechanic/play in games to "challenge". RATE YOUR MIND PLA
The one function TV news performs very well is that when there is no news we give it to you with the same emphasis as if there were.
David Brinkley

I love how Drudgereport's #1 headline is a YEAR OLD story where Gadaffi said nice things about Obama-Way to cherrypick and fake relevancy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKfKtXYLG78 - beautifully geeky movie about computer language Erlang - all the phone picking up is oddly amusing.

no show snowshow

February 24, 2010

--to quote RStevens, "Gotta love living on the East Coast sometimes. Otherwise, it's time to tie a noose." I'm just amazed how Boston might (MIGHT) dodge yet another big snow.
http://zenhabits.net/2010/02/ace-exams/ I'm fortunate in doing much of this kind of connection making intuitively - hides how smart I'm not.
Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody.
Benjamin Franklin

I definitely go into avoidance behaviors when starting things. Starting is the hardest part, whether it's a program or a book or anything else. On the other hand, sometimes you remind yourself, 'Come on Josh; you've been doing this for three decades now, you know how to do it as well as most other people, so just go for it.' And you just sort of have to remind yourself that, 'Look, pretty much every other time you've tried to do this the results have been good, so they're probably going to be good this time too.
Joshua Block, Google's Chief Java Architect and author of 'Effective Java'.
Man, if HE can feel that way, maybe I shouldn't feel so bad when I do as well.
3 Dollars, 384 Quarters, 257 Dimes, 138 Nickels, 423 Pennies = $135.83 of Amazon goodness, from a not very big change jar.
Reading "Coders at Work" reminds me of how much I don't know in programming land. Need to get on that.
http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2010/02/the-nonprogramming-programmer.html - though if I start feeling too bad about myself, I kind of console myself my how many people I've interviewed who Just Can't Code. Or, at least not during an interview! That link has a link to a neat tool to have a virtual shared textarea so you can run a coding exercise during a phone screen...
DD's Triple Chocolate Donut (cake,frosting,chips) is unambitious- should get cream filling w/ chocolate wafers for slamdunk quintuple...

hot tin roof on a cat

(1 comment)
February 24, 2009
--No Cats Were Harmed in the Making of this Comic. (Or the first time I made it for Tufts Zamboni in like 1993.)

Tax thoughts for new programs... A billion is a bit over $3 a citizen, $9 or $10 per taxpayer, or so. Multiply by 1,000 for a trillion.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1039130 - Catherine Bowman says the poet Jack Gilbert says it's only possible for a person to fall in love four times in a lifetime. Him reading "The Forgotten Dialects of the Heart" is lovely, lovely.
I might be stupid but I kind of don't get why the consumer confidence index dropped in Feb. Things are bad, but that much worse?

i don't understand how the last card is played / but somehow the vital connection is made

February 24, 2008
Aargh, my server here on kisrael has been giving me so many "connection refused" messages as of late. It's driving me nuts.

Poem of the Moment
Let me cook you some dinner.
Sit down and take off your shoes
and socks and in fact the rest
of your clothes, have a daiquiri,
turn on some music and dance
around the house, inside and out,
it's night and the the neighbors
are sleeping, those dolts, and
the stars are shining bright,
and I've got the burners lit
for you, you hungry thing.
"The Love Cook", Ron Padgett

we all tube for youtube

(1 comment)
February 24, 2007
So, I made a few movies with my camera as well this trip; mostly wildlife as it turns out. Nothing too amazing, but I'm grateful youtube makes them easy to share.

the power of a swedish library card

(1 comment)
February 24, 2006
Old News of the Moment
This weekend, nine people, including a homosexual, an imam, a journalist, a Muslim woman and a gypsy, will be available at the Malmoe Library (in Sweden) for members of the public to "borrow" for a 45 minute conversation in the library's outdoor cafe.
Such a nifty idea!

In other news I've been meaning to post, life in Al Qaeda is surprisingly mundane. Well, I guess at least an organization so out to make martyrs doesn't have to worry about a good retirement plan, but they do have vacations and sick days.

Tool of the Moment
I made another specialty tool, blackspace. Kind of like some of the other tools it's basic text manipulation... in this case, return whatever text you enter into it with all the blank (whitespace-only) lines stripped out. (I was working with the output source of a coldfusion script with tons of gratuitous linebreaks, so needed a way of clearing them out.)

Again, not changing the world with sheer usefulness, but makes my life a bit easier at the moment and in the future, at least if I remember that it's there. I like it more than she does, it seems.

thinking of you

February 24, 2005
Love Poem of the Moment
the other night
after eating chili
i ripped a pretty good one.
i lifted the blanket
to trap your head
and remembered
you weren't there.
i miss you.
A little too late for Valentine's Day, mercifully....as Keeper of the Blender I get a big kick out of this stuff

Howto of the Moment
How To Take Great Photographs. Your camera does not matter.

FOLLOWUP: in today's comments Max suggests Take Better Photos as a friendly and more-readable site...but warns to say "No" if it offers to install any software/spyware.

best of times, worst of times, blah blah blah

February 24, 2004
What an odd day yesterday was. I took a half day from work, went to downtown Boston, and signed to have the house refinanced in my name. With a bit of luck, that means I'm sitting on a pile of money. Came home, Peterman called, wanted to leave his truck over here during his two week vacation in Hawaii. I didn't know he was going to Hawaii, but sure, whatever. (Actually the driveway here is a bit of a parking lot, with Peterman's truck and Jane's(slightly delayed from returning from her Africa trip) car. So took him back to Cambridge, and then had a hell of a nice dinner at Carambola with Rob Baum, an old buddy from Event Zero days. Funny guy; just this dry sense of humor, sometimes we can get this great patter going over a meal. So came back home, decided to add one feature to JoustPong, got caught up in super difficult to diagnose bugs (My variables didn't. My constants weren't), and I was totally apoplectic. When I get like that, as frustrating as the 2600 stuff was, I figure it's also my way of raging at some other things in my life I'm not so happy with, but still.

Then to top it off, something in that mix totally threw off my personal Feels Like Forecast. At some point after going to bed but before waking up, I was totally willing to believe (hoping?) that the next day was a weekend. Very disconcerting.

Divorce is teaching me one thing though: pretty much every damn sidetable and furniture with shelves? Mo's.

Video of the Moment
Best. Commercial. Ever. Maybe I should just convince myself that I Feel Great. (Passed this around to some online buddies. Turns out it had already made the rounds, but still.) Sawers said someone described the commercial as cramming a Coen brothers film into 60 seconds and like, on amphetamines. Great music, lovely absurdist scenario, excellent acting... (actually, does anyone know if that music is from somewhere else?)

Quote of the Moment
I love the vast surface of silence; and it is my chief delight to break it.
Music, as personified in a monologue by Danish composer Carl Nielsen.

Amendment Hopefully Not of Any Damn Moment
"Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups."
When I heard it, I immediately thought that the second part rules out civil unions...apparently there's some debate on whether it does or not, what do you think?

Frickin' tyranny-of-the-majority populism...we shouldn't have let Southern Legislatures vote on their "peculiar institution" or on segregation, and this kind of civil right shouldn't be subjected to a popular vote either.

Fun Link of the Moment
Slashdot linked to The Toy Fair's Top 10 Strangest Products. Fun stuff...those "Blade Racers" look really cool.

but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines

February 24, 2003
Fable of the Moment
Once upon a time, there was a very special lemming named Norm. Norm was a born leader. His colony would do anything he did. Those who did "deviate from the Norm" were banished.
Then, one day, a grave danger threatened the colony: The weasels were coming! The calm resolve in Norm's voice stilled the rising tumult: "To the cliffs!" The colony followed him without hesitation.
And all were lost in the cold, cold sea. All except those who had refused to follow Norm...they were devoured by weasels.
Go ahead and blindly trust your leaders. We're all doomed anyway.
Paraphrased from a Time Egan 'Deep Cover' cartoon: ASAP's Fables: "A-Moral-a-Minute".

Game Theory of the Moment
Slashdot linked to a Slate piece about research on Game Theory at NASCAR...there are deeper strategies than you might think going on as they go around and around and around and around, but still, I think the main reason people watch is the hope that somebody crashes and not the deep brinkmanship going on.

Sidebar Commentary of the Moment
Hrrm, I wonder if Dylan might be pregnant.

Exchange of the Moment
"Are you suggesting even if we find Mr. Amrine is actually innocent, he should be executed?"
"That's correct, your honor."
Judge Laura Denvir Stith and prosecutor assistant state attorney general Frank A. Jung
From this NY Times Article. Woohoo! The death penalty rocks!

latest batch of photos

February 24, 2002

the artless dodger

(1 comment)
February 24, 2001
There were a few tough questions, but they went unreassuringly unanswered.

"Mr. President," said a reporter with the BBC, "you have a meeting with Prime Minster Blair tomorrow -- "

"Correct," Bush said.

"There are some concerns in this country about the European plan for what they call a rapid-reaction force, their own military capability. What will you tell Prime Minister Blair about the American attitude to this rapid-reaction force?"

Again, Bush didn't answer the question; it must not have been on his cheat sheets. "I, first, look forward to the visit," Bush said. "I'm anxious to meet the prime minister. We've had a couple of good conversations on the telephone. I'm thankful that he's coming across the -- actually coming down from Canada -- but coming across to see, to visit us. Laura and I are looking to having a private dinner with he and Mrs. Blair Friday night. We'll be having a press availability after our meeting, and -- "

"I know, but I think a lot of people would like to -- "

"Well, why don't we wait until after he and I visit," Bush said, "so I don't have to give the same answer twice."

"But just on the whole outline of the question of the European defense capability -- "

"You bet," said the president. "I understand; you're trying to get me to tell you the answer twice. Britain and the United States have got a special relationship; we'll keep it that way. I look forward to talking to the prime minister about the importance of NATO. It is -- anyway, let me visit with him first. I promise to call upon you tomorrow."

An informal poll of White House reporters indicated that 100 percent were confident Bush had absolutely no idea what the BBC reporter was talking about.

Yet Another 'Priceless' Parody

Mares eat oats
and does eat oats
and little lambs eat ivy

And we eat them.
--Edmond Conti
Ben Franklin's "Fart Proudly" book
Sleep seems to becoming more of an important part of my life.  Even though I'm remembering more of my dreams, it's hard not to feel like sleep is a wasted third of my life.