japan photos, march 2008

March 15, 2019
In 2008 I got to visit Japan and I made a photolog of the 2 weeks I was there. At the end I put a baker's dozen of the best photos in a single gallery on flickr, but I no longer trust third party sites, so I'm mirroring them here, today.
Sweet, real time snuff films by alt-righters on murderous rampages. Yay, technology.
Watching "Catastrophe" on Amazon Prime - glad Melissa found it, and concerned I almost missed it! - I've recommended the Sharon Horgan's "Pulling" (which she also co-wrote and starred in) to a lot of folks, a BBC Comedy that deserves more attention (love how it has a bit of the sex in the city vibe, and the main characters aren't just kind of horrible people but also bad at their careers, which is sort of rarity in tv land)

March 15, 2018

Footage from School of Honk meets Jon Batiste

March 15, 2017

From the NY Historical Society blog piece about a trend to get one's SSN tattoo'd-

what a look this guy has! And that long-limbed gal behind...

March 15, 2016

whoa, when did the green line start getting expected arrival billboards?
omg why the living holy hell does office take HOURS to install on a new Windows laptop. "We'll be done in just a moment" IS A DAMN LIE

March 15, 2015

Tongue is a tentacle. We have a tentacle in our mouth.

Recently a conversation with Derek gave me the idea of approaching the world with a kind of cheerful pessimism- assume that "a bit screwed up and annoying" is kind of the natural state of the universe, that things WILL be messed up, but generally not irretrievably so, and then be extra cheerful when the dice roll your way. "Lousy minor setbacks" that could otherwise be absolutely and inappropriately infuriating become almost soothing reminders that Murphy's in His Heaven and all's right, or wrong in the right way, with the world.

March 15, 2014

12th Century Kid's Drawings:

You know when you thumb-wrestle somebody who beats you and is wayyyyyy too into it? That's kind of what I imagine monogamy feels like.

WOW. Both sonically and thematically, I think this is where Harlem Shake was headed; the idea of a supernatural, infectious force spreading from a patient zero, breaking the continuity of time and space and granting superhuman powers that just overwrite everyday conventions for a goal of getting down. (Not explicit, not quite SFW)

More thoughts at Rolling Stone.


March 15, 2013
Recently I quoted this bit of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality at Sharon:
"The import of an act lies not in what that act resembles on the surface, Mr. Potter, but in the states of mind which make that act more or less probable."

Harry blinked. He'd just had the dichotomy between the representativeness heuristic and the Bayesian definition of evidence explained to him by a wizard.
I find it interesting because it's a counterargument to my usual modus operandi of taking everything at face value, because I'd rather not risk making a judgement that was false (and thus have my inner precocious child deal with the tragedy of being R-O-N-G WRONG)

I also like Harry Potter's reaction (in the fanfiction, he has been raised by Oxford Professor types and has a deep and abiding love for the scientific method and the culture that goes with it) to seeing McGonagall turn into a cat for the first time:
"You turned into a cat! A SMALL cat! You violated Conservation of Energy! That's not just an arbitrary rule, it's implied by the form of the quantum Hamiltonian! Rejecting it destroys unitarity and then you get FTL signalling! And cats are COMPLICATED! A human mind can't just visualise a whole cat's anatomy and, and all the cat biochemistry, and what about the neurology? How can you go on thinking using a cat-sized brain?"
Good stuff.
Am bummed about the Boston Phoenix. Even though I hardly ever read it. I don't know if that makes me part of the problem.
http://marketingland.com/samsung-galaxy-s-iv-36261 Some of the Samsung Galaxy features sound great, and they're trying new app-features in a way Apple hasn't in a while. Still (with the exception of "Air View" that could be a replacement for the "more information on hover" that most touch devices lack) the other Touchless Features (pause a video by looking away? Wave a hand to change music?) make me thinking of this prescient bit from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
A loud clatter of gunk music flooded through the Heart of Gold cabin as Zaphod searched the sub-etha radio wavebands for news of himself. The machine was rather difficult to operate. For years radios had been operated by means of pressing buttons and turning dials; then as the technology became more sophisticated the controls were made touch-sensitive - you merely had to brush the panels with your fingers; now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components and hope. It saved a lot of muscular expenditure of course, but meant that you had to sit infuriatingly still if you wanted to keep listening to the same programme.

I just noticed 'Portland' is trending on Twitter. I'm switching to Somerville, MA.

Me: Knock knock.
You: Who's there?
Me: God.
You: God who?
Me: And that's why you're going to hell.

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.
James Taylor. Man I wish Iiked the song better!

about the most amazing thing on youtube ever.

March 15, 2012

via. So good.

At first I thought it was tricks with UV lighting but I guess it must be stuff the guys are wearing... doesn't matter. Amazing. (At mgh someone said Team Illuminate did it earlier, but NBC keeps on taking down the links.)
http://kirkdev.blogspot.com/ - new on my dev blog, a simple endpoint data cache, with optional pubsub.
http://pastebin.com/aJQfubrK - THE ROAD NOT TAKEN by Harry Turtledove, nice quick sci-fi read; what if hyperspace was easy but we just missed it?

twentyfive ways of looking at a bat

March 15, 2011

So grateful for daylight savings time. It reminds me of how much life there can be after the workday.

short attention span theater

March 15, 2010
Increasingly, nowadays, the context for writing is a very short form utterance, with constant interaction. I worry that people will lose the ability to state a thesis in unambiguous terms and a clear logical progression. But because they'll be in instantaneous contact with their audience, they can restate their ideas as needed until ambiguities are cleared up and their reasoning is unveiled. And they'll be learning from others along with way. Making an elegant and persuasive initial statement won't be so important because that statement will be only the first step of many.
Let's admit that dialog is emerging as our generation's way to develop and share knowledge. [...]
If the Romantic ideal of the solitary genius is fading, what model for information exchange do we have? Check Plato's Symposium. Thinkers were expected to engage with each other (and to have fun while doing so). Socrates denigrated reading, because one could not interrogate the author. To him, dialog was more fertile and more conducive to truth.
The other week at my UU Science and Spirituality reading group, one of the members asked "could I make a request? Could you finish a sentence before starting another one?" And I know I'm a tangential thinker, but I also think it is a different form of communication based less on the monologue and more on the classic dialog. Still, I tried to mold my sentences to be a little more complete before I uttered them, and preweed the tangents.
Feed a fever, starve a cold. Lightly sup with rickets."
Animal Crossing: Wild World

new blender of love!

AT&T: drop it like it's hot, drop it like it's hot
Nature is cruel, but we don't have to be. We owe them some respect!
Temple Grandin (on cattle at the slaughterhouse)
from excellent HBO film - one of the best things I've seen this year
REQUEST ACCESS TO CLU PROGRAM CODE 6 PASSWORD TO MEMORY 0222 'Oh, man, this isn't happening, it only thinks its happening.'
Tron- still great! Can't wait for the sequel

bricklayer on the tower of babel

March 15, 2009
In early February I spent some time showing Leonard some parts of Boston. (Incidentally he and his wife Sumana are collaborating on editing Thoughtcrime Experiments, a very cool exercise in "best of the sci-fi 'slush pile'" excavation.)

The conversation was great and wide ranging-- Leonard's an author (both technical books and sci-fi) and that set a neat stage for some of our talk. (The mandate to write about the following has been haunting my Todo list for over a month.)

I feel like I have two problems with writing, and why I feel I'm so poor at coming up with plots:

The first is... I dunno, this air of "inevitability" I get when I read summaries of existing plots. I get this a lot when I read through TV Tropes (currently my favorite way of entertaining myself via iPhone.) It's an odd sense of fate, a feeling of "Es Muss Sein", it must be, this story could not be otherwise. So it was written, so it was done. (Maybe this creates the frisson I get from reading "alternate universe"/"elseworlds" type stuff) This sense creates a bit of writer's block in me, because I want to make something new, but I don't know how it has to be, and I'm worried I'm going to get it "wrong".

The second is a tendency to fall back to the same story/plot... I find myself inexorably drawn to the theme of people working on some corner of some great task, a task so monumental that none of them can really grasp it, and maybe none of them will see its completion. You really see this in the poem Bricks that I wrote in college, about a bricklayer on the Tower of Babel. (This may have been heavily influenced by a story from Omni magazine, a realistic account of the building of the Tower, and they hit the dome of the sky (holding back the deluge, the same used to flood the Earth in the Noah story)) It also shows up in Young Astronauts in Love.

There is a subtheme of this, the idea of being the "other man", the one doing some interesting artistic work, but the one who loses the girl and the fame to the real genius. I wrote a Loveblender ramble about that in 1997 (!), seeing it in both of the movies Henry & June and Backbeat:
What struck me about both films was the accomplishments of the 'supporting characters'. Both works end with texts going over the lives of the people portrayed. Anais' husband Hugo, portrayed as a loving but stifled banker, was an experimental film maker whose films are in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. Klaus Voormann, who loses his 'soulsibling' Astrid to the loose-cannon artistry of Stuart Sutcliffe, went on to create the cover to The Beatles' Revolver album (OK, not my favorite piece of album art, but still...) and played Bass in Lennon's Plastic Ono Band. To me, these ending texts are really the saga of the other men, the ones whose loves might've been the ones immortalized in film decades after the fact, if only fate had been different.
I guess it's not quite the same as the Tower of Babel plot, but they might spring from the same root, the acknowledgment that I'm not headed for greatness or cultural immortality, but the hope that I can contribute to some overall project and theme.

Leonard shared his "go to plot" with me, a melancholy "we had something nice, and it's nobody's fault, but it's all messed up now". We're not quite sure if this is the one he cited back in February, but it's a powerful idea, a kind of bittersweet failure of synergy. He uses it on a personal scale in Mallory and on a planetary/cosmic scale in an upcoming work about a planet of dinosaurs.

Does everyone have an overarching plot like this? A narrative that they find compelling above all others? Does it seem to spring from reality, or does it inform how you view the world you're in? (For many I think Religion tries to provide this for its followers.) It's the story you tell about yourself, it's the story that lets you make your own world, it's the story you use to make up new worlds.

So...what's your story?

Only what can happen, does happen.
Dr. Manhattan, in the Watchmen movie.
Compare to "Nothing unreal exists", part of Spock's re-education in Star Trek IV. Though JZ thinks it sounds more like the original Murphy's Law "If it can happen, it will happen"
Last night during Watchmen I jotted the todo note "united states chef". I wish I had some idea what I meant by that.
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
Thomas Edison

http://www.arschkrebs.de/watchmen/ - the Annotated Watchmen (notes for the comic)
http://deadeuclid.blogspot.com/ - sigh, a whole little blog charting the decline of my high school-era hometown.
Do you think America's goal of an egalitarian, up-by-your-bootstraps society is tied into how English dropped the you/thou distinction?

hello japan! (backlog flush #66 and travelog)

(1 comment)
March 15, 2008
Travelog Photo Insanity of the Moment
So, Saturday. Josh played tour guide and we hit Kamakura, with dozens of temples and a giant Buddha, and then the port area around Yokohama. I appear to have gone a bit crazy nuts with the photos this day.


March 15, 2007
Still digging the evening walk. Bought a pair of Rockport shoes, which taught me 3 things:
Music Video of the Moment

--I like Lite-Brite. Except for the way it used up black paper, eliminating the reusability of it. It reminds me a little bit of this old project of mine, but much cooler. Maybe I should port small gif cinema to Lite-Brite...

Passage of the Moment
The first item on the list [of cleaning products needed by the new housecleaner]: "I will require at least a dozen boxes of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda because I am allergic to harsh chemicals and prefer to make my own cleaning agents."

Right there, I wanted to call her up and say the deal was off. If there's one thing I'm not allergic to, it's harsh chemicals. I want to know that the blue stuff that cleans the inside of my toilet was tested--and tested again--on rabbits, monkeys, and anything else they can cram into a laboratory cage.
Augusten Burroughs, from "Magical Thinking"
... by far my favorite book since I've started reading on the T. Like David Sedaris, but with even more focused gay snark.

Rockstars of the Moment
Today's Rockstars, keeping track of one of the newer journalism clichés.

I blame that Smash Mouth song.

make mine music!

March 15, 2006
So assuming all goes well, Tomorrow afternoon Ksenia and I will be headed for a few days in NYC! I think I've been there maybe once since 9/11.

I still haven't booked a hotel, hopefully that won't be a problem. Actually I haven't decided if it will be better to have the two of us take a bus there and back, or drive down and pay for a parking garage...any suggestions?

Kirkness of the Moment
Alright, self indulgent personal trivia...

A while back I assembled about 1 1/2 hours of MP3s as backgrounds noise for work. It needed to be energetic, and familiar so that it wouldn't be too distracting.) Plus, it needed to fit on my cheap 128meg MP3 player...

Here's what I came up with (in no particular order, I usually set it to shuffle...) Mostly I cribbed from my collection of party music (including stuff picked out by my ex- and Lupschada, which explains stuff like the Dave Matthews and "Crazy In Love")

I actually switched over to iTunes to listen to this, instead of WMP, because I remembered it would give me an estimate in amount of time, not just filesize. But that little thing iTunes does where it crossfades from one song to the next really makes a ton of difference...makes it feel like something DJ'd, not jus hacked together. I guess that's one of those little Apple-ish details that have kept them around so long...

So if anyone has been wondering what I've been listening too lately, over and over and over and over, well there you are.

Retrohumor of the Moment
Lileks take on Old Computer Promotional Photos isn't quite as funny as I had hoped... I think the caption for the first one was my favorite. Boingboing like #7. I think it's pretty amazing how there's not a single trailing cable to be found in the whole batch, though I guess some of them might be running 'em under the floor.

poo poo kitty farts

March 15, 2005
Usenet Funny of the Moment
> What is it with cat farts? They're enough to kill you
> if yer feelin' a bit fragile.

Dunno, but I unforget a friend's cat Drainpipe relaxing washing what would have been his balls being sniffed by one of their collies. Cat farted straight up dog's nostrils.
Dog spent half an hour rubbing its nose along the carpet, pawing at it and snotting everywhere.

We of course were in hysterics.

x(yz)enophi and Guy King in uk.rec.sheds
Incidentally, today's title comes from a nickname of one of the Blender of Love's pranksters.

Marketing Ramble of the Moment
I was listening to the radio the other day and they had a report on how the Ford Freestyle won some award or other, and is generally pretty popular car. The marketdroid said something very similar to the copy on this page; "Freestyle blends the aspirational looks of a sport utility vehicle, the versatility of a minivan and the confidence of an all-wheel-drive sedan."

The phrase that hit me was the "aspirational looks of an SUV". Putting aside the fact that this is the most "station-wagon-my-parents drove-to-pick-up-kid-for-Sunday-School"-looking thing I've seen on the road lately, I guess I'm surrounded by people for whom SUVs are an object of derision, not of aspiration. (Though with my general sour-grapes grass-ain't-greener outlook on life, I probably have a poorer sense of "aspiring" to things than most people.)

Of course, this is the same company which name their entry-level subcompact the "Ford Aspire"...maybe I'm just an arrogant S.O.B. who doesn't realize how lucky he is to have bought two (admittedly entry level) new cars in a row, but all I can think of is "...because you aspire to owning a much better car".

Apropos of not too much, I see my car's carmaker Scion is looking to fund a record label, not for making money, just to keep up its street cred. One of the Scion-branded Mix CDs I got was great (and actually probably did a fair amount to subconsciously influence my decision..it definately got me thinking about the brand) though the earlier one I begged off of Evil B. was terrible.

of the moment forever!

(1 comment)
March 15, 2004
Ok, I'm sticking with "...of the Moment". It works well, pads category descriptors a bit without seeming too arbirary or drawing too much attention to itself, and can sometimes be used to goof with.

I think I finished JoustPong this weekend. I say think because Al, the guy I'm working with, claims at one point during basic sanity-check testing the Game Select switch didn't bring him back to the title screen...but the hardware he was using is known to have a twitchy Select switch, so I don't think it's out side the realm of possibility that it was a one off hardware issue...anyway, I'm freaking out about it a little, I really want to release this game at PhillyClassic.

Commercial of the Moment
The Honda cars that look like their owners ad is lovely and brilliant...though the rest of the website is less impressive, the amateurs are much less convincing.

Politics of the Moment
Intriguing side-by-side display of the official blogs of Kerry and Bush, w/ the same formatting. I didn't realize their teams were both doing blogs, I guess that's a bit of the Dean factor.

Quote of the Moment
The words of that philosopher who offers no therapy for human suffering are empty and vain.
Epicurus (341 - 270 BC)


March 15, 2003
So, my job hit a burble. They've decided to kind of reboot the main project I was on, the projected schedule was for the inhouse data manager was taking longer than we had, so whaddya do? Start over, of course!

I'm kind of reassigned, working on the APIs that will connect our product to big name financial systems, and I actually think I'm in a place that's more valuable to my company. It's the kind of place that has layoffs, but probably not company- or office-closing ones. Which is odd because it puts you in the position of making sure you stand out relative to your cow-orkers...

I blame Java EJBs for a lot of the failure of the latest version of the project, along with over-engineering in general. I think the single most important law for software development should be: Keep It Simple. The subrules are A. Minimize Cut and Paste code by moving the relevant bits into support classes B. Keep your infrastructure simple and C. Keep the project team small.

Quote of the Moment
I loathe the expression 'What makes him tick?' It is the American mind, looking for simple and singular solution, that uses the foolish expression. A person not only ticks, he also chimes and strikes the hour, falls and breaks and has to be put together again, and sometimes stops like an electric clock in a thunderstorm.
James Thurber.
Man, I love Thurber, I haven't read enough of him lately, maybe it's time to seek out some other books of his, or reread some of his stuff I know I love.

Link of the Moment
The Word Spy is a website dedicate to tracking neologisms. The heavier use of citations seems to give it more credibility than some other similar things, like Wired's Jargon Watch, which always seems to be full of cute puns that you've never heard elsewhere.

Video of the Moment
BoingBoing.net posted this real video: Canda Apologizes.

seeing wtc

March 15, 2002
This is the badge my mom, a major in The Salvation Army, was given when she got the VIP-ish tour of Ground Zero the other day. (I suppose it's a little odd that she's smiling for this particular badge photo, but I suppose that's just habit.) She's home from England for a week where she's been working since last summer. For six years, she was the supervisor for many of the Salvation Army employees who are now overseeing the support system for volunteers (she was in NYC during the WTC carbombing), plus she was "visiting from Salvation Army International Headquarters". It also seems like the people working there don't mind visitors so much; they understand that people want to pay respect and bear witness, and also the workers want to keep the message out that amazing work is still going on at the site.

And the work is amazing. She told us about the "Taj" (as in Mahal), the enormous tent that is the main meal center for the workers. It's pretty cool how the meals are supplied, actually: because they're trying to support the economy of the area, they pay the local restaurants to make their usual specialty (Chinese, Indian, Sushi, etc) and then volunteers go around and bring the food to the central areas. It's cool how the support structure is working on several fronts like that, and providing the site workers with some variety besides. Also there are the "hydration stations" that offer warmth and soup and beverages. (I hadn't thought about how cold it must be for people who are out there all the time.)

One thing she mentioned that when the project is finally over, there's probably going to be a secondary sense of loss by the people who have been working at Ground Zero (which now physically resembles one of those giant construction pits). There's a solid sense of community and camaraderie there, a justified sense of important, if unspeakably tragic, work being done.

Link of the Moment
Buggy as heck yet still very intriguing, thesquarerootof-1.com has some cool virtual toys. (For some reason I had better luck clicking on the "I have shockwave but no sound" button; I still got sound, but it didn't crash then.)


March 15, 2001
Joke of the Moment
One World War II Quaker conscientious objector had been a professional wrestler. Once when he and some other inmates of the Coshocton CPS camp in Ohio made a trip into town, they were hassled about their pacifism by some local youths, who insisted that only force could change the German's views.

In response, the ex-wrestler took off his coat, challenged one of the local boys to a match, and promptly threw the townie across the room. He then asked the youth, "Now do you believe that force won't change people's views?"

"Heck no!" the local boy hollered back.

"That's exactly my point," said the Quaker, who put on his coat and left.

from Quakers Are Funny! by Chuck Fager, via rec.humor.funny.reruns

It's funny, that story mentions Coshocton. That's where my dad grew up and my grandmother still lives. I didn't realize it had a CPS camp there once. (Also, I think it's known for Coca-Cola memorabilia.)

Wired article with the vi guy's essay on the obsolesence of humanity and, much more disturbingly to me, this  geometrically increasing "Oops!" factor that nano-, bio-, and maybe cyber- technology will be bringing on over this next century. In particular the "grey goo" idea, and custom bacteria multiplying like clouds of pollen stick in my head as vivid images of biosphere imploding disaster. Sigh- hopefully these memes won't rush in to fill a void Y2K left behind.

Right now I'm at Home Depot, trailing Mo as she gets paint color sample chips to base a wedding color scheme on (and to get the makings of a murphy free flower & plant shelf)