April 5, 2024

As an agnostic, I have spent most of my life thinking about the decline of faith in America in mostly positive terms. Organized religion seemed, to me, beset by scandal and entangled in noxious politics. So, I thought, what is there really to mourn? Only in the past few years have I come around to a different view. Maybe religion, for all of its faults, works a bit like a retaining wall to hold back the destabilizing pressure of American hyper-individualism, which threatens to swell and spill over in its absence.
I usually say my HONK! bands are my church. They certainly have many of the same aspects Thompson talks about in terms of the ritual of practice.

April 5, 2023



on Carlo Rovelli's "Helgoland"

I bought Dirac's book, in the gray Boringhieri edition. It smelled good. (I always sniff books before buying them: the smell of a book is decisive.)
Carlo Rovelli

Individual objects are the way in which they interact. If there was an object that had no interactions, no effect upon anything, emitted no light, attracted nothing and repelled nothing, was not touched and had no smell . . . it would be as good as nonexistent. To speak of objects that never interact is to speak of something--even if it existed--that could not concern us. It is not even clear what it would mean to say that such objects "exist." The world that we know, that relates to us, that interests us, what we call "reality," is the vast web of interacting entities, of which we are a part, that manifest themselves by interacting with each other. It is with this web that we are dealing.
Carlo Rovelli, "Helgoland"
The discovery of quantum theory, I believe, is the discovery that the properties of any entity are nothing other than the way in which that entity influences others. It exists only through its interactions. Quantum theory is the theory of how things influence each other. And this is the best description of nature that we have.
Carlo Rovelli, "Helgoland"
In high school I wrote a poem that I think carries a similar energy.
A rock sat in the woods, thinking,
for many years, of many things.
Realized God and His plan
How to perfect life for plant and man
but it was a rock, and rocks can't speak
so it had to keep it to itself

In other words, the entire value of interiority is ENTIRELY dependent on the ability to make connections outside. Surfaces vs Essences. While it's a bit fraught to seek out books to confirm one own's pre-existing notions, I am so pleased that this book really leans into the idea of interactions - what it calls the "relational" interpretation of quantum theory - as being so central to everything.
If we look at things in this way, there is nothing special in the "observations" introduced by Heisenberg: any interaction between two physical objects can be seen as an observation.
Carlo Rovelli, "Helgoland"
That confirms another notion I have; the language of "observer" for quantum events (especially when inflated to macro events, ala Schrödinger's cat (which Rovelli nicely changes to a cat w/ a sleeping draught, no need for so many dead cats)) is a little misleading. It invites questions like "well what defines observer, does it have to be conscious" and from their speculation into the connection between consciousness and the quantum... but really, ANY interaction is an "observation".
The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.
Douglas Adams

If we imagine the totality of things, we are imagining being outside the universe, looking at it from out there. But there is no "outside" to the totality of things. The external point of view is a point of view that does not exist. Every description of the world is from inside it. The externally observed world does not exist; what exists are only internal perspectives on the world which are partial and reflect one another. The world is this reciprocal reflection of perspectives.
Carlo Rovelli, "Helgoland"
So, this can be seen a serious challenge to my view of "the only thing that matters is the objective truth" - the "view from God's throne whether or not there's a divine butt in that chair", the idea of an objective yardstick, where any authority only matters in the sense that it is a better or worse mirror of that absolute truth. If that kind of view doesn't exist, is a kind of meaningless term even... well, it doesn't seem like the best thing to build a sense of morality and epistemology around!

I guess I look for an "out" to reconcile my view with Rovelli's point - the overlap may deal with "probabilities". The uncertainty about any given view being accurate to "The Truth" is so fundamental to this idea as I live it - I find any faith suspect; every view needs to be amenable to alteration, or else it's just dogma.

Like it's all about predictions. Theories about stuff that will happen, where that critical interaction that creates reality is yet to have have happened - that's what I'm thinking about. You could have a theory that says tomorrow ducks will go moo or rocks will start floating in midair, but that theory very likely to be confirmed! So maybe, then, when I talk about "most accurate view of the Truth" as a way of comparing different viewpoints, what I really mean is what are the most LIKELY to be proven true once the interaction has occurred.

It reminds me of the other part of my outlook, that any system that depends on belief in a one time, "special revelation" is suspect. (And a lot of faiths really bank on that kind of event). And I guess it's because if the "chain of interactions" from the supernatural event or revelation is so thin, that it just seems unlikely that there aren't more interactions we can have in the meanwhile to verify the Truth of the thing.
Nature follows its simple rules, but the complexity of things often renders the general laws irrelevant to us. Knowing that my girlfriend obeys Maxwell's equations will not help me to make her happy.
Carlo Rovelli, "Helgoland"

However mysterious the mind-body problem may be for us, we should always remember that it is a solved problem for nature. All we have to do is figure out that solution by naturalistic means.
Erik C. Banks

External perception is an internal dream which proves to be in harmony with external things; and instead of calling 'hallucination' a false perception, we must call external perception 'a confirmed hallucination.'
Hippolyte Taine

music of the month, march 2021

Pretty solid month for music last month!

Oh, and a music project my tuba and I chipped in last year has borne fruit, Interstate Abbreviations by The Sound Down Cellar, a 3-song album available on Bandcamp. Those will be showing up here next month. I'm also briefly in the video for Fix a Fault

tolerate it
Taylor Swift
A 5 star-er! A low 5-star, but still. The "reverse lover's complaint" of it (she should be celebrated, but the dude feels like he's just tolerating it) seems real somehow.
From this video on songs in 5/4 time.

Count It Off (feat. The Muscle Shoals Horns)
The Saturday Knights
Raunchy street music with a cool slouching swag.
From the comedy "We're The Millers"
Played Like a Piano (feat. Ice Cube & Breeze)
King Tee
Old school hiphop, dig the use of the piano that unabashedly mirrors the title/refrain.
From GTA V's hip hop radio station.
Work (Freemasons Radio Edit)
Kelly Rowland
Modern R+B, dig the "Knight Rider" theme like vibe.
Another GTA 5 radio song.
Jon Batiste
Sweet blend of old and new school sounds, jazz, hiphop, very bright and friendly.
Shared on the School of Honk FB- SOH is very fond of Batiste! Some of us played WITH HIM on his "I'm from Kenner" when he played the SInclair.

Feeling Good
Nina Simone
Big, beautiful soul/jazz. Love the horns.
via the movie "The Intouchables", about the assistant to a wealthy quadriplegic and the friendship they build.
You Can't Judge a Book By It's Cover (Single Version)
Bo Diddley
Classic rollicking Bo Diddley.
Used in the Martin Scorsese / Fran Lebowitz thing on Netflix.
I'm a Hustla (Street Mix)
Hiphop. Kinda had trouble w/ the heavy use of the N-word to lead it off, but it's got an amazing beat.
via Sara Hopkins Vines. Damn I miss that platform!!

Louder (feat. Icona Pop)
Big Freedia
I love Big Freedia so much. Good use of "I Got The Power" clip, and her awesome Bounce Music.
Last month Big Freedia did a verse in the Rebecca Black "Friday" redux...

Galway Girl
Ed Sheeran
Pop/Irish Folk blend. For some reason I really love that invitation "Do you want to drink on?"
Via this b3ta robocop parody - I think the joke is that this song or Sheeran is overplayed, but all kind of new to me.

Can't Take My Eyes Off You
Selah Sue Feat. Walk off the Earth
Oh, love the oddball ukulele arpeggios in this! From the movie soundtrack "How to Be Single" I guess, and only avaialble on that soundtrack.
I think the melody showed up in something then I deliberately went hunting for a cover of this.
High Anxiety
Mel Brooks
Shmaltzy Mel Brooks, from a movie of the same name.
When a friend mentioned she had high anxiety, I thought about Mel Brooks who says he basically made this movie so he could sing "Hiiigh AnnnnnXIety"
Meu Nome é Zé
Antonio Pinto
Background music from "City of God". The dialog in portuguese... something about the gangster's tone and measured way of speaking reminds me of villains from Star Wars.
Funk da Virada
Antonio Pinto + Ed Cortes
More background music from "City of God"
Man, if you ever want to see a good argument for gun control, watch this movie and think about what life would be like if every punk was carrying a pistol.
70s modern cover of part of "Toccata and Fugue in D minor"
Someone on an atari group pointed out this might have been what inspired the music to the arcade game Gyruss, another electronic cover of the same song. I think the music to the 2600 version is the most amazing thing on the platform.
Such Great Heights
The Postal Service
Modern indie. It's no "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" but it's ok
Daring Fireball mentioned the old Apple ad The Intel Chip totally ripped off this song.

Think About Things
Daði Freyr
I think this a classic Eurovision piece... I really love how it uses "Baby" in a literal sense! And just the general good feeling of new baby potential.
From some talk about Will Ferrell's Eurovison Movie... like this being a real entry from Iceland.
Song to the Siren
This Mortal Coil
Melancholy, or maybe hopeful piece. I think the singer is known for going more for feeling than sense of song.
I was skimming through the Justice League Snyder Cut and I think this is playing as The Flash is exploring his speed powers, dealing with a local disaster explosion.
Steel-Band de la Trinidad
Island cover of the amazing song.
My friend Beth (who does music cataloging) mentioned finding this one, and she wishes she knew more about it.
Hardcore Danish Female rap. Basically singing how she's gourmet (Your Burger King, I'm michelin)
The actual music video for this is the weirdest thing... pretty explicit porn.

the well-temperanced child

So when I was 5 months, I was recruited into the WCTU, the Women's Christian Temperance Union... (The Salvation Army requires temperance for its members so it's not such a stretch.)

I don't know what's worse, calling my mom "Mrs. James Israel" or calling me "Kirt".
The first humans to make water boil must have been super freaked out

Interesting theory about the toilet paper shortage it's not (just) hoarding - it's that TP for home is a different production line than for offices/institutions - and one is seeing a lot more use. And of course, once there is a demonstrated problem, people will grab more when they see it...

April 5, 2019

I'll be helping to move a piano soon, and I'm thinking of this cartoon, Heavenly Puss...

...at least I think that's the cartoon I'm thinking of - I'm conflating it with ones where the gag is the piano drops on the head, and then the person rises up dazed out of the middle of the wreckage and their teeth have been replaced by piano keys.... this family guy references it but I'm pretty sure there's an original I can't quite find...

April 5, 2018

Happy to see Namedecoders are still around... so clever

April 5, 2017

Ali G interviewed Trump?

April 5, 2016

Landed. From swimming in Barton Springs Pool to help with 80 degree weather to.... Boston.

The "locker room" at Barton Springs was open to the sky. It reminded me that I really haven't been naked outside much at all, especially in the sunlight.

Most importantly, a Dummies book assumes the reader is starting with zero knowledge on the topic.
I've always appreciated the series in almost exactly those terms.
How was my weekend at HONK!TX in Austin? Like this...

The Grand Finale at Pan Am Park. Track Suit at HonkTx #honktx

Posted by Debbie Fehrenkamp on Monday, April 4, 2016

April 5, 2015

Years ago I made a foray into beer-snobbery and found that it was deeply unrewarding. A growler of Old Man Inquisitor Excoriationist Old Sea Shipwater Man XLVIIIIIIII Ale Stoutale Nitro Interlocutor Behemoth Alestout is great, sure, but so is a can of crummy light beer on a hot day. Every beer is pretty good.


tuba tuba tubababa

Jaws offers a more interesting spin on the tuba-villain connection. It's not what you're thinking: that two-note, lurking, bah-dum... bah-dum ...is played by string basses, not tuba. But composer John Williams did give the tuba the melody in the shark's theme. You have to listen for it, and it may not immediately strike you as a tuba because it's written in a very high register. In fact, Tommy Johnson, the tubist who played for Jaws and many Hollywood soundtracks (and also played those four losing notes on The Price is Right), asked John Williams why he didn't write the part for French horn. Williams answered that he wanted a "more threatening" sound. So there you have it--one of the most popularly recognized composers today hears menace in the tuba.
It's interesting that those 4 notes from "Price is Right" is often notated "Sad Trombone" not "Sad Tuba".

April 5, 2013

What a remarkable coincidence! Jaromil, who had been enraptured by Magda's weeping eyes, knew all about the beauty of sorrow and fully immersed himself in its enjoyment.
Milan Kundera, "Life is Elsewhere"

http://www.facebook.com/home Facebook Home would be WAY too much FB for me, but in theory I dig big video and big scrolling image backgrounds
You are too young to know yet what nostalgia truly means. It takes time to become sentimental. But for the sake of your success, you must quickly learn. When you touch a man's nostalgia, he is yours.
Amy Tan, "Rules for Virgins"

enjoy today


--from Radio Free Babylon

marching without the horns


'Religion seems to make people happy in these dark times, but it's just a delusion. It distracts them from the zombies and everything.'
Teller quoting an atheist friend's young child

http://jtnimoy.net/workviewer.php?q=178 didn't realize many of the Tron sequences (scoreboards, fireworks etc) were by a processing guy!
The word "subscribe" is to my pseudo-dyslexia what "pollen" is to some folks' allergies.

cleveland filler day 1


Yours 'Til Niagara Falls of the Moment
Amber and I kicked off our Cleveland trip with a jaunt up to Niagara Falls... we got there a bit before sunset, and caught some nice light...
Whoa, thought I was just super dizzy after my nap...it was an earthquake!!

Little Caesar's pizza! Man how I've missed it, the old after church standby. Still frickin' cheap, $5 for a pretty big pie (but no longer square :-( )
Of all the criticisms of the iPad, "no multitasking" is probably the least real to me. Except for, like, IM-notification, you're only doing one thing at once anyway, and a fast context switch is good enough.
The iPad feels like the future. Despite the unfortunate name, it IS "more intimate" somehow-Still this generation feels a bit gimmicky, and the lack of Flash is a bummer.
Watching Butler lose at the final second, along side 2 folks who worked there, was heartbreaking. Screw Duke and their recruited freaks.

you can't top that

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--From the "Teen Witch". I believe this represents some kind of nadir for the 1980s.

Seriously, is that Cousin Balky from "Perfect Strangers" doing that weird hopping / arms crossed thing, there on the left?
http://omegle.com/ - randomly connects you to a stranger to chat with. Odd.
http://www.horkulated.com/ - NSFW in parts, but for a "random images and movies" site it has a lot of soul.
At JZ's... he really does have a pretty blazin' 'net connection, I hadn't known or forgotten that the local connection is so often the limiting factor.
http://www.jellotime.com/ - there's always time for jello.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hi99JdeBeY - Toe Jam. From last year, but the video just makes me so happy, and now the mp3 is available.
HOLY SHIZNIT - Windows went back in time and *broke* explorer's ctrl-F to find a DAMN FILE BY NAME in XP Home. What the hell IS this?
SRSLY what the hell is "Windows Search", why won't it find un"index"ed files - never thought that puppy dog assistant would be lesser evil!
http://kisrael.com/2004/09/04/ - I kvetch about sidebar based searching, vs the old Win95 "search app" - but THIS is just goddamn broken.


Busy, busy, busy

Humor Observation of the Moment
The shift from the serious to the common (a shadow of the shift from Hebrew to Yiddish) is a frequent linguistic device of American Jewish comics. Consider Woody Allen's line: "Not only is there no God, but try getting a plumber on weekends."
Lawrence J. Epstein, "The Haunted Smile"
This got me thinking, would the reverse, going from the profane to the sacred, be funny as well? "It's so difficult getting a plumber on weekends... THIS MUST MEAN THERE IS NO GOD." Hmm, maybe. But then again anything written in all caps seems a little funny to me.


So I'm about 4,000 odd songs into my 6,500 song iTunes collection, rating each on a scale of 1 star (will be actively irritated if/when my iPod starts playing it) to 5 stars (one of the best songs in the word.)

There's not much instrumental jazz I want to listen to, really. "Night in Tunisia", "'Round Midnight". a few other pieces.

It made me realize that I hadn't thought about Charlie Parker for years. In high school, he was "the" jazz guy. I guess, though, in college the tile of "the" jazz guy got passed on to Miles Davis.

For what it's worth, I've kind of shared a nick name with Charlie Parker, "Bird". Well, just with my parents. I think it was short for "Nerd Bird".

Video of the Moment
Evil B pointed me to something I missed, George Takei responds to Tim Hardaways homophobia. Funny. I love Takei. He seems so comfortable with his role as queen-y actor and activist spokesman, and dealing with that weird relationship most Star Trek stars have with the fanbase.

Excerpt of the Moment
You are getting so beautiful they will have to make passport pictures of you 9 feet tall. What do you really want to do for a life work? Break everybody's heart for a dime? You could always break mine for a nickel and I'd bring the nickel.

Photo of the Moment

--CVS near the Boston Public Library. Those giant heads are intimidatingly huge as you drift past. (This probably would be a better photo if it had people in there for scale, but it seemed rude to take pictures of strangers.) (Oops, wait, there is a stranger in this photo... whoops.)

01:02:03 04/05/06

Time of the Moment
My mom forwarded me this note:

This Wednesday, at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 in the morning, the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06.

That won't happen again for a thousand years.
...But as far as I can April Fifth 2106 would be written the same way under this system, so it's only 100 years to go. Or am I missing something? (I've seen another site that I thought was claiming "this would never happen again" but it turns out they meant "for you, unless you become a really old geezer")

Personally I think it was a lot less unique than 11/19/1999, which was the last date with all odd digits until 3111. And today's interesting date relies on a date notation I don't like that much, mm/dd/yy.

Clock of the Moment
Speaking of time, if it wasn't for that rant about a terrible design for my alarm clock that I wrote here about 5 years ago, I don't think I would have figured out how to set it forward for DST. I still have the clock though, doing adequate service as a radio as I shower and shave and letting me know how late I'm running in the morning.

Ranting can be very useful!

Quote of the Moment
If you aren't tall, rich, or smart, then funny may be your best shot.
"Dentyne-ism #102".
I wasn't expecting such decent fortune cookie-like quotes from my gum. Also, the gum comes in a swing-down fold out pack...a lot more elegant than the push-through foil and plastic sheets that are so popular for gum these days.

Image of the Moment

--Not my ideal for April 5th. Though judging by this kisrael entry, we've had it as late as the 26th some years.

4000 years passing

Java Toy of the Moment
click to play

source code // built with Processing
Probably my least interesting Java toy posted here, a while back I wanted to develop an intuition about Bezier Curves so I made this interactive tool...the curves start with random end and control points which can then be dragged with the mouse, change the associated curve.

Quote of the Moment
Can you imagine 4,000 years passing, and you're not even a memory? Think about it, friends. It's not just a possibility. It is a certainty.
Jean Shepherd

Science of the Moment
I had no idea moondust was such a problem...very sharp and nasty bits of meteorites, since there's no erosion to wear it down.

pert plus plus

Geek Joke of the Moment
Did you hear about the Computer Scientist who starved to death in the shower? The instructions on his shampoo said "Lather, rinse, repeat."
Hee, I am proud of today's blog entry title.

Link of the Moment
Looks like they're making yet another official Space Invaders remake, this time for its 25th Anniversary. The remake's website gets the reward for most enthusiastic yet irritating UI ever...shooting invaders to navigate is just delightfully slightly perverse.

Article of the Moment
Continuing in a geekish vein, Greater Power Efficiency, the next needed iteration of Moore's Law. Batteries really are the bottleneck for neat portable stuff.

This might sound stupid, but I always find it amusing when I find out that a chip doing calculations draws more power and runs hotter than one that's idle. It makes total sense, but I guess I developed this mental model back in the 1980s, on the 8-bit computers: they never seemed to get hotter when they were doing number crunching, and they seemed to draw a steady supply of power from the wallsocket...the idea of being able to see the results of increased CPU power usage seemed goofy and archaic, like a cheesy scifi novel describing the lights dimming as the computer started thinking about a really tough problem.

ice ice baby

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An observation that's going to sound really stupid: I'm always surprised at how powerful ice cubes can be, at least when you use enough of them. Seriously, it's counterintuitive to me that I can pour hot coffee over ice and it's almost instantly made cool. I guess I've always thought of ice as something good for keeping an already cold drink cold, not for actualling making a qualitative change in the temperature of something.

Quote of the Moment
The mome rath isn't born that could outgrabe me!
I used to have that poem well-memorized, I should work to get it down pat again.

War Quote of the Moment
Everybody smile.
Colonel Chris Hughes
Colonel Hughes brilliantly managed to defuse a tense situation with Iraqi locals who were concerned we were going to invade a mosque. According to a guy on NPR, he ordered his men to go down on one knee, point their weapons down, and smile. It worked! If only more of a foreign policy took its cue from that kind of smart and humble tactic...

hello robotron

How To Get Things Done...
...and stop procrastinating.
1. Think of something you want to get done. Call this task A.
2. Find another pressing task, preferably one with a deadline. Call this task B.
3. As the deadline for B looms, you may be just be able to jumpstart whatever the heck A is.
Note: or maybe you'll just end up cruising the same 3 or 4 websites, hoping something will magically appear there since the last time you checked 5 minutes ago, leaving both task A and task B sadly neglected.

Link of the Moment
Jam:Tokyo-London, a sample site of those city's arts-agentsia, has one of the most compelling interfaces I've seen, basically Robotron meets Hello Kitty. Not the most usable interface ever, but not that bad, and oh so cute! Click on one of the squares at top to have certain artist types do something (be it dance, or fly, or fart, or get naked) and then click on a critter. From there, click on the little bouncing numbers to see some samples of that person's work.


The dangers of blenders
My dinner last night: instead of making my usual chocolate slimfast plus banana with milk, I made it with premixed Kahlua mudslide, plus a little milk. Yum. Though possibly not in the true slimfast spirit.

Link of the Moment
From the Brunching Shuttlecocks it's Satan on Laundry

"I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half."
          --Jay Gould, Gilded-Age Industrialist
"Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cynical about it. . . . It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more."
          -- Erica Jong    
"Pierre A. von Kaenel" writes:

>   "Simplify, simplify, simplify" - Thoreau

Shouldn't that be just "Simplify"?
          --Dave Sill
Hindsight is 20/20? Give me a break!