April 9, 2021

my mom noticed something interesting. She was born in 1947, I was born in 1974. I am now 47... and she is 74. All those 4s and 7s... I was trying to figure out if that's a wacky and well spotted coincidence, or what.

I figure the first interesting bit is her (2 digit) birthyear and mine being swaps - '47 and '74. For such swaps, there will always be a year where the parent and child's age is also a swap... and that year will be a multiple of 11, like 1900 + (11 * 11) = 2021. I'm trying to figure out if we get any more interesting because 7 + 4 = 11.


How comes it that a cripple does not offend us, but that a fool does? Because a cripple recognises that we walk straight, whereas a fool declares that it is we who are silly; if it were not so, we should feel pity and not anger.
Pascal

Sigh. I was trying to lean into the "forced minimalism" by mindfully enjoying having books, decorations, deskstuff packed, and things just bare. It's... not that great. Typing at a desk on a laptop sans big ol' monitor isn't so much fun.

All hail Katalin Kariko! She had to fight to get the system to put any support behind her ideas about how mRNA could teach the immune system to make its own medicine.

April 9, 2020

y'all remember being 15? That was fucked up


#you hit 50 and get angry again

Trump rejected these excuses. He made three points, beginning with a simple rule: When the government fails, the president is responsible. "You always have to look to the person at the top," Trump told the Washington Post. In a CNN interview, he quoted President Harry Truman: "The buck stops here."

Second, Trump noted that the 9/11 plot succeeded because of poor coordination within the federal government. The FBI, the CIA, and other agencies "had a lot of information that, if it could have been correlated, it would have been very, very helpful," he explained. But these agencies "weren't talking to each other"--and that, he concluded, was a failure of "leadership." In a Fox News interview, Trump argued that "a good leader would have made sure they'd get along and they'd talk."

Third, Trump pointed out that in the months before the attack, Bush had received intelligence warnings. "George Tenet, the CIA director, knew in advance that there would be an attack. And he said so to the president," Trump told CNN. In a CBS interview, Trump added that "the CIA said there was a lot of information that something like that was going to happen." Trump faulted Bush for not heeding these signals. "George Bush had the chance," he complained in a February 2016 debate. "He didn't listen to the advice of his CIA."
American Death toll for 9/11: 3,000
American Death toll for COVID-19: 16,000 and counting

arts advocacy day

April 9, 2019
A few weeks ago BABAM supported Summer Street Brass Band in helping out MASSCreative's Arts Advocacy Day....

One of the first 3 CDs I bought was Maynerd Ferguson's Chameleon - I think Jeff Shaffer introduced me to this astoundingly brash and funky cover of Herbie Hancock's classic in the late 80s or early 90s:


It's a popular song in HONK circles, and as far as I can tell it's the focused Ferguson version that is the more direct influence for street bands, rather than Hancock's synth-heavy jam.

(My band JP Honk has played it for a while, but one tricky bit, kind of a reverse arpeggio, was never quite as tight as it should be, so I slowed down the part by about a third...)

Anyway, in researching itm and finding some liner notes I found out it and the album was recorded the week after I was born.

Coincidence? There's no such thing.

benj edwards knocking it out of the park

April 9, 2018
Computer Historian Benj Edwards has started a podcast The Culture of Tech. He has some amazing people on it, starting with Steve Wozniak. Only 4 episodes in, but all have been great.

I think technology without ethics is pointless. It's like creating a self-driving chainsaw that just sort of cuts down whatever it wants.
Benj Edwards interview Richard "Lord British" Garriot.
They talk a lot about Ultima IV's Virtues system, a very thoughtful philosophical system of morality that I think stands up well to most other belief systems. (Also check out the Principles and Virtues of Mandrake the Bard parody of it.)
"I read an article recently about Joyce Weisbecker who was probably the first female video game developer, and her dad was a pioneering computer scientist at RCA, and he had this interesting way of thinking about software: he compared it to a magic trick. And I kept thinking: why is it a magic trick? Why that metaphor? And I finally realized that it's because everything a computer does is an illusion, it's all just a bunch of ones and zeroes and switches, and layers and layers and layers of illusion on top of illusion. "
They're talking about upcoming technology that will make it trivial to make convincing video footage of literally any person saying literally any thing. I think Weisbecker's father made a great point - it's so easy to think of objects on screen as real. (But of course, you could sort of say the same thing about mundane matter... This isn't a pencil on my desk, it's just a bunch of atoms!) Cue Plato's world of forms etc.
"I had a 'recruiter' email me the other day, saying they really liked what they saw in one of my public github repos -- that I made one half-ass commit to like two years ago"
"man, I bet that does work fairly well if they happen to hit an actual relevant thing"
"Maybe the company he's working with is looking for someone who can churn out one half-ass commit every two years"
Robert, Me, and Jess on company Slack.
I snickered out loud.

April 9, 2017

Lower, ever lower The world is falling back
Our life is but a demi-monde
And woman greets it on her back."
"Love striving for consummation
Dreams longing to become real
The world is falling back
So sweetheart, let's fall together.
from Karel Capek's: "The Insect Play"

One thing nearly every geek kid in the 80s learned was that the term "robot" came from a play "R.U.R.: Rossum's Universal Robots" by Karel Čapek. ... the translation I read recently (which changes the name "Possum" to "Reason", interestingly enough surprised me with a reference to the church I grew up in, The Salvation Army:
Dear lady, we've had boat-loads of Messiahs and prophets visiting us here. Missionaries, anarchists, the Salvation Army – all society's flotsam. Amazing how many fanatics there are in the world.
(They used to be more of a cultural and religious meme; think like hare krishna jokes in the 70s and 80s or the mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses going door to door these days.)

Three bits from John Swartzwelder's "How I Conquered Your Planet"

April 9, 2016
The applicants who showed up weren't acceptable. Either they were too honest, too clumsy (I've still got a telephone receiver in my back somewhere), or they didn't understand how a phone worked and would just sit there and listen to it ring until we both started to die.
He looked at me like I was stupid. Why do people always look at me like that?
"Anyway," I explained, "our atomic bombs are for peaceful purposes."
"Such as?"
"Uh... blowing up... wars."
Swartzwelder's claim to fame is writing episodes of the Simpsons than anyone else (59). His books are comic sci fi / noir detective blends about hapless (or maybe some hap? It's hard to tell) private detective Frank Burly. It's very broad comedy, stuff that would probably be hard to translate into video, just because some of the jokes have that "Bob+Ray"-esque "I mean, that wouldn't work in real life right?" aspect that's better heard than seen.

April 9, 2015

You know, a lot of readers our age think about the childhood milestone of switching to "books without pictures"- it's a huge deal! But I just started wondering how e-readers are likely to change that equation... reading your first kindle book might be an even more grownup feeling deal!

in general most e-readers are only so-so at books with pictures, and most kids lucky enough to be raised by loving and smart people are swimming in picture books, even at the age those loving smart people are reluctant to give them unaccompanied screen time. I guess I can see a few different scenarios here based on the technology at hand (colorful books on iPads vs REALLY adult feeling e-ink kindles)

Having just done a big book winnowing- The physicality, or lack thereof, of my Kindle library is an interesting topic, though I guess it has more to do with vanity (and book sharing) than anything else.

April 9, 2014

march 1 second everyday (late, because of technical glitches)

GET OFFA MY LAWN YOU TRIPLES EQUALS USIN' JAVASCRIPT HIPSTERS!!! Ahem.

thoughts on emma

April 9, 2013
Old Kitty Emma is looking more and more as if she's on her last legs. I'm worried about how much she might be masking discomfort and constantly second guessing myself about when it'll be time to call it. And always guilt about maybe I coulda been a better keeper for her, though rationally I don't think that's a fair judgement on myself; sure there's always more of a degree of "intense cat person-ness" one can aspire to, but I don't think that would have changed the landscape here that much; the setup, with that many pills, was probably had signs of its own unsustainability, though it has been a good number of years. Amber, Emma's person for most of her 16 1/2 years, was over last night (in town for work) and is definitely in the "she's just really old" and it can be well-meaning but inadvertently hurtful to prolong things camps.

weekend photos

April 9, 2012

Let me think about the people who I care about the most... and how when they fail, or disappoint me, I still love them, I still give them chances, and I still see the best in them. Let me extend that generosity to myself.
zefrank, "An Invocation for Beginnings"

That NY Times piece on casual games is interesting for scratchware gamer makers like me.

in a galaxy far far away or maybe peoria

(1 comment)
April 9, 2011
--(Warning, N-bomb in there) Not super funny but kind of intriguing, both in watching Richard Pryor riff in a constrained kind of way and in having a closer look at what I think are the original costumes from the Star Wars cantina scene.

Been on a bit of a Richard Pryor kick as of late, listening to the Rhino 2 CD set "Evolution/Revolution". He is really funny and very human.
So tired of those asscovering "please mention if anyone in your party has a food allergy" stickers-- like charms for warding off lawsuits.
http://accessmaincomputerfile.net - nice supply of fake computer system screenshots.

cleveland filler day 5

(1 comment)
April 9, 2010



Yours 'Til Niagara Falls of the Moment
Random photos from before and after the Niagara Falls part of our trip-

slow plane to venus

April 9, 2009

That's the image from this intriguing WWI-era study in solar distances... as measured in time needed travelling in a plane going at the unheard of speed of 120 mph.

I love the detail of the funky planes! I'm not sure if they're meant to be spaceworthy or not.

Shades of Star Blazers and the Space Battleship Yamato!


It was a book to kill time for those who like it better dead.
Dame Rose Macaulay

http://is.gd/rdCb - conclusion: Dubai is a kind of object lesson in Ayn Rand Gone Wrong, sort of a real world Bioshock.
The worst part about working in Andover is when your job gets repetitive you starting thinking "Andover, Andover, Andover again"
geeknote: http://freemarker.sourceforge.net/ - FreeMarker is a nice quick and dirty templating engine with just enough bells and whistles to be worthwhile.
Back to back SPAM: The Motley Fool: "Is it Time to Buy Oil?" -- Care2Action: "Sea Otters Coated in Oil? Never Again!"
A RAV4 in the parking lot has just the rim of its spare tire mounted on the back. It makes the loveliest resonant sound when tinged, like a singing bowl.
cmg + chorizo ftw. Sausage really is the finest form of meat, rivaled only by kabobs.
Tin foil is so cool. It makes me feel like a superhero -- "let me preserve this bowl of food by bending a sheet of metal around it-- WITH MY BARE HANDS"

eat dessert first

April 9, 2008
Random diet idea: I've noticed that dessert, something sweet, has become a bit of a "meal is done" signifier for me. I'm not sure if it's an unhealthy physiological relationship with sweetness, or just preferring that as the taste to linger. But I've observed that if I don't have something at the end of lunch, I'll end up seeking something out an hour or two later.

I wonder if I could parlay that into a way of having smaller meals; a "half" portion followed by something sweet, and I might be disinclined to eat more because of that taste.

I have dim recollections of toothbrushing being recommended in the same way, but that's more difficult to do discretely at the table.


Videogame Kinkery of the Moment
So in a Gamer's Quarter thread I found a kind of intriguing link about the game Portal; for the final confrontation with GLaDOS, the famously psychopathic computer program (think "Hal" but really really drunk) who has been your unseen (but heard) ally/enemy through the entire game, her physical form is not an abstract bunch of tubes and spheres but that of a bound and trussed woman, hung upside down from the ceiling. (The "artists rendering" on the page is possibly mildly NSFW, though not nude or anything.)

It was one of those things that I didn't notice on my own but, now pointed out, seems unmistakable, and it kind of changes the relationship between the player and the computer, or at least the computer and the laboratory organization. I decided to go back and see if it was as obvious as all that. It's clear that it is an inverted feminine figure, though the position of the other arm doesn't scream bondage so much:

For the TGQ thread (amusing for some further "artist impressions") I also made some rough youtube movies, circling around GLaDOS from the beginning of the level, and then the very ending where it looks like her other arm is reaching to undo one of the "chains" before the final explosion/whirlwind occurs.

coffee power

(1 comment)
April 9, 2007
So Overheard in New York had this exchange:
Barista: Would you like to try a cappuccino muffin?
Customer: No, thanks. I don't want to start my appetite yet.
--Starbucks, 45th & Broadway
I didn't think that was funny, because I could totally relate... you can get by with just coffee in the morning, and oddly if you eat something you might still be ready for lunch at about the same time, or even earlier.

Anyway.


Photo Work of the Moment
So the other day we were walking, and I snapped one of those typical shots of the church and the Hancock at Copley, a little cooler than average because of the reflection of the clouds:
I then remembered FoSO borrowing my Kodak DC-20 (arguably the "Brownie" of the Web's toddler years) back in the day and taking a series of photos from her office building, which I then stitched into a collage:

click for fullsize
Funny to realize that this image is over ten years old, which means A. I've been doing digital photos for a while now, and B. I've been in Boston for a long time, and so finally may be feeling a bit more rooted. Oh, and, C. DC-20 images really haven't aged so well. It was a nifty minimalist camera back in the day, but...


Passage of the Moment
Tim Crane thus describes the basic two requirements for an emergentist position as 'dependence' and 'distinctness': 'mental properties are distinct from physical properties'. That some kind of dependence relationship exists seems hard to deny: destroy enough molecules within a cell and you no longer have a cell; kill enough cells in an organ and the organ ceases to function; watch your discussion partner ingest enough alcohol and his sentences will cease to be coherent.
Phillip Clayton, "Mind & Emergence".
Admittedly not the funniest... I guess it caught my fancy because of its resemblance to this Monty Python bit, (though less racist and sexually explicit) in a fairly serious and dense tome.


Passing of the Moment
Oh, huh... BC-Creator Johnny Hart died. It's weird seeing his early stuff when he was a bit cutting edge, and not just in the weird "Fundamentalist Wacko" way.

busy busy busy

(4 comments)
April 9, 2006
Probably not much on kisrael today... too many things going on, but I wanted just to say...hey.

mount monadnock here i come

(2 comments)
April 9, 2005
Not much time for updating...we're going mountain hiking... Mount Monadnock. We won't be taking the most difficult trail, but wish me luck anyway....


Quote of the Moment
"I slept on the ground with a good man and a bottle of whiskey and somebody really loved me for what I was."
Gladys "Killem" Gillem, on her post-wrestling life,
from this Slate review of "Lipstick & Dynamite, Piss & Vinegar: The First Ladies of Wrestling."

Now I know where "The Fabulous Moolah", the one woman manager on WWF back in the "Rock and Wrasslin" days, came from!

don't take the law into your own hands -- you take them to court

(4 comments)
April 9, 2004
Off to divorce court. Between that and the house sale it might be a low content day.

UPDATE: So, that's that. Went to the courthouse in Cambridge: the judge didn't show up 'til an hour and a half after the appointed hour, which was a little annoying. The actual process was over pretty quickly, just a few questions. The judge asked if Mo had gotten the petition form-y thing off the Internet (she had) and then later mentioned it was a very complex document, he had to read it twice.

It's not clear if it's 90 days from today, or from when we filed the paperwork a month ago.


Passage and Article of the Moment
But meanwhile, here's the Top 100 Sites you didn't know you couldn't live without. Shouldn't "didn't know I could live without" be like a potentially fatal condition?


Article of the Moment
Ben-Veniste brought up the much-discussed PDB--the President's Daily Briefing by CIA Director George Tenet--of Aug. 6, 2001. For the first time, he revealed the title of that briefing: "Bin Laden Determined To Attack Inside the United States."

Rice insisted this title meant nothing. The document consisted of merely "historical information" about al-Qaida--various plans and attacks of the past. "This was not a 'threat report,' " she said. It "did not warn of any coming attack inside the United States." Later in the hearing, she restated the point: "The PDB does not say the United States is going to be attacked. It says Bin Laden would like to attack the United States."

To call this distinction "academic" would be an insult to academia.


Top Ten Rejected Titles For The Upcoming Gay Western of the Moment
10. "The Good, The Bad And The Hunky"
9. "How The West Was Redecorated"
8. "The Adventures Of Frank And Jesse And James"
7. "Seven Brothers For Seven Brothers"
6. "Butch Cassidy And The Even Butcher Sundance Kid"
5. "Rio Lesbo"
4. "Dances with Men"
3. "The Magnificent Seven Inches"
2. "Go West, Young Man...Now South... A Little More To The South... Oh God, Yes! Right There!"
1. "A Fistful Of Wild Bill"

he'd walk a mile to smoke a camel

(1 comment)
April 9, 2003
War Images of the Moment
Boston Globe: "Staff Sergeant Chad Touchett enjoyed a cigarette [Monday] in a presidential palace in Baghdad." Man, I'm almost surprised they let such a blatant "pro-smoking" message through...

Silhouette of former SAS commando Andy McNab from this CNN interview on that restaurant strike. Good interview (even though now they're saying he Saddam got away) but the image is here because, at least on LCD monitors, I'm fascinated at how "3D" the right side of the background looks, like one of those strangely filtered/refracted books I had when I was a kid.


News Commentary of the Moment
Talk and News radio was kind of odd on my commute this morning...live coverage from Baghdad, and in some cases it seemed like it was the audio feed of tv reporting. "Stick a fork in it, it's done" was the general tone, emphasizing the celebratory nature of the Marines (who may have out maneuvered the Army forces on the PR front) in the center of town.

So things seem to be going a lot better than they did a week and a half ago, and the city fighting isn't as bad as some of the earlier guerilla attacks would have suggested. Still, NPR has a lot of coverage of the humanitarian disaster in the making; we really need to get our acts together in terms of medical supplies, food, and water. Also, there's a lot of fighting left to go.

And all this celebrating...I mean, there's good cause to be happy that our guys are going to be safe sooner rather than later, and that maybe we really can help Iraq become something better for its people and the world, but it almost feels like the radio's playing up the good news (and in really smarmy ways sometimes, waiting outside the apartment of the Iraqi ambassador to the UN) and obscuring some of the bad news of the moment: doubts about Osama's and Saddam's fates, an economy grinding its gears yet again.

And for me, some doubts still remain. We always thought the war was going to be somewhat easy, and the peace rather hard. And the jury is still out on if in the long run, this makes us more safe or less safe--hopefully the lack of major terrorist activity in the meanwhile, despite calls by clerics and others to have just that, is a positive sign.


Link of the Moment
Have you seen the dullest blog in the world?

slice and dice

April 9, 2002
So Mo got laid off yesterday...the timing came as a bit of a surprise, we thought her company was all set 'til mid summer. Layoffs are so romantic, when you do them...together.

Also, the Blender Message Board was attacked by multiple postings of this hundred-line rant/posting of private correspondence. I had to take more severe security measures for the first time.

What a suck day!


Link of a Past Moment
An interesting Salon article from 1997, Sliced Off by the Cutting Edge, about a techworker who finally was falling behind the technological curve. I have small hopes but that my own independent interest will help keep me current, but you know. I already think anything can be done in 20 lines of Perl...


The Fun of Online Only Friends
ranjit: it's Spring Cleaning day! I need distraction from my imaginary internet friends so I don't actually have to clean.
kirk: I'm imaginary now?
kirk: I can live with that.
ranjit: Well, as far as I know.
ranjit: it's my new philosophy of e-solipsism.

two types of bugs

April 9, 2001
Quote of the Moment
Humans chase love the same way that bugs chase bright light.


Slashsdot Link of the Moment
NT even sucks in outer space. You know, it seems odd that NASA would use off the shelf OSes and e-mail-- especially when it's not even Unix. They should have some kind of freaky Space OS! (Oh wait, maybe that's what the Russians' computers are doing...)

"Unflavorable"
          --Paul Morville
98-4-9
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"To make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe"
          --Carl Sagan
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Troy leaving is making me think about my career- maybe Paul will have some thoughts.
98-4-9
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