May 5, 2021

Two contrasting articles, and I realized they're both from The Atlantic.

One is on people who aren't going to take the vaccine. I think most of these folks are being personal wusses (none of the sets of side effect are all THAT bad) and ignoramuses about how public health works, but I think it's good to try to see where they are coming from: "This is the no-vaxxer deep story in a nutshell: *I trust my own cells more than I trust pharmaceutical goop; I trust my own mind more than I trust liberal elites‪.*"

The second (with some coverage of Somerville, where I just moved from) hits even closer to home: The Liberals Who Can't Quit Lockdown.

Where and how to get off the quarantine treadmill is a tricky one! There's absolutely an aspect of group affiliation, as well as a culture of caution and anxiety, that moves beyond what the science is saying. Masks - besides doing their job of disrupting the spread - have become a short had for "I give a shit about science and public health". And now we're in a middle zone, where someone going without a mask might just be vaccinated up and aware of the minimized risk, or they might be a yahoo who has always preferred to roll the dice.

Switching gears is tough. I used to kind of roll my eyes at people outdoors who would go mask down but then raise it when other's approached, but now it seems like a reasonable compromise. (Of course, the vaccine situation was different when my prejudice was born) Admittedly outdoors plus a little space has always been maybe not as dangerous as some of us have feared.

Silver lining of walking outdoors mask down/mask up - it really makes you appreciate the freshness of outdoor air!

(Man, The Atlantic really seems to be near the top of the production of thoughtful articles, I'm glad I'm a subscriber.)

May 5, 2020

From a tumblr entry about a Press Start! (Retro Gaming) Series by Greg Dmnt.

Super cool use of the design cues of the various old game consoles...

May 5, 2019

Cora and Chas after their (first) School of Honk Dance Party:

can value judgements be objectively realized, or is morality always subjective?

May 5, 2018
I remember 5 years ago, being struck by this passage from the chapter "Total Turnaround", in Augusten Burrough's book "Magical Thinking" and is about the author hiding his boyfriend's old formula moisturizer skin cream so that he'll try some new stuff:
He returned, indignant. "I mean it. Where is it?"

I sighed. "Okay, fine," I said. I padded across the floor and went to the closet where I barely reached--certainly no stretching--to the top shelf and produced his favorite pale green bottle. I handed it to him and became serious. "But will you at least try the new one?"

"I'll try it," but I knew he wouldn't .

I explained the situation to him, doctor to patient. "Look. This will be better for your skin because it will remove more dead epithelial cells. I mean, I know it's just lotion, but there have been advances." I emphasized the word "advances," knowing that Dennis is wary of advances.

"Fine," he said, "I'll try it."

I was somewhat annoyed by his resistance to change, and I also felt like he was still angry with me for hiding his oily lotion, so when we crawled into bed that evening I said, "Are you pissed at me for hiding it?"

"Yes," he said, like a child who was very mad at having his blocks taken away.

I smiled and nestled against him. He kissed my shoulder. I'd never felt closer to him because I did know that he was mad and yet it didn't matter: He loved me enough to be mad at me and not then have to reconsider the entire relationship.

5 years ago I wrote "You know, I think I have trouble feeling that in general, though I don't think it's the fault of the people who love(d) me."

So now - I feel like this resonates for me less in a familial way but in what I was taught about the divine; screw up too badly and eternal punishment awaits. I'm over the literal belief in that, but a deep anxiety-tinged concern about in line with a universal sense of what one should do still resonates.

Been talking with EB, who thinks the hope for an overarching objective moral framework is misguided; everyone does their moral reasoning based on their subjective view, one impressed on them by their culture and then later firmed up by their experience and growth.

On the one hand, parts of that are undeniable; you aren't going to be able to convince anyone of anything if it's too far outside their current landscape. And yet I don't quite believe that our attempts to convince, to mature the moral reasoning of ourselves and others, is totally dependent on hopping from one lily pad of subjective belief to another.

If someone says to another "It's wrong that he treated her that way", that person's not meaning "in my current moral calculus, that was wrong" or "in the shared overlap of our moral outlooks, that was wrong" or even "in the weighted average of every moral landscape of people that you and I would find reasonable, that was wrong". It's just wrong. ("R, O, N, G, *wrong*" as Mr. Pawlowski, my 11th grade math teacher would say)

My reasoning is that there is a sense of objective morality there - as Rebecca Goldstein says, "Universal consent is not what makes for moral truth." so even if the Nazis had triumphed and killed everyone who didn't agree with them and there wasn't a single morally reasoning creature left who demurred, that would not make them morally correct.

But - I do think people are useful guideposts to what might be most likely universally true. Or, maybe it's even more subtle than that - weirder in an emergent way, in the Taoist way "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" pointed me to.

Human morality doesn't pre-exist humans doing moral and immoral things, just like the platonic ideal of a chair wouldn't have pre-existed humans selecting or making items to sit on. Instead, in a dang near impossible to put into words way, the boundary of actual chairs (or moral acts) and our interactions with them build up a transcendent guidepost of what chairs, or moral acts, "should" be - the only meaningful guidepost to the discernment of what is of higher and lower quality.

(EB pointed me to Plato's The Form of the Good which got further to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance than I expected - but if this lay summary of Plato's forms is a guide, I'm not sure if Plato sets out where the forms come from. The form of the idea chair only emerges from actual chairs. Plato says the forms are eternal, but I don't know if he means into the past or merely the future.)

And it might be virtue is objective, but still only applicable in relative ways - you can compare two outlooks or put them roughly on a scale, but there is no ultimate singular virtuous ruling.

So in short, if EB is right, I don't see how we escape an existential relativist landscape. No way to tell someone they're wrong in a meaningful way, just hope to point out internal contradictions and hope they're wise enough to accept that, or make a pitch that "sure your moral system is decent, but here's one that's a bit better, and hopefully your current moral system is at least strong enough to recognize that superiority..."

But, getting back to the original Burroughs passage; even if I find EB's outlook rather dour, and almost postmodern (not that everyone's entitled to their own facts, but they are entitled to their own value judgements), it might free me a bit to be more relaxed that it might be true, at least reminding me that I don't believe there's singular judge waitin' to get me in the end - and that even without Objective Virtue, people are still keepin' on keepin' on.

smooth predestinate curves

May 5, 2017
From Patrick O'Brian's "Master and Commander":
A gentle push from above heeled the Sophie over, then another and another, each more delightfully urgent until it was one steady thrust; she was under way, and all along her side there sang a run of living water.
'The only feelings I have--for what they are--are for men as individuals; my loyalties, such as they may be, are to private persons alone.’
‘Patriotism will not do?’
‘My dear creature, I have done with all debate. But you know as well as I, patriotism is a word; and one that generally comes to mean either *my country, right or wrong*, which is infamous, or *my country is always right*, which is imbecile.’
There was great activity aboard her: there was great activity aboard the three other vessels of the convoy –men racing up and down, shouts, whistles, the distant beating of a drum –but in this gentle breeze, and with so little canvas abroad, they all of them moved with a dream-like slowness, quietly following smooth predestinate curves.
‘THERE ARE TIMES,’ said James quietly, ‘when I understand your partiality for your friend. He derives a greater pleasure from a smaller stream of wit than any man I have ever known.’
‘What a romantic creature you are, to be sure,’ said Stephen. ‘A ball fired from a privateer’s cannon makes the same hole as a king’s.’
‘Me, romantic?’ cried James with real indignation, an angry light coming into his green eyes.
‘Yes, my dear,’ said Stephen, taking snuff. ‘You will be telling me next about their divine right.’
‘Well, at least even you, with your wild enthusiastic levelling notions, will not deny that the King is the sole fount of honour?’
‘Not I,’ said Stephen. ‘Not for a moment.’
I really liked the phrase "smooth predestinate curves."...

May 5, 2016

Slate on The To-Done List - I know I've been doing a lot of this over the years, especially in terms of books read / media consumed (one downside it kind of "game-ifies" it, and I start getting worried about the numbers.) I also started a list of big projects done - I really wish I had done that over the years.
Alas, after a certain age every man is responsible for his face
Albert Camus
In every real man a child is hidden who wants to play.
Friedrich Nietzsche
"When marrying, ask yourself this question: Do you believe that you will be able to converse well with this person into your old age? Everything else in marriage is transitory."
Friedrich Nietzsche.
All 3 of these quotes from Daniel Klein's "Travels with Epicurus", a brief tome about dealing with being old philosophically.
The UI of Star Wars. Love this stuff.


May 5, 2015 Sorry to hear "A Softer World", one of my favorite webcomics, is winding now, but they're kickstarting a bestof book.

May 5, 2014

My April, one second at a time... I liked April 4th where I took out my iPhone with a well-aimed nerf dart, and the 12th, where I am knee deep in an outdoor pool I'm helping scoop out.

When citizens of this country approach their government, they do so only as Americans, not as a members of one faith or another. And that means that even in a partly legislative body, they should not confront government-sponsored worship that divides them along religious lines.

May 5, 2013

May Blender of Love

Good lord, they're right. Eat apples from the top down or bottom up. (When you get to the seeds, you can just shake them out, a detail the post doesn't mention.) Eat the ENTIRE apple. You will barely notice the core that seems so terrible when you're eating around its equater.
Life always has an unhappy ending, but you can have a lot of fun along the way, and everything doesn't have to be dripping in deep significance.
Roger Ebert.
The final quote of his I'll be posting, and probably my favorite.

val kilmer removing his glasses

May 5, 2012

I like it when your beard is trimmed, but as it grows longer you look more like an ewok.
My Mom Friday Evening

ez meter

May 5, 2011
--Another prototype for work. This ones a little different, because of just being in Java processing, here it's being run by javascript processing.js (which means it doesn't work in IE at the moment...
Man, watching videos of real people using your UI is super harsh and painful medicine for anyone making UIs...
Your mind is doing tricks to disguise how processing visuals takes longer than sounds. You can observe this if you really pay attention -- people's voice and lips moving will seem out of synch if you really try to track it!

color me nerdy

(1 comment)
May 5, 2010

--from this cool xkcd project about naming colors. Some laughs in that link, especially the "color by gender" graphs.
Apparently the Aquapocalypse wasn't all that apocalyptic - tests confirm water was OK to drink all weekend. - wonder if iPad is way to get people to accept "files live in the cloud". I'm kind of a control feak when it comes to my files though...
the best way to think of iPhone OS devices: app consoles.

this blood's for you

May 5, 2009

drawblood2 - source - built with processing
Happy Birthday to My Ever Lovin' Aunt Susan! (MELAS). She admitting to finding the original version of this (thrown together in like 10 minutes) a bit cathartic, so for her birthday I took her suggestion and added non-bleeding black-ink (click the black box) as well as making the drawing variable width. (The faster you draw, the wider the line.) [X] clears.

(I was planning on pre-loading the canvas with a bleedin' birthday cake, but it turned out to be a bit too macabre. But enjoy anyway Aunt Susan and have a great birth day and excellent year!) - well organized bookmarks might be better than egalitarian RSS... I do something similar already.
How to regain a sense of urgency about the stuff in my Todo app? It has been hovering in the 10-20 overdue item range for way too long. - Garfield into Japanese and back again. Reminds me of old fun with Babelfish...,0 - the cults of tech. I miss Palm, sometimes.
The Transporter is an incredible piece of technology whose implications could revolutionize an entire culture.

All crewmembers are STRICTLY INSTRUCTED to forget this and treat it like a shiny elevator.

I think a basic innumeracy is at the heart of so much of life. A grid of 10x10 pennies looks so much less than 100...365 days is slow+fast at the same time. We can't even grasp our populations or our budgets.


May 5, 2008
Busy day learning to be a ScrumMaster(tm). It's not as gross or porn-y as that might sound.

Video of the Moment

--Ruby and Lesley Rankine singing for Mountain Dew in the late 90s. One of the joys of youtube is unearthing some bit of pop-culture ephemera you thought was gone forever -- I remember asking about this video on Usenet, trying to get the group and/or singer, I really dig this ad - a bit too much w/ the 90s Awesome Radicalness but some really neat shots, like the reflection in the climber's goggles...

Reminds me a bit of the Sega Scream that used to end all their spots.
scrumaster of scrummasters ken schwaber got sick of his chime being stolen; now he uses a toy duck call
scrum principles: transparency (you suck), compassion (and that makes me sad)

culture eats strategy for breakfast

damnation. after years of i can't believe it didn't pull through yet, my beloved safety hoody's pullstring finally pulled through.

the joy of boolean logic

May 5, 2007
Programming Geekery of the Moment
Today in a UI design meeting one of the consultants mentioned that users "mix up AND and OR" when setting up computer queries.

It took me a moment to get beyond the "sheesh, users!" mindset and start to look at it from their point of view. I think I got it though...

Say you were looking to buy a used car, using some kind of database. And that you wanted a fast car, or at least one that was painted red, so that it looked fast. In computer terms you might set up a database query, something like "SHOW ME CARS WHERE CAR IS FAST OR CAR IS RED". That would give you a list of all the fast cars, and all the red cars, and of course all the cars that were both fast and red. ("SHOW ME CARS WHERE CAR IS FAST AND CAR IS RED" would return only cars that were both fast and red.)

But non-technical users might think of the question differently. They might think of the question as "Show me all fast cars, and show me all the red cars"... I mean, you want to see both sets of cars, right? So there's kind of ambiguity there, depending on how the user interface prompts the user to ask their question.

(Of course, when writing a query builder it gets uglier than that... I mean going back to the first query, what you really want to ask is "SHOW ME CARS WHERE CAR IS USED AND (CAR IS FAST OR CAR IS RED)"... it's a challenge to make queries like that easy for users to enter.)

Vocabulary of the Moment
When I accidentally ran across this word in the dictionary one day, it was instantly familiar, before I even got to the definition.
I didn't need to know phonetics to recognize the approximant liquid of that "or," the plosive "ga," the fricative "z," or the labial, nasal, sigh of the final "um."
Alison Bechdel
She's describing a vocabulary discovery in her touching autobiographical graphic novel "Fun Home". I never realized what a visceral word it is!
Backlink of the Moment
Heh, speaking of cars... Don't hear much from therosser these days, but he LJ'd about how he bought his new Honda Fit site unseen, and it was a kisrael post that first brought it to his attention. That's weirdly flattering!

In my comments on his post I mention how I'm not so crazy about Scion's "replacement" for my xA... and their redesigned xB seems to lose the fun of driving a box.

I know I'm older than their target demographic anyway, but I think I've lost whatever brand loyalty I've had to Scion...

stuck in the middle with you

May 5, 2006
Quote of the Moment
"Measuring in powers of ten, we human beings are almost exactly midway between the largest material object in the universe, the galaxies, and the smallest that we have explored in our particle accelerators, the electrons and quarks. We stand in the middle. From our thin sliver of existence, we want to know everything."
Alan Lightman, epilogue to "The Discoveries".
Just finished that book, a collection of the most important scientific papers of the 20th century, in raw or somewhat abbreviated form, collected and augmented (in terms of background biographical and explanatory essays) by Alan "Einstein's Dreams" Lightman. Dr. Lightman was supposed to be at the meeting of UU "Science and Spirituality" reading and discussion group, but couldn't make it when his travel plans changed at the last minute. Still a great book, it really gives you the sense of the personalities of the various people who made these discoveries, as well as the palpable sense excitement and discovery these must have felt.

Web Design Geekery and Windows Insanity of the Moment
Anyone who does web-develop'y stuff on Windows has probably run into that issue where you get an annoying

even if your local page has just a drop of javascript. This is a typical Windows half-assed "security" hack, and at my current job it was annoying us, because we wanted to use some locally loaded javascript in IE during our installation.

Luckily, there's a work around that doesn't require the user to change security zone settings.... just put this line near the top of your page (there are some other variants of this that work as well):
<!-- saved from url=(0003)x:y -->
That's it! I got that formulation from this Usenet article, which had a link to this excellent in-depth discussion and rant, including several different ways of working around the issue, and explaining just who clue-light Microsoft is with this stuff.

The workaround is so easy I don't know if it makes me laugh or cry... it raises the question, if this is a "security" issue, why is there such a simple workaround? And if not, why hassle people at all? Especially for something as trivial (and I think, well-sandboxed) as Javascript...

Web Use Hint of the Moment
Which reminds me... I've just started installing Google toolbar for its super-nifty spellcheck implementation, it scans for textfields on your currently open webpage and has a very handy way of selecting correcting spellings. You don't even need to show the whole toolbar, you can add the Google pieces-part you want to some of the other bars. (At least in Firefox, I think IE as well) If only there was a way to personalize the dictionary, or at least having common HTML elements in it, it would be darn near perfect.


May 5, 2005
Best Ofs of the Moment
So historically (since 1993, actually) I've been keeping up with video game message boards...Usenet's "" back in the day, and more recently the ones at One frequent type of question that comes up is "what are the best games for [INSERT SYSTEM HERE]?" I decided to finally assemble my answers to those questions in cut-and-pastable form, staring with Nintendo's four home consoles. Now, on the actual "BestOf Series" page you get descriptions about why I thought each one was so cool, but all that info wouldn't fit here.

Mega Man Series
Bionic Commando
Blaster Master
Zelda 2
Solar Jetman
Micro Machines

Honorable Mentions: Smash TV / Archon / SMB3
Tetris Attack
Donkey Kong Country
Super Metroid
Super Mario Kart
Super Punch-Out
Smash TV
Super Mario All-Stars

Honorable Mentions: F-Zero / Super Mario World / Pilotwings
N64 Gamecube
Super Smash Brothers
Mario Party 1 2 3
Mario Kart 64
Diddy Kong Racing
Battle Tanx / Battle Tanx: Global Assault
Rogue Squadron
StarFox 64
Pokemon Puzzle League
Space Station Silicon Valley
Blast Corps

Honorable Mentions: Super Mario 64 / Zelda: Ocarina of Time / Mario Tennis / Blitz 2000
Rogue Squadron: Rogue Leader
Super Monkey Ball 1+2
Super Smash Bros Melee
Mario Kart Double Dash
Mario Power Tennis
Pac-Man Vs
Luigi's Mansion
WarioWare, Inc
Time Splitters 2
Metroid Prime

Honorable Mentions: StarFox: Armada / Zelda: The Wind Waker / Super Mario Sunshine

Article of the Moment
Clever Slate piece pointing out that Wikipedia, that online "anyone can contribute" encyclopedia, is essentially a real-life Hitchhiker's Guide: huge, nerdy, and imprecise. (Especially that bit where the Guide is edited by "any passing stranger who happened to wander into the empty offices on an afternoon and saw something worth doing.")

I'm not deeply into Wiki-culture, but sometimes when I want a subjective overview of a topic I'll put in "wikipedia" as a Google search term. (Maybe there's a more effecient way of searching Wikispace? I don't have a grasp of how things are setup in practice, if there's one Wikipedia or may or what.)

one evil donkey

(1 comment)
May 5, 2004
Image Collection of the Moment the URL says it all. Great browsing.

Quote of the Moment
"I'll call you..."
"For what? We're so over... we need a new word for over."
"Sex in the City".
What strikes me about this quote is how it seems like I saw that episode and grabbed the quote relatively recently, but when I went to look it up, it turns out it was all the way back in 2000. That was before I moved to a weblog format, when everything was recorded in my Palm journal. I'm a little alarmed at not having a good feel for where 2002 and 2003 have both gone. 2001, with its events good and bad (dot com bomb, wedding, 9-11) has a certain weight and heft to it. But I think partially because I've had the same job since 2002 I've lost some of milestones. I might go back and read old kisrael as well as my "mundane" day-to-day journal and try to get a better feel for the time. I'm grateful that I have been such a dutiful journal-keeper; otherwise I would have nothing to say but 'where does the time go?' But now I've left a trail I can follow.

InfoToy of the Moment
I said War -- HUH -- what is it good for? Or at least, where has it been over the last century. I think they could have done a better job with both the color coding as well as maybe using arrows to show when a nation conducts a long range war, but still it was pretty interesting.

i come from the fuuuuuuture!

May 5, 2003
From the website for the museum exhibit Yesterday's Tomorrows. I'm a sucker for this kind of retrofuture city scene.

Quote of the Moment
If you can't beat them, arrange to have them beaten.
George Carlin

News Stories of the Moment
Wired had a piece on replacement for risky "stomach stapling" surgery: pills that expand in the stomach. Seems corny, but also like they've through a lot of the possible complications. had some interesting pieces as well: I haven't heard nearly enough about Bill Bennett's Gambling scandal. Man, case in point for Dan Savage's "Skipping Towards Gomorrah"; stop knocking other people's vices, and don't point out the mote in the other guy's eye when you have a 2x4 dangling from your own.
Also, Fred Kaplan analyzes Al Franken's jibe at Paul Wolfowitz, "Clinton's military did pretty well in Iraq, huh?" Saying yes, in some ways it was Clinton's Legacy in the army--but much R+D is pretty much independent of the presidential office, and Clinton really was reluctant to put any American soldiers at risk. (Of course that was pre-9/11. I think that might have made a difference for any administration.)
Doing a Google News search on "Bill Bennett" is interesting. Some of the first hits are conservative commentators rushing to his aid. They tend to focus on the arguments that presents and rebuts, and then drag out the old Clinton trope. And of course they blame "the liberals"...but really, it's a libertarian kind of view, that Bennett shouldn't be trying to define and dictate people's lifestyles in the first place. (Oddly, the extension of that viewpoint is that people shouldn't pick on his gambling, since its his own "victimless" vice, but...America can be guilted into listening to honest blowhards, but hypocrites get the scorn they deserve. If you're going to preach, you should have the courage to live your convictions.)


May 5, 2002
Odd thing I noticed about my guestbook..."hooked daily entry reader", "Ellen DeGeneres", "Justin Anderson", "Mark T.", and "Paul Gardner" (about half of the last dozer or so entries) all post from the same IP set, one known for abuse by spammers...if I was a more suspicious guy, I'd think something was up!

Nostalgia of the Moment
Bought a new PC yesterday, my previous one was getting pretty long in the tooth. I've decided to name the new one "Monk", just like the previous 4... (Either after "The Electric Monk" from a Douglas Adams book, or short for "Chip Monk", or after "Theolonius Monk". (Warning...extremely boring walk down memory lane follows.)
Monk (1992-1994)
My first PC (before that I had an C=64, and before that an Atari 800XL), a screaming 386 16mhz. I loved playing Wing Commander on that thing! And Elite, and Star Control 2. It might be the only system I installed Linux on...a pre-1.0 release, in fact.
Monk (1994-1997)
Then I moved on up to a 486 66mhz with 16 megs...that was like the gamer machine for a while in the 1990s. I got it in a mammoth tower. It was huuuuuge. Ran Wing Commander 3 like a champ though. And Windows 95 for the first time...I think for some reason I got that on floppies. That took forever to install. Got my butt handed to me on a platter in Duke Nuke'em 3D by all the freshman with their shiny new Pentiums on our new Campus LAN.
Monk (1997-1999)
Got a computer that I thought was a Pentium...turned out to a souped up 486 chip set, as I found out when I tried to run "Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic". Not a bad machine though.
Monk (1999-2002)
Toshiba desktop. Shoulda known something was up when it came with Windows 95, not 98...the USB never did work quite right. Fit nicely under the monitor...assuming I ditch this machine I'm going to have to find a new monitor shelf.
Monk (2002...)
And now, an HP minitower. The case is pretty hefty, actually. Lots and lots of Disk Space, USB that works, DVD player and CD burner built in. Yay me.

Link of the Moment
Ok, today's entry really stunk, so here's a great link: Junkbot! Ranjit helped developed this for Lego at gameLab. It's a good puzzle game. You can also check out its sequel Junkbot Undercover.


May 5, 2001
Whoa-- gotta work on a polling script I promised the keeper of InExOb so not much time...

Final Republican Religous Madness of the Moment (for now)
"Do the members of the crew have Bibles? Why don't they have Bibles? Can we get them Bibles? Would they like Bibles?"
W. Bush's primary concern during the China/Spy Plan crises.

Banner Ad of the Moment

from's banner page

eddie izzard /andy kaufman
 Earwigs, as in ere-wig-o-again. This debate will run and run. There was no year 0 to 400ish, and in fact the calendar was constructed by back calculation by Exegius (who got it wrong) and Bede (who made it worse).  We are stuck with the 7ish year error, and the missing 0, so that 1AD follows 1BC, so we might as well have the party to celebrate the carry propagation.
Reminder: my Honda civic needed an "A-pipe" because the old one cracked and was rattling.
'The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock at the door...'
              the shortest SF-story ever, by Fredric Brown.
"Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it."
-- Alice Walker