"am i not your lord" and other big questions

The Quran--the book that, we are told, comes from the divine encounters Muhammad had over a period of years--contains a striking story about Smokey [Bear "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires...Only You"] responsibility. At the very beginning, when God created human beings, before any of them entered the world, God asked them, "Am I not your Lord?" Every single one answered yes. And God took note so that no one who disregarded God's commands in their earthly life could plead ignorance.
Volf, Croasmun, McAnnally-Linz, "Life Worth Living: A Guide to What Matters Most"
I had not heard this aspect of Islam before, but I guess it's a pretty good dodge for that "but what about people who never get to hear about the REAL God" question that has driven a lot of Christian missionary work and some doctrine (like "limbo" for infants who die unbaptized) I mean I think it would still be sus that so many people got such a bigger familial and cultural dose of Allah than others, but still.

The "Life Worth Living" book is a wide but not deep survey along with some guided exercises about ponder The Question.

I feel like I've thought about my answers to that big question a lot already: for me, humanity's purpose is to create categorical novelty in this part of the Universe, kindness is paramount, there is DEFINITELY a universal absolute moral truth (that is an emergent property of human interaction) but we DEFINITELY can't KNOW what it is (so the universal truth might be one being multifaceted and culturally-subjective but it exists, so I reject existential "believe whatever you want there are no rules"), and the best way to live is a kind of cheerful Buddhist-tinged Epicureanism; seeking a cheerful, sustainable pleasant moderation.

One other bit I pulled from the book is journalist Kathryn Schulz asking her TED audience "How does it feel to be wrong?", but they would answer "how does it feel to REALIZE you are wrong" - because being wrong without realizing it feels exactly the same as being right.

from Douglas Adams' "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish"

Ford flipped the switch which he saw was marked "Mode Execute Ready" instead of the now old-fashioned "Access Standby" that had so long ago replaced the appallingly stone-aged "Off."
Douglas Adams, "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish"

Now Arthur knew this dog, and he knew it well. It belonged to [Will,] an advertising friend of his, and was called Know-Nothing-Bozo the Non-Wonder Dog because the way its hair stood up on its head reminded people of the President of the United States of America an animal so stupid that it had been sacked from one of Will's own commercials for being incapable of knowing which dog food it was supposed to prefer, despite the fact that the meat in all the other bowls had engine oil poured all over it.
Douglas Adams, "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish"

"So. Here you are.
They looked at each other for a moment.
The moment became a longer moment, and suddenly it was a very long moment, so long one could hardly tell where all the time was coming from.
For Arthur, who could usually contrive to feel self-conscious if left alone for long enough with a Swiss cheese plant, the moment was one of sustained revelation. He felt on the sudden like a cramped and zoo-born animal who wakes one morning to find the door to his cage hanging quietly open and the savanna stretching gray and pink to the distant rising sun, while all around new sounds are waking.
He wondered what the new sounds were as he gazed at her openly wondering face and her eyes that smiled with a shared surprise.
He hadn't realized that life speaks with a voice to you, a voice that brings you answers to the questions you continually ask of it, had never consciously detected it or recognized its tones until it now said something it had never said to him before, which was "yes."
Douglas Adams, "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish"
(I have a vague memory like maybe this was Mo's reading at our wedding way back when. But overall I had forgotten what a romantic book this was. Also that Arthur buys an Apple computer (for a hot minute I thought it was a Mac but probably not given that the book was written summer of 1984))
One so often hurts the one one loves, especially if one is a Fuolornis Fire Dragon with breath like a rocket booster and teeth like a park fence.
Douglas Adams, "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish"

"Search me, buster," said the creature. "As I said, I'm new here. Life is entirely strange to me. What's it like?"
Here was something that Ford felt he could speak about with authority.
"Life," he said, "is like a grapefruit."
"Er, how so?"
"Well, it's sort of orangy-yellow and dimpled on the outside, wet and squidgy in the middle. It's got pips inside, too. Oh, and some people have half a one for breakfast."
Douglas Adams, "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish"

Mrs. E. Kapelsen of Boston, Massachusetts, was an elderly lady; indeed, she felt her life was nearly at an end. She had seen a lot of it, been puzzled by some but, she was a little uneasy to feel at this late stage, bored by too much. It had all been very pleasant, but perhaps a little too explicable, a little too routine.
Douglas Adams, "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish"

I'm not trying to prove anything, by the way. I'm a scientist and I know what constitutes proof. But the reason I call myself by my childhood name is to remind myself that a scientist must also be absolutely like a child. If he sees a thing, he must say that he sees it, whether it was what he thought he was going to see or not. See first, think later, then test. But always see first. Otherwise you will only see what you were expecting. Most scientists forget that.
Wonko the Sane in Douglas Adams, "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish"

The Inside of Everyday Objects...

May 13, 2022


May 13, 2021

We often have to explain to young people why study is useful. It's pointless telling them that it's for the sake of knowledge, if they don't care about knowledge. Nor is there any point in telling them that an educated person gets through life better than an ignoramus, because they can always point to some genius who, from their standpoint, leads a wretched life. And so the only answer is that the exercise of knowledge creates relationships, continuity, and emotional attachments. It introduces us to parents other than our biological ones. It allows us to live longer, because we don't just remember our own life but also those of others. It creates an unbroken thread that runs from our adolescence (and sometimes from infancy) to the present day. And all this is very beautiful.
Umberto Eco

We do put bras on if the family requests. And the reality is I've probably put on more bras than I have taken off.
Really enjoyable if incredibly morbid video! I do have strong doubts about the specifics of a typical USA funeral - all this rigamarole to try to fake up a lively-looking corpse, and then hang out with it for a bit, but only in specific ways, seems unnatural to me, along with the urgency of trying to keep the coffin all watertight and pristine, but still, great video.
Why do paedophiles always have beards and glasses? What is it about that look that children find so sexy?
Frankie Boyle
This is joke is in horrific taste but it is the only one from the GTA IV comedy clubs that has stuck with me.

May 13, 2020

RIP Little Richard

May 13, 2019

Part of the journey is the end.
Avengers: Endgame.
I like this message, along with "Waiting is" it's a reminder not to discount times just because they aren't the sweet spot.

May 13, 2018

Ninja cat runs the gauntlet:

two more "Run" videos

May 13, 2017


Jeez I love these. "Nice catch Blanco Nino. Too bad your ass got -- sssssssaaacked". Fenslerfilms = genius, and now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

May 13, 2016

If you get the least bit bored, just flick the nudity switch and remember that everyone around you could possibly get nude at any moment.
Bruce Hainley, via the very friendly German indie porn film "Schnick Schnack Schnuck" (Rock Paper Scissors)

Buchanan, if you ever hear of a group getting together to stop X, be sure to put your money on X.
Lots of interesting potential parallels to 2016.

May 13, 2015

Jamie Hewlett did a set of illustrations for "Common People" (though sadly I mostly just know know the Wiliam Shatner / Joe Jackson version.)

May 13, 2014

Just had a dream about the Passion of the Christ being re-enacted with bottles of fruit juice by Android-phone enthusiasts. Pontius Pilate was played by a bottle of premium Cranberry Juice.
Learning to Pole Dance: Expectation vs Reality made me laugh, out loud, twice, so I'm reposting it here.

the planet doesn't care if we die

My Zero G flight video:

"Let me ask you something -- do you ever get the sense that your wife feels that she could have done better?"
"God no. Nah, She's the luckiest woman on earth. I mean, if anything, I could have done better. The noises that come out of that woman at night? It's like she's that black guy from Police Academy."
[Phone Chimes] "Oh, speak of the devil... message from my wife, not the black guy from Police Academy. Oh that'd be so awesome."
"Yeah, that'd be neat."
Modern Famliy

Jolly Time 100-calorie Kettle Corn packs are much better than the Orville Redenbacher's. FWIW.

May 13, 2013

This was one of the 5 days (2011.07.07, 2013.03.16, 2013.05.04, 2013.05.08, 2013.05.13) I missed, as of this site's 5000th entry on Sep 8 2014...

mlk jr, pool shark


--Man looks like MLK jr had some mad pool skills. via Cracked

blender of love digest

it is, truly, a dog's life


--Loved "Two Dogs Dining" in a "camp skit" kind of way
Amber says Dunkin Dounuts should start Boston Kreme munchkins. I say they NEED to do it for the sake of the nation.
I love Outlook. Sure, preserving 1988's "80 column" standard is more important than not breaking URLs you've linkified, why not.

rave & watch


--via gifanime. Shout out to the old Game & Watch
While money can't buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.

http://www.macrumors.com/2010/05/12/apple-gives-a-nod-to-newton-with-new-what-is-ipad-ad/ - Apple echoing the old Newton ads with the iPod spot... man, the old Newton looks pretty good in those!


(1 comment)
I respect kindness in human beings first of all, and kindness to animals. I don't respect the law; I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer.
Also, Whitman:
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
Great stuff.
I like Big-Endian and I cannot lie
You other geeks can't deny
When the order of the bits is the same as the bytes
You know that sh*t be tight
Perl/Java MD5 Victory Rhyme

it's substitute for human experience good!

I hadn't gotten into iTunes store, in part because it seemed like DRM'd hell. But Amazon sells individual MP3 tracks for $.99! That's terrific when they have the album you want. You can listen to a (generally well-selected) snippet, and that is enough like my process of deciding what music actually gets onto my iPhone that I don't feel compelled to buy entire albums.

I've never been a believer in the "album" as the basic unit of music. At best it's a large and potentially unstable molecule. A song is an atom, and it has quantum subparts of melodies, harmonies, lyrics, hooks, and rhythm. (And I usually only care about those last three.)

I'm sure I've spent at least $5K on CDs over the years, and the number of tracks that just seem like filler is astounding. I try not to be completely "hit singles" centric, there are a number of "B sides" I love, but I'm just done with listening to whole albums.

Video of the Moment

--Yogurt: Food of Women! I love this; it's funny and goofy and snarky but still a bit understated.

Quote of the Moment
Friendship lives on its income, love devours its capital.
Arsène Houssaye.
I'm not sure I grasp the full implication; is it condemning love as unsustainable?
I secretly think everyone is incompetent and needs to be protected, except for me. I KNOW I'm incompetent
Roy Blount Jr writing about the h-before-w sound in 'what' YEARS before Chappele's "Lil John" "HUHWHUT? OKAY"
peeve: other books that put the authors name atop each page in lieu of chapter titles
dick donovan's 117 mile homerun; landed on a freight train to Chatanooga
old SEO: repeating keywords. how quaint! did google provoke comment spam?
at the corner of boylston and charles, heed the "don't walk" timer... cars are a-comin'!
so difficult to get an objective view of life; why should my mood be whatever the last two hours were? maybe Buddhist detachment is key.
pizza from Viga comes on a plate in foil, shut in a flat brown paper bag w/ a little sticker. "That looks good!" says a coworker-he's right!
where and how can i get a therapist who speaks zen detachment, existential courage, humanist possibility, daoist sense of flow?
cmgaglione damn i was thinking "somewhere in cambridge"
i'd be willing to bet twenty bucks that "tweeter.com" has an a surprising uptick of frontpage hints since october 2006
cmgaglione I don't see why; I've made the typo for twitter about 5 times.

ET phone home. or just get up off of that damn couch!

In Nyack with dear ol' Major Mom... as my dad would say from the pulpit, "Hello to all you mothers out there!"

Thought of the Moment
Thoughts on one final Dangerous Idea: Geoffrey Miller thinks that Runaway Consumerism explains the Fermi Paradox, that maybe we've never been contacted by alien intelligences because they get very self-absorbed and lose some their drive and energy once their culture reaches a certain narcissistic point.

He points out
We don't seek reproductive success directly; we have always sought tasty foods, which tended to promote survival, and luscious mates, who tended to produce bright, healthy babies. Modern results: fast food and pornography.
(I wish I could google up this one article I read about researchers who made up a crude parody of a female fish, but sexed up... to a human it look nothing like a fish, but its oversized tailfin and waggling motion made it more attractive to the boy fishes than any girl fish could ever hope to be. That sometimes seems like a rich metaphorical landscape for our celebrity-obsessed culture.)

Miller then goes on to argue that the survivors will probably be fringe groups who combine "the family values of the religious right with the sustainability values of the Greenpeace left" (Heh, you know... that just reminded me of Heinlein's writing, especially Lazarus Long) who find the pop-culture abhorent. He further argues that this might already be happening with Christian and Moslem fundamentalists.

Video of the Moment

--OK... Likely (but cleverly) faked, and even secretly advertising for Ray Bans, but still... very goofy appealing. Wouldn't that be an odd superpower?

The irony, or appropriateness, of posting this kind of stuff right after that last bit about the Fermi Paradox explanation is not lost on me.

something's fishy

Political Potshot of the Moment
I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound perch in my lake.
Bush when asked about the high point of his presidency by a German newspaper, according to this article.
Now, this would either be a world-record setting perch, a lie, a mistake, or a mistranslation. (Later transcripts possibly correct it to "bass") But even giving him the benefit of the doubt, I reserve the right to be annoyed by the tone of his response, the blasé approach to the highest office of the land. (via Bill the Splut)

Crappy Photoshopping of the Moment
--Man, I gotta get me some better tools for doing this kind of thing... this could also be a good bumper sticker for Air Force One...


So the other day my Tufts alumni connection brought be some disturbing news. No, not that they had possibly been hacked and all my personal information they have on me was at risk -- worse. A guy named Kirk Jalbert was having his MFA thesis exhibition at Tufts' Aidekman Gallery, and it had an Atari theme. The implication was, for me, enormous: not only might I not be the biggest source of Atari 2600 mojo to come from Tufts University, I might not even be the biggest source of Atari 2600 mojo to come from Tufts University named Kirk. Troubling indeed, and further investigation was in order.

Kirk Jalbert's piece is named Illusion/Elusion and the description is as follows:
Why do outdated technologies proliferate in mainstream culture? As a member of the first generation of virtual-capable human beings, my body has grown proprioceptively comfortable with its on-screen counterpart. Interactive experiences of the past, once difficult, are now navigated with ease. Physical and mental reference points have been created. We have evolved, yet still return to earlier virtual experiences sometimes bent by the interference of distorted memory. Illusion/Elusion is an exploration of these nostalgic fascinations through elementary interactions with an Atari2600-based system.
Phew, quite a mouthful. Answers.com reports that proprioception is "The unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body itself." Hmm, ok. "Interactive experiences of the past, once difficult, are now navigated with ease" -- interesting. At first I thought he meant that modern games are easier, but actually he means the old games are simpler than their modern-day counterparts.

Anyway, onto the work itself. (I didn't ask if it was ok to take photos or not, so I took these on the sly. Hopefully I won't get a nastygram about all this review...)

The set up at Aidekman has 3 TVs on stands on one side and then a mass of assorted, repetitious hardware (including some brightly painted Atari 2600s) attached to the nearby walls with lots of strung wire connecting it all.

Each TV has a good ol' Atari CX40 joystick, headphones, and 2 buttons (one "illusion" the other "elusion"). The TVs switch between Pitfall!, Frogger, Pac-Man, and this old black and white video from the 50s or something. The "illusion" button seems to act as a reset for the game, and the "elusion" seems to switch to the video, and also sometimes the TVs seem to switch of their own accord. The reception was really terrible on some of the TVs, it wasn't clear if this was on purpose or not.

The hardware was interesting to look at. It produced pleasing, cricket-like clicks which seemed to correspond with the switching of the TV displays.

The Ataris were brightly colored, and each had a rebadged cart in its slot. Not the sharpest looking homebrew stickers I've seen, but hey.

So, that was pretty much it. I suppose people's reaction to the work will have hinge on how they feel about modern and interactive art in general. (I generally like interactive art just so long as the viewer can actually tell that the work is responding to them and not just noodling along on its own.) Personally, I think "Art is what you can get away with", and this was reasonably interesting and visually pleasing, so I thought it was pretty good over all. On the other hand, it wasn't engrossing for that long...and of course some of the appeal was just playing a bit of Pitfall and Pac-Man, which I hadn't for a while. (And I probably have much more recently than most of the intended audience.) I suppose that ties into the theme of "technological tourism", the simple nostalgic pleasure of these old games. I think the whole 2D iconic representation of the games is a rich territory that Kirk Jalbert downplays in favor of the "it's just nostalgia" vibe. Also, the title "illusion/elusion" is pretentious as all hell...

So I give it a thumbs up. It gives me hope that someday if I ever get around to my "Myth of Sisyphus" 2600 game and make or followup a few contacts, maybe I can get some gallery time somewhere...

playful sisyphus

Quote of the Moment
"How about Sisyphus, the guy who pushed a rock up a hill for eternity? That fits this project."

"Hmmm...I like it! It conveys a sense of playfulness."

"It's supposed to convey a sense of futility!"

"You have to look at it from the rock's point of view."

Dilbert and Pointy Hair Boss from the "Dilbert" TV show
(I used to paraphrase it as "Sisyphus has a sense of playfulness [...] you have to look at it from the rock's point of view.")

Photo of the Moment

--Peterman cleaning up after some late night cement stair patching. I came up with the idea of using my car's highbeams.

X-Files of the Moment
UFOs over New Mexico? WTF? It seems to be taken pretty seriously even though it feels like some kind of publicity stunt. (Thanks for the Old/New Mexico correction UnavailableName5)

oh chess, chess, ba-bee

Game Review of the Moment
Chess, a small-scale tactical turn-based strategy game, attempts to adopt the age-old "easy to learn, difficult to master" parameter made popular by Tetris. But the game's cumbersome play mechanics and superficial depth and detail all add up to a game that won't keep you busy for long.
Written from the perspective of a computer wargamer, as if Chess was a new game. Funny, I think. I tracked it down after having it in the back of my mind for a long while.

Quote of the Moment
You'd better make some noise while you can, because when you're dead, you shut up like HELL!
Reverend Ivan Stang, founder of the Church of the Subgenius.
The only trouble is that it brings to mind the Weird Al chorus "I'll be mellow when I'm dead..."

Image of the Moment
New currency designs always look wrong, but a big slash of peach? Ugh.

wokka wokka

So I'm running XP now...looks like they finally improved Notepad so it can handle files bigger than 32K or whatever. Wow, I thought maybe they had lost the sourcecode to that...

Link of the Moment
Hey, a classic video game strip that's actually pretty funny, "2600" - Capers. Someone posted the link on rec.games.video.classic 2 years after the question was posted...I'll let you in on a little secret...I thought the interface for the comic collection was pretty bad, and doesn't seem to be getting any kind of per-page ad money or anything, so I made a single page holding all 85 cartoons.

Link of 4 Days Ago
Dang, forgot to throw this in when I was talking about Temple Grandin the other day: it's the Institute for the Study of the Neurologically Typical, a page especially for autistics who may have loved NTs (Neurologically Typical) people in their life.

Quote of the Moment
There's an old joke. Uh, two elderly women are at a Catskills mountain resort, and one of 'em says, 'Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.' The other one says, 'Yeah, I know, and such small portions.' Well, that's essentially how I feel about life. Full of loneliness and misery and suffering and unhappiness, and it's all over much too quickly.
Woody Allen, Annie Hall

"hello, mutha"

Quote of the Moment
Hello to all you mothers out there.
Captain James Israel.
(He was a minister in the Salvation Army, and loved to say this while peering over the pulpit at Mother's Day services.)

As for your other question--can this possibly work out?--that depends on what you mean by "work out." If you mean falling in love, getting married, and growing old together, then, no, it's not going to work out. If you mean having some fun and enjoying the time you have together (you enjoy his maturity and experience, he enjoys your youth and orifices), then, yes, it's going to work out fine.
--Dan Savage, in response to "I'm boinking my college TA"
Sounds as if Mike has even bigger existential issues than I do- or at least it seems that his main coping mechanism is avoiding thinking about it. (Hm- he was a late Y2K pessimist as well.) I gain comfort from my skeptic friends who can deal with it and buddies like Mike get me down.
That Heinlein "live every golden moment like you had eternity" makes more sense to me now. And life is long, and our poor memories can aid that feeling- less than a year ago I chatted about Y2K with
Mike at the 4th of July on the Charles but it seems so very distant. Maybe if I pay attention I can avoid the "seems like only yesterday" syndrome.

Just checked dejanews for my own posts in talk.philosopy.humanism- I was having some of the samc attacks a year ago (though they were "EMP pulse stoneage" inspired, this journal indicates.)
They have treelawns, however.
Sportsman's Guide feels like it might be doomed doomed doomed.