May 14, 2022



rule of thirds redux

May 14, 2021
A while back I took a photography class, and of course was introduced to the "rule of thirds", using a "tic-tac-toe" board to help line up things in the shot. (Most cameras/apps have an option to show the thirds.) So I asked my instructor... "this rule of thirds thing... like sometimes we use it to put things in the squares:


Other times the point seems to be to place things on the separating lines or intersections:


So which is it?"

Her wishy-washy response taught me the lesson: mostly it's just a trick to stop newbie photographers from centering every damn shot.

Myth #4 of this video agrees with this observation:

Oh look, raising money for the coordinated nationwide voter suppression laws effort !
Cory Doctorow on 20 years of blogging. He points out publishing as such an important part of elevation from a regular "commonplace book" (Also he gets a lot of value from a "this day in history" feature, something I dig on my site as well.)

20 years is a long time to keep at a personal project, but my blogging habit has paid for itself many times over. Any half-remembered quote is at my fingertips, and I have a place for my history of photos that I control. It's not the social nexus that it was for me in the early-2000s, but that's ok too.

on Italo Calvino's "The Complete Cosmicomics"

May 14, 2020
I finally finished Italo Calvino's "The Complete Cosmicomics". In retrospect, going for the "The Complete" may have been a mistake. It has been my "oh yeah I should read another chapter this morning in bad" book since before quarantine. (I know it's a bit foolish to track and then be vain about how books I get through in a year, especially one as disruptive as this one, but still.)

So, a very poetic and playful read - most of the chapters start with an epigraph from an astronomer or a geologist, and then the story is a kind of fanciful exploration of living through that event - often with a recurring narrator "old Qfwfq" who has lived through planetary formation, evolution, the making of matter itself, etc etc. (I think Alan Lightman's "Mr g" took may have taken a cue from it.)

(If you have time for just one short story, check out The Distance of the Moon)

It was a rich and free and contented condition, my condition at that time, quite the contrary of what you might think. I was a bachelor (our system of reproduction in those days didn't require even temporary couplings), healthy, without too many ambitions. When you're young, all evolution lies before you, every road is open to you, and at the same time you can enjoy the fact of being there on the rock, flat mollusc-pulp, damp and happy. If you compare yourself with the limitations that came afterwards, if you think of how having one form excludes other forms, of the monotonous routine where you finally feel trapped, well, I don't mind saying, life was beautiful in those days.
Italo Calvino, "The Spiral"

'I would like to understand.'
'What?'
'Everything, all this.' I gestured towards my surroundings.
'You'll understand when you've forgotten what you understood before.'
Italo Calvino, "The Origin of the Birds"

Everything summons us to death; nature, as if envious of the good she had done us, announces to us often and reminds us that she cannot leave us for long that bit of matter she lends us, which must not remain in the same hands, and which must eternally be in circulation: she needs it for other forms, she asks it back for other works.
Bossuet, Sermon sur la mort

As for those who so exalt incorruptibility, inalterability, I believe they are brought to say these things through their great desire to live a long time and through the terror they have of death. And not considering that, if men were immortal, these men would not have had an opportunity to come into the world. They would deserve to encounter a Medusa's head, which would transform them into statues of jasper or of diamond, to make them more perfect than they are . . . And there is not the slightest doubt that the Earth is far more perfect, being, as it is, alterable, changeable, than if it were a mass of stone, even if it were a whole diamond, hard and impenetrable.
Galileo Galilei, Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi, giornata I

That morning the city was celebrating Consumer Thanksgiving Day. This feast came round every year, one day in November, and had been set up to allow the shops' customers to display their gratitude towards the god Production who tirelessly satisfied their every desire. The biggest department store in town organized a parade each year: an enormous balloon, in the shape of a garishly coloured doll, was paraded through the main street, held by ribbons which sequin-clad girls pulled as they marched behind a musical band. So that morning the procession was coming down Fifth Avenue: the majorette twirled her baton in the air, the big drums banged, and the giant made of balloons representing 'The Satisfied Customer' flew amidst the skyscrapers, obediently following a leash held by girls in kepis, tassles and fringed epaulettes, riding on spangly motorbikes.
Italo Calvino, "The Daughters of the Moon"

To explode or to implode--said Qfwfq--that is the question: whether 'tis nobler in the mind to expand one's energies in space without restraint, or to crush them into a dense inner concentration and, by ingesting, cherish them. To steal away, to vanish; no more; to hold within oneself every gleam, every ray, deny oneself every vent, suffocating in the depths of the soul the conflicts that so idly trouble it, give them their quietus; to hide oneself, to obliterate oneself: perchance to reawaken elsewhere, changed.
Italo Calvino, "Implosion"

The Sun Has No Chill

How lucky we are
That nearer the beginning
When all the atoms
The bits and parts and pieces of everything that jelled and condensed and clumped and gathered and the biggest piles ignited - FOOMF! - into suns, incandescent ravaging furnaces of light and hot

That some of the matter
Kept its distance, reticent --
Gathering in cooler places --
...Still drawn by that great sun hub, sure --
Warmed by it, Illuminated by it...
But still more free to do its own thing

(Poem inspired by Italo Calvino's "Cosmicomics")
How Two Developers Made A Living With Awful Games - I was at the Global Game Jam @ MIT where Alex Schwartz and Ziba Scott prototyped this gaming of the game system, making an automated tool to churn out countless crappy themed slots game - type in a keyword, get a slot machine full of google image search results for it.

via

May 14, 2019

With "Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset", Fixed Mindset is often presumed to be a bag of only negative things, but it absolutely has useful psychological upsides as this SMBC references:

I'm not saying I wouldn't be a better and more accomplished person if I moved my personal interior needle closer the growth, to embrace practicing things that don't come easily to me and trying to be more observant of places where I have seen change and growth, despite my intuitive skepticism about how likely that is (seriously, if self-change were so easy, me and like half the people I know wouldn't be like 10-20lbs heavier than their own ideal for themselves.)

I guess when I think of real change, I look for some sort of externally recognizable shift that doesn't take a daily or weekly application of willpower to keep going. I guess I have some of that in my growth as a tuba player - my skills were sort of still there despite decades of non-use, and I'm better at some things (especially playing by ear) than I was when I picked my horn back up. And all of that because, or despite, not practicing much, just my old tradition of being reliable in a lot of bands...
In joke at work...


The truly rich are those who enjoy what they have.
Yiddish Proverb

Thank you, God, for this good life
and forgive us if we do not love it enough.
Garrison Keillor

May 14, 2018

Brilliant - Outlook for MacOS auto-replaces punctuation smilies with emoji, which then displays as a question mark in a box.

May 14, 2017

Happy Mothers Day!

I had weird, fever-y nightmares last night, dark and cyberpunk-ish.

There were these side-by-side black-on-black two dimensional maze squares, menacing integrated circuits magnified for human inspection, full of activity like an isometric ant farm.

But they weren't circuits, they were logical and contractual pathways being tweaked and restructured as the two entities jostled for an advantage, looking for loopholes, trying to trap the other in non-stop competition.

Somehow it was desperately important for me to understand the proceedings, but I couldn't; by design they were beyond simple human summary. They were relics of a dark world where everyone was given the advice of "make sure you have one of those virtual advocate programs fighting in your side!" So I was feverishly (literally) running this fool's errand, trying to work it out.

Later, dreams shifted gears, and I saw the connection between those contractual labyrinths and softer human/computer interactions, like when people would check in with four square or whatever, or little "earn virtual currency for logging in every day!" type stuff, and Amazon-Echo style virtual assistants.


RIP MP3 the article links to a weirdly ghostly of "what audio (and video) is lost to compression" of Tom's Diner (the acoustic original not the club version) - I managed to find the minimalist video the ghostly video is shadowing- hadn't seen that before.

I guess audio compression doesn't bother me unless blatantly horrific, in the same way my eyes don't feel better or worse using a Retina vs a Non-Retina screen; it's the kind of nuance I just don't have a knack for picking up.


Blender of Love

I don't dig this lingering intermittent moderate fever but damn if I don't enjoy getting everything quantified via digital thermometers. It's gamification for feeling like crap!

May 14, 2016

Supercut of ElectroBOOM, one of the bravest electrical hackers on youtube....

May 14, 2015

They should make a fridge that rotates at relativistic speeds, so your food stay fresh thanks to time dilation.
I get why a lot of people hate the whole princess culture aimed at little girls. There's a hell of a lot of toxic bullshit in there.

But when I was a tiny princess, my dad used to be my royal advisor. He would come to me, and over tea we would discuss the problems of the kingdom. He would tell me that new people wanted to move to the kingdom, and ask me what we should do. Or he would tell me that the teddybears and the dolls were fighting over the enchanted forest, and ask me what to do. Basically, he took the trappings of the princess culture, and used it as a tool to teach me about leadership, civic responsibility, and compassion.

So if you have a little princess around, consider helping her figure out how to run her kingdom. There's no sense in telling a kid they can't be a leader, or that they can't wear sparkles while they do it.

"Consider this moment gauntled! ...is that a word?"
"Hold your head up like it is. Vocabulary is mostly a matter of confidence."
Modern Family

May 14, 2014

Last night I got to meet Ben Fry (co-inventor of Processing, the language/API/toolkit i do so many of my toys and games in) after a lecture he did about infographics. He was moderately impressed that my business card now has a little Processing program on the back.
http://rampantinnovation.com/2014/05/13/design-is-about-intent/ Pretty good piece about Apple and its sense of design

May 14, 2013

liFe is Not aLL jazz and Joy)
    sMiles and suNNy weaTher!
EVERy golD has it'S aLloy!
    toHOld tHe Stuff together!

!if LUCk is good! why maN aliVE!
    weLcoMe iT! And ch eer iT!
buT if THE drinK'S two seven five
    Try to griN! AND beer iT!
        heNry!
N.B. - heNry is a beetle scab who produced poems for Don Marquis when archy the cockroach went on strike.

some photos

May 14, 2012

I need to remind myself unnoticed meanings exist as well. It isn't the noticing of some thing that makes it true or false.

eurotrip day 0

May 14, 2011
Clearing out the backlog for possible filler as we head to Europe...
I drove down to Gettysburg the weekend of the Fourth, the anniversary of the battle, along with my wife, who grew up on different books than I did and doesn't care two cents about the Civil War. She is crazy about fiction, especially Gabriel Garcia Marquez whose latest she happened to have in her bag, and after we walked around the battlefield monuments for a half-hour that Saturday afternoon and ate a hot dog and watched a Union battery demonstrate artillery firing, she found a place in the shade back behind the crowds near the Gettysburg Volunteer Fire Department's refrehment tent and sat and read.

[...]

Fifty yards away, under the trees where the Pennsylvania reserves must've sat on July 3 waiting Pickett's charge, my wife in white jumpsuit reclined on the grass, so absorbed in the passions of a man on the Colombian coast that she didnt answer when I came over and said hello to her. Eyes on the page, she just reached and took me by the ankle.

Garrison Keillor, about his Danish wife.
I've always found this description of distracted affection extremely attractive. (I'm not sure if that speaks well of me, but it is what it is.)
Why TV is bad for kids: depth of field fakery, lack of emotional back-and-forth, too much and rapid changing, and just a bad habit...
2007 idea for a fridge: have it spinning at a large percentage of the speed of light, so relativistic effects will keep your food fresh!
In going through my backlog I was surprised I never wrote about how in 2007 my friend Jacques D. described my central philosophy as "cruxian"; that I want to get to the crux of things, and I'm generally disdainful of nuance and a "gourmet" approach to life. Give me a novel, central core idea, and economize on all the trappings around that.

yes

May 14, 2010

--via lileks tumblr, where he writes
I have two favorite Coke ads. This is one of them. 1946.
It reminds me of Yoko Ono's Ceiling Painting, the one that's said she used to woo John Lennon...
Moderation is like a foreign language. You have to learn that shit when you're young.

My heart was with the Cavs vs. the Celtics. Cleveland needs it more.

flowers by me and amber

rebounding

(3 comments)
May 14, 2009

(via harveyjames)
http://www.slate.com/id/2218297/ - why Republicans are sore-r losers than Democrats
M&M "Premiums" for $4? Seriously?
White birthrates rebound; Moslem collapse; Black stable - everything you know about demographics is wrong, or at least worth revisiting.

faithmore-or-less

(3 comments)
May 14, 2008
The other day I thought of all the things I'd like to take from various faiths: Along with my homebrew sense of "interestingness as a moral good". Ideally maybe I'd even find some kind of therapist who was into all of those, especially the first few, though I always feel I'm on shaky ground (no pun intended) taking on the faiths from Asia.
So those are the ideals... then it hit me that I'm more dealing with Do any traditions have a good sense of whimsy? I'm thinking maybe Wicca but I'm not sure, sometimes they seem to take that hippy stuff pretty seriously. Maybe Zen, with the koans and all.


Video of the Moment

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

--via Mr.Ibis who points out "it all starts as Alien Bill" -- pretty much does! The whole video is pretty amazing. I love how it "lets the strings show" in terms of the erased part from previous frames...


Quote of the Moment
Your problem is that your inner child is a bit too outer.
Ksenia, a long while back.
Now THAT'S what I call SUCCINCT!
does myspace have all that playing around crap facebook does?

t^10-shirt

(5 comments)
May 14, 2007
New theory about my sense of introversion:

On the one hand I seem to have a diminished sense of privacy, I'll glad talk about fairly private subject matters to anyone who seems interested. On the other hand, I have trouble opening up to close friends sometimes, or rather there are certain subjects I won't get it, especially ones where I might get disapproval about a current course of action.

At first I was thinking that it's not so much that I don't mind being seen as The Fool... paradoxically, I might be so sensitive about it that I've lowered the bar for what would I think would make me seem Foolish.

I think there are a few other idiosyncrasies in my life that reflect similar defense mechanisms... like how I have such an inflated idea of my native abilities that I avoid situations where my limits would then be pointed out. (Though like Michelangelo once said, "The great danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high, and we miss it, but that it is too low, and we reach it.")


Quote of the Moment
The ultimate goal of physics, as it is often described, is to have a "theory of everything," in which all the fundamental laws that describe nature can be neatly written on the front o f a T-shirt (even if the T-shirt can exist only in ten dimensions.)
Lawrence M. Krauss

Photo of the Moment

--EB's pride-n-joy, last weekend.


Article of the Moment
Bill the Splut linked to an interesting piece on on how we slept before electric lights.
Until the modern age, most households had two distinct intervals of slumber, known as "first" and "second" sleep, bridged by an hour or more of quiet wakefulness. Usually, people would retire between 9 and 10 o'clock only to stir past midnight to smoke a pipe, brew a tub of ale or even converse with a neighbor.
That sounds really nice... the article goes on...
Others remained in bed to pray or make love. This time after the first sleep was praised as uniquely suited for sexual intimacy; rested couples have "more enjoyment" and "do it better," as one 16th-century French doctor wrote. Often, people might simply have lain in bed ruminating on the meaning of a fresh dream, thereby permitting the conscious mind a window onto the human psyche that remains shuttered for those in the modern day too quick to awake and arise.
It's a really intriguing idea. Also, it makes me want to get better at remembering my dreams, and maybe provoke lucid dreaming. (Supposedly an upcoming issue of Make magazine is going to have a device to help with the latter...)

what is cool

May 14, 2006
Quote of the Moment
Original coolness was a way of feeling like you were resisting oppression without actually doing what was necessary to throw it off.
from this article about a survey of 20-somethings that claims friendliness is the new cool.
Heh, and like everything else, original coolness was another thing the white performers nicked from the black guys. (via Nick, who specifically pointed out that quote)


Video of the Moment
Speaking of a new sense of sincerity....some public radio program had Willy Mason in studio... he's from Martha's Vineyard I think but he's a big hit in the UK, especially for his song Oxygen which has become a bit of a youth anthem there. You can see the video for it here. Good stuff; I stopped by Newbury Comics to pick up the CD before the show was even over. (I was in the area.)

blurple

(5 comments)
May 14, 2005
Article of the Moment
Slate on Conservatism as a Pathology...why policies that benefit the rich, seemingly at the expense of most everyone else, get so much support from people who are definately not rich. Personally, I think it's marketing as much as anything else...thanks to the strange-bedfellows alliance between fiscal and moral conservatives, a lot of folks from the red states think "liberal" is a dirty word.

chord ding chimes ding

(4 comments)
May 14, 2004
Toys of the Moment
How much fun can be had with the default Window's system sounds? Click and see! And by the same guy: Ball On String...kinetic!


Web Promotion of the Moment
Mr. Lex used the message board to plug a new site he's trying to get rolling, The Ontok Cafe, aiming to get a discussion on a new topic going daily. Tough to get the critical mass to make something like that work, but worthwhile when it does.


Political Comment of the Moment
LIEBERMAN: Mr. Secretary, the behavior by Americans at the prison in Iraq is, as we all acknowledge, immoral, intolerable and un-American. It deserves the apology that you have given today and that have been given by others in high positions in our government and our military.

I cannot help but say, however, that those who were responsible for killing 3,000 Americans on September 11th, 2001, never apologized. Those who have killed hundreds of Americans in uniform in Iraq working to liberate Iraq and protect our security have never apologized.

And those who murdered and burned and humiliated four Americans in Fallujah a while ago never received an apology from anybody.
Lieberman is making one of two points. Either he's just saying "USA! Not quite as bad as the worst people on the planet!" Or, he's saying "I just want to point out that some brown people unconnected to this event did some bad things!"
(1 comment)
May 14, 2003
Flash of the Moment
An exercise in way too much interface but with a dose of wackiness, db-db DESIGN IS FUN. (Warning: tiny pixel nudity) The NUDEMENSHOW (from the top menu) was kind of amusing though.


Research of the Moment
Personality Keeps Changing with Age, Study Finds - though it doesn't sound like the most controlled study in the world, it's kind of interesting.


Political Potshot of the Moment
They could sense I would be one of the great pilots of all time.
Bush on why the Air National Guard took him (via Bill a while back.)
Given his record with the Guard--extremely spotty even with generous recognition of National Guard service when the nation was at war in Vietnam--this is such a laughable statement. And his recent jet landing on that aircraft carrier, some think may have cost us like a million dollars to give him a great big political advertisement?

On the other hand, what the heck. If I were president, I'd do the same thing. Except I'd say I was doing it for fun, rather than make some lame excuse about wanting to avoid inconveniencing the sailors or then, when that no longer applied due to a weather-induced course change, "to see an aircraft landing the same way that the pilots saw an aircraft landing."


Consumer Product of the Moment
It's still just a rumor, but if Shick comes out with a razor with four blades...man, that'd be totally hilarious. When will the madness end? Seriously, I tried Gilette's 3 blader, the "Mach 3" -- you know, the one with that commercial commercial, as subatomic humor put it
"What a guy! I mean, he's lost it all: his uniform, his plane. What's he got left? A razor. Not even a can of shaving cream. But you can't keep him down. There he sits, rubbing his face. At least he got a smooth shave! He's looking on the bright side. Booyah naked jet pilot!
and it's a serious case of diminishing returns. The Gilette "Sensor" with two blades seems to work pretty well...with three, I dunno, it just presents a giant sharp shaving surface. Anyway, I shave once a week, a new blade each time. Probably slightly cheaper than a normal shaving schedule, and it seems to work for me.
May 14, 2002
Objects
My life is my hand
The whorls of my fingers...
a prayerbook,
or a map-

My hand, my life, holds a novel,
pages smelling of the book's history;
words smelling of the book's birth-

textured like green polished stones

Found Art
He is brilliant, yes, but evil. So evil I
despair of comprehending him. This man
doesn't want to murder his father and
possess his mother: he wants to murder God
and posess the cosmos.

Echo
All voices told me "no"
a chorus with the tides
like a mute echo-
echo, first hope
of sun and dirt
a single hope
set in the cliff-face
written in ancient script
chisled with tools
of steel sinew muscle
bone clay stone flesh
fire

There is nothing more to be said
There is nothing,
more to be said.

There is...
nothing more to be said

--things I wrote in my poetry class with Peter Richards at Tufts University (found on a dot matrix printout) Not sure what I think of them now...a bit gimmicky maybe. "Found Art" was taken verbatim from a Usenet post, later I used it as the basis for Unspoken, you can see some other things I've written as well.
May 14, 2001
Link of the Moment
1950's Miracles of the Next Fifty Years. It's always neat seeing these tomorrows of yesterday, what happened and what didn't. (One thing is 2 or 3 years ago I would have laughed at that guy using the depilatory instead of shaving, but I just saw that product advertised on TV...)
(via slashdot where they had some interesting conversation on it.)


News of the Moment
Heard this on NPR. Tom Green (not the dada-esque comedian) is being prosecuted for polygamy. In Utah. What I don't like about this debate is how much it's being argued in terms of religion. The government just shouldn't dictate terms like this. It's not bigamy with false pretenses. On the other hand, Tom Green isn't the most sterling poster child for the cause (no pun intended) with his habit of wedding and having children with 13 and 14 year olds. Oy.

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.
00-5-13
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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.)
00-5-13
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They have treelawns, however.
99-5-13
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Sportsman's Guide feels like it might be doomed doomed doomed.
99-5-13
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