happy birthday nana!

Happy Woulda Been 100 to Nana!

I must assume that eventually an army of shame engineers will rise up, writing guilt-inducing code in order to make their robots more convincingly human. But it doesn't mean I love the idea. Because right now you can see the house of cards clearly: By aggregating the world's knowledge, chomping it into bits with GPUs, and emitting it as multi-gigabyte software that somehow knows what to say next, we've made the funniest parody of humanity ever. These models have all of our qualities, bad and good. Helpful, smart, know-it-alls with tendencies to prejudice, spewing statistics and bragging like salesmen at the bar. They mirror the arrogant, repetitive ramblings of our betters, the horrific confidence that keeps driving us over the same cliffs. That arrogance will be sculpted down and smoothed over, but it will have been the most accurate representation of who we truly are to exist so far, a real mirror of our folly, and I will miss it when it goes.

Open Photo Gallery

house upon the sand

I just recognized a central source of suck about being job insecure. Nearly every life victory and contentment can be undercut by the "yeah but" of "you haven't lined up a job". (in a nation of sane health coverage like, say, the rest of the industrialized world, I would find this a more readily budgeted against dilemma).
*goes to Coachella in a white linen suit like an antebellum lawyer, sweating profusely and dabbing at my forehead with a handkerchief* now, I'm no fancy scientist, but would you folk know where a simple gentleman such as myself could obtain some acid? Now, I'm no big city lawyer, but could any of you fine youths point a country boy such as myself in the direction of some fucking acid?

more milk in the multiverse

There's a tweet that goes "every time i drink milk i remember my roommate who used to put powdered milk in his milk so he could drink 'more milk per milk'."

I just watched "Everything Everywhere All at Once". This movie is about the most milk per milk I've ever seen.

I am pretty sure that "The Multiverse" is the defining Zeitgeist of our moment, and it troubles me. It's a mood of worn old comic writers having rung out the realm of the normal narrative arc so thoroughly that regular storytelling isn't enough, and we have to all the stories at once.... and of a population having ingested so much "this is the darkest timeline" that we're down to a hope that somehow someone emerging from a whirlwind of parallel possibilities will save us.

I mean, this is Trumpism vibe. The vibe of Fuck a system of studious people looking to build a system for society, it ain't dealing me a post-WW2-prosperity Boomer-wealth hand, I'm gonna vote for this reality show, ex-WWF-huckster, rich from his daddy's wealth (the guy who could actually lose money owning a casino), pussy-grabber who promises to shake shit up and deliver liberal tears wholesale. And then when he loses, and not just in the popular vote (as Republican Presidents always do) but in the electoral college, I'll buy into his vision of a multiverse where really he won, and it's just like these sneaky "agents of Hydra" beancounters or whatever the fuck who somehow switched things up.

I'm definitely worried about election 2024. These two old old men duking it out, and with some facile narratives that show Biden holding the bag for inflation and whatever comes next in this not-post-COVID age - it's going to be tough, and Trump could win, and our nation would have to stand up to another go round of shitty judges shitting on women's rights and telling us bald-faced bribery is "free speech".

My solace with that possible upcoming dark twist will be as it always is, this line from Tom Robbins:
Tennessee Williams once wrote, "We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it." In a certain sense, the playwright was correct. Yes, but oh! What a view from that upstairs window! What Tennessee failed to mention was that if we look out of that window with an itchy curiosity and a passionate eye; with a generous spirit and a capacity for delight; and, yes, the language with which to support and enrich the things we see, then it DOESN'T MATTER that the house is burning down around us. It doesn't matter. Let the motherfucker blaze!

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, says wealthy candidates loaning their campaigns large amounts of cash is an essential part of the democratic process. He describes loans in excess of $250,000 as a key tool "to jumpstart a fledgling campaign or finish strong in a tight race." Massive personal loans can be "a useful tool to signal that the political outsider is confident enough in his campaign to have skin in the game, attracting the attention of donors and voters alike." Not allowing these loans to be paid back in full with money raised after the election, Roberts argues, risks "inhibiting candidates from making such loans in the first place."
Roberts writes that "influence and access" are "a central feature of democracy--that constituents support candidates who share their beliefs and interests, and candidates who are elected can be expected to be responsive to those concerns."
What? A Republican appointed judge supporting the rich getting richer? Whodathunk.

Like spending money is free speech... and we must also protect LENDING money? Like if a candidate spent their own cash, fine, but expecting to be frickin' paid back? Like loaning money to oneself is some sort of fiduciary peptalk, and therefore we must allow it all levels. Huh. .. and "skin in the game" must be allowed to be super thin, apparently.

that great pepsi taste

Happy two jabs plus two weeks day to me!
Instead of remembering useful things, my brain decided that a Diet Pepsi jingle ("Now you see it, Now you don't / That Great Pepsi Taste / Diet Pepsi won't go to your waist") from my youth (look at the design of those cans!) would be a good thing to spotlight.

I went to find the ad on YouTube - HOLEE COW are these ads little sugar-coated (or rather artificial sweetener covered) dollops of sexuality and skinny-body-idealization. What a weird thing to have grown up with.

Sometimes I am bummed that I haven't done anything interesting enough to merit my own Wikipedia page. But today I saw a guy walking around Boston with a sandwich board (front only) talking about the Prophet Kacou Philippe. But he doesn't even have a Wikipedia page! So I feel a little bit that even a prophet from Africa - accomplished enough to get folks wearing his posters in Boston, regardless of his supernatural qualifications - doesn't even merit a page.

To paraphrase The Doors... "Did you have a good life when you died, enough to base a Wikipedia page on?"
Instead of "Marco!" "Polo!" neighbor kids are doing "Burrito!" "Microwave!"? Is that a thing

Life is not indifferent. The universe is indifferent. But just trying, itself, is something I should do.

If you can't fit your house *in* an airplane, you could try putting it *on* one. That's how NASA transported the Space Shuttles across the country using a specialized Boeing 747 which carried the Shuttle on its back. To carry the Space Shuttle orbiter, the carrier aircraft has a special mount that protrudes from the top of the fuselage. This mount fits into a socket in the belly of the Shuttle orbiter. Next to the mount is an instructional plaque, which features the single best joke in the history of the aerospace industry:
Randall Munroe, "How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems"

It's technically possible that the copy of this book that you're reading is indestructible. Sure, it seems unlikely, but you can't definitively rule it out without trying. There's no nondestructive test for indestructibility.
Randall Munroe, "How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems"

Why are you inclined to interpret nature that way rather than, say, in the more cosmically harmonious manner of the Dalai Lama? You interviewed him for one of your documentaries.
I advise you to go outside on a clear night and look out into the universe. It seems utterly indifferent to what we are doing. Now we are taking a very close look at the sun with a space probe. Look at the utmost hostility of the hundreds of millions of atomic bombs going off at the same time in its interior. So my personal interpretation of nature comes from taking a quick look at the stars.

How do you derive meaning from life if life is indifferent?
Life is not indifferent. The universe is indifferent. But just trying, itself, is something I should do.
I feel like I should learn more about him and his work.

the bots we actually got

As I approached the elevator I heard voices. I stepped back, but as the door opened it was empty. When i got in I discovered that this was because a spambot had called the emergency elevator phone and was earnestly trying to sell it something.

"WhaaaAAAT the fuck," I said.




"Oh my god cancel cancel cancel cancel jesus christ cancel you robotic shitbezel"


I have seen the future. It's AIs trying to sell each other various horseshit across the blasted, fungus-ridden shitscape left behind by humanity.


Fever dreams provided me this "Shower thought":
You're indirectly touching every item you've known that's not currently airborne--
a chain that passes from you through your clothes to the furniture to the floor to the yard to... everything. The shoulder of your first love. Your elementary school. The grave of your great great grandparents. Whatever existed in whatever form it still exists.

yanny? laurel? yanny? laurel?

NY Times made an excellent widget to play with Do you hear Yanny or Laurel, this years "Is the dress blue and black or white and gold?" (Another, I built a widget to see a similar ambiguity, but in the mood and feel of faces at different distances, the Mr. Angry and Mrs. Calm illusion)

I'm very Team Laurel, and have to put the widget way to the side to hear Yanny. On the one hand, yay me, that's objectively more accurate, on the other hand, dang, I'm old and don't hear high sounds as well as I used to. But there are other anecdotes that support the idea my subconscious attention is much more bass-centric too, not surprisingly.

Think the Laurel or Yanny thing is weird?

You can hear the words 'Brainstorm' or 'Green Needle' based on which word you think about. Try it.pic.twitter.com/7TrS9XNhNR

— George Aylett (@GeorgeAylett) May 17, 2018

(2019 UPDATE: there is a "correct" answer to Brainstorm/Green Needle, at least an original intention: this is a toy of "Brainstorm" from the cartoon "Ben 10")

bless this mass

I used to (still do I guess) dig guidebooks to tabletop wargames, even if I never got around to doing the miniatures or actually playing the dang things. Probably the best was the old Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader - the amount of world building and menacing flavor text was immense. Humanity is a dispersed galactic empire, and while the tech can make ours looks stone-age, most of it is surrounded with gothic religious trappings, leading to sidenotes like this:
Strike the first rune upon the engine's casing employing the chosen wrench. Its tip should be anointed with the oil of engineering using the proper incantation when the auspices are correct. Strike the second rune upon the engine's casing employing the arc-tip of the power-driver. If the second rune is not good, a third rune may be struck in like manner to the first. This is done according to the true ritual laid down by Scotti the Enginseer. A libation should be offered. If this sequence is properly observed the engines may be brought to full activation by depressing the large panel marked "ON".
That lept to mind when I saw this photo and caption:

Russian Orthodox leader sprays holy water on government computers to stop WannaCry virus
The occupational hazard of making a spectacle of yourself, over the long haul, is that at some point you buy a ticket too.
Thomas McGuane

Dean be like, it so hot im ded

easy being green

My portrait in the style of James Harvey's Alien Bill, via deepart.io
Want to pay an actor to burst into my funeral in an astronaut costume and say, 'Oh my God, I came back too late!'


FAMILY LORE: When I was very young my parents worked at a Salvation Army space for at-risk youth called "Ivy House". One time for a treat they took some of the kids, including a young cute black kid, to a nice italian restaurant. My folks had to hope he was a little weak on the vocabulary of "lasagna" when he told them "one time, my family, we had a GREAT BIG PLATE of Vagina!"

Ah, malopropisms.

i'm *very* fast

I enjoyed this.

There's a whole series of them.

FĂȘte a Fett


From merchandising is Forever, a blog of Star Wars toys... 26 Boba Fetts:

Found index card at the CCAE building:

I admit I'm a little nervous about the apparent strength of the economy, both the relative joblessness of it, and just because I'm always ready for the other shoe to drop. And it looks like America under Obama and a divided Congress has done a lot better than Europe.


Making the rounds is this awesome series of photographs of people facing very, very strong winds...

Man, I wonder if that hurts? You can see more on Tadao Cern's Facebook Page.
"Celebrate Diversity" used to seem a bit trite, and unappealing to my pragmatic, engineer-y self... "Why celebrate diversity? Why not enjoy stuff that seems objectively better somehow?" But celebrating diversity-- for its own sake-- is one of the few countermeasures I can think of to the natural human tendency to assume "most common" is also what's "normal" and better, and well on the path to thinking everything else is undesirable.

eurotrip day 3 - paris

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My wife suggested spicing up our sex life with role playing.Now a d20's wedged in my crack, the DM is staring at us & this isn't sexy at all

Boingboing pointed out this awesome Princess Bride ambigram... I made a little tool to enjoy it more. It's such a clever bit of typography!



--One of the parts of our MFA visit I liked the most was the exhibit of photographer Harry Callahan's work, especially his Eleanor series, one shown here. Just simple and beautiful over all.
Just read "1001 MAD Pages You Must Read Before You Die" - many grins, few laughs in all. But, weirdly influential to my young self. Like "Little Known Celebrity Cult Groups"- I guess it taught my 7 year old self a bit of a something about Ed McMahon, Jerry Lewis, Renee Richards, Woody Allen, Rodney Dangerfield Dangerfield, and McLean Stevenson...

http://gawker.com/5539717/steve-jobs-offers-world-freedom-from-porn?skyline=true&s=i - Jobs email catfight! "Freedom From Porn"? There's the web ya? Anyway it seems like a charging App Store could be better age gatekeeper than the web is-- it's just to stop the morality police from kvetching, like in schools...
Jobs' publicly available email must lead lots of nerds to "set him straight" after an exchange like that-wonder how he/they sort through it?



My entry for Klik of the Month Klub 23, made in 2 hours. Another one of my "simplistic game around a novel physics-y interaction" games -- originally it was going to be the basis of JoustPong 3D but between painting myself into a corner, graphics-wise, and general concerns that it would be too difficult, I'm happier with it simplified.

(It almost feels a bit more aquatic than aerial. In fact, coming up with the scheme I realized it's a bit like the old Atari arcade game Toobin'.)

It never hurts to ask. Unless you ask for hurt.
Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka and Toshihiro Kawabata, Animal Crossing: Wild World, 2005


Busy in Rockport. Luckily I have noise canceling headphones if I need to do any of the dreaded scraping of paint, so I should feel less like I'm having steel wool dragged across my spinal column.

Photos of the Moment
Today's theme, random things around Boston.

catcher, rye. rye, catcher.

Quote of the Moment
I was about half in love with her by the time we sat down. That's the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty... you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are.
J. D. Salinger, I think from "Catcher in the Rye".
(Probably says more about guys than gals.)

I really disliked that book in high school, I find that whole hating the "phonies" thing, tales of not being able to adapt to society or give people the benefit of the doubt, to be grating. (On the other hand, I didn't even get through "The Great Gatsby" back then, just Cliff Notes it, and now it's one of my favorites, maybe I needed a personal experience with unrequited romance. So maybe I should give that book a second chance.)

Screenshot of the Moment

--From my Mom's PC, about her printer. I don't know why I found the idea of a misleading "Close" button so striking, just that moment where I thought "gee, can the computer DO that on its own?"

Reminds me of that old New Yorker caption I've been thinking of lately:
The cat is trying to open the door on the hinge side. I laugh, then realize that I make the same mistake with people, ideas, and doors, too.


In a dream last night I was in the Navy, I think just for a year long stint or so. But I was encouraged to get twin arm anchor tattoos, ala Popeye. (Who was also there, albeit in human (though not quite Robin Williams) form.)

Instrument of the Moment
--Tuba On Fire! This amazing video of flaming sousaphone playing along to Max Raabe's cover of "Oops I Did It Again", with gals in catholic schoolgirl outfits, highly choreographed, also with flames, touches archetypes in me I didn't even know I had. My shark jaw tuba is so wussy by comparison...

Quote of the Moment
the best way to disprove solipsists is to kill them and then continue to exist.
not that i advocate this.

quite all white

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Quote of the Moment
I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world,
and a desire to enjoy the world.
This makes it hard to plan the day.
What about trying to enjoy the world via improving it? Like right now I'm improving it my trying to make the finest editor for Atari 2600 sprite graphics in the history of mankind. Admittedly, this doesn't improve the world that much, but we do what we can.

Sketch of the Moment
--BoingBoing featured the only reprint I've seen of the piano sketch by Kent's piano-playing mystery man. Whether a true mystery or an odd hoax it's a great story.

hey hey, gay gay

News of the Moment
Cool, same sex marriages in my fair commonwealth. Now I get to hear all the rightwing talkradio folks have their knickers in a twist, neener neener.

The resident crank on the loveblender ("Cap'n MPD" I call him, and am tempted to start labeling posts under all of his monikers with that secondary label) posted a National Review Online article subtitled We're here, we're mildly and tolerantly homophobic, get used to it! Mostly it's sophomorically clever preaching to the choir crap (see yesterday's loveblender message board for my more thorough response) but it raised one thought provoking point, setting up homophobia as a rampant condition where people are just "born that way", a turnabout of some of the arguments about homosexuality.

Gripe of the Moment
Grrrr....I had a phone bill with around $70 in extra charges for last month, I think with all the house stuff I was using it a lot more, and of course I have the same stupid plan I've had for like 2 or 3 years now, $35/mo for 200 anytime / 1000 offpeak minutes.

What irritated me was when I called to ask about changing plans, one thing the Sprint rep suggested was that for $5 more a month, I could move the startoff offpeak from 9pm to 7pm. Brilliant. Yes, clearly, the secret to overcoming my discontent at Sprint (in this day and age of number portability, and if I had had some kind of rollover plan all this time I could probably talk continuously for a month) is for me to give them MORE MONEY, given how I think I made about 2 calls between the 7pm-9pm window the switch would open up.

When she started talking about how to avoid fees by waiting 'til my contract was up at the start of June, I thanked her and hung up. It's time to get a new phone company. Any suggestions? For a while I was a little nervous about getting away from Sprint, since the reception at my place in Waltham had improved dramatically with them sometime last year, and I didn't know if that was Sprint specific or not. But now that I'm moving to Arlington anyway...

I have to think about what features I want. Do I want instant messenger since I lack it at work? Web access? I dunno. My family's toying with the idea of a crosscountry roadtrip next year, I'd love a phone that I could USB up to my new laptop and use as a cellular modem...do they make that?

'Course I have no idea what other companies offer in terms of minute plans anyway, I need to do some research. But I suspect $35 for 200/1000 is not that great of a deal, especially because most months I'm well under that.

Conspiracy Theory of the Moment
Was the Nick Berg decapitation faked? 50 anomalies around Berg and his death. Hrmm.

Quote of the Moment
"Luck is my middle name," said Rincewind, indistinctly. "Mind you, my first name is Bad."
Terry Pratchett

for i have no blog and i must post

I disagree with Dylan, I think "Matrix Reloaded" is a good name. The movie it's self was pretty good. A little bit too much lecturing, and I'm still not convinced that the Matrix itself is a big enough world to feel 'real', and I'm not sure why Neo and Trinity had to wait 'til they were back in the city to jump each other's bones, but hey. Sawers had an interesting idea about [SPOILERS FOLLOW, select text with mouse to see] neo being the sixth singularity, or rounding error, or whatever he was; given his newfound power to shut down the robots in the "real world", maybe each Matrix is built "inside" the old one. [END SPOILERS]

One observation though: isn't it odd that everyone looks the same in the matrix as out of it, except for clothing and maybe a bit of hairstyling? We see people instantly recognizing others outside the Matrix who they only know from inside, so it's not "just" a trick for the audience. The only explanation is that there's some kind of wacky reverse-phrenology going on, instead of the shape of the skull telling you about the mind, the shape of the mind explains the body. Or the machines for some wacky reason are sampling your DNA or otherwise going to great lengths to make your Matrix-self look just like your "battery" self would if you weren't a big bald naked guy in a tube of slime.

Story of the Moment
A very interesting meld of a Matrix-type situation (except everyone knows what's going on) with Asmiov's "3 Laws of Robotics" (i.e. 1. Don't let people get hurt, 2. Obey people's orders, 3. Don't let yourself get hurt, in that order) by way of "For I have No Mouth and I must Scream", it's The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect, a novel available online. The basic premise is, what would you do to fight boredom if you were one of trillions of immortal people in a world you could sculpt to your own desires on a merest whim? Make yourself the star victim of other people's "real-life" snuff films, of course! Some adult content in that, but a very good read. I used the PayPal tip jar there.

Interview Q+A of the Moment
"Pick a superhero--who would you be?"
"I know I don't want to be the Hulk. It's very painful to be the Hulk; he's a tragic hero who happens to be a monster. Probably Superman. I like his outfit."
from a Wired interview with Ang Lee, director of the upcoming Hulk movie

bok bok pukok!

Hrrm, this page is looking awfully black and white these days...anyway, yesterday I went back and harvested all the good quotes from the past year (from last June 28) and put 186 of them into my random quote picker. That's a less important event than when I was keeping them on my Palm, but still, it's nice to have them in that format.

News of the Moment
Hey, I think today is Mike the Headless Chicken Day! Yay! That's him there on the left side of the photo. A pretty amazing story, that website has all the details and a pretty catchy song to boot. I like the guitar chicken noise especially.

Quote of the Moment
I have touched the sky and it is falling
Cory Hamasaki, in comp.software.year-2000, in those pre-Y2K days.
Actually, it looks like he's still trying to promote the idea that Y2K did a lot of damage. Talk about beating a dead horse 'til it's just a greasy spot on the pavement...

Link of the Moment
Dylan pointed out www.time.gov, which is a very useful site for getting the accurate time, and has a certain amount of geek chic to go along with it...and remember, It's Official!


Art of the Moment
My online pal Ranjit has made an interesting series of photos. He took a series of winter shots on March 6th, and then recreated those same shots on May 10th. The difference is really quite striking. While your at it you should browse around his moonmilk site as well.

More Art of the Moment
Interesting piece on the Art Manifestos from earlier this century, "when art mattered enough to hate". Mostly I liked all the manifesto snippets on the first page. I've always been a big fan of Dada myself.

Heh. I just remembered one of the entries from the Second Chapter of my Palmpilot Journal that I made after seeing a biography of Man Ray:
I must become the founder of CYBERDADA, and its foremost creator. An uncorruptable art form because of the bullshit line information wants to be free- infinite copies can be made, and who but an overmoneyed idiot or iconoclast would buy a piece of it anyway?
Of course, someone beat me to it.

"I am but a way station in the life of plastic swizzle sticks"
--How to draw a radish and other fun things to do at work
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines/051400-02.htm : an article on the US Air Force's plan to detonate a nuke on the moon as a show of force when they were running behind in the space race.  Jesus.  
"Don't think of it as programming. think of it as warfare."
Dmitry Orlov,99-5-13
“What is it with this chick, she have beer flavored nipples?"
--10 Things I Hate About You
"A dead man could get up a better legend than this one.  I don't mean a fresh dead man either; I mean a man that's been dead weeks and weeks."
--Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi
"i'm just a walking mountain of testosterone. Step off."
99-5-15, Dylan's Goodbye Brunch
"Skeptics say that a company fitness program will not succeed. Let's do some aerobics and see who's right!"
          OUCH! OW! WHAP! UNH!
          "The skeptics are right."
"We usually are."
Blah, blah, blah. Whatever, blah, blah, etcetera, etcetera.
          --Ratbert's short story for impatient people
And when your only hammer is C++, everything begins to look like a thumb.
"When you really think about Christianity, it is a religion without a penis."
          --Tori Amos
"The ant's a centaur in his dragon world"  
          --  Ezra Pound, Canto LXXXI
"There is nothing which cannot be answered by means of my doctrine," said a monk, coming into a teahouse where Nasrudin sat.  "And yet just
a short time ago, I was challenged by a scholar with an unanswerable question," said Nasrudin.  "I could have answered it if I had been there." "Very well.  He asked, 'Why are you breaking into my house in the middle of the night?'"
"Time is a play thing. But when it breaks, you're fucked."
          --Phillip Zibilich
Hope to never hear "a show about nothing" or "yadda, yadda, yadda" again- see ya, Seinfeld