the lesson of the moth

May 27, 2023
i was talking to a moth
the other evening
he was trying to break into
an electric light bulb
and fry himself on the wires

why do you fellows
pull this stunt i asked him
because it is the conventional
thing for moths or why
if that had been an uncovered
candle instead of an electric
light bulb you would
now be a small unsightly cinder
have you no sense

plenty of it he answered
but at times we get tired
of using it
we get bored with the routine
and crave beauty
and excitement
fire is beautiful
and we know that if we get
too close it will kill us
but what does that matter
it is better to be happy
for a moment
and be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time
and be bored all the while
so we wad all our life up
into one little roll
and then we shoot the roll
that is what life is for
it is better to be a part of beauty
for one instant and then cease to
exist than to exist forever
and never be a part of beauty
our attitude toward life
is come easy go easy
we are like human beings
used to be before they became
too civilized to enjoy themselves

and before i could argue him
out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself
on a patent cigar lighter
i do not agree with him
myself i would rather have
half the happiness and twice
the longevity

but at the same time i wish
there was something i wanted
as badly as he wanted to fry himself

Don Marquis channeling archy the cockroach

May 27, 2022

May 27, 2021

I don't think parents necessarily understand all that much about their children. What you see of them is what they can't help being or doing, rather than what they intend, and it leads to all kinds of misapprehensions. Many parents, for instance, become convinced that their child has artistic talent, when that child has no intention whatsoever of becoming an artist! It's all so many stabs in the dark, the business of trying to predict how a child will turn out--I suppose we do it to make bringing them up more interesting and to pass the time, the way a good story passes the time, when all that really matters is that afterward they're able to go out into the world and stay there. I believe they know this themselves better than anyone.
Oh man do I feel this for my super-niece Cora. Especially since it's like I only have two useful skills to show her, programming computers and making music, and only one of those pays the bills. On the other hand if she wants a knack to try and view problems from every angle and be weirdly incapable of judging things, I'm her teacher!
Say the purpose of sex isn't procreation or recreation. Say it's concentration. Say it makes you focus on the person you're sleeping with, 'cause there's just too many other people in the world. It's like biological highlighter. [...] Look for me first, in any crowded room, and I'll do the same.
Lyle Lovett in "The Opposite of Sex"

The Supreme Court has the ability to surprise and/or shock. In 2015 - not that long ago, especially in this messed-up sense of decades - they legalized Gay Marriage. That was a pleasant surprise for people who love freedom and equality.

Here's another shock that's coming up, but not a surprise, so progressives can be braced for it: Roe v Wade is being set up to be chopped down. States will have free rein to set up whatever restrictions they want. Yahoos in the legislature will be free to shove their (generally influenced by their interpretation of their religion - lets be honest here) interpretation of when a human life is made into a standalone person (well, well before viability in their book - in fact well before the pregnancy is known) The folks w/ the wombs and their doctors won't be consulted, the big daddy legislature knows best.

From the article: "If you live in a blue state where there is an abortion rights majority, urge your legislators to be stalwarts preserving reproductive freedom, providing a welcome refuge for women forced to travel from hostile climes where rights have fallen. Massachusetts and Virginia are just two of the states that have recently passed omnibus laws providing statutory protections for abortion and repealing restrictions. The availability of safe and legal abortion in a patchwork of states can provide much needed shelter, particularly when combined with funding for travel, child care, and other related expenses. And if you live in a purple state, work to make it blue."

Combine this with Kavanaugh bullshit pivot on state-sanctioned execution methods - and realize what a moral catastrophe - an absolute trainwreck of our priorities of human rights and freedoms - this guy who Really Likes Beer is for this nation.

May 27, 2020

Two different men, each on one knee

I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.
Colin Kaepernick

May 27, 2019

A friend posted a Guardian article about "best deathbed music" - - this is my choice:

I wish more and more would find out about this song, because it's kind of perfect. "You know that decay is the final move / of everything that grows"

made way for ducklings!

May 27, 2018
My cousin David writes: We found a mother duck and her ducklings hovering around a storm drain. So I took a tire iron and pried off the cover and Mary climbed down to save the duckling as a group of onlookers cheered! Mother and ducklings are reunited.

Such mixed feelings watching Cavs/Celtics - Cleveland my old hometown, Boston my new one, enjoying the concept of Lebron (not a popular view in Boston :-D ), liking the young team of the Celtics, thinking that either team is at risk for getting mauled by whoever wins the Western Conference...

May 27, 2017

teaching a robot to make those goofy color names. I thought it was pretty good, actually! Especially "Stoner Blue"

May 27, 2016

I never really got into Seinfeld (though I like it conceptually) and had no idea that the slap based theme was customized on a weekly basis, to go along with the monologue...

More kottke bits: Tesla's SUV is faster while towing another car than an Alfa Romeo 4C Spider. In other words, the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider being towed by the Tesla wins the race vs its brother that's just being driven.
I'd really like to talk with the people who do the AI in the Mario Party series... having computer opponents who can play the same role as a human player, in an ok but not perfect way - and in so many games - is really impressive.
Catching up on ...


May 27, 2015
I'm always a little bummed the moon's surface isn't more of a recognizable shape. But this is it with the ISS passing in front...

May 27, 2014

Yakkety Tuba

Believe it or don't, I dug this up looking for "Tom Traubert's Blues".

May 27, 2013

fortress duplo

fortress duplo east wall


May 27, 2012

click for larger

--Other people have been posting some photos too... I love this one of my Jazz Band in 20111991... - writeup of Eurovision. I dig the idea of it so much, even if I only like 1 in 10 songs of it...

eurotrip day 13 - london

May 27, 2011

Wow, this may be New York's best riot ever via @IBHirsch

I'm all for anarchy, but then again, who will keep up the roads?
Sean Conner

Coworker quote of the day: "I just realized that if you combine Lil' John and Lil' Wayne you get one full sized John Wayne."

So f'in irritated that (ironically, since I'm checking from London) US folk can't get the Kindle "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency". Money to be made here, get your stupid "rights" act together. Off to look for a bootleg PDF to supplement my well-paid for paper copy.

--I downloaded the explicit MP3 first, as is my wont... man, it's much funnier with Mario noises than with gratuitous F-bombs...

dream flier

May 27, 2010

--This vehicle came to me in a dream, though it's probably straight out of Miyazaki's "Möwe" aircraft from his movie Nausicaä.... it was like the front end of an old-timey biplane but the wing was small and detachable and it only flew it a walking pace-- kind of like a flying Segway, in practice.

I'm really glad the iPad lets me get stuff off like this down, and then online.
Glad the wristwatch is on the way out replaced by pocketwatch-ish cellphone-will we still make the 'glance at wrist' gesture for impatience? -interesting bit on Stop Signage (first video link is great) BUT- are full stops that much better than alert "rolling stops"? It kind of begs the question if they are.
Hey IBM! Rather than having red lights disable people's cars, lets make red lights smarter about the traffic around, eh? It's a crime that I have to sit and wait for the stop light at an othewise empty intersection.
You know what? Screw Photoshop's "oh I can't possibly include those 100% transparent pixels in the selection" stance-Jimminy F'in Crickets!
The key to understanding the past is the knowledge that people then did not live in the past--they lived in the present, just a different present from ours. The present we are living in will be the past sooner than we wish. What we perceive as its uniqueness will come to be seen as just a part of the past as view from the point of a future present that will, in turn, see itself as unique. People in history did not wear quaintly old-fashioned clothes--they wore modern clothes. They did not see themselves as comparing unfavorably with the people of the future, they compared themselves and their lives favorably with the people of their past. In the context of our area of interest, it is particularly interesting to note that people in history did not see themselves as technologically primitive. On the contrary, they saw themselves as they were--at the leading edge of technology in a time of unprecedented change.
Michael Gorman, "Human Values in a Technological Age.
Man, I really have a hard time adopting his view for the 70s. Plus, for the record, I do kind of compare myself unfavorably with the folks of the future. Assuming stuff doesn't turn all Mad Max.

we get so much beauty for free in life

May 27, 2009
Rudy Rucker writes:
If it was for some reason hard to see clouds, can you imagine how much people would pay for the privilege? Like, if there was only one spot on Earth that had clouds, everyone would be going there and having these big spiritual experiences just from seeing the clouds.

This is a cloud I saw in Big Sur. We get so much beauty for free in life.

"From the data, from that picture the Air Force took tonight, what we've got out there is the original pilot ship. On the basis of observations, the others were guided down. Pattern-wise, one lands, then two, making groups of three, joined magnetically. Is that possible?"
"If they do it, it is."
General Mann and Dr. Forrester, War of the Worlds (1953).
You know, I liked this at first, but realized there's an implicit "or could our data be wrong / could this be an illusion" that Forrester is ignoring...
We will look at how gay couples [in Massachusetts] are making out.
WBUR's Tom Ashbrook, just now. Sounds kind of personal!

God is perfect, why did He create discontinuous functions?

You can't take your dick out on the moon.

Bought a cheapish 23" wiiiiide monitor. I love how my desktop wallpaper of the Lynn shore peeks out the sides of the browser window-

so little to say

May 27, 2008
Whoops, trouble getting back into my normal lunch update schedule.

Quote of the Moment
Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

i don't know if there's a hell but I'm pretty sure I'm going to it.
mm-had "kermani gaz" candy, in kitchen (from iranian coworker?). ever want to kill all your officemates? poisonous sweets in the kitchen.

cool as i ain't

May 27, 2007
Video of the Moment
So one song that misses my top three songs ever but is in my 29 bestest (and probably more like the top 5) is Dar Williams' "Cool as I Am"... and I just found that it has a very solid video...

I've seen the lyrics of this song misheard so that "I will not be afraid of women" has more of a lesbian tinge. (I think the "other" in this song isn't particularly gender typed, ala like Jeanette Winterson's "The PowerBook", though is a man in the video.) And come to think of it, I first heard it on a compilation called "Lesbian Favorites".

And I do love the lyrics, especially
And so I'm leaving,
you can find out how much better things can get,
And if it helps,
I'd say I feel a little worse than I did when we met
Plus, best use of a didgeridoo evar.

I think I need to find out more about Dar Williams. I know she was at that Harvard's Humanist Chaplaincy event, which I missed. I like the expressions she gives the camera in this video, a more natural version of that scrunched up look Renée Zellweger's Bridget Jones hits so often.

Line of the Moment
Very Well, Butram,
You May Kiss Me....
But First, You'll
Have to Remove
Your Clarinet.

the accidental daoist

May 27, 2006
It hit me that my life style tends to drift a bit into a bastardized form of daoism, just going with the flow, and trying to avoid big struggle. I was delighted when a Google search came up with zero hits for "the accidental daoist", thinking maybe I had (against all odds) managed to coin a new phrase, but removing the "the" returns over 100 hits. (Not that many by Google standards but still.)

Maybe it means something that the other accidental daoists call themselves "an" accidental daoist rather than "the".

Sports of the Moment
Every once in a while I like to check out the websites of other Major League Baseball teams. The other week it was the Kansas City Royals (who despite having a famously terrible season beat the Yankees last night.) They had a mailbag section that asked about the "Eephus Pitch"... a junk pitch that no veolcity, no spin, no nothing, but cam sometimes totally confound batters expecting a real pitch. The wikipedia page on it was pretty decent, as was this page that says even the greatest hitter who ever lived Ted Williams had to cheat to hit this pitch... even when he knew it was coming.

I love it. I wish some Red Sox pitcher would put something like that into the mix.

retreat to the cave

May 27, 2005
Game of the Moment
In the forehead smacking "why didn't I think of that?" department, SFCave 3D, a 3D (in a cheap and cheerful way) Java version of the great Java and Palm game SFCave I wrote about all the way back on 01/01/01. (Which was the third entry ever...back then I thought it was going to be cool to say I started in 2000, also I liked how you could just use the last two digits of the current year for the age of the blog, but now it's proven to be more of a pain, with December 2000 having two dinky entries in the archives.)

Naughtiness of the Moment
Thanks to the R pentomino for pointong out B3TA's Phallic Logo Awards. Some of these logos are so wonder if the designer was just that dumb, or just that smart. Obviously people who aren't amused by cartoony and stylized phalli should steer clear.

reading is fundamentalist

May 27, 2004
Toy of the Moment an online minibook with as realistic a virtual page-turning interface as possible.

Photography of the Moment
The photography of Bill Owens. His "Suburbia" photos are the most interesting bit, suburbanites and their dwellings in the late 60s/early 70s. The captions, the thoughts and feelings of the people being photographed, are the wonderful. (For some reason, the "Next" arrow next to each photo doesn't seem to work...for quick browsing (in IE at least) I suggest clicking on the first link on the left, then hitting tab, enter to view each link in turn.) If you're in a hurry, just check out Drink and Dance. Forget the weird clothes and ugly Christmas tree...those people are having a great great time. (This one reminds me of an old Polish joke however...)

Random Observation of the Moment
S'funny how the stock markets have all pretty much ignored the summer terror warnings. I don't konw if it's because they're all skeptical about it, or the decline in oil prices are that much more captivating, or what. (I pay more attention to the stock markets than I should. It's not healthy for me to feel that my fortunes are so closely tied in with the markets when the relationship is pretty distant overall.)

Probably everyone has a hare-brained, won't-work scheme for making money on the stock markets, and here's mine: there's some kind of relatinship between the Tokyo Stock Exchange and the markets over here. They're open different times, though. It seems like there should be some way to use one to have a good idea of what the others going to do...not perfectly, market-affecting news can happen any time, but still...So, if you could just daytrade in index funds for the relative markets, or some other stock that was highly correlated with the market as a whole, you should be able to make a mint. I think.

Anyone who knows more about the practicalities of daytrading or the markets in general than I do want to explain why it wouldn't work? I remember writing up a Perl computer simulation to demonstrate to a friend that the black/red roulette trick of "always double up after a loss" can't work, but this idea depends on more specifics than that.

Still, maybe someday I should get into some "paper trading", coming up with wacky schemes and trying them out risk free.

Requiem of the Moment
Man, do I miss the website (Permalink to what's repeating today.) It was so clever, so funny, with its thin-columned little snarky articles and Polly Esther / Terry Colon cartoons. (Here's a kisrael piece on when they shut down...)

vacation filler day 6 (backlog flush #25)

(1 comment)
May 27, 2003
European Update of the Moment
Hello from Frankfurt Airport...thanks to the wonder of the Samsung e-lounge (free Internet!) I get to say hi....
I learned two new things playing Pictionary with Germans. One thing is that for them, Aladdin's lamp is more of a vase looking thing. The other thing, though, is really big, and might also be a Europe/USA thing, not just English vs German...the Germans have no word for the opposite of smile. And maybe neither do the British. If you look up "Frown" in the Oxford English Dictionary, it talks about wrinkling the forehead, and doesn't mention the mouth at all! They would never come up with a phrase like "turn that frown upside-down", it just wouldn't make sense. I'd love to hear from any British or European folk who can confirm this; it has kind of big implications for the iconography of the different cultures. (Like in Pictionary, the Germans will spend a lot of time drawing wrinkled foreheads...)

dashing young man

May 27, 2002
News of the Moment
Slate had two interesting WTC-related is that the idea that Zacarias Moussaoui asked for flying lessons, but without the takeoffs and landings is an urban legend. The other is that last weekend's spate of Terrorist Threat reminders may have been a response to 9/11 recriminations, i.e. a Bush and company smokescreen. Not that there isn't an ongoing level of threat, but it's a little reassuring as we finish up the holiday weekend.

Last night NPR had some interesting audio footage (is that the term?) from the broadcasting career of Robert Trout, who was one of the first big well known radio news broadcasters. He covered things ranging from FDR's 4 inaaugarations to the moon landing. They had a large number of clips from World War 2. I think, even in this anxious day and age, we don't realize how scary that war was, even for the folks at home, that the outcome was not always clear.

Gamebutton of the Moment

Click (and click and click) to run for the best possible time!
Tip: once you click with the mouse to start the game, the spacebar is much more reliable than the mouse for registering button hits

Pirated Episode 3 Dialog of the Moment
"I dub thee... Darth--"
"Darth Wizard!"
"Uh, no, I dub thee Da--"
"Darth Laser Sword!"
"NO! I dub thee Darth... Vader!"
"But I kinda like Darth Wiz--"
"...Yes, my master."
(in response to an idea that Anakin should have rolled his eyes and sarcastically said "Yippee" at some point in 2 or 3, in couterpoint to his exclamation in The Phantom Menace.)

take aim against cavities

May 27, 2001
k: I've been doing a lot of AIMing lately.
k: (AOL Instant Messenger-ing ).
k: You initiate a chat with someone,
k: and then each of you type at each other,
k: a line sent at a time.
k: I've been finding that writing pattern
k: creeping into some of my other writing
k: with clipped sentences,
k: a line per thought to keep them interested,
k: and commas to indicate more is coming.
k: Interesting.

Read of the Moment has a diary of a firefighter. You really have to respect firemen, there lives are such a blend of danger and boredom, as the journal entries explain. And harsh practical jokes. (via Spike Report)

For a year I've lived right off a street called Henderson, and it never quite looks familiar when I'm walking towards cottage avenue.  S'funny that; I wonder what my mental image of it is, then.
A metaphor for the practice of thinking of mortality: it's a bit like fire fighting in the wilderness.  Random thoughts- fleeting references to the passing of time, realizng the finiteness of things- are sparks that can set a fire to cause many sleepless nights.  To prevent that, you can just work to make sure those sparks don't show up, but a better bet is to try to saturate the land with comforting perspectives, and keep coming back to those perspectives whenever conditions seem to warrant it.
And the latest odd spark- everyone I know from freshman year of college- Mo, Rebekah, Anna, Rob-- I've known since I was 18! Amazingly young.  But it's been a long tme, right?  (It would have to be- that's maybe a tenth of my whole life-- yikes, that tenth scares me.)  

Also, there was a line I should've written down from a book- either Miss Wyoming or Day Job- about how you stop making new friends around the same time you buy your first piece of expensive furniture.
"if you ain't where you are you're nowhere"
          -Colonel Potter, M*A*S*H*
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.
          --New Yorker cartoon
looking over the kirk/rebekah archive I'm struck by the cycles, and by the strength of some of the things r wrote to me. Does she toss the word love around too lightly?  It doesn't seem like it.  I feel myself losing ground on the journey of getting over her.  Danger Will Robinson.