June 22, 2022

Armadillos are basically transformers?

June 22, 2021

I have only ever had one friend as crazy as I am. Once, we painted a giant fireplace onto a wall in her apartment as decoration for a dinner party we were hosting. Later, toward the end of the party, she led our guests onto the roof, bringing with her a boom box playing Strauss. I climbed up the fire escape in a ball gown. I held out my hand. We waltzed with speed and gusto. Our friends and professors looked on, terrified: there was no railing.

I haven't done as much dancing in the seventeen years since I ended that relationship. The breakup happened like this: we had planned an elaborate outing in Sonoma County. The picnic supplies took days to gather. We left early, got home late, and as she told me when she hugged me good night, everything in between had been perfect. It had been a perfect day. The next morning, I wrote her a letter telling her that I did not want to be friends with her anymore.

I had my reasons, of course. As I say, she is crazy. I am, too, but in a very different way. The immense effort it took for me to spend a whole day with her and ensure that it was "perfect"--that I did nothing to offend, upset, or bother her--proved to me that we just didn't work. And I thought: When a relationship does not work, each party has the right to exit. It will hurt, but we will get over it, and we will both be better off in the end. The thing is: the pain hasn't gone away. I still miss her. I still dream about her. And lately I have come to think that part of the problem lies in how I broke things off: unilaterally. I took matters into my own hands, as though there were no rules governing how you break up with someone.


Consider how far we have come from the ethics of the Iliad, in which Achilles is glorified for choking a river with the blood of his enemies. We now understand that moral excellence lies not in the use of physical force but the abstention therefrom. Humanity has been slower to acknowledge the reality of psychological injury and trauma, and correspondingly slower to see the rules that govern violence in that domain. I propose that one of those rules is that you are not allowed to "just walk away."

I am not saying you can never break up or get divorced, but rather that all is not fair when it comes to these endings; you cannot simply cut people off; you are not free to leave at any time. If your life is entwined with someone else's, then a new arrangement between the two of you must be the product of an agreement you can both live with. Also, you must be open, forever, to revising that agreement if and when the other person offers reasons for doing so.

Those requirements are robustly ethical. In that letter to my friend, I made the usual excuses, arguing that the relationship was in some way "toxic"; that this was the best course for both of us; that the break "had to" happen. Whether those claims were true, enforcing them without her consent was wrong. It was like shoving words in her mouth and forcing her to say them. Instead of deliberating with her about how to move forward, I took matters into my own hands: I tore out a part of her life, and a part of mine, violently, because that violence seemed to be in my interest. If that kind of behavior is not wrong, what is?
Agnes Callard, via Harper's Magazine from From "Romance Without Love, Love Without Romance"
I'm not fully endorsing the stance of this article, and would point it's kind of specific to what it applies to. But I am so often saddened when I notice I'm a bit of a social hub (as is nearly everyone) where some of the spokes just can't get along. I don't want to discount the reality of "toxic relationships", nor condemn people who need to draw an absolute boundary.
And then there's the one you write
that makes even you laugh.
You never want to see her again.
You don't want to see her handwriting
on a letter. You don't want to come home
and see the little yellow light
flashing messages of regret.
You don't want to pick up the phone
and hear how much she's been missing you.
Couldn't you meet for a drink?
Not any more. Maybe in a year or two.
All you want to do now
is draw a line under your life
and get on with the past.
Do you make yourself perfectly clear?
You sign with just your name,
a businesslike touch
which makes even you laugh.
Hugo Williams, "All That".
Kind of a counterpoint to that last bit, a poem I ran into 17 years ago.

quotes from Jim Holt's "When Einstein Walked with Gödel"

June 22, 2020
ignoramus et ignorabimus
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Latin for "we do not know and will not know", like on the limits of scientific knowledge
Einstein, too, was unable to make a clean break with time. "To those of us who believe in physics," he wrote to the widow of a friend who had recently died, "this separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, if a stubborn one." When his own turn came, a couple of weeks later, he said, "It is time to go."
Jim Holt, "When Einstein Walked with Gödel"
Mathematical beauty, like the beauty of, say, a late Beethoven quartet, arises from a combination of strangeness and inevitability.
Jim Holt, "When Einstein Walked with Gödel"
Higher mathematics was invented by the Pythagoreans, a cult whose tenets included the transmigration of souls and the sinfulness of eating beans.
Jim Holt, "When Einstein Walked with Gödel"
Science is a differential Equation. Religion is a Boundary Condition.
Alan Turing
"Well, one day," Wheeler recounts, "I was at the Institute for Advanced Study, and I went to Gödel's office, and there was Gödel. It was winter and Gödel had an electric heater and had his legs wrapped in a blanket. I said, 'Professor Gödel, what connection do you see between your incompleteness theorem and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle?' And Gödel got angry and threw me out of his office."
Jim Holt, "When Einstein Walked with Gödel"
Truth is what your contemporaries let you get away with.
Richard Rorty
"[Richard Rorty] also liked to cite Nietzsche’s observation that truth is a surrogate for God. Asking of someone, “Does he love the truth?” Rorty said, is like asking, “Is he saved?”"
Jim Holt, "When Einstein Walked with Gödel"
That last line really struck home for me, since it so mirrors what I've come to realize lately, how my early religious upbringing provides me with a well-nigh unshakable faith in an absolute truth... but the only thing we can know for certain about this truth is that we can never be certain how well we know it.

This kind of steadfast unfaith completely overthrew the more typical religious faith I had had up to that point, kind of like Zeus overthrowing Cronus.
Ya'know... WWI ended in 1918, and WWII started in 1939. That's not a ton of time after "the war to end all wars", like when I think about how long life has felt since Y2K.

longest day of the year, how did that happen

June 22, 2019
JP Honk celebrating the solstice at JP Pond...

June 22, 2018

hey kids remember the 90s? 'cuz Melissa says this shirt sure does

Consider the Lobster (as a potentially immortal being that made a deal with devil)
The idea of a graffiti robot is kinda brilliant

June 22, 2017

Was hacking on Porchfest maps late at night when Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know"... great breakup song. But I was suddenly really struck by "felt so lonely in your company"... it's a feeling I'm sensitive about having provoked in relationships in the past and try to be on the watch for now... but just now it hits me that maybe 'cause I was an only child (whose family got moved every couple of years) it's something I can only be sympathetic to, not empathetic; only kids are often ok with just their own company, and while connecting deeply with someone is rewarding and important, there's a... not independence, but lack of dependence... self-sufficiency, I guess... that's hard to shake, and so reading loneliness in others, even people we're close to, requires a lot of focus, because it's not written in our native language.

(On facebook Johnny from Portugal commented " I'm an only child and l can spot it very fast, so maybe it's a mixture between being an only child and the way our own personality is structured?", I wrote her back " yeah, I hope it's a mix. Not just me looking for an excuse to say 'hey I'm not JUST self absorbed.' -- Also when I'm playing armchair self-analysist, it might have been synergized with the loss of my dad when I was young, the idea of not really counting on anyone else.)
The pet of the future?

June 22, 2016

Excerpts from Brady Carlson's "Dead Presidents: An American Adventure into the Strange Deaths and Surprising Afterlives of Our Nations Leaders"... I admit I didn't enjoy the book as much as I had hope but it had a few cool bits:
Engineers told South Dakota's US senator Peter Norbeck it would be too difficult to carve the roads he'd proposed for tourists to access the site, but Norbeck insisted they go forward: "With enough dynamite," he told them, "anything is possible." It's not a slogan you'd want to print on national currency, but Borglum proved it correct, working right up until his unexpected death in 1941.
More recently the city tried emphasizing Dealey Plaza as a historical site well beyond its Kennedy ties, with one official describing the plaza as "a major public green space on the west side of downtown." (Reporter Eric Nicholson of the Dallas Observer summed up the message behind this effort as "One Unfortunate Afternoon Shouldn't Overshadow Dealey Plaza's Decades of Not Murdering Presidents.")
I am a blubber of water.
Andrew Jackson, suffering from fluid retention

But in 1880 the Republicans nominated Arthur as James A. Garfield's running mate to smooth out a squabble between two party factions. In less than a year, Garfield was a martyr and Arthur was the muttonchopped, well-dressed "Dude President." His first act in office was to lock himself in the bedroom and cry.
(I include this only mostly because it was Chester Arthur (or, specifically, a character that looked a bit like him in the video game "Time Splitters 2" that my cousin Ivan would announce as "Chester A. Arthur, America's Most Badass President". Ironic!)
The four [entirely incompatible factions of the Repubican party], by the way, are the ultra-religious theocrats, the libertarian "business is business" deregulators, the "subjugate the lesser countries" neocons, and Trump has revealed that the racists in the party are a faction all their own that can be courted.

June 22, 2015

tbh I sort of forgot Mitt Romney had been our governor, despite how much I used to think about Romneycare....

When Image Recognition Algorithms Dream...

June 22, 2014

(We really need a "NSFW"-style marker for "This Information is likely only interesting to coders"- anyway, apply that here.)

Man, is my Perl getting rusty, even though it's still my goto (no pun intended) language my shared web server. In particular using curly braces for a map reference (e.g. $someMap{$keyval}) vs javascript's all purpose "like an array" syntax (e.g. someMap[keyval]) is looking really old and futzy to me.

I should really look into doing more of this stuff in node.js. (Hmm, looks like last year I enquired on my cheap webspace about getting it going, but didn't follow up)
Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you recognize a mistake when you make it again.
F.P. Jones

June 22, 2013

Final session of my first drawing class. Did my model have Buddha nature?

winnah winnah chicken dinnah!

June 22, 2012

The trophy I won as the captaoin of the "People's Choice" team "Team Typing + Textbook Topic Targetting" at my company's 2 1/2 day hackathon, "Alleyoop Ignite"

For event T-shirts, Lauren made an awesome design:
Seriously, best corprorate shwag design ever.

one for the ages

June 22, 2011
Making the rounds yesterday... what is allegedly the bartab of the Boston Bruins, including a $100K giant magnum of champagne...

Now that, boys and girls, is an epic bar tab.
Tyche [chance] is as relentless a mistress as Ananke [necessity]
Norbert Wiener

You know you're in trouble when even the main villain in your story is complaining about the plot and wishing he were a character in a more interesting book.

Reassuring AND discouraging when googling up some development how-to and seeing a bunch of links colored "already seen" from way back when.

turbosnail GO GO GO

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June 22, 2010
--via señor gif. I've always loved animal cyborg vehicles...

That IKEA cam fastener w/ its special screw is so crazy satisfying, when you twist the cam w/ a screwdriver and it makes the join so secure.
http://www.slate.com/id/2255746/ - remembering that Dick Tracy movie. I liked the limited color palette. Also, "Hanky Panky" by Madonna-- my marching band played that song.
Hot air blowers are incubators and spewers of bacteria and pestilence. Frankly it would be more hygienic if they just had a plague infested gibbon sneeze my hands dry.
Sheldon, the Big Bang Theory

Awesome Tribute for Manute Bol
http://kisrael.com/2007/11/04/ - sunset/sunrise plotter I made a while back, after the bittersweet realization that it's the longest days of the year.
http://bit.ly/aaS6Kz :: wow - what a pic :: terribeautiful image of wave carrying oil to alabama coast
--via http://twitter.com/zefrank
Just reread childhood favorite "Danny: The Champion of the World"- what a sweet and subversive story, tho mostly remembered the scary bits.

gm is people

June 22, 2009

--via BoingBoing. I don't have any good justification for posting this except I like the retrofuture styling of the building and enjoy the mental image of Charlton Heston running through the street proclaiming:
(Will Soylent Green references ever get tired? I hope not.)

Watching Henry+June with some_chick last night I realize that it was that movie, not Indiana Jones, that got me wearing that damn fedora during college.
Jeez, a barrage of Spam leaking through at gmail, "hot girl" appeals where the only contact info is a live.com email address.
It's oddly reassuring when Google "guess ahead" knows what you were going to say about a technical issue - you are not alone.

what you get after one six hour intensive introduction to flash class

June 22, 2008

daisies that shatter. a tornado with a halo.

June 22, 2007
So yesterday (and I'm retroactively claiming it was to celebrate the longest day / start of summer) Jonathan suggested we go after work and take the Minute Man Bike Trail to its end, him on roller blades, me on bike (not a bad match, given his athleticism, and my lack thereof. Actually I was lagging him a bit.) Looking at the website, I guess I went longer than we thought, maybe 9.5 miles each way, from Arlington Center out to Bedford and back. That's quite a haul for me... I feel pretty good today, though I didn't sleep particularly well.

So here's what the end of the Minuteman looks like, and Jonathan on 'blades (he's actually amazing graceful on those things, like the way those dancers used to be on skates in the 70s) and me on a bike.

(UPDATE: I found this google map of the minuteman on a minuteman pather's blog)

Literary Bits of the Moment
I just finished Douglas Coupland's "Eleanor Rigby" (Thanks Mr. Ibis and Felisdemens! His sandals will be mailed shortly) a meditation on loneliness and human society in general.


Not my favorite Coupland work, lacking the constant flow of neat observations and ideas, but decent. For me the most striking bit was this series of apocalyptic visions of one of the central characters, dealing with MS, raised by foster families, most featuring an odd fundamentalist religious bent. (He sums it up as "This fallen world is going to end, but at least I saw it before the fall" -- it wasn't till I reviewed the book for this entry that I realized that phrase may have sunk into my head and informed my comment I posted yesterday on how we are some future collapsed society's Atlantis.)

The central recurring vision is one of farmers and their wives, burning their seeds and destroying their stores of preserved food, looking up at the sun shining in the all black sky... that scene's narrative gets further revealed throughout the book, but it's the idea of a round white ball of sun against a black sky that I find most sticks in my head.

There were other tableaus and mini-stories:
Heh, all this disturbing, dream-like imagery makes me want to go catch up on Slow Wave.

UDPATE: nearly forgot one more great quote from the book:
"Again I have to say it, Mom, there's a lot to be said for having a small and manageable dream."

the power of hours

June 22, 2006
So I guess yesterday was the solstice. I wish I was more pagan-y and knew how to celebrate it right, because all I'm left with is a sense of "it's all downhill from here", the days will start getting shorter and the nights longer. Still, yesterday was such a beautiful day.

I keep meaning to find a graph, or the numbers to make my own, of sunrise/sunset times throughout a year. Is it like a sine wave or what?

Quote of the Moment
If my decomposing carcass helps nourish the roots of a juniper tree or the wings of a vulture -- that is immortality enough for me.

Video of the Moment
Back in the 90s I played a demo for this game called Bad Mojo... the player controlled a guy who had done a Kafka... transformed into a cockroach, albeit a normal sized one. It had amazing photo-realistic graphics and motion, really cool. Here's a youtube excerpt of the "Making Of" video where they talk about all the (mis)adventures they had with the creatures brought into the studio... NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH but pretty cool. (If you're in a hurry, just listen to where they start talking about the mice, it's not quite as interesting after that bit.)

chicken in the car and the car won't go (backlog flush #54)

June 22, 2005
UPDATE: Laffy Taffy from Macrovision (It didn't sink in that such an "evil" company bought the product I'm getting training on, Installshield...)
"What Did Yes Say To No?"
That's poetry!

So it turns out my hotel is REALLY close to a REALLY big mall. It's big...seriously, the distance from my hotel room to its door is probably not that much more than the distance from end of the place to the other. Making it worse, it's 3 stories in some places, 2 in others, with a lot of weird ramps in the middle, and the whole thing is in the shape of a giant T...actually more of a stunted J. It's just odd.

rants don't pay rents

June 22, 2004
Politics of the Moment
Every day there are news reports about more deaths. Every night on TV there are photos of death and destruction. Why are we still there?
We occupied this land, which we had to take by force, but it causes us nothing but trouble. Why are we still there?
Many of our children go there and never come back. Why are we still there? Their government is unstable, and they have sporadic leadership. Why are we still there?
Many of their people are uncivilized. Why are we still there?
The place is subject to natural disasters, from which we are supposed to bail them out. Why are we still there?
There are more than 1000 religious sects, which we do not understand. Why are we still there?
Their folkways, foods, and fads are unfathomable to odinary Americans. Why are we still there?
We can't even secure the borders. Why are we still there?
They are billions of dollars in debt, and it will cost billions more to rebuild, which we cannot afford. Why are we still there?
It is becoming clear...
'making the rounds', gtabbed from rec.humor.funny.

Popculture of the Moment
They're making a version of Spiderman localized for India. He's Pavitr Prabhakar, not Peter Parker, and he'll battle Rakshasa, an Indian mythological demon, not the Green Goblin. Nifty!

Game Maker of the Moment
Huh, hadn't previously heard about Zelda Classic, starting as an engine to port the old NES classic to PCs, it's now a huge editor system letting people make up new missions, monsters, and even totally changing the look and feel of the game...Alas, I never really got into the original Zelda, but still, it seems a pretty cool idea...


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June 22, 2003
Random Observation of the Moment
Bridget Jones's Diary was on Encore last night. You know, that ending credits sequence, where they decide to show the previously-mentioned scene where 4 year old Bridget Jones is running around naked (well, half naked for the sake of the film) Mark Darcy's 8th birthday, is really kind of creepy...they play up young Mark's attraction to Bridget, and it's weird, because most 8 year old boys don't have crushes on girls. And it's subtlety disturbing because, well, you don't want to see anyone with that form of crush on a 4 year old girl.

Feh. The trivia for the film on IMDB mentions that in UK and Australia, they have an alternate credits featuring fake interviews with Daniel Cleaver, Mark's parents and Bridget's boss. That sounds much cooler and less corny (not too mention less pedophiliariffic) than what the American audience got stuck with.

Games of the Moment
The most polished version of SFCave (available for Palm and online) is this 'playmore' one...kind of neat and biological, I think it may have been an X-box tie-in. Going back to that one palm page, Ireba Soccer (near the bottom of the page) is a nifty little minigame, worth the download for Windows.

Random Observation of the Other Moment
MAN I can't believe this rain! It's like a monsoon out there!

I guess I've neglected mentioning that we're in the longest days of the year, and days will be getting shorter from here on in. Which is a bummer, but it's not so bad.

I do wonder though...is New England finally out of the woods when it comes to the drought?

Cartoons of the Moment
Heath Robinson was England's answer to Rube Goldberg, cartooning around WW2. Some interesting stuff, with a distinct macabre eye in some places.

be werry werry quiet....

June 22, 2002
...I'm huntin' wabbit! (but not with a gun.) This littl'un was hoppin' around the front yard this morning. I guess I should have been more careful, it could have turned out to be one of those bunnies from Monty Python and the Holy Grail with the nasty, big, pointy teeth. Kind of an oddly Snow White morning, between the bunny, squirrels and chipmunks.

Flash Movie of the Moment
Bruno Bozzetto presents Yes & No, a dyseducational road movie...funny!

Quote of the Moment
I was a horrible date all through school and college. Here's an impression of me on a date in high school: 'Come on, chug it!'
David Spade

nietzsche the day!

June 22, 2001
Links of the Moment
How False Memories can be Impanted, and How the Brain Edits Out What We See. These are more than mere tricks; I don't think people realize just how subjective their views of the universe are, and how unreliable their own perception can be.

Anecdote of the Moment
[walking after getting bar supplies from Williams Sonoma]
"Man, this stuff is heavy."
    "Like Nietzsche?"
"Yeah. Remember, when you stare into
  the margarita mix, the margarita mix
  is staring back into you."
Kirk and John, 2001-06-21

Old T-shirt: #3 of a Series

"Carpe Diem". I never liked this shirt, and didn't wear it much. I always thought the slogan was a bit dorky, and adding the translation underneath makes it more so. A lame visual design in colors that don't suit me and the use of an inappropriate font (Gothic? For Latin?) top it off.

Just had a memory walking in a mall with my dad, with him expressing surprise that I had never heard of a taco bell- is that why I'm so fond of them now?

(Another RCM (random childhood memory) of having a hushpuppy shaped candle, and being fond of it, and having it hide in the bell of a trombone (this must've been in Salamanca) and sitting in the backseat of a station wagon and being told by relatives to leave it there, so they won't they I stole it when we went into the store.)
"If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons."
--James Thurber
"You enter into a certain amount of madness when you marry a person with pets."
--Nora Ephron
"Things that upset a terrier may pass virtually unnoticed by a Great Dane."
--Smiley Blanton
"Sometimes, in the pursuit of pleasure, we forget that what we are ultimately searching for is happiness."
--someone on alt.support.diet
7:10, summer evening, sitting at au bon pain, eatting a bag of baby carrots, listening to a bluesman, ran into karla goo, closed my baybank account, bought some used Tolkien. Feels pretty good.