July 23, 2021

July 23, 2020

Just finished the graphic novel "Stuck Rubber Baby", a lovely work about growing up in the deep South during the "Kennedytime" era - a young man working out his homosexuality (even in the context of a straight relationship) and his space in the civil rights movement.

I like how those panels touch on the blend of admiration and love. (As always I think of that line from Birdman: "You know, just because I didn't like that ridiculous comedy you did with Goldie Hawn did not mean I did not love you. That's what you always do. You confuse love for admiration.")
Work reasonably, play reasonably.
Jon Raasch (That's a pretty excellent thing to hear from your manager...)

I've been going through old files and I found this video of a plasma globe, footage I took for my 40x30 small gif cinema series in 2003... I thought in the dark it looked a bit like a Star Trek alien entity...

July 23, 2019

I guess Tim Gunn's "Make It Work" is kind of the more urbane version of "Git-R-Dun" I was looking for, though "Make It Work" has that subtext of "huh... I have serious doubts about where you are with this project now" while Git-R-Dun is less judgemental in its encouragement.
OK, note to self. "Al Capp" did "Li'l Abner" and turned right later and bickered with John and Yoko during their Bed-In for Peace. "Andy Capp" is the English comic strip with the hat-wearing pub guy who's on the packets of "Hot Fries"
It's not hard to see in the demographics, the words, and the behavior of Trump supporters an ethic of total retaliation at work. These are men and women who defend their vote by saying things like: "I just wanted people to know that I'm here, that I count." These are men and women whose scorn of "political correctness" translates into: "You can't make me talk the way that you want me to talk, even if that way of talking is nicer and smarter and better." These are men and women whose denials of climate change are gleeful denials of scientific expertise in a world where scientific experts have unquestioned intellectual respect and social status. These are men and women who seemed to applaud the incompetence of Trump's campaign because competence itself is associated with membership in the elite.

July 23, 2018

"At 975x1273 pixels, this Big Bob-omb sprite from Paper Mario: Color Splash is the biggest individual sprite from any Paper Mario game." - via SupperMarioBroth twitter - didn't realize this existed off of tumblr!
BABAM in the Globe, front page of the Metro section.
Here's an interesting fact: no other animals can keep a beat as well as humans can. From drumming to dancing to marching in time, humans have a unique knack for synchrony – repetitive, rhythmically entrained, social behavior. Researchers have found that keeping the beat together makes people more cooperative, friendly, and well-disposed toward one another. It's like a built-in switch for social bonding.

July 23, 2017

Now that I've been listening to podcasts, it seems kind of weird that I can't pause live radio.

best photos of 2002

July 23, 2016
My Dozen Best Photos of 2002.

Don't get mad if you parents ask 'simple tech questions' because they taught you how to use a spoon.

July 23, 2015

The two things you need to know about exponential growth: it lets you get to large numbers very quickly. And it always runs into physical barriers.
The presentation points out we've reached some stability in what our devices can do, and that echoes how the airline industry plateaued. We COULD build supersonic passenger jets and moonbases, but we don't. Similarly, in college in the 90s if I didn't get a new computer every year or two I was qualitatively behind in what my machine could do. Nowadays, I would barely notice issues with a laptop that was 5 years old. (And my hopes for a "techno rapture of the nerds" Singularity is diminished every time I have an interaction that reminds me of how there's just no there there with Siri...)

Not that there's not still a lot of room for change: self-driving vehicles are going to be super-disruptive.

Also: I really like seeing transcriptions of this kind of presentation, where I can skim/read at my own pace but still enjoy photos that half the time just provide general feel and a sense of being rooted. Electronic text often lacks that; I think that's one of the reasons comprehension and retention lags with electronic readers. But to me it feels like "arbitrary" images returns some sense of the physicality that would be otherwise lost.

July 23, 2014

July 23, 2013

Drawing teacher was encouraging us to mess around with composition, which led to me trying to punch way above my weight in terms of what I actually know how to pull off.

girl if i could rearrange the alphabet I'd just throw it on the ground so we could fuck in the chaos of impossible communication

The people who think the world will end all at once will be largely responsible for it ending gradually.

Timelapse plant growth looks so alien:

Macro Timelapse from Daniel Csobot on Vimeo.

video game jam

July 23, 2012

--via video from the ISS... worth fullscreen and HD like they suggest
"You are my trailer park."
"And you, Anna-Louise, are my tornado."
Douglas Coupland, "Shampoo Planet"

what goes up...

July 23, 2011

learning english the poopy way

July 23, 2010

--"I have a bad case of diarrhea"

anatomy of a freakout

July 23, 2009

...but I find myself yearning for a small room dance party now. - Vanity Fair on Sarah Palin (just before she resigned) - evenhanded, I think. (via Josh)
Just swapped my twitter names so that "kirkjerk" is my main account, and "khftcea" I'm keeping around for grins. Kirk's Home for the Chronically Easily Amused is a name that goes back to 1997 on my Palmpilot, but isn't easy to type, or for people to recognize.
Penny Arcade predicts the future of profanity: "Ham Doctor", "Voltron Nightgown", "Strawberry Smurf", "Cherry Split", "Caramel Pollock", "Greasy Pumpkin", "Tangy Slipper", "'The Prestige'"

on hawkins, intelligence, and searle's chinese room

July 23, 2008
So I've been twittering about Searle's Chinese Room lately, might as well ramble about it at more length and get it out of my system... (, come for the quotes and links, stay for the long pseudo-intellectual grumblefests!)

I'm reading Jeff Hawkins' "On Intelligence", and from what I've heard it seems pretty promising... with ideas that the core of intelligence is a memory-prediction system, and that AI researchers do themselves a disservice by not looking at the actual physical mechanisms of the brain, just like neuroscientists do themselves a disservice by not trying to take a step back and focus on the large process rather than specific subsystems. That all seems really promising.

So far he has two points I disagree with... one is that Searle's Chinese Room is a satisfactory demonstration that "behaviorial equivalence is not enough", that you could somehow fake intelligence without being intelligent. The second is this idea that intelligence is strictly an internal property. He might be not too far off on the second idea, but from a utilitarian standpoint, a 100% internal intelligence is of zero interest to us... one could imagine this group of hyperintelligent rocks, all with this rich internal state that is this lovely model of the whole environment, able to make simulations and predictions with stunning accuracy, but if there is zero interaction with the outside world, who cares? These smartrocks are indistinguishable from, you know, rocks! (I remember writing a poem about this in high school, a rock that figure out world peace and all that, but couldn't tell anyone 'cause it was a rock.) Down this path lies stuff like Greg Egan's "Permutation City", where a whole field of floating dust specks might be intelligent, if we just knew how to interpret /communicate with it, a kind of weird pantheism, or at least beleif in pan-intelligence.

So...the Chinese Room. You can read Hawkins restatement of the thought experiment here. He concludes that "no matter how cleverly a computer is designed to simulate intelligence by producing the same behavior as a human, it has no understanding and it is not intelligent".

I find this conclusion absurd. First, while this is an abstract thought experiment and thus a huge amount of handwaving is permitted, it's important to note how hyper-complex the "big book of instructions and all the pencils and scratch paper he could ever need" would be if the setup is going to effectively simulate a person conversing intelligently in Chinese. It's an important thing to note, because part of Searle's argument is secretly an appeal to intuition, and lines like "after all, it's just a book, and books can't think!" will come up but that is terribly misleading because ignores the overwhelming scope of that book... it needs contains "simple" abstract symbol manipulations that can "fake" someone who has a deep knowledge of the world, Chinese culture, history, itself, the laws of cause and effect, a sense of humor, what it means to be in love -- in short, everything necessary to convince the person passing in the notes and reading the responses that there is a Chinese speaker inside there. That book would need to be almost unimaginably huge and complex to pull this off.

But say we grant the theoretical possibility of this book. There is a perfectly valid answer to "where does the understanding lie in this scenario?", a reply formulated shortly after the original idea was proposed, and it's called the "Systems Reply'... the man inside might not understand Chinese, and a static book and pile of scratch paper certainly doesn't understand Chinese, but the System as a whole... man, book, paper, room-- absolutely does. For me this is one of those ideas that I almost can't believe isn't intuitively and universally obvious.

Searle's response is to say, ok, well what if the man memorizes the book, and has a good enough memory to do all the steps in his head... There! He now can speak Chinese without knowing Chinese! (As I think Dennett points out, he now knows Chinese but in the "wrong way".) Going back to the idea of the room, I guess the idea is that because there are certain things the odd intelligence of room, man, book can't do, we're not counting it as "true intelligence". Oddly enough, for me this goes back to the idea of the hyperintelligent rocks, in that the issue is one of information getting in and out. Ask the Chinese Room about a beautiful grassy meadow, and it talks about the meadow. Searle seems to argue, though, that it doesn't really understand what a meadow is, it's just doing abstract symbol manipulation. But if enough is going on inside that you can ask it ongoing questions about the meadow, what it feels like, how the grass gently floats on the wind, etc, and are satisfied by the humanness of the answers, to say that there's no "real" understanding on all that scrap paper, or in that book, or with the diligent, boring work of that man is just being ornery, and terribly biased against ways of being intelligent that don't physically resemble our own brains. So just like the guy who 'internalized' the Chinese Room might not have access to his understanding of Chinese like someone who learned Chinese the usual way, we might not be able to comprehend the internal states of the physical Chinese Room, but I can't see there's any way of deeply faking understanding without having understanding.

(Someone on the Wikipedia page comments points out how, sadly, too often school can look like a big Chinese room, where a kid might be given a statement like "the heart is associated with the flow of blood', and later be given a question like 'what is the heart associated with the flow of? A. snot B. blood C. poop'... thus becoming a simple Chinese Room that can answer a basic question about biology by pattern recognition, with no true sense of meaning or depth.)

So I'm still optimistic about Hawkins books... he may be more concerned with the layman's understanding of computers, and arguing that an intelligent system will operate very little like the main part of a computer does. (Even if the end result was some kind of "brain simulation" that happens to run on a traditional-style computer, kind of a neuronic VR... I'm not far enough along to know if he would accept the plausibility of that or not.) Still, his begging the question of whether a Chinese Room would have understanding rankles me a great deal.
firefox spellcheck FAIL: temprement -> procurements, procurement, procurement's, premenstrual, excremental, Add to dictionary. Yeesh.

a more pointless than usual entry

July 23, 2007
Had an odd dream where some little academic community, built around courtyard that had some kind of small nuclear reactor buried in the middle to provide for its power needs, was mysteriously cold and snowy even in the middle of summer. I suspected it was the reactor somehow gone awry but I didn't have any evidence.

Lyrics of the Moment
America rocks! America rocks!
From its busy bustling cities
To its quiet country walks
It's totally cool, it's totally hot
I mean it's like right there at the top
America rocks! America rocks! America rocks!
lyrics from a song by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), which he described as a "patriotic rock song for children"
I love the painfully self conscious use of "like". (via Bill the Splut who is currently writing entertaining reviews of this old time serial Manhunt of Mystery Island.)

Odd Nostalgia of the Moment
A boingboing plug for a book about "Objects with Unexpected Significance", little relics people have harped on, wouldn't have caught my eye except for the photo they used... I think I had this dog (which was made of wax or something?) when I was a kid. I was attached to it but my folks told me to leave it in the car "so the people in the store wouldn't think I stole it". Or something. I then vaguely remember stuffing it in the bell of my mom's trombone. Or something. This is not the most reliable of childhood memories, but darn it, I think I remember that dog.

we're gonna make fettucini outta you, alfredo!

(1 comment)
July 23, 2006
So last night Miller, Ksenia and I decided to go dancing. The problem is, Miller hasn't really been around to clubs for a few years, Ksenia of course is unfamiliar with the lay of the land, and my experience only extends to the now (temporarily?) defunct "Man Ray". So Miller did some research, and it sounded like "Tequila Rain", downstairs of Jillian's (in what would be the shadow of Fenway Park were it not, like, 11PM) might be a decent bet.

In the end it was... just alright. The music selection was a bit uneven, and the DJ bothered with smooth transitions for maybe 1 in 3 songs. I was trying to gauge the age of the crowd... I thought it was pretty young, but Miller pointed some 80s and 90s standards like "Hey Micky" and "Pour Some Sugar On Me" were getting a lot of people yelling along. I was kind of amused by the Coyote Ugly-esque counter they had, and the gals trying to work it, though it was in front of a VIPish area, not a bar.

So, we didn't try to close the place out, and beat a retreat to IHOP (incidentally, the parking gods had previously smiled upon me, and we got a free metered spot right there by the BU dorms) I was pretty dang good at resisting the breakfasty temptations of IHOP, limiting myself to coffee, a link sausage, and a small onion ring.

A good night in all, though we didn't climb into bed 'til a bit after 3.

Geek Nostalgia of the Moment
The "Adventurers of Alfredo" where these odd little stick figure animations that came with Big Blue Disk in the 1980s... (Big Blue Disk was one of those "magazines on disk" where every month or so you would get some games, applications, etc... it's also where the programmers who went on to make Castle Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM got their start.)

I've been musing on Alfredo for a long time. In the 90s, I thought it would be cool to port or at least pay homage to the adventurers on the black and white Palm Pilot, but I of course never got around to it, partially because I only had a vague memory of what the adventures were.

But no more! Devi Ever has retrieved 10 of the 13 episodes and ripped them to a convenient (well, for many) Windows format, so now you can enjoy The Adventures of Alfredo on your own desktop.

I admit in some ways they haven't aged all that well, and not just from a graphics standpoint. It's pretty juvenile in parts, but still fun in a minimalist sort of way. If you're just going to check out one, I'd say Episode 9, "Alfredo's Nuclear Nuisance" is as good as any. The later ones added some welcome complexity.

Alfredo is kind of hapless video game character minus the video game, getting blown up or demolished in about every episode. Actually it seems like he might have been the inspiration to the later trend of Stick Figure Death Theater (which unfortunately has gone beyond its roots as charmingly simple animated GIFs into full multimedia Flash productions.)

In a fit of wanting to support random bits of geek nostalgia, as well as "more Indy Geek than thou", I bought one of the cafepress shirts. I even bought one for my Uncle Bill, because at my request he dumped a whole bunch of his collection of Big Blue Disk onto CD-ROM, but I never made enough time to do much with the episodes that were contained in there.

Apology of the Moment
Sorry for all the long-windedness about topics of such special interest! Or is that part of the charm of my site?

love is a growing up

July 23, 2005
Quote of the Moment
Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.
James A. Baldwin, thanks Candi

Tool of the Moment
For people using AOL Instant Messenger (I'm "kirkjerk" on it), AOLfight is a way for you to rate your popularity against your buddies...or one buddy against another.

Kind of fun, though seems to me a slight privacy violation. Plus, though it seems they've got a good handle on AIM-spam (3 or 4 years ago it was getting pretty ugly) I wonder if telling a spammer which accounts are "popular" and which ones are dead accounts isn't counterproductive.

i'm like dudley moore in "arthur", but without all the money. or the alcoholism. or liza minnelli.

(1 comment)
July 23, 2004
Line of the Moment
Maybe this is just the booze talking, but *'hic!'*
Me to R., former flame, now Red Sox buddy.
After the game we watched a Tivo'd episode of South Park...unfortunately I built up the Giant Stone Abraham Lincoln line a bit too much, but still she was amused by my amusement when it finally arrived.

Web Comic of the Moment
PartiallyClips is a pretty good comic as well...all based on clipart. Bill liked this one--and who doesn't like kittens and puppies?

Article of the Moment
Slate on Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror. It's astounding how our culture--starting at the top with our political leaders--completely oversimplifies our enemies. But of course, even a liberal politician can't try to express a more nuanced opinion because he or she would be accused of cuddling up with the people who want to see us hurt badly. I think the most interesting, though maybe not most important from a policy standpont, idea in the article is that Moslem countries don't grok seperation of church and state (not that our President is that hot at maintaining the divide either) so they assume any rightwing christian crap from a religous bigwig carries huge weight here: "So every time Falwell inveighs against the 'terrorist' Prophet, the hate might as well be coming directly from George W. Bush."

the noive of some people

July 23, 2003
Dang, so (according to the sidebar) Dylan's in Hawaii, and he didn't even tell me beforehand. Gee, whatsamattah, San Diego's brand of endless weather perfection get a little boring, so you needed to throw in a little endless weather perfection plus volcanos? I hope you choke on a pineapple, pal! (I kid, I kid.)

Gripe Site of the Moment
One of the oddest gripe sites I've seen, it's the Truck Driver's Gear Change Hall of Shame According to site's FAQ, it's when a song has a big gratuitous modulation/key change, usually near the end of the song to give a cheap and tawdry "lift". (Nothing to do with actual trucks.) The muso's introduction, focused on the Beatles' use of the trick, is worth reading too. I can see the technique being annoying to a hardcore music aficionado, though I am surprised it's bad enough to be worth dedicating a whole site (with plenty of soundclips!) to it.

Game of the Moment
Wonderful little fighting game of the fonts: Helvetica vs. Arial. Very tricky until you get the hang of Helvetica's aeriel attacks (vs Arial's mad dashes), and nicely done overall.

Quote of the Moment
How about this for a headline in tomorrow's paper: 'French Fries!'
Convict James French, seated in the electric chair.

Politics of the Moment
You gotta love this white house:
"George Tenet, fall on this grenade!"
"Good man. We have great confidence in him, despite not telling us that he thought the yellowcake thing was BS."
"Do I take responsibility for that line in the speech? I certainly do take responsibility for deciding to go to war."
(Sound of memos from the CIA from October pointing out how suspect this claim was being discovered)
"D'ohh! Stephen Hadley, fall on this grenade!"
"Good man. We have great confidence in him."
Wait a minute, what am I thinking? Like anyone thought GWB actually comes anywhere near writing his own speeches? He can barely read 'em, for crying out loud. (Sorry that this rant wasn't very funny, it's a little funnier in my head.)

only the usa could invent coca-cola, or want to

July 23, 2002
Quote of the Moment
Coca-Cola GmbH still functioning. Send auditors.
Telegram to Coca-Cola HQ in Atlanta from German affiliate at the end of WW2, from a Slate piece about the history of Fanta.
Jeez, Coke is robust. A line in a 1985 Bruce Sterling short story I read mentioned that for his future vision of a post-industrial Bernei "the Net is just a megaphone for Coca-Cola".

Link of the Moment
Wired article What Buddhists Know About Science. I've always been really impressed with the respect the Dali Lama gives to science, that if science proved reincarnation wrong, Buddhists would have to rethink their view...a far cry from the Christian Fundamentalist viewpoint about evolution! And it does make me wonder if Western science is to quick to reject what it doesn't have simple explanations for...the trouble is with subjective stuff like the brain, it's tough to make good statistical measures, or gather objective data at all.

And the idea that happiness is something that you work at...maybe I should go back and try to get through that "Art of Happiness" book.


July 23, 2001
So I've been digging through the Memepool By-Subject Archive for links, grabbing some for future use here. One link that I didn't record, but stuck in my head, is this one for some really innovative watches. They also have screensavers with shock wave demos. The idea of playing with the visual representation of time, but still staying in the framework of traditional clockfaces, is really sticking in my head.

Quote of the Moment
In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.
Carl Sagan.
I link to think that I'm better than most at not sticking to my old thoughts when somebody makes a really convincing argument. That might even be true, I can be awfully wishy-washy. When I was in sQ at Tufts, around audition time I got the nickname "C'mon, guys, she wasn't that bad... was she?" (Probably about the longest nickname I've been saddled with.)

Went to see Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut" with Mo last night. Very finely crafted, a neat mix of "real life" detail with the fantastic, but ultimately overly scared of sex.

There was one scene where a minor character is dealing with the loss of her ailing father, who died while under home care. It reminded me of how I snuck out without saying good morning or good bye to my dad the day he died.  Mom says that he probably wasn't able to concentrate on anything but staying alive at that point.  Still, it seems like a surpreme act of "can't ever take it back" cowardice.

Given my recent "novelty seeking behavior" revelation, I was surprised I wasn't more on the side of Tom Cruise's character in the movie, who cheats his way into a bizarre ritualistic orgy.  There's another side of my novelty seeking behavior, something about the importance of pushing boundaries, not breaking them.
(S'funny how I'll write and write here for intense periods, and then nothing for a matter of days.)

Let me walk you through this: If there were such things as angels, which there are not, and if there were such a thing as God, which there is not, God and his heavenly host would have more important things to do than stand at the foot of your bed and watch you get fucked in the ass. Angels, despite the pop-culture moment they're currently enjoying, do not exist.
          --Dan Savage
"You're unnatturally mean spirited today, Kirk"
          "Me? Are you serious?"
"Well, in a friendly kind of way I guess."
          --John Lammers + Kirk Israel