August 8, 2022

But I understand what Darius is going through, I understand what that brother is going through in the sense of "revenge", you know?

"Anything to feel good."

And a lot of us the only way we know to feel good is to get revenge on somebody else. And I'm here to tell you... it DO feel good.

Oh my god, revenge feel good. I ain't saying it's full of NUTRIENTS... it ain't gonna help you in the long run, but in the short run it feels GOOD to get a little revenge on somebody sometimes.

'Cause revenge.. that's an impulse we learn at an EARLY age. We learn revenge early. It's not taught, it's something that's just in us because you see someone who got away with something, and they ain't got their thump behind their ear yet, and you got to make the world right.
Roy Wood Jr, Imperfect Messenger "Anything to Feel Good" is a theme of his special... (he compares it to getting your crab leg, that one moment of pleasure after working through all the hard stuff.)
This jumped out to me, I've been trying to better express my idea of morality as an emergent property, not one that needs to be set by a divine, out-of-the-system supernatural agent...

great weekend in vermont with friends

August 8, 2021

August 8, 2020

'God is dead, God is dead' ...Perdition! When God dies, you'll know it.
Confessions of St. Argentine, via Greg Bear's Petra

He was short, stout, with huge hairy arms like the clamps of a vise. He had once killed a spouter with a single squeeze of his fist, and spouters are tough things, since they have no guts like you (I suppose) and I. The hair surrounding his bald pate was white, thick, and unruly, and his eyebrows leaned over his nose with marvelous flexibility. He rutted like a pig, ate hugely, and shat liquidly (I know all). A man for this time, if ever there was one.
"Petra" was my favorite story from Bruce Sterling's "Mirrorshades" anthology of cyberpunk... and the most idiosyncratic and least mirrorshades-y - projecting a future where faith is what underlies the fabric of reality, and where the Death of God isn't just a philosopher's pontification, but a universe-shaking event where only pockets of belief (like around a cathedral) keep things together.

(I think also of the old New Yorker lede "The death of God left the angels in a strange position")
I'd rather be a hypocrite than the same person forever.
Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz of the Beastie Boys, being called out on the anti-sexism message of "Song for the Man" vs the chauvinism of their early work.
That's a challenging statement for someone like me, who doesn't have much of an intuitive belief personal growth.

Watching "The Beastie Boys Story", Ad-Rock and Mike D on stage talking about the band's progression. You know, it's weird that I've liked their stuff for like 32 years and never noticed that two of them were named "Adam".

August 8, 2019

I don't believe in God - actually, I KNOW that God doesn't exist - and I still believe in him. [...] God as a religion is just poetry. So I'm using certain metaphors which are very helpful due to my cognition, I'm using them to communicate with you, with my children, and I say 'yeah, God will punish you if you talk like that.' Why not?
Which means... to be more scientific about it: most of our reasoning works around metaphors. Similarities. And the deepest metaphor that we have are the metaphors of family relations. We are born to a mother and father, our perception system is so attuned to whether our mother frowns, or smiles - it's the first thing that we learn.
You grow up, and you find out that the world is not only mother and father, it has stars, and it has other things - so you create a metaphor. Because I understand "mother" and "father". I don't understand this movement of the stars, so I will immediately come out with the conclusion that there is some force like my father that moves the stars around, and like my father, teaches me things, and punishes me things. And sometimes it's very natural, to say that's the basics of our cognition. So I do not fight it - I use it. But I remember that it's only poetry.

me, lightly touching miette with the side of my foot: miette move out of the way please so I don't trip on you

miette, her eyes enormous: you KICK miette? you kick her body like the football? oh! oh! jail for mother! jail for mother for One Thousand Years!!!!
Man, I have such a hard time with confabulated reality. Like I have to pause a second and remember, oh but cats can't actually condemn people to prison for a millennium.
I'm not sure how many cookies it takes to be happy, but so far it's not twenty seven.

Talking about how doctors still use Pagers (I wonder if anyone has invented a smartphone case that can receive pages, since it's a different, more reliable network) - shout out to Al Gross. He never seemed to be resentful that his stuff - the walkie-talkie, the CB-radio, the pager - never made him rich before his patents would expire - he said they "permeated our society, and I'm delighted."
Interesting hearing about the French vs Québécois translations of the Simpsons

aw, jeez

August 8, 2018
"Aw, jeez, I think I knocked some broad up, back in the '80s!"
For some reason this line is the automatic filler when either Melissa or I start a sentence "aw jeez". I think the charm is the way the phrase "knocked up" is idiosyncratically split, or maybe just the charm of the '80s.

Origin of some sports metaphors. Neat stuff!

the two levels of fact and of meaning

August 8, 2017
Amazing Atlantic Piece, How America Lost Its Mind.

I've always liked postmodern-style of thinking, but now I'm wondering how damaging it may have been.

Here's the problem: there are two levels of knowing. There's objective facts - not perfectly knowable, but close enough for many, many purposes. This is the lower level where science lives. Then there's the interpretation of those facts, and the search for meaning. That's where philosophy and religion lives, on top of that. That's where "should" and "purpose" come from and where we have to construct our moral discernment.

These two layers have been squashed together. In America, I blame fundamentalism. For a while, during the times of the Enlightenment, after the Scientific Revolution, Christian belief hitched its wagon to scientific finding. Those two layers seemed compatible. But as the base level started to pull away from simplistic, literal readings of the holy texts on the layer above it, fundamentalism doubled down, and started letting the upper level of meaning leach down and bleach out the level of simple facts. Or I guess we could say: before that time, the layer of facts was relatively flatter - there was less proof of it, fewer spikes, less ways where the obscure science facts mattered in day to day life. But it got spikier, and rather than moving on up, fundamentalist belief keeps trying to wash the spikes out. Hence, museums with Noah hanging out with dinosaurs and crap like that.

I feel - and I may be misleading myself - I'm better than average at separating those levels. Or maybe I just emphasize the lower level too much. The weird side effect is I'm kind of less judge-y than most people I know (except on epistemological matters, i.e. the study of those two levels, where I can be either judge-y or condescending as hell). But when it comes to things of life style? I really don't judge, except final results. If it's "working for you", great! I only have the right to judge whatever you want once I have empirical evidence that yeah, you've made choices that have led to results that could objectively be read as suboptimal by most reasonable interpretations. (I do feel I have a very strong submission to that lower level of basic facts, to the extent that I will rarely state even the evidence of my own sense without a protective "I think..." or "it seems like..." It's partially a form of egoism - heaven or something forfend I ever be subject to being wrong! )

I do think if people made a clearer divide between those two levels, the world would be a better place. "FAKE NEWS" should be even more of a thing than it is.
The biggest problem of fundamentalism is that it says "our simplified model of the universe is sufficient, and if you have any further questions you should dig deeper into the model". At least science (which might not be free of its own type of fundies, but still) encourages people to look out in the objective world to make the model better.
"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 (circa 1997)
A rather thorough look into what's wrong with "Ready Player One". As always if you want a great sci-fi read with a tinge of 80s/90s era videogamery (in the most alien way possible) try Constellation Games by Leonard Richardson
Hubris (n) 1.excessive pride or self-confidence. 2. (in Greek tragedy) excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis.

second best photos of 2012

August 8, 2016
Hope it doesn't undercut the idea of picking "the dozen best for each year" by including these.

Open Photo Gallery

Project photo! Over the years, "cheap, funky watches" were my go to gift for my mom, being about the only jewelry-like little bit of fun she was allowed to get away with when in uniform. This year I went all out and got her a dozen, to be opened one per month. Each month got its own icon reflecting the season or the watchface or both.

<geektime>This book on Java EJBs is actually a callback to, like, 2002. "EJB encourages collaboration of more than six different parties." It's almost unclear if they're talking people or components, but I think people... anyway, the first generation of EJB was where I first encountered a technology that was achieving huge popularity despite what to me was clear and egregious over-engineering, high complexity, and poor transparency. Anyway, like I said in 2001-- EJB - the technology to allow you to scale your application across many servers... and the performance to make sure that you'll need to"</geektime>

Still too fond of shadows, they're kind of a fallback for "One Second Everyday" B-roll footage.

Google Image search tells me this is the Old Patent Office Building (from my DC trip.)

Old Abe from the Lincoln Memorial. I was holding the camera up so the shot was a bit less "up the nostrils" than usual.

JZ and I went to a DC United soccer match. I lost my sunglasses at the tailgating.

EBB2 + EBB1 on the Harbor Islands.

Smokey, my Uncle Bill's loyal companion.

MELAS at the shore.

My Sousaphone, "Beauty". I like how she seems to be plaintively looking out the window here. (As if she's looking for a band to be in, which will happen next year.)

Arlington had a crazy "microburst" in the evening... trees were uprooted everywhere. I think I had been on the subway at the time, walking through the aftermath was surreal enough, not sure what it would have been like to have been there in person!

Kjersten and Raia.

Olympic Logos discussed and rated...

Propublica on the white underclass. Reading about J.D. Vance's bio makes me think a bit about my upbringing; a lot of privilege, despite money being tight, but then some inheritance and insurance money that had the silver lining of making college available without crushing debt. Sometimes closer exposure to some of this 'underclass' because of my parents' roles in The Salvation Army, probably the transition to college was a bigger demographic shift than I noticed.

August 8, 2015

"There are no happy endings because nothing ends."
--Shmendrick the Magician

August 8, 2014

So cool, really points out how important sound design is!


August 8, 2013

life is full of illusions actually

August 8, 2012
Come to think of it, our brains in normal life provide many illusions "optical" and otherwise...

Similarly, I have this wooden puzzle at the office:
That folds into a 3x3 cube (but is devilishly difficult to fold correctly) but looks like it's much much bigger than that, I think.
"Sometimes, R2D2 just has to turn a screw. Sometimes Kenobi has to die to disable the tractor beam. Be patient with me."
-- love the ideas behind this tiny box living space. wait, those Easter Island heads have bodies extending into the earth? Wikipedia seems to confirm...

final cleveland photos...

August 8, 2011

aagh! spidercows!

August 8, 2010

august blender of love is here!

Lesson learned with HDMI plugs and cables.... seems like it's sometimes not so "hot swappable", so try powercycling before you go nuts...
For very good & for very bad, success seems to come from an abundance of nerve.

if wet, in the library

August 8, 2009
Death seemed to be having a bit of a swim in my memepool yesterday. Besides John Hughes untimely demise, there was a deeply moving and thoughtful piece by Terry Pratchett, brilliant author and Alzheimer's... I don't know the word. Not victim, not yet. Not patient. Sufferer? Anyway: he has it, it's going to get worse, and he wants the option to, like Holmes, willfully jump off the edge locked in mortal combat with his Nemesis, rather just lay, and wait, and wait, and wait, becoming less and less of the person everyone who loved him loved. As he puts it:
I am enjoying my life to the full, and hope to continue for quite some time. But I also intend, before the endgame looms, to die sitting in a chair in my own garden with a glass of brandy in my hand and Thomas Tallis on the iPod - the latter because Thomas's music could lift even an atheist a little bit closer to Heaven - and perhaps a second brandy if there is time.

Oh, and since this is England I had better add: 'If wet, in the library.'
According to the article, there is a legal judgement pending in England on Debbie Purdy, an MS victim who wants to travel to a clinic in Switzerland and end her life on her terms, and her husband, on if he will be subject to persecution for assisting her.

(So apparently the movement is missing a good word for what it advocates. Apparently "euthanasia" has taken on a tone of "involuntary"; "physician-assisted suicide" has a rather ugly taint about it as well. Pratchett likes "mercy killing".)

So I read this shortly after reading slacktivist railing against the right setting up straw demons to be knocked down. He quotes the Christian Worldview Network
Please e-mail this program to EVERYONE you know! Topic: Ron Meyers interviews Brannon Howse on Obama's national healthcare that will euthanize America's seniors and the disabled through the rationing of healthcare, make someone's intrinsic value based on the State's definition of whether or not they are productive human resource, require doctors to break their Hippocratic Oath in order to be able to make a living and continue practicing medicine, force seniors on Medicare to go through "end of life counseling" every five years so they can be brainwashed into the liberal's "duty to die" propaganda ...
And this is what the right claims national healthcare would be about.

I think it does harken back to old issues of "why do we live?" I think everyone needs to work out their answer for this. For a certain fundamentalist outlook, the answer is simple: because God says human life is sacred... (and to be on the safe side, we should adopt as wide-ranging a view of "human life" as possible, which informs their stance on abortion.) (Does John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends", add any nuance to the ironclad rule?)

Beyond the religious aspect, we live because of the old animal dread of not living. Nothing gets the guts riled up like the sudden fear of death, and that goes way below the intellectual and maybe even spiritual intellectual levels I'm going on about here.

My current favorite intellectual reason for living is that life is interesting... like the Alice Walker quote from quotes about mortality page:
"Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it."
Or maybe Annie Dilliard puts it a bit more romantically:
"We are here to abet creation and to witness to it, to notice each other's beautiful face and complex nature so that creation need not play to an empty house."
(Incidentally, just to reassure people, it's not like having to think of reasons not to commit suicide is an issue for me! I have no instinct that way, at all... this is just me abstractly pondering the classic issue of existentialism. I mean hell, one easy argument is enjoying my loved ones (friends, family, Amber...) a lot and wanting to maximize my time with them. From a more intellectual point of view, it's not good if a person considering taking their own life for whatever reasons doesn't at least consider the horrific impact that even has on the people they leave behind...)

But I've gotten offtopic. "Right to Die" is a complex issue, especially in cases where the person can't express their wishes, or there's some kind of tiny chance of recovery -- but I think when a clear-eyed preference is stated (but again with a caveat: "and the person doesn't seem to be despondent or depressed to an unwarranted degree") -- those wishes should be respected.

Here is some of the Thomas Tallis Pratchett mentions...

That is Beautiful. - see, Bush knew we HAD to go to Iraq to stop Gog and Magog - JEEZ! - funny rap analysis, unfair sometimes. My favorite so far. The "file under" postscript for each really makes it work; there's some valuable comedy lesson there about that kind of stinger/echo.
An object lesson in my office landline phone: I generally keep it muted, but if it gets unplugged, it rings for calls again. It takes more energy to be silent sometimes.
The Soviet cosmonaut Georgy Grechko, while in orbit during the Soyuz-17 flight, relaxed by reading the Strugatskys, making theirs the first science-fiction novels to be read in space. - this is the only level, interesting study in game mechanics. Hated the meta stuff.

For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.
Carl Sagan,
This months quote for the new Digest
"Whatever Works" - pretty good, actually. Larry David's Woody impression was solid and I always dig that existential stuff. Plus, funny.

octally yours

August 8, 2008
8/8/8! I guess we get four more of these fun dates.

Video of the Moment

--Clips video from the Jersey Shore, Ryan and Alex, followup to the previous set of still photos.

Never had a paper route, but tossing the daily Globe up a flight, I admire its aerodynmics... well-balanced, light w/o being fluttery.

the sound of two moose antlers waving

August 8, 2007
There's one anecdote I'll always keep with me... (in part because I noted it in my Palm journal) I was commuting on Memorial Drive one Tuesday morning in 1999, not far from that weird rotary at the end of the BU bridge, and was furious, letting myself get all road-ragey over the halted conditions. (In some ways I find it cathartic to let loose during that kind of situation, try to burn out all the irritations and frustrations of the day, but there's some real anger at the scene there as well.)

Anyway, I was ranting and raving over this Asian guy who had snuck in to the lane by tailgating the car in front of him -- in clear violation of the "alternate feeding" guidelines! -- that I thought were key to letting us all get through this mess.

So he looked at me in his rear view mirror, placed his hands on either side of his head, stuck out his tongue and waggled moose antlers.

I was completely disarmed. It was a perfect wordless Zen Koan, a reminder of just how seriously I should take the world and my current place in it.

Object of the Moment

In Rockport, Evil B and I thought maybe we had found the world's biggest bottle-opener. Lots of leverage with that thing!

Turns out it's more like a cane, with a metal top that unscrews and reattaches to become a bicycle-seat like top for a monopod stool... clever!

(Nice forearm, EB.)

Game of the Moment
Probably cooler in concept than execution, Design Your Own Deathstar.


August 8, 2006
I'm on the road this morning, so I'm prepublishing this...

There's no question that everyone would like to be rich, but I think that most people aren't willing or are incapable to become the kind of people that seek wealth with the neccesary kind of verve, chutzpah, focus, and callousness. Most of us still are still kind of looking for that "one big break" that's going to put them on easy street. I know I am, but I have no idea what that is. Sometimes I have daydreams of some insanely rich person tapping of some small percentage of their wealth to let me retire NOW, maybe because of some passing interest they have in some project I've done. But of course, that's not the way the world works, and the people who do have that kind of money wouldn't have for it long if they were prone to that kind of indulgence.

(That was response to this LJ post by Nick B)

Art of the Moment

click for fullsize

"August", by Timna Woollard
from Where The Heart Is.

what not to say

(1 comment)
August 8, 2005
Quote of the Moment
I want to do things to you that will put you in counseling for years.
New Idea for a Pickup Line to Never Never Never Use

Culture Report of the Moment
My friend Josh lives in Japan with his Japanese wife and writes:
The Japanese Postal System is different than the US one. The Japanese system also serves as a bank. So, it handles letters and packages in addition to providing savings, loans, insurance, and billpaying. Bascially, if one chooses to, almost all of a person's household financial management needs can be accomplished at one locale.This is very convenient. ATMs handle a variety of transactions, or we can go to a teller window.

There are no fees for any of the services.

Furthermore, these savings accounts pay the highest savings interest rate in Japan. Thus, many people have such accounts.

But, this system drains money from the government. Actually, the government loses billions of dollars (yen) each year because it subsidizes so many services and pays an excellent interest rate.

So, so politicians, including the Prime Minister want to privatize the system. As can be imagined there is strong opposition to privatization. Equally, there are many proponents to privatize and the parliment is going to hold a vote soon. The Diet will decide and the people will have to go along with their decision.

A lot of political infighting is ongoing and even within the Liberal Democratic Party (the strongest group since the war ended 60 years ago). One politician was caught between factions and was being pressured to choose nationalization or privatization.

Unfortunately, this 40-something politician, was depressed and could not handle the pressure put onto him by his colleagues. Rather than choose between competing colleagues, he did what has historically been an acceptable solution to his dilemna, he commited suicide.

Over the Postal System.

Sometimes Japan seems really foreign to me.
He sent this last week, this morning the BBC was reporting that the Japanese PM dissolved the Parliament and called for new elections that would become a referendum on this issue.

The BBC talked with a Japanese financial expert. I guess they think that a total privatization would be good for the economy there. At first I thought it would be bad for a person who was using it for its savings, but then again, Japan seems to be "savings happy" relative to the USA. (Then again, a rockstar on a drunken, heroin-laden spending spree can seem "savings happy" relative to the USA.)

UPDATE: Slate on the Japanese Postal Savings System.


August 8, 2004
Article of the Moment
Bill pointed out this smart and funny article on the Monkeysphere, how our monkey brains are probably only equipped to really deal with 150 or so other primates, and therefore everyone else we have to cope with become kind of 2D semi-people, they aren't really real to us... (BTW, I really like drawing monkeys.)

Quote of the Moment
Friendship's more lasting than love...and more legal than stalking
Jane, BBC's "Coupling".

Rambles of the Moment
I've been noticing lately...we must have a HUGE part of our subconscious brain dedicated to judging how old somebody is. Like, take this image, clipped from the cover of the recent ramake of "Freaky Friday":
What makes it "funny" is that Jamie Lee Curtis is dressed stereotypically young, and Lindsay Lohan is dressed "middle age", but it's still really obvious to our monkey-brains that Lohan is much younger than Curtis...even in this not-very-high-resolution photo. I know there's decent evolutionary reasons for that, and could probably start to pin down what visual cues I'm using to place someone age-wise, but still, it seems like a tremendously complicated process, something it would probably be tough to teach a computer to do. (Unless there's some shortcut I'm missing, like the way ears and noses keep having some amount of growth or whatever, so it's more of a ratio thing...)

up against the wall

August 8, 2003
Random Image of the Moment
Ranjit mentioned the site of Brave Combo, amusingly at This image was on their FAQ, though not really explained combo founder Finch from David Lynch Byrne's flick "True Stories" (thanks to Harry, who pointed out the info was there but got the filmmaker wrong...)

Transcript of the Moment
F/O: Can you see there are some hills in front?
CAPT: What? There's what?
F/O: Some hills, isn't there?
[Sound of impact]
Last transmission of VASP Flight 168 near Sierra de Pacatuba, Brazil
Via this rather spooky page of the last words from doomed flights (includes some recordings). One really plaintive one was a Flight Officer whose last words were "Amy, I love you"

Schadenfreude of the Moment
Oh, cry me a river Darrell Issa..."Boo hoo, boo hoo, I only created this circus 'cause I wanted to be governor, but now this big bad bully actor is going to come and take it out from under me, boo hoo, boo hoo. I quit!"

What a punk.

the so-so gatsby

August 8, 2002
So yesterday I felt compelled to buy "The Great Gatsby" after following a link to this theory on the title character's origins. The book was about the only assigned reading in high school English that I didn't get through. Even now, there's something about the prose style that I find very hard to digest...I'm amazed the book was as popular and influential as it was. Not helping is knowledge of this other theory that Gatsby is black, passing as white. Especially given all the African-American literature I read in college (best way to get credit for both the English half of my double major as well as "World Culture"), it's going to be hard to read the book without constantly hunting for evidence for this admittedly fringe theory.

Pop Culture of the Moment
"Flying Missles Atomic Bombs and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ"...Best title of any album. Ever.
The entire site has many interesting artifacts, and is working on adding downloadable MP3s for many of them.

Quote of the Moment
...not appreciating the weirdness of life is a punishment of its own.
Rachel Ellen Sherman
...fits in pretty well with the previous link (via Zach Blocker)

too darn hot

August 8, 2001
Ok, it's really hot. I grant you that. It's too hot. Dangerously hot for some people. But what the hell is it with us and heat indices? C'mon, we can't say it's "95 degrees and humid", we need to pretend it can be mapped to a number? It's like windchill. We all feel much more macho when the windchills way down there "Sure it was thirty degrees, but with the windchill factor, it was like 10 or something!". These numbers aren't as reliable as people assume anyway, based on unreliable assumptions about heating and cooling.

Your New Best Friend
Read about this in a Wall Street Journal Marketplace someone left in the company kitchen... if you run AOL Instant Messenger, try chatting with SmarterChild, a news-stocks-weather-games-etc chatbot. It's an interesting concept in UI. Ranjit mentioned that the now defunct was thinking about having an alternate frontpage chatbot interface, but the company tanked before he had to implement it.

Online chat is kind of cool, a great testing ground for AI and the Turing Test, since 1. Typing speed and the like can't be a give away and 2. It's awash in semi-literate goofballs anyway.

Salon Story of the Moment
Man, why can't I get Spam that's this well written?

from the T-shirt Archive: #13 of a Series
"Disfunctional by Choice". Grimm from Mother Goose & Grimm Oh jeez. Always strongly disliked this shirt, part of my general disregard for the general sentiment of "Hey look at me! I'm wacky!" My mom got it for me before she got handle on what kind of T-shirts I liked and disliked. (In general, I don't like well-known cartoon character shirts, though Bill the Cat was my first post-surfing-t-shirt I had.)

note to self: when going on uptempo summer walk, wear boxers other than the hot flannel-y ones. Sheesh!
the claims you've made on love-
i think it must be sin.
(as if the deepest
part of me
was found six inches in!)
I find my love fishing
His feet in the shallows.

We have breakfast together,
And drink beer.

I offer him the magic of my thighs
He is caught in the spell.
          --Egyptian, from 1500-1000BC, translated by Ezra Pound and Noel Stock
On my way to NYC via bus.  The pilot's even more of a faithful companion than my car.  Is it odd to consider objects companions?  Not according to Tom Robbins (and you know what it's worth)

does reading cause bad vision?  Sounds like a conspiracy theory- the intelligensia concealing this from their progeny...or maybe it's only the readers who really notice and get glasses- could part of the problem child problem be undiagnosed bad vision?

Still on the damn bus driving through left lane closed land.  Just finished "pinko-gray" glad I stuck it out but now I am so hungry for european travel I could scream.  Reading about businesses in Kenya made me think of the Andrade store in Portugal and it seemed odd to know that was a time with no R just V.