October 17, 2020

October 17, 2019

Slate continues a really excellent series on computer programming, Hello, "Hello, World", about the glory of that little program and the hubris programming can generate...
Interesting piece on the oddball time signature of The main song from the movie Terminator... basically it's topsy turvy because of difficulty setting up loopers (I often wonder about that, people who use realtime looping devices, how they get a clean even looping.)
"Hey, you know, I've been thinking," Toby said. "You know that I'm dying, right?"
Toby had never said anything like that before. Nothing so big. So definite. I felt numb. Like cold, hard concrete had been poured into all the little spaces in my head where I'd been hiding maybes.
"I guess."
"Do you see what that means?"
"I think so." "
Tell me."
"It means you won't be here much longer."
Toby nodded. "Yes, there's that, but, also, do you see? It means I can do whatever I want. We can do anything we want."
Carol Rifka Brunt, "Tell The Wolves I'm Home"

original photo album part 7: 3 years in college

October 17, 2018
And then, college. Technically my home address was New York City - some of those shots with the towers are a bit poignant.
Funny how the aging milestone might shifting from transition lens / bifocals to "cranking up the font size on my phone"

October 17, 2017

88 lines about 99 luftballoons

October 17, 2016

Dream Thought: With great power comes great responsibility, but considering my main power is flaring my nostrils at will vs inhaling them closed...
[face pressed against the glass case in the butcher shop] This is a bad zoo

After the Titanic sank, rich people got their revenge by spending the last hundred years melting all the icebergs.

In Search of Basho is an intriguing webcomic- sort of Maus meets A Softer World -- they just posted a guest post they asked me to write for them:

In 2000 I had some terrible anxiety about the prospect of dying. I did a lot of thinking, talking with people, and reading, and I came up with some ideas that I found helpful and soothing and consoling – so much so that I haven’t had a recurrence of those sleepless nights since.

I put those thoughts in the form of little essays on a website. More recently I put those essays in the form of a comic (you can see the rough original version at http://mortals.be/comic/ or the result after I hired a real artist to draw it at http://soyouregoingtodie.com).

I put these ideas in comic form in the hope of reaching people who have similar fears.

Now, I have a new idea, and I’m planning a new comic.

But I’ll tell you that idea now. Its formulation comes from Nietzsche, of all people, and he calls it amor fati, the instruction to “Love Your Fate”. He wrote:

My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it—all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary—but love it.

But why should we love fate? I mean, sometimes our situation kind of stinks, doesn’t it?

Is it searching for silver linings to whatever dark clouds? That’s part of it. There’s almost always something wonderful to be found in any circumstance we find ourselves in. If nothing else, we have the rare privilege of being “sitting-up mud”, the small bit of matter in the Universe that gets to bear witness, to be part of the process of the Universe figuring itself out.

Is it because we might as well choose to be happy, at least as much as we are able to make that as a choice? Sure; feelings of love can increase our happiness, and so the more we can get there, the more content we can be.

But more than those, I think we should love THIS fate because it is THE fate. The Circumstance. There is no other. Our monkey brains will make us miserable thinking of alternate realities; maybe worlds just like this one but THIS STUPID TRAFFIC IS MOVING!!! Or one like this one but where we didn’t just slam our toe into the bedpost. Or one where the beloved didn’t get away, or where our job pays 50% more and has half as much work. 

All of these worlds, these fates, these circumstances, these timelines, can be interesting to think about, and maybe even inform our present choices as we look to our future creature comforts but… they don’t exist. Our past is fixed; we are here, and it is now. If we can love this moment, we will be better people. It is one of the best philosophical practices I can think of.

Tomorrow I’ll be adding a rough paraphrase of this philosophy (loosely translating “AMOR FATI” as “THIS FATE” - I feel more true to myself sticking with the one language I know) to the one small tattoo I already have. I want this message to be part of my bodily self.

the pitch

October 17, 2015
The Pitch @ MICE: "Cures crippling existential dread or your money back!" And I mean it.

(PS, many thanks to Liz for hauling me over and helping me set up stuff, and then even running back to the house to grab by business cards, which by chance had a sample of art from a prior draft of the book)

October 17, 2014

I am trying to figure out the level of irony in reading an ebook on mindfulness while walking to the T station
1. All jokes aside, I think there's 2 different kinds of mindfulness: being in the moment, and aware of ones surroundings, and taking more things in, vs focused intellectual activity, such as reading. And I don't think it's a terrible loss to let my mindless mind handle the walking as my mindful mind takes in a good book, my mindless mind has had lots of practice. (I remember walking the halls of 6th grade with a book in hand; as well as having a problem where teachers couldn't get my attention if I was deeply into a book, though for better or worse I don't lose myself with that level of focus very often these days.)
2. I do find a correlation with mindfulness and the art and practice of programming, at least if you're doing the latter properly
3. If I could foster half the focus on my surroundings at any given moment as I do on, say, an attractive person showing a chevron of belly below a short shirt after a long winter and spring, well, I would be doing pretty darn well.

I used that last meme on my new Devlog Entry on frameworks. I need to make sure possible future employers know that I'm not a curmudgeon about following the patterns they like.

October 17, 2013

Such a clever parody of the genre! And with so much of its own original material that it really works.

October 17, 2012

"All scientific truths are small."
--Nicholson Baker
"What is morality but high intelligence?"
--Henry James
Awesome lightning strike in slowmo by Tom A. Warner, via this xkcd what-if
'Any faith is good, so long as you have faith' is the most insane thing I've ever heard.

Not sure which is more tedious, all the tweets about the mini-earthquake or all the live tweeting about the debate. (I didn't watch much of the debate, for similar reasons why I don't watch my favorite sports teams much.)

Making the rounds: http://www.romneytaxplan.com/ is a clever browser joke. Also, riffing on Romney's "binders full of women".
I always have dessert gums to share at work. Coworker chips in with "thanksgiving dinner" gumballs. Pumpkin pie is ok, but Turkey? Gumballs should not have the flavor "greasy".


October 17, 2011

Today's links about Apple going crazy with the skeumorphism reminded me of this image, making the rounds... (here's another link I posted last year about how this is a path Apple has been pursuing for a while.

I'd like to hear the other side of why Apple is doing this. I imagine they have a reason beyond "we think it looks cool" -- some data suggestion people respond to the coziness of it or some such...
It took me three and a half decades to notice that the visible part of a daytime moon points toward the sun.
I enjoyed this rant about Apple's weird "Wild West" theme Skeumorphic UI.
http://www.noahread.net/blog/writing/ixda-bauhaus/ -- heh "IxDA Bauhaus" as another name for the anti-skeumorphic, KISS school of design (chanpioned by Micorosoft of all places...)
Wow. Southern Republicans are crazy in letting their ideology run the asylum. Screw facts, we have political belief!

birthday in rockport

October 17, 2010


October 17, 2009
JZ sent me a link to this:

Not bad! Better music than this one I remember from back in the day, but I still prefer the visuals of the classic: "Music with Windows Sounds", how it looks like it's using the old SoundReorder program...

Trees are the Earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.
Rabindranath Tagore

rally, cry?

October 17, 2008
Both Wall Street and the Red Sox had huuuge come-from-behind rallies yesterday. COINCIDENCE? Yes, probably. We'll have to see how both things go from here.

Video of the Moment
Boingboing pointed out that this old Batman debate seems vaguely familiar...

Slate's William Saletan had a good piece Safe, Legal, and Boring about Obama taking a technocratic-ish approach to the issue:
Obama's doing quite nicely in this environment. He's steady, practical, poised, boring. He's a technician. So Schieffer pops a question about abortion, probably hoping to start a fight. McCain does his part. What does Obama do? He technifies it.

Will a technical approach to abortion satisfy the country? The election hardly hangs on that question. But in the long run, the abortion debate itself probably does.
So I'm kind of amazed, on the one hand Obama is known for his inspiring stage presence, and ability to excite people. On the other hand, he's a great analyzer and soother. What a great combination!

As an Extremist Moderate, I feel that the nation needs more exciting moderate views. We've had enough rabble rousing.

Wonder if there'san inverse relation between bars on your cellphone and how immediately screwed you'd be if nukes started flying.
The Dow Jones blues..."been down so long looks like up to me..."

well, here's the thing

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October 17, 2007
So last night walking the dogs after birthday dinner (under a surprisingly rich starlit, moonless sky) Evil B and I got to talking about rotes, (is that the usual term?) those little turns of phrase we tend to fall back on. He was amused to be able to pick out three of mine that I had just used in quick succession: "Dude," a typical prelude, "well, here's the thing," a way of couching what I think is the critical point, and "Maybe I haven't been paying close enough attention to..." which is a way of excusing my difference of opinion I'm talking with, and conceding their possible superior knowledge.

I'm pretty careful when I argue, and tend to leave myself rhetorical escape hatches. Also, my tangential manner of thinking sometimes leaves me verbally setting off down three or four thought paths in rapid succession... this can be frustrating to my listeners, so I try to curb it a bit (which is probably when I start using those "rotes" a bit more.)

The other thing that's been bugging me lately is how a specific word or phrase, once used, has a likelier than average chance to show up again, like how I used the word "succession" in both of the previous paragraphs.

Moral Guidance of the Moment
Look at the moral guidance I offer. On faith: "After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." On gender: "The sooner we accept the basic differences between men and women, the sooner we can stop arguing about it and start having sex." On race: "While skin and race are often synonymous, skin cleansing is good, race cleansing is bad." On the elderly: "They look like lizards."
He's just out to prove an NY Times OpEd ain't such a big deal. (via Bill the Splut--I've been cribbing from him an awful lot as of late.)

Utility of the Moment
PDFCalendar.com offers a nice interface for no-frill calendar printouts, with a decent ("decent" -- there's another overused descriptor of mine) selection of options. I was looking to start a completed task log for work in that kind of format, and finding this site was a boon.


October 17, 2006
300 Million Americans today! We are "the only industrialized nation in the world whose population is rising substantially"...huh! Is that immigration, or breeding?

Doodles of the Moment
More Tablet PC doodles... right now I'm fooling around with a pressure-sensitive pen, letting me get variable width pen strokes. I think this gives me a lot more flexibility, and lets me achieve something closer to my "usual" doodling style. So here I'm messing with different pen widths and the like in "GIMP"...

It probably means something that all these guys are looking off to the right, but I have no idea what.

Quote of the Moment
I finally realize that patriotism is not enough; I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.
Edith Cavell, before being executed by Germans during WWI for helping Allied soldiers escape.

Ads of the Moment
This page of old computer tv spots is making the rounds. I got a say, I strongly disagree with some of the commentary... I think the "Think Different" campaign, or at least the spot they show, was terrible, trying to get the product to ride on as many coattails as possible, the very worst kind of "feel good" advertising, making up for in unmitigated gall what it lacks in creativity. (Compare that with the "IBM Linux" spot 6 years after, which I think does a much better job.) And he says that for his money it's "the single best computer ad ever"...but I think it's much less inspiring and relevant then, say, the "Apple Newton" spot he rips on before that.


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October 17, 2005
Bad Game Idea of the Moment
--I made up this (poor) mockup for this AtariAge thread about "Games you would never play". The scary part is the name and idea is something I came up with in 1997 on r.g.v.c....in 1997.

why god why

October 17, 2004
Theology of the Moment
No answers can be found, and no amount of questioning will bring out those answers. We may continue to ask, but as Brown notes, one thing Wiesel's writing suggests is "that arguments justifying God in the face of evil are not only inadequate, they are diabolical." Any answer cannot come from man, but from God himself. This is what Moshe the Beadle had tried to tell Wiesel when he was a young boy in Sighet, before the terrors of the Holocaust destroyed his life. Moshe said, "Man raises himself toward God by the questions he asks Him...That is the true dialogue. Man questions God and God answers. But we don't understand His answers. We can't understand them. Because they come from the depths of the soul, and they stay there until death. You will find the true answers, Eliezer, only within yourself!" There can be no end to the questioning, even if there are no answers. To expect answers is a mistake, as Wiesel learned from the Wandering Jew, who told him, "When will you understand that you are living and searching in error, because God means movement and not explanation." That is his final discovery. His relationship with God does not depend on answers. We pray to Him. He handles those prayers in His own way. We can agree or disagree with that way. It's all very simple. In one of his prayers in The Six Days of Destruction, Wiesel writes, "We do not demand answers, God. But if this is the last page of the human chronicles, assure us that we had the right to ask." If we ask and accept God's answer, even if He answers in silence, then we will have reached the level of Elie Wiesel's relationship to God.
It was one of the few Google hits for the "God means movement and not explanation" quote which we saw in front of a UU church in Needham the other week, but I thought it was a thought-provoking paragraph.

Photo of the Moment
--One cool part about dating someone from another country is stumbling on some tiny bit of Americana that you didn't realize is unique, but is also quite wonderful...yesterday it was Caramel Apples for Ksenia, not really known in Russia.

--Turns out Ksenia wasn't crazy about that last photo to persuade her to let me keep it there I said I'd put up a better picture of her...I like this one from legal seafoods.


October 17, 2003
Oy, a dark day in Boston. Yankees still suck, though.

I'm just trying to imagine the conversation between manager Grady Little and pitcher Pedro Martinez on the mound in the eighth:

"Pedro, you've pitched 7 great innings. Your pitch count is a pretty big 120, though, and I'm a little worried about this lefty Hideki Matsui who gave you some trouble in game 3. We could put in our own lefty Alan Embree in to face him, but in order to decide I need to ask you one question: are you in fact the reincarnation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, blessed with supernatural powers that should let you go for the full 9 innings tonight?"
"Why, yes...yes, I think I am."
"Well then--carry on!"

Duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhr. At least now I can stop thinking about baseball, it's a really annoying sport to be concerned about.

Quote of the Moment
I'd do Einstein in a minute.
Gina Gershon on the Howard Stern show

Programmer Link of the Moment
Stirring up some controversy a week or two ago, Software Fashion, making fun of some of the "hottest trends", has good points, though it's a bit blustering at times.

we want peace, they prepare for war

October 17, 2002
So some of the Senators who voted for that bill that authorizes military action against Iraq said that they did it following the adage "if you want peace, prepare for war", that by making a strong showing behind the President, Iraq might back down before that action becomes necessary. The trouble is, the guy they've just handed the keys to, it seems to the most casual observer that he wants war...that old saying, questionable at best anyway, could only hope to apply if most of the players actually wanted peace...

It's kind of surreal thinking that there's an excellent good chance that some day our regular schedule broadcasts are going to be interrupted by news of a major strike on US soil, probably a big city, probably radioactive, maybe nuclear. I kind of live in dread of that "oh shit" moment. ('Course, if I didn't have that to dread, I'd find something else. Rob Baum reminded me that in, say, early 2000, when by 2-year-anxiety about Y2K came to nothing, the economy seemed to be running on a cylinders, that was when I had one of my most serious anxiety attacks about mortality in general (which in turn led to the Skeptic's Guide.))

Anyway, Wired had a hopeful article on new detection technologies. For what it's worth, here's my prediction: sometime in the next 20 years, there's going to be a large terrorist bombing in a major city, or maybe several simultaneously. Only then will a system like the type described in the article really be enacted, and life will become a bit more police-stateish. And I think there will be some level of security for a while after that, and not that that many will even be killed, but life isn't gonna be much fun.

Funny of the Moment
On the lighter side, this is a funny take on SPAM in the Star Wars Galaxy.

Pointless Link of the Moment
"Oh my god! They look like Kenny!" "You bastards!"

Doodle of the Moment

--Just touched based with an old dormmate of mine, Carly R....she used to put the best doodles on my message board (actually a giant sheet of blank newspaper) and she says now her doodles are often computer based...I've always thought that she has a touch of Shel Silverstein in her doodles.

Grossness of the Moment
Meathead, Meathead, Rolypoly Meathead...just in time for Halloween. (via Ranjit)

middle east to mountain king

October 17, 2001
Sick Sad World of the Moment
Awright! What better way to pick up the pieces of the national psyche than a new CBS sitcom about the romance between two former spouses of WTC victims? Also, going on with yesterday's using pigs to stop Islamic fundamentalist terrorists, a piece on Sexual fantasies of a suicide bomber that talks about the relationship between sex and young male terrorists, from August.

Supposedly, Israeli forensic pathologists find that suicide bombers often wrap their genitals in protective material, in order to save them for all those virgins they'll be gettin' in the afterlife. I love the messed up halflogic of that. It's right up there with the pigs... I guess the materialist in me will kind of accept a spirituality, but it's this mix and match of the physical and the ethereal that makes me giggle.

Geek of the Moment
Ok, you have to be a fairly hardcore oldschool videogame geek to appreciate the beauty of this thorough map of Mountain King for the Atari 2600. Actually maybe not; the map has a certain elegance of its own. Anyway, it's a real achievement. Mountain King was an impressive game for the time, as you can see it had a very large world. (And a nice rendition of the song.) Plus, there was that secret area 'above' the main mountain, that the website covers pretty well. At first I assumed it was a glitch, but it turns out most of the Mountain King games for different systems had something like this. When you're way up there at the top, ladders and platforms shimmer and shake, it's like the game is letting you see something that doesn't really exist.

Making the equivalent of an "ultimate mix tape" by creating mp3's from cd's. Half a gig so far. It's continuing my mission to distill the clutter and information of my life.

"ACLU Defends Nazi's Right To Burn Down ACCU Headquarters"
          --The Onion-97-10-15
game idea: arcade apacolypse (strategy war game? Action?)
She values a good night's sleep as one of her very best friends.