Chris Abani, "The New Religion"

October 20, 2020
The body is a nation I have not known.
The pure joy of air: the moment between leaping
from a cliff into the wall of blue below. Like that.
Or to feel the rub of tired lungs against skin-
covered bone, like a hand against the rough of bark.
Like that. 'The body is a savage,' I said.
For years I said that: the body is a savage.
As if this safety of the mind were virtue
not cowardice. For years I have snubbed
the dark rub of it, said, 'I am better, Lord,
I am better,' but sometimes, in an unguarded
moment of sun, I remember the cowdung-scent
of my childhood skin thick with dirt and sweat
and the screaming grass.
But this distance I keep is not divine,
for what was Christ if not God's desire
to smell his own armpit? And when I
see him, I know he will smile,
fingers glued to his nose, and say, 'Next time
I will send you down as a dog
to taste this pure hunger.'
Chris Abani, "The New Religion"
Via the Poetry Unbound podast. This one really spoke to me; I conflate the body with the subconscious part of the brain; the mind/heart split can be so pronounced that the mind can challenge the legitimacy of the heart; almost its existence. But what a thought: "For years I said that: the body is a savage. / As if this safety of the mind were virtue / not cowardice. For years I have snubbed / the dark rub of it, said, ‘I am better, Lord, I am better'" For someone like me, who as a child gulped drank from two vials, one "I am super smart" and the other "I have to control myself or I am going to spend eternity in Hell"... pointing out the dialog of virtue and cowardice that represents is a crucial reminder.
Just thought of the old Arabica Coffeehouse in Cleveland (at least in the late-80s and still there by the looks of it.) They were generally pronounced "air-uh-BEE-kuh", not like the coffe bean. But I remember someone mentioning nicknames for a few of them - Freak-abica for the bohemian neighborhood in Coventry, Geek-abica for the one near Case Western Reserve University, Chic-abica for one in an upscale neighborhood, and then there was some other coffee place the coffee cognizati called "Wanna-bica".

October 20, 2019

Today I am marching in solidarity with the spooky skeletons that are inside us all, waiting to get out. #justwait

October 20, 2018

A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.
Kurt Vonnegut

October 20, 2017

Huh - Google's Pixel 2 does Shazam/Soundhound style audio fingerprinting locally? And that db for that is only half a GB? I never would have suspected the numbers were like that (even knowing factoids how like a simple formula "does the subsequent note in series go up or down, note by note makes a unique key for melodies in a surprisingly small number of notes")

October 20, 2016

A while back Winnie Gong sketched me as the mythical Unicorn full-stack developer...

the interpretive screenshots of "invasion of the space invaders"

October 20, 2015
Martin Amis is an English novelist. One of the very strangest bits of his career, the most out of character for him as an author, was a guide to video games (with a weird, jaded "streetwise" view of culture around the arcades, then in its prime) called Invasion of the Space Invaders. The author generally won't talk about the book, and as The Million's 2012 review of it quotes Sam Leith:
Anything a writer disowns is of interest, particularly if it’s a frivolous thing and particularly if, like Amis, you take seriousness seriously.
On a whim I bought a copy of this hard to find book (I think I paid a bit over $100 for it a few years ago; currently the one copy listed on Amazon is going for north of $500) Recently I undid the binding of my copy and scanned it in and sent it to Anna Anthropy for Annarchive, her repository of old shareware and other video game historical artifacts- you can download the full copy there, and it's kind of an amazing piece, though as Anna points out full of casual homophobia, racism, and a surprising amount of references to child prostitution.

But there's also overwrought gameplay advice prose like this for Pac-Man:
Do I take risks in order to gobble up the fruit symbol in the middle of the screen? I do not, and neither should you. Like the fat and harmless saucer in Missile Command (q.v.), the fruit symbol is there simply to tempt you into hubristic sorties. Bag it
PacMan player, be not proud, nor too macho, and you will prosper on the dotted screen.
There was another great quote:
"That seems to be the psychology behind Atari. You can never win, and you always can get better."
Major Robinson on Battlezone et al in Martin Amis' "Invasion of the Space Invaders
Besides the prose (and referring to Steve Jobs as "Atari's Steve Jobs") what I find most striking about the book are the obviously reconstructed screenshots. I guess in an era where video games were tough to photograph (presumably in smoky arcades with cranky owners) it made sense to hire graphic artists to recreate the shots... sometimes that can be done for artistic effect (like all those Activision boxart screenshots) but my feeling is these were made to look relatively authentic (and I left out a few actual screenshots they included, like for Frogger and Turbo.) I do wonder what technique, presumably analog, was used to get the pixel effect in all of the screenshots.


October 20, 2014

Do women hate beards? Dang.

October 20, 2013

Two haiku from the British Museum's exhibit "Shunga: sex and pleasure in Japanes art":
Onto his silent lap
she lowers
her eloquent hips

Though anxious
unable to know your true heart
I give my body to you
--Onakatomi no Yoshinobu


October 20, 2012

Your browser does not support the canvas tag.

--A little toy for Glorious Trainwreck's Kackling Korpse of the Monster Klaw Playful ghosts play tag, and you can bounce them around with your ectoplasmpuck. Or press mouse button to call them to you.


October 20, 2011
It's been a LONG time since I'd drawn with pencils. I think when I was a kid I was traumatized in Sunday School when they gave us god-awful #3 pencils to try and write on glossy-ish sunday school activity book paper. But now I kind of dig it, especially if the pencil is nice and sharp. Ink fits my way of simplifying the world into simple shapes and sharp borders, but with pencil it seemed more natural to be a bit more loose.
In my dream, "Cornflower Blue" seemed like the ultimate band name, but "Testing Testing 123" came in a close second.
But if you want forgiveness for being a computer, don't put rocks in the snowballs.
David Sudnow, "Pilgrim in the Microworld"


October 20, 2010

--via Miller, found here
All you need is a dodgy priest
Una (on marriage)

"that's disgusting, and..." "...and captivating." "...yeah"

October 20, 2009

I apologize for the recent New England snow- I had raised the odds by tempting Murphy and His Law by not putting shovel in car- fixed!
Not a very deep sports thinker, but I wonder if its the Ass't Coaching that was the old boon, now bust for Patriots? We keep losing 'em... - Slate on the magic behind the iPhone app "Shazam"-for me it's one of those "wow they can DO that?" things - decent little web colors thing. Its name for Brown seems to be "Obscure Dull Orange"

young astronauts in love part (2/4)

October 20, 2008
Ack, the Red Sox.

Boston is no longer long-suffering sports-wise (except maybe for hockey fans) but it would be nice if our teams continue to show long-term strength.

Ah, civic pride. "Our millionaire manchildren can totally kick your millionaire manchildren's butts!". Or maybe "Our coaches and business men make better use of their large sports market financing than nearly anyone!" which is better, but not much.

Young Astronauts in Love

chapter 2

The setup on GHIBAL 3 was kind of odd

There was so much we didn't know about the anomaly, it really kept the scientists busy, and some of the lawyers

sometimes they had to do research the outposts. there was a minilab for them, with its own coffee maker.

then, one day...

lydia showed up

lydia was one of the lab-scouts. THE fastest jetter i had ever seen

the scientist-scouts were the elite of the elite.

and lydia in the lab... her specialty was this unspace stuff i could just barely get the outlines of

didn't stop me from trying though!

techs are supposed to ask questions, and she was pretty patient

and so it rolled on... lab-scouts came and lab-scouts went.

my own work was pretty interesting, and i had a few side projects

for a while i had a theory she was showing up more often than her research demanded

it was tough to tell. her stuff was pretty obstruse. and it wasn't like i was the only lab she stopped at.

probably i was just projecting

women! or maybe just people.

compared to them, circuits were cake.

maybe her research was about the kind of complexity i'm thinking of

circuits:on, off, mu. you don't understand something, you set up testcases, you can isolate your assumptions and test them...

i've always been pretty easy to read

one time it was near the holiday break. we were talking schedules.

"had you noticed how often i'm here? i've virtually had to make up a new branch of anomaly wave dynamic to justify my trips here."

"i'll bet you say that to all the techs!" i said

no, she hadn't

When I write Josh, who lives in Japan, I oddly switch to more Japanese english stylings.. "please enjoy this book" for "I hope you enjoy"..
<<this is not Ibiza / this is not Cologne / this is not Osaka / this is not Lisbon>>
Hofstadter points out a thing that makes me say English is a bit broken; in most other languages conscious is the same word as conscience.
Filled with a kind of weary melancholy. Maybe I'm just tired.

the mighty 4-0 jumbos

October 20, 2007
Max points out something Bill Simmons points out in his ESPN column:
Speaking of fan bases, the fans from a certain New England college are outraged that I refuse to acknowledge a particular undefeated college season that's happening right now and resulted in an especially high ranking last weekend. And you know what? You're right. I need to be the bigger man here. So let's acknowledge it ... congratulations to the Tufts Jumbos on your 4-0 start!
So, um, Yay Jumbos. But are 4-0 starts that rare in college? I guess the one thing you can say about a team like Tufts is unlike football factories it can't really pad its schedule with creampuff opponents, because if anything, it would be one of the creampuffs...

Drawing of the Moment
In helping Evil B up in Rockport, we came across this sketch for the layout of a bedroom. We believe it was done by Alice Cox:

Click here for a larger version
Apologies for the digital photo, I tried to lighten it up some but the pencil drawing still doesn't come out to well. Here's a close up of the chair, sidetable, and lounge:

Cool stuff! I admire the technical skill as well as sense of design that went into this arrangement.

Instructions You Didn't Know You Needed of the Moment
I liked wikiHow's instructions on How to Become a Hobo, but its How to Be a Hobo with a Web Based Income is even more up my alley.

what did delaware?

October 20, 2006
On the road!

Wrong lessons learned thus far: You know, I was thinking that this was the first time I'd been on a train since this weird Red-Eye trip I took with Dylan in sixth grade or so, but then I remembered Europe, from third-world-ish sardine-can packed bar cars in Portugal to multiple trips around Germany. It still feels rather novel, though.

Anecdote of the Moment
President Coolidge had a group of guests on the presidential yacht cruising the Potomac. As he stood alone at the rail, looking out at the expanse of water, someone exclaimed, 'Look at that slight and slender figure! Look at that head, bowed over the rail! What thoughts are in the mind of this man, burdened by the problems of the nation?' Finally, Coolidge turned around, and joined the others, saying, `See that sea gull over there? Been watching it for twenty minutes. Hasn't moved. I think he's dead!'
Arthur Krock...via Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes.
Though it was funny (+ suspicious) when I looked in the back and saw the story attributed to "A. Krock"... somehow reassuring to know that inane presidential remarks are nothing new.

Photo of the Moment

-"-A UPS-owned B767 departs Des Moines Int'l and turns south", via Image of the Day, who got it from Almost makes me regret travelling by train this time!

pretty sketchy

October 20, 2005
Doodles of the Moment

The top left might be the server at the same place the booze glasses were doodled in yesterday's set. There's an attempt at a sketch of Mo there, and as for the last two...errr. Well. Isn't it interesting, my friend Erica taught me that it's much simpler to write in cursive with a low-fidelity sketch pad such as this than with my usual printing.

Film of the Moment
Last night Evil B got me to go see the film MirrorMask...pretty decent, and it's too bad there's not more publicity for it. It's a collaboration between Henson Studios (the similarities with Labyrinth and I've heard The Dark Crystal are pretty strong) and author Neil Gaiman...visually, it's incredibly rich, though the story is thin, surprising given the Gaiman influence. I was going to say that it's kind of lile "Through The Looking Glass" meets Salvador Dali, but it turns out that the overarching art influence is Dave McKean...I'd recommend his page (have to click...they're playing some stupid games preventing a direct link) over the official Sony pictures one.

Unfortunately, it might be a "wait for the DVD" kind of thing, given its poor in Boston it seems like only the artsy cinema is showing it.

Article of the Moment
Slate on the inverse relationship between an institutions health and its tendency to make interesting architecture, the logic being that companies that are still enganged deeply in doing cool work don't have time to make the perfect HQ. I've seen this in action, in a small way, with my dear departed dotcom Event Zero; moving to the new offices (with a conference room sharing the oval shape of the company's logo and with the late-90's cliché blue/orange color scheme) was one of the death knells...a big capital suck that any company hoping to ride out the dotbomb crash of 2000 couldn't afford.

nothing but 'net

October 20, 2004
Stupid Internet connection was down that bugs the heck out of me. Electricity, Water, ''s really a close third.

Kinda Feeble Fable of the Moment
BRUNO: Ahhhh, Marcus?
BRUNO: Like, why did we come to this cave?
VALK: Yeah, why?
MARCUS: Listen, you wanted the gold, right?
MARCUS: And you wanted fun and wild adventure?
MARCUS: And you were both bored out of your minds vegging out in front of TV which neither of you have because it hasn't been invented yet, right?
MARCUS: Never mind. Anyway, understand?
MARCUS: Good, cause neither do I.
(Blackout, enter Narrator)
NARRATOR: Ok, now time for another feeble moral: Slow and steady wins the race. (Exits, pauses, reenters)
NARRATOR: Ok, ok, it doesn't make much sense, but neither will a lot of this play.
--Those who can write, do. Those who can't, get self-referential.
I think that's a vague Hitchhiker's Guide "Excitement, adventure and really wild things" reference there

Coverup of the Moment
Looks like The Bush administration is suppressing a CIA report on 9/11 until after the election. Nice. Too bad Bush isn't a democrat, maybe they'd sick Ken Starr on him.

Sci-Fi Thought of the Moment
If any wants a recommendation for some good...nay, terrific short sci-fi, I heartily recommend "The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge", currently being lent to me by the EB. I'm only about halfway through but MAN is that good some stuff.

I don't have time to think about it now, and I'm sure cleverer minds than mine have thought about this, but one throwaway line in one of the stories, "That [image is] from a camera aboard the Vengeance. It's transmitting by gravitic means, so we'll be able to see everything up to the detonation" made me think about the idea of somehow using Gravity as a form of communication, and what the speed of that communication could be. I probably should read this paper, which seems to indicate the answer to "what's the speed of gravity?" is somewhere between "lightspeed" and "instanteous", inclusive, so the next question is, could we make a communications device from that? I suppose one problem is that gravity is blunt...I think that it tends to be a single vector at any point, the "sum" of all the gravitation forces at that point. But still, if you could move a mass around quickly enough, a sensitive and highly tuned meter might be able to detect it's movement from an arbitrary distance away? I dunno. There's got a be a reason why you can't do this, or why if you could do this it wouldn't violate the idea in relativity that information can't travel faster than the speed of light... (is that the case? Man, it's been why too long since I've read up on and thought about this stuff.)

People less muddle-headed about these high-falutin' ideas, feel free to chime in...

the smell of spam in the morning

October 20, 2003
Heh. Nothing like waking up to six copies of e-mail with a subject "Put a bullet in SPAM!shenanigan" in a row. (All to the same e-mail address...usually multiple Spams at least our targetting different e-mail for the same account.) And to think they say irony is dead.

Quote of the Moment
If you took all the students that fell asleep in class and laid them end to end, they'd be a lot more comfortable.
Graffiti in the Big Ten

Game Link of the Moment
"Elite" was one of the awesomest games of the early flew a spaceship around a wireframe universe, fighting off pirates (or being a bounty hunter yourself!), trying to make a living trading goods from planet to planet. (Actually, one of the coolest things was your path wasn't set, you had many alternatives to try to make your way.) Years ahead of its time, I remember playing it on Todd Beecher's C=64. Slashdot posted to an Guardian article on the history of the game, or you can check out the author's Elite homepage...including information on Elite: The Musical.

The article goes into some detail about how they auto-generated their galaxies; rather than coming up with the memory needed to store the details of a handcrafted universe, they came up with some pseudo-random formulae to generate a huge number of planets. From there, it was a matter of 'gardening' to find the sequences that would make a good gamer experience. (I remember being very impressed with the game's sequel called "Frontier"--the universe it created was even more rich and impressive, yet it still all fit on a 1.4 meg floppy.)

Software of the Moment
Feh. I probably won't have time to play with this 3D modeling and motion program 'Juice' but it looks like fun...

june 1 2003

October 20, 2002
Political Cartoon of the Moment
--Tom Toles. I would've just linked to the online version, but the UComics site is slow to the point of death. Anyway, this cartoon is one of the likelier scenarios I've seen...

Quote of the Moment
In this great and creatorless universe, where so much beautiful has come to be out of the chance interactions of the basic properties of matter, it seems so important that we love one another.
Lucy Kemnitzer

that's unpossible!

October 20, 2001

--via Stileproject, obviously (raunchy site) I've seen this idea before but never done so well...

some comparisons can't be compared to comparing apples + oranges