November 25, 2022

See the happy moron,
He doesn't give a damn,
I wish I were a moron,
My God! perhaps I am!

November 25, 2021

So, Happy Thanksgiving!

I took the week off to hang with my folks and one thing I've been doing is catching up on Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for Switch. Just a week or two ago I realized I had accidentally erased my save file, and so I'd like to regain some of the cool stuff I had in the game. (Especially the horses that Cora liked.)

It's a great game, but it makes me think about why I dislike puzzles in games so much. The simplest theory is that I just don't like them because I'm not good at them. But I also realized I can explain it under the overall arch I have of how I'm interested in how things interact, not on what they intrinsically are...

Like, puzzles (like the ones in the 4 "Divine Beast" dungeons in BotW) are self-contained. Some smart and creative game designer set it up, and you're either clever enough to re-follow their steps, or you give up and look for guides online. But... you're not solving problems that are really connected to anything. (Slightly less true in that the puzzles in BotW involve physics.) They are set up to be bounded little challenges, but not really connect with solving things in the "real world" or even in the world of the rest of game.

That's one of the things I like about casual "party games" vs more thinky stuff like "Settlers of Catan" or what not. I mean, a strategy game like Catan is essentially a puzzle game you are playing against other folks. And again, I might dislike it because I'm not good at it and it bruises my tender ego, but also I prefer games that let players really use creativity, in part because that creativity tends to be making references to the outside world... a Pictionary-ish reference or Quiplash-like jest, pop-culture or otherwise, connects with the outside world.

(Heh, but then again I secretly don't like trivial games, which are all about referencing the outside world. I guess in that case I just like activities that create new stuff, not just talk about everything that's already there. Creativity and "Categorical Novelty" are existential goods, by my reckoning.)
FOLLOWUP: To be fair, a lot of the problem is my frustration in reading the results of actions inside a puzzle - like if some action doesn't have an effect it's not always clear if it was the wrong action, or just wrong performed. For example on the "Vah Medoh" puzzle that inspired this ramble, "The trick here is that we need to hit the large switch with the battering ram with full force in order to press it all the way down."... I got the idea of using the ram, but since it didn't work, I thought it was the wrong solution, not the right general ide badly performed...

November 25, 2020


November 25, 2019

I posted this at the beginning of the year, but I think lately the quote has really been helping me with my angsty procrastination-- when I catch myself putting off clearing email because I know there's an unpleasant one I have to deal with, say.

(The panel is sort of a daydream concept for an expanded comic I'd like to make.)

Lava is the earth's yolk. Go on about your day

The Hidden Brain podcast: The Ventilator: Life, Death And The Choices We Make At The End This is an excellent and moving podcast; I will always be for people having more control over their own end-of-life decisions, but this is an important reminder that people will sometimes see things in differently when the prospect seems remote and abstract versus when the decision point is at hand.
One of my fellow HONK! musicians posted this NYT article, by a former "Tuba Girl" about college marching bands:
"Tubas play the bass line. They're essential but usually relegated to the background. They tend to be pretty chill, maybe because no one really chooses to play tuba; it's a heavy instrument that sounds weird and looks goofy. Circumstance is what makes a tubist. [...] I didn't formally decide to join until the tail end of the summer before my freshman year, when I received a recruitment postcard written by a Tuba Girl.
There were 26 tubas while I was in band. But the Tuba Girls, a foursome who were two years ahead of me, were a fierce unit who had created a mini-sisterhood within a fairly masculine section."
My comment was
Great article! In high school I found Marching Band to be great for demographic slicing: along with gym and health class it was the only place where I was in contact with students outside the little nerdy AP-class bubble - plus, it's a place where freshmen and sophomores can develop we've-been-through-heck-together camaraderie with juniors and seniors.

In both high school and college I was often the only tuba, and often my departure was filled by a female-identifying musician, so I dig on that whole "Tuba Girl" vibe


November 25, 2018
Random philosophic ramble; lately I've been pondering on my lack of judginess, my disinclination to make value judgements unless I need to and/or can be very sure of the objective likelihood of my view. It comes from a place of not wanting to be wrong, or rather, of it feeling sin to willfully not acquiesce to the Real Truth, which requires me to be super skeptical about anyone who claims to have that.

So I get to wishing more people would withhold judgement, while worried that if everyone was as wishy-washy as me not much would get done in the world.

But just the other day I noticed a parallel in my "live life with observing but not judging" recommendation and my understanding of Buddhist non-attachment. Not-judging lets me avoid the pitfalls of collapsing the richness of the real world into a simplified axis of "this is good" and "this is bad" and being miserable about my finite ability to change externalities.

Like a lot of consoling philosophies, there seems to be a risk of feeling too passive, of being less willing to take arms and fight the good fights. But still- not-judging is also a path to greater empathy and maybe the fights that I do have to have can be that much more productive.

Helper Device for New Parents!

November 25, 2017

Anyone see the movie "Arrival" (right now free on Amazon Prime, Melissa and I watched tonight) and/or read the story it's based on ("Story of Your Life" - I reread after watching the movie...)
Interesting to see the differences between the two, the IMDB for trivia for it has a bullet list of differences.

The short story is a little more clear that free will is still true for us, even with foreknowledge of how things will unfold. The movie is maybe a bit more ambiguous; Louise chooses to have a child despite seeing that child's early death. Or does she still choose to go that path because of the delight that is there despite the loss? Or does she choose to have a child because she knows she's going to have a child (shades of Neo breaking the vase in the Oracle's kitchen...) Or, given the way that universe works, can she even choose not to? Anyway, all 4 possibilities float in the movie, but the last 2 are pretty much downplayed in the original story.

November 25, 2016

I thought this interview w/ Ben Shapiro aided my understanding of Breitbart and its relation to the "alt-right". And I agree, the left really needs to stop painting with a super-wide "racist idiot" brush. I don't think Trump is anywhere near as qualified as Obama was, and he's promoted a lot of ideas terrible for equality and our nation in general (but he has walked back some of the worst of things, and highlighted the people hurt taking the brunt of the hit of free trade) but the demonization of Trump is an ugly mirror of the crazy smears Obama put up with.

November 25, 2015

Lately I've been thinking about how good Facebook is at what it does, and how it has become a unique cultural venue for people to write and be read and to stay in touch with casual acquaintances across gaps in time and space.

There have always been ways of staying in touch with people you were close to: e-mail and various instant message programs online, regular mail and phone, but those all had terrible "discoverability" (you had to get the address or number though some other channel) and were almost exclusively one-to-one communication.

Online, there have been one-to-many forms of communication: Usenet newsgroups and (God have mercy on your soul) website forums, but these were generally formed around mutual-interest topics and themes, not shared history in the real world.

Much of its strength comes from its ubiquity. Not being on Facebook is more of the exception than the rule.

Its curation algorithms are fantastic. I know some people balk at not seeing everything, but I don't think they realize what a firehose Facebook would become for anyone with a decent number of "friends". Facebook offers some tools to pay more attention to certain people you care about, but unlike some sites they don't force you to sort all your contacts into buckets, the tweaking is there if you need it. For everyone else, the algorithms do a pretty good job of bringing you the posts that other people have found most important. There's a bit of a bandwagon effect, and when you write a cool post that languishes uncommented and un-"liked" it's a bummer, but overall the system works well.

(Other people gripe about how oddly recalcitrant FB is about keeping feeds in strict chronological order... though I think the mix and match ordering based on time AND post activity works better for people who are more casually engaged.)

But Facebook banks on one brilliant idea, one other sites leverage as well: empowering users to assemble a collated page/wall/feed of content from people the user finds interesting. Sites using this trick -- Tumblr, LiveJournal, Twitter, Instagram and FB all had different hooks (visual collectors, diarists, pithy bon mot makers, snapshotters, and people you know, respectively) and of all of those FB's "people you know in real life" seems to be the most compelling in a universal kind of way. (Anecdotally, my high school's 20th, post-FB reunion didn't come together nearly as well as my 10th pre-FB, and while there were other factors involved I wonder how much of that is because the "where are they now?" question is so trivially answered.)

Facebook gets a huge number of UX and UI details so right. I do think the curation algorithms are under appreciated. There's no other site providing the non-geek with such a wide and known-IRL audience. Its photo handling is powerful and easy to use, and its instant messaging is a viable replacement for SMS/iMessage. Sometimes only being able to "Like" something feels limiting in a "Newspeak" kind of way, but it also cuts off a lot of negativity and fighting. Some previous annoyances (like endless game requests) have gone away for me. Other auxiliary features add to the experience: the "real time" event sidebar can lead to interesting discoveries (a kind of happenstance endure around the usual curation) and "what you posted on this date in previous years" is a good implementation of a nostalgic feature I've seen and implemented elsewhere.

My biggest complaint is about how this one site Facebook has sucked the air out of the room for the independent web and blogosphere. In the mid-2000s, my blog (which I still double post to, since it's my canonical archive) was also a small social hub, with a homebrew comments system that eventually got utterly deluged by robospam. (I also had a guest-post sidebar, that was great fun from 2002-2008) These days, only the most interesting and topical blogs can really survive and garner attention and community... Facebook has made things both more and less egalitarian in that regard.

There are other problems with Facebook, like how people put their own self-known private selves up against images of everyone else at their public best, and there's crap like vaguebooking, and privacy concerns with a machine that knows so much about mutual friends and even has face recognition. Or the idea that maybe the barrier to staying in touch should be high, like who wants to be in touch with those bozos from high school anyway, or have your elder folks know if you've been up to mischief, or see idiotic posts from that cousin whose politics you can't stand? But hearing and being heard is a very human desire, as is meaningfully staying in contact and having a support community of people you know, and FB does those things better than anything else I can think of

November 25, 2014

My favorite details from the unsealed Ferguson grand just: the cop didn't have a taser because the department had just one and the officer found wearing one to be "uncomfortable". and the coroner didn't take photos of the victim because "the camera battery was dead".

Officer Darren Wilson's story is unbelievable. Literally. Yeah, there was not probable cause to have a trial.
This smells.
Oh, plus our camera battery died so the coroner was out of luck :-( :-(

November 25, 2013 -- super satisfying GIFs (via Ian Bogost)
Bad language, but I love the gravitas a youtube comments war gets when read by pompous-sounding british men with ominous music:

November 25, 2012

If Grand Theft Auto had a main character who was a horse with magical powers it would look like this, oddly captivating:

Vanilla Ice-Nine: anybody who hears him rapping instantaneously stops, collaborates and listens until death claims them.

Anyone who admits to having made 'my share of mistakes' has in fact made far more than his share of mistakes.

'All-Purpose' flour shouldn't be able to call itself that. Terrible as a bodywash.

Inner-City Wizard School...

Actually Kottke's other Key & Peele links are all great, I need to see more of these guys:

get 'em gilliam

November 25, 2011

--via kottke. (2019 UPDATE: not positive if same, but close.) I love the down to earth and non-condescending tone of this. It strikes me that 2/3 of this directly applicable to people making animated GIFs today... of course GIFs don't have sound, which loses out a bit, but they don't have to worry about little pieces of tape either...

orange i thankful?

(1 comment)
November 25, 2010
To view this content, you need to install Java from
scrib1_amber - source - built with processing

Ya, the same thing as yesterday but in the pretty orange amber likes.

Apple Laptops have too many modifier buttons - fn control option command - it makes a lot of key presses a guessing game.

look out below

(1 comment)
November 25, 2009
--BoingBoing posted about neat photo-based tromp l'oeil - even though the bathroom they posted is a photoshop, there's a company that makes wallpaper from photos. Ever since this one magazine ad showing an artist painting the top half of her bathroom with photorealistic clouds, I've kind of wanted a bathroom like that...

Kind of weird how we use the same word for sleeptime dreams and "fondest ambitions". 3/4 or more of my sleeptime dreams are DO NOT WANT!!1!
"Titanium" has to be the coolest name for a metal ever. - note to self do not ask designers for free work.

look before you leep

November 25, 2008
My area's political representation has been taken a beating lately, with both State Senator Dianne Wilkerson and Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner getting caught in a bribery sting.

WBUR mentioned a detail that apparently informed the title of the Boston Globe article FBI informant in bribe cases says more suspects are likely to surface, but the only part of the article concerning the headline was
While Wilburn suggested that the probe may have targets beyond those already charged, he declined to name them.
That's it-- that's really enough for a headline?

So, because both of the politicians are black, the race card is going to played. But, I'm not sure that its not justified in this case.
Asked if he was surprised that public officials would allegedly take money to help push a liquor license, he responded quickly. "Hell, no," and let out a hearty laugh.

Wilburn said the idea of opening an upscale supper and jazz club, to be called Dejavu, began to take hold in 2006. But he was rebuffed by the Boston Licensing Board when he sought a liquor license and was frustrated by what he describes as a politicized and antiquated licensing process.

"You're dealing with favoritism, cronyism, classism, and if you don't have the right connections it's very difficult to make things happen," Wilburn said. "The average person that works hard and has a plan to get a license, it's very hard for them to move through that system. And you find out if you have the right people pushing the buttons, things can happen fast."
So given Boston's racial history, with the bus boycotts, some of the slowest-to-integrate sports teams in history, etc etc, I think this deserves to be looked at. Whom they decided to launch a sting on could quite possibly have a racist dimension... I really want to know who else they investigated, and the rationale behind it. With a system this clunky and crony-tastic, I'd be surpised if there wasn't a ton of wheel (Of course the Libertarians would argue that the harsh limits of liquor licenses is offbase to begin with...) Also, call me a bleeding heart, but Wilburn is black, and I could almost see there being an aspect of trying to promote black business... especially in places with more black citizens than black business owners.

That said, I also like Chuck Turner's campaign slogan of "BALD BOLD AND BRIGHT".

Video of the Moment
I previously 'fessed up to alien bill's design being influenced by a board game, but sometimes I wonder if he doesn't have a bit of Lunar Leeper in him:

I really liked the way those guys looked, I tried building something like them in the C programming lass at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts...

When a football team wears the same colored pants and-- I dunno, socks, whatever, like the Saints do, it looks like their wearing tights.
Linguistically "first down" is a bit odd because they drop the verb... "it is first down" "they just missed [getting a] first down"
Also there's a pick, or interception, or a pick, like in basketball, a (non-legal?) move where an offensive player gets in the way of the D
But then, the main googling for picks in a football context is fantasy football and gambling. ok i'll stop
Ever since I learned about it as a concept "eyebrow flash" I can't stop observing it... - funny how both Obama and George W. had distinctive initial-based logos (W, O); icons, not dull stylized words - surprised that the future prez. library site uses the infamous GWB-in-a-flightsuit. Heh heh: "GWB Prez. Library"

decluttering for our mortal selves

November 25, 2007
Decluttering holds a melancholy reminder of our finite lifespans and stockpile of attention. There are so many things that would be, perhaps, worth coming back to: a book unread, a video unwatched, a toy unplayed with, a tchotchkes unadmired. But there's just enough time, and we are compelled to choose, and to clear out things that don't make the cut lest they interfere with the things that do, or with life in general.

(Oh, and in my virtual mortal coil: the bookmarks unfollowed.)

Article of the Moment
--from a great quick NY Times piece on the Presidential Campaign Logos. Why are the Republicans so much better at this? (Oh, plus SlateV on the TV spots.)

the art of camo

November 25, 2006
Ksenia and I watched King Kong last night. I had heard it was a bit too long, but I wasn't expecting it would be so bad that we'd start rooting for the current wave of monstrous beasts to finish off the good guys. ("Oh, giant wasps? Maybe they'll finally be able to finish the job!")

Ad of the Moment
I know this Gamespot army ad is "not for my demographic", but I still think it's odd that the slogan could be used for antiperspirant merely by substituting the product name for "Army".

Also, the whole pixilated trend in camouflage still looks odd to me, as if the armd forces where deliberately trying to echo the "War as Videogame" theme you hear about every now and then.

Music of the Moment
So I am plowing through my entire CD collection, ripping stuff to MP3.

You make some weird discoveries-- stuff that entered your life in long-forgotten ways, like maybe the bargain bin at Disc Diggers back in the day, or picked up from old housemates, and has never received much listening...

I don't know if I like the music of "The Best Kissers in the World", but they have one of the best bandnames ever, and with track names like "She won't get under me till I get over you", "Bitch can't Sing", "Letter From You", and "You love sleepin'"... maybe there's something to them.


November 25, 2005
Oops, looks like I'm a bit lax in updating...I'm blaming a slow recovery from a Turkey OD yesterday; Ksenia and I actually hit three different dinners before the day was done.

Link of the Moment, a funny tale of scamming a would-be Ebay scammr. The photos on the front page are half the fun, but the story is pretty good to.

The main link is a PDF document. Man, Apple "Preview" makes viewing PDFs an absolute joy...well, a relative joy, relative to the slow as molasses, always-checking-for-updates, user-hostile-UI, loader-of-a-1,000-sub-modules piece-of-crap that Adobe puts out for Windows. I thought it was something intrinsic with the PDF format, which is admittedly geared at proper printout rather than fast screen display, but's just Acrobat Reader that's a steaming pile of cyberturds.

thanks a lot

(1 comment)
November 25, 2004
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone...try to keep in mind what you're thankful for.

Vanity Card of the Moment
I believe that the very act of believing in something causes us to distance ourselves from that thing, thus a duality is created: oneself and the thing in which one believes. Now since we all know that in order to fully understand a thing one must be that thing -- walk a mile in its shoes so to speak -- it seems obvious that the state of believing in something inevitably causes us to not truly understand that thing in which we believe. This noncomprehension leads to all sorts of difficulties. "I believe in love" has a better than even chance of leading to divorce, while "I believe in God" seems to end in variations on the Spanish Inquisition. But -- and it's a big but -- if one were love, one couldn't help but be affectionate and caring towards oneself and others. If one were God, one would act toward all beings and all things as if they were one's own creations. And that, my friends, is the secret of life in a two-second vanity card. Of course, the secret could also be "Sit, Ubu, sit." We have to keep an open mind.
Chuck Lorre, vanity card at the end of an episode of "Dharma and Greg"
You can see the series of vanity cards here...either go for the Text-Only option, or hit the Flash and click on the bookshelves.

Random Thought of the Moment
Is Thanksgiving the only major US holiday mainly represented by what you eat on it? (Other than Groundhogs Day of course.) It's kind of macabre seeing all these happy turkeys around. But it's either that or pilgrim gear. Or maybe Autumn leaves, though that's a stretch.

no northern lights last night

November 25, 2003
Excerpt of the Moment
There were no 'Northern Lights' last night but there was a big moon and a sky full of stars shining down on the glaciers and snow covered peaks. It was a beautiful night with a constant breeze that seems to come from out among the stars and it seems at times that if you listen very carefully it will whisper secrets as old as time.
Ronald Reagan in a note to his daughter Patti when she was a baby.
It's very evocative...I think one little linguistic trick is to put a series of observations together with the word "and"...Garrison Keillor does that sometimes. It adds a sense of urgency to the observation, or something.

Kirk News of the Moment
So, much to my surprise, I plugged in the recovery CDs I ordered from HP, and they seemed to fix everything on my PC. (Based on some fiddling around I had done trying to get the PC to boot using a different drive, I had been led to believe there was some kind of hardware issue. Guess not...or, as my friend suspects, maybe there was some kind of BIOS burn built into the recovery process. Dunno.) So I'm very happy to be back on speedy machine with its big monitor...though now I've started jonesing for one of those cute mini PC cases with the integrated handle. Still, this systems works well, no need to mess with it.

Toy of the Moment
Thanks to LAN3 for pointing out Mr. Picasso Head! Make your own 'modern' little tool.

r.i.p. dennis o'neil

November 25, 2002
Sad Local News of the Moment
Sunday night news reported the death of electrician Dennis O'Neil, who fell while doing the cool tree lights they have in the center of Waltham, where Mo and I live and my mom and aunt grew up. I've always loved these lights, just simple white, but it makes a wonderful 3D effect, since the trees are bare, and it's a big, almost park-like town square. I guess in the spirit of "he'd want it this way" they're going to still have the lights, but it'll be kind of melancholy this year.

Essay of the Moment
Not entirely convincing but thought-provoking Australian article seeing the USA as the new Roman Empire.

Image of the Moment
Not for the squeamish, or the bird-lovers among us, this picture of what happens when a small plane's wing hits a large bird is gross but funny in a macabre kind of way. Also scary, that plane couldn't have been too easy to land.

Video of the Moment
This is a really amazing dance clip from Kollaboration, a Korean-American talent show. (via metafilter)

News of the Moment
The Guardian published the full text of Osama bin Laden's 'letter to America'. (Though the authorship is not 100% confirmed.) Ah, the power of easy it is to know you're right when God is on your side. Arguing with someone who has a strong religous belief that you don't share is pointless, since you're not going to agree on the ground rules.

isn't he dreamy?

November 25, 2001
So Mo and I are moving ever closer to getting a house. Right now Waltham seems the most likely bet. Kind of funny how my life keeps coming back to that's where my Mom and Aunt grew up, it's where my family still owns a (now being rented) house, it's where I had my first apartment, and now it might be the site of my first house. It's not the most amazing cosmic coincidence, but it's kind of interesting that there might be some sort of connection there. A couple of years ago, I wouldn't have guessed that Waltham would be making such a strong claim to being my hometown. (I moved a lot when I was a kid. I guess Cleveland still has a stronger claim though, with those critical middle school/high school years.)

Funny Line of the Moment
He says he looked into my eyes and vas able to see my soul... romantic.
"Vladimir Putin" in Capitol Steps skit.
Saw them last night, I really like the stylized capitol dome logo you can see on their website. The line was of coursed based on this incident. I found another article about Putin's later response to it. He says "You know, maybe it's normal for the USA, but for the Russian ear the phrase is a bit strange." No, sorry guy, but it's really weird for us as well.

Link of the Moment
I'm drinking my coffee from a mug with Grant Wood's "American Gothic" on it. I found a interesting site about parodies of the famous image. Other sites I found comment on the way that every one sees it as a farm couple, but the woman is meant to be the man's daughter. Also, it's the arched window in the back that gives the image it's name. You can still see the house Grant Wood used...overall it's a very balanced composition.

Why are Walk signals designed to send pedestrians out into the street just as turning traffic wants to start to move? Did the designers forget about drivers turning?

Orpheus hesitated beside the black river.
With so much to look forward to, he looked back.
We think he sang then, but the song is lost.
At least he had seen once more the beloved back.
          I say the song went this way: *O prolong
          Now the sorrow if that is all there is to prolong.*
                     --Donald Justice, from "There is a Gold Light in Certain Old Paintings"
I cannot seperate her
from the beautiful body.
She has charm and a very
gay spirit; in every way
she's attractive. Intelligent
and she reads good books.
But it's the faultless body
that forces me to make a fool
of myself, pursuing a virtuous
girl I could never possess.
          --James Laughlin (1914-1997)
"We're all soldiers in the war against entropy."
"I spent an interesting evening recently with a grain of salt."
          --Mark V. Shaney
"the day that you die will be like any other day, only shorter."
Thanksgiving Trip to NYC:
Note to self:
Hi, self!
"The Age of Anxiety"- whoever came up with that was dead on, especially with all the economy questions being asked.