April 27, 2017

Facebook Meme, post 10 musical groups or people you've seen in concert, but one of them is a lie.... here's what I said.

Alright, lemme join in! 9 concerts I've been to live and a lie.

1 The Canadian Brass
2 Weird Al Yankovic
3 The Knack
4 Deee-Lite
5 Dirty Dozen Brass Band
6 Maynard Ferguson
7 Gladys Knight
8 Phoenix
9 Dr. John
10 Trombone Shorty

"Which ones the fib" gives this meme legs I guess!
(Honestly the only other 4 I could think of were all recent shows: Coeur de Pirate, Tribe Called Red, The Soul Rebels, Steve Earle... I think I've never been gung-ho about going to shows, though it's usually a good time... looking forward to TOO MANY ZOOZ next month at the Sinclair though am expecting to be filled with jealousy)

April 26, 2017

"If you torture the data long enough, it will confess."
--Ronald H. Coase
WHERE DID ALL THE SAXOPHONES GO? "How one instrument went from being the backbone of American popular music to being a punchline in a joke about the '80s." Reminds me of my 2004 rant about saxophones as the most overrated instrument. I disavow most of that now - I was just a bitter tuba player who hadn't played tuba in like 8 years.
Don't deep fry gnocchi. Skip to :30 and enjoy....

"ATTN: FOG IS JUST REALLY BIG GHOSTS" --http://twitter.com/boatse

April 25, 2017rambletuba

I've been thinking that maybe I could get my inner toddler to become, like, an inner precocious teen (though it's odd to think that I can't tell it "use your words!" because that's not how it operates) but I'm concerned I might lose some kind of vitality in that process, some part of essential Kirkness.

And also concerned that I'm not sure what to trust to tell me if that is a risk of being the case, because I don't know to what extent the inner-narrator/rational self vs subconscious self is the same for everyone. Various paths of self-improvement call it different things (the Id, the inner child, the right side of the brain, the unconscious mind, etc) and imply different functional relationships.

Even something like meditation has contradictions in advice about its methods and goals. Like, is it to have that zennish empty mind, where my verbal inner-narrator is finally silent and my whole self can enjoy purer sensation, unmitigated by simplification into verbal simplification and categorization? Or is it to be 'mindful', and allow that inner narrator to calmly process and analyze and pontificate but without encountering spikes of anxiety and other disruptive emotion? (Which, in my current way of thinking, tend to emerge from my inner toddler.) I kind of prefer the latter; it's less work and a lot more fun.

In "Eat, Pray, Love" Elizabeth Gilbert writes
Like most humanoids, I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the "monkey mind"--the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl. From the distant past to the unknowable future, my mind swings wildly through time, touching on dozens of ideas a minute, unharnessed and undisciplined. This in itself is not necessarily a problem; the problem is the emotional attachment that goes along with the thinking. Happy thoughts make me happy, but--whoop!--how quickly I swing again into obsessive worry, blowing the mood; and then it's the remembrance of an angry moment and I start to get hot and pissed off all over again; and then my mind decides it might be a good time to start feeling sorry for itself, and loneliness follows promptly. You are, after all, what you think. Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.

The thing is, to me it feels backwards... like the thoughts are the slaves to the emotions, and then I'm the slave to the thoughts. Or something. But basically, the process is more my inner rational narrator teaching my wordless sometimes-raging sometimes-fearing sometimes-frolicking subconscious self about the world. You know, it feels a bit like the relationship between Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller.

So I feel there's lots of room for that inner toddler - who will probably never grow up to have words - to mature, and develop a real camaraderie, rather than the current paternalistic relationship. And without assuming that subconscious part of me is only feeling, not thinking. I suspect feeling and thinking are the same thing but at wildly different time scales, feeling taking in the long term evolutionary wisdom and near term immediate reaction, with thinking occupying the middle ground.

Also through all this, I feel my rational, verbal, narrator self is trying to reassert the throne of being "The Actual Me", the real me, that it lost when I read Dennett's "Conscious Explained". I think it's time for a reread of what I pin as the "most important book I read", even though it's mighty long.

April 24, 2017

This person bowls better than you do.
"It's ever so slightly plausible, in that, yeah, the robot is named EVE and Wall-E does give her a plant. On the other hand... it presumes that the future where humans are all lazy blobs in a spaceship where robots tend to their every need is paradise, which... huh."
--io9 onis Wall-E akin to the serpent in the Garden of Eden aka Satan...

April 23, 2017tuba

Ezequiel playing in the March for Science in today's NY Times; Andrew, Dave, and me behind

It's cool how both the Boston Globe and the NY Times select photos with younger players front and center, and some taller folks backin' em up
I've moved around 20 times in my life. You think I'd be a bit less crap at it by now...

April 22, 2017

Rallying for science with BABAM!
"What do we want?"
"When do we want it?"

April 21, 2017ramble

(tl; dr: maybe I'm so damnably bad with names is because my main processing part of my brain is separate from my verbal inner voice part of my brain.)

Weird possible introspection revelation, tying into yesterday's Cormac McCarthy link about how the subconscious talks to us via images and dreams and not words.

I had some early morning dreams that were about me going on a white river rafting trip, modeled after one I took a few years ago. For some reason it was stuck on the preliminaries rather than the rafting itself, but whatever -

As I stumbled through that murky twilight of half-awake, I realized the one thing that was missing from my understanding of that dream narrative's was a description: i.e. the words "river rafting". I can't be sure of the dream production process, but it often feels like some part of my brain, the subconscious, spits out feelings and images, and then my verbal/inner-voice/narrator weaves it together into a more coherent story that it can understand. (The McCarthy article speculates a bit about this process as well)

I feel like my subconscious can *understand* words - in fact it's the subsystem I use to skim read quickly, and it gleans the relevant bits for the narrator brain (and tells it to go back for the tricky bits for more careful review) but the subconscious doesn't use words and labels much - it relies more on a wordless understanding of how things interact.

This felt like a revelation, or maybe half of one. I have long suspected I'm bad with names and faces because they don't change how I interact with that person. A person could interact and be the same person under a hundred different names and still be the same entity from an interactive standpoint. (This explains that old "remember people's names" trick of associating it with some semi-arbitrarily selected mnemonic - like picture Francis in a beret with a baguette, just to engage these other parts of the mind and not just the verbal narrator)

So the other half, the new half, of this revelation is maybe that is so difficult for me because I rely more than most folks on the part of my brain that doesn't have any facility for names. I might just be making an excuse for myself, trying to to justify a kind of laziness and disengagement, but I think fully recognizing the source of a problem is both a key to making excuses for it and for fixing it.

(The revelation also provides a path to reconciling some seeming contradictions: on the one hand I'm what my friend Tom Kermode has called a "cruxian", the thrust of things is what matters to me. I like art and music that engages in broad strokes, and a dual insensitivity to details / nuance and indifference to interior life that doesn't come to the surface. On the other hand, one of my arguing partners frequently gets annoyed when I correct his vocabulary, and insist on a precise selection and usage of words (but, to his chagrin, precise in a descriptivist, how it's actually used kind of way, not in a word-history arm-chair etymologist kind of way) - at a shallow level, word choice seems very much to be about nuance. I think the contradiction is resolved in the interplay between the desire for two people's subconsciouses, the ones doing the deep understanding to communicate but they have to filter through the rational verbal narrators - the surface characteristics of the words are all they have to work with, so the wrong or misleading word can lead to big problems indeed.)

This all reminds me of that bit from "Through the Looking-Glass":
'This must be the wood,' she said thoughtfully to herself, 'where things have no names. I wonder what'll become of *my* name when I go in? I shouldn't like to lose it at all--because they'd have to give me another, and it would be almost certain to be an ugly one. But then the fun would be trying to find the creature that had got my old name! That's just like the advertisements, you know, when people lose dogs--"answers to the name of 'Dash:' had on a brass collar"--just fancy calling everything you met "Alice," till one of them answered! Only they wouldn't answer at all, if they were wise.'

#321 formation of a committee to determine the plausibility of "aggressive passive" behavior; for example, furiously hammering water (for my work's slack channel #stupid-idea-buddies )