| < retrospect: 27 aug >

August 27, 2016

"Allow me to preface this by saying that I don't know why you started eating salt in the first place, but regardless of the precipitating circumstances, there you are.
As soon as you became aware that eating huge amounts of salt is really, really uncomfortably salty, you should have stopped eating salt. That's the solution. The solution is not to begin eating pepper to cancel out the salt."
--Allie Brosh, in "Hyperbole and a Half". Great read, was literally laughing on the T.

August 27, 2015

"You can't think seriously about thinking without thinking about thinking about something."
--Seymour Papert, "Mindstorms" - Wonder if LOGO might end up a good bet for helping kids learn he possibility space of computers...
I was talking with Jeremy a bit about computers for kids, he recommended this book. I'd love to see a followup that takes the last 30+ years into account. Like, the BASIC he's most likely talking about is the one with line numbers (tho as he twittered "Say what you will about line-numbered BASIC, it's *incredibly* easy to teach from scratch, one concept at a time") and not the named subroutine stuff that came along in the Amiga era.

One thing LOGO brings to the table is a physicality that might be useful for some folks, just a subjective concrete sense of thing you can mentally ride along with. (Conversely, it's very plotter/line based. You can easily make a "draw circle" routine, but the noun then is a recipe, vs the circle itself as an object... so there's also no easy way of coloring something in, except for maybe a flood fill.)

"Scratch" gets a lot of attention, with the "building blocks" approach ala Lego Mindstorms, though it's been said kids might spent more time fooling around with other people's creations and funny sounds than building their own.

Going over old home computer mags for reminds me what a special era it was... having BASIC be both the door to running more advanced programs as well as something you could make your own stuff in was great. LOGO (and stuff I code up in, like Processing) is always in a walled garden of sorts, while BASIC made you feel much closer to "the metal" so to speak.

Anna Anthropy wrote ... recently, I'm reading it now. Some neighboring thoughtspace of this stuff I'm thinking about; though (roughly) her focus is more on friendlier tools as a means to the end of games and creating in general, and I see games as a means to the ends of picking up coding skills that I've found rewarding these years.
This place is definitely in the top three for view from places I've worked... probably the very top

August 27, 2014

AK aug 13 - final day ziplining and kayaking

August 27, 2013
For the final day, we decided to do a little ziplining in the morning, then Riana went on one of her vertical hikes and I took on a spot of touristy kayaking with a bunch of people from the cruise ships.

Excited for the ziplining


They also had wobbly bridges.

The whole ziplining thing was over an old failed mine, and there was still some cool hardware around.

Again, cruise ships are SO BIG.

All geared up for kayaking

Finally, a Tlingit mural in the city. I also found a Pacman Battle Royale while wandering on my own but didn't have 3 other people to play against, just a computer opponent.

"We're basically the descendants of nervous monkeys."
--Bill Duane, meditation teacher for Google, in a Wired article on the popularity of meditation and mindfulness in Silicon Valley.
"As the crickets' soft autumn hum
is to us
so are we to the trees
as are they
to the rocks and the hills."
--Gary Snyder
"My hand is able to touch things only because my hand is itself a touchable thing."
--David Abram, "The Spell of the Sensuous"
"It was as though after the demise of the ancestral, pagan gods, Western civilization’s burnt offerings had become ever more constant, more extravagant, more acrid— as though we were petitioning some unknown and slumbering power, trying to stir some vast dragon, striving to invoke some unknown or long-forgotten power that, awakening, might call us back into relation with something other than ourselves and our own designs."
--David Abram, "The Spell of the Sensuous" on our factories and vehicles constantlu pouring out their exhaust into the air

i spy spy pond

(1 comment)
August 27, 2012

Spy Pond, Arlington

Instagram's "Lo-Fi" filter is becoming my favorite. I kind of like the idea of having a signature look for this stuff, and Lo-Fi simplifies and makes thing pop a bit, allowing more focus on form and shape, which I think is more important to me, style-wise. digging this site reviewing branding/logo makeovers.


(1 comment)
August 27, 2011
The most terrifying fact of the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death - however mutable man may be able to make them - our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.
--Stanley Kubrick in his 1968 interview with Playboy via Daring Fireball
"Are you ok?"
"You were asleep all twitchy."
"I was playing rollerskate basketball with Steve Jobs. In a mall."
"As one does."

run run as fast as you can

(1 comment)
August 27, 2010

Web design folks: any statistics on typical browser widths? (as opposed to screen resolutions- people don't always run maximized...)

all you sucka djs who think you're fly

August 27, 2009

I can't even tell you how much I love Germans doing American Cowboy.

"Usborne Guide to Computer and Video Games" (in weird .cbr format- need reader, or just rename to .rar and use WinRAR) I was just thinking about this book the other day! I remember how crazy impossible the pg.40 hand-held dirtbike game seemed ("video games just don't look like that, how could you play that") but now I guess the tech is prett much there... (via )
Man, Ted Kennedy's funeral service will be happening like a block from my house. A huge loss, locally and nationally.
Random query from yesterday: cinnamon. Why does it seem so different in its gum and bagel forms?
There's a definite grace and pleasure in that initial "So what have you been up to?" exchange of Facebook messages with estranged friends.
Just got carded at TGIFriday's w/ the folks. Must be 'cause I shaved the sideburns...

nothing unreal exists. kirk israel exists.

August 27, 2008
So in yesterday's comments my mom gave me some nice feedback on my new furniture:
"Nice choice....form, function, them all!"
Though my aunt gave me the other side of her reaction to the photo, a bit truthier...
"Is his whole apartment that neat?"
My aunt just laughed. (Hey, I'm working on it!)

Convo of the Moment
I had my status set to the Star Trek IV philosophical throwaway line "Nothing Unreal Exists" (partially in response to JZ's "Everything happens")
sam: square root of negative 1 an unreal thing that exists
kirk: well, it's REALLY unreal, see
sam: this is akin to the argument that there is no cause of death that isn't natural
sam: He was decapitated. naturally, he died.
kirk: right, or there's nothing that's not "from nature", since humanity comes from nature
sam: I love that one too
sam: "I only want my kids to eat natural stuff"
sam: "Like plutonium?"
kirk: heh
kirk: only if it's freshly mined
kirk: none of that centrifuged stuff
sam: no no... only organics for me and my family.
sam: or fruitarian plutonium... the kind that falls from space.
kirk: heheheh
sam: I guarantee... you eat a good helping of plutonium, you'll be full for the rest of your life.

Slideshow of the Moment
Slate on Information Visualization, a kind of neat field of representing data in more human friendly visual forms. I've been doing some of this at work, and dig it. It's even more fun when you kind of useful bits of interactivity, rather than just generating static images (though conversely, I've seen some cases where interaction forced a lot of clicking etc, for information that maybe could have better been provided in a skimmable, "at a glance" form.)

Jeez over the past year my back bay office building has lost a hairdressers, a crappy cell store, custom framers, now the chocoateers?
Sometimes it's tough not feel weirdly elevator-smug about working on the tenth floor -- oh you work on floor six? I pity you.
katwinx Not in my building you don't! I hope. Or these elevators got some 'splainin to do! (On the other hands, those 11th floor jerks!)
It's always summer in GoogleMapsLand. Seriously, I kind of wish they had autumn or winter editions.

their faces gaunt, their eyes were blurred, their shirts all soaked with sweat

August 27, 2007
So some of the comments on yesterday's kisrael where enlightening. In particular, it led me to google up this page which leads me to believe I may have underestimated the brutality entailed.

So, if there is a part of the culture for whom this is OK, that indicates a kind of depressing cultural gap, a frightening morality chasm.

Music of the Moment
After the other week's Ghostriders reference, I found this page with dozens of versions of it, including the famous Vaughn Monroe version (which, frankly, I wasn't that crazy about) and a Spike Jones version that I have on CD that mocks Monroe a bit.

And the page is right... Johnny Cash changing "old cowpoke" to "old cowboy" is lame.

Useful Number of the Moment
Did you know about 888-5OPTOUT ? An automated system will let you opt-out of all those pre-approved credit card offers, and it's said to work fairly well. The system has some of the most advanced voice recognition software I've used. It would be nice if this stops the mail, those offers really add to the bulk of the mail I have to go through, plus I always try to be more careful in disposing of it.

Now if only I had a way to opt-out of those stupid newspaper-ish tabloid supermarket coupon fliers...

glooster? glowster? glue-sister?

August 27, 2006
Yesterday had a very pleasant afternoon at this beachhouse in Gloucester FoSO and FoSOSO have been renting. FoSO was pretty adament that no one feel constrained to do any particular damn thing, which was fine by us. Ksenia and I started walking, and after failing to navigate to the nearby beach, thought
Well, this isn't too bad for a lazy Saturday afternoon... but how can we make it even lazier?
The answer, of course... with less walking! So we got in the car (actually we made the decision consulting with the GPS in the sun-warmed car after coming in from the rather chilly outside) and drove into town.

photo from Rocky Neck Art Colony Site
On the way in we found Turtle Alley Chocolates, which had some absolutely great stuff. Especially the "Chipolte Bark", dark chocolate with hot pepper that had this wonderful burn after.

Ksenia was able to call her friend from school, local to the area, who works at a cool vintage store called Banana's. Got some nifty stuff there as well, a Hawaain Shirt, Ksenia got a dress and some shoes, that kind of thing.

The one thing is I keep forgetting how to pronounce "Gloucester", pronouncing it like "Worcester"... I just can't keep my "sounds nothing like it's spelled" New England towns straight.

at the risk of opening up a big ol' can of worms...

August 27, 2005
So yesterday I made an innapropriate remark (since largely edited out), and FoSO (living up to her moniker which stands for "Female of Strong Opinion") called me on it, and rightly so. (For the record, and I do apologize for it, I claimed I knew I was goyim (gentile, non-Jewish) because of my unwillingness to haggle, the inference perpetuating a stereotype about Jews; in googling up references I came across this blog entry that pointed out what seemed like a harmless if tasteless bit of joking can be the root of truly despicable stuff, such as providing ideological support for a German boycott of Jewish businesses in the 1930s.)

Of course, I have an unfortunate history of offending Jewish friends with my blog, mostly by stating my discontent with people assuming that my name indicates that I'm Jewish. I swear up and down it has nearly nothing to do with the risk of experiencing prejudice or the relative merits of the culture, and more of a geekly dislike of incorrect categorization. (Being categoryless is fine, but mislabling is Not Right, and I'll argue against it just like I argued on behalf of other high school students who incorrectly answered a misleading question that I got right because I had thought about it on a meta-level. Yes, I was a tremendous pain in the ass in high school, why do you ask?)

And at the risk of not heeding the ancient wisdom of "if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging"...I feel that my immediate family feels some level of connection with its Yiddish/Jewish past, even though it's several generations back and we have Protestant clergy in between...this might lead me to feel an innapropriate familarity with humor that might be ok intra-group but isn't acceptable from an outsider. Which I am, so the joke ain't funny.

It makes me wonder about humor based on stereotypes in general. On the one hand, there are a lot of downsides. People's feelings can be hurt, and if a stereotype is pervasive it might well influence people's decisions, from job hiring to how they generally treat others. It also causes people to make assumptions about others in a prejudging kind of way, which is wrong.

Conversely...well, I dunno. The old slogan is "Celebrate Diversity!", and it seems a little pollyanna to only be able to recognize the positive. "Diversity" is usually recognized as working on a cultural grouping level, not just appreciating everyone as individuals, and if people are allowed to take pride in their cultural heritage, as well as appreciate the collective accomplishments of other cultures...shouldn't we be able to admit to struggles different cultures face, problems they have, ways that their outlook always isn't helpful? (Of course its possible to make the positive view a bit ugly, like with Reggie White's infamous comments about Hispanics and the Japanese.) And if that's the case, is humor always going to be inappropriate to deal with it? I find humor to be a central, almost defining part of the human condition. Losing a sense of humor is a terrible thing.

Of course, I'm talking as a priveleged, educated, middle-class white male. There are some jokes made about "us", but not that many, and culturally speaking it seems to be an easier life than most. So it's pretty easy to say people should be less uptight about stereotypes and jokes and being PC, because I haven't had to bear the brunt of it.

flat feet

August 27, 2004
Quotes of the Moment
"If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulder of giants."
--Isaac Newton

"If I have not seen as far as others, it is because giants were standing on my shoulders."
--Hal Abelson

"In computer science, we stand on each other's feet."
--Brian K. Reed

Animation of the Moment
--this happy frolicking monster, via Bruce Sterling's Blog, but he doesn't know it's origin either. Still it's absolutely great.

UPDATE: Dan points out it's Bunchies!

Story of the Moment
"No, you don't see...this is a dream...I'm dreaming you. I'm dreaming this. All of this."

She reads the disbelief in my eyes.

"Look...I can do this, just by wanting to--" She takes one step, two, down the sidewalk, then begins a glide down its length, her feet a few inches above the concrete, her white skirt fluttering around her legs. She touches down lightly, returns.

"So?" I say, "What do you mean? What are you saying? What does it matter?"

"It''s just..." She slumps onto a bench, runs a hand across her face. "I don't want to go. I don't know if I can come back to this. But where I come from, where I really am...I need to move. Shift, in bed. I can't help it. And maybe you won't be here when I come back, if I can come back."

I join her on the bench, afraid to touch her. "It's ok. Do what you need to do."

She gives me one last look with wide, wet eyes, then leans back into the bench, eyes closed. I wait. The wind shifts, a new breeze from the east.

Her eyes open. She looks at me, smiles, stretches. She punches me in the arm, stands, takes a few running steps that skip into a glide down the sidewalk to the corner.

I follow.

upside the head

August 27, 2003
Movie of the Moment
Penguins! Thanks LAN3. (I think there's a small chance it might be faked, but it looks pretty real.)

Online Toy of the Moment
Now you can have a huge zombie attack in the comfort of your own computer, without all that tedious slime and annoying chants of "brains, brains". They're only pixels, but it's kind of cool to see a big room suddenly get thrown into a panic as a zombie wanders in.

Quote of the Moment
"I have a new trademark for Fox: Fox News Channel: 'Wholly without merit.'"
--Al Franken quoting Joe Conason's paraphrasing of the judge in the Fox vs. Al Franken suit. (Where Fox tried to stop him from using the phrase "Fair and Balanced" in the title of his book.)

funny little gaps

(1 comment)
August 27, 2002
Mo has funny little gaps in her pop-culture knowledge. For a while she thought it was Paul Simon who was in the Beatles, not Paul McCartney. Just lately she was watching What's Love Got To Do With It, (the story of Ike and Tina Turner,) and she was kind of thinking that Ike was the guy who would later go on to own Turner Broadcasting. (I wondered if by extension she thought Ike would go on to marry Jane Fonda, own the Atlanta Braves, and help save the UN, but I don't think her knowledge of Ted went that far.)

Then again it took me years to be able to pick out Kevin Bacon from a police lineup. (Needless to say, I'm pretty bad at that "6 Degrees" game.)

Medical Study of the Moment
Internet Addiction May Be Form of Stress Management. Yeah, that's why I can't stop clicking!

Article of the Moment
Salon had The Essential Worker's Lament, by one of the survivors at a bankrupt telecommunications company. Reads like a slice of Douglas Coupland.

Quote of the Moment
"I've had a pretty good lesson in human nature. It's more important to try to surround yourself with people who can give you a little happiness, because you only pass through this life once, Jack. You don't come back for an encore."
--Elvis Presley

lights out, uh-huh

August 27, 2001
'Blackhole' Puzzle

include diag.

I found this javascript puzzle I made last year. The goal is to get all the stars 'unlit'. I think; the goal might also be to get all the stars lit, but that's pretty easy. The 3x3 version of this game (you can change the size of the grid with the select box) is pretty trivial. To be honest, I'm not positive the center star -> none game is possible; after 20 minutes of fiddling with it I didn't find the solution. Anyway, assuming you do solve it, you can use the "Random" button to come up with a new puzzle, or see if it's any different if you include the diagonals in. It's kind of fun to play with in any case, messing with the symmetry and asymetry of it.
KHftCEA 1999-08.5 August

KHftCEA 1999-08.5 August

"Life is right in any case."
--film "Kama Sutra"
I've sort of volunteered to help with the (simple) web presence of Grolier Poetry Bookshop. Either I'm being gullible now (because of her nice words about Peter Richards) or this place is more important than I realised before.

< retrospect: 27 aug >