kirk.is | last weeks

August 29, 2016

When Boston Dynamics adds a cussing module to their bots... (suitably bleep-ed out, which kind of makes it funnier) - literal laugh out loud funny.


"Finally, sustaining me through the long, lonely nights here with consoling memories of love, support, companionship and shouting is the precious image of Margaret. If I could have only one thing from my lost life with me on this island, it would be pizza. But, if I could have two, then the other one would be Margaret."
--Mil "Things My Girlfriend and I have Argued About" Millington, from the Acknowledgements of "Instructions for Living Someone Else's Life.

August 28, 2016


I'm not making such a social media deal out of it, but I got an addition to my tattoo yesterday, using this program to help create the banner. The text, "This Fate", is a rough paraphrase of Amor Fati (I think I prefer sticking to my own language for body art.) THIS fate. This circumstance, because no other fate or circumstances exist. Accepting that and loving what is, either the less lovable parts, is part of being a better human; and when we aren't making ourselves unhappy about how things aren't, we have more room to strive for improving the might be.
@ The Worcester Palladium, going to see Thomas Sanders

August 27, 2016

Note to a Four Year Old Past Self:
"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.
Final Supper Mario Broth tidbit:

"This Kong with a hat was featured heavily in early Donkey Kong Land art - without name or explanation - and then was dropped once the game came out. He remains a mystery."
"Batman only fights crime at night because otherwise he would have weird and obvious tan lines."
--Krutzfeldt1

August 26, 2016

Final selections from Supper Mario Broth...


They had a bunch of these 4-panel manga, I like the timing of them, and the wistful mood of this one. (And also one of the things I like less in video games, when they are set in a microworld clearly constructed just for this one play through.)


Pre 9/11 images of destruction of the WTC towers are always a bit jarring. (Actually, any reference to them. 2 towers were definitely better than 1, shadow-wise and in terms of being iconic.)


Thanks Wario!


I've always been intrigued by Samantha Mathis' dress in the Super Mario Brothers Movie, the way it shifts from plum to white.

BONUS: Kotaku had a cool page on Nintendo references including colors, relative sizes, and this rule on Mario:

Mario is Tolerant

He'll accept anyone or anything at face value. He treats anyone and anything with dignity and respect. He has seen too many things in his travels to be narrow-minded.


"The pencil is mightier than the pen."
--Robert Pirsig. I just finished his second book, "Lila: An Inquiry into Morals". While "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" made a path through through reconciling Western classical vs romantic analysis to a singular Tao-like sense of "Quality", this one describes a struggle of Static Patterns (roughly, what's known to work) vs Dynamic Patterns (the boundary pushing into new spaces). He also claims all static patterns of value can be divided into a hierarchy of inorganic, biologic, social, and intellectual - each level depends on the stability of the preceding one. I'm not sure if I have full buy-in but his exploration of the concepts speaks to arguments I have with some of my friends; I see them as rather reactionary, they see me as a bit hippy-dippy, but in some ways its their concern with the social patterns and preserving that base vs my interest in boundaries and finding out where we can go.
"Western New York combines the brains of the South, the culture of the Midwest, the hospitality of New England and the climate of Hoth."
--Nolan on Deadspin's Why Your Team Sucks 2016: Buffalo Bills.
What Reality are Trump People Living In? This is more nuanced and interesting than some earlier work on how Conservatives have a stronger "disgust" reaction, or even my view of everyone has a circle of empathy, and the liberal impulse is to expand it so you have more people on your side, and the conservative impulse is to retract it so as to keep potential cheaters out.
Liz and I are Going to see this guy Sunday in Worcester:

August 25, 2016

More from Supper Mario Broth - animations.


from Mario Pinball


from the old "Saturday Supercade" cartoon I think. Confession: I dressed up like Donkey Kong Jr for halloween one year.


from Super Mario Kart


From DK: King of Swing


From DK: King of Swing

August 24, 2016

More from Supper Mario Broth - the many cross-platform faces of Donkey Kong...





It reminds me a bit of these 2600 animations I made way back when
"And there is another, subtler reason you might find yourself convinced that things are getting worse and worse, which is that our expectations outpace reality. That is, things do improve – but we raise our expectations for how much better they ought to be at a faster rate, creating the illusion that progress has gone into reverse."
--Oliver Burkeman
"The answer is that life is really, really good. I am a complex enough being that I can hold in my heart the understanding that we are really, really fucked, and at the same time that life is really, really good. I am full of rage, sorrow, joy, love, hate, despair, happiness, dissatisfaction, and a thousand other feelings. We are really fucked. Life is still really good."
--Derrick Jensen
(Both of those last quotes from The Guardian's How to stay happy when the sky is falling in.)

August 23, 2016

Dieting and Weight Talk Are Bad for All Adolescents, Says American Academy of Pediatrics Ugh. My usual approach in talking with young people is, you know, just talking with them, kind of as a adults, and trying to take their point of view, and admitting what sucks but then discussing what you can do about it. Sounds like that kind of straightforward talk might be counter-productive about weight, which is an issue near to my heart because I have worked out strategies that more or less work for me but it's still a grind. Gotta be careful with not advising kids I play an avuncular role with, probably especially the females.
More from Supper Mario Broth: I've always liked when the games play with the logos and iconography of their characters...







"Clouds are a glimpse into the mighty power of fluid dynamics, complicated equations made real and actual and gorgeous, painted across the sky."
--Phil Plait

August 22, 2016

One of my new favorite blogs is Supper Mario Broth. Besides the awesome name and header image of the famous brothers eating soup, it has a great range of Nintendo ephemera and lately details about glitches and "behind the scenes" various 3D Mario games use. (2D pixel games are generally too flat to have much behind the scenes, so to speak.)

Anyway, with Mario handing things off Olympic-wise (and my own month long "Best Of" Photos series done) what better time to start a week or so showing off the stuff I liked most when I did a deep backlog dive last month or so.

Today's topic: the many faces of Donkey Kong...













"Diamond rings are basically pet rocks."
--Yavin4ya

August 21, 2016

I know it's old news but I hadn't thought about Trumps "2nd Amendment People" joke and Yitzhak Rabin's assassination; words matter. (Of course, it goes the villainization has gone both ways, and Trump had his would be assassin as well, but at least there the jokey suggestions aren't coming from the top.)
Starring the Computer is a delightfully nerdy survey of real world computers showing up in various shows and movies. (From this article about a guy who made a replica of the Burroughs B205, as seen in Lost in Space, Batman, and elsewhere)

I missed this Usain Bolt Photo but it's brilliant. via
The History of the Pencil. Man is that top of the image page mesmerizing!

August 20, 2016

"I can say with some certainty that the most beautiful sound I know is the wobbly clink of a dinged-up air-hockey puck dropping into goal." --Amanda Petrusich in praise of Air Hockey - and Funspot!

August 19, 2016

I wasn't sure how much tourist time I'd get in Ireland during AOL #DevFest2016, but a 2 hour walking tour on Thursday, ending at the AOL office and with a great guide Sean of LetzGo City Tours showed us quite a lot in the two or so hours we had.

One claim to fame of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland where we had the 'Fest was: Napoleon's Toothbrush!

I also liked this mounted table top, carved with people's names, presumably students?


Detail - I like some of the typefaces some of them used.


After conference Wednesday was dinner The Guinness Storehouse... the industrial scale inside is impressive. They also have a "learn to pour the perfect pint" certificate class. Can I put this on my Linked In?


Atop the storehouse is "The Gravity Bar" with a great panorama view of Dublin - probably cooler in the daytime?


Can I say, most Americans become big fans of the toilet stalls that are actually little rooms? USA stalls with their gaps and what not must seem awfully low-rent to Europeans.


@ Trinity College, first big stop for the walking tour.


Trinity College.


Alleyway, festive for the upcoming Galway and Tipperary football match


It's the centennial of the Easter Rising, an important time for Irish Independence.


Dublin Castle.


Dublin Castle has an interesting mishmash of styles on this wall!


It's worth reading up on the The Statue of Justice (mark well her station / her face to the castle / and her arse to the nation) but my photo of her companion came out better.


Detail from grounds of a viking house remnant. Before this trip I had no idea about the Viking influence in the culture. (Or the Spanish, "Black Irish"/"Northern Spaniards" connection, as our guide Sean put it.)


Castle and Linens.


View down the River Liffey.


Oh, Ireland. :-(


Well, Ireland maybe there will be hope for you yet.


The fortress of Guinness!


Panorama from AOL Dublin. On the left is the Royal Hospital Kilmainham and grounds, Phoenix Park (Europe's largest) and the Wellington Monument on the right... take that tooth, Napoleon's Toothbrush!


Can I just say, this Gas is $5.24 by my calculations. I know the USA is a larger country, but how would we be if our gas prices were anywhere near there?


More Viking Love.


The Science Gallery had an exhibit "Seeing: What Are You Looking At?". I disagree with most of this poster, except maybe the ending. Seeing is pretty awesome, and a remarkably detailed way of putting together a view of the world, though like the poster says, it's easy to mistake the map for the territory.


This piece was cool, sounds from the speakers, and screens that seemed empty until you used the maginifying-glass like filters to see the animation.


Piece by The Oakes Twins, they draw on concave paper.


Finally, even the men's room sink was cool at this place.



I know I'm being dense but I don't get the graphical message here. The text is implying things are cheap here (~$4.70 for a small bottle of soda not withstanding) but unless they're making a really bold claim about relative currency evaluations, it doesn't make a lot of sense? how do I parse this?
I think that the pain in the ass factor of our customs and immigration process relative to other wealthy democracies says loads. and not in the USA's favor. It's not that we're THAT much more popular, we're just a big old C.Y.A. nation.

August 18, 2016

"We take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world."
--Robert Pirsig, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"
"Holy wars are not fought over [Hinduism and Buddhism and Taoism] because verbalized statements about reality are never presumed to be reality itself."
--Robert Pirsig, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"
"You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it's going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it's always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt."
--Robert Pirsig, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"
"'Peace of mind isn't at all superficial, really. It's the whole thing. That which produces it is good maintenance; that which disturbs it is poor maintenance. What we call workability of the machine is just an objectification of this peace of mind. The ultimate test's always your own serenity. If you don't have this when you start and maintain it while you're working you're likely to build your personal problems right into the machine itself.'"
--Robert Pirsig, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"
"What you have to do, if you get caught in this gumption trap of value rigidity, is slow down-- you're going to have to slow down anyway whether you want to or not-- but slow down deliberately and go over ground that you've been over before to see if the things you thought were important were really important and to... well... just stare at the machine. There's nothing wrong with that. Just live with it for a while. Watch it the way you watch a line when fishing and before long, as sure as you live, you'll get a little nibble, a little fact asking in a timid, humble way if you're interested in it. That's the way the world keeps on happening. Be interested in it."
--Robert Pirsig, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". I have to admit, this passage was usefully timed in my reread; it's very applicable to software debugging.
"The next one is important. It's the internal gumption trap of ego. Ego isn't entirely separate from value rigidity but one of the many causes of it. If you have a high evaluation of yourself then your ability to recognize new facts is weakened. Your ego isolates you from the Quality reality. When the facts show that you've just goofed, you're not as likely to admit it. When false information makes you look good, you're likely to believe it. On any mechanical repair job ego comes in for rough treatment."
--Robert Pirsig, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". "Gumption Traps" are willpower dampers. Unfortunately soon after he states "Anxiety, the next gumption trap, is sort of the opposite of ego." which means he's not thinking of the ego-protecting anxiety produced by having a "Fixed Mindset"... we get anxious because we want to protect our delicate egos.
"The hippies had in mind something that they wanted, and were calling it 'freedom,' but in the final analysis 'freedom' is a purely negative goal. It just says something is bad. Hippies weren't really offering any alternatives other than colorful short-term ones, and some of these were looking more and more like pure degeneracy. Degeneracy can be fun but it's hard to keep up as a serious lifetime occupation."
--Robert Pirsig, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"

August 17, 2016

AOL #DefFest2016 in Ireland...


A silver lining to my wonky flight schedule including a layover in Germany was having enough time for an ice cream treat with Veronika and Volker and the kinder... I admired the design of the ice cream float spoon, that can perch on the edge of the glass...


I'm resigned to not getting a lot of touring in, but after I got to the hotel I walked around a bit.


St. Stephen's Green. There were a ton of young folks lying around. I asked what the special event was, but turns out nothing more than a particularly nice day!


Later I realized we were near enough Trinity College that it might be some connection to that, kind of like a virtual quad.


I found this herd of Pokemon Go players, though...


Stopped at a tiny pub. Like 4 or 5 lines of Guinness and a big variety of whisky on the shelf behind.


I just like the sentiment - gum on the sidewalk is a fantastic way of ruining someone's afternoon.


Dublin architecture and shadows.


View from the hotel's gym room.


It took an embarrassingly long time for me to realize that room 615 was to the right. I blamed being tired but really it was writing the range backwards that confused me


Sand Sculpture on - Dawson Street, I think? Tuesday evening.

August 16, 2016

Hello from Ireland!
Rudy Giuliani: "Under those eight years before Obama came along, we didn't have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States. They all started when (Hillary) Clinton and Obama got into office" Between this and "Obama founded ISIS", Republicans are deciding to double down on Big Brother-esque rewriting of history.
The next level: Zapp Branigan READS those Trump Quotes