Electric Light Orchestra 2018

Had a blast with Miles last night at Jeff Lynne’s Electric Light Orchestra – his first stadium show, and it was a good one! A dozen musicians on stage, including two cellos and violin. Impeccable craftsmanship, no slippage in quality with the accumulated years – they hit every mark. Stellar acoustics, and possibly the best light show I’ve ever seen (an orchestra of electric light?) Lynne seems never to age. I mean seriously – check out pictures of him from 1971 and today! Highlights for me: Telephone Line, Evil Woman (“Medieval Woman?”), Turn to Stone, Mr. Blue Sky (can’t miss), 10538 Overture. Byzantine art-rock, baby. Sorely disappointed we didn’t get to hear my personal favorite, “Jungle” – gots to have that vibraslap!


Whazzup‽ When “the interrobang” was introduced in 1962, virtually no typewriters or printing presses supported new glyphs, so it didn’t get traction. These days, almost everything you read supports a huge amount of glyph flexibility thanks to Unicode (emoji, right?).

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to type an interrobang – unless you’re a super-nerd, you have to copy/paste them into your text. Same with a ton of other crazy glyphs that are probably supported by the font you’re using right now but not by the keyboard you’re typing on. IOTW we can see a lot more characters than we can type. You’re stuck (though fortunately you have easy access to the #octothorpe). Excellent episode of 99% Invisible:

Interrobang – 99% Invisible

Interrobang – 99% Invisible

In the beginning was the word, and the word was … well, actually, there was just one word … one long, endless word. For thousands of years, in some written languages, there was no space between words. People were expected figure out sentences and clauses while reading aloud. Scriptio continua was the dominant form of

Source: 99percentinvisible.org/episode/interrobang/

The Fireplace Delusion

Very good analogy. TLDR; When you go up against things that bring people comfort, no matter how reasonable or factual your arguments may be, be prepared to meet The Clenched Fists of Entrenchment.

The Fireplace Delusion | Sam Harris

The Fireplace Delusion | Sam Harris

It seems to me that many nonbelievers have forgotten—or never knew—what it is like to suffer an unhappy collision with scientific rationality. We are open to good evidence and sound argument as a matter of principle, and are generally willing to follow wherever they may lead. Certain of us have made careers out of bemoaning … Continued

Source: samharris.org/the-fireplace-delusion/




Tardigrade Non-Invincibility

Tardigrades, aka Waterbears, aka “Moss Piglets” (I just learned that third term while traveling in Iceland) are usually referred to as basically immortal, since they are pretty much resistant to heat, freezing, radiation, and the vacuum of space. Incredible creature, and cute too, but there’s a perception problem:

Virtually every article you read or video you see about them plays up their indestructibility without recognizing that they’re totally destructible! They’re endoskeletal but with a soft shell, which means they’re basically resistant to everything except the things that would actually kill them. In the real world, tardigrades are eaten by the millions by crabs, shrimps, slugs, snails, mites, spiders, insects, and other waterbears.

The moss piglet species strategy seems to be “Who cares about the short-term survival of most of us, as long as some of us can stick around through WWIII or the next catastrophic asteroid impact?”

Thanks TierZoo (and Milezinator for bringing this to my attention):

Who Is America?

Mind reeling watching Sacha Baron-Cohen’s “Who Is America?” The things Americans and their politicians are willing to say and do on camera when they feel like they’re talking to someone sympathetic to their cause…. Dick Cheney signing a waterboard. A woman from The Bachelor claiming to have saved 6,000 lives in Sierra-Leone by “just being nice” to a warlord. Congresscritters actively promoting the “Kinderguardian” program to arm toddlers in American schools, or to scream the N-word and push a bare butt up against people in burkhas to “make the terrorists homosexual.”

It goes on and on, until you’re dumbfounded. Amazing how one “victim” after another tries to defend themselves by claiming they were “duped” … as in duped into saying what they really think. The depths of American idiocy and evil Cohen is uprooting here is equal parts brilliant and horrific.

If you aren’t a liberal when you’re young…

Grandfather and uncle said to me when I was young “If you aren’t a liberal when you’re young, you have no heart, but if you aren’t a middle-aged conservative, you have no head.” But that’s not what I’ve seen or experienced. What I’ve seen is that if people rigidify their beliefs as they age, they become more conservative. If they continue to learn and absorb, they become more liberal. How does your experience compare?

University CompSci Plagiarism

I’ve worked really hard on django-todo over the years, so was very dismayed to receive email recently from a CompSci student at the University of Western Australia informing me that the department had taken the django-todo source code, removed the license file and all attribution, and included its code in one of their assignments.

Of course I’m all for open source software being used for educational purposes, and would have been honored and pleased if they had done this in an OSS-respecting manner, but they chose to take the legally shady route instead, and to leave students with the impression that this was their original code. This is not how we educate students to become productive, respectful members of the open source software world.

The offending distribution is linked to from the CITS5501 Software Testing and Quality Assurance page – download the file cits5501-project-v2.zip.

I do hope the university takes some form of disciplinary action against the professor, who obviously knows better. And I hope the professor does the right thing. In case it’s not clear what “the right thing” is, I’ll spell it out: Restore the license file, and restore attribution from the files you removed it from. Better yet, save yourself a bunch of work and don’t include a copy of the software in your assignment download at all – just link to the github repo! That’s what it’s there for.

Iceland 2018

Just returned from an incredible two weeks with family in Iceland. We drove Route 1 (“the ring road”) around the island-continent, and found geothermal awesomeness around every corner. Truly, Iceland must rank as one of the most consistently photogenic places on earth.

Before leaving, I had come across this sigur rós album, where each track is a coordinate on the earth’s surface. I copy/pasted some of the track titles into Google Maps, and found that each track is “about” a specific point on the Ring Road. We did our best to visit the points we could, and each time pulled over for some Deep Listening.

Rather than recount the whole incredible journey in words, thought I’d share this Flickr set containing some of the best images I shot on the trip.

Black sands beach

Flickr set

Mountain Biking at Lone Oak with Temmo

Wanted to share the mountain biking route I usually do with Temmo the Dog — this is our three-mile, three-trail loop in the El Cerrito hills (350 ft climb, max speed 20 mph). First couple of minutes are the slower climb, then the real fun starts. Temmo makes a couple of friends along the way, and we both get our ya-yas out. 30 mins edited down to seven.  Ride with us!