Self Wright

Month: August 2021

The Ring (completed)

I had mentioned earlier about the graphic novel I was reading.

I finished reading it in a week (would’ve read it in less than a day, but these days I have to “chunk everything up”).

The story towards the end was a bit “huh? cmon!” for me, but the overall effect was powerful.

Two-page spread for the scene where Siegfried breaks Wotan’s spear.

The appendix mentions how the panels were sometimes segmented to correspond to motifs in the operatic score, which I thought was a neat concept, a sort of synesthetic effect.

This comic series won the Eisner award twenty years ago, but P. Craig Russell has other similar works, and I know I need to read more of them!

Understanding Art, lol

Came across this randomly today when my daughter said “did you know Fluttershy is secretly an artist?” and showed me this.

“… the symbolism inherent in the chaotic juxtaposition of my cutie mark melded into a transformative spiral representing the process of personal maturation as experienced by an introverted artisan …”

I can’t even.

The Ring

I hadn’t been to the library “proper” for over two years.

It had been closed for over a year.

It opened earlier a few months ago, and we have been going once every six weeks or so, since then.

I go with my daughter and end up spending all our time in the kids’ section.

I finally ventured in the regular area, just before checking out and leaving, giving myself a few minutes to look and return.

The graphic novel section was one of the three or four possible places within a two-minute radius, and I headed there.

By one of those strange acts of serendipity, I was led to a single book there, “The Ring of Nibelung”.

Wait, I thought, that one?

I should mention I was only vaguely aware of this before picking it up. I knew of the opera, but no specifics.

My closest exposure, as I expect it to be for others too, was to have come across The ride of the Valkyries by way of Apocalypse Now.

I’ve read the first odd-dozen pages now, and … this is amazing.

More than the story itself, I see echoes, in terms of names, and scenes and themes, which remind me of that other epic saga, The Lord of the Rings.

I have no way of judging how closely this hews to the original, but such a chasm of time separates each of these works!

  • I am reading this today, in the year 2021.
  • The graphic novel was first published as a comic series about two decades ago, in 2000.

It’s good stuff 🙂

Monthly recap (Jul 2021)

A butterfly in the backyard

Major updates

  • Week-long trip to Gualala
    • Airbnb
    • included a Foosball table that we used a lot
    • time at the beach
    • an old record player that … only briefly worked
  • 1-night stay to Asilomar
    • Visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • Bunch of other “visits after a long time” (Covid milestones)
    • Visited the “mini Legoland” in Milpitas
    • A first movie-in-the-theater experience (after perhaps two years?)
    • Visited the library

Minor updates

  • Completed a bunch of patio work — and we now have a hammock
  • A butterfly (“painted lady”) hatched from a cocoon that Tara brought back from school
  • Got a HomePod Mini (quite satisfied so far)
  • Discovered new restaurant downtown Mountain View: Kakaroto
  • Another birthday went by 😐
  • Bit of “appliance hiccup” when the dishwasher and the fridge stopped working on the same day
  • Bunch of camps for Tara

Watched/read/played/made

  • A lot of Harry Potter
    • Watched Chamber of Secrets with Tara
    • Listened to the audiobook of Soceror’s Stone with Tara
  • Listened to the audiobook of Idea of the World (Bernardo Kastrup)

Random post #743447

Came across this article from six years ago, on the hilarity, or seriousness, and the need, or abuse, of “emotional support animals”.

The author managed to get an exemption for carrying around a turtle (“Turtle“), and a snake (“Augustus“), a turkey (“Henry“), an alpaca (“Sorpresa“), and a pig (“Daphne“) everywhere, just to show how.

Reflecting on whether it is reasonable to be this inclusive of man’s best friends, I called the Australian philosopher and ethicist Peter Singer, who is best known for his book “Animal Liberation,” which makes a utilitarian argument for respecting the welfare and minimizing the suffering of all sentient beings.

Singer takes a dim view of the emotional-support-animal craze. “Animals can get as depressed as people do,” he said, so “there is sometimes an issue about how well people with mental illnesses can look after their animals.” He went on, “If it’s really so difficult for you to be without your animal, maybe you don’t need to go to that restaurant or to the Frick Museum. ”

During check-in, the ticket agent, looking up to ask my final destination, did a double take.

She said, “Oh . . . have you checked with . . . I don’t think JetBlue allows . . .”

“Give me one second,” the agent said, picking up the phone. “I’m checking with my supervisor.” (Speaking into phone: “Yes, with a pig . . . yeah, yeah . . . in a stroller.”) The agent hung up and printed out boarding passes for me and the pig’s owner, Sophie Wolf.

“I didn’t want to make a mistake,” he said. “If there’s a problem, Verna, at the gate, will help you. Does she run fast?”

I’m pleased to report that passing through security with a pig in your arms is easier than doing so without one: you get to keep your shoes on and skip the full-body scanner.

I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t read it (and seen the accompanying pictures).

Of course, this was six long years ago, and I’m sure this must feel quite normal now for everyone.

P.S. couldn’t come up with a title for this post, and http://www.randomnumbergenerator.com helped out.

Fantastic Fungi

I saw a poster for Fantastic Fungi somewhere (can’t remember where now) last year, and since I’d just seen The Hidden Life of Trees, I was immediately curious.

I found https://fantasticfungi.com, but at the time, it wasn’t available to stream anywhere or even buy, and I had to watch it on my laptop.

Got this update today

The Mycelial Mothership has landed! Fantastic Fungi is now on Netflix! It’s time for mushrooms to come up from the underground and into the mainstream! When so many are struggling for connection, inspiration, and hope, Fantastic Fungi brings us together as interconnected creators of our world. Watch it today!

It covers a lot of ground, and not all of it is equally entertaining or informative, but seeing how fungi are these ancient ancestors, and how they intermediate between plants and animals, nearly controlling them (!) … was quite the revelation.

It’s available on Netflix now, so … go watch it!

Generally interesting links – Jul 2021

History

  • Stone age art “in a new light”

    Torches work best on the move, as their flames need motion to stay lit and produce a lot of smoke. Though torches cast a wide glow, they burn for an average of just 41 minutes, the team found. That suggests several torches would have been needed to travel through caves. Concave stone lamps filled with animal fat, on the other hand, are smokeless and can offer more than an hour of focused, candlelike light. That would have made it easy to stay in one spot for a while. And while fireplaces produce a lot of light, they can also produce a lot of smoke. That type of light source is best suited for large spaces that get plenty of airflow, the researchers say.

Science

  • “What Termites and cells have in common”

    … created a life-like proto-cell energized by chemical potential, which is capable of translating external signals into shape changes in dependence on its own self-organized morphology. With this, the team has revealed how the collective dynamics of nanometer-sized macromolecules self-organize into micrometer patterns that affect the cellular perception of shape-changing extracellular cues in our own cells.

Tech

  • Gartner looking back on their predictions for past hype cycles
    • ‌The most hyped technology in 1995 was Intelligent Agents
    • ‌I think of the Gartner Hype Cycle as a Hero’s Journey for technologies. And just like the hero’s journey, the Hype Cycle is a compelling narrative structure.
    • Missed big trends like “x86 virtualization” and “Open Source” (!!) and NoSQL

Tools

Commentary

  • Andrew Sullivan on the “turn against liberalism” (as an old Obama fan, I find myself agreeing … and as someone who also lived in New York around the same time (the Bloomberg era), I find myself agreeing with this take on Eric Adams)
  • Looking back at an old pessemistic study
  • Slavoj Zizek on how we’re in a pre-WW1 time

Software engineering

  • The “IDE divide
    • language features vs tool features
    • Another view (had to track this down, since it was a broken link that wasn’t captured by archive.org either)
    • Further digression, into a meta-view:

      “There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t”.

    • Anyway, like all such divides, the final answer to “which one” is “both”
  • A look ahead at computing performance by Brendan Gregg
  • On “Portable and stable software”

Computing

On the “unix philosophy”

There’s this talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ea3pkTCYx4

There’s this blogpost about an aspect of the talk: https://blog.deref.io/unix-and-microservice-platforms/

There’s this discussion on the blogpost about the talk: https://lobste.rs/s/mjo19d/unix_microservice_platforms#c_mleswe

And then there’s this post, about a comment (by @andyc, or as I think about him, “the oil-shell person“) about the blogpost about the talk, which, by being the third derivative, should be that much smaller.

So I’ll just highlight the reframing of “unix philosophy” into this one-liner

Semi-structured text streams, complemented by regexes/grammars to recover structure

And the contrast between

data-centric rather than code-centric

and

protocol-centric, not service-centric

A poetic paradox

Caveat: I like poemhunter.com, but it’s extremely ad-riddled, and the only way it’s tolerable to me any more is in “reader-mode” that strips out all the distracting fluff.

I read random poems, and I recently came across this one.

A phrase from it seems relevant to a certain current in our times:

And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs, 

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