Category Archives: Gimcrackery

Nonsense. Bunk. Leftovers. However you want to call it. These posts usually cover my nichijou.

2018-01-05

I just popped out a piece of imagery so vivid that I feel the need to double-up from writing it down on paper to cross-posting it here. This isn’t even the Oscar Isaac on ice thing, this is just me ranting to myself (as I have for a while now)…

My very first mistake was not communicating about [that thing] in a calm and adult manner. It’s very well to blame her for coming up with such a demeaning pet name for me, but it’s my duty to cast off burdens which are not mine to bear (like that).

In the end, she stopped. So that was good. But only good insofar as it would be good if your visibly zoosadistic first cousin once removed stops killing weasels in your back garden. It’s an improvement, to be sure, but more work is yet to be done.

I don’t have any weird cousins (much less weird first cousins once removed). But now that I know how the “removal” deal works, I love bandying it about like a baguette sword.

J39M

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Some scattered thoughts on TLJ

I just saw The Last Jedi and I really want to scrawl some random stuff down.

Here’s an unpopular shot across your bow: I’m in love. I have a new favorite Star Wars film.

Spoilers follow. Please stop.

Spoilers follow. Please stop.

Spoilers follow. Please stop.

Actual spoilers follow. Please stop!

“We are what they grow beyond.”

In that vein, deposition is a often necessary component of growth. It’s not abrupt or necessarily bad storytelling (though we can quibble about the execution) – but unseating a chrome dome, slicing a wrinkly birthday cake, and briefly failing to emulate the crew on the HMS Bounty are all characters striking toward something greater.

One exception lingers – our favorite, in search of a parent or two, now having lost what she briefly gained. As exemplified in the cave, though, her greatest struggle is within. She remains unable to do away with her fascination with who she is. She’s not unlike that one punk-ass bitch (was his name Matt?) in this. Her greatest trial is something that is yet to be shown on screen.

The Last Jedi is the first Star Wars film in which I genuinely (and surprisingly) didn’t care at all about the tech. Bio-hexacrypt? Hand-wave it away. Miniature Death Star tech? Another big Maltese Falcon. I seriously don’t give a shit – not in the negative way, but in the sense that I’m going to turn my ears off if somebody’s going to complain about the tech, because to my mind, they are missing the point. Nobody ever read Matthew 4:1 and said “Oh for fuck’s sake, another story of venturing into the wilderness? What a lazy rehash of Exodus 13:18.” I grant you that Starkiller Base was not the best-executed device, but the key point is the same. So it is with the huge battering ram cannon.

To me, Star Wars has always been the following:

  • Egalitarian escapism
  • Opera buffa (of the highest form – no slight to Johnny)
  • Cyclical in nature
  • A story about people coming into themselves

So I think I would only be mildly annoyed of our good JJ undoes Rey Random’s lineage – but I could get over that. Other than that, I see no real constraints on how IX will progress.

Bravo!

J39M

Get Elon on Azraq and Zaatari!

I remain deeply skeptical and resentful of the Christian Science Monitor for their questionably technical infrastructure and for their abjectly miserable support staff. (I sincerely hope I never have to straighten out anything with either one ever again lest I go jump in a lake.)

That said, I’m also easily distracted and almost as easily placated. The December 5 edition of the Monitor Daily is the best pick-me-up I’ve experienced in a long time. The gorgeous picture of Joseph, Moreblessing, and Meryl Mutsakani is the most beautiful photo I’ve seen all year. Their story is compellingly told and (probably unjustifiably) fills my heart with hope for Zimbabwe. If ever I were to be hoodwinked by emotional journalism, I’d at least want it to be written like this.

Further down, it pains me to read again about the Syrian refugee crisis, but the sudden solar deus ex machina brightens up my day. It’s especially gratifying to see no celebrity appeal in the article; the easiest and flashiest path would have been to consult SolarCity and Elon Musk on how to power the Azraq and Zaatari camps. The UN – perhaps not intentionally – casually showed the wider application and utility of solar power by turning instead to the IKEA Foundation and to the KfW. In the wider context of renewable energy, this is a modest proof that solar power isn’t just a Silicon-fueled conspiracy. If it can provide serviceable power to a refugee camp, it can provide for just about anything.

J39M

Dvorak and your home row

It occurs to me that I learned all the important keybindings in my life on Dvorak.

This means that hjkl in vim are 75% not in my home row. J and K are within reach of the left hand (and conveniently next to each other, thank goodness). While H lies right under my right index finger at rest, L is a slight stretch to the top with my right ring finger (P on standard QWERTY). Life with vim and other vim-like tools is a daily awkward keyboard etude.

It’s occurred to me several times before that I could rebind these keys (and relearn them all) so that I wouldn’t have to think so hard when I drive other people’s machines and have to type like a blundering idiot. The main reason why I don’t do so is that I prize being able to meaningfully echo my own inputs back to myself in my mind. Deleting a line sounds like “deedee.” “Good game” takes me to the top of the file; “GEE” drops me to the bottom. “Control – deedeedeedeedee” takes me on a leisurely stroll down the text. This sense of control allows me to constantly remind myself how to use vim rather than rely solely on muscle memory. Then I invert ordering of mental sounding to keyboard input: I say to myself “jay jay” and use that to override my hands to tap “J” with my right index finger. “Deedee” is done with my left middle finger (when usually it looks like “hh” by my outstretched right index finger).

Re-derivation in the moment is a moderately useful skill that I like to cultivate even for useless things like this.

J39M

Mistake of the day: pyinotify

I’m rewriting an old application. The next-gen evolution here is that instead of a time-based loop, I’m rewiring the flow of execution to take cues via pyinotify. (I was terribly proud of calculating the average song length in my library and using that to decide the loop timing.)

I followed the example code and read the documentation. I found that the key takeaways were

  1. I was to use WatchManager.add_watch to monitor my file. In this case, that’s ~/.quodlibet/current. The documentation clearly states that files and directories both are watchable – though the tutorials only seemed to cover directories.
  2. I watched for the event pyinotify.IN_MODIFY – because I would be waiting for a file modification.

When I tried a dummy run just to see things in action, the event process was triggered as expected. However, processing had fallen through to the “default” event – not IN_MODIFY as I wanted. To make matters worse, no further events were ever seen again (even when they should have happened). I was only getting the one event – and the wrong event, at that.

There’s no head-scratching here. When I added some more verbosity, my gross mistake became very clear. The process of changing ~/.quodlibet/current is to write the new one out to a tempfile and then swap it into the “real” current file. This is two(-ish) events in ~/.quodlibet, and neither of them is a modify to ~/.quodlibet/current.

EDIT: I think the once-off happens because your watch is invalidated. When the tempfile clobbers ~/.quodlibet/current, the underlying file is no more – so you’re watching a ghost whose name was already usurped on the filesystem.

The correct approach is to watch ~/.quodlibet and match on the exact file being reported in the event fire.

J39M

I appreciate blunt friends

I have as of late been moaning and whining incessantly at 2 very blunt friends of mine. The moaning and whining arises from a personal crisis that requires honesty and pragmatism to quell (and possibly address). Some friends I confided in erred on the side of consideration and immediate kindness. I appreciate that – but the wounds within continue festering.

The bluntness is like a sudden splash of cold water, like the shock you get when you drop off the boat thinking that Hawaiian water is warm. In ordinary conversation, it might seem like “well, not really what I was looking for,” but it is a necessary thing that I ultimately look fondly back at.

Bruce rattled the fence as he clambered up. He lithely made his way down, turning right at the corner peach tree, continuing to the grimy bathroom window, and hanging a final left into the homeward stretch.

Bruce stopped. Home was supposed to be here, just off the fence. This was not home.

He paused. He turned in place (an impressive feat even with his feline grace) and retraced his steps – right, past a spotless bathroom window, and left at the apricot tree. Bruce’s nose perked up. He had passed here only moments before, but none of his scent lingered. It was as though he had never been here.

Unnerved, he turned again, one paw slipping audibly on the usually steady fence. Right at the lemon tree, past the blank wall, and left to the home fence. Nothing. A nondescript backyard, not very tidily swept – definitely not Bruce’s home.

Bruce did not turn around again. He continued down the fence. If he was lost, he could always find his way home from the neighborhood streets he knew best. He passed the four-way at the juncture of houses and continued on, eager to hop off the fence.

But the street was not ahead. He came instead to another four-way fence meet-up. Bruce turned left. He must have been accidentally running parallel to the street.

Five fence intersections later, Bruce was still lost and increasingly unsure why all the houses here formed a perfect grid with no egress to the street. Stranger still was the unnatural calm. There were far fewer crickets than August usually provided. Every single house was dark, even though it was scarcely an hour after sundown. Bruce hadn’t run into another living thing – not even a pesky dog to taunt.

Bruce bent and made to drop off the fence.

He froze immediately and couldn’t move. Waves of foreboding crashed over him. The yard, sparsely planted and somewhat unkempt, leered malevolently at him. Bruce knew that he absolutely could not stray from the safety of the fence.

Bruce slowly straightened up.

Meow. A plaintive and confused sound escaped him.

Meow. Bruce just wanted to get home.

Meow. Bruce was scared.

Meow. Bruce was lost.

Meow.

The unending grid of cold houses stretched unimaginably far in all directions.

Google Fantasy Maps

Google stands at the crux of having another exciting content platform. All they would have to do is marry their AR / VR offerings with Google Maps.

Today, you have satellite, traffic, and other overlays on Google Maps. These are all functional features that are dead useful. I propose that Google add useless overlays to make Maps an entertainment platform.

To an extent, this already happened with their promotion for Fantastic Beasts. Take it a step further – imagine a creepypasta overlay. Reported Slender Man sightings (complete with subtly photoshopped portions of StreetView), SCP reports from around the globe, and Mowgli’s Palace in North Carolina. Imagine a sci-fi overlay where you can walk ’round Iowa and see the USS Enterprise being constructed. Augment this whole system further with “contributed” videos to complement StreetView.

I know I would sink a lot of leisure time on Google Maps if I could explore Hogwarts Castle or see some of the city-bending of Doctor Strange play out live.