MIT wants your input?

Why the hell would they care about your input? Where is your input when alcohol mixed with driving kills a person in the United States every 53 minutes? Where is your input when you calculate the CDC-given figure and realize this amounts to 10,000 deaths per year? We are paying a human tax of 10,000 people per year because drunk drivers do not want and do not accept your input on “who ought to die.”

Are you, oh prideful sack of flesh, taught properly in your high school driver’s ed class on “who ought to die?” Have you ever thought about that? Has it ever come into play in a real-life situation, where the driver behind the wheel had the power to decide who lived and who died? And who was ever faulted for the decision in a true Kobayashi Maru?

This is beyond asinine. There is no issue. Simply have the autonomous car give its best effort. After all, since when have humans done any better?

The prince surely dies

A.S.E. left the ending ambiguous; the disappearing body of the prince suggests that some magic beyond adult understanding was at work, and that the little prince made it home safe and sound to his rose. I have seen discussion that “since the rest of the book was a fantastical fable, why should this bit be taken literally?”

  1. Did his flock of interplanetary migratory birds suddenly decide to not pick him up? In the first place, how the heck did he hitchhike off of them? Why would snakebite be any faster than candlelight? I think the implication is that he was marooned in the desert with nowhere to go – such is the case with the narrator, too, who does not end up in the desert by choice, and only escapes out of some lucky turn (we know that he almost dies of thirst before finding the well a week into the story). The prince was invulnerable to thirst, but he was wholly unable to transit independently between planets. Faced with the prospect of living forever removed from his beloved home, he chooses death.
  2. Why was the prince scared? Surely zipping home via snakebite is a lot less risky than flying through the hazards of outer space borne by a flock of birds. If the snakebite would just send him home, why was there any risk to the narrator? At worst he finds himself on the prince’s planet, and would have to find his way to earth as the prince did initially. No, the worst case is not a sudden comical detour to the prince’s home; the fear is that the worst case is death by a treacherous snake.

I would explain away the missing body as the narrator becoming disoriented or an overnight sandstorm obscuring the view.

The belief that he is actually home safe and sound is merely a nicety – a pretense used in a vain attempt to curtail the narrator’s sorrow at his passing, not so unlike the lie we repeat to ourselves that the deceased are “in a better place.”


153: 2 Momentousness

Of music

Screenshot from 2016-07-09 23-50-53

Figure 1: a graph of my stats on libre.fm after their great database crash in late June. However, the drop to 0 had nothing to do with that – that was the duration of my trip to Japan.

Screenshot from 2016-07-22 22-48-25

Figure 2: a graph of my stats now that I have begun work.

I took another step toward becoming an acceptable member of society on 2016-07-11. My scrobbles have stoically suffered accordingly. Gone are my lazy days of sitting at home, whiling the hours away with endless playlists. Gone is my freedom to saddle my ears and disappear into the music while working. These two graphs are to be remembered: their shapes together demarcate two huge portions of my life. My identity as a student reached its peak when the music disappeared; then the music came charging back in like a long-overdue tide (that is not how tides work but please ignore my rhetoric) for one last hurrah before it dropped off to pre-university levels abruptly. And so I shed my undergraduate skin to emerge as a bruised (yet pitifully, wholly unchallenged) functional adult.

Of reading

Before starting work, I flung myself to the halfway-mark of The Two Towers (a little ways into book 4). When conscription peeked over the horizon (about a week’s clearance, I think), I put it on hold and picked up the borrowed copy of Leningrad: Siege and Symphony and got about 200 pages (out of 500) in. The rest I finished during bus rides to and from work. I plan on finishing The Lord of the Rings, then moving onto Steve Jobs. From there I still have 1Q84 and Code Warriors.

Of watching

I went to see Finding Dory last weekend; it was good! I look forward to Star Trek Beyond in a few weeks; by then, hopefully Fantastic Beasts and Doctor Strange will ramp up advertising. I will polish off the year with Rogue One – realistically, seeing it in late January.

Of working

I’m 2 weeks in. I feel good about things. The usual anxiety is still there, but nice people do wonders for the nerves. I can rise every morning and look forward to getting into the office – so that’s winning, isn’t it?


152: Chase Bank

tl;dr WHITELIST chasecdn.com IN NOSCRIPT.

I returned from abroad a week and three days ago. It was around that time that I noticed Chase Online Banking stopped working for me, though it worked just fine on the burner computer I carried with me while away from home. I wasn’t terribly worried until a few days ago when I realized that this supposed outage (for that was what the webpage informed me it was) had been going on entirely too long without any ripples on either Google News or Twitter. Was this a problem specific to me?

I called up customer support and predictably achieved no real results. They fed me a presumable red herring by waffling about some known issue that their technicians were fixing. But at least Suzanne was honest to tell me directly that there was no systemwide outage that they knew of, and so the problem was probably on my end. (Hubris erroneously told me otherwise.) It only occurred to me today to change up my approach to see if I could isolate the problem.

First I went back to my burner computer (SL7 with Google Chrome on permanent incognito mode). I was thunderstruck when I logged in without issue. Second, I repeated this feat on my normal workstation with Firefox Nightly. This ruled out Chase implicitly blacklisting Linux or Firefox setups. I hung my head in shame. The fault was mine, then.

I cleared my cache, cleared out my Chase cookies, and restarted Firefox. No good.

Some devil or angel whispered in my ear and I glanced at NoScript while the redirection transitioned me from a spinner-on-blank-page to the boilerplate outage page. I managed to catch sight of NoScript blocking out one chasecdn.com. I added the same to my whitelist. Login, success! facedesk.

Let this story remind me from time to time that just because I know how to clear my cache and cookies (and also know what both of those are) doesn’t mean I get to assume nothing is ever my fault.


151: The flaglock digest

2016-05-24 (0)

  • “The TigerAir flight (IT202) sounds like an airborne leafblower”


  • “Oyakodon for breakfast via meal voucher”
  • The baumkuchen salesgirl near Senso-ji gave me such a bemused look when I tried to speak English to her – the first actual true-to-life headtilt I’ve ever seen
  • “Izakaya for dinner – delicious tuna && Atlantic salmon (downside: smoke & noise)”


  • “Oedo-onsen Monogatari holy shit”
  • “Traumatic nudeness lol”
  • “Yukatas!”
  • “Yamanote line rush hour @ 2300”


  • “Harajuku weirdness esp. the Harajuku Roll”


  • “Ikebukuro (cerca) local university hosting an international cosplay cup with some lovely Sabers – the red / white one was pretty good at acting, as was her outlandish opponent; both were amazing at running on heels”
  • “yielding shaft seat so Akiba-bound trio could sit together – successfully avoided eye contact and made their gratitude weird”


  • “Had my first ‘back in undergrad’ dream this morning”
  • “Shosen book tower – 9F is all ecchi++ lol”
  • “of some lady in an ad on-screen:

    THIS LADY looks old –
    yes, older than my mother.
    Yet there is moe.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

2016-06-02 (9)

  • “from yesterday: harmony of a Gora-bound night train:
    • Db
    • Bb
    • F_{E}
  • “0821: Gora-bound morning train. 2nd car is filled with hat-wearing schoolgirls (not pictured for obvious reasons)”
  • “Strangely Swiss-feeling two-car Gora-bound train took us home @ 20:48. Disregarding possible staff change, our guard as of Miyanoshita [kanji here] was very kind. He left his post for a bit to help out some lost tourists looking for ‘the hotel.’ We were delayed about five whole minutes for this. But it was heartwarming.”


  • “Cemetery shortcut to Kowakidani Station.”
  • “People give English-speakers some bemused looks. But at least the most basic phrases suffice for convenience-store interactions.”

150: The master class

Mizi Li – Polonaise-fantaisie in A flat major op. 61 (Chopin); Soobin Lee, Sonata in E major op. 109 (Beethoven); Hyejin Joo, Impromptus nos. 3 and 4 D 935 (Schubert). I thought Leslie had lined up a bunch of high school / college aged girls for Rafal, but reading the guide booklet reveals that all three are older than I am (25, 27, 28, respectively).

I was most impressed with Soobin’s playing. Some of that might just be the more straightforward music Beethoven puts forth in his opus 109, compared to the convoluted fantasy Chopin swirls around. But even without making comparisons, Soobin had excellent control, putting that toward thoughtful phrasing.

Mizi played a decent polonaise; it wasn’t as striking as Rafal’s, but it sang better than his did in some segments.

Hyejin pulled off some wonderful fingerwork, mostly in one of the later variations of the third impromptu.



  • “There is a great silence here, which I think you should explore for contrast.” (The ascending figure bridging measures 1-2)
  • “Amplify the upper voice here – you opened strongly, and so when this figure returns in E flat minor, you should let the high note ring out.” (on measure 7)
  • “Emphasize the second beat of the polonaise rhythm.”
  • “This part, between the agitato and the piu lento [the piu lento is the big group of blocked pianissimo chords] might be taken slower to better show the tension that is otherwise lost at your present tempo.”
  • “I understand, it’s sometimes harder to play slower than it is to play quickly.”


  • “Would you like to play with or without the score? [Soobin freezes – and shrugs.] I will take it, then.”
  • “Bravo!” (after both segments of the sonata)
  • “No, I think your tempo is appropriate. This segment (???) has detail and counterpoint, and speeding it up will diminish those.”
  • “I have practiced this sonata for 5 years, and still I dare not perform it.”
  • “I think you have developed your phrases in a very logical way. It is how I would approach the work myself. Congratulations.”


  • “Is that to your liking? … I think it’s going up.” (helping Hyejin adjust the seat)
  • “Let us do some experiments together to see what works to your liking.”
  • “I believe a faster tempo here [in the beginning of the third impromptu] makes the work sound more optimistic.”
  • “Yes, this part is good…thank you.” (stopping her from proceeding to the already well-polished variation 5 in the third impromptu)
  • “Not louder, but with a brighter tone…shorter.” (on the arpeggiated figurations spelling out a line in the upper voice in the fourth impromptu)

149: And in the newest trashy crossover…

After sis called me about moving (I think around 9 AM) I was pretty groggy and unable to leave bed. I fell into a shallow sleep.

I was the silly secret sidekick of Andrew Scott, who now found himself under arrest. To the policemen who had cuffed him, I was some nosy passerby in a hoodie with a penchant for mouthing off to the authorities. I waved a few grapes at them and ate with great gusto. Delicious, sweet vitamin C. I juggled some and kept talking pretty quickly, waffling over their limp attempts to shoo me away. I spritzed everyone liberally with grape juice just by squeezing a single grape – and it kept dispensing juice, over and over and over. It never seemed to deflate.

An unnamed officer finally lost his temper and made to confiscate this dangerous weapon. I feigned handing it over when my fingers “slipped” – the grape snapped improbably up my sleeve and rolled into my jacket pocket; the gawking officers were too busy being misdirected by my now-empty left hand to notice my waiting right hand receiving the grape. Andrew rolled his eyes in that languid, evil-genius way that he had cultivated for Sherlock.

I “conjured” the grape into my right hand and gave everyone one last liberal spritz. The fuming officers were on the verge of arresting me when Andrew stood straight. “Right,” he said, “I’m out.” The courtesy handkerchief slipped off his wrists to reveal that they were no longer cuffed.

148: Written ambiguity

I have long misread this one line from Hamlet:

But I do prophesy th’ election lights
On Fortinbras. He has my dying voice.

Today, I suspect “lights” is used as a verb – as an archaic form of “alights.” In this reading, the election is given a sense of agency (or at least the voters are). This is at least less wrong than what I used to think: throughout high school and the earlier years of university, I mistakenly read “lights” as literal sources of illumination. So I just thought it was some Norwegian (possibly Danish, since Hamlet is speaking this line) custom to convene all the candidates in one room to call the election like a B-grade anime popularity contest omake episode. Surprise! The lights (of the election) blaze upon Fortinbras, voted best waifu in Hamlet.

For this reason, I have come to associate figures alone in the light (especially facing a crowd) with Fortinbras’ name. This wallpaper lives under the name “fortinbras.jpg” in my home directory:


I witness the stage lights upon Blechacz.