157

DAD: Any new and fun side projects?

ME: Yeah, a script that keeps track of digests for a bunch of files. Mostly my pictures.

DAD: Why?

ME: You know, so I can run it every half-year or so to make sure I’ve not got any bit rot.

DAD: And how likely is that?

ME: Not at all. Probably more likely to die in a car crash tomorrow.

DAD: So again, why?

ME: Just in case.

 

So really, I should be turning my efforts to something more productive. I keep telling myself I’ll sit down and slurp in the code base for some project in need, but I never get to it. The candidates are Quodlibet, sway, and dbus.

It’s a testament to the fundamental (though probably exaggerated) faith I have in my hard disk that I gave that hyperbolic example; I’m not even planning to leave the house tomorrow.

J39M

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156

Background

I collect the film scores of the Star Wars cinematic universe. Like other things I enjoy, I am unhappy if I discover them incomplete (it happens). There are 3 categories that I reckon with between which incompleteness can happen:

The true film score

This features in the soundtrack of the film itself. It includes splices like the inclusion of the cello-driven “Force” theme (Burning Homestead) in The Ways of the Force.

The album release

This will be on sale at Target, at Walmart, etc. and may be “edited for content and clarity” – not that the packaging is honest enough to tell you so.

The “for your consideration” copy

I took notice of these starting with TFA – MP3 copies of allegedly the true score appear on the Walt Disney Studios Awards site presumably for the convenience of the Academy. I don’t know why this is, though, because physical copies should exist which are mailed to voters. I’ve seen a purported eBay listing for a TFA FYC physical press going for over 400 USD.

I say “allegedly the true score” because the folks at JWfan are quoted as saying that these should follow the exact presentation of the music in the film, and especially no concert arrangements. This can’t be true, though, because the Burning Homestead bit appears exactly nowhere and for some reason the end credits suite is missing a lot of material. Huge extended portions of Rey’s theme, what sounds like a spliced version of The Bombing Run, and I think slightly longer March of the Resistance all feature in the true film score and not in the FYC. (March of the Resistance is already slightly extended for the FYC, but I think the true film score gives it even more. I should check.)

The matter at hand

I finally got around to rigging PulseAudio for loopback capture (it’s ridiculously easy with pavucontrol). I pulled up my digital copy of TFA on YouTube (came with my Blu-ray purchase and I haven’t even touched the surface of Blu-ray decrypting, let alone extraction) and relived my childhood of hooking a 3.5mm male-to-male cable from line out to line in. I mixed in the album copy of The Jedi Steps and voila! The true film version of The Jedi Steps and Finale can now be added to my collection.

This is hardly ideal – god knows what quality playback I achieve with the YouTube copy and how much a hit it takes when I capture it from my output – but it’s certainly a huge step forward. It’s also a very acceptable stopgap until I can procure the necessary hardware (and learn the software) for Blu-ray extraction.

J39M

“Hi,” he said, shaking my hand. “I’m Pablo Hidalgo.”

I grinned. “And I’m John Williams.”

He didn’t react. He stared blankly at me, still vacantly pumping our hands up and down.

“No, really,” I said, “no joking, who are you?”

“Pablo” sighed and motioned for me to sit. I did, still studying the old man behind the desk. This wasn’t Pablo – a few short years ago, Pablo had been so alive, zipping around the Twitterverse in an unending quest to straighten the Star Wars canon. Here I beheld a tired, thinly stretched, and graying old man who could have passed for a Jedi in exile.

“Did you orchestrate this?” Would-be Pablo held up the printed cue faintly.

“Yes.” I was more confused than peeved. Scoring was hard work, and this was the first time I had been referred to the story department on matters of music. It shaped up like a pointless dent in my schedule for wholly unmusical reasons. “Is something the matter?”

“You indicate that this cue,” said Pablo weakly, “incorporates a men’s choir.”

“Yes.”

Pablo sighed. “I’m sorry to tell you this, but you’ll have to rethink this. If you’ve built anything in particular around the sound of a men’s choir, that’s also out.”

I wasn’t shocked, but my annoyance now overtook my confusion. “Just a minute, please. What about a men’s choir is so objectionable that the story group has to step in to interfere with the scoring process?”

Pablo didn’t answer. He lay his forearms on the table, wrapping both hands wearily around a bright green mug.

“I’d really like an answer, ‘Pablo,’ because that is a lot to ask.”

I suddenly noticed the veins in Pablo’s forearms. They stood out vividly as though they had been stenciled in with magic marker. He was straining – and he was gripping his fluorescent mug pretty hard.

“Is this about that silly Sno – ”

CRASH. I flinched. The mug had shattered from between Pablo’s hands. A gash in his palm pulsed heavily, and blood began to dribble out.

“You’re bleeding, my god, you’re bleeding. Are you okay? Where’s your first aid kit?”

“Stop.” Pablo hadn’t moved.

“You’re bleeding!”

“Just.” Pablo was still sitting ramrod-straight. “Just. Please.” He didn’t sound hurt, just wearier than ever. Maybe that was shock. “Please redo this cue.” He looked me in the eye. “And please don’t try using a men’s choir again.” The cut in his hand was slowly pooling blood among the ceramic shards of his former mug.

I bolted out the door. I had passed a first-aid kit next to the hand sanitizer on my way in.

154

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.”

J39M

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?

J39M

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.

J39M

151: The flaglock digest

2016-05-24 (0)

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

2016-05-25

  • “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)”

2016-05-26

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

2016-05-28

  • “Harajuku weirdness esp. the Harajuku Roll”

2016-05-29

  • “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”

2016-05-30

  • “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.”

2016-06-03

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