log.nikhil.io

Getting Naticked

Rex Parker:

A long time ago, I was solving this puzzle and got stuck at an unguessable (to me) crossing: N. C. WYETH crossing NATICK at the “N” — I knew WYETH but forgot his initials, and NATICK… is a suburb of Boston that I had no hope of knowing. It was clued as someplace the Boston Marathon runs through (???). Anyway, NATICK — the more obscure name in that crossing — became shorthand for an unguessable cross, esp. where the cross involves two proper nouns, neither of which is exceedingly well known. NATICK took hold as crossword slang, and the term can now be both noun (“I had a NATICK in the SW corner…”) or verb (“I got NATICKED by 50A / 34D!”)

Here’s the Urban Dictionary entry. Learned that that “crosswordese” is a thing. Been doing the NYT Crosswords fairly regularly over the past few years and that page has a lot of useful, vowel-y ‘bridge’ words and phrases (e.g. AGRA, ESAU, ISAO, OMOO, DEUSIRAE.)

Gary Oldman as Dracula

by the incomparable Herb Ritts. Not the same Dracula, but seeing these made me think of one of my favorite things: “Horrible Tragedy” by Philip Glass and the Kronos Quartet for the 1931 movie.

Gary Oldman as Dracula - One

Gary Oldman as Dracula - Two

Always be leveraging

On tech culture’s obsession with quantifying and optimizing every single moment of one’s existence1:

I hate this framing. It is pressuring, dehumanizing as it contextualizes human endeavor in transactional terms, usually in a market.

I know this goes against the ethos of high-tech, but humans don’t have an imperative to be as productive as possible. They don’t have to make the most use of their time. They don’t have to get as efficient as they could. These are metrics that work fine for our machines, our code. But humans are not machines. Sure, we shepherd the machines, and sure sometimes we are in rivalrous dynamics that increasing efficiency has a payoff, but it is never the goal in itself.

The real “currency” we have, if we are using the term in the sense of denoting essentialness, is our humanness, our mortality, our psyches, our connection with other people and seemingly mundane but meaningful parts of our lives. I mean, look how many of us started baking their breads and enjoying it. It is not a wise use of the “currency of time”, but it is part of life very well spent, as our internal reward mechanisms have been telling us.

@acituan on HackerNews, commenting on this article

  1. With corroboration via sophomoric interpretations of stoicism and objectivism, all aimed at summoning this latent, dispassionate übermensch whose sole purpose is to “leverage” and deliver value. ↩︎

That '70s Typeface

Spent a few frustrated hours over the years trying to identify this typeface I’d see on restaurant menus, photocopied class handouts, movie titles (even Indian ones from the early 80s), and a lot of books. I now know what it is and am quite happy the mystery’s resolved.

It’s Souvenir! Designed in 1914, super-popular/overused in the 70s, and much derided by designers in later decades (“A terrible typeface. A sort of ‘Saturday Night Fever’ typeface wearing tight white flared pants.”)

ITC Souvenir Sample

The Official Response

WOOLEY. What if the Prime Minister insists we help them?
SIR APPLEBY. Then we follow the four-stage strategy.
WOOLEY. What’s that?
SIR WHARTON. Standard Foreign Office response in a time of crisis.
SIR WHARTON. In stage one we say nothing is going to happen.
SIR APPLEBY. Stage two, we say something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it.
SIR WHARTON. In stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there’s nothing we can do.
SIR APPLEBY. Stage four, we say maybe there was something we could have done, but it’s too late now.

A political manual for the ages.

The Tornado Omelette

I have found a new thing I’m going to turn into scrambled eggs repeatedly until I get it right.

See also: more omelettes.

Gender Roles

Sofia Tolstoy, at 19, after the first of their thirteen children:

I am left alone morning, afternoon and night. I am to gratify his pleasure and nurse his child, I am a piece of household furniture. I am a woman. I try to suppress all human feelings. When the machine is working properly it heats the milk, knits a blanket, makes little requests and bustles about trying not to think — and life is tolerable. But the moment I am alone and allow myself to think, everything seems insufferable.

At 25:

I am so often alone with my thoughts that the need to write in my diary comes quite naturally […] Now I am well again and not pregnant — it terrifies me how often I have been in that condition. He said that for him being young meant “I can achieve anything.” For me […] reason tells me that there is nothing I either want or can do beyond nursing, eating, drinking, sleeping, and loving and caring for my husband and babies, all of which I know is happiness of a kind, but why do I feel so woeful all the time, and weep as I did yesterday? I am writing this now with the pleasantly exciting sense that nobody will ever read it, so I can be quite frank with myself […].

And:

I have served a genius for almost forty years. Hundreds of times I have felt my intellectual energy stir within me and all sorts of desires - a longing for education, a love of music and the art. And time and again I have crushed and smothered these longings. Everyone asks, “But why should a worthless woman like you need an intellectual or artistic life?” To this question I can only reply: “I don’t know, but eternally suppressing it to serve a genius is a great misfortune.”

Here’s more about her life and her diaries.

Chill Midwesterners

When I see a carefree runner in I-did-not-need-to-see-that shorts in windy, 5-degree weather.

By @artbyjuliet.

COVID-19 Map

Found this map when Googling “coronavirus india”. Looks like it’s maintained by the WHO and is pretty up-to-date. They have a daily update page.

At the time of this writing, there are 110,029 confirmed cases, with 3,817 deaths in 105 countries. China, South Korea, Iran, France, and Germany account for 95% of the total number of cases and in that order.

Optotypes

Optician Sans is a free optotype 1 based on the Sloan letters2.

  1. I had no idea this was a thing. There’s a lot to learn here about the eye charts I see once a year. The earliest chart appears to go all the way back to 1862 (!) Those little "C"s are called Landolt C. The one most optometrists use these days is called a LogMAR Chart which measures visual acuity as a log function of the smallest visual angle your eyes can resolve. ↩︎

  2. Which you can download here with “noncommercial research” in mind. ↩︎

The Master of Plastic Chairs

Bryan Ropar is a plastic chair connoisseur and expert. Here’s his ranking of the Top 100 Plastic Chairs (couldn’t find the ranking criteria.)

The Song of Seikilos

This is the "the oldest surviving complete musical composition, including musical notation, from anywhere in the world" and dates from “either from the 1st or the 2nd century AD.” It was found engraved on a tombstone and was “dedicated by Seikilos to Euterpe, who was possibly his wife.” (Wikipedia)

While you live, shine
have no grief at all
life exists only for a short while
and Time demands his due

😭 💗

The Unborn

“The unborn” are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you; they are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor; they don’t resent your condescension or complain that you are not politically correct; unlike widows, they don’t ask you to question patriarchy; unlike orphans, they don’t need money, education, or childcare; unlike aliens, they don’t bring all that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike; they allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships; and when they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn. It’s almost as if, by being born, they have died to you. You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus but actually dislike people who breathe.

Prisoners? Immigrants? The sick? The poor? Widows? Orphans? All the groups that are specifically mentioned in the Bible? They all get thrown under the bus for the unborn.

Dave Barnhardt, Methodist pastor

and

They’re all in favor of the unborn. They will do anything for the unborn. But once you’re born, you’re on your own. Pro-life conservatives are obsessed with the fetus from conception to nine months. After that, they don’t want to know about you. They don’t want to hear from you. No nothing. No neonatal care, no day care, no head start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing. If you’re preborn, you’re fine; if you’re preschool, you’re fucked.

– George Carlin, Back in Town

Functions, Monoids, Functors, Monads

Started with this blog post about why one would need a monad (from a typing standpoint.) Then watched “What the 𝒇 is a Monad” which made a lot of things clear. Then watched this excellent, excellent talk on Lambda Calculus (with JS and Haskell code!) by Gabriel Lebec.

Finished with a quick practical, toy example by @mpjme and this Scala horror-show (to me.)

Mondegreen

A mondegreen /ˈmɒndɪɡriːn/ is a mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase as a result of near-homophony, in a way that gives it a new meaning. Mondegreens are most often created by a person listening to a poem or a song; the listener, being unable to clearly hear a lyric, substitutes words that sound similar and make some kind of sense.

Never been able to follow the lyrics to most songs and have done this for as long as I can remember. Things can be misheard but there are intentional mondegreens as well:

A similar effect was created in Hindi in the 2011 Bollywood movie Delhi Belly in the song “Bhaag D.K. Bose”. While “D.K. Bose” appears to be a person’s name, it is sung repeatedly in the chorus to form the deliberate mondegreen “bhosadi ke” (Hindi: भोसडी के), a Hindi expletive.

Root of Evil: The True Story of the Hodel Family and the Black Dahlia

I couldn’t finish this gripping yet harrowing podcast about the Black Dahlia murder and, whether or not he was complicit, an absolute monster of a human being.

Nine Pints of The Law

by Lawson Wood (more work here.)

I first saw this when I was about 10 and tried my first jigsaw puzzle with my little sister. We were quite mesmerized by the painting. We found the puzzle too difficult and lost the pieces. 26 years later, I found a complete puzzle on eBay and can’t wait to put it together with her 😃

Googling revealed that a certain David Lewis recreated the painting with real officers of the Royston Police Station in Hertfordshire in 1990.


Image via Herts Past Policing

A Year of Jackshit

2019 in review, by way of Mr. Lovenstein’s comics.

And why not just twist the knife?

Process and Tooling

I thought using loops was cheating, so I programmed my own using samples. I then thought using samples was cheating, so I recorded real drums. I then thought that programming it was cheating, so I learned to play drums for real. I then thought using bought drums was cheating, so I learned to make my own. I then thought using premade skins was cheating, so I killed a goat and skinned it. I then thought that that was cheating too, so I grew my own goat from a baby goat. I also think that is cheating, but I’m not sure where to go from here. I haven’t made any music lately, what with the goat farming and all.

I’ve made this mistake all too often, especially when trying to learn something new.

Things that quote kinda reminds me of:

The Happiest Little Human

I’ll consider myself dead on the inside until I’m this ecstatic after sipping mushroom soup.

White Statues

Vox on the history of plain-white Roman statues and how historians attempt plaster reconstructions with the original colors. Like this one:

Halvor Lines

Saw these trucks on the interstate the other day and feel in love with the logo 😍 Designed by a buncha nice Minnesotans at Swim Creative.

Halvor lines sample - 3
Halvor lines sample - 2
Halvor lines sample - 1

Dank Typefaces

Was looking try something other than my beloved Operator Mono and came across Dank Mono which claims to be a “rather special coding font.” I love it. Looks like the cooler twin of Inconsolata. I remain quite tickled by how many of my co-workers find the italic variants of monospaced fonts ‘disturbing’ when they look at my screen.

Dank Mono Sample

Richard Serra on Art

Q: Why make art? What do you find by doing it? What does it get you?

Serra: I always wanted an alternative existence. And by that I mean I wanted to do something where I could study my own sentiments and experiences. And I found that I can do that in relation to making things and making art in particular. And I did that since I was a kid it was a place I always could go to that I could concentrate and deal with the problems that I thought were of interest to me. And if I was clear enough about what it was that I was probing,
and stayed with the premise of I was probing, it was possible that it could also be clear to someone else, and it was important that it not be something that somebody else has done.

I think one of the things art does is that it asks you to perceive what it is on its own level […] I think works of art engage, possibly, an ‘internal memory bank’ that isn’t linear and it can make you see the outside reality in that way also.

That’s from a recording at the SF MoMA. I first heard of him after moving to Des Moines and seeing his “Five Plate Pentagon” at our beautiful sculpture park.


Image Source: DSM Public Art Foundation

Home

So, here you are
too foreign for home
too foreign for here.
Never enough for both.

Ijeoma Umebinyuo, Questions for Ada

and

Home is not where you are born; home is where all your attempts to escape cease.

Naguib Mahfouz