Pride

June 26th, 2022

The Pride Parade is happening today in Greenwich Village in NYC. It consists mostly of young people, expressing their joy at being able to be their true selves, without needing to hide or to be afraid of our government just because of who they are.

The parade has been going on for many years now, and over time, like any institution, it has gradually shifted in tone. Where it used to be a cry of defiance, the parade has become more of a party.

Young people are now comfortable in their identities, in a way that their elders were never allowed to be. They have rights that they take for granted, rights that those elders once fought for. My worry is that comfort will lead to complacency.

We learned earlier this week that nobody is safe. Whether you are black or gay or Jewish or asian, or — as we saw a few days ago — whether you are simply guilty of the terrible crime of having been born female — sooner or later you can be stripped of rights that you have always taken for granted.

This is true even if those rights have been around since you were born. This is true even if those rights have been around since your mother was born.

I look at all of these happy people in their twenties celebrating in this parade, and I wonder whether they realize what might be coming. And I hope that they remember to vote.

Theocracy

June 25th, 2022

For the first time, I am wondering whether our country is actually in danger of sliding into a theocracy. Given the events of recent days, it seems like a real possibility.

We’ve managed to avoid this in the past, for the most part. Although there have been exceptions — I believe Prohibition was mostly driven by religious fervor.

One issue with a country becoming a theocracy is that it generally privileges one religion over the others. And after a while, those other religions — or daring to embrace no religion — can come to be seen as somehow illegitimate.

Which is definitely not the vision for America that I grew up with.

Future lament by Clarence Thomas

June 24th, 2022

First they came for women’s reproductive health, and I did not speak out — because I was not a woman.

Then they came for safe contraception, and I did not speak out — because I was no longer having sex.

Then they came for freedom to marry, and I did not speak out — because I was not Gay.

Then they came for interracial marriage — and there was no one left to speak for me.

My flying car

June 23rd, 2022

I first saw this image when I was in my young teens, and it made me very much want to own this car.

When I grew up, I forgot about it for a while. But then, years later, I was in a used bookstore where they were selling a very well preserved copy of this July 1957 issue of Popular Mechanics, wrapped in plastic.

I bought it, put it on a shelf in my office, still wrapped in plastic, and felt oddly satisfied. Then, just this evening, I came upon it again, and felt a surge of pure joy.

It felt as though I was communicating directly with the much younger version of me. And we were very happy together.

I think we still are.

Widget Wednesdays #25

June 22nd, 2022

For this week’s Widget Wednesday I decided to go with a classic exercise in computer graphics: Use a 2D rendering substrate to show something in 3D.

In particular, I’m simulating 1000 particles roiling around within a 3D sphere. But I’m using canvas2D to do it, and canvas2D is usually used for rendering 2D things, not 3D things.

The magic sauce here is that at every animation frame I sort everything from back to front. That’s because in order to make things look right, I need to paint each object on top of the previous one, to create the proper illusion of 3D depth.

You can check it out here.

HBJPS

June 21st, 2022

Existentialism 101:

      L’enfer, c’est l’anniversaire des autres.

Interesting parallel

June 20th, 2022

I am noticing an interesting parallel. Russia says that Ukraine is not a country, mainly because (as far as I can tell), it is inconvenient to Russia for Ukraine to be a country. The fact that there is overwhelming evidence (out here in the fact-based world) that Ukraine is a country does not seem to enter into Russian thinking.

Meanwhile, Texas says that Joe Biden is not our duly elected President, mainly because (as far as I can tell), it is inconvenient to Texas for Joe Biden to be our duly elected President. The fact that there is overwhelming evidence (out here in the fact-based world) that Joe Biden is our duly elected President does not seem to enter into Texan thinking.

Maybe the politicians in Texas should all move to Moscow. They might find people there who don’t just think they are bat-shit crazy.

Juneteenth

June 19th, 2022

I have been spending time today reading about Juneteenth.

The very fact of slavery, even as an historical event, remains, of course, horrifying and chilling to the bone. Yet every step that our nation continues to take in the slow climb out of that nightmarish legacy is inspiring of hope.

Of course we are far from done. Some wounds are so deep that they can take centuries to heal.

And some wounds never even have a chance to heal. After reading about Juneteenth, I spent some time reading about Wounded Knee. And I was sadly reminded that not all of a nation’s sins are ever cleansed.

Or even fully acknowledged.

You say it’s your birthday

June 18th, 2022

Sir Paul turns 80 today, and I am among the millions who fervently hope he will remain with us for many years to come. It’s hard to think of any other individual who has influenced our modern popular music landscape as profoundly.

The musical inventiveness of McCartney was/is astonishing. That inventiveness started in his early Beatles days and has continued in the decades that have follows.

Like J.S. Bach before him, a man whose music said “Yes, you can do this and get away with it,” McCartney inspired everyone who followed to be more daring with rhythm, chromaticism, genre mashing, and all around delightfulness.

After all these years, I remain astonished at the inventive music of Penny Lane. It precisely evokes the mood of playful bemusement of Paul’s childhood, as the lyrics describe him taking in the mysterious antics of adult Liverpudlians.

Or take, for example, the music of For No One. Even if you didn’t understand the lyrics, you would be learning you everything you need to know about the mind numbing depression and lack of closure that accompanies romantic heartbreak.

There are so many examples of this in the man’s canon. His music is literate in a way that so much popular music isn’t. With each song he invents something musically new, expanding the vocabulary.

And I hear he’s also the nicest guy in the world. Sir Paul, Happy Birthday to you.

Some thoughts

June 17th, 2022

Some thoughts cannot be expressed in words. But apparently this one can.