An Experiment In Scotch

I write to discover what I believe

Month: June 2009 (page 1 of 8)

A Good Day's Harvest

A successful day

A successful day

14 ears of corn, 3-4 tomatoes, 2 cucumbers, a handful of serranos and jalapenos, 6 ounces of yellow tomatoes and a random eggplant.

Also:

Terrified but going somewhere safer.  I think.

Terrified but going somewhere safer. I think.

Scooter has been hell on the wildlife this spring, more than any other year so when I found this little guy hidden in our Copper Canyon daisy, I knew he was a sitting duck, short term. I grabbed him and set him loose near the creek where he seemed to be more than happy to get away from scary old me, not ever knowing what scary old Scooter would do to him if he found him. We still have one more of his brothers or sisters in the corn patch but I’m going to assume he’s safe for now.

Smoot-Hawley Couldn't Have Been That Bad, Right?

Tyler at Marginal Revolution channels Matt Yglesias one of the more odious portions of the Waxman-Markey bill recently passed in the House, specifically the threat of tariffs on countries who don’t play along with our unserious climate change game. Even Obama says trade protections are a bad idea in this little game.

For those not scoring along at home, a last minute middle of the night amendment was added to the 1000 odd pages of Waxman-Markey that seeks to impose tariffs on countries who don’t battle global warming emissions. Leaving aside the implications of a 1000 page bill having amendments added to it in the middle of the night on Representatives actually reading the bill and leaving aside the fact that it took the NY Times 17 paragraphs to detail that in an article presumably about exactly that, the very fact that we have Representatives so ignorant of history to think that threatening countries like China, India and Brazil with tariffs in order to bully our beliefs onto them shows us the sad, sad state our legislative process is in. The last time we tried a stunt like that, Smoot-Hawley brought about the Great Depression and we all know how that turned out. This will be no different if we try to impose tariffs on China. We are not in a position of power. If China wants to play that game, they can just stop buying Treasuries, in effect preventing indebted America from getting cheap credit and throwing our economy into a tailspin far worse than what we saw last fall.

This bill is a economic and political disaster thrown upon us by short-sighted superficial politicians aiming to get re-elected in 2010 at the expense of our future. It’s the logical result of a political class who once elected do everything in their power to stay elected which in turn focuses their sightlines on the very near horizon and never on the future and well-being of their constituents or the country. Until we do sensible things like ensure that all our politicians read and understand the legislation they are passing, we’ll keep getting ruled by the incompetent and power hungry. None of the Representatives could have possibly read much less understood this bill given that amendments were being added as late as 3 hours before the vote. It’s a disgrace to our democracy.

Sentences Worth Pondering

“The plot behind the endlessly-long series of explosions that Megan Fox’s rack is forced to endure is impossible to relate or understand.”

From Choire Sicha at The Awl, writing a review digital flogging of the new Transformers movie. Good times. I can’t possibly do justice to the whole review so you should just go read the whole thing which starts off with a sweet, sweet, paragraph consisting of 255 words stuffed into two sentences, not unlike the aforementioned Megan Fox’s rack being stuffed into her brassiere.

Destroying America

Rarely does Congress get to do something so sweeping as what they are doing today. It’s usually destruction through evolution as small little things get introduced over time. But not today. Today, they are voting on the Waxman-Markey Cap and Trade bill, better known as The American Clean Energy and Security Act. This bill will mark a black line in the sand where America went from being a leader in the industrialized world to a second tier country. Think that’s hyperbole? Read up on Waxman-Markey any at all and you’ll start to understand.

From the Investors Business Daily:

The Heritage Foundation projects that by 2035 it would reduce aggregate gross domestic product by $7.4 trillion. In an average year, 844,000 jobs would be destroyed, with peak years seeing unemployment rise by almost 2 million. Consumers would pay through the nose as electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket, as President Obama once put it, by 90% adjusted for inflation. Inflation-adjusted gasoline prices would rise 74%, residential natural gas prices by 55% and the average family’s annual energy bill by $1,500.

Hit hardest by all this would be the “95% of working families” Obama keeps mentioning as being protected from increased taxation. They are protected, that is, unless they use energy. Then they’ll be hit by this draconian energy tax.

And what would we get for all this pain? According to an analysis by Chip Knappenberger, administrator of the World Climate Report, the reduction of U.S. CO2 emissions to 83% below 2005 levels by 2050 — the goal of the Waxman-Markey bill — would reduce global temperature in 2050 by a mere 0.05 degree Celsius.

Jim Manzi at The American Scene has been writing about this non-stop and has a post chock evidence detailing how horrible this bill will be for America.

This bill would implement draconian regulation in an effort to cripple America, send wealth overseas and all in exchange for a possible lowering of global temperature 41 years from now of .05 degrees Celsius. It’s a disaster. I urge you to contact your Representative in Congress and ask them to vote against this bill.

The King Of Pop, Popped

Michael Jackson is dead. Which is strange because if there was ever a strange, girl-like pop star that I thought would live forever it would be him. He was a musical genius for 15-20 years and then an eccentric pedophile for another 15 or so. Quite a career. From the CNN article, Reverend Al Sharpton:

“Michael Jackson made culture accept a person of color,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said. “To say an ‘icon’ would only give these young people in Harlem a fraction of what he was. He was a historic figure that people will measure music and the industry by.”

Yeah, Al but what color exactly? Dude was beige in his later years and last I checked that’s not a hip color in Harlem. Sigh.

Better still, Swindle:

The hard part about memorializing a pedophile who made awesome music for a fifteen year period in his life is this: he is responsible for the ten stroke drum intro to “Rock With You,” the song that always played in my head in 1981 when Papa Swindle drove the Caprice Classic through downtown Atlanta on the way to a Braves game. And then: he also gave some kids a trust fund the hard way.

I dressed up as Michael for Halloween one year because his “Beat It” years were that influential (not to be confused with his “Beat It While Having The Neighborhood Kids Over To Neverland” years, a slightly less influential but still important era). I don’t think I got much candy that year. I had the jacket and the glove and the sad white kid attempt at walking backwards while making it look like you were walking forwards, a move so unbelievably awesome at the time that it was a harbinger of my 9 months of breakdancing on cardboard boxes on the street corner. I’ve never been one of the cool kids.

Of course, he hasn’t been relevant since I was in high school so I’d be hard pressed to say he meant much to me. Still, it’s a little weird that he’s dead. I always thought he had turned into a zombie around 1995.

Pragmatic TDD

Tim Bray writes about when and how he does TDD. I think he’s exactly right when he talks about not doing TDD for green-field, beginning development. When I’m first writing a cut at a new project, I’ve got almost no idea what I’m doing. Doing TDD at this stage in the game is super expensive and really gets in the way of the exploration necessary for a new project. Having to rewrite my code as it evolves is expected but having to rewrite my code AND my tests because both were completely off base is pretty inefficient.

However, once things are pointed in the right direction, TDD is critical. It makes the incremental evolution of the software much safer, easier and efficient. Without the tests, iterating over your software is painful and liable to introduce bugs in code that was once working. TDD is at its best in the situation where the code, while not stable, is in a state of incremental evolution and not the general state of random upheaval that it is in the beginning of the project.

Like most things, pragmatism is useful. There are shades of gray around everything and saying that there is one true way makes no sense at all. TDD is useful as a tool but hammering every nail you see with it probably isn’t the best way to do things.

I’ve also started to see TDD as a tool to allow those of us who aren’t geniuses to actually produce good code. I’ve known a few true code geniuses in my career and like Picasso, their art tends to spring fully formed out of their heads. They may go back later and write tests around the code. However, they don’t need TDD to be good. For the rest of us, the incremental evolution that TDD supports and encourages helps us to write code that is functional and clean because we have to focus on the client of our software. Those of us who aren’t masters use TDD to fake it, to produce works of art that might not eventually hang on the walls of the Louvre but that make customers at art fairs all over the world reasonably happy.

One More Hobby

That’s all I need. Regardless, I’ve signed up for an online fiction writing class that started today. I’ve been toying with the idea for quite awhile and finally took the plunge. I’m not exactly sure what I plan to get out of it other than an impetus for regularly writing “something”. I’ve discovered that my new WordPress theme encourages me to write longer, more thought out posts which in my world translates to “not writing at all.” I’m hoping the class helps with my writing discipline. If I get undisciplined, I hope it spanks me.

But apart from that, I’m really hoping to understand a little better how the fiction form works, how it’s created and built. I don’t typically have trouble spewing off 500 words about almost anything but my talent for making stories up seems to have ceased about the time I got out of junior high. I’ve tried writing a little fiction here and there but the results have been so poor (and by results I mean “thrown before the high throne of my internal self-critic only to be summarily executed by fingernail pulling”) that I haven’t really tried to improve them much. But I know that I can write fiction, it’s just a matter of discovering how again and that’s really why I’m in the class.

I recently ran across Malcolm Gladwell’s piece on late bloomers and that was the catalyst for actually signing up for the class. I’d like to be a writer, at least in the sense of the word that means “I can sell enough of my work to enough people who actually like it to pay my bills”. With goals that low, I don’t see how I can’t succeed. More seriously, I think I have a modicum of talent for the craft, fleetingly displayed though it may be, and I’d like to foster that talent. I’m hoping that with a little instruction, maybe I can figure out what the hell I’m doing with all these words that keep popping out of my head.

I’ll probably blog semi-randomly about the experience for those of you scoring along at home.

Hope And Change In High Tech Land

I wonder how all those high tech workers feel after having supported Obama so strongly during the election only to find out that he wants to do things like regulate venture capital firms with over $30 million in managed money. This covers most of the VC firms out there and means that they would have to register with the SEC and jump through god knows how many hoops to fund startups. If this happens, it will certainly have a cooling effect on innovation and I can’t imagine all those VCs up in San Francisco are happy about it.

The financial meltdown will result in higher government regulation of all kinds of industries and it will have negative long term effects on innovation in this country. This is only the beginning.

The Wonder Of The Internet

I don’t know whether this is sublime, grotesque or outrageous but I do know it’s hilarious. It also involves Helen Hunt on a nasty acid trip, Hall and Oates singing with a cat and sweet, sweet ending. Don’t worry though, Keyboard Cat doesn’t involve handicap people falling down an escalator this time.

Source Control Follies

Why Perforce is more scalable than Git. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Perforce. It’s an awesome tool, one that “just works” when you get to know it. I’ll admit, branching isn’t easy but I learned how to do it and I’m not that smart. I taught an entire outsourced staff of developers flown in special from India how to use it and while I honestly don’t think they understood anything I said, they did nod happily and shake my hand saying something to the effect of “Good presentation” when I was done. So Perforce must be OK.

Git strikes me as a shiny, jangly, “Oh look there’s a chicken!” bauble for ADHD-stricken developers who can’t score a Modafinil prescription. I say this with absolutely no understanding or use of Git which makes me supremely qualified to dis it on the Internet. But look, it’s nice that it’s all cool and distributed and fancy-pants-in-with-the-in-crowd but I have my doubts that you could ever stick it in a corporate environment with 10 gigs of source data and have it work very well. Not to mention trying to get the average developer’s head around how you could possibly have a distributed source control system. To which the Internet trolls say “that’s how we like it”. To which I say “yeah but here in the real world where we don’t sleep in our mom’s basement and we need source control to be, you know, boring.”

Personally I don’t see how on earth I could ever end up with a 6 gig repository. What, are you checking in an entire copy of the Vista and Visual Studio ISO’s?

If you need to have your toolchain or test data in a repository, try putting it in a separate repository. This way it doesn’t fuck up your source code repository, which is designed to store… oh I dunno, source code?

That’s a quote from reddit which is typical of your average “never worked in a corporate environment” hacker. Don’t get me wrong, I’m jealous of people who never worked in a corporate environment but that doesn’t make those of us who have idiots. As it turns out, corporate environments need different things than people hacking on the 42nd version of their Quake ripoff. In the real world, EVERYTHING gets versioned. It’s called CYA and it’s important. Trust me. It just is. And when it’s important, you need a tool that thinks it’s important too. Git just isn’t it.

There will always be new shiny things to keep those of us who need such things entertained. But in the end, tools like Perforce are meant for bigger tasks. As it turns out, they’re actually good at them.

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