Thoughts of the Day, 2019/Feb/8

Things I’m thinking lately:

Teamwork

You can’t want me to excel and then get in my way.

Well, you can, but you… shouldn’t.

Date Formats

Yes, I find I prefer year/month/day. It’s inherently sortable. It’s also really common in computing, and should be more common.

Headings

I’m trying to switch back to the headings format. It’s easier to read, but not write… but I’m trying to be okay with encouraging easier reading.

Not Twitter

Most of these “thoughts of the day” would be decent tweets, I think, but they might be too long. I’m not sure. I’m not really a Twitter person. The platform tends to de-emphasize nuance too much for my tastes.

Bad Habits

I just realized something unfortunate: when I’m in flow – that creative state where your brain is churning along at full speed on a problem – I have a habit of grazing for food. The more I achieve flow state, the more I want snacks in easy reach. For someone who’s trying to force themselves back into some semblance of decent shape, that’s not good.

Volt, considering moving away from WordPress

Ah, new things and directions….

  • Someone on IRC this morning mentioned Volt.ws, a messaging client available for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. It’s really tiny. It’s also missing a lot of functionality still, but it can connect to Slack… and it’s tiny. It still doesn’t support Slack private messages, but once it gets those (which should be in February 2019) it might be my preferred Slack client, over Slack’s own and Franz… because Slack’s client is awful on system resources and Franz is worse, despite being a better client.
  • I have been trying to figure out ways to move on from WordPress. It’s not really WordPress’ fault… I want Asciidoctor support, for one thing, and I’m rather disheartened at relying on an application written in PHP. But the alternatives require more time than I have right now, and I’m really not thinking I could personally design a good user interface if I wrote my own software. I’ve considered Jekyll and Hugo, but I’d really want to work out the comments mechanism before moving on. Plus, I am used to running software live; a static site feels odd.
  • I wonder how many programming advances have been created in an attempt to simply avoid boredom on the part of the programmer.
  • I’ve been considering trying to echo these things on Medium just to see what the differences in exposure would be.

Outrage on Social Media articles; State of the Union

Things I’m thinking about, after switching back to a list-based list of thoughts because Gutenberg headers annoy me:

  • Gutenberg headers annoy me. I’m thinking of switching back to my comfortable editing process where I’m not constantly griping about my editor. It’s a flow thing.
  • Good article from Medium, paywalled (so if you don’t have a Medium account that you pay for – it’s $5/month – you may have to open this in a private window): The Power of Not Retweeting. Both the article and the subject are recommended. It’s very easy to be outraged by something that lacks context, and the context might make all the difference in how you actually react – but by the time you get context, it’s too late, you’ve committed your reaction to history and told all your friends.
  • Another excellent Medium article, this time from the New York Times’ Medium account: This Is Your Brain Off Facebook. It’s a little ironic that the NYT published this, given how manipulative they are for their readers… but the king of manipulation is still CNN in my opinion. Those guys should be ashamed. Their editors should be doubly ashamed.
  • I did not watch the State of the Union, but having people tell me that I shouldn’t watch it as a form of protest annoyed me and tempted me to endure the farce anyway. I want our politicians to love country over party, and that’s… not what we have right now.
  • Why didn’t I want to watch the State of the Union? Lots of reasons:
    • It’s Trump. His mode of speaking annoys me greatly. His inability to stay on topic annoys me. His stupid self-propping annoys me. I used to think George W. Bush wasn’t a particularly effective speaker because he always seemed to be searching for words – and now I find that I’d far prefer a President who actually searched for the right words to one who blathers out whatever foolish crap crosses his brain at any given time.
    • Do I need another reason? Oh, yeah.
    • The endless politicization of everything, and the seeming need to turn everything into a protest. I’m all for protesting police brutality, but sometimes a football game (or a State of the Union address) is … just a football game, and the protests don’t really make a difference besides signalling.
    • Circling back: I don’t trust Trump… or his opponents. They both lie. They both choose truths based on what plays to their bases. What’s funny is that Trump told us what he’d do in his campaign… and he’s actually held to that pretty strongly, for better or for worse. That’s somewhat commendable. His political opponents are changing their long-held opinions on lots of things just so they can oppose Trump – I’ve said before that he should just start echoing their campaign positions just to force them to change stances.
    • This is a lot less relevant of a list than I thought it might be.
    • Every State of the Union I’ve ever watched has bored me! There, there’s my best reason right there.

Super Bowl, Commercials, Gutenberg Headings

Okay, I’m going to try the header format thing again, because it’s something new and different (for me) in WordPress’ Medium-style editor. But here are the things I’m thinking about:

The Super Bowl

I tried to think of a cute pun for the title, but “The Super Bah” was dumb. I came up with others, but that’s still the best of them, and it’s not any good.

The Super Bowl, Part II

You let us down, Jared. I kept thinking you were a University of Georgia graduate too (just like Todd Gurley, the stud running back who was underused during the game).

Why did I think you were a Georgia QB? Because you kinda sucked on the biggest stage football has. You killed your team, Jared. You killed your team.

The only saving grace for the Rams was that the refs rather clearly wanted the Patriots to win, with a runner being called “defenseless” after he caught the ball, to preserve a drive when the Rams’ impressive defense got a critical and impressive stop.

I enjoy defensive battles… but this was a battle of a good defense against a good offense (when New England had the ball) and a good defense against an overmatched toddler (when Los Angeles had the ball.)

I wish the refs hadn’t given the Rams the win against New Orleans.

(After rereading this section, I sound a lot angrier than I actually am – I was neutral about the game, and thought mostly that Jared Goff was outmatched, as he apparently was. I’m okay with the Patriots winning; they earned it. The Rams defense was stellar. The offense was… less than stellar.)

Best Commercial

The best commercial of the night was a local one, for Michael and Sons, an HVAC company local to the Virginia area.

It had two football players (kids, like pre-teens), with one “tackling” the other – pretty gently, it was like they told him to push the other one down – and, after the tackle, a thrown ball hits the tackler in the backside. The ref then waves “incomplete pass!” — just like the Saints/Rams refs, except with a parody.

We’re not normally Michael and Sons customers – not only was our home built with a different HVAC company, but we actually know the owner of yet another HVAC company – but dang, that commercial was so on point that we talked about switching.

Hopefully a video will show up online of that commercial (and hopefully I remember to look for it so I can link to it.)

The ASMR commercial was the other notable commercial. Apparently people were creeped out by it. I don’t know – I found it fascinating, mostly because I didn’t recognize the ASMR aspect of it until later. But it was for a … beer, I think, so maybe as a commercial it was intriguing but not all that effective, because I might switch HVAC companies but I am not drinking that beer.

Gutenberg

Now that I’ve used the heading stuff in WordPress’ editor, my first impression is that I do not like it. I’ve been trying to give this editor a spin for a while, to give it a fair shake… and while it has some nice features (pasting a URL over selected text converts it to a link!) it’s mostly annoying

Open Source Blog Software

I keep wanting to move away from WordPress, because I’ve been using it forever and I keep thinking there’s a Platonic ideal that isn’t WordPress.

However, most of them are in PHP – violating the Platonic ideal – and the ones that remain are either static site generators (Jekyll, Hugo) or node.js implementations (ghost), or things that are documented really inconsistently (typo/publify). I thought about roller, but…

Intersections with Politics

Things I’m thinking about:

I’m changing the format up today, because one of the entries is longer than usual.

Trump and the Patriots

It’s really annoying that people are mad at the New England Patriots because Trump likes them. I dislike the Patriots myself – I nearly cost myself a job after they lost to the Giants – but for people to root against them just because of Trump speaks to a lack of basic reasoning on their parts. I don’t like thinking that my fellow humans are idiots. They’re acting like idiots.

Redemption is Being Considered Impossible

Speaking of politics, this thing with the governor of Virginia is making me angry.

Look, I’m not here to excuse the governor’s… anything. I don’t know exactly what happened; I think he’s been accused of being in either blackface or a KKK hood in an unidentified picture from a yearbook in 1984, and as I understand it, first he confirmed it, then denied it, then apologized, or… something.

Being in blackface is dumb. Being in a KKK hood is even dumber. Let’s get that out of the way immediately; I can’t condone either one, and won’t, even as a joke. Jokes are supposed to be funny, not threatening or harmful. Whoever was in the picture really should be ashamed of it, period, whether it was meant seriously or in jest.

But here’s the thing: it was in 1984. Thirty-four years ago! When he was a student! He may have been an idiot then – but who is he now?

With all the outrage, is the assertion that he’s a racist today? That’s what it looks like and should be. “Resign because you did something dumb 34 years ago” is… an idiotic thing to say, no matter what party he’s a member of (Democrat, if you’re curious) or what party the ones crying for him to resign are members of (both Democrat and Republican).

The implication is something we’ve seen shadows of before: There is no such thing as redemption. We’ve seen it mostly from the Left, although the Right is starting to pick it up as a useful political tool.

But the Left had better watch itself, very carefully… because if there’s no such thing as redemption, the Democratic Party itself is damned.

This is the party that fought for slavery… and after slavery was made illegal, overthrew the Republican government in North Carolina to restore the old order.

If there’s no redemption possible, then what in the world would make the Democrats think they can ever remove that stain from their history? They’re saying people can’t change – in 34 years, Governor Northam can’t have changed how he views people with different skin colors, Brett Kavanaugh can’t have become a decent man since he was in high school, and so forth. (Apparently Bill Clinton’s the only human being for whom redemption is a thing?)

If people can’t change, then people who claim the label associated with slavery are endorsing slavery. That’s the Democratic party, folks. There’s no sea change possible, is what they’re saying… and they chose a label that is by their own declaration and action irrevocably associated with endorsing slavery.

We’ve hit the slippery slope. Pandora’s Box has been opened, as I feared… I just hope that the cancer it represents eats its way to the extremes and leaves the middle confused but otherwise unaffected… until the extremes are eliminated and the middle ground can take care of its own with love and reason again.

Impressions

Things I think about sometimes:

  • I love the idea of being someone who might be described like “He only cares about the things that matter,” except loving that particular idea means that I… care about things that don’t matter. Darn it.
  • My DJ name is rather obvious: “43rd to the Q.”
  • Finally got a new phone! I’m thrilled – now I expect to make and receive calls consistently. I’m happy enough with it that I actually ordered a specialty case from Carved. Of course, now I’ve got to learn to use it again…
  • The culture we’re engendering, where being called out is a threat from every vector, is incredibly dangerous. But people keep feeding the mindset, because calling people out is fun, satisfying, rewarding… it’s “speaking truth to power,” ignoring a basic truth: we’re ALL guilty when the metric isn’t fixed and history remembers everything. The wheel turns, folks. If you see something offensive, especially if it’s from “the past” – which might be as recent as a few years ago, given Internet time – you might want to scowl to yourself and say “… people!” privately, instead of howling publicly…. because the beast that howls is coming for you, too. It’s coming for you, too. My goodness, we have people apologizing for having been born now.

Busy, new music, Getting Things Done, data import

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. I’ve been busy. But now that I’m here…

  • I’m still not thrilled with the Gutenberg editor. It’s okay, but I just don’t care for it.
  • I’ve been working on music, and that’s been eating what time I have left after work and family, so I haven’t been writing much. This is a problem; the whole point behind these is that I should be able to fire them off pretty quickly and easily. It’s a brittle process.
  • A friend suggested Todoist, over Agenda. Will have to try it again. There are tons of GTD-like to-do applications, and all of them so far get it slightly wrong for me… or maybe I’m not integrating them well enough yet. Agenda’s pretty good but Mac-only. Until I’ve purged every other OS from my work environment, that’s… ungood. (And I’m not going to purge every other OS from my work environment.)
  • Running a giant data import is great, until you realize you’ve done it wrong but you’re already a long time into a giant, days-long process.

Blogging, getting wordpress running properly on Ubuntu

Things I’m thinking and feeling:

  • I really don’t “blog” all that much. I record, I guess, and that’s sort of a “web log,” but I really don’t expose much of my innermost feelings – it’s like observations with a mirror in the way. I’ve always been that way when I write. Always.
  • Today I’m going to try something different.
  • I feel horribly sad today. Not really empty, not really morose, just… not even tired, but mournful, and I don’t even really know what it is I’m mourning. Maybe it’s memory, all the memories I feel like I could have had but don’t, maybe it’s the memories I do have but shouldn’t. Maybe I’m mourning the fact that I don’t know if I’m what I should be. But today, Me, I’m down. I’m not feeling bad, I’m just down.
  • I finally fixed some problems with my WordPress installation. When I upgraded to Ubuntu 18.04 on my server, apparently some PHP plugins didn’t get installed/migrated/somethinged – I went to a page on installing the LEMP stack on Ubuntu, installed the system dependencies, and lo and behold, things started working better again. Annoying, because this stuff’s been broken for a long time. Now if WordPress would only track the same hits that I see in access logs…
  • After a long dry spell, I’ve been writing poetry again. This is a good thing, but as usual my poetry is inspired by my mood, which is not a good thing. Oh, well. Maybe some of it will be worth publishing.
  • I also finally have been grinding my way through some new-ish music. Hurray.
  • I wonder if CNN – or any other news source, really – would be improved if you removed all the adjectives and subsidiary clauses. Some important information would get lost, but honestly? Most of the adjectives and subordinate clauses are used by the “journalists” to insert their opinions into the news, to sanitize it for the tribe most likely to read that particular bit… or enrage the tribe for which the bit isn’t targeted.

Lorelai, Maven changelog plugin, the government shutdown

Things I have travelled across:

  • github-issues-maven-plugin generates a markdown file with a list of closed issues for a target milestone. Useful for creating release notes.
  • The death of a child is always heart-wrenching. 🙁 Rest in peace, little one, even though I only knew you through friends of friends.
  • Bless social media for bringing people together… except social media as a benefit assumes that people are basically good. If we can learn anything from the arc of human history, it’s that many people are basically good… and the bad actors ruin it for everyone. Social media is affected negatively by the presence of a few bad actors, and there’s no real way to fix it that I can see. Every fix is worse than the original problem.
  • I don’t quite understand why people are feeling victorious over Trump ending the government shutdown: all this means is that – for once – he adulted first. He, unlike his political opponents, managed to put the good of the country above his political aims. Sure, it was late… but he still got there first. Way to “win,” Democrats?

Afoot!, football refs, music books

Things I’m thinking:

  • If I was a detective, or if I was writing a detective story, I’d never have someone say “The game is afoot!” … Why? Glad I asked.
    • Because “afoot” is a terrible name for a game. I get that there are games based on “Dr. Pimple Popper” and stuff, but “Afoot, the Game” is just… too far.
    • If it’s NOT the name of a game, then … you’re risking stepping on whatever game it is you’re talking about. Detectives detect. They don’t step on what they’re hunting. That changes them from detectives to … step-upon-ers.
    • Again, if you’re a detective and you’re on a case – it’s not a game! Take your job seriously, detective! Sheesh!
  • As bad as I feel for the Saints, I’m glad the NFL is going to have to confront officiating in some fashion. Refs have really struggled these past two years on both the collegiate and pro levels, with fans being able to see things that really should have been called being missed, and refs focusing on ticky-tack things instead… I almost hope there’s a “voice of the watchers” kind of reviewer put in place, someone who says, “Look, a four-year-old can see that. Throw the flag,” or “If you’re going to call THAT, you’re going to have to call THIS, too,” or even “If you’re NOT going to call that, you shouldn’t be calling this.”
  • I’ve done no music of any kind for a while now. This is getting distressing, and I need to change it.
  • Speaking of: limited time offer from Humble Bundle: Computer Music Books from MIT Press.