Oops! Something went sideways.

Looks like the styling got goofed up. Sorry about that, unless it's what you wanted. If this isn't what you were looking for, try force refreshing your page. You can do that by pressing Shift + F5, or holding Shift and clicking on the "reload" icon. (It's the weird circle arrow thing "⟳" just above this page, usually next to where it says https://blog.unitedheroes.net...)

isn't quite ashamed enough to present

jr conlin's ink stained banana

:: Lunatic Debate Club

There are some things that i’m willing to say are “non-controversial”.

i don’t believe that the following need to be discussed, in long form, where dissenting ideas need to be heard out.

  • Humans require oxygen.
  • The moon exists.
  • High voltage electricity does not taste like candy.

There are lots of other things that can be proven readily and also do not need to be discussed and rationalized to a dissenting party.

  • JFK, Elvis and Tupac are all dead.
  • The earth is an oblate sphere (“round” also works).
  • Millions, mostly Jews, were killed in the Holocaust of WWII.

It is quite safe to consider anyone who does not hold those facts as true as a lunatic, someone willfully disassociated from reality, and not really worth having a discussion with.

This is not to say that there are some facts that are worth discussion, or that there’s not nuance that can be argued. We can spend hours or days discussing the finer points of how to best reduce global CO2 and other heat trapping gasses. Likewise there are areas that i gleefully state i have no knowledge that i’m happy to learn about, such as the horsepower differences between a hemi vs standard piston v6. Gravity, while undeniable and present for a mighty long time, is still very much an unknown force.

One thing that’s been pretty <Insert multiple expletives here> settled, however, is that brains are brains. i can’t, with any certainty predict your level of musical talent, pool acumen, or skill at balancing dual carburetors by knowing your sex or race. i can’t tell how well you’d solve for X by knowing your nationality. There may be other factors that contribute to your level of skill, including your background or even the way your brain happens to be wired, but none of those hinge on the configuration of your core chromosomes.

And things get even worse when it comes to programming computers.

i have colleagues who have studied computer science for decades who learn new techniques from folks who just started coding a few years ago. Coding is collaborative. If it wasn’t, sites like github or StackOverflow wouldn’t exist. To deny or somehow refute that fact is equivalent to saying that California doesn’t exist.

So here’s one more irrefutable truth along the lines of “Glowing red iron should not be licked”:

  • Race, gender, national origin, sexual preference, language, hair and eye color, number of useful limbs or anything else does not make you a better or worse problem solver. Solving problems makes you a good problem solver.

Everyone has the potential to write code. Should they find it worth while, some will go on to become great coders, and should they have true talent, a very select few will go on to become legendary. They will come from all walks and a few rolls of life. i work on internal plumbing which has zero glory. i kid that i do the digital version of a Dirty Job. If it works, you’ll never know, but when it doesn’t, i will.

And let’s face it; most of us are not writing code that cures cancer or delivers clean drinking water to 60% of the planet. Most of us are writing glorified string manipulators or adding machines. We make electrons and silicon do neat party tricks that turn a profit for someone else. i welcome anyone willing to dive in and help, particularly someone who doesn’t look or think like me for the same reason that i don’t live on only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

So, welcome all you weirdos that want to learn and write code. The days can be long, frustrating, and deeply annoying, but the bursts of pride and accomplishment once things are working are phenomenal. If you love learning and teaching, you will absolutely love this industry. Everyone in the industry started by not knowing how to code and got better. Many have been in that position multiple times as new tech, languages, and designs were created. Find someone who understands that and is willing to help you get better. They had someone do it for them, this is how they can pay that back.

And if you find someone who doesn’t think you could ever do what they do?

Ignore them.

They’re lunatics.

    What do you think, sirs?

    Advertisers! Be sure to read our
    Advertisement Policy!

    :: The Process of Process

    For a while, there was a fad for software engineers to rebel against “Process”.

    They hated the fact that there were rules and procedures for things and wanted the freedom to make code. They wanted to run free among the linkers and cuddle up to garbage collectors, i presume.

    Yeah, i wasn’t one of those types.

    You see, i also cook. i understand that a good meal generally doesn’t happen by wandering into the kitchen and seeing what happens. It involves thinking about what meals you’re going to eat up to a week ago when you’re making a grocery list. It involves setting up a clean workspace, making sure tools are ready, and performing the steps. Mind you, while there’s some “drudgery”, it’s not much, and hey, there’s meat, fire & knives, so that’s a bonus.

    But yeah, one of the keys of good, actually fun, cooking is that “organization will set you free”. Having ingredients ready to go when you need them is amazing. Pinch dishes are cheap as hell and make your life so, so much better. (You can get dozens at the local Goodwill or Dollar Store for just a few bucks.)

    So, yeah, it makes sense that you have some level of process for coding. You want to understand what you’re building, have the tools and tests set up, and then have check lists so you don’t forget something. Because if you don’t you ABSOLUTELY will forget something. Plus, having a checklist is one less thing to spend precious memory dealing with. Heck, pilots have lots of them, and frankly, they help them stay focused on, you know, flying.

    Of course, no process is ever really finalized and all process is subject to review and updating. You should never have to fight a process, it should be smooth and nearly second nature. If a process doesn’t work, it should be changed.

    Sorry, just spent some time creating some additional process in order to capture data that we were ignoring because we forgot to capture it.

    Granted, getting folks to follow process is harder.

    :: Fuck it.

    Right. So, the assholes have won.

    Doesn’t matter where you are, because there’s a lot of assholes and they’ve managed to win. In many respects, i should be proud of them. They’ve worked long and hard to get to the top. They’ve been determined and focused and frankly, it’s paid off for them. So, yeah, now they get to do their happy dances and tell the rest of the world to “Suck it up, buttercup!”

    They’re in charge.

    Let’s be clear. The assholes didn’t win by fluke. It wasn’t just random chance. It was effort that was spent over the last 30 years or so. In the case of the US, this was an entire generation spent planning their win. This was a long game that started after Reagan (yeah, wasn’t a fan then, not a fan now). Still, while family farms failed and we held mega concerts to bail them out, and his cabinet introduced supply side economics that pretty much got the whole wealth inequity business off like a rocket, and we spent insane money on woo-woo defense projects, he was built up as a minor god.

    Don’t get me wrong. i benefited from the Reagan years. My family was doing defense contracting in those years and Reagan basically paid for my college years and my parents retirement. But the way he ended the Cold War was to make Russia realize there was no way in hell they could out-spend us. Wonder why our debt is still insanely high? Hi, mister Reagan!

    And this is where i point out that all the Gen X folk who’ve been so damn quiet fit rather nicely into that 30 year generation. Behold, the fruits of their labor. Behold the generation of helicopter parents that gave us the “Participation Trophies” we all derided. Behold the (confederate) flag wavin’, “i ain’t PC”, Reagan worshipers who have given us the Alt-Right. Behold the generation that found “Long Duk Dong” hi-larious.

    So, instead of following more fantasies about how “we can correct this problem”, screw it. Look, these folks wanted to burn down “the system”. They’re not reasonable. They don’t think about long term consequences, only the concept of “winning”. They are 100% sure they’re being totally rational and justified in being horrible to other humans because They Won.

    So, what can we expect? Well, presume unemployment will go up, particularly in media organizations. These include things like the Internet. If you’ve not already carved out your multi-billion dollar homestead on the digital frontier, expect that it’ll be shut down either by competition, regulation, or just relegated to the dustbin. “Fake News” will be anything that deviates from the declared narrative, so “independent” sites will get shut down fairly regularly.

    Oh, yeah, don’t expect to be able to use Tor, Signal or VPNs. Those will be filtered by either Comcast or AT&T for any number of reasons. (i had originally said “Your ISP”, but yeah, who’s kidding anyone?) Why wouldn’t you want to use your daily Facebook Allowance, citizen?

    Protesting? Yeah, that won’t really make a difference either. Nobody will notice because the assholes won’t talk about it or let anyone know. How much discussion was there about what happened in North Dakota? (And don’t even think that’s actually over and done, yet.) Heck, these are folks who think the Chinese have the right idea. You might feel good about yourself or even take some level of pride in the idea that you were arrested for “Standing Up”. When historians discover your actions in 75 years, i expect that they’ll probably note it.

    Expect whatever money you have to go away. You’ll have income, and might even get a stipend, but then, so did the peasants, so at least there’s a precedent, but unless you’ve got a few tens of millions readily available, you’re not livin’ in the manor house. What income you have will be lost to inflation, health care, and the like.

    Granted, now’s a pretty awful time to buy up beach real estate, but a fantastic time to sell it, but you already knew that.

    Frankly, if you want to see what things are going to be like, just look to Poland.

    So, what to do?

    Well, for one, i plan on trying to continue to act much like i had. i’m nice to people mostly for selfish reasons. (i like to be around happy people.) “Weirdos” and “Freaks” are more interesting than assholes, so i’ll prefer and promote their company when possible. i’ll secure my information as best i can for the same reasons i’ve done it for years. i’ll generally pay cash for things, use bogus affiliate information, and reduce my footprint as much as possible. i’ll watch news from other countries because the assholes they suck up to are different than the assholes here.

    i’ll use various forms of encryption for stuff i give a crap about, and anything really important gets put on paper, only. If i have something crucial to tell someone, i’ll make sure that i either tell them directly (face to face) or use a trusted agent. Like i’ve done for years. Turns out, there’s centuries of rules and protocol around real, paper documents that hasn’t reflected into digital ones. Plus, message encryption is pretty good.

    i plan on having fun trying to find ways to turn the system on itself. Assholes have proven that they can be played like those wind-up monkeys with cymbals. Just need to find the right keys to let ’em go. Unsubstantiated rumor that aligns with most of their core beliefs with just enough subversion to cast doubt seems like a pretty good, well trod road. Bet it might be useful in the wrong hands.

    i am absolutely not giving in to hope. Hope is a drug that keeps you from acting. No need to go full Nihilist, but it’s important to separate wishful thinking from reality. Best to plan for the worst and enjoy the delightful surprise the rare times you’re wrong. Know what does work? Anger. The driving desire to make people as miserable as they are intent to do to you. Frustrate them at every opportunity. Make them angry. Use that anger against themselves. Call ’em “Liberals” because they are about as far from real, honest Conservatism than you can unreasonably get. (They’re defending Russia and China? The birthplace of communism? Where Big Government is absolutely the rule? Shut up you liberal idiot.)

    Best thing to do is be an asshole to assholes. Find ways to ruin their fun. Delight in pointing out when things go horribly wrong for them, because assholes don’t understand empathy, science or really anything other than reaction, so yeah, things are going to go horribly wrong. i have no interest in being “better than them” or “an example they can learn from”. i’ve been down that road. Doesn’t happen. When their crops fail or wells get poisoned, they need to just “Suck it up, Buttercup. Your side won.”

    :: Tech Tips from My Family

    i get it. i’m weird. i understand tech and how it is used and abused. i’m pretty much no longer “in touch” with the modern denizen of the digital frontier suburban sprawl complete with too many Starbucks, nothing but chain restaurants, and both a Walmart and Target across the street from each other. That digital domain.

    i’m willing to believe that my long suffering wife, who’s been dealing with my special brand of paranoia for more than two decades, is also no longer “in touch”. She’s been corrupted and is no longer the perfect bellwether for the general population.

    That’s why i appreciate watching my family over the holidays.

    My father in law has multiple sheets of paper with various online accounts and one of three passwords scrawled on them. He carries those papers everywhere he brings his computer. Recently, he decided to create a document to hold the latest, corrected versions of his passwords.

    Mind you, i showed him, repeatedly, how to get the browser to auto-complete passwords so he wouldn’t have to write those down. i showed him where he could go to see the list of all the accounts and passwords.

    i printed out the password list, then secured the document with one of the three passwords he uses on all of those sites.

    He couldn’t remember which one it was, so he was going to write it down.

    i removed the password from the file.

    He has horrible, albeit reasonably secure passwords. Telling him to use a password manager is useless. He doesn’t have the behaviors to even make that feasible, nor will he ever.

    My sister-in-law pretty much lives on Facebook. i would be deeply astounded if she had any other app on her phone, including one to make calls or show the date. Facebook doesn’t need to create a phone, they already have millions of them.

    These are people who don’t understand privacy or why it matters. They don’t understand security or even how to do it. i could tell my father in law that what he’s doing is the equivalent of putting a spare house key in a planter, but he does that too. i could tell my sister in law that facebook uses all of that information to sell her ads, if she didn’t talk about the great deals she got on stuff.

    These are people who click and open anything that’s sent to them. They do all the stuff that gives me nightmares and see no problem. i’ve tried to talk to them earnestly and they, frankly, don’t care.

    Kinda sad, but at this point, they’re not really welcome on my network. Much the same way that i think i might not be invited back if i used all the guest towels and flushed the entire roll of toilet paper in every bathroom. They get to use the “kiddie” network. The one that i put any untrusted device i don’t want getting access to my live network.

    This is how an army of web cameras took out most of the internet. This is why there are vast botnets at the command of criminal organizations and why ransomware is a thing, and i harbor little if any hope that things will improve. We’re giving highly capable computers with open credentials to folks who proudly refuse to read the manual “quick start” guides.

    The internet was built like how the freeway system was. There’s redundancy, and routing, but also there was a basic assumption that most folks would at least try to follow the rules. Yeah, that’s not happening. Instead we’ve wound up with something more akin to Mad Max where everyone is texting behind the wheel or fishing out a fry from the back seat.

    And here i thought that political discussions were what would make me sad this year.

    :: Anger Issues

    First off, i’m going to lead with this. It’s sweary, so wear headphones if you need to, but regardless of your opinion on the outcome of the 2016 election, you need to watch this:

    Trump and Clinton weren’t the problem. They’re both symptoms. Nearly half of the registered voters didn’t bother to vote because neither were appealing enough to do so. (Yes, voter suppression is a real thing and that played a part of the low turn-out, but not all 100,000,000 people were suppressed. A good percent just didn’t want to vote.)

    And it wasn’t just the “ignorant poors” that voted for Trump, he had votes across the spectrum, including from minorities and women. Folks are angry. Folks aren’t being heard. This is what angry ignored people do.

    Because both sides continually do the same damn thing. We shout at each other. We dismiss any reason that the other side might hold an opinion we disagree with. We’re all delusional from crap like confirmation bias, “No True Scotsman” bias, Learned Helplessness and pretty much all the stuff you can read and listen to about here. And i mean everyone. Myself included. Because i am a mammal that has a brain.

    i lived in Baltimore and West Virginia. In my very limited experience, i’ve seen systems work against people for decades. Poverty is very real and not what you think. So is disenfranchisement. People have reasons for their actions and beliefs.

    Look, right now, as a country… hell, as a species… we have a huge problem. We’re isolated from each other. We’re building walls figurative and literal instead of doing what we’re best at, communicating. Hate comes from ignorance and fear, but it also comes from experience and frustration.

    Turn off the media. It’s lying to you because getting you worked up gets you watching which gets them money from running boner pill ads. (Side note: go watch the news from sites like CBC, BBC and NHK. Ideally, all three. They got horses to run, but in completely different races.)

    Find someone with a differing political opinion, and have a discussion, not a yelling match.
    1) Find common ground as often as possible.
    2) When they voice an opinion or statement you disagree with, find the root of the cause. Ask about experiences they had that lead to this belief. Do not dismiss it the way you wouldn’t want your beliefs dismissed.
    3) Disagree, politely. Do not try to change their mind. Seek understanding not conversion.
    4) If you can tell they’re getting agitated or threatened, take a break and discuss a neutral topic like favorite foods or weather or traffic. Again, find common ground.

    Do this, because that’s what makes America Great.

    And on that note:

    Addendum:
    Let me note that, yes, horrible acts by people embolded for the wrong reasons should be confronted and stopped. Those who are oppressed should be spoken for. It’s going to be messy, horrible, and there’s going to be a lot of tears.

    There will also be people who do not want to talk and hold opinions and beliefs that are repugnant to you. You will not be able to talk to those people. There will be others, however, that are more reasonable. You will be able to talk to them.

    Likewise, i fully recognize that i “look the part” and can speak to folks without raising too many hackles. That’s my goal at least. Understand what motivates and rationalizes the sort of things that lead to what we’re seeing. This is a cancer. You don’t take one pill to cure cancer. You take a lot and hope to hell you’re taking the right ones.

    Blogs of note
    personal Christopher Conlin USMC memoirs of hydrogen guy rhapsodic.org Henriette's Herbal Blog
    geek ultramookie

    Powered by WordPress
    Hosted on Dreamhost.