Monthly Archives: July 2013

It turns out you can go home again, it just sucks

I'm adapting things from my old broken blog that I can't get working again. So if you've stumbled upon this gem in an earlier form someplace else, which you haven't because no one read my previous blog and no one reads this, you're not crazy. You did kind of read this before, even though I made changes and stuff. And I did go back to another wedding, so it's plenty relevant.

I recently went home for a wedding. It was a good enough wedding, as hometown weddings go. It wasn't dry, which is the usual fatal flaw of the hometown wedding. "God doesn't want us to drink!" is all the explanation you will ever get from the six month pregnant bride for this atrocity, despite the fact that I'm pretty sure that my own personal hell is a eternal dry wedding back with you folks, only with a more fire and less country music. (The legions of hell went on strike for that a thousand years ago. Hail Satan, Vote Union. Honest wages for honest flay).

I knew it was going to be a little bit dull, and that there weren't going to be all that many people still around, but despite my low expectations, I still managed to underestimate just how grim my trip home would be.

The basic problem is this:

1) The price of copper is near an all time high. I don't care if you trade commodities at Goldman Sachs, you will never follow the copper market as closely as the resident of a methed out small town. Think of it like following the price of oil in some yet-to-be-liberated Middle Eastern country - at a certain price point, you know that shit is going to hit the fan and there's nothing you can really do about it. People are going to start tearing it out of every abandoned building they can find to sell for scrap. There are a lot to find in my small town --- they abandoned middle school, the abandoned high school, the abandoned airport, the abandoned shoe factory --- but eventually they run out and start scavenging a little closer to living tissue and people start getting their homes invaded and farmers have to lock up much more than their daughters and their anhydrous.

2) All the good people are gone, all the bad people are still there and have gotten worse. The reason they good people are gone is the same reason I liked them - they had things that they actually wanted to do. Any thing worth doing can only be done someplace else, and so they left. The worst people, who resented anyone who "thought they was better," by, you know, "trying at things" and "learning to read" all have like 8 kids and have been marinating in Fox News paranoia for the past decade or so.

If you've seen Idiocracy, you might have some idea of what this will entail. All the stupid people breed and all the good people die out. You see, not everyone leaves, just the people with ambition and intelligence who, additionally, happen to give a shit.

A better explanation, though, as the intelligence and quality of mankind as a whole remains the same, would be the Dead Sea. All the kids flow down the river Jordan that is high school. The good ones, the water molecules, evaporate with the sunlight, while the stupid people, the salt, remain behind, making the town extra salty and extra shitty.

The problem with this kind of elitism lies in the fact that I'm back here, and that my completely accurate model doesn't jibe with the fact that I'm back here and my own self-important view of myself as a water molecule.

So I'm gonna mix some metaphors. I'm not just a water molecule, I'm also a salmon returning to its home river to spawn. Only I'm not going to spawn because everything is fucking salty, and so all the other fish are dead and I'm going to die too unless I get the hell out of here soon.

I spent a lot of time Googling to no avail, and finally found it. I'm not going to write it out, but this one! This is the one! I am giving you my meager link juice, take it all!

What is a model?

What is a view?

What is a router?

What is a collection?

It has most of the information you would ever want! Yay!

After you read that, then you can look at the official docs which will then totally make sense. Hooray!

Why are you paying to show me Selena Gomez bikini photos it's creepy

What is going on with those links at the bottom of the internet?

I've been seeing a certain genre of trashy links on more and more and publications. If you don't know what I'm talking about, they're the junk at the end of articles, right above or below the comments, or maybe an ad that isn't quite an ad on the side. They're tier of promoted story just below "One Weird Trick to Save Money on car insurance" and "Hairstylists Hate Her" - I don't know why they assume that I'd side with her rather than hairstylists, who in general are pretty nice people probably and wouldn't get too angry unless there was something she did. I say a tier above because they make a kind of sense, in a way. They're clearly making money.

No, the weird ones are the ones with no angle. Why am I being asked to look at Selena Gomez bikini pics? How can you possibly use that to scam money from me? Seniors may be entitled to up to $20,000 from the government, and all you can do is link me to a page that just says "yup, you might be" but doesn't even have any links or signups or anything? I feel like bots have got feral, living on a dead man's credit card, or maybe an Even Blacker Amex that blows the trumpets, opens the seven seals, and brings about the end of the world. They are slowly filling the internet with ads for things that no one reads and no one has written, and once they replicate BuzzFeed they will have no need of us.

David Stockman went full crazy

I'm reading David Stockman's The Great Deformation for the past week or so. I decided on it because I was out of things to read and happened to see it at the airport while trying and failing to fly home for a family reunion. The hardback copy claims to be 768 pages, but they weren't the usual thin, wimpy little pages that publishers reach for whenever they're publishing something of this size - the whispy little tissue papers that say "so sorry for making you read all of thiiiiiis." No. They use full stock construction papoer so you know that you're getting the most book for your book.

This book is not fucking around

Pictured: A Book that is not fucking around

Now I didn't buy that — I got the Kindle version — but I just wanted you to imagine me reading a book that large and image how smart you'd think I was for reading it, and then think I was that smart as I read it on my phone an inch and a half from my face while trying not to suffocate on the L train.

This book will not inform you about economics. I have often asked, "why does Krugman keep writing the same article about how bad austerity and the gold standard are over and over again," and this book is an answer to that — because people those are the way to go,  and they've done an immense amount of crazy research with crazy footnotes that people can cite to believe wrong things.

Maybe I'm small minded, but I can't take it with an open mind. There's a case to be made that actual American capitalism has been replaced with fake capitalism, but once you say the magical words "gold standard" my brain can't handle it anymore. It's like when you're at a family event and your uncle is complaining about people on welfare, and you can at least be vaguely sympathetic — aside from the larger social issues, there is something that does stick just a little bit about working for a living while others don't — but then they start dropping n-bombs and you feel dirty for ever agreeing that it might make more sense as a society to pay unemployment for a shorter time period but provide intensive job training because it's the kind of thing that people say three minutes before referring to Obama as a "half-breed" and defending it as "technically true" when everyone just wants to get drunk at Danny Schuler's wedding.

I'm only a fourth of the way through the book, at least by the percentage — it looks like it'll be heavily footnoted — so there's still more crazy to come if I can bear to write about it again.

The Open Source Soap Opera

There's a mildy famous aphorism that "Starting Rails today is like starting to watch a soap opera in the 7th season." It applies to other technology, too, which is why I was totally at a loss when I tried to figure out a client Javascript framework to start refactoring a jungle of custom routes and hand-rendering code. Of course, you can't just Google for the answer to what-should-I-use kinds of questions because you'll just wind up on an article titled Knockout vs Backbone vs Ember vs Angular vs Dart vs Clojurescript vs Twelve Other Things that doesn't actually recommend anything but just throws up it's hands and says "Why don't you try them all, and see what works for you!"

(If you're thinking about writing a comparison article, you should know that the cop-out is same as telling the reader to go fuck themselves. I don't want to try them all, I want to ship the damn thing.)

I started doing Rails at Castle Ridge Media because I got to pick and I knew that I should either learn Rails or Django. I'd heard Rails was better, but I knew numpy was better than anything in ruby, and my choice ultimately came down to avoiding the soap opera around the transition from python 2 to 3, which, by the way, is still going on, and now I'm two years into a web tech and the stats libraries are atrocious. There are many alleged options, some of which don't compile through gem because they're too special and others that, while technically working, are just c wrappers, and a few others that I've forgotten. All the Google searches for problems with any of them tend to turn up "Problems with x, you should be using y!" kind of answers, which would be great except that all the answers for y tell you to use z or x. Arg, can't get it right either way.

(As I don't like telling people to fuck themselves, I went with Ruby::GSL)