MSM Status

I guess sometimes we all benefit when billionaires get into a pissing match.

twitter.com/jeffbarr/…

Excelsior.

I glean from this story further evidence that the institutions our culture has built “work” only out of sheer bulk and inertia and fail catastrophically far too often. The 3rd largest cause of death in the US is medical error? Horrific. Losing Laura from The Boston Globe. 📚

Halloween has passed for the year, but here’s something creepy to read anyway: Thinking Outside the Casket on The Nib. 📚

Also, meetings are now facilitated by Mr. Grandy, who also teaches gym class and Driver’s Ed and who has worn the same dark blue windbreaker twenty-two semesters in a row. Mr. Grandy doesn’t want to catch any of you punks spitballing in here, either.

Today’s poem for you to read: Reach, by Natasha Trethewey. Also, go vote if you haven’t already, preferably for the side not trying to lead us into extinction. 📚

Today’s outrage: A Cryptocurrency Millionaire Wants to Build a Utopia in Nevada. I fear many will find the end of this gilt-edged age horriffic. What a colossal misdirection of resources.

Today’s comic: Magic on Deck by Andrew Greenstone. Like many white dudes my age, I’ve owned some Magic cards, but I never got into the game beyond playing once or twice, and I’m unsure how I feel about that much energy expended on it.

Today’s story: Empty Box by Robert Maas. The DSF stories have hit a bit harder lately, seems to me. 📚

Happy Halloween.

Today’s required reading: The Souls of Latarian Milton by Donald Quist. 📚

Hadn’t spent any time on Webtoons until Colleen Doran & Warren Ellis started publishing on it. Dunno if this was intended to draw old farts like me to the site, but I’m enjoying it. Finality 📚

Always a good day when a new Wild Cards story arrives. Fitting In by Max Gladstone. 📚

Just bring back streetcars, light rail, and interstate train lines, for pete’s freaking sake. Please? Apple files patent for linking battery packs between moving electric vehicles

You should read a poem every day. Here’s one for Chicago(f)ans: Loveable Losers by Rachel M. Simon 📚

Also, Enterpise Tech Company, why are you still returning strings like “/Date(1530145000000+0530)/” in your JSON responses in 2018? Stop trying to make that a thing.

I’d largely forgotten what working with enterprise tech was like. HTTP API methods named “GetWhatever” that require empty “POST” bodies. API Docs sent as Word files. Conference calls with 14 people from 4 companies. Like coming home, if home were a Superfund site on fire.

It ain’t the most elegant written thing, but then these ain’t the most elegant times, either: My Day With the Donald, a modern American tall tale by Jeff Cuffee in Heavy Feather Review. 📚

What I'm thinking about today: constraints and accountability

On a recent episode of ComicLab, Jake Parker of Inktober.com suggested that constraints and accountability make for better art. The former I have long agreed with, which is why I prefer writing flash (non)fiction to traditional stories now. The latter I had not considered as much, but thinking about it, I do realize I write better work with a deadline in place or a group expecting to see the work, or preferably both.

I suspect this is also true for writing software. In the past, constraints would have provided some of the drive behind the Amiga demoscene, QRP radio operation, circuit bending hacks. Today, we play Perl Golf, or run JS1k competitions.

Without constraints and accountability, I think we risk indulgent art. I am certain we risk indulgent programming. You hold in your pocket more computing power than the whole planet used in WWII, and yet the applications on that device and the services they talk to are more a collection of bloated practices than elegance or correctness. In art, or at least in the art I’m most familiar with, we see doorstop-sized tomes of fantasy retreads, or endless series of comfortable episodic mind candy.

Constraints and accountablility could be read as code words for the threats of scarcity and violence. I do like my episodic mind candy, and I do use my phone and tablet and laptop as much as any other 21st century screen junkie. I wouldn’t want to enforce constraint for moral reasons. I would not want accountability in these fields to come with the threat of deprivation of any sort.

But I do wonder what better practice can arise from the intentional, explicit identification and application of constraints, and the identification and consideration of accountability in both writing and programming.

Today’s 21st Century fiction: Flyover Country by Tim Maughn. A couple of years old, but fresh as a new wound.

A little podcast experiment with HuffDuffer and the WFMU 365 audio oddities: https://huffduffer.com/michaelsmanley 🎙

Tried the Go 1.11 modules feature today on the main codebase at work. Everything migrated from dep with zero problems. Everything just worked. No more vendor directory, and I moved the project out of $GOPATH into a place that makes more sense for my workflow. Nice work, Gophers.

In case anyone wants to know why people are picketing the Lyric Opera building, it appears that the organization would prefer to be an opera company in name only. Maybe if they used the blockchain or innovated to disrupt operatics, our culture would value them.

Sometimes you get burned by a recipe that should work even when you fix its wonky ratios (1/2 tsp paprika? 1/4 c broth? 6 freaking cups of rice?). Guess what my lunch is this week.

And this is when you know it might be time to unsubscribe to a newsletter.