31 October, 2006

work rant

i hate working on code written by consultants. why? because they don't always know what the fuck they are doing. nor does anyone else know what the fuck they did.

the problem i face is the necessary assumption that what i was given as a base was functioning correctly. i fear that assumption is, unfortunately, false.

it doesn't help that the design of these host systems sucks. really, really just sucks. why, for instance, create a spouse segment, and then store the spouse information in the "additional insured" segment? and if you decide to treat a spouse just like a second insured, why not get rid of the obsolete record layouts? fer fuck's sake, why is deleting so god damn difficult? isn't that what versioning tools are for? to retrieve stuff that might have been deleted if you find you still need it?

perhaps i'm anal. perhaps it's because i learned from anal people. but well-structured code is much easier to figure out. consistency. spacing on the lines. neat and tidy. so much easier. and jesus, why is every freaking working storage variable an 01 level? did they just want to make initialization more of a pain?

i hate this. i wish i could have written it from scratch. there are vast swaths of commented out code. why? why? for me to make any sense of what's going on, i have to clean it up. waste of my time, frankly.

ugh, i sound like one of those sticklers for standards. but, frankly, if you aren't going to be the only one working on a module, they help.

23 October, 2006

slightly geologic poetry

pers, august, keifus...this is all your fault.

Michelangelo Speaks to the David

You stand there, enslabbed,
lithic and waiting, an eon
old image: shepherd, young
king. So with chisel in hand
I will rend you bones
from earth into stone
and unvein you from marble.
Loosen your arm and sling
so to God again you sing
of awe, in marvel.


minor edits/tweaks: oct 24

Michelangelo Speaks to the David

You stand there, enslabbed,
lithic and waiting, an eon-
old image: shepherd, young
king. So with chisel in hand
I will rend you bones
from earth into stone
and unvein you from marble,
loosen your arm and sling
so to God again you sing
of awe, in marvel.

EDIT: Nov 6

this is the final, i think

Michelangelo Speaks to the David

You stand there, enslabbed,
lithic and waiting, an eon-
old image: shepherd, young
king. So with chisel in hand
I will rend you bones
from earth into stone
and unvein you from marble,
unloose your arm and sling
so to God again you sing
of awe, in marvel.

lovecraft and the movies

what is it about lovecraft stories that inspires people to make such terrible movies from them?

halloween is nearly upon us, so it's time to watch creepy movies. so, whilst scanning what was on, my lovely pers selected "beyond the walls of sleep", noting it was an adaptation of lovecraft's story, and knowing that i thourghly enjoy reading lovecraft. awfully kind and thoughtful of her. however, the look of dismay and disgust that overwhelmed my face after about 2 minutes of watching that dreck quickly resulted in us watching "the omen" instead.

there were two grievious fault in the film: one forgivable, one not. the forgiveable fault was that it was just plain bad. a prime example of the downside of inexpensive and easily available digital cameras. while they do allow for talented filmmakers to show their potential, without having to have much in the way of a budget, they also allow the same opportunity to hacks with willing friends. note to all young, aspiring film makers: spastic cuts and editing do NOT bestow an atmosphere of horror and suspense. they just irritate, annoy, and occassionally cause seizures. we won't comment on the acting, because there wasn't any.

the unforgivable sin though, what what these assholes tried to do to lovecraft. i think they were trying to make the story hip and modern. lovecraft is not hip. lovecraft is certainly not modern (no lovecraftian character would ever call someone a cunt). certainly there are faults in his work (racism, sexism, a tendency towards purple prose, having inspired far too many hack imitations, etc.). however, they are still a pleasure to read. much of that pleasure is derived from the peculiar lovecraftian elements of his writing. high on the list here is setting. lovecraft is one of those rare writers whose work must remain rooted in it's time and place. just doesn't work otherwise. the turn of the century atmosphere is important, because it defines the character of his protaganists. who are dillatantes; amatuer scientists and men of "society". thoughtful, sensitve souls capable of attuning to the eldritch mysteries of the cosmos. lovecraft's heros faint, often as a result of their exposure to blasphemies from beyond the stars. they are not men of action, they are men of thought and theory (for the most part).

moreover, his brand of horror depends on what you do not see, not what is shown. the indescribable, the unnameable. actually, most good horror works off of this. it is what we don't see, don't know, don't understand that terrifies us. once the horror has been defined, it loses some of its power.

so what do people do with this? try to make slasher flicks. it's just plain wrong.

it's not hard to figure out what makes lovecraft enjoyable. what i cannot figure out is why filmmakers try to change it.

20 October, 2006

continuing discussions with august

the issue at hand was transformation vs. rearrangement, and I asked you about igneous v. metamorphic rocks. How do they work? How do scientists distinguish different degrees of change? Is this model a helpful metaphor for talking about human change?

as you likely know, there are three major groupings of rock: igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic. you mention only igenous and metamorphic, but we really have to dicuss all three. igenous rock is primal and primary. that is, it is formed by cooling magma, either extrusively (ie: basalt) or intrusively (ie: granite). thus, as the earth first began to cool and form a crust, the first rock type to exist was igneous. sedimentary rock is formed from the lithification of eroded igneous and metamorphic rock; metamorphic rock is formed by the alteration by heat and/or pressure of igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic rock.

in a way, it's like heraclitus's river, again. the instance changes, but what underlies is the same. consider marble and limestone. chemically, they are identical: calcium carbonate. yet, marble is metamorphized limestone. what changes? crystal structure. however, that simple change has a profound effect.

granted, this is but one example of metamorphism. a simple one at that, as there is no alteration mineralogically. heat and pressure are extremely important factors in the crystalization of minerals. but, i suppose to say there is only rearrangement, not change is, while accurate, incorrect. that does imply there is no change at all in the universe.

as far as metaphor goes, i'm unsure. one could consider humanity as a base, with culture acting as a metamorphizing force. but that feels wrong to me. i think of culture more as clothing. changing clothes doesn't change the person wearing them, but it can and does change the perception of that person.

12 October, 2006

just for you claude

i'm watching the mets game.

granted, i am hoping they lose...

11 October, 2006

the internet hasn't changed the world

in response to this article on slate

actually, the world really hasn't changed much in millenia, if by "world" you mean human nature and civilization.

certainly an aspect of our world has been changed: communication. it's easier to communicate and be informed of events across great distances. however, this improved communication hasn't changed what those events are. it hasn't change what we are communicating about.

even romancing a woman 600 miles away, through the written word, is nothing new. people have been doing that for hundreds of years. they just had to write letters instead of text messages and emails. the act might have taken longer, but it was essentially the same.

what has changed, what continually changes, is technology. but remember, technology is simply our tool-set. humans are tool makers; this is an inherent, instinctive activity for us. thus we are always creating and improving upon our tools. even the reaction to new technology is the same: embraced as essential and common by the young (particularly those who grow up with it) whilst handled with a bit of trepidation and slight awe (in some cases) by those older, who grew up without these things. so, in walter's case, all these things would be going on simultaneously regardless of his knowledge of them. the only difference our brave new world has brought is the ability to access all of that information, as it happens. one doesn't even have to do that.

heraclitus claimed one could never step in the same river twice. he was both right and wrong. certainly, the exact water constantly changes; however, a river is more than just water. it is the channel, the stream bed, the banks, rocks in the course of the stream, falls, the flora on the banks, the fauna in the water. a part of the river may be in constant flux, but the river, as a whole, is fairly constant. so to with the human world. aspects change all the time, with great rapidity. fashion, technology, language, customs all fall in and out of common use. yet, the concerns of humans, the desires, needs, hopes remain remarkably consistent. so what has changed? not the world, but the means of interacting with it.

does this mean the end of the novel? of course not. if there is one constant of human nature, it is our love of discussing ourselves. even if we never really change. the novel will continue, and will, like other aspects of the human world, undergo superfical changes to reflect the superficial changes in society. but the core will remain untouched. because for all our changes, people never do change, do they?

06 October, 2006

beta testing

just in case you were wondering why the layout is somewhat changed, tags have appeared and not everything works quite properly. i've gone beta, baby!

anyway, the new template editing is okay, but i never minded meddling with the html. tags can be useful if i remember to use them, and once i get past, say, 20 posts. granted, all of 5 or so people even look at this page, so just remember folks, this organization is for you!.

kind of irritating that the help section for the beta version, when telling you how to post pictures, directs you to software that doesn't work with the beta version. ah well. good thing i don't really do that.

just in case you had jack shit to do...

not only is there a christie's auction of star trek memorbillia, but you can actually watch a webcast of it. just in case you're curious as to the sort of geeks buying this stuff.

my guess? a largely empty room, cause everyone bid online. if i'm wrong, anyone who calls me on it gets a bright, shiny nickel.

EDIT: update, 4:48PM. okay, it's strangely fascinating.

04 October, 2006

And a Merry-happy Hallowthankchristoweenmasgiving to you!

yes folks, it's october. for sensible folks (such as ye, thee and me) it means the leaves are starting to turn, the playoffs are under way (lacking the bosox, a fact that really requires an entire post to vent about), apple picking, cider, hayrides, bountiful harvest veggies, autumn and octoberfest brews and breaking out the flannel shirts (well, not today, cause it's like 80° or so, but i digress).

for retailers and retail marketing, however, it's time for their favorite orgy of consumerism. yes, we've passed through back-to-school season, and also through oh shit! i forgot stuff for school season. we've had a week's breather or so. but no more. once more, we plunge into the absurdity of Hallowthankchristoweenmasgiving!

sure, some might call it "the holiday season". but frankly, that's a dull term. nor does it capture the spirit of the true horror lurking in malls and shopping centers across the states. whereas hallowthankchristoweenmasgiving encapsulates precisely what this time of year has devolved into.

many moons ago, there were two major american holidays towards the end of the year. christmas, in late december, and thanksgiving, in late november. thanksgiving was easy enough to prepare for: turkey, lots of potatoes, cranberry sauce and plenty of alcohol. sure, there were other side dishes, but no one cared much for them. all that was required to properly celebrate was eating too much, drinking too much and then falling asleep whilst watching football.

christmas required getting presents and possibly going to church, on top of the overeating and overdrinking. but you didn't have to start shopping till about the 15th of december.

many moons ago, halloween was for kids and drunk students (with eggs and tp). you'd get some candy the day before to hand out. that's all. a blip.

but now, well, things are different. halloween has become a Holiday. granted, i can't say i totally disapprove, as it is deliciously pagan. however, one is expected to decorate houses (inside and out) with offical halloween crap. costume stores spring up everwhere. if you don't buy candy three weeks out, you're shit out of luck. it has become A Big Deal.

thanksgiving has morphed too. people are paying attention to the sides. instead of using the good china, you have the specific (oft turkey shaped) thanksgiving china.

ah, and christmas has just grown, since it's hostile takeover of hannukah. christmas shopping these days, should be finished sometime early november. and it's one after the other. the trappings at the altars of commerce don't just follow each other, they have begun to overlap. i'd not be surprised to see santa dressed as a ghost, being given turkey as a treat.

yes, we can no longer seperate them. it's hallowthankchristoweenmasgiving. and it's only going to get worse.

03 October, 2006

reports of my demise

have been greatly exgagerated.

okay, so only one report, and not me but this blog. it's still here, so if you can see it, comment. if you can't, well, then you can't see this: :-P