Riffin’ on Shakespeare

Given the following…

P = A person or persons complaining about Q
Q = Something pointless that P is making a much bigger deal than needs to be

Update the following quote from Shakespeare’s Macbeth as needed to express your frustration or disdain, or both:

[P]‘s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets [P’s article] hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: [Q] is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

For example:

P = My bosses
Q = Putting cover sheets on my TPS reports

[My bosses are] but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets [their] hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: [Putting cover sheets on my TPS reports] is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

There are a few more grammatical tweaks to ensure agreement between the subjects, but helpful nonetheless.

Hacker’s Delight

I have been musing lately about the great disservice Apple did the world by making computers easy to learn — namely the fact that few people ever bother to learn about them. Who bothers to learn about them when, on the iPhone for instance, the case is sealed shut, the lifespan is 1 or 2 years for many purchasers, and the platform is closed in lots of ways?
Complete.org: My boys love 1986 computing

I hadn’t thought of the Mac that way before. I don’t know that I would go so far as to say that they have done everyone a “disservice,” but developing for Apple is not nearly as open or cheap as is developing for Android. Weighing the relative benefits of each is another discussion entirely.

To the point of the article, hacking away on some of my old Macs is something that I am looking forward to after I finish school. Back in the day, when I was plunking along on my Commodore 64, I was either playing cracked games or doing my homework in GEOS. GEOS was what got me to truly realize the computer’s potential, where I did a bunch of papers and art for classes. Even after the requisite computer classes, all I really walked away with was the ability to LOAD "*",8,1 enough to get to games and GEOS.

But now that I am wrapping up my computer science curriculum at school, and mopping up the last of my non-credit requirements, I am looking forward to booting up the original iMac in OS 8 I have sitting downstairs. I still have loads of old software and seeing some of what I missed using it the first time. I’m a different user than I was so many years ago. Sharing all that with the kids is a pleasant bonus.

Ted Cruz might be against how the nation’s telephone system is managed

Ted Cruz had this to say about Net Neutrality:

“Net Neutrality” is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government.

(via Twitter)

Of all the arguments I’ve heard against Net Neutrality, this is the most incoherent and doesn’t hold up to any scrutiny of any kind. For the first sentence, if Ted Cruz is against the proposed Net Neutrality rules because they align with Obamacare, then he is against anything that falls under the FCC’s Title II including the nation’s telephone system. Regardless of one’s position on Obamacare, this is a stupid statement, unless Ted Cruz is against how the nation’s telephone system is managed. About the only overlap I can find between Net Neutrality rules (and FCC Title II in general) and Obamacare is that President Obama sponsored both. Which is probably all we really need to know about Ted Cruz.

The second sentence is even less coherent than the first. If “the speed of government” is meant to be a play on “the speed of business” there are far too many examples of business maintaining the status quo despite all coherent arguments to the contrary—Net Neutrality being a great example—for that statement to be anything meaningful either.

Ultimately, that tweet reads as rhetoric for rhetoric’s sake and not anything actionable on anyone’s part. Which is probably all we really need to know about Ted Cruz.

Medium.com: The 36 People Who Run Wikipedia

Participation and administration works not because anyone is paid or recognized, but apparently because people are authentically interested in the project. In fact, many stewards have expressed adamant opposition to payment. Among the stewards I talked with, satisfaction depended only on the intrinsic nature of the project itself: instant gratification from immediate publishing, the ability to spread knowledge, and learn — and yes, because it is fun.

Yup, the largest and most successful collaborative project in history, the modern center of human knowledge — a radically participatory model for this technologic age — is possible because people find it inherently satisfying to participate.
The 36 People Who Run Wikipedia

It’s an old story but it’s true: loving your work matters in the deepest ways. If you don’t love your work, questioning your motivation is fair, if not required. Those motivations may outweigh any satisfaction derived from your work, but work satisfaction does make for a clear benchmark.

On the flip side of this, however, is that in my first class at school, my professor absolutely drilled it into our heads that Wikipedia is really only good for a very general, broad overview of any topic, a place to find a starting point for deeper learning elsewhere more than anything, and that it cannot be trusted as cited, reference material for an academic paper. For everything that Wikipedia content gets things right, there are enough other things that are wrong, so trusting Wikipedia is next to impossible. For those areas where I have deep knowledge I found it lacking in detail much more than getting things wrong, and that could be argued as being just as bad. Whether or not inaccuracies abound in all areas I can’t really say, but that professor definitely changed our views of Wikipedia in an instant. Wikipedia is still admirable in its ambitions and outcomes, all the same.

“It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God. The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. … Reason and free enquiry are the only effectual agents against error.
Thomas Jefferson


Double-booking your appointments does not necessarily mean you are productive, nor appear busy in a good sense of the term. Double-booking may make you appear productive, but it’s a false economy. In reality, you double-booking makes people around you unproductive. While you are in one meeting getting something done, you likely have people waiting for you to get started in another meeting, or at least have question hanging waiting for you to answer them, should you tear yourself away from your current meeting to attend the other one. Making people wait on you is easily argued as being disrespectful to all those other people as well, because they all have jobs to do, none of which should consist of waiting on one person to get things done (thought, if that is the case, even informally, then there’s a deeper problem with you and your organization). Then by pulling out of the first meeting to go your simultaneous second meeting puts all those people you just left in the same place as the people who are waiting on you. Double-booking basically says that you over-commit; you don’t know how to pick your battles; and it’s time to delegate.

Election Day

  • If you don’t like having your views challenged, then discussing politics (and making grand assertions in general) is not for you.
  • Understanding the ballot measures being provided is vital to making elections work. Coming to a decision isn’t necessary up until the moment you vote. In fact, I would argue that letting things swirl around a bit before coming to a decision is the better option, if only because you will come to a more comfortable, reasoned conclusion. You may come to the same conclusion as your initial impression to the measure and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. But you at least need to understand what voting “Yes” will do and what voting “No” will do. I’ll concede that they way these measures are written is not the best, but then all the more reason to ensure you understand your vote’s influence before going to the voting booth. Also, understanding the measures fully will help ensure that your votes are in line with your day-to-day complaints. For example, if you complain about how your roads are in need of repair, then accidentally voting against tax revenue streams that go directly, by law, to fixing those roads because of you misunderstanding how the measure was written is not a good way to get your complaints addressed.
  • While seeing any party other than Democrat and Republican on the ballot was great—both parties have had their day and I think it’s time we all moved on—I just can’t take seriously anything called “Green-Rainbow.” Sounds like a flavor of Bubblicious bubble gum, and their website is unprofessional in my view. I don’t care how earnest or correct they may be, presentation counts. A lot.

Letters of Note: 1984 vs. Brave New World

The philosophy of the ruling minority in Nineteen Eighty-Four is a sadism which has been carried to its logical conclusion by going beyond sex and denying it. Whether in actual fact the policy of the boot-on-the-face can go on indefinitely seems doubtful. My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World.. . . Within the next generation I believe that the world’s rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience.
Aldous Huxley writing to George Orwell

I’ve posted about Huxley and Orwell in the past, but I never got around to what I said I would do until now: I just downloaded the audio book for Brave New World and will listen to it next week. Better late than never.

Don’t you agree?

Every once in a while, I get an email proposing some decision starting or ending with the phrase “don’t you agree.” Whether the proposal is something I agree with doesn’t matter; sometimes I agree and sometimes I don’t. Either way, I have never liked this phrase for the fact that I feel it puts the receiver immediately on the defensive. By adding “don’t you agree” to a question makes an assumption that the receiver is going to agree but that assumption has a real chance of being false.1 We really have no idea all of what the other person is thinking. Using “don’t you agree” forces the receiver’s hand to defend their position in the real chance that, no, they don’t agree, but now they are compelled to explain why, even on those things that needn’t be explained because the answers are completely obvious, causes needless chatter, could be none of your business, whatever. Forcing an explanation is putting up a last-second hurdle that has to be overcome, no matter how small that may be.

In other words, ending with the phrase “…, don’t you agree?” is a passive-aggressive move in enough contexts that its usage really ought to be avoided should you want to be perceived as someone with whom collaboration is easy. Don’t you agree?

  1. You know what happens when you assume, right? It makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me.”

The Independent: ‘Dear young men: The old stereotypes of what it is to be a “man” are a load of rubbish’

Even though we humans are (thankfully) moving on from seeing ourselves as two distinct kinds of creatures, there’s nothing wrong with being a man and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There’s nothing wrong with doing traditionally “manly” things. Don’t be embarrassed by them. If you want to watch football on Sunday, or train in mixed martial arts, or grow a handlebar moustache, or buy a pickup truck, make no apologies. No, there’s nothing wrong with masculinity – until it’s used as a gauge for measuring and excluding people, whether they’re women or other men, or people who don’t identify as either.
The Independent: ‘Dear young men: The old stereotypes of what it is to be a “man” are a load of rubbish’

This only gets better the further you go. This also came to mind while reading it:

Dear Mr. Vernon

We accept the fact that we had to spend a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong, but we think it’s stupid for you to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us: in the simplest terms with the most convienient definitions. But what we found out is that each of us is a brain, an athlete, a basketcase, a princess, and a criminal. Does that answer your question?

Sincerely Yours,
The Breakfast Club

The more things change, the more things stay the same.